Monthly Challenge # 3: Social Media Detox

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I have a confession. I am addicted to my phone, and all the excitement and anxiety that comes with it. I am guilty of scrolling social media, and getting lost down the rabbit hole of caring about people that I know I will never meet. I know I’m not alone, but that still doesn’t make it ok. 

In addition to being a complete waste of time, I was also noticing that I would reach for my phone while in the company of family and friends. As if that stranger on Instagram was more important than my loved ones in front of me. 

The other thing that I have been struggling with is my focus and concentration. I was starting to feel like a hamster, I would concentrate for a few minutes, and then feel like ‘there is something else that I need to be doing right now’, so of course I would check my phone for those addictive little notifications. My memory and retention were also going downhill, and it was quite frankly scaring me. 

I have tried various tactics to use my phone less, but none of them really stuck. So, I decided to take it on as a monthly challenge. I deleted all social media from my phone, and I also blocked the browsers on my phone so I can’t access them. I kept my accounts, and I can log-in on my computer if needed. I also kept Facebook "messenger" installed on my phone, since it is used for communication with friends, not mindless browsing. 

The Challenges?  Honestly none! 

I’m as shocked as you are. I think being able to keep social media on my computer has still allowed me to feel connected, but I am never inclined to go on my computer and scroll through Facebook the way I would on my phone. I will spend a couple of minutes on there before realizing that there are so many other things I would like to be doing. 

The Benefits? So many!

I am so much more at peace, and I will now go hours without even knowing where my phone is in the house. When I do log on to social media, I can’t understand how I would have spent so much time on there in the past. I actually feel like I have more hours in the day. How amazing is that!?

When I’m with friends, my phone is almost always tucked away now, and I am starting to feel much more present and mindful.

Instead of social media, I have installed various news sources, and the New York Times Crossword puzzles, to help keep my brain active instead of passive. My focus is starting to improve, and I’m hoping that over time I will continue to see benefits for my brain function. 

Pass it On..

After telling people about my monthly challenge, I was surprised to see how many people also started deleting their social media apps. It seems as if everyone wants to do it, but just needs an excuse to make that first step. 

Give it a try! You might actually create more hours in your day!

 

Next Month’s Challenge: Meditate every day for 30 days. 

This one is going to be really hard for me. As important as I think meditation is, I haven’t been able to make it a part of my routine..yet. Here’s to finally making that happen!

2018 Monthly Challenge # 2: No Spending!

My February challenge was to do a month without spending money on anything “non-essential”. I use quotations for that because there are still many non-essential things that I spend money on throughout the month that weren’t on the chopping block: cell phone, gym membership, gas, insurance, and unfortunately the list of monthly deductibles goes on.

But, when I look at my Visa bill, there are also a lot of sneaky expenses that I barely remember buying. I love shopping for clothes so this is a big one, and I also have a bad habit of getting a coffee to-go, and then going to the beach or going for a walk with my dog. My husband and I also eat dinner out far too often (which will be the topic for another monthly challenge). Other typical expenses are books, and gifts for loved ones.

So, for one month I challenged myself to delay any of these non-essential purchases. Anything at the grocery store was allowed, and I could enjoy a coffee or tea out of the house, but I would have to sit down at the coffee shop to enjoy it in a mug. In doing so, I am making an effort to replace expenses with experiences.

 

The result? 

I realized that I actually don’t need to buy anything at all right now. Shopping was something that I would easily do to fill an afternoon, so I just tried to replace it with other activities that would provide longer-lasting benefits like going to the gym, or going for a hike.

In the past, if I wanted something, I would usually just buy it. This challenge delayed that initial impulse, and by the end of the month I had already forgotten what it was I wanted to buy, which further highlights the fact that I really don’t NEED to buy anything.

To-go coffees are no longer a habit of mine, and I have realized they don’t taste nearly as good as the coffee I make at home!
 

Did I slip up?
 

Yes! Of course. I downloaded a new book on my Kindle without thinking about it, and I forgot my sunglasses on a weekend trip to the Sunshine Coast so I bought a pair. In keeping with trying to spend less money, I bought the replacement pair at a gas station, and I actually love them!

Overall, I would say this was a really good challenge for me, and has changed the way I look at spending. I will continue to think before buying, and avoid wasteful spending. 

Next Month's Challenge: Deleting Social Media from my phone.

I am not deleting my accounts, so I can still access them on my computer, but my habit of scrolling on my phone mindlessly is something that really needs to change, so stay tuned..

2018 Monthly Challenge #1

I'm approaching 2018 a little differently this year. Every month I'm giving myself a new health challenge to do every day. My hope is that at the end of the month, I've created somewhat of a habit, and I have a chance to see if this new behaviour is something that works for me, or doesn't.

I've identified 6 or 7 habits that I would like to focus on for 2018 - everything from diet to sleep, meditation, time management, budget etc. I'll be reporting on each month as they go - the challenges and the rewards. 

As with many people, my first health challenge for the month of January was to abstain from alcohol. After December celebrations, this seemed like a good, and relatively easy, place to start. I typically reserve wine for the weekends anyway, so this felt really achievable. 

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Rewards:

  1. My sleep has improved, and I wake up on the weekends feeling refreshed, and relaxed (Drinking interferes with your ability to get restorative sleep, and can also lead to rebound anxiety or depression the next day).  
  2. I have made a lot more use of my weekends because I'm up early and ready to go skiing, touring, hiking, you name it! It also leaves me much more rested and recharged for Monday morning. 
  3. My husband and I have had a lot more time to connect with each other.
  4. We saved money, which is always a bonus!

Challenges:

  1. A lot of my social engagements involve alcohol, so it has given us a chance to think of new activities to do with friends like rainy day walks, night-time hikes and bonfires and skiing. That being said, we have felt less social, so this is area that is still a work in progress.
  2. Peer pressure still exists!

All in all,  I haven't missed that glass of wine nearly as much as I thought, so this will definitely be something I continue to re-visit throughout 2018.

Next month's challenge: No-Spend February.

I'm allowing myself to buy anything from the grocery store, but no take-away coffees, no clothes, jewelry, skin care or house accessories. This seems like an easy one now, but I'm sure it will become challenging as the month goes on. I'm looking forward to having it change the way I approach spending and the instant gratification that it brings. 

 

Small Steps, Big Changes.

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Even though we know that New Years Resolutions are almost always ignored by the end of January, we still start the New Year with the hope that "this year will be the year where I finally... (lose 30 pounds, eat healthier, exercise more, insert other lifelong health goal here)

The problem with these "resolutions" is that they are lofty goals without a realistic plan in place, and rely heavily on motivation, which easily wanes by mid-January. And then when we don't stick with our resolution, we feel like we have failed so we beat ourselves up, and lose self esteem. 

Instead, think about creating small daily habits. These may seem insignificant, but over time these behaviours will lead to healthy long-term habits. These daily goals need to be "too small to fail", so that you can continue to build self esteem and confidence. 

For example, if your goal is to "get fit", commit to doing 1 push up a day. It may seem like nothing, but often that one push up will inspire you to do a few more push ups, or hold a plank when you're done. 

Record your progress every day. Some days you might do more than 1 push up, but at the very least you will have accomplished your goal. Remember, the most challenging part is just starting.

Choose 1 or 2 mini habits to make your 2018 your best yet. 

Some ideas for cultivating daily mini habits:

  1. Do 1 push-up, or sit-up.
  2. Read 2 pages in a book. 
  3. Write down or think about 1 thing you are grateful for
  4. Meditate, or practice breathing, for 1 minute . 
  5. Drink 1 large glass of water
  6. Have 1 serving of fresh vegetables every day 
  7. Spend 1 minute learning a new word in a different language
  8. Stretch 1 body part
  9. Cook 1 meal at home per day
  10. Floss one tooth. 

 

"Be the person with embarrassing goals and impressive results, instead of the person with impressive goals and embarrassing results."
- Stephen Guise.  
 

Why being “fine” isn’t good enough

Lab results may not flag a problem, however the numbers can reveal a lot about your health, and can mean the difference between feeling fine, and feeling optimally healthy.

Whenever I see a new patient, I always recommend they bring in a copy of their most updated bloodwork, or, if it has been a while, I might suggest they get new bloodwork done.

Why do I insist on actually seeing a copy, instead of accepting “My Doctor tested everything, and it was all fine”? Well, 2 main reasons.

Balancing Your Hormones, Part 1: Cortisol

We have all been there – a stressful day at work, a bad breakup or a frustrating argument with a friend. All of a sudden it seems we want to indulge in all the foods we try our best to avoid – ice cream, chocolate, pizza. The craving for sugar and fats seems to be one of the many responses to elevated levels of cortisol in our body.

Eat This, Not That.

Nobody likes feeling deprived, especially when it comes to food.

Restricting your diet has been shown to actually increase your cravings and the chances of overeating, and lead to more weight gain.

Instead of  completely removing all your favourite foods, try swapping them instead for healthier options. You’ll likely end up loving the substitutions!

Kick your Sugar Cravings!

Sugar addiction is very real, and with sugar being added to most food products, it is becoming nearly impossible to avoid. The numbers are alarming - on average Canadians consume 110g of sugar per person each day, and children aged 1-3 derive 27% of their calories from sugar! (Statistics Canada).  Sugar and high glycemic foods trigger your brains pleasure centre, which makes you feel good and drive you to seek more of that feeling. 

Avoid Holiday Weight Gain

Avoid Holiday Weight Gain

The holidays are a wonderful opportunity to spend time with family and friends, and indulge in some holiday cheer, but it can also be the time we put on a few extra pounds. 
 
The New England Journal of Medicine reported that the average holiday weight gain is 1 pound, and 5 pounds for people that are already overweight. This doesn’t seem like much but unfortunately, we don’t end up losing that weight later in the year, so the pounds can start to stack up.

Tired, Overweight and Feeling Sluggish? Why your undiagnosed thyroid condition could be to blame

Fatigue, weight gain, constipation, depression, menstrual irregularities, dry skin. Do these symptoms feel familiar to you? They are all signs of hypothyroidism, or a low functioning thyroid gland. An estimated 1 in 10 Canadians are expected to have a thyroid condition, but the diagnosis is often missed - as many as 50% of those people remain undiagnosed! Fortunately, Naturopathic Doctors are really knowledgeable about how to diagnose and treat thyroid conditions to get you feeling better. 

Your guide to the elimination diet

Your guide to the elimination diet

The first time I heard about someone doing the elimination diet was about 10 years ago and I was shocked. “You are going to starve!” “What is there left to eat?” Now, as a Naturopathic Doctor, it is something I recommend often, but I’m sure some of my patients have the exact same reaction. After having done several elimination diets myself, I now look at this diet as a great opportunity to learn more about your body, and the food you eat, while often helping to solve those pesky symptoms that never seem to get better.

Why Should I see a Naturopathic Doctor?

Why Should I see a Naturopathic Doctor?

Naturopathic Doctors have a unique philosophy regarding healthcare. We are focused on treating the root cause of disease when possible, and not only masking the symptoms. Although sometimes it is important to treat the symptoms, such as pain, we do so while at the same time trying to understand the reason the pain exists in the first place.

The Perfect Diet?

There are so many diets out there – vegan, vegetarian, macrobiotic, paleo, primal, Mediterranean – the list goes on. But which one is the best? Your best friend swears that the paleo diet changed her life - she lost 50 pounds and her skin cleared up, but when you try it – nothing! Well that’s because diets and food choices need to be individualized! 

Thinking about having a baby? 7 things your ND wants you to know

Thinking about having a baby? 7 things your ND wants you to know

So you have decided that you would like to have a baby! Congratulations! You feel mentally prepared to take this next big step, and you have space and time to accommodate a little one into your life. Now is the time to start on a pre-conception plan to optimize your chances of conceiving, and having a successful pregnancy.

Stop sneezing your way through Spring!

Spring has sprung! The flowers are blooming and trees are budding -it’s time to go play outside in the fresh grass! But for allergy sufferers, spring means staying indoors to manage the sneezing, runny nose, itchy throat and watery eyes that accompany this warmer weather. If this sounds like you, take steps this Spring to help manage your allergies and enjoy the outdoors.

5 Ways Naturopathic Doctors Approach Weight Loss Differently

5 Ways Naturopathic Doctors Approach Weight Loss Differently

The type of food you eat and exercise you do is critical to weight loss, but equally important is how your body is functioning. Lasting weight loss is not about adopting "the" diet, or the best "fat-burning" workout, and in fact most people that abide by strict diets often put the weight right back on. Weight loss is often seen as a battle, or a struggle, but it doesn't have to be.  

Protect Your Heart this Valentines Day

Protect Your Heart this Valentines Day

This post isn't very romantic, but it sure is important! This is all about cholesterol. The discussions around cholesterol have been more than a little confusing in the past 20 years. Entire categories of food such as saturated fats and eggs have been demonized because of their high cholesterol content. Millions of Canadians are being diagnosed with high cholesterol levels, told to follow a low fat diet, and put on medication, but what does that really mean for you and your overall health?