It's not easy for Mom to look genuinely delighted when Dad and the kids, full of smiles and secrets, hand her -- for the fourth year in a row -- the infamous Mother's Day box of chocolates, along with lots of promises ("Mom, you'll be queen for the day! By the way, what's for breakfast?"). Though she tries hard, her best efforts at saying "It's just what I wanted" are getting less emphatic as the years go by.
But it's true: Moms can be very hard to buy for. So what's a dad or kid supposed to do? We have a few ideas on what Mom really wants, and how to give her a day she will not soon forget!
Plan Ahead This is an occasion that should focus on Mom and make her feel really special -- like the sun rises and sets on her! Try to think of what she has mentioned throughout the year. You should be making notes of these subtle comments months ahead, so keep a running list.
Set up a memo on your smartphone or leave a pad of paper in a drawer and add items or thoughts to the list as they come up. If you hear her mention her love of tulips, don't bring home carnations. Can't afford a florist's bouquet? Make your own with inspiration from these four simple floral arrangements.
Pamper Her, Please If there is any special time in Mom's life to show her your appreciation, this is it. A manicure, pedicure, facial or any other activity in which she can relax without a care in the world would be perfect for this day.
Imagine how happy Mom will be after all that time spent on herself.
Let Her Relax If Mom's not into a spa treatment (or if she's already treated herself), give her some time alone. Pick up a couple of her favourite DVDs, a stack of magazines she loves or a new book release -- and let her have a few hours of real me time. If you really want to give her a break, pack up the kids and visit the grandparents or friends for a few hours and let her have the house to herself.
Page 1 of 2 -- Check out more helpful tips and advice to show Mom just how much you adore her on page 2 Give what she wants Mother's Day is the time to show your mom you understand and appreciate her. So tailor your gift around what she likes -- or dislikes. If she likes to shop, buy her a gift certificate for her favourite store. If she hates weeding the garden, surprise her by doing the chore for her.
Think outside the family Don't forget all the other moms you know, especially those without partners. Send those moms you love cards or call them and wish them a happy Mother's Day.
If you can, take a mom's kids off her hands for a few hours. Better yet, if you have the means to hire a babysitter and treat her to lunch, an afternoon walk or a latte, you'll probably make her day.
A girl's gotta eat Get to the woman of the hour in time for dinner -- Mom doesn't need to be chef and dishwasher on her special day. Make reservations, order her favourite takeout meal or pick up groceries and cook a nice dinner for her at home.
Our experts answer reader questions about dropping the last 10 pounds—or more.
Question: I've heard that lifting weights helps the body burn calories even when you're not active. True or false? — Reiko
Answer: That's true. A lot of women prioritize cardio because they want to lose fat, but that burns calories only while you're exercising; as soon as you stop, you're no longer burning as much. Instead, lifting weights revs up your metabolism, so you'll continue burning calories for a few hours after your workout. And don't worry about bulking up; women don't have enough testosterone for that. But you will get leaner!
— Trudie German, certified personal trainer and owner of bodyenvy.ca, Toronto
Question: Is it possible I'm meant to be this big? I've been about the same size all my adult life, give or take a dress size. My mom and my sister are both size 14, and so were my grandmas. Maybe it's genetics? — Anne
Answer: Your genes do play a role, but it's more important to remember that size isn't really a good measure of health. If you're active, feeling good and sleeping and eating well, you probably don't have to worry. According to the World Health Organization, obesity is defined as "abnormal or excessive fat accumulation that may impair health." Of course, as you get heavier, there's a greater likelihood your health could be negatively impacted. But it's impossible for me to tell just by having you step on a scale; I have to do all sorts of tests to see if your weight really is affecting your health.
Question: I'm injured and I can't work out. Is it still possible to lose weight? (Even if I'm eating my feelings about not being able to exercise?) — Katie
Answer: It's certainly possible! In fact, what you eat has more of an impact on your weight than exercise. You won't be able to work off extra calories, so be particularly mindful of other factors that influence weight, too, by getting enough sleep, finding ways to manage stress and choosing healthy whole foods in appropriate portions. And try these tricks: Serve vegetables family-style so they're within easy reach, but keep richer foods on the stovetop; use a smaller plate; and focus on your food—you're more likely to overindulge if you're distracted, so try not to eat in front of the TV, in the car or at your desk at work. Lastly, don't deny your hunger; eventually, it will backfire and you'll find yourself overeating or grabbing a convenient but unhealthy snack. People often think they have to cut back on food if they're going to lose weight, but I counsel my clients to eat more during the day. The idea isn't to willpower your way to weight loss; it's to make sustainable changes.
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.
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.
Bold and beautiful browspiration (we’re coining it) from the stars.
After years of plucking them to obscurity, all-natural brows are back and they’re kind of a big deal. If eyes are the windows to your soul, then eyebrows are the framework to your face–structured, well-suited brows have the power to alter your entire look and make you look younger. Ranging from dark and bushy, to immaculately groomed we selected our favourite celebrity eyebrows that have us sprinting to our brow technician with some fresh brow inspiration.
Portman has had a strong brow game since she was a child actor, but what she does differently than most is that she opts for a straighter across brow. It’s not just about thickness and colour, which is of course on point, but it’s the length. To get a similar look rather than focusing on creating arches use your pencil to extend the brows towards the outer corners on each side.
If you have the right tools and the know-how, you can create almost any eyebrow shape. Benefit Cosmetics's Jared Bailey and Maddox Lu reveal their tips and tricks for mastering the most iconic eyebrow looks.