Saturday, August 13, 2016

Why Alexis Nilsen Became A Holistic Nutritionist - Welcome Alexis to the Blog Today!

I’m a Certified Holistic Nutritionist by day and a die-hard foodie by night, and I specialize in the art of healthy eating. But life hasn’t always been this delicious. I will be the first to admit that growing up my diet didn’t always consist of the best choices, I was a super picky eater as a kid (sorry mom) and my faves were: Beefaroni, Kraft Dinner, and pizza buns. After struggling with my health for years I was diagnosed with celiac disease when I was 27 years old. It forced me to clean up my act in the kitchen and address the “I don’t feel good” symptom I experienced on a daily basis. This huge shift meant giving up the foods I loved most, but at this point I was willing to do anything to get my health back on track. So I gave up eating gluten and dairy, crossed my fingers and hoped for the best. I searched for years to find an answer to all my unexplained ailments and it blew my mind that this one little protein called gluten could be doing all this damage. It’s funny how life can lead us down different paths, because even though initially I cried during every Oreo commercial, this new found healthy eating lifestyle of mine ignited a passion to want to help others who also struggle with their health in a world full of frozen pizza, pasta in a can and soft drinks galore. I truly believe that no matter what your age or state of health there is always room for improvement and nutrition is one of the most important aspects of this journey. I don’t believe in being defined by labels or trends, and perfection is not what we’re striving for here. I want to empower and educate my clients so that they too can begin to heal and understand the connection between health and the food we eat. Follow me @cowcrumbs

Monday, August 1, 2016

Welcome Alyssa Gowan to the Blog Today!! Why Osteopathy?

I’ve been interested in pursuing a career in health care from a young age. I participated in a number of sports growing up and unfortunately suffered from sports injuries. As a result, I was exposed to various methods of rehabilitation over the years. I found many of these approaches to be interesting and helpful for me, but osteopathy in particular. I first received osteopathic treatment as a high school student for a low back injury for which I’d already tried multiple forms of therapies. I had never heard of osteopathy but when my physiotherapist referred me I thought it was worth investigating. At that time the profession was not very common so I travelled an hour to receive treatment from an osteopathic student. I was admittedly confused by the different approach initially – he wasn’t just treating by back but also areas such as my head, feet, and abdomen. He explained the relationships and how everything is connected in the body, which I found intriguing. I considered different health professions throughout university; however, I kept coming back to osteopathy. I was advised to study another manual therapy before beginning my osteopathic studies in order to gain clinical experience, so after graduating from McMaster with a Kinesiology degree, I went on to complete diplomas in Massage Therapy and Sports Injury Therapy. This has allowed me to work as a Registered Massage Therapist while pursuing my studies at the Canadian College of Osteopathy. I am currently working on my thesis which is the final requirement to becoming an Osteopathic Manual Practitioner. I love that massage therapy and osteopathy allow me to combine my passions for health, sports, helping, and educating my patients! I also love that osteopathy treats the whole person so each treatment is unique to that individual. I enjoy the challenge since each patient is like a puzzle to solve due to the many factors influencing each of us and the complexity of the human body.

Friday, July 29, 2016

Why Laura Amato, one of our RMTS, loves being a massage therapist and how she got into it.

My connection to massage therapy began at a young age. As early as 8, if not younger, I can recall my parents requesting a back massage, my cousins asking me to tickle their arms as we would drift off to sleep, and my friends desiring a simple shoulder squeeze to release some of our school acquired muscle tension. The response to each act of touch was one of relief and relaxation, usually often followed by “Laura, your hands are magical.” I would laugh it off, never thinking much of it, at the same moment having it slowly seep into my subconscious as a possibility. I was the type of person that found joy in lending an ear,  a hand, advice, laughter or comfort to the people I cared about, so, if a simple act of kindness could bring some ease to their life, I was more than happy to oblige. In school, I was a pretty well rounded student, obtaining an average of 80s and 90s in most of my studies, math being my highest mark. That being the case, when it came time to figure out my path into post secondary education, not knowing what I wanted to do and only factoring in my strengths in terms of grades, I chose to attend Waterloo University for the Math and Business Double Degree Program. Even while choosing this direction, massage remained in the back of my mind—a fall back should my “impassioned career” never materialize.  Moving away from home, my friends, and my family for the first time and shifting from a variety of different subjects to focus on one very specific field proved to be a challenging feat during my first year. I slowly started realizing that my enjoyment of mathematics was limited at this capacity and, even more so, that it was not going to lead me to a career that I would love. I became despondent, isolating myself while attempting to figure out what my next step should be.  After approaching student services and taking a suggested aptitude test to assist me in identifying my best options, I was surprised and somewhat elated to find Massage Therapist as a 70%+ match under the careers that were best suited for me. At that moment, the gears began turning— why was I keeping massage as my backup option? It was something I was good at, enjoyed, and it allowed me to help others while pursuing a healthy lifestyle. Why had I not considered it before? I was not initially met with support from my peers or family, but I knew it was the right decision for me. Thankfully, with the moral support from a few close friends, I was able to happily move in a direction that finally felt like the path I was meant to take. Since graduating from the Massage Therapy Program in 2008, I have come to appreciate my career much more than I could imagine. I never realized how rewarding it would be. The autonomy I have in my practice, the seemingly limitless resources available to further my knowledge both in my profession and in the health industry, the feeling I get when I know I have genuinely helped my clients, and especially the level of rapport I am able to achieve with both my coworkers and clientele. As clich├ęd as it sounds, it is more than a job, it is where I belong. 

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Dr. Tiffany Chats How She Got into Naturopathic Medicine

Welcome Dr. Tiffany to the blog today! Dr. Tiffany is practicing at the clinic on Tuesdays currently. Having grown up in a household where pharmaceuticals weren’t always the first prescription, I was never one for conventional medicine. As a graduate of biochemistry from McMaster University, I was still unsure of my career path. I was unquestionably interested in the health profession, and had contemplated medical school like most of my colleagues and (future) husband, however I knew this was not exactly right for me. I continued on with my education and completed my Master’s degree at Guelph University. A guest speaker in one of my classes was a Naturopathic Doctor and she opened my eyes to everything I’d been looking for. Unaware that this profession even existed, a light bulb went off and I knew this was my calling. The natural and holistic approach to health while still figuring out the underlying cause to disease was the ‘medical’ degree I needed. I completed my Naturopathic degree in 2011 and have never looked back.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Dr. Claire and Why She is an ND

Today on the ZH blog welcome Dr. Claire. Here she writes why she loves what she does. You can also now follow her on her own blog! From a young age, I knew I wanted to be in healthcare, because I always had the instinct to take care of people, and I enjoyed doing it. When I was in university, and exploring my options, I found naturopathic medicine and realized it's where I belong! I love that naturopathic medicine gives me the opportunity to sit with my patients and hear them and learn about different aspects of their lives, health, and well-being. I love that no two cases are ever the same because I'm treating a person, not a symptom and the tools at my disposal are so varied. I love that it permits me to delve deeper and encourages me to get to the root of people's concerns, taking into consideration the whole person. I love that one of the goals of my profession is to educate my patients and the public and empower them to take care of themselves and their health!

Friday, May 27, 2016

Celiac Awareness

Here's a little something from our resident holistic nutritionist, Alexis Nilsen. She is available on Tuesdays and Thursdays here at Zawada Health. Health crazes and diet trends may come and go. But every so often there are advances in the nutrition and medical field that are true game changers, and with the month of May coming to an end so is Celiac Awareness month and I wanted to leave you with some food for thought… Celiac is a difficult disease to recognize and is often overlooked; the symptoms can be non-specific, even non-existent. I speak from experience because I struggled for years with my health before I found out that this nasty little protein was doing so much damage. The connection between gut and disease is real, sadly we often forget this fact and have now drifted to a quick fix mentality and it is clearly not working. If you have questions about the foods you're eating, or maybe you want to clean up your act in the kitchen I would love to help. “Because every time you eat or drink, you are either feeding disease or fighting it.” - Hippocrates

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Mindshift Ninja?

Love the name of this company. It's why I took a second look at them. Health is not just the physical and this week's Bell #letstalk campaign reminded us of this. The WHO has said 'There is no health without mental health' and Mindshift Ninja helps their clients train the brain to achieve goals. Here's an interview with the owners. You can also find this article in our upcoming February Zawada Health newsletter. Interview with Ayla and Yashar of MINDSHIFT Ninja ( What is MINDSHIFT Ninja? MINDSHIFT Ninja is a brain-based coaching and leadership development company. We focus on optimizing human performance, empowering teams, and inspiring leadership. We create accessible, tangible, and sustainable brain-based programs to support our client’s growth. Why the mind? Your mind is your most powerful tool for breakthrough. We focus on the mind because it is a muscle, it can be trained and strengthened. You can transform your mind. Your world is shaped by your thinking. That is why MINDSHIFT Ninja focuses on empowering your thinking and helping you shape and sharpen your mind. Who do you work with? We offer dynamic, individual and group, coaching and workshops, for executives, entrepreneurs, creatives, and go-getters. We work with various clients from those interested in change management, leadership programs and starting new enterprises - all the way to relationship support, child labour and brain foods. In other words, brain-based coaching can empower your thinking and actions - for anyone, anywhere. You two have very different backgrounds how do you come together? We are both trained Brain-Based Executive Coaches. Our backgrounds in medicine and management help us combine the neurosciences, strategic planning, and mindfulness techniques to empower individuals and groups. Combining our talents allows us to help our clients do better by thinking better. Want to find out more? Learn more about Ayla and Yashar and MINDSHIFT Ninja. Follow them on twitter for some great tips. @MINDShiftNinja Check out Yashar’s spotlight interview conducted last month, stay tuned for Ayla’s spotlight on Feb 25th.