Tag Archives: Wellness

Choose your friends wisely – your wellness depends on it

14 Oct
Cover of "Connected: The Surprising Power...

Cover via Amazon

The people you’re spending time with will absolutely have an impact on your wellness.  If you’re spending a lot of time with people who are making poor lifestyle choices, it will have some influence on you.  If you’re anything like me, you often think “I really should get more exercise” or “I should stop watching so much TV” or – insert your own example here.

If you want to be more active and watch less TV, hang around with people who are doing this.  It seems like a pretty obvious solution, but sometimes we can get into a rut.  Call a neighbor and see if they want to go for a walk.  If you have a friend who tends to be the active type, give them a call, plan to get together.  Sometimes even just hearing them talk about thier life and all its activities will be enough to inspire you.  Maybe you can make plans to join them on one of their next adventures.

What do you do if you don’t really have any active friends?    Consider joining a class or a team.  It’s a great way to get active and make new friends at the same time.

Friends affect other aspects of our lives as well.  How we eat is another good example.  If your friends like to focus a large amount of thier social time on going out to eat, it can be a challenge to keep your food choices and portions in the healthy range.

If your friends are smokers, you are more likely to become a smoker – or be subjected to second hand smoke.

Dr. Christakis and Dr. Fowler have written a book all about the effects of our social network and how it affects the person we are.

Dr. Christakis and Dr. Fowler discovered that if your friend’s friend’s friend starts gaining weight or takes up smoking, you’re more likely to do the same.
You might be thinking – “I’m an adult and I make up my own mind about things.”  While that may be true, the fact remains that our thoughts and feelings about things are influenced by the things and people we see all around us.  By Surrounding yourself with positive people, you are improving the quality of the influence.  Better influence = better decisions.

Path to wellness not always straightforward

20 Sep
Nurses Smoking in Little Rock Arkansas October...

Nurses Smoking in Little Rock Arkansas October 2011 002 (Photo credit: Curious 72)

Have you ever seen an overweight doctor?  How about a nurse out for a cigarette break?  Clearly just knowing what’s good for you isn’t always enough to make you choose the path to wellness.

Author, public speaker and Buddhist nun Pema Chodron suggests that habitual behaviours such as overeating, smoking, watching excessive amounts of TV, drinking alcohol excessively, and other habits can be compared to scratching an itch.

In her audio book “Getting Unstuck”, Chodron describes a common situation in which people often find themselves with a vague sense of discomfort about something.  This discomfort is unpleasant – like an itch – and the natural thing to do is to scratch.  The bad habit that we repeatedly engage in is the scratching.

Often we are not aware of what is causing the itch.  We just keep scratching and since this provides some temporary relief we don’t spend time trying to figure out what is causing the itch in the first place.

The itch may be some kind of negative thoughts or feelings about who we are, and what we are and are not capable of.

Sometimes we have to refrain from scratching and “be present” with the feeling, the itch.  Only then can we get to know what is triggering our bad habit.

Understanding our triggers can be an important first step in our journey towards choosing a path of wellness.

Massage – more than just a feel good experience

6 Sep

Lying face down on the massage table, dim light, soft music playing in the back ground, sometimes makes me feel like I’m living the lifestyle of the rich and famous!  But it goes far beyond just pampering.  Massage can really add to your wellness!

Massage has many benefits that go beyond the obvious awesome feeling you get while you’re there.

Studies have shown that massage can actually reduce the levels of stress hormones in your system.

Substances such as cortisol and norepinephrine are released in larger amounts when we are under stress.  They help our body respond to dangerous situations helping us muster up the strength for the fight or flight response.  The problem is that although we may not be in any real danger most of the time, we may have frequent low level stress causing the release of these stress hormones.  This causes increased heart rate, blood pressure and breathing rate, and slowed metabolic processes such as digestion, reproduction, growth and immunity.  When this becomes chronic we can start to feel pretty run down.

That’s where massage can help.  Massage can help to break this cycle of ongoing stress response.

Massage can also be an effective strategy when recovering from surgery or an injury.  All ages can benefit from massage, even infants.  Many massage therapists specialize in specific types of treatments.  Do some research and find the therapist that’s right for you and your particular needs.

In the Winnipeg area you could check out Symmetry Massage.  Their “our people” tab provides information about the therapists and their specialties and interests.

The empty nest and staying positive

13 Aug

Packed up and ready for a week of camping

Don’t let change negatively impact your wellness.

Over the past three years my nest has gotten very empty.  Only one out of three children still live here and she is only here part time.  Sure the others still visit on weekends but it’s not the same as having them here all the time.

I had been spending an increasingly large amount of time with my dog lately.  We would walk 4 or 5 kms together most evenings.  On Saturday she passed away.  The other two dogs passed away last year and the year before.

My home is suddenly much quieter with much less action than I’m used to.  It would be easy to wallow in self pity and use that as an excuse to drop my good habits, but I’m going to fight that urge.

We have the camper packed up and we’re heading out on our first camping trip with no kids and no dogs.  It’s a little emotional.

We packed bikes, fishing rods, hiking shoes and tennis raquets.  My plan is to stay busy doing things that are good for body and soul.  The vacation is a chance to recharge, and when we get back home I will need to make an effort to go for a walk…without my dog.  I need to make it a habit even though the first little while will be tough.

Rather than letting a change set you back, seize the opportunity to move forward in a positive direction.

Just because you don’t chew it doesn’t mean it doesn’t count

8 Aug
Drinks!

Drinks! (Photo credit: Martin Cathrae)

I know I’ve written about drinks before but it bears repeating.  Your wellness is important.

If you’re not careful, you can consume more than your daily recommended amount of calories just in your beverages!  Somehow people tend to underestimate the amount of calories and sugar that are found in beverages.

Summer time is a popular time for cocktails on the deck, around the campfire, at the barbeque, etc.  Here is a list of some of the comonly enjoyed drinks and thier average caloric content obtained from http://www.drinkaware.co.uk/facts/calories-in-alcohol/.  Remember that these are generally empty calories – meaning they do not contribute nutritional value.

Gin or vodka and tonic =126

Dark rum and coke =142

Medium glass of white wine (175ml) =130

Medium glass of red wine (175ml) =120

Bottle of wine (white) =555

Bottle of wine (red) =510

5% Lager (pint) =240-50

Cider (pint) =180-250

Stout (pint) =210

Bitter/Ale =180-230

Liqueur (50ml) =100 -170

Brandy (50ml) =110

Whiskey (25ml) =55

Many non alcoholic beverages are very high in calories as well.  Check out this website to see the 20 worst drinks.

The recommended intake for maintaining your weight is 2000 calories for women and 2500 calories for men.  You would need to decrease the amount if you are trying to lose.  You don’t want to use up your entire alotment just in your drinks.

You may want to rethink that diet pop as well.  True it contains little or no calories, but that doesn’t mean it’s harmless.  Artificial sweeteners give you the taste of something very sweet.  Drinking them regularly means you are training your tastebuds to prefer things that are very sweet.  It’s more difficult to appreciate and enjoy natural flavours when your taste buds have grown to expect the ultra sweet.

A Globe and Mail article reported on a study that found a link between diet pop consumption and health problems.

“The results revealed that people who drank at least one diet pop a day had a 48 per cent higher risk of having a heart attack, stroke or fatal cardiac event than those who reported no soda consumption.”

While further studies are required to prove that the diet pop caused the problem, I think the strong possibility of harm is enough reason to avoid it.  Diet pop contributes nothing to your nutrition so removing it from your diet can’t hurt and there is a good chance it can help.

There have also been some animal studies that suggest digestion is altered causing the gut to absorb more sugars as a result of consuming diet pop.  This means while you are smuggly thinking you’re not consuming any additional calories, you may be gaining weight, contributing to health problems such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and metabolic syndrome.

If it’s the fizz you crave, try sparkling water like Perrier or S. Pelligrino.  Pour over ice with a wedge of lime for a crisp refreshing beverage, or add to your wine to make a spritzer.

Now that you are informed go forth and enjoy your summer – but – govern yourself accordingly.

Healthy Planet, Healthy People

21 Jul
One of Dryden, Ontario's Landfill's. This one ...

One of Dryden, Ontario’s Landfill’s. This one is located in Barclay. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Wellness for us and wellness for our planet go hand in hand.  If our environment is not healthy how can we expect to keep ourselves healthy?

These days products and styles are changing fast.  The advertisers would have us believe that if we don’t have the latest style of furniture, clothing, electronics, etc, we are not cool.

Manufacturers plan to change the it color or style yearly to make sure they have a  constant supply of customers willing to open their wallets to ensure that they don’t fall behind the trend.  No doubt you’ve heard someone say “They sure don’t make things like they used to.”  This is more than just a cliché.  Companies are purposely creating products that will break or fail within a short period of time so that the consumer is forced to buy a new one.  They make the product in such a way that it rarely pays to try to fix it.  They are literally designing for the dump.

Sadly, many of us feel that our status is intrinsically linked to the accumulation of the latest stuff.  We worry that people will think less of us if we are not on trend.

This causes huge amounts of waste that enters the landfills.  If we continue this trend in the decades to come the landfills will become gigantic!

Another problem with the perception that we constantly need to buy the latest stuff is the stress it puts on us.  We feel the financial strain as we struggle to keep up.  This stress can lead to physical symptoms such as muscle tightness, back, neck, and shoulder pain, head aches, fatigue, stomach ulcers, unhealthy eating habits, weight gain, loss of sleep and more.

So, what can we do about this?  As long as we continually buy the poor quality crap that’s out there, companies will continue to sell it.  Vote with your wallet.  Demand quality.  We’re better off going without something for a while so we can save up to buy the better quality version.

When buying furniture, solid wood can last a lifetime.  Particle board while cheaper will need to be replaced numerous times over the years.  Buy good quality furnishings in a classic style and just use accessories to keep it looking trendy.  The same goes for fashion.  Good quality fabrics in classic styles can last years and can keep looking current with the right accessories.

As for electronics, I am no expert.  The price difference between the disposable and the lifelong can be quite huge, but for things that don’t have a lot of changes in technology, think fridge or toaster, it may be worthwhile to buy quality that lasts.  For a computer on the other hand, the technology changes so fast I’m not sure if there is a lasting model.

By reducing the amount of waste and the amount of money spent (and financial stress), you are doing us all a favour contributing to the wellness of our planet.

For more thoughts on this topic check out this video:

Running for Wellness

10 Jun

Marahon shoes

Is running a simple way to improve your health and wellness?  When I see people out for a jog I usually think – Wow, they must be super fit to be able to do that.  When I hear friends talking about the marathon they’re training for I am even more in awe!  As you might have guessed, I am not a runner.  I walk, and sometimes think about trying running but so far I  have not been able to make the transition.

 

I think most people would agree that running is an excellent way to get aerobic activity in your life.  If a little bit of running is good for your heart and lungs, a lot of running must be better right?

 

That is up for debate.  The Aerobic Centre Longitudinal Study was conducted over a 15 year period and included 52,000 men and women.  The findings were quite interesting.  They found a 19% decrease is death rate for people who ran versus those who did not.  That part doesn’t seem that surprizing.

 

What is surprizing was that people who ran more than 20 miles per week actually had about the same risk of death as those who didn’t run at all!

 

This is great news for me, since if I ever do get into running, I am quite sure I will never run more than 20 miles per week!

 

No doubt the research on this topic will continue, one study is never enough to say anything with complete certainty, but it does give us something to think about.

If you’re interested you can read more on the not so long run at Heartwire.

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