May Blog- Mindfit May

As we approach the summer months ahead we typically come into a month of transition and busyness! May is the month where University is out, kids are finishing up school, work revs up, tax season ends, bbq’s begin, summer sport starts up, and general excitement about sunshine to come is in the air! This month at Livfit we want to focus on being Mindfit and easy ways that you can implement mindful strategies into your daily life to help you de-stress and live your best and fullest life!

Mindful Exercise 

Mindful exercise is something you may have just starting hearing about or maybe this is your first time hearing these two words- Mindful and Exercise- paired together! We know that our thoughts contribute to our reality, and that our daily habits can literally change our physiology (read all about it under mindfit this month!), so it makes sense that the way you speak to your body while exercising will have an impact on your results.  Here is what happens in the brain during exercise:

  • Blood flow increases in the brain and promotes the growth of new brain cells
  • Endorphines, serotonine, dopamine, and glutamate are triggered which help you feel better and happier
  • Increases cognitive abilities and decreases the brain from shrinking over time
  • Your nerve cells actually multiply!

Let’s talk about WHY you are exercising. There are a lot of societal pressures telling you why you should exercise, but looking at the route of why you want to be breaking a sweat can help not only in how you feel about exercise, but also how you feel during exercise. Let’s look at fear for a moment. Some people may exercise because of a fear of gaining weight, of not being good enough for their spouse, of being the largest one in the class. But if we were to flip that into wanting to exercise to feel stronger, feeling better in our own skin, and to be the most confident in the class, our workouts would be much more enjoyable and we would be much more likely to workout more often. Taking those voices in our head of self doubt, frustration, and negativity, and flipping them around to empowered beliefs around moving our bodies can have a profound effect on our well being and can actually decrease mortality rates!

We challenge you this month to have positive self talk when working out. All those things your trainers say to you- we want you to say them to yourself. Things like “yes that looks awesome”, “great form you look really stable in that position”, “great core strength keep that up”, and “nice workout! You are amazing!”. Try it out and see how you feel at the end of month!

To read some studies around positive self talk, exercise, and mortality read here:

http://www.apa.org/pubs/journals/releases/hea-hea0000531.pdf

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24121242

How to Beat Burnout -Six Herbs to Reduce Stress –

Adrenal Fatigue AKA “BURN OUT”

Stress is considered anything that shifts the body’s internal environment out of homeostasis (the “sweet spot” in which our body functions optimally). Adrenal fatigue is extremely common in today’s society due to the fast passed lifestyle that the majority of us live in. During burnout the adrenal glands become depleted and are not secreting adequate hormones to function optimally. If left long-term conditions such as insomnia, depression, allergies, weight gain and lowered immune system can develop.

Did you know that you can use herbs medicinally to naturally support your body’s ability to manage stress?

Adaptogens:  Adaptogens are a group of herbs that help the body adapt to stress while naturally restoring the adrenal glands. When taken long-term they have the ability to modulate hormones and balance the nervous system.

  1. Licorice Root – Glycyrrhiza glabra

Licorice root is a widely used adaptogenic herb that contains constituents known as saponins.

What’s really cool about saponins is that they can actually mimic the body’s stress regulating hormone known as cortisol. Saponins have the ability to bind to cortisol receptor sites, as result, can gently stimulate cortisol levels in the body and reduce overall stress.

  1. Ashwangandha – Withania somnifera

This stress reducing herb helps to ease the nervous system and reduce anxiety. It helps to naturally modulate cortisol levels in the body by promoting adequate energy levels upon waking and a restful sleep at night. Ashwaganda is extremely beneficial when taken long-term to promote mental clarity, memory, and stamina.

Nervine tonics: When taken long-term this group of herbs has the ability to strengthen, feed and restore the nervous system.

  1. Oats – Avena Sativa

Yes, you are reading this correctly it says oats. Oats are not only delicious to eat for breakfast, they are also extremely grounding and nourishing for the nervous system. This is a very versatile herb to add into your daily life to promote a calming and relaxing mental environment. Oats can be not only eaten for breakfast, but can be used in a soothing bath to promote healthy skin, and also infused into alcohol to form a potent tincture.

  1. Arctic Rose – Rhodiola rose

Rhodiola is an adaptogenic herb that can be used for both its stimulating and sedating effects in the body depending on how much is taken. It works to protect neurotransmitters which are our body’s chemical communicators. The role of a neurotransmitter is to send chemical messages from the brain to the body telling it what it needs to do. Two primary neurotransmitters that benefit from this herb are serotonin and dopamine which make us happy and feel good.

Nervine Relaxants: This group of herbs is very beneficial for acute stress and tension. As they have sedating effect in the body they should be used generally in the evening to calm and relax the mind.

  1. Passion Flower – Passiflora incarnata

This herb can be specifically used to relieve nervous tension and relax spasms as it surrenders the body into a deep hypnotic state. Due to its sedative effect I like to enjoy this herb as a tea before bed.

  1. Lavender & Lemon balm

I love using both of these herbs in my essential oil diffuser before bed to help reduce mental congestion and promote inner peace.

Join Sarah and Dr Marissa Bentham this month for our Nutrafit and Mindfit workshop! May 24th, 6:45pm up in the Livfit Loft. De-stress to Livfit workshop is all about ways that you can decrease stress in your everyday life to help decrease pain and inflammation and lower anxiety, creating your best summer yet! Register here

4 keys to elevating your mental & emotional health

Think back to the last time you had an elevating experience.  Were you attending a seminar or spending a weekend surrounded with good friends who fill your soul?  Think about how energized and alive you felt.  Would you like to feel that way more often?  What if I told you that this kind of energy is vital to your health and wellbeing?

There is an emerging science called epigenetics that demonstrates the effect that our environment has on the expression of our genes, and ultimately the state of our health.  Epigenetics shows that genes can be up-regulated or down-regulated (turned “on” or “off”) based on our environment.  (Stay with me here!)

Dr. Bruce Lipton, author of “The Biology of Belief”, describes our DNA as a blueprint, and explains that there are over 30,000 different variations that can emerge from that blueprint depending on the demands of our environment.  And more powerful than the environment itself, is our perception of it.  It’s the thoughts, emotions, and energy that we manifest in our bodies that create our reality. 

I know for some people this may seem an abstract concept to grasp, but the implications of it are incredibly important to your health!

Deepak Chopra, MD, who is at the forefront of the health and wellness revolution, recently published an article titled “You Will Transform Your Own Biology”. Dr. Chopra writes “The mind and emotions directly affect gene activity, and since the mind is the source of a person’s lifestyle and behavior, it directs one’s biological transformations.” 

Consider this example from Dr. James Chestnut’s book “The Innate State of Mind and Emotional Hygiene”:

“At Harvard University, women in mind-body support groups for infertility conceive 44% of the time (as opposed to the expected 8-10% rate) and 80% of men with hypertension in mind-body groups are able to decrease their medication, while 16% are able to stop their antihypertensive medication entirely.”

So how does this actually impact you and your health?  Well – it boils down to this.  Our health is really a genetic expression of our lifestyle choices.  It’s our lifestyle choices that create our environment.  Our commitment to good nutrition, exercise and rest are the things that commonly come to mind when we think about a healthy lifestyle.  What I want to express here is this:  Your mental & emotional energy play a vital role in your health. If you’re really serious about optimizing your health, then just like eating well and exercising, you must practice healthy mindset strategies. 

But how do we bring mindfit into our daily lives?  Just like all of you, I have days when I’m feeling stuck, stressed or overwhelmed.  So here is the “go to” practice in our family!

4 keys to elevating your mental & emotional health:

  1. Practice gratitude.Whether you keep a gratitude journal (Yes, even our kids have one!) or ground yourself in yoga or meditation, this is a powerful way to trigger almost immediate changes in your physiology.  True story.
  2. Connect with nature.Walk through the forest or sit and watch the waves.  Being in nature reduces anger, fear and stress and increases positive emotions.
  3. Get physical.Jump on your bike, go for a run, or hop into Livfit Studio.  We all know the positive impact that those amazing endorphins have.
  4. Make a contribution.Coach a team, contribute to a fundraiser, or practice random acts of kindness.  Helping others elevates your happiness.  It’s as simple as that.

Join Dr Marissa Bentham and Sarah Heavenor this month for our Nutrafit and Mindfit workshop! May 24th, 6:45pm up in the Livfit Loft. De-stress to Livfit workshop is all about ways that you can decrease stress in your everyday life to help decrease pain and inflammation and lower anxiety, creating your best summer yet! Register here 

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April Blog- Your Second Brain

April at Livfit is all about improving your brain health! Not just the brain that we have upstairs but also our “second brain”- the gut. Specifically, your second brain that we are referring to is the enteric nervous system. This is the part of the nervous system that controls the gastrointestinal system. You may have experienced the “pit in your stomach” or “gut feeling” before; this is a result of the information superhighway signalling your brain from your gut that you are stressed, hungry, or have a bad microbe in your system. Our focus this month at Livfit is healing your second brain!

This month we are also excited to welcome you to our Livfit Open House to bring in the spring and summer seasons! Join us for this FREE event at Livfit!

Spring is finally here! Sometimes, the cold wet winter months can decrease our fitness levels (unless we make time for regular exercise indoors). As the temperature rises and the skies clear, this makes it easier to enjoy outdoor physical activities such as walking, hiking, outdoor sports, and gardening.

While I encourage all forms of physical activity and exercise that feel good for your body, sometimes jumping right into hours in the garden can be hard on your joints, especially if you’re coming out of a less-active season. This is why I believe it’s important to maintain your fitness levels year-round, targeting mobility, strength, and aerobic-based movements. Since the core is the center of the body, I recommend starting any exercise program with a focus on core strength first. See the image below for my favorite core exercise, the front plank. This exercise strengthens your core muscles isometrically, meaning without movement, so that you can translate this strength into other activities, such as lifting in the garden. What a great way to protect your spine!

Fertilizer isn’t just for the garden…

Did you know that regular exercise also has profound benefits for the health of your brain? Exercise boosts the “fertilizer” of the brain – BDNF or brain derived neurotrophic factor – which helps your brain build new neurons. Studies show that the growth of new neurons (brain cells) may help to protect against age-related cognitive diseases such as Alzheimer’s. Another benefit of BDNF (and therefore, regular exercise) is an increase in your productivity, creativity, and ability to focus. So yes, exercise can make you smarter!

You may think that “gut health” or “digestion” is exclusive to the stomach or intestines, however the ecosystem of bacteria in these organs communicate with cells within your entire body. Even if you aren’t struggling with typical “gut” symptoms, you may not have realized that fatigue, low energy, mood swings, irritability, and forgetfulness could be signs that you need to pay extra attention to your gut health. And how do you think these symptoms might impact your desire or motivation to exercise? Nourishing your gut health and moving your body go hand-in-hand! Exercise helps to increase circulation, which improves the functions of all organ systems as they all rely on adequate blood flow. This means that exercise can help promote healthy digestion. This is yet another reason that exercise should be a part of your regular routine.

Take-away points:

Spring means more time for outdoor activities, increasing your chances of exercising regularly

  • Be mindful of jumping back into activities such as gardening that could be hard on your joints
  • Begin your exercise program with a focus on core strength first
  • Find a way to stay active year-round, so that you can maintain your fitness levels
  • Regular exercise has brain-boosting benefits, including the growth of new brain cells
  • Your digestion or gut health may be limiting you from exercising, and exercise may improve your digestive health

Gut health is a very hot topic right now! We are lucky to be able to access so much information on the gut and our digestive system however; figuring out what works best for your body can be an investment in time and can get frustrating.Our advice is to always make sure you know where the information is coming from. Doing your own research is great and can be easy from your home or cell phone, just make sure you trust the source and visit with your nutrionist about your lifestyle change!

With spring here and summer approaching, patio drinks begin to sneak their way back into our lives. We know the damaging effects of too much alcohol in the body and by no means do we suggest consuming it as part of a healthy lifestyle but…we also know that those baby showers, weddings, family vacations, and reunions are fast approaching and sometimes you want to indulge in a tasty bevvy! Sarah is sharing her favorite “Whiskey Ginger Smash” recipe this month to help you combat the alcoholic sugar ridden beverages! This also makes a GREAT mocktail- so you can try it that way too!

If you suffer from indigestion, bloating, diarrhea, abdominal pain, or any digestive discomfort you will want to grab a spot in Sarah’s upcoming workshop! Join us on April 24th from 645-8pm for some tasty recipes, home tips, and gut education!

Nutrafit Recipe of the month

WHISKEY GINGER SMASH

Ingredients

  • 2/3 cup ginger kombucha (I love GT kombucha as its low sugar content)
  • 1/3 cup soda water
  • ½ cup ice cubes
  • ½ -1 tsp fresh grated ginger root
  • ¼  lemon (juice)
  • 1 sprig fresh rosemary
  • 1 shot whiskey (optional)

Instructions

  1. Fill glass 1/2 full with ice cubes
  2. Add 1 ounce of whiskey to each glass (optional)
  3. Using a micro blade or fine food grater – grate fresh ginger root (I love ginger for its spicy flavour – add less to start if you are have never had fresh ginger root before)
  4. Add lemon juice, kombucha & soda water
  5. Add one sprig of fresh rosemary to each glass (doubles as a stir stick!)
  6. Give your cocktail a good stir & serve!

Remember that life is about moderation. If having a couple cocktails on the weekend helps to bring balance into your life then I would highly recommend giving this recipe a try!

For those who prefer to leave the whiskey out, this recipe makes for a delicious mocktail as well!

HEALTH BENEFITS

LEMON is not only delicious for its natural acidic flavour but also for it’s amazing benefits for our health. Alcohol can be really taxing on the liver (our primary organ for detoxification); as a result, I always try to balance out my cocktails with detox stimulating foods like lemon. Lemon also helps to stimulate our digestive organs which can be extremely helpful while boozin it up.

FRESH GINGER is probably one of my favourite herbs right now because I absolutely love its natural spicy flavour in just about anything! A lot like lemon, ginger also helps to naturally stimulate digestion and detoxification! In addition, ginger is also an amazing anti-inflammatory superfood helpful for counteracting the negative pro-inflammatory side effects of alcohol! For those of you who suffer from digestive upset while drinking like cramping, bloating or nausea ginger is probably going to become your new best drinking buddy on Friday nights!

FRESH ROSEMARY is an amazing herb that I believe is typically overlooked for its medicinal benefits. One of the reasons I believe rosemary brings so much more to this cocktail other than just flavour is for its ability to tonify and stimulate the nervous system. What this means is that it helps to increase circulation to the head improving mental clarity, memory and vision all of which typically go out the window while drinking alcohol… am I right??!! It also helps to increase blood flow to the digestive tract which really comes in handy if you are like me and suffer from constipation after a night out drinking.

KOMBUCHA is the ultimate gut friendly cocktail mix because its loaded with probiotics! When I’m craving something sweet and fizzy kombucha always hits the spot! There are so many amazing flavours out there but ginger comes in first every time! When shopping for booch be mindful of added sugars. Kombucha requires sugar during the fermentation process; however, some companies add extra to make it taste sweeter … so unnecessary!

 

Did you know that stress has been linked to numerous chronic conditions and diseases?! That nervous pit in your stomach, cravings, loss of appetite, and digestive issues, can all be linked to our second brain. We have a few tips this month on how to de-stress and let your digestion take a break 😉

  1. Meditation- in March we started meditating with Deepak and Oprah for their “shedding the weight 21 day free series”. You can still sign up online (chopracentremeditation.com) for the remaining days to start your journey with meditation! Here are the top 5 benefits of meditation identified by the Chopra Centre:
    1. Decreases blood pressure and hypertension
    2. Lowers cholesterol levels
    3. Increase the production of DHEA (anti-aging hormone)
    4. Decreases Inflammation
    5. Improves Immune Function
  2. Essential oils- we rave about these all the time because we know the power they have! Out  top 3 picks to help support digestion are:
    1. Peppermint- if you are experiencing digestive discomfort this oil can act as  carminative and antispasmodic. This will help settle the stomach as well act as a nervine and calmative which enhances relaxation.
    2. Lemon- lemon is carminative which can help with indigestion, acidity, upset stomach, and cramps.
    3. Tarragon- this is an amazing oil! Tarragon can help lubricate the intestinal wall to support digestion. It can also help with the absorption of nutrients as well as eliminate toxins, and is also a powerful anti-fungal!
  3. Nature, nature, nature! Getting outdoors this spring can help bring down stress and release endorphins! Not only that but when you are outdoors you are more likely to get moving- which means all the benefits of exercise as well! If you are someone who loves gardening but has trouble with your joints or sore muscles after hours in the garden then Martina’s upcoming Garden Fit workshop is the perfect opportunity for you to learn safe, effective, and efficient planting skills!  

Upcoming workshops and events

This month at Livfit we have lots of great workshops and events to help you work towards your goals and optimal health!

GardenFit- April 14, 10:30-12:00pm If you experience discomfort while digging, pain in your back while planting, or sore joints while potting, then our upcoming Gardenfit workshop with Martina Salling, BSFL, Kin., is for you! Learn how to safely plant all spring long, avoid injuries, the proper techniques for bending and lifting, and stretches you should be doing to reduce pain and inflammation. You will receive a home care sheet that includes exercises and stretches that you can do anywhere, anytime! Plus put your new skills to the test while planting a mint plant to take home! Click here to register!

Livfit’s Open House- April 22, 11:00-2:00 pm Join us for a free event at Livfit studio! Speak to the livfit professionals, enjoy a free class or sample workshop, pick up a deal, or win a prize! This day is all things Livfit and a great way to leap into spring and summer!

Go With Your Gut- April 24, 6:45-8:00 pm If you feel abdominal discomfort, digestive issues, issues absorbing nutrients, constipation, bloating, fatigue, or stomach pain, then you will want to hear what Sarah has to say! Sarah Heavenor, CNP, is talking all things GUT HEALTH at her upcoming workshop. Learn about the gut and digestive system, what could be hindering your health, and how to improve your gut health. Take home handouts with information and a recipe! PLUS: make your own sauerkraut to take home! Click here to register!

 

 

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