Diary of Diva: From Fires to Mt. Kilimanjaro

bio pic

Image by Lars Paronen

I am a full-time firefighter in Ontario, Canada. I love to be outside mountain biking, hiking, snowboarding and also love to rock climb and do yoga. I am very active and have always had issues with tampons leaking when doing activities or at work.

My one most embarrassing moment was about 14 years ago on the fire ground when I had just started as a volunteer fire fighter and we had a huge barn fire. Of course I was excited to get into action and do my job, but unfortunately I had nowhere to “change” when it was time. So being new I was really embarrassed about asking to go back to the fire hall to help change the empty cylinders of air just so that I could replace my tampon (which I didn’t carry on me in my bunker gear and later learned to be more prepared). I had to say to my captain that I had a “girl issue” so he would let me go.

Fast forward a few years ago when it all changed for the better. Our Fire Department in Waterloo hosted a Female Firefighter Conference, and The DivaCup was there as a sponsor with a booth educating us about the benefits of menstrual cups. I talked to a fellow firefighter who already used The DivaCup and she only had amazing things to say about it. I remember being in awe when she said that she could leave it in for 12 hours. She assured me it was the best thing ever!

mountainclimbI had to try it!

With our job, not knowing when the next call will come and having something that you can trust for an unknown amount of time is priceless. It’s just one less thing you have to worry about at a call. Once I tried it, and after getting used to it for a few months, I never went back to tampons and have never had to worry again about leakage.

Such a great feeling!!

Just recently I climbed and summited Mt. Kilimanjaro, and wouldn’t you know it day one of my seven day trek, my period came! But of course I was prepared with The DivaCup on hand and was confident that it would still be the best trip of my life to date. It was refreshing to know I could trek all day and not have to worry about anything with full confidence. The porters on my trek always said: Hakuna Matata, which means no worries, they were right in so many ways.

Supporting local businesses is also very important to me so it was great to know that The DivaCup was a local company in my community. Being an outdoor enthusiast and caring about our environment, it’s nice to know that that I am creating less waste as well.

I want to thank Diva International Inc. (makers of The DivaCup) for allowing women to be able to be confident at the time of the month in anything they pursue. Diva International Inc. is an amazing company that gives back to organizations around the world. I volunteer as a Board of Director for a Not for Profit organization called Mom2Mom Africa and Diva International Inc. has helped support us financially as well as given us cups for some of our girls in TZ.

Thanks again! I hope I have inspired someone to give The DivaCup a try. Trust me you won’t regret it!

 

mom2momJoanne M.

Joanne lives in Collingwood, ON with her husband and daughter. She is a fulltime firefighter in Waterloo and a board member of Mom2Mom Africa. She is an avid outdoor enthusiast who loves camping, rock climbing, snowboarding, moutain biking, hiking and yoga. Joanne (and friend Laura Bender) recently summited Mt. Kilimanjaro, raising money to build a well for children of Arusha, TZ that Mom2Mom Africa support.

 

Every Diva Needs a Little Hot Chocolate When on her Period!

HOT-CHOCOLATE-How are you feeling Divas? This time of year you might be a little cold, or maybe this time of the month you might have some cramps and bloating. Well, we are here to give you the perfect comfort drink, HOT CHOCOLATE! Hot chocolate is our drink of choice this time of year because it’s rich, creamy, warm and luxurious. Not only is hot chocolate the perfect drink to pick you up when you’re feeling down, or warm you up when you’re just really cold, but it can also help when you are on your period. Now, we aren’t saying hot chocolate is the new miracle cure but there are certain recipes that you can try that could work as a great pick me up!

 

So, what can hot chocolate do for you? It turns out a lot actually. The chocolate used, and we mean real chocolate, can reduce stress, boost your mood and energy, improve your skin and reduce the pain of cramps. This is due to the essential minerals such as Magnesium and Potassium found in chocolate. At least these are the effects when you use dark chocolate in your recipes. Now some of our Divas might not like the idea of using dark chocolate, but give it a try, there is a big difference between dark chocolate on its own and when it is mixed as a hot chocolate blend with other great ingredients.

Another ingredient that you can use in hot chocolate to help with your period cramps is dairy-free milk like coconut, almond or rice milk. Most milks have a very good source of calcium and deficiency of calcium in women can lead to severe menstrual cramps. The warmth of the milk will also provide relief to your sore muscles. Like what you’ve read so far? Try these great Dark Hot Chocolate Recipe we found for our Divas.

Dark Chocolate Hot Chocolate Recipe

Ingredients

  • 1 cup dairy-free milk
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons brown sugar, or to taste
  • 2 ounces dark chocolate (85% Dark Chocolate), or to taste
  • 1 tablespoon heavy whipping cream, or more to taste

Directions

Heat milk in a saucepan over medium heat for 3 to 4 minutes, until just almost boiling. Add brown sugar and stir until dissolved, about 1 minute. Stir dark chocolate into milk until melted, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove saucepan from heat and stir cream and cinnamon into milk mixture.

Cinnamon Hot Chocolate Recipe

Hot chocolate is a drink that can be made hundreds of different ways, each with unique ingredients and some of those ingredients can really help a Diva when she is on her period. Cinnamon is one such ingredient because it is a known analgesic that can be used for balancing the level of prostaglandin. Prostaglandin is a hormone which is known to cause swelling and pain in the cervix, if it is over-produced in the body. Cinnamon not only balances the hormonal level but also brings down the inflammation of muscles and offers a great taste to a hot chocolaty beverage. The aroma of cinnamon will also soothe your nerves and help you relax better despite the potential discomfort caused by your period. Here is a great cinnamon hot chocolate recipe to keep on hand.

Ingredients

  • 1.5L (6 cups) dairy-free milk
  •  2 tsp ground cinnamon or to taste 
  • 200g good-quality dark cooking chocolate, coarsely chopped

Directions

Place the milk and cinnamon in a medium saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium-low heat. Remove from heat and set aside for 10 minutes to develop the flavours. Add 80ml (1/3 cup) of the warm milk mixture and stir until a smooth paste forms. Remove the cinnamon sticks from the remaining milk mixture and place saucepan over low heat. Add the dark chocolate, and use a wire balloon whisk to stir for 5 minutes or until chocolate melts and the mixture is well combined. Transfer to a heatproof serving jug and pour into heatproof glasses to serve.

Mint Hot Chocolate Recipe

Another great tip is to add a bit of peppermint essence to your hot chocolate. The aroma and flavor of peppermint is known to help keep the nerves calm. This can help our Divas with the effects of their monthly menstrual cycle. Try this Peppermint Hot Chocolate recipe to feel the relaxing effects of mint during your period.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups dairy-free milk
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 6 ounces dark chocolate, chopped
  • 1 mint tea bag
  • Sweetened whipped cream, for garnish
  • Chocolate shavings, for garnish

Directions

In a saucepan, combine milk, sugar, and salt and heat over medium-low heat. When the cream mixture just begins to steam, add the chopped chocolate, and stir, until melted. Stir in the peppermint oil. Divide the hot chocolate among mugs and top with whipped cream and chocolate shavings.

Have these recipes got your mouth watering yet? Before you head to the store for the ingredients you need, remember that even though hot chocolate can be that soothing warm beverage that helps you relax when on your period, it is important to do everything in moderation. Every Diva’s body is different and as such you can react differently to different ingredients, so test how these hot chocolate recipes feel for you and don’t hesitate to let us know about your experience in the comment section below!

diva team signature

 

3 Ways to Wear Pink in the Winter

When winter rolls around, you may notice that fun, bright colors go into hiding. Colors are replaced with heavy fabrics in gray, black or jewel tones. And while you can never go wrong with these styles, a Diva needs some pink in her wardrobe! Here are some fun ways to add a splash of pink into an otherwise dark wardrobe!

Accessorize!

Who said you need to give up pink when the cold weather comes around? One of the quickest and most stylish ways to add some pink into your outfit is to accessorize with pink items! Wrap a pink scarf around your neck or accessorize with a gorgeous pink statement necklace and you’ll notice an instant difference in your style!

Play with makeup!

I am admittedly a lipstick addict and who doesn’t like having their nails done?! You don’t have to always add colour into your clothes, you can add it to your beauty routine too! Play with different shades of pink on your lips and nails to brighten up your style and get that pop of pink you crave!

 

Wear a sweater!

Obviously when it is cold outside, warm layers are essential. But who says that your sweater has to be black? Find a warm chunky knit sweater in a pastel pink (or hot pink, it doesn’t matter!) to wear some color during the winter. I have sweaters in pastel pink to fuscia to hot pink and I can tell you personally that after dealing with months of dark winter, a pop of color will never fail to make your day brighter!

Show us how you wear pink during the winter on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook!

Until next time,

signature

  

 

Be Heart Healthy

Whether celebrating love (romantic or platonic), or simply focusing on some much needed love of self and self-care, there is no denying that February is all about the heart. Though you may spend much of this month giving and sharing of your heart, how much are you doing for your heart itself?

Did you know that according to the Heart and Stroke Association, heart disease is still the number one killer of women in the United States and is seen to be the cause of 1 out of every 3 deaths of American women? An estimated 43 million women in the US are currently affected by heart disease, which is about 27% of American women. That seems like quite a lot!

So why are we not talking about it more?

This should not surprise us, when an even higher percentage of women in the United States menstruate but menstruation still seems to sometimes be difficult to talk about, and guess what? It’s not only our silence on the two topics that are linked!

Menstruation and Heart Health

Do you know that there may also be a connection between menstruation and heart health? Researchers have been looking into links between menstruation and heart health for some time. There has been much talk about the link between menopause and overall cardiac health as the risk of heart disease is certainly higher for women after menopause. A recent decade long study at University of Oxford even suggested a link between when a woman first starts menstruating and heart disease in later life. In addition to this, Dr. Susan Rako MD in her book, No More Periods?, attributes menstruation to other heart health benefits, including: 1) the reduction in blood pressure during half the normal menstrual cycle and 2) the reduction of stored iron which can also help reduce the risk of stroke or heart attack.

Be Still My Healthy Heart!

So how can you live heart healthy? Well most importantly, make sure that you are doing your regular health checkups and talking with your primary healthcare provider. Also it is never too late to make those small lifestyle changes that can improve not only your cardiac health but your overall health as well. Of course, we are talking about making healthier diet choices and finding more ways to incorporate exercise and activity in your life.

Heart Healthy Eating

We’ve all heard about the heart healthy benefits of EFAs (Essential Fatty Acids like Omega 3 and Omega-6) which can be found in delicious foods like fish, flaxseed, hemp seeds, walnuts, chia, etc. Incorporating some of these into your diet can be easy as well as yummy. Who doesn’t like a good fish fillet for dinner? And if you are vegetarian, adding some flaxseed oil or hemp seed to a smoothie or salad can be a simple fix too.

Try this Heart Healthy Recipe!

OMC (Oh My Cod!)

Ingredients:
1 lb  filet of cod
2 Medium Tomatoes – diced
1 red pepper
1 yellow pepper cut into strips
1 yellow onion – diced
2 cloves of garlic – minced
2 sprigs of fresh parsley – chopped fine
2-3 cilantro leaves – chopped fine
1 Tbsp of capers – sliced to release juices
I tsp of Lime juice,
Virgin coconut oil
Coarse salt and fresh pepper to taste

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 375 C

Sauté onion in coconut oil until the onion starts to yellow. Then add all vegetables and sauté for about 5 to 10 minutes on medium heat adding water as needed. Add herbs and continue cooking for on medium heat until tastes are blended. Add salt and pepper to taste. Apply a 1/3 of the sauce to the bottom of a medium-sized glass baking dish, and then place the cod filets on the sauce, spooning the remainder of the sauce over top and squeeze the lime juice over the filet.

Bake uncovered for 25-30 minutes until the fish has a flaky texture and is opaque white throughout.

Activity and Exercise

The other piece to the puzzle is injecting a bit more activity and movement into your life. More often than not, it becomes all too easy to be more sedentary. If you work at an office job you may be sitting at your desk all day, and even in our off time the entertainment offered by television, the internet, and our smart phones, make it all too simply to sit on the couch instead of getting up and moving around.

Though you may not be able to get out to a gym, some simple things like opting to climb the stairs instead of taking the elevator can make a world of difference. Another great idea, during the work day is to set an alarm on your phone to get up every couple of hours and do 5-10 squats. Roping your colleagues or cubical buddies into joining you can make this a fun way to break up the work day while getting you up and moving.

A fun idea for getting yourself moving while not letting it get monotonous is to make yourself an activity challenge jar. Write yourself some activity challenges on slips of paper and keep them in a jar. You know yourself so make sure your challenges are not too easy but also within your ability while still being slightly challenging. Then 2-4 times a day pull out an activity idea from the jar to do on the spot.

Here are some ideas to get you started, no equipment necessary!

  • Do __# of squats holding each squat for a count of 15.
  • Do __# sit-ups.
  • Hold a plank for __# seconds.
  • Do __# burpees.* Remember the number of repetitions or for holding a position will be unique to everybody and make sure to keep it reasonable, discussing all increased activity with your doctor.

Finding fun ways to get more active and eat better will benefit your health in many ways including the ways of the heart.

You’re in our hearts!

diva team signature

 

Diary of a Diva: From Irritation and Embarrassment to Comfort and Confidence

The DivaCup has already done so much for me, and I’ve owned it for less than 24 hrs.

But before I get too carried away with my first-use excitement and astonishment, I’ll share a little background about myself. I’m a 20 year old full-time college student with a full time job, and in a committed relationship with the man of my dreams. I love to ride my bike, play video games, read books, play violin, and most of all, get out into the community and help people. I work at a printing company, doing the shipping and fulfillment side of things, so all day long I move boxes, as well as work with hand trucks and skids that weigh up to a ton.

So to say that my period hitting during the middle of work sucks, is an understatement.

I dread it.

Literally, I could be bending over to pick up a 40lb box, and all of a sudden it comes rushing out, turning my face beet red and making me sprint to the restroom to clean myself up.

What does that mean for me? I’ve tried everything to prevent this from happening. I’ve tried pads, tampons, panty-liners, disposable cups, heck even toilet paper if I have nothing else on hand. Not only that, but I’m very sensitive to chemicals. Pads, even unscented ones, irritate my skin badly. They’ve given me UTIs before, and made me itch so bad that on more than a few occasions my boyfriend has sped to the drugstore at 2am to buy me all-natural vitamin E feminine sensitivity wipes to remove the traces of chemicals from my skin. I also have to change into a fresh pair of cotton underwear because the residue of those chemicals on the first pair can continue to irritate my skin.

To top it all off, I have heavy periods the first two days of my cycle, with cramps and bloating so bad I double over in pain. I get migraines and nausea so bad I’ve got prescription nausea pills for my worst days. But, because they make me so drowsy I can’t do anything but sleep. Midol is my best friend for the days I don’t have nausea. I’ve learned to treat the symptoms and they’ve gotten better over time. The one thing I couldn’t get rid of was the gushes of blood that continually catch me by surprise, even when I’m armed with a purse full of tampons, pads, etc.

So, The DivaCup has already worked wonders for me. I first heard about it a little over a year ago, right around the time my period started getting consistently heavy and interfering with my everyday activities. I only recently decided to dive deeper into the world of menstrual cups. I read everything I could about menstrual cups before I tried my first one, a disposable cup, that I liked, but it sat too high inside me and would leak every time I went to the bathroom, or if I bent over wrong. I knew I wanted something that was reusable, and a little bit more durable. That’s when I found The DivaCup again. I read the website top to bottom, and finally said I would give it a go. I bought mine this morning, and I haven’t leaked all day.

Normally, I keep a spare pair of underwear in my car just in case. This is the first time ever that I didn’t end up needing them. Also, no irritation whatsoever, and now with the convenient lines to measure my flow, I can much more accurately chart how heavy my flow really is. I don’t turn beet red in the face, nor do I sprint to the bathroom in the middle of my shift, or leave early to go to the doctor because my pad gave me a UTI. I can’t wait to continue using The DivaCup, and save myself a lot of money, embarrassment, and doctors visits.

Thank you, The DivaCup.

Rebecca O Rebecca O 
I am a book-loving  language-learning, world traveler, currently majoring in Spanish and building my dreams with the love of my life, Justin. I grew up in a small town, but my big dreams didn’t stop me, and by the time I was seventeen, I left the U.S. for the first time. I’m 20 years old, and I spend my time reading books, playing music, and getting out into my community. My dream is to travel the world, and I have no intention of letting my period stop me.