Tips & Advice

Get Tips and Advice from the guides at Mountain Trek. Nutrition, Hiking, Sleep, Detox and Fitness are just some of the topics we cover.

How to detox daily weekly and annually

Clean water pouring into the glass next to the stones on the old wooden table

Q: How should I detox daily, weekly, and annually?

A: Before I just give you a list of “to do’s”, let’s look at the “why” we should detox.

From Mountain Trek’s perspective, detox practices are focused on supporting our natural eliminatory system in removing unwanted substances that put our cells and organs under stress. When certain chemical compounds (plastics, petrochemical substances, etc) or heavy metals (mercury, cadmium, barium, thallium, lead, etc) enter our body through the air we breathe, food we eat, liquids we drink, or by absorption through our semipermeable skin, our liver and kidneys work to filter them out of our blood and expel them by our breath, urine, feces, and sweat. This is a normal bodily function. However, we are currently taking in more toxins than ever before in our human evolution, and it’s taxing our systems to a point where we see hormonal disruption, inflammation, immune system disruption, allergies, and diseases like cancer, and dementia. Our natural systems cannot possibly keep up, so we need to do everything we can to support them.

Here are some ways we can detox daily, weekly, and yearly to support the release of these damaging substances:

Daily Detox Habits:

– Avoid or do your best to minimize contact and use of pesticides like glyphosate, plastics containing BPA and PFAS (Teflon), petroleum-based cosmetics, and cleaning products.
– Choose plant-based products over petroleum-based products, and purchase hypoallergenic unscented cleaners. Visit the Environmental Working Group’s website to learn more.
– The air in our homes is 2-5 times more polluted than outdoors (from chemical off-gassing of paints, carpets, building products)… go for an after-dinner walk and breathe deeply.
– Drink 8 x 10oz glasses of plain filtered water (more if sweating) to help flush the kidneys and keep the bowels moving… maintaining urine color that is pale apple juice.
– Eat fiber-rich foods and as organic as possible (veggies, fruit, complex carbs) to feed the gut biome and sweep the bowels clean targeting a minimum of 1 bowel movement per day.
– Include pre and probiotics to keep up a healthy functioning intestinal tract ecosystem.
– Choose animal protein sources that are wild or organically grass-fed and minimize large and aqua farmed fish to avoid mercury and grain-fed pesticides.
– Eat natural chelators like cilantro, garlic, wild blueberries, chlorella or spirulina algae, and Atlantic dulse seaweed… to bind heavy metals and take them out of the intestinal tract.
– Intermittent Fast (no food for 12 hours between dinner and breakfast) to aid cells in the anti-inflammatory function of recycling and energy production rest called autophagy.
– Exercise daily to increase blood, lymph, and digestive/eliminatory movement… targeting 10,000 steps a day.
– Yoga stretches, twists, and inversions help squeeze and bring circulation into our organs and increase the flow of lymph drainage.
– Soak in a hot tub with Epsom salts (magnesium sulfates, but not from China) to draw toxins out through the pores in your skin and rinse with a cold shower to increase blood circulation.

Weekly Detox Habits:

– Be “alcohol-free” for a day or two to give the liver an anti-inflammatory break from metabolizing it from ethanol to acetic acid.
– Get a full body massage and include lymphatic drainage techniques to support your immune system’s removal of biotoxins and waste.
Dry brush your skin to unplug sweat glands and sebaceous glands from dead skin and skin lotion accumulation to aid sweatings release of toxins.
– Sauna, steam, or mineral spring soak to support toxin elimination through sweating and osmosis… don’t forget the cold plunge or rinse for added circulation benefits.
– Exercise in nature with a walk or fitness hike to breathe fresh highly oxygenated air for 90 or more minutes.

Annual Detox Habits:

– In concert with a Naturopathic Doctor and your MD (found at Functional Medicine or Integrated Health Clinics), consider a water or vegetable juice fast or herbal cleanse to tone liver and kidneys and deeply clean the intestines.
– Again, if tested by a doctor for heavy metal toxicity, one could do a deeper chelation protocol with an intravenous ‘push’ of vitamin C.

We hope these tips help you on your journey to a healthier, less toxic, self.


What is Mountain Trek?

Mountain Trek is the health reset you’ve been looking for. Our award-winning hiking-based health retreat, immersed in the lush nature of British Columbia, will help you unplug, recharge, and roll back years of stress, anxiety, 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:

Q&A: How Do I Stop My After-Work Wine Habit?

Pretty, young woman drinking some nice red wine at home, in the evening after work on her sofa (color toned image; shallow DOF)

Q: How do I stop my after-work wine habit?

A: Making new choices isn’t easy, even when we consciously know what we might prefer to do—such as kicking the after-work wine habit (substitute any post-work relaxation habit you may wish to replace). We are wired, by our survival instincts, to hunt down carbs, fats, and salts, so it’s no wonder our taste buds are a primary means for rest and relaxation in our culture—eating tells us we’re safe. But being seduced by our tongue will often derail our evenings and, subsequently, affect our sleep and following day. If this pattern repeats we will typically wake up one day and find ourselves in a hole that is tough to climb out of. However, one of the blessings of our new work-from-home reality is that we have newfound time to cement new healthy habits. With the additional time once spent on commute and travel, we can now repeat a new action more frequently and anchor it into a healthy lifestyle habit in less time.

Know it’s a need, not a want

It’s very common to want to relax and reward our efforts at the end of the day. Come 5 pm or 8 pm, or whenever it is you get home from work, cortisol (our stress hormone) has been elevated all day, helping us stay focused and on-task with zoom meetings, calls, and a mountain of emails, we’ve made thousands of choices and decisions, and our willpower is spent. Now, our brain is craving a relaxing bath of feel-good neurotransmitters—serotonin, dopamine, and oxytocin—to help us let go of it all. This craving to feel good is actually a “need” we need to be conscious of if we want to make different choices at the end of the day to unwind. Our bodies need to unwind after a full day spent in a stressful, vigilant state. We are wired this way in order to regain some semblance of balance and not physically burn out (aka survive). So, whether it’s that glass of wine or perhaps some chips and guacamole, know that you are consuming these carbs, fats, and salts because of a primal need to slow down and find balance.

Rather than thinking about your post-work choice as a “should” (e.g. I should go work out, or I should eat a healthy snack), remember it’s a “need”. If you don’t proactively answer that need, your body will resort to those feel-good fats, carbs, and salts to comfort itself. Take time to honestly reflect on what need is not being met. Then you can more easily find other sources of pleasure to satiate this need.

Find Alternatives

Here are a few alternatives that could be woven into your workweek as a replacement to snacks and alcohol—proactive, healthy alternatives that will fill your need for feeling good at the end of a stressful workday, lower your cortisol levels, and bathe your body with ‘feel good’ hormones:

  • Pet an animal lovingly for 10 minutes.
  • Go for a 20-minute walk in nature. “Warm-up” your hike by spending the first 5 minutes focusing your awareness on sights, sounds, smells, and even touch. This will slow your mind down and bring it to the present moment, reducing cortisol and anxiety.
  • Meditate in a quiet nurturing place for 5 minutes.
  • Spend 20 minutes working on something creative to get into the ‘flow state’. Some great options are gardening, playing an instrument, writing poetry, or tying fishing flies—anything that captures your attention and is solely for your joy.
  • Connect your mind and body with your breath while unwinding on the yoga mat for 20 minutes.

Document Your Intentions and Experience

Make a list of 3-5 benefits that you might receive by altering your after-work routine. This will give your effort significantly more meaning. Next, write down three obstacles that could derail your efforts and match each of those obstacles with three solutions (contingency options determined in advance). Now you’re fully prepared for any curveballs.

Frequently stop, take a few breaths, and notice thoughts and feelings. Journal (before bed or after awakening is best) the insights you have noticed about your sleep, digestion, moods, mental focus, energy levels, and replacement choices. Be curious. This will help you notice and appreciate the benefits of your new habit-to-be.

Manage Cues

Cues are triggers for your bad habit. Common cues are time of day, such as happy hour, physically seeing your favorite bottle sitting on the counter when you walk in from work, your emotions, such as stress or exhaustion, and people that you may typically drink with. You should let your best friends know that you’re working on changing your habits, so when you decline their invites for happy hour, they understand why.

Create Your Own Positive Cues

Replace negative cues with positive ones. Consider setting an alarm on your phone right at 5 pm reminding you of your goals and suggesting one of your replacement actions. Write a note to yourself and stick it to your wine fridge. Put a sticky note on your office door that reminds you of your goals right as you leave work. There are so many other creative ways to help you snap out of the post-work trance and make a mindful decision on how you want to spend your evening.

Be Kind To Yourself

Do your best to be kind to yourself as you start the processes of nurturing yourself (rather than soothing or numbing) after work. Strive not for perfection, or you can certainly expect internal rebellion. Take baby steps on your journey up the mountain. Begin by setting goals that are seemingly trivial—e.g. one night a week where you have a healthy after-work activity. Then, after a few weeks of this, move on to two nights a week. Stop at no more than 5 nights a week to leave yourself room to be human.


What is Mountain Trek?

Mountain Trek is the health reset you’ve been looking for. Our award-winning hiking-based health retreat, immersed in the lush nature of British Columbia, will help you unplug, recharge, and roll back years of stress, anxiety, 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:

Pros and Cons of Keto, Whole30 + Intermittent Fasting

cutting board and knife with healthy nutritious vegetables and eggs

Are you thinking about trying a new diet? Quick fixes that jolt our systems are tempting to turn to, but we encourage lasting lifestyle changes. While fad diets may be tempting, there are both pros and cons to Keto, Whole30, and Intermittent Fasting.

No diet is worth doing if you can’t do it for the rest of your life.

We asked our nutritionist Jenn Keirstead to weigh in on a couple of popular diet fads. She details how restrictive programs can lead to yo-yo dieting – rapid weight loss followed by a rebound that sees you gaining everything, and sometimes even more, back – and why you should invest in a sustainable long-term nutrition plan.

Pros and Cons of the Keto Diet

The Ketogenic diet is a high-fat, adequate-protein, low-carbohydrate diet that in medicine is used primarily to treat epilepsy in children. The diet forces the body to burn fat rather than carbohydrates.

At its core, this is an extreme version of the low-carb diet. When you deprive your body of all carbohydrates, your body must use ketones as fuel. To put your body in a state of ketosis, around 80% of your diet must come from fat.

Pros of Keto

Promotes healthy fats

In the 90s, fat got a bad rap, but it’s crucial to our bodies. Fats, (animal-sourced or otherwise) can offer an excellent variety of fat, protein, and vitamins. However, it’s extremely important to source the highest quality. Look for certified organic, grass-fed/pasture-raised, or visit your local Farmers’ Market and talk to people responsible for raising your food.

Besides promoting a diet ample in healthy fats, there’s not much else that is terribly healthy or sustainable about this highly restrictive eating style.

Cons of Keto

Cuts out key nutrients

The Ketogenic diet is one of the most restrictive diets on the market. Your diet is limited to 15-20 grams of carbohydrates/day — the equivalent of a small handful of baby carrots. This leaves out most fruits and vegetables, which can deliver crucial nutrients.

Unsustainable

This biggest issue with this diet is what will happen once the person adds carbohydrates back into their diets. Hint: you might gain some of that weight back.

Pros and Cons of the Whole30 Diet

Whole30 is a 30-day fad diet that emphasizes whole foods and during which participants eliminate sugar, alcohol, grains, legumes, soy, and dairy from their diets. Whole30 is similar to but more restrictive than the paleo diet, as adherents may not eat natural sweeteners like honey or maple syrup.

Whole30 has gained popularity due to its “challenge program” style, which is designed to restart your body and change how you think about food. This diet is described as a whole foods approach to eating, and I’m certainly an advocate of eating real food.

Pros of Whole30

Introduces a variety of whole foods

The advantage of experimenting with a diet such as this is that you’re introduced to many new, healthful foods. Whole food types of diets tend to involve more time spent in the kitchen. Cooking from home can be a wonderful way to gain more control over the quality of your food, which of course, is a fantastic advantage to your health.

Cons of Whole30

Cuts out food groups we love

The challenge is not just to eliminate processed and packaged foods from your life for 30 days — You are also instructed to avoid beans/legumes, starchy vegetables, dairy, grains, sugar (including natural sweeteners), and alcohol. From our vantage point, moderate amounts of beans, legumes, dairy, and grains are good for your body. Unless you plan on never eating them again, you risk putting the weight right back on once you reintroduce them.

Too restrictive

One of the common cautions you’ll hear related to Whole30 is how restrictive it is. It’s a diet based on highly rigid rules and “slip-ups” are unfortunately unacceptable. If you “slip” you start over. The rules may make it feel impossible to be successful on a diet like this, and like many challenges or diets, that can be detrimental to one’s self-esteem. Restrictive behaviors with food may also trigger disordered eating in susceptible individuals.

Pros and Cons of Intermittent Fasting

Intermittent fasting, or intermittent calorie restriction, is an umbrella term for various diets that cycle between a period of fasting and non-fasting during a defined period.

Intermittent fasting includes everything from periodic multi-day fasts to skipping a meal or two on certain days of the week. The theory is that this type of diet will help decrease appetite by slowing the body’s metabolism.

Pros of Intermittent Fasting

The body should take some breaks between eating

Fasting can be beneficial, and we believe it’s best done in the evening, continuing on throughout the night while you’re sleeping. An earlier dinner allows for 3-4 hours before bed without food, which helps support proper digestion and — as an added bonus —potentially a much deeper sleep.

You’ll feel hungry when you wake

Another benefit is you will feel hungry when you wake and therefore be encouraged to eat during the earlier part of the day when you’re more likely to burn the calories off. Studies also show that our hormones, enzymes, and digestive systems are biologically best prepared for food intake in the morning and early afternoon.

Cons of Intermittent Fasting

Can cause overeating

There’s a strong biological push to overeat following fasting periods. Your appetite hormones and the hunger center in your brain go into overdrive when you are deprived of food.

Unbalances blood sugar levels

Restricting calories during the day can lead to unbalanced blood sugar levels, which not only promotes low energy levels but the desire to overeat at the end of the day when the body is gearing down for sleep. The idea of “rest, not digest” is a concept that assists in the digestion of your food hours before bedtime, so that your body can fall into a deep sleep on an empty stomach. This also promotes hunger in the early morning, when your body needs the calories the most.

In a nutshell, fads deliver quick results – they don’t provide long-term solutions. Rapid health resets can be beneficial, but know what you’re getting into. Find a wellness approach you can commit to, if not for life, for the foreseeable future. Learn more about our approach to balanced nutrition.


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 and featuring daily sunrise yoga and night-time restorative yoga, will help you unplug, recharge, and roll back years of stress, anxiety, 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:

What The Navy SEALs Can Teach You About Yoga

Strong Man Practicing Yoga bend over grabbing toes

The Navy SEALs practice yoga in a very specific way to create balance across their physical, mental, and emotional abilities. So should you.

While the Navy SEALs are some of the toughest, strongest, most resilient people on earth, Clair Diab, a former military yoga instructor notes, “they often need more flexibility and balance”, and due to the high-stress nature of their job, a lot of SEALs constantly battle anxiety, poor sleep, and potentially, PTSD.

Recently, the SEALs incorporated yoga into their training. But not just any yoga—they introduced a highly specialized practice with specific means to a specific end. They found that a sensory-enhanced yoga which includes a unique combination of physical yoga (Hatha), breathing techniques (Pranayama), meditation, and relaxation, not only improves flexibility, posture, and balance, but reduces anxiety, improves sleep, and helps the SEALs feel calmer. Additionally, they brought breathing, meditation, and visualization into combat-conditioning exercises to improve mental balance, focus, and control in all circumstances. Combining the physical prowess of a Navy SEAL with the mental clarity of a monk is a strong recipe for success. But it’s not just any yoga that drives these results, it’s a specific practice or combination of practices that led to their success, and the same should be true for you.

Explore the many varieties of yoga

Think of yoga as a tree. Its roots go back to India some 3,000 years ago when meditating monks noticed how stiff they were getting from sitting for long hours each day (sound familiar?). Observing how flexible the wild and even domestic animals were around them they started incorporating animal-like stretching. Hatha, or physical yoga, was born and became the first root of the tree. Over time, Raja yoga was developed with more of a focus on meditation, Bhakti yoga rested in the emotional and devotional sphere, Jnana yoga anchored in the scriptures and wisdom path, Karma yoga rooted with an emphasis on selfless service, and Tantra brings an esoteric and ritual approach to meeting the Divine in all aspects of life. These forms of yoga became the other roots of the tree.

Over centuries, Hatha yoga has evolved, and now incorporates a lot of the other, less physical, forms, and techniques. For example, Shavasana pose, where you lay on your back at the end of class and attempt to find complete stillness in mind and body, was not originally part of Hatha yoga. Today, this pose is included at the end of almost every yoga class. In the 1950s, Hatha yoga was brought to the west, and it’s evolution accelerated, morphing over the past 70 years into almost as many versions as there are types of fruits.

This evolution provides you an opportunity to do exactly what the Navy SEALs have done, and find or create a unique practice—one that will not only benefit your specific body, but also your specific mind, heart, and soul. Perhaps that is found at one studio, or perhaps you find a combination of two or even three practices that help you strike a balance and take your health to the next level. The teacher will be a key component to your safety, enjoyment, and health benefits, so don’t be afraid to try a few different classes to find a yogic style, and instructor, that is right for you.

Listed below are a few schools to consider as you build a practice that creates balance in your physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health:

– Iyengar: fundamental beginners focus on holding and exploring the alignment and basic structures of the poses (asanas), gaining flexibility, balance, natural posture, and inner and physical strength

– Vinyasa: links asanas together with the breath into a gentle flow

– Ashtanga: adds a more athletic approach to the Vinyasa flow

– Bikram: a 105 degree heated room warms the muscles and adds sweating as a detox benefit to the mental and physical stamina gained from holding the same 26 poses each class

– Forrest: one of many ‘hot’ yogas but adds emotional exploration to the physical challenge

– Ishta: a flow sequence with added meditation, breathwork, and Ayurvedic cleansing techniques

– Jivamukti: a physically rigorous and intellectually stimulating focus with chanting, breathwork, and spiritual alignment to ‘non-harming’, supporting veganism and animal rights

– Kundalini: a rigorous collection of asanas, meditations, and intense breathwork designed to awaken ones psychoenergetic force (Kundalini) for spiritual elevation

So, while your local yoga gym may be full of lululemon-laden warriors pumping through a yoga class just to tone and tighten, remember there is a vast world of yoga out there waiting for you. A world that will lead to balanced health across your mind, body, and spirit. Take a step into the unknown and enjoy your exploration.


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 and featuring daily sunrise yoga and night-time restorative yoga, will help you unplug, recharge, and roll back years of stress, anxiety, 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:

Q&A: How do I calm my anxiety?

woman sitting on floor with hand on head

Q: How do I calm my anxiety?

A: According to Harvard’s health scientists, anxiety and it’s family of stress disorders affect over 40 million Americans, and now with the fears generated from the COVID pandemic, it is on the rise.

Anxiety and stress-related disorders cover a range from general anxiety and constant worry, to various phobias, social anxiety, obsessive-compulsive behaviors, panic attacks, and post-traumatic stress disorder. Though anxiety is part of our survival toolkit that keeps us wary of life-threatening situations, if everyday events continuously trigger reactions and it persists into weeks or months, it can be debilitating.

Research has made it clear that traumatic experiences in early childhood or child-parent attachment difficulties set us up for a higher likelihood of anxiety in our adult life. These unattended stressors can affect the size of parts of our brain responsible for fear, and memory, as well as levels of stress and mood-enhancing hormones and neurotransmitters. These imbalances can then predispose us to react to fearful triggers, perceived or imagined, in our day to day life. Unconsciously, these triggers initiate thoughts and emotions that can limit and even paralyze our interactions with life’s unforeseen events and relationships with others. This is when anxiety controls our lives.

Up until very recently the only remedy to anxiety, and it’s common partner depression, has been medication and talk therapy. But with our increased understanding of our genetics, brain, nervous system, hormone and neurotransmitter roles, and even our gut health, there are more options for treatment than ever before.

Here is a list of ways how to calm anxiety. Though research into success rates is ongoing, the majority of health professionals agree that using two treatments has more success than depending on just one.

Medications

SSRI’s (Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors) are most commonly prescribed for anxiety and depression. They help maintain serotonin and norepinephrine levels in the brain (both key mood-enhancing neurotransmitters). There are also medications that adjust dopamine, another “feel-good” and motivation supporting neurotransmitter. And others that help regulate our stress hormone, cortisol. As with all medications, there can be side-effects, and it can take time to calibrate the correct dosage, so work closely with your doctor with these medications as each of us is unique in how we respond to them.

Herbal supplements and essential oils

Herbal supplements and essential oils can be supportive in quelling symptoms of anxiety and chronic stress. A Dr. of Naturopathic Medicine can test your hormonal balance and offer suggestions for specific remedies and dosage. Some common herbs that have been used for centuries are St. John’s wort, passionflower, and valerian root. Research is continuing on the efficacy of essential oils like lavender and rose, which have been used for relaxation and sleep aid in Europe for centuries as well.

Gut health

Pro and prebiotic support for a healthy balance of bacteria in our intestines have shown to increase the production of serotonin.

Exercise

Regular exercise helps move energy in the body, and releases pain-blocking endorphins which also elevate our general mood while helping the body get tired for sleep. And sleep is a paramount resource for neurological and hormonal balance.

Limit triggers

Certain situations, and people, can trigger each of us differently by stimulating old traumas, doubts, and fears that can cascade into worry and helplessness. Avoid stimulants like too much news, media, and screen time as well as caffeine products.

Stress-releasing activities

Nature immersion, yoga, meditation, creative pursuits, petting an animal, massage, and gardening all lower cortisol and release neurotransmitters like serotonin, dopamine, and oxytocin, reducing anxiety.

Psycho-emotional therapy

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) has been successful in helping people recognize their stressors, and feelings and thoughts that trigger anxiety. Its success with PTSD is based on strategies of desensitization and life skill management.

Relational Somatic Therapy (RST) is a body-centric approach that allows the brain to re-wire reactive patterns by supporting the client to explore self resourcing techniques for the arising of anxious thoughts or emotions. This school of therapy does not try to eliminate triggers relating to trauma or attachment issues, but instead build the awareness and tolerance of triggers that arise in everyday life.

Hypnosis, BioFeedback, Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing, and Repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation are all new therapies that are being researched and are showing success for various people from war veterans to socially shy teenagers.

Because we are all unique individuals with differences in genetics, family history, hormonal balance, responses to traumatic events, diets, and lifestyles, there is no one magic cure-all for anxiety, depression, or stress disorders. Get professional advice and experiment with different treatments while keeping a journal on your stress triggers, moods, energy levels, thoughts, and feelings. Learn how to creating healthy habits to reduce your anxiety. Don’t despair as anxiety and stress disorders can be managed and if we seek appropriate support, a free, happy life will be lived.


What is Mountain Trek?

Mountain Trek is the health reset you’ve been looking for. Our award-winning hiking-based health retreat, immersed in the lush nature of British Columbia, will help you unplug, recharge, and roll back years of stress, anxiety, 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:

the truth about Superfoods

Various superfoods in bowl on gray background

To be truly super, create a super-plate!

The term “Superfood” has taken on a life of its own.

Superfoods are commonly defined as “a nutrient-rich food considered to be especially beneficial for health and well-being,” and consist primarily of dark green leafy vegetables, berries, fish, nuts, healthy oils (e.g. olive oil or avocado oil), and a few other nutrient power-houses.

There is an alternate definition, however, that you should be aware of: “Superfood is a marketing term for food assumed to confer health benefits resulting from an exceptional nutrient density”. There are a couple of critical words in that definition; “marketing term” and “assumed”.

Harvard Medical school points out, in the first line of their article on Superfoods, “No single food — not even a superfood — can offer all the nutrition, health benefits, and energy we need to nourish ourselves”. The idea that the term Superfood is being used as a trendy marketing tool gives us cause for concern—not with the Superfoods themselves, but with our understanding and knowledge of how to include Superfoods into our diet. What we want to avoid is the belief that a single food, a Superfood, is all you need to have a healthy diet that prevents illness and disease and elongates your life.

Take the company Laird Superfood, for example. Their company was founded by surf legend Laird Hamilton on the principle that if he added some Superfood nutrients to his coffee, his day would be off to an optimal start. While this may increase the nutritional value of your coffee, this should by no means replace a proper, wholesome breakfast, as it’s advertised. It’s this type of thinking we want to prevent. In reality, breakfast is the most critical meal of the day—eating a balanced, whole-food breakfast will help balance your hormones and has been proven to increase anabolic metabolism by 15%. It should be so much more than just a cup of coffee supplemented with a few nutrients.

Superfoods can certainly be nutritious, but the term can often be more useful for driving sales than providing optimal nutrition recommendations

When food is given superfood status it may cause people to focus on a few specific foods, limiting them from eating other equally nutritious options that aren’t as hyped. Variety in your diet is important not only to gain the benefit of eating a wide array of essential vitamins and minerals, but also to prevent one from eating too much (or too little) of a particular nutrient. It also keeps your meals interesting and flavorful!

Eat Super Plates, not just Superfoods

All whole, unprocessed foods are super in different ways! The more diversity of whole foods you consume, the more varied your nutrient profile will be. When there are increased varieties of nutrients in your diet, it offers more protection against disease and illness. Instead of focusing on just one Superfood, we suggest thinking about creating Superplates by incorporating a wide variety of whole foods.

The healthiest diets of the world are all different, and include a wide variety of foods that offer diverse nutrient profiles. When studying cultural diets across the globe, you’ll see that there’s no one perfect diet. Each diet offers different food grown in those specific regions. In other words, you don’t need the Himalayan goji berry in your diet to achieve your best health. Goji berries are often called a superfood because they contain chemical compounds called phytochemicals that are produced by plants. You can find similar health benefits in everyday fruits and veggies, like organic rainbow carrots, fresh leafy green vegetables, and even cauliflower and broccoli.

A delicious blueberry is another great example of a holy grail superfood that ranks high on superfood lists. For good reason, yes! Purple and dark red colored foods are the signatures of a special class of natural antioxidants called anthocyanins. Antioxidants are extremely important, as they reduce inflammation, and help to remove harmful substances from the body. However, the blueberry isn’t the only food with this color; you’ll also find anthocyanins in red cabbage, red onion, purple carrots, and beautiful beets.

Balanced plates lead to balanced health

Over two decades of helping people reset their health and find a sustainable lifestyle, we have found that in order to reach our most optimal health it’s best to have a balance of fitness, nutrition, sleep, stress management, and detoxification. Someone who is fit and able to run a marathon, but only sleeps 4 hours a night, is not healthy. Someone who eats properly, but sits all day, is not healthy. So too goes this principle of balance for nutrition and Superfoods—we cannot just eat one superfood and be healthy. We must eat a balanced Superplate, full of a wonderful variety of whole foods, to have a sustainable diet that provides tons of energy, nutrients, and antioxidants. A diet that will leave YOU feeling SUPER.


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:

Q&A: How do I stay safe and cool when hiking in the summer heat?

Q: I am aching to go hiking and get out of the house, but it’s hot out. How do I stay safe and cool when hiking in the summer heat?

A: Exercising outdoors has multiple health benefits including a 30% increase in calorie burn (compared to the same exercise and exertion indoors), a lowering of the stress hormone cortisol, and brain bathing of our “feel-good” neurotransmitters: dopamine, serotonin, and oxytocin. However, if we are used to a temperature and humidity controlled environment (gym or home), we need to incorporate some care before launching ourselves into mother nature’s arms as heat exhaustion or worse, heatstroke, can be dangerous and debilitating. Consider these tips:

Pre-hike:

  • Check the forecast and choose your days and activities when there is cloud cover and the UV index is lower. Be especially careful if going out on days when the UV index is 7 or higher.
  • Avoid mid-day sun, when UV rays are the strongest. Plan your hike for earlier in the day (early bird gets the worm!) or later to catch a sunset (bring a headlamp in this case).
  • If the humidity is high, lower your workout intensity to avoid overheating. Sweating, our body’s cooling mechanism, is more difficult when it is humid.
  • Make sure to hydrate and eat before heading out. Beyond energy requirements, proper nutrition will help with hydration.
  • Take a high-quality electrolyte 1-2 hours before going out on the trail (we use Vega products, which don’t have added sugar, making them much healthier than an alternative electrolyte drink like Gatorade). Electrolytes help your body retain moisture.
  • Wear the proper clothing for hot weather hiking. A wide-brimmed hat will keep the sun off of your face and neck. Light colors will reflect the sun. Loose, breathable clothing will allow ventilation. And a neck cover, such as a bandana, will come in handy. We typically recommend wool, but it’s a hot fabric, so for really hot weather, opt for thin cotton or a synthetic fabric. However, always wear a high-quality pair of wool socks, no matter what the temperature. Proper foot care is critical!

During-hike:

  • Make sure to stay hydrated on the trail. At Mountain Trek, we have a few sayings to help guests remember to drink water while hiking. “See water, hear water, drink water” is a favorite if you’re hiking along a creek or in the alpine amongst lakes. Another tip is to use a water bladder (one that holds at least 3 liters). If positioned correctly, the hose can be a constant reminder to hydrate, and to do so without stopping! You should aim to drink half of a liter per hour, but when it’s hot, you may need to increase that amount.
  • Look for shade to protect your skin. Stop in the shade for your longer water and snack breaks.
  • Wet your hat or bandanna in a cool stream or with your water bottle to keep your head and neck cool, two areas that significantly dictate our overall body temperature.
  • Acclimatize to the heat by incrementally increasing your exercise intensity over a few days. This will get your body used to the experience of exercising in the heat and will help you practice for longer days out on the trail.
  • Go with a friend for support and safety. It’s always a good idea to hike with a buddy.
  • Be aware of early warning signs of heat exhaustion: muscle cramping, lightheadedness, dizziness, headache, excessive sweating, confusion or irritability, increased heart rate, vision problems. If sensing any of these, stop in a shaded area, hydrate, and cool off.

Post-hike:

  • Continue to hydrate for the remainder of the day.
  • Keep a cooler in your car with icepacks, cold drinks and a cold washcloth. When you return, place the cool washcloth on your head or neck and enjoy your cold beverage, allowing your core temperature to lower again before driving home.

We hope these tips and tricks help you enjoy the summer heat safely. Enjoy your time on the trail.


What is Mountain Trek?

Mountain Trek is the health reset you’ve been looking for. Our award-winning hiking-based 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:

Q&A: What is inflammation, and how do I reduce it?

Exhausted businesswoman having a headache in modern office. Mature creative woman working at office desk with spectacles on head feeling tired. Stressed casual business woman feeling eye pain while overworking on desktop computer.

Q: What is inflammation, and how do I reduce it?

A: Acute inflammation is a natural healing and protection response from our immune system. Think of your ankle swelling from an accidental roll on the tennis court. The body floods the joint with plasma and immune repair cells to inhibit movement so the soft tissue can mend. Or, perhaps you get a seasonal runny nose when pollens enter your sinus and the mucous membranes swell and release antibodies to remove the unwanted threat that your body deems dangerous. In both these instances, the immune system creates inflammation in a response to danger or injury. This is healthy.

Chronic inflammation, on the other hand, is not healthy

Chronic Inflammation is the root cause of 75-90% of today’s illnesses (according to the Cleveland Clinic). If our immune system is continuously taxed as it fights to remove incoming viruses, bacteria, antigens, chemicals or plastics, we can trigger stress on our organs and endocrine (hormone) system.

Research is now seeing Chronic Inflammation as the underlying stress leading to heart disease, metabolic disease, cancers, and even depression and anxiety. The same triggers that lead to ongoing inflammation are also seen as potential contributors to autoimmune illnesses such as Type 2 diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, Hashimoto’s (hypothyroidism), and Inflammatory Bowel Diseases (IBS). And, autoimmune diseases also create more inflammation as the body’s immune cells get confused and start attacking the body instead of the intruders.

Unmanaged stress from trauma, whether psycho-emotional or physical is a key factor in inflammation. Research is showing an extremely strong connection between the nervous system, hormonal system, and immune systems. Chronic stressors that come into the body through the digestive, and respiratory systems, or absorbed through the skin like toxic chemicals, food allergens, or bacteria have an easier time defeating a suppressed immune system when cortisol is continuously elevated.

It all may sound a bit of doom and gloom, but fear not! Here are a few strategies to support your immune system and lower inflammation. Some of these strategies are also beneficial to those suffering from autoimmune illnesses to support a state of remission.

How to Reduce Inflammation

  • Support the eliminatory system with a fiber and probiotic-rich plant-based diet, and lots of fresh water
  • Minimize the ‘sour 8’ foods (gluten, lactose, casein, soy, corn syrup, alcohol, sugar, nightshade vegetables) and other unique dietary antigens, after having a food sensitivity test by a certified Naturopathic ND
  • Consider mineral supplements like vitamin D and C to support immune cells and the B’s to lower stress
  • Add anti-inflammatory foods into your diet, for example, turmeric, omega 3 oil, brassica vegetables, and sauerkraut
  • Get regular exercise and target 10,000 steps a day to keep the circulatory system moving toxins out of the body
  • Sleep deeply and regularly 7-9 hrs, as deep non-REM sleep is when the immune system goes to work
  • Intermittent fast for 12 hrs between dinner and breakfast allowing cells to ‘clean-up and recycle’ via autophagy
  • Manage mental and psycho-emotional stress with meditation, nature immersion, massage, and somatic therapy
  • Avoid petrochemicals, pesticides, and plastics as much as possible, as most are considered hormone disruptors
  • Support your eliminatory system to release toxic chemistry with infrared saunas or steams, massage and chelation foods like cilantro and spirulina

We hope that this gives you a good understanding of what causes inflammation in the body and how to reduce it.


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:

How To Reset Your Health In 48 Hours

a woman sitting on a hiking trail meditating
While you might be able to buy into the idea that spending an entire week eating healthfully, hiking through lush nature, sleeping well, exercising, and detoxifying will do wonders for your mind and body (what we do here at Mountain Trek on a weekly basis), you might be shocked to hear that with the right strategy and a little bit of motivation, you can make a profound impact on your health in just 48 hours. That means that in just one weekend, you can right the ship, take the reins, and restore the balance of your health. It’s not a walk in the park (well, you actually might take a walk in the park) but your body will thank you for dedicating just one single weekend to it.

We’ve been running our Basecamp weekend retreats in response to COVID, where guests spend one weekend (Friday 3 pm—Sunday evening) following our program and working, virtually, alongside our expert team, and we have to say—the results have been absolutely amazing. Participants are feeling significantly lighter, recharged, and reset—genuinely excited to be back on the horse and galloping towards a healthier, happier version of themselves. We’ve distilled what happens during this amazing weekend into an easy to follow 4-step guide, so you can reset your health in the span of 48 hours, on your own, and emerge from a healthy weekend feeling like the best version of yourself.

Step 1) Make a bulletproof schedule

The last thing you want to be doing all weekend is constantly trying to decide “what’s next”. This will prevent you from fully sinking into the weekend. Sit down and write your 48-hour schedule on a piece of paper. Make sure to include the following critical elements:

  • Nutrition—eat 6 times per day, starting immediately upon waking, and consume your calories within a 12-hour window. Give your metabolism a break for the other 12 hours (Intermittent Fasting). Eat most of your calories early in the day and then taper off moving towards night-time. Eat organic, plant-based food when available, and avoid processed food, added sugar, and alcohol.
  • Fitness—move your body as much as possible throughout the day. We weren’t designed to sit, so let’s try to do as little of that as possible this weekend. Time your exercise for after your meals, to begin understanding the value of food as fuel, not a coping mechanism. Begin your day with yoga (after a smoothie), then after breakfast do a HIIT or other functional fitness class. After lunch, spend a long time outside in nature, walking for either 40 minutes at a vigorous pace, or 90 minutes at a leisurely rate. Then, following dinner, tackle one more functional fitness class and end your night with restorative yoga.
  • Sleep—after a full day of exercise and eating properly, you have some of the building blocks for great sleep. Go the extra mile to ensure not only enough sleep hours, but enough depth. Take a warm bath with Epsom salts and lavender oil 90 minutes prior to bed, don’t let your phone cross the threshold of your room, ensure your room is the right temperature and is dark, and do a relaxation technique while laying down. Read our full guide to great sleep for more tips.
  • Stress relief/management—make sure to include relaxation time. Mindfulness is a highly potent tool for stress relief. If you already have a practice, carve our a large chunk of time of your weekend to dive deeper than you have in the past. If mindfulness is new to you, take this weekend as an opportunity to dip your toes in. Schedule a couple of 5-10 minute guided meditations sessions, ideally early in the morning and then again before bed.

Creating a schedule can be difficult, so we’re happy to share ours. If you actually want to follow along, all of the recipes and exercises are linked (click the image first), and you can find a shopping list below

Step 2) Prepare for success

Once your schedule is in place, it’s time to commit and get ready to immerse in the weekend. There are three critical components to preparing:

  • Ensure you have the right equipment—for our schedule, you need the following:
    • Kitchen with basic cooking tools
    • Blender
    • Yoga mat
    • Yoga strap (could be a belt or tie, etc.)
    • Firm blanket or pillow (for morning yoga)
    • 3 large firm pillows (e.g. couch cushions—for restorative yoga)
    • Light weights (2-5lbs) or substitute (soup cans or water bottles)
    • Running shoes
    • A chair (used for stability during exercise classes)
    • Water bottle
  • Shop for your ingredients 2-3 days prior to the weekend—view a shopping list for our schedule.
  • Remove as many distractions as possible—carve out this time for you. It’s only 48 hours, so almost everything can wait. Tell your friends, family, and colleagues that you are going to immerse yourself into this experience and request they only call, text or email if it’s an emergency. This will reduce your stress and anxiety. Get baby sitters for the kids if you have them, or make a plan with your partner to watch them for the weekend. Be selfish for just this one weekend.

Step 3) Instill accountability

We’ve talked the talk. It’s time to walk the walk. While investing in an experience like Mountain Trek and spending time with our expert staff, whether that be a full week at the lodge to really dive deep into your health transformation or just a weekend for a quick tune-up, will provide you the accountability you need to succeed, it isn’t always an option. Fortunately, there are plenty of tools and tricks to instill accountability on your own:

  • Form a “tribe”—the best thing you could possibly do is gather a small group of your closest allies and do the healthy weekend reset together. Sharing your experience with others has been proven to dramatically increase your chances of success and will make the experience more memorable and enriching. Create a group text thread dedicated to the weekend and have nightly Zoom calls to touch base and discuss your experience and progress.
  • Share your intentions—if no one is able to join you, share what you are attempting to accomplish with a close friend, family member, or colleague. Detail to them what you are doing the healthy weekend and what you are hoping to accomplish. Ask them to check in with you on Sunday about how it went. Just knowing that someone else is aware of your goals will hold you accountable.
  • Set a reward—completing your healthy weekend reset is a big deal and a positive experience. These accomplishments deserve rewards, not only to keep you working towards the goal, but to create a positive association with accomplishing such endeavors. Write your reward down prior to beginning your weekend and stick it on the fridge as a reminder.

Step 4) Turn healthy actions into habits

Once your 48-hours are up, you need to capture the momentum you worked so hard to create to ensure your health stays pointed in the right direction. A 48-hour reset is not a justification to go binge on bad habits—it is a leveling-up, a beginning of a new chapter, a fresh start. To keep your compass pointed towards your “true north”, we need to cement your new habits so they become part of your lifestyle.

Building habits is a skill, and can be tricky at times. At Mountain Trek, we follow a six-step process to build healthy habits—ones that are truly sustainable:

  1. Identify your health and wellness goals—this one is easy. Just write down all of your goals. Try to be as specific as possible, however.
  2. Redesign your goals to optimize for success—make sure your goal is SMART; specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time-anchored. Setting a SMART goal immediately doubles your chance of success.
  3. Simplify—pick a maximum of two goals from step 1.
  4. Set a weekly target—start small. Aim for doing your healthy action two, maybe three times each week, then grow from there.
  5. Monitor your progress and adjust if needed—write your goal down in a journal, keep a piece of paper handy with a tally, track it using your online calendar, or, you can use either Mountain Trek’s Health & Habit Building App, which will keep track of your progress for you, or our simple goal tracker. Whatever tool you decide to use, it’s important to monitor your activity, notice when you’re falling behind and congratulate yourself when you are achieving your goals.
  6. Reward your intention—whether you are successful or not, you need to reward yourself for your intention to do your best. Rewards can be small or big, simple or complex.

You now have a proven strategy to reset your health in the course of just one weekend. We hope you take the time to invest in your health, you need and deserve it now more than ever. Be compassionate to yourself throughout the process and don’t worry if it doesn’t all go to plan. There will most likely be hiccups along the way. The important part is that you committed to a healthy weekend—to yourself—and you made your best effort.

If the above is daunting to tackle on your own, we would be more than honored to have you join us for one of our upcoming Basecamp weekend retreats, where our expert team will do all of the work listed above for you, so all you need to do is show up and give it your best.

Good luck, stay healthy, and keep moving!


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: