After reading this post, don't forget to enter our contest – you could win a new dishwasher. Plus, do you have your own story to tell? Send it to email@example.com (no more than 300 words, please), and you could win one of 30 daily prizes. Today's winner is Angela Smith of London, Ont.
Living in another country helped me appreciate what Canadians do for the environment. But, it also helped me realize what more I could do.Last year, we returned to Canada after living in England for three years. Our first year there, we lived without a car. Walking everywhere got us in better shape. I bought a pull trolley to carry groceries home when I walked the 2.5 kilometres to the store. With no curbside recycling, that trolley also carried plastics and papers to a recycling centre on the other side of town. Now back in Ontario, we live in London, but my husband works in Toronto – a two-hour commute. Unfortunately, his job and the distance from our family required us to get a car. We couldn't stay as green as we would have liked. But, my husband still mostly uses the train on the days he travels to Toronto. I wasn't finding it as easy to get all my errands done here as it had been in England. Southwestern Ontario isn't as pedestrian friendly. Not wanting to make things worse by becoming a two-car family again, we found an environmentally friendly solution: an electric bike for me! Charging the battery costs about 6 cents and I get between 20 and 30 kilometres per charge. I get to most places in the city while getting fresh air and exercise (okay, I admit, the motor does help on hills). I also use a pretty, tapestry-covered shopping trolley to pull groceries home from our nearest supermarkets. I've gotten over the hang-up of it being an "old lady" thing! I am glad to be back in Canada where recycling is so established. But keen to be greener, I decided to try my hand at composting too. Feeds my garden – and a few mice, I'm sure!
Thanks to Angela for sending in her story – and don't forget, if you still haven't entered, there's still time to send your own story to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Angela wins a copy of the book
Stuffed and Starved by Raj Patel, courtesy of HarperCollins, and a Clear2O Home Water Filtration System. Today's code word: trolley Read more: •
Cut your gas usage by up to 30 per cent •
Tips on reducing your car use •
Why hybrids are the way to drive
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)!
These supposedly healthy exercises could be hindering your fitness goals. Here's why you should ditch three common culprits for more helpful exercise habits.
You put in a lot of effort at the gym and want your hard work to pay off. But some exercise practices could actually be sabotaging your fitness goals. We spoke to fitness expert Brent Bishop about three common things people do to get fit, how they can backfire and what to do instead.
1. Sit-ups Many people who want flat stomachs and strong abs turn to sit-ups, but Bishop says most of us should eschew this abdominal exercise. "It's an exercise that puts you in excessive flexion, which most of us are already in all day while sitting at work," says Bishop. "Your hip flexors are already tight and short, so why tighten them and shorten them more? It puts a lot of strain on the discs over time."
And since the sit-up mainly engages the rectus abdominis (the top layer of abdominal muscles) and hip flexors, it doesn't help tighten or strengthen your core the way other exercises might.
Instead: Try planks. Variations of the plank activate your entire core, including your transversus abdominis (the innermost abdominal muscles), obliques and lower back. Not only will they help you chisel your waist, Bishop says planks promote proper posture, help alleviate back discomfort and minimize risk of injury down the line.
2. Boot camps Not all boot camps are bad, says Bishop, but there's a troubling trend in which these exercise programs urge large groups of people to do as many burpees, pushups or squats as they can, as fast as they can. "It's very competitive. If you can do them fast and do them correctly, that's great. But if you can't do them properly, you need to back off on the reps and tailor your form," says Bishop.
A more-is-better mentality makes injuries more likely because there is little focus on performing the exercises well, and the lack of emphasis on engaging muscles properly makes the moves less effective.
Instead: Focus on doing exercises slowly and properly. Once you can complete them through the full range of motion with perfect form, feel free to speed it up or add weights while maintaining effective posture throughout.
3. Monotonous cardio Many people who are focused on losing weight spend hours running each week or use the elliptical nearly every day because they think cardio is the best way to burn calories. "People who are putting in a lot of mileage are probably putting more stress on their joints than they need to," says Bishop. "If they're not doing strength training, not only are they not going to lose weight as effectively, but they're losing lean mass, too."
Instead: Replace about half of your cardio with strength training. "You're going to increase muscle a bit, so your metabolism is going to elevate and, over the long term, you're going to end up burning more calories," explains Bishop. "Not only that, but if you do high-intensity strength training, there's an after-effect in which your metabolism is elevated eight to 12 hours afterward, so you burn more calories after that workout."
From lunges to overhead presses, our do-it-all workout routin gets your heart rate up, builds muscles and burns calories.
If you're exhausted just thinking about what you need to accomplish at the gym—get your heart rate up,
build muscle, protect your bones—you're not alone. This dynamic routine from certified personal trainer Justine Keyserlingk, owner of Toronto's
Just Get Fit, lets you target all of your health goals in a single session.
Do this eight-move workout two or three times a week, interspersing cardio (running, walking or cycling) in between. And as always, if you feel any pain while exercising, stop and consult a health-care provider.
1. Lateral lunge with overhead press Standing with your feet together and holding weights at your shoulders, take a large step to the left, bending your left knee and keeping your right leg straight. Send energy through your left heel to push yourself back to centre, then lift the weights overhead, extending your arms. Lower the weights to your shoulders. Do 10 reps before switching to the opposite side.
A.Lifting weights overhead gives your heart a workout; your blood needs to pump against gravity.
B. Simultaneously working your arms and legs uses multiple large muscle groups, which means you're burning more calories.
C. Studies have shown that resistance training, also called weight training, may improve bone mineral density in the spine, hips and wrists.
2. One-legged dead lift Standing with your feet together and holding weights at your sides, slowly hinge forward at the hips while bending your left knee slightly and extending your right leg behind you. Lower your torso and lift your right leg until both are parallel to the floor, keeping your back straight and your arms extended downward. Send energy through your left heel to lift your torso and return to a standing position. Do 10 reps before switching to the opposite side.
A. This move works often-forgotten muscle groups: the glutes and the hamstrings.
B. Standing on one leg
improves your balance, which may help prevent falls. And that stretch you feel in your hamstring promotes flexibility—being limber protects against future muscle injuries.
Tip: If you have trouble balancing, start by holding onto the back of a chair with one hand.
3. Sumo squat with biceps curl Stand with your feet a little more than shoulder-width apart, with your hips, knees and feet turned out slightly. Engaging your core and holding weights in front of your hips, palms facing forward, lower your bum, as far as you can go, into a squat. Make sure your knees don't extend past your toes. Send energy through your heels to return to standing, then bend your elbows to pull the weights toward your shoulders. Do 20 reps.
A. This load-bearing exercise not only builds bone density but also
increases strength and stability, preventing falls that put bones at risk.
B. This move will help tone your abdominals, biceps, inner thighs and glutes.
C. Strengthening these muscles will give your resting metabolism a boost, so you will burn more calories per day.
4. Plyometric lunge Standing with your feet together, step forward into a lunge with your left foot, bending both knees at 90 degrees. Your right heel should be lifted and your left knee shouldn't extend past your toes. As you step forward, swing your right arm forward and your left arm backward. Keeping your torso upright and engaging your abdominals, jump, simultaneously switching your arms and legs to land in a lunge on the opposite side. Do 20 reps.
A. The impact of landing in a lunge can help build bone mass and
enhance joint stability. Take care, however, if you have existing joint problems—plyometric (explosive) exercises can contribute to joint strain.
B. The jumping motion requires you to lift your body weight with each rep, giving your heart a workout. This dynamic exercise adds a calorie-burning cardio element.
Tip: If you're having trouble keeping your balance during this fast-paced move, add a small pulse or bounce to each lunge before jumping into the next one.
5. Renegade row Holding a weight in each hand, start in a plank position, with your arms and legs extended, your feet hip-width apart and your hands directly below your shoulders. Keeping your hips parallel to the floor, bend your left arm, lifting the weight toward your underarm. Return the weight to starting position. Repeat on the opposite side. Do 20 reps.
A. This move helps open up the chest and shoulders. Over time, it can contribute to improved posture and help protect against spine curvature.
B. This exercise will sculpt your shoulders, triceps, abdominals, obliques and upper back. It's easy to develop muscle imbalances because day-to-day activities often involve pushing movements. The pulling action of this exercise helps rebalance muscle groups, which can
decrease the risk of injury.
6. Cross-body mountain climber Start in a plank position, with your arms and legs extended, your feet hip-width apart and your hands directly below your shoulders. Without moving your arms, quickly draw your left knee toward your right elbow, then return your left leg to starting position. Repeat on the opposite side. Do 20 reps.
A. If you do this move regularly, you'll notice more definition of your triceps, abdominals, obliques and shoulder muscles.
B. This high-intensity movement will get your heart rate up, improving your cardiovascular fitness.Because this exercise demands energy from your whole body, you'll
burn extra calories.
7. Side plank with hip drop Lying on your right side, stack your left leg on top of your right leg, with your right forearm on the floor, your elbow aligned directly under your shoulder, and your left arm extended upward. Press into your right forearm and lift your right hip, creating a long diagonal line with your body. Slowly lower your right hip to tap the floor, then return to the lifted position. Do 10 reps before switching to the opposite side.
A. This exercise will help define your obliques, abdominals and
B. Strengthening one side of the body at a time can prevent muscle imbalances, while core strengthening aids in stabilization.
8. Russian twist Sit on the floor, with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor, holding a weight in front of your chest. Leaning back to engage your core, lift your feet a few inches. Then, with hips facing forward, rotate your upper body to the left and tap the weight on the floor. Next, rotate to the right, tapping the weight on the right side. Do 20 reps.
A. If you do this exercise regularly, you'll see increased definition of your abs, obliques and lower-back muscles.
B. This rotational movement strengthens the muscles necessary for twisting and turning—motions that often cause injury in
Tip: If you have lower-back problems, do this exercise without lifting your feet.
Kayak, the world's leading travel search engine, combed through its searches and is sharing the scoop on the top places Canadians love to visit and where they will be jet setting in 2017.
One of our favourite west-coast cities tops the list, and several international destinations are new to the list, And, of course, there are plenty of hot spots south of the border. With so many options and locations to visit, one thing is for sure—Canadians love to travel!
B.C. is the bee's knees
The top domestic travel spot in Canada is Vancouver, followed by Kelowna. Americans are also enamoured with Vancity, making it their top Canadian destination, followed by Montreal and Toronto. But those from Vancouver aren't staying put—their top travel spot is San Jose.
Next stop: Somewhere exotic
Not only are Canadians traveling more this New Year's, they're jet setting to far-off locales, including Dubai, Seoul, Madrid, Guatemala and Reykjavik.
Gimme sunshine! Overall, Canadians are escaping the snow for sun, and Florida is the top hotspot—particularly Fort Lauderdale, Orlando and Miami.
For Calgarians, they're saying “aloha” to Hawaii. For the fourth consecutive year, Calgarians have made Hawaii their destination of choice. Since 2015, interest in the Pineapple State has doubled.
Residents of Edmonton are heading south to Los Angeles, with a whopping 37 percent search increase from last year.
Keep it local
Residents of Winnipeg choose Toronto as their number one destination to celebrate—their interest in the 6ix has nearly doubled from last year.
Torontonians love traveling
When Torontonians choose to travel domestically, they opt for Vancouver and Calgary. And, when jet-setting outside of the country, their top picks include Dubai (up 152 percent) and Reykjavik (up 134 percent).
As for Americans: They like us
On the other hand, our neighbours south of the border are packing their bags and exploring our home and native land—there's been a 20 percent increase in Americans travelling to Canada.
With our country's 150th birthday around the corner, Ottawa will be pulling out all the stops when it comes to entertaining, enlightening and engaging Canadians. We can’t wait to take part in all the amazing events scheduled throughout the year.