The way you manage day-to-day stress impacts your recovery…
July 10, 2017 | By Sinead Mulhern
When the weather is nice, many runners are motivated to kick it into high gear. There’s no shortage of physical activities to enjoy in the summer sunshine (think trail running, hiking, kayaking, swimming…). Beautiful days beg for runners to lace up and run their city or town’s best routes. But keeping a schedule full of vigorous activity only works if runners give equal thought to active recovery. If you’re somewhere in the 40-plus age group, recovery is even more important. If those aches and pains– or perhaps even an injury– have been getting you down, we have a wise guide that’ll have you bouncing back in no time. Take this advice from our experts and age will no longer be a limiting factor.
This summer, follow these four key concepts from experts to increase your chances at reaching your goals
June 13, 2017 | By Tim Huebsch
If you listen to your body and take the right approach, you can certainly run fast over 40. Whether that means hitting new paces in your next race or just getting to the next fitness point, that’s up to your own discretion.
We spoke with Megan Kuikman, a registered dietitian, sports nutritionist and a 2:47 marathon runner to get some ideas for over-40 athletes on how to enhance the benefits of your next training block. We paired her advice with that of Dr. Greg Wells–scientist, broadcaster, author, coach and athlete. Kevin O’Connor, one of Canada’s top masters runners, also chats about how he resets after a big race in the story’s featured video below. Need some advice? We walk you through it.
We’re going back into the sports world this week with Olympian Martha McCabe!
Martha grew up in an athletic family who paved the way to competitive sport for her. After high school, she moved to Vancouver to study kinesiology at UBC, and train with Hungarian breaststroke coach Jozsef Nagy. Martha claimed her first international medal at the 2011 World Championships in Shanghai, and in 2012, she placed fifth in the Olympic final. In 2015, she won silver in her home city at the Pan Am Games in Toronto and went on to captain the 2016 Rio Canadian Olympic swim team. After hanging up her goggles for the final time, Martha drove across Canada in “Martha’s Canadian Drive” conducting 45 speaking and coaching sessions to over 3000 participants in 59 days to share her Olympic experiences, and inspire the next generation. Martha sits on the Canadian Olympic Committee Athletes’ Commission where she is passionately trying to improve the landscape for Olympians and youth in Canada.
Her new project is Head to Head . With Martha’s deep rooted passion for healthy living from the inside out she created Head to Head. She believes that by connecting youth with Olympians and National Team Athletes, we can save lives by increasing confidence and improving mindset – all the while, powering athletes.
Given the HUGE interest in mindfulness that I’ve been noticing lately I thought we should do a deep dive into that topic. So this week we chat to the brilliant researcher Dr. Ellen Choi. Here’s a bit more info about Ellen!
Ellen is an expert in the effects of mindfulness in the workplace. She is delighted to be in her final year of her doctorate at the Ivey School of Business after completing a masters degree in social psychology at the London School of Economics. Presently she is studying how mindfulness training impacts such outcomes as performance, creativity, will power, and envy. Overall, Ellen is fascinated by the ability of mindfulness training to help individuals fulfil their potential in a more efficient and more self-compassionate manner. She has designed and taught mindfulness programs within corporations, with police recruits, and in health care settings intended to increase focus, resilience, leadership, and performance under pressure. She is an instructor at The University of Toronto’s Continuing Education program where she teaches a course on Mindfulness and Team Effectiveness. Ellen is a certified yoga teacher, reiki practitioner, and has practiced Transcendental Meditation, Vipassana Meditation, and techniques from both Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy and Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction. Having recently had a baby, she has never been more grateful for her mindfulness practice.
It’s really hard to live a high-performance life when high stress is a daily reality. Chronic stress damages your body, threatens your mental health, puts strain on relationships, and takes the joy out of life.
Your thoughts have strong influence over stress levels. What you choose to think about, or not think about, dictates how your body and mind react to everyday life.
So how can we reduce the ongoing flow of damaging stress—and even find peace in our thought life? The key is to break up stressful times with periods of rest, recovery, and regeneration. The good news is that anyone can learn techniques that can counter the damage of the stress response.
Make sure that each day you take some time to break the stress cycle and rest, recover, and regenerate. Doing this not only helps you find peace in the moment but also recharges your body and brain to stay healthy over the long term.
Here are 7 proven techniques that can help you have a healthy thought life and recover from chronic stress:
1. Move your body
Rhythmic, repeated motion is particularly soothing to the mind and body. A long walk, cycling, swimming, or running will all work, but any kind of movement will relieve tension, improve circulation, and clear your mind.
2. Get into nature
Go outside! Head to the garden, the park, or the woods to lower your blood pressure, strengthen your immune system, reduce tension and depression, and boost your mood. It’s stunning how good it is for your health to be in nature. Leave the cell phone and earbuds at home.
3. Practice yoga or Tai Chi
Like nature therapy, yoga and Tai Chi decrease stress and anxiety, increase energy, and boost the immune system. They also give you more stamina—needed in stressful times—and improve the quality of your sleep.
4. Have perspective
Don’t be so quick to conclude that you “can’t handle” a stressful situation. This is truly a mind-over-matter opportunity. Believing that you are strong and resourceful actually makes you stronger and more resourceful. Don’t give in to negative self-talk about not having what it takes to manage life.
5. Change the nature of your response
Research indicates that taking an active, problem-solving approach to life’s challenges relieves stress and can transform it into something positive. If you withdraw, deny the problem, or spend all your time venting, you’ll feel helpless. Instead, be determined to make a change, put effort into it, and plan for better results.
6. Practice slow, deep breathing
Start applying the power of deep breathing each day. It will make a huge difference. Start small by taking three deep breaths each time you sit down at your desk—in the morning, after breaks, after lunch, and so on. It will help you become more patient, calm, and relaxed.
7. Block time for single-tasking.
Each day this week, schedule time in your calendar for focusing exclusively on one task. This task should be something that is very important to you. Doing several things at once might make it seem as if you are working hard, but it’s an illusion. Your body and mind are not designed to work that way and it causes extra stress.
Hi everyone, welcome back! This week I talked to my friend and colleague Bart Egnal. Bart is an expert on leadership communication and recently published his new book Leading Through Language. Bart and I chat all about how to communicate better and to lead with your words. If you are into public speaking or simply want to get your point across better anytime, anywhere this episode is for you. Here’s a little more about Bart.
Bart is the president and Chief Executive Officer at The Humphrey Group, which teaches leadership communication skills through executive coaching, group training and consulting. As an executive coach and communications instructor, Bart specializes in teaching clients how to inspire action every time they speak. By helping clients communicate as inspiring leaders, Bart has developed strong partnerships with companies such as RBC, Bell, Goldcorp, Enbridge, TAQA, and Cenovus.
Welcome back podcast universe! This week I had the chance to chat with one of my greatest influences Paul Chek. Paul is a legend in the health and fitness space and we went really deep in this conversation. We talked about healthy nutrition, fitness and the pillars of living a great life. Here’s a little more about Paul.
Paul is a holistic health practitioner who has transformed the lives of countless individuals by developing practical and effective methods for addressing all aspects of well-being. His approach to treatment and education is driven by his “system of systems” philosophy: that the body is a fully integrated unit of physical, hormonal, emotional and spiritual components.
He is the founder of Corrective Holistic Exercise Kinesiology (C.H.E.K) Institute, which helps healthcare professionals advance their careers through a holistic approach to health, fitness and well-being. He is also the creator of the PPS Success Mastery Program. This self-mastery program teaches individuals to reach their true potential by transforming their destructive habits and learning to take control of their personal, professional and spiritual life.
Decreased alertness is a huge hindrance to thinking and, ultimately, performing at a high level. There are many factors that can help you feel more (or less) alert. These six ways to feel more alert are changes you can easily make to your life, starting today!
Hi podcast universe! This week I am diving back into my passion for travel in hopes of inspiring you to get out there and explore the world! To that end I had a chat with Scott Wilson – Co-Creator/Co-Host of Departures and Descending travel TV programs.
Scott’s passion for travel started very early in life. As a child he covered his bedroom walls in maps from National Geographic and would daydream what those places looked like. Now, together with co-creator Andre Dupuis, Scott is seeing a vision for a new type of travel show come to life. Nominated for a Gemini Award for his work on Departures, Scott continues to share his travel experiences with enthusiastic audiences at speaking engagements and through hosting and producing new and upcoming programs.
Scott and Andre have paired their mutual love of scuba diving with their passion for travel in the acclaimed adventure series “DESCENDING” which airs on OLN in Canada and Travel Channel internationally.
Scott continues to challenge himself personally as a producer, diver, motorcycle enthusiast and pilot.
This week we dive into the topic of Superlearning. As a professor this is a topic that is hugely important, especially in this golden age of entrepreneurship and artificial intelligence where your ability to learn quickly is becoming more and more important.
Jonathan Levi is an experienced entrepreneur, angel investor, and lifehacker from Silicon Valley. Since 2014, Jonathan has been one of the top-performing instructors on Udemy, with his course Become a SuperLearner (now retired) earning him over 60,000 students. He has since snowballed this success into the launch of his rapidly growing information products company, SuperHuman Enterprises, which produces such products as the top-rated Becoming SuperHuman Podcast; the bestselling “Become a SuperLearner” print, digital, and audiobooks; and numerous online courses. Most recently, he launched The SuperLearner Academy, a private, online academy where he teaches premium-level masterclasses in accelerated learning and productivity. He is based in Tel Aviv, Israel.
After successfully selling his Inc 5,000 rated startup in April of 2011, Levi packed up for Israel to gain experience in the Venture Capital industry. While in Israel, Levi enlisted the help of speed-reading expert and university professor Anna Goldentouch and Machine Learning expert Dr. Lev Gold, who tutored him in speed-reading, advanced memorization, and more. Levi saw incredible results while earning his MBA from INSEAD, and was overwhelmed with the amount of interest his classmates expressed in acquiring the same skill set. Since acquiring this superlearning skill, he has become a proficient lifehacker, optimizing and “hacking” such processes as travel, sleep, language learning, and fitness.
In addition to publishing his own bestselling book, Levi has been featured in such publications and programs as the Wall Street Journal, Inc. Magazine, TEDx, Entrepreneur On Fire, Mixergy, Dream. Think. Do, Nana10 Television, The Silicon Valley Business Journal, The SoloPreneur Hour, The Smart People Podcast, and Upstarts! How GenY Entrepreneurs are Rocking the World of Business and 8 Ways You Can Profit from Their Success, among other blogs, podcasts, and publications.
Don’t let your age work against you. Here are some tips for the over-40 runner.
May 26, 2017 | By Sinead Mulhern
Kevin Smith remembers the moment when he realized that his training needed to change. His story is similar to many. He’s a lifelong runner, but right around his fortieth birthday, he realized that the nagging injuries he had been experiencing more and more into his late thirties weren’t going to go away if he didn’t adjust his training. “I used to be a high level runner in my twenties,” Smith explains. “Once in my thirties and through my thirties, the injuries came more often and they were more severe.” He had an epiphany. Smith realized he needed to be strategic not just about the window spent training, but also during the hours away from workouts.
Currently, Smith is the head coach of Marathon Dynamics running club in Toronto. As such, he regularly works with masters athletes. We consulted with him and well-respected physiologist Dr. Greg Wells to find out how runners over 40 can make real improvements during their sweat sessions. If you’re in this age category, take any of these tips to make a real break-through in your training.
Welcome back! About 1 in 5 people will face a mental health crisis at some point in their lives. Having seen the impact of mental illnesses in families, schools and businesses, mental health is now one of my top priorities. To help shed some light on this topic this week I talk with Dr. Kelly Brogan.
Kelly Brogan, M.D. is a Manhattan-based holistic women’s health psychiatrist, author of the NY Times Bestselling book, A Mind of Your Own, and co-editor of the landmark textbook, Integrative Therapies for Depression. She completed her psychiatric training and fellowship at NYU Medical Center after graduating from Cornell University Medical College, and has a B.S. from MIT in Systems Neuroscience. She is board certified in psychiatry, psychosomatic medicine, and integrative holistic medicine, and is specialized in a root-cause resolution approach to psychiatric syndromes and symptoms. She is on the board of GreenMedInfo, Price-Pottenger Nutrition Foundation, Functional Medicine University, Pathways to Family Wellness, NYS Perinatal Association, Mindd Foundation, the peer-reviewed, indexed journal Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine, and the Nicholas Gonzalez Foundation. She is Medical Director for Fearless Parent and a founding member of Health Freedom Action. She is a certified KRI Kundalini Yoga teacher and a mother of two.
According to the National Cancer Institute, approximately 39.6% of men and women will be diagnosed with cancer at some point during their lifetimes. The reality of cancer is upsetting, but there is hope. You can cut your cancer risk in half by committing to four important areas. No magic pills, insane amount of money, or all-consuming regimen. And, the best news is, you will not only lower your risk of cancer, but also improve your overall health and change your life for the positive.
Toronto physiologist Greg Wells’s new book, The Ripple Effect, makes lofty promises, pledging that we can Sleep Better, Eat Better, Move Better, Think Better. A superachiever himself (Ironman, PhD, researcher at Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Kids and professor at the University of Toronto), Wells nevertheless tempers those assertions by sticking to a simple message in the book, in stores April 4. It’s okay to dream big, but start small. Peppered with “1 per cent tips,” Wells advocates staying focused on micro-improvements (using spices, not sauces, to cut calories; walking 15 minutes a day to potentially lower risk of breast and colon cancer 24 to 40 per cent). “Microchanges are sustainable forever,” he says. “When they add up over time, it’s like compound interest for your body and mind.”
You know those days when you don’t get enough sleep, so you decide to skip the gym and then you end up eating nothing but garbage for the rest of the day? We’ve all been there. Greg Wells, author of The Ripple Effect, says there are ways we can make small changes to our sleeping, eating, exercising and thinking habits that can transform our health for life.
In this episode I talk to the wonderful team at What She Said radio about my new book The Ripple Effect! We chat about how to Sleep Better, Eat Better, Move Better, and Think Better!
Here’s a bit more about the show: Christine Bentley and Kate Wheeler have been trusted news sources for Canadians for decades. They interview people for information not sensation and they let you know why you should care about the topics of the day. Whether it’s finance, family, health, estate planning, tech or sex, drugs and rock n’ roll there’s no topic that’s off limits for What She Said!
Hello everyone and welcome back! This week I had the chance to talk to Philip McKernan. Philip McKernan is an international speaker, author, filmmaker, and it’s been said, “enlightened hooligan” who coaches entrepreneurs and business leaders all over the world. He’s worked with the Canadian Olympic Team, The Pentagon and has shared the stage with other speakers like the Dalai Lama and Richard Branson. Philip helps those seeking clarity about their future and to move through roadblocks, seen and unseen. His most recent film entitled ‘Give & Grow’ helps people to Uncover, Understand, and Unleash their Gift on the World. This is a wide ranging conversation and we dive deep into motivation, drive, living a great life and taking advantage of the power of dreams!
I am honoured to be partnering again with the Fighting Eagle Memorial Tournament to support our Exercise Medicine Research Program at the Hospital for Sick Children. Here’s a little bit about the research program:
Scientific evidence has linked physical activity and nutrition to a wide array of physical and mental health benefits. Unfortunately, despite this evidence, millions of people in Canada and the World remain essentially sedentary. The problem of sedentary behaviour and its negative impact on health is also a challenge for children with chronic diseases that cause exercise intolerance. The inability to exercise then compounds the impact of the disease itself and can worsen outcomes before during and after the disease runs its course.
The benefit of our research is that new interventions are being created that focus on using physical activity and exercise to improve health in children with chronic diseases. We aim to develop the concept of exercise as medicine and implement this throughout the health care system and the world to first save then improve lives.
The donations and support help us to
– Hire and train researchers and other professionals
– Cover research operating costs (i.e. MRI time, exercise testing)
– Purchase new research equipment
The Fighting Eagle Memorial Tournament is held annually to honour the memory of Alex Shapiro. Check out his story on TSN:
Registration for the 2017 tournament is now open! The 4th annual Alex Shapiro Fighting Eagle Memorial Tournament will be on the last weekend in June 23-25.
Come be a part of an unbelievable weekend of hockey, community spirit, fundraising and most of all, in memory of Alex. This is open to 2001/2002 GTHL/NYHL players.
This year our goal is $30,000 but we hope to raise even more and you can help us reach our goal. Your generosity and contributions will make a difference to SickKids and their patients. The funds raised will go to Dr. Greg Wells’ research into the benefits of physical activity for cancer patients while undergoing treatment.
The other day, a friend of mine who used to work crazy hours told me about his desire to become a true Sleep Master. He had at long last accepted the science of sleep, which I talked about a few months ago in this blog. Exhausted all the time, his health and relationships were suffering and he was making a change.
He now knows that sleep reduces the risk factors associated with heart attacks, strokes and cancer, strengthens the immune system, boosts problem-solving and creativity, reduces stress, builds muscle, regulates appetite, and helps us to manage mental and emotional health challenges.
My friend’s understanding of the facts is awesome. And his sleep-wake balance is a lot better. But we then talked about another challenge he faces every night: not getting into bed at the right time to clock 7 to 8 hours of sleep, but falling asleep and staying asleep throughout the night.
Sleeping soundly gets harder as we age. You may have noticed that you take longer to drift off or wake up more frequently than when you were younger. With age comes wisdom: we have learned from our mistakes. But with age also comes disrupted sleep, which is the last thing we need to stay healthy, succeed at work and be the best for our families.
So what can you do? Below are three science-based methods to become a true Sleep Master and improve your performance at work, at home and with your loved ones.
Sleep Master Method 1: Defend Your Last Hour
Set up a routine that starts an hour before bed that allows you to decompress and relax. Many of my clients who have trouble staying asleep are the ones who work or manage the household right up until they collapse into bed. You can avoid this by finding a calming activity you love and doing it before bed.
Ideally, stay away from screens like your TV, computer or smart phone. Melatonin (a hormone that helps regulate sleep) is produced by your pineal gland, which is located deep inside your brain and is very sensitive to light. The brightness of screens stimulates your brain and prevents the pineal gland from releasing the melatonin you need to be drowsy. Read a novel, take a bath, listen to relaxing music. Choose low-stress, non-pulsing light activities. You will enjoy that hour immensely and benefit from a regular daily rhythm.
Sleep Master Method 2: Keep Your Sleep Cave Dark
Staying asleep requires a dark room. Really dark. As in, no hall light outside your door, no light in the ensuite bathroom, and no alarm clock beaming from the table beside you. As indicated above, light in our environment signals the brain to wake up. As the sun rises, our melatonin levels drop and we pop out of sleep.
If your sleep cave is not dark enough, your brain is signalled to wake up. If you get up to use the bathroom in the night, turning on any lights will disrupt your rest. Other small changes in your bedroom can make a big difference: get blackout blinds, switch off lights around you, and cover your alarm clock. If you would like to use a nightlight, find one that emits red light in the night and blue light in the morning. Red light stimulates melatonin production (think sunset) and blue light turns it off and wakes you up (natural daylight contains blue light).
Sleep Master Method 3: Be Cool
In the evening, increased melatonin levels in the body cause the blood vessels in the skin to dilate, releasing body heat into the environment. This cooling promotes drowsiness and helps us fall asleep. Basically, a cool environment tells your brain and body it’s time to knock off. So keep your bedroom cool — at about 19 degrees Celsius or 66 degrees Fahrenheit. Being cool should help you stay asleep during the night.
Embracing the science of sleep is one thing. That’s when you accept that sleep is needed to maintain mental, emotional and physical health. Embracing the science of the sleep environment is another. But with the knowledge of both, you’re well on your way to becoming a Sleep Master and living a high-performance life.
Jamaican teammate Nesta Carter tested positive for methylhexaneamine
By Wendy-Ann Clarke, CBC Sports Posted: Jan 26, 2017 1:19 PM ET
Jamaican sprinter Nesta Carter tested positive for a banned substance, but Usain Bolt is taking the biggest hit.
News broke Wednesday that the Jamaican 4×100-metre relay team that won gold at the 2008 Beijing Olympics is being stripped of its medal after a re-analysis of Carter’s sample turned up the banned stimulant methylhexaneamine.
The failed test by Carter, who ran the opening leg of the relay, spoiled Bolt’s perfect “triple-triple” record — he won gold in each of his three events at three consecutive Olympic Games.
Meanwhile, the ruling by the International Olympic Committee has raised several questions, including: What is methylhexaneamine? How much might Carter’s use of the drug have affected the results of the race? And is there a chance for a successful appeal?
We went to the experts for some answers.
How does methylhexaneamine work?
Blue Jays star Marcus Stroman, former Jay Chris Colabello, boxer Brandon Rios and South African discus thrower Victor Hogan are among the athletes who have been disciplined for methylhexaneamine use in recent years.
According to Dr. Greg Wells, a kinesiology professor at the University of Toronto, the stimulant is similar in composition to drugs like ephedrine which can be found in a number of over-the-counter medications, as well as in athletic supplements that don’t always list every ingredient on their packaging.
The physiological effects of the drug can be compared to those of a non-drowsy cold formula.
“It feels like you have a bit of adrenaline surging through your body,” says Wells. “The effects of that type of stimulant become especially significant in a sport like track and field where hundredths of a second can make a difference.”
While not to be confused with an anabolic steroid, which causes significant structural changes inside the body, Wells says the stimulant can be dangerous, and can put athletes at an advantage because of its ability to:
open airways in the lungs, making it easier to take in oxygen
narrow blood vessels, which increases blood pressure, helping push oxygen to body tissue cause water to be expelled from the body, which can lead to weight loss
Although stimulants like methylhexaneamine can cause an instantaneous boost, Wells says if the drug was in a supplement Carter was using on a regular basis, “he would incur a consistent advantage in training, meaning he could work harder, more often, more easily, which may be a significant benefit.”
Why did it take so long to catch Carter?
Methylhexaneamine was not specifically named on the banned substance list back in 2008, but being caught using it is still considered a doping infraction because the properties are associated with other substances in the stimulant class.
Paul Melia, president and CEO of the Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sport, says the creators of designer drugs are always one step ahead of drug detection labs, making the ability to test athletes retroactively very important.
“Designer drugs are created in clandestine labs that have the ability to make changes to the molecular makeup of a drug,” Melia says. “The drug-test laboratories need to know the molecular structure of a banned substance in order to detect it.
“Fortunately, now the IOC is storing samples for up to 10 years, giving we in the lab time to identify these new substances that are coming onto the market. Since 2008, the lab has identified this stimulant, giving us the analytical techniques to detect it.”
Can Carter appeal?
Carter could face a ban of at least two years, which may be a crushing blow to the career of the 31-year-old sprinter.
Melia says that if it can be proven that a drug was deliberately and intentionally used to enhance performance, the sanction can increase to as much as four years. But if Carter can demonstrate that he took the drug unknowingly, his punishment can be argued down to as little as a warning.
As far as Carter’s (and Bolt’s) relay medal goes, Melia says that although Carter will have the opportunity for a hearing to presumably try to reduce his sentencing, it won’t have any impact on the decision to strip the gold from his relay team.
“I think it’s a really powerful deterrent for athletes who might be thinking about using designer drugs that can’t be detected today,” Melia says. “It’s not going to give them much comfort when they hear a story like this that goes right back to 2008.”