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Monday, April 15, 2019

Things I am Loving: Spring 2019 Edition

It is ironic I am writing this on a day that does not feel like spring at all (04/11/19). It is cold and gray and has been snowing. Tomorrow it is supposed to go up to like 15C and rain...at least it is warming up! I am hoping when this post goes live, it actually does feel like spring!

I did not get sick once this winter! I was feeling very smug about that, and thinking maybe it was because as soon as flu season started, I began using my Navage Nose Cleaner again. Typically I just rinse my sinuses with a squirt of Hydrasense, but after getting the flu last winter, I decided to get out the heavy duty artillery this winter. Unfortunately, the girls brought home a nasty cold last week and even the Navage was no match for it. so my hubris was rewarded with a very sore throat, headache, and laryngitis. In any case, the Navage is indispensable when you are sick! Just imagine being totally stuffed up and having this thing suck all the snot and mucus out!! Its awesome.



I am also loving these new full finger weight lifting gloves I got.



I got a pair before but the palm was a very slippery material. WTF? Holy design fail! I have had to switch to full finger gloves as I have started lifting bigger, heavier weights. I was just having trouble gripping and getting callouses on my fingers (as opposed to my palms). These make a big difference. They are men's and the small is a bit too big, but its fine.

I just recently have gotten into podcasts. I spend so much bloody time cutting up fruits and veggies and prepping meals, I figured I should do something productive with my brain while I do it. I mostly listen to psychology podcasts that can inform my therapy practice. One of my absolute favorites is UnF*ck Your Brain.




The host is a life coach, but her work is grounded in cognitive behavioural therapy, which is my jam. It is so good and I recommend it to many of my clients!

I am currently obsessed with this smoked herring. Make fun of me if you will (Adam and the kids do), but I love this stuff and I often eat it for breakfast. I know, its high in sodium, but hey, its also got lots of good Omega 3 fats! My family hates the smell. I don't care, I will never give it up!

Back to fitness, my friend turned me on to Blogilates. It is a whole fitness site run by fitness professional, Cassie Ho, from Los Angeles. Her workout videos are the best! They range from 5 minutes to 45+ minutes. For my clients trying to find an easy, convenient way to fit in workouts, I have been recommending Blogilates.


Cassie is a total cutie, and she doesn't take herself too seriously. She also has some really cool moves, I love her ab videos!

Quite a hodge podge I've put together huh? Enjoy spring and take pleasure in the little things.

Monday, April 8, 2019

Eat Cleaner: Product Review


One of the biggest frustrations I have with the wellness industry (aside from all the bullshit people sell with zero evidence of its efficacy) is its elitism. Eat all organic! Grow your own food! Buy everything from independently owned small local shops! Its not that I do not see the value in all of this, the problem is, few people can really do these things.

Its not a coincidence that there is a strong correlation between health and socioeconomic status. Most North Americans cannot afford to live on a big property where they can grow their food, they cannot afford to buy organic food, and they cannot afford to replace their daily cup of joe for a turmeric latte.

There are certainly many ways to eat healthfully on a budget as I have outlined in past posts. Buying organic food on a budget can be tough. Does washing conventionally grown fruits and veggies remove pesticides? Apparently it can definitely reduce the amount of residue (See link).

What about special fruit and veggie cleaners, do they make produce safer to eat? Most have been deemed no better than plain water, so I was intrigued when Eat Cleaner sent me a sample of their product, that is the only patented, lab proven produce wash on the market.

Eat Cleaner Fruit + Veggie Wash supposedly has 3 benefits:

1. Removed dirt and soil that may contain bacteria
2. Removes pesticides, chemicals, wax and heavy metals
3. Keeps product fresh for up to 5x longer  (definitely a way to help reduce food costs!)

To use it for produce you want to consume right away, you just spray it on, leave it for 2 minutes and rinse. If you want to just extend your produce's shelf life, spray, dry and place in the fridge.

It contains:

Purified water
Citric acid (Vitamin C)
Sodium citrate (a salt of citric acid)
Sea salt
Vegetable glycerin
Cancium ascorbate (an antioxidant)
Decyl-glucoside (an all natural vegetable surfactant)


Eat Cleaner wash is vegan and gluten-free and made in the US.

I tried in various fruits and veggies but for eating immediately and for storing. It has no taste or odor. It is actually very useful for our family given how much produce we consume. We also get our fresh produce twice a week at our local market and often chop and prepare it for the next few days worth of meals. Its wonderful to have a product that keeps things fresh longer. We don't tend to waste much (as you know food waste makes me bonkers!), but things like berries go bad very quickly, and lengthening their freshness is helpful.

Though people tend to worry about pesticides, harmful bacteria from produce can cause serious illness (remember the recent romaine lettuce scare?), so its great to have a product to lower the risk.

Eat Cleaner Fruit + Veggie Wash is available in US stores and online and prices are reasonable ($21.99USD for 3 spray bottles). They also ship to Canada.

So do I recommend this product? Absolutely. Its definitely less expensive than eating 100% organic, and can save you money by reducing food waste.

Disclosure: The company sent me the product to review but all opinions are my own.

Monday, April 1, 2019

You Should Read Books


I have adored reading since I learned how around age 5. I remember spending hours all through my childhood in my room reading novels. Before I became a teenager I was even happy to re-read my favorite books over and over again.

Obviously, I still love to read as I post a lot of book reviews. There is not a single day that goes by that I don't read. If not while on the subway to and from work, then for certain in the evening before bed. There is nothing I would rather do (actually nothing I am really willing to do) after 8pm, then curl up and read.

Lately, I have felt more pressure to tackle the growing list of books I want to read to help inform my work as a therapist. Since there is only so much time in a day, I decided to start reading them at night instead of fiction/literature. At first I was worried it wouldn't relax me the same way as purely pleasure reading does, but I am happy to say it seems regardless of what I am reading, it is the perfect activity to relax me just before falling asleep. Lately I have been reading everything from memoirs, to historical fiction, to existential philosophy and psychological theories.

I do not understand when people say they don't read. Like exercise, its good for the mind, body and soul!

There is evidence that reading can:

Lower stress

Preserve brain health and lower the risk of Alzheimer’s and Dementia

Alleviate anxiety and depression

Help you fall asleep

Increase life expectancy

Boost happiness and overall life satisfaction

Reading accomplishes all of this by activating your mind, providing an escape from day-to-day life, and offering refreshed perspective for life’s challenges

A common complaint I get from a lot of my clients struggling with anxiety, low self-worth and depression is that "everyone" is doing better than them. Usually it's something like:

"Everyone else has a happy relationship"
"Everyone else gets pregnant easily"
"Everyone else has more money/a more successful career than me"
"Everyone else is thinner/prettier than me"

The clients who usually have this perspective, by the way, are not the ones in very low paid jobs, living in dingy, basement apartments and are unusually unattractive. The problem is, they consider the few people in their proximal environment as representative of "everyone". Reading is one of the ways to get beyond your own narrow view of the world, because all of us can otherwise get sucked down the "everyone else" vortex.

Reading is a great way to get out of your own life, learn more about yourself, others, and the world. Hey, maybe you can't visit every country on the planet, but you can read about them! You can read books to learn, to entertain, to relax, to laugh, to escape, you name it. While many people use social media/the Internet for these reasons, it is NOT the same. There is growing research about the harmful effects of spending too much time on screens, and the benefits of reading (paper) books. So, ideally, skip the e-reader too.

Do you really think spending hours each day posting selfies does as much good as reading? Even passive scrolling of others' selfies does little good. Put your phone down, and pick up a book!





Monday, March 18, 2019

CBD Living Water: Product Review


You can find water these days infused with just about anything from vitamins to protein, so I guess its no surprise you can now get CBD infused water. Or perhaps its more appropriate to say cannabis is turning up in everything from gummy bears to beer, so why not water? Now that cannabis is legal in Canada, the country is going crazy for any and all cannabis products.

What is CBD? It is one of the chemicals found in cannabis, like THC. Unlike THC, however, CBD does not cause a high or intoxication. But it is used for a number of therapeutic purposes.

I actually got a prescription from my doctor for CBD oil for my migraines. But it doesn't work for me (so far NOTHING works for my migraines). Aside from pain, CBD  is used stiffness, inflammation, for various dermatological conditions, and anxiety reduction. There is research being done to explore its potential benefits for diabetes control and cancer prevention and treatment as well.

CBD Living Water  is made by CBD Living, producer of all things CBD. According to the company:

CBD Living Water is made using nanotechnology, in which tiny nano-sized CBD molecules are infused in approximately 9+ pH water. This production method ensures the highest bioavailability on the market and easy absorption into the body.
CBD Living Water helps the consumer maintain homeostasis in the endocannabinoid system. The CBD infused into our water acts on CB1 and CB2 receptors to reduce pain and inflammation, decrease stress and anxiety and improve mood. 
The CBD they use is 100% and a 17 ounce bottle is $5.99US.

So, what does it taste like? Very much like water. How did it make me feel? Very hydrated.

But few substances have a strong effect on me (THC is another story, it makes me freakin' paranoid!). I cannot say I noticed feeling any more relaxed than usual but then again this past week has been extremely stressful, so it is possible I might have felt more stressed had I not been guzzling 2 of these suckers a day.

There are a few things that are potential issues with CBD Livng Water. The first is it comes in plastic bottles, which I think we all know is pretty terrible for the environment. Second, it costs $5.99 a bottle! Of course, most CBD products are extraordinarily expensive, so this is no surprise.

So do I recommend CBD Living Water? Hey, if you have the cash for it, and will donate the same amount to an environmental protection agency, and feel you get a big benefit from it, well go for it. As for me, I will go back to my tap water and Sodastream.

The company's CBD infused chocolate, however, looks delicious!

Disclosure: I was sent the water to review by the company, but all opinions on this blog are my own.




Monday, March 11, 2019

Aleva Naturals: Product Review


As consumers become more aware of the potential harm of standard cleaning products to our health and to the environment, the demand for better options is growing.

We purchase mostly green and non-toxic products and our cleaning service that comes every other week use mostly vinegar and baking soda.

Parents, in particular, are usually concerned about the cleaning and self-care products in their homes because of how it may affect their children (who tend to crawl all over, touch everything and eat off the floor!). Strong scents and toxic fumes are also things people generally want to avoid.

Recently, I was sent a number of products from Aleva Naturals to try. All of their products are non-toxic, vegan, organic and cruelty-free.

Aleva Naturals produces baby care products, baby-safe household cleaners, and maternal care products. They sent me their Bottle & Dish Liquid in Water Lily scent, their fragrance-free Multi Surface Spray, Foaming Hand Wash in Water Lily scent, and their Stain & Laundry bar.

The Bottle & Dish Liquid is a pump, which was a first for us. I can see how this is useful for bottles, and I did like that I could pump it right into our dish brush, but Adam found it a pain. He didn't like that it required 2 hands, nor did he find it was good and producing suds.

The Multi Purpose Spray works great for kitchen clean up, however, I prefer products with nice scents. For anyone with sensitivities to fragrances, this is a perfect option.

I usually don't like foaming soap, but the Aleva one was pretty good. I liked the soft Water Lily scent. Big A loved this soap! She declared it the best soap ever and asked me to get it again. I was pleased that Little A was less tempted to waste it compared to when we have liquid soap. She loves to watch the soap drip off her hands into the sink, for some reason, which makes me crazy.

I only got one chance to try the stain bar, after Little A got slime all over her favorite sweater and it left a whole lot of stains. I rubbed it with the bar before throwing it into the wash. It got most of it off, but we still had to throw it in for a second wash to get all the slime stains off it (why are kids so obsessed with slime these days??).

So do I recommend Aleva Naturals? The Multi Purpose Spray and Hand Soap are definitely winners, If you have anyone in your family with allergies, eczema and/or sensitivities, than you will love all of the companies products. The trade off for less sudsy dish soap, in that case, is probably worth it!

Disclosure: The company sent me the products to review but all opinions on this blog are my own.


Monday, March 4, 2019

The BUILD Framework: Book Review


I have to admit, I do love self-help books. Some (like anything written by Brene Brown) are freakin' awesome. Others can be absolute garbage and time wasted that you will never get back. But I am always open to giving books a chance.

Recently I was sent The BUILD Framework: A Heart-Based System for Personal and Professional Growth written by high performance coach, John Peitzman.

The book promises to get you from "Struggleville," which seems to mean that your life is out of balance and you are feeling unfulfilled and burning out personally and professionally, to "Smooth Sailing," or lasting success and happiness.

The BUILD Framework® is a strategy for personal transformation. BUILD is an acronym that stands for:

Build Relationships
Understand the Business
Implement Strategies
Lead and Inspire
Deliver Excellence

BUILD in practice involves "centrifugal looping". This means you don't just move from B to U to I to L to D and then you are done. Instead the pattern involves continuously going back to the beginning as you progress through the steps:

BU
BUI
BUIL
BUILD

Peitzman says everything in this process has to be done from the heart. You have to "feel" it. I think he is saying you have to be your authentic self and build a business and life that truly resonates with your personal values.

There is a section for every letter in BUILD and includes an Action Benefit Challenge at the end of the chapter to help you implement the concept.

Peitzman claims that you have to lead by leading, not by pulling other people along. I am guessing he means you have to truly inspire people to want to help you realize your vision. But frankly, this is far too vague to really be useful advice. It can be interpreted a myriad of ways and one thing that is a huge problem in organizations (not just corporate ones) is that there are tons of terrible 'leaders' who just bully and intimidate to get people to do things.

The argument about the importance of building relationships and a strong network is solid. Having connections helps in every facet of life.That being said, introverts will have a very difficult time putting this into practice since he suggests initiating calls and meetings and taking responsibility for keeping the relationship going. A lot of people will need coaching just on how they can build the confidence to do this.

Understand the business is also sound advice. As a former researcher, I am always keen on doing the homework. Peitzman says, Be Curious; Know What You Don't Know; and, Ask Questions and Listen With Your Heart.

Implement is to get you off your butt and not wait to apply what you have learned.

Once strategies have been implemented, that's when you focus on leading. When Peitzman starts to get deeper into this he does address the fact that some people at the top of organizations have egos which create a poor work environment. He advises you to demonstrate and embody the behaviour, thinking, and attitudes you want in your team members. The problem here is that sociopaths and narcissists (over-represented in positions of power) will not see themselves as egotistical or abusive, they do not have the capacity for that type of self-reflection. Even leaders who may not be quite as maniacal, lead through intimidation due to insecurity or simply a complete lack of knowledge around management. Those people may see their weaknesses but not have the skills to work on them.

Frankly, I believe ANYONE who is going to be in a leadership position, must first have to take a series of personality tests (to weed out the psychopaths!) and extensive training FIRST.

Delivering excellence meaning providing not only an exceptional product but also a superior customer experience. I cannot argue with this! The book, however, does not provide a lot of specifics around how you do this aside from not cutting corners and attending to the needs of your team so that they can perform optimally.

Well, that's the book. To me, it is useful as a starting point for someone looking to launch a business or new career, or make a change in their life, but it is not enough to make this happen on its own. Yet, I think this may be the point. I thought maybe there would be more resources for readers on the website but everything, even the blog, provides limited information and seems like just another way to convince you to buy more (the course, the coaching, etc.).

Do I recommend this book? Maybe? Again, it may be helpful if you are completely new to all this personal growth/professional development, but I highly doubt the book alone is going to transform your life.

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

Monday, February 25, 2019

The Most Comfortable Bra Ever


If you have boobs, you know how annoying it can be to be wearing an ill-fitting and/or uncomfortable bra.

You would think it isn't that hard to find a good bra, but it definitely can be. Partly because there are a lot of bad bras out there, partly because every woman's body is different, and partly because women's bodies change so much over their lifetime.

Since having my children, my bra size has changed countless times. Now I find my bra size changes each month depending on where I am in my menstrual cycle!

Its very irritating and distracting to have a bra strap falling down, or something digging into your rib cage.

I went to one of the fancy bra stores in our neighbourhood and I tried on a crazy comfortable bra. But when I saw the $200 price tag, I got my ass out of there. Considering I would need several to get me through between washes, and ideally a couple different colours, that was just not happening.

Poor Big A also has a tough time. She is bigger than me (in all dimensions) and is extremely athletic. It drives her crazy to not have a good bra on and she seems to wear them out quickly.

Given the stellar reputation of Knix, the Canadian company that makes period proof underwear, and now bras, I decided to take a chance and order from them. Best decision ever!!

I ordered Big A a sports bra and regular Evolution model bra and ordered myself 2 of the padded Evolution bras. I also got big A some of the underwear. We are both thrilled with everything we received. The Evolution bras have detachable, adjustable straps and a second set up straps in a different colour. Each bra has a different colour on each side and can be worn either way (i.e. there is no inside out). They are smooth, seamless, wireless, fit like a glove, and SO SO comfortable.

Hallelujah!