Advice provided by the guides at Mountain Trek on a variety of health, nutrition, fitness and hiking topics.

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Recover From New Years’ Resolution Setbacks

image of dice spelling old habits

How are your New Year’s Resolutions going? Still on track, or are you mired in self-defeat? If it’s the latter then we’re here to help. Setbacks are just part of the process when we make big changes. Perhaps you vowed you’d eat breakfast every morning and then fell back into the routine of consuming only three coffees before lunch. Or maybe you said you’d exercise three days a week and have only managed to go once or twice. Not to worry–you are not failing! You’re doing everything right by just deciding to make a positive change in the first place.

Here are six tips to encourage you and help keep your goals on track:

Remember, it can take upwards of three months to create a healthy habit. Continue to stick with your goals and you’ll be increasing your overall vitality in no time!

  1. Firstly, if you’ve suffered a setback the key is don’t beat yourself up over it. Just acknowledge it, try to discern why you slipped, and then immediately get back on track again.
  2. If you find yourself continually encountering setbacks, maybe the change you’re trying to implement is too big? Is it possible to make a smaller change that will lead to a healthier path? For example, if you wanted to hit the gym three times a week but are struggling to make it there even once, then edit your goal. Resolve to go to the gym once a week to start, and work your way up from there. 
  3. If you keep lapsing into a bad habit, such as snacking on potato chips throughout your workday, then swap out the context of the bad habit. Instead of potato chips, snack on baked kale chips instead. 
  4. Get outside! There’s no better tonic than a walk through nature in the fresh air. If you find yourself lapsing into self-judgment and despair, just take a step outside and breath deeply. It seems like such a simple solution but you’ll be shocked at how it clears your mind and puts you in a better mood.
  5. Phone a friend! You are not in this alone. Engage a family member or friend and tell them about where you’re having difficulty. You’ll be amazed at how just talking about it to a good listener will help put you back on track.
  6. Travel! Nothing helps you break a bad habit faster than completely changing your environment. It’s so much easier to reinvent yourself when you’re not surrounded by the same-old, same-old. The trip doesn’t have to be an epic cross-country adventure – you could simply book a room at a local hotel, take a good book, and relax away from the stresses of your regular life. 

What is Mountain Trek?

Mountain Trek is the health reset you’ve been looking for. Our award-winning retreat, immersed in the lush nature of British Columbia, will help you unplug, recharge, and roll back years of stress and unhealthy habits. To learn more about the retreat, and how we can help you reset your health, please email us at info@mountaintrek.com or reach out below:

How To Balance Work And Play

woman in a business suit without shoes playing in a fountain

About 50 years ago, many of us moved from work that involved standing and moving to desk jobs that require more sitting. Not only that, but work hours have increased since then. For some, two-thirds of our day is spent connected to our job in some capacity. This can make for an incredibly stressful lifestyle.

By spending all of our time either working or sleeping poorly, it damages our mental and physical health. After all, our system is designed to run after gazelles on the African savannah. It doesn’t feel good when we sit in front of a computer for 14 hours a day. 

The good news is there are some easy things that you can do in order to better balance your work and play. In our opinion, the latter doesn’t get emphasized enough in our current work-obsessed society. Having fun is just as important, if not more so, for personal health and happiness.

Inch by inch is a cinch, but yard by yard is hard.

The key to a good balance is not biting off more than you can chew at first. The first thing you want to do is make a list of things that you consider fun and make you happy – even if the list is only one activity long. 

Perhaps you haven’t found the time to get outside as much as you’d like. The key is to start small and set a SMART goal. Don’t expect yourself to go for an hour-long walk every afternoon right off the bat. But you can get outside, even if it’s just walking from your car to your office. For the first few days, park farther away than you normally would, and as you’re striding along, take deep breaths and remember what it was like to run freely through nature. Before entering your office, look up at the sky for 30 seconds and just enjoy the view. 

When you’re at your desk, follow these five steps:

  1. Take 10 minutes out of your workday and relax and just clear your mind. 
  2. Drink lots of water. Not only will it cleanse your system but it will force you to get up and move when you need bathroom breaks. It will also allow you to step out of your work mode for a few moments to give you time to think of other activities.
  3. Occasionally get up from your desk and stretch in a doorway or stare out the window at the sky. While you’re doing that, think about what makes you happy.
  4. The next time you’re perusing Facebook or on some other social media site, stop what you’re doing and instead Google classes, courses, groups, or apps that are related to the activity you love. Bookmark relevant sites. Even if you don’t sign up right then and there, it will be beneficial to have your mind dwell on it.
  5. Mention to a friend or co-worker about your desire for better work/play balance and the activity you would like to get involved in. By putting it out there, you’ll enlist the help of acquaintances and it will become “real” as opposed to a “wish” that only exists in your mind.

Try and do the above things every day and eventually you’ll find yourself setting aside more and more time for the activity you love. Learn more ways you can pamper yourself.


What is Mountain Trek?

Mountain Trek is the health reset you’ve been looking for. Our award-winning retreat, immersed in the lush nature of British Columbia, will help you unplug, recharge, and roll back years of stress and unhealthy habits. To learn more about the retreat, and how we can help you reset your health, please email us at info@mountaintrek.com or reach out below:

Q&A: What is OMAD and is it healthy?

Plate with cooked salmon and veggies on blank table

Q: What is OMAD and is it healthy?

A: OMAD means One Meal A Day. The “One Meal a Day” diet is gaining popularity for its simplicity and supposed benefits. The premise behind this eating plan is that you eat one meal a day—ONE meal, that’s it! You have a 1-hour eating window, where you consume your single meal, but the other 23 hours are spent in a fasted state. This means no calories whatsoever, including beverages!

During this 1-hour eating window, you can eat and drink whatever and as much as you want. This includes ice cream, french fries, and wine. Yes, that right, any food, and any amount—as long as you do so during your scheduled mealtime. Some modifications include only eating as much as you can fit on one dinner plate, or only piling your plate up to 3″ high. Regardless of the specifics, the underlying belief is that you can only consume so many calories in one hour. That amount of calories will always be less than you burn for the other 23, therefore having a calorie deficit for the day and leading to weight loss.

An Expert’s Opinion

We took this question straight to our nutritionist, Jenn. Here is what she had to say:

This 23:1 fasting:eating plan screams extreme to me! Here are some reasons why:

  • In terms of blood sugar management, this eating style could be very damaging. During the one hour window in which any food—in any amount—is consumed, your blood sugar levels would spike substantially.
  • When I try and imagine someone spending nearly the entire day avoiding food and beverages altogether, I see a trend that’s entirely unsustainable in the long term.
  • Eating in this way could be very isolating; resulting in missed social engagements, due to food avoidance.
  • Such dietary restriction could encourage an unhealthy relationship with food.
  • A diet such as this could lead to binge eating, a preoccupation with food in general, extreme hunger, and low energy during the 23 hour fasting period.
  • If someone was to choose highly processed foods (high in refined sugar and salt) for their one-meal, it could easily lead to nutritional deficiencies.

Here is our favorite quote from Jenn: it all just seems so ridiculous! As I’m researching this, I feel like I’m being punked!

Healthy and Sustainable Choices for Results

We agree with you, Jenn. This diet seems about as far from balanced as you can get. At Mountain Trek, we believe and have proven, that eating a balanced diet is not only the most effective for increasing energy levels, balancing hormones, and weight loss, it is sustainable. Our plan incorporates intermittent fasting, but we follow a “12 on, 12 off” schedule, eating for the first 12 hours of our day (ideally from 6 am to 6 pm) and then fasting for the next 12 hours. This promotes better sleep, reduces calorie storage, lowers LDL cholesterol levels, and reduces the potential for insulin resistance (precursor to type 2 diabetes).

Eating during the day is important. Your body and brain are most active for the first 12 hours of your day, and they both need fuel to operate. We break our calorie intake during those 12 hours into 6 meals, starting with a smoothie immediately upon waking (ideally within 30 minutes). Continuing to eat every 2-3 hours allows us to stay ahead of hunger (when we make poor decisions) and ultimately, balance both our energy levels (no highs and crashes) and hormones. The end result is a sustainable balanced, nutritious plan that feeds our bodies the calories we need when we need them.


What is Mountain Trek?

Mountain Trek is the health reset you’ve been looking for. Our award-winning hiking-based health retreat, immersed in the lush nature of British Columbia, will help you detox, unplug, recharge, and roll back years of stress and unhealthy habits. To learn more about the retreat, and how we can help you reset your health, please email us at info@mountaintrek.com or reach out below:

The Truth About Superfoods

The term “superfood” has taken on a life of its own.

Superfoods are commonly defined as “a nutrient-rich food considered to be especially beneficial for health and well-being.” They consist primarily of dark green leafy vegetables, berries, fish, nuts, healthy oils (e.g. olive oil or avocado oil), and a few other nutrient power-houses.

What is a Superfood?

There is an alternate definition, however, that you should be aware of. “Superfood is a marketing term for food assumed to confer health benefits resulting from an exceptional nutrient density.” There are a couple of critical words in that definition; “marketing term” and “assumed”.

Harvard Medical school points out, in the first line of their article on superfoods, “No single food — not even a superfood — can offer all the nutrition, health benefits, and energy we need to nourish ourselves”. The idea that the term superfood is being used as a trendy marketing tool gives us cause for concern—not with the superfoods themselves, but with our understanding and knowledge of how to include superfoods into our diet. We want to avoid the belief that one food provides a healthy diet, prevents illness, and elongates your life.

For example, take the company Laird Superfood. The company was founded by surf legend Laird Hamilton on the principle that if he added some superfood nutrients to his coffee, his day would be off to an optimal start. Although this may increase the nutritional value of your coffee, it by no means replaces a proper, wholesome breakfast, as it’s advertised. It’s this type of thinking we want to prevent. In reality, breakfast is the most critical meal of the day. Eating a balanced, whole-food breakfast will help balance your hormones and has been proven to increase anabolic metabolism by 15%. It should be so much more than just a cup of coffee supplemented with a few nutrients.

Superfoods can certainly be nutritious, but the term can often be more useful for driving sales than providing optimal nutrition recommendations

When food is given superfood status, it causes people to fixate on a few specific foods. Thus limiting them from eating other equally nutritious options that aren’t as hyped. Variety in your diet is important not only to gain the benefit of eating a wide array of essential vitamins and minerals but also to prevent one from eating too much (or too little) of a particular nutrient. It also keeps your meals interesting and flavorful!

Eat Super-plates, not just Superfoods

All whole, unprocessed foods are super in different ways! The more diversity of whole foods you consume, the more varied your nutrient profile will be. Increased varieties of nutrients in your diet offers more protection against disease and illness. Instead of focusing on just one superfood, we suggest thinking about creating Superplates by incorporating a wide variety of whole foods.

The healthiest diets of the world are all different and include a wide variety of foods that offer diverse nutrient profiles. When studying cultural diets across the globe, you’ll see that there’s no one perfect diet. Each diet offers different food grown in those specific regions. In other words, you don’t need the Himalayan goji berry in your diet to achieve your best health. Goji berries are called a superfood because they contain chemical compounds called phytochemicals that are produced by plants. You can find similar health benefits in everyday fruits and veggies, like organic rainbow carrots, fresh leafy green vegetables, and even cauliflower and broccoli.

A delicious blueberry is another great example of a holy grail superfood that ranks high on superfood lists. For good reason, yes! Purple and dark red colored foods are the signatures of a special class of natural antioxidants called anthocyanins. Antioxidants are extremely important, as they reduce inflammation, and help to remove harmful substances from the body. However, blueberries aren’t the only food with this color. You’ll also find anthocyanins in red cabbage, red onion, purple carrots, and beautiful beets.

Balanced plates lead to balanced health

Over two decades of helping people reset their health and find a sustainable lifestyle, we have found that in order to reach our most optimal health it’s best to have a balance of fitness, nutrition, sleep, stress management, and detoxification. Someone who is fit and able to run a marathon, but only sleeps 4 hours a night, is not healthy. Someone who eats properly, but sits all day, is not healthy. So too goes this principle of balance for nutrition and superfoods—we cannot just eat one superfood and be healthy. We must eat a balanced super-plate, with a variety of whole foods for a sustainable diet that provides tons of energy, nutrients, and antioxidants. A diet that will leave YOU feeling SUPER.


What is Mountain Trek?

Mountain Trek is the health reset you’ve been looking for. Our award-winning health retreat, immersed in the lush nature of British Columbia, will help you detox, unplug, recharge, and roll back years of stress and unhealthy habits. To learn more about the retreat, and how we can help you reset your health, please email us at info@mountaintrek.com or reach out below:

Q&A: How do I stay safe and cool when hiking in the summer heat?

Q: I am aching to go hiking and get out of the house, but it’s hot out. How do I stay safe and cool when hiking in the summer heat?

A: Exercising outdoors has multiple health benefits including a 30% increase in calorie burn (compared to the same exercise and exertion indoors), a lowering of the stress hormone cortisol, and brain bathing of our “feel-good” neurotransmitters: dopamine, serotonin, and oxytocin. However, if we are used to a temperature and humidity controlled environment (gym or home), we need to incorporate some care before launching ourselves into mother nature’s arms as heat exhaustion or worse, heatstroke, can be dangerous and debilitating. Consider these tips:

Pre-hike:

  • Check the forecast and choose your days and activities when there is cloud cover and the UV index is lower. Be especially careful if going out on days when the UV index is 7 or higher.
  • Avoid mid-day sun, when UV rays are the strongest. Plan your hike for earlier in the day (early bird gets the worm!) or later to catch a sunset (bring a headlamp in this case).
  • If the humidity is high, lower your workout intensity to avoid overheating. Sweating, our body’s cooling mechanism, is more difficult when it is humid.
  • Make sure to hydrate and eat before heading out. Beyond energy requirements, proper nutrition will help with hydration.
  • Take a high-quality electrolyte 1-2 hours before going out on the trail (we use Vega products, which don’t have added sugar, making them much healthier than an alternative electrolyte drink like Gatorade). Electrolytes help your body retain moisture.
  • Wear the proper clothing for hot weather hiking. A wide-brimmed hat will keep the sun off of your face and neck. Light colors will reflect the sun. Loose, breathable clothing will allow ventilation. And a neck cover, such as a bandana, will come in handy. We typically recommend wool, but it’s a hot fabric, so for really hot weather, opt for thin cotton or a synthetic fabric. However, always wear a high-quality pair of wool socks, no matter what the temperature. Proper foot care is critical!

During-hike:

  • Make sure to stay hydrated on the trail. At Mountain Trek, we have a few sayings to help guests remember to drink water while hiking. “See water, hear water, drink water” is a favorite if you’re hiking along a creek or in the alpine amongst lakes. Another tip is to use a water bladder (one that holds at least 3 liters). If positioned correctly, the hose can be a constant reminder to hydrate, and to do so without stopping! You should aim to drink half of a liter per hour, but when it’s hot, you may need to increase that amount.
  • Look for shade to protect your skin. Stop in the shade for your longer water and snack breaks.
  • Wet your hat or bandanna in a cool stream or with your water bottle to keep your head and neck cool, two areas that significantly dictate our overall body temperature.
  • Acclimatize to the heat by incrementally increasing your exercise intensity over a few days. This will get your body used to the experience of exercising in the heat and will help you practice for longer days out on the trail.
  • Go with a friend for support and safety. It’s always a good idea to hike with a buddy.
  • Be aware of early warning signs of heat exhaustion: muscle cramping, lightheadedness, dizziness, headache, excessive sweating, confusion or irritability, increased heart rate, vision problems. If sensing any of these, stop in a shaded area, hydrate, and cool off.

Post-hike:

  • Continue to hydrate for the remainder of the day.
  • Keep a cooler in your car with icepacks, cold drinks and a cold washcloth. When you return, place the cool washcloth on your head or neck and enjoy your cold beverage, allowing your core temperature to lower again before driving home.

We hope these tips and tricks help you enjoy the summer heat safely. Enjoy your time on the trail.


What is Mountain Trek?

Mountain Trek is the health reset you’ve been looking for. Our award-winning hiking-based health retreat, immersed in the lush nature of British Columbia, will help you detox, unplug, recharge, and roll back years of stress and unhealthy habits. To learn more about the retreat, and how we can help you reset your health, please email us at info@mountaintrek.com or reach out below:

Q&A: What is inflammation, and how do I reduce it?

Exhausted businesswoman having a headache in modern office. Mature creative woman working at office desk with spectacles on head feeling tired. Stressed casual business woman feeling eye pain while overworking on desktop computer.

Q: What is inflammation, and how do I reduce it?

A: Acute inflammation is a natural healing and protection response from our immune system. Think of your ankle swelling from an accidental roll on the tennis court. The body floods the joint with plasma and immune repair cells to inhibit movement so the soft tissue can mend. Or, perhaps you get a seasonal runny nose when pollens enter your sinus and the mucous membranes swell and release antibodies to remove the unwanted threat that your body deems dangerous. In both these instances, the immune system creates inflammation in a response to danger or injury. This is healthy.

Chronic inflammation, on the other hand, is not healthy

Chronic Inflammation is the root cause of 75-90% of today’s illnesses (according to the Cleveland Clinic). If our immune system is continuously taxed as it fights to remove incoming viruses, bacteria, antigens, chemicals or plastics, we can trigger stress on our organs and endocrine (hormone) system.

Research is now seeing Chronic Inflammation as the underlying stress leading to heart disease, metabolic disease, cancers, and even depression and anxiety. The same triggers that lead to ongoing inflammation are also seen as potential contributors to autoimmune illnesses such as Type 2 diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, Hashimoto’s (hypothyroidism), and Inflammatory Bowel Diseases (IBS). And, autoimmune diseases also create more inflammation as the body’s immune cells get confused and start attacking the body instead of the intruders.

Unmanaged stress from trauma, whether psycho-emotional or physical is a key factor in inflammation. Research is showing an extremely strong connection between the nervous system, hormonal system, and immune systems. Chronic stressors that come into the body through the digestive, and respiratory systems, or absorbed through the skin like toxic chemicals, food allergens, or bacteria have an easier time defeating a suppressed immune system when cortisol is continuously elevated.

It all may sound a bit of doom and gloom, but fear not! Here are a few strategies to support your immune system and lower inflammation. Some of these strategies are also beneficial to those suffering from autoimmune illnesses to support a state of remission.

How to Reduce Inflammation

  • Support the eliminatory system with a fiber and probiotic-rich plant-based diet, and lots of fresh water
  • Minimize the ‘sour 8’ foods (gluten, lactose, casein, soy, corn syrup, alcohol, sugar, nightshade vegetables) and other unique dietary antigens, after having a food sensitivity test by a certified Naturopathic ND
  • Consider mineral supplements like vitamin D and C to support immune cells and the B’s to lower stress
  • Add anti-inflammatory foods into your diet, for example, turmeric, omega 3 oil, brassica vegetables, and sauerkraut
  • Get regular exercise and target 10,000 steps a day to keep the circulatory system moving toxins out of the body
  • Sleep deeply and regularly 7-9 hrs, as deep non-REM sleep is when the immune system goes to work
  • Intermittent fast for 12 hrs between dinner and breakfast allowing cells to ‘clean-up and recycle’ via autophagy
  • Manage mental and psycho-emotional stress with meditation, nature immersion, massage, and somatic therapy
  • Avoid petrochemicals, pesticides, and plastics as much as possible, as most are considered hormone disruptors
  • Support your eliminatory system to release toxic chemistry with infrared saunas or steams, massage and chelation foods like cilantro and spirulina

We hope that this gives you a good understanding of what causes inflammation in the body and how to reduce it.


What is Mountain Trek?

Mountain Trek is the health reset you’ve been looking for. Our award-winning health retreat, immersed in the lush nature of British Columbia, will help you detox, unplug, recharge, and roll back years of stress and unhealthy habits. To learn more about the retreat, and how we can help you reset your health, please email us at info@mountaintrek.com or reach out below:

How To Reset Your Health In 48 Hours

a woman sitting on a hiking trail meditating

It’s perfectly understandable that spending an entire week eating healthfully, hiking through lush nature, sleeping well, exercising, and detoxifying will do wonders for your mind and body. But you might be shocked to hear that with the right strategy and a little bit of motivation, you can make a profound impact on your health in just 48 hours. That means that in just one weekend, you can right the ship, take the reins, and restore the balance of your health. It’s not a walk in the park (well, you actually might take a walk in the park) but your body will thank you for dedicating just one single weekend to yourself.

We’ve been running our Basecamp weekend retreats in response to the COVID crisis. Guests spend one weekend (Friday 3 pm – Sunday evening) following our program and working virtually alongside our expert team. And we have to say—the results have been absolutely amazing. Participants are feeling significantly lighter, recharged, and reset. We’ve distilled this amazing weekend into an easy to follow 4-step guide so you can reset your health in the span of 48 hours, and emerge from a healthy weekend feeling like the best version of yourself.

Step 1) Make a bulletproof schedule

The last thing you want to be doing all weekend is constantly trying to decide “what’s next”. This will prevent you from fully sinking into the weekend. Sit down and write your 48-hour schedule on a piece of paper. Make sure to include the following critical elements:

Nutrition

Eat 6 times per day, starting immediately upon waking, and consume your calories within a 12-hour window. Give your metabolism a break for the other 12 hours (Intermittent Fasting). Eat most of your calories early in the day and then taper off moving towards night-time. Eat organic, plant-based food when available, and avoid processed food, added sugar, and alcohol.

Fitness

Move your body as much as possible throughout the day. We weren’t designed to sit, so let’s try to do as little of that as possible this weekend. Time your exercise for after your meals to begin understanding the value of food as fuel, not a coping mechanism. Begin your day with yoga (after a smoothie), then after breakfast do a HIIT or other functional fitness class. After lunch, spend a long time outside in nature, walking for either 40 minutes at a vigorous pace, or 90 minutes at a leisurely rate. Then, following dinner, tackle one more functional fitness class and end your night with restorative yoga.

Sleep

After a full day of exercise and eating properly, you have some building blocks for great sleep. Ensure you not only get enough hours of sleep, but also a deep sleep. Take a warm bath with Epsom salts and lavender oil 90 minutes prior to bed, don’t let your phone cross the threshold of your room, ensure your room is the right temperature and is dark, and do a relaxation technique while laying down. Read our full guide to great sleep for more tips.

Stress relief/management

Make sure to include relaxation time. Mindfulness is a highly potent tool for stress relief. If you already have a practice, carve out a large chunk of time of your weekend to dive deeper than you have in the past. If mindfulness is new to you, take this weekend as an opportunity to dip your toes in. Schedule a couple of 5-10 minute guided meditations sessions, ideally early in the morning and then again before bed.

Creating a schedule can be difficult, so we’re happy to share ours. If you actually want to follow along, all of the recipes and exercises are linked (click the image first), and you can find a shopping list below

Step 2) Prepare for success

Once your schedule is in place, it’s time to commit and get ready to immerse in the weekend. There are three critical components to preparing:

Ensure you have the right equipment—for our schedule, you need the following:

  • Kitchen with basic cooking tools
  • Blender
  • Yoga mat
  • Yoga strap (could be a belt or tie, etc.)
  • Firm blanket or pillow (for morning yoga)
  • 3 large firm pillows (e.g. couch cushions—for restorative yoga)
  • Light weights (2-5lbs) or substitute (soup cans or water bottles)
  • Running shoes
  • A chair (used for stability during exercise classes)
  • Water bottle

Shop for your ingredients 2-3 days prior to the weekend

View a shopping list for our schedule

Remove as many distractions as possible

Carve out this time for you. It’s only 48 hours, so almost everything can wait. Tell your friends, family, and colleagues that you are going to immerse yourself in this experience and request they only call, text, or email if it’s an emergency. This will reduce your stress and anxiety. Get baby sitters for the kids if you have them, or make a plan with your partner to watch them for the weekend. Be selfish for just this one weekend.

Step 3) Instill accountability

We’ve talked the talk. It’s time to walk the walk. While investing in an experience like Mountain Trek and spending time with our expert staff, whether that be a full week at the lodge to really dive deep into your health transformation or just a weekend for a quick tune-up, will provide you the accountability you need to succeed, it isn’t always an option. Fortunately, there are plenty of tools and tricks to instill accountability on your own:

Form a “tribe”

The best thing you could possibly do is gather a small group of your closest allies and do the healthy weekend reset together. Sharing your experience with others has been proven to dramatically increase your chances of success and will make the experience more memorable and enriching. Create a group text thread dedicated to the weekend and have nightly Zoom calls to touch base and discuss your experience and progress.

Share your intentions

If no one is able to join you, share what you are attempting to accomplish with a close friend, family member, or colleague. Detail to them what you are doing the healthy weekend and what you are hoping to accomplish. Ask them to check in with you on Sunday about how it went. Just knowing that someone else is aware of your goals will hold you accountable.

Set a reward

Completing your healthy weekend reset is a big deal and a positive experience. These accomplishments deserve rewards, not only to keep you working towards the goal but to create a positive association with accomplishing such endeavors. Write your reward down prior to beginning your weekend and stick it on the fridge as a reminder.

Step 4) Turn healthy actions into habits

Once your 48-hours are up, you need to capture the momentum you worked so hard to create to ensure your health stays pointed in the right direction. A 48-hour reset is not a justification to go binge on bad habits—it is a leveling-up, a beginning of a new chapter, a fresh start. To keep your compass pointed towards your “true north”, we need to cement your new habits so they become part of your lifestyle.

Building habits is a skill and can be tricky at times. At Mountain Trek, we follow a six-step process to build healthy habits—ones that are truly sustainable:

1. Identify your health and wellness goals

This one is easy. Just write down all of your goals. Try to be as specific as possible, however.

2. Redesign your goals to optimize for success

Make sure your goal is SMART; specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time-anchored. Setting a SMART goal immediately doubles your chance of success.

3. Simplify

Pick a maximum of two goals from step 1.

4. Set a weekly target

Start small. Aim for doing your healthy action two, maybe three times each week, then grow from there.

5. Monitor your progress and adjust if needed

Write your goal down in a journal, keep a piece of paper handy with a tally, track it using your online calendar, or, you can use either Mountain Trek’s Health & Habit Building App, which will keep track of your progress for you, or our simple goal tracker. Whatever tool you decide to use, it’s important to monitor your activity, notice when you’re falling behind and congratulate yourself when you are achieving your goals.

6. Reward your intention

Whether you are successful or not, you need to reward yourself for your intention to do your best. Rewards can be small or big, simple, or complex.

You now have a proven strategy to reset your health in the course of just one weekend. We hope you take the time to invest in your health, you need and deserve it now more than ever. Be compassionate to yourself throughout the process and don’t worry if it doesn’t all go to plan. There will most likely be hiccups along the way. The important part is that you committed to a healthy weekend—to yourself—and you made your best effort.

If the above is daunting to tackle on your own, we would be more than honored to have you join us for one of our upcoming Basecamp weekend retreats, where our expert team will do all of the work listed above for you, so all you need to do is show up and give it your best.

Good luck, stay healthy, and keep moving!


What is Mountain Trek?

Mountain Trek is the health reset you’ve been looking for. Our award-winning health retreat, immersed in the lush nature of British Columbia, will help you detox, unplug, recharge, and roll back years of stress and unhealthy habits. To learn more about the retreat, and how we can help you reset your health, please email us at info@mountaintrek.com or reach out below:

Q&A: What is a benchmark workout?

woman running outside with beautiful summer evening in the mountains

Q: What is a benchmark workout and is it important?

A: You’ve probably heard of the term benchmark. Whether it be CrossFit and maintaining a WOD, achieving a lower boy fat percentage on a body composition analysis, or a fitness test compromising of a series of bodyweight exercise repetitions to complete according to age/sex, benchmarks are simply the finish line. Benchmark is a term that factors in measurements regardless of the category. It can range from numbers on the scale, girth of your waist, or repetitions in your bench press.

Most can likely recall physical fitness testing in grade and high school. The 12-minute run, beep test, chin-ups, sit and reach, and body fat % to name a few. These kinds of values can give a starting point and upon working on our fitness level, can retest and compare to test for improvements.

A benchmark is also considered a milestone, synonymous to a goal, the means to the end of the achievement. This is a great way to improve current fitness levels because the body is constantly adapting to new stimuli. What once was difficult, say running a mile, after time becomes an easily achievable parameter. Just don’t set your sights too high from your current level. Be realistic and meet your body where it’s at.

An important factor to consider is your level of fitness. If you have been sedentary (a couch potato, if you will) you can simply set a goal for how many times a week you break a sweat or participate in continuous activity. According to the American Heart Association and American College of Sports Medicine, guidelines recommend that all healthy adults 18-65 engage in either 30 minutes of moderately intense cardio 5 days a week or intense cardio for 20 minutes 3 days a week. So for a beginner, these benchmarks could be a great starting point. At Mountain Trek, we recommend upping that to 40 minutes and shooting for a “perceived rate of exertion” of between 6.5-8.5 out of 10. That means you are exerting between 65% and 85% of your maximum output for 40 minutes straight. This will go beyond just maintaining your cardio health and will give you the opportunity to get to a “fat-flush” state, where you will reduce your body fat percentage.

There are a number of physical factors you can test, mainly: strength, endurance, flexibility, balance, and body composition. Average norms can be found for comparative values. For example, the Mayo Clinic uses the push up for the Muscular Strength and Endurance Test. They also provide “good fitness results” for both men and women according to age. So for a 45-year-old woman, 14 push-ups and 16 for a man would be considered “good muscular strength and endurance”. They also suggest retesting yourself on physical parameters every 6 weeks to check for improvement. Again, at Mountain Trek our goal is to push you past “maintenance” and into “growth” so we can increase muscle mass and help balance hormones, especially as we age, so we might raise the bar on these standards, again.

A franchise that loves their benchmarks WODs (workout of the day) is CrossFit. Named after traditional women’s names such as Fran and Angie, these workouts have very specific parameters and standard units of measurement, so strength and endurance can easily be measured and compared over time. The workouts hold space for improvement from beginner through advanced by adjusting the workout through duration, weight, or reps. Each successive benchmark workout should surpass the last—that is when you know you are making progress.

Elite athletes also use benchmarking as a way to monitor improvement over time. Standards specific to any sport are available at all levels, including World, Olympic and National records that they can use for comparison to train for competitions.

In summary, a benchmark is a standard exercise that you repeat in order to measure progress. Benchmark workouts should be very personal, and regardless of the category of fitness you fall under, it’s all about setting both short-term and long-term goals and reaching them all in the name of health and fitness progress. Whatever the goal, it should be relatable to your life and needs, whether it be being able to pick up the grandkids or benchpress 250 lbs. To learn how to set a good goal, read our article, How to Build Healthy Habits in 6 Steps.


What is Mountain Trek?

Mountain Trek is the health reset you’ve been looking for. Our award-winning health retreat, immersed in the lush nature of British Columbia, will help you detox, unplug, recharge, and roll back years of stress and unhealthy habits. To learn more about the retreat, and how we can help you reset your health, please email us at info@mountaintrek.com or reach out below:

Q&A: How can I balance my hormones as I enter mid-life?

Q: How can I balance my hormones as I enter mid-life?

A: If you have difficulty falling asleep, managing food cravings, feel like you’re at the mercy of mood swings, are noticing muscle loss, have excessive sweating, low energy or libido, can’t seem to lose belly fat, or have unusual weight loss or gain, your hormones may be out of balance. Hormones are little chemical messengers that initiate and maintain all the systems in our body. For survival, we’ve been blessed (rather unfortunately) with an override system—a giant red panic button of sorts—that is triggered when we’re stressed or notice we’re in danger. You’ve probably heard of it—it’s our flight, fight, or freeze response—and when faced with a stressor, such as a mountain lion—or an irate client or teenage son or daughter—our sympathetic nervous systems cause a flood of stress hormones such as cortisol and epinephrine (a.k.a adrenaline), as well as various endorphins, to be released, giving us a magic jolt of power to either high tail it out of there, stand our ground and fight off the stressor, or rev up to take action (freeze). This cocktail of survival hormones is akin to downing a case of Red Bull. It ramps up energy, but at the same time, it shuts down digestion and immune functions, as these are not critical for survival at that exact moment. There’s the catch—this response is meant only for that exact moment—a finite one-time event.

Cue up today’s norm, when we have ongoing, relentless stressors bombarding us, both emotional and physical. Since these stressors are not finite, one-time events, our stress hormones have no chance of neutralizing. Herein lies the problem…

In a natural circadian day, the stress hormone cortisol rises to help us wake up and focus, allowing us to go work to bring home the calories necessary to survive (and the money to pay the mortgage). Cortisol levels naturally lower as atmospheric light changes in the afternoon, and are eventually replaced by our sleep beckoning hormone, melatonin. Without proper hormone balance, we don’t sleep correctly, and our immune system doesn’t perform well at its key tasks; fighting viruses, bacteria, cancers, and repairing damaged tissue. Sound important? You betcha.

During this same day, a series of thyroid hormones control our metabolism, while our blood sugar is managed by the hormones insulin and glucagon. The effects of these being out of balance? obesity, diabetes, fatigue, irritability, to just name a few.

Meanwhile, our sex hormones, estrogen (primarily estrone, estradiol, and estriol), progesterone, and testosterone are all being created from our youth hormone DHEA. And if our sex hormones are out of balance, the side effects are numerous, the worse case being cancer.

If we are under continuous stress (“chronic stress”), our youth hormone, DHEA—which, don’t forget, is the precursor to our sex hormones—takes a back seat to cortisol production, as cortisol is technically more important to survival—we have to survive first, so we can reproduce second! Ultimately, if we want to balance our sleep, sex, and metabolic hormones we need to manage our chronic stress. Only once we’ve lowered our cortisol levels throughout the day do our other critical hormones have the chance to balance out.

Since all of our various hormones are created from the building blocks of our nutrition, eating a balanced diet—with an emphasis on the plant kingdom—is essential to keeping our hormone production up as we age. Exercise is also critical—especially strength training to momentary muscular failure (the point at which no more reps can be performed with perfect form)—and will help slow the decline of human growth hormone production, a natural process occurring from middle-age onward, but one that we should attempt to counteract.

As we enter midlife, it’s critical to monitor our hormone levels so we can effectively manage our energy, moods, sleep, and body composition. The endocrine system is amazingly complex, so we recommend getting a thorough baseline measurement from your doctor of all of your hormones and their precursors. Since our hormones naturally fluctuate throughout the day and night, we recommend a test that takes multiple samples over a 24-hour period in order to properly map the rise and fall.


What is Mountain Trek?

Mountain Trek is the health reset you’ve been looking for. Our award-winning health retreat, immersed in the lush nature of British Columbia, will help you detox, unplug, recharge, and roll back years of stress and unhealthy habits. To learn more about the retreat, and how we can help you reset your health, please email us at info@mountaintrek.com or reach out below: