Walking the Camino

Post-Camino Reflections

My time on the Camino is over insofar as the physical presence is concerned, but I carry the thoughts and reflections inside. They are relative and have affected my life profoundly.

I’d like to share an exercise with you and just one of the many things I learned while on this trek.
Prior to leaving for Spain and even while walking the Camino, I carried and read a book by Paulo Coelho called The Pilgrimage, a biography of his own personal walk on the Camino. In the book he shares a variety of exercises he did while on his trek and I chose to borrow some of them for mine. Below is one that became very profound for me. It’s simple but very challenging at the same time.

The Speed Exercise

Walk for twenty minutes at half the speed at which you normally walk. Pay attention to the details, people, and surroundings. The best time to do this is after lunch.
Repeat the exercise for seven days.

My Revelation

Sounds pretty easy, right? Well, it can be torture if you are moving a mach speed. The idea is to try to find pleasure in a speed that you’re not used to. Coelho was advised that by changing the way you do routine things allows a new person to grow inside of you. But when all is said and done, you’re the one who must decide how you handle it.

At the beginning of the newsletter I told you I would share a revelation I had with you. Well, it was through this very exercise that I discovered something about myself that applies to everything in my life.

The terrain we experienced on this walk was varied and at times very challenging. Long, steep hills with often-times dangerous declines was the norm. It was at the beginning of our walk that I decided to try this exercise and got my walking partner to join me in it. We slowed our pace from about five kilometers per hour down to the pace I remembered from walking with my toddlers. That’s pretty slow. It was definitely challenging, especially when everything inside wants to get moving.

We walked like this for several minutes and came upon a cherry tree growing all by itself on the side of the hill. We would have missed it had we been walking at our normal pace. We stopped, picked cherries, ate our fill and carried on. Flowers, butterflies, insects … life was all around us.
But, the real clincher for me happened as we were scaling yet another steep hill. I was looking down as I walked, watching as one foot landed in front of the other and then it hit me!

I can climb any mountain before me by simply putting one foot in front of the other and going slowly.

Now, that may sound obvious to you, but I want to tell you that I got to the crest of that steep hill and I was not out of breath, I wasn’t sweating and I had hardly noticed the incline. My nature is to get the job done quickly. My Mother used to constantly tell me to slow down. I was always in a hurry … impatient and rushing to get everything done. I was especially impatient with myself.

This has turned out to be a life lesson for me. I am very patient with my clients but not so much with myself. I am learning to be patient with myself, which will have an effect on everything else in my life.

Introspection as a tool for life

Introspection as a tool for life

Here are seven ways introspection can be a positive tool in your daily life:

  1. It allows you to notice negative patters in your life.
    Maybe you keep crawling back to that toxic relationship, convincing yourself that through all of the frustration and inconsistency, the person will eventually change.
    Maybe you’re continuously undermining your efforts at attaining the health and wellness you desire by sabotaging yourself.
    Whatever the case may be, introspection allows you to recognize these patterns, and how and why they have a detrimental effect on your emotions and outlook.
    From there, you can consider alternate approaches to these situations and eventually, migrate away from the stressors altogether.
  2. It keeps you focused on the bigger picture.
    When we don’t have an overall goal in mind, our daily tasks become meaningless and increasingly frustrating. Therefore, it’s important to have a clear vision of where you want to see yourself in the future.
    Write it down if you have to, and don’t forget to continuously remind yourself of what you hope to ultimately accomplish. As a result, you will have a more positive attitude toward your current obligations.
  3. It prevents you from worrying about things out of your control.
    An infuriating traffic jam, a boss who never considers your opinions, a torrential downpour when you planned a weekend at the beach — you get the idea. No matter how many times we’ve been told not to stress about what we can’t change, we do it anyway.
    It’s difficult to realize we don’t always have total control of the outcome, and sometimes, we have no choice but to adapt to unfavorable conditions.
    Introspection allows us to eventually detach from these aspects over which we have no influence, and instead, direct our energy toward things we can absolutely improve on ourselves.
  4. It helps you face your fears.
    We all want to be that person who can dive into any challenge headfirst and come out successful. But, let’s face it: We’re all afraid of something.
    Whether it’s rejection, failure or something else entirely, introspection allows you to admit your fears to yourself and eventually learn the best way to handle them.
    This can be a trial-and-error process, but simply recognizing what scares you is a great starting point.
  5. It allows you to clearly define happiness on your own terms.
    When are you most happy? Who do you most enjoy spending time with? What accomplishments are you most proud of and why?
    These questions may seem cliché but they hold a lot of value. By recognizing the positive events in your life, you can apply your knowledge to future goals and endeavors.
    For instance, if a quick phone chat with your best friend always lifts your spirits, take the time to do so every day.
    Or, if you feel most accomplished after independently completing a project, or sticking to your fitness routine, start to take more initiative and exert that same self-starter attitude in other areas.
  6. It allows you to make decisions based on your conscience.
    When it comes to making significant life decisions, the important people in your life will naturally have opinions. However, introspection helps you make decisions based on fully understanding what is right or wrong for you.
    Make choices based on what you truly believe, without letting other people’s input sway you. While it’s okay to ask for others’ advice and feedback, ultimately, trust your gut — it won’t fail you.
    Plus, by following your conscience, you’ll, in turn, feel better about the path you chose.
  7. You will finally get different results.

When we continuously go through our lives the same way, we inevitably block the chance of changing things for the better.
By becoming more self-aware, we are able to have a better understanding of what we truly want in life. Naturally, this involves making changes, whether they’re significant or menial.
Of course, nobody likes change. It’s uncomfortable and scary, and we seek comfort in what we know.
However, this is why it is critical to ask ourselves, is it worth it to take as little as five minutes out of our day for introspection in exchange for an increased chance of happiness? Most of the time, it’s safe to say you already know the answer.

The Power of Self-reflection!

The Power of Self-reflection!

I am a mother of three now-grown people, all of whom – when they were little – were amazing at asking the question, “Why”? Mummy, why is it raining? Mummy, why does it get dark? Mummy … and on it would go. I made it my practice to answer as often as I could and when I didn’t know, I’d say so.

However; like many parents, at times I also made the rather grave error of saying, “Because” and leaving it there.
The fact is that the question “Why” is the basis for all scientific processes. It’s the motivating question for research. So, what happened that we fail to ask the question these days? Perhaps it’s a lack of time on the part of busy parents, or the lack of patience. The modern education system was developed in the midst of the industrial revolution and failed to provide stimulation to excite inquisitive minds. It was designed to prepare people for factory work rather than groom scientists. Certainly some things have changed, but the basis remains.
A poll done a few years ago found that children at the age of five had a 98% creativity level, but by the time they hit ten years of age it had dropped to 20% and by the time they reached the age of 25, it was a mere 2%. Now, that’s sad.

So, how can we fix it?

I think the answer lies in the ability to reflect, specifically, self-reflect.
Isn’t it interesting that we spend most of our time thinking about everything but our own inner lives? We are usually more concerned about what others are thinking about us than we are about what we think of our own behaviors. By the way, what someone else thinks about me is, in my opinion, none of my business.
Throughout our daily lives we are in a constant state of observation and analysis – be it work related or something someone texted to us. We have become masters of obtaining data and examining it for deeper meaning or an explanation. We can think critically about all kinds of things, but not especially about ourselves.
Introspection involves examining one’s own thoughts, feelings and sensations in order to gain insight. Being introspecitive is often a rare quality in many lives, particularly young adults, and with good reason: it requires slowing down and taking a breather from the craziness and busyness of life and that isn’t always easy.
In a society fixated on fast-paced environments and a “go, go, go” mentality, it’s difficult to find the time to sit down and reflect. However, setting aside a small portion of your day for self-examination can be a lot more helpful than you might expect.

Something I learned along the French Way

During the 14-day period walking the Camino, I was faced with many periods of silence. It was during those times that I was left entirely alone with my own thoughts – with myself. I had an opportunity to watch myself as I reacted to various things presented during this time. I saw how I conducted myself and heard how I spoke.
Some of it was wonderful and some of it needed change. Being alone with myself was revealing, enlightening, sometimes disturbing, but definitely educational.
Did I emerge a different person? Probably. I know for certain that I am more quiet and resolute inside than I’ve been in ages.
It’s not that I’ve never practiced introspection – it is that it was for a very extended period of time and, when you’re walking 25 km per day and not talking a lot, well, it’s a lot of time for thinking.

You don’t have to leave town… or, maybe you do.

Introspection doesn’t have to mean leaving town. Taking a few minutes every day to reflect on life – your life – is often as good. On the other hand, if you can’t possibly find a few quiet minutes in your life, maybe a little break in a very quiet environment will be just the ticket.
Regardless, whether you start your day with quiet meditation and self-reflection for a few minutes, or find yourself in the woods or a lonely beach, self-reflection can be the best way to make the changes you need to have the life you really love to live.

Food Tips for the Holidays

Food Tips for the Holidays

Along with the holiday season comes an abundance of food and drink, parties showcasing more food than we would normally include in our regular dinner menu. It’s clear why overeating is so easy to do this time of year.

While I am all about eating real, wholesome, delicious food (and being grateful for it!), this time of year calls for a very mindful approach to enjoying the offerings without feeling sick and bloated at the end of the day.

Here are a few tips worth including in your daily practice that can be of help as you navigate through the goodies:

  1. Start the day in a mindful way: Start your day off with healthy choices that get your body moving and your mind awake and aware. A walk or run, some yoga, a morning meditation … these things not only help you feel your best, they also help you deal with the frantic pace and massive selection of food in a calm and mindful manner.
  2. Hydrate! For whatever reason, when winter rolls around people stop drinking water. Proper hydration is essential for promoting good digestion, energy, and focus, transporting nutrients, encouraging circulation and metabolism, and many other aspects of what it takes to build a strong body. Water also plays a part in regulating your appetite, so be sure to drink up throughout the day.
  3. Check in with your hunger: Ask yourself where your hunger levels are before you start eating and continue to check in throughout the meal. This simple exercise can be the difference between the food-coma and a post-dinner family game.
  4. Choose wisely: High-quality protein and fats encourage satiation and reduce extra carb cravings. Of course, veggies should be the star of your dish; non-starchy varieties like leafy greens are rich in fiber and phyto-nutrients that will fill you up without the regret. Sweet potatoes and butternut squash are starchier options that can still be part of a well-balanced plate, just try to stick to ½ cup portions of these to aid in blood sugar balancing.
  5. Chew slowly: Paying closer attention to the pace at which you chew your food can make a huge impact on the total amount of food you consume. It’s also a great way to more mindfully enjoy it—for foods that took so much time, love, and energy to prepare, doesn’t it deserve that kind of appreciation? You’ll be amazed at how easy it is to eat less and feel completely satisfied when you pay attention to the tastes and textures of each bite.

I hope these tips will help you enjoy your holiday in a comfortable and healthy way.

Before All Else, BE GRATEFUL

Before All Else, BE GRATEFUL

This is the time of year when we are provided with holidays that remind us of the good things in life. It’s also the time when we tend to focus more on being grateful – that is once the shopping, cooking and baking are behind us. Read on to learn how being grateful is a great way to stay healthy.

Gratefulness is an Emotion

If I were to ask you to list some powerful emotions you’d likely write fear, love, hate, happy, or sad (and probably a lot more). However, there’s one emotion that is like a magic wand in many ways and is often overlooked … it’s Gratitude.
Most people are focused on lack instead of on the abundance they actually enjoy, if they’d take the time to acknowledge it. For instance, people focus on the 20 pounds they have yet to lose, the lack of money, the car that needs to be replaced and countless other areas of lack. As a close friend of mine used to say, “Just STOP”, and let’s do a bit of reframing.
Do you turn on the tap in your kitchen and clean water flows out? Do you have enough blankets on your bed to keep you warm on a cold winter’s night? How about eyes that can see the beauty of nature all around you? Are you reading this on a computer or on your SmartPhone? We have so much to be grateful for … acknowledge how good you really have it and say Thank You.

So Many Benefits of Gratefulness

By embracing a practice of gratitude you’ll soon feel the beneficial effects in many areas of your life. It’s been found to improve psychological health by reducing toxic emotions like envy and regret. When it comes to physical health, grateful people have been found to have fewer aches and pains and take better care of themselves in general. When medical science started looking into the key attributes present in centenarians (people who live over l00 years), they found these people were very adept at expressing gratitude.

Gratitude is also linked to better sleep, with both better sleep quality and duration being linked to a grateful attitude. This same outlook has been linked to higher levels of self-esteem and it can also help us make new friends: Thanking an acquaintance encourages them to pursue an ongoing relationship with you, as it sends the signal that there is potential for a high-quality relationship to be formed.

Form a Gratitude Practice

It’s clear there are multiple benefits to be had from incorporating a regular gratitude practice into your wellness routine. Yes, gratitude is part of being healthy and fit. I advise my clients to write down a few things every day in a journal designated specifically for the subject. Silently (or audibly) acknowledging things you’re grateful for on your commute or taking a moment at the dinner table to say something you are thankful for out loud—all of these acts open up your mind and body to feel their best.

Don’t Misunderstand …

Don’t get me wrong: being in a state of gratitude all the time does not mean you’re grateful for everything – that’s just impossible.

It does mean that you’re constantly connected to all the blessings in your life and you’re always able to find the lesson and positive side to every situation or outcome. How would that be different from the way you’re “doing life” at present?

Mastering this state of mind is one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself.

So let the holidays be a time to practice gratitude and strengthen its role in your life, but be sure to keep up the practice even after the celebrations are over to support your best health.

Salad - Good Nutrition

Building on Balance – What is Good Nutrition?

If I asked you today what you believe good nutrition and a balanced diet look like, what would you tell me? Would you say that we should be eating foods from all of the food groups – meat/fish/eggs; breads and cereals; fruit and vegetables and dairy? Would you point me to the food pyramid? How about calories – would that be part of the equation called “balanced nutrition”?

Our ideas around nutrition have morphed over the years as we’ve explored all types of diets, many of which have left us frustrated and fat. Part of that is due to the fact that (you’ve heard me say this over and over again) diets don’t work. And, creating a “balanced diet” is entirely dependent upon whether we’re vegan, vegetarian, paleo, keto or heaven knows what. It seems that balance is in the eye of the beholder … so let’s take a look at some of the basic facts about nutrition and go from there.

Why is nutrition important?

The short answer to this question is that a balanced diet (way of eating every single day all year long) is vital for good health and wellbeing. Food provides our bodies with everything we need to grow and function properly. We know we need a wide variety of different foods to provide the right amounts of nutrients for good health. Nutrients is the operative word here, it’s the foundation of “nutrition”. When we enjoy a healthy way of eating it not only keeps us full of energy and vitality, it is also one of the great cultural pleasures of life. The foods and dietary patterns that promote good nutrition are pretty simple and quite basic – yet in today’s world, the simple and basic have been replaced with refined and unhealthy.

Nutrition Risk Factors

An unhealthy diet increases the risk of many diet-related diseases. Many of the major causes of death, illness and disability can be traced back to the way people “nourish” their bodies, in other words, their nutrition. Some of the diseases in which diet and nutrition play an important role include coronary heart disease, stroke, hypertension, atherosclerosis, obesity, some forms of cancer, Type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis, dental caries, gall bladder disease, dementia and nutritional anemias. And this isn’t the entire list!

So, What Constitutes Good Nutrition?

It’s a fact that many people in Western countries are eating like crazy but they’re malnourished. Malnutrition happens when a person does not eat the right amount of nutrients. There’s a very simple fix for this … eat foods that contain the necessary nutrients to make and keep you healthy.
There are six main types of nutrients: carbohydrates, fats, minerals, protein, vitamins and water. We need to eat a lot of macronutrients (carbohydrates, fats and proteins) and although we need lesser amounts, it’s important to ensure we’re getting enough micronutrients (vitamins and minerals and water).
It may come as a surprise to you, but carbohydrates are not needed by the body; however, most people eat a lot (often too many) of them. Complex carbohydrates are more nutritious than simple carbohydrates and they take longer to digest, staying in the stomach longer so the person has a full feeling for a longer period – think sweet potato, squash, peas and beans as well a whole grains. Protein, comprised of amino acids, is necessary for the building of cells and tissue. The most common sources for protein are milk, meat, fish, beans, and eggs as well as certain grains and vegetables.
Fat occurs naturally in some foods and saturated and trans-fat (the unhealthy kind) is found in abundance in processed foods (cake, chips, many breads, you get the idea). The combination of simple carbohydrates and bad fats is what makes and keeps people fat. The good news about healthy fats, like those found in certain oils, nuts, avocados and fish is that it is a magnificent source of energy. Our bodies need Omega 3 and 6 fats for good nutrition. As I’ve written in a previous blog, not all fats are bad.
To sum up, good nutrition is a balanced blend of macro and micro nutrients in portions that are moderate. That means you get to build your own diet based on your body’s nutritional needs. If you need help with that, book an appointment and let’s talk.



Fish is healthy

Go Fish

Fish is among the healthiest foods on the planet. It is loaded with important nutrients, such as protein, vitamin D, B2 (riboflavin), calcium and phosphorus, a great source of minerals such as iron, zinc, iodine, magnesium, and potassium, and is also the world’s best source of omega-3 fatty acids, which are incredibly important for your body and brain.

Besides being a high protein, low-fat food that provides a range of health benefits, white-fleshed fish, in particular, is lower in fat than any other source of animal protein, and oily fish are high in omega-3 fatty acids, or the “good” fats.

How often should I eat fish?

Government dietary guidelines recommend that people eat fish two to three times a week. And we know that fish are full of omega-3 fatty acids—which can benefit both heart and brain. While it might be safe to eat fish every day, it’s still not clear if there is any added health benefits to that level of consumption. Just make sure to choose a variety of fish lower in mercury, such as almon, tilapia, tuna and cod. Due to the high levels of mercury in white (albacore) tuna, you should not exceed 6 ounces per week.

Telling the Truth about Fish

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past several years, you’re pretty aware of the advisories against eating farmed fish. But, what about fresh fish vs. frozen fish? I often get questions about that from my clients and here’s a bit of info that could prove to be very helpful to you:
Unless you know for sure it’s high-quality fresh fish, go with frozen. A lot of fish is flash frozen on the boat right after it’s caught. After thawing, it should still be quite good.
On the other hand, “fresh” fish that was never frozen may have spent a few days sitting in a smelly ship’s hold by the time you buy it. And, some “fresh” fish may have been frozen and then thawed out behind the supermarket counter.



Healthy Fats

The Skinny on Fats

Eat fat – get fat. Right? Actually, no, not entirely.

Incorporating good fats in your diet help you with weight loss

The general line of thinking over several decades was that if we just eliminated fat from our diets all of our weight loss problems would be solved. But the truth is that we actually need fats – in fact, we can’t live without them. They’re an integral part of a healthy diet, providing essential fatty acids that help to keep our skin soft, deliver fat-soluble vitamins, provide energizing fuel and probably most importantly, they keep our brains functioning. Still, it’s very easy to get confused about good fats vs. bad fats, how much fat we should eat, how to avoid artery-clogging trans-fats, and the role omega-3 fatty acids play in heart health.
As most people these days know, fat has made it back into our diets, which is a really good thing. It’s recommended that 20%-35% of calories in an adult’s diet should come from fat and, at the very least, 10% of calories in the diet come from fat.

Here’s the problem: the typical North American diet is much higher in fat – roughly 34% to 40% of calories in the Standard American Diet (SAD) comes from fat. Why is that? Well, it’s because fat makes food taste good and it’s widely available (thanks to food manufacturers) in the food supply. Fats enhance the flavors of foods and give our mouths that wonderful feel that is so satisfying. The food industry has that figured out and it really has paid off for them. Using trans-fats (the worst of the worst) has contributed to the high level of inflammation in people that results in disease such as diabetes, obesity and many more.

Eat the Right Kind of Fats
In other parts of the world, fat has always been welcome at the table. In the U.S.? Only now is the truth being realized: Not all fats are created equally. Our bodies need fat — more specifically, they need healthy fats. As the ketogenic diet that emphasizes healthy fats gains in popularity, more and more people want to know what fats qualify. By upping our healthy fats we lower bad cholesterol, increase our satiety (so we avoid overeating), and boost our immune system.
Here are some suggestions for great fats that pack a lot of punch. From lowering bad cholesterol and helping shed excess weight to giving you shiny hair and healthy nails, your body will reap the benefits of these healthy fats.


  • Rich in monounsaturated fats (raises levels of good cholesterol while lowering the bad)
  • Packed with Vitamin E to boost immunity
  • More protein than any other fruit
  • Full of folate (excellent for pregnant women)

Butter and Ghee

  • Full of Omega6 and Omage3 fatty acids – great for brain and skin health
  • Rich in fat-soluble vitamins and trace minerals
  • Ghee (clarified butter) is better for cooking at high temperatures

Coconut Oil

Rich in medium chain fatty acids which:

  • Are easy for your body to digest
  • Not readily stored by the body as fat
  • Small in size so they infuse the body with energy quickly
  • Improve brain and memory function

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

  • High levels of monounsaturated fats and antioxidants
  • Boosts heart health, memory and cognitive function
  • Not recommended for cooking at high temperatures

Omega 3s

  • Preferred sources are DHA and EPA, found in seafood sources like salmon and sardines
  • Supplement with fish oil
  • Get at least 1,000mg/day of EPA/DHA and 4,000mg of total omega3s ALA/DHA/EPA combined

Nuts & Seeds

  • Rich in ALA Omega3 fats (brain food)
  • Helps lower bad cholesterol levels (LDL)
  • Walnuts and almonds are the best nuts
  • Flax seeds and chia seeds are the top seeds


  • Packed with protein and a full amino acid profile
  • Can lower cholesterol while improving heart health
  • Can reduce risk of metabolic syndrome

Full-Fat Dairy

  • Yogurt is full of omega3 fatty acids, protein, vitamins and probiotics (non-sweetened w/o fruit)
  • Raw milk keeps all vitamins, minerals and proteins intact
  • Goat milk is easily digestible and makes a great option for those with GI issues