Trying to live a healthier life? Start with baby steps: check nutritional values for excess sodium or try to walk the dog an extra ten minutes each day. Small changes are often the ones we stick with, so this is a great place to start. For more great
women's health ideas, check out the can't-miss collection below. It will help you reach your healthy-living goals. Learn the hottest women's health news from the experts in cancer prevention, heart health and healthy eating, plus find 26 ways to live better.
In addition to healthy foods, it is also important to stock your kitchen with the proper tools to make healthy food preparation easy. The quality of the tools you choose determines the quality, ease of preparation and happiness with the healthy foods you eat.
A recent breast cancer study has uncovered a link between vitamin D intake and breast cancer prevention. Canadian researchers at the Samuel Lunenfeld Research Institute at Toronto's Mount Sinai Hospital interviewed 576 patients with breast cancer and 1,135 without the disease and determined that those who had been exposed to vitamin D had a significantly reduced risk of breast cancer.
In Canada, heart disease is the leading killer of both men and women, and statistics are suggesting that more young Canadians are developing heart disease. According to a recent report released by the Heart and Stroke Foundation, the number of Canadians in their 20s and 30s with high blood pressure has almost doubled in the past 15 years. Of those 20 to 34 years old, three million are inactive, 2.5 million are overweight or obese, two million smoke and 164,000 have high blood pressure.
It's not often I do fancy garnishes, but every once in a while, a fruit platter calls for one. And there's nothing that has quite the same level of flourish as a
double orange twist! This obviously also works with any other citrus fruit.
Here's how to pull this look together. This isn't going to make much sense without photos, so be sure to refer to the grid below to help explain.
Slice one end (either blossom or stem end) off of your orange (photo 1)
Slice into your orange as if you're going to cut a very thin slice, but stop about halfway through (photos 2 and 3)
Slice into the orange again (again, very thinly), but go all the way through (photo 4). You should have a slice of orange that has two thin pieces at the top half, but is solid on the bottom half (photo 5)
Make a slit in the centre of the solid half (photo 6)
Holding the orange on either side of the slit, twist and arrange on your platter, separating the top "petals" a bit (photos 7 and 8)
More fun citrus posts: To see how we peel an orange,
click here! To see how we segment an orange,
Photography: Annabelle Waugh
Read on for expert advice on maximizing your enjoyment, staying safe and feeling empowered at every age.
NOT FEELING IT? Many women mistake a low sex drive for a clinical case of sexual dysfunction— but chances are, the cause is more than medical.
You aren't exactly sure what's up, but even though you love your partner, you just haven't felt like sex lately. You duck his touch, opting to watch Netflix instead. Maybe it's been months, and you're starting to wonder: Is there something wrong?
You can carry on with binge-watching The Crown, because, for most women, there's nothing medically amiss between the sheets. And, if it's any comfort, you're not the only one who's concerned about the possibility of sexual dysfunction. Teesha Morgan, a Vancouver sex therapist, says it's the question patients ask most. But, "almost 100 percent of the time, what they're experiencing is normal," she says. "There are so many things that can affect sexual desire: if you have little kids; if you're on antidepressants; if you take the birth control pill; if you're perimenopausal, postmenopausal or going through menopause...."
Dr. Natalie Rosen, a clinical psychologist and sex therapist in Halifax, says true sexual dysfunction persists for at least six months and is "associated with significant distress for the individual or couple, as judged by a clinician." So, while it may seem as though all of your friends are in the same sexless boat, just 12 to 20 percent of women and 11 percent of men have sexual dysfunction.
But if it's not a medical problem, what's behind your lack of drive? As Morgan says, there are tons of reasons. However, one major cause might be a truism we were hoping to write off: In women, sex drive tends to dip over time. According to a study published in Psychological Medicine last year, which looked at sexual function (desire, satisfaction, ability to achieve orgasm) in more than 2,000 women, those in long-term relationships tended to see a drop in desire. But that doesn't mean you should buy into the clichés about women hating sex; instead, take the opportunity to be more realistic about your expectations—it's OK to have less sex! And take heart: The study also found that the long-partnered women had an easier time achieving orgasm.
So, if you want to have sex like a champion, don't be afraid to try new things: Get it on anywhere but the bedroom or use a sex toy—and make your personal preferences clear. Dr. Laurie Betito, a clinical psychologist in Montreal, suggests that you "liken having sex to going to the gym." Put it in your calendar if you have to! Because, just as with exercise, the more you go, the easier it will be to keep your commitment.
TECHNICAL DIFFICULTIES How your smartphone could be messing with your sex life.
No one can be present in the moment if they're waiting to jump on that next ping, so, for God's sake, put down your phone. Experts recommend charging your devices as far from the bedroom as possible. If you really can't let go, at least turn down the volume. And consider trying "mindful intimacy." The wellness buzzword can easily be applied to sexual health; mindfulness is about focusing on the present, and mindful intimacy means being aware of what you are experiencing while you're with your partner. The idea is that couples who practise it can overcome the barriers they've built up and feel more connected to each other and their own individual sexuality. So sign up for a meditation class or use a mindfulness app like Headspace. (Ironic, we know—but apps really are easy and accessible ways to try mindfulness!)
LIBIDO BOOSTERS A look at how the newest sexual aids stack up.
Elvie: Remember those squeezing exercises you had to do after giving birth? Pelvic-floor muscles can make all the difference between a meh or mighty sex life, which is why Kegels are a must. But how do you know they're working? This pelvic-floor exerciser monitors your motion in real time thanks to a Bluetooth-enabled smartphone app.
Aphrodisiac marijuana: California-based medical marijuana purveyor Paradigm Cannabis Group markets a strain of weed called Sexxpot that promises to boost mood and libido. Researchers haven't been able to definitively establish a link between weed and libido, but there's anecdotal evidence that some people do benefit from partaking before sex. Trial run?
"Viagara for her": Big Pharma has been trying for years tcome up with a love pill for women, with little success. The most recent, Addyi, hit shelves in the U.S. in 2015, with a resounding thunk. A prescription pill aimed at premenopausal women, it delivers an average of just one-half of an extra satisfying sexual event per month—at a cost of US$900!
BACK IN THE SADDLE When you've been ill, sex is often the last item on your to-do list—but that doesn't mean it can't move up a notch or two.
Let's be honest: Sex isn't top of mind after you've been sick. Even sneezing and coughing from a cold or flu can drag you down, so it's no wonder something more serious can affect your sex life. But a thriving connection after a medical condition is possible.
First, though, it's important to know it's OK if you're not exactly feeling frisky. "There's psychology related to illness and sexuality," says Dr. Christine Palmay, a family physician in Toronto. "Depression from an illness, sideeffects from medication and body-image concerns can all lead to a lack of interest in sex."
So don't feel pressured to immediately return to your pre-illness state of affairs. Maybe you've had a mastectomy—that can be a huge blow to your femininity. Or you've had a heart attack and are nervous that strenuous sexual activity will cause another one. You can still be intimate. Trade cuddling for intimate touching—get as naked as you both feel comfortable with, then engage in sex talk or remind each other of favourite moves. It will do more for your relationship than sitting side by side watching TV in parallel play.
And you don't have to worry about a subsequent heart attack after all. A study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology in 2015 says sex doesn't trigger a heart attack or increase your risk of a repeat. In fact, researchers found it's actually considered "moderate physical activity…and is comparable to climbing two staircases or taking a brisk walk." So putting a little hanky-panky back into your repertoire can't hurt—and it might even help your recovery.
It's also worth noting that lots of women struggle after illness. "Energy levels post chemotherapy tend not to improve for several years. In some cases, women never return to their previous level of functioning," says Dr. Palmay. "So be gentle and patient with yourself." And when you do eventually feel ready, "experiment, be adventurous," she says. "Maybe sex will play a different role in your new life, and that's OK."
YES MEANS YES Consent isn't just a concept that affects carefree young people. "It's still a consideration in relationships, whether of a casual, short- or longterm nature," says Mary-Jean Malyszka, a registered provisional psychologist and clinical sex therapist in Calgary. But it can be sticky to address. Here are some tips for striking up the conversation.
With your partner: Consent is an ongoing conversation. "If you would like to change the type or degree of sexual activity, check in by asking, 'Is this OK?' or 'How would you feel about…?' " says Malyszka. Or remind your partner to check in with you. And, if you're planning to try something new, consider choosing a code word or action that means "stop immediately," she advises.
With your teens: Explain what consent is, keeping it simple but clear: You are allowed to stop at any point if it doesn't feel right, even if the other person really wants to continue. "You don't need to go into a big explanation. It's all about what you want and don't want for your body, and your partner has to respect that," Malyszka says.
With your parents: This can be an awkward conversation, but, considering the possibility of cognitive decline, an important one. Explain the importance of informed affirmative consent, which means each partner understands exactly what is going to happen and is enthusiastic about trying it.
SAFETY FIRST Sexually transmitted infections are on the rise among older adults. Here's what you need to know.
Remember having "the talk" with your kids about sexually transmitted infections (STIs)? It's time to revisit that conversation— with yourself.
The Public Health Agency of Canada says the national rate of STI infection has been rising steadily since the late '90s, including among older adults. According to the Sexual Health at Midlife Study, a joint project by Trojan and the Sex Information and Education Council of Canada (SIECCAN), the rates of chlamydia, for instance, among Canadians aged 40 to 59 increased by 153 percent between 2003 and 2012.
Dr. Betito has noticed an increasing need to educate even elderly adults. "Seniors' residences are like college dorms. There's often one man for several women, and they don't use condoms because there's no risk of pregnancy," she says. Dr. Palmay has also seen more STIs in her perimenopausal, menopausal and postmenopausal patients. "My senior patients go to Myrtle Beach, have fun in the sun and come back with syphilis, and they're nonchalant about it," she says.
Postmenopausal women are actually more vulnerable to STIs—the lining of the vagina becomes drier with age, which makes it "more likely to tear and become irritated during sex," says Dr. Palmay. "These tears could lead to more susceptibility to STIs."
Blame lack of condom use for the increased health risk—of the 77 percent of respondents in the Trojan/SIECCAN study who had intercourse in their last sexual encounter, only about 28 percent of women said their partner used a condom (see What's Behind the Rise, below, for more info).
"Youth today are taught 'no glove, no love,' but older women didn't grow up with that concept," says Dr. Betito, adding that people who are widowed or recently divorced "don't know how to negotiate condom use with a new partner." She advises women to take charge by carrying condoms and telling their partners they expect safe sex.
WHAT'S BEHIND THE RISE? Experts say the increasing incidence of STIs among the 40- to 59-year-old cohort can be traced back to three things.
Hookup-specific apps such as Tinder and Bumble: People looking for casual hookups use these apps to find potential sex partners with the swipe of a screen—no sexual history required.
Birth control use over condom use: For the 40-year-olds, birth control may help prevent pregnancy, but the pill doesn't ward off STIs. Condoms are close to 100 percent effective (though you can still contract HPV and herpes through oral sex).
Screening confusion: Not all STIs are diagnosed through blood or urine tests, and not all STIs are part of standard screening. For example, herpes and HPV require their own tests.
RUBBER CHECK If you thought we'd reached the apex of what a condom could be, think again. This is what rubbers could look like in the near future.
The number-one protector against STIs, HIV and, yes, babies, the latex condom has held steady for years. But once you've got thinner condoms, flavoured condoms and condoms bearing Sailor Moon designs, where do you go? To science, that's where. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is backing projects searching for a biodegradable condom that works just as well as the traditional sort, and a model that can also act as a drug-delivery system forSTI prevention. And, if those two aren't enough, behold the Rapidom. It's an applicator that will help a guy get the rubber out of the package and onto his penis in one swift move. Handy (and more likely to prevent user error)!
Toronto native Penny Oleksiak has stolen the spotlight at the Olympics with four—yes, four!—swimming medals, including Canada's first gold of 2016.
Penelope ‘Penny’ Oleksiak is the youngest member of Canada’s Olympic swimming squad, but before the Rio Games started she was probably the least known. All that changed when she earned four medals at Rio, a bronze for the 4x100 freestyle relay, a bronze for the 4s200 freestyle relay, a silver in the 100m butterfly race and a gold (Canada's first!) in the 100m freestyle after she and American swimmer Simone Manuel tied for first place. Here are five fast facts about this rising star.
1. She was born on June 13, 2000. Penny was only 15 years old during the Olympic trials when she qualified for a spot on the Canadian Olympic Team, making her the youngest Canadian athlete in Rio. And that qualifying swim was a record breaker: her 56.99 100m butterfly was 0.28 seconds faster than the previous record, held by teammate Katerine Savard.
2. Penny didn’t start to swim until she was nine years old. And she learned in a neighbor’s pool! But when she told her parents how much she enjoyed it, they encouraged her to compete.
3. She wasn’t an immediate success. When she expressed interest in swimming, Penny’s parents took her to the Toronto Swim Club to enroll in their competitive program. She just had to swim two laps around the pool at the University of Toronto—but she couldn’t do it. She didn’t get into the Scarborough Swim Club, either. But she practiced for a year before trying again. And needless to say, this time she made it.
4. She comes from a family of athletes. Penny isn’t the only sporty person in her family. Both parents are athletes, big brother Jamie Oleksiak plays defence for the Dallas Stars and older sister Hayley is competitive rower at Northeastern University. Jamie took to Twitter this past weekend to let the world know how proud and happy he is for his little sister.
5. She could be one of Canada's best athletes. Thanks to her height—she’s six-foot-one!—and athleticism, Penny could become the best Canadian female swimmer of all time. And she's already breaking records—until she won gold on August 11, only one other Canadian female swimmer had taken the top spot: Anne Ottenbrite, who won at the 1984 games in Los Angeles.
Canadian Living's senior editor, Stacy Lee Kong, tries out the trend that intimidates her the most: crop tops.
Photography by Carlyle Routh. Hair by Jukka/Davines/Plutino Group. Makeup by Jodi Urichuk/Bite Beauty/Plutino Group.
Have you ever flirted with the idea of trying a daring style but weren't quite sure how to pull it off? We found six women who were intrigued by a trend they usually avoid, then we gave them the support and style advice to help them make it their own. Here, Canadian Living's senior editor Stacy Lee Kong tries out a crop top for work.
"I always admire bold, edgy style, though I don't think I'd ever dress like that myself," says Stacy. Her style profile is more in line with off-duty models: effortless, casual and modern. While most of Stacy's wardrobe is on the minimalist side, she has a palate for trends and likes to pepper them into her wardrobe. One item she loves, that's still absent from her closet is the crop top. "I believe that size shouldn't have any bearing on what you can and cannot wear, so I'm pretty embarrassed that this top gives me so much anxiety to try," she says.
A top that's missing three to eight inches of fabric can understandably cause angst, but we're here to squash those fears. Depending on how this top is styled, it can be extremely flattering—plus, donning one doesn't mean you need to bare your midriff. For Stacy, we chose a structured crop top as the star item and created a layered look around it.
Try wearing the top over a classic white blouse to bring the trend into winter season—and an office environment. Pair the set with a pencil skirt and a cloak and you're good to go.