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In Search of Sisu & Scandi Winter Wisdom

Toronto Holistic Nutritionist Laurie McPhail Sisu and Scandi Winter WisdomWinter “frostrates” me.  I have to work at not letting it get me down.  I was thinking recently that this coming winter might be even more challenging with the pandemic and all basically putting a chill, so to speak, on my usual ways to keep my spirits up.  My Finnish grandmother, who embodied sisu, came to mind and I said to myself “C’mon Laurie, tap into some of that sisu that Grammy Saimi passed on to you!”  Then, lo and behold, I was perusing Overdrive and The Finnish Way:  Finding Courage, Wellness and Happiness Through the Power of Sisu (by Katja Pantzar) popped up as a recommendation.  Seems Google really is listening.  So here is what I learned about sisu and the Scandinavian wisdom of hygge and lagom in my exploration of Nordic winter ways.  This winter I’m determined to chillax!

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Fascial Stretch Therapy – It’s the Way I Roll…

Toronto Holistic Nutritionist Laurie McPhail Fascial Stretch Therapy - It's the way I roll...This is the story of how Fascial Stretch Therapy (FST) saved me.  Certainly Fascial Stretch Therapy saved my ability to run.  I love running outdoors!  I love the freedom of it and the exhilaration of all that oxygen flooding my body.  But it seemed for a time that running didn’t love me back.

I’d just get into the zone and then, wham, I’d get nagging pain in my psoas area and groin.  My lower back would get sore and twinge-y.  And I’d have to stop for a while.  I always put it down to over-doing it or some problem with my gait.  And each time I’d rest for a month or more and spend untold capital on physiotherapists and chiropractors trying to fix the problem.

Fascial Stretch Therapy Saved Me

I’d also see my massage therapist, Audrey Kelly.  Audrey worked with me using Fascial Stretch Therapy (FST).  And she encouraged me to stretch on my own daily.  She showed me various stretches and suggested using a foam roller and trigger point balls.  So I dutifully bought them and then did nothing with them.

When I ended up injuring myself a second time she asked me, “have you been stretching like I suggested?”.  Sheepishly I had to admit I hadn’t.  So I started.  And I added “Foam roll for five minutes” as a “habit” to my Aaptiv Coach.  Once I needed to do it to earn my gold star for the day, it amazed me at how consistent I became (I’m rather Type A).  And a miracle happened; the pain went away!  Fascial Stretch Therapy saved me.  Now it’s the way I roll…

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Engage Your Abs for Esprit de Core

Toronto Holistic Nutritionist Laurie McPhail Engage the Abs for Esprit de Core“Engage the bandhas!”  My yoga teacher, Christine Dennis, reminds us of this often in class – it’s almost a mantra.  Bandha is the Sanskrit term for “body lock” in Hatha Yoga.  Christine is usually referring to the bandhas that involve the pelvic floor muscles and the abdominals up to the diaphragm.  In plain English, she means “engage your abs”!

Activating these muscles essentially creates a supportive “corset” for your torso.  This protects your back and helps stabilize your body.  When you engage your abs and strengthen your core, you make daily activities easier.  More important, you help prevent injury during both day-to-day activities and exercise.  At my age, I’m all about preventing injury, especially back injury.

And (spoiler alert for an upcoming post on osteoporosis) weight-bearing exercise is one of the most effective things we can do to prevent bone loss as we get older.  In fact, studies have shown that strength training may even help build new bone.  Of course it also builds muscle mass to keep us lively and energetic.

So now is the perfect time to delve into how to engage your abs!  With esprit de core, you will be able to strength train both effectively and safely! read more

Get anti-gravity glutes & a functional booty

Toronto Holistic Nutritionist Laurie McPhail Anti-gravity GlutesI can’t recall which comedian said “By the time I turned forty, I finally had my head together…and then my ass fell apart” but I do recall thinking it was hilarious at the time.  By the time I turned fifty, I didn’t think it was so funny any more.  And now that I am beyond fifty (how much beyond is a state secret), many of my cohort are lamenting the state of our fallen asses and are ready to take action to achieve anti-gravity glutes.

So I thought I’d ask one of my fan-tastic Pilates teachers to give guidance on how to achieve anti-gravity glutes.  When I learned that Amanda’s Instagram handle was @assbyamanda, I knew our asses were in good hands.  All puns intended. 😉

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Wind down winter with the Yoga Warrior Restart

warrior restartwarrior restartWishing winter would end sooner rather than later?  Wanting to do your body some good?
Then consider winding down your winter, and winding down, with the Yoga Warrior Restart in beautiful Bucerias, Mexico.

Yoga Warrior Robin Riviere is hosting this week-long yoga retreat from April 6 to 13. 

Warrior Restart is for yoga warriors over 40.  Whether you began Ashtanga yoga early in life or are just learning, Robin will show you how to find the yoga warrior within.  So if you are looking to take time for yourself, restart your yoga practice and renew your commitment to healthy lifestyle choices, Warrior Restart is for you!

For a limited time, registration includes my Shrink it in 6ix program…

Even better, right now (and for a limited time), Robin is offering registrants the gift of nutrition.  Sign up to Warrior Restart and her gift to you is Shrink it in 6ix, my one-on-one program designed to reduce weight in a safe and sustainable manner and promote optimal health.  This program includes six private sessions and three weekly meal plans (a $600 value).  This is one appetizing add-on!  Find out more about Warrior Restart here and Shrink it in 6ix here.  Hola!

Eat anything you want. Just cook it yourself.

Toronto Holistic Nutritionist Laurie McPhail Eat anything you want. Just cook it yourself.With holiday feasting and 2018 coming to a close, thoughts inevitably turn to resolutions to be healthier and lose weight in the new year.

The plethora of diets out there (Paleo, Keto, Low FODMAP, Low Carb-High Fat, Low Fat-High Carb and more) can easily leave you calorie counting, confused and/or stressing over micro-managing your macronutrients (“gee, how many grams of fat, protein and carbs should I eat?“).

So let’s cut straight to today’s pearl of dietary wisdom, expressed so eloquently by New York Times bestselling author Michael Pollan and captured succinctly in this 3-minute video
Eat anything you want.  Just cook it yourself.  And I want to help.

As a member of The Nutritional Reset community, each month you will receive a day’s worth of delicious and nutritious recipes to inspire your home cooking – sign up here for free.  And then, go ahead… Eat anything you want.  Just cook it yourself. read more

Feast Festively without Piling on the Pounds

Toronto Holistic Nutritionist Laurie McPhailDid you know that the average North American gains 7 to 10 pounds during the holidays?  Fear not – you can feast festively without piling on the pounds!

Click here to join The Nutritional Reset community and I will email you Healthy Holiday Eating, a selection of holiday recipes which show that you can eat meals that are both healthy and delicious – not only at the holidays but all year round!

And read on for a few healthy eating strategies to make this holiday season your sveltest yet…

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Put some Spring in your step with essential oils!

Toronto Holistic Nutritionist Laurie McPhail

While the calendar may have long heralded the advent of Spring in Toronto where I practice, Mother Nature has not…brrrr!!!  By now, like most here, I am pretty tired of the relentlessly chilly temperatures!  And the fact that it has been dragging on so long has been, well, a drag.  So to lift my mood, I’ve turned to one of my favourite remedies, essential oils.

The uses of essential oils are many and miraculous in my opinion.  And I love diffusing them throughout my home.  Both my bedroom and living room host a diffuser – specifically this very sleek, hand-crafted black stone diffuser from Vancouver’s Vitruvi.  I also own pretty much their entire catalogue of essential oils so I’m ready for anything!  Being a science geek, I admit I was drawn to their bottle labels, which are styled after the periodic table.  The black glass bottles are both aesthetically pleasing and they are excellent at protecting the oils from light.  But what I love most about Vitruvi is their steady flow of creative ideas on how to use their oils, like this one… read more

Posture Perfect: Say Sayonara to Slouch Asana

First, a confession…forgive me, it has been over 2 months since I last blogged.  I have had the “too busy to blog blues”.  This has been due to some very good things.  I was in the UK for 2 weeks over Christmas visiting family.  And a few weeks after that I spent 11 glorious days in Bocas del Toro, Panama at the best yoga retreat ever at Bluff Beach Retreat, hosted by the irrespressible Christine Dennis of Prashanta Yoga (my “local”).  And throughout I’ve had the pleasure of doing custom consultations with some incredible women, creating plans to optimize their health and well-being.  Nothing gives me greater joy; it is why I became a holistic nutritionist.  But being too busy to blog has had its downsides too.  One is that Google is not very happy with me.  The other is that researching, creating educational handouts and designing diet, supplement and lifestyle protocols and custom meal plans requires me to spend a lot of time at my computer.  Enter “Slouch Asana”, as Christine so aptly named this poor posture.  We spent a lot of time at Bluff Beach working to counteract the effects of this pose.

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Get strong in the gym and slim in the kitchen (you can’t out-exercise a bad diet)!

Raise your hand if you want to lose a few extra pounds and have more energy.

Isn’t that what we all want?  And we think we can do it by hitting the gym a few days a week, don’t we?  Certainly, exercise is excellent for weight loss.  It boosts caloric expenditure and increases lean muscle mass which is more metabolically active and burns more calories, even at rest, than fat.

But you can’t out-exercise a bad diet.

 

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