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Looking for new ways to build a healthy mind, body or life? Check out these ideas brought to you by the editors of Best Health. Some pamper you, some push you — but all of them help move you a little closer to total wellness.
Our editors have rounded up their favourite health and wellness ideas to make this your best year yet
If you aren’t using a facial serum yet, this is the year to start. The beauty of a serum is that it delivers a high concentration of antioxidants to help slow down aging and improve skin’s texture and brightness. One to try? AlumierMD EverActive C&E ($179/3-month supply). This brand has created unique packaging that ensures freshness. You activate the serum by pushing a button at the top of the bottle that releases the vitamin C crystals into the serum. No muss, no fuss, but potency guaranteed.
JUST BREW IT
A morning pit stop at your local coffee haunt can feel like a treat, but brewing at home has endless benefits. Besides forgoing sugary baked goods, consider the savings: If you spend $3 on coffee per day on average, you’ll be saving nearly $100 a month. Hate the hassle of home brewing? The new Keurig K-Mini ($89) takes up minimal counter space (less than five inches wide) and brews directly into your travel mug. Use the My K-Cup Universal Reusable Coffee Filter ($20) and your fave fair-trade beans for eco (and wallet) bonus points.
Move over, açai; there’s a new, easier-to-pronounce berry in town. Meet maqui (pronounced “mack-ee”), a purple berry from Chile that has long been a part of the diet of the nation’s indigenous people, the Mapuche. The berries make a great addition to smoothies, as they are high in antioxidants and have been touted for everything from reducing inflammation to boosting energy. Another way to use them? In your skincare. Try SkinOwl’s Maqui
Berry Beauty Whip ($85 at thedetoxmarket.ca) for a boost in softness and a more even skin tone.
Winter offers beautiful landscapes, no doubt, but the frozen tundra doesn’t do much for connecting us with the healing power of plant therapy. At Best Health, we love the idea of harnessing botanicals for well-being, and one easy way to make that happen is with essential oils. Use them to boost your immune system or relieve stress. A diffuser is an easy way to experiment. Two companies that offer great selections are saje.ca and escents.ca.
UPGRADE YOUR SKINCARE
…with a facial treatment that’s a total keener: the HydraFacial. Whether its to deep clean, refine pores or hydrate, this three-step facial is seriously satisfying. First, any blockage is removed from the skin using a light lactic and glycolic acid serum applied with the signature wand (a feeling accurately described “as the lick of a cat’s tongue”). Then, the wand sucks dirt and debris from pores for a deeper clean. Finally, the wand replenishes skin with a cocktail of hydrating active ingredients, like hyaluronic acid. The result? A plump, clear, radiant face. Book one at northmedicalspa.com ($165 per treatment) or your local medispa.
TRAVEL IN HEALTH
It’s easy to talk yourself out of exercising when travelling, whether for work or pleasure. Our reco to stay on track? Book yourself into a hotel that makes wellness a priority. The Westin offers cool programs that help you stay the course, including these, available at Westin Calgary, Westin Harbour Castle (Toronto) and Westin Ottawa. • RunWestin
Guests can choose to venture out on their own using the hotel’s customized RunWestin running map, which offers five- and eight-kilometre routes, or join the RunWestin
Concierge for a guided group run.
Guests can maintain their focus on fitness with 24/7 access to state-ofthe-art equipment.
• Workout Gear Lending On-site gear lending programs offer a selection of New Balance apparel to use during your stay.
SMARTEN UP YOUR SKINCARE ROUTINE
Save your skin by investing in a multipurpose skincare device. The Clarisonic Mia Smart ($229) has four functions: cleansing, firming, reducing puffiness and applying makeup. Clinically proven to cleanse skin six times better than hands alone, this takes facewashing to the next level. It’s also compatible with an app that can notify you when it’s time to change your brush head and recommend cleansing routines for your complexion’s specific needs.
Drinking more water is never a bad thing, but it can be a hard thing. After glugging six to eight glasses a day for a week or so, it’s easy to become bored with it, which usually leads to feeling less motivated to keep it up. We’ve been using a SodaStream Fizzi One Touch Sparkling Water Maker ($180) for the past few months and it definitely levels up the water game. Available at major retailers, this sleek kitchen aid turns basic tap water into carbonated bliss with the press of a button, letting you add flavours for more fun. We also like to squeeze in a bit of citrus for a hit of vitamin C.
The best way to get your quota of vitamins and minerals is through your diet, but we’re the first to recognize that’s not always possible. A multivitamin can top you up on days when you can’t meet your nutritional needs through food alone. We’ve been popping Centrum MultiGummies Multi + Beauty ($19 at select mass retailers). It’s the first multi that includes a blend of nutrients (vitamins A, C and E and biotin) to help promote healthier hair, skin and nails, in addition to the regular support that a multivitamin offers for the immune system, bone health and metabolism.
Eating with intention may save you some calories. A 2018 study from the Society for the Study of Ingestive Behavior asked a group of people (ranging from average weight to obese) to choose a focus before deciding on their portion sizes for lunch. The options? The health effects of food, the expected pleasure or staying full until dinner time. Another group chose their lunch portions with no instruction. The group that was asked to eat mindfully chose smaller portions overall, and those who chose to think about their health went for the smallest portions, regardless of their weight.
RE EVENT YOURSELF
Feeling bored with your workouts? It happens. That’s why Brent Bishop, a personal trainer and founder of Think Fitness Studios, likes to have clients sign up for a new fitness event four times a year. “This allows you to create serious momentum with fitness and gets you out of your comfort zone,” says Bishop. He asks you to choose one you’re genuinely interested in, like a race, a charity bike event or even a destination event like hiking Kilimanjaro or finishing an endurance jungle eco-challenge. “The experience of crossing that finish line or reaching that mountain peak is something no one can take away from you,” says Bishop. “The journey leading up to this accomplishment is always worth it. Once one event is completed, you are at a brand-new level of physical and mental fitness.”
We’re all well aware that we should be wearing SPF daily, but city dwellers should be vigilant about another skin assailant: pollution. Emerging research shows that air pollution speeds up the development of wrinkles and age spots, and a 2016 study showed that age spots on cheeks increased by 25 percent with just a small rise in pollution. The bright side? Drunk Elephant D-Bronzi Anti-Pollution Sunshine Serum ($44 at sephora.ca). It contains chronocyclin, an ingredient that mimics the antioxidant effects of vitamin D, along with omega-rich virgin marula and black-currant seed oils. Add a few drops to your sunscreen for a dewy glow and protective barrier.
CLOSE THE HEALTH GAP
Think all health care is created equal? Think again. Until the 1990s, women weren’t often included in health care research studies, meaning many prescription drug therapies and treatment protocols have been disproportionately studied on men, despite their very different physiology. Women also experience differences in treatment for chronic conditions and mental health care. Women’s College Hospital is working to close that gap through its research, women’s mental health care program and other innovations. Change begins with us! Learn more about it at thehealthgap.ca.
Curious what specific eating and fitness plans work best with your bod? Check out mydna.life. Simply swab your cheek and send the sample off to their labs and you’ll receive a detailed report that includes insight into your optimal diet and workout. The nutrition report is generated by looking at seven key genes that determine everything from your weight and body size to how you burn fat and process fatty acids. The fitness report analyzes genes associated with everything from muscle power to endurance to recovery and gives recommendations on which workouts are best suited to you.
ANXIETY? THERE’S AN APP FOR THAT
If you’re feeling anxious, depressed or stressed, check out Woebot. This app was designed by Alison Darcy, a clinical psychologist at Stanford University, to put cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) in your pocket. Chatting with this friendly bot (think iMessage format) can help you recognize and challenge distorted thinking patterns, which contribute to negative emotions. While it’s not a replacement for therapy IRL, it’s a tool that can help bridge the gap between sessions or manage a bad day. Bonus: you can contact it day or night and it’s armed with a plethora of corny jokes to lighten the mood.
PASS ON PASTA
Noodles made of zucchini, or “zoodles,” have been a healthy diet staple for some time now, but have you heard of kohlrabi noodles? Part of the cabbage family, this underrated veg contains more vitamin C than oranges and is super-low in calories. Don’t have the time (or the spiralizer) to make your own? Try Mann’s Nourish Bowls ($5 at major supermarkets), the first-ever warm veggie meals with plant-based protein. One bowl is under 300 calories and cooks in the microwave in a matter of minutes.
FIX LACKLUSTRE LOCKS
Repair damaged hair with this superstar ingredient: rahua (pronounced “ra-wa”). Long used by the women of the Amazon jungle, this nut oil is a powerhouse for strengthening and nurturing hair. Created in a symbiotic process that involves being grown wild in the rainforest and harvested and processed by indigenous people of the Amazon who are paid fairly, it’s no wonder this ingredient is exclusive. Try Rahua Legendary Amazon Oil ($60 at thedetoxmarket.ca), a luxe mix of rahua, morete and sacha inchi oils that nourishes without weighing strands down.
TRAIN YOUR BRAIN
Chances are, you’ve heard the news that meditation is good for you. In fact, a 2011 Harvard study showed that after 27 minutes of mindfulness exercises each day for eight weeks, participants had increased grey-matter density in their hippocampus (the area of the brain known for learning and memory) and in structures associated with self-awareness, compassion and introspection. They also showed decreased grey-matter density in the area known to play an important role in anxiety and stress. Enough said. Here’s how to kickstart your practice for a better brain:
Get an app. Download a meditation app like Calm (with playlists curated to different intentions) or Headspace (developed by a former monk) to help you wind down.
Visit a studio. Some yoga studios offer meditation classes, or check out Mindset, which is basically a gym for your brain. Choose from classes focused on everything from promoting relaxation to boosting creativity, and then use their EEGtech headband to check out a report of when your mind wandered.
MAKE YOURSELF AT “OM”
The struggle is real. You want to #yogaeverydamnday, but schlepping around your roll isn’t always convenient. Here’s our favourite solution: a foldable mat like this offering from Sugarmat ($90 at sugarmat.com). It actually folds into a small pouch and weighs a third of a regular mat. It even has a rubber bottom, so you can try that tricky pose, and a synthetic suede top that’s perfect for hot yoga (the sweatier you get, the more grip it provides). It’s small enough to travel with, or toss it in your handbag for an after-work session.
SAJE AROMA OM DIFFUSER