Category "Lifestyle"


A public affair: When cheaters get caught through social media – National

by BBG Hub

Justin Timberlake recently made headlines when he was caught on camera cosying up to and touching his co-star Alisha Wainwright.

The performer took to social media after the photos were widely shared online to apologize to his wife, Jessica Biel, and their family.

“A few weeks ago I displayed a strong lapse in judgement — but let me be clear — nothing happened between me and my co-star,” Timberlake posted on Instagram.

“I drank way too much that night and I regret my behaviour. I should have known better.”

READ MORE: Single by choice — Why these Canadians don’t date

But Timberlake is not the only one to get caught canoodling — or cheating — thanks to social media. A recent Washington Post restaurant review reportedly exposed an ongoing affair after a woman’s husband was photographed with another woman at the establishment.

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For Jordan, who asked to only be identified by his first name, a Facebook message was how he discovered his long-term girlfriend was cheating.

The Toronto-area resident said his girlfriend had recently called off their engagement, but he had no idea why. When a stranger sent him a note saying he was involved with his partner, things became more clear.

“I looked at [the message], and it said: ‘Want to know why you’re not getting married? Ask [your girlfriend] and whatever she says, you can be sure that it’s just the tip of the iceberg,’” Jordan recalled.

“I was shocked, that’s the only way to describe it. I was beside myself… It was like something out of a movie.”

Are you digitally cheating? Here’s what an online dating expert has to say

Are you digitally cheating? Here’s what an online dating expert has to say

Social media has changed the way people cheat — and get caught cheating, says Toronto-based psychotherapist Jupiter Vaughan.

Dating apps or sites specifically created for extramarital affairs, like Ashley Madison, have made cheating more accessible. This is especially true for people already tempted to stray, Vaughan said.

What’s more, Vaughan says because so much of our lives are documented online and phones double as cameras, it is much easier for cheaters to be caught.

“Getting caught cheating pre-technology, you had to literally run into the person or you had to be told by a friend. And that friend didn’t have a camera, so they had no proof,” said Vaughan.

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“What if a friend is lying? What if you don’t want to believe that person? There was a lot more up in the air. Now, it’s like, ‘I saw Bob with Jane, and here’s my photo.’ Everyone’s a detective, and it’s a really different landscape.”

Social media also makes it easier to reach out to people who are being cheated on, as in the case of Jordan.

After Jordan received that heart-wrenching Facebook message, he got the man’s number and called him. After their chat, Jordan had more questions for his girlfriend.

READ MORE: The millennials who have never been in a relationship

“I made her kind of give me a timeline of everything that happened because it had been [going on] for about three months,” he said. “She had deleted all of their text messages… and I knew I didn’t trust her.”

He left their shared home, and they eventually broke up.

Moving forward

Vaughan says if you receive information or photos regarding a cheating spouse, you should first verify the source. If there’s photographic evidence, it can be hard for cheating partners to deny the allegations.

After you confront your partner, it’s important to surround yourself with loved ones and lean on a strong support network, Vaughan said.

Therapy can also be instrumental in working through the loss and betrayal that often comes with affairs.

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What should you do if your partner is texting their ex?

What should you do if your partner is texting their ex?

Jordan has learned a lot through his experience. He says he coped by spending time with friends and putting himself in positive environments.

He says even though being cheated on was devastating, learning about the affair through social media was eye-opening. Had he not received that first Facebook message, it is unclear if the cheating would have come to light.

It’s been a few years now since the incident, and Jordan has moved on. He is in a happy relationship and is getting married this year.

READ MORE: Does watching porn count as cheating? Experts debate digital infidelity

His advice for those who discover cheating?

“Don’t close yourself off to the possibility of meeting someone else.”

[email protected]

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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Don’t fall for these ‘money-saving’ schemes targeting holiday shoppers – National

by BBG Hub

Holiday marketers have your number — and they know how to entice you to spend.

You try to rein it in, but two favorite strategies can lead to spending more, according to a 2018 survey by the Center for the New Middle Class, a research organization funded by Elevate, which lends to credit-challenged borrowers.

Consumers who shopped at sales were 50 per cent more likely to say they spent more than they expected. Among shoppers who used coupons, 38.5 per cent said they overspent.

READ MORE: Christmas shopping could put 62 per cent of millennials in debt

Many shoppers try to be careful instead of making a spending plan. Using a budget can feel like it’s wringing the joy out of a happy season. Why? Giving feels good, says Jeff Kreisler, co-author of Dollars and Sense: How We Misthink Money and How to Spend Smarter.

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But simply being careful doesn’t work, “because a lot of the reasons we make poor financial decisions are unconscious,” says Kreisler, who is editor in chief of, which applies behavioral science to the marketplace.

However, you can position yourself to recognize — and overcome — overspending triggers.

Use the best defense: A holiday budget

Ashley Feinstein Gerstley, a financial coach and founder of the Fiscal Femme website, advises setting aside time — not over an hour — to list holiday expenses.

Build in a buffer, because you’ll forget some things. But you’ll be better off if you have a number in mind, she says.

Be realistic, not rigid, about your budget. Otherwise, controlling expenses can seem so futile you don’t bother trying, she says. “It’s like being on a strict diet and figuring if you cheated and had a cookie, you may as well eat the whole bag.”

Gifts ideas under $50 for everyone on your shopping list

Gifts ideas under $50 for everyone on your shopping list

If you worry about overspending, consider getting a prepaid gift card in that amount, Kreisler says. It can help you stay aware of what you are spending and what’s left.

Having a successful holiday spending plan may also inspire you to create a budget to help you achieve financial goals throughout the year.

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Understand how sales can cost you

Shopping sales can be smart, but only if you’re strategic and aware of the psychology at play.

Kreisler says if you see a $100 cashmere sweater marked down to $40, your brain registers “saving $60.” Train yourself to translate that to “spending $40” and compare how it fits into your spending plan.

Then, figure out how much the sweater is worth to you. Would you still want it if $40 was the regular price? It’s the same sweater and the same money but minus the rush of feeling that you got a deal.

READ MORE: Friends, bosses and in-laws — How much should you spend on holiday gifts?

Watch out for impulse purchases, too.

Gerstley says she’s encountered products she never knew existed while shopping (think cell phone sanitizer or weighted blanket) and suddenly wanted them. Badly.

She’s a fan of “the 48-hour rule”: Put the item back on the shelf or abandon your virtual cart, and if you still want it 48 hours later, go ahead and buy it. Often you won’t, she says.

Understand that marketers use one-day sales or even shorter buying windows to create urgency. Fear of missing out can lead to poor decisions; buy only the items you intended to anyway.

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Know the trouble with coupons

Coupons can save you money — or tempt you to upgrade because of your “savings.”

Kreisler says a coupon is great if you’ve been waiting for a discount to buy something specific on your list. If you’ve done your research and buy the item you intended to, using a coupon to drop the price, then you really are saving.

Ask an Expert: Holiday Parenting Tips

Ask an Expert: Holiday Parenting Tips

As with sales, it’s important to focus on your spending, not your “savings.” If you have a coupon for $10 off a $50 purchase or $30 off a $100 purchase, would you spend more to “save” more? Stick with what you intended to spend.

Keep these tips in mind as you shop

Kreisler offers these additional tips for spending less:

— Imagine how the holidays would be different if you spent a little less on a particular gift. Would it really detract from the joy?

— If you cannot afford to reciprocate with a gift of equal monetary value, consider giving something else of value, such as offering an evening of child care or creating a painting. Write a note about why you chose the gift especially for the recipient.

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— If you want to trim your gift list, discuss it with friends and family shortly after the holidays, when warm feelings abound. Announcing it late in the year isn’t a great idea.

© 2019 The Canadian Press

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Why some Canadians go family-free over the holidays – National

by BBG Hub

Lori Harito felt refreshed after last year’s holiday season — largely because she got out of town.

Harito, a Toronto-based PR professional, and her partner decided to head to London, England, for 12 days and forego rushing between her family’s Christmas celebrations and his.

“We pre-planned that we would cook Christmas dinner and stay in all day watching Netflix. And that’s exactly what we did,” she said.

“I will always remember the tranquility because it was in direct contrast to the chaos of family get-togethers. That’s not to say I don’t love being with my family, but I spend so much time with them outside of the holidays… that missing a few weeks won’t affect our relationship.”

Meddling in-laws can ruin relationships during the holidays. Here’s how to avoid it

Like Harito, some Canadians opt to spend the holidays away from family and prefer a more peaceful, quiet pace. For those who have strained familial relationships or no close family, getting out of town may be the best option for their well-being.

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“If you have an experience or you feel a certain way that isn’t… the societal expectation, then you begin to think that something must be wrong [with you],” said Rana Khan, a Toronto-based psychotherapist.

“It is at those times that I like to remind people to not get caught in thinking what’s ‘right’ and what’s ‘wrong,’ [but] turn their thinking towards what’s helpful and what’s unhelpful.”

Why the holidays can be emotional

The holidays can be a joyous time for many, but they also come with a lot of expectations, said Khan. These can include how you think you should act and feel, as well as how others should behave.

Between giving the “perfect” gifts, making good impressions on in-laws and hosting, the pressure can be a lot.

Overcoming holiday depression

Overcoming holiday depression

What’s more, if you head home for the holidays and you have a strained relationship with family, unresolved feelings can surface. Khan says people can find themselves frustrated with relatives if there’s a past history of conflict.

Death, divorce, and changes in family dynamics can also be hard to deal with during the holidays.

“Things that happen annually generally make people feel nostalgic and reflective as they begin to think about how things used to be,” explains Khan.

“If there is a difference between how things used to be and how things are now, it is common for people to feel lonely or sad as a result.”

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The decision to stay or go

When you are making plans for the holidays, Khan says you need to be honest about what you want to do and why.

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He suggests asking yourself things like: Who are you doing this for? Who benefits from your actions? What would others want you to do? Could others be harmed by your decision? Could you be harmed by your decision?

Need a vacation? The top 2020 travel destinations are out

If going home for the holidays will put you in a bad place — whether mentally, physically or emotionally — you may be better off elsewhere. Of course, not everyone can afford to leave town, but you can choose where to spend your time.

Spending the holidays with friends or chosen families can be very comforting.

“Making conscious, well-thought out decisions is often the most helpful thing you can do during the holidays,” added Khan.

Even though Harito has a great relationship with her family, getting out of town is a tradition she plans to continue. She says her family is supportive of her decision — even though they miss her on Christmas.

Holiday hangover hacks

Holiday hangover hacks

This year, Harito and her partner are going to Italy, before heading back to the U.K.

She can’t wait.

“On New Year’s Eve we will be in London with some of our friends who have already started planning things,” she said.

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“All we have to do is show up with champagne.”

[email protected]

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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Gifts under $50 for everyone on your list – National

by BBG Hub

The holidays are just around the corner, which means it’s time to check everyone off your shopping list.

It’s easy to overspend during the holidays — something many Canadians do. According to a recent report by Credit Karma, over a third of Canadian millennials expect to go into debt this holiday season.

The good news is Canadians are planning to spend less overall this year. More than half of Canadians said they will be spending less on gifts, a recent survey by Equifax Canada found.

READ MORE: Top trending, best selling gifts of 2019

Keeping budgets in mind, we’ve rounded up some of our top picks for gifts under $50. Whether you need a Secret Santa gift or something for your mother-in-law, here are some options.

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Biossance Rosy and Bright Minis

A perfect small gift or stocking stuffer, this set includes mini versions of Biossance’s Squalane and Rose Vegan Lip Balm and its Squalane and Vitamin C Rose Oil. Packaged in a sustainable satchel, this set is ideal for loved ones who enjoy vegan and cruelty-free products.

Price: $25

Available: Online at Biossance

Purist Maker bottle

This stainless steel bottle is perfect for those always on the go. It has an interior glass finish and is multi-purpose: It promises to keep cold drinks chilly for up to 24 hours and hot ones warm for up to 12 hours.

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Price: $49.95

Available: MEC

Allbirds Trino socks

READ MORE: Top holiday tech gifts of 2019

Shoe company Allbirds recently launched its sock collection made out of materials like wool and eucalyptus in a variety of styles. The knit fabric promises for a cooler and more breathable experience than wearing synthetic socks.

Available: Online at Allbirds

Price: $16 to $20

Heritage The Rock Non-Stick Frying Pan

This 12-inch frying pan offers a cooking surface three times more durable than regular non-stick pans. It’s also more scratch and wear-resistant than many other products on the market, making it a kitchen must-have.

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Price: $29.99

Available: Canadian Tire

Library tote bag

Cross book-lovers off your list. This large cotton tote bag from the Toronto Public Library is ideal for lugging groceries, gym clothes or, of course, books. A portion of sale proceeds is donated back to the Toronto Public Library, too.

Price: $25

Available: Online 

READ MORE: Geek Gift Guide 2019 — The ultimate holiday list for the nerd in your life

Edge everyday studs by Veronique Roy

Handmade in Montreal, these earrings are timeless and understated. They come in 14-karat plated gold or sterling silver, meaning they pair with just about any outfit.

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Price: $46

Available: Online

Vancouver Candle Co. candle

Give a truly Canadian present with a handcrafted candle from Vancouver Candle Co. with scents like The North, Kitsilano, Atlantic and Great Lakes. All candles are made with ingredients that include premium soy wax, cotton wicks and natural essential oils.

Price: $20 to $45

Available: Online and at Indigo

READ MORE: All the best gift ideas under $25

Black + Decker cordless iron

Never trip over an iron cord again. This Black + Decker cordless iron charges on a base and promises fast heating, making it ideal for ironing shirts in a pinch. A ceramic nonstick soleplate gets tough wrinkles out of fabrics.

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Price: $49.97

Available: Amazon

100 Countries, 5000 Ideas National Geographic book

A cheaper option than an all-expenses-paid vacation, this National Geographic book will give your loved ones some serious travel inspiration. With 100 countries featured and 110 original maps, this guide helps travellers plan trips to places like Argentina and Zimbabwe.

Price: $31

Available: Indigo

Thirty Bench Riesling

This medium-bodied Riesling has a touch of sweetness with flavours of pear, melon and peach. Made by small-batch producers in the Niagara Escarpment area, this Thirsty Bench wine pairs well with turkey, making it a great holiday hosting gift.

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Price: $29.95

Available: Online, local liquor stores including LCBO

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© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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T.I.’s hymen remarks spark NY bill to ban virginity tests – National

by BBG Hub

New York could bar doctors from performing so-called virginity tests under legislation prompted by rapper T.I.’s controversial remarks that he has a gynecologist check his daughter’s hymen annually.

Assemblywoman Michaelle Solages said Tuesday the bill she submitted last month would prohibit medical professionals from performing or supervising such examinations, though it’s unclear how common they are in the U.S. New York would also consider it sexual assault when such tests are performed outside of a medical setting.

“It’s medically unnecessary,” the Democrat said. “It’s often painful, humiliating, traumatic. All in all, it’s a form of violence against women.”

READ MORE: T.I. makes sure his daughter’s hymen is ‘intact,’ experts say that’s problematic

Her bill has attracted support from three Democratic lawmakers, and Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s administration officials called the practice “disturbing.” Solages said no other states have such bans.

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The World Health Organization, U.N. Women and the U.N. Human Rights office called for the end of the tests worldwide last year. They said the testing often involves inspecting the hymen or inserting fingers into the vagina.

T.I., also known as Clifford Joseph Harris, Jr., drew criticism when he said in a November episode of the podcast Ladies like Us that he asked a gynecologist to check his teenage daughter’s hymen shortly after her birthday each year. She is now 18.

“I put a sticky note on the door: ‘Gyno. Tomorrow. 9:30,’” the rapper said.

After his comments prompted backlash on social media, he told Jada Pinkett Smith on the Facebook interview show Red Table Talk he’d been exaggerating and that “he was never in any exam room.”

OBGYN sits down with Global News to educate people on the hymen

OBGYN sits down with Global News to educate people on the hymen

Phone and email messages were left with T.I.’s publicist Tuesday.

Experts say such testing is painful and that there’s no evidence such testing shows whether a woman or girl has had vaginal intercourse.

“There is no test that can tell you whether someone had intercourse, whether consensually or non-consensually,” said Ranit Mishori, a professor of family medicine at Georgetown University and senior medical adviser for Physicians for Human Rights.

Mishori said there’s a mistaken belief that you can tell whether someone’s had vaginal intercourse from a tear in a hymen, which can also tear from tampons or physical activity.

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Some women lack a hymen, a membrane that partly covers vaginas which can also change as a girl matures due to hormonal changes.

READ MORE: T.I.’s hymen comments reflect society’s ‘antiquated view’ of virginity: experts

“It’s of course not only impossible to tell for sure, but also a violation of woman’s rights,” said retired obstetrician-gynecologist Jaana Rehnstorm, who is the founder and president of gender equality non-profit The Kota Alliance.

Such testing stems from cultural concerns about a woman’s “purity” or “marriageability,” Mishori said.

“If a women is not a ‘virgin,’ her prospects of being married, her prospects of securing a family, her prospects of being thought of as an upstanding citizen can go down the drain,” she said.

“These are very sexist ideas about women and sexuality.”

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But criminalizing the practice is “misguided,” Mishori said.

Rapper T.I. says he makes sure his daughter’s hymen is ‘intact’

Rapper T.I. says he makes sure his daughter’s hymen is ‘intact’

“I think the solution is we have to think about education, we have to think about changing social norms,” she said.

“We have to think about breaking down stigma and educating not only the patients in front of us but the family members and community members.”

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“I think unfortunately, if you ban it or if you criminalize it, it will drive it underground,” she said.

Such examinations have been documented in at least 20 countries. The extent to which they are performed in the U.S. is unclear, though Mishori said that physicians have shared anecdotes of patients and parents requesting such testing.

“This happens in different communities — not just migrant or immigrant communities, but also maybe very, very religious communities,” she said.

READ MORE: T.I. defends controversial comments about his daughter’s hymen

American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists President Ted Anderson has said the organization does not have guidance on so-called virginity testing.

“As a medical organization, ACOG releases guidance on medically indicated and valid procedures,” he said in a statement.

Solages called the practice “barbaric,” saying it is based on the idea that women are men’s property. She said just one instance, such as T.I.’s, of such an examination happening is enough for a ban.

“Whether he was being serious or he was being sarcastic, he brought to the limelight that this is happening in the U.S.,” she said.

© 2019 The Canadian Press

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Prince Andrew accuser pleads for public support: ‘This is a story of abuse’ – National

by BBG Hub

Virginia Roberts Giuffre, who alleges she was forced to have sex with Prince Andrew when she was 17, is asking the British public to support her quest for justice.

Giuffre tells BBC Panorama in an interview to be broadcast Monday evening that people “should not accept this as being OK.”

“This is not some sordid sex story. This is a story of being trafficked, this is a story of abuse and this is a story of your guys’ royalty,” Giuffre tells the program.

Giuffre’s first UK television interview describes how she says she was trafficked by convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein and made to have sex with Prince Andrew three times, including once in London.

READ MORE: Prince Andrew’s history with Jeffrey Epstein explained

Her interview airs just weeks after Prince Andrew’s rare sit-down with BBC Newsnight, in which he denied having sex with Giuffre.

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BBC Panorama interviewed Giuffre last month as part of their investigation about Prince Andrew and his relationship with Epstein. Before airing Giuffre’s interview, the Queen’s third child agreed to sit down with BBC journalist Emily Maitlis.

The prince’s interview has been called “disastrous” in the media. The 59-year-old said he had “no recollection” of ever meeting Giuffre, adding that there are “a number of things that are wrong” with her account.

Giuffre says she was 15 and working at Donald Trump’s Florida Mar-a-Lago club when she was recruited by Ghislaine Maxwell and Epstein to perform sex acts.

Prince Andrew says he has no recollection of meeting Jeffrey Epstein accuser

Prince Andrew says he has no recollection of meeting Jeffrey Epstein accuser

Maxwell, a British socialite, once dated Epstein and has since been accused of playing a key role in recruiting and grooming underage girls for Epstein’s alleged child-sex-trafficking ring.

Maxwell is also friends with Prince Andrew.

Giuffre claims she was introduced to Prince Andrew in 2001 through Epstein and Maxwell.

She alleges she danced with the royal at a nightclub in London, and was then forced to have sex with him at Maxwell’s house when she was 17.

“He is the most hideous dancer I’ve ever seen in my life. His sweat was like it was raining basically everywhere,” Giuffre says in her TV interview.

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READ MORE: A look at Jeffrey Epstein’s Caribbean cove, known to locals as ‘Pedophile Island’

“I was just like grossed out from it, but I knew I had to keep him happy because that’s what Jeffrey and Ghislaine (Maxwell) would have expected from me.”

She said that Maxwell told her she would have to do for Andrew what she had done for Epstein, meaning she would have to have sex with the prince.

“That just made me sick,” Giuffre said.

Giuffre says she had sexual encounters with the prince in London, New York and the U.S. Virgin Islands and that Epstein flew her around the world on private planes to have sex with other powerful men.

READ MORE: Prince Andrew to step down from public life amid Epstein scandal

Prince Andrew has denied these allegations.

A photograph of the prince with his hand around the waist of a teenage Giuffre standing next to Maxwell has been widely circulated.

The prince told the BBC he has questioned the legitimacy of the photo and says he does not recall it being taken.

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Epstein died by suicide in August while in custody awaiting trial on sex-trafficking charges.

The BBC interviews airs Monday night.

— With files from the Associated Press

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© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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More than 1 in 4 say they’ve seen gymgoers leave bathroom without washing hands: survey – National

by BBG Hub

Have you ever seen someone hop off an elliptical machine without wiping it down?

According to a recent survey, many gymgoers witness this offending behaviour — and they hate it.

One in five people said not wiping down equipment was the worst breach of gym etiquette, a report by Treadmill Reviews found. That being said, over 30 per cent of exercisers admitted to committing the offence.

READ MORE: Grunting at the gym — How loud is too loud?

Other things that grinded gymgoers gears included not putting free weights back on racks, as well as walking around barefoot.

What’s more, 25 per cent of women surveyed and 30 per cent of men reported “often or always witnessing someone use the bathroom at the gym but forgo washing their hands.”

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These bad behaviours not only spread germs, said Rolin McQuade, a Toronto-based personal trainer at GoodLife, but they can disrupt other gymgoers’ workouts.

“If you’re the person who is potentially battling something, make sure you’re looking out for everybody else by not passing on what you’ve got,” he said.

Survey finds 16 per cent of women have feared for their lives while running

Survey finds 16 per cent of women have feared for their lives while running

McQuade, who has worked at the gym for nearly five years, understands why people get annoyed when weights are left laying on the floor.

Dumbbells or weighted plates are easy to trip over — especially if you’re focusing on an exercise and not looking down.

How to practice good gym etiquette

It may come as a surprise but free weights are the pieces of equipment that should be wiped down the most often, McQuade said.

“Those touch your hands — and people sneeze into the hands a lot.”

READ MORE: New to working out? Here’s how to overcome exercise anxiety

Most gyms have bottles of disinfectant spray and paper towels in multiple locations, and clients should make use of those cleaning tools.

But instead of spraying disinfectant onto a paper towel, McQuade suggests spraying the product directly on equipment. After letting it sit for a few seconds, then use the towel to wipe it down.

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“If you don’t know if [equipment] has been clean beforehand, it’s probably a good idea to give it a little rub down before using it,” he added.

When it comes to the change room, McQuade says shower shoes are key.

Not only do they help protect the transmission of warts, they also help the bathroom and shower area clean.

What not to wear to the gym

What not to wear to the gym

How to handle bad etiquette

If you see a chronic offender who never wipes equipment or puts weights away, it’s best to let gym staff deal with them.

McQuade says you should let staff know if you’re concerned that equipment isn’t being cleaned, or if you’ve witnessed some less-than-desirable behaviour.

It’s also important to lead by example. Model good gym etiquette by wiping down mats, exercise machines and free weights before and after using them, McQuade said.

“If everyone took ownership of their own things, it would go a very long way.”

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© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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The science of addiction: How our bodies get hooked on drugs, alcohol – National

by BBG Hub

Addiction, which affects roughly 21 per cent of Canadians at some point in their lives, can damage the brain, body and more.

Unfortunately, the illness is often portrayed as a choice — a misunderstanding that can further stigmatize people who struggle with substance use and addiction.

“Addiction is not a choice,” says Kim Hellemans, chair of the neuroscience department at Carleton University in Ottawa. “Sure, we’ll make the decision to use [the first time], but nobody decides to live that lifestyle.”

READ MORE: ‘Not in my backyard’ — How NIMBYism impacts access to vital support services

Many Canadians still don’t really know the science behind how addiction affects one’s brain and body. By talking more about what addiction is, how it feels and how it can be treated, Hellemans hopes the stigma might lessen.

What is addiction?

The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) defines addiction as the presence of four things: cravings, loss of control of amount or frequency of use, compulsion to use and use despite the consequences.

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The exact science remains unclear, but doctors believe there are a region and a circuit in the human brain “listening for when we engage in highly rewarding events,” said Hellemans.

“When we eat tasty food or have sex, there’s a natural reward circuit [triggered] because when we engage in these rewarding events, they tend to increase our survival.”

Regina man shares experience with opioid addiction and dependency

Regina man shares experience with opioid addiction and dependency

Most addictive substances target this system.

“Whether you shoot heroin or drink alcohol, smoke nicotine or cannabis, they all start to activate that pathway,” Hellemans said. “It translates to us feeling good.”

In people who develop addiction, doctors believe their “baseline reward pathway activation” is low.

READ MORE: Quebec parents seek class action against creators of ‘addictive’ Fortnite game

“When they engage in heroin or alcohol use, it elevates the activity of that pathway so they feel like … that’s just normal,” she continued.

She noted if someone has depression or anxiety, and uses a substance to relieve symptoms, the brain notes this particular substance makes them feel good.

The pathway triggered by those substances, traditionally intended to signal survival, is triggered by something that is actually bad for you — but your brain doesn’t know this.

“Your brain starts telling you that engaging in these behaviours is going to mean you’re more likely to live,” she said. “[That’s why] people who are trying to quit those substances may feel like they’re dying. That circuit isn’t being activated.”

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Who becomes addicted?

Not everyone who uses an addictive substance, such as alcohol, cannabis or cocaine, will necessarily become addicted. Some people are considered more vulnerable than others.

Doctors are still trying to determine a complete list of risk factors, but at present, the following are known to contribute to addiction:

  • Genetic factors: This is particularly true for alcohol addiction.
  • Trauma: People may turn to substance use as a way of “coping” with difficult emotions or situations, according to CAMH.
  • Inter-generational trauma: “If your grandparents have experienced trauma, that could put you at risk,” says Hellemans.
  • Personality: “Some aspects of personality can make people more likely to use substances and engage in risky behaviours,” she adds.

How to prevent ‘brain drain’ and successfully unplug for the holidays

How to prevent ‘brain drain’ and successfully unplug for the holidays

How quickly a person becomes addicted to a substance will depend on the person and the drug, Hellemans says.

“Heroin and nicotine are highly addictive, [while you’re] less likely to develop addiction to cannabis. You can still develop an addiction, but it’s less,” she says.

The signs of addiction will also be different for everyone, but one common factor is continued use in spite of the adverse consequences.

“They use and they have a hangover, so they don’t go to work,” says Hellemans. “You’re not meeting your parental obligations. You’re not meeting your work obligations.”

Addiction is an illness

There’s a common misconception that continuing to use a substance after developing an addiction is a choice.

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“The people who love that person are often really torn apart because they can’t understand why this person would still be choosing to do this when it’s ruining their life,” said Meredith Henry, director of the New Brunswick chapter of the Canadian Counselling and Psychotherapy Association (CCPA).

This can lead those struggling with addiction to lose their support systems.

READ MORE: ‘Sesame Street’ tackles opioid addiction with muppet Karli

The stigma around addiction can also prevent people from coming forward to ask for help.

“A lot of times, people do feel that they are being judged [because] … this is seen as something they’ve done to themselves, instead of understanding a lot of factors that went into the person ending up where they are,” Henry said.

This judgment can be passed by friends, family and even health-care workers.

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“If the first face that you see is somebody who’s judging you from a professional standpoint, then that’s not going to make you likely to want to continue down that road,” she explained.

Hellemans has seen this happen first-hand.

“When people actually go seek treatment, they are treated very differently than individuals who have another chronic disorder,” she said.

“Let’s say somebody has diabetes, and they don’t take their insulin. Do they get shamed? No. If somebody has an addiction and they relapse, do they get shamed? Yes.”

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This can contribute to the further marginalization of groups already on the periphery of society.

READ MORE: For more than five years he was addicted to opioids. This is one man’s story of recovery

“Take any chronic disease and replace the word addiction with whatever that word is, and you will see how stigmatized our society is in terms of treating these individuals,” Hellemans said.

“They’re often populations of people who have had a horrific life experience … people who have come back from war, people who have lived in poverty, people from oppressed societies and Indigenous Peoples.

“Stigma is a huge piece of addiction treatment. It’s not allowing us to be well.”

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That’s why the CCPA is running the #TalkingCanHelp campaign in conjunction with National Addictions Awareness Week.

We want to try and eliminate some of that stigma, ignite a discussion around mental health care and get people aware of … the service providers … they can turn to and how can those types of professionals help,” she says.

If you or someone you know is in crisis and needs help, resources are available. In case of an emergency, please call 911 for immediate help.

The Canadian Association for Suicide PreventionDepression Hurts and Kids Help Phone 1-800-668-6868 all offer ways of getting help if you, or someone you know, may be suffering from mental health issues.

[email protected]

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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Going on vacation? Here’s how to prep your home – National

by BBG Hub

People tend to spend a lot of time planning their holiday travel but not a lot preparing for their return home. But returning to a mess — minor bummers like an empty fridge or stinking garbage can, or major problems like frozen pipes — can make it difficult to savour the good times you had while away.

Some simple pre-departure tasks are crucial to a happy homecoming. These include: tidying up, putting your mail on hold, stocking up on frozen or non-perishable food (or scheduling a grocery delivery for when you get home), unplugging appliances, turning off the water supply, putting fresh sheets on the beds and giving a spare key to a friend.

“It’s awful to come home to a cold and messy home,” says Amy Panos, home editor of Better Homes and Gardens.

READ MORE: Skip sidewalk salt, up the insulation and other expert tips for winter

“It’s definitely worth it to clean up before you go. Think about what you want to come home to …. Take out the trash, and if there’s food in the fridge or on the counter that will spoil before you get back, get rid of it.”

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Jacqui Gifford, editor-in-chief of Travel and Leisure, says she travels about once a month and has set routines before each trip.

Here are some tips from the experts:

Tidy up: Take out the trash and dispose of perishable foods, Panos says. Make sure your home looks neat and welcoming.

Make it welcoming: Make sure you have groceries on hand to make an easy meal when you return, says Gifford, who suggests things like frozen foods or pasta with sauce as easy fixes for the travel-weary and hungry.

Panos says it’s also nice to have freshly made beds waiting for you when you get home.

Preparing your home for the holidays

Preparing your home for the holidays

Safeguard your home: Program your lights to turn on and off at regular intervals. Have your mail and subscriptions placed on hold so things don’t accumulate at your front door, tipping off potential thieves that you’re away. Reinforce sliding glass doors, lock all doors and windows and leave your car in the driveway, Panos and Gifford say.

You might consider waiting until you’re home to post your travel pictures on social media so you’re not advertising to the world that you’re away and your home is empty, Gifford says. Letting your neighbours know that you’ll be away is also a good idea, says Panos, so they can keep an eye on things while you’re gone.

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Shut things down: Turn off the main water switch if you’ve got finicky plumbing, says Gifford, and put together a checklist of things that need to be turned off or unplugged. Set your thermostat lower before you go and, if possible, program it to heat up again right before you get back, suggests Panos.

“The last thing I do before heading out the door is to unplug all my electric items,” Gifford says.

READ MORE: Flocks of ‘snowbirds’ escape Canada each winter. Here’s how to join them

“It’s good for your pocketbook because it saves energy and can save your electrical items in case there’s a power surge. It’s also good for the environment.”

Leave a key: Give a spare key to a friend or neighbour, in case you realize on your way to the airport that you forgot to turn something off or need something checked on, Gifford says.

Consider extra security measures: In addition to the more basic pre-departure steps, there are other precautions to consider.

“Make sure your itinerary is left with a friend or neighbour not going on the trip so someone knows where you are in the world and how to reach you. It’s also a good idea to leave a copy of your passport and credit cards with a family member and also bring a copy with you that you can keep separately from your documents in case they’re stolen,” Gifford says.

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If you travel frequently with children or someone with health issues, supplemental travel insurance may be a good idea, she says.

“One in 30 trips ends in a medical emergency and, particularly if you travel a lot, that extra sense of security is worth it.”

© 2019 The Canadian Press

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Skip sidewalk salt, up the insulation and other expert tips for winter – National

by BBG Hub

Winter came early this year for much of Canada, and the snow and colder temperatures may have caught you off guard.

Unfortunately, there are many months of winter weather still to go. Global News chief meteorologist Anthony Farnell says many places across the country can anticipate low temperatures and more snow than usual.

Thankfully, there’s still time to prepare your home so you stay warm (and save money) until the warmer weather returns next spring.

READ MORE: Flocks of ‘snowbirds’ escape Canada each winter. Here’s how to join them

Small changes — like switching to a natural alternative for salt to melt snow and ice — can be extremely beneficial for not only the environment but your lawn and pavement as well.

Here are some tips for preparing your home for the winter ahead.

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Chris Palmer is a professional carpenter and home expert based in Toronto, and he’s seen first-hand what can happen if eavestroughs aren’t cleared before extreme cold sets in.

“We need to make sure we unclog the troughs of all the leaves that came down in the fall,” he said.

“If we weren’t diligent and we weren’t cleaning up our leaves and we see them now in the troughs, there’s a good chance we’re going to have ice damming in the first thaw we’ll get after snow.”

Winter Ready Week: Holiday commitment mistakes

Winter Ready Week: Holiday commitment mistakes

Ice damming refers to the ridge of ice that forms at the edge of a roof and prevents melting snow from draining. The water, left to sit in a heavy puddle, can start to leak into the home and cause severe water damage.

“You’ll also see troughs jammed up, not leaking, and then they’ll be [too heavy] and snap off the side of the house,” said Palmer.

“That kind of stuff is what we try to avoid by just doing simple maintenance, removing leaves and branches and debris [as it collects].”

Trees and ‘problematic branches’

Anything that looks like it’s “leaning over the house” should be chopped down before bad weather — especially ice storms — can set in, according to Palmer.

“Look for problematic branches, anything that looks like it’s leaning over the house or any tree that looks like it might snap,” he said.

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“Call a tree service or do it yourself with some pruners and pull saws. Get that tree ready for snowfall.”

The more debris you can remove prior to heavy snowfall, said Palmer, the better.

Ditch the salt

Salt is still widely used by Canadians as an effective way to clear stairs, driveways and walkways of snow and ice. However, it can be extremely harmful to your grass, pavement and local waterways.

“We still have a lot of people throwing salt down, and then they wonder why their grass is brown in the spring. Why is my concrete looking a thousand years old?” said Palmer.

“The worst part about it is it goes into our waterways and floods our systems with too much salt in the water.”

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Top cold and flu remedies for the winter season

Top cold and flu remedies for the winter season

Instead, Palmer suggests buying an eco-friendly melting agent. These are usually easier on your lawn and cement, and they tend to be more gentle on dog feet, which can be injured by salt.

He recommends LavaGrip, an organic and non-corrosive agent that can be reused.

Plug ‘air leaks’

“It’s estimated that the average homeowner can reduce heating costs by up to 20 per cent by simply sealing or properly insulating where air is escaping the home or seeping in,” said Michael Schmidt, area director and chief inspector for HouseMaster Home Inspections of Toronto.

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“Many of these solutions are quick and inexpensive, even for the layman.”

When it comes to plugging all the spots where cold air might enter the home, Schmidt recommends the following:

  • Caulking around windows and doors where the seal is cracked or a seam is exposed, replacing worn or damaged weather stripping
  • Caulking or insulating areas where plumbing fixtures, vent lines or electrical wiring extend to the exterior of the home
  • Insulating the attic hatch or access door and sealing edges with weather stripping
  • Adding insulation sealers behind electrical outlet and switching plates, particularly those on exterior walls

READ MORE: Cuffing season — Why are people more inclined to date during the winter?

Palmer adds that if you have a patio or balcony where snow can collect and push up against the side of your house, you should consider having a “bead all the way across those structures” in between the wood and the brick.

“Water, once it freezes and gets into a crack, as soon as it thaws and expands, it can break the concrete, the brick [and] the mortar and start to turn on you,” he said.

Another way to stay warm, said Palmer, is to change the direction of your ceiling fans.

“The blade spinning counter-clockwise helps cooling,” he said. “in the wintertime, we change to a clockwise direction [because it] actually draws the hot air down to keep warmer air recirculating.”

‘Top up’ your insulation

Heat is also known to escape through your attic, if you have one. Both Schmidt and Palmer suggest an insulation top-up if you haven’t done one in a while.

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“Heat loss through the attic can account for 40 per cent of a home’s heating bill,” said Schmidt. “Topping up the insulation in your attic is often an easy and cost-effective way to increase comfort levels and improve energy efficiency.”

He recommends hiring a reputable company in your area to assist to ensure you don’t end up with mould come the damp spring weather.

Winter Ready: Travel tips for Canadian Snowbirds

Winter Ready: Travel tips for Canadian Snowbirds

“The installation of baffles, an inexpensive styrofoam form, is often required when adding a significant amount of insulation to an attic to ensure proper ventilation is maintained,” he said. “In the course of our inspections, we regularly encounter mould in attics due to the lack of baffles, which results in the insulation blocking the soffit vents and stifling air circulation.”

Palmer said attic top-ups are typically needed every 10 to 15 years.

“You might notice that your insulation is starting to settle and it doesn’t hold the heat. The higher it is, the more value it contains,” he said.

Frozen pipes

Unfortunately, given Canada’s extremely cold weather, frozen pipes aren’t uncommon. They’re not only inconvenient — the damage can be catastrophic.

“If a pipe ruptures, thaws and then rushing water floods the basement or other area of the home, [it can] damage both the property and your personal possessions,” said Schmidt.

He has three recommendations so you can avoid frozen pipes this winter.

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Hundreds of scarves pop up in Regina’s Victoria Park to help those in need

Hundreds of scarves pop up in Regina’s Victoria Park to help those in need
  • Turn off and drain all your outdoor faucets in the fall before the first frost. Typically, there is an interior shutoff valve that needs to be shut off each winter. Locate this interior valve, turn it off and drain the line by opening the valve on the outside of the home to prevent freezing from exposure to outside temperatures. Empty pipes can’t freeze.
  • Follow the directions about plugging air leaks. This will go a long way to reducing air infiltration, which can lead to frozen pipes.
  • Keep the heat on. Even significantly lowering the temperature of the home can be a risk. If plumbing is located on exterior walls or if it is underused, lower interior temperatures can lead to frozen pipes as temperatures in the plumbing may fall even lower.

If the heat goes out, Schmidt suggests running the water a bit to keep things moving.

“Go to the lowest fixture of the home and open the valve a trickle so that a small but steady drip of water empties into the sink, bath or shower,” he said. “This small flow of water will keep the water moving within the plumbing system so that it hopefully won’t freeze.”

READ MORE: 7 ways to fix your dry, cold home this winter

In the event that your pipes freeze, there are some immediate things you can do to avoid catastrophe while you wait for professional help.

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“First, locate the shutoff valve for your water main. This is often at the water meter in your basement or utility room but sometimes can be at a ground-level valve in your front yard,” said Schmidt. “You will want to turn this off if a pipe bursts. Alternatively, there is often an upstream shutoff valve at the water heater if you can’t find your water meter or the valve is stuck.”

Then, turn the heat up in your home to “raise the overall interior temperature,” which may help thaw the frozen water.

A third of Canadians not prepared for winter emergency

A third of Canadians not prepared for winter emergency

“Running a hairdryer on exposed areas of the affected pipes or bringing a space heater into the affected room may also help,” he said.

“Once thawed and flowing, leave the fixtures on a trickle to avoid re-freezing until a more long-term solution can be introduced or outside temperatures increase. In the long term, a reputable plumber or other qualified contractor should be consulted to assess the situation and make corrections as needed.”

If you’re travelling…

It’s not uncommon for Canadians to leave the cold in search of warmer weather during the winter months.

If you ever leave for longer than two weeks, Palmer encourages you to enlist a trustworthy friend or family member to keep an eye on your property.

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“Have somebody who’s there to shovel your driveway, shovel your sidewalk to make sure it looks like a) you’re home and b) your residence is safe for anybody coming up your steps,” he said. “Everybody’s liable for their property.”

READ MORE: Winter can get expensive. Here’s how to avoid overspending

Palmer also recommends shutting off your main water source.

“If your furnace fails, it’s going to give you less problems if the pipes burst,” he said.

“Set your heat settings to a minimal heat and consider updating to a smart thermostat.”

This will allow you to control your settings from your phone wherever you are in the world.

[email protected]

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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