BeatRoute’s Guide to Winter Wellness

Thursday 15th, December 2016 / 17:30
By Team BeatRoute

VANCOUVER — Winter may well be the hardest season to stay on top of our overall health. For most of us, we’re stuck indoors and, when we’re not, soggy weather and frigid temperatures put us in danger of catching a cold. Motivation for going outside and getting exercise is often lacking, especially in light of holiday parties, copious amounts of alcohol, and days filled with delicious indulgences. Plus, seasonal depression is a very real mental health issue — and is at its crux. All things considered, it’s especially important not to be sparing with yourself in body, mind, and spirit. So, we consulted a few local experts for insight on how to keep well this winter.

Holistic Nutritionist Chloe Elgar understands the connection between physical and spiritual

By Kim Budziak

Chloe Elgar.
Photo: Iulia Agnew

Open books are hard to come by, even in the age of Instagram. There is quoting Rumi and then there is understanding what the hell you’re actually quoting. There is surface open and then there is deep open. Chloe Elgar is the deep blue Pacific kind of open. Her sense of humour blankets company in an instant state of ease, without detracting from her unmistakably human demeanour.

“You have to meet people where they’re at,” she says warmly. “Small steps. If I tell them to go put their crystals outside in the morning are they going to think I’m a wacko?” Probably. But then again, mysticore is trending.

Elgar’s approach to health, however, will have the energy to carry her through the next wave of amethyst and quartz carriers (but she’s into it, in case you were wondering). From her conflict-heavy upbringing and psychology background, Elgar finds herself today in happier, healthier territory: holistic nutrition. She’s part psych major, part public figure, part intuitive healer, and part writer, among other things. Everything she says makes so much sense, it seems wise she should publish a how-to-be-you manual. Actually, she did: Living in Light.

She easily toes the line between personal and professional, drawing her authority from a place of vulnerability, sharing her struggle with an eating disorder and anxiety boldly on her website, Chloe’s Countertop, alongside useful advice, recipes, and her podcast, Conscious Conversations. It’s all part of her larger belief in an integrative approach to health and wellness that includes practitioners outside of her realm of expertise (osteopath, chiropractor, MD), as well as spiritual discovery.

“All of our weight and body issues, all that physical stuff is connected with the spiritual, the emotional,” she explains. “You can follow a diet or eating plan, but it’s not sustainable unless you face the reasons you’ve had to turn to it in the first place.” She speaks bluntly about the big missing piece she sees blocking people looking to get healthy: the inner child.

“It’s going back to your childhood to look at where and how belief systems were created so you can start to understand why it is we do what we do. If someone told you when you were younger that there are starving children in Africa, so you should eat everything on your plate, then overeating, binge eating, and not knowing when you’re full can actually come from that moment.”

In Elgar’s world, we always have a choice. “Either your body is going to be the waste bin, or the garbage is,” she says, encouraging her clients to trust their bodies to let them know when they’re full, not full, and what they’re really craving.

“I know I am not for everyone,” she admits. “And not everyone is for me. I just have to be really authentic within myself so I can help people as best as I can. Intuition and spirituality and emotional practice is really important. It took me years to get this stuff and really embrace it.”

Her clients, followers, and even first-time acquaintances can find solace in the fact that Elgar will match their output and then some, sharing when they share, listening when they need an ear, and gently guiding them through their dark baggage, back into the light, crystal-assisted or not.

To find more about holistic nutrition, contact Chloe Elgar at chloescountertop.com.

Yoga’s quiet practice of self-care

By Willem Thomas

With the onset of winter, it’s common to sequester inside and fall into a social-hibernation state of cancelled commitments and avoided friends. It becomes alarmingly easy to slack off on looking after yourself and maintaining any level of self-care — something everyone needs.

One of the best ways to enact self-care is to do something that makes you feel content and comforted. Yoga has been proven to be a prime opponent of stress and depression, so BeatRoute spoke to Carly Russell, a longtime yoga therapist, about yoga and self-care in the wintertime.

BeatRoute: How do you define self-care?

Carly Russell: Self-care is a dedication of energy to taking a look at your needs and creating a time and space for your needs to exist. It’s figuring out what it is you actually want and what you need to do to go about creating that change — without feeling like a failure if you don’t feel amazing 100% of the time.

BR: Why is yoga a good therapeutic form to combat the “winter blues?”

CR: In the winter, people want to feel warm and to feel comforted. I think people are drawn to yoga because it sort of represents that. People see it as a way to bring comfort through flexibility of the body and the mind. It’s empowering someone through movement and healing so they feel more in control of their bodies. Yoga teaches us to go from the inside out, to not be outside in, so it’s being able to take a moment and look at your surroundings and the energy you have to give out and making sure you’re taking enough energy back in towards yourself in order to be able to live healthily.

BR: Why yoga specifically, as opposed to other forms of exercise?

CR: For many, yoga represents a difference: the quiet practice, focusing on breathing control, and also just being able to sit with yourself. Asking yourself hard questions and moving through spaces that are challenging. It’s working with both the effort and the ease, and creating a balance between the two.

BR: What would some of your other self-care methods entail?

CR: Eating better, joyful activities that are stimulating. I do sensory deprivation therapy, which has helped my meditation practice. What self-care looks like for me is going to look different for you. That’s why there’s so many things out there for therapeutic purposes.

Find Carly Russell at Seacity Fitness and Burrard Physiotherapy.

Fable Naturals’ tips for keeping skin soft and luminous this winter

By Sarah Jamieson

Dry skin is a reality that many face this time of year. No one seems immune to the perils of winter that leave skin feeling parched, red, or irritated.

“Even though we live in a rainy climate, we spend a lot of time indoors with the heaters on, which can make dry skin worse,” explains Gwen Richards, co-founder of Fable Naturals, a Vancouver-based company that specializes in handmade, local, fairly traded, and natural skincare.

However, according to Richards, a solid regimen of daily moisturizing and weekly exfoliation can go a long way. Using a humidifier, drinking plenty of fluids, and applying a moisturizer specially formulated for dry skin are also ways to keep your skin supple in the winter.

“Vancouverites are busy and active and often forget to protect their skin from the elements during the winter season,” she adds.

Moisturizing is important because it maintains the integrity of the skin’s natural moisture barrier (a physical and chemical barrier that keeps out microorganisms and irritants). A healthy barrier means softer skin, fewer wrinkles, even skin tone, and fewer breakouts.

Because soap-based cleansers can strip the skin’s moisture barrier, Richards recommends using oil cleansers in winter — especially if you have dry or mature skin. “Our rosehip and olive facial oil is a customer favourite all year round because it is so nourishing. The benefit of using oil is that you get intense hydration from just a few drops.”

And for anyone who may be put off by oil-based cleansers, fear not — they won’t clog your pores. Richards gives her word.

Fable Naturals is available at various stockists including the Soap Dispensary and Be Fresh, and online at fablenaturals.com.

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