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!

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!