How Quarantine Stress Affects Your Body

We’re living in a time of really high stress – there’s no doubt about that. Our worlds have become smaller, and our worries are a whole lot bigger. High stress in your body means high cortisol levels. High cortisol can impact your health in so many different ways, both big and small. Stress during quarantine is impacting us all to some degree, so being aware of what this might look like should be important to you.

This information isn’t intended to scare you or make you even more stressed. This information is intended to help you reflect on how well you might be managing your stress right now. Knowing what signs to look for may help you prioritize strategies that can help you balance your cortisol.

What is Cortisol?

Cortisol is known as the “stress hormone”, because it plays a crucial role in how the body responds to stress. However, there is much more that cortisol plays a role in. It is a very important hormone for overall health and wellness, as it also plays a role in metabolism, inflammation, blood pressure, blood sugar levels, and memory.

High Cortisol Effects on the Body

When it comes to cortisol, the most important aspect is balance. While a certain amount of cortisol is vital for regular healthy body function, an overproduction can lead to many significant health issues. All of the following are common signs of high cortisol.

Anxiety. I know, I know! As if being stressed about self-isolation and more wasn’t enough, high cortisol can further promote anxiety. Stress causes, well, more stress. It’s a bit of a vicious cycle, and it can be really difficult to get out of, especially when this becomes a more chronic or ongoing issue.

Depression. There’s no doubt that high cortisol impacts mental health. Many people with depression have high cortisol levels. However this is not really a one way street. Stress and depression have more of a circular relationship, where they both influence one another.

Digestive Problems. In times of particularly high stress, your body will restrict functions deemed as “non-essential”, as our body remains in a fight-or-flight state. This includes digestive function. Blood flow may be restricted, holding your digestive system back from functioning properly.

Headaches. In a fight-or-flight state, the brain releases certain chemicals that result in changes in vascularity. These chemicals work to dilate and restrict blood vessels. This can cause headaches and migraines.

Sleep Problems. Those worrisome thoughts that keep you awake at night also keep you from having a good quality sleep. This can sabotage your mood the following day, and lead to even more stress. Sleep problems can look like trouble falling asleep, staying asleep, or just not having a good quality sleep.

Bloating. Stress causes a fluctuation of hormones, which alone can lead to bloating. High stress can also influence your gut bacteria, throwing your microbiome out of whack as a result and also leading to bloating.

• Memory Impairment. Have you not quite felt like yourself lately? Stress can lead to forgetfulness, confusion, and memory problems. The way your body reacts to stress changes the way our brain processes information. You might be forgetting particular parts of conversations you’ve had, or putting your belongings in bizarre places.

What You Can Do To Combat Quarantine Stress

Stay Connected. Not being able to catch up with your friends and family in person can impact your mood and leave you feeling lonely. Nothing can replace a warm hug from your loved ones, but for the time being take advantage of what you can do to stay connected. Try FaceTime, Skype, or HouseParty so you can see your people face to face.

Keep Moving. Daily movement promotes a balance mood and can help stave off stress! Whether that’s a walk that allows for social distancing, yoga in your living room, or a 20 minute bodyweight workout, daily activity whether short or long can help combat stress.

Engage in Enjoyable Activities. Yes, it’s fun every once in a while to binge hours of a new show! But don’t forget to engage in the other activities you enjoy. Art, photography, baking, reading – you have so many options. Doing enjoyable activities when possible can help you pass the time more easily.

Take Time For You. If you are alone right now or have a lot of time to yourself, this suggestion might seem silly. But just because you have the time doesn’t mean you make it meaningful to you. Taking time to yourself means planning out something that’s just got you. If you are taking care of others right now, really take this suggestion to heart. Try to get your own physical space for at least 30 minutes a day to do something that’s just for you.

I hope you found this information helpful. I would love to hear more about what you’re doing to combat stress during this unprecedented time – feel free to share below.

Take care Babes.

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Is Gluten Making You Moody? 

I decided to give up gluten last year during my elimination diet to figure out what was making me so sick. Turns out, it was dairy. But just for a second, let me turn this car around.

Because guess what? Even though I didn’t feel the same severity of effects with gluten, it never made me feel good. I’ve always felt heavy and anxious after a high gluten meal.

When I expressed this, I was met with some criticism.

I blame that on the fact that going gluten-free has become a huge trend over the last couple of years. Perhaps I appeared was simply ‘paranoid’, or maybe it looked like I was jumping on the bandwagon.

But just ask my boyfriend: it’s real. And sometimes my reaction is so severe I can be reduced to tears, only hours after eating gluten, with no explanation why. I just know I feel upset and that my gut doesn’t feel right.

Also I want to ask: isn’t it possible that this is a trend for a reason? Are some people not noticing that they simply feel better without it? And I’m not talking about celiacs, who absolutely and undisputed have a allergy to it.

Anyways, gluten never made me feel right. So forget what people are saying; what does science have to say?

Well, science has a name for my experience: Non Celiac Gluten Sensitivity. NCGS has been studied in relation to some psychiatric disorders such as schizophrenia and autism, as well as irritable bowel syndrome. NCGS is not uncommon, but it is more frequently self-diagnosed, as there is no standardized test for gluten sensitivity. Self-diagnosis is usually determined through an elimination diet.

But truth be told, I couldn’t find much regarding the relationship between any other disorders, aside from the aforementioned. Another study I found tried to link gluten sensitivity to depressive disorders, but simply concluded that although promising more studies were needed to support this theory.

So perhaps the science just isn’t there yet. As for my own personal opinion, I’m going for my gut with this one: gluten just doesn’t sit well with me.

What about you guys? Can you tolerate gluten, or does it make you moody?

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What is “normal” ?

What is “normal” when it comes to health?

I think we can all agree that the answer is different for everybody.

But one trend I do notice is people’s tendency to settle for their “normal” instead of optimal.

I, for example, find it “normal” to be bloated after eating.

Other people find it “normal” to have headaches everyday.

Mood swings.

Acne Breakouts.

Fatigue.

Dehydration.

Heartburn.

Constipation.

Is it really normal though? Or is it something we call normal because we are so used to dealing with it?

We call it normal because we deal with it every day.

You know what I think? I think we need to set a higher standard for ourselves, and stop settling for our “normal”.

I don’t need to be bloated after I eat. Even just saying that brings me so much joy! I am currently working on this using various techniques and I am slowly, but surely, getting better.

What would be you at your best? What symptoms have you been dealing with everyday that have become your “normal” ?

 

 

Professional Designations in the Nutrition World 

This is something I haven’t thought of much, but now I am brought to ponder it, due to some recent events regarding my soon-to-be professional designation. 

I am a student at the Calgary School of Natural Nutrition (CSNN). The views I am sharing in this post are mine and mine alone, based on my individual personal experiences. Also, these amendments effect Alberta only, as far as my own knowledge goes. 

The Health Practicioners Act recently made several amendments, one of which affects my fellow students and other CSNN graduates. 

Previous graduates have been using the professional designation of “Certified Holistic Nutritionist”. Now, because of the amendments, the word “nutritionist” is now protected in Alberta. 

I understand that this stems from a lot of supposed confusion in the general population about what it is that CSNN graduates actually do, so I want to share a bit of that today. I cannot make much comparison to other professions, for example a Registered Dietician. Not only am I not one, but I am also not educated on that particular profession, so it simply wouldn’t be my place. 

So I’m here to talk about my community of Certified Holistic Nutritional Consultants and the magic that they do. 

First and foremost, people gravitate to this program from all different directions. I’ve met Social Workers, Personal Trainers, Stay at home moms, and everything else under the sun. We all have two things in common: the desire to help others, and the understanding that the idea of health is highly interconnected. 

Holistic is the key word. The food that we eat plays a huge role in our health, but holistic acknowledges that it is not the only component to optimal wellness. 

Wellness. It’s about lifestyle. It’s about mindset. It’s about self-love, self-care, and kindness. It’s biochemical individuality. It’s a journey. 

I chose this road to helping others because of its values and ideas, and no wording on a title can change that for me. 

Whatever professional designation I use when I graduate, my purpose remains the same : to help people be the best they can be mind, body, and soul. To care for others and to help them learn how to care for themselves. 

Thank you readers for being here and sticking with me through all of the changes over the coming year! 

Strong to the Finish Challenge – Week 12

Well, I guess my self-care routine yesterday worked, because today I am back to my usual awesomeness!

I got a really solid sleep last night and I woke up feeling bright and light. I had a feeling it would be a better morning for photos, and thankfully it was!

It’s been 12 weeks of intense workouts, clean eating, and positive self-talk. 12 weeks of good ol’ fashioned hard work!

Here is the final result (drum roll please) ….


I can’t believe that this is it. I have come such a long way, in my mind, my body, and my soul. I feel more positive, optimistic, and grateful each and every day. I feel strong, healthy, and I am also down 20 lbs!

I remember when I started this journey my goal was to lose about 12 or 13 lbs – so finding out I hit the 20 lb mark has really blown me away!

I might not be the most ripped, shredded, muscular beast out there, but I am a much healthier version of me. This is a lifestyle that is sustainable, and I think that’s so important. These days, especially in the warmer months, many of us are so inclined to go on a crash diet to lose weight. Oh, if only it really worked that way! They are called crash diets because guess what: you crash! And you will eventually rebound back to how you were before because it was never the scale that needed to change… only your lifestyle.

Getting to my fittest self is a very long journey. For that I am forever grateful, and very humbled. Every tiny little thing that I’ve done has all come together in some way over time to become something more.

What can I say? I’m really glad that I decided to do this challenge.

The dieting game isn’t over for me although I will say: I can’t wait to start having regular treat meals! But mainly I plan to continue on as I have been. I’ve come so far… I am dying to see those abs start popping more! And I know I can get there!

So what’s next for me? Well, I would love to embark on another challenge, but that’s something I will think about more a few weeks down the road. I will continue to post fitness updates once a month here on the blog, just like I was doing before the challenge.

This has been one wildly fun adventure, thank you to all who came on it with me!

Only better things to come!!

10 Amazing Summer Popsicle Ideas!

What I love so much about summer is that it brings out my “inner kid”. Playing in playgrounds, running in the sunshine, and exercising myself into an afternoon flop on the couch!

Another thing that brings out my inner summer child: popsicles. They are easy to make and so versatile! But I’ve been able to appreciate even more just how versatile they are by scouring the internet to bring you my TOP TEN Amazing Summer Popsicle Ideas!

Prepare to feast your eyes because these photos and recipes are seriously astounding! And just as an FYI – all recipes are dairy free!

Black Forest Popsicles from Artful Desperado 

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Blackforest Cake was the cake that my sisters and I always wanted for our birthdays as kids! Turning it into a popsicle is absolutely brilliant. My mouth is watering!

Tart Rhubarb Ice Pops from Vega 

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I’m such a big fan of rhubarb and the tart flavor it brings to any creation. I love with recipe and would probably play around with the added orange and ginger ratios just to see what suited me best… you know… at least 7 or 8 times!

Dairy Free Fudge Pops from Against All Grain 

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You can never go wrong with chocolate in my books, but these popsicles have the added benefit of gelatin! Against All Grain also posts a link on their own page about the benefits, so you can get the recipe and get caught up on the greatness of gelatin all in one!

Coffee Popsicles from Wonky Wonderful 

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I am a coffee junkie, and these popsicles are an absolute dream. Sometimes when I get home from a long day I debate putting a put of coffee on, but during the summer I would much rather just grab one of these out of the freezer!

Key Lime Popsicles from Whole New Mom

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Look at these beauties! These popsicles are stunning yet simple enough to please a crowd. These popsicles also contain gelatin to give them a creamier texture, but Whole New Mom offers a vegan variation if that’s more your thing.

Mango and Dragon Fruit Pops from Young and Raw

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I have been so into Dragon Fruit lately; I love the grainy texture. Just looking at this Pop makes me feel like I’m on vacation! And I love the flavor separation – it gives you something to look forward to halfway through!

Blueberry Coconut Ice Pops from The Little Epicurian 

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The aesthetic appeal here is blowing me away. The ingredients are so simple that you might even have all ingredients on hand!

Tropical Ice Pops from Simply Beautiful Eating

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This presentation is EVERYTHING. I am so blown away! Simply Beautiful Eating has taken tropical Popsicles to a whole new level. I love the purple contrast inside the yellow popsicle!

Chai Spiced Coconut Fig Popsicles from Tasty Yummies 

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Chai is one of my favourite things ever, I love creamy textures mixed with spice! This is officially on my lift of “must make” popsicles!

Blueberry Basil Matcha Pops from The Girl Who Knows

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A few months ago I bought a bunch of matcha, and it’s been awesome in my smoothies- but I would love a different way to enjoy it! Blueberry suits perfectly, don’t you think?

Okay – officially obsessed with popsicles! I hope you guys enjoyed this post! It has been one of my favorite to date. And now that I’m feeling inspired… It’s time to get to my own creation! That will be up next, so stay tuned!