Tag Archives: battling

Canadian men’s soccer team battling more than tough opposition at Olympic qualifier

Canada will be battling more than El Salvador on Friday when it opens play at the CONCACAF Men’s Olympic Qualifying Championship in Guadalajara.

Heat (the forecast for the 4 p.m. local time kickoff calls for a temperature of 29 C), altitude (1,550 metres), inactivity (14 of Canada’s 20-man roster play in North America and so are coming from out of season) and unfamiliarity (the Mexico tournament marks the first exclusive get-together for this under-23 team) will likely all come into play at Jalisco Stadium.

But for Canada Soccer and men’s supremo John Herdman, who has tasked the Olympic team to assistant Mauro Biello while he looks after the senior side in World Cup qualifying, it’s a chance to test Canada’s depth and processes.

Since taking over the men’s national team in January 2018, Herdman has brought plenty of young talent into camp to ensure everyone is on the same page.

Canada looking to end Olympic dearth 

“This is an opportunity for a lot of young players here to showcase themselves but at the same time, in terms of the program, everything’s aligned from the men’s national team all the way to our U-15 program,” Biello told a virtual news conference Thursday.

“So a lot of these players that have had some experience graduating through the youth teams and now into the U-23s in our environments are now ready.”

Ten of Canada’s 20 players have national team experience.

Derek Cornelius (13 caps), Marcus Godinho (5), Zachary Brault-Guillard (4), Charles-Andreas Brym (3), Theo Bair (2), Zorhan Bassong (2), Ballou Tabla (2) and Kris Twardek (1) have all played for the senior side while the uncapped Tajon Buchanan and James Pantemis have been called into at least one senior camp.

Herdman and Biello joined forces in guiding a young Canadian side that turned heads at the prestigious Toulon youth tournament in France in May-June 2018.

Cornelius, Pantemis, Aidan Daniels and forward Theo Bair were on that Toulon team.

Now they are looking to help the Canadian men return to the Olympics for the first time since the 1984 Games in Los Angeles, where Canada lost to Brazil in a penalty shootout in the quarter-finals.

Finding the ‘rhythm’

“We’re sure that the quality is there. We’re sure that we have the talent,” said Cornelius, a 23-year-old defender with the Vancouver Whitecaps. “And it’s just about getting the small things right so that we can really show it on the pitch.”

The eight-team Olympic qualifier was originally scheduled for last March but was postponed due to the pandemic. It will send two teams from the region, which covers North and Central America and the Caribbean, to the Summer Olympics.

Only players born in 1997 or later are eligible for Olympic qualifying (the same age limit was kept despite the qualifying tournament’s one-year delay). Countries that make it to the Olympics are allowed up to three overage players.

After facing El Salvador, Canada continues Group B play against Haiti on Monday and Honduras next Wednesday. Group A, which opened the tournament Thursday, consists of Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, Mexico and the U.S.

The top two in each group advance to the semifinals with the winners booking their tickets to Tokyo.

Mexico, which has won the last two CONCACAF qualifiers, and Honduras represented the region at the last two Olympics. Honduras was fourth at the 2016 Rio Games while Mexico defeated Brazil 2-1 to win gold in 2012 in London.

Biello calls El Salvador a possession-based technical team that is organized defensively. It’s also a team that has been together three times already, he noted.

“Obviously my main concern is getting that rhythm,” Biello said of his squad. “A lot of these players haven’t played, whether it’s off-season, whether it’s pre-season.”

Plenty to play for

“This is not going to happen perfectly on the first go,” added Cornelius. “I’m just looking to improve and get the team to be better and better as we go along in the tournament.”

With World Cup qualifiers and the Gold Cup on deck this year, the Canadian men have plenty to play for.

Canada and El Salvador tied 0-0 when they met at the 2012 Olympic qualifying tournament. Canada won 4-2 in 1996.

Biello was unable to summon Toronto FC young talent after the MLS team went into a training camp lockdown earlier this month due to an outbreak of COVID-19.

El Salvador forwards Joshua Perez and Enrico Hernandez are both based in Europe, with Spain’s UD Ibiza Spain and the Netherlands’ Vitesse, respectively.

Canada Olympic Team

Goalkeepers: Sebastian Breza, Bologna (Italy); Matthew Nogueira, CS Maritimo (Portugal); James Pantemis, CF Montreal (MLS).

Defenders: Zorhan Bassong, CF Montreal (MLS); Zachary Brault-Guillard, CF Montreal (MLS); Derek Cornelius, Vancouver Whitecaps (MLS); Marcus Godinho, FSV Zwickau (Germany); Thomas Meilleur-Giguere, Pacific FC (CPL); Callum Montgomery, Minnesota United FC (MLS).

Midfielders: Michael Baldisimo, Vancouver Whitecaps (MLS); Aidan Daniels, Oklahoma City Energy FC (USL Championship); Lucas Dias, Sporting Lisbon (Portugal); Patrick Metcalfe, Vancouver Whitecaps (MLS); David Norman, Cavalry FC (CPL) Ryan Raposo, Vancouver Whitecaps (MLS).

Forwards: Theo Bair, Vancouver Whitecaps (MLS); Charles-Andreas Brym, Royal Excel Mouscron (Belgium); Tajon Buchanan, New England Revolution (MLS); Ballou Tabla, CF Montreal (MLS); Kris Twardek, Jagiellonia (Poland).

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CBC | Soccer News

Battling lack of game time, Team Canada ramps up preparations for world juniors

In a normal year Jamie Drysdale would have already played around 30 games as a defenceman for the Ontario Hockey League’s Erie Otters.

Of course, there is nothing normal about 2020.

Like most of the players on Canada’s roster at this year’s 2021 IIHF world junior championship, Drysdale hasn’t played a competitive game since March, when the country’s three major junior hockey leagues were shut down over concerns about the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It’s very different,” said the 18-year-old from Toronto who was picked sixth overall by the Anaheim Ducks in this year’s NHL draft.

“Not playing the game in seven or eight months could really take a toll on you. We did a good job in camp doing everything we could to get our bodies back in game shape and our minds back in game shape as well.”

WATCH | World Juniors to proceed despite COVID-19:

Ten cases of COVID-19 have made it inside the World Hockey Juniors bubble in Edmonton. This is despite a gauntlet of quarantines and daily testing of staff and players. But so far, it’s still game on. 2:14

Getting ready for this year’s world juniors has been a “different ballgame” for everyone, but especially for goaltenders, said Taylor Gauthier, one of the team’s three goalies.

“Shooters, in the summer, they can shoot pucks, pretty much practice all the skills required to play in a game,” said the 19-year-old Calgary native who plays for the Prince George Cougars of the Western Hockey League. “For a goalie, it’s a little different.

“You have to get back on the ice, and then you have to get used to seeing the puck again, get used to reading movements and reading plays.”

Tournament prep underway

Team Canada held a training camp in Red Deer, Alta., before travelling to Edmonton to join nine other teams in a bubble.

The tournament is scheduled to begin Christmas Day with no fans in Rogers Place. Canada’s first game is Dec. 26 against Germany.

The Canadians will be limited to one exhibition game on Dec. 23 against Russia. Their scheduled Dec. 21 exhibition game against Sweden was cancelled because of positive coronavirus test results on the Swedish team.

The WHL has delayed its plan to begin playing Jan. 8. The OHL is looking at starting a 40-game season beginning Feb. 4. The Quebec Major Junior Hockey League began play in October but has decided to close until Jan. 3 due to COVID-19 issues.

While Canadian teams have been idle, many junior teams in Europe have continued to play games.

“It’s something that we could possibly use as an excuse, but at the end of the day we know the talent that our team possess,” Gauthier said. “Come Boxing Day we’re all going to be in game shape.

“The factor that other countries have been playing for a certain period of time, I don’t think that will come into play very much.”

Michael Dyck, a Team Canada assistant coach, said avoiding injuries after a long layoff was one of the priorities when training camp opened Nov. 16.

“It’s something we had to wean ourselves into,” he said. “We wanted to hit the ground running, but at the same time we were very mindful of their hips, groins, their hamstrings and being put into a really competitive environment after not being in a competitive environment for a quite some time.”

WATCH | Feds revisit world junior plan after rising case totals:

With COVID-19 cases on the rise in Alberta and Canadian, Swedish and German teams dealing with outbreaks, Canada’s Deputy Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Howard Njoo says they are “keeping an eye” on the situation and will “revisit” their protocols when players start travelling to Alberta. 1:45

Drysdale said playing inter-squad games helped the team physically and mentally.

“Seeing plays that you haven’t seen in a while, getting that mental side of the game back, your reads back,” said Drysdale, who helped Canada win a gold medal in last year’s tournament.

“It’s nice [to] block a shot again. It’s nice to just give a hit, take a hit.”

Pandemic challenges

The camp underwent a 14-day quarantine after two players and one non-core staff member tested positive for the COVID-19 virus.

“It’s funny,” said Dyck, head coach of the WHL’s Vancouver Giants. “We got back going again, we played a couple of games before heading into Edmonton, and it honestly didn’t take long for these guys to get their timing back and shake some of the rust off.

“It’s a challenge that we knew we would have to encounter, and I think the guys have a done a really good job dealing with it.”

Drysdale said Canada may show some rust against Germany.

“No one is going to be perfect,” he said. “It’s the first real game we’ll play together. Everyone will have a lot of energy and be ready to go.

“It’s not going to be a perfect game, I can guarantee you that. Mistakes are going to be made. But as the same time, we’re a team. We’re going to stick together and get through all of it together.”

There also will be some butterflies.

“Regardless of whether I’ve been playing for three or four months or not, I think there’ll be some nerves,” Gauthier said. “It’s the world juniors. It’s a moment all of us have dreamed of since we were young.

“It’s good to be nervous and it’s good to feel those pressures. Just embrace it and feel lucky and fortunate that you’re able to play, because right now, there’s no one playing hockey.”

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CBC | Sports News

How battling his brothers prepared runner Moh Ahmed for world-level success

Moh Ahmed narrowly missed the Olympic podium in 2016 and three years later earned world bronze after leading late in the race, yet some of his fiercest battles haven’t been waged on a running track.

There were many days spent as a young teen playing basketball at a park with younger twin brothers Ibrahim and Kadar, about two kilometres from home in St. Catharines, Ont., while their parents worked.

“They were feisty and competitive,” Ahmed said in a phone interview with CBC Sports. “They wouldn’t go home until they gave me the best effort they could. They were my brothers but also my best friends.”

Ibrahim and Kadar have watched the 5,000-metre runner become a five-time Canadian champion, national record-holder and now a serious medal contender for the Tokyo Olympics next summer.

On July 10, Ahmed ran the 10th fastest 5,000 in history, bettering his own Canadian record by 10 seconds in 12 minutes 47.20 seconds. 

Two weeks later, he ran a 1,500 in 3:34.89, the fifth-fastest time ever by a Canadian.

‘They inspired me’

All that time spent battling his brothers looks to be paying off.

“It’s a competitive milieu I grew up in that really helped me. They inspired me,” Ahmed said of his brothers, who also played soccer and basketball. “They were always good, making teams and brought that competitiveness home.

“In Grade 7 and 8 I was still immature, in terms of my body. I went to a school with some incredible athletes so I couldn’t make any of the teams.”

WATCH | Mo Ahmed: From humble beginnings … to Olympic podium?:

After getting a taste of the podium at the world championships, Somalia-born Canadian Moh Ahmed is now looking for a Canadian long distance first — a medal at the Olympic Games. 5:11

Ahmed started running track at age 13 and was further inspired seeing track athletes on television at the 2004 Athens Olympics, as well as Canadian sprint kayaker Adam van Koeverden, who won gold and bronze medals at those Games.

“Watching all those races,” he said, “I had goosebumps. I remember running around the basement after each of those races for 15 to 20 minutes. In my Grade 8 yearbook I wrote ‘Olympian’ as my future occupation. I didn’t know what that meant but it’s the fact I was inspired and held on to that [dream].”

Ahmed, now 29, realized his Olympic dream in 2012 in London, where he finished 18th in the 10,000. Four years later, he doubled up in Rio, placing 32nd and fourth, respectively, in the 10,000 and 5,000.

Ahmed’s breakout moment came three months earlier at the Diamond League’s Prefontaine Classic in Eugene, Ore., according to Jerry Schumacher, his coach at the Portland-based Bowerman Track Club since 2014. The former University of Wisconsin-Madison standout took the lead with a lap to go in the 5,000 and hung on for a third-place finish in 13 minutes 1.74 seconds.

“I remember thinking he was just scratching the surface and there was better coming,” Schumacher told CBC Sports.

Ahmed went on to earn Commonwealth Games silver in 2018 and last September clocked 13:01.11 for bronze at the world championships in Doha, Qatar.

If there’s a sign the Somalia-born runner is ready for Tokyo, he said his record 5,000 run in July at an instrasquad meet in Portland “felt fairly easy.

WATCH | Ahmed shatters his 5,000m Canadian record:

29-year-old Moh Ahmed of St. Catharines, Ont., won the 1,500 metres race in three minutes 34.89 seconds at the Bowerman Track Club intrasquad meet in Portland, Ore. on Tuesday, July 21. 5:03

“Physically I was ready for it, and mentally and emotionally as well,” said Ahmed, who enjoys writing and poetry away from the track. “I was very much in tune with my body, on top of my stride, controlling my body and emotions, and was able to observe and read the race well.”

He’s kind of like that quiet assassin. … He’s got this quiet confidence but when he comes out [on the track] he packs a big punch.— Bowerman Track Club coach Jerry Schumacher on Ahmed

His brother Ibrahim was able to attend, which gave him extra motivation.

“Every scream, every yell and every shout from [Ibrahim] and [my coach and teammates] had pure encouragement,” Ahmed said. “It was pushing me, propelling me. There’s a deep connection with those individuals and I know how bad they want it for me.”

Better at handling nerves, pressure

“He’s kind of like that quiet assassin,” Schumacher said of Ahmed, laughing. “You don’t expect it [because] he’s a very unassuming guy and humble. He’s got this quiet confidence but when he comes out [on the track] he packs a big punch.”

Ahmed admitted to feeling more confident in his abilities and more experienced in handling the nerves, anxiousness and pressures of racing. He also considers himself among those in the hunt for an Olympic medal next summer in Tokyo.

Only Joshua Cheptegei, who set a world record of 12:35.36 on Aug. 14, has run faster than Ahmed since Jan. 1, while Cheptegei’s Ugandan teammate Jacob Kiplimo (12:48.63) and Ethiopia’s Selemon Barega (12:49.08) are the others to have run under 12:51.

This is the company Ahmed now keeps and wanted, Schumacher said, when he arrived at Bowerman with big dreams but lacking the skills, confidence and development to immediately reach an elite level.

“That’s what he’s always been driving for,” the renowned Schumacher said. “Moh’s competitiveness or competitive instincts have been the same since [Day 1]. But medalling at that level, with those guys, is always hard.”

Ahmed hopes he put enough fear in his competitors in the world final after taking the lead with about 500 metres to the finish, dropping to fifth and working his way back to third on the straightaway at Khalifa International Stadium.

WATCH | Ahmed claims 5,000m bronze at 2019 worlds:

Canadian Moh Ahmed reaches the podium with a time of 13 minutes 1.11 seconds. 3:03

Health will be paramount in the eight months leading up to Tokyo, Ahmed noted.

“My dad once told me, ‘Only a healthy man can go out and seek their destiny.’ If you are healthy and can pile up the mileage week after week, you’ll be prepared,” he said.

American runner Evan Jager remembers Ahmed having “a lot of room to grow” when he joined Bowerman, watching him make big gains the first two years and reset the bar soon after the 2016 Rio Olympics.

“He wasn’t going to be satisfied with anything less than standing on the podium at global championships,” said Jager, a silver medallist in the 3,000 steeplechase at Rio. “Every part of his life was centred around running and people are starting to see his hard work and dedication pay off.


American runner Evan Jager, left, says keeping up with Ahmed at practice “is a tall, tall task.” Jager won steeplechase silver at the 2016 Rio Olympics. (Submitted by Bowerman Track Club)

“I was not shocked and shocked at the same time [at his running 12:47] because of how easy he made it look,” said Jager, who was in the race but wasn’t able to hold Ahmed’s pace and didn’t finish.

“Tough, fun and super frustrating” is how Jager describes battling his longtime teammate at practice these days.

“He’s definitely more confident over the past two years,” Jager said. “Keeping up with him is a tall, tall task. Everyone on the team looks up to him and it just sets the bar even higher.

“I would not bet against Moh to medal [in Tokyo] but championship races are so hard and competitive. Everyone brings their A-plus-plus game to an Olympic final and I have no doubt he’ll do the required thinking and planning to get there.”

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CBC | Sports News

Hands On With DJI’s New RoboMaster S1 Battling Robot

If you have a teenage family member or friend, you may be familiar with FIRST Robotics, but maybe not with DJI’s RoboMaster competition: Imagine FIRST times 10. RoboMaster pits teams of University students against each other, each fielding six custom robots designed and built according to certain specs and rules. DJI’s S1 is a simplified, scaled-down, version of one of the “standard” robots that you might see in RoboMaster.

Unboxing a DJI RoboMaster S1

The S1 comes in a few dozen pieces, with a graphical set of instructions for assembly. I’d place the difficulty as being a little harder than putting a LEGO robot together, and less stressful than assembling an Ikea desk. Once you have the S1 built and its battery charged (also the optional Gamepad if you’re using one), the next step is to install the app and log in to a DJI account. It seems a bit excessive to have to create or log in to an account just to play with a toy robot, but if you’re ever going to want to participate in a multi-player scenario it makes some sense. Weirdly, the mobile version of the app asks for permission to make and manage phone calls. Fortunately saying no doesn’t seem to hurt anything.

Here are the components for building a RoboMaster S1

Here are the components for building a RoboMaster S1.

Connecting the S1SEEAMAZON_ET_135 See Amazon ET commerce over Wi-Fi to your router uses a clever but sort-of-annoying approach of having you tell the app your SSID and password to generate a QR code you scan with the S1’s camera. It’s not a big deal to do once, but it appears to have to be repeated any time you want to connect the S1 to a different device. That makes it painful to (for example) use a PC for programming and a phone in the Gamepad for battle. You can also use WiFi direct or a USB cable to connect to the S1, so I suspect a good solution might be to use a USB-C cable connected to a PC for programming and then Wi-Fi with a phone for operating the S1.

If you're organized and use a nice desk as your workbench, this is what assembling an S1 looks like.

If you’re organized and use a nice desk as your workbench, this is what assembling an S1 looks like.

You can drive the S1 right away from the app, using the touchscreen on a phone or tablet, or keyboard and mouse on a PC. The Windows version is in beta, which may explain why it didn’t work on my laptop. You can also load your phone into the (optional) Gamepad-style controller, and rely on the controller’s joystick for movement and command buttons for operations like firing. I’m not sure why there isn’t a second joystick on the Gamepad for turning, but instead, you need to use your phone’s touchscreen (or change the settings so that the S1 rotates to follow whatever you do with the Gamepad). The real fun comes in when you start to program the S1 — either using some of the provided pre-built code or by learning to program it on your own.

The Mecanum wheels are a favorite of robot competitors everywhere, as they allow full freedom of motion.The S1 can either fire infrared beams or gel capsules (similar to the ammunition used in the RoboMaster competition — just make sure and soak them for a few hours, per the incredibly-small-print instructions on the bottle). The capsules are non-toxic and disintegrate into dust that can be vacuumed up. An LED can provide visual feedback on where the S1’s gun is aimed, as long as your surroundings aren’t too bright, but primary manual targeting is with the FPV camera that showcases a gunsight in the middle.

Of course, you can also program the robot to aim and fire. Six targets on the sides, front, and rear of the bot respond to infrared or physical impacts. The targets aren’t very large, so close range shooting is helpful. There is a 1080p FPV camera aligned with the gun, that you can livestream in the app. FPV mode helps you target, of course, but also limits your ability to see anywhere except where the gun is pointed.

For safety, by default, the S1 won’t let you fire beads when your barrel is raised more than 10 degrees above level, so its effective range is limited to a few meters. However, if you turn the safety off and raise the barrel, the gun does an impressive job of hitting targets as far as 15 yards away, as you can see from the below video. Of course, DJI encourages you to wear safety glasses and not aim at any people or animals! That said, even at 3 feet the capsules weren’t able to punch through the paper air gun targets I used to test it (but they could clearly cause damage to an eye, for example).

Programming the S1 in Scratch or Python

Scratch is a graphical, block-based, programming environment created by MIT Media Lab as an educational tool. It is similar to LEGO’s EV3 programming system but more extensive. For those who are already comfortable with programming, Python is provided as an alternative, and you can always see the Python code generated by a Scratch program in case you want to migrate.

If what you’re hoping to do is program a battle robot, then the provided set of blocks for Scratch is extensive and well thought out. You can start at the lowest level, directly programming the gimbal, the gun, and how the S1 responds to hits on its armor. Or you can mix and match some of the existing modules and build on them. At the most sophisticated level, there are subroutines for tracking a person, and for line following.

The programming module has a basic debugging interface, where you can run the program while looking at what the robot is seeing. Once you have a program working, you can run it manually, as a custom skill when doing Battle, or set it load when you put the robot in Autonomous mode. DJI promises a library of programming videos, but so far it looks like there is part of one is available. It covers interacting with the robots PIDs (Proportional-Integral-Derivative Controllers), but seems to skip the portion where actually programming the PIDs is explained).

Speaking of PIDs, by allowing direct control of them, the S1 programming environment provides some differentiation from many less-expensive alternatives. For those who are used to simple “tell the robot where you want it to aim” programming, under the surface, there is almost certainly an algorithm that relies on a feedback loop with a PID to actually turn to the target expeditiously while minimizing overshoot. With the S1 you can tweak the algorithms that drive the PID for yourself, to hopefully create a better targeting system than your competition.

A Little About the RoboMaster Competition

RoboMaster’s big event is head-to-head between two teams of college students. Until recently they were almost all from China, but in 2018 there were teams from a number of countries, including the USA and Japan. The bots weigh up to 80 pounds and are all custom built by the team. The compete on a complicated battlescape, with the drivers facing away from the action, and relying on a mini-map to see where all the other bots are on the field. Almost all of the action revolves around shooting. Bots load up with ammunition from supply depots and go to work. Each team can field a Hero robot, a Sentry robot, and some Infantry robots, and potentially even a drone. Teams get points for both inflicting and avoiding damage, with the higher-scoring at the end of the timed match winning.

Most coverage of RoboMaster is in Chinese, but if you’re curious about the inspiration for the S1, here is coverage of the first day of the 2018 competition.

Not the Best Robot for Other Applications

If you don’t want to fight, the S1 may not be the best robot for you. While the S1 has plenty of interesting AI-powered features and a solid programming environment, DJI’s choice of hardware is definitely battle-focused. For example, there are hit detectors on every side of the robot, but no Ultrasonic distance sensors that would be very helpful for autonomous navigation or SLAM applications. Similarly, you’re paying for a sophisticated gimballed gun that could be omitted or replaced by more cameras or other sensors for other applications. Or you could buy a Jetson Nano and build yourself a JetBot, for example. Speaking of which I now have a review JetBot in house, so we’ll be doing a hands-on article on it soon as well.

Great for Programming and Fighting

The S1 isn’t the best platform for hardware hacking. You can add on to it, but the basic robot only goes together one way. However, it has plenty of software flexibility, so if you want to get going with a battling robot without having to solder or source parts from all over, it’s a great option. Of course, you need $ 500 and some friends with a similar desire and budget to make the most of it. If you do want to have fun programming a battling robot and have the cash, the S1 is great.

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ExtremeTechExtreme – ExtremeTech

When battling high blood cholesterol, white meat is no better than red meat, study says

When it comes to reducing your blood cholesterol with healthy eating, white meat isn’t any better than red meat, according to a new study that contradicts previous medical thinking.

High levels of blood cholesterol are a leading cause of heart disease, and a condition faced by about 40 per cent of Canadian adults, according to Statistics Canada.

Diet and lifestyle changes are crucial to controlling high blood cholesterol, and some health experts said the study by doctors at the University of California, San Francisco, underscores the need for Canadians to eat less meat.

“We used to think that white meat was better than red meat for controlling blood cholesterol. What we found was there really was no difference,” said Dr. Ronald Krauss, the study’s senior author and a scientist at Children’s Hospital Oakland Research Institute in California. 

The key takeaway, Krauss said, is that consumers who want to lower their blood cholesterol should substitute plant-based proteins for both red and white meat. 

“I wouldn’t go overboard and say: ‘You should never have red meat or you should never have white meat,'” Krauss said in an interview. “We are saying you shouldn’t emphasize those proteins too heavily — keep them at a moderate level.”

The study, published on June 4 in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, followed 113 people on six different diets prescribed by researchers to track the impact of various types of proteins on blood cholesterol levels.

Typically, research on eating habits involves questionnaires or surveys rather than determining exactly what people in the study group eat, Krauss said. This study controlled participants’ diets and tested their blood cholesterol under various eating regimes determined by researchers.

The study is the largest of its kind to focus on dietary proteins, Krauss said. 

It took a number of years to carry out, he said — and the results were unexpected. 

Don’t make big conclusions: nutritionist 

Carol Dombrow, a nutrition consultant for the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada, said the study looks “well done” but its sample size was small.

She said it’s “premature” to make any big conclusions on red versus white meat when it comes to controlling blood cholesterol. 

“This is an interesting study but we need way more information to make a conclusion about it,” Dombrow said in an interview. “The study does agree with pushing plant-based foods,” she said, a move backed by the Heart and Stroke Foundation.


Various cuts of beef and pork are displayed for sale in the meat department at a discount market in Arlington, Va., in 2013. Red meat contains saturated fat which has been linked to blood cholesterol. However, it also contains important vitamins such as B12. (J. Scott Applewhite/Associated Press)

Saturated and trans fats in food raise levels of low-density lipoproteins — known as LDL or “bad cholesterol”  — in the bloodstream, increasing the risks of clogged arteries and heart disease, Dombrow said. 

The assumption has been that red meat is higher saturated fat content than white meat, she said.

‘Dangerous science’

A group representing Canadian chicken farmers lambasted the study, calling it methodologically flawed with a small sample size and confusing for average consumers. 

“To me, this study cries bizarre,” Gina Sunderland, a dietitian who works for Manitoba Chicken Producers, said in an interview. “People should not be restricting their intake of lean white meat protein, like chicken breasts … To make such sweeping recommendations from a small sample size … is dangerous science in my opinion.” 

The study isn’t specific about what kind of non-meat proteins people should be eating, she said. And it didn’t control for other factors like smoking, obesity or physical activity among participants that could impact blood cholesterol levels and overall health.

The focus on plant-based proteins might have been an attempt for the study’s authors to publish research in line with the latest “trendy” dietary fashion, she said.

Follow the food guide

The study was financed by the U.S. National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, and the National Institutes of Health.

However, two of the study’s authors had received an unrelated grant from Dairy Management Inc., a lobby group for U.S. dairy farmers, according to the research credits. 

Sunderland from Manitoba Chicken Farmers said that could spell a conflict of interest; study participants on one of the non-meat protein diets were given significant amounts of animal protein from dairy foods. 

“Villainizing specific foods is not good science or public health advice for the average population,” she said, arguing that people need vitamins contained in lean meats and information from the study could confuse Canadians.

Krauss and Dombrow both agreed that keeping up with shifting science can be difficult and confounding for consumers trying to stay healthy. 

Following Canada’s new food guide, which urges people to eat more plant-based proteins, is the best bet for a regular person scrambling to cook dinner while keeping an eye on their blood cholesterol, Dombrow said. 

“Our data and other studies support increasing consumption of vegetables, fruits and unprocessed grains,” Krauss said. “All of those have nutrition benefits on the risk of heart disease.”

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CBC | Health News

Battling burnout: Modern work pressures distort our very identities, warns Rahaf Harfoush

Our relationship with our jobs is increasingly dysfunctional, and too many of us wear the amount of work we do as a badge of honour at the expense of our mental and physical well-being.

That’s Rahaf Harfoush’s take on modern life in her latest book, Hustle and Float, an unsparing look at working conditions and the changes being wrought by technology — with insight that sprang partly from her own experiences.

“Culturally, the rituals that we’ve developed around how we talk about work … it’s like, not just the job that we do, but how hard we work at it,” Harfoush says. “That goes counter to all of the actual things we need to do to be healthy and to be more creatively prosperous.”

While working on the book, she suffered her own disastrous episode of burnout.

“I was very much focused around this idea that I had to do more and more and more and more in order to reach this success, and for me what ended up happening was I ended up overworking.”

The result — insomnia, anxiety, hair loss — are symptoms familiar to anyone who has gone through sustained periods of overwork.

She says people need to question why the sheer amount of work we do is so thoroughly woven into our identities these days — and looms so large in how we measure our success.

Harfoush’s career has taken her all over the world, helping people understand how technology is changing our behaviour and society itself. (Evan Mitsui/CBC)

Harfoush is perhaps a perfect example of the kind of multicultural digital native this country incubates. The Damascus-born, Toronto-raised author and public speaker is based in Paris these days, but her work has taken her all over the world. Her mission: helping people understand the often hidden ways that technology is changing our behaviour, both as individuals and within the places we work.

Harfoush’s own drive for creative prosperity got a chance to flower, she says, when her parents — an engineer and an architect — decided to leave their home in Syria and move to Canada when she was just five.

“They came here with three suitcases, a family of five,” she says. “My mom didn’t speak any English. She worked in Tim Hortons.”

Life wasn’t easy at the beginning, but being in Canada gave her family opportunities they would not have had elsewhere, and they worked hard to take advantage of them. Today her father teaches at Harvard, her mother works in interior design.

Harfoush has built a career that’s grounded in understanding technology, the impact it has on people, and how they adapt their lives and behaviour around it.

Part of that expertise can be traced back to her work with Don Tapscott on Grown Up Digital, the follow-up to his groundbreaking look at the generation of “digital natives” entering the workforce. Through her research, Harfoush met Chris Hughes, a co-founder of Facebook. And that connection led her to work as a volunteer on Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign.

“This was the first large-scale movement driven by tech,” she recalls.

“I was so moved by the willingness of all these young people to throw it all behind this campaign … people forget how much of a long-shot he was.”

Rahaf Harfoush holds up her election-night passes to Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign headquarters. She worked as a volunteer on Obama’s campaign, which was heavily driven by social media. (Rahaf Harfoush)

The work she did on the campaign was a lesson in how people used technology and social media to build the real human connections that powered Obama’s grass-roots driven election victory. Harfoush kept a journal throughout this period, and it became her first book, Yes We Did.

A common theme in Harfoush’s research has been the potential that comes from putting people at the centre of technological advancements, and this formed the core of another book project, her New York Times bestseller The Decoded Company.

It was co-written with the leaders of a Toronto-based firm called Klick, the world’s largest independent health care marketing agency. The book defines a decoded company as a business of any size that puts people ahead of customers and profit, and uses data to unlock its employees’ potential. The Decoded Company is billed as, “a powerful guide to building a data-centric corporate culture that unleashes talent and improves engagement.”

In contrast, Hustle And Float is in many ways a cautionary tale.

The book details Harfoush’s realization, partly as a result of her own experience with burnout, that she is part of a generation of people who have stopped putting their most human needs first, allowing their work to dominate their identities.

Technology has made it possible to work non-stop, no matter where we are, and that has enabled jobs to influence and transform how people conduct their entire waking lives. She says people need to be conscious of that, and not be drawn in to the point where they drown in their work.

“I saw something on Instagram the other day that said if you’re not going where you want to be in your life … consider what you’re doing between 7 p.m. and 12 a.m. This is the narrative that I want to fight against,” Harfoush says.

She adds that she’s not against working hard, dreaming big, and sacrificing some things to build a life and a career. But Harfoush says people also need to redefine, “this idea of what success looks like and what is required for us to get there. I think there’s definitely room for improvement.”


Burnout: Stress at Work

From how we think about our jobs, to where and when we do them, the stress of modern work is affecting Canadians in a lot of ways and across industries.

This week, CBC News and The National take a look at the forces behind this stress and the ways we can avoid burning out. We’ll examine new approaches to productivity and creativity, how we structure shift work, the mental health effects of telecommuting and what Canada can learn from other countries.

For more on our series “Burnout: Stress At Work,” watch The National and read more at CBCNews.ca.



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World Cup QF: Both Brazil, Belgium battling bad vibes

​To get past Belgium in the quarter-finals at the World Cup, Brazil has to do something it has not been able to do since it last won the tournament in 2002: overcome European opposition in the knockout stages.

Since beating Germany 2-0 in the 2002 World Cup final, the five-time winner has been eliminated by European sides in the three subsequent competitions. Brazil lost to France and the Netherlands in the quarter-finals of the 2006 and 2010 World Cups and was humiliated 7-1 by Germany in the semifinals four years ago at home.

Fortunately for the Selecao, Belgium has a poor record against South American sides at the World Cup. Not only has Belgium not won any of its games against South American teams in the knockout stages, it hasn't even managed to score a goal. Most recently, Belgium lost 1-0 to Argentina in the 2014 quarter-finals.

The core of that side remains in place in Russia, where Belgium has won all four of its matches, including coming back from 2-0 down to beat Japan in the round of 16 with a thrilling counterattack in the final seconds of injury time.

Everything you need to know ahead of Brazil and Belgium's quarter-final match on Friday. 1:00

Everyone knew about the array of talent running through the Belgium side, from Thibaut Courtois in goal to Kevin De Bruyne in midfield and Eden Hazard and Romelu Lukaku up front. The main questions following disappointing defeats in the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 European Championship centred on the team's character.

That 3-2 victory over Japan was the first time a team has overcome a two-goal deficit to win outright since West Germany beat England in 1970, and the first to do it in regulation since Portugal came from three down to beat North Korea in 1966. It has fueled confidence inside the Belgium camp that it can deal with adversity and make the World Cup semifinals for the first time since 1986.

"Maybe it's this sort of match that we needed for the future," said Hazard, the captain.

England hasn't won the World Cup since 1966, but Rob Pizzo shows that the road ahead looks pretty favourable.​ 1:46

Coach Roberto Martinez won praise for his substitutions, with both Marouane Fellaini and Nacer Chadli scoring, the latter with practically the last kick of the match.

"You have to find solutions, you have to find reaction but what you have to find more than anything is the desire and togetherness of a group of players, that they are desperate to perform," Martinez said.

Unlike the game against Japan, Martinez said, Belgium will be the underdog Friday in the quarter-final in Kazan, and as such, should play with a certain amount of freedom.

"I think it's a game that when you are a little boy, you dream of being involved in a World Cup, facing Brazil in a quarter-final," he said, "so from our point of view we can enjoy from the first second."

Brazil coach Tite dismissed talk that his team is the favourite to win the match against Belgium, let alone the World Cup.

"Everything is open, up for grabs," he said.

The winner will play France or Uruguay in the semifinals in St. Petersburg on Tuesday.

Romelo Lukaku leads Belgium with four goals so far in the tournament. (Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

Belgium is the competition's top scorer with 12 in its four games, with the goals spread around the team. Lukaku has four but seven of his teammates have scored, too.

Though Brazil has yet to hit the heights on the attacking front, it and Uruguay have been the meanest defences in the competition, conceding just one goal apiece in four matches.

There is a worry for Brazil heading into the Belgium match: The team will be without midfielder Casemiro, who is suspended after picking up a second yellow card in the 2-0 win over Mexico in the round of 16. Casemiro has provided a strong shield in front of the Brazilian defence. One option could see Fernandinho come into the side for a role he is accustomed to playing at Manchester City.

As has been the case throughout this World Cup, Brazilian forward Neymar will likely garner much of the attention during the match, both for his skills and speed as well as his on-field theatrics. Neymar will have to be careful not to pick up another booking as he would miss a semifinal should Brazil prevail. Others walking a tightrope are midfielder Philippe Coutinho and defender Filipe Luis.

For Belgium, defender Jan Vertonghen and De Bruyne are carrying yellow cards as well.

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Dufour-Lapointe sisters reveal mother is battling cancer

The Dufour-Lapointe sisters have been hiding a secret for nearly a year — their mother has been battling cancer.

“Last winter, we learned that our mother had cancer and that has affected us whether we wanted it to or not,” Chloe Dufour-Lapointe said Thursday. “It changes your life. It knocks you over.”

The three mogul skiers didn’t want to go into details about the nature of the illness, but said that their mother, 57-year-old Johane Dufour-Lapointe, has been in remission since August.

They didn’t want to use it as a excuse for their disappointing performances on the World Cup circuit this season.

Trying to focus on Olympics

Reigning Olympic champion Justine sits seventh in World Cup standings, while 2014 silver medallist Chloe is 16th and the eldest sister, 28-year-old Maxine, is 37th. With those results, the chances of all three making the Canadian team for the 2018 Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea, are slim.

But they wanted to make it public ahead of a World Cup meet this weekend so they can put it out of their minds going into the Olympics.

“We wanted to share it with people because it weighed on us and we want to go to the Olympics feeling free,” said Chloe, 26. “We feel good now and we’re working hard to get back that fire in the belly.”

“It was also important to talk about it here, at Mont-Tremblant, because we’re at home, in front of our family and friends,” said Maxine Dufour-Lapointe. “We want to make a new start before going to the Games.”

Pearl bracelet provides hope

When they learned their mother was in remission, the sisters gave her a pearl bracelet, because they knew she loved pearls.

Johane Dufour-Lapointe was wearing pearl earrings at the resort on Thursday, telling all who wanted to hear that the support of her husband Yves and her three daughters played a key role in beating the disease.

Justine Dufour-Lapointe said the holiday season was especially emotional.

“We were exactly where we needed to be — together as a family,” she said. “We raised a glass of champagne to our health, that’s for sure.”

Justine said the sisters are ready to display their true colours this weekend.

“Count on it, we’re going to put on a show,” she said.

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Why women battling acute pregnancy nausea suffer in silence

Friday September 08, 2017

Read Story Transcript

Hyperemesis gravidarum (HG), a particularly debilitating form of pregnancy nausea has quietly plagued some women who have suffered in silence.

The condition is widely misunderstood, even by doctors, leaving many women to battle the severe symptoms of nausea in isolation.

‘I could not eat. I lost five or six kilos in the first month of my pregnancy both times.’– Stephanie Nolen

But now high-profile sufferer Kate Middleton has made the condition front page news, prompting women around the world to share their own personal stories.

When journalist Stephanie Nolen battled HG during her two pregnancies, she found herself lying down on the grocery store floor due to the discomfort.

“I was so sick that the only thing that anyone ever said to me that made sense was that I should lie on the floor and yell, ‘I want to die’ for the whole 40 weeks and that might bring me some relief,” she tells The Current’s host Piya Chattopadhyay.

What makes it difficult suffering from HG is symptoms are downplayed because people tend to just see it as general morning sickness, says Nolen. 

si-kate-middleton-pregnant-ap-04469361

Journalist Stephanie Nolen says after battling HG during two pregnancies, she feels a great amount of empathy for Kate Middleton, who also suffers from the condition and is expecting a third child. (Associated Press)

“People say, ‘Oh, yes, I had that too. That’s awful. You should try ginger ale and a cracker. And the problem is that you are so profoundly nauseated all the time,” Nolen explains. 

“They just don’t really understand that this is a whole other thing which I get because until it happened to me, I didn’t get it either.”

Nolen says during her pregnancies, she had to be in a dark room and remain completely still to deal with the discomfort.

“I could not eat. I lost five or six kilos in the first month of my pregnancy both times.”

If vomiting leads to hospitalization because of dehydration, Nolen says people might take HG more seriously, but in her experience doctors just viewed her condition as a bad case of morning sickness.

“The drug I was given was the same drug my own mother was given when she was pregnant with me. So that tells you how much of a priority this is for the pharmaceutical research … it didn’t work for me,” Nolen tells Chattopadhyay.

During her second pregnancy however, she did take an anti-nausea drug used by chemotherapy patients that did help.

Haley Shewciw

Haley Shewciw of Edmonton suffered from hyperemesis gravidarum while pregnant with her son Ben, who’s now four-years-old. (Submitted by Haley Shewciw )

Many women often say they didn’t get the medical help they felt they needed for HG — even in Canada.

Haley Shewciw says in her case the medical community had trouble understanding her condition.

“I had to be ambulanced to the hospital, like I could not make myself go from the bed to the car without throwing up the entire time,” Shewciw explains.

“I think at the time they never had a case so severe as mine so for them it was … just morning sickness and it will pass, and you will be fine. Everyone wanted to try to help but nobody truly knew how I was feeling.”

doctor examining her pregnant patient

According to Caitlin Dean of the UK charity Pregnancy Sickness Support, hyperemesis gravidarum can be so severe that some women will terminate pregnancies if they don’t get the help they need. (Shutterstock)

About 50 to 80 per cent of women get some degree of nausea/vomiting in their first trimester, and for the majority of those women, symptoms subside or disappear.

But for roughly one or two per cent of women in Canada, their first trimester is dominated by extreme nausea and vomiting which is hyperemesis gravidarum.  

Dr. Ellen Giesbrecht says part of the difficulty for the medical community to diagnose hyperemesis gravidarum, and help women who suffer from it, is because the condition has been normalized and so no one says anything.

“Nausea and vomiting which is so common through pregnancy is normal. And women often don’t realize that their own form when they have hyperemesis is the severe form,” Dr.  Giesbrecht explains.

In the medical community, Dr. Giesbrecht says, there’s a fear of treating pregnancy with any medication unless the patient is very ill.

The long-term impacts of a pregnancy with HG can affect a woman emotionally and financially because she’s not able to work, but it can also affect the family, she tells Chattopadhyay.

“We do know that [HG] actually has a fairly high incidence of recurrence in the next pregnancy. And it really does impact women’s choice to become pregnant again.”

Listen to the full segment near the top of this web post.

This segment was produced by CBC Halifax network producer, Mary-Catherine McIntosh and Vancouver network producer Anne Penman.

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