Norvan Falls & Cypress Falls

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Summer 2017 is the year to explore BC – go on hikes, and chasing waterfalls. I have lived in B.C long enough, but it is a pity that I didn’t get to explore these hidden gems long ago. I have a newfound love for waterfalls. I was so excited to get to these falls and to spend some time with nature.

Norvan falls, Cleveland dam and Cypress falls were on top of my list to visit for many reasons – they are well known hiking trails and they are close to home.  They are easily accessible via public transportation, which makes it even more appealing.

Norvan Falls is a spectacular waterfall hike located in Lynn Headwaters Regional Park, in North Vancouver. There are two trails that takes you there: Cedars Mill Trail and Lynn Headwaters Trail. My friend and I decided to take the longer trail via Lynn headwaters, which is 16km round trip – approximately 5 hours trip. It was an amazing experience. Glad we took the longer trail – it was scenic and we experienced beautiful forest view. This trail is rocky, but the hike itself is not steep or too bumpy but it is a long walk. I remember asking other hikers for the distance and how far more to hike to get to our destination – which was Norvan falls (though there were signs indicating the distance in km, but we didn’t seem to notice it at first). It took us approximately 2.5 hrs. to get to our destination.

As soon as I reached to the waterfall – I took off my shoes and couldn’t wait to dip my toes into the icy river. It felt so good because I was extremely exhausted. It was a perfect spot to rest. And I was glad my friend liked the place as much I did because I sort of  made her to hike with me.

On the way, back we hiked the shorter trail via Cedars Mill Trail, which was a flat hike.

Cypress Falls – this is a short hike in West Vancouver. The trail is very close to the city, yet one gets to experience such a beautiful forest view. I was shocked to see a forest so near to the city.  I hiked this trail on my own, so I was more self aware and mindful of where I was headed. I saw few small waterfalls and the hike is relatively short compare to Norvan falls. I also enjoyed the great forest view as you pass through the woods, and I found the trails to be wider and bumpy. Also, trails are not marked and so it can get quite messy and difficult because you don’t know where you are going. It is easy to get lost, I suppose, so it’s better not to hike it alone. Though I liked the lush green forest and the fact that it was less crowded. It was also a perfect spot to meditate while enjoying a quiet and peaceful walk.

Cleveland dam is another great place to hike and to be in the presence of nature. Again this hike gets you to couple waterfalls, but you only get to see them from a distance, and it is a short hike. I noticed different trails, but they were all marked, so it was easy to follow through. And the hike was flat.

My overall experience, I loved them all.

What is your favorite hiking trail in B.C or outside B.C? Share in the comments below.

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Norvan Falls

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Norvan Falls

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Cypress Falls

 

 

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Cleveland Dam

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The Gift of Giving: Gratitude and Happiness

What is the connection between happiness and gratitude? Do we need to be grateful in order to be happy? We are all seeking the one thing, and yet we are also very different in our approach. I watched this TED talk on happiness and gratitude not very long ago, and it made me reflect – Is happiness born from gratitude? Can we start experiencing more happiness when we start appreciating little things in life? The next few paragraphs are my random thoughts, so bear with me.

As I have been told every moment is an opportunity, and that is the key to happiness. I have yet to discover things for myself, but the minute I started being thankful for little things in my life…feelings of joy started to flow into my life. We are not born with this mind-set ofcourse, but we can make it a habit. I also think there is a joy in gift of giving. The more you give out, you receive triple the amount back.

What we imagine, we become, and what we think, we create. Hence, I truly believe that our thoughts and our minds are powerful tool in shaping us into who we want to become. If I am in charge and in control of my thoughts then I am in control of my well-being. While people are aware of the importance of physical health (we look after our body, we go for our routine check, and we spend endless hours in the gym to be healthy), attitudes toward mental health are different. Why aren’t we as concerned? Why is physical health given more importance than mental health? I keep raising this question, and it is amazing to see that people are now acknowledging it as well.

I think it boils down to one thing: Change the way you think about things. We miss out on every little things in life, and beautiful moments pass by if we are not present in the moment. We show gratitude towards people, and appreciate sweet gestures when we start to make a mental notice of our surroundings. So take a moment to appreciate when someone does something good for you, next time. Never take things for granted! You may not show them in words (as not everyone can be expressive), but accept it in your heart, and be thankful.

And when you are happy and show love to the things you want, you don’t just attract them, but will have no room for fear, insecurity, resentment, envy, and doubt. If you fear that what you are aiming for is impossible then just believe in your vision, imagine it and enjoy the process. Don’t worry about the outcome, as everything will fall into place. Just BELIEVE it. ENVISION it. And dream big! Many people are confused, not because they don’t know what they want, but because they are fearful and may question their ability whether they can or cannot. And they may or may not overcome it.

I also read an interesting research on health and happiness. I think it is no surprise that when we are fully energised, we get a lot of things done. Hence the point of the research was that in order to increase our level of energy, we need to be getting enough sleep and exercise, as the two are the predictors of wellbeing.

Research also showed happier people are more interested in the problems of the world, and in the problems of the people. They are more often and willingly to offer help. If you are asking well then, what might bring you happiness? – It is different to each one of us, but novelty and challenge contribute to people’s happiness. What is challenging for you might not be challenging for someone else, so you have to know what is right for you.

Recently, as I have learned, outcome does not matter as much. Just enjoy the process. I hope some can relate to this post or hoping that you can take something positive out of it.

 

 

How to stay healthy and choosing healthier options

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I wasn’t always into fitness, but somehow I changed that. I truly believe we are all capable of achieving whatever we want to have in life, it is just a matter of taking action. We are all worthy of good life. Everyone has so much to offer to this world. And you CAN live a life you desire, you just have to start now! We can get so far with the right mind-set as long as we have the vision. Dream again! And dream big.

I don’t have a set fitness routine that I’d want to share, nor am I an expert in fitness, but I can share what has been working for me. You can find your own pace and see what works best for you.

Opt for healthier options:

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  • Start the day with a lemon water – starting with a lemon water will set you up for a clearer mind all day. It is also refreshing and has vitamin C.
  • Eating healthy: Consuming more vegetables and less fatty foods. Cutting down on carbohydrates and having it less than usual. You don’t need to change your diet. Just choose healthier options.

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  • Green tea- another of my favorites. I can’t stress enough the importance of drinking green tea. It stimulates body’s metabolism, and it also aids in weight loss.
  • Switching from regular oil to olive oil – Olive oil lowers the bad cholesterol and raises your good cholesterol.
  • Exercise– Of course it goes without saying that exercise plays a big role in our overall well-being. You can choose to live an active life today or you can choose not to. Pick up an activity you’d want to do: Is it going to the gym? or is it maybe going for a run? If all fails, start commuting to work by taking the bus or train it. Walk to the bus stop. You don’t always have to take your car when going places. When you are out to do your grocery shopping, try to leave your car behind. You don’t want to do it alone? – make it a group activity: Try involving your siblings, parents, friends, or your partner. Make it fun. I try to get mine done, on my own, in the evening when I am out for a walk. It is like killing two birds with one stone – you get your grocery shopping done while getting done with your exercise. Also, during my studies in the UK, I remembered looking for any opportunity to walk from point A to point B. Never had to take a bus or a train. You can also choose stairs over elevators, which is again something I picked up during my stay in the UK. I am grateful for those experiences because I know what is better for me now.

It is the little things that matter!
How do you stay fit mentally? You can feed your brain with positive thoughts, and constantly count your blessings. Having a positive mind-set is so important, and be thankful for everything in your life. Lastly, meditation helps with our mental well-being; it improves concentration levels and helps us to stay better focused in achieving our goals. Spare some time for meditation. You can check out my following blogs for tips on how to become more positive and be more grateful in your life.

Click here
Click here
Click here

I want to wrap up this blog with this quote:

“When you hit a bump you pick yourself up and you keep going. Things don’t always turn out the way you imagine. Life deals you a hand and no matter what card you’re holding, you have to play it. …and it’s hard and it never stops being hard. But you learn …and you change … and you grow.”

I couldn’t agree more with these sayings, I am sure many of us can relate to it.

How do you manage to stay healthy?

Exercising and Well-being

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Benefits of Exercising on Our Mental Well-being

It is no surprise that in general people are becoming more health conscious, and are looking after their well-being, and not just physically, but mentally also. We hear it all the time that exercising is good for us, but what is that really mean? We obviously exercise to keep fit, but I think it is important to look past that and to really understand the benefits of exercise on our overall well-being. Does exercising actually boosts our brains’ happy chemicals?

Research shows Yes!

1. Exercise helps with combating depression. When you exercise, your body releases chemicals called endorphins. These endorphins interact with the receptors in your brain that reduce your perception of pain. Endorphins trigger a positive feeling in the body, similar to that of morphine. Any kind of physical activity causes our brain to release these chemicals in a greater amount, and so we feel better mentally. Regular exercise has been proven to:

Reduce stress
Ward off anxiety and feelings of depression
Boost self-esteem
Improve sleep

Also, depressed adults have been proven to become better with a regular exercise, compare to adults who just rely on medications.

2. Exercise helps with our day to day productivity, I am sure there is no surprise there. A study was done to test the productivity of employees at work. The study discovered that employees who were incorporating exercise in their daily routines were more productive compared to those who didn’t exercise. Also the study showed that subjects that were active (like exercised few times a week) appeared to be calmer, and showed more patience and understanding towards their work colleagues.

3. Exercise also helps with creating new brain cells. Any sort of workout whether it is going for a run or doing your aerobic activity in general has been linked to creating new brain cells. Running gives birth to some neurons. As it was noted, (Click here) adults continue to grow new brains when they learn a new activity. A new review of the scientific literature, published in the journal of Trends in Cognitive Science, tells us that new cells can grow in the hippocampus, which is an area in the brain that is linked to memory and learning. So exercise has shown to help us grow new cells in that part of our brain. The literature also points out that sex and mating have also shown to grow new brain cells, in case you were wondering.

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Blog.newscred.com

4. Exercise also, as we know, improves our confidence and body image. Research indicates that a change in our diet, as well as including regular exercise routines have a positive impact on our body image.
5. It improves our overall strength and functionality- it is also linked to improving our memory and focus. Our brain changes in response to our environment, so when we learn something new, which involves something physical, it automatically changes the pattern of our brain. Study shows that when students are given a test after a 20 minute walk, their test scores improves by 10 percent.

What are some of the ways that help you stay active? What do you do for staying mentally fit?

I’ve constantly struggled with staying on top of my workouts. But I am aware of my problem, and as they say the first step in solving any problem is recognizing there is one. In my next blog I will share what I do to stay active; and share tips on the importance of making small goals.

For more juicy stuff on health and exercise, click the link below.

Shawn Stevenson

Travelling!

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I love travelling! Who doesn’t right? Well, I realized how much I enjoyed travelling when I did this fun Europe trip earlier this year. After I was done with my studies in the UK, I decided to travel around to see a bit of beautiful Europe before my trip back to Canada. There is something so unique and rewarding about solo travelling that I can’t find the right words to describe my experience, really. If I can summarize the whole experience in one word, it will be this: AMAZING!

Things to keep in mind before embarking on a journey of your own:

  • Plan ahead –  Do your research about the culture, custom, currency, weather and which neighbourhoods to avoid.
  • PACK LESS, LESS and LESS! 
  • Socialize as much as you can – It will not get lonely trust me. If you are keeping an open mind and interacting with other travellors, you will meet many interesting people.
  • Try staying with the locals – You will not only get a better sense of their culture and language, but might also get a tour of the city if you are lucky.  And more importantly, it is less costly to live with locals.

Here are the few shots from my Europe trip. Tell me about your experiences as a solo travellor, how was the experience like? Do you believe that travelling is good for our overall well-being?

Cathedrale Notre-Dame, Paris

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The beautiful Venice
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Rambla, Barcelona
Rambla is Barcelona’s famous street, always crowded with locals and tourists.
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La Sagrada Familia, Barcelona

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How to Improve our Quality of Life and Productivity

7-Habits-of-a-Healthy-LifestyleFollowing from my last blog, which was about motivation, goal setting and dreams, this week I want to address the impact of healthy diet on our overall well-being. How to improve the quality of our lives and productivity? With so much going on in our lives, such as dealing with school, work and family life, sometimes we tend to forget to take care of ourselves. We start to take our body and mind for granted. What we should be really doing is focusing on ourselves first and foremost.
There is no magic to a healthy living. This is what worked for me, and I hope it does for you too.

  • Eating healthy
  • Exercise regularly
  • Peace of mind
  • Drink plenty of water
  • Meditation

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Eating healthy involves consuming more fruits, vegetables and less fatty foods. Cutting down on the  carbohydrates or having it less than you normally would. Things that have worked for me in the past include:

  •  Green tea– it stimulates the body’s metabolism and can also suppress the absorption of fat. And drinking it daily aids in weight loss.
  • Olive oil has many benefits; the main benefit is that it lowers the bad cholesterol and raises the good cholesterol.
  • LemonTry drinking lemon water as it is refreshing and has Vitamin C. It is best to reduce your intake of sugar, no pop, alcohol or canned fruit drinks!
  • And lastly, Chicken is the best way to lose weight. This white meat is less fat, making it a good source of meat protein.

Exercise – I can’t stress enough the importance of exercising and its endless benefits. You don’t have to go to the gym to be able to do your exercise, simply by being active such as joining a sports club, a good walk, jog, and yoga does the job. I have personally gained a lot of benefits from doing yoga during my undergraduate years. It helped in maintaining my weight, reduced stress, and calms my mind.

And yes drink plenty of water—8 glasses of water is what the doctors suggest, and five to six glasses are fine too for starters. Keep a bottle of water in your purse, bag pack, in your car, so that it is easily reachable. -And make sure you have a glass of water every morning before breakfast as it helps in reducing weight.

Lastly, meditation helps with our mental well-being; it improves concentration levels and helps us to stay better focused in achieving our goals. Spare some time for yourself only. And spend time alone with yourself, where you can reflect on the past events and daily activities.

Some factors that are important for maintaining well-being include:

  • good interpersonal relationships – a supportive relationship with at least one person – having good social support, good family relationships
  • connectedness – having friends and social/cultural networks within the community
  • purpose – having meaningful activity in life such as work, academic, sporting and spiritual pursuits

Next week’s topic will cover the importance of having a positive frame of mind until then stay tuned!

click here for healthy eating and foods for a flat belly.