31 Days and Counting: Finding the Value of Daily Exercise

icytaraI don’t always make resolutions, but at the beginning of each New Year I do take the time to reflect about the past year of my life and think about what future actions I could take to make my coming years better in some way.

Although we are an active family and I’m committed to exercise and a healthy lifestyle, I decided to stretch myself more this year. On January 1st, I committed to exercising at least 30 minutes per day for the next 365 days.  The exercise can be anything that is consistent and sustained for at least 30 minutes – walking, running, yoga, x-country skiing, biking or any other moderate activity. It doesn’t have to be intense, just daily.

I set this goal for a number of reasons, but there is one reason that stands out: The busier life gets, the easier it is to have the things we do to support and maintain our health get further and further down the list of priorities.  By setting this goal and committing to it every day (as opposed to a certain number of times per week), getting my 30 minutes in is one of the first things I think about when I wake up.  I consciously make time in my schedule to make sure it gets done.

After completing my first 31 days I realize how many days in the past I would have missed an opportunity to get outside, breathe fresh air and move my body and blood.  Not because I didn’t have the time, but because I didn’t use my time for this critical part of healthy living.  We all have 30 minutes a day to walk, but there are plenty of days when your life gets a hold of you and the day is over before you’ve had a chance to even think about exercising.

I already feel stronger and healthier. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. If you’re wondering whether it’s worthwhile, here are a few more benefits:

  • You’ll sleep better (and so will your kids if they join you!)
  • You’ll reduce your risk of diabetes, heart disease, cancer, osteoporosis, and almost every other non-congenital condition on the planet
  • You’ll improve your mood and stave off seasonal affective disorder (SAD)
  • You’ll likely notice a change in your body in terms of your body fat and how your clothes fit
  • You’ll boost your immune system and reduce your likelihood of colds and flus

If you’re interested in jumping aboard my 365 days of active living, I encourage you to do so – there’s no need to wait until next January. Recruit a friend. Buy an iPod and use that 30 minutes to learn a language, listen to books, download a great podcast on active living,  or groove to your favorite tune. Or just use the time to disconnect, de-stress and enjoy some solitude.

Only 334 more days to go!

-Tara

Book Review: Healthy at 100

healthy_at_100

In Healthy at 100, John Robbins explores the lifestyles of four of the world’s longest living cultures: the Abkhasians of Southern Russia, the Vilcabambans of Ecuador, the Hunza of Northern Pakistan, and the Okinawans of Japan. The cultures all share an extraordinarily high number of centenarians, and a low incidence of most of the chronic diseases of Western culture.

The essence of the book is an effort to discover what these four long-living cultures have in common. While the discoveries may not be entirely surprising, they way they’re delivered is inspiring nonetheless – this was an insightful read.

Some of the common traits among the cultures that Robbins uncovered during his research include:

Plenty of Moderate Exercise

These are active people, in terms of their lifestyle. Three of the four cultures, in fact, live in mountainous terrain. The daily exercise that they get simply from going about their lives is very high.

High Vegetable Diet

Robbins is a big proponent of the vegan lifestyle, so he may be showing his bias, but all of the cultures ate a diet extremely high in vegetables. Many added dairy or small amounts of meat or fish, but their diet was predominantly plant-based, and in most cases seemed to be moderately low in overall calories.

Love and Connection

Each culture fostered strong familial and communal bonds, with multi-generational homes, and close interaction among people. Even as the elders of society age, they stay engaged with their communities through these close connections. That engagement keeps the older members of society mentally and physically healthy even into their advanced years.

Healthy Attitude Toward Aging and the Aged

This is clearly Robbins’ core message, that our attitude towards the elderly in our culture, and towards our own aging, plays a dramatic role in how well we age physically. By marginalizing the older members of our society and viewing our own aging as a curse, rather than an increase in wisdom and life experience, we reduce our expectations of the elderly, and in doing so speed up their decline.

I listened to the audio version of this book early this year, and the simplicity of the “secrets” of aging well resonated with me. The biggest downside? It’s a little sad that many of these happy, healthy cultures are losing their simple, natural edge as the world changes.

-Tara

PS If you’re interested in other cultures, you might want to join Amanda and Terry from the clinic as they share stories, photos and videos from their mission trip to Senegal, Africa. The presentation will be at The Collingwood Public Library on Wednesday, February 24, 6-8:30 PM. Admission is free, and so are the snacks!

Recipes: How To Cook Kale

kaleKale is a very traditional winter green veggie and is one of my favourite foods.  Like broccoli, it’s part of the brassica family and is full of potent phytochemicals that help your liver neutralize toxins.  It’s also an excellent source of vitamin A, vitamin C and the mineral manganese which, among other things, is important in bone health.

The trick with Kale is in the preparation. Try this:

  • Remove woody stock from leaves.
  • Cut the remaining leaves in strips.
  • Sauté in olive oil with garlic and sea salt to taste.  (You want to sauté it until it is bright green all the way through, and stop before it starts to dry out – about 3-5 minutes.)

You can use it in salads, soups, stews or stir fries, or try my latest favourite: top it with poached eggs, parmesan cheese and cracked pepper – yum!

-Tara

Making Successful Health Changes in 2010

If you’re a resolution maker, you know that it can be painful to make a commitment and not keep it. In fact, those with a trail of unkept resolutions behind them often find that they now resolve to…well, to never resolve again.

The problem, though, isn’t with the idea of making changes for the better in your life. The problem lies in how the changes are made.

Enter Leo Babauta of ZenHabits.net. In his Definitive Guide to Sticking to Your New Year’s Resolutions, he sums up the problems with resolutions:

New Year’s Resolutions usually fail because of a combination of some of these reasons:

  • We try to do too many resolutions at once, and that spreads our focus and energies too thin. It’s much less effective to do many habits at once (read more).
  • We only have a certain amount of enthusiasm and motivation, and it runs out because we try to do too much, too soon. We spend all that energy in the beginning and then run out of steam.
  • We try to do really tough habits right away, which means it’s difficult and we become overwhelmed or intimidated by the difficulty and quit.
  • We try to be “disciplined” and do very unpleasant habits, but our nature won’t allow that to last for long. If we really don’t want to do something, we won’t be able to force ourselves to do it for long.
  • Life gets in the way. Things come up unexpectedly that get in the way of us sticking with a habit.
  • Resolutions are often vague – I’m going to exercise! – but don’t contain a concrete action plan and don’t use proven habit techniques. That’s a recipe for failure.

Leo’s solution? Leo’s 6 Changes Method, which involves choosing one thing at a time to change, and making the changes very slowly. It’s about finding success by building habits in small steps, as opposed to one giant quit-smoking-lose-weight-eat-better-start-exercising-on-the-same-day plan that has a high risk of failure.

This approach of gradual, sustainable success is a great one that we’ve seen work time and time again for patients trying to make challenging lifestyle shifts. If resolutions are your thing, a quick look at Leo’s strategy, or his book The Power of Less, is time well spent.

And if your resolution is just to be happier? Pay a visit to Gretchen Rubin’s blog The Happiness Project for help. Her book by the same name hits the shelves this week – just in time to kick off 2010 the right way!

H1N1: Frequently Asked Questions

It’s been a busy week! H1N1 is top of mind, and based on the emails, phone calls and visits, many of you feel like you’re faced with a difficult choice.

We’ve added an H1N1 FAQ to the website with some of the most common questions we’re fielding here at the office.

If you have a question that’s not listed, feel free to email us at feelbetter@stonetreeclinic.com – we’ll answer the question and add it to the list. You can also use the online contact form.

Remember that prevention is still the best strategy. Our popular immune boosting program is now in full swing. It uses regular high doses of vitamin C intravenously as a natural anti-microbial, and can be a great preventative strategy. It can also be used at first sign of symptoms to stop an illness in its tracks.

Treatments are comfortable and relaxing. For more information, or to schedule your appointment, call us at (705) 444-5331.

If you have concerns about H1N1, read the FAQ’s – there are links to other resources there, too. And of course, as always, if you have questions just contact us. That’s what we’re here for! -Tara

Join Us For an Evening With Dr. David Suzuki

davidsuzuki1On Friday, November 13th, I’ll have the honour of thanking Dr. David Suzuki for his opening keynote at the annual convention of the Ontario Association of Naturopathic Doctors in Toronto.

Dr. Suzuki is one of my heroes – this is a big deal for me. But it’s also a big deal for everyone who joins us – as part of his commitment to reducing his carbon footprint, most of Dr. Suzuki’s appearances are via videoconference. This is a rare opportunity to see him in person.

This presentation by Dr. David Suzuki will mark the opening of the OAND annual convention, which focuses this year on the connection between the environment and health. Dr. Suzuki will present his keynote address, “The Challenge of the 21st Century: Setting the Bottom Line”. It’s open to the public, and I thought some of you might be interested.

Ticket Information

Ticket’s are $36.00 +GST.  To make things even better, for every ticket sold StoneTree will donate $10 to our local Environment Network to put towards their “Outdoor Classroom”.

Tickets can be purchased in person here at the clinic, or the Collingwood Environment Network.  Or you can get them online here. If you’d prefer to buy online, but still want to make sure we make the $10 donation on your behalf, just email us at the clinic or call 705-444-5331 and let us know you bought a ticket and we’ll do our part. It’s the honour system all the way around. 🙂

I hope to see you there!

-Tara

Event Information

An evening with Dr. David Suzuki
brought to you by the Ontario Association of Naturopathic Doctors

Friday, November 13, 2009
Doors open: 5:30 pm
Dr. David Suzuki: 7:00-9:00 pm
Naturopathic Medicine Marketplace: 5:30-7:30 pm

Toronto Congress Centre
650 Dixon Road
Toronto, ON M9W 1J1
Map and Directions

Recipes from our Open House

A big thank-you to everyone who attended our open house. We had some great feedback on the food, but we ran out of recipe cards during the evening so I thought I’d post them here for anyone who missed out. You can also check out Shelby’s recipe page for some others.

The green smoothies were the surprise hit of the night! We don’t have her recipes, but if you want more information on the delicious green smoothies created by Sarah Heipel of Good Energy, you can contact her here. Thanks Sarah!

Enjoy! -Tara

No-Bean Hummus

  • 2 zucchini, peeled and chopped
  • ¾ cup tahini
  • ½ cup fresh lemon juice
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 2 ½ tsp Celtic sea salt
  • ½ Tbsp ground cumin

Combine all ingredients in a food processor; blend until thick and smooth.
Serve with slices of cucumber, zucchini, celery or carrots.

Source: RAWvolution, by Matt Amsden

Marinated Tofu

  • 1 block firm or extra-firm tofu, chopped in to 1cm cubes
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce/ tamari, Bragg’s
  • 1 tsp coriander seed, ground
  • 4 cloves fresh garlic, crushed

* adjust amount of each marinade ingredient according to taste; these amounts are approximations

Combine marinade ingredients and pour over tofu so that all cubes are immersed. Store overnight in refrigerator.
Bake at 400degrees for 30 minutes, or until desired consistency.
Serve on own as a snack or as a protein topping to any salad.

Source:  Juice for Life, by Ruth Tal

Black Bean Dip

  • 1 15-oz can or organic black beans
  • ¼ C of extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • Sea salt & pepper to taste
  • 1 tbs chili powder

First, sauté garlic cloves in olive oil.  Then puree all of the ingredients in a blender.  Serve with organic corn chips as a healthy, yummy snack!

You’re Invited: Our Open House!

Update: Thanks to everyone who joined us at the open house! We had a wonderful evening. If you’d like to try some of the great recipes we offered, you can find them here.

-Tara

Please Join Us…

If you’re curious about how naturopathic medicine works, or are wondering what happens at our Collingwood clinic, then this Thursday, June 18 from 4-7PM is the perfect time to find out. And if you’re already a patient, we’d love to see you!

We’ll be holding our 5th annual open house to celebrate health in our community. It’s become one of our favourite days of the year at the clinic! Bring a friend or family member on Thursday and enjoy:

  • Unique natural foods
  • Free body composition analyses
  • Clinic tours
  • Green smoothies
  • Fantastic recipes

The entire StoneTree team will be there to chat, answer questions, and enjoy spending time with friends old and new.

I look forward to seeing you!

– Tara

The Details:

Thursday, June 18, 2009
4-7PM
StoneTree Clinic – 115 Hurontario Street, Suite 200, Collingwood (map)

The Free and Easy Way to Health: The StoneTree Clinic Walking Club

Update: We’re no longer running the StoneTree walking club. If you’d like a referral to a great coach or personal trainer, though, please contact the office anytime at 705-444-5331.

 

***

One of the greatest challenges to becoming more active is that for many people, fitness can be a lonesome, unappealing idea.  To help make it easier, we’re excited to announce that we’ve started our free StoneTree Walking Club. It’s fun, friendly way to add more activity to your life.

We meet weekdays, rain or shine, for a 45-minute walk on the trails and streets of Collingwood, led by one of the StoneTree team. The walks are free, and open to everyone  You don’t need to be a patient – bring a friend if you like!

We meet at the clinic in downtown Collingwood. No special skills or equipment required – just dress for the weather.

This is an easy way to get outside and get moving, and having someone to walk with always makes things more enjoyable.  I hope to see you there!

-Tara

 

The 3 Plants You Need to Clean Your Home’s Air

It may seem like life in the Collingwood area is full of fresh air. Ski hills in Thornbury, fresh winds in Wasaga Beach – they all make us think our air is clean, but that’s not always the case, especially in the winter, and particularly indoors.

It’s been so nice lately to have a day here and there to open the windows and get some fresh air into the house, and it’s got me thinking, “Wouldn’t it be nice to have this great indoor air quality all year ’round?”

This video from the TED talks just might be the answer.

Researcher and activist Kamal Meattle shows how an arrangement of three common houseplants, used in specific spots in a home or office building, can result in measurably cleaner indoor air.

Meattle’s done some amazing things in his New Delhi office, and you can replicate the results at home, which include increasing oxygen, scrubbing CO2, and removing toxins. The video is only 4 minutes long, so it’s a quick and easy watch. We’re going to test these out in our house and see how they do!

If you can’t see the video above, you can also watch it on the TED site, with some interesting links and commentary from viewers:
http://www.ted.com/index.php/talks/kamal_meattle_on_how_to_grow_your_own_fresh_air.html