Sunday, February 27, 2011

Moments ..

My half marathon is scheduled for early March, a week today, in fact! I've been doing a little training, but still I'm feeling rather unprepared. Anyone who has ever run a half marathon will tell you that, when it comes to distance running, the half marathon is an attainable distance. If you run regularly (4-5x/week), you could probably get a half marathon under your belt with a minimal amount of extra training. Since I've neither recently indulged in the regular running, nor the extra training, I had a long run planned for this morning (as a last ditch attempt).

When my plans went arye do an unforseen physiological event last night (more on that another day), I overslept and missed my group run. Initially, I felt rather guilty for not forcing my exhausted, depleted and drained body out of the bed and onto the road. You see, there is something about being an athlete: being an athlete assumes that you regularly push your body beyond its limit. This needs to happen for the body to become stronger, faster and better adjusted to the physical demands imposed on it. As an unfortunate result however, athletes will push themselves even when their bodies are screaming for a rest!

Since my body was screaming for a rest, this was my day of resisting the guilt and loathing that is usually experienced from missing a fundamental training run: after a double Nespresso with almond milk and a visit with the morning paper, my sin was absolved. From here, my Sunday opened up to me. This is often the beauty that comes with welcoming the moment and letting go of diligent planning.

As you can see from the photos on this post, I ended up east of the city today for a little winter hiking, fit with a friend I haven't seen in months, a few great dogs, a little campfire and herbal tea and even cute little snowmen that welcomed us along our path: all the gifts of spontaneity!

Sometimes a little rest and a little less training is the best thing: for the body and for the mind!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Attraction: "LAW" or simply "Legislation Waiting to be Passed"?!

I've been listening to the Abraham Hicks meditations lately after one of the massage therapists at our clinic has raved about the change it has affected in her life: from better communication to attracting financial abundance, apparently, these meditations are the greatest thing since sliced bread! And since the meditations were sold out the first day that they were launched, they must be worth something.

So, what has my experience been with this "law". Well, it hasn't been going quite as well as I had hoped when it comes to facilitating life change. However, I am likely part of the problem when it comes to not moving forward! Esther and Jerry Hicks (the creators and inspiration behind the Abraham Hicks meditations and much of the information contained in the movie The Secret) suggest that our vibration attracts what resonates with it. They offer the example of Mike Tyson who has earned billions of dollars in his career yet struggles with debt. Esther and Jerry explain this phenomena by looking at how Mike Tyson's vibration is conditioned to be in poverty: he was poverty stricken growing up and has adopted that vibration and, as a result, he creates being in debt as his reality because it is the vibration that he resonates with most. Make sense?!

Let's take this example a little closer to home: I believe that I have some pretty bad car karma. If I was to make an illegal U-turn at exactly the same time as someone else, on that same road, with the same cops looking on, I would surely be the one pulled over and ticketed. I have it in my head - through much conditioning over many years - that my car, having my license and parking anywhere in Toronto is going to result in tickets, expenses that I haven't budgeted for and much frustration .. so - despite my listening religiously to these meditations as an attempt to change my vibration - I have, as of Thursday last week, attracted yet another unfortunate car expense!

This is not the end of the world, but continues to be an obstacle to me going forward financially. What can I do to change this vibration? Well, according to the Law of Attraction, I need to be making a more conscious attempt to change my cognitive habits from "I keep being blindsided by unexpected car expenses!" to "I like the feeling of well-being that comes with not having unexpected car expenses".

It is an interesting thing that Esther Hicks speaks about in the informational video on their website. She talks about being in the "Vortex", in "alignment" or in connection with your "vibrational source" and describes this as a feeling of being in the flow, of empowerment, joy, happiness, a connection in which everything falls in line or comes together. I think we've all had these moments: whether its getting into your zone through exercise, or doing that amazing presentation at work where there are no obstacles and everything just flows or whether it's those days with your romantic partner that feel simply perfect! We all know the feeling, but how do we create this feeling more frequently and keep in the flow when we're there? Well, instead of asking for the things that we don't have (because in doing this, we put energy into the absence that exists), we need to bring awareness to the feeling of possessing the things we want. For instance, instead of "I really want/need a new car", change that to "I like the feeling of well-being that comes with driving a new car". In this way, we are able to create the vibration of driving a new car .. and from here we can attract that into our lives.

And so my meditations will continue with the acute objective of taking myself seriously when I say that I like the feeling of well-being that comes with owning that gorgeous, little, $600 000 house that I am so in love with and not breaking the bank at the same time! And, now that the ball is rolling: I like the feeling of well-being that comes with never get wrinkly and having my lean fit body until I turn 90 years old! Enough said people, let the attraction begin ...

**FYI: the Abraham Hicks meditations are now an iPhone app .. it does use a lot of data though. For more information on Esther and Jerry Hicks and the Law of Attraction, check out their website.**

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

In Honour of Valentine's Day ..

Happy belated Valentine's Day to everyone out there! I am a day late in this post due to some unforeseen Valentine's Day events: editing articles for today's Markham Stouffville Hospital Health Fair, which I was honoured to be a part of. I know, I know .. it sound pathetic spending Valentine's Day engrossed in medical data! I may be pathetic .. but at least I'm pathetic and smart! :)

Considering V-day, let's talk about the heart. So, it's interesting to note that there is an undeniable correlation between depression and heart disease! When we talk mortality, depression ALONE doubles mortality risk; heart disease ALONE increases risk by two thirds. It is interesting to note, as Scientific America Mind (Jan-Feb 2011) did by summarizing a study, that, on any given day, individuals with both depression and heart disease were approximately five times more likely to die than their peers!

This peaked my curiosity so I began researching the mechanism of action of this lethal pair. Early research shows that individuals that suffer from depression are at greater risk for developing a heart condition, including arteriosclerosis, arrhythmias and MI (myocardial infarction or heart attack). As I delved a little deeper, I found that the physiological explanation to why depression leads to and can worsen heart disease is still unclear. An article called Biological Mechanisms in the Relationship Between Depression and Heart Disease reviews the scientific data and the theories associated with this correlation: it is plausible that people who have had a cardiac incident can become depressed which negatively impact lifestyle and increase their chances of another cardiac incident. On the other hand, people that are depressed already, may not be indulging in healthy eating and exercise which could contribute to them acquiring heart conditions. This, although relevant, is simply a contributing factor. The situation is seemingly more complicated that just lifestyle: depression is associated with dysregulation of the HPA axis (hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis). Studies indicated that the feedback loop of this axis is impaired in depressed individuals resulting in an increase in glucocorticoid production. This causes a cascade of events that lead to an increase in corticotropoid releasing hormone which acts in the brain to increase your stress response. More circulating norepinephrine and epinephrine act to increase heart rate and contractility which can predispose individuals to heart disease and increase their risk of cardiac incident. I could continue with the pathophysiology of it all (the research study is 17 pages long) but I will spare you!

Considering the unfortunate circumstance of living in dark, cold Canada in the month of February and knowing that there is an nice, tidy association with heart disease and depression, what is a girl like me to do?!

According to TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) there is a distinctive heart-mind connection. Balancing the heart-mind connection usually involves cooling the body with foods that are simple and nourishing: unrefined grains like wheat (germ) and brown rice will "cool" the heart and provide your body with much needed magnesium (a natural muscle relaxant that slightly dilates blood vessels) and B vitamins which mitigate stress. Mind-body techniques such as listening to uplifting music will induce a happier state of mind consequently interrupting the negative cascade of endocrine dominoes which eventually lead to heart pathology. Increasing serotonin by ingesting l-tryptophan-rich miso soup on a nightly basis will help you balance mood and avoid the winter blues that lead to seasonal depression. And if all this fails, pack up and move to a sunny, hot destination spot and fall in love over and over again to keep the positive endorphins flowing ... or just run a marathon daily, which will produce the same endorphin rush (despite the eventual need for bilateral knee replacement surgery). Regardless of which you choose, make sure you have fun doing it!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

A Poke Worth Talking About!

Last weekend was a cold one in my part of the world: a perfect weekend to spend inside on a romantic getaway with one of my favorite men. Have I peaked your interest? Well, let me start by saying that, as difficult as it might be to believe, I did not end up on a romantic getaway with hot Dr. Andre La Gerche (see Breaking the Athlete's Heart)! Instead, I spent a 4-day weekend with Dr. Paul Saunders with a whole lot of poking that was absent of orgasm but full of satisfaction. Yes people, I survived the parenteral therapy course: the first step to qualifying me as an ND that practices IV therapy.

This may not seem very exciting to you: the prospect of spending a weekend with 16 of my colleagues taking turns sticking each other with intravenous lines, but .. for a geek like me .. it was a very engaging weekend that left me feeling stimulated with new information and buzzing with the fresh energy of IV nutrients coursing through my veins.

So, how does this translate into information that you guys, as active, health-seeking individuals can appreciate? Well, for those of you who are athletes, IV therapy is a beautiful way to increase your energy and improve your recovery post workout! There are a variety of substances that are used in IV therapy: from nutrients, to herbs, to amino acids, to vitamins along with a variety of reasons that a Naturopathic Doctor might prescribe IV therapy including athletic support, asthma, migraines, cancer support, chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia and Parkinson's. From my experience, both as a recipient and a practitioner who has witnessed the benefits of IV, this therapy is a beautiful adjunct (and occasionally sole) treatment for both healthy and compromised individuals.

A weekend of treatment (and a number of extra holes in my arms) left me feeling somewhat bruised but with an energy that I have not experienced in quite a while. A little bounce in my step is always welcome, especially a few weeks before having to run a half marathon (which I am not entirely prepared for)! And speaking of the half marathon, here is Tip #2:

Find a licensed Naturopathic Doctor who is board certified for IV therapy and get hooked up for a few treatments. The practitioner will create a cocktail appropriate for your constitution, concerns and athletic goals. Get ready to run fast and recover well!! Please take note: if you are competing in elite or pro categories, ANY IV administration is banned - it does not matter WHAT substances you are actually administering, the simple act of administering via blood infusion, is banned in higher level competition .. so save IV for your off season!

Considering my lack of training, I may have to run the half marathon with an IV line sticking out of my arm. This may increase my risk of having a little fall and breaking a wrist or leg. However, since beating my trash-talking colleague is of utmost importance, I believe the risk may be warranted!