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Healthy Living

Healthy Living (10)

Workout for Workplace Performance

Everyone knows that working out helps you look and feel better, but there are many reasons for those of us who aren’t ‘athletes’ to take performance training seriously.

When I first graduated university I struggled to buy into corporate culture. Growing up I was into sports and working out, so when I was assigned to a desk and sitting most of the day I found it challenging to continue my fitness habits. This was until I discovered Jim Loehr and Tony Schartz’s book The Power of Full Engagement. In this book they outline the concept of the ‘Corporate Athlete,’ drawing comparisons between work performance and physical performance.

“Managing energy, not time, is the key to high performance.”  

Here are three reasons everyone should take their fitness seriously:

Improved brain power

According to a 2007 study, regular physical exercise improves cognitive functions and lowers the risk for age-related cognitive decline. Learning performance was assessed directly after high impact anaerobic sprints, low impact aerobic running, or a period of rest in 27 healthy subjects in a randomized cross-over design. The study found that vocabulary learning was 20 percent faster after intense physical exercise as compared to the other two conditions.2

Reduced Stress

Science supports that exercise does in fact reduce stress. “These improvements in mood are proposed to be caused by exercise-induced increase in blood circulation to the brain and by an influence on the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis and, thus, on the physiologic reactivity to stress.”3

“Not only does training increase energy levels, it also affects how we deal with the energy in our lives. Participants in interval training noticed lower blood pressure and stronger immune system.”1

More control over the rest of your life

Not all the benefits are completely scientific, for us to buy into these ideas we need to feel the difference as well. As entrepreneur Joshua Steimle says, “With the loss of physical health my productivity at work goes down. I become depressed. I lose motivation to do the things that makes my business successful. I’ve learned firsthand that excellence in one area of my life promotes excellence in all other areas of my life. Exercise is the easiest area of my life to control.”4

Making Space

Identify goals / bad habits

So let's look at ourselves currently. To make room for something new, we need to cut something old. Let’s say for example I’m going to cut TV (I love live sports). Regardless, I don’t need to catch every game on a nightly basis. And I’m sure everyone has a guilty pleasure or something they can swap with a more positive habit such as working out.

Zorro Circle

In his book The Happiness Advantage, author Shawn Achor outlines the benefit of setting small manageable goals with a concept called the Zorro Circle. “The concept of the Zorro Circle is a powerful metaphor for how we can achieve our most ambitious goals in our jobs, our careers, and our personal lives...Yet when our stresses and workloads seem to mount faster than our ability to keep up, feelings of control are often the first things to go, especially when we try to tackle too much at once. If, however, we first concentrate our efforts on small manageable goals, we regain the feeling of control so crucial to performance.”5

So I set aside 15 minutes to exercise, which is enough time to start. Keep it in the Zorro Circle and build momentum. There are few options available: go for a walk or run, ride a bike or do a bodyweight workout.

The Seven Minute Workout: The easiest way to start!

The Seven Minute Workout: The easiest way to start!
Image courtesy of New York Times

Even a brief walk at low intensity can improve mood and increase energy. As little as 10 minutes of aerobic exercise can have a positive effect.

“The best workout is the one you do.”

We need to make it easy on ourselves and lower the barrier to entry.

20 Second Rule

If you’re interested in ideas on how to take more control of your life, The Happiness Advantage is a must read. Another great concept that helped me was the 20 second rule. “Lower the activation energy for habits you want to adopt, and raise it for habits you want to avoid. The more we can lower or even eliminate the activation energy for our desired actions, the more we enhance our ability to jump-start positive change.”5

For example, if you want to work out in the morning, lay out your clothes the night before. If your gym is too far, sign up at a closer one. If that’s not close enough, clear out your living room.

Building Momentum

Momentum is the key to making this habit actually stick. Now that we’ve lowered the barrier to entry and are doing some light workouts, keep doing them! One of the great things about working out is the endorphins released by your body. It feels great, and your body will eventually be craving them (to the point where you’ll need these workouts).

Workout for Workplace Performance
  1 Loehr, Jim, and Tony Schwartz. The power of full engagement: managing energy, not time, is the key to high performance and personal renewal. New York: Free Press, 2004. Print.
  2 Winter, Berward. "High impact running improves learning." Neurobiology of Learning and Memory 87.4 (2007): 597-609. Web.
  3 Guszkowska M.. Effects of exercise on anxiety, depression and mood [in Polish] Psychiatr Pol. 2004;38:611–620.
  4 http://time.com/3843445/exercising-higher-priority-business/
  5 Achor, Shawn. The happiness advantage: the seven principles of positive psychology that fuel success and performance at work. London: Virgin, 2010. Print.

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Reconnecting to Positive Emotions for Good Health

We all know that negative emotions can lead us to a dark place of sadness, unhappiness and depression. But they can also negatively affect the nervous system by increasing the heart rate, constricting blood flow and increasing the blood pressure. Over time, when we stay in this negative state, keeping our bodies in constant sympathetic state – that fight or flight, we can negatively impact immune system to cause long health issues such as heart disease or even cancer. In contrast, positive emotions can undo the lingering cardiovascular effects of these negative emotions by calming the nervous system and slowing the heart rate to its baseline activity.

According to Barbara Fredrickson, renowned researcher on positive emotions and author of Positivity: “experiencing positive emotions broadens people's minds and builds their resourcefulness in ways that help them become more resilient to adversity and effortlessly achieve what they once could only imagine.”

While this is encouraging and we may even know this already, how do we get there? And then, how do we stay there consistently? Life is stressful. Sometimes even messy. Just the day to day stuff seems to send us over the edge, but there are so many things beyond our control – illness of family members, trauma, financial or work-related challenges. Sometimes we sink into that place of negative emotion and it seems like it sucks us in like a dark pit. And of course, when we have had trauma in the past, we begin to anticipate or even create a future trauma event in our mind. It may not even be reality, but because our bodies believe and react to it, it becomes our reality.

So where do we begin. This is definitely part of a life-long lesson for me. But as I experience each birthday, apart from being grateful for another healthy year, I have started an internal quest on how to make such changes for my own well-being – physical, emotional, mental and spiritual. But then it’s all part of the same whole, isn’t it? As much as we try to separate one aspect of ourselves from the other, we quickly realize that everything is interconnected within us. While I strive for healthy living, I don’t profess to know all the answers. But I do know what works for me.

  1. Connecting to the present moment. It seems like this phrase is used so often but I’m not sure if everyone understands what it means or how to do this. For me, it means acknowledging how I am feeling right at this very moment. When it involves anger or tears, there is usually a fair amount of judgment sometimes directed at someone else or even myself. And because I am conflict adverse, it is difficult for me let go of these emotions. Sometimes it means allowing the emotion to surface – anger or sadness – and then hopefully let it go. But I usually have to dig a bit deeper.
  2. Breathe. I use this word a lot when I am teaching a yoga class. And I have had it directed to me when I am in a state of panic. When I’m in that negative place, someone telling me to breathe doesn’t help much. It only aggravates my emotion. But when I take a moment, close my eyes and tap into conscious breathing, it’s like taking a magic pill. Everything comes into focus. My body calms. My head stops spinning. The colour red raging within me dims to a gentle soft pink. Nothing seems quite so urgent.
  3. Gratitude. When we have a sick child, lost our job or our own health is at risk, it may be challenging to find gratitude. I have discovered that there are always blessings if you look more closely. When our son was sick, the blessings were the incredible care he received, the support of family and friends and the beautiful blessing of our own little unit closing ranks and taking care of each other. Those blessings have become the backbone of underlying respect and love among our family. The worry was real. But the love and the blessings turned out to be stronger. I find truth in the words of Walt Disney: “The more you are in a state of gratitude, the more you will attract things to be grateful for.”
  4. Meditation. “The most significant health benefits of meditation are stress reduction, better sleep, lower blood pressure, improved immunity and the ability to stay centered in the midst of all the turmoil that's going on around you. Meditation helps you do less and accomplish more,” says Dr. Deepak Chopra, renowned author, public speaker and spiritual leader. I began incorporating meditation into my daily habits after following a 21-day guided meditation series offered by Dr. Chopra and Oprah. From there my practice started slowly, but has gradually evolved over the last few years. There are days when I don’t feel as though I am truly meditating. I can’t seem to shut out the morning noise of our home, people shuffling around the house making breakfast and chatting over coffee. Setting distractions aside, every morning I begin by setting an intention for my day. I connect with what’s going on in my body, my mind and my heart. Yes, somedays are a little precarious, but then others are a peaceful, gentle way to start off the day. On the days I don’t have time to meditate, I feel off-balance. It was only in comparing these off-balance days to the others that I realized my daily meditation practice has positively impacted my daily mood. It sets the tone for my entire day.
  5. Lifestyle changes. We all know physical activity has many health benefits – it strengthens the heart and improves lung function, it reduces risk factors for coronary disease and diabetes. Also, people who are physically active have reduced risk of depression and declining cognitive function as we age. For me, yoga is my magic potion. And I also walk. It doesn’t really matter what you do, just keep moving. Any sort of body movement is like an instant jolt of happy for me. Diet is also important. Not only does it help with our weight, which can negatively impact our heart on overall health, there is so much new research on the foods we eat and how it affects our brain health. Over the last few years, I have made some drastic changes in my diet which have positively impacted my mood and well- being. At first it was eliminating a few things, and then adding more healthy options but it has been a gradual transition. And I definitely savour the treats when I can, although not as often.
  6. Changing the movie in our head. This has been a work in progress. I have a tendency to go over events and situations in my mind, as I’m sure we all do. Usually these movies are negative events. When we do this, we are definitely not living in the present moment. In fact, we are actually bringing the past into the present and allowing it to also impact our future. Dr. Joe Dispenza, author of Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself, says “We are capable of reliving a past event over and over, perhaps thousands of times in one lifetime.” He says this unconscious repetition trains the body to remember the emotional state better than the conscious mind so that this becomes a habit. Now when I find myself doing this, I try to push the stop or pause button right away, take that deep breath and redirect my thoughts. With each breath, I try to release and let the negative thought and subsequent emotion go. Sometimes it may involve forgiving someone or even myself. If I’m walking, I connect to my surroundings. The fun part is creating a new story to replace the old negative thought pattern, but the key is in believing your new story. Now I focus on what’s good in my world, what I am working on and why it will succeed. I’m a sucker for movies with happy endings, so that’s the story I have started telling myself in my mind. There are still many days when that same old drama seems to play on rewind, but I’m optimistic I can change that habit much like I have with the other positive habits I have introduced into my life.
  7. Letting go of Guilt. This one has been a challenge as well. I was brought up Catholic and I am a woman, sometimes it feels like guilt was built into my DNA at birth. But I am becoming more aware of why I do things. Now if there is something I feel uncomfortable in doing, I take a moment to ask myself why I’m doing the task or attending a function. If it’s not coming from my heart, I have to ask myself some tough questions. Sometimes saying no, has repercussions so I give in to the guilt and do things despite my misgivings. But I am slowly reaching the point of understanding that saying no often  means saying yes to me and my personal well-being.  

These are just a few things that have worked for me on my quest to welcome more positive emotions into my life, rather than dwell on the negative. They aren’t hard and fast rules because I am human and I definitely falter. Not every day is a ray of sunshine, but I can honestly say that I have more happy days than unhappy. And when I slip into the negative emotions, I can usually catch myself before I get too deep into the rabbit hole.

I agree with Dr. Dispenza when he says: “if we want to change some aspect of our reality, we have to think, feel and act in new ways; we have to “be” different in terms of our responses to experiences. We have to “become” someone else.” But it doesn’t have to happen overnight. In fact, I believe for change to last, it has to be gradual, an exploration of who you are, where you are right now and who you would like to become. Hopefully, when we make these changes it becomes easier to tap into more positive emotions to embrace well-being and a happier approach to life.

*The opinions expressed in this blog are strictly my own. Material presented is provided for informational purposes only. It may not apply to you as an individual, and is not a substitute for your own doctor’s medical care or advice.

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Taking a Hike in Nature is Good for your Brain Health

While the old adage that a walk in nature is good for the soul, two separate studies have taken the belief a step further to find that it is also good for our mental health.
Environmental factors play a critical role in how we think and behave. In today’s society, with more than 50% of the population living in urban areas filled with intense technology, loud sounds, and a multitude of disruptive activities, our surroundings can play havoc with our energy and stress levels. Our lives have strayed far away from the calming, restorative natural ecosystems. In fact, they are almost foreign to us.

One study, conducted by the Public Library of Science (PLOS), found that backpackers who spent three days hiking had increased creativity and cognitive ability.

“Attention Restoration Theory (ART) suggests that nature has specific restorative effects on the prefrontal cortex-mediated executive attentional system which can become depleted with overuse. High levels of engagement with technology and multitasking place demands on executive attention to switch amongst tasks, maintain task goals and inhibit irrelevant actions or cognitions.”

ART suggests that interactions with nature help replenish depleted attentional resources. Natural environments contrast the harsh jarring interactions of our modern society – the loud sounds, the fast pace, the multitasking – with a gentler, softer fascination which allow the executive attentional system to replenish. In fact, studies found that taking a wilderness hike led to improvements in proof reading and performance on the backwards digit span task. Also exposure to nature may also engage the “default mode” network which emerging literature suggests is important for peak psychosocial health. The default mode can be disrupted by multimedia use but on a hike with exposure to natural stimuli, the mind is better able to enter a state of introspection to engage the default mode.

While it is unclear why, people who live in urban settings also tend to have higher incidence of mental illness and rumination (repetitive thought focused on negative aspects of the self, a known risk factor for mental illness.) Another study conducted by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that spending time in nature decreases these obsessive, negative thoughts by a significant margin.

“Participants who went on a 90-min walk through a natural environment reported lower levels of rumination and showed reduced neural activity in an area of the brain linked to risk for mental illness compared with those who walked through an urban environment. These results suggest that accessible natural areas may be vital for mental health in our rapidly urbanizing world.”

Both studies suggest that there is still more work to be done, but these initial results can offer a viable alternative to restore brain function, provide stress relief or lift a dark mood. And the remedy may be as simple as putting on a pair of walking shoes and heading for the closest park or open space.

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Together our team raised over $4,000! Lymphoma Canada’s 2nd annual take it to the mat, the Great Yoga and Wellness event

Lymphoma Canada’s 2nd annual take it to the mat, the Great Yoga and Wellness event

On Sunday, November 15, 2015, Cameron and I participated in Lymphoma Canada’s 2nd annual take it to the mat, the Great Yoga and Wellness event held in Toronto’s CBC building. This year we were so pleased to welcome Linda Philp and Chantal Elward to our team. Together our team raised over $4,000! A special thank you to all of you who generously donated and participated in our Karma classes, we couldn’t have done it without you.

We enjoyed every moment of the day. During the morning, Master of Ceremonies and one of Canada’s leading Alternative Health experts, Bryce Wylde, shared his wisdom on healthy living; Keynote Speaker Louisa Jewell - Founder and President of the Canadian Positive Psychology Association – opened the door to how our emotional well-being affects our physical well-being through her talk The Science of Happiness;  and, Lymphoma Survivor and Kindergarten teacher Sarah Horgan spoke from her heart to share her poignant journey from illness to living cancer-free. In the afternoon, we practiced 108 minutes of yoga in the Barbara Frum Atrium with 100 participants. This year’s event raised approximately $140,000 in support of over 100,000 families living with Lymphoma.

Lymphoma Cancer is a challenge to explain as it encompasses over 50 types of cancer. But one statistic that resonates with our family is that Lymphoma is the number one cancer in young adults between the ages 18 and 39, and Hodgkin lymphoma is on the rise. It affects young people at a time in their life which should be filled with hope for the future. In listening to survivor stories, there are often challenges in the diagnosis. Patients may have symptoms of fatigue, a rash, trouble breathing, night sweats or loss of weight but the family physician couldn’t seem to pinpoint the cause. In some instances, it has taken over a year for a proper diagnosis. Just in the past few months, we have heard three separate stories of a delay in the diagnosis when success for survival depends on early treatment. Many of you will remember that Cameron was diagnosed with asthma before determining it was Stage 4b Hodgkin Lymphoma. So whether it’s a cough or overwhelming fatigue, we encourage you to be mindful of any abnormalities in your health. No one knows your body better than you. Trust yourself if it feels like something isn’t right. Be your own advocate to push for more answers to get to the root of an issue. If you have any questions about Lymphoma  or the organization, please access their website at www.lymphoma.ca

For our family and friends, take it to the mat has become a celebration of wellness that goes beyond the day. In the 10 years since Cameron’s diagnosis and treatment for Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, we are forever grateful for the gift of Cameron in our lives – a son, a brother and a friend. And we also try to take steps to celebrate our own lives. One of the blessings in the adversity of cancer – for the individual and family and friends – is gratitude for our health and each other.

Once again, thank you for your generosity and support. We are so blessed and grateful to have all of you in our lives.

Namaste,
Catherine and Cameron

See our image gallery below.

For more photos from the event, please visit Flickr page or Facebook Page.

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take it to the mat - the Great Yoga and Wellness event

take to the mat, the Great Yoga and Wellness event

On Sunday, November 2, 2014, we (Cameron and Catherine Mattice) joined over 130 people at the Canadian National Ballet School to participate in take to the mat, the Great Yoga and Wellness event in support of Lymphoma Canada. Thank you to our family and friends who generously donated over $4,000! In total, the event raised close to $150,000. All of the funds raised will enable Lymphoma Canada to further its mission of supporting over 80,000 Canadians living with lymphoma: Hodgkin, non-Hodgkin and CLL.

The entire day was a celebration of wellness. The morning sessions focused on strategies for healthy living.  Among the speakers, Dr. ‘Joey’ Shulman, a highly regarded authority on weight loss, health and nutrition, took the stage to address strategies for healthy eating. Dr. John Kuruvilla, Assistant Professor of Medicine at the University of Toronto, a clinical investigator  and hematologist in the Department of Medical Oncology at Princess Margaret Hospital in Toronto, discussed the latest advances in treating lymphoma patients using pharmaceuticals.

The highlight of the day was practicing 108 minutes of energetic and healing yoga with all of the participants – cancer patients and survivors, families and friends.

One of the guest speakers, Ryan Leal, shared his story as a Hodgkin’s Lymphoma survivor.  At the age of 24, just after graduating university, Ryan was diagnosed with Stage III Hodgkin’s. For Ryan, the illness presented itself with a very uncomfortable and at times debilitating rash. For almost two years doctors unsuccessfully treated the rash with various prescribed medications until two lumps appeared which helped pinpoint the correct diagnosis. Today, 12 years later, Ryan is married and the father of two young boys.

As many of you know, Cameron went back and forth to doctors before anyone could come up with a proper diagnosis.  He also experienced a rash, as well as a persistent dry cough that caused him shortness of breath, both at rest and during exercise. Doctors prescribed cream for the rash and one doctor misdiagnosed his illness as asthma, prescribing an inhaler. When Cameron was finally diagnosed with Hodgkin’s it was Stage IVb, with a tumour pushing on his trachea, nearly closing the airway to his lungs. He responded immediately to treatment and is now thriving at 22.

In addition to our shared philosophy of promoting wellness through TQS Transformation, part of our goal in participating in the take it to the mat event is to create awareness for Lymphoma to assist in earlier detection. Ryan and Cameron’s symptoms were just a few of the symptoms for Hodgkin’s, and there are over 60 types of lymphoma. Hodgkin’s is the third most common cancer diagnosed in adolescents and young adults aged 15–29 in Ontario, with a higher incidence in males. If you, or anyone you love, are not feeling well and have annoying symptoms that don’t respond to any treatments, be persistent with your doctor. As we have learned over the years, wellness is the best defense. So we encourage you to treat your body with kindness – eat healthy foods, restore with sleep, exercise and get outdoors to move your body, and minimize stress by fostering a nurturing and loving environment for your family and yourself.

Our bodies love all kinds of exercise – walking, cycling, running, tennis, swimming – so whatever your pleasure, your body will thank you. But we especially love yoga. Our family and our co-workers through TQS Transformation have experienced yoga’s healing benefits first hand. Various studies have shown that practicing helps the heart rate decrease which benefits people with high blood pressure. When practiced with proper alignment, yoga poses can also bring relief to people with physical ailments, especially back pain sufferers. For people with lymphoma, yoga exercises can improve the circulation of the lymphatic channels through the contraction and massage of skeletal muscles through a variety of poses. In addition, a recent study conducted by Ohio State University found that breast cancer survivors who practiced 90-minute yoga classes twice-weekly for 12 weeks experienced reduced inflammation. Inflammation is associated with chronic diseases including heart disease, diabetes and arthritis and can also cause fatigue in cancer patients for months after treatment.

If you have any questions about Lymphoma Canada, please access their website at www.lymphoma.ca and for more information on the recent yoga study with breast cancer patients, check out the study in the Journal of Clinical Oncology: http://jco.ascopubs.org/content/early/2014/01/21/JCO.2013.51.8860.abstract

Or an overview in the National Geographic:
http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2014/02/140207-yoga-cancer-inflammation-stress/

Once again thank you to all of our supporters for making this day possible for us.  It was a day we’ll always remember!

Namaste,
Cameron and Catherine

take to the mat, the Great Yoga and Wellness event

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TQS Transformation Brings Yoga to High Schools

This past fall Our Lady of Mount Carmel Catholic Secondary School in Mississauga hosted a full day Participaction/Spirit Day for its students. Students were encouraged to participate in some of the many activities held throughout the day - road hockey, a firetruck pull, Zumba, Chess, and Yoga. TQS Transformation was on site to lead over 50 students and teachers in an hour long yoga class.

TQS Transformation Brings Yoga to High Schools


In December, TQS Transformation traveled to the experiential school, Bronte Creek Project in Burlington to bring yoga to approximately 14 students and their teachers. The Bronte Creek Project is a one semester, four-credit, community environmental leadership program for grade 11 and 12 students in the Halton District School Board. The school site is located in North Burlington off Appleby Line. While the classroom is often the surrounding outdoor wildlife, there is a small building where students can do desk work, prepare lunchtime meals and – for an hour in December - practice yoga. For many of the students, this was their introduction to yoga. With the quiet back drop of freshly fallen snow just outside the picture window, the students quickly found their rhythm to the movement and relaxed for a few quiet moments at the end in savasana.

Truly a peaceful place with a group of energetic students who love to be outdoors. We hope to return in the Spring to practice outside beneath the trees.


This saying posted on their Facebook page captures the spirit of the students participating in the Bronte Creek Project!


I felt my lungs inflate with the onrush of scenery – Air, Mountains, Trees, People. I thought: This is what it is to be Happy. 

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A New Year’s Resolution with Purpose

There is a Sanskrit word ‘Sankalpa’ which means will, purpose or resolve. For many, it’s a yogic resolution. Unlike our traditional New Year’s resolutions focusing on things we may be doing wrong or material things we think we need, Sankalpa comes from our hearts rather than our ego. Instead we focus on our intention and a decision to move forward with purpose. For me, Sankalpa is more of spiritual journey rather than a To Do list of resolutions. It is an intention to let go of the past in order to connect with my heartfelt desire or life’s purpose. What a lovely thought to look forward to the New Year with hope for the magical possibilities to come rather than focus on what has gone wrong in the past so we can create rules for the future. Here are few ideas to help you celebrate the New Year as you find your own Sankalpa.

Listen to your Heart

Whether it’s sitting in meditation, taking a quiet walk in nature or simply resting quietly in comfortable place at home, we all need time to step away from the constant busyness of our lives in order to hear our inner voice. So take some time to yourself. Shut off the noise and still your mind. As you’re in this relaxed state, take a moment to celebrate where you are at this very moment in your life. Then let go of anything that no longer serves you. Now think of what you would truly like to do – is there a personal goal or dream that you keep setting time because it isn’t practical or you just don’t have time. Find that dream. Let it settle in your heart. Think about what you would need to do to make it come true. What would be your next step? Now imagine yourself on your path to that dream. Don’t think about how long are difficult the path while be, just take that first step and then maybe the next one. 

Enjoy the Journey

While your Sankalpa may be profound, it doesn’t mean that every moment along the way has to be intense and serious. Remember to take time to look at the scenery. Have fun. Laugh. Connect with people who share your joy. Smile. You’ll find the whole world becomes much brighter when you share your light.

Trust, Trust, Trust

There is no wrong path. So stop looking over your shoulder thinking about what might have happened if you took the other road. You’re not going that way, you’re moving forward. Release the worry when you come to a fork in the road. Trust that you will know which road to take and it will be the best road for you. And if the road becomes treacherous and difficult, trust again. Keep going. You can do it. You won’t know what magic awaits you until you get to the other side.

Be Open to New Possibilities

You are now carrying your dream in your heart. You have started your journey to fulfill it. Life is still busy, but you’re focused and on track. So far so good. But what happens when you discover another dream? You didn’t plan for this. Time is limited. Do you keep walking? Ditch this dream for a new one? There can be more than one dream in your heart. Sometimes the possibility of one dream opens the door to more exciting opportunities. That doesn’t mean you have to entertain every single one of them. But step away and take some time to think about the new possibility. Allow yourself to truly feel it in your heart. You’ll probably find that it will lead you along a similar path to further enrich your journey.  

It will be a Happy New Year. And the world will be a much richer place because of your Sankalpa.



“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. You’re on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the guy who’ll decide where to go.”
Dr. Seuss, Oh the Places You’ll Go

 

 

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Skip the Aerobics, Go for the HIIT


High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) is a quick, fun cardio workout that can replace your current Aerobics workout. In fact, recent studies show that HIIT is a time-efficient but safe alternative to traditional types of moderate long-term exercise with even greater benefits.  Alternating between intense bursts of activity and fixed periods of less-intense activity, HIIT improves both Aerobic and Anaerobic fitness to develop a strong heart and prevent cardiovascular diseases, but it is also more effective in fat loss. For instance, if you were to compare sprinters and marathon runners, you would see higher amount of muscle mass and lower body fat in the sprinter. Both qualities we should all be striving for.
 
The workout should be approximately 30 minutes (including warm up and warm down).

Here's a simple interval workout you can do to start your day, or try next time you're at the gym. It can be done on any cardio machine of your choice or it can be done outdoors. If you enjoy the activity, you'll be more likely to do it again. The choice of whether that be the treadmill, bike, etc., is entirely yours.

 

Warm-up:

3-5 minutes moderate intensity activity (get your heart rate up). Follow this with dynamic stretches, such as leg swings, body weight lunges. If accessible, use a foam roller to work out those aches and pains in your muscles.

Now you should be warm, and muscles are loose. Time for the real workout!

  1. Find a moderate intensity speed, or resistance that will increase your heart rate, but not to the point that will exhaust you. Go at this speed/resistance for about 60 seconds. Then increase the speed/resistance to as hard as you can do for 45 seconds. Repeat this 3 times.
  2.  After the first interval, drop your speed to a low intensity (initial warm up pace) and work at this speed for 3-5 minutes.
  3.  Increase to a moderate intensity for 40 seconds. And finally crank it up to a high intensity for 20 seconds.Repeat this series 6 times.
  4. Remember to take 10 minutes at the end of your workout for a cool down and stretch!

Quick recap of the workout:

3-5 minute warm-up
60 seconds moderate intensity, followed by 45 seconds high intensity. Repeat 3 times.
3-5 minutes low intensity (warm up pace)
40 seconds, moderate intensity, followed by 20 seconds high intensity. Repeat 6 times.
10 minute cool down and stretch!

If you have any medical conditions, be sure to consult your family physician first.


Feel free to comment or ask us any questions.

HAVE FUN!

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The Power of Yoga in My Life


I’ve always loved the power of physical activity to transform my mood. Like most people of my generation, I grew up playing outdoors. Running around with the neighborhood kids playing soccer, softball, hide and seek, hopscotch, skipping or whatever else was going on that day. During my teen years, I dabbled in competitive swimming, running and lived for the thrill of skiing. I never consciously thought about how the activity benefited my health, I just knew that doing it made me feel alive, happy and confident. In university, there were a few years when I just stopped moving. Life got too busy with my school work, social life and part-time job. Looking back, those were my darkest moments. My moods and my weight fluctuated. I lost confidence and the light inside me dimmed. Once I graduated, I tried to bring exercise back into my life but there were times, as I continued with new beginnings – entering the workforce, marriage and becoming a mother – when my fitness activities faltered. But one day I decided that despite my busy life working fulltime and being a wife and a mother of three young children, I could no longer afford not to workout. So I joined a gym.

Within a few weeks of going to the gym, I remembered why I loved moving my body. It made me happy. I felt so much better about me, even days after the workout. While it was tough to get to the gym often, I tried to commit to at least two or three days a week. I threw myself into the high intensity classes – step, circuit and weight training. But when the club introduced its yoga classes, I resisted. I watched people flowing through poses and shifting into savasana from my perch outside the window as I waited for my next high octane class. From my limited vantage point, the unhurried, deliberate poses didn’t seem challenging enough for the kind of workout I craved.

Then priorities in my life shifted. I stepped off the treadmill of commuting downtown everyday for my full-time job, to assist my husband with his growing business and stay at home with our three children. As it often is with change, it becomes a catalyst to open the door to new experiences. So I thought: Yoga? Why not? I tried my first class with trepidation and became hooked from the first downward dog. And after an hour of sun salutations and a variety of challenging twists and turns, the peacefulness of savasana was the deal clincher. All of a sudden my mantra switched from: ‘I’m not so sure about yoga.’ to ‘Where has yoga been all my life?’

Of course, I threw myself into practicing yoga much like I did my other fitness classes. I chose a challenging Power yoga class. I celebrated my strength in poses like chaturanga dandasana (similar to a low push up) and Warrior and inwardly smiled at the thought of how the stretching would transform my body into longer and leaner limbs. Little did I realize at the time, that yoga is less about feeding the ego and more of a personal journey to discover who we can become, both on the mat and in our own lives. 

During the first few years of my yoga practice, I don’t think I fully understood its power to heal. I even stepped away from it for a short time when our son, Cameron, was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. With all the trips back and forth to The Hospital for Sick Children and Princess Margaret for chemotherapy and radiation, I didn’t feel I had the time or emotional energy to spare for a yoga class. I tried to fit in a quiet walk whenever I could. This became my outlet, almost a form of meditation for me. But when Cameron emerged from his intense treatments cancer free, I found my way back to the mat. It was the comfort of coming home again. The experience of watching our son while he bravely conquered the disease had changed me. Suddenly, a profound sense of gratitude warmed my body as I flowed through the poses. My time on the mat healed my heart. Having experienced the powerful healing powers of yoga first hand, I began to research the physical health benefits of practicing.

As you can imagine, there are thousands of articles on the internet about the many benefits of practicing yoga. When practiced with proper alignment, yes yoga is good for you, in so many ways – for your heart, your circulation, your lymphatic system, your muscles and joints – the list goes on. And then there are the intangibles – peace of mind, a sense of community and, for some, a spiritual awakening. But the real story is how the power of yoga affects each journey.

Because of my son’s illness, I was drawn to articles on the benefits of yoga for cancer patients and survivors. According to an article in Yoga Journal, while yoga is not a cure for cancer, it does enhance physical and emotional wellness. So I asked Cameron if he wanted to try a class with me. I’m not sure if it was love at first class for him. But I do know that one class led to another and he soon found it helped with his flexibility in baseball. I’d like to say that yoga became a daily practice for mother and son. But it eased its way into our lives through a class here and a class there. We enjoyed our time together and on the mat whenever we could. While I yearned for more yoga, I found contentment in my practice. Just as I was establishing my balance once again, my father was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.

Within a heartbeat, our lives changed and our schedules were consumed with driving back and forth to hospitals. Once again, yoga took a back seat. Although looking back now, I wish I had set aside time to slow down to ease my own suffering and worry through meditation and the asanas but my mind and body immediately ramped up to panic because this time the cure was less hopeful. We were racing against time. We lost my father within nine months, but as anyone who has lost a loved one will tell you, grief has no timeline. When I returned to my mat once again, a piece of my heart was missing. I moved more gingerly, as though I had aged or become ill. I looked for the meaning in the meditations at the end of the class. It was a gradual healing but the ache in my heart dimmed and the tears became less frequent.

Today, after practicing yoga for more than 10 years, I look back on the changes in my practice as I would reminisce on a longtime friendship. Despite the ups and downs, I think the most dramatic change has been within the last year when I finally left my gym and found a yoga studio. Much like I did before I began yoga, I resisted at first. But as my daughter, Katy, pointed out: “Mom. You love yoga. You want to practice more. You need to go to a yoga studio, not a gym.”  It took time for me to find a studio where I felt comfortable. I tried a few classes here and there. I had my heart set on a studio that was minutes from home, but the teacher and the energy didn’t suit me at all. Accustomed to the soothing flow of movement and gentle administrations, I recoiled at the boisterous guidance and an invasion of my personal space in adjustments. Needless to say, I didn’t return. I almost gave up hope, until I discovered Some Like It Hot in Oakville. The energy was positive and warm from the moment I walked through the doors. Even though it was further from home, I knew immediately that this was where I was meant to practice.
As I settled into a new routine, I tried out different classes. I can honestly say I loved every class.  While each instructor had their own style, each guided me so I began to practice with improved alignment as well as greater awareness that yoga is more than just your work on the mat. Now I find myself rushing less and breathing more mindfully. When I’m upset with a friend or family member, I try to step back and choose my words with care. (Sometimes this is a work progress! It’s so easy to let others actions or words stir our anger.) I also make healthier food choices. But probably the biggest change is that I found the courage to begin the Yoga Alliance Teacher Training Program.

While I am excited about this next step in my yoga journey, I also carry a bit of anxiety. Will I be good enough? Do I have the strength of body and spirit to properly guide students in their practice? I have decided to ignore the worry in the back of my head. I actually don’t have time, I’m too busy learning – about the anatomy and physiology of yoga, the chakras and the many philosophical yogic principles. After all, one of the most important principles in yoga is to “live in the present moment.” So as I take each step toward my inspired goal, I have decided to let go and truly trust the journey.

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My Children's Wish

Since starting to snowboard at age 7, it had always been a dream of mine to one day travel out west and ride the fresh powder on Banff Springs. As my mother had travelled out west to ski the mountains earlier in her life, I heard stories of how beautiful the mountains and wildlife are in this particular part of Alberta. A trip to Banff didn’t seem possible at the time. My parents were paying for me to follow my dream as a baseball player, and it would have been too much to ask for, to travel out west.

I don’t know how to put this lightly, but the truth is, when I began chemotherapy treatment for Stage 4b Hodgkin’s Lymphoma in 2005 I thought I was going to die. Being in a hospital bed for weeks, having an endless amount of tests done on me, and then being hooked up to an IV to inject a foreign chemical into my blood stream to kill cancer cells. I was terrified. My loving aunt, also a nurse, advised me to visualize something positive, and I can vividly remember doing just that. I laid there in the hospital bed with my eyes closed, as the chemotherapy slowly entered my blood stream. In my mind, I saw myself on a snowboard going down a beautiful mountain, full of untouched snow. As I went down the mountain, I would imagine myself doing tricks that I once saw in video games I played all my life. Back flips, 180s, grinding on massive rails, all the tricks that I couldn’t actually do in real life, but no one was telling me what I could imagine. My mind was at ease and I was able to fall asleep. When I woke up, chemo treatment 1 of 6 was done. It became a routine, and each time I was a little less frightened because I started seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.

When a member of the Children’s Wish Foundation approached me, I couldn’t have been more excited about what I could possibly do. There were two main wishes that I had to decide between. Either spending a day with a professional baseball player who I idolized, or travelling out west and hitting the slopes in Banff, Alberta. It really wasn’t a difficult decision for me. I had my heart set on Banff. At the time, I thought my future was in baseball. I told myself that one day, I would be living the life of a Major League Baseball player. One day I would meet my idols. It was time to get away from everything, and experience something that I may never get the chance, or time to do again.

In January 2007, an article called Rowers with a cause had been published in the Toronto Star, about two brave and quite inspiring men named Glenn Edwards and John Williams.  At the time, they had a dream of becoming the first pair to row across the Indian Ocean, a 6,400-kilometre journey. This ocean voyage was named in my honour, as the proceeds would go to the Children’s Wish Foundation. I was interviewed for this article, and when they asked why I love to snowboard I said: “I like the adrenaline – it gets you pumped up and helps clear your head. You get caught up in the moment.” Looking back on this, that’s exactly why I chose the trip to Banff. As I stood on the mountaintops, looking around, I was filled with a feeling of complete bliss. What a beautiful site. Then I’d strap up my bindings, get up, and head for the bottom of the hill listening to some of my favourite tunes. All of my worries left behind. It’s ironic that when I began visualizing this dream of mine, I was filled with complete fear and worry that my life would be short lived. Then, when I was on this mountain, and my dreams became a reality, I knew that it was over. The fight against cancer, the fight for my life was over. Not only was I blessed to have this dream fulfilled, but also blessed to share the experience with my family. They fought the battle with me and I couldn’t have done it without them.

This is why I am so grateful that the Children’s Wish Foundation allowed me to fulfill this dream. In the midst of a nightmare, they provided me with something positive to look forward to. This is only my story of how they have touched my life. There are thousands of stories, sick children with their own dreams whose lives have been touched by this organization.

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Interview with Cameron Mattice - AM530 - Afro Mosaic Health Guide with Brian Nugent

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Congratulations to our TQS Transformation Lifestyle coach- Cameron

Congratulations to our TQS Transformation Lifestyle coach

Congratulations to our TQS Transformation Lifestyle coach- Cameron for placing 1st in Men’s Middle Weight Body Building - Hendersen Thorne Natural Classic provincial qualifying event... Read more

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JUPITER, Fla. - Jim Ecker - There were lots of big smiles and happy faces after the Ontario Blue Jays clipped the Kansas City Royals Scout Club Team, 4-1, in the first round of the WWBA World Championship on Thursday, but two of the happiest Canadians had to be Cam Mattice and Chris Branciere. Read More >>.

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