Friday, April 17, 2015

Spring Fling

funny spring

I am cautiously optimistic that the nice weather is here to stay.

That being said, its not outside the realm of possibility that it could turn again since its only April.  But lets stay in the moment, shall we?  And today it is a lovely, sunny 20 Celsius.  Perfect!!

Nevertheless this day started out a bit rough.  Little A woke up in a snit.  I was finally able to pull her out of it by reminding her that it is Friday and tomorrow is her birthday party.  Then as we were rushing to get out the door early so I could get Big A to track and field try outs, Little A spilled her pineapple banana smoothie ALL OVER the kitchen.  I didn't even have time to properly clean it up before we had to leave, hence after returning, I was faced with an extremely sticky floor to mop up.  Sigh!

Fortunately it should be a good weekend.  My uncle from New York is visiting, so aside from Little A's birthday bash, we will be heading to my brother's place for a family get together. 

Have a healthy, happy weekend!

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Yoga Sequencing Deck: Product Review

I never imagined loving working out at home as much as I do.

From the age of 14 until Big A was born in 2006, I was a total gym rat.  I loved gyms, I lived in gyms, I worked in gyms.

After I had kids, I realized that you can stay super fit without all the equipment and without much space.  It not only became a necessity to workout at home, it has become my preference. I can wear what I want, do what I want and I never have to wait for equipment, deal with oddballs, or waste any time on travel.

Whether you love the gym or not, sometimes you can't make it to a gym, health club or yoga studio.  Rather than give up on your routine, its useful to be flexible and figure out a way to get in a session on your own. 

The one problem I do run into with, lets say, doing fitness videos at home, is I get bored easily.  I hate doing the same thing over and over. 

For yogis, looking to develop a practice for themselves, yoga teacher, Jillian Bobowicz has developed the Yoga Sequencing Deck.  It is a pack of 100 cards that you can arrange and rearrange as desired to create endless variations of yoga sessions.

The advantage is not only you never need repeat exactly the same routine, but also you can customize it to your preference and ability level.  You also don't need a DVD player, television, device of any kind or wifi.  If you are stuck, say, in the Amazon jungle and get the urge to do yoga, you just pull out the cards and go for it!

Now I do think you need to have a solid grasp of yoga to use these, otherwise you would have no idea how to put together a logical routine that flows.  A lot of the poses are super advanced and even most intermediate level yogis would be unlikely to be able to do them.  Also, there are no tips for posture, breathing, technique, etc., so you could easily do these poses wrong and hurt yourself if you don't know what you are doing.

Overall, I think these cards are of most use to new yoga instructors who want some inspiration or guidance in putting together a practice and for experienced yogis who practice on their own and want some assistance adding variety to their routine.

Disclosure: I was sent the Yoga Sequencing Deck by the publisher, but all the opinions on this blog are my own.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Fishing for Information

Nutrition information always seems to be confusing and contradictory.  This is particularly true when it comes to fish and seafood.  Its got good fats, its a great source of protein.  But wait, its full of toxins!  Some are good some are bad...but which is which? Some are good for us but bad for the environment...some are bad for us and bad for the environment...ahhh!

To clear up the confusion, the April 2015 Nutrition Action Healthletter provides a guide on your best options for popular varieties.

Tilapia - Go with Canadian, US and Ecuadorian varieties farmed in ponds.  It only has modest omega-3 content, but its low in mercury and fed a vegetarian diet.

Farmed salmon - Avoid any that is farmed in open net pens (most are).  Is high in omega-3s and low in mercury, one study has found that there has been a drop in PCB and dioxin levels in farmed salmon since the brouhaha broke in 2004 but the study was done in Norway.

Trout - Stick with trout farmed in Canada and the U.S. in land-based flow-through systems.  Trout is high in omega-3s and low in mercury and may have lower levels of PCBs and dioxins than farmed salmon because they are fed less fish meal and fish oil.

Canned tuna - Stick with troll/pole-caught albacore from B.C. or U.S. yellowfin.  Tuna has modest omega-3s but can be high in mercury so intake should be limited.

Shrimp - Choose trap-caught shrimp from B.C. or Nova Scotia, or U.S. inland farmed pacific white shrimp.  Has modest omega-3s and is low in mercury.

Catfish - Go for farmed catfish from the U.S.  This fish has modest omega-3s but is low in mercury and fed a vegetarian diet.

Wild salmon - Best choice is salmon from Alaska.  It is high in omega-3s and low in mercury.

Now these choices, which are best for people and for the environment, are also going to be the most expensive choices.  So what can you do if you can't always afford the 'best' choice, or it isn't available?  When it comes to health, experts say the benefits of eating fish and seafood outweigh the risks.  So eat up!

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Wojo for Mojo: Product Review

Are you an energy drink junkie? Or a coffee addict, or a Diet Coke-head?

Most of us reach for some sort of pick-me-up at least once a day.  Coffee is actually very healthy, but it can do a number on your gut if you have too much, and too much caffeine in any form can be dangerous.

I probably don't need to even say it, but pop and energy drinks are not a good thing.  If they contain sugar than you are usually getting 150-300 empty calories, and the sugar-free ones are full of nasty chemicals.

Wojo believes it is the solution to your healthy pick-me-up needs.  Wojo is a line of liquid...pods, for lack of a better word, filled with a concentrated blend of vitamins and energy boosting herbs.  They contain very little to no caffeine.  There is no sugar, flavour, colours or anything else added at all.  You are meant to simply pour a pod into your beverage of choice.

Although one blend is designed to give you energy, there are also formulations for Focus, Calm, Sun (Vitamin D), Well and Mood.

I was generously sent the Energy and Calm varieties to try.  The Energy vials contain a blend of thiamin, niacin, Vitamins B6 and B12, biotin, pantothenic acid, a 'proprietary blend' of schisandra fruit extract, ginseng extract and eleuthero extract, taurine, and just 12 mg of caffeine. The Calm variety contains thiamin, niacin, B6, B12 pantothenic acid, ginseng, eleuthero and L-Theanine.  Both also contain water, vegetable glycerin, citric acid, potassium sorbate and xantham gum.

Schisandra, which I'd never heard of, is apparently an adaptogen that can help boost immunity and has been used in Traditional Chinese Medicine.  Eleuthero, from what I can gather is Siberian Ginseng.

So what do I think?  Well I don't notice any effect of either, but I am pretty immune to these things.  I can guzzle a Monster Zero drink (which I do once in a while) and won't feel a thing.  What jumped out at me is the taste.  Its horrendous.  It tastes like those large, brown multivitamin horse-pills that are sometimes difficult to swallow.  I don't know about you, but the taste and smell to me is just awful.  I dumped it first into plain water but couldn't drink it without adding a whole bunch of fruit flavoured stevia water enhancer.  I tried just dumping it down my throat like I do with oregano oil, but that was a big mistake (which almost led me to throw up).  On the website they say you can mix it into any fluid including coffee.  I wouldn't advice that!  If this is something you are interested in trying, I would use juice or a smoothie or something strongly flavoured.

So do I recommend this product?  No.  Its very expensive and I don't really see the point.  I suppose if you feel you need the vitamins, minerals and herbs they contain, but don't like swallowing pills than these may be a good option.  Otherwise, get your caffeine boost from coffee or tea, and get your vitamins, minerals and/or herbs individually in pill form.

Disclosure: I was provided with complimentary samples of this product but all opinions on this blog are my own.

Monday, April 13, 2015

That Time of Year Again

First Birthday Tailgate? :)

Hello and happy Monday!  I hate to jinx it, but I think spring may finally be here.  We had such a beautiful weekend.

Its birthday party season in our house again.  Normally that would mean a whole bunch of stress for me since kids' birthdays have become such an event.  But this year I'm somewhat off the hook.  Little A, whose party is next Saturday, has chosen a small chocolate making party at our home and the whole thing is organized by the chocolate company, Chocolate Tales.

Big A has chosen to have a sleepover with just a few girlfriends.  It will be her first sleepover party.  Adam also took her to the Junos back in March as a special birthday treat.

As usual, we are doing gift-free parties because these kids need nothing.  They will each choose a charity to make a donation to in honour of their birthday.

Whew, I got off easy this year!

Friday, April 10, 2015

Ms Clumsy

People mistakenly think that because I am active and fit, I must be coordinated too.  Ha!  I am the Queen of Clumsy!

You know how kids are always covered in bumps and bruises and rarely remember how they got there? Well I am still this way.  Its not unusual for me suddenly realize a finger is bleeding with no knowledge of having hurt myself.  I am also famous for inflicting injury on myself in the most ridiculous ways.  I have dropped a barbell on my face while bench pressing, gotten a black eye from a telephone, and have injured virtually every part of my body while I've been sleeping.

I also seem to have a special talent for hurting the inside of my mouth.  Biting my tongue and cheek is something I do on a far too regular basis, and I have gashed the inside of my mouth numerous times from eating hard things (like crackers or sunflower seeds).  This week I managed to bruise my gum on a piece of kale.  Yes, you heard me!  Now in my defense, it was a piece of stem, and they are kind of tough, but still, Adam is probably correct that I am the only person on the planet that would do such a thing.  Not only is it unsightly (purple and hugely swollen between 2 of my incisors), but it hurts like heck.

So even though it was only a 4-day week, I'm glad its Friday.  I work tonight and tomorrow but Sunday we are going to visit an old friend of mine to see her twin baby girls...I am very excited!

So have a healthy, happy weekend and watch out for the kale.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Be A Turkey Jerky!

If there is one food that has been proven time and again to be really unhealthy and linked with disease, its processed meat. The worst offender, in terms of ingredients, are the nitrites, which increase the risk of colon cancer.  This is why I only buy veggie dogs for my hot dog loving girls, because even though they too are processed, they at least don't contain nitrites.

Nitrites are not only added to hot dogs, but often to smoked meats and deli meats.  Its pretty tough to find these products without, even if they are organic, local, blah, blah, blah.

That's why I love McLean's products.  I've raved about their turkey bacon before, and I have also bought their kielbasa a few times.  Then I discovered they make a nitrite-free turkey jerky!  I am big on protein snacks because I find they are more satisfying.  I bought a few packs for Adam for Passover, because they are also wheat/gluten-free and soy-free. Finally a company that gets it...and it just happens to be a family-owned, Canadian business.  I'll gobble to that!!