Come to the dark side, we have chocolate.

Chocolate is the number one most craved food in the world.  The majority of the people who regularly indulge in chocolate are women. It sends us into a state of bliss after one bite – and this isn’t just anecdotal evidence, it’s been scientifically proven. I love dark chocolate and I eat a square every day of 85% chocolate which has only 1.5 grams of sugar [which is ¼ of a teaspoon]. Continue reading “Come to the dark side, we have chocolate.”

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Level up your spiritual practice and it’ll amplify your happiness no matter what happens.

You meditate and get yourself to a good place and then you go out into the world or you  “less spiritually inclined”spouse comes home and it unravels the carefully created feeling of calm and peace you just cultivated. The truth is, nobody in the world – even the worst person can shake a person’s calm and peace if it’s genuine. Part of developing a meditation practice is developing an authentic and intrinsic sense of well-being that no external events can shake. That’s why most spiritual people are also have the most infectious laughter bubbling up from within.

Embracing uncertainty is a sign that your spiritual practice is helping you. Even if you have several decks of tarot cards, runes and oracle cards, you still can’t account for everything in your life. Uncertainty is guaranteed in life – it’s the only thing that’s guaranteed. Instead of worrying about an uncertain future, bolster yourself in the present moment. Savour the good times. Be thankful for all you have in life. When you look at some of the most successful entrepreneurs, they have a lot of uncertainty in their lives. And a lot of failure. But they also have a lot of amazing things – wealth, fulfilling career, character and personal strength. If you think about the number one worrier in your life how happy, successful and fulfilled are they? Probably not a lot or they’d have other things to do than to cling to the status quo. Continue reading “Level up your spiritual practice and it’ll amplify your happiness no matter what happens.”

Pack your bags, we’re going on a gray hair adventure.

grayselfie The white hairs on my head have been popping up consistently since Thanksgiving in 2010. My first reaction to those first white hairs was to pull them out and pretend as though they never existed. I was committed to my bottled hair colour at that time and I didn’t give it a second thought. As a person living with an auto-immune dis-ease, I’ve taken a greater interest in the products I use and how they affect my health now and in the future, I decided to stop colouring my hair. If you are committed to to your colour routine, keep on truckin! My full disclosure is that I did colour my hair for 25 years. Clearly I’m not against hair dye. It may or may not be hazardous to your health, I can’t say for sure. But it’s just not for me anymore and I’m committed to doing what I can to be and to manage my condition without medication. And another thing to note; from the picture, you can’t even see my natural hightlights. They are there – at least 15% of my head is white amoung the light brown strands. That out of the way, if you are gray-curious, then read on!

When I first chopped off all the dyed hair, it  wasn’t such a big deal when it was GI Jane short. But as I started to grow it, they started coming in rebelliously wild and without regard for the order my hair has maintained for 42 years. Even though there aren’t really noticeable at this point, I started worrying about the impact on my career. In an industry like mine, looking “youthful” is important as I’m my own business card. I started researching the topic. Not surprisingly, the world seems to be against women ditching dye. From companies making billions of dollars on artificial hair colour to our own conditioning about looking a certain way, it was pretty abysmal.

And then I discovered Susan Paget’s Gray Hair Adventure. This is where she chronicles her process of growing out her natural hair with humour. compassion and optimism. From there I discovered a few groups on Facebook that were gray positive, though I never posted because as you can see, I haven’t attained silver fox status yet!

During these first steps of my own gray hair adventure, here is what I’ve learned so far:

Change is good, especially when it comes to style. I’m not wearing the same clothes as I did when I was 20, so why sport the same hairstyle? Having silver streaks means a haircut that suits the look. That doesn’t mean I currently have to get my grandmother’s haircut.

Gray hairs need love. The days of using the cheap conditioner are over. Gray hair needs quality products, a weekly mask and Moroccan Oil slathered on every day. Those hairs are wild and wiry because they are moisture starved. Those of us who coloured in the past had a layer of silicon coating each strand which also helped keep them slippery and compliant thanks to the little packet of conditioner in each box of hair dye.

I’m the only person who notices [or cares about] my hair. Everyone I’ve lamented to about this change my hair is going through normally looks at my head and then gives me a confused look as to what I’m so worried about.

My hair is just one aspect of my overall look. I forget this sometimes. Getting in those workouts and maintain a fit body, having a good haircut, having eyebrows groomed, these are all things that are way more important than a hair colour. In fact, many women colour their hair with the ideas that it’s “good enough” for self- care. If you’re out of shape and are wearing tattered clothes, who cares if you’ve got perfectly coloured hair.

I’m going to avoid maintaining gray roots. I had that moment when you see that first centimeter of regrowth. I was always extremely meticulous about roots, mostly because in my younger days I favoured jet black hair and my light brown roots were very noticeable. From what I’ve read, the gray hair seems to come in faster and more furious and getting to the salon or having my head in a sink every 2-3 weeks is something I refuse to do. Even worse, is the two-tone hair that people sport when growing out the gray. No thank you. I’ll just let it all come in naturally.

I won’t regret it. Everyone who writes about their decision to stop dying has the single and shared regret of “I wish I’d done this sooner”. I won’t have that regret because sooner is now.

If I colour my hair again,  I’d hope it’s to enhance what I’ve currently got going on. One product I like is Surya which is a natural henna product that has a “Silver Fox” colour. I’m not sure what it’ll look like in 10 years – maybe I won’t have pearly white or stunning silver. I take things day by day and for now, I’m having fun seeing my natural hair for  the first time in over two decades before it’s gone for good!

 

 

 

 



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Resistance is not futile – here are eleven ways to fight colds and flu.

Autumn and winter is when I fanatically pursue ways to keep from getting sick.

Here are some of the things I’ve tried, many of which are part of my regular routine. You can resist the cold and flu bugs being passed around this winter.

Get enough rest – this is the number one way to stay healthy. You’re body needs to repair and recover from the day and to fight anything you may have been exposed to. Getting run down by burning the candle at both ends is one way that weakens you and prevents your immune system from working. If you don’t have the option of getting sufficient sleep every night, focus on getting more sleep at the first sniffle. And at this time of the year, being in cozy in your bed isn’t a hardship!

Wash your hands with soap – apparently your biggest risk is hands being infected from surfaces and then touching your eyes and your nose. Wash your hands thoroughly in the washroom and get into the habit of not touching your nose and eyes. I know for myself, every time I get on a crowded subway car I immediately want to touch my nose. But I resist so that I avoid giving viruses and easy in [and avoid looking gross!]

Drink a lot of water – this will not only help keep you hydrated and healthy, allowing waste to be carried out of your cells, but if you do happen to be getting sick and there is mucous developing, you won’t feel as awful and stuffed up. For women, the average intake is about 2L and for men, it’s about 3L.

Eat a healthy diet – getting the right nutrients though brightly coloured veggies, good quality starches and grains as well as ample protein is going to give your immune system the building blocks to fight infections and illness. Exposing yourself to the highs and lows of sugar or caffeine crashes can put your body under stress and open you up to attack.

Get your C – there’s no conclusive scientific evidence that vitamin C works to prevent or reduce colds but millions of people take it and find it works. There are a number of ways you can take it. The fizzy liquid form: Emergen-C or EnerC are two brands with 1000 mg of vitamin C. The EsterC is more readily absorbed and usually easier on the stomach. Of course it  comes with a bigger price tag but with supplements, you get what you pay for.

Garlic – this one people shy away from but a crushed clove of garlic will blast anything away. My favorite and least challenging way to take it is to crush the garlic, spoon it in and chase it with Pyramid Ferments Gut Shots which is a sauerkraut brine. It seems to neutralize the garlic aftertaste. You’ll want to do this before bed so that you don’t stink up your workplace.

Oil of Oregano – another super effective cold blaster. It very strong tasting and takes some time to get used to.

Echinacea and/or ginseng – I put these together because it’s the combo sold in Cold F/X. It’s not a cheap product but it’s effective. If you’re looking to save a couple of dollars, you can buy a bottle of Siberian Ginseng from the health store as well.

Zinc lozenges – great to dealing with a cough. Another supplement that is not scientifically proven but it couldn’t hurt.

Nasal irrigation – you can use saline spray in your nose or sniff in some warm salt water out of your hand. It clears your nasal passages of dried mucous and keeps your sinuses moist – which is key in keeping viruses from invading. You can also use medicated nasal spray which is a steroid that constricts you’re the blood vessels in your nasal passages. There was a research study that suggested that using medicated nasal spray is effective in preventing colds from flourishing. But it’s one study. And my in my personal experiment, I got a nosebleed after the third spray and tossed it.

Drink chicken broth – why wait to get sick to enjoy the benefits of chicken broth when you are sick? Chicken broth sipped with your lunch or as the main course in a soup can give you the immune boost that you need when fighting the cold.

Even if you end up succumbing to your cold or flu, by taking some of these can help minimize your symptoms so that you’re back on the squat rack quicker.

Continue reading “Resistance is not futile – here are eleven ways to fight colds and flu.”

Embrace your inner earth mama with natural deos.

If there is one thing most people aren’t willing to take a chance on, it’s being funky under the arms. Nothing kills your appeal faster than smelling badly. I have long wanted to get rid of the heavy aluminum antiperspirant that I’ve been slathering on since my teens. But after a few failed attempts at finding a natural deodorant that works, I had given up.

I’m really not a fan of conventional deoderants and antiperspirants. I don’t want to soak up aluminum into my under arms every day. I don’t believe that we should prevent sweating. It’s a natural way of ridding our body of toxins. Blocking those sweat glands can’t be good for us.

Because of this, I decided to give it another go. I started out with a Naturally Fresh salt crystal. It’s like magic. You just get it a bit wet and rub it under your arms. There’s no heavy stickiness or yuk. It’s not an antiperspirant, it’s a salt the neutralizes the odor produced when you sweat. And to be honest, I find that I’m pretty dry when I use it. It also lasts forever. I’ve been using it for about 6 months and it’s still as new when I got it. Not bad for a $5 investment.

But that said, the salt crystal does not survive my punishing workouts. I don’t need to smell fresh as a flower at the gym, but gym etiquette does dictate that measures are taken so that the person on the neighbouring treadmill can breathe comfortably. But again, when facing the natural deodorant section at the health store, it’s really hard to know what will work and what won’t. I almost wonder why these people even bother making deodorant.

I discovered Garden City Essentials which had the ingredients I was looking for. Coconut oil, arrowroot powder, baking soda, tea tree oil, essential oils. All the good stuff you’d want in a natural deo. And it works exceptionally well. It comes in a jar and you just smooth about a pea sized amount on. It smells absolutely great. I use it in addition to the salt crystal during my workout and it’s awesome. I found it at Whole Foods in Yorkville [Toronto, Ontario] and it’s a Canadian product, made by a holistic nutritionist in St. Catherines. They have an online shop as  well.

One thing I want to note is that I eat a healthy and balanced diet and I don’t drink a lot of alcohol. I have already taken care of the internal factors affecting odor as well.

But if you are willing to part ways with the drug store brand you are using, these two together or on their own are great options!

Continue reading “Embrace your inner earth mama with natural deos.”

Beautiful Balanced Bites – my week of meal prep.

Balance is really key when you are meal prepping. I tend to favour high flavour foods, especially because we have a lot of repeated meals to keep it interesting and it usually includes chili powder or curry. It’s important to plan everything out so that you aren’t heavy in one thing. I follow recipes for most dishes because I like trying new things and by the time I’ve memorized a dish, I’ve made it so many times I’m sick of it and ready to try something new.

This week I tried out Yummly for a recipe which is pretty cool. The site asks a number of questions in order to target the best options. The Yellow Thai Curry I’m making is from that site, which linked to another site included the recipe. What appealed to me about this one was that it was for the slow cooker. If I can get my appliances to do the work for me, it’s a bonus! I doubled the amount of garam masala after I read comments about it being a little bland. Continue reading “Beautiful Balanced Bites – my week of meal prep.”

From black to green – making the switch to a better morning drink.

Everyone with a mouth has an opinion about coffee. Some call it unicorn blood and others think it tastes like death. There are a lot of benefits to guzzling double doubles. It helps people survive crushing workouts in the weight room, gives your brain a boost while studying and ups your performance at work. Plus it tastes damn good, imo. What got me eyeballing my morning coffee is that I’m currently staring down perimenopause in my 40s.

As we all know, hot flashes are the bane of menopausal women and according to most of the research I’ve done like this site here, touts the caffeine in coffee as a culprit for this special kind of torture during menopause. I talk to enough women dealing with sleepless nights that result in crummy mood and low energy affecting their nutrition, relationships and workouts. No thank you!

I was and ardent coffee lover, easily sailing over the recommended 400mg of caffeine per day with my giant coffees in hand throughout the workday. What started me thinking was how much earlier and earlier my cut off for having coffee was becoming. Pretty soon, a cup after lunch would have me tossing and turning. I was definitely becoming more sensitive to the caffeine in coffee.

This led me to start reducing my caffeine by having my usual stop at Aroma with a “half cafe”. Eventually the decaf portion got larger and larger while I suffered through withdrawl headaches until I was drinking decaf and to any coffee lovers – it’s a pretty terrible substitute. Add to that, as I travel through life my teeth have become increasingly prone to staining.

I needed another option.

I started drinking green tea. Having tossed out many Tim Hortons cups of green tea, I decided to invest in a good bag of tea and it made a world of difference. That and my Cuisinart Perfect Temperature Kettle (a must for all tea lovers!). No longer did my hot beverage taste like dirt. But I admitedly missed the effects of coffee during the morning – namely the alerness provided and the extra punch at the gym during my morning workouts. Green tea only has a third of the caffeine kick of coffee and so it doesn’t have the same kick as a cup of coffee. I also missed the mouthfeel of a full bodied cup of coffee.

One of my colleagues was telling me about matcha. I decided to try it. Normally what you’d do is heat water to 175 degrees and froth it up with a bamboo whisk which sell for $15-$20 at most tea shops. Because I wasn’t committed yet to drinking matcha, I decided to whip it up in my Vitamix after making my shakes. From the first sip I was in love. It’s a very intense tasting green tea. If you like an earthy, grassy flavour, you’ll really enjoy matcha. It’s also a little creamy because it’s made from powdered high quality green tea leaves. So essentially it’s like an instant coffee, but tea form. It’s about 70mg of caffeine in a cup and the average made-at-home drip coffee in a regular mug (so not a Venti Starbucks Bold) is 100mgs of caffeine. Roughly. I’m not a scientist so don’t quote me on it.

Green tea is said to be great for women going through menopause according to many articles including this one. The way the caffeine in green teas affects us is different than coffee because while coffee blocks receptors that makes us feel tired and is easy to knock back eay too many cups which can leave us jittery, green tea’s L-Theanine content helps delay the caffeine effect a little longer and can help you perform better mentally. There are a number of great benefits for matcha, a quick google search will bring up pages of websites mentioning everything from cancer prevention and weight loss. Regardless of these claims, it tastes good and provides the boost I was looking for and that you may be as well.

Most importantly to me, I don’t find green tea “addictive”. If I sleep in and have to run out the door, I am okay if I don’t have a matcha. I’m okay if I don’t have green tea. When I was a coffee drinker – watch out if I missed a cup of coffee! I like not “having” to have something. Once it becomes something I’m compelled to do, it’s no fun anymore.

The only downside for many people is that matcha is a little expensive. I have tried the high priced $50 a 50g tin ceremonial matcha and the $26 for a $100g you could use it in a shake matcha. I personally like the grassy taste and I use a blender and it breaks up a lot of grit. So I’m down with saving a few dollars on my matcha habit. In fact, Costco recently started selling matcha for $20 for a 250g tin. Worst case if I don’t like it, I can cook with it or make a shake. Other great brands or Organic Traditions and Matcha Ninja which is so fine, you can mix it with cold water. But I don’t think it tastes as good lukewarm or cold.

Hit up your local health store or Costco to get yourself a mug of matcha.