It has been a long, long time since my last blog post, and before I get into it, I wanted to thank those of you who are still reading my old posts, whether you're just checking up on me periodically or find me another way, I appreciate when you spend a little bit of your time with me.
Why haven't I posted in so long? It's a long story - multiple ones, actually, and I may get into them at some point, but for now, I'm just going to jump right in as if I never left and the very first thing I thought I'd start with is this story I heard on the news this morning:
The above links (which will, as always, open in a new window) take you to 2 articles talking about what the Royal Society for Public Health is proposing as a new way to label food because of the growing epidemic of obesity in the UK.
Speaking as someone who has struggled with weight my whole life, I think this is a fantastic idea. Whenever I am on a "diet", I often use as motivation just this idea, and I can tell you from experience that it works way more often than not. Other times you just want that bag of chips, and you're going to eat it no matter what the label says.
Shirley Cramer, chief executive of the Royal Society for Public Health, is proposing a simple infographic on foods to give consumers a better understanding of what they're consuming. Let's face it, nutritional labels on foods are chock full of information that most of us just don't understand, nor can we put it in perspective. I don't know what the numbers are in regards to how many people actually read labels on food before they buy, but I actually do. I want to know what's in that package. More often than not, it makes me put it back on the shelf and head over to the produce aisle, but I feel that I may be in the minority.
I think this style of labeling may change that. Picture this for a moment: You're shopping at the grocery store and pick up a Reese chocolate bar. (I picked that because I found the nutritional label online and that makes my life easier.) When you look at the label it tells you this:
It makes sense to me because I read labels all the time, and so I would put it back on the shelf and keep moving. Someone who hasn't counted calories like a crazy person previously could look at this and think, "hey, 210 is not so bad - I can definitely eat this. Peanuts are healthy, right?"
Say that same person picks up that same chocolate bar and sees this alongside the nutritional info (which, I am only assuming, they will keep on the packaging):
Now that 210 doesn't sound so great - not if I have to run for 19 minutes to burn it off.
There are millions of people struggling with their weight for a number of reasons. They include lifestyle, income, genetics, and illness, or any combination of factors. One of the major contributors, in my humble opinion, is our society's love of the convenient packaged food. I understand it, I really do. Life is hectic and it is really difficult to cook and clean up after an actual meal. It's also really expensive to eat real food, which is really sad, but a post for another day.
Since we're all eating out of boxes, cans, and packages, why not add a little more information in a really easy to understand format? It may help someone who is struggling to make a better choice. To pick up a box of frozen veggies which will take 9 minutes of running to work off rather than a box of Twinkies which will take you 47? I'm only guessing at the actual times, but you get my point.
Let me get personal for a minute. I am currently on a diet, since I have a big event coming up in September and I want to look better and fit into my dress. My food intake is restrictive, but I have kids, and I am still feeding them the same as always, which includes full dinners and dessert. Whenever I really, really want to eat something that I'm not supposed to, I go upstairs and step on the scale. One of two things is going to happen; either I'm happy with what I see and I don't want to jeopardize my efforts, or I don't like what I see and I am motivated to work harder. Either way, I really don't want that food anymore.
Another way I circumvent my need for foods I can't (and really shouldn't) have is to look up their caloric value. As I mentioned earlier, I have been an avid calorie counter in the past (it helped me shed 60 pounds), so seeing those numbers helps me gain back my self control. Putting simple pictures on a package letting you know how much energy you need to expend to work off that particular food should have the same impact.
Of course, there are always multiple opinions about everything, and this is no different. Although I do not remember who it was, and when I tried googling the topic I couldn't find it, I did hear during the newscast that there are some who do not find this idea appealing, as all calories are not created the same. Although I agree that the calories from an apple and the ones from a Reese cup may be equal numerically but never nutritionally, I still think I like this new idea and would definitely like our Canadian health experts to look into it. Why would you be wary of a picture of a stick figure on a bike, but okay with a number?
What do you think? Would a system of labels such as these make you think twice before eating certain foods, knowing the amount of time you'll have to spend on the treadmill to burn it off?
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Judging from news reports, I am one of the few people in Southern Ontario who was actually pretty excited that Toronto is hosting the Pan Am /ParaPan Am Games this time around. I know, It's not the Olympics, but I still think it's kinda cool that something this big is going on here. We had intended to see an event, just so we can say we were there and saw something happen. The nice thing about not all the events taking place in the city of Toronto is that those of us who just cannot stand the congestion can see an event in relative peace.
So on Canada Day I received an email that they were having a 25% off sale, and I jumped at the chance and bought 4 tickets to see Canada VS Nicaragua in a preliminary baseball game at the President's Choice Pan Am Ballpark. For 2 kids (under 16) and 2 adults, I paid $80 after discounts, taxes, and fees. Not bad. But I know why tickets are so affordable. Well, two reasons, I guess. The first being that they want people to come, so if they price the tickets reasonably, there's a better chance that families like mine will go. The second has to be the sick pricing structure for pretty much everything else at the venue.
I do also have one more thing to gripe about - the organization at the venue. Going into the game, I was not impressed. Happy during. Leaving the game I was not impressed. Living in Durham, we know the route to take to get to the location of the venue, Audley & Taunton. However, I suppose they did not expect too many people to be arriving from the Durham Region, because there was only one sign, approximately ten feet from the street we would have had to turn onto, telling us that Audley was closed at Rossland. As we drove past it, I saw it very quickly, but was not able to read the whole sign. Quite frankly, even if I had seen it sooner, we would not have had time to turn on Lakeridge anyhow. So we had to drive further West, then North, then back East, following the signs to get to the ballpark. I was none too impressed with that. There should have been ample warning so we could make a decision as to where to turn North sooner.
We get there, park in the grass, with very little direction at this point from signs or volunteers. You kinda just have to wing it and hope for the best. Did I mention the car was a 15 minute walk from the actual stadium? Well, it was. Ugh. Although it was lovely to walk in nature before we got to the event, I could have done without it, and I could have done without the weird walking path they had. There were these hard rubber sheets to walk on with deep grooves on them. Unless you're wearing thick-soled shoes (which I wasn't), they hurt your feet. Then came the gravel path, always fun to get stones in your shoes when you have a long way to walk. It's summer... people are wearing sandals and flip-flops. These two choices for something to walk on would probably be lower on my list, maybe just above 'hot coals' and 'broken glass sprinkled with salt'.
We get to the actual stadium (bottom of the second), and I was really, really underwhelmed as to the sight that greeted me. I was expecting some food, drink, and merchandise vendors. Instead, there was the ballpark to my right, I think a huge field of porta potties on the left, and a few random people selling bottled tap water or beer out of coolers. Since it was general seating, it was tough to find anything. There wasn't really anyone helping out, either. I wasn't really impressed at his point by my experience. Getting out was worse... no direction whatsoever, the only exit signs to be seen at the end of the lot, and if you're there, you already know where the exit is.
We finally did find some seats, and they turned out to be really great. We had a fantastic view of all the action, and since we were sitting in a predominantly Nicaraguan area, the players from Nicaragua were coming over and tossing balls into our area for the fans that stayed past the seventh inning.
All the doom and gloom aside, I enjoyed the game. I am definitely more interested in winter sports, however, I have to say that it's always fun when your team is winning, and after a slow start, that's exactly what Team Canada did. The crowd was great, the seating sucked, but the experience was still enjoyable. As I mentioned before - organization was poor, which is pretty sad.
Don't let my doom and gloom stop you from going to see a game or two yourself. It's a once in a lifetime thing happening right now, and you should endeavor to take part in it in some small way. It is a great thing, and we should take pride in it.
One last thing. There has been a whole lot of talk about how little everyone cares about these games. I do want to point out that although I think it's great that they're here and I'll support them, they were really doomed from the start. Here in Ontario we are way more interested in winter sports than summer ones. We're also not the rowdiest of fans on a good day. Then, you have to remember that these are North & South American games. No European countries. You want tourists and pandemonium? Host a sporting even with European countries as participants. They'll come in droves. Just sayin'.
Three words: Go See It.
I admit, I'm a bit of a geek when it comes to superheroes. I love them and they're pretty much the only movies that I'll give up the equivalent of a mortgage payment to go see in the theaters. Usually because even if they're not that great, you still get enough action to get you through the 2+ hours.
However, what Joss Whedon has been doing with this franchise is simply amazing. We have a whole cast of characters who could (and have) carry an entire movie, even franchise, all by themselves and he's taken them, put them together and instead of a jumbled mess we get a fantastic storyline not only because of what they're banding together to fight against, but also because of the dynamics of all the relationships formed and the way all of these 'alpha' personalities interact with each other.
The quick synopsis, without any spoilers, is that Tony Stark and Bruce Banner create something with the good intentions of creating a world that doesn't need the Avengers anymore. If that worked out this would have been a documentary and not an action flick, so you know something goes horribly wrong and its up to the Avengers to make it all better while causing trillions in property damage.
This movie has everything. You will laugh, you will cry, hold your breath, gasp, smile, and most of all, be thoroughly entertained.
We get those wonderful one-liners we all love that run rampant in the Marvel Universe (can't wait to see what Deadpool comes up with), people die, some come back from the dead, which you already knew if you watch the Marvel Agents of Shield TV Show (Coulson gave you the spoiler alert already) we meet The Vision (who makes us all gasp, especially Thor), Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch, and there are not one, but two love stories! No, it's not Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch, they're actually brother and sister.
Another thing that is really wonderful about this particular movie is that even with all of this action, adventure and mayhem going on, we actually get to learn a lot about the Avengers individually, which is an amazing feat, considering the scope of what's going on. We see a different side of Clint (Hawkeye), Natasha (Widow), and Banner/Hulk. However, noticeably absent are two love interests: Pepper and Jane. Apparently both are super busy (according to Thor and Stark) and just couldn't make it for the festivities.
So there you have it. This movie grabs you by the throat in the first 5 seconds, and will not let go until the very end! Go see it, you will be glad that you did.
I give this movie 5 out of 5 movie passes - and I would give it 10 if I could!!
Here is the synopsis and ratings according to rottentomatoes.com
Don't forget to visit the Avengers Facebook page!!
I had the opportunity to test and review OZ Naturals Vitamin C Professional Anti Aging Serum and I was not disappointed!
First off, let me tell you a little about the serum itself. According to their website, this product:
Our Vitamin C Serum combines the highest quality Vitamin C, and Hyaluronic acid to create this pure, transparent, non-GMO serum that goes on smooth and works deep down below the skin's surface to aid your skin in naturally producing more collagen, something we lose as we get older. In addition, hydration is improved thereby plumping up skin cells to minimize the look of fine lines and wrinkles.
Antioxidant formula protects skin from environmental stressors
Naturally stimulates collagen creation
Hydrates and moisturizes skin
Helps nourish cells allowing skin to heal naturally
Naturally lifts and firms
Made in the USA in our FDA certified facility
No Parabens, No Alcohol
Behind The Science:
Science has shown that the molecular structure of our serum can penetrate further into the skin's layers as opposed to a moisturizer that sits on top of the skin or penetrates just below the surface. OZ Naturals Vitamin C Serum is specifically designed to stimulate new collagen production while also hydrating your skin to make it softer, smoother and younger-looking.
100% vegan, cruelty-free, paraben-free, sulfate-free, mineral oil-free, lanolin-free, gluten-free, and GMO-free. We take pride in making every single one of our products using natural and organic materials. We do not and will never use alcohol or parabens in our formulas. All of our products are created in a state of the art, FDA certified facility located in the USA.
So what did I think?
Well, I always wonder if I'll see any results when I'm given a beauty or health product to review and I have only a week to try it out before I tell you my verdict. I'm actually a day overdue with this review because I had the flu for 3 days and just couldn't look at my laptop. However, I have been using the serum in place of my toner each morning and have definitely seen results. In less than a week my skin feels softer, smoother and looks brighter!
Aside from the positive results I've personally seen, I am really impressed with the natural ingredients such as aloe, vitamin C and jojoba in the ingredients list. And paraben free! The more companies realize that we get better results with fewer chemicals, the better our health and planet will fare. So I definitely give them props for turning to the power of natural ingredients.
Product Rating: 5 smiles out of 5
Product Website: oznaturals.com
Product Type: Anti Aging Serum
Would I purchase?: yes
Would I recommend?: yes
All opinions expressed in this blog are my own, unbiased after testing the product. The product was offered free of charge from the good people at OZ Naturals with the expectation of an honest review within this blog, favorable or otherwise .
Yesterday I gave the lowdown on two drinks our family have incorporated into a healthier lifestyle, along with the recipe for lemon water and a promise that one for golden milk would soon follow.
I won't give you the whole why this is awesome for my family spiel again (you can read yesterday's post here), instead here are the benefits of golden milk, and my own personal recipe.
This is another drink that is causing a lot of buzz on the internet. South Asia has known about the powers of turmeric forever and we in North America are just catching on. Turmeric is the spice (or root) that gives golden milk it's rich colour and one of the components that make it so great for your body.
Google 'golden milk' and you'll get a plethora of hits, most giving you the standard recipe of: coconut milk, turmeric powder and honey. On it's own, this combination has some benefits, but with the addition of a few simple ingredients, you can pack so much more punch into your evening drink.
About 90% (if not more) of the recipes call for turmeric powder. It is a fantastic spice and can be used that way if you prefer or if you do not have access to fresh. I will always choose the fresh option, picking up a whole bag of the root whenever I find it, however I do have ground turmeric in my spice cabinet and will use it when fresh runs out. Same goes for the ginger, although it is really easy to find in most stores.
A note about the ingredients: feel free to use cow, goat, coconut, almond, soy, or whatever type of milk you prefer. We started out with coconut milk, but we moved to cow's milk, as I find that we get a richer, creamier drink. The black pepper is added in because with it your body is able to absorb an astonishing 2000% more of the available curcumin in turmeric. Shocking, I know, what that little tiny addition will do. If you read yesterday's post you'll already know this, but I'm saying it again just in case: it is really important to mix the honey in after the milk has cooled slightly. High temperatures will kill the beneficial bacteria in it. Also, try to use raw, unpasteurized whenever you can. The difference in benefits is astounding when you remove the pasteurization (high heat...) process. To see yesterday's chart regarding this topic, click here.
2 cups milk
sliver fresh ginger
1/2" chunk fresh turmeric
2 whole black peppercorns
pinch cayenne pepper
2 tsps honey
1/4 tsp maca powder
1/2 cinnamon stick
(*note* I use a nutribullet for the first part. You can forgo the blending part and just chop smaller pieces and put everything together in your saucepan as is)
Add 1 cup milk to blender.
Add ginger, turmeric, peppercorns, cayenne and maca. Blend for 30 seconds.
Place this along with remaining milk and cinnamon stick into a saucepan.
Allow to cook on low heat, stirring occasionally, for about a half hour. Do not boil.
After a half hour, remove from heat and allow to cool about 10 minutes.
Strain into 2 cups and stir in 1 tsp honey each. Drink warm.
Why drink this? Once you read all these benefits, you're going to wonder "Why am I not drinking this?"
Yesterday we learned about the benefits of ginger and honey:
Ginger improves the absorption of essential nutrients, helps relieve gas, bloating & nausea, and has anti-inflammatory properties.
Honey helps prevent cancer & heart disease, reduces ulcers and gastrointestinal disorders, has anti-bacterial & anti-fungal properties, reduces coughs & throat irritation, regulates blood sugar, gives you great skin and is a probiotic.
In addition to those benefits, in each cup of golden milk you'll get these boosts also:
Turmeric boasts anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant, antiseptic, & analgesic properties, boosts immunity, is an anti-carcinogenic, helps maintain cholesterol levels, promotes digestive health, detoxifies livers, regulates metabolism, lowers triglycerides, helps give you beautiful skin, and can help with high blood pressure, and improve memory & brain function.
Maca is rich in vitamin B vitamins, C, & E. It provides calcium, zinc, iron, magnesium, phosphorous & amino acids. It can boost to your libido, balance your hormones & increase fertility. Can alleviate cramps, body pain, hot flashes, anxiety, mood swings, & depression. Energy levels may increase, along with an increase in mental energy & focus. It helps restore red blood cells, which aids anemia & cardiovascular diseases. May help clear up acne.
Cayenne has the ability to ease upset stomach, ulcers, sore throats, spasmodic and irritating coughs, and diarrhea.It's an anti-cold and flu agent, has anti-fungal properties, can help prevent migraines, anti-allergen, digestive aid, helps reduce atherosclerosis, detox support, joint-pain relief, anti-bacterial properties, boosts metabolism, help balance LDL cholesterol & triglycerides, & helps prevent tooth & gum disease.
Cinnamon helps with heart health, blood sugar regulation, better brain function, & improved motor function.
So I ask you again, why aren't you drinking this? Trust me, your body will thank you!
As I move my family towards a healthier home little by little, we've also started to drink 'concoctions' (as hubby calls them) in the morning and evening as a small step on that path. Currently we drink honey lemon water each morning and golden milk each evening and we've seen a few changes since this has become routine. Hubby has lost a few pounds (ten at last count, I believe) and I have had some success in that area also. To be more specific, at the beginning of this year I caught a particularly nasty bug - one that had me wishing I could just die - and over the course of the four days that I feared leaving my home without wearing an adult diaper (I know, TMI), I lost sixteen pounds. Crazy, right? Well, that's what happens when you're petrified of putting anything into your body (like food), but your body still feels the need to get rid of everything that is still in there. Usually after such an illness, I'll put it all back on (and then some because I'm so happy to be able to eat again) but that was not the case this time around. Four pounds returned, but here I am, a month later, and that is all I've put back on.
We're not eating any differently than before and definitely not getting more exercise (although we both know we should), so we're laying this good fortune at the doorstep of the honey lemon water we drink each weekday morning. Yes, I said weekday. On weekends we all wake up at different times (my teenager just in time for brunch, usually) and since you can't have coffee for an hour after the lemon water, it makes for a tricky situation. So we forgo our 'concoctions' on the weekends. We've been taking our honey lemon water since before Christmas last year.
The second one we drink each weeknight is golden milk. I found out about the health benefits of this drink and a pretty good recipe online and we've been drinking this for about a month. I've tweaked the standard recipe slightly and will give you my version tomorrow. There is one really glaring benefit we've found with this one, and I can only attribute it to the golden milk because we did not have this benefit while drinking only the lemon water, and it happens within days of starting it. We smell better. I know that seems a really odd thing to say, but you don't realize what a benefit it is until you live it. No one likes to talk about personal odor issues, most of us are embarrassed by it, and do our best to mask it. Hubby didn't have much of an issue to begin with, he is blessed to only have to wear deodorant on the stickiest of summer days. I am not so blessed, and my poor son got my genes in this respect. Since he hit puberty, it has been a major issue. People may think he doesn't bathe or wear deodorant, but he does and it still doesn't help. My body is so good to me that I have to put on deodorant the second I get out of the shower or I already smell. Not fun, and not good for a person's self-esteem. I am quite aware of the correlation between deodorant and breast cancer, but it came down to do I want to lose one or both boobs later in life or stink to high heaven now. I did think about it every time I applied deodorant. It sucked.
Here's the fantastic change: we don't stink anymore! I can (and do, lol) actually go an entire weekend without showering or putting on deodorant. I now know freedom, people. It is quite liberating.
So, enough about our family's bodily functions, weight loss and level of stinkiness. I wanted to share my two daily drinks, but there are quite a few new ones that I'd like to try out over the course of 2015 and I may do another post like this one with my happy results.
I'll start with this one because it's pretty much the most widely known drink with health benefits and also because its the one I start my day with.
There are many different variations of this one, and we started with the basic: Hot water with a half a lemon squeezed in. If you google this one, you'll find recipes galore. My suggestion is to start with water & lemon sweetened with some honey. Next, add some mint. Lastly, try out the recipe below.
**note** It is really important to add the honey AFTER the water has cooled slightly. Hot water will kill the beneficial bacteria.
**note** Due to the acidic nature of the lemon, do not drink coffee or brush your teeth for one hour after consuming.
2 cups water
1 lemon (organic if you can, otherwise, wash it with soap & water)
2 tsp honey (organic, raw, unpasteurized is best)
sliver fresh ginger
4 leaves fresh mint
Toss mint leaves into a saucepan and muddle slightly.
Slice lemon and add along with ginger.
Bring to a boil, remove from heat and let cool slightly.
Mix in honey, pour into glasses (use a strainer) and consume warm.
(Quick, simple recipe for busy mornings at the end of this post)
Why drink this? Seriously, this one glass packs a punch!
Lemons are known to replenish body salts, aid in the production of digestive fluids, maintain eye health, helps prevent wrinkles & acne, help balance calcium & oxygen levels in the liver, potassium levels nourish brain and nerve cells, help reduce pain and inflammation in joints, help prevent common cold and some infections & diseases by helping slow the growth & multiplication of bacteria, balance pH levels, flush out toxins, and is a great source of vitamin C, citric acid, calcium, phosphorus and magnesium.
Ginger improves the absorption of essential nutrients, helps relieve gas, bloating & nausea, and has anti-inflammatory properties.
Mint relieves indigestion, gas, morning sickness, menstrual cramps & pain, anti-bacterial & anti-inflammatory properties help fight oral infections, great for skin & clearing up acne, Helps prevent asthma & allergies, boosts immunity, fights stress & depression and helps fight cancer.
Honey helps prevent cancer & heart disease, reduces ulcers and gastrointestinal disorders, has anti-bacterial & anti-fungal properties, reduces coughs & throat irritation, regulates blood sugar, gives you great skin and is a probiotic. Whenever you can, go for raw, unpasteurized honey, there are way more benefits. If you can, find a local beekeeper and purchase your honey from them. You are supporting your community and you know what you're getting. Just so you know, honey technically cannot be called 'organic' in Ontario (I'm not sure about other provinces) because the bees are flying around and can ingest pollen from anywhere.
I have included a graphic I found online which gives you an idea why raw is better:
I highly recommend that you incorporate at least a basic version of this drink into your morning routine. I know it's not easy - we're all so busy and time is at a premium - but it's such a simple way to do something good for your body.
Some mornings are busier than others, and a way to make this quickly (which I do some mornings) is this:
Boil water in your kettle. Pour water into each glass & add juice of one half lemon. Add enough cold water to cool slightly. Mix in 1 tsp honey. This method is per glass.
Here you have the basics: honey & lemon, and it's quick. Don't give up your health to save ten minutes!
Come back tomorrow for my Golden Milk recipe!
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