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When the signs are speaking, are you listening?

When the signs are speaking, are you listening?

What did your January 2020 look like? Big expectations, New Year's resolutions in place? Eager for what lay ahead and what you would make happen that year?

At the risk of stating the obvious, what a strange year it turned out to be. I recall going to a Lunar New Year dinner on January 23 to celebrate with friends of Chinese descent their upcoming New Year, which was January 25. Yet many didn't show up, apparently yielding to what we then perceived were over-blown fears of a new flu strain from China; I mean really, kids starting to mask up in school, even wearing gloves in class! How ridiculous... or so we thought. Then 46 days later, on March 11th, The World Health Organization declares the new flu a Pandemic. Two days later, the Canadian government followed suit. With the benefit of 20-20 hindsight (sorry, couldn’t resist!), it is now clear that this new flu, now known just as COVID-19, was really going to impact the daily lives of everyone around the world.

The local community in Vancouver with the lowest infection rate was the one most ethnically Chinese. Taiwan, an island nation of nearly 24 million people has as of December 31, only 7 deaths associated with COVID from the astonishingly low number of just over 800 total reported cases of the virus. They noticed the signs and took appropriate action early. The purpose of this post is not to rehash what those signs were, but a few may be worth noting. On December 30th, 2019, Wuhan doctors officially had communicated that there was a new, more-aggressive pneumonia. Days earlier, Taiwan had already determined that all incoming travellers from the Wuhan area of China had to be monitored. By January 22nd, China banned any domestic travel (surface or air) in or out of Wuhan, isolating approximately 11 million people. Taiwan closed off flights to Wuhan and aggressively accelerated production of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) while banning exports or hoarding of the same items. The signs were there, but what if our Government (and ordinary folks like us) had paid more attention? 

This leads me to the point of this reflection: Are there signs in everyday life that we are missing? Signs to be cautious, or perhaps signs to be ambitious. Signs of changing health (mental or physical) in ourselves or loved ones? When thinking about loved ones such as aging parents, I’ll admit that I first thought about noticeable signs of decline, but we should also be mindful of signs of improvement. Be thankful for those, as they can unintentionally be taken for granted.  

How do you look for the signs that are work-related? When it comes to stress and declines in production in the workplace, not all of it is preventable, but there are some ways you can give yourself and those around you a better chance of staying mentally and physically well. The American Institute of Stress published a recent article on how to recognize the signs of (and recover from existing) workplace-related stress. 

The bottom line when looking for signs in life is to pay attention, which requires taking time to be still, to be mindful, and to be asking questions about what you observe. It's about actively listening (words and actions) to those who are close to us. It can be as simple as asking your spouse how their day was and listening to their answer, stepping onto a scale or in a larger context, paying attention to quality news sources, including those that don't align well with our own outlook! It doesn't mean blindly following predictions of the famous, or others who have large platforms. Sometimes, some famous people get predictions right, but consider their opinions with your critical thinking skills and don't just gobble them up like dogs devour SierraSil’s Leaps and Bounds treats!  

Finally, a word about Martin Luther King day coming up on January 18th. I've long admired the famous preacher from Atlanta. He lived with a purpose to honour his God and his dream that was shaped by his faith. 

So this January 18th, no matter your nationality, consider reading his famous "I have a dream" speech. Let's dream about the future that MLK Jr did and do what we can to make that dream a reality. MLK Jr's prayer "Use me God. Show me how to take who I am, who I want to be, and what I can do, and use it for a purpose greater than myself," may be worth meditating on or repeating for yourself, depending on your beliefs.

Our goal is to help you and a million others be healthier and more active naturally. Kindly take a moment to help us help more people by sharing this with someone that you think will find this post valuable and interesting.

How is SierraSil like a Strand of Christmas Lights?

Rockefeller Christmas Tree
Did you notice that holiday and Christmas decorations came early this year? It's not all that surprising, given that opportunities for joy have become even more important throughout this pandemic. My wife and I usually have enough restraint not to untangle the outdoor lights until after US Thanksgiving. Yet there we were, on the afternoon of Remembrance Day (US Veterans Day), joining a trend that hit the news before November was done - people getting their Christmas lights up early. So in the spirit of stringing things together, I hope you'll be encouraged and brightened by the following connections as I string some thoughts together!

Sierrasil Joint Health - Staying Active This Winter

Sierrasil Joint Health - Staying Active This Winter

For most of us in Canada, the weather is either already quite frightful or it’s getting there. It's the shorter days and chilly drafts that making curling up and warming our bones by the fire such a pleasure. Better yet if we are blessed to be with ones we love, and perhaps have a hot tea, hot chocolate or even a good whisky to sip on. (As an aside, there are some wonderful homegrown whiskies from our neighbours on Vancouver Island, including Ancient Grains and Shelter Point.) 

It would be easy to put our mantra of being healthier and more active aside, even if for just a few dark, wintery weeks! But alas, no such encouragement from us, because as our physio friends tell us, motion is lotion for our joints. So what can we do this winter? Here are a few of our favourite ways to stay active when it’s cold outside.

Exercise from home

Join SierraSil Ambassador and one of Canada's top fitness experts for online group fitness classes! There are many advantages to working out with Tommy online; one is that Tommy can see you and correct your form for safety, and to maximize the benefits. Two, it’s a lot more engaging being in a live class than watching a class. Three, you’re less likely to slack off when Tommy can see you! Tommy is fun, engaging, and his classes really are a "judgment-free zone". So get ready to work and get the results you want while improving your mindset! Tommy's next round of SHRED® bootcamp begins in January!

Jog a few times a week (as long as it’s not icy)

Gortex running shoes are available, as are cold-weather running pants, tights, and jackets. Don't forget a toque and gloves suitable for exercise and get out there! If you can find a park with good trails, you’ll even be able to enjoy nature while staying fit. 

Stay on the golf course

Did you know they play golf year-round in Scotland? If your local course stays open, embrace the elements, keep your feet and your fingers warm and swing away! If your golf game isn't great, just enjoy how much more exercise you're getting than your playing partner who hits it down the middle every time!

Take up curling

Here's a learn to curl video with Cheryl Bernard, a SierraSilⓇ customer and President of the Canadian Sports Hall of Fame at Calgary Olympic Park, to offer a few beginner’s curling tips!

Commit to a daily walk of at least 20 minutes

No moseying along, make it as brisk as the winter air!

Use the stairs, not the escalator

If you’re in a mall and going up or down a floor, take the stairs instead of the escalator. Most people will be on the escalator so social distancing will be easier on those stairs and you’ll look pretty good (not that we should worry about that)! 

Stay active in your home office

Set an hourly alarm to do a sit-up, squat or a push-up (or two or three, or a combo of all three). It will help with your concentration as you work, too! 

Do an online yoga class

The upside, no one will notice just how inflexible you are! These classes usually come with various levels of difficulty, ranging from beginner to advanced. I periodically do an online yoga class with my wife, which can be a nice way to end the day.

Consider cross-country (nordic) skiing

There's the traditional style, and then there's skate skiing, the style you see in Biathlons. Both are good workouts. If you are new to cross country skiing, rentals aren't too expensive and starting with the traditional style may be best. But if you're a good skater, consider skate skiing. Either way, many nordic centres offer a deal for a lesson and rentals, and it’s a great way to enjoy the outdoors on a sunny winter day. One additional tip - layer your clothing, as it’s a good workout but you can cool off quickly when you stop.

Be a good neighbour

When it snows, in addition to your own sidewalk/driveway, consider shovelling the nearby sidewalk of someone who may have more difficulty doing so.

Note - with all of these activities, only do them as you are safely able to. Warm-up and don't overextend yourself. Be mindful of your footing when running, or your back when shovelling. So there you have it - a number of ideas to consider before you cozy up to that fire and think of Robert W. Service's great Canadian poem, The Cremation of Sam McGee, as you warm those cold bones. And remember, it’s just a few weeks until the days start getting longer!