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You wake up in the morning, kind of tired of your usual oatmeal, or green smoothie and are thinking that you would like to try something different. 

You give it some thought, coming up with a few ideas, only to think yourself, “yeah, but I can’t have that, because it’s not breakfast food!” 

You might not think of veggies as breakfast food, and instead be inclined to have fruit, but with their lower sugar and carbohydrate content, and rich nutrient profile, arguably, veggies are one of the best things you can eat to start your day. 

Turn your pre-conceived ideas of acceptable breakfast foods on their head and try these delicious ways of integrating veggies into the most important meal of the day

  • Veggie based smoothie – Typically smoothies are fruit based, containing banana, a few types of frozen fruit and then some type of nut milk or coconut water for blending. The result however is a relatively sugar high drink that while nutritious, does not maximize the nutrient potential of your drinkable meal.  Instead, start adding spinach to all of your smoothies, and throw in vegetables such as steamed cauliflower, steamed broccoli, frozen peas, mashed sweet potato and zucchini.  All of these foods lend bulk and nutrients to your smoothie, without affecting the taste!
  • Zucchini oatmeal – Instead of your typical oatmeal, made with oats and the addition of banana, almond butter and some frozen blueberries, substitute half your oats with shredded zucchini! The zucchini will behave similarly to oats when cooked, doesn’t affect the flavor of your breakfast, but lends a great addition of fiber and boosts the breakfast nutrient profile!
  • Eggs on lettuce – If you are more of the egg type when it comes to breakfast, scramble up your eggs as usual, and toss in whatever veggies you have on hand: red pepper, spinach, zucchini, tomato and green pepper all work well. After they are cooked, instead of serving them on toast, serve them in lettuce cups!  You still get the crunch and the delivery vehicle, but way fewer carbs and the health benefits of greens!
  • Savory muffins – Make your breakfast ahead by whipping up savory muffin on the weekend. While you might think of muffins as being a sweet option, loaded with blueberries in a cake like consistency and topped with a sweet crumble, savory muffins are totally a thing!  Make your muffins with spinach, zucchini and flavor with herbs and salt.  You won’t need a sweetener like sugar or maple syrup, so you’ll save those calories, plus boost the nutrients by using vegetables!
  • Mushroom sandwich – Bring in the weekend with your favorite breakfast sandwich! This weekend though, instead of using bread, place your toppings between two Portobello mushrooms!  Bake the mushrooms up in the oven, or cook in a frying pan on the stove top and then fill with your favorite things: eggs, spinach, tomato, cheese, Dijon mustard, avocado and a pinch of salt.  Place the mushroom on top and you get the sandwich experience with more health benefits and fewer carbs.  Win win.
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Skinny Teatox by Bethany Barich - 3w ago

If you’ve been seeing a lot of images popping up in your newsfeed about new Pilates studios, a new Pilates workout, or your friend trying out a Pilates class, it’s for good reason. 

This core focused fitness trend, is an amazing way to build core strength, and improve your overall physique. 

It is low impact and serves as a great way to reduce several other pains and maladies within your body, which, without you even realizing, may be from low core strength and stability. 

Check out these benefits of Pilates, and why you should give it a try:

  • Reduces lower back pain – One of the number one causes of low back pain is poor core strength. When the core is weak, the lower back is one of the first areas to compensate and to kick in to pick up where the core is unable to finish.  For example, coming from a lying position to an upright position, or lifting something up off the floor, should use the strength of the glutes and core.  For many people however, because these muscles are weak, the lower back takes the hit, and the result overtime is chronic lower back pain. 
  • Low Impact – Pilates is done on the floor, lying on a mat. There is no impact component involved and in many instances, you will use a blanket, blocks or other props to support your muscles and body so that it is in a comfortable resting position.  The result is that you don’t get injured or make current injuries worse, but in addition, you also are able to work all of the muscles you are supposed to, because the rest of your body is supported and relaxed.
  • Improves strength and stability – Anatomically, the core makes up a large part of our torso area. Therefore, it only makes sense that it also plays a large role in helping us to achieve and maintain our balance, have strength and stability in our body when it comes to bending down, getting up, moving from side to side and even lifting and lowering our limbs.  If you feel that you have bad balance, struggle to get up or bend down easily, or seem to always feel a strain in your back when you lift things, it may be a good idea to build up your core strength and boost your powerhouse using Pilates
  • Helps in injury recovery – Many physiotherapists are recommending or offering Pilates as part of their individually prescribed treatment protocols for clients. In some instances, there is clinical Pilates offered onsite at the physiotherapy clinic, while in other cases, the therapist will suggest a Pilates studio to attend.  This is because physiotherapists have recognized the role that building core strength can have on helping individuals overcome injury and pain and work towards recovery.  Many issues that occur with the back, hips and legs are often as a result of poor core strength, whereby another area of the body has overcompensated, resulting in injury and strain.
  • You feel it working – You might not walk away from your first class with a six-pack, but learn how to activate your core in class and you’ll feel it working. And then you’ll feel, the next day, just how much you worked it.  It’s rewarding to feel sore from putting in the work, and more than that, it’s rewarding to start to feel (and see) progress from your efforts.  Pilates allows you to have all of these things, plus just the good feeling of knowing you looked after your body!
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When it comes to this time of year, we always focus on spring-cleaning our house. 

We clean out cupboards, get rid of old clothes, de clutter the kitchen, and maybe even tackle the garage. 

But it’s also a great time of year to put some extra time and love into your health and focus on cleansing your body physically and mentally. 

As the winter is now far behind us and summer is approaching, set yourself up for the fresh season ahead by engaging in some of these spring cleaning activities:

  • Cleanse your digestive system – The digestive system works hard – every day, all of the time – and every once in a while we need to give it a break and let it have a rest. This is important so it can rest physically as well as so it has a chance to do repairs.  A cleanse does not have to involve several days of juice fasting or drinking only water, rather, you can simply nourish it with easily digestible foods.  Start the night before by eating your last meal at 7 pm and then fasting until at least 7 am the next day.  Have a green juice for breakfast, as well as warm lemon water, and continue to drink lots of water throughout the day.  Eliminate coffee, opting for tea instead, and for lunch have a green smoothie.  Mid afternoon, you can have another juice, high in veggies, low in fruit and then opt for a green soup or smoothie bowl for dinner.  These soft, liquid like foods are already partially digested, limiting the work required by the digestive system.
  • Work out your lymphatics – The lymphatic system is responsible for moving through cellular waste to be eliminated through the lymph nodes. This system does not have a pump that moves the waste, like your heart does, so we must do it manually.  Take some time each day over the next week to devote extra effort to cleansing your lymphatic system.  This might mean simply a few minutes of deep breathing, increasing your daily exercise and movement, taking an Epsom salt bath, or going into a steam room.  All of these things encourage cellular movement, which helps the waste move along to be eliminated.
  • Detox your liver – The liver is the seat of anger. An unhealthy liver, which is muddled with toxins, can be at the root of pent up anger or hostility to an individual.  If you feel this is you, take some time to journal about your anger and frustration, where it has stemmed from and what you can do to curb it from building up further.  Then, adopt a liver healthy diet: eat bitter foods, like radicchio and endive, drink milk thistle tea, drink lots of water and reduce your intake of fatty foods, high sugar foods and processed foods.  Finally consume anti-inflammatory rich foods like turmeric and licorice root.
  • Cut off a relationship that is not serving you – You don’t have to be harsh about it, or make it difficult, but we all have those people in our life who get us down more than bring us up. They are a burden on us, or perhaps make us feel bad about ourselves, and regardless, we don’t need them in our life.  Over the next few weeks, work on weaning this relationship out of your life, or make changes to minimize your interaction with said person.  You will feel a sense of relief and pride for having the guts to do it, and you will likely find your mental wellbeing and state of mind improves as well.
  • Forgive someone – It does not do you or anybody else any good to hold grudges, have negative feelings towards someone, or to let past interactions get in the way of present and future ones. If you have an ongoing issue with an individual, be the bigger person and forgive, apologize if necessary, and make amends in whatever way you have to.  This may involve the other person, whereby you need to actually have a conversation with them, or it may be just something you need to do in your own head and heart.  Move forward.

 

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There is much buzz surrounding waist trainers and corsets these days.

It’s a new, and well received, way of reducing the waistline and helping tone your midsection.

The main idea is to wear the corset/waist trainer during your workouts, and it’ll begin to help target those core muscles between your hips and ribcage.

Not only is a great thing to be stabilizing and strengthening you core, but also at the same time, using a corset/waist trainer helps ease strain in your back.

However, the biggest, and popular reason to use one is to achieve that gorgeous hourglass figure.

But don’t think this is all you’ll need to do to achieve that look.

Many things go into losing weight like a balanced diet, cardio, and strength training. 

f you’re not accustomed to working out regularly, start by doing some cardio exercises first which will help you lose fat and increase that metabolism.

So what type of workouts can be done while using a corset/waist trainer?

Let’s look:

Side Plank Dips
Side plank dips - YouTube

This move definitely is one of the best to target your obliques. If you’re unable to get on your legs, stay on your knees until you’ve built the strength up. It’s perfect for not only cinching the fat on your waist, but you’re getting a great workout in your shoulders and your legs.

Bicycle Crunches
How to Do the Bicycle - YouTube

Another workout that targets your obliques – the added bonus to bicycle crunches is it also targets your abdominals too! Add this into any workout you’re currently doing to get that extra burn for your core.

If you’re crunched for time (no pun intended) there’s other quick ways to get a good workout in that is specifically for your waist.

 Pilate’s instructor, Cassey Ho (who runs Blogilates) has a great and quick six-minute workout to help with shrinking your waist.

Along with that quickie, she also has another waist slimming routine that is worth trying out.

FitnessBlender, a channel on Youtube, has an abdominal and oblique workout.

And finally, if you’re more a yogi check out a video Tara Stiles has for a nice and effective routine.

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Tired of falling off track with your healthy eating plans?

Not sure how you can stay healthy and eat the foods that will keep you energized?

Here’s a place to start, with these 5 essential foods that healthy people eat: 

Leafy Greens

Packed with magnesium and B vitamins, an exceptional source of fibre, iron and protein, leafy greens are a winner when it comes to getting a maximized dose of nutrients. They are a rich source of antioxidants and polyphenols and are far more versatile than you may realize. Not only can you use them for a salad, but you can put them in smoothies for a nutrient boost, add them to stir fries or even put them in sauces and soups. Be sure to try different varieties of greens, including spinach, kale, watercress, rocket and mustard greens to get a variety of nutrients.

Sweet potato

A complex carbohydrate, there are more than a few reasons to love sweet potatoes - and definitely more than a few ways to eat them. Loaded with magnesium to help reduce stress and improve sleep, these bright orange vegetables are a great source of antioxidants and vitamin A, good for your eyes and packed with fiber. This combination of nutrients and their staying power make them a great way to fill you up and let you feel satiated and satisfied.

Walnuts

While most natural nuts and seeds are good, including pumpkin seeds, Brazil nuts and almonds, walnuts get a special mention because of their health benefits for the brain. The brain is largely made of fat and we need to regularly replenish it with the right kinds of fat to keep it healthy and functioning. This is important for focus, concentration and cognitive function while aging.

Blueberries

Berries are a great fruit choice because they are lower in sugar than many other fruits and have an impressive nutrient boost behind them. Blueberries for example are high in folate, a B vitamin that is essential for DNA synthesis and they are one of the best sources of antioxidants. Antioxidants are crucial for helping to prevent cancer, for reducing heart disease and much more.

Broccoli

Calcium, antioxidants, B vitamins, fiber and Vitamin A, there is a reason your mom told you to eat your broccoli. This hearty vegetable is a great addition to your diet and you can eat it raw or cooked. Steam it and sprinkle with lemon and salt, or roast in the oven for 15 minutes. One of the best things about broccoli is how quickly it cooks and how easy it is to prepare, in the end, making it healthy, practical and convenient to add to your everyday food menu.

With a few simple additions to your pantry and some consistent effort in your shopping at the grocery store, it is easy to both stay healthy and find foods you like. Keep these 5 foods that healthy people eat on hand to make sure you reach your health goals.

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When it comes to activity and working out, the last thing many of us want is to suffer from an injury that leaves us sidelined and not able to head to the gym or get out the door for a run.

This is especially detrimental when it seems like you have just gotten on track with your plans for healthy eating and exercise.

Lucky for you, physiotherapy isn’t the only modality when it comes to helping you recover from injury and there are several options for you to try.

Chiropractor

Many people assume chiropractors are there for problems with your neck or back, to give it a crack and move along. In reality though, the root of many issues throughout the body can be addressed through mis-alignment issues within the body, and these can be addressed by a chiropractor. A chiropractor is able to analyze your hips, pelvis, lower back, leg and knee alignment and much more.

Sauna

These hot rooms have come a long way since the classic steamy box you used to go into at the local pool. Now infrared saunas are becoming increasingly popular, and for good reason: these saunas use infrared lamps that emit electromagnetic radiation. The skin absorbs the radiation, increasing the vibration of water molecules under the skin and eventually uses them to become active enough to increase your body’s temperature and force you to sweat. The sweating is good for detoxification, as well as encouraging recovery by improving blood flow and circulation.

Pilates

This movement practice has roots in the holistic beliefs of its founder, Joseph Pilates, and is for more than just the abs. Pilates uses the entire body and mind, focusing on strengthening muscles that are causing pain and weakness in other areas of the body. For example, poor glute strength may be the cause of knee problems or issues with hips and back. Furthermore, Pilates focuses on working with the mind and establishing the mind body connection and this is critical in any area of health where recovery is required, whether physically or emotionally.

Cryotherapy

If you have heard of ice baths and become aware of the role they can play in encouraging proper recovery, you can think of cryotherapy as the next level up. This therapy involves standing in a room for four to five minutes that is set at a temperature between -100 and -140 degrees Celsius. This recovery method is great for recovery physically, in addressing inflammation, but also in helping with immunity and aiding in overall wellness.

Whether you are looking to educate yourself on additional recovery methods, or are in need of the right type of recovery for yourself, you are no longer limited to simply your at home ice pack or going to the physiotherapist. Give some thought to your symptoms and do some research into the proper recovery options that will maximize your chance of helping you feel better.

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If you’re planning on spending some time this year reducing your environmental impact and trying to play your part in helping out the earth, there’s an easy place to start: your food choices.

By now, most of us have seen videos or heard about the ways in which animal consumption negatively impacts our environment, but you might not know what part you can play in helping.

Here’s a few places where you can start:

1. Shop Locally and Seasonally

Raise your hand if you want to have delicious tasting food that is cheaper and environmentally friendly at the same time? Eat local is the answer! When you choose food that is in season and grown by local farmers, you are able to have food that tastes good and is nutrient rich because it is not force-grown out of season. Because it comes from nearby, there is less energy used in the process of transportation, and less energy used in storage. At the same time, you get to support your local farmers and local community because you are buying food that likely comes from someone who farms within your region or province/state. Overall it is a big win.

2. Compost Your Food Waste

Whether it’s your vegetable peels, your coffee grinds or your apple cores, a lot of the waste that goes into the garbage bin can actually be composted. No matter what type of diet you are following, chances are you have lots of it that are parts of plants – peels, stems, stalks and seeds – and you can use this to help the environment, both as a good for new plants and to reduce the amount of waste that ends up in landfills. You can maintain a compost pile at home, allowing the compost to accumulate and then applying it to your own garden. Alternatively, many towns and cities are now offering compost services with their public garbage pick-up, and this is an incredibly environmentally friendly way to reduce waste and help support further plant growth at the same time.

3. Choose Plants

You don’t have to go fully plant based and cut out animal products forever, but it is no secret that the production of animal-based protein uses excessive amounts of water and energy, while simultaneously producing high levels of waste – both manure and otherwise! When you choose to consume more plants and less animal protein, you reduce water consumption and energy output, as well as cut down on transportation pollution from the movement of animals and farm waste. In addition, opting to consume more plants allows you to have a more nutrient dense dietary selection, and encourages farmers to grow a larger variety of crops. When the demand is there and crops are rotated, the soil is healthier and our produce is healthier as a result. In the end, just like seasonal produce, it’s a win for everyone involved.

While we regularly try to take shorter showers or turn off the lights, there are other ways we can also help to reduce our environmental impact. Much of it comes down to our food choices, and simply making a few simple daily changes that will help you, your family and the earth may be all that it takes!

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This low carb thing is popping up all over the place, and for many people it proves to be an effective way to lose weight, or manage their weight, while still felling like they are getting a healthy intake of food and having things they enjoy.

For others however, cutting carbs is more difficult, or for some people, just not the way they want to live the rest of their life.

The good news is, there is a happy medium, and you can swap some of your carbs for better ones!

Go With More Veggies

While you may think of carbs as things like pasta, bread or cereal, did you know that vegetables are also carbohydrates? This is good news because you can eat lots of vegetables while still having a lower carbohydrate intake. Vegetables are packed with nutrients and antioxidants and offer a sustainable nourishment to the body. In other words, not only do they give you what you need nutritionally, but they also fill you up so that you feel fuller for longer after eating them.

Opt for Fibre

Part of the reason you feel full for a longer time after eating vegetables is because they are packed with fibre. Fibre is not only important for satiation and helping you feel full for a long period after eating, but is also essential for proper digestion, ensuring you can maintain regular bowel movements, and to help in maintaining proper balance of your gut microbes. Fibres from the stalks of vegetables and legumes act as prebiotics, which are food for the probiotics of your stomach.

Find a Balance

The thing with cutting out carbs is that if you are doing it to lose weight, doing it for a short time and then adding them back in will not allow you to maintain your weight loss. Essentially, you may lose weight, but you likely won’t keep it off once you decide to go back to consuming higher carbohydrate levels. It is not that carbohydrates are bad, just that it is important to find a balance in how many you consume, and in what type you are consuming. Consume most of your carbohydrates from vegetables, as detailed above; for grain based carbohydrates, make sure they are whole grain and rich in fibre. And for each change you make, ask yourself if you can see yourself maintaining it for your life. If not, it may not be a sustainable change.

Like any dietary change, the goal is to find something that is sustainable and that you can do for an extended period of time. Choosing diets that are a quick fix or that you know you won’t want to continue with in a couple of months is simply setting yourself up for failure. Set yourself up for success instead and choose whole foods more often, eat a variety of foods and incorporate more plants into your diet. Collectively these things will allow you to feel full and satisfied and make changes that create a lifestyle that will last a life-time!

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Lower back pain is a common symptom of pain and discomfort for many people.

In fact a lot of people simply assume it is their new normal and that there is nothing they can do about it or no way they can fix it.

In reality however, there are typically some concrete things that are at the root of lower back pain, and with a few simple changes or adopting some new things into your routine, you can eliminate your symptoms and suffer from pain less.

Poor Core Engagement

Here’s the thing: the back is very strong and incredibly capable. But only when it is supported by the muscles that are designed to help it out. The abdominals are composed of several muscle groups which run up and down, side to side and on a diagonal across the front of the body. In essence they are structured to be able to support all directions of movement. They work in concert with the back through flexion, extension, and lateral movements to make sure the back is protected and properly moving. This only happens however when we engage those muscles and support them in doing the work. The muscles are always there, but when we don’t train them to be active and work regularly, they don’t. adopt core work as part of your regular exercise routine, and become more aware of whether you are activating your core during your regular day to day activities.

Poor Posture

While core engagement is a huge part of what influences proper posture and ensures we maintain adequate positioning of the body in our day to day activities, it is not the only thing. The core lines the trunk and helps support the spine and allow an upright position, but the shoulders, neck and back also come into play. The habitual routine of hunching over computers, driving a car and texting on our phone mean that there is a tendency for our shoulders to collapse inward and the muscles across our chest to shorten, due to regularly being compressed. To improve your posture, start by becoming aware of it and notice how you are regularly sitting and standing. Roll your shoulders back and try to open up across your chest, lengthening down your spine. Combined with core engagement as discussed above, this should work to reduce lower back pain.

Poor Dietary Choices

It may sound silly, but when your diet includes regular intake of processed foods and refined sugar, your will likely feel the impact through lower back pain. This is caused by a combination of the digestive system suffering and having to compensate for the less than ideal foods, but also because the body is not properly fuelled and not receiving optimized nutrient intake. When you alter your diet to start consuming whole foods, including lots of vegetables and leafy greens, plant sources of protein and complex carbohydrates, you will see your symptoms of lower back pain likely dissipate.

Start with assessing your diet and then incorporate five minutes of core strengthening exercises into your routine each day. From there, work on body awareness including your posture and regular core activation in your day to day routine.

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Being healthy, reaching your goals and staying on track with your health routine doesn’t have to be complicated.

In fact, in many cases, we end up making it far more complicated than necessary and forget about a few basic things we can do to enhance our health and wellbeing.

Start with these 3 simple habits to improve your lifestyle and stay healthy and happy:

1. Move More

While doing daily exercise is important and a critical part of overall health, many of us complete our exercise and then forget about movement for the rest of the day, instead spending the time sitting at a desk, working on a computer or watching TV. In reality however, exercise during the day is only a small part of the importance of movement. Sitting regularly causes back and neck problems, as well as issues with the hip flexors due to them being permanently in flexion. Increased sitting makes us more fatigued, and is often at the root of our resistance to exercise later in the day, causing us to reach for unhealthy food selections that are quick and easy. Committing to simply getting up and walking every hour, or going up and down a flight of stairs may be all that you need to keep you healthy and maintain a lifestyle that promotes your health goals.

2. Increase Water Intake

When was the last time you drank water, or more than that, when was the last time you drank enough water? Many of us are walking around dehydrated or without adequate fluid intake, and this has negative effects on several parts of our health, including our focus and concentration, digestion, elimination, and nutrient extraction. Lack of water will also make you likely feel sluggish and tired, depleting your energy and making you want to be lazy instead of active. If you have a hard time remembering to drink, simply set a timer for every hour and drink on the timer.

3. Set up Your Sleep

While sleep may seem simple in that you just go to bed every night, getting a quality sleep is far more complicated and requires a bit more thought and effort. One of the best ways to do this is to establish a sleep schedule that you can adopt and maintain every night. This starts in the hour or two before bed: turn off your phone and screens, have a relaxing tea and then ease yourself into bed with time to wind down and let your body come into sleep mode. Establishing a routine and doing the same thing every night is one of the best ways to ensure you are able to get to sleep as well as stay asleep and have a quality rest every evening.

Whether your goal is to lose weight, have more energy, eat better, or to improve your sleep, much of it starts with some simple changes that you can maintain and adopt easily and consistently.

By: Laura Peill, RHN, BScH

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