Let’s take a trip down memory lane to Junior high biology class. Do you remember learning about our nervous system? Parasympathetic VS sympathetic systems?
These 2 nervous systems explain everything you need to know about weight gain and fatigue! Why when you are stressed, you have digestive problems and get more gassy and bloated. Why, when you are stressed, you gain weight- especially around your midsection and belly no matter what weight loss efforts you have implemented, nothing seems to battle the bulge. Why, you feel and look exhausted no matter how much sleep you get. Why you are constantly getting injured or are in chronic pain and it isn’t healing as it should. And most importantly, what we can do about all of this.
Sympathetic Nervous system otherwise known as “ Fight or Flight”.
When we are stressed, or are put under stressful situations ( Even though we can’t admit we are necessarily stressed, and we are good, and we got this, and we are fine and we will be ok) our body releases cortisol and adrenaline from our adrenal glands. The role of these hormones are to keep us going in the midst of stress. We are however only equipped with so many resources to allow us to keep going for so long, until we crash and burn because our cortisol and adrenaline levels can no longer be kept up with. This is known as the adrenal fatigue we have touched on previously. We are not equipped to run from a bear 24/7. God hasn’t built us that way, to have the organs and hormones on endless supply to accommodate this crazy world we live in. We run out of resources very quickly if we push and push our bodies to no end. This is when we begin getting injured and end up with chronic diseases as a result of too much “stress” on the body without the ability to cope with it. No different than your car breaking down after you ran on it without changing the oil, getting it serviced, etc tec. WHY this is of relevance to you, is because, when we are under stress our blood vessels dilate, our core body temperature increases, our digestive system shuts down, our repairing and restorative mechanisms are halted and we are running on pure adrenaline to survive. When we are surviving, we are hoarding all our resources and food and fuel to store it in times of need for quick energy. Everything we eat becomes stored in case we will need fuel at a later date. We are literally wired to survive.
Parasympathetic Nervous system otherwise known as “ Rest and Digest”. This is the complete opposite of the sympathetic system. This is where we are meant to rejuvenate, relax, repair and regenerate. Our body replenishes nutrient stores, hormone levels, neurotransmitters, growth hormone and more while we are in this state. Our digestive system is working, HCL is flowing, enzymes are working to help us break down our food, our intestines and bowels are undergoing peristalsis and movement and all is well. We are balanced here, calm, our muscles are relaxed, heart rate and breathing rate and pulse rate are low. We aren’t hoarding resources here, our bodies aren’t holding onto food and calories, pressure is taken off our heart and our adrenal glands are having a holiday.
Now, the kicker is, we cannot be in both systems at once. We cannot be running from a bear and eating while we run and expect our digestive system to work for us. This is why when we are stressed and go go go and eat on the run, we get heartburn and acid reflux along with gas and bloating and perhaps diarrhea or constipation. Why when we are stressed we get injured and our body doesn’t heal- because we haven’t given it the restorative and regenerative attention our body needs. Why when you are running on very little sleep or are tossing and turning, that you wake up exhausted. You haven’t allowed the body ample time to get out of 1 nervous system and into the next system properly so both functions of the body and nervous system could be appreciated. It is so important to appreciate the two systems for what they are, and respect the processes and bodily functions that take place in each. We need our bodies to respond under a state of stress, but we also need to place an importance on the value of good restful deep sleep. We must respect our digestive system and the enzymes that are responsible for breaking down our food and assimilating it so we use it for energy. It would be a shame to compromise this process because we are too busy. All this requires is 10 minutes to sit down, focus on eating, on chewing your food properly and give your mealtime the quiet it deserves. In the midst of a stressful situation, simply go to a quiet room, heck a bathroom will suffice if you are out and about, turn the lights off and do 10 deep belly breaths. This calmness will allow a dial down of sympathetic to parasympathetic system and help recharge those batteries.
A good friend of mine and I had a discussion about this topic, and I can truly say this was an “A-HA” moment for me in that it makes so much sense and is so inspiring and motivating, I just had to share the concept with you to help us better understand weight and changing your mindset about weight loss, along with the judgement from others that comes when you mention you are “losing weight”. This is a touchy subject, and many people feel ashamed to admit they are on a diet for fear of judgement, or conversely, people continue to have negative self body images and negative self body talk when it concerns the topics of weight loss.
Weight “Loss” has such a negative connotation if you think about it. Loss has a negative meaning, in that you have no control over what has been done. You lose your keys, you lose the remote, you lose your favorite scarf, and as a result you lose your mind~! This word not only denotes a lack of celebration, but it amplifies a total lack of control. When you lose something, it is without thought, intention and usually more often than not, by accident. You lose something, you don’t know where it went, you are often upset and bothered. Why are we using this word to support a change in weight!?
The choice to lose weight is a very intentional one, a process that has required strength, determination, hard work and in fact, complete and total control. The highest level of control actually. This should be celebrated with positive words and mention that YOU are the one that made the change and success happen. Perhaps if we did this, weight loss wouldn’t be viewed as such a negative thing and in fact, more people would celebrate as opposed to pass judgment, as you are able to relay how proud you are of the results. How it was by choice, intention and control.
Releasing the weight is a much better expression in my opinion. Why? Because it is a personal choice, that you have decided that you no longer want to hold on to the excess weight you have on your body, and have consciously decided to release something that no longer serves you or benefits you in your life. I have chosen to release the weight. Release the shame, release the burden that comes along with being overweight, release the stress and emotion linked to the weight, releases the physical weight off your shoulders. Release is such a positive word, letting something go is so refreshing and unburdening and freeing. Releasing something into the universe that you are letting go of and all that comes with it.
What have you been doing? “I am changing my body”. I have decided to change the shape of my body. Again, you are in control of your shape and wanting to change what the shape looks like as opposed to losing the weight.
Numbers are merely that, a number. Yet we are so controlled by this number. Nobody cares if the 1.5L of water you just drank weigh 3 pounds, or that you haven’t had a bowel movement in a couple days, or that you ate a large meal and have the weight of the food in your stomach. People are judged by a number and a loss of that number dictates success.
We need to change the focus and take control back of the intention and work and dedication and power it takes to embark on a weight releasing journey.
Summer break starts in just a few short weeks and that means that Canadians everywhere will be hopping on planes, jumping in cars and even catching trains to travel the great wide world. New Westminster Naturopathic Physician, Dr. Allana Polo, is here to make sure you make it to your travel destination happy and healthy with her recommendations of her favorite carry on essentials.
The Weather Network is expecting a hot and dry summer across Western Canada. If the last few days are any indication we are definitely in for a hot one! Many of us Vancouverites spend the winter months complaining about rain and counting down the days until we see beautiful blue skies and warm weather. As much as we love the summer, many of us aren't quite prepared and our health can suffer! Luckily, New Westminster Naturopathic Physician Dr. Allana Polo is here to address some summer health concerns.
"Summertime is my favourite time of year, the sun is shining and people are outdoors getting active," says Dr. Polo. "As fabulous as Vancouver summers are, they also brings quite a few common health concerns that can be dangerous if left untreated. Luckily most of these concerns can be prevented before even happening and if you miss preventing them, there are some great natural remedies that will get you back feeling 100%."
6 Common Summer Health Concerns And How to Prevent Or Treat Them:
Prevent It: Plan out your outside time by looking up the UV index for your city by the hour. This is a great website for doing that. Seek shade or plan to be indoors during peek UV times and enjoy sun time during hours where the UV Index is lower.
Home Remedy For Sunstroke: Drink lots of fluids including water and beverages like coconut water that are high in electrolytes, potassium and magnesium. Place cold towels on the neck.
2. Sun Induced Headaches-
Prevent It: Stay hydrated and wear hats that will block the sun from your eyes and UV protecting sunglasses.
Home Remedy For Sun Induced Headaches: Rehydrate your body. Spend time in a cool dark room with a cool compress over your eyes.
3. Mosquito Bites-
Prevent It: Make natural bug spray using oils that repel mosquitos which include cinnamon oil, lemon, eucalyptus and citronella. Eat foods high in vitamin B1 which are thought to change our smell and repel female mosquitos.
Home Remedy For Mosquito Bites: Dot bites with oil of oregano or tea tree oil. Rub with a wedge of lemon. Reduce inflammation with ice.
Prevent It: Avoid peek UV index times and stay covered in sun shelters, with cool loose clothing and sun hats.
Home Remedy For Sunburn: Take a cool bath with oatmeal or baking soda. Apply aloe vera gel. Lay cool compresses that have been soaked in black tea on the affected areas of your skin.
5. Food poisoning-
Prevent It: Practice food safety and food handling best practices when preparing food for BBQ's and other summertime parties. Take note of how long food has been sitting out and if it's been properly chilled or heated.
Home Remedy For Food Poisoning: Drink ginger tea. Don't take immodium, let your body pass it. Alkanize your digestive system by mixing 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar with hot water and drinking. Load up on probiotics to restore the harmony of your gut health.
6. Bacterial Infection from public hot tubs or pools
Prevent It: Avoid going in the water if you have an open cuts or sores. Know the hot tubs you are using and how they are cared for. If they aren't cared for properly, avoid them.
Home Remedy For Bacterial Infection: Treat topically with natural antibacterial agents like tea trea oil and oil of oregano. Treat internally by consuming garlic and probiotics.
Now that summer is almost here, many of us are hitting the road and roaming the world. In all the excitement of booking travel plans, packing and dreaming about adventures to come, it can be easy to forget about sticking with healthy habits. Travelling doesn't mean you have to give up on your health goals! New Westminster Naturopathic Physician, Dr. Allana Polo is here with her favorite tips for staying healthy while on vacation!
"Going on vacation does not mean you are going on vacation from your healthy habits and lifestyle ways," says Dr. Polo. "If you view vacation as a free for all, you’re more likely to come home feeling lethargic, up a few pounds and not rested from your trip, when you should be returning feeling the complete opposite. Don't be one of those people who comes back from their travels saying that they need a vacation to recover from their vacation. Stay on track with your goals so you're sure to come home feeling energized and motivated that you can be healthy no matter where you are in the world."
Dr. Polo's Healthy Travel Tips:
Plan ahead- Scope out healthy restaurants and grocery stores, view menus and create a "meal plan" before heading on vacation.
Book a place to stay with a kitchen- Preparing some of your meals yourself will allow you the freedom to eat the way you eat at home, eat local produce, and save yourself thousands of hidden calories.
Scope Out The Hood- The first day you arrive, take a walk around the neighborhood and check out your cafe, restaurant and grocery shopping options. Also ask staff at the hotel about their favorite healthy places to grab a bite!
Be Active Whenever You Can- It''s tempting to grab an Uber or hop on a sightseeing bus when visiting a new city, but consider doing exploring by foot! Rent a bike or strap on a pair of sneakers and get that calorie burn up while travelling.
Schedule Workouts- Just because you are on vacation, doesn’t mean you have to skip your workout. Most hotels will offer a pool or gym. Try for 30-minute workouts where your heart rate is elevated and you work up a sweat. That’s all it takes!
Find the Other Pleasures- Remember why you are travelling in the first place. Whether you are exploring ancient ruins, or lying on a beach in Costa Rica, focus on the pleasures of vacation that have nothing to do with food and everything to do with relaxation and new experiences.
Kick Your Sight Seeing Up A Notch With Added Weight- Whether your visiting the Eiffel Tower or strolling the beaches of Maui looking for sand dollars, strap on a pair of ankle weights or wrist weights while walking and sight seeing for an extra metabolic boost!
Practice 80/20... or 75/25- Chances are you've heard of the 80/20 rule. Eat healthy 80% of the time and treat yourself the other 20. When on vacation nutrition is often the first thing to fly out the window, often as soon as we get to the airport. Don't deprive yourself, enjoy your vacation, but treat yourself 25% of the time and make healthy choices the rest of the time.
Skip Tapas and Appies in Favor of Backpack Snacks- Stock up on healthy snacks at a local grocery store or health food store when you arrive at your travel destination. Pre-plan your snacking for throughout the day. Eat a healthy snack 30 minutes to an hour before you go out to eat. You are much more likely to order too much food an unhealthy choices when you look at a menu while starving versus when you have a bit of food in your tummy.
Take the stairs- Make a game of taking the stairs wherever you go. Skip the elevator at your hotel and go up and down the stairwell instead. Even if you are staying on a high floor and you can't imagine walking all the flights up, walk down the stairs to burn a few extra calories.
1. Set S.M.A.R.T. Goals- Specific. Measurable. Attainable. Relevant. Time-based.
2. 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.
3. 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.
4. 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!
5. 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.
6. Limit your goals- Choose 1 or 2, not 10. This keeps you from getting overwhelmed and gives you 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.
Imagine you are handed a note every day with a message about your health. It indicates how well your digestive system is working, if there are signs of growths or other abnormalities in your intestines, if you are drinking enough water and much, much more. Now imagine not even looking at that note and flushing it down the toilet instead.
You wouldn’t do that, would you? So then, don’t flush your poop without taking a peek! New Westminster Naturopathic Physician, Dr. Allana Polo is here to explain.
"Your stools tell you a lot about what’s happening inside based on their colour, size, shape, frequency, texture and smell. There are many factors that affect your ‘number two’: your diet, your hormones, medications you are taking, and how much sleep and exercise you’re getting," says Dr. Polo. "Learning what is ‘normal’ for you based on some of these factors is a vital part of living an optimally healthy lifestyle. For example, you don’t need to be alarmed if you have a red tint in your stool if you recently ate a lot of beets, or cranberries or had something that had a red food colouring in it. However, if you are not accustomed to eating those foods and are suddenly finding red in your stools, you should speak to your healthcare professional."
Take a peek at this poop chart:
If you’re on the constipated side, there are a number of things you can do to soften your stools. Drinking more water and being more active are common options to start with. I would recommend those two action items as overall beneficial for you anyway. As well, take a look at your fibre intake. Are you eating enough fruits, vegetables and legumes to keep your stool soft and easy to pass?
On the other side of the spectrum, you may have diarrhea more often than you realize. Diarrhea isn’t always just water passing through without any solids. It’s also the solid matter that falls apart when it hits the water and is really mushy. This is saying something as well and it’s important to know what could be going on. Some really common issues could be an overgrowth of yeast in the gut and large intestine, bacterial overgrowth, food sensitivities, difficulties with digesting certain nutrients, eating a diet high in fat or grease, or even a lifestyle that induces too much stress.
Did you know that the gut is where the immune system ‘resides’? It's true! So that's why it's extra important to take good care of yours.
A naturopathic physician can get to the bottom of your poop problems by running food sensitivity and IgG blood tests, creating an elimination diet, and suggesting probiotics, digestive enzymes and glutamine which are restorative and healing for this incredibly important system.
Our body relies on the strength of our digestive system to fuel the rest of it so this is never something we should take lightly. Even when it’s embarrassing to talk about poop, it is an insightful conversation to have with a naturopathic physician. When you’re in the habit of looking before you flush, you have a lot to bring to the table for your own health.
Halle Berry, Kim and Kourtney Kardashian, Kobe Bryant, Gwyneth Paltrow and Vanessa Hudgins... What do these people have in common (besides being gorgeous, rich, celebrities)? They are all shouting from the rooftops how they've never felt (or looked) better thanks to the popular eating trend-- The Ketogenic Diet.
The Keto Diet is all about getting your body into a state of “ketosis” which is an efficient fat burning state. You shift your calories to a high fat, moderate protein, low carb diet where your body no longer runs of glucose for fuel, but rather fat for fuel.
Who Keto Works For: Keto is perfect for someone who wants rapid weight loss, hates to be hungry, is tired of counting calories, is ok sticking with the recommended foods without cheat days to keep body in a state of ketosis (aka no going back and forth between carbs and no carbs), is a big meat eater and loves foods high in healthy fat like salmon, avocado, nuts and coconut oil fat. People who love planning meals ahead of time and experimenting with new recipes will love the Keto Diet. It is also recommended for people with blood sugar problems, pre-diabetes or diabetes because it works great for balancing blood sugar levels.
Who Should Steer Clear of Keto: If you can’t tolerate fat, are vegan, vegetarian or almost entirely plant based, have a hard time sticking with a list of foods you can and cannot eat, or have issues with gallstones or have had your gallbladder removed keto probably isn't right for you.
Intermittent Fasting (also known as IF) IF is very different than Keto, but may offer the same benefits. Your sleep is better, your skin clearer, your mood happier, your digestion smoother, but it always involves some level of shortening or restricting your daily “eating window” so that your body is constantly pulling energy from the food you are taking in, forcing your body to use stored fat for energy.
Who Intermittent Fasting Works For: Intermittent fasting is perfect for someone who wants to lose weight rapidly, is tired of counting calories, tends not to be hungry in the morning and skips breakfast most days, who prefers to eat a few larger meals instead of grazing on smaller meals and snacks throughout the day, is ok being hungry and not giving into the temptation of nighttime grazing in front of the tv.
Who Should Steer Clear of Intermittent Fasting: Steer clear of IF you have blood sugar or hypoglycaemia problems or concerns, if you have a high metabolism that needs to be fired with small meals and snacks throughout the day, if you can't imagine going without breakfast, if you tend to get hangry or have a hard time going hungry. Night owls might also struggle with this way of eating if they tend to consume a large amount of calories in the late evening and very early morning.
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!
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!
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.
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.
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?
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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.
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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.
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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!
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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.
Play with spices.
Drink lots of water! Sometimes we think we’re hungry, but in fact we’re actually thirsty.
Homemade all the way – your wallet and heart will thank you, as you’ll be decreasing your salt consumption considerably.
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.
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!