Archive for category: New Year… New You!


O-Tip of the Week: Butt Out and Never Look Back

Our O-Tip of the week series delivers valuable “OT-Approved Life Hacks” to provide you with simple and helpful solutions for living. 

For the month of January, our O-Tip series will provide you with ways to kick bad habits and establish good ones.  This week we tackle one of the hardest habits to kick – smoking!

According to Smoke Free Ontario, smoking kills approximately 13000 people in Ontario each year.  However, the good news is that the number of smokers continues to decrease yearly.  How can you become one of the quitters? 

A good friend of mine just celebrated her one-year anniversary of being smoke-free after 20+ years as a smoker.  For years she discussed wanting to quit but admits she couldn’t bring herself to do it because of FOMO (fear of missing out).  It wasn’t until she realized that there was nothing to give up and everything to gain that she was able to finally kick the habit. 

Smoking is an addiction and quitting is extremely difficult.  Many need to try different approaches before finally kicking the habit – for my friend, it was the book the “Easy Way to Stop Smoking” by Alan Carr that led to success.  Some other proven ways to butt out are discussed in our post, National Non-Smoking Week– Be a Quitter!


O-Tip of the Week: Get in the Habit

Our O-Tip of the week series delivers valuable “OT-Approved Life Hacks” to provide you with simple and helpful solutions for living. 

For the month of January, our O-Tip series will provide you with ways to kick bad habits and establish good ones.  This week we discuss how to create lasting lifestyle changes by forming healthy habits. 

Did you know it can take three weeks or more to develop a new routine or habit?  And following the formation of habits, it can take up to four months to fully change your lifestyle.  Making positive change is a commitment, and with commitment comes accountability.  We recommend using a daily habit tracker, like our free printable below, to help you stay accountable to yourself and your goals.  Ensure you tick the box each and every day and you will be well on your way to creating lasting change!


O-Tip of the Week: How to Actually Achieve Your New Year’s Resolutions!

Our O-Tip of the week series delivers valuable “OT-Approved Life Hacks” to provide you with simple and helpful solutions for living. 

For the month of January, our O-Tip series will provide you with ways to kick bad habits and establish good ones.  This week we look at how to set yourself up for success with New Year’s resolutions.

The start of a new year brings with it the opportunity to start something new or make positive changes by setting goals or resolutions.  Many start the year with exciting plans to achieve these goals, however, research shows that most people “give up” before the month of January is over.  How can you achieve resolution success?  Take a look at our OT-approved tips to help you accomplish your New Year’s Resolutions.

The Complete Guide to New Year’s Resolution Success


 “Today is the first blank page of a 365-page book.  Write a good one.” 



Make 2016 Your Best Year!

Happy New Year!  For many of us, this is when we take time to reflect on the previous year, and set Resolutions or Goals for the year ahead. However, significant research highlights that many people who set resolutions or goals for the year end up abandoning these before the end of January. Why does this happen and how can you ensure the positive changes you wish to make come to fruition?

Check out the following infographic created by Weight Watchers: “The Life and Death of a New Year’s Resolution”

new years

Here is a summary of this helpful graphic:

1.       Set A Realistic Goal:   Many people start December 31st or January 1st with the mindset that this is the year for change.  They make a resolution to lose 20 lbs, or eat healthier each and every day, add $10 000 to their savings, or quit smoking immediately.  These resolutions are fantastic!  But are they realistic?  You know yourself and your limitations best.  Ensure the resolution you are making is achievable.  Start small and build upon it.

2.       Create a Plan with Milestones:  If you are hoping to lose 20 lbs in 2015 it would be extremely unhealthy and unlikely to do this in one month.  Create a plan of what is an attainable amount to lose each month to reach this goal and HOW you can accomplish this.  If you’re struggling with creating this plan, enlist the help of a professional who can help you along the way!

3.       Make Your Goals and Milestones Public:  Use social media to your advantage!  Making your goal public on facebook or simply via an announcement to your friends will help hold you accountable, thus helping you stick to your plans.

4.       Celebrate Success:  When you reach a milestone on your plan, it’s time to celebrate!  Take time out to be proud of what you have accomplished and give yourself a well-deserved pat on the back.  Knowing that you accomplished a small part of your plan will keep you motivated toward the next goal.

5.       Use Technology:  In the world today it’s easy to find apps, and devices to help you reach your goal.  Whether looking to save money, reduce debt, lose weight or kick a bad habit, as Apple says:  “there’s an app for that!”  Invest in a FitBit (or other wearable device) or app to help you with your goals.

Whatever your resolution we hope these tips help you to make 2016 your healthiest and happiest year yet! 


Originally posted January 5 2015.


New Year… New You! 10 Tips for Weight Loss Success in 2015

Julie Entwistle, MBA, BHSc (OT), BSc (Health / Gerontology)

If weight loss is your New Year’s Resolution, we have the tips to help you achieve success!

Weight loss as a goal makes sense – excessive weight is unhealthy and can make even regular tasks like walking, using stairs, and completing home tasks challenging.  I remember when I was pregnant with my twins.  I gained 50 pounds – all out front much like older men that seem to carry their excessive weight in their bellies.  Towards the end of my pregnancy I remember feeling the extra weight when I tried to hike, carry my kids, or just get out of a chair or car.  After I had my twins and essentially lost 40 pounds of baby and “stuff” in 8 minutes, I got up from the delivery table and said to my husband “I feel so svelte!  Look, I can bend, twist, turn, I can breathe!” He laughed because I am sure my flabby baby belly still made me look like I was carrying something.  Anyway, the point was – over 9 months of accumulating weight my body had adapted and I had forgotten what it was like to be thin again, including how much harder things are when you are carrying weight in places where weight does not belong.

Fortunately for me, I have always been athletic and have good genes (my goal is to always weigh less than my dad – I gave up on weighing less than my mom in Grade 7).  But I also have a strong work ethic and even stronger willpower.  Many years ago I committed to karate with the goal of getting my black belt by 35.  Then, I picked up an Oxygen Magazine and committed to getting my body fat percentage to a level of elite athleticism.  This required me to start “eating clean” and as such I no longer consume (99% of the time) refined sugar, white grains or carbs, or red meat.  I only drink tea and water.  Boring, I know.  But the point is, I took 8 years to get to the point I am at and the small adjustments I made along the way have resulted in my success.  Weight loss, or any resolution, is not going to happen overnight.  Here are 10 tips to remember:

1.    First, keep track of what you are eating and how you spend your time.  Do this for a week. Then, analyze.  Where are the problems?  You know what they are, you just need them on paper to really impact you into “seeing” them.

2.    Pick ONE thing (the easiest one) to change.  And don’t get rid of it, just focus on reducing it.  Maybe try to stop eating sooner before bed, or change from heavy carbs at night to some fruit, from regular pop to diet, white to whole wheat, 2% to skim, from Wendy’s to Subway.  The goal is not abstinence, but improvement.

3.    Once you have reduced that ONE thing, pick another and proceed that way until you have addressed many of your identified problem areas.  If you can tackle ONE thing per month, by the end of the year you will have made 12 healthy improvements – excellent!

4.    Remember that less is still good, even if less does not mean NONE.  You can get to NONE, but cold turkey is not usually successful (but in the place of ham – much better J).

5.    Don’t think that the problem is lack of exercise.  That is part of it, but weight management is 70% diet.  If you commit to a new fitness program, without adjusting your poor diet habits, your success will be limited.

6.    If exercise is not your thing, fake it until you make it.  Try those activities that are exercise hidden as fun.  Go for walk with a friend, grab a Wii Fit, try Zumba, join a dance class.  Make small goals such as “I want to walk around the block without stopping” then when you can do that, make it two blocks.  I did this in University as a project for my Behavior Modification class.  I started walking my dog for 20 minutes a day, and gradually, over four months, was up to 2 hours.  This became my new “normal” and I did this with my dogs until they became too old to manage that amount of exercise.

7.    Remember it takes 3 weeks to 4 months to create a new habit.  Give yourself a month to “try it” and if at the end of the month you are still struggling, pivot your change to something less difficult.  Throw a calendar on the fridge, X out the days, circle your target (21 days, 30 days etc).

8.    Tell people your plans.  Facebook, Twitter, your journal, your best friend.  Write it down.

9.    Don’t get caught up in gimmicks.  They are just that.  If there was a fast and easy way to lose weight we would all be thin.  There isn’t – it requires dedication and persistence.

10.  Just Do It!  Nike is right – nothing beats just gettin’ er done!  Your mind will play tricks on you the entire time.  I laugh at my mind now.  When it is a Cross Fit day for me, my mind will invariably tell me I should do something else instead.  I smile, say “haha mind, good try” and get on my fitness clothes.  The real trick to going from “I want to” to “I am” is attaching a physical component.  You have FIVE seconds to turn a thought into action.  Think it, move towards it, and DO IT!

Check out more from our New Year… New You! series and this 2015 may all your resolutions, goals, wishes (or whatever you call them) become your reality.


New Year… New You! We Want You To Be a QUITTER!

Julie Entwistle, MBA, BHSc (OT), BSc (Health / Gerontology)

National Non-Smoking week aside, are you ready to butt out?  According to Smoke Free Ontario, smoking takes approximately 13000 lives in Ontario each and every year.  However, the good news is that the number of smokers continues to decrease yearly, and is currently at 18.1%.  Are you in for reducing this number further?

Apparently, quitting smoking is extremely difficult and many need to try different approaches before finally kicking the habit.  For many smokers it becomes more about the habit and the behavior, than the nicotine itself.  So how can you butt out?  Our team of experienced Occupational Therapists have some great solutions for you to try:

1.    Make Your Intentions Public:  The decision to quit takes a great deal of courage and should be celebrated.  Make your intentions public within your family or friends, or by using social media for a larger reach.  By making your goal to quit public it will help hold you accountable and to draw on those close to you to lean on for support.

2.    Devise a Plan:  Quitting cold turkey can be extremely difficult.  We recommend that you create a monthly or weekly plan to reduce your intake and set you well on your way.  This might be as simple as reducing one cigarette per day for a week or a month, then reducing again etc.

3.    Identify Triggers:  While working through your monthly or weekly plan to reduce the amount of cigarettes you consume, ensure you are keeping track of the amount you smoke each day, the times of day you smoke and what in your environment has triggered you to have a cigarette.  Tracking any behavior is the best way to isolate it and is the first step to making improvements.

4.    Modify your environment to help reduce these triggers:  After conducting your research look closely at the time of day, environment, people, stressors or other triggers that promoted your need or wanting to smoke. Is it possible to change your situation or environment to avoid these triggers moving forward?

5.    Work to reduce stress:  Many smoke as a reaction to stress.  Finding ways to reduce stress, such as meditation and mindfulness practice, taking a hot bath, or breathing exercises can help you to reduce this trigger.

6.    Find a healthier habit:  If it’s the “break” you find is your trigger try finding a different way to take 5 minutes to yourself.  Take a quick walk, try yoga poses, grab a warm beverage, phone a friend or practice breathing exercises instead.

7.    Seek Support:  By making your intentions to quit public you have opened yourself up to a group of family and friends to rely on and assist you in your goal to quit.  If these sources are not available, try phoning the Smokers Hotline or join a support group to speak with someone who can help you through your craving and keep you smoke free.

8.    Seek an Alternative Solution:  There are so many different products in the marketplace to assist you with quitting such as:  gums, e-cigarettes, inhalers, and patches.  Find which one works for you and rely on this to assist you along the way.

9.    Speak to Your Doctor:  Your family doctor is a great resource and will gladly support you in your quest to break the habit.  Speak with your doctor about the alternative solutions and medications that exist that can help you quit.  Your doctor may also connect you to OHIP-funded resources that you can access to support you in your quest.

10.  Celebrate Your Success:  Ensure that along the way you celebrate any milestones you have reached.  If you’ve worked for a week or a month to cut your daily intake by 5 cigarettes, reward yourself and share your news with those you love.  This will help to keep you focussed and lead to further success!

11.   Reword the goal if needed:  Yes “quitting smoking” might be the BIG goal, but under this there are layers of other goals that you can focus on that might seem less intimidating and are more fun to measure.  Maybe your smaller goals include walking upstairs without becoming breathless, having whiter teeth, or not wanting your clothing or home to smell like cigarette smoke.  Perhaps if you relate to a more practical goal that is tangible, measurable, and visible to others, your motivation might be enhanced.

12.   Watch for other bad habits to surface:  Sometimes when trying to move from one bad habit we pick up another.  With any reduction in a negative behavior there will be withdrawal.  Accept this and cope through it for the days it lasts, knowing that those symptoms too shall pass.  But when struggling through withdrawal, try not to adopt another bad habit as a coping mechanism.  Switching from smoking to eating unhealthy food or consuming more alcohol will not help you to achieve the ultimate result you want which is to improve your health.

13.   Don’t just change your behavior, change your LIFESTYLE:  Adopting a new way of living, and talking to others about this, is far more impactful and motivating then talking about a behavior change.  When people say “I am trying to lose weight” it is not nearly as impactful as “I have a sugar-free lifestyle” or “I have changed my lifestyle to achieve my health goals”.  Make a LIFESTYLE change to be healthy and let the behaviors follow.

14.  If at first you don’t succeed… try try again!

For more resources and tips to help you along the way visit or   Also you can find some helpful apps by visiting checking out Healthline’s Top Smoking Cessation Apps.

We wish you the best of luck and encourage you to BE A QUITTER this 2015!



New Year… New You! Function as a Family

Julie Entwistle, MBA, BHSc (OT), BSc (Health / Gerontology)

While I am not a fan of all the hype and stress of the holiday season, I do enjoy ringing in a New Year.  There is something about putting a year behind you – warts and all, and focusing your attention forward.  It has been said that only 3% of people write down their goals, but of those that do, 97% of them are achieved.  Those are pretty good odds.  Could success be that simple?  Perhaps, provided of course the goals are SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-sensitive) in the first place.

I have always been a writer, more so as I have gotten older.  I started writing very clear and measurable goals in my twenties and balance these between what I call my “pillars of priority” being my family, career, health, personal growth, and finances.  Being a competitive person (mainly with myself) I have always set what I feel are lofty goals, then work to achieve them sooner than expected.  At 30 I decided that I wanted a Black Belt in Karate by 35.  I passed my Black Belt exam at 34.  At 35 I decided that I wanted to obtain a MBA from Wilfrid Laurier by 40.  I graduated at 38.  Last year my goals centered around “simplifying” the chaos that my life seemed to be evolving into, and this year they are going to be about “boundaries” and setting better limits on how I spend my time.

But in my biggest life role as “mom” I decided this year to try a family goal setting exercise.  We had a blast doing this and I am excited to see how this will play out in 2015.  Here is my recipe:

1.       Purchase some colored paper – a different color for every member of the family.

2.       Cut the colored paper into strips that are a few inches wide.  Cut around 7-10 of them.  Give one set of colored and cut strips to each person.

3.       On each strip, the person writes one goal.  Encourage different goal categories.  My girls chose “school, home, pets, health / sports, attitude, and family”.

4.       After they are done writing 5-10 of their own goals, give them one sheet of cut paper for each person in the family (in the color of that family member).  On this they are to write a goal they would like to see the other person achieve this year.  They have to sign it “love” and their name.

5.       When all the goals are written, each person takes turns reading the goals they set for themselves, and then the others read the goal they wrote for them.

6.       Have a conversation about the goals and display these in a common area to serve as daily reminders of the commitments you made to yourself and each other.

7.       Review these monthly and find a way to celebrate the goals that are achieved, adding to the list throughout the year.

The amazing thing about an exercise like this is that it not only shows the level of insight your children have about their own self and behavior, but also gives you an indication of how they feel about each other and the family as a unit.  In fact, the goals my girls wrote for me were very similar to the goals I had for myself.  Further, some of the themes that emerged highlighted that we are all seeking the same things here at home – togetherness, cooperation, responsibility, and love.  How comforting to know we are all striving to achieve the same things – that will help us work together even better!

By committing to these as a unit, and having these on display, we can work together to achieve what we want, using our family unit for strength to get us there.  After all, family can be the best mentors as they have a very vested interest in your outcome.  And in the end, goals achieved this year or not, I believe it is important to show my girls how they can approach goal setting, and the New Year with strategies they can continue to implement as they grow and develop.

Try this, or something like it,  and see if it works for your family too!


Focus on Family

The creation of resolutions, when done properly, is a great exercise in goal planning that should be shared with the younger generation.  Focusing on how your family can work together to create positive changes in the New Year can help bring families closer, and help to teach the importance of goal planning to younger children.  Check out the Top 5 Family New Year’s Resolutions from Sick Kids and have a Happy New Year!

About Kids Health:  Top five family New Year’s resolutions 


Say “I Will…” this New Year

So how can you help make this year your best?  This article from the Huffington Post talks about how you can make positive change this New Year by using 15 common phrases.  But I wanted to add a 16th:  “I WILL”.  So many people live by the “I should” or “I want to” but if you can frame this positively and with a proactive statement like “I WILL” you are convincing yourself it will happen as you say it.  Let the power of a proactive and positive mind guide you to success this year!


The Huffington Post:  15 Phrases That Will Change Your Life In 2015