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Tips for a Hot Bod

Toronto Holistic Nutritionist Laurie McPhail Tips for a Hot BodIf you’re expecting this post to reveal a raft of diet and exercise tips to give you the hot bod of a swimsuit model, then you’ll be disappointed. Besides, most of them are digitally altered anyway (at least it certainly makes me feel better to think that). What I’m really on about is what you can do when your bod gets too hot since, as I write this, the temperature outside is a sweltering 31 degrees Celsius.

Summer sizzles, so I thought some tips for healthy hydration and cooling off a hot bod would be a hot topic. Particularly for those of us also in hot flash territory. 😉 I was lucky enough to be at a cottage in the Ottawa Valley for a few days during this heatwave and jumping in a spring-fed lake did wonders for beating the heat! But if you aren’t near a cooling body of water, then what?

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Dishing It Up on Aging

Toronto Holistic Nutritionist Laurie McPhail Dishing It Up on Aging

My wedding anniversary is coming up next week and, wow, twenty years has just flown by. So yes, it’s true, time flies when you are having fun!  And it is also true that aging is an inevitable part of life.

But aging is also a process and, while it cannot be reversed, we can make choices that may help slow this process down. So this month I’m dishing it up on aging!

And just in case you were wondering, no, that is not me and my husband in the photo. He still has more hair than that. 😉

Dishing It Up on Aging

  • Is there a cure for ageing?
  • 7 Signs Your Nutrition Isn’t On Track
  • Avoiding late-night meals may have anti-aging benefits
  • Alcohol consumption patterns and unhealthy aging among older lifetime drinkers
  • The Queen’s secret to ageing gracefully

Read on for a bite-sized summary and links for each story …

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Better Your Balance

Toronto Holistic Nutritionist Laurie McPhail Better Your BalanceThere’s no denying that maintaining balance is important for health. And balance comes in many forms. All this week during my I’m Sweet Enough 7-Day No Sugar Added Challenge, I’ve been talking about blood sugar balance, for example. We know it’s important to have a balanced diet to provide our bodies with adequate nutrients to function optimally. The body itself spends much energy devoted to maintaining homeostasis, which is essentially a fancy scientific word for balance or stability in the face of changing conditions. When you exercise, it’s vital to balance your strenuous efforts with rest and recovery to truly reap the rewards. And finding the right balance between work and home life is key to health and happiness.

But there is one type of balance we often overlook. And that is balance in the more literal and physical sense. As in, how long can you stand on one foot without falling over? So let’s talk about why it’s so important to better your balance.

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Dishing It Up on New Year’s Resolutions

Toronto Holistic Nutritionist Laurie McPhail Dishing It Up on New Year's Resolutions

Here we are in February and so you’re likely wondering why I’m talking about New Year’s resolutions. That’s because by February most of us have given up on the New Year’s resolutions we made with such gusto in January. Consequently, the New Year New Me is no more. So here’s a chance to breathe new life into them. How? Paradoxically, by making them smaller.

You see, the reason we often fall short and give up is because our resolutions ask way too much of us. We set our bar too high. After all, if you’ve been a couch potato since the pandemic began, resolving to run 5K every day may doom you through overambition.

Instead, start smaller. Maybe commit to walking around the block each morning. This will make it easier to build a morning exercise habit because it isn’t asking too much of your time or effort. According to Dr. Brendon Stubbs, a physiotherapist and senior clinical lecturer at the King’s College London Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience, “if we start with smaller, more realistic changes in health habits we are much more likely to sustain them.”

So in this edition of Dishing It Up I offer four suggestions. These are smaller things you can do and/or changes in perspective that may bring you closer to your intended New Year’s resolutions for 2022. A Feb Four, if you will.

The first is to select a word that, like a mantra, guides your year. I chose equanimity. Oxford dictionary defines it as “mental calmness, composure, and evenness of temper, especially in a difficult situation.” I also like the Buddhist interpretation: “Neither a thought nor an emotion, it is rather the steady conscious realization of reality’s transience. It is the ground for wisdom and freedom and the protector of compassion and love.” It resonates with me in the midst of this pandemic where things aren’t quite as I’d like them to be and there isn’t a whole lot I can do about it.

I hope you find these suggestions helpful. Perhaps they will inspire your own ideas. It’s worth it to recalibrate your ambitions for 2022 rather than abandon them. When it comes to behaviour change, it’s the least you can do.  Because starting with the least will ultimately yield the most.

Dishing It Up on New Year’s Resolutions

  • 22 motivational words to propel you into 2022
  • Balance your body budget
  • Get outside in the morning light for 2 to 10 minutes
  • Make simple food swaps

Read on for a bite-sized summary and links for each suggestion …

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Ring in the New Year with Dry January

Classic Virgin SangriaThis may seem oxymoronic on what is traditionally a heavy drinking day but one of the best ways to ring in a happy and healthy new year is to stop drinking alcohol, or certainly to drink less.  Personally, I find it easier to not drink at all than to stop at one.  So, to use an apt holiday metaphor, I advocate quitting cold turkey* with Dry January.

We are most successful at making change where we can objectively measure improvement.  Declaring “I will drink less this year” will, in all likelihood, achieve nothing.  But if you give yourself an explicit goal and commit to tracking your alcohol consumption to see how you stack up, you will vastly improve your odds of success.  This is where Dry January comes in.

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It’s Never Too Late…to Exercise

Toronto Holistic Nutritionist Laurie McPhail It's Never Too Late to ExerciseSometimes I have to think hard to come up with topics for my blog posts.  Other times they come to me organically, through a confluence of events.  In this case, it was a movie, a comment from a friend, two books and my birthday bucket list item that led me to this one:  It’s Never Too Late…to Exercise.

The movie was Edie.  The comment from a friend was “I’m too old to start running”.  The books were The Happy Runner and Older, Faster, Stronger.  And my birthday bucket list item: run the Scotia Toronto Waterfront Half Marathon Virtual Race to fundraise for the Sunnybrook Foundation.  So, with that as my preamble, let’s delve into how these morphed into this post on why it’s never too late…to exercise.

 

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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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