Take a hike!

“Walking: the most ancient and still the best modern exercise.” – Carrie Latet

Hiking is an amazing past time that so few individuals embrace. It’s almost as if that love we had for traipsing around outside when we were kids is lost in our adult lives. That need to explore nature seems to change in to a need to work, study and just generally adult. Not as much fun, right? Well, as a college student who works, lives on her own and attends full-time courses, my life didn’t involve much nature. But, there was one thing it did involve a lot of: stress. Stress is the biggest struggle in my life, and I think it’s the same for many others. I had tried many ways to handle stress — from yoga and meditation to exercise and diet changes — but the problem was, I could never find the time to do everything in a week. I didn’t have time to take both a yoga and HIIT class and fit in a meditation session as well. I was trying all these different things, and they do work, but they were not becoming a consistent part of my life like I wanted. The solution came to me from my roommate, who is a personal trainer. She recommended that I try hiking! She explained to me that the outdoor exercise from hiking up and down hills is often a better exercise than gym cardio training. This got me doing a bit more research on the concept and I realized just how many benefits to hiking there are! I decided to give it a try and over the last month, I have made it my goal to go for a hike at lease once a week. Here is what I learned:

You will feel happier
Hiking is a great way to deal with stress and to forget about your worries as you focus on what’s around you and the end goal of completing the trail. I found that hiking once a week helped me with my stress and depression as it took me away from daily distractions and technology and allowed me to connect with myself and nature. It’s a combination of meditation and exercise that leaves me happy and at peace.

You will enjoy nature
Being in nature gives us the opportunity to explore, be adventurous and feel free. In our everyday lives, there is so much that is controlled and scheduled. I found that taking the time to appreciate nature and explore it can have amazing benefits on your outlook on life.

You will get exercise
Hiking is an excellent form of exercise as you tromp along the trails, up and down hills and over uneven ground. You burn a high number of calories and build muscle as you go along. After an hour hike I feel limber and refreshed. Another great benefit is the decrease of blood pressure and cholesterol.

You will boost your creativity
Hiking is a great way to boost your creativity. Often halfway through a work day I would get a French vanilla to try and keep myself alert and focused. Instead of doing that I tried going for a quick hike over my lunch hour. The affects were amazing, I could take a break, organize my thoughts, wake myself up and increase my attention span. When I got back from my hike, I found myself more focused and productive than I usually am in the afternoons.

You will find your sense of adventure
One benefit of hiking that I found rather unexpected was a new sense of adventure. I would set a start and end destination for my hike, but I often found myself going further or changing course because I wanted to check something out that looked interesting. Hiking is a great time to just take things as they come and not worry about following an exact plan. Now as I am saying this, I am not telling you to go off into a dense part of the wood or up a forgotten trail without any precautions. I go into a bit more detail below, but make sure you are well prepared and that you use common sense. Hiking, while very beneficial does come with its risks. I almost always go hiking with a buddy and I have my phone with me in case of emergencies.

You will foster relationships
Finally, another great benefit is that you get to meet new people who are out enjoying the same things you are. You already have one common interest, so it’s easy to strike up a conversation. You can meet some great people while hiking and if that’s one of your goals, I would recommend getting involved with a hiking group. I found some great ones online and they were very welcoming and helpful as I started my hiking journey.

It’s a combination of so many different benefits that make hiking so good for your body, mind and soul.

Are you interested in hiking?
Here are a few recommendations I have as a novice hiker:
Start small. Hiking can be intimidating, so start with a short trail in an area that you are familiar with.
Prepare for the worst. Depending on how long your hike is and where you are make sure you carry your phone, water, snacks, sunscreen and bug spray. Also, make sure, you are in a good pair of closed toe hiking shoes or boots.
Pack lightly. You don’t want a huge backpack weighing you down but make sure you have important things: like water, a compass, and anything you made need for your personal comfort or safety. Remote or longer hike will require a different kind of pack than short or close to home hikes.
Overestimate your trail time. I make sure I have my phone with me (although usually on airplane mode) so that I can keep track of the time.
Don’t ignore your own backyard. You can find some great trails in the middle of the city, or just on the outskirts. Try walking around your neighborhood, you might be surprised.
Use the buddy system. I would recommend hiking with a partner, it keeps you safe and is a fun time to socialize.

Diary of Diva: From Fires to Mt. Kilimanjaro

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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.

 

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!

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Guest Post: Setting a Scuba Diving World Record for Women: 129 Divas in the Water!

4-Florida-N-Lasselin-8Female Divers: They represent, through good years and bad, nearly half of the certified divers around the world. They are recognized for their low air consumption, natural buoyancy and good judgment when it comes to taking risks.

In short, women make excellent divers, are pleasant, cautious and someone you can trust to guide you under water!

However, very few women are pursuing careers in scuba diving.

Is this due to a lack of physical strength? Or the fact that it poses far greater health risks? Or worse, menstrual blood may attract sharks?

Certainly not! Although women (and men) may have believed in these theories in the past, today it is clear that women are more than capable of exploring the seabed.

This is where Femmes à la mer comes in!

Femmes à la mer was created with the purpose of bringing together the female divers of Quebec. On September 12, 2015, 129 women gathered at Quarry Kahnawake, near Montreal, QC to set a world record: the largest number of submerged women simultaneously in cold water.

This had never been done before!

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For Nathalie and Daphné, organizers of the event, and also avid users of The DivaCup, “Femmes à la mer” went beyond a simple record of numbers. It was about making a statement – a way to show the world that women are present in the diving world and that nothing, even the hassle of periods, will stop them.

It was also a statement that we need to preserve aquatic environments, if we want to continue to discover them. This is why “Femmes à la mer” is committed to ecological sustainability. For example, on the day of the event, participants were called to carpool to get on the site and to bring their reusable water bottles. The sweaters that were handed over to the participants were made of organic cotton and were provided by a company that guaranteed an ethical treatment of employees.

Because of this ecological approach, and focus on physical activity for women, a partnership with The DivaCup was quite natural! What better product than a menstrual cup to assist women with a diving expedition? Compact during dive trips, environmentally friendly, economical and it offers leak free protection during long decompression diving sessions, The DivaCup is the perfect partner in a diving event for women. Furthermore, ten of the 129 participants had the chance to win The DivaCup, and will certainly promote all of its wonderful benefits within the community of underwater women divers!

Thank you to The DivaCup for partnering with “Femmes à la mer”! We hope to have an even bigger attendance of Diving Divas at our next submarine event!

Nathalie Lasselin
Natalie is an underwater filmmaker, technical diving instructor and explorer. She works on various documentaries around the world. She is the driving force behind “Femmes à la mer”.

Daphné Laurier Montpetit: Daphné is a fan of The DivaCup and has been a diver for several years, Daphné studied marine biology before taking a turn to communications. Today, she is Chief Editor for the diving magazine “En Profondeur” and is working towards becoming a certified diving instructor.


 

Record mondial de plongée : 129 divas à l’eau !

4-Florida-N-Lasselin-8Elles représentent, bon an mal an, près de la moitié des plongeurs certifiés. Elles sont reconnues pour leur faible consommation d’air, leur flottabilité naturelle ainsi que leur sagesse face aux risques. Bref, les femmes font d’excellentes plongeuses, agréables et sécuritaires. Pourtant, très peu d’entre elles poursuivent des carrières dans la plongée sous-marine.

Est-ce par manque de force physique ? À cause de plus grands risques pour la santé ? Ou pire encore, parce que le sang menstruel risque d’attirer les requins ? Certainement pas ! Bien qu’on ait longtemps cru à ces hypothèses, aujourd’hui perçues comme farfelues,  on sait désormais que les femmes sont plus que capables d’explorer les fonds marins.

C’est dans le but de rassembler les plongeuses du Québec que Femmes à la mer fut créé. Le 12 septembre 2015, 129 femmes se sont retrouvées à la carrière Kahnawake, près de Montréal (Québec) pour établir un record mondial : le plus grand nombre de femmes immergées simultanément en eau froide. Du jamais vu !

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Pour Nathalie et Daphné, les organisatrice de l’événement et divas confirmées, Femmes à la mer  allait au delà d’un simple record de nombre ; c’était aussi une affirmation. Une façon de montrer au monde que les femmes sont bien présentes et qu’aucune frontière, qu’elle soit solide ou liquide, ne les arrêtera.

Une affirmation, aussi, qu’il nous faut préserver les milieux aquatiques si nous voulons continuer de les découvrir. C’est pourquoi Femmes à la mer a prit un engagement écologique dans son organisation. Les participantes étaient appelées à faire du co-voiturage pour se rendre sur le site et à apporter leurs bouteilles d’eau réutilisables. Les chandails qui furent remis aux participantes étaient faits de coton biologique et fournis par une compagnie qui garantissait un traitement éthique des employés.

Dans cette optique écologique et axée sur l’activité physique au féminin, un partenariat avec Diva Cup devenait tout naturel ! Quoi de mieux qu’une coupe menstruelle pour une plongeuse aguerrie ? Peu encombrant lors des voyages de plongée, respectueux de l’environnement, économique et protégeant parfaitement des fuites lors des longues séances de décompression, Diva Cup est le partenaire idéal dans un événement de plongée destiné aux femmes. D’ailleurs, dix des 129 participantes ont eu la chance de gagner une coupe menstruelle Diva Cup, et propageront certainement la vague DIVA au sein de la communauté de plongeuses sous-marine !

Merci à Diva Cup pour ce partenariat avec Femmes à la mer, et au plaisir de compter encore plus de divas lors de notre prochain rendez-vous sous-marin !

Nathalie Lasselin:
Cinéaste sous-marine, instructeure de plongée technique et exploratrice. Elle travaille sur divers documentaires, partout dans le monde. Elle est l’instigatrice ce du projet Femmes à la mer.

Daphné Laurier Montpetit

Diva aguerrie et plongeuses depuis plusieurs années, Daphné a étudié en biologie marine avant de prendre un virage vers les communications. Aujourd’hui, elle est rédactrice en chef du magazine de plongée En Profondeur et poursuit sa formation de plongée afin de devenir monitrice.

{Guest Post:} The DivaCup, an Essential for The Female Athlete

FB_IMG_1441850917912 (1)The first time I used The DivaCup was 8 years ago and before that, I had never heard of such a thing. I was given The DivaCup for a one-time use, but after just a day or two I was hooked on The DivaCup! I love that The DivaCup is comfortable, economical, hygienic, and most of all leaves me protected and worry-free for up to 12 hours. It gives me one less thing to worry about and keeps me moving, thus resulting in a feeling of empowerment.

For competitive athletes, long hours of training can be quite grueling, especially while on your period. As a competitive cyclist I spend hours riding a bicycle and travel frequently for events. The benefits – mainly comfort and protection – provided by The DivaCup are virtually essential to the female athlete. With The DivaCup I don’t have to worry about packing extra tampons or supplies while training out on the road. Not to mention with The DivaCup I don’t have to deal with changing tampons in port-a-potties at events!

As a female athlete and a person who loves traveling and being outdoors, The DivaCup is perfect for me and I love it so much!

Introducing The DivaCup to Others

Over the years I have convinced a few of my friends to try out The DivaCup. A lot of them were skeptical at first, but those who tried it out ended up loving it and are never going back to tampons. A few of the converts are my Michael David Winery Cycling teammates. We loved the product so much that we are now working with The DivaCup to promote it to other female athletes.

We hope that by introducing The DivaCup to our fellow female athletes it will make their lives just a bit easier, and give them one less thing to worry about during that time of the month. It’s the little secrets in life that can sometimes make seemingly difficult tasks just a tad easier and more manageable.

Empower is the mantra for the Michael David Winery Women’s Cycling team. We feel this product does just that by keeping women moving!

Michael David Winery Cycling Team Launches The DivaCup Promotion

Michael David Winery Women's Race TeamMichael David Winery Cycling team hosts an annual race in downtown Lodi, California. The 2015 edition of the event drew nearly 375 racers and hundreds of spectators. The DivaCup graciously provided a number of cups for us to provide as prizes for the female athletes.  We were facing uncharted territory and were a little apprehensive about how to distribute The DivaCups to the winners. The team is 80% male athletes and has never had a sponsor of this type.

Sound familiar?!

We decided to make a bold move and set up The DivaCups right at the results/prize table, just next to registration. This ended up drawing a lot of attention! The results/prize table gets a lot of visitors (all participants must sign in at registration), and its proximity allowed for the women on our team to have a personal conversation with people about The DivaCup.

It was fun talking to everyone about The DivaCup throughout the day! Reactions ran the gamut from enthusiastic, to curious and skeptical, and to astonished and repulsed. Let’s face it; some people just aren’t comfortable talking about menstruation! The biggest surprise reactions were from our male teammates who embraced the product and eventually became pretty comfortable talking about The DivaCup. They became strong advocates for the product and a few of the guys took The DivaCup home for their wives.

Overall, the response was very positive! By the end of the day we handed out dozens of cups to winners who were willing to give it a try. Hopefully we convinced a few female athletes to join the Diva bandwagon!

Eva on BikeEva Olin
Eva Olin is a competitive cyclist on the Delta Velo, Michael David Winery Women’s Race Team. Delta Velo competes every year across the United States in more than 100 events and strives to provide a ‘no stress atmosphere’ in training, learning and enjoying the sport of cycling. On top of cycling, Eva graduated with a Masters in Environmental Science and is now an Environmental Scientist.