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Getting race ready

No matter how well my training is going, there is still a seed of doubt about whether I’ll be able to do a personal best on that day. This is normal behavior I am told from my running friends, and it is basically for me to learn how to cope with the pre-run jitters.

The key is to think about all the hard training I have done, and how good I will feel crossing the line. A positive mindset and being prepared before race day will never let me down to perform well.

Here are my top 5 racing tips before I lace up my shoes:

1. Clothing/shoes

What helps settle my pre-race jitters is the night before I figure out what to wear. I dress for the weather conditions and wear moist wicking fabrics to keep me dry and comfortable. I also choose the shoes that are best for the distance I am doing. In addition, I bring an extra change of clothes, socks and comfortable shoes to change into afterwards.

Before lining up to the start I double knot my shoe laces to trip in the race which has almost happened once.

Two other items I bring are Vaseline and Bandaids.

To keep me warm before the start I wear a top that I don’t want and can discard  it when the gun goes off. 

2. Nutrition/Hydrate – The night before, I eat light- for example plain tomato sauce with pasta- I avoid anything too spicy and creamy sauces that will upset my stomach. Lunch is my last big meal before any race day. The morning of, I usually have oatmeal with brown sugar and fruit with milk. That is all I need before the run.

If it is a half marathon or a longer distance I will bring an energy bar and have it halfway through the race. Avoid eating too close to race start as this could lead to problems during the race.  Also, I also keep hydrated leading up to the race. Most big races have water and/or energy drink on the course.

3. Rest – I make sure to have a good  sleep the night before. The previous day to the race, I stay off my feet and relax to music.

4. Stretching- I stretch after my warm-up before the run and after the race. I also do a cool down afterwards. I stretch all of my muscle groups, including calves, quads, hamstrings, groins, I-T bands, arms, upper and lower back.

5. Start slow, finish strong works for me. I start slow and then I make up the time later.  While running I keep my shoulders low and relaxed and pump my arms, especially on the hill sections. Suggestion: have a realistic goal.  Write on a wrist band the times you are hoping to achieve at 5 kms, 10 kms, 15 kms and 20 kms. 

 I try to run my own race and don’t compare myself to others. This will keep me focused, relaxed – the end result I will be running smoothly.

 

My house was sucking my money down the drain; here’s what I did

I’m a saver. I only spend money on things that are necessary. When my husband and I became first-time homeowners, I was shocked at how much money it took to keep my home functional and comfortable. We were spending way more than I wanted to, but it was necessary. The money spent on electric bills went to powering our home. We had to pay the gas bill to avoid freezing during the winter. It felt like our house was sucking every penny out of our budget. To avoid breaking the bank, we started doing a few simple things around the house to save some money.

Turn off the A/C

I like to keep my home at comfortable temperatures, especially during the summer. I can’t stand the feeling of a hot, stuffy house. But the cost of cooling our house was getting out of control. I hated seeing money fly out the window every time we turned on the central air. But there are plenty of ways to combat energy loss during the summer, other than roasting in a hot home. First, I bought some heavy drapes to keep out the sun and turned the A/C way down at night. We found that once the temps get low enough, the thick drapes helped block the sun from making it too hot during the day. We also started using our ceiling fan a lot more when we were home. These simple tricks helped to keep our electric bill at a price that wasn’t breaking our budget.

It’s all about insulation

When we first bought our house, the insulation wasn’t that great. We could feel cold air seeping through the windows and doors during the frigid winter months. We were turning up the heater way more than we should, which drove up our gas bill. After doing some research, we found a few, easy ways to insulate our house. Spraying some insulation in the attic; adding weather strips to the windows; and replacing the older, weather-beaten front and back doors with newer ones helped to keep the house better insulated. Remember the heavy drapes I bought over the summer? It turns out they’re great for winter too. On the coldest of days, we would close them, throw on a sweater and some woolly socks, and become totally warm. We rarely found ourselves turning the heater up past 60, which dramatically reduced our gas bill during the winter months.

Install CFL and LED lights wherever it makes sense

If you’re still using incandescent bulbs, you need to stop. They’re expensive, don’t last long, and use six times more energy than an LED light. I made the switch to LED lights as soon as we moved into our new home, almost three years ago. To this day, we haven’t had to replace a single bulb. And we’re using a lot less energy than we did in our previous apartment where all we used was incandescent lights. Replacing a few bulbs in our house was fast,  easy, and helped us to keep our electricity costs down.

Doing these few, simple things around our house helped us to save so much money on our gas and electric bills. But it didn’t stop there. Once I discovered how much money we were saving, I wanted to find even more energy-saving hacks. Here are a few of my personal favorites.

  • Turn off all lights when you leave a room; also, take advantage of the natural light whenever you can.
  • Invest in power strips and turn them off when you’re not watching  TV, using the computer, or playing gaming consoles.
  • Perform a weekly maintenance check on your appliances; make sure they are clean and working properly.
  • De-clutter every room. We actually made some fast cash by selling all the stuff we didn’t need—plus it made my house feel so much cleaner.
  • Making more crockpot meals helped us to save time and money, since most meals involve three ingredients and almost no prep time. Plus, they’re delicious and make me seem like an even more talented chef than I am.

What are some ways that you’ve saved money on your home? Let us know in the comments below.

 

       

 

How to get rid of that pesky spring cold with 6 home remedies

Spring is officially here! This means warm sunny days are more frequent, and at my own home we all pulled out our spring coats. But, then, snow came once again to throw us back into a second winter. And —oh no—the prickles started! The onset of a cold is here! My throat now burns and feels tight, swallowing is harder, a headache weighs in, and all I can think is ‘where is my bed?’.

‘Tis the season for spring colds and flu! When traditional medicine like cold and flu pharmaceuticals don’t seem to do the trick here are a few remedies to help you and your family through this period, like they do mine:

Rest

No, it is not medicine, but it is the first thing we should do and yet, I am exceedingly bad at it. I tend to go on and on until I fall apart. But resting goes a long way, especially when you start hearing the warning signs that your body is about to enter a fight against a pesky virus. Sleep can do wonders and allows your body the time it needs to gather its strengths and repair itself. So first off, hit the pillow, if you can.

Grapefruit Seed Extract (GSE) and Oil of Oregano

When my throat is itchy one of the first things I do is a mouth wash, several times a day, with either of these products, and it works! But make sure you actually rinse your throat and not just the interior of your mouth. Both of these natural extracts are not only powerful disinfectant but also antibacterial, antiviral, antifungal and antimicrobial. Only a few drops mixed in less than a quarter cup of water will suffice. Just rinse and spit out!

Hydration and citrus water

Though I constantly drink water, when sick it is easy to forget to hydrate. Yet water helps flush out the body’s toxins and sometimes even helps get rid of headaches. But what is even better than water is drinking citrus water and I cannot recommend it enough. Lemons and limes boost the immune system, are a great source of vitamin C and are antiviral and antibacterial. Simply add half a freshly squeezed lime or lemon to 750 ml of water.

 Ginger/Garlic/Lemon/Honey

If the above fails and I am getting sicker, then it is time to pull out the big guns: garlic and ginger. Yes, raw garlic is hard to swallow down. Granted, I might have terrible breath, but, at this point can I still smell? Raw garlic may taste a bit pungent but it is a very effective remedy. It is a super food that is a natural antiseptic, antiviral, antimicrobial and antifungal. It is also a food that can prevent a whole slew of other ailments, amongst which  are cancer, Alzheimer and dementia. So go ahead, have some garlic!

In the recipe below, raw ginger is also added. Ginger not only helps with nausea but also clears the microcirculatory channels. In other words, it helps with soar throat and blocked sinuses.

 Recipe:  

In a container add the juice of two lemons, 1-2 cloves of crushed garlic and a knob of fresh ginger. Use a hand mixer to obtain a smooth texture. Add a touch of honey so as to dimer the sour taste and help sooth the throat. This can be taken as is in small doses, or added to hot water and drunk as a tea.

Mustard Plaster or ‘Mouche de Moutarde

When we were young and in bed, feeling miserable, my father would make us one of these and put it on our chest to provide some much- needed heat. To this day, he still makes this mustard plaster when he is sick. This recipe uses mustard, a rubefacient, which means it stimulates blood flow and will therefore clear the congested airways while providing heat to the chest. However, use with caution as it does get hot and can even burn the skin!

Recipe:

-Mix 2 tbsp. of powdered mustard with 2tsp. of flour or corn starch

-Add water to the mix in order to make a paste

-Deposit the paste on an old piece of cloth to be thrown out afterwards and wrap it up in the cloth so that the skin does not come in direct contact with it.

-Put the cloth on the upper chest

-Leave on for 5 to 30 minutes

WARNING: check every 5 minutes so that the skin is not burning!

Chicken Broth + Love

Should I be visiting my family while sick, my mother will then supply me with her wonderful homemade chicken broth which I sip as I am usually watching some Netflix. I highly recommend homemade chicken broth, if at all possible, as it is a means to warm you up, hydrate, and provide some vitamins. What ever you do, make sure you get yourself some much needed loving, whether it be from a partner, a family member, a friend or a pet, a cuddle always helps!

Keep those sniffles away, but if that is not a possibility follow these tips and you’ll be back to your amazing self in no time.

Tourist Tips: Surviving a police trap in Vietnam

 

We missed our turn. Even though we had a map, and even though the man at the motorcycle shop showed us exactly where to go. Even though we had read plenty of ominous articles warning readers to not miss that very crucial turn, we missed our turn.

Let me take you back…

It was the beginning of December in Vietnam and my partner and I were wrapping up our six-week backpacking trip through Southeast Asia. We only had ten days to spend in Vietnam and, although there were plenty of cities and villages we yearned to see, we didn’t want to spend our last week of vacation commuting across the country. But, our unsettled spirit for adventure also refused to let us situate ourselves in one place for the entire duration. So, we compromised.

We decided to hitch a short ride from Ho Chi Minh City to Mũi Né, a sleepy beach town where we could relax and explore the southern coast. Mũi Né is a fairly quiet place, but it still seems to thrive on tourism. It’s especially popular with Eastern European travellers, as many of the restaurants, shops and hotels are owned and operated by Russian expats. The town’s main claim to fame, however, is an unlikely set of rolling red and white sand dunes that are popular for dune buggy trips and beautiful desert panoramas.

This natural landmark was at the top of our list and, as we had done in previous countries, we set out to rent a motorbike that we could ride to the dunes and beyond. The streets were much quieter here compared to Ho Chi Minh City, a place where the mere thought of mounting a bike in  the lawless flow of traffic was enough to induce a panic attack. However, I’m a pretty overly cautious traveller (and person), so, naturally, I began looking up license restrictions, driving conditions and shop scams in the area. Low and behold, Google returned a slew of results about the dreaded ‘Mũi Né Police Trap.’

Story has it, that a while back, some Russian tourists were driving recklessly in the area. In response, the Vietnamese police decided to clamp down on unlicensed drivers. Technically speaking, you require a Vietnamese license to drive a motorbike anywhere in the country, but it’s very rarely enforced, as locals prefer to keep vehicle rental businesses alive. The Mũi Né police force, however, took the order as an opportunity to construct a scam using the popular sand dunes as their bait.

Situated near the landmark’s entrance, they pull over non-Vietnamese drivers and pitch freedom at a cost, encouraging tourists to reach deep into their pockets if they want to leave without consequence. As you can imagine, the more fear they instill, the heftier the bribe they’re likely to receive. Thankfully, we knew exactly where these police officers were stationed and had clearly mapped driving instructions to avoid their shady trap.

Here’s the part where we miss our turn.  

We didn’t realize until they were ten feet in front of us, pulling every foreign face to the side of the road. The night before, we overheard a guy at a bar telling a drunken story about how he just kept on driving, right past the police officers who were too lazy to get on their bikes and chase him down. I felt my boyfriend rev the engine and I squeezed his waist as we zoomed on by, hoping the universe would grant us the same fate.

Suddenly, we were the prey of a police chase. And, before you envision Pierce Brosnan and Michelle Yeoh whizzing through dense traffic at full speed, reel in your imagination- it was more like Wallace and Gromit going a steady 40 kilometres per hour and whistling an apprehensive tune.

The police officer pulled right up beside us, looked over with a tired face and simply said, “stop.” We joined a small group of scared, helmeted tourists who had also been caught. He first asked to see our Vietnamese license, which of course we didn’t have, so he then proceeded to pull my boyfriend into a parked pick-up truck where he broke down a deal: we go free, with the motorbike, for five million dong (about $280 CAD).  

Now, you’ve probably already heard this travel tip preached by your father or your Lonely Planet Guidebook, but any time you clip in your backpack buckles, be sure to have a trusty stash of emergency doe tucked away in a secret spot. It’s easy to shrug off, but, trust me,  it’s so worth it once your staring into the sweaty face of a corrupt policeman.

We told the officer that we didn’t have that much money and showed him our empty pockets as proof. So, he ordered my boyfriend to drive to an ATM machine and withdraw the amount while they held me as ransom. At the time, we were using a Chinese bank card and, for some reason, it wasn’t working in Vietnamese bank machines. In all other money-related situations we were screwed, but in this instance, that Chinese card saved our butts.

We explained our situation as best we could, and after nearly one hour of broken debate with the officer and his sidekicks, they shook our hands and let us free for the mere price of $5 CAD. I’m still not sure if it was our knack for sweet talk, or just the pure exhaustion of being a tainted trooper that got us off, but I sure was relieved to hit the road again leaving the hustle in our dust.

Sometimes in life you miss a turn or two, but hey, all you can do is reroute yourself to the destination. We did reach the the sand dunes, after all, with a stack of hidden cash in our backpack’s inner pocket and a soon-to-be hilarious travel tale to add to the books.

5 tips to pack light on your travels

Travelling can be exhausting, especially if you are going on vacation solo. The biggest source of this fatigue is packing. You need a certain number of outfits for each day, and then you need options for if the weather is cold or hot, or if you are spontaneous and decide to go out for the night. And then there are the killer shoes — one is good for walking, one for dancing, one for rain, one for snow, and one for the beach.

It’s not just the act of packing either. It’s the weigh-in at the airport, baggage claim, lugging your suitcase around the city for half a day while you wait for your hotel room to be ready. And then there are the extra fees if you do any shopping while abroad!

Don’t stress too much. There are ways to pack light while travelling that will allow for plenty of shopping space and a lot less hassle. Here are five tips:

Pack outfits, not options: This will save you so much room in your suitcase. Do you need a pair of pants for every day of your trip? Probably not. Choose a minimum number of bottoms and one or two shirts per bottom. While packing, you can sometimes fall victim to the “options” mentality, in which you pack numerous tops with numerous bottoms so you have a lot of choice. While choice is great, it is not prudent for light packing. Outfits are complete looks, and therefore you only bring what you know goes well with other items in your bag.

Bring laundry detergent: Who says you can’t do laundry on your trip, especially if you are away for over a week? Bring some detergent that is sink-friendly so you can wash undergarments midweek if you need to. I travelled through Europe for three weeks and this saved me! It meant I just had to pack a few outfits, wash, and re-wear!

Sorry ladies, limit your shoes: Shoes are the hardest part about packing for a trip. On the one side, you want something practical and comfortable if you plan on doing lots of walking. But, what if you want to go to the beach? What if you want to dress up for dinner? What if it rains? This is a constant problem, and my only advice for you is to choose two, and then add flip/flops if the beach life is for your. It seems impossible, right? But honestly, no one is going to look at your feet while you are on vacation – so go with comfort first. Invest in good walking shoes that are waterproof. This ticks off two boxes. Then, choose a pair of nice shoes that you can wear with both jeans and a dress. My go-to is a cork-heel sandal, as it is relatively comfortable and works with everything.

Bare minimum makeup: Hair products, foundation, brushes, and jewellery are some of the bulkiest items you can put in a suitcase. Go minimal — either purchase mini bottles of these items or get a travel pack from the drug store for shampoo and soap. Think about what you will be doing. If you are spending time on a beach or in the water, you don’t really need much makeup to begin with. Bring foundation or concealer, some mascara and eyeliner, and a lipstick for the evening. Eyeshadow will melt if you are going somewhere hot and there is no need for blush if you are wandering through a cobblestoned town in Amsterdam. In terms of jewellery, pack easy to match items like stud earrings or simple necklaces. If you want something funky for a fancier night out, that’s fine, but limit it to one look.

Backpack it: If you plan on doing any exploring or long adventures, make sure to have a small backpack to bring with you. This way, you can pack a few granola bars or a bottle of water with you for easy travel. You can purchase small locks and use it for your big pockets so that when you walk through large tourist hubs, you don’t have to worry about theft. It’s a lot easier than keeping your passport or wallet in a purse that is easy to grab. Having a backpack also gives you a little more freedom if you, let’s say, want to ignore my rule on shoes and truly believe you need an extra pair. Simply put it in your backpack and when you get to the hotel, remove it. This saves on any extra weight limitations you may have and allows you to pack an extra towel or necessity in your suitcase.

Bonus: roll, don’t fold! You can fit more if you fold your clothing in half and then tightly roll them up. You can fit double the amount of clothing in your suitcase this way.

Remember, that if you don’t have enough of something, you can always go to the store!

The secret behind social media couples

As you boast in your chocolates and flowers, and prepare to get jiggy tonight with your significant other, you may also be thinking about ways to aesthetically document everything in a way that will get you the most likes on social media. Whether it be your caption, your strategic ring finger positioning, or a snapchat of bae being bae — it’s time someone expose the truth behind Instagram Couples. Let’s begin.

To all those single ladies scrolling past PDA pics and teddy bears all over your news feed, just know – it’s all fake love. The statement, so eloquently sung by Drake, is also backed up by science. A report from the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin recently concluded that people who overshare about #bae on social media are also the most insecure about them.

#Yikes.

So, to the couple who stare into one another’s eyes at fancy restaurants three times a week – we see you. And your cry for help. I don’t want to assume your night will end up in an argument over why your significant other’s phone went off one too many times or how the bill is going to be split, but according to science; I have to. And while I want to be empathetic for your situation, the narcissism behind your posts and the way you make my single ladies sob make me not want to.

The secret behind becoming a successful social media couple is to have so much fun with your significant other that you forget to take a picture. It’s to go to a fancy restaurant and enjoy the food while it’s still hot, instead of standing up on your seat trying to get the perfect shot. And the juiciest secret of all? Post so seldom that your followers have to message and ask you how your life is going, in which you can respond ‘great, just busy with #bae!’

That’s not to say you need to deactivate your Facebook account and delete your social media. Your loved ones enjoy seeing highlights in your relationships; whether that be a recent engagement or wedding photos. Sitting at your desk on a cold, winter afternoon can become a whole lot better with a few vacation photos of your favourite couple at a tropical destination.

However, if bae is mad at you and you’re cooking dinner for them – maybe ask for suggestions on what to cook for dinner instead of boasting about a #datenight that’s really another #forgiveme night. Work on your relationship. If your partner photographs that well, I’m sure they look much better in person. Embrace it. Cherish it.

Remember, happiness doesn’t come in the form of likes and retweets. It comes in the forms of smiles and a whole lot of good loving.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

3 rules to follow when he’s a saver and you’re a spender

I like to shop. Every single trend that could be found in the stores of a mall was, once upon a time, present in my closet. Even the questionable items. I buy candles for every corner of my room because one is never enough, and I once purchased face cream the price of multiple dinners at Sephora — merely because the make-up artist told me it was nice.

On the other hand, my husband likes to save. You know that thing at the bank called a Saving’s Account? He actually has one. While I scroll through my favourite online stores, he scrolls through his budgeting applications, all while checking on his many investments and stocks; a side hustle he plans to take advantage of during ‘rainy days.’ Frugality is his specialty. Extreme couponing, I think it’s safe to say, is one of his life time goals.

Like other couples, we have very different spending habits. Given this, it’s no surprise that money is the most common topic that couples argue about. A recent survey from the American Institute of CPA’s concluded couples argue at least three times a month about finances. Researchers believe the conflict may stem from failing to discuss money on a regular basis. Fifty-five percent of those surveyed who were married or living with a partner said they don’t regularly set aside time to talk about financial issues.

So, let’s talk.

Take these three steps to avoid the ongoing kerfuffle of choosing between the $14.99 or $19.99 bundle and thank me later.

  1. Communicate. You hear it repeatedly. So why is it so difficult to follow through? Talk to your partner about how you want to handle your finances as a couple, along with any individual expectations that you may have of one another. Discuss whether you want to share any expenses such as utility bills or groceries or if you want control over your own finances. Ensure you go over any debt that either of you have to take care of and that you are transparent when it comes to your purchases. What is the point of buying a car without a discussion if you have to drive around alone because bae is mad at you?
  2. Speak their language. Try using a reference from their favourite TV show and watch how googly their eyes get. Its important to be able to relate to your partner. Get on their level. If they start pricing matching or looking at deals, keep your cool – and let them be. Don’t try to change them and don’t let them try to change you. Habits build over time, making it difficult to break. Instead, take things away and implement them in your daily life. Find the positive aspects to their habits. Think about it; saving up for an emergency prevents either of you from having to get a second job if the time came. Thus, you’ll have more time to spend with each other. Because love.
  3. Have your own savings. Whether you agree to share your finances, contribute to expenses, or manage your own money, always have funds set aside solely for yourself. Although there are many advantages to a joint account, there will always be a reason to have at least one bank account dedicated for your own use. This is especially important if you and your partner are on different financial levels or if you have different spending habits. After merging two lives together, it can be easy to feel a loss of independence. By having something that is solely yours, you can guarantee you still have some control over your life.

Relationships take a lot of work to be successful. It’s about compassion, patience, and compromise. Despite this, you may still find yourselves butting heads with your partner from time to time over things you just can’t seem to agree on. Follow these steps to ensure you spend less time arguing about finances, and more time arguing about things that matter; like which show you want to Netflix binge (and chill). Lastly, don’t forget to give him a kiss when he splurges on you! Your relationship will grow stronger and better because of it.

No, I will not forgive greedy Tim Hortons

On Friday, Tim Hortons released a press statement to counteract the complaints regarding the slashing of benefits and paid breaks for employees at an Ontario store owned by the children of the franchise’s founders.

The statement reads: “Let us be perfectly clear. These recent actions by a few Restaurant Owners, and the unauthorized statements made to the media by a “rogue group” claiming to speak on behalf of Tim Hortons®, do not reflect the values of our brand, the views of our company or the views of the overwhelming majority of our dedicated and hardworking Restaurant Owners. While our Restaurant Owners, like all small business owners, have found this sudden transition challenging, we are committed to helping them work through these changes. However, Tim Hortons® Team Members should never be used to further an agenda or be treated as just an ‘expense.’ This is completely unacceptable.”

Essentially, the actions of a few spoiled children have resulted in a public relations nightmare and head office decided they needed to respond — without actually offering any assistance, solutions, or guarantees.

Last week, I wrote an article about how the Tim Hortons franchise was being greedy. I said a company that made roughly $3 billion (US) in revenue last year shouldn’t be so quick to devalue their employees. I also said I would not be purchasing any more product from the franchise.

Cue the comments from people defending Tim Hortons, many of whom I would bet make more than minimum wage.

A common argument expressed on social media was that I shouldn’t boycott all Tim Hortons based on the response of one or two store owners. While it is true that not all stores have decided to react to the minimum wage increase in this manner, the franchise itself is partially to blame. Most people have expressed a willingness to pay an extra 10 cents for a cup of coffee or a donut to make up the costs lost to the owners. People are actually asking Tim Hortons to raise prices so that their employees can afford their rent.

These people are the heroes Ontario needs.

Tim Hortons, on the other hand, has not raised prices. They have not promised to absorb the cost of the minimum wage increase. Instead, they chastised store owners for having to make difficult (and wrong) decisions. They claim no responsibility, merely saying they were “saddened” to hear of the actions taken by a “reckless few.”

Cry me a river.

It’s not like businesses didn’t see this coming. Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne made the announcement back in May 2017, saying the minimum wage will increase to $14 on Jan. 1, 2018. That was seven months ago. Did no one do the math? Did no one think: “maybe I should look at the books to figure out how I’m going to make this work?”

And it’s also not just Tim Hortons. Other big chains are dipping into their employees tips and laying off staff,. Sunset Grill is increasing their servers’ tip out by one per cent. This is part of a process called tip pooling, in which servers pay a portion of their day’s tips to support staff like bussers, cooks, and dishwashers. This tip out increase comes in addition to menu price increases at Sunset Grill. The Clocktower, a restaurant in Ottawa, is now removing dishwashers from the tip out, saying they make enough now that minimum wage has increased. They also increased their tip out by one per cent. Smaller businesses have cut store hours and even changed to commission-based wages rather than increase their hourly rate.

Unfortunately, this is how it will be for a while. Corporate head office will blame store owners. Store owners will blame the government. The government will call the store owners “bullies”, and then corporate head office will step in with a nicely worded press release. But, at the end of the day, who is actually left hurting? The employees caught between the madness.

It’s a few dollars per shift. If you can’t figure out the math and get creative, you don’t deserve to own a business.

So, to conclude — thank you for all the comments and remarks, but I’m going to keep boycotting greedy Tim Hortons. And if you had respect for the minimum wage workers in this province, you would do so too.

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!

5 tips to plan the best holiday party

Tis’ the season — the season for holiday parties that is! There is the office party, the obligatory family parties, and of course, a party for each circle of friends. It can get exhausting!!

More and more people are opting out of hosting their own parties. First of all, you have to clean your house top to bottom. Then you have to prepare music, food, alcohol, spend money on decorations, and then act as the host the entire night making sure everyone has a good time. At the same time, it can be really fun to invite all your friends and family over for an afternoon or evening of holiday cheer! Here at Women’s Post, we understand the conundrum.

That’s what we have some tips for how to throw a seamless, easy, and memorable holiday bash:

Pick a theme: While it can be amazing just to gather with friends and loved ones, the best holiday bashes have a theme. Having a theme can help with decorations, food, music, and attire — it brings a party together. It doesn’t have to be crazy. For example, you can have the very casual “wear your ugly sweater” or the more glamorous “gold and silver”.   It also gives your guests an idea of what to expect when they arrive.

Signature drink: Even if your party is BYOB, always have a signature drink or cocktail to offer guests when they arrive. The key is not to choose a drink that most of your guests will enjoy — something not too sweet, with the perfect amount of alcohol ratio. It’s also ideal to be a cocktail you can make in mass so you aren’t stuck in the kitchen all night. Sangria is a classic option, and there are plenty of ways to make it more of a holiday beverage. Try mixing white wine with white cranberry juice, some sugar and club soda. Put it in a few large pitchers with oranges, cranberries, apples, and raspberries, and let soak for a few hours. Keep sprigs of rosemary to garnish. Pour over ice! This drink is easy because you can keep everything on a bar or table and guests can help themselves. Just keep a pitcher in the fridge for latecomers.

Decorate, but don’t overdo it: I always aim for comfortable holiday decorations – a beautiful tree, a few wreaths, table runners and centrepieces with green, red, and white accents. Twinkle lights work no matter your theme. They can appear elegant, or urban-chic, and they can create some really great ambiance. Try to avoid cheesy santa statues or name tags. Keep the atmosphere warm and comfortable. Have a few playlist selections but avoid a lot of the classic orchestral music unless your theme is a bit more elegant or your event is actually a dinner party. It tends to make people sleepy and you may find your party ends before planned. Go with plastic cutlery and napkins that fit the theme.

Be creative with your canapés: Food is one of the most important parts of a party. If you aren’t hosting a dinner or doing a meal, guests will expect a few snacks, if only to soak up that sangria! The classic baked brie is a fan favourite around the holidays. Drizzle honey and rosemary overtop of a round of brie. Put it in the oven or even the microwave to heat it up. The brie should be soft enough to cut into, but not too soft as to be misinterpreted as soup. Serve with a variety of crackers, some cranberry sauce, and some red pepper jelly. Other options include spiced meats, jalapeño poppers, and a popcorn/nuts and bolts mixture. Make sure to have a variety of options for vegetarians and vegans.

Have an activity: No one hates icebreakers more than I do, but it’s always fun to have an activity, no matter how small, to get people talking. This can be a secret santa, a gift exchange, or even a decorating of a tree. Drinking games are always fun with the right crowd. It can also be something outdoors. If there is a skating rink or a park with lovely lights, organize a bit of an outing for those who want to be a bit more active.

Let us know how your party went!