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A trip from Toronto to Tofino

by Susan Ponting

On the way to Tofino, we drove through some of the most beautiful terrain in the world and scenery that rivals Coastal Route One along the California coast. There’s just nothing like seeing this kind of beauty in person.

The road to Tofino was not cheap. Like Toronto, gas is expensive, and it cost close to $100.00 to fill the Hyundai tank.

We stopped many times just to catch our breath and soak in the beauty: lakes, mountains, even a baby bear grazing on the side of the winding road.

We stopped to take in the not-to-be-missed Cathedral Grove where the trees, some 500 to 800 years old, grip you like a long lost friend.

As we traveled along Pacific Rim Highway 4 into Tofino, we stopped at the Tourist Bureau. They cautioned that most of the motels were booked solid, so we took the first motel we could find, The Weigh West Motel. It was, let’s just say, not the Century Plaza. But the people were accommodating, and it was quiet. That night we ate at the Schooner Restaurant where we had surf-line grab, baby back ribs, and drinks for $104.72 before tips.

A trip to Tofino is not complete without seeing the surfers. We set out early on a foggy morning. Handsome and beautiful surfers of all ages prepared to weather the cold waters, I assume, to catch their reason for living for another day.

The next day we stopped in Uclulet and had an awesome homemade breakfast at the Cynamoka Coffee HouseThey also sell local aboriginal art. The co-owner and cook told me about the powerful Pacific storms that hit this coast during the winter months.

From Vancouver to Victoria, Tofino, and back again, it was a trip to remember. It’s a pity flying within Canada is more expensive than flying to the U.S. or even Europe.

Still, with the beauty surrounding all of our friends in BC, like all good Canadians, they complain profusely about the weather. Pat says it’s the kind of rain that gets into your bones, and gets a grip on you so tight it “won’t let go.”  Genoa, born and raised in Vancouver says you “couldn’t get me to move if you tried.” She says the rain is, “better than snow.” And I’d have to agree.

But according to our BC-born and raised friend, Alison, who is a huge fan of Toronto and misses living here, “Come visit in late January and February, and you’ll really get a sense of what the winter is like here.” She too, says the winter rain is terrible and somehow gets into every part of your body.

They groused about the “big one,” that they hope doesn’t come (referring to the apparently imminent earthquake). And, they rightfully complained about the over inflated economy and how foreign investment is unreasonably driving up the prices. And don’t get them started on HST!

The blues scene in Vancouver is almost non-existent. There’s only one blues bar, The Yale Hotel, but for the most part, Pat Axe says, “It really lacks any kind of local scene.”

A part of me thought the complaints were like the bumper stickers in California,“Welcome to California. Now go home.” They really don’t want more people coming to B.C., so they say things about the weather and how we won’t like it if we ever moved there.

As Sam and I walked along the ocean soaking up the sun and noticing how different Vancouver is from Toronto, we agreed that we both feel a certain belonging there. Of course everything’s more beautiful on vacation, but we have an affinity for this beautiful place.

And we will be back.

Oh, and don’t forget to visit The Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory for a marsh mellow candy apple!

This article was previously published on January 11, 2012. 

6 tips to fuel your run

by Vanessa Perrone

If your goal is to keep fit or set a new personal record, the proper pre-run nourishment can set the pace for success. Below you’ll find some fundamental fueling tips to consider before heading out to hit the pavement.

1. Fill up the tank

Expecting your body to run on empty will most likely result in sluggish performance. Instead, fueling up on the proper foods at the proper time will provide your body with energy, a sense of fullness, and sustained blood sugar over the duration of your training.

2. Think carbohydrates

As the body’s preferred source of energy, runners primarily rely on carbs to fuel their muscles. Stocking your diet with a variety of whole foods such as quinoa, rice, pasta, fruits and vegetables are key for maintaining carb stores that will supply the body with energy during long runs.

3. Timing is key 

For most, three to four hours is sufficient time for a regular meal to settle before a run. But if you plan to work up a sweat at a higher intensity, extra time might be necessary. In either case, avoid high-fat or high-protein meals pre exercise. Steer clear of fried foods, heavy meats or rich sauces, as they exit the stomach at a slower pace and can be detrimental to performance.

As your run approaches, your meal should be lighter, should consist of quickly digested carbs and of a small amount of protein — if you can stomach it.

Here are some tested pre-run snacks:

  • oatmeal
  • slice of toast and fruit preserves
  • rice cakes topped with nut butter
  • trail mix (dried fruit & nuts)
  • banana
  • piece of fruit
  • small smoothie

4. Keep it familiar

Although broadening of culinary horizons is normally encouraged, avoid any unfamiliar eats on training day. Stick to trusted foods that will provide you with energy rather than discomfort.

5. Stay hydrated

Aim to guzzle three to four glasses of water within the hours before your workout to ensure optimal hydration on the run.

6. Trial and error

Pre-exercise fuel should be tailored to individual tolerance. To find that perfect balance, you must stay attentive to your performance. Why not journal your pre-run meals along with your running log? This is a sure way to establish which foods work best for you and will help propel you towards your goal.

Follow Vanessa on Twitter at @VanPerrone.

Follow Women’s Post on Twitter at @WomensPost.

Having it all

By Kirthan Aujlay

This article was previously published on July 27, 2012.

Recently, Yahoo! hired a very pregnant Marissa Mayer as their new CEO. Marissa previously worked as the first female engineer at Google and had a key role in developing the design of Google’s homepage. Mayer is clearly a trailblazer, but this hiring seems to be part of a larger trend, as she becomes one of the 20 female CEO’s of Fortune 500 companies, many of whom are also mothers.

This brings up the age-old question of women being able to have it all. Although this may mean different things to different women, in order for women to balance having a demanding career and being a mother certain conditions need to be put in place. Canada has some of the best conditions in regards to maternity and paternity leave. It offers new mothers 52 weeks of paid maternity leave at 55% of the original wages, although the exact wages may depend on the province. After the first 17 weeks either the father or mother can take the additional 35 weeks of leave.

Some European countries offer even better benefits, such as Denmark, Serbia and Croatia, which all offer an entire year of leave with 100% of wages paid. But Sweden is leading the way in progressive parental leave. Working parents are entitled to 480 days  (16 months), and in an effort to encourage more paternal involvement, two of the 16 months must be taken by the “minority” parent.

Sadly, most mothers in the U.S., where Mayer works, are offered a measly twelve weeks of unpaid maternity leave, beating out Mexico and Pakistan for the worst conditions around the globe. American fathers are not offered a single day of paid paternity leave. Conditions in the U.S. speak to the fact that work traditionally viewed as “women’s work” such as child rearing, is still grossly undervalued by society.

It may be a while before governments begin changing their policies. However, some workplaces are beginning to appreciate the struggles faced by working parents, and are changing the landscape accordingly by offering onsite daycare for their employees’ children, or are allowing parents to work from home through email and videoconferencing. The issue isn’t so much whether new mothers can handle their workloads, but whether or not employers are willing to alter their views of how work should be completed. Although women have long been balancing work and motherhood, women like Marissa Mayer are challenging traditional notions of what it means to be a working mom.

Finally, it’s important to reiterate that having it all means different things for different people. Not every woman has an innate desire to become a mother and not every woman yearns to work her way up the corporate ladder. Homemaking blogs and Etsy shops are breathing new life into traditional domestic pursuits that many people view as old-fashioned or unimportant. At the same time, many young women are eschewing the entire notion of marriage and children and looking for fulfillment elsewhere. Whether women want one, the other, or everything, there is no right answer. All we know is that society is finally realizing that it is up to women to choose for themselves.

League of Lady Wrestlers: How I Fight

by Dirty Ol’ Maude

Most call me Maude, but I’ve been called all sorts over the years, though I don’t care what you call me, so long as it’s with respect. In the ring, I’m known as Dirty Ol’ Maude, for reasons I’m sure I don’t need to explain to you.

I am 65 years old, a Southerner with thick skin after years in the subarctic North, and I can fight just the same as the day I first jumped into the ring. You might think a 65-year ‘old lady’ would have some troubles bending over — never mind performing a choke slam, but I’ll tell you, this old broad doesn’t have much of those troubles. Physical training doesn’t factor into Dirty Ol’ Maude’s lifestyle; I smoke, drink, curse, belch, don’t sleep enough, and I can guarantee you I certainly don’t get my recommended daily intake of minerals, vitamins, and what-have-yous. I go about my habits as usual before a wrestling match — and I consider my work to be training enough, lifting barrels of whiskey ain’t easy work.

When it comes to wrestling, it’s all about attitude and perspective. I’ve been fighting all my life, and not always in the ring. Dirty, scraping and crawling through the mud alongside loathsome men and boys, this wrestler has learned to fight with more than fists. Sure, I’ll polish up my boots, (I like to get a nice shine to them, see the reflection of the fearful face of my opponent), maybe even find a clean bandana before a match; however, there’s more to my methods. When I decide I’m going to be the ruin of my opponent — that’s it — their days are numbered. I like to get into their head, you know? Really embody all that terrifies them, so when they look across the ring and into my eyes- they are looking at everything they fear, and it’s about to pound them into the mat.

The League of Lady Wrestlers is hosting the Hogtown Throwdown on Saturday, February 22 at the Polish Combatants Hall (206 Beverly St., Toronto ON). Doors open at 7 p.m., first fight at 8 p.m.

Photo credit: Ben Freedman
Photo credit: Ben Freedman

More info available on

Facebook

https://www.facebook.com/events/574180102675816/

Eventbrite

https://www.eventbrite.ca/e/the-hogtown-throwdown-ft-new-fries-tickets-10232867783

and the LOLW website

http://leagueofladywrestlers.com/

 

5 things I learned about investing — at the mall

by Candi Munroe

I love to shop. Since I have started investing for myself I have noticed something else: I observe things. They may seem like simple things, but they are really indicators of something much bigger. This is what I see at the mall — you can test them out for yourself.

1. Supply and demand

This is the most basic economic principle. A product that is in great supply or has too much supply is cheap. A product that is rare or in short supply is expensive. The most drastic example of this is Apple. Think about Apple stores with the long line-ups of people eagerly awaiting the latest Apple iPad or iPhone. Meanwhile, Wall Street boasts of the great margins Apple is getting. Their stock has also experienced an explosion in price. From its 2008 price of $90 to today’s price of around $550 (which is already down 20% off the high), the stock has impressed.

2. Fads vs. Classics

The mall always has the latest fashions deemed ‘in’ this year. This is not unlike Wall Street. Yes, analysts study the numbers, but then they make estimates on what they think will sell this year and make recommendations accordingly. These companies and their stocks are hot and everyone wants to own them. A more classical girl, I like buying good quality products and wearing them year-to-year. I would never buy a fad and expect to wear it into retirement.

3. Are there job openings?

When the economy is better more people have jobs. When the economy is depressed, people lose their jobs. I recently vacationed at a hotel where I had vacationed the year before. This year it was much harder to be served. I waited in line more often and the staff were agitated and overworked. This tells me that the staff has been reduced to save money in a bad economy. So when you are at the mall, look around. Are the stores well staffed? When you eat out, are there plenty of waitresses and waiters? If so, this is a sign that the economy may be on the way up.

4. Are the stores well run?

Are they concerned about their brand and reputation? This is more about individual companies. Which companies take care of their employees? Starbucks give their U.S. employees health care and opportunities to invest in the company’s stock. The employees I encounter there are happy and engage the customers. Good hiring? Good management? Solid policies? Probably a bit of each.

5. Are people buying at or near full retail prices?

Observe the shoppers in the stores. Do they have lots of bags? Are the bags large? (Discount the effect if the discounts are high.) Many people out shopping puts money back into the pockets of businesses and is a good sign that better days are ahead.

Do not let these simple observations pass you by in the shopping haze. Keep in mind that these general indicators tell us how people feel about their job security and how much optimism they have about the year ahead. They can also help guide you to products and ideas that are good targets to research and invest in yourself. And this is fun! After all, ladies, aren’t we all about multitasking?

Fact or myth: Red wine is good for you

by Greg Thomson

There’s nothing like a great red wine when the snow starts to fall outside and the fireplace once again becomes a gathering place to warm chilled bones.  And of course there are rationalizations – I don’t think I could get through a single day without a few great rationalizations. In this case, it’s the favourite: “Red wine is good for me.”

I have a lot more trouble with this after the report I did on cancer for Charity Intelligence. I read many studies that showed a link between alcohol consumption and the incidence of numerous cancers, including breast, colon, and liver. My father died from colon cancer, so I am a tad uneasy with this particular rationalization. However, there is also a lot of data on the side of this argument that I like.

While there is still little causal data, many studies have shown a correlation between moderate consumption of red wine and reduced mortality. Some studies show benefits from white wine and other alcoholic beverages, but the resveratrol and flavonoids – the main causes of the benefits – are found in grape skins, and red wine stays in contact with its skins far longer than white.

The “health benefit” that I like the best is the so-called French paradox. The French and Americans have similar high-fat diets; however, the French have a much lower incidence of cardiovascular disease and some evidence points to the increased consumption of red wine by the French. I love red wine with a juicy steak, so I’ll accept this evidence.

Moderate wine consumption has also been correlated with lower stroke incidence, fewer kidney stones, and reduced incidence of Alzheimer’s. So overall, I’m perfectly happy believing that, as long as I continue to have regular colonoscopies, my two glasses of wine (sorry, “moderate consumption” means only one glass for women) are, on balance, “good for me.”

Wine Reviews

Dominus Estate, Christian Moueix, California, 1997 ($100+) 94
This wine has an absolutely gorgeous aroma full of earthiness and fruit.  The taste is the definition of terroir – you can sense the soil on your tongue.  Leather, peat, and overripe strawberry meld in beautiful union.

Chateau Trotonoy Pomerol, France, 1995 ($150+) 92
What a treat.  It fills the mouth with earthy flavour mixed with licorice, dark chocolate, and deep ripe cherries.  I love a wine that can bring so much together and yet melt in the mouth.

Flor de Pingus, Spain, 2000 ($100+) 91
Ribera del Duero is one of my favourite regions and this Duero is a beautiful wine.  Nice tannins and mouthfeel.  Flavour is tobacco (leaf, not smoke) mixed with cherry candy.  Absolutely sumptuous.

Altesino Brunello di Montalcino, Italy, 1997 ($100+) 90
Wow.  Big, peaty wine with loads of tannins – I can feel the health benefits in my teeth.  Aroma of soil (with a hint of manure!) and flavour bursting out all over.  Chocolate, black plum, and earth all mix together well, but provide a hint of irritation at the end.

7 nutrients to boost your immunity

by Dr. Suzanne Bober

Stress can be high this time of year, which means your body is particularly vulnerable to common viruses. Adequately feeding your immune system boosts its fighting power. There are a number of nutrients to add to your diet now to cut down on missed time from work due to illness.

1. Vitamin C

Vitamin C increases the production of white blood cells that fight infection and increases interferon levels, which prevent viruses from entering cells in the body. It is important to know that you don’t need massive amounts of vitamin C, as any excess just gets excreted from the body. Therefore you just end up with very expensive urine. You can obtain the necessary amount by eating six servings of fruits and vegetables per day.

2. Vitamin E

Vitamin E helps to stimulate the production of natural killer cells, which seek out and destroy viruses, bacteria and cancer cells. It may also reverse the decline in the immune system seen with aging. Seeds, vegetable oils, and grains are good sources, but supplementation may be needed to reach the recommended 100-400mg per day.

3. Carotenoids

Carotenoids increase the number of infection-fighting cells as well as mop up excess free radicals that accelerate aging. Carrots are high in beta-carotene, which the body converts to vitamin A to boost immune function.

4. Bioflavinoids

Bioflavinoids help to protect the body’s cells against environmental pollutants. A diet that contains a wide variety of fruits and vegetables will help you get the bioflavinoids needed to help increase your immunity.

5. Zinc

Zinc increases the production of white blood cells and helps them to fight infection more aggressively. It also increases the number of T-cells that fight against viruses, especially in the elderly who are often deficient in zinc, and whose immune system often weakens with age. Be careful with zinc supplements however, as too much zinc can actually lead to reduced immunity. Generally 15-25mg per day is adequate.

6. Garlic

Garlic is a powerful anti-viral, anti-bacterial and anti-fungal nutrient that is also rich in antioxidants. It also helps to lower blood-cholesterol levels.

7. Omega-3

Omega-3 fatty acids increase the activity of phagocytes, which are the white blood cells that eat up bacteria. They also protect the body against damage from over-reaction to infection. Always ensure that you are taking additional vitamin E when taking omega-3 supplements for antioxidant protection, as they act together to boost the immune system. Add one or two teaspoons of flax oil to a fruit and yogurt smoothie.

If you do happen to fall ill with a cold, stay away from drinking milk as this will increase the production of mucous in the nasal passages. Hot foods such as chili peppers and onions contain ‘mucolytics’ which break up the mucous that accumulates in the nasal passages.

Arm yourself with these nutrients now, to prevent a cold or flu from overcoming you over this season; your immune system will thank you.

Take a trip to beautiful British Columbia

by Susan Ponting

Perhaps you’ve already visited British Columbia, with its wonder-filled, seaside, Canadian destinations. But, if you haven’t been for a while, need a refresher, or by chance still haven’t visited spectacular British Columbia – I’ve just returned and have some ‘must-see’ things to do. It was a whirlwind vacation for me and my hubby, Ron. Our trip lasted only six days, but we packed a lot into a short time.

We started out in Vancouver, rented a car, and headed on to Victoria and be still my heart, Tofino, which did not let us down.

We were there mainly to see our niece Sam and her beau, Morgan, but thanks to a West Jet seat sale ($1,216.14 round trip), it turned out to be ‘old home week’ as we connected with former Toronto, blues guitar player, Pat Axe, his wife Genoa, her sister Tracie, my step-brother, Carlo; and a good friend Alison, born and raised in B.C., and who we met when she lived in Toronto.

As I lived and worked in downtown Vancouver in my early 20s, touring the city and outlying areas years later was, to quote Oprah’s now overly used, but still effective maxim, “a full circle moment.”

The first time I went was to escape my life in Toronto – was it Margaret Atwood who said, “BC is the end of the road?” At the time, I went because it was far enough away, and so I left for the coast. It was not easy as a young 20-something working at McDonalds, and adjusting to life in a new city.

The next time I passed by Vancouver was with a friend on our way to California. We had the travel bug and drove across Canada through the Rocky Mountains, which still have a grip on my heart. But we didn’t know what we wanted to do with our lives, yet, and so the stay was, again, “the end of the road.”

This time, and many years later, the trip was pure natural joy. We got to see Sam and Morgan, walk along the beach, and eat at scrumptious food places. We stayed in fancy hotels like the Century Plaza with great views, and a kitchenette, ($168.92 taxes included booked on hotels.com). We also stayed two nights at the Sandman Suites ($345.15 two nights including taxes also booked on hotels.com)both hotels had kitchenettes. The Sandman had a balcony overlooking the ocean, and the Century Plaza looked out high atop the mass of condominiums.

Instead of worrying or working, this time I was able to soak in the mountains, ocean, and this bustling city that is, in a way, like Toronto used to be – a city with a small-town feel.

In celebration of Pat Axe’s birthday we had a scrumptious dinner at O’Doul’s on Robson. The food was wonderful, the service excellent, (our waiter was a dead ringer for Aidin Quinn), and of course the company, was divine.

The food was beyond succulent at Joe FortesSam, who’s a true foodie, and I still talk about the crème caramel we wished we ordered three of. And the calamari melted in our mouths. Ronnie even said the steak was as superior as the PEI Blue Dot Grass fed we buy in Ontario.

After three days in Vancouver, we hopped in our rented Hyundai 4 x 4 (Enterprise $208.42 including taxes, unlimited kilometers, for a five day rental) and headed for Victoria. Stay tuned for details of that leg of our adventure.

Should you hit the gym or work out at home?

by Nicole Duquette 

Exercise for me, like many others, is not a joyful activity, but a trying necessity. It has taken many years for my relationship with exercise to be as painless as it is now, and I still get tripped up sometimes.
After many experiences working out at gyms and at home I greatly prefer at home workouts; although, I have also seen the benefits of a formal gym environment.

The main reason I prefer working out at home is because I am not a fan of group sweating. If I am going to be huffing and puffing, sweating profusely, and contorting my face into strained grimaces it is not something other people need to witness. Another reason I like working out at home better than the gym is that it requires less effort. Given my lack of love for exercise I am not exactly willing to go out of my way to wake up early, pack a bag, and drive to the gym before starting to workout. At home, I can workout whenever I have the time or motivation. No planning required.

However, other people are one thing that can be considered an advantage of going to the gym. The gym provides a social aspect that working out at home doesn’t. Going to the gym with others is a good way to spend time with friends or to make new friends by attending classes or chatting in the dressing rooms.

I recently gave up my gym membership in favour of working out at home because I simply couldn’t justify the cost ($50 plus a month). While the cost of gym memberships is a common deterrent it is no excuse for not exercising. There is some very costly home fitness equipment out there, but it isn’t necessary. It is possible to do an effective workout at home using inexpensive equipment. Don’t have dumbbells? Try water bottles filled with water or sand – experiment to get the weight right. Don’t have a treadmill? Head outside. Already have a video gaming system? Try a fitness game. Also, look into getting a stability ball or resistance band as they are less than $20 and can amp up any workout.

One thing that is worth the cost of a gym membership is the professional fitness trainers. People who haven’t worked out much in the past would benefit greatly from talking to a professional before getting started at home. Short term personal training doesn’t cost as much as long term gym memberships. A personal trainer can develop an individualized fitness program for you, and demonstrate proper exercise techniques to avoid injury.

My running-shoe shod feet may be firmly planted shoulder-width apart at home right now, but I know one of the many benefits of gym exercise will draw me back, sometime in the future. For now, though, I will enjoy the relaxed environment of my at home gym and the privacy of my own shower.