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


Kick Your Cravings to the Curb

Cravings for TreatsCravings. We all get them. Those insidious little visits from our brains to our stomachs that beg for… chips!  Or chocolate! Or cheese and some of those tasty crackers that I know are in the cupboard. And those cravings can be responsible for a lot of the sugar and empty calories we consume throughout the day. They’re persistent when they come sneaking around demanding to be satisfied, but they can be beaten!
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Trim & Slim

Sugar has been directly linked to weight gain for both men and women. It is also the hidden culprit behind cravings. As we consciously change our diets and lessen the amount of sugars we consume, cravings too will subside.


One of the often overlooked causes of anxiety, panic attacks, and mood problems is imbalanced blood sugar. As sugar levels swing high and low, the body blasts out adrenaline (epinephrine) and cortisol to balance blood sugar levels so the brain doesn’t starve of glucose. By balancing sugars levels, in this case by limiting the amount we consume, adrenal hormones adrenalin and cortisol levels don’t bounce us all over the map. This also allows the adrenals to rest and lessens anxiety due to high levels of adrenaline circulating the body.

Panic attacks and anxiety are very common especially when blood glucose (sugar) levels are low, since it’s the adrenaline and cortisol that raise levels to safe levels. As we eliminate sugar from our diets, we eliminate the spikes of adrenaline and cortisol that counter the sugar crash.


Sugar comes in the obvious form of refined sugar and hidden as fructose in many prepared foods and as starch in carbs like potatoes, pasta and bread. Even high carb grains and legumes possess starches that break down to sugar. Sugar is present in everything from ketchup (each tbsp packs about 1 tsp of sugar or 2 cubes worth) to tomato soup (the whole can contains the equivalent of 7.5 tsp or 15 cubes worth)  and of course muffins (which pack on average, 10 tsp or 20 cubes worth). It’s important to read labels and educate yourself about where you’re getting your sugar. Maybe you’re not a junk food person, but maybe you’re picking up sugar from other sources you didn’t realize contained it.

You can find out more about sugar consumption and nutritional advice from Cynthia Sass, MPH, RD in her article Nutrition Guidelines: Are You Eating Too Much Sugar?

Mountain Trek SaladIt takes a little bit of commitment and some preparedness to do battle with sugar and your cravings but they can be beaten. So here are a few tips to keep you on the road to healthy eating and kick those cravings to the curb once and for all.

Replace your cravings with healthier food. Gotta have a snack? Grab some baby carrots or an apple, maybe some strawberries. Fruits and veggies are low in fat and generally lower in calories than meat and junk food.

When you feel a craving coming on between meals, wait 10 minutes. Most cravings last only a few minutes and then fade.

Replace your craving with an activity to occupy your mind. We of course recommend a hike but take the dog for a walk, dig in the garden or just get out of the house and run some errands.

Just don’t buy that stuff! Don’t bring junk food or other sugary foods into your home. If you don’t have quick access to it, it’s likely you won’t eat it.

Read the label. Educate yourself about the food you’re consuming and what it contains. You’ll be surprised what you find!

Use alternative sweeteners. When cooking, baking or making coffee, replace refined sugar with natural sweeteners like agave syrup, maple syrup or honey.

The Good News Is…

Hiking The AlamoAs hikers it’s pretty obvious how important our knees are to us. Everything from proper hiking posture to using trekking poles to strength training, helps to keep knees healthy and ensures our ability to hike for many years to awe inspiring peaks and places.

It was affirming to read the article from the American Council of Sports Medicine, which provides strong evidence that physical activity is beneficial to knee joint health.

As it turns out, exercise affects each part of the knee differently, which helps explain why there have been conflicting reports for so long.

Happy knees like to move so keep getting those 10,000 steps in a day and do your strength training. Spring and hiking season are just around the corner!

There are only TWO BAD FOODS

Sodas (pop) and artificial sweeteners (Aspartame and Splenda, or Sucralose)

Whoa, did I, as a registered Dietitian just write that? The position statement of both the Dietitians of Canada and of the American Dietetic Association is that Aspartame and Splenda are safe, acceptable sweeteners useful for weight loss. But when we graph the pop/soda consumption in the USA and Canada from 1970 till now, the increases in consumption are a mirror reflection of the increases in body weight and obesity observed in North America’s population.

No other food, product, or habit shows as precise a correlation to our society’s weight gain as soda consumption

Interestingly, diet sodas are the populations’ leading source of aspartame, high fructose corn syrup and now Splenda, or Sucralose.   Regardless of whether diet or regular soft drinks are consumed, the result has been the same – predictable weight gain in the 400 million Americans and Canadians in direct relation to soda consumption.   In research, correlation does not mean cause, however, 400 million people over 40 years of empirical measurements showing this matched, direct relationship is very, very convincing.

Why is this?  It appears that the chemical salts that makeup sodas are the main culprit – they inhibit the ‘detox effect.’

Detox is the successful excretion of various heavy metals, chemicals and the like from fat cells. If we are unable to unload and excrete these things, we maintain a higher fat mass in our bodies.  Thus, soda and artificial sweetener consumption means you maintain more fat mass since you are prevented from excreting the things that help create and maintain the fat cell in the first place. So, regardless of whether or not the soda has calories, the mechanisms of fat storage from sodas are also the result of chemical interference in our fat storage system.

Our advice: avoid sodas of any kind as much as possible.

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 or reach out below:

The Royal Wave

With all the fanfare of recent days with the Queen of England’s visit to Canada, I watched with interest as she greeted the Canada Day crowds with her Queen’s wave; elbow, elbow, wrist, wrist….which made me giggle as “the wave” here at Mountain Trek  in beautiful British Columbia  has quite the different movement!

One of the key components of  core training is strengthening the pelvic floor. In Mountain Trek terms it’s the wave, in yoga (Sanskrit) Mula Bandha, and in the medical community they are known as Kegels.

What is the pelvic floor?  The pelvic floor has been described as a group of muscles that form a sling from the pubic bone to the coccyx bone.  The pelvic floor muscles support and surround part of the rectum, vagina, uterus, urethra, bladder and the prostrate.

Strengthening the pelvic floor has many benefits.  It can help prevent incontinence as well as stabilize the spine and improve balance and posture which ultimately improves athletic performance.

What can you do to strengthen the pelvic floor?  Do the WAVE; using your breath as the trigger, exhale with a “tuu” sound then contract the pelvic floor muscles by imagining you’re stopping the flow of urine.  Start at the posterior of the anatomy and work towards the anterior (rectal, vaginal. urerthral), hence the WAVE action.  Hold for 5 seconds, then relax for 5 seconds.  Repeat 5 times.  Eventually build up to 5 sets, holding the contraction for 10 seconds each time.   The beauty of this exercise is it can be done anywhere…brushing your teeth, doing the dishes, standing in queue, sitting at your computer……

Elbow, elbow, wrist, wrist….

Cathy, MT fitness director

Getting Good ZZZZZ’s

If you’re like me, you know when you’ve had a rough night of sleep. I’m usually not on my game, my energy is lower, my temper is shorter and people ask me “Are you tired?” The proof is on my face. Now imagine the impact of nights upon nights of poor or interrupted sleep? Vampires were right when they say that sleep is good for the blood, it’s also prevents heart disease, mental decline and overeating.

There are four stages of sleep, the deepest called REM. This is the deepest stage of sleep and important to experience in order to feel rested when you wake up. Deep sleep is also needed in order for the body to release the human growth hormone (HGH) known as one of the  anti-aging hormones. Benefits of this hormone include increasing lean muscle mass, a balanced weight, and feeling good. No deep sleep, no growth hormone output. Exercise also helps with HGH release, as taught at Mountain Trek.

Tips to help with a good night’s sleep? Turn down the lights a few hours before retiring (this includes no TV watching) as it can be too stimulating. Late night eating can create digestive disturbances, and need we mention caffienated beverages should be avoided?

The Power of the Mind


The mind has tremendous power over our physical well-being. We can certainly support good health by eating a natural foods diet with a limited amount of processed or refined foods and get regular physical movement, but how we perceive ourselves and the world around us makes a difference.

In several interviews with centenarians, most exhibit one striking similarity: they are all happy, bright, and exuberant. It is their positive outlook on life that contributes to their longevity and well-being. What contributes to an overall sense of well-being? Play and laughter. Play is any activity you engage in for the reward of simply doing it. It’s important to do something you enjoy not just on weekends but every day. Remember a tip from Kirk’s self-care talks – do something you’ve wanted to do or used to enjoy without any attachment to end results. And of course, no one needs to tell us the importance of a good belly laugh. Rent a comedy, read a funny book, tell funny stories of your past to your kids, just remember to laugh.

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 or reach out below: