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My 5 Favourite Health & Wellness Apps

The 5 Health and Wellness apps that should be on every woman's smartphone

Instagram, Twitter, and 1010! (best game ever!) are arguably the most used apps on my smartphone. But considering the leaps and strides that have been made in the tech field (especially the health stream), it’s nice to have some more ‘serious’ apps balance out the fluff. Here’s a list of health and wellness apps that I use most often:

P Tracker Lite. I use this convenient app on a monthly basis to track my period. Yes, I know when my period generally starts – but I have the option of tracking symptoms (ie. migraines, moodiness, tenderness) as well as the characteristics of the actual flow (which becomes very interesting when using a DivaCup). Moreover, it gives you the average length of your cycle, as well as an estimate of when you’re fertile and ovulating. I’ve been using this app for about 2 years now and I love it. From a naturopathic perspective it’s a great learning tool, because so many naturopathic doctors who focus on women’s health ask about the menstrual cycle – and it helps engage and empower women to ask and learn more about their cycle.

Nike Training. I’ve written about my love for this app before. I’m still in love with it. Essentially when I’m not working, I’ll put on a movie or watch TV and workout at the same time. Nike’s workouts range by levels, goal, length, and equipment. Plus you can also create your own program!

Skin Deep. This app was developed by the Environmental Working Group. When you enter in a product’s name or scan its barcode it consults its cosmetics database to determine it’s rating. The app will tell you about any health concerns (cancer, developmental/reprotoxicity, allergy), as well as rank the ingredients by hazard (high, moderate, and low). When I’m out shopping for cosmetics, I typically consult this app when I don’t recognize certain ingredients. Some Canadian products are not on this database, which is something to keep in mind.

Health.  This app came pre-installed on my iPhone. I only use this app for the pedometer (although it does have many other features that presumably sync with the Apple Watch). When I was in Europe, there was one day where my partner and I walked 25km – so naturally for the rest of our trip we would guess how much we walked at the end of the day. Obviously this app wouldn’t be very useful if your phone remains stationary for most of the day (which may be an indication that you should move more), but I’ve found it helpful on the days when I’m out and about.

Flipp. My mom introduced me to this great app! This is a grocery app for those of you who like to price match at the check-out line. What I like to do is plan my meals for the week, determine which ingredients I need to purchase, and enter those into the app – where it brings up various grocery stores that have the same product and the cost. The Superstore near my house allows for price matching, so I simply show them the cheaper price, and they match it. It’s a fantastic way to save money, and it makes eating healthy more attainable.

 Are there any apps that I’m missing out on? What are some of your favourites?

‘Treat Yo Self’ to a Day Off

October 26, 2016

stress-fertilityRecently, I took a ‘Treat Yo Self’ day – but I didn’t spend the day blowing money on cashmere slippers or a diamond-encrusted tiara. Instead, I went to a hydrotherapy spa and plunged into freezing cold waters (a chilling wake up call)!

As I was relaxing in the dead sea salt pool, I was thinking about the last time I solely focused on one. single. thing. I’m a big advocate of self care, but frequently find myself checking my phone as I watch the latest movie, or have 8 tabs open when I’m reading an online article. This may be a generational problem, where our thousand and one projects are leading to stress – no matter how much we ‘relax.’

Many of us have this ‘never-ending list’ mindset, and it’s making our internal body go crazy. I touched briefly on coffee & fatigue in my last article, and now I want to delve a little deeper.

STRESS & THE BODY

Stress makes us fat. When we experience something stressful, cortisol is one of the hormones that’s released to help transform carbs and fat for quick energy (helping us go, go go). When this immediate stress is over, cortisol lingers to help bring the body back into balance. It does this by increasing our appetite to replace the carbs and fat we should have burned while in fight or flight mode.

Constant stress (aka. our never-ending list) may lead to excessive eating – which can result in weight gain. Because there are a high number of cortisol receptors in the fat cells located in the abdominal area, any weight gain will typically accumulate there. Interestingly enough, cortisol can also stop our satiety hormone (which tells the body that it’s full), and can encourage over eating.

TAKE THE DAY OFF

This is where I tell you to skip the sugary snacks and eat more fruits and vegetables, right? Yes. But we also need to get to the bottom of the stress. I’m not advocating to up and quit your job – but perhaps it’s time to make use of one of your vacation days and rest your body and mind and really practice some good self care.

Taking ‘me’ time helps improve mental and physical health, allows us to be more available and present for our loved ones, increase our resilience, and help us achieve better success and performance.

I’ll keep on repeating one of my favourite quotes: you cannot serve from an empty vessel.  Your day off will help rejuvenate you (as long as you not spending it running errands and crossing things off your to-do list). And if you’re in need for more support when it comes to helping your body adapt to stress, visit me and I’ll create a plan based on your unique lifestyle and needs.

Treat yo self.

PS. For those of you interested, I spent the day at Body Blitz. I was fancy, and also opted for a glow treatment. 

How to Decrease Holiday Stress

December 14, 2015
holiday stress, toronto naturopath, naturopathic doctor toronto

One of my holiday traditions is to visit the Christmas Market at the Distillery District. It’s a beautiful place to be this season – especially with loved ones. But it’s impossible to avoid holiday stress here, as the crowds can be quite dense and parking can be incredibly sparse. That aside, I can appreciate everyone’s desire to enjoy the spirit of the season (even if it’s to capture the perfect instagram photo).

Breathe

The simplest way to activate the body’s relaxation response is through focused breathing. This will leave your body calm and relaxed. Deep breathing (by moving the diaphram) will increase the oxygen supply to your brain and stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system. So the next time you find yourself in a line-up, inhale for 4 seconds, hold for 4 seconds, exhale for 4 seconds and hold for 4 seconds. (This can also be used when you’re dealing with obnoxious questions from well-meaning family members!

All in moderation

Stress does a funny thing, because it can actually increase our appetite. Given that the best treats are often made this time of year, it’s easy to overindulge. This becomes a vicious cycle as gaining a few pounds can lead to more stress. A healthy solution: have protein-rich snacks on hand (mixed nuts and a clementine, or hummus and veggies) and eat fairly regularly (don’t go over 3 hours without eating). Also, while it’s unrealistic to avoid all those holiday treats remember the 80/20 rule – 80% healthy and 20% indulgence.

Move

Oftentimes it’s nice to bundle-up, get outside and take in the fresh air. High intensity exercise can actually raise cortisol levels, so elevate your holiday spirits with nourishing activities such as walking or yoga. If being the cold isn’t your cup of tea, download the NTC app or find a short video on YouTube to complete while holiday movies are playing the the background!

Being grateful

The simplest way to boost our mood and decrease stress is to remember and appreciate what we have. My favourite way to attract more positive energy into our lives is to write down 3 things that I’m grateful for each day.

Self Care

The holidays usually have us thinking about other people, so it’s very common to not think of ourselves. Whether it be a massage, an at home Epsom-salt bath, or even a good book, it’s important to have ‘me’ time. But sometimes self care isn’t about indulging in a bath. Self care can include letting things go – whether it’s working through negative thoughts keep popping up, finally breaking away from a toxic friendship, or saying ‘no’ to commitments that don’t excite you. Check out this great article to learn more. 

Final Thoughts

Not everyone loves the holiday season, and if this might apply to you – don’t hesitate to reach out for support. Whether it be with friends, or even a health professional.