Category Archives: Health

Eating Clean on Vacation

By Paige Aziz

Eating clean on vacation

Whether road tripping around the country or jet setting to exciting places, it can be challenging to stay on track when it comes to maintaining your clean eating lifestyle. Check out these tips to help make it easier to eat clean on the go.

A room with a kitchenette

By choosing a room with a kitchenette you can better control the food you and your family are eating. In some parts of Canada and the US, Halal restaurants are not available, so this way you can still manage to eat to your preferences. Even if you cannot afford a room with a kitchenette, as long as it has a refrigerator you can store healthy foods such as fresh fruits and vegetables, cottage cheese, yogurt, roasted chickpeas, peanut butter, whole grain bread, sliced chicken or turkey, and mixed nuts.


Before you hit the road jump on Google Maps and find hotels that are near grocery stores, gyms, or other important places ghat can help you stay true to your healthy lifestyle. That way even if you don’t rent a car you can walk to the store to pick up healthy food.

Restaurant menus 

You are going to eat out, you are on vacation after all! Many restaurants now have their menus online, so check them out and find restaurants with a menu that fit your needs. If the restaurant doesn’t have online menus, you can ask them to send one to your hotel for when you arrive so that way you can plan before you head out.

Pack a snack

Don’t be caught when hunger hits, always be prepared by packing easy healthy snacks to carry in your bag to tide you over until mealtime. Depending on your activities this could involve investing in a cooler bag to carry your snacks and water. This will help prevent over eating when you finally get to the restaurant and keep you satisfied (and sane) should you be experiencing delays, especially if you have young travelers in your sight-seeing group.


Portion your plate

Be mindful of how much you’re eating by portioning your plate. On your plate aim for 1-2 fistfuls of veggies, 1-2 palm size portions of protein (meat, fish, poultry etc.), a thumb of healthy fats (cheese, olive oil, ect.) and 1-2 cupped hands of grains. For larger servings have them bag the rest of it up for later. In addition do not be afraid to ask for modifications, more veggies, or less potatoes, or for sauces and dressings on the side.

Bring supplements

For some, they may find themselves too busy to get a meal in, or be stuck on a long drive between stops. Bringing a protein supplement can help increase your dietary energy and see you through until your next menu. If getting adequate vegetable intake will be a challenge, you can also consider a powdered vegetable supplement such as Greens+. These are ok solutions for short term challenges and are not meant to replace fruits and vegetables in the long term. It is always better to eat real food.

Relax and Have Fun

Remember, you are on vacation! So don’t stress out over food, enjoy it! Plan and be prepared but also plan for some free’ mealtimes where you can relax, enjoy and savour the food and the company of people you are with, and the beautiful place you find yourself in!

About the author:

Paige Aziz has been in the fitness industry for a decade, specializing in helping women achieve their health and fitness goals. She offers 1-on-1 training in her private studio, small group boot camps, and online training and nutrition coaching. Her Lifestyle Studio is in Lower Sackville, Nova Scotia. You can also reach her on her Facebook page here.

Before You Travel: Safety Tips and Checklists

By Rahila Ovais

 Travel Safety Tips and Checklists

Travellers’ Diarrhea - What You Need to Know

Travellers to developing countries in Latin America, Asia and Africa may develop diarrhea during their trip. It is almost always caused by contaminated food or water. It usually gets better on its own in a few days without causing serious problems.

 Tips to prevent diarrhea while travelling:

Pack a thermometer and medicine to treat diarrhea. Talk to your pharmacist about what medicine is right for you.

Before you travel, talk to your doctor about antibiotics. Many people bring antibiotics with them in case they get seriously ill. A few people need to take medication to prevent diarrhea from happening at all.

Be careful when you eat and drink. Remember the saying, “Boil it, cook it, peel it or forget it.”

Only eat or drink things that are not likely to make you sick. These include:

  • Piping hot foods
  • Fruit you peel yourself
  • Cooked vegetables
  • Carbonated beverages (with no ice cubes)
  • Boiled or bottled water
  • Pasteurized milk (properly stored)

 Avoid foods and habits that will likely make you sick. These include:

  • Buffet foods at room temperature
  • Fresh soft cheese
  • Food from street vendors
  • Cold salads
  • Raw vegetables
  • Uncooked/cold sauces
  • Unpeeled fruit
  • Raspberries, strawberries, watermelon
  • Ice cubes
  • Undercooked meat or fish
  • Shellfish
  • Large reef fish such as snapper, barracuda, grouper, jack and Moray eel
  • Custard, mousse, mayonnaise and hollandaise sauce
  •  Wash your hands, especially before you eat.
  • Avoid swallowing water while swimming.
  • Do NOT drink local water.
  • Drink bottled beverages from their original containers. Make sure the cap is properly sealed.
  • Talk to your pharmacist about what to do if you have diarrhea while you are away.

 Motion Sickness — What You Need to Know

 Before you travel:

  • Avoid eating a large meal within 3 hours of travel.
  • Avoid dairy products and foods high in salt, calories or protein (such as meat or nuts).

While you are travelling:

  • Try to get cool fresh air by opening air vents or using air conditioning.
  • Avoid alcohol, smoking and disagreeable odours.
  • Avoid reading and watching videos.
  • Focus on the horizon or an object that does not move outside the car, plane or boat.
  • Try pressing your head into the headrest.
  • On a boat, try to stay in the middle.
  • In a vehicle (such as a car or truck), sit in the front seat with a clear forward view.
  • If possible, drive the vehicle rather than be a passenger.

 Alternative remedies

Some people find that alternative remedies help them. However, there is no proof that they work. Try the suggestions above before trying alternative remedies, such as these:

  • Eat or drink any of the following: apricot juice, carrot juice, unroasted pumpkin or squash seeds, parsley, peppermint tea.
  • Try ginger root. This comes as candied ginger, powder, capsules and tea.
  • Try acupressure wristbands.

Anti-nausea medication

Your pharmacist or doctor may recommend medication for motion sickness. Here are some things you should know about these medications:

  • Do NOT take anti-nausea medication with alcohol.
  • Most anti-nausea medications can cause drowsiness. Do NOT drive a car or operate dangerous machinery while you are taking these medications. They are as dangerous as alcohol when driving.
  • If you need to be alert, talk to your pharmacist or doctor about taking a medication that does not cause much drowsiness.
  • Anti-nausea medications can cause the following side effects: dizziness, shakiness, anxiety, blurred vision and constipation. Ask the pharmacist if your medication will cause side effects.
  • When children take anti-nausea medications, they sometimes get very excitable instead of drowsy. Be sure to test the medication on the child before you travel.

Travel Medicine Checklist


  • If recommended, destination-specific medication (talk to your Physician)
  • Any prescription or over-the-counter drugs normally used at home
  • Make sure that prescription medications are stored in their original containers from your pharmacy with the name of the person on the label. Pack these in your carry-on luggage.
  • 1% hydrocortisone cream
  • Allergy medication
  • Antacids
  • Antibacterial and antifungal spray/cream
  • Anti-diarrheal medication
  • Cold and flu medication
  • Laxatives
  • Pain and fever medication
  • Syringes or needles for medical use (if needed)
  • Anti-motion sickness medication:

    Give a dose to your kids an hour before boarding your flight, there will be no mishaps on board the flight and they will sleep well. When children take anti-nausea medications, they sometimes get very excitable instead of drowsy.  Be sure to test the medication on the child before you travel.

First Aid Kit

  • Adhesive bandages
  • Adhesive tape
  • Alcohol-based hand sanitizer (pack a few travel-size containers in each travelers’ carry-on luggage)
  • Antiseptic wound cleanser
  • Blister pads
  • Disposable latex or vinyl gloves
  • Gauze
  • Packets of oral rehydration salts
  • Safety pins and scissors (DO NOT pack scissors in your carry-on luggage)
  • Tensor bandages
  • Thermometer
  • Tweezers

 Other Essentials

  •  Sunscreen
  • After-sun lotion (for minor sun burns)
  • Insect repellent (containing DEET)
  • Aloe gel
  • Ear plugs (to be packed in your carry-on luggage, helpful for take-off and landing)
  • Extra pair of glasses or contacts (or copy of prescription)
  • Mosquito net
  • Saline eye drops
  • Water purification filter or tablets
  • Emergency blanket (if travelling by road)
  • Mobile phone chargers

Contact Card

  • Name, address and phone number of a family member or friend in Canada
  • Name and phone number of your health care provider in Canada
  • Address and phone number of your accommodations at your destination
  • Address and phone number of hospitals or clinics at your destination
  • Address and phone number of the Canadian Embassy, Consulate or High Commission office in your destination country/countries (and Emergency Contact Card)
  • Emergency contact phone number from your travel health insurance provider
  • Proof of your insurance coverage
  • Copy of your immunization record
  • International Certificate of Vaccination or Prophylaxis, if required


Image: 123RF



Natural Remedies For Minor Ailments

By Rahila Ovais

Natural remedies for common ailments

It wasn’t that long ago when I was younger and I remember how my grandmother (dadi maa) would have a home remedy for everything from acne to sinus congestion. Whenever I was hit by a cold and sinus congestion, she would swiftly boil a pot of water, mix in a teaspoon of Vicks vaporub and then have me lean over it with a towel over my head to make a tent and let me inhale the steam. Then she would give me this special brew of tea before tucking me in to bed.  In the morning I would feel so much better as I could breathe through my nose again!

Today medical, nutrition and beauty specialists are also recommending the same old time granny cures for common ailments. Here are some of my tried, tested and true tips from my grandparents.


Eating one avocado a day as part of a healthy diet and lifestyle can help lower cholesterol as suggested by a new study.   Avocadoes contain 60% more potassium than bananas and are sodium and cholesterol-free. Avocadoes are higher in fat content however those are healthy fats when consumed moderately.


A recent study shows that eating blueberries daily might be helpful in lowering blood pressure in women with high blood pressure as blueberries contain high levels of antioxidants.


A spice used to enhance heat, color and flavor in our dishes contains high levels of capsaicin which is thought to have pain-relieving properties.


To temporarily soothe a toothache, place a clove between your affected teeth. This old-fashioned remedy really works.


From as long as I can remember my grandfather used to have a clove of garlic daily before breakfast. He died two months short of his 100th birthday without any serious illness except hypertension. His blood test results always surprised his family doctor.

Recent studies show that consuming fresh garlic has the power to regulate blood pressure as well as strengthens your immune system to fight against allergies, and viral infections like common cold.

natural remedies for common ailments


Ginger snaps or even fresh ginger is found to be effective for morning sickness during pregnancy. Ginger root has been used in Chines, Japanese and Indian medicine since the 1500s. Its oil is often used in digestive aids and cough suppressants.


‘…Honey, in it there is a cure for people.’ – Qur’an 16:69

Take a teaspoon of honey before bedtime to calm a nagging cough (do not give to children under 1 year of age).  Research shows that honey works better than any other over-the-counter cough suppressant for relieving children’s night-time cough.

Honey mixed in with warm water and consumed in divided doses is also very effective for diarrhea.


To cut a cold short, mix in juice of half a lemon and honey in warm water and sip two to three times a day.  Studies show that vitamin C taken before the onset of a cold shortens its duration and severity.

Olive Oil

Abu Huraira narrated that Allah’s messenger ( SAWS) said: “Use olive oil as food and as ointment, for it comes from a blessed tree.” (al-Tirmithi.)

Applying olive oil directly to irritated skin is the best natural moisturizer.

About the Author:

Rahila Ovais is a Pharmacy Technician working at the Ontario College of Pharmacists. A mother to four, she’s called Jeddah, KSA, where she was born and Karachi, Pakistan, where she was brought up, her homes before moving to Toronto twenty years ago. She is also a very opinionated person who has a hard time keeping her thoughts to herself.

Images: 123RF

M is for Migraine

 By Rahila Ovais


Migraines are painful throbbing headaches mainly affecting only one side of the head and often accompanied by nausea, vomiting, and sensitivity to light. Each migraine episode can last from three hours to three days. It may last even longer for some. The pain can be so debilitating at times that all you want to do is stay in a dark room.  By the end of a migraine episode most people feel drained.  The frequency of migraines varies from person to person. Some people may suffer a migraine 2 to 4 times a month while some may get a headache every few days or even just once or twice a year.

Migraines can first onset at adolescence and tend to be a life long condition for most.  Women are three times more susceptible to migraines than men.  About 80-90% of people who suffer with migraines have inherited it from one or both parents.

While the cause of migraine is often related to changes in the brain as well as to genetics, the exact causes of migraines are unknown.  What ever the exact cause, we know that migraine is often triggered by several factors such as stress, fatigue, bright lights, certain food and drinks, weather changes, and hormonal changes for women.

Signs and Symptoms:

The symptoms of migraine headaches can occur in various combinations and include:

  • A pounding or throbbing headache that often begins as a dull ache and develops into throbbing pain. The pain is usually aggravated by physical activity and can shift from one side of the head to the other, or it can affect the front of the head or feel like it’s affecting the whole head.
  • Sensitivity to light, noise, and odors
  • Nausea and vomiting, stomach upset, abdominal pain
  • Loss of appetite
  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness
  • Blurred vision

Pain Relief:

Over-the-counter (OTC)

OTC drugs are often effective pain relievers for some people with migraines. The main ingredients in pain-relieving medications are ibuprofen (for example, Motrin), aspirin, acetaminophen (Tylenol), and caffeine. Be cautious when taking over-the-counter pain-relieving medications because sometimes they can contribute to a headache or their overuse can cause rebound headaches or a dependency issue. If you are taking any OTC pain medication more than three times a week or daily, it’s time to see your doctor who can suggest prescription medications that may be more effective.

Anti-nausea drugs: Your doctor can prescribe medication to relieve the nausea that often accompanies migraines.

Abortive medicines (stop migraines): There are some special medications that if used at the first sign of a migraine, may stop the process that causes the headache pain. These medications can also stop the headache pain itself. By stopping the headache process, these drugs help prevent the symptoms of migraines, including pain, nausea, light-sensitivity, etc.

Preventive (prophylactic) medications: When the headaches are severe, occur more than two or three times a month and are significantly interfering with normal activities, your doctor may prescribe preventive medication. Preventive medications reduce the frequency and severity of the headaches and are generally taken on a regular, daily basis.

Alternative therapy

Acupuncture: Traditional Chinese practice involving tiny needles which are strategically inserted into skin to restore balance and energy. Studies show that acupuncture works best when combined with other traditional treatments such as acupressure (a non-invasive form of acupuncture)

Biofeedback: Also referred as “mind over migraine” involves relaxation techniques using special equipment to help you monitor and control muscle tension caused by stress.

Massage: A relaxing massage may help ease stress and tension. Getting regular massages may help in reducing the frequency of migraine attacks.

Relaxation Training: Deep breathing and progressive muscle relaxation can help in managing stress. Meditation and yoga has also been helpful for some.

Exercise: Regular cardio exercises have proven comparable to relaxation and medication.

Chiropractor: Although considered controversial, spinal manipulation by a chiropractor has proven comparable to any effective drug treatment.

Cognitive-behavioral therapy: Talk therapy works well when combined with other treatments.

Diet Changes: Certain foods such as aged cheese, MSG, chocolate and caffeine can be a trigger to your migraine. It helps to keep a journal of what you may have consumed before your migraine attack and avoid those triggers in your diet.

Supplements:  Some natural vitamins and mineral supplements such as Vitamin B2, Coenzyme Q10 and magnesium may help with the intensity and frequency of migraine.  It is very important to discuss with your doctor if you are adding any supplements to your therapy to avoid interactions with your other prescription medications.

Herbal medicine: Mixed research has shown feverfew to be beneficial in migraine prevention, however it should be used with great caution and you should always consult with your doctor if you are taking any other prescription medications.

Homeopathy:  Some people who suffer with migraines have reported complete cure with the help of homeopathic medicines.

Depending on your triggers, severity and frequency of migraine headache, you may have to try different treatment option or a combination of several options.  Migraines are often mis-diagnosed so it’s very important to consult your symptoms with your physician before any self-treatment.


About the Author:

Rahila Ovais is a Pharmacy Technician working at the Ontario College of Pharmacists. A mother to four, she’s called Jeddah, KSA, where she was born and Karachi, Pakistan, where she was brought up, her homes before moving to Toronto twenty years ago. She is also a very opinionated person who has a hard time keeping her thoughts to herself.


Spring Into Fitness

By Coach Paige


The snow is melting, the cold is abating, it is time to start celebrating by getting outside! After a season of being stuck indoors your body and mind is craving some fresh air, sunlight and green space.

Benefits of Green Spaces

‘Green space’, ‘urban greenery’, and ‘open space all refer to design and landscaping elements that allow neighbourhoods to improvement in recreation and aesthetics – this includes parks, trails, playgrounds, public plazas, public gardens and essentially any public area covered with trees, grass and shrubs.

There has been in recent years much research into the benefits that green spaces can provide including

  • Enhancing health by providing room to move and thus decreasing the rate of obesity and diabetes.  It has even been shown that by simply viewing green space there is a noticeable decrease in blood pressure and anxiety levels

  • Decreases stress and violence by invoking feelings of tranquility and reducing instances of aggression. Green spaces have also been known to help alleviate the stress and symptoms of a variety of mental health illnesses.

  • Improves concentrations, productivity and morale. Workers and students who  engage with green spaces tend to have a better ability to focus and are less likely to feel “burned out” due to the relaxation from mental fatigue which creates an overall happier work environment. Likewise in neighbourhoods with green spaces, neighbours tend to take a sense of pride in the space leading to less littering and greater community relationships.

  • Improvement in children’s cognitive abilities including and increase ability to concentrate, follow directions, complete tasks, problem solve and thing creativity while also alleviating symptoms of ADD/ADHD and inhibiting impulsive behaviour.

“knowing and experiencing nature makes us generally happier, healthier people”

(Humans and Nature: October 2013)

Get out in the Green

The best way to gain these benefits is to get outside, and there are many ways you can do this as a family or on your own.

  • Bring out the bikes: Biking is a great way to improve your fitness and soak up all that fresh air and sunshine. It also gives you a chance to teach your children about road safety and sustainable transportation.

  • Take a Hike: Go for a walk in nature, choose a hiking trail, pack some water, and appropriate clothing and marvel in the beauty of Allah’s (swt) creation.

  • Walk or Run: Do it for fun or do it for a charity event.  This is also a great way to renew your energy in the middle of your workday.

  • Game on: get outside and play, it can be as simple as tag, or a family game of kick the ball or recreational sports such as badminton, Frisbee, volleyball, soccer, softball, or basketball. Many cities have recreational leagues where you can play just for fun, or throw together some friend and family for a fun game.

  • Learn Golf: whether you hit the course or just the driving range golf is a great full body activity outside

  • Work on your Green Thumb: create a garden, not only is it excellent exercise it will allow you to create more green space as well as provide your family with healthy organic fruits and vegetables. Involve the kids to get them moving and teach them about sustainable food habits and healthy lifestyles.

  • Playground Workout: The kids are having fun and getting fit, you can too! Incline push up and tricep dips from the bench, pull ups on the monkey bars, 1 leg lunges with the other leg in the swing. You can get VERY creative with your workout while keeping it challenging and fun!


  • Outdoor boot camps:  depending on how the weather fairs in your part of the country, outdoor boot camps are beginning. This is a great way to get guidance and an extra push in your fitness goals as well as get social and meet new friends. There is a class for all levels and even classes for mom to do with baby in the stroller!

  • Stack it Up: If you are into intense workouts then this is a great one for outdoor arenas (provided all the ice is gone). You will run up one “stack” of stairs, over to the next set and then run down that “stack” until you have completed a certain time or number of stacks.

  • Picnic time: Go for a picnic with the family, pack a healthy lunch and there you can receive some of the wonderful relaxation benefits from being outside, as well as try picnic games such as horseshoes, bocce ball, or washer toss.

  • Spring Clean your Fitness Routine: If you have been working out using the same routine all winter – first Kuddos to you for sticking to it! Now is the time to switch it up, change your intervals or your weights, try a new class, join a fitness challenge or hire a trainer.

Spring is such a fantastic time especially after a long hard winter. Whatever activity you decide to try – do it with joy and excitement. You deserve to get outside and have some fun.

About the Author:

Coach Paige has been in the fitness industry for a decade, specializing in helping women achieve their health and fitness goals. She offers 1-on-1 training in her private studio, small group boot camps, and online training and nutrition coaching. Her Lifestyle Studio is in Lower Sackville, Nova Scotia. You can also reach her on her Facebook page here.

Hazards of Self-medication

By Amber Naureen

Hazards of Self-Medication

Prevention is better than cure but if cure is really needed then a sensible, correct and proper regimen must be considered. People generally avoid visiting clinics for common ailments and use Over The Counter (OTC) drugs – for which no prescription is needed – not realizing that commonly used drugs can also lead to  hazards  if use for longer period or in wrong quantities.  The response to drugs varies from individual to individual so it is not a good idea to use the same medication for the same medical problem for different individuals.

OTC Drugs 

Inappropriate use of an OTC drug for chronic or severe illness may worse the existing condition. Since an OTC version has a substantially lower amount of active ingredient in each dose, it cannot effectively cure a chronic condition. People who seek a medicine for a chronic disease must consult a physician before purchasing any OTC drugs. In such cases, drug use is beyond the normal boundaries of self-care and requires the advice of an expert.

A Common Mistake

The most common mistake made in selecting an OTC drug is neglecting its interaction with other drugs, or food or even with other dietary supplements. People don’t know that many OTC drugs and medicinal herbs can interact adversely with a wide range of drugs. Some of these interactions can be serious, interfering with the effectiveness of a drug or causing side effects. For instance, Aspirin, a common analgesic, can reduce the efficacy of the drugs that use in the treatment of severe heart failure (drugs like Capoten or Enalapril).

Antibiotic tetracycline may be ineffective if swallowed with milk or other products containing iron, calcium and magnesium. Always tell your doctor if you are using any multivitamin if he/she prescribes you an antibiotic.

The best way to reduce the risk of drug interactions is to ask your pharmacist to check for them. Additionally the doctor should be told about all the drugs being used, both prescription and OTC.

Overlapping Drugs

Another potential problem is drug overlap. OTC products used to treat different problems may contain the same active ingredient. Unless people read labels on everything they take, they can accidently overdose themselves. For example, a person who takes a sleep aid and a cold remedy, both of which contain diphenhydramine, may take double the dose considered safe.

Many products contain acetaminophen. A person who simultaneously takes two different products that contain acetaminophen- one for a headache and another for allergies or sinus problems may exceed recommended dosage.


Another serious problem is self-diagnosis which leads to wrong drug selection. For example heartburn, indigestion and sour stomach are a few of many terms used to describe digestive upset. Self-diagnosis of indigestion is risky because it causes vary from a minor dietary indiscretion to peptic ulcer disease or stomach cancer. Sometime symptoms of heart disease resemble acute indigestion. If symptoms last longer than 2 weeks, people should see their doctor.

Be More Cautious

It is very necessary to be careful while selecting an OTC medication for an infant, older patient and pregnant women. A child’s body responds to drugs differently as compared to an adult’s. The correct dosage selection for an infant is also very tricky, and medically it should be according to total body weight of the child, so never guess the dosage for infants. According to recent research, the effectiveness of cold and cough remedies is unproved, especially in children. So usage of such drug may expose the infants’ body to harmful effects and can be a waste of money.

Similarly older people are likely to have more disease and they tend to use more medications, making them more susceptible to side effects. Having no special instruction about older people on the labels of OTC drug may lead to more harmful adverse effects. For instance, most seniors frequently use analgesic or anti-inflammatory drug for arthritis, this may tend to develop bleeding peptic ulcers which is life threatening. Similarly antihistamine containing drugs (like cough and cold remedies, and sleep aid remedies) may cause blurred vision, light headedness, dry mouth, and difficulty with urination, constipation, and confusion in older people.

Also one have to be very cautious in selecting a common medication for pregnant and breast feeding mothers. Most drugs are likely to cross the placenta and may harm the fetus and also can transfer to the baby through breast milk. Women should avoid all kind of drugs including aspirin and non-potential vitamins during pregnancy and should consult their health care practioner before using any OTC regimen.

Have a safe and healthy life, every one.

About the author:

Amber Naureen is a trained Pharmacist from Karachi, Pakistan where she was also was in charge at the pharmacy of one of Pakistan’s leading hospitals.  Currently a resident of Brampton, she is enjoying her life as a homemaker, being mommy to her three adorable children.

Image: 123RF

Hale And Hearty, Exercise For A Healthy Heart

By Coach Paige 

Healthy Heart

In Canada, February is Heart and Stroke Awareness Month. During this month you will come across lots of information on recognizing the signs of heart disease and heart attack but prevention is the best medicine. So how do we enhance the health and longevity of our hearts?

Get Your Heart Pumping!

Exercise daily. If you are a beginner you can start with as little as 10 minutes a day. Choose a variety of exercises such as walking, swimming, biking or running to strengthen your heart and circulatory system. When your circulatory system becomes stronger it becomes more efficient at delivering oxygen and nutrients, which means your heart doesn’t have to work as hard. This extends to your daily life as well.

When your cardiovascular fitness improves, and you find you are no longer huffing and puffing after climbing a flight of stairs, it’s because your heart is not needed to work as hard to get you up the stairs because it is now stronger. Your heart is more energy efficient!

Strong Body – Strong Heart

Include some weight training in your exercise regime. Research shows that regular weight training can improve triglyceride counts, cholesterol levels, blood pressure, glucose dumbbells--exercise_19-106854metabolism and reduce body fat. In a study of 44,000 men, researchers at Harvard found that those who lifted weights for 30 minutes or more a week reduced their risk of heart disease by 23 percent. When your muscles are strong it makes it easier for you to lift grocery bags or carry your kids, which reduces the stress upon the heart as well – and don’t worry ladies, muscles will not make you look bulky or manly.

Eat Well


When you feed your body nutrient dense foods, you become stronger and healthier. Likewise, if you eat lots of high sugar, trans-fat laden treats, your body and your energy suffers. Fatty fish provide beneficial omega 3 which can help stabilize heart rhythms to prevent irregular heartbeats, lower cholesterol and triglycerides; and reduce inflammation in the arteries.

Choose a variety of colours when eating fruits and vegetables. Fruits and vegetables are high quality sources of fiber, which lowers cholesterol and helps reduce low-grade inflammation in our bodies. They also contain antioxidants, which counteract damage done by free radicals to arteries and help prevent plaque buildup in our arteries.

Oatmeal, oat bran, legumes, beans, and peas are foods which are rich in soluble fiber, the kind that reduces cholesterol by soaking it up so it’s flushed it out of the body as waste. Studies show that diets low in fat and rich in soluble fiber can reduce total cholesterol levels by 10 to 15 percent.

(Read more about foods for a healthy heart here.)

Embrace Your Stress

Some stress is actually healthy in life, especially if it involves things which bring deeper meaning to our life. Your perception of stress actually can be the defining factor in whether stress is helpful to your heart or harmful as explained in Kelly McGongial’s video; How to Make Stress Your Friend

In addition take time for self care – for Me time. Take time to relax or pamper yourself, this could be rising earlier than the kids to enjoy your coffee in silence or making time for your own workouts. It could be taking time to call your dear friend who you haven’t had the time to speak with lately, or reading your favorite book. These are also effective ways to help us cope with stress as opposed to turning to poor habits such as smoking, binge eating or intoxicants when we feel stress is a little too high or too much. Another method of self care and stress coping is prayer.

Connect With Allah

There have been numerous studies identifying that spirituality and spiritual practices can positively influence immune, cardiovascular (heart and blood vessels), hormonal, and nervous systems. In studying meditation, science has proven that regular practice can help reduce stress, blood pressure and improve various other health markers.

Our daily prayers five times a day are a form of meditation in which we create a stronger bond with Allah SWT and through Dhikr (remembrance) we also meditate on the beautiful aspects of Allah SWT.  These acts can bring deeper peace and health to our being. In the Quran we are reminded that being in remembrance of Allah SWT softens the heart…perhaps there is more meaning in this as there often is.  Aside from helping create great empathy, and love, a softened heart is a peaceful heart, and a peaceful heart is a healthy heart.

About the Author:

Coach Paige has been in the fitness industry for a decade, specializing in helping women achieve their health and fitness goals. She offers 1-on-1 training in her private studio, small group boot camps, and online training and nutrition coaching. Her Lifestyle Studio is in Lower Sackville, Nova Scotia. You can also reach her on her Facebook page here.

Dear Moms, You Deserve Some Time For Yourself

By Jasmine S Kaur

Self Care for Moms

Do you have a nice girl syndrome? Did you grow up in a culture where saying ‘No’ is a big ‘no-no’? Since you were a little girl were you taught and encouraged to be ‘nice? You were taught that nice girls don’t cry, don’t get angry and do as they are told. Nice girls learn how to agree and always look nice. While trying to please others, nice girls forget to love themselves.  As nice girls, it is easier to help others than to help themselves. Especially, once you have an additional crown of being ‘the mom’, you are preoccupied taking care of all around you and thus don’t have any time for yourself.

What can you, the nice girl, do as a mom to love themselves and have some self-time? Practice self-care. What is it really? Self-care builds self-esteem, self-respect, self-confidence and complete self-love for ourselves. Simply put, self-care is a powerful choice to willingly engage in the activities and behaviours that you know are good for you. It is participating in the behaviours you know you need for you and your health. For example; exercising, praying, making mindful food choices, reaching out for support as needed, stop comparing yourself or your children to others and just being YOU.

Loving yourself is the key to loving others. Love begins with you.

- Don Miguel Ruiz

If Mama Ain’t Happy, Nobody Ain’t Happy

You have heard the saying: If Mama Ain’t Happy, Nobody Ain’t Happy which explains if mom’s stressed or burnt out, everyone in the house suffers. Remind this to yourself every day and take good care of you. If you take an hour or two to yourself, for whatever nourishes you, the rest of the day (or week) will be easier and more fun. Your family will enjoy having an energetic and refreshed mom. By paying attention to your own needs, you’ll actually be better at meeting everyone else’s.

Create Healthy Habits

One of my very favorite things about teaching is helping people to create healthy habits. The point is that healthy habits make you feel great about yourself. You are in charge of caring for you. Everyone has a body that need taking care of – and not just every now and then. Routine has helped me to stay tuned in to my own and my body’s needs. Think of you as you would for your car; it requires maintenance and fuel to keep in good working order. You would never just let a flashing light on your dashboard go on without addressing it, right? Yet when you have a pain in your body, you tend to ignore it, expecting it to disappear by itself.

After several experiences and years of postpartum depression, I now practice self-care regularly, I now rest when I am tired, eat when I am hungry, and remind myself to breath. The repetition becomes like a meditation and I sing in joy loving myself, and my body falls into place making me feel the best and great.

Maintain a Good Relationship with YOU

Treat yourself the way you want to be treated. Notice the way you speak about yourself? Marriage or being a mother is not easy and requires work. Staying in a healthy relationship with yourself is similar. To feed my commitment, each day I take a loving action toward myself by keeping up my self-care as a priority. For example; take an aromatherapy bath, listen to my favorite music or positive talks, have a cup of tea and watch my favorite movie, read books, do some water painting, stitching, dancing and or sign up for different classes as an investment in myself.

Examples for practicing self-care and self-love for a week:

Day 1: Fall in love with yourself and book a ‘ME’ day for yourself filled with all activities that you enjoy and love.

Day 2: You already have a perfect body. Say it aloud and appreciate your healthy body.

Day 3: Cultivate a positive relationship with your mind and body.

Day 4: Buy yourself some flowers and pay attention to your own physical presentation today.

Day 5: Try to pay attention to what is special and lovable about you today.

Day 6: You deserve to be acknowledged for the inner and outer beauty you possess.

Day 7: Think for yourself first.

When you change the way you look at things, the thing you look at changes.

- Wayne Dyer

When we accept ourselves, the negative self-talk dissolves, and we fall into our natural state of happiness. Always remind yourself you are perfect, you are enough, you are invaluable and you are being the best mother.

If you are a typical nice girl and reading this right now, then you’re one step closer to being that person you deserve to be and start being yourSELF. Are you ready to learn how to feed yourself with loving, caring thoughts and take action with a commitment to love yourself and give your self-care a priority? If yes, email us at for more details on our upcoming workshops and information sessions.


About the author:

Jasmine S Kaur is a yogini, self-care expert, inspirational coach for mothers, speaker and equally a daughter, sister, wife, and mother of three precious children. She is the founder of self-care center,, busy but balanced womenpreneurs and owner of Aquarian Corporate Yoga. She practices strong self-care techniques and is proud to learn and teach them in her classes, workshops, one-on-one, events and conferences.


Image: 123RF

Choosing The Right Fitness Program

By Coach Paige

Choosing the right fitness program

There is an amazing variety of programs and exercise options out there, all claiming to be the BEST. However, the reality is that although they all have benefits and have stories of people who have gained benefits from them, there is no one size fits all fitness program. With so much variety, how do you decide which program is best for you?

What is Your Goal?

What you want to achieve is very important in deciding on a fitness program.  If you want to run a 5K Charity Run, then clearly you need a running program.  If you want to improve your strength, you will have to lift weights several times a week.  If you are looking to lose weight a combination of resistance training and cardio can get you there, and there are varying methods of achieving this however bodyweight circuits and interval training have been known to yield positive results.

The best goals are the ones we write down – the act of writing it on paper increases our commitment to achieving the gol.

Be S.M.A.R.T. about setting your goals by making them Specific, Measurable, Action-orientated, Realist, and Time-Bound.

Choosing the right fitness program

Where Are You Now?

When starting a new fitness regimen it is important to be realistic with where you are at this very moment.  Perhaps in university you were a star athlete but haven’t done much in terms of activity since then – and maybe that was 10 or 20 years ago. It is unrealistic to expect that you can perform to that level immediately. Realize that your lifestyle and body has changed. You may feel like a beginner again and that is OK. A beginner may also need some guidance so consider a personal trainer or a coach to get you started on the right path. The Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology recommends the average adult to accumulate about six hours of exercise a week.

Know that you can start small and work your way up. Small things like walking for 15 minutes a day add up and help you achieve your exercise goals.  The recommendations also do not tell you what you have to do, so if you prefer to play soccer rather than lift weights then be fast and furious on the pitch.

Where Do You Prefer To Be Active?

Not everyone loves going to the gym – and that is Ok, just find what works for you.

Do you like to socialize? Then a fitness class or boot camp might be your thing.

Do you prefer to be outdoors? Outdoor bootcamps, running clubs and sports could be for you.

Feel more comfortable alone? Workout videos or private training studios could be your solitude.

The options are endless, if you are not sure what you like, then give it a try to find out!

How Does It Make you Feel?

Whichever program you decide to do, it should meet these 3 requirements to make it successful.

It makes you Happy: You enjoy doing it; well maybe not 100% during the doing part – but afterwards it makes you feel amazing. If the program is really awesome, you feel happy about the workout.  In addition you are more likely to stick to something you enjoy, so above all choose do something you like, be it dance, sports, hiking, biking, yoga, parkour, kickboxing….whatever will help you stay active.

It makes you Healthy: Not only does your Doctor start giving you the thumbs up over improved lab reports, but you feel it. You have more energy, you are sick less often, and your body moves better allowing you to do the things you want to do in life.

It makes you feel great and look good: You feel more confident, you clothes fit well and comfortably, your eyes and skin glow, you hair shines (even if no one sees it), you radiate happiness and good health.

The best program for you is the program you will stick to and be consistent with.  With consistent activity and healthy behaviours you can achieve just about any goal. Always remember to check with your physician before beginning a new program, and to listen to your body during and after your workout.  If you find you are having more challenges, reach out to fitness or healthcare professionals to help guide you. Health and Fitness is more than just the ‘right program’ it is a daily decision to do what is best for your body, your mind, and your soul.


About the author:

Coach Paige has been in the fitness industry for a decade, specializing in helping women achieve their health and fitness goals. She offers 1-on-1 training in her private studio, small group boot camps, and online training and nutrition coaching. Her Lifestyle Studio is in Lower Sackville, Nova Scotia. You can also reach her on her Facebook page here

Images: 123RF

When Flow Overflows – Monthly Problems

By Dr. Madiha Masood


Being a woman essentially means having a considerable part of your life spent in the awkward days of menses. This is a necessity, whether we like it or not, but to some it is even more disturbing as they have irregular menstrual bleeding that might be accompanied with pain and extreme weakness.

Most of the time it is not just an apparent imbalance but a result of structural, hormonal and emotional disturbances occurring in the female body. Let’s take a look at each in detail in order to understand it better and manage it accordingly.

Menstrual bleeding is unique for every individual. Normal menstrual cycle is 21–35 days in duration, with bleeding lasting an average of 5-7 days. Deviations from this range is categorized as abnormal. We will be covering various menstrual irregularities in a series of articles here on