How To Turn Stress Into A Strength: Know Your Nervous System

How To Turn Stress Into A Strength: Know Your Nervous System

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Stress changes the very structure and function of your brain. Your nervous system cannot distinguish whether stress is mental or physical – thus when stress is present, every movement, thought and reaction is altered.

With that being said stress can be positive (eustress) or negative (distress); therefore, how we react and respond to stress ultimately becomes the primer for living an optimal lifestyle.

Positive and Negative Stress:

Distress or negative stress directly relates to high levels of stress that we cannot recover from. This can include overtraining and the physical stress of intolerable volumes or loads; as well as trauma and prolonged mental and emotional stress.

Eustress or positive stress directly relates to tolerable levels of physical and psychological stress like sport and exercise, meditation and things we enjoy.

The Rise of Chronic Pain:

We live in a society where chronic pain, inflammation, injuries and daily soreness are at an all time high and it’s not because of high intensity workouts, it’s because of STRESS!

We live a world that feeds upon being busy, being over worked, under slept, and where every workout has to feel like going to war to be successful. Maybe, that’s a bit of an embellishment, but the majority of people I see in my practice are all searching for balance, but all spend 8 or more hours seated (not moving), that’s 489 minutes of your 1440 minutes in a 24-hour day. Then heading to the gym for an hour or more; which usually consists of high intensity training, loading the body and when they ask me… “I don’t know why I have pain, I don’t feel stressed.”

They are usually missing one major element in their lives – RECOVERY. This can include too much mileage too soon, or too much load without sufficient mobility, stability or movement screening first, but recovery is usually not on their radar.

Recent theories have suggested that neuro-inflammation and substantially increase when facing prolonged, uncertain and uncontrollable stress. Our internal systems are designed to modify the level of metabolic activity, adrenal activation and cortisol release to adapt to environmental demands that may eventually lead to maladaptive responses inducing a series of stress-related pathophysiological strains.

The hippocampus is highly sensitive to the effects of prolonged exposure to stress hormones and such a state has been referred to as allostatic load and may contribute to the triggering, the amplification and/or the persistence of the pain and soreness state. (Borsook et al., 2012).

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Your Nervous System In a Nutshell:

Your Autonomic Nervous System (ANS) controls your body’s unconscious processes; such as blood sugar, adrenaline dump vs drip, digestion, heart rate and breathing and much more.

The ANS has two main branches: the Sympathetic Nervous System (SNS) (flight or flight) and the Parasympathetic Nervous System (PNS) (rest and digest). Both of which are critical to our survival.

Flight or Flight:

As humans have evolved, we no longer require the need to hunt for our food or protect ourselves from the same sort of predators. Yet the same alarm system our ancestors used to ensure survival is the same alarm system that we see being over used with busy lifestyles, lack of sleep, work hard-play hard mentality and your health is suffering for it.

Rest and Digest:

Why is the parasympathetic system important to your health and training model? Simple, our physiology depends on it with the promotion of digestion, cellular repair and the ability to sleep restfully to recharge our mechanical batteries.

Our internal structure works around the clock to ensure balance, and offers us subtle suggestions when things start to fall off the tracks. This can be in the form of mild sickness, not feeling rested, feeling fatigued or foggy, and even prolonged pain or discomfort that is out of the ordinary.

If you do not account for recovery and rest, it’s like driving a car with a flat tire and a half tank of gas and expecting it to operate like a Maserati.

It is important for your body to go into deep recovery mode if it needs it. This can have negative impacts on training improvements and longer-term health if we do not allow the parasympathetic system to do its job.

Understanding the “tone” of the autonomic nervous system can be extremely useful in assessing whether you are over training (catabolic or breaking down), under training (plateau) or developing and adapting (anabolic or building up) state; as well as determining the nature and effectiveness of your therapeutic sessions and training sessions.

Monitoring Your Nervous System’s Activity:

With the rise of wearable technology and fitness/health trackers it’s easier than ever to monitor your health; however it can be challenging to know where to start or how to interpret the data once collected.

To ensure you don’t play the guessing game, it’s always best to consult with a professional who can help you achieve a baseline or do as much research as you can to ensure your success.

The keys to monitoring your nervous system your health and the state of your recovery boil down to these 3 key ingredients:

  1. Resting Heart Rate
  2. Sleep Patterns and Quality
  3. Heart Rate Variability

In the next 3 articles, we will look at each of these in a little more detail, starting with heart rate variability next week. If you can’t wait till then for more information on monitoring your nervous system activity and recovery contact Moveolution or keep an eye on the Moveolution facebook, instagram and twitter pages.


Apkarian, A., Baliki, M., & Geha, P. (2009). Towards a theory of chronic pain Prog Neurobiol, 87 (2), 81-97 DOI:10.1016/j.pneurobio.2008.09.018

Borsook D, Maleki N, Becerra L, McEwen B – Understanding migraine through the lens of maladaptive stress responses: a model disease of allostatic load. Neuron 2012;73:219-34

Heart Rate Variability, Elite HRV

Can stress be positive? The answer is YES

Can stress be positive? The answer is YES


In the hustle and bustle of city life, stress has become a way of life. If you aren’t stressed, you must not be working hard enough, right? You can’t possibly succeed if you aren’t sporting the external or internal wounds of a great battle, long hard days and nights….right?  Wrong! If you are THAT stressed, you are one day closer to death. How about that for a bold statement – and it’s true. Bio chemically we recognize that stress increases the production of cortisol; which in small quantities acts as an anti-inflammatory; however in large doses, like in cases of sustained stress it can be toxic. The adrenal glands have to work twice as hard, pumping out adrenaline and cortisol, suppressing the immune system and activating our fight or flight response. This in turn, is the starting point of that perpetual cycle of anxiety that many of us high functioning people feel, but what if I told you stress could be good? What if I told you by simply changing your perspective and relationship to stress – it could be good for your health, not always bad. Much like anything in life “good” vs “bad” feelings are just that – how we feel. Change your thoughts, and ultimately you change your feels and meaning you place on any one word… and today that word is stress.

In a recent Ted Talk called “How to Make Stress Your Friend” Kelly McGonigal PhD, is a health psychologist and lecturer at Stanford University, and a leading expert in the new field of “science-help” urges us to see stress as a positive, and introduces us to how we can choose to change how we feel about stress and offers us the best possible model for stress reduction: reaching out to others.

Dr. McGonigal reveals startling findings—including the clinically supported methods for training the mind away from default states and negativity that no longer serve us and establishing behaviors and attitudes aligned with our highest values and aspirations. As the world’s wisdom traditions teach and science is now verifying, our lives are in fact defined by constant change, when we can understand our biological and biochemical make up are rooted in connection, and compassion and that when we reach out to others we improve our health. Now, doesn’t that make you feel a bit better about your health?

In this Ted Talk one study tracked 1000 adults in the US ranging in ages form 34 to 93. They were asked two questions? How much stress have you experienced in the last year? They also asked how much time have you spent helping out neighbors, family, friends, and people in your community?  And then they used public records to find out who died.

Stress is the number one contributor to most preventable diseases in our world and for every major stressful experience you have (like really stressful) this increases the risk of dying by 30%.  BUT, these studies will show that wasn’t true for everyone; people who spent time caring for others showed no increase in stress related dying in bio markers. The catalyst – caring created resilience. How we think, and how we act transform how we use stress. When we choose to view our stress response as helpful, we create the biology of courage and when we choose to connect with others under stress, we create resilience.

Stress gives us access to our hearts and to the science of our brain – a compassionate heart, one of joy, love and appreciation for others. This gives us strength and energy. And thus, we make a pretty profound statement – we say to ourselves that we CAN face life’s challenges and that we do not have to do it alone. In last week’s article we talked about the Vagus nerve (compassion nerve) and how we are hard wired to connect with others, to be of service to others and to nurture healing within ourselves. The universe wants us to be happy, but not without a little hard work put forth first! This brings me to my second point of “stress” and that is “time.” As we age we seem to lose track of time, the seasons change, the days go by, sometimes it feels like  there is just too much to do and not enough time.


What is time?

I recently taught at a workshop in Salinas California called “The Evolution Power Pack” held at Wolf Fitness Systems; a movement based health and wellness company who organized a two day smorgasbord of modules and workshops which were designed to cultivate the power behind connecting with our personal potential, using the power behind movement sophistication and physical challenges.

In the first module; Shane Heins, founder and owner of “Dare to Evolve,” opened with a profound statement that set the tone for the rest of the weekend.

His booming voice asked the participants; “this weekend I ask you to deeply reflect upon the idea of time, we know that we cannot change time, but we can choose to change our relationship to it.”

The ultimate vision behind Shane’s module “Clubbell Hero Evolution” offered each of us the opportunity to create room and space for transformation through connecting to what our personal goal were for the weekend.

This brought up an element of stress for me as I moved through the weekend, because it showcased some of the areas of my life that I find challenging to accept and process, yet are fundamentally on the flip side opportunities for growth and evolution. My goal was to create space for self-compassion; like in the hero’s journey – to feel liberated and to understand that one does not need to suffer to succeed, that one can succeed through ease and grace.  Some of the questions I found myself pondering were:

What patterns do I accept and acknowledge in my own life that require change?

What lessons am I learning or repressing?

What patterns am I repeating that no longer serve me?

What is my relationship to time and am I creating the life I want to live?

Why am I holding onto fear? What is it about the words” succeed with ease and grace” so daunting to me. Why do I feel I need to suffer, bleed, sweat and shed a few tears to succeed in life? And how does this relate to self compassion? What is self compassion?… and down the rabbit hole we go!

In Shane’s follow up blog to the attendees he showcased the importance of what it means to “Participate or Contribute,” and it dawned on me – was I contributing or just merely participating. In simplistic terms; was a creating my own future or merely just on the sidelines. Participating is great, but it has a limited expiration date, if you do not contribute you miss out on a lot of data needed for long term change. It’s like the old saying – “give a man a fish, and you’ll feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, and he’ll feed himself for a lifetime,” or something to that nature.

Here is a short excerpt from his blog Participate or Contribute:

“There is a fine line between Participate and Contribute. That difference resides in the choice you make.

When we participate:

  • we are there, but it does not necessitate that we be “present”.
  • we need only take part, not take whole
  • we are in a position to receive without having to give.
  • we can do so without commitment

When we contribute:

  • we invest wholeheartedly in what lies before us
  • we give of ourselves honestly to exploring the process
  • we step forward with the courage to share the best part of ourselves with each other
  • we value all present
  • we are grateful for all involved

The Stress of Challenge and Adversity can Be GOOD:

It is almost impossible to eliminate all stress, but how we relate to it determines the outcome of our health and our prosperity in life. There is such a thing as “good stress.” Our goal should be to keep our stress level manageable. If we start to move away from those negative self-defeating thoughts we say to ourselves that are self-critical or when we assume the worst about someone or some-thing, we can move towards positive self-talk; which is a way of “re-programming” our brains and our attachments to “stressful” situations.

Many of the worries and anxieties we have are not based in the here-and-now circumstances of our lives, but are projections into the future – a future that may never happen. We each have a choice and an opportunity to pull back the reins and change our relationship to stress. Much like movement and health – routine and habits are created through committed, sustained practice. So the next time you feel stressed, take a step back and ask yourself why. If you can’t change the stressful situation ask your-self how you can change your relationship to it, to find the opportunity for growth, I guarantee you’ll feel much better and hey, maybe even perhaps turn that frown upside down!


Chronic Pain Series Part 3: Disarming PTSD & Occupational Stress Injuries

Chronic Pain Series Part 3: Disarming PTSD & Occupational Stress Injuries



What is subjectivity? 

Subjectivity, is a term used to determine a person’s perception, experience, feelings and beliefs. Most often, when it comes to chronic pain and mental health screening the “subjectivity” and indicators of risk, are still a large grey area and can be “subject” to interpretation.  Why? Because the reality is – the only person who can truly know 100% how you feel, how an experience has affected you – is you, and you alone. The rest is objective; as health care providers we make the most appropriate call we can based on our assessment; and this is where the grey area resides.  As much as subjectivity is a process of individuation, it is equally a process of socialization, taking into context the cultural environment, and the experience of interaction with people, places, and events.  These things change a person, and the debate on the best way to form a SOP (standard operating system) for diagnosis, treatment, prevention and programs is one hot topic that continues to be an on going theme in my research.

Over the last several articles,  introducing chronic pain, we have used the term `biopsychosocial model;` (bio) means biological, psycho (means psychological) and social (means environment); all of which refers to the body`s physiological, adaptive response to fear, pain and our environment. This model is the cornerstone of my research and although some of us may be born with a biologically determined, heightened sensitivity to stress, this fact alone is insufficient to create an anxiety disorder or even a precautionary risk factor for occupational stress indicators. Yet, it can give us great insight into being more receptive to persons who many be at risk. For instance someone who has had a long standing degree of child abuse, may be greater risk for depression or PTSD if he or she takes on a role involved with law enforcement, social work or combat… or on the flip side, it could be a leading reason they excel at these professions if they have the right coping strategy and insight. Again… there’s that grey area again. There has not been enough data collection to support either side.

Let’s review that model again’ the psychological factors in the biopsychosocial model refer to our thoughts, beliefs, and perceptions about ourselves, our experiences, and our environment. These cognitive patterns affect our perceived sense of control over our environment, and affect the way we assess and interpret events as either threatening or non-threatening; which are highly subjective.

Chronic Pain & PTSD:

Chronic pain and mental health screening, diagnosis, and pathways to direct treatment, are not yet fully standardized in our medical system, but, we have made much progress over the last decade with more health care providers looking at the integrated approach towards programs and services for people living with pain and people with dual diagnosis with mental health or trauma.

In an article written at the United States Department of Veterans Affairs, titled “ The Experience of Chronic Pain and PTSD: A Guide for Health Care Providers,” states a current PTSD prevalence of 35% was seen in a sample of chronic pain patients, compared to 3.5% in the general population. Trauma is not just physical or mental, it is both; all encompassing.

The human body and brain are one of the most complex and quantifiable conundrums, because there is still so much we do not yet understand about why one person can experience chronic lasting pain and another does not. Or, for the purpose of our discussion topic day; why one person can experience a traumatic event and suffer from PTSD, while another does not. It is a question that remains unanswered.

What is PTSD & OSI?

PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) is a serious potentially debilitating condition that can occur in people who have experienced or witnessed a natural disaster, serious accident, and sudden death of a loved one, war, violent personal assault such as rape, or other life-threatening event. It can leave the person feeling intense fear, anger, and hopelessness.

Operational Stress Injury (OSI) is best described as any persistent psychological difficulty resulting from operational duties performed while serving in the Canadian Forces or in law enforcement or any emergency response profession. Difficulties may occur during combat duties, after serving in a war zone, in peacekeeping missions, or following other traumatic or serious events not specific to combat.

While it is considered normal to experience some form of distress after being exposed to a traumatic event, for some individuals, the symptoms persist. The long-term consequences can include, but are not limited to problems with interpersonal functioning, cognitive and biopsychosocial functioning, mental health  disorders, as well as substance abuse disorders, affective disorders, anxiety disorders, eating disorders, and conduct disorders.

More importantly, for those in professions where high stress is part of the nature of the job, like in military or law enforcement, coming out and saying “I may have PTSD” can seem like a great blow to the ego. Much like mental illness or chronic pain… PTSD comes with a label and the stigmatization attached to that label.


The Multi-Method Model: Screening 101

Psychologists and Psychiatric doctors are taught early in their training that assessment of human behavior and emotion is best done within a “multi-trait, multi-method” model.  The bases for this model are (a) the human condition, and (b) statistical limitations on measurement. As care providers we have a difficult time ascertaining the accuracy of patients’ pain severity, because of the nature of subjectivity. This can include chronic pain or mental health indicators. The body’s pain receptors or neuroplasticty just feels pain… it cannot differentiate between physical or mental always.

How do we really know when someone has an occupational stress injury or PTSD? We know that chronic pain, mental health and possible disability that often comes with it can lead to a cognitive reevaluation and reintegration of one’s belief systems, values, emotions, and feelings of self-worth and self responsibility , more importantly,  how one feels about the capability of performing their job and living their life.

Assessing PTSD can be tricky and it takes time and patience.  Measures vary in their sensitivity, specificity, and clinical utility for different settings and populations. Time permitting, the use of both self-report and interview-based assessments is recommended.  Health care providers generally assess by administering cognitive and physical examinations, having patients perform various tasks, if chronic pain is an indicator they could include exercises that help the provider evaluate the patient’s strength, flexibility and reflexes. When it comes to assessing mental health or PTSD risk factors, these exercises can range from one on one interviews where the professional looks for behavioral markers, assesses mental acuity, emotional triggers and cognitive thought processes.

Despite all of our understanding thus far on both chronic pain and mental health, the relationship between traumatic event exposure and adverse emotional or mental triggers/ affects remains still a very large grey area. Despite efforts to fully understand the relationship between traumatic event exposure and adverse mental health outcomes, our ability to quantify why only some trauma-exposed individuals become emotionally affected remains challenged.

Canada Steps Up:

Canada has some of the top tiered standard operating systems in North America, yet as a whole we can only train our officers so much, we can only prepare them so much and it is only until they are placed in real life situations can we truly know if PTSD or mental health risks will be a factor. Over the course of the last half decade Canada has been recognized as a world leader in fighting stigmatization and raising awareness of mental health illnesses.

In fact, through the Canadian Armed Forces, we have the greatest ratio of mental health care workers to soldiers in NATO, however most of what we now know and have implemented has been post deployment and is still a work in progress

Historically, PTSD has been associated with military personnel and the traumatic experiences involving combat and warfare situations, as well as emergency responders such as law enforcement and fire and rescue, but this can occur in any individual who suffers some form of trauma. The prevalence of PTSD is substantially elevated in patients with chronic pain, which is no wonder, as we know the nervous system cannot differentiate stress from the mind or body, all it feels is pain and stress. Officers that are on the front lines, are injured in battle or have had to be deployed for long periods of time have a higher degree of risk for both PTSD and chronic pain. Combat changes people, and pain changes people.

Many officers in law enforcement who are involved in confrontation, who have to work long shifts, operate on little sleep and have to deal with the worst of people’s worst days, day in and day out, also have a higher risk because of the nature of the job. This is not rocket science; and even though it has been very slow, the government is finally recognizing the need for greater resources and prevention nationwide.

The Canadian Armed Forces: Standing at The Front Lines

The first Operational Traumatic Stress Support Centre (OTSSC) opened in 1999. “ Lessons learned about psychiatric casualties from World War I (shell shock) and World War II (combat exhaustion, which comprised up to 25 per cent of all casualties in the Italian campaign) had been forgotten by the Canadian Forces (CF) by the time they were engaged in the first Gulf War in 1991.” Wrote Greg Passey, MD, CD, FRCPC  (1)

Canada’s role in the Afghanistan War began in late 2001; where we sent first Canadian soldiers secretly in October 2001 from Joint Task Force 2, and then the first contingents of regular Canadian troops arrived in Afghanistan in January–February 2002.  At the height of the war, during 2006, the high level of casualties and injured troops was overwhelming. Since then, the Canadian Armed Forces has made leaps and bounds in providing officers with necessary resources; however, many say there are still not enough professionals to go around. Even though all recruits must undergo rigorous screening both physically and psychologically prior to and post deployment, there are not enough operational stress injury clinics outside of the main facilities.

In 2011, the Canadian Forces released a study noting that of 2,045 randomly chosen personnel who served in Afghanistan between 2001 and 2008, eight per cent were diagnosed with mission-related PTSD. An additional 5.2 per cent were diagnosed with Afghanistan-related mental health disorders other than PTSD, like depression. (1)

In an article written by CTV news, dated July 20th 2011; by Dr. Greg Passey, who is a trauma psychiatrist and a former military medical officer, says the situation (PTSD and suicide) is all too common.  He says despite all the progress that has been made in raising awareness of PTSD, the stigma is still there and is a huge obstacle to overcome for many people in and out of the military.

“There remains a lot of misperception and ignorance within the military in regards to issues like post-traumatic stress disorder. They’re often viewed as people who are disciplinary problems,” Passey told Canada AM in this article.

Even the term ‘mental health issues,’ is stigmatizing, because it doesn’t speak to the severity of the illness, nor does it produce metrics to use for treatment. The brain is a physical organ. It has physical abnormalities and diseases processes and injuries. And so we should be talking about brain disorders. While they’re in the military, the resources aren’t too bad. The difficulty is once they’re released. And the reservists who have to depend on civilian resources; they can get lost.” (2)

He goes on to say that even with the recent recognition of PTSD, there are still not enough psychiatric resources and professionals to go around. The situation can become worse once a soldier retires or is discharged because they leave the support system.

In 1991, the majority of military psychiatrists at that time were centralized at the National Defence Medical Centre in Ottawa. Members of the military requiring assessment or treatment had to travel to Ottawa, which added to the stigma of mental health diagnoses. However, since 2006, the CAF has structured operational stress injury clinics all over Canada, all of which provide assessment, treatment, prevention and support to serving CAF members and Veterans. Each OSI clinic operate on an outpatient basis only and include one-on-one therapy sessions and group sessions to address PTSD, and mental health indicators and other issues that are occurring as a result of experiencing one or more traumatic events. Even though the CAF has made many changes and additions to support their troops; there needs to be a higher political agenda pushed forward and pushed up the food chain at the health care systemic level. (1)

Law Enforcement:  In The Line of Duty

At the JIBC (Justice Institute of British Columbia), all new recruits undergo block training where they prepare for the stressors and are offered courses/materials to better understand the complexities they could encounter on the job. They offer classes like; critical incident and stress, acute reactions to trauma and grief, incident reduction, front line workers guide and a all supported by the Public Safety Library. This relates to both law enforcement and fire and rescue candidates.

All new recruits with the Vancouver Police Department (VPD) are offered a health and wellness workshop style day at Copeman Healthcare, one of Vancouver’s leading private healthcare facilities; and home to my employer with Fit to Train.

New recruits come to Copeman Healthcare center and are offered preventative tools to ensure their optimal physical and mental health are looked after. Speakers from the physiotherapy and Kinesiology department, as well as the medical and psychology fields speak on topics related to long term health and law enforcement. Dr. Mackoff; a Registered Psychologist consults to a number of police departments both in Canada and internationally. As a psychologist Dr. Mackoff treats individuals experiencing difficulties with anxiety, trauma, depression and relationships. Dr. Mackoff has an interest in providing psychological assistance to individuals who are coping with health related difficulties

The RCMP’s Occupational Health Services, have specialized health practitioners who screen and monitor all members to identify mental health risks, as well as OSI clinics all over Canada, close or within detachments. RCMP officers have direct access to Canadian medical and psychological practitioners of their choice; inclusive of general physicians, psychiatrists, and community-based psychologists; asll of which fall under the RCMP’s Health Care Entitlements and Benefits Programs.

In October 2012; the Ontario Ombudsman released a report, “In the Line of Duty” in which was an investigation into how the Ontario Provincial Police and the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services have addressed operational stress injuries affecting police officers; where 34 recommendations were outlined.

Much like the RCMP the OPP found that one of the obstacles facing police is that the force has not done any significant research into the OSIs among its officers, that the periodic screening is voluntary and there is a high level of stigma associated with OSI.

In the BOLC “Badge of Life Canada” online blog; they featured 2 of those recommendations (3) :

Recommendation 1:

The Ontario Provincial Police should take additional steps to reduce the stigma associated with operational stress injuries existing within its organization, including:

  • conducting a comprehensive review of its education, training, peer support, employee assistance and other programming related to these injuries

Recommendation 2:

  • consulting with experts, police stakeholders, the Canadian Forces, Veterans Affairs Canada, and other police organizations
  • researching best practices relating to addressing operational stress injuries in policing; and
  • developing and implementing a comprehensive and co-ordinated program relating to operational stress injuries. Subsection 21(3)(g) Ombudsman Act

Furthermore, a study from Carleton University found that officers in Canada are facing greater pressures at work that may be taking a greater physical and mental toll on police than previously believed.


A PTSD Mobile Coach:

The use of technology has also been a great turning point in chronic pain and mental health. The new OSI mobile app is a new channel for Veterans and serving personnel in the Canadian Armed Forces and the RCMP to get information and resources on operational stress injuries.

The PTSD Coach Canada app is designed to help you learn about and manage symptoms that can occur after trauma. Features include; reliable information on PTSD and treatments that work, tools for screening and tracking your symptoms, easy-to-use tools to help you handle stress symptoms, direct links to support and help and is always with you when you need it. Form more information please visit this (link).


A Local Hero: Captain John Croucher, PPCLI officer working at 1CMBG

This is a story that deserves its own headliner, its own article. Captain John Croucher’ otherwise known as “The Sir,” to his men served in Afghanistan in 2006. The platoon captain of the 1st Battalion, Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry; who on May 25th, 2006 was severly injured after an he and his 20 officers, and their LAV was struck by an IED. The third to hit Alpha’s second platoon, or the 1-2 as it’s called; Capt. Croucher underwent eight surgeries at three different hospitals in three different countries, first in Afghanistan at the Canadian-led base hospital at Kandahar Air Field, then at the U.S. military hospital in Landstuhl, Germany, and finally in Canada at the U of A.

In 2006 Cpt. Croucher came to Vancouver to receive treatment for PTSD and further rehabilitation and I was the lucky Movement Coach who was given the privilege to work with Captain Croucher weekly for nearly 2 years. He remains one of my dearest friends and is one of my hero’s.

Next week hear Captain Croucher’s story and his first hand accounts of overcoming injury, breaking the stigma of PTSD and his role back in active duty, as well as some of the positive changes our government is making in OSI standardization, as well as some of the gaps that may still need bridging.

June is PTSD National Awareness Month, let’s support our troops!



6 Simple Reasons Why You Should Detox

As I am starting my own little ’detox’, I thought it could be fun to share some reasons why detoxing is a good idea. It’s winter and it’s a lot harder to find motivation and energy during this time of year (at least it is for me). It’s an easy time to stray from disciplined yoga practices and healthy habits and instead cozy up in the blankets day after day waiting for the sun to return.

OK, so, detoxing includes cleaning the body from the inside out, resting, light exercise and let’s not forget nourishment. It’s total TLC time (tender, love and care) to help you replenish and renew your optimal health by enhancing the body’s natural healing system. And, there are plenty of ways to detox. You can detox for just a few days up to a couple of weeks, even more. You can also make up your own detox program or get some help from your local health food store. From deep herbal cleansing programs to juice fasting to refuelling with simple super healthy nutrients, there’s a program that can work for you.

It’s an excuse to kick bad habits! Take a break from alcohol, coffee, cigarettes, refined sugar and saturated fats, all of which act as toxins and act as obstacles to the natural healing processes of the body. You can even use detoxing as an excuse to finally quit smoking or to kick the habit of caffeine hydration. That’s right, a double espresso doesn’t do too much for your body even if you have one four times a day.

Try something alternative! You should try to avoid chemical-based personal care products or household cleaners during a detox (you would be surprised how much gets absorbed by the skin and lungs!). Chemical-based products are after all, toxic. Experiment with some natural alternatives especially for deodorant, soaps, toothpastes and shampoos. And, get a dry brush for your skin. It feels great!

Say goodbye to stress and hello to yoga and meditation. Stress, in large amounts, creates a toxic build up and slows down the detoxification process, not to mention it can lead to a number of other negative things including one serious bad attitude. Yoga and meditation help you to learn how to deal with the inevitable stress that life brings and in many ways, teaches you to smile from the inside out.

Ok, duh, it’s good for you! Detoxing gets rid of toxins, allows your body to heal and creates a clean ‘slate’ for you to, in a way, start over. Bust out of bad habits and create new, healthier habits. If you are noticing a lot of skin breakouts, can’t think clearly, experiencing a lot of low-grade infections, dark circles under the eyes, feeling sluggish or having intestinal issues, then it’s probably a good time to detox.

Rediscover your discipline. And, why exactly would you want to do that? Well, to get your control back and to find something that you didn’t know you lost. We can get sucked into bad habits for months, even years! Better to nip them in the bud while you still can! And, when you are achieving your goals, you feel great. Detoxing and sticking to it inspires the will within!

Detoxing also inspires others! When you detox and start to feel great, you typically want that greatness for those around you. And, when friends and family start to see how good you are feeling and the good decisions you are making, it’s an inspiration for them to do so too.

Detoxing helps us to get back onto the track of living a healthy life, but it’s not easy, especially not at first. The exiting of toxins can be harsh, especially at the beginning, but just think, it may uncomfortable as they come out, but imagine the damage they could do if you just kept them in there.

Take your time, you can do it and start living as optimally as you can. You won’t regret it.

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