Healthy Swellness: Straighten Up app review

Straighten Up app

 

I cringe whenever I see photos taken of me that I haven’t posed for. Because I’m always slouching. In fact, if you go on my Instagram, there are few examples of my poor posture.

Sigh.

Besides being unsightly, poor posture is the cause of many musculoskeletal problems. So many of us sit for ours, hunched over our desks. And all of this sitting puts 30 percent more stress on your back than standing does. And lower back pain accounts for one-third of missed work days (second only to the common cold). Each year, more than 11 million (11 million!) Canadians will suffer from at least one muscuskeletal condition, yikes.

With my poor posture in mind (and honestly, these stats about musculoskeletal issues frightened me!), I  put the new Straighten Up app to use for a few days. Launched last month, the app includes exercises aimed to improve posture and reduce the risk of a musculoskeletal disorder. I’ve only tried it for a couple of days so far, but in a study, participants who practiced Straighten Up daily for at least five weeks reported improved posture, strengthened core muscles, and less back pain when sitting.

The app’s easy to navigate. And I love that the exercises only take three minutes to complete; I found completing them once I get up in the morning is a nice, gentle way to wake up my body. In terms of production value, it’s not the slickest, but you really only need to watch the video once or twice to learn the proper form, and then just a quick glance at the home page of the exercises is enough to jog your memory as you do the exercises to your favourite song. (Oh, btw, there’s a Youth series of exercises, too).

Also in the app is a handy “Find a Chiro” feature, along with a blog of articles about spine health, sports injuries and more. You can also log your exercises in the app, which is always satisfying, don’t you find, watching your good fitness work adding up over time?

The exercises only take three minutes to complete, so in theory, you could easily complete them in cubicle or office. You might feel a little silly doing ones like Bending Circles (a little bit like waving your hands in the air like you just don’t care), though. But when you consider the benefits of doing exercises that improve your posture, that might be incentive enough to looking a little silly. Five reasons why good posture is so important:

1.       Reduces wear and tear: Having a balanced spine decreases the amount of stress and pressure on your joints, reducing the risk of wear and tear that can result in a limited range of motion or arthritis.

2.       Breathe easy: By avoiding slouching and sitting up straight you are helping to open your airways and increase oxygen flow throughout your body.

3.       Decreases stress: Since stress causes your muscles to contract and become tense, stretching those muscles reverses the tension and the related stress.

4.       Increases energy: Slouching puts many of your muscles into overdrive as they work to hold you up, wearing your body out. Proper posture enables the body’s most efficient position, saving energy.

5.       Be better: Standing up straight with your shoulders back gives you the appearance of being taller and slimmer, making you feel more confident.

Just three minutes a day of the Straighten Up app’s exercises can help prevent you from experiencing lower back pain–think about it, you can complete it in the time of a commercial break as you watch The Good Wife. 

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Leave a Comment November 19, 2014

Foodie Swellness: Making Great Sausages class at The Healthy Butcher

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So we all look pretty giddy here, don’t we? That’s how much fun we had at the Making Great Sausages seminar at The Healthy Butcher.

I was invited to try out the 2.5-hour class a couple of weeks ago, and let me tell you, I made sure to clear my calendar for the evening. Learning how to make a favourite food from some of the best sausage makers in the city? Yes!

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In the class, we learned all about what ratio is ideal of fat to meat, about the different types of casings, what ingredients work well in sausage, and we saw how to use the stuffer and then how to twist the casings into links. Then we were divided up into small teams of two to three people and kicked up a little friendly “sausage war.” Armed with $100 of play money, our teams bid on a number of ingredients, ranging from roasted garlic to white wine. Our team (we dubbed our team Miss Piggy, since we chose to make an all-pork sausage — I was teamed up with Brea and Savannah from Abbey’s Kitchen, btw) pulled what I like to call our Boston Rob move (love him!) and used the last of our money to grab up the last ingredient just so the other teams wouldn’t get to use it. (Okaaaay, maybe not the most good sportsman-like conduct…)

Miss Piggy sausage ingredients

In our Miss Piggy pork sausage, we had roasted garlic, white wine, maple syrup, lemon juice, parsley and onion. In terms of dried herbs, we added thyme and sage.

links on the grill

After all the sausages were made, a few links from each team were fired up on the grill and we tasted each one. Yum! Alas, no winner was selected in Sausage Wars — every team’s sausage turned out delicious. I went home with several pounds of sausage, which I used in a pasta dish (and I froze the remainder — there’s only so much sausage a girl can eat in a week!).

With the holiday season coming up, I think a cooking class is great gift idea for the food lover in your life. I know I’ve added it to my list of potential gifts. And the Healthy Butcher offers a range of seminars, from butchering and fish basics to the art of the roast and knife skills.

Making Great Sausage seminar, $70. For more information on the seminars available at The Healthy Butcher, check out their website.

 

2 Comments November 14, 2014

Fitness Swellness: Atelier LOLË Yorkville

Atelier Lole Yorkville

I’m a strong believer that working out in fitness gear that you look and feel good in is motivating. Cute outfits are powerful–I bet on some days, a great fitness outfit can play a role in whether you do your workout or not. I’m pretty good at sticking to my marathon-training schedule, but on the days my favourite pieces are in the laundry and I have to wear some bland, shapeless top I got from a race (most race tops are not very flattering or stylish, right?), I just don’t step out and pound that pavement feeling my best.

Atelier Lole Yorkville fitness gear

If you’re seeking cute fit gear, LOLË Yorkville is a cheerful little boutique where you can find pieces in fun prints (and solids, too) with flattering details,  but, of course, with your athletic needs in mind (sweat-wicking fabrics, venting where you need venting, flat seams so you don’t risk chafing, etc.). I’m partial to the running gear (since that’s my main form of fitness) and I love that designer Andy Thê-Anh is a runner himself, so we of course always chat halfs and marathons when I see him at the media previews. But there is a lovely assortment of yoga, lifestyle and some swimwear, too. In fact, what I’m currently coveting are cashmere pieces from from the White by LOLË – although I’d probably wear them more for lounging than sun salutations…

In addition to gear, the shop is a fitness hub where you can take part in yoga classes or run clubs. The run clubs are held in the spring and summer, and yoga meet-ups take place once or twice a week in the store (and occasionally are held in studios for specialized classes such as reformer Pilates). You can get more details on the run clubs and yoga on the Atelier Lole Yorkville Facebook page.

Oh, and if you’re peckish and in need of some fuel when you pop in, there are complimentary beverages and bars available, too.  There’s no need to shop hangry!

Atelier LOLË Yorkville, 88 Yorkville Ave., Toronto, www.lolewomen.com

Atelier Lole Yorkville interior

 

2 Comments November 5, 2014

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