Health

9 tips to help you have a mentally healthy holiday season

December has always been a stressful month for me. And not because of busy parking lots, crowded malls and draining bank accounts (well, that’s always stressful no matter the time of year) — but because of all the family get-togethers where delicious seasonal food would be served, all the Christmas activities that filled my calendar that would take away from gym or run time, and all the tempting treats that were brought into the office at work.

Yes, all of those wonderful seasonal things that most people love about this time of year would stress me out. And I feel sad that it has been like that for so long for me — how many Christmas activities and family events I was never fully present for or experiencing because I was so worried about how many miles I needed to run to burn off X amount of calories to “be healthy”. Ugh. (more…)

I got my period back!!!

YOU GUYS! IT HAPPENED!

After 16 years without a natural cycle, I finally got a period yesterday, all on my own! *tear*

Sorry / not sorry if this post is TMI. I don’t care. Women’s health is important and if it helps even just ONE other woman realize why her period is missing and/or she’s not ovulating or cycling naturally, it’s 100% worth potentially offending some of my readers. (more…)

Fixing infertility with Intuitive Eating

If I had known when I was 16 years old that restrictive eating and over exercising would have caused infertility 15 years into the future, would I have changed my behaviour?

I highly doubt it. How could I have, when I grew up with the perfect storm of conditions for having hypothalamic amenorrhea (HA) later in life: an overweight father with health conditions related to a poor diet, which in turn made me extremely fat-phobic as a child (I was scared to eat foods high in fat because I thought I would have a heart attack, too); a slightly Type A and perfectionist mindset combined with anxiety due in part to my dad’s poor health; an introverted personality type that prefers individual sports such as running and weight lifting over team sports; over 10 years of competing in endurance sports; going on the birth control pill at age 16 which prevented me from cycling naturally thus hiding any ovulation problems for over 15 years; and growing up in North American diet culture, where every magazine told me how I needed to lose those last 10 pounds. (more…)

Hypothalamic amenorrhea: On the road to recovery

It’s been almost a month and a half since our wedding and since I’ve made a conscious effort to cut back on exercise and to stress less in hopes of starting a family.

Who knew that would be so hard to do?

For someone whose identity is wrapped up in being physically fit, I knew it might be uncomfortable at first. But I didn’t realize how uncomfortable it needs to get.

*** (more…)

Our invisible cages: Why cultural isolation is ruining our health

lone treeYou know when you read something profound and it sort of clicks, then you come across several other timely articles and examples and you think, “That’s it. This makes total sense! But now what can I do about it to help?”

Last night I came across this article about the opioid crisis we’re experiencing in BC at the moment. Author Andrew MacLeod examines the many complex factors that contribute to deaths due to opioid addiction amongst middle age men and women, including broken marriages, guilt, shame, past abuse, high housing costs, debt, poverty, mental illness and the weakening of social support groups like churches and service clubs. But the overarching reason for addiction, MacLeod argues (citing retired Simon Fraser University psychology professor, Bruce Alexander), is cultural isolation. “When I talk to addicted people, whether they are addicted to alcohol, drugs, gambling, Internet use, sex, or anything else, I encounter human beings who really do not have a viable social or cultural life. They use their addictions as a way of coping with their dislocation: as an escape, a pain killer, or a kind of substitute for a full life. More and more psychologists and psychiatrists are reporting similar observations. Maybe our fragmented, mobile, ever-changing modern society has produced social and cultural isolation in very large numbers of people, even though their cages are invisible!’

Social and cultural isolation aren’t just catalysts for substance abuse. I feel it’s at the very heart of what’s breaking down our society as a whole right now, even though we have access to more information and knowledge than ever before. You think we’d be so enlightened by now, right? (more…)

Speak up and be the light

Hi friends,

I know this is primarily a health and wellness blog. But it’s a platform, and as a person with an audience and representation on the internet, I feel I need to use it to share my thoughts about what’s going on in our world right now.

While I was blissfully running the SeaWheeze Half Marathon over the weekend, horrible things were going on in the southern United States. Horrible things are going on everywhere all the time to both humans, animals and the environment, but it seems geographical space and less media attention allows us to distance ourselves from it enough we can go on to live our lives, happily making our avocado toast and going to yoga class and farmers markets and such.

When I returned home from my Vancouver running weekend, I spent some time getting caught up on what was going on. And after watching this disturbing video on Facebook from VICE, I felt I had to get going on contributing something to the conversation. You see, as Chrissy King rightly pointed out on her blog, my “role as a fitness professional goes far beyond exercise and nutrition.” My goal is to aid my clients and audience with overall health and wellness, which includes emotional health and wellness. And as Chrissy points out, “you cannot simultaneously help women (and men) with their fitness and wellness while remaining silent on issues of racism and the events that occurred in Charlottesville this weekend. Unless of course, you are only here to serve white clientele. In that case, I guess you can.” (more…)

What DNA testing can tell you about your health

This past November, I decided to do some research on my family tree for Christmas gifts. I bought the AncestryDNA kit, which happened to be on sale for about $70 at the time, and a one year subscription to Ancestry.ca so I could access historical records and their extensive database of user-created family trees.

What I discovered was definitely worth the cost and time spent poring over records, photos and information. The DNA test told me I’m 91% Great British (Scottish/Welsh/English), with a little bit of Italian/Greek, Scandinavian and European Jewish. I also found out my 6th great grandfather John MacColl was a key witness in a famous murder trial in Scotland in 1745, and was featured in the novel “Kidnapped” by Scottish author Robert Louis Stevenson (author of “Treasure Island”). (He was described as “a ragged, wild, bearded man, about forty, grossly disfigured with the small pox, and looked both dull and savage.” Sounds like we’re related, alright!) I also found out my 4th great uncle Hugh MacColl was a logician and wrote a few novels, which are on Amazon for sale.

I was also able to connect with a distant relative on my mom’s side who has the MacColl family bible from the 1800s, and another relative in New Zealand who sent me a ton of information and photos of my 3rd great grandparents on my dad’s side, who immigrated to New Zealand from England in the 1800s and owned a sheep farm that’s still around today. (more…)

Why I’m still diligent about tracking exercise and nutrition

One of the best things about logging and tracking your progress – be it keeping a personal diary, bullet journaling, logging workouts or tracking nutrition – is looking back at certain points in time when you remember feeling at your best (or at your worst) to see what was going on so you can either disrupt or adopt certain habits and behaviours.

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The secret to getting up and getting sh*t done each and every morning

I’m sure we’ve all had mornings when we hit the snooze button on our iPhones a million times instead of getting up and out of our warm, cozy beds to face the day.

Maybe you’re just tired and you’d rather grab an extra 10 minutes of sleep instead of getting up to make a nutritious breakfast for yourself, opting for something less nutritious on the go instead. Or maybe the warmth and comfort of your bed is much more appealing to you than going for a chilly morning run. Or maybe you’d rather go back to dreamland than face the hard tasks you need to accomplish that day.

I’ve had those mornings, but thankfully they’ve been few and far between. I make my breakfast and lunch the night before to ensure I’m always fueled, and promise myself to exercise after work if I really don’t feel like getting up an hour earlier that morning.

I always manage to keep that promise. I think I’ve only missed 3-5 workouts this year due to illness.

So what’s the secret to getting up and getting sh*t done each and every morning, no matter how unpleasant it might be? (more…)

Could akrasia be getting in the way of your health goals? Here’s how to overcome it

akrasiaFirst off, you might be thinking, akrasia? Is this some new sensitivity associated with gluten? Is it slowing down my metabolism so I can’t lose weight? Is it causing leaky gut syndrome so I’m retaining water and feel bloated all the time? Is it altering my thyroid and messing with my hormones?

Here’s the definition of akrasia from the Oxford Dictionary:

a·kra·sia
əˈkrāZH(ē)ə/
noun: Philosophy
noun: akrasia; noun: acrasia

  1. The state of mind in which someone acts against their better judgment through weakness of will.

So, in other words, this state of mind:

I think I’ll sleep in rather than get up and go for that run I planned to do because my bed is cozy and warm and it’s cold and gross outside, even though I know running will make me fitter and boost my mood.

Or

Might as well eat this whole bar of chocolate/extra piece of pizza/bag of chips because it’s delicious and I’m feeling stressed, and this helps make me feel better right now… even though I’m trying to cut back on sugar/salt/fat to try to lose weight so I can be healthier and have more energy to play with my kids. (more…)

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