Planning a first birthday party is often a stressful experience, especially for new parents. Pressure to spend a fortune, invite everyone you know and pull off a memorable event can come from all sides, but the process doesn’t have to feel like a chore. For every stressor there’s a solution – we swear.
1. First-time jitters
Stress over a first birthday party often stems from never having planned a child's party before, says Lisa Kothari, owner of kids' party-planning company Peppers and Pollywogs. "This can be quite a challenge when it comes to figuring out how to approach planning and organizing the event," she says.
The fix: Relax and remember that this party is really about you and not your child – after all, a one-year-old is not old enough to really grasp much of what’s going on.
"This is a moment for you to celebrate the momentous occasion of your child turning one, something he will never remember," says Kothari. "So, bearing that in mind, have the party that is best for you." Don’t worry about getting the perfect cake or the perfect decorations – just enjoy yourself.
Although your child is turning one, chances are there will be kids of various ages attending your party and it can be stressful trying to figure out how to keep them all entertained.
"This is quite common, especially at a first birthday party, so make sure to plan on older children being at your party," says Kathari. "You don't want a bunch of preschool and school-aged children at your home for several hours with nothing to do."
The fix: Avoid a riot by making sure to schedule activities for the older kids who will be attending. Pick a party theme and put together some simple games or crafts to keep everyone busy.
Many people – especially new moms – feel as though they have to invite everyone they know to their child’s first birthday party, and "before you realize it you have 100 people coming," says Barbara Reich, author of Secrets of an Organized Mom (Atria Books, 2013). The thought of a houseful of people – including kids, babies and possibly pets – can send even the most entertaining-savvy mom into a meltdown.
The fix: Don't be influenced by family and friends. "Limit how many people are involved in making decisions over the guest list and other details," advises Reich. "This is an important moment in your child's life, so you want to be surrounded by people you know and love."
4. How will my one-year-old behave?
Your one-year-old may have reached a milestone, but he or she is still a baby who relies on naptime, feeding times and other scheduled activities, meaning he or she is not exactly the optimal party guest. Not knowing how their baby will react to the festivities can be a concern for many parents.
"It is important to keep your baby and his schedule in mind when planning the party, so that the event isn't scary or stressful for him," says Kothari.
The fix: Don't expect much from your one-year-old and be sure to plan the party around naptime so the baby you present at the party is well rested. Kothari also suggests limiting the party hours so as to not tire baby out.
"Also keep in mind how good he is with groups of people, some who he may not know," she warns. "This will help you organize a party that doesn't overwhelm you or your baby."
5. Taking on more than you can handle
When it comes to your child’s first birthday, the pressure to become Martha Stewart can lead to trying to do too much. The more you add to your plate, the more stressed out you’re going to feel.
"Parties are hard to plan as it is, but then you decide to throw in a theme or organize activities or plan entertainment and it's amazing how much more work gets added on," says Reich.
The fix: Know your limits and stick to them. "If you're not creative or don't enjoy crafts, don't make the party into a giant circus, and if you don't have enough time to do it right, don't do it at all," Reich advises.
It’s also important to remember your audience. "Your one-year-old will be thrilled with a simple cake in a box. There will be other big milestones and events, so save some of your energy," she says. You don’t need to stress about creating wow factor – keep the party simple.
6. The budget
Even a first birthday party can start to balloon where costs are concerned, especially when the invitation list starts to grow. Stress about the bottom line can set in right away and plague the entire party-planning process. "Too many people set a budget and then ignore it, causing tension and stress between partners," Reich warns.
The fix: It’s important to set the budget before party planning begins, advises Reich, and start a spreadsheet to stay on track. "Estimate what you think each component of the party will cost and stick to it. If you go under on something, that’s great, but no matter what stick to the spreadsheet," she says. The more in control of your spending you are, the less stressed you’ll feel.
Ultimately, the key to overcoming first birthday party planning stress is to relax. "This is about you more than the birthday child," says Kothari. "So make sure to have the party that feels right for you."
Buying a bra when you're a C cup or larger doesn't have to be a nightmare if you know what brands cater to your ample curves. Check out our list of the best bra brands for larger sizes in every price range.
Not only is Addition Elle the fashion go-to for fuller-figured women but it also offers a selection of sleek and seductive bras. The bra sizes start at 38C and go up to 44H in some styles. What better place to get a bra than a company that knows all about how to hug curves?
Addition Elle Flawless T-ser bra, $55, additionelle.com.
PrimaDonna has been designing bras for bigger busts since 1865—that’s more than 150 years of experience. The brand offers sizes ranging from B-cup to J-cup, with a collection that includes padded bras, underwire, pushups and minimizers. Not only do these bras provide amazing support but PrimaDonna also uses stunning designs and materials to make you feel sexy all the time.
Prima Donna "Madison" full cup bra, $145, melmira.com.
Wacoal boasts superior quality, easy wear and elegant aesthetics. Most bras are available up to a G-cup, and there’s a fantastic selection of styles. Wacoal has a diffusion line, too, for its younger clientele, called B.tempt’d, offering fun and colourful varieties. Wacoal is the parent company of Elomi and Fantasie, which are considered exceptional labels for women with a larger bust.
Wacoal "Awareness" soft cup bra, $82, nordstrom.com.
There’s no surprise that French designer Chantelle has some of the most beautiful patterns and shapes for bras. The brand creates an elegant collection of lingerie that lifts, separates and minimizes, depending on your needs. In any given season, Chantelle offers 165 styles exclusively for women with DD-cup breasts and above.
Chantelle "Hedona" bra, $95, lineaintima.com.
This company prides itself on being “experts in comfort,” and when it comes to wearing a bra all day, comfort is of utmost importance. With more than 100 years of experience, Glamorise has perfected the fit of bras for larger breasts. The brand is also credited for inventing the first-ever sports bra, back in 1975.
Glamorise Elegance satin and lace Wonderwire bra, $75, thebay.com.
In 1948, Simone Pérèle set out to liberate the female body from girdles and corsets by fusing comfort with chic designs. Most bras in the collection are available up to a G-cup and offer extra lift, thanks to vertical seams.
Simone Pérèle "Wish" full cup bra, $139, lineaintima.com.
Based out of Germany, Rosa Faia has a designated section for larger breasts. The brand has a collection of well-loved basics and fancier fashion bras, complete with smooth lace, that reach up to an H-cup. Rosa Faia guarantees comfort with an ergonomically shaped underwire that also aids in support.
Rosa Faia "Aurelia" seamless underwire bra, $92, anita.com.
Founded in Europe in the late 1800s, Triumph has had continued success developing comfortable and striking bras for women with varying breast sizes. Some of the brand’s cuts go up to an H-cup. In 2015, Triumph launched its “Find the One” campaign to help women find the right bra size. The company’s website hosts a questionnaire that will help you determine if you’re wearing the wrong size. Spoiler alert: You probably are.
Triumph "1860" smooth-skin underwire bra, $50, thebay.com.
One of your first bras was probably by WonderBra, and if you haven’t checked out the company since, it may be time to revisit the brand. WonderBra offers cup sizes up to a DDD and varying support levels, depending on the cut. There’s an outstanding selection of styles, ranging from simple to ornate, to fit your lifestyle and price point. Using innovative fabrics, the bras won’t scratch or poke you, either.
WonderBra "W4436" Breathable T-shirt Bra, $45, wonderbra.ca.
Aside from being an easy snack for the office, yogurt is chock full of ingredients that help your body run smoothly, no matter what age you are.
Although yogurt has long been a staple in the health food world, it has become even more popular thanks to Greek yogurt. Whether you eat it plain, low-fat, greek, frozen, from a tube or a bottle, or in your smoothies, yogurt has health benefits beyond good old calcium. Read on for the lowdown on its many health benefits.
1. The probiotics.
You know yogurt has probiotics because every commercial for yogurt says so, but what does that actually mean? In the simplest of terms, probiotics are good-for-you bacteria. They help in regulating your digestive system and decreasing gas, diarrhea and bloating. Research has even suggested that probiotics can aid in boosting your immune system, help you manage your weight and reduce the risk of cancer.
2. The calcium.
Just like all products in the dairy family, yogurt is a great source of calcium, which plays a huge role in the development and maintenance of strong bones and teeth. It is also important for blood clotting, healing wounds and maintaining a normal blood pressure. Some yogurts contain vitamin D, which helps the small intestine absorb calcium to its fullest potential, so finding those yogurts or pairing yogurt with foods high in vitamin D is always a good idea.
3. The protein.
Plain yogurt made from whole milk is a rich source of protein, which can increase the absorption of minerals, promote lower blood pressure and aid in weight loss.
4. The vitamins.
Yogurt made with whole milk contains every single nutrient the human body needs. Yogurt contains vitamin B12, which keeps your nerves and red blood cells healthy and can only be found in foods originating from an animal. Vitamin B2, or riboflavin, is also in yogurt. This helps the body convert carbohydrates into glucose, or 'food into fuel.'
Want to incorporate yogurt into your diet, but don't want to be stuck with buying processed, sugary yogurt cups? Check out Canadian Living's recipes:
Here are some scary truths: 70 percent of new Alzheimer's patients in Canada will be women, and we're diagnosed with depression and dementia at twice the rate of men. But new research says there are three simple lifestyle changes we can make right now to keep our brains healthy as we age.
You brush your teeth to prevent tooth decay and check your blood pressure to monitor for signs of heart problems. But are you doing anything to keep your brain in tip-top shape? Because you should be. Brain health, which experts define as a combination of cognitive (memory, attention, thinking) and mental (emotional well-being) fitness, is a major, albeit under-the- radar, health issue for Canadian women.
It's major because as we age, so do our brains. Vascular changes can decrease blood flow; we can lose volume in key areas, including the hippocampus and the prefrontal cortex, the regions responsible for learning and memory. Myelin, a fatty material that makes up the protective coating around nerve fibres, starts to deteriorate, causing the brain to slow down. And nerve cells can develop plaques and tangles— structures caused by the buildup of proteins called beta-amyloids that can disrupt the brain's normal function. In some people, these and other signs of normal aging can cause mental health problems, strokes and brain disorders such as dementia and Alzheimer's, and increase the risk of diseases such as multiple sclerosis.
Brain health is an under-the-radar issue because, though women are more likely to experience cognitive decline (thanks to dementia or Alzheimer's) and to suffer from depression, most of the research on these conditions still focuses on men.
Thankfully, studies are showing that straightforward lifestyle changes—exercising regularly and not smoking are at the top of the list—help shore up what researchers call "cognitive reserve," a buffer that "delays the changes or makes your body better equipped to handle those changes," says Lauren Drogos, a brain researcher at the University of Calgary.
In fact, Drogos says there's evidence to show that, in some people, even serious symptoms do not necessarily develop into cognitive impairment. She points to the Nun Study, a famous long-running research project on aging and Alzheimer's that has been tracking 678 nuns from convents across the United States since the mid-1980s. One of the nuns, Sister Mary, died at the age of 101 showing no outward signs of cognitive decline—but when researchers examined her brain, they were shocked to find she had "abundant neurofibrillary tangles and senile plaques, the classic lesions of Alzheimer's disease." Scientists don't know exactly why some people can have severe symptoms, such as plaques and tangles, without experiencing cognitive decline, but, happily, cases like Sister Mary do show that dementia isn't an inevitable part of aging.
And since women are more likely than men to be diagnosed with many of these problems, the more we consider brain health when making our day-to-day lifestyle decisions, the better. (Bonus: These changes also benefit your heart and help prevent other diseases, including Type 2 diabetes and cancer.) So here's what you can do to take care of your brain.
This is your brain on exercise If you had to pick just one lifestyle change to make in the name of brain health, experts agree exercise tops the list—especially for women.
We consider neuroplasticity, the brain's capacity to form new neural connections, an exciting part of a child's development, but we now know our brains can continue to grow, repair and improve as adults, too. Physical activity is a well-researched trigger. Not only can working out bolster our day-to-day functioning and alertness but it also appears to help us repair brain damage. Plus, it slows down aging and the onset of age-related brain diseases.
Working up a sweat and pumping up your heart rate can lead to a healthier vascular system in the brain, which decreases blood pressure and oxidative stress (when your body's antioxidants can't fight off free radicals), and increases antioxidant activity, according to Marc Poulin, an Alzheimer's researcher and professor of physiology at the University of Calgary. Vigorous exercise also floods the bloodstream with a protein called brain-derived neurotrophic factor, which readies the body for repair and heightens the brain's ability to learn and form new memories. Plus, hitting the gym helps the brain repair myelin; a lack of the nerve fibre–protecting substance is a factor in developing multiple sclerosis.
Exercising can also restore crucial brain volume. Research has shown that the hippocampus— home to memory, learning and emotion—starts shrinking after age 55 by about one to two percent a year, but just one year of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise done three days a week can increase its size by two percent.
And while most of the research is about the benefits of getting in your cardio, Dr. Teresa Liu-Ambrose, an associate professor and Canada research chair at The University of British Columbia and the Vancouver Coastal Health Research Institute, says strength training is also effective, as it can enhance brain performance and function by 11 to 17 percent. "Women live longer [than men], and age itself is the greatest risk factor for dementia," she says. "But the good news is when we look at the benefit of aerobic exercise on cognition in older adults, women seem to benefit more."
The takeaway: You can reap the rewards from even a 15-minute walk. Of course, the longer you exercise, the better, especially if you get your sweat on and your heart rate up. If you want to tick a few other brain health tips off your list, consider joining a team sport. It blends physical, social and cognitive skills, and "can also add pleasure and meaning to our lives," says Dr. Nasreen Khatri, a registered clinical psychologist, gerontologist and neuroscientist at the Rotman Research Institute at Baycrest Health Sciences in Toronto.
If you have an office job and find you're sedentary most of the day, take a few minutes every hour or so to get up and move around. Research also suggests switching to a standup desk may improve your brain function.
Did you know? Taking care of a loved one—most often a spouse in your later years—can be a risk factor for developing depression and, eventually, dementia . But research out of the Rotman Research Institute at Baycrest Health Sciences in Toronto found, for the first time, that cognitive behavioural therapy, a form of talk therapy, can improve both mood and cognition.
This is your brain on sleep After a good night's sleep, you feel alert and ready to tackle the day. But that's not just because your brain has been resting. It has also been busy filing away memories and taking out the trash, so to speak, thanks to the glymphatic system, which washes the brain of waste materials. For example, a protein called betaamyloid, which is known to play a role in the development of Alzheimer's, acts as a neurotoxin when it builds up, killing neural cells in the brain. But a good sleep removes excess beta-amyloid and other waste materials, says Dr. Liu-Ambrose.
Because one of the common symptoms of Alzheimer's is disrupted sleep, it's unclear whether a lack of shut-eye should be considered part of the progression of the disease or a risk factor on its own, due to the buildup of beta-amyloids.
Nevertheless, poor sleep hastens your brain's aging process—much like sitting in the sun sans SPF speeds up your skin's aging process. And disturbed sleeping has been linked to all aspects of brain health, including an increased risk of depression and a decline in cognitive functions such as memory and reasoning. In one U.K. study out of University College London Medical School, middle-aged women who reported a drop in the average number of hours they slept had lower scores on cognitive tests involving reasoning and vocabulary.
What's more, our central clocks—a.k.a. our circadian rhythms—can drift from the patterns of our childhood, making it hard to get that much-needed rest. "As we age, our central clock is less sensitive to stimuli like light, food and physical activity," says Dr. Liu-Ambrose; this change makes it harder to fall, and stay, asleep. We can also become more vulnerable to stress and anxiety, which further disrupt those rhythms.
One way to combat these fluctuations is to try what seasoned travellers do for jet-lag recovery: Get exposure to real daylight and eat your meals on time to nudge your brain into a routine. And don't use bright screens at night, especially before bed, because they mimic sunlight and tell our circadian system that it's day, not night—and, therefore, not time to sleep. Those who need more help might consider light therapies that have been developed to treat seasonal affective disorder, says Dr. Liu-Ambrose.
The takeaway: Many researchers consider six to eight hours of sleep a night to be the standard sweet spot, though this can vary by individual. If you're routinely getting less than that and waking often in the night, not feeling refreshed in the morning and experiencing bouts of sleepiness during the day, talk to your doctor about sleep strategies—especially if you're experiencing anxiety or depression. In the short term, napping can reverse some of the effects of poor sleep, including memory loss and increased stress. And you only need a 30-minute catnap to feel the results.
This is your brain on a healthy diet There's no perfect "brain food," but eating a nutritious diet (lots of veggies and fruit, lean meat, fish and healthy fats) is the smartest way to maintain long-term brain function and memory, and to slow the development of brain diseases.
Getting enough of specific nutrients like omega-3 fatty acids is important but not the holy grail. University of Pittsburgh researchers recently found that people who eat broiled or baked fish at least once a week have larger brain volumes in the areas used for memory and cognition, despite varying levels of omega-3 in the fish they ate. Senior researcher James Becker concluded that he and his colleagues were "tapping into a more general set of lifestyle factors that were affecting brain health, of which diet is just one part."
In a 2015 study from Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, researchers looked at the broad set of eating habits of more than 900 people over 4 1/2 years and found that those who adhered to a diet high in fish, vegetables, nuts and berries, and low in fat and sugar, slowed down their brains' aging by about 7 1/2 years when compared to those with less-healthy diets. The healthy eaters cut their risk of Alzheimer's by up to 53 percent. And even when those people only adhered to the diet part time, they saw some benefits— an effect that has not been found in other diets, says Drogos.
The researchers dubbed the most promising cluster of these eating habits the MIND (Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay) diet, which blends the longevity-boosting Mediterranean diet and the heart-healthy low-fat DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet that doctors recommend to patients at risk of high blood pressure and heart disease. More studies need to be done on why it works, but in the meantime, there's no downside to eating healthier and ditching the junk.
The takeaway: Add more veggies to your diet. Research shows that older adults who report eating more of this food group perform better in mentally stimulating activities than those who don't.
Did you know? "Menopause brain" is a real thing. As with "pregnancy brain," its more famous counterpart, women approaching menopause really do experience memory problems and brain fog. Researchers think a drop in estrogen levels might be the cause.
Can you train your brain? Does firing up a brain-training app actually help improve your memory and ward off dementia? Sorry to disappoint, but right now, evidence for the benefits of computer-based brain games is weak, says Dr. Teresa Liu-Ambrose, an associate professor and Canada research chair at The University of British Columbia and the Vancouver Coastal HealthResearch Institute. Brain games appear to help you learn to play them better, but research doesn't show that those tasks transfer to other aspects of brain performance. The same goes for crossword puzzles and sudoku, which help your vocabulary and math skills, but nothing more.
How to maintain your mental edge at any age
In your 30s: This is the time to make sure you establish healthy habits—such as getting plenty of exercise and sleep, and eating a good diet—that will affect your brain health throughout your adult years. "When it comes to maintaining brain health, the best time to start is yesterday," says Dr. Nasreen Khatri, a registered clinical psychologist, gerontologist and neuroscientist at the Rotman Research Institute at Baycrest Health Sciences in Toronto. If you feel you need a boost at work, consider old-fashioned writing instead of typing on your computer. A study in the journal Psychological Science found that university students who made handwritten notes were better equipped to recall conceptual ideas from their professors' lectures than those who had typed notes on their laptops.
In your 40s and 50s: People in this age group are part of the "sandwich generation," and often face caring for their aging parents on top of dealing with their other work, financial and parenting obligations. So, unsurprisingly, they're super stressed—and this can affect both mental health and day-to-day brain function. Dr. Khatri says it's essential to prioritize and edit out activities and commitments that increase stress without adding value to your productivity or happiness. That's because "maintaining mental health in early and mid life is key to safeguarding cognitive health later on," she says. "Untreated depression in midlife doubles your risk of developing dementia in later life."
In your 60s and beyond: In your senior years, socializing with friends and family, and picking up activities that allow you to connect, such as volunteering, are key to maintaining brain health. And sorry, keeping up with folks on Facebook isn't enough. "Ask yourself: Is social media rounding out my real-life social experiences?" suggests Dr. Khatri. What you need is face-to-face interaction.
With the growing trend of love blending with technology, there are a variety of online dating sites with mobile apps that are helping connect more people. Whether you're looking for a casual encounter or something more serious, there’s a dating app to suit almost every need. Here are seven top dating apps for you to consider.
1. OkCupid (free for both iPhone and Android devices) This popular online dating site also has a location-based mobile app that allows you to take your experience on the go. Users can sign in via Facebook or directly through the app to find local singles. The app allows you to watch the activity stream for potential matches, "favourite" a profile and rate your potential matches through the Quick Match feature. With over five million registered users since 2010, you never know whom you might find.
2. Match (available on iPhone, Android and Blackberry devices) Match.com, a pioneer dating website that launched in 1995, has users based in 24 countries around the world. People can sign up through Match.com and then download the app on their mobile devices. The app allows members to view profiles, upload up to 24 images, add users to their "Favourites" and rate their "Daily Matches." Subscriptions range anywhere from a month to a year. Pick one that suits you best.
3. eHarmony (available for iPhone and Android devices) This popular online dating site launched in 2000. Its claim to fame? Over one million people who used eHarmony went on to find lifelong partnerships. Users can sign up via the app, complete a relationship questionnaire, upload photos from their mobile phones or from Facebook, and receive daily matches—all free of charge. Paid subscribers get access to email and can also see who has viewed their profiles. It's the perfect app for those of all ages who are looking for long-term commitments. 4. Badoo (free for both iPhone and Android devices) With a community of more than 208 million users, Badoo is perfect for those looking to socialize and meet new people. The free basic service allows users to chat with and message other members, and upload photos and videos. Members can sign in with a Badoo or Facebook account via the mobile app or website to connect with locals who share common interests. The app also features a fun game called Encounters, which allows users to view potential matches and then tap "yes" or "no" to indicate whether or not they would like to meet. If you're not looking to date, Badoo is also a great app for social networking and friendship.
5. Plenty of Fish (free for both iPhone and Android devices) Plenty of Fish (POF) allows users to find potential dates and perhaps even their soul mates for free! It does have paid services as well, but users don't really need to upgrade; most of the best features such as Meet Me, which allows members to flirt with locals in their areas, are free of charge. This app allows users to search for singles using filters such as education, height, religious affiliations and body type. Another cool feature is Date Night, which tells other singles in your area that you're available for a date.
6. Zoosk (free for both iPhone and Android devices) Zoosk is one of the top mobile dating apps for iPhone users and is one of the Top 10 grossing social networking apps in the iTunes store. This app is available for free and also has a paid subscription option that allows you to access more features. If you’d rather not pay, you can still browse millions of singles, create a profile, upload photos, see who has viewed your profile, and scan and show interest in another member by using the Carousel feature.
7. Tinder (free for both iPhone and Android devices) Tinder has quickly become the go-to dating app for young adults. And the best part? The app is completely free and works on the premise of anonymity. Users, who need a Facebook account to create a profile, can upload up to six profile photos and scroll through recommended matches from your area. If you don't like what you see, you can anonymously "like" or "pass" on the person. But it isn't just for the younger demographic: Tinder reports that 31 percent of its users are aged between 25 and 34, making it a great app for anyone looking to casually date or form potentially long-term relationships.