Your gut is the centre of your universe. Dr. Laura Imola shares how the digestive tract, a is a major source for our health and well being.Read More
“Why am I so Tired?!” is a question that so many people struggle with. Dr. Laura has helped many people find that answer. Read on to see her run down of the biggest energy drainers that may be sucking the life out of your battery pack.Read More
Massage therapy offers an extensive amount of benefits for women who are breast cancer survivors and for women who are undergoing treatment for breast cancer. Our Registered Massage Therapist, Coleen Martuccio, writes about this in her latest article. She reviews all the benefits and contraindications when it comes to massage therapy for patients with breast cancer in their health history or current health picture.Read More
If you’re interested in training for optimal health, or if you’re an athlete striving for your best performance, check out Dr. Matthew Bird’s article on Relative Energy Deficits (RED-S). Being aware of RED-S helps ensure some very fundamental elements of your health health is in check to support your level of activity.Read More
We’re all back to the swing of things this month with work, school, sports, events, you name it! Dr. Laura offers her top stress management lifestyle strategies to help you navigate life with a level head.Read More
Coleen Martuccio, our WIN Registered Massage Therapist, has a passion for gardening and loves planting her own garden every year. She combines her long time gardening history with her experience as a Massage Therapist, to share the benefits of gardening, and her top tips to feel great while taking on any gardening project.Read More
If you feel like it's time to get your weight on track, or lose a few pounds or inches, it's important to eat smarter and exercise often. A very common theme in today’s sedentary society is that many people sit at desks all day, only to then go home, and sit on the couch to watch TV and unwind.
Eating smarter and exercising often... The two go hand in hand!
First I'll briefly review nutrition. I’m just going to talk about nutrition when it comes to weight loss. I’m not going to get into macros, micros, essential and non-essential. I’m going to talk calories. For some people to lose weight, calories in need to be less than calories out. In special situations this strategy may need to be individualized for a person, but for many people it's really that simple. If everyday you burned 2000 calories (from your resting metabolism, non-exercise activity thermogenesis, daily exercise and more), but you took in 3000 calories through your food choices, I would say it’s near impossible to lose any weight.
Next is exercise. We all need to exercise. Gone are the days of walking a few kilometres to and from school, loading a few hundred bails of hay or chopping wood so you can have a fire to cook dinner. We need to maximize the time spent in a gym or working out at home. Use as many muscles as possible. And use the big muscles. You will burn a lot more calories doing a Turkish Get-Up or a burpee than you would doing a seated bicep curl. And if you don’t know what a Turkish Get-Up or a burpee are, come train with me and I’ll be happy to show you!!
To recap, in order to lose some weight, be physically active and eat right. Use big muscles and many muscles when working out. Limit calorie dense foods. Eat more vegetables. And try to get an idea of how many calories you’re taking in so you can have a good understanding of portion control. By putting the time and effort in, and these pieces together, you’ll be set!
By WIN Contributor; Dr. Laura Imola, Naturopathic Doctor
I was recently asked* by "Rewire Me" to write an article for their readers that focused on personal transformation which drew from my years of work and life experience. I wrote on a topic that was near and dear to me: how the path toward optimal health, including my own, is not linear.
What does this all mean...not linear? It's really quite simple... think of a zig zag... think... two steps forward, one step back... think the winding path to the top of a mountain.
My hope in sharing my story is that more people are inspired to keep working on getting to their truest and best expression of health. When the going gets tough, to remember to not give up.
If you want to hear my own zig zaggy, back and forth, fall down nine times stand up ten, story about the journey of health... keep reading...
The Winding Path for the Naturopath
For those who know me, many would find it hard to believe that at one time in my life I hated vegetables. It would be especially surprising to know that I had an equally strong aversion to exercise of any kind. It is true that into my early adulthood, I seldom ate my greens, I cursed the thought of physical activity and my passion was sugar. This would be hard to imagine now, since my passion in life is to not only educate others about how to be proactively healthy and prevent illness, but to also live this way.
It wasn’t always like this, and I had a moment in my early adulthood when I realized that my self care had to change. Back then, I felt like an old lady trapped in a young person’s body.
Though I struggled with constant fatigue, I couldn’t fall asleep at night. I was plagued with frequent infections, regular headaches, felt rusty in the mornings and my hair was falling out. I felt unwell, but I just accepted this was normal for me. Deep down inside, I knew my body was breaking down, and I needed to make a change.
There is a tremendous amount of health research linking poor nutrition and lifestyle habits to the rampant chronic illness rates in North America. In addition, over recent years we are seeing more studies, such as the one published in the journal Circulation in 2013, that links sedentary lifestyles and poor nutrition in teens to an increased risk of developing heart disease in their forties.
Some people may think I just jumped right into a healthy lifestyle and kept on going. I wish that was the way it happened but for me, like most people, I found that the journey of health was not linear. I see many people stuck in a state of mediocre health who start out with great energy to revolutionize their lives. But as they face challenges or are put outside their comfort zone, their enthusiasm can fizzle out.
"When we are not aware of the fact that the gift of health is earned over time, it is easy to become discouraged and discontinue our efforts."
The path towards our best expression of health is a zig-zaggy, up and down, steps forward and steps back kind of path. When we are not aware of the fact that the gift of health is earned over time, it is easy to become discouraged and discontinue our efforts. It is important to remember that there is substantial growth, self-awareness, realizations and time required to transform our health.
"Starting out by making small changes counts just as much as the big jumps into a health kick."
Wading through the healthy options, trying them on, failing sometimes, making mistakes and experiencing the big wins are all rolled into this journey. Some things we may enjoy, and other things we may not.
This is completely normal.
It’s part of the process.
In today’s age of perfectionism and instant gratification, this can be incredibly challenging to accept at times. Sadly, these two factors often hold people back from making progress and reaching their goals. However, letting go of expectations while walking this uneven road frees the way to higher ground.
Starting out by making small changes counts just as much as the big jumps into a health kick. When we take these steps to do good things for our mind, body and soul, the net result is always positive. It may at times be a climb but the view from the top is worth it.
*Acknowledgment: Many thanks to Kaitlin Vogel and the team at Rewire Me for the opportunity to contribute to their great site! You can see the published article for Rewire Me here.
By WIN Contributor: Dr. Laura Imola, Naturopathic Doctor
Stress can be a major influence on chronic illness, especially heart disease. A great way to neutralize stress is to find ways to increase our feeling of wellbeing and happiness day to day.
The little things we can do each day may seem like David going up against Goliath... but we know how that story ends. It's true that the small things do count. Stress can be cumulative through the day or week. Taking stress out at the knees with small karate chops can have a tremendous effect on how you feel in addition to protecting and preserving your heart health.
1) Drink Water
Staying properly hydrated is health promoting, but it can also make a difference in our disposition. There have been studies that link bad moods and dehydration.
2) Yes! Do That Thing You Want To Do!
Is it a cooking class? A yoga class package? A camping trip? Skiing? A trip to the beach?
Pick something you want to splurge on that is an experience that you would love. Make plans and provisions to see it through. The anticipation of attending that musical you've always wanted to see, that super fun excursion, that ballroom dancing class, is enough to dramatically lift your mood.
3) Smile In Your Mind, Smile In your Heart, Even Smile In Your Liver
Ok... I got that Liver part from Ketut in Elizabeth Gilbert's "Eat Pray Love"... but this is a very authentic statement. When we smile like we mean it, and this might involve putting that smile not only on our face but also where it resonates most with us (e.g. our heart, our mind and yes, some of us could do with some smiling in our Liver, which in Traditional Chinese Medicine is the organ that is said to store Anger).
This helps our own feeling of wellbeing and it can also completely change another persons's day, even a stranger's, for the better.
4) Hit The Gym
Countless studies have found that regular exercise helps release endorphins, our happy hormones, from the brain.
5) Stop Networking
In the age of social media, email and instant messaging, it is easy to get caught up in constant virtual communication. This is not humanistic. Humans thrive on actual relationships and conversation. Filling up our sense of wellbeing through time spent with friends, talking about life in person, making our kids laugh, even spending time with our pets can help us destress and re-connect.
6) Do Something Selfless
Maybe it's scraping the snow off a co-worker's windshield before you leave for work, volunteering to help the elderly, offering to bring a working mom some food or helping out at the humane society. Giving back in a way that you truly enjoy can help build a strong sense of meaningfulness for you and for others.
7) Do Nothing
In this wild, busy, messy and full modern day life it's hard to disengage from it all. However when we do, and we allow time for calm, we can recharge our batteries. What springs forth from this if we allow ourselves to feel it? A Happy Heart.
By WIN Contributor: Dr. Matthew Bird, Chiropractor
In the spirit of Heart Health month and Valentines Day, here are the top 6 ways I promote a healthy heart in my life and advise to those I inspire everyday in clinic. Cardiovascular disease is still one of the top issues we as North Americans face leading to early death. This type of disease is a lifestyle disease meaning you have many options to help ward of this silent killer.
1) Heart healthy foods - Veggies mmmm so good. A colourful plate will help increase those plant sterols that help prevent plaque build up leading to vascular turbulence and vascular disease.
2) Regular physical activity and walks with my family, yes even in the cold!
- Deep snow walking (ok mostly with my dog) to help improve joint health and muscle activation
- Resistance training (resistance bands or weights)
- A combination of Pilates and Yoga
Couples/families that train together, stay together for positive motivation to push one another to achieve their goals/dreams.
And for those that really know me, you guessed it, I also really enjoy Volleyball and Snowboarding!
Finding those activities that truly inspire you to move and stay active during the winter months makes them much more enjoyable.
3) Rest! Just as important as exertion for the restoration and repair of stressed tissues.
4) WATER! The essence of life. Regular water intake will help hydrate your body and improve cellular communication for cognition and tissue function and repair.
5) For those that enjoy the finer things in life, a nice glass of red wine. A glass is all you need to take in those antioxidants, which help ward of those damaging free radicals.
6) Regular WIN Health chiropractic adjustments. Restoration of spinal mobility improves the neural connection to all internal organs including your heart.
There are many ways and things you can do to help improve your heart health and the WIN Health Solutions team is here for you!
By WIN Contributor: Scott Paul, BSc, MSc (Candidate), Personal Trainer
Well, a new year has come, and along with it came all those resolutions. I am going to focus on a couple of familiar resolutions. The ones such as “this year, I will workout every morning”, or “I’m going to lose this belly and cut out the desserts”. Then, two weeks in, you feel you’d rather sleep in, or a friend comes over for dinner and you feel obligated to have a piece of apple pie.
These types of resolutions aren’t just seen at New Year’s. These health goals are made all year round. Everyone makes those resolutions. However, these types of goals and resolutions are just setting you up for failure. But why? I’ll tell you why. A person who is inactive and sedentary on December 31st is not going to all of the sudden become a new person on January 1st, waking up early to workout. Just as the person who is a little overweight and loves desserts, isn’t going to all of the sudden totally cut out the foods they love.
One of the reasons these resolutions almost always fail is because they are unrealistic. You need to take things one step at a time.
Let’s start with the inactive person. Their resolution should be to become more active...and that’s it!! Try parking a little further away, so you have to walk more. Maybe you can start taking the stairs instead of the elevator. It doesn’t have to be big. These initiatives makes you more active. Then a couple months down the road you can start taking it a little further, like getting a gym membership or seeing a personal trainer at WIN. ;)
And what about that person who loves desserts...or food in general, for that matter. This is the same idea as above. BE REALISTIC. If you’re going to lose a little bit of weight, do it right. Do it in a way that is healthy and in a way that will last a lifetime. You didn’t gain weight by eating desserts; you gained weight by eating too much dessert. This goes along with what I have always said and what many of you hear me say. Calories in need to be less than calories out in order to lose weight. I’m not going to go into it any more than that, because it’s as simple as it sounds. Just be realistic. If you’re use to having three cups of coffee a day with two creams and two sugars, cut it down to one cream and one sugar. If you’re having two helpings at dinner, try for one.
To make a New Year’s resolution last isn’t rocket science. You just have to be realistic. Don’t set yourself up for failure. Set yourself up to SUCCEED!!
By WIN Contributor: Dr. Ernie Bagnulo, Chiropractor
Winter is (finally) coming!!! As is the cold and the snow. It has always seemed perplexing to me that this is time of year we choose to make resolutions for the year.
This is not the most ideal time of year for weather, given the colder temperatures, the rain and the snow as compared to the weather patterns of May to September. This can make starting, or sticking to, fitness goals very difficult.
Patients often ask me what do I do to stay healthy in the new year?
For myself, nutrition is primary. The winter months, grey skies and dreary weather makes easy to seek out comfort food. I work on consistently having breakfast, and packing healthy snacks, especially during the workweek. This supports good nutrition for the majority of the week.
I also try to incorporate activities (I didn’t say exercise), which embrace the winter weather. For instance, getting out to play hockey with friends, taking a walk or run in the snow, shoveling my driveway, skiing, pulling my children on a sled or tobogganing. I try to make the activities fun and involve the people I want to spend time with. When I enjoy what I am doing, I never want to stop and when I am finished, I am planning or looking forward to the time I can enjoy that activity again.
This time of year is definitely the most challenging to remain devoted to our healthy resolutions but it certainly can be made easier if we plan ahead, involve others and make sure we’re having fun with it.
By WIN Contributor: Dr. Laura Imola, Naturopathic Doctor
A new year, a fresh start. So many of us use the new year as motivation to fine tune or evolve the way we take care of ourselves. We resolve to eat better, exercise regularly, get to bed earlier and much more.
I find that the best way make healthy changes that stick is to integrate small things that you can easily do each day. This is how we can make a mountain out of a mole hill, but in a good way. Small changes can create a footing so we can keep climbing towards optimal health.
Here are some of the little things that can help you keep your footing and stick to your health goals.
1) Drink Water - Replace as many beverages that you can with pure water or herbal tea. Adequate hydration with pure fluids (i.e. water) helps with energy, skin integrity, mood, joint health, proper digestion and good metabolic function.
2) Pre-package your food - Consider pre-packaging your smoothie ingredients in zip-lock bags or containers and store 1-2 weeks worth in the freezer. This makes getting a breakfast or snack smoothie quick and easy, and it guarantees you're getting a good dose of plant food that day.
Dr. Laura's Packaged Smoothie: 1 banana, 1 handful of frozen berries, 2 tbsp hemp seeds, 2 tbsp chia seeds, 1 tbsp coconut oil, 1 handful greens/veg (e.g. kale, spinach, swiss chard, collard greens, shredded carrots, etc., or a combination).
Also consider taking an hour on a day off to do a big cookout for the week's lunches. Again, use containers, cook up 2-3 veggies and 2 types of protein sources. Then package these in a container for each day of the week. This ensures you get a healthy lunch and saves time.
3) Create some downtime OR Teach yourself how to have downtime - Whether it's the go-go-go pace of the day or need to be "doing" something, this state of restlessness is causing stress to be an obstacle in reaching health goals.
Productivity is important. However, to be truly productive there must be a balance between "doing" and downtime. Your body will thank you, your memory will be sharper and you will be happier. Carve out some time regularly to practice something that restores, recharges and replenishes. This can be reading a book, being creative (e.g. music, artwork, colouring, dancing), knitting, meditation, prayer, an epsom salt bath, a massage, yoga, time with a pet, time with children, time outdoors, time in nature... the list of possibilities are endless.
These are just a few small things to help you stick to your health goals. Working with people on this journey towards optimal health is my passion. If you would like to take a more proactive health care and utilize preventative medicine, together we can develop a plan that will help you optimize your health and reach your goals.
By WIN Contributor: Nancy H, Reception Team Member
Especially at this time of year, most people tend to get concerned about gaining a few pounds with all the delicious meals and treats. To help encourage and support balanced nutrition we, at WIN Health Solutions, participate in healthy potluck lunches.
This is a great way to share new recipes and some fun camaraderie. Each person brings in a dish (preferably homemade) with healthy ingredients. Now, we do welcome some moderation, even in a healthy potluck. We welcomed some delicious desserts but tried to keep them on the healthier side. It is said that you shouldn't deprive yourself. Our own Niagara Falls Naturopathic doctor, Dr. Laura believes in this philosophy as well.
The recipes have been amazing and contain easily found ingredients. We keep it simple because we know it can be tedious to create a healthy recipe which has something you can’t locate in any store or is too complicated to make! Most are very quick as well to create and can be made ahead of time. Our potlucks have been very successful!! So successful that our chiropractors, Dr. Ernie & Dr. Matt suggested we have them every week! That’s only because they don't have to bring a lunch….haha! We will put together a list of some of these recipes and post them for you on a future blog.
So for your next potluck at work or even dinner at home, why not aim to make it a healthier one. Especially leading into the Christmas feasting period!! What a great way to be able to indulge in those goodies, feeling not so guilty, since you have eaten better previously.
From all of us at WIN Health Solutions, your full service Niagara Falls wellness clinic, we wish you a very happy, healthy holiday season.