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Don’t fall for the fads this New Years, Toronto

I was watching television last night when it started — the parade of weight loss commercials encouraging women to join and lose those 10 pounds. The sheer number of advertisements being pushed on social media is just as disgusting. I can only imagine the affect this has on younger women who are already struggling with their body image.

To be clear, I am not opposed to seeking out aide in weight loss. Some weight loss programs can be incredibly helpful and can offer support to those struggling with their journey. But, these decisions are incredibly personal, and women (and men for that matter) should know there is no such thing as a quick fix. Any program promising you a 10lb loss in one or two weeks is bullshit — which means that most of them are bullshit.

This is the biggest problem with New Years. Most people treat January 1 as a reset, a time to set goals and work towards becoming your “ideal self”. It’s like all of a sudden, people reflect on the worst parts of themselves and try to come up with a plan to change them.

What some fail to realize is that things like the happiness that comes from something like changing your appearance can also come from confidence and acceptance. Instead of focusing on a number on a scale, try to learn something new. Set a goal to run a 5k, learn to skate, or go on a hike every month. Maybe it is something artistic like painting or taking up creative writing? By becoming active in something new, you gain confidence and focus that you can channel to other areas of your life.

It’s also about knowing that you can’t change overnight. If change is really what you want, you have to take it in steps. You need to be content with the journey or else you will become disappointed when you don’t achieve your goals quickly enough. Be kind to yourself. Be confident in your abilities. And know that you are perfect the way you are.

But, if weight loss is your goal for 2018 — and there is nothing I can say to change your mind — here are a few things you need to know:

  1. A program can help, but it is not a magic solution. Do your research and make sure your program does not deprive you of a whole food group and that it works for your lifestyle. Remember that whatever you choose, you must also be able to afford it financially. Many of these programs are not cheap in the long run, despite the New Year discounts available.
  2. A safe and steady weight loss is 1-2 lbs a week. Sometimes, it is less, and that is okay! Remember,  it is better to lose slowly than to lose quickly — as most people who do lose weight quickly gain it all back within a year.
  3. Anything with a pill is most likely not good for you. The same goes for any company that insists juices and cleanses that promise you a drop on the scale.
  4. The best way to lose weight is to eat healthier and move your body. Be active. Enjoy life to the fullest.

I am, of course, not an expert. The advice above is from personal experience. Please consult your doctor for more information.

Best of luck in the New Year!

Why do we feel down during the holidays

No matter how much you may love the holiday season — the seasonal hot drinks, the ice skating, the markets, and of course, the holiday itself — it does come with added stresses.

The stress of hosting events, of having to mingle with your coworkers, and of needing to find the perfect gift can be overwhelming. And then there is the lonely factor. For those without partners, every romantic christmas fairytale movie is a stab to the heart. It doesn’t matter how many parties you are invited to or how many people send you holiday cards — December and January can be lonely months with no one to kiss under the mistletoe. Finally, there is the cold weather. The constant grey skies and the fact that it gets dark by 5 p.m. can take it’s toil on the human body. 

So, what do you do when you start to get these feelings? Here are five options that may help:

Take time for yourself: No, this does not mean take time to shop for others or go out with friends. This is serious me time. Go get a manicure or a facial, get your hair done, go for a walk in the snow, or read a book with some hot cocoa. During this time, try not to think about what you still have left for you. Use these few hours to tune in with nature or escape into a good story. Only by taking time for yourself will you be able to manage the rest of the holiday season.

Slow down: Try not to get overwhelmed by that long list of holiday “to-dos”. Make a list, and take everything one day at a time. Try to split your weekend between “holiday days” and “me time”. If you spend your entire weekend shopping, baking, decorating, and going from event to event, come Monday you will be exhausted before you even get to work.

Tap into your feelings: Why do you feel lonely? What are your fears? What is really stressing you out? Sometimes, all of these feelings crash together, making it very difficult to resolve. Take a moment to tap into what you are feeling and determine their origins. Once you know what triggered your stress, you can either avoid it or you can learn to cope with it. Unfortunately, it’s not an easy process. If you need support, ask a friend or close family member to sit down with you and talk it out.

Spend time with loved ones: While you may feel alone at your friend’s party, it’s still important to go. Staying at home, thinking about the feelings you are experiencing, can sometimes aggravate the situation. Pick and choose your moments to mingle. If you aren’t feeling like a full-blown holiday shindig, ask your friends to go get some brunch or see a movie. Do something low key. The important thing is to recognize that you have people in your lives who want to spend time with you — even if it is just one person!

Start something new: This is my personal favourite option. When I’m feeling down, I like to start a project. First of all, it gives my mind something to think about besides the problems plaguing me during the holidays and second of all, it feels really good to try something new. This can be something small like trying yoga or committing to a paint night every month. Choose something that you enjoy or that you’ve always wanted to try. Keep in mind this isn’t a New Year’s resolution. There is no need to choose anything to do with health, fitness, or any sort of physical or mental transformation. Just pick something that you will find fun!

What do you do to conquer the holiday blues?

What’s the appeal of minimalism?

Minimalism — to live with fewer possessions, free from ties and free from consumer culture.

The concept of minimalism appears to be a trend for 2016-2017, especially for millennials who can’t afford to tie themselves down to a set lifestyle. But, while that definition may give off the impression that it’s part of hippie-culture, it’s actually a philosophy more people should be adopting.

As a human being, I generate a lot of crap. I keep movie stubs and theatre tickets, I have drawers overflowing with 10-years worth of birthday cards books and notebooks, and my closet is bursting with sweaters I hope to fit back into some day. And I’m sure I’m not alone.

I wouldn’t label myself (or anyone who falls under that description) as a hoarder, but I think it’s fair to say that I tend to get overly attached to inanimate objects. That is, until now.

One random day in December, it all started to bother me. The fact that I couldn’t sit down at my desk and use the entire space.  I felt closed in and cramped in my own room. Of course, the feeling could be associated with some serious PMS or life-changing obstacles I was facing throughout the terrible year of 2016, but either way I resolved to do something — to de-clutter my life and keep only what I use.

As Kelly Bishop’s Gilmore Girl character, Emily Gilmore, said in the revival: “If it brings you joy, you keep it. And if it doesn’t out it goes.”

The last year has been an emotional roller-coaster, and adopting certain minimalistic principles is a refreshing way to rid your space of negative elements. You’ll find that once you get yourself organized, you’ll feel a lot better. Your mind will be clearer, you’ll be less stressed and experience less anxiety. There is something incredibly satisfactory about knowing what is in every drawer, and being able to open it and see the contents clearly. You’ll also find you have more space in your home than you realized.

I’ve already gone through a number of my possessions and divided them into three — a garbage pile, a donation pile, and a re-sell pile. Anything that I haven’t used over/worn over the past year I’m getting rid of. If something has a strong memory, I may keep it, but I have to ask: “will this bring me joy”. Will I even acknowledge it’s existence, other than when I clean my house and suddenly find it again. Usually, the answer is no — however, if you are overly concerned with the loss of memories, keep a memory box in your closet. When the box gets full, it’s time to re-evaluate those keepsakes.

At the end of this process, you should be left with the essentials. Everything should be in its proper place and your home will look more like a real home as opposed to a place you go to sleep at night. From the money you make at garage sales or by selling larger items online, maybe you can do some travelling? That is the very essence of minimalism — being able to do what you want, when you want to, because you don’t have many unnecessary expenses. And of course, there is nothing like the feeling of dropping off bags of  clothing to good will!

This year, make 2017 about re-adjusting your lifestyle. Go through all your things and decide whether or not they bring you joy. Do you NEED all those shoes? What about that dress you wore once and never had occasion to again?

The answer is no. Get rid of it and make room for new experiences in your life! We can all use a bit more joy in our lives, don’t you think?

Be a rebel: don’t try to change yourself in the New Year

So many people set unattainable goals for New Years. I often hear ‘I’m going to lose x-amount of weight and go to the gym every day’ or ‘I will obtain my dream job and become rich and famous’. Most people tend to pigeon-hole ourselves into unattainable goals carefully concealed as ‘New Year’s Resolutions’. Instead, why not abandon ship on the resolution boat to hell and commit to loving yourself just as you are?

The constant need for change and validation is a long-time tradition that goes back to the days of early capitalism. We can thank our early 1950’s grandparents for our deeply rooted love of the newest and shiniest next-best-thing. Whether it was buying a new car or working towards getting the bigger house, we were taught as western children to always strive for great material happiness. With the social media craze that has erupted and overtaken our lives, society has fortunately strayed from the material obsession with houses and cars, but a darker horse has emerged.  In the present day, the newest cool shiny thing is the commodity of a person’s identity and how they present themselves on a daily basis in our tech-dependant world.

On Facebook and Instagram, do you have enough photos with friends in them? Where are your yummy food photos that must be taken at hip restaurants (make sure to use a rateable app on your smartphone)? Do not forget your cute puppy photos, preferably with a pug sitting on your sexy boyfriend’s six pack.

Back to New Year’s resolutions. Due to the fact that we are literally commodifying our identities on a variety of intensely open social media outlets, New Year’s resolutions are no longer only a cute suggestion. Instead, they have become necessary in order to publically demonstrate that you are always striving to be better (with the hope of getting more ‘likes’ of course). So with that knowledge in mind, I say screw it! Abandon that four point agenda on how you will find your dream job, husband, dog, and white picket fence in the span of 12 months (when you really know four of those months will be spend crying (in private of course) over having failed to find any of the above). It is time to abandon your self-hating commitment to loss a ton of weight and dedicate yourself solely to exercising at the expense of all other pleasures.

On New Year’s Day, in an effort to be a rebel and abandon all New Year’s resolutions I vow to wake up (hungover no doubt) and look myself in the mirror to say, ‘hey, I love you girl’. Once we set aside our false expectations and fake online identities, it becomes apparent that we are all works in progress. I kind of suck sometimes. I fail to get to the gym on my lazy days, I have been caught eating more than one cookie after midnight and clothes do end up on my bedroom floor. But at the end of the day, I remember to commend myself for getting up and brushing my teeth earlier that day. I am growing and so are you. Love all the idiotic moments we will inextricably find ourselves in along the way.

New Year’s resolutions or not, I will continue to be somewhere between my very best and worst, living my life to the fullest and with my camera phone tucked away.

5 reasons New Year’s Eve sucks

New Year’s is an exciting, life-changing annual event, meant to remind us of the people we love in our lives and the potential future that awaits us all. Right? Wrong! It’s all a sham. The reality of New Year’s Eve is an evening full of failed resolutions. There will be a crappy party, which will inevitably result in an even crappier hangover. For all of those pessimists out there, read ahead. For all the optimists, read ahead and we will convert you to our ways.

Here are the five reasons why New Year’s eve sucks:

Goals

1. The New Year resolutions

On the night of December 31, people try to forget the mistakes of the past year and press the restart button. They do this by creating a long list of unattainable goals that they will then spend the next month madly working on before giving up entirely. This is an attempt to make ourselves feel better about all the terrible things we’ve done the past year (ate a dozen donuts in one sitting, laughed at a friend’s obvious discomfort, skipped work just because we felt like sleeping in), and honestly, it isn’t going to work.

Goals such as trying to lose 50 pounds in record time; promising to donate all of your coffee money to charity; or attempting to keep the deep recesses of the closet sparkly clean is not going to happen—and it will only make you miserable. Toss the resolutions out the door ladies and gents, and with it that overwrought expectations of your desired perfection. We are great how we are today, enjoy the present and be mindful of how your actual attributes can help you plan for a great future. And eat that chocolate cake! It won’t kill you.

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2. The inability for any New Year plans to actually work out

Every year, people make amazing plans to attend some friend’s party at the uppermost northern tip of the city, with the thought that they will magically make it down to the innermost downtown core for the countdown, all while enjoying the company of several wonderful friends they see once a year. What actually ends up happening is one of the parties gets canceled and friends are late. The one commonality is that really drunk friend (or work colleague) spills red wine on our beautiful new dresses because they cannot hold their liquor.  The epic plans made each and every year are often too over-the-top and are ridden with expectations of life-changing proportions. Instead, this year, we suggest attending ONE party with ONE group of friends. Sadly, the one person who gets too drunk and spills their drink is inevitable no matter the plans made—in fact, we hope it is you!

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3. The glaring reflection of your relationship status 

The most stressful aspect of New Year’s eve for singles worldwide is the midnight kiss. The thought of everyone kissing their significant others around you — you are left with just a bottle of wine and a face full of tears. It is a nightmare. Seriously, we’ve all dreamt about it. The entire New Year’s eve affair is a concoction made by coupledom to judge singles and leaves many choking down Chinese take-out crying at home when the ball drops.

The good news is that we can fight back! When the countdown arrives, here are a few suggestions to wreak a little midnight havoc. Options include running around topless hollering “down with the patriarchy!” Another choice is to quickly sneak up on your coupling friends and give them a look of irresistible pity so you get two lovely cheek kisses. My third and favorite option is to bring another single along with you and toast to your beautiful independence. This also gives you a pal to snicker with when all of the couples start to bicker after New Year’s when too many drinks have been consumed.

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4. The commute

On New Year’s, everyone is out and about, trying to run from here to there. They will also be very, very drunk. Enough said. Hiring a taxi or an Uber will be out of the question (the wait can be up to two hours or longer!). Despite some transit systems offering free service that night, the commute will still suck. Busses and streetcars will be packed with screaming people drinking out of paper bags. You either have to embrace it with your own paper bag, or just stay home with Chinese take-out. Better yet, stay at ONE party like a normal person, and ask that friend to stay the night.

 

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5. The wardrobe

The glitz of the New Year’s wardrobe is blinding. Short expensive dresses in the middle of winter that sparkle like a disco ball, paired with nine-inch heals to match. These are a hazard ladies! On the other hand, the glitz is a great road reflector and does help to protect against vehicles hitting you. Besides enhanced highway safety, the sparkles and short dresses have got to go. It’s not worth it to purchase an expensive cocktail dress you’ll only wear once, only to have some drunk stranger spill their cheap alcohol all over it. We would opt for a fun, casual outfit that we can move and groove in. Also something a bit warmer than a skimpy outfit — we live in Canada, please dress like it.

 

Overall, I hope you  all take this advice seriously. New Year’s eve can be a great night. It really can. We are not completely pessimistic about the affair. If you remove the intense expectations, over-the-top plans, hope for an imaginary romance, and the glitzy dresses, it will be wonderful evening you will never remember. Because you will be drunk — that part we approve of. To quote the characters of Friends: “Cheers to a Lousy Christmas and A Crappy New Year!”

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How to rock this year’s holiday fashion

It’s the week before Christmas, and that means last-minute parties and get-togethers with friends. But, what should you wear? It’s the typical dilemma: We don’t want to dress to casual, but we don’t want to overdress either. Yes, the ugly sweater may be all the rage, but for those of us who don’t want to look like a knitted nightmare, here are some festive options for your next work party or holiday smash:

 

The glittery shoe: It doesn’t matter if you wear a simple black dress or a pair of jeans — the shoes make the outfit. Dazzle your friends with a pair of silver or gold-studded heels and watch as all the attention is drawn towards you. The best part about the particular shoes pictured below is that they have mesh, which will give your feet a bit of extra support. The glittery shoe does not have to be ten-inch stilettos. As long as they sparkle, you are golden (pun intended).

Le Chateau, $89.95
Le Chateau, $89.95

The classic red dress: You can’t go wrong with the red dress — it’s sexy, flattering, and eye-catching. Most people would go the ‘little black dress’ route, but not you! You are daring, confident, and sexy. And you want the world to know you are here.

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Rosie the Rebel, $95

The sleeveless party top: Sometimes, a dress is just too much. If you are heading to a semi-casual party with some friends, this top is the perfect festive attire. Pair with a pair of black dress pants or with a ripped pair of jeans. It’s perfect under a nice jacket or blazer as well.

Additionelle,  $55
Additionelle, $55

The handbag: A purse is just too much during the holidays — people bump into it on the bus, crowded streets are a nightmare, and you have to weave in and out of stores holding it close to your chest so you don’t accidentally break a priceless item. We are all better off with a small handbag, especially in the evening. This bag is typically only big enough for the essentials: cell phone, money, ID, and emergency lipstick.

Zara, $25.90
Zara, $25.90

Knitwear: If you must wear something knitted, make it something unique and stylish. A knitted shirt or dress can be paired with funky tights for colder weather, or with boots as seen below. It’s a great casual outfit that just screams “I just threw something on, but look how fabulous I look.” Much better than the ugly sweater!

Zara, $59.90
Zara, $59.90

 

What’s your favourite holiday outfit? Let us know in the comments below!