• 15-03-2018

    Spring cleaning your health goals

    January is a promising month, isn’t it? We check out of reality before Christmas and indulge, indulge, indulge during December, while looking forward to the new year the whole time. We know we have a fresh start when we switch out the calendar, and that extra reassurance gives us the confidence we need to jot down all the changes we will make to live healthier, happier lives. Whether you wrote down your thoughts secretly in a journal, shared them with an online accountability group or declared them to your loved ones on New Year’s Eve, there was something magical about anticipating the best year ever.

    And then came January. You fought in frustration for a parking spot at the gym (where did all these people come from?), made a meal plan the first week but by Wednesday realized you didn’t have enough ingredients, and signed up for a language class only to feel stressed out by this extra commitment in your daytimer. And on it goes.

    Did you know that 92% of people who make New Year’s resolutions break them within weeks? https://www.forbes.com/sites/dandiamond/2013/01/01/just-8-of-people-achieve-their-new-years-resolutions-heres-how-they-did-it/#71dba3e4596b So, if you’re on the brink of abandoning yours at this point in February, you are there with a lot of other people. But crumpling up your page of resolutions isn’t something to be ashamed of. The problem isn’t you but likely the types of goals you are setting! Before you throw in the towel, hit the reset button and be smart about it. Make sure the goals you set are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-based. Apply each term to your goals, and read my tried-and-true tips below for a greater chance of success this year.

    Specific – Know exactly what you would like to achieve. Be specific when you describe it. For example, “I want to be stronger” becomes “I want to increase the weights I lift by 5 lb every 8 weeks for the next 12 months by training 3 days a week (Mon, Wed, Fri) with my trainer. I will re-evaluate this goal after 6 months.”

    Measurable – How will you know you have achieved this goal? In the above example, there is a clear outcome. If you are lifting 30 pounds more by the end of the year, then you have achieved this goal.

    Attainable – If you were to implement this goal, what is the cost to you? Do you have to sacrifice too much? Is it too much of a leap from where you are right now? It’s not a bad thing to aim high because as you work toward that goal, you will moving forward from where you are right now and therefore, still ahead of the game at the end of the year. But, being too far away from the end goal can be discouraging.

    Relevant – Is this what you actually want? Is this really important to you in YOUR life? Just because ‘reading more’ is on the list of Top New Year’s Resolutions of 2018  https://www.statista.com/chart/12386/the-most-common-new-years-resolutions-for-2018/, it doesn’t mean it’s for you. Before coming up with resolutions, come up with a list of your values and then choose goals that suit you.

    Time-based – Set a realistic timeline for when you want to accomplish each goal and sub-goal. This spurs action. However, the emphasis here is on ‘realistic.’ Setting a timeline that is stressful can negate any of the positive outcomes you want to see. The whole idea is to make your year more enjoyable, healthy, and prosperous. Give yourself a deadline but also enough time.

    5 Tips For Greater Success In Achieving New Year’s Resolutions

    Replace habits, don’t eliminate. Instead of cold-turkey quitting potato chips, replace them with something healthier that satisfies your crunch cravings. Like almonds or roasted chickpeas. This also helps you navigate social settings where there might not be a healthier option. Having a few potato chips at a party is no big deal if you have replaced them in all the places you can control, like your kitchen pantry.

    Remember your WHY. Coming back to your ‘why’ in your moments of doubt or deflation can be the thing that sets you back on track. Are you working toward better health so you can enjoy watching your kids grow up? Put a nice family picture up near your treadmill at home. A visual reminder can sometimes be more effective than a mantra or vision in your head. But decide what works to help you remember your why.

    Find support. Perhaps it’s an online community, family members, friends or colleagues. Find sources of support that you can check in with or who will check in with you as you journey toward your goal. Better yet, enlist them to join you and be in accountability partnership!

    Stay accountable to yourself. Keep track via apps, a diary or a chart to track your progress. I find that those who monitor their own behaviour ultimately do a better job of sticking to their initial plan.

    Choose 1 or 2, not 10. Limit the number of goals you set so that you give yourself enough time to make progress. Successfully modifying even 1 or 2 areas of your life can have a positive effect on other areas. Your quality of life can change with just a couple simple moves in the right direction.

    Yes, January is a fresh start. But really, so is today. If your resolutions aren’t coming together for you, today is a great day to sit down and figure out why. Use the smart method and the above tips to really nail your goals this year. Good luck and may 2018 be your best year yet!

    • 05-03-2018

    Food Sensitivity with Dr. Allana Polo

    I'm going to start this off by saying that what works for me, may not work for you, and it's best to work with a certified naturopath if you want optimal results with your overall health. Most of the procedures at Polo Health are covered by extended health if you have insurance!

    Although I've done a food sensitivity test years ago a lot has changed since then (I'm no longer a Paleo Crossfit Competitor for one) and I knew it was time to visit Dr.Allana Polo again for another check on my digestion. The thing about food allergies is that they don't always present themselves as a typical "rash" or visible inflammation. I noticed my food allergies presenting on my skin. 

    Skin is the largest organ and the toxins created by my inability to digest certain foods were unable to escape and cleanse my body properly. I noticed severe acne to the point that it physically hurt to touch my skin. I saw dermatologists and specialists, but I neglected to look within. I tried all the expensive lotions but I had to look at what was going on inside my body to properly take care of myself. 

    There are two ways you can determine what foods you may be sensitive to. One way is the Food Sensitivity test. It's a simple test where Dr.Polo pricks your finger, collects a small amount of blood, sends it away, and results are back in 7 days. Your blood is then tested against 120 of the most common allergens. 

    The second way is an "Elimination Diet", which is exactly as it sounds. You eliminate all foods that are known to cause issues in our digestion, then you reintroduce them one at a time for a duration of three days to see how you feel. 

    Whichever route you go, the most important part of the equation is that you're committed. That's the only way to achieve results with either of these options. Success meaning that you're feeling your absolute best. Digestive issues can present themselves as headaches, skin problems, gas, bloating and more. 

    Another tip I learned after my visit with Dr.Polo is that you can develop digestion issues if you keep eating the same food over and over again. A huge crutch for people who are heavily involved in the fitness industry is to meal prep, creating the same meal every day. Maybe your taste buds aren't getting bored, but your digestive track sure is. Make sure you keep things interesting when cooking for yourself or you may find that your "go to" meal is now making you feel sick your body isn't absorbing the nutrients it needs to. 

    The two most common procedures that Dr.Polo does at Polo Health is the Food Sensitivity test and hormone testing. Click HERE to book an appointment with Dr.Polo. I have a few more appointments lined up with Dr.Polo and I'll keep you posted on my journey. I'm looking forward to showing how you can let food by thy medicine. 

    Health is Happiness!
    Mandy Gill


    • 15-07-2015

    How Stress Causes Weight Gain

    By Francesca Tomas

    Have you been trying to lose weight but you just aren’t seeing any results?

    This may be because of a culprit called stress. If your life is full of stress, your body is responding by cranking up your stress hormone cortisol. Cortisol can undo all of your weight loss efforts. It increases your appetite and cravings, it causes you to lose muscle mass, impacts your sex drive, and your bone density. It also can contribute to depression and memory loss. What's the take home message? Chronic stress makes you soft, flabby, and old before your time.

    Can you actually see the effects of cortisol? Yes, take a look at your waist. Cortisol causes abdominal fat – even in people who are usually thin. The link between cortisol and increased storage of abdominal fat has been confirmed by science.

    Extra belly fat is not just a bad fashion statement. It slows your metabolism and increases your risk for heart disease and cancer.

    The good news is that the answer to this problem is easy and it costs you nothing.

    Make A Commitment Today to Begin One or More of These Proven Daily Relaxation Techniques

    If you practice at least one of these techniques daily, you will begin to shift your body from the stress response to the relaxation response. When you do, your cortisol levels will drop and your body’s self-repair mechanisms get back to work healing you. You'll be able to say goodbye to abdominal fat.

    Set Up A Healthy Sleep Schedule

    Decide on a bedtime that will guarantee you will sleep 7.5 to 9 hours per night. Sleep deprivation makes us wake up with higher amounts of cortisol. Cortisol fuels appetite and increases our cravings, particularly for refined sugar and carb-laden treats, even when we've eaten enough. Poor sleep packs on the pounds.

    Researchers at the Stanford School of Medicine found that subjects who slept only five hours per night experienced an increase in their Body Mass Index regardless of diet and exercise. Good sleep actually helps you to lose weight by influencing the hormones that control your appetite and increase your metabolism. Sleep boosts leptin, the hormone that tells you it's time to stop eating.

    Laugh More

    Laughter and humor increase the release of your feel good hormones – endorphins and dopamine. Laughing increases relaxation and reduces pain, stress, and depression. Think of what tickles your funny bone and plan to see it, do it, or read it.

    Play with Animals

    Getting up close and personal with your pets releases your oxytocin, endorphins, and other healing hormones that support your body’s healing mechanisms. This is why pet therapy is so effective, both mentally and physically. It's now been proven to have the same positive effect on our pets. Pet your kitty or brush your dog every day to lower your cortisol dramatically. 

    Move Your Body

    Exercise is a powerful, well-studied way to burn off stress chemicals and heal the mind, so commit to the exercise you can stick with. A good workout has been proven to be better than or equal to prescription meds for treating depression. If you have physical issues that prevent you from vigorous exercise, you're not off the hook. Other powerful stress busters include body massage, yoga, meditation, and guided imagery.

    Optimize Your Nutrition

    Commit to a healthy diet. Make a list to take with you when you buy groceries. Avoid junk food, refined sugar and carbs, and fast food. Eat regularly to avoid the short-term stress of starvation on your body.

    Express Yourself Creatively

    Creative expression releases endorphins, improves your immune function, relieves physical pain and depression. It also lowers your cortisol, your heart rate, and your blood pressure, and slows your breathing down.

    Have a Healthy Sexual Relationship

    Those with healthy sex lives have lower cortisol levels. They also tend to live longer, have lower risk of health problems, look younger, have higher fitness and less pain, and enjoy an improved quality of life.

    Strengthen Your Social Network

    Connect with others by taking a class, joining a support group or an organization. Research suggests that having friends and a social network is more important to a healthy lifestyle than quitting smoking or starting to exercise. Joining a group is an easy first step to reduce your stress.

    Try to Resolve Stressful Situations 

    Don't let stressful situations continue on and on. This includes present dilemmas and remnants from your past. Decide to let go of grudges and past conflicts even if you were wronged. Forgiveness is a powerful stress reliever. 

    Practice Gratefulness

    Keep a gratefulness journal and use it every day. Write down three things you're grateful for in your life. Research has now shown this simple practice can reduce your cortisol by 23%.  

    These are a few ideas to get you started.  I hope you commit to practice one or more of these to ramp up your health and to accelerate your weight loss. 

    If you think one-to-one counseling might help you to transition to a less stressful lifestyle, I invite you to have a counselling session with me.

    Contact me anytime:


    604-544-7657 or 604-314-8063

    Also by Francesca: Are you an emotional eater?

    9 Ways to Reduce Stress



    Photo Copyright: rostislavsedlacek / 123RF Stock Photo

    • 08-07-2015

    3 Embarrassing Summertime Problems

    As health professionals, we've heard it all. There isn't a question that hasn't been asked, or a way you can make us feel squeamish. There is no reason to be embarrassed to come with all of your questions, about chafing, gas and all perfectly normal bodily processes.

    Dr. Allana Polo shared a post on Huffington Post recently that features solutions to three common (and often embarrassing) summertime problems. Be sure to check out her tips for dealing with gas, chafing and foot odour.

    Read: How to Manage 3 Embarrassing Summertime Problems



    Photo Copyright: jannoon028 / 123RF Stock Photo

    • 29-06-2015

    Now on the Huffington Post: Secrets to Glowing Skin

    Welcome to summer! And to the renewed opportunity to embrace healthy eating, an active lifestyle, and healthy glowing skin. Not quite sure how to get that glow? Allana is sharing tips for summer skin care over at Huffington Post Living. It is her first submission there, but stay tuned for more great articles featured on the Huffington Post.

    Find out how to care for your skin this summer and achieve that glow! Read the post.

    Photo Copyright: rido / 123RF Stock Photo

    • 28-04-2015

    How to Get Rid of Foot Odour

    by Dr. Allana Polo, ND

    Mother Nature is turning up the heat here in New Westminster, BC and with the warmer weather comes sandal season. Baring your toes, and getting sweaty under the sun, also means that a certain something else can surface … embarrassing foot odour. This topic came up recently when a patient asked me this question,

    My son has the worst foot odour I have ever experienced! What can we do to help keep his feet, stuck inside runners all day, smelling a little bit sweeter?

    I shared the following prescription with this hopeful mom, and I know it can work for you too. Get rid of foot odour, for good, with these tips.

    Wash the shoes.

    I recommend putting the shoes through the dishwasher for a cycle. This will cleanse the shoe of existing odours and they should come out smelling quite fresh. Once you eliminate the existing odour, it is time to ward off future stink.

    Wash the feet.

    Soak the feet in diluted apple cider vinegar. The acidity of the vinegar will neutralize odour and cut through the bacteria that is causing the stench. You can do this every night as part of a maintenance routine.

    Coat the feet in a natural deodorant, coconut oil combination and try natural tea tree oil powder.

    Right out of the soak, I recommend coating the skin in coconut oil. This is a natural way to boost the skin’s own defenses against odour-causing bacteria. Each morning you can also coat the feet in a natural deodorant which will, in a similar way, work to protect the skin from the bacteria that causes a smell. Tea Tree Oil in a powder form is also a natural odour-fighter because it combats the bacteria. I recommend coating the skin in this powder each morning.

    Grab some off-the-shelf foot odour solutions for your shoes.

    Having your feet stuffed inside the same shoes all day creates the growth of odour-causing bacteria. Keeping the shoes smell-free is another good way to make sure you are protected from embarrassing smell. There are a lot of over-the-counter solutions at the drugstore, like sneaker balls, which fit into the shoe and act as a kind-of air freshener.

    There really is no secret to combating odour, on any part of the body. Regular cleansing, and the help of natural odour-fighting products like coconut oil and apple cider vinegar, will keep any embarrassing stench at bay. The best part of this prescription, I haven’t recommended anything that may contain harmful chemicals not right for yourself, or your children.


    Have any tips of your own. Be sure to share them with me!


    Photo Copyright: / 123RF Stock Photo

    • 17-04-2015

    hCG Cooking Series

    You may have recently stumbled upon a notice about an upcoming cooking series for clients following Dr. Polo’s Pound a Day Weight Loss Program. Before talking about the cooking series and some tips for being successful in the kitchen on a calorie-reduced diet, I thought I should briefly explain this weight loss program in case you have no idea what we’re talking about!

    Dr. Polo’s hCG weight loss program is designed to help reshape and redistribute the body’s fat deposits. It also establishes a new set point for the body, making one less likely to return to their previous weight only if new dietary choices and lifestyle changes are implemented. The most controversial part of the program is the actual 500-calorie per day diet that consists of regular food that can be found at any local grocery store. Don’t be afraid of this! Because of the hCG, which is consumed as part of the program, your body is actually mobilizing up to 3000 calories a day. You won’t feel hungry, and your body won’t experience the symptoms you would go through if doing only a 500-calorie per day diet. Please also know this program is medically supervised. Don’t try anything like this alone. Here’s a link to someone (Crystal) who has done the program, and shared information about it. She’s also my partner in the cooking series!

    Eating delicious foods on just 500-calories a day requires some creativity. Here’s where the cooking series comes in…

    Crystal and I teamed up to host several cooking classes that tap into where clients are in the weight loss program, as there are different phases throughout the plan. In other words, depending on where you are in the program, we have a class for you! One of the main frustrations clients report while being on the diet is the lack of variety, which is why variety is the main focus of the cooking series. Crystal’s brilliant and creative recipes allow taste buds to soar on a very restrictive diet. The cooking series also allows clients to meet other people following the same weight loss program so they can form connections and support each other through tips and tricks, or even provide emotional support for one another, as clients can feel isolated while following this program.

    Whether or not you’re following Dr. Polo’s weight loss program, here are 5 general tips for being successful in the kitchen on a calorie-reduced diet.

    1. Play with spices.

    2. Drink lots of water! Sometimes we think we’re hungry, but in fact we’re actually thirsty.

    3. Homemade all the way – your wallet and heart will thank you, as you’ll be decreasing your salt consumption considerably.

    4. Avoid temptation while cooking as we tend to munch while in the kitchen, so get rid of all the junk and comfort foods that are easy to grab.

    5. Ice, gum or mints can be your friend (no gum or mints if on hCG) as this will prevent munching.

    If you’re in the neighbourhood feel free to drop by the clinic to check out our kitchen where all the magic happens, or to ask any questions you might have about the cooking series. Click here for information about the classes and how to register.

    See you soon!