Aging Is Living- Myth Breaking Stories From Long Term Care

A Miles Nadal JCC Gallery Exhibit based on the book written by social worker Irene Borins Ash

As a social worker I began to question why some seniors become depressed while others, despite problems they faced in life, were joyously and passionately involved in living. My research led to my first book Treasured Legacies- Older & Still Great Second Story Press: 2003 which presented photographs and interviews with 44 seniors as well as a list of the common traits shared by the inspiring seniors I was privileged to meet and profile.  Everyone in the first book was living in their own home except for Ann Seaton who was living at the Apotex Centre, the Baycrest Centre for Geriatric Care.

Saying that her years at Baycrest were amongst some of her best, Ann inspired me to travel around Ontariofor 3 years interviewing seniors and in some cases younger people who were living in various long term care homes. The resulting exhibit was on display at RyersonUniversityas part of Contact and was launched at Queen’s Park.  This work became my second book “Aging Is Living- Myth Breaking Stories From Long Term Care” Dundurn Press: 2009.  I wrote the book to help take away some of the fear that people have about spending the later part of their life in a home.

Staying at home when care needs are round the clock and a person is housebound creates social isolation which is bad for your physical and mental health.  Aging is Living illustrates how people in nursing homes can thrive because their care needs are provided for along with being offered a variety of social programs. The family of the resident can also be released from “survival mode” to mend relationships and enjoy each other’s company.

-Irene Borins Ash

The Exhibit will run from June 13-July 22, 2012 at the Miles Nadal JCC

Gallery Hours
M-F 9:00am-9:00pm
S-S 9:00am-7:00pm

Irene can be reached at


TheOntarioLong Term Care Association
ChristieGardensApartments and Care Inc.
Extendicare Inc.
Leisureworld Caregiving Centres
PointClick Care
Responsive Health Management


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Colin’s Corner – Week Ten!

Sigh… this was a tough week. After a fairly short illness, I had to put my beautiful dog down. I had Rya for almost 10 years, and she was a wonderful companion on long walks, short walks, rollerblading, camping trips, trips to the lake, trips to a cottage, and generally any outdoor activity you can engage in. Not only did she get me outdoors and burning calories, she was always happy to share in junk food, thereby reducing my intake… For any of you who have been out on one of my monthly urban hikes, you will have met Rya, and will know what a really special dog she was. She’ll be missed…

I want to share with you a debate I had with my wife Monica the other day. She was insistent that I eat my salad after I was already full from eating a *large* turkey burger. I maintain that by putting a thick slice of tomato, two pieces of lettuce, and a couple slices of red onion on the burger, it was basically like having a salad. She said that that only counts as one serving, and is not enough. Who agrees with me? Who agrees with Monica? Thoughts, comments?

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Colin’s Corner – Week 9!

Circuit training. What is it? It’s a great way to improve your cardio and burn fat! I have been drawn to circuit training workouts lately for a couple of reasons. One reason is that it’s a highly efficient use of time. You can really pack a lot of activity into a 20 minute circuit training workout. The other is that I find I can’t focus on heavy resistance training as much any more because it creates all kinds of nagging pains in my body. Performing 4 sets of heavy bench presses wreaks havoc on my wrists, for example. A third reason why I’m using circuit training more and more is that is really, really fun! By changing things up frequently within the workout, you never get bored.

Below is a very effective circuit workout. If you have any questions about any of the exercises, shoot me an email at

20 Minute Circuit Workout

(*choose light weights for max reps)

1) Bench press* or pushups – max in 1:00
2) Squats – max in 1:00
3) Pullups or pulldowns – 1:00
4) Bike or jog – 3:00
5) Military press* – 1:00
6) Lunges – 1:00 each leg
7) Bicep curls – 1:00
8) Bike or jog – 3:00
9) Tricep extensions.- 1:00
10) Leg ext – 1:00 (requires leg machines – or repeat squats with weights)
11) Leg curls – 1:00 (requires leg machines – or repeat lunges with weights)
12) Situps – 2:00
13) Crunches – 2:00
14) Stretch

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Hungry Hearts A Cinematic Gem

In the wake of the excitement from the multi-Oscar winning 2011 highly popular film, The Artist,The Toronto Jewish Film Society offers Hungry Hearts: a silent film restored in 2006 by the trio of The National Centre of Jewish Film at Brandeis UniversityThe Samuel Goldwyn Company and the British Film Institute.

Originally released in 1922, Hungry Hearts is a Hollywood adaptation of short stories by the same name written by the Jewish, Polish-American novelist Anzia Yezierska, who also wrote the screenplay. Yezierska was often called the “Sweatshop Cinderella”. Her semi-autobiographicalstories provide insight into the cost of acculturation and assimilation among Jewish immigrants, particularly Jewish women immigrants.

Hungry Hearts was made on location on the Lower East Side of New York City, it was directed by E. Mason Hopper, produced by Samuel Goldwyn and it starred Bryant WashburnHelen Ferguson and E. Alyn Warren.

The movie is a gem. It conveys the raw power of the struggle for survival by recently arrived immigrants. This bittersweet classic captures the hopes and hardships of Jewish immigrants in the urban New World in the second decade of the twentieth century.  It’s an archival treasure that features amazing on-location footage of life in the 1920s Lower East Side. This is part of the reason why the TJFS chose this movie – for the backdrop of the real city shots in the real city.

We tend to view these old Yiddish films as antiques, museum pieces, relics of a past time. So why should they interest us today? Today, every scrap of footage has to be treated like a precious artifact because they’re the only moving pictures that remain of a once vibrant, engaging and popular culture that was Jewish immigrant life in North America.

Silent films usually had live musical accompaniment. On Sunday April 29, be will be veryfortunate to have Jordan Klapman there in person to accompany the film on the baby grand piano in the Al Green Theatre. Jordan is a multi-talented pianist, accompanist, bandleader, arranger, a lecturer on popular music, and an album producer with more than thirty years’ experience in the field. This is the first time we’ve presented a silent film with live music.  Lets hope this trend sticks around, as there are so many wonderful silent movies just waiting to be rediscovered.

Shirley Kumove, Author and Co-Chair of the Toronto Jewish Film Society

Hungry Hearts will be presented by the Toronto Jewish Film Society at the Al Green Theatre on Sunday April 29 at 4:00 pm and 7:30 pm.

Tickets: $15 at the door (no advance tickets, sorry!)

$10 for ages 18 – 35 (7:30 pm show only)

Info: (416) 924-6211 x 606


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Colin’s Corner – Week 8!

I’ve recently been turned on to Tabata training. This is a form of circuit training that involves intense work / rest sessions. A typical circuit is only 4 minutes long! Mind you, I don’t usually stop after one circuit. I like to start my workout with one 4 minute circuit, and finish my workout with another. It’s a great way to burn fat, and increase your body’s metabolic rate for up to 48 hours post workout.

First, choose your exercise. Multi joint exercises are best as they recruit the most muscular involvement (the whole idea is to increase oxygen delivery to your muscles). I like to use a dumbbell swing, for example. Next, perform the exercise for 20 seconds, and then rest for 10 seconds. Repeat this 8 times, for a total of 4 minutes. Many proponents of Tabata training claim that doing just this circuit once a day will burn a lot of fat; however, I’ve never felt that doing one 4 minute circuit was quite enough. So, like I said, I do one circuit at the start of my workout, and one at the end. Try it – google Tabata training and see what you find. If you haven’t tried this new form of fitness training, what are you waiting for?! (please exercise safely).

Well, this week is a weigh-in week. Please keep in mind that I have just spent a week on holiday, and that alcohol is very inexpensive inSouth Carolina! I did not gain any weight, I am still at 220lbs, and my body fat went from 22% to 21%. All in all, I am okay with these results. Things are still going in the right direction, and feel good that with this change of weather I’ll be able to make a good healthy push over the last 4 weeks of blogging.

My pearl of wisdom for this week is to drink enough water. We all know we should drink water every day. But, how much? According to this water calculator at, I need to consume 3.4 Litres of water every day! I do my best to drink about half of that. I have a 600mL water bottle at work, and I try to fill it and drink it 3 times a day. This keeps me hydrated, and visiting the men’s room all day long. I borrowed this image from the Mayo Clinic’s website to illustrate the importance of having enough water in your body:


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Colin’s Corner – Week Seven!

I’ve been away on holiday, and did not have a chance to update my blog for the last week. I hope you’ll forgive me… The good news is, Monica and I had a wonderful vacation in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, where we encountered several challenges to my weight loss goals. Carolina BBQ is one of the top regional BBQs in the U.S.A., and with good reason – it’s delicious!

We didn’t go too crazy with eating out at restaurants, though. We had a kitchen in our unit, and made healthy meals throughout the week. What makes a big difference for me throughout the day is whether or not I have a sensible breakfast. If I make sure to have a healthy breakfast of low glycemic carbs (those that release slowly into the blood, thereby providing a prolonged energy source), then I am far less likely to get hungry later in the day, and end up eating something unplanned. Granola, fruit, yogourt, an egg white omelet, oatmeal, these are all great ways to start the day.

One of my favourite healthy meals right now is a bbq chicken wrap. It makes a great lunch, afternoon snack, or even dinner.

BBQ Chicken Wrap

Large whole wheat tortilla

¼ cup shredded cabbage

¼ cup shredded lettuce

BBQ chicken breast or leg meat, roughly chopped

Dollop light curried mayo

1 medium pickle roughly chopped

½ tomato roughly chopped

Hot sauce (optional)

Assemble filling along a line in the centre of your wrap. Roll, tuck under, and enjoy!

I’ve been percolating in my mind some very broad strokes of weight loss behaviour. They may seem very obvious once stated, but I think it’s good to put them down to help reinforce them.

This week’s tip to maintaining a healthy lifestyle: no fried foods. A recent 11 year study conducted in Spain and reported in the British Medical Journal is suggesting that fried foods, in moderation, do not necessarily lead to heart disease. However, frying food adds extra fat and calories. A lot of extra fat and calories. For example, below, I compare 1 pound of chicken wings with a whole roasted chicken. Not surprisingly, a pound of wings has more calories than an entire chicken! (as well as more fat and sodium). So when you’re at the restaurant and you’re given a choice of sides, go for the baked potato, the soup or the salad. In the long run, it will be much better for you.

Chicken, roasted

Serving: 1 bird





Total fat


– Saturated fat


– Trans fat








Chicken, wing, batter dipped, fried

Serving: 10 wings (1lb)





Total fat


– Saturated fat


– Trans fat






Total carbs




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Daniel Barnes Is One Happy Band Leader

 I am really happy to have the opportunity to contribute to the Stars on Spadina Gala Event in support of the cultural programming of the MNjcc on Monday, April 23rd.

One has only to look at the steady stream of innovative, independent and varied presentations at the Al Green Theatre to know that the MNjcc is dedicated to fostering culture. It was they who approached me about a memorial night honoring my late father composer Milton Barnes. A packed house and a great experience organizing the show led to me approaching them for further presentations; Micah and Daniel Barnes in Concert in 2009 featuring original music from my brother Micah’s new CD release Domesticated and The Daniel Barnes Jazz Quartet playing music from my two CD releases. Then, in 2011 the Al Green Theatre partnered with myself, my bro, and our Mom, to Co-produce the Premiere of the show we wrote Jazz for Mara. It features my jazz quartet once again and my brother Micah on vocals plus my mother Lilly performing dramatic readings from, and the entire story line of our show is based on, her novel Mara (Variety Crossing Press, 2009). It stands as a highly original Literature and Music Concert Presentation!

Harriet Wichin’s bravery and the professionalism of her colleagues/staff are all to be applauded and enjoyed by those of us lucky enough to work with them!

Now comes the fundraising Gala for which I’m heading up the house band. The group consists of Kobi Hass on bass, who, although he’s pretty new  to Canada, has vast experience in many facets of the music industry back in Israel! His son, cellist Daniel Hass, is a featured performer on the program. On the Milton Barnes memorial show I mentioned, my dear brother from Vancouver, cellist Ariel Barnes came to play some of our Dad’s music! Also in the house band on the 23rd is pianist Mr. David Restivo. Dave is recognized as one of the finest jazz pianist/composers in our fair country! It’s always a pleasure to make music with him, ever since he and I took our “spares” in high school to jam!!

We’ll be backing some great talent; Jazz vocalist, singer songwriter, my brother, dynamic front man and former member of vocal group The Nylons, Micah Barnes. A leading performer (Diva?) of Yiddish and Canadian theatre Ms. Theresa Tova plus “New Generation” jazz pianist Ron Davis and vocalist Daniela Nardi who’ll be tapping into her Italian roots.

Sharing the bill with Moshe Hammer will be a pleasure, he and my Dad have been colleagues so it’ll be extra sweet to see him and then there’s Hilario Duran and his daughter Yailen, considered a leading voice in Latin-Jazz music in the world! And, all the rest of the talent….

Finally, the JCC at Bloor and Spadina has been close to my heart, literally, my whole life. You see, I was raised a block and a half from the place! My dear Mom still lives there! (So if rehearsals run too long, I can always escape for a tea!) I started swimming in the MNjcc as a wee one!

As I said, I’m glad Harriet Wichin has asked me to be involved. Let’s support the wonderful programs of the MNjcc!

Daniel Barnes is the House Band Leader for this year’s Stars on Spadina Gala. Hi varied work in jazz, world and popular idioms is well-documented and has led to JUNO nominations for a variety of Canadian artists. His full body of work can be found here.

Join us for Stars on Spadina on Monday, April 23 as we celebrate the heart and soul of the Miles Nadal Jewish Community Centre while making arts and cultural creativity accessible at any age.

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March 19, 2012 · 8:18 pm

Colin’s Corner – Week Six!

I wanted to touch back on a topic from last week, that is going online and researching caloric content of food online. One of the best websites that I use for this is Calorie Connect:

I find this site very easy to use, and it has a vast database of foods available. While I’m at it, here’s a link to a website that lists various activities, and how many calories you burn when performing them:

There are many, many websites that offer this service – I’m not partial to any one in particular. I try to avoid sites that have a lot of ads.

I have to say, I’m really enjoying writing this blog. It is keeping me focused on my activity levels and food choices. What has happened in this short period of time is that my week by week has naturally developed into a regular routine. I’ve listed my general exercise routine below, along with the number of calories burned beside the activity:


Monday a.m. – 30 minutes of cardio 502 calories

Monday p.m. – Hockey approx. 30 minutes 403 calories

Tuesday a.m. – 30 minutes weight training 303 calories

Tuesday p.m. – Gentle Yoga (when possible!) 346 calories

Wednesday – 30 minutes of cardio 502 calories

Thursday a.m. – Power Yoga 515 calories

Friday – 30 minutes cardio and 30 minutes weight training 502 + 303 = 805 calories

So if I look at my weekly calories burned, I’m estimating that I burn in the neighbourhood of 3300 calories. I know that to lose one pound of fat requires 3500 calories to be burned. So, there is a good reason that I am losing on average a pound a week. This is just by staying committed to exercising on average 30 minutes a day!


Speaking of 30 minutes a day, Please watch this video, entitled 23 ½ hours. Dr. Mike Evans is a sometimes JCC member and family doctor who practices out of St. Mike’s hospital. He has developed this video lecture on the importance regular activity ( i.e. 30 minutes a day), and the HUGE impact it has on one’s health. The video has gone viral, with over 2 million hits, has been translated into 3 languages (so far), and is being featured on many newscasts across the country. Way to go Mike!

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Colin’s Corner – Week Five!

It was a somber ride to work this morning on the TTC as we passed through Dupont station. Yesterday, a TTC fare collector was shot through the protective glass of his booth by a would-be robber. 52 year old William Anderson survived the shooting, but is recovering from his injuries at St. Michael’s hospital. What a terrible thing!

If there’s anything that is life affirming, it’s realizing that we don’t have forever to do what we want to do in our lives. It’s a mistake to think that we can continue to put off important projects to a later date, because that later date may never come…

So, I’m feeling enthused by last week’s re-assessment results. While the fact that I’ve been very dedicated to exercise has no doubt been a big factor in losing 6 pounds and 2 % body fat in 4 weeks, I can’t discount the huge role my food choices have played in my progress as well. Monica has been very supportive in helping me make the right food choices every day. Salads, salads, salads have been on the menu every day at least onece, often twice – lunch and dinner. While sticking to salads as a staple is a great way to stay healthy, I have to admit that there are times that I have cravings for less than healthy things. What do you do then?! Since I’ve been writing this blog, I’ve gone online and researched what those choices could mean for me, and for my fitness goals. Let’s take for example, say, french fries (who doesn’t enjoy a handful of fries now and then?). Below are listed the total calories, total fat, and total sodium content of fried potatoes, vs. baked / roasted potatoes. It’s easy to see that skipping the fries and having a baked potato is far better for me in the long run. And then I won’t have to run as long to burn the extra calories!

French fries, restaurant prepared

Serving: 20 strips

Nutrient Value

Calories 315

Total fat 16.6

Sodium  216


Potato, baked

Serving: 1 potato (12cm x 6cm dia)

Nutrient Value

Calories 145.1

Total fat 0.2

Sodium  7.8


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Colin’s Corner – Week Four

Week 4 is upon me. This week is key, because it is a re-assessment week. I will find out how well my program has been working for me.

I just weighed in, and I am currently 220lbs, and 22% body fat. Things are moving in the right direction! I have to say I’m pleased with these results. They are modest, but progressing at a sustainable rate over the long term.

I’d like to talk a little bit about why I chose a 12 week body transformation challenge. For that matter, why does everybody choose 12 weeks as the optimal time frame for exercise programming? Well, the easy answer is that the research supports it.

Our bodies have an immediate response to exercise: in the form of an elevated heart rate, energy, heat and water production, as well as lactic acid production. Over time, with on-going, regular activity, we become more efficient while performing the same exercises. This is due to changes in our metabolism in response to exercise. (Our heart rate doesn’t get quite as high at the same speed on the treadmill, for example). After 12 weeks of sustained commitment to regular exercise, our metabolism will adjust “permanently” to the new, higher metabolic rate.

This 12 week “period” is what we trainers use within a general program called “Periodization”. Much of the research around periodization is attributed to Tudor Bompa, a former Olympic athlete and coach from Romania, who now teaches at York University. It was designed for athletes who needed to customize training schedules around their competition season. Typically, off season would be a time for higher intensity workouts, so as not to risk overtraining during the season.

On a practical level, for the average gym member who just wants to stay in shape, there is much to learn from periodization. The most important thing is to think about one’s commitment to the gym in terms of a 12 week commitment. Any less than that and the changes you make to your body will disappear faster than a snowball in spring as soon as you stop exercising. If you maintain your workout schedule for the full 12 week period, you will reap the rewards!

The other important thing to take away from periodization is the importance of changing up your routine. Introducing a new series of exercises causes your muscles to respond. However, after three to six weeks of the same exercises, your body is no longer “shocked” by the activity, and ceases to respond in the same way. This is important to know. For anyone reading this that has been doing the same workout routine for three months or longer, it’s time to change it up! Excessive repetition of movement patterns can lead to muscle imbalances, repetitive strain injuries, or at the very least, diminished returns on your workout.

Within a 12 week period, I advocate to my clients to make “wholesale” changes to their routine every month. This usually involves a progressive increase in volume, intensity, and duration of a workout, in order to reflect your body’s increased capacity for work. Below is a sample of a monthly progression over three months.

                        Sets     Reps    # of Exercises

Month 1          3          15                      6

Month 2          3          8 – 12              8

Month 3          4          8 – 12             10

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