Sleeping Beauty – A Guide to Buying the Perfect Mattress for You

We can’t talk about healthy sleeping habits without talking about the most important sleeping aid of all. Your mattress! Your mattress is one of the most important items you’ll need for a good night’s sleep. So, if you’re in the market for a new one, here are a few tips to keep in mind before buying.

1)    Get some support. Your mattress should support your entire body, especially your back. Make sure it supports the natural curves and alignment of your spine. Take into consideration the materials used to make the mattress such as coils, springs, fabric and padding.

2)    Better Safe than Sorry. A good mattress is an investment into your health, so when ever possible, take advantage of a warranty.  Accidents do happen, whether it’s moving from place to place or an unfortunate spill. Your mattress should be just as protected as any other large investment item in your home. Always use a mattress cover since most of the mattress companies won’t honour the warranty if you don’t.

3)    Firmer Isn’t Always Better.  There is a misconception that a firm mattress is the better mattress. Not so! Like a pillow, it depends on what type of sleeper your are: back, side or stomach. Also if you sleep alone or with a partner. Discuss these things with the salesperson and if you do sleep with a partner, make sure they come along when you shop. Take your time when selecting a new mattress to make sure it feels right for you.

4)    Accessorize. Once you’ve purchased your mattress, think about getting a good quality mattress pad. They can help protect your mattress from stains, spills, rips or tears. They‘re also easy to clean (most go right into the washing machine) and come in a variety of textures, price points and thicknesses. They can really help you customize the comfort of your mattress for that perfect night’s sleep.

5)    Be Picky. It’s recommended that you should replace your mattress every seven years (depending on use). Some people don’t even own a car for that long! Do your research before going to the store and make a list of your current mattress failings. Don’t be afraid to put the sales people through their paces. Ask plenty of questions about mattress materials, longevity, value, warranty and design. Also, find out if the mattress company recommends you flip and rotate your mattress on a regular basis, since this can add years to the life of your mattress.



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It’s World Health Day, Soon.

We’re celebrating World Health Day today (even though it’s not until April 7th), and this year the focus of the World Health Organization is high blood pressure.

Did you know that sleep can affect your blood pressure? Bet you didn’t!

We’ve said it before; many of us just don’t prioritize sleep as an important part of healthy living. Getting a good night’s sleep is often sacrificed when we get busy. Whether it’s an early start to the day, an evening out with friends, a sick child or spouse, or even a favourite TV show, many of us find it difficult to get the recommended 7-8 hours of sleep.

So now there is another reason to make sleep a priority, it’s good for your heart. When you sleep, your heart rate slows down and your blood pressure drops, for a significant period of time. This lowers the stress on your body, and allows you to wake-up better able to manage any new stress.

Sleeping for less than the recommended 7-8 hours can lead to sleep deprivation, which keeps your body in a state of alert. Your body then increases production of stress hormones and cortisol to help you stay awake. This then raises your blood pressure which is a significant factor for a heart attack or stroke.

So please keep your heart in mind the next time you think of skipping that extra hour of sleep. Your heart will thank you.

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Five Surprising Strategies to Save Your Heart

By Sherry Torkos, Pharmacist and author of Saving Women’s Hearts and The Canadian Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine

February is heart health awareness month, so this is the perfect time to talk about what we can do to protect ourselves against heart disease. We all know that it is important to exercise, eat healthy and avoid smoking, but you may be surprised to learn about these additional strategies that can help prevent heart disease:

Get another hour sleep

Why? Lack of sleep has been shown to raise blood pressure, trigger inflammation and promote clotting and atherosclerosis. All of these factors raise the risk for heart disease. Aim for 7 to 8 hours of sleep each night. Make sleep a priority for better health.

Stress less

Why? Stress is a powerful risk factor for heart disease. Stress raises blood pressure and cholesterol, triggers inflammation and promotes blood clots. To better manage stress, try deep breathing, meditation, yoga and get regular exercise.

Add more colourful fruits and vegetables to your diet.

Why? Brightly coloured fruits and vegetables contain plant pigments, which are rich in antioxidants. These antioxidants offer a number of health benefits. They can help fight free radical damage, support the health of your blood vessels, and reduce inflammation.

Choose smart supplements

Why? It is difficult to get enough essential nutrients from diet alone. Certain nutrients are known to play an important role in heart health, such as the omega-3 fatty acids, which are found in fish. Omega-3s lower triglycerides, reduce blood pressure, fight inflammation and prevent clotting. Look for a supplement that pairs omega-3 fatty acids along with coenzyme Q10 (a vital antioxidant), such as femMED Heart Health.

Laugh more

Why? Laughing relaxes and expands the blood vessels, which protects the heart. On the contrary, negative emotions such as anger, hostility and pessimism are associated with increased heart disease risk.

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“Float Like A Butterfly, Sting Like A Bee”

We were inspired by the importance of Heart and Stroke Month, so we decided to find another heart pumping activity to help get us going and re-inspired. After all, we’re only three months away from one of the most heart thumping events this year, The Tough Mudder.

Since the weather has been somewhat of a fitness foe, we decided to look for another indoor activity that could really get us going. Wow, did we ever succeed – welcome to Ladies Only Muay Thai Kickboxing Boot Camp.

We attended a four week session held every Saturday at an authentic local kick boxing gym. For an hour each week we kicked, punched, crunched and push-upped our way through a mean yet incredibility satisfying work out.  Our fearless instructor was always on hand to ensure we were always in the correct position and maximizing the benefits of each heart pumping circuit.  At the end of every hour, we could always feel the impact of the workout in our arms, legs, core and back.  Our heart rates were up the entire time, and during each workout we burned approximately 600-800 calories! This was extremely motivating and kept us coming back even though we were always sore the next day (but in a good way).

What’s nice about this class is that you can take some of what you learn home with you.

Skipping is a big part of the warm-up; it’s not all about the bag work and you’re sweet left hook.  A 15 minute skipping interval will increase your heart rate and help you burn up to 200 calories. Try incorporating skipping in between your weight circuit or into your daily fitness routine.


Another great take home tip was a yoga movement called “the plank”. We’re sure many of you are familiar with this movement. You lie face down on the ground and then raise yourself up onto your feet and elbows. Keep your core tight, hips down and back flat. Stay as tight as possible. You’ll start to feel the effects in your arms, back, core and legs. Add a plank onto the end of your workouts. With each workout, increase the time you can hold the plank position as well as the number of repetitions. The “plank” is a great full body exercise to finish off your exercise routine.










An added bonus with boot camp sessions is the short commitment of only four classes. At the completion of the four classes, you have the option to walk away or purchase another monthly package. A great format for those who don’t know what exercise they like or get bored easily.



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“Debulking The Bulk”

In celebration of working hard throughout December and most of January (there was a little falling off the wagon over the holidays, but we all need treats now and then), I decided to hit up my favourite shops to see what’s coming for spring. Yes, I know thinking about spring now seem a little premature but February will fly by and then it’s March, which equals SPRING to me!

Adding even more to my springtime optimism is the realization that I have lost weight!

How? By eating right and exercising regularly, even though there were days I didn’t want to leave the couch. I know this is logical, but it’s just so very, very, very nice to start seeing the results of all the hard work I have put into getting back into shape. Since I often don’t pay attention to the scale, I generally go by how I feel, the changes in my appearance, and how my clothes fit.

There is absolutely nothing more satisfying then trying on a pair of jeans and needing to ask the sales clerk to get you a smaller size.  So feeling totally inspired when I got home, I decided to get rid of all the clothes that didn’t fit me anymore, that were too BIG or I hadn’t worn in over a year.

Being the clotheshorse that I am, I had to contend with the two storage containers under my bed, a dresser and two closets filled to the brim with clothes.  By the end of the night and after a mini fashion show of grievous fashion trend no-no’s (that all seemed so right at the time), I was left with three very large shopping bags filled with jeans, sweaters, shirts, scarves, shoes and a jacket. What’s better still is that in the process of getting rid of the clothes that didn’t fit, I was able to de-clutter and reorganize everything else.

Eventually, I walked all three bags to my Salvation Army drop box feeling great. Not to mention that I now have room for some new spring clothes!

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