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March 2014

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Opposites

Last week I went to see Lady Antebellum with a girlfriend, for those of you who don’t know Lady A is a country band that sings about honey bees, sex, drinking and dancing and they are one of my absolute favourites. I ran into the ACC sporting my cowboy boots and a flannel shirt, which just goes to show that you can take the girl out of the small town but you can’t take the small town out of the girl. The day after the concert, still on a country high, I saw Boyfriend but he left my place around 7 so that I could watch the Leafs game, really.

On Monday I started to worry that maybe opposites don’t attract, maybe you couldn’t get past completely different tastes in everything. Maybe my obsessive love of country music and my tendency to scream epithets in the direction of any television playing a hockey game will one day be too much for my nerdy Boyfriend. But when I asked him if we were too different he laughed, guffawed even, and turned the question back on me asking me if it was an issue for ME. It’s not, not really, I like having someone to tell stories too and since we don’t always do the same thing I always have someone to regale with my stories of two stepping with strangers and that time I traded a bottle of beer for a tent at a festival.

Sometimes I hate that Boyfriend won’t come with me to a hockey game and I don’t understand why he doesn’t want to dance around to Eric Church while slamming pints at an outdoor festival, I really don’t. But at least our lives will never be boring, we’ll never grow tired of each other and we’ll always have a new story to tell.

I don’t know if the old adage about opposites attracting is true but I know that dating someone who is just like me would be infuriating, I’m loud and abrasive and sometimes wild and I don’t like to be told what to do; if I dated someone like me I’d probably hate them. Boyfriend is calmer than me; he brings me a strange sense of peace and calm that I don’t get from anyone else.

I dated the Country Boy, two of them in fact, and in the end they both made me miserable. There’s a big difference between the men we think we want and the men we actually need; Boyfriend has been what I need from day 1. Instead of just being the country girl like I was in the past I get to be the weird, country loving, Doctor Who obsessed, tech geek with a passion for all things hockey and a love of Irish whisky. I get to be all of me and if some of those things don’t line up with what Boyfriend likes to do it’s not the end of the world; I’ll just call him up and drunkenly sing country love songs to him when I get home.

Maintainig a work/life balance

By Kelsey Goforth

The dichotomy of work and play has been a long-standing dilemma in daily life. After two hours of commuting plus the eight-hour workday, it becomes difficult to get all “essentials” done, let alone squeeze in “me time.” Employees are working longer hours and daily errands or responsibilities are demanding an ever increasing amount of time. As tasks pile up, people quickly become overwhelmed. However, there are ways to juggle work responsibilities and still have time to yourself. Here are some tips for finding that balance in your life:

1. Take advantage of Sundays

• Take this day to prepare for the week. Make meal plans and go shopping to avoid mid-week, time-consuming runs to the grocery store. Divide snack foods into single serving containers so preparing meals or throwing together lunches is a simple task.

2. Schedule “me-time”

• When life gets hectic, taking time for yourself often gets put on the back burner. Plan blocks of time to do whatever makes you happy. Whether it’s 20 minutes to read your favourite novel or a full afternoon of browsing an art museum, make sure you have time to clear your head.

• Exercise, as important as it is, is often neglected. Join a gym or fitness class close to your workplace so you can go before or after work or even on your lunch break. Not only will this improve your health but your overall well-being will get a boost too.

3. Make meals easy

• Spend a weekend afternoon making food to last throughout the week. Soups, stews and chili can all be frozen in small portions, ensuring days of lunches and quick dinners.

• Prepare produce as soon as it’s purchased. Slicing up your vegetables not only saves time during the week, but also saves room in your fridge. As an added bonus, having pre-cut produce readily available leads to healthier snacking options.

• When cooking, clean up your mess as you make it. Wipe down cutting boards once you’re done chopping and wash pans as soon as you’re finished with them so that when you’re done eating, all that’s left to be cleaned are plates and cutlery.

4. Nurture relationships

• After an eight-hour day, it is tempting to go home, do what needs to be done and go straight to bed. To maintain happiness and balance in your life, however, it’s important to ensure that you sustain bonds with family and friends. Schedule enjoyable events and activities such as family hockey games, dinners with friends or trips to museums.

5. Set boundaries

• Don’t take work home with you. Avoid checking emails after work hours or staying up to work on reports or presentations. At the beginning of the week, prioritize your tasks and prepare a timeline so there are no late nights at the office.

Although it is difficult to brush our responsibilities aside, shortcuts can help keep them manageable. Upholding the importance of family, friends and personal time ensures that life is balanced and stable.

MONEY: 5 trading myths exposed

By Sarah Potter

Day trading ETF’s, Stocks and Futures have become more accessible and mainstream as investment options. Many banks and investment firms have created choices for individual investors to take hold of their finances and invest on their own. Even though these opportunities are gaining in popularity, there are still some myths about trading that need to be exposed.

Myth #1: All trading happens on a trading floor with people screaming at each other

While it is true that there are some trading floors still in existence, a computer and an internet connection is how most trades are executed today. The ability to trade remotely from anywhere using the internet has made trading more accessible. In fact, trading can occur almost 24 hours a day depending on the market. You can pretend you are on a trading floor and scream at the computer screen, but it won’t help to enter or exit a trade.

Myth #2: All traders are men in suits

The trading world is certainly dominated by men, but this doesn’t mean that women are less adept at trading successfully. Trading is like any other skill that has to be learned and mastered to trade successfully. With a good trading plan, anyone can learn to trade. Surprisingly enough, it doesn’t matter what clothes you wear. Suits look nice, but they don’t help you become a better trader. Since trading can occur from the comfort of your home, the dress code is at your discretion.

Myth #3: You have to have a PhD in economics or other accreditations to trade

Like other investment strategies, trading is a skill that can be learned and can be profitable. You don’t need a special degree to trade. Just like any other investment, there are risks involved. But just like other investment options, there are high risk and lower risk trades that can be made. The key is to have a clear trading plan, and to trade within your risk parameters.  There are an abundance of ways to access information about trading various markets. Some strategies are complicated, and some are straight forward.  Just remember that trading and gambling are not the same thing.

Myth #4: You need to watch the news all day to understand what is going on in the markets

This might be shocking to some of you, but I trade all day and choose not to watch some of the large news broadcasters. With the abundance of information that is available online, when the news hits, it often means the move in the market has already happened. News broadcasts and financial reporters can provide some information to help support your trading plan but it should not be your only source. While it is important to balance a broad view of the markets, analysing charts from multiple time frames or listening to independent market analysis can be very valuable.

Myth #5: You have to sit in front of a computer screen and be focused on the markets all day to trade

There are many styles of trading. Some trading plans buy or sell positions and hold over days or weeks, while other trading plans focus on entering and exiting a trade within a few minutes. Different markets and strategies have different personalities. It’s important to find a trading style and personality that suits you.  Spend some time researching various markets that fit your trading style and match the time you can invest to trade.

Porn: The dreaded mistress in our relationships

If your man says he doesn’t watch it, he’s probably lying. With a dreaded rep for making wives wince and girlfriends erupt with jealousy, porn is the seductive mistress luring our men into a world of unrealistic eroticism and fantasy.

Recent studies indicate that men in relationships watch porn about 1.7 times a week for around 20 minutes, according to Professor Simon Louis Lajeunesse from the University of Montreal. These stats are not surprising with the growing availability of high definition porn today.  At all times, men can easily access porn on their tablets, smartphones, and laptops for quick and easy arousal wherever they go.

Yet, to what extent are women affected by this multi-billion dollar industry? Is there some level of pressure to fulfill these pornographic fantasies in order to keep men satisfied? It seems nearly impossible to maintain a comfortable balance between fulfilling these fantasies while also feeling secure and respected. And while it’s important to entice your man, you shouldn’t abandon your personal style of sexual expression.

Of course, men are not only to blame. The palette for porn is shared by both men and women alike.  A couple that embraces porn may be adding a playful element to their sexual routine. So, in many ways, porn can offer a healthy source of inspiration before or during sex. However, a chronic dependence on porn can estrange sexual partners. Couples should also ensure that they can nurture their sexual bond without the aid of a third party. This means being able to separate the hyper-sexualized world of porn from real life interactions.

Yet when it comes to separating fantasy from reality men usually have a trickier time accepting the pornographic world as mere make-believe. In more severe cases, men can become reliant on these steamy exploits as the ideal stimulant.  In an interview exploring this issue, Daniel, 43, shared his thoughts by stating, ” I am happily married but I can’t fully enjoy myself with my wife unless I think about pornographic images in my head.” When addicted to hyper-erotic acts or thoughts, it’s easy to lose interest in real-life sex.

Consequently porn can alienate a woman in her relationship. A woman may become a mere accessory to her man’s mental fantasy instead of being the main attraction.

A recent film, “Don Jon”, explores the allure of porn and its effects. The plot focuses on Jon, a womazing gerbronie, who struggles with his obsession with porn and masturbation causing deteriorated connections with women. Moreover,  as porn feeds his erotic fancies, it weakens his interest in real-life sex. As a result, he is unable to appreciate reciprocal and meaningful sexual experiences. Through this movie, we may recognize how the porn industry can spoil relationships.

Despite these dangers, it’s understandable why so many men become lost in the rapture of porn. The sex is vividly over-glorified: the women are always idealized, the sharp lighting enhances every detail,  and the pleasure is exaggerated to a show-stopping, shrieking spectacle. This often causes real life sex to pale in comparison. Also, men are highly visual, and porn provides the ideal pressure-free gateway to high-intensity visual arousal.

Yet, porn worshippers need to accept reality. The truth is that most women do not wear leather stiletto boots in bed, nor do they yearn to have their hair yanked from their skulls or faces slapped. And finally, most women do not relish being showered in sticky love juices. These are male-dominated fantasies, not reality!

Perhaps porn fanatics should consider changing the type of porn they watch in order to gain more realistic perceptions of sex.

 

3 ways to relieve foot pain

by Dr. Suzanne Bober

Do you suffer with foot or heel pain that feels the worst first thing in the morning?  Does it affect your gait and limit your running?

You may be suffering from plantar fasciitis – a syndrome in which the plantar fascia, a band of tissue that runs from the heel along the arch of the foot becomes irritated and painful.  This strong tight tissue contributes to maintaining the normal arch of the foot. It is also one of the major transmitters of weight across the foot as you walk or run.

It is largely believed that this condition is due to repetitive trauma or microtrauma at the origin of the plantar fascia and is aggravated by the presence of a low arch, also known as overpronation, or a high arch known as oversupination.

Plantar fasciitis afflicts up to 10 per cent of the adult population over the course of a lifetime, and accounts for 15 per cent of all foot complaints requiring professional care.  It is common in people with a high body mass index, pregnant women and most commonly, runners.

If you think that you have plantar fasciitis, there are a number of things that you can do to help reduce the pain.

1. Wear supportive shoes

Firstly, make sure that you are wearing a good supportive shoe. As almost 70 per cent of the population overpronate when they stand, walk and run, it is important to ensure that you have adequate arch support in your shoe. It may be necessary to have your gait assessed properly in order to determine if overpronation or oversupination is occurring.

2. Try soft tissue massages

Secondly, using a golf ball on the soft tissue on the sole of the foot can help to release tension in the plantar fascia.  Sit with the golf ball directly under the foot, and slowly roll the ball on your sole using increasing pressure as you lean into it. Do this first thing in the morning before you take your first step, and this will help to reduce the pain.

3. Try these stretches

Thirdly, it is important to ensure good flexibility of the calf muscles to allow adequate mobility in the ankle joint. Lean into a wall while keeping your heel firmly on the ground and keep your knee straight. You should feel the pull behind your knee. It is important to keep your spine parallel with the wall to get the most benefit from the stretch.  To lengthen the deeper muscles of the leg do the same stretch but now bend your knee. You should feel the pull closer to your ankle now. Hold each stretch for 30 to 40 seconds and repeat three to five times on each leg.

These tips will help to reduce the strain on the plantar fascia by supporting the arch, loosening the tension along the sole of the foot, and improving the mobility of the ankle joint. If after using these tips you still have foot or heel pain, you may require custom orthotics and/or manual therapy techniques aimed at further reducing plantar fascia tension and improving joint mobility. Consult your health care provider if the symptoms persist beyond two weeks.

RECIPE: The homemade granola formula

The first time I decided to make my own, I felt like some sort of domestic goddess. The truth is, making this tasty cereal at home couldn’t be easier and, because it’s endlessly customizable, you’ll never get bored and can tailor each batch to suit whatever you’re in the mood for. Try using the basic formula below to make your own blend (share it in the comments below if you do!), or try my favourite spring-time mix.

Yummy homemade granola

3 cups of rolled grains
1.5 cups nuts and seeds
3/4 cups dried fruit
6 tablespoons liquid sweetener
1/4 cup ground flax seeds
2 tablespoons oil
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 to 2 tsp dried spices
1 teaspoons salt
Optional mix-ins, like dried coconut and chocolate chips

Springtime granola mix

3 cups rolled oats 1/4 cup almonds, roughly chopped
1/4 cup sunflower seeds
1/4 cup cashews, roughly chopped
1/4 cup sun dried raisins
1/4 cup dried cherries
1/4 cup dried blueberries
1/4 cup ground flax seeds
2 tablespoons pomegranate juice
4 tablespoons agave nectar
2 tablespoons coconut oil
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tea spoon sea salt

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 300F.
2. Mix all ingredients together (except dried fruit and chocolate if you’re using it) in a large mixing bowl.
3. Spread the mixture onto a parchment paper lined baking sheet.
4. Bake for approximately 20-30 minutes, checking every 5 until it starts to get golden brown. It won’t be crunchy yet.
5. Remove from oven and allow to cool, at which point you can mix in your additional ingredients.
6. Store in airtight containers. Enjoy with milk, yogurt, or all on its own as a great snack.

6 ways Pilates can help expectant and new moms

Pregnancy, childbirth, and the never-ending needs of a new baby place incredible physical and emotional demands on a woman. Committing to a specific Pilates program pre- and post-natal will do wonders to alleviate the back, hip, and shoulder pain that often accompanies pregnancy and new motherhood. Not to mention Pilates’ positive impact on the stubborn weight gain, the fog, and the fatigue. Here are six ways Pilates can help both expectant and new mothers.

1. Pull up your privates and strengthen your pelvic floor

A Pilates program that incorporates enhanced Keigel exercises with squats and lunges will strengthen your pelvic floor muscles before and after baby. Your pelvic floor muscles are highly stressed during pregnancy and labour and are often damaged during delivery. It’s important to rehabilitate your pelvic floor because those muscles play a vital role in healthy sexual function, urinary and anal continence, and core support of your spine and pelvis.

2. Connect to your core and build a strong foundation

Pilates will strengthen your deep-core abdominal muscles to ease pelvis and back pain and provide more support for weight changes and your shifting centre of gravity. Remember your core is not just your belly! Pilates strengthens, balances, and tones your deep back, buttock, and hip muscles too.

3. Ease the fatigue with better posture and improved flexibility

Your body goes through massive changes during pregnancy and then suddenly you are spending hours cradling, feeding, and carrying your baby. Plus your breasts are huge! All of this compromises your posture creating neck, shoulder, back, and hip stiffness and fatiguing your already exhausted body. Pilates will lengthen and strengthen your spine creating better posture and keeping your body in optimal alignment for everyday activities.

4. Power up those pipes

New babies may not weigh much at first, but they grow fast! Carrying around a 10-15 pound baby for hours every day – not to mention the weight of the car seat and diaper bag – requires upper-body strength. Pilates will not only strengthen your arms and shoulders, it will teach your body how to lift and carry in the most efficient way – strengthening your entire back.

5. Build muscle for better weight loss

It took nine months to put on the baby weight, it’s going to take at least that long and often up to a year to lose it. Total body conditioning with Pilates resistance training will build muscle and rev up your metabolism making weight loss easier. Plus you will feel better all over.

6. Connect mind and body to create a quiet calm

Pregnancy and motherhood are stressful. The concentration, precision, and purposeful breathing of your Pilates work-out will get you back in tune with your body and focus your mind on creating an inner calm.

It’s hard to find time to take care of your own needs when all your energy is focused on the new wee person in your life. Of course we know you will have an easier time after your baby is born if you work at getting strong, fit, and centered before the birth. But it’s never too late – or too early – to get started.

Follow Barbara on Twitter at @BarbaraGrant7 and @RetrofitPilates.

Follow Women’s Post on Twitter at @WomensPost.

Can you be friends with your exes?

Whenever a relationship ends, one part of the former pair insists on remaining friends, even if they don’t mean it, they somehow feel necessary to pretend that their now ex-partner will remain in their lives. But can we really be friends with our exes? Should we?

I don’t speak with the Big Ex; he cheated on me and broke my heart. My friends don’t lie to me, they don’t take advantage of me, and they don’t leave me crying on a couch wondering what I’ve done wrong. Sometimes relationships end amicably, sometimes two great people just realize that they don’t belong together and they go on to be great friends who once upon a time used to have hot sweaty naked time together. But more often than not, a break-up happens because of something more severe and at least one person is left with a broken heart and a bruised ego.

A couple of weeks ago I was out with a friend of mine who recently left his partner after two years; I asked him very calmly if he planned on being friends with her in the future or ever getting back together with her. I did this because you never know and what I had to say about this person could not be taken back; I then proceeded to use a four-letter word that happens to start with a ‘c.’ There were some other words that my inner feminist would not approve of, but sometimes you just need to get your feelings out and this self-righteous woman had all of it coming. That’s the most difficult part about being friends with an ex: once you’ve done something really terrible most friends have picked a side and if your behaviour was bad enough, that side likely isn’t yours. How can you ever be friends with someone when everyone who knew you together now thinks that you’re the worst kind of person for one reason or another?

Boyfriend and I are at the point in our relationship where we have a lot of mutual friends. My pals are becoming his and I love that, but if we broke up tomorrow, it’s easy enough to know who would pick my side and who would pick his. After a break-up, terrible things are said, tears are shed and promises are made; but it’s your best friends who hear the absolute worst about your former love and asking them to just forget about all the bad things is asking the impossible.

Maybe the couples who end things happily knowing that they’ve made the right choice can be friends, but there are some things that once said can’t be taken back; there are some things that once done can never be undone and as a result – friendship is impossible. Let’s all stop kidding ourselves and admit that being friends with an ex is almost as bad as sleeping with an ex; it’s never going to end well and someone is almost always going to have unrealistic expectations.

Follow Shannon on Twitter at @Shananigans.

Follow Women’s Post on Twitter at @WomensPost.