Plantar Fasciitis or Joggers Heel: An Early Sign of Diabetes?

June 30, 2015 12:30 pm
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Lets talk about Jeff, 45. He lives in Kanata with his wife Jill and his two daughters. He does little exercise in the winter, but enjoys jogging from April to September. He has put on a few pounds over the winter, which he blames to his lack of exercise and sweet tooth. After a few weeks into starting up running this spring, he stepped out of bed one morning and experienced a sharp stabbing pain in the bottom of his right foot close to his heel. Over the next few days he also noticed the pain would come on after long periods of sitting and standing. He was still able to run, although the first kilometre was painful. Concerned he might have to stop running, Jeff went to see his physiotherapist, who diagnosed him with Plantar Fasciitis.

Plantar fasciitis, or joggers heel, is one of the most common causes of heel pain. It involves pain and inflammation of a thick band of tissue, called the plantar fascia, that runs across the bottom of your foot and connects your heel bone to your toes.Plantar Fasciitis or joggers heel an early sign of diabetes

The causes of plantar fasciitis are not entirely clear. Risk factors include overuse, such as from long periods of standing, an increase in exercise and obesity.

Many treatments have been proposed for the treatment of plantar fasciitis. The effectiveness of most of these treatments has not been adequately investigated and consequently, there is little evidence to support recommendations for such treatments.

Furthermore, about 90 per cent of plantar fasciitis cases are self-limiting and will improve within six months with conservative treatment, and within a year regardless of treatment.

When considering the potential root cause of musculoskeletal problems that appear to come and go with or with out some sort of physical therapy intervention, it is often useful to consider the general health of the person.

Recent research has shown plantar fasciitis is increased in the early stages of type 2 Diabetes, suggesting the condition might be an indication of an underlying blood sugar problem. Common symptoms of early diabetes, or pre-diabetes, include:

  • Blurry vision
  • Increased Thirst
  • Stubborn wounds or infections
  • Fatigue
  • Sudden, weight gain or loss
  • Darkened areas of skin

If, like Jeff, you suffer from plantar fasciitis and exhibit some of the above symptoms, a good next step is to ask your doctor to check your blood sugar levels. If results show that you are pre-diabetic, then the condition can be easily controlled through diet and lifestyle changes, with the help of a naturopathic doctor or functional medicine practitioner. Ignoring any potential early warning signs, which may include plantar fasciitis could lead to full blown type 2 Diabetes, which is much harder to rebound from.

Finally

I hope you found this information from Ottawa Holistic Wellness Centre useful. More importantly, I hope you do something with it.

Disclaimer: This article is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Canada World Cup a Success? Looks That Way

June 26, 2015 10:03 am
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On June 6, the world’s top rated soccer players arrived in Canada to compete in the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup.  After three weeks of competitive matchups, the stakes are set for the quarter-final round of the tournament, where the last eight will compete to become the top four.

Among the quarter-finalists are the Canadians, who are the hosts of this year’s tournament. Backed by a swelling sense of national pride and sold out venues for each of their games in the competition, the Canadian women are three wins away from winning their first World Cup trophy.unnamed-2

The successful run of the Canadian team has helped deliver on expectations when the Canadian Soccer Association won the right to host the 2015 tournament. Canada invested millions of dollars renovating stadiums and preparing accommodations in the six cities where the World Cup plays—Moncton, Montreal, Ottawa, Winnipeg, Edmonton and Vancouver.

However, the CSA anticipates a significant return on those investments. Over 1.5 million tickets were sold before the first game of the event, and as many as 1,200 jobs were created leading up to the World Cup. Volunteers across the country are logging thousands of hours to help ensure the tournament runs smoothly and financial experts anticipate a healthy economic impact for each of the six host cities when all is said and done.

Team captain Christine Sinclair, midfielder Ashley Lawrence and striker Josée Bélanger helped Canada advance to this stage of the tournament. Their next opponent is the English team, who fell to Canada 1-0 in a friendly game at the end of May when midfielder Sophie Schmidt connected for the game winning goal.

Vancouver will host the World Cup Final on July 5, and organizers anticipate a sold out event for the championship game. If Canada qualifies for the championship round, not only does the team have a realistic chance to win the World Cup trophy; victory can be claimed on home turf.

Go Canada!

Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame Profile: Charmaine Hooper

June 25, 2015 12:18 pm
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2015 marks the Year of Sport and the 60th anniversary of Canadas Sports Hall of Fame. In recognition of these important milestones, OLM will be featuring Honoured Members of Canadas Sports Hall of Fame in a weekly Profile piece.

Canadas Sports Hall of Fame aims to share the stories and achievements of its Honoured Members to inspire Canadians in all aspects of life.

Charmaine Hooper: Athlete, Soccer

Known as one of the most exceptional soccer players to come out of Canada, Charmaine Hooper is an inspiration to a whole new generation of players. Her athletic journey is one of risk, persistence and ceaseless passion.

Hooper was born in Guyana in 1968. She began playing soccer as an 8-year-old when her diplomat father was posted in Zambia. After playing soccer exclusively with boys for years, she was quick to join an all-girl team when her family moved to Ottawa.

Hooper made the earliest women’s national soccer team in Canada in 1986 and was the first player to be capped 100 times. Over the course of her 20-year career, which ended in 2006, Hooper represented Canada 129 times and scored 71 goals. Both of these were national records at the time.

Three of her appearances were at FIFA Women’s World Cups. The most recent was in 2003 when she helped lead Canada to its best finish ever in the international tournament. She scored the only goal in the team’s 1-0 win over China, qualifying them for the semi-finals.

Besides winning Canada’s Female Player of the Year in 1994, 1995 and 2002, Hooper was named honorary ambassador to the first-ever FIFA Under-19 World Cup, held in Canada in 2002.

At club level, Hooper played professionally in the United States, Norway, Italy and Japan.

Hooper now lives in Waco, Texas, where her husband, Chuck Codd, is an assistant coach for the Baylor women’s soccer team. She continues to stay involved with the sport by coaching her 9-year-old daughter Charlie. Hooper also gives her time to the FIFA Task Force.

To learn more about Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame, visit sportshall.ca.

Living With Anxiety

June 23, 2015 1:55 pm
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Anxiety: that feeling of worry, nervousness and apprehension that grabs a hold of you, shakes you up and stops you in your tracks.

Anxiety is overwhelming and pervasive, leaving you frazzled, constantly over-thinking and unfocused. For some, it becomes difficult to have a normal functioning day. Anxiety can also cause sleep problems, digestive issues and much more. If you recognize some of these symptoms, you’re not alone. I see many people suffering from generalized anxiety daily.

living_with_anxiety_image2Your mind is, at times, the biggest culprit for those anxious feelings. The truth is we don’t typically become anxious overnight. Patterns and habits can gradually increase anxiety over time, but simply willing anxiety to go away isn’t always easy. It takes time, treatment strategies and understanding triggers to slowly process and reduce anxiety.

Also, understanding your brain chemistry is very important in treating mood issues. The main chemical messenger that keeps you calm and relaxed is GABA. Naturally, low or deficient levels of GABA are associated with higher incidence of anxiety. It is the primary chemical messenger considered to be “inhibitory,” meaning it reduces and counterbalances feelings of anxiety and excitation.

How can you support your body and brain to curb anxiety?

First of all, there are many ways to help improve the amount of GABA present in your system, including supplementation of herbs like Valerian, Kava and Passionflower. They can be given in the gentle form of tea or possibly in stronger herbal extracts. Guidance from an herbalist or naturopathic doctor can help you choose an effective treatment for you.

In your diet, removal of caffeine can help reduce anxiety and improve sleep. Also, eating regular meals and having a normal blood sugar balance can help stave away the typical “fight or flight” stress response. Having low blood sugar levels can often mimic or trigger anxiety.

Finally, exercise (appropriate for age and general health) can be as effective as cognitive behavioral therapy in the management of generalized anxiety disorder. I hear a lot of people telling me they clear their head and remove “extra energy” from their system with a good run or a workout. These are just a few options that you can start today to help curb anxiety and feel a bit more like yourself!

Disclaimer: This article is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

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Kaleena Jay Photography

Author: Dr. Josée Boyer, ND

Josée is a Naturopathic Doctor at Ottawa Holistic Wellness Centre. Her clinical focus the study of interactions between the psychological processes and the nervous and immune systems of the human body. She focuses on anxiety, stress, insomnia, hormone health and depression which can cause fatigue, digestive complaints, a weak immune system and pain.

Nine Steps to a Healthier You!

June 19, 2015 10:06 am
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Martine, 44, works for Statistics Canada. She is married with two children, Samantha, 13, and Gordon, 11. Both play high-level soccer, which means that both she and her husband Graham are kept extremely busy ferrying them both to practice sessions and games. This combined with a demanding job and shouldering much of the homework, as her husband works late, means Martine has little time for exercise, socializing or pursuing her hobby of painting.

Her full life has also meant that her diet has suffered since she has little time in the mornings except to grab her cup of coffee from Tim Hortons and a bagel. Lunches are often a quick sandwich and while suppers often consist of some form of processed protein and frozen vegetables. By the time supper is finished and cleared away, Martine is usually exhausted and usually collapses in front of the TV with a glass of wine, which can often turn into 2 or 3. She manages to get to bed by about 11:30 most nights but usually takes about an hour before she goes to sleep. She sleeps well but getting up for a workday has become increasingly hard as she does not feel rested.

Her energy picks up after her coffee but after lunch she is usually tired. Over the last year she has put on nearly 20 lbs, has started to suffer from seasonal allergies and has been catching colds on a regular basis.

On a recent visit to her doctor, Martine was horrified to find out that she had high blood pressure and cholesterol; her fasting blood sugar indicated that she was pre diabetic, and she had blood markers for autoimmune hypothyroidism (Hashimoto’s).

Like thousands in Canada today, the demands of career and family life have meant that Martine has taken her good health for granted and she has now become part of the alarmingly growing statistics of sick Canadians:

Until she started having children, Martine had always been extremely fit and full of energy and life. With this disturbing news she looked and felt 54, not 44, and was determined to get back her health but how?

To understand how Martine can take back her health, we need to understand the fundamental reason why her health is failing—mismatch!

Our bodies have not adapted to the diet and lifestyle we have in the modern world today. When animals are taken out of their natural habitat and caged in a zoo, they become less healthy and they have a shorter life span. Zoologists have recognized this for sometime and as such have tried to recreate the animals diet and environment as much as possible. Our bodies are still much adapted to the diet and environment we lived in as hunter-gatherers and like animals that have been caged in a zoo, our bodies are caged by our modern diet and lifestyle.

To help Martine get back her health, like in the zoos, she needs to recreate, as much as possible, that ancient diet and lifestyle.

Here is a brief outline of the 9 steps Martine needs to take in order to get back her healthier self:

  • Just eat real food—if it comes in a packet or a tin, don’t eat it!
  • Avoid toxic foods including flour, industrial seed oils and sugar.
  • Think about the quality of the food and drink you consume.
  • Get better sleep.
  • Manage your stress.
  • Get moving!
  • Start enjoying yourself more!
  • Get back into nature.
  • Spend more time with the people you like and love!

If you can relate to Martine and some or all of her health issues then start to think about the above steps and about how you can begin to integrate them into your life.

Finally, I hope you found this information useful. More importantly, I hope you do something with them.

Disclaimer: This article is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Sleep Apnea? How Controlling Your Blood Sugar Could Help

June 9, 2015 1:26 pm
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Robert, 45, is a business consultant and lives with his wife Susan and two children in Greely, Ottawa. About a year ago, he visited his family physician due to problems with his sleep. He explained to the doctor that for that last three months he had been waking up in the middle of the night with a choking or gasping sensation. In general, his sleep had become much more restless and he developed a loud snore. On waking, Robert would often have a headache and have a very dry, sore throat. He also mentioned he had a lack of energy during the day and had become iSleep Apnea_ How controlling your blood sugar could help image 1ncreasingly forgetful, more irritable and had a low libido. From these symptoms, his family physician suggested he had sleep apnea and referred him for testing at a sleep clinic. The sleep clinic doctor confirmed the diagnosis of Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) and recommended a cpap machine. He started using the machine a month ago, and while his sleep has much improved, Robert is eager to get to the root of the problem rather than just treating the symptoms.

A recent study found OSA is common in people with Type 1 Diabetes, but not associated with people with a high Body Mass Index. Obesity has been a reported as a common risk factor for OSA.

Earlier studies also demonstrate the likelihood of a link between Type 2 Diabetes. Estimates suggest 40 per cent of people with OSA will have Type 2 Diabetes. In people, that already have type 2 diabetes, the prevalence of OSA may be up to 23 per cent and the prevalence of some sort of sleep disorder may be as high as 58 per cent.

Both Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes are the result of poor sugar regulation, the side effects of which can be peripheral neuropathy and muscle weakness. OSA occurs, as defined by the Mayo clinic, “when the muscles in the back of your throat relax.”

If you suffer from OSA, it is important you establish whether you have a sugar regulation problem.

A good starting point is to consider whether you have other symptoms of blood sugar dysregulation. Click here to download a short questionnaire, which will give you a rough idea as to how well you are controlling your blood sugar.

Secondly, if you have any concerns, visit your family physician and ask then to check your blood sugar markers.

Thirdly, if the tests your doctor asked for come back normal but you still suspect from your symptoms you have issues with blood sugar control, schedule a visit with a Functional Medicine Practitioner or Naturopathic Doctor. These practitioners can look at your blood tests from an optimal rather than disease point of view. This means that the reference ranges they use are much more sensitive for picking up potential problems.

Sleep Apnea_ How controlling your blood sugar could help image 3Finally

I hope you found this information useful. More importantly, I hope you do something with it.

Disclaimer: This article is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

 

Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame Profile: John Hiller

June 4, 2015 12:03 pm
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2015 marks the Year of Sport and the 60th anniversary of Canadas Sports Hall of Fame. In recognition of these important milestones, OLM will be featuring Honoured Members of Canadas Sports Hall of Fame in a weekly Profile piece.

Canadas Sports Hall of Fame aims to share the stories and achievements of its Honoured Members to inspire Canadians in all aspects of life.

John Hiller: Athlete, BaseballAttachment-1

After a single strike on his physical health, Hiller was nearly forced out of professional baseball for good. His sense of determination and admirable work ethic makes this athlete’s story of reintroduction one of the greatest sport recovery stories of all time.

Hiller was born on April 8, 1943, in Toronto, Ontario. He grew up in Scarborough playing hockey as a goaltender. Initially, he took up baseball with the Kiwanis Club in the summer to fill time between hockey seasons.

A left-handed pitcher, Hiller graduated from Toronto’s East York Minor Baseball Association in 1962 and was immediately signed with the Detroit Tigers. After a few seasons he had become one of the best relievers in the game. In 1968, he set a modern major-league record by striking out the first six batters in a game against the Cleveland Indians. The same year, he was also part of the Tigers’ World Series-winning team. As a 27-year-old, Hiller’s baseball future looked bright.

On January 11, 1971, Hiller’s career was unexpectedly put on hold when he suffered a serious heart attack. Although forced to sit the season out, it didn’t take long for the idea of returning to creep in. He was determined to play baseball again and didn’t waste any time during his recovery year to begin practicing.

Hiller attended spring training with the Tigers in 1971, as the batting-practice pitcher. It wasn’t until July when he was given the opportunity to resume his professional career.

His remarkable comeback was a success. Hiller’s returning season was the best of his career with a 1.44 ERA and a league-leading 65 appearances. With a lot of hard work and dedication, he was also able to set a major league record for 38 saves—an achievement that stood for a decade.

Hiller retired from professional baseball in 1980. Overall, he had an astounding 2.83 ERA and pitched in 545 games, a record for the Tigers. He also left the game with 125 saves, which, at the time, was the fourth-highest total in American League history. It also stood as a team record until 1993.

At age 72, he continues to be in good health and is committed to supporting various heart related charities.

To learn more about Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame, visit sportshall.ca.

High Heel Hazards

June 2, 2015 2:14 pm
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With wedding and summer party season around the corner, many have the desire to throw on a pair of glamorous high heels. Although fashionable, wearing high-heel shoes can leave you with undesirable short and long-term effects. Stylish stilettos can lead to problems such as foot, knee, hip and back pain.

When your heel is elevated in a shoe, your toes push forward and are squished into a narrow toe box. This can leave you with blisters, ingrown toe nails and can lead to bunions or even nerve damage at the ball of your foot (in an area we call the metetarsals).

ottawalifeheel1 (1)Wearing heels will also put you at an increased risk of spraining your ankle. These shoes will force you to support more of your bodyweight on a narrow heel, which is higher from the ground than other types of shoes, which leaves your ankle stability weakened. So, if you were to ever role an ankle, damage could be more severe since you have farther to fall.

Chronic high heel wear can cause more permanent damage to areas other than the feet. For example, shortening of the tendon on the back of your heel (the Achilles tendon) can occur from chronically contracting the calf muscles. This can also lead to further problems such as plantar fasciitis. Plantar fasciitis can cause intense pain on the bottom of your feet.

If you have low back pain and wear high heels, your shoes may be to blame. When the front of your foot slides forward in a heeled shoe, you are forced to redistribute the rest of your weight by leaning backwards to maintain an upright position. This can cause you to overarch your low back. Overtime, this increased “lumbar lordosis” can put a lot of strain on muscles, joints, ligaments and nerves in the low back and legs.

Is there a solution?

If you insist on wearing heels, here are a few tips to help find the best compromise:

  1. When shopping for heels, you want to find one with the most arch support. Do not choose a heel higher than two inches. The lower you go, the more natural your foot position will be.
  2. Choose a chunky heel over the stiletto type. Although you will still be dumping weight into the ball of your foot, the wider heel will increase your base of support.ottawalifehighheel2
  3. Choose a shoe with few straps. The more straps you have, the higher the chance of getting blister irritation.
  4. Shop in the evening for heels. Over the course of the day, our feet accumulate fluid. Shopping later in the day will allow you to chose heels that accommodate for this.

Try these tips from Ottawa Holistic Wellness. Keep your feet happy and treat them with love and care!

Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame Profile: Bobbie Rosenfeld

May 28, 2015 12:52 pm
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2015 marks the Year of Sport and the 60th anniversary of Canadas Sports Hall of Fame. In recognition of these important milestones, OLM will be featuring Honoured Members of Canadas Sports Hall of Fame in a weekly Profile piece.

Canadas Sports Hall of Fame aims to share the stories and achievements of its Honoured Members to inspire Canadians in all aspects of life.

Bobbie Rosenfeld: Athlete, Track Events

Rosenfeld, Bobbie B 1955 (BW)Recognized as Canada’s Female Athlete of the First Half-Century (1900-1950), there wasn’t any sport Bobbie Rosenfeld couldn’t conquer. She ran fast, jumped high, hit baseballs, shot basketballs, threw javelins and passed pucks, at a time when sports were deemed “unladylike.” Her victories and sportsmanship helped prove the abilities of girl competitors and paved the way for future female athletes.

Fanny Rosenfeld, or better known by her nickname “Bobbie” for her “bobbed” haircut, was born in Russia in 1903. She immigrated to Canada as an infant and was raised in Barrie, Ontario. Her family moved to Toronto in 1923 where Rosenfeld worked at a chocolate factory and excelled in local sporting teams during her spare time.

She entered international athletics in 1928 at the Amsterdam Olympics, when women were first allowed to compete in the games. Rosenfeld was part of the small Canadian women’s track team which won a Gold medal for the 400-metre relay, Silver for the 100-metre and came in fifth place in the 800-metre. She scored more points for her country than any other male or female athlete at the games.

Rosenfeld’s flourishing career came to a sudden halt in 1933. Struck with severe arthritis, she was bedridden for months and afterwards had to rely on crutches. Although physically she was unable to participate in athletics, her strong spirit could not keep her out of the game entirely. She coached the Canadian women’s track and field team at the British Commonwealth Games in London, England in 1934 and became a sports writer for Toronto’s Globe and Mail in 1937. Her column was called Feminine Sports Reel which covered women’s sports for 18 years.

Canada lost one of its most celebrated female athletes on November 13, 1969 when Rosenfeld died in Toronto at age 64.

To learn more about Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame, visit sportshall.ca.

The Gluten Free Diet: Why it Might Not be Helping You

May 26, 2015 2:34 pm
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I have lost count of the number of clients at Ottawa Holistic Wellness that I have advised to go on a gluten free diet because I determined it would help their symptoms.

For the vast majority, it was a positive experience. Their long-term chronic symptoms disappeared. For the minority, the effort was not rewarded even though they had been 100 per cent gluten free.

Gluten free diet Why it might not be working Image 3For a number of years this had been a puzzle to me, until I was listening to a podcast in my car on the way to work. The podcast was an interview with Dr. Tom O’Bryan, an internationally renowned expert on coeliac disease and gluten sensitivity. He talked about a brand new set of blood tests now available which look at gluten sensitivity. The test that interested me the most was for Gluten Cross Reactivity (GCR).

To understand what GCR is, you have to understand how the body normally reacts to gluten

When your body gets sensitive to gluten, it produces antibodies, which are like little Arnold Terminators zapping invading gluten proteins in your blood. Unfortunately sometimes Arnold gets confused between the gluten proteins and similar proteins in your body and starts zapping all of them.

GCR occurs when Arnold starts thinking the proteins from other foods are gluten proteins. The body produces more gluten antibodies to zap those other proteins, but which will also continue to attack your body. So you may as well be eating gluten and it is no wonder your symptoms don’t change.

Gluten free diet Why it might not be working Image 2The GCR test, available through Cyrex Labs in the U.S., tests the most common foods that cross-react to wheat gluten.

This include: cows milk, casein, whey protein, soya, milk chocolate, instant coffee, yeast, oats, sesame, buckwheat, hemp seed, millet, sorghum, amaranth, quinoa, tapioca, teff, corn and rice.

As I mentioned, these are only the most common and many foods have not been researched as yet. However, if you have had no change in your symptoms on a traditional gluten free diet and you eat some of the above, it would be worth getting tested or to try avoiding them all and seeing if there is any benefit.

Finally

I hope you found this information useful. More importantly, I hope you do something with it.

Disclaimer: This article is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame Profile: Mark Tewksbury

May 21, 2015 12:01 pm
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2015 marks the Year of Sport and the 60th anniversary of Canadas Sports Hall of Fame. In recognition of these important milestones, OLM will be featuring Honoured Members of Canadas Sports Hall of Fame in a weekly Profile piece.

Canadas Sports Hall of Fame aims to share the stories and achievements of its Honoured Members to inspire Canadians in all aspects of life.

 Mark Tewksbury: Athlete, Swimming

A true Canadian icon, Mark Tewksbury is recognized not only for his unnamed-5astounding international swimming achievements but also for his valuable work as a humanitarian.

Although Tewksbury was born in Calgary, he spent his earliest years in Dallas, Texas. Taking a dip in the pool was his favourite way of escaping the southern heat as a five-year-old. Upon moving back to Alberta with his family, Tewksbury began to swim regularly at the Cascade Swimming Club and later with the University of Calgary Swim Club, where he developed world-class techniques.

Years of training paid off when Tewksbury competed with Canada’s relay team in the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul and won a Silver medal. Four years later in Barcelona, Tewksbury won another medal in the relay event—this time Bronze, along with Gold in the 100-metre backstroke. The 1992 Olympics were his last before retiring from professional swimming. In total he won 21 national championships (11 individual and 10 relay) and was named Canada’s Male Swimmer of the Year four times.

unnamed-4While sporting victories contributed to his early success, Tewksbury has been truly defined by his life after competing. He officially came out as gay in 1998 and has since become a prominent advocate for gay rights nationally and internationally. Among many of his efforts, Tewksbury stood up for human rights at the 1st World Outgames in Montreal in 2006, he has addressed the United Nations on the decriminalization of homosexuality and has mentored other young gay athletes.

The charismatic Olympian has devoted decades of his life to motivational speaking in schools, companies and organizations around the world. His contributions to public education on issues concerning sexual identification were honoured earlier this year by the University of Toronto when he was presented with the Bonham Centre Award.

To learn more about Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame, visit sportshall.ca.

Respecting Hormonal Balance

May 20, 2015 10:05 am
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Hormone balance. It seems like a simple concept, but we need to respect that these tiny chemical messengers are anything but simple. Our body has dozens of hormones, all of which play a very important part of our normal daily functioning. They engage in complex interactions with each other to moderate a response within the body. If one hormone isn’t up to the task, the downstream effect can alter your health is many different ways—too many to count.

Female hormones include the class of steroid hormones which are made by the body from cholesterol. This includes estrogens, androgens, progesterone and cortisol. These hormones have far reaching effects in women: they influence thoughts, moods, reproductive health, fertility, skin health, transition times such as puberty, PMS, menopause and regulate the stress response.

How can we attempt to know how or what to balance?

Proper testing and assessment takes the guess work out of hormone balance. Following our symptoms is the first step, but knowing and checking your levels is the second step in addressing the often confusing symptoms.

What can I do at home to get started?

Here are a few things you can start today. Your body needs appropriate fats to create and respecting_hormonal_balance_image2maintain healthy hormone production. Eating plenty of olive oil (un-heated!), coconut oil, avocado, flax seeds, fish and fish oils does just that. Adequate sleep is a key player as well. Respect those hormones and get eight hours of restful sleep—your body will thank you for it. Limit your caffeine intake, it’s almost as bad as not getting enough sleep! Keep your hormones in check by switching some cups of java to the more balancing green tea. You can get extra antioxidants and a mild caffeine boost as well. And lastly, while attempting to balance hormones, participate in light to moderate exercise like yoga, walking or swimming—if you exercise too intensely your hormones risk going into over-drive.

These are daily tips to respect your hormones and get them working for you, not against you. Even if they may seem simple, these nutritional and lifestyle changes allow you to find hormonal balance to make sure you are thriving everyday!

Disclaimer: This article is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

respecting_hormonal_balance_image3Dr. Josée Boyer, ND is a Naturopathic Doctor at Ottawa Holistic Wellness Centre. Her clinical focus the study of interactions between the psychological processes and the nervous and immune systems of the human body. She focuses on anxiety, stress, insomnia, hormone health and depression which can cause fatigue, digestive complaints, a weak immune system and pain.

 

The Competitive Mind: Your Brain On Poker

May 15, 2015 3:56 pm
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Ever wonder how your brain works when you’re playing a competitive game? In 2014, Bwin asked that question and began researching your brain on poker, analyzing the different levels of brain activity between a beginner and an expert poker player.

How did it work?

Researchers observed 6 players (2 beginners, 2 amateurs and 2 experts) playing a 40-minute game of Texas Hold’em. Half the players (one from each level of experience) played for money and the other half played for free, with the exception of the expert who played for small stakes.

A brain map was then created for ‘beginner’, ‘amateur’ and ‘expert’ to show how brain activity changed under certain circumstances.

What did they find?

The results, interpreted by sports psychologist James Hazlett, varied depending on the stage of the game.

your brain on poker

After evaluating the brain activity of the beginner, amateur and expert players during various stages of the game, the research showed that expert players had more consistent engagement and excitement. Experts also used less mental effort and were quicker to make decisions.

On the other hand, less experienced players moved much slower and were more likely to get frustrated during the game. The experts would play multiple tables – making them more engaged and less frustrated over time.

3 Important Takeaways

1. Emotion is key.Beautiful young girl meditating in autumn park

The research revealed that there is a significant relationship between our emotional responses and our participation in competitive sports. Other research on this topic supports the idea that our emotions affect the quality of performance.

By studying poker players, the study observed that an expert is much less emotionally involved than a beginner or amateur. Even when the expert playing for money became frustrated, he continued to play well. This was not the case for the emotional beginner who was playing for cash.

2. Experts are more engaged.

The more experienced players in the study demonstrated more consistent levels of engagement overall.

In a competitive environment like a poker game, the increase of adrenaline can compromise your level of engagement. This kind of stress can make it harder to stay calm and think logically during a game. Dr. Kristin Race explains that when our mind wanders away from the present, it can develop a stress response, making it harder to focus on the here and now.

While the expert in the study demonstrated consistent focus, the less experienced player was driven by emotion.

3. Be patient.

Player Gary Pro Golfer

Professional golfer Gary Player

Professional golfer Gary Player once said, “Patience, practiced correctly, is a powerful mental tool that unlocks so many other positives and that will also give you the kind of perspective others may lack under pressure.”

This applies to poker as well. Patience and self-control are necessary traits in competitive play.

During the study, both the beginner and amateur felt frustrated when waiting for other players to take their turn. Expert players did not demonstrate the same reaction. They were calm and focused on planning their next move.

 

The three conclusions drawn from this study extend far beyond poker. Keep these observations in mind for any competitive game.

View the data here.

Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame Profile: Peter Reid

May 14, 2015 1:34 pm
CSHoF Hall Photo (1)

2015 marks the Year of Sport and the 60th anniversary of Canadas Sports Hall of Fame. In recognition of these important milestones, OLM will be featuring Honoured Members of Canadas Sports Hall of Fame in a weekly Profile piece.

Canadas Sports Hall of Fame aims to share the stories and achievements of its Honoured Members to inspire Canadians in all aspects of life.

Peter Reid: Athlete, Triathlon

Canadian Ironman Peter Reid is a triathlete without weakness. He is PReid510px (1)-2recognized in the sporting world for not only his time spent on the podium, but also his tireless work ethic and exceptional toughness.

Reid was born in Montreal in 1969. As an amateur to triathlons, he could barely swim the length of a 25-metre pool. After intense training, Reid was prepared for his first competition in 1989.

Only five years into his career Reid participated in the Ironman World Championships—a challenge requiring 3.9 kilometres of swimming, 180 kilometres of cycling and 42.2 kilometres of running. Although Reid did not finish his first two attempts, he came back stronger than ever in 1998, capturing the gold medal in Kona, Hawaii. He renewed the World Championship title again in 2000 and 2003.

On top of these victories, the elite triathlete placed Silver and Bronze in seven other Ironman competitions between 1999-2000. Very few triathletes measure up to these astounding achievements.

Simon Whitfield, Olympic triathlon Gold medalist, said of Reid, “His was the epitome of work ethic for our sport. He simply got the work done … in rain, shine, hail and snow. He was early mornings and early to bed. I saw his attention to detail, making sure everything he did was done with a sense of precision. He was leading edge when it came to his bike, his nutrition and his strength program.”

Reid retired from triathlon in 2006 to pursue his dream of becoming a commercial pilot. He now lives in Vancouver with his partner Malaika Ulmi and their son, flying small seaplanes for a living. Reid continues to enjoy mountain biking and trail running as a hobby.

To learn more about Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame, visit sportshall.ca.

Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame Profile: Ted Lindsay

May 7, 2015 2:53 pm
Lindsay, Ted 2002 (C)

2015 marks the Year of Sport and the 60th anniversary of Canadas Sports Hall of Fame. In recognition of these important milestones, OLM will be featuring Honoured Members of Canadas Sports Hall of Fame in a weekly Profile piece.

Canadas Sports Hall of Fame aims to share the stories and achievements of its Honoured Members to inspire Canadians in all aspects of life.

Ted Lindsay: Athlete, Ice Hockey

The nickname “Terrible Ted” doesn’t do Ted Lindsay justice. Although he was a rough and often mean sportsman, spending more time than anybody else in the penalty box, Lindsay is one of Canada’s finest hockey stars. On the ice, he was a skilled left winger and goal scorer. Outside of the arena, he worked to protect NHL athletes’ rights and make the lives of others better.

Lindsay was born in 1925 in Renfrew, Ontario. He became a professional hockey player in 1944 when drafted by the Detroit Red Wings. Before long, Lindsay was playing alongside Gordie Howe and Sid Abel. Together, the trio formed the Production Line—the highest scoring, most exciting line of the post-war NHL and reason why the Red Wings won four Stanley Cups in six years.

In total, Lindsay played 1,068 NHL games, had 851 points and a staggering 1,808 penalty minutes. On top of that, he also competed in 11 consecutive All-Star Games between 1947-57 and was the first player during an All-Star Game to score a hat trick.

Lindsay’s toughest competitors were not in skates—they were the men who controlled the NHL. During the mid-1950s, he secretly met with Toronto defenceman Jim Thomson and tried to organize players into a union. Once his authorities found out, Lindsay was traded to Chicago as a sort of punishment, where he played for three years before retiring. He was called back for a final season with Detroit, but left for good in 1965.

Not long after, NHL players hired a lawyer and formed the union Lindsay had envisioned, changing the league forever. This victory wouldn’t have happened without Lindsay’s initial efforts.

Among his considerable amount of charitable work, this year marks the 15th anniversary of his personal organization. The Ted Lindsay Foundation works to fund autism research and spread awareness.

To learn more about Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame, visit sportshall.ca.

Using Mental Rehearsal to Bring Your Sports Game to the Next Level

May 5, 2015 12:08 pm
Using mental rehearsal Image 2

Every athlete, from the beginner to the professional, can benefit from using mental rehearsal to improve their game. This holds true for athletes and competitors in every sport arena including the weekend warriors or duffers, to the skilled martial artist, dancer, bowler, dart player, hockey and / or soccer player. Although, this article deals with sports, these core skills are generalizable to other areas of life (studies, difficult conversations, work or hobbies).

Using mental rehearsal Image 1The benefits of mental rehearsal include: enhancing learning and skills improvement, improving practice and game time performance, strengthening the mind-body connection, boosting confidence and controlling emotional responses. Research has shown that mental rehearsal can actually increase muscle growth required for a sport. Given the list of benefits, it is obvious that mental rehearsal can give an athlete a competitive edge. While there are several theories on why this works, one general idea is that as we rehearse the activity, we create the neural pathways and networks in the same way as if we had actually practiced physically. Unfortunately, many people do not know how to do practice this technique to maximize their performance results.

You can rehearse simple or complex skills, scenarios you are familiar with, new scenarios, as well as the emotional state you wish to achieve. Here are the keys for how to practice mental rehearsal effectively.

The first key is to make the image as real and precise as possible. Imagine exactly how you would stand, where would your opponent be, the time of day, and so on. The more details you add, the more real you can make the image.

In a similar vein, the second key is to use all of your senses in your mental imagery. Imagine the smells, sounds, sights, feelings, taste, if applicable, and proprioception (the sense of how your limbs are oriented in space).

While the third key is interrelated to the first two keys, it is so essential that it needs to be listed separately. It is to practice how you want to feel. During the rehearsal, you should imagine being completely focused on the task, filtering out all distractions and “being in the zone”. You want to engrain sensations of confidence, self-control and composure under pressure. Practicing these feelings will allow you to get into this mind space more easily during the sporting event.

The next key is to imagine things happening in real time. If you are learning a new skill you can slow it down to look at the details and then speed up the image to real-time. You need to incorporate into your practice rehearsal of the skills at the speed you will perform them on the field or in the ring.

The penultimate key is to imagine doing the activity from a variety of perspectives. To do this you should feel the activity as if you were living it from the first-person perspective and then imagine watching a video of you doing it from a third-person perspective. Some people also report success when they imagine the experience from their teammates or opponents perspective.

The final key is to plan time to mentally rehearse these keys at a time and in a place where you will not be disturbed. Just as you devote time to the physical aspects of the game, take time for the mental aspects of the game. Recommendations vary about the amount of time that you should practice these exercises and the circumstances vary for each person. My recommendation is to mentally rehearse 4-10 minutes every day supported by longer sessions 2-3 times a week.

If you have problems seeing images (visualizing), do not worry; just “imagining” the sport and the skill sets that you want to practice works as well. If you find it difficult to do mental rehearsal on your own, you can seek out MP3s or watch videos of professionals performing your sport, then close your eyes and imagine doing it yourself exactly the same way. You may choose to see a performance coach, hypnotist or other trained professional as they can offer a different point of view, specific feedback and skills to work on and guide you further through these exercises.

So go ahead, take time to practice mental rehearsal and give yourself the competitive edge.

By Derrick Barnes

Using mental rehearsal Image 3Derrick Barnes, RSW Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist, uses the latest techniques and evidence-based research to help you focus on reaching your goals. His approach combines coaching techniques, solution-focused brief hypnotherapy and mindfulness. Even though Derrick focuses on future successes and not past challenges, he will, upon request, offer various other services such as past life regression or energy work. You can find Derrick at Ottawa Holistic Wellness.

Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame Profile: Ian Millar

April 30, 2015 3:00 pm
CSHoF Hall Photo (1)

2015 marks the Year of Sport and the 60th anniversary of Canadas Sports Hall of Fame. In recognition of these important milestones, OLM will be featuring Honoured Members of Canadas Sports Hall of Fame in a weekly Profile piece.

Canadas Sports Hall of Fame aims to share the stories and achievements of its Honoured Members to inspire Canadians in all aspects of life.

Ian Millar: Athlete, Equestrian

Ian Millar set the bar for Canadian equestrians—and then jumped over it.

Ian Millar

Photo courtesy of Gordon Milne

Millar is popularly known for his exceptional Olympic record. Competing in more Olympic Games than any Canadian in any sport, he set a World Record at the London 2012 Olympic Games when making his 10th Olympic appearance.

The dedicated athlete has also earned nine medals, including two Gold medals, between nine Pan American Games—more than any other show jumper! Millar is an accomplished 10-time Canadian Champion. In 1989, he became the first rider to win back-to-back World Cup Finals.

Millar has not let anything interfere with his professional career or love for the equestrian sport. He set a record for the oldest show jumper to stand on an Olympic podium at the 2012 Beijing Olympic Games when he won a Silver medal for Canada. Millar was 61 years old.

“I know what the median age is here, and I’m certain I’m on the other side of that, but I’m still very comfortable riding at the top level,” Millar says on his website. “I just love to do it. I cannot imagine a life without horses.”

This famous victory, marking the nation’s first win for team show jumping in 40 years, came at a time of great hardship for Millar. He had lost his wife and business partner of 39 years to cancer only months before. Persevering through his sorrow, Millar was able to dedicate the medal to her memory.

Today, Millar makes his home just outside of Ottawa at Millar Brooke Farm, a state-of-the-art training facility in Perth, Ontario. There he lives alongside his children Jonathon and Amy, who have both been Canadian Show Jumping Team members. Together, the Millar’s share their riding expertise with learning equestrians.

To learn more about Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame, visit sportshall.ca.

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