Diet in terms of the food combinations we eat is a focus at Mountain Trek. Dieting as a short term solution to health and wellness is not something Mountain Trek promotes.

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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.

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 Michelle or Mia by phone or email to learn more. Alternatively, book online now.

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Insomnia Busters – How To Sleep Better

Insomnia busters for better sleep

There are few things that feel better than getting a good night’s sleep. And few things worse than lying in bed with insomnia. At the Mountain Trek Health & Fitness retreat we spend time talking about the importance of sleep for every aspect of our lives – how it affects our belly fat to how it impacts our metabolism. In the copy and videos below, program director Kirkland Shave offers a small sampling of our “Insomnia Busters” lecture, which gives you tips for sleeping better.

As we get older, getting deep, restful sleeps begins to take priority over a night out of socializing and there’s a good reason for this. Not the passive state many people once considered it to be, sleep is now known to be a highly active process during which the day’s events are processed and energy is restored.

Sleep is an integral factor in living a well-balanced, healthy life full of vitality. Most studies show that the average human needs between 7 and 9 hours. And science is increasingly showing us that sleep deprivation and poor sleeping habits affect both our body’s AND our brain’s ability to function properly. You want to function at peak capacity? You want your memory to serve you? You want to lose belly fat? You want your sex life to be full of vitality? Then sleep better! Here are three videos that describe exactly how to sleep better.

How to Sleep Better Around Electronics

In this video Kirkland discusses electronics and their impact on us, especially right before bedtime. It’s only been in the past 30 years we’ve been using personal computers, cellphones and other devices with displays that feature the white-blue colour spectrum. This light is similar to the daytime sky and by staring at them, our cortisol remains high. When the sun sets the colour spectrum changes to red/orange and our melatonin is prepared for release but by staring at our devices, our brains and our bodies are not ready for sleep.

How To Sleep Better Through Diet

Our diet is also related to Insomnia Busters. So often we see advertisements claiming that how to lose belly fat is simple because you can lose weight while you sleep. If that were truly the case, then we’d all just be sleeping and shedding off pounds. But we’re not. If we want to counteract weight gain and lose belly fat, then we want to examine what our diets are right before bed. If we are eating late at night, we’re keeping our bodies in the process of digestion and not letting our stomach, liver, pancreas and all the other digestive organs rest, which they need at the beginning of the night. So try to cut back on your food intake and try not to snack in the evenings because unless you’re going to be active, you’re just going to store that food anyway. And that is definitely not how to lose belly fat.

Another thing that affects our sleep is alcohol. As much as it’s delicious with a meal, it can impact our bodies negatively if consumed on its own and before bed. Firstly, alcohol is a muscle relaxant so it causes many people to snore. Secondly, the liver converts alcohol into acetate, which is a form of vinegar, and that process will disrupt our sleep about 2-3 hours in. Also, many people may not know this but all alcohol has calories (even the hard stuff) so, the more you consume, the more belly fat you have, unless you’re working out right before bed to counteract the weight gain.

Finally, let’s talk about caffeine. For about a third of the population, caffeine is a cortisol stimulant. (Cortisol is the hormone that awakens us.) We don’t want to increase cortisol in the evening because it will override the sleep beckoning hormone melatonin.

The last section of this “Insomnia Buster” mini-lecture discusses stress. To help with insomnia we have to do something about managing stress. Relentless stress day after day causes our hormone Cortisol to stay elevated and Cortisol will always override our sleep hormone – Melatonin. Some of our stress is a result of organizational thinking. Trying to remember what’s on your plate the next day – picking up the kids, getting to the board meeting on time, dinner party with the in-laws. All that’s orbiting around in your brain before bed and you’re not going to allow the unconscious part of your brain to drop until you deal with it. So get out your day timer or your phone and plug those things into your calendar and then your unconscious brain can let go of all those things orbiting around.

The other form of stressful thought is concern about our own self or others – it’s more of an emotional form of thinking. These too need to be released from the unconscious part of the brain through typing or writing in a journal. It may sound silly but the act allows our unconscious brain to let go of its vigilance and then cortisol will drop. You can empty your mind and allow Melatonin to seduce you into sleep.

For more about Insomnia Busters, read our “7 Tips to Help You Sleep Better” article. And to book a stay at Mountain Trek and enjoy deep, restful sleeps at our luxurious lodge, call 1-800-661-5161.

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Will Bacon Kill You? Facts vs Fiction

Will bacon kill you?

Last week the World Health Organization released a report that classified bacon and other processed meats as “carcinogenic to humans…based on sufficient evidence in humans that consumption causes colorectal cancer.”

The media reacted instantly with articles that read, “Bacon: as bad as cigarettes” and “Hot dogs can kill.” Of course, a lot of the coverage was sensationalized and a few key facts were missed so we looked into the controversy a bit deeper and asked Mountain Trek Nutritionist Jenn Kierstead to give us her thoughts about it all and whether processed meats are indeed detrimental to our overall health and wellbeing.

What the W.H.O. Report Actually Said

To see the World Health Organization’s press release about the report regarding processed meat and red meat, click on this link: WHO-press-release. However, here are a few key items pulled from the document.

  • At this juncture the agency’s discussion of red meat is premature and inconclusive because it admits it’s based on “limited evidence” and the fact that “red meat has nutritional value.”
  • However, after reviewing the scientific literature of 22 experts from 10 countries the organization says it has “sufficient evidence” to classify processed meats as carcinogenic.
  • According to the experts, eating 50 grams of processed meat per day increases your risk of colorectal cancer by 18%
  • Examples of processed meat include hot dogs (frankfurters), bacon, ham, sausages, corned beef, and biltong or beef jerky as well as canned meat and meat-based preparations and sauces.

Not All Bacon Is the Same

Jennifer Keirstead, Nutritionist at Mountain TrekWhat’s interesting about the report is it doesn’t qualify what exactly “processed meats” are. To be clear, there are definitely examples of bacon, ham and sausages out there that do not fall into this category. Our nutritionist Jenn says eating bacon from a locally raised, pastured pig is a far-cry from the shrink-wrapped rasher at your nearby super-store. However, it’s safe to say that, in this case, the W.H.O. is referring to mass-produced meats.

“The key word in all of this is ‘processed,'” Jenn says. “Anything that goes through processing means it’s been tampered with; it’s altered and eventually becomes a non-food. In the case of processed meats, they go through a curing process that requires a lot of nitrites and other preservatives so that they can last and last on grocery store shelves.”

What Would Mountain Trek Do?

“It looks like processed meat is the next hot topic surrounding food,” Jenn says. “Every so often news agencies and the general public will jump on the latest superfood or fad diet and that dominates the discussion.”

“At Mountain Trek we tend to ignore the hype,” she continues. “We’ve always stuck with the same program around nutrition and its proven to work: eat local, healthy meals as often as you can and, occasionally if you have some bacon or a hot dog, it’s not going to be the end of the world.”

In other words, don’t eat bacon every breakfast or foot-longs every lunch. But indulging during a Sunday brunch or at the ballpark is OK.

Remember, though, the more colour on your plate the better. (And no, that doesn’t include ketchup and mustard). To learn more about the importance of meal timings and composition, check out our “Health Eating Tips” blog.

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Simple Strategies For Relieving Stress in the Kitchen

Simple Strategies For Relieving Stress in the Kitchen

If your kitchen has become a centre for stress, these 4 tips can help simplify your cooking style so you have more time to relax and enjoy healthy and delicious meals. (And if the thought of cooking a turkey dinner this Thanksgiving holiday is just too stressful, then why not join us at Rancho la Puerta in Baja, Mexico and have someone else do the cooking for you?!)

Remember, cooking should be a way to relieve stress rather than cause it. The act of preparing a meal can divert the mind from the day’s activities and bring into focus the food you are creating. And the smell and taste sensations that come from preparing a delicious dish are immensely satisfying.

Kitchen Tips: Plan Ahead

Tip 1. Draw It Up

In order to be prepared for the coming week, take a few minutes to plan your meals. Check your schedule (as well as your family’s) for any meal conflicts that might arise (such as evening sports games or late nights at work) and then work around it. By organizing in advance, it alleviates the stress of coming home and trying to figure out what’s for dinner.

Kitchen Tip: Write it down

Tip 2. Write It Down

Many people don’t realize this but you don’t need to spend a lot of time in your average super market because: a) you just have to stick to the outer aisles to get everything you need and b) when you write down a detailed shopping list, it prevents you from wandering into the middle aisles where you’ll find all the processed, unhealthy food. When you write down your list, group items by what aisle they’re in and you’ll save a lot of time, energy and stress.

Kitchen Tip: Prep your food ahead of time

Tip 3. Divvy It Up

If you’ve ever watched a cooking show on TV, you’ll notice that the professional chefs always divvy up their ingredients into separate bowls before beginning the preparation. This extra step ensures you’re not having to look for something at the last second while things are boiling over. It helps you stay in line and on time and definitely takes the stress out of mixing ingredients together.

Kitchen tip: Work Ahead

Tip 4. Work Ahead

Consider cooking extra food or even two meals at once, and reheating on a busier day. Some Mountain Trek favourites include Smoked Salmon and Halibut Chowder, Super Vitalizing Quinoa Salad and Greek Feta & Turkey Stew. Even fresh vegetables can be prepared ahead of time – simply blanch them (ie: parboil in water or steam) in order to remove at the start of the week and store them for use later when you can quickly rewarm or sautée them.

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What Happens To Your Body One Hour After Drinking A Coke?

Did you know over 1.8 billion (billion!) bottles of Coke are consumed around the world every day? No doubt you’ve had one recently and enjoyed the pleasurable effects of the short-term sugar rush. But did you know that one can of Coke (or Pepsi or any other cola product) has so much sugar in it, the only thing preventing your body from immediately rejecting it by vomiting is the phosphoric acid that’s also evident in it. (Incidentally, phosphoric acid is so acidic, it will dissolve a nail in about four days.)

With concerns of heart disease and diabetes on the rise, people are starting to rethink the types of liquids they consume. And then there are people like Niraj Naik, a pharmacist and UK blogger with the handle The Renegade Pharmacist, who’s recent studies have caused us all to be highly concerned about the negative effects of drinking cola. Naik recently created this infographic detailing the physical effects a Coke has on the body within the first hour of consumption. To say the findings are disturbing is an understatement. Thankfully, there’s always water! In our blog about Soda Versus Water, we talk about all the benefits H20 has on your body and your overall wellness. Cheers!

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First 10 Minutes

10 teaspoons of sugar hit your system. (Which is 100% of your recommended daily intake.) You don’t immediately vomit from the overwhelming sweetness because phosphoric acid cuts the flavour allowing you to keep it down.

20 Minutes

Your blood sugar spikes, causing an insulin burst. Your liver responds to this by turning any sugar it can get its hands on into fat. (There’s plenty of that at this particular moment.)

40 Minutes

Caffeine absorption is complete. Your pupils dilate, your blood pressure rises, and, as a response your liver dumps more sugar into your bloodstream. The adenosine receptors in your brain are now blocked, thus preventing drowsiness.

45 Minutes

Your body ups your dopamine production stimulating the pleasure centers of your brain. This is physically the same way heroin works, by the way.

60 Minutes

The phosphoric acid binds calcium, magnesium and zinc in your lower intestine, providing a further boost in metabolism. This is compounded by high doses of sugar, which increases the urinary excretion of calcium.

After 60 Minutes

The caffeine’s diuretic properties come into play. (It makes you have to pee.) It is now assured that you’ll evacuate the bonded calcium, magnesium and zinc that was headed to your bones as well as sodium, electrolyes and water.

As the rave inside of you dies down you’ll start to have a sugar crash. You may becaome irritable and/or sluggish. You’ve also now, literally, peed away all the water that was in the Coke. But not before infusing it with valuable nutrients your body could have used for things like having the ability to hydrate your system or build strong bones and teeth.

But What About Diet Coke?

And in case you’re thinking Diet Coke is healthier for you, have a look at this other infographic below, also done by UK blogger Niraj Naik. Not only do you suffer the same affects as drinking a Coke, you also have the added negative impact of Aspartame — an artificial sweetener that’s essentially a poison for your entire digestive system.

diet-coke-consumption-mountain-trek

 

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How to Take Better Care of Your Skin. Start Now!

Skin-Care-2

Our skin is our suit of armour against all the elements of the world and so it’s important to take care of it. It’s also the artistic canvas we present to those around us and so we tend to have a lot of guests at Mountain Trek asking how to improve theirs so they appear younger and healthier. Of course, the longer answer to this question is to be healthier and act younger by exercising, eating nutritious food and taking care of yourself. However, there are other things you can do for your skin specifically that will help. This doesn’t mean slathering on lots of store-bought lotion, however, as many of those products contain hormones that affect our inner functions. Here are six easy, no-nonsense tips that will help your skin retain its youthfulness.

1. Protect yourself from the sun

It goes without saying that one of the most important ways to take care of your skin is to protect it from the sun. Not only will this prevent wrinkles from forming, it will also slow down the formation of age spots and other more serious problems such as skin cancer. For the most complete sun protection:

  • Seek shade. Avoid the sun between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., when the sun’s rays are strongest.
  • Wear protective clothing. Cover your skin with tightly woven long-sleeved shirts, long pants and wide-brimmed hats. Also consider wearing special sun-protective clothing, which is specifically designed to block ultraviolet rays.
  • Use sunscreen. Use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15. Apply sunscreen generously, and reapply every two hours — or more often if you’re swimming or perspiring.

womens skin care

2. Don’t smoke

Aside from all the other negative affects of smoking, it also makes your skin look older and contributes to wrinkles. It narrows the tiny blood vessels in the outermost layers of skin, which decreases blood flow. This depletes the skin of oxygen and nutrients that are important to skin health. Smoking also damages collagen and elastin — the fibers that give your skin strength and elasticity. In addition, the repetitive facial expressions you make when smoking — such as pursing your lips when inhaling and squinting your eyes to keep out smoke — can contribute to wrinkles. If you smoke, the best way to protect your skin is to quit: ask your doctor for tips or treatments to help you stop smoking.

3. Treat your skin gently

Daily cleansing and shaving can take a toll on your skin. To keep it gentle:

  • Limit bath time – Hot water and long showers or baths remove oils from your skin. Limit your bath or shower time and use warm — rather than hot — water.
  • Avoid strong soaps – Strong soaps and detergents can strip oil from your skin. Instead, choose mild, natural cleansers.
  • Shave carefully – To protect and lubricate your skin, apply shaving cream, lotion or gel before shaving. For the closest shave, use a clean, sharp razor. Shave in the direction the hair grows, not against it.
  • Pat dry – After washing or bathing, gently pat or blot your skin dry with a towel so that some moisture remains on your skin.
  • Moisturize dry skin – If your skin is dry, use a moisturizer that fits your skin type but be wary of most of the brands on the shelves – they contain many additives and hormones that negatively impact your body. Sometimes the best moisturizer is natural food oils, such as coconut oil applied sparingly.

skin care

 

4. Eat a healthy diet

A healthy diet can help you look and feel your best. Eat plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean proteins. The association between diet and acne isn’t clear — but some research suggests that a diet rich in vitamin C and low in unhealthy fats and processed or refined carbohydrates might promote younger looking skin.

5. Manage stress

Uncontrolled stress can make your skin more sensitive and trigger acne breakouts and other skin problems. To encourage healthy skin — and a healthy state of mind — take steps to manage your stress. Set reasonable limits, scale back your to-do list and make time to do the things you enjoy. The results might be more dramatic than you expect.

6. Smear food on your face

This can be fun! A lot of people, especially women, like to use masks to help rejuvenate the skin on their face and bodies but as will commercial moisturizes, a lot contain hormones and other additives that can be harmful over time. Here are four fun ideas for giving yourself a fancy spa facial at home:

  • Vinegar has been used as a skin toner by the Greeks and Romans for centuries. After you wash your face, mix 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar with 2 cups water as a finishing rinse to cleanse and tighten your skin
  • Mash up a ripe banana into a smooth paste and use that as a face mask and apply to your face and neck. Let it set for 10-20 minutes then rinse off with cold water. It’ll leave your skin looking and feeling softer.
  • Create a facial that both exfoliates and moisturizes by mixing the juice from 1 lemon with 1/4 cup olive oil or sweet almond oil.
  • If you don’t have any aversion to dairy, then make a mask by mixing 1/4 cup powdered milk with enough water to form a thick paste. Throoughly coat your face wit hthe mixture, let dry then rinse with warm water.
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Five Weight Loss Must-Haves for Every Kitchen

No doubt you have a fair few gadgets in your kitchen but there are really only a handful that are needed in order to ensure you stick to a healthy weigh-loss regimen. Here they are:

#1. Kitchen Scale

If you really want to get serious about weight loss then it’s important you understand portion size. Purchase an inexpensive food scale and weigh your food before you eat it. You’ll be surprised by how much you underestimate the amount you eat.

yellow-retro-kitchen-scale#2. Smaller Plates

Of course you can hold onto your larger plates for when you’re entertaining guests but for your regular, daily meals you should have a stack of plates handy that are no more than 10 inches (25 cm) in diameter. That way you’ll ensure your portion sizes aren’t too large.

selection-of-plate-sizes-and-bowls

#3. Good Measuring Cups and Spoons

Like the kitchen food scale, these items are essential for maintaining portion sizes. You can be more free-form with the spices, but when it comes to fats, proteins and carbohydrates, it’s best to measure.

pink measuring cups and silver measuring spoons

#4. Water Jug

Having a beautiful looking jug on your counter top that’s always filled with room-temperature water will encourage you to drink more of it.

Three-glass-water-jugs

#5. Pedometer

OK, technically this isn’t a kitchen gadget but if it resides in your kitchen where you spend a lot of your time, then you’ll be more inclined to use it. Pedometers come in all shapes and sizes and most are inexpensive. Keep one around your kettle or breakfast food area so that when you wake up in the morning it’s there to remind you to get in your 10,000 steps per day.

pedometer

Bonus: A Tablet

Like the pedometer, this one isn’t exactly a kitchen gadget either, but with a tablet (or laptop or smart phone) you’ll be able to access recipe sites and social media sites, such as Pinterest, that offer excellent, delicious and interesting dishes to try. And in the near future there will be a Mountain Trek app that you’ll be able to use as well. Stay tuned for more about that exciting development!

tablet-in-the-kitchen

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Cinnamon Granola Recipe

Recipe for Cinnamon Granola

This delicious, gluten-free Cinnamon Granola recipe is perfect for breakfast because it’s easy to make and can be stored for weeks. The ingredient list below is enough to make eight servings.

Ingredients:

2 ¼ cups rolled oats (certified gluten free)
¼ cup slivered almonds
¼ cup pumpkin seeds
½ cup sunflower seeds
2 tbsp grapeseed oil
2 tbsp maple syrup
¼ tsp almond extract
½ tbsp pure vanilla extract
1 tbsp cinnamon

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 325°F
  • Mix grains, nuts and seeds together on a large baking tray
  • Combine remaining ingredients together in a saucepan and heat briefly
  • Pour over nut/oat mixture and toss well to coat
  • Bake for 45 minutes until lightly toasted. Stir every 15 minutes to brown evenly
  • Cool before storing in airtight container
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