Category: health and fitness

Connecting with Your Teen on Suicide, Depression and Stress Through Television


The teenage years are exciting, scary, unsure, full of changes and can be so hard to navigate – not only for teens but their parents too. Teens are given more freedom but at the same time treated as children. They are expected to make decisions about their future younger and younger each passing year. They have school, peer, work and family pressures just like adults do but without the freedom and experience to make difficult decisions. Connecting with your teen can be an even harder job for parents! We may be out of touch with the reality that teens face or even the changing social scene. We may not know how to start the conversations or even what is important to talk about.

As my son enters into his teen years, I am reminded of my own teen years. They were full of both ups and downs marked by my own depression and anxiety. High school was full of rumours, fights, parties, the importance of getting good grades, getting into university and stress (lots and lots of stress!). I remember the constant pressure to give and be at 100% all the time but still trying to fit in with your peers and give off the appearance of not caring. I worry for my son as he enters his teen years, I want him to know that I am there for him no matter what and that he can and should reach out to those who love him when he needs help.

But how do we connect with our teen about the tough topics, like suicide, depression, stress and bullying? One of the best ways we as parents can understand what teens are facing is watching television series that resonate with them (there is a reason these shows mean so much to them!). Teens want to talk to their parents but can find it hard, finding a common ground like television series can really help open up the tough conversations.

Connect with Your Teen on Suicide, Depression, Stress and Bullying Through Television Shows

Recently, 13 Reasons Why on Netflix has come under fire from critics claiming it glorifies suicide. The resulting comments and debates hurt me personally as I struggled with depression in high school and there were times where it felt like I needed a way out and that may possibly be the only way out. High school is hard, rumours hurt, bullying hurts and for some when this is combined with mental health conditions like anxiety and depression, suicide can be the only way out to stop all the pain that they are feeling. It is not glorifying suicide, it is laying out the steps that lead to suicide. No one wants this way out, no one wants to feel alone and no one wants to hurt the people they love the most. I feel as though my brain works differently when I am depressed and suffering through increased anxiety. Even little things bother me in ways they would never have before.

Before I let my son watch the show with me, I had to watch it alone. I wanted to see what the hype was about and if it could really help build an understanding and become a starting point for the tough conversations. I was blown away by the first episode and kept watching late into the night. It was raw and honest. It showed how the start of one rumour and the sending of an inappropriate (not to mention out of context) picture started the downwards spiral of one young girl. Teens have access to technology that as parents we never had access to, they just sometimes don’t understand the implications of this technology as we see so many times throughout this series. I didn’t have access to this technology but my son does. We all feel our child will be responsible but this series shows, they not always are and they make mistakes. It helps teens understand the consequences of these mistakes and how it hurts others.

There were so many important lessons in this series for teens from bullying to not standing up for a friend and changing relationships. The honest and raw emotions spoke to me personally. Life in high school isn’t always happy and full of sunshine. Teenagers feel the same pain adults do but have less skills and opportunities to help them through it. Television series like this help teens realize how actions and words can hurt and how quickly situations can spiral out of control. It is also a great tool to use for parents to help our teens understand that we are there for them and want to help them. Kids and parents want to talk, we just need to learn how and have a starting point.

13 Reasons Why is my number one pick for parents to help understand their children and to have a great conversation with their teen about. Here are some more great picks from Netflix that will really help you get the conversation started with your teen:

Connecting With Your Teen on Suicide, Depression, Bullying and Stress with Television


If you’re thinking of watching 13 Reasons Why with your teen and are looking for additional information, here are some resources to help navigate the conversation: 13 Reasons Why Talking Points (created by and the JED Foundation) and the after-show titled 13 Reasons Why: Beyond The Reasons. If you are immediately concerned about a teen in your life, you can find a list of local market resources on this 13 Reasons Why Global Resource Website.

How do you connect with your teen on these difficult topics?

Disclosure: I am a Netflix #StreamTeam member and receive perks associated with this affilitation. All opinions expressed are my own.

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My 100 Pound Weight Loss Journey: Healthy Food At Its Core

My 100 Pound Weight Loss Journey: Healthy Food at It's Core

On April 27th of last year, I decided my life needed to change. I was obese, unhealthy, had high blood pressure and my mental health was suffering for this. I knew that I needed to make a change and I had to make it quickly. But where to start? For me this was simple: my diet.

My 100 Pound Weight Loss Journey

The pictures above were taken roughly nine months apart from each other. When I took the one on the left I was just about to participate in the Race Around the Bay with my sister. Looking back at it now, I am still in shock at that picture – I never realized how big I was. I knew I fell in the obese category but I still thought I was okay. Mentally, I did not see that girl in the picture. But my weight was affecting other aspects of my life: playing with my kids, going on rides with my family, am I going to fit in that chair and the constant worrying about whether my clothes would fit.

When I started my weight loss journey, the first and most important aspect of my life that I changed was my diet. When people ask me even today how I did it, I always tell them that diet was the number one contributor to my weight loss. Now when I say diet, I don’t mean that I followed a fad diet – I mean that I ate smarter, made myself accountable and stopped beating myself up for poor choices. After coming across the Dietprobe site, I realised I needed to substitute unhealthy choices for healthier choices and learned more about nutrition. While I knew the basics, I was by far no expert and meeting with several dietitians really helped me to examine the choices I was making and how to make better choices.

My 100 Pound Weight Loss Journey: Healthy Food at It's Core

The top changes that I made in my life were:

  • I set myself a calorie and nutrient goal in My Fitness Pal on my phone and stuck with recording my daily intake every day. I record every item of food I eat – it is incredible how quickly calories add up when you start paying attention to what you eat and what your body really needs. I also included nutrient goals for carbohydrates, protein and fats. Your body needs a balanced diet and it is so important that you are giving your body the fuel it needs.
  • Food is fuel! Your body needs all the good food it can get so make each bite count. Cut out all processed foods and sugar. This included all white grains, juices, pop and caffeine (I now drink decaf coffee every day). I never cut out carbohydrates (and I think this is a very bad idea) but I made better choices by using whole grains and quinoa.
  • I drink a lot more water now. My water bottle is always by my side and you can use water enhancers or lemons to sweeten the taste of the water.
  • For personal reasons, when I started my journey I was a vegetarian. Because of my iron levels dropping I had to re-introduce meat back into my diet in the form of beef. I still don’t eat chicken, pork or fish for personal reasons. Protein is very important in your diet and you need to ensure you are eating enough whether it be vegetarian or not.

The  most difficult times during this journey was eating out. You are still going to want to go out with your friends to restaurants, buy take out or order in. The trick is to make healthier decisions in where you go and what you purchase.

My 100 Pound Weight Loss Journey: Healthy Food At It's Core

The Chopped Leaf is an excellent option for dining in, ordering in and take out. They offer high quality nutritional food that leaves you feeling full and good (not that bloated, I am going to regret this when I enter it in my calorie counter and in the morning feeling). They pride themselves on offering their customers high quality, fresh ingredients. They offer a wide range of products from whole bowls, salads, soups and they even have a kids menu. My personal favourite is the whole bowl number two which comes with spinach, chickpeas, roasted pecans, sun-dried cranberries, carrots, cucumbers, goddess sauce and warm basmati rice. The bowl was divine, a delicious blend of sweet with the cranberries and crunchy with the vegetables. The goddess sauce, I can’t even begin to explain how delicious that was. The bowl was the perfect size for lunch or dinner and filled me right up. The service was friendly, quick and brought right over to our table.

My 100 Pound Weight Loss Journey: Healthy Food At Its Core

To introduce you to their fabulous line of nutritious and clean food, The Chopped Leaf is offering you a free chef inspired salad! Just download the coupon here and head into the Dundas and Appleby store before March 31st, 2017 for some delicious (and free) chef inspired tastiness. Even if you are on a weight loss journey like mine, you don’t have to sacrifice eating out when you can have nutritional, delicious food found at The Chopped Leaf.

My 100 Pound Weight Loss: Healthy Eating at Its Core

Make sure to follow them on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to get inspired to make healthier choices and life a healthy lifestyle (not to mention the amazing photos that will leave you hungry!).

How has changing your diet affected your life? What do you look for when choosing restaurants to dine in or take out from?

Disclosure: I was compensated for this post. All opinions expressed are my own.

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Keeping On Top of Constipation During the Festive Season #OwnTheThrone

Fall is my favourite time of the year, from the colours to the return of hearty stews and soups to warm drinks on the porch watching the kids capture the last hours of sunlight…and even to the beginning of the crazy holiday party season. There is so much to celebrate and be thankful for!! The only pitfall of the cooler weather is that sometimes we aren’t staying as active as we were in the summer (who wants to get out of bed early in this cooler weather or when it’s still dark outside??) and the holiday season itself brings with it a new set of stomach struggles if we tend to indulge in too many sweets and drinks.

Keeping On Top of Constipationon

I am sure many of you can relate to or even suffer from digestive issues over the fall and winter season. It usually kicks off at Thanksgiving dinner where we tend to indulge far too much and trust me I get it. Our family is Italian-Canadian and holiday dinners are usually overboard with turkey, chicken, pastas, potatoes, vegetables and far too many sweets and cakes. It can be so hard to resist at times. For me it is my Father’s cooking that does me in every year – I will devour any and all of his food in sight regardless of whether I am hungry or not (I miss his cooking so much!). After Thanksgiving is over, then the holiday season really starts warming up and before you know it you are indulging far too much and not being as active at the gym and outdoors. Some of us are more prone to digestive issues and constipation and for other individuals stomach problems can begin without them even noticing – especially when we are really busy just getting through day-to- day life.

Keeping On Top of Constipation #OwnTheThrone

Hopefully you recognize the signs of constipation before the pain and discomfort become severe – look for signs your bowel movements are not as regular as they usually are, or are more painful. It is so important to pay attention to your body and bowel movements and I can’t stress this enough. Recognize the signals your body is giving you and when you need to – reach out for help. I know that for many of us, we don’t like to talk about constipation and bowel movements and this may be embarrassing to discuss with your friends or spouse, but at the end of the day it’s just poop! As many as one in four Canadians are suffering from symptoms of constipation, so talking to a friend or spouse for advice can be really helpful. They will know exactly what you are going through and can give you some of their own tips and tricks to help deal with constipation when it happens and hopefully prevent it from happening again.

In the last year, I have noticed that my body responds differently to certain foods and I found myself suffering from constipation after surgery a couple of months ago. To be fair, I was warned that the medications could cause constipation but I never really listened to the side effects when the pharmacist dispensed them to me (I’ve never had constipation problems before so I thought why would I now?). But sure enough, it happened to me and I ignored the signs for three days until I was in severe pain. For me these tricks helped me immensely:

  • Increase your fibre intake in your meals. I started to record my food in My Fitness Pal and found that I was not reaching my 25gms of fibre goal daily. I had to increase my intake of vegetables, healthy grains and fruits to ensure I was reaching this goal. Recording my food was key to knowing what I was eating as it can be easy to lie to yourself when mentally recording food.
  • Increase your water intake – this is so important! Aim for at least eight to ten glasses of water a day. If you are not a fan of plain water, add some lemon, frozen fruit or water enhancers.
  • Make sure you get in 30 minutes of physical activity a day, whether you walk after work around the block, walk on your lunch breaks or go to a gym. It can be hard to get motivated to get moving outside in the cooler weather but it is so important for your physical and mental wellbeing, so make sure you take this time out just for you.

Sometimes even when following all of these tips, you can still find yourself suffering from constipation symptoms. The pain can get really bad quickly, so make sure you seek out relief sooner rather than later. Dulcolax, a gentle overnight laxative, will help get your bowels moving during the night and give you some much needed relief in the morning. You take one to two tablets before bed and they begin to work in six to twelve hours. The tablets work overnight to soften your stools, allowing your bowels to move easier in the morning. Which is a great relief from the pain that I know many of you may have experienced when suffering from constipation.

Constipation is never fun to deal with, but it is so important to know that you are not alone and so many others have struggled through the same symptoms. While it is important to ensure your diet is high in fibre, that you are consuming enough water and keeping active, you should always have a back- up plan in mind in case constipation does occur. Taking Dulcolax will help you #OwnTheThrone. To find out more information and to keep up to date with all the latest news, check out Dulcolax’s website.

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post, all opinions expressed are my own.

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Protecting My Sons For the Future Against the HPV Virus

Protecting Our Sons Future Against the HPV Virus

There have been several distinct moments in my life that have changed me as a person as well as helped to strengthen and define my personal beliefs. The one moment in my life that has defined me as a person the strongest was the moment that I became a Mother. On both of these occasions, I can still remember the intense feelings, the labour pain and that incredible moment when I first heard the cries of my boys. Hard to believe that such a strong and loud cry can be the most beautiful sound you can ever hear as a parent! The moment that my boys were placed into my arms for skin to skin contact, the pure love and protection that I felt for them was immense and almost impossible to describe. I knew in those special moments that I would do absolutely anything in my power to keep them safe and strong for the rest of my life.

Protecting My Sons For the Future Against the HPV Virus

These two moments have worked to strengthen my health care beliefs about vaccinations. I have always strongly supported vaccination, as it protects and prevents so many diseases that can be life threatening but the birth of my children reinforced this belief. Working every day in Family Medicine exposes me to a variety of beliefs, concerns and fears about vaccinations from other parents and expecting couples. Our clinic works hard to educate and assist parents in their health care decisions, using everything from information handouts to open discussions with members of their health care team. Every question is important and valid, especially as parents navigate their child through the immunization process (which doesn’t end as soon as children enter kindergarten as your child will be due for additional immunizations in Grade Seven). I find talking to my own physician and the residents at our clinic always helpful when I need to make a decision about my boys’ health care concerns and vaccinations. Seeking out the advice of educated individuals who want the best for my boys has always been my number one source to turn to when I am confused or need reassurance that I am making the best possible decision for my boys.

Last week my son came home from school with paperwork from Public Health with the three vaccines that he will be receiving this year in Grade Seven at his school. This included the HPV vaccine! As a parent, I was ecstatic that my son was being given the chance to receive this vaccine. As many of you are probably already aware, the HPV vaccine was previously only offered to girls in Grade Eight. This fall will mark the first year that boys in Ontario will be offered the HPV vaccine, additionally the age that the vaccine is being offered to Ontario students is being lowered from female students in Grade Eight to both male and female students in Grade Seven (girls that just entered into Grade Eight this year will still be eligible to receive the vaccination – no worries there for parents of girls in Grade Eight!). Ontario students will now be in line with all other provinces in Canada following the best practical evidence for the administration of the HPV vaccine. What an amazing time for parents and students alike in Ontario!

So what is all the fuss about the HPV vaccine?

The HPV virus is extremely common and is spread through sexual skin to skin contact with an infected person. Some types of this HPV virus can lead to cervical, vulvar, vaginal, penile and anal cancers, while other types can lead to genital warts – all of which is quite frightening not only as a patient but for the child’s parent. This virus is so common, that as many as three out of four sexually active Canadians carry this virus! While for many years the focus has been on females (as many of you have been exposed to the various advertisements both on television and in print) and the importance of the vaccine for protection against this virus for females, males have generally been left out of this equation. They are a very important part of this equation as they are capable of spreading this infection through sexual activity between partners, sometimes without even knowing as symptoms are not always present.

As a parent to two boys, I felt relief and excitement over this announcement (I was far too old for this vaccine when it was introduced to the public and a huge part of me had wished that I had been eligible to have received it) and I know my husband was as well, he even questioned whether he could receive the vaccine. While my boys are not of age to be sexually active, it is so important to educate and protect them long before they become sexually active – education goes a long way when it comes to sexual health! We had an important conversation with our son on the same night that he came home from school with the information pamphlets all about the HPV virus, the HPV vaccine and what it protects him from and what it can help to prevent in the long term. While some of the information may need to be shared again with him as the date of his vaccination comes closer, I know we took an important first step in educating him and protecting him by filling out our consent for his vaccination.

The HPV virus, while common, can have a huge impact on your child’s life. Educating both yourself and your child on this vaccine is so important as you make the decision together to vaccinate your child this year. For my husband and I, making the decision to vaccinate our son against the HPV virus was easy and we jumped at this opportunity to protect our son and his future health. If you are struggling with this decision, I strongly encourage you to visit Ontario’s Ministry of Health website  which has information specific to parents as well as booking an appointment to discuss your concerns with your family physician. You can also follow the Ontario Ministry of Health on Twitter and Facebook  to get up to date information and news.

Disclosure: This post was developed in association with the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care. The opinions of the author are their own.

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Get Summer Ready Skin with Ureadin


Dry, cracked and itchy skin. Maybe feet that sound like sand paper rubbing against the floor when you rub your foot against a surface.  Does any of this sound familiar to you?

Our entire family suffers with dry and itchy skin, myself being the worst. Over the years we have dealt with eczema, psoriasis on the arms and general dry, scaly skin on our legs from swimming. For myself, if it is not dry, red and blistering skin on my arms then it is cracked, rough feet (my family teases me saying that my feet literally sound like sand paper polishing the floor – brutal right?). I am extremely hard on my feet, I am on them all day at work and I love walking around barefoot especially during the summer months and this really shows in my feet. The dryness can quickly get out of hand as you can see below:

Get Summer Ready Skin with Ureadin

Disgusting right? A part of me cringes when looking at this picture and an even greater part of me can’t believe I showed this to you! Honestly the dry, scaly and flakes happen so quickly it is unbelievable. I have to keep a strict foot care routine in place in order to stop and prevent this from happening.

So how do I reverse my feet (and stop this from happening) from looking like this and prevent the all over dry skin in the summer?

Read on to get summer ready, fresh skin and feet. You can follow these simple steps to get ready for summer:

Skip the hot showers! Instead shower every other day in a cool to warm shower as the hot water will actually strip your skin of oils and make it drier. Baths tend to have the same effect as hot showers, so try to avoid them when your skin is very dry. Before I hop in the shower, I also like to gently dry brush my skin with a loofah, it helps to wake up my skin and remove any dry, loose skin before I hop in. I like to work in circular motions from distal regions to closer to the centre of my body (so hands to shoulders, feet to tops of thighs).

Get Summer Ready Skin with Ureadin

After you hop out of the shower, pat dry your skin (never scrub dry) and while it is still moist you should use your moisturizer to help lock in the moisture. You need to be careful when choosing a moisturizer because not all are made the same and some can actually make your skin drier. For us, using the Ureadin Lotion 10 was an obvious choice. The lotion contains Urea Isdin and Dexpanthenol, both of which work together to retain moisture in your skin. Even my husband noticed the huge difference in his own skin. He loved how soft his feet were feeling from using the lotion. You can definitely use this lotion all over you body where your skin is dry, tight and itchy without irritation.

Soak those tender feet! If you have extremely dry feet like me, take some time daily to soak them in the tub in warm water. Not only will this give them some relief to sore achy feet, it also helps to exfoliate the dry skin away. It is important to follow this up with a quick exfoliation with a pumice stone and a moisturizer designed for dry feet, like Ureadin Podos. This specially designed formula uses lactic acid to exfoliate and then emollients like Shea butter to re-hydrate the skin. You can actually expect to begin to see results in three days!

Get Summer Ready Skin with Ureadin

I have been using Ureadin Podos on my feet for the last three weeks and I love the difference it has made in my heels, toes and the balls of my feet. It instantly soothes the dry, sore skin on my feet while improving the look and feel of my feet. This is the difference in my feet over the last three weeks:

Get Summer Ready Skin with Ureadin

My skin is brighter, the cracks have healed and they are definitely not as rough. They are much smoother to the touch and I am not embarrassed to wear sandals.

Get Summer Ready Skin with Ureadin

If you are heading out swimming, pack the moisturizer. Swimming can really dry out your skin with all of the chemicals, so make sure you are applying both sunscreen and moisturizer. The Ureadin spray on moisturizer was a blessing for us. It was easy to pack and even easier to apply. You literally spray on and it dries on its own within seconds (which when you are struggling to get moisturizer on a child this is definitely a win-win for any parent). It has a light scent (almost reminded me of baby powder) and is suitable for all skin types. So no more worrying about carrying different creams for different skin types.

Keep hydrated! This is so important – you really need to ensure you are in taking an adequate amount of water throughout the day especially if you are sweating.

Preventive care is so important to prevent painful, dry and cracked skin – especially now that we have almost reached summer. How do you help prevent and soothe dry and cracked skin?

If you would like more information or would like to purchase the Ureadin Hydration line of products, head over to their website now to get more information and purchasing details.

Disclosure: I am part of the Intega Influencer Campaign and I receive special perks as part of my affiliation with this group. The opinions on this blog are my own.

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