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Do this BEFORE you travel anywhere...
February 12, 2015

This is the everything-you-need-to-know-to-be-as-healthy-as-possible newsletter, brought to you by Kristy Russ, pharmacist and health consultant. I have close to 20 years experience in helping people improve their health.

I help people get healthy, and more importantly, stay that way so they're not miserable and just slowly dying for the last 20 years of their lives, which IS the "norm" today.

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Well, back to reality after a week in paradise :( As I sit writing this under a blanket, sipping hot tea and looking out at the snow falling, it's hard to believe that a week ago I was relaxing on a deck chair, sipping umbrella drinks and having to cool off in the pool every 20 minutes because it was just so darn hot. What a fabulous week of relaxation in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic- the resort we stayed at was absolutely beautiful and the people were ridiculously friendly and oh the weather... after 4 months of winter already, you can imagine the delight of this Canadian who loves the heat and sunshine!

The worst part of those types of vacations is having to come back to another 2 or 3 months (or often longer) of cold. Such is the reality of where we live... sigh... I believe I've lamented to you before about trying to convince my familty to move to warmer climates, so I'll spare you my tale of woe.

Of course in the pharmacy, we're dealing with a lot of people travelling right now as well (hey, it's what Canadians do at this time of year). Between that, and my own travelling experience, I decided that I should dedicate this newsletter to travel health. So many people don't even think of these things when they're planning their trip, so you need to know this.

Plus, I had a life lesson that was exemplified for me during my trip. It's something I know and have been trying to educate people about for the last decade. It still took me by surprise like it does to everyone, so read on to find out what it was and why it's important to you...

Health Tips Every Traveller Must Know

It never ceases to amaze me how little people consider their health when making travel plans (Okay, truth is it never ceases to amaze how little people consider their health EVER, but that's a topic for another day...)

In the pharmacy, I'm constantly dealing with people who actually think about it but way too late. This time of year is especially bad because everyone is escaping the winter.

So here's my health "To Do" list for you whenever travelling:

  1. Get vaccinations AT LEAST 1 month ahead of travel

    Actually, 6-8 weeks would be better, but 1 month is do-able. Depending on where you're going, you often need vaccinations to protect yourself. There are diseases you readily encounter in developing countries that are just not an issue in 1st world countries. Different countries may require different vaccines, so you need to check with a qualified health professional to see what you need. The way vaccines work, your body requires time to develop the immunity necessary- usually 1 month, so it's not something you can leave till a week or two before you go.

  2. Get travel health insurance

    This is especially something that Canadians never think of (because we're used to having our health care needs paid for). Trust me fellow Canucks, you DO NOT want to know how expensive health care is. Doesn't matter how healthy you are, you never know what's going to happen- accident, injury, heart attack... Of course it's never planned, otherwise you wouldn't be on vacation, but it happens all the time. Even a simple trip to the doctor for an unexpected bladder infection or toothache can be several hundreds of dollars. Many insurance plans include travel insurance also- be sure to check your plan to make sure it does and bring the information on how to access it with you. If you don't have insurance, you can purchase travel insurance for your trip through many companies for a nominal fee- usually less than $100.

  3. Bring slightly more medication than you need

    If you take regular medication, make sure you bring enough and a few days more just in case- stuff happens. Bring it in your carry-on luggage so there's no chance of it getting lost. Most of the time, it's sufficient to just have it in it's original prescription vial (with the pharmacy label on it), but double check with the local immigration prior to departure if you're going somewhere unusual. Get your pharmacy to give you smaller labelled vials if you don't want to take your entire supply.

  4. Bring medications to treat common travelling problems

    If you're going to another 1st world destination, you probably don't need to worry, as health problems are less likely and treatments are generally readily available. At this time of year, most Canadians are going south to sunny climates like Mexico or the Caribbean, so things like traveller's diarrhea and malaria prevention are quite likely.

    Here's what you should take for these destinations:

    1. antinauseant (like Gravol) for motion sickness or nausea for any reason. It can also be used for treating an allergic reaction or itch.
    2. antidiarrheal (like Imodium) AND prescription antibiotics to treat a severe case. These places have different bacteria in their water that our bowels aren't used to, which can cause some serious diarrhea that can ruin your vacation.
    3. antimalarial (this is prescription). Not necessary for Mexico, but other destinations carry a risk of developing malaria.
    4. bugspray and sunscreen. Yes bugspray- mosquitoes and sandflies can also ruin your vacation with the resultant itching. You can probably find these there but it's gonna cost you waaaaaay more.

Hopefully you already knew all this, but it always surprises me how many don't. For all the time, effort and money you invest in your vacation, you want to make sure you enjoy it fully.

No matter how healthy you are or how many times you've travelled, even to the same destination, with no problems, there's always a chance of it happening, so be prepared...

Which brings me to my personal experience for my vacation last week and the life lesson I learned:

I have travelled several times to a 3rd world sunny destination, ate at hole-in-the-wall restaurants where the animals roamed freely around you and the meals were prepared in less-than-sanitary conditions and have never had any issues. Imagine my surprise when on the 2nd day of eating at the 4-star resort with its well-prepared food and drinks, I came down with severe traveller's diarrhea. Thankfully, I came prepared and had the medications I needed to treat it, but the fact was my stomach was queasy the entire week. I still relaxed and enjoyed myself, but it definitely put a damper on things.

Here's the life lessons that were exemplified to me during that week:

  • You never think about your health until it becomes a problem. Then at that point, it becomes the most important thing in your life to get your good health back. I woke up every day disappointed that I still wasn't feeling any better and I would have to go through another day not fully enjoying myself.
  • Sometimes there's nothing you can do to get better- it's too late- you should have been smarter to prevent it. You beat yourself up over all the things you know you should have done before it got to this point, but never bothered or didn't get around to doing. For me, I thought about how I probably could have prevented it had I taken probiotics ahead of time and how I probably shouldn't have brushed my teeth with the tap water, etc.

    So many people know they need to lose weight, know they need to eat better, know they need to exercise but rationalize their way out of it because they're "fine". Guess what? For many, the first "symptom" that they're not fine is a fatal heart attack. Too late to change then...

  • No matter how healthy you are, it CAN happen to you
  • I'm the healthiest person I know, so I had a bit of resentment that my body "let me down". I faced reality though that I had been under much more stress recently than I had in a long time, so I know I need to change some things because obviously my body is not handling it well. (Of course the vacation was one of the stress-relieving things :)

    Again, I reiterate my previous point that you can't keep putting it off. There's never the perfect time, but this is the only body you're going to get.

So there you have it. I tell people about these lessons all the time. It was a good reminder that they really are true and important.

I hope I have inspired you to stop procrastinating and make the commitment to take care of yourself. To help you do that, I am once again offering you a complimentary health consultation to help you develop the strategies you need to make the necessary changes for lifelong health. Regardless of your problems- weight loss, chronic pain, low energy, disease... there is a solution and I'll help you beat it once and for all. Book your consultation now. I will need to limit it to the first 20 people who book- that's all my schedule will allow.

Whew! That turned out way longer than I intended (thought it was going to be super short today). Thanks for reading!

Another Grateful Customer...

"I highly recommend Kristy's program. I loved eating as much as I want and not having to count calories! I never felt hungry!

I've never felt so good about my body before. I lost 17 lbs and 4 pant sizes. Now that I'm 5 months pregnant with my first baby I feel so good about how I look and feel and still weigh less than my 'pre-program weight."
-Juleene K.

Because Laughter Really IS Good Medicine...

In honour of Valentine's Day...

A group of children aged 4-8 were asked what the meaning of love is. Some of their responses:
  • "Love is when a girl puts on perfume and a boy puts on shaving cologne and they go out and smell each other."
  • "Love is when you go out to eat and give somebody most of your french fries without making them give you any of theirs."
  • "Love is when mommy sees daddy smelly and sweaty and still says he is handsomer than Robert Redford."
  • "Love cards like Valentine's cards say stuff on them that we'd like to say ourselves, but we wouldn't be caught dead saying."
  • "When you love somebody, your eyelashes go up and down and little stars come out of you."
  • "It's when Mom sees Dad sitting on the toilet and doesn't think it's gross."

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