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Exploring the Basque Region: A Journey of Numbers and Culture

Exploring the Basque Region: A Journey of Numbers and Culture

The Basque Region where 3+4=1

Have you ever wondered about numbers in brands, like why is there RubA535™ or a BMW® 330i™ or Joint Formula14™?  Or why in the Basque region of SW France and NE Spain, they have a saying that 3+4 =1?

I'll come back to the numbers, but I’ll start by sharing that Lesley and I had a wonderful trip to the Basque region in May. We signed up for our first BackRoads® hiking trip, a holiday that started in Biarritz, France and ended in Bilbao, Spain. The hike was led by Mathilde and Cristian and ably assisted by Ignacio (from France, Spain and Spain respectively). They were charming, helpful and resourceful (and funny too, especially Ignacio), and along with 18 other hikers and sometimes additional local guides, it was a fantastic experience for Lesley and I.  We made new friends, learnt a lot, ate even more, and thanks to the great hikes, I don't think we put on any weight! 

We visited wonderful towns including our starting and finishing places, and others like Saint-Jean-De-Luz, Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port and Laguardia (a walled city in Spain). We ascended roughly 10,000 feet (and descended too!) while hiking about 50 miles and had a few bus shuttles as well. We went through varied geography from ocean-side walks to grassy and craggy mountains and then the arid vineyards of the La Rioja region. Lesley and I are happy to highly recommend this trip.

So about numbers? Well on our first day of the hike, we were asked what's 3+4? Well obviously 7. But  not so for the Basque people, whose answer is 1.  3 and 4 represent the provinces within two countries that form 1 Basque region!  Confusing without an explanation, right? Same for some numbers applied to brands. So I thought I'd take a moment to explain the numbers in our brand.

Joint Formula14™ was the first product we gave a number to. Originally, it was called Joint Formula, but we market in a sea of hundreds of 'joint formulas' so we wanted to differentiate. The 14 represents our promise, feel better within 14 days or less. We feel a claim or promise should represent the experience that the vast majority of consumers should have. Not a maybe, or perhaps for some.  While some Joint Formula14 customers start to experience results within a day, most take longer. Some 3 or 4 days, some 7 and some need more time, while a very few who don't feel results within 14 days can contact us for a refund.  While no single product will be the best one for everyone, we truly feel that SierraSil® is among the fastest acting natural joint health ingredients and distinguishes itself as the most consistently and the most significantly effective natural ingredient for most people with sore joints or muscles. The SierraSil minerals also have the bonus of chelating heavy metals.

Joint Formula Curcumin3™ was our second numbered product. The 3 represents the excellent bio-availability of the 3 important curcuminoids. These are curcumin, demethoxycurcumin (DMC) and bis-demethoxycurcumin (or BDMC).  The bonus is that our JFC3 also includes a 1/2 serving of SierraSil minerals. The curcumin that we use, Meriva™ has extensive clinical studies and the most rigorous quality testing that we have seen among the curcumin ingredients. 

The third product to be given a number was our Pain Relief Topical Spray 01™, with the One representing results within a minute. A new friend from our Backroads hiking trip tried it and was over joyed by how much more effective it was than the brand he had been using daily, and yes the really fast results! 

Our final product with a number is Joint Formula Glucosamine5™. It features a full dose of vegan glucosamine along with a full dose of our SierraSil minerals (something we need to better articulate). The 5 represents our fifth product. 

But wait, I’ve only mentioned four products, so how can the JFG5 be our fifth? That’s because we haven’t given numbers to our canine product, Leaps&Bounds™ which was introduced before JFG5. Maybe we should fix that. How about a 4 so we could reference it 4 a K9? (with dad joke apologies).  

Not to be left out, our toll-free (North America only) number is 1-877-743-7720 does have a number strategy. It spells 1-877-Sierra-0 (0 as in no more pain!). So paraphrasing slightly the late Paul Harvey 'Now you know the whole story' when it comes to SierraSil numbers. 

Now for some more numbers! I'm happy to report the Canadian Health and Fitness Institute National Health & Fitness Challenge that I focused on last month, was a success. The Let’s Move Canada Challenge community collectively logged over 344,695 hours of movement, surpassing the goal of 243,042 hours (representing the kilometre length of Canada's coastline)! 

Finally do enjoy Canada's 156th birthday and America's 247th coming up in just a few days.  And please share with us, on our toll free line or on our website app, your SierraSil story.  We love hearing from you.


PS I hope you enjoy the pictures from the Basque region

1. San Sebastian 

2. Sunset at Biarritz, France
3. Near St. Jean-De-Lutz

4. With the Basque flag at the Pas De Rolland

5. Bare tree near St. Martin d’Arrossa
6. Sunrise at Auberge Ostape
7. On the Camino de Santiago 
8. On the Camino de Santiago
9. Essential hiking accessories!
10. El Ciego
11. Marquis de Riscal winery and hotel (designed by Toronto born Frank Gehry)
12.  Marquis de Riscal winery and hotel (designed by Toronto born Frank Gehry)
13. With Fernando Canales owner of Etxanobe in Bilbao (yes, make a reservation!)
14. Bilbao train station

National Health and Fitness Day: Building a Healthier Canada Together

National Health and Fitness Day: Building a Healthier Canada Together
The first Saturday of the June is National Health and Fitness Month in Canada. It's but one day to remind us of something we already know, that health and fitness matter. So why is it important?

We are in a crisis - a health crisis. For some it’s outward and visible, for some it’s an inner battle, simmering in a pool of hopelessness.  You've read the data, and it's in the news all the time. For example, a May 7th New York Times Opinion by Nicholas Kristof. He wrote that more than a quarter million Americans die from deaths of despair - drugs, alcohol and suicide.  This may touch all of us. Last year, a friend of mine who is "highly successful", nearly died from a purposeful over-dosing on a prescription medication. He was comatose for weeks, but fortunately, has recovered and rued his actions, saying to me and I suspect others, "What was I thinking?".  

Another challenge is obesity. While not all heavy people are unhealthy, many are.  According to the World Health Organization (WHO), over 650 million adults worldwide are obese, more than triple the rate in 1975, and roughly another 1.3 billion are overweight. According to Health Canada the challenge is getting more significant, with the number of Canadians being overweight (or obese) increasing from 49% in 1978 to 64% in 2017.  Health Canada notes that being overweight or obese is one of the top preventable risk factors for many chronic diseases including: Type 2 Diabetes; heart disease; and some cancers.  

So why do I care? Have you, like me, cared for a person whose weight to strength ratio disabled them from being able to stand up without assistance (either a helping hand or prop, such as the chair armrest)?  Or not have the flexibility to tie their own shoe laces? A couple of years ago, I saw a gentleman navigating through winter slush in slip on shoes. Was this because he couldn't put on and secure more appropriate shoes? How many seniors trip because their slip-on footwear doesn't provide adequate support, or because they catch a foot dragging on a change of surface?  My dad, who died at 91 years of age in September 2021, fell in late 2000 wearing his inadequately supporting slip on shoes, and broke one of his hips. Sadly, he never really recovered, becoming more idle even as the hip healed. 

Let me quote from VeryWell Health. 

Falls are the leading cause of injury and injury-related deaths in adults over 65.  It is estimated that around 300,000 hip fractures occur in the United States each year, mainly due to falls in older adults who are inherently vulnerable to broken hips. The impact is not only felt on an individual basis but on a population-based level. Hip fractures place a substantial economic strain on the U.S. healthcare system, accounting for roughly $5.96 billion per year in direct medical costs, based on a 2019 review of Medicare claims. According to a 2019 study in Acta Orthopaedica, the one-year mortality after a hip fracture is 21% for those whose fracture is surgically repaired. If the fracture is not surgically repaired, the one-year mortality is about 70%. 

Again, going back to the Health Canada, a healthy lifestyle, including physical activity and healthy eating is the best prevention and promotes healthy weight. Health Canada adds, "We all have a role to play in promoting healthier living".

So yes, let's raise awareness this coming Saturday June 3 to consider health and fitness. And let's raise awareness to take action personally and together. 

One of the books I currently have on the go is Longevity by Dr. Peter Attia, a Canadian, now living in the US. Late in his residency following Stanford Medical School he changed direction, joining McKinsey the consulting firm. But Dr. Attia returned to medicine to apply the risk management approaches he learned as a consultant. In his book Longevity, Dr. Attia talks about four horsemen of chronic disease that impact health span (not the Four Horseman of the Apocalypse), and that modern medicine, as he calls it Medicine 2.0, has had success improving lifespans, but not necessarily health spans. He advocates for Medicine 3.0, focusing on prevention of chronic disease including Atherosclerotic disease, Cancer, Neurodegenerative disease, and “Foundational disease” by doing in effect what he calls prehab, not rehab.  

So what are these personal actions? Number one, by far, is exercise including cardio, strength and balance. In mid September the 2016 Time Magazine cover story was The New Science of Exercise. The article featured Dr. Mark Tarnopolski of McMaster University in Hamilton Ontario and his research, concluding that exercise is the best medicine.   But exercise alone is not enough. Dr. Attia adds four more pillars. Metabolic health (tightly tied with nutrition); sleep; emotional health; and drugs, supplements and/or hormones as individually recommended between physician and patient.  Dr. Attia highlights that at medical school, there is generally scant attention to the first 4 (exercise, nutrition, sleep and emotional health)!

So please commit to being your healthy best, focusing on those first four, let’s call them lifestyle considerations. But what about collective action, through non-profits and public policy? 

I feel like we build in poor health choices in our public policy. Here are but two examples: 

  • In Vancouver, our civic government is adopting plans for vastly more high-rise residential towers. Yet there is evidence that mental health declines with elevating residential floor levels, especially for young people. Not to mention, who takes the stairs to the 31st floor? Instead the City should consider broader low to mid rise density, offering developers square footage incentives for features that support health, such as inviting staircases, common areas, patios and also green landscaping. Some of the densest cities favour low to mid rises, for example, Paris, France.
  • Children's sports or cultural events. Have you been a parent that drives your son or daughter an hour or more to events (and back) on a regular basis? I've done that for son's hockey and basketball. What's wrong with more local practice time (where all kids are active and developing skill) instead of a lot of car time every weekend? I'd say some weekends fine, but every weekend? 
There are many more examples that may come to mind for you. If they do, please share them with me. One of my volunteer roles is with the Canadian Health and Fitness Institute. We are a young, time limited organization. Our goal is to have Canada the fittest country on earth by 2030 (and share what we learn). Being healthy and fit doesn't guarantee better lifespan opportunities, but it clearly enhances our chances. Please also consider supporting the work of CHFI. 

It's never too late to start on a health and fitness journey, and it's never too early to start. So this upcoming June 3, please celebrate National Health and Fitness Day. You can do it by being active and encouraging others in your life to do likewise and joining the National Health and Fitness challenge (see below). 

Individually and collectively, let's be passionate about this and share on social media with hashtags like #officialCHFI #HealthyLiving #LetsMoveCanada #BougeonsCanada - and perhaps a #SierraSil mention, since we will be providing some prizes!




National Health and Fitness Day Challenge

Partnering with Strava, the Indigenous Physical Activity and Cultural Circle (IPACC) and the Canadian Health and Fitness Institute (CHFI) have created a collective challenge, where Canadians join forces to complete a single, large goal over 19 days from June 3 to June 21. By walking, jogging, canoeing, dancing and more — in the city, through nature or on the water — together Canadians will move a total of 243,042 hours from National Health and Fitness Day (June 3, 2023) to National Indigenous People’s Day (June 21, 2023). Why 243,042? It’s the length of Canada’s coastline! We have the longest coastline in the world and we want to make Canada the fittest nation in the world. The Lets Move Canada Challenge from Coast to Coast to Coast will bring together family, friends and community to contribute to this challenge in whatever way moves them. Take a picture and post it to Facebook and Instagram with the hashtag: #LetsMoveCanada, #BougeonsCanada. Register for the challenge on Strava starting May 27 (but you can also register after that too).  

From Trade Shows to Poetry: A Month of Adventure and Inspiration

From Trade Shows to Poetry: A Month of Adventure and Inspiration

Two trade shows book ending a trip to Mexico City (and writing my first poem in decades while in San Miguel de Allende). That was March for me!

For our recent 60th birthdays, Lesley and I celebrated with our first trip to Mexico City and on the advice of friends that we work-out with, a side trip to iconic San Miguel de Allende. We had a fantastic time, enjoying public art, architecture and museums that exceeded our expectations. We knew the food was going to be good, as Mexico City (known as CDMX) is home to many truly fine restaurants and the hospitality was warm and gracious. I might add that we felt entirely safe where-ever we went, even strolling the streets after dark.

So why the poem? I've been reading The Rest of God: Restoring Your Soul by Restoring Sabbath by Mark Buchanan. One of my personal goals for 2023 was for more time to be still, for meditation, reflection or listening. So when I came across this book in February, I felt compelled to pick it up. Then one afternoon while reading in Parque Juarez reflecting on a chapter just read, I wrote a poem to capture the moment. Proud of my work, I messaged it to my youngest son and he commended it as good - high praise from a very good writer! 

As I reflect on the two trade shows, one just attended briefly (ExpoWest) and the other as an exhibitor (CHFA Now) it struck me how many great SierraSil® testimonials I heard. We are genuinely making a difference in people's lives, living our business purpose to help people be healthier and more active naturally. As we put it, we exist to help people with mild to moderate aches and soreness recover joy and ability. Here are a few examples from the trade shows:

  • A person from the "Beaches" area of Toronto, who told me that his shoulder had been bad for 7 months but last night, after starting on SierraSil, he was able to sleep on it with reduced pain, excited to keep going to feel the full results.
  • Salima Hussein of Simply Health in Edmonton who told us that SierraSil was the best product for her clients sore joints (see video)
  • A writer of several Vitamin and Herb books who shared that for him, SierraSil Joint Formula14™ was more effective for an injured shoulder than “everything else I’ve tried combined”
  • Brandon S who I spoke with after the ExpoWest tradeshow who was surprised by how quickly and significantly effective SierraSil was for reducing delayed onset muscle soreness.

Obviously we can't guarantee everyone will have such an incredible experience. But we do guarantee satisfaction or your money back and we have placebo controlled clinical studies with results consistent with these testimonials. Please consider who in your life would benefit from reduced aches or soreness?  Kindly invite them to give our products a try or connect with us, if they are out-of-town for you, letting us know you'd like to gift SierraSil® and we will handle the arrangements. March was a good month for me. Let us help make the next month a good one for someone you care for.

Finally an invitation for the poets among you. Post a poem to Instagram referencing SierraSil including an appropriate hashtag (such as #SierraSil and or #jointhealth) and we will select a winner for a 3 month supply of your favourite SierraSil product!