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Showing posts with label 12 Steps of Becoming Healthier. Show all posts
Showing posts with label 12 Steps of Becoming Healthier. Show all posts

Are you working too hard for your health?

Do you ever feel depressed because all you ever seem to do is work and you rarely have leisure time to spend with your friends or family?

Do you regularly feel tired from working so much that you basically just come home and collapse, eat comfort food and watch TV because it requires the least amount of work?

Do you often agonize over the balance between life and work?

Does your family have heart disease, diabetes, and/or a history of Alzheimer's in your family members who also worked long hours every day?

About a century ago it was common for factory workers to be working 10, 12 or even 14 hour shifts. The 8-hour work day only became a reality during the 1930s when there was so many unemployed people that factories were under pressure to spread the number of hours out amongst a greater number of employees.

Following that success various organizations pushed for a 4-hour or 6-hour work day, but those movements never amounted to anything beyond some interesting cartoons about the economy during the 1930s.

Around the same time such organizations involved in the US Labor Movement, primarily the IWW (Industrial Workers of the World), were also pushing for a 4-day work week and other such interesting ideas that never took hold.

If you answered yes to a bunch of the questions at the top, you probably are feeling pretty overworked yourself - or your family has a history of working too hard too. However ask yourself, did working that hard increase the quality of life for you or your family?

Given the choice which do you value more, leisure time or having more money?

Well lets try to answer that question using MATH.

Lets pretend for a moment that you currently work 8 hours per day, 5 days per week for a total of 40 hours per week. And while we are at it, lets assume you are making $20 per hour - so $800 per week, minus taxes/etc.

Then one day your boss offers you a new option: 6 hours per day, 5 days per week for a total of 30 hours per week. Same pay, but less hours so it would be $600 per week, again minus taxes/etc.

At which point you have to ask yourself, would you prefer to work 40 hours per week and be exhausted after work, have very little leisure time, etc.

Or would you prefer 30 hours per week, 10 hours of extra leisure time, and a pay cut?

According to surveys conducted across Canada, most Canadians say they would take the 30-hour work week and would love to have extra leisure time.

There is a third option too. 8 hour work days, but only a 4 day work week. 32 hours total. This way you get a whole day off for leisure time.

Or even a fourth option. 10 hour work days, but only a 4 day work week. 40 hours total. This way you still get a whole day off for leisure time, but are still managing to work 40 hours per week.

However options 3 and 4 seem to miss the point. Overworking causes health problems, like a 33% higher chance of stroke and a 15% higher chance of heart disease. Other health problems like diabetes and Alzheimer's are also associated with overworking.

Taken together this also means that people who overwork have a much shorter life expectancy. Their risks of stroke, heart attack, heart failure, heart disease and many other ailments are dramatically increased. It is difficult to say how much this effects the longevity of people working long hours, but it is safe to say that people working 50 or more hours per week have an average shorter longevity than people working 40 hours per week or even 30 hours per week.

Here are some more facts for you:

The United States is the only country in the Americas that does NOT have paid parental leave. Canada and other countries in North / South America have an average of 12 weeks of paid parental leave. This effects the physical well being of adults working long hours and their ability to balance work and family.

134 countries in the world have laws setting the maximum number of hours a person can work in a week. The USA is one of the few countries without such a law.

Americans work 137 more hours per year than Japanese workers, 260 more hours per year than British workers, and 499 more hours per year than French workers. (According to the International Labour Organization.)

The USA has no federal law requiring paid sick days.

Most countries in the world have laws requiring workers to have at least 20 paid vacation days.

Many countries also have paid holidays. The USA has zero. Canada has 9 paid holidays.

I could just keep going. There are lots of facts and figures on this topic I could quote. But my purpose here isn't to tell people to work less hours. It is to encourage people to have more leisure time for the sake of their health and to hopefully have less stress. If you truly love your work and it is stress-free, or maybe you even love having a little stress, then maybe it isn't such a big deal that you work so hard.

But for many of you then you have probably already concluded that having more money doesn't make you any happier. Therefore I want to offer 12 steps you can take in an attempt to have less stress, live healthier and ideally also live longer and fuller.

After all, what is the point of working 50+ hours per week every week until you die at the age of 55 because you didn't take good care of your health? Wouldn't it make more to have more leisure time, take care of your health and live to the ripe old age of 95?

12 Steps to Live Longer, Healthier and More Stress-Free

#1. Do something every day that doesn't cost you any money and yet makes you happy. It might be spending time with your kids, taking the dog for a walk, or going for a nature walk with a friend.

#2. It is okay to ask your boss for less hours at work. The worst they can do is say no. They can't fire you for asking for less hours (because if they did, that would be grounds for a lawsuit).

#3. Remember to use your paid vacation time and/or sick days if you have them. Don't bother saving them up because otherwise you probably won't get to use them at all.

#4. If your work place has the option to do so, asking to work from home might be a good solution for you. Saves on travel time and most companies report higher productivity from people who work from home.

#5. If you have a baby and want to take some time off to spend time with your newborn, it is okay to do so. You might even wish to take extra time off which is unpaid, and that is okay too.

#6. If you somehow suggested to your boss that your entire company switch to a 6 hour work day (possibly with shifts from 9 to 3 and from 3 to 9) that would be just plain awesome. Your whole company, including your boss, would benefit and live longer/be happier as a result.

#7. Take siestas or naps if you get a chance. People who take naps in the afternoon live longer, have less weight problems and have less mental health problems.

#8. Pick a sport or activity you think you could still be doing into your old age and then do it regularly. eg. Dancing is a good activity for both young and old.

#9. When you feel overworked don't go straight for the junk food when you get home. Take your time and make something nutritious instead. The junk food may make you feel happier temporarily, but it is not good for your health or your long term happiness.

#10. Exercise regularly. You don't have to do it constantly, but you should make an effort to at least be doing something that gets your heart rate going. For best results pick exercises or sports that you enjoy doing and makes you happy.

#11. Work towards finding a job where you work less hours, have less stress and feel happier about yourself. Working just to pay the bills may keep bread on the table, but your long term happiness should be the primary goal.

#12. Be creative in how you spend your leisure time. Try new things. Avoid doing the same thing all the time, especially if it is something that doesn't actually bring you happiness.


I am reducing my work hours in 2016. Last month I started reducing the amount of hours I am currently working. I currently have an abundance of clients and have raised my rates twice in the last year.

My goal in 2016 is to be working 4.5 to 6 hours per day and only 4 days per week. I estimate I will be working approx. 22.5 hours per week. That may not seem like much, but when you consider I *currently* charge $50 per hour for personal training I would still be doing quite well.

As is normal for personal trainers, not every time slot gets filled so the total number of hours I will be working from week to week may vary dramatically, but ideally this will mean more time for me to focus on leisure activities... things like fishing, working on my skills in the kitchen, and woodworking. While still managing to help my clients achieve their fitness goals.

* I may be raising my personal training rate in 2016 significantly.

12 Ways to Enjoy Healthy Living while visiting Toronto

Hello Toronto and tourists visiting Toronto!

Here are a list of 12 healthy ways to have fun in Toronto. Enjoy!

#1. Summer? Go swimming at one of Toronto's many Blue Flag rated beaches. Or visit some of the local pools operated by Toronto Parks and Rec. Or better yet, go to Canada's Wonderland and hang out in the Splash Works all day long - swim all day and go on the water slides.

#2. While you are at the beach you can also do exercises, yoga, go jogging, take the dog for a walk - for those people who take their dog on vacation with them! For those who want more competition, have a beach volleyball game.

#3. Autumn? Go hiking. Now is a good time of year to visit one of Ontario's many waterfalls, especially in the Hamilton / Niagara area. Hike to Hilton Falls near Milton, Ontario - take the dog with you and your camera, because the trees at Hilton Falls during the Autumn will be incredibly beautiful. The hike to Hilton Falls from the parking lot is about 20 to 40 minutes depending on what route you take.

#4. Another great thing to do at Hilton Falls is bring your bicycle. The park has lots of bicycle trails you can use. Toronto and the surrounding area has literally hundreds of bicycle trails for you to choose from.

#5. Join a 5K run. Toronto has many marathons, half marathons, 10Ks 5Ks and other running events for amateur runners. During Spring and Summer there are sometimes 15 or more events each month. Consult to learn more about different events happening in Toronto.

#6. Winter? Lace your skates up and visit one of Toronto's many public ice rinks. My favourite to go to is the rink in front of the Toronto City Hall - I find they use the zamboni more frequently there and it keeps the ice in better condition, and that rink has multiple options nearby for hot beverages.

#7. Archery Lessons - Learn how to shoot properly with an experienced instructor. Contact me to sign up for archery lessons in Toronto. I even teach archery during the Winter, so if you are curious to learn more about Winter Archery Lessons please contact me.

#8. Archery Tag - Shoot arrows at your friends or friendly strangers at an archery tag event. Hint - It helps if you already know how to shoot properly. Visit to learn more about archery tag locations in the GTA.

#9. Join a Meetup group for a sporting activity on Nobody cares if you are not a local, they only care if you show up to the event. eg. has everything from indoor volleyball, badminton and a range of other activities to do.

#10. Tennis and Golf. Now I personally hate golf - I see it as a sport for people who like to sit in a cart and follow their balls around. But tennis on the other hand takes a lot of energy to do and I respect that. Regardless, Toronto has many tennis clubs and golf clubs to choose from, so if you bring your racket or golf clubs with you on vacation, Toronto has lots of options for you to choose from.

Note - So far I have only been listing exercises for things to do in Toronto. These last two are food based options.

#11. Take a cooking class. BlogTO and Groupon have lists of cooking classes you can choose from, many of which are about healthy cooking, vegan cooking, etc. So while you might not normally think of doing that while on vacation, it is still a fun option to consider. Toronto has literally hundreds of places that teach cooking. I know of one where their primary goal is actually religion and they offer vegan cooking lessons for a donation. That is pretty reasonable when you think about it, so if you don't mind people chanting Hare Krishna that is certainly an interesting option. (Those Hare Krishna people are really huggable and nice.)

#12. Go for a walk and window shop many of Toronto's fine restaurants until you find one that looks both interesting and healthy. Depending on the neighbourhood you are in this is harder than you would think. Some neighbourhoods have only restaurants that serve unhealthy / greasy food. But if you pick a good neighbourhood with lots of options you can not only work up an appetite with your walk, but once you pick a favourite to try you can walk back to that option and see just how good their food really is. If you want to speed up the process the neighbourhoods I recommend are:

East Danforth
Queen West, west of Bathurst
Eglinton West, west of Yonge
Yonge Street, north of Mount Pleasant
Queen Street East, north of Beaches
Toronto's Vegan Village (Bloor Street West, north of High Park, and the surrounding area)
Kensington Market

There are more, but these will get you started. Happy walking and eat healthy!

12 Ways to Get Extra Exercise

Finding ways to exercise when you are so used to taking the lazy way out can be tricky. Here are 12 ways to get extra exercise and to stop using the lazy way of doing things. Getting into the habit of doing these 12 things and you will burn extra calories and become healthier over time.

#1. Instead of chatting or texting with friends on your phone, go meet up in person and go for a walk together.

#2. Fire the dogwalker and/or gardener. Start walking the dog yourself and doing all the gardening yourself.

#3. Walk to the grocery store instead of driving. If the weight is too much to carry, get a little cart.

#4. Walk or bicycle to work if it is within a reasonable distance.

#5. Instead of picking up the kids after school with the car, walk to the school, meet them, and then walk home. Same goes with your morning routine of dropping them off.

#6. Jog to wherever you are going to for your lunch break. You can walk too, but definitely don't take your car.

#7. Don't email someone a memo if they are in same floor of your office building. Deliver the message in person.

#8. Fetch your own drinks or snacks when at work. Don't ask someone else to bring them to you. If someone offers to fetch them for you, ask to go with them. Eat healthy!!!

#9. If you have a gym membership but are feeling too tired after work to go to the gym, go anyway. When you are tired you should still go.

#10. Set your alarm clock so you get up 30 minutes earlier. Use that extra time to exercise.

#11. Want to relax? Turn off the TV and go for a relaxing walk outside instead. Take the camera or the family dog with you.

#12. Do the household chores yourself. Don't hire a maid or a cleaning service.

Oral Health connected to Overall Health

Now here is some interesting myth busting - your oral health is actually connected to your overall health, including your mental health.

Many people think that oral health is independent from the rest of their body - believing that they can have bad teeth and dental problems and that it is somehow separate from other parts of your body.

So let us start with some facts / interesting tidbits which will make you realize just how connected they are.

#1. One of the first side effects smokers get when they first start smoking is a yellowing of their teeth. If they brush regularly this won't be that visible, but over time this starts to wear down on their teeth as the chemicals released during the process of smoking wear down the enamel on their teeth - and enamel erosion leads to teeth loss. So if you can imagine dying of cancer, imagine being toothless and also dying of cancer.

#2. Bacteria in your mouth is normal. The problem however is that when you get too much bacteria in your mouth they start to produce acid which causes problems for your teeth - and when swallowed the acid harms your neck, stomach and lungs as the acid and bacteria spreads. People with poor dental hygiene are more prone to getting sick because bacteria spreads more easily through their system. They are also more prone to getting heartburn due to acid reflux.

#3. Various medications — such as decongestants, antihistamines, painkillers and diuretics — can reduce saliva flow. Saliva washes away food and neutralizes acids produced by bacteria in the mouth, helping to protect you from microbial invasion or overgrowth that might lead to disease.

#4. Oral bacteria and the inflammation associated with periodontitis — a severe form of gum disease — plays a role in some diseases. In addition, certain diseases, such as diabetes, HIV/AIDS, and others, can lower the body's resistance to infection, making oral health problems that much more problematic.

#5. Endocarditis is an infection of the inner lining of your heart (endocardium). Endocarditis typically occurs when bacteria or other germs from another part of your body, especially your mouth, spread through your bloodstream and attach themselves to damaged areas in your heart.

#6. Cardiovascular disease. Heart disease, clogged arteries and stroke are sometimes linked to the inflammation and infections that oral bacteria can cause.

#7. Periodontitis has been linked to premature births and low birth weight of babies, decreasing their chances of survival.

#8. Diabetes reduces the body's resistance to infection — putting your gums at risk. Gum disease is more frequent and severe among people who have diabetes. Likewise, people who have gum disease have a harder time controlling their blood sugar levels.

#9. Oral problems, such as painful mucosal lesions, are common in people who have HIV/AIDS and similar diseases.

#10. Osteoporosis — which causes bones to become weak and brittle — is linked with periodontal bone loss and tooth loss.

#11. Tooth loss before age 35 is a risk factor for Alzheimer's disease and a risk factor for other mental health problems.

#12. Sjogren's syndrome — an immune system disorder that causes dry mouth, which in turn leads to higher levels of bacteria and too much acid wear on your teeth.

A couple weeks ago I went to a new dentist near Rosedale - Archer Dental near the corner of Sherbourne and Bloor - and I was amazed at the form they had me fill out during my first visit. It covered a long list of medications for heart disease, diabetes and many other health issues that at the time I thought was unrelated to oral health care.

But evidently I was wrong. After all I am not a dentist. So I had to do quite a bit of research in preparing this post so I could learn why that form was so comprehensive with respect to other health conditions.

Now I feel so much more educated on this topic and decided to share some of my myth busting info with others.

So what can you do to improve your dental health / overall health? Luckily I have made a list.

12 things can you do to improve your overall health AND your dental health

#1. Brush 2 to 3 times daily.

#2. Floss daily.

#3. Eat healthier meals that .

#4. Eat healthier snacks in-between meals.

#5. Rinse out your mouth regularly with anti-bacterial mouthwash.

#6. Chew sugar-free gum (removes bacteria from your mouth).

#7. If you are a smoker, stop smoking.

#8. Replace your toothbrush every 3 to 4 months.

#9. Schedule dental checkups regularly.

#10. Find a dentist you actually LIKE (this improves your odds of going there). eg. I really liked Archer Dental (and not just because it has archer in the name) because they spent the time explaining things to me and made me feel really comfortable about what they doing with my teeth. I am actually looking forward to my next visit.

#11. Contact your dentist immediately if you have an oral health emergency. Don't delay and wait for it to get worse.

#12. If you don't have dental insurance from your workplace, look into getting dental insurance. (eg. Manulife Financial offers Coverme "Flexcare" health/dental insurance. This is not a promotion, I am just quoting the first company that came up when I Googled 'dental insurance toronto'.) Or failing that set aside money every year just for your dental needs, which is what I do. The latter requires more fiscal discipline.

12 Things People do on their Lunch Hour - and how it benefits you health wise

People do lots of things during their lunch hours. But what they do during those 60 minutes can have lasting effects on your health.

#1. Leave the Office / Avoid their Desk.

= Less stress = Less over-eating due to stress and better quality sleep due to lack of stress.

#2. Eat Healthy.

= Healthier bones, muscles, organs. Lots of benefits.

#3. Workout / Exercise.

= Burns fat, builds muscle and reduces stress, causes healthier sleep patterns.

#4. Have a Nap.

= Better quality sleep, reduced stress. Naps also make you more productive and energetic.

#5. Run Errands.

= Light exercise and you feel better about yourself having accomplished lots of things today.

#6. Read.

#7. Unplug their Devices.

#8. Network with Colleagues.

#9. Enjoy time with Friends.

6, 7, 8, 9 = Less stress = Less over-eating due to stress and better quality sleep due to lack of stress.

#10. Plan their Afternoon, Evening, Weekend.

= A well planned out schedule with time for exercise, time for play, time to accomplish things, and time to relax.

#11. Working during your lunch hour...

= More stress will cause you to overeat and effect your sleep patterns. Your lunch hour is meant to be a break for a reason, so you can eat, relax and recuperate. If you just keep working during your lunch hour you are just hurting yourself over the long term.

#12. Smoke

= Lung cancer and a host of other physical problems. Seriously, do you really want to have your happiness to be based on a nicotine addiction? Do yourself a favour, throw away the tobacco and never touch the stuff again. If you tell yourself you're not allowed to even touch tobacco products and your willpower is strong enough, you can quit cold turkey.

12 Steps of Becoming a Healthier Exercise Machine

#1. Eat healthy, and you will be better able to exercise more. Healthy eating = more energy, more muscle and your internal organs will be happier and healthier too.

#2. Avoid smoking and alcohol. The cigarettes just hurt your lungs and the alcohol damages you heart, liver and kidneys.

#3. Exercise a little bit every day. Even just 6 minutes of cardio per day can have a dramatic benefit for your overall health. Making the effort to exercise 6 minutes x 365 days equals 2190 minutes of exercise per year you would not have gotten otherwise.

A 200 lb person who jogs 6 minutes every day burns approx. 100 calories each time. That is 219,000 calories burned in 1 year. Or 62.57 lbs of fat burned. So yes, 6 minutes per day really can make a huge difference.

#4. Take up a sport that you can really sink your teeth into. No, I am not saying you become like Luis Suarez (soccer legend who likes to bite people), but I am serious about people finding a sport they love which gets them outside exercising at least once per week. And the sport could be anything - axe throwing, rock climbing, kayaking, cycling, competitive dog running, etc. It doesn't matter. Just do it.

#5. A little weight lifting never hurt anyone. You aren't going to bulk up like Hulk Hogan by lifting a few small weights. But you will build extra muscle (which is handy to have) and stronger bones - which will stave off osteoporosis in your old age.

#6. Eat healthy snacks that you love. eg. I love carrot sticks. I cannot get enough of them.

#7. Remember it is not your body that is stopping you from exercising. It is your brain that is too weak willed. Summon the courage and just exercise anyway, regardless of what your brain tells you what you can and cannot do. Start slow and let your body pick up steam as exercising becomes easier as the months go by. Before you know it you will be shedding pounds, adding a little muscle and tossing out your old clothes for new clothes that is tighter fitting.

#8. Be positive about yourself. The people who fail are often the people who are negative about their own abilities to succeed and thus sabotage themselves mentally. Stay positive, stay focused - if you fall off the wagon, just get right back on it without blinking an eye.

#9. "The journey of a 1000 miles begins with a first step." But you need to have the willpower to finish the journey, and the courage to keep going even when the going gets tough.

#10. Stop hanging out with people who insult you. They are not your friends. Make new friends along the way as you change your life for the better. Strangers are only people who have yet to either become a friend, a rival, or an enemy - and most people are not that bad and most likely enjoy having new friends.

#11. Share your exercise / sports passions with friends. Who doesn't want to take up axe throwing, rock climbing, kayaking, cycling, competitive dog running, etc?

#12. Hire a personal trainer in Toronto - because we make lots of free lists like this one just because we really care about the health of our clients. Want to become healthier? We can help you! I don't care if you hire me, but you can always hire someone - even a friend - who can help get you set on the path to healthy exercising.

12 Tips for being Happier, Healthier and Living Longer

#1. Eat your veggies - especially your favourite veggies - regularly.

#2. Enjoy sports that get you outside. They're fun and they're good for you.

#3. Stop worrying about what other people think about your choice of exercises. Just do them and have fun exercising.

#4. Try new things that get you outside and enjoying life in the sun.

#5. A little sunlight won't kill you.

#6. Enjoy your desserts, but don't drown yourself in them.

#7. The best parties are the ones where you drive home sober and extremely happy. (The worst are when you are too drunk and don't remember how you got there...)

#8. Being selfish and greedy with bacon will only make you lonely and fat. Sharing the bacon and keeping some in the fridge as leftovers, that is learning moderation.

#9. Golf was a sport invented by drunk Scots. Love it or hate it.

#10. Yoga will bring you more peace of mind and wellness of body. Don't diss it until you've tried it.

#11. Too much stress is never good for you. Learn to relax and unwind doing things that keep you active and alert.

#12. Spending time with family in the great outdoors is the best exercise a person can ask for.

12 Tips for Weight Loss Maintenance

So you've lost weight? Congratulations! You've completed half of your goal, losing the weight. Now you need to keep it off.

Tip #1. Make lifestyle changes if you want your weight loss to be permanent. Going back to your old routine just isn't going to cut it any more.

Tip #2. Drink lots of water regularly. It keeps your body clean of toxins. Avoid caffeine, nicotine products and alcohol as much as you can. When with friends, stick to one drink if possible.

Tip #3. If you regain weight at some point don't go on a diet, instead change your eating/exercise habits so that you make permanent changes. Fad diets are temporary band-aid solutions. Never go on a diet with food/a plan you KNOW you cannot eat forever!

Tip #4. Take a cooking course. Learning to make more healthy foods at home and expand your knowledge of what you can make and eat will allow you to maintain your diet more easily by having a broader range of healthy food options in your repertoire.

Tip #5. Set a caloric intake maintenance range. Your goal now is to maintain your weight, not to continue losing weight or go back to your old ways. Set a range, practice it for a few months and check your results, and once you know that the range works stick with it. After several months it should already be a habit.

Tip #6. Avoid dining out. Unless it is a special occasion you should not be dining out. Restaurant food / ordering take-out is a very quick way to break your habits - worse if you get into the habit of eating out regularly.

Tip #7. Remember to snack between meals - healthy snacks like fruit, salads, nutty granola bars, etc. This was you won't be overly hungry and binge later. Binging = weight gain.

Tip #8. Keep exercising at least twice per week for 30 minutes. Just because you lost all the weight doesn't mean you should stop exercising. Pick your favourite exercises and keep doing them.

Tip #9. Get involved in more sports that you enjoy doing.

Tip #10. Try new sports or activities that you always wanted to try. eg. Archery, boxing, rock climbing, fencing, snorkeling, windsurfing...

Tip #11. Go outside on dates more often. Regardless of whether you are married or single, dating activities such as picnics, throwing a football around, long walks on the beach - now is your chance to enjoy your new physique.

Tip #12. Get a dog and take the dog for walks twice daily. The dog will keep you healthy and it will give you an excuse to go outside more often.

Again, congratulations on achieving your weight loss goal!

Also I want to note that you should avoid going further and LOSING TOO MUCH WEIGHT. That isn't healthy for you either. What you want to do is to maintain your ideal healthy weight. Not too much and not too little. Below is an example of what happens when someone becomes too obsessed with losing weight and loses too much.

12 Exercises for Building More Sensitive Ears using Hearing Exercises

I have consulted a number of sources, including audiologists, who say it is impossible to regain your ability to hear better. The vast majority of them - well nigh all of them - say that hearing loss is permanent.

However having suffered hearing loss when I was a child, and regaining some of my hearing over the past 22 years, I must affirm that I think the scientific community is WRONG when they say it is impossible to regain some measurement of hearing.

To explain this I will be doing two things: 1. I will be trying to be as scientific as I can when explaining my ideas; 2. Some of my explanations will be based on conjecture and hypothesis, so I saying this now as an informal disclaimer so that people understand that some of my ideas may not scientifically accurate, but are instead based on my first hand experience. I was also be basing some of my exercises further below upon my research into zen and yoga techniques designed to improve hearing.

When I was 12 years old a shotgun shell went by my left ear and was so loud it caused hearing damage. I was temporarily deafened in my left ear. (There is a long story about how this happened, but I will spare you the details.)

I am now 34 and during that the last 22 years I have had my hearing slowly improve over time. Initially it was very quick. I went from being temporarily deafened to simply "severe hearing loss" / almost deaf in my left ear.

By the time I reached university in 1999 my hearing had improved somewhat, to the extent that combined with my perfect hearing in my right ear I was able to function most of the time. I would regularly need to ask people to repeat themselves because of my hearing difficulties, but I was able to cope 99% of the time.

Since graduating in 2003 my hearing has continued to improve over time, to the point that I would now describe myself as having only moderate to light hearing damage in my left ear.

However several questions remain... Did my ears physically heal over the past 22 years, or did my brain simply get better at interpreting the sounds it was receiving? I think it is a bit of both. I believe there was some initial healing process, wherein part of the damage to my ears was permanent - and the other part was simply temporary. It was the temporary aspect which healed up more quickly. After that had healed however I believe my brain has learned to compensate and use what little hearing I have in my left ear and has slowly improved with time.

Which brings me to why I think audiologists are wrong when they say it is impossible to improve your hearing using hearing exercises. They are only thinking in terms of permanent hearing damage - they are completely ignoring temporary hearing damage, and they are completely ignoring the possibility that the brain can learn over time to compensate and "hear better" based on what data it is receiving from the ears.

So yes, based on my personal experience you can improve your hearing over time - the trick is to heal any temporary damage to your ears, and to attune your mind so the hearing ability you do have is used to its full potential.

12 Hearing Exercises for Building More Sensitive Ears

Note: The first three are really more maintenance issues, so you don't cause further damage to your ears over time.

#1. Routinely check for a build-up of earwax.

Some hearing loss can be caused by excess wax in your ear canal. Snap a photo of your ear with a camera, or have a friend look into your ear with a flashlight. If you see impacted wax, do not touch it. Trying to dig it out yourself will only make it worse.

If the blockage isn't severe, try to wash it out yourself. (Note: Only do this if your eardrums don't have tubes or holes in them.) Use an eyedropper to put a few drops of baby oil, mineral oil or hydrogen peroxide in your ear to "soften" the wax. After a day or two, use a rubber-bulb syringe to gently put warm water into your ear. Tip your head to the other side to let the water (and wax) drain out.

If the blockage is severe, call your doctor or audiologist and make an appointment to have it removed.

#2. Make sure you don't have an ear infection.

If your ears are in extreme pain, see a doctor immediately to make sure you don't have an ear infection or ruptured ear drum. If these conditions are left untreated, they can permanently damage the hearing in your inner ear.

#3. Take measures to stop any further hearing deterioration.

Reduce your exposure to loud, sustained noises. If noisiness like this is part of your job try wearing specialty ear plugs or changing jobs. If you wear earbuds or headphones to listen to music, keep the volume low or moderately low. When encountering loud sustained noises protect your ears with your hands and move further away from the source of the noise. Try to reduce your exposure to high volumes overall, and you'll reduce future hearing loss.

#4. Don't talk so loudly.

If you have lost a significant portion of your hearing, speak in a slightly softer tone than you think you need to. It's common to overcompensate and talk loudly if you can't hear your own voice very well, but if other people can't hear you, they'll tell you to speak up.

#5. Use your hearing more.

Your brain's pathways are like rocky trails, gravel roads and highways. If you use part of your brain more often the extra activity (traffic) on those mental pathways will strengthen and expand. This is why blind people often have very acute hearing and sense of touch - they have been forced to use their hearing more and thus their mental pathways controlling the interpretation of sound has been rapidly expanded.

This is not going to turn you into some kind of superhuman listener (like the blind comic book hero Daredevil), but it will allow you to improve your ability to hear things - even despite minor or moderate hearing damage.

#6. Learn to identify sounds / Auditory Indexing.

According to Zen monks learning to identify sounds is one of the first steps in learning to better control your sense of hearing. The practice is known as "Auditory Indexing". Without identification a person can become confused, overwhelmed or frightened by the sounds they are hearing. By learning to identify which sounds are which they can hear the sounds, but tune out those sounds they recognize as being too far away, not a threat, of little interest, etc.

An hearing exercise you can do at home is to listen for sounds you cannot identify, and once you find a sound that you don't recognize go and see what it is. Memorize that sound. Start over again and listen for other sounds you don't recognize.

#7. Learn to control your mind and avoid distractions.

A person who is distracted by random thoughts will not notice sounds that are nearby them. Learning to control distracting thoughts is a complex process and first requires a person to let go of their mind before they can learn to control it. I strongly recommend reading the book "The Unfettered Mind", which is a small collection of essays / letters by the Zen monk Takuan Soho and deals directly and indirectly with the topic of how to control your mind. In the book Takuan Soho references Japanese swordplay (kendo), but that can be used as a metaphor for any task.

#8. Listen for your own heartbeat.

This is difficult for even people with perfect hearing to do, but it can be done. The sound of heartbeat is there, but it is being muffled by numerous other sounds. Late at night, in a quiet room it is a much easier task to hear your own heartbeat - but with practice a person can listen for their heartbeat even in a crowded room.

If you get bored of listening to your heartbeat you can also listen to your breathing, your stomach/digestive organs, and even the sound of yourself blinking. If that seems like too much of a challenge try making very quiet sounds with your feet or fingers - such as rubbing your fingers together - and listening / concentrating on that sound.

#9. Extended Hearing Exercise.

This exercise has its source in tantric yoga. To do this sit comfortably with your eyes closed. Imagine a series of circular ring emanating around you at fixed distances.

First listen to all sound coming from within a 3 feet radius of you. Identify each sound that is closest to you. Ignore sounds that are further away, even if they are louder, so that they become background noises. Each time you concentrate on a new sound briefly identify what it is. Footsteps, conversations, mechanical noises, the rustle of leaves, the buzz of insects, the sound of running water, the distant roar of the city.

Next expand your hearing range to 10 feet and concentrate on the sounds found within this range. Continue expanding in circles around you to include the surrounding room, the building, your neighbourhood and the distant sounds of the world beyond.

#10. Listen to music.

When listening to music - such as an orchestra - identify which musical instruments are making what sounds. Learn to tune out the sounds of the other instruments and only listen to the one instrument. Challenge yourself to try and listen to only one of the musicians at a time.

#11. Test your limits.

The human eardrum can hear sounds anywhere between 16 Hz and 20,000 Hz. Extremely low (bass) sounds or extremely high pitched sounds cannot be heard by the human ear.  High pitched sounds like a dog whistle can only be heard by a variety of animals because the frequency is so high its beyond the range of human hearing - but that doesn't mean you cannot attempt to hear similar high pitched sounds.

Testing the limits of your hearing may require the help of an audiologist doctor, in which case I can recommend an audiologist in Vaughan who gives free hearing tests.

#12. Hypnosis.

According to a variety of researchers people in a state hypnosis can hear sounds from extreme distances, such as the case wherein a hypnotized person could hear a constant hissing sound at 230 yards (0.21 km), whereas a non-hypnotized people typically could not detect the same hissing sound until they were within 30 yards of the source.

This suggests that experimentation with hypnosis and hearing could prove to be highly beneficial for someone who wants to retrain their brain to hear noises more acutely.

BONUS: Audio Calibration!

During this exercise the listening person stands in the middle of a room and imagines him or herself to be at the centre of a clock face: directly to the front would be Twelve O'clock, directly behind is Six O'clock, ninety degrees to the right is Three O'clock and so on.

A second person moves about stopping at random and calling out “Now”. The listener must then guess the direction and distance. So for example, if the second person is standing six feet directly behind them the correct answer would be; “Six O'clock/six feet”. When a correct answer is a point is scored, if incorrect, the second person says the correct answer so that the listener can associate the correct answer with the immediate auditory experience.

Once the listener can get 9 points out of 10 then they go to the next level of difficulty, for which the listener and second person come up with a slightly more difficult task - possibly by changing the volume of the sound, the distance to the speaker, the preciseness of the distance, adding extra background noises, etc.


Don't listen to what the audiologists are saying that you cannot improve your hearing. If you have only minor or moderate damage to your ears then there are plenty of ways to rewire your brain so you can function without full hearing capabilities. I managed to do it and my hearing only seems to be getting better the older I get.

The Twelve Steps of Becoming Healthier

Do you have a problem with eating too much and exercising too little? Many of us in North America have this problem, often the result of sitting behind a desk at work all day, eating out or eating poorly at home, and too much TV and internet and almost no exercise.

Learning how to self motivate yourself to exercise is tricky. Its easier to do it with a personal trainer (like me) or you can try the DIY method.

If you do try and go with the DIY method here is a 12 step approach to eating healthier and exercising more:

The Twelve Steps of Becoming Healthier

1. First you have to admit that you have a problem. Your over-consumption of food and your general unwillingness to exercise. Denying it by saying "I am not fat, I am just big boned!" or blaming your genetics is not going to help you.

2. Recognize that you can make small changes in progressive steps and turn your life around. There is hope.

3. Made a decision to stop eating everything just because its there and you're feeling depressed. Make a list of every reason you eat unhealthy food, a sort of moral inventory of eating when you depressed, angry, etc.

4. You need to have self-confidence and courage that you can do this.

5. Admit to your friends and family the exact nature of your weight problems.

6. Recognize your character defects that leads you to overeat and not exercise.

7. Seek answers for your shortcomings.

8. Made a list of all the exercises you enjoy doing. Especially exercises that require moving around a lot (cardio).

9. Seek out other people who have also had weight problems and learn from their successes.

10. Continued to keep track of your eating vices and work to control them.

11. Make a conscious effort to make your exercise workouts part of your daily routine and something fun that you look forward to every day.

12. Awaken yourself to the reality that exercising is more fun than watching TV and its something you can keep doing all the days of your life.


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