Mar 30

Laughter, Stress, and your Brain



By Dr. Marc Bubbs, ND, CSCS

Stress is a the topic of the day on most health blogs, as today’s 24/7 constant connectivity society is seemingly wreaking havoc on our bodies and brains. Most of my clients say they don’t have ‘any extra time’ in the day, they are already over-scheduled, and they don’t get as much sleep as they would like.

Stress isn’t just the inability to cope; it’s also your sympathetic nervous system and the fight or flight mode that keeps you going through busy days, weeks, months, and years! If you burn the candle at both ends, the biochemical wheels in your body must turn quickly to keep up with the high demands of your life.

So, what can you do to offset the stress on your body and improve your productivity at work, in the gym, and at home? Laugh!

Would you believe the latest and greatest research coming out shows that this cheap and cheerful method of de-stressing the body really does have merit. A recent study at Loma Linda University by Dr. Gurinder Bains MD found that people watching a funny video for 30 minutes performed better on memory tests. A keynote symptom of elevated cortisol levels is poor short-term memory, as cortisol damages the hippocampus area of your brain, where you convert short-term to long-term memory. Laughter seems to be a powerful method for reducing cortisol stress hormones.

The benefits of laughing don’t end there. A study of nursing students showed laughing – one hour sessions twice weekly – improved sleep quality, symptoms of anxiety and depression, improved their social function. Pretty impressive findings!

Heart rate variability (HRV) is growing in popularity as a means to measure your total stress load. A novel new study in patients awaiting organ transplant surgeries found that 20-minutes of laughing, ten total sessions over a 4-week period, improved mood and increased HRV. Considering the degree of stress experienced by patients awaiting life-saving surgery, these findings are quite significant and the authors concluded they warrant much further investigation.

Improve your stress levels and brain health by scheduling time for more laughing in your day. Laugh with friends, laugh with colleagues, laugh with family… it’s not only good for your mood, it’s great for your health!


Dr. Marc Bubbs, ND, CSCS,  is a Naturopathic Doctor, Strength Coach, Author, Speaker, and Blogger practicing in Toronto, Canada. He believes that diet, exercise, and lifestyle factors have the most profound impact on your overall health and performance. Marc is the author of The Paleo Project – A 21st Guide to Looking Leaner, Getting Stronger, & Living Longer and currently serves as the Sports Nutrition Lead for Canadian Men’s Olympic Basketball Team.

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Mar 23

Is Gratitude Good for Your Health?


By Dr. Shannon Vander Doelen, ND
In the spirit of our annual #IHIgratitude week, I thought it would be interesting to explore the health benefits of expressing gratitude. I hope you agree with me that being grateful, and communicating your thanks to yourself and to others makes you feel good. Many of my patients and colleagues regularly keep a gratitude journal – some make a point to write each and every day of what they are grateful for. Personally, I keep a note in my phone and jot things down from time to time as they come to me, and I re-read the list when I feel I need a boost. But is this good feeling backed up by research? I took to the scientific literature to find out.


In 2002, the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology published one of the first studies of its kind, which revealed that people who subjectively rate themselves as being grateful (and who are observed by others as having a grateful disposition) have a more positive affect and better well-being. This study was responsible for the creation of a tool that has been used ever since in gratitude research, the Gratitude Questionnaire (GQ-6).


A 2009 Study from the Journal of Adolescence assessed 154 teenagers to see if experiencing and expressing gratitude had any benefits. The researchers found that gratitude was associated with positive affect, life satisfaction, social support, optimism, and less negative physical symptoms. Interestingly, they also found that boys may develop more social benefits from gratitude than girls.


A more recent study from 2014 in the Research on Aging journal found that older adults who are less grateful rate their health less favourably than those who are more grateful.


It’s clear that Gratitude is good for your health! The great news is that you can foster gratitude with simple exercises. Some ideas for you and your family are:

  • Keep a gratitude journal – take note of things you are grateful for either on a daily basis or as you notice them
  • Shift your thoughts – challenge yourself to notice when you have negative thoughts and shift your attitude towards what you could be grateful for in that moment. For example, if the subway is delayed or there is traffic on your way to work, instead of focusing on the negative, try to frame your thoughts as being grateful for public transit or your car that can help you safely get to work.
  • Talk about it over dinner – when you sit down to a family meal, ask everyone at the table to share one thing they are grateful for from their day, no matter how big or small.



Shannon will work with you to help you live your healthiest and happiest life. Since this means something different to everyone, she is excited about exploring your individual needs and working with you to create a treatment plan that is unique and sustainable for you and your busy lifestyle. Shannon is passionate about health and happiness and believes that the two go hand-in-hand.

Clinically, Shannon practices functional medicine. She maintains a general family practice, with a special interest in managing fatigue, stress, anxiety, and depression; digestive health; skin health; irregular or painful menstruation; and endocrine/hormonal disorders.


Mccullough ME, Emmons RA, Tsang JA (2002). The grateful disposition: a conceptual and empirical topography. J Pers Soc Psychol, 82(1):112-27.

Froh JJ, Yurkewicz C, Kashdan TB (2009). Gratitude and subjective well-being in early adolescence: examining gender differences. J Adolesc, 32(3):633-50.

Krause N, Hayward RD (2014). Hostility, religious involvement, gratitude and self-rated health in late life. Res Aging, 36(6):731-52.


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Mar 16

The Magic of Gratitude

IHI Gratitude image

By: Corinne K. Intuitive Reiki + Crystal Healing. Soulful Living Coach.

 More often than not, when we’re feeling stuck, restless or frustrated with something in our lives, we focus on it. We invest energy in complaining about situations, people, places or things that we’re feeling unhappy or unfulfilled about. We can’t stop thinking about whatever’s troubling us, pouring over the details and finding ourselves falling deeper and deeper into the difficulty behind an issue. The problem is that when we do this, we’re directing our energy to the wrong place.

“If you want to find the secrets of the universe, think in terms of energy, frequency and vibration.” ~ Nikola Tesla, Inventor + Engineer

Like attracts like and the more we feel good, the more we feel good. So when we focus on negativity, we’re essentially perpetuating an existing negative situation and asking for more negativity.


Getting into a habit of gratitude is powerful.

When we’re grateful for what we have – even if it isn’t perfect or quite what we want yet – we’re telling the universe that we’re open for more to be grateful for. We send out the vibe that we’re ready to take on more good things that come our way and that we appreciate what has already been sent to us.

Embracing a sense of gratitude is the same as building any other healthy habit. Research shows that if you can stick to something for 21 days, you’re more likely to make that action a habit in your life. So if you want to start feeling better about your relationships, job, yourself – or anything in your life for that matter – it’s important to direct your energy where you want it to flourish and expand.


Gratitude Challenge

For the next 21 days, take a couple of minutes every day to list 3 things you’re grateful for. Set up an appointment in your calendar to go off everyday to prompt you to sit down with a journal and pen. Reflect on the last 24 hours and list 3 things that you’re thankful for. This can be anything from the fact that you caught the train on time, to the perfect lunch you ate, a kind smile from a stranger or the greetings your dog gave you as you walked into the door after work. Even the littlest things can be a source of joy. Once the universe sees that you’re thankful for what you have, it’ll begin to send you more.

Start right now by thinking of someone you love, someone who has made a huge impact in your life and has supported you through tough times. Pick up the phone and call that person. Tell them why you love them and let them know how much they mean to you. Let them know that you’re happy to have them in your life. You’d be surprised what kind of an impact expressing your gratitude can make on someone’s day and yours.

When you’re not journaling over the next 21 days, try to be mindful when your thoughts are going to a negative space. Catch yourself when you’re getting caught up in negativity about anything and pause to remember all the good stuff in your day instead. I’m not saying you have to shove difficulties under the rug and ignore them but remember that we can often make mountains out of molehills and make a small, crappy situation a bigger deal than it needs to be.

Happy gratitude-ing!


Through intuitive Reiki, crystal healing and coaching, Corinne guides her clients to live more authentic lives by encouraging them to identify what they truly need and begin to move away from what no longer serves them. She helps them live a life that feels more free, empowered and inspired.

Check out her website for more information and sign up for her 7-Day Soul Lift and weekly newsletter crafted to help you live a more soulful life.



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Mar 9

The Afternoon Energy Slump

shutterstock_69637735_MediumBy Dr. Shannon Vander Doelen, ND


We’ve all been there. 2pm rolls around and you start to feel yourself dragging mentally and physically. Your eyelids might feel heavy, your vision isn’t clear, even the thought of your next meeting is exhausting. You feel like taking a quick nap at your desk (please, just 10 minutes!) Since this isn’t acceptable in most work places (though debateably it should be), most of us reach for something to give us a boost. The usual suspects? Coffee and carbs. While it’s true that they are going to work in the short term, they perpetuate the problem in the long term. I know that you need your energy to get your work done and perform at your best. My job as a Naturopathic Doctor is to try and figure out the cause of your afternoon fatigue. If we can make positive change to the underlying cause, we can see resolution of the fatigue all together. So let’s explore some common reasons for this slump and what to do about them.


Slump Cause 1 – You’ve been inside, sitting and staring at your computer screen – All. Day. Long.

They say that “sitting is the new smoking” – it’s bad for your health! If your body has been stagnant all day, how can we expect our mind to be any different? Depending on where your desk is in your office, you may not have seen the sunlight since you arrived at work. And that computer screen? It’s contributing to eye strain and muscle tension.


The Fix – Get up and move! I’m not even suggesting a full workout, just try to get up out of your seat at least once per hour. Get a drink or go to the washroom if you don’t have another reason to leave. Instead of emailing a co-worker, get up and go talk to them in person. Suggest a walking meeting with a collegue. Stand when you are talking on the phone. Go outside on your lunch break, even if it’s just for 5 or 10 minutes. When on your comptuer, remember to take breaks and look into the distance every few minutes. All of these little things add up.


Slump Cause 2 – All you’ve had to drink today was your morning coffee, or nothing at all.

You’re dehydrated. Every single cell in your body needs to be properly hydrated to function at it’s best. Even mild dehydration can contribute to fatigue, low mood, and difficulty concentrating. The more exercise you do, the more water you need to replace what you’ve lost via sweat.


The Fix – Drink more water. Try to have a glass before you leave for work (try it first thing in the morning with lemon to give your digestive system a kick start). Keep a glass bottle or pitcher at your desk and try to get through at least 500mL before lunch, and another 500mL after lunch. Another 500mL towards the end of the day will get you to a good average daily water consumption of 1.5-2L. And if you have to go to the washroom more because of this increased intake, that will get you moving too. Two birds…


Slump Cause 3 – You had carbs at breakfast and lunch.

Cereal, muffin, toast, croissant, or bagel for breakfast? Sandwich, pasta, or rice for lunch? Your blood sugar levels might be to blame here for your afternoon slump. Whenever we eat carbohydrates (even the good kind), our body breaks them down into sugar or glucose. This causes our blood sugar levels to spike, and eventually crash a few hours later. The crash is what you’re feeling mid-afternoon.


The Fix – Think about what you are eating for breakfast and lunch (and any snacks in between). Swap out some of the carbs for some vegetables and protein. Vegetables have fibre (amongst other important health benefits) which along with protein help to stabilize your blood sugar levels preventing the spike and crash. If you’re eating well at these two meals and still feeling low, you might want to add in a protein-rich snack mid-morning and mid-afternoon to tie you over between meals.


Slump Cause 4 – You are busy or stressed.

When we think of the circadian rhythm we often think of sleep and the sleep hormone called melatonin. There is another part of our circadian rhythm that is equally as important, and it is related to our stress hormone called cortisol. Cortisol rises and falls rhythmically thoughtout the day, just like melatonin does. It is normal for our cortisol to be higher in the morning (helps us to feel alert and awake) and lower in the evening (which helps us to feel calm and relaxed). However, mental and physical stress from the hustle and bustle of our daily activities can cause this smooth rhythm to be disrupted leading to symptoms such as fatigue, brain fog, difficulty concentrating, irritability, depressed mood, or anxiety.


The Fix - There are lots of ways to help manage stress in our lives such as exercise, meditation, mindfulness, reading, or spending time with family or friends. Whatever you find works best for you is the tool you should use. It is important to carve out time in your day for relaxation. A healthy mindset is key, and sometimes we need help in getting ourselves there. Your Naturopathic Doctor will be able to assess any hormonal imbalances and make recommendations to help your body and mind become more resilient to stress, in addition to helping you develop healthy relaxation and stress management tools.


Still feeling tired? There might be another underlying cause – it’s important to recognize that just because fatigue is common doesn’t mean it’s normal! Your ND can help you understand what is going on and help you on the path towards resolving afternoon fatigue.



IMG_2905_2Shannon will work with you to help you live your healthiest and happiest life. Since this means something different to everyone, she is excited about exploring your individual needs and working with you to create a treatment plan that is unique and sustainable for you and your busy lifestyle. Shannon is passionate about health and happiness and believes that the two go hand-in-hand.

Clinically, Shannon practices functional medicine. She maintains a general family practice, with a special interest in managing fatigue, stress, anxiety, and depression; digestive health; skin health; irregular or painful menstruation; and endocrine/hormonal disorders.

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Mar 5

The Paleo Diet – Just a Fad or The Evolution of Eating

Paleo Project_final-page-0By Dr. Marc Bubbs, ND, CSCS


The Paleo diet seems to be in every magazine, newspaper, and blog article these days claiming that eating like a caveman is the quickest path to weight loss and better health.

Is this just the latest in a long list of nutrition trends that come as quickly as they go, or is there some sound dietary advice in this approach?

The basis of the Paleo diet is to eat more in tune with our genetics and how we’ve evolved – grass-fed and wild meats, roots and tubers, veggies, fruits, nuts & seeds, and limited to no processed sugars and foods to mitigate the epidemic rates of chronic disease, obesity, and poor health.

Sounds like a great idea, but does it actually work?

The latest research has become increasingly clear that, if you have a few pounds to lose or are out of shape, a low-carb Paleo approach is extremely successful at not only supporting weight loss, but improving blood pressure, blood sugars, and cardiovascular risk factors.

Many of the dietary myths that still permeate in doctors’ offices and at water coolers – high cholesterol is bad for you, saturated fats cause heart disease, meat is not a healthy choice – have been flipped upside down by the latest science. The evolutionary, ancestral or Paleo approach to eating has simply come along at just the right time to dovetail on all these amazing findings.

Not sure if the Paleo-approach to eating is for you? Come out for my book launch TOMORROW, March 5th, at the Integrative Health Institute to find out how you can upgrade your diet, hack your health, and reach your health and performance potential!

Register here

Dr. Marc Bubbs, ND is a Naturopathic Doctor, Strength Coach, Author, Speaker, and Blogger practicing in Toronto, Canada. He believes that diet, exercise, and lifestyle factors have the most profound impact on your overall health and performance. Marc is the author of The Paleo Project – A 21st Guide to Looking Leaner, Getting Stronger, & Living Longer and currently serves as the Sports Nutrition Lead for Canadian Men’s Olympic Basketball Team.
Dr. Marc Bubbs ND, CSCS

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Mar 2

Sitting is the New Smoking

By Melanie Gillians, RMT

There is a movement happening, a movement on moving! Recently I have read countless articles, dedicated to the importance of movement for optimal health. As a society, we have become stationary. Our careers and lifestyles in North America have become directed by technology. This keeps us sitting for long periods of time. Getting up and moving is becoming increasingly less required. More notably, the hour workout after work is not enough to counter the effects of being immobile for the majority of our days. Some of the terrifying effects associated with immobility range from aches and pains to an increase risk in cancer and diabetes. The evidence is clear, “sitting is the new smoking”. So how do we counter these negative effects if our lifestyles are becoming less conducive to movement?

As a massage therapist working downtown Toronto I have become very familiar with the aches, pains, and ailments associated with lack of movement. Hectic work hours, exhaustion from working too much, and lack of physical stimulation as a result of the chronic usage of electronic devices, are often the root cause of the problem. I wish that a cure for these aches and pains were as simple as a regular massage. While massage can be very beneficial, the answer to the problem is going to require a deeper understanding of our culture of movement.

So what happens to our body when we are stationary the majority of the day?

First off, the circulation is slowed. The musculoskeletal pump that encourages movement of blood and lymph throughout our body is not being utilized as efficiently as needed. This forces our heart to work harder, making the correlation between immobility and cardiovascular disease apparent. Our musculoskeletal system is built for movement, when we spend our days seated, certain muscles become contracted and short while others become lengthened and weak, creating an imbalance. This imbalance causes an increase in the normal curvature of the thoracic spine and rib cage. This can lead to a common condition I regularly see in practice, shoulder-cross syndrome. Shoulder-cross syndrome is due to one set of muscles shortening due to a contracted tight posture, while the opposing group gets weak due to disuse. For example, the Pectoralis muscles and the lateral neck muscles become short and tight from rounding forward and extending the neck forward. Adaptively the Rhomboids, Thoracic Erector Spinae and anterior neck muscles become weak and inhibited from being lengthened. These muscles fatigue very easily as they have become weak, which results in what we are seeing more frequently as severely rounded shoulders, a head forward posture, and an increase in the thoracic curvature of the spine, known as hyperkyphosis.

How can massage help?

Massage mechanically increases circulation throughout the body and therefore will help to move lymph and metabolites back into the circulatory system. This is not a preventative measure for cardiovascular issues however it helps to maintain tissue health. Massage can help to relieve the hypertonicity in short and tight muscles, stimulate underused weak muscles, and decrease the discomfort associated with hyperkyphosis and shoulder-cross syndrome. My approach to treatment is focused on mobilizing the scapulas, releasing the muscles surrounding the scapulas, decreasing tension in the pecs and neck, stretching out tight muscles, and mobilizing stiff joints. This treatment has proven to be successful in combination with the clients self-care and dedication to one’s own wellness. Massage can get you back into a position where you can move more fluidly with less discomfort and stiffness, but it is up to you to keep moving.

In addition, there are many exercises that can alleviate muscle imbalance and help to maintain a rebalanced system. Generally these include simple stretches for the Pecs and neck in combination with isometric muscle activation of the Rhomboids and scapula retractors. Every massage therapist is knowledgeable of these exercises and should be willing to properly demonstrate how to perform them simply, correctly, and effectively. However, the most simplistic way of curing hyperkyphosis and shoulder-cross syndrome is movement. Movement doesn’t have to entail a high-intensity work out or a crazy body building regiment. Movement is as simple as walking or standing up and stretching, but doing so more frequently. I try and encourage my clients to schedule a reminder in their phone calendar that goes off every hour to encourage a movement break. Or incorporate a core stability ball into the office setting and rotating it to every ones desk at some point in the day. The core stability ball encourages engaging the core muscles, creating a more erect posture. It utilizes the muscles that get weakened from disuse in a slouchy posture. In turn this alleviates the increased kyphotic posture. Standing desks are also becoming more popular, however we need to be aware that postural dysfunctions can be associated with standing still for long periods of time. So, for every one with a standing desk, it is also very important to move around and take a regular break to stretch the shoulders and bend the knees. That natural pump our muscles and bones create for our circulatory system needs movement and contraction to achieve its maximum benefit.

Becoming self-aware and listening to our body is a major step in implementing wellness into our lifestyles. Massage therapy is a very physically and emotionally challenging career. It has forced me to become self-aware and really focus on my own health and wellness. I have to counter the postural effects of giving massage and stay mentally strong in order to be the best I can be for my clients. Without physical activity, there would be no longevity to my career. I would not be able to physically treat my clients without injuring myself or block the energy shared in such an engaging practice. I encourage you to push yourselves to be physical. To be active. To be healthy. I am blessed to be apart of a wonderful team at the Integrative Health Institute that push me to live and breathe the embodiment of health. Good health enables empowered, authentic living.

MelanieGMelanie Gillians is a Registered Massage Therapist who graduated from the Canadian College of Massage and Hydrotherapy. She is registered with the College of Massage Therapists of Ontario and is a member of the Registered Massage Therapist Association of Ontario. She has completed continuing education in pregnancy massage, infant massage, and sports massage.

For more information, feel free to contact Melanie at

Upcoming seminar:

Movement is Medicine
Presented by Melanie Gillians, RMT
Sunday, March 29th, 2015

Register here


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Feb 23

Winter Detox

Dr. Wiley - Winter Fun

Dr. Wiley – Winter Fun


Dr. Wiley’s Top 4 Winter Detox Strategies

Detoxification does not have to mean following a strict diet or cleansing plan. In fact, it is best if we make detoxification an easy part of our lifestyle. The key is to change our mindset by focusing on the health behaviors we want to embrace, instead of focusing on those we want to avoid. This can be a very motivating mental shift. After all, what we think about we bring about. Here are my top four detoxification strategies that will fuel your metabolism!

Embrace your winter greens!

Your liver loves green veggies. As an organ of elimination, the liver is constantly challenged by stress, alcohol, sugar, saturated fats, and chemicals in our environment. Eating a little more green vegetables can go along way to help you feel your best. I recommend eating green veggies with every meal. Breakfast is a great place to start. An easy low carbohydrate green smoothie is the perfect accompaniment to a high protein breakfast. Simple affordable Broccoli is one of the top detoxification veggies on the planet. It can be cooked in an instant and enjoyed as a soup, side or salad. Cabbage is a wonderful stir-fry companion. Try loading your stir-fry with so much cabbage that you won’t need any rice. Kale makes a great long lasting salad that once prepped can be easily accessed for a few days from the fridge. Greens are trendy, cauliflower is the new mashed potato, zucchini is the new pasta, and every health-hipster loves their roasted brussel sprouts. When it comes to greens, the detoxification secret is simple. Load ½ your plate with green veggies and enjoy!

Soups, stews and the winter magic of your slow cooker!

Nothing says warm winter nourishment better than the smell of homemade chicken soup. Soups and stews provide some time saving leverage. It is easy to make a large batch that will last for a few days. Soup broth and slow cooked food is very easy for your body to digest. The micronutrients are dissolved in the broth and readily accessible to your body for detoxification and optimal hydration. Easy digestion also makes for better elimination and health bowel movements.

Simple and soothing Green tea!

Do not underestimate the health benefits of simple green tea. Green tea is loaded with anti-oxidants. It has anti-cancer and anti-aging properties. It is great for your brain and metabolism, and it has more research and positive health benefits than any other food I have ever studied. Relative to supplements and other Superfoods it is extremely affordable and easy to consume. Unlike coffee, it improves focus and concentration while having a relaxing effect on the brain. It is also great way to warm up in the winter.

 Warming winter spices are delicious and even more nutritious!

Natural spices don’t just add flavor they significantly enhance nutrition. Culturally we have removed spices from many processed foods and replaced them with artificial flavour sugar and salt, ingredients that are void of nutritional value. Turmeric is loaded with anti-oxidants and is a great anti-inflammatory. It is especially amazing because it genetically signals your body to make more glutathione, a very powerful internal anti-oxidant. Tasty Ginger is also very rich in anti-oxidants, warming to the soul, and calming to the digestive system. Delicious Cocoa is so full of flavinoids that it reduces risk factors for diabetes, heart disease and cancer. Anti-oxidants help your body to detoxify. It’s time to put that turmeric curry, delicious ginger chicken, and a dark cup of hot cocoa on your meal plan and savour!

May these simple health promoting tips help you cultivate your detoxification lifestyle.

Dr. Erin Wiley is a naturopathic doctor with a strong focus on preventative and integrative medicine. She is the Owner and Clinic Director of the Integrative Health Institute, an integrative medical clinic located in downtown Toronto. Erin has a strong clinical emphasis on stress related illness, anxiety, depression and hormone balance. As a naturopathic doctor, Erin is passionate about working with people to help them better understand their health and achieve their health goals.



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Feb 17

Welcome To The Month Of Love

by Corinne K., Authentic Living Coach & Reiki Practitioner

From Hallmark cards, to chocolate hearts, long-stem roses and romantic dinners, February is often marked as the Month of Love – the perfect time to profess our undying devotion.

We’ve all watched cheesy romantic movies with storybook happy endings. From Bridget Jones and her diary to Katherine Hiegl’s endless pursuit of love, we’re programmed to believe that real love is something we can find from someone else. It’s something that we have to search for from Mr. or Miss. Right. As if loving someone else suddenly makes us more loveable and worthy.

Now don’t get me wrong. Someone loving you unconditionally, despite all your weird habits, past mistakes and eccentricities is magical. But when we find that kind of love, it needs to be an extension – a reflection of the love we feel for ourselves. The whole Jerry Maguire “you complete me” mentality is all wrong.

We have to start with really loving ourselves.

Loving ourselves is about knowing what we value so that we’re surrounded with the right people, places and things.

Loving ourselves is about recognizing and maintaining healthy boundaries so that we invest energy in what counts.

Loving ourselves is about speaking kindly to ourselves when we make a mistake. We take a breath, learn the lesson and move on.

Loving ourselves is about standing up for what we believe in even when others shoot us down.

Loving ourselves is knowing that there’s no such thing as perfection. It’s about seeing us in the mirror everyday, proud to be exactly who and what we are, flaws and all.

Loving ourselves is about chasing our dreams despite the stories that we may come up with that convince us not to. We all tell ourselves stories. We convince ourselves that we can’t do or be something because:

A) Someone told us so.
B) We tried something and it didn’t work the first time.
C) It’s too hard.
D) It’ll take too long.
E) Other people do it better or easier.
F) X event happened X years ago and because of that, we’re stuck.

For the longest time, my story went something like this:

Who am I to have a love that accepts me as I am? Who am I to really love my job? Who am I to shine? Who am I to chase my dreams? Who am I to expect that I can create a full life when there are so many people out there without what I’m wishing for?

Who am I not to? Cue Marianne Williamsom. Note – she refers to G-O-D in this quote. God can be anything you want it to be – the universe, your soul, your angels, whatever you like – this is not about religion. This is about being freaking fabulous.

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

So what’s your story? What are you telling yourself that’s holding you back? What excuses are you using to keep yourself stuck?

You’re the only one who can rewrite that story to get closer and closer to who you want to be in this world. Rewrite your story. Tell yourself why you deserve everything you want.

And go get it.

Much love, XXX

Corinne K.
Change Catalyst. Reiki Practitioner. Soul Healer.

I help my clients live more authentic and full lives by encouraging them to embrace change and life holistically.  My coaching is a mix of straight-up conversations, goal setting, Reiki, creativity and fun. For more information on Corinne, please check out her website.

Corinne is hosting a seminar, ‘February Lovin’’ at IHI this Thursday, February 19th 6:30-7:30pm. Sign up here!


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Feb 9

Menstrual Cramps – A Real Pain in the… Uterus


By Dr. Shannon Vander Doelen, ND

One of our favourite sayings here at IHI is “just because something is common, doesn’t mean it’s normal.” This statement is definitely applicable to dysmenorrhea, which is the medical term for painful menstruation. If I were a betting kind of gal, I would bet that you know a few women who suffer with severe pain each time they get their period.

Common? Yes.
Normal? Debatable.

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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. Stagnation

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 reception.


IMG_2905_2Shannon will work with you to help you live your healthiest and happiest life. Since this means something different to everyone, she is excited about exploring your individual needs and working with you to create a treatment plan that is unique and sustainable for you and your busy lifestyle. Shannon is passionate about health and happiness and believes that the two go hand-in-hand.

Clinically, Shannon practices functional medicine. She maintains a general family practice, with a special interest in managing fatigue, stress, anxiety, and depression; digestive health; skin health; irregular or painful menstruation; and endocrine/hormonal disorders.

Photo Credit: Vanessa Bazzano via Flickr CC

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Feb 2

Don’t Trust the Toucan, Holy Crap vs Froot Loops

By Dr. Jen Newell, ND

Dr. Yoni Freedhoff, MD recently posted a blog revealing the “healthwashing” surrounding Holy Crap cereal and compared this cereal to Froot Loops. While I love Dr. Freedhoff’s intention of educating people about nutrition, I think some nutrition myths and misinformation were provided in this instance. Dr. Freedhoff, if you happen to stumble across this blog I encourage you to continue with your mission but I also suggest you look a little deeper.

Don’t trust the Toucan
I would strongly encourage people to eat Holy Crap over Froot Loops any day. Let’s compare the two:



Holy Crap vs Froot Loops

Holy Crap vs Froot Loops


Dr. Freedhoff’s primary concern with Holy Crap cereal is the small serving size of just 2 tbsp and the price. However, I am not sure he has tried this cereal because if he had he would be aware of how filling 2 tbsp of chia seeds and other sources of soluble fibre and protein can be. I would be concerned if someone were to have more than this 2 tbsp serving because without sufficient water intake they may become incredibly and uncomfortably constipated and with sufficient hydration you may not leave your bathroom all day. Those 2 tbsp contain 6 g of fibre as well as 5 g of protein, making this cereal really filling. Also, had he tried this cereal he would see that 2 tbsp of this cereal when mixed with a liquid becomes a much more substantial serving as the chia seeds plump and develop their slippery slimy coating.
The other thing that Dr. Freedhoff failed to mention is the significant research on the value of soluble fibre in the diet. The recommended daily intake of fibre is a minimum of 25 g/day; however, the average North American only consumes ~15 g/day. Dietary fibre has been shown to promote healthy weight loss, stabilize blood glucose levels, prevent cardiovascular disease and reduce unhealthy cholesterol values.
He also failed to mention anything about the ingredient quality of both cereals. Its like comparing apples to donuts. The Holy Crap cereal is jam-packed with high quality, non-GMO, organic, unprocessed, real food ingredients. Froot Loops are a minefield of nutrient void, heavily processed, food-like ingredients offering little to no health benefits.
I don’t think its fair to compare Holy Crap and Froot Loops “spoon-for-spoon”. Just by looking at the ingredients and the nutrient quality of both cereals I know which one I would choose for breakfast.

Have an awesome day!
Dr. Jen Newell

Dr. Jen Newell is passionate about helping people embrace health, feel amazing and easily incorporate “real” food into their busy lives. Her mission is to make health accessible and achievable, and to inspire patients to live an active, vibrant and healthy life.

Jen has a clinical focus on digestive health, food sensitivities and healthy nutrition; mental health and stress-related illness; women’s health, hormone balance and fertility; optimal aging; and dermatology. She focuses on integrating healthy foods into one’s diet in a medicinal and therapeutic capacity and providing individuals with nutritional support that is easy to incorporate into a busy day. Dr. Newell practices at the Integrative Health Institute in Downtown Toronto.






Ali, et al. (2012, Nov 21). The Promising Future of Chia, Salvia hispanica L. J Biomed Biotechnol .

Brown, et al. (1999). Cholesterol-lowering effects of dietary fiber: a meta-analysis. Am J Clin Nutr , 69, 30-42.

Fuchs, et al. (1999). Dietary Fiber and the Risk of Colorectal Cancer and Adenoma in Women. N Engl J Med , 340, 169-176.

Krishnan S, et al. (2007). Glycemic index, glycemic load, and cereal fiber intake and risk of type 2 diabetes in US black women. Arch Intern Med , 167, 2304-2309.

Mellen PB, et al. (2007). Whole grain intake and cardiovascular disease: A meta-analysis. Nutr Metab Cardiovasc Dis .

Park, et al. (2005). Dietary Fiber Intake and Risk of Colorectal Cancer: A Pooled Analysis of Prospective Cohort Studies. JAMA , 294, 2849-2857.

Pereira, et al. (2004). Dietary Fiber and risk of coronary heart disease: a pooled analysis of cohort studies. Arch Intern Med , 164, 370-376.

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