Sunday, December 25, 2011

Happy Holidays!!!

Happy Holidays Everyone!!

We are especially blessed this year with the best Christmas present ever....the arrival of our daughter, Aria!!!

It's been a wonderful time and we are happily sleep deprived and completely in love with our baby girl.  We're also lucky to have my entire family here to help us out with the baby and to celebrate the holidays.

Thank you everyone for your well wishes and wonderful parenting and baby advice :)

From our family to yours, wishing you strength, health and happiness this holiday season and a very joyous 2012!!!

In health,
Aileen, Makoto, Aria and Rambo

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

How to Feed your Kids a Healthy Lunch...that they'll actually like!

Yes, we are still a few years away from having to decide what our daughter will get for her school lunch.

Even though Aileen and I are both practising Naturopaths, we still have differences in our own tastebuds and our own likes and dislikes, and what we will potentially feed our kid(s) when they get to school age. We are major plan-aheaders, so discussions have already started about what we are each going to contribute to our childrens' packed school lunches.

We have fun times reminiscing about our own good/bad/ugly experiences with our lunches as kids...although living in this decade in downtown Toronto has a completely different set of rules from growing up in the 1980s.

My hippy lunches were packed full of nutrition, but were very low on the cool scale (I actually loved my lunches until a lunch-lady made fun of my lunch in grade 3 "What are you eating? Maggots?", after which I became very self-conscious of what I was eating compared to other kids). Here was my typical lunch:
  • 1 hardboiled egg
  • 1-2 rice balls, wrapped in nori (seaweed), stuffed with umeboshi (fermented plum)
  • an apple or orange
  • small fruit yogurt
  • on a rare occasion, a treat of natural fruit leather
Aileen's lunches were extremely high on the cool lunch scale, but nutritionally lacking. She loved her lunches, and I'm sure the other kids often tried to trade her for her bounty of delectables. (note that Aileen's mom is an amazing cook, with her specialty being very healthy Korean cuisine, but tried to integrate Aileen's lunches to the North American standard, not realizing how unhealthy the norms are here)
  • wagon wheel
  • bag of chips
  • nutella sandwich
  • juice box
  • on a rare occasion, a surprise mom-delivered Happy Meal 
This being said, Aileen tells me about her frequent childhood ear infections, allergies, nasal congestion and her "cute, but robust" physique. I was a scrawny kid, but, sadly (from my childhood perspective), never got to miss a day of school thanks to my overly healthy lunches.

High-maintenance gluten-free, dairy-free, nut-free, egg-free, food-dye-free, sugar-free kids seems to be somewhat the norm these days....which is great news for us soon-to-be overbearing naturopathic parents! However, being a kid is still being a kid so the key is trying to find a balance between our nutritional ideals, their tastes and not being social outcasts. I think a healthy balance between our childhood lunches would be a perfect compromise.

Here are some ideas for healthy, kid-tastebud-friendly, and not too uncool lunches:

  • dinner leftovers (who doesn't love leftovers?)
  • Brown rice pasta with peas/carrots
  • Dimpflmeier or Stonemill bread sandwich with nitrite-free meats, avocado, sprouts, 365 Brand Ketchup/mustard
  • Wraps (rice paper, tortilla) with salmon/turkey/chicken and vegetables 
  • Brown rice balls with nori (these have come full circle and may actually be cool to have in Toronto)
The all-important Snack:
  • Larabars (who needs fruit roll-ups when you have these?)
  • Sweets from the Earth gluten-free Cashew Cookies
  • Celery sticks stuffed with almond butter (hummus, if nut-free) and raisins
  • Oskri coconut bars
  • Sheep yogurt
  • Cut up veggies (red peppers, carrots, cucumbers)
  • Trail mix (seeds instead of nuts)
  • Apple, berries, orange, pear, banana, etc..
  • Water bottle
  • Boxed unsweetened brown rice/almond milk
  • Coconut water
  • as a treat, Blue Sky natural rootbeer
Disclaimer: Of course, these are all in the very early planning stages and have not been tested first-hand...we'll keep you posted on what we actually settle on a few years down the road. :)

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Preggy Time - 2nd Trimester

So good!  :)  The second trimester has definitely been a great definitely don't realize how differently you have been feeling for the past several months until things start to get back to normal for you.  Most women enjoy their 2nd trimester the most during pregnancy as this is when your morning sickness starts to subside, you regain your energy, you reach your halfway point in the pregnancy and best of all, you feel your baby kick for the first time!!!!  I was lucky to be able to enjoy the summer months (and prime ice cream season) that coincided with my 2nd trimester.

We've been going for our monthly check ups with our OBGYN which are exciting as we get to hear our baby's heartbeat :)  Another huge milestone is reached at 20 weeks when you go in for your anatomy ultrasound.  This is the one that takes a good 45min-60min and they go through every little part of your growing baby to make sure everything is developing properly.  So really, we already know that our baby has ten little fingers and ten little toes! :)  The results of our two part IPS blood tests also come back and you go through these results plus the anatomy ultrasound together with your OBGYN at your next appointment post anatomy ultrasound.

Although I didn't start showing much in the 2nd trimester, feeling our baby kick for the first time was the most exciting and amazing part of the pregnancy.  Unfortunately, this is something only I could feel (no matter how much Makoto tried his best to poke and palpate my tummy) as the baby is too small still for any movements to be felt from the outside of the tummy.  Makoto does his share in connecting with the baby by having his nightly "chats" with my tummy and reading bedtime stories to the baby.  We've definitely done some damage to our credit cards at the's amazing how nostalgic it is to go to the children's section of Indigo and see all your favorite childhood storybooks.  We both went berserk when we re-discovered "Where the Sidewalk Ends" by Shel Silverstein :) 

One thing I started experiencing was low back pain which I wanted to nip in the bud as I was sure it was only going to worsen with my progressively growing tummy so there were 3 things that were integral in improving the pain:

1.  Regular adjustments with my chiropractor (Dr. Brian Dower -  -  WOW!  Did it ever make a difference after my spine was realigned.  I had a few imbalances in both my thoracic and lower spine so re-aligning it made almost an instant....and more importantly....sustained difference in my low back pain.

2.  Regular massages with Chris and Luis - both AMAZING registered massage therapists at our clinic.  They are also experienced at pre-natal massage.....I've never had a side-lying massage before but find it even more relaxing than a face-down massage!  I seriously want to bring them to the hospital with me on the day we give birth!

3.  Yoga/Stretching/Rest - I learned pretty quickly that running around all day long and not allowing myself to rest was not helping the low back pain situation at all.  Even just taking a 15min rest (as in lie down somewhere and FULLY commit to resting) every few hours helped so much.  I do yoga moves and stretches before bedtime as well which has helped.

We ended our 2nd trimester and entered our 3rd trimester with the most wonderful baby party thrown for us by two of our best friends.  We were blessed to be joined by 60 of our friends and 150 pink and white balloons.........IT'S A GIRL!!!!!!! :):):):):):):)

Friday, August 12, 2011

Preggy Time - 1st Trimester

Now that I'm happily into my 2nd trimester of pregnancy, I can't believe how fast my 1st trimester went!!  I must admit that I've been pretty lucky and have had a smooth pregnancy so major morning sickness, no puking and just some mild nausea.  One thing that I wasn't warned about was that you lose your appetite all together during the 1st trimester.  I often found that I just wasn't I ended up losing weight my first trimester!!  One thing that was confusing was knowing what our next steps were once our pee-stick pregnancy test confirmed that we were pregnant.  After we calmed down from excitement/happiness/pure fear, we found that we had no idea what to do next! 

Makoto and I decided to go through the good ol' OBGYN route with our 1st pregnancy.  We had researched a list of doctors through a combination of referrals from colleagues,, and friends and I went to my GP with this list hoping to get into one of our top choices.  My GP (who is absolutely fantastic and I trust completely) didn't even look at my list and referred me to an OBGYN he works with and just knew that we would get along.  Well, he was absolutely right!  So far, I am very happy with our choice of going through our 1st pregnancy with an OBGYN.

My GP and his support team also set me up with:

1.  Blood test and urine test to confirm pregnancy and check out important blood markers like my anemia status, thyroid function, vaccine history, viruses/infections and of course blood type and Rh factor.

2.  Referred me for my 8 week ultrasound (warning......if the baby is too small to get a good abdominal ultrasound reading, they will do an intravaginal ultrasound! Uncomfortable if you're not prepared for this but absolutely amazing to see your little baby for the first time!!)

3.  Sent a referral to the OBGYN we agreed upon - from there, I have been going to the hospital that our OBGYN is affiliated with.

4.  After meeting with our OBGYN at our 12 week follow up, he sent me for 12 week ultrasound and our 1st round of blood work called IPS to rule out down syndrome, trisomy 21 and any spinal cord defects.  The IPS bloodwork has 2 parts to it and is actually completed in your 2nd trimester (and also factors in readings from your ultrasounds) so you discuss the results with your doctor well into your 2nd trimester.

It's been so exciting going to the ultrasounds to see our baby (Makoto calls it skyping with our baby) and our fridge and walls of our offices and waiting room at our clinic are now plastered with ultrasound pictures :)  I find that a common complaint with OBGYNs is that you feel rushed for time but we found that going into our appointments with specific questions helped to focus our time and we felt that all of our questions were sufficiently answered.

The following things helped me get through my 1st trimester:

1.  Not forcing myself to do...really anything!  I had a master plan of nutrition, exercise, meditation, prayer, vitamins, supplements, lists of books to read, etc all ready to go for as soon as I found out I was pregnant.  Then the reality of pregnancy hit my body and I found that I barely wanted to eat, let alone choke down my vitamins and fish oils, then would fall into a comatose sleep by 8pm.  I stopped pressuring myself to be on my "ideal pregnancy plan" and just went with the flow.  I made sure to eat when I could, take naps when I knew I needed them, slowed my social schedule, took walks around the neighborhood with Makoto and Rambo and pretty much took it easy. 

2.  I figured out that my nausea was instantly relieved when I smelled fresh lemons!!  I think that, for me, it was a sensory thing rather than a hypoglycemia/blood sugar issue.  Makoto even made this hilarious mask for me that had fresh lemon peels inserted into it.  But often just slicing fresh lemons and smelling them helped to ease my mild nausea.

3.  Keeping well hydrated.  There was something in knowing that my body was producing loads of amniotic fluid that helped me to constantly hydrate myself.  I drank loads of good ol' filtered water as well as iced peppermint/lemon/ginger tea to mix things up.  I found that it really helped dissipate headaches and kept my skin feeling great!

4.  When it was hard to take my prenatal vitamins and fish oils, I started juicing again as I found sipping a cup of fresh fruit/veggie juice was much easier to digest than capsules.  I also mixed my liquid fish oil into applesauce (just like how I prescribe to my wee little pediatric patients) and found it much easier to gulp down 1Tbsp of applesauce than pure liquid fish oil.  Also, making sure I had some food in my stomach before taking my prenatal vitamins and fish oils helped me to not feel as nauseous. 

5.  Communicating how I'm feeling with Makoto.  Makoto has been an amazing partner and very understanding but I also realized that he wants to be just as much of a part of our day to day pregnancy life as I am!  This is basically the biggest science project of his life and he has researched the benefits of proper nutrition, fish oils, exercise, etc on fetal development and I know that it kills him when he watches me eat a nutella sandwich for dinner.......3 days in a row.  We established from the beginning that the MOST important thing is for us to be peaceful and happy as a couple....and family :)  So we compromised....I can have my nutella sandwich as long as I wash it down with a cup of fresh veggie/fruit juice :)

All pregnancies are different.......we are lucky to have 7 friends that are currently pregnant as well and it's amazing how much variation there is in how we are all feeling.  Just remember the most important thing is to not put pressure on yourself, keep yourself comfortable....and enjoy this precious time!!

Aileen Lim-Trotter

Monday, July 11, 2011

Pregnancy and Fatherhood: First Trimester

I am so stoked about having a kid!

It is definitely a more observational role that the father plays during pregnancy compared to the mother...watching from the outside how there are changes to her tastes, sensitivities, emotions as the direct nurturer of the child in the womb.

They say that a woman becomes a mother when she is pregnant, and a man becomes a father when the baby is born...although I understand the logic, I also disagree. Things change for us men in a major way once you know that you have a child on the way. I think the nine months gestation is critical to men because it buys us, the slower emotional gender, time to process, reconfigure and rationalize everything that it entails to be a father.

The first trimester is cool because you have incredible life-changing news! You are a father. You have the privileged opportunity to raise a child and experience the joys of parenthood (and of course, the expected stresses that are all made palatable by these joys). Biologically, as a proud male, you have propagated your genetic material (not that it is accomplished by undesirable means!). The notion of being a father is inexplicably fascinating and amazing to me.

As Aileen and I approach our fifth wedding anniversary, I feel so lucky to have had this time alone with her but we both feel so blessed to embark on this next journey together. I am thankful that Aileen has been so understanding during the first trimester, as I can only imagine the changes her body is going through. She has different wants and needs than before that I am sure I am not completely understanding, but trying my best, and she has had few criticisms and been very flexible.

The first trimester is often accompanied by nausea and wildly changed tastes in food and drink. From a guy's perspective, the main *actual* change in your routine is that you can't just whip a steak on the grill and have a beer. Women very often are either NOT interested in meat and beer, or are completely turned off by their odour.

Although this change may sound completely earth-shattering, just keep in mind that your pregnant lady is not only incubating your spawn for the better part of a year, but also has a lot more restrictions on what she can consume compared to you. You can do your part (plus, keep in mind, her sensitivities often improve in the second trimester!).

Other advice:
  1. Help your lady out to ensure that she takes a good quality prenatal vitamin and high-potency fish oil...give her gentle reminders to help her take them regularly. Keep in mind that it is a new routine for her.
  2. Be sensitive to her emotional would also behave differently if you were suddenly given large doses of progesterone and estrogen.
  3. Talk to your babymama's belly (re: your kid), even early on...even if it seems like there isn't anything in there! Aileen didn't show at all for the entire 1st trimester but our ultrasound definitely confirmed that there was a happy, bouncing baby in there. She (and your baby) will both appreciate it.
  4. Always remember that although sometimes we wish we could carry the kid in our belly rather than have to deal with your partner's emotional ups and downs, this is not physiologically possible (besides Arnold in Junior), so let us appreciate our women for their strength and courage in getting through nine months of carrying our future offspring.
Makoto Trotter

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Babymoon in Italy and Spain!!

Makoto and I were in Italy and Spain for the last little while on our BABYMOON! :)  We figure this is the easiest way to travel with a child :P 

Once we found out we were pregnant, one of the first things on our to do list was to plan our babymoon.  Historically, the term "babymoon" referred to the time where you enjoy your newborn baby but it is now often used to describe the vacation many new parents take BEFORE the baby is born to enjoy some time together and rest before the many sleepless nights ahead of them!

We have both always wanted to go to Spain so Barcelona was an easy choice.  It's hard to go to Europe and not visit at least one other beautiful country so we decided on Italy ( I can gorge on nutella (my #1 pregnancy craving) and so Makoto can stuff his face with fresh gnocchi).  We finally decided on Venice, Florence and Barcelona.

A major highlight of our trip was being joined by our good friends Mendel and Haruka in Venice for an international double date :).  They also just became engaged so we had lots to celebrate!!  What a gorgeous and romantic city!  

Makoto and I are both big fans of renaissance art, fresco painting, obsessed with the history of the Medici family and big Brunelleschi and Michaelangelo fans so Florence was an awesome leg of our trip.  We tried to take in as much art and architecture as possible,

We climbed to the top of the Duomo for the amazing views of Florence (Brunelleschi and his team used over 4 million bricks just to finished the top of the he designed and engineered this in the 15th century is pure genius) and lit a candle for our baby.....

We hung out at the Bobali of our fave places in Florence....

Spain was a first for both of us and we just took in as much Gaudi as we possibly could! 

And were able to take a quick day trip to Sitges...highly, HIGHLY recommended!

One day we will go back to Spain and I'll be able to taste every single one of these Spanish wines and cavas but for now, iced herbal teas are my champagne:

We had such a lovely, relaxing and romantic time away :)  We feel refreshed and are now nesting and getting ready for our baby! 

Before you go away for your babymoon, make sure that:
1.  You and your baby are in good health
2.  It's ideal to travel in your 2nd trimester
3.  Make sure there are no breakouts of viruses, such as Rubella, that can harm your baby in the place you want to travel.
4.  Check the location of local hospitals in the area that you will be staying at so you feel secure about having an emergency place to go to juuuuuuuuuuuuust in case.
5.  Take it easy and enjoy yourself!!!


Aileen Lim-Trotter

Monday, May 30, 2011

A Wonderful Blessing!!!

Makoto and I have some amazing news.....we're having a baby!!!!!  YAAAAAAaaaAaAAYYY!!!

We went for our ultrasound today which revealed that our baby is healthy....the best news ever :)  This is a picture of our ultrasound....our baby is sucking it's thumb....or trying to karate chop my womb :)

I've been lucky to have a great pregnancy so far (knock on wood) and we are over the moon with joy!! 

Lot's of pregnancy blogging to come!!  Hope everyone is enjoying this amazing weather!!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Top 5 Reasons to Embark on a Cleanse/Detox

Spring Clean Your Body!
Top 5 Reasons to Embark on a Cleanse/Detox

Spring is a great time to reset your body by introducing healthy habits. As animals, we have a tendency to gravitate toward lighter foods in the warmer months, and a cleanse during this transitional time of year works with our natural inclinations.

But... why should you detox? What benefits are there to doing a cleanse? Isn't this just a passing fad? Here is a quick list of reasons in support of giving your body an opportunity to cleanse.

Top 5 Reasons to Embark on a Cleanse

  1. Support your liver and kidneys - a proper cleanse cooperates with your elimination organs to strengthen their function

  2. Determine food sensitivities - common foods that may be unknown allergens/intolerances can trigger negative reactions; a cleanse works as a "trial" period to see your body functioning at its baseline, with a post-detox "reintro" phase to determine dietary sensitivities

  3. Decrease exposure to toxins - on a cleanse, it is important to be cognisant of the types of foods you are introducing to your body, minimizing toxin intake (organic foods, whole chemical-free foods)

  4. Improve cravings - a structured cleanse gives you an opportunity to commit to stepping back from unhealthy eating habits, and reset your psychological attachments to foods

  5. Feel better! - by feeding your body cleaner fuel, your body will optimize it's function

If you need assistance embarking on a safe cleanse that works to target your specific health concerns, please visit our website for more information.

Happy Spring!!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

A Tip to Help You Sleep Better

Sometimes I watch Rambo while he's sleeping and envy how simple it is for him to fall asleep and have a nice deep slumber...anywhere and anytime. He has never once had a bad night's rest in the past 4 years since we brought him home at 7 weeks old (Rambo just turned 4 on the 15th!). I credit this to good controlled nutrition, regular exercise and, let's face it, the dog has a great life with little to worry about! I'm sure we would all sleep wonderfully if we had the same routine as him!

Another thing I realized is that he is never on the computer. It's a bit scary how much time Makoto and I spend on the computer. We are on it all day long at the clinic then often use our computers at home for other projects, reading our fave blogs, watching UFC youtube vids (Makoto) and watching Korean dramas (me! In my helps me to practice my Korean :):):)).

We also noticed that the days we are on the computer the longest are the days we have bad sleeps. This may be due to the fact that computers emit blue light which tricks our brain into thinking that it's daytime. Consequently, it screws with our melatonin (natural sleep hormone) production so that you don't feel sleepy when you're suppose to. Case in point - have you ever noticed how going on the computer when you have insomnia never really helps you to fall asleep?

Try to stop using your computer several hours before bedtime. Make it a ritual to wind down an hour before you plan to fall asleep with calming activities like reading in bed instead (using a soft light....or even better, a candle since fire emits red light which doesn't affect our melatonin production....and it's romantic), having a warm bath with epsom salts, listening to relaxing music or having pillow talk with your spouse (but no talk about work allowed).

Sweet dreams :)

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

March Madness and NBA Basketball People: A Lesson On Focus

March Madness has kicked off for another year making basketball fans all over the world very happy. 

I am not a basketball fanatic but I sure do love cheering (gooOOOoOOOOO Raptors!!) and will go to games with Makoto when his favorite teams are in town (he is not a Raptors fan).

Over the holidays, our very generous friends treated us to a game and we were lucky to sit courtside.....Makoto was over the moon :)  I have to be honest.....I usually go to watch sports with Makoto so that I can hang out with the other girlfriends/wives/partners who *happily* accompanied their boyfriend/husband/partner to the game.  I love drinking wine and eating nachos while catching up aaaaand being surrounded by excited sports fans :)  But during this particular game, I suddenly became very aware of my munching and crunching, wine sipping and chatter....I felt that I was interrupting the NBA basketball people (what do you call them?  basketballers?  basketball players?).  It was amazing to see them doing what they love to do so up close and personal....lots of sweat.....and it was neat to finally hear what the heck they say to each other during the game....lots of swear words.  Then it dawned on me that these NBA basketball people are super lean focus machines!  They easily tuned out the chatter, crazy music, anti-fans talking smack....and certainly my munching, crunching, sipping and chatter. 

March has been madness for us.  From worrying about beautiful Japan (I am completely inspired but not surprised by the absolute grace and class at how the Japanese people are handling the devastation of the earthquake and tsunami), the clinic being super busy, getting ready to pay our taxes (ugh), seminars, launching Spring/Summer products for Sprout Botanicals, to hosting baby shower/birthday parties.....and why I chose now to plan the re-pointing of the brick on our house is beyond me.  I am starting to feel scattered and definitely need to take a lesson on focus from the NBA basketball people. 

I've re-prioritized, trimmed down my to-do list, put certain projects on hold and have decided to give my undivided attention to the top three items on my list instead of trying to juggle a dozen projects at once.  I feel less overwhelmed and happier to increase the quality of both my work life and home life :)

Spring is finally here :)  It's a great time to de-clutter your life, re-prioritize your to-do list and focus on what's most important to you.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Thoughts and prayers for Japan

It's been one week since the earthquake and tsunami hit Japan. I must admit it has been difficult to focus thinking of all the tragedy, lives lost and destruction that is happening in Eastern Japan.

Aileen and I would like to thank everyone who called/emailed/inquired to ensure that our family in Japan is safe (they are safe, but scared, as massive aftershocks continue on a regular basis).

Please keep Japan in your prayers and thoughts.

P.S. is a trustworthy charity if you wish to also provide financial support to help the rescue and recovery operations.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Tips on Aging Gracefully

My dear wife recently turned thirty, finally joining the 30-something club. She had been looking forward to the momentous birthday for sometime, eagerly looking to turn the big three-oh.

I think most of my friends and colleagues who are well into their 30s or 40s thought it was endearing at how excited she was to step into the beginning of her fourth decade; meanwhile, the rest of us are all starting to sweat a little as we approach our next "big" birthday.

There are definitely physical changes that we notice as we get deeper into our thirties. Strange little cues from our body telling us that it is actually mortal, and, at least physically, we are past our peak.

For the first time, you notice you have to put in more effort to get the same outcome. To run or play sports as hard as you did in your teens and twenties, you have to monitor and tweak your diet, hit the gym regularly and keep an eye on your stress levels to maintain your lung capacity and strength. In your earlier years, a Big Mac meal and an exercise routine that only worked your thumbs on Nintendo would do to keep you running around for hours. Keep in mind that most professional athletes retire in their mid- to late- thirties.

And what is up with hair as we age? Sure, hair loss is well-known as well as a random influx of white hairs; but, in a weird type of second coming of puberty, random hair growth pops up in new places...but all the wrong places! Eyebrows, back, nostrils...ears?? Come on, give us a break.

Of course, we also start to notice the development of fine lines and wrinkles on our face, random new aches and pains, and start keeping count of our daily sodium or fibre or protein or whatever it might be to balance out your genetic predispositions.

Going to the doctor may mean a prescription for your ailments or the start of regularly scheduled and highly undesirable testing method (mammograms, prostate exams, colonoscopies).

The one thing I have noticed from patients in my practice, who teach me something new and inspire me on a daily basis, is how to age gracefully. I can almost guarantee that any patient whose date of birth surprises me incorporates exercise very regularly. The majority of the time this is accompanied by a relatively healthy diet. I use these extraordinary people as models for prevention for others and now, for myself.

Rules to live by as all of us human beings age together in the same speed, but at different paces:

  1. Know your genetic susceptibilities, and take extra precautions to thwart them.
  2. EXERCISE!! This means at age-relative high intensities and activities that are enjoyable to you, at least 3x/week, with other moderate daily exercise in-between.
  3. A diet chock-full of naturally occurring anti-aging whole foods and deplete of pro-inflammatory (re: processed) foods.
  4. Maintain a balanced life, and keep an eye on your stress levels (big-time age-accelerators).
  5. Got a nagging problem...GET IT CHECKED OUT! (yes, guys, I'm talking to you)
  6. Be cautious about settling for prescription medication that may be avoidable by lifestyle/diet modifications (see #2-#4). Once you get on the medication bandwagon, it's difficult to get out. Make sure to talk to your family doc or a licensed naturopath to make a fully informed decision that works for you.
  7. Always keep an eye on your piss and poops...they are great indicators of what is going on inside your body.
  8. Don't forget the basics: Get a good sleep and drink water regularly.
  9. Roll with the punches of Father Time; acceptance of aging and finding humour in it definitely helps ease the inevitable.

Oh, and always keep in mind that although aging may be noticeable in physical decline, boy is it made up for in expanding knowledge and experience.

The ear hairs sure don't make me look forward to getting older, but wisdom certainly is appealing.

Happy Family Day!!


Wednesday, February 9, 2011

It's SooOooo Cold!! Beat the February Blues Now.

Last year, around this time, we were doing this (Tulum, Mayan Riviera, Mexico):

Today, this is what our local dog park looks like (Riverdale Park, Toronto):

Whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!! :(:(  I'm from Calgary, Alberta so I know I should be used to the cold but I'm sooo not!!  When it snows in Calgary, I know this just means that we are going to have an awesome ski weekend in Toronto, this much snow means that everyone will lock themselves at home for the weekend.  So sad.  So sad.

Even though I'm Korean and my very Korean mom, grandma and aunts have brainwashed me into believing that tanning my skin is the equivalent of selling my soul to Satan himself, I still live for basking in the wonderful, glorious rays of direct beautiful sunshine (thank heavens for Sprout Botanicals SPF 30 sunscreen :)).  Makoto and I worship the sun and we are definitely summer people.  So, it's no surprise that we become a taaaaaaaaaaaaaad bit miserable in February. 

This year, I was determined to not get hit by the usual February blues.  Here are some things we did to prevent ourselves from feeling the effects of the dark, cold winter days of our Canadian winters:

1.  Vitamin D - we both take Vitamin D religiously (make sure to see your Naturopath or GP to make sure that you are on a correct dose).  Winter time is a busy time for us at the clinic so that means it's dark outside by the time we get home.  No sunshine for poor Aileen and Makoto :(  When the weather is nice, we go for a coffee break at the park across the street from our office but there is no way I'm even going to pretend to enjoy hanging out in the park when I'm freezing my buns off.  Since we are not getting the usual dose of natural Vitamin D production that we would in the summer, we supplement with a high quality Vitamin D3 supplement.

2.  Bundle up! - It's amazing how you can actually enjoy the winter when you're dressed appropriately.  Invest in a great down jacket, earmuffs, scarf and mitts and get out and enjoy the winter!  We try to go for a walk around Toronto with a yummy warm cappuccino/tea/hot chocolate on the weekends instead of staying holed up in our house and cursing the snow. 

3.  Cut the carbs - try cutting your carb intake by even just 50g per day.  The last thing you need when you're less active and feeling glum is forcing your body to regulate another influx of excess carbs. 

4.  Stay active - I can't stress enough how important it is to get some constant activity all throughout the winter.  We tend to be less active in the winter (hey....I totally understand.....I make Makoto drive us to the office on cold's a 10min walk from our front door to the office :(...SHAME) so that means we have to make an extra effort to get to the gym.  Make sure to incorporate cardio 2-3 times a week to boost your circulation and get your blood pumping. 

5.  Do things that you LOVE - whether it's going for a facial at your favorite spa, taking that language or art class that you've always wanted to or just roasting a yummy chicken and inviting friends over for dinner and gossip......don't let the cold weather interrupt your life!!

I didn't have my annual February breakdown this year (the one where I start packing our belongings...promising that we will forever move to a warm location and never endure another cold, dark and gloomy winter day ever again) and instead embraced this refrigerator that we call Canada, eh!!

Monday, January 31, 2011

Getting in touch with your roots: Our Trip to Japan & Korea

It was amazing to travel back to the motherland with Aileen.

I know for both of us, we feel an affinity with our respective cultures in Japan and Korea, despite having both grown up in Canada. I always notice how passionate Aileen is about her Korean heritage, and having been back to Japan after a hiatus of almost fifteen years, I realize how amazing it feels to be connected back with my roots as well. I was also so excited to share a part of my culture with Aileen (and of course, I knew she would go nuts with the endless shopping in Tokyo!). This made it an important and incredible trip for us both.

The one thing I do notice about the Japanese culture, is that there seems to be a well functioning hybrid of extremes. Japan has always been on the leading edge of advanced technology, but this is fused with culture that is steeped deep with ancient tradition. This is apparent in the core of bustling Tokyo, with endless retail and fluorescent signs...

...Yet, turn a corner and you may find youself at a serene well-preserved and active temple:

You can also notice this in most bathrooms, which often still maintain the custom of changing into bathroom-specific slippers, yet have the most high-tech toilet seats as standard issue (photo: notice the array of buttons and dials on the control panel).

One other thing I learned from being in Japan is that for such a populous place (Tokyo's current population is about 13 million!), there is an unbelievable amount of respect, courtesy and cleanliness. Check out this rack of bikes in busy Shinjuku...notice there aren't any locks (this would be cleaned out in 2 minutes flat in Toronto):

We were helped out with directions countless times (the network of trains and subways in Tokyo is boggling!), and were consistently amazed with how patient and helpful everyone was despite my broken Japanese.

Unfortunately, as Aileen also pointed out, we were surprised with how much of modern Japanese food has become saturated with preservatives and artificial chemicals...which is in great contrast to the health-optimizing traditional Japanese diet.

Just a few of the many other contrasts include the typical stature of Japanese compared to their monstrous athletic brethren in sumo; conservative clothes contrasted with bold, sometimes outlandish streetwear; quiet, respectfulness varied with well-known crazy Japanese gameshows and manga culture.

Reminders we took home from this trip:
  • Get in touch with your heritage, and know your roots
  • Incorporate traditional Japanese foods as part of a healthy diet: miso soup, seafood, seaweed, healthy stews
  • Cold, unsweetened tea is an affordable, refreshing and healthy alternative to juices
  • Always be respectful and helpful to others
  • Be sure to balance a busy worklife with a much-needed vacation!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

We're Baaaaaack! Amazing times at the Shilla Hotel in Seoul and Exploring Tokyo!

Oh my goodness!!  I LOOOOOOOVE KOREA AND JAPAN!!  What a wonderful way to begin 2011 :)

We started our trip in Seoul at our fave hotel, The Shilla.  After working straight through the holidays, we wanted to start our trip with some uber relaxation and there is no better place in Seoul than The Shilla to do this.  It has excellent, EXCELLENT service, an awesome gym, yummy restaurants and an extensive wine list at the lounge, amazing outdoor pool to enjoy in the summer  and THE BEST sauna and Korean Bath amenities EVER (Makoto and I are huge hydrotherapy fans and basically live in the pool/gym/sauna/steam room every time we stay here).  We went out our first night in Seoul to meet up with friends but after that, we spent the next few days relaxing, eating yummy food and visiting our fave spots in Seoul.

Entrance to gym/sauna at The Shilla:

Thank goodness we took the time to decompress because...

TOKYO IS CRAAAAAAAAZY!!  Since it was my first time in Tokyo, Makoto was my wonderful tour guide and we spent the week checking out all the major sites (Shinjuku, Harajuku, Shibuya, Imperial Palace, Tokyo Tower, Roponggi, Tsukiji Fish Market (the best sashimi I've ever had), Ginza, Asakusa, etc) which were insane, beautiful and completely inspiring.  I can't get over how clean and organized such an intense city can be. 

And...of course...THE SHOPPING.  Oh. My. Goodness.  I was in shopping heaven.  I shopped.....

and shopped....

and shopped...

and Makoto was so patient...until he finally had a mini (much understood) freak-out on me and reminded me that we had bought another two pieces of luggage to carry all of my treasures back home in :) hehehe.

We were also so lucky to be there during the Sumo Tournament.  Even if you know nothing about sumo, you quickly become a fan.  They still strictly follow all the interesting rituals and traditions of the game, the rules are easy to follow and you can feel the love that everyone has for the Sumo wrestlers (who are considered national heroes).

Makoto eating Chanko Nabe (Sumo Soup):

Even though we were on holidays, we still tried to keep ourselves as balanced as possible.  We knew we'd be doing a lot of this (how can you resist fresh draught beer and "highballs" which are whiskey/soda/lemon at almost every snack bar/cafe/restaurant/izakaya in both cities):

So we still made sure to hit the gym, drink lots of water/green tea and get lots of good sleep in.  One thing we noticed in both cities is that there is such an extreme in the food.  It's either completely healthy, natural and nutritious if you choose to eat traditional Korean/Japanese (Korean soups/ban chan, Japanese nabe mono/sushi/sashimi, barley/green tea) food or completely synthetic, fried and MSG laden (ramen, curry rice, aspartame in almost everything sweet...especially beverages in Japan).  We definitely gravitated towards more traditionally prepared foods but had fun trying everything!|

Also, one thing we always splurge on whether at home or away are massages.  We were in massage heaven in both Seoul and Tokyo but I must say that Ariran Spa in Shinjuku was AAAAH-mazing!  They incorporate both Swedish and Shiatsu massage techniques and finish every treatment with layering hot towels over your body then wrapping you up in a thermal blanket while they gently knead your muscles.  To. Die. For.

I've been up since the crack of dawn (forgot to take my melatonin last night!!) so I did laundry (5 loads) and am looking through all my souvenirs and pics.  I heart Seoul and Tokyo forever and caaaaaan't wait to go back!!!

Now...time to plan the next trip!!!  Spain?  South of France?
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