Posted in exercise, health and wellness, loreeebee.ca, mental health, nutrition

Making Good Choices in the Time of COVID-19

This informative article was originally posted on the Pyure Organic blog Sweet Talk and ties in nicely with a recent post of mine. It has been adapted for a guest post here:

At the peak of the pandemic, there were new guidelines seemingly every day to help us stay safe and lower our risk of catching and transmitting COVID-19. Today, the advice is clear. Wash your hands regularly, wear a mask and keep your distance from others. 

There are other ways you can make healthy choices beyond virus prevention: changes to your diet, exercise and mindset. These lifestyle changes may not completely prevent your risk of catching coronavirus, but they can boost your immune system, help keep your spirits high and make your body stronger for whatever life throws at you. Here are some simple changes you can make to stay fit and healthy in the midst of a pandemic. 

Focus on good nutrition

There are many reputable research studies that have found a link between a well-balanced diet and a strong immune system. As we head into winter, flu season is right around the corner; pandemic aside, it’s useful to start building healthy nutrients into your diet so your body is ready to ward off everything from the common cold to COVID-19. Here are some simple changes you can make to your diet. 

Switch to sugar alternatives

We know sugar can have negative consequences for our long-term health and is a contributing factor for diabetes and obesity. But some studies have shown that sugar can also decrease the effectiveness of white blood cells – a critical part of our immune system that fights infection. Eating lots of sugar can actually decrease your body’s ability to ward off the bad stuff. 

That doesn’t mean you should stop production on all that quarantine comfort baking! There are plenty of better-for-you sugar alternatives that can make your tasty treats even better. Stevia is one sugar alternative that we love – and Pyure Organic Stevia is one of the only organic stevia brands out there. Stevia is a sweetener that rates a zero on the glycemic index (meaning it won’t spike your blood sugar), zero-calorie and free from any of the chemicals used to create artificial sweeteners. Check out some of our favorite recipes that use Pyure Organic Stevia for some healthier at-home baking inspiration.

Add in a few supplements

In addition to cutting out the bad stuff, you can also add in some minerals and probiotics to make your immune system even stronger – and able to fight off threats. We get most of these minerals through eating a balanced diet, but many of us are deficient in the so-called “Big Four” that help our immune system: 

  • Zinc: This mineral is critical for the development and function of immune cells, yet 79% of us are deficient in zinc. Studies have shown that “80–92 mg per day of zinc may reduce the length of the common cold by up to 33%.” 
  • Magnesium: This so-called “master mineral” is involved in processes like producing energy and building important proteins like your DNA. Your body needs magnesium to function properly, and most people should aim to take 200–400 mg per day. 
  • Selenium: This mineral acts as an antioxidant to reduce inflammation in the body and improve immunity. You can get selenium through foods like fish, eggs and mushrooms.
  • Iodine: This mineral boosts your thyroid gland, which produces hormones that directly impact your immune system. Too much iodine can be a bad thing, so be sure to consult with a doctor before adding in an iodine supplement.

The more proactive you can be about building a healthy immune system, the better! Luckily, many of these minerals can be found by adding some new ingredients to your grocery list.

Eat your leafy greens

Feeding your body with the good stuff is an easy way to keep out the bad stuff. We’ve all heard that citrus is full of Vitamin C and can help ward off the common cold – these foods can also make a big difference in your health: 

  • Red bell peppers: These veggies contain almost 3 times as much Vitamin C as a Florida orange. 
  • Broccoli: It’s packed with Vitamins A, C, and E, fiber, and many other antioxidants.
  • Spinach: rich in vitamin C, antioxidants, and beta carotene
  • Plain yogurt: Look for the unsweetened kind, which is packed with Vitamin D to help regulate the immune system (and add a little Pyure on top to make it taste great!). 
  • Kiwi: These little green guys are high in folate, potassium, Vitamin K and Vitamin C.

These are just a few foods that are great additions to your diet – there are many more out there that can give your immune system a little extra power. 

Stay active, even at home

With many gyms closed and workout classes canceled, it can be difficult to find ways to stay active – but every little bit counts. “Inactivity is an important risk factor similar to high blood pressure, smoking or high cholesterol,” reports the American Society for Nutrition

Regular physical activity supports your immune system and your mental health (more on that in a minute). It’s also a big part of protecting your health from long-term, chronic issues like heart disease and high blood pressure. 

If you’re not sure where to start with an at-home workout, think about what it is you would like to improve. Do you want stronger arms? Better flexibility? More aerobic capacity? From there, you can find a workout plan that works for you. Aim for 15 to 30 minutes a day of moderate exercise and build from there. Check out YouTube and Instagram for free at-home yoga classes, circuit workouts and bodyweight strength-training to keep your routine varied and interesting.

Don’t ignore your mental health

Mental stress can put your body in physical distress, as anxiety takes a big toll on the body. Make sure you’re getting enough sleep and taking care of your mental health. “Immune system activation alters sleep, and sleep in turn affects the innate and adaptive arm of our body’s defense system,” says the National Institute of Health. Many of us are juggling working from home, caring for family and many other parts of life, but getting a good night’s sleep – that’s seven to eight hours for adults – should be a priority. 

There’s also evidence to support the idea that meditation can improve your immune system. Meditation can not only improve your sleep, but it can also help you manage stress and anxiety. Take 10 minutes out of your day to do some deep breathing, relax and calm down your nervous system. Your body will thank you!

Posted in exercise, guest blog, health and wellness

5 EASY CARDIO WORKOUTS YOU CAN DO AT HOME

Enjoy this guest post that originally appeared on HigherDose.com As many of us are stuck at home in this pandemic, or at least have our activities restricted, we can all use cardio workouts that don’t require expensive equipment or gym memberships. Check it out!

September 02, 2020 3 min read

Since April this year, Lauren and Katie have been sharing how they are getting high naturally by biohacking at home in our #HackAtHome. HigherDOSE fans have been sharing their #HackAtHome photos on Instagram, and we love seeing what you guys have been up to! 

Recently we shared some easy ways to detox at home to give you a good, deep cleanse to get a fresh start this autumn. Today, we’re back with a list of cardio workouts you can do at home to get your sweat on! Whatever your fitness goals – losing weight, toning, coming back from an injury – these workouts will get your blood flowing and calories burning. Here are just a few of our favorite at-home workouts. 

10-Minute Cardio

Crunched for time? There are tons of 10-minute cardio workouts that can help you get your sweat on in between work calls, family time, happy hour, whatever. Look for something HIIT style: maximum reps, minimum duration. HIIT stands for high intensity interval training. The basic concept is that you burn a ton of calories in very little time. Here are a few 10 minute cardio HIIT workouts you could try: 

You’ll give 100% over those 10 minutes and work up a sweat – but then it will be over! Short and sweet, right?

Banded Workouts

Add in some resistance bands to simple moves like squats and lunges to really feel the burn. The Zoe Report recommends workouts from Tone It Up, a fitness brand that uses resistance bands for sculpting and cardio at home. Banded workouts give you the benefit of boosting your heart rate with the added challenge of upping the intensity of your favorite basic bodyweight moves. For a tough workout, alternate between two different exercises with no rest in between. 

The Lagree Method

Not into heavy breathing? We get that. You can still have a super-intense workout without bands and burpees. Try the Lagree Method, a high-intensity, low-impact workout that emphasizes circuit training. “Unlike traditional Pilates, the Lagree Method places a large emphasis on circuit training, which means you move quickly from one exercise to the next for a prescribed number of sets or time limits. This allows you to achieve both cardiovascular and strength benefits as the heart, lungs, and muscle groups are concurrently working,” writes one reporter. You can try a Lagree workout through a virtual studio at home

An Infrared Session

Infrared is a good go-to no matter what your fitness goals! Use HigherDOSE’s Infrared Sauna Blanket at home to not only burn calories – upwards of 600 calories! – but also prepare your body to burn calories later, absorb nutrients and stay energized. When you use infrared heat to your circulation, it increases your heart rate and metabolic rate, causing the body to burn calories like if you went for a light jog.

Unlike a light jog, infrared gives your skin that healthy, dewy, juice-cleanse-status summer glow. A quick session in our blanket gives you with a relaxing spa experience that burns calories and that post-gym euphoric high. A runner’s high – without the running part. Heck yes. 

If you’re looking for an at home cardio workout to integrate into the rest of your training, infrared is a good option to bring your performance to the next level. Athletes benefit from the heat as it enhances endurance with “hyperthermic conditioning,” infrared exposure that helps you stand real-life heat in future high-intensity situations.

Skipping

Tap into your inner child and get an incredible workout with just one piece of equipment: a jump rope! “It’s a workout that keeps A-listers on their toes too – fans include Gigi Hadid, Kate Hudson, Kim Kardashian and Victoria’s Secret Angel, Adriana Lima (proof that jumping rope does the body good!),” reports one fitness blogger

Jump rope skipping offers a truly full-body workout. Both the body and the brain get a workout as you focus on maintaining a rhythm and controlling your heart rate. Take it to the next level with a weighted rope to work your arms and core. Just 30 minutes a day will have your body looking more toned! What are some ways you’re doing easy cardio at home? Tag us with #HackAtHome on Instagram!

Exercise is known to be beneficial for managing stress; aren’t we all stressed with what’s going on in the world? Hopefully you can find some stress relief in the options provided in this post.

Photo from Pexels.

Posted in exercise, health and wellness, loreeebee.ca

Planks Still the Best Exercise

A few years ago I posted about the benefits of planks. The exercise that is, not the long pieces of wood. The same benefits still apply, and during these days of self-isolation and social distancing, finding the time to do them is easier than ever.

I still swear by planks to keep my lower back from getting sore during gardening season. I also rely on them to keep my abdominal muscles in shape during the long winter months when my gardens are sleeping. We can all agree how much nicer toned abdominal muscles look compared to the lazier, invisible ones.

I do the (easier) forearm version as it is easier on my arthritic wrists.  Start on your hands and knees, then lower your forearms to the floor, lining your elbows up beneath your shoulders.  Moving one foot at a time, step back until your body is straight from your head to your heels.  Like a plank.  Suck your belly button in while tightly squeezing the abdominal muscles.  Hold this position for as long as you can, without compromising the (plank) straight line.  That means no sagging stomach, arched back or raised butt.  Don’t be surprised that you will not be able to hold this plank position for very long the first time.  Each time does get easier. Really.  I promise.

Posted in climate, exercise, freelance writing, gardens4u, lorieb.wordpress.com, Ottawa

Exercise in Winter

What exercise do you get in winter? With my own gardening business, I get plenty of exercise between April and October, sometimes six hours per day! Exercise in winter can be tricky though, I am the first to admit I spend far too much time sitting down writing for whatever projects come my way.

However, when the snow hits, as it has often these past few days here in Ottawa, I love to get my exercise in winter with a shovel in my hand. Especially when the snow is light and fluffy as it was today. These pictures give you an idea of just how much snow we received overnight. Enough to get me out there with my shovel, but not enough to wear me out. The posts on my veranda make great snow gauges…

Who needs a gym membership when you can get an hour (or two or three some days) of cardio exercise shovelling the driveway and sidewalk? Not me!

Posted in exercise, health and wellness, lorieb.com, weight management

Running Motivation: tips for runners at every level

Originally published on HVMN by Nate Martins, adapted for use here on Lorieb

You can’t buy motivation. Most runners probably wish they could.

We hit walls. Life can seem to get in the way of running–so having a playbook of motivational techniques is important for runners at every level who are fighting the same battle to log miles.

Running motivation can come in different forms when the finish line isn’t in sight–new running shoes, a new training plan, or even joining a running club. But at its purest, motivation is the human desire to do something; unlocking that desire may be even more difficult than the task itself.

Joshua Sommers finds it within himself–the hedge fund VP is also a triathlete who has competed in over 100 races. When asked what motivates him, he keeps it simple.

“The pursuit of excellence and self-improvement.”

Joshua Sommers

We aren’t all like Joshua, but we can learn from him. In this piece, we’ll explore what types of motivational tools different runners can use, and how they can impact your training–and your life outside of running.

Motivation for Beginner Runners  


As a new runner, it can be daunting to look at the miles ahead and know the only way to get there is with your own two feet.

Set a Goal

Begin at the end. Setting a goal provides something a runner can work toward. It can be a number of different things: maybe it’s weight loss, or picking a 5k race, or a certain number of miles a week, or even a half marathon. Whatever that goal is, keep it in mind each time you lace up those sneakers for a jog.

This will also help track progress. Write the goal down and place it somewhere you’ll see it every day, keeping markers of the steps taken to achieve it. After a few weeks, look back at the work accomplished and you’ll be able to see it actualized. See yourself achieving those goals and surpassing them.

Get Social While Holding Yourself Accountable

Incorporating a training partner into your new life as a runner has layered benefits. Finding a running partner will provide an immediate desire to run, even if simply knowing that person is counting on you.

Executing on a training program together, with a shared goal, can increase the level of accountability. Joining a running club or finding a running partner removes the element of choice, the ability to reason with yourself and find ways not to run. Excuses are ever-present, and a good running partner won’t take “no” for an answer.

Even though running is an individual pursuit, clubs and teams are everywhere. Besides the motivational aspect, things like networking and safety and developing a sense of community are all extended benefits of making running social.

Make it Routine
A morning run can ripple positively into the rest of your day. Acute aerobic exercise activates the prefrontal and occipital cortices in the brain, increasing “executive control.” This can help improve cognitive ability and can help control emotion.1 Morning runs can have effects that last into the night, like improving sleep quality.2 And it doesn’t stop there; studies suggest running can have overall health and cognitive benefits, especially later in life.3

Besides the mental and physical benefits, there are less social obligations in the morning. You won’t get stuck at work or be tempted by a happy hour at 6am. Even if you’re not a morning person, you can likely train to become one. Pack all your running gear the night before. Set an alarm and place it across the room, forcing you to skip the snooze button.

Developing a morning running routine provides a nice reset of the body’s clock; it can feel like adding hours to the day. Another benefit? A solid training schedule can positively impact your regular schedule.

Ted Bross is a newly-graduated medical student starting his residency. He has participated in almost 30 ultra marathons, and developing a running habit helped him with medical school.  

“Part of what helps me get through several of the mental stressors of medical school is pushing my body physically and relieving that stress. It makes me more of a disciplined athlete and is something that has given me a lot in my life.”

Ted Bross

Develop a Training Plan

Checking boxes on a training plan can feel really good. It also answers some of the mental questions runners ask themselves before setting out: Where should I go? How long should I run? What pace am I aiming for? Just look at the running program, where it’s all outlined. Remember to develop your training plan in alignment with those goals you’ve set. And try to incorporate one long run per week.

A comprehensive training plan should incorporate all aspects of your routine. Account for extra pre-run warm-ups and post-run stretches. Add in weekly or monthly goals. Budget some days off. Your training plan doesn’t have to be a bible, but should be a document frequently returned to, and one around which other aspects of life can be considered.

“I train on average for about ten sessions a week, for a total of ten hours a week,” Sommers said. “I’m spending all this time on it, so I want to get the most out of my workouts.”

Motivation for Experienced Runners

There’s a fine line between getting into a groove and finding yourself in a rut.

Buy Some New Gear

Sometimes you need to pick low-hanging fruit. Purchasing some new running clothes, like a new pair of running shoes or running shorts, can provide motivation to run and test all that new gear. Depending on what you buy, it may also improve your training (like a fitness tracker).

New gear can also serve as a reward; small goals can be treated as important steps to accomplishing larger goals.

There’s also the “gear guilt.” Shiny new toys should be used instead of sitting in the back of a closet. Some may think using money as a type of running motivation is shallow, but there are few drivers in life like cold hard cash.

Introduce Supplements

So much of success when running comes before (and after) feet hit the pavement. Nutrition should be looked at holistically, because supplements can provide a boost during the run and also help with recovery.

“Especially in the longer races, figuring out nutrition is something most people don’t spend enough time on.”

Ted Bross

Pre-run supplements include caffeine for energy, calcium for bone health and even creatine to reduce muscle inflammation. Post-run, focus on protein for muscle recovery and fish oil to reduce muscle soreness.

HVMN Ketone, a ketone ester drink, can be used both as a pre-run supplement and a recovery mechanism. By elevating ketone levels in the blood, HVMN Ketone unlocks a fuel source the body produces naturally, one fundamentally different from carbohydrates or fats. Post-workout, taking HVMN Ketone can expedite the resynthesis of glycogen (by 60%) and protein (by 2x), which enable faster recovery.4,5

Cross Train

Varying training can provide easy motivation to try a new sport–one you know can improve your running–and it’ll also keep you active on days you’re not running. It can also supplement during rehabilitation periods from physical injury, and improve overall physical performance.6

Specifically, cross training can improve VO2 Max capacity (the measurement of the maximum amount of oxygen utilized during intense exercise).6 Swimming and cycling are great choices, but things like yoga can also increase flexibility and balance.7

By introducing strength workouts or cross training into your regimen, motivation can be found in presenting new challenges and accomplishing new goals.

Switch Up Locations

Don’t become a running rodent. Running on a treadmill can feel like a hamster on a wheel, just like running the same path multiple times a week can feel Groundhog Day-esque. The essence of running harkens back to being outside, and in a more spiritual sense, connecting with the space in which you’re traversing.

It’s easy to feel invigorated by discovering a new place or hitting a new distance, so trail running or cross country running are always good motivators for the simple fact that they place you out of your element. The simple feeling of dirt under the feet and soaking up the essence of the trail provides an immediate lift and motivation.

We’ve also heard from runners that there’s something special about running in the rain (even if it’s the last thing you want to do). It presents a new challenge, and almost a primal sense of motivation; you’re miles away from home, and the only way to return is to run back. Your heart is pounding, you smell the rain, each wet step is experienced in a totally new way–it’s an hour that can feel different than all the other hours in the day.

Motivation for Advanced Runners

Advanced runners can have the most difficult time finding motivation because running is such a part of their life that it becomes an unquestioned obligation.

Remember (and Embrace) the Pain and Vulnerability

Stop and ask yourself: Why do I run? If running has become numbly intrinsic, this question can serve as a reinvigorating reminder to look within and remember why you fell in love with running in the first place.

Because running is hard; it hurts; it requires time; it takes mental fortitude. Some might think this is admitting defeat–but reminding yourself that you’re accomplishing something difficult can inspire you to keep going.

In a physical sense, powerful running comes from your core. So, in essence, you’re running from the gut. There’s something vulnerable about exposing yourself in that way, and showcasing the ability to be broken down (and thus built back up).

It can all come to a head at the end of a race. Ted Bross has been there.

“You share some really special moments. You’re pretty raw emotionally, when you get broken down physically there’s less barrier to connect with people.”

Ted Bross

Ditch the Tech (This Includes Music)

Technological tools have forever changed running, giving anyone the opportunity to track pace and miles and calories burned. These also changed training by providing actionable targets to hit and measure performance.

Select one day to run untethered by technology. It can serve as a great way to reconnect with the simple joy of running, ditching the gadgets to escape the metrics. Sometimes you have to operate on feel, and it can be motivating to find that energy within yourself instead of hitting a number on your wrist. Some of your best runs aren’t necessarily your fastest.

Many of us train with music, but that can act as a barrier between you and the world in which you’re running. If you’re participating in a race that doesn’t allow music, it’s especially beneficial to train without tunes and run to the beat of your own pace.

Improve Your Diet

Seeing results provides motivation to continue working. The results garnered from eating healthy show themselves in training. While carb-loading has been a staple of many runners’ race day routines, growing evidence suggests that a periodized approach to nutrition is optimal, especially for long distance races. For example, a marathon runner might undertake periods of training with a low carb, high fat diet to boost fat burning followed by maximizing carb fueling for a race.

Exercise after an overnight fast can also increase fat oxidation, which can help with weight loss and, when the body gets better at burning fat, it can also help increase endurance.

“My diet isn’t as good as I would like it to be,” admitted Sommers. “But that’s more a function of time and other stress factors, like if I’m traveling or if I don’t have time to cook what I want.”

Even the most elite triathletes struggle to incorporate diet into life.

Trying a new diet can have results both in training and recovery, and noticing the difference provides a motivation to continue pushing your personal best with newfound fuel. But that happens on an even smaller level. Incorporate a new fruit or vegetable into your diet.

Haven’t had Brussel sprouts since your grandma served them boiled? Give them another try (and maybe try roasting them) and fold in more vegetables over the course of your training.

Even for those unwilling to make extreme dietary changes, there are incremental benefits to be had by cutting back on refined sugars, avoiding seed oils and getting plenty of omega 3s.

Enjoy the Small Wins

Advanced runners arrive at a point where they can only improve so much. It’s a point of fear for many–that they’ll plateau, and eventually decline.

So the small wins are important to celebrate. Seconds off your mile pace, or increased weight while strength training or even a feeling of energy after a run–individually these are small, but together they can make a big impact. The world’s elite athletes understand the power in recognizing small successes.

Accomplishing small wins while training provides a motivation to keep achieving them, and the confidence they’ll translate to race day.

Motivation is an Endless Cycle

Remember: motivation comes and goes. But recognizing when you’ve lost motivation is almost as important as getting it back.

The struggle challenges all different levels–from beginner to expert runners. On the running journey, goals will be accomplished, routines will become stale, good habits will wane. This is all part of the process.

Finding the ability to motivate yourself won’t just improve your running. It’ll improve your life overall, and some of these strategies should translate to life off the running road.

Go forth. Run. And maybe find a bit of yourself in the process.

Scientific Citations

Posted in exercise, health & wellness, loreeebee.ca

Why Planks are the Best Exercise

Planks are the best form of exercise because they are easy to do, can be done anywhere, and work many muscles at the same time, especially the all important core muscles.  You do not need fancy equipment or clothes or an expensive gym membership to perform planks.  All you need is your body and floor space.

There are a few guidelines to follow to maintain the proper plank position:

  • The elbows are directly under the shoulders
  • The legs are stretched out like when doing pushups.
  • The buttocks (gluteus maximus) are tensed

As a beginner, start with the simplest variation (level 1) where your knees and forearms rest on the floor.  As your core and other muscles get used to the planks, you can progress to the next level.   These variations with the forearms on the floor are great for those who suffer from arthritis whose wrists or hands cannot support their weight.  If your arthritis prevents you from trying the other variations, simply do the level one variation more often and for longer periods of time.

Stay in this position for as long as possible, but do not forget to breathe.   Keep your back straight (like a plank) from your knees to your head in this pose, or from your heels to your head in the more advanced pose shown below.  Do not let your stomach and hips sag as indicated in the bottom picture, and keep your head in line with the rest of your body, like the top picture…

Other, more complicated and strenuous variations of the plank are also available:

Start slow and let your body decide when to move to the next level.  You will be amazed at how great you feel, and look!…