Posts Tagged ‘new year’

Not So Sweet

Monday, January 23rd, 2017

Sugar 300x212 Not So Sweet

As we begin the New Year, many of us may have made resolutions to improve our health – whether it was to eat a healthier diet, get more regular exercise, or lose some excess weight.

Perhaps one of the best things we could all do to improve our health would be to go through our kitchen pantry and look for an ingredient hidden in many of our foods without us even realizing it – sugar.

In Traditional Chinese Medicine, the sweet flavour is understood to help support the Spleen-Pancreas system including digestion, mental focus, and muscle tone.

In ancient times, these nourishing sweet foods took the form of unrefined whole foods such as grains, legumes, root vegetables, and fruit. However, in modern society too much of our food is highly processed and contains various forms of refined sugar which can have completely different effects on our bodies than their whole food counterparts.

A recent article looking at the health effects of sugar cited a study of common everyday food items revealing that more than 2/3 of them contain added refined sugar and that serious chronic health conditions including obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and cancer are all linked to sugar. Emotional symptoms such as mood swings, irritability, brain fog, and difficulty focusing can also be a result of excess sugar in the diet.

Because sugar can be so addictive, not only on a physical level but also as a temporary emotional comfort, it can be very difficult trying to remove it from our diet. However, small steps can be taken to reduce our refined sugar intake and help to improve our health.

  1. Read those labels – Sugar takes different forms and may be referred to by many other names, including sucrose, glucose, fructose, and corn syrup. The majority of prepared or packaged foods contain some type of added sugar, so careful label reading and comparison shopping can help us make better food choices.
  2. Use healthier sweeteners – Less refined sweeteners such as rice syrup, maple syrup, barley malt, molasses, and dates can provide a healthier alternative to refined sugar to help satisfy a sweet tooth but should still be only used in small quantities. It may take some time to get used to their less sweet flavour but eventually the sense of taste will adapt. Note: The use of artificial sweeteners such as aspartame is associated with its own set of health problems so is best avoided.
  3. Gradual change – Eating more plant-based foods that contain a good balance of complex carbohydrates and protein including chickpeas and black beans, as well as the yellow and orange coloured vegetables such as carrots, yams, and squash can help reduce the cravings when sugar consumption is reduced. Even when it’s difficult to completely stay away from sugar in our diet, it’s good to remember that overindulgence doesn’t have to be permanent and that we can choose to start back up again with healthier eating habits.

Connecting Your Head and Heart – Creating Lasting Change

Saturday, January 11th, 2014

The following is a guest blog article by Shirley Garrett and Dr. Owen Garrett, Reg’d Psychologist, of Leaps & Bounds Fitness

For many of us, making a resolution is an annual rite of passage that marks our entry into the New Year with a fresh start and a clear point of departure from the past – for a few days and weeks, there is hope that this is the year our resolutions will produce a lasting change.

Alas, for about 80% of us, whatever changes we’ve embarked upon will start to fade and be absorbed back into the old routines within weeks of the New Year. Getting started is not the hardest part to making a change – it is staying the course.

Setting Goals 300x199 Connecting Your Head and Heart   Creating Lasting Change

Here’s one thing to think about that may help you stay the course with achieving your resolutions: it starts with considering what’s in your head and your heart. What is meant here is that it’s important to identify and construct the motivation for your change in terms of Rationality and Logic (i.e. your head) and equally, in terms of Emotion and Desire (i.e. your heart). For lasting change, you must have both.

For example, if your goal is to lose weight, your logical and rational mind might tell you that losing weight is good because it will reduce your risk of developing Type II Diabetes as well as reduce the risk of having a heart attack. Those are great reasons and there’s plenty of medical research to demonstrate that loss of weight will reduce these health risks. However, if information was all that was needed for lasting behaviour change, we would all be on the road to immortality by considering how much health information we’re exposed to!

In other words, the rational mind is great for alerting us to what we should do, but information itself doesn’t give us the “oomph” to make the change and stick with it. For that, we need to challenge ourselves on a more emotional level. We need to give ourselves time to carefully answer questions like:

  • How would my life be different if I lost weight?
  • Would I have more energy? Sleep better?
  • If I lost weight, would I feel better? How meaningful would that be to me?
  • Would I feel better about myself? Have more confidence and a better self-image?

Important tip: It’s far more powerful to write down your answers to these questions rather than to just think about them.

The neuroscience of behaviour change tells us that while knowledge and intellect can point us in the right direction, it’s our emotional attachment to the change that provides the drive and energy necessary to maintain that change.

The bottom line is that we need to involve both our head and heart in order to make the commitment to change that remains durable in the face of the inevitable bumps in the road that would otherwise derail even the best of our intentions.

Happy New Year!

For more information about creating lasting change and achieving your health and fitness goals, you can contact Shirley and Owen Garrett at Leaps & Bounds Fitness

Pathway to Health

Tuesday, January 15th, 2013

“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”

Lao Tzu

Most of us begin the New Year with best of intentions for our health – just ask anyone who works at a fitness gym and they will probably tell you that January is one of their busiest months as people attempt to follow their New Year’s resolutions and get into shape. Unfortunately, after a month or two the gym usually clears out and it’s back to just the regulars training again.

It can be difficult to set goals or resolutions and see them through to completion. However, the Eastern approach to things can be useful in helping us along the way.

For instance, it is insightful to note that many of the names for traditional Japanese arts end with the suffix “do”, e.g. Bu-do (martial arts), Cha-do (tea ceremony), or Sho-do (calligraphy).

Do Kanji Pathway to Health

Japanese Kanji for "Do" - Pathway

This word “Do” (Dao in Chinese) represents a pathway or journey and typifies the attitude and approach taken when training in these arts – rather than just learning simple acts of self-defense, making tea, or beautiful writing, these practices are a lifelong journey of development and refinement for the practitioner.

Some of these ideas can be useful when applied to our own journey towards improving our health.

  1. The small steps are important – although drastic action or big changes are sometimes needed along our journey, most of the time it’s usually just about putting one foot in front of the other. It’s all of the small seemingly insignificant choices and actions that we make day-to-day that add up over the years. Starting with small but consistent actions can create lasting changes for improving our health.
  2. Progress is not steady – when training in traditional arts, as in life, sometimes it feels like we’re making good progress and reaching our goals, other times it can seem like we’ve reached a plateau or even going downhill. This is to be expected, since life is about constant change, but if we keep moving forward one small step at a time, progress is being made whether it feels like it or not.
  3. The journey is for life – in contrast to some sports where full intensity is always applied, leading to frequent injuries, long recovery times, and decreased performance with ageing, training in traditional martial arts such as KoKoDo JuJutsu is conducted at a certain intensity level so that practice can be done every day for life, injuries are minimized, and practitioners can keep training and improving well into their senior years. In a similar manner, positive changes, no matter how small, should be a lifelong daily discipline. For example, crash or fad diets usually don’t work in the long run, since diets by their very nature tend to be temporary. However, by committing to simple lifestyle changes such as more whole foods and minimizing processed foods, better and long lasting results can often be obtained.

As we continue our journey along the pathway to good health, wishing you the best as we step into the New Year!

New Beginnings

Sunday, January 1st, 2012
DesertFathersNewBeginning 229x300 New Beginnings

Desert Wisdom: Sayings From The Desert Fathers - Translation & Art by Yushi Nomura

Health, like life in general, is a journey, a process of constant change. Sometimes we have ups, sometimes downs, sometimes moving forwards, sometimes backwards.

Many of us start out the New Year with good intentions for making positive changes in our lives. Unfortunately, all too often this does not last for long. Establishing healthy habits takes practice and effort, and usually involves some failures along the way.

However, one of the important success factors for staying on track is to focus on the present moment. Yesterday is over and done with, tomorrow is just another excuse to procrastinate - only today are we able to take action.

Each new day, we’re given another chance to start over again; every day is an opportunity to make a fresh beginning.

Healthy Habits

Tuesday, January 19th, 2010

As a New Year begins, many of us tend to make resolutions for ourselves, whether it’s losing weight, getting in better shape, or improving our overall health.

Unfortunately, most resolutions – however good-intentioned they may begin – don’t seem to last for very long. Our modern society, with a focus on quick fixes, immediate results, and instant gratification, makes it easy to fall back into old habits and patterns.

In the East, a different approach to self-improvement is taken. In fact, much could actually be learned from the Japanese manufacturing field where they used a concept known as kaizen to become world leaders in the automotive and electronics industries. (more…)