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Archive for the ‘article’ Category

Finding Balance

Posted on: April 5th, 2018 by Dr. Amanda Sue Cressman

This past season I have found it very difficult to find balance…something that I strive for and value deeply.  I can struggle with the cold weather, particularly if that cold weather makes it difficult to be outside and definitely if it involves a lack of sun.  It’s been a hard and long winter season for a variety of personal reasons too and with that comes thoughts and reflections about behaviours and patterns that I often do throughout the winter season that don’t always do a great job of creating balance.

Solitary Stool
If you’ve spoken with me before, you know I speak about the stool analogy when it comes to balance….the four legged wooden kind of stool, not to be confused with speaking about bowel movements, although that is an important and helpful discussion, as well.  I love this analogy, as many people understand it and often connect well to it. I often say, if you and your well being are the seat of the stool, you are held up by 4 legs – the mental leg, the emotional leg, the physical leg and the spiritual leg. Sometimes we make the stool a tripod, if that last leg is not a match for the individual.  And my job, as a Naturopath is to figure out why the stool is toppling. In this analogy, maybe one stool leg is extra long, making it topple over, or maybe one leg is incredibly short and thin. For some, the mental leg takes the brunt, for others it’s the physical leg. Regardless of what it is, I find it fascinating to see how we all work at doing our best to create balance amongst adversity and stress.

Many people come to see me for physical reasons and as we begin dialog, the focus is on the physical leg of the stool, but as we dive in deeper to the root cause of the problem, we often uncover other legs of the stool to be at the root of the problem.  Let’s use me for an example. In previous years I have created a wonderful habit of running almost each morning. I wake up early and run with my dog to clear my head, feel nature and get some physical exercise. I work at eating a clean diet…clean meaning no gluten and dairy for me with my specific health concerns and limiting sweets, even fruit as I love sweet food, but can struggle with insulin regulation.  Everything in my world feels and works better if I maintain exercise and clean eating. I physically feel great, emotionally am more stable and mentally am sharp….I love this place, as it’s me feeling something I adore, balance. But, at the end of January someone very close to me passed away when I had a few other stressful things happening at the same time, it felt like the emotional leg of the stool got yanked out from under me and I was flustering to achieve balance in the other legs.  The mental, spiritual and physical legs of the stool were doing their best to compensate to ensure I stayed upright but life changed. I stopped running as I didn’t have time/ability to do so daily, my clean eating went out the window as I physically couldn’t grocery shop easily or have energy to food prep and I started getting into old patterns of behaviour to compensate for my heart feeling broken.

As a culture, we are notorious for avoiding being present with difficult situations/pain.  We distract and numb ourselves through television, food, social media, etc. and all the while our emotional leg of the stool is not actually being nurtured while the other legs of the stool are suffering, desperately working at creating balance for the whole.  These distractions and changes in behaviour can have a time and a place, but the tricky thing is catching when the compensation becomes a pattern and then a habit. For me, this past winter, I started watching tv shows at night – positive, lovely shows but it was distraction from feeling what was real for me.  I stopped journaling regularly, as it was hard to be real with the hurt and I started baking often as this is a comfort for me. Even if my baking choices are raw vegan desserts and technically “healthy”, they are still desserts and connecting to a pattern I developed as a child, that when I was sad, food would numb the hurt.

The body is an amazing thing, always striving for balance or homeostasis, a medical term for essentially the same thing. I see many people in my practice where the physical leg of the stool is in rough shape – but if that’s happening for you, consider thinking about the stool analogy and what events got you to where you are today.  Yes, that physical leg of the stool will need care and support but as that leg gets stronger, the other legs can be nurtured and are often the real reason we are off balance in the first place.

For me, I know the warmth and sun of next week will help.  I have supported my adrenals the past few weeks which have helped give energy and motivation to consider cleaning up my diet and food patterns.  I have good supports that I have used to help sort out the past events and I have once again, run daily. My runs are slow and not super long, my diet could be even cleaner with better prep work, but I’m feeling more balanced and stronger again with an improved inner resilience.

This past season has been hard for many and this culture we live in, particularly, the culture of Kitchener-Waterloo is unbalanced.  We are driven, busy and stressed out people. See which leg of the stool in this analog needs nurturing for yourself and seek out that balance.  Whether it’s doing more social events, improving your physical exercise regime, taking up a creative hobby, clean eating, meditating, having alone time…work at creating the specific balance you need.  The journey is much easier when the stool is not toppling.

Hoping that you are able to feel supported and balanced into the coming season.

 Amanda Cressman, N.D.

Meal Plans to Help Make your Life Easier

Posted on: August 21st, 2017 by Dr. Amanda Sue Cressman

Do you find it intimidating or overwhelming to prepare healthy foods for yourself or your family?  This is a common reasons why most people struggle with clean eating.  We all know the basics of eating better – lots of vegetables, added fruits, healthy proteins and clean carbohydrates work for many but it’s hard to actually do this on a consistent basis.

Diet meal with friends

Many people’s lives are full…full of many things and eating healthy foods generally falls off the priority list or is forgotten.  By the end of a busy day/week, it’s hard to make good decisions that are in alignment with how we wish to be eating.  Check out this article on Decision Fatigue by The Harvard Business Review.  Do you ever find yourself eating well and clean for the first part of your day but by the end are eating foods you wish you hadn’t?  We make dozens, some studies report hundreds of food-related decisions throughout our day and after deciding many things throughout the course of a day, we are tired and start making easier decisions which usually results in poorer choices for our health.  I know for myself, I have ideals of eating healthy foods but sometimes the inspiration falls short and I’m eating the same thing over and over or eating rice crackers and hummus at the end of a long day which although is an ok food, not a match for my constitution which does better on vegetables and a light protein.

So, we have begun a new program to help you eat clean and take away the work of deciding what to eat and when.  We are now developing Healthy Meal Plans to suit your specific dietary needs.  Weekly or Monthly recipe plans are put together for your specific needs.  Foods can be avoided specific to your needs and menus can be created specifically for your health goals (example: dairy-free, gluten-free, vegetarian, vegan, paleo, FODMAP, Anti-inflammatory, PCOS, Thyroid, Autoimmune, etc).

What’s included:

-a detailed shopping list is given for your plan

-a to-do list for the week of prepping food

-all the recipes

-micro and macronutrient breakdown

-caloric breakdown

And…we can make it for whatever serving size you want.  If you have a family of 5 we can ensure all recipes are specific for your 5 people or for one person. Prepping your week/month is incredibly easy as we do the work for you.

We started this program a month ago as many people were sharing their desire to eat well but that more support was needed to stay interested and consistent.  We hope this is the solution to help.  Pricing is located on our Meal Plan page and ask your Naturopathic Doctor: Dr. Cressman, N.D. or Dr. Reidl, N.D. if you have any other questions.

Attached is a sample 3-day eating plan to let you know what a plan would potentially look like.  sample-diet

This helps make eating delicious, healthy foods easier.

 

Stop Staring, it’s starting to get weird

Posted on: April 24th, 2017 by Dr. Amanda Sue Cressman

I recently saw this quote written by a friend and it made me laugh out loud.  I love laughing out loud…it doesn’t happen that often but when it does, I take notice.

By the way, your past called to say, stop staring, it’s starting to get weird.”

Dr. Rajesh Ragbir, N.D.

If my past could talk she’d definitely yell this out with a few other words as a reminder to move on, to stop being stuck.  It’s so easy to get stuck though, to stop and stare.  Part of the staring can be helpful – to reflect, to learn and understand how to change outcomes in the future, but so much of the staring is the opposite of helpful.  Why I love this quote so much is the friendly and humour-filled reminder points out that the staring is weird.  Just like if you caught someone staring at you for long periods of time, it’s weird.  You can’t do anything about it, so stop staring, stop ruminating, stop beating yourself up over a moment that is done.

So much about getting better on all levels of our being, whether that be the emotional, the mental or the physical is about moving on…not being stuck.  Yes, reflection is important and necessary at times, but the staring…not so much.  What a fun and playful reminder Dr. Ragbir, N.D. gave us with these words.  I hope if you catch yourself staring at the past, that you’ll gently remind yourself to stop and maybe in that moment, you’ll stare around at the now where real change can take place and where you can actually do something about it.

Dr. Amanda Cressman, N.D.

Self-Preservation

Posted on: December 27th, 2016 by Dr. Amanda Sue Cressman

I recently came across this quote by Audre Lorde and immediately took to it, so I made it into a picture.  I thought it would be helpful to share, especially for the beginning of New Year.

audre

Even though New Years Resolutions are often focused on ourselves – striving for betterment in areas we feel we could improve or grow, the actual focus on ourself is often what trips us up in succeeding with the goal.

Taking time for ourselves is tricky and often associated with being selfish.  It’s funny how we do that, entangling caring for self with selfishness but the two don’t need to be mutually exclusive.

Audre Lorde shifts our discomfort with caring or focusing on self away from self-indulgence into something that we can all appreciate, understand and respect…self-preservation.

When we fill ourselves up with the things, people or situations that genuinely fill us up, we can do marvellous things.  This year I made a commitment to running…most mornings I wake up early and run before my day gets going which is already pretty early.  But, if I don’t, I will have missed the opportunity to do so and lose out on the feeling I get from clearing my head, getting a work out in and some time for me with nature (something that absolutely preserves my happiness).

This coming year, I’m finding I need more to fill my tank with the busyness of life.  Journaling and meditation are what I’ve determined I am missing but both take time and dedication.  But instead of it feeling like another item on my check list that needs attention, I will take Audre’s words to heart and remember that taking the time to do this will help protect me from burn out, irritability and sadness.

This New Years, consider focusing on what will preserve you the best for your resolution.  What activities, places, people or things do you need more of to ensure your tank is feeling full and supported instead of depleted and unhappy.  Shift the focus away from selfishness or self-indulgence to self-preservation.  The mental leap will feel a lot better and will motivate the change you need to feel the best you can.

Wishing you a bright and happy New Year.

Dr. Amanda Cressman, N.D.

Need Help Eating More Veggies? Spiralize!

Posted on: June 19th, 2016 by Dr. Amanda Sue Cressman

Have you been in a slump with finding new and exciting ways of eating more veggies?  I can fall into a pattern of eating the same vegetables, prepared in the same way and it can get boring.  I was recently given a spiralizer and have had a lot of fun discovering new ways to enjoy more vegetables.  For some reason creating noodle like cuts of vegetables makes them more exciting and fun to eat.  And not just for my kids…it seems to work that way for everyone.  We all love playing with the long noodle-like carrot/beet/cucumber/zucchini cuts of vegetables.

If you want to learn more about spiralizing, check out this website, Inspiralized with information about what vegetables to spiralize and cooking techniques.

And I’d like to share a great recipe that tastes fantastic and will help increase your vegetable intake while decreasing your grain consumption.  It’s fantastic and comes from Eat Yourself Skinny.   See what you think and let me know if it was a hit in your home too.

IMG_0662 IMG_0663 IMG_0666 IMG_0669

By: Amanda Cressman, ND. Naturopathic Doctor.

 

Not Wanting This

Posted on: May 5th, 2016 by Dr. Amanda Sue Cressman

A friend recently sent me a wonderful article written by Elizabeth Gilbert on her facebook page, called, Not This.

Have you ever had a moment where you know deep down, that your current reality is not in alignment with where you want to be?  That even though it may not make sense to anyone else that something in you is asking for a more authentic experience?  This article is a great reminder of having the courage to ask, to explore what we want and need.  Whether it’s with the health of our bodies, our relationships with others, our career, our hobbies, our interests or goals… having courage to question this gives clarity for what we do want and need.  And that is a wonderful place to be because when we are in this space, change can happen.   See what you think of the article and if you’re wanting to change something that you believe either Naturopathic Medicine, Acupuncture, Massage or Reflexology can help…we are here.

Enjoy!

Not This

by: Dr. Amanda Cressman, N.D. Naturopathic Doctor

A Delicious Green Smoothie

Posted on: April 29th, 2016 by Dr. Amanda Sue Cressman

I have been on the hunt for a delicious green smoothie.  And, they are actually a bit hard to find.  I have made some weird concoctions with all types of vegetables (cabbage included) that have promised to be delicious but weren’t.  But I finally found one.

A patient introduced me to The Minimalist Baker.   She has delicious recipes with 10 or less ingredients and this Creamy Pineapple Cucumber Smoothie was a great find.

IMG_3483

So, why are green smoothies great?

  • They are nutritious with offering vegetables alongside their fruit counterparts.  Most green smoothies have about a 60/40 ratio of fruit/vegetables but if you’re comfortable you can aim for 50/50.  Some smoothies can rack up calories and sugar with only having fruit in them.
  • You have a more nutritionally dense smoothie that offers more vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.
  • The alkalinizing benefit of the greens.  The body is always striving for balance, including its pH.  The Standard American/Canadian Diet is very acidic in nature (meat, animal products, processed foods, sugar).  A green smoothie is very alkaline, offering a better balance to your pH.
  • They are easier to digest due to being pulverized and blended.  Some people can’t digest raw greens well but in a smoothie, you can consume your raw greens, enjoying the benefit of their nutrition without compromising a bloated tummy with gas.
  • Great for your bowels.  Liquid food is notorious for helping with constipation and adding greens accentuates this.  The added fiber and water content of the greens helps keep you hydrated and ensures your bowel movements are easier to pass.
  • Who should avoid green smoothies?  If you have a history of kidney stones, particularly oxalate stones, talk to your healthcare provider before consuming too many of these.

It’s not too difficult to add spinach or kale to a smoothie without altering the flavour.  Try this recipe and see if green smoothies are something you’d want to incorporate into your diet.  This one is so delicious, you’ll forget how healthy it is.

*This website is for information purposes only and is not a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.

Expectations

Posted on: January 9th, 2016 by Dr. Amanda Sue Cressman

The holiday season is a time of year where expectations run high. We’re told where to go, how long to stay, what to do, what to eat, what to buy and sometimes even, how much to spend. Now, of course they can also be filled with wonderful moments and experiences but that’s not what this blog post is about. This post is about dealing with the expectations from others and from ourselves. We are past the holiday season, but the expectations don’t go away…especially those from ourselves and they are the cause of great frustration and stress for some. So, how do we work with them?

I had a very different holiday season this year, as I kept a mantra in mind. It came from Brene Brown and it really helped.   A few weeks ago on her facebook page she wrote, “Choose discomfort over resentment.”

I’ll write it again, “Choose discomfort over resentment”

I liked it immediately but knew it would be hard. I have been very good at ensuring others are not uncomfortable while at times I can be overstressed, overtaxed and inevitably become resentful for overextending myself. This past season, I kept Brene’s mantra in mind and created a holiday season that worked for me.

So, I said no…a few times to a few different people. I said no to others and yes to myself. It was hard but I feel so much better with no uncomfortable resentment lurking inside.

Boundaries are one of the biggest things I talk to about with my patients. Whether we’re dialoging about boundaries with family, coworkers, children, etc. When people breach our boundaries we feel the effects and what can start, as annoyance and frustration can then become bigger issues that can affect our health. This is where I see people with anxiousness, panic attacks, long standing resentments, feeling overwhelmed and exhausted, etc.

This year consider using Brene’s mantra. If you haven’t put your needs first in awhile, it may be difficult, even incredibly uncomfortable, but consider it. Choosing discomfort over resentment doesn’t mean others will necessarily be uncomfortable, it just means you’re choosing to do what genuinely feels right. And when we do things authentically, I believe we all win. See what you think.

Dr. Amanda Cressman, Naturopathic Doctor

Indian Head Massage – Special Offer

Posted on: October 16th, 2015 by Dr. Amanda Sue Cressman

Hi Kitchener Waterloo and surrounding area. I am Dale Wombwell RRPr, Reflexology Practitioner and Teacher, Reiki Master and Indian Head Massage Practitioner at TouchStone Health Clinic. I have had the privilege of serving the KW area for the past Five years at TouchStone. It has been a joy and growing experience for me. I have been doing Reflexology for over thirteen years, Reiki for over nine years but it is Indian Head Massage that I introduced at Touchstone three years ago that I would like to tell you about today. Indian Head Massage it an ancient art that involves massage of the head, and in the technique I learned also massage of the neck and back. It can be done with oils but at the clinic I do not use those. The stimulation of the scalp and other areas get into the parasympathetic nervous system and help the body to go into a very relaxed state. In this relaxed state that allows your body to do some rest and repair. The IHM can be done sitting or lying but at TouchStone I will have you lie on the massage bed so that you can get the maximum relaxation out of the session. To celebrate Five Years at Touchstone I am offering a 50% off discount for Indian Head Massage to new and existing clients from KW and surrounding areas – but – ONLY until December 31, 2015. Thank you for all your support and encouragement over the past five years.

Take care and Stay Healthy

Dale Wombwell RRPr

Getting to Joy Through Sadness  

Posted on: August 24th, 2015 by Dr. Amanda Sue Cressman

This may seem like a funny title or topic to write about it, but it is one very dear to me. I had written an article awhile back about my Journey with Colic…about my experience with my newborn babe who wouldn’t respond to treatment for her “colic”. She cried the majority of the time (12-18 hours/day) for the first 3-4 months of her life. It was humbling to say the least, as I couldn’t make her better. And what followed these 4 months was not what I anticipated. Once the crying stopped and we discovered we had a wonderful, happy little girl…I got sad…real sad and soon realized that I had post partum depression. I have been reluctant to write about this, as I wouldn’t consider myself completely over it, but I watched a movie that convinced me that it was time to share about my experience.

I used to love movies…I adored them. I enjoyed sitting down and watching the beautiful scenery of somewhere far away, listening to a fantastic music score created specifically for it and appreciating the wonderful acting the supported a story line worth telling. This was when I was younger and since then, I have rarely enjoyed a movie. I guess I’m searching for something that inspires me, encourages me to think about things differently or to be better. But…I got this all back last week when I watched, Inside Out. I was told to watch this film by someone I respect and I was so grateful she did so, as I would not have normally decided to watch a cartoon. Watching Inside Out reminded me of something I forgot in these past few months…sometimes you can’t jump over or crawl under an uncomfortable emotion you are experiencing. Sometimes the only way to get to the other side is to go through it and that has been the best advice with my postpartum depression.

For those of you who haven’t watched, Inside Out, I won’t give it away but simply put, it’s about a young girl growing up and follows her emotions that are trying to guide her through a difficult time. What is most surprising is the focus on all emotions – whether that be joy, sadness, fear, anger, etc…the film helps us understand that all have a place…including sadness.

We often hear we should fake it until we make it. To not focus on anything negative, so as to not attract it…but sometimes that does the opposite of what we hope. By avoiding the uncomfortable or bad thoughts, we aren’t being real with what is and we can’t find the proper support/help.

So – how does this Pixar film relate to my Postpartum Depression? Well, after I found myself crying watching this film until there were literally no tears left to cry, I realized that I had been fighting something that just was. I desperately wanted to be happy, to be joyful, to savour up each and every moment I had with my girls, but sometimes, the Joy was lacking…sometimes it felt like Joy had left all together. The more I pretended or hoped it wasn’t there, the more I felt it. I was Sad. My short maternity leave was everything I didn’t expect it or want it to be – with a crying babe, surprising life stressors and a horribly cold winter that kept me inside. My time with my baby was hard and the truth was, most people didn’t want to hear about that when I tried to share. We live in a culture where the expected answer to “How are you doing?” is, fine, good, great or wonderful. But how often do we feel that? Sometimes we feel rotten, upset, hurt, sad, used up or even angry.

As a Naturopathic Doctor, there is pressure to have it all figured out, to be healthy, fit, optimistic and on it. I was none of those things and the harder I tried to get there the less I experienced them. Inside Out reminded me in a gentle but beautiful way, that sometimes the only way to get to Joy is to allow Sadness in. In doing so, you acknowledge whatever you’re going through instead of pushing it away. Once I did this, I could better support my post partum depression. I could be real with it and find the proper support that I needed to get myself back.

Since then, I’ve had more glimpses of Joy and anticipate that it will continue to grow, as I get myself back.

Sometimes the only way to get to the other side of a difficult situation is to go through it and we are fortunate to live in a time where there are so many options of support to help us get there.

If you are needing support, finding your way to Joy, I’d love to help.

Dr. Amanda Cressman, ND

564-572 Weber Street North, Unit 3A
Waterloo, Ontario
N2L5C6