Category Archives: commentary

Making Life Good Recommends August 2020

It has been lovely to enjoy the Canadian summer weather even although things are so different than summers past. Outdoor reading is best at this time.

Here are some books I enjoyed and recommend this month:

Sex and Vanity by Kevin Kwan. Another fun and frivolous novel by the author of Crazy Rich Asians. Quite perfect escapism while travel is limited

Becoming Supernatural by Joe Dispenza. This book was a truly inspiring read that combines technical understanding of what happens during deep meditation and real life stories of healing. Great reminder to meditate and open your mind daily.

Stand Out of Our Light by James Williams. Great quick read that shows us some ways technology affects our attention and our lives along with some philosophy

In relation to technology I have enjoyed many episodes of this podcast, this is of particular interest since I do not appreciate the auto recommendations on you tube or spotify. This podcast explains what is behind the autoplay:

https://www.humanetech.com/podcast/4-down-the-rabbit-hole-by-design

Being in the field of natural health, I have observed some a disturbing trend of adamant misinformation along with a lack of critical thinking. I’ve been following the Conspirituality podcast and it brings great discussion:

Making Life Good Recommends July 2020

This month marks 20 years of being a fitness trainer for me. With a worldwide pandemic, life certainly is very different, which requires adaptation and at the same time maintaining our health and fitness is more important than ever. Traditional chinese medicine acupuncture will soon be an additional service I offer. Fitness remains my first love and I very much hope to get back to teaching classes again soon.

It has been my habit to read every book that inspires me or comes highly recommended for many years now. I started keeping track of what I read over a decade ago when a friend asked how many books I read in a year. My answer was 20 and when I actually checked to be sure I was telling the truth…it was the truth and the number of books has only increased over the years. What is measured, improves-

Here are my book recommendations for this month:

Atomic Habits by James Clear-great book that breaks down how we can make effective small changes that add up to be consistent new habits that vastly improve our live.

The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg-I cannot recommend Atomic Habits without also recommending this book, as it was also an excellent perhaps slightly more entertaining book. I very much appreciated learning about the ways our habits are shaped without our knowing.

The Death of Expertise by Tom Nichols-this book came to by attention based on this clip: https://www.pbs.org/newshour/show/problem-thinking-know-experts In this current environment of rampant misinformation, I found this book to be helpful in comprehending how we came to this sad state of affairs. I laughed a few times and also realized the gravity of having large groups of people be led by their feelings and bypassing any form of reasoning. One of the recommendations Tom Nichols had for having a more functional democracy is for the American population to be more engaged in civics and understand their political system. Interestingly, just before finishing the book, I learned of A Starting Point platform which Captain America (Chris Evans) launched for the purpose of educating and engaging more of the population https://www.astartingpoint.com

Being in the field of health and fitness, it has been so disheartening to find so much misinformation being shared on social media. This podcast was incredibly informative in understanding the forces behind the phenomenon: https://rebelwisdom.podbean.com/e/can-truth-survive-big-tech-tristan-harris/

This TED talk is shorter: https://www.ted.com/talks/tristan_harris_how_a_handful_of_tech_companies_control_billions_of_minds_every_day?language=en

So we really must be mindful of where we place our attention, plus sanity doesn’t sell

Famous or Infamous?

Through an interesting synchronicity of events, I was inadvertently photographed shopping with Dr. Blessyl Buan at lifestyle clothing retailer Lole recently. The article featured in the Globe and Mail is quite interesting: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/montreals-lole-takes-aim-at-struggling-lululemon-market/article18116318/ 

A close friend joked that I was famous and my response was I would prefer to be infamous with her for having ridiculously positive, kaleidoscopic vision to share expansive energy. Later that week I unknowingly met someone famous at a fundraiser and the question of famous and infamous came to me again. I feel that fame is what you are known for and infamy despite the negative connotation (perhaps a bit of mischief is good!) is the effect you create.  Would you prefer to be famous or infamous-is an interesting philosophical question to consider for what you may wish to create in your life.

Ps. It is possible to be famous and infamous at the same time, like the current mayor of Toronto, who is so notorious that there is no need to name him or his many spectacular deeds.

 

Cookie Monster-love him and cookies!

A friend had this on her facebook the other day shortly after the topic of memes came up in conversation around the dinner table (it was a nice surprise I knew what they are!)

Cookie Monster's Trainer

Who is Cookie Monster’s Trainer? Making Life Good recommends Vivian Law

I love this photo and I instantly realized that I would love to be Cookie Monster or Alistair Cookie’s trainer, happy to be at ‘fault’. Cookie Monster is a such a lovable and funny character-I fail to see how human weight ideals apply to him, as he is a furry blue monster! I would join him in shoveling vast quantities of cookies towards our faces and making a big mess in general-we could do lots of speed, endurance and clean up training specific to…cookies!!

When the question of Cookie Monster’s potential negative influence on the eating habits of children arises, I feel we are forgetting that children have inborn appetite regulation we can foster and the appeal of the character is his outrageousness. Apparently he has been changed to enjoy some healthy foods in addition to cookies-watch this hilarious interview where we learn much about his preferences: 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ssoSiZAqN98

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ssoSiZAqN98

Cookie Monster has a singular love for cookies and we can learn from his enthusiasm. We are constantly around messages of ‘this or that food is bad’, ‘we should not be eating this or that’…and we end up eating the foods in judgement at some point anyway. Becoming aware and letting go of our internal conflict around our food choices creates a more harmonious relationship within ourselves and food. Let’s take a cue with a ‘C’ from Cookie Monster and eat delicious food we love with clarity and enthusiasm. ‘C is for cookie, that’s good enough for me’

A most important posture

Easy pose, meditation

Easy pose, meditation

Sitting crossed legged is a posture that I choose often, on the ground, on a couch, in an office chair and for meditation. I find the position to be most comfortable for me to stay still for a period of time. I realize the posture is not available or comfortable for everyone (it does improve with practice, I promise), however, getting down, sitting on and getting up from the ground are movements we want to cultivate for healthy spine, hips, knees and ankles.

In addition, I have learned through my studies in yoga that siddhasana (essentially sitting crossed legged on the ground), as referenced in the Hatha Yoga Pradipika and Light on Yoga is one of the most important postures we can practice. The posture allows us to have a long spine with optimal relaxation throughout the rest of the body. Sitting tall gives us better awareness and alignment to our subtle energy, so we can be a meditative state. Taking a few minutes to sit cross legged on the ground, on a block, on cushions and bringing our attention to our breathing is a meditative break we can practice daily.

IMG_3782

Mind what you eat and say

I recently came across this thought from yogi Dharma Mittra in his book ASANAS 608 yoga poses:

Essentially, if you control your mouth-what you put into it and what comes out of it-you’ve controlled much of your mind already.

Being mindful of what we eat and what we say is practice in living truthfully.

5 keys to right speech from Buddhism:

 

‘It is spoken at the right time. It is spoken in truth. It is spoken affectionately. It is spoken beneficially. It is spoken in good will.’

Say what you mean and mean what you say is my interpretation, and it also applies to food choices.

 

 

Add Thanksgiving: for fat loss

As a fitness trainer extraordinaire, I have given suggestions for health, fitness, and fat loss on innumerable occasions.  I notice that quite frequently what I suggest sounds almost ‘too easy’, as there is a generally pervasive mindset that being healthy and losing weight is an onerous undertaking. The truth is, our thoughts, feelings and daily habits make all the difference and are entirely changeable starting in the smallest of ways. On Thanksgiving, a natural starting point is to appreciate all that we have in our lives, and the first step in making a difference. I invite you to consider making dietary and lifestyle changes from a positive approach of adding to your diet and lifestyle. The intention is to take positive action to take care of yourself at this moment.

Here is my top 5 list of Making Life Good concepts to add to your diet and lifestyle:

1. Notice and be mindful of all that you have in your life

2. Take time to truly enjoy food and drink

3. Eat more green vegetables

4. Drink herbal tea

5. Eat more fibre

 

Ps. The best part is the list above is easily applied anytime and for a Thanksgiving feast-Happy Thanksgiving!

On Meditation

Many of us believe that meditation is good for us, as the prevalent belief is meditating can clear our minds. Meditation can help to clear our minds, especially when practiced on a regular basis. I strongly believe the first step in meditation is simply to observe what is on our minds. I have heard many times ‘I am unable to meditate, because I have too much going on in my mind’.

I invite you to sit for one to five minutes, breathe and simply notice what is going through your mind. The exercise is even more pleasant when you are outdoors or focusing your eyes on a photo or piece of art (we’ll call it scenery). See if you can focus on your breathing and the scenery. Then simply notice what is crossing your mind without judgement. This is a start to meditation and you most certainly can do it-

 

Book Review: The Fast Diet

I learned of The Fast Diet when a client told me about a BBC special done by Dr Mike Mosley on the health benefits of fasting. Due to my prodigious internet skills, I was unable to watch even clips of the video, so I bought the book and read it. I read a fair amount of diet books in order to answer questions from clients intelligently.

The Fast Diet is one of the more scientifically and psychologically sound diet plans I have read. The premise is simple: fasting by eating 500-600 calories 2 days per week is conducive to weight loss, an improved insulin response and reduced risk of age related diseases. If you do not have much weight to lose, fasting for a day at occasionally can still offer the same health benefits.

Intermittent fasting is based on the premise that you can give your body a ‘break’ from the constant work of digesting food and essentially reset your hormonal response. The author of the Fast Diet points out that the eating pattern they suggest mimics that of a naturally thin person. A person’s appetite can vary from day to day, so their caloric intake can vary on a daily basis, and comes to a steady average over time.

I have not tried the 2 days per week of fasting that is suggested in The Fast Diet. However, I do notice I eat less if I’m not hungry, so I am naturally inclined to fast a little, very occasionally. In addition to the rare occasions that I have little appetite, I try to eat very lightly when I take long flights, as it helps me minimize jet lag. Airport food can be so unappealing that I choose to not eat and prefer to wait for a decent meal at my destination.

The Fast Diet is well worth reading if you want to learn more about intermittent fasting and/or try a doable eating program for health benefits and weight loss. If you don’t read the book, you can always try to listen to your body and eat according to your appetite, which most likely will vary. Eating less for just one day is doable for most of us.

Zen Exercise Garden?

I went to Canada Blooms yesterday and came across an ‘exercise garden’ that received an award for innovation. It is a wonderful innovation to plan an outdoor space with exercise in mind. One of my favourite ways to exercise is outdoors and many clients and friends feel the same way.

I would love for everyone to experience an indoor/outdoor space that is designed with mindfulness and physical activity in mind-a zen exercise garden.

And enjoying a nearby park is always a great too:

 

The view from an all time favourite run in a Toronto Park

The view from an all time favourite run in a Toronto Park