Tales of Toronto

I’m back from my whirlwind trip to Toronto! I was in the city for less than 24 hours, so basically slept, had my interview, then rushed to the airport and flew home.

On the way there, I flew through Denver. It always kind of baffles me that Denver doesn’t have better food options. That airport is HUGE! I really wanted a ginormous salad with some tofu or something, but the closest thing was getting a tofu/veggie bowl at Itza Wrap Itza Bowl in Concourse B. This definitely isn’t the best thing ever…the steamed veggies are overcooked and the peanut sauce is just ‘meh,’ but it did in a pinch.

Normally I take my own snacks when I travel (so I can avoid over-priced mediocre food), but I didn’t get a chance to go to the store before leaving. Thems the breaks.

I arrived in Toronto quite late, so I just went to the hotel (Best Western Roehampton) and went to bed. I woke up super early, and hit the hotel gym for a quick workout. Like most hotel gyms, it was basically a hotel room with a few pieces of junky cardio equipment.

The ventilation in this room was non-existent. There was one window that opened, and that was it. After 20 minutes on the elliptical I couldn’t take it anymore and left. It was a short workout, but better than nothing I suppose. And I got to watch Canada AM! I miss that show (don’t judge me)!

The rest of the day was kind of hectic. But I did manage to squeeze in a quick stop at Tim Horton’s to load up on caffeine.

I wasn’t sure what I would find for healthy eats at the Pearson airport since I was in Terminal 3 (which is small and sucks). Things weren’t as dismal as I thought they’d be though, I found this falafel plate with some dried out falafel, oily tabbouleh, and stale pita. You don’t want to know what I had to pay for this ($10!!!).

I arrived back home late last night and now I’m trying to get life back to normal. Between traveling to Santa Cruz for the half marathon and then leaving right away for Toronto, I need a few days to decompress and get caught up on things.


Can vegetables improve atheletic performance?

Dr. Michael Greger recently completed a 17-part video series examining the effect various vegetables have on athletic performance. All of the videos are linked on that page if you would like to check them out.

The conclusion? Nitrate in vegetables can be turned into nitrates and then nitric oxide in our bodies. Studies have found that, on average, increased nitric oxide boosts stamina and allows people to engage in high-intensity exercise up to 20% longer.

If you only want to watch one of the videos, watch this one in which Dr. Greger talks about how athletes can use vegetables (especially dark, leafy greens) to nitrate load.


Bailey et al. (2009)

Staying healthy in times of grief/depression

This is a hard post to write.

We recently had to euthanize my cat. He was quite sick for about two weeks, during which we tried different treatments for his liver disease. Ultimately though his condition got so bad that we knew it was time.

I was devastated.

This cat was my life. Well before my husband ever came along, it was just me and my cat. We’ve moved from city to city together, heck, even to a new country. He was my best friend. My baby.

Saying I was ‘grief-stricken’ doesn’t quite capture it. There is a giant hole in my heart and although I know it will get easier with time, it will never really go away.

One thing I did find that helped was to continue to work out. I did this during his sickness as well. Going for a quick run helped me to think and clear my mind. My first reaction as to lay in bed depressed. That’s a natural reaction and if you need to do that for a bit go right ahead. But I knew I couldn’t continue to do this. I asked myself: “is this going to make me feel better?” I knew the answer was “No.” Laying in bed thinking about my baby was only going to make me more depressed.

Sure, it hurts so bad that sometimes I can’t breathe. And I’m not going to say that working out is going to make you feel better instantly. It won’t. But it might help. It’s well-known that physical activity can help reduce symptoms of depression. Furthermore, sticking to a routine (such as an exercise schedule) as much as possible is known to help in times of grief and loss.

Ultimately nobody can tell you how to grieve. It’s something that you need to do in your own way. But just remember to be kind to yourself. For me, being kind includes healthy behaviors such as regular exercise.




The importance of understanding health information

It just might save your life.

A recent UK study published in the British Medical Journal found that people with low health literacy (i.e., people who have trouble understanding health information) are more likely to die prematurely. The low health literacy group was 75% more likely to die than people with medium or high health literacy. Although this study was restricted to older adults (52 years and older), the findings aren’t that surprising.

I often find it startling just how little most people know about health. Even when faced with life-threatening conditions, a lot of folks will just take the pill the doctor prescribes and that’s it. They don’t research their condition in order to find out what’s going on with their body. Yikes.

I realize I am probably preaching to the choir…chances are you wouldn’t be reading this blog unless you had some sort of interest in health. What have your experiences been like with friends and family? Why do you think people don’t take the time to educate themselves about their health?

You can read a synopsis of the study here. Full study available here.