I'm so excited to announce that I as of May 1st 2017 I will be joining the awesome wellness team at Toronto Yoga Mamas on Queen East in Leslieville, Toronto! I will be at Yoga Mamas on Mondays from 1pm-8pm and Fridays from 9am-1pm. I will also have weekend appointments available by appointment only.
The Toronto Yoga Mamas wellness team is a one-stop-shop for all your holistic health needs as a mama or mama to be. With amazing chiropractors, acupuncturists, pelvic floor physiotherapists and registered massage therapists, you and your body are well taken care of. At Toronto Yoga Mamas I will be offering Prenatal, Postpartum, Fertility, and General Women's Health Naturopathic Medicine Services.
And as the name suggests, Toronto Yoga Mamas started as a beautiful yoga studio, and has grown organically to include anything and everything a new mom might need - from educational events, doula services, workshops, a beautiful boutique shop, and more. The studio is such a relaxing place, and I invite you to come by soon for a visit with me!
You can book online, give the studio a call at (416) 406-0116, or email them at email@example.com
Yup - I mean it. No more calorie counting! The old notion that to maintain your weight you need to ensure that calories in = calories out might not make sense anymore. What might even be more detrimental is that if you are trying to LOSE weight, it's not as simple as making sure that you're burning more than you're putting in - turns out that the balance of your meal matters, in a big big way!
With March being Nutrition Month, I want to take you back to basics to understand why the balance in your meals matters. We're going to talk about creating a balanced meal, which in my opinion can be divided into 4 main groups - Vegetables, Protein, Carbohydrates and Fat.
In addition to maintaining or losing weight, following these simple guidelines is going to help with many other health conditions or help you achieve other health goals. Specifically, eating a meal that contains each of these 4 food groups is going to be helpful if you are:
Meet the Healthy Plate!
Looks simple right? And guess what? It actually is. There is no catch, there is no surprise - this is it. I'm not going to tell you that you also need to be consuming 4 cups per day of some random superfood, there is no juicing or cleansing or fasting involved - it really can be this simple.
Over the next month I want to clarify for you what foods fall into each of these 4 categories so that you will be empowered to make the right decisions whether you are at home cooking for yourself, getting take out for lunch, or going out for dinner with friends - with these guidelines in mind I'm confident you can always make an informed choice about what to eat that is going to help you feel GOOD and stay aligned with your goals.
I'll be back next week for our 1st lesson on vegetables!
Happy Nutrition Month!
Spring has (finally!) sprung! Naturally, many people associate spring with new beginnings, cleaning, and detoxing. Why detoxing? It may be because in Traditional Chinese Medicine, springtime is associated with the Liver, which is our main organ of detoxification. I personally like to think of this time less about literally removing toxins from our body, and more about giving our body a bit of a reset for spring! Think of it like “spring-cleaning” for your body and mind!
So before you click away from this page thinking that you don’t want to hear about yet another detox plan, hear me out! I do not recommend week long juice cleanses or fasting. A detox or “reset” does not mean starving yourself, nor does it mean you must be drinking concoctions made of weird ingredients that taste terrible.
What do you mean then by reset?
Yes, let’s be crystal clear about what I’m talking about! We have all been guilty of it at sometime or another – falling into a trap of bad habits that don’t serve our body or mind well. For some people these are dietary – eating too much sugar or junk, drinking too much alcohol, or eating too little of the good stuff! For others it’s a lack of sufficient movement throughout the day due to our desk job or commute to and from work. For others, it’s mental or emotional stress, from work or school, being in relationships that don’t bring us happiness, or not living an authentic life.
How do you know you need to reset?
So what does this involve?
This reset plan is going to emphasize putting into place health-promoting habits, and minimizing or avoiding those things that don’t encourage our health or happiness. We’re all human, and we’re all different. For some people, an all-or-nothing approach works best. For others, a bit of freedom or flexibility with the reset would make it easier to stick to the plan. Either way – the point is to stick with the healthy habits to the best of YOUR ability. Be kind to yourself, if you make a mistake or slip up, don’t worry! Just get back on track. If the reset is stressing you out, then we need to adjust.
Our body eliminates wastes through a number of pathways in the body, and it’s important to ensure that each of these is functioning at it’s best for this reset plan to work well. We want to promote healthy elimination while we add in our healthy habits. We will keep these in mind through the reset plan. We eliminate through:
The Reset Plan
Follow these 6 steps for 2 weeks, and I am confident you will have more energy, and feel as though you are back on track to living a healthy and happy lifestyle.
I suggest that you actively commit to the reset plan for at least 2 weeks. You may not notice much of a change during week 1, but I am confident that by week 2 you will have more energy and really start to feel well! One last bit of advice – it is key to plan in advance! Go grocery shopping to stock up on healthy foods so that you always have something reset-friendly on hand. Plan your week out and set aside time for movement and breathing. Bring a water bottle with you everywhere you go. And remember, be kind to yourself! This commitment that you are making to your health is something to be proud of!
The Period. It comes and goes each month, sometimes without much fuss, and other times it really makes it’s presence known. From it’s onset at puberty until the time one is trying to get pregnant, it can seem like a bit of a nuisance – but sometimes understanding something fully allows us to appreciate it a bit more. Sex education in elementary and high school gave us some of the basics, but perhaps not enough as it’s fairly common that women don’t fully understand their menstrual cycle. So, let’s change that!
There are different parts of the menstrual cycle, which are generally characterized by changing levels of hormones. Hormones act like messengers. When they arrive at their destination, they give information or instructions for another event to occur. The main goal of your menstrual cycle is to produce an egg that has the potential to be fertilized and grow within the uterus. Of course, the vast majority of the time fertilization does not occur, and therefore the cycle starts over again from the beginning. For the purposes of this blog, I’m going to use the “average” menstrual cycle, which is 28 days in duration, but this can vary from woman to woman. Let’s start at the beginning – what we call Day 1 – or the first day of your period/menstruation.
Day 1 – Menstruation Starts
Menstruation is the shedding of the lining of the uterus, and can last anywhere from 3-7 days. It is caused by a decrease in the amount of the sex hormones estrogen and progesterone that are being produced in the ovaries. Some women experience menstrual cramps, for which there are a few different contributing factors. I’ve written about these previously here.
Day 4-7 – Start of Follicular Phase
After menstruation is completed, our system starts to get ready to try again to produce an egg, and create an environment in which the egg can grow. The follicular phase is defined by a fairly steady increase in Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH) which signals to the ovaries to produce estrogen.
Day 7-14 – Follicular Phase
The increases estrogen levels in the ovary cause 10-20 follicles (groups of cells that contain an immature egg) to start to grow and mature. Ultimately only one makes it to the final maturation phase.
Day 14 – Ovulation
The rising levels of estrogen trigger another hormone called Leutinizing Hormone (LH) to rise. It is the sudden rise of LH that causes ovulation, or the release of the egg from the ovary, to occur.
Day 15-28 – Luteal Phase
The rest of the follicle from which the egg was released is now referred to as the corpus luteum, and these cells release some more estrogen, but mainly produce progesterone. These hormones combined stimulate the lining of the uterus to thicken in case fertilization were to occur. This would be the place where the embryo would nestle into and call home for the next 9 months! If fertilization does not occur, the corpus luteum will break down, and progesterone levels start to fall. The declining progesterone levels are the signal for menstruation to occur, which takes us back to Day 1.
Do you track your menstrual cycle?
This is one of the easiest ways to start to get a better idea of what is going on with your cycle. This is especially important if you are trying to conceive! It also gives us useful information if you suffer from PMS, menstrual cramps, PCOS, or irregular periods. Some of the solutions lie in correcting imbalances in hormones at different points in your cycle. It can be as easy as keeping track on paper, or using an app on your phone!
Photo Credit: TipsTimesAdmin from Flickr
Menstruation is a normal physiological process that women experience cyclically (approximately every 28 days, but this varies from woman to woman). It is governed by a series of hormonal signals and inflammatory chemicals that predictably rise and fall throughout the cycle. The whole process is set up so that the uterus is prepared to be the perfect environment for a fertilized egg to develop and grow. However, if fertilization doesn’t occur, the result is menstruation. For some women this occurs with minimal and manageable discomfort, or no pain at all (awesome!) For others, the pain is so intense that pain medications, or even staying home from school or work are required. Month after month, this can become exhausting and stressful. Traditional medical interventions like prescription pain medication and the birth control pill aim to treat the symptoms. However, to nip the pain in the bud once and for all it is important to address the underlying cause. Here are 5 possible causes of dysmenorrhea.
1. Endometriosis or Fibroids
Endometriosis is a condition where the endometrial tissue that normally grows inside of the uterus is found outside of the uterus (in the pelvic or abdominal cavity, attached to your ovaries, etc.). Fibroids are benign growths within or on the uterus. Both can cause severe menstrual pain.
2. Hormonal Imbalance
Remember I said that the menstrual cycle is governed by hormones? If these hormones are out of balance, or rise and fall at the wrong time during the cycle, they can contribute to pain. Furthermore, if the hormonal detoxification pathways are compromised in anyway, an excess of hormones like estrogen may develop which can also lead to dysmenorrhea.
3. Nutrient Deficiencies
Our uterus is a muscle, and like all muscles it can contract and relax. This is necessary for the endometrial tissue to get out of the uterus if it is no longer needed. Muscles need particular nutrients like calcium and magnesium to allow full relaxation after contraction. We also need certain vitamins and minerals for our detoxification pathways to work properly to prevent that build up of hormones in our body.
4. Excessive Inflammation
Those contractions I was talking about – they are due to inflammatory chemicals our body releases called prostaglandins and leukotrienes. When these chemicals are present in large quantities, they are going to cause more intense contractions that can starve the uterine muscle itself of oxygen, and therefore cause more pain.
I often look to Traditional Chinese Medicine to give me clues as to the underlying cause of different symptoms. In TCM, menstrual cramps may be due to something called Qi Stagnation. Qi (“chee”), akin to energy, is supposed to flow freely through the body. When the flow isn’t smooth as it related to the menstrual cycle and the movement of endometrial tissue out of the uterus, it can lead to cramping and pain. Why does Qi stagnate? From anger, worry and stress, inactivity, poor diet, and poor sleep, among other things.
Want to learn more? Join me this Thursday, February 12th at 6:30pm for my Menstrual Cramps 101 Seminar. Sign up HERE or by contacting the reception team at the Integrative Health Institute.
Photo Credit: Vanessa Bazzano via Flickr CC