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How to stay warm in this frigid Toronto winter

It was -30 degrees this morning in Toronto with the wind chill, and according to the Weather Network, these temperatures are here to stay. For newcomers and those living on the street, this realization is even more shocking, not to mention dangerous. As Environment Canada puts it, “extreme cold alerts put everyone at risk.”

The City of Toronto has issued its own extreme cold alert, which means additional warming centres and shelter beds become available for those that need it.

Here are some tips to stay warm over the next few weeks:

Layer it up! I’m talking leggings under your pants, undershirts, and sweaters. When you go outdoors, make sure to wear an appropriate jacket that is warm and wind resistant. Pair it with a scarf that covers your entire neck and your face. Hats, mittens, and winter boots are necessary. If you don’t have any of these items, make a trip to the store as soon as possible. There are still some decent boxing day sales on (thank goodness they last for the whole week) and you won’t regret the investment. Don’t worry about your hair or your makeup in this weather. Just get from work to home safely and warmly — no one will care!

Stay indoors if you can! It’s all about reducing your exposure. In these conditions, skin will freeze after 10-30 minutes of exposure to the air. If you are waiting for a bus, for example, this can be problematic. It can also be problematic for drivers, as an increase in freezing temperatures also leads to an increase in black ice. Make sure to limit the time spent outside and talk to your employer about potentially working from home.

Insulate your home! It may be too late to put a plastic wrap around your windows this year, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get creative. If your radiator is battling against a cold front, your home won’t actually warm up. Drape a blanket or sheet over your air conditioner and windows. If you have to use a staple gun to keep the sheet up, so be it. This will create an extra barrier against the cold entering through these crevasses. You can also roll up towels and place them at the bottom of all your doors. Speaking of doors, make sure all your doors are closed so the heat can fill up a space without travelling to great a distance.

Stay active: The more you sit, the colder you will be. Try to move around, even it if is indoors. Do some yoga, walk up and down some stairs, do some jumping jacks, or even just wander around to different rooms in your home. First of all, it’s important not to lose your fitness regime in the winter, so moving at all is a step forward. Second of all, your body circulation will help you retain heat.

Soup and coffee! Thermoses are your friend. Make sure to warm your insides by drinking lots of warm beverages and hot meals. Invest in a good travel thermos to make sure these meals stay hot for hours. I love my travel mug, which allows me to drink hot coffee from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m.!

How are you staying warm going into the New Year? Let us know in the comments below!

5 natural immunity boosters to prevent sickness

Cold and flu season can be tough, especially during the change in seasons. Generally, our immune systems adapt to the extra exposure in the the environment, but some immune boosters can also help. Women’s Post recommends these five natural remedies to boost your immunity or help you battle a cold.

Ginger-Lemon Flu Shot

When you are feeling a little under the weather or you are just looking for a little booster, you can start your day off my making your own flu “shot”. No, this isn’t something you inject into yourself – instead think tequila, but healthier! Ginger is known for its anti-inflammatory properties and lemon is also known to help you build up your resistance to colds. Together these two make the perfect mix. Simple blend these ingredients together and add an extra touch of honey for taste.

 

Oil of Oregano

Oregano oil is extracted from the oregano plant and had been promoted in many health stores for the prevention of colds and flus. The oregano oil has anti-viral and anti-fungal properties and can be used for many different things including your skin— but most importantly, a few drops is known to help ease a sore throat. Even if you are feeling stuffy, add a few drops to a vaporizer and inhale deeply. If you already have a cold, two drops, three times a day, can help reduce the duration and severity of your illness.

 

Probiotics

Probiotics — or the good bacteria often found in foods such as yogurts or kefir – help to strengthen the immune system. Diet and lifestyle is a major part of keeping our immune system healthy. While probiotics are often recommended to treat abdominal issues, a new study found that strains of the bacteria is also good against the common cold and flu virus.

 

Garlic

While this choice may not be so friendly on your breath, turns out garlic not only serves in keeping vampires away, but colds as well.  Eating a spoonful of raw garlic is said to knock a cold out in the beginning, but if you want a softer, yet still powerful option, boil three cloves of garlic in a medium saucepan with water. Lemon and honey can also be added to cover the smell and improve the taste. Garlic has a popular property called allicin, which is an antibacterial component found in fresh garlic before it is heated.

 

Vitamin D

While we are all familiar with using vitamin C to boost our immune system, studies have shown that vitamin D, is also good for fighting colds and flu. The vitamin D helps the immune cells in your body to make antibodies, to gear up for defence. The best and most natural source of Vitamin D is from the sunshine but it can also be found in milk, or vitamin drops.

 

Stay strong this winter and keep your immune system strong. Comment below if you have any other tips!

5 ways to keep active this winter season

It may be difficult to stay motivated with your workout routine during the dark winter months, but this does not mean you should lose hope that momentum you’ve built up over the last few months!  Here are five tips from Women’s Post on ways to stay active in the winter.

Get out there

The biggest hurdle in embracing the winter season is the cold weather and chances of snowfall. The best thing to do is bundle up, change your mindset, and enjoy the season . Get out there and find something to do. It can be having a snowball fight with your kids in the backyard, or going ice skating with your friends. If you aren’t up for a big to-do, you can always just go for a walk and enjoy the sights — there is nothing like crisp snow on tree branches. Use this opportunity to practice your photography skills or catch up with a friend.

 

Try a winter sport

Just like summer, winter time offers a few sports that you can take part in or at least introduce yourself to, including skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing, and snow tubing. If you want to stay away from anything competitive, try building a snowman or going tobogganing. Check out sites like Toronto Adventures Inc to get started.

 

Try a different gym class

If you’re anything like me, doing the same gym routine over and over gets a bit boring. Add the extra nuisance of marching through snow or beating winter traffic and it’s a wonder you get to the gym at all come January. The key is to get yourself excited about working out. Try something outside of your usual treadmill and elliptical routine. Take a  salsa dance class, do some boxing, go bellydancing, or sign up for a  winter bootcamp. Just switch it up to stay motivated and group fitness classes is a fun way to do so. Check out places like YMCA.

 

Try something indoors

So the cold air isn’t for you? That’s okay! This may be time to take advantage of the indoor track at the gym, or even going on long walks along the Toronto underground PATH. There are many indoor activities that are offered all year round or maybe even take part in your own at-home practice with exercise videos or create a home gym. You don’t have to be outdoors to be active!

 

Be prepared

The best way to get along with winter is by being prepared for all the season has so offer. Layer your clothing, stay hydrated, and create a positive mindset to the season ahead and you will find that it’s a great way to continue doing the things you love. Remember, you’re just trading the beach for an indoor pool.

 

How will you stay active this winter? Comment below !

Parent vs. Winter: A mother’s candid take on the struggles of snow pants

I love winter. When snowflakes begin to fall, all I want to do is cozy up with a warm peppermint hot chocolate and have a snowball fight in the park. As November comes to an end, I look forward to the snowy days ahead, and then I remember.  Two horrible words that all parents of young children shudder to hear: snow pants.

Getting all of the winter layers on a small child is similar to trying to get a spastic jack Russell into his sweater and booties. It involves chasing said child around the house, pinning them down to get their snow pants on, and then desperately hoping that they don’t tell you that they have to go to the bathroom once all the gear is finally on (this results in a frantic removal of all the snow gear to avoid an accident).

The struggles of the evil snow pants vary according to the age of the child. When my daughter was an infant, picking out the snowsuit and fitting it was quite easy because she was mostly immobile. Getting the puffball into the car seat with all the extra layers was quite the opposite. The other problem was the howling tantrums that ensued after I cruelly prevented my daughter from sucking on her toes (a favourite baby pastime).

As children grow older, the challenge of winter clothes changes and arguably grows more difficult. Toddlers are akin to baby raptors and love to run with their legs out to the side much like the creepy monsters that once inhabited the planet. In other words, they are fast and wily when it comes to avoiding winter clothes, often outwitting the most able-bodied parent with their evil plots. Getting winter clothes on involves having to hold them down with your legs and hoist the snow pants on while they try to get away. Luckily, they haven’t quite figured out zippers yet, so as long as you are fast, the snow pants will remain on. Mittens be damned, buy 20 pairs because you will be replacing them often.

My daughter is now five years old and can get her own snowsuit on! This is a miracle after years of wasting 20 minutes on winter gear. But the war of the snow pants has not ended here. Now begins the era of the fashion diva. Even though black snow pants are discounted 25 per cent compared to the hot pink option, my daughter falls to the ground as if I’ve destroyed her when I hold up the black pair. Everything must be pink or purple. The boots, the snow pants, the mittens and if I stray from this ensemble, a level five tantrum begins. I don’t need to elaborate on what happened the day we only had black mittens because she had lost the previous five pairs of pink ones (we were extremely late for school).

Currently my daughter sports a purple felt jacket that goes to her ankles and makes her look like a three-foot 1940’s Russian baroness. She refuses to wear a shorter coat. Over the years, I have learned to pick my battles and it is honestly entertaining to watch her strut down the sidewalk in all her glory while also looking distinctly like a mini-Michelin man. Other tips I have picked up now that the toddler years are behind us also include putting an extra hat and mitts in her backpack and asking her if she needs to go to the bathroom before we start putting snow pants on.

I always add on an extra 10 minutes on our winter walk to school because walking with snow pants is no easy feat. My daughter can barely put her arms down because she is wearing so many layers, and that means we must trek slowly. On the other hand, if she does fall from a slippery sidewalk, her puffy winter layers provide some protection from the fall.  Soon enough, we are used to our winter routine, but of course there are initial growing pains when winter first begins.

In the war between parents vs. snow pants, snow pants always wins. The trick is to laugh at the necessary annoyances of keeping our children warm. Winter can be a wonderful thing with the right attitude, and who better to help us crabby parents get excited about snow days then our little children? As long as they don’t scream too much, right?

Enjoy the winter, and remember, stay warm!