Category: health and fitness

How to Live a Healthy Lifestyle While Keeping Your Sanity with Sundown Naturals®

Living a healthy lifestyle has always been important to me, much more so after having children! After I gave birth to my children I realized that I had to be healthier, not only for myself, but for them too. I had their future to think about. Where would they be without Mom or Dad? But what was a healthy lifestyle and how did I achieve that?

About a year and a half after having my second son, I began feeling tired all the time, my hair was thinning out, and I was just not myself—I knew that something was wrong. While I do deal with depression, I knew that this was above and beyond my normal range of symptoms and that it was important to see my family doctor. After a series of tests, we discovered that I was dealing with a malabsorption issue in my small intestines which was causing me to be deficient in several key vitamins, including Vitamin D, Iron, and B12.

This was a whole new learning curve for me; I had studied various courses during my university years on nutrition and the body, but I was not prepared on how to deal with my vitamin deficiencies and malabsorption. Working with a dietician, we came up with a few great ideas:

Nourish your body with nutrient rich, organic, and (if possible) local food (or even grow your own—gardening is a great stress reliever). We get many of the good things our body need from what we eat, so make every bite count. I know this can be easier said than done as parents. I can’t tell you how many times my meal has consisted of my kids leftovers!

How to Live a Healthy Lifestyle While Keeping Your Sanity with Sundown Naturals®

Get enough exercise—plan it out! If it’s not in my agenda then I tend to ignore that it should be leg day, so having a commitment on a calendar is crucial for me.

Get the right amount of sleep. I know you are probably laughing right now—trust me, a part of me gets it—but getting enough sleep really is important. It will help your body recover and leave you feeling refreshed.

Many times, this is not enough.

Let’s face it—life gets in the way and we can eat improperly at times. We put the focus on our children instead of us and we definitely don’t get the required amount of sleep and nutrients. For myself (and many others), we have to supplement with vitamins and minerals in order for our body to absorb and get what it needs in order to work at top form. A daily regime of vitamins that includes multi-vitamin, iron, B12, Vitamin D, Calcium, and Biotin (I added this in when my hair started to fall out!) was worked out with my dietician, and my blood work is ordered and monitored twice a year to ensure my current schedule is working. Sticking to a healthy, nutrient rich diet is tough because, to be honest, it can be hard to meal plan for the week when you have so much on the go and need to supplement to ensure you’re getting enough.

But how do you choose the right type of vitamin when there are so many different brands?

When I purchase a vitamin, the brand has to meet these must haves:

  • Non-GMO
  • Gluten free
  • Free of artificial flavours, colours, and preservatives

How to Live a Healthy Lifestyle While Keeping Your Sanity with Sundown Naturals®

Sundown Naturals® is built upon the philosophy to deliver 100% goodness, 100% of the time. They sell a range of vitamins to cover your health care needs—from heart health to immune health to energy support. The best part about Sundown Naturals® is that they are 100% GMO free, gluten and dairy free, and free from artificial flavours, colours, and preservatives. They are also the first broad line vitamin brand to be available at your local pharmacy that is 100% Non-GMO.

How to Live a Healthy Lifestyle While Keeping Your Sanity with Sundown Naturals®

With my health conditions, I want and need to ensure that the vitamins I am taking in are high quality and the easiest to absorb for my body. I am confident that each time I take a Sundown Naturals® vitamin, I am taking in the very best to help fuel my body to perform at its best. I am getting all the good stuff without any of the bad stuff. Knowing that I am helping to fuel my body with high quality vitamins to keep it running at its best leaves me feeling confident and at my best.

What is the most important feature you look for when purchasing vitamins and minerals?

Make sure to follow Sundown Naturals® on Facebook to keep up to date with all the latest information, news and more.

Disclosure: This post has been sponsored by Sundown Naturals®. All opinions expressed are my own.

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Monkey See, Monkey Do #SmokeFreeMovies

Monkey See, Monkey Do #SmokeFreeMovies

I grew up in a household where my Dad smoked both in the house and outside. To me this was normal, it was part of my every day and it was socially acceptable. One day, my Dad took all three of us kids to the Doctor’s office. As he struggled to get my younger sister out of the car, he asked me to hold his cigarette while he pulled her out – be forgiving with this action, this was the 80s!! Not realizing what I was doing, I started to put the cigarette to my mouth and smoke, thinking how cool I looked and that I was just like Dad. It was the first and only time my Dad got mad at me! He smacked the cigarette out of my mouth, yelling at me about how bad smoking was for my health and that I was still a child. But to me, as a child, I had a hard time understanding: if it was so bad, why did the people who I loved and looked up to smoke? Wasn’t this normal? And it seemed odd coming from my Dad’s mouth that smoking was bad for me, but okay for him. The signals that I was receiving were confusing and contradictory.

Monkey See, Monkey Do #SmokeFreeMovies

Our behaviour is learned from watching others – we learn about norms, how to model correct (and incorrect) behaviour, and what is accepted socially, all from watching our family members, our peers, and those whom we admire and respect. Children and young adults are susceptible to these learnings and may have a harder time deciphering what is healthy and normal and what may be viewed as “cool” and “admirable” is actually unhealthy and detrimental to their health. As a parent, I have learned that it is my job to help guide them as they mature and begin to learn what is normal, what is right and how to make good decisions for their own health and well-being. For my youngest, this may mean restricting what he hears and sees, while for my eldest talking about the ‘why’s’ behind the decisions we are making.

Seeing a person smoking everyday or even casually in a movie or advertisement normalizes smoking. Our most vulnerable population, children and teens, see their idols and celebrities smoking, want to copy their behaviour, to be just like them. They don’t have the skills or the maturity to understand the consequences of smoking and starting so young. My husband started smoking when he was fourteen and struggled to quit at the age of 30 (he has now been smoke free for six years!). One of his greatest regrets, is that he had started so young.

Monkey See, Monkey Do #SmokeFreeMovies

Smoking in movies is now shockingly widespread; and some of the statistics surprised me! 86% of movies with smoking were rated for kids and teens in Ontario. That’s 37% of Ontario youth smokers begin to smoke due to seeing smoking in movies. Scary right? Even scarier is the fact that smoking has become so normal despite the high number of health campaigns showing the risks of smoking. I bet many of you like me, haven’t even noticed this happening during movies.

So how do parents help protect their children when movies aren’t rated to let us know that smoking is in the movie? Public Health Units across Ontario are encouraging parents to sign a petition that will influence movies to be rated as 18A  if they feature tobacco at any point throughout the movie This small step helps us to wisely choose our movies for family time, as well as encouraging movie producers to just not include smoking at all in the film.

As parents, we know first-hand how quickly our children pick up habits (how many of you have said one bad word in the car and that’s it, they are like parrots repeating it everywhere) and we would do anything in our ability and power to protect them and keep them healthy. Signing the petition is one small, but positive step that we as parents can take to help ensure our children are not exposed to unhealthy life choices.

If you are curious about movies titles that may or do contain tobacco, visit the Smoke Free Movies page or the Thumbs Up Thumbs Down page for a complete listing of both tobacco free and tobacco containing movies. To keep up-to-date with all the latest information and status of the petition, make sure to follow them on Twitter and Facebook.

Disclosure: I have partnered with YMC and The Smoke-Free Movies Campaign and have received compensation for this post. All opinions in the post are my own.

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Put an End to Sleepless Nights with Pharmaton® Sleep Harmony™

Put an End to Sleepless Nights with Pharmaton® Sleep Harmony™

Turn to the left…squeeze your eyes tight and pray for some sleep.

Ten minutes later turn to the right…squeeze your eyes tight and please let me sleep!

Forty minutes later give up all hope of sleeping as your mind continuously reminds you of your to-do list, your work list that never seems ending and not to mention the stuff you need to buy for your children as they constantly grow out of their shoes and clothes.

Sound familiar?

I am sure so many of us can relate to having our natural sleep patterns disturbed at some point in our adult lives. Sometimes it is for a night or two but for others mild stress can become a burden and force longer periods of sleeplessness.

Mild stress and anxiety can have a negative impact on so many areas in your life. It can affect your relationships, the way you react to situations (even normal situations that you have dealt with in the past but because of stress your mind can’t think properly) and can even affect your sleep.

For me stress and anxiety cause a lot of disruption to my normal sleep patterns. I find it difficult to fall asleep at night (it can be so brutal to watch everyone else sleeping and there you are tossing side to side, trying to keep your eyes closed and pray for just even a few hours of sleep) and I find it even more difficult to stay asleep for more than four hours at a time.

A lack of sleep can have many negative impacts in your life – it makes me grumpy, irritable and I am less on the ball; I make more mistakes at work and even at home. Ever poured a large amount of cumin into a loaf of banana bread instead of cinnamon? OOPS! But that is how a lack of sleep affects me. Not to mention being far more irritable with my family and becoming quick to anger, this hurts me and them.

So how do we fight back against sleep problems? Try these helpful tips below:

Exercise Daily: I am not talking about heading to the gym for an intense workout but something as simple as going out for a walk on your lunch break, taking the dog out for a walk when you get home from work. Just something simple, relaxing but still gets your heart rate elevated. A little bit of exercise goes a long way for stress relief and relaxing the body. Don’t go overboard with the exercise late at night – that will likely reverse the effects and actually give you more energy. This is definitely not something you want to do if you are already struggling with sleep.

Put an End to Sleepless Nights with Pharmaton® Sleep Harmony™

Eat a healthy, balanced diet: Nutrition goes a long way for making your body and mind feel good and I am a firm believer of this. It can’t work miracles but when you fuel your body with healthy food products you will feel better too. Stay away from alcohol! Honestly, you don’t need the negative effects of it on your body if you are already suffering from restless sleep.

Put an End to Sleepless Nights with Pharmaton® Sleep Harmony™

Practice good sleep hygiene habits: Don’t bring your cell phone and tablet to bed, that is one of the worst things that you could do. It is also one of the habits that I am most guilty of doing. The screen will keep your mind alert and awake and not to mention the constant stress of knowing you have work emails coming through. Your phone becomes like a beacon on your bedside table, “read me just one more time, what harm can it do?” The harm comes easily when you can’t help looking one more time after that and one more time after that! Some nights I find myself working on my blog at two in the morning instead of sleeping and the next day I am mentally and physically exhausted. Or even worse, social media can be a huge distracter when you want to sleep, as you scroll through your feeds one more time or laugh your way through one more meme.

Use a lavender oil on your sheets: I have this great lavender oil spray that I use on my pillows and sheets about twenty minutes before I go to bed. I love the relaxing smell of lavender and it helps to unwind the stress from the day.

If you try all of this and still finding you are having restless sleeps, trying a natural sleep aid can make a huge difference in your life.

Put an End to Sleepless Nights with Pharmaton® Sleep Harmony™

Pharmaton® Sleep Harmony™ is a traditional herbal medicine which has been designed to help calm those racing thoughts and improve our sleep patterns at night. Pharmaton® Sleep Harmony™ is made with a patented essential lavender oil, called Silexan™, which has been shown to help relieve symptoms of mild exhaustion and mild mental stress. The best part (and one I know so many of us worry about), Pharmaton® Sleep Harmony™ is non-habit forming, so your body won’t begin to rely on it for sleep. It also doesn’t leave you with that groggy feeling in the morning that many prescribed medications do. This is the perfect solution for individuals who need a good night’s sleep but don’t want to take prescribed medication that can cause your body to need the medication to fall asleep. Before you start this product, make sure it is the right one for you – read and follow the labels.

Do you suffer from sleeplessness? How do you deal with it and what are your best go to solutions?

Disclosure: I received compensation for this post. All opinions expressed are my own.

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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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