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!

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.

 

Safe Shoveling: Preventing Injury

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As I write this I am looking out my office window and it appears to be more spring-like outside than late November. Alas, the snow has made an appearance and will again so it is important to protect our spines when taking on this sometimes arduous chore of shoveling.

The Canadian Chiropractic Association has 5 tips on shoveling safely this winter season. The Alberta Chiropractic Association and College also offers some highlights on shoveling techniques and even the type of shovel that can be more spine-safe.  In addition to these tips, I tell my practice members to treat shoveling like a workout (because it definitely can be as strenuous as one).

1. Warm up with movement (not static stretches) that mimic the motions needed for shoveling. Some air squats, hip circles and twists can be a gentle way to warm up the back and hips.

2. Breathe. Holding our breath upon inhale or exhale can offer some helpful bracing for the spine, however we want to be sure we are breathing as steady as possible. Often when people get lightheaded it is due to lack of oxygen to the brain so we want to ensure we have a steady flow of oxygen.

3. Hydrate. On a hot summer day it can be more intuitive to have some clean water on hand to rehydrate but when we are cold and bundled up we can forget this important step. The heavier we breathe, the more we sweat, the more water we lose. Maintaining adequate hydration will help keep our tissues healthy and resilient, and will help us recover faster from the exertion.

4. Move mindfully and stretch when complete (here is where static stretches should be used). Although it is tempting to just get all the shoveling over-with, be ok with taking breaks. We often injure ourselves when we are tired, so be mindful of using your legs when lifting, and moving mindfully instead of moving with momentum. The smallest of things can be what prevents injury this winter and allows you to keep moving. Static stretches are those we hold in one place for 30 or so seconds. Again, moving through spinal rotation, hips, neck and shoulders can help to reduce accumulated tension in the body and slow the heart rate down.

Look at shoveling as another opportunity to add movement to your day! Keep active this winter and stay safe. For further information on how to optimize your spinal health or in the event you are faced with an injury, contact me to schedule a consultation. 

 

Guest Blog: Making a Sustainable Nutrition Plan w/ Max Caron

As a former athlete and strength and conditioning coach, I understand that many of us have a Love/Hate relationship with food. When most people think about their diet in relation to their training, the mind goes to 1 of 2 places; what we feel we have to eat to stay healthy and in shape…. and the delicious assortment of goodies that we will eat when we get there!

The reality is that having a plan in place for our diet is just as important as having a plan in place for what we do in the gym. Rather than close our eyes, crossing our fingers and hoping for the best, our time and effort is best served when we put a system in place that supports our lifestyle and fitness goals.

My #1 focus when building a nutritional plan to support my training goals is to make sure the plan is sustainable. When I have a training AND nutrition plan that support each other and function harmoniously with my life, then I can maintain the progress I make when life gets hectic. When I think of sustainable meal choices, I think of 4 elements; delicious, homemade, healthy and simple.

While making a nutritional plan healthy is self-explanatory, an emphasis on taste and flavour is sometimes neglected. When we enjoy what we eat, our motivation and commitment to the plan will stay high. Simply put, it is always harder to stay on the plan when our taste buds aren’t stimulated. 

Homemade choices are another important element because finding healthy choices outside of your own home is hard and often times the choices aren’t as healthy as they seem. It is very tough to get consistent results when we don’t know exactly what is going into our bodies. Furthermore, the healthy choices offered often come at a steep price, which gives us even more reason to save some money and learn to make home cooked meals.

So we need a home cooked meal that is healthy and delicious; the final piece to this is our meals must be simple to be sustainable. For many, the demands from work and our personal lives leaves little time to prepare meals. The best choices are meals that we can prepare in 30-45 mins max. We must anticipate that we won’t always have time to throw together the perfect meal. Meal prep strategies such as making extras, pre-cutting vegetables or making and bottling homemade dressings and marinades are great ways to help shave off some cook time.

I also recommend “mastering” the prep time for 1-3 meals that you love to eat; so when your crunched for time you will know exactly how long it takes to churn out your favourite choice. This can be tough if we try and learn 7 recipes all at once, so stick to just a few favourites. Remember, the whole strategy is to eat homemade, healthy, delicious and simple meals on a consistent basis. This is the key to a sustainable meal plan which will help deliver sustainable results. Happy Cooking!

 

 Max Caron is a strength and conditioning coach at OPEX Calgary Central.

As a previous CFL player for the Calgary Stampeders, Max was a 16th overall draft pick in the 2014 CFL Draft as well as a 1st Team All-Canadian and CIS Football Major Award Winner.

His playing career was cut short due to injury, but his proudest moment was returning to play after suffering 2 ruptured achilles tendons in back-to-back seasons.

With his professional athletic career behind him, he now gets to help others be their best selves and reach their health and fitness goals.

When not coaching, Max enjoys playing sports, training, cooking and spending time with his wife and their two kitties. 

IG:            @max.caron43
Twitter:    @MaxCaron43