Thank you for visiting! Walking the Walk is meant to be a source to assist you in your quest for a healthy, balanced lifestyle. Through my own lifestyle, I hope to give you creative ideas that make adopting a healthier, more holistic lifestyle as enjoyable and easy for you as possible!

Friday, December 28, 2012

Happiness Prescription

With the forthcoming New Year close at hand, this is often a time for reflection and change, commonly referred to as resolutions.  Interestingly, this is the first year that I do not have any resolutions.

No, I did not become magically perfect over night; I am happy to report that I am still human and still learning from my mistakes daily.  This year is different, however, because since May 2012 I have been following a particular prescription for happiness that is working so well that for the first time in my life, resolutions do not seem necessary.  I'm still being carried forward by the momentum of change that I successfully implemented those 8 short months ago.

Now I've got you all hooked, haven't I?  Who wouldn't want to break out of the habit of forming resolutions that will inevitably dissolve within a matter of months (sometimes weeks) and leave you feeling like a failure? Well,  I'm happy to tell you that it's quite easy to change a habit-you only have to do a new task for 21 days in a row before it naturally becomes part of your routine.  I guess the hardest part is simply making the commitment to start, so lets not delay and begin now!

The Happiness Prescription is actually a small list of more than 1 habit to change, so for the sake of ease, I will be introducing 1 thing every 21 days.  New things can be overwhelming in their simplest form, so lets start slow and take it one day at a time.

Happiness Task #1
What: At the end of each day, you will write down 3 things you are grateful for that occurred in the past 24 hours.  Everyday they must be new things and there must always be exactly 3; no more and no less.
Why: By training your brain to pick out 3 positives over the course of a day, after 21 days it will become a habit for you to automatically look for the positives in life as opposed to the negatives.  This is huge, since we live in a very negative-focused society.  Think about it, when was the last time you heard a positive story on the evening news?
How: I have a special journal I have decorated and deemed my "Gratitude Journal".  It lives on my night table and every evening at the same time, right before bed, I write down the 3 things I am grateful for from that day.  Having an official book and time period in which to perform this task makes it more likely that you will complete it.  Remember, it's only for 21 days! Anyone can do almost any task for only 21 days....

Good luck and have a grateful day!

Mad Calgary Love

I am continually amazed at how charmed my life is.  Last night, I had the incredible blessing of spending an evening with very dear, old friends of the family at their house on the lake.  They love to throw an annual Christmas party which is always a huge hit.  Not only was I surrounded by those I loved but I was also able to make new friends with some very interesting people (one of which had climbed Mount Everest!).  Taking full advantage of the very frozen lake, I brought my skates (and ear muffs, toque, scarf and wooly sweater) and *attempted* to play a game of hockey with the other party guests.  A winter evening full of laughter, fun and love is exactly what I needed after months of being homesick for my hometown.

My sister couldn't stop laughing at how ridiculously happy and bundled up I was

After the skating party, we warmed up in front of the roaring fire while a particularly talented party guest serenaded us on the grande piano.  'Hey Jude' never sounded so wonderful.

Have a toasty day!

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Bitten by the Holiday Fever

Agaricus is the homeopathic remedy that treats frostbite.  Unfortunately, I do not have any on hand, which wasn't the wisest decision I've ever made since I am back at home for Christmas and the average daily temperature is -25*C.  Brrrrrrrrrr......

Yes, I left the drizzling, mild Toronto weather on Christmas Eve to arrive in a freezing cold winter wonderland that is Calgary.  Here are some pictures from my (rather short) annual Christmas walk in Fish Creek Park, Alberta juxtaposed with pictures of my walk in High Park, Ontario that occurred just days prior.  My Christmas morning walk was magical; not a soul was to be seen and the snowflakes were drifting down ever so softly and lazily to cover the glittering world below.  

 A beautiful fall-like day in High Park, Toronto

 More High Park gorgeousness

A new friend I made in the park. I named him Cornelius.  

 And now, to Calgary and the vastness of the prairies.  

 "The quickest way to the universe is through a forest wilderness"

 The beautiful river, all sparkling with snow and ice

A stunning sunrise over the woods

Have a glorious day!

Friday, December 21, 2012

My Breakup with Veganism

If you are a particularly observant blog reader, you may have noticed that I have made a few animal product-infused posts of late.  Be assured that you are not hallucinating and that although my blog is still titled "vegangreenie", I have indeed called it quits with veganism.  Of course it was difficult to let go (we had, after all, been together for 5 whole years) but it was necessary since, although a vegan lifestyle is great for some people, it did not work for me. Allow me to explain.

Back when I was 20 years old, I got really enthusiastic about health.  I was newly discovering holistic living and I happened to be researching a diet fit for Type 2 Diabetics for a friend when I stumbled upon a website devoted to the joys of veganism.  As I read about how great an animal-free diet was for your body, the environment, your wallet and your conscience I began to want to change my habits into ones that were more animal-friendly.  After all, I grew up with animals and the idea of living in harmony with nature like the Zen Buddhist monks I admired really appealed to me.  Never one to leave off for tomorrow that which can be done today, that day I bought a ton of vegan cookbooks and began to navigate my way in veganhood while living in the seemingly meat-obsessed province of Alberta.

It was hard at first, considering I had never cooked before and I had to teach myself to cook all my meals since vegan fare in Calgary was hard to come by, but I was dedicated and I made it through.  I even backpacked around Australia and New Zealand completely vegan and I must say those first 3 years were great! I felt healthy, full of energy and so clean and light.  The first few years on a vegan diet are like a really nice detox for all your cells and I would definitely recommend anyone to give up animal products for a few months to a year to reap the benefits.  However, I should have known that sooner or later the honeymoon would be over.

It sort of started when I got accepted to CCNM.  Although vegan products were easier to come by in the enormous and progressive city of Toronto, the demands of the intense program and the added stress meant that I ended up dedicating less and less attention to my diet and it began to get quite unbalanced. What made matters worse is that not matter how many iron supplements I took, my anemia was growing worse and worse.  Although my ND was gently suggesting that I add some meat into my diet since my iron levels were verging on dangerously low, the seriousness of the situation only hit me when I held my stethoscope to my own chest and heard the unmistakable arrhythmia that was induced by my long standing anemia.  It suddenly occurred to me that in order to spare many animals, I was harming myself so from that day onwards I began eating meat.

Now, although I do eat meat now, I did not return to the Standard North American Diet filled with artificial and preserved foods.  I do not eat flour or sugar, since my body doesn't process either very well.  I realize the importance of balance and whole fresh food, so I follow these simple rules:
1. Buy organic meat and animal products as much as possible (it's cleaner for your body and it just tastes better).
2. Eat mostly fruits and vegetables, with meat being simply a meal accompaniment as opposed to the main star (you only need about 4 ounces).
3. Prepare everything as close to its natural state as possible.  This means real cheese and yogurt (ie no 'modified milk ingredients') and minimal sauces, spices etc.  I'm a huge fan of baking/roasting my food so that their true flavors are enhanced and you don't need heavy sauces etc.
4. The perfect salad dressing is real olive oil and vinegar-it's that simple.

My final notes on veganism is that it is a great temporary cleanse for your body but many people may find the diet unsustainable in the long run.  From experience, the people who are able to do well on a vegan diet for a long time are men (this is probably due to the fact that they are not losing iron stores every month like women are) and it's great to combat cardiovascular disease in this particular population.

Have a balanced, nurturing day!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Sunday, November 25, 2012

This World Is Magical

Just to remind you, in case you forgot:

*Have a magical day*

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

The Jasmine Bookclub

Here are some of the books I am reading:

They are good.  Unfortunately, they are not my textbooks and final exams are coming up....

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

All You Have Is Today

Where I ate my lunch one day in the summer

I used to be notorious for never living in the moment.  My mind was always racing forward to a perceived future event or dwelling on some past hiccup, but never right where I was at that particular time.  It was exhausting, miserable and completely unsustainable.  As I began to realize this, I looked for steps to bring about change in my life and began to cultivate mindfulness in a few different ways.

One of these was to wake up every morning and remind myself that "Jas, all you have it today."  I find it most effective to look at myself in the mirror and say the words aloud, so that I am really hearing myself.  It's amazing how your whole world changes when you only have 1 day.  Your priorities become very clear, very quickly.  It's like that story of the person who has a house full of many beautiful things that they seem to love equally, but when a blaze threatens the whole house that person decides very quickly the few things worth rescuing from a fire.

The truth is we aren't guaranteed a whole lifetime on this earth.  Just because the sun has always risen in the past doesn't mean it is guaranteed to rise again tomorrow morning.  When you only have 1 day, you make certain to tell those dear to you that you love them.  You are kinder to strangers.  You are gentler on yourself.  You are more appreciative of the little things in life and you allow gratitude for a life well lived to infuse your day and your smile.  When we are mindful, we allow ourselves to shine and illuminate others.

Perhaps, just for today, you can practice being mindful.  You can really taste your food, really feel the rain as it falls on your face, really listen to the voices of the people you love all around you.

It has made a world of difference in my life.

"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.' We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There's nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give others permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others."

Have a mindful and peaceful day.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Could You Be Addicted to Cheese?

A year ago, while on a visit to St. Lawrence Market with a friend, I spoke with a lady who was giving out cheese samples.  We got to talking and she revealed that she ate an entire wedge of cheese at least once a week.  While we were walking out the market doors, my friend turned to me and said "man, that's a ton of cheese!".  After attending a recent presentation on Food Addiction given by Dr. Greenblatt, it occurs to me now that she may have been addicted to cheese.

How does that work?

All cows dairy contains a protein called casein.  Cheese made from cows milk, due to its processing, contains a high amount of this protein.  In some people, the casein is perfectly broken down via their digestive systems and it leaves their system without a problem.  However, in some people casein is only partially broken down and becomes a morphine analog in their body.  As you may recall, morphine is a narcotic derived from opium.  It also happens to be highly addictive.  Yes, if you are one of the individuals that cannot break down casein, you may actually be getting a hit from cheese, ice cream, cream cheese, sour cream and anything else made from cows milk.

This makes sense when we think about what people's comfort foods usually are: ice cream, cereal with lots of milk, grilled cheese sandwiches, pizza with lots of cheese.

As you know, I like to add silver linings to all my posts and something wonderful that I also discovered is that goat's and sheep's dairy do not seem to contain casein.  If you love your cheese but worry you could be addicted, might I suggest switching to goat's cheese?  It may just end up calming your mind as well as whittling away your waistline.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Sometimes you just need a day....

darkhorse (noun)
A little-known, unexpectedly successful entrant, as in a horserace.

The secret to my success in a very rewarding yet often overwhelming and stressful medical program is the fact that I periodically hide out in cafes around Toronto to take a sort of "mental wellness day".

Today I am studying in Darkhorse on Queen Street.  It's cozy and warm and has an enormous wooden table that is perfect to spread out all my textbooks and computer on.  It also has one of my favorite caffeine-free teas: Toasty Almond Tea.  If you have not tried it yet and are looking for something slightly sweet tasting and perfect for the impending chilly weather, it's a winner.

However, if you are an avid cappuccino lover and are not watching your caffeine intake, I suggest you listen to Batman:

Remember to take time for yourselves and, above all, to be kind to yourselves.

Take with you today this quote from my favorite poem and read it every time you forget:

"Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself.  You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here.  And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should."
~Max Ehrmann, Desiderata 

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Eat Like You're Pregnant

This year, I decided to really take care of myself.  I made a commitment to take active measures to control my stress levels (which are high, when you're studying medicine) as well as nourish my body with a whole foods diet that contains absolutely no flour or sugar.  I've been doing this for the past 5 months.

Thankfully, I have a few friends in this with me.  One of my friends was musing yesterday about our new lifestyle.

A: "I eat like all my pregnant friends."
Me: "What do you mean?"
A: "I try to eat as much organic produce as possible, I avoid all caffeine and all my foods are so unprocessed that they contain only one ingredient. Example: sweet potato.

My very clever friend made the distinction that when a new mother is eating for two, she will go out of her way to make certain that her body is as clean and healthy as possible so that her little bundle of joy can enter this world with the best head start possible.

So why don't we all try to eat like this all the time? We are, after all, eating for two: ourselves and our souls.

Take care of yourselves today and eat something you could pick off a tree or pull up from the ground.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

No caffeine? No problem!

So, you've just found out that you have high blood pressure or perhaps you suffer from migraine headaches or your most recent lab results confirm a diagnosis of Type 2 diabetes.

What do the above 3 illnesses have in common? They are all immediately improved by the discontinuation of caffeine ingestion.  That means no coffee, no Coca Cola, no black tea and no chocolate.  I know, I know-easier said than done, right?

The good news is that caffeine-free does not have to equate boring.  I have a few tips for people struggling to get off caffeine and back into health that I'd like to outline in today's post.

1. Have an understanding about how your body is going to feel for the first 2 weeks sans caffeine.  The great thing about reality television is that it exposes us to all sorts of things we wouldn't normally see first hand, such as someone going through withdrawal symptoms in a rehabilitation institute.  Now, obviously, your experience cutting out caffeine will not be nearly as intense but realize that you will not feel too great for about 2 weeks as the stimulant (yes, caffeine is a drug) leaves your system.  Most people report headaches, fatigue and even slight tremors.  Just keep reminding yourself how very lucky you are that you get to take important steps towards a more healthy and vibrant you and be sure to drink lots of pure, clean water to help your body eliminate the caffeine more efficiently.

2. Find suitable replacements for your morning cup of joe or can of pop. A lot of people find cutting out a bad habit much easier if they have something that can take its place, albiet a healthy something.  Most NDs will suggest replacing your daily coffee with a herbal tea such as peppermint, but I find the 2 to be so dissimilar that it makes it even harder to accomplish since your body is so very aware that it isn't getting its coffee fix anymore.  I found the best substitute to be a tea called Chicory Dickory Dock from David's Tea.  It has a warm, almost caramel-like, full flavor that is able to hit the spot without being caffeine-laden.  As for a suitable pop substitute, can I suggest an Italian soda? You can make it by mixing an ounce or 2 of fresh juice with a sparkling water, such as San Pellegrino.  My mom gave up her Coca Cola for unsweetened cranberry juice with San Pellegrino and she has never looked back since.  Go ahead, give it a try.

3. Take steps to keep your anxiety in check.  Usually we consume certain substances as a way to cope with life stressors.  You may have been using caffeine to help you cope with anxiety felt from working or studying in a high stress environment where you've had little sleep and little rest.  The truth is that caffeine gives you a false energy that will eventually catch up with you.  It's like allowing your gas tank to get to empty-sure you can squeeze out a few more miles, but you're doing major damage to your engine.  I find that daily meditation has helped me immensely in this regard.  Studies have consistently shown that 15 minutes or more of daily meditation will help reduce anxiety levels exponentially.  I know first hand how daunting meditation can seem, but a little secret I realized is that meditation is just breathing with your eyes closed. Yep, it's that simple so set your timer and breath deeply.

A colleague of mine recently turned me on to this amazing tea by Yogi called Classic India Spice.  It is basically all the spices that are in chai tea without the black tea, meaning it's entirely caffeine free.  One of my favorite teas, by far!

 Yogi tea is only $3.99 at Essence of Life in Kensington market

The best thing about Yogi tea? The little pearls of wisdom that come written on each tea bag.

Have a calm, relaxing, caffeine-free day.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

The Royal Agricultural Winter Fair

Guess where I was today?  My dear friend A knew I was in need of some fun this chilly Sunday afternoon, so he took me to see the animals at the Winter Fair!  Best...day....ever!

For those of you who aren't aware, the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair is a show in Toronto where farmers exhibit their amazing livestock (think, goats, sheep, pigs, cows, horses, rabbits, guinea pics and hens) as well as things that have to do with farms (think tractors, 4x4's, antiques and solariums).  It was my first time there and it so reminded me of home that I instantly got that warm, fuzzy feeling one gets from enjoying an autumn day indoors surrounded by your loved ones...only, in this case, I was surrounded by dairy cows.  A close second, in my books.

The most beautiful Clydesdale horse (she won first place!)

A Clydesdale show/judging  

Yes, that is a sculpture made entirely out of butter 

So cute, right? 

I can feel my arteries clogging just looking at it.

Support your farmers and try to buy local! There is so much love put into the meat and vegetables grown by small farms, it's sure to translate to your table.

Have a wholesome day!

Monday, October 8, 2012

Holiday Discovery

I have been meaning to get out to the Glen Stewart Ravine for quite some time now.  Today I finally did and it was even more amazing than I had anticipated.  The ravine is gorgeous this time or year, with the sunlight streaming in from breaks in the canopy and the leaves floating majestically to the ground.

Many years ago, I participated in a wine tasting and the sommelier had described a particular wine as having "a hint of forest floor" taste.  At the time I chuckled, but if I were to guess what he would have been tasting, I'll bet it was very similar to the smells of the ravine today: sweet and earthy yet fresh.  The aromatic wisps are stirred up by the creek and delivered gently to your nose as you breath in the crisp autumn air. Ahhhhhhh.

As always, some pictures for you to enjoy.  I'm certain I felt just like Columbus upon discovering this strange new world filled with treasures.

 A boardwalk protects the creek from your feet and your feet from the mud 

"And the light floods in all day for free; all you have to do is catch it"

Ended the trip with a peek at the lake.  Gorgeous.

Have a light-filled day!

Sunday, October 7, 2012

A Homeopathic for Homesickness?

First off, Happy Thanksgiving to all the Canadians.

It is officially autumn in Toronto.  The weather is cooler and rain is drizzling down, mixing with the freshly fallen leaves and creating a sweet, earthy aroma that makes you dream of snuggling under a wool blanket with a hot mug of licorice tea and a good book.

Here's a picture of the beach from my walk the other day.  I love the contrast of the mist and the pale, painted heart.  It was so reminiscent of a winter day in Vancouver. *sigh*

  Mist from Lake Ontario

Autumn is my favorite season, even when I'm back home in Calgary, so this time is one of intese homesickness for me (I'm talking the "calling-my-mom-every-day, getting-teary-eyed-when-I-see-families-with-young-children, lots-of-dreamy-sighing" type of homesickness which is the worst kind, I'm afraid).  To cheer me up, some friends coaxed me out of my cozy room and into the city for a screening of Samsara, a film playing at the Tiff.  What I got was a delightful 99 minutes of stunning imagery paired with a hauntingly beautiful musical score.  All in all, a fantastic night out. 

Samsara still. Gorgeous.

One of my favorite things about watching a film are the previews for upcoming films, especially if they are documentaries about visually aesthetic subjects, such as fashion.  I can't wait until the Diana Vreeland documentary comes out...

I think the universe is trying to cheer me up, as this morning I was delighted to see stalks of brussels sprouts on offer at the Leslieville Farmer's Market.  I'd never even seen them on the stalk before, so I simply had to purchase one.  I'm envisioning roasted brussels sprouts with my dinner tomorrow night and I'll let you know how they taste (although, I think we can already conclude that they're going to be mouth-watering).

It's like a little tree!

So, for all of you lucky enough to spend this holiday with your loved ones, enjoy the time you have with them and lavish them with lots of hugs and little words of love while you still can.

Have a toasty weekend!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Lost in Leslieville

One of Leslieville's best kept secrets is the weekly Leslieville Farmer's Market.  Every Sunday, the most adorable babies and puppies show up with their friendly parents to shop for organic, locally grown produce, dairy and meats as well as catch up with one another about the previous week.  This all takes place in the inconspicuous Jonathan Ashbridges Park, just off of Queen Street East.

A few weeks ago it was Baconfest at the market, which meant that a number of different vendors were offering their most delicious bacon-laden creations.  On offer was a bacon waffle and pulled pork sandwich, bacon and fruit crepes, bacon chocolate chip cookies, bacon bruschetta and even some vegetarian 'bacon' skewers.  Since bacon always seems to be a huge hit in any quadrant of the city, needless to say the Leslieville locals were delighted.

As M and I were making the rounds, buying up all the succulent peaches and apples in sight, M got a hankering for something sweet.  After much perusing, she finally decided on a double chocolate brownie that was made with spelt flour, in lieu of the traditional wheat flour.  After sitting down under an enormous tree to enjoy her treat, M turned to me and asked "What is spelt flour, anyways?".  It occurred to me that if M (who is vastly knowledgeable in nearly everything) was asking me, chances are a number of you would also like to ask me the same question.

The facts:
Spelt is basically the ancient ancestor of wheat, kind of the 'pure and untainted' version.  Usually spelt has a lot less gluten and a lot more fiber, so you may find that many gluten intolerant people are able to ingest spelt on occasion (but again, not all. Spelt is a no-no for the Celiacs out there).  In terms of taste, spelt has a much nuttier, fuller flavour than regular wheat and I find it gives a nice weight to desserts/breads that benefit from being a bit denser.  So, if you do decide to experiment with spelt you may just end up adding an entirely new dimension to your cooking (not to mention the added health benefits)!

My challenge to you is: try something new, with someone new.  It may just end up being exceptional.

Have a wondrous day!

Surrounding The Dragon

...and other tales from my third year at Naturopathic school.

I'm back in school and already we've jumped right into things.  I love all my classes this semester, but I've always reserved a special place in my heart for Asian Medicine.  I believe my huge respect for energetic medicine was cemented in my very first acupuncture practical and it has been my favorite class ever since.

Just recently we learned a fascinating technique called "Surrounding The Dragon".  This technique helps fade scar tissue by surrounding the scar with needles and thus redirecting the Qi (or body's energy) underneath the damaged tissue and ultimately outwards to "lift" the scar.  Obviously, this can be great from both a cosmetic and functional perspective.  This technique is most effective on fresh scars but, because we needed the practice, future NDs in my class were seeking out all their old scars to be needled.   Check out the photos below.  You have to admit; it looks kind of pretty, doesn't it?

 Redness indicates lots of Qi movement

Halfway there!

Have an uplifting day!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

New York State of Mind

Greetings from the city that never sleeps!

I am so grateful to be given the opportunity to spend 10 days in New York City with my wonderful brother, J.  There is so much to see and do here that we spend the entire day exploring the city and still feel like we haven't seen nearly enough of it!

What do I love about NYC so far?

  • The Metropolitan Museum
  • The Natural History Museum
  • Soho
  • Nolita
  • Greenwich Village
  • The incredibly friendly locals
  • The inexpensive organic food at Trader Joe's
  • People-watching in Little Italy
  • The subway!
  • Walking around all day
  • The fashion (it varies depending on the neighborhood)
  • The various local boutique stores 
  • The unique vintage clothing shops

NYC can be a bit expensive, so to save money my brother and I are staying at a rental apartment in the financial district that we found through Craigslist.org.  Since we have access to a kitchen, we can cook most of our meals here instead of eating out.  We also make sure to flash our student IDs at all the museums and art galleries to gather some additional savings.  Another hind: skip the cabs, take the subway or your feet.  And lastly, buy cheap broadway tickets the day of at the various TKTS Discount Booths around the city.  

I heart New York.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Magical Numbers

I love how the orange butterflies contrast the purple flowers...

I'm taking a quick break from my NPLEX studies to share some exciting news with you.

As of yesterday, I am officially no longer anemic!  I got my ferritin numbers back (the molecule that stores the iron in your body) and I am delighted to report that it is within the "normal range" (the reason for the quotations is that even though it may well be within the range, the range happens to extend from 15 to 300.  Remember, within range isn't the same as being at the optimal level so always take your lab results with a grain of salt).

Regardless, after years of being well below range I am ecstatic (not to mention quite rosy in the cheeks and less cold).  I admit, I owe most of my success to my daily Proferrin iron supplement as well as my red meat-dedicated summer menu.  Coming from a reformed vegan, I never thought I'd love my meat so much but at the moment it's quite literally saving my life.

Wish me luck on the NPLEX!

One of my favorite restaurants in Calgary; The Ranche.  Famous for serving wild game meat.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Healthy Habits For A Good Life

Can't remember exactly where I found this, but consider it your anthem.

Health habits

Habits of a lifetime you should think about acquiring
● Don’t smoke
● Avoid sugar
● Eat vegetables rather than meat
● Enjoy a glass of red wine every day
● Drink tea
● Eat slowly
● Potter about rather than just sitting still
● Keep learning
● Avoid undue stress
● Keep in touch with friends
● Keep a positive attitude

Friday, July 13, 2012

The Fruits of My Labour

Behold, les fruits!

Yes, I made that gorgeous thing with the help of my fantastic sister.  I could never understand why people bought prepared fruit trays from the store when you could make something like the above, which is so much more beautiful.

Something I learned when I was visiting Japan is that when a dish looks beautiful, people are more likely to eat it.  With the above tray, I can ensure my guests get some organic watermelon, cantaloupe, honeydew, strawberries and grapes into their bellies and an aesthetically pleasing fruit sculpture into their eyes.

Make fruit the star at your next get-together and you're sure to win hearts.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

All You Ever Wanted To Know About Colon Hydrotherapy

What's my health secret? You'll never guess...

I've been in the natural health profession for quite some time now and I'm always eager to try the various therapies so that I can report to my future patients what works and what doesn't.  Today, I received a colon hydrotherapy treatment at the Fish Creek Naturopathic Clinic and am pleased to report that this therapy is definitely worth checking out!

It may sound like a weird therapy to willingly book yourself into, but I promise you that the way you feel afterwards will erase all the squeamishness you may be experiencing right now.  We are, after all, a very poo-phobic culture.  The point of the matter is, a colon hydrotherapy session fills the colon with water and then empties it in a series of cycles so that your colon is essentially evacuated.  Not only does this (obviously) empty your colon of all the impacted fecal matter, the water actually stimulates peristaltic muscle movement and re-trains your colon in its natural movements.  So, it not only means that this is a great therapy to relieve constipation but it is also widely used when undergoing a detoxification regime.

What I loved about this therapy (other than the incredible burst of energy afterwards) was how incredibly dignified it is.  You aren't sitting in a sink with some stranger hovering around your rear end.  Instead, you're lying back on a reclining chair enjoying pleasant conversation while receiving an abdominal massage.  There is no mess, since everything is hooked up to a tube in a closed circuit, and the only 'discomfort' you may experience is a slight building of pressure as the colon gently fills with water.

So, a checklist for finding a good colon hydrotherapist and having an enjoyable session:
1. Ask if they are certified! Ask where and when and then google it to make sure it's an accredited course/institution and not simply made up.  A certified colon hydrotherapist has to dedicate 100 hours to practice and must perform at least 25 colon hydrotherapy sessions before they graduate!

2. Ask what type of machine they use and google it to see if it is modern and hygienic.  This is also important to see that it is being widely manufactured and was not simply constructed in someone's basement.

3. Remember to breathe! Taking deep breaths will open up your abdoman to give your colon space to expand as well as stimulate your parasympathetic nervous system so you can quite literally "let go".

4. Take probiotics at least 1 week prior to your appointment and continue to take them afterwards.  The therapy may wash away some of your good bacteria along with all the impacted matter, so be sure to replenish your stock!

5. Eat light for a bit afterwards, to be nice to your colon.  Think fish, cooked vegetables and mindful chewing.

This therapy starts at around $75, depending on the city you live in, and usually lasts about 1 hour.  Next time you feel like treating yourself to something that makes you feel like a million bucks, why not give colon hydrotherapy a try?  I assure you, you won't be disappointed.

Fish Creek Naturopathic Clinic
380 Canyon Meadows Drive SE
Calgary, AB

The Bone Cracker

It happened again! Every 2 years exactly, whether I've done some sort of strenuous exercise or not, an old back injury resurfaces in the form of a painful lower back.  I have a fantastic chiropractor in Toronto (he's actually a colleague) but I obviously needed someone in Calgary, ASAP.

Luckily, my aunt suggested Dr. Derrick Nolan DC and my back has been grateful ever since.  Dr. Nolan not only has a thorough knowledge of the body and how to properly adjust the various joints in it, but he also has wonderful bedside manner and explained exactly what he was doing and why.  Not to mention that after just one session this morning, my back already feels 1000 times better.  If you're in Calgary and you have a sore back, maybe make this your motto:

Dr. Derrick Nolan
3224 28th Street SW
Calgary, AB

Friday, July 6, 2012

Happy First Day of Stampede!

One down, 9 more to go.  Let the madness begin.

One of the great things about the Calgary Stampede is that they usually attract a great line up of performers, namely musicians.  A few years ago I got to see the band OK GO on the Coca Cola stage and it was one of the better concerts I've been to, by far.  Not bad considering the show was completely free with admission.  Notoriously famous for their fantastic music videos, allow me to share this gem with you from their most current album.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Going to the zoo, zoo, zoo. How 'bout you, you, you?

I meant to post this quite some time ago....

Calgary is known for their world class zoo (it ranks up there with the one in San Diego!) and my mom has an annual pass, so I got free admission to go check out an attraction that I have been dying to see: the penguins!

I first fell in love with the penguin while being serenaded by the lull of Morgan Freeman's narrative while watching "The March of the Penguins".  That love only grew when I got to see the tiny wild ones that live off the south coast of Australia while I was living in Melbourne.  Now, finally, we were to be reunited again.  Check out my photos of that wonderful day below (it was an iPhone day, so I apologize about the poor quality in advance):

A display of the different breeds 

 Feeding time

 I swear he dove in just so I could snap the picture

Isn't he handsome?

Friday, June 29, 2012

I Almost Forgot...

Happy Pride, Everyone! If you aren't aware, Toronto has the 2nd largest (after New York City) Gay Pride Parade in all of North America!  Pride helps teach tolerance and equality by allowing people to feel comfortable being their authentic self.  Sadly, this human right is still seen as a "luxury" in many cities across North America.  Sometimes it's easy to look the other way on an issue when you don't personally know anyone dealing with the negative effects.  I've linked a video of a very adorable couple who helped organize the very first Toronto Pride Parade so that you can put a face to an issue and hopefully realize we're all people and we're all in this together.

Is "Kellog's" French for "Big Fat Liars"???

I'm sure you can tell from the title of this post that I'm a bit angry.  I have news, dear readers, of yet another corporation that is lying to their unsuspecting consumers by telling them that a product they sell is healthier than it actually is just to get their slimy hands on a few dollar bills.

I'm sure you've all heard of the cereal Kashi.  They seem to be everywhere now and they're making pasta and pizza crusts and god knows what else.  Turns out the only thing they can't seem to make is truthful labels.  What's going on? Well, Kashi has always sold itself by claiming to be natural and wholesome.  So many of their customers misbelieved that they were making their Kashi products from whole grains and unprocessed ingredients, but alas it is not so.  Turns out Kashi cereal uses GENETICALLY MODIFIED SOY PRODUCTS IN ALL THEIR KASHI PRODUCTS.

So what? Read this article on this smart Danish farmer that stopped feeding his sickly pigs GMO soy feed and they all got better! Hate to break it to you people, but we're animals too and we need good fuel just as much as those pigs.

What is making my SO ANGRY about Kellog's Kashi is that not only did they blatantly try to mislead their consumers, but they also denied their use of GMO soy publicly (aka lying), causing the Cornucopia Institute to publicly release their third party evidence that proved that Kashi was, in fact, using GMO soy.  Think of all those consumers who were trying to make a healthy choice in their lives just to be exposed to this confirmed toxic substance!  It's just as bad as putting lead paint on baby toys, in my humble opinion.  Read the full story by clicking here.

The moral of the story?
If you want to eat any type of cereal, better stick to plain old reliable oats.  Steel cut, rolled or quick it doesn't really matter; you get the fiber and a pure product, with no additives or preservatives and (for the moment, anyways) are completely GMO-free.