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.


Top 7 Reasons To Work Out With a Friend

Working out with a friendWhether you want to exercise for weight loss, physical, and/or mental health, it is important to include it into your lifestyle – but it’s not always easy.

You know you feel better when you engage in some form of physical activity. And yet, even though we know the benefits of exercise, sometimes finding the motivation to work out can be a challenge. You’re busy, you’ve been working all day and there’s too much at home to get done, 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 our exercise? How do we motivate 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.

Motivation Tips for Exercising

  • 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 kickboxing 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!


7 reasons you should exercise with a friend

  1. Fun Factor: Friends make life more fun, it makes all the more sense they would do the same for your workout. A little light-hearted good humor 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, it’s 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 braver 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 an 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 the 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!

What is Mountain Trek?

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

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:


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.


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 or reach out below:

Health and Vitality as We Age: How to make the most of your Encore Career Years

Health and Vitality as We AgeIn years past, it was not uncommon to retire after a hard, lifelong career, only to kick up your feet, relax, retire perhaps to a warmer climate, and maybe get in a couple of 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’

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 the 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).


Eating a balanced diet is imperative to your health, and following the recommended Mountain Trek Program’s food schedule is 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.


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.


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.


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.


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 of 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.


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 exercises, 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.

What is Mountain Trek?

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

Your Metabolism: How to make it work for you to get fit and lose weight

Metabolism: Make it work for you.Last week, inspired by the controversy surrounding the latest winner of the reality TV show, ‘The Biggest Loser’, we had a look at healthy weight loss and what it means to shed the pounds in a sustainable, healthy way. In the weight loss world, we often hear of metabolism, how it affects our bodies and our weight, and how we can give it a ‘boost’. But what exactly is metabolism? How does it work, and how can we make it work for us when getting fit and losing weight?

Metabolism is the rate at which your body uses energy, or, burns calories. It is an endless, two-part cycle of anabolism (when energy is created and stored) and catabolism (when energy is used or released). This process is directly dependent on our endocrine system, or hormones. Simply put, if our hormones are at all out of balance, then so too will be our metabolism, meaning the rate at which our body uses calories is not optimized.

In addition to considering our hormonal balance (which controls a lot more in our bodies than just our metabolism; like cell and tissue growth, mood regulation, etc.), there are other key factors to consider when considering our weight. Although metabolism does have the major role of serving our body’s energy needs, our weight is based predominantly on calories consumed and physical activity. If you consume more ‘energy’ than you expend, you will hang on to some of that energy in the form of excess weight. Keeping this in mind, and supposing we are doing our best to output more energy (exercise) than we are inputting (calories), what can we do make sure that the calorie-burning going on inside of us is optimized? How can we make sure our metabolism is running at its very best?

Eat regularly, and consume 2/3 of your calories in the first 9 hours of your day. If you skip meals or intensely reduce calories, your body’s metabolism slows way down, and your body hangs onto those calories to fuel basic functions.
Strength training: More muscles = faster metabolism! Muscle burns calories more efficiently than fat; the more muscle you have in relation to your body fat, the higher your metabolism will be. So integrate the weights or resistance training.
Good nights: Lack of sleep over a prolonged period (‘sleep debt’) can seriously alter our hormonal balance, which in turn can negatively affect our metabolism. Aiming to get 7-8 hours of truly restful sleep will promote hormonal balance, along with all the other benefits of getting a good night’s rest!
Stress: Cortisol, the stress hormone, can wreak havoc on our hormonal balance when our stress is not kept in check. Engaging regularly in relaxing activities like massage, meditation, walking in nature, even simple deep breathing, will not only help your state of mind, but your hormonal balance as well.

Keep in mind too that our metabolism, like many aspects of aging, slows down, which helps to explain why many people in their 40s and 50s notice that they are unable to lose weight like they were in years past. To maintain weight as we age, we need fewer calories than we did as spring chickens.

In addition to these tips, Dr. Edward Geehr, M.D. and writer for, has summarized all the tips he learned at Mountain Trek on how to boost your metabolism. And of course, there is always the option of trying all these tips for yourself, in a metabolism reboot at Mountain Trek!

No matter what our age, exercise (both aerobic and strength training), nutrition, and engaging in healthy hormone balancing habits are the keys to losing weight, feeling fit and living with vitality!

The Biggest Loser Fiasco: Tips for Healthy Weight Loss

Recently, the hit reality TV show “The Biggest Loser” had their biggest loser ever: winner Rachel Frederickson lost an astonishing 60% of her total body mass, a total of 155 pounds in just over 3 months. Controversy is flying high in the media around the health and fitness industry, asking the question: Just what is healthy weight loss?

In this special Mountain Trek two-part blog, we will first cover what constitutes healthy weight loss, the potential health risks of unhealthy or too-fast weight loss, and the role of metabolism in all this: how our metabolism works, and how giving it a boost will help us lose weight more efficiently.

Copyright NBC

Over a short period of time, like one or two weeks at Mountain Trek, a metabolic ‘kick start’, through calorie control and extensive exercise can be a very effective way to reboot the body’s metabolism, our fitness, and, very importantly, our own psychology and mind set towards our own weight loss. During a short time frame metabolic ‘kick-start’ like this, losing weight quickly (0.5 – 2 pounds/day) is safe, effective, and encouraging. But limited calories and extensive exercise over a longer time frame can do more harm than good. When you eat severely reduced calories, your body compensates by slowing down your metabolism, allowing it to save calories for energy your body will need to handle its basic functions. Achieving healthy weight loss doesn’t mean only considering the obvious strategy of decreased calories and increased exercise, but considering a more holistic approach that includes stress reduction, detoxification and sleep improvements. This all-encompassing lifestyle approach allows us to balance our hormones, thereby raising our metabolism, and voila, we’ve got healthy weight loss. And after a 2 week intensive metabolism kick-start, all these same components would continue to be the focus for a continued, sustainable, and slower weight loss.

According to the U.S. Department of Health, dieters should aim to lose approximately 0.5 – 2 pounds/week after the first 2 weeks of their regime, for sustainable, healthy weight loss. Rapid weight loss can result in numerous health risks, including: loss of bone mass, increase in bone marrow fat, which can in turn lead to increased risk of bone fractures, heart attacks or high blood pressure, gall bladder stones, kidney failure, thyroid problems, excess estrogen, osteoporosis, and the list goes on.

Our philosophy is to promote wellbeing and fitness through healthy habits and lifestyle choices geared towards long term success – and with this comes numerous benefits (increased energy, better sleep, better body functions, etc.) including weight loss!

So here’s to a fit, healthy you! Until next week, when we look at metabolism, and its role in our weight and health.

Not Another Passing Fad: Health and Fitness Trends for 2014

Top Trends for Fitness in 2014Trends, unlike fads, are cultural flows or tendencies. Fads pass and often with nothing more than surface style or quick money in mind.

Think of pop star Miley Cyrus and twerking, a dance she recently popularized in which an individual dances in a sexually provocative manner involving thrusting hip movements while in a low squatting stance. Sure twerking raises the heart rate, burns calories, works certain muscle groups, and adds fun to fitness, but it will never become more than a passing fad. Like the Charleston dance of the 1920s, lava lamps in the 70s, Rap-Rock music of the 90s, or Segway scooters in the early 2000s, Miley’s dance will soon be relegated to pop culture’s, dusty half-price bin.

Mountain Trek pays no attention to passing fads. Instead we invest our time and energy into researching which new or revived trend is synonymous with the healthiest, happiest, most inspiring lifestyle possible.

Go ahead and twerk all you want, but the following is a list of what we’ve found to be the biggest trends in health and fitness for 2014.

Metabolism Boosting Exercises: Renowned personal trainer Jillian Michaels, predicts that high intensity interval training (HIIT), a trend popular in 2013 will continue on throughout 2014. “Current research suggests that HIIT is the best way to achieve training improvements and body change results,” she says. “Programs that challenge the body to incur a higher calorie burn during and post-workout (after burn) by using a variety of total body training methodologies will prove to be winners when it comes to game changing workouts.”

Corrective Exercises: How many of us suffer from chronic low-back pain, arthritis, neck or shoulder issues? The growing number of people who experience aches and pains on a regular basis has inspired a movement in the world of personal trainers to help their clients by using corrective exercise techniques for pain management and postural issues.

In many cases, the pain you’re experiencing now is often the result of a series of small events that, when looked at as a whole, leads to the real reason you’re experiencing pain. Muscle imbalance and movement issues are often the root cause of chronic pain.
The idea behind corrective exercise is to use simple exercises that address any muscle imbalances and misalignments and relieve the stress in your body.

Corrective exercise is based on the simple fact that each muscle is connected to another. By reintroducing proper structure in the body, structure can improve and you can move freely and with less pain as time goes by.

Digital Wellness: Most of us are shackled in one way or another to our digital gadgetry, whether it’s cell phones, laptop computers, or tablets. And even though there is a growing trend toward people living tech-free lives (or at least dedicating one day a week to this lofty goal), there is an even bigger trend toward digital tech wellness. From fitness tracker apps that monitor everything from caloric intake to heart rate and running distance, to online fitness classes, the mobile health movement is here to stay.

Brainpower Boosters: Another trend that was big in 2013–exercise that incorporates cognition-building challenges and specific movement patterns to improve brain function–will also fuel 2014’s fitness devotees.

We’ll see more experiential fitness classes that involve an elevated approach to the mind-body-brain connection. A yoga-flow-play class, that offers a music sampling experience and explores how certain vibrations and sounds impact yoga flow and poses, is one example.

Brain-boosting exercise may sound complex, but it can be as simple as working on your balance or coordination

Good Old-Fashioned Hot Springs: Soaking in a natural hot spring is something that humans have been experiencing for thousands of years. It is in fact our original spa encounter.

With today’s rising costs of living, an inexpensive, social and therapeutically beneficial soak in a thermal spring is hotter than ever. And the best part is, you can find a natural hot springs all over the world.

Nutritious Food: Will good, nutritious food ever not be a trend? We don’t think so, and neither does Sandy Todd Webster, editor in chief for the IDEA Health and Fitness Association. She says, “Empowering people to break the chain of crazy fad/yo-yo dieting by educating them to eat sensibly is an immeasurable benefit. If you can teach a person how to eat well and stop putting unnecessary additives and chemicals into the body, their system will breathe a sigh of relief and start metabolizing the way it’s meant to. It will finally recognize the ‘information’ they’re putting in rather than getting inflamed and fighting unrecognizable processed substances.”

Wellness Spas and Retreats: With the recession now in our rear-view mirror, many people are beginning to travel and spend again. Destination spas and health retreats, like Mountain Trek’s Nelson, British Columbia and Baja Mexico (Rancho La Puerta) locations specialize in what increasing numbers of people are seeking out in 2014– personalized, transformative and immersive wellness programs.

Holiday Health and Fitness Challenge: a wholesome head start for 2014

[portfolio_slideshow id=6078] A hearty congratulations are in order to us all. We made it through the toughest, most temptation-filled, overindulgent part of the holidays!

Sure, there’s still one more epic night of jubilation, but New Year’s Eve is less about stuffing ourselves with delicious food, and more about celebrating (with possibly one-too-many drinks) what was hopefully a healthy, happy and bountiful 2013, while wishing the best to each other for the year ahead.

As we start thinking about our resolutions for 2014–whether it’s quitting smoking, eating healthier, exercising more, or a host of other healthy lifestyle improvements–now is a good time to also start taking the initial steps towards achieving those resolutions. Why wait until January 2nd to reboot a healthy lifestyle?

Whether you’re still scuttling between the final few office parties and family gatherings, or you’re on a sun-filled vacation, Mountain Trek has come up with a manageable way to reset your perspective and kick start a fresh, healthier you.

Join us for our Holiday Health and Fitness Challenge– seven days of effective tasks to improve your overall health. Complete the challenge and we think you’ll find that sticking to your New Year’s resolutions will be that much easier.

We’d love to hear about your experience during the Holiday Health and Fitness Challenge. Keep us posted on your progress, the hurdles that you face and how you feel at the end. Good luck!

December 29, 2013: 
Day One: CORE

Challenge: We start our challenge by focusing on our core. Functional movements are highly dependent on the core, and lack of core development can result in a predisposition to injury. The major muscles of the core reside in the area of the belly and the mid and lower back, and peripherally include the hips, the shoulders and the neck.

Task: There are many core-strengthening exercises you can do, from knee fold tucks, to ball routines, to plank exercises. Find a few that you feel comfortable with and try them out at some point today.

December 30, 2013: 
Day Two: DETOX

Challenge: Our lifestyles put our bodies to the test. Rising stress levels, lack of exercise, constipation, poor diet and poor lifestyle choices – not to mention the ever-increasing levels of toxins in our environment – push our bodies to their limits. While it’s impossible to avoid toxins completely, it’s important to support your body so it can get rid of them.

Task: Today we challenge you to an infrared sauna. An infrared sauna uses infrared heaters to emit infrared light experienced as radiant heat, which is absorbed by the surface of the skin. Taking a 20-minute infrared sauna is a great way to sweat out toxins, with a side benefit of weight loss.

December 31, 2013:

Challenge: Today we want you to eat breakfast. And not only that, we want you to eat breakfast within a half hour of waking up. So many of us skip breakfast altogether. Not today. Eating breakfast kick starts our metabolism, supports our circadian rhythms and keeps our livers from initiating the “famine” response.

Task: Make yourself a fruit and veggie smoothie (or prepare it the night before and keep it in the fridge), enjoy a bowl of muesli, scrambled eggs, or broccoli and smoked cheese frittata in the morning. Whatever your choice try and include equal volumes of complex carbohydrates, protein, vegetables or fruit, as well as a teaspoon of omega oil.

January 1st, 2014:
Day Four: SLEEP

Challenge: This one shouldn’t be too much of a challenge, especially if you’ve been up celebrating the night before.
As an adult, our being needs between 7.5 and 9 hours of sleep in a 24 hour period, in order to maintain a healthy, growth-centered metabolism.

Task: The challenge on this night is to go to bed early (get cozy in bed between 9 and 10pm) and sleep relatively undisturbed for 7 to 9 hours.
If, like so many of us, you spend too many hours on your computer, download During the day, computer screens look good—they’re designed to look like the sun. But, at 9PM, 10PM, or 3AM, you probably shouldn’t be looking at the sun. The f.lux software fixes this: it makes the color of your computer’s display adapt to the time of day, warm at night and like sunlight during the day.

Have a good night…

January 2nd, 2014
Day Five: STRESS

Challenge: For some of us, today’s challenge may be the toughest… a gadgetry detox. Try one full day without a technological gadget or social media platform that usually has you so absorbed in it that you feel a sense of panic when that thing is temporarily taken a way from you.

Always being available to answer an email or take a call from someone at work has made our workdays 10 to 14 hours long (in some cases longer).

Task: Just for today, turn it all off! Your heart rate just went up didn’t it? You’ll be okay.

If it’s absolutely not possible to turn it all off, try one gadget at a time. Turn off your cell phone, or try no emailing, or no television, or no Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. And substitute the dopamine fix that you usually get from the gadgets, with a healthy dopamine boost. Shut your cell off, go for a hike. Substitute a no-social-media-day with a day of visiting friends and family. Turn it all off and fill your day with yoga, meditation, and healthy cooking.

 January 3rd, 2014

Challenge: Admittedly, if you successfully went through a gadget detox the day before, then your willpower is on the right track. But now it’s time to strengthen it even more, because today is the day you engage one of your resolutions for 2014.

Task: Pick a healthy habit and embrace it. Today is the day you start yoga classes, or begin healthy cooking classes, or reconnect with an estranged loved one, start writing that novel you’ve always wanted or find some way to love yourself a little more every day. Whatever it is, seize the day with open arms, open mind and open heart.

January 4th, 2014
Day Seven: NATURE

Challenge: Has it been a while since you’ve explored and enjoyed the great outdoors?  On this, the final day of our Heath and Fitness Challenge, we urge you to get outside and play. We don’t need science to tell us that doing some form of healthy activity outdoors is good for the soul.

Task: Take your dog for a long walk along the beach, go for a hike with your son, snowshoe with your daughters, cross-country ski with an old friend, swim in the ocean with your spouse, stroll through the neighbourhood with your grandchild, or ride bikes with your mom. Whatever it is, get out there, breath the fresh air and be thankful that you’ve made it another year!

Once again, let us know how you do, we’d love to hear from you and good luck!

Mountain Trek on

Photo credit: Margarita

Photo credit: Margarita

Mountain Trek was recently featured on – a sassy New York based online publication written for women by women.

Writer and Mountain Trek guest Margarita, shares her personal experience of leaving NYC for the mountain ranges of British Columbia.

“There was an introductory lecture, which included words like “tonic,,” “fat flush” “hydro therapy,” and, everybody’s favorite, “toxins.” We concluded the evening with some goat’s whey and a probiotic. I set off for my room, wondering what I got myself into.”



Foam Rolling: Bona Fide or Passing Fad?

Foam Rolling for Fitness

Ten years ago you’d be hard pressed to find a selection of foam rollers at your local gym. A two-foot-round piece of blue foam might have left some athletes, coaches and physiotherapists scratching their heads wondering exactly what it was to be used for.

Today, nearly every elite level training facility, physio clinic, and neighbourhood gym contains an array of foam rollers in varying lengths and consistencies. The question is, is foam rolling a legitimate therapeutic technique or a flash-in-the-pan?

What is a foam roller and how is it used?

A foam roller is a cylindrical piece of hard-celled foam, available in a range of shapes and sizes, that can be used as a self-massage tool. Athletes, gym-goers or patients can use a roller to administer pressure to sensitive areas in the muscles – whether it’s applying sweeping strokes to the long muscle groups like the calves, adductors and quadriceps or concentrating minute directed force to areas like the hip rotators, gluteus medius and tensor fascia latae, the muscle that attaches to the IT Band. Your therapist or trainer may call these sore areas “knots,” “trigger points,” or simply areas of increased muscle density. Regardless of the name, those in the fields of athletics and rehabilitation know that in order to improve performance, sore muscles need massaging.

What started the foam roller craze?

For years chiropractors and physical therapists working with elite athletes have focused on injury prevention and the treatment of muscles by using soft tissue mobilization (massage) and muscle activation and release techniques. Results spoke for themselves and soon it was mandatory that professional athletes have a team of muscle manipulators in their corner. Of course, not everyone is a professional athlete, or can afford a personal trainer, so the question arose: “How can I benefit from soft tissue massage at a reasonable cost?” Enter Mike Clark, physical therapist and CEO of the National Academy of Sports Medicine in the USA. He is credited by many for introducing the athletic and physical therapy communities to the foam roller and what he termed “self myofascial release.” Simply put, he convinced the masses to “self massage” by getting a foam roller and using your bodyweight to apply pressure to sore spots.

What are the major muscle areas that respond well to foam rolling?

• Gluteus Maximus and Hip Rotators: sitting on the roller with a slight tilt and moving from the iliac crest to the hip joint, addresses the gluteus maximus muscles. To concentrate on the hip rotators, the affected leg is crossed to place the hip rotator group on stretch.

• Tensor Fascia Latae and Gluteus Medius: Although small, these muscles are significant factors when experiencing anterior knee pain. To address the TFL, begin with the body prone and the edge of the roller placed over the TFL, just below the iliac crest. After working the TFL, turn ninety degrees to a side position and work from the hip joint to the iliac crest to address the gluteus medius.

 • Adductors: the adductors are one of the most neglected areas of the lower body. The easiest method for working the adductors is a floor-based technique where you abduct the leg over the roller and place the roller at about a 60 degree angle to the leg. The rolling action should be done in three portions beginning just above the knee in the area of the vastus medialis and pes anserine. Ten short rolls should be done covering about one third the length of the femur. Next the roller should be moved to the mid-point of the adductor group and again rolled ten times in the middle third of the muscle. Lastly, the roller should be moved high into the groin, almost to the pubic symphysis.

Things to remember

  • Foam rolling can be hard work, particularly for weaker or overweight people, as the arms are heavily involved in moving the body.

  • Rolling can border on painful at first. If you feel a “sharp” or knife-like pain, however, stop immediately. Rest and then try again with lighter pressure.

  • Foam rollers are available in a number of densities from relatively soft foam, (slightly harder than a pool noodle), to newer high-density rollers with a much more solid feel.

  • The feel of the roller and the intensity of the self-massage work must be properly geared to the age, and fitness level of the client.

  • Good massage work, and correspondingly good self-massage work, may be uncomfortable, much like stretching.

  • It is important that you learn to distinguish between a moderate level of discomfort related to a trigger point and a potentially injurious situation.

  • Foam rolling should be used with discretion in those clients with less muscle density. And it should never cause bruising.

  • The reality is that you should feel better, not worse after using a foam roller.

If you have tight, sore muscles after your hike or workout, you might want to explore what a foam roller can do for you. They’re a small investment (prices start at $20) but can potentially decrease the number of soft tissue injuries one experiences.

Alternatively, join us at Mountain Trek where our staff will show you how to utilize a foam roller properly and set you on a path to overall wellness.