Mind & Spirit

Our A to Z guide to spring cleaning your wellness routine

Our A to Z guide to spring cleaning your wellness routine

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Mind & Spirit

Our A to Z guide to spring cleaning your wellness routine

Hit the reset button and feel your best with the latest and greatest in health, nutrition, fitness and mindfulness.

A—AYURVEDA

The more than 2,000-year-old practice of ayurveda ("science of life" in Sanskrit), one of the world's oldest holistic sciences, has been having a modern-day resurgence. At its core, this traditional method of treatment strives to align our minds, bodies and spirits by harmonizing the three doshas (pitta, kapha and vata), or energies, within us. Ayurveda covers a lot of ground: diet, lifestyle, exercise, herbal remedies and skin care. We'd love to check out Aveda's ayurvedic spa at SilverStar Mountain Resort in Silver Star Mountain, B.C.

 

B—BANDS 

You'll want to hop on this bandwagon. Resistance bands are an inexpensive and portable strength-training tool. An alternative to heavy equipment, these mini bands can go anywhere—from the park to your hotel room—and they utilize their built-in resistance to target both the upper and lower body while zeroing in on smaller muscle groups.

 

C—COFFEE

Switch out cream and sugar in your cuppa joe for a super-charged mug of Bulletproof Coffee. The brew is credited to Dave Asprey, a tech entrepreneur from Albuquerque, N.M., who perfected the recipe. He says it triggers weight loss and helped him shed 150 pounds. The three-ingredient brew: Blend black coffee with one to two tablespoons of Bulletproof's Brain Octane Oil and a pat of grass-fed unsalted butter (or ghee). Or, if you find coffee too acidic, try chaga (or mushroom coffee), which is slightly smoother, immune-boosting and packed with antioxidants.

 

D—DRY BRUSHING

Skin is our largest organ, so give yours a little TLC. With age, cell turnover decreases, causing cells to become stickier and to shed less easily. To get your glow back, sweep a soft-bristled brush up your limbs and torso to remove dead cells. The ancient practice of dry brushing is a simple and natural way to exfoliate and energize your skin and to increase blood flow and circulation while detoxifying the lymphatic system. 

 

E—ESSENTIAL OILS

Do you have a medicine cabinet full of essential oils that you're not sure how to use? Here are a couple of ideas: Add a few drops of eucalyptus oil to your shower floor, turning it into a spa-worthy steam room. Or soothe sore muscles postworkout by dabbing a few drops of peppermint oil onto achy spots. 

Try: Thursday Plantation 100% Pure Eucalyptus Oil and 100% Pure Peppermint Oil, $10 each, thursdayplantation.com.

 

F—FLUIDS

If you find drinking plain water boring, kick it up a notch with some new H20 options. Flow, the on-the-go boxed water, has two new refreshing flavours: cucumber and mint, and lemon and ginger. For a hint of sweetness, grab Sapsucker (25 calories per serving), a water harvested from mature maple trees in Canada.

Try: FLOW Organic Flavoured Water, $2, ca.flowhydration.com. Sapsucker Maple Tree Filtered Water, $3, sapsucker.ca.

 

G—GEAR 

What scientists call "enclothed cognition" could explain why shopping for and wearing new activewear can provide the motivation you need to make it to Spinning. Trade in old duds for a pair of colourful leggings, a comfy tank or cross-trainers. 

 

H—HIBISCUS TEA

Sip on this: A steaming cup of tart and refreshing hibiscus has anti-inflammatory properties, which some studies have shown may lower blood pressure. It is also rich in vitamin C, has a potent dose of antioxidants and may help quell monthly menstrual pains.

Try: Davids Tea Organic Queen of Tarts tea, $9/50 g, davidstea.com.

 

I—INTERVAL TRAINING

According to the Worldwide Survey of Fitness Trends for 2018, this year's No. 1 fitness craze is high-intensity interval training (HIIT), which combines quick bursts of high-intensity exercise with short recovery periods. It helps you burn fat more efficiently, both during and after the workout, and it increases metabolism. 

Classes we love: F45 Training's Hollywood, Orangetheory Fitness's Orange 60, Equinox's Firestarter (Toronto and Vancouver) and Barry's Bootcamp Full Body (Toronto).

 

J—JOIN A CLUB

This season, shed some layers, press pause on that workout video and hit the club—a fitness club, that is. Fitness studios are the new social hub, and group classes are a great way to sweat and socialize. Our suggestion: Nix cocktail plans with your pal and ask her to join you at a Pilates class instead.

 

K—KOMBUCHA

A mix of bacteria and yeast (it's tastier than it sounds), this fizzy, fermented tea is growing in popularity and projected to keep bubbling. It's been reported to aid digestion and boost metabolism. Spots such as O-Five Rare Tea Bar in Vancouver, True Büch Kombucha in Calgary and Mary Be Kitchen in Toronto serve it on tap.

 

L—LYKKE

Meik Wiking, author of The Little Book of Hygge and CEO of the Happiness Research Institute, returns with his latest book on lykke (pronounced "luu-kah"), the Danish word for happiness. In The Little Book of Lykke, he dishes on what incites happiness in people. A few joyous thoughts: A 2014 study by Montreal's McGill University found that walking or cycling puts us in a better mood than driving, as do buying experiences (rather than objects) and reading.

 

M—MORINGA

Move over, matcha; moringa has been touted as one of this year's superfoods. Harvested from a tree in India, the leaves are brewed as tea or ground into a powder, which can be sprinkled on food or in drinks for extra pep. It's a complete plant protein, and it's rich in energy-boosting iron, antioxidants and vitamins A and C. 

 

N—NEW DIETS

Whole30 eliminates grains, dairy, added sugars and anything processed for 30 days. The ketogenic diet is a low-carb and high-fat and -protein diet, prompting your body to produce more ketones (the result of the body burning fat).

 

O—OUTDOORS

Now that the days are longer and the forecast isn't bleak, it's time to reacquaint yourself with the great outdoors. Research shows that time spent outside "forest bathing" in nature or getting some physical activity outside is beneficial to your mind and body.

 

P—PROBIOTICS

Gut health is a hot topic these days, so expect to see a slew of probiotic-rich products—from beverages to bars, containing various strains and doses—populating your grocery-store shelves.

Try: Welo Probiotic Bar, $3, ourwelo.com.

 

Q—QUIET

We're surrounded by so much noise in our daily lives that taking a self-regulated timeout, such as a five-minute daily meditation or an extended retreat, can be the ultimate counteraction. 

 

R—RUNNING SEASON

Spring is the ideal season to start, or resume, your running regimen. Need some inspiration? Look to Canadian Betty Jean McHugh, who, at 90, is still breaking records. Or read about how author Margaret Webb became a runner at age 50 (while she was still a smoker). Tips: Sign up for a short race, find a running buddy, create a fun play­list or invest in a new pair of kicks. Our shoe pick: Nike's latest Epic React Flyknit runner has a minimalist esthetic, yet it provides comfort and a supportive base.

Try: Nike Epic React Flyknit shoes, $200, nike.com.

 

S—SMOOTHIES

Supercharge your next drink with more than just veggies, fruit and fresh herbs by adding a nutritional boost, such as flax, chia or hemp seeds. Our must-have machine is the Vitamix, prized for its ability to pulverize any ingredient while keeping fibre and nutrients intact. Bonus: The Ascent series models are more versatile, so you can make soups, frozen dessert and nut butters, too. 

Try: Vitamix Ascent Series A2500 blender, $820, vitamix.ca.

 

T—TRAVEL

One of the fastest-growing vacation trends is wellness travel, which is on track to steadily increase over the next few years. Whether it's for a yoga retreat, a tennis or skiing clinic, a run-cation, a hiking trip or a beach-body boot camp, many travellers are trading in all-inclusive for an opportunity to detox, meditate, workout or perfect a skill. 

 

U—YOU TIME

This season of rebirth is an ideal time to reset your goals and intentions for the year. Being "time poor" means that carving out moments for yourself is tougher than ever. In The Art of Stopping Time, New York Times bestselling author Pedram Shojai suggests we change our relationship with the clock by focusing on the task at hand, whether it's preparing dinner, playing with our kids or binge-watching our favourite show. Think: Replace multitasking with mindfulness.

 

V—VITAMIN D

A 2018 study from the University of Alberta has found that the fat cells beneath our skin shrink when exposed to the blue light emitted by the sun. (Rem­ember to apply enough sunscreen to fill a shot glass about eve­ry two hours.) 

 

W—WALNUTS

This nut brings home the "W" for its high content of heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids, fibre, magnesium and protein. A handful, or a quarter cup, is the ideal serving size, clocking in at less than 200 calories.

 

X—XX

The year of the woman also means the year of personalized and curated health care for females. With at-home genetic-testing kits, we can examine our medical history and "biohack" our current and future wellness by modifying lifestyle choices, including nutrition, fitness and medical testing.

Try: 23andMe Health + Ancestry Service, $249, 23andme.com.

 

Y—YOGA [EVERY DAY]

Salute the sun and take inspiration from yogi Tao Porchon-Lynch, the world's oldest yoga teacher, who turns 100 in August. Why yoga? "A daily yoga practice with mindful breathing and positivity provides physical and mental benefits that can increase self-love, reduce stress, improve flexibility and posture, and tone and elongate muscles," says Julian Brass, a Toronto-based yoga instructor and anxiety-reduction expert.

 

Z—GET YOUR Z'S

How long is your to-do list? A 2018 study by Texas's Baylor University finds that writing down tasks before hitting the hay can help off-load thoughts and worries so you're not stressing when you should be sleeping. And here's another thing to do: Invest in a comfy pillow. Our favourite is the Casper two-in-one that works for every sleep position.

 

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Our A to Z guide to spring cleaning your wellness routine

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