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

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Why Sitting Is Bad For You & 5 Ways To Fix It

Most of us commute to work sitting in our vehicle, sit all day at our office job and then sit on the couch when we get home. In fact, most of the Western World spends the majority of their life sitting.

Why is sitting bad for you?

As the video above explains, our bodies are designed for movement. The problem with sitting is that it leads to a sedentary lifestyle. Chronic sedentarism has been proven to be the cause of many serious ailments and diseases.

Spending too many hours in relatively the same position not only takes a toll on our posture and musculature, but it also limits circulation. We all have one big organ that pumps fresh blood — our heart. But there is no organ to return this blood back to our filtering organs; the kidneys, liver, and pancreas. Our bodies rely on movement, bending, flexing, and twisting to create a mechanical pump to move this blood back through those organs. Without movement, we have no return pump. Without the return of blood, we become stagnant, and this stagnation leads to inflammation. According to the Cleveland Clinic, “chronic inflammation plays a role in almost every major disease, including cancer, heart disease, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, and even depression.”

We aren’t getting the habitual exercise and range of motion we need to keep us healthy, moving, and fit. Integrating cardio exercise into our regular schedules is imperative to our health. We do, however, still need to be realistic. Most jobs are desk jobs afeter all, and don’t necessarily provide the opportunity to exercise as part of our daily tasks and duties.

5 Ways How to Combat Sedentarism

Fortunately, sedentarism is being addressed as a workplace issue by forward-thinking employers. We are seeing an increasing number of workplaces making clear efforts in addressing employee health, by affording more opportunities to move while working.

Try a Treadmill Desk or Standing Desk

The treadmill desk is considered being ‘productive on two fronts’ according to Brown & Brown, an international insurance consulting firm, and a huge supporter of exercising while working. CEO of Priceline Group, Darren Huston, states that where possible, he will go for a ‘walking meeting’, inviting the discussion to take place in a park nearby. The late Apple Inc. founder Steve Jobs was reported to be a huge proponent of the walking meeting. Even Barack Obama is said to end his day by doing a couple of laps around the White House with his Chief of Staff.

Research at the University of Bristol and the University of Minnesota have concluded that as we move (especially when outside in nature), we stimulate parts of our brain that are active during creative pursuits and relaxation. As per the studies above, worker productivity was said to increase substantially when workers took a walking break in their workday. This shows that parking in a chair isn’t always our best way to a productive day. Nevertheless, so much of our working lives are spent in front of the screen, hunched over the keyboard. But we don’t have to take this sedentarism sitting down!

Exercise During the Workday

Beyond integrating regular exercise into your routine before and after work, we certainly can make our sedentary workday more comfortable with movement. Learn some simple stretches, movements, and tips to integrate into your workday with our 5 Full-Body Exercises for the Office.

Stretching-in-an-office

Stretch

As we bend over the keyboard, our shoulders hunch forward, thereby creating a lactic acid build up and soreness through the upper back, neck and shoulders. Another side affect from this position that we may not realize is that our upper chest muscles constrict. Oftentimes for those who do a lot of computer work, these muscles are permanently taught. Opening up through the chest is a liberating release from the keyboard hunch. Find a doorway, and place hands and forearms along the doorframe, then allow yourself to lean forward. Try to release into the pose completely, holding it for several minutes. Feel free to experiment with the pose by moving your arms higher or lower in the doorway.

Sitting-on-a-ball-in-an-office

Use a Ball

Instead of your regular office chair, switch it up by using an exercise ball to sit on. By using a ball, you are engaging core muscles all day, without even realizing it. Core strength is so important for so many aspects of overall strength and injury prevention. As an experiment, try using a ball instead of an office chair for a couple weeks and see if you don’t find yourself standing a little taller. Be sure to find a ball that allows you to sit at the correct height for your desk.

Take-a-break

Take a break

As per the research by the Universities of Bristol and of Minnesota, you will be more productive after a walk – even a quick one. And as we can all attest, it feels really good to not be looking at a computer screen for a few minutes. If you’re having difficulty integrating a little break in your day, set an alarm or enrol an office friend to come for that break with you. After all, it will lead to better health and increased productivity! And if 20 minutes is too ambitious, go for 10, or 5 – a little break is better than no break at all.

So stand up for your health. Fight chronic inflammation and future illness by integrating small but effective movements into your everyday sitting at work. You will be doing yourself a huge favor and may immediately notice feeling less inflamed, stiff and even less tired at the end of the day. Here’s to a less time sitting, and to a more healthy you!


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:

Engaging Your Core For Fitness

Engaging your Core

As the name suggests, our core is integral to every movement we make. It’s a complex series of muscles that extend well beyond your abs and include everything except for your arms and legs.

In this article, and in the video below, Mountain Trek’s fitness director Cathy Grierson talks about how to engage your core for whatever it is you’re doing, whether you’re walking, working out at the gym, or even just sitting at your office desk.

Related Article: How to Engage and Strengthen Your Core 

However, before we begin, let’s look at what exactly the core muscles are. Most of us believe they’re the six-pack abs you’ll find on male underwear models but that’s the case at all. Your core extends far beyond your abdomen and includes two types of muscles: stabilizers and movers. This muscle group is incredibly important as our stabilizer and mover core muscles play a role in almost every movement we make! Many of the muscles that make up our core are hidden beneath the exterior musculature of our bodies. Some of our core muscles include the multifidus, transverse abdominals, diaphragm, and pelvic floor.

In this video, Cathy explains how to engage your core, our stabilizer muscles no matter what activity you’re involved in by using a sequence called “The Wave.”

Whether you’re an athlete or someone who’s interested in getting back in shape and engaging those core muscles again, we recommend you book Mountain Trek and enjoy Cathy’s fitness direction in person as well as all the amenities our all-inclusive resort offers: complimentary massages, delicious boutique spa cuisine, natural hot springs, infrared sauna, outdoor hot tub and cold plunge pool, plus a luxurious lodge in a natural setting far away from urban stressors.


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:

Dr. Josh on How To Eat Smarter & Lose Weight

how-to-eat-smarter-1

Mountain Trek recently started offering Lifestyle Performance Coaching via clinical physcologist Dr. Joshua Klapow, who's also an alumni of the program. It seems the good doctor is also adept at explaining matters of nutrition as well given an article that has appeared on beachbody.com. In it, Dr. Josh is asked to explain how to eat smarter through "mindful eating" (also known as "intuitive eating") and how it can influence your body shape.

In the article called "9 Mindfulness Tips For Losing Weight," Dr. Josh compares mindful eating to mindful existence: “It’s not unlike taking a minute to look at a flower or experience being in nature,” he says. “We can either rush through it with a passing appreciation, or we can spend several minutes and take the entire environment into our senses. Mindful eating is the exact same thing.” He goes on to explain that "By itself, mindful eating is not a weight-loss cure, but as part of an approach or tool it can catapult healthy eating and weight loss.

By being conscientious when you consume foods, you limit distractions, choose healthier options and become more in tune with your body. Here are the nine mindfulness tricks to help you eat smarter, be conscious of what you eat and, ultimately, make better decisions that will help you lose weight. 

  1. Pause before you eat to ask yourself why you're eating
  2. Chew each bite thoroughly and savour it
  3. Drink water before meals
  4. Eat vibrant, flavourful foods
  5. Eat without distractions
  6. Wait before getting seconds
  7. When you feel the urge to snack, make a cup of tea first
  8. Take note of your cravings
  9. Eat with joy, not judgement

All of these tips will help you take more pleasure in your food and to read more about Dr. Josh's take on "mindful eating," log on to beachbody.com.

For an even more well-rounded culinary experience, book a stay at Mountain Trek Fitness Retreat and Health Spa to enjoy the delicious spa cuisine prepared by our master chef Bonnie VanTassel. She's renowned for creating healthy, farm-fresh food that you can't help but savour. Book your stay at Mountain Trek now.

Bedtime Yoga

Bedtime Yoga

One of the reasons we have difficulty sleeping at night is because we are over stimulated. Our brains are wired to process all incoming information from our five senses to predict the appropriate state for our body’s systems. "Should I be ready? Or should I rest?" These two autonomic nervous system states are called the sympathetic (fight or flight) and the parasympathetic (rest and digest).

Staring at screens and/or hearing loud noises automatically puts us into a state of readiness. This is why it's so important to shut off our digital devices at least 30 minutes before bed and to follow the other "insomnia busters" we've detailed in previous posts. Another way to calm your mind and prepare your body for sleep is to use such tools as relaxation breathing or restorative yoga to promote our parasympathetic system, the state we need to obtain in order to sleep deeply.

For this instructive video, we enlisted the help of Mountain Trek's yoga teacher and fitness instructor Katya Hayes, who's been teaching yoga for 15 years. When not at Mountain Trek, Katya practices at her own studio and she studies yoga, Buddhism, Iyengar, Ashtanga and Vinyasa.

 

Here are the four poses Katya recommends to do in order to prepare your body and mind for a perfect night's sleep.

Legs up the wall

Legs up the wall pose

Begin by sitting on the floor or the bed with one hip against the wall. Swing both of your legs up the wall as you lay down on your back; your body should form a 90-degree angle with the wall. For increased benefits, slide a firm pillow or yoga bolster beneath your hips. Relax and belly breathe for several minutes.

Supported forward twist

Supported Forward Twist

Sit on the floor and have a firm pillow or bolster nearby. Bend both knees and swing your feet to the left side of your body. Place the bolster to the outside of your right hip extending away from you. Lengthen your spine and twist to the right. Lay your torso along the bolster, resting on one cheek. Breath into the sides of your body for 10 deep breaths. Repeat rotating the opposite way.

Supported child's pose

Supported Child's Pose

Get onto all fours. Sit back on your heels, separating your knees so that they're about shoulder width apart. Place a firm pillow or bolster between your legs extending away from you. Fold forward from the hips, lengthening the belly along the bolster. Rest deeply as you breath into the back of your bbody for one minute.

Reclined butterfly pose

Supported-Forward-Twist

Sit on the ground or the bed with several firm pillows or a bolster propped up behind you. Bring the soles of your feet together, allowing the knees to fall outwards. Support the knees if you like with pillows. Lay back on the pillows so that you are at a 45-degree angle. Place a folded towel beneath your neck for support. Place an eye bag over your eyes if you'd like and belly breath for several minutes.

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Easy Ways to Digital Detox

Easy Tips for Digital Detox

"Digital detox" is a buzz phrase we're hearing more of lately but what exactly is it and why should we do it? After all, isn't technology meant to improve our lives, helping us keep more connected and freeing up time so we can concentrate on other things?

It's true technology has vastly improved certain aspects or our day-to-day but our relationship to digital devices is changing at a rapid pace and it's important to notice the specific impacts on your life. And to do this, we need to take a step back and discuss toxins, detoxifying and the role of digital media and devices in all of this.

What is Toxic Load? 

A toxin isn't just a form of poison that enters your body. Toxic load can also be mental or emotional. It is the result of stagnation through repetition. When there is a build-up of patterns that block energy, we become inflamed and constricted – we lose the natural flow state of expansion and contraction. This could be the increasing pattern of attention span interruption or multi-tasking at work, due to the constant repetitive information signals to our brain from our digital devices. It could be the build up of bio-waste and chemical compounds in our body due to the repetitive sitting we do, which limits circulation and elimination. Even our social world can become stagnant if we are not going deeper than social media for our heartfelt interactions.

Why is Detoxifying Important?

Detoxifying is the process of supporting a flow state in our whole being. When we take a break from ongoing patterns and habits, we recalibrate and become "lighter of being." Our mind, body and emotional states are interconnected. By taking a break from incessant incoming info bites, not only does our mind get a break from vigilance, but our stress hormone Cortisol gets a chance to lower, which in turn supports sleep, appetite and energy levels. When we move our body (ideally 10,000 steps a day), our circulation, lymph drainage and elimination organs (liver, kidney's, intestines, lungs and sweat glands) release waste and unhealthy chemicals. And on an emotional level, having an intimate conversation with someone we trust allows the weight of our concerns to be released.

What's the Best Way to Digital Detox?

Digital detox goes beyond just spending less time in front of your iPad, phone or computer. There are other aspects that can be incorporated to ensure a full detox experience. Here are three easy ways to do it: 

  1. Electronic Devices: Shut all electronics down one hour before bed. This will allow your Cortisol to drop and will support better sleep. Take that hour to do some restorative yoga, have an Epsom salt bath, or give and receive a massage, all of which aid in toxin release and deep regenerative sleep.
  2. Move More: It's not enough to be away from your devices for awhile and then just sit there waiting for the chance to check them again. Get up! Dance, walk, skate, swim. Keep the blood pumping, Breath deep. All of this will help your elimination system, decrease inflammation and increase a flow state.
  3. Eat Veggies: It may seem odd to mention food when discussing digital detox but the fact is by eating more vegetables, which contain more fiber and antioxidants, you're helping your elimination system and supporting a lean and clean body. In other words, the more veggies you eat, the more you'll want to move around, meet friends in person, get outside, and generally enjoy a fuller life.

Of course, the best way to digital detox is to take a break from your day-to-day life and immerse yourself in nature. Click here to learn more about how Mountain Trek supports digital detox through its program. 

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10 Tricks to Stick To Your New Year’s Resolutions

closeup of a person writing on a table

Halfway through January is when most people start falling off the wagon and foregoing all the resolutions they made on New Year’s Eve. But with these 10 easy-to-follow guidelines, you can have a better chance of sticking with your resolutions and watching them become healthy habits you’ll enjoy for a lifetime.

1. Be Specific

Don’t be vague. If you resolve to lose weight, write down your fitness goals. How many pounds do you want to lose? What number of steps will you take in a day? How much more flexible do you want to be? Exactly what do you wish to achieve out of your yoga practice?

2. Be Positive

Not just optimistic. It’s easier to eliminate a bad habit when you replace it with a better one. So, if your resolution involves “no more chocolate bars at work,” make “pack a healthy snack to take to work every day” part of the resolution.

3. Write Down Your Goals

There’s an air of permanence when you write something done. Plus you can review them whenever you want to help stay on track.

4. Hold Yourself Accountable

Tell your friends about your resolution, join or form a like-minded group, score yourself on a chart– whatever works for you to make yourself feel accountable for success and failure.

5. Don’t Be Afraid To Ask For Help

This can be tough for many of us, but when we do ask for help, help comes. Our tasks become easier. What a relief!

6. Allow Yourself a Trial Run and be Flexible

Not every resolution is perfect right out of the gate. Give yourself a two-week or one month trial run to work out the kinks. This allows you to stumble a bit and tweak your goals to something better suited for success.

7. Visualize The End Result

Focus on the carrot, not the stick. If you’re having trouble staying motivated, focus on what you’ll get from your end goal—whether that’s feeling better at a lower weight, being able to impress your friends with your new drumming skills, or just being able to take a deep breath now that you’ve quit smoking. Staying positive seems like common sense, but it can be hard when you’re in the middle of a big plateau.

8. Choose Goals That Are In Line With What YOU Want

Your resolutions should be deeply valuable to you, first and foremost. When we set resolutions that are driven by our desire to please others, we are doomed to fail.

Bad resolution: “My wife thinks I’m lazy, so I resolve to wake up earlier and exercise before work.” Good resolution: “I’ll wake up earlier and exercise before work because it makes me feel great throughout the day.”

9. Learn Something New

Step out of your comfort zone. If your goal is to exercise three or four times a week, take a risk and enroll in a fitness class you’ve never taken before. Or if you want to improve your marriage or partnership, consult with a relationship therapist or life coach.

10. Book A Life-Coaching Session

Whether a professional athlete, career professional, or a professional mom, we all need coaching to be our best. While at our retreat in British Columbia, our caring staff and remote location make it easy to immerse into a genuine health transformation. However, back home, without accountability, it’s easy to fall out of a healthy routine.

Mountain Trek is now offering Balanced Health coaching with our program director, Kirk. If you are struggling to maintain your health back home or feel like you need a partner to work through things and hold you accountable, sign up for a free 30-min consultation to see if Balanced Health coaching is right for you.


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:

Back pain? Read This Before Getting A Back Brace

woman holding her lower back pain

If you suffer from lower back pain, you may be considering using a back brace for your workout. It’s common to see braces being used in the gym; however, a back brace may be doing more harm than good. 

Nearly 80% of North Americans will experience back pain at some point in their lives. For many, the injury is triggered by a strenuous activity, like gardening or weight lifting. Others simply bend down to pick up a pencil and their back gives out.

Build Your Core Muscles

Although the pain may have started after gardening or a long workout, it’s likely the cause has been building for years. Most people have weak core stability which leads to poor posture. When going about day-to-day activities with poor posture, over time this puts incredible strain on the back. By simply leaning over incorrectly, pressure can increase on your back by 50%. 

Building strong core muscles helps maintain good posture, takes the pressure off nerves, and reduces back pain. 

At Mountain Trek, we are constantly encouraging guests to engage their core to protect their backs, maintain balance, and increase power. Learn how to strengthen your core muscles to stabilize your body and keep your back pain-free for life.

Should I Use a Back Brace for Workouts?

Unless your doctor or healthcare professional has prescribed a back brace for a back injury, we do not recommend using one for your workout. The brace hinders the muscles that should be providing stability, and over time they can weaken. Prescribed back braces are typically meant to be used sparingly during healing so your body doesn’t become dependant. If you are thinking about using a brace, seek advice from a professional to help build a plan for your long-term health. 


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 Reduce Stress With Meditation

Mountain Trek’s program director Kirkland Shave says more often he’s meeting guests at the lodge who are struggling with stress. Whether it’s their work, family life, or personal troubles, he says that many people come to the lodge to escape their daily stresses, immerse themselves in nature, get a good night’s sleep, and, ultimately relax. However, when their stay at the lodge nears its end, their stress levels begin amping up again as they consider returning to their regular day-to-day.

As part of the educational component of the program, Kirkland spends time sharing various tips for how to reduce stress. For example, in this video below, he discusses the causes of stressors and what you can do to alleviate them and relax, and, ultimately enjoy a more fulfilling life free of chronic worry.

Kirkland also recommends meditation as a great form of relaxation. It used to be that meditation was viewed as something only “old hippies” did. But now its benefits are being touted by the likes of Oprah, Hugh Jackman, and Arianna Huffington.

Related Article: The Rise of Forest Bathing

There is so much new research available since brain imaging equipment came into existence 20 years ago that its benefits are proving it can reduce stress, lower blood pressure, and slow Alzheimer’s. Also, in a recent study by John Hopkins University, it was proven that mindfulness meditation can be just as effective as antidepressants for treating anxiety symptoms. It also boosts our feel-good hormones (serotonin, dopamine), lowers our stress hormone (cortisol), lowers our blood pressure, alleviates pain and inflammation and it invokes our parasympathetic nervous system to help balance our digestive and elimination systems.

If you’re considering trying meditation for the first time, my recommendation would be to start simple.

Steps to Begin Your Meditation Practice:

  • Find a quiet space and remove all devices such as your smartphone
  • Sit comfortably with a straight spine
  • Breathe slowly and fully while concentrating on a candle flame, or the sound of ocean waves, or the sensations of your breath as it passes through your nostrils
  • Notice how your concentration gets interrupted by your thoughts. Don’t worry though as this is the normal function of our mind to generate thoughts.
  • Gently (and without judgment of the content) come back to concentrating on your focus of attention.
  • Practice increases the power of concentration so start with just 5 minutes a day and then build from there.

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:

Why You Need To Stop Calorie Counting Right Now

Calorie Counting

Recently Mountain Trek's nutrition expert Jennifer Keirstead was asked whether calorie counting is beneficial for those who are looking to lose weight and improve their fitness. Below is her response but before we jump into it, let's first define the subject at hand. 

What Is Calorie Counting?

Calorie counting is the act of adding together the caloric value of food(s) that one eats. The history of this practice dates back to 1900 when Wilbur Olin Atwater and his associates at the Connecticut Agriculture Experiment Station determined the caloric values of a number of food components (i.e., the protein, fat, and carbohydrate isolated from various foods) by multiplying the heat of combustion of the food with correction factors that take into consideration incomplete digestion or oxidation of the food in the body. The conversion factors determined by Atwater and his associates remain in use today.

Why The Calorie Calculation Formula Is Skewed

Despite the fact Atwater built in various correction factors for caloric values, they do not account for:

  • variation of individual absorption
  • the influences of an individual's intestinal bacteria and that's affect on absorption (these change depending on history of travel, antibiotics and present diet)
  • variation in nutrient density of today’s foods compared to foods from those used in the Atwater research of 1900, which were less processed, more organic and more local
  • and they exclude many nutrients that were unknown in 1900 (the number of known nutrients to science in 1900 was fewer than 16 whereas now it's exponentially higher than that. 

Moreover, both meal timings and meal composition also have an impact on how calories are absorbed by the body.

Why A Calorie Isn't Just A Calorie

Now that we've looked at the history of calorie counting and why it can be considered inaccurate, here is Jennifer's further response to why calorie counting isn't worth it:

"Not all calories are created equal. Take the example of an ice cream cone versus an avocado: both are calorie-rich foods but the calories in the ice cream cone are considered "empty" because they don't offer the body any nutritional value. They simply spike our blood sugar and leave us feeling lower in energy after we eat them. However, the calories from real foods, like the avocado, offer the body nutrient-dense calories that are full of vitamins, minerals, and fiber.

Your body gains energy, antioxidants, and digestive support from the calories in real foods. But it's important to remember you can still overeat the good calories too. It's great to be mindful of how much we're eating, regardless of where the calories are coming from!"

It can be argued that Mountain Trek stresses specific (and different) caloric intake for women and men but this is a rough guideline and it's important to remember the entire nutrition tenant of the program includes many proven elements such as only eating real foods, abstaining from cortisol-raising foods such as sugar and caffeine and stressing the importance of meal timings and composition.

To fully appreciate the Mountain Trek nutrition program we suggest you book a stay with us. Contact us by phone or email to learn more. Alternatively, book online now.