Improving your personal health may mean the need for weight loss. Get advice, program ideas and activities From Mountain Trek to make you a weight loss success story.

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How to Beat Food Addiction

Food Addiction

We’ve all been there: you get to the grocery store with only the best intentions, and somehow when you get to the checkout, you wonder how those chips and cheese dip made it into your basket. Or you go to the kitchen with a clear idea that you will be getting an apple and almond butter for your afternoon snack, and find yourself going for a few cookies instead. Food addiction is a very real phenomenon that affects almost everyone, whether we know it or not. But the good news is, like any addiction, we can overcome it and train ourselves to make healthier choices.

How does food addiction work?

If you’ve ever tried to kick a food habit, you know just how much of a challenge you’re facing. Sometimes it can feel demoralizing. Perhaps thinking you’re weak-willed or glutinous. Although personal responsibility and empowerment do play a factor, the reality is that any addiction is biochemical. Your brain chemistry and hormones play the main role in your sugar, fat, and carb cravings.

As outlined in The Hunger Fix, research shows that when consuming these refined foods, our brain releases dopamine, the feel-good hormone. This results in a very similar biochemical effect in the brain to cocaine and heroin. No wonder these food cravings can be hard to resist.

Since we require food to survive, we cannot just quit eating food altogether to eliminate bad habits. This makes food addiction one of the most difficult addiction battles one can face. Yet, by managing our cravings in ways that line us up for success, we can manage addictive food behaviors. And eventually kicking cravings to the curb, for good.

How do we stop food addictions?

Detox

To break free from these addictive substances, we have to be rid of them by detoxing our bodies and brains. Yet, as mentioned above, this can be difficult since we do need to keep eating something. When we are treating a cocaine addict or an alcoholic, we don’t say ‘practice moderation’ and prescribe only one drink or line of cocaine per day. Literally resetting your metabolism is a sure way to eliminate these toxins and chemicals from our bodies. Ideally, through a well-designed program like at Mountain Trek, in an environment that will set you up for success.

Eliminate Temptation

Don’t buy those sugary goodies to have in the house. Do not let yourself drive by that fast food joint on the way home. If that means enlisting a supportive friend to go grocery shopping with to keep you focused on the list, or changing your drive route home, do it. Enlist the support of those you live with to please refrain from bringing these things into the house. Do not give yourself the opportunity to make the choice – eliminate it entirely.

Practice Mindfulness

It isn’t realistic to think that once we decide never to have processed sugar again, we won’t. There are birthday parties, coworkers who bring in baking, and the holidays. If we practice the Mountain Trek rule of thumb of 5 days on 2 days off in a week, this allows for the realistic flexibility of everyday life. If in those moments where we are offered a treat, we take a moment and ask “Is this what I really need right now?” 

By simply taking a moment to thoughtfully consider, rather than mindlessly opening that beer, will allow us to connect to our choices. Sometimes the answer will be yes, I really do need this piece of birthday cake, and sometimes the answer will be no, I am actually good to have a few pieces of fruit instead. And either answer is fine. The point is to be present when making food decisions so that we become accustomed to being aware of our choices.

Practice Compassion

Combatting a surge of chemicals and hormones is not an easy feat. En route to this new lifestyle change of cutting out food by quantity or quality, practice compassion towards yourself. It can be easy to go into a guilt-shame spiral if you step out of sync with your new-found regimen. But by showing yourself grace and an attitude of non-judgment, it will be easy to continue on the path of success.

The more we are aware of the biochemical forces at play, the more we can stop judging ourselves. We can start practicing mindfulness, eliminating temptation, and detoxing. Subsequently, leading us to better choices, and better 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:

Vegan Chocolate Mousse Recipe

As part of the Mountain Trek program we encourage our guests to explore their sensitivities to the “Sour 8,” which are eight types of foods that people commonly have negative reactions to, whether in the form of digestive discomfort or full allergies. The sour eight include wheat, dairy, corn, soy, sugar, eggs and alcohol and you can learn more about them here.

The good news for chocolate lovers and those who plan to enjoy edible treats this Valentine’s Day is the following Chocolate Mousse recipe does not include any of the Sour 8. The natural sweetness comes from the fruit and the base is coconut cream rather than dairy. The even better news about this recipe is that it’s delicious! Be sure to indulge on Valentine’s Day or any other day when you want to give yourself or someone you love a yummy treat.

Healthy Oils: Let’s chew the fat on fats

Healthy Oils

 

For so long, it seemed that we were getting the message that oils were bad for our diet – high in cholesterol, clogging our arteries – until the message, like so many oils, became refined: oils are a necessary part of a healthy diet. As we teach at Mountain Trek, our omega 3, 6 and 9s are an important part of every meal. These fatty acids help with brain function, stabilizing blood sugar levels, nervous system, immune system, and so many other aspects of health; not to mention glossy hair and glowing complexion! What really matters when considering oil is the kind and amount of healthy oils you’re consuming.

In understanding that the oils are an essential part of a nutritious diet and healthy self, we can attempt to integrate this into our meals in innovative and delicious ways. But the information and choices can sometimes be overwhelming; mono-saturated, extra virgin, nut oils, vegetable oils, high smoke point, refined, trans-fat-free… and many, many shelves lined with the options. Let’s turn up the heat and get cooking with the facts on fats!

The Facts on Fats

As the first point of clarification, both ‘oil’ and ‘fat’ have the same important role in the body; the difference is that oil is liquid at room temperature, while fat is solid. At a chemistry level, all fats are made up of triglycerides: a combination of saturated, monounsaturated, and polyunsaturated fatty acids, hence the triglycerides. This ratio of saturated to monounsaturated to polyunsaturated fatty acids is exactly what defines a particular fat. For example, olive oil is made up mostly of monounsaturated fatty acids, making it a monounsaturated fat. Please remember that although helpful to our health and very delicious, oils are calorie-rich so use moderation.

Monounsaturated fats

Monounsaturated fats are considered the healthiest of all oils, for example, they are good for the heart, as they lower bad cholesterol and maintain good cholesterol. This said, all three oils have their place in good health, and therefore in the kitchen. Perfect for use raw in dressings and drizzles or in light cooking, monounsaturated fats include olive, avocado, sesame, and peanut oils.

Polyunsaturated oils

Polyunsaturated oils have a less stable chemical structure than monounsaturated fats, and as such are more likely to spoil when exposed to heat or light. For this reason, these oils are best stored in the fridge and used raw. Walnut, grapeseed, corn and fish oils are all polyunsaturated.

Saturated fats

Saturated fats are the most stable and are therefore best for high cooking temperatures. This group is mostly comprised of animal fats like butter, but interestingly coconut oil from vegetable source is predominantly a saturated fat too. You’ll want to limit, but not avoid saturated fats.

Related Article: Fiesta Salad With Chicken Recipe

You’ll notice that ‘Trans’ fats fall nowhere into the makeup of the fat molecule triglyceride. And this is true because trans fats are not at all-natural, but human-made. Originally created to extend the shelf life of certain vegetable oils, trans fat is what occurs when an unsaturated oil is injected with hydrogen, thereby making it ‘partially hydrogenated’. The trans-fatty acids that result are exceptionally harmful to health, especially in large doses over time; thus resulting in increasingly bad cholesterol, and negatively impacting heart health.

In fact, trans fats were declared so harmful that a law was passed in 2006, forcing food products to indicate the ‘trans fats’ per serving on their nutritional panel. This is why so many consumer goods are now labeled ‘trans-fat-free’, to indicate they’re using no hydrogenated oils. Products that can still have trans fats include margarine, crackers, chips, and even certain breakfast cereals, so be consumer aware and read those labels!

Oh, Omega 3, 6, 9

What does it mean when we refer to getting our Omega 3s, 6, 9s? Omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids are two types of essential polyunsaturated fats​. These essential fatty acids (EFAs) ​are fats that your body can’t manufacture on its own and, therefore, have to be provided through your diet, and this is why they’re referred to as “essential.”

Om​ega 9 fatty acids come from the family of monounsaturated fats. Unlike omega ​3 ​and 6, omega 9 fatty acids are not classed as essential. This is because they can be created by the human body from unsaturated fat, and are therefore not essential in the diet​. ​All omegas are important to body function and health!

So Many Oils, Which to Choose?

There are literally dozens, if not hundreds of options out there, and not all oils are ideal for every purpose.

For raw use, like vinaigrettes and marinades, you’re looking for oils that have a delicious, full flavor. Try olive, walnut, flax, or hemp for your next salad.

For sautéing, you’ll want an oil that can stand up to the heat. Try heart-healthy monounsaturated peanut oil for an Asian dish, or for an all-around good choice, try avocado, canola, or coconut oil.

And beyond oils, there are many other sources of fatty acids, including nuts and fish. The trick is to enjoy the unsaturated fats in moderation, limit saturated fats, and avoid trans fats altogether. Have fun getting creative in the kitchen with your so very important omega 3, 6, 9s!


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:

Kirkland’s Summer Reading List

Summer Reading ListAs the joys of summer are just around the corner, so too may be your search for the perfect summer read. And if you have ever had the chance to come to Mountain Trek or to hear lead guide and manager, Kirkland Shave speak, most would agree that he is quite inspirational. But where does Kirk get his inspiration? We sat down with Kirk and found out: what’s on the top of his reading list?

 

 


Counter Clockwise- My Year of Hypnosis, Hormones, Dark Chocolate, and Other Adventures in the World of Anti-AgingCounter Clockwise: My Year of Hypnosis, Hormones, Dark Chocolate, and Other Adventures in the World of Anti-Aging

– By Lauren Kessler

Written by a Mountain Trek alumni! Lauren’s third book is delightfully funny and insightful about the anti-aging industry. She looks at how obsessed people can become in trying to remove wrinkles and make themselves look younger, rather than go for long term lifestyle and vitality practices as they age. As an ex-mountain trekker, she certainly understands the success of lifestyle changes over physical changes or invasive medical practices. The difference between feeling younger and looking younger.

 


Your Brain On Nature- The Science of Nature’s Influence on Your Health, Happiness and VitalityYour Brain On Nature: The Science of Nature’s Influence on Your Health, Happiness and Vitality

By Eva M. Selhub, MD, and Alan C. Logan, MD

Kirk’s favorite health book, “Your Brain on Nature,” looks at how we’re neurologically wired to release the feel good hormones oxytocin, serotonin and dopamine, through natural living, and finding ways to get these hormones without relying on the trifecta of fat, carbs, and salt. Activities like gardening, petting an animal, being in nature, being touched or massaged, doing something creative, are all scientifically proven to lower the stress hormone cortisol and raise the feel good hormones, which all aids to contract the vigilance of life’s constant stressors.

 


Small Move, Big Change- Using Microresolutions to Transform Your Life PermanentlySmall Move, Big Change: Using Microresolutions to Transform Your Life Permanently

By Caroline L. Arnold

This book stands on the shoulders of previous books in the will power theme. Caroline takes the idea of using will power to create lifestyle habits and gives practical ways of making this happen – by creating micro-resolutions that stick to habits we already have, rather than making giant sweeping lifestyle changes that never stick. Kirk’s example in his everyday habits inspired by the book: he always brushes his teeth before bed, and now in conjunction with this, does yoga for 15 mins before bed, stretching out those hiking muscles. It is now all autopilot, as this lifestyle habit of doing bedtime yoga is anchored to the already in place habit of brushing his teeth.

 


Grain Brain- The Surprising Truth About Wheat, Carbs, and Sugar - Your Brain’s Silent KillersGrain Brain: The Surprising Truth About Wheat, Carbs, and Sugar – Your Brain’s Silent Killers

– By David Perlmutter, MD, with Kristin Loberg

Highly scientific, the research in “Grain Brain” is one more book of many that has lead us to the decision of being gluten free this year of Mountain Trek. This book explores the impact of gluten on people’s health; from simple bowel irritation to very serious conditions like alzheimer’s and schizophrenia.

 

 

 


The Paleo Manifesto- Ancient Wisdom for Lifelong Health The Paleo Manifesto: Ancient Wisdom for Lifelong Health

– By John Durant

Kirk wanted to explore the whole paleo movement from diet to exercise programs. What was the foundation over the movement over the last few years? Why is it so popular? “The Paleo Manifesto” gives good insight from an anthropological perspective and the epochs of lifestyle that we’ve had as a civilization, from gathering and hunting, to farming and herding, to industrial factory work, to urban office work, and the implications of these lifestyles on our health. The research points to a return of the gathering and hunting epoch as being the healthiest, but this doesn’t mean this lifestyle is right for everybody. We could all adopt and benefit from slivers of the hunter-gatherer way of living, but this doesn’t imply we all have to strip down to a loin cloth and head out into the bush with a spear. Ultimately, walking as much as possible and eating as much of a variety of plants as possible is how we can marry our urban, office life with our roots from the Paleo era.

Please be sure to let us know how you liked these books, as well as if you have any recommendations. Happy summer, and happy reading!

7 Reasons to Come to Mountain Trek

1. Beat the heat

-It’s not yet too hot! Spring offers some of the best weather for hitting the trail, since we’ve warmed up from winter, and are still cool before summer. Some of the most comfortable hiking temperatures available.

2. Our new spa

is just waiting for you to come try it out. We’ve been very busy over the winter and are proud to present our brand new, state of the art spa facility including an expanded infrared sauna, a deep, 8 person hot tub and cold plunge pool. Did we mention it overlooks stunning views of Kootenay Lake and the Purcell mountains? After a day of hiking, there’s no better way to totally and completely relax then to soak in the heat, and that view.

3. Freshest and greenest landscapes

that our alpine environment has to offer. Creeks and rivers are running their wildest, providing more uplifting negative ions than any other time of year. Nature is revitalized with spring and is literally bubbling over with vitality – and the same will be true for you!

4. Lose weight for bathing suit season

With summer just around the corner, look and feel your best to hit the beach. Not only are you guaranteed to lose weight while with us, but take home valuable strategies for life-long healthy nutritional and fitness habits.

5. Feel your absolute best

According to Scientific American, 75% of all Americans are deficient in the sunshine vitamin, Vitamin D. There are also numerous studies that demonstrate the health benefits that being out in nature brings. Up your relaxation quotient and vitamin D with a week hiking in some of nature’s most spectacular landscapes!

6. We’re selling out – weeks are filling up fast!

With recent publicity in the Wall Street Journal, Huffington Post and Muscle & Fitness, among others,  Mountain Trek is on everyone lips, and minds. Don’t delay if you have a particular week or two that you’d love to come out. We’d love to have you, but with maximum guest numbers of only 16 per week, spots are filling up as we speak!

7. Save your airfare

Last but not least, the savings! This week only, we are offering our congratulations to all the grads out there, and to the loved ones who supported them on their academic journey, with a graduation week promotion of a $500 discount! This essentially means your airfare is on us. Take advantage of this rare promotion, and book for the week of June 7 today!

Your retreat is waiting for you! Call 1-800-661-5161 for more information, or to book now!

Top 7 Reasons To Work Out With a Friend

Working out with a friend
It is undisputed – you want to engage in regular exercise for your target weight goals, your body’s health, your mental health. You know you feel better when you engage in some form of physical activity. And yet, even though we know and understand the many benefits to working out, sometimes finding the motivation to work out can be a challenge – for some more than others. You’re busy, you’ve been working all day and there’s too much at home to get done that’s a bigger priority, you’re too tired, and the list goes on. Truth is, there is always a reason not to do something, and exercising can make the top of that list. So how do we ensure we are getting in our oh so important exercise, motivating ourselves to make sure it happens?

The key to motivating yourself to engage in exercise is to find what motivates you to keep it a regular part of your schedule:

  • Ensure it’s a form of exercise you enjoy, then it won’t be a ‘chore’, but fun!
  • Pump up the volume! If music gets you going, use it!
  • Make it routine: having a set time of day or week for your cardio kick boxing class or evening walk will habituate yourself and your body, and will make that exercise seem like just another part of your day, rather than an optional activity.
  • And last but not least, exercise with a friend. Enlisting a workout buddy is one of the most important things you can do for your fitness routine. A longtime friend, a neighbor, a pal from the gym, your partner, even your dog, are all incredible motivators when it comes to sweating it out. In an enlightening study done by the University of Virginia, participants were given a weighted backpack and were brought to a trailhead at the bottom of the hill; some alone, and some with a friend. They were then asked to rate the slope of the trail ahead. Those who were with a friend guessed that the trail would be less challenging than those who were alone, and, those who were with a friend they had known a long time guessed that the trail would be even less challenging. Applying this lesson to all workouts, it would seem that simply being with that friend makes the workout seem less daunting!

Friends-hiking-together

But making a work out seem like less of a challenge isn’t the only reason to do it with a buddy. Here are our top 7 reasons you should exercise with a friend:

  1. Fun Factor: As friends make life more fun, it makes all the more sense they would do the same for your workout. A little light-hearted good humour will make all the difference as you’re figuring out which way to move your butt in Zumba class.
  2. Friendly Competition: Even if you don’t consider yourself competitive, you’d be surprised how having a buddy at the gym can encourage you to go farther. When you’re doing your reps and are feeling a little breathless on your last set, look over at your friend sweating away, with no sign of slowing down. We dare you to see if you don’t get that extra push to keep going!
  3. Health Multitasking: Nothing like some good conversation (hopefully a bit breathless since your heart rate will be up!) to help the exercise time just sail by. And more than just a motivator to get you exercising, having that friend there as a source of support for a venting session, or just for a general camaraderie catch up, can lessen stress levels and elevate feel good hormones, all contributing to overall good health.
  4. Braver together: When exercising alone, its easy to get into a routine that can old, fast. Whether trying a new trail in your nearby National Park, that new martial arts fusion class the gym is offering, or making the investment in a fitness retreat like Mountain Trek, the encouragement and support you will get in trying it together will make you all the more brave to expand your exercise horizons. And who knows – as you experiment you may discover a new exercise you both enjoy to add to your exercise repertoire!
  5. Safer together: When going for a hike in the woods, or for a late night or early morning jog, it’s always safer to have a partner. Knock on wood, should someone sustain injury, you’ve got the able body there for first aid or to get help.
  6. Birds of a feather, exercise together: Like attracts like when it comes to pals, so if you have active friends, chances are you’ll be active too. Having fit friends also encourages you to get out there more often because they’ll be all the more likely to call you up and initiate that next outing. Their success will also become your success, and vice versa. When you see fitness goals set and attained, it makes you not only feel victorious with and for your friend, but allows you to feel like your fitness goals are more possible than ever.
  7. Accountability: Having a fitness date is like scheduling an appointment, and you’re far less likely to skip out on your exercise if someone is there to hold you to it. You won’t want to disappoint them by being a no-show. If your workout buddy is your dog, and you’ve already mentioned a walk, they are sure to hold you to it! By eliminating the ‘should I or shouldn’t I?’ of your workout, you are eliminating any possible waffling about doing it, and are lining yourself up for success.

If you don’t currently work out with anyone, and are wondering who you could get as your exercise pal, try asking your friends – you never know who is looking to kick start their fitness alongside you, or who goes for a daily morning jog that you didn’t know about.

Try using several of your motivational fitness tools in one swoop; like setting a weekly time for your hike with your brother, or last one to finish 100 sit ups buys the post-workout brunch this morning!

Getting in your exercise, achieving weight loss goals, maintaining physical and mental health, while bonding and spending quality time with friends? Sounds like a win-win-win-win to me!

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Hypertension: How to prevent and manage high blood pressure

hypertension

A condition that plagues approximately 70 million Americans, hypertension is dangerous but can be prevented and managed. With the sedentary lifestyles that are so prevalent in everyday society, it is little wonder that high blood pressure is increasingly common. When the heart is unfit, it has to work overtime, resulting in high blood pressure. The good news is we can manage the condition and can even lower blood pressure back to a healthy state.

What is hypertension?

Hypertension, also known as high blood pressure, is a widespread condition in today’s society. Blood pressure is represented by two measurements. The first is systolic and is measured when the heart contracts. The second is diastolic, which is measured when the heart releases/relaxes.

A healthy range for systolic blood pressure is between 100-140 mmHg and 60-90 mmHg for diastolic. A blood pressure reading higher than 140/90 mmHg is considered to be hypertension.

The long term effects of high blood pressure are numerous. Issues like heart attack, stroke, heart failure, damaged organs, and aneurysm are some examples. The World Health Organization has identified high blood pressure as the leading cause of cardiovascular mortality. Symptoms of hypertension include headaches, fainting, fatigue, difficulty breathing, chest pains, and irregular heartbeat. However, many people with hypertension feel no symptoms whatsoever. All the more reason to get your blood pressure checked out by your healthcare professional.

What causes hypertension?

Firstly, hypertension can be broken into two groups. When there is no obvious underlying cause, this is considered primary hypertension. Secondary hypertension is when high blood pressure is caused by another condition.

The causes of hypertension are inconclusive but are thought to include certain conditions and lifestyle choices, including:

  • obesity
  • diabetes
  • kidney disease
  • hormonal imbalance
  • sedentary lifestyle/lack of physical activity
  • insufficient vitamin D, lack of magnesium, potassium, and calcium
  • high levels of salt/sodium intake, high levels of alcohol consumption
  • genetic predisposition
  • certain medication, for example, birth control pills
  • stress

While seriously harmful to our health, the good news is high blood pressure is manageable, preventable, and even reversible.

Hypertension Prevention and Management

Although medication can help with managing high blood pressure, adopting healthy habits is imperative to the prevention and management of hypertension. Practicing healthy life choices can prove so effective in combating high blood pressure that often medication can be avoided. According to the American Heart Association, there are a few main ways to prevent high blood pressure:

Engage in regular physical activity

It’s easy for inactivity to become a way of life when desk jobs and busy life schedules take over. Engaging in exercise not only helps with blood pressure but also helps reduce stress and promotes weight loss. Aim to include aerobic activities that get the heart pumping! But any physical activity is a good thing. 

Enjoy a healthy diet, low in salt and alcohol 

Stick to a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, high in fiber and lean protein. In the place of salt/sodium, opt for low or no salt alternatives such as Spike no-salt seasoning, or nutritional yeast. Consume little alcohol and find alternatives, like all-natural sparkling fruit juices, or herbal teas.

Maintain a healthy weight

Those who are overweight are considerably more at risk to develop or have high blood pressure. A benefit to so many aspects of our well-being, even just a little weight loss can help our blood pressure health.

Don’t smoke 

Need we say more? These days, it is undisputed that the harsh chemicals and additives present in cigarettes are unhealthy for all aspects of health, including blood pressure.

Manage stress  

We’ve all felt our blood pressure go up during stressful moments. Managing stressors is imperative to so many aspects of health, and only you know what truly relaxes you. Meditate, go to a yoga class, treat yourself to a massage, spend some time in the backyard gardening, even engaging in regular deep breathing – whatever works for you.

For most people, implementing these regular lifestyle changes can be challenging. But starting small with just one or two changes can improve your overall health, including your blood pressure. Moreover, think of these tactics as ‘lifestyle prescriptions’ to help avoid the doctor’s prescriptions. 

Unlike so many health conditions, hypertension is very manageable and preventable by making these choices. So get moving, enjoy your fruits and veggies, and destress.


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:

Trekking Poles: How to choose the right poles for you

hiking poles lined up on a wall

It’s important to have the right gear to support you in having the most fun, safe, and effective workout possible. At Mountain Trek, we include trekking poles in necessary hiking gear, as do many avid hikers around the world. But like any good gear, it is so important to find what works best for you. Here, we’ll help you to choose the best hiking pole for you by covering what features to look for. But first; why bother using them?

line of 4 adults hiking with poles in beautiful mountain scenery

Why use hiking poles?

Using walking/hiking poles offers several benefits:

  • Poles provide better balance and footing, especially over slippery or uneven terrain, like when crossing streams, over loose rocks, etc.
  • During ascent, poles can add thrust, while taking pressure off the lower body, and onto the shoulders and upper back.
  • During descent, poles can significantly reduce the amount of stress on legs, hips, and joints, and reduce the possibility of injury by adding stability. Although this is particularly beneficial to those with weaker or compromised knees/ankles, reducing stress and impact to the body is certainly beneficial for everyone.
  • Poles can be used to clear away loose hanging vegetation, or can be used to scope out swampy patches or possible holes before venturing forwards.
  • In the unlikely event of an injury, a pole can be used in wilderness first aid as a splint or crutch.
  • And last but not least, using hiking poles not only reduces your perceived exertion rate by taking strain off the legs and into the arms, but increases calories burned. In a study by the Cooper Institute of Dallas, they found that using trekking poles burned up to 20% more calories compared to the same walk or hike without poles.

Woman admiring and inspecting hiking poles

What features should I look for in a hiking pole?

When shopping for a hiking pole, consider the kind of terrain you will be traversing, and how much weight you will have in your pack. Also review the health of your knees, ankles, hips, and joints.

Regular or Anti-Shock

With this determined, you can decide if you would like to get ‘regular’ or ‘anti-shock’ poles. Anti-shock poles have a shaft that contains an anti-shock spring mechanism, softening any impact while travelling downhill. Anti-shock technology is particularly beneficial for those with sensitive knees, ankles, joints, etc. And the anti-shock mechanism can be turned off when it is not needed; for example when traveling uphill. Regular or standard poles have a simple shaft, and are a little bit lighter than antishock poles since they do not contain that mechanism. They of course are unable to provide the same level of shock absorption as an anti-shock model, but do provide the same stability.

The parts of a pole include the tip, basket, shaft (which includes or does not include the anti-shock device), locking mechanism, grip, and wrist strap. When choosing a hiking pole, consider each of these components:

Material

The shaft’s make up will likely be either high-grade aluminum or carbon fibre. A pair of high-grade aluminum poles will weigh around 20 ounces, are very durable and flexible, and rarely break. Carbon fibre poles will weigh less on average, about 15 ounces, and are also very durable. But when carbon fibre poles are under extreme stress, they can shatter. Keep in mind that both the length and the circumference of the shaft varies as well.

Pole tips are usually made out of carbide or steel. Additionally, there is and option of getting a rubber tip cover. This protects the lifetime, and your pack when the poles are stowed. The rubber ends are also better for harder surfaces, like pavement.

Locking Mechanisms

Locking mechanisms allow you to determine the length of your pole for different terrain, or for stowing in your luggage en route to your hiking destination. Two or three interlocking sections make up your pole. And if you’re very tall or short, it’s important to check the full extension/compression length of the pole. Most poles have a ‘twist and lock’ system, like a form of clamp. Whatever the mechanism, ensure it’s durable and dependable – you’d hate to have this fail on you at a critical moment. Regular maintenance through cleaning and drying of the separate components of your hiking poles can help with your locking mechanism’s life span and reliability.

Grip

Both the grip shape and material vary, so this is a very important reason to test drive your poles before buying. Test different grip types to see what angle and density is most comfortable to you. Grips can be angled forward or completely upright, and some can even extend down the shaft, known as an ‘extended grip’, useful for brief uphill portions. Materials for the grip can include, but are not limited to:

Cork – absorbs vibration well, doesn’t slip with sweat, conforms well to hand shape

Foam – absorbs sweat, most malleable

Rubber – can chafe hands in warm weather but insulates from cold, good shock absorption).

Now that you’ve chosen your hiking poles, ensure you have the correct technique to keep you safe and supported. Or come to Mountain Trek and we’ll show you how–you’ll get lots of practice! Be supported, less prone to injury, and burning more calories out there on the trail with your new hiking poles. And most importantly, have fun!


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:

Health and Vitality as we age: How to make to most of your Encore Career years

Health and Vitality as We AgeIn years past, it was not uncommon to retire after a hard, life long career, only to kick up your feet, relax, retire perhaps to a warmer climate, and maybe get in a couple games of weekly golf. Yet these days, with advancements in modern medicine and a swing towards healthier life habits, not only are we living longer, we’re therefore working longer. And although this ‘retire and relax’ practice is still very much par for the course for some, we are seeing a major shift in the trend for retirees: today, boomers are younger and more active, and later in their professional life are willing and wanting to take careers that matter more to them instead of making them the big bucks or raising them higher up the corporate totem pole.

This shift in society’s working demographic has been coined as the ‘Encore Career’, and while a definition is still under debate, it is typically being called ‘a substitute for retirement’, aiming to grant the individual with some form of personal satisfaction, usually through meaningful work in the not-for-profit sector, education, etc. Combining social impact, personal satisfaction and fulfillment, along with a continued income, is a path many are finding appealing. Studies done in 2011 showed significant trends towards said Encore Careers: surveying Americans ages 44 – 70 revealed that as many as 9 million people would currently qualify themselves as being in their encore career, while another 31 million admitted to wanting an encore career, and were making moves towards it. We are seeing more and more high profile, successful, corporate professionals doing just this; Bill Gates’ switch from Microsoft to working full time for his foundation being one example of many. It appears as though finding your second act in more fun, meaningful work is becoming the norm increasingly so.

We are working longer, and changing lanes into more meaningful work. This switch in life purpose and fun work means that now more than ever, we want to live longer, to be able to enjoy these fulfilling activities and pursuits. Living longer, means living healthier, and we are seeing huge interest into how to be healthy and full of life, well into retirement and beyond. As we age, our bodily systems slow, cell regeneration slows, our metabolism slows, and so it is important more so than ever to focus on our health. So whether your future holds retirement in the form of an encore career or relaxation, or if you are in the midst of switching over to that encore career now, or maybe you are in the midst of your well earned retirement, here are some tips that we’ve found here at Mountain Trek about how to live long, and live well:

Quality Sleep: Sleep helps the body and mind to rest and regenerate, and is absolutely imperative to our health, nevermind that feeling rested helps tremendously in our quality of everyday life! Getting enough sleep reduces chances of disease and aids in our productivity. Deep sleep is specifically 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, balancing weight, and feeling good. (Exercise also helps with HGH release, as taught in our Program).

Nutrition: Eating a balanced diet is imperative to your health, and following the recommended Mountain Trek Program’s food schedule is the ideal: eat ⅔ of your calories in the first 9 hours of your day, aim for a breakfast of ⅓ complex carbs, ⅓ vegetables and fruits, and ⅓ protein, and have lunch and dinner at a ratio of ⅓ protein : ⅔ vegetables (for a continued weight loss formula). Ideally, eat within 30 minutes of rising, and be sure not to skip a meal, otherwise your metabolism slows way down, and your body goes into calorie-conservation mode.

Hydration: Drinking enough water, 8 – 10 glasses / day, flushes the body, unwanted fat cells, and kidneys, aiding in detoxing thereby allowing our bodies to function more effectively. And as far as hydration goes – there is no substitute for good ol’ clean water! But if you really feel like you need a little something different, try a mug of comforting herbal tea, or a wedge of organic lemon or lime in your next glass of water.

Exercise: Cardio, strength training, flexibility – it’s all so important to our overall health – now, and certainly as we age. Cardio will keep your heart healthy and aid with weight loss among other benefits, strength training aids in preventing bone loss as you age, boosting metabolism, and of course, staying strong. And stretching exercise, like yoga or Pilates, will keep you flexible and less prone to injury. As a bonus, exercise also releases some fabulous feel-good endorphins, allowing you to feel full of vitality.

Detox: Detoxifying regularly is necessary to maximize our body’s efficiency. Sweating (through exercise and sauna), drinking plenty of water, eating organic where possible, minimizing exposure to environmental toxins and harsh chemicals are all ways to rid our body of these unwanted, and potentially harmful, toxins.

De-stress: When we are stressed, the body releases the stress hormone, cortisol, into the body, which in turn upsets our entire hormonal balance, on which so many bodily functions depend. Engaging in de-stressing activities, such as time in nature, massage, meditation, even just taking a couple deep breaths while stopped at a traffic light or in line at the grocery store, can all help our overall well being.

Disease Prevention: Many of the above tips will help with disease prevention. Ensuring we are rid of unwanted bodily toxins, eating healthful foods, engaging in regular exercise and sounds sleep are some of the best preventative measures out there.

Learn: Keeping the brain sharp may be one of the most important things we can do as we age, and learning is one of the best ways. Introducing new information to ourselves, assimilating it, and then using it, is some of the mind’s best exercise, for example, learning a new language or how to play a musical instrument. An encore career is a perfect way to engage in continued learning, social engagement and interaction, and overall feelings of fulfillment – all absolutely vital for our health!

Make the most of the many years after your career, by staying fit and healthy with the tips above. Please note that all these tips are some of the key points of the Mountain Trek Program and are only summarized above – for full information, and full benefits, please feel free to come see us for a visit and enjoy the points outlined above, including learning through our educational health lectures! You deserve to enjoy a long, healthy life, and an unbelievably fulfilling, and fun, Encore Career.