Can I Eat Junk Food in Moderation?

You don’t have to be a news junkie to know that the government and various scientists are constantly warning us about the dangers of junk food. And really, aside from very specific data, we should already realize that a diet of soda, red meat, and greasy fries is not doing us any good.

However, what about moderation? If you only drink once in a while, that doesn’t make you an alcoholic, right? What about, say, only having Kentucky Fried Chicken and a chocolate sundae only once a week? Would my health still be fine if I exercised that type of self-control on a regular basis?

Empty Calories

Junk food is considered to be empty calories: food that provides calories for you, but have few, if any, beneficial effects for your body. The amount of recommended empty calories varies from 120-330 per day, depending on age and gender. Generally, the older you are, and if you are male, you are allotted more empty calories. However, that limits goes up with the amount of exercise you do. In other words, the more exercise you do, the more potato chips you can have.

Health Issues

The more sugar you consume, the more likely you are to gain weight, develop diabetes, have a heart attack or stroke, etc. So, in general, if you really wish to avoid serious health problems, you should try to keep your junk food consumption as close to zero as possible. If you want to consume a bit of junk food, the odds of health issues rises.


By this, we don’t mean cheat on your diet by having nothing but junk. We mean mixing junk and healthy choices together. For example, if you really must eat a bag of potato chips, wash them down with a glass of water, rather than a can of soda.

Are Canadians Really as Nice as Everyone Thinks?

There are a number of stereotypes when it comes to our country, but the one I encounter the most is that Canadians are nice to a fault. That we apologize for everything and always defer to everyone else. Some even say that it indicates we have no spine.

There are certainly more important things to worry about than being perceived as overly nice. In fact, isn’t politeness a desirable quality? It certainly is, though in apparent accordance with our deferential nature, not all Canadians see that as a positive thing when it is pointed out.

In fact, given the common brashness of some Americans (particularly given the current climate and president), I think our comparatively mild demeanour is certainly something to be cherished. That familiar American “We are the Best!” mantra cannot help but instill an inferiority complex in its neighbours, but it shouldn’t, particularly given the terribly misguided course that country is currently on.

Cynical folks might say that our politeness is really more the result of a defense mechanism. After all, if you are around people that you must spend time with (or wish to spend as little time as possible with), it’s a wiser strategy to be nice than brash.

However, I think that politeness is the default position for many Canucks I know. Maybe it is a natural result of  having to survive brutal winters that run for half of the year (or more); if you help your neighbour, they are more likely to be there for you in your own time of need, right?

So, to answer the question posed in our title…there is no scientific proof that Canadians are as nice as everyone seems to think, but there is quite a bit of anecdotal evidence to back that up. That is good enough for me, but I fully respect your differing opinion. Because I’m Canadian and I’m not always right.

How to Make the Most of Your Lunch Break

Most of us find that there are not enough hours in the day to get everything done. One way to combat this is to make more efficient use of the time we do have available. Depending on where you work and your agreed-upon schedule, you may have anywhere from 30-60 minutes for your lunch break. If it’s only a half hour, that doesn’t leave you with much time to do more than eat. However, if you have an hour, that leaves you with a good 30 minutes that you can also use for other things you wish to accomplish. Here are three suggestions on how you can spend that extra time productively:


If your company has a gym on site, go and use the tread mill or get on an exercise bike. No equipment on-site? Get that 30 minutes of recommended daily walking in. If you like to jog, go for a short one around the area. A change of scenery will probably help you be more productive after lunch.

Don’t just sit in the cafeteria for an hour. Make more productive use of your lunchtime!

Eat Outside

Don’t get to spend enough time outdoors with your current schedule? Try eating outside for a change. If your company does not have an outside seating area, bring a blanket and have a picnic with your co-workers. Sunshine and fresh air are very good for you; this allows you to get in your daily quota and can help revitalize you for the afternoon.

Stop Looking at Screens

The average American and Canadian spends an inordinate amount of time each day looking at screens: smartphone, computer, tablet, TV, etc. Give your eyes a well-deserved break during lunch and read a book, go for a walk, meditate…do something different that will help both mind and body decompress.

How to Ask for a Raise

There are certain aspects of having a job that are very straightforward: you need to show up at a certain time, you have certain deadlines to meet, you must be respectful to your colleagues, etc.

Then there are other aspects that are not so cut and dried. One of these is how to ask for a raise. It can be a nerve-wracking decision because you don’t always know what is going on with the company’s finances or just how favorable your supervisors view you.

If you think the time has come to ask for a raise, here are some tips on how to go about it:

Is It Time to Ask for a Raise?

In general, you really only expect to get a raise once per year. If you just had one six months ago, you really should wait awhile before seeking another.

What Kind of Person is Your Boss?

Is your supervisor the type of person who always believes in getting to the point? Or is he or she someone that you need to approach in a gradual, thoughtful way that allows you to reinforce your value to the company in their mind? Knowing how to initiate the topic increases both your confidence and chances for success.

Have a Figure in Mind

You probably have an idea regarding how much more you would like to be making, but is it realistic? Your company may be doing well enough, but is it doing so well that you think it’s reasonable to ask for another $5 an hour? Choose a figure that is between the top end of what you would like to make and the minimum you would need to continue working there.

These are the basic steps. Try to ask for a raise before your next review as it will likely be too late for that calendar year if you wait until after. Good luck!

Four Things You Should Do First Thing in the Morning

Getting out of bed in the morning can be a real chore for some people…and I’m really not in a position to criticize anyone in that camp. As I get up in years, and a night’s sleep becomes less and less satisfying, mornings are more likely to elicit a groan than a smile.

It’s always good to have a steady routine as they helps to keep you on track. That routine needs to consist of positive and productive things, of course. Have trouble getting motivated in the morning? Here are some things you should start doing:

Get Up Early and Always at the Same Time

I can feel some of you wanting to check out already, but there is really some good thinking in this approach. It’s simple: the more time you have in the morning, the more productive you can be. Getting up at the same time everyday helps your body adjust to that inevitability and can improve the quality of your sleep.

Leave the Coffee and Go for Water

Yes, caffeine gives you that boost, but we all know it’s addictive. Try to ween yourself off of coffee and other caffeinated beverages in exchange for good old fashioned water. H2O re-hydrates you and that helps your body function at its peak; coffee actually does the opposite.

Exercise Before Work

This is another great way to clear your head and energize your body before the rigors of the day. And doing it before work ensures that it gets done.

Make Your Bed

As a child, this always seemed especially pointless to me: who other than me will see my messy bed? The point is that it actually helps to make you more organized. Also, at the end of a long and busy day, it’s more appealing to climb into a fresh and tidy bed than some sloppy mess.


Canada’s Ocean Playground

It’s time to re-discover Canada in honour of our nations 150th birthday. If you’re looking for sun and sand there’s never been a better time to visit Canada’s Ocean Playground: Nova Scotia. Located in eastern Canada, the province of Nova Scotia is almost completely surrounded by sea. There is something for everyone in Nova Scotia, so while you’re daydreaming of the clean salty air and falling into rhythm with the sea – we’ve curated a list of some of the best attractions.

Halifax Waterfront Boardwalk – No trip to Halifax is complete without  a stroll down the Waterfront Boardwalk where you will find adorable little shops, plenty of seafood options and an incredible view!

Peggy’s Cove Lighthouse – The Peggy’s Point Lighthouse is located in the small rural community of Peggy’s Cove located on the eastern shore of St. Margaret’s Bay. Enjoy great seafood, beautiful gifts and an incredible view of waves crashing at the foot of the lighthouse.

The Cabot Trail – Located on Cape Breton Island the Cabot Trail is considered one of the world’s most scenic destinations with stunning ocean vistas, old-growth forests, prehistoric rock scarred by glaciers, and the mysterious Cape Breton Highlands.

Town of Lunenburg – Old Town Lunenburg is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, known for it’s waterfront, colourful buildings and rum running past. Lunenburg is also home port of Nova Scotia’s sailing ambassador, the Bluenose II.

Halifax Public Gardens – Stop and smell the roses at Halifax Public Gardens, one of the finest surviving examples of Victorian gardening. These historic gardens were established in 1867, the year of the Canadian Confederation.

Citadel Hill – Located in Halifax, Citadel Hill is an important part of Nova Scotia’s history. On your visit you can explore the history of the fortress and the soldiers who were stationed there.


Image result for Nova Scotia


Next Time, Leave the Plane and Take the Train

Airplanes are the preferred mode of transportation these days, but I use the word “preferred” in the sense that flying is the fastest way to get somewhere. There are so many downsides to flying, from the cost to the hassle to the cramped conditions to the terrible behaviour of other passengers.

I want my next trip to be the one that finally introduces me to parts of Canada I have never seen. To do that, I’m going to give VIA Rail a call.

Here are just a few reasons why you should consider a train instead for your next holiday:

  • Scenery. Plane trips are too short to enjoy the view and the view is usually just a lot of clouds that look the same anyway.
  • Price. Rail fare is much cheaper and that leaves you with more money to spend on fun things on your trip (or you could just leave more in the bank).
  • No airport security. I’m sure there have been instances of train hijackings, but I can’t think of any offhand. No one misses going through airport security. No one.
  • Bring your own food and beverages. Train station prices are usually nowhere near as bad as stores at airports. You can also just bring along your own food and drink (within reason – don’t show up with an XL pizza).
  • More room and more comfort. While trains can vary, chances are your seat provides more leg room and overall comfort that you will likely get from your plane seat.
  • Get up and move. Unless the train is packed, you can always get up and change seats to avoid annoying pests. Rarely can you do that in the air.
  • Your luggage will almost certainly arrive with you. Wouldn’t that be nice? How often do you hear about bags getting lost during train travel?

How Malls are Trying to Remain Relevant

It doesn’t seem that long ago when shopping malls were the hub of consumer activity. As time went on, they got bigger and bigger, offering all manner of stores and allowing people to get a great deal of their shopping done in one place. You could shop, get something to eat, see a movie, and then do some more shopping on your way out.

Every city and many small towns added shopping malls, but their dominance has slipped in recent years. Online shopping has created major changes in the way that people buy their goods. It’s hard to argue with the thought of being able to sit at home in front of your computer ordering things that you would previously have driven across town (or further) to get. Amazon is the online shopping giant and if one had to put a name to the enemy of shopping mall prosperity, it’s as good as any.

So, is the demise of the mall inevitable? Not as far as mall owners are concerned. They are trying to come up with reasons and experiences that will justify getting people off their couches. These include entertainment options that allow parents and children to spend time together, as well as ways for mom and dad to have someone watch the kids so they can do some quiet, relaxed shopping together.

Instead of just a collection of fast food options at the food court, some malls are courting high end restaurants as a way of restoring the mall’s image as a respected place in the community, rather than a spot for teens to hang out.

While anchor stores are still seen as a key way of luring people in, the plan is also to provide a more diverse selection of tenants not typically found in shopping malls. These include specialized businesses that one often has to journey downtown to patronize.

Malls are also making greater use of social media as a way of engaging with customers and creating loyalty. This inspires people to make the mall the first place that comes to mind when they need something.

Online shopping may be an unstoppable juggernaut at this point, but these tactics do seem to be having an effect at slowing things down a little. Time will tell, but I can’t see malls ever dying off completely.

What Do You Do When You Win the Lottery?

Sure, we have all fantasized about it: the impulse purchase of a $5 lottery ticket at the grocery store turns out to be an action that changes your life forever. You now have all the money you need to fulfill those long-held fantasies and help out all of your friends and family.

But have you ever sat down and thought what it would be like to win…and then take the next steps? Here are some of the things that previous big winners have done:

  • Money management. Yes, you will now have a lot of money, but you have to think long and hard about what to do with it. You can’t just shove millions of dollars into a basic savings account. Should you invest? If so, how? How will you save the money? How much money can your local financial institution even hold for you and insure? Make an appointment with a financial planner…before you cash the ticket in.
  • Unwanted attention. It’s a shame that big winners are announced in the press because that guarantees they will be besieged by people, some legit and some not, asking them for a piece of that jackpot. If you are a very private person, this can be quite disturbing and stressful. Even if you aren’t, it’s still a major pain. Fortunately, some areas allow winners to remain anonymous.
  • Don’t go on a spending spree, but do pay off your debts. It can be tempting to go nuts with your newfound wealth, but you should instead set limits on how much you can spend in a day, a week, a month, and a year. One thing you should definitely put cash towards are your debts: wipe them out for good.
  • Investigate inheritance tax. Look into what the laws are in your area. Everyone wants to leave money to their friends and family, but how much will the government take? Are there ways to minimize that?
  • Continuing doing some kind of work. You may be overjoyed to quit your job, but do try to keep busy in some way once all of the dust has settled. If you don’t need income anymore, volunteering is an excellent way to give back.


Why Cruises are the Best Way to See the World

At one point in time, cruises were simply a means of island-hopping around the Caribbean. Today, cruises offer a multi-dimensional vacation for those looking to discover exotic destinations and adventure. In recent years, cruise lines have increased industry standards with extravagant new vacations. If your still not convinced, here are a few reasons why your next holiday should be a cruise!

One of the great things about cruises is that all costs are consolidated into one price. Typically, accommodations, transportation, meals – and sometimes even airfare are all bundled into one price. This helps diminish the stress of spending more on a vacation than originally planned. But, of course – there is always the option to upgrade throughout the course of your trip.

Another great thing about going on a cruise is that you only need to unpack once. Forget about lugging your luggage from airport to airport, train station to train station and unpacking at every new location. Once you’re aboard the cruise ship you can settle in and start vacationing right away.

One of the most taxing things about vacationing is the amount of travel time, especially when you have multiple destinations. Forget about travel time when cruising, you can unwind on the ship while you’re carried off to your next destination in style. Cruises take all of the stress out of traveling from place to place while on vacation, so you can see and do more!

If you are looking to explore some of the most exotic foreign destinations, then a cruise is for you! Cruises remove obstacles that can make international vacation planning complicated – without the worry of visas, customs, transportation, or language barriers. From water to land, you can follow English-speaking tour guides through some of the most exotic places. Although this may be less authentic then visiting these places on your own – it is the perfect option for someone with limited time or funds.

Finally, the greatest things about going on a cruise is the ability to see so much of the world in such a short period of time.

How to Get Over Your Fear of Flying

“If man was meant to fly, he would have wings!” You may have heard that before. Or, if you are afraid to fly, you might even have used it as an excuse. Actually, if flying is not your thing, do not feel bad. Aviophobia is quite common, so much so that there are a number of solutions available that will help you to overcome this.

If you would like to go on a trip, but are fearful of getting on that plane, here are some suggestions:

  • Educate yourself. Yes, plane crashes are terrible things and when they happen, they receive a great deal of media coverage. However, the simple fact is they don’t happen very often. An article in The Guardian listed the stats and it works out to one accident per 2.4 million flights.
  • Talk to a therapist. Your fear of flying may be part of a general anxiety issue that will fade if you can get that under control. Therapists will talk with you about the problem and offer methods that will help reduce your anxiety. This should also lead to you being more open to trying things that have intimidated you in the past. The therapist may also such widely effective techniques as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy or Hypnotherapy.
  • Try breathing exercises. Taking deep breaths can be very effective at lowering your blood pressure and inducing a sense of calm. Try combining this with a manta you can recite to yourself, such as “everything is fine.”
  • Sedatives. Ask your doctor if you are a good candidate for sedatives. Depending on how many times you will be flying, this may be a good temporary solution, but not one if you will be flying often. Also, do not rely on alcohol to calm you down and never mix sedatives with booze.

Have faith! As we mentioned above, this is a common phobia that many people conquer, so be sure to give one or more of these methods a try.

Did you have a fear of flying? What worked for you? What advice do you have for someone trying to overcome this? Let us know in the comments section!