The Life Aquatic

Sure, swimming laps might be an obvious choice for a water workout, but there are plenty more exercises you can do to tighten and tone. Grab a pool noodle and try these three moves in your pool, or at the lake this summer.

1/ Flyback bicycle Sit on the middle of your noodle, with one leg on each side, like a bicycle (so that it makes a U-shape under you in the water). Extend your arms just below shoulder height and sweep them back and forth as you bicycle your legs, to push you backwards. Do 2 laps of the pool (depending on the size) or time yourself for 1 minute. Do 3 sets.

2/ Plank In the shallow end, hold your noodle in front of you pushing it down with straight arms as you extend your legs straight behind you, toes touching the bottom. Hold for 90 seconds. (Don’t forget it’s much easier in the water, so you can hold it for longer!) Do 3 sets. TIP: For added difficulty add 8 to 12 knee tucks. Just pull your knees into your chest, then shoot your legs out behind you to plank position again.

3/ Crunch Holding the noodle under your shoulders, with legs extended and abs engaged, bend your knees and pull your thighs to your chest, then extend. Do 8 to 12 reps. Do 3 sets.

It’s OOO (out-of-office) Season!

In anticipation of summer holidays, we checked in with the experts on the best way to disconnect from the office – and why it matters. This shouldn’t be shocker, but studies show people who take their holidays are happier and healthier. Your summer vacation can help you sleep better, reduce anxiety and depression, lower your blood pressure and reduce your risk of heart disease.

According to one study, women who vacationed regularly were 50 percent less likely to die from a heart attack. Gulp.

In case those aren’t reasons enough, or you’re one of those people who lives for their work life, holidays are good for business, too. Studies show people who utilize their vacation time report lower stress levels at the office, increased productivity and better work-life balance. We repeat: taking a summer vacation is not slacking off – it’s ensuring you’re at the top of your game when you are at work. 

TIP! How to write your OOO. It’s probably the last thing on your mind as you head off on holiday, but adding the auto-responder to your email is essential. Be sure to include the dates you’ll be away and a forwarding contact, if applicable. And, here’s a bonus, this could be a way to reach new clients or contacts, too. Add a lead to a company newsletter, discount offer or other content you want to promote. 

And if you’re breaking from social media, too – and Twitter or Instagram play a role in your profession – it doesn’t hurt to post that you’re signing off for bit. This way all of your colleagues can respect your break – and hopefully you’ll return to a slightly smaller inbox. 

Stuff Verity Women Know – And Share

It’s the season to celebrate. If you’re throwing a bridal shower or hosting a college graduation dinner, you’ve got some planning to do. We asked Sonia Dhillon, Verity’s private dining manager (and superior party planner!) to share her top tips for throwing an unforgettable bash.                                                                                                                                                                       

DO decide on a theme from the get-go. “By that I really mean a vibe or overall feel for your event,” says Dhillon. Is it going to be a formal sit-down dinner or cocktail party, for example? Black tie or casual dress? Having a clear vision will set the tone for all other decisions you have to make, from food to flowers, and help you with the planning from start to finish, she says.

DO have a plan B. It makes sense to throw an outdoor fete this time of year, but we’re still at the mercy of the weather, even in June. “It’s always good to have a contingency plan,” she says. “When we hold an outdoor event here in the courtyard, all contracts include an organized plan for what will happen if it rains.” If you’re hosting at home, make sure you have tents set up or space ready indoors for your guests, just in case you need it.

DON’T sweat the small stuff. It’s tempting to get caught up in all the details, from the font on the invites to colour coordinating the flower arrangements, or details of the take-away party favours. “It’s easy to overthink it all,” says Dhillon. “But nobody is going to remember the favours – they’re going to remember the experience.” If they enjoyed the food, had great conversation and some fun – that’s what will count, no matter what kind of party it is.

Are tech stocks still a smart investment?

We’ve read a lot of negative headlines recently about big tech companies behaving badly. Issues like privacy concerns, monopolistic powers and unregulated influences among digital players seem to make the news on the regular. From an ethical POV, does this mean we should consider removing the technology sector from our investment portfolios?

It’s a timely summer query, especially if you’re currently dockside practicing a digital detox. I mean, if it’s good for your health, is it good for your investments, too?

Removing certain companies and sectors from a portfolio is a long-established practice. Many people specifically state that they do not want investments in companies like alcohol producers or in defence contractors for ethical or personal reasons. But, avoiding technology can be more complicated.  

For starters, just defining technology is a challenge. Many consider Amazon and Netflix, “technology” investments given they fall under the bandied-about FAANG acronym, but are they actually tech companies? Not according to the stock market. Amazon is classified as a “consumer discretionary” company in the stock market, and Netflix is classified as “communications services.”

Second, technology is currently the largest sector in the S&P500, with a weighting of slightly less than 22% as of May 2019. Eliminating all tech stocks would mean that your portfolio would have a significantly different weighting than the broad indices that you hear about in the news, potentially causing your investment returns to diverge over time.

Third, not all tech companies are created equal. While the media has written about a few bad actors, there are other tech companies that have actually taken advantage of these headlines and positioned themselves as companies that will protect your personal data or act more ethically.

Bottom line: follow your gut. If there are individual companies that make you feel uncomfortable due to their business practices and ethics, investigate whether you want them in your portfolio. But don’t hit the delete button without first doing your homework on what’s really going on behind the headlines.

It’s sleeveless season! We can help you get ready

Are you ready to bare your biceps? Whether you’re prepping for a wedding or just readying for tank top weather, we’ve got three expert-approved moves to help you get those pipes toned in no time.

Begin by taking a medium weight dumbbell in each hand. Stand with feet hip-width apart and core engaged – and get ready to work those bis, tris and shoulders.

Hammer curls

Hold the dumbbells with arms at your sides and palms facing the body, keeping elbows close to your torso. Curl the weights up towards your shoulders (like holding a hammer), squeeze your biceps, then lower. Do 8 to 12 reps.

Overhead tricep extension

With elbows bent next to your ears and arms at a 90-degree angle, squeeze your triceps to straighten your arms overhead. Slowly lower to the start position. Do 8 to 12 reps.

Shoulder press

Keeping your shoulders pressed down, raise your dumbbells up to shoulder height. From there, push both dumbbells up to the sky until your elbows are almost straight, without hyperextending your elbows. Lower to the start position. Do 8 to 12 reps.

Repeat this circuit three times.

Balancing acts

The struggle is real, my friends – achieving a work-life balance is a challenge we all deal with. But, good news: Summer offers great opportunities to free up playtime, given that deadlines are less pressing, co-workers are away and attitudes generally relax. Here are some easy ideas for getting more life out of your summer. READ MORE

1. Replace one out-of-town business trip with a conference call. Instead of booking a flight to meet a client or colleague, leverage conferencing tech like Skype or GoToMeeting to connect. Skipping the travel will save you both precious hours you could be spending dockside, poolside, or just about anywhere in between.

2. Take long weekends. Think about using some of your banked vacation days to create long weekends throughout the summer. Four-day work weeks let you create a great summer schedule of less work, more play. If you can’t swing booking off every Monday or Friday, at least take summer hours on Friday afternoons. A bit of extra time at the cottage, or on a patio, will do wonders.

3. Make your workspace work/ If you’re firing off emails from home, do it on the deck! So the outdoor sofa may not be ideal, ergonomically speaking, but add a lap desk and it will do for an hour or two. You’ll return to your actual desk, or step out to your next meeting, totally refreshed.  

Investment opportunities financial planners look for

Looking to step up your financial growth? We checked in with Verity Member, Kathryn Finn, associate portfolio manager for RBC Wealth Management for the inside scoop. Here are her top two DO’s for evaluating investment opportunities, and the one thing she never does.

· DO LOOK FOR CONSISTENCY. Focus on dividend-paying companies that have sustainable profits and exhibit strong, consistent earnings and cash flow growth in order to offer you a steady income.

· DO DIVERSIFY. Invest in a mix of stocks or equities, fixed income or bonds, money market or cash equivalents, and real estate or other tangible assets to help manage risk in case of fluctuations in the market.

· DON’T CHASE THE TRENDS.  Forget about the latest and greatest idea; whatever you invest in has to be suitable to you. That means you need to put your money into something you understand, and you need to ensure that the timeframe for getting a return on your investment aligns with your goals.

 

Do you have expert advice to share with Verity Members? Be in touch with us today. We’d love to get the scoop on your best Do’s and Don’ts.

Balance your portfolio with these tips

Setting the right portfolio asset allocation is one of the key things you can do to ensure success with your investments. Sometimes, though, it’s harder than it sounds. Why? Well, there’s a lot to consider.  You have to find the balance between risk and reward amongst equities/stocks (high risk, high reward), fixed-income/bonds (medium risk, medium reward) and cash (low risk, low reward) in your portfolio. Luckily, we can help. By following a few important rules, your financial goals will be within reach.

 One rule you may have heard of is that the percentage of stocks in your portfolio should be equal to 100 minus your age. This is, if you are 45 years old, your portfolio should be 65% in stocks and 45% in bonds. The idea behind this is that someone who is younger can take more risk since they have a longer time horizon.

While this might be a good starting point, it doesn’t factor-in things like your goals, personal financial situation and your personality. Below, we explore several areas that will help you set an appropriate asset allocation.

 Your Time Horizon

One thing that affects your ability to take risk is the time horizon associated with your goals. If your child is going to university next year, you don’t want to invest their tuition money in stock market in case it drops and doesn’t recover by the time the university mails the bill. On the other hand, if you are 20 years away from your retirement, you can probably afford to take more risk with your retirement savings than someone who is retiring next year. 

Your Personal Financial Situation

You also need to look at your personal financial situation when assessing your ability to take risk. If you have a government job with a defined-benefit pension for life, your financial picture is rather predictable, allowing you to take more risk. If you are working for a temp agency though, your situation is less clear. You wouldn’t want to take a lot of risk with your investments if you don’t know if you’ll have a job next month.

Your “Need to Take Risks” VS  “Ability To Take Risks”

If you are an 80-year-old retiree with a $5 million portfolio and are only withdrawing $40,000 a year from it for spending, you don’t need to take risk. Such a person has the ability to take risk thanks to their large portfolio and small spending habits, but they don’t need to. Why take on more risk and uncertainty than you may need to achieve your goals?

Your Willingness to Take Risks

Even if you have the ability and need to take risk, can your personality handle it? If you lie awake in bed at night after seeing that your portfolio dropped in value last month, the added stress may not be worth it for you. You have to find the right risk/reward trade-off that doesn’t increase the amount of worry in your life. 

 

MORNING GLORY

MORNING GLORY

So, you’ve decided to double down on your weekly workouts. Good on ya! But have you given any thought to when you’re going to squeeze in those trips to the gym? There’s a strong case to be made for a.m. sweat seshes, according to the experts.  

Some research suggests that people who exercise in the a.m. have less of an appetite throughout the day, which is a big bonus if you’re trying to shed pounds. Morning workouts may also lead to better productivity throughout the day and overall mental health, since it’s great for busting stress.

 

But that’s not all! Morning exercisers tend to stick to their program because they can check it off their to-do list first thing and don’t have to worry about it for the rest of the day.

 

If you’re new to a.m. workouts, ease in slowly, say the experts.  For instance, don’t start with a 10 km run at 6 am no matter how enthusiastic you are to start a program. It’s just not sustainable to go big right from the get-go.

 

Better to take baby steps. Set your alarm 30 minutes earlier than normal so that you can take a morning walk.  These kinds of ideas, fitness experts say, will help your body adjust to being active.

 

 

Working It!

You’ve landed your dream job. Congrats! Now what? In addition to learning your way around the shared drive, there are a host of things you should do to prepare for success – whether you’re the boss or the worker bee. READ MORE

BUILD TRUST 

The ability to earn the trust of your colleagues is not only a reflection of your character – it could be the cornerstone of your career. You can begin to build trust in a new work environment by giving colleagues praise (genuinely, when it’s warranted), avoiding office gossip and trusting your employees and bosses equally.

DEFINE SUCCESS

Set goals – big and small – for yourself and your business, and strategize an actual plan to achieve them. It’s wonderful to blue sky future achievements, but they rarely come to fruition if you don’t plan for success. 

GET TO KNOW YOUR TEAM

You know what they say about first impressions – and they’re not wrong. In the early days and weeks it’s important to show your new team respect by being on time (or early) for every call and meeting. Introduce yourself to everyone on the team (don’t wait for them to come to you). And listen at least as much as you talk during those early interactions. That’s how you really get to know someone and ingratiate yourself to the existing network. It never hurts to invite someone out to lunch! (It could hurt to turn down someone else’s invite, though – always accept an offer to grab a coffee and chat outside of the office).

 

Stuff Verity women know (and share)

Stuff Verity women know (and share)

THIS WEEK: Nutrition Newsflash

There is so much nutritional info out there, it can be hard to know what’s important to put on our plates. We asked Verity Dietitian & Herbalist, Tania Ibrahim, for her advice on buzzy foods that are worth loading up on, and which ones aren’t worth the hype. 

Up close & personal with investments

Up close & personal with investments

Want to make a strong value statement with your assets portfolio? You can! It starts with investing in companies that support your values, whether that’s gender parity, the environment or social sustainability. And, the good news is that there is a growing industry within the investment world that is dedicated to this very type of investing.

Fitness to go

Fitness to go

Whether you’re on a business trip, vacation or just looking to shake up your fitness routine, we’ve got moves you can do in a hotel room, local park or even your office. These five exercises will tighten, tone and get your heart pumping. Best of all, for this do-anywhere workout you only need you. No yoga mat, hand weights or resistance bands required!

Are you a savvy saver?

Are you a savvy saver?

When it comes to money, most of us fall into one of two camps:

Proactive: Devote time and energy to a financial plan.

Reactive: Only think about moolah when we need it.

If you fall into the latter, then, the time is nigh for change. Here are 3 easy ways to start saving.

Fall in love with fitness

Fall in love with fitness

Flirting with the idea of getting into shape? In the short-term, regular sweat sessions will boost your daytime energy and help you sleep better at night. In the long-term, a consistent gym routine reduces your risk of chronic diseases, gives your brain a boost and helps you feel happier. Plus, toned muscles are good for everything from nixing back pain to improving your balance. But, if it’s been, ahem, a while since you’ve dusted off your sneakers, it can be tough to know where to start. We say, go with—not against—your comfort zone.

Freshen up your fitness

Freshen up your fitness

Feel like you’re in a rut when it comes to your workout? If you’re dreading the treadmill or dragging your feet at dance class, it may be a sign that you need to shake things up. If you don’t like too much change, then just tweak your usual activity. For instance, if yoga is your thing, switch out your go-to Hatha class for Yin Yoga. You’ll challenge your body in new ways and meet a few new friends, too. Want a bigger change? Try these recommendations.

It’s the perennial question: RSP or TFSA?

It’s the perennial question: RSP or TFSA?

The answer depends on your age and stage of life. Here’s what you need to consider before you deposit your dough in one or the other.

If you think you’ll need the money in the next couple of years (for a vacation, emergency or renovation), a TFSA may be the better option because of its greater withdrawal flexibility.

An RRSP is the better choice if you are saving for the long-term, or are in a higher tax bracket now but expect to be in a lower one in retirement.