Category Archives: General Health

Contrast Showers

You may have heard of using contrast showers to help with muscle recovery after a hard workout.  Basically, you’re just alternating between warm and cold water.  The warm water opens blood vessels which flushes the body with blood.  The cold water drives the blood inward to warm and protect the organs from the cold.

The way this helps with muscle recovery is it reduces the amount of inflammation and lactate in the blood.  The contraction and dilation caused by contrast showers also seems to help the body flush out toxins.

Benefits of Cold Showers

It is not easy to take a cold shower!  See if some of the benefits listed below will convince you to try.

  • Improves circulation.
  • Great for your skin and hair.
  • Increases energy. If you’ve ever tried it you can’t deny that a cold shower really wakes you up!
  • Increases well-being. They’ve done studies!
  • Increases testosterone in men!
  • They build character. It takes a lot of strength to be able to tolerate the discomfort of a cold shower.
  • Helps burn fat.

Helps Burn Fat???

Yup!  Cold showers help burn fat!!  Your body has two types of fat, white fat and brown fat.  White fat is the fat you accumulate when you take in more calories than you burn.  Brown fat on the other hand is the fat that helps keep you warm.  Brown fat will actually use white fat to generate heat in your body!  So by taking a cold shower you are actually making your brown fat burn white fat in an attempt to protect you from the cold.  SO interesting!!!!!

How To Do A Proper Contrast Shower

It’s recommended that you do 3:1 warm-to-cold.  You could start with 90 seconds of heat followed by 30 seconds of cold and repeat 3-5 times.  As you start to get used to the cold you can start to increase maybe even working your way up to 3 minutes of heat followed by 1 minute of cold.  It might feel like the longest minute of your life, but really all it is is a bit of discomfort which will eventually end.  Get comfortable with being uncomfortable if you want to be more than just average 😉

Electrolytes

What are electrolytes?  Electrolytes are minerals that dissolve into particles that can carry an electrical charge in your body.

Electrolytes are responsible for your heart working properly, muscle contractions, they stimulate nerve impulses and they influence the movement of fluids in and out of your cells.   Another super important thing they do is regulate the acid-base balance in your body.

Electrolytes

Important electrolytes that a lot of people are familiar with are sodium, potassium, calcium, magnesium and phosphate.  But did you know that baking soda consists of two electrolytes?

Baking Soda

Baking soda consists of sodium which plays a vital role in the body.  The other component of baking soda is bicarbonate which helps neutralize acids in your body.  It does contain a lot of sodium though so if you have a condition that makes it necessary to limit sodium talk to your doctor before using baking soda as an electrolyte.

A Closer Look At Baking Soda

  • Sodium

Sodium plays a role in muscle contraction and nerve impulses but it’s main function is to control the amounts of fluid in your body including blood volume.  When you consume too much sodium your kidneys hold onto fluids rather than eliminating them through urine.  This increases blood volume which raise blood pressure.  Too much sodium is not ideal but if your sodium level is too low it can cause problems too.  Low blood sodium can cause weakness, fatigue, headache, nausea, vomiting, muscle cramps or spasms, confusion and irritability.  If you lose too much sodium too quickly it can cause loss of consciousness, seizures and coma.

  • Bicarbonate

Bicarbonate buffers acids in your body to keep your body from being too acidic.  Your body strives to maintain a slightly alkaline PH but bad diet and stress can cause the PH level to become acidic and disease thrives in an acidic environment.  Because bicarbonate is able to buffer acid it also aids in muscle performance by neutralizing the acids that build up during prolonged activity.

Make Your Own Electrolyte Drink

Mix ½ tsp sea salt, ½ tsp baking soda and 2 tbsp agave nectar or raw honey or pure maple syrup into a litre of water.  Drink as needed.

Just remember that just because some is good it doesn’t mean that more is better.  Too much sodium can cause an increase in blood pressure so if you’re pregnant or have high blood pressure make sure you talk to your doctor first.

5 Reasons Why We Need Vacations

Vacations are fun but did you also know that they’re good for your health?  If you’re super busy it might be tempting to forgo your vacation but don’t!  Here’s why we need vacations.

Why We Need Vacations

  1. Vacations help you to calm your mind.

Some neurologists believe that the neural connections that make you feel calm become weaker if they’re not used regularly.  This means that over time, if you don’t vacation, it’ll become harder for you to switch into relaxation mode.  Without the ability to switch over to relaxation mode your stress levels will go through the roof.

  1. Vacations help reduce your risk of having a heart attack.

Did you know spending some down time with family and friends can reduce the risk of heart attack by as much as 30% in men and 50% in women?  Down time is critical for your overall health.

  1. Vacations restore your energy.

Taking a vacation increases your energy.  When you get back to work after your vacation this energy will make work seem easier and maybe even more enjoyable.

  1. Vacations make you happier with your entire life.

If all you do is work and never take a break you’re going to start to feel like your life sucks.  When people schedule in regular vacations and take control over their free time they feel much more satisfied with their life overall.

  1. Vacations allow you to view the world differently.

When you go on vacation it gives you a chance to experience different cultures and a different way of living.  This can be a real eye opener and often results in you viewing your own life differently.

Book Your Next Vacation Now!

Don’t just tell yourself that you’re going to make time for a vacation soon, book it now so you have to commit.  Booking ahead of time saves you money and guarantees that you will take that quality time you need.  It’s easy to talk yourself out of taking a vacation because life is SUPER busy.  Don’t get into that unhealthy habit.  Book your next vacation now and start daydreaming about how great it’s going to be!

5 Benefits Of Using A Remote Personal Trainer

Have you ever felt like you wanted a personal trainer to help you get fit and healthy but you have a really crazy schedule which makes it hard to commit to a schedule and you can’t really afford it anyway?  Why not try out a remote personal trainer?

What Is A Remote Personal Trainer?

Remote personal training is where your trainer designs a customized fitness program based on your needs.  Your trainer helps you stick to the program and keep track of your results without meeting with you physically.  All communication is done through e-mails or text/phone or an app you can download to your smart phone.  You don’t get to work one on one with your trainer but you do get all the info, support and guidance you need to be successful.

5 Benefits Of Remote Personal Training

  1. It’s affordable.

What you pay for a month of training with a remote trainer is about what you’d pay for one or two sessions with a one on one trainer.

  1. It fits your schedule no matter how hectic it is.

Your trainer will give you a program to follow.  All you have to do is fit in into your day when it’s convenient.  No more having to cancel appointments because of a sudden schedule change.

  1. Your program can be done anywhere.

You can ask for a program that you need a gym for or one you can do at home or outside.  Whatever you need, your trainer can provide.

  1. There’s accountability.

Your trainer will have a system for keeping you accountable.  It could be through daily e-mails or text messages, or a weekly video call, or a private Facebook group or an app that you can download onto your phone.

  1. Your program can be done anywhere in the world.

Travel a lot?  You won’t have to worry about missing sessions with your trainer because you can take your workout and support from your trainer anywhere you go.

No More Excuses!

With today’s technology, you don’t need to hire someone to physically work with you.  You can have your own personal trainer who you never have to see in person but can accommodate your health and fitness needs.  It’s time to invest in your health to ensure a long, pain free and active future.  You deserve this!

Take A Break Before You Break!

I know some of us think we don’t, but we all need to take breaks once in a while.  Many people feel like they’re too busy to take a break but what they don’t realize is that not taking a break is making them less effective.  Breaks are necessary if you want to perform at your best and feel excited about what you do.  Not sure if you need a break?  Check out the warning signs below that you need to take a break before you break!

Warning Signs You Need A Break

  1. You truly believe there just isn’t enough time to get everything done.

I think a lot of people fall into the trap of trying to do everything themselves so it gets done right.  This is a bit of a control freak characteristic.  If you’re one of those people and you keep running around trying to do everything you’re going to burn out.  You need to take a break and use that time to figure out what you absolutely have to do and what you can delegate to others.  It’ll be hard at first but once you see how much more effective you become you’ll be so glad you did it.

  1. A ringing phone stresses you out.

When you’re super busy and the phone rings it signifies more work which can completely stress you out.  If this is happening to you it’s a clear sign that you have way too much on your plate and you need to step out for a while to reevaluate.  Quite often a lot of the things you do can be streamlined or delegated or dropped completely.  You need a clear head to be able to figure all that out so take a break.

  1. You have no social life.

Spending time with people you love is something we all need to do as often as possible.  Did you know that people with more active social lives tend to live longer?  If you’re so busy that you can’t carve out time to spend with your friends and loved ones you really need to take a break and get some of that quality time with them.

  1. You hate it when there’s a change in your routine.

When you’re so busy trying to be in charge of every aspect of your life a change can really throw you for a loop.  If you find yourself getting angry when someone changes a meeting time or reschedules plans they had with you it’s time to schedule some time off.

  1. Things that normally wouldn’t annoy you suddenly start annoying you.

Are you finding yourself getting annoyed with things that normally wouldn’t bother you?  Are certain people who you’re close to suddenly becoming super annoying?  This can be a symptom of burnout and a clear sign that you need to get away before you react in a way that you’ll regret later.

Take A Break!

I know it’s easy to get caught up in your own busy world but taking breaks is essential.  If you never take a break you could be heading to a really bad outcome.  Don’t let yourself get to a point where you hate what you do and you’re miserable with your life.  Schedule in regular breaks so you can be the best you.

There Are Many Benefits Of Practicing Gratitude

Do you ever take the time to appreciate all the great people and things in your life?  There are so many small things that people take for granted and so many people that people take for granted.  Without these things and people their life would not be as great as it is and they need to recognize that.  Maybe if people knew the benefits of practicing gratitude they’d take more time to do it.

Benefits of Practicing Gratitude

We should be grateful for the special people and the things that make us happy.  Being grateful makes you aware of all the great things surrounding you and it has benefits.  Here are a few:

  1. Gratitude makes you more optimistic.

Did you know that practicing gratitude actually makes you a more optimistic person?  Optimism makes you happier, improves your health and even increases your life span by a few years.

  1. Gratitude improves your sleep.

As you try to fall asleep what’s on your mind?  If it’s worry and frustration you’re going to be tense and not be able to get a long, restful sleep.  If you’re thinking about all the things you’re grateful for your body and mind will be relaxed and calm making it possible to fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer.

  1. Gratitude makes you more resilient.

People who practice gratitude seem to have a more pro-active way of dealing with things.  They’re more likely to seek out help when they need it and they seem to cope better with stress.

  1. Gratitude helps your marriage.

It’s easy for couples to start taking each other for granted and when that happens quite often the relationship suffers.  When couples appreciate each other and let that be known they create a much tighter and more loving bond.

  1. Gratitude increases your productivity.

When you practice gratitude, you feel more energetic and happy.  When you feel energetic and happy you can’t help but be more productive.

What/Who Are You Grateful For?

Take some time today to think about all the people and things that bring you joy.  Write them down and reflect on how they make you feel and why they make you feel that way.  Just a few minutes of doing this will be enough to lift your mood and help you have a better outlook on life.

How To Know When It’s Time To Move On

I think everyone has been in a situation where they realized that things just aren’t working.  But how do you know when it’s time to move on?  What if the thing, or person, you feel like you may need to move on from is a significant part of your life?  What if what you’re feeling is because of other circumstances in your life but you’re just projecting your frustrations onto something or someone else.  You don’t want to make a mistake that you can’t fix again.  You need to figure out how to know when it’s time to move on.

How To Know When It’s Time To Move On

Here are a few things that may be clues that it is actually time to move on.

  1. You’re not happy.

We all have bad days where we feel unhappy but if you find yourself feeling unhappy more often than not it’s time to take a closer look.  Are you unhappy the majority of the time?  If so, that’s a clear signal that you need to change or leave the situation.  Keep in mind that you can’t necessarily change things.  If you realize you can’t change the situation and that makes you unhappy, it’s time to move on.

  1. You’ve stopped pursuing the things you love.

When you’re unhappy with a major part of your life it’s really hard to get passionate about anything.  If you find that the things that once excited you no longer do, it may mean the situation you’re in has become toxic.

  1. You find yourself wishing things would change.

If you’re daydreaming about how much better things would be if they changed but you can’t make the change happen it’s time to move on.  Life isn’t meant to be spent daydreaming about how great it could be.  If you feel that you can’t actively go after what you want because of your situation, it may be time to move on.

  1. You’ve done all you can to make things better and it hasn’t worked.

If you’ve tried everything you can to change the situation and nothing has worked it’s a clear sign that nothing ever will change.  You need to feel truly happy in order for a situation to be healthy.  If you’ve tried everything and you’ve been completely honest with the people involved about how you feel and it’s still not changing, it never will.  Don’t stay stuck in something that makes you unhappy.

  1. You’re burnt out.

If you feel emotionally and physically exhausted and it’s been going on for a while you’re probably burnt out.  Burnout happens when you feel a lack of control.  You’re overloaded with responsibilities that you’re not being fairly recognized and/or rewarded for.  You’ll also feel like your values are conflicted.  If this sounds familiar make your voice heard.  If the problem can’t be rectified, move on.

Making That Tough Decision

The decision to move on isn’t always easy.  Especially if you’ve invested a lot of time and effort into something.  The bottom line though is that you need to look after you and do what’s right for you.  Staying in a situation where you’re miserable is not only a disservice to you, it’s a disservice to those around you.  Take a long hard look at the issues and decide what you truly need.

Reasons To Eat Healthy That Are Not Weight Related

For many people the main motivation behind eating healthy is to lose weight.  This instantly makes you think deprivation which is why a lot of people have a negative feeling toward eating healthy.  The good news?  It’s possible to eat healthy and enjoy what you’re eating.  But a thought shift needs to happen – don’t put yourself on a healthy ‘diet’ just for the sole reason of losing weight.  Take  a look at some of these great reasons to eat healthy that are not weight related.

Reasons To Eat Healthy That Are Not Weight Related

  1. Eating healthy saves you money in the long run.

Unfortunately junk food is super cheap so it can be tempting to save a few bucks by stocking up on processed foods.  A study was done that showed that produce and lean meats add about $1.50/day to your grocery budget, but it also noted that when you include the cost savings from preventing illness (ie obesity, type 2 diabetes etc) you actually end up saving about $2.71/day in the long run.  Eat healthy now and come out ahead with both your healthy and finances.

  1. Eating healthy reduces cravings for junk food.

Cravings typically happen when you don’t get all the nutrients your body needs which causes low energy.  When you eat healthy your body gets the nutrients it needs so it doesn’t drive you to keep eating.  Junk food might fill you up momentarily but once your brain realizes that your body hasn’t gotten all the nutrients it needs and energy is running low it’ll drive you to seek out more food.  Typically it’ll drive you to eat food that’s high in calories and sugar looking or the fastest delivery of energy.

  1. Eating healthy helps with potential muscle soreness after a workout.

According to several studies, what you eat after your workout will determine how quickly and how well your muscles recover.  The biggest factor is getting enough protein after your workout.  Protein provides the amino acids (building blocks) you need to repair and build muscle.  For maximum results try drinking a shake with a good amount of protein and some healthy carbs right after your next workout.

  1. Eating healthy helps with clear skin.

What you put in your body will directly affect your skin.  If you suffer from acne try removing sugar, dairy and processed grains and see if it clears up.  Try removing one at a time to see if a single one is what’s causing the problem.  Drinking enough water is another way to clear up your skin.

  1. Eating healthy can amp up your sex drive!

Researchers have found that eating certain healthy spices can actually increase sex drive and performance in both males and females.  The next time you’re out shopping for spices pick up some saffron and ginger to use in the dinner you make for you and your partner and see where the night takes you.  Stay away from alcohol though.  While it might increase your desire, it will most likely hamper your performance.

Reap The Benefits Of Eating Healthy

There are a lot of delicious healthy foods out there and you absolutely can find ones that you love.  If you’ve been eating junk for a while you’ll need to give your taste buds a chance to recover from the ill effects of overly flavoured frankenfood but once they do you’ll never want to go back to eating crap and feeling like crap.  Try it!

Reasons to Exercise That Have Nothing To Do With Weight Loss

I think when most people think about exercising and eating right they’re motivated by weight related goals.  There is SO much more to it though.  I used to punish myself with exercise trying to drop weight.  My obsession with losing weight did nothing but make me miserable and frustrated.  Here are some reasons to exercise that have nothing to do with weight loss.

Here Are Your Reasons To Exercise That Have Nothing To Do With Weight Loss!

  1. Exercise fights depression.

When you exercise your body releases endorphins which make you feel good.  Just 30 minutes a day can make a world of difference.

  1. Helps you to deal with stress.

When you’re stressed about something go for a workout!  Working out is one of the fastest ways to clear cortisol, the stress hormone, out of your system.  Anytime I’m going through something stressful I use my workout as my little vacation from what ever’s bothering me.  Since cortisol is cleared from your system when you workout, you’ll feel calm and relaxed after your workout.

  1. It boosts creativity.

Got a report or paper due?  Maybe you’ve been put in charge of organizing a function and you just don’t know what to do.  Try going for a quick workout and just see how it gets the juices flowing.

  1. It helps people deal with their addictions.

Whether you’re addicted to sugar, cigarettes, alcohol or drugs it’s been shown that exercise can help.  Studies have shown that the endorphin rush released during exercise acts on the same neural pathways as addictive substances.

  1. Exercise saves you money!

You might think it’s too expensive to join a gym or invest in an at home program but if you compare it to the cost of being sick you’ll see that everyone can afford to exercise.  If your health deteriorates to a point where you need to spend a lot of time at the doctor’s and you have to take expensive medications in order to survive you’ll spend far more time and money than you ever would on exercise.

What Are You Waiting For?

These are just a few of the many reasons you should be exercising now.  Don’t let yourself get to a point where you become dependent on medications.  Don’t get to a point where you live in constant pain.  Start exercising regularly now so the future you can be happy and healthy.

Next article will be non-weight related reasons to eat healthy!

Why Hugs Are Awesome!

Are you a hugger?  I am!  I love a good hug and I’ll hug pretty much anyone who will let me.  Did you know that a hug can lower your blood pressure, ease your stress and even boosts your immune system?  Here’s why hugs are awesome:

  1. Lowers blood pressure.

When you give or receive a hug your body releases oxytocin which is the hormone that makes us feel all warm and fuzzy.  It promotes feelings of contentment and reduces anxiety and stress.

  1. Eases stress.

Hugging eases stress by reducing levels of circulating cortisol (the stress hormone) in the blood.

  1. Boosts your immune system.

Cortisol inhibits the immune system and hugging lowers cortisol so it actually has an effect on the immune system!  There was a study that was done with 400 healthy adults who were asked about their perceived social support.  They were interviewed over a course of 2 weeks and were asked about the frequency that they engaged in interpersonal conflict and if they received hugs that day.  The researchers then exposed all of them to the common cold virus to see what would happen.  They found that the people who engaged in less interpersonal conflict and received regular hugs had less or no cold symptoms as compared to the people who when through regular interpersonal conflicts and did not receive regular hugs.

  1. Increases bonding.

When you hug someone and your body releases oxytocin it increases the bond between you and the person you’re hugging.

  1. Relieves pain.

Another hormone that gets released when you hug someone is endorphins.  Endorphins relieve pain by blocking the pain pathways!  It also increases circulation to soft tissues which can help to soothe aches.

  1. Help to relieve depression.

Hugging increases the production of dopamine and serotonin in your brain.  Both dopamine and serotonin levels are low in people who are suffering with depression.  A simple hug can improve a person’s mood and even boost their self-esteem.

Go Hug Someone!

Any time you get the opportunity to hug someone do it!  I do!