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‘Love Your Age Fitness’ guru Kate Maliha on staying healthy

The cliché, ‘age is just a number’ can be your reality if you look after your mental and physical health.

Kate Maliha, director of Love Your Age Fitness in Vancouver, is a Gerokinesiologist – certified as a Functional Aging Specialist and Medical Exercise Specialist – who believes exercise needs to be more thoughtful as we get older. Women’s Post sat down with Maliha to learn more about her business and her experience in the fitness industry.

Q: When did you form the company Love Your Age and why?

A: I saw there was a real need for programs geared to experiences of aging. I decided to go back to school to learn more about exercise and aging, so I got my masters degree. While my focus in human kinetics was on a variety of areas related to the aging body, I was particularly interested in the social aspects of exercise as we get older, in knowing more about what keeps people exercising as they get older.

My experience in the fitness industry prior to my graduate degree was that the industry did not seem to reflect an understanding of life as we get older and was fairly one-note in terms of both message and offerings – so I wanted to help change how the fitness industry provides solutions for older bodies.

What did you see were problems in the industry, in terms of responding to people who were getting older?

There aren’t a variety of fitness options that adjust for the changes people experience when they get older. For instance, what happens when you get an injury, or have a medical condition and you can’t do your favourite class or sport? Exercise needs are varied as we age, just as the experience of aging is different for everyone. Some exercise needs to be modified for a medical condition or a chronic condition, and some exercise needs to actually be the medicine for a health condition. And just as with any medication, there are specific dosages and specific prescriptions for exercise depending on your health. We need specialists in functional aging to really focus in on these aspects, rather than generalists. And as exercise specialists in aging, our focus is on the nuances of many, many different aspects of aging and the body.

You have a very personal story related to what you do?

Life has an interesting way of driving home lessons we really need to learn. During the course of completing my graduate degree I had both my children – really lucky for me actually, because I had experienced infertility for seven years. I had complications though, and my health really suffered. I also had trouble putting my health before all my family responsibilities. Here I was, after having my second child, and my body seemed broken. I had back pain, some incontinence from child birth, I couldn’t move quickly like I used to, getting up off a chair was hard, let alone the floor. I was stiff, tired. I understood what people mean when they say they feel old, regardless of their actual age. So I was really fortunate that I had lots of research information on functional exercise for aging, and I could apply that to myself.  I was able to take the information I had learned and get my function back, and be really healthy and pain free.  Now I’m so excited, it feels like having super powers, to have applied the knowledge and seen my body bounce back.  And I fully understand what it feels like, to be broken, in a sense. And then get put back together.

What excites you in your role as Director of Love Your Age?

A: Managing stress and keeping emotionally strong were the main reasons I got into the fitness profession 25 years ago, and it’s still my main motivator. It’s really exciting to see where the research is going now in terms of exercise for both mood and cognition. When we think about how we want to age, it’s great to think of the body but we aren’t bodies alone. They aren’t separate from our minds. We need to have strategies to optimize mental and cognitive health if we are going to age well. And new brain research in neuroscience supports the idea that the brain can regenerate, this concept being termed, neuroplasticity. That’s why our team created The Brain & Body Workout. There are just so many aspects of exercise for aging well, and they are all important. We can’t leave out cognition and mood. So we’ve incorporated research-based techniques used in brain therapy, techniques that work on the interplay between cognitive and physical aspects of balance training, as well as mind-body techniques. We are fortunate to have staff with specialities ranging from Osteofit and Steady Feet as well as research experience in brain health and socio-cultural aspects of exercise. We’ve been able to create something new and exciting.

 

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Woman of the Week: Jennifer Febel

“You are not broken.”

That is Jennifer Febel’s personal, and professional, mantra. When she was 19, Febel was diagnosed with a multitude of mental disorders, including anorexia, bulimia, depression, generalized anxiety disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, suicidal ideation and self-harm. “In other words: broken,” she says. In fact, one of the many doctors Febel saw on her road to recovery actually used that term to describe her condition.

Those words had a deep impact. For years, Febel thought she had to live with “being broken”. She was given medications and coping options — but nothing helped. Eventually, her anxiety grew until she couldn’t leave the house.

That’s when she took a chance on a wellness coach, who was able to convince her to look past her scepticism and try some alternative mind-body tools. “The most powerful moment from me was when my coach told me “You are not broken”. To have someone say that was profound.”

“After 13 years of struggling and medication and therapy, I was able to come off meds and I never looked back. I was able to feel how I wanted to feel.”

Febel has an incredibly bubbly personality and a genuine smile. Invite her to your party and she may bring her hula hoop and perform an impressive dance routine. Her fast wit and positive outlook on life is contagious — and if she didn’t open up about her past, no one would know how much she struggled.

Her decision to see a wellness coach shaped the rest of her life and inspired her to go into the field herself. Febel is now a certified wellness coach and master hypnotherapist operating out of Bradford, Ont., with clients across Simcoe, York, and the GTHA. Her business, whose name Live Life Unbroken is inspired by her own personal experiences, helps those with phobias, anxiety, depression, trauma, stress, and general wellness goals. She emphasizes that she is not a medical doctor and cannot treat these disorders, but she can help relieve the symptoms.

“Basically, my job is to help people figure out what they actually want and then chart a path to get to it,” she said. “We often know what we don’t want –  I don’t want to be anxious or stressed all the time – my role is to help them find out what they actually want and how to go about getting that.”

How does she do that? Febel likes to think of the mind like a computer, and her job is cognitive tech support.

“Nothing needs to be fixed. Sometimes, over the course of your life, you download a virus. You call in the geek squad — that’s me! Someone who can manoeuvre the system.”

The current medical model sees mental health as a hardware program, Febel says. Instead, she thinks of things like anxiety and depression as software programs that need to be uninstalled. To do that, she uses advanced mind-body tools that are practiced in 38 countries around the world to find out what’s happening at the subconscious level.

“The problem is you don’t know what you don’t know. The problems are at the unconscious level,” she says. While most cognitive behavioural therapy focuses on the “why”, Febel focuses more on the “how” in order to relieve the symptoms of the “virus”. “In my mind, who cares about the why. It just satisfies curiosity. We focus on how the problem is created– then we can change it.”

Febel respects and encourages the skepticism associated with hypnosis and personal coaching. “That was me,” she said. “When I saw my coach I thought it was a hoax.”

“If you want to freak people out at a party, tell them you are a hypnotherapist. You get two reactions –‘ cool, can you hypnotize’ me or ‘I can’t be hypnotized. ‘I see it as my job to educate. Skepticism is the doorway to the wonder of change – just avoid letting it get in your way.”

In addition to one-on-one coaching, Febel runs a number of workshops through Live Life Unbroken, the most popular being a one-day workshop called “Reboot Your Inner Spark.” This course allows participants to tap into their own intuition and learn how to start healing naturally.

Last year, Febel began a new program called “Leadership Alchemy,” which touches upon communication and connections in personal and professional situations, or how Febel describes it, “how to be a true leader in your life.” She is also co-running a women’s wellness weekend where she will be leading some classes on revitalizing your chakras. During that weekend, women will be taught to find balance and centering in their daily lives, as well as participate in other wellness activities like yoga and magnified healing.

In addition to her workshops, Febel is also a regular presenter at a number of conferences and events. She is currently working on a presentation that will encourage women to stop being so nice. “When I’m “nice”, I have no boundaries. I’m doing what everyone else wants,” she says. “It creates “angry nice girls” who on the surface doing well, but on the inside they are angry and sad. Banish [the word nice] from your vocabulary. Be compassionate. Be kind. Nice doesn’t help anyone.”

When Febel isn’t working, she sings with York Harmony Chorus, an award-winning acappella group of over 40 women that sing in four-part harmony. The chorus competes regionally once a year and Febel helps with choreography and PR, as well as performs. “Every week I get to spend a few hours with these wonderful women and that nourishes my life in so many ways.”

Febel is someone who constantly loves to learn and try new things. She works with her own coaches and uses her own mind-body tools on a regular basis, starting each day with a grounding or energy-balancing exercise like tai chi. She loves to curl and is constantly reading or ordering books online. The one book she returns to on a regular basis is Quantum Healing: Exploring the Frontiers of Mind/Body Medicine by Deepak Chopra.

 

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4 tasty ways to stay hydrated

Was your New Year’s resolution to drink more water? If the answer is yes, you may be hitting your wall. After all, water tends to taste like…well nothing. It’s just a wet liquid that you consume out of necessity. But, it has so many benefits that it’s hard to ignore. It helps with digestion, weight loss, and fatigue — not to mention its actually necessary for your body to function (we are made of 50-60 per cent water after all).

But, how do you get over that darn taste hurdle. How do you make water more bearable? The answer, my dear readers, is the following: infuse it! This is the best health trend of 2017, in my opinion.

Infusion is made of a combination of fruit, vegetables, and herbs in cold water. As the chosen water addition “brews”, it releases nutrients and flavours. There are special infuser water bottles that you can purchase, but it works just as well if you put the add-ons directly in the water.

Still confused? Here are four combinations for infused water that will help you keep your hydration goals:

Cucumbers and Mint: Yes, cucumbers are basically water with a crunch, but they have a distinct refreshing and hydrating taste —just ask all of the spas that include cucumber water as a treat in their lobby. Cucumber also has anti-inflammatory properties so it can help your digestion. Already feeling a bit bloated? Add some mint to your water. It adds a natural sweetness while easing and calming an upset stomach. Not to mention it will make you feel like you are drinking a mojito – minus the alcohol.

Berries and Fruit: There aren’t a lot of medicinal benefits to infusing your water with berries. Sure, there may be a few anti-oxidants released, but not enough to make a difference in your health. However, berries and fruit can add a natural sweetness to your water that you can’t get with vegetables. Fruits like pineapple or cantaloupe will make you feel like you are drinking water on the beach. Just make sure to take off the skins. Have your heart set on berries? Try a mixture of Strawberries and blackberries.

Lemon and Lime: Adding lemon or lime to your water creates a powerful detox effect. It also helps activate your metabolism in the morning if you drink it before breakfast. Try freezing slices of lemons and limes to use as ice cubes. Lay them flat on a cookie sheet and freeze overnight. Then put them in a freezer bag so you can quickly grab them for your water bottle. Just make sure to put a piece of parchment paper underneath so the citrus doesn’t absorb the metallic taste of the cookie sheet.

Herbs and Tea: Not interested in sweet-tasting water? Maybe it’s time to try something a little unconventional — the savoury water. Add a hint of rosemary, basil, or lemongrass into your water for a unique taste. These herbs don’t have a lot of nutritional value, but they can be a nice refreshing change from the citrus water you get at health stores. If you want to get really fancy, combine a herb with your lemon or fruit water. Rosemary goes well with lemon and basil adds another level of flavour when combined with berries.

Do you infuse your water? Tell us what you use in the comments below!

Meditation: the best way to relax with your kids

Children are often overstimulated with too much screen use, too many weekly recreational activities, and too much interaction with the busy urban world that surrounds them. Teaching children how to meditate gives them a stress coping strategy that will be last the duration of their lives. Using the power of breath in any given moment has limitless positive effects on a person’s ability to focus, calm down, and lead happier and more fulfilling lives.

Every night before going to sleep, my five-year daughter and I meditate together. She is often overtired when it gets close to bedtime and is also hyper from the many activities and social interactions of her school day. Meditating for 15 minutes helps both of us to relax and transition into the quieter part of our evening together. When I tell people I meditate regularly with a five-year-old, people often respond with disbelief. “How is it possible to meditate with a young child who constantly has the case of the wiggles,” they ask.

First off, don’t expect a young child to meditate for longer than 10-15 minutes. It is difficult for the little people to stay still and asking a child to remain in a meditative state any longer than a quarter of an hour is unreasonable. Children won’t stay completely still when meditating either, but it will be a positive experience as long as their eyes are closed and they are engaged.  My daughter and I use various online videos that are made specifically for children. They are free and a wide variety is offered. There are also a variety of free apps to download on your phone if preferred.

The main difference I’ve noticed between regular meditation recordings and alternatives made for kids is the way the information is presented. Kids’ meditations often include a storyline relating to a candy mountain or a princess castle that gives them something to imagine while they lie still.

At age five, children have spectacular imaginations and it is ingenious to use their ability to create fantasy worlds in order to get them to meditate. My daughter is so enthralled with the recordings and visiting these imaginative places in her head that she will actually ‘shush’ me if I ask her a question or interrupt. She takes meditating very seriously and it must be silent for the whole 15 minutes (very shocking and hilarious to hear my child asking me to be quiet).

Within the visualizations at candy mountain or the princess castle, the fundamentals of meditation are embedded into the storyline. When you get to cinnamon bun square, you must ‘breathe in deeply’ and ‘stretch your toes’ after you wake up in your princess bed. It works like a charm and is very relaxing. I recommend finding a children’s meditation that also includes motivational messaging alongside the breathing exercises. Our favourites also include messages that say ‘you are a great person’, ‘you are very smart’ and ‘think of all the people who you love and love you’. Motivational messaging and self-love meditations are incredibly healing and help give kids a sense of confidence and security.

Another important element when meditating with kids is a space to do it in. My daughter and I use specific pillows and lay down in our living room. If you have the extra room, create a permanent space meant specifically for meditating. It helps young children connect that space with relaxing and quiet time. I also allow my daughter to have her stuffed animals meditate with us too. Making meditation too serious will make it unenjoyable, and that isn’t very relaxing. Laying down in your meditative space and dimming the lights will also set the mood and helps kids to calm down faster.

Meditation has helped my daughter to fall asleep more easily and is fantastic bonding time for both of us. It also forces busy moms like myself to lay down and set a good example by relaxing for 15 minutes of the crazy day! I have noticed it also helps when coping with tantrums and emotional moments. My daughter will take deep breaths if asked and is slowly developing a life-long coping strategy for stress. In the midst of baseball, swimming, girl guides and work, it is important to slow down and enjoy your kids. Meditation allows for this time and space, and is an invaluable experience.

How do you meditate with your kids? Let Women’s Post know in the comments below.

How to combat your coffee addiction once and for all

It’s one thing for your morning cup of joe to help you get through the day after a long night. However, if you’re on your third cup of espresso before noon and it’s the only reason for your existence at the moment, you may have a slight problem. Sure, coffee helps knocks things off your long to-do list, but it is also responsible for increasing anxiety and depression, indigestion, and other health problems. Coffee addiction is not easy to combat. It takes determination, perseverance, and a little bit of that New Year’s motivation that we’re all currently striving on. With these few easy steps, your coffee addiction can be a thing of the past once and for all.

 

  1. Start on a weekend

It’s probably not a good idea to start your coffee cleanse the week you have a big project coming up. Caffeine withdrawal symptoms can leave you with a brutal headache, not to mention give you a bad case of the jitters. To avoid experiencing these during your 3 o’clock meeting, start your coffee cleanse on a weekend, when you’re at home and able to relax.

  1. Eat chocolate

Dark chocolate not only tastes good, but can help satisfy your coffee craving. You can substitute your morning cup of joe with a good old fashioned cup of hot chocolate, or casually nibble on some chocolate throughout the day. Remember, everything is okay in moderation! Let’s not forget those fitness goals while we’re trying to combat our addiction.

  1. Switch it up!

There may be many reasons why you want to cut coffee out of your life. Whether it’s the amount of sugar you put into your lattes, the increase in high fat dairy that your body can no longer endure, or the overall disadvantages of caffeine, it’s important to make gradual substitutes when it comes to combatting coffee addiction. Start off by decreasing the amount of sugar, switch to black coffee, or try decaffeinated coffee. It’s not an overnight process, so take your time!

  1. Hydrate

The solution to all of your life problems is to hydrate. Increase your water intake! Drinking enough water is known to help combat fatigue, decrease unwanted weight gain, keep your blood pressure down, and well as flush toxins out of your body. The sudden boost of energy will aid in removing other toxins out of your life too, like Jimmy from Marketing. So quench that thirst.

  1. Sweat it out

Another solution that’s not just for coffee addiction, but a lot of other health and wellness concerns, is daily exercise. Increasing your heart rate as well as practicing muscle strength and endurance can help combat the fatigue and lack of energy that may come without your everyday coffee. In addition, exercising releases serotonin, which will put you in a better mood. Not even your dog drinking out of the toilet for the 30th time this week can phase you!

These simple but effective solutions can keep the caffeine at bay! Welcome to a new life of whiter teeth and more pocket change. Don’t forget to share your journey with us in the comments below! Good luck!

Roundup: 2016 Women of the Week

Every week, Women’s Post publishes a profile of a Canadian woman that has done something truly extraordinary. Our staff has spoken with a large number of inspirational human beings — some are volunteering their time, some have founded their own businesses, and some are trying to break down barriers in male-dominated industries.

Let’s start 2017 off right by rounding up all some of these amazing women into one post. Each one will include a link back to their original profile. Do you have a recommendation or suggestion for a Woman of the Week? Send it to kate@womenspost.ca.

Emily Ridout: Co-founder of 889 Yoga

Sometimes an idea just comes to you. In fact, it calls to you — and it can’t go unanswered. That’s what Emily Ridout said when Women’s Post asked her why she started 889Yoga, a yoga and wellness studio on Yonge Street in Toronto. For her, it was about bringing the practices she learned during her travels to the city she loved.

Marni Dicker: VP Infrastructure Ontario

The bulk of Dicker’s career has been in “a man’s world, with a hard hat on and steel toe boots.” A self-described “energizer-bunny”, she works full-time for Infrastructure Ontario (IO), chairs Women Build with Habitat for Humanity, is a distinguished visiting scholar at Ryerson University, is a mentor for the Women’s Executive Network, an executive sponsor of Women IO, and chair of IO Gives Back. All the while, she makes time to go to every single one of her sons’ football games.

Miriam Verburg: CEO of Bloom Digital Media

Do you remember those teenage years — all of the confusion, the expectations, and the social awkwardness?

That’s one of the reasons why Miriam Verburg helped to create the LongStory Game, a dating sim, choose-your-own-adventure type game that helps pre-teens and teenagers learn the ins-and-outs of dating. Users get to pick a character —boy, girl, or trans — and must solve a mystery while navigating social scenarios. Some examples include, bullying, backstabbing friends, alienation and immigration, and experimentation with their own sexuality.

Ana Bailão: Toronto City Councillor 

Ana Bailão moved to Canada, specifically to the Davenport area in Toronto, from Portugal at the age of 15 — and she hasn’t left. In fact, she now represents the ward as a city councilor. “It’s a part of the city that feels like home,” she said during an interview at city hall.

Jennifer Flanagan: Founder and CEO of Actua

More woman are getting involved in certain science, like medicine for example, but Flanagan says there is still a void in research and in technology-based industries. “Whether its health-based research that’s skewed because no women were involved — it affects research outcome. It’s really important to have those voices at the table. And so, that starts really early. Talking to girls – telling them that they can do science and we NEED them in science. We need to make sure women are designing the world of the future.”

Chantal Kreviazuk: Canadian Musician

Chantal Kreviazuk. Photo provided by Chantal Kreviazuk.

Singer and song-writer Chantal Kreviazuk is a Canadian icon who never fails to bring her listeners home. She is someone who loves the euphoria of performing, which is why after a seven year hiatus, she will be back to touring, promoting her new album Hard Sail. “To get to that moment [on stage], it is what we call enlightenment. It is so outer-worldly for me. It is like Christmas every day when touring. It’s scary as hell and exciting,” Kreviazuk says.

Kimberly Caroll: Body/Mind/Spirit Coach and Animal Activist 

Body/Mind/Spirit coach Kimberly Carroll has a voice that is calm, but focused. It has a powerful quality to it that helps each person she speaks with realize how important it is to care for themselves in order to impact change in others. After listening to her speak, it’s easy to understand her transition from a career in radio and television into a profession that allows her to motivate and help people.

Julia Langer: CEO of TAF

The Toronto Atmospheric Fund (TAF) is celebrating its 25th anniversary — and with that milestone comes an opportunity to expand its mandate to include the greater Hamilton area. TAF is an organization that looks for urban solutions to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution, and while it focuses most of its efforts on Toronto, Julia Langer, CEO of TAF, knows that it’s time to expand.

“It’s about recognizing that opportunities for solving climate change are not limited to the 416.”

Erin O’Neill: Chief of Planning, Regional Emergency Operations during Fort McMurray Fire

Erin O’Neill was in Red Deer when she heard about the fire, accepting her new role as president elect of the Alberta Professional Planners Institute. She couldn’t go home and couldn’t get any information. “I was following twitter. I watched the news like everyone else,” she said. “I remember going to sleep thinking I would wake up and not have anything.” Her official position, Chief of Planning for the Regional Emergency Operations Center, meant she was in charge of all re-entry procedures — creating a Recovery Task Force, getting critical businesses like pharmacies and grocery stores up and running, and eventually helping people back into their homes.

Anita Krajnc: Founder of Toronto Pig Save

Anita Krajnc, animal rights activist and Toronto Pig Save Organizer.

Tragedy struck in Burlington last week when a truck carrying pigs to slaughter overturned on the highway. Forty pigs were killed in the accident. Fearman’s Slaughterhouse then walked the 100 remaining pigs to be killed in their facility. Animal rights protesters were on the scene to witness a terrible lack of mercy on the part of the slaughterhouse workers. Anita Krajnc of Toronto Pig Save tried desperately to save any of the traumatized pigs from being murdered. She was arrested for crossing police lines and trying to see the pigs that were being hidden from sight behind cardboard barriers. Krajnc was charged with obstructing a peace officer and breach of recognizance. This is the second time she has been arrested for her humane acts towards these animals.

Jazz Kamal: Boxing Coach, Spoken Word Artist, Musician

Kamal destroys the boundaries of what it means to be a repressed woman, and instead lives a life of truth and integrity. Her story is reminiscent of the fiery phoenix renewed, rising from the ashes stronger and ready to help others find their own light in a time of darkness. Kamal is a boxing coach and helps create a space for women to embrace their power and strength at Newsgirls, a women-only boxing studio in Toronto. She is also a profound lyricist and musician, creating political word-spins worthy of the hip hop greats.

Jennifer Keesmaat: Chief Planner for the City of Toronto

Photo provided by Jennifer Keesmaat’s office.

As Toronto’s first female chief city planner, Keesmaat is keenly aware of the importance of mentorship and constant learning. Of the directors she works with, only two are women. This gender gap is difficult to break. As Keesmaat explains, when you are in a meeting and 90 per cent of the people around the table are male, it can generate stress for women.

 

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It’s 2017! God, it’s gotta be better than last year, right?!

Thank goodness 2016 is over! Am I right?!

It’s been a rough year. A lot of crazy stuff happened around the world and, personally, I’m feeling the weight of it all. But, the best part about a new year is that that last one is over. There is no need to think about it or wonder what could have happened to change things. Instead of dwelling on the past, it’s time to look to the future. And that is a refreshing thought.

The only problem with a shit show year is that people may feel pressured to overreach, maybe even try to make up for 2016 all at once. Trust me, there is no need to change your entire life in the month of January. You have an entire year, let’s not rush things.

You aren’t going to listen to me, are you? That’s okay! Starting anew can be a wonderful feeling. What I worry about is the February crush, when everyone realizes the goals they’ve set are unattainable, and all of the bad things that happened the previous year have consequences that could last until 2020. What happens then?

First thing first. Let’s tackle THIS year before we worry about the next one. Here are some tips for setting those New Year’s resolutions and planning for that high-expectation 2017:

Take time to reflect: I know you would rather not think about the past year, but it’s important to do so. Reflection offers insight into who you are and who you want to be. Think about the decisions that led to happiness and the decisions that led to that depression. Use this time to find out what works for you and what doesn’t. Also find out what is within your control. The results of certain elections and the needless deaths around the world may influence your unhappiness, but there may not be much you can do about it. Maybe you need to get involved in a charity or nonprofit? Make some donations to the causes you are passionate about? These decisions can only happen if you reflect.

Forget physical health: You will always want to change something about your appearance. Whether the goal is to lose weight, get rid of that muffin top, or simply put more effort into your wardrobe — this type of New Year’s resolution never lasts and always leads to disappointment. Instead, why not focus on mental health and feeling happy. This will still include going to the gym, but you will be going for YOU and not for those few pounds you still have to lose. Spend more time outdoors, meditate, think about your own happiness for once. Be selfish this year. I promise it’s okay to do so!

Start small: Pick one thing per month to do or change. That way, your body and mind are able to adjust. For example, say you will go to the gym two days a week in the month of January. In February, you can start eating less sugar. In March, maybe start a weekly dinner with friends and family. Start meditating for 10 minutes a night in April. If you keep this up, by the end of 2017, all of these habits and new traditions will come naturally to you.

Spend more time with friends and family: Nothing incites depression more than loneliness. Everyone is always “too busy” with work, kids, and commitments. Make 2017 the year of re-connecting and/or making new friends.  Plan a monthly dinner with friends so you can catch up and break from the craziness of regular life. Use this opportunity to vent about work and ask for advice about personal problems. And laugh. I’m a firm believer that laughter is the natural cure to everything!

Be active: No, this doesn’t mean spend more time in the gym. This means do more outside of your home. Get rid of your daily work-home-television routine and put down your phone. Go for more walks, go skating, or visit a museum on their “free” days. Get to know the city you live in. Plan a trip somewhere. Travel or plan a staycation. Nothing lifts spirits as much as a new experience.

Ultimately, focus on yourself this year. I hope these tips help make your 2017 a hell of a lot better than 2016.

And remember to walk away from 2016 like this….it will not hold you back!

 

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Woman of the Week: Emily Ridout

Sometimes an idea just comes to you. In fact, it calls to you — and it can’t go unanswered.

That’s what Emily Ridout said when Women’s Post asked her why she started 889Yoga, a yoga and wellness studio on Yonge Street in Toronto. For her, it was about bringing the practices she learned during her travels to the city she loved.

“Toronto didn’t have that yet. It was missing and we wanted to create that in our own city. A place where people could feel very comfortable to go on this path to healing and returning to who they really are, in a space that was clean, beautiful, and accessible”

889 is a quaint little studio located near Rosedale. The storefront is full of essential oils, juices, journals, candles and teas, in addition to props used for yoga, pilates, and meditation. As you head upstairs to the studio, the smell of white tea is unmistakeable. Class participants are free to enjoy a glass of water or cup of tea before and after their session. The studio itself is bright with lots of windows that allow the sun to shine in. It’s the kind of place that automatically relaxes you and breaks down barriers.

The studio has a very loyal following. As one member said, once you take a class at 889, “you’ll fall in love with it”. Newcomers are welcomed with a smile and instructors are patient with everyone, no matter their skill level. The ultimate goal is for people to feel comfortable and at peace — and in that, 889 is very successful.

“We are a beginner/intermediate studio,” Ridout said. “If you haven’t tried it, it’s very welcoming, kind, forgiving, and that is what we set out for. “

Ridout comes from a family of entrepreneurs, but decided to venture into academics instead. She studied commerce with a minor in French. Eventually, she dropped commerce and focused all her energy on linguistics.

Her first job following her graduate degree was with Butterfield and Robinson, a company that designs and runs tourist expeditions, mainly involving hiking and biking around the world.  Ridout started as a receptionist, eventually applying for a temp job in operations working on trips outside of Europe. Shortly after she became Expeditions Trip Manager, helping plan and coordinate trips, as well as acting as communication liaison with the guides overseas.

Ridout loves to travel herself. She spent a year in Spain learning the language and culture. It was actually in Barcelona where she took her first official yoga class, mostly as a way to make friends and use her beginner Spanish. At the same time, her sister Christine was also introduced to yoga during her travels to California and Los Angeles. They eventually got together and realized a passion had been ignited.

The goal wasn’t just to create a yoga studio, but rather a place of wellness, where Torontonians could experience what the Ridout sisters experienced during their travels. What’s unique about this venture was that neither sister was a trained instructor — just entrepreneurs with a vision.

“We wanted to own a business, run the business, and create a space where people can heal, do yoga and be at peace. Look at themselves from an internal point,” she said. “And we did it! We hired teachers. We hired healing professionals. We had no experience at all. It was just a calling. “

And that was about 10 years ago.  Since then, 889 has grown immensely, while still maintaining its foundation — to inspire happy, healthy, and peaceful lives. Ridout likes to say the studio is a reflection of how both sisters have evolved. They helped create and plan a 200-hour Living Yoga School, a program that transforms yoga lovers into capable instructors. Both sisters have taken this course and are now able to teach yoga as well as meditation classes.

They have also added a storefront that sells environmentally-conscious and Canadian-focused products and are teaching a number of private classes for moms and other women that combine essential oils with meditation and breathing work. Ridout is also designing a digital platform for these programs, especially for working moms with little time to come to the studio.

Her biggest piece of advice to women entrepreneurs is to simplify, and then simplify some more. “Keep the offer as simple and clear as you can. If you think its simple enough, break it down again. It makes it simpler for people to understand and get on board.”

Ridout also wants women to focus on something they are passionate about, something that lights you up when you talk about it. “There is enough room in the world for us all to do what we believe in and do what we love. If someone else is doing it, or doing something similar, there will always be your authentic version of it.”

“If you believe in something, create it and sell it. Don’t get discouraged by people who are already “doing” your idea, or something similar, or by a fear that you’re not good enough.”

Ridout has three children, who she says help keep her present and joyful.  She is currently working through “May Cause Miracles”, a 40-day guide to reflection, change, and happiness by Gabrielle Bernstein, for the second time.

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How to deal with winter cravings

Winter can be hard. Over the past six months, you’ve been working hard, going to the gym, eating right, and then winter comes along. But, like an old friend, winter comes back into all of our lives to remind us how great carbohydrates can be. Why were you avoiding hot chocolate and marshmellows? I don’t know, it’s delicious, winter says. How about a donut or muffin with your coffee? Shouldn’t you start that Christmas baking now? I mean, it’s almost December.

Stop it winter! Just stop it! Why can’t you just let us be!

It’s the unfortunate side effect of cold weather. Our bodies tend to crave carbohydrates and sugars no matter what our brain tells us, and that can make it extremely difficult to keep on track. Luckily, Women’s Post has your back. Here are some tips to help deal with those pesky cravings:

Don’t stop working out: Did you eat half a dozen donuts last night? Well, nothing you can do about that except try to work off some of the calories. Make sure to continue hitting the gym, even if it means leaving a few minutes early to take into account the slow snow traffic. If you don’t like to make the trek to the studio, try going for a walk. Yes, it’s cold, but it’s also beautiful. Tell your honey to bring a thermos of hot chocolate and make an afternoon of it. Have a snowball fight or go tobogganing. Doesn’t matter, as long as you remain active.

Drink tea: Instead of grabbing that expensive peppermint white mocha with the extra espresso shot and mound of whip cream, try having a peppermint tea. The best part about tea is that there are so many flavours they can be substituted for dessert. How about apple or pumpkin tea? Maybe a chocolate chilli chai is what you need to warm up after time spent outside in the frigid air? Tea also has the benefit of antioxidants, which can help strengthen your immune system and aide in weight loss. Plus, it has the added benefit of tasting good too.

Take vitamin D: Yes, vitamins are annoying. It’s easy to forget to take them, but in the winter, with the clouds covering the sun, it’s extremely important. Winter can be beautiful, but it’s also quite dark, and this darkness can bring out emotions and feelings you didn’t know you had. This weather can also trigger symptoms of seasonal depression. I’m not saying taking vitamins will relieve all of those symptoms, but it will help in controlling some of those intense cravings and lifting your mood.

Try to make “healthy” versions of comfort food: There is nothing Women’s Post can tell you that will make those cravings disappear entirely, so why not indulge a bit and make healthier versions of the comfort food you desperately desire. For example, mac and cheese is a winter favourite. Instead of pasta, try using cauliflower. You can still enjoy the cheesy goodness, just without the extra carbs. Or if you must get that mocha, make it skinny.

Eat what you want, just in moderation: At the same time, don’t deprive yourself. It doesn’t work. It’s hard enough to resist the temptation to gorge on carbs and sugars without the added pressure of eliminating it entirely from your diet. Have a couple of cookies and enjoy that peppermint mocha. Just make sure not to over indulge. Plan for a small daily sweet — a cookie or a chocolate — and don’t you dare feel guilty! It’s winter for goodness sake!

 

Did we miss something? Let us know in the comments below!

What to look for before signing away your life to a gym

At the beginning of November, I made the decision to get a gym membership. This wasn’t a decision I took lightly. It’s a big commitment! Not only to my health, but also to my pocketbook.

To be more fit, to take your health into your own hands, is a daunting decision. A lot of the time, people say its not worth the price. And, it may be true. A gym membership often costs an arm and a leg, and maybe a few organs. But, it doesn’t have to be so painful, not as long as you do your research and think about your choices.

It took me a few weeks of hard work to decide which gym fit my needs. Here’s what to look for before you sign the papers:

Do your research: Don’t just consider the big guns — GoodLife, YMCA, LA Fitness. Take a look at your community centres, specialized studios, and smaller gyms in your neighbourhood. Is there a gym conveniently located near your home or your work? Convenience is a bit factor. If you need to go out of your way to get to the gym, you may not go as often as you intend. Don’t rule anything out until you’ve thoroughly researched all options. You may just be surprised at what you find.

Decide what kind of workout you want: Do you want to just use a treadmill, attend classes, or get some training? If you, like me, are just looking for somewhere to do a morning run and maybe do some weights, try looking at a cheaper gym. Places like GoodLife are great if you want to take part in group fitness classes or want personal training. If you are a yoga fiend or love kickboxing, maybe look at a few specialized studios. You don’t want to waste money on a gym if you won’t enjoy going, so make sure it works for you.

Get a tour: There is a lot about a gym you can’t tell from their website. The first, and ultimately the most important, is cleanliness. Sure, a gym may be cheap, but if the machines are gross and the lighting terrible, it can be a safety hazard. You also want to make sure there is enough space to do floor work and weights, and that the staff is knowledgeable as well.

Ask about terms: Most gyms will try to lock you in to a one-year contract, but always ask about alternatives. It is sometimes a better deal to purchase a year-long contract — the gym may waive certain fees in exchange for the commitment — but be sure you are ready for it. If you cancel before the year is up, you may be subject to cancellation fees. Also know that a gym, unless the province, city, or a non-profit runs it, must give you an option of paying your membership in monthly instalments. Make sure to ask what’s included in the membership as well, because often there are often different levels that will allow access to certain locations or classes.

Cost compare: This isn’t entirely about cost. Make sure to compare multiple factors. Is the more expensive gym worth the extra money? Will you use it enough to warrant the value? How does it fit into your budget on a monthly and a yearly basis?

 

Do you have a gym membership? What were your factors in your decision?