time keeps ticking

Where does the time go? We all ask this when reflecting back on pictures, events and memories from days gone by, realizing in hind sight, that time is so precious. The reality is this moment right now is equally as precious. Moments of time that we give to family, friends, work, chores and hobbies, that all adds up to create how our days play out. What happens though when we want to do something different, like start to exercise, learn an instrument, join a book club or simply go to a movie, and we just don’t know where or how we are going to fit it in? We feel we just don’t have any time.

What if it’s not just about those minutes or hours? Time, in this reference, reflects on a moment or moments in the past, present or future, while energy actually reflects the strength and vitality required for sustained physical or mental activity. It’s easy to see how we may need to not only consider the moments we commit to something or someone, but also the energy required for us to truly take part. Depending on the situation, some events require less on actual moments of time, and greater amounts on the energy to take another activity on. How do you determine its worth to you? Is it time you are committing, or energy?

A few years back, while relaxing on my couch watching repeats of Seinfeld, I thought to myself that I needed to get off my butt and do some cardio. In spite of that, I was pretty content to keep watching tv. As one episode ended and the next one began, I realized the moments spent, as each one is 30 minutes. I asked myself, “What else could I do with this 30-minutes?” Whether it was the current episode I was on, or the next one, they all follow the same pattern so I really wasn’t missing anything valuable by turning the tv off and going for my run, so I did.

The next time I was out running with my gal pal and workout partner, we were struggling a bit to get through it, so intending to encourage us, I blurted out, “What else could you do with this 30-minutes?” This became her phrase to throw back at me on occasion, when my legs were tired and not wanting to keep pace. In this essence it was all about energy, as we had already committed the time.

Your commitment likely is different. It might not be about exercise, but rather committing to meal prep, putting in overtime, doing a girls’ night, or joining that bowling league. It’s your time and energy, not someone else’s, that is being spent.

So, again I ask, is it time you are committing, or is it energy? As your day or week fills up, are you spending your moments and energy on the things you truly need to? This is where we sometimes have to dig a bit to determine the value to ourselves and our souls. Choose wisely, create the boundaries needed to not overdue your time AND energy consumption. Always leave a little in the tank for yourself to allow to re-fuel and re-focus with whatever fills you.

Bubbles!!!

Water is so boring! Yes, this may be true, but it is vital to our health. Is carbonated water an alternative? Well, let’s take a look.  But Sparkling water is basically water with an alteration to it. On its own it is clear, colourless, has no taste or fragrance to it, and it gets its bubbles by being infused with carbon dioxide.

So, how then would you know if the sparkling water you are drinking might be considered “natural” and healthy? When it comes from a mineral spring that naturally contains minerals and is naturally carbonated, as the sparkle can result from gases that are naturally occurring in the water. However, mineral water companies may still add carbon dioxide to the water to give it those lovely bubbles.  Mineral water naturally contains minerals that can be beneficial to your health, such as magnesium and potassium. However, in order for the mineral water to contain minerals, it has to be collected from a spring that actually contains them.

Seltzer water is the man-made or artificially created version of sparkling water. Seltzer is simply water plus carbon dioxide and is a cheaper alternative to sparkling mineral water. If you have a Soda Stream machine at home, this is what you are making, water that has been injected with carbon dioxide.

To compare club soda or tonic water to the bubbly water versions on the market, club soda and tonic water both have additional ingredients added to it, and tonic water is high in sugar. I personally recommend opting out of these two, and switching to mineral or regular bubbly water. One more thing you need to be aware of though, is when these bubbly waters are flavoured. “Natural flavour” really isn’t all that natural! It is flavour that is chemically made for your flavour driven palette. Choose plain carbonated water instead, and add some fresh fruit to it. A few mixed berries, a wedge of lemon, lime or squeeze of orange goes a long way in true natural flavour.

However, if it is flavour you want, and don’t care about the bubbles, a wonderful option is AXIO, a powdered product that conveniently comes in individual packets that can be easily added to water. It is highly beneficial fluid for your brain and provides much needed antioxidant support, without the crash from sugar or high caffeine. Rather, it contains B Vitamins, Magnesium, Green Tea Extract, Pine Bark and Quercitin. Click on www.shirleyvanegmond.ca-en.lifevantage.com/products/axio-locaf/ to find out how this truly is a great option!

Another potential issue concerning your health and carbonated drinks, is the effect on the enamel of your teeth. Apparently the problem lies in the fact that carbon dioxide bubbles change into carbonic acid once it is in our mouths. It lowers the pH of water, making it more acidic, which, similar to acidic foods, can cause dental erosion. I believe this though, would be a problem if you consume higher amounts of carbonated waters. If it’s a treat, or a weekend substitute for pop, a sugary drink or glass or two of wine, it’s not that bad.

So, if it’s the fizz you love, bubbly mineral water still appears to be the best option, carbonated beverages would be second….providing that it contains no added sugar, artificial sweeteners or flavours. As always, I would still recommend plain old filtered water the majority of your fluid intake. These too can have fresh fruit or a favourite herbal tea added to it for a dash of flavour. Or make ice cubes with bits of fruit in them. Pour that into a pretty wine glass and with or without bubbles, it can be beautiful thing!

July 15th Hiitstep Returns

HIITSTEP is a NEW and innovative HIIT exercise class using only your bodyweight and a STEP. It is challenging…but also so much fun at the same time! Burn up to 400 calories in 30 minutes, then continue to burn more calories due to the afterburn effect. HIIT Step will help you improve power, speed, agility and endurance!

Don’t be Discouraged

Recently a client (let’s call her Andrea) commented to me that she accomplished a 25 km bike ride along a local recreational trail. She was so happy and felt incredibly accomplished, as the turnaround spot is at the very top of a very long and grueling hill. She proudly posted a comment about this on her facebook page to share her success! She told me her joy was so short lived as right after her post she noticed 2 other women posted they did 80 and 100km respectively on the same day. Andrea felt so defeated, fearing that her progress was too slow and was asking me what the point was?

I quickly responded, saying the other 2 had likely been riding longer, maybe had better quality bikes and maybe had more spare time than she has to invest in training. All of these are factors in someone’s result. This is exactly why we need to stop looking at other peoples’ goals as a marker for our own success. Andrea started riding in late spring of this year. She has young children and runs a business. She has been giving her all to improving her fitness level and health, and I thought how sad is it that her joy was deflated the moment she saw others do more than her.

Goals are a personal thing. Yes, sometimes we join a group to complete a goal together. But still, each person sets out on their own path to accomplish what they set ahead for themselves. I’m sure the other 2 gals have no idea that their successes that day negatively affected Andrea’s purpose or confidence. And they likely would have encouraged her to keep pushing forward. To not give up. Because they likely too were in her shoes when they were within the first few months of a new challenge.

This was such a clear reminder to me that we always need to put in our best effort when working on accomplishing our goals. We need to keep it in perspective of where we began, where we are going, and to celebrate every accomplishment along the way.

We also have to remember that there are always people ahead and behind us. Don’t be afraid to aspire towards some of those ahead of you, and don’t let their accomplishments devalue your own. Remember as well, to look back, giving support and encouragement to those who aren’t as far along as you are. You know how they feel because you’ve been there.  It’s great to accomplish goals. It’s great to feel successful, but most of us start with humble beginnings. And, thanks to Lao Tzu we know a journey of 1,000 miles begins with a single step.

The Salty Side of Things

Salt on wooden background

Salt, so much more than the box in your Oma’s cupboard! Not only that, it comes in various forms now too. How do you know which one is best? Which ones are for cooking? And, which ones have benefits outside of the realm of food?

Everyone is familiar with table salt. Most will be familiar with sea salt, and a number of you will have heard of Himalayan salt. All of these are options to flavour food, create a scrub or to gargle with warm water to aid a sore throat.

The added bonus of sea and Himalayan salts is they have not been treated and cleaned to the level that table salt has. In the process of making table salt, all the minerals aside from sodium and chloride are stripped from the salt, and as well, it is bleached and refined to look like it does as it comes out of its box. Since 1924, table salt has had iodine added to it as a preventative of iodine deficiency, which is a known cause of hypothyroidism.

Salt is often perceived as unhealthy, especially in large amounts, because it can bind water in the bloodstream and raise blood pressure. The daily recommended intake of sodium for Canadians is 2300 mg. This equates to approximately a single teaspoon amount. A very high percentage of sodium found in the Standard American diet comes from processed foods, so be mindful. You may not be adding it to your food, but eating a lot of processed and packaged foods will already contain it. If you make sure the majority of your foods are wholesome, homemade and unprocessed you should have no problems with taking in too much sodium.

Sea salt is made by evaporating sea water. It too is mostly sodium and chloride. One thing we need to remember however, is the oceans have become quite polluted so sea salt can also contain trace amount of pollutants, such as lead. Sea salt is often less ground than table salt so therefore provides a more granular texture and more flavour, and can contain small amounts of minerals.

Himalayan salt is harvested in Pakistan. It contains small amounts of calcium, iron, potassium and magnesium, and lower amounts of sodium than regular salt. Some will notice a difference, as the flavour is often a bit milder. The main difference is noted in the colour. The pink hew that you see is a from the trace amount of iron oxide.

There appears to be no scientific evidence that shows Himalayan salt provides more health benefits in comparison to either table or sea salt. It does however, contain several minerals, though the doses are small and therefore some believe it is unlikely to bring any notable health benefits.

Both sea salt and Himalayan salts are wonderful for a nice soak, regardless of what part of your body is soaking in it!  Feet, hands, or all of you! Epsom salt as well is a great option. Here’s a fun fact….epsom salt isn’t actually salt at all! It’s a mineral found in water that contains high levels of magnesium and sulfate, which is what is primarily made up of. Any of these above options create a wonderful relaxing at-home spa experience. They will help draw out toxins, cleanse the skin and most importantly, help you relax. Add some essential oils or bubbles to have a wonderfully scent filled experience! Not much beats a hot soak with a good book and a glass of your favourite beverage to sip on! Self-care at its best!

Worth its weight in gold

Aaahhhh, the golden hue of flax! Some call it one of the most powerful plant foods on the planet as it shows some evidence that it may help reduce your risk of heart disease, cancer, stroke and diabetes. Whether you consume this as a seed, or its oil form, flax has benefited many people in a variety of ways. Not bad for such a small seed that was around as early as 3000 BC.

Flaxseeds contain a group of nutrients called lignans, which contain powerful antioxidant and estrogen properties that may help prevent breast and prostate cancer, as well as other types of cancer. In fact, flax seeds contain up to 800 more lignans than other plant food sources.

Flax is a rich source of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), one of the two essential fatty acids that you have to obtain from the foods you eat, as your body doesn’t produce them. This makes them a great source of omega-3 fatty acids, especially if you are a vegetarian or don’t eat fish.

Studies done on animals have shown that the ALA in flaxseeds prevented cholesterol from depositing in the blood vessels of the heart, reduced inflammation in the arteries and reduced tumour growth.

Just a single tablespoon provides protein, fibre and omega-3 fatty acids, in addition to being a rich source of some vitamins and minerals.

Another great fact about flax is, in its ground up form, it’s a fabulous fibre source, containing both soluble and insoluble fibres. These are beneficial in supporting the colon and achieving regular bowel movements. The insoluble fibre also supports digestion keeping you feeling full longer, as well as reducing blood sugar, which is beneficial to diabetics.

Keep in mind though, flax seed oil and ground flax seed are both very vulnerable to both light and heat. Keep the oil in the fridge and do not cook with it, as heating it makes it rancid. Rather drizzle it on foods after cooking, or use it in a salad dressing. Ground flax ideally should be ground and consumed, but seeing that most of us don’t have too much spare time, an alternative is to grind some up and store it in a container in your freezer, taking it out as needed. Add some to a smoothie, your bowl of yogurt or cereal, or sprinkle on your foods once cooked. Its nutty taste is fantastic and its health benefits are astounding!