Getting a Good Night’s Sleep

By Chrissy MacDonald

Getting a good night’s sleep is something we may take for granted until it doesn’t come easy. If you have a hard time falling asleep every night, it can affect your whole life.

We spend about one third of our lives sleeping. Most adults need about six to eight hours of sleep every night. Children need more sleep than adults to be at their best. Teenagers need a lot of sleep. People usually need less sleep as they get older. Getting too little sleep can affect productivity and creativity.

When sleep is repeatedly disrupted, it can have a negative effect on our health, well being and mood. Many factors can affect the quality of sleep such as indigestion, breathing problems, pain, stress, depression, caffeine, some drugs, deficiency in calcium and magnesium, and a sedentary lifestyle.

Here are some things you might like to try to help you sleep better:

  • Go to bed and get up at approximately the same time each day.
  • Establish a ritual before bedtime. This might include a warm bath about an hour before then a cup of chamomile tea.
  • In the late hours of the day and early evening, avoid eating foods such as chocolate, cheese, ham, tomatoes and sugar which tend to be stimulants. Foods such as bananas, figs, yogurt, turkey, tuna and whole wheat are more likely to help promote sleep.
  • Eat a healthy diet. When the body is deficient in copper, iron, calcium or magnesium, normal sleep can be disrupted.
  • Avoid alcohol which can contribute to disrupted sleep.
  • Keep the television and other distractions out of the bedroom.
  • The bedroom should be comfortable, calming and quiet. Keep colors and lighting soft.
  • Pay attention to your pillow and mattress. When buying new ones, try them out in the store for a few minutes to make sure you get what you need.
  • If you have trouble falling asleep because of worrying, try to focus on happy memories and thoughts. Think of ten things you are thankful for.
  • Learn relaxation techniques such as meditation.
  • A regular program of exercise can improve the quality of sleep.

If you find it difficult to sleep on a regular basis, look at all of these things, examine your diet and any drugs you are taking. See if you can find a reason your sleep is being disrupted.  Do everything you can to fix the problem instead of relying on drugs to help you sleep.


10 Fitness Walking Tips – Lose Weight and Get in Shape

By Chrissy MacDonald

If you’ve been in hibernation all winter avoiding icy sidewalks and snow drifts, now there’s no excuse. It’s time to get outside. Spring is finally here!

It’s been a long cold and snowy winter here in Nova Scotia. Now the grass is showing some green and tiny buds are forming on the trees. I’m finished with the snow shoes – finally.

Walking is a great way to get in shape. Since walking is a weight-bearing exercise, it can help increase bone density and help prevent osteoporosis. Walking is a good way to lose weight since every mile you travel burns about 100 calories. Think of that as a medium cookie or half a chocolate bar. Since metabolism is boosted after exercise, your body will burn calories more efficiently after a walk.

Whether you enjoy a leisurely stroll in the evening or walking through the malls, walking is a great exercise. Any type of walking is enjoyable and contributes to active living. Fitness walking or speed walking is more vigorous. When you breathe harder, it gives your heart and lungs a workout.

Here are a few ideas to help make your fitness walking more efficient.

  1. Wear sturdy and comfortable shoes. If you have knee or ankle issues, it’s especially important to have good support.
  2. Warm up by walking slower for the first five or ten minutes, then pick up the pace in the middle of the walk, and end your walk with a cool down or slower pace. If you get calf pain after walking, warming up will help prevent this.
  3. When picking up the pace, make your strides faster instead of longer.
  4. Drink water before and after your fitness walks. If you are going for a long walk, bring a water bottle.
  5. Pay attention to your breathing and keep it controlled. Try breathing with your steps –in with two or three steps – out with two or three steps (depending on how fast you are going).
  6. Keep your posture upright. Relax shoulders. Swing arms forward and back. Don’t use ankle or hand weights which throw the body off balance and makes it hard on the joints. Do strength training separately.
  7. Eat a healthy diet with a balance of carbohydrates, protein and fats. Stay away from high protein, low fat or any deprivation fad diets. A healthy balanced diet will help maintain a healthy body and provide energy for exercise.
  8. Incorporate some simple stretches after your walk. Speed walking tightens the hamstring muscles in the back of the legs. A good stretch is to lie on your back, put a belt under your foot, extend the leg and feel a gentle stretch behind the thigh without pulling behind the knee. Hold for about 20 seconds and then do the other leg.
  9. To stay motivated to walk for exercise, get together with a friend for a walk instead of talking over coffee. Or take your backpack and do a few errands.
  10. Check with your doctor before you start any new exercise including fitness walking.

Walking is a great way to stay in shape and enjoy the fresh Spring air. And it makes you feel good. Happy trails!

Getting Back on Track after a Setback

By Chrissy MacDonald

Have you ever had a setback in your plan to be healthy, fit and happy?

Maybe you vowed to cut back on drinking or to quit smoking or stop eating junk food. Maybe you started an exercise program as a New Year’s Resolution but it’s fallen by the wayside. Or maybe your dream of losing 10 pounds by Spring somehow fizzled.

We all want to be healthy and happy. It’s good to strive to be a kind and loving person who doesn’t gossip or waste precious time on useless activities.

We do our best but it’s too easy to fall back into old habits. But when we do, the important thing is to just get back on track.

Every day I plan to do these things: write, practice Yoga, walk the dog, read the Bible, meditate. I also try to be calm and content and positive and live in the present moment. Cleaning the house, making meals and getting groceries, stuff like that, is a given. They must be done. And with this little Vizsla puppy, I need to get outside for a walk to give her exercise. So that gets me outside too. As for the other things, I admit they don’t always get done every single day. But I try. And every day, I try again.

We falter, do things we regret and we omit important things from our lives. But when that happens, we need to forgive ourselves for making a mistake or giving up or not doing something we promised ourselves we’d do.

We need to love ourselves and carry on. Sometimes that’s all it takes.

If you make a mistake, if exercising gets sidetracked or you smoke that first cigarette after going weeks without, remember it doesn’t have to be all or nothing. Re-focus. Pick yourself up and continue on your journey.

Have a beautiful day!

“We have two lives—the one we learn with and the life we live after that.”
Bernard Malamud