Dealing With Sciatic Nerve Pain

Living with pain in the spine is unpleasant at the best of times but managing pain can make it much more bearable. Like most injuries and sore spots on our bodies, there are ways to reduce pain and make it easier to live a normal life.

I have been having issues with lower back pain and nerve pinching in my spine since I was a teenager and over the years I have figured out ways that work for me to reduce the pain without immediately grabbing painkillers.

Disclaimer, I am not a medical professional, these are methods I have used personally to deal with my pain that I have found helpful. Please talk to your medical professional before trying any form of treatment.

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When it comes to reducing pain I have always found that laying down on couches and sitting for more than a few hours a day has often spurred more aggressive pain in my spine. Skipping stretches also leads me to more discomfort. I would recommend paying attention to your daily routine to see if there are things you can adjust to reduce pain. For example, I try not to sit for more than a couple hours a day, I purchased a vehicle with very good adjustable lumbar support (you can find seat covers with additional support as well) and changed my office chair to one that tilts towards the floor a little as it forces me to keep my spine straighter while I sit.

Inversion Table

Healthline

While these tables aren’t the cheapest or most stylish piece of furniture to have in your home, they do wonders to release your joints. Every time I invert I can feel the compression in my lower spine lessen, as well as in my knees, ankles and hips. I typically use the table for no more than two minutes as it does become very uncomfortable after a time to be upside down.

Flat Back Relaxation

Guides – Brit + Co

When sharp pain starts to form in my spine I have a position I lay in on the floor (any hard surface will work, but the floor is easy). With my knees bent and feet flat on the ground I lay on my back, pressing my spine into the floor until it feels flat as a board. I typically lay there for five to ten minutes until the sharp pain dissipates then continue on with my day.

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Stretches

It feels like every doctor recommends daily stretching and there is a good reason for it. Doing stretches like touching your toes, side bends, hip openers and bridge positions really warm up the muscles in your lower back.

EMS Machines

When the discomfort changes to pain in the evening I have often used EMS or STIM machines on my lower back. The lower electric current flowing through the muscles has always been a source of relief for me and I’ve found it to be a great way to get my back ready for bedtime.

Sleep Positions

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The human body is designed to sleep on its back with the head elevated slightly, but most people sleep on their sides. If you are a side sleeper who can’t make the change to being a back sleeper, a pillow between the knees and a firm mattress can do wonders. The worst position for back pain is to lay on your stomach.

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If you have any other suggested ways to manage this pain please feel free to share in the comments below.

Creating Short Term Goals

Short terms goals act as a milestone in your journey to reach the long term goal of your life. They help you gauge how far you have come and how long you still have to travel to reach your ultimate destination.

Columbia College

Short term goal setting is not just a skill required to achieve small tasks but as a tool and routine used to achieve larger and broader goals. This is something we know.

It is my belief that building short term goals and achieving them helps build better routines and discipline. To me it seems the ultimate goal of personal growth is to become disciplined, healthy and productive. People tend to set goals that better their life quality, physical health, mental health and financial stability. These general categories all lead to … discipline, health and productivity. One could say that all roads of personal growth lead to a routined and healthy lifestyle.

Now setting goals can be very difficult and that is okay. It’s hard to find purpose in life and harder to build your own when you don’t feel good following someone else’s path. This is why short term and small goals are so important. When I say small, I mean small! Setting goals like “brushing teeth every morning” or “put the TV remote in its proper place” are still goals and building the routine of making and achieving goals is an important thing to establish in life. How big or small you have to start with doesn’t matter, it’s building the routine that matters.

Types of Goals

Financial

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Financial goals are very common and broad. Weather it be to build up a personal savings account, start investments, start a college fund for your child or save up for a particular expense these goals have the potential to be easily achievable given a guaranteed income.

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Fitness

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Physical health is important not just for the actual health of the body, but the health of the mind as well. Common goals around fitness include increasing weighted lifts, better flexibility, increased endurance and general better physical health. I don’t recommend weight loss goals be the primary goal.

Mental Health

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These goals are hard to write as a list as they are very personal. General goals typically include better communication with the self and others, time spent reading, creative projects, gratitude and developing healthier habits. This is really an area where talking with a professional is very beneficial in setting goals.

Career

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Career based goals are often tied to financial goals like getting a raise, a promotion, a new career or starting a company. Other career goals often include skill building, mentorship opportunities and networking.

Beauty

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Beauty goals are often based around looking healthy. Well moisturized skin, toned muscles, hydrated appearance and a “youthful glow”. While some of these are achievable, not all are reasonable goals. Good beauty goals are set in routines around hygiene, nutrition, skin care, physical exercise and skills around enhancing natural beauty.

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Relationship

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Relationship goals are common but it takes two to tango. While personal goals in relationships are achievable, a lot of relationship goals have to be a group effort. More or better communication, planning, lifestyle changes, intimacy and attitudes are common goals in romantic relationships. In platonic relationships increased communication, time commitments, events and projects can be helpful goals to set.

Nutrition

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Goals geared towards better health are very common and helpful. Increasing protein, vegetables, fruit as well as decreasing sugar intake and reducing junk food are all great goals to set. Goals to safely adjust to new diets are also common but should be done while consulting with a physician. Ensuring one has a balanced and nutritionally dense diet is a key to good overall health.

Spiritual

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Spiritual goals commonly include assigning time to reading affiliated literature, attending in person ceremonies, allotting daily time to prayer or meditation and following the rules, oaths, moral guidelines, etc. Personal spiritual goals may also include volunteerism, community time commitments and added or avoided actions. If you are looking to strengthen your spiritual connection, seek advice from others within the community.

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Educational

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Educational goals vary wildly depending on what you are doing. In the case of goals for your children education, time commitments to tutoring and joint time working through homework are great goals to set. For personal education goals when in school, goals geared towards grades, time commitments to studying and hands on time are great. Sometimes the educational goals are more so for learning new skills, starting an education or expanding personal knowledge.

In all cases, short term goals are great and it is worth your time to set them.

Book Review : Let That Sh*t Go – Nina P and Kate P.

Initial Reaction

I have just finished the first thirty pages, so I am going to write this before continuing. The structure and tone of the writing is playful, a little vulgar but honest. There is no feeling of “this is a scam” or “this couldn’t possibly work” when they talk about taking control of your observational mind (a recurring message in the book) because I recognize that that is something I do and I know the difference between my “chatty brain” and “observational brain” from living in my own head. I can see the value in building up the mental force and skills to become a stronger observer of my minds needs and reactions rather than being emotionally driven into being actively chatty to myself. I look forward to continuing to read, which I am going to do right now even though it is incredibly late and I should really be in bed.

If happiness existed in objects or experiences, then the same objects and experiences would make everyone equally happy.

Nina Purewal & Kate Petriw ; Let That Sh*t Go, (Page 8)
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Score : 7/10

While I think the book has a good overall message, there is a finicky part to it. Nina Purewal minored in Psychology but majored in Business. This is a little questionable to me as she didn’t specialize in psychology or even major in it, so her book immediately becomes more of a “personal recommendation” rather than a “professional opinion” to me.

Kate Petriw is also a business lady with Bachlor of Commerce, Marketing and Sustainability from McGill University as well as Environmental Communication Planning from Duke University. Neither of these are psychology courses, though the communication planning does focus on changing human behaviour through study and evaluation. Again this does not leave me with the impression that I am reading a professional book meant to aid individuals as much as a passion project between two Toronto women who touched on the subject from different angles and related the material through anecdotes.

Now while I have said this seems like less of a professional book, I still think it holds water and can help people through their anxieties and interpersonal issues, hence why I rated it so high.

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Notable Moments

“Menial tasks will become calming ones”

Nina Purewal & Kate Petriw ; Let That Sh*t Go, (Page 23)

This stood out to me. They were commenting on how mentally speaking yourself through your tasks helps keep you in the moment and I realized that I did this when I was driving to keep my mind from wandering when I was in a bad mood. The idea of tasks becoming calming also rings true to me as I think of how much I hate washing my hair, but when I turn it into a treat to give myself a good scalp massage it feels very soothing.

This is just my mind getting stressed. I notice it, and I understand why I might be stressed, but really, there’s no reason to go down this spiral for the tenth time.

Nina Purewal & Kate Petriw ; Let That Sh*t Go, (Page 31)

This quote required the context of the “observational mind” which is the internal voice we have that comments. I like the idea of being self aware enough to recognize when you are leading yourself down a dark spiral in your mind and actively working to stop that spiral from taking hold. I think there is a lot of merit in working against your anxieties and depression internally, no matter how frustrating and exhausting it can be.

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Replacing your negative thoughts for a day, a week, or a month is just the beginning. It takes content effort and awareness to change these thought patterns and create new ones.

Nina Purewal & Kate Petriw ; Let That Sh*t Go, (Page 83)

I also agree with this sentiment. It is as irritating as it is true. Mental fortitude and health are not short battles easily won, but rather wars that last lifetimes that must be conquered slowly and mindfully.

Closing Thoughts

While I enjoyed this book I do not think it is one I would re-read any time soon. The sometimes crude natural of the writing is a little jarring as it is not written for a young enough audience for that language to catch hold and seem mature. As the intended audience is adult, the crude language seems immature for the audience but perhaps the editors for the book thought it would help the book stand apart. While one could argue that with a title that includes “sh*t” in it, I should have been prepared for cursing I do not agree. Since the asterix was included I thought the loud design of the cover was simply to attract the eye of a reader who is tired of titles like “The Secret” that coddle the reader into a fairly comfortable mentality while reading.

Aside from language, the constant recollections and commentary being mixed together was a good choice that I felt helped the narrative of the message to be more easily understood by the audience. All in all, I think you should read the book. I know I am going to lend it out to a few people, which I only do if I think the book is good.

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I would love to hear your thoughts on the book in the comments below!

Mindfully Quitting Nicotine

Hey guys! If you guys remember, over a year ago I went from smoking cigarettes to vaping. While yes there is a lot of debate over the health problems caused by both methods, we are talking about quitting today, not which is worse.

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Why did I quit?

You might be thinking, “For your health of course!” and you would be wrong. Not that I don’t care about my health, but it is lower on the priority scale than money. With the pandemic funds have gotten tighter and I can’t justify such an expensive habit anymore. The average cost of me vaping per month was around $200, which isn’t something to sneeze at. Thats more than my phone and internet bill added together.

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Was it hard?

Yes. I don’t think anyone wants to mislead quitters into believing quitting will be a stroll in the park. It sucked really bad for the first four or five days, though the third is just as bad as everyone has told you it is. I wept, I screamed, I apologized, I hid, I sat on the floor and I drank a bottle on wine on the third day. Thankfully my fiancé was very understanding of the chemical insanity that was happening in my brain, which made it a lot easier. There is a headache that seems to be ever present, your limbs feel weird, your heart might even seem different. I found I was sweating like crazy from the increased circulation in my body. I did suffer insomnia during the first 4 days, which did not help my mood.

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Now, a week later, I feel more stable but there is still definitely something left over in my brain that is making me feel a bit off. I am still having some troubles with sleep, but from what I can figure that’s quite normal for nicotine quitters.

How did you quit?

I used our modern way of quitting. I bought a vape and reduced the amount of nicotine from 60mg down to 0 mg over a period time. This means that right now I have my vape with me, but there is no nicotine in it. This has made it easier for me to quit nicotine, as I am only breaking the chemical addiction while leaving the habitual side alone for the moment. This is a slower way to quit, but it’s the only one I’ve managed to make work.

I tried to quit smoking cold turkey and failed many times, then earlier this year I tried to quit vaping overnight and failed once again. For me, this has been the only method where I have made it to day 4 without nicotine. As of right now I am on day 8, so things are going well.

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Why is this called Mindfully Quitting Nicotine?

That is a great question. The answer lies in how I decided to approach quitting this time. I accepted that I was going to be a little unstable and set up my personal life to accommodate that for a little bit. I informed most people of my decision and requested they leave me alone unless there was an emergency so that I wouldn’t snap at them during a bad moment or have them inadvertently stressing me out.

That worked pretty well and I don’t believe anyone took offence to being cutout for a week to help me quit a habit that could very likely cause cancer in my lungs.

At home I decided it was better to have the support of my man on the worst days even though they would be difficult for us as a couple to make it through. This was a good decision as my fiancé had been there when I failed and knew better this time how to console and distract me. He also knew when to walk away and let me stew in anger over how much my head hurt.

Where is the mindful part? I’m getting there!

I decided that after the first 5 days I was going to be stronger than my angry brain. I wasn’t going to let other people or the calls of addiction bring me down. I decided that daily walks, comedy routines and reading would be part of my daily routine in order to help me stay positive and motivated. I also decided to practice more self control over my emotions, which to be very honest with you, is not something I have worked on since I was a teen. That has been difficult, but ultimately it needed to be done whether I quit nicotine or not. Being stale, not improving, not working on bettering myself, it’s just not good for me. Not to mention how annoying it is to be an emotional individual in our current world. I get so rilled up by all that is happening that I can’t focus on issues that are right in-front of me that demand my attention.

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I don’t think this is a great way for everyone to quit, but for me, dog pilling mental health, physical health and addiction all on top of each other to be dealt with simultaneously has been working. I hope I have the strength to maintain it until the month is up and my brain stops acting like a chemically highjacked fool.

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I tried to keep this fairly light hearted, but in all seriousness, quitting any addiction is really hard and if it is something you are suffering though right now, I hope you know how much stronger you are than your addiction. You can do it and I sincerely hope you achieve your quitting goals.

If you want to leave advice or commentary on quitting nicotine in the comments I would be very happy to read them!

10 Products To Help You Sleep

We all desperately crave sleep, that rejuvenating thing that eludes us as adults. But there are ways to help you sleep better than ever and you will thank yourself for looking into them.

1. Saje Sleep Well Restful Sleep Mist

$20.00 – This mist relies on lavender, valerian and marjoram to relax your body and mind, aiding in falling asleep.

Available on saje.com

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2. MoonBerry Silk Pillow Cases

$41.24 – These 100% silk cases breathe well and stop your hair from frizzing up, not to mention they won’t drag on your face and they are very comfortable.

Available on etsy.com

3. Sharper Image Calming Comfort Weighted Blanket

$49.99 – These weighted blankets have been shown to aid people in sleeping and the reviews are simply filled with compliments on how much quality of sleep improved with usage.

Available at showcase.com

4. Amazon Tower Fan

$35.97 – We know that people sleep better in slightly cooler rooms but the noises from loud fans make it difficult to fall asleep. Try using a nearly noiseless tower fan to fall asleep quickly and stay asleep without overheating.

Available at amazon.com

5. Amara Velvet Sleep Mask

$27.00 – If you need it dark to sleep but your partner watches TV in the bedroom, these will conform comfortably to your skin without dragging or making your skin uncomfortable.

Available at Amara.com

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6. Fieldcrest Luxury Microgel Pillow

$49.00 – This 100% cotton sateen pillow cover adds softness and durability to this non-allergenic, orderless and dust free pillow. It is also designed for side sleepers!

Available at sleepcountry.ca

7. Celestial Seasonings – Sleepytime Tea

$6.59 (Box of 40 bags) – Sleepytime tea works wonders with its mix of chamomile, spearmint, lemongrass, blackberry leaves and more. These caffeine free teas have certainly helped me fall asleep over the years.

Available at herb.com

8. Jamieson Melatonin

$14.99 (60 Tablets) – Melatonin is naturally produced in our bodies to aid us get to sleep. Thankfully when you aren’t making enough on your own, there are time-release tablets to help you out.

Available at well.ca

9. ObusForme Full Length Body Pillow

$49.90 – A four foot long pillow to wrap yourself around or to wrap around your body to get into the most comfortable sleeping positions.

Available at halo healthcare.com

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10. Dr. Jessamy Hibberd & Jo Usmar “This Book Will Make You Sleep”

$22.65 – Dr Hibberd and Mr. Usmar guide you verbally through proven techniques to get your sleep patterns back on track. This is done through cognitive behavioural therapy.

Available at audible.ca

Going Caffeine Free

Hello!

Like most western people I am guilty of having a dependance on caffeine. A couple months ago I decided to cut it out entirely in order to help me reach my weight loss goal. I am a wimp with black coffee and I always add honey or sugar to my tea. So in order to cut down calories, I cut out caffeine.

Was it easy?

Not at all. My head ached with a dull and persistent heartache for days. I craved iced coffee more than I ever had before in my life. I was outwardly very moody and I felt mean during the first three days. I felt finicky with my moods and couldn’t focus on anything for the first while. Considering how bad the withdrawal was perhaps it was a good thing I decided to remove it from my diet. It’s been months and I’m still getting used to the fatigue I feel in the morning. The fatigue isn’t new, but without coffee and tea to dull it, it’s much more difficult to ignore and work past when I’m already grumpy first thing in the morning to begin with.

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I still find it difficult to avoid drinking coffee as my fiancé drinks it every morning and for years he’s been bringing me coffees to cheer me up on bad days. He knows I am avoiding it so he doesn’t bring me treats which is good for my diet, but I do miss the little things like a coffee or a Thirsty Buddha that showed he was thinking about me. Getting an apple just doesn’t feel the same.

In a way it’s good I did this during a non-social time, as we aren’t going out for dinners with friends or having get togethers at home, as the temptation would be much stronger if we were. I do wonder if my resolution will hold when the world re-opens.

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How have I been dealing with it?

A lot of water. Hydration helps reduce fatigue, not to mention just about everything else in your body. Now I do not love drinking water all day so I use Mio to flavour my water when I can’t stand the idea of drinking it. I love the lemonade and black cherry flavours. I’ve tried flavouring water with fruit but since I always use my Contigo water bottle (as seen below) having the fruit can gum it up. I have also taken to drinking a glass of Tonic Water before bed even though I cannot stand the taste of it as it can reduce leg cramps. I often wake up very dehydrated after a long night of sleep because I can’t sleep without a blanket over me, so I sweat out all night. Due to the dehydration my legs often feel cramped in the morning. I have found the glass of tonic to help reduce the discomfort until I can rehydrate.

Eva Blakeman – CONTIGO Water Bottle

Better nutrition has also done a lot to help me keep me energized. By changing my diet and cutting out junk foods I have had more energy. I’ve switched to a lower calorie diet with a lot of chicken for protein and rice for carbs. I’ve found that by reducing my sugar and fat intakes I don’t have sugar crashes, which has made it a lot easier to stay productive throughout the day and avoid reaching for a tea to perk myself back up.

Going for a daily walk has also done a lot to keep me going. It’s no surprise to anyone that daily exercise helps improve mood, heart health and reduce the risk of a lot of diseases, but I’ve also found that the walk helps me refocus and gives me an energy boost for a couple hours. I find the actual walk to be helpful to give my mind time to wander. I think in giving my mind time to relax for a half hour or so helps me refocus with more motivation.

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Baking has also helped me a lot. While I am choosing not to eat bread, my fiancé loves fresh buns and I really enjoy making babka and buttered buns. The exercise of kneading bread and scrubbing dishes also increases my daily activity which is good for me. I think taking the time to do something I really love also helps keep me sane during this time.

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I have also been following the mental health recommendation of daily bathing. I usually shower every two days, but I’ve switched to daily baths. I find taking the time to soak in the warm water while I do my skin care routine helps relax my muscles and unwind. I sleep better after a nice long bath and I feel healthier for it.

On that note, sleeping more! I used to sleep around six hours a night but now that I am not relying on caffeine I am sleeping between seven to eight hours a night. My theory is that with the increased physical activity and lack of caffeine combined with sticking to a rigid wake up time, my body is settling into a better sleep routine.

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Would I Recommend It?

Yes I would. While it’s an uncomfortable transition, I believe it is worth the discomfort. While caffeine has been proven to increase the basal metabolic rate of adults and can increase muscular strength it does have some less than lovely side effects. It can worsen the symptoms of asthma, negatively affect gastrointestinal processes and in the case of postmenopausal women, it can rapidly increase bone loss. Not to mention the increase in dehydration by drinking diuretics.

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I think kicking caffeine has improved my quality of life, but I don’t know if I will remain caffeine free forever. There is a time and place for everything, and should I really need to stay awake, I know it’s there. I don’t think returning to a dependance on caffeine would be the healthy choice for me so I hope to continue with this lifestyle.

I won’t claim to know more than medical professionals and caffeine has been proven to help with certain medications, so if your doctor recommends you use caffeine, please follow your doctors counsel.

The Truth About Soy Protein

With the way we chase after then newest, “healthiest” foods we often overlook what is really healthy for what is trendy. Due to some curiosity, some research was done to find that a common food that was once praised is still a good, cheap and viable option for your healthy living. Soy! The perfect implemented dietary food for meal replacement, protein intake, flavour and convenience.

Over the years people have come to think a lot of negative things about soy due to word of mouth misinformation. But after some researched I found that the idea that soy proteins will change your estrogen and testosterone levels has been debunked! More than that, other studies prove that ingesting soy protein high in isoflavones (plant derived estrogenics) actually help reduce bone loss in post menopausal women. Also it was found that ingesting soy protein can be very beneficial for your cardiovascular health as it was found to lower cholesterol, and it’s high in fiber, minerals, vitamins and polyunsaturated fats, as well as very low in saturated fats. So feel free to throw some soy in your morning smoothie again! 

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Another study showed that ingesting soy protein did not in fact change the levels of free androgen, estrogen or testosterone in men. So not to worry boys, you are safe to consume some yummy protein shakes. Considering how much protein hard working men require it’s great to know that implementing more protein without a huge increase in daily calories is easy. All related information to studies and clinical trials can be found at the bottom of this article. 

Another interesting find was that daily ingestion of soy proteins high in isoflavones actually lengthened the time between menstruation. If that weren’t enough they also found that tamoxifen in the boy decreased, making breast cancer less likely. What an amazing food that can be implemented into a healthy and balanced diet. It seems that during any time of a woman life ingesting soy can help prevent issues and supply a lot of the minerals and vitamins lacking in common american diets.

Now I’m not saying everyone should jump to buy only soy protein powder, as whey and other options are availible and are equally as safe. I won’t say that the federal divisions that test what is and isn’t safe for consumption are without flaw, but generally, if it’s on a shelf, it’s safe to consume. Food scientists work year round to make sure our food won’t cause harm, and if there are concerns, there are labels on each product that will warn you.

It should be noted though, that any large dietary or lifestyle changes should be done after speaking to your doctor to ensure that what you’re doing is safe for your body. As everyone is different and sometimes bodies react differently, or health issues could cause complications. So please consult your doctor before starting any new diet or fitness regime. 

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Citations :

Clinical studies show no effects of soy protein or isoflavones on reproductive hormones in men: results of a meta-analysis – Jill M.Hamilton-Reeves Ph.D. – Gabriela Vazquez Ph.D. – Sue J.Duval Ph.D. – William R.Phipps M.D. – Mindy S.Kurzer Ph.D. – Mark J.Messina Ph.D.

Soy Protein, Isoflavones, and Cardiovascular Health – An American Heart Association Science Advisory for Professionals From the Nutrition Committee – Frank M. Sacks, Alice Lichtenstein, Linda Van Horn, William Harris, Penny Kris-Etherton, Mary Winston and for the American Heart Association Nutrition Committee

Biological effects of a diet of soy protein rich in isoflavones on the menstrual cycle of premenopausal women. – A CassidyS Bingham, and K D Setchell

Soy protein and isoflavones: their effects on blood lipids and bone density in postmenopausal women. – S M PotterJ A BaumH TengR J StillmanN F Shay, and J W Erdman Jr

Eva Blakeman – The Truth About Soy Protein

Great Uses For Apple Cider Vinegar

Oh apple cider vinegar, (ACV) a underused product that packs a good punch of flavour and power. For such an inexpensive item you would think we would be using it for everything, and well we almost can. I’ve put together a list of uses for it that are practical. If you have more uses for it, please share them in the comments.

Zest Up Your Meals

This tangy vinegar goes well into your tomato sauces, while cooking your chicken, to make some lovely vinaigrettes and even in light soups. As with all new flavours add gradually until you reach bliss with this raw flavour. A very popular use for ACV is as a marinade for steaks. Let it be said that if you have some very gamey meats try marinating them in ACV with onion, garlic, crushed red pepper, and black pepper. 

Keep Your Pets Fly Free

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Well fly free is a lot to promise, but when livestock ingest ACV they don’t get harassed so badly by flies, horse flies and wasps. Others say spraying a diluted vinegar on your house pets will reduce the chances of fleas. Both of these effects are caused by the scent and acidity of the vinegar that creates a less than hospitable place for bugs, making them much more likely to leave your pets alone. 

Kill Weeds Without Killing Your Lawn

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No one likes weeds, but getting dead patched on your lawn for years after using harsh products is quite the eyesore. Try mixing apple cider vinegar and soap to kill those pesky weeds. Spray as close to the weeds as possible. Repeat as necessary.

Cleaning Your Home

My mother swore by being able to clean anything with baking soda and ACV, as they react together to remove the strongest stains with a light abrasive. From your porcelains in the restroom, to your counters, floors and walls this is a great way to give a deep clean. And as an added bonus this cleaner won’t hurt your pets or kids if they decide to lick the floor. 


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Clean Your Humidifier

Another one I watched my mother do countless times. Soak your humidifier in ACV to remove scale and clean your filters. A little scrubbing may be required and remember to rinse thoroughly with water or your room will smell strongly of ACV. 

Get Your Feet Ready For Summer

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ACV has two great uses for your feet, and you can do both of them at the same time! Soak your feet in ACV for 15- 25 minutes for 5 – 10 days to kill toenail fungus, and soak your feet in ACV in ACV and Listerine for 15 – 25 minutes for the dry skin on your feet to easily slide off with a pumice stone. 

Ear Aches

A couple drops of ACV can do wonders if your ear is killing you. Other remedies include hydrogen peroxide if you feel like there is an infection, followed by warm baby oil. If infection is present the hydrogen peroxide will bubble and itch the inside of your ear. Empty and refill your ear until bubbling stops, rinse your ear out then put warm baby oil in your ear. If doing this to your child, hold their head still to ensure they don’t turn and get peroxide in their eye. Once the oil is in the ear, a cotton ball can be used to keep the oil in the canal for half an hour.

Cleaning Your Kettle

Boiling a 40:60 mix of ACV to water for a few minutes will break all the calcified gunk that gathers in your kettle. Rinse it out throughly before using it again and you are good to go.

Rinsing Out Product Build Up In Your Hair

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Using a 50:50 mix of water and apple cider vinegar in your hair will help remove build up of products, oils and dirt. Let is sit on your scalp for a few minutes then rinse out. For the most effective way to do this, you can keep your scalp submerged in this mix while gently rubbing your scalp.

As A Marinade

Anyone who smokes their meat knows about injecting fluids, and most often apple cider vinegar is used. For beef you can’t do better than the sweet and sour flavours that seep into the meat as it marinated in apple cider vinegar. I would recommend adding some garlic to it as well for a truly delightful steak.

Eva Blakeman – Great Uses For ACV

Hope you enjoyed, and if you have more uses for Apple Cider Vinegar please put them in the comments down below.

Great Trails Near Maple Ridge

Spending a little time outdoors is a wonderful feeling, and around the Metro Vancouver area there are trails carving through the landscape everywhere. I am not an experienced hiker, and we’ve only done day trips. All trails listed are less than five hours in total to hike and are good for all experience levels. 

As with all hiking, it is done at your own risk, and being responsible with bringing food and water is always recommended. Bug Spray and sunscreen are your friends and always be mindful of where you are and the dangers in the area. Landslides, wildlife and storms can cause a lot of problems for inexperienced hikers.

East Canyon To Lower Falls Trail – Golden Ears Provincial Park

A very easy trail that is a loop, minimal elevation change with many points where you can access the river in its slower, wider areas that are great for wading out into and cooling off at. Warning the water is very cold. This trail brings you up to a beautiful waterfall by taking you through lush green forests. The trail is very well groomed and heavily used. You are welcome to bring your dog on a leash, and it’s a great trail to bring the kids on. The waterfall is roughly 3km in, total trail is just over 10km. 

Rolley Falls and Lake Trail – Rolley Lake Park 

A easy but often wet trail that take you around Rolley Lake. It features many small water falls, wonderful wildlife and a variety of ecosystems. Minimal elevation change and also very well maintained. There are bridges over the marsh areas. It is a roughly 5 km trail. 

Kanaka Creek – Kanaka Creek Regional Park

A very short trail, only 2.7km. Minimal elevation change, parts of the walk are paved. Very common for elderly and families with children. There are wonderful lookout points with plaques that explain the history of the area which is incredibly interesting. There is a bridge that goes over a portion of the creek and heads into well groomed trails through the forest. As an added bonus, there are outhouses that are maintained halfway through the trail for poor unfortunate hikers like me who need to use the washroom at the most inconvenient times. 

East Canyon Trail – Golden Ears Park 

Many apps will describe this trail as “easy”, I would call it moderate difficulty. It features multiple beautiful water falls, newly constructed bridges, reasonable up and downhill stretches and a variety of beautiful red barked trees and moss covered wonderlands. I would recommend going to the lower falls by dropping down at the fork to the peak, as the view is delightful and it’s a good resting place. I would not recommend this trail for children. I would absolutely recommend bringing more water than you think you need and bring a snack. You will thank me later. 

Cliff Park – Maple Ridge

This is a wonderful, moderate trail that allows you to visit many different parts of the area, such as the local hatchery. Many short up and down spurts. Lookout points over the falls and creeks. A couple bridges that are excellent for getting great pictures of the falls. You cannot get down to the falls on the trail but they are wonderful to behold from the trail. From memory I remember seeing three sets of falls all within a few km. 

I hope you enjoyed the list. Hiking is a great way to work your body, relax your mind and spend some quality time with your hiking partners. Always be mindful of your surroundings and be respectful to the trails and parks you hike in. Ensure you remove anything you bring with you and don’t vandalize, so that everyone can enjoy the hike. 

Eva Blakeman – Trails Near Maple Ridge

Things To Do At Home

During this most unfortunate time, most people are smartly staying indoors to avoid coming into contact with and spreading the COVID 19 virus. It’s sad not to be able to go visit your grandparents, parents or friends during this time, but it is crucial that people don’t come into contact with others if it can be avoided to reduce the spread and ultimately, reduce casualties. That all being said, it is important to keep busy least boredom take over us all.

Twitch Streaming

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If you want to “hang out” with your friends. Set up a twitch stream of an interactive game like a chose your own adventure and as a team decide what steps to take. If I am not mistaken, games like Dungeons and Dragons could also be played remotely via video conference or Twitch with the Dungeon Master as the video host. In the case where individuals do not own the die, simulators can be used, or the master can roll for everyone.

Write

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It seems like a simple thing to do, but with most people being so incredibly busy in their lives, they often don’t sit down and write about how they are feeling, positive things in their lives or even a recipe book. Writing is a calming activity and if you have kids in the house and Paw Patrol is driving you insane, start writing about topics you enjoy to block out the endless noises that come from children shows. I find writing in my bullet journal to be very relaxing.

Bake

Once again, time is often the enemy of passion. A lot of people I know love to bake but often don’t have the time after work to throw together some treats. Practice your piping skills! Make some cookies! Try a new recipe you’ve never made before. Try your hand at making your own bread and enjoy the fruit of your labours.

Clean

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No time to do a super deep clean of your home like weeks stuck in it. This will help mentally in a way, as a clean home without clutter helps reduce stress and makes your home more comfortable to live in. Take this opportunity to steam clean your couches, mattresses and carpets. Wash all the bedding, scrub the walls and wash the inside of your refrigerator.

Practice Yoga

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Since going to the gym is a risk of exposure and spreading the virus, keeping your body moving and happy is important, not to mention the added side effect of yoga being relaxing in this time of extreme stress and anxiety. Youtube has a plethora of yoga instructional videos to follow, and bonus, kids can do it too. Don’t expect to become a yogi overnight, be patient with yourself and try to push yourself a little (not too much).

Call Your Family

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Visiting may pose a health concern, but a phone call is a safe way to stay up to date with their lives. I can bet your grandparents would be happy to hear from you. Though this time is difficult, through the magic of the internet and phones, staying in contact has never been easier.

Play Video Games

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PC, PS4, XBOX, Switch, what ever your pleasure. With such a broad collection of game play styles, there really is something for everyone. I am partial to turn based RPG games, such as the Final Fantasy series, Pokemon and Xenosaga. If you are looking for a challenge, I recommend any of the From Software games. Dark Souls, Bloodborne and Sekiro are all challenging games that may frustrate players, but with each boss win comes a huge sense of satisfaction. For multiplayer games, there is always Rocket League, Mario Party, Crash Team Racing and Call Of Duty.

Read

There are a lot of books on my shelves waiting to be read, and I have to imagine a lot of others have little stacks waiting for them too. Pick up a new book or re-read an old favourite. If you don’t feel like reading a story, study something new! openstax.org is a great resources for free textbooks to study from. Personally I’m reading up on basic chemistry and really enjoying dipping my toes back into the subject.

Bubble Baths and Face Masks

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Take the time to soak in a nice warm tub with a book and a face mask on and feel the stress in your neck and back start to soak away. If you don’t have any face masks in your home, you can make one. For a quick mask you can mix honey and a little cinnamon together. Leave this on for 10 – 20 minutes then rinse it off. Another quick and easy mask to make takes a teaspoon of honey, a half teaspoon of aloe vera and a half teaspoon of coconut oil. Rub it into the face until it feels tacky, let it sit a few minutes and rinse off.

Organize

After the long winter months, we tend to nestle into our homes. Now is a good time to start organizing your cupboards, putting away the throw blankets and going through your closets. An organized kitchen runs more smoothly and an organized closet means not searching for items you could have sworn were there.

Learn New Things

As I said before, there are free textbooks available online, but not everyone likes to sit an read dry material. Here is a list of great YouTube channels that entertain while they educate! If sciences aren’t your interest, there are countless beauty guru channels, baking channels, nail art channels as well as countless other topics to learn about in video format.

Get Nerdy

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On the topic of videos, there are a lot of comic book related videos on YouTube. Who doesn’t want to hear about every supervillain that has never died in cannon? There is always new Smash Ultimate videos coming out and there are endless channels that do in depth character reviews for both DC and Marvel characters.

Binge

Though it isn’t the most productive thing, binge watching a good TV show can certainly eat up a couple days. If you like anime I would recommend Full Metal Alchemist Brotherhood as it has one of the most compelling storylines I’ve ever watched. Death Note and Hunter Hunter are also great choices.

Vlog

Share what’s going on in video form to keep family and friends informed or entertained. Share what you’ve been doing to keep yourself safe or busy. Share resources you’ve found with others and activities for kids. If you want you could share some jokes or just talk about what ever is on your mind.

Get Artistic

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Pick up your old paintbrush, pencils or stylus and make something great. Try a create a cartoon strip or a beautiful landscape, it’s up to you. Write a poem and share it or a song and record it. Throw on your headphones and dance around the house if you’re up for it.

Card and Board Games

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If you share a living space with others, organize some activities to keep you all entertained. Crazy 8s is always a favourite card game and board games can take hours that could be spent scrolling and turns them into hours of fun. If you have drinks available in your home, share a couple and make a night of it.

If you have advice or suggestions to add, please do so in the comments!

Eva Blakeman – Things To Do At Home