Hiking Benefits

Hiking Blog

Hiking takes walking, as a healthy exercise, to the next level. Both are excellent cardio workouts, great for the cardiovascular system, the respiratory system, our bones, and our muscles. Each will lower our stress levels and is great to support any weight loss program. But hiking gives us the extra piece: it can improve our balance and increase our strength and endurance as we navigate the steep and/or bumpy trails. An old English term used for hiking was “hillwalking”. Walking poles can be included for balance or stability in order to provide additional security and safety.

 

Hiking uses muscles that are rarely used in the gym. It is also considered one of the best ways to burn fat – even that stubborn belly fat. This physical exercise promotes the release of endorphins – the hormones that make you happy.

 

Studies have found that exercise and cardio workouts benefit us – mind, body, and spirit. So why choose to walk outside or hike? For many, exercise can be tedious and boring. Something on our daily routine “have to” list. Not something that brings us pleasure. On a treadmill, an hour can feel like a very long time. So we manage to pass the time by watching TV, reading our emails, and/or talking on our cell phones. By doing this, we are being mindless. Our focus is entirely outside of ourselves. We are still working, still obsessing, still stressed. Being outside, on the other hand, on a hike, maneuvering the trails, time seems to fly by. It also adds the extra dimension of being in beauty. Surrounded by nature, we reduce our levels of anger and fear and increase our feelings of wellbeing.

 

Exercising at the gym or at home is usually a solitary act. Hiking with friends may turn this dull activity into a fun-filled experience. Connecting with friends in a natural setting, can involve opening ourselves up and even allow them to see our limitations, our stumbles, our vulnerability. It encourages us to share stories that we might otherwise keep hidden or have even forgotten. We may deepen some of these friendships, making them more meaningful. There is something very special about sharing this experience with others, making memories, and changing relationships. We may even get out of our egos and become ourselves.

 

Many have written about the benefits of hiking. Lao Tsu wrote, “The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” Ken Ilgunas: “On a hike, you’re less a job title, and more a human being.” “All truly great thoughts are conceived by walking.” – Friedrich Nietzsche. “Wilderness is not a luxury but a necessity of the human spirit, and as vital to our lives as water and good bread.” – Edward Abbey. “Me thinks that the moment my legs begin to move, my thoughts begin to flow.” – Henry David Thoreau.

 

Hiking, whether alone or with others, is a way of enjoying the beauty of nature while promoting mindfulness, as we remain closely aware of what is underfoot so as not to stumble or fall. Focusing on our surroundings and the possible dangers stops the monkey mind from regretting the past and worrying about the future, thereby lowering anxiety and improving our mood. Hiking is also a great way to unplug. Rarely do we see a hiker spending their time on the hills checking emails, texting, taking selfies, or tweeting.

 

Whichever you choose to engage in, whether walking or hiking, remember to dress accordingly, wear the proper footwear, and stay hydrated. Bring your water bottle and, of course, your phone, (just in case of an emergency)!

Gilda By Line11

Meditation

Meditation blog

Most of us have heard the expression, (also the title of a 1962 musical and song), “Stop the World, I want to get off!” During 2020 and into 2021, the world did stop but our minds did not. Our thoughts took us to some very scary places and created a different type of stress – one that filled us with anxiety, depression, fear, grief, and sadness. So, stopping the world, for many, was not the answer to helping us slow down and calming our minds.

 

How do we quiet our monkey minds, cut out the chatter, and become still? My favourite tool is Meditation. It is a way of focusing our attention inwards. Meditation can help us gain a greater self-knowledge; get in touch with our emotions; reduce chronic pain levels; live a fuller, richer life. As our awareness increases, we may become more compassionate and more open to each moment of our lives. For moments in time, we forget about our past regrets and our future fears and focus only on the here and now.

 

According to Edgar Cayce, “Prayer is like talking to God. Meditation is a way of listening to God.”

 

By connecting to the stillness within, we may truly discover our place and purpose in this vast Universe. We cease responding to “situations” or reacting to the words of others, we are simply being. We are no longer connecting to Ego, filled with anger and fear. Instead, we communicate with Spirit, taking an important step towards forgiveness, gratitude, and love. Our hearts open.

 

We become aware and are no longer anxious or worried. During these precious moments, we feel safe with no need to make decisions or plans. We are calm and at peace and, sometimes, we even feel a bubbling of joy. This joy comes from nowhere, connected to nothing, just emanating deeply from within.

 

This stillness even transcends our moments of meditation. Our lives change. We become more conscious and less reactive. We learn to ask for help to see things differently. We may even learn to stop and take a breath before responding to harsh words or uncomfortable situations.

 

Meditation can take many forms. It can vary from Transcendental Meditation, where you repeat an Ayurvedic mantra, to Mindful Meditation, which involves in being in the moment, aware of every sound or thought without reacting, to a basic meditation involving  repeating a word of your choice or simply watching the breath. Most forms of meditation are seated but there are also walking meditations, standing meditations, and eating meditations.

 

Meditation can be guided or silent or accompanied by soft music. It may be done in a group or by oneself. It is performed sitting in a comfortable position, on the floor or in a chair, usually with backs straight and knees bent. Lying down is not recommended because this often ends with falling asleep in the middle of the session. Eyes are usually shut but may remain open. It can be done anywhere and anytime as long as you are not driving a vehicle or using heavy machinery.

 

Meditation is an excellent way to begin and end each day, even if just for 15-20 minutes per session. For many, it changes how their day goes and deepens and improves their sleep.

 

How do you figure out which type of meditation to choose? Just choose a simple method and begin. One of the easiest methods is simply to focus on the breath. Breathing in on the count of four, holding the breath on the count of four, and breathing out on the count of four. Repeat. Or you can simply breath in for four and out for four.

 

Heart Math involves breathing directly into your heart for a count of 4 or 5 and out from your heart for the same number of counts. Feel the relaxation that follows. Feel the stress relief. Is your body sending you messages or guidance? Listen. Your Ego speaks very loudly but your Spirit and intuition speak softly. Feel the gratitude.

 

By meditating at the same time each day, you will develop this new habit. Find a time that works best for you and easiest to maintain. If not, you will probably forget to meditate for days, or even weeks, and eventually stop the practice completely.

 

Meditation is indeed a practice and the more we practise the better we become. The easier it is to go within. The deeper we go. The more benefits we discover. And yes, eventually, no matter what is happening around us, our bodies slow down and our mind is calmed.

Gilda By Line11

Pain

Pain blog image

Do you suffer from debilitating pain? Pain can sometimes be a gift, a message sent from the Central Nervous System to the Brain. It is the body’s way of letting us know that something is wrong, of protecting us from continuing to injure ourselves, making things worse, and, sometimes, telling us that it is time to see a health care professional. There is a TV commercial for a pain drug that says, “When the body says no, ‘……’ says yes.” But, in order to be safe, when the body’s wisdom tells us “no”, we should respond accordingly.

 

Pain after a cut, bite, fall, injury, or a medical procedure is short term and is referred to as acute. In these cases, inflammation is the body’s way of healing and repairing the injured tissue. But, if it continues longterm, even permanently, it is labeled as chronic. Chronic pain is often described as lasting many months after the injury or medical procedure has healed. In most of these cases, the primary origin is excess inflammation. The names given to many painful conditions end in “itis”, denoting inflammation. In the case of arthritis, it involves inflammation of the joints. Inflammation also increases when under stress.

 

Pain may be mild, moderate, severe, constant, occasional, sore, dull, throbbing, sharp, aching, pulsing, stabbing, annoying, uncomfortable, debilitating, or even unbearable. When seeing a doctor or a therapist, being able to identify the type and location of pain can help with the diagnosis and sometimes indicate a particular condition. Some people can point directly to the tiny spot where the pain is felt. Yet, for others, it is in the left shoulder, or in the head, or in the right knee. It may even be referred pain felt, for example, in the right hip and originating from the left side of the neck. Pain can impact our daily activities, work, emotional and psychological well-being, and social activities. 

 

For many, it is worse in the morning and is accompanied by stiffness. Lack of movement during the night can increase morning inflammation. A gentle morning exercise routine may help minimize this discomfort. Doctors used to recommend complete bedrest during painful periods, but this is no longer the case. For most types of chronic conditions, movement and increased blood flow has been seen to promote healing and reduce pain.

 

Waking with a sore neck may be due to poor a sleeping position or to the type of pillow being used. Also, sore backs, are often the result of poor posture. Try standing with your feet pointing straight ahead with a slight pelvic tilt, tummy tucked in, head comfortably forward, shoulders back. This is how to align the spinal chain properly with the joints stacked evenly, one above the other. Your weight will be evenly placed and you will no longer be compensating for a weak area by putting extra pressure on the healthy side. Use your muscles rather than your joints wherever possible.

 

Running shoes may be the best type of footwear, offering additional support, and resulting in a reduction in back pain. When bending, hinge at the hips instead of at the waist. Lift with your knees, never your back, and do not twist your body to reach for something that is off to the right or left. If sitting for hours at a desk or computer, ensure that you have a proper chair, that your arms are at a height that doesn’t put strain on your shoulders, and that you get up every half hour to move.

 

To minimize pain, naturally, deep breathing exercises, meditation, or relaxation techniques can be extremely helpful. One breathing exercise that can be done in bed each morning before rising involves lying down, eyes closed, one hand on your chest and the other on your stomach. Focus on the breath moving slowly, in through the nose and out through the nose. The count of four for each is comfortable for most. Feel the breath move in, through, and out of your body for even 10-15 minutes. This can be followed by gentle exercises, like bending your knees and moving your legs from one side to the other. Gently and comfortably, move and bend your arms and your legs.

 

There are also many safe physical exercises that result in increased blood flow which will help minimize pain. Some of these include Tai Chi, Qi Gong, and Feldenkrais. Stress reduction, 7-8 hours of sleep, and therapies such as massage, acupuncture, osteopathy, and myofascial release can also help tremendously in minimizing pain. Exercise programs that strengthen your abs and glutes, in a safe manner, are extremely helpful.

 

Magnesium is an important supplement that will relax the muscles and improve sleep. A daily vitamin D supplement will improve immunity and strengthen bones and muscles. Also, Boswelia, SAMe, MSM, and fish oil may help reduce chronic pain. Both turmeric, added to food or taken as a supplement, and tart cherry juice, combined with water as a drink one hour before bed, have anti-inflammatory properties.There are also homeopathic remedies that may reduce pain and inflammation including Arnica, Belladonna, Bryonia, Rhus tox, and Ruta. For these, the symptoms must match the remedy. Like cures like. So, please read about the remedy first.  And, also, there are essential oils like Lavender, Peppermint, Copaiba, and Pan Away applied to the body and/or diffused through the room which may promote muscle relaxation, restful sleep, and reduce pain. As CBD becomes legal, there will also be many ointments, creams, and oils on the market that can offer relief.

 

It is important to stay well hydrated, and to eliminate, or at least, reduce the consumption of coffee, alcohol, and tobacco. Remember to eat a nutritious, well-balanced diet, low in sugar, processed foods, hydrogenated fats, and carbonated drinks. All food that increase inflammation, like nightshades, will increase pain.

 

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Magnesium

Magnesium blog

 

 

BENEFITS:

Relaxes every muscle in your body – including the heart

Relief from Insomnia

Reduces anxiety, depression, stress, sadness

Necessary to get calcium into the bones

Regulates blood pressure

Supports Insulin metabolism

Blood vessel constriction – may prevent migraine headaches

Improves PMS symptoms

 

 

Magnesium, as a macromineral, is essential for the bones, muscles, heart, brain, the immune system and the nervous system.

 

Foods rich in magnesium include dark chocolate (64 mg/oz), avocado (58 mg), nuts (82 mg/oz), legumes, tofu, whole grains, fatty fish, leafy greens, bananas, and seeds. 1/4 cup of pumpkin seeds offer 307 mg and sunflower seeds, 129 mg.

 

As a supplement, in a capsule, Magnesium is taken to bowel tolerance. If you experience diarrhea, nausea, or cramping, back off by one. With calcium, the recommended dose is a 2:1 ratio of calcium to magnesium but for women, a 1:1 ratio or even a 1:2 ratio is often more beneficial, particularly for those experiencing PMS.

 

Magnesium can also be taken as a Tissue Cell Salt, small tablets that are dissolved in the mouth. Mag Phos 6X is excellent for muscle pain, restless leg, and, for some, as a sleep aid. The body uses what it needs and expels the rest without causing bowel disturbances.

 

Women have often been referred to as “mag wasters” meaning that they lose an unusual amount of magnesium throughout the day.  Magnesium loss is also experienced by Massage Therapists, both men and women, who often experience muscle cramps in their hands and fingers.

 

In our “Heart & Stroke – Women vs Men” webinar, we focus on how a woman’s heart differs in size, heart rate, and also the contrast in structure of the arteries and valves resulting in a substantial difference between the two sexes in terms of risks, symptoms, care, diagnosis, and treatment. We discuss how Magnesium helps to keep calcium in solution preventing it from precipitating out into artery walls which would result in the building of plaque. Also, how magnesium prevents Aluminum buildup in the body. Magnesium is essential for a healthy heart, maintaining a steady heartbeat and a normal blood pressure.

 

In our “Adrenal Fatigue” webinar, we discuss Adrenal burnout and exhaustion due primarily to stress, emotional, physical, and environmental. We discuss the importance of Magnesium, the inhibitory mineral for the Sympathetic Nervous System. Magnesium activates the parasympathetic nervous system which is instrumental in keeping you calm and relaxed.

Gilda By Line11

Kicking Sugar

NPP TIP Blog kick sugar1

Rarely do we experience obsessive cravings for chicken, broccoli, or green juice, so why sugar? It may be due to a habit, a blood sugar or hormone imbalance, poor sleep, stress, depression, anxiety, insufficient protein, nutrient deficiencies, food allergies, dehydration, or fatigue. Sugar can change your physiology. Giving into this craving or addiction can actually raise the dopamine levels in your brain, giving you a temporary feeling of well-being. A particular food may even trigger a pleasant memory, like the day your Dad took you for donuts to celebrate your fifth birthday. Continually giving into every sugar craving can foster an unhealthy relationship with food, leading to binge eating and a feeling of being out of control.

 

So, how do you kick your sugar cravings? Start your day with a high protein breakfast, followed by a protein at every meal. Increase your daily intake of healthy carbs, like vegetables, and decrease or, preferably, eliminate the starchy carbs, like white potatoes, pasta, and bread. Choose high fibre foods, like almonds, chia seeds, avocados, and berries, which will slow down the absorption of carbohydrates, therefore preventing blood sugar spikes. Stay hydrated throughout the day with 8-10 glasses of water. When the craving does rear its ugly head, drink a glass of water and then distract yourself. Try knitting, needlepoint, or a 1000 piece puzzle. Grab your sneakers and go for a walk. Sink into a warm, soothing bath, prepared by dissolving one or two cups of epsom salts and/or 4 or 5 drops of compatible essential oils. EFT tapping can work wonders to stop a craving in its tracks. My favourite instructional videos are by Jessica Ortner on YouTube. Or, if all else fails, take a nap.

 

Thinking about weaning slowly off sugar? This is rarely the solution. Kicking sugar is one issue that requires going cold turkey. Your first few days may see withdrawal symptoms, like headaches, anxiety, or irritability. Each of these symptoms may be accompanied by a strong craving for something sweet that is hard to resist. Take heart and persevere! The results will definitely be worth it. Remember, it takes 21 days to create a new habit although you should begin to feel better after 5 days. The cravings will diminish, the hunger will disappear, and your feelings of well-being will grow.

 

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Snowshoeing

NPP TIP Blog-snowshoeingWinter, in Canada, is a magical season but, generally, the streets and hills are covered with snow and ice. Walking, running, and even hiking are not as easy or as safe as they were during our other three seasons. So, how do we exercise and stay in shape out of doors during the winter months? We suggest Snowshoeing, originally used by Native Americans and European Explorers to forage for food and travel through deep snow for almost 4000 years, and even longer in Central Asia.

 

Snowshoeing, now seen as a recreational exercise, is a fun way to lose the calories that we generally pack on during the winter months. It is said to burn off anywhere between 420-1000 calories per hour. The colder the weather, the more energy we use; the taller the snow, the higher we lift our legs; thus, a great fat-burning, muscle-building exercise. Snowshoeing is a terrific low-impact aerobic exercise that is easy on the joints, healthy for the heart and the lungs, strengthening for the muscles, and great for improved balance and stability. If balance is an issue, poles can keep you upright and protect you from slipping.

 

This is also a wonderful way to dispel the winter blues. Being in nature is known to decrease depression and stress levels. Practising mindfulness, while walking along the snowy, beautiful terrain on a sunny day, will stop the monkey mind from taking you to the past, where you house your regrets, or into the future, worrying about what lies ahead. Good for all ages, including children and seniors, Snowshoeing is a safe and healthy way for us to get outside all winter long, burn calories, strengthen our glutes, quads, and our calves, unplug, relax, and simply have a lot of fun. Check out the many schools, recreational facilities, and resorts that offer snowshoeing lessons for beginners. If you can walk, you can snowshoe. Please remember to stay hydrated, so bring along your water bottle!

Gilda By Line11

Organic Chicken

NPP TIP Blog chicken soup

Organic Chicken Breasts are delicious – roasted, stir fried or as a soup. Chicken has become a staple dish for most non-vegetarians. It is one of the best sources of protein, necessary to build muscles and keep bones healthy. It is rich in minerals like phosphorus and calcium and also selenium which may cut the risk of arthritis. Containing tryptophan and B5, both having a calming effect on your body, Chicken can help relieve stress. With beneficial magnesium, it can also reduce PMS symptoms and muscle pain. It is rich in B Vitamins for heart health, particularly B6, helping to lower homocysteine levels and niacin helping to lower cholesterol. A great source of Omega 3, Chicken is low in saturated fat. The lowest fat content is found in the breast meat.

 

Why organic? If not, the chicken you are cooking may have been injected with antibiotics and/or hormones and grown with the use of toxic chemicals and pesticides. Organic chickens are also free range, meaning allowed to roam freely rather than crowded into cages, although free range does not necessarily indicate organic. Remember, we are what we eat!

 

A steaming bowl of chicken soup filled with vegetables and delicious chicken pieces has long been the secret health cure of mothers and grandmothers through the ages for colds, respiratory infections and flu and has often been referred to as “Jewish Penicillin”.

 

Years ago, I found a delicious recipe for an immune boosting Astragalus-Ginger Chicken Soup – my go to whenever I feel under the weather.

 

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. In a large pot, 1/3 filled with filtered water, toss in some sea salt, ground pepper, and a pinch of cayenne pepper.
  2. Heat the water just below boiling. Add two split organic chicken breasts, bone in but fat and skin removed.
  3. Add a 3″ piece of ginger, cut into strips.
  4. Slice and add
    • 4 carrots,
    • 4 celery stalks,
    • 1/2 onion,
    • 2 garlic cloves,
    • 6 shitake mushrooms, and
    • 6 slices of astragalus root
    • Cook on low heat for 30 minutes.
    • Pull off the leaves of a large bunch of kale and set them aside.
    • Chop up the kale stems and throw these into the soup.
    • Continue to cook for an additional 30 minutes and then add the kale leaves.

Continue cooking (not boiling) for 30-60 more minutes. I recommend only organic ingredients, where possible. Add the sliced chicken, vegetables, salt and pepper to taste, and the delicious hot broth to your favourite bowl and enjoy! Yummy and filled with nutrients.

 

Gilda By Line11

 

Human Connections

For a happier, healthier existence, it is essential that humans maintain relationships with family, friends, and community, particularly as they age. When this does not exist, there is an increase in loneliness leading to depression, anxiety, and mental conditions. This ultimately may lead to physical illness and dis-ease. Human interaction helps us cope with stress, difficult life events, and even lengthens our lifespan.

 

We now know that newborn infants are soothed, cry less, and sleep more peacefully after “skin-to-skin” contact with a loving human. Babies that are not touched or held, as those in an orphanage, do not thrive or grow in the same way and may even have a shorter life span. As they grow, toddlers develop social and life skills by modelling what they see .

 

Children learn much better in a classroom situation with a kind teacher, friends, and playmates than in virtual classrooms. They learn when it is time to laugh and make noise and have fun and when it is time to settle down and get to work. Recess is a time to play, relax the nervous system, regenerate, and renew. The classroom, no matter how crowded, is a wonderful place to learn cooperation, manners, the sharing of ideas, patience, rules, how to get along with others, including those from differing backgrounds, and respect for the property of others.

 

Seniors often experience a dramatic decline in human interaction due to the loss of friends through illness or death, a move to a nursing home, diminished eye sight or hearing, and/or a loss of mobility. They may no longer be able to drive their cars or easily visit with friends or neighbours. This is a definite precursor for loneliness, depression, and dementia. Having friends and family close by will keep them engaged, happy, and feeling like there is life yet to be lived. Living in a senior community can be a great solution for those that are still active. Being computer savvy can definitely be a blessing allowing them to stay in touch, share and save photos, be creative, and play games, despite a more sedentary lifestyle.

 

Around the beginning of the 21st Century, technology began to replace face to face connections for many addicted to their smart phones. Many chose to text, message, and email one another, while ignoring the people sitting right next to them, at the dinner table, at a restaurant, in their car, and even at a party. Others spent more time chatting with strangers on social media than with family and friends living close by. Studies indicate that obsessive users of cell phones may experience greater anxiety and depression.

 

Yet, as we navigate the “new normal” of 2020-21, we have found many creative ways of staying in touch without touching, even while social distancing, through the use of this technology. Online Book Clubs, Exercise Classes, Bridge and Canasta groups, Coffee Clutches, Meditation Workshops, Seminars, Webinars, Weekly family get togethers, Spiritual discussion groups, and more have sprouted where none existed virtually prior to March and have managed to keep us feeling connected.  Many of us have even figured out how to create a way of working online and, at the same time, staying in touch with fellow workers by email, text, ZOOM, and phone. In the short term, this has been a way to dispel the feelings of isolation during a pandemic.

 

But the question still remains. Can we survive on a permanent basis without face to face interactions, hugs, and time spent with the people who feed our souls? Is a virtual connection enough? Can we survive without other human beings to touch, hug, or connect with, physically and emotionally? We are, in fact, social beings, beginning from the moment we are born. Nothing can take the place of human connection and human touch. There is a wonderful quote by Archbishop Desmond Tutu, “My humanity is bound up in yours, for we can only be human together.”

 

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