Health and Wellness

4 Tips for a Healthy Picnic

Summer is the season for fun in the sun and outdoor picnics are a popular summertime activity in Niagara. This is not surprising if we take into consideration the region’s unparalleled natural beauty, but when heading out for a picnic with family, friends, or a significant other this summer, remember to stay healthy while enjoying the great outdoors.

1.      Bring plenty of hand sanitizer!

While some picnic facilities have public restrooms, good soap and warm water are usually hard to find when you’re on a picnic. Hand sanitizers are a great way to kill the germs on your hands before eating or coming into contact with others, especially small children.

2.      Bring simple foods

When heading out for an all-day picnic, it can be tempting to bring lots and food and other knickknacks as you worry that you might need them all at some point during the day. Remember that the simplest options are both the easiest to carry and usually the healthiest ones. Instead of greasy foods and five-course meals, bring healthy alternatives like cherry tomatoes, grapes, berries, carrot sticks, celery, olives, cheese cubes, crackers, and sandwiches.

3.      Stay hydrated!

When spending time outdoors on hot summer days perhaps the most important thing to remember is to stay hydrated. Drinking alcoholic beverages like beer may be tempting, but the most effective way to hydrate your body is with cool fresh water. Bring plenty of water in a cooler or frozen and leave it out to unfreeze before enjoying it.

4.      Enjoy a healthy and refreshing desert

While cake, chocolate, and other calorie-rich foods sure taste great, when you are out for a long time on a hot summer day the healthiest and most refreshing option is fruit! Enjoy a slice of watermelon, some grapes, an apple, or a peach and you will feel refreshed without feeling guilty about consuming all those delicious calories.

For more tips about planning a health picnic, or for ideas about great picnic spots in Niagara, feel free to contact me at Barbara.Grumme@century21.ca.

Summer Solstice

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Unlike many of the special days we celebrate each year, the summer solstice is literally thousands of years old. In the Northern Hemisphere, the longest day of the year is on June 21 or 22 and  it has been given great meaning by a range of civilizations.

This year, take a suggestion from these many different historical groups—from the ancient Greeks to the Romans and Chinese—and start afresh. By looking to the past we can understand how our predecessors have sought to improve themselves and the world around them…

1. Run Like the Greeks

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The ancient Greeks held great influence over the Mediterranean several thousand years ago. Like many of the groups that would come after them, they saw great meaning in the summer solstice. Many festivals were held at this time, the most important being the run-up to the Olympic games.

In fact, the summer solstice marked the one-month count down to the beginning of the athletic games, which included activities like running and wrestling. Take a hint from the Greeks: use the summer solstice as a new beginning for your exercise regime, and make your routine more intense and try new activities that will allow you to build your strength and endurance.

2. Spring Clean

For the Romans, who once ruled a massive expanse of land stretching across several continents, the summer solstice was a time to celebrate Hestia, the goddess of domestic life and the hearth. In other words, it was a celebration of the home and family.

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Take a hint from the Romans: use the summer solstice as time to get serious about taking care of important home chores, like cutting the grass or cleaning out the attic. It might also be a good time to start a new renovation project, which could significantly boost the value of your home.

3. Plant a Tree

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Few Westerners are aware of the great empires that existed in China several thousand years ago. But there, as now, a unique and rich culture flourished. For the ancient Chinese, the summer solstice was a time to celebrate the earth, as opposed to the winter solstice, which marked a celebration of the heavens.

This summer solstice, celebrate the earth by giving back to it. Plant a tree in your backyard or a local park. Help clean up a public place or work with your neighbors to sweep trash off the streets.

4. Have a Bonfire

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Sitting around the bonfire and talking with friends and family—it may just be the quintessential summer activity. And guess what? It’s also what the ancient Vikings of Scandinavia used to do to celebrate the summer solstice.

The key, of course, is to be safe when building your bonfire. Don’t build one if you have overhanging trees or you’re too close to a building. Make sure you’ve got lots of space and keep all children well away from the flames!

5. Go Dancing

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With the temperature rising, summer marks a great time to hit the clubs and patios. As the weather warms up, so too do the dance floors.

Historically, the summer solstice has been celebrated with a variety of special dances. The Sioux, a Native American group, celebrated the event with a colourful ceremonial sun dance around a tree. For many groups like the Sioux, the summer solstice meant celebrating new beginnings through song and dance.

6. Plan a Trip

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There’s no better time to travel than summer, which gets started with the summer solstice. The longer and warmer days of the summer months allow travellers more time to see the sights and explore historical destinations.

Take, for example, Stonehenge in England. Built by the Druids thousands of years ago, many modern Druids continue to gather at the remarkable landmark to mark the summer solstice (as well as the winter solstice, spring equinox, and autumn equinox).

More Than Pretty Colours: The Health Benefits of Daffodils

With springtime upon is it is important to remember that relatively common plants such as the daffodil hold natural healing properties that are beneficial for our health. The daffodil is native to Europe and the British Isles, and it can be found growing throughout Europe and North America. Historically daffodils were appreciated for their beauty, but they were also widely used for the flower’s medicinal properties.

Daffodils are an effective remedy for the cough and cold, and they are believed to have a positive effect on the liver and gallbladder. The plant is said to act as a natural antidepressant, antispasmodic, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant, and it is also used in cosmetic products because of its positive effects on the skin and its pleasant smell.

In addition, daffodils are said to be good for helping to speed up the healing of wounds. It is common practice in some parts of the world to apply crushed daffodils onto wounds and cuts for faster healing and drying. Applying daffodils may also have a soothing effect for people who have suffered burns to their skin.

This spring when you see beautiful daffodils in bloom, remember that their benefits extend far beyond their pleasant appearance. Mother Nature is full of natural health benefits and remedies just waiting to be rediscovered, and if you would like to learn more please don’t hesitate to contact me at Barbara.Grumme@century21.ca.

 

7 Keys To A Happy Relationship

What you need to know for joyful, lasting love and companionship.

Happiness within a relationship is hard to define. Not only is each relationship different, but within each relationship, each person defines happiness in an individual way. Some people view happiness as a peaceful conflict-free life. For some, happiness involves a tremendous amount of fun, great intimacy or lots of laughter. Whatever your definition, it directly correlates to your expectations, desires, wants and needs—and those things can change over time.

What holds constant are 7 specific behaviors and attributes laid out below that, in my experience, can almost guarantee the likelihood of long-term success and happiness in a relationship.

If you work toward integrating these keys into your daily life, you will most certainly experience greater joy and less conflict in your primary relationships.

1. Respect

Every successful relationship is built on a foundation of respect. Respect means caring about your partner’s wants and needs and always taking them into account before speaking or acting. The expectation is that your partner will follow the same guidelines. My official definition is as follows: Respect means putting the comfort, well-being and happiness of the person you’re with at an equal level to your own.

2. Loyalty

We feel happy when we know that someone has our backs. Relationships have the greatest success when each partner focuses on supporting one another at all times. This means that if someone is antagonizing your partner, you will either back your partner up directly or support him or her from behind the scenes. This also means that if your partner has done something you believe is wrong or that you don't approve of, that you speak to him or her privately about the issue, never in front of others.

3. Priority

If you want to build a stronger positive relationship, let your partner know that he or she is a priority. Commit time and energy to talking and addressing each other’s wants and needs. Be sure that the two of you have “quality time” alone to connect and enjoy each other’s company. Even though work, children and other obligations are also priorities, find the balance so that your partnership is not neglected.

 

4. Pick Your Battles

Strong and happy couples know when to bring up issues and when to put them aside. My rule of thumb: If you can let something go, move on and still enjoy your partner … let it go! If you cannot move on and are ruminating or worrying about something, then bring it up. When you do bring it up, make sure it is in a calm manner, in private and at a good time for you two to discuss it. Never bring something upsetting up in bed, and never in earshot of children or other family or friends.

 

5. Loving Gestures

The concept “Actions speak louder than words” is an important one when it comes to relationships. It is not enough to simply feel that you love someone, you must also show that you love that person. Use kind words, be physically affectionate, leave little love notes around the house … whether it’s a verbal gesture or a material one, make sure that you are letting your partner know in no uncertain terms that you love him or her.

6. Put in the Work

Partners in a successful relationship understand that you need to put in the work to keep things running smoothly. That means sometimes you need to do things that you do not want to do because it matters to your partner. Other times it means you have to put in that extra effort to calm down or hear out your partner’s concerns, even if that isn’t the easiest or most convenient thing to do in the moment. Relationships take a lot of work if they are going to be happy, successful and long-lasting.

7. Focus on the Positives

Even the best of relationships have challenges, and even the most wonderful of partners can have less-than-stellar moments. When times are tough, those who are seeking a happy relationship will combat the negative with a positive. If your mate is irritable after a long day, remind yourself about that great time you had last weekend or how funny he or she can be. If you have found that your partner is a bit messy, for example, and it doesn’t seem to change, focus on the fact that he or she is a great cook or a terrific parent. Reverse your thinking to remind yourself that your mate has great qualities and that you are happy to be together.

Article by Stacy Kaiser

 

Boost Your Immune System for Winter!

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Boosting our immune system is the most effective way to fight off harmful bacteria and viruses, and to stay healthy even as one season gives way to another. It is important to remember that the single biggest contributor to a weakened immune system is STRESS. This certainly applies to emotional stress, but it also applies to other aspects of our lives that serve as “stressors” on our body, including:

1. Diet

Nutritional deficiencies are among the most common contributors to a weakened immune system, particularly vitamin and mineral deficiencies, as well as the deficiencies of good gut flora and reduced levels of stomach acid (which are necessary for absorbing nutrients from our food). Consuming too much processed food, alcohol, wheat, dairy, and sugar also contribute to a deficient diet.

2. Lack of sleep

Sleep is essential for balancing our bodies and maintaining a strong immune system. Sleep deprivation leads to a reduction of natural killer (NK) cells that ward off bacteria and other pathogens, making us more vulnerable to illness.

3. Sugar

Consuming too much sugar has a negative impact on the effectiveness of our white blood cells, which keep us safe from viruses and other foreign invaders. Vitamin C is necessary for white blood cell protection, but because Vitamin C and sugar (glucose) have a similar chemical structure, too much sugar in the bloodstream leads the body to start absorbing sugar instead of Vitamin C and this deprives us of the benefits of Vitamin C as a powerful antioxidant.

4. Toxins

The natural role of our immune system is to fight off foreign invaders such as chemicals, pollutants, pesticides, herbicides, and so on. Too much exposure to these harmful elements will cause our system to go into overdrive, which will have a negative impact on its natural ability to defend itself.

5. Negative Emotions

Finally, emotional stress has a very real impact on our physical state. Emotions such as fear, anger, and guilt affect not only our mental state but also our physical ability to fight off viruses and bacteria by causing a spike in cortisol, which suppresses the immune system. Although they still cannot fully explain why, studies show that a positive attitude actually boosts our immune system.

Keeping these factors in mind, effective strategies for boosting our immune system include:

  • Regular exercise
  • Getting enough rest and sleep
  • Eliminating sugar from our diet
  • Consuming alcohol only in moderation
  • Finding ways to reduce stress
  • Washing hands frequently and thoroughly, and practicing good hygiene in general[1]
  • Consuming plenty of fermented foods and/or probiotics in order to nurture good gut flora
  • Eating a colourful variety of whole foods, including fruits, vegetables, and lean protein

For more information I recommend checking out nutritionist and health wellness consultant Sharlene Styles at www.purenaturalhealth.ca. If you need some extra help, she’s also available for appointments.

[1] Maintaining a clean environment is not only good for your health, but also for the value of your home! In a recent survey by OREA, 7 out of 10 home sellers in Ontario said that ‘cleanliness’ is very important to retaining a home’s future resale value. In comparison, half said that a new/renovated kitchen is very important, while 46% said the same for a renovated bathroom.

 

Budgeting for a Stress-free Christmas

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One of the best ways to make sure that your Christmas holidays will be merry and stress-free is to plan out your Christmas budget well ahead of time. It’s easy to stay focused on our day-to-day obligations and put holiday season budgeting on the backburner, but the sooner we get a grip on the Christmas budget, the better it will be for our wallet and for our general sense of well-being in the long run. With that in mind, here are 6 easy tips to help you budget for Christmas in a timely and efficient way.

1. Write it down!

The most simple things are often overlooked, but actually writing out your Christmas budget is very important. Throughout the Christmas season advertisers will spend MILLIONS on targeting your impulse to spend without thinking, so if you want to stay on budget you need to have a concrete battle plan. Write down what you plan to buy and how much you can afford to spend, and review the list on a regular basis to remind yourself.

2. Stick to it!

Now that you have your list, treat it with respect. Look it over often – daily if possible – and make sure that you are not going over budget. Spending more on our loved ones can be tempting, especially during the holiday season, but if you stick to your carefully planned out budget you will be thankful that you did come January.

3. The Price isn’t Everything

In the majority of cases, our loved ones will appreciate the thought and care that goes into a gift far more than its retail price. Children especially don’t value gifts based on price but on the enjoyment that they get out of them. With that in mind, look for presents that are thoughtful and affordable, and forget about expensive jewellery and other overpriced trinkets.

4. Secret Santa is a Money Saver

The tradition of a group of friends or colleagues drawing names and then buying a gift for only one other person in the group can be a huge money saver. This way everyone gets a gift, and everyone saves a lot of money. Consider employing this strategy whenever possible.

5. Do NOT Borrow Money for Christmas!

This seems obvious, but many people will still do it. The whole point of budgeting for your holiday spending is so that you don’t end up in debt come January, which can put a dark cloud over what is supposed to be the most wonderful time of the year. If you catch yourself thinking about borrowing money for your Christmas shopping, THINK AGAIN! 

6. If You REALLY Need Cash, Sell Old Gold and Valuables You No Longer Need

Many of us have old gold and jewellery locked away somewhere inside our homes. If you haven’t worn it in a long time and you don’t plan to wear it in the future (and if there is no significant sentimental value attached), sell your old gold and jewellery and use the money to complete your Christmas shopping without accruing debt. Just be sure to research the current market value of gold and other valuables so that you don’t get ripped off by unscrupulous gold buyers. 

I hope that these 6 quick tips will help you have a healthy, merry, and stress-free Christmas! For more information about Christmas budgeting and other financial and real estate tips, feel free to contact me at Barbara.Grumme@Century21.ca.

The Importance of Giving Thanks

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The Thanksgiving Day holiday in Canada dates all the way back to the 1600s when French settlers first arrived in New France. Thanksgiving began as an annual feast celebrating the end of the harvest season, and according to many historical records these celebrations included the mutual sharing of food between European settlers and the indigenous peoples of the area.  

For most of us in the modern world it is difficult to imagine how important the success of the harvest season was for early settlers, and how crucial their mutually beneficial relationship with the indigenous peoples of Canada was for their very survival. Without modern technology, transportation, and storage facilities one bad harvest could lead to famine and spell disaster for an entire settlement, so the early settlers quickly learned the importance of being thankful for every morsel of food and for every bit of help that they received from their neighbours. Today, with a fully stocked supermarket right around the corner even in the dead of winter, it is easy to forget the importance of being thankful. Nevertheless, even in the modern world giving thanks is still important in our daily lives. Here’s why:

1.      Being grateful and appreciating what we have is good for our health! When we are feeling down we are often reminded by our loved ones to think about everything we should be grateful for, and even some scientific studies have shown that individuals who think about what they can be thankful for on a regular basis are happier and more well-adjusted than those who only think about the things they lack in life.

2.      Being grateful and appreciating the ones we love is good for their health! Expressing our thanks and appreciation for others makes those individuals feel confident and good about themselves, and studies show that people who feel appreciated lead healthier and happier lives. So if you want to do something for your loved ones, remind them how much you cherish and value them and everything they do. We often tend to overlook the little things that important people in our lives do for us, but if we put in more effort into showing our appreciation, this will have a positive impact on our relationships with the ones we care about the most.

Thanksgiving Day is just one day of the year and a wonderful Canadian tradition, but giving thanks and showing appreciation should be a daily activity all year round. Being grateful is good for our health, and for the health of everyone around us, so the best time to start being thankful is right now

For more information about healthy living every day of the year, feel free to e-mail me at Barbara.Grumme@Century21.ca.

How To BBQ The HEALTHY Way!

 

Oh summer harvest, how I love you so.

This time of year in Niagara is abound with so much bounty, beauty and sunshine (well, there's rain too). I'm guessing (and hoping) that makes for a stellar wine year for Niagara.

Right now, we are at the height of our growing season in and farmers markets are bustling with fresh produce, tender fruit and tons of greens... and zucchini's!

While you may not think of zucchini as being rich in nutrients, it rates very high in The World's Healthiest Foods across all nutrient categories: vitamins, minerals, macronutrients (like fiber and protein) as well as phytonutrients like carotenoids. They rate summer squash as an excellent source of copper and manganese and very good or good source of magnesium phosphorus, potassium, zinc, calcium, and iron. Not too shabby!

Most of the antioxidants and fiber are in the skin of a zucchini, so it’s best to keep the skin when eating it. However, most zucchini varieties in North America are genetically modified, so it’s best to purchase it organic.

I find that many of my clients get a little stumped on how to use zucchini in dishes other than grilling it or making a dip with it.

Most people have now heard of or have tried zucchini noodles or 'zoodles' that make a delicious low carb alternative to traditional noodles. Using zoodles in place of pasta has endless possibilites, but if you're tired of the whole zoodle thing or need a little zucchini inspiration, here are some of my favourite ways to use zucchini while they're in the in the height of their season and relatively inexpensive.

For more information and great healthy summer recipes, visit Sharlene Styles by clicking here

 

LIVE HEALTHY THIS SPRING AND SUMMER

Spring is in the air and summer is right around the corner. This is a time of rebirth, high energy, and living in harmony with nature. In order to make the best out of the outdoor season and lead a healthy and active lifestyle, follow these 4 easy steps.

1.      Embrace LIFE and ENERGY! This is the season of new beginnings, and this is your chance to embrace the new you. You don’t need to wait for the New Year to make new resolutions; in the spirit of the outdoor season, you can choose to be creative, adopt a new positive attitude, eat healthy, and be active right now!

2.      Be ACTIVE! As animal and plant life flourishes all around you, become one with that energy. Walk outside and take in the fresh scents of nature, hear the birds singing, and adopt an exercise program that will help you become your best and healthiest self. Whether you like to jog, bike, practice Yoga or Tai Chi, or lift weights, an active lifestyle is a crucial ingredient for improving your health and overall wellness.

3.      CLEANSE and PURIFY Your Body! With the fruits of nature in abundance and the sun shining its energy upon you, choose to avoid artificial chemicals and the excesses of drugs and alcohol. Eat healthy, drink healthy, and commit to dropping harmful habits like smoking. Good nutrition is nature’s medicine, and a healthy diet is essential for a long and healthy life.

4.      SEIZE THE SEASON! Check your local farmers’ markets for the freshest seasonal fruits and vegetables of the organic variety. Now that winter is behind us and fresh produce is once again growing locally, seize the opportunity to stock up on those luscious natural nutrients! There is nothing better than fresh, organic, and locally grown fruits and vegetables, so take advantage of this bounty while it lasts.

The spring and summer season is a time for creativity, vibrancy, and for new opportunities. Seize the benefits of this beautiful season and strive to reach your full potential! There is no time like the present.

Prevent Mold the Natural Way, using Essential Oils!

Springtime is the time of pleasant weather and beautiful flowers, but it is also a time when you really have to watch out for mold growing inside your home. The negative effects of mold are most acutely felt by those who suffer from asthma, allergies, or immune system deficiencies, but living with mold for a long period of time is dangerous for everyone. Mold triggers allergic reactions in many people such as sneezing and a runny nose, and those with asthma may actually experience asthma attacks as a result of mold.

Essential oils can be an effective natural remedy to mold buildup. In particular, Peppermint, Clove, Rosemary, and Cinnamon are among the most effective essential oils against mold and bacteria. A study conducted by the Internet Journal of Microbiology found clove oil to be effective against such bacteria as Staphylococcus and Aspergillus. Furthermore, according to studies conducted at the Western Infirmary in Glasgow, Scotland, lavender, melaleuca, thyme, and peppermint demonstrated the strongest killing power against MRSA antibiotic resistant bacteria.


It is advised to use a cold air diffuser in order to diffuse your essential oils so that they can kill the existing mold spores and prevent them from multiplying. Run a dehumidifier through damp spaces such as basements and crawl spaces in moist weather, because studies show that ventilating air is more effective in blowing air out of the house than simply bringing outside air in. Synergistic blends of essential oils are more powerful than individual ones, and the most helpful oils for fighting mold include Cinnamon, Clove, Lemon, Orange, Spruce, Rosemary, and blends of Biblical Oils. For the most effective result consider using a cold air diffuser, which doesn’t heat up the oils so it doesn’t destroy their anti-bacterial properties. Remember that chemical air fresheners are useless because they merely mask mold and mildew odors (instead of fighting bad bacteria, you are introducing more potentially harmful chemicals into your home).

If left unchecked, the growth of mold can result in serious physical symptoms such as headache, bloody nose, rashes, nausea, diarrhea, and more. If you believe that there might be a serious issue with mold in your home, contact a qualified mold expert rather than attempting to fix the problem yourself.

For more information about the health benefits of Essential Oils, contact me at Barbara.Grumme@century21.ca.

5 QUICK TIPS FOR HEALTHY SPRING CLEANING

Spring is finally upon us (at least according to the calendar) and with springtime comes spring cleaning! Keeping the home clean and healthy for our loved ones is extremely important, but cleaning with strong chemical agents can actually cause more harm than good. Here are 5 quick tips to keep your home clean and healthy this spring without resorting to harsh chemicals.

1.      Don’t Forget to Clean Unlikely Areas. For example, your mattress attracts allergy-causing dust mites and washing it in hot water of 60 degrees Celsius every month and wiping the top of the mattress with hot water will help keep that important area clean. Other areas that are often neglected include indoor trash cans, shower curtains, HVC filters, automatic dishwashers, and the fireplace.

2.      Old Wool Clothing is Great for Dusting! Because wool creates static when rubbed on a surface that needs cleaning, one wipe can keep your furniture dust-free without forcing you to resort to a chemical polish or spray.

3.      Clean Toilet Bowls the Healthy Way. Simply fill a spray bottle with white vinegar, pour a capful of white vinegar into the toilet, and then proceed to spray the sides of the bowl. Sprinkle sodium bicarbonate in the toilet and wait 15 minutes before scrubbing with a bit of bicarb sprinkled on the brush. Lastly, pour 250ml of vinegar into the toilet once a month and leave it to sit overnight. The vinegar will dissolve alkali build-up and prevent hard-water rings in the toilet.

4.      Toothpaste is a Healthier Way to Polish Silverware. Chemical polishes for silver are known to contain harmful ingredients such as ammonia and petroleum distillates. If you simply rub on some toothpaste to the silver surface then rinse with warm water and polish with a soft cloth, you will achieve a similar result in a healthier way.

5.      Keep Drains Clean without Chemicals. Chemical drain cleaners contain toxic ingredients like sulphuric acid and they can be extremely dangerous, not to mention that even the vapours that they give out are harmful. If you pour some boiling water and throw a handful of bicarbonate followed by 125ml of vinegar down the drain once a week, you will keep the drain cleaner for longer without resorting to harmful chemicals.

Happy spring cleaning! For more tips, feel free to contact me at Barbara.Grumme@century21.ca.

The Importance of Being Barefoot! (By Christa Barrete)

DID YOU KNOW?

Recent scientific studies reveal that taking off your shoes and walking barefoot on the natural earth has surprising benefits for your health! Walking barefoot creates a sensual sense of delight, and having your bare soles kneaded by the rugged ground can be as pleasurable as getting a professional (and expensive!) foot massage. There are reflexology points in your feet which connect to every organ in the body, and walking barefoot on uneven natural terrain stimulates pressure points in the feet.

 

But more than that, it is impossible to have a natural gait while wearing shoes. While shoes can protect our feet as we walk in the city and over sharp objects, they are no substitute for the precise shape of the soles of our feet. The unnatural shape of our shoes will throws our body out of its natural alignment over time, and while this causes no major concerns for some, for others it can cause problems such as hip and back pain that has no conventionally diagnoseable origin.

Walking barefoot allows for a natural gait, giving your body the chance to align itself and move freely. Walking barefoot for a period of time each day frees up tension stored in the muscles from shoe-wearing and allows the body to move naturally and freely, which improves posture and reduces stress build up.

Walking barefoot also literally grounds of the human body. Human beings are electrical in nature and electrons in the body have a charge. When our bodies have a predominantly positive charge, we feel stressed and can experience dis-ease. Positively charged ions or ‘free radicals’ are responsible for health problems ranging from aging to inflammation. Free radicals occur in the body as a result of exposure to un-natural environments, electronic equipment like computers, and the consumption of unhealthy foods.

Walking barefoot allows free radicals to move through our feet and be discharged into the earth. As the unhealthy positive ions are leaving the body, the beneficial negative ions from the earth travel up through our feet into our bodies. This cannot occur when wearing shoes, because they have rubber soles that effectively insulate us against this electric energy. When we have more negative ions in the body, we feel relaxed and happy, and negative ions in the body have been associated with a reduction in inflammation and dis-ease.

For more information on the benefits of walking barefoot and other great health tips, visit Christa’s Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/goodvibesyoganiagarafalls/.

Feng Shui for a Healthy and Happy Home!

Feng shui is an ancient Chinese art that dates back over 5,000 years. Feng shui is closely related to the study of CHI (energy or life force), and it is focused on attracting and channelling good chi throughout your home.

The 3 main principles of feng shui are:

1.      If it is dangerous, make it safe.

2.      If it is broken, fix it.

3.      If it is cluttered, organize it.

The basic philosophy of feng shui rests on the belief that everything is connected through life force/energy, and that your consciousness and state of mind are represented in your environment. The purpose of feng shui is to attract balance and harmony to our state of mind by reflecting this balance and harmony in our physical environment (at home, at work, and so on).

Positive chi is created with objects that are dear to you and cared for properly, while stagnant chi is found in the corners of rooms, in unused rooms, and in cluttered areas. Feng shui teaches us that clutter is in fact emotional, and that it actually brings down our energy. Put simply, a cluttered home represents a cluttered mind. You must learn to let go of that which no longer serves you in order to allow new treasures to come into your life!

If you would like to learn more about feng shui and perhaps attend one of my Love Your Life Seminars, feel free to contact me anytime at Barbara.Grumme@Century21.ca.

How To Keep Your New Year's Resolutions in 5 Easy Steps

With the New Year come new beginnings, and many of us are determined to turn over a new leaf and finally do that one thing that we’ve been putting off for a while. Whether we want to exercise more often, spend more time with the family, or finally go for that big promotion, the New Year is a time when most of us make life changing resolutions. But how can we actually keep these resolutions by the time February roles around?

Here are 5 easy steps to help you stick to your New Year’s resolutions in 2017!

  1. Be Specific! Many people make vague resolutions such as “get in shape” or “work harder” in the New Year, but when your goals are not specific you will not be motivated to work towards them. Instead, commit to losing 10 pounds or exercising at least 3 times a week, and then follow through! You can always move the bar higher as you go, but seeing real and specific results will motivate you to stick to it.
     
  2. Plan Ahead! Once you pick a specific goal, you need to plan your daily routine around that goal. If your New Year’s resolution is to exercise at least 3 times a week, you have to organize your life in a way that gives you the time to do that. Keeping a written schedule which you can review daily will help to keep you on track.
     
  3. Be Patient! If your goal is to lose 10 pounds in a month but after a month goes by you still find yourself at the same weight, your first instinct will likely be frustration and you might be tempted to give up altogether. At this point you must remember that everyone is different, and big changes in your daily routine need time to take hold. Stick to your guns and persevere.
     
  4. Be Flexible! As you pursue your New Year’s resolutions you might encounter unforeseen obstacles. For instance, you might be called into work on a day that you were planning to devote to exercise or some other important activity. Don’t let this throw you off! Success is not an all-or-nothing game, and you can reschedule your activities or even skip a day or two as long as you stay committed for the long haul.
     
  5. Get Support! Make the commitment to tell your friends and family what your goals are and what you are doing to achieve them. If you do this you will feel a greater incentive to follow through, and your loved ones will be able to support you through the process and remind you of your priorities. The “Buddy System” is an old idea, but that’s because it works.
     

If you follow these 5 easy steps you will be far more likely to stick to your New Year’s resolutions, and 2017 can be your year for new beginnings and new adventures!

Have you Discovered Heartland Forest?

One of Niagara’s most beautiful hidden treasures, Heartland Forest is unique natural attraction located on the outskirts of Niagara Falls (not far from the Niagara Square). Embracing the slogan Where Learning Comes Naturally, Heartland Forest is a registered charitable organization that welcomes people of all ages and abilities. Heartland Forest is a natural oasis in the heart of Niagara; it features easy access trails, gardens, turtle, frog, and fish ponds, as well as picnic, recreational, and interpretative areas.

With the opening of their new Nature Centre in 2013, Heartland Forest has expanded their programming and it now offers year-round access, allowing everyone to enjoy the accessibility, active lifestyle, and environmental stewardship that Heartland Forest provides. Their mission is simple:

To inspire and enrich the lives of people of all abilities through inclusive program offerings and hands on exploration. We are committed to community engagement and environmental stewardship for future generations.

Heartland Forest is open to the public for free from 9am to 4pm daily. For individuals visiting with groups other than their family, Heartland Forest asks that you phone ahead and give them a heads up. I am regular visitor myself, and I can vouch for the therapeutic effects of enjoying a leisurely walk across their beautiful trails.

For more information, please click here.

Essential Ingredients for a Stress-free Holiday Season - Frankincense Oil

Christmas is right around the corner, so what better time to talk about the many health benefits of frankincense? Frankincense was one of the gifts offered to baby Jesus by the three wise men, and it holds great religious meaning for Christians around the world. Aside from its religious significance, frankincense has also been transformed into an essential oil that is widely used in aromatherapy and natural health.  Here are some interesting and important facts that you might not know about frankincense oil.

Used as an anointing oil in religious ceremonies for thousands of years, over the centuries frankincense has also been a popular ingredient in cosmetics and it has been used by everyone from ancient Egyptians to Anglo-Saxons. Frankincense oil has several important benefits for our health, including calming and comforting properties that allow us to deal with stressful and emotional situations. In aromatherapy frankincense oil is used as a sedative that helps create a feeling of satisfaction, relaxation, and mental peace, allowing us to deal more effectively with stress, anger, and anxiety.

Frankincense oil is also useful for your skin health, and it has been shown to treat dry skin, reduce the appearance of scars and stretch marks, help with healthy cell regeneration, and reverse the signs of aging. The properties of frankincense oils can help speed up the healing of bites, cuts, boils, and acne, as well as strengthen gums and hair roots.

The health benefits of frankincense oils are associated with its anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, digestive, and disinfectant properties. Frankincense oil is considered a tonic because it is beneficial to all of the systems operating within our bodies, including the nervous, respiratory, digestive, and excretory systems. Moreover, it helps our bodies absorb nutrients and strengthens our immune system.

While generally safe, it is advisable to do a spot test on your skin to check if you have any type of sensitivity to frankincense oil. In order to take the oil internally it is advisable to dilute a drop in a teaspoon of honey, an edible carrier oil (such as coconut oil), or a glass of purified water or any non-acidic, non-dairy beverage. You could also simply put one or two drops under your tongue, but be advised that ingesting the oil is not recommended for children below the age of 7, and older children and teens may require higher dilutions.

For more information or to purchase frankincense and other essential oils, please click here.

 

Your “Essentials” for the Month of November – Wild Orange Essential Oils

As we move into November, we become increasingly aware of the need to strengthen our immunity system in order to resist seasonal threats such as the cold and flu. Essential oils are a great way to enhance our immunity the natural way, and for the month of November I recommend Wild Orange.

Cold pressed from the peel, Wild Orange essential oils have a fresh, energizing aroma and various health benefits. Wild Orange is great for protecting our immunity system from seasonal threats because it contains high levels of monoterpenes, which have antibacterial properties. Wild Orange also contains powerful antioxidants that help maintain our overall health; it can be taken on a daily basis to cleanse the body of toxins, or it can be used on surfaces as a natural cleaner (perfect to prepare your home for the upcoming holiday festivities). Moreover, diffusing Wild Orange essential oils on often gloomy November days will purify the air while energizing the body and mind with its fresh scent.

For more info on Wild Orange and essential oils in general, please visit my essential oils website.

BOOSTING YOUR IMMUNITY SYSTEM FOR THE FALL/WINTER SEASON

As my friend Sharlene Styles points out on her PureNaturalHealth.ca blog, seasonal changes can be challenging for those of us whose immune systems might not be functioning at full capacity.

 Photo by RomarioIen/iStock / Getty Images

Photo by RomarioIen/iStock / Getty Images

Sharlene notes that our immune system is our most powerful protection against illness and dis-ease, and it isn’t our exposure to a virus so much as our body’s ability to handle that exposure that determines our health.

Boosting our immune system is the most effective way to fight off harmful bacteria and viruses, and to stay healthy even as one season gives way to another. It is important to remember that the single biggest contributor to a weakened immune system is STRESS. This certainly applies to emotional stress, but it also applies to other aspects of our lives that serve as “stressors” on our body, including:

1. Diet

Nutritional deficiencies are among the most common contributors to a weakened immune system, particularly vitamin and mineral deficiencies, as well as the deficiencies of good gut flora and reduced levels of stomach acid (which are necessary for absorbing nutrients from our food). Consuming too much processed food, alcohol, wheat, dairy, and sugar also contribute to a deficient diet.

2. Lack of sleep

Sleep is essential for balancing our bodies and maintaining a strong immune system. Sleep deprivation leads to a reduction of natural killer (NK) cells that ward off bacteria and other pathogens, making us more vulnerable to illness.

3. Sugar

Consuming too much sugar has a negative impact on the effectiveness of our white blood cells, which keep us safe from viruses and other foreign invaders. Vitamin C is necessary for white blood cell protection, but because Vitamin C and sugar (glucose) have a similar chemical structure, too much sugar in the bloodstream leads the body to start absorbing sugar instead of Vitamin C and this deprives us of the benefits of Vitamin C as a powerful antioxidant.

4. Toxins

The natural role of our immune system is to fight off foreign invaders such as chemicals, pollutants, pesticides, herbicides, and so on. Too much exposure to these harmful elements will cause our system to go into overdrive, which will have a negative impact on its natural ability to defend itself.

5. Negative Emotions

Finally, emotional stress has a very real impact on our physical state. Emotions such as fear, anger, and guilt affect not only our mental state but also our physical ability to fight off viruses and bacteria by causing a spike in cortisol, which suppresses the immune system. Although they still cannot fully explain why, studies show that a positive attitude actually boosts our immune system.

Keeping these factors in mind, effective strategies for boosting our immune system include:

  • Regular exercise

  • Getting enough rest and sleep

  • Eliminating sugar from our diet

  • Consuming alcohol only in moderation

  • Finding ways to reduce stress

  • Washing hands frequently and thoroughly, and practicing good hygiene in general[1]

  •  Consuming plenty of fermented foods and/or probiotics in order to nurture good gut flora

  • Eating a colourful variety of whole foods, including fruits, vegetables, and lean protein

For more information, visit Sharlene at www.purenaturalhealth.ca and if you need some extra help, she’s also available for appointments!

[1] Maintaining a clean environment is not only good for your health, but also for the value of your home! In a recent survey by OREA, 7 out of 10 home sellers in Ontario said that ‘cleanliness’ is very important to retaining a home’s future resale value. In comparison, half said that a new/renovated kitchen is very important, while 46% said the same for a renovated bathroom.