Healthy Living: Know, Nurture and Nourish Yourself

CARE4YOU: The Fifth Annual conference on Compassion Fatigue, Secondary Traumatic Stress and Burnout is designed to care for those who care for others. This year, the program was developed around the theme of “Creating Change Agents”. The Conference will be held in Kingston, On. June 9-10, 2015.

This week, we highlight some of our exciting speakers and topics

Food: Know, Nurture and Nourish Yourself

with Dr. Deb Thompson

In the helping profession, conscious self-care is challenging. Eating well, exercising and quality sleep are not always priorities, especially when competing commitments get in the way. Nourishing yourself for optimal energy, vitality, wellness and body composition is challenging, but not impossible. In this session, Dr. Deb Thompson shares her expertise in guiding helping professionals who struggle to sustain conscious self-care, including how, when, why and what to eat.

Her experiences include a personal weight loss of 85 lbs, which she has successfully maintained over 10 years. Her commitment to healthy nourishment is a personal and professional one. Throughout her presentation, participants will learn how to work with individual resistance, rebellion, preferences and competing commitments to forge a self-nourishment plan.

Participants will discover tools to help identify eating patterns, and ways to meet needs for fuel, flavor, fun, and comfort in deliciously effective fashion. She will encourage participants to become curious, compassionate and responsive to nourishment needs. As well, Dr. Thompson will help teach participants strategies for organizing nourishing efforts, since disorganization can undermine sustainable lifestyle change. Helping professionals are busy, responsible and caring people. This session is designed to help the helpers lead healthier, more joyous lives through the comfort of nourishing foods.

Dr. Deb Thompson is a Registered Psychologist and Integral Coach™. She has worked in private practice for almost 20 years as a therapist, and 7 years as a life and executive coach and fitness instructor, with a special interest in topics of self-care, health and wellness. Deb knows firsthand the challenges of integrating the commitments of self, family and work in a helping profession. Her approach includes cognitive behavioural therapy, acceptance and commitment therapy, person-centred therapy and compassion-focused therapy. She is committed to listening and questioning attentively without judgment, offering fresh perspectives and championing patient growth.

 For more information on CARE4YOU click here

Summertime reads, recipe and an invitation to stay in touch

Here’s a quick post for you today with three items: new reads, a recipe and an invitation…

It’s finally summer!  This is hopefully a time for you to slow down a bit, enjoy the beautiful weather, have a picnic, maybe go to a local market or outdoor music festival on your day off.

June was a very busy time for me, starting with the wonderful Care4You conference (photos will be posted next week!), a work trip the Florida Panhandle,  and a trek to England to visit family and friends.

Needless to say that by July 1st, I felt the need for a little r&r after all of this excitement.

Whenever I finish a hectic time and need to refuel, I try to go back to the basics: get more sleep, eat more greens and less carbs, ditch the caffeine and get more exercise. Those simple things help keep me grounded, and when I go too long without them I start feeling tired, unwell and irritable. So I went back to read my favourite healthy eating blogs and spent a bit more time in the kitchen juicing and making homemade meals. I came across this weird and wonderful gluten-free bread recipe that I will share with you below. There are also some newly published compassion fatigue articles to recommend, for your time in the hammock!

1) New Reads

I just had two new articles published and a book chapter which I co-wrote with my colleague Leslie McLean from Capital Health Cancer Care, in Halifax.

For Family Caregivers: When the Juggling Act Isn’t Working: 5 Key Strategies to Reduce Compassion Fatigue and Burnout. Fall 2016 Family Caregiver Newsmagazine

For nurses: Occupational Hazards: Compassion Fatigue, Vicarious Trauma and Burnout. Click here

New Book Chapter: Managing Compassion Fatigue, Burnout and Moral Distress in Person and Family Centered Care Click here


2) Healthy Eating, Cool Gluten-Free Bread Recipe

If you read this blog regularly, you’ll know that I am a big fan of healthy eating and enjoy reading food blogs for pleasure. My two current favourites are Choosing Raw by Gena Hamshaw, a New York nutritionist, and My New Roots, a beautiful whole food blog by Sarah B. a Canadian who now lives in Denmark but recently spent 6 weeks in Bali (yes, I know, tough). What I like about these bloggers is that they propose easy, fresh recipes without dogma.

Sarah B. posted a crazy-sounding gluten-free bread recipe last year, called “The Life Changing Loaf of Bread” which may seem like a rather bold statement. I was intrigued, but did not have time to gather the ingredients to try it out until yesterday. Well, what a success! This produces a very dense, toastable seed bread. Not suitable for sandwiches but perfect for toasting. Fantastic! Click here for a the link to the recipe.

3)  Join the anti-spam brigade, and make sure you stay on our mailing list!

Finally, an important note to any of you on my mailing list. If you are a Canadian reader, you will likely have been deluged by emails lately from all sorts of businesses asking you to confirm that you wish to continue receiving their emails. A new anti-spam legislation became effective july 1st, 2014 and if you do not confirm your desire to receive emails from us, we will have to remove you to comply with the regulation. So please take a minute to click on the “confirm” button in the email we sent you recently.  Thanks!

Now, I’m going to go watch some tennis and World cup soccer and drink some romaine, cucumber fennel juice. (It sounds weird but it tastes great.)

Here’s wishing you a lovely summer!

Being Healthy: It’s all about Perspective

Every day this week, we are sharing with you some highlights of the upcoming Compassion Fatigue Care4You Conference June 3-4th, 2014

Plenary Session: Being Healthy – It’s all about Perspective

Take a quick look at any magazine stand at your local supermarket – the headlines are either about celebrities or weight loss (or both at the same time):  “Flat abs in two weeks”, “Miracle new pill that lets you lose weight while you sleep”, “Huge muscles” (for men) and “Strong and toned, but not too bulky” (for women). Doesn’t it get a little confusing and just a bit overwhelming? What is healthy eating? What does “being fit” really mean?

Exploring the connection between healthy minds and healthy bodies, this session features three experts with a passion for health, inside and out, and a message about keeping your quest for “health” in proper perspective.

Challenging “Self-Care”: The power of changing your attitude toward diet and exercise

Carrie Watson, MSW, RSW

Carrie Watson Counselling, Kingston

Carrie Watson is passionate about working with individuals and families struggling with eating disorders, disordered eating, poor body image, and self-esteem issues. She believes in building confidence from a variety of sources including healthy relationships, meaningful daily practices, self-reflection, and mindful living. Carrie guides her clients to consider how the body can support the life of which they dream, and teaches the value of being gentle and forgiving with one’s self. Carrie has eight years of clinical experience in community settings, and has taught at the high school and college levels. Carrie currently divides her time between her clinical practice at the North Kingston Community Health Centre and her private practice.

Nutrition: The fuel for mental health

Jess Sherman, Registered Holistic Nutritionist

Jess Sherman Nutrition, Kingston

Jess Sherman work as a nutritionist, primarily with mothers and families. She started her career as a teacher and earned degrees from McGill, Queen’s, and UofT.  But found that the classroom was not where she could most effectively help children. So she left to study nutrition and developed a particular interest in the connection between food and development/behaviour.  Jess coaches her clients in how to use food to help their children and themselves thrive. She also coaches parents around issues of self-care through her MamaCare program.

Be kind to your body: Who said fitness had to be punishing?

Renee Whitney, Personal Trainer, Owner of Focus Personal Fitness Studio

Focus Personal Fitness Studio, Kingston

Renee Whitney has an honours degree in sports psychology and is a certified personal trainer and group fitness instructor. With over 20 years of experience in the health and fitness industry, Renee is the owner of a very successful fitness studio in Kingston. At Focus, the emphasis is on using proper form to prevent injury, and on whole-person health and lifestyle changes.

Click here for more information

Meghan Telpner has spark! A Healthy Living Blog To Watch

I just ate a delicious kale salad in an airport – how great is that! A few years ago, the best you could do while travelling was fill yourself up with peanuts and pretzels. Today, as I am making my way to Hawaii for a conference, I was able to get a healthy sugar-free smoothie in Toronto, this beautiful salad in Vancouver and, I’m sure, lots of good fish waiting for me in Honolulu. The other day I noticed that Jugo Juice at Union Station in Toronto now offers healthy oatmeal with hemp seeds, chia and oatmeal groats. Now if only YVR had a yoga studio…here’s to hoping, maybe in a few years! Healthy eating is clearly mainstream now and more easily available, certainly in major city centres. It’s impressive.

Meghan Telpner is a Toronto-based Nutritionist and the author of the popular new book “Undiet: Eat Your Way To Vibrant Health,” She is also one of our star keynote speakers at this year’s Care4You Compassion Fatigue Conference June 3-4, 2014. I love her weekly video blog. It’s fun, a little saucy and full of great healthy living advice. But what I like most of all is that she doesn’t judge and encourages people to embrace one change at a time – no diets, no “cheat days” just making changes gradually and consciously.

I can’t wait to have her at our conference!

Off to Honolulu now. Mahalo!

To view Meghan’s blog, click here



Pitch the diet, toss the labels


I was vegetarian for nearly 25 years – I avoided meat for humanitarian and health reasons and I felt very comfortable with my choices. I don’t think that I was strident – I didn’t impose my diet on others and I was fine with meat being served in my home. Yet, I got a lot of flack from omnivores over the years. I always thought it was strange, as I didn’t criticize their eating choices, but somehow it seemed ok for meat eaters to ask a vegetarian to justify protein sources and explain why I made this choice. I always wondered why meat eaters didn’t have to justify eating factory farmed meat, but I didn’t say anything. Really, the dude eating kraft dinner for lunch and a hot dog for supper doesn’t have to explain his choice, but if I have falafels for dinner, I have to give a treatise on it? Come on.

I know that it wasn’t their aim, but comments from omnivores and vegetarians also made me feel hemmed in, as if I couldn’t eat one little piece of meat even if I wanted to, ever. Then I began struggling with low iron, and started thinking about changing my diet, but part of me felt that I couldn’t start adding meat protein – that I would get no end of hassle for it, from both sides of the debate. Seven years ago, I began running half marathons and I found that I really needed some animal protein in my diet to sustain my energy (I know this isn’t everyone’s situation, that there are some very successful vegan ultra marathoners etc.) but for me, it definitely was the case. So I added grass-fed organic chicken to my diet, and I felt immediately better, had more energy, and wasn’t hungry all the time. Hurrah! Over time, I started including more organic local meat in my diet, and now I eat a balance of whatever foods are good for my specific needs. I still consume a primarily vegetarian diet, with lots of organic plants, seeds, nuts, some local grass fed meat, and I feel great.

There is a lot out there about healthy eating these days: Veganism, vegetarianism, paleo, gluten free, mediterranean… It can all get a bit confusing and overwhelming. It’s fine to experiment with various ways of eating and seeing what works best for your particular needs, but it’s just as important to make sure that these choices don’t become a rigid box you can’t work your way out of. Some high profile raw vegan bloggers recently received death threats (I kid you not) for blogging about their decision to start eating local humanely raised meat. Imagine the courage it took for them to “come out” as no longer vegan! And on the other side, large food corporations are trying to brainwash us into thinking that their new super-refined “gluten free” breads are healthy. What a zoo! How confusing!

Nutritionist Meghan Telpner recently posted a great video discussion about this called “How do I ditch the guilt over changing my diet?”

The challenge, Meghan says, is figuring out what is right for you at this particular time in your life, getting rid of labels altogether and being willing to adjust and revise your choices along the way. Check out her great videoblog about this by clicking here.


Get up, stand up, stand up for your life!

According to Statistics Canada, only 15 per cent of adults and 7 per cent of children meet the minimum recommended physical activity guidelines every day.  André Picard

Someone recently said to me “I can’t get on the floor and play with my pets anymore, my hips are so stiff” and this person was only in his mid fifties.

You’ve probably seen the most recent research findings on how our sedentary lifestyle is really harmful to our health. It’s been all over the media lately. The Globe and Mail’s André Picard wrote an article this week where he quipped “sitting is the new smoking”. The short version of the findings are this: sitting for long stretches of time is bad for you, so you should get up and move at least 2 minutes for every 20 that you sit. Better yet, get a standing desk if you’re a desk jockey. Read More

A good read: 5 excuses that keep you unhealthy

As someone who travels quite a bit (in the next few weeks I am going to Philadelphia, Toronto, Ottawa, Cuba, Mississauga, Thunder Bay and Newfoundland, in that order), I often find it a struggle to eat healthily and exercise when I’m on the road. It’s not just a matter of willpower, it’s also the fact that healthy food is always harder to get your hands on than refined carbs when you’re away from home. We know it’s cheaper to put danishes on a table than a fruit tray, so conference organisers with tight budgets opt for the danishes and muffins. Thankfully, this is improving gradually – I was thrilled to find a juicer in the last hotel I stayed at: in the buffet line, next to the sausages and pancakes was a tray full of fresh cut up vegetables and fruit and a juicer! Heaven. The Toronto Eaton Centre has a new vegan fast food outlet in their “urban eatery.” I now try to pack a cooler before I leave home, when that is possible. I pack fresh fruit, cut up vegetables, almonds, nut butter, hummus, healthy crackers, herbal tea, water, Lara bars, an avocado and some dark chocolate (you gotta live a little!). Sometimes I make a quinoa salad to eat on the road. I try to eat protein and vegetables and skip the refined carbs. If I don’t have time to pack food or if I’m crossing the border, I bring nuts and seeds and Lara bars and try to eat sushi and find some juice bars along the way.

I may not have the time or energy for a full workout, but I try to do pushups, planks and squats in my hotel room, if I’m too tired to go down to the hotel gym (and some of those “fitness rooms” are seriously awful – rattly treadmill in a broom closet, anyone?). If you only travel once in a while, you can get in the mode of “this is special – let’s treat ourselves” but at some point, those special exceptions turn into regular habits and pretty soon you’re a bloated, tired, out of shape road warrior.

Whether you travel or not, you may find that you struggle with sticking to healthy habits. Many people say “I don’t have time to exercise” or “I’m too out of shape, I don’t even know where to start”. Just for you, here’s a good read from Leo Babauta’s website Zen Habits: “5 excuses that keep you unhealthy.” 

Let me know if you have any strategies to battle the inertia of healthy eating and exercise when you are on the road!

(Image from gameanna)

For women (and the men who love them): Watch these two fascinating Ted talks

If you have a few minutes, take a look at this captivating scientist practitioner talk about the connection between your endocrine system and the four phases of your body in a monthly cycle. Fascinating.

Alissa Vitti on Tedx FiDi Women

If you still have time and want to watch a wildly entertaining video on the need for women to reconnect with pleasure (yes, that kind, but also other kinds of pleasures), watch Mama Gena’s Ted talk. She’s a vibrant, inspiring whole lot of woman! Imagine if I made my entrance at one of my workshops like she does! 🙂

TEDxFiDiWomen – Regena Thomashauer

Let me know what you thought of those two inspiring videos.

Wishing you a happy, sane enough, full enough, calm enough week.

It’s that time of the year again: Take the 5/30 Challenge! C’est le retour du défi 5/30!

This wellness challenge is an initiative of heart institute of Montreal. For the next six weeks, you are invited to commit to eating at least 5 portions of fruit/vegetables per day and exercise for at least 30 minutes daily (these can be three separate 10 minute activities such as climbing the stairs, walking to the grocery store and going for a walk at lunch, or one thirty minute exercise session).

You can make this commitment on your own, with your family or create a work team. If you are reading this before March 1st, you can enroll in the challenge online (even if you are not from Quebec).

Relevez le défi 5/30! Une initiative de l’institut de cardiologie de Montréal. Pour les 6 prochaines semaines, optez de manger au moins 5 fruits ou légumes par jour et de faire 30 minutes d’activité physique. Vous pouvez vous inscrire sur le site ou relevez votre propre défi au bureau ou avec votre famille! Visitez leur site pour plus d’information.