I saw this 100 Things to Do this Summer list on a blog I follow and thought what a great idea…but then I realized  (as did the author)  that :

1.) my kids don't like to do a lot of this stuff anymore and
2.) neither do I.  

But the more I looked at it, the more I thought it WAS a great summer "to do" list.  There are some standard things on here that mean “summer” to  everyone…like swim, fireworks, ride bikes, beach, and BBQ with friends.  And there are some items that just won't happen for me this summer .... I am way past making potato stamps, and cereal necklaces and I am sure my teens would laugh hysterically if I said we were going to have a “reading  party”.  But I am all over the “kids plan dinner” – that should be on every season to do  list!   As I really read each item, it kind of makes me wish for those days when blowing bubbles was so much fun and catching bugs was an adventure.

Whether you have old kids, young kids or no kids at all, I think if we all did a few of these simple activities  with friends and family this summer it would make the season that seems to fly by that much more enjoyable.  How many will you check off?

P.S. Does anyone know what “Peculiar P Party”  is?

I am embarrassed to admit that a few years ago; I would laugh at those who did  yoga – glorified stretching I thought – waste of time.   But then I took a few classes (forced by a friend) and I quickly realized  how wrong I was.  I really enjoyed  those introduction classes – not only did the “stretching” feel great – I found  it very calming.  So then I apologized to all my yoga friends for mocking them and signed up for an actual  class.  And at the end of those 10  weeks – I actually felt stronger. 

Soooooooo, not a waste of time.
I  will fully admit I am not a yoga expert – and I realize there are many many
different types of yoga.  So I  thought I would list a few of the more popular ones to see if I can convince  anyone else that yoga is worthwhile.  And if you want to chat with an office expert – I would recommend Sue and Stephanie. 
Even  though yoga is all based on the same poses, each style has a particular focus.
For example, one style has a purpose to improve flexibility, while another style
primarily strengthens your core.

Here's a quick introduction to some of the most common and popular types of
Hatha:  Hatha  originated in India in the 15th century. This type of yoga is slow-paced, gentle, and focused on breathing and meditation, so it's a great type of yoga to wind down with at night. 
Purpose: To introduce beginners to yoga with basic poses and relaxation techniques
Benefits: Relieves stress, provides physical exercise, and improves  breathing  
Good  for:  Beginners and people wanting to learn the basics of  yoga

Much  like Hatha, Vinyasa covers basic poses and breath-synchronized movement.  Commonly  called "Vinyasa flow" or just "flow", you'll definitely be moving, flowing from  one pose to the next. Other than starting with a sun salutation, no two classes  will be alike. It's the most popular style of yoga in America.  
Purpose:  To link the breath with movement and to build lean muscle mass throughout the body 
Benefits: Helps improve strength and flexibility, tones the abdominal muscles, and reduces  the risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, and type 2  diabetes
Good  for:  Beginners and advanced yogis alike seeking to strengthen their bodies

Ashtanga yoga metaphorically focuses on eight limbs. Ashtanga  is fast-paced and intense with lunges and push-ups.  Commonly called Power yoga, ashtanga is definitely physically demanding. It's probably best suited for an ex-athlete or someone looking to really push their body.   
Purpose:  To help improve one’s spiritual self
Benefits:  Relieves stress, improves coordination, and helps with weight  loss 
Good  for:  Fit people looking to maintain strength and stamina, and those who want to get  in touch with their spiritual side
Iyengar: Iyengar  covers all eight aspects of Ashtanga yoga and focuses on bodily alignment..  Standing poses are emphasized, and are often held for long periods of
time.  Expect lots of props with this type of yoga such as blocks, harnesses, straps,
and even cushions. There's also a lot of focus on alignment so Iyengar can be great for physical therapy. 
Purpose: To strengthen and bring the body into alignment
Benefits: Helps improve balance, speeds up recovery from an injury, and builds up body strength 
Good for:  Beginners who want to learn the correct alignments in each pose and those with  injuries, balance issues, and chronic medical conditions like arthritis

Also known as hot yoga, Bikram is practiced in a 95 to 100 degree room. It’s
typically a series of 26 poses that allows for a loosening of tight muscles and sweating.
Purpose: To flush out toxins and to deeply stretch the muscles 
Benefits:  Speeds up recovery from an injury, enhances flexibility, and cleanses the
Good for: Beginners and advanced yogis alike who want to push themselves and those with physical injuries

These are only a few of many styles of yoga. Try one or all of them to figure out
which one suits your needs the best. 
Looking  to begin yoga?…before you head to class, check the  
Poses for Beginners
library to become familiar with some of the most common poses.


Top food trends 

Remember cake pops?   They went from virtually nowhere to everywhere last year.   And vegetable chips…especially kale.  Well those trends are soooo  last year. Not that they are over but they are kind of like day-old cookies: not  quite so hot-and-fresh anymore.   I took a little tour of the internet and read a lot about what new food trends are happening in 2013 (Canada and the US) .  Below are the most common items I found on various lists.  
So what’s new? 
Once you learn to pronounce it correctly (keen-wa),  you may learn to love this light, crunchy whole grain. This gluten-free grain packs 8 grams of protein in a cooked 1-cup serving.  I  cooked it for the first time this month for my family – no sale with the teens –  but I will try again with a little more added flavour.  There are millions of quinoa recipes on line!

Gluten-Free Everything
It  was last year’s trend, too, but gluten-free is still surprisingly hot.  Gluten-free products now have their own section in most supermarkets.  Generally people who follow a gluten free diet have celiac disease.  Celiac is an inherited autoimmune disease. The symptoms are triggered by  "gluten", the name given to certain proteins in wheat (including spelt and  kamut), barley, rye, and triticale (a cross between wheat and rye). In celiac disease, the body's immune system responds abnormally to gluten. Currently the only treatment for celiac disease is to continually maintain a strict  gluten-free diet.  Some people avoid this protein for a variety of other reasons, such as they believe being gluten-free to have some nutritional value.  Some say avoiding gluten will help alleviate stress.  The  good news: there are lots of other grains, and delicious recipes for gluten-free meals and desserts.

Elimination Diets
It’s not just gluten people are avoiding.  Gone are the old days of people following doctor-authored, best-seller diets.  Incoming trends are  “elimination diets” or "cleanses" whereby people are banning whatever ingredients they feel may be doing evil to their bodies. Speak to Jean - she makes up her own cleanse.

Organic Food
While scientists continue to debate whether organic food is  healthier or not, consumers seem to have made up their minds. People are also choosing organic  because it is one of the few guarantees that produce, meats and other products  are created without using synthetic pesticides or herbicides, genetically  modified ingredients, antibiotics or growth hormones.

Eight out of ten adults say they eat breakfast—which is good news, since breakfast eaters tend to be healthier and less likely to eat more  empty calories later in the day. And from our SA profiles it seems eggs and smoothies are a popular breakfast
favourite.  Not only that, our favourite breakfast recipes are becoming mainstream dishes during the rest of the day. Who doesn't have pancakes/waffles for dinner sometimes?  . 
Yes, goat. It was on a few lists!  And a little digging found that it is the most-consumed meat in the world  (nearly 70 percent of all red meat consumed globally is goat). However, on the wave of the goat cheese, goat milk and goat yogurt comes the inevitable appearance of goat meat.  There are now complete cookbooks devoted to goat! 

Slow Cooker, Year-Round
In the last 10 years, Grandma’s crock pot has made a comeback and with it, all of her classic comfort food recipes. Slow cookers have become the hot wedding gift and now people are using them year-round for everything from breakfast (check out this
oatmeal recipe from cooksmarts.com) to dinner.  Try the Ginger Garlic Slow Cooker Meatballs from healthcheck.org.

Greek Yogurt
Greek yogurt is trendy right now, but it does live up to its nutritional hype. Greek yogurt provides "a good dose of protein and is an important source of calcium, potassium and phosphorous." 
For Health Check dietician Carol Dombrow’s take on health food trends and a list of the top 50 healthy foods read her article from the
Huffington Post.

What is the fastest growing trend on the internet?

The  fitness blogging world has taken the internet by storm in the last few years. (See how hip SummerActive is with our own blog!).   From mommies to grandparents, from students to worker bees there is someone and  something in the fitness blogging world for everyone.

Since we are all trendy people I thought I would research a few fitness/healthy living blogs and share with you the ones I thought were cool and interesting

These all made it into some sort of “Top 10 Blogger” list.

Fitness Test Drive

Fitness Test Drive is about reviewing all kinds of cool (and maybe some not-so-cool) fitness stuff like DVDs, books, gadgets and gear.

The blog is written and generally managed by,
Amanda Vogel, from Vancouver, B.C.   Amanda has researched, reviewed and  written about fitness products for lots of credible magazines, including  Health, Today’s Parent, Shape, Chatelaine, Best Health, Prevention. She seems to be good at sizing up fitness products for their benefits and drawbacks. Her bio shares the fact that she has worked in the fitness industry for somewhere around 16 years, so when it comes to fitness, she is pretty clear on what’s a good deal and what’s lame or not particularly useful. Although her last posting was in April - so I am not sure how often you will see new information.

I may try the WalkJogRun iphone app she recommends – check it out
Janet and Greta
Janet and Greta - Good food, good health good fun

These Canadian ladies are the genius behind the Looneyspoons  cookbooks.  I have them all and find their recipes good for anyone slightly challenged in the kitchen like me.  They are basically on the healthy side with ingredients I can pronounce and find in my grocery store.  I make their oatmeal chocolate chip muffins every week for my kids’ lunches.

Check out of few of their recipes
 Motive  Nutrition

When I was on this site I was really just impressed with the content and layout. The more I read the more I liked this Vanessa Perrone.  She seemed really genuine and smart…then I found out she was from Montreal! – so now even better…
What’s her MOTIVE? 
Good health & great food.  My goal is that somewhere along the way, I can motivate you to get back to basics, eat real food and take charge of your health.”
(I know I know, this one is not Canadian but with the tag line “being fit is always in style” I had to check it out…and I liked what I saw.)

started her blog to share her healthy recipes, workouts, and lifestyle with her personal training clients. Apparently her site has become the go-to blog for quick  workouts, clean eats, and a dose of what it's like to really live a fit  lifestyle in the "real world."   

This one seems to have it all – check out the tabs at the  top!

If you  have a favourite fitness/healthy living blogs - please share in the comments below.
I did not know  this, but Quidditch  – that game made popular by Harry Potter and his wizardry friends, is now actually being played by real people!   In the book it is a very dangerous and confusing game played in the air –
but somehow as the books became more popular, people across the world turned it  into something mere muggles can play.  
In  2005, students at Middlebury  College in Vermont spearheaded writing a quidditch rulebook and promoting the  sport at nearby colleges. There is now an International Quidditch Association which  today oversees the activities of more than 300 college, high school and  community teams from across the globe.

Ottawa University has a team – they even participated in Quidditch World Cup VI, in Kissimmee, Florida. You can read more about their matches
Carleton University also has a team.  Check it out

Quidditch, is a full-contact, co-ed sport. A quidditch  lineup consists of seven players with a minimum gender ratio of two women to  five men or vice versa. All players must run with a broomstick between their legs at all times.

The players include keepers (1), chasers (3), beaters (2), seekers (1) and of  course the snitch.

Quidditch matches only end once the snitch has been snatched. As  such, game length is variable. However, referees typically give snitch runners  instructions about when to return to the pitch, where they are most likely to be  caught. Most tournament matches last 30  minutes.

Anyone interested in playing?  We could all wear fun capes...not sure where we’d find the brooms though.

We all know we SHOULD be exercising to improve our health.  It seems most of us need some specific strategies to help us get started and keep it going.

Let's get started....

1.  Set Specific, Manageable Goals. For example, plan to exercise for  20 minutes, three times a week. 

2. Use a Variety of Daily Reminders. Schedule your exercise sessions  on your calendar like any other appointment. At work, carve out 10 minutes to walk during lunch

3.  Invest in a Good Pair of Workout Shoes. Make sure they have good  cushioning and arch support and feel so good that you'll look forward to putting them on. 
4. Find a Buddy, a Class, or a Group. Involve your family and friends in your physical activity program. You'll gain support and companionship. When someone is depending on you and striving for the same goals, this helps motivate you. Not only that, it just makes exercise more fun.

 5.  Start Slowly. Keep at it, and within three months or less, you'll notice a big difference in  your level of fitness. You'll feel better, have more energy, sleep more soundly and reduce your stress. Even small quantities of exercise and activity add up to  big benefits. Just fit it in whenever you can.

Physical activity is important for heart health. It can help lower your blood pressure, control cholesterol levels and exercise your heart.

here for more tips to get physically active.

If you have some tips for staying active, please share in the comment section.