Emotional Agility: How Yoga Helps Us Find It

Emotional Agility: 

How Yoga Helps Us Find It

By Jelayna Da Silva


How does yoga help build emotional health? Specifically, how can it help build ‘emotional agility’? A catchy turn of phrase coined by Dr. Susan David, Harvard PHd who wrote a book all about it. She defines emotional agility as “the skills of being healthy with ourselves”. It’s the ability to recognize thoughts, emotions and stories, including the difficult ones, learn to make peace with them, give them space, and teach ourselves healthy ways to manage our sometimes intense inner world. 


Dr. David uses the word ‘signposts’ to describe emotions. This is a total game changer. Emotions are indicators. They’re necessary, natural, temporary reactions to any given situation. To wit; emotions are data, not directives.


Feelings are valid. They matter. Processing them is key. It doesn’t mean they should always be acted upon. If we flew into a rage every time we were angry, we’d have high blood pressure and quite possibly no friends. If we suppress anger, turning it inwards and potentially against ourselves,  is absolutely no good either. The question then becomes, “How do we increase emotional awareness, allow ourselves to feel emotions, even the scary ones, and then choose how to appropriately act?” — Enter yoga and breathwork. 


Victor Frankl, psychiatrist, author and Holocaust survivor said, “Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”


Yogic breathwork teaches us how to find and lengthen this “space”. When you experience strong emotions, breathe your way through. Simple? Yes. Easy? Not so much. Worth it? Absolutely.


Sahita Kumbhaka is a state of suspension between the breaths. The practice is to inhale slowly, pause at the top of the breath, exhale slowly, pause at the bottom of the breath, finding stillness through focused breathing. It lengthens the ‘in-between moments’ where calm space resides.


Deep breathing during powerful emotions calms the nervous system, slowing down the fight or flight response. It provides peaceful, powerful space, granting time and clarity to identify feelings and choose our next move. This is internal agility.


No matter how acute and uncomfortable an emotion may be, it will inevitably pass. Deep breaths while quietly repeating “this too shall pass” is one way to self-soothe. You are not the feeling. You are what witnesses the feeling.


Anger, sadness, grief, frustration; emotions we’re all experiencing more of living through a pandemic are NORMAL, not ‘negative’. We’re not broken, bad, or failing, “Difficult emotions are a part of our contract with life”– Dr. S. David.


As you learn to make peace with emotions, be fiercely patient and kind to yourself. On paper it sounds practical. In practice, it’s friggin’ hard. Like all things worth doing, it takes time and effort. Trust that you’re worth the effort.

Jelayna Da Silva is a well-certified, passionate yoga teacher, currently offering public and private classes online to practitioners from all walks of life. www.jelaynayoga.com

Punishment Workouts

We Get Letters!

Like it or not, each issue, Tonic Publisher Jamie Bussin gives his thoughts on health and wellness.

Punishment Workouts


Exercise advocates sometimes get a reputation for zealotry. Some have suggested that ‘Crossfitters’ enjoy bragging about their workouts more than the actual workouts. Soul-cyclists and Pelotoners can come off as culty. Even yogis can veer into evangelism. It doesn’t take much to get me talking about my exercise regimen: one of the few things that this cynic actually believes in. And when you talk about workouts, inevitably the discussion devolves into the difficulty, challenge or intensity.  While my workouts are punishingly hard, they aren’t meant to be punishments. 


What are punishment workouts? Raise your hand if you’ve ever overindulged – dessert, snacks, wine, edibles etc. Keep your hand up if the next day you felt guilty about said overindulgence and decided to kick up the intensity of your usual workout. Maybe you thought that adding an extra 5 km to your run would balance out the row of cookies you scarfed down the night before. Or you polished off the Scotch to wash down said cookies, and despite the hangover and rumbly tummy you’re going to accept that 100 burpee challenge. (Note: these are hypothetical examples, which may or may not be grounded in reality).


But I’m not saying that hard workouts are bad per se. It’s important to challenge yourself physically. The takeaway is that the reason for the hard workout contextualizes the endeavour. And I say this, with the complete understanding that I’m hardwired to be motivated out of guilt. The truth is that punishment workouts don’t work in the short run or the long run (pun intended). If you really had a Scotch and cookie session blowout, one workout isn’t going to balance out that carb orgy. Exercising harder with a hangover might lead to illness or perhaps an injury. And if you indulge/punish a few times and get away with it, it might devolve into an unhealthy cycle. 


But most importantly, and I have to remind myself of this all the time, you shouldn’t think of exercise as punishment (unless you’re a masochist), because then you won’t want to exercise.  Exercise will become the thing you have to do in order to indulge in the behaviour you want to do. Exercise, even hard exercise, shouldn’t be thought of negatively. For some that is a difficult concept – they just don’t enjoy exercising. To that I would respond; if there truly is no form of exercise that you like then focus on the results of regular exercise. You will burn more calories. If you sweat, you will help your body rid itself of impurities and toxins. If you include some aerobic intensity, you will experience an endorphin release (aka. The Runner’s High). In my experience, regular exercise helps regulate sleep patterns and increase the quality of your rest. You’ll feel better, probably look better and that might benefit your relationship with your partner. And the more you exercise, the more you’ll be able to exercise and receive increased quantitative and qualitative health benefits that I’ve listed.


For more health benefits look no further than this issue of Tonic. Jelayna Da Silva explains how yoga can help with your emotional agility; Carlyle Jansen explains how anxiety can impact your sex life or you can learn how to boost your energy levels through lifestyle and supplement choices from an excerpt of my interview with Ian Clark. As always, if you’d like to discuss this note or anything you’ve read in this issue, feel free to reach out to me.

The Ins and Outs of RRIFs

The Ins and Outs of RRIFs 

5 Top Questions Answered

By Susan Gottlieb


You can think of a Registered Retirement Income Fund (RRIF) as an extension of your Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP). Your RRSP is used to save for your retirement while your RRIF is used to provide you with retirement income. The main benefit of a RRIF is that it provides you with maximum flexibility in establishing an income stream during your retirement. Although you are generally required to take a minimum payment from your RRIF each year, there is no maximum and you can make withdrawals as often as you wish. Another major advantage of a RRIF is that the assets that remain in the plan continue to grow on a tax-deferred basis until you withdraw them. This article focuses on the main considerations associated with receiving income from your RRIF, including calculating your minimum payment as well as the withholding taxes on your RRIF withdrawals. Any reference to a spouse in this article includes a common-law partner.


Establishing your RRIF

Usually, you can only contribute to a RRIF by directly transferring certain property to it. You can establish a RRIF by transferring amounts from an RRSP, a Pooled Retirement Pension Plan (PRPP), a Registered Pension Plan (RPP), a Specified Pension Plan (SPP) or from another RRIF. 


Starting in the year after the year you establish a RRIF, you have to take an annual minimum amount. In other words, there is no minimum payment required in the calendar year in which you convert your RRSP to a RRIF.


The minimum amount is calculated based on your age at the end of the previous year. If you have a spouse, you can elect to have the minimum payment calculated based on your spouse’s age. If your spouse is younger than you, this will lower your required minimum payment. You must make this election when you first establish your RRIF. Once you make the election, you cannot change it at a later date, even if your spouse dies. You would have to transfer your existing RRIF assets to a new RRIF in order to make a new election for whose age to use in calculating your minimum payments. Keep in mind, that when you open a new RRIF, you must receive the minimum payment for the year. The minimum cannot be transferred to the new RRIF.


Although there are various maturity options for your RRSP, you may decide to transfer your RRSP property to a RRIF. You can do so at any time, however you must do so by the end of the calendar year in which you turn 71. The investments held in your RRSP should be transferred directly into the RRIF account. You are generally not required to liquidate your RRSP investments prior to transferring your RRSP property to a RRIF. In the case where you convert all or part of your RRSP to a RRIF before age 71, you are able to transfer the value of your RRIF in excess of the annual minimum payment back to your RRSP.


Receiving income from your RRIF

You can withdraw more, but not less than the annual minimum. The excess amount you withdraw from your RRIF cannot be applied as part of your minimum for the next year. You can choose to receive your RRIF payments monthly, quarterly, semi-annually or annually, depending on your income requirements. If you do not require income from your RRIF to meet your financial needs, you may consider receiving the annual minimum payment at the end of the year to maximize the tax-deferral benefits of your RRIF.


Calculating your RRIF minimum payment

Your RRIF minimum payment for each year, after the year your RRIF is established, is calculated by multiplying the fair market value (FMV) of your RRIF at the end of the previous year by a prescribed percentage factor. The prescribed percentage depends on your age or your spouse’s age (if applicable) at the end of the previous year (depending on whose age you elected at the time the RRIF was established).


For ages under 71, the prescribed percentage factor is calculated by the following formula: 1/(90 – age on December 31 of the previous year) x 100


For example, if the RRIF is based on your age, and you are age 56 as of December 31 of the previous year, the prescribed percentage factor would be 1/ (90 – 56) x 100, or 2.94%. If the value of your RRIF at December 31 of the previous year is $500,000, then your required RRIF minimum payment for the year would be $14,700.


For ages 71 and older, the prescribed percentage factor is found in the tax regulations. Please refer to the RRIF minimum table for the prescribed percentage factors as set out in the regulations.


For example, if the RRIF is based on your age, and you are age 75 as of December 31 of the previous year, the

prescribed percentage factor per the regulations would be 5.82%. If the value of your RRIF at December 31 of

the previous year is $500,000, then your required RRIF minimum payment for the year would be $29,100.


Taxes on RRIF income

Your RRIF withdrawals are included in your taxable income and are subject to tax at your marginal tax rate. Your total taxable income will determine your total taxes payable. However, there are certain cases (discussed in the next section) in which financial institutions are required to withhold taxes from your RRIF payments. These amounts withheld are remitted to the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) on your behalf and are a credit towards your total taxes payable.


Withholding taxes

The amount you withdraw from your RRIF determines the rate of withholding tax that will apply to your withdrawal. There is no withholding tax applied to your minimum payment from the RRIF. If you elect to receive an amount above the minimum payment, income tax will be withheld at source on the amount in excess of the minimum. The withholding tax rates for Canadian residents are the same for all provinces and territories except Quebec.


Conclusion   A RRIF provides you with maximum flexibility in planning for your retirement. Ensure that you have a good understanding of how RRIF withdrawals work to better plan for your retirement cash flow. 


Due to space limitation, we are unable to reproduce the entire 6-page article.  Feel free to request an e-copy (in addition to a chart of the 2021 registered plan minimum and maximums) from me at susan.gottlieb@rbc.com or reference at www.susangottlieb.com



This document has been prepared for use by the RBC Wealth Management member companies, RBC Dominion Securities Inc. (RBC DS)*, RBC Phillips, Hager & North Investment Counsel Inc. (RBC PH&N IC), RBC Global Asset Management Inc. (RBC GAM), Royal Trust Corporation of Canada and The Royal Trust Company (collectively, the “Companies”) and their affiliates, RBC Direct Investing Inc. (RBC DI) *, RBC Wealth Management Financial Services Inc. (RBC WMFS) and Royal Mutual Funds Inc. (RMFI). *Member-Canadian Investor Protection Fund. Each of the Companies, their affiliates and the Royal Bank of Canada are separate corporate entities which are affiliated. “RBC advisor” refers to Private Bankers who are employees of Royal Bank of Canada and mutual fund representatives of RMFI, Investment Counsellors who are employees of RBC PH&N IC, Senior Trust Advisors and Trust Officers who are employees of The Royal Trust Company or Royal Trust Corporation of Canada, or Investment Advisors who are employees of RBC DS. In Quebec, financial planning services are provided by RMFI or RBC WMFS and each is licensed as a financial services firm in that province. In the rest of Canada, financial planning services are available through RMFI, Royal Trust Corporation of Canada, The Royal Trust Company, or RBC DS. Estate and trust services are provided by Royal Trust Corporation of Canada and The Royal Trust Company. If specific products or services are not offered by one of the Companies or RMFI, clients may request a referral to another RBC partner. Insurance products are offered through RBC Wealth Management Financial Services Inc., a subsidiary of RBC Dominion Securities Inc. When providing life insurance products in all provinces except Quebec, Investment Advisors are acting as Insurance Representatives of RBC Wealth Management Financial Services Inc. In Quebec, Investment Advisors are acting as Financial Security Advisors of RBC Wealth Management Financial Services Inc. RBC Wealth Management Financial Services Inc. is licensed as a financial services firm in the province of Quebec. The strategies, advice and technical content in this publication are provided for the general guidance and benefit of our clients, based on information believed to be accurate and complete, but we cannot guarantee its accuracy or completeness. This publication is not intended as nor does it constitute tax or legal advice. Readers should consult a qualified legal, tax or other professional advisor when planning to implement a strategy. This will ensure that their individual circumstances have been considered properly and that action is taken on the latest available information. Interest rates, market conditions, tax rules, and other investment factors are subject to change. This information is not investment advice and should only be used in conjunction with a discussion with your RBC advisor. None of the Companies, RMFI, RBC WMFS, RBC DI, Royal Bank of Canada or any of its affiliates or any other person accepts any liability whatsoever for any direct or consequential loss arising from any use of this report or the information contained herein. ®/TM Registered trademarks of Royal Bank of Canada. Used under licence. © 2020 Royal Bank of Canada. All rights reserved. 

Working With Unpleasant Memories

Working With Unpleasant Memories

Don’t Let Your Past Mess With Your Present

By Rod Macdonald, Certified Coach Practitioner and Tonic’s Resident Coach


Q: “I’ve never suffered any trauma or abuse, but I can’t seem to get past the negative memory of getting fired from a job a few years ago. I am still upset about it and want to get past it.”



A: Li, generally speaking, we all have unpleasant memories we have the power to manage. If they are related to trauma, then a therapist is the way to go; however, there are some steps you can take to begin the process of reframing the memory in a way that not only makes it less unpleasant, but also turns it into something you can benefit from. First, rate the unpleasantness of the memory from 1-10, with 1 being very mildly unpleasant to 10 being the most unpleasant. Try these steps in order and see what happens:


  1. Sit up tall or stand strong: This creates a physical rallying of resourcefulness.
  2. Breathe slowly and deeply: This activates the parasympathetic nervous system to reduce stress.
  3. Remind yourself the memory is not happening but is simply stored data: This intellectually reminds you that the memory is not real, but just data in your brain.
  4. Be grateful to your body and brain for attempting to protect you: This introduces positive feelings around your real reaction alongside the past situation.
  5. Extract the lesson available: Instead of focusing on the unpleasantness, focus on what you learned from the situation, about yourself, or others. For example, “I learned how resilient I am,” or, “Sometimes other people make decisions for reasons I won’t understand.”
  6. Reinforce your knowledge and wisdom: Acknowledge that the lesson you have extracted has now made you wiser and better able to deal with current or future challenges.
  7. Practice leveraging the renewed memory: Reframe the memory as neither pleasant nor unpleasant, but simply as something you learned from. Also, imagine a situation in the future that you or someone close to you may face and how this reframed memory may help you. 


Once you have gone through the steps, check in by assessing the memory on the same 1-10 scale you used earlier. The amazing thing is we get to decide what to do with the memory, even if we didn’t have a choice about the original experience. This power is yours for the using and can change your life if you use it.


Combining over 30 years in the field of self-development, Rod is the CEO of the Certified Coaches Federation, one of the largest coach education companies in the world, and a speaker, coach and author. For more information on the Certified Coaches Federation, visit www.certifiedcoachesfederation.com  


Want to ask Tonic’s Coach a question? Send a brief email to rod@certifiedcoachesfederation.com describing your challenge in 50 words or less, and one question will be selected per issue. 

Challenges For Canadian Healthcare

Challenges For Canadian Healthcare 

Considering Patients and Practitioners 

George Barakat and Jamie Bussin


In Episode #172 of THE TONIC Talk Show/Podcast we spoke with health and wellness expert George Barakat about the particular challenges facing the health care sector. This is an excerpt of that discussion. For the full interview please visit thetonic.ca


What challenges face the Canadian health care industry? Let’s start with the aging population and how we’ll have to systematically deal with that. We’re providing more efficiencies and services. There are disconnected health care platforms. There are greater calls for health equity – how do we join those records and connect those conversations and provide more value to the patient at the front end? And of course, when you put it all together, what has that done for the governments? It’s increased costs and therefore government spending. There are several touchpoints that the government has agreed to cover – virtual visits, telemedicine, now that they understand that everyone wants to stay home because of Covid-19. How do we put a rope around it, so there’s not just transparency but there’s the ability to pick and choose health care on demand at the patient’s pace? That could include technology such as voice translation apps, document translations. It could mean looking at how we conduct a health risk assessment to understand next steps, or even simpler, how one schedules an appointment whether online or in a clinic. 


With the changes brought on by Covid-19 and technology there are expectations.   On the surface it looks like we’re moving ahead quite rapidly. However how will this information being created by existing platforms such as video conferencing be disseminated? It also speaks to what the patients can do to impact their health outcomes. How does the information derived from patient tracking get used? 


What are the challenges that face Canadian health care practitioners? Practitioners are not only faced with the challenges of receiving technology, utilizing it and catalogueing the information so that it is part of the patient record and journey, but also how do they share that information so that it is available for other physicians to reference, utilize and disseminate back to the patient with a comprehensive report? This happens a lot with telemedicine. The technology is great, but more often than not, they’re being seen by a physician who is not their family physician – one who doesn’t recognize them or know them. For the speed of execution it’s usually a different physician who will come on. And that information isn’t being added to the patient’s health record. 


That “broken record” can lead potentially to health mismanagement. There could be duplication of efforts, or wasted resources. If those interactions were all coordinated and recorded then algorithms could be created for the patient and recommendations could be made for the patient so that they could make decisions on consuming health care as they see fit and live their best life. If you’ve seen 4 or 5 doctors in the past year – some in person, some via telemedicine, odds are that none of those interactions have been documented succinctly. How can a patient utilize that information or view it in a clear and concise fashion?


Does that result in the patient’s lack of faith in the system? If you don’t have all of that information collected and composed, how is the patient going to understand, through technology (which is why we created these touchpoints) what their next steps should be? It creates a larger reactive health care program. And what we want to do is to get everybody to become proactive and live their best lives.


It can be aggravating for patients just to set up an appointment or get a referral to a specialist. The health care system isn’t user-friendly because it isn’t really connected. That’s what we have to be mindful of. The way forward is to emphasize the concept of “Patient First”. I think that if you understand that if you design and record and place an ecosystem together that empowers the patient first and provides information, you can’t go wrong. 


What are the solutions going forward? We’re going to look at the patient’s first experience through a different lens. Traditionally, when you’re a patient, what you do is view health information. We can all Google about what might be wrong with us or where to find a physician or walk-in clinic. That is the limit of our ability to view information. What we want to do is have the patient consume health care at their pace. What that means is not just creating an informative portal, but also a usable one. Creating a shop-like atmosphere where we’ll have front-end applications and tools which could provide not just transparency but information to that patient. Imagine being able to do a health risk assessment which would lead to a product or service offering directly after. Imagine having an entire shopping cart of health items (medications, devices, nutraceuticals) which could have been created from a recommendation from your physician. That platform would be able to translate for Canadians who don’t speak English and also translate documents. And most importantly the platform would allow you to schedule an appointment with a physician. You’d be able to create your own health ecosystem and include your loved ones in it. I compare this to the way Apple, with iTunes, changed the way we consume music. At Jack Nathan Health we’re working on the complete reconstruction of the patient’s experience in consuming health care.



George Barakat is the CEO of Jack Nathan Health and is a health technology expert. For more information about George visit jacknathanhealth.com

Boosting Your Body’s Energy Levels

Boosting Your Body’s Energy Levels

Lifestyle Choices and Supplementation

Ian Clark and Jamie Bussin


In Episode #167 of THE TONIC Talk Show/Podcast we spoke with health and wellness expert and CEO & Founder of Activation Products, Ian Clark about the best ways you can boost your energy levels. This is an excerpt of that discussion. For the full interview please visit thetonic.ca


What causes low energy levels? There are a lot of things that impact our energy levels, but the three key factors are: stress, not getting clean fuel (because our bodies need the right nutrients to function properly), and the body suffering congestion as we age.


What happens to our body when we don’t have enough energy?  There are twelve different systems in the body, each of which rely on the others to function properly – a chain is only as strong as the weakest link. When one system gets compromised, when your digestive system can’t absorb enough nutrients for example, the whole body gets taxed. The liver and kidney function of filtering impurities out of the body is tied directly to your body’s energy.


Why is it important to have proper energy levels? Your cells produce ATP in the mitochondria. Each cell has millions of mitochondria. They’re like little engines. When the mitochondria are working efficiently the result is clean energy. When they get jammed up you can’t produce ATP – which is all of the bio-electrical energy that keeps your systems communicating and running properly. 


What is the role of quality rest?  When you’re tired that doesn’t necessarily mean you have a problem. Lots of high energy people get tired, and that means they need rest. They might rest for a half hour in the middle of the day and as a result have energy for the next eight hours.


Is it possible to eat your energy? What you consume is your fuel. The issue is how well your body is able to absorb the nutrients you get from your food and convert them chemically into energy. The problem today, particularly if you’re eating conventional food, is that you don’t know if your food has the right amount of vitamins and minerals. When was the food harvested? Is it naturally grown? What chemicals are in it? So people gravitate towards locally grown foods, organic foods, that have fewer toxins. This is a value proposition.  A lot of packaged foods don’t have good nutritional value. The focus should be on getting the necessary nutrients; the vitamins and minerals. Magnesium, Selenium and Zinc are so important. Magnesium, in particular, is known as the master mineral because it feeds 330 biochemical functions in the body. When people are low in magnesium a myriad of symptoms show up. As they age especially.


What supplements are helpful to boost energy? Vitamins A, D, K2, B complex and C are necessary. Consumers should be aware that there are massive differences in quality of products.  For example, inside a product like Black Seed Oil (aka Black Cumin Oil) there is such a broad spectrum of nutrients. You have to be mindful about the process in extracting the oil. This oil also supports liver function. Superoxide dismutase can be found in marine phytoplankton. It is an extremely efficient antioxidant.


Ian Clark is a health and wellness expert, advocate and CEO & Founder of Activation Products. For more information about Ian visit activationproducts.com

Tanya Saluturo is the owner of CanPrev Natural Health and is a health and wellness expert and advocate. For more information about Tanya visit canprevwomen.ca

Self Advocacy and Self Care

Self Advocacy and Self Care

Wellness Lessons Learned 

Tanya Salituro and Jamie Bussin


In Episode #158 of THE TONIC Talk Show/Podcast we spoke with health and wellness expert Tanya Salituro about how self-care played a role in her personal health journey. What she learned while overcoming three bouts of breast cancer is particularly relevant to those who might be deciding to defer treatment during the current pandemic. But also this interview speaks to wellness for yourself and in the context of the community. This is an excerpt of that discussion. For the full interview please visit thetonic.ca


How did your health journey start? Before you’re diagnosed with cancer, you first have to figure out that there’s something wrong. During the pandemic I’m hearing that people are pushing off going to see their doctor or therapist or alternative care practitioner. It all starts with listening to your body and listening to those symptoms, long before the diagnosis. I was 19 when I felt a lump in my breast. A year later I felt pain and even after that pain it took me another 4 or 5 months before I went to the doctor. I was diagnosed two more times with breast cancer after that. My company CanPrev is 15 years old and I am now 15 years cancer-free.


What did you come to understand about your wellbeing?  I’ve definitely become feistier about advocating for myself. I would encourage all Canadians to be their own health advocate. First of all you have to listen to and know your own body because you know it better than anyone else. Make notes to yourself. If you can’t be a strong advocate for yourself with your doctor, bring a friend or family member. Make sure to cover all your points and you’re going to be heard. And it’s hard, because the health system is overburdened and they don’t have a lot of time to hear about aches and pains. I love my naturopathic doctor, because they tend to take more time with you.


What sort of barriers did you see that prevent self care? Lack of information. You’re given a diagnosis and you’re given a little bit of information. When you go to the internet to get more information you can be overwhelmed. You have to find a balance. You do need to find out what your options are and follow up on what you find. Nobody was listening to me. The first time I was “too young” to have breast cancer. The second time it was “impossible” because I had undergone radiation therapy. The third time I was told it was “scar tissue” moving around that was causing my pain. I want to hammer home this point; you need to listen to your body.


In terms of internet research, credibility and accuracy can be a concern.  That was an issue for us when we started our company in the nutraceutical industry. There was, historically, a lack of trust, and so I wanted to create products that I could trust with safety and efficacy. I look to find studies if I can, rather than just accepting what’s being put out over the internet.


Is there an emotional barrier to advocating for your own health – particularly for women? There’s a feeling of guilt – if I take time for myself, will there be enough time to take care of my loved ones? I was in a weekly women’s meeting and one woman created a chart to fill in what we felt guilty about. What should have been a 5 minute exercise, took half an hour. The flip chart page was filled from corner to corner. Guilt keeps us back. We shouldn’t feel guilty about taking care of ourselves. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Being shy, being less confident, feeling guilty – we make excuse after excuse for not taking care of ourselves. But with age and wisdom we do gain confidence.


We’re speaking about personal responsibility, but what about your place in the community? During Covid, my daughter was doing a project on data management. And she had to come up with some statistics. And she came up with data that showed that the more social you are the healthier you are. Your community could be one person. It could be your best friend. It could be an old school friend or a nurse that visits you. I really have worked to develop my community. I’ve built community around sports, keeping in touch with old colleagues, former high school friends, my faith community, and my health care team. They’re all part of my community. Whether it’s one person or one hundred that’s going to propel your health forward. It takes effort to have relationships. But it’s also easy to use technology to send an email here, a quick message there or join an online group.  I recently joined one called Naturalists of Ontario. So when you make the effort it pays back in bucketfuls. My mother, who’s in her 80’s makes a list of who she’s going to call every week. She’s not waiting for people to call her. Because she’s lonely and it’s Covid. But she’s making that effort. It can be as simple as slipping a note under someone’s door. It’s almost a positive that’s coming out of the pandemic that we’re reaching out to see if people are okay. By reaching out, you’re bringing joy to your soul and making yourself healthier.


Tanya Salituro is the owner of CanPrev Natural Health and is a health and wellness expert and advocate. For more information about Tanya visit canprevwomen.ca

Nutrition For Those With Diabetes

Nutrition For Those With Diabetes

Establishing Facts and Busting Myths

Maha Saade and Jamie Bussin


In Episode #177 of THE TONIC Talk Show/Podcast we spoke with registered dietician and diabetes education expert Maha Saade about some of the facts and myths surrounding a proper diet for those with Type 2 diabetes. This is an excerpt of that discussion. For the full interview please visit thetonic.ca


Why is it important for people to consider their nutrition? We have to consider our body as a machine. This machine needs nutrients and fuel to be able to function properly. We get that from food. The goal is to get all of the systems in our body functioning properly. We get vitamins, minerals, protein, fat and carbohydrates from food. Those are the elements, but as dieticians we translate that into foods for our patients to eat to get a functioning body. But if we get to the point where we have a chronic condition, like Type 2 Diabetes, then food becomes a treatment.


Why do people with diabetes need to be careful about what they eat? With each condition there are triggers. With Type 2 Diabetes, when we eat certain foods, specifically carbohydrates, whatever the source, the blood sugar is going to rise. This is where I help my patients try to find a balance. We need the ‘good’ carbohydrates but not at the expense of higher blood sugar. A glucose monitor helps us choose our food. For example, if I eat a certain type of pasta I will notice in real time that my blood sugar rises more. So I can opt for an alternative, whole wheat pasta. Or that my blood sugar doesn’t rise in the same way if I have brown as opposed to white rice. We can experiment with the patients to see which foods suit them more.


What can people do to monitor and improve their nutrition intake? We start with the idea of the ‘healthy plate’. For the general population with no chronic health issues, half of the plate is fruits and vegetables, one quarter is whole grains and the other quarter is protein. For people living with diabetes, it’s not the same thing. Half of their plate should be a variety of vegetables, which would be a wide variety and include those which my patients like to eat in formats like salads or soups. A quarter would be grains focusing on whole grains. The last quarter would be protein with an emphasis on those which are vegetable based. From there, we adapt to what the patient likes to eat and based on what the glucose monitor tells us. We can also use apps to monitor food intake.


If diabetics are eating nutritiously, does that mean they have to give up their favourite foods?  Tools like the Freestyle Libre glucose monitor help us answer the questions,”Can I have those potato chips?” and “When can I eat them?” Usually the foods we want to eat are not the ones the dietician recommends. But I know that food is a pleasure in life, and I try to integrate their desires into the program. Maybe there’s a trade off of less brown rice and wholewheat bread, and an increase of vegetable fibre temporarily so that you can have a piece of cake on your birthday. 

Maha Saade is a registered dietitian, certified diabetes educator and certified pump trainer.

Coconut & Sambal: Recipes from my Indonesian Kitchen

Coconut & Sambal: Recipes from my Indonesian Kitchen

The Cuisine of Southeast Asia

Reviewed by Naomi Bussin


Of course it would be fascinating to travel to Southeast Asia.  After a year of being firmly rooted, I am not trying to sell you on armchair travelling.  But here are a few truths.  Pandemic or no pandemic, 1. I am not getting to Indonesia anytime soon 2. Indonesian food is delicious and 3. it’s interesting to learn about something new.  So, here we go.  


Coconut & Sambal was a small but mighty end-of-2020 book that gathered a lot of buzz. Author Lara Lee is an Australian born and trained chef currently living and working in London, England.  This book celebrates her Indonesian heritage and is targeted to the home cook.  


Coconut and sambal, a spicy condiment, are staples in the Indonesian kitchen. Sambal is customized in every kitchen but generally is made out of fresh or dried chilis, enhanced with a combination of garlic, ginger, lemongrass, tomatoes, citrus and/or fermented shrimp paste.    


Given the importance of sambal, I clearly had to make one. I chose tomato sambal, which was made of long red chilis and cherry tomatoes with some aromatics. It was simple enough to make, pureeing the ingredients and then sauteing them, although it did take a bit of time to cook.  I used my sambal for Oven Baked Fish with Tomato Sambal, which was easy enough to create, using the sambal with some lemongrass, lime and salt. It worked perfectly, and was spicy, salty, sweet and citrusy, just as I hoped.  I cooked it in the oven, but you could BBQ it in banana leaves or foil when the weather permits.  I cooked my fish with coconut rice, to cover all my Coconut & Sambal bases. The recipe and cooking method for the rice was different than usual and I was skeptical but it did cook properly.   


We also loved the Spiced Balinese Roast Chicken. Like a sambal, you make a spice blend of garlic, shallots, ginger and chilis and fry it, slather it over chicken and then cook it in the oven.  The chicken is placed above pieces of blanched kale (we added potatoes), which gets flavoured by the delicious juices. This was a keeper, although it does require multiple steps.  I feel that this can be adapted for the BBQ one way or another to make it simpler, but it was very good.  


I already like Nasi Goreng, Indonesian Fried Rice with Chicken and this bright yellow version, topped with fried eggs and homemade peanut sauce, did not disappoint.  Not a ton of work, just a lot of chopping.  


There are lots of other dishes to try, like Beef Rendang, a coconut milk curry, chili corn and easy no-churn Peanut and Banana Ice Cream.  Many vegetarian options and sample menus including dishes that will meet dietary restrictions.  Coconut & Sambal, delicious additions to your table, and your cookbook library.  


Naomi Bussin is a lawyer, mother of three and an accomplished cook. Food is her favourite subject and she reads cookbooks in her spare time.

5 Ways to Enjoy A Power Recliner

5 Ways to Enjoy A Power Recliner

The Best Seat in the House?

By Adarsh Shah


These days we find ourselves spending a lot more time at home in order to stay safe.  And, when we’re not sleeping, we’re sure doing a whole lot of sitting!  Since we’re in our chairs more than usual lately – whether in our bedroom or living room – it’s important to think about the way they can impact our posture, health, and quality of life.  

 your chair or sofa is a bit worn, a power lift recliner is something to consider. It can add comfort to your everyday activities, give you more independence, and improve your health and mobility.  

What is a Power Recliner?

You may have seen a power recliner but never knew it!  They look like traditional recliners – however, they house hidden electric motors that quietly glide you into the perfect relaxation position and can assist you into a standing position.  The motors can recline the back of the chair, elevate the footrest, and even raise the entire seat – all with the push of a button. Today’s power recliners are stylish, come in a range of colours and fabrics, and have modern features that can boost your health and enjoyment.

Read, Watch TV, Play Games in Total Comfort

Since we’re not able to socialize as much as in the past, and not able to travel, we have been forced to find other forms of entertainment.  And, on a lazy afternoon or quiet evening, what can be better than diving into a book and escaping into another world?  Using the wired remote, a power recliner can help you get cozy and adjusted into the perfect position, enabling you to sit comfortably for hours at a time.  

At other times, you might watch a Netflix series, play an online game, or catch up with friends on Facebook, while sitting in your power recliner.  Have peace of mind that your phone or tablet will always be charged, as many power recliners now come with built-in USB chargers.  

Improved Posture & Support for Your Spine

With up to 4 electric motors built into a power recliner, there’s no excuse for not having the right posture! We may have been scolded as kids, but the right posture truly adds years to a healthy spine.  In fact, the simple act of elevating your legs reduces a lot of strain on the back.  

In addition, some chairs feature a lumbar booster, which further supports your lower back and promotes better posture with the push of button.  If you suffer from shoulder or neck pain, you will find a neck tilt feature particularly useful for reducing strain.  This mechanism can be manually adjusted or motorized.  

Better Relaxation and Refreshing Sleep

A comfortable chair is important.  But, one that offers additional features that enhance relaxation is icing on the cake.  Many power recliners include a massage feature that helps to invigorate tired muscles.  On some recliners, enjoy a built-in heat feature for therapeutic warmth that can relieve arthritis.

Power recliners can also help you relax and catch a few extra zzz’s when you need them.  To adjust your position precisely for relaxation, use the hand control.  Or, simply press the preset memory position – available on many models – to glide into the Zero-Gravity position.  The Zero-Gravity position elevates your feet to the same level as your chest, enabling your heart to pump easier, reducing your heart-rate so you can fall asleep faster.

You may have seen these features in adjustable beds.  In fact, more and more, power recliners are taking a leaf from the sleep industry:  Even the seat can be made from pressure-relieving CertiPUR™ memory foam or gel cushioning.  It’s never been easier to nap!


Relieve Pain & Boost Wellness

Improving your posture will certainly reduce muscle pain, but it can also improve your wellness in other ways.  In particular, if you suffer from diabetes, have high blood pressure or cardiac issues, power recliners can give your health a well-needed boost.  Customizing your sitting and napping position, especially when in the Zero-Gravity position, increases blood flow and improves your circulation.  

In addition, instead of having to nap upright, a reclined sleep position opens the lung passages and makes it easier to breathe.  And, if your legs tend to swell, for example from water retention, elevating your legs will relieve those symptoms.

Some people sleep in a recliner because they simply cannot sleep in a conventional bed.  Pregnant women find sleeping in a bed uncomfortable—especially as they approach their due date.   Those with sleep apnea – a condition where sleep is interrupted due to oxygen deprivation – breathe better sleeping with their head in an upright position.  Doctors sometimes advise those suffering from osteoarthritis or spinal stenosis to sleep in a recliner as it allows them to elevate their head and knees.

Make Work-from-Home Easier & Gain Independence 

A power recliner is versatile, working just as well as a workstation as it does a spot for ultimate relaxation.  You might find that the power recliner is more ergonomic than most office chairs.  You can unchain yourself from your desk and send your emails, crunch those numbers, or even write your memoirs! 

Being able to work from anywhere gives you flexibility and independence. But perhaps best of all, a power recliner is future-proofed for a time when your legs may not be as strong as they once were, because the lift feature can raise you into a standing position without adding any strain on your hips or leg muscles. That means you may be able to stay in your home longer without caregivers and maintain your mobility.

It all begs the question: What can’t a power recliner do for you?

Adarsh Shah nurtures the rise of Ultramatic, the iconic Canadian brand of adjustable beds and maker of delightful wellness products for the home.

Visit ultramatic.ca or email info@ultramaticsleep.com