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Monday, June 11, 2018

Tips for Finding Happiness


As a therapist, I see clients on a daily basis, who are struggling with anxiety and depression. Sometimes its due to trauma or crises, but often its more existential angst. Its kind of ironic that here in Canada (and in the U.S.) there are so many affluent people living with many privileges that most of the rest of the world does not have (clean drinking water, abundant food, human rights, peace, etc.), struggling so much emotionally. It is, in some regards, 'a first world problem' but that makes it no less serious.

Just last week, two celebrities, Kate Spade, and Anthony Bourdin, took their own lives, shocking the world. Why would such wealthy, successful people kill themselves?? The answer, of course, is complex and multifaceted. Mental health issues often have a genetic component, and in the case of Bourdin, heavy substance abuse was also involved. But there is a type of misery epidemic that I think is both culturally and historically specific. Never before have we lived in an environment that encourages/requires us to put ourselves on public display. Linkedin, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, online dating sites, etc., are public platforms we sometimes can't avoid (i.e. may be necessary for professional reasons). Everything about us has become subject to public scrutiny and given us various means of comparisons with others. Reality has become blurred. Like is anything about reality television real? Fake news versus real news, how do we tell one from the other? Social media...is it ever an accurate representation of a person's life? Can we ever trust an image we see, or has it been Photoshopped?

When I say existential angst, I am referring to my clients ranging in age from 20s to 40s, who are plagued with anxiety and depression due to perfectionism, self-doubt, low self-esteem and feelings of inferiority. Much of it is rooted in their (mistaken) belief that 'everyone' else is doing better than they are. Everyone else's lives are easier, happier, everyone else has more love, more money and more fun. Believe me, I have struggled with all of this...a lot! But I have managed to kick a lot of it to the curb through both personal growth and exploration, as well as from my experiences as a therapist. One thing I know for sure: no one's life is perfect! I don't think I have ever felt happier, but its not because I won the lottery or woke up one day looking like a supermodel (these are not things that lead to happiness anyways), its because I have changed the way I think.

Here are some things you can do, if you are struggling, to feel happier:

1. Stop aiming for perfection. Perfection is like unicorns, it does not exist!

2. Be flawsome. Since flaws/imperfections are inevitable for anyone and everyone, own yours, acknowledge that you can be flawed and awesome, and flaunt it. By flaunt it, I mean let go shame. We all have flaws, we all have weaknesses, we all fail sometimes, we all make mistakes.

3. Stop comparing yourself with others! OMG, social comparison comes up as a source of angst ALL THE TIME! Nothing good comes from it because few people look below at how much they have to be grateful for, instead, they only look up at who has what they do not....or 'seems' to have what they do not. Remember, you really know little about another person's life, especially if you are judging it based on Instagram images!!

4. Following from #3, Practice gratitude. We tend to fixate on what we do not have often dismissing all the blessings we do have. Force yourself to acknowledge them once in a while!!

5. Learn to accept uncertainty. I am not saying this is easy, but its critical because uncertainty is an inevitable part of life. Science and technology has given us control of many things we did not have control over in the past, but there are still many things we cannot control and cannot anticipate. This is a huge source of anxiety for many people. The more you can accept it, the happier you will be because the only certainties in life are death and taxes.

6. Stop Caring What Other People Think. This is hard for many people too. Ultimately, one of the things most of us worry about most is how we are being evaluated by 'them'. The irony is, everyone is so worried about this, that they are far more critical of themselves than anyone else. In other words, most people are so busy worrying what you are thinking about them, that they are not negatively evaluating you at all. And if they are, who gives a shit anyways?

So to quote Bobby McFerrin, "Don't Worry, Be Happy."

Monday, June 4, 2018

Quinoaplex R3 Rapid Hair Renewal Formula: Product Review


I am a protein junkie. I used to be a carb junkie but over the past 6 or so years that's changed dramatically. I don't know why exactly, but I suspect its because of the shift in my workouts from more cardio to more strength based. I think my body is just craving what it needs.

Apparently my hair needs protein too.

I have curly hair, which is already dryer than straight hair, and its a wee bit damaged from all the flat ironing. So I use deep conditioners and have a bunch of hair products to try and compensate, but I am always looking to make my hair less dry and damaged (but not flat ironing is not an option!).

Is protein treatment for damaged hair legit? I did a bit of research and did find evidence in peer reviewed journals that it can, indeed, help repair damaged hair, which has lower protein levels.

Recently Art of Carer sent me their Quinoaplex R3 Rapid Hair Renewal Formula to try. It is supposed to rebuild damaged hair and guards against colouring/bleaching, heat styling, hair loss/thinning, UV damage, sea/salt/chlorine, and wind/pollutants.

Quinoaplex R3 Rapid Hair Renewal Formula is also:

  • Certified organic ingredients including quinoa protein and aloe vera
  • Free from silicone, sulfates, parabens, phthalates, DEA, and aldehydes
  • Gluten-free; GMO-free; Toxic-free
  • Hypoallergenic, suitable for asthmatics
  • Not tested on animals
There are several ways to use it:

1. Use as a scalp treatment- Apply several pumps, wait 10 minutes and rinse.

2. Restore protein - After shampooing, apply, lather, wait 15 minutes, rinse, condition.

3. Add a few pumps to your hair colour before applying.

4. On the go - Spray into clean hair.

Well you know me, I had spending time on fashion/beauty (the children call my fashion look, 'sporty'), so I chose the On the Go option. After my shower every morning, I spray a few pumps in a comb in through.

The claim is that you can see/feel a difference after one use. I did not. Because of the On the Go method? I did like the light fragrance, fortunately, because I was worried it would smell like quinoa, and I think the smell of quinoa while it cooks is actually putrid (as are quinoa flour and quinoa flakes).

But by about the 2nd or 3rd use, I did start to notice a difference. Its now been 2 weeks since I started using it, and even though its crazy hot and humid here, I have much less frizz and need less product in my hair. It truly does feel softer and healthier too!

You can purchase the Rapid Hair Renewal Formula for $55.00/4 oz online, though they seem to be only shipping to the U.S. right now.

So do I recommend this product? Absolutely...if you have the $$ for it.  Apparently you can make your own protein hair treatments at home using either eggs, yogurt, or avocado/mayo.

Disclosure: I was sent this product to review, but all opinions on this blog are my own.

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

More Cathe Fitness DVD Reviews

Yes, I am obsessed with Cathe! I do her workout DVDs several times a week for sure. They are what I usually do when I want a tough workout. Here are 3 more I've been enjoying.

Athletic Step

I got this one hoping it would be in the style of step aerobics that I used to teach: simple choreography with a focus on intensity.



Well...its got the intensity, but that is compromised by having to stop frequently to try and learn the choreography.If you are one of those weird people who likes complex choreography that takes weeks to learn, you may not even find this challenging enough in that way, but for an uncoordinated person like me, who also has difficulty focusing during workouts (I tend to daydream) it will be more than enough. I can follow it enough that I don't get super frustrated, and I like the challenge of forcing myself to focus rather than zoning out. Its a solid 45 minute workout. My only complaint is her cuing. In my opinion, the more complex the choreography, the more you need to cue moves ahead of time. I think she expects you to just stop and watch until you really know it, but to me, that defeats the purpose of doing a workout!

To the Mat: Legs & Glutes

On Saturdays I often do a leg focused DVD before doing my heavy lifting, because Saturdays my strength training is nothing but LEGS! I thought this would be a nice way to change it up, since I find myself doing my Jillian Michaels' Killer Buns & Thighs quite often, and I don't even like it.



I do like this one, but I do prefer ones that use heavy weights. This is mostly high repetition body weight work, however, resistance bands and a stability ball are also used. It definitely works your muscles though, so its good if you don't have any weights at home.

X Train: Tabatasize

Tabata, in case you don't know, is a type of HIIT training where you push all out for 20 seconds and rest for 10 seconds. I don't know if all circuits are intense enough to truly be tabatas, but I do love this workout.


The moves are high intensity, and simple, so I can easily daydream 😀 . There are 5 rounds, with exercises all on the floor, but then a 'blast' on the step. The step blasts are also simple, so no getting confused by choreography. The DVD also has 2 rockin' ab routines and 2 back routines. Love this DVD!!

I have several more Cathe DVDs that I've purchased in the past few months that I will review in the near future. If you do home workouts, I urge you to check her out. They do have streaming for those of you who don't use DVDs.

Monday, May 21, 2018

Crispy Chocolate Squares


Do your kids claim they love some food, and gobble it down like little hippos for a few days or weeks, only to one day shriek at you for daring to serve it to them because its so gross? Well bully for you if they don't. Mine do.

This is the reason for this recipe having such large quantities. I was trying to use up all the brown rice crispy cereal we had in the house after Little A decided she no longer likes it. Feel free to half recipe, but I will tell you, these squares will disappear quick, so you might want to make a lot. These were a huge hit in our house. Nevertheless, I will not be making them regularly. They are definitely healthier than the marshmallow kind, but these are still a treat. For those on a restricted diet, you will be happy to know they are both vegan and gluten-free.

Crispy Chocolate Squares

12 cups brown rice crispy cereal
1/2 cup coconut oil
2 cups chocolate chips (semi-sweet, vegan if necessary)
1 tsp pure vanilla extract

Melt oil in a very large pot over low heat. Stir in chocolate chips and vanilla and keep stirring until smooth. Leave pot on burner but turn off heat and let cool a few minutes. Stir in cereal and mix until well coated. Firmly press mixture into 2 8x8 square baking pans. Refrigerate until firm. Cut into squares. Keep stored in a sealed container in a cool, dry place, or in the fridge. Makes 24 squares.


Monday, May 14, 2018

Can You Workout Everyday?


The vast majority of North Americans don't even come close to getting the MINIMUM recommended physical activity to maximize health. We are not even talking training level exercise, we are just talking about movement that includes walking!

As you know, this makes me nuts. The number one way to lower your risk of pretty much most physical and mental illnesses is to exercise regularly! But research has shown that even educating people around the risks of being sedentary, and the benefits of exercise does not do much to motivate people nor increase adherence to exercise programs. As cynical as it sounds, I've pretty much accepted that humanity's future is grim when it comes to our health. The only way to really promote lifestyle change of populations is through changing the way we live from the top down (i.e. government, institutions, and business completely changing policies and infrastructure). I don't see this happening. Too many people are profiting off of us getting fatter and sicker.

The problem is, we humans adapt to our environment and look for ways to conserve energy, and we currently live in an environment that encourages consumption of high calorie/low nutrition food and a sedentary lifestyle. If our environment doesn't change, we never will (though some are able to resist the temptations through human agency, but this is not the norm).

Because of all this, over training is not really a major public health issue. It is relevant to a very, very, VERY small segment of the population. It primarily effects high level athletes and those with eating disorder/body image issues who may over exercise to manage their weight.

Anyone educated in fitness/physiology knows the importance of rest in a training program. Not only does it help prevent injury, it is essential to get maximum gains, since muscles rebuild during rest phases, and this is necessary for building strength.

So how much exercise is too much?

The answer is, it depends on numerous factors.

In the fitness industry, we design exercise programs around the FITT principle (in parentheses are examples of each):

F = Frequency (5x week)
I = Intensity (Moderate)
T = Time (30 minutes)
T = Type (cycling)

These variables are key in determining how often is appropriate. Also, it depends on how you define a rest day. Some people only think in extremes, so its either go to the gym and spin and lift weights, or do nothing at all except drink Manhattans and eat tacos. It doesn't have to be so all or nothing!

I believe most people should be trying to exercise every day if, as most do, they work sedentary jobs. But in most cases, it is best to vary your activities. A lot of people who do decide to begin a fitness program tend to focus exclusively on one thing (i.e. cardio, or yoga, etc.). Ideally, you want to incorporate all the components of physical fitness which includes:

Agility
Balance
Cardiovascular Endurance
Coordination
Flexibility
Muscular Endurance
Muscular Strength
Power
Reaction Time
Speed

Don't let this long list intimidate you! You can work on more than one in a single workout.

One of the reasons people often get injured is not the number of hours they are exercising, but because they are doing too much of one type of exercise, and not cross training. Like even someone training for a marathon can benefit from doing strength training and yoga, instead of doing nothing but running.

Does exercising every day mean going to the gym every day?

Absolutely NOT!

In fact, I think its better if you can seamlessly work activity into your day instead. Perhaps you only go to the gym and strength train twice a week. Then one day a week you walk 5km home from work. Perhaps another day you do a yoga video at home. Another day you and a friend go jogging together and the other 2 days you do a 30 minute ab video when you get up in the morning.

Or you never set foot in a gym at all.

So exercising every day can definitely lead to overtraining, if, say, you are doing a spinning class 7 days a week, or running 12km every day. But exercising every day can be extremely beneficial if you have a balanced workout program that varies the FITT variables and has a good balance of physical fitness components.

When it comes to strength training, you should give a muscle 48 hours rest before working it again. But you can still strength train every day, you just work different body parts on different days ensuring sufficient recovery time for each. For example, you do shoulders, back and chest one day, arms and legs the next.

Capiche?






Monday, May 7, 2018

Spring 2018 Favorites

Good morning! Here is a roundup of the things I am enjoying right now.

First off, given all the horribly disturbing things going on in the world, including in my own city (i.e. Yonge St. Van Massacre), I have been grateful for this hilarious book:




Its about a guy with Tourette's syndrome who works for a Brooklyn gangster. Every night while I read it in bed, I am in tears, laughing out loud. But you need a certain sense of humour for it. My neighbour gave it to me and she didn't like it at all.

Given that I get up at 5am to workout most mornings, I am a bit fuzzy when I start my workouts. Since I am a freak who has vivid dreams every single night, whenever my alarm goes off, I am ALWAYS deep in REM sleep. Coffee is not an option to shake out the cob webs at that point because I find it dehydrating and hard on my stomach, but this Mr. Hyde Zero does the trick.


I am not particularly responsive to caffeine, so it must be the other ingredients that give me the kick in the pants I need.

I recently realized that I can't find about 2/3 of my lipsticks. Now that the weather occasionally allows me to bike to work, I am often switching between a purse (when driving) and my backpack (when cycling) so I am transferring things back and forth and this leads to things going missing. Thank goodness I am not one of those women who has a million different purses and bags and changes every day depending on their outfit! I would never be able to find anything!! In any case, I bought this lipstick recently and it rocks:

Not only is it very reasonably priced, but this NYX Liquid Suede stays on better and longer than any lip product I have ever owned. The only thing I will warn you about, is that it dries fast, so if you apply it wonky (which I usually do), you gotta fix it up ASAP or it will stay that way until the day you die!

I am also obsessed with this Power Fruit Blend from PC. Frozen fruit is a life savor for anyone who lives in the northern hemisphere. Winter is not a time when buying fresh berries makes any sense at all. They will be imported, cost a fortune and taste like crap. Our freezer is always full of various frozen varieties. This is my latest favorite:

You could use it for smoothies, but as you know, smoothies make me want to barf. I make compotes and sauces with this using konjac. Then I top waffles or pancakes, or mix it with Greek yogurt and homemade granola. Amazing! I love the combo of cherries, blackberries and blueberries. Most other brand similar mixes have strawberries, which I don't always want in the mix.

So here you go, the little things that are making me happy these days. And hopefully, now that we are into May, spring is actually here...and here to stay!

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

What We're Watching


As you likely know, we are old school in this house when it comes to technology and media. It was very recently we stopped using our VHS recorder.

We are the only people I know who do not have Netflix. That's right, we don't have it and never have. First off, we were born in the 70s, and secondly we definitely NOT early adapters. Obviously. Third, there is some great television you can get without Netflix thank you very much!

But Adam and I love television. We PVR (we finally PVR!) a whole whack of shows and then usually watch an hours worth an evening as our unwinding time together.

Here are the shows we love, some which we've been watching a long time, and some that are brand new to us:

The Good Fight
Law and Order SVU
The Good Doctor
The Resident
Criminal Minds
Blue Bloods
How to Get Away with Murder
S.W.A.T.
Black List
Code Black
Chicago Fire
Blackish
Brooklyn 99
Kim's Convenience

Here And yes, because we only watch either 2 of the half hour shows, or one hour long show a night, on the nights we are both home to do so, we are generally months behind what is airing live. But we don't really care. These are all great shows.

I figure by the time we are grandparents we will have Netflix.

I highly recommend every one of these shows, though if you have Netflix, I don't know if you have access to them. I don't anything about that kind of stuff. So figure it out for yourself.