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Health & Fitness

11 Health Benefits of Coconut Water

Coconut oil has become all the rage these days. There are so many benefits and uses for this natural oil, some of which I will cover in a future post. Today I’m going to focus on another wonderful nectar that this delicious fruit provides: Coconut Water!

I first discovered coconut water while traveling in Bali a few of years ago, and then I rediscovered it in Costa Rica last fall. Toward the end of my trip, I would hunt down “Señor Coconut” on the beach to indulge in this delicious nectar on a daily basis. My favourite time to drink it would be after my morning beach workout as a reward for my hard work.

What I didn’t know then was that coconut water has many benefits beyond its refreshing deliciousness!

Fresh Bali Coconut

My very first fresh coconut in Bali. This man climbed the tree to pick it for me, lobbed the top off and handed it to me with a straw. So delicious!

11 Health Benefits of Coconut Water

  1. Hydration – Coconut water is rich in potassium and natural sugars that your body needs to rehydrate after rigorous exercise.  Sport drinks only carry half the amount of potassium and twice the amount of sugar compared to coconut water. So stop buying sport drinks and try this natural and more effective (and healthier!) alternative.
  2. Energy Booster – Rich in essential nutrients, coconut water makes a wonderful energy drink. Coconut water has less sugar and sodium content than energy drinks, and a high content of calcium, magnesium, phosphorous, and potassium which helps hydrate and rejuvenate the body.
  3. Hangover Remedy – Thanks to it’s hydration properties, coconut water is a great remedy if you had one too many the night before. It also helps settle your stomach and replaces essential electrolytes for those extra rough hangovers that result in vomiting and dehydration. So before you reach for that caesar or redeye, give your body a break and start with a glass of coconut water!
    Me and My Coconut
  4. Muscle Cramps – You know how they say you should eat bananas to avoid cramps? Well if you’re not a banana fan, this is a perfect alternative. The high potassium content in coconut water helps to reduce muscle cramps caused by potassium deficiency.
  5. Weight Loss – Regular consumption of coconut water increases the metabolism rate which helps burn sugar much faster. As a result, the level of insulin in the body burns faster, causing more energy and fat burning. It also helps you feel full and reduces cravings.
  6. Stronger Bones – Coconut water is high in calcium, which we all need for stronger, healthier bones, muscles and tissue.
  7. Regulates Blood Pressure – It helps improve blood circulation, lowers blood pressure and reduces the chances of a heart attack or other cardio problems. Drink up!
  8. Skin Benefits – If you have problem skin, or you simply want to retain your skin’s youthfulness (who doesn’t?), apply coconut water on your face and leave it on overnight. Coconut water has shown to be effective against acne and acts as a toner for the skin. It also moisturizes your skin from within if you drink it regularly.
  9. Hair Conditioner – You know all those hair products that contain coconut oils and extracts? Well it’s not just to make it smell nice! It actually conditions the hair from within by penetrating the hair shaft. You can get these benefits by either consuming coconut water, or by washing your hair with it. It also promotes hair growth by protecting the scalp against dandruff, lice and itchy scalp, all of which can impede hair growth. And an added bonus: it gives your hair a beautiful healthy shine!
    coconut palm tree
  10. During Pregnancy – Doctors often recommend coconut water during pregnancy to help fight constipation, heart burn and slow digestion.  It helps to improve immunity and boosts the levels of amniotic fluid and improves the overall health of the foetus (and the mother).
  11. All Natural – The BEST part about coconut water is that it’s ALL NATURAL! There are no added artificial sugars, preservatives, colouring or other chemical ingredients that you want to avoid.

This is just a short list of the many benefits of this delicious natural nectar. Do your body a favour and try some coconut water today! You can drink it straight up or add it to a shake or smoothie. However you decide to ingest it, get it in ya!

Where to Buy Coconut Water

If you’re lucky enough to be living your dream (and mine) in the tropics, you will likely find a plethora of fresh coconut vendors around. If you are living your dream in a cooler, non-tropical place, bottled coconut water is available in most grocery stores and you can even have it delivered to your door by ordering online from Amazon. Many yoga studios stock it because of its health benefits and some gyms do as well. You may never have noticed it before, but it’s everywhere. Drink Up and Enjoy!

Do you drink coconut water? What benefits are you seeing? Please share in the comments below.

 

12 Natural Headache Remedies

I used to get really bad migraines. I remember the first time it happened. I was in the library doing research for a high-school paper when suddenly my hands went numb, I lost vision in one of my eyes and I completely forgot how to read. I saw the letters on the page but they made absolutely no sense. It freaked me right out! I went to the doctor and he told me that these were migraine symptoms. I was about 14 years old.

I don’t get migraines as often anymore, maybe twice a year, but I do still suffer from regular headaches. In fact, I’ve had one for the past 2 days now and I’m constantly looking for new things to try because I don’t like taking pills.

These are some of the things I’ve tried over the years and I’ve had some success with:

  1. Drink more water – Often headaches are a sign of dehydration. Make sure you drink enough water (at least 2 litres per dar) to avoid unnecessary headaches.
  2. Eat something – Your headache may be due to low blood sugar and simply eating some food may give you relief.
  3. Drink a cup of coffee – Coffee constricts the blood-vessel. I’m not a big coffee drinker (maybe a few cups per week), so this usually works well for me. I’ll drink a strong cup of black coffee and usually by the time I’m halfway down the cup, I’ll feel some relief. If you already drink a lot of coffee, it may not be as effective and it may actually make things worse with a caffeine headache.
  4. Acupuncture For HeadachesMassage Your Hand – Massage the meaty part of your hand between the thumb and forefinger. There are pressure points in this area that have been linked to headaches and headache relief. Massage with medium to hard pressure for several minutes and then switch hands.
  5. Acupuncture – Thin needles are inserted under the skin to realign the flow of energy, or qi, in the body. I have walked into an acupuncture treatment with a nasty headache and walked out with almost complete relief. Treatments can run anywhere from $60-$120, and may be covered by some extended benefit plans. I can recommend an amazing acupuncturist in Vancouver, feel free to contact me for his info.
  6.  Massage – Rub your temples, shoulders and neck to relieve tense muscles and get the blood flowing. If this doesn’t relieve the headache, it still feels nice!
  7. Yoga – The combination of stretching, meditation and breathing can help relieve your headache. I do Bikram’s yoga, which is hot yoga practiced in 40 degrees celsius and 50% humidity. I’ve had great success in leaving my headache in the room when I practice. If Bikram’s is uncomfortable for you, try another form of yoga.
  8. Pay Attention to and Identify Triggers – I have several headache triggers that I do my best to avoid. I’m very sensitive to smells (mostly certain perfumes and colognes) and can be sensitive to some foods as well. One of my triggers is Strawberry Kiwi Snapple. Even just one sip will be enough to trigger a headache.
  9. Ginger Tea for HeadachesTiger Balm – Rub Tiger Balm on your temples and along your hairline. The cooling properties will help relax the muscles in your head and neck. Tiger Balm is magic! (I never travel without it.) An alternative with similar benefits is peppermint oil.
  10. Ginger Tea – Buy fresh ginger at the grocery store, crush it up and mix it with boiling water to make tea. Ginger reduces inflammation and I’ve found that it can work just as quickly and effectively as Advil or Tylenol.
  11. Sleep – Your body may just need to rest. If you are suffering from a migraine, sometimes all you can do is find a dark room, turn off all the lights and try to sleep.
  12. Exercise Regularly – Being active regularly helps reduce the frequency of stress headaches. I make sure I exercise at least three times per week to stay healthy, fit, and hopefully headache free.

 Do you have any remedies to add? Please share in the comments below.

 

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Staying Fit While Traveling

Staying fit while traveling can be a challenge. It can be tough to get into a routine when your location changes often. While in Costa Rica I’m happy to say that I’ve been getting a workout in almost everyday. My favorite has been the beach workouts. I started doing them every morning while in Tamarindo, either with a local personal trainer or self-led HIIT workouts at the water’s edge.

For the personal training sessions, we used Nick Holt Fitness. We did several amazing TRX suspension training workouts with Nick. He tied the TRX to a tree, and with the jungle on one side and the ocean on the other the view was gorgeous, no matter which way we turned.

We worked out barefoot in the sand with the TRX and used a log for ground work and kettle bells for an added challenge. Nick pushed us HARD and our post-workout dip in the ocean was well deserved. I would recommend him to anyone who wants to maintain regular training while in Tamarindo and surrounding area.

Tamarindo Workout

While traveling around Costa Rica, I continued my beach workouts wherever possible. I would do a 35 minute HIIT workout with a different combination of exercises each time. With the heat and humidity I would do half my workout in the water. It was perfect!

What I love about the HIIT workouts is that you don’t need any equipment, and if you’re doing them on the beach, you don’t even need shoes! All you need is a timer of some kind and music to keep you moving. (I use my iPhone for both.)

All exercises are are completed using your body weight. Some examples of some would be:

  • Squats
  • Lunges (walking or stationary alternating or reverse)
  • Pushups
  • Lizard Crawls (these are fun when you do them on the beach when you see your lizard tracks in the sand)
  • Planks (do them in the water and let the waves pull the sand out from under you for added challenge)
  • Single Arm Alternating Planks
  • Site-ups / Crunches
  • V-sits
  • Burpees (the one everyone loves to hate)

I always include squats and planks in my workouts (cuz who doesn’t want a nice beach bum and killer abs?), and then I mix in a bunch of other exercises, depending on which are I want to focus on. I could add many more to the above list, but these are great if you’re just getting started with HIIT.

I drink a protein shake about an hour before I workout and I always ensure that I’m well hydrated. You should always make sure you drink plenty of water but if you’re traveling in the tropics this is especially important. In warmer climates your body loses a lot more water through sweating, so make sure you are drinking LOTS of water throughout the day. This will ensure that you are well hydrated for your workout as well as for general your health.

While in Costa Rica, I have had several days where I’ve missed my beach workouts, but those days are usually spent exploring which involves a lot of walking and/or hiking, so I get my exercise in other ways. When I returned from Central America I was so hooked on the TRX that I bought one to use at home and I love it!

Travel is no excuse to get lazy!

How do you stay fit while traveling? Please share in the comments below.

To give you a little taste of my workouts, this is my gym in Montezuma: