Five EASY Tips to a Healthier You

Hey there!  We are well into September, almost into October in fact.  This time of year always makes me happy.  I love the cooler nights.  I love the leaves changing colour.  I love anything that smells of apples and cinnamon baking together.  Speaking of apples and cinnamon baking together have you seen THIS?  See, with just one quick link to a YouTube video I made your life instantly better today.  I personally can’t wait to blow my family’s minds when I make this for them this week {with one minor tweak…I’ll use coconut flour in lieu of wheat flour}.  Of course, I’ll have to trial run it a couple of times before…

Anyhow, to get to the point of my post, I want to connect in with people today who are struggling already with their health this fall.  As we get further into fall and then into winter {stay with me…I know it’s painful to accept winter is coming but stay with me….}, people tend to get sick more often.  Let’s clear something up though.  It’s not because there are an abundance of extra germs out there that suddenly decide to come out and play.  There are a number of causes to this phenomenon.  Let’s start first by stating the obvious.  I live in Canada, about an hour north of Toronto.  And it’s freakin’ cold here in winter.  It was so cold last year that we didn’t even get that much snow. With that massive shift in temperatures, I notice a few things amongst the general population of people I get to work with daily in my practice.

  • people are more sedentary and do not exercise as much in the colder months
  • people get less exposure to sunlight thus less vitamin D {for two reasons…firstly, there literally IS less daylight hours and secondly, reminding you that I live in Canada in the winter, it’s freakin’ cold so people do not venture outside nearly as much as they do in the summer}
  • people eat more crap – processed foods, comfort foods, carb laden foods – and less fresh foods

There are a few other things here and there but I would say that those are the top three reasons that individuals tend to be more likely to get sick in the colder months.  Combine that with other unhealthy habits and it’s a recipe for colds, flu, and XYZ infection.

But I am here to help YOU keep and stay healthy this year.  I am going to give you five easy tips that you can follow.  These will significantly increase your chances of staying healthier over the next six months.  Ready?

  1.  Get adjusted by a Chiropractor.  Wait, what?  Hold the phone.  What does a Chiropractor have to do with keeping me healthy.  In a nutshell: Chiropractors ensure your nervous system is working properly.  Your nervous system controls every single part of your body including your immune system.  Your immune system is what keeps you from getting sick.  rethink_chiropractic_infographic-600x464
  2. Improve your gut health.  Did you know that your gut has 10x more bacteria than your entire body has cells?  Think about that for a moment – you are more bacterial than you are cellular.  Your gut comprises over 75% of your immune system so if you don’t eat a healthy diet, you’re directly impacting how well your immune system works.  I can tell you to stop eating processed foods but you already know this.  I am definitely going to tell you to cut the wheat and other inflammatory grains out of your diet. If you really want to get some amazing actionable steps on how to improve your gut health, go to and download his Gut Health ebook.  He talks about the benefits of fermented foods and he’s really REALLY smart when it comes to this stuff.
  3. Use Essential Oils.  Exceptional quality ones (email me at for info on the essential oils I choose and ONLY use for my family’s health).  There are so many different essential oils out there that can support your immunity and give you that extra boost when you need it.  I diffuse them into the rooms we frequent and I massage them topically into my skin {and my kids’ skin too!} so that we’ve got an all-natural, non-toxic and EFFECTIVE way to keep our bodies protected. essential_oils2-530x350
  4. Get active.  I can hear the excuses rumbling already….”I don’t have the time.” It can take as little as twenty minutes a day.  Everyone has twenty minutes a day.   “I don’t like exercise.” Too bad.  Suck it up.  You’re an adult and adults have to exercise.  Period.   “It’s too expensive to join a gym.”  You know what’s expensive?  Taking a day or a week off work or away from your family because you can hardly get out of bed.  But here’s the best part….you don’t need a gym!  You can get a workout in your own home.  You can walk around your neighbourhood.  I used to put a lot more emphasis on the type of activity people got.  I believe strongly that more emphasis should be put on building strength than on cardio {and I still believe that 100%}.  But here’s the thing…any activity is good activity if you’re not doing anything right now.  Just get up and get moving.
  5. Get Rest.  Not everyone needs the same amount of sleep a night.  Some people do well on 7 hours, some people do well on 9.  The point though is to make sure you get rest.  Your body heals when you sleep.  Think about it…when you’re sick, your body naturally wants to sleep more.  It innately knows that it needs to rest and so you do just that.  Why would you think when you’re healthy that you don’t need sleep?  Shut off your computer.  Turn off the TV.  Put down the book.

So, there you go.  Five easy tips that anyone can implement into their life today.  And while tips are great, they are nothing without action.  Just knowing them isn’t enough.  You actually have to implement these into your life.  🙂  Here’s to a healthier YOU this winter.

Dear Maggie

Dear Maggie,


Hey Kid.  You know what?  You’re very cute when you wake up from your naps in the middle of the afternoon.  And if I could see clearly at 11PM, I’d bet you’re really cute then too.  And at 1AM, 2:30AM, 4:30AM, and 5AM.

You and I had a really good thing going when you were eight weeks old.  Do you remember what that was?  You would go to sleep at 6 at night and sleep until 6 in the morning.  All night!  You wouldn’t wake up once!  And you did that all the way up until you were six months old.  At some point, you just kind of lost that ability to sleep for longer than 4 hours at a time.  And now….well, now, you can’t seem to sleep for more than 2 hours at a time.  Funny, right?

The irony of you having a three hour nap in the middle of the afternoon today is not lost on me.  Not one bit.  If I had known you would have slept that long, I might have tried napping myself.  Instead, I drank two more cups of tea while working on some marketing stuff.  No big deal….just doing my thing.  On less than four hours sleep.  Again…..

So, let’s make a deal, okay?  Tonight, you go to sleep at 7 and stay that way until the next morning.  I wouldn’t even mind a 5AM wake up call (I miss the 5AM club and my awesome power hours!) if it meant that you slept straight through.

Love and kisses,

Your mama

No sleep. Again.

A few months ago I posted a question on my Twitter feed to moms and dads.  Would you prefer A) a full night of uninterrupted sleep or B) the ability to grocery shop without kids.

The majority of responders, including myself, opted for grocery shopping.  I never realized, before having kids, how lovely it is to peruse the aisles of a grocery store in peace and quiet.   To not have to return random junk food that had been snuck into the cart three aisles ago.  To not deal with the mad dash from the back of the store up to the bathroom at the front of the store for the third time since we arrived, a mere 45 minutes earlier.  Avoiding the meltdown in the snack aisle as I pick up the apple sauce that is inconveniently stocked beside the chocolate pudding (damn you, marketing geniuses!).  Grocery shopping on my own is pure bliss.

However, after a week of continuous midnight wake up calls, I would like to withdraw my vote and opt for a full night of uninterrupted sleep.  A few nights in a row would be even better but I would settle for just one at this point.  Last night I was up five times with Maggie.  FIVE times.  She didn’t wake up that many times when she was a newborn.  And she’s just so AWAKE when she’s up at that hour.  What could possibly possess a 16 month old child to need to be AWAKE at 10:30, 11:45, 2:15, 3:30 and 5:30?  She’s not teething.  She’s not hungry.  She’s just awake.  Very very awake.

And when she’s up for the day at 7, she’s up.  And happy.

I wasn’t so happy.  I was downright tired.  It took me halfway through a shower before I could even open my eyes.  And on the way to dropping the kids at daycare and school today, the light was actually hurting my eyes.  As I write this I’m on my second cup of tea, already heating up the water for a third.  Mmmmm, tea.

While I don’t want my kids to grow up any faster than they are designed to, I would love it if there was just more sleep.  I do remember what it’s like to wake up refreshed and energized but that memory is fading.  I realize that she will sleep through the night soon enough.  My other kids do and they aren’t that much older.  I know the light is there at the end of the tunnel, it’s just so faint!

On a more positive note, I saw this on Facebook this morning, and it made me laugh.  So, I thought I would share because I know there are lots of other moms out there who are in the same boat.

Best Coffee Cup Ever.

Best. Coffee. Cup. Ever.

The quiet days in between the busy days

So, last week a little busy.  We had THIS.  Then THIS.  Then we spent the night of Caleigh’s birthday at my dad’s place which was filled with the kids’ excitement of not being at home.  Then the day after we had another child’s birthday party followed by carving six pumpkins (five Ryan family members plus the dog’s….don’t ask).  The following words come to mind: loud, busy, fun, colourful, sugar.

Come Sunday evening, I was exhausted.

I literally sat on the couch last night, feet up, wine in hand, and watched a movie without having any idea what it was about.

So today I did pretty much nothing.  I had a quiet day.  I bailed on CrossFit (although did a home workout that lasted about 30 minutes, I just didn’t want the whole gym experience that I normally thrive on).  I wore yoga pants all day.  I laid on the couch and watched a movie with Blake and Maggie.  I visited my mom and stepdad with the kids.  When Caleigh got home, we made bracelets out of elastic bands.  I did a few loads of laundry, baked some muffins, and made dinner.  It was all very laid back, relaxed, and lovely.

These are the days that I need and love (the quiet days), in between the other days that I need and love (the more full days of adjusting and kids activities and everything else that comes with life of a family of five).  The quieter days that, when I lay my head down on my pillow in about a half hour, I smile.  These days leave me feeling rested and grateful for my family, my health, and our ability to provide such a lovely, full, wonderful life for our kids.

It is about having an appreciation the small things like scooping out muffin batter to make the easiest by design muffins with my son as he squeals with delight when the batter plops perfectly into each muffin cup.  Or like watching Maggie laugh hysterically as her older brother and sister run around in circles, convulsed in their own laughter.  Or like watching Caleigh fall in love with her latest obsession, the Rainbow loom bracelets.  Enjoying a glass of red wine, listening to a great mix on Songza, and now writing my blog post about it all.  It was all just great, every moment of it.

And now, I’m going to bed.



Sleep much?

Yeah, yeah.  I’m a mom of three kids, one of whom is under a year so I’m not getting a lot of sleep.  I know I’ve blogged about this at least a dozen times.  But there’s a twist now.   It’s not Maggie who has been interfering with my sleep the last few weeks.  She’s doing much much better.  After this nonsense, she didn’t have much to do other than to sleep more.

Lately, it’s Blake who has been challenging me with my rest.  He’s sneaky and sweet about it.  He doesn’t call out in the middle of the night.  He doesn’t fall out of bed.  He just plods into our room and then stands at the head of our bed, about 4 inches from my face and stares.  Until his presence makes me open my eyes, and he asks “Mom?  You awake?  Can I sleep with you?”

I know what you’re thinking.  Say no.  Just say no.  But here’s the thing.  I’m making up for a lot of lost sleep.  And so the idea at 4AM of getting out of bed to walk him back to his room is just painful.  I know the next thing you’re thinking.  Let Tom walk him back.  Here’s the thing.  According to Tom, he doesn’t hear Blake come into the room at 4 in the morning.  I’m not completely convinced that this is the case.  I’m pretty sure that Tom is fully aware of his son’s presence in the early morning hours.  He just chooses to ignore it or hope that I do something to handle it.  He’s much better at faking sleep than I am.

So Blake climbs into bed with us but within about twenty minutes, instead of being comfortable, our sleeping situation resembles something like this:



This picture indicates the average size of a small toddler, maybe an eighteen month old.  Blake is four and a half.  I’ll let you figure out what that feels and looks like.  I try to remind myself that when they are seventeen I will miss this stage.  The stage where our kids want to be comforted, hugged, and snuggled.  Where they love climbing into bed with us and wiggling their warm little bodies inbetween ours for safety and comfort.  It’s sweet, right?



I’m struggling

It’s 8:55PM and I should be on my way to bed.  But I’m not tired. I have no idea why I’m not tired because I have averaged four hours sleep the last three nights.  I’m not tired at bedtime but I am struggling during the day.

Maggie’s sleep strike has now gone on three nights.  She goes to down to sleep okay but by 11PM she’s up.  And I mean UP.  Awake and happy.  Awake and nursing.  Awake and crying.  We just cycle through those different awake modes and after three hours, I want to join her in the crying fits. Literally I can be found in the fetal position beside her crib, with my hand reaching up to her because I don’t have the energy to stand anymore.  She’s only in her crib because she won’t fall back asleep in our bed.  The tossing, turning, and kicking gets to be too much.  So we move into her room in the hopes of that her own bed will be better.  It isn’t.

Once she does pass out from pure exhaustion (I think), I collapse into bed, only to be woken within an hour to her cries again.  It’s one three long frustrating nights.

So, I’m struggling.


The silver lining though is that I had every reason to justify a two hour work session at a Starbucks this afternoon.  I was almost giddy.  Me.  My Mac.  My tea latte (oh yes, I had no guilt over the sugar or caffeine today, let me tell you!).  Oh, and no kids.  NO KIDS.   Two hours dedicated to planning out 2014 in our office.  Each event, seminar, and special day are now organized and I have to say it feels good.

We’re pretty excited because 2014 is our 25th year in business in Barrie.  That’s pretty awesome (imaginary high fives all around)!  While I haven’t been adjusting for 25 years, our office has been serving Barrie with exceptional chiropractic care for a quarter century.  In anticipation, we are putting together some exciting and unique ways to commemorate the milestone.  It’s my job to make sure that all comes together smoothly.  I’m on it.

So, It’s now 9:15 and I can feel my eyes starting to droop.  I’m officially off to bed.  And hoping against all hopes that Maggie chooses to sleep through the night.  Or at least a seven hour stretch.  Otherwise I’m going to take up permanent residence at my local Chapters.

Books + Starbucks = happy (caffeinated) mama.

Sleep strike

So, if you’re just tuning in, I’m a mom of three amazing kids.  One of those three amazing kids is Maggie, who is ten months old.   When Maggie was just eight weeks old she slept through the night for the first time.  The trend continued until she was six months old, which mean that for four glorious months I slept through the night.

I could get up and enjoy my morning power hour on my own.

I could go to bed at ten knowing that I would get a solid seven hours sleep without interruption.

I could drink a glass of wine without worrying about feeling groggy in the middle of the night.

I could even get up to pee whenever I had to and not worry about creaky floors or a toilet flush making too much noise.

Four glorious months.

When Maggie started teething, that blissful well-rested state violently came to an end.  She decided one night that continuous sleep was not necessary.  She would get up once, twice, or even three times a night.  And because I am so good at creating really tasty, satisfying breast milk, I seem to be the only one who can get her back to sleep.  (What I would give for my husband to be able to breast feed!)

I remember when she was first born I wrote a post all about how while I was exhausted with newborn sleep schedules, I rather enjoyed our midnight feedings.  There are time I really do still feel that way.  I relish the quiet time while the world is silent around us.  I still talk to her about the future, about how great she is, and about what I hope for her in life.  And as she drifts off back to sleep, it puts a smile on my face because there is such a sweet innocence about it.


Last night, however, was a whole other story.  She looked sweet but here was nothing innocent about her sleeping pattern.  At 6 this morning, I sat on our couch, exhausted and bewildered, with a cup of tea in my hand  and complained to Tom about her sudden sleep strike.  She chose to just not sleep from 2AM-5AM for no apparent reason.  And she wasn’t even upset.  She was happy.  Annoyingly happy.  She smiled, babbled, gurgled, cooed, and blew raspberries.  For three freakn’ hours.  It didn’t matter how many times I put her back down beside me into her sleeping position or got her to breastfeed or snuggled her in bed, she would not fall back asleep.  (Tom, by the way, was sleeping peacefully in the basement with our older two kids for a mid-week camp-out/sleep over)

I can handle 20 minutes of wake time but as it started to go on and we were chalking up hours of missed precious sleep, I grew increasingly frustrated.  To the point where for the first time in years, I contemplated just putting Maggie in her own room and let her sort out this sleeping thing on her own.  I don’t believe in letting a child cry it out at night.  I’ve tried it in the past, with Caleigh, and it literally felt like ripping my heart out of my chest.  I even tried to convince myself that it was okay for our child (which I now whole-heartedly know in my gut is wrong) and that she would learn.

So while at about the two hour mark, I really REALLY wanted to put her into her room and let her figure her way back to sleep….I knew there was no way I could actually go through with it.  Instead the two of us lay in my bed and I tossed and turned for the three hours until she finally, FINALLY fell back asleep.

Tonight as I write this post before going to bed, I wonder what the next few hours have in store for us.  I’m desperately hoping that the lack of sleep last night will allow her to sleep soundly tonight but I won’t hold my breath.  I know that she will eventually find her sleeping pattern again and make it through the night without needing to wake.  I’m not going to get hung up on when it’s going to happen.  Yes, it was lovely for those four glorious months.  I remember that well-rested-I-don’t-need-caffeine-lets-go-conquer-the-world feeling and I look forward to that feeling again.  Because I know that it will happen sometime in the next couple of years.   Until then, I will do my best to focus on that sweet innocent face that on a clear night, the moon highlights beautifully.

Morning Power Hour what?

So this is a question I field a lot.  What is a morning power hour?  Quickly followed up by the question “Why the hell would you do that?” The allure of the power hour can easily be misunderstood.  It’s early (5 AM).  It’s quiet.  It’s dark.  It’s honestly awesome.

I had heard of the morning power hour from so many different people for so many years.  Back in college, I would listen to Chiropractors talk about the benefits of getting up before everyone else in order to achieve greatness in their lives.  But here was the thing.  It sounded…..early.  And really?  What could I get done at 5AM that I couldn’t get done at any other time during the day?  In my head nothing.  I couldn’t rationalize or justify losing out on sleep.

It took the great Robin Sharma (one of my favourite authors) to finally convince me that a morning power hour would do me good.

So one morning I got up at 5AM.  I dragged myself downstairs, made a cup of tea, and sat myself down on the floor in our livingroom.  I stretched for a few minutes and then literally drew a blank.  I had all of these great ideas as to what a power hour would consist of.  I thought of reading.  I thought of writing out goals.  I thought of writing down affirmations.  I thought of listening to TED talks.  But I wasn’t sure where to begin.  What would make the biggest impact?  I spent the rest of my first power hour in confusion and ended up not getting much accomplished at all.

Onto morning number two.  Got up.  Made tea.  Stretched.  I spent most of my second morning power hour thinking of sleeping.  It’s even possible that I fell asleep on the couch in an attempt to mediate.  Because meditation would be purposeful, right?

Day three required some thought.  I literally spent the entire hour writing down everything I wanted to accomplish and then prioritized it.  For me, it was important to create my version of a Purpose book.  So I spent the first two weeks worth of morning power hours creating it.  I would read it over and over again, as I added pages.  My why, my purpose, my values, my ideal day, a list of places I wanted to visit, a list of people I wanted to meet, my “bucket list”, etc.  It gave me a good start.

Two weeks later though I was ready for something new.  My experience is that I need order.  Organization.  (Just ask my mom…I used to have the most organized day planner when paper day planners were still a “thing”. I colour coded work, school, activities, and more.  It was very pretty.)  So, I made a list that I could refer to each morning until my morning power hour became natural.

A sample week of morning power hours.

A sample week of morning power hours.

This helped significantly.  Literally I would look at my list the night before and be prepared for what I would accomplish the next morning.

Your morning power hour is all about you.  There is no greater investment that you can make than an investment in yourself.  Invest in your own knowledge and skills.  Become a better, smarter, more efficient YOU.  Your morning power hour will be a huge game changer.  You will feel accomplished.  You will feel energized.  You will feel rejuvenated.  It sets the tone for my day.

Why the hell would I do a morning power hour at 5AM?  Why the hell would I not?  There are two reasons that keep me sleeping in bed:

1) I’m under the weather and literally need more sleep to function throughout my day.

2) One of my kids was up multiple times through the night and I got less than 6 hours sleep.

Other than those two reasons, I am up and ready for time for ME.  I promise you that it would be the single most influential action step you can put into your life starting tomorrow.

Increasing my level of awesomeness

I love the word “awesome”.  I’ve loved it for a long time and there is something about it that makes me smile.  It’s such a perfect response to so many beautiful things in life.

“Dr. A, I’m functioning so much better today!”  That’s AWESOME!

“Mom!  I scored a goal!”  That’s AWESOME!

“My baby slept through the night for the first time after her last adjustment!” That’s AWESOME!

And so with my profound love of the word AWESOME, I am constantly acknowledging ways that I increased my level of awesomeness in a day.  Which is honestly just ways to live a healthy, vibrant, most fantastic life.

  • I didn’t eat sugar today.
  • I got a solid 7 hours of sleep last night.
  • I read another chapter from “The Charge” by Brendon Burchard
  • I played tag with my kids
  • I drank nothing but water today
  • I wrote in my journal
  • I spent an hour with my mom
  • I listened to an inspiring podcast
  • I set a personal record at the gym
  • I went to the gym, despite feeling tired

….the list can go on and on and can incorporate your own ways.  I started off my day with a bit of a sleep-in as I’m feeling under the weather.  Scratchy and sore throat.  A sign that my sleeping patterns have been in the tank with Maggie’s teething and so I needed an extra hour this morning (increasing my level of awesomeness).  Fried up three eggs with some cracked pepper along side a handful of fresh raspberries (increasing my level of awesomeness).  Journaled about my awesome date night with my husband last night where we got to connect and spend time together and how AWESOME that felt (increasing my level of awesomeness).  Then threw my stuff in a bag and walked a mile to work (increasing my level of awesomeness).  Get to do what I love to do today by adjusting a number of families this morning and then get adjusted myself (increasing my level of awesomeness).

So, I ask you.  What did you do today to increase your level of awesomeness?

My walk to work this morning.  The sun at my back, the moon out in front.  It was beautiful!

My walk to work this morning. The sun at my back, the moon out in front. It was beautiful!

Teething Baby, Tired Mama

Somehow we managed to avoid painful teething with both Caleigh and Blake.  They would open their mouths and it was a shock to see a tooth.  Or another.  Or another.  Maggie is a whole other story.  She’s drooling.  She’s crying.  She’s gnawing on everything.  Her bum is red and raw.  I feel terrible because she has got to be in a lot of pain.  I don’t remember what it feels like to have teeth break through my gums but I imagine it doesn’t feel great. Her fist or thumb or hand (or sometimes both hands) is in her mouth at all times.  Oh yes, and she’s not sleeping.  My sleeper.  My perfectly amazing fantastic sleeper is no longer sleeping.  Or at least not well.  She goes down at about 5:30 and then wakes up 3 hours later.  Usually for a short bout at 2AM and then again at 4AM at which point she is up for a good hour before finally drifting back while nursing.  I used to be able to put her down at 5:30 and she would sleep until 7:30.  In the morning.  Yes, since about 8 or 9 weeks, she slept through the night for a 14 hour stretch.  So while she’s still getting good sleep at night, the whole 4AM wake up call has me all out of sorts.

We had a deal, Mags and I.  She sleeps 14 hours.  I sleep 8 hours.  I get up at 5 for my morning power hour.  All is good.  The sudden glitch in our schedule the last three nights has really thrown me for a loop.  I’m not getting enough sleep nor am I getting my morning routine.  I don’t know about you but I find that when thing is out of routine, it really throws off the rest of my day.  I don’t feel as productive at home or at the office.  I don’t commit as much to the things I committed to back in January (my reading and my nightly walks are two examples).  I really have to focus to get the best out of my day.

Which also explains why my Wednesday night dinner was a total failure tonight.  Well, it wasn’t a total failure, I suppose.  My family did eat.  But it was a repeat of a meal from a few weeks ago.  The original plan had been to make a roasted tomato and red pepper soup (which will probably be on the docket for next Wednesday because in my head, it will look and taste really awesome).  That meal went in the garbage (literally) when the tomatoes I picked up on Monday were turning green and fuzzy.  No penicillin for us, thanks.

So while the soup was a repeat, I did mange to whip together a breakfast for tomorrow morning of banana bread and a broccoli salad for the rest of the week.

By Design Banana Bread courtesy of Civilized Caveman Cooking

By Design Banana Bread courtesy of Civilized Caveman Cooking

This banana bread is the bomb, and I give a big shout out to my friend & colleague, Dr. Karen Osburn for putting me onto it.  And so easy & quick to prepare.  10 minutes max and then in the oven for 55.  You won’t be disappointed and so easy to get the kids involved with measuring and stirring.  I’m all for incorporating kids into the kitchen.  It not only instills a sense of responsibility but I also find they are more likely to eat what is put in front of them if they played a part.

By Design Broccoli Salad courtesy of Health Bent

By Design Broccoli Salad courtesy of Health Bent

Then there was this delicious broccoli salad from Health-Bent.  Broccoli + Bacon = Awesome.

Anyhow, so while the It’s What’s For Dinner Wednesday was kind of a bust, do enjoy the other recipes!  Totally tasty and totally by design.  And the BIG WIN for tonight was that both Caleigh and Blake actually ate the vegetables in the soup.  Ate the peppers.  Ate the onions.  Ate the tomatoes.  Victory!