Written by Inspired Life on June 19th, 2018. Posted in Articles, Blog

By Nanette Basic, B.A., Hom

In Part 1 we discussed several homeopathic remedies for common issues that may arise with travel, such as motion sickness, jet lag, food poisoning and traveller’s diarrhea. Here are a few more remedies listed that you may find useful on your weekend or holiday away this summer.

Let’s recap how Homeopathy works. The fundamental principle of Homeopathy is “Like cures Like”.  This means one can treat individuals with medicines that are capable of producing in a healthy person similar symptoms to those experienced in a sick person.  For example, drinking coffee can CAUSE insomnia but used in the homeopathic form, coffea is often used to TREAT insomnia.  Therefore, look at the remedies that closest match your symptoms.

Bone, Bruises, and Wound Injuries

Outdoor activities and sports is a summer staple but no matter how careful we are we can sometimes end up with some bumps and bruises.  Whether it be bruises, broken bones, nosebleeds or black eyes, the remedies below will help speed up the healing process.

Arnica Montana 30C

This is the most popular treatment for new injuries, especially bruises and sprains. Given immediately after the injury occurs, it can help reduce pain, inflammation, and bruising.  It is helpful with head injuries and concussions as well. 

Phosphorus 30C  

This is the most popular treatment for nosebleeds. It helps with small wounds that bleed easily; excessive bleeding; and scars which break open and bleed.

Ledum palustre 30C

This is the most popular treatment for a black eye caused by any blunt object.  It helps with puncture wounds such as stepping on nails; open wounds; wounds with infection; coldness of injured parts and pain relieved by cold applications.

Calendula 30C  

Helps with open wounds with marked capillary bleeding; lacerated wounds; early stages of infection with whitish pus draining from a closed wound; and wounds that don’t heal.  

Indication:  Take 3 pellets every 2 to 4 hours, reassess after 3 doses; wait for symptoms to worsen before repeating.  Repeat up to 3 days.  Stop once symptoms have improved. 

Insect Bites and Stings

The summer likes to bring about those pesky insects and it is inevitable to get a bite or two but if the symptoms are unbearable try the following.

Apis mellifica 30C

This is the most popular treatment for insect bites and stings.  Helps with swollen, itching, burning skin, relieved by cold applications.

Ledum palustre 30C

Helps with swelling and itching of mosquito bites; from larger insects and wasps; with nerve pain around the bite/sting.

Urtica urens 30C

Helps with reddish blotches; burning; intense itching.  It is also a useful remedy for hives that sting and itch.  

Indication:  Take 3 pellets every 2 to 4 hours, reassess after 3 doses; wait for symptoms to worsen before repeating.  Repeat up to 3 days.  Stop once symptoms have improved. 

Sun Burns

Typically, a sunburn includes redness, pain, swelling and warmth of the affected skin, blisters and general fatigue. Itching, peeling or rash may also occur as the ailment progresses.

Urticaria Urens 30C

Helps with stinging, burning pain; violent itching; worse from cold applications.

Cantharis 30C

Helps with serious, painful burns; second and third degree burns; raw sensation; blisters; better from cold applications which cannot be removed for a second without the pain returning.

Causticum 30C

Helps with serious and deep burns that blister and ooze; burns that are not healing well; cold air aggravates; physical weakness.

Indication:  Take 3 pellets every 2 hours until pain is reduced, then as needed. Repeat up to 3 days.  Stop once symptoms have improved. 


A sunstroke/heatstroke is due to prolonged exposure to high temperatures where the body is unable to return to its normal temperature.  A sunstroke/heatstroke is a medical emergency and children and the elderly are most susceptible.  Symptoms include body temperature of 40 degrees celsius or higher, feeling very hot, a fast pulse rate, extreme thirst, headache, confusion, feeling irritated or anxious, rapid, shallow breathing and possible convulsions.  Rehydrate with electrolytes and seek immediate medical attention.

Aconite 30C

This is the most popular treatment for sunstroke/heatstroke.  Helps with sudden rise in temperature; face becomes red; intense thirst for cold water; one who becomes anxious, fearful and restless.

Belladonna 30C

Helps with throbbing and shooting headache with flushed face; fever; hot, dry skin; hot flushed face but the body is cold especially the hands and feet; blood shot eyes; visible throbbing of the carotids; nausea and vomiting.   

Natrum Carbonicum 30C

Helps with severe headache; debility and exhaustion; confusion; with vertigo.

Indication:  Give every 15 minutes until medical help can be obtained. 

Written by Inspired Life on June 12th, 2018. Posted in Articles, Blog

By Nanette Basic, B.A., Hom

With less than a month left of school many of us are planning our summer getaways.  Whether it be the cottage, camping or flying to a destination, sometimes we can run into problems like motion sickness, jet lag, food poisoning, bumps and bruises, those pesky insect bites, sunburns and sunstroke.

The fundamental principle of Homeopathy is “Like cures Like”.  This means one can treat individuals with medicines that are capable of producing in a healthy person similar symptoms to those experienced in a sick person.  For example, drinking coffee can CAUSE insomnia but used in the homeopathic form, coffea is often used to TREAT insomnia.  Therefore, look at the remedies that closest match your symptoms.

The following homeopathic remedies will help you resolve any travel challenges!

Motion Sickness

Motion sickness can affect you with any mode of transportation be it a car, plane, boat or train.

Cocculus 30C

Is the first remedy we think of for motion sickness.  It helps with nausea, vomiting, dizziness; a need to lie down; if there is vertigo.  Take 3 pellets 1 hour before departure, then every 4 hours.  Stop once symptoms have improved.

Tabacum 30C

Helps with severe nausea and vomiting with cold sweats and dizziness; worse with smallest movement and better with fresh air.  Take 3 pellets every 3 hours up to 3 times per day then only as needed up to 3 days.

Nux Vomica 30C

Helps with severe nausea; a desire to vomit but can’t; chills; headache; worse from the smell of food, tobacco, coffee.  Take 3 pellets every 3 hours up to 3 times per day then only as needed up to 3 days. 

Jet Lag

Jet lag is a temporary sleep disturbance due to long distance travel.  It affects your biological clock causing dehydration, excessive fatigue, insomnia, difficulty concentrating, your appetite and bowel movements.  Make sure to always drink plenty of water, eat lightly and avoid alcohol.

Cocculus 30C

Helps with nausea; dizziness; insomnia despite fatigue; disorientation.  

Arnica Montana 30C

Helps with physical tiredness and muscle pain especially if they feel bruised; feeling foggy, in shock.  

Nux Vomica 30C

Helps with constipation and gastrointestinal issue, irritability, chills, nausea, headaches.

Indication:  Take 3 pellets every 4 – 6 hours as needed up to 3 days.  Stop once symptoms have improved.

Food Poisoning and Traveller’s Diarrhea

Traveller’s diarrhea can strike at any time.  Besides diarrhea one can experience fever, nausea, bloating and cramping.  When travelling eat well cooked food and fruit you can peel.  When tap water is not drinkable, avoid ice in drinks and drink bottled water.

Arsenicum Album 30C

Helps with food poisoning; simultaneous diarrhea and vomiting; burning pains; exhaustion; restlessness; and anxiety.  

Podophyllum 30C

Helps with watery diarrhea, smelly, explosive stools with lots of gurgling; abdominal cramping; faintness and weakness.  

Veratrum Album 30C

Helps with profuse, watery diarrhea; cold sweat, especially on the forehead; cravings for ice cold drinks but feel cold; possible simultaneous vomiting; muscle cramps.  

Indication:  Take 3 pellets every 2 to 4 hours, reassess after 3 doses; wait for symptoms to worsen before repeating.  Repeat up to 3 days.  Stop once symptoms have improved. 

Written by Inspired Life on May 9th, 2018. Posted in Articles, Blog

Andrew Chan, R.H.N., DOMP, B.S.c., DO(Euro)
Registered Holistic Nutritionist
Osteopathic Manual Practitioner

Here are the Top 5 common Bone Degeneration Factors:

  1. Aging
  2. Genetic Factors
  3. Wear and Tear (high impact)
  4. Insufficient Intake of Nutrients such as Calcium  
  5. Imbalance of Absorption and Resorption

Let’s talk about Calcium! What is it?

  • A strong and hard mineral
  • Strengthens your bones and teeth
  • Very important mineral in human metabolism
  • Found in products such as Chalk (primarily contains calcium carbonate)

What does it do?

Aside from making our bones strong, Calcium helps to control our muscles and nerve function, such as regulating heart rate and muscle contraction. When purchasing supplements, Calcium often comes in various forms, such as Carbonate, Citrate, Citrate-Malate, Ascorbate, Phosphate, and Lactate. The Calcium that’s right for you will depend on your overall body and medical conditions.

Calcium Carbonate

This form works like an antacid by lowering the amount of “acid” in your stomach. You can find this in any supplement store. It’s great if you have symptoms that are caused by too much stomach acid, such as an upset stomach or heartburn. The bioavailability, which is the amount that can be absorbed by your digestive system, depends on how the tablet was made (ranges from 15-40% absorption).

Calcium Citrate

Calcium is best absorbed in an acidic environment and “Citrate” is exactly just that, an organic acid. To make this very simple, this form works best if you have low/normal stomach acid. If you have upset stomach, heartburn, or symptoms of high stomach acid, this form of Calcium may not be ideal for you as it may aggravate your overall symptoms. Being easy to absorb, you can find this everywhere and its bioavailability ranges from 20-40% absorption.

Calcium Citrate-Malate

Citrate-Malate dissolves very well in water. Once it is dissolved, the calcium is absorbed directly into the intestinal cells and passes between the intercellular (picture a bridge) space “between” cells. It has a higher bioavailability of over 35%, although more research is needed on that matter. Like Calcium Citrate, if you have low to normal stomach acid then this is friendly for you, but if you have high stomach acid then it is best to avoid this form.

Calcium Ascorbate

This formula contains Calcium and Vitamin C. By adding Vitamin C (Calcium form), it lowers the “acid” in this formula making it less irritating to those with high stomach acid symptoms.

Calcium Phosphate

This formula I would only recommend if my client has phosphorus deficiency. In my 8 years of practicing, I have only encountered one person with that condition. If you consume a lot of phosphorus foods like packaged and processed meats and soda, this may not be ideal for you. Phosphorus is like a two-edged sword. We need it to make our bones strong and maintain cells to function, however, over consumption can be harmful for the kidneys especially to those that have chronic kidney problems or failure.

Calcium Lactate

You can make this formula by mixing Calcium Carbonate and Lactic acid (found in cheese, kefir etc.). Just like Calcium Carbonate, it works as an antacid. Its bioavailability is the same if not close to Calcium Carbonate- or you can just drink a glass of milk.

How much Calcium should we take?

Adults aged 19-50 need 1000 mg of calcium each day or 2 servings of milk or alternatives. Adults age 51 and older should aim for an intake of 1200 mg of calcium every day, or 3 servings of milk and alternatives.

Now that we have finished talking about the different types of Calcium, let’s move on! Remember, that just because you are taking Calcium, it doesn’t mean you will 100% utilize it without the help of Vitamin D3 and K2!

Calcium absorption begins in the digestive tract with the help of Vitamin D. Vitamin K2 directs Calcium into our structural system”

I previously stated in the Top 5 Common Bone Degeneration Factors, “Imbalance of absorption and resorption”. What does it mean?

Osteoblast (bone cell) = Absorption = Building new bones

            *picture them as builders or renovation contractor

Osteoclast (bone cell) = Resorption = Break down of bones for calcium

            *picture them as the demolition machines

Bone Degeneration is caused by an increase of Resorption (breakdown) and a decrease of Absorption (building new).

How do we build new bones?

Believe it or not, exercise. Light to moderate low-impact exercise stimulates bone absorption. It can be as simple as doing 30 jumping jacks daily, walking up the stairs, 30-45 minutes of walking, etc. For an individualized analysis, we will look at your age, fitness and medical conditions to provide you corrective measures. Aside from exercise, corrective mechanics (posture) also helps. Poor mechanics affect the way we walk, thus using more energy and creating more wear and tear on our joints.

Nutritional and Mechanical Assessment is the key to finding out the best course of action. I will develop a plan that is designed specifically for you!

Written by Inspired Life on May 5th, 2018. Posted in Articles, Blog

Angie Holstein, MSW, RSW
Social Worker, Psychotherapist

Happy Mental Health Week 2018!  

The Canadian Mental Health Association tells us that mental health is about more than mental illness. It is more than being happy all the time. It’s about feeling good about who you are, having balance in your life and managing life’s highs and lows. Everyone deserves to feel well and have a support system to lean on. In honour of this week, let’s talk about Anxiety, it’s impact on our mental health and ways to manage it.

All people have experienced anxiety; a feeling of intense fear. That is a normal human experience. However, anxiety can become problematic if it is experienced frequently, with increasing intensity and/or in situations that should not be as stressful as they are felt. Two of the most common anxiety conditions are free floating or generalized anxiety and panic attacks. Regardless of what they are called, these feelings of fear and dread can become so extreme that it interferes with people’s overall mental health, their ability to go to school, socialize, sleep, etc.

The Mental Health Commission of Canada’s (2014) report indicated that 5% of the population were diagnosed with an anxiety disorder, proportions being higher among young women and in Aboriginal populations.

It is important to remember that anxiety itself serves a purpose. Our goal isn’t to dismiss it completely, but to learn healthy strategies to manage it within our lives. That goes for all of us, even if you don’t suffer from an anxiety disorder. If you reflect for a moment, you can likely think of ways you have naturally been dealing and coping with it in the best ways you know how. The key is becoming more skilled in noticing, identifying and soothing it in the same way as stress, sadness or other difficult emotions.

In one of my earlier articles, we discussed the body’s stress response which is the system within the body and mind that the feeling of anxiety is part of. The body’s fight, flight or freeze response is triggered by the perception of danger within your environment, including thoughts anticipating shame or embarrassment. Your system is flooded with norepinephrine and cortisol. This is the body’s alarm system going off (imagine a train whistle going off), which within its design, gives you a boost to your perception, reflexes and speed when the alarm is triggered. Three things happen: increased heart rate, increase rate of breathing and blood pressure goes up as the blood gets pumped to your large muscle group, preparing them to run or fight. Ideally, once the danger passes, your body goes back to a normal resting state. Unfortunately, we know that more and more people are living in this more chronic state of stress and anxiety triggered by social media, work, family demands, traffic, etc. This is problematic.

Life can be full of anxiety provoking events and circumstances. Researchers have demonstrated that some individuals are more prone to anxiety as a result of genetics and the environment that they grew up in. For whatever the reasons, thankfully, there is hope. Harvard Medical School researchers have shown through brain scans and data that deep-rooted tendencies toward anxiety could be physiologically and even anatomically altered through anxiety management techniques such as relaxation practices.

Here are some of my favorite tools for managing anxiety.

  • Start to Notice: Pay attention and learn about your signs that your alarm system is going off. Where are you? What do you feel in your body? Is your stomach churning, muscle tensing, bladder relaxing, dry mouth etc.? Identify where those changes are occurring. What does your mind feel like? Are you having thoughts that are racing, difficulty focusing, dizzy? What are you thinking? What emotions are you feeling? Simply the act of noticing is known to sooth the alarm system to a less heightened state.
  • Breathe: Notice your breathing patterns throughout the day and intentionally practice deep slow breathing when stressed. When anxious and stressed we tend to breath more shallow. Anxiousness and worry feels much worse when we are not well oxygenated and can lead to muscle tension.
  • I find great results with the “4-6-8” breath technique. Simply breathe in cool air through your nose for 4 counts, hold it deeply in your lungs for 6 while allowing yourself to feel the tension and pressure and finally breathing out through your mouth for 8. Allow yourself to feel the tension and loosening in your body as you relax. Research tells us that 3 effective breaths can reroute the neural pathways wired for stress to a more relaxed pathway.
  • Learn ways to induce your body’s natural Relaxation Response to counter the Stress Response (alarm system). Learn and practice regularly. Harvard researcher Dr. Herbert Benson coined these terms in the mid 1970’s. Through a relaxation exercise or a mini relaxation exercise (less than 5 minutes) you can induce the psychological response that will decrease muscle tension, heart rate, blood pressure and levels of stress hormones. There are an abundance of relaxation ideas online and through self-help books. Some examples being “4-6-8” breathing, www.donothingfor2minutes.com, www.stopbreaththink.com, nature sounds combined with breath etc. Be creative and keep trying until you find what works for you. Don’t give up!
  • Manage Worry: If you are finding yourself obsessing or becoming distracted by a problem or a few, designate a focused time for it. Without focused time on specific problems, these intrusive thoughts can become a vicious cycle.
  • Pick a time in the evening to practice your Worry Time. Make sure you have time in between Worry Time and bedtime so not to interfere with your sleep. Find a quiet place where you are likely not to be disturbed. Set a timer for 5-10 minutes. Let yourself know this is the time you are allowed to worry for. You don’t want to make the time too long so that you cross over from worry to ruminating to worsening anxiety. Sit down with a pen and paper or computer and start the timer. Begin writing down all your worries. No worry is too big or too small for this exercise. When the timer goes off – STOP! Turn the paper over or turn off the screen even if you are in the middle of a sentence. Get up and try to immerse yourself in a different activity to soothe your mind away from the trail of worried and anxious thoughts. Throughout the day, when worries come, gently and compassionately take note. Tell yourself “ok I noticed, and this is something I will need to worry about tonight in my Worry Time”. Feel free to write the thought and feeling down so you can come back to it later.
  • Reduce Caffeine: If you are feeling anxious, stressed and having sleep difficulties it is an important first step to review your caffeine intake.
  • Take Care of Your Sleep: If you are sleeping less than 6 hours per night you are likely looking at one of the primary causes of your anxiety. Sleep is one of the key pillars for overall wellness. Poor sleep patterns make it difficult for us to regulate our emotions during the day.  Anxiety also makes it hard for us to sleep but if you can try sleep techniques to get you to 7-8 hours per night, you will see an immediate difference in your mood.
  • Get Help: Don’t white knuckle anxiety on your own. See your health care provider (Physician, Naturopath, Homeopath, etc.) to assess causes. If determined to be primarily psychological, you can talk about options such as medication, remedies, acupuncture, lifestyle and psychotherapy.  

These are a few techniques to get you started. There are many techniques to support you to build your skills and confidence to manage anxiety.

“You can’t always control what goes on outside. But you can always control what goes on inside” – Wayne Dyer.

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Written by Inspired Life on April 9th, 2018. Posted in Articles, Blog

By Jennifer Drummond, ND

playtimeLast week I wrote about my experience about going almost completely screen-free for 7 days. If you are up for just reducing your screen time, I’ve summarized a few points I’ve personally found to be helpful.

Tips to Keep Screen Time to a Minimum in Your Life:

  1. Consciously and with purpose use your screen. Try to avoid using your screen as a habit of something to just pass the time. If you need to pass the time, look outside, go for a walk, read a book, draw, paint, close your eyes… the list is endless.
  2. Set some boundaries for time. If you just want to watch something for a laugh, set a timer for a specific time. Again, you are adding more of a conscious decision to this.
  3. Set boundaries for your subject. If you need to research something, write down on a sticky note the point of your research and stick it somewhere on your computer. This little reminder may help you avoid the rabbit hole.
  4. Set a time limit with social media. Social media can be a great tool for sharing amazing articles and insights and keeping in touch with loves ones, but it can also be a breeding ground for jealously and low self-esteem. I would get the same feeling from a People magazine. I would only allow myself the time to read it while waiting in the grocery line. Once I reached the front, I put it back. If I ever bought it and read the whole thing, I generally felt worse about myself. I use social media for the bare minimum and then get out of it quickly.
  5. Keep stock of your emotions before you respond/tweet. Words are very powerful. And these words last, well pretty much forever out there. Even if you delete it, somewhere they are still there to be seen.
  6. Try to project into the future 10 years if you’d like this photo to be put on social media. A picture is worth a thousand words. And will last and last and last… Employers and College/University admissions look at these social media profiles in selecting their applicants.
  7. If you are a parent, be mindful of your own screen time. Kids notice everything. They hear and see everything. If you want them to have minimal screen time, then you have to do it yourself as well. The American Association of Pediatrics recommends children under 2 should have no exposure to screens at all as this interferes with brain development (they need face-to-face interaction most of all!). Kids between 2-6 years should only have 1 hour and kids over 6 years should have no more than 2 hours per day.
  8. Have a good discussion about the dangers of social media as well. Bulling, sexting, online predators are all important points to cover.
  9. Have screen-free times set in your daily routine. For example, no screens at the dinner table. No screens at bedtime. On the weekend, if the weeknights are too hectic, have time together to explore the beach, the park, a board game, paint or draw together, read a good book together, etc.
  10. If you have to use a screen at night, use the night shift mode. The light automatically shifts the colours of your display to the warmer end of the colour spectrum rather than the cooler, blue light that the computer regularly emits. This blue light can disrupt hormonal patterns as well as your sleep cycle and melatonin production (which regulates your sleep/awake cycle). If you don’t have this as an option on your screen, then aim to shut down your screens at least one hour before bedtime. There are also glasses you can wear that block blue light.

Written by Inspired Life on April 8th, 2018. Posted in Articles, Blog

By Jennifer Drummond, ND

tabletThis is the challenge of the decade. Spend an entire week with absolutely no screen in front of your face. Feeling I already kept my screen time to a minimum, I was up to the task.

In order to prepare for writing an article for “Screen Free Week”, I decided to go screen free myself in advance and do it hard-core. No screens for 7 days. That meant no phone with a screen, no computer and no television. With the average person spending about 9 – 10 hours a day in front of a screen, could I really do it?

The television screen was easy to give up as I haven’t really watched much television for about 20 years. It was a decision I made in my late teens as I wanted my free time to be “living and interactive”. I decided I needed that time for myself to experience new things rather than sit in front of a box. And yes, I know I have missed out on a lot of great shows and it does make for a boring conversation with me when the topic is about “Game of Thrones”, but I manage.

The phone and computer were a bit harder. I had intentions to give up my cellphone completely for the week, as I thought I could make do with our landline, but it was a bit hard when I had to be “on call” for things related to my kids and their social activities. I fumbled a bit on this one with responding to a few phone calls and saying “yes” or “no” via text.

So, I gave myself a bit of a break with the rule that my cellphone would operate only as a phone. No music, no photos, no surfing the net, no checking emails/weather/time.

That meant a few changes for me.

Since my old watch was still broken, I was back to checking the time on the street parking machines, as well as asking people around me for the time. It was nice to be more outgoing and led to a good amount of pleasant interactions. If I felt the need to text someone who lived close by, I just knocked on their door.

Music was a big one for me as well, so this experiment was well timed. For a while now, I had been missing the good old radio. I hadn’t owned one for years since the phone stocked many of my beloved CDs. I’ve never been good at updating and changing the songs on my phone and the same CDs for years in a row was getting tiresome. I know it is possible to listen to radio on the internet, but it so much easier for me to actually turn on the radio instead. I joke to my friends that I am really an 80-year-old woman inside when it comes to these “techie things”, but then I am put to shame by my 94-year-old great aunt who has a smart tv and a skype account.

So, in honour of my “Screen Free Week”, I bought myself a second-hand radio/CD player for $6.99. I loved this part of my challenge. I felt like a teenager again, although instead of moshing to Pearl Jam, I was now cooking to Pearl Jam and inspiring interviews on the news.

The computer was the hardest of all. In order to prepare for this week without a screen, I had to make sure I had all of my work done ahead of time. It made me be on the computer way later at night than I would have liked to admit to my patients and my “no screens an hour before bed” rule went out the window for a few nights that week.

I admit that I still needed the computer a bit for work during “Screen Free Week”, but with the added pressure of being screen-free, each time I used it I had complete awareness of doing so. I kept to only work-related emails, research and documents; anything fun or entertaining was out of the question. This also kept me from going down the enticing “wormhole” of information and facts that is always tempting.

What did I learn from this experience? Overall, I noticed I had more time. I read more of two books I’ve been meaning to get through, got a good chunk of the spring cleaning done and played a lot more with my kids.

I also became aware of the “nag” of wanting to check my phone just to check it or look at something on it. This usually happened in quiet moments like if I was waiting to meet someone or after putting the kids to bed. It was incredible to realize how trained I was to want to check my phone, even when I had no dings from incoming messages. That “nag” became less and less throughout the week and I either just took in the scene around me, read a book or on one beautiful sunny morning, I simply closed my eyes and sat under a tree.

And being strict with my screen time also made me appreciate the technology we have around us. Usually I am more on the “no screen” side and can easily point out the negative effects screens have on us, but actually going through the process gave me a new appreciation of these tools we have at our disposal.

What I found most helpful was the awareness I developed with each time I was called to use a screen. I had to make a conscious choice to use it or decline. I was very aware of each minute I spent and conscious of each click I made. As soon as I was done my task, the screen was down and off. I found that awareness to be key to maintaining a balance with my use of screens. If you are aware of your choice, you will be aware of the time you are spending.

Overall, I thought it was a great process to go through and hope others will be encouraged to try!

Written by Inspired Life on February 21st, 2018. Posted in Articles

By Angie Holstein, MSW ,RSW (Individual, Adolescent and Family Therapist)

There is a strong connection between our mental health, food and weight loss. A 2004 study called the Canadian Community Health Survey found 20% of Canadians 18 and older were obese and 41% more were overweight. In children and adolescents, 8% were obese and 18% overweight. It is well understood that mood and eating habits are deeply connected. Having a substantial amount of negative thoughts, distressing emotions and unhealthy behaviours contribute to poor mental health. Gaining a strong understanding of this is key to supporting the psychological part of your health and wellness goal.

Eating healthy, losing excess weight and increasing physical exercise are important life goals to consider.

Know that making a lifestyle change is often uncomfortable and distressing at first. Anticipate that change can actually make you feel worse at first before you start to feel better. The point is not to give up. Having a plan and dealing effectively with setbacks with emotional eating will be the key between making this change to a life style change versus a diet. Learn to manage your emotions and negative thoughts about yourself to support your goal. Take an approach to this goal by dealing with the problem of overeating from the inside out.

Quick Tips to Manage Emotional Eating:

Keep a Food Diary: What, When, Where, How much, Feelings and Thoughts. Over time you will start to investigate and examine the patterns revealing your connection between your moods, thoughts and food habits. Knowledge and awareness is power.

Manage Stress and Get a Good Nights Sleep: Sleeplessness and chronic stress are the underlying contributors for a lot of clients in my practice for not only weight gain but depression, anxiety and overall poor mental health. Poor sleep and feeling tired typically increases stress and negative emotions. It’s hard to make good decisions and have balanced thinking when we are tired. Research tells us that chronic stress not only prevents you from losing weight, but also adds on pounds. When we are stressed, our bodies release stress hormones (the fight or flight hormones) that have been correlated with belly fat. Try yoga, meditation, being silly and being social to deal with this. Research tips to manage stress and keep trying to integrate these methods into your life. They can be simple things. (Dear Stress: Let’s Break-Up!)

Learn to Interrupt Your Habits and Patterns: This can be done by doing a hunger reality check. Am I really hungry? What is happening emotionally right now that is making me feel hungry?  Am I tired, bored, anxious, sad, lonely? Think about behavior options to replace your typical pattern of mindless eating.

There are some interesting suggestions available online called 100 Replacement Behaviours for mindless eating, such as take a pause with a breathing exercise, drinking really cold water which gives our nervous system a little bump, watch a funny video on you tube, play with your pet, anything to distract yourself. We know that we have a quarter of a second to interrupt our typical patterns so having a plan ready will support this interruption and be compassionate to yourself with setbacks.

Dealing with Family and Friends: Family and friends are part of our patterns of behavior. Have you effectively communicated to those in your life about the goal you are embarking on? Have you asked them for what you may need? When you make a change it affects those around you – people in your life may unknowingly try to get you back to what is familiar. This can show up in forms of teasing, put downs and pressure to stray from your plan at gatherings and visits. Eating is such a social act. Your changes can also trigger self doubt and guilt in others who may not be at the stage you are to make changes. It’s important to identify and talk about these experiences and persevere with your plan.

Buddy system: You can be a leader to others by asking them to join you as a buddy in creating a healthier lifestyle. Social support is an important part of overall wellness.

Learn From Setbacks and Let Go of Being Perfect: Change and transformation is a journey and you can learn a lot when you take a mindset of learning. Be good enough in your goal instead of striving for perfection. When you have a moment or day of emotional eating, forgive yourself, say the words outs loud and start fresh the next meal or day. This should be part of your goal; a solid section on self compassion, forgiveness, and ways to get back to your wellness goals. Every day try to focus on the positive changes your making and try the technique of self-praise. This will interrupt those typical patterns that take you down the road of self-doubt and thinking poorly about yourself. We know that is a trigger for most people towards more emotional eating.

Don’t get caught in thinking traps: This is all or nothing thinking. Most of us have had those times when we stray from our daily plan and then say to ourselves “well I’m off track now, I failed again” and decide to let the whole plan go. Get in touch with these thoughts and don’t use it as an excuse to go off your eating and fitness plan. Remind yourself that you can get back on track and follow your plan for setbacks to minimize the number of them. Being aware of negative emotions and thoughts will help you take charge of them instead of automatically responding to them.

Mindfulness: Research has proven over and over again that infusing our minds with relaxation and calm has a direct link with overall physical and mental health. This is an important tool to manage emotional eating, anxiety, depression, chronic stress, chronic health challenges and sleeplessness. Mindfulness has proven to reduce the release of stress hormones (the fight or flight hormones) that have been correlated with belly fat. There are many ways to be mindful.

Mindful Meditation and Breathing: The ingredients for mindful moments are engaging in an action with intention (on purpose instead of automatically), a mental focusing tool (a guided meditation/breathing work) and a non-judgmental stance; meaning a moment of being kind to yourself.

Visualization: Can you visualize yourself accomplishing your daily goal, imagine your healthier, lighter, happier self? When you catch yourself thinking negatively, remind yourself of other situations when you have made positive changes. Tell yourself you can do this.

Mindful Eating Practices: Avoid eating in front of the TV, computer or while driving. Pay attention to the experience of eating, tastes, texture, feeling of full and gratitude. Explore this topic and apps like “www.donothingfor2minutes.com”, “www.Stop BreathThink.com”.

Start connecting: You’re likely to give in to emotional eating if you lack a good support network. Talk with friends and family, join a support group or start attending “meet-ups” to get connected with others who share your interests. Being lonely and isolated increases negative emotions and decreases our self worth. Seek support from your network or a therapist to develop an action plan to get more connected.

Set Yourself Up For Success: Scan your environment. Don’t keep too many comfort foods readily available in your home. Have healthy snacks prepared. Don’t grocery shop when you are feeling negative emotions. It’s better to postpone and engage in an activity that you have learned soothes your emotions.

Seek Professional Help: We all need help at times in our life. Overeating and being over weight are often symptoms of mental health problems or poor self worth. Seek support from a therapist, nutritional counsellor, personal trainer and physician as well as holistic health options such as acupuncture, Naturopathy etc.

Written by Inspired Life on January 20th, 2018. Posted in Articles, Blog

By Angie Holstein, MSW, RSW

Most parents of teenagers will tell you that it’s hardly a stress free period in the parenting journey. It’s difficult to think back to your own teenage years but upon reflection, you may remember it as a time of idealism, risk taking and conflict within your family.

When you consider the teen years as a period of intense mind and body development (physically, emotionally and intellectually), it is understandable that it is a time of confusion for many families, as you help them grow into the unique individuals that they are striving, and sometimes “fighting” with you, to be.

Research shows that teens are at a higher risk for mental health challenges during the adolescent period. Mental health includes our emotional, psychological, social and spiritual well-being. It affects how we think, learn, feel, act, and even our physical health.

Mental health is important at every stage of life from childhood and adolescence right through into adulthood.

A consistent message, from both pioneers in parenting research and current researchers, is this: the attachment and connections that our kids form with us as parents/guardians is a central predictor for their mental health and emotional well-being and makes them feel valued. In turn, they can learn to love themselves. In fact, this is the very foundation for mental health. Additionally, these connections will set them up for healthy relationships in their own adulthood.

Connecting can be difficult for parents when hearing ‘leave me alone’ and ‘can’t I just be in my room by myself?’ It often seems like for teenager’s, their only non-school related motivation comes from their friends and social media. As a parent, this can be tough and feel rejecting. It doesn’t seem that long ago when their sticky fingers were pulling at your sleeve and asking for you to ‘come and color’ with them.

Teenagers tell me that there are things that their parents do to help foster a connection with them and things that their parents do that drive them away. Feeling connected to their parents means that they feel their parent is a safe person to talk to when things are not going well in their lives. Teens advise parents to:

  • stop comparing them to other kids or to you at that age (it is a different time!)
  • don’t scold them when they come to you for help
  • let mistakes happen and let them try to figure things out first.

Meaningful change takes time, consistency, evaluation and effort. Research tells us that behavior and emotional changes can take anywhere from 30-90 days of consistent practice. Remember not to give up as there will be moments when you will feel discouraged.

So, what can you do as a parent to stay connected and help safeguard your teen’s mental health? Here are a few strategies to consider:

Breathe and practice self-compassion: Parenting is difficult and it’s not meant to be easy. It’s full of negative emotions such as anger and resentment. It’s normal, so give yourself a break, be good enough and know that you are exactly what your kids need.

“Connecting is best before Directing”: Gordon Neufeld (in his book Hold On To Your Kids: Why Parents Need to Matter More Than Peers), describes “collecting” our kids emotionally with some basic strategies such as physical closeness, touch, eye contact, nods and smiles. Think of trying these when you are saying hello again after work/school.

Share failures and mistakes as a family: Sharing our mistakes lets kids know it’s ok for them to do the same and gives you a dinner time or car ride topic when it’s often hard to find one. This is a great opportunity to provide some important role modeling.

Roses and Thorns: At the end of the day, ask ‘what was a rose today (something positive)?’ and ‘what was a thorn (challenge)?’ This teaches kids that you are interested in the process of their endeavors, the challenges they have experienced, as well as the successes.

Be available: Although it goes without saying, it can be hard to do. Carolyn Webster-Stratton (The Incredible Years Parenting Program), one of the early pioneers in parenting research, tells us that 15 minutes of connection per day adds to kids’ emotional currency. For teenagers it can be just hanging around at bedtime, when they brush teeth, or driving to activities. The key is making it a time without instructions, teaching or agendas.

Be OK with when you are not available: These are busy times. When you can’t be there, let them know by a note, text or email that you miss them and when you will be able to have some connection time next.

Limits and support: Boundaries and rules create a secure attachment and support a healthy parenting relationship. Giving kids everything they want creates feelings of insecurity whereas rules, routines and consistency support their mental health and resiliency.

Avoiding the Perfectionism Trap: Let your relationship be good enough. Know you are what they need.

Listen and resist the urge to problem solve: Actively listening sets the stage for a relationship where they can feel heard and that they are taken seriously.

Written by Inspired Life on November 6th, 2017. Posted in Articles, Blog

Understanding Stress and Making Small Changes Can Make a Big Difference.
By: Angie Holstein, MSW, RSW

Adults, children and teens are more stressed than ever as our culture has become faster moving and more demanding with it’s expectations. From constant emails, texts, and social media to finding time to work out, eat healthy and look great. The feeling we have to do it all can be hard to escape, so it’s not surprising that we feel stressed and, at times, totally burnt out. This culture of stress is being passed down to the younger generations in what is called stress contagion. Emotions are highly contagious, meaning the emotional storms of others automatically trigger the stress response in us unless we are doing something to intentionally counter it.

In my work with adolescents, I’ve noticed that talking about being stressed and not sleeping enough is a way they can convey that they are hardworking and achieving. Has appearing stressed and sleep deprived really become a badge of honour? We rarely hear talk about self-care strategies or the good nights of sleep they are getting. However, our bodies are talking honestly. They are telling us to slow down. Science now confirms what has been known for centuries: the mind and body are deeply connected. Stress not only lowers our mood and creates anxiety, but it also diminishes the body. Whether your stress is chronic in nature or comes in spurts, it affects our mental and physical health. Dr. Gabor Mate convinced me of this in his book “When the Body Says No – Exploring the Stress and Disease Connection”. More than 90% of medical visits and 80% of diseases are stress related.

When we are stressed our bodies automatically initiate what is called the Stress Response. Here is what happens:

Mind: An individual’s response to stress is controlled by the central nervous system (the brain and spinal chord). When stressed, the body signals the adrenal gland in the brain to “spray” epinephrine to initiate the “fight – flight -freeze response.” Being stressed is a signal that danger is present. Triggers for this process are varied and range from: a bear running at you; being called on in class for the answer; walking into a room and knowing no one; someone cutting you off in traffic; trying on clothes and feeling inadequate. These triggers signal the brain to release hormones, such as cortisol, to sustain this on-guard response state.

The effects of these hormones on the body are as follows: 

  • Feeling nauseous from improper digestion. This is caused by increased blood flow to the muscles, therefore reducing the blood flow to the gastrointestinal tract.
  • Dilation of blood vessels. 
  • Increased breathing rate.
  • Increased heart rate and blood pressure. 
  • Increased blood sugar levels in order to provide more energy for this process to occur.

For many individuals this process occurs multiple times a day, every day of every week leading to a state of chronic stress and poor mental and physical health.

Some Common Signs and Consequences of Stress:


  • Mood swings
  • Irritability
  • Feelings of isolation
  • Lack of focus
  • Memory difficulties
  • Depression and anxiety
  • Poor judgment
  • Chronic worry
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Anger


  • Headaches and migraines
  • Breathing difficulties
  • High blood pressure
  • Intestinal upset or Irritable Bowel Syndrome
  • Muscle pain and tension
  • Hair loss
  • Sleep disturbance
  • Weight Gain
  • Cancer
  • Diabetes
  • Infertility
  • Hormone imbalances

Almost 50% of Canadians say stress is negatively impacting their personal and professional lives. This can lead to feelings of helplessness to these automatic responses within the body and confusion about how to alleviate it. All of us have the ability, with self-compassion, life management skills and intention, to maintain our well-being. Consider some of the tips below and remember that small changes can have a big impact.

Quick Tips

Learn and practice saying “No” and “Later”. A common cause of stress is having too much to do and too little time in which to do it. Learning to say “No” to additional or unimportant requests will help to reduce your level of stress, and may also help you develop more self-confidence. If a direct “No” is difficult, try: “Now is not a good time…” or “I would love to, but…” 

Journal: Keep a journal exploring your relationship with stress. First write down your Roses or “bright spots” from the day. What are you already doing in your day to reduce stress? Praise yourself and share this with another person. Second, write down the Thorns or challenges you experienced. Finish with your Buds or hopes for tomorrow. This is a parenting technique for anxious children and adolescents and valuable as a whole family approach. 

Assess and reduce your Trauma Input. Be mindful and intentional about what you watch. Be proactive about creating a balance between crime related shows like “Criminal Minds” or the evening news and integrating some shows that are light and funny like “Modern Family”. 

Practice Transition Rituals from work/school to home. For example: change your clothes, take a 2-10 minute pause using a meditation app such as www.donothingfor2minutes.com.

Take a non-judgmental, detailed Inventory of what’s on your plate right now (work, family, home, health, volunteering, other). What stands out? Seek the help of family, friends or a therapist to help you make changes to the problem areas. Learn from the example of others who’ve shared their experiences with this idea. Like Cheryl Richardson’s book “Take time for your life” (1998). 

Practice Delegating. Start small by identifying one task from your week and delegating it to another person, either at home, work or school. 

Declutter your living and work environment. If you haven’t used something in more than a year, can you consider getting rid of it? 

Learn more from books, talking to others or web based research about managing your stress with self-awareness and self-compassion.

Maintain your physical health. Exercise, sleep (7-8 hours), eating a balanced diet, regular medical check ups, reducing caffeine and processed products. If you want to understand more about the impact of stress on the body, consider reading: Gabor Mate, When the Body Says No: The Cost of Hidden Stress

Meditation and self-compassion. Schedule and practice a pause every day. Sometimes the thought of this can be overwhelming so start by building in 2 mindful moments in a week. Celebrate your efforts. Experiment with different resources and don’t wait until the dishes are done or that last assignment handed in! www.donothingfor2minutes.com/ www.stopbreathethink.com/ – a quick and simple tool to guide people through self-awareness, mindfulness and self-compassion. Consider building a brief meditation into existing structures of your day i.e. 2-5 minutes at the beginning of meetings, as a family, before bed or in your car before going into your home. 

Practice daily Gratitude by writing; making a mental note to yourself or sharing with another. Studies are showing changes to neural pathways with this practice.

Be aware of your thoughts. Talk openly to a friend, colleague or a trained professional that can help support and find solutions to your stress.

Written by Inspired Life on May 1st, 2014. Posted in Blog, Products and Reviews

Here is a great article we came across on MAP, Master Amino Acid Pattern, one of the main components to our 10 Day Transformation!

Master Amino Acid Protein
A Discovery That Redefines Supplementation

We are all aware of the importance of protein as one of the fundamental nutritional macronutrients required on a daily basis for optimal health. In fact the word protein itself is derived from a Greek word “proteos” that means “primary” or “that which takes the first place.” High quality nutritional protein is critical in the diet in order to obtain the essential constituent amino acids that the body cannot produce itself in order to synthesize the variety of structural and functional proteins in the body ranging from enzymes to hormonal chemical messengers to structural proteins such as collagen and elastin to immunoproteins and transport proteins such as lipoproteins for example that transport lipids in the blood. The diversity and range of proteins in the body is vast. Without them life would simply not be possible. The protein choices that we make each and every day directly influence our ability to function, regenerate and heal at an optimal level.

Protein in human metabolism is a complex topic. There are so many factors that need to be considered such as the type and quality of protein consumed as well as how protein is digested and subsequently absorbed and metabolized by the individual. To give one example, as we age our levels of hydrochloric acid in the stomach dramatically decline. Hydrochloric acid is absolutely essential for the conversion of pepsinogen to pepsin that facilitates the digestion of protein before entering the small intestine. Something as seemingly simple as this could impair the entire chain of events to follow. Protein will not be broken down and adequate essential amino acids will not be available for the synthesis of new tissue. Consider also the vegan or vegetarian who may not get the adequate amount or proportion of essential amino acids or the athlete or fitness enthusiast with higher protein needs.

For many, protein powders in smoothies as an adjunct to other daily protein has become the answer, however, many will be shocked to learn that isolated protein powders (whether they be whey, soy, pea, rice, hemp or any other protein isolate) are not the most efficient and effective way to obtain one’s daily protein requirements. A nutritional discovery was made by Dr. Luca-Moretti known as the Master Amino Acid Pattern® (MAP™), which is a very specific proportionality between the essential amino acids (not created by the body) for body protein synthesis. It represents the exact sequence of amino acids required for human nutrition; with only 1% metabolic waste and 99% of the constituent amino acids following the anabolic pathway to act as building blocks for the body’s many different proteins. This proportionality of amino acids is six times more effective than all protein powders or amino acid supplements. It is also three times more effective than dietary proteins such as meat, fish or poultry with an average of only 32% of their constituent amino acids acting as precursors for body protein synthesis.

Increasing one’s protein intake is often recommended in any weight loss program. The explosion of the paleo diet and people’s success stories are telling, however, few consider the long-term implications of high protein diets on kidney and liver as well as overall energy expenditure. Clinical studies have shown that the Master Amino Acid Pattern® (MAP™), can substitute dietary proteins or protein supplements in a safer and nutritionally more effective way. MAP™ provides a Body Protein Synthesis per minute

(BPS/min) equal to 99% NNU/ 23 min. It is 100% digested, 100% absorbed and 99% Net Nitrogen Utilized in 23 minutes without fecal waste and with no stress on the kidney or liver. The results of a comparative, double-blind, triple- and quintuple-crossover Net Nitrogen Utilization (NNU) clinical study has shown that 1% of MAP’s constituent amino acids followed the catabolic pathway, thus releasing only 1% of nitrogen catabolites and energy. By comparison dietary proteins release an average of 68% nitrogen catabolites and energy.

Results of a multi-centric study have shown that by giving MAP™ as a sole and total substitute of dietary proteins to 500 overweight participants undergoing the American Nutrition Clinics/Overweight Management Program (ANC/OMP), the participants’ body nitrogen balance could be maintained in equilibrium with essentially no calories (MAP 1 g=0.04 kcal), thereby preserving the body’s structural and functional proteins, eliminating excessive water retention and preventing the sudden weight increase after the study. The results have shown that the use of MAP™ had the ability to prevent the adverse effects associated with a negative nitrogen balance, such as oversized or flabby tissue, stretch marks, sagging of breast tissue, increased hair loss, faded hair color, and fragile or brittle nails.

In a study of a 51-year-old female athlete during a desert crossing, while taking MAP™ as a sole and total substitute for dietary protein, and performing physical activity, the results showed increased body muscle mass, strength, and endurance, decreased body fat mass, greater increase in performance of the non-prevailing muscles compared to the prevailing muscles, improved cardio-respiratory performance and increased red blood cells.

In another study of 20 track athletes, those taking MAP™ as a dietary protein substitute had increased body muscle mass, strength, and endurance, decreased fat mass, increased basal metabolism rate and improved muscular and hematologic lactate clearance, which allows for better muscle performance and faster muscle recovery after physical activity.

This vegetarian protein is in a tablet form and can be taken at any time with or without a meal. While the individual dosage may vary according to nutritional status, age, gender, and the intensity and frequency of physical activity, the average suggested daily dosage should be 5-10 tablets a day. This product is readily available in most health food stores. The optimization of body protein synthesis from MAP™ will be of benefit for anyone wanting to increase lean muscle, strength and endurance, reduce fat, improve skin and connective tissue and provide faster recovery after physical activity. It is the ultimate protein source for the vegetarian or vegan, the aging whose digestive abilities are beginning to slow down, those recovering from any ailment needing to harness the body’s energy, athletes and anyone interested in optimizing anti-aging, slowing down degeneration and increasing rejuvenation.

Renita Rietz is a health and nutrition writer and speaker who educates on the phytotherapeutic potential of indigenous foods and plants for prevention and regeneration.

This article appears in the April 2014 issue of Tonic Toronto