Screen Time As A Disease

“We no longer think slowly and deeply, but quickly and superficially.”

Before every waking moment of our lives were dominated by screens or ear buds, we spent a vast majority of our non-social time pondering, thinking and letting life sink in. Just like the brain needs sleep to sort out your daily thoughts and emotions, it appears your non-stimulated moments are necessary too. An article from the Journal of the Academy of Management showed that a “bored” brain is actually looking to process past information and trying to stoke up creativity.

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Hurt But Not Disabled: How To Navigate Injuries and Improve

In May of 2019 I completely tore my ACL while wrestling. Within 10 seconds I continued grappling (from the ground only) for about an hour. Next day the swelling and pain let me know something was wrong (I had not confirmed the tear via MRI at that point). I started rehabilitating the knee and cautiously grappled. Within a month I worsened the injury while grappling. Unfortunately, the next day, I was scheduled to run the Tough Mudder at Whistler in British Columbia. I taped my leg up like a mummy and ran the 16 K trek up and down the world famous ski resort. About one and a half months after this, while grappling, I dislocated the medial meniscus and it shot out the back of the knee joint. Not having x-ray vision, I did not exactly know this at the time, but a later MRI revealed it. Finally, at that point I stopped grappling completely and turned simply to rehabilitation while I await surgery. Continue reading

Set goals… and actually reach them

1-1266409857RRS3The Olympics are over and the new school year is around the corner. I don’t know about you, but watching world class athletes run, jump and swim at peak performance inspires me.

I love goal setting. Yet in the past, I set too many goals with too many deadlines. I started on a lot of journeys that did not end where they were supposed to. So I refined my goal setting methods.

One thing I tossed out was the big deadline. This is that “etched into stone” date at which you want something completed. I see this as the biggest motivation killer. What happens if you get sick? Or injured? Or have a family or personal crisis? Have a goal in mind for your journey, but do not add a set date.

Instead, make a weekly routine up that is broken down into daily tasks. Make them reasonable. For example, if your goal is to increase hip flexibility and the amount of weight you can squat, start small.

MONDAY: squat with same weight you have been using but add 3 reps. Stretch for 12 minutes instead of 10. squats

Then, every time you squat, add either 1 rep, or 2.5 lbs per side (5 overall). Usually do both, back and forth. If you hit the wall, don’t add anything for two or more weeks, just keep squatting without going backwards on your reps or weight. Slowly add 30 seconds here and there to your stretching.

Off you go on a slow but risk-free and fully realistic journey towards constant improvement.

People often over shoot their goal setting and force unrealistic changes onto their lives. Life does not work this way. Change has to be gradual but constant. So slowing down the demands actually increases the speed of results. If you are driving a car and you want to make a 90 degree turn, you cannot go immediately to a 90 degree without turning the wheels 1, 2, 3… 10… 25… 75 degrees and so on. Life is about increments, not instantaneous results.

If you can introduce a slow, flexible, daily routine towards improved performance, you will successfully change your long term life style towards your goals. Whether they be financial, relational or health oriented.

Dream big, act small. Get there!

Smart Rest


If you’re a professional or amateur athlete, or you’re just a fitness fanatic, you may want to consider resting more…

Over-training is a phenomenon that is becoming better understood. Many enthusiastic athletes forget to listen to their body as they pursue excellence. But this will serve to decrease performance in the long run, not improve it. Many fitness participants follow gruelling schedules and push themselves hard. If you are in the category of people who train regularly you will want to realize when over training begins to set in and you’ll also want to adopt a “smart rest” program as part of your training.

The first goal of being well rested and therefore in peek performance condition is to ensure you are not already in the state of over-training. Here are the most obvious signs of this condition:

  • often getting ill/sick
  • low mood, feeling depressed
  • low motivation
  • trouble sleeping despite feeling exhausted
  • chronic fatigue
  • injured often
  • constant thirst
  • performance decreasing even though training harder
  • a resting heart rate (first thing in morning before getting out of bed) that is faster than normal for you

If you have 4 or more of the above (especially the resting heart rate), you qualify as being over-trained. It’s high time to take some time off. A solid 3 weeks of no exercise followed by one or two weeks of very low intensity, part time exercise will do you much good. Then head into a 2 week period of moderate exercise and then finally, take another full week off.


Be warned, if you are drastically over trained however, it could take several weeks — even a few months — to recuperate. Which is why you want to listen for the beginning signs of over training and not the drastic symptoms.

If you are not over trained (have less than 4 — or none — of the above symptoms) you will want to incorporate “smart rest” techniques to ensure you never get over trained.

What is Smart Rest?

Very simply put, smart rest is pro-active breaks in your training that allows your body to recuperate before you ever go near the over training zone. As we train hard, week in and week out, our multiple body systems can start to fall behind in recovery. This can be our nervous system, our psychological state, our immune system or our musculoskeletal system. Depending on what other stresses are going on in our lives and how well nourished we are, any one of those systems can start lagging behind and cause over training to set in. By pro-actively resting before anything falls far behind, we are protecting ourselves from over training.

How Do I Implement Smart Rest?

Once every 6 to 10 weeks (you decide by listening in on how your body and mind are feeling), take an entire week off training. During this time, you can go for walks, but no exercise. None. You will want to push the fluids more than usual during your week of rest and you will want to stay away from alcohol and high sugar foods. Nutrition, hydration and rest are the antidotes to over training. Make sure you are going to bed early and on time during this week of rest.

smart rest chart

Not only will smart rest prevent over training but it keeps your body and mind working at their peek. This will prevent mental burnout as well as injury. Remember, you are not to wait until you are starting to over train to implement smart rest, you are supposed to inject one full week of rest once every 6 to 10 weeks regardless of how well you feel. This is what maintenance looks like. You are building a fence at the top of the hill instead of having an ambulance at the bottom.

Try it out and see for yourself the benefits of smart rest!

Brain Fitness – part 2: DEEP BREATHING

deep breathing 1

Athletes pay big bucks to go into hyperbaric oxygen tanks and essentially give their bodies oxygen baths. With the increase in atmospheric pressure and a pure injection of oxygen, the body’s tissues (muscles, organs, nervous system) get a hyper-dose of O2 which increases the rate and depth of healing and repair. In fact, stroke victims are being placed through a series of hyperbaric oxygen tank treatments to create an increase in healing of the affected brain areas. As great as this is, many folks cannot afford regular hyperbaric treatments. Luckily, there is a natural alternative.

Although not as intensive as hyperbaric treatments, this natural hyper-oxygenation method is risk-free and can be done anywhere, any time. It is simply the art of concentrated deep breathing. Essentially it consists of reaching a state of near hyper ventilation by repetitive deep breathing for a prolonged period of time.

deep breathing 2Studies have shown that deep breathing not only gives an increased dose of oxygen to the brain and body tissues, but it ignites the body’s “relaxation response.” This response is mediated by the parasympathetic nervous system and does the opposite of the stress response (controlled by our sympathetic system). Stress tends to constrict capillaries and shorten our breaths, resulting in hypo-ventilation. So it may be time to incorporate deep breathing to not only enrich your brain, but relax it as well.

It can be done daily or every two days. Try and avoid doing this on a full stomach. Find a quiet, relaxing area, preferably where there is fresh air. Sit or lay down, whatever is comfortable. Begin taking deep breaths. You’ll want to adhere to the following basic rules:

  • fill stomach up first, then chest
  • breathe slowly, at least 2 to 3 seconds inhalation, hold for 1 second then release for 2 to 3 seconds
  • do at least 15 breathes in this manner

As you get comfortable deep breathing, you can adjust it to your liking. Some people like taking 5 or more seconds to inhale. There is no right or wrong, as long as you follow the basic guidelines above.

Personally, I enjoy deep breathing outdoors as the air is much more fresh. Don’t be surprised if you feel the tips of your fingers or toes tingling once you’ve completed several breathes, this is one side effect to hyper oxygenation. If you are light headed or nauseous, you may want to pause momentarily.

Regular deep breathing is beneficial for anyone. It helps counter stress. It helps athletes decrease recovery time. It is not as popular as regular exercise and good nutrition, but it is a highly recommended health habit.

deep breathing 3

Brain Fitness – part 1: READING

reading 1

Reading can make your brain more fit. Researchers at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia used functional MRI’s to see how reading affects brains. They found that engaging in a good book will fire up not only the language centres of the brain but the sensory areas as well. And it will stay activated as an “afterburn” for up to a day or more afterwards. Sensory activation was an unexpected outcome and the conclusion was that the imagination mimics what the brain is reading. So if you’re reading a high action adventure, your brain “feels” what the character is doing and you are vicariously living through the book.

Research conducted in 2009 at Mindlab International at the University of Sussex showed that reading relaxes the body and brain faster than listening to soothing music. Other research has pointed to reading as one of the key activities that can help stave off Alzheimer’s and senile dementia. bookshelf

A common phenomenon in our culture is to gather our information from audio/visual mediums. In an age of the internet and massive repositories of videos (e.g.: Youtube) people are reading less and less. Screen time is replacing study time.

Unfortunately, passively gathering information from audio/visual sources does not work the brain as well. In fact, it places it in a state that is less active than sleep. It is essentially a brain-numbing activity.

reading i phoneFurthermore, research is showing that screen time in bed works against good sleep. Staring into a light source actually tricks the body’s circadian rhythm into believing it’s time to wake up, so your brain is being woken up just when you should be winding it down. Reading at bedtime will expose your true fatigue and will put you to sleep at the appropriate time and will not disturb your sleep.

Reading also is known to stimulate creativity and memory skills. Not to mention getting all the overall cognitive improvements that result when you regularly give your brain a workout.

Whether you love fiction or non-fiction (or both) adding a good 15 to 30 minutes of reading into your day can have a powerful impact on your mental health.


Do You Laugh Enough?


One of the hallmarks of childhood is how much darn fun we have. Unfortunately, many of us lose this capacity as we grow into adulthood. Although some things are childish and should not follow us into later life, some things kids do are pretty darn smart. Laughing a lot is one of them.

Evidence continues to pile up showing the multifaceted way in which laughter improves our health. Here is a short list:

– increases oxygen intake (which stimulates the brain and other internal organs)

– stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system (the “feel good” and anti-stress nerve centre)

– boosts immune system function

– increases your pain threshold

– boosts moods

You don’t need to laugh all day. Try taking time 4 or 5 times a day to see, read or think of something funny. This builds up and probably gives you 15 to 20 minutes of solid laughter each day.

If stress has built up beyond a certain point, you may find it hard to relax and have fun. Fortunately, this can be worked at (like anything else). Make time in your day when you do things you enjoy (or used to enjoy). Regardless of whether or not you get a huge kick out of these, just practice doing something other than work and worry.

Watch light hearted comedies. Mr. Bean episodes or Just For Laugh Gags are great starts. boy-laughing

Stay away from the 24-hour News Cycle. It only reports on the most horrid atrocities and with the most stressful angle. News websites and channels are taping into your stress centers and getting you hooked on bad vibes. Take one or two months off the news. Seriously, try it!

Read more and read light hearted books. Sometimes reading classic children’s literature is the best antidote to being too “grown up.” There is much wisdom in classic books.

Work at thinking positively, hanging out with people more and maybe engage in activities that make you laugh (charades, goofy party games, etc).

It’s never too late to rediscover the healthier things in life. Relationships, fun, laughter and good vibes. Our world is made up of both good and bad events. Whichever you focus on the most will predominate your life.

Best of luck!

Is Social Media Healthy?


If you are a human living on earth, chances are you have a social media account. Whether it be facebook, twitter, pinterest or any of the hundreds of options available, people are “connecting” through this digital medium.

Therefore, with so much “connecting” going on we should all be very happy and loneliness should be on its way to extinction, right?..

Unfortunately, this is not the case.

The data has come in and it appears our social ills have only been increased due to compulsive internet use, including social media. An article from the CyberPsychology & Behaviour magazine by PhD psychologists Kim, LaRose and Peng showed that those turning to the internet to fill a social and emtional void were only further disconnected from true human relationship.

For many of us who were born in the early 80’s or earlier, a world without social media is easy to imagine. A time when contact was real and organic. In contrast, modern concepts of human connectedness are — for the first time in human history — composed almost as much by digital “relationships” as they are by real human contact.

Combine this trend with the affordable nature of mobile devices and the near omnipresence of Wi Fi connections and you can see how we have been transformed into homo sapien digitalis. When I go to the grocery store or to the bank, I hardly ever see anyone stuck in line that will turn and start conversing. They used to. Nowadays, most everyone is looking down at a mobile device if they are at a bus stop, in a line up or even at the park while their kids are playing. I’ve even seen a couple at a restaurant texting away and ignoring each other!

After more than a decade of heavy social media use, it appears that we’ve come full circle and must realize that there is no replacing true human contact. The superficial nature of online relationships are millions of miles removed from the real touch of actual human social connection. Soul to soul. Not IP address to IP address. card-game

Third world countries who live with much less technology have lower rates of anxiety and depression. Although there are many reasons for this statistics, one thing is certain: they are forced to live more authentically then most Westerners because they deal with people all day, not avatars and internet trolls. The average third world resident’s day includes human contact that is comprised of actual human relationship and has nearly zero time spent in cyber-relationships.

I’m not advocated the annihilation of social media, but a much more restricted use of it.

A University of Waterloo self-administered test can be used to evaluate whether or not your are spending too much time “connecting” through your computer or mobile device. Although determining this will be more of an art than a science.

Perhaps another way to gauge your social media usage is to ask yourself how many of your social media usage is for business or for pleasure. It is inevitable to be hooked into online business connections. It is the new phone book. But it may be unhealthy to use it too much for personal emotional voids. I’ve recently asked myself how many of my “friends” on social media would actually take time to help me physically if I had an urgent need such as moving or renovating my house hold. The list is probably MUCH smaller than the hundreds of names on my facebook friends’ list. Just food for thought.

Sitting down at dinner and talking to your loved ones, reading books instead of status updates and playing with your children, friends and family is the only true “social media” and it has been practiced happily for thousands of years. Perhaps its time to lean a little away from the internet and back into reality…

Much love!


What About Sports?


photo by Petr Kratochvil (click image for more)

I work in an exercise rehabilitation clinic and prescribe hundreds of different types of exercises.

I believe in exercise.


photo by Paul Cooper (click image for more)

Yet I am surprised at how few adults in our society continue to play their favourite sport once they hit their 30’s and beyond. Usually, once the demands of family and work set in, they turn to mechanical treadmill and dumbbell routines. Fitness has officially become a “must do” and not a “I wanna do!” This is highly unfortunate and in the long term promotes increasing sedentary lifestyles.

One simple alternative is to play a sport as part of your fitness approach. There is far less routine in an individual or team sport than in a repetitive gym routine. Further, sports tend to use the body in a safer and more natural manner than many exercise machines and heavy weight workouts do. And they almost inevitably work the core muscles much more than most people’s weight lifting or cardio routine.

Everyone who already plays a sport should add sport-specific exercises to improve their performance.


photo by Anna Langova (click image for more)

That’s what the pros do. Yet most people who are not professional athletes usually do not see playing sports as a legitimate means of getting or staying fit.

Having thought about this, I’ve concluded that people assume they can go “all out” in the gym, but unless they are professionals,

there are no “all out” avenues for them in their beloved sport. Thankfully, this is is false.

With a 5 minute phone call to your local rec centre or YMCA, you will be shocked at how much friendly competition is available for the average joe.

I feel that because competition is missing from many individuals’ fitness lifestyle so is the natural motivation to do better and better. If you are willing to compete at something, the psychological and physical rewards increase tremendously. And please don’t get me wrong. I know how life can get crazy busy. You don’t have to join a league that comes with fees and a tight practice schedule, etc, etc.


photo by Peter Griffin (click image for more)

But you can join rec leagues that allow you to jump in and compete any time you are free.

My wife and I are raising and homeschooling 4 young children. I have my own practice and am involved at church. Yet 4 times per week my wife attends the YMCA and does a lot of TRX group classes. This group factor is an indirect but real form of competition. It is as much competition as she wants and so she thrives on it. It pushes her harder than solo workouts.

I have fallen in love with Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. I train under Adam Zugec at ZUMA. Whenever I show up I have the opportunity of getting friendly competition. The competitive element keeps my mind focused, gets me off my worries and I workout harder than I otherwise would without even noticing it! 

Whether it is swimming, racquet ball, tennis, hockey or a running group, the social and physical benefits of a group or competitive environment is available for the non-professional athletes. I highly recommend it.