Filed under: Healthy Swellness

Healthy Swellness: Sodastream GIVEAWAY!

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I go through ups and downs when it comes to hydrating well. I drink plenty of water when I run, but am not so great about hydrating any other time (even when I’m doing “well” that just means a couple of glasses of water). But what I have found to really help me is to drink carbonated water. And while I’ve had a nutritionist tell me to drink plain water is better, for me, drinking any water is better than none and so if it being bubbly is what gets me to drink water, then that’s what it is!

I have a Sodastream and love the convenience of it. It’s helped me drink soft drinks less often (I have them only as a treat when I’m out and stopped stocking pop at home years ago). If you recall, I partnered with Sodastream a couple of years ago.

Besides helping me drink more water, I love the cocktails you can make with it, too, like this Raspberry Rosé Punch!

And continuing my giveaway bonanza, I’m giving away one Sodastream Fizzi One Touch! It’s valued at $179.99 and I hope it helps one lucky winner hydrate better!

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How to enter? Here you go:

Check out my Instagram post of the Sodastream giveaway and enter there (details are on the IG post). But you can get an additional entry by commenting on this blog post by sharing how much water you currently drink.

This giveaway ends at 5 p.m. EST on Sunday, March 10, 2019. It is open to Canadian residents. The winner will be chosen at random and announced on my Instagram Stories on Monday, March 11, 2019.  The prize is awarded as is.

Aaaand stay tuned for more giveaways!

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25 Comments March 1, 2019

Healthy Swellness: 2018 Year in review

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2018 was a struggle.

Was it worse than last year? No. 2017 was stressful, and this year was just stressful but rather than feeling super wound up about it, I spent much of this year numb, as though my brain just shut down because I couldn’t manage even the energy and thoughts it takes to get stressed out. I’m not sure if it’s thanks to years of freelancing (which as fun as it may seem from the outside, you have to put a lot of pressure on yourself, or at least I do, and I find it quite anxiety inducing). I had too many days when I just felt like I could only throw up my arms because I just felt I couldn’t adult anymore.

When times like that would hit me hard, it’d take digging deep and reminding myself of the good things I had going on through the year…

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I found better balance in my schedule this year. 2016 left me burnt out with 31 trips, so in 2017 I scaled back but still found myself stressed with being away from home too often. This year, I happily settled into a manageable balance between travel, work and life at home. I traveled nine times plus four road trips (and two same-day trips but those don’t really count, it’s the being away from home overnight that throws my schedule for a loop). Those trips included some favourites, such as Calgary and Banff and Chicago (three times!), and new destinations I’ve long had my list, including one epic drive down Highway 1 in California in a rare vintage Mercedes and the incredible Mexico City. I often had FOMO in the past about travel, but after steady travel for several years now and it being extremely draining, but now I know these amazing places in the world will always be there. It’s not worth sacrificing my sanity to flit around the world every other week. This year I felt much more relaxed and loved having time to take Billie Jean on hikes and to see friends.

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I made new friends and made time for existing friendships. About a year ago, out of the blue, I got a really sweet note from an acquaintance, because, kind and empathetic person that she is, she knew I was ruminating about an altercation she’d been witness to. I’d only met Tiffany a few times in real life on a couple of press trips, but we got to know each other well when I was coming to Calgary for work and she invited me to plan extra days and stay with her and her adorable family and we explored Banff and Canmore together (this part of Alberta is one of my most favourites of everywhere I’ve traveled). And she’s just as fun and awesome as I thought she’d be. In addition to new friends,  I spent more quality time with my old friends. From fun dining out excursions whenever I had a car to the very first solo trip with one of my best friends. Life often gets in the way for us to hang out together regularly but she was able to come along on a press trip with me in December to Miami for a cruise. I’m so happy we were able to spend that time together (plus it was on the Celebrity Edge cruise ship, which is a stunner; I’ll post about that soon).

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I worked with brands I’m thrilled to support. So real talk, this “influencer” world is a mega frustrating realm to work in. With people buying followers and likes or not being transparent, it’s not an equal playing field whatsoever so it can be aggravating. But it is incredibly rewarding when speaking to certain brands about partnerships and hearing how they perceive Health & Swellness and why they want to partner with me, and I see that they really get what I’ve created for my platform. This year included working with brands I’ve long been a fan of including Reebok, President’s Choice, Shoppers Drug Mart, YMCA, Clif Bar, Kind Snacks, to name just a few, plus press trips with Marriott. And let’s not forget Michelob Ultra; besides repping the brand and racing in their Night Race, I had a steady stock of beer all summer, so it was a good summer, cheers!

I started working with some great outlets and people. In addition to having more stability and routine in my life thanks to traveling less, I also started working with two brands on a more regular basis and the teams for both are very supportive and open to my ideas and they’re just a joy to work with. One is You Are UNLTD, a magazine and website focused on changing the convo when it comes to aging. Aging doesn’t mean shriveling up and all sadness, people! And the other is D’FYNE magazine, a fitness and lifestyle magazine for women 40+. I swear that working on that mag makes me want to work out more, these women are fit and so incredibly strong.

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I ran my 12th marathon and, oh yeah, I was on a Nike billboard. While I’m still chasing that elusive BQ, and this year I raced less than usual, I ran the Chicago Marathon for the third time and had a decent result considering I had an awful cold for the race. Despite that, that race weekend in the Windy City will forever be a running “career” highlight thanks to the fun Nike squad, the informative and fun activations I got to attend and yes, that Nike billboard of me on Michigan Avenue.

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Even now looking at this photo of me with the poster, it still doesn’t seem like real life.

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I had to say goodbye to my first fur kid, but my sweet animal kingdom continues to bond. I suffered a huge loss about six weeks ago: my cat Kobe passed away at home. He was 17 years old. Kobe was a chill cat, he minded his own business and wasn’t one to seek attention from other people but of all the pets, he was always the one who wanted the most snuggles from me. I adopted him 16 years ago, so he moved with my from uptown to the east end and to the west end and in that time had to welcome not only a tiny kitten but also a rescue dog into his household and has been there though many upheavals in my life. I wasn’t prepared for him to go, but can you ever be ready for that? I think of him daily, and my heart still feel broken (I think it always will). I miss his presence and loud snores very much.

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The other two nutballs, Mya and Billie Jean, are healthy and happy. Mya, since Kobe’s death, seeks much more affection and I love that she’ll often come to snooze beside me now. As for Billie Jean, she continues to adapt to life in the city. She’s much more curious about people in the park and is much quicker to trust people than she was before (even letting people she just meets to pet her). One of the best days this year is when I happened to track down puppy photos from her rescue home in the DR and learned about her origin story. The joy and delight she exudes gives my heart a lift every single day. You have to spend time with her to see what I mean. My bestie who adores Billie Jean has said she’s never met a dog like her, and that part of what makes Billie Jean so sweet and special is because she’s happy, she’s really happy. I won the lottery with my rescue pup and my two cats. Love you and miss you, Kobester.

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So what’s next for 2019…

I didn’t accomplish many things I wanted to in 2018; I didn’t have time to blog about things I’m passionate about as much as I wanted to from the start of the year; for several years now, I’ve been wanting to pick up my reading habit again (I used to read a book a week at least, but haven’t done that in forever). I don’t have a fully fleshed out list of goals, but working on this blog more and reading remain on that list.

I also would like to improve my health and fitness. This year, I came down with what felt like cold after cold. I’m writing this right now sniffling and tired, actually. Thankfully nothing more serious health-wise, but it’s not like me to be under the weather so often and so I need to improve my immunity; maybe just wash my hands a helluva lot more, and take vitamin C. Fitness-wise, I want this to be an epic running year, and I’ll soon be choosing a few key races for spring and fall. I also want to incorporate a little more variety into my workouts, and in fact have already started to by going Spinning, taking a few classes at Studio Lagree and meditating using the app Calm (a gift from partnering with Capital One).

2019 is a fresh start. I still have much to get in order but I’m feeling good about climbing out of this rut. Life is fleeting. Even before Kobe died, I knew his time was near and so I made an effort to dance around the living room with him more often and let him cuddle as long as he pleased even if it meant I was trapped sitting or lying down when I had shit to get done. Nowadays,  I tell Mya and Billie Jean how much I love them every day and smother them with affection, and reach out to friends more, even if it’s just a quick text to let them know I’m thinking of them. The year will fly by in a blink of an eye. So let’s learn lessons from this past year, move on and make the most of 2019.

Wishing you a safe and happy new year, whether that’s out partying or at home and asleep before midnight!

Karen xo

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P.S. Here’s my #2018BestNine. The Chicago Marathon figures prominently (I mean, being on a Nike billboard is effing epic!) plus a few travel photos (Miami and Bowen Island) made into my most liked posts. By no means reflective of my year or what my real everyday life is all about, but we all know how Instagram is, but definitely some great moments from the past year that have helped shaped me into who I am today.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Leave a Comment December 31, 2018

Healthy Swellness: 3 surprising heart facts you need to know if you have type 2 diabetes

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It was only in the last decade or so when I learned about the serious complications that can result from type 2 diabetes.

I had thought diabetes was something most people could manage and control with medication and by improving lifestyle habits, yet research studies have shown that 1 in 2 people who have type 2 diabetes will die from heart disease.

When coupled with the dramatic increase in the number of people being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes every year, especially among the Chinese Canadian population where the incidence of diabetes jumped 15-fold between 1996 and 2005, those numbers are devastating.

While I don’t personally have a family history of diabetes, we do have a family history of heart disease, and so I know it’s smart to focus on healthy lifestyle habits that reduce my risk factors for both – including keeping active and trying to manage my stress levels (which, for me, means getting out in nature to hike or run with my dog).

Chinese Canadians are at a much higher risk of a diabetes diagnosis than Canadians of European descent, due to a combination of genetics and lifestyle changes. When I think of the people I know who have type 2 diabetes, and that half of them may not live to see their kids grow up, or go on that dream vacation they’ve got on their bucket list, or even simply enjoy everyday things for many years to come, like going for a walk with their dog, it’s heartbreaking. Which is why I think it’s important that we raise awareness around the connection between diabetes and heart disease. It could save lives.

Three things you need to know about type 2 diabetes and heart health:

 

  1. Diabetes significantly increases your risk of dying of heart attack, stroke and heart failure. Although most people with diabetes feel they are knowledgeable about how to manage their diabetes, more than half are unaware of the impact their diabetes has on their risk of heart disease.
  2. Simply controlling your blood sugar levels may not be enough if you have a history of heart disease While it is a critical part of managing your diabetes, there are medications that, along with following a healthy diet and exercise, have been shown to lower your risk of dying from problems related to your heart and blood vessels.
  3. People with type 2 diabetes develop heart disease at an earlier age than those without diabetes. How much earlier? 10 to 15 years earlier than those who do not have type 2 diabetes.

 

 

All of which is to say that there is no better time than now to take managing your type 2 diabetes and heart health to the next level if you aren’t already, or to encourage the loved ones in your life to do so themselves.

You can learn more at myheartmatters.ca, where you’ll also find a useful risk assessment tool to help determine what your personal risk is when it comes to type 2 diabetes-related heart disease. The more you know now, the more you can do to improve your health and reduce those odds of heart disease.

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2 Comments November 22, 2018

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