Category Archives: Women’s Health

How to Survive the Winter Blues

 By: Elaf Salim

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It is very common to experience low energy levels during the winter season. It usually stems from sensitivity to the lack of sunlight in the winter’s “shorter” days which disrupts our internal body clock. Your mood may become cold and dark when your surroundings are dark and bleak. Especially for moms, it sometimes borders on a mild depression and they can feel down and unhappy. You know the feeling but here are a few suggestions to lift up your energy levels and help you survive the winter slump:

 1-      Enjoy Sunrise and Sunset

Despite the fact that shorter days are the main biological cause of the winter blues, you can find a blessing in disguise. You can enjoy watching the gorgeous sunrise and sunset every day. Watching sunrise and sunset and reflecting on nature’s beauty is so uplifting. Just remind yourself to look at the sky and notice the beauty around you.

2-      Drink plenty of water

Drinking enough water is so vital to lifting your energy levels. Replace coffee and sodas with pure water. It will bring your body to life and rejuvenate your energy. If you want something different,try infused waters… Delicious!

3-      Get enough sleep

Don’t cheat your body and try to get enough sleep. On average adults need 8 hours of sleep every day. Otherwise, you will feel exhausted, drained and grumpy. No one likes a grumpy mommy.

4-      Get some sunshine

Take advantage of bright sunny days and go out for a walk. Dress warmly for the cold weather. Experiencing more sun will help your brain produce chemicals to fight depression and sluggishness.

5-      Move your body

Regular exercise is the best to boost your energy. You may think it will consume your energy which is already low but on the contrary, exercise actually oxygenates your blood and fills your body with more energy.  Move around, jump up and down and stretch every now and then. Don’t surrender to the couch. The is a great way to get your kids moving too!

 6-      Eat high energy foods

Avoid the fast burning foods that your body quickly turns into sugar and are void of nutrition such as white starches and sugars. Instead, eat more greens and low burning carbs such as sweet potatoes and brown rice. Experiment with going gluten free for a while. Eliminating wheat from your diet drastically increases your energy levels (tested and proven by me). Eat smaller meals more frequently and try to enjoy the cooking process of healthy colorful snacks.

7-      Plan family nights

Take advantage of the extra time you have in winter to plan family fun nights. Watch some movies, play games and enjoy the company of your children and family members. Listen to uplifting music and have fun.

 8-      Indulge in learning and reflection

Consider spending some time reading books in bed every night. Allow yourself some home relaxing time where you get to enjoy solitude and indulge in self-reflection.

 9-      Think positively

Positive thoughts replenish your energy. Train your mind to think positively and be hopeful. Shift your perspective to the brighter side of everything. There is nothing better than praying and meditation to help you gain control over your thoughts. This will ultimately change your life.

What tips do you have for beating the winter blues? 

About the Author:  Elaf Selim is a Software Engineer, a Jewelry designer, a blogger and a Mom. She is the owner of SkiesAndSparkles.com, a handmade artisan jewelry shop. She loves photography, writing, historical architectures and nature in all forms.

Loneliness in a New Country; How to Cope Happily

By Saman Sayed

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“It’s too cold here, life is hard, I miss my family, I want to move back” , are the cries of most women when they first move to Canada. The change in culture, climate and lifestyle is hard to accept when you’re doing it alone.  Luckily Canada is home to people from all walks of life, so you’re bound to find the “comfortable fit”  of friends. Of course missing family and friends back home is inevitable, and certainly they cannot be replaced, but now it’s time to make new memories with some new friends. Here are a few ways for you to be the new social bug in town.

  • Take your little ones to the government funded mommy and toddler programs, like those held at the Public Libraries, Readiness and Early Childhood centers. You are sure to find a group of mommies who face the same daily struggles you do with kids.

  • Volunteer at your children’s school, the nearby mosque, hospital, or women’s center.

  • Join an activity , or register your kids for the amazing recreational sports programs offered at the community center. There are many mom n’ tot programs too.

  • Facebook has it all – from groups of Muslim mommies, to strong Muslim entrepreneur sisters

  • If the time is right, register at an educational institute for further education. No better place to make friends than school!

  • Attend to local community festivities such as the Eid dinners, masjid potlucks, or block parties.

  • Share your own culture and traditions with your community. Also, encourage your children to tell their friends and classmates about their favourite memories of their home country.

  • Keep in touch with friends and family back home. We have so many ways to make those thousands of kilometers feel much smaller. No matter the time difference you can find a few moments a day or week to send a message, a quick video or have a short chat with the ones you miss most.

There are many ways to cope with the sudden loneliness if you are willing. Canada is full of beautiful places to visit, go out, explore with your new friends and send some pictures of your new memories back home to loved ones!

About the Author

Saman Sayed is a mother of two kids. She also blogs about traveling with kids:  www.teenytravelers.wordpress.com

Easy Workouts to do on Vacation

By Paige Aziz

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Working out on vacation doesn’t need to be hard, and can actually help make your vacation even better! Getting activity when you get to your destination is a great way to beat jet-lag and to increase your energy so you can thoroughly enjoy your vacation. In addition, it will help you feel good when you come back to know you kept up with your fitness rather than feeling like you “fell off the wagon.” Check out these tips to feel fit and fabulous.

Do your homework

 research where you are going. Some hotels have gyms or even offer fitness classes or walking groups. Find out what parks or trails are available, if there are local gyms that offer day passes, or other local active attractions.

Be creative

 There are ways to be active and get exercise without confining yourself to a gym. Check out hiking, kayaking or rock climbing. Run along the beach in the sand – it is harder than it sounds and provides a great cardiovascular and muscular workout. You can also rent a bike to do your site-seeing while staying active and make some incredible memories.

Pack it up

 Before you seal your suitcase throw in some resistance bands or TRX straps. These are lightweight, easy to travel with exercise equipment to help you get your workout in where ever you, in hotel room.

Plan Ahead

 The best way to ensure you keep up with your workouts while on vacations is to plan what you are going to do and times when you can do it. Have a realistic expectation, you may not be able to do 100% of what you can when home, but some is better than none. Before you head out, decide what equipment you have (or don’t have, you don’t always need equipment to work out), how much time you have, and what you plan to do. Need some ideas? Check out some of the mini-workouts below!

 

1. AMRAP Circuits 

AMRAP stands for As Many Rounds As Possible. Select 4-5 exercises, a rep scheme, and a time limit. Your goal is to complete as many rounds as you can in the specific timeframe while taking rest as needed (but the timer keeps ticking, so when you feel ready start again) This type of workout works great when you only have bodyweight to work with.

BODYWEIGHT AMRAP:

10 Bodyweight Squats
10 Pushups
10 single leg hip thrusters per leg
10 mountain climbers
10 V-sits
*Repeat for 10 minutes, resting as necessary

2. Tabata Rounds

Select an exercise, preferably a bodyweight one, and perform 20 seconds all out activity for as many repetitions as you can safely accomplish. Rest for ten seconds and then repeat for 8 total rounds (4 minutes of total time). This works great for full body activities such as burpees, planks, and kettlebell swings.

3. Hotel Room Workout

Even in a tiny hotel room you can use it to your advantage. You can use the edge of the bed as a bench for performing tricep dips or a chair for your feet while doing decline pushups to help you take it to the next level. To be efficient in your time, perform supersets (2 exercises back to back) or giant sets (3 exercises back to back). If you bring a TRX you can hook it up over your hotel door without causing damage to your room, or bring resistance bands.

HOTEL ROOM RESISTACE WORKOUT

Perform 8-15 reps of A1 then 8-15 reps of A2, rest if needed and repeat 2-3 more times. Then move on to B1 and B2 etc.  If the band feels too easy you can make it harder by wrapping it around your hands or stretching it out a little more.

A1) Chest Press
A2) Seated Row

B1) Band Squat and pull
B2) Band Lunge with press

C1) Bicep curl
C2) Tricep dips or band extensions

D1) Band woodchoppers Right
D2) Band woodchooper Left

Too many people take holidays knowing fearing will get fat, become overweight, and lose a level of their fitness. By being prepared you can combat this feeling and actually feel fit and fabulous during your next holiday. Just remember to have fun with it! Whether you have a gym or not, there is always something you can do to stay active.

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.

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.

Location

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.

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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.

M is for Migraine

 By Rahila Ovais

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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.

 

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 theekaurjas@gmail.com 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, MotherCoach.ca, 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