December 2013


What’s that buzzing sound?

I try to write articles about strange things for Women’s Post because I think they’re just so bizarre that they need to have my acerbic comments. And I hope you enjoy reading about the wacky things that happen in someone else’s daily life.

Recently, I came across a topic that I knew would make a great article for Women’s Post: Underpants that vibrate. In fact, these undies are called Passion Pants. You put these on, flip the switch and go about your daily tasks, all the while being on a slow boat to China.

I don’t know about you, but I’d be challenged to keep my daily routine with such a distraction. What if the pastor from my church dropped in for tea? What if I had to go to a meeting with my kid’s teacher? What if I was invited to dinner with my mother-in-law or, even worse, my own mother?

It seems likely that while all of those tasks and more would be easily within my scope on most days, they probably would be way too much of a challenge on Passion Pants day.

Women, especially mothers, are really good at multi-tasking. Women can talk on the phone and listen to the noise the little one is making in her bedroom and know that when the noise stops, there’s trouble. Women cook dinner, set the table and wash the lunch dishes all at the same time.

But I’m afraid that passion pants might raise the bar on multi-tasking to such a high degree that women will be unable to focus on anything but their knickers.

So, on to the article that spurred this topic. According to the British tabloid, The Sun, a woman wore her passion pants while she went grocery shopping. I’m thinking she may not have thought this whole thing through before she got in her car.

This may not surprise you: the woman collapsed in her supermarket when her vibrating pants made her faint with pleasure. When she fell, she hit her head and the supermarket called the paramedics. When they began to help her, her pants were still vibrating. Her secret was out. The paramedics took her pants off and took her to the local hospital. There was no mention of the expression on the paramedics’ faces.

There was also no information in the article about the reception she received at the hospital. I have to wonder if this was sufficient to put her at the head of the line in the emergency department. I’m pretty sure that it was sufficient to be the buzz of the whole hospital. I just hope she remained unconscious while all the giggling was going on.

I can only imagine the long pause in her kitchen that evening when her husband came home from work and asked how her day was.

The final short chapter in this highly amusing story is a testament to British humour…A spokesman for the ASDA Supermarket said, “We like to think shopping with us is exciting enough already.”

Is your medication draining you? PART 1

Side effects from pharmaceutical medications are provided with every prescription that gets filled and drug commercials with such warnings are now filling the airwaves with a sense of doom. What these cautions often fail to mention are the actual nutrients that may be depleted when taking medications, either through blocking absorption or affecting transportation or utilization of nutrients in the body. Nutrient depletions are behind some of those side effects.

In Part 1 I’ll touch on statins, which are prescribed to regulate cholesterol levels and anti-depressants; Part 2 deals with Proton-Pump Inhibitors (stomach acid reducers) and the birth control pill. These articles are not intended to provide medical advice. Please consult with your physician and natural health practitioner before making any changes to medications or nutritional supplements.


May deplete: vitamins A, some Bs, D, E and K; minerals calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, iron; coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10).

CoQ10 is significantly depleted by statins. It is an antioxidant present in every cell in the body and is particularly concentrated in heart and liver tissue. One of its key roles is to help the cells produce energy.

Supplementing with the “ubiquinol” form of CoQ10 in gel caps is highly recommended by health care practitioners to replenish what is lost.


There are two categories to note. Selective Seratonin Re-uptake Inhibitors (SSRI) may deplete: melatonin (which regulates the sleep-wake cycle) and sodium (an electrolyte, important to maintaining fluid balance and regulating blood pressure). Tricyclic anti-depressants may deplete: CoQ10 and riboflavin (B2).

The first step in countering the depleting effects is to avoid processed foods entirely, as they have been stripped of up to 80% of the nutrients from the food in its original form and will do nothing to fill the gap.

Instead, on a daily basis consume:

•lots of fresh vegetables, especially dark green leafy ones that are a great source of minerals, folate and betacarotene (as found in orange or yellow vegetables);

•nuts and seeds (sesame seeds contain abundant amounts of calcium; pumpkin seeds provide zinc, sunflower seeds are a good source of magnesium; nuts, seeds and olive oil are natural sources of vitamin E);

•whole grains, which will provide some B vitamins and minerals.

Taking a good quality multi-vitamin/mineral formulation on a daily basis is important for anyone dealing with health conditions or on medications. Vitamin D and B content in multivitamins are generally at minimal levels, so additional supplementation may be appropriate in certain situations. Post-menopausal women are advised against taking supplemental iron unless blood tests indicate that it is necessary as iron overload, a toxic condition, may occur.

Contact me at Pinstripe Nutrition if you would like nutritional guidance on dealing with these health conditions.


Is your medication draining you? PART 2

The first part of this series briefly addressed statins and anti-depressants, so now it’s time to talk about a couple of other very frequently prescribed medications: Proton-Pump Inhibitors, which reduce stomach acid, and the birth control pill.

Proton-Pump Inhibitors (PPI)

May deplete: boron, calcium, chromium, copper, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, selenium, zinc, betacarotene, some B, C, D, E and K vitamins.

The list is long, as PPIs can effectively shut down digestion. Without adequate stomach acid, the body cannot sufficiently break down protein, produce B12 or absorb many minerals. There is a link to osteoporosis and numerous possible side effects due to low magnesium in the body and the pharmaceutical companies advise that these medications are to be used on a short-term basis only.

Most people are surprised to learn that their digestive issues are due to decreased stomach acid, which naturally occurs with age, rather than too much, and then PPI’s reduce stomach acid even further.

Jonathan V. Wright, M.D., has produced some helpful material on this subject including his very quick read, Your Stomach.

A particular client of mine comes to mind: a long-term user of PPIs with multiple health complaints, who was shocked to see her full dinner still sitting in her stomach during an ultrasound mid-morning the next day. One week after making some adjustments to her routine, she is digesting food without discomfort for the first time in almost 15 years and improvements in her other health conditions are beginning to take place.

If you experience digestive issues in any way, I do encourage you to contact a natural health care practitioner, as there are ways to improve digestion naturally and to ensure that you are absorbing your nutrients. The effectiveness of nutritional supplements may also be hampered without a strong digestive system.

Birth Control Pill

May deplete: Vitamin A, B’s, and C, magnesium, selenium, zinc

As stated in Part 1, avoid nutrient-deficient processed foods entirely. Filling your plate with abundant amounts of fresh vegetables is a great starting point for replenishing much needed nutrients. A variety of whole grains, nuts and seeds can provide a breadth of natural sources of many minerals, for example, two Brazil nuts contain a day’s worth of selenium.

In terms of supplements, taking a good quality multi-vitamin/mineral formulation (capsule form with no unnecessary added ingredients) on a daily basis is a good idea and consider taking a separate B-complex as well.

With any medications that may be recommended or prescribed, it is essential to be informed of all potential side effects and nutrient depletions. Consult your doctor in conjunction with your natural health practitioner to achieve balance. Your body will thank you.


Moan like you mean it

Jen Kirsch is a pint-sized, blonde, bronzed, twentysomething from Toronto.

If I had you at the title, wait until you get to the material. Today, my fellow femme fatales, I thought I’d tap into the category of moaning. The moan to which I’m referring ranges from a) a sigh of delight, to b) a sigh of excursion. I am woman hear me roar. Well actually, I’d prefer not to thank you very much.

Because as you are there moaning and moaning and moaning, unbeknownst to you, I am sitting there – and by there I mean at the other end of the wall, at the next table, on the yoga mat next to you, etc. – hoping/begging/praying-to-god-promising-that-i’ll-never-watch-another-Bachelor-episode-again if you would just please stop moaning. Like now.

What’s my issue with the moan? Probably the same as yours, you deep-breathing-avoiders you. It makes me uncomfortable. It makes me (against my will) imagine you being intimate. It is sexual – even though you’re moaning over a deep-fried-bean dip – and I just can’t save face long enough to pretend I’m comfortable with it.

I have always been uncomfortable with the public moan. What you do behind closed doors, ladies, is fine by me – so long as I’m not on the other end of the door. But the whole ‘letting it out in public’ thing is just too much. And I know it can be controlled with a bit of will (and self-dignity).

It goes back to high school when I was cast as the lead in a play, where I basically had to do an off-stage ‘moan into the mic’ kind of thing to insinuate that me and the male lead were being intimate.

The plot was similar that of The Truman Show. I played the role of the loving, sweet, innocent girlfriend, but really I was an actress and the whole plan was for me to kill my boyfriend on his 21st birthday over a cup of Pepsi as we cheers’d to our future together. In this play, we see the crew watching in on a television (which the audience doesn’t see) at my character and her boyfriend having sex. Knowing this was a high school show, I felt uncomfortable with the idea of my parents, family, friends (oh and grandparents) hearing my O-moan. I stood up to the director at the risk of losing my role, and in the end I got to keep it and we used a pre-recorded porn recording. Classy, right?

But my prudish nature with the moan still persists in my twentysomethings. Yesterday I was at a Yoga class and the woman on the mat next to me moaned after each and every pose. Now the yoga studio isn’t a place to judge, so I instead tried to focus on my breathing and my own experience, but I was almost surprised with her comfort level with the public moan. It also made me question whether or not she knew she was doing it?

Here is a short little list of places women moan, and how – in my humble opinion – I think it can be toned down; even just a notch.

1) When we eat good food: “Mmmmm, this is so good,” we say with a bigger than life smile on our face.  We bite in again, “Mmmm. So good.” This “mmm” and “ohh” and “ahh” continues until our plate is empty and we are full. We finish off, fulfilled saying, “Wow. That was good.”  I’ll admit, I’ve done it. I am a foodie through and through and nothing does me as good as a good meal, but I think that you can see (as indicated in the above dialogue) how this resembles a sac session: the increase in pleasure, to the climax, to fulfillment. Think: Meg Ryan’s infamous scene in When Harry Met Sallywhere she moans over a sandwich and the woman next to her says “I’ll have what she’s having.”

2) When we are active, in an athletic kind-of way: “Umph,” we let out as we strike the tennis ball with our racquet with all our might. It comes back to us, this time; we put our backs into it “Ammphhh,” we say as the ball is hit with more force. “Uhhh,” we say as we hit it out of reach of our partner and face victory. A sigh of relief is had. Again, whether it be moaning each time we hit a tennis ball, or each time we are held in a challenging yoga pose, we are replicating a bedroom scene most men can only fantasize about. Subtlety is the name of the game sister.

3) When we smell something good: Isn’t it funny when your florist has heard you moan more this month than your bed buddy? Now yes, I know it’s summer and you go to the florist once a week girlie, but well, that’s exactly my point. Not a good thing. Those flowers really smell lovely, don’t get me wrong. I know that, you know that, every person in the flower shop knows you think that. But how about you allow yourself a little inhalation to tempt your senses, take it in and leave it at that? Same goes for the cologne counter at Holt’s. If you don’t plan on buying the cologne, then you need to step away lady. Because rest assured, the nicely dressed man behind the counter is currently playing an image of ditching his wife for you in his naughty-little-head.

4) When we are getting it on: Though I’ve been ripping on the moan since you set eyes on the article, I have to tell you, I am perfectly OK with the moan in the bedroom. In fact, I encourage it. This is the time when the moan is appreciated. You’re with a partner who is being alerted by your telltale moan that he is the man of your kingdom. Let loose, give in to your impulses in the moan-department. However, there are of course times when the moan in the bedroom should be watered down, including: If your partner has a roommate who is home (or if anyone else is in the house/apartment etc.); if you’ve ever heard the neighbours before (if you’ve heard them, they can hear you pretty lady); and if you’re expecting company (nothing says ‘welcome’ like the sounds of you screaming out in pleasure).

Just a side note about the ‘in the bedroom’ moan: I would try to bite your tongue if you’re playing with a new guy. The early on moan only leads to future disappointment on his end, because you’re setting the bar high. He will create an expectation that that will always occur and will inevitably feel like a failure when it doesn’t remain consistent over time.

Thee time I was embarrassed of being a Torontonian

I really wanted to give Rob Ford a chance. I worked hard to make sure he never became Mayor back in 2010. I truly believed his tenure as Mayor would be something Torontonians would live to regret. But this is not an ‘I told you so’ moment. Rob Ford deserved this chance. After all, he received the votes. And in pure quantity, he did receive more votes than any other candidate in the history of Toronto’s mayoral elections: 383,501. (We would be remiss if we did not mention Mel Lastman’s 80% of the popular vote in 2000 or David Crombie’s record 84% of the popular vote in 1976.)  However, after nearly four years as head of the country’s largest municipal government he has done little demonstrate that he has what it takes to leave this city better than he found it. Unfortunately, to the detriment of the City, few others on Council have done little to prove that they can be a viable alternative.

To date, Karen Stintz, Rob Ford’s hand-picked Chair of the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC), is the only current member of Council who has announced her run. An absolutely deplorable record as Chair leaves her as an unattractive option to many. Her role as enabler of Rob Ford’s abuse of power is not helping any either.

However, nothing more exemplifies the sorry state of affairs in Toronto than the very public dueling between Rob Ford and Norm Kelly, his personally appointed Deputy. In the midst of a snow storm the likes of which Toronto had never seen Toronto’s ‘no-Mayors’ spent much of their time fighting each other for air time and credit for a job well done.

I grew up in Markham and lived in Sudbury before settling in Toronto. I cannot remember living under a municipal government that I truly took pride in. But following the week that was, I can honestly say there is no government of which I have ever been more embarrassed.

As I write this Toronto Hydro is reporting approximately 72,200 customers without power. Does that sound like the world class city we all claim Toronto to be?

Norm Kelly and Rob Ford have been forced to announce that their power struggle has not impeded relief efforts, but I cannot help but feel in an alternate universe in which John Tory beat David Miller in 2003 and the rise of Rob Ford had never been possible Torontonians would not be living in the proverbial darkness that we are guaranteed to be stuck in until 27 October 2014.


RELATIONSHIPS: Maintaining perspective

By Karyn Robinson-Renaud

He’s driving you nuts.

After a long day at work, you just forced yourself to clean up the living room. He comes in and plops himself in front of the TV – with chips. Somehow not every chip makes it into his mouth. Aside from the fact that he didn’t help with the cleaning, he now adds insult to injury by making a mess. No surprise here that you’re having some trouble remembering why you love him at all. You want to explode. What can you do to keep perspective? Take some notes during the good times.

As women we tend to be very good at remembering all the less-than-ideal things our partners do. And when we’re mad – at them – it all comes rushing to the surface. I’m not talking about deal breakers. I’m referring to things like forgetting to take out the recycling…again, or stepping over that big pile of laundry that needs to be done. If you are in a healthy relationship, he can’t be all bad. This just means you need to put some effort into noticing the small things he does to make your life easier, or to show you that he loves you. When you are able to recall the helpful things he does do, it helps soften how you talk to him when he’s annoying. In the long run this helps your relationship stay healthy.

Sometimes women have trouble recalling the thoughtful things their partners do because it doesn’t come in the form they expect. Some men show their love in very practical ways that go unnoticed at times. Other times, women can get caught up with the frustrations of daily life and forget the sweet things their partners have done in the past. Either way it’s time to take notes.

Get yourself a journal. Start by filling it in with things like how you first met, your favourite moments and what you admire most about him. Then keep it up-to-date with recent things he has done to put a smile on your face. Did he sing your favourite song? Did he clean the snow off your car? Did he bring home something unexpected? Whatever it is, if it put a smile on your face, jot it down.

Then pick a time to share it with him. He may be surprised at the small things that mean a lot to you. He may also be surprised at things that are not on the list, but he thought would be seen as helpful. Hopefully, this will open the door to both of you having a better understanding of what’s important to you and how you show your love. At the very least, making notes on the sweet things about him will make it easier to remember why you love him, especially when he’s driving you nuts.

The cupcake renaissance

Erin Christie is a freelance writer with an adventurous spirt and lust for life.

Who could have predicted that the major food trend and dessert du jour of 2010 would be something as simple as a cupcake. Let’s face it, these are the same tiny treats our moms used to fulfill their girl guide/fundraiser/or PTA obligation, with Rice Krispie squares in a close second, of course. Rarely does food transcend all generations to actually become a trend itself. And yet these moist morsels have resurfaced to storm mainstream culture. A fact that was reiterated with the launch of the W networks’ new show Cupcake Girls, a 13-week docu-series that follows entrepreneurs and best friends Heather White and Lori Joyce on their hectic journey to build their cupcake empire.

But these aren’t your mom’s cupcakes. The mouth-watering miniature miracles of our childhoods have transformed into gourmet goodies. Now served as tiny works of art in trendy shops across the nation, they are the new ‘it’ item to be seen buying and consuming. A popular request at corporate events, showers and weddings, they have become thelittle black dress of desserts. Perhaps their appeal is in their simplicity. Those fluffy little cakes covered in creamy icing and a rainbow of sprinkles…who could resist? Perhaps they serve our three dollar need to revisit our childhoods or possibly just our three dollar need to convince ourselves that due to their size, their calorie content is low, so in that case, have two.

In the midst of this cupcake renaissance, one has to wonder where or when they made their first appearance. As it turns out, these pocket-sized pleasures have been around for over a century, having made their debut in an American cookbook in 1826. Though the actual concept had been used as early as the 1700s, the term “cupcake” was used later in reference to the volume of measuring system. Prior to that they were referred to as Queen Cakes.

“Cupcakes have been around for hundreds of years, but I think cupcakes have become a big hit over the past few years due to their personal appeal,” explains Suzanne Cooper, owner/operator of theCupcake Shoppe, located on Yonge Street. “People can choose their own individual flavours and designs. I think people like to feel a certain individuality.”

“We do a lot of mini-cupcakes. I find they’re extremely popular for bridal and baby showers. I’ve also been getting a lot of orders for fundraisers and business functions. You don’t have to deal with cutting the cake or passing it out, it’s that grab and go factor. People seem to like to keep it simple,” adds Glendene Szymanksi, owner/operator of Cupcake Carousel, in Windsor, Ontario.

“I think nostalgia is also a major factor,” says Lynda Paul,  the owner/operator of It’s the Icing on the Cake Bakery. “Cupcakes are a comfort food as well.” Paul has carried cupcakes in her Queen Street shop since opening five years ago. She noticed a significant increase in both large and walk in orders. “They are more practical than cake, they have the grab and go appeal and you don’t have to deal with plating fees which can add up at a reception venue.”

Paul is not the only business owner to take note of the return of these demi-desserts. From cupcake cookbooks to cupcake-only blogs and websites, the internet is busting at the seems with all things cupcake.

More recently, major coffee and dessert franchises such as Starbucks and Cinnabon have added the tasty treats to their already thriving chains. “The cupcake has everything you could want in a dessert. They are well-known and well-loved, they were a good fit for our current product,” says Cinnabon president Gary Bales.

Toronto resident Jenn Gill was inspired to open her shop, the Cupcakery, located on St. Clair Avenue West, while working as a corporate event planner. “A few years ago I noticed an increased trend in brides ordering cupcakes instead of wedding cakes and my mother was a cake decorator so I saw that as an opportunity to combine my expertise in catering and event planning while doing something that I enjoy. So, I decided to leave my job and start a new career,” says Gill.

It was through her event planning experience that she invented the Cupcake Girl. “The Cupcake Girl is sort of our mascot. There have been a few,” says Courtney Douglas, a cake decorator/baker and the current incarnation. “Basically it’s something Jenn came up with. Right now, it’s usually me. TheCupcake Girl wears a really cute costume and goes to some of the corporate events, trade shows, and birthdays that we cater and hands out cupcakes on a little antique cigarette tray. I like doing it. I get recognized sometimes, which is always nice and I think it’s good for the store.”

Lovely reading

By Danielle Christopher

How to Raise A Boyfriend by Rebecca Eckler

Rebecca Eckler shows women everywhere that while they’re busy offering not-so-casual advice and reprimands to the men in their life, they’ve lost sight of an important fact: they’re not dating a boyfriend, they’re raising a boyfriend. She covers personal accounts (such as the guy who dashed away from her to cross a busy intersection without so much as a backward glance) in addition to sharing stories from friends. One friend shares how she was left at a grocery checkout, having to cope with an overwhelming shopping cart to pack in the car. Another depicts how her boyfriend forgot to meet her at the airport after a trip, prompting me to thank mymemory-of-an-elephant husband.

Then, an inescapable truth sets in: Rebecca Eckler already had a six-year-old daughter, so what was she doing with a boyfriend who was acting like a child?

As she writes, “If I can raise a child who is smart, kind and polite, surely I can raise a boyfriend, too.”

Rebecca Eckler’s work has appeared in The Globe and MailNational,Chatelaine and many publications. She has penned many popular books including Toddlers Gone Wild,The Mischievous Mom at the Art Gallery (co-authored with Erica Ehm), and Apple’s Angst.

The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman

I read this book in the early years of my marriage. It is a terrific read for anyone wanting to help nurture their relationship. With more than 30 years of experience as a marriage counsellor, Dr. Chapman noticed a pattern: everyone he had ever counselled had a “love language,” a primary way of expressing and interpreting love. He also discovered that, for whatever reason, people are usually drawn to those who speak a different love language than their own.

Of the countless ways we can show love to one another, five key categories, or five love languages, proved to be universal and comprehensive. Everyone has a love language, and we all identify primarily with one of the five: Words of Affirmation, Quality Time, Receiving Gifts, Acts of Service, and Physical Touch.

The book has helped countless couples identify practical and powerful ways to express love, simply by using the appropriate love language. Many husbands and wives, who spent years struggling through marriages they thought were loveless, discovered one or both spouses had long been showing love through messages that weren’t getting through. By recognizing their different love languages, they witnessed the rebirth of the love they thought had been gone for good.

Love your heart

By B.A. Dobson

Heart Health Awareness month is just aaround the corner, and ladies, we need to be paying attention. You see, the facts are…

  • Heart disease and stroke is the leading cause of death among Canadian women.
  • Women are more likely than men to die of a heart attack or stroke.
  • Women are 10X more likely to die from cardiovascular disease than from any other disease.
  • Despite all the media and public focus on breast cancer, women are six times more likely to die from cardiovascular disease.
  • One in eight women between the ages of 45-64 lives with cardiovascular disease.
  • Cardiovascular disease kills more women aged 65 and older than allcancers combined.

But the good news is that you have the power to prevent and/or greatly reduce your risk of developing cardiovascular disease by taking the following steps to protect your heart health.

Get Up Close and Personal With Your numbers: Being aware of your blood pressure and cholesterol numbers are important. Normal blood pressure ranges between 120/80 to 130/85, while your total blood cholesterol (TBD) count should be 5.2 or less. Also, be sure to ask your doctor to measure both your LDL (“bad”) and HDL (“good”) cholesterol, the ratio of these to your TBD, and your triglyceride levels, with a fasting blood test.

Pass on the Smokes: Did you know that smoking as few as four cigarettes/day makes you seven times more likely to develop heart disease? If you smoke, quitting is the single most important thing you can do to decrease your risk of heart disease. Not starting is even better.

Limit Your Alcohol Intake: When it comes to alcohol and heart health, if you don’t drink, don’t start, and if you do indulge, keep your intake at a moderate level. For women, one drink/day or less is recommended (FYI: ‘one drink’ = one beer, a 5 oz. glass of wine or 1.5 oz. of liquor).

Just De-Stress: In today’s society, the demands of work and family life mean that many women are hustling through life at a frenzied and highly stressful pace. But too much negative stress (i.e. the distress you may feel when the demands of life seem greater than your ability to cope with them) can increase your blood pressure, feelings of anxiety, and also result in you having a very short fuse. So, do your best to infuse some mind-clearing R ’n’ R (e.g. meditation, yoga or a meandering stroll through a park) into your day to keep yourself on an even keel.

Maintain a Healthy Body Weight: Being overweight significantly increases your chances of developing heart disease. Choosing to eat a nutritious, well-balanced diet (one that is high in complex carbohydrates, fibre, leaner meats and foods prepared with little to no fat or sodium) and engaging in 30 minutes of cardiovascular exercise most days of the week will go a long way to keep your body lean and your heart healthy.