Mastering Menopause

Mastering Menopause

Mastering Menopause

We cannot pretend menopause is not going to happen. We cannot wish it away, or hope that it won’t happen to us.

We also cannot think that it won’t affect us. It will, and it will affect those around us too.

So, instead of putting out the fires and the hot flashes as they happen, let’s start learning what changes to our lifestyle and mindset we need to make to give us the greatest impact.

Yes? YES!

What’s the difference, perimenopause and menopause?

Perimenopause happens 8 to 10 years before menopause, when the ovaries gradually produce less estrogen. It usually starts in a woman’s 40s, but it can start in her 30s as well.

Perimenopause lasts up until menopause, which is the point when the ovaries stop releasing eggs (ie. we stop having periods).

To be fully out of perimenopause and menopause (medically speaking), we need to be without a menstrual cycle for one full year.

How will I know when I am postmenopausal?

A woman is considered to be postmenopausal when she has not had her period for an entire year.

Measuring through a blood test called the follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) level is another way to determine if you are postmenopausal.

FSH is a hormone produced by the pituitary gland (located at the base of the brain). However, the routine use of the FSH test is not needed to help the vast majority of women. Sometimes, the levels can be misleading since the levels go up and down during the transition into menopause.

What are the heck are the symptoms?

  • Hot flashes
  • Night sweats and/or cold flashes
  • Vaginal dryness; discomfort during sex
  • Urinary urgency (the need to pee more often)
  • Difficulty sleeping and/or staying asleep
  • Emotional changes (irritability, anger, mood swings, depression)
  • Dry skin, eyes or mouth
  • Brain fog

Women who are perimenopausal also have this barrel of fun to look forward to:

  • Racing heart rates
  • Headaches
  • Joint and muscle aches and pain
  • Changes to sex drive
  • Weight gain
  • Hair loss or thinning
  • Acne

Can my lifestyle trigger the symptoms of peri and menopause?

A number of the symptoms of menopause can be set off and intensified by lifestyle choices. For instance, the following have been known to trigger hot flashes:

  • Stress
  • Caffeine (this sucks)
  • Alcohol (this really sucks)
  • Spicy foods
  • Hot foods
  • Cigarette smoke
  • Sugar
  • Refined carbohydrates
  • Fatty cuts of meat

What else can go wrong, after 40?

On top of all of our menopause and perimenopause symptoms, we also have age-related changes happening to the body.

Why we are getting fat

The big reason why we gain weight after the age of 40 is because we are losing a percentage of our lean muscle mass, each and every year.

Muscle tissue burns more calories than any other tissue in the body, both at rest and at work. So, when our lean muscle mass decreases our metabolism takes a nosedive.

Click here to learn how to become a better fat-burning machine.

After the age of 30, women can expect to lose as much as 3% to 5% of their lean muscle mass per decade. Once we reach 75 years this loss accelerates (however for some women this can happen as early as 65 years).

How do you offset this? Not by walking and not by performing cardio. The only way to build your lean muscle mass is with a properly devised strength training program.

Click here to view all of my YouTube Workouts.

Our organs, as we age

As our cells age they don’t function as well as they used to and eventually old cells must die as a normal part of the bodies functioning.

While this is a normal process of age, it does become a concern when the number of old cells in the ovaries, liver, and kidneys decrease.

When these cells become too low, an organ cannot function normally and this is why most organs function less than stellar as people age.

Great news, though, not all organs lose a large number of cells. The brain is one good example. Science has proven that women who are healthy do not lose as many brain cells as unhealthy women do.

It's hard to be a woman funny quote

Our bones, as we age

Bone mass and bone density decrease as we age and will begin to decline by approximately 1% (or so) with each passing year from 30 years old until menopause is reached – at which point we will then see a 2-3% loss each year.

Click here to do a bone-building beginner’s strength workout.

Our connective tissue, as we age

Our tendons (that great stuff that keeps our muscles connected to our bone) are also being affected.

As we age we lose some of the water in our tendons and this, in turn, makes our tissue stiffer and less able to handle stress and more susceptible to injury.

Click here to do a 15-minute morning wake up stretch routine.

Our speed and reaction time, as we age

The number of our muscle fibers are also decrease as we age. This means that our muscles can’t contract as easily as they used to, making us slower in general as well as slowing down our reaction time.

Our heart, as we age

Our heart muscle also slows down as we age. It becomes less able to propel large quantities of blood quickly which means that we are going to tire more easily and take longer to recover as we get older.

Click here to do a heart-pumping, low impact cardio workout.

Our insides get fatter

Body fat increases as we age and the distribution of body fat shifts from subcutaneous (under the skin, evenly over the body) to visceral (around the internal organs).

Visceral fat is deep within the body surrounding our internal organs and is also known to increase our chances of developing: heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, stroke, sleep apnea, various forms of cancer and other degenerative diseases.

The best part of being over 40 is we did most of our stupid stuff before the internet. - Mastering Menopause blog

Estrogen, how we miss thee

Most of the symptoms related to perismenopause and menopause are happening because we are producing less estrogen.

This production will continue to decrease until the ovaries eventually stop making it.

WTF is going on with my belly fat?

When estrogen declines cortisol and insulin production increase.

And guess what? Both of these hormones contribute to fat gain, especially around the midsection, and in particular as that dangerous visceral fat we learned about just above.

In addition, perimenopausal women may see more accumulation of fat around the belly – even if they are eating better and exercising correctly.

You see our bodies are pretty amazing machines and during times of hormone imbalances our body favours belly fat because its programmed to preserve fertility as long as possible. Thanks body.

Belly fat also produces estrogen! So, it’s of no surprise that when estrogen production from the ovaries slows, the body compensates by adding a spare tire around our mid-section.

 Click here to be rid of the belly fat.

A good night’s sleep. What’s that?

Sleep patterns will also change as we age.

This can either cause difficulty falling asleep, constant waking or full on insomnia – all of which will lead to lower energy levels and fatigue.

Chronic sleep deprivation is also linked to elevated cortisol levels and cortisol is that visceral belly fat loving hormone, in addition it is responsible to increasing our risk for a whole host of diseases, including cancer.

Click here to sleep better.

How to master menopause

Mastering perimenopause and menopause starts with your lifestyle.

For some it might mean dietary changes, for others it might mean adding strength training to their weekly workouts.

While for other women it could be improving their sleep, or adding stress relieving activities to their day.

However, for a lot of women it will mean making more than one change to their lifestyle. This can pose a problem, though.

Adding too many goals, and too many lifestyle changes, all at once is a recipe for disaster.

My suggestion for success

Where ever you are with your symptoms, and whatever your reasons WHY are (because remember, you HAVE to want to want these lifestyle changes), I want you to start with only one change first.

The reasons are both physiological and psychological.

On a physiological standpoint our brains are actually only programmed to operate on 10% willpower, the other 90% runs on muscle memory, or habits.

We need to make these changes to our lifestyle become habits so that the 10% is not battling it out with the 90%.

Psychologically speaking, small changes and manageable goals help us from not freaking out and throwing our arms up in the air two weeks in.

BUT, this does not mean I do not want you to challenge yourself, or that these changes will be easy.
 

Start with one, the rest will follow

Start by picking one symptom that is bothering you the most and then begin making the necessary changes to your lifestyle to help you master that one symptom.

 

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A Trainer’s Weekly Menu – Week 11

A Trainer’s Weekly Menu – Week 11

A Trainer’s Weekly Menu – Week 11

A full week’s account, including recipes and tips to help you eat healthier, of what a trainer eats as well as how I prep for someone who loves vegetables (me), and someone who does not (loving husband).

Happy New Year! I hope you had a great Christmas. Loving husband and I had a fantastic 2 weeks, but like a majority of people we ate too much and I drank too much. Even us trainer’s fall off the wagon.

It’s a new year, though, and it’s back to regular routines and meal planning and prepping.

Healthy Meal Plan

If you need to get yourself back-on-track I urge you to join me in my meal plans. All the recipes I choose are low in sh*it and high in nutrients.

I also plan my healthy meals so that fit in into my busy life. My prep is basic and there are no long-winded recipes that only Martha Stewart would love.

Just basic meals, using whole-foods.

Sugar Detox

Unbeknown to loving husband he is on a sugar detox now, or as much as I can control a sugar detox for him. You see he hides candy all over the house and eats it after I go to bed.

He does not hide this candy because he is hiding the fact that he is eating it from me. No, instead, he is hiding the candy because I asked him to.

You see when it hits a certain time of the month I get big-time cravings and another PJ emerges, I call her bad-PJ.

Bad-PJ is a bad influence and she always wants chocolate.

Bad-PJ, however, does not know when to stop after a few chocolates, or peices of candy. She goes hard until the bag is finished and we feel like sh*t afterwards.

So, loving husband hides his candy from bad-PJ.

Catch Up On Previous Week’s Menus

Annual New Year's Day Hike - Fitness with PJ Fave Pics from our Annual New Year’s Day Hike

Week 11 Healthy Meal Plan

BREAKFAST
  • Overnight Oats. I love overnight oats (and you can even nuke them in the microwave in the morning if you prefer your oats warm). Click here for my Pomegranate and Blueberry Overnight Oats recipe.
  • My daily detox drink. I swear by this drink. Click here for the recipe (it’s under Breakfast).
LUNCH
  • Salad with tuna and 2 Wasa breads with melted cheese. Had this on Monday.
  • Slow Cooker Mexican Chicken Soup (which I made on Monday night), with cut veggies as a side dish. The soup and the cut veggies I prepped on Sunday.

PREP TIP: make at least 4 breakfasts and 4 lunches for the week. You will actually get more done, in less time, by prepping in bulk and at the same time.

DINNER

Monday

  • Slow Cooker Mexican Chicken Soup. Click here for the recipe. I love this soup, loving husband is on the fence. However, this is a man who will only eat Campbell’s Chicken Noodle Soup and Tomato Soup. So it’s safe to say that he is not really a connoisseur of soup.

Slow-Cooker-Mexican-Chicken-Soup-Fitness-with-PJ-blog

Slow Cooker Mexican Chicken Soup – Skinny Ms

Tuesday

Wednesday

  • Loving Husband’s Famous Tuna Salad. Okay, it’s not really famous, but it is one of the things I let him prep. He uses 5 cans of tuna, mixes in some mayo, relish and 5 chopped hard-boiled eggs.
  • Yes, it is a bit high in sugar (due to the relish), and the mayo is not the healthiest option (I would prefer he used a smashed up avocado – but if I suggested that I already know the look I would get). So, I eat it as is on my Wasa crisps.

WORKOUT TIP: DON’T FORGET TO WARM-UP AT LEAST 5 MINUTES BEFORE YOUR WORKOUT. THIS WILL HELP PREPARE YOU AND YOUR MUSCLES FOR THE WORK TO BE DONE AND IMPROVE YOUR PERFORMANCE ONCE YOU GET GOING.

Thursday

Turkey-Enchilada-Skillet-Fitness-with-PJ

Turkey Enchilada Skillet – Skinny Ms

HAVE YOU TRIED THIS WORKOUT YET? IT’S PERFECT IF YOU ARE FEELING A LITTLE TIGHT & INFLEXIBLE.

Friday

Saturday

  • We are headed to see my fave director Quentin Tarantino’s new movie, “The Hateful 8”.
  • It looks so good! However, it is 3 hours long (thank God we are going to a VIP theatre for this), and it starts at 5:20pm.
  • This is a weird time, not really enough time for dinner beforehand, so we may order at the theatre (VIP has a full menu you can order in the theatre – as well as alcohol), or we may bring our own snacks. All I know is I ain’t cooking.

TIRED OF TRYING TO FIGURE WHAT WORKOUTS YOU
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5 Easy Tips To Eat Less

5 Easy Tips To Eat Less

5 Easy Tips to Eat Less

In today’s world of consumption we could all learn to want a little less, and this is especially true with food.

The abundance of choices and readiness of prepared food products is unparalleled. No other generation before us has had so much food available to them, and for so cheap.

This availability has come at a price though, and it’s our waistlines that have paid for it.

The Stats

The average number of calories a person eats in a day is 3,900. Back in 1965 that number was 3,100 calories. That’s an increase of 25%.

This increase is not with fresh fruit or vegetables either. Instead, we are eating more packaged products (see graph below) which are full of sugar, salt and bad fat.

This deadly trio, in turn, makes us crave more sugar, more sodium and more fat. It’s a revolving door that will just keep on this treadmill of addiction if we don’t start making some changes.

Breakdown of money spent on groceries - Fitness with PJ

Too Much Of A Bad Thing

How did we gain all this weight? Because it is not fathomable that a 25% increase in calories in the last 50  years has lead to an almost 50% North American obesity rate.

Weight gain is not exactly what we used to think it was, a calories in versus calories expended model. Science has confirmed that we do not process all foods the same.

Take for example almonds and a chocolate bar. The body processes the calories and macronutrients of both very differently.

The candy bar, if eaten on a regular basis, will lead to weight gain, whereas the nuts will not (unless you are my loving husband. Damn him. He eats a candy bar everyday and has not gained a pound in the 24 years of being together.).

Instead, experts are warning us that excessive over eating of the wrong foods (ie. high in sugar, sodium and bad fat), will lead us to gain weight faster because of leptin resistance in the body.

Leptin is a natural occurring hormone that tells our brains when we are full.

When we eat healthy whole foods, in the right amounts leptin does its job wonderfully and secretes messages to our control centre (the brain) telling us when we are full and when to stop eating.

But, years of bad choices with foods, accompanied with mindless over eating, breaks this system and we are now resistant to the one hormone that is there to help us.

sugar-consumption-Fitness with PJ

Do This First

So, my first piece of advice on how to eat less is to start eating real food for as many different meals as you can and eliminate added sugar from your diet.

Plan and prep your meals ahead of time and implement these five tips to help you eat less.

 5 Easy Tips to Eat Less

1/ Hide the food.

Studies have shown that we eat more food if the food is left out on the table. So, once you have plated your meal put the dishes back in the kitchen, or even better the fridge.

On the flip side, when storing your food in the fridge or cupboards put the good stuff in clear view of your eye sight.

For instance, place your vegetables right smack in the center of your fridge and hide the processed, bad foods in the crisper. Out of sight, out of mind.

2/ Trick your brain.

Trick your brain by using smaller plates and taller glasses. Yes, we can really pull one over on ourselves.

You see food looks like way more than it is on smaller plates, creating an “illusion” to our grey matter that we are eating more. This trick even works with glasses. Choose glasses that are taller and not the wider and your brain will think there is more volume.

Here’s a good example, take a look at the picture below.

How to eat less - Fitness with PJ blog

Each dot is the exact same in diameter, but doesn’t the one on the left look bigger?

So, if this was a plate of food it would also seem bigger to your brain and your brain would physically “think” that it’s eating more food than it really is -therefore telling our stomach to shut up and be satisfied.

Yep. It’s that easy to trick ourselves!

3/ Eat protein for breakfast.

Experts suggest eating at least 30 grams of protein (that’s 2 eggs and some cottage cheese) to help come out of the fast that you have done through the night and to replenish your protein stores. This is important so that your body does not start drawing on your own muscle tissue to feed itself.

In addition, wholesome high protein foods will also help regulate your appetite for the day, filling you up for a longer period. This equals to less snacking and more focus and energy through your morning too.

4/ Serve yourself 20% less.

It’s been proven that our margin for mindless eating starts after 80%. That means that after we have eaten 80% of our plate, the remaining 20% is mostly mindless.

The body does not need it for survival; we are simply eating it because we have stopped being aware.

Push yourself away from the table before this happens. Leave satisfied, but not full.

Science says this is the best workout to lose belly fat.

How to eat less - Fitness with PJ blog

5/ Drink water.

Our body cannot distinguish whether it is thirsty or hungry. Rather it has one signal that it releases when it craves either, and in my experience people are usually dehydrated before they are actually hungry.

TRY THIS: When you get the “signal” from your stomach have a large glass of water and wait 10 minutes. Stomach still grumbling? Have another glass and wait another 10 minutes.

I also do not want you to drink your calories either. Recent studies have found that the calories we consume in liquid form don’t “register” as food in the brain’s satiety centres.

Water is the only liquid that will “fill us up” – anything else is simply extra calories to our waistline.

 

TIRED OF TRYING TO FIGURE WHAT WORKOUTS YOU
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How to Improve Your Sleep

How to Improve Your Sleep

Sleep provides amazing benefits to the body.

  • It lowers stress
  • Improves our mood
  • Helps maintain and promote a healthy body weight
  • Improves our athletic performance and coordination
  • Increases our ability to pay attention and remember new information

But, not a lot of us are getting enough sleep.

In 2011 researchers from the Université Laval released their data that revealed that 40% of Canadians suffer from a sleep disorder.

Our brothers and sisters south of us aren’t doing any better either. The National Sleep Foundation (along with two government agencies) estimated in 2012 that 40 billion Americans suffer from a chronic sleep disorder.

HOW TO IMPROVE YOUR SLEEP

Dr. Heli McPhie, naturopath with The Village Clinic, chatted with me about the best ways to fall asleep and stay asleep.

She covered:

  • Why we aren’t sleeping?
  • The one thing you can do RIGHT now to help you sleep better.
  • What are DHEA levels and why they are important to help you sleep?
  • Sleep hygiene – how this plays a HUGE role in falling asleep.
  •  What tests should you be taking if you have problems sleeping.
  • What natural products are there on the market that will help us sleep, and do they really work?
  • How does she coach her clients to better sleep?
  • PLUS, she answered some great questions from the audience.

ABOUT DR. MCPHIE

Dr. Heli McPhie - Fitness with PJ Blab/Blog

Dr. McPhie’s passion for medicine and healing began at a young age growing up in southern Africa. Building on her love of the natural world and science, Dr. McPhie completed an undergraduate degree in biology at McGill University in Montreal.

She then went on to complete a further four years of study in Naturopathic Medicine at the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine.

After two years of clinical practice in Toronto, Dr. McPhie returned to Vancouver in 2000.

Since then she has operated a successful family practice, seeing patients of all ages on the west side of Vancouver. She opened her own practice, The Village Clinic, in 2011 in Tsawwassen.

The Village Clinic has since expanded into a collaborative interdisciplinary clinic.

Dr. McPhie treats a wide variety of conditions and ages including digestive disorders, allergies, anxiety, depression, sports injuries, immune disorders, skin conditions, autoimmune disorders, and many other chronic conditions.

The clinic caters to walk in clients and holds flu prevention clinics. Dr. Mcphie utilizes many modalities of practice including nutrition, homeopathy, botanical medicine, use of vitamins and minerals and acupuncture.

 

CLICK PLAY BELOW TO LISTEN TO THE BLAB INTERVIEW

  

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A Trainer’s Weekly Menu – Week 10

A Trainer’s Weekly Menu – Week 10

BEFORE YOU CONTINUE

 Would you like a template to help you plan your meals for the week ahead? Let me send you my Weekly Meal Planner. Fill it out each week and then post it on your fridge and begin reaping the benefits of meal planning.

 Click Here to gain access to the menu template.

 

Well, my 2-week vegan experiment is complete. I have been 99.9% vegan for 14 days to see if my energy levels and skin improve – I couldn’t pull a 100%.

 I kept using half and half for my coffee. I tried though, for 48 hours I tried really, really hard.

 You see lately I have been feeling less than energetic (okay, let’s be honest, all I feel like doing in the evening is sitting on the couch and binge watching NetFlix), and just out of the blue my skin has been acting up and pulling a temper tantrum.

 This temper tantrum has come in the form of dryness and oiliness (is that even possible? Oh yes it is!), with zits and all. I truly thought I was done with this shit at puberty.

 Apparently not.

 Apparently in mid-life we also hit a rough patch.

 

Funny over 40 quote - Fitness with PJ

 

99.9% Vegan – Did It Work

 After 2-weeks I can honestly say I… don’t feel much different. I had a feeling I wouldn’t though.

 I do not eat a lot of meat to begin with and I enjoy fresh veggies and fruit everyday. I also (as you may know if you have been reading my blogs), prepare a lot of the meals that I eat and avoid sugar, bad fats, refined carbs, packaged foods and eating out for a majority of my week – yes, I said a majority of my week.

 I still eat the aforementioned. I am not one of those trainers who lives the perfect healthy lifestyle. I envy my counterparts who do and who can maintain it 24/7, but I stopped a long time ago trying to aspire to perfection. Age does have its benefits and not giving a damn is one of them.

 But, I wanted to try vegan because I am not a girl who sits on the sidelines and whines about the hardships that I am going through (like a few zits and sitting on the couch is a real hardship anyways – jeez PJ, get a grip).

 Instead, I make changes to see if I can correct what is happening to me and then I move on.

 

Will I Stay Vegan?

 Will I stay vegan? No, I will go back to adding eggs and Greek yogurt to my weekly menu, as well as cheese to spice up some of my meals, but I really don’t have a craving for meat.

 And this is freaking poor loving husband.

 He loves meat, but since I do all of the grocery shopping and all of the cooking if I don’t do meat his chances of doing meat are very slim too.

 Lucky for him he knows how to dial for *take-out.

 [* Loving husband just read this and said I usually do that too, so he’s screwed.}

 Catch Up On Previous Week’s Menus

PJ's Pathetic Christmas Tree - Fitness with PJ

Our Christmas Tree

Week 10 Menu Plan

 

BREAKFAST

 

  • Egg frittata with a side of mixed nuts which I will prep today (Sunday)
  • I find just a piece of frittata does not completely fill me up, but add a 1/4 c of mixed nuts and viola – stomach, brain and energy levels are all happy and humming along smoothly.
  • I will use my slow-cooker frittata recipe, but bake it in the oven for 40-minutes at 375 degrees and use whatever veggies I have in the ol’ crisper.

 

LUNCH

 

  • Today, Sunday, I will prep Maple Baked Lentils with Sweet Potatoes and a BAS (big ass salad) for my lunches for Monday through Thursday. Friday is a free for all cause it’s STAR WARS!
  • This amazing recipe is from the rockstar of the recipe/blog world, Angela Liddon AKA, Oh She Glows. Her blog and her cookbook are a few of my favourite things and I think I would freak out waaaaaaaay more meeting her than I would meeting Han Solo (Harrison Ford, for you non-Star Wars readers).
  • She is a force to be reckoned with in the kitchen and I have NEVER had a bad recipe from her. I. Adore. Her.
  • Now, back to STAR WARS. As of today, Sunday December 13, it is only 5 more sleeps until the movie that I have been waiting for since I was seven years old comes to theatres. I have had tickets for weeks, and I have already warned loving husband that I may shed some tears of happiness when the opening credits start. I’m not joking. I openly weeped when I first saw the trailer.

maple-baked-lentils-Fitness-with-PJ

Maple Baked Lentils – Oh She Glows

DINNER

 

Monday

 

  • I work late and will not feel like cooking when I get home so we will enjoy the White Bean Turkey Chili that is in the freezer.
  • It is now 4 more sleeps until STAR WARS.

 

Tuesday

 

  • Baked salmon with lemon juice and dill with a side of rice for loving husband, quinoa for me and some sautéed green beans with garlic.
  • It is now 3 more sleeps until STAR WARS.

 

FIT TIP: Have bad knees and wondering how to strengthen them? Try my No Squat, No Lunge Leg Workout – it’s the perfect program for you.

 

Wednesday

 

 

Thursday

 Sesame Orange Beef with Bean Sprouts and Green Beans from The Everyday Maven

  • It is now only 24 hours away from STAR WARS. OMG.

 

Friday

 

  • It’s here! STAR WARS is here! Today! Finally!
  • I have my tickets printed and a back up pair also printed and in my coat AND another copy on my phone!
  • I also will bring a spare set of eye contacts just in case somehow the ones in my eyeballs mysteriously pop out and I have to put in a fresh pair.
  • I have our seats assigned! I have my Darth Vadar tee clean and ready!
  • We will be leaving a couple of hours before the movie starts so there is enough time JUST in case:
    • We run out of gas
    • There is traffic
    • We hit every red light
    • The BC government applies a new law that morning that cars can only drive at 30 km/h
    • There is an accident
    • We get in an accident
    • The car breaks down
    • A natural disaster happens (in which case I will ride my bike there)
    • Zombies invade the Lower Mainland (in which case I will ride my bike even faster there)
    • There is a line up of other Star Wars dazed geeks like me at the theatre
  • Only my own death will stop me from going to this movie today. I have all contingencies in place for anything else that could happen.
  • As for food, I will probably be way too bloody excited to eat.

 

star_wars_collage_fitness_with_pj

 

 

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10 Tips To Avoid The Flu

10 Tips To Avoid The Flu

If there is one thing we can all universally agree on, it’s that getting sick bites. (That, and Donald Trump needs to take a long walk off of a very short pier… and soon.)

No one likes getting sick, no one has time to get sick, and no one chooses to be sick.

But, getting sick is like the schoolyard bully. Pretty soon, one day or another, it will pick on you.

Right now we are in the thick of the flu season and if the schoolyard bully has not kicked your butt yet, you probably know someone who has had theirs kicked.

The Stats

In Canada the active influenza season starts in November and ends in March (Public Health Agency of Canada). Flu viruses constantly change, with a new and fresh seasonal flu appearing each and every flu season.

It’s like the latest fall fashion, minus the Instagram account.

The flu seems to be picking up steam too. During the past five years, incidents of people being admitted to the hospital due to influenza-associated problems have increased at a staggering rate.

During the 2011–2012 flu season there were a total of 1,151 adult hospitalizations in Canada (an adult hospitalization is classified as anyone over the age of 20 years).

Flash forward to the last year’s flu season and there were 6,720 adult hospitalizations. (Public Health Agency of Canada).

That’s a 484 percent increase in less than five years. Wow.

To help you avoid the flu, I recruited naturopath Dr. Heli McPhie of The Village Clinic in Tsawwassen to provide us with her best tips to fight back and stay healthy.

10 Tips to Avoid the Flu

1/ Keep yourself fit.

First and foremost flu prevention starts with a healthy body and mind. So exercise regularly (my personal favourite tip), take your supplements, eat well, laugh often (in other words, don’t let stress get the best of you), quit smoking (if you smoke), and rest.

Funny getting sick quote - Fitness with PJ

2/ Keep it clean.

Her next tip is one we hear from all health professionals all the time: wash your hands.

Because we touch our faces an incredible number of times in a day, it is vital to constantly keep our hands clean.

In addition, she also recommends that you teach your children to wash their hands before eating.

HOW TO FIGHT GERMS 

How to wash your hands - fighting the flu Fitness with PJ

3/ Sneeze here please.

If you do happen to catch a cold, or the flu, be sure sneeze into your “sneeze pocket” – that’s your elbow, not your hands. This will reduce the spread of the flu virus, which is an important part of flu prevention.

You can also help reduce the spread of the flu virus by not sharing food or drinks, straws, and utensils. Also, say no to double dippers and remember to toss those tissues.

4/ Oh thank you for coming to work sick today! We appreciate it – said nobody ever.

If you are sick, make sure you stay at home, too. Don’t be a hero and go to work. You are only spreading the virus to those around you, which is not as appreciated as you may think.

[bctt tweet=”I’m sick. Looks like I will be laying in bed all day. Oh wait, I’m a mom.”]

5/ All you need is love.

Take the time you need to care for yourself. Being a wee bit selfish is okay because if you aren’t well, you cannot be there for those you care for and who may need you.

6/ MD or ND.

If your symptoms are severe, or you are worried, check in with your doctor or a naturopath and then rest, drink plenty of fluids and eat healthy (such as clear veggie and/or chicken soups).

Also chat with your MD or ND about other ways to prevent the flu, such as the flu vaccine.

7/ Sleep.

Sleep well and rest.Sleep and rest is vital for maintaining good overall health and, in turn, a healthy immune system.

I learned this one the hard way myself. Last Christmas I was not resting properly and was burnt out and stressed out, and by Christmas morning I was sick as a dog.

And, big tip, if sleep is an issue for you, book an appointment with Dr. McPhie; she’s brilliant with sleep problems.

My 3 unconventional tips to sleep better.

8/ Chill out.

The next step to fighting the cold and flu is to simply relax. Reducing stress levels will keep your immune system strong and healthy.

Find time, every day, to relieve and reduce your stress. Your body will reward you and it will be strong enough to fight the cold and flu virus.

The BEST tips to beat stress.

9/ Get a protein fix.

Research shows that diets that are too low in protein can deplete the immune system. Make sure you get protein-rich foods throughout the day, such as fish, eggs, tofu and yogurt.

Click here to discover my top protein powders.

10/ Care is absolute. Prevention is ideal. 

And, Dr. McPhie’s final takeaway: prevent first because it is always easier to prevent than cure.

 

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