Jun 3

Adulting.

adult·ing/əˈdəltiNG,ˈaˌdəltiNG/ noun : “the practice of behaving in a way characteristic of a responsible adult, especially the accomplishment of mundane but necessary tasks.”

Clearing up the confusion.

Recently someone asked me about what “adulting” means. I have the word in my website under the list of things that I can help with. It does sound a bit cryptic, and it may confuse people not familiar with the term. Basically, “adulting” is about completing the developmental tasks that turn us into adults.

In Canadian society, a few markers show that you have become an adult. One is becoming a citizen with right to vote. Another is having formed a more or less self-defined identity. There is more!

As an adult, one is expected to be a productive member of society and have mature long-term relationships with other consenting adults. Adults can “manage,” do our laundry, buy food, and take care of ourselves, and even others.

What is the path?

In traditional cultures, when you reach a certain age, you follow a ritual or rite of passage that clearly marks the change from one status to the other. In many cultures, once you are sexually developed, you are an adult. It’s all about the plumbing!

In such a culture, your place in society is pretty much planned for you. If you follow the plan, you will do just fine. It is different in less traditional cultures, where the path for “adulting” is not so easy to figure out.

In our less traditional culture, even though we may already have the “plumbing,” we are not considered adults. We live for a period as adolescents, stuck between being a child and being recognized as an adult. What is worse, in our contemporary society, the path to adulthood can feel like a mystery.

If you are lucky, you get parents who are good at raising you and providing you with the tools you need to grow up and be happy. They have managed to get there, and they know how to help you get there too!

For many, it is not like that. Their parents might not have been so sure about how to grow up. Different events in their own lives may have prevented them from finishing their growing-up journey in certain areas. Many were touched by events larger than themselves.

Past to present perspective.

A huge change in expectations framed the experience of those growing up after WWII, in the 1960s and 1970s, where ideas about what one should be changed radically.

A huge change impacts those leaving their native countries. Like many Canadians, straddling two cultures has impacted them.

Cultural changes brought about by technology, and mindsets like “globalization” have also undermined what was left of models for how to live. Today, most people grow up facing a potentially confusing and bewildering set of circumstances.

Where in the past you had a prescribed path, now you have to find it yourself. Changing sexualities, work conditions, shifting economies, and information overload conspire to add to our bewilderment.

Ideas like leaving behind oppressive forms of patriarchy and secularism leave us bereft of clear positive models after which to mold our lives. It can feel very unclear!

Learn to see opportunities.

While the idea of adulting can be unclear, there are resources to help us. We may be lucky to have friends or parents with more insight. A teacher may be happy to mentor us. Someone in our family, like an uncle or aunt, may be there for us, if we ask. We don’t have to do it alone.

Changing conditions can be an opportunity to let your imagination thrive. It is an opportunity for exploring possibilities and engaging with one’s internal image. It can be a chance to meet the world with our unique amazing gifts.

For those who have not looked at their particular gifts, it can be an opportunity to take steps to find your niche. You can take steps to find what makes you “tick” and root your ideas in the world. It can also be an opportunity to build a better society.

Some traditional customs in many cultures and religions were not exactly “people friendly.” We have the opportunity to embrace the shifts of our times and direct them, as leaders or professionals, in the direction of a more just and compassionate world.

It may feel a bit scary, or too adventurous, but it does not have to feel lonely. There are people in this world that can be your resource. Look around, and you will see organizations of folks that embrace ideas that may match yours, or mentors, or people like me, who have made it a career to contribute to society by helping others get there.

If you are willing, you will find someone to help you figure it out and stand by your side!

– – – – –

For those interested in the “adulting” idea or feeling they can use support, Ariel Blau has appointments available to start the conversation.

Ariel Blau has a formidable passion for helping his clients energize a joyful, loving and creative life. He has more than 30 years of experience helping people bloom. His formal education includes a Master’s degree in Social Work from New York University, a Master’s in Fine Arts from Brandeis University, and a great number of workshops, certificates and seminars. He has been studying mindfulness and how to bring compassion into the world for more than 15 years. His passion for helping others is matched by his enormous drive for continuous learning. Ariel completed his professional clinical training at Yale New Haven Psychiatric Hospital and served as  Lead Clinician at the Jewish Family Service of Greater New Haven.

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May 27

Self-Care Struggle

By Lauren Berger, MSW, RSW

Self-care is a huge buzzword (buzz phrase?) these days. The premise is sound: do things throughout your month, week, day to care for yourself amidst everything you “have to” do, such as go to work, care for your kids, and make sure your home isn’t a total dump. The subtext of self-care is that it should be special, decadent, or ultra-relaxing – think: spa day, candle lit bath, entire chocolate cake from a famous patisserie. While a lovely idea in theory, not everyone can swing an Instagrammable self-care experience on a regular basis, due to lack of time, funds, energy, or other resources. This seems to leave many feeling that self-care is an all or nothing premise.  Well, here I am to squash that theory! Self-care can be accessible to everyone, we just have to redefine its parameters. How, you ask? Dive into my top tips for accessible self-care. Let’s go!

1.Rework your definition of self-care.

If the self-care items on your list are limited to decadent moments, it’s time to redefine the term. Self-care isn’t meant to be something unattainable that you strive for; a more helpful way to frame it is as something that nurtures your wellbeing. That can be done in many ways. Consider the different aspects that make up your wellbeing. What are you eating? A self-care moment that reflects how you feed yourself doesn’t need to take place in a fancy restaurant. Maybe it’s inviting a pal over to eat with you, so you can talk face-to-face instead of over text. Maybe it’s learning to make a version of your favourite restaurant meal so you can enjoy it any time you please.  Or maybe it’s even making a swap, trading out some junk food for something fresh or more nutritious to give your body a boost it may be craving. These are all ways to serve yourself, even if they don’t seem so out of the ordinary. 

2.Reframe the parts that are holding you back. 

Does there always seem to be something in your way when you’re trying to have a moment to yourself? Try building that thing into your self-care time.  Want more time to exercise but your work hours are just too long? Suggest a power walk meeting. You may be surprised at how your colleague may find that a welcome change to a boring office meetup. Is your daily commute zapping your time and incurring your road rage? Download a cool podcast or create a relaxing play list for your drive to turn that time into something more fun or peaceful. If your commute is on public transit, you can even aim for some meditation or guided relaxation on your route (sorry drivers, don’t operate heavy machinery while attempting deep relaxation! Take the streetcar if this is your aim.). Or follow my lead: when I had to spend some time in the hospital with an IV bag, I silenced my phone (bye bye, email alerts!) and brought along the book I’ve been meaning to read… all of a sudden, the potentially crummy and boring medical experience was transformed into some uninterrupted me-time. Even the act of receiving the IV can be looked at as self-care; hey, I was getting my body something it really needed, and that is an excellent way to care for myself!

3. It looks different to everyone.

Some people would give their right arm for a massage while others can’t bear to be touched. That’s cool! No need to force something just because it’s “meant” to be enjoyable or relaxing. Some people crave time with friends while others crave an hour of solo Netflixing. There is no wrong or right way.  You’ll know it’s right for you if you feel a sense of fulfilment, wellbeing, or happiness doing your chosen activity. Most people wouldn’t choose to chill at the hospital for an hour and a half with a needle in their arm, but hey, for me it ended up being a great morning and I walked out with a smile on my face. Our self-care needs are diverse, so don’t worry about it fitting into a pre-determined box.

4.Consider quality vs quantity. 

I think a valid argument can be made for both quality and quantity when it comes to your self-care. Trial and error are key here to finding out which is more beneficial to you. Some people thrive on spending a year looking forward to a two week vacation while others much prefer to take a three day weekend once a month. This also applies to low key self-care; do you need an hour to decompress at the end of the day, or do you need to take five to ten minute breaks throughout the day to re-energize? Experiment and see what’s best for you.

5.Build it in. 

Still finding it hard to get that self-care moment in? Maybe it’s time to build it in to the things you already do. Reframing an everyday task as a self-care moment can make a world of difference. Try looking at your daily shower time in a new way. If you usually rush through it without much thought, try amping it up with some things to take it next level (a new body scrub or a couple drops of essential oil in the steam to relax/invigorate you?), or finding ways to take pleasure in what you already do (pay attention to the sensations while you wash your hair… suddenly it feels like a wonderful scalp massage). 

Caring for yourself should definitely be a non-negotiable, but you can absolutely negotiate what self-care means to your life. With my tips I’m sure you can find a way to fit it in without it feeling like a chore or something out of your reach. Enjoy!

**Disclaimer: The advice in this article is for informational purposes only and does not replace the diagnosis/treatment of a licensed medical or mental health professional.**

Lauren Berger is a Registered Social Worker Psychotherapist providing counselling and psychotherapy at IHI.  Check her out at www.laurenberger.ca, drop her a line at lauren@laurenberger.ca, follow her on Twitter: @LaurenBergerMSW, or sneak a peek at her Instagram: laurenberger_msw.

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May 24

Postpartum Running and Exercise: When can I REALLY return?

“When can I start doing “x” after I’ve given birth?”

Up until just recently this question was only answered at the 6-week postpartum check-up.  After some quick questions and *possibly* a physical exam, new Mamas are cleared for activity or told to return when they feel ready using the common refrain, “listen to your body”. 

But what if I don’t know what I’m listening for?”

Exactly.

Even as an experience physiotherapist, who knows what to look and listen for, it was not until I became a mother twice that I understood how our current postpartum healthcare framework sets up women to have very low expectations about their physical health after birth. 

“You had a baby, what did you expect? That’s normal”

What is often “normal” expectations for how women will return to activity after birth – which is one of the most physically intense activities their body will experience – is actually quite different from how most athletes get cleared to return to sport after major injuries.  This process involves weekly rehabilitation for anywhere from 6-18 weeks and then testing for range of motion, pain levels, muscular strength and a Functional Movement Screen (FMS). FMS is a pre-participation screening tool that is highly effective in isolating and identifying imbalances in muscle mobility and stability through seven fundamental movement patterns. Once deficiencies have been identified, a program of corrective exercises is then developed with the goal of moving efficiently and avoiding musculoskeletal injury. The seven movements are scored from 0-3 points, with the sum creating a score ranging from 0-21 points. Scores lower than 14 are correlated to higher risk of injury.

So Mamas, if the professional athletes with low FMS scores aren’t getting clearance to return to sport by their doctors, why aren’t our doctors being just as discerning with our bodies?  Exercise is so crucial to stress management, energy optimization and mental health so let my unique professional training and personal pregnancy experience guide you back to activity in the same way a pro would return to their sport. My vision for Mamas includes pain free movement, running without “accidents” and returning to your sport/activity of choice without risk of injury.

Parenting is hard enough.  New Mamas take EXTREME measures to avoid all viruses and sickness when they have their newborns. Imagine we took that approach to our physical strength programs to avoid injury and optimize our return to athletic endeavors?  There are so few moments in a Mama’s day, let me simplify and target how you make use of that precious time to be #momstrong.

“But wait, I ran all through my pregnancy so can I return when I feel like it?”

Not exactly.

Pain, whether you think you can control it or not, alters our movement patterns.  We will always move to avoid a pain pattern and each of us interprets pain differently.  This is why some Mamas seem to jump back to a regular routine and others may not make it out of bed that day.

Think about how you start to limp when you get the smallest of blisters from a new pair of shoes. So now picture how may have “waddled” carrying 20-40 baby pounds on your frame.  Or to be more direct, recall how you walked after a human exited your vagina or maybe, after that human exited through an incision that cut through 10 layers of your abdomen, which is supposed to control your core/pelvic movement. 

Suffice to say, we may not be moving in the most efficient or optimized way. So why would we add load (weights) or repeat movements (running) to dysfunctional movement patterns?

“I’m not an athlete, I’m just a Mama who wants to be healthy.  I looked up these tests and I can’t do any of them”

I got you Mamas. I can modify most of the seven movements to determine a better start for you. I understand intimately how pregnancy changed your body movements. I want to provide you with an experience that builds confidence of what you CAN do and not what you CAN’T.

For the first time in women’s postnatal care, let’s be objective about how our bodies are moving to determine if we’re returning to activity safely.  No more arbitrary timelines. It is no longer about 6 weeks, 8 weeks or 12 weeks postpartum when you can start activity. It is about starting at the week when your body is ready to handle momentum, load and repetitive movements like running. No two pregnancies or births are the same so this process is unique to you and an FMS is bespoke postpartum rehabilitation to optimize the RIGHT time to fully return to what you love doing actively.

                                                                        ***

Learn more – Book a complementary call with Kate to find out if you should be completing a Functional Movement Screen to return to activity.

Let’s get started!  Kate is accepting new clients on Tuesdays at Integrative Health Institute

Book your Initial Assessment to determine what your body is ready for.  At this time,  she can also assess if your pregnancy put you at risk for Diastasis Recti vulnerabilities and what can be done to regain functional control of your abdominal muscles.

She was certified in FMS in 2011 and has 14 years of sport medicine experience. She has conducted these screens on all populations and was invited to the Toronto Maple Leaf training camp last year to screen our hometown boys.  Kate is a mom of two kids who used to score an 8/21 on an FMS and now scores a 16/21. 

Kate has been a physiotherapist for 14 years at one of the top sport medicine clinics in Toronto.  After the birth of her two very large babies, she became a busy, athletic mom with all the “common but not normal” post-partum incontinence symptoms.  She has since become a certified pelvic health therapist and a Studio Lagree Pilates instructor.  Her extensive background in all these areas lets her be uniquely suited to restoring pelvic floor function and overall functional movement in women and men trying to be active and accident-free.

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May 22

Don’t Jump Outside Your Comfort Zone, Expand It

There is an interplay between how our brain functions and how we experience the world. We are complex beings whose genes, history, and culture are in collaboration with the complex structure that is the brain. Learning how our brain works and how to best leverage its strengths is key to how we perceive, and therefore how we choose to show up in life.

The brain interprets input through a system of layers in which everything is about a predictability model and expectation violation. It uses our past experiences to search for familiarity in our present circumstances to see if we are what it perceives to be ‘safe’, and re-creates an expected outcome—a processing that occurs in an instant and without our conscious awareness.

If someone touches you, for example, your skin receptors are the first to interpret if you have experienced that in the past and to let you know if you like it or not. If the input is familiar at that level, there is no need for further analysis. If it is not familiar, the next step is at the level of your spinal cord, where you may have a reflexive response based on past information. The brain stem is the next level— it decides if the situation is threatening in a life or death sort of way. As we continue through the levels, we become more specific in our analysis. At the level of the thalamus, we begin to distinguish what is the kind of touch: Human? Animal? Mosquito? Should we still be unsure about the nature of the situation, we get to the level of the cortex where perception happens and we apply further reason to the investigation. With each level, the complexity goes up, and so too the potential for entropy (chaos)!

As we are urged to look at our ‘limiting beliefs’ and ‘step out of our comfort zone’, it is important to understand the system we are dealing with and what it was designed to do…

To actually jump outside of our comfort zone can be a threatening thing. Should we venture outside the box and get smacked down, the zone can recoil and we are then less inclined to try it again, as that becomes the past experience to which our brain ties all future risk-taking. The trick is to expand our comfort zone by pushing the boundaries—putting ourselves in an uncomfortable context in a limited way which will create a positive feedback loop. This decreases the perception of threat and gives us an opportunity to ‘fail successfully’.

A framework for what this looks like is this:

1. Do things that are in a novel environment.

  • Introducing variability increases your tolerance for it.

2. Connect to something that is bigger than you.

  • The less it is actually about you, the less pressure you perceive!

3. Emotionally prepare for ‘negative’ feelings, feedback,
or results.

  • Being prepared improves your resiliency and lessens impact.

4. Have someone who gives positive feedback.

  • Have people in your life that encourage and support you.

As an illustration of this process, for the second year, I am acting in a musical in a community theatre production. Although it causes some frustration and anxiety at times, and challenges me in many ways, it also allows me to challenge the belief that I have that I cannot sing.

Without natural aptitude, everything about singing and dancing feels complex, so I must look for variables that I can control—which are those that arise internally. The tendency to compare myself to the best singer and the best dancer does not decrease my anxiety or increase my performance—once our stress response is activated, we become more reactive and have less bandwidth to learn new things. So, I can choose instead to see how I am better than I was last week, thereby feeling more capable, expanding my zone, and managing that particular stressor.

I can also choose what I hope to gain from the experience and the goals I set for myself. Finding the balance between accepting the challenge of the task but setting a base value of what I want to get out of it. I am not aiming for Broadway, rather looking at how this might serve me to become better at life. If I explored something new and uncomfortable, and if I tried really hard to do my best, then that alone is magical, regardless of the outcome or what other series of events may occur.

And I can embrace the knowledge that a certain amount of chaos (entropy) is inevitable! Even within a controlled environment, with practice, and under direction, there is a fluidity to the experience. The uncertainty of the performance, all of the other people involved, and the irritation that arises when the director changes things on the fly and we have to adapt again after so much preparation. Yet one of the most beautiful things about acting is that 90% of it is reacting to what is happening in the present moment—which is a challenge in and of itself.

Our beliefs may be so deeply ingrained that they are interwoven into our DNA, influenced by epigenetics and the many facets of our environment that we have experienced since childhood. The challenging thing about beliefs is that we see the world through them, and we have a bias toward things that validate them. I am far more likely to take criticism than compliments when it comes to my singing, as that supports my belief. Yet, as we add a greater degree of consciousness and expose ourselves to feedback, we can observe if the reality actually matches our belief system.

While having a growth mindset may involve believing that you can change your beliefs, the main thing is to not let those beliefs govern your life. Being able to behaviorally push the boundary can help to immunize us to such beliefs, yet we must also understand that as we do so, the bar usually continues to raise! While I may continue to have the perception that I am not a great singer, I can shift the belief that, as an extension of speaking, I still have a right to sing.

For myself, I am challenged by my clients to practice what I preach, so whatever anxiety or discomfort I may feel, or whatever ego hits I may take in the process, it is by design to become a better clinician and to be more vivid and clear in my own voice. When I ask you to think or do things differently, I know how hard it is to change those patterns and confront those beliefs so, in that way, we have a shared skin in the game.

Expand your comfort zone by challenging your assumptions and controlling the complexity. Choose goals, situations, and perspectives that allow for the feedback and lessons that will diffuse into other aspects of your life, and celebrate your own small wins along the way. Regardless of the complexity or chaos that life is bound to throw your way, having the courage to sing your own song is part of the dance of life in which we all have a role to play.

Dr. Tabrizi is a chiropractor, osteopath and a passionate member of both the local and scientific community, whose goal is to teach that the pursuit of optimal health and wellness is much more than being symptom-free. His practice is rooted in the philosophy of treating the person rather than just treating the illness or ailment. As a result of his interdisciplinary training, Dr. Tabrizi has developed a neuroscience-based therapeutic education approach to treating his patients, focusing on healing illness from a wider perspective, placing equal responsibility on patient as well as practitioner. Dr. Tabrizi aims to educate his patients and provide them with the tools and framework needed to integrate pain management and healthy living into the fabric of their everyday lives.

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May 13

Is it PMS or PMDD?

Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) is a many-headed beast – with over 150 different symptoms attributed to PMS, many women find the days, or week, before their period to be a challenging time. But what about those women who are completely destroyed by their PMS? Who suffer with severe mood changes, insomnia and fatigue? Those women may in fact be suffering from PMDD – premenstrual dysphoric disorder. 

A Diagnosis of PMDD

PMDD is classified as a type of depressive disorder. It is not the same as clinical depression because it only occurs during the second half of the menstrual cycle, after ovulation, and it resolves within a few days of starting your period.

For the 2-6% of women who experience PMDD, it can lead to significant negative impacts on her life. Known to cause severe distress, it can impact a woman’s ability to function and to maintain her quality of life. But still many of the women don’t seek treatment and instead suffer each month with severe symptoms. 

PMDD is different from PMS in the severity of symptoms and the consequences of the mood changes. The diagnosis is made by using symptom tracking reports and needs to meet the following criteria:

Treatment of PMDD

Conventional treatment of PMDD gives women two limited options: the birth control pill, or an antidepressant. While these treatments may be effective for some women, many more women are seeking a more natural, empowered approach to managing their PMDD.

Natural Approaches to PMDD

I previously wrote an article called Ten Natural Treatments for PMS where I highlight ten of the best researched and most effective treatments for managing PMS. I suggest all women with PMDD also follow those recommendations. But for PMDD I tend to take a more aggressive approach – the symptoms are often severe enough to warrant a very targeted and bold plan. 

Vitamin B6

Used in both PMS and PMDD, vitamin B6 is necessary for the production of cortisol, progesterone and serotonin – all hormones involved in PMS and PMDD. Taking high (orthomolecular) doses of vitamin B6 can be helpful at reducing symptoms of PMS and PMDD. Vitamin B6 is usually taken all month long, but higher doses can be used in the second half of the cycle if needed. 

Calcium

Calcium has been found in studies to reduce a wide variety of symptoms associated with PMS. While I don’t generally find it to be useful on its own, in a robust protocol calcium can play a role in reducing both the mood and physical symptoms of PMS and PMDD. 

L-tryptophan and 5-HTP

Two supplements that can increase the production of serotonin in the body, L-tryptophan and 5-HTP, show a ton of promise in the treatment of PMDD.  Using a similar mechanism as antidepressants, these two treatments can support the serotonin production and response – considered to be one of the most effective means of treating PMDD.  L-tryptophan and 5-HTP are the direct precursors of serotonin and can significantly reduce mood symptoms of PMDD. These supplements are not recommended to be taken together (we choose one or the other, depending on your needs), and should not be combined with other antidepressants. Use only under the guidance of a knowledgeable and experienced Naturopathic Doctor. 

St. John’s Wort

One of the most commonly used botanical medicines, St. John’s Wort is an excellent treatment for women with PMDD. Acting on the serotonin system in the body, St. John’s Wort can reduce depressive symptoms of PMDD and improve mood. It can be taken all month long, or just during the second half of the menstrual cycle. 

Chaste Berry

Chaste berry (chaste tree, Vitex agnus-castus), which I also discussed in the PMS article, has been found to be effective for PMDD. Chaste berry can reduce anger, irritability, anxiety, mood swings, and physical symptoms associated with PMS and PMDD. My experience is that it can be moderately effective for PMDD, but often additional treatments are needed to help women feel considerably better. 

IV Micronutrient Therapy

One treatment that I offer at the Integrative Health Institute, and have found to drastically improve PMS and PMDD symptoms in women is IV micronutrient therapy (IVMT). IVMT allows us to administer doses of vitamins (like B6, calcium and magnesium) at higher doses than you would be able to take orally. IV therapy also provides an abundance of nutrients necessary for detoxification of hormones – and reducing the hormone burden in the body can greatly improve symptoms of PMDD. Not every woman is a candidate for IVMT, but talk to your Naturopath to find out if you are. 

Bio-Identical Progesterone

While we don’t know exactly what causes PMS and PMDD, one suspect in this mystery is an imbalance of estrogen and progesterone – often called estrogen dominance. When progesterone levels are unstable, or low, and estrogen levels are high, PMS and PMDD depression and mood swings can result. For some women, especially those in their 40s, bio-identical progesterone can be a lifesaver. Your ND will give you a questionnaire to identify a possible progesterone imbalance, and may also recommend hormone testing.

Reclaiming Your Life

My best recommendation to managing PMDD is to work with someone who takes your symptoms seriously, who recognizes the many ways in which PMS and PMDD can influence your quality of life, and who can help you to develop a plan that addresses your unique experience. My approach to PMDD is generally quite bold and proactive – mostly because I don’t want women to suffer unnecessarily. It can take several months to overcome the debilitating symptoms of PMDD – but trust me, they can be overcome.

Select Resources

Comprehensive Gynecology, Seventh Edition. Ed. Lobo R, Gershenson D, Lentz G. 2017; 37, 815-828.

Ferri’s Clinical Advisor. Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder. Ed. Ferri FF. 2019

Dr. Lisa Watson believes that you don’t have to be perfect to be healthy.  Lisa encourages her patients to take a proactive approach to their health – taking meaningful steps towards achieving their goals for balanced and vibrant health.  An expert in women’s health and hormones, Lisa is a passionate advocate for women’s health and strives to educate all the women in her practice on how to achieve lifelong abundant health.  Dr. Watson practices at the Integrative Health Institute in downtown Toronto and writes regularly about women’s health on her website at www.drlisawatson.com

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May 6

Ten Nutrition Hacks for Beginner Runners

When I started running, I had no idea what to eat. So, I just ate it all. With these 10 tips, you can begin to shift your metabolic state and your training results.

1. Start your Nutritional Training now.

Just like you are training your muscles, you are training your brain and body to eat for health. The sooner you start, the sooner your body will thank you.

2. Nutrient-dense foods are key.

Choose nutrient-dense foods over those that are energy dense.

Swap out white sugars for Honey, Maple Syrup, Agave, or Stevia.

3. High quality carbs.

Choose higher quality carbohydrates. Remember, that fruits and veggies count as carbs too.

Swap out white breads, cereals and pastas for higher quality grains such as quinoa, oatmeal, brown rice, peas, carrots, corn, pumpkin, butternut squash, fresh and dried fruit.

  • 15-20 grams of carbohydrate (+protein) = 1⁄2 cup dried beans, lentils, garbanzo beans
  • 15 grams of carbohydrate = a slice of spelt bread, 1/2 cup brown rice, a piece of fruit or 3/4 cup 100% fruit juice
  • 12 grams of dairy carbohydrate = 1 cup of milk or yogurt, 1.5 oz cheese
  • 5 grams of vegetable carbohydrate = 1 cup of leafy vegetables, 1/2 cup chopped veggies, 3/4 cup vegetable juice
4. Prioritize fruits and veggies.

Fruit and vegetables should be high up on your priority list. You should aim to consume at least three fruit and three vegetables per day.

5. Remember protein.

Don’t neglect the protein in your diet – protein is very important for maintaining and building lean muscle mass. Try having some form of protein at every meal. You need just under your body weight in kg’s in grams of protein. For example, a person that weighs 56kg’s would need just under 56 grams of protein. Here is a quick cheat chart to give you an idea of how much you are consuming. Apps like myfitnesspal.com will help you track your macros.

  • 21 grams of protein = 3 ounce serving of lean meat (1 medium pork chop), 1/2 a chicken breast or a small halibut, salmon, cod fillet
  • 7 grams of protein = 1/2 cup of cooked beans, 1 ounce of cheese, 1 egg/2 egg whites, 4 ounces of tofu,2 tablespoons of nut butter
  • 8 grams of protein = one cup of milk or yogurt
  • 3 grams of protein = one serving of whole grain products (a slice of bread)
6. Re-Think fat.

Fats are required for proper brain and hormone support. You can also train your body to burn fats vs the more common carbo load. Ask if Keto or Keto Cycling is the choice for you. Make sure your diet includes these healthy choices: olive oil, olives, coconut oil, coconut milk, coconut shavings, avocado, nuts, seeds and organic feta.

7. Time it Right.

Pre Exercise. Eat every four hours. Skipping meals depletes your body of protein, not fat. Aim to get your work out in 30 minutes after a light snack or two hours after a meal.

8. Time it Right.

Post Exercise. Eat 20-60 minutes post work out.

9. Avoid unnecessary ingredients.

Sports drinks, gels and energy bars are commonly used by runners. In the early stages of training, these are not necessary. Many of them contain extra sugar, carbs as well as ingredients that can upset your tummy. Once your endurance improves, we can chat about health options.

10. Pay attention to your fluid needs.

Dehydration can decrease your performance and lead to headaches which may discourage your progress. Set yourself up for success. Take a glass or metal bottle of water with you to work and training. Just like your protein, aim for your body weight in kg’s.

Dr. Jennifer Tanner, has a broad, evidence-based practice with a focus on sports and performance-based medicine. Being a marathon runner and having been a competitive equestrian, an active lifestyle is important. Dr. Tanner uses a variety of tools including Acupuncture and Clinical Nutrition, putting an emphasis on “food as medicine” and addressing the root causes of inflammation. In conjunction with the Integrative Health team, Dr. Tanner is thrilled to help people achieve an optimal state of health and pursue their performance based health goals!

www.drjennifertannernd.com

@drjennifertannernd

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Apr 22

Are You The Proud Holder Of A High-Sensitivity Trait?

Are you a highly sensitive person? Do you want to know? HSPs tend to be affected both positively and negatively by the trait (mostly positively). Knowing if you have the trait might help you manage any negative aspects effectively and optimize the way you enjoy the positive aspects!

Contrary to what it might sound like, the high sensitivity person is someone endowed with four powerful character components: higher perceptive capacity, fine sensorial acuity, more depth of processing, and more intensity of emotions. People sometimes confuse this trait with introversion, or the idea that someone is too “sensitive” emotionally or unable to handle life demands. This is not accurate, as I will show below. So…how many people have this trait?

STATS

Looking at the statistics, about 20% of humans are endowed with this normal and widespread temperamental trait. That means that out of five individuals you meet, one might be experiencing the world with this trait. The statistics are much higher among counselling patients. One-in-two, or 50% of patients, have this trait!

PACKAGE DEAL

There are many advantages to individuals with the the high sensitivity trait. The four main advantages are high perceptive capacity, high sensory acuity, more depth of processing, and relatively more intense emotions. HSPs are deeply admired and appreciated in a work environment, as friends and partners. Members of this group tend to have higher than average ability to assess situations, perceive changes and patterns, and notice social and emotional cues.

MORE DEPTH OF PROCESSING

The most important positive aspect of the trait is the depth of perception. High Sensitivity Persons take their time making their decisions and are not impulsive. They are the kind of person that “cases out” a party before plunging in. When they make a decision, it has been deeply considered. It’s why they make great planners and strategists.

MORE SENSORIAL ACUITY

High Sensitivity persons also have greater capacities for “taking in” the environment due to higher sensorial acuity. They tend to notice changes in the environment that others might not. This is a very powerful survival tool.

They actually might be the first to notice the flicker of a fluorescent light, when someone changes their hair, when something in a room has been moved, or when the heating breaks down. Loud noises like the sounds of fire-trucks or the texture of a clothing label can be more bothersome to them. If they don’t take a low stimulation break, they will feel overloaded.

HSPs also have more sensitive bodies. They are more aware of bodily changes, pain, and may be more intensely affected by surgery, medication, or therapies. Health professionals that are not aware of this trait often think their patients are making it up, but the experience of sensitivity is real.

SOCIAL CUES and INTUITION

High Sensitivity persons tend to pick on social and gestural cues that others miss due to their very active mirror neurons. Mirror Neurons are the nervous system component that is the basis for building understanding of other individuals’ state of mind. 

This is why, in my line of work, having the trait helps me be more attuned to my patients’ experience. We HSPs tend to “know” how to make people comfortable and help them feel better.

On the other hand, having slightly more permeable boundaries, HSPs need to be aware of when they are getting overwhelmed, especially in high stress environments working with people with poor boundaries or lack of self-control. Good boundaries are necessary and useful for them.

INTENSE POSITIVE AND NEGATIVE EMOTIONS

In terms of emotions, High Sensitivity persons have relatively more intense positive and negative emotions. This can work both ways. Individuals with this trait tend to flourish when they find themselves in the right environment. When they understand their trait they can maximize the benefits.

Adversely, they tend to also be affected by negative environments, that is why a compatible workplace or relationship is important. 

SUMMARY

Often admired by clients, peers and co-workers for their insight and intuition, your high-sensitivity trait comes packaged with modes that may cause you occasional distress. For example, if you have this trait, you may find yourself overwhelmed in intensely noisy environments, and overloaded with sensory stimuli if you cannot take break to re-charge. This may affect your social life, relationships and tolerance to work-related stress.

The good news is that if you are a high-sensitivity individual, you will tend to respond better to psychotherapy and to “get” the ideas behind treatment faster. Working with a counsellor or therapist to help you manage these gifts will help you make your work more successful and your life experience more enjoyable and sustainable. You can learn techniques that help you manage your trait in a positive and enjoyable way. 

Yoga and mindfulness are very helpful to unwind and re-charge. Noticing how your experience affects you might give you clues to managing your life in an optimal and enjoyable manner.

For more information Psychotherapist Elaine Aron, PhD, has done intensive research on this trait and you can read some of it here >> ELAINE ARON’s PAGE<<

Ariel Blau has a formidable passion for helping his clients energize a joyful, loving and creative life. He has more than 30 years of experience helping people bloom. His formal education includes a Master’s degree in Social Work from New York University, a Master’s in Fine Arts from Brandeis University, and a great number of workshops, certificates and seminars. He has been studying mindfulness and how to bring compassion into the world for more than 15 years. His passion for helping others is matched by his enormous drive for continuous learning. Ariel completed his professional clinical training at Yale New Haven Psychiatric Hospital and served as  Lead Clinician at the Jewish Family Service of Greater New Haven.

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Apr 15

Can Acupuncture Help Your Sleep?

One of the most rewarding things as an acupuncturist is hearing your patient snore.

It might seem counter intuitive, but people falling asleep during their acupuncture treatments is very common. So common in fact, that many of my clients refer to their time on the treatment table as “Acu-Naps.” And while it is not essential to sleep in order for acupuncture to work, it is certainly a sign that it is!

Sleep is such an important part of our health, but poor sleep and insomnia is often ignored by people as something they can “deal with” or “power through.” For others, insomnia can lead to sleep anxiety, creating a vicious cycle further impacting your sleep. Not sleeping well means that you aren’t allowing your body to recover and restore, and can leave you feeling tired, irritable, and can lead to other health issues. The deep relaxation that acupuncture treatments bring on is not only a great catalyst for a mid-day cat nap, but can also help address deeper sleep issues and insomnia.

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) likes to break down sleep problems into two main categories: difficulty falling asleep, and difficulty staying asleep.

Difficulty falling asleep is generally due to the mind having a hard time letting go of its busy thoughts. We stay awake the continue to mull over the day and think about what we have to do tomorrow. I think of this as a hamster wheel that is spinning very quickly, and it is having a hard time slowing down. Acupuncture is able to help you break that pattern by moderating your autonomic nervous system. By calming your nervous system, acupuncture helps calm the mind and allows you to fall asleep more easily.

Difficulty staying asleep can be due to a variety of factors. Often, it can be a secondary issue like chronic pain that wakes you as you toss and turn, or poor sleep quality that wont let you fall into deep sleep. In this case it is important to determine the cause and address it. If it is pain, that pain needs to be managed. If it is poor sleep quality, then that needs to be improved. Whatever the cause, acupuncture can address the issue and allow you to get a full night’s rest.

Acupuncture’s ability to help with sleep is so universal that many of my clients that come in for unrelated issues often report back that their sleep is better since starting acupuncture treatment.  The clients that have deeper rooted sleeping problems are often surprised when they drift off during the treatment, and at the end of their session tell me that they are ready to go home and go back to sleep! Some of them even book their appointments at the end of the day to take full advantage of that.

Acupuncture’s ability to help with insomnia has been well studied. In a systemic review of 46 randomized control trials on acupuncture and sleep, researchers found that acupuncture performed better than no treatment, sham acupuncture, and even as well as medication in terms of helping sleep duration.

So, regardless of if you need help falling asleep, staying asleep, or just want an opportunity to take a nap, acupuncture treatments are a great tool to re-train your sleeping patterns and get a full night’s rest.

Have you had your acu-nap today?

Jonathan is an acupuncturist and practitioner of traditional Chinese medicine. He values a holistic approach, and seeks to treat the root causes of illness and provide symptomatic relief for people seeking to better their health and quality of life. As a practitioner, Jonathan seeks to create a positive healing environment, where patients can step away from their daily stresses. Through creating a safe and comfortable space, patients can look forward to coming in for treatment as an opportunity to seek relief and get the support they need.

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Apr 8

No.

“No.”  It’s the shortest sentence in the English language, but for many it’s the hardest one to say.  Sometimes we feel like we’ll be missing out or get in trouble for saying it, but if we never say “no”, we wind up with much bigger problems.  There are big benefits to learning how to say “no” when appropriate, and today I am breaking down my top reasons to say no.

1. Divine decline.

When you say “no”, consider what you’re actually saying “yes” to.  If you had plans to stay in and relax but your friends are pressuring you to go out (when you’re really not feeling it), suddenly you’re saying “yes” to them and “no” to yourself.  Something isn’t adding up here.  Your desires are just as important as those of the people around you.  An invitation does not equal an automatic obligation to say “yes”.  Remember that you can’t please everyone all the time, and it’s a-ok to please yourself and honour your own needs.  Say “no” and get back to your bubble bath/Netflix/workout/cat memes.

2. Be a more efficient employee.

Finding that you’re a “yes man/woman” while on the job?  You’re not alone.  Many feel that if you say no to a higher-up, you may wind up in trouble or looked upon as lazy.  If your pile of work is starting to resemble the Leaning Tower of Pisa, consider this: most employers prefer that you do a great job at a reasonable number of tasks than a lousy job (that may need to be redone) at too many tasks.  This will likely save your boss from excess work in the long run because he or she won’t have to go over your work ad nauseum.  It boils down to quality over quantity.  Using excellent communication to relay the message that you’re hard at work slaying a certain project can help you say “no” when too many extras are being thrown your way.  And remember: if you never speak up and say when you’ve hit your limit, your boss may think that you’re able to handle more work

3.Consider your communication.

How you frame your “no” is everything.  Package up your “no” so that it seems like a great idea.  Remember the old adage that you win more flies with honey than with vinegar; so you can aim to be “sweet” when saying no, instead of irritated or annoyed.  Offer an explanation that shows the benefit to the person who asked the favour of you.  “I’d just love to be a bridesmaid for you, but I know I won’t be able to give the attention to the activities that you deserve for your special day, and I want you to be as happy as can be!”  Offer an alternative if you can, whether you can offer to do the task on another day or if you know someone who can tackle it today.  If you can participate in just some of the task, that works too.  “I’m not free on Saturday morning to help you move, but I’d love to drop off a coffee and muffin care package in the afternoon for a pick-me-up!” 

4. And for the person that just won’t take no for an answer…

Just say no.  No sugar coating required.  If you do, he or she may take it as an opening to persuade you.  You’re entitled to say a firm “no.”

Saying “no” can be a real challenge when you want to please people, but if you wind up feeling resentful, angry, or exhausted from saying “yes” too often, then this is a skill you need to work on.  Remember that just because you are asked something doesn’t automatically oblige you to do it.  Just say no.

**Disclaimer:  The advice in this article is for informational purposes only and does not replace the diagnosis/treatment of a licensed medical or mental health professional.**

Lauren Berger is a Registered Social Worker Psychotherapist providing counselling and psychotherapy at IHI.  Check her out at www.laurenberger.ca, drop her a line at lauren@laurenberger.ca, follow her on Twitter: @LaurenBergerMSW, or sneak a peek at her Instagram: laurenberger_msw.

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Apr 1

#OWN #YOUR #ORGASM

“Ok, this is good…….
Nope, too far left now….
I’ll just twist my hips to the right…noooo, don’t move in the opposite direction…ugh
Wait….closer…yes…ok this feels good….
I think I could get there like this….

         *elapsed time 36 seconds

This is taking too long…
I don’t know if this….
Oh there…yes there…more like that…so close…shit…off again…
Maybe I just say “your turn” or do I fake it?
Whoa!!! Too fast…I’m not a salt lick.
What time is it?  It’s probably been 20 min

         *elapsed time 2:04

It didn’t used to take this long….
My alarm is going off in 5 hrs, maybe I’m fine, this was good enough, right?
Maybe next time…..

         *elapsed time 3:12

THERE!!!! Stay right THERE! That’s it…keep going…it’s building….yes this is going to happen…

         *child cries from other bedroom

FML”


For too many women, this is a familiar internal dialogue where we all too frequently assume something must be wrong while impatiently awaiting that elusive orgasm. But maybe instead of blaming our minds or bodies we need to empower ourselves to silence these conversations so the pleasure of our orgasms can be heard above our self-doubt.

Is it all in my head?

Partially.  Often frustration with orgasms is rooted in a cycle that stems from our clitoral physiology and anatomy.  Our ability to generate an orgasm can be delayed from conditions around nerve responsiveness, blood flow and muscle contraction. This can further lead to decreased lubrication for the sexual episode and the whole process seems to take longer.  Cue the above conversation and know the brain does not forget about these encounters (even with baby brain) but rather becomes overly self-conscious the next time.  Hence our cycle of self-fulfilling prophecies that are no parts pleasure or fulfillment.

Did my kids break my vagina?

At the time, it may have seemed inevitable that the beauty of our vaginas was never going to be as beautiful as the child who destroyed them. So yes, childbirth changed some of the architectural integrity down there.  The muscles may have been stretched and episiotomies/tears left you with scar tissue that lacks elasticity or a decreased ability to contract along the scar line.  Some of these muscles assist with clitoral erection and contractions for orgasms. 

Am I too old?

Age plays a role but so does use.  As the saying goes, if you don’t use it, you lose it so why would our vaginas be any different?  The body ages and so does your vagina.  These age-related changes are more prevalent in post-menopausal women due to down regulated hormones.  But even for pre-menopausal women, there is pain, fatigue, laziness, kids, weakness, scar tissue, fear and general life, which places hurdles in front of our sexual health.

So what now?

What if there was a way we could treat some of these conditions and help reverse these cycles? We can’t defy the aging process but we can improve blood flow, nerve conduction and muscle strength locally in our clitoris and surrounding areas. Recently, a modern medical therapy known as soundwave therapy (also known as shockwave therapy; “SWT”) has been used in this area and has shown promising results.

So you want to use Soundwave Therapy where???

SWT uses energy from acoustic waves to induce cells to regenerate naturally. This helps improve blood flow, stimulates nerve growth, and ultimately makes the treated tissue more responsive to stimulation and increases the possibility for contraction.

SWT has become a popular treatment for erectile dysfunction (ED).  Unlike other treatments options for ED, which are used circumstantially, SWT is unique in that it aims to restore the erectile mechanism in order to enable natural or spontaneous erections with lasting results.

Sexual enhancement is not just for men.  It’s 2019, I’ll have what he’s having, thanks! The clitoris and penis are related in anatomical structure as they originated from the same developmental tissue.   With the mounting evidence from ED research, we know SWT will directly impact the physiology of the clitoris, improving overall sensation, blood flow and muscle contraction which are integral for orgasms. 

SWT is not limited to treating one condition. Post-partum, the perineal muscles that make up our pelvic floor can be excessively tight (hypertonia) or may have developed scar tissue from difficult births or surgical procedures.  With the appropriate internal assessment, SWT can help facilitate improved muscle length in the area and scar tissue pliability.  This will directly improve your ability to strengthen your pelvic floor muscles in your treatment and home exercise plan.

At any age, sexual satisfaction is essential for a women’s overall emotional and physical health.

* * *

Kate has over 10 years of experience, using the Swiss-made Storz SWT machines to treat head-to-toe musculoskeletal injuries.  Recently, she has applied this expertise to pelvic health dysfunction and enhancement. Men’s sexual health clinics have been employing this medical treatment technique for years. In the era of equality, it is time for you ladies to #ownyourorgasm #thinkoutsidethebox #traininsidethebox

Check out her webpage https://kateroddyphysio.com/soundwave for more information such as journal resources and frequently asked questions. 

Convinced? Book NOW

Kate has been a physiotherapist for 14 years at one of the top sport medicine clinics in Toronto.  After the birth of her two very large babies, she became a busy, athletic mom with all the “common but not normal” post-partum incontinence symptoms.  She has since become a certified pelvic health therapist and a Studio Lagree Pilates instructor.  Her extensive background in all these areas lets her be uniquely suited to restoring pelvic floor function and overall functional movement in women and men trying to be active and accident-free.

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