modern woman show

Presence please as a new chapter begins

By Wendy Winiewski

It's been more than two years since the day we found out I was pregnant and 17 months since my daughter was born. I can comfortably say I was at peace with my body for nearly a year after her birth. Although I didn't conceive naturally I carried a pregnancy to term, easily recovered from a cesarean and kept my girl alive exclusively from my body for the first six months of her life through breastfeeding and just recently at more than 16 months of age, we finally had our final feeding.

 

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It's a job I've enjoyed. It was tough the first few months as I fed at her beckon call whether my tired body or aching boobs wanted me to or not. As the months have worn on breastfeeding became one of our favourite times of the day. After a long day of work for me and a long day of toddler-ing for her, it was our moment. The world slowed, our eyes would lock, her free hand felt smooth and light as a feather as it rubbed lovingly along my arm. I've spent the better part of 66 entire days feeding her according to my rough calculations. In our final months it would happen as naturally as most daily tasks. My lap and my legs knew exactly how to fold, my arms found their positioning and her baby body would slide into its spot like a hand in a pair of well worn gloves. Until her final day, we hadn't missed a single day since she was born. I appreciated our feedings as it's something my hypothalamic amenorrhea (HA) ridden body shouldn't even have been able to do. 

Uncertain if she will be the first and last baby I ever have, I hesitated to eliminate this bonding time, if it weren't for that lingering question that's been bouncing around in my brain increasingly in the past few months - "will my cycle return when I stop breastfeeding?" 

"Return" is an interesting concept to me. How can something that hasn't happened naturally for me in more than a decade "return"? I began taking oral contraceptives in 2007. My last 'natural' menstrual cycle would have been immediately before that. Somewhere in there my body lost its rhythm and I'm hoping that the surge of hormones produced during pregnancy, will have been enough to kick start my reproductive system. Nothing I've read scientifically proves this happens, but we've all heard the story about so and so's friend who conceived via reproductive technology then, voila, got pregnant with another child out of the blue. 

The pressure to have a second child is heavy. Not nearly as heavy as the pressure I put on myself and others put on me, to have a first child, but it's still heavy nonetheless. Realistically, it's the only reason I've eliminated breastfeeding. 

We're building a new house. It has three bedrooms on the second floor. It doesn't escape me that tradespeople we encounter during the building process refer to the bedrooms as "the kid's rooms". After-all, any true family has at least two children, right? Many of those within my circle of friends who had children around the time Aeralyn was born, are now pregnant with another. It doesn't escape me that I'm not. It doesn't escape me that I may never be. My cycle may not miraculously return. The remaining embryo, Aeralyn's sibling/twin, waiting for us at our clinic may not survive being thawed. I may not have it in me to go through infertility treatment again.

And so here I am, caught in this place where I wanted to hang onto these special moments with a child who is possibly my one and only, yet knowing I needed to move forward to explore whether we can have a second child.

While it's difficult to enjoy the present while feeling restless about the future, I have managed to do just that. I fully and wholeheartedly breathe her in every. single. day. I put my cell phone away, our television is off during her awake hours, I try to complete the majority of my daily tasks while she's napping, and this allows me to just be present with her. I'm present. It's something I struggled to achieve pror to Aeralyn's birth. It's something I still struggle with now in other elements of my life. Somehow though, I have found present-mindedness, with her.

This poem is one I read years ago:

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It's one I bring to mind often when my days seem busy or my girl is standing in the kitchen reaching up to be held with a book in hand and I have a list a mile long that needs to be completed. Before long I find myself sitting cross-legged on the kitchen floor with Aeralyn in my lap, food on the counters, and Old Mother Goose - nursery rhymes animatedly rolling from my mouth... because I never know when it will be the last time.

Her last time nursing is a moment I'm comfortable with. I've been weaning her ever so slowly since roughly eight months old. Eliminating feedings one at a time, and the last feeding, the one before bed literally being eliminated over the course of a month and a half getting progressively shorter each day. I breathed in the moment. My heart fluttered. My emotions came to my eyes but didn't spill over because I know the end of one journey means the beginning of the next.

Now a new journey begins, and that's the journey to growing our family. I hope to be present. Wish us luck...

A Modern Wedding: Lovestruck Favourites

Photo Credit- Lovestruck Portraits

Photo Credit- Lovestruck Portraits

We are very excited to present one of our sponsors this year, Lovestruck Portraits. Even though the company has only been around about two years, it's founder Chelsea Cameron has had her roots in the Saskatoon wedding market for over a decade. You may have heard of this company as Chelsea recently won an international wedding photography award. Her image became part of Wedaward’s collection 28, an award where thousands of photographers submitted their work from around the world. Lovestruck was also named runner up in the 2017 Planet S “Best of Saskatoon” under professional photographer. Chelsea isn’t just an amazing photographer, she is a mom, coffee lover, painter, ballet dancer and enjoys horseback riding in her free time.

 

Chelsea has had the photography bug since she was a little girl. When she was about 6 years old she received her first camera, it was small, orange and came from a McDonalds happy meal. Cut to a few years later and an upgraded camera she second shot weddings for a local photographer at age 16. Since then she’s done some traveling, shooting weddings in Jamaica, Oklahoma, Canmore, and various other Canadian cities. Now with over 200 weddings under her belt as a photographer and occasional event coordinator there isn’t much she hasn’t seen. You can check out her work at: www.lovestruckportraits.com and view some of our favourites throughout this blog!

 
 

With all Chelsea has done in the wedding industry she most certainly has a few favored vendors that she’s had the pleasure to work with. One of those vendors is also a sponsor of The Modern Woman Show- Hub City Rentals. They help create stunning displays and weddings for companies and brides all over Saskatoon. They have been in business for over 70 years, providing rentals, graphic design and so much more. If there is something you need there’s a good chance they will have it. They have a wide selection of furniture, wall drapes, audio and visual setups, and can accommodate for various cultural events. They are incredibly accommodating with all aspects of their business and work to make sure that everything is done right.

 
Hub City Display and Event Rentals

Hub City Display and Event Rentals

 
 
 

We asked Chelsea for a few other top picks of the wedding industry and here's what she had to say...

Black Fox Distillery. They have some of the most beautiful flowers and make bouquets year round, going so far as to arranging a corn husk bouquet for a winter wedding. One of the coolest things they do is open their doors a few times a year and have various festivals. Their pumpkin festival is a personal favorite filled with various pumpkin related activities and some of the most delicious pumpkin soup.

Cakes by Jen, hands down has to be one of the best bakers in the city. She is affordable and makes genuine works of art with every cake. If you have an idea for a cake you’d like made Jen will work with you to make it more than just an idea.

W Bridal is one of those places that truly cares about their customers, regardless of who they are, by far one of the best things about them is their variety of styles that come in all shapes and sizes.

Whiskey and Wildflowers is another newcomer to the wedding industry, but that doesn’t mean Kyle Burgess doesn’t have an eye for the craft and a talent in filmography. Kyle and Chelsea have worked many weddings together and cannot say a bad thing about the experience.

 
 

Final words of wisdom… Chelsea has a few things to mention to help make your wedding day just a little bit easier:

“Don’t sweat the small stuff, it’s a cliché, but it doesn’t make it any less true. Enjoy the day for what is going right, don’t hate it for what went wrong”

“Be sure to have someone act as a “gofer”, not the animal but have someone whose job it is to go and run for anything you might need, the less running around you have to do the better”

“Keep food in the limo, those snacks will come in handy when you are driving to locations and you need that little something to keep you going”

“Always have a comfortable pair of shoes on you, especially for that first dance. Your feet will thank you”

 

Come visit Chelsea and Lovestruck Portraits at The Modern Woman Show where they will be acting as the official photographers of the show. Stop by her booth to enter her draw and book a session for yourself.

 
 

Make Your 2018 Amazing with These Great Reads

Are you one of those people who sets New Year Resolutions? Or are you someone who knows yourself well enough to avoid making such a preposterous 365 day promise? Maybe you prefer bite-size goals so you set 30 day goals or three month goals. I have been both but, this year, I’m saying to hell with it. No New Year Resolutions for me. Bye, Felicia! This year is going to be about daily intentions and habits that will lead to a better year and, of course, a better life.

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If there’s one thing I learned in 2017 it was to basically stop everything I had been doing: stop seeking, stop dieting, stop punishing myself, stop the negative self-talk and stop planning for things beyond my control. This was not an easy task for a stubborn control freak like me. When I thought I had stopped those things, I stopped myself again and stopped some more.

Because of those 2017 lessons, this new year is about being present. Mindful. Grateful. Peaceful. And while I have a few small goals in mind, like paying down more of my student loan, I am not committing to anything that will stress me out. All of my intentions revolve around cultivating peace and presence. My 2018 is about daily mindfulness and habits that will ultimately lead to a better life. For instance, a daily gratitude practice and eating healthy are important to me. But I'm keeping it relaxed so it doesn't become a chore or a bombardment to my days.

Similarly, the undesirable self-care acts are on my radar as well. Saving money and budgeting with intention and mindfulness aren’t fun but will result in a better future for our family. 

My friends reading this are probably floored. I am usually the girl with 14 resolutions that have failed by April. I’m starting one workout while thinking about the next. I’m weighing what diet will be most effective for losing 20lbs. I'm also the one with the stack of bedside books on the self-help/personal development; the one constantly trying to change, grow and be better than I was the day before. I always feel crappy so I am the friend who’s trying on a new diet as often as I buy shampoo. I’ve tried paleo and keto and Whole30 and gluten-free AND dairy-free. I still feel crappy, despite all the restrictions, so I’m done! No more dieting!

This year is about tuning in and listening to my body. After my recurrent miscarriages (four in three years) I disconnected from my body. I subconsciously shut off that link because of the grief, guilt, shame, resentment and anger. Now, I am rebuilding that relationship by getting quiet with myself, listening inwardly and fulfilling my needs. If I crave chocolate, I’ll have a piece and enjoy - nay! - savour every single nibble. Lately, my body wants peanuts. A few months ago it was steamed broccoli. If we stop dieting and just listen, I truly believe our bodies will tell us what it needs and very rarely will it say a Big Mac with supersized fries and a fountain Coke. But, if it does occasionally, go for it with zero regrets! Move your body because it’s a beautiful vessel capable of running, jumping and floating. I am called to swimming and yoga lately and it feels so much better to exercise because I like to than to do a cardio workout because it’s a part of my scheduled fitness program.

I’m done body shaming and judging my body in the mirror. In fact, I’ve come to appreciate and love my body. I no longer feel shame for what it cannot do or what it looks like. I am grateful for my perfect working limbs and my curves, muscle, cellulite! All of it! Most of all, I am loving the woman who stares back at me. I’ve worked hard through reading, self-reflection, journalling, counselling, learning and so much more to become the person I am falling in love with today. I see a woman who is kind, thoughtful, funny and resilient. She’s also stubborn, short-tempered and a little self-righteous at times. She loves yoga and running and dislikes broken promises and flaky people. She is finally confident in her skin now. 

I need not seek externally for everything I was seeking was waiting deep within. It’s within you too.

I’ve read so many incredible books that have helped lead me to this point. Fall and winter 2017 were spent reading books that actually intrigued me and interested me rather than reading to change something about myself. Oddly enough (or, perhaps, not oddly if you are a Universe energy-loving type like myself), the few books I picked have actually been life changing.

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I feel so liberated and amazing, gliding into 2018 with small pieces of inner peace, an abundance of gratitude and a mantra to be present and mindful. I feel lighter now that I’m not weighed down by unobtainable goals, self-loathing and a diet. I feel freer not being attached to a fitness regime. I feel happy not having any New Year Resolutions.

I see now that the present moment is all that matters. How I want to be tomorrow is determined by what I do today, not what I did when I was 16 or what my mom said when I was 7.

I never thought I’d get to this point and I hope some of you want to know how you can get to this point, too. Maybe you hate your body or you have an ego the size of the moon. Maybe you have anxiety over the future that paralyses you from good decision-making skills. Perhaps you have a relationship with food that needs examining. Who knows?! But, if you’re still here reading this, I want to give you a few books that have literally CHANGED MY LIFE. If you like to read, read these. If you need a change of mindset, read these. If you want awesomely amazing things to happen each day, read these. If you want to love your body and release the death grip on food, well, you get it, read these:

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1.       Mastering Your Mean Girl: The No-BS Guide to Silencing Your Inner Critic and Becoming Wildly Weathly, Fabulously Healthy and Bursting With Love by Melissa Ambrosini

We all have that inner voice, that inner bitch. You know the one; the one who tells you are fat, ugly and stupid. The one that tells you you’re not good enough for the promotion or the one who tells you to stay home because nobody likes you. We all have it. Some of us are just better at silencing it than others. In Mastering Your Mean Girl, Ambrosini gives you tangible tools to overcome your Ego/Mean Girl and change the way you think. It’s light, funny, loving and gives you simple tools to help you squash the negative self-talk for good!  For instance, she asks you to make a gratitude list. That’s an instant connection to happiness. How can you be upset or angry when you’re thinking of your kitten, your warm bed, your partner’s kisses or your kid’s giggles? She asks you to write a letter to yourself dated one year from now. They’re simple tasks with big results and stunning clarity.

 

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2.       The Goddess Revolution: Make Peace with Food, Love Your Body and Reclaim Your Life by Melissa Wells

Every woman who has ever thought she was fat, been on diets, counted calories, or loathed what she saw in the mirror NEEDS to read this book. Mel Wells teaches you to tune into your body, to really listen and to appreciate it for what it is at this exact moment. She shares her own personal story and struggles with an eating disorder and how she’s overcome it. Using testimonies and “fitspiration”, you’ll fall in love with your body a million times over and kick diets to the curb once and for all! Using logic and love, she teaches you how to change your thoughts and stop judging yourself. She helps you heal your body image. If you love your body you will ultimately want to treat it right, right? So instead of restricting calories and denying yourself delicious meals, focus on what makes your body feel good and then do more of that!

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3.       Thank and Grow Rich by Pam Grout

Just thinking about this book gives me goosebumps. Since reading this book in early November my life has actually changed. Or rather, my perception has changed so, therefore, my life has changed. Grout shows you how incredible it is to be a living, thinking, miraculous human and how each day is a perfect day to be overwhelmingly grateful to be alive. She gives you tools (which she calls Party Games) to find the gratitude in EVERYTHING. She gives thanks for everything and everyone. Since I started doing the same, I’ve seen an increase in my skin care company, requests to do workshops, more visitors to my blog, an appreciation for everything, and a bubble of happiness that sits in the centre of my chest, waiting to bubble over and out, omitting love and laughter everywhere. Sounds cheesy, I know, but wow, her words are incredibly powerful and waking up to the divine existence in ourselves is even more powerful. She encourages you to wake up every morning and, before even getting out of bed, proclaim something awesomely amazing is going to happen that day. It’s a beautiful habit to adopt. It's actually one that my best friend and I are doing. We text each other every morning and share three things we're grateful for. It sets a good tone and vibration to start our days. An attitude of gratitude, for the good and the bad, is truly magical!

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4.       Dying To Be Me by Anita Moorjani

This is a book that will blow your mind. Moorjani, a woman riddled with cancer, falls into a coma and has an incredible near-death experience that actually heals the cancer that is killing her. Not only is her story a medical miracle and completely unbelievable, yet awe-inspring, but the wisdom and love she finds on the other side of the veil is poetic, romantic and beautiful. One thought she shares that sticks with me is: what if Heaven is Earth? We all strive for a Heaven above but, up there, you can’t taste chocolate or feel a hug. Maybe Heaven is here and we’re meant to be expressions of heavenly love. Isn’t that wonderful? Her words also give me great comfort in dying. I can honestly say (being a healthy woman so hey, this could easily change in the face of death) that I’m not afraid to die. She actually brought me peace with this inevitable fact. Death may not be as bad as I thought it was. It’s not religious but it’s deeply spiritual and life-affirming. Love, she says, is the answer. Always.

I hope you enjoy these incredible books and they make impactful impressions upon you like they did for me! Please let me know if you've read any of the above OR if you have any further recommendations to add! Which magical books are on your nightstand this January?

 

 

The Fabulously Unfit Girl's Guide To Health & Wellness: don't you put it in your mouth

Hey homies! For this post I teamed up with my pal Kalli Youngstrom of KY Fitness & Nutrition to chat about bullsh*t marketing when it comes to "healthy" foods. This is something that really cheezes me off, and I'm thrilled to be able to colloborate with Kalli to bring some awareness to some of the crap that is lurking on your grocery store shelves. Kalli is a Certified Personal Trainer, Weight Management Specialist, Nutritionist, and IFBB Pro. I, on the other hand, have absolutely no business telling you about what to eat and what not to eat, but I'm going to anyway. So listen up. 

How many times have you been wandering through the aisles, reading labels (like you've been told to) and chosen things because you can immediately recall the ad telling you the product is a healthy choice, or because that product has a bunch of things on the package that say "Trans Fat Free!", "High In Fiber!", "A Good Source Of Vitamin C!", or my personal fav... "GLUTEN FREE!" Contrary to what these claims would have you believe, you shouldn't necessarily shove these products in your piehole.

Everyone is trying to make good choices for themselves and their families, but its super hard when companies create ad campaigns for products that primarily serve to increase the buckaroos in their bank account, rather the health of their customers. 

OK...we all know sugar is the devil incarnate. This is not news. Too much sugar can cause all kinds of greebly sh*t to shake down in your body, and things will likely be bad news bears in the long run. 

What people don't realize is how MUCH sugar is in all these processed foods, along with the equivalent of Santa's naughty list of other crap lurking within. Kalli and I set out to comb the aisles for some of the worst offenders for brainwashing consumers. 

Activia Yogurt 

Kalli's Info: The marketing behind this product is to “Take the Activia challenge.” which is Activia twice a day for 2 weeks. I would recommend a non-sweetened alternative, which will provide you with the same (if not more) benefits in relation to gut health and help you steer clear of the 2 teaspoons of added sugar that is in each single serving yogurt. 2 yogurts a day = 4 teaspoons of sugar, not far from the recommended 6 maximum teaspoons by the American Heart Association. Opt for 2% plain Greek yogurt for more protein to keep you fuller longer. If you’re worried about added fiber top with flax or chia for fiber + healthy fat.

My 2 Cents: Activia challenge? Let me get this straight... they are challenging me to purchase enough product to eat their yogurt twice a day for two weeks? Clever. As much as I love being challenged to an eating dual, I'm gonna pass on this one. 

#thanksbutnothanks ... however, I do challenge you to try the "prune" flavour and not gag. 

#thanksbutnothanks ... however, I do challenge you to try the "prune" flavour and not gag. 

Light/Fat-Free Cool Whip

Kalli's Info: Marketed as a healthier alternative to traditional Cool Whip and whipped cream, the lack of dairy in this “whipped topping” is concerning. Not to mention the lack of almost any natural ingredients that are recognizable to the general consumer. Stick with whole foods that you and your body recognize. Indulge in some homemade whipping cream from time to time by whipping 33% cream with stevia and vanilla,  you’ll save on the added sugars and your body will thank you for avoiding the preservatives that keep this product “fresh for two weeks in the refrigerator.”

My 2 Cents: WTF is this stuff? I guarantee your great-granny wouldn't even be able to pronounce the things in this, let alone would have ever used them in her delicious cooking. This product is an awesome option for anyone looking to incorporate a variety of jacked up ingredients in their diet. 

Beef Jerky

Kalli's Info: A “healthy” grab and go as a quick and easy protein source, but with more sugar than protein in the majority of store bought jerky, the consumer may not be getting what they’re paying for. Double check the serving size as often the serving size in comparison to the package can be misleading. If you’re reaching for an easy protein filled snack for the road opt for a jerky with no sugar added, make your own at home, or opt for an alternative like hardboiled eggs or sugar free protein bars. 

My 2 Cents: Dagnabbit, I am guilty of believing this was a good grab and go. Fake news. Might as well dump some syrup on your steak. Find a friend who shops at Cabela's. They likely think making jerky is fun and you can get it from them. 

Vitamin Water

Kalli's Info: With the second ingredient listed being sugar, it’s no surprise that one bottle of this “vitamin enhanced” beverage comes in at 32 g of sugar. For comparison, a can of Coke comes in at 39. With no fat, fiber, or protein in this drink, one bottle of this will likely cause a quick spike in blood sugar leaving the customer hungry and tired soon after. Get your vitamins through whole foods that will keep you satisfied longer, naturally include the fiber you need for beneficial digestion, and if you need to supplement use a multi-vitamin without added sugar in it. 

My 2 Cents: Some assh*ole came up with a way to sell sugar water to people and make them think they are doing a big healthy. Genius... and horrible. Don't touch this. 

Yessss... I've always wanted a way to justify chugging Kool-aid as an adult!!

Yessss... I've always wanted a way to justify chugging Kool-aid as an adult!!

Coconut Oil Cooking Spray

Kalli's Info: Most would be surprised to see the bottle with the label “100% coconut oil” also includes isobutane and propane on the label. Although these are “normal” additives in cooking sprays, avoid the propane and use 100% cooking oil out of the jar, or search for a label that has only 1 ingredient, coconut oil. 

My 2 Cents: Save the propane for your BBQ and buy a non-stick pan. Good news! You can also just put some regular coconut oil in the pan if you want to. 

Fruit + Veggies Juice

Kalli's Info: Although there is no added sugar in the fruit and veggie juice on the grocery store shelf, a small serving of this juice contains 25 grams of sugar and only 2 grams of fiber. It’s recommended that you opt for whole fruits and veggies instead. The natural fiber that is in fruits and vegetables add many health benefits, along with keeping your hunger at bay. A fruit and veggie juice with no fiber is likely to have the opposite effect, quickly spiking your blood sugar and leaving you hungry soon after. 

My 2 Cents: An evil genius devised a way to market "healthy" sugar water to, what I would bet, primarily moms trying to feed their kids their more fruits and veggies. The worst kind of assh*le marketing. Boourns. 

Apparently "plus veggies" means inserting a picture of a carrot on every bottle... *eyeroll emoji*

Apparently "plus veggies" means inserting a picture of a carrot on every bottle... *eyeroll emoji*

Protein Bars

Kalli's Info: With more carbohydrates than protein in almost all of the bars on the normal grocery store shelf, many of these bars include as much added sugar as a chocolate bar and are better to be swapped for a sugar-free version. There are many options on the market, such as Quest bars, that include sugar free options... some even being naturally sweetened if you prefer to avoid artificial sweeteners. Read the label and ensure that you’re getting more protein than carbohydrate and steer clear of added sugars. 

My 2 Cents: Might as well buy a Snickers. 

Special K Nourish

Kalli's Info:  Marketed as “Simply good, no artificial flavors or colors.” and “A high source of fiber.” High is a relative term, with most people needing around 25-30 grams of fiber today, 4 grams of fiber per serving is a long way from a daily recommended intake. With 43 grams of carbs and about 7 different types of sugar listed in the ingredient list I would recommend starting your day with a more natural carbohydrate source that will keep you fuller longer and keep your blood sugar down. Remember when reading cereal boxes that the listed serving size is likely not what goes in your bowl. Try weighing out a serving v.s. eye balling it and see if you’re eating more than you really know.

My 2 Cents: This sh*t is the worst. "Nourish" yourself with a big ol' bowl of all the sugar in town. Except don't.

Because... quinoa. 

Because... quinoa. 

Green Goddess Juice

Kalli's Info: With a title and visual emphasis on green, its surprising to note that the first 4 types of juices included in this green juice are actually fruit juices, some of the fruits most naturally rich in sugar out there, such as pineapples, banana, and mango. Although there are beneficial vitamins and nutrients in the juice and more “green” ingredients listed towards the very end of the label, 250 calories and 50 g of sugar would be much more satiating and appetite suppressing in the form of whole foods. Get your greens in a salad or make your own green juice with greens being the main ingredient. 

My 2 Cents: 50g of liquid sugar does not a Goddess make. Big no nos. 

Olive Oil Mayonnaise

Kalli's Info: Although there is olive oil in the mayo, its not the only oil included. Avoid the added inflammatory oils and make your own mayo using whole eggs, olive or avocado oil, and lemon. Did you know that most mayos have sugar added as well? The second ingredient in this mayo is sugar. 

My 2 Cents: There are lots of surprises in this mystery goop. Olive oil is a good time, but this is not. 

Fiber One Bars

Kalli's Info: With sugar as the first ingredient and sugar listed in a variety of forms at least 8 times on these fiber focused bars I recommend getting your fiber from a better source. The beauty of whole natural foods is that they naturally include the fiber your body needs! We shouldn’t have to add fiber to our foods. 100 calories from your favorite fruits and veggies can add the 5 g of fiber that these bars do while avoiding the laundry list of sugars and unrecognizable ingredients. 

My 2 Cents: Might as well eat some oreos wash them down with a tiny bit of your grandpa's metuamucil. Sorry folks. 

Now BIGGER chocolate chips!!! #healthy

Now BIGGER chocolate chips!!! #healthy

So there you have it. The sad thing is, we could have gone on all day with this!! There is so much garbage out there geared toward getting you to spend your money on things that are supposed to benefit your health. IT'S NOT YOUR FAULT!! We rely on companies to provide accurate information to us, but unfortunately its rarely the case. Business is business, and business doesn't always have the consumer's best interest at heart. We've all been duped by marketing time and again. (I had a Slap Chop, how 'bout you??)

When I shop, with a few exceptions, I try to stick to the perimeter of the store. I'm sure you've heard that a million times, but its still the best advice out there. With boxes and boxes of things that can live on the shelf well beyond the zombie apocalypse, it's best to stick to stuff you can pronounce, and that your old-timey granny would likely approve of. 

When in doubt, talk to a professional... and by professional, I don't mean consulting the Google Machine to read a plethora of god-knows-what articles written by various interweb "doctors". Find a real life doctor, nutritionist, naturopath, or health coach and make sure they have some edumacation. 

We are thrilled to have Kalli holding a sold-out workshop at The Modern Woman Show & Exhibition this year. There are gifts in the door-crasher AND fashion show swag bags from her so make sure to get there early and check it out. Also, did I mention you can see her strutting her stuff during The Runway fashion show as a model? Pick up your VIP tickets to the fashion show at www.modernwomansaskatoon.com! See all the spring styles at Prairieland Park on April 22 at 6:30pm. Hosted by Chantel Saunders and DJ Kush, its sure to be a great time! 

Until next time, my fellow Modern Women, don't let the marketing campaigns dupe you, and don't you put those icky products in your mouth!
Katie xoxo


 

Train the Mane: How to de-grease those lovely locks

Today I have started my challenge. It's the no washing my hair challenge....

I will fully admit it. I'm a shower junky. I love Love LOVE a warm soak and this includes sudsing up the hair every single day. When friends comment that they only wash their hair every 3-7 days I just don't understand how this could be possible?? My hair is blonde, fine, and thin. When the alarm clock goes off it's straight into the shower to tame what has become a greasy rats nest perched on the top of my head. I have never lasted more than 24 hours (unless trapped at the lake or in a tent) with a greasy mop. I asked the ladies at Visions Salon and Spa for some direction in hopes of training the mane.

Skye: When transitioning to washing less often, the first thing you will feel is that your hair looks oily/wet, and feels a bit grimey/dirty. You will miss the freshly washed feeling!! I always at this point grab my dry shampoo first.

This is exactly my problem...I look like I just got out of a hot yoga class every morning. Someone could sneeze and the moisture will flatten my do. I decided to try this on a weekend....no one needs to see day one and if I follow Skye's tips I will be bouncing into the next week with my grease free flow. 

Skye: Now, I know many of my brunette ladies may struggle with the powdery consistency and colour of many dry shampoos. This is why I always recommend a talc-free product such as the Surface Trinity Dry Shampoo ($27.30 at Visions Salon & Spa). It cleanses the hair with the disinfecting properties of lemon, and absorbs oil with an ingredient called Zeolite that actually comes from volcanic ash!!! It will not dry out your hair of its natural oils as talc-based dry shampoos will that actually cause you to produce even MORE oil!! It respects your body's natural production of oil, allowing you to ween yourself off of the daily wash, while also being COMPLETELY invisible in colour!!

I have purchased dry shampoo in the past with little knowledge about the ingredients or the how to's. Skye's advice makes total sense. If you keep drying your hair out your body will want to produce more oil which is why i'm on this hamster wheel in the first place. 

Skye's How to Dry Shampoo: It is best used by picking up small pieces around your part and front hairline, as well as the crown of your head, and using short spritzes of product holding the nozzle about 6-8 inches away from your scalp. This will allow the product to disperse evenly throughout your exposed oily areas, and you will get the best absorption of oil!! Then let it sit for a few minutes, maybe apply your makeup or something, incorporating it into your morning routine. Once it has sat for 3-5 minutes, it will have had the opportunity to absorb the oil. Use a hairbrush to brush the product through.

You will feel clean, freshened up, AND you'll have a beautiful boost of a NON-lingering, naturally derived fresh citrus scent, with no powdery residue.  

Skye's Style Tip: Another thing I love to do when my hair is feeling oily and dirty, is after I've freshened up with my dry shampoo, playing around with braids or different fun styles. At first, it can feel challenging and difficult, but with practice, you will be a master at braiding! Braids or twists are particularly wonderful for dirty hair because they are beautiful and look intricate, distracting the eye from your dirty hair. I like to add a few clip-in extensions to enhance my braids and make them look much thicker. Adding dry shampoo or the Surface Push Powder ($31.45) to your hair is an awesome way to gain a bit of texture to help you create that thick, messy look without it slipping apart throughout the day! If braiding is not your thing, pull your hair into a low messy bun with a few pieces framing the face, or do a classic top-knot!! Look through Pinterest or YouTube to find some fun styles to distract you from running your fingers through your hair throughout the day. Our hands produce a lot of oil and will cause your hair to feel more oily the more you touch it. It's always fun to add some hair accessories. Hats, clips, headbands and scarves.

On day two I reference some great braid tutorials from Lauren Conrad's blog. WOW!! this is the hair how-to gold mine. Step by step instructions on buns, messy top knots, easy braids, and everything in between to keep me looking like I have just been to the stylist. 

Skye knows: Play around and find something that makes YOU feel beautiful. Before you know it, you will have gorgeous healthy locks that can go 2-3 days or even LONGER without washing. Good luck everyone! Remember that investing in good products with good ingredients is the key to having healthy, happy hair!! Always feel free to pop into Visions Salon & Spa here in Saskatoon. All of our staff are highly trained in Surface hair care, an organic line filled with ingredients that respect both your health and the earth. They will always be able to answer any questions you have and give you a prescription of products tailored to your unique head of hair!!  

-Skye Ukrainetz, Hairstylist and Nail Technician at Visions Salon & Spa.

THANK YOU SKYE!!! I'm on day three and can't wait to brag to my friends how I haven't washed my hair in days and can show off all my new hair styles. Visions Salon and Spa will be showing off their work as a hair sponsor for the upcoming Runway Fashion Show on Saturday April 22nd at the Modern Woman Show & Expo. For more information on VIP tickets click HERE......we happen to know that there is a complimentary blow-out gift certificate from Visions is in those swag bags ;)

Increase Productivity: 8 Tips from a Happy Driver

About six months ago I walked into the office at 7:45 am as usual, set my things down, unpacked my full lunch kit into the mini fridge and settled down at my desk ready, alert and excited to start my day. This is my best time: between the hours of 7:45 am and about 3:45 pm I am the most alert, productive and efficient in my workday. This is my normal.

A co-worker approaches me and says “Mandi, I always notice you are full of energy from the start of your day to the end!” I feel it too, though truth be told, from 3:45 pm until 5:30 pm when I leave, I am putting in more effort to be “energetic” to say the least. Due to my 4:45 am wakeup call, by late in the afternoon, I am losing steam. At least I am faking it well.

Said co-worker then proceeded to ask for my advice on staying energetic, how to increase productivity and stay organized during my fairly hectic workday. Those who work in the technology space can relate. Especially those in the start-up/fairly new environment—think 50-200 employees. My role can have me working with several different teams and departments all within one workday, and it involves a lot of time management, quick thinking and the ability to be a chameleon depending on the role I am filling at any given moment. He proceeded to explain that he wanted some advice on how I stay focused, patient and fairly low stress while maintaining a full workload and then some.

8 Tips to Increase Productivity

His question made me step back and really think. He wanted my advice? What kind of wisdom could I bestow that would be anything new or life changing? Well, to start with, I guess I could review what a typical “day in my life” looked like and pull some key habits/consistencies in my days. Here is what I found:

1. Sweat everyday

Or at least most days, before the work day begins. A bootcamp, bike ride, run, yoga, traditional weights, etc. I take in whatever fits my week, and most importantly, what I enjoy. If I am bored, I change it up. I rarely do the same thing for weeks on end, or even day-to-day for that matter. This keeps my morning sweat session something I look forward to, even when the sleep fairies tell me it’s far too early to get up.

2. Take the thought of what to eat out of the equation

I buy lots of groceries Sunday, and plan/prep for the busy week. Filling my fridge with lots of variety of both healthy and more fun foods allows for me to be hassle free when it comes to food during the week. Each evening I pack my food for the entire next day, and bring it with me when I am rushing out at 5:30 am. Eating fresh variations of foods keeps me feeling alert, awake, energized and ready to tackle the hectic meeting-filled, task-filled days that working somewhere as fast growing as Vendasta.

3. Shutdown and read 

Each night I shut down all technology approximately one hour before I would ideally like to be asleep. This includes TV, laptop, cell phone, iPad—any screen that has a back light. I pick up a book every evening. And no, this isn’t always a professional development book—sometimes this is something embarrassing like Harry Potter, or another easy read. The point is that I read from something that requires a lamp and turning pages, not touching a screen. This ensures I am alert and ready to be fully connected each day at work, which in the software as a service space is crucial. Laptop, headset, smart phone all in hand for the entire day can be exhausting if you do the same when you arrive home each night. Expand your knowledge and borrow a book from someone you look up to, or that is your mentor, and you can mix-up your nightly reading to ensure that you are having fun but also maybe improving your productivity at the same time!

4. Sleep

This one ties nicely into number three. Reading will ensure you actually fall asleep quicker and remain asleep (i.e. you didn’t leave Jimmy Fallon on in the background to jolt you awake mid dream). Adequate sleep is something I neglected in my early twenties, though I realized its importance a few years ago. It’s surprising how much of an effect an inadequate amount of sleep can have on my ability to juggle a fast paced, partner-centric day; just the kind of day that is certainly waiting for me when I arrive at Vendasta HQ. Our partners are in various different time zones, so when you are groggy at 8 am and yawn as I pick up my headset, they will hear it and likely not have the world class service Vendasta is known to provide. My goal is to get a minimum of seven hours of sleep per night with no background noise, other than my sleeping dachshund puppy snoring alongside me.

5. Cutback on the digital communication

At one point I was using Trello, Evernote, Google Calendar, email, Slack and Pivotal Tracker. While trying to stay “organized” I was overwhelmed and scattered with overuse of technology. Gasp! She works in a SaaS based company and wants to avoid technology?! False: I want to utilize it effectively. Find a few apps that will work best for you to stay organized. Further, keep it simple and try and use something that the majority of your co-workers use to streamline your correspondence. The best perk of using the same tools as your coworkers is that you can get great tips on how to best use them. Be consistent with these select apps. Find what’s going to work best for you and stick with it. At least until the “next best” app is released, and then of course test it, try it, critique it. We are in this agile space for a reason!

6. Win list

Daily in my preferred app/calendar, I create a quick daily “wins” list—a few items that I know I can complete that day and feel like I am winning. This is a big one. Often times, depending on your role, in the software space you are tasked with things that will take time, several iterations, collaborations and, frankly, fail more times than they are successful. Process changes, busy customers, feature requests, software bugs and the list continues. These hiccups can throw curve balls into getting things fully accomplished in any given workday. Having a quick wins list allows you to feel like you are being productive and getting ahead. Often this list flows into your “slower wins” list, and makes you a better contributing member of the workplace.

7. Take a tech timeout

In a perfect world we would all get our lunch break and leave work at a decent time to have a “balanced” work-life pendulum. Sorry in advance for bursting this oh-so-nice dream that is pushed in every health magazine on the stands. Here is a reality check: if you ask most successful, career-centric individuals at all levels, they will admit that they are not always “balanced.” When their career is thriving their personal life may suffer (if even slightly) and vice versa.

In order to make the best of this reality instead of looking at this in a pessimistic frame of mind, I choose to both love my job and take a hot second (sometimes literally I need some summer air/heat) to reset, refresh and get back at it! So, yes you may miss lunch trying to stay ahead of your growing list of to-dos, and yes you may work past 5 pm sometimes, but that doesn’t mean you can’t take a time out. The wonderful world of most SaaS based companies, or at least ours, provides a culture and environment conducive to work hard, play hard environment. Take a break at a non traditional time, maybe in your day it’s slower at 9 am and super busy at 5 pm. Take a 15 min break at 9 am and go for a short walk around the block, play a game of ping pong, find a quiet corner and read something interesting or just sit quietly with some music and a cup of joe.

8. Bus driver mindset

No, I am not going to give you advice on meditating or some life changing never heard before tidbit on how to be positive but here are the facts. You drive your own metaphorical life bus. You choose your direction each and every day. You can choose to view every hiccup, bug, change in process, upset partner and empty coffee pot as a massive traffic accident, or you can choose to thrive and appreciate all the things working in this unique, culturally charged environment provides. Take each growing pain as an opportunity to never feel stagnant or bored. You get to come to work each day and learn something new, improve a customer’s experience, improve workflow and, gasp, maybe even contribute to a future BIG thing. Do you want to just drive the same route with zero change, zero obstacles every day for ever? If your destiny includes driving several different models and all different speeds, then get your seat belt on and navigate your way holding onto an (almost) always positive mindset!

These were just a few things I shared with my fellow Vendastian. I quickly realized that while these things all seem simple and obvious to me, they are not so obvious for others, and it’s valuable to share productivity hacks with others. Vendasta is big on promoting a healthy workplace culture, and the daily habits of our executive feed into that, as well as the habits of all Vendastians. I hope that some of my daily habits can help any of you out there feeling stressed, overwhelmed, tired and unproductive in your bustling agency, software company or any demanding workplace you may be a part of.

Mandi

*Amazing things are happening at Modern Woman Show & Expo in 2017. Stay tuned for more information on new features at the event, including two workshops facilitated by Steve Kushman. We will be focusing on the development of Goal Setting for young females and an mentor-ship program for inspiring women in business. #atradeshowwithpurpose

Here We Go! Welcome to the 2017 Modern Woman Show

Oh, how i love the holidays! It's a time where we feel the delight in giving - offering love and togetherness and of course, a few beautifully wrapped gifts under the tree.  Some of the most recurring themes of the holidays include family gatherings, overloading on food & beverages, and certainly feeling the fury of crowded malls. It is also a theme among us at Modern Woman that a New Year and SHOW is upon us.

When the team at Modern Woman started to plan the 2017 'season' (back in July....)we wanted to focus on the continued development of the show encompassing our forever motto -"inspire strong, confident women with an appetite for adventure and a passion for life." We have brought back the anticipated spring fashion show, with increased seating for those that were not able to snag a ticket. Our partnerships with local businesses has flourished to include a mentorship opportunity for one lucky winner - Click here for details on Our Modern Hustle.

In keeping with our values as supportive women entrepreneurs, we added new areas to the event including The Marketplace & Learn n' Shop. Local crafters and artisans have a farmer's market style area in the middle of our busy trade-show to showcase the intricate items that they are so passionate to share with us. The Learn n' Shop has already become such a success with interactive class options within the event. *SPOILER ALERT* We are tickled pink about having Paint Nite, Lead Pilates, and Ryde YXE among just a few of the classes that will be offered. New and exciting opportunities for businesses and attendees will continue rolling out over the course of the next couple months. 

As you may have noticed our website and blog has also seen a makeover in the last week.  I'm so excited to have our bloggers write some more 'hot topic' posts, focusing on issues that not only effect each of our personal lives, but often hit the hearts and homes of people in our community.  We will be featuring themed posts in series including The Fabulously Unfit Girl's Guide To Health & Wellness, I'm a Modern Woman - a look at local women entrepreneurs, and we will be sure to keep you updated on all thing Modern Woman.

From all of us at The Modern Woman - may the season find you among those you love, sharing in generosity and gratitude. We hope to see you in April!

Chantal xoxo