Motivator Highlight: Dan Halber

On Remembrance Day, we're doing our part to honour those who have fought for our freedom.  This includes our very own Dan Halber.

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Here's Dan's story:

I signed my contract when I was 17, and off I went to U.S. Marine Corps boot camp in September of 2008. After 3 months of that, it was back for a short Christmas break and off to infantry school on Camp Pendleton, CA. I spent 9 weeks there, and then was selected to go to the Basic Reconnaissance Course. I spent the following 4 months training through some of the hardest mental and physical challenges of my life. Never the less, it all ended and I was stationed on Camp Pendleton permanently.

Once at my unit, we began training for Afghanistan. In May of 2010, we deployed and spend 9 months over seas. Once returned, I found myself being bounced around the world, wherever the missions took us. The Marines taught me many lessons, built me into the man I am now, gave me friends that are irreplaceable and experiences that cannot be created anywhere else.

Remembrance Day is very close to my heart. It’s a day we can honor all those, past and present, that have served and are serving our country. These men and women put aside their own comforts in order to serve and help people of different nations. Sometimes, they even put their own life on the line, and some pay the ultimate price. Our Canadian lifestyle would not be possible without the sacrifices made years ago. This day is a day of reflection, a day of gratitude and most of all, a day to honour.



We Are The Bikergang: Pat

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When did you first discover YYC CYCLE, and what were your thoughts?

I learned of YYC Cycle a few months after it opened. I was recovering from a trauma knee injury and was looking for a safe cardio workout. I had heard good things about YYC and it was conveniently located so I thought I would check it out. I was warmly welcomed and quickly realized that there was much more to this than just spinning, just as the Mission Statement said. I readily embraced the program and have never looked back. All I had to do was the best I could do each session. I have steadily improved but the challenge continues. The staff and biker gang members have been very supportive. I have fed off of their positive energy and made many friends. I'm hooked!

The YYC CYCLE Bikergang is all about supporting each other and our goals. What are some of your big goals?

I want to continually pursue better fitness and test the bounds on what that can mean! That gives me the energy and resolve to best help people in my work and personal life.

What would you tell people who are wanting to get into spin, but may be afraid to attend a class?

I'd say come and just do your best and don't worry about being negatively judged. You are only competing with yourself and you will be strongly supported. You will be happy with your success and feel you belong right away!

What is your favourite guilty pleasure?

None. I find guilt and pleasure don't go along well together, so I try to avoid that combination

Spinning While Pregnant: Q&A

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How far along are you?
Georgia Burke: 18 weeks
Jessica Smith: 25 weeks pregnant (just over 6 months) 

What challenges, if any, have you encountered so far?
GB: None! I have more energy than ever up on that bike! I consider myself very lucky to be capable of a fit pregnancy.
JS: My centre of gravity has shifted while getting up and out of the saddle and keeping my heart rate nice and steady.

How often are you spinning?
GB: 3-4 times per week.
JS: 4 times a week.

What advice would you give to pregnant Bikergang members?
GB: Drink tons of water! And embrace that new beautiful body:)
JS: My advice for the bikergang would be to keep coming to spin even if your not out of the saddle as much and never feel like that's a bad thing. Showing up is better than not!!:)

What are you looking forward to most about transitioning from a Motivator to a Bikergang member?
GB: I can’t wait to try so many different styles of classes weekly once I transition from being a motivator. And obviously it will be exciting to ride alongside my new friends who I have seen hustling it out in my classes:)
JS: I am looking forward to still being able to spin at a lower intensity and show that pregnant people can spin and also feel like a part of the group.

YYC Nutrition: Success a Scale Can't Measure

I am constantly coaching and teaching clients how to improve beliefs, patterns related to their eating behaviours and appearance. All of this to help achieve long-term weight goals and a healthier lifestyle. Changes to these beliefs (in some cases) aren’t easy. Especially when we are flooded with TV commercials, warped Instagram photos, supplement guarantees and promises of “quick weight loss”. It adds to the expectation of fast results. “Lose 10 lbs. in 10 days!” or my favourite, “ Six pack abs with this 4 week workout program”. These statements are a slap in the face to someone who has been working for months to manage their weight through diet and a reasonable amount of exercise. They start to think “what’s wrong with me?”.

This creates anxiety and self-doubt in their ability to lose weight. It adds pressure, leaves little room for flexibility and even the slightest deviation from “the diet”, can derail the rest of their day. They soon forget about all the progress they have already achieved. Results that have nothing to do with a number on the scale.

I often remind clients that if they don’t see the number on the scale they want to see that week, to remember that there are still major benefits taking place.

True benefits that the scale can’t measure:

 
1. “I can sustain this lifestyle without feeling deprived or it affecting my social, work or family life”.


It’s important the approach you take with your weight loss is sustainable. If you’re someone who has been on different diets, re-gained the weight or fallen’ off the “wagon” a few times, a program that is realistic will keep you motivated, satisfied and sane.

2. “I was able to keep my cool when they served the desserts and other trigger foods”.

When trying to lose weight, strict restriction usually fails in the long run. Not only do you

feel miserable afterwards but, the guilt can stick with you until the next day. Enjoying your favorite treats now and then without guilt is important. A few times a week will not derail your progress. Say it with me, MODERATION.

3. “My eating habits are positively influencing my family & friends”.

Now that’s a great feeling. Inspiring others around you to make better choices can add to your motivation and persistence.

 
4. “I managed my eating around the holidays, which never happened in the past”.

The holidays, work conferences, vacations, etc. will happen. They often involve rich food and

being surrounded by addictive sugary-fatty combo treats. Ordering extra veggies, sticking to one alcoholic drink and packing whole food snacks is a total WIN! Always seize opportunities to do the best you can. Be proud of yourself. In the long run, beating yourself up will only lead to guilt and possibly episodes of overeating. Unless you live in a box, you will never be able literally maintain the exact same eating schedule day in and day out, all the time.


5. “I feel in control but not obsessed”.

Control, wow that’s a loaded word. Often, the behaviors and “rules” some hold related to eating is deeply rooted in a desire for control. Control gives us a sense of comfort, and that is something that as humans we will always naturally seek. Being in control of what goes into your body is the best way to succeed in long-term weight management. So if you feel in control, know you are in a good place and it’s only a matter of time before you reach your weight loss goals.

The benefits above are not what you read about on Instagram, in magazines or on the back of supplements. But, they are happening even in the presence of stalled weight loss or when a person reaches their healthiest or “maintenance” weight. If you do not acknowledge the process and overall benefits of how you get to your weight loss goal, how will you sustain it?

 

Now, for an awesome recipe!

PUMPKIN COCONUT OVERNIGHT OATS

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Serves 2

Ingredients:

Dry ingredients

1/2 cup rolled oats, buckwheat or steel cut oats
2 tablespoon hemp seeds
½ tbs cinnamon
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
couple dashes of nutmeg
pinch of salt

Wet ingredients
1/3 cup pumpkin puree
1 cup of almond milk, or coconut milk
1 Apple, diced
1 tbs Honey

Instructions:

1. Add all dry ingredients and divide into 2 jars or containers with airtight lids. Put the lids on and shake to combine.

 
2. Add the wet ingredients, reapply the lid and shake to combine again. Refrigerate overnight, or at least an hour. You can eat it cold, or heat it in the microwave (I do 1 minute and 30 seconds, stir, then heat for 1 more minute). Top with chopped nuts (slivered almonds, chopped walnuts), cacao nibs, shredded coconut, or whatever topping you’re into.

Serve hot and enjoy!

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Amy Karl RN, BN, RHN
The Pristine Body
www.thepristinebody.com
amykarl@thepristinebody.com





YYC Health: Spinning & Pregnancy

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Pregnancy is such a beautiful and amazing time in a women’s life. It is no myth that with all of these wonderful feelings also comes a tremendous amount of change, stress and uncertainty; especially for first time mothers. One major discussion I always have with pregnant patients is physical activity during pregnancy. How much? What do I do? Will my baby be affected? Is it safe? Etc. These are all important questions that every pregnant woman should be asking herself and her healthcare professionals.

As always, I have a disclaimer to this blog post. If you are thinking about getting pregnant or are currently pregnant (CONGRATS!), it is imperative that you consult your family doctor/healthcare provider before participating in physical activity. The majority of the time, it is completely safe to participate in activities you did prior to pregnancy (with some modifications), but in some cases it is not. Your healthcare provider will determine this, if they don’t, ask them!

Early 19th Century misogynists created a completely erroneous and outrageous concept that women should never participate in any physical activity - pregnant or not - to preserve femininity. WHAAAAT?! It lasted the majority of the 20th century and was later deemed “The Frailty Myth” . The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists finally debunked this myth and set out the first guidelines for physical activity and pregnancy in 1985.

These guidelines have changed slightly over the last 30 years, with more research available, however the underlying tone remains unanimous. Exercise! And most definitely exercise when you are pregnant. Even if you were not physically active prior to pregnancy, it is never too later to start, just consult a healthcare professional prior.

What are the benefits for my baby and me?

The endless benefits of exercise remain the same during pregnancy (increased cardiovascular health, increased strength, decrease chance of disease, etc.) with a few additional benefits:
-Maintenance of strength and coordination with natural pregnancy weight gain
-Possibly reducing the risk of gestational diabetes and pregnancy related hypertension (high blood pressure)
-Decreasing or easing of low back pain and other associated pregnancy pains
-Preparing the body for labor/delivery
-Enhancing post natal recovery and decreasing symptoms of postpartum depression
-Your baby will sprint out of you doing pushups and bicep curls...JOKING…Just wanted to make sure you are paying attention

What types of exercise(s) are best to avoid?

-Avoid contact or extreme sports – basically anything that will put you at greater risk of falling or trauma – even if you are super sick at mountain biking for example and never fall, the hormone relaxin increases significantly during pregnancy, causing more joint laxity and flexibility, thus increasing the risk of joint sprains and other injuries
-Avoid activities will a lot of jumping/jarring
-Avoid lying on your back, especially after the first trimester (approx. 13 weeks) as the baby and uterus can put pressure on the vena cava, an extremely important vein for circulation to the brain and uterus
-Avoid exercise at very high altitudes – aka no hiking on Everest
-Avoid straining or holding your breath, which increases intra-abdominal pressure – for example; don’t perform your one rep max deadlift when 36 weeks pregnant
-Avoid scuba diving
-Avoid exercising in very hot/humid environments, and I am talking HOT, especially in the first trimester – increasing core temperature above 102 Fahrenheit for longer than approximately 10 minutes could affect healthy growth and development of your baby. Your core temperature will naturally be increased in pregnancy but be sure to stay hydrated and pay attention to any signs/symptoms of overheating:
     -Nausea
     -Dizziness or lightheadedness
     -Shortness of breath

What are some safe options for exercise during pregnancy?

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends 30 minutes or more of exercise most, if not all, days of the week! Remember that your centre of gravity is shifting (forward) as the baby grows which will alter your balance, coordination and overall biomechanics. If anything hurts with exercise (knees, back, tummy, etc.), don’t do that particular activity and choose another one.

-Walking
-Running – if you were a runner prior to pregnancy - pregnancy is unfortunately not the best time to decide to become a marathon runner
-Resistance training/weightlifting – this is so important but remember to avoid very heavy weights
-Core strengthening including the trunk and pelvic floor musculature – any prenatal workout classes or midwife sessions will often focus on these exercises. Work those kegels girl!
-Swimming
-Prenatal yoga or any other prenatal workout classes
-Low impact aerobics – such as stationary biking (SPIN anyone?! Just make sure that motivator turns those fans on for you!)

Parting Words:

In addition to the above tips for exercising while pregnant, always remember to stay hydrated, increase your calorie intake, listen to your body and consult your healthcare professional prior to exercise.

To all those beautiful, glowing and pregnant women out there -- baby, let's exercise!

In health,

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Dr. Amy MacKinnon, DC, BSc. HKin (Hons)

Chiropractor, ProActive Health Group

403-225-3842

(dr.amy.mackinnon@gmail.com)




References:

American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (2010). Your Pregnancy and Childbirth Month to Month. 5th ed. Washington, D.C. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists; 2010(1).



Dowling, C. (2001). The Frailty Myth. Random House Trade Paperbacks.



Kalisiak B, et al. (2009). What effect does an exercise program for healthy pregnant women have on the mother, fetus, and child? PM&R;1, 261.



Olson D, et al. (2009). Exercise in pregnancy. Current Sorts Medicine Reports; 8:147.






We Are the Bikergang: Gabby

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When did you first discover YYC CYCLE, and what were your thoughts?

I first discovered YYC Cycle almost a year ago when Sylvia invited me (multiple times) to join her for a ride. I wasn’t sure about it, because I had never liked training before, but Sylvia kept saying so many good things about YYC CYCLE! My first class was… a challenge (just imagine an extremely out-of-shape, asthmatic on a bike). When I attended my second class, it was a little better but still couldn’t do 1/5 of what the motivator asked us to do. But most importantly, I started enjoying it. So I decided to stick to it and get in shape and I never looked back. I love the warm welcome I get every time I walk through the studio’s doors. We are doing the class together as a group, but nobody comes and checks how much resistance I have on that dial. I feel the group support without having to worry about the comparison. Just me against myself, pushing my limits.

The YYC CYCLE Bikergang is all about supporting each other and our goals. What are some of your big goals?

My biggest goal at the moment is to continue my weight loss journey. After that, we will see. :) One step at a time!

What would you tell people who are wanting to get into spin, but may be afraid to attend a class?

My biggest fear when I started spinning was to be judged by other people in the class. But I quickly realized that everybody is so focused on getting their own workout, they don’t have time to judge what other people are doing. When I see new faces, and people struggling like I did a couple months ago, I’m just so happy that they are trying something new. If you do your best every class and push your limits, it is amazing how fast you will notice the differences. I quickly noticed the drastic improvement in my cardio. I also noticed changes to my body. But what I didn’t expect were the changes in my mind. I am just so much happier. My thoughts are clearer, I’m more efficient at work, I’m way more focused and I don’t have sugar cravings all the time like I did before. So just try it. Just take time for yourself. And remember: your best doesn’t have to always be THE best :)

What is your favourite guilty pleasure?
I really try to not reward myself with food, but I have to say I have a soft side for my friend’s vegan coconut oil chocolate recipe. :)

Last but not least, who is the most inspiring woman in your life?
This is by far the hardest question. A lot of women inspire me on daily basis, and I strive to become a better person by learning from them. My mom is the woman I love the most. I couldn’t be more grateful for all the sacrifices she has made, the tears she wiped, the laughs we shared, the hours she listened and the unconditional love she gave.
My stepmom is one of the most kind-hearted, selfless people I know. She visited several dying family members daily - some for months - to help them, clean their home, and bring them love and comfort without expecting anything in return.
All my friends that are example of hard work and dedication, because of all the weight they lost or the simple fact that they find time for themselves between work, husbands and kids. :)

Mindsight and Mindfulness: How to integrate these two practices into your life

I first learned the concept of “Effort and Surrender” in yoga teacher training at the start of this year. I was immediately drawn in and intrigued by this c​omplimentary contradiction a​nd have been reflecting and integrating this into my life ever since. I found truth in this for my breath; inhale is the effort, exhale is the surrender. I have also found this supportive in how I pursue the things I want in life; action and experience is the effort, while letting-go, accepting the present moment for what it is, and embracing and loving who I am, is the surrender. Two seemingly unrelated concepts (effort versus surrender), yet when brought together create a beautiful, balanced, and unique way to approach living, striving, and thriving.

What has become clear to me is the equal importance and power of these two concepts working in harmony. In regards to gaining clarity and direction in oneself, I perceive e​ffort​ as mindsight, and surrender​as mindfulness. Let me explain.

In the book ‘Mindsight’ by Daniel J. Siegal, he describes Mindsight as,

“...a kind of focused attention that allows us to see the internal workings of our own minds. It helps us to be aware of our mental processes without being swept away by them, enables us to get ourselves off the autopilot of ingrained behaviours and habitual responses, and moves us beyond the reactive emotional loops we all have a tendency to get trapped in.”

So what does this mean?

Mindsight is the act of taking a step back to observe and notice what you are feeling, what your reactions and impulses are directing you towards, and what meaning you are projecting into this reality. It is you standing on the balcony, observing without judgment and sticking to the “brass tacks” of what the moment presents. It is you saying... “wait a second, what am I noticing here? and, what do I really want?”

Our brains are fascinating, vast and intricate. So much so that they are almost incomprehensible; logical yet mystical, straight forward but oh-so complicated. One of my favourite sayings is “where your mind goes, energy flows,” and as I learn and experience more I see why this speaks volumes when striving to live with intention. Siegal refers to this in a different way; “[h]ow we focus our attention shapes the structure of the brain.”

Everything you do in life can be broken down into habits. Habits of thought, habits of actions, habits of speech, and the ultimate - habitual (emotional) reactions. We are constantly forming new habits, whether we realize it or not. The key to mindsight is to utilize conscious effort, repetition, novelty, and/or emotional arousal, to form new neural pathways that will take over the old pathways and become the new path of least resistance. We can be in the driver-seat of our own life and literally re-shape our brains to react and create habits that serve who we truly want to be.
Traumatic experiences (extreme emotional arousal) or limiting beliefs (based on experience in the past or taking the word of a “wise elder” without feeling and experiencing for ourselves) can create an overly sensitized reactivity loop in the limbic area (aka “fight or flight”). We know that higher levels (or a constant flow) of cortisol is toxic for the body and brain. Mindsight allows us to step away from this reactive loop and recruit the higher functioning areas of our cortex to “override” this limbic system. How? In comes Mindfulness.

So what is Mindfulness? Siegal says,

“Mindfulness is a way of intentionally paying attention to the present moment without being swept up by judgments or thoughts.”

So, basically, Mindfulness creates a sense of receptivity and openness to the current moment without attachment. It allows us to be open to whatever the moment presents, with an open heart and an open mind. Siegal says:

“Openness implies that we are receptive to whatever comes to our awareness and don’t cling to preconceived ideas about how things “should” be. We let go of expectations and receive things as they are, rather than trying to make them be what we want them to be. Openness enables us to sense things clearly. It gives is the power to recognize restrictive judgments and release our minds from their grip.”

There it is: mindsight and mindfulness. Two wings of the same bird. Effort (mindsight) to create direction, to bring presence and clarity into each moment, to understand your brain and who you truly are, and surrender (mindfulness), that reminder to exhale, to embrace and love who you are, where you are, and trust that you can handle whatever the next moment brings into your awareness.

Now that you have an idea of what these two concepts are and why they are pivotal in taking charge of your own life, what’s next? How do we actually integrate these and put them into practice?

In order to retrain your brain into adopting a new vocabulary, a new perspective on life, or new habits of thought and action, you must repeat it, play with it, talk about it, reflect on it, write about it, and surround yourself with other people who strive to live in this mindful and intentional way.

This is only scratching the surface of what it means to live an intentional and purposeful life. Take some time to reflect on how these concepts are landing in your body. What do you notice? What are you curious about? What do you need to let go of to make space for mindsight and mindfulness? What do you need to embrace to remind you of the energy you want to bring into your life today? Write it down. Set reminders in your phone to take 5 deep mindful breaths throughout your day. Notice when you are feeling anxious and allow yourself a few minutes to talk yourself through it; what  am I feeling? what am I making it mean? what am I becoming more aware of? what am I learning? what do I really want?

Mindsight is the effort; that view from the balcony, detached from the ‘waves’, yet observing, noticing, and feeling with curiosity (and not judgement). Mindfulness is the surrender, the exhale, the moments of peace and contentment despite the storm or distractions of daily life.

This all takes conscious and mindful energy at first, but after a week it will bring insights and awareness into your reality that will surprise, entertain, and comfort you. After a few weeks it won’t take energy, it becomes your new normal, your new reaction, your new way of living, your new perspective on how to show up as your best self.

So do yourself a favour and commit to setting up reminders around your home, in your phone, or in your most-looked-at-notebooks.

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If you are curious to hear more, feel free to reach out to me at marinmccue@gmail.com or follow me on Instagram for daily motivation @ malymc13


YYC Nutrition - Why Eating Fat Won't Make You Fat

Fat started getting a bad rap in the 1970’s and 1980’s. Low-fat and fat-free diets were all the rage. “Cut fat from your diet, and you’ll lose fat from your body” was the message that food marketers, dietary counsels and fitness fanatics promised. 
 
So what ended up happening? We started eating more sugar and processed carbohydrates to replace dietary fat. 
When low-fat, Olestra-laden, Foreman grilled foods boomed in the marketplace, obesity numbers started doubling, then tripling! Why Jane Fonda?!! Why did you lead us astray?!  
 
The public was being warned that fat was to fear. But, this left us hungrier than ever. So we turned to carbs, bottomless non-fat yogurts, Wonder Bread and Tofurky. 
 
Eventually, we began to really look at the body processes behind obesity: fat wasn’t to blame. It couldn’t be. It had been cut in record amounts from diets everywhere. 
 
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Why don’t whole food fats (in moderate amounts) make you fat? 
 
1. When you eat fat, your body doesn’t instantly turn it into body fat. It’s not as simple as a 1:1 ratio. Whole food, non-processed fats are used by your body as a powerful slow-burning energy source. Fat helps you feel satisfied and gives you energy.  
 
2. Cutting Fat Makes You Hungry. 
Fat provides flavour and helps us feel full. Most importantly, fats digest more slowly than carbs or protein, so they satiate longer. 
 
3. Always hungry? Studies show low-fat food eaters are more likely to turn to carbs to curb hunger. More carbs (especially refined carbs) means more blood sugar highs and lows, cravings and eventually weight gain. 
 
4. Less fat = more sugar. To make foods fat-free, food companies turn to excess processing, added chemicals and sugars to keep textures and tastes appealing. These additives (gums, inulin, maltodextrin, plydestrose, modified food starch) are carbohydrate-based fat replacers. Basically, they are just fancy names for sugar. 
 
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However, all fats aren’t created equal. Trans-fats are obviously a bad idea. They raise your cholesterol and can increase your risk for heart disease. Certain saturated fats (coconut products),  monounsaturated fats (avocado, olive oil), and polyunsaturated fats (fish oils), actually help protect you from disease and deliver the power-punch of slow-burning energy good fats are made for. 
 
 
They’re high-quality, whole, natural, health supportive fats that help to improve digestion, compose part of cell membranes, activate and produce hormones and build immune function. 
 
 Swap out the bad fats –corn, soy, and vegetable oils, margarines, shortening, and other fats primarily used in processed foods and packaged meals - and you’ll start to feel a difference in your body.  
 
Keep in mind that when it comes to the sheer weight loss, a calorie is still a calorie. Adding a ton of healthy fats won’t magically melt away those extra pounds, but they will support your goal of ultimate wellness and nutrition. If you’re unsure of amounts and how to include these fats in your diet, talk to a professional that can help clarify quantities for you. 
 
6 Superfats to start eating today 
 
1. Coconut Oil 
Coconut oil is readily used by the body as an energy source. The high smoking point of coconut oil makes it ideal for cooking.  It comes with a naturally delicious flavour, it’s easy to eat and you’ll enjoy powerful antiviral and antibacterial benefits, as well. 
 
 
2. Avocado 
Avocados pack about 14 grams of healthy fat per 1/2 fruit. Add them to salads, smoothies or “puddings”, or eat them straight with a spoon. They’ll keep you sated throughout the day. Plus, avocado consumption actually aids in the absorption of vital nutrients when eaten with other fruits and vegetables. 
 
3. Fish Oil 
You can take it in a supplement, but I recommend you eat it as a meal. Fish oil is full of Omega-3’s, known to promote weight loss, support gorgeous skin, prevent cognitive decline as seen in Alzheimer’s,  and  even may help prevent cancer. 

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4. Extra Virgin Olive Oil 
Not ideal for cooking as it has a low smoke point. But, it’s great as a dressing or drizzle. It’s high in antioxidants and is a natural anti-inflammatory. Use it on top of your salad after whisking it together with salt and pepper. 
 
5. Nuts 
Almonds, walnuts, macadamia nuts (my personal faves). Nuts come with added protein and fibre.  Nuts are super easy to pack with you on the road.  
 
6. Red Palm Oil 
This oil hasn’t had as much publicity as coconut oil but unrefined Organic Red Palm Oil offers potent antioxidants rich in phytonutrients. It also has a long history of use as a healing food among ancient civilizations particularly, in West Africa. 
 
 
 
 
For clients following the Pristine Body program, the focus is on blood sugar stabilization and anti-inflammatory foods. I teach my clients how to stick to prep meals that leave them feeling sated and satisfied so they can enjoy life without obsessing about food.  
 
Recipe Time! 
 
Research confirms that when we start our day with protein and fat (rather than focused on carbs), we feel more relaxed around food and eat less overall. The right amount of fat and protein will depend on the person. Less mindless snacking and grazing will increase human growth hormone and testosterone levels, which helps you shed weight, maintain lean muscle mass, and increase insulin sensitivity.  
This chia pudding provides you with protein, fat and fibre to keep you full. It’s my new favourite A.M meal! 

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Chia Pudding 
 
Ingredients: 
tablespoon ghee or coconut oil 
2 cup coconut or almond milk 
3 tablespoons chia seeds 
3 tablespoons ground flax seed 
 
Optional Toppings: 
4 tablespoons chopped pecans 
2 tablespoons hemp hearts 
¼ cup mixed fresh berries 
 
Choose Sweetener: 
1 serving vanilla Protein Powder 
3 Stevia drops 
1 tablespoon coconut palm sugar 
 
-In a medium nonstick fry pan on medium heat, add 1 tablespoon of ghee, 1 cup of coconut milk, chia seed and flax. 
-With a silicon spatula or wooden spoon, continuously stir all ingredients until pudding is thick about, 3 minutes. 
-Pour warm pudding into a bowl, option to stir in sweetener of choice. 
-Top with nuts, hemp seeds coconut milk and berries. Serve warm 


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Amy Karl RN, BN, RHN
The Pristine Body
www.thepristinebody.com
amykarl@thepristinebody.com


YYC Health - Posture On Point

Keeping That Posture On Point


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There are many ways to define the term evolution. A common theme to all of these definitions is change and adaptation. Although evolution is most often thought of as positive, advancing and/or forward thinking, it is sometimes the opposite.

The evolution of technology is proving detrimental to our physical well-being. Take a moment to think about what you do on a daily basis: from the minute you wake up, to the moment you rest your head at night. I can guarantee that a significant portion of your day is spent sitting plus or minus the use of technology.
Whether it is a car, computer, tablet, cell phone, TV, robot or the latest hottest Apple product, we spend most of our waking hours SITTING and using these devices. Not only are we sitting, but we are also slouching, looking down, leaning to one side with your cat/dog lying on your chest, holding your baby, sipping a pumpkin spice latte as you catch up on your emails, WHILE lying on a bean bag chair. Okay this is extreme, but you get the point.

This is by no means a stab at technology; it is integral to our way of life and future advancement. Thus, as I happily sit here on my MacBook, slouching as I cruise through my Instagram feed, I remind myself, and all of YOU (YYC CYCLE Biker Gang) to check yourself before you wreck yourself.

As September rolls on and we go back to school, back to work, back to driving and are required to sit more and for longer periods of time, our bodies will change and adapt to the posture in which we choose. Bad posture can lead to recurrent back and neck pain, headaches, chronically tight/weak muscles and joint dysfunction. It is unrealistic to eliminate sitting all together, thus certain tips and exercises can be helpful in the prevention and management of these conditions.

seated-posture

Notice the obvious differences between the picture on the left vs. the right. The left demonstrates poor seated posture. On the right (good seated posture), Dan has placed his feet flat on the floor, knees, hips and elbows are approximately at 90 degrees, shoulders are pulled back, the spine is in a neutral position and his chin is tucked back.

Postural Relief TIPS – in an office/school setting

Ensure good ALIGNMENT in chair or standing
  • When sitting, use the features of your office chair to sit up straight, aligning ears, shoulders and hips. Keep the shoulders back and use your arm rests to ensure shoulders are relaxed.
  • When standing, distribute weight evenly from left to right and keep a neutral spine
  • Avoid unbalanced positions for long periods of time such as crossing feet/legs, leaning to one side, tilting head, etc.
Take periodic breaks – MOVE
  • Stand up and walk around every 20 minutes for 5 minutes.
  • Do a few yoga flows, shoulder rolls, stretch, do jumping jacks, shadow box – this is your break, do what you love
Use ERGONOMIC AIDS – this will be a personal preference as to what works for you
  • High low office desk
  • Ergonomic office chair
  • Sit on Swiss ball – maintaining good posture of course
  • Use sit disc – rubber disc that you sit on to prevent stagnant position
  • Extra support for wrists at keyboard
  • Bluetooth headset so hands are free to multitask and shoulders/head stay level
EXERCISE!
  • Spin, lift, run, cycle, jump, climb, dance, walk etc. do all things involving movement and do them often.
Postural Relief Exercises:

The following exercises are examples of ways to gain relief from postural strain, stretch tight muscles and gain more range of motion through the joints of the spine, shoulders and neck.

Exercises were taken from “Postural Exercises” by Craig Liebenson. Journal of Bodywork & Movement Therapies (2010).

1. Vertical Foam Roll – Arms at Side

layingpic

Start on your back. Hands at your sides and palms up. Breathe in and out from your abdomen. Take 10-20 deep breaths.
What you should feel:
  • Feel your abdomen moving in with each exhalation, and out with each inhalation
  • Feel your shoulders falling back towards the floor



2. Vertical Foam Roll - Arms Overhead

layingarms

Raise your arms overhead. If possible, let the back of your hands touch the floor. If not, then lower your arms. Hold for 10-20 breaths.

What you should feel:
  • Feel your abdomen moving in with each exhalation, and out with each inhalation
  • Feel your chest and shoulders stretching
  • Note: If you feel excessive or persistent pain in the front of your shoulder(s) then lower your arms until you don’t feel discomfort.


3. Horizontal Foam Roll

horizontal
Extend your back over the foam roll. Keep your chin tucked in. Stretch and roll. Arms can be up beside the head or folded on the chest. Reps: Roll back and forth 8-10 times.

What you should feel:
  • Feel your upper back stretching backwards


Common mistake to avoid:
  • Poking your chin out


4. Upper Back Cat/Cow

catcow

In the table top position with hands and knees on the floor, round your back up (letting your head hang relaxed) and breathe in (cat). Let your chest drop down and breathe out (cow). Hold this position for another breath in and out. Reps: Perform 8-10 repetitions

What you should feel:
  • Focus on feeling your upper back and chest stretching down towards the floor
  • Feel the front of your shoulders stretching

Common mistake to avoid:
  • Shrugging your shoulders up towards your ears.


Note: If you feel excessive or persistent pain in the front of your shoulder(s) when you drop your chest down, discontinue this stretch.

Okay YYC CYCLE Bikergang – let’s keep these important points in mind when attaining our best posture possible!

In health,

amymac_copy
Dr. Amy MacKinnon, DC, BSc. HKin (Hons)
Chiropractor, ProActive Health Group
403-225-3842
(dr.amy.mackinnon@gmail.com)

References:
Liebenson, C. (2010). Postural Exercises on a Foam Roll. Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies; 14; 203-205.

Overuse Injuries and Bike Set-Up

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Ahhh summer! These hot Calgary months have, without at doubt, encouraged us to get out there and get active. Whether it’s in the urban YYC jungle, the breathtaking mountains or in a high energy room at YYC CYCLE, pedaling it to the metal for a solid 50-minute sweat, Calgarians and the YYC CYCLE Bikergang riders are continuing to demonstrate a healthy, active lifestyle.

For those that don’t know me yet, my number one “prescription” as a healthcare professional is a simple one, movement. More specifically, proper movement. Luckily, YYC CYCLE takes pride in creating a unique environment where individuals can embrace this key foundation of fitness.

As August roles on, it is not unusual that patients walk through my door having pushed their bodies to the limits with exercise. Often times they are experiencing pain and/or injury, more specifically overuse injury. Improper movement while exercising can lead to overuse injury. Let’s discuss this as it pertains to bike set up and spin class.

Please refer to http://yyc-cycle.com/love-spin for the YYC Cycle Bike Set-Up video for basic tips.

Proper bike set up crucial for many reasons, including but not limited to:
  • Facilitation of a smooth and symmetrical pedal stroke
  • Safe execution of instructed exercises during spin class (upper and lower body)
  • Injury prevention
  • The first two points are pretty straightforward. Let’s take some time to talk about the third, injury prevention.
  • The Clinical Journal of Sports Medicine published an excellent article in which I provide to my avid outdoor cyclists (cross country, road, mountain, leisure) and spin class participants. If you are currently experiencing pain and/or discomfort while riding, a simple adjustment in bike set up may sometimes make a world of a difference for pain and injury prevention.
  • Disclaimer* - This information is by no means textbook and may not apply to every injury or area of pain. Overuse injuries are due to many factors and thus may need intervention or a more in depth functional assessment by an experienced health care professional.



Overuse Injuries, Contributing Bicycle Posture and Bicycle Adjustments – Siberman, M.R. et al. (2005).
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Okay YYC Bikergang – let’s keep these important points in mind when getting out there and getting active.

In health,

Dr. Amy MacKinnon, DC, BSc. HKin (Hons)
Chiropractor, ProActive Health Group
403-225-3842
(dr.amy.mackinnon@gmail.com)

References:
Silberman, M.R. et al. (2005). Road Bicycle Fit. Clinical Journal of Sports Medicine; 15(4), 271-276.


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