The Purple Fig Fri, 27 Feb 2015 16:21:05 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Losing It Less and Choosing Happiness More Wed, 25 Feb 2015 17:40:08 +0000 One day, after the fourteenth emotional breakdown from one of my two young boys, I found myself preaching the idea of happiness being a choice. “Choose happiness! It’s a choice. You have the control!”

Yes, my boys are three and five years old so I realize that without their fully evolved ability to self-regulate, this concept is not actually applicable. But I figure, why not start the dialogue early? Are we right to assume that because it’s hard for children to put things into perspective that we as adults have mastered this skill simply because we’ve been around for longer? I’m not sure about you, but I know all too well how easy it is to get stuck in the weeds.

Those damn weeds. 

It can be quite comical to witness a child stuck in these proverbial weeds. There they are arms stretched out, looking to the sky, “Why why why me?!” they seem to be lamenting. I may sound insensitive but after about a hundred of these outbursts that mainly stem from such things as the wrong colour straw or being called a poo poo face, one has to laugh at the rationale behind the emotion.

Ahhh, but when we’re in it ourselves, there isn’t much humour hovering close by.  I can know that something is not that big of a deal but if I’ve been swept up by the drama already, it’s hard to stay mindful of that. I have to admit that even though intellectually I can know all the right things to do—be present, choose happiness, be positive—it’s not always innate in me to follow through. I think happiness is all around us—we just have to choose it to see it. Here are a few things I tell myself when irritation, frustration, and anger get in the way of the pure happiness that is right there for the taking. 


It’s better to try things than sit around and think about it.

Franklin D. Roosevelt said this:

It is common sense to take a method and try it. If it fails, admit it frankly and try another. But above all, try something.

The first time I saw this quote, it was written on a wall behind the bar of my favorite pub. Perched on a bar stool, I stared at that quote for a while and then back to the novel I was writing, with the cursor blinking in front of me on my laptop. I realized that if this thing never saw the light of day, it didn’t matter as much as it did that I was at least doing it. I was writing a book. And after five years, several workshops, a thesis advisor, an entire degree, I placed it in the hands of my mentor, a very successful novelist. She said it wasn’t finished. I agreed. I decided to admit frankly that it simply wasn’t good enough.

I put it in a box never to be seen again.

I was sad for a little bit, and I felt bad for my characters that they had died in a way but then I felt a release. This release was from my own impatience. My new attitude reflected a sense of positivity. I had tried something that I had thought about trying since I was twelve years old. I had to realize that there were other projects in my future and that the skill of writing well may take a few thousand hours pecking away at a keyboard. The only way you fail is when you don’t try. Having too much ego about putting yourself out there is incredibly boring and will inevitably end up in unhappiness. There is alway happiness in the pursuit of passion. 


Don’t compare yourself to anyone.

Every week I go to my family medical clinic and get allergy shots and every time there seems to be a hotter, younger resident floating around. Last week I met with one of the residents to take a look at my knee that’s been bothering me lately. I watched her porcelain-skinned hands move my leg gently forwards and backwards as she spoke in her sweet, soft voice. She did not have one wrinkle, nor did she have the edge of someone who’d been there, done that, seen this and cured that. I stared at her thinking, “How in the hell have you completed medical school and you’re working as a doctor in a clinic and your skin looks so damn hydrated?!” What have I been doing with my life? What did I do with my twenties? I’m a total failure. 

And this is where things can go South.

For every hot body, there is another one up the road with flatter abs, tighter thighs and a perkier butt. For every woman who has kids, makes six figures and run charities, there is another who runs a country. And for every person you think has the perfect life, there is a therapy bill to prove that we are all only human and the world is sometimes a pretty crappy place.

Being competitive in sports is hot; being competitive in life is not. All it does is suck the happiness right out of the moment. So, I commented on her amazing hair and how impressive it was that (warning her to please not take offence and only as a compliment) she’s so young and successful. I walked out of there feeling really proud of her as a woman. That made me happy.


Impact people by what you do, not by what you tell people about yourself.

Have you ever been mid-story, telling what you think is a pretty incredible tale that sums up your entire existence and then someone interrupts you?

If you’ve ever read Eckhart Tolle you know how he explains that the path to happiness is through the present moment. Spiritual teachers throughout history, along with Buddhists, have suggested the same thing. Being present is a beautiful thing, although impossible for some people. We may think the only way to practice this is to meditate or stare at a flower but really, a cocktail party is the best place to start.

It sounds easy but there you are, listening to someone telling a story and your response is being concocted at the same time, just waiting for the right moment to interject and share your thoughts. “I have the most interesting thing to say right now. I have a response! It’s going to blow everyone’s mind. I must share!!!” Being so eager to share our experience, we completely miss the moment and at the same time, we cut off the oxygen to someone else’s important experience.

I have done it. I’ve done it more times than I care to admit. But when I really sit there and listen and take in what someone is saying without any thought of past and future, or personal anecdotes, my soul is nurtured.  

Happiness not only lies in the present moment, it also comes from giving of ourselves.

As the late Maya Angelou said,

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”


Look in the mirror and be honest with yourself.

The only person in the world I can’t lie to is myself. Once we become brave enough to strip away the rationalizations and mitigation in the dialogue to ourselves, we become free. We may not like ourselves for a little while but as Marilyn Monroe once said,

“Wanting to be someone else is a waste of the person you are.”


Don’t take things so damn seriously. 

When I was sixteen my aunt moved in with us. My mom had just died and she was going through a nasty divorce so my dad figured we’d offer each other a source of comfort. In the end, he’s never been more right about anything.

One day, she asked me to join her in court to offer support and hold her hand. My dad sat on the other side of her. At one point, about halfway through the proceedings, as her ex was questioned on his previous employment (trying to establish that he actually made a dollar here and there), he mentioned working as an animal homicide investigator. “You know, looking into, say, the mysterious death of horse,” he’d said proudly. This was a man who had lived off my aunt for decades, sometimes drinking away her hard earned cash and living in the apartment that she had purchased while working as a nurse. But here he was establishing himself as a legitimate animal homicide investigator. It was too much for my aunt to bear and so, the giggles began to penetrate her entire body. As her shoulders pumped feverishly and her face became cherry red attempting to suffocate the laughter, my dad passed me a note. “Make her stop laughing,” he implored. But like anyone sitting next to someone laughing at a time when one should not be laughing, I joined the giggle fest. The judge was visibly annoyed but we just couldn’t stop ourselves. It was then that I realized, there can be humour found in the darkest of times. 

We all have problems. Whether it be within our marriages, our friendships, our work, finances, inner demons–we can all attest to have some type of struggle. We could try and remind ourselves how lucky we are to live where we do with freedom and justice as we try to unhinge ourselves from sadness or frustration over first world issues. But the reality is, whatever the challenge, it is our reality and ours alone.  So respect the emotion but don’t stay there long. At the end of this life, will that problem be what you remember? Or will the moment at which happiness was reached be the vision that sticks with us after years of getting stuck in the gutter of negative thinking, over and over? I’m hoping and I’m thinking the latter. 

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TPF Must Read: Celebrating Amanda Lindhout’s Courage and Spirit Tue, 17 Feb 2015 17:22:14 +0000 Recently, while reading A House In The Sky by Amanda Lindhout, I found myself so totally and completely captivated by her prose that I started hiding away in the bathroom just to finish a few more pages. I’d also flick on the T.V a little earlier than normal for my kids and I was staying up later than I have since the eighth week of this pregnancy. The book was so moving, so jarring, so incredibly claustrophobic and beautiful at the same time, that I just wanted to get to the end so that she’d be okay. 


A House In The Sky tells the story of Amanda Lindhout in first person with co-author Sara Corbett, covering Lindhout’s experience of being held hostage for 460 days in Somalia after many years of backpacking around the world and eventually starting to work as a journalist. After living in Afghanistan and Iraq, carving out a career as a television reporter, Lindhout decided to make the trek to Somalia to try and show the decent side of war-torn countries. She was not given that chance.


Lindhout reporting in Iraq in 2008. Credit: Canadian Press

Instead she was captured after four days, along with her photographer friend Nigel Brennan, and subjected to ongoing gang rapes, isolation, and starvation. She converted to Islam as a survival tactic and did her best to keep her spunky spirit alive inside but as I read these pages and felt the complete barbaric nature of her captors, I thought, nobody is that solid. She was kept in chains in a dark room, starved and raped repeatedly by a group of teenaged boys for many months. 

So when she was released fifteen months after being captured, Lindhout returned to Canada and began to heal. Rather than allow the hatred and anger to seep into her soul and take hostage any goodness in her after an experience like this, she became a much sought after speaker on the topics of forgiveness, compassion, social responsibility and women’s rights.

She started a non-profit organization called the Global Enrichment Foundation  that promotes peace and development in Somalia through sustainable educational and community-based empowerment programs, while undertaking humanitarian and life-saving emergency interventions in times of crisis. She went back to the place that had imparted so much horror on her life just to make it better. She used her awful experience as an impetus for change. 

Lindhout is not your average woman. She is not your average person. She is an example of how incredibly strong one can be in the face of total injustice and evil and how even years later, it cannot and will not destroy the spirit one has within.  

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Videos: What Mama Didn’t Tell Us-Sex, Vaginas and Rock ‘n Roll Mon, 09 Feb 2015 18:15:29 +0000 Want to learn a little more about pelvic health, sex after babies and how to keep your marriage strong when the kids make you want to tear your eye balls out? Check out these videos from our event, What Mama Didn’t Tell Us hosted by The Purple Fig and The Belle Method

Carol Anne, M.A., M.Ed., CCC is a Psychotherapist & Couples Counsellor with a specialization in sexual & reproductive health at KMA Therapy. She speaks at What Mama Didn’t Tell Us and answers anonymous questions from the crowd. Carol Anne has provided individual & couples psychotherapy services to clients of diverse backgrounds presenting with various concerns. Additionally, Carol Anne has acted as a sexual health educator in her practice and within the community, promoting a sex-positive understanding of our sexual selves.


Listen to Dr. Sinead Dufour PhD as she fields questions from our audience at the first annual What Mama Didn’t Tell Us event in Toronto. She covers incontinence issues, “mummy tummy” and pregnancy.


Relationship expert Kimberly Moffit takes questions from the audience about relationships and how to keep things balanced within the storm of kids and work.

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This Valentine’s Day, Forget The Chocolate Mon, 09 Feb 2015 15:40:00 +0000 It’s the season of love and while you’re celebrating with your sweetheart, Trojan has some great tips to spoil that special someone. This year it’s time to #forgetchocolate and gift an experience that actually burns calories.

Tips for couples:

  1. Rev up the cuddling. In a recent study of long term couples, longer “after sex affection” was linked to sexual and relationship satisfaction. 15 minutes of cuddles can really go a long way!
  2. Don’t forget the foreplay. Research suggests men and women prefer 18 minutes of foreplay before the main event. Plus a 30-minute steamy make out can burn up to 238 calories and gets the heart racing with anticipation.
  3. Add a lubricant for extra pleasure. Make sex better by giving the gift of lubricant which not only plays a necessary role, but can enhance the sensations between you and your partner. Indulge in your adventurous side with a motion-activated intensifier, like the Trojan Arouses & Releases.
  4. Kick it up a notch in the bedroom. Make it hot and make it last, all while burning calories. Don’t be afraid to break a sweat!
  5. Set the mood with candles. Kick back and relax in a soothing bubble bath with your beau and some candle light for the ultimate spa-like experience. Treat your partner to a long, sensual massage and burn up to 80 calories in just 1 hour.
  6. Send a love note to someone special. Spread the love by showing someone just how much you care. Whether it’s your partner, best friend, parent or even secret admirer, everyone deserves to feel the love this time of year.


Happy Valentine’s Day!


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Cutting Grains Is Not Just About Your Waistline: My Chat With Health Crusader Dr. William Davis Tue, 03 Feb 2015 17:08:11 +0000 So the holidays are well and gone but the lasting impression of food and drink on our bellies is not. You may be a ‘January joiner’  busy sweating away all those dinner rolls and apple pies right now in your local gym.

You may be one of those people who have a plan, oh yes a plan, and you are going to follow a diet that restricts everything from dairy to carbs. You will have a flat tummy by spring and you won’t have to stuff yourself into those skinny jeans that you love and adore—you will slip into them with ease.

Or maybe you’re the type of person who has to scream, “Check please!” right after consuming Eggs Benedict and a few cups of coffee. You’ve got a sensitive little diva gastric system, but the mind of a food lover.

There are also those who suffer from migraine headaches, arthritis, and such things as heart disease, diabetes, and rheumatoid arthritis. As it turns out, according to Dr. William Davis, all of these people have something in common. They eat grains, and their bodies are not happy about it.

I got a chance to speak with Davis, bestselling author, cardiologist, and health crusader, about why he is so committed to a grain-free life and the undeniable results that have led him on this journey.


When Dr. William Davis, the author of the NY bestseller Wheat Belly: Lose the Wheat, Lose the Weight, and Find Your Path Back to Health was an interventional cardiologist he attended a talk about the reversal of heart disease using a vegetarian diet. Davis decided to follow the program and ate only vegetables and whole grains for an extended period. He soon became a diabetic; he gained 30 pounds; he was hypertensive; he felt awful and had a 161 blood sugar level at fasting.

He was also jogging three to five miles a day and doing everything that he thought was right: eating only whole grains and vegetables. He was meticulous about eating only whole grains—nothing processed. Suddenly it occurred to him that centering one’s diet around whole grains, fruits and vegetables and little to no fat was causing his body to shut down. That was the turning point for Davis.

After removing wheat from his diet, he abolished the diabetes and lost all the weight. Eventually, he started advising his patients to do the same (because wheat is the worst and most dominant of all grains) from their diets for a three month period, and the results were unbelievable.

“Acid reflux was gone within the first five days. Bowel urgency (IBS) was gone within five days. Joint pains (specifically in the fingers and wrists) disappeared in the first five days. Water retention banished, and migraine headaches gone within those days,” Davis says.

In Davis’ new book, Wheat Belly Total Health: The Ultimate Grain-Free Health and Weight-Loss Life Plan he has expanded his battle against the grain from just wheat to all grains. As he explains, grains are the seeds of grasses. Most of the components of grasses are not digestible by humans—this remains true of the seed of grass.

“That’s why when you cut your grass, you don’t save the clippings to toss on top of a salad. If a dog walks on it and poops on it, why don’t we rope it off and save that grass for dinner,” Davis jokes.

Even if we did do that, he says, we still wouldn’t be able to digest most of it, especially the seed. Knowing that, and contrary to popular belief, this is what accounts for the many toxic effects of grains no matter what we’ve done with it over the last 10,000 years.


“When we started consuming the seeds of grasses 10,000 years ago, this food source may have allowed us to survive another day, week, or month during times when foods we had instinctively consumed during the preceding 2.5 million years fell into short supply. But this expedient represents a dietary pattern that constitutes only 0.4 percent—less than one-half of 1 percent—of our time on earth. This change in dietary fortunes was accompanied by a substantial price.”


Wheat presents this indigestibility, which is a grass after all. The protein found in wheat, namely Gliadin, for the most part, remains intact and provides the first step in triggering diseases of autoimmunity such as rheumatoid arthritis and multiple sclerosis, explains Davis. Even though it was absent from most strains of wheat from the early 20th century, it is now present in nearly all modern varieties, likely accounting for the 400 percent increase in celiac disease witnessed since 1948.


He states, “If you had an egg, you break down the proteins in that egg into single amino acids. If you eat the Gliadin in wheat, it’s either not broken up at all or it’s broken down into pieces, about five amino acids long, but those pieces have very unique sequences, unlike any proteins in any other food. And these pieces have the capacity to bind the opiate receptors in the brain. This is what gives all this addictive behavior with grains, appetite stimulation and all these other mind effects that vary.”


Davis goes on to explain that kids with ADHD or autism have behavioral outbursts; people who have a tendency to depression experience suicidal thoughts; people with bipolar disorder can have the mania triggered; people with paranoid schizophrenia can have paranoia and hearing voices triggered; people who have a tendency toward bulimia or binge eating disorder can have food obsessions triggered. But most people just have appetite stimulations effect and mind fog.

The reason why people can experience a withdrawal period after giving up the wheat is because of the direct relation wheat has to opiates. This can include a period where things seem worse before they get better.


“What happened to those first humans (10,000 years ago), hungry and desperate, who figured out how to make this one component of grasses—the seed—edible? Incredibly, anthropologists have known this for years. The first humans to consume the grassy food of the ibex and aurochs experienced explosive tooth decay; shrinkage of the maxillary bone and mandible, resulting in tooth crowding; iron deficiency; and scurvy. They also experienced reduction in bone diameter and length, resulting in a loss of as much as 5 inches in height for men and 3 inches for women.”

As with everything, Davis has his naysayers, the ones who call it a fad and not a balanced way of living. Probably his biggest opponent, and rightly so, are the wheat lobbyists and trade groups. They say Davis is nuts and that there is no such thing as genetically modified wheat.

“I never said that was true. Genetic modification is NOT the process used to create modern wheat,” Davis states. But what they don’t tell you is that modern wheat was created using other methods that predate genetic modification. They used multiple hybridization to mate wheat with a variety of different strains and with foreign grasses, and also used methods of mutagenesis. What they don’t tell you is that all of this is worse than genetic modification.

Now, as my head is about to pop off from all the information he has already provided me within the first ten minutes of our conversation (we talk for almost two hours) I can’t help but feel inspired by this man who happens to be one ball of passionate fire for this topic. He is not only passionate about this topic because of his experience but because of all the patients who came back to report on life improvements because of the removal of wheat and grains from their diets.

Fatigue was gone; arthritis was non-existent; migraines were a thing of the past; weight was falling off by the truckload. He was witnessing something huge. The results were constant, consistent and astounding.

Now, after a few books (including a wheat-free cookbook) Davis has begun a revolution of sorts. On his website’s success story section today, cholesterol levels had dropped to normal levels without medication, liver diseases are being reversed, and one woman has lost 70 pounds in 180 days. It is nothing short of amazing.

Now as a self-proclaimed moderation girl, I have trouble with the thought of complete abolishment of certain foods that I like. Life is short, I think. But at the same time, when we’re talking about chronic issues and obesity, I wonder if life doesn’t feel so short for those people.

If the consumption of modern wheat and all grains has wreaked havoc on everything from blood pressure to gastrointestinal tracts to nervous systems to hormones, then I say it’s worth a try removing them. It has changed the lives of Davis’ patients well beyond their pant size and millions more after the popularity of his books. One can’t deny anecdotal evidence. For Davis, it’s what sparked the goal of his life: to improve people’s lives. And that, no doubt, has been achieved.   

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Eating Disorder Awareness Week Focuses On Recovery From Binge Eating Disorder, Anorexia Nervosa and Bulimia Sun, 01 Feb 2015 16:01:10 +0000 From February 1-7, Canada’s National Eating Disorder Information Centre is set to mark Eating Disorder Awareness Week. If the words “anorexia nervosa” immediately came to mind when you read that previous sentence, you’re certainly not alone. After all, the disorder has had plenty of media coverage in recent years.

While anorexia (where sufferers will refuse to eat) and bulimia (a condition where sufferers feel compelled to eat and then quickly vomit before they can receive any nutrition from their meal) are less common than binge eating disorder, there also tends to be more awareness of these illnesses.

This week, Toronto-based addiction treatment clinic Bellwood Health Services plans to expand the public’s knowledge of eating disorders to include awareness of conditions like binge eating disorder.  This disorder leads to uncontrollable bursts of over-eating and affects its sufferers for around 8.3 years on average.

Lauren Goldhamer, an eating disorders therapist at Bellwood, acknowledges there is confusion and even shame surrounding this condition.  “Most people feel shame, and hide the problem from others.  In fact, in front of others, they may eat normally or even appear to be dieting to conceal the problem,” she said.

Sadly, binge eating is not as uncommon as it may seem. According to the clinic, this disorder can strike 3.5 per cent of women and 2 per cent of men.

            As the clinical director of Bellwood Health Services, Susan McGrail agrees that more awareness is needed to educate the public about all eating disorders. With the right intervention programs, she believes that stereotypes about body type and image can be reduced.  

“These programs could address the normality of weight gain after puberty for girls and dispel myths about dieting, compensatory behaviors and caloric restriction,” she says. According to McGrail, studies have shown that these intervention programs can assist girls who may be at risk for developing an eating disorder.

Of course, eating disorders are also about far more than just food. Often, sufferers struggle with low self-esteem, negative thinking or emotional issues. While fitness is obviously part of a balanced lifestyle, over-exercising plays a role for some men and women with anorexia and bulimia, who strive to keep weight off at any cost.

Then there is the next step, the daunting road to recovery.  Sheena’s Place, a community-based outpatient centre for eating disorders in Toronto, focuses on support for anyone waiting for hospital treatment. As well, it helps those in recovery with making their return to their usual routine.

Deborah Berlin-Romalis, the centre’s executive director, believes that balance is key when overcoming an eating disorder. From staying fit to sleeping well, it’s a long journey for women and men who are battling a disorder.

“Exercise needs to be approached differently, seen as part of a routine that promotes wellness, like adequate sleep,” she says.

While Berlin-Romalis would also like to see increased awareness in schools, colleges and universities, she places focus on access to support services. “Holistic services and supportive services for people struggling with eating disorders and body image issues need to be delivered to people of all ages, to men and women,” she adds.

Featured Photo Credit: National Eating Disorder Information Centre (NEDIC) on Instagram 

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How to Prevent Dryness and Maintain Gorgeous Skin in Winter Fri, 30 Jan 2015 17:27:54 +0000 Thermometers are dropping across the country, and with them the ambient moisture that protects your skin throughout much of the rest of the year. In winter, with chill winds blowing outdoors and drying heat indoors, your skin has a much harder time retaining its normal oils and elasticity, often resulting in dry skin.

Unfortunately, even normal, oily or combination (both dry and oily) skin may exhibit dryness during the winter months. Common symptoms of dry skin include itching, chapping, peeling, cracking, soreness, redness, flaking or abnormal sensitivity. Eczema and rosacea may occur in particularly bad cases.

Depressed yet? Don’t worry, you’ve got a whole arsenal of weapons against winter’s zapping ways. This handy infographic from provides tons of fantastic tips for beating winter dryness and keeping your skin baby soft all winter long. Most of these suggestions are easy, commonsense steps that won’t stress you out and don’t cost a dime, so read on!

Start by minimizing your exposure to heat. That includes the radiator or heater as well as superhot water. Whenever possible, turn down the thermostat and pull on a sweater and socks instead. Limit time in the bath and shower, and make temperatures as cool as possible. Add weekly exfoliation to your to-do list to remove flakey debris from skin and keep it looking fresh.

Harsh soaps also dry skin, so switch out your regular bar for one that contains lotion and use hydrating hand soaps. Choose a cleanser and body wash with a “milk-like” base to provide more moisture, and ditch clay masks in favor of more hydrating options. Apply lotion after every wash, always making sure to hit especially delicate areas like the hands and face.

Remember to protect your skin when you’re outside. Don’t forget sun block, which is just as important in the winter, and wear gloves on delicate hands to protect them from chapping winter air.


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How Being Thrown in the Deep End Changed Cynthia Loyst’s Life Fri, 30 Jan 2015 13:00:33 +0000 It’s hard to believe anyone as beautiful, confident and ambitious as Cynthia Loyst, co-host of the popular TV show The Social (alongside Melissa Grelo, Cynthia Loyst, Lainey Lui, and Traci Melchor), could ever feel self-critical, but as I sat with her recently for this interview I realized it’s what makes her all the more magnetic.

It’s also what may have prevented her audience from ever knowing her at all. In the beginning, she didn’t want to be on camera.

“I absolutely hated it. I felt so terrified and self-critical, it almost ruined me,” she says.

Achieving the confidence she needed has been a long path, but looking back, she realizes that there were a few lessons she didn’t know were lessons at the time.

She was around 7 or 8 years old when she attended a magic show and became captivated by the magician. Shortly into his set, he asked for a special volunteer to go up on stage with him. Young Loyst put her hand up excitedly but when he spotted her, she immediately retracted. The magician moved on and some other little girl was chosen. The audience praised the little girl with applause, and she was given a teddy bear at the end. Loyst was crushed.

“I totally ruined my own fun because of fear,” she admits. “It’s so interesting that that’s such a fixed memory in my brain because I almost let it happen again with this job. And I love this job. I almost let the fear get the best of me.”

Before we talk about her current job, she brings me back to when her passions were born and what drove her in the early days.

When Loyst got to York University, she took women’s studies and devoured every book she could on sexuality. Growing up in a Catholic environment, Loyst says, “You didn’t talk about sex and you certainly didn’t have it before you were married.”

So, being a self-proclaimed thorn in her parents’ sides, she would ask her mother, “I guess that means that you’ve only had sex twice then? For us two kids?”

Seeing her mother squirm uncomfortably, Loyst realized that religion tended to pick and choose what was okay and not okay as a matter of convenience.  She found it hard to relate to the stories in the Bible as hardly any of them included women. She now understands that a role honouring women and their sexuality was something that her personality gravitated toward very early on.

She began writing an advice column, and through the study of Film and Video, she was able to share her love of story-telling.

“There was something about documentary that I loved because I could go into people’s homes, and they would tell me their stories and I could bring it to life through pictures,” she says.  

After years spent behind-the-scenes as a writer and producer, she was approached by someone from the industry about going on camera. Loyst did a few onscreen tests and claims that she was terrible. Paralyzed at times by fear, Loyst let her passion for sexual dialogue help her continue. She also took acting classes and Toastmasters to alleviate some of the jitters, and eventually she was the regular host of Sex Matters, a T.V show covering everything to do with sex.

During that first hosting gig, she recalls going home to her partner and saying that she hated it.

“I’ve always gone by the ideology that if something feels good, it must be right. I wrestled with the fact that the idea of feeling so horrible maybe meant that I was going down the wrong path and that’s what this was trying to tell me. But that’s not what it was trying to tell me. It was just challenging,” she admits. 

“I think a lot of times in life we gravitate towards the things that are easier and feel immediately that we’re good at. But sometimes the best rewards are from the most difficult things to get through.”

As I admire her long, naturally thick hair and her down-to-earth ease, I feel like we’re sitting in a quaint wine bar on an amazing first friend date. She’s open, funny, and completely real. She’s my kind of girl. Because of our easy, deep talk, I feel comfortable asking her more about insecurities and if she has any advice on overcoming them.

I explain to her that our readers are much more interested in hearing from successful people who admit to having had personal challenges than about their glamorous life. Even though she looks pretty fabulous while balancing raising her 22-month-old son with her incredible career and her successful, attractive partner, she doesn’t care to put on any airs. She’s happy to talk about the not-so-glamorous content.

“I was so in my own head. I was crazed by my own insecurities that I forgot the golden rule: It’s not all about you. Serve the story. Serve the people who are your guests. Stop making it all about you. Then you become less nervous. Over time, by making mistakes I gained confidence, and by doing it more and more,” she says passionately.

By stepping outside of herself, she has been able to overcome the fear and insecurities that may have very well taken her on a completely different path.

 “Being out of our comfort zone makes us feel alive,” she says. “Our senses all open up. We can go through life on the treadmill in the rat race going from day to day and just completely miss out on that.”

Loyst says she feels very blessed to be in a job where she gets to work alongside women she respects and loves along with meeting some of the most inspiring, impressive people every day. As I finish up with her by chatting about our sons and shaking hands, I walk away feeling excited to inspire our readers to slap fear in the face. I am also reminded of what we can all forget in times of fear and insecurity: connecting with people means stepping outside of yourself and giving of yourself. Meeting Loyst, one can’t deny that she is the complete embodiment of this inspiring sentiment. 


Daily talk series THE SOCIAL airs live weekdays at 1 p.m. ET (2 p.m. AT) on CTV and the CTV GO app.

 Cynthia on Twitter 

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Print Recipe Card: Grandmother’s Spaghetti Sauce From Scratch Wed, 28 Jan 2015 16:55:01 +0000 I don’t know about your grandmother but mine was of the Italian variety and there wasn’t a Sunday in my childhood that she didn’t make a big ole pot of spaghetti sauce from scratch. I can still remember the aroma wafting from her little kitchen in the middle of Los Angeles – garlic sizzling with sweet onions and oregano in a bath of olive oil. My stomach growls thinking about the rich sauce and how us kids would sneak a piece of bread and dip it into the sauce (one had to check to make sure it was okay, after all) right there on the stove.

Today, recreating my grandmother’s spaghetti sauce is as quick as it is delicious – and no need for that jar stuff you find on the grocery store shelves. My grandmother (and yours too, probably) always cooked from scratch. Sure, she also never had a smart phone to distract her (nor was she addicted to ‘Words with Friends’, not that I am), the only television she watched were a couple of soap operas, and I’m fairly sure none of her five children played soccer in the 1930s – but cooking from scratch doesn’t have to take a long time or be complicated. Throw it all in a pot, simmer it while you do other things (like play ‘Words with Friends’) and your dinner is ready.

This recipe uses canned tomatoes but if you have a garden of fresh tomatoes, by all means use them (or a combination of both, something I often do). It’ll make about 6 cups, more than enough for a pound of pasta tonight and another pound on another night. The sauce freezes great and lasts about 3 months in your freezer.

As my grandmother used to say in her half-English, half-Italian, “If you go away hungry, it’s your own fault.”

Homemade Spaghetti Sauce From Scratch
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  1. 2 28oz. cans crushed tomatoes (or about 4 lbs. fresh, roughly chopped)
  2. 1 small can tomato paste
  3. 3 Tbl. olive oil, divided
  4. ½ cup chicken or vegetable broth
  5. 1 yellow onion, diced
  6. 3 cloves garlic, minced
  7. 2 Tbl. dried oregano
  8. 1 Tbl. each: dried parsley & basil
  9. Salt and pepper, to taste
  10. 1 bay leaf
  11. Pinch red pepper flakes
  1. 1. Sauté diced onions in a heavy-bottomed pot or Dutch oven on medium-high heat in 2 Tbl. olive oil until soft and slightly browned, about five minutes.
  2. 2. Push onions to one side of the pot and pour the additional tablespoon of olive oil and add the oregano, parsley, basil, red pepper flakes, and garlic. Sauté 1 minute.
  3. 3. Add ½ cup broth and simmer until liquid is reduced by half.
  4. 4. Add tomatoes and can of tomato paste plus 2 paste cans worth of water and stir.
  5. 5. Add bay leaf, salt, and pepper and bring to a boil.
  6. 6. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, for at least an hour, stirring occasionally.
The Purple Fig
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Top 5 Celebs Who Are Promoting Body And Racial Diversity Wed, 21 Jan 2015 16:55:19 +0000 While the impossible standards of Hollywood often pave the way for beauty trends, intense fitness regimes, extreme plastic surgery procedures and celebrity-inspired style, we have to admire stars who remain true to themselves. Whether this means embracing your skin tone or proudly displaying your curves, celebrities who reject Hollywood’s norms are definitely our favourite women to admire. From Lupita Nyong’o to Lena Dunham, here’s a colourful list of famous faces who are promoting positive body image and diversity.

  • Lupita Nyong’o: With her performance as Patsey in 12 Years A Slave, the 31-year-old actress made headlines this year when she took home an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress. While we’re obviously impressed with her acting talent, Lupita is also a role model for racial diversity. Not only has she embraced her dark and exotic beauty with pride, she’s also inspired young fans to do the same. With her recent guest appearance on Sesame Street alongside furry muppet Elmo, Lupita boldly encourages fans to “love the skin they’re in.” 







  • Mindy Kaling: The 35-year-old comedienne and star of The Mindy Project is outspoken and hilarious! Born to Indian parents and raised in a traditional household, Mindy Kaling taps into her South Asian pride in her biography Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? While we love her character Mindy Lahiri on the show, we also appreciate her strong cultural values as well as her positive body image. The funnywoman is hardly a Size 0, yet she pokes fun at her own love of junk food and truly celebrates her image with confidence. 







  • Meghan Trainor: The pretty Nantucket-raised singer is only 20, but she’s already enjoying a fast-paced rise to the top. With her hit debut single All About That Bass released in June, Meghan Trainor has left countless new fans singing along to her body-positive lyrics. With lines like “yeah, my momma she told me don’t worry about your size” and “every inch of you is perfect from the bottom to the top”, this is definitely a tune we can’t stop dancing to. 







  • Crystal Renn: After overcoming her struggle with anorexia, 28-year-old catwalk star Crystal Renn later embraced her career as a healthy and successful plus-size model. In 2013, the dark-haired bombshell announced plans to design her own fashion line for women of all shapes and sizes. With the fashion industry craving diversity, it looks like the solution is “Crystal” clear.







  • Lena Dunham: With her cropped hair, bold tattoos, unconventional fashion sense and outspoken attitude, 28-year-old Lena Dunham completely rejects the beauty standards of Hollywood as the creator and star of HBO’s Girls. While the actress doesn’t fit into the standard Size 2 mold, she still made waves with her own Vogue cover. Always quick to undress for a Girls scene, Lena’s body confidence and acceptance is a rare fact in Hollywood. 







 Featured Photo Source: lupitanyongo on Instagram 




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