This week, we were feeling a little more stressed than usual, due to a busy month. So we decided that now was the perfect time to refocus, and what better way to achieve this than with a hot yoga class. We’ve been curious about the hot yoga fitness trend, so now seemed the perfect time to give it a try.
Warning, hot yoga is not for beginners or at least that’s what we believed. The workout was intense. The room was 37C and the workout lasted 90 min. We came into the class with a good understanding of yoga basics. We have all practiced yoga on and off for the past few years and that helped to minimize the intimidation factor. We also followed the pre-class instructions that included staying hydrated and having an empty stomach before the class. It was also helpful that our instructor took the time to explain what we could expect as hot yoga novices and what we should do if we started to feel overwhelmed by the heat.
We absolutely loved the class! The heat was just as intense as we expected, and as beginners it was important that we took breaks and hydrated often. After class, we felt refreshed, both physically and mentally. The heat helped us to achieve our poses and improve our breathing techniques. The class was also held in complete silence with the exception of the instructor’s directions. If you had a question, or needed help, you had to raise your hand and whisper. It was incredibly peaceful and relaxing to be totally unplugged for over an hour. When was the last time you can remember having no distractions or noise for that length of time?
Experts agree that the main benefit of practicing hot yoga is the detoxification from the sweat (boy do you sweat). Sweating helps to flush out toxins in the body. The heat works to elevate your heart rate which makes the body work harder so you can burn up to 477 calories in a 90 minute session. Hot yoga also helps you to develop your strength and flexibility while getting a great cardiovascular workout. All in all, it was a fantastic work out, and a refreshing change.
We’re celebrating World Health Day today (even though it’s not until April 7th), and this year the focus of the World Health Organization is high blood pressure.
Did you know that sleep can affect your blood pressure? Bet you didn’t!
We’ve said it before; many of us just don’t prioritize sleep as an important part of healthy living. Getting a good night’s sleep is often sacrificed when we get busy. Whether it’s an early start to the day, an evening out with friends, a sick child or spouse, or even a favourite TV show, many of us find it difficult to get the recommended 7-8 hours of sleep.
So now there is another reason to make sleep a priority, it’s good for your heart. When you sleep, your heart rate slows down and your blood pressure drops, for a significant period of time. This lowers the stress on your body, and allows you to wake-up better able to manage any new stress.
Sleeping for less than the recommended 7-8 hours can lead to sleep deprivation, which keeps your body in a state of alert. Your body then increases production of stress hormones and cortisol to help you stay awake. This then raises your blood pressure which is a significant factor for a heart attack or stroke.
So please keep your heart in mind the next time you think of skipping that extra hour of sleep. Your heart will thank you.
Find yourself dozing off during the day? Struggling to get out of bed in the morning? It could be that you’re simply not getting enough quality sleep. Here are some tips I’ve found helpful for getting a good night’s sleep.
- Get active. Regular exercise may help reset your internal clock for a healthier sleep/wake pattern. You can try something as simple as going for a walk after dinner, or some yoga. Just be sure to give yourself plenty of time between exercise and bedtime to recover.
- Unplug. Turn off the TV and any other electronic devices before you get into bed. Avoid the late-night news or any violent shows that might be unsettling. The blue lights from computer monitors, smartphones and any other electric devices can also disturb sleep/wake cycles.
- Drink up. Avoid caffeinated drinks such as coffee and soda before bedtime. Instead, opt for some warm milk. Not only is it delicious and soothing, but the tryptophan in milk will help you feel sleepy.
- De-stress. If you find you can’t shut your brain off when your head hits the pillow, you’ll never get the rest you need. Make a list of what needs to get done the next day, before you go to bed. This will clear your mind and allows you to “turn off” and fall asleep.
- Take time. Give yourself an hour to get ready for bed. Develop a soothing routine that lets your body know it’s time to get some shut-eye. Dim the lights, take a warm bath and turn down the thermostat.
- An extra step. If you’re still struggling to get fall asleep or stay asleep, after trying these tips consider a non-prescription sleep aid like femMED SLEEP. It’s a combination of herbs which are specially formulated to help you fall asleep sooner and stay asleep longer.
Developing healthy sleeping habits is just as important for your long term health as eating well and exercising, something many of us don’t realize. Sleep is the time that our bodies use to recharge and rebuild. A good night’s sleep will help you stay mentally alert during the day, improve your memory and even lower stress. Try these tips and you’ll be amazed how at much better you’ll feel, both mentally and physically.
In October, I set the ambitious goal to overhaul my lifestyle and start making healthy choices. I decided to go big and signed up for the Toronto Tough Mudder in May 2013. I wanted to have a goal that would keep me motivated throughout the year. I was inspired when I went last year to support my friends who ran the course. They too, had made the decision to make their health a priority and their results were inspiring. I was able to see exactly how their motivation paid off and allowed them to accomplish their goals.
The event is a 10-12 mile obstacle course designed by the British Special Forces to tests your speed, stamina and strength. What I liked most about this event, is the emphasis on completing the course and supporting those around you, even if they aren’t on your team. Unlike a standard 5k run or marathon, improving your time and performance is not the overall goal. The goal is to test your abilities, get healthy, have fun, meet new people and enjoy the experience. There is even a BBQ with live music, for participants and spectators at the finish line.
In order to meet the demanding physical requirements for the event, I knew I was going to need support. This is where working with my teammates came in handy. We ran together regularly to help build stamina and took advantage of the outdoors to help with strength training. For example, it was easy to use the monkey bars in the local playground to practice pull-ups and chin-ups. Running up and down an outdoor staircase helped work our gluts and hamstrings. We also incorporated push-ups, squats and crunches helping us create a full body workout. They only items we needed to bring with us were a timer and plenty of water.
Having a goal and a support system has been essential to my success. Not only do I feel better, but I have lost weight and made new friends. The Tough Mudder is now only two months away and I can’t wait to cross that finish line.
On Wednesday evening, we attended the second seminar hosted by Dr. Jennifer Pearlman at her clinic. The focus of the discussion was on the physical effects of aging on your appearance and the steps you can take to age in a graceful and healthy way.
The discussion highlighted how the aging process affects us physically over time and how hormonal shifts in our body such as menopause, can dramatically affect our appearance. The key takeaway was that it’s incredibly important to take care of your health, since it directly translates to your appearance.
- Easy tips for skin care that we took home were:
- The importance of drinking lots of water and eating plenty of colourful vegetables with high levels of antioxidants.
- Always protect your skin from the sun throughout the entire year, not just the summer months!.
- Manage your daily stress levels.
- Quit smoking. Smoking can age your skin prematurely by up to 10 years, which means if you’re in your fifties there’s a good chance you’ll be looking closer to your sixties!
Dr. Pearlman and her staff also covered a variety of topics and options on how to look youthful, but not over done with cosmetics. She introduced us to a new line of make-up developed by celebrity make-up artist Michael Marcus. The goal of this new line of make-up is to help women age gracefully while looking their best. All of the products in this line are paraben free (paraben is a chemical preserve found in many beauty products such as shampoos, shaving gels and make-up) and all production is environmentally responsible. There was even a make-up artist on hand who demonstrated the benefits of each product and provided make-overs! We loved that each of the colourful lipsticks, eye shadows and foundations were named after women who were a source of inspiration to the line’s creator.
After Dr.Pearlman’s presentation, many of the attendees shared their own personal stories and anecdotes, some funny and some serious, on how they began to noticed the physical changes in their appearance as they aged. They shared what beauty solutions they had all tried in the past and what was working for them now. It was enlightening to hear from women of all ages in different stages of their lives, comment on their own personal experience with aging, and how they all found their own way to age gracefully.