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Monday, September 17, 2018

Stuff that Works

Happy Monday! I thought I would share some things I've tried lately that have made little (or big) improvements in my life.

400mg B2 (Riboflavin) for Migraines

So its been now about 20 years that I've been suffering from atypical migraines. I eventually tried medical marijuana (CBD oil with no THC), prescribed by my doctor. I think it helps them from getting as severe as they used to if I take it as soon as I feel one start but what has made the biggest difference has been taking 400 mg of B2 every day. It has drastically cut down on the frequency of them. A counselling client of mine told me about it and I have to say, once I did my research and saw all the data on its efficacy, I had to wonder why no one in all my years of consulting experts, ever suggested it to me??

Microfibre Hair Towel

I'd heard they help your hair dry faster and are good for preventing frizz in curly hair. Since having the kids, my hair has gotten even curlier and I have found that I just despise wearing it curly now, it just gets out of control. So though I straighten my hair most days, this towel does help it dry faster and makes it easier to brush out and blow dry.

Silk Pillow Case


I am all for anything that helps keep hair and skin looking healthy (especially if it is neither danger nor expensive). Apparently silk pillow cases can prevent wrinkles (though no scientific evidence of that), and damage/breakage of hair. I can definitely attest to the fact that it is good for hair. Usually even if my hair is perfectly straight and silky at bed time, I wake up looking like Medusa and my hair feels dry and fuzzy. Not when I sleep on these pillow cases!!

If you are someone who showers and does your do at night, you need these as your hair will look much better in the morning.

L'Oreal Infallible Waterproof Eye Liner

The kids are always teasing me because by the end of the day my eye makeup has often melted. Even in winter, I am a big sweater (as in I sweat a lot, not as in I am a wooly thing you wear). I despise waterproof mascara and have not gotten waterproof eye liner in the past because they are usually liquid and I do not have a steady enough hand to apply those! But I just discovered the pencil waterproof eyeliner from L'Oreal and its amazing. It really does stay put all day, but comes off relatively easily with make up remover. A total game-changer!!


Monday, September 10, 2018

Thermacell Patio Shield: Product Review


Shana Tova to all those celebrating Rosh Hashana today!

Wow, the weather here in Toronto in nuts. Last week we hit a 70+ year record high and it felt like you could boil your blood within seconds of stepping outside, and today we woke up to rain and cool air. Frankly, I prefer the cool wet weather. The heat here this summer has been horrific!

Summer may be over, but we are talking about mosquitos today.

I have always hated mosquitos with a passion. Unfortunately, the feeling is not mutual. A room full of people and they always bite me. Sadly, this is not just an annoyance. I react rather violently to mosquito bites. Hot red welts develop and the itch from just one is enough to drive me completely insane. One of the many reasons I will NEVER be a camper.

But staying in the city doesn't guarantee I won't get bitten by mosquitos. The stupid things are everywhere! So I was thrilled when I was offered a chance to review Thermacell's Patio Shield, a mosquito repellent that is a portable gadget rather than something you apply to your skin. From everything I have read, the only thing that is really effective to repel mosquitos is DEET, which is a pretty nasty chemical. But its also important to avoid them, especially since mosquitos can carry West Nile Virus, etc. Its a health issue as much of an inconvenience to get bitten!

Truthfully, however, its been such a hot, humid summer, the whole family has been spending even less time outside than usual. So when my lovely friends and neighbours, L&J offered to test out the Patio Shield while away on a 2 day camping trip, it made perfect sense to get them to review it.  So hear you go:

 Thermacell Patio Shield:

It promises "mosquito protection you don't spray on" and delivered.  It was effective, portable, odour free and silent as the front of the box suggests.  The box contains everything you need to get started:  the device itself, three petroleum mats that last "a maximum of four hours" each and a butane cartridge.  We required the instructions, which were well written, to set it up.  The parts fit together well and the loading was effortless, as was turning it on.  The "on" light indicator was appreciated, as was the warning that vapour would appear.

We decided to take the Patio Shield camping in Bracebridge because the directions inside the box suggest that it's also suitable for campsites.  At home we already have a dining tent (which takes up a large part of our small backyard) to protect from all flying insects, especially wasps.  The Patio Shield does not claim to protect against anything except mosquitos.  We started the Patio Shield the recommended 30 minutes prior in order to let it take effect.  Although we envisioned staying on our campsite, within the 4.5 square metre area (wind, heat and humidity may affect the performance) that the Patio Shield claims to protect, our natural inclination was to keep wandering off.  We had decided not to trust the kids to the Patio Shield until we had tested it on ourselves, so they had repellent on their skin while biking and wandering.  Although the evening was hot and humid, my husband and I did not notice any bites.  (We did see one large, sluggish mosquito inside our cabin, so they did exist!)

In conclusion, we feel that the Patio Shield lived up to its promises, but is probably better suited to backyards than using it as your only source of protection while camping.

If you felt the need to use additional protection, such as spray on protection or other devices from the Thermacell line, the $45 price (on Amazon) of the repeller kit that we had (and $40 for 48 hours worth of refills) could seem prohibitively expensive.  The Precautions, First Aid and Toxoicological Information may scare anyone who is already wary of repellents that you spray on your skin.

So there ya go! Right from the campers' mouths.

Disclosure: I was sent the item to review but all opinions on this blog are our own.

Monday, September 3, 2018

Everyday Enzymes: Product Review


Do you struggle with digestive issues? It seems most people these days do. This is likely due to a combination of a low fibre, low nutrition diet, sedentary lifestyle, and chronic stress.

My dad was diagnosed with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) way back in the early 90s before anyone had really heard of it. Now its frighteningly common. It isn't so much a disease as a label for various idiopathic symptoms. I was diagnosed with it in high school and have struggled with it on and off since. In a very weird turn of events though, ever since recovering from that horrible flu back in February, my symptoms have been much much better. That left my doctor scratching her head! Who knows...I couldn't eat for 2 weeks, everything was going right through me...probably everything in my gut good and bad was killed off and then perhaps I grew back a healthier microbiome.

I have taken probiotics for years and still do, but also available are digestive enzymes that are supposed to improve your gut health. Recently I was sent Everyday Enzymes to try, a broad spectrum supplement created by gastroenterologist, Liz Cruz.

Everyday Enzymes claim to help treat:


  • Wellness and prevention
  • Sensitive GI Tract
  • Inflammatory Bowel Disorders
  • Weak Constitution
  • Gall Bladder Stress
  • Nausea / Vomiting
  • Burping / Belching / Indigestion
  • Chemical / Environmental Sensitivities
  • Infant Colic

The capsules contain: Amylase, Protease, Lipase, Cellulase, Invertase, Diastase, Lactase, Lactobacillus acidophilus, bifidobacterium longum, cellulose and water

They help break down carbohydrates, fats and proteins and it is recommended 2 capsules be taken with meals 3x per day.

As for the science? I wasn't able to find any peer reviewed studies that prove their effectiveness in humans. Everyday Enzymes do come with a 100% 60 day guarantee. So if you do not feel they are working for you, you get all your money back.

At this point I have been taking them for several weeks. Do I feel better? Well I have been feeling better since February overall, but I think there has been a bit of a reduction in gas and bloating for sure.

Should you take them? I recommend them, but only if you have first made any necessary lifestyle changes first and you still have digestive issues. So that would be, getting regular exercise, eating unprocessed, high fibre foods, and eliminating any trigger foods and beverages, as well as finding ways to manage excess stress/anxiety. These capsules won't perform magic if every other aspect of your lifestyle compromises gut health!

Also, I would not use them to treat infants, or any serious illnesses without first speaking to your physician.

Happy Labour Day! Or Labor day for you folks south of the border. I hope you have a wonderful holiday with no digestive upset!

Monday, August 27, 2018

Insanity Max 30: Workout Program Review


Another fitness post!

Its kind of ironic that I have gone from being someone who worked at, and worked out in, gyms for hours a day, to someone who hates gyms and would much rather work out at home. Gone are the days I have much interest in teaching fitness classes (I still personal train out of our home), and long gone are the days I have any patience for having others around while I workout. But I do love doing fitness videos to mix things up. Though I can certainly put together a workout for myself, I like having someone else do the work and push me while my mind and body wake up at 5am. The only problem is I get bored quickly, and I also like to continuously stay challenged.

My boredom a few months ago led me to purchase Shaun T's Insanity Max 30 program. I got it for an insane deal from Amazon.ca for $49.99. This is pretty frickin' awesome because I got 12 DVDs plus a bonus Live Insanity Sweatfest DVD featuring the cast from the original Insanity program. As you know, I have Insanity and The Asylum, so I am obviously a Shaun T fan.

The workouts are all exactly 30 minutes long (duh!), plus 2 minute cool-down/stretch. The only exception is the 2 Max Out 15 workouts that also have 15 minute ab workouts (so total is 30 minutes). I LOVE that there are 3 ab workouts included (1 10 minute, and 2 15 minute) and all are killer!

They are even more intense than the original Insanity workouts, but similar in terms of the moves/exercises. There is more variety though, which I like. They are all easy to follow, with no complicated choreography. So think burpees, jumping jacks, lunges and push ups.

You also get a nutrition guide, calendar and program recommendations, but I always toss that stuff out. The workouts are divided into month 1 and month 2, but honestly I don't find month 2 workouts all that much harder than month 1 workouts. They are all hard though!!

The idea is that you go for as long as you can without having to take a break, and when you do, you mark down your time, and that's when you've "Maxed Out". The next time you do that workout, you try to go longer. I can make it to the end of all of them without taking a break (aside from the ones in the workout - there is always at least one short water break). But not everyone is a beast like I am 😝. Seriously though, the fact that the workouts are short really gives me the motivation to push hard. I love knowing I will be done in 30 (plus 10-15 min if I do abs).

Here is a list of the workouts:

Month 1: 

1. Cardio Challenge: 30 minutes of the hardest cardio sequences you’ve ever tried. Welcome to INSANITY MAX:30.
2. Tabata Power: Your muscles will beg for mercy as your strength training starts with Tabata-style “20 seconds on, 10 seconds off” power moves.
3. Sweat Intervals: Get ready for 30 minutes of screaming, sweating, calorie-scorching madness.
4. Tabata Strength: Shaun T takes it up a notch in this NO REST, Tabata-style strength workout. You heard right...30 minutes, no rest.
5. Friday Fight, Round 1: It’s a battle between your body and your mind as you fight for time in this Max Out Challenge. And this is just Round 1.

Month 2: 

6. Max Out Cardio: This may be the craziest cardio workout you ever tried. Just wait till you get to the first Power Move. What minute are you Maxing Out at now?
7. Max Out Power: The intervals are longer in this “45 seconds on, 15 seconds off” Tabata-style plyometric power madness.
8. Max Out Sweat: The more minutes you make it through, the more you sweat and the more calories you burn. Now you know the meaning of “twice the sweat in half the time.”
9. Max Out Strength: Your arms, shoulders, chest, and core will be toast after this upper-body-focused, “45 seconds on, 15 seconds off” Tabata-style routine.
10. Friday Fight, Round 2: The new “hardest workout ever.” Every move is a minute in this final fight between your body and your mind. Who’s going to win?


11. Pulse
Shaun’s version of a recovery workout, this is a low-impact combo of stretching and small “pulsing” movements that’ll definitely make you feel the burn.
12. Ab Attack:10
This 10-minute routine will feel like an attack on your abs, but you’ll love the rock-hard results.

Now, given the intensity of the program, you may think this is only for advanced folks, but actually, it is better for beginners than the original Insanity program. First off, there is a participant showing low impact/intensity modifications for every exercise, and, secondly, if you select the Modifier Track on each DVD, there is a split screen so you can see the modifier for the entire workout.

This program is very much cardio, though a few of the workouts have quite a lot of strength exercises. Nevertheless, I wouldn't forgo strength training even if you are doing this program as they recommend. Since it is all body weight strength work, it is primarily focused on chest, triceps and core. You don't really hit a lot of back, shoulders or biceps. But because no equipment is required, it does make it ideal for travel!

It is fast-paced and high impact (unless you are modifying), so I don't do these workouts more than 2x a week, but am really thrilled with the program. It took me several months to work my way through all the DVDs (I would try one new one each week, and do it 2x), so I am still not even close to being bored of it.

I definitely recommend this DVD set if you are looking for a fun, butt-kicking workout.

Thursday, August 16, 2018

The Latest in Fitness: World Fitness Expo 2018

If you don't know what World Fitness Expo is, its the new name for the annual CANFITPRO conference in Toronto. Apparently the biggest fitness conference in North America.

If you are a long time reader, than you know I've been attending it for about 20 years. Not because I want to, but because I basically have to. It provides me with the necessary continuing education credits to maintain my fitness and personal training professional certifications. I attended the conference on Saturday, August 11th.

The reasons I hate it aren't because there is anything so terrible about the conference itself. I just hate being in big crowds of people I don't know. I also hate going way downtown in the heart of tourists and traffic. I hate spending a whole day in sweaty workout clothes and the discomfort and fatigue that comes from exercising, than a break, than exercising, etc. as you go from one seminar to another and spend the waste of time in between spending money you shouldn't at the trade show. Probably the worst part of all is that inevitably at least one session will involve having to be in a group or with a partner (i.e. getting real cozy with strangers...sometimes even having to involve touching). Ugh, the introvert in me HATES THIS!

Though I didn't enjoy it this year, as expected, in some ways it wasn't as bad as I anticipated (though in others it was disappointing).

My itinerary this year was:

1. Core Without Crunches - 2 personal trainers and a pelvic floor physiotherapist talking about pelvic floor health. I actually learned a lot in this session about diastasis (something I have from pregnancy as do many of my clients), and incontinence, prolapse, and exercises/treatments for all of it. I plan to get a referral to the physio so I can see if she can help me with my diastasis. One of their key messages was that any woman who has ever had a baby is postpartum, and it is never too late to improve things!

2. Grit Strength - I have NO idea how I ended up registered for this session. Its one of these Les Mills prechoreographed classes that I despise, don't teach and never plan to. Did I make a mistake, or how did this happen? Anyways, it was interesting since I'd never been to one of these sessions before to see what they are like. What they are like is going to a freakin' night club. Very dark with strobe lights, loud music, and instructors 'performing'. It requires a barbell like Body Pump and has lots of the expected overhead presses and squats, interspersed with mountain climbers, etc. Its supposed to be HIIT I guess.

3. Step KUSHH! - This is a new product from The STEP Company, but really why I took this session is it was led by Gin Miller!! FYI, she is the brilliant woman who invented the original STEP, and she invented this product too. She generously allowed me to take her photo:


The KUSHH! is a platform similar to the original, but with a soft top. This makes it ideal to use as a weight bench but also makes it an unstable surface to stand on. Doing cardio on it requires more stability and a lot more energy (i.e. calories!). The specially designed risers allow you to set it on an angle and it will remain stable for stepping/standing/laying on (unlike the original STEP).

Gin Miller is 62, but looks about 20 years younger, and is incredibly fit and fiesty. I love her and felt so fortunate to finally be able to take a session with her! I desperately wanted to take a KUSHH! home as they were selling them off at a discount, but I was taking the subway home and it is just too big and heavy and awkward to lug on public transportation.

4. Beyond Boot Camp with Mindy Mylrea - Mindy is always a great and absolutely hilarious presenter. The only thing I didn't like was all the team/partner stuff. Ugh!

5. My last session of the day was an Essentrics class. I do Essentrics every day in lieu of static stretching following my workouts, so I thought it would be perfect to finish the day with it since I knew I would be stiff otherwise. Though I had been more than ready to leave at 2:30pm (having started the first session at 7:30am), I pushed myself to stay to the end even though this session didn't begin until 5:15pm. It was a good move because I think I would have been super sore on Sunday otherwise.

What was most disappointing was the trade show. There seemed to be many fewer vendors than in past years and prices sucked.  I guess the upside is, I bought nothing except a bottle of detergent that is guaranteed to get smells out of workout clothes. The only other thing I wanted to buy on the spot was this massage chair:


Too bad they cost $16,000 😂😂. If I had one of these at home, I would seriously use it every day...possibly all day! My 3 minutes in it were the best 3 minutes of the whole conference!!

The most exciting news I got was that a company has finally come out with a home/retail version of electro-myo-stimulation method (EMS) training! I have tried the commercial systems from EMS and X-Body and fantasized about getting one for our home gym, but since they cost upwards of $20,000, its always just been a fantasy. At the trade show this year, there was another company, Vision Body, advertising their products. I inquired as to whether they had a retail version for home use, and they said it had just been created and they are about to launch it. Believe you me, I will be trying to get my hands one one!!

So overall I guess this year's conference was worth the pain. I got to meet Gin Miller, try her new cool STEP out, and discover that there is an EMS system I may be able to get my hands on 💪.

Monday, August 13, 2018

CozyPhones: Product Review


Listening to music can make just about anything better. Music can positively affect mood, and boost motivation and endurance. Since the advent of the Walkman, we have been coming up with more and more convenient ways to allow us to listen to our favorite tunes on the go. Thankfully, things have come a long way since the Walkman (and and even longer way since folks used to mosey down the street with a huge boombox on their shoulder!).

In this house, its Big A and Adam who could listen to music 24/7. Personally, there are times I need it quiet, but they'd be happy to have tunes on all the time. Headphones are bought in bulk since they tend to die fairly quickly. So when CozyPhones offered to let us try their product, I jumped at the chance. I knew someone in this house would love them. That someone is Big A.

They sent us one of their Lycra Headband Headphones from their active line. Its made from Lycra mesh that keeps your head cool and is perfect for use while exercising. But because of the way its designed, you can also use it in bed if you like to fall asleep listening to music.

Big A found it very comfortable and loved that it stays put. For her, she found it came down a wee big low on her forehead. But overall, she is very pleased with it. They are a more comfortable option for most people's ears than ear buds or regular headphones.

CozyPhones have a 100% money back guarantee and have:

...a flexible and durable 1.5 meter braided cord and strudy 3.5 mm stereo plug. Will not kink, twist of break under normal use. Use with all your favorite devices like Apple iPhone, iPad, iPod, Android, Samsung Galaxy, Blackberry, Nokia, LG, HTC, Google Nexus, Lenovo, Asus, Sony, Dell, Toshiba, HP, MP3, MP4 and other audio devices.

Do I recommend CozyPhones? Absolutely! They even have a line of cute animal ones just for kids and another intended exclusively for sleep.

You can purchase them online for about $30 CAD.

Disclosure: The company sent us a sample to try but all opinions on this blog are our own.

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Jarlsberg Cheese: Product Review


Is there any food more crave worthy than cheese? Maybe ice cream, potato chips and chocolate, or so say many of my weight loss clients. But cheese certainly ranks up there!

Little A and I are the cheese eaters in this house. I keep a handle on how much I eat, but that little kid, she can eat her weight in cheese! Sometimes I tell her she must be a mouse!

As you know, I am not someone who thinks dairy is unhealthy. Its a good source of calcium and protein. I come from a long line of cheese lovers. In fact, when I was asked if I would sample and review Jarlsberg cheese, I immediately thought of my childhood, and of my dad. When I was a kid, he would eat a deli sandwich with meat and cheese and a can of Chunky soup almost every day for lunch. Often it was Jarlsberg cheese. So I likely ate it too, but I don't remember.

They generously sent me coupons for free Jarlsberg products and I picked up a wedge at our local grocery store.

Jarlsberg, is a cow's milk cheese originally from Jarlsberg, Norway, but now it is produced in Ireland and the U.S. as well. It has holes like swiss cheese but a milder flavour that I would describe as buttery, sweet and a bit nutty.

I grated some and melted in on to sandwiches I made with turkey bacon on my low-carb cauliflower biscuits. It was absolutely delicious.

Do I recommend Jarlsberg? Yes!! Great for sandwiches and cooking, and even salads (though I only like soft cheeses in salad). Thank you to the company for the samples.