FIT Talk With Tania  

Fungi is no fun guy!

At the risk of sharing TMI (too much information) I'm going to share a little of what happened with my hubby earlier this summer.

As you may have guessed from the title, it's not something that would come up in polite conversation, but definitely something many people have experienced, especially in the heat of the summer.

We've had a pretty good summer so far. Yes, some rain, but then again we've not had the fires and smoke of recent years either. And we are still getting our fair share of heat, which I love.

Now, for those who are working in the heat and enduring all that comes with, perhaps not so much. In addition to the obvious things such as heat exhaustion, sun stroke and dehydration, sunny days and high temperatures can also bring out rashes and/or exacerbate existing skin irritations.

Enter my hubby.

My hubby is an automotive technician and his job requires he wear a shop uniform that is not very breathable. With the heat of summer, the last few years especially, he has experienced some real discomfort in the form of red, irritated, itchy skin in a few places.

This year, things escalated and became so bad, he asked to go see a doctor while we were on holidays. I did a little research before we went and came up with the same diagnosis as the doctor.

The nasty, angry, circular red blotches under his arms, around the waistband and in the groin area was not just a heat rash. It was a fungus. Ringworm, jock itch, athletes foot, whatever you want to call it, it's all the same. Names differ only because of where the rash decides to call home. And hubby had them all.

I'm going to back up just a little as there were some signs that we missed prior to the full-blown fungus outbreak that had we caught, would have prevented his extreme discomfort.

No need for anyone else to suffer, right? OK, so here's what I found.

Skin irritations caused by fungus do show up as angry, red, circular patches. And they can also be brownish spots or patches – like a darker pigmentation in the skin - or it can even be the reverse where there are white spots, as if pigment is missing.

These discolourations are sometimes mistaken for vitiligo. Some of you might know it as the Michael Jackson disease. And this is exactly what threw me off.

Several years ago, my hubby was told he had vitiligo. Which, after he decided to stop using the toxic creams and taking meds with the “may cause cancer” side effects, we successfully eliminated using an all-natural antioxidant product.

For a few months now, I'd noticed some white spots start to come back on his hands and then darker brown patches under his arms.

They didn't bother him, nothing was raised or mole-like and because of the diagnosis years ago I assumed vitiligo had returned. Especially since we had been unable to get that antioxidant product for a few years.

I just made a point to keep an eye on it.

Vitiligo is an auto-immune disease, which is an inflammatory condition. As antioxidants help get rid of inflammation, I just took it for granted that's what it was.

After this recent bout of fungus however, I'm seeing there are other factors as well.

Fungus can be contagious – we're all told to wear flip flops in public showers and on pool decks – but it can also come from within.

Too much sugar or yeast in the body, compromised or low immune function, toxins (because they tax the immune system) can also set the stage for a fungus to develop. How does it first show up?

You guessed it, a discolouration that looks like vitiligo.

Long story short, we targeted the fungus from within as well as topically. Back to high antioxidants to bring down that angry, red inflammatory mess, as well as a few other supplements to bring up immune function along with garlic capsules and oil of oregano, both natural anti-fungal treatments.

We also used tea tree oil and oil of oregano topically (the prescription cream ran out in two days) two or three times per day.

Within one week, the rash was significantly reduced and within 10 days, the brown discolouration patches under his arms had faded almost completely away. Compared to the two to four weeks that had been suggested it would take.

What can we take away from this? Our bodies are always talking to us, giving us signs of what is not working, and clues as to what we need to do to get back into balance and restore our health.

Do not assume that, just because you've had something in the past, what you're experiencing now is the same thing. And always look inward to alleviate an outward condition.

Keep the summer weight off

Six summer food hacks to keep weight off

“With a little planning and some swapping out of some ingredients, you can enjoy all your usual tasty summer treats without the extra pounds around the middle"

It's the August long weekend and that means:

  • camping trips
  • backyard barbecue parties
  • picnics
  • organizing guest rooms for family and friends to come and stay.

And, of course, food is a big part of all of these.

In addition to the fresh, local produce our Valley is known for, ice cream, wine tastings, and s'mores also often become regular fare throughout the summer months.

In order to keep tasty summer treats on the menu and pounds off your waist, try any one or all of these six simple summer food hacks and swaps.

Make your own ice cream and frozen treats

Blending frozen, sliced bananas with cocoa powder and a little stevia or maple syrup makes a great chocolate ice cream. Swirl in some peanut butter and you've got a real taste treat.

Or blend up almond or coconut milk with fresh local berries, a dollop of Greek yogurt and freeze in a popsicle mould for healthy, delicious popsicles.

Throw in a scoop of vanilla protein powder to either recipe and your kids can literally have ice cream for breakfast and popsicles for lunch when it's too hot to cook. Not only is this healthy, and saves you money, it's something you and your kids can do together.

Eat before wine tasting

Scheduling your wine tasting to directly follow a meal. When you fuel up with clean healthy proteins like chicken, fish or grass fed beef, good fats such as avocado or olive oil and choose loads of leafy greens and vegetables as your carb, you body is better able to metabolize the alcohol and prevent fat storage.

Pack it right.

Whenever we head out on the boat, out for a hike or out of town to go camping, what we eat is determined by what we bring with us. I'm not suggesting we ditch all the traditional camping and picnic-type foods, but there are definitely ways to make them healthier.

Ditch the traditional, vacuumed sealed “tubes of mystery meat” you'll find in the grocery store in favour of a gluten free, 100% real meat smokie you'll find at your local specialty meat shops.

The elk or turkey smokies from Johnny's Meats here in Rutland are my favourite.

Drink lots of water

When we're a quart low so to speak, the body sometimes sends us a hunger signal rather than a thirst signal, causing a person to eat when they really should be drinking.

Staying hydrated will quench those signals and you won't be as likely to eat the extra calories.

Celebrate with a fruit cake

And no, not the kind topped with marzipan and famous for being re-gifted. Watermelon, pineapple, cantaloupe, honeydew, can all be used to create a “cake” that's refreshing, delicious and helps you burn fat.

Simply removed the rind or skin from your chosen fruit (I like watermelon) and shape fruit to resemble a round layer cake. Slice as if it were a cake, pat sections dry and put back together.

Open a can (you may need more than one) of chilled, 100% pure coconut milk and scoop out the “butter”. Whip with a little vanilla and use it to “frost” the watermelon cake.

Decorate the top with fresh berries, sides with slivered almonds and serve.  Fresh, sweet and creamy, perfect for that backyard barbecue or when family comes to visit. It's also a fantastic swap for strawberry shortcake.


What can I say, if you're a camper s'mores are just part of the deal. The simplest way to decrease sugar and add a few nutrients to these iconic camping morsels is to swap out the marshmallow for a chunk of banana and opt for a chunk of organic dark chocolate over milk chocolate.

I know some people who even make their own gluten-free oatmeal cookies to replace the graham cracker as well for a total gourmet version.

Let's face it, summer gatherings are all about the food. And with so many opportunities to get together, having a few food strategies in place will help you keep off those extra pounds that you may not otherwise notice until fall.

This summer, why not try a few of these suggestions or create some of your own healthy hacks for your family?  And do consider sharing yours.

Feel free to email me your favourite hacks and swaps at [email protected] and I will post them for other to enjoy as well.

Confronting drug addiction

Health is arguably our most precious resource.

Physical, mental, emotional, financial, spiritual and environmental health all culminate together, resulting in our overall level of health.

Based largely on our personal choices - what we eat, how much we exercise, how much water we drink, how many z's we get in each night -- the level that is created allows us to either enjoy life, or suffer through it.

Along with the things we can control, however, come some that we cannot.

I'm talking specifically about changes to our environment, which we did not make and/or that are unable to change.

People who work and/or live in stressful environments are more susceptible to illness and disease, physical and emotional pain, depression.

Studies done back in the 1980s and '90s by psychologist Janice Kiecolt-Glaser and immunologist Ronald Glaser of the Ohio State University College of Medicine, studied med students and found stress from just a  three-day exam period, compromised students' immunity.

Their bodies almost stopped producing the immunity-boosting and infection-fighting cells needed to fight tumours and viral infections.

Just three days.

Now, imagine it's not just three days of exams, but every day and coming from the environment in which you live.

And, imagine it's not just one person being affected, but entire neighbourhoods.

Being in a constant state of stress causes the immune system to shut down, putting health at risk.This is true for individuals, families and communities as a whole living in areas where environments have been negatively impacted as addiction has become part of their landscape.

Drugs, overdose, crime, and fear have recently become a reality in many neighbourhoods across B.C.

You don't have to look far. If you live in Kelowna, and more specifically Rutland, you need only to look out your window, or down the street.

If you're fortunate to not have these issues in your neighbourhood yet, you've likely seen several news stories lately on homelessness, drug addiction, facilities being constructed, the resulting negative impact on the community and council's decision this week on how to handle it.

Some may call the verbal agreement council struck with BC Housing stating that a new social housing facility planned in Rutland will remain "dry," a win.

More of us see it as a Band-Aid.

The whole situation has clearly been stressful for all concerned.

We can see what drug addiction does to someone in terms of their physical health, and sometimes we see what happens to their mental health as well.

The constant and continuous stress inflicted on the body daily is recipe for disaster -not only for the addict, but for everyone around him/her. Nobody wins when addiction is present.

Addiction is defined as a psychological and physical inability to stop consuming a chemical, drug, activity, or substance, even though it is causing psychological and physical harm.

I'm quite sure no one's childhood dream is now or was ever to grow up and become an addict, lose everything and live on the streets. Yet, it happens.

There are many reasons people take drugs - some because they were prescribed, some as a poor choice.

But whether it comes via prescription or from the street, addiction is a real risk and the results are devastating.

So, what are the drugs in the opioid crisis? Prescription pain killers such as morphine, codeine, heroin, oxycodone, oxymorphone, hydrocodone, methadone, fentanyl are what's known as opiates.

Some are derived from the opium poppy, some are derived using chemical processing of the extracted opiate and others are created synthetically in a lab.

Some are more potent than others — fentanyl is 50-100 times more potent than morphine and 30-50 times more potent than heroin — but all are addictive.

Doctors often prescribed opiates to stop or manage pain. Opiates attach to proteins called opioid receptors found on nerve cells in the brain, spinal cord, gut and other parts of the body.

When this happens, the opioids block pain messages sent from the body through the spinal cord to the brain. Ironically, opiate addiction is physical and trying to come off actually causes extreme physical side effects and severe pain.

Alongside the opioid crises, methamphedemine or, meth, is another drug we are hearing about more often.

Although not physically addictive like opiates, meth is psychologically addictive. Meth causes an immediate rush of dopamine to flood the brain, triggering the pleasure/reward centre.

The intense pleasure is short lived. Subsequent highs are never the same as the first, causing the person to continue seeking that original sensation they will never experience again. And the addict is born.

Data reported May 15 on a Government of Canada website said "94 per cent of all opioid-related deaths in 2018 were accidental."

These people did not intend to die, but did due to an overdose or complication from their drug of choice.

The same website states "Western Canada continues to be the most impacted region of the country."

As with trying to solve any health-related issue, these statistics will only go down and neighbourhood environments will only be improved by getting to the root of the problem, rather than putting a Band-Aid on it.

The constant in all of the issues we are seeing an increase of - homelessness, increased property crime, theft, threats to personal safety — is addiction and the drugs that fuel it. That's the root.

Helping people conquer their addiction and restore health to their bodies and minds will restore health to neighbourhoods, communities, cities and beyond.

Overcoming addiction will never be accomplished by being in an environment surrounded by the very things that fuel it.


It's Time to Step Up

There's nothing like summer in the Okanagan. Long, lazy, sunny summer days spent at the beach, in the hammock under a tree in the backyard or relaxing with a cold drink on the deck.

Sounds wonderful, doesn't it? Everyone needs downtime.

But when those lazy days turn into weeks or even the entire summer, the excessive downtime now becomes a downturn in your health.

Especially repeated year after year.

Those who follow my FIT Nutrition page or are part of the 8 Weeks is All it Takes Facebook group, are already set up to ensure this is a non-issue. It all started in June when many of us took part in a 28 Day Plank Challenge.

The idea, started by fellow health coach Kate Sansum from Edinburgh, was to get as many people as possible doing something fitness related.

Some started at 20 seconds, some two minutes.

But the important thing was that everyone was able to improve their time, gain core and upper body strength, and even trim a few inches from around the waist.

So why stop now?

My thoughts exactly.

So I'm continuing this month with the Step Up Challenge.

Summer is the perfect time to get outside and enjoy this amazingly beautiful place we live in, so why not explore it?

  • Walk
  • run
  • jog
  • hike
  • climb.

You choose.

Staying active builds muscle, and maintaining strength is essential to optimal functional health. We all know that if you don't use it ,you lose it and being sedentary is a sure way to poor health. It's time to Step Up.

Active people are happier, less likely to suffer from mood swings or depression, they take fewer sick days, are better able to manage weight, and therefore have a lower risk for heart disease, diabetes and other lifestyle diseases.

They are less stressed, less likely to develop osteoporosis, stronger and have better balance, and they sleep better. And especially as we age, these conditions are huge factors in determining whether we continue enjoying life, or end up suffering through it.

But don't take my word for it. Let's find out what some experts who work with our aging population are saying.

Geriatric medicine specialist, Dr. Arun S. Rao from St. Mary's Medical Centre says that:

“...multiple medical problems over time resulting in frailty...(along with) changes in strength and musculoskeletal results in falls....”

As you may have guessed, falls are one of the top reasons people enter a nursing home or care facility.

Dr. Ted Achacoso, board certified in anti-aging and nutritional medicine, elaborates saying that injuries sustained from a fall, happened because the person tried to catch themselves and were not strong enough to support their own weight.

Remember those lifestyle diseases and mental health issues I mentioned earlier?

Senior care expert Anthony Cirillo reports that chronic lifestyle diseases such as COPD and diabetes are now rivalling falls as number one, and depression is surpassing dementia as reasons people enter a care facility.

Cirillo says:

“Some of these diagnoses are preventable if we start taking care of ourselves." 

And I wholeheartedly agree.

Another notable benefit for people who are active and in good health is they seldom require medications. Aside from the fact that every medication comes with its own set of side effects, they tend to affect seniors differently, often causing dizziness.

In fact, medication is the first thing geriatric specialist, Dr. Oluwatoyin Thomas, at Mercy Health, checks when one of her patients has had a fall.

If it wasn't clear to you before just how important staying active, building muscle and strengthening our bodies is, I hope the information shared here has been enlightening and you are inspired to Step Up and take action.

I love this quote from Paul Zane Pilzer:

“There's a small demographic of people getting healthier as they age.”

And the good news is, it's not an exclusive club. Regardless of your age, level of health and/or fitness, anyone can make improvements to their health and quality of life.

At 51, I can honestly say I'm healthier and stronger than I was 25 years ago and I make a conscious effort to do something about it every day.

If you're ready to get started creating a healthier, stronger, happier you, I invite you to go to 8 Weeks is All it Takes on Facebook and join the summer Step Up Challenge.

If it doesn't challenge you, it doesn't change you.

It's time to Step Up.

More FIT Talk With Tania articles

About the Author

Nutritionist Tania Gustafson, owner of FIT Nutrition, has been active in the health and fitness industry since 1986 when she entered as a fitness instructor and trainer.

In 2011, Tania partnered with internationally renowned nutrition and fitness expert Mark Macdonald, and in 2017 officially earned the title of Master Nutrition Coach in conjunction with Venice Nutrition and the International Board of Nutrition and Fitness Coaches (IBNFC).

Tania is one of only five health professionals licensed and certified in Canada to deliver this proven, three-phase program of blood sugar stabilization, not dieting.Tania is committed to ending the dieting madness both locally and globally and educates her clients on how to increase health with age.

Tania is able to work with clients across Canada, the U.S. and U.K. to restore health and achieve their weight loss goals.Tania is a wife, mother of three adult children, global entrepreneur, speaker, workshop facilitator, writer, blogger, podcast host, travel junkie and self-proclaimed gym rat.

For more information and to book your complimentary health assessment go to www.fuelignitethrive.com. Check https://www.facebook.com/fuelignitethrive/  and https://www.facebook.com/groups/8weeksisallittakes/

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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