Inflammation Fighting Foods

Inflammation is a natural part of life – it’s the body’s way of trying to protect and heal itself when something is out of balance, but when inflammation becomes chronic we start to have problems and various diseases can occur.

Chronic inflammation is not fun. This is something I know well having experienced colitis, but inflammation is definitely not exclusive to the digestive tract (even if that is where it may originate for some people). In fact, inflammation can be at the root of everything from arthritis to asthma. 5 million Canadians suffer from a chronic inflammatory disease – that is a staggering number!

So how do we alleviate symptoms associated with inflammation? How do we help our body heal when we experience inflammation? Or better yet, how do we help prevent chronic inflammation in the first place?

I’m not saying that there’s a magic bullet solution here, but one of the ways we can feel better is through nutrition. What we put into our body is so important, and an anti-inflammatory diet has been linked with lowered levels of C-Reactive Proteins (a marker of inflammation).

So what does an anti-inflammatory diet include? Here’s a tip sheet to help you pick out some inflammatory fighting foods to incorporate into your diet:
FoodsthatbeatInflammation

Until next time,

Sam

Sources:

http://www.cihr-irsc.gc.ca/e/49032.html

http://www.naturalmedicinenewsletter.com/anti-inflammatory-diet.html

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7 Tips to Successfully Change Your Lifestyle

The other night I was sitting down eating a salad with homemade dressing before I went to the gym and it hit me just how much my life has changed over the past few months. I have always enjoyed cooking and had an interest in nutrition and health, but I have also had my fair share of hiccups and a couple of months ago, the idea of even making my own salad dressing seemed overwhelming to me.

Thinking of all of these changes that I have made recently made me realize that despite being overwhelmed initially, the transition has felt relatively smooth and sustainable, so I thought I would write a post on some things to keep in mind when making a big lifestyle change. If you find yourself in a similar situation as I was, I recommend the following things to keep in mind to try and make the transition to your new lifestyle as smooth as possible.

Do your research. Before I made any concrete plans of what my diet and lifestyle would look like, I did a lot of research. I read about different approaches to healing my body and my relationship with food; I read about the timelines associated with each approach; I read about other people’s experiences; cooking prep-time etc. The point here is that I read a lot and it gave me a fairly good idea of what to expect when I took the plunge. This really helped me feel mentally prepared to commit to making the changes.

Read!

Make a plan. I am not just talking about an overarching plan (although you need that too); I am talking about a plan for each week. I use an agenda and plan out my workouts and most of my meals for the week and it helps keep me on track.

Planner

Be flexible. I know this seems kind of counterintuitive since I just told you to make a plan, but even with a plan, things will change and you will have to go with the flow in order to be successful and fulfilled with your new lifestyle, which brings me to my next point…

Have a back up. Plan for your pitfalls. If you’ve tried to make a lifestyle change in the past and you didn’t maintain it, what happened? For me, one of my pitfalls is if I let myself get too hungry I will eat anything (embarrassing, but true), so my backup is a quick meal that I know can be done in no time (like a jam-packed salad).

Salad

Keep your fridge stocked. This is sort-of implied in the tip above, but it deserves it’s own paragraph. Trust me, being hungry and finding that there’s nothing in your pantry or fridge that will satisfy you is a HUGE bummer and can limit your chances of sustaining your new lifestyle.

Be willing to try new things and take baby steps. As part of my healing journey, I decided to eliminate processed foods, and this has meant that even something as simple as salad dressing, or granola bars, have to be made from scratch. Two months ago I felt so overwhelmed by the idea of making things from scratch, but it’s not nearly as hard as I thought. In fact, it’s been fun coming up with my own recipes.

Homemade Larabars

Show yourself some compassion. I already talked a lot about learning to love yourself, and self-compassion goes hand-in-hand. When you decide to make a lifestyle change, it’s important to recognize the extent of the change you are making. It is a journey, and you need to be patient. When I decided to make all of these changes, I knew it would be drastic, and I decided that I would start with my relationship with food, and once I felt strong enough I would reintroduce fitness back into my routine. I was patient with myself, and took my time adjusting to my new routines, and as a result, I now feel completely at-home in my lifestyle.

If you are facing some big lifestyle changes, I hope you can learn from some of my lessons and make lasting, fulfilling changes in your life. And, if you find yourself needing a little bit of extra support, you can always find it here.

Until next time,
Sam

Recipe of the Weekend: Turkey Burger with Pesto Sauce

Happy Saturday friends, and happy Spring!

I have been craving lighter foods lately, and one of the signature staples of BBQ season (which I keep telling myself is right around the corner)…burgers!

We aren’t quite at that BBQ time of year yet, but that didn’t stop me from craving a burger, so the other night, I whipped up a quick, but delicious burger recipe with an amazing pesto sauce to top it off.

The burger is delicious, but let’s face it – the pesto sauce totally makes this recipe.

Turkey Burger with Pesto Sauce

Burger (makes 8 patties):

  • 1 package ground turkey
  • Finely chopped onion slices (amount depends on your preference – I put about half of a small sweet onion)
  • 4 tablespoons garbanzo bean flour
  • 1 egg
  • Paprika (again, amount depends on your preference – I used about ½ tsp)
  • 1 tsp finely chopped garlic

Mix all ingredients in a large mixing bowl, scoop into ‘burger’ shapes (I used an ice-cream scoop…sounds weird, but hey, it works)

Cook using your method of choice: I fried these in a pan with coconut oil, but come spring and summer weather, hello barbeque!

Pesto:

  • Handful fresh basil
  • 1 tsp garlic
  • ½ tsp oregano
  • Olive oil (approx. 1 – 2 tbsp)
  • Salt (to taste)

Mix all ingredients in blender or food processor (I used a Magic Bullet) – add oil slowly until you reach your desired consistency.

Turkey Burger with pesto

Then voila, put your burger and your pesto on a bed of greens and you’ve got yourself an amazing dinner! And another great thing about these burgers – they are versatile – say hello to an amazing breakfast with your leftovers!

Breakfast with leftover burgers

Enjoy!

Are you excited for lighter Spring foods?

What are your favourite Spring staples?

Back to the Gym and Feeling Awesome – a Mishmash Post!

Well friends, I am so happy to tell you that I am finally feeling well enough to get back to the gym. No, scratch that, I am feeling amazing! Between the treatment that my doctor gave me, and the complete change-up of my diet, I am feeling SO MUCH BETTER. And that is exciting! So, this post is going to be a bit of a mishmash of things. One, I want to tell you about some of the things that are making me feel better, because even though I know my situation is somewhat unique, I am so sure that the lessons I am learning can help other people too! And, because it is so exciting to be back at the gym, I am also going to share a lower body workout with you.

Let’s start with what has been making me feel better – I’m not going to talk about the medication side of things because that is pretty self explanatory, but I’m going to talk about some of the other changes that I have been making that have made a HUGE difference in my recovery, but also in my life in general. Remember when I said that sometimes challenges are truly just opportunities? It has already proven so true for me in this situation.

So what are these big changes?

There is the obvious diet overhaul. This has made a huge difference in how I’m feeling. For the past three weeks I have been on an ‘elimination diet’ – for those of you who don’t know, this is just a very basic diet that contains only food that I know doesn’t hurt me (coincidentally, for me, this looks a lot like a modified Paleo approach). After 30 days, I can start adding in foods gradually to determine which foods my body can and cannot tolerate. I honestly do not feel rushed at all to start adding foods back in – I am feeling so strong and nourished right now that I haven’t even been missing other foods.

Source: Google Images

Source: Google Images

Now, this leads me to the other things that I have been changing in my life. This is not the first time that I have made changes to my diet, or tried to change my lifestyle. But, this is the first time it has felt easy, and balanced. The reason it seems so different this time is because all of the changes I am making have come from a place of self-love. This has been a long journey for me. In the past I would try to make changes that were motivated by something I didn’t like or accept about myself, and this time, I decided to make changes because I love myself as I am, and want to help myself feel even better. I know this is not the first time I’ve talked about it, but I cannot express just how important self-love and self-compassion truly are. When you decide to make a change in your life, doing it out of self-love makes it so much easier, and it helps make sure that you are making the changes for the right reasons! I could talk about this all day, but I did promise you a workout, so I will continue this rant in a future post!

Source: Pinterest

Source: Pinterest

As promised, here is the workout:

  • 3 x 10-12 squats
  • 3 x 10-12 deadlifts
  • 3 x 10-12 walking lunges with hand weights
  • 3 x 10-12 standing calf raises
  • 3 x 20 sumo touches (sit into sumo squat with a hand weight in each hand and alternate touching the floor behind each heel with your weights)
  • 3 x 10-12 seated leg extensions

I felt like Bambi learning to walk after this workout – it’s a good one! Give it a try!

Until next time,
Sam

The Opportunities that Come from Challenges

I want to start my post today by thanking you. In my last post I shared my health struggles with you, and I am so thankful for the support you gave me. Having some of you reach out to me was touching, and I cannot tell you how grateful I am.

Even though my health struggles have been challenging, knowing that I need to make some lifestyle changes to feel better, it is also a time of opportunity. I have been doing a lot of research over the past few months, and I realize that this is a chance for me to re-learn how to take care of myself and listen to my body. It seems like a strange concept at 23 years old, but I suppose it’s better late than never right??

Source: Pinterest

Source: Pinterest

All of the research that I have been doing has reignited my passion for nutrition and its impact on wellbeing. The more research I do, the more I want to learn. And the more I read about other people’s struggles, the more I am reminded that I am not alone in having to learn how to take care of my body. Even some of you who reached out to me after my last blog post are going through similar struggles, or have already gone through the same kind of struggle and learned how to help yourself. As a society we have so much information thrown at us, and so much of seems to be contradictory. So how do we really know the right approach to taking care of ourselves? My research has brought me to a realization: I want to learn as much as I can and create my own path to well-being, and I want to learn how to help other people do the same.

This realization led me to the decision to study nutrition on the side, and I have recently started taking online courses at the Canadian School of Natural Nutrition. I already love the courses I’m taking and am finding that I am learning a lot.

IMG_2070

I’m excited to see where this journey will take me, and what I will learn about myself in the process.

I want to hear from you!

Tell me about a time a challenge presented an opportunity for you.

Have you found your own way to well-being? What worked for you?

Until next time,

Sam

Honeymoon Recap – The Post that Almost Didn’t Happen

Cam and I are back from our honeymoon and boy was it a doozy!

I almost didn’t even write this post, because I was worried that it wouldn’t fit with the theme of this blog – joyful and whole. But, with some coaxing from my wonderful mother, and husband, I realized that the purpose of this blog is not to pretend that hardships don’t happen, but to find and share ways to be ‘joyful and whole’ despite life’s challenges, and perhaps even because of them. This blog is about overcoming the hurdles that are thrown at us and finding ways to be happy and true to ourselves even in the face of hardship. So, today’s post might have a bit of a different tone, but I have decided to be brave and give you a real dose of authenticity today in hopes that maybe even one person will read this and be reminded that hardships happen to all of us, in different forms, but you are never alone.

howthelightgetsin

Source: Google Images

Cam and I were incredibly excited for our honeymoon, but our excitement was not without hesitation. For the past two years I have been struggling with digestive complications which were getting progressively worse and were threatening to become debilitating, and Cam and I were worrying that the severity would be exacerbated on the trip.

To understand where we were coming from, I have to go back and explain the problems that having been plaguing me. What began as infrequent and minor digestive upsets during the spring of my final year of my undergrad degree, slowly progressed to frequent, horrible stomach pain and the inability to tolerate, well…food. I was finding myself tired constantly, having muscle aches and pains, dizzy spells, and frequent fevers. My doctor was of little help. Because I didn’t seem to have ‘textbook’ symptoms of any particular ailment, I felt as though my doctor decided early in the process that I must have been exaggerating my symptoms. Finally, after nearly two years of problems that were getting progressively worse, my doctor was convinced enough to order blood tests for me. My tests showed high C-reactive proteins which indicated that I was experiencing inflammation and I also had lower amounts of iron in my blood than before. These results lead to a visit to a specialist’s office and a scope.

When we left for our honeymoon Cam and I didn’t have my diagnosis yet. All that we knew were my symptoms and that my scope showed inflammation. And this is why we were nervous about our trip.

So, this brings me to our honeymoon. Our first three days were absolutely wonderful – everything we could have hoped for in our honeymoon. And then, to our surprise, Cam got sick. We had been so fixated on my health issues that it had not occurred to either of us that Cam would get sick; but he did, and I was afraid. I had never seen Cam so sick and the added stress of being in a foreign country where the first language is not English was too much of a stress for me. I took Cam to the hospital and he was given an IV to rehydrate him after being so sick, and luckily, he was better almost instantly. Unfortunately, by the time he was better, I had already stressed myself into a major flare up. Within only a few days, I was so sick that I had lost 10 pounds and became severely dehydrated. I too had to go to the hospital and was immediately put on an IV treatment. Unfortunately, after my hospital treatment, I was not better. We returned to the resort and spent our last night in Cuba wishing for the moment we could leave and go back home.

I knew that the journey back home would not be fun. I woke up the morning of our flight feeling weak and none of my symptoms had subsided. The idea of our bus ride, not knowing if the bus would have a bathroom; the idea of having to wait in lines at the airport; the idea of the portions of the plane ride where we would not be allowed to leave our seats to use the washroom; the idea of our car ride from Toronto to Peterborough, all created humiliating scenarios in my head. Fortunately, the only thing that sounded worse than all of the scenes was the idea of being away from home for another day, so we left Cuba, on-schedule. Despite -40 weather and high winds, we arrived safely in Canada, only to find ourselves stuck on the tarmac for nearly 2 hours while waiting for a gate that wasn’t frozen. We didn’t care; we were just so relieved to be home.

Unfortunately, coming back to Canada was not the end of my troubles. After being terribly ill for another two days, I found myself in the hospital again. Although I wasn’t thrilled to be there, I was thankful to be in a hospital in Canada. Don’t get me wrong, I am very grateful for the care I received in the hospital in Cuba, but there is no denying that Cuban hospitals and Canadian hospitals are not the same.

Then, on Wednesday, I met with the specialist again and finally received my diagnosis. As it turns out, I have had an infection for a long time that has now caused erosion of my colon; and at this point, though I have been told that I should see some healing with treatment and dietary adjustments, I do not know if I will ever see a full recovery. So, if you are reading this and you are experiencing problems that your doctor is not taking as seriously as you think they should be, I implore you, keep fighting for your health. There was a period where I started to question myself, and started to wonder if my doctor was right to question me, but if I had given up and not listened to my body, the damage in my intestines would have continued to get worse and worse. So, if there is anything that I hope you get out of this post, it is this: never stop being your own advocate. You know your body, and if something is wrong, make sure that you do not take ‘no’ for an answer.

This blog is about the wonderful little things that happen each day, but I have to admit that it is hard to think about the positives when you are too weak, too nauseous, and in too much pain to even get yourself out of bed. But, what I will say is that even in that awful state, there was one thing that I was immensely grateful for: the incredible people around me. The Sunwing representative and hotel manager who both personally ensured that we received the treatment we needed, the doctors who treated me, our wonderful families who were prepared to help us in whatever way we needed when we got home, and my amazing husband who got me through that awful time. He advocated for me with the doctors, he worked with the hotel staff to make sure I got everything I needed, he comforted me when I was scared and in pain, he literally lifted me out of bed when I couldn’t get myself up, and all after he himself had been very ill only a few days before.

We all have struggles; they are inevitable, but how we overcome them is what matters, and sometimes we need to rely on the generosity of those around us to help us through these tough times.

smoothsea

Source: Google Images

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The view from our first three days