A few of my Favourite Things

Last year around this time I picked up a book called the Tribe of Mentors by Timothy Ferris. The book is phenomenal, sharing a series of 100 interviews with high achievers (some known to me, some not). Each interviewee was asked the same questions, and a selection of answers from each person were published. One of the questions asked was “what purchase of $100 or less has most positively impacted your life in the last six months (or in recent memory)?” This question prompted me to think about my own answer to this question. Below I share some purchases that brought the most ease to my life and has had the biggest impact.

 
  • I mention this to many people, particularly as the days get shorter and darker. The Philips Sun Alarm Clock not only wakes you with a gentle increase of “daylight”, but the audio alarm also increases slowly as to not wake you with a startle. I found when using this for a period of time, my internal wake cycle adjusted and I found it easier to get out of bed even on those cold, dark mornings where it is much easier to stay cozy in bed.

 
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  • Rumina Natural’s Totally Tallow. I am lucky enough to work with one of the brains behind the amazing Rumina line. One particular product produced is “Totally Tallow”, a clean multi-purpose moisturizer. I had heard great things about this product for months and it was only this past month I decided to give it a try and I quickly fell in love. The Fall and Winter months here in Calgary are very dry and I have struggled to find a product over the years that offers moisture without being waxy, greasy or too heavy. Warming the product in your hands allows it to apply smoothly and leaves skin feeling soft. It smells great too! *Apply discount code drkaren10 to receive 10% off your order!

 
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  • Podcasts! I was trying to pick just one to put here but I couldn’t choose, so below I list my favourites at the moment. I started listening to podcasts 5 years ago when I had a long commute to work. I was tired of listening to the radio, and was lucky enough to come across “The School of Greatness”. From there I’ve listened to a variety of other uplifting podcasts offering perspective on everything from business, life, goals, relationships, health to finances. The best part? Its free. You can download them to your phone when in wifi so you can listen on-the-road and save on data. The information we feed ourselves is just as (if not more) important than the food we eat. Choose wisely, and expand what you know. Seeing the world through another point of view can be eye-opening and may just offer a simple solution to a problem you’ve been facing. Of course, sometimes I just crave entertainment and something less introspective and there are podcasts for that too! In addition to Lewis Howes’ podcast above, Some of my regularly played podcasts include: The Ed Mylett Show (growth, business, mindset), Oprah’s Masterclass (life, overcoming failure, growth), Heavyweight (life, regret, righting wrongs, undone and unsaid, revisiting the past, entertaining), Without Fail (life, reality, failure and success, entertaining).

 
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  • I used to run as an outlet. It was my activity of choice and it had few barriers to get out the door. All I needed was a pair of shoes. Over the years, my pull to run has been replaced with a desire to swim. Sometimes my motivation to get to the pool is the hot tub soak afterward, sometimes its the meditation that comes with the swim itself. other times though (and here comes an item that was worth every penny), it is a new playlist on my underwater mp3 player. There are far more sleek versions that I see out now, but I actually purchased this a few years ago and it has been great. It holds my ipod nano and slides onto my goggles strap without being overly bulky. Music has always been a staple in my life, and has the power to change your state in tremendous ways. If you swim and struggle to stay motivated or get bored with lanes, I encourage you to order some underwater tunes.

 
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  • Through the years I have gone back and forth between digital and good old fashioned paper planning. I think I have found my happy medium, with keeping all things needing a reminder, or simple daily tasks I need to get done and can’t forget in my phone (i.e. bills, appointments, etc) and the big goals, and long-term to-do’s in a paper daytimer (i.e. work tasks, long term plans, etc). Last year I found the daytimer to rule all daytimers (for me anyway) and even better, it was made by a local Calgary company. I’m talking about Wrinkle and Crease and their yearly planner. With ample space for weekly planning, monthly snapshots and lots of space in the back for collecting ideas and jotting down info you want to keep nearby. I have yet to pick up my planner for 2019 yet, but I will be ASAP because I love love love this one!

 
  • Last and certainly not least, another Calgary-based company The Gut Lab and their superfood shakers! I have only tried a couple and am so pumped to try more of their product, but I was blown away by the flavour of the Super Q shaker. Plus I loved the name…super…Q? You know, because my last name starts with Q? Anyway, this one had an amazing BBQ flavour and paired perfectly over popcorn. Anyone who knows me knows I’m a popcorn nut, and after trying this product, this will be a new staple for me. Most importantly, their products contain “sustainably sourced natural ingredients, no sweeteners, preservatives, fillers or artificial flavours”. Cheers to that!

 

There you have it! A snapshot to some of my favourite things that keep me moving, motivated and organized. Here’s to a strong end to 2018 and a fresh start to continue the momentum!

Staying Active in Colder Snowier Months

If you are reading this in my hometown of Calgary right now, you are aware that we have received a way-too-early dose of winter. As the days get shorter, commutes get longer and temperature chills it can sometimes be hard to stick with any healthy routine. We begin craving heavier comfort foods and its easier to hit snooze and stay tucked into your warm bed then jump up to get out the door for a morning workout. It is during these hard, “I will tomorrow” days that we MUST push through and do it anyway. But how? It depends on your barrier.

“I’m just not motivated”

  • Find a list of indoor activities you LOVE to do. It may still be hard to get there but you know once you are there you won’t regret it. If not for the activity, for the community of people you will get to share an hour with. If you do well with intensity early in the morning, an indoor spin class can be great, or an indoor circuit such as “orange theory”.

  • Agree to meet a colleague or friend. Sadly we can easily let ourselves down but its much harder to justify if someone else is counting on you to show up.

  • Switch-it-up! If you are usually a high intensity person with your activities, maybe try a yoga class or go for a swim instead. Changing the pace may be what you need.

  • Download a playlist you only listen to at the gym. I do this through spotify and have a variety of playlists from acoustic chill, jazz, to more upbeat hip hop or dance. Hearing that favourite tune from 1994 can sometimes give a much needed boost

  • Listen to a podcast. This is also great for the commute TO the gym. Feeding your mindset with something constructive and positive can change your physiology before you even break a sweat.

“I can’t afford a membership to those fancy studios”

  • Make a home plan! Central Athlete is a great resource for a variety of exercises if you are strength training, but there are a variety of yoga classes on youtube, or membership sites that offer free or discounted intros you can try.

  • Many studios offer intro offers. Try a few and see what community and type of class pulls you the most!

  • Often studios will also have options to volunteer in exchange for a pass. Spare 3 hours a week for unlimited access. Sweet deal.

“I don’t have time”

  • We make time for what is important to us. Perhaps that Zumba class isn’t important to you, but the self worth you build by keeping agreements with yourself could be, or the tone and energy you gain along the way. Find the goal or intention that anchors you most and review as often as needed.

  • Set yourself up for success by preparing lunches, wardrobes and your gym stuff the night before, so getting out the door has fewer hurdles.

  • It does not have to be “all or nothing”. Sometimes the commute takes longer than expected and you’re cutting it close to get to a meeting on time. If you are unable to complete that workout as planned due to time, you have two options. Either condense it and put in 15-20 min of intervals or plan an extra workout that week so if one is missed or dropped you have your core plan still in place.

What will have greater affect on you? Action or non-action? Know what barriers tend to arise that keep you from moving (or following through with any of your healthy habits) and find options to overcome. The one work-out or one plate of vegetables isn’t what builds health just as the one missed workout or one fast food meal isn’t going to create disease. It is what we do consistently that matters most.

Protecting your Back when Shoveling

 

Calgary received a (mostly unwelcome) blast of winter on October 2nd this year. It is said it was the most snow in 60+ years. As Calgary has before, we rallied and as I look out my window right now, main roads are mostly dry, the bright sun has melted a ton of it already and it actually is quite pretty.

If you are one of the unlucky one’s needing to shovel through the piles of snow, you already know how much work it can be. I’ve written other blogs on shoveling safety in the past so for this quick note, I wanted to make a few key highlights as a reminder to keep your back safe throughout this upcoming season.

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  • Treat shoveling like a sport. Ok you may need to use your imagination for this if you’re trying to find the “fun” in this…and by no means am I implying it should be a race. What I mean is to ensure you are warmed up. Gentle twists side to side, lunges, side bends, should all feel ok and will help to warm-up your tissues that you are going to call upon to help you.

  • Wear adequate footwear. If your shoes do not have much grip, a lot of your muscle use and energy will be directed to keep you upright. You will be more tense and more prone for injury when you add shoveling to the mix. You want to be warm and relaxed to set you up for success.

  • I know its cold out and often a job you want to get over-with, but shoveling smaller amounts at a time (both in terms of area and how much snow is on your shovel) will reduce the load over time.

  • Often we will lunge with our dominant leg which means we are twisting to the same side with every shovel. Try to be mindful of switching what leg is stepping forward so you get twists to both sides

  • If you have back pain or prone to back issues, ask for help. If your neighbour is elderly or injured, offer to help. Sometimes the damage that we incur isn’t from the one event/ snow fall but the cumulative micro traumas effect over the course of the season. If you have the means, paying a company or neighbour to maintain your sidewalks may be worth it!

The healthier your spine and body is now, will have a huge effect on how resilient you are to all the unexpected events that can come with winter sports, shoveling, slips or falls. Of course if the unfortunate does happen, get checked by your Chiropractor!

5 Thoughts on burnout & how not to

I’m currently finishing up preparations for a presentation this week to a local company about preventing burnout. I’ve done many presentations...stress reduction, eating well, lifestyle...and although the content I’m putting together overlaps a lot of that, somehow this topic resonates with me the most. Perhaps because I’ve been there. I know this stuff because I’ve lived it...and still do from time to time. But as any lesson in life, I don’t know that the point is never to fall again, but to gather tools along the way so we fall less often, fall less hard and get up quicker.

One of the daily rituals I enjoy (and yet still inconsistent with), is reading something uplifting as I drink my morning tea, as the start of my day. My favourite right now is to read one or two short essays from Timothy Ferriss’ Tribe of Mentors. The questions asked of 100 experts in their field are clever and applicable to anyone wanting to uplevel. I have come to believe over the years that there are no coincidences (thank-you Deepak Chopra), and those “that’s so crazy” moments of serendipity are in fact reinforcing that you are on the right path. So today, before I revisit my presentation, I grabbed Tim’s book and opened up to the next story. The bold quote at the top of the page reads “Burnout is not the price you have to pay for success” from none other than Arianna Huffington. I won’t rewrite the contents here because I truly believe this is a book that anyone would find valuable, but there were some key thoughts she shared about life and burnout in particular that I felt to be worth sharing here...and you can bet will be included in this week’s presentation also. Keep in mind I’m paraphrasing here, but this is how her words fell into my ears...

1. Express gratitude. Remember those who supported you when they had nothing to gain. She STILL sends a Christmas card to the banker who gave her a loan years ago when she (seemed to be) out of options. 

2. Put on your own oxygen mask first. This analogy is used a ton with coaching people to put self care as a priority. Arianna (may I use her first name?) describes her oxygen mask to be sleeping, meditating, walking, working out, etc. It took her collapsing in 2007 from exhaustion for her to see how important her wellbeing was to her productivity. She views taking care of herself as an investment (as we all should) that has pay-offs for years to come.

3. Reframe perception of time. This one is huge for me. I honestly always have felt this panic around “running out of time”. Even when I graduated at 25 from Chiropractic College, I felt I was late to the game (of work) and still feel that way at times. I think a lot of this is culturally constructed. In this context, she was discussing the parameters she had placed around work vs non-work time. She began to reframe what “work” time meant, and started to include walks and meditating and unplugging as part of her “work” because those habits were what enabled her to be productive, creative, effective and...happier. And isn’t that the grand poobah goal for all of us?

4. Changing your mind about something is one thing, but sometimes it is easier to start with a small action step to move us in the right direction. She gave two tech tips I love...one won’t be brand new but when I’ve done this, I had the best sleep of my life and got out of bed with ease. It’s as simple as plugging in your technology OUTSIDE your bedroom at night. NO scrolling through social media, or last minute emails. If you must remember midnight ideas, then leave a journal and pen beside your bed. But disconnect. The second, which was a new idea for me, is to periodically scramble the apps on your phone. She describes the benefit of giving you an extra amount of time to decide if you do indeed need to use their phone or if its more a boredom or habit. I’ve also gone so far as leaving my phone in my car if I’m waiting for an appointment. I’ve noticed things around me when my eyes aren’t glued to the screen and the biggest thing is that in a room full of people, no one is even aware of the person next to them. If I want to improve my connections in this world it wont happen by looking at my screen. From a neurology standpoint though, scrambling the apps on your phone or tablet is similar to taking a different route home. It causes the brain to pay attention and gets you out of the hardwired path you take each day. Any action that has novelty is brain food.

5. OK so, sometimes we can’t always be ahead of the game and lets face it. We all hit a wall from time to time. So what then? Typically that’s when we feel we have the least amount of time and often by then are in a headspace where solutions elude us and the downward spiral continues. SO what then? Arianna mirrors my thoughts on taking five minutes to breathe. If taking five minutes away from the task will make the next twenty more productive, you must pause and centre yourself.

There is so much more I could write on this, and I likely will, but these gems stood out. Start where you are, look to where you want to go and ask yourself if your current lifestyle and habits will get you there. If so, breathe and enjoy. If not, its in your hands to take one step (or one thought) in the right direction.

 

Healthy Bones

Did you know our bones are constantly remodeling and rebuilding? That's right. With various factors including nutrition and hormones, one of the most influential to bone health is stress. bone remodels in response to the forces which act upon it (Wolfs Law).

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Often stress is seen as a bad thing but this is an example where stress is "food". Gravity alone creates a level of force on the body that helps with bone health. This is observed more clearly in astronauts who, without the impact of gravitational force, have exhibited 1-2% bone loss per MONTH compared to 1-1.5% bone loss in elderly or 2-3% in post menopausal women per YEAR. 

This is also why weight bearing, resistant exercises are so important for bone health as the balance of tensive and compression forces help maintain and promote bone health. 

What happens when this is out of balance though? Obviously if the bone "breakdown" occurs faster than the one "buildup" we will see a decrease in density. The opposite can occur also thought. If the stresses are abnormally distributed or if there is repetitive stress on a particular joint, the body senses this and starts depositing more bone to add stability to the area. This can eventually lead to bone spurs (as seen in the heel particularly with chronic plantar fasciitis) or joint degeneration in the spine or other jouints. 

Maintaining and optimizing body balance through alignment, posture and appropriate movement can be important considerations to promote bone health and to prevent or minimize pain and immobility that can accompany degenerative change.