The winter health program is a great way to burn off the extra calories consumed over the holidays. Check out our Winter Health Program that includes snowshoeing.

Posts

Sleep Tips for Beating the Winter Blues

Sleep better and peacefully

Nothing could impact our health, mood, and vitality more than a good night’s sleep. Without it, we simply can’t function our best.  Less sleep directly compromises our immune system, lowers our stamina, and promotes the symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder (“SAD”).

Our sleep-wake cycle is regulated by the “drowsiness” hormone melatonin, which is produced by the pineal gland. Melatonin levels are higher in the winter due to decreased sunlight, and without bright morning sunlight, it lingers longer in the morning. This makes it difficult to wake up.

Tips for Regulating Melatonin and the Sleep-Wake Cycle

Keeping your batteries replenished through the darker winter months is achieved by keeping your sleep-wake cycle similar to other times of the year.  Here’s how:

  • Maintain a regular sleep schedule as much as possible, even on the weekends.
  • Try to get as much natural light as possible in the morning hours before 8 am, to help lower melatonin levels.  Sit by the window or go for a morning walk.
  • Use a lightbox for phototherapy to help balance your circadian rhythm and combat SAD. This full-spectrum light can be placed next to your bed and programmed on a timer to get brighter in the mornings, to mimic sunrise. This helps shut off the production of melatonin. However, it’s important to use lightboxes according to the natural pattern of summer sunlight, because too much bright light at the wrong times can result in insomnia. So use them to stimulate dawn (6 am – 8 am) every morning for the duration of the winter.
  • If you take melatonin supplements, do so in consultation with your physician, and take it around 8 pm to avoid staying up too late, and sleeping in too late.
  • Keep active with exercise!  Not only does it release endorphins, serotonin, and dopamine hormones to lift your mood, but tiring your body with healthy exertion will naturally contribute to a restful sleep, and keep your energy levels higher during the day.

Although melatonin is the hormone that regulates hibernation in animals, we don’t have to spend the winter months drowsy and holed up in our houses. You can maintain a healthy sleep-wake cycle through the winter, and get out and enjoy the season!


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, sleep deeply, 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:

Minestrone with Grass-Fed Beef Recipe

Minestrone with Grass-Fed Beef
We’ve removed the pasta from this minestrone but kept many of the traditional flavors. Cubes of beef have replaced beans in this meat-eaters version, but beans could be returned to the soup for vegetarians. Try navy or cannellini. Serves 4.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/2 tbsp basil
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 5 broth, vegetable or beef
  • 1 cup carrots, diced
  • 1/2 cup cauliflower florettes, small pieces
  • 1 1/4 cup celery, diced
  • 1 1/2 cup diced canned tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp fresh parsley, minced
  • 5 garlic, minced cloves
  • 8 oz grass-fed beef sirloin
  • 1/2 cup green beans, diced
  • 2 tbsp hard parmesan cheese, grated
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 cup onions, diced
  • 1 tbsp oregano
  • 1/3 cup red wine
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup spinach, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp tarragon
  • 1 cup zucchini, diced

PREPARATION

  • Cut beef into bite-sized pieces.
  • Heat oil in a large pot and combine onion, garlic, celery, basil, oregano, tarragon, salt and pepper to sauté.
  • Add beef, carrots, and wine and continue sautéing a few more minutes.
  • Add diced tomatoes, zucchini, cauliflower, green beans, and spinach.
  • Add broth and simmer 10 minutes, then add minced parsley.
  • Serve topped with grated hard parmesan.

Why Snowshoeing is the Ultimate Winter Workout

SnowshoeingWhat better way to see out the old, and ring in the New Year than walking on top of the snow, breathing fresh air in a winter wonderland, while melting off inches from holiday indulgence?

Our popular Winter Snowshoe Program is a fun and adventurous way to burn an average of 450 to 550 calories per hour without even knowing it.  If you can walk, you can snowshoe, and unlike cross country skiing, the skills and coordination required are minimal, along with the risk of injury.

Dating back thousands of years, snowshoes were an invention of necessity for travelling by foot by ancient people in Central Asia and the indigenous people of North America, and were then happily adopted by fur traders and trappers. Today’s modern designs employ light weight, high-tech materials and revolutionary binding systems for better control and stability.

Burn Calories…the Fun Way

Along with ski or hiking poles, snowshoeing generates heat like few other activities, and boosts metabolism into a higher fat burning gear. Snowshoeing builds strength and endurance, and enhances cardiovascular capacity. Most importantly, the soft snow absorbs impact, giving your joints a break and reducing repetitive-motion injury.

As in running and walking, snowshoeing primarily strengthens quadriceps, hip flexors, and extensors; and as if that’s not enough, it also works gluteals, hamstrings, calf muscles, and abdominals. The resistance of the snow builds lower-body strength and forces your body to burn more calories. Your metabolism is also boosted because you work several muscle groups simultaneously. Along with trekking poles, your upper body is engaged (triceps, pecs & deltoids) which contributes to the ultimate full body winter-workout.

Let it Snow

Here in the middle of high peak Canadian mountain ranges, we make the most of our natural surroundings all year! We offer the ultimate winter getaway for guests from all over the world who want to end the year right, and start the New Year rested, pampered, rejuvenated, and several pounds lighter than they were. Snowshoers get a chance to smell the pines, get in touch with nature, and play in the great outdoors while rapidly losing weight. 

Snowshoeing is a great way to keep up a winter fitness program and an excellent alternative to going to the gym. It offers something for everyone by conditioning the body, feeding the soul, and providing a way to experience nature up close. Escape this winter to the snow!

The Discomfort of too much “Comfort” Food

Getting a Handle on Emotional Eating

The holiday season is here, and eating healthy can be hard when you are surrounded by temptation. The holidays can also be stressful and trigger psychological reasons to munch, even though we’re not hungry. Whether it’s due to loneliness, or to distract from an issue brewing in our life, it’s tempting to snack or over-eat to fill a void that isn’t in our stomach.Donut

We equate a lot of emotion and nostalgia with food, from associations formed in childhood and clever advertising that equates eating with happiness. But we’re certainly not happy when we gain weight and become burdened by extra pounds, elevated cholesterol, heart disease and Type 2 Diabetes.

Recognizing the triggers that compel you to snack is an empowering eye- opener.  Observe yourself to become aware of your eating habits, and with each mouthful, understand exactly why you are eating, and if you’re really hungry or not.

Eating in response to emotions or certain situations can be a habit well ingrained since childhood. But you can break that habit.  Here’s how:

  • Commit to a daily log of everything you eat, and when. Include a column for writing the reason you’re eating at that time. Is it because you’re hungry or something else?
  • Recognize your eating patterns, and become aware of emotional issues that are “eating you” and trigger you to over-eat.
  • Consider therapies such as counseling, life coaching, or hypnotherapy to address unresolved emotional patterns, and meet with a Nutritionist to establish new food choices.
  • Catch your negative food choices (like reaching for the chips) and choose another action.  Distract your mind by replacing the snack with another activity. Fill up with water or a cup of tea, write in your journal, do something physical like a walk, stretch- you get the idea.  Set new habits in motion, which make you feel better about yourself and motivate you to keep at it!
  • Keep only healthy foods in your kitchen, and stop buying junky snack food.  If you find yourself craving something sweet in the evening, try chamomile tea with honey or natural sweetener, or a few dates instead of chocolate to reward yourself.
  • Relieve stress in other ways besides eating.  You know, that e-word (exercise!), meditation or by doing something creative.
  • Incorporate new routines and activities in your life to reduce boredom, and decrease your “trigger” times. Instead of watching TV, talk to a friend, do housework or a project you’ve put off for too long.

Enjoy the holiday season, knowing your waistline doesn’t have to expand!

Nutrition Tips for Beating the Winter Blues

Part 1 of Blog Series, “Combating Seasonal Affective Disorder” 

By Jennifer Keirstead, Holistic Nutritionist 

Do you get the winter blues, and eat more sugar and junk food than you care to admit?

The weather and season affects our mood and health in profound ways. The lack of sunlight affects our serotonin and melatonin levels, and disrupts our circadian rhythm – the body’s internal clock for sleeping based on exposure to light.

Seasonal Affective Disorder “SAD” is characterized by the onset of depression at certain times of year. Even if you don’t develop all the clinical symptoms of SAD, the most cheerful among us can still feel these seasonal effects.  From low energy, irritability, depression, and cravings for carbohydrates and sweets, the symptoms of SAD can be difficult to manage.

From a Nutritional standpoint, there’s a lot you can incorporate in your diet alone to help your body adapt to the darker days and combat SAD:  winter vegetables

  • Omega 3 fatty acids from food and/or supplement capsules. Dietary sources include hemp seeds and oil, flax meal and oil, wild fish, sesame seeds, walnuts and chia seeds. These fats have a powerful role in helping cells take up essential hormones, including those involved in mood regulation. Having enough Omega 3 in your diet helps prevent depression, heart disease, inflammation, and strengthens the immune system.
  • Eggs from free-range chickens are packed full of choline, which has been shown to regulate mood and energy levels.
  • Sprouted, whole grain breads are easier on the digestive tract than regular wheat bread, and is lower in sugar. This helps prevent your levels of blood sugar from crashing, and will helps maintain our energy and ultimately our mood.
  • Protein is essential for energy and stamina, and helps your brain produce dopamine, norepinephrine, and other neurochemicals that keep you calm yet alert.
  • Fresh, raw vegetables, ideally organic, which are packed full of vitamins, minerals and enzymes.
  • Nutritional supplements such as super greens, Vitamin D and all the B’s are essential to keep your immune system revved up, and have more energy and vitality.

What should you skip in your diet to prevent the winter blues?

Sugar. We know, this isn’t as easy as it sounds but give it a try.  Next time you are feeling particularly low, pass on the cookies and indulge in a serving of sashimi instead. 

Eat well this winter to improve your mood and well being!

Holiday Gifts for Yourself: Part 1

Baby ThoughtsThe Holiday season brings opportunity for travel; do you have a fitness plan to navigate it in a happy and healthy manner? Plan to move your body and you will succeed when most people exercise the least – during the holidays and on the road. This blog will look at fitness strategies for the holidays. Part 2 will tackle strategies for travel.

Exercise is not a seasonal sport! Yet many people let their fitness regimes go by the wayside in late November and throughout December thinking that “the holidays are approaching and I am too busy, under pressure or distracted to work out.” What if we change this strategy to: “During this stressful time of year, I need my exercise more than ever.”

Winter FitnessNext, pick and choose from the list of following strategies you feel you can best follow:

  1. Pre-pay your December workouts.  With a financial commitment, you may get to the gym more often.
  2. Schedule something different or special during December. Take cross country ski or skating lessons. Plan and take an active vacation in early December and return home committed to continue a healthy focus into the holidays and New Year.
  3. Plan a healthy holiday party.  Focus on fitness and fun, not food.  If there’s snow on the ground, meet friends and family for ice skating at a local outdoor rink, downhill skiing at a nearby ski resort or cross country skiing in a convenient park.  In warmer climates meet at a park for a hike or walk or bike ride. If the weather is miserable move the party indoors for a ping pong tournament or dancing.  Instead of post-party guilt and lethargy your guests will leave invigorated and thankful.
  4. Practice healthy gift giving.  Gift certificates for exercise equipment, clothes and footwear, massages, yoga classes, a day spa, a fitness club membership or a personal trainer all make thoughtful gifts. You may need to drop a few hints to your family and friends that you would love to receive fitness related presents.
  5. Announce your healthy intentions ahead of time.  Advise your relatives or friends of your plans to work out during their/your visit.  They will be more understanding of your needs. Invite them join you!
  6. Organize physically active outings for family and friends. Being Canadian, a game of shinny (pond hockey) comes to mind, or tobogganing or building a snowman or snow forts to have snowball fights.  Plan a snowshoe trip to cut your own Christmas tree.  In warmer climates schedule a walk along the seashore or an afternoon of horseback riding.  Coordinate a leisurely bicycle ride. Besides benefiting everyone’s health, group exercise encourages talking, sharing and laughter.

It may be necessary to shift a date or two to accommodate everyone’s busy schedules, but do not skip your December exercise sessions entirely. They are likely to be the most necessary and most appreciated workouts of the year.  With a little healthy planning, you can keep moving – and stay fit – 12 months a year.

Health and Happiness,

Cathy

The Health Benefits of Snowshoeing

Group of People Snowshoeing Through Winter Landscape

When winter rolls around we often get into the headspace that we cannot go outside. It’s cold, it’s wet, we’ll get sick – but nothing could be further from the truth. Here at Mountain Trek we’ve employed snowshoeing as our main fitness component for the winter because quite simply, it’s good for you, it fun, and best of all it’s outside.

Snowshoeing can change your entire relationship with winter, exercise outside helps in alleviating common depression and replacing it with a healthy and wholesome alternative to visiting the gym. Here, we’ll lay out just some of the health benefits of snowshoeing.

Burn Calories

Snowshoeing provides the aerobic workout that you get from running, hiking, or biking; except with snowshoeing, you can actually burn more calories per hour than running. This is because you lift your legs much higher, and must work through more resistance when you’re snowshoeing versus when you’re running. Depending on the difficulty of the terrain, the speed with which you are walking, and the depth of snow, you can burn between 400 and 900 calories per hour!

Build Muscles

Much like running, your quads, hamstrings, and calf muscles will all reap the benefits of your snowshoeing workout. Throw in a set of poles and your back, arms, and shoulders receive a great workout as well. Not to mention uneven ground also works your stabilizer muscles and core, making this a complete full-body workout. The repetitive movement will build strength in these areas, so be sure to stretch and drink plenty of water afterward!

Low Impact

Beyond that, snowshoeing provides a low impact workout that’s easy on the knees. This is because snow acts like a cushion, absorbing shocks and bumps. One of the greatest advantages of snowshoeing is that anyone can do it at any age. Grandparents and grandkids, families, walking clubs can become snowshoe walking clubs in the winter. It’s amazingly versatile and accessible.

Snowshoeing is an enjoyable activity on rural trails and in urban settings. The general rule of thumb is: if there’s snow, you can snowshoe. There’s nothing quite like exploring your local neighborhood or park after a big snowstorm. Go during the day or strap on a headlamp and go exploring after dark in the deep silent white. Take a look at some other ways to stay active during the winter months.


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:

Fun & Fitness in a Winter Wonderland

guy running on snowshoesThere’s so many great reasons to join us at Mountain Trek this winter. As promised, our 7 day “Turkey Burner” will melt away the extra pounds acquired over the holidays while you hike through pristine, snow capped peaks.

Every morning is a reset on the quiet, snow covered mountains circling the lake below our lodge. It’s the quintessential mountain lodge experience.

The Turkey Burner provides all the fitness, weight loss and de-stressing of our summer program as we explore the alpine on showshoes. Snowshoeing burns more calories than regular hiking due to the resistance created by walking through snow. The high tech gear that Mountain Trek provides to guests, allows for anyone of any ability to go anywhere.

3 bowls of soupHearty soups and stews on the trail every day are warming while also being calorie controlled. As ever, the Mountain Trek kitchen cooks up the deeply nourishing and astounding meals for which they have become known. The natural hot springs next door are at their absolute best for soaking after a day of hiking and exercise. Steam billows up around you and snowflakes melt as the hit the water.Finish the day at our timber frame lodge around a crackling fire with hot tea, relaxing in the company of your companions.

If you’re looking for a way to greet the New Year and kick start your resolution for a healthier lifestyle, the Turkey Burner will get you there.