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Put a spring in your step

It seems spring has finally sprung. People are on the move, and more than eager to get back on track with outdoor activities and workout programs.

Still, many are still experiencing a touch of the winter blues. No matter how anxious, it’s not easy to switch gears from often lazy winter indoor activities and exercise routines.

No matter what your outdoor sport may be, starting slowly, rebuilding strength and endurance can save you from (or prevent) an early seasonal injury that can ruin a summer of fun and physical activity. For runners, who may have not kept up steady workouts over the winter as avidly as hoped, the progression of walking to jogging to running might be a route to consider. Remember, pre-run warm-up and post cool-down stretches to prevent injury, and to ensure a safe reentry into steady outdoor workout routines. Getting into a regular schedule, without pushing it, keeps you consistent and on track, without pushing your body too much, and can leave you wanting more…and that’s a sure sign you’re ‘back in the saddle.’

No matter how far you go, remember to take and drink water. You might feel the outing is not long enough to need it, but who knows: on a nice day, you may walk a little longer, or stop in a park. Water is always needed for strength, endurance and focus. If you love to cycle but hate the stationary bike, you may not have kept your legs as strong as they could be for riding outside. Getting back to the streets can test balance going over uneven pavement, stones and twigs. Early spring can bring a lot of rain. Wet streets are harder to stop on and can be a challenge for the best of riders at any time.

As important as anything, drivers aren’t as used to seeing as many bikers on the road and need to readjust their eyes and attitudes to the outdoor athletes of summer. Rain and wet roads are harder to navigate for them too. Some drivers don’t feel comfortable around bikers. Proper protection and rider safety is a priority.

Getting back in tune with your body is important too. Massage and reflexology are just two healthy, preparation and injury preventing approaches en route to getting back in touch with the body/mind connection.

And besides, they feel great.

Avocados: the super fruit

Last week I was lucky enough to be asked to try some recipes with Mexican avocadoes. I love avocadoes. I probably eat at least two avocados a day, maybe more. But if you had asked me 20 years ago if I liked avocados I would have said, “I have never tasted one.”

Yes, I am one of those who ate meat and potatoes and a little seasonal fruit most days. Foods like cilantro, avocados, arugula, and anything else that was green, except frozen peas, were probably not high on my list, nor was it served at our supper table.

Then my life became all about food allergies and what the heck was there left to eat. Avocados were on the ‘Can Eat’ list. So I tried one and, well, I loved them. They are so smooth and creamy and I can’t imagine how I had lived without them.

I first tried avocados in a local vegetarian restaurant where they had made them into an avocado and onion salad with lemon juice, uembushi vinegar, olive oil and salt. I thought I had died and gone to heaven.

Since that day I have never looked back and every time I go grocery shopping, which is fairly often, I pick up at least six avocados.

My significant other was like me, and when we met a few years ago I tried to get him to eat avocados. He would always say “I don’t really care for them”, and I would say,” have you ever tried them?”

Now he eats more avocados than I do. His favourite way to eat them is sliced on toast or with a chicken sandwich. He also loves them with his eggs on the weekend, or on homemade flax crackers.

My girlfriend always carries an avocado in her purse when she goes out for dinner, just in case there is nothing on the menu that she can eat. She will ask the waitress to bring her some olive oil and lemon and voila she has a healthy snack.

I put sliced avocado into all my salads. Whether it is a green lettuce salad, a cabbage salad or kale salad, avocado always makes it taste so much better.

Avocados are full of healthy fats and help keep the body alkaline, which helps us to keep disease away. Avocados contain nearly 20 vitamins and minerals, folate, and more potassium than a banana. Avocados can help lower cholesterol, so why not pick up a few avocados at your local supermarket.

It is best to buy avocados that are green and firm. You know they are ready to eat when the skin changes from green to almost black and is slightly soft to the touch.

What about avocados for dessert?

Last night I decided to make an avocado pudding.

 

2 avocados
1 banana
5 tbsp maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla
½ cup coconut milk

 

Mix all ingredients in a food processor until smooth and enjoy.

I found this a little sweet, but my husband loves sweet things (guess that is why he loves me). If I were making this just for me, I would put in less sweetener, but I have to say the fresh maple syrup that we just picked up at the sugar bush last month makes this a delicious and healthy avocado-banana pudding.

 

Want to try more of Shirley’s recipes? Enter our contest to win her cookbook, Finally…Food I Can Eat.

REAL ESTATE ETHICS: Dealing with property stigmas and dark pasts

One year ago, almost to the day, the entire nation was rocked by the discovery of 33-year-old university student Jun Lin’s torso in a suitcase behind a Montreal apartment building. Luka Magnotta, 30, now faces first-degree murder charges with allegations that Lin was actually killed and dismembered in his apartment.

That bachelor apartment sat vacant for more than six months following the international manhunt that led to Magnotta’s arrest. The building’s superintendent, Eric Schorer, confirms that it has now been rented to a man he describes as a foreigner who may not know anything about the past of his current home.

I don’t know how I feel about this. As a Realtor, current legislation requires that I disclose to potential buyers or renters any physical defects of a property that may be hidden from view. That’s not a choice or a business decision. That’s the law. But there is no law that requires that I disclose any stigmas or dark pasts and revelations about a home. So do I let the new owners know that the property was the site of a murder? A suicide? It has nothing to do with the structure of the property itself, but even my appraiser agrees that certain events will impact a property’s value, even if it doesn’t impact the physical structure.

Talkative neighbours could impact future sales, and prospective buyers who aren’t even suspicious of any negative events could pull up an old news story just by Googling the address of a property. The financial impact is real, but even foregoing that element of a Realtor’s duty, in metropolitan cities like Montreal and Toronto, the number of buyers and renters with cultural backgrounds that could make them sensitive to these stigmas has to be taken into consideration.

I started this article unsure of how I felt about this topic. There are financial realities that impact both sides, and I suppose it comes down to a case by case issue as to what needs to be disclosed – the murder last year vs. the neighbourhood kids think the place is haunted. But in reality, it comes down to a pretty simple rule that should be guiding every decision I make in business.

It is my duty as a Realtor to do right by my clients and the individuals that I work with, and that includes following the letter of the law in addition to staying true to my moral compass and disclosing what I think needs to be disclosed to the young couple renting their first condo, the young family buying their first home, the business partners buying another investment property, and everyone in between. All hands on deck and all cards on the table – people deserve to know all the details behind what will most likely be the single largest transaction of their lives, and I have an obligation as a professional and as a good person to make sure that that happens.

 

Follow Chellie on Twitter: @ChellieMejia

Jennifer Lawrence, Martha Stewart & more celebrities recite Ford’s crack admission

Ivor Tossell was right, Rob Ford has transcended the realm of politics and become a fixture in the world of celebrity. Through his appearances (and the frequent discussion of him) on American cable news and late night talks shows — a medium which has no understanding or reason to understand Canadian politics at any level, least of all municipal — Ford has landed somewhere between OJ Simpson and Charlie Sheen with a dash of Amanda Bynes in the American (and by extension, global) cultural landscape.

On a week where comparatively little has gone down in the Ford saga, except some anticipation for the release of more documents related to Ford associate Sandro Lisi’s arrest, the Mayor has still found himself on David Letterman being paraphrased by celebrities.

Jennifer Lawrence, Jonah Hill, Vince Vaughan, Martha Stewart, and Jesse Tyler Ferguson all take part in the mock documentary in which they recite Ford’s admission of crack use during his term as mayor and his assertion that he would like to be Prime Minister of Canada someday.

Toronto, it looks like we’re going to have to settle into this for quite a while to come.

 

Follow Travis on Twitter at @TravMyers.

Follow Women’s Post on Twitter at @WomensPost.

The tragic comedy of Rob Ford

There was a point during a mayoral debate in the 2010 election when all the candidates were asked to talk about what we enjoyed most in our lives. Rob Ford spoke about how he loved performing in his school play. I remembered this when I watched him last week strut around council chambers trying to intimidate residents, taking their pictures as they sat watching him.  His confession about his love for performing has helped me understand why he hasn’t taken a leave of absence and why he continues to press on  – why he continues to perform for an audience who is laughing at him, and not with him.

Act 1    “The Restoration of the Crack-smoking Mayor”

I have no doubt that the lies Rob Ford told over the election campaign, and into his first year of office, have worked to undermine his self-confidence. He promised voters that he would lower their taxes, get rid of the land transfer tax, and cut the fat at city hall, but the truth is that these were promises he could never keep.  Mr. Fords only business experience was doing the books at his fathers label company, and if we are truly going to find  efficiencies at city hall it will take someone who can truly unite the effort and steer each and every department through a line by line analysis. This is a huge undertaking and Mr. Ford has proved unable to keep his own small executive team together let alone build the consensus required to accomplish the restructuring needed at city hall.

When Mr. Ford could have reached out and united council around restructuring city hall, he shrank into himself, shirking his responsibilities and telling lies to cover up his inability to build consensus. By the end of 2011 he had turned to alcohol and drugs, they took the edge off, and allowed him to live with the lies he told every day. The problem was that the more he drank the worse things seemed to get and the more lies he had to tell. The more lies he told the more his confidence shrunk away from him and his addiction increased.

Add to this the pressure of knowing that the city operating budget was growing under his watch with the fact that there was no way to get rid of the land transfer tax and his supporters might look at the bottom line and realize that the $1-2Billion he and brother Doug Ford were claiming to have saved was a complete lie. No matter how much he tried his budget chief  had explained that there was no extra money to pay for the scarborough subway and a 2.5% tax increase was the best he could hope for.  A huge tax increase would risk losing voters and make him look like a liar in the coming election.

Act 2: Establishing Rob Ford as both a victim and hero 

The best solution for Mr. Ford given the position he was in last week was to have city council take away his powers in a public spectacle. The more voters aware of this the easier it will be to claim he had nothing to do with the tax increases. He will blame council, play the victim and call for voters to restore him to power so that he, and he alone, can protect them from tax increases. So not only must Mr. Ford play the victim but also has to come across as a hero fighting for the tax payer – and brother Doug could benefit from a little of that as well.

They will push out their message of “fighting the establishment” – they’ll yell and storm about council chambers as much as they can. They will play the underdog fighting for their supporters. The bigger the public display the easier it will be to distance themselves from the tax increases required to pay for Mr. Ford’s subway policy.

There is a risk that the rest of Toronto will realize that Mr. Ford has placed the cost of the Scarborough subway onto property tax payers but he’ll hope they don’t notice.

And all the while Rob Ford’s self-confidence continues to erode with the lies that he continues to tell. The more his confidence diminishes the more likely he is to turn to crack or alcohol. Mr. Ford has very little left but the empty bravado of a man clinging to a belief that he is great, but knowing inside that he isn’t. It is sad, but it is also the consequence that comes from lying.

The last act for Rob Ford is still up in the air. He will continue to try to get headlines, he will continue his performance as long as there is somebody pushing him on. Will this performance end in a tragedy? If the Ford family continues to enable him, if they continue to force him onto the political stage… the future doesn’t look very good for Rob.

 

Follow Sarah Thomson on Twitter @ThomsonTO.

Follow Women’s Post on Twitter at @WomensPost.

Rob Ford’s staff played a role

From not reporting Rob Ford’s drunk driving to denying his behaviour, the unredacted police report released Thursday reveals how the staff surrounding Mr. Ford enabled him, at the cost and risk to all those who crossed his path.

I know I’m not the only one in Toronto who sifted through the police report last Thursday night wondering if my name would be implicated. I am sure the staff who were interviewed by police wish this sordid business would all blow over, but should his former staff get off with little repercussion for their involvement in what has turned out to be the worst case of enabling that has rocked Toronto in decades?

I found my name, albeit misspelled, on page 72 of the police report. The lines (below) referred to the incident at the CJPAC event where Mr. Ford’s behaviour was both aggressive and lascivious. But what infuriates me most in reading this was to learn that his Chief of Staff, Mark Towhey, misled the press about Mr. Ford’s true condition at the event. He told press that there was nothing wrong with the Mayor, that he was sober. But in the police report (excerpt below) Towhey admits that he was concerned about Mr. Ford’s condition (aggressive and slurring words) and asked him not to attend the event.
____________
Canadian Jewish Public Affairs Committee (CJPAC) Event and Sarah THOMPSON (sic) Allegations
ii) The incident at CJPAC with Sarah THOMPSON involved the allegation that The Mayor groped her and was on drugs that night. TOWHEY and PROVOST were both there that night with the Mayor.
jj) The Mayor arrived with Sandro as the driver.
kk) Sandro is not on the staff of the Mayor. TOWHEY was concerned that night when he spoke with the Mayor on the phone prior to his arrival. He again sounded a little “hyperactive and slurring his words”. Again, TOWHEY asked him not to come.
ll) The Mayor attended the event and ended up behaving himself. There were 3 staff members around him at all times. TOWHEY believes that the Sarah THOMPSON allegations are false.
mm) The Mayor arrived to the CJPAC intoxicated by something. TOWHEY never saw him drink while he was there; in fact TOWHEY has never seen the Mayor drink alcohol at all, ever.
TOWHEY’s beliefs in relation to Mayor FORD’s alcohol use
nn) TOWHEY has maybe attended 25 to 30 events with the Mayor. He has never seen him consume alcohol at any of these events. TOWHEY had suspicions that it was maybe mixed in his drinks but cannot be sure.
oo) He believes that the Mayor is an alcoholic. Staff members routinely buy alcohol for the Mayor because they do not want him doing it himself. As soon as the Mayor walks into a liquor store it is on Twitter.
pp) TOWHEY was advised every time a staff member left the office to go and buy the Mayor alcohol. It was TOWHEY’s belief that the Mayor consumed alcohol while at City Hall.
qq) The Mayor would normally sound the worst late at night. This would be when he would sound the most incoherent. This could sometimes be attributed to him not getting any sleep, which would happen often as well.
rr) FICKEL had told TOWHEY that one time the Mayor had stopped and consumed a “mickey” of vodka while driving. After hearing this TOWHEY implemented a new rule that if staff was driving with the Mayor then they would have to drive. The Mayor was never to drive any of the staff around.

_________________

The report goes on at length about other issues involving drugs, prostitutes and inappropriate behaviour with a female staff member, but what stood out time and again was the level of support  his staff gave time and again to enable Mr. Ford to keep up the charade. They all knew about Mr. Ford’s drinking, they had heard rumours of drugs and yet they all stood together as a wall limiting Toronto from learning the truth about our Mayor. They knew that if the truth got out they could lose their positions, but they were also given a clear message when chief of staff, Mark Towhey refused to address the fact that the Mayor of Toronto had broken the law. If Towhey had done the right thing and reported the incident to police, other staff might have come forward. Why didn’t Towhey report the incident to the police? Was he afraid they might follow the Mayor and catch him driving drunk? Was it self-interest, blind loyalty or heart-felt sympathy that drove Towhey to place Mr. Ford above the law?

The events of the past 2 years at city hall demonstrate the extent to which the staff working under Mr. Ford enabled him. It isn’t surprising. Greed has a way of making people rationalize things and they all wanted to keep their jobs. But what disgusts me most is the lack of respect they had for their positions. Never did Towhey, nor any of the other staff, think about their role as government employees who actively covered up the lies and actions of a Mayor driven by addiction. By going along with his charade they corrupted both the office of Mayor and the trust we as citizens place in it.

WATCH: Doug Ford blows his stack in council defending brother, Mayor charges at opponent

Just when you think things can’t get any more insane in the circus that surrounds Rob Ford, like, you know, the massive protest outside City Hall today, new police files that allege prostitutes have visited the Mayor’s office, and the now doldrum crack cocaine use that Rob Ford has admitted to, things got a little more crazy.

In today’s special debate surrounding Ford’s recent actions his brother, Councillor Doug Ford, blew his stack by repeatedly demanding to know if Councillor Denzil Minnan-Wong has smoked marijuana — to the point where the speaker had to shut off his microphone and call a recess.

After this was all said and done the Mayor stood up and charged at Minnan-Wong in a stance of physical intimidation while the gallery cried out that he is a bully.

Minnan-Wong, once a fierce advocate of the Fords on Council, has turned his back on the administration after the most recent slew of revelations surrounding the mayor’s crack use. Minnan-Wong has also expressed some interest in running for mayor himself.

Watch the video and let us know what you think, is this behaviour (even divorced from the context of crack cocaine) acceptable in an elected leader?

 

Follow Travis on Twitter at @TravMyers.