June 23, 2009

Sidney Pier Hotel & Spa Launches Shaw Ocean Discovery Centre, British Columbia

At Vancouver Island's Sidney Pier Hotel & Spa, enjoy a New Summer Attractions package, Marine - Themed Spa Treatments and a 100 per cent Ocean Wise culinary commitment. The much anticipated Shaw Ocean Discovery Centre, adjacent to the Sidney Pier Hotel & Spa, has opened its doors to the public offering a state-of-the-art aquarium and marine education centre focusing on the ecosystem of the Salish Sea.

To celebrate the exciting new venture The Sidney Pier Hotel is demonstrating its commitment to local waters and local businesses. The property has joined forces with the new marine development as well as other Saanich Peninsula favourites to offer a Summer Attractions Package . For $299 per couple spend the night in a Classic Room, visit the world-famous Butchart Gardens and Butterfly Gardens, enjoy a tasting at Sea Cider Farm & Cider House, and be amongst the first to experience the wonders of the Salish Sea at the Shaw Ocean Discovery Centre. Reservations can be made by calling 1.866.659.9445.

The Haven Spa is offering guests the opportunity to experience the relaxing and healing powers
of our oceans with one of three marine-inspired treatments. Each uses a combination of Ancient Secrets products including Green Tea Seaweed Salt Glow, Seaweed Body Butter, Sea Water Mineral Mist or the Seaweed Firming Mask. Choose from the Marine Manicure, 60-minutes for $75; Pacific Coast Pedicure, 70-minutes for $95; or the Pacific Seaweed Body Firming Wrap, 60-minutes for $125. Your spa treatment at Haven their 3,250 square-foot-spa, salon and fitness centre - includes an optional workout in our ocean view Fitness Centre as well as access to the Eucalyptus steam room and peaceful Spa Sanctuary. Call 250.655.9797 to book your treatments today.

Partnering with the Shaw Ocean Discovery Centre, Haro's Restaurant + Bar demonstrates their
100 per cent Ocean Wise commitment with a dinner featuring the wines of Gray Monk Estate Winery on Thursday, June 25. Guests will enjoy bubbles and canap├ęs in the new Ocean Discovery Center followed by a multi-course oceanfront dinner in Haro's. Local and sustainable is the focal point of the evening, and guests will enjoy mingling with Julia and Susan Grace of Moonstruck Cheese; Mike McDermid, Ocean Wise program manager from the Vancouver Aquarium; and Angus Matthews, executive director of the Shaw Ocean Discovery Centre. Tickets are $95 per person (excluding tax & gratuity). Call 250.655.9700 to make reservations.

The Sidney Pier Hotel & Spa

June 6, 2009

Cool to be Healthy Again ~ Tara Stiles

Remember when it was cool to complain how crazy hung over you are and how wasted you got last night? Do you have fuzzy memories of waking up with McDonald's wrappers scattered around your bed and you can't quite remember what all happened? Remember a time when you would call your BFF and see if the two of you could piece together last night's debaucherous events? That was probably around high school or college for most of us.

But, habits begun as some fun and a way of getting around a little social awkwardness (ok maybe a Lot of social awkwardness) have a way of continuing. It's easy to slip into a late 20s to 40-something who still finds lots of disposable income ending up in bars and junk food. Sometimes it's fun, maybe. But mostly unhealthy habits just create additional hurdles. We're required to work doubly hard just to undo whatever happened during those fuzzy hours. Really it's not that cool. What's cool is having fun without creating a heap of difficulties that we have to carry around and work hard to undo. What's cool is being healthy! It definitely makes getting older and moving beyond those college years a lot more fun.

A shift happens when you decide to be healthy. You start to feel really good. You go from wanting not to deal, to actually wanting to deal with life, future, goals, your past, and your relationships. Maybe having a great body motivates you. The good news is a great body goes along with living healthy. Our bodies are all great! We just sometimes need to remember that taking care of ourselves is actually more fun than some of those other habits.

Take alcohol as an example. It attacks the liver first when broken down. Your body can't use it for energy right away, so it ends up stored as fat in the cellular lymph. Alcohol is considered a threefold factor in creating cellulite because it attacks three basic defenses of our bodies all at once: digestive, nervous and kidney. And how about those "beer bellies" - just a matter of a few extra alcohol calories stored as fat? Not exactly. Calories in-calories out isn't the whole story here. Rather, the main effect of alcohol is to reduce the amount of fat your body burns for energy. Alcohol gets converted into acetate, which stops fat loss.

A study from the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition gave eight men 2 drinks of vodka and sugar-free lemonade separated by 30 minutes. Each drink contained just under 90 calories. Fat metabolism was measured before and after consumption of the drink. For several hours after drinking the vodka, whole body lipid oxidation (a measure of how much fat your body is burning) dropped by a massive 73%.

Your body uses whatever you feed it. If you feed it alcohol, your body will burn the acetate before the fat. That means a lot more hours in the gym or on the yoga mat before you are even chipping away at anything. If you've ever been at the gym beside someone who was drinking the night before you can smell the alcohol sweating out of them. Pretty nasty, isn't it?

You may be thinking, "I work hard and have my life together. I like to unwind on the weekends and get a little wasted. So what's wrong with that?" Nothing's wrong with that. Do what you want and what makes you happy. But also spend a little time looking at habits that add a big weight you get stuck carrying around. Why are we so wound up in the first place that make us need to drink so much? It's a good place to start. It can help sometimes with letting go of the old habits.

Thankfully it's cool now to be healthy. Organic shopping, cooking at home and with friends, yoga, hiking, walking, biking are all activities that awesomely cool people do. It's not cool to complain too much about life, job, weight and overall happiness. We all know there is plenty available to do about it. Get to a yoga class, go for a run, ride your bike, eat healthy foods. When you live healthy you feel great - both while you're doing it and the next morning too. You stop fighting against yourself. You have all the tools you need to shape your life how you want it to be.

~ By Tara Stiles.
Tara Stiles is the founder of Strala Yoga. She's also a model and yoga activist. www.tarastilesliving.com

June 3, 2009

Willow's Bid on the Boys ~ Toronto, Ontario

Donovan Bailey, Craig Oliver

Congratulations to the guests, volunteers, organizers, sponsors, and bachelors of the 2009 Bid on the Boys Breast Cancer Charity event. The event was held in Toronto Friday May 29th in sponsorship of Willow.org. The glamorous night was attended by close to 1,000 people in support of Willow - a Canadian-based breast cancer charity providing immediate resources and support to women diagnosed with breast cancer.

The event included entertainment throughout the evening, dinner, a raffle and silent auction. The evening’s highlight was a bachelor auction, with a tailor-made prize package behind each man.

Bachelors included: actor Carlo Rota, Olympian Donovan Bailey, Chef David Adjey, Dr. Mark Cohen, Dr. Harmeet Gill, Dr. Jason Noble, kilt-wearing Brendan Fitzpatrick, pilot Jeff Lewis, forensic investigator Greg Olson, Police Detective Chris Slywchuk, Police Officer Brian Chambers, Spas of America-president Craig Oliver, and Firefighters of the York Region.

Kudos to co-hosts Maureen Holloway and Sheila Clark who did an amazing job bringing the evening together, and maximizing monies raised. Maureen is heard across Canada as host of The Last Word, a commentary on the foibles of the famous, featured live every morning across the country. Sheila is event host for www.northofthecity.ca and www.yorkregion.com, the community website of the York Region Media Group.

Greg Olson, Chris Slywchuk, Craig Oliver, Dr. Harmeet Gill, David Adjey, Dr. Jason Noble

Spas of America was a proud participant in the event. Special thanks to our friends at: Deserving Thyme; Ilike Organic Skin Care; Elizabeth Grant; GloSodin Skin Nutrients; and Roots Canada who provided prizes. Your participation was greatly appreciated.

For more information on Willow, please visit their website. http://willow.org

June 1, 2009

Better Running Through Walking

I am more couch potato than runner. But not long ago, I decided to get myself into shape to run in the New York City Marathon, on Nov. 1, just 152 days from now. (Not that I’m counting.)

To train for my first marathon, I’m using the “run-walk” method, popularized by the distance coach Jeff Galloway, a member of the 1972 Olympic team. When I mentioned this to a colleague who runs, she snickered — a common reaction among purists.

But after interviewing several people who have used the method, I’m convinced that those of us run-walking the marathon will have the last laugh.

Contrary to what you might think, the technique doesn’t mean walking when you’re tired; it means taking brief walk breaks when you’re not.

Depending on one’s fitness level, a walk-break runner might run for a minute and walk for a minute, whether on a 5-mile training run or the 26.2-mile course on race day. A more experienced runner might incorporate a one-minute walk break for every mile of running.

Taking these breaks makes marathon training less grueling and reduces the risk of injury, Mr. Galloway says, because it gives the muscles regular recovery time during a long run. Walk breaks are a way for older, less fit and overweight people to take part in a sport that would otherwise be off limits. But most surprising are the stories from veteran runners who say run-walk training has helped them post faster race times than ever.

One of them is Tim Deegan of Jacksonville, Fla., who had run 25 marathons when his wife, Donna Deegan, a popular local newscaster and cancer survivor, began organizing a marathon to raise money for breast cancer research. When Mr. Galloway volunteered to help with the race, Ms. Deegan asked her husband to take part in run-walk training to show support.

“The only reason I did this is because I love my wife,” said Mr. Deegan, 49. “To say I was a skeptic is to put it very nicely.”

But to his surprise, he began to enjoy running more, and he found that his body recovered more quickly from long runs. His times had been slowing — to about 3 hours 45 minutes, 15 minutes shy of qualifying for the Boston Marathon — but as he ran-walked his way through the Jacksonville Marathon, “I started thinking I might have a chance to qualify for Boston again.”

He did, posting a time of 3:28.

Nadine Rihani of Nashville ran her first marathon at age 61, taking walk breaks. Her running friends urged her to adopt more traditional training, and she was eventually sidelined by back and hip pain. So she resumed run-walk training, and in April, at age 70, she finished first in her age group in the Country Music Marathon, coming in at 6:05.

“My friends who were ‘serious’ runners said, ‘You don’t need to do those walk breaks,’ ” she said. “I found out the hard way I really did.”

Dave Desposato, a 46-year-old financial analyst, began run-walk training several years ago after excessive running resulted in an overuse injury. He finished this year’s Bayshore Marathon in Traverse City, Mich., in 3:31:42, cutting 12 minutes off his previous best.

“I run enough marathons now to see everybody totally collapsing at the end is very, very common,” he said. “You wish you could share your experience with them, but they have to be willing to listen first.”

Another unconventional element of walk-break training is the frequency — typically just three days a week, with two easy runs of 20 to 60 minutes each and a long run on the weekend. The walk breaks allow runners to build up their mileage without subjecting their bodies to the stress of daily running, Mr. Galloway said.

Many runners take their own version of walk breaks without thinking about it, he says: they slow down at water stations or reduce their pace when they tire. Scheduling walk breaks earlier in a run gives the athlete control over the race and a chance to finish stronger.

While I’m planning to use run-walk training to complete my first marathon, I’ve heard from many runners who adhere to a variety of training methods. So later this week, the Well blog will have a new feature: the Run Well marathon training tool, with which you can choose any of several coaches’ training plans and then track your progress.

Besides Mr. Galloway, plans are being offered by the marathoner Greg McMillan, who is renowned for his detailed training plans that help runners reach their time goals; the New York Flyers, the city’s largest running club, which incorporates local road races into its training; and Team for Kids, a New York Road Runners Foundation charity program that trains 5,000 adult runners around the world.

The Run Well series also gives you access to top running experts, advice from elite runners, reviews of running gadgets and regular doses of inspiration to get you race-ready.

So please join me, the coaches and other running enthusiasts every day at the Well blog, nytimes.com/well, during the next five months of training. For me, this is finally the year I’ll run a marathon. I hope it will be your year too.

Tara Parker - Pope, New York Times