Tag Archives: health

Science vs Vegans


One of my favourite podcasts just did an episode on veganism, and its great. Science Vs tackled three questions:

  • Is going vegan better for the environment?
  • Do you need milk for strong bones?
  • If you don’t eat any meat at all, is it bad for you?

Listen here or wherever you get podcasts.

And if you liked that episode, check out:

Note: While the vegan episode shows that the science is firmly behind the diet, the same can’t be said for the other episodes above (sorry keto, detoxes, supplements, and even organic food). You might find your beliefs and lifestyle choices refuted by the science. That’s ok. Listen with an open mind, and challenge your own preconceived notions. Committing yourself to constantly learning and improving is probably the healthiest diet.

Astrid: Asthma Baby

BC Children's Hospital Emergency

January was a rough month. Astrid got the flu, had a high fever twice, saw numerous doctors, got a black eye when she fell in the tub, and spent far too much time at the hospital.

We ended up in the emergency room at BC Children’s again on January 10th. It was our second visit for Astrid’s wheezing. The good news was that she responded really well to the puffers and we learned a lot from the doctors. The bad news was that she officially has asthma. We were out of the hospital in 5 hours with a referral to see a paediatrician who specializes in asthma.

Hospital Monitor

A week later, the doctor reassured us that most young children with asthma grow out of it. She prescribed a new puffer, a corticosteroid called Alvesco, that’s supposed to reduce the inflammation in her lungs and prevent future trips to the hospital. And we were told to come back in April when cold season is over. Unfortunately we ended up back at emergency on January 26th. This time we stayed overnight. We’re pretty used to the drill by now (The Asthma Protocol); the nurses just hook her up the monitor, hand us the puffers, and leave. Hopefully the Alvesco just didn’t have long enough to kick in (it’s supposed to be slow-acting). As good as the treatment is at BC Children’s Hospital, we don’t want to be back anytime soon.

Baba Story Time
In between hospital visits we had two great weekends with Baba. She and Astrid had a lot of fun together. You can read her blog post about the visit and her time in Kamloops.

Hike with Grandmas
While Baba was here we thought it would be nice to go for a snowshoe in the mountains. We planned to do Bowen Island Lookout Trail on Cypress Mountain. On the drive up we kept on waiting for the rain to turn into snow. But all we got at the top was a frigid wet sleet coming down at a diagonal. Not the best conditions for a frolic in the woods with a toddler and two grandmas. Luckily it was dry and periodically sunny at Lighthouse Park so we still got a little hike and picnic lunch.

Reading on her own

Astrid continues to learn new skills, expand her communication, and charm the pants off everyone she meets. She knows her body parts (toes, head, nose, ears) and a couple of animal sounds. She’s really into putting things where they belong – helping us put away our shoes, cleaning up blocks, disposing of trash in the garbage can. One of her favourite games is to see how many of her sweaters and jackets she can wear at once. She just keeps on bringing you new layers to put on her. Once she can’t move anymore she starts bringing your jackets.

More pictures

Whole Life Fitness Manifesto

wlfm

Going to the gym hasn’t been part of my life since I was in university, which depressingly is over a decade ago now. I’ve managed to stay in shape with regular running and cycling to work (not buying a car was the best health decision I’ve ever made). This has kept me from getting fat (the plant-based diet helps too) and given me a strong cardiovascular system, but I know I would benefit from a more well rounded fitness routine.

Having a baby has definitely made working out harder (I have less time and energy now) but it’s also exposed my weaknesses. It only took a few days of bouncing a newborn baby to get a sore back and wish I had a stronger upper body. And she’s only gotten heavier since then.

The solution – the Whole Life Fitness Manifesto Challenge. A co-worker invited me to join a few months ago and I’ve now gone through two of the 28-day fitness challenges. It’s definitely helped me get stronger and I’ve been really happy with the results.

How it works:

  • Sign up at www.JoinWLFM.com (it’s free and the next 28-day phase starts on Monday, October 17th)
  • Receive daily emails from Coach Moose
  • Everyday there’s a 15-minute workout, plus 10 minutes of personal development and 5 minutes of meditation
  • The workouts don’t require a gym or any equipment
  • A typical workout: for 15 minutes do as many reps as you can of:
    • 5 push-ups
    • 10 sit-ups
    • 15 squats
  • There’s also a lot of lunges, plank, and burpees
  • After each workout, you’re encouraged to post in the Facebook group for extra accountability and motivation
  • There’s also tips on healthy eating (drinking a lot of water and eating more greens)

The program is very similar to crossfit. The intensity of the workouts is whatever you make it. If you’re feeling good, you can really push yourself. If you’re having a low energy day because the baby didn’t sleep last night, you can take it easy.

Looking back over my tracking sheets for the past 2 phases, I did 75% of the daily workouts (I missed a bunch while travelling) but rarely did meditation and focussed personal development. I think over the next phase, I’m going to intentionally skip some of the workouts and do some longer, harder runs instead.

Workout

New Parent Adventures: Baby Eczema

Eczema

Astrid was born with sensitive skin. Something she unfortunately inherited from her parents. We both have to deal with eczema. Mine was particularly bad as a child, when my parents would slather my legs in creams, wrap them with rags (mummy style), and put socks over my hands before I went to bed top stop me from scratching my legs until they bled. As an adult, my skin is very dry but it’s manageable with moisturizers and by avoiding eczema triggers.

Eczema

While we were travelling, Astrid’s eczema really exploded. The heat in Ontario and a bunch of other environmental triggers caused the small patches of eczema on her legs to get much worse and spread to her stomach and chest.She never really complained or itched, but that might because she doesn’t have the motor skills to scratch yet.

Our number one priority when we got back to Vancouver was to get her eczema under control. Here’s what we did:

  • washed all her clothes with scent-free laundry detergent
  • started moisturizing her skin twice a day with homemade lotion (made from shea butter, cocoa butter, coconut oil, and olive oil) and Aveeno Baby Eczema Care
  • Emily avoided eating soy, eggs, and dairy (which irritate my skin)
  • gave Astrid oatmeal baths twice a week

After two weeks, her skin isn’t perfect but the eczema is now under control.

Better Skin

Recovering from Health Problems

Ankle Sprain
June was a rough month. The parasite I picked up in India really did a number on my body. It took 10 days of strong antibiotics to get rid of it, and the drugs left my digestive system a mess. I also suffered a rash of other health problems, likely related to the weakened state of my body.

  • Anemia – very slow to recover, even with iron pills.
  • Weight Loss – lost 10 lbs and it’s not easy to gain back on a vegan diet.
  • Grade 3 Ankle Sprain – foolishly blew out my ankle playing ultimate frisbee.
  • Leg Cramps – often at night. Still happening infrequently and unexplained.
  • Hemorrhoids – and other problems with veins.

All in all, I visited a doctor 6 times, went to the hospital emergency room once, had 3 lab visits for blood tests and stool samples, and saw a physiotherapist for my ankle sprain. I’ve gained a new appreciation for our medical system’s strengths and weaknesses, and a realization that I’m getting old and my body isn’t as quick to recover as it once was.

Thankfully, I’m feeling better now. I’m taking extra-strength iron pills and probiotics daily, and I can feel myself getting stronger every day. My ankle is almost healed, and I’m itching to start running again.

My revelations about our medical system:
Free Medicare is Amazing
Although it was frustrating dealing with sickness and multiple health problems, I was treated well by our medical system. Amazingly, every visit to see a doctor was free. The only out of pocket expenses I had were for drugs and the physiotherapist, and most of that was covered by my insurance plan at work. It was stressful enough dealing with illness that I’m glad I didn’t have to worry about the financial cost as well.

Doctors Treat Symptoms
The most noticeable flaw in our healthcare system I saw was that the doctors were too busy to really consider my holistic health. I had a number of symptoms that I felt were linked, but the doctors just wanted to diagnose a single problem, run some tests, and prescribe medication.

Give me More Data
Samsun S Health AppI love data. At work we collect thousands of statistics every minute on the health of our servers and applications. It’s all available real-time with historical charts for comparison. I want that for my body. If I had been tracking my own vitamin levels, I would have detected the low iron before the parasite wrecked havoc on my body. Doctors order tests when they’re looking for a problem, but not when you’re healthy so there is no baseline to compare to or early detection of problems. BC has a great system for getting lab results quickly to patients (myehealth.ca) but you still need a doctor to order the tests. Cellphone apps are starting to collect health data, but what’s available now is trivial – heart rate, step counters, and the ability to manually enter data like your weight. What I’m looking for is an at-home blood test that can track blood cell counts, hormones, and vitamin levels. Once that data is available at the touch of a button, it will revolutionize our health care system.

The Unwanted Indian Souvenir

Man Eating Beaver
I’ve been feeling fatigued, gassy, and generally shitty for the past 2 weeks. I went and saw a doctor on Tuesday and had blood and stool samples taken. The results are in – I’m anemic and I have Giardia Lamblia (aka Beaver Fever) and Blastocystis parasites living in my lower intestine. Probably one last gift from India.

I’m looking forward to getting it treated and healthy again. My iron levels are 9 µg/L (normal level are from 100-300). I haven’t been able to run or play ultimate frisbee for the past 2 weeks. Even my short 3 km bike ride to work has been a struggle.

I’m been prescribed Metronidazole antibiotics for the next 10 days. Hopefully that clears everything up.

Marathon Training – Week 3

Coopers Park and the Seawall
All this running is tiring me out. I think I overdid it this week with 6 workouts, including 5 km in my Vibrams on Friday – my calves have been really sore and tight since. This week I’ve been focusing on posture and form, so I thought a barefoot run would help my technique, but I should have kept it shorter.

Day Distance (km) Workout Time Pace /km
Sunday 14.9 Long 1:17:45 5:14 map
Monday Off
Tuesday 5.3
(1.5)
Speed
(warmup)
0:22:58
(0:08:03)
4:20
(5:52)
map
(map)
Wednesday 10.4 Steady 0:56:28 4:57 map
Thursday 5.3 Tempo 0:24:26 4:35 map
Friday 5.4 Barefoot 0:23:42 4:20 map
Saturday 9.3 Steady 0:46:03 4:55 map
Running Total 56.1 4:37:52 4:57

Strava RunI’ve been uploading my runs to Strava, a cool running/cycling app for tracking workouts. I like the basic analysis it does – pace calculation, splits, elevation and speed charts. There’s also gamification to keep you motivated, like achievements for personal bests and leaderboards for common running routes.

3 week downs, 14 more to go. Last weeks results are here.