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Don’t make these 5 New Year’s health resolutions

Chatelaine | posted Thursday, Jan 7th, 2016

Next year, say no to detoxes and yes to weight training

It’s that time again: You’ve gorged yourself on the wings and legs of every festive bird in sight and are now more than ready to engage in the ritualistic fitness and nutrition snapback prompted by a change in the calendar. While there’s nothing wrong with committing yourself to a more balanced, less bonbon-heavy lifestyle — and there’s certainly something seductive in a “new year, new you” mentality — there are just some health resolutions we should resolve ourselves not to try.

“This year, I promise to finally give that teatox a try.”

No, no, no! Jan. 1 is the day we are easily the most vulnerable to fad diets and detoxes, but stay strong. We’re talking about alkaline diets, juicing, and other deprivation schemes disguised as “cleanses.” In particular, “teatoxes,” which supplement a low-calorie diet with large amounts of herbal tea, can have a devastating effect, not only on your sanity, but on your bowels (sorry). Most teatox packs include senna, which can cause diarrhea, dehydration, electrolyte imbalances, and even heart irregularities. Anyway, isn’t tea supposed to be relaxing?

“This year, I promise to adopt an intense, all-cardio fitness regimen.”

Go ahead, get your blood pumping. But remember to make time for lower impact exercises, like walking. Not only is going for a stroll a potent calorie burner, but it also fights depression and can actually increase the size of your brain. Same goes for weight training, which is especially important in aging women to guard against osteoporosis.

“This year, I promise to finally cut out cheese [or bread or any other life-affirming food].”

For some (most) people, the idea of eliminating dairy or sweet, sweet sugar is a punishment tantamount to death. Dramatic? Maybe. But if you’re looking to give your diet a cheese-less makeover, most experts recommend avoiding the deprivation mindset entirely. Instead, resolve to add more water, whole grains and leafy greens to your diet. A simple yet effective mental switcheroo that gives your new nutritional outlook some staying power.

“This year, I promise to move my entire exercise regime into the comfort of my own home.”

We get why you’d want to avoid the frustrated and sweaty January gym masses. And, being Canadians, we are also plenty aware of the frigid hellscape that is winter. Still, outdoor exercise is a game-changer; it can boost your happiness and even contribute to a better night’s sleep. If you’re feeling particularly adventurous, take advantage of our country’s very attractive landscape and try snowshoeing.

“This year, I promise to avoid the frozen food aisle.”

Surprise! The quick convenience of the frozen-food section makes it seem like it would be a vitamin deadzone, but broccoli, chickpeas and blueberries on ice are actually quite high in antioxidants, protein and, yes, vitamin . C. Looks like you learn something new every year.

City to air Maclean’s town hall with Justin Trudeau today

Maclean's | posted Wednesday, Dec 16th, 2015

Maclean’s year-end interview with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will take place in a live town hall broadcast to Canadians live on City and streaming on CityNews.ca.

“The last time Justin Trudeau visited Maclean’s, five months ago, his party was in third place in the polls and I asked all the questions,” says Paul Wells, Maclean’s political editor. “Now he’s the Prime Minister and we’re inviting Canadians to ask their own questions, on the issues they’re concerned about.”

The Maclean’s Town Hall with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will be held at Ottawa’s National Arts Centre on Wednesday, Dec. 16 at 2 p.m. ET in front of a live audience.

The one-hour event will begin with questions for the PM from journalists Paul Wells (Maclean’s), Rachel Giese (Chatelaine) and Alec Castonguay (L’actualité). Then the Prime Minister will take questions from a live studio audience, from Facebook and from Twitter. See details below for how to submit a question.

Neither the Prime Minister nor his staff will not see any of the questions in advance.

The town hall will be carried live, commercial free, on City, Macleans.ca, OMNI 1 in Italian, OMNI 2 in Mandarin, Rogers TV (in Ontario, New Brunswick and Newfoundland), CPAC, and CPAC.ca at 2 p.m. ET. Later that evening, City, OMNI 1 in Italian, OMNI 2 in Mandarin, Rogers TV and CPAC will broadcast an encore presentation of the Town Hall, commercial free, at 7 p.m. ET/PT (check local listings).

Send your questions on Twitter using the hashtag #mactownhall, or find us on Facebook.

Should kids write thank-you cards for holiday gifts?

Sasha Emmons and Chad Sapieha | posted Thursday, Dec 10th, 2015

“Yes”
Sasha Emmons, Mom of two

Ah, the holidays. A time of peace on Earth, good will toward men…and total, unmitigated greed. I love hanging with family and having an excuse to eat cookies, but I could do without the raging case of the gimmes my kids, Chloe, 10, and Julian, 6, come down with every single year, as toy catalogues and TV ads convince them the big guy in red’s there to shower them with whatever their hearts desire. And that’s just the Santa gifts. As the only little kids on my husband’s side of the family, by Christmas morning they’re drowning in packages from relatives.

The antidote to all this stuff-itis is to make them write thank-you notes. Shopping for, wrapping and delivering a present requires effort, and I think it should be acknowledged with a little effort in return. My family is spread across the US, and in some cases this gift and note exchange is the kids’ only tangible touch point with far-flung relatives. I know it’s a bit schoolmarmish of me to cling to this old-fashioned custom, but in this screen-centric world, where it’s hard to get kids to look up long enough to even have a conversation, I worry about my kids losing old-school manners. And recognizing thoughtfulness never goes out of style.

Now before you let years of unwritten thank-you notes haunt you, know that I’m right there with you. We start strong, ticking names off the list and signing adorably scrawly signatures. But a few notes in, the kids and I start to butt heads. They hate sitting and thinking of what to say, and I hate sitting and making them do it. Before long, we’ve lost the list of who gave what, and too much time has passed for my feeble mom brain to piece it back together. (To anyone reading this who’s owed a thank-you note, I want you to know we loved the gift and appreciate you thinking of us.)

So should kids write thank-you notes? Yes. Do mine? A few make it into the post and hopefully make someone’s day. And this year I’ll be asking Santa to give me and them the perseverance to finish them all.

“No”
Chad Sapieha, Dad of one

My wife, Kristy, is a wonderful woman with boundless social grace and the best of intentions. So it came as no surprise when she decided a few years ago that our daughter, then around four or five, ought to send a thank-you card for every Christmas gift she received. Kristy purchased multiple packages of cute cards upon which our little girl was to scrawl her name and whatever semblance of gratefulness she might manage.

This proved challenging. We have a ton of friends and family, so our daughter receives a lot of gifts. Writing notes of thanks for all of them is time-consuming. Getting our daughter to do it required multiple sessions over several days, each one an exercise in frustration.

It hasn’t gotten any easier. Turns out fourth graders have as little interest in sitting down for an hour to write polite missives as kindergartners do. Go figure.

But Kristy refuses to give up. Each year she buys more cards. And each spring, I reach to the bottom of our overflowing stationary basket, grab the oldest cards and dump them into the recycling bin. It’s like tossing last week’s produce to make room for the new: expensive and wasteful.

Look, thank-you cards are wonderful in principle. They teach kids to express gratitude and they help improve their penmanship. But they’re just not practical. Why not just text the gift giver a picture of your kid opening the present? Better still, Skype or FaceTime the moment. These alternatives are quicker, cheaper and more memorable.

The simple truth is that you can’t dictate gratitude. When you receive a thank-you card from a kid, you have no idea if he was actually grateful. Reading the note, you probably don’t think, What a thoughtful and considerate child! You think, What thoughtful and considerate parents.

I’m not into these social shenanigans. I’d rather spend the time wasted on thank-you cards building a Boxing Day snowman with my daughter.

A version of this article appeared in our December 2015 issue with the headline “Should kids write thank-you cards for holiday gifts?” p. 104.

Read more:
How to raise an appreciative child>
Teach your kids to appear grateful (even if they aren’t)>
How to avoid spoiling kids at Christmas>

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