What Motivates Dr. Jen to stay healthy and fit?

profile picDr. Jen answers the question: “What motivates YOU to stay healthy and fit?”

A common question that I am asked by my patients is: “What motivates YOU to stay fit and healthy? It is a personal question, but one that I don’t mind sharing for the greater good. I love how most people think that I workout and practice yoga daily, I eat a vegan diet, never indulge in a treat and sing kumbaya with my friends and family (ok I made the last one up, but you know what I mean). I am truly flattered, but I am human, people! I live a normal life with daily stresses. I try to exercise 3-4 times a week, and do my best to eat whole foods that nourish my body, with a few indulgences every now and again. I am not perfect, but I always strive to do better. I decided to get a little vulnerable and share the answers to this question because I think it is important for you to understand me and what drives me to stay healthy and fit. Maybe you can relate and connect with some of my biggest motivators.

Motivator #1. My Patients/Followers. Yes, that is you! I believe whole-heartedly in the motto “practice what you preach”. When I spend countless hours each week blogging and posting content on social media or advising people in my office to eat well, manage stress, exercise etc., it acts as a reminder for me to do the same. It is not always easy to do but I strive to be a good role model for all of you. I am authentic by nature and what you see is what you get. I also understand that if I don’t take care of myself, I cannot take care of others. So thanks to all my patients, near and far, you motivate me as much as I motivate you.

Motivator #2. Self-Love. This was not something that came easy for me and it is something a lot of people struggle with. A lesser known fact about me is that beginning in adolescence and into my teenage years, I suffered from a condition called anorexia nervosa and in later years, binge eating disorder. Both of these conditions result from a lack of self love. In fact, it was an act of neglect, abuse and hate for my body. It wasn’t until I started my Naturopathic Education where I learned how to love and appreciate myself. I was taught self-care practices and how to prioritize my needs and wants.  I want to clarify that self- love is not arrogance or boasting about one’s self; instead, it is the love that feeds the body nourishing foods, allows for rest, ensures healthy activity, talks positively to one’s self, is forgiving and creates safe boundaries in relationships. Once you have this love, all your choices and actions will come from this, including being positive and living more healthy. Start slowly by choosing one activity a day that demonstrates self love. It could be ensuring you have 3 meals a day or getting at least 7 hours of sleep each night. This may sound silly, but I give my patients a self-love journal to fill out each day. It holds them accountable and acts as a gentle reminder to think about themselves a little more. It amazes people how little they care for themselves. Try it yourself for one week. If you want a great read pertaining to love and self-love pick up Loveability by Robert Holden. I highly recommend it.

Motivator #3. My Future Goals: Although I understand that focusing too much on the future is not a good thing; however, in regards to the motivation aspect, this keeps me focused on my health and fitness priorities. My goals for the future are to have a healthy family. I want to be a healthy mom who can play an active role in my children’s life and their children’s lives. I love to travel and would love to travel with my husband with no limitations. I want to live life to the fullest in all stages of my life. I don’t want to exist or merely survive on this planet, I wish to THRIVE! This means that I must care for myself NOW. My glimpse into the future every so often keeps me motivated each present day. I create a vision board each year and although it changes, there is always a picture or vision of good health, fitness and vitality. If you have not made a vision board before, (one of Oprah’s favourite things to do and she claims it works!) give it a try!

Motivator #4. My Positive Mindset/Attitude: This takes practice and on-going effort, but when mastered, you can do anything! In the past, I had a very negative attitude towards my health and my habits reflected that.  I was very restrictive with my dieting and calorie counting. I saw food as the “enemy” and was scared to eat it. I would compensate by exercising excessively and would feel guilty if I didn’t exercise, especially if I ate “bad” food. Does this sound familiar to anyone? The best part is, through all this I was not reaching my fitness goals of losing weight and was straight up miserable. I entered a vicious cycle of regret, guilt and blame. I realized that my negative attitude was not helping me achieve the goals I wanted. So I slowly started to change my attitude. It was only when I changed my thoughts to be more positive was I able to lose weight (40lbs!) and keep it off. This did not happen over night. How did I do this? I started by forgiving myself for all my self-destructive habits. This is very hard, but essential in keeping a positive mindset. I then started working on enjoying things in moderation with NO GUILT. Yes, weight loss and weight maintenance can happen with a cheat meal every now and then, but only if there are no negative thoughts and emotions around it. I admit, I sometimes eat chocolate, ice cream and Ketchup chips (my salty indulgence). This is seldom, but when I do, I have no guilt. Imagine that! What a freeing experience. Research shows that “skinny” people have a different mentality than overweight individuals. Skinny people do not obsess over food. They eat when they are hungry and they do not have emotional attachments to the food they eat. I urge you to lose the negative thoughts, the “all or nothing” approach because it will not help you lose weight and keep it off. Instead, keep your thoughts positive and have an attitude that you can do anything.  If you slip up, forgive yourself and be positive you will do better.

There you have it! My top 4 motivators for staying healthy and fit. If you would like more of where this came from, sign up for my newsletters to be sure you don’t miss out and you get the goods in your inbox.

www.drjencisternino.com

Please share, sharing is caring.

Dr. Jen Cisternino,ND

Need more sleep? 3 Imbalances that may be the cause.

I cannot stress enough the importance of good sound sleep. Sleep is essential for weight loss. The optimal amount of sleep may differ from person to person, but research shows it is best to get at least 7 hours uninterrupted sleep each night. When was the last time this happened for you? With stress at the forefront of today’s fast paced society, sleep is an area in one’s life that can become affected. With work on the mind and family or personal stress, we lose the precious sleep that we need to live healthy lives. When insomnia ensues, there is a snowball effect and we start to see other health conditions arise such as weight gain, anxiety, depression, fatigue, poor memory, hypertension, diabetes etc.

Helping my patients to get sound sleep is a main goal for healing and vitality, not just for weight loss.

Here are some reason why you may be getting sub-optimal sleep.

  1. Cortisol level Imbalance. Cortisol levels normally rise in the morning to get you out of bed and gradually fall throughout the day, prepping your body for sleep. Those individuals who have trouble sleeping may have an inverted curve, where cortisol levels remain low in the morning and peak at night, which makes falling asleep difficult. Some individuals who have long term stress, have low cortisol levels all day and into the evening. Healthy levels of cortisol are needed for proper heart vessel function, metabolism, energy production, immune function and proper blood sugar regulation. Some research suggests that people who have low levels of cortisol tend to have interrupted sleep. Chronically low levels of cortisol can cause blood sugar levels to drop during sleep which can trigger you to wake up in the middle of the night. Does this sound familiar? It is best to get your cortisol levels tested and be clear about your stressors and how you handle or don’t handle stress.
  2. Neurotransmitter Imbalance: Those individuals who are low in neurotransmitter serotonin can have difficulty falling and staying asleep. Serotonin, which is our “happy hormone” helps to manufacture melatonin, which is needed for proper sleep and wake cycles. When serotonin levels are low, melatonin will not be produced, making it hard to fall asleep and stay asleep. GABA, a calming neurotransmitter, also helps to promote sleep. Many sleep medications work on GABA receptors to induce sleepiness. Ensuring adequate levels of both can help you to sleep.
  3. Hormone Imbalance. When women enter menopause, the lack of estrogen/progesterone and declining testosterone in men can contribute to poor sleep. Supplementing with the appropriate hormones may be a good option for some. Research also shows that low levels of DHEA (our anti-aging hormone) has an effect on REM sleep, which is our deepest and most restorative sleep cycle.

There you have it! Some reasons why you may not be getting restorative sleep. If you have been suffering for a long while, don’t give up hope, consult with a health care professional for help.

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Please share! Sharing is caring.

Dr. Jen Cisternino, ND

Suffering from Anxiety? Let us offer you a Complete Care Approach

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Suffering with Anxiety? Let us offer you a Complete Care Approach

Anxiety is one of the most prevalent psychological conditions experienced today. Millions of people worldwide are struggling each day to control worry, panic and fear. There are many options for treating anxiety. In this article, we will offer you two approaches: Conventional and Naturopathic.

Medical Perspective by Joseph C. Cosentino, M.D

Many people are unaware that there are many pathological conditions that cause anxiety. The first step in an allopathic approach is to first rule out some of the most common conditions known to precipitate anxiety. Some of the most common conditions include:

* Hypothyroidism/Hyperthyroidism

* Cardiovascular Disease (High blood pressure, High cholesterol, Heart attack)

* Diabetes Type 2

* Substance use/abuse (Caffeine, Nicotine, Illicit drugs, Alcohol)

* Other Psychiatric conditions (OCD, Bipolar)

Only after a thorough clinical workup to rule out possible organic causes, can a medical physician begin to narrow down the root cause of anxiety and begin treatment.

  1. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) is the first line therapy for patients with anxiety. This type of therapy aims to help you to change the way you think, feel and behave. CBT has been used for decades to successfully treat anxiety.
  2. Medications such as SSRI’s (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) are also a treatment option, either in conjunction with CBT or as a stand-alone when it fails to work. These prescription medications are very efficacious and tolerated well but like all medications must be taken properly and have the potential for unwanted side effects if not managed properly.

Always talk to your Doctor to see what your options are and what is right for you.

Naturopathic Approach by Dr. Jennifer Cisternino, ND

Adequate time and emphasis should be placed on determining the ROOT cause of the anxiety rather than focusing on quick fixes that tend to only mask the problem.

Once more severe causes of anxiety have been ruled out, there are some natural approaches to help ease anxiety.

  1. Eliminate Stimulants in your diet (caffeine, nicotine, chocolate, sugar, salt, preservatives/additives). I have seen the amazing anxiety reducing effects from this change alone.
  2. Eliminate Food Allergies: Many people are unaware of how food affects their mood. A Food Allergy Test (IGG) can help determine sensitivities that may be affecting your mental health. If you are ingesting foods that cause inflammation and damage to your GI tract, this inhibits the production and absorption of calming neurotransmitters. Henceforth, leaving you feeling anxious. Healing your gut can help heal your anxiety.
  3. Exercise: 30 minutes a day can help release stress and increase “feel good hormones”. Choosing the activity you enjoy can help alleviate anxiety and frustration. Try boxing!
  4. Deep Breathing /Meditation: 40 minutes a day has been shown to completely absolve anxiety in most people. When you allow your body and mind a chance to relax and refocus, a lot of “mental garbage” can be released. This takes commitment and discipline, but the benefits are well worth it!
  5. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy: The Anxiety and Worry Workbook by David Clark, PHD and Aaron Beck, MD. This is a great self directed work book to get you started.
  6. Good Nutrition: You can’t get away from eating whole foods rich in nutrients, anti-oxidants and minerals. Certain Vitamin/Mineral deficiencies can cause symptoms of anxiety.  If you are low in Vitamin B12, B3, Magnesium and Iron, this can contribute to anxiousness.  One simple test that I run in my office is a hair mineral test. This can help to evaluate your individual mineral deficiencies.

If you suffer with anxiety, don’t be afraid to admit it. Anxiety can range from mild to severe and can worsen if nothing is done to help it. Anxiety is your body’s way of telling you to slow down, take better care of yourself and seek help and guidance. You are worth it.

Share with someone you know who may be suffering. If you have found helpful ways to cope with anxiety please post your comments below. It may help change someone for the better.

10 Simple Tips to Feel Happy

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Feeling down? Need some pep in your step?

Try these methods to boost your mood.

  1. LISTEN TO MUSIC.  The choice of music is up to you. Music that makes you feel good increases your heart rate, breathing rate, and makes your brain release dopamine, your feel-good neurotransmitter. Kick it up a notch and dance to the beat!
  2. HANG OUT WITH UPBEAT FRIENDS. Did you know that your chances for happiness increase by 15 per cent if someone in your immediate social circle is happy. Choose your company wisely.
  3. TAKE A HAPPY “TIME OUT”.  Take a  few minutes each day doing something you love (singing, hiking, reminiscing over pictures, dancing, etc) This mini break can reduce anxiety and improve your mood.
  4. TALK NICE TO YOURSELF. Is your inner voice quick to shout out things like: “You’re so stupid” or “You can never do that”? Trade the negative talk for encouraging words like “I am wonderful”, “I do a great job”.
  5. CONNECT. Talk, really talk, to people you care about. Connecting is good for everyone. Connect on a physical level too! Hugs stimulate oxytocin, the “cuddle hormone,” which gives you a feel good boost. Go give a hug!
  6. KEEP A GRATITUDE JOURNAL. Simply writing down what you’re thankful for makes you healthier and more optimistic. Make this a habit that you repeat each morning and night. Works wonders for your mood.
  7. DON’T SIT AROUND. Physical activity is a significant happiness booster. Get moving for 30 minutes a day and choose an activity you enjoy!
  8. MEDITATE. Helps to release stress, improves sleep, strengthen immunity and happiness. If you are not sure how to meditate simply find a quiet space, sit or lay down, play relaxing music or a guided meditation off of youtube and RELAX…..
  9. HELP OTHERS. Help a friend in need. Volunteer. Giving back can give you a tremendous feeling of worth and adds meaning to your life.
  10. GET OUTSIDE. Spending time with Mother Nature makes you feel alert, enthusiastic, full of energy and happy. Bonus if the sun is out…let the Vitamin D absorb through your skin.

For more wellness tips and to stay connected be sure to sign up for my newsletter!

Cheers to more Happy Days!

Dr. Jen Cisternino, Naturopathic Doctor

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Sugar.The Silent Killer: 7 Shocking Truths you need to know NOW!

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Today’s modern diet is full of added sugars which is probably the worst ingredient we can consume for human health. Sugar has so many negative effects on the body and mind. My intentions for writing this blog is to educate and empower you to see sugar differently, maybe no longer as a “treat” for yourself or your kids. I will list some of the reasons you should say “NO” to sugar.

  1. Sugar has no nutritional value. This is what I call “empty calories”. Interesting enough, the more sugar one consumes, the more at risk for having nutritional deficiencies. Being nutritionally deficient leaves you tired and increases your risk for several diseases.
  2. Sugar can damage your liver as much as alcoholic can. Added sugars like High Fructose Corn Syrup (commonly found in candy, soft drinks, baked goods) have the greatest impact. When this sugar is ingested, it is broken down into glucose and fructose. Fructose specifically can only be metabolized by the liver. If we eat too much fructose, the excess gets converted into fat in the liver. Fructose is then used to make cholesterol particles (VLDL) and high amounts of this can lead to a liver disease called Non Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD).
  3. Sugar overload can cause Insulin Resistance, Metabolic Syndrome and Diabetes. Insulin is an essential hormone in our body which allows glucose to enter the cells. Insulin responds to levels of sugar in the bloodstream. When there is too much sugar in the blood, the pancreas releases a large amount of insulin to bring the blood sugar levels down. If this continues, our cells become less responsive to insulin and develop a condition called “insulin resistance”. If left untreated, this can lead to other diseases like Diabetes, Cardiovascular Disease, Obesity etc.
  4. Sugar can develop and feed cancer. Sugar and its resulting effects on insulin has been known to contribute to the development of cancer; specifically, the inflammation caused by excess sugar consumption. Studies have also showed that those people who eat a lot of sugar are at a higher risk of getting cancer.
  5. Sugar is the leading cause of obesity in children and adults. When you eat sugar, there is no signal to your brain suggesting that you are full. Sugar will not curb cravings, but instead leaves you wanting to eat more and more. With the corresponding rise in insulin, which is our ” fat storage” hormone, weight gain will happen.
  6. Sugar is addicting. Sugar causes dopamine to be released in the brain. Dopamine is a hormone that makes us feel good and can lead to addictive behaviours. Sugar in moderation may be tough for some people, due to its effects on the brain. Abstinence may be the only thing that works for some people.
  7. Do you have High cholesterol and Heart disease? Sugar may be the reason. New research is suggesting that sugar, NOT fat may be one of the leading causes of heart disease due to the fructose metabolism. Studies show that high amounts of fructose can raise triglycerides and cholesterol (LDL and oxidized LDL-the bad cholesterol).

 

Dr. Jennifer Cisternino, ND

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Having Difficulty Losing Weight? Are You or Your Thyroid to Blame?

We all have one thyroid which we must nourish for lifelong health. Unfortunately, in today’s high stress society, we don’t do a good job. Our thyroid is a butterfly shaped gland located in the neck which has many important functions in our body. Probably the most familiar one is that it helps with our metabolism and weight. Can you relate to any of these symptoms?

Fatigue

Depression

Hair thinning

Constipation

Irregular Periods

Feeling Cold

Dry Skin

Puffy/swollen (especially around the eyes)

If you responded yes to any or all, this could be a sign your thyroid needs some support.

There are many different hormones that influence the thyroid gland and some may be overlooked by your doctor when you get blood work for your thyroid. Let me explain. The brain, specifically the pituitary gland, will send a “hormonal” signal to the thyroid to either increase or decrease its supply of hormones depending on the body’s needs. The signal hormone that is received by the thyroid gland is…..ready for it…..the famous TSH (Thyroid Stimulating Hormone). TSH is the value that most doctors look at to assess thyroid health.

Do you know what your TSH value is? If you are unsure, request copies of your blood work from your doctor. The TSH “normal” range is anywhere from 0.3-5. I find that my patients feel their best with a TSH level at 2 or below. Now keep in mind that TSH is just one factor in assessing thyroid health. We need to dig a little deeper. The thyroid gland has an important role in making two hormones: T4 and T3, which act on the cells of your body. Knowing these values are also very important in understanding thyroid health.

Do you know your numbers? Taking it a step further, in order for the thyroid to carry out its function and make these hormones (T3 and T4), it needs support nutrients. The minerals most important for your thyroid are iodine, selenium, zinc, and iron. Mineral are very common and can be due to pregnancy, dieting, breastfeeding, poor nutrition, poor digestion etc. and they can negatively impact your thyroid health. Hair Mineral Analysis is the test I run with my patients to look at some of these minerals.

Some other common insults to the thyroid are STRESS and acute and chronic dieting. Both of these issues can drastically reduce basal metabolic rate, making it hard to lose or maintain weight. Bottomline, if you have symptoms of low thyroid function, but have been told by your doctor that you are fine, request a copy of your numbers and seek out other ways to support your thyroid. There are many ways that you can! I have helped many women find balance.

Visit my website and fill out the hormonal questionnaire to get started.

Let’s Love our Thyroid!

 

Dr. Jen Cisternino, Naturopathic Doctor

www.drjencisternino.com

3 Shocking Mistakes that Jeopardize your Weight Loss Efforts

  1. Too restrictive with your diet.  When you cut calories, you also cut your metabolism in half.  Keep track of how many calories you are getting into your body each day and more importantly how nutritious your food is per calorie count. There are simple calculations and tools that can help you track this online.
  2. Over exercising– I can’t tell you enough how it can work against your weight loss efforts to do daily intense exercise for 2 hours or more! These kind of  people love to work out, however, their bodies are releasing more cortisol – our stress hormone. What happens when we release cortisol? We sabotage our weight loss efforts. Giving the body rest and choosing other forms of exercise like yoga or tai chi can be beneficial.
  3. Hanging around people who are not supportive of your efforts. Be wise who you choose to  hang around. It is very hard to always say “NO”. Sooner or later, you will slip up and eat that bag of chips or brownies in your cupboard. Out of sight and out of mind.  Choose people who eat healthy, encourage healthy habits and you will find it easier to stay on task.

Good luck,

Dr. Jen Cisternino, Naturopathic Doctor, Holistic Weight Loss Expert

 

3 Tips for a Better Workout

1. Keep it short and sweet. The longer you workout the less intensity you bring. Do not work out for more than 45 minutes. Who says they don’t have time for working out?!

2.Skip the cardio machines and pick up some weights. Circuit weight training will burn 500 more calories during and several hours after your done your workout.

3. Update your ipod list and get that music pumping! Music naturally releases feel good chemicals in the brain that make you push harder and last longer, doubling the endorphin effect!

Good luck,

Dr. Jen Cisternino, Naturopathic Doctor, Holistic Weight Loss Expert

The Top 5 Secrets Every Woman Needs To Know About Losing Baby Weight

1.Breastfeed! You naturally burn calories each time your body prepares to breast feed. More importantly, your baby benefits tremendously from breastfeeding.

2. Stay hydrated. Drink at least 3 litres of water daily.  Hunger and thirst cues are very similar, so staying hydrated can prevent mindless eating and actually help to give you a feeling of “fullness” in your belly. If you don’t like the taste of water, try adding any of these: cucumber, raspberries, lime, lemon, mint.

3. Stay on your pre-natal vitamins. Most women feel that they can get all their nutrients through their food, but guess what, it is really hard and almost impossible! Mineral deficiencies can slow down your metabolism and zap you of your energy.

4. Move, move, move. It doesn’t matter what you do, but get active. I suggest doing something daily such as walking with your child. I recommend you try lifting weights at least 2 times a week. Building muscle is a sure way to keep your metabolism pumping while giving you a very much needed break from the home routine.

5. Rest. I know what you are probably thinking. “How can I rest with the erratic schedule of feeding and sleeping. Well, you have to go with the flow and when time allows, use it wisely. What would you rather do..the dishes or put your feet up and snuggle with your baby? You will benefit your body and mind if you do the latter.

Good luck,

Dr. Jen Cisternino, Naturopathic Doctor, Holistic Weight Loss Expert