Pages

Monday, September 25, 2017

Feelin' the Texture


Oh my Monday! I say this not because it is Monday, but because we have been having endless days of 30 Celsius weather and our A/C is broken! Our air people came and patched it up as a temporary fix last Tuesday, but by Friday it conked out again. That means, for the whole weekend we fried our asses off! They are here now to install a new system, and all I have to say is that if it isn't fixed by tonight. I will seriously cry. Very hot tears!

Anyways...

As you know, I am a stalwart hardcopy reader. No Kindles, no e-readers, no reading things on devices, I like paper books, newspapers and magazines, thank you!

Paper books seem to be sticking around, but print magazines and newspapers have been dying for a while now, much to my dismay. As I wrote about a few months ago, we gave up and went digital for our Globe and Mail subscription and will be going to the PDF version of the Toronto Star soon. Its just becoming prohibitively expensive to buy the print versions!

I have always been a big print magazine subscriber. I love magazines! They are my guilty pleasure. No mindless drivel like People, or tabloids, however, absurdity like fashion magazines! No, I prefer 'lifestyle' magazines, particularly Canadian ones like Chatelaine, Canadian Living and Best Health. I also love Toronto Life, Today's Parent, and occasionally some of the fitness magazines like Women's Fitness and healthy cooking ones like Cooking Light and Clean Eating.

 Unfortunately, buying off the news stand is insanely expensive, and even getting subscriptions is increasingly costly. And then, after I read them, I feel guilty recycling them so I feel compelled to (a) keep them, (b) donate them/give them to a  friend, or (c) put them in the waiting room of my counselling office.

After renewing my Chatelaine magazine subscription last year I received a letter from them informing me that although I will not be getting any of my money back, they will now only be publishing it in print 6x a year. For compensation they sent me an ugly fuschia scarf. I don't wear scarves and I hate the colour fuschia! Then I received no magazines for almost an entire year, leading me to think I was never going to receive any. That was the final straw!

Sometimes, if you can't beat 'em, join 'em!

I signed up for Texture, the app that allows you access to a multitude of magazines online. Its only $9.99 a month, which is far less per year than what I was paying for just a few print subscriptions!

Though I still prefer reading print, I have to say, I am really enjoying my Texture subscription. It sucks down the power on my old Ipad super quickly, but I never run out of stuff to read, which is awesome. I am still getting used to reading off my Ipad while on the subway or bus, and trying not to feel self-conscious about looking like I am a digital junky like the rest of the world, but at least I am not reading off my phone. That's where I draw the line!

The other nice thing is that you get access to your account from 5 different devices so Adam and the girls have downloaded the app and are enjoying it too.

While I am pretty happy with Texture, don't even talk to me about reading books on a device, to me, that is just sacrilege!

Monday, September 18, 2017

Nerium International IllumaBoost Brightening & Shield: Product Review


You know I hate heat so usually avoid the sun, but the summers here are so brutal, you can hardly be outside for minutes without feeling like a roasted chicken (though with all the rain this year we got off thankfully easy...unfortunately, fall so far has felt more like summer 😠). Not only do I hate heat, but I am concerned about skin cancer, so I do everything possible to avoid skin damage from the sun. Even in winter I always have sunblock on my face. Three of my close friends have been diagnosed with basal cell carcinomas, and a woman I went to highschool with has had melanoma twice!!

I am also prone to getting uneven skin tone which can be exacerbated by the sun and UV damage. So I was thrilled to receive Nerium International IllumaBoostTM Brightening & Shield to try.

The product:

  • Works to brighten the skin’s appearance and help even skin tone
  • Helps shield the skin from environmental stressors
  • Helps plump and moisturize the skin
  • Fights the appearance of discoloration, uneven skin tone and skin damage caused by air pollution
  • Can be mixed with: Age-Defying Night and Day Creams, foundation or sunscreen
  • Is ideal for all skin types (dermatologist tested)

The key ingredients are:

Phytolumina
A proprietary blend of plant-based ingredients, alpinia officinarum root extract, physalis pubescens fruit juice and bidens pilosa extract, which helps skin look radiant and brighter.

Niacinamide
A well-known ingredient for more even-toned looking skin.

Kombucha Ferment
A unique ingredient derived from fermented tea that offers a host of skin benefits.

Green Tea
A well-known antioxidant that guards against environmental damage.

Glycerin
Derived from lipids, this skin humectant absorbs moisture and supports skins natural barrier.

Hydrolized Sodium Hyaluronate
Naturally present in the skin, it binds water to the skin for volume and firmness.

Alteromonas Ferment Extract
Helps shield skin from environmental stressors.

Is there research proving this product's efficacy? No, nor is there any for most non-prescription products. The only thing I can tell you is that my skin tone does seem more even than it does by the end of every summer, and even more importantly, I did not have any adverse reaction to it. I have super sensitive skin so products with a lot of active ingredients can often irritate it. The company did do its own 4-week consumer study, which they say upheld their claims.

Do I recommend IllumaBoostTM Brightening &Shield? Hey, if you're cool paying a premium for skin care products and you are concerned about environmental/UV damage to your skin, go for it! Just don't forget the sunblock!

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

Monday, September 11, 2017

Well Nourished: Book Review


The causes of obesity are numerous. They also differ from person to person. Contributing factors include poverty, mental or physical illness, parents (their weight status, genetics, behaviour modelling, what they fed you, etc.), and, of course, lifestyle.

Another contributing factor is culture. You've heard me say it before, we live in an obesigenic culture (i.e. is encourages obesity). How does it do so? Here are a few ways:

1. Abundance of high calorie, highly processed food available 24/7, that is cheaper than healthier food;
2. Mechanization of physical tasks (you don't have to churn your own ice cream now, you just open the freezer);
3. Social cues encouraging us to consume (advertising, social pressure, etc.)
4. Focus on productivity/consumption/materialism at the expense of spiritual/emotional/psychological fulfillment
5. Fat phobia

Numbers 4 and 5 are what I believe fuels one cause of being overweight for a lot of people: emotional eating.

Our culture has created widespread depression and anxiety among even the privileged classes. Being the consumerist society we are, people are sold a bill of goods about what they should have/who they should be/what they should be doing, however, even if people achieve it all, they are left feeling empty. To fill the void, they turn to consumables such as alcohol, drugs, and FOOD and numb their negative emotions. Food, of course, has less stigma than the others, but is harder to control, because you can't abstain from eating. Nor can you really ever get away from food or encouragement to eat.

Our veneration of fat is an integral part of the vicious cycle people get stuck in with emotional eating. While food, in and of itself, isn't shameful, being fat certainly is! We treat overweight people terribly! Fat discrimination is rampant. Unfortunately, this means that individuals who are emotional eaters start to develop extreme guilt, shame and anxiety over it, especially if it contributes to weight gain (which is usually does!).

But one of the biggest things that stands in the emotional eater's way of getting control of it is the self-sabotage. Everyone wants and needs unconditional acceptance from loved ones. We don't want to feel we have to look a certain way to get it. So I find many of my clients develop so much anger and resentment over feeling shamed by their weight, that they continue the behaviour spitefully, almost out of rebellion. Unfortunately, they ultimately hurt themselves the most. I often wonder whether emotional eating would be as much of a problem if we lived in a culture of size acceptance. Unfortunately, I don't think we will ever know the answer to that!

The good news is, if you struggle with emotional eating, I have a book for you!  Well Nourished, was written by Andrea Lieberstein, a dietitian and mindfulness eating instructor, among other things, who resides in California (where else?).

The book is like a guide to develop nourishment within the realms that are relevant to our general sense of well-being and commitment. A dearth of these things is what I believe are huge contributors to emotional eating, She includes:

  • Physical nourishment
  • Emotional nourishment
  • Psychological nourishment
  • Social nourishment
  • Intellectual nourishment
  • Creative nourishment
  • Spiritual nourishment
  • Worldly nourishment
Now, if you are the scientific type, and this all sounds a bit to "energy and crystals" for you, fear not! What I love most about this book is that it doesn't just tell you what may be causing your emotional eating, it provides exercises and instructions for overcoming it by maximizing your nourishment in the defined areas.

I think this is a great book and I will definitely be recommending it to my emotional eating clients!

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




Monday, September 4, 2017

Happy New (School) Year!


Its almost a cliche to say, but, man did summer ever fly by!

My counselling practice was pretty busy all summer, which is fantastic, but also means I just cannot devote more time to posting here 😢😢

But I really can't complain, its been good. The girls were in camp almost the entire time. Mostly Harbourfront Kids Camp, but Little A also did a week of sleepaway camp, and loved it. She wants to go for a month next year. We gotta start saving now!! Both girls also went to Kingston and stayed with my parents last week. So last week was really the summer holiday for Adam and I. No driving the girls anywhere, no preparing food for them, no listening to them fighting...it was glorious!

Tomorrow Big A starts grade 6 and Little a starts grade 3. I am probably more nervous than they are. There will be more homework, and so many extracurriculars, that just thinking about coordinating everyone's schedules makes my head hurt! Big A insisted on having us sign her up for 4 different dance classes this year. Little A is doing gymnastics again, they both do swimming and Hebrew school too. Big A also joins virtually every school sports team and club.

Adam's work also gets crazy between now and the Christmas holidays, so I suspect somewhere around November we will all likely lose our minds. Then we'll go to Florida over the holidays.

Even more exciting is Adam and I finally booked our trip to Israel for February. This airplane hater is going to have to drug myself to sleep for the flight. I am already having nightmares about it. Nevertheless, I am excited. And no, we are not bringing the kids.

My 43rd birthday is coming up. Not a major milestone, and not a nice even number either. But the only alternative to aging for humans is not a good one, so I will take it. I am also grateful to be strong and healthy. Really strong. I can kick ass! I also feel like I have slipped into a more peaceful state of mind. I have finally been able to let go of a lot of the nagging woulda, shoulda, coulda, negative self-talk that used to consume me. That, I think, is the advantage of aging...the wisdom that comes with it!

So yay, for a new school year, another birthday and waking up each day to a new opportunity for health and happiness!

Monday, August 28, 2017

Honest Company: Product Review


If you are a mom, than you've probably heard of Jessica Alba's Honest Company.

Just introduced in Canada a few years ago, the company sells products that are touted as all natural and non-toxic. They have lines of personal care products, household cleaners and baby care items.

The company claims to use sustainable production methods, fair labour practices and has a commitment to social responsibility.

In terms of their products, they offer the following explanation of their efforts to ensure safety:

Our definition of safety
Our Honest approach takes full consideration of potential chronic (long-term) impacts, exposure routes, unique windows of vulnerability and a wide spectrum of potential health impacts including carcinogenicity, teratogenicity, allergenicity, neurotoxicity and more. It’s a lot more to consider and weigh, but we think our children are worth it.

We create meaningful lists.
Some companies play on consumers’ fears by saying they don’t use certain chemicals in their products — even if that type of product never contains it. (For example, some food brands label their chicken “hormone-free” and pop a premium price tag on it when the reality is that ALL chicken is hormone-free because the USDA banned the practice in the 1950s!) You can trust that the Honestly FREE Guarantee you find on each product is a meaningful list specific to that product. Each one is a unique and important list of ingredients that can be found in similar products.

Our list is always growing.
While each product has a unique guarantee, as a company, we keep a master list of ingredients we’ll never consider for use in anything. Period. We confirm, to the best of our knowledge, based on information from our raw material and packaging suppliers and manufacturing partners that our products are Honestly Made Without: phthalates (DEHP, BBP, DBP, DMP, DEP); PVC; formaldehyde carriers; alkylphenols; benzene; TEA (Triethanolamine); MEA (Monoethanolamine); parabens; phosphates; chlorine processing; chlorinated or brominated solvents; ceteareth 20; resorcinol; bronopol; quaternium 15; triclosan; sulfur oxides; organohalides; hexavalent chromium; DMDM hydantoin; organophosphate pesticides; 1,4 - dioxane; SLS/SLES (sodium lauryl/laureth sulfates); optical brighteners; mineral oil; petrolatum; BPA (bisphenol-A); a-chlorotoluene

This is just the short list of hundreds of chemicals that we’ve opted NOT to use in our products. And our list is always growing.
The only exception to this claim (to be perfectly transparent and honest) is that we cannot account for or always eliminate background contamination or cross-contamination. For example, most soils naturally contain trace amounts of arsenic which can then end up in plants grown in the soil. This is standard for all products, no matter who the manufacturer is, but we do our best to proactively find the purest, most unadulterated ingredients.

We’re über-vigilant to the latest science.
We stand behind the safety of our products, but that doesn’t stop us from trying to do better. Every. Single. Day.
You can rest assured that we’re doing our very best to understand every nuance of the complex world of toxicology. We’re hyper-attentive to staying abreast of the latest science, actively consulting with our own internal scientific team, conducting chemical safety profiling, referring to green chemistry reports, adapting to new international standards and examining credible lists of unacceptable ingredients (like the International Chemical Secretariat’s Substitute It Now list). And should any new regulations, studies or real risks become apparent and concerning to us or our community, we quickly assess the data, modify our approach and immediately update our formulation (that’s how we roll)!

I know some people will still find these products too commercialized and not natural 'enough', but I am not one of those people. I don't worry obsessively about toxins. If you want to bath with nothing but organic rose petals, or some gloopy thing you whipped up in your kitchen, go ahead.

Though I've wanted to try these products for a while, I hadn't had a chance yet, so I was thrilled when the company sent me some of them to sample. A generous box arrived with shampoo/body wash, conditioner and bubble bath in three varieties: Sweet Orange Vanilla, Dreamy Lavender, and Apricot Kiss. They also sell unscented for those with sensitive noses.

Little A and I usually shower together so we sampled them together. We both liked them a lot. Little A thought the scents were a little light but I like that they aren't over powering. We both felt the shampoo lathers just enough, and that the conditioner is creamy enough to do its job. Having dry hair, I am particularly choosy about conditioners and this one does the job. Its not as moisturizing as some of the heavy duty ones I've used, but its good enough for humid summer days, so that's saying something.

I have very sensitive skin but neither I nor Little A had any adverse reactions to the products.

Do I recommend these products? Yes, they work well and they give me enough confidence that I am using safe products on myself and my children. They are premium, mind you, so along with that comes a premium price. The line is readily available in drug stores here across Toronto.  If the products are not available where you live, you can order them online.

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

Monday, August 21, 2017

New Quest Bar Flavours

Good morning! I hope you're Monday is going well so far. Mine has not been stellar. Little A woke up as a total grumpy-pants, and the weather forecast calls for temps feeling like 37 Celsius (98.6 Fahrenheit). Blech!

I attended the Canadian Fitness Professionals World Fitness Expo this past weekend, but don't have much to share about it, frankly. A few of the sessions I did by TRX were extremely disappointing. I actually found great deals on clothes at the tradeshow so bought a bunch of stuff for Big A and I (she is now bigger than me and giving me hand me downs!). The most interesting thing I did was watch Jillian Michaels do a half hour Q&A. I mentioned hearing her talk for a few minutes last year and being surprised by how gracious she seemed. Well, even moreso this time. She really is humble and down-to-earth, which is so different from the persona she has in a lot of her videos. Also, loved that she reassured us she didn't vote for Trump!

One thing there was a ton of at the tradeshow was protein bars! None new to me though. In any case, I thought I'd post a review of 2 Quest bar flavours that are new to me.

You know I am loyal to my Double Chocolate Chunk Quest bars. But every once in a while I will try a different flavour just to experiment.

Since I adore mocha, I had to try the Mocha Chocolate Chip. The first one I was ambivalent about. They definitely aren't as sweet as the Double Chocolate Chunk ones, and the chunks or chips in them are more crumbly (they are supposed to have cookie crumbles and chips, but it all seems like crumbles to me). As I tried them again and again (I bought a box of 12), I liked them more and more. As much as my favorites? Nope.



Initially being completely disinterested in the Blueberry Muffin flavour, I suddenly was eager to try them. Sometimes I get chocolated out, you know what I mean?

I bought 2 boxes of these babies because there was a good sale.

I love the blueberries, and the white chocolate chunks. The so-called muffin chunks, or whatever they are supposed to be are a bit weird. But overall, I like these too, and they are perfect when I want a non-chocolate flavour protein bar snack.

At the conference, everyone got a free Quest bar in their registration package. I got an Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookie one, which I have given to the girls. But, at the tradeshow, it was one of the few companies that didn't offer free samples. Interestingly, neither did GNC, unlike in past years. WTF? Its all about the free samples man!

Have a good week!

Monday, August 14, 2017

Fresh Back: Product Review


If you workout regularly or play sports, than you know how funky athletic wear can get. After a while, they start to stink, even right after they've come out of the wash.

Its a total bummer because it limits your workout wear lifespan, and that stuff isn't cheap!

I will sometimes soak my clothes in vinegar and baking soda, or saturate in Febreze for fabric, before throwing them in the wash. But those are temporary solutions...and admittedly, you end up smelling like a pickle from the vinegar.

Since Adam and I workout at home, we probably don't have to worry as much as folks who are around other people at gyms or are part of a team, but eventually we can gross each other out if things get too bad. So I was thrilled to take up the offer to try Fresh Back, which promises to get the stink out of your clothes and keep it that way for a few months, or even up to a year.

It involves a 2 step process, with 3 different products that work together. First you wash your clothes with the detergent. Next, you leave your clothes in the machine and wash again (with cold water) using the freshener and bonder. Than you dry as per usual. It can be used in any kind of washing machine, and even with hand washing.

Of course, one of my first questions was, what's in this stuff? Having sensitive skin, I always worry I will get an allergic reaction. The answer is as follows:

Premium Detergent: Sodium Chloride, Sodium Carbonate, Sodium Metasilicate, Trisodium Citrate Dihydrate, Sodium Percarbonate, Dodecylbenzenesulfonic Acid, Sodium Salt, Alcohol Ethoxylate, Amorphous Silica. 

Freshener: Water, Color Stabilizer 

Bonder: Citric Acid, Anhydrous 

While some of these ingredients may sounds scary, I looked them all up, and none are anything to worry about. Just don't eat the stuff or rub it into your eyeballs. If you are one of these folks who obsesses about toxins, then you probably would never use this...but then again, you probably stink and don't care anyways.

In any case, I got no adverse reactions from it and I threw my entire workout wear drawer into the washer with it.

So does it work? Well it hasn't been a few months yet, but after the initial wash, everything did come out stink free! The clothes I have worn since definitely smell fresher, though perhaps not like a lavender sachet.

Do I recommend Fresh Back? Absolutely! Thrown away clothes just ends up in the landfill, and having to replace your workout wear frequently is a huge expense. I think its a great idea!

They also sent us their outdoors version, which I will for sure be using when Little A returns from sleepaway camp. Heck, her sleeping bag, and everything will go in!

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