Avoiding Those Pesky ‘Winter Blues’

One of the major perks of living in Vancouver is the amazing summer weather. While other parts of North America are battling the blistering heat and swamp-like stickiness, Vancouverites are smiling in the pleasantly warm and humidity-free summer months. As you can imagine, this has some amazing side effects, as we find any excuse to get outside and run, hike, and play in the many local parks and beaches to maintain our summertime fitness routines. Although the winter doesn’t bring with it quite the frigid temperatures of the east coast, the dreaded dark and gloomy winter days start to roll in come December.

In an effort to battle the typical ‘gloom and doom’ that hits me like clockwork each winter, this year I have decided I need to be proactive and make some actual goals to help avoid slipping into the undesirable sluggish feels of winter. So, my main goal this winter is to focus on maintaining my activity levels through these darkest and coldest months. However, I realize this goal is far too vague - I will have to add focused details to create targets that are truly achievable. 

Personally, I know that as it gets cold outside, it’s far too easy for me to stay inside and become inactive. So, goal number one is to move some of my favorite outdoor summer activities indoors - that way I won’t lose the progress I worked so hard to achieve. This means moving my yoga practice from the beach to the studio, and from running on the seawall to the treadmill. Doing that three days per week sounds easy enough. To push myself outside of my ordinary comfort zone, I am also going to focus on getting active outdoors. At least one weekend per month, I will get outside by hiking, snowshoeing, skiing, or even camping all winter long! 

Even though I now have this two-part goal all set to go, I know I can do even better. Specifically, I think this is the perfect opportunity to up my game and take advantage of the new age technological tools that are out there. In order to hold myself accountable, I know I will have to be extra cognizant of just how active I really am, and do a better job of tracking my fitness progress so I can make adjustments and really hone in on my goals. To help me become more aware of my fitness patterns and habits, I decided to head over to Sport Chek and get the Fitbit Ionic. My main motivation was to get an activity tracker that would assist me by showing me just how active I really am.

One month later, I am here to check back in with my current progress. Overall, I would say it’s going pretty well! Sure, I don’t always make it to the gym three days each week, and some of my outdoor weekend activities are more strenuous than others. But what I have learned, though, is that tracking my actual activity levels has taught me how to be resilient, plan ahead, and compensate for stretches of low activity. Quantifying my activity levels with the Fitbit has allowed me to illuminate my weaknesses and show me what I'm doing well. However, one of my favorite features has nothing to do with activity, but is just as important. In addition to tracking your activity levels, it also analyzes how you sleep. At first, I didn’t give this much thought. By increasing my activity levels, though, getting adequate sleep was just as critically important to ensure that my body could rest and repair itself to avoid an old-fashioned overtraining burnout. By informing me of how much light sleep, deep sleep, and REM sleep I was getting, it has opened my eyes to the small details of maintaining a well-rounded healthy lifestyle, and that was a big eye-opener for me.

As the days start to get a little longer and a little brighter, I can happily say that up until this point, I have been successful in fighting off those pesky ‘winter blues’! Armed with general and detailed goals has allowed me to keep the main objective in mind, and target in on the daily activities that will keep me on track. As we cruise closer toward spring, I will check back in with my progress, and maybe even cater and tweak my goals toward some warmer activities to come!

5 Supplements that are Essential to Women’s Health

For those of us that don’t meticulously track all the nutrients contained in our daily diets, it’s likely that we lack some of the essential vitamins for optimal health. To take a step towards improving my overall health, I decided to supplement my daily food intake with some vitamins in order to deliver the missing nutrients my body needs to run on all cylinders. If you’re anything like me, the simple idea of going to the store and wading through the myriad of potential vitamins that might be right for you is an overwhelming task to say the least. After doing a bit of reading and research, I found there are 5 vitamins and supplements that are ideal for maintaining optimal women’s health. I have been taking this simple regimen for the past few weeks, and in addition to feeling the assurance of knowing that I am now delivering all the essential vitamins and nutrients that my body needs to thrive, I am also welcoming in some beneficial effects that I have taken note of on a day to day basis.

Although logic tells me to try to maintain a clean diet, often times I just can’t fight what must be my genetic propensity to be magnetized toward fatty foods and desserts. Since sticking to this regimen of vitamins and supplements, one of the major beneficial effects I notice is a decrease in my cravings for these rich, fatty foods. Maybe not surprisingly, this has likely triggered an improvement in my digestion as well as noticeably clearer skin. These synergistic effects didn’t just manifest at the physical surface level, though. My mood and energy levels have definitely improved, I am sleeping more soundly, and my immunity levels are holding strong through the sniffly, sneezy cold season. So, let’s get into the 5 essential vitamins and supplements that are rounding out my daily nutrition!

1. Multivitamin

What I’ve been taking: Sisu Supreme Multivitamin with Iron (also available without iron if your health needs require a reduction in iron).

In general, taking a multivitamin helps the body metabolize carbohydrates, fats, and proteins. In addition to these all-around benefits, I love this multivitamin because it includes a high dose of B vitamins, Ester-C, Vitamin K, Lutein, and antioxidant bioflavonoids which aid in daily stress, bone health, and eye health. Personally, I find that this versatile multivitamin really assists in curbing my sugar cravings, as well as reducing pms symptoms.

Other Forms: Fish, Eggs, Lean Meats, Whole Grains

2. Magnesium

What I’ve been taking: Sisu Calcium & Magnesium 2:1

Although magnesium might not garner as much attention or publicity as other more well-known vitamins or supplements, many troubling issues (including headaches and migraines) may be caused by insufficient magnesium levels. As someone who is constantly taxing my body and trying to squeeze out every last ounce of productivity, I have made sure to integrate magnesium into my daily regimen to reduce sore muscles and cramps, which may all be a result of low magnesium. A bonus? Taking it at night before bed helps promote a more restful sleep!

Other Forms: Avocados, Dark Chocolate, Bananas, Epsom Salt Bath

3. Omega-3

What I’ve been taking: Sisu Full Spectrum Omega

At this point, I’m sure everyone has heard the term “omega 3” from a friend, coworker, or in the media. Omega-3 fatty acids are essential for healthy skin, joints, and heart - three parts of the body that are undeniably critical for looking, feeling, and functioning at our absolute best. Omega-3 supplementation has been proven to reduce the risk factors for heart disease, such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol. And although you have many choices of where to purchase your personal omega-3 source, I find some serious peace of mind knowing that Sisu’s Full Spectrum Omega is from sustainably caught wild salmon, free from environmental contaminants like heavy metals, PCBs, and dioxins - ensuring that I’m getting all the major benefits without any unwanted and unforeseen toxins.

Other Forms: Fatty Fishes, Walnuts, Flax Seeds

4. Probiotics

What I’ve been taking: Sisu Integris 30

Some say our gut is the second brain, and taking probiotics helps our gut health. We have all been trained to tone and condition our muscles, but our gut plays the critical, yet often overlooked role of digesting and absorbing nutrients before they can be integrated into those working muscles. When our digestive tract is healthy, it’s able to eliminate harmful toxins, wastes, and bad bacteria, thus preventing diseases, boosting mood, and promoting overall health.

Other Forms: Kimchi, Sauerkraut, Miso, Kefir, Yogurt

5. Vitamin C

What I’ve been taking: Sisu Ester-C

Here’s one we’ve all heard of for boosting our immunity: Vitamin C! Personally, I take Vitamin C to not only help boost my immune system, but also aid in iron absorption and promote formation of collagen. Why did I choose Sisu? Sisu Ester-C is a patented form of Vitamin C buffered with calcium, which is proven to last up to 24 hours in the body, providing extended delivery of this critical vitamin.

Other Forms: Fruits and Vegetables

Bonus supplement

I also love taking Sisu Skin Hair and Nails to deliver added strength to these critical structures, which are often battered by busy hands, everyday wear and tear, and the harsh elements of mother nature.