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Sunday, December 23, 2018

2018 in Review


So here we are at the end of 2018 already. How was this year for you?

I thought I would give you a bit more info about what's been going on around here. I haven't had much time to write personal posts. At this point, its been challenging for me to post even once a week.

The reason for my lack of time is mostly good. My counselling practice really exploded this year. Because I am self-employed, and because I enjoy my work, its been tough to set limits though, so I find myself seeing clients, either in person or virtually/by phone often 7 days a week. I do get to set my own hours, and I never see more than 6 clients a day, but it is still pretty exhausting. Nevertheless, I couldn't be happier. I love my work so much and I feel so blessed to have a job that is on my terms and provides me with so much intrinsic satisfaction. I am still doing a lot of fertility/infertility counselling as well as couples counselling, CBT for anxiety and depression, and EMDR for trauma.

I have developed a bit of an addiction to cat videos. When the girls were little I really had no interest in pets, but now that they are more independent, my obsession with felines has come back. I know I will not likely ever own cats again (not only is Adam allergic, but he doesn't like animals. Period.), so I have to indulge my obsession by living vicariously through others. I admit its a problem, I could look at cats and kittens being cute for hours. I may need an intervention.

Health-wise, I am still struggling with chronic atypical migraines. Earlier this year my doctor gave me an Rx for medical marijuana (CBD oil without THC). It seemed to help for a bit then stopped helping. At this point, the only thing I have not tried is Botox injections which I will discuss with my doctor in the new year. The past couple months I have had a lot of them but I don't ever let them stop me from pushing through with things. I am just kind of used to the pain.

I am pretty happy with my fitness and nutrition. I am the strongest I have ever been and for the past year I have had no issues with IBS that I used to struggle with. I am eating lots of protein (all kinds except red meat very rarely) and get most of my carbs from sweet potatoes (I am obsessed), squash and oats. I have also made a point of eating more fatty fish like salmon and herring and still go though huge quantities of tahini because its the best! I have also really fallen in love with Greek yogurt and have been eating it way more than I used to (or any kind of yogurt for that matter). I stick with plain and flavour it myself with fruit, natural extracts and/or stevia.

For the past year, the girls have been getting along so much better. They no longer fight 24/7 which is such a big relief as I think Adam and I were ready to lose our minds. Big A started middle school (7th grade) in September and is preparing for her Bat Mitzvah in June. She does 4+ hours of dance a week, swims, and plays basketball at school. At just 12, she is taller and heavier than I am and looks much older than she is.  We have a full on teenager here!

Little A is in 4th grade and is as feisty as ever. She is a bit too much of a perfectionist which means she can come down hard on herself and on others. Its something we are trying to keep an eye on, but so far she is doing great, excelling in school, her extracurriculars and her social life. She insisted on starting piano lessons this year (on top of ballet, Girl Guides, swimming, Hebrew School, soccer, etc.) but has surprised us by her dedication (we will see if it lasts).

I haven't given much attention to my konjac business, but there are some excited developments in store for 2019 as I have some new business partners. We will be relaunching the brand. Its been a slow transition but I think a lot of things will fall in place in 2019.

I am off now for a little holiday but I will be back in January. Happy holidays to you all!

Monday, December 17, 2018

Cirque du Soleil


Its not often we can find some form of entertainment for the whole family to enjoy. The girls do not share the same musical tastes as Adam and I, who also don't always have the same taste in music. Moreover, I hate going to see live music period. Adam is the trooper who will accompany the kids to see their favorite performers.

When it comes to movies, the girls rule the roost in this house. Adam and could probably count the adult movies we have seen since becoming parents on one hand. We generally only go to movie theaters so the kids can see something they want to see. Fortunately, kids movies/animations can occasionally be enjoyable for adults too these days.

I am not much of a live theater fan, in general, but, again, if I am going, its typically because we are going to a show the kids want to see.

I have less than zero interest going to see sporting events, so again, that is something Adam does with the girls. I have also taped out when it comes to the CNE (Canadian National Exhibition) and any other even involving rides, crowds and line ups.  Add horrendous traffic and the expense of parking in Toronto and you have a mom no longer in really going to any attraction in this city. I know understand why my parents love living in the smaller city where I grew up!

We used to take the girls to farms outside the city for their holiday special events on Thanksgiving, Easter, etc., or to pick fresh fruits and veggies, but I think we've all grown tired of that at this point.

One thing I have always wanted to do, is see Cirque du Soleil. I suspected the girls would enjoy it too since they are very involved in gymnastics, dance, and both attend circus camp in the summers. They were enthusiastic when I suggested it, so Adam and I bought us tickets for the next show coming to Toronto, called Corteo.

We attended a matinee performance this past weekend and I am happy to say it was a success. Or relatively so, in terms of finding some form of entertainment we can all enjoy.

Usually getting anywhere in this city if is a nightmare, and parking even worse, but this went all relatively smoothly - albeit expensively as parking for 3 hours cost $30 - near the Scotia Bank Arena, where it was held.

The reviews for Corteo were mediocre, with most of the criticism being the weakness of the story. Frankly, I didn't even expect a story, I was just there for the acrobatics, and in that regard, at least for me, it didn't disappoint.

I was surprised by how nervous I got for the performers doing such dangerous stunts. I had to cover my eyes a few times, worried they would fall. Little A kept patting my hand and reassuring me, "Momma, they practice a lot, they'll be okay."

It was about 2 hours with a 20 minute intermission. The intermission was when Little A started whining that she was bored. But I suspect she was actually grumpy because we refused to buy her food to eat since the prices were absolutely outrageous ($5 just for a bottle of water, and $8 for a small bag of chips!). But we'd already promised to buy the girls dinner on the way home so we didn't have much time for her complaining.

While Corteo may not be the best Cirque production (I have nothing to compare it to), I did find it entertaining and it has no live animals which makes it suitable for those concerned with animal rights in circuses. The Cirque travels around the world so if you think your kids would enjoy it, I definitely recommend you check it out. That being said, now that we've done it once, none of us feel the need to see it again. One and done.

Happy holidays, I'll be back in January 2019.

Monday, December 3, 2018

5-Ingredient Instant Pot Cookbook: Review


Do you have an Instant Pot? Do you know what an Instant Pot is? If you like cooking, or maybe if you hate cooking but try to find motivation to avoid takeout, you do.

Its a recent (Canadian) invention that has taken the cooking and food prep world by storm. It is a multi-function, small appliance that can pressure cook, saute, steam and more. It is programmable and can cut down dramatically on the time required to prepare all sorts of different dishes.

I do not have one. Why? The reason is that I just don't feel the need at this point in time. I have used the slow cooker we got as a wedding gift once in almost 18 years.  But I have family and friends that are obsessed with it.

For that reason, I agreed to review the 5-Ingredient Instant Pot Cookbook by cookbook author, Marilyn Haugen.


People who like simple recipes and/or are short on time will appreciate the simplicity of these recipes.

The first section of the book provides tips and information about using an Instant Pot. The following section is"Instant Pot Staples" and contains recipes such as broth, and stocks, quinoa, brown rice, marinara sauce and BBQ sauce. I know a lot of people find cooking brown rice daunting because it can take a long time and end up too chewy or too mushy. In the Instant Pot, it takes less than 30 minutes, which is pretty impressive. Though you still have to soak dried beans, you only need to cook them for a few minutes! That's amazing.

Other sections include:


  • Breakfasts
  • Soups, Stews and Chilis
  • Beef and Pork
  • Chicken
  • Fish and Seafood
  • Beans, Grains and Pasta
  • Vegetables and Sides
  • Desserts
Each recipe includes tips and many have variations as well. But only a handful are photographed, so this book isn't great for people who need visuals.

This isn't a healthy cooking book so things I try to avoid like added sugar and refined flours show up in some recipes, but you can probably make substitutions. It also is limited in terms of vegan/vegetarian recipes but is great for anyone who eats a varied diet.

A few standouts are "Almost Rotisserie Chicken", "Maple Rice Pudding" and "Hearty Steel-Cut Oats" which all cook in much less time than conventional recipes.

So do I plan to get an Instant Pot? Nope. But I do recommend this book if you have one. There are 150 recipes that cover the gamut and are all relatively simple and easy to follow. I am going to give my copy of this book to my sister-in-law who has an Instant Pot, and adores it. I know she will love it!




Monday, November 26, 2018

Nature's Touch Frozen Fruit: Product Review

I have written many a post about how important I think it is to use your freezer to maintain a healthy diet and to reduce food waste.

I don't mean buying processed frozen foods. I mean making food in big batches and freezing, freezing leftovers, etc.

The one type of frozen food I buy often is frozen fruit. I buy a few types of frozen veggies too (green beans, peas, Brussels sprouts, etc.) but I buy a ton of frozen fruit. I use it for compotes, salads, and baking, and Adam and the girls use it for smoothies and snacking. It is particularly useful in the summer when a lot of the fruit we eat is not in season, and since frozen fruit (and veggies) is always picked fresh and ripe, its very nutritious (the same is not true for canned produce).

So when Nature's Touch offered to send me samples of their products, I immediately jumped at the chance. They sent 2 of their newest products,

Grapes-To-Go!




and Strawberry-Rhubarb Harvest


The grapes come as 5 individual packages in a bag you can take for snacking. Unfortunately, 3 of the bags had opened and all the grapes were at the bottom of the bag. This feature, in my opinion, is unnecessary, especially now that we are more conscious of trying to reduce single use plastics. Its just as easy to grab a handful and put it in a reusable container to take on the go.

While some kids might love taking these bags for lunch, my weirdo kids don't like grapes. I like them in savoury dishes, so I will use them for that purpose. But in any case, the grapes were firm, sweet and juicy, yummy frozen or thawed.

I love the Strawberry-Rhubarb Harvest mix because its such a great combo and its so hard to find rhubarb in winter.

I used it to make a strawberry rhubarb balsamic salad dressing and tossed it over wilted kale, roasted beets and goat cheese. Delish!

The company sells products in Taiwan, Japan, Australia, US and Canada. Apparently, their head office is in Montreal, QC.

They source their produce from a variety of places but I don't think you can assume its local, if that's something that is a concern to you. Most of their products are organic and they are all non-GMO.

Do I recommend Nature's Touch products? Absolutely! I think its a great idea to keep your freezer stocked with healthy staples, and frozen produce is one of the best.

Disclosure: Nature's Touch sent me product samples to try but all opinions on this blog are my own.

Monday, November 19, 2018

Endure: Book Review


A few years ago I reviewed a book, Which Comes First, Cardio or Weights? written by a high school classmate of Adam, physiologist and journalist, Alex Hutchinson.

I very much liked that book so was eager to read his latest one, Endure: Mind, Body and the Curiously Elastic Limits of Human Performance. Adam purchased it and read it first and after raving about how well it is written, gave it to me to read.

This book is all about the factors that affect human physical performance. If you are an endurance athlete of any kind, either professionally or even just recreationally, than you must read this book. Even if you are not, in fact, even if you do no physical activity at all and the closest you get to sports is watching them on TV with beer in hand, you will still enjoy this book.

That is what I liked best about Endure: Alex manages to make the science interesting and proves himself as a story teller. He weaves in engaging tales about arctic explorers from a century ago, elite athletes from today, as well as his own personal experiences being a competitive runner.

The book has 3 parts:

Part 1: Mind and Muscle (dominate theories)
Part 2: Limits (pain, muscle, oxygen, heat, thirst, fuel)
Part 3: Limit Breakers (brain training, brain stimulation and belief)

If you think you know everything about physical limits, this book will likely prove you wrong. The theory about lactic acid build up that many people in the field still adhere to has been disproved. New research in this area is far more complicated and fascinating. I don't want to give away everything, but lets just say this book provides further evidence that mind and body are one. It is also good for debunking a lot of myths about products and practices that supposedly affect performance.

I also find it fascinating to read about some of these extreme endurance athletes, who run like 100 miles without rest, not sleeping for days. Its totally insane to me but also amazing at the same time.

Usually I reserve bed time reading for fiction as its my zone out/chill out time, but this book was such an easy read and so compelling, I read it before bed and found myself staying awake longer because I didn't want to put it down.

Read this book!

Monday, November 12, 2018

Seabuck Wonders Ultimate Hair, Skin & Nails: Product Review


I have reviewed a number of Seabuck Wonders products over the past few years and am generally very impressed with them. This one is no exception.

Ultimate Hair, Skin & Nails is a combination of Omega-7 from organic sea buckthorn berry oil and sea buckthorn seed oil plus biotin and vitamin E.

As someone with weak fingernails that frequently snag and tear, and hair that has never really recovered from having 2 children (less shiny, drier, cowlicks that never used to exist, and hair loss), I was eager to see if this supplement could make a difference.

Omega-7 is something I have tried before in their other products but I have never taken biotin.

Biotin naturally occurs in small amounts in bananas, eggs and milk. Biotin is an important component of enzymes in the body that break down fats, carbohydrates, and other substances in our body.

You can't really test for low biotin levels, but symptoms of a deficiency include thinning of the hair, red scaly rash around the eyes, nose, and mouth, depression, fatigue, hallucinations, and tingling of the arms and legs.

After a couple weeks of taking 2 softgels a day (the recommended amount) what I noticed is that my hair was not falling out as much. Lucky for me, my hair has not started thinning, so I guess I am growing hair at the same rate I am losing it. Nevertheless, my shedding is gross and annoying. I am regularly finding hairballs all over the house, and strands on my clothes and even in my food (YUCK!). I was suddenly able to brush my hair and flat iron it after my shower in the morning without having to sweep up hair afterwards. Wow!

Unfortunately, a few days after finishing the bottle, my hair started falling out more again. I gotta get me some more!

Apparently it takes up to a year to see any change in brittle nails so I can't speak to its efficacy for that.

So do I recommend this product? Absolutely! But always speak to your doctor or health care provider first before starting a new supplement to see if its appropriate for you.

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

Monday, November 5, 2018

Tex-Mex Diabetes Cooking: Book Review


As ya'll probably know, diabetes is a big freakin' problem in North America. Some people develop Type I, which is an autoimmune disease, during childhood, but you can develop this in adulthood too though rare (I have 2 clients who did).

Type II diabetes can be genetic but more often than not it is a lifestyle disease brought on by a poor diet and sedentary lifestyle. While some people will have to eventually go on medication in order to manage it, others may be able to get in under control, or even into remission with lifestyle changes.

The American Diabetes Association recently published Tex Mex Diabetes Cooking, written by author Kelley Cleary Coffeen, PhD. The concept is excellent because North Americans, especially folks south of the border in the US, love their Tex Mex food!

Traditionally, Tex Mex can mean huge portions of rice, flour tortillas, meats, with everything smothered in cheese, guac and sour cream. But really, this cuisine can be lighter and very nutritious that what you find in the typical fast food version. Think lean meats, beans and fish and lots of veggies.

But if you feel that Tex Mex just isn't the same without all the high carb, high calorie goodies, than don't fret, you will still love the recipes in this book.

Coffeen clearly has a 'moderation' approach to nutrition. The book even has a section for cocktails if you can't imagine eating a taco without a Margarita.

First, I like that she starts in her introduction with  a discussion about the importance of drinking water and exercising for people with diabetes. Then, she has a section listing all the essential chili peppers, herbs and spices essential for Tex Mex cooking. Delicious food doesn't need sugar, salt and fat when you have so many other ways to add flavour! This section also includes general tips for cooking Tex Mex food for people with diabetes.

All recipes include prep and cooking times, serving size, choices/exchanges (starch, protein, etc.), and nutritional value per serving. There are only a few photos so don't expect visuals of each recipe.

Recipe sections include:

  • Bites and Starters
  • Salsas and More
  • Tortillas and Breads
  • Breakfast Favorites
  • Soups and Stews
  • Tostadas, Tacos, Tamales, Burritos, Enchiladas, and More
  • Savory Sides
  • Little Sweets

I am eager to try a number of the salsa and sauce recipes. Aside from the Mexican White Sauce, which uses mayo, most are light and healthy and sound super flavourful and delicious. Roasted Pineapple Salsa...OMG!!

Many recipes do have sour cream, avocados, and cheese, but use either reduced fat versions and/or lower quantities, so you will not feel deprived.

The homemade tortillas use whole wheat flour or part whole wheat (I would use ALL whole wheat and ditch the white altogether), or corn flour, which is a whole grain. The rice recipes offer the choice of brown or while. Go with brown!

There is a lot of variety in this recipe collection and definitely numerous dishes that will appeal to just about anyone.

Do I recommend this book? Absolutely. If you love Tex Mex food, and even if you do not have diabetes, but want to eat better, this book is a good bet.

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




Monday, October 29, 2018

Amazing 2 Ingredient Pizza Crust


I love making pizza. I mix it up in terms of what type of crust I make. Sometimes a traditional yeast crust, sometimes a base of cauliflower, sometimes gluten free...but always healthy, of course.

But lately, life is so busy I haven't made it very often because it tends to be pretty time consuming. This is one reason I adore this recipe. It is not only healthy and super delicious, it is also pretty quick and easy.

All you do is mix equal parts self-rising flour (I make my own whole grain version) with plain Greek yogurt. If you are vegan or need dairy-free, I am sure you could make it with a coconut milk Greek yogurt. You could probably also use gluten-free flour if necessary. I used organic, whole grain spelt for these ones.

Self-rising flour

1 cup flour
1.5 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt

For the pizzas pictured above (equivalent to 2 extra larges, one regular, one thick crust), I used 5 cups each self-rising flour and Greek yogurt.

2 Ingredient Pizza Crust

Mix together flour and yogurt in a large bowl and use hands to press into a ball. Divide into desired number of portions and press out onto greased baking sheets. Bake naked in oven at 400F for about 20 minutes (less if making thin crust), then top with sauce, cheese and toppings, and then return to oven for another 10 minutes.


As you can see, on the pizza above, I used nutritional yeast instead of cheese. It was my first time trying this on pizza, and I absolutely loved it!!

I think my go-to from now on is this crust recipe, and using nutritional yeast.

Monday, October 22, 2018

Blendtec vs Vitamix

If you are at all into cooking and/or nutrition, than you likely own a high speed blender.

There are now numerous companies making them, but the two most popular brands are Blendtec and Vitamix.

About 6 years ago, Adam bought me a Blendtec for my birthday. I asked for it specifically, over a Vitamix, based on reviews I had read. The deciding factor for me at the time, was that many people suggested the Blendtec was easier to clean.

After having owned many food processors and blenders that suck to clean, this was very appealing for me.

Despite the Blentec's motor dying much sooner than I think it should have, overall we were pretty happy with it. It was used multiple times daily. I used it to crush ice and make coffee frappes, make batters for baked goods, sauces, purees, etc., and Adam and the girls used it primarily for making smoothies.

That being said, I didn't love cleaning it...but I probably won't love cleaning anything ever, to be honest. Food would get caught under the blade, and unlike our food processor, the blade wasn't removable. But it was not sharp, so I could often reach in and push food that was stuck with my bare fingers.

One thing I was very disappointed about was its ability to make nut butter. I had high hopes but after a few totally failed tries, I gave up.

The Blendtec had preprogrammed settings, like Ice Crush, Batters, Smoothies, etc. Sometimes they worked great for their intended purpose, other times, another setting would actually work better.

The Blendtec was also LOUD. Like really F#$*ing LOUD!

So a few months ago when it died, I decided to switch camps and try a Vitamix.  We got the Vitamix Explorian E310 Blender, which Adam got a good deal on at Canadian Tire.



At first it took us all a bit of time to get used to it. It has no preprogrammed settings, so when I turn it on, I forget I have to turn it off, because the Blentec settings had timers and would go off automatically.

It is just as easy (or not easy) as the Blendtec to clean, however, the blades are super sharp, so you definitely cannot stick your hand in to clean it out.

Like all high power blenders, it is loud, but I don't think its as loud as the Blendtec, which is a welcome change.

I tried nut butter and the first time was a total disaster. A second attempt led me to realize you just can't more than about a 1/2 cup of nuts in at a time. Given its large size, I find this very annoying. I had 4 cups of almonds and it was extremely time consuming and messy to do so many individual batches. I am going to stick to store bought nut and seed butters for now.

The Vitamix we got does have a pulse button, along with the continuous power button, and a speed control. But we tend to just blast the shit out of everything on the highest speed.

Overall, I think I do prefer the Vitamix. That being said, it remains to be seen if it lasts longer than the Blendtec!




Monday, October 15, 2018

My New Newest Favorite Quest Bar Flavour


Recently a lot of the online stores where we buy a lot of our protein powder, protein bars and pre-workout drink mixes have been having massive sales. This has prompted me to get more adventurous in trying new products and flavours. After getting the Maple Waffle flavour of Quest bars on sale and loving them so much, I went back to buy more but found only a few other flavours were still available, one being Birthday Cake.

I hadn't been considering trying them before because I read a mediocre review of them, and I had been very disappointed by the version made by One Bar (whereas their Glazed Donut flavour is AMAZING!) that looks like a big unicorn turd and made a mess of sprinkles everywhere.

I didn't really have high expectations for this Quest flavour, but I was really pleasantly surprised! I think I like it even better than Maple Waffle, and for sure like that its not sticky/messy like the Maple Waffle one, so I bring it to work or take it as an on-the-go snack.

Its not overly chewy, but also not too soft. The sprinkles are kind of within the creamy, white coating so they don't make a mess anywhere. I have avoided any coated Quest bars in the past, but I really don't mind the coating (vanilla frosting-ish).

I can't believe I am saying this, but I am done with Chocolate Chunk altogether. This is now my absolute favorite flavour!

Monday, October 8, 2018

Sparkling Ice for Cocktails: Product Review


HAPPY CANADIAN THANKSGIVING!!!

A few years ago I was lecturing my dad on cutting back on his alcohol intake (I am pretty much always lecturing him about his food/drink intake) and he said to me, "Come on, red wine is a health food." I may have starting yelling at him.

No. Alcohol is not health food. Forget the BS about it cutting heart disease risk. The research findings were exaggerated and we now know that too much alcohol for anyone is bad. Very bad. Men should have a max. of 2 drinks/day, and women less.

Believe me, if it was health food, I would have a few drinks a day. But its not, so I allow myself a few on the weekend, usually while making dinner. That's it. And when I do drink its usually craft beer, cider or occasionally wine or spirits. When it comes to spirits I stick with clear like vodka or tequila and sugar-free mixers.

The worst thing you can possibly drink is stuff mixed with sugar syrups, juice, creamy and/or sweet liqueurs, etc.

I usually make my own mixer with carbonated water from our Soda Stream, some muddled lime and a bit of stevia, but I always like to try new  things, so I was thrilled when Sparkling Ice sent me their array of products, including their 2 newest flavours, Classic Lemonade and Pink Grapefruit and suggested using them as mixers.

Pink Grapefruit has been a longtime go-to flavour for me (I love pink grapefruits), but it wasn't appealing to me as a cocktail. Instead, I combined the Classic Lemonade with tequila, carbonated water and lemon slices.

It was really amazing! The lemon slices added a bit more zing and the combo of the Sparkling Ice and plain soda water was the perfect level of sweetness.

Here is the recipe:

1/2 bottle Classic Lemonade Sparkling Ice
1 cup soda water
2 ounces tequila
2 lemon slices

Of course many of their other flavours are great too, and my kids love them (we had heavy negotiations over who got what flavours). Yes, we consume diet drinks in this house. I DO think it is a better option than sugary drinks. Believe me, if you think you are being 'healthy' drinking liquor mixed with juice or an organic sugary soda because its 'natural, you are truly delusional.

Do I recommend Sparkling Ice? If you want to cut down on your sugar intake but sometimes want a sweet treat or mixer for your cocktail, than absolutely!

Disclosure: We were sent the products to review but all opinions on this blog are our own.

Monday, September 24, 2018

My New Favorite Quest Bar

As you know, one of my go-to snacks/treats is protein bars. I am no delicate flower who can nibble on a dry piece of toast and not eat again until the next day. No way Jose!! This woman has a serious appetite, and you weight lifters know what I am talking about. Muscles scream for fuel!

I know they are a 'processed' food but I love protein bars because they are portable, filling, satisfy sweet cravings, and are easy to devour quickly in between my therapy client sessions (I have even been known to gobble one down during a session if my blood sugar is getting really low).

For the longest time I couldn't find any I liked as much as Quest Chocolate Chunk. I tried other Quest flavours: Cinnamon Roll, Cookie&Cream, Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough, Mocha, Blueberry Muffin, etc., and I found them all just meh. Later on, I got addicted to Costco's version, which were also very cheap in comparison. Then Costco kept increasing the price, and then our Costco simply stopped carrying them. Through a Google search I learned that they were having packaging problems, but I am not sure if they will be back on the shelves. Sigh!

When I recently discovered Quest had come out with Maple Waffle flavour, I didn't have high hopes. Even though I loved the concept (I'm Canadian so I love anything maple, okay?), nothing new ever wowed me before. Nevertheless, I decided to order some to try.

Well folks, I was very pleasantly surprised. These have now usurped Chocolate Chunk's position as my favorite variety!

They have a sweet maple base, pockets of maple syrup (caramel-like consistency), and little chunks of I guess what is supposed to be waffle. The waffle bits are forgettable, but I love the base and the syrup.


My only complaint is that they are quite sticky and messy. I would not take one of these to the office in the summer. Nevertheless, flavour-wise they are a total winner. Now if only Quest bars weren't so darn expensive...

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.

Monday, July 30, 2018

Honoring Victims of the Danforth Shooting

Canadians are probably all aware of this, but for those of you International readers, I will share that there was a mass shooting here in Toronto last week. It happened on a Sunday at 1030pm, when many folks were out enjoying a warm summer evening. It also happened 2 blocks from my brother's house.

Many people were injured, some very seriously, and 2 were killed including an 18-year-old woman, and 10-year-old girl.

Not only the city, but I think the whole country is shocked, especially after the van attack that left many dead here just last April.

So when I was asked to post information about this yoga class taking place tomorrow in honor of the victims of the shooting, I was happy to oblige. If you live in the city, do think of dropping in.


A result of this incident, Canada is thinking of banning the sale of hand guns altogether. Maybe some day the country down south will do the same (yeah right!).

Monday, July 23, 2018

Watermelon, Cucumber and Smoked Tofu Salad




They say that as you get older you get worse at regulating your body temperature. This is bad news for me, because my whole life I have been too hot most of the time. Now its out of control. Basically between April and November I am a sweaty mess. And yes, I live in Canada. We get freakin' hot, humid summers folks.

I have also found that what I eat makes a big different to how I feel in different seasons. I crave hearty, warming meals in the dead of winter (I do occasionally get cold too), and cool, refreshing foods in the summer. This salad is one of my favorites because it is light, hydrating, and satisfying. I am not a big melon fan, but I do like watermelon in salads. If you don't like tofu, you can use feta cheese, which is also amazing in this salad (along with kalamata olives!), but the tofu boosts the protein even more. If you can find it, use this Soyganic brand tofu. IT IS THE BOMB:

Besides how yummy and nutritious it is, this recipe is also quick and easy to make. You have to try it!

Watermelon, Cucumber and Smoked Tofu Salad

4 cups seedless watermelon, diced
1 English cucumber, sliced
1 box smoked tofu, diced
Juice and zest of 1 lime
Chili lime salt, to taste

Toss everything together. Eat.

Monday, July 16, 2018

Comvita Manuka Honey: Product Review


I freakin' love honey. And as I've written about in past posts, I tend to be loyal to the honey I  grew up with, produced on an apiary near my hometown. Its fantastic, and I've never found a honey as good!

But over the past few years I've heard all the talk about manuka honey and wondered what all the fuss is about. So I was happy to agree to sample some from Comvita.

Manuka honey is produced in New Zealand and comes from manuka trees.  It is valued for its antimicrobial activity and unique flavour.

Comvita brand manuka honey has a UMF® license with the UMFHA (Unique Manuka Factor Honey Association). In addition, genuine UMF® Manuka Honey complies with all five of the following criteria:

1.  UMF® is clearly stated on the front label

2.  It is packed into jars and labelled in New Zealand

3.  It is from a New Zealand company licensed by UMFHA to use the name UMF®

4.  It has the UMF® licensee’s name on the front label

5.  It has a rating of UMF® 5+ or more.

The UMF® trademark is a quality trademark that is internationally verified and recognised. It is backed by an industry quality standard, independent audits and a network of accredited laboratories around the world. You can be sure that you are buying the best quality Manuka honey and your rights as a consumer are protected.

The number rating (5+) represents three chemical markers that indicate the content of this honey to ensure purity and quality. This includes the key chemical markers DHA, MGO, and Leptosperin (antibacterial components). Apparently, manuka honey has more powerful antimicrobial activity than other types of honey. It is used to prevent infection topically to wounds, and for treatment of various infections and for ulcers. One study found that, despite manuka honey being a source of sugar, it also reduces plaque and gingivitis.

Though you should not give kids under 1 year honey of any kind, after that, its generally recommended as a remedy for sore throats and coughs for children, since they cannot take conventional medications. Conveniently, Big A has had a cold and when the jar from Comvita arrived, she'd lost her voice. She was happy to swallow a spoonful of the manuka honey to see if it would help soothe her throat. Almost immediately she felt some relief, and by the next morning, she had most of her voice back. This is an anecdotal experience, of course, but consistent with research on its therapeutic properties.

Of course, it can also be used as a sweetener in your tea, yogurt, on toast, etc.

In terms of how it tastes? Yummo!! Very different from my honey, but its amber in colour, and thick and creamy, with a really rich, floral flavour. I definitely like it a lot. Adam doesn't really like honey, and Big A doesn't use it that often, so it will probably be Little A and I who consume most of it.

Just keep in mind that while honey may have therapeutic properties, it is still pretty much sugar. It may not be safe for anyone with diabetes or blood sugar issues. It is also high in calories, at 60 calories a tbsp, so best to consume in moderation.

So do I recommend it? Absolutely!! Delicious and with some health benefits. But it doesn't come cheap. The company sells a kilogram of 5+ (it goes up to 20+ in strength) for $36 US (plus $38 shipping to Canada). I found it on Amazon.ca for us Canadians, but its even more expensive so better to buy direct.

Disclosure: The company sent us the product to test but all opinions on this blog are our own.

Monday, July 9, 2018

The Kids Got Big!


This past spring Big A turned 12 and Little A turned 9. Parenting is never easy, but I do feel its gotten less hard. Partially, its because the girls are older, and thankfully, within the past 6 months, they have FINALLY stopped fighting as much. They used to fight 24/7 and it drove Adam and I bonkers, so its a wonderful relief for us all. I have even witnessed moments of tenderness between them. Whoa, I thought I might never see the day!

Bit A graduated from Grade 6 and is heading to middle school in the fall, but she is very mature for her age, and as you can see, also looks much older than she is:


People often mistake her for being anywhere from 15-18! I guess its good that she also behaves like an older kid...sometimes! But she really has come a long way this past year. She is obsessed with music and sports (like her dad), does extremely well academically, and is a free thinker. She is confident but likes to spend time alone. If she isn't playing basketball with boys in the neighbourhood, she enjoys being alone in her room reading, or listening to music, or watching sports.

Little A is frighteningly smart, but also very mischievous and funny. She too is very confident, and a little too competitive. She doesn't want anything to do with boys, but loves hangin' with her girlfriends. Unlike her older sister, she is in no hurry to grow up. This makes her sometimes absolutely adorable, and sometimes completely infuriating - because she tries to get everyone to do everything for her always claiming she isn't big enough/old enough/doesn't know how, etc. But the little monkey makes my heart melt:



Both girls are involved in a million sports and activities and not afraid to try new things. This makes me so happy, because I was such a shy, insecure kid, and when I look back on my life, most of what I regret are missing out on opportunities because of it.

Little A left for sleepaway camp last week for the month. One of the many things I didn't do because of lack of confidence is go to sleepaway camp. Though that's not something I regret. Camp = bugs, no air conditioning, etc. Not my thing! But I am really proud of her for being so brave. The house is so quiet without her, I already miss her like crazy.

Some 80% or more of my counselling practice is working with infertility clients, so I am reminded on a daily basis how lucky I am go have these girls. I am so proud of how both of them are turning out. Not sure how a couple of goofballs like Adam and I pulled it off!



Monday, July 2, 2018

Tracy Anderson Targeted Boot Camp: DVD Review


If you are a follower of everything Gwyneth Paltrow, (and really, who isn't?) than you have for sure heard of Tracy Anderson.

I'm joking, of course, if you are a GOOP fiend, you most likely don't read this blog as my penchant for empirical evidence clashes with her philosophy of claiming the most ridiculous things have health benefits (hello steaming your vagina???).

Anyways, Tracy Anderson is the celebrity fitness trainer that has her own *special* training method that will make you look like Gwyneth or Courtney Cox or any other waif-like Hollywood star (by the way, you actually need unusual genetics and a team of hired help to look like them). She also now has exclusive gyms around NYC, LA, The Hamptons,  London, and Madrid. Oh, and the gyms also sell her branded nutrition bars and other merch.

I have heard much about the Tracy Anderson Method: high repetition, low weight kinda stuff so you don't 'bulk up' of course. Its not my kind of thing, I like lifting lots of heavy weight and I don't find it 'bulks' me. I often buy clothes in children's sizes if that tells you anything. But I have been very curious to try it, especially because I just like lots of variety in my workouts. It keeps things from getting boring. So when I saw this DVD: Tracy Anderson Targeted Boot Camp for like $9 on Amazon.ca, I couldn't resist.

So its 20 minutes of abs, 20 minutes of glutes, and 20 minutes of hip and thigh exercises, almost all on the mat. You can add ankle weights, and for the standing few exercise/stretches, you can use hand weights.

The thing I like is that the exercise aren't same old, same old. She kind of invents stuff so its unique. What I don't like is some of the moves are kind of awkward and hard to follow, and even with a folded over yoga mat, my knees didn't like having so much pressure on them for so long (next time I will try it with our thicker gym mat).

My impression is that these types of exercises are actually better for rehab type purposes than transforming you into looking like a Hollywood actor.  If you have weakness in your core, glutes or hips, you may be able to improve performance, heal or prevent injuries by doing them regularly, but you are not going to drop 20 lbs and suddenly look like Courtney Cox.

I don't think I will be buying any more of her videos, but at least I now know what exactly Tracy Anderson's 'method' is.

Monday, June 25, 2018

IQAir Atem Personal Air Purifier: Product Review



I don't know if you've heard, but apparently, at least for us folks here in Canada, quite often the air in our homes is poorer quality than outdoors.

Since we are a congested bunch in this house, with various seasonal allergies, this concerns me. So I was thrilled to be sent an Atem air purifier from IQAir to try along with the IQAir AirVisual Pro thingamadoodle.

The Atem removes small particulate matter from the air that comes from outdoor pollution, and indoor toxins (cooking, cleaning products, etc.). The potential health risks range from eye and nose irritation, breathing problems, to asthma, cancer and heart disease.

In particular, I worry about our basement, because although we don't usually get any water seepage, it is humid, and Adam and I spend a lot of time down there because that's where we have our home gym, one of our bathrooms (where Adam and I usually shower), and Adam's study.

The purifier is about the size of a medium fan but is incredibly quiet. You have to assemble it when it arrives, but even I had no problem with it. They also sent a travel case for it, but I don't think I will be taking it anywhere...though it might be worth it to bring to my office now and again.


The AirVisual Pro is a pretty cool gadget (thingamadoodle), that can also be linked to your phone through an App. I don't really use Apps because, according to my children, I am an old person. But I know lots of people my age who do, and who will love this.


Here is all the info it provides:

PM2.5
PM2.5 are tiny particles that damage your throat and lungs. This pollutant is particularly dangerous as its small size allows particles to directly enter your bloodstream from your lungs.


Indoor & Outdoor Data
See your indoor air quality next to outdoor readings from the nearest official monitoring station.


CO2
High CO2 levels mean you need fresh air. Stagnant air has less oxygen, and more bacteria, mold, and other harmful fumes.


Forecast
Plan ahead to minimize pollution exposure and discomfort outdoors. We’ll keep you informed with air quality and weather data up to 3 days in advance.


Temperature
Make sure your environment is comfortable, as well as healthy.


Alerts
Receive notifications when air quality fails to meet standards. Smart integration allows you to control smart home devices with action-based rules.


Humidity
Dry air contributes to irritated sinuses, sore throat, itchy eyes and skin aging. Meanwhile, overly humid environments can bring about biological air pollutants such as dust mites and mold.


Advice
We take all of your air quality data into account so you don’t have to. The AirVisual Pro learns from your indoor and outdoor environments to provide you the most productive and cost effective recommendations.

This information is extremely important for people with compromised immunity, allergies or breathing issues.

Ironically, the person who loves this thing the most in our house is Little A, who is the only one who doesn't seem to have seasonal allergies. But she has to know the weather forecast and temperature every morning first thing, so she runs downstairs and turns it on to find out.

In Canada, the Atem retails for $489 and the AirVisual Pro is $399, so these are sizable investments. Do I recommend them? If you have the bucks and air quality is a concern for you, absolutely. I love how quite the purifier is and the AirVisual Pro is very useful to have, especially for me, since I cycle a lot, but try to avoid doing so and days with very poor air quality.

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

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."