VPNs Increasingly Under Fire

You may have heard about how some people have gotten into trouble for downloading illegal copies of movies and TV shows. This happened because, while they were doing it, their internet address was visible to the copyright holders, who then took action. Essentially, it is like someone going in to rob a bank without covering their face: they’re pretty easy to identify as a result.

However, just as a bank robber can always put a ski mask on, internet users interested in stealing content have a way of disguising themselves. VPNs (or Video Private Networks) are a subscription service that allows users to hide their internet address by offering alternatives, some even in other countries. Thus, let’s say you are in Buffalo, New York and download an episode of GAME OF THRONES. If you are using a VPN at the time, the copyright police acting on HBO’s behalf might actually see an address leading them to Oslo, Norway, Toronto, Ontario, London, England…essentially anywhere but Buffalo.

Subscribers also have the option of choosing the country for their address. Ever try to watch a clip from SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE only to receive a notice saying that it is not available in your country? No problem, just switch your VPN to an American internet address and you will be enjoying Alec Baldwin’s Trump impersonation in no time.

In addition to angering copyright holders, VPNs are thorns in the side of authoritarian countries like China and Russia. Both of those nations have a large list of internet sites they do not want their citizens to see, so people there have been using a VPN to access them. However, that is no longer possible in China and will become illegal in Russia on November 1st.

Have you ever used a VPN to access content? What is your take? Is this a freedom that all internet users should have? Let us know in the comments!

Transgender People in the Military

U.S. President Donald Trump recently announced that transgender people would be banned from serving in the American military in any capacity. This comes as a stark contrast to his earlier statements that he would be a staunch ally for the LGBTQ community.

Of course, Donald Trump lies almost as often as he breathes, so this latest affront seems to be yet another desperate bid to maintain popularity with his base. Trump knows all too well that once that percentage of the Republican voter base deserts him, the party will throw him under the bus and start impeachment proceedings. It’s just a shame that transgender people have been demonized yet again.

The Canadian military has already extended an invitation to American transgender soldiers to come and serve up north. If these individuals would like to serve elsewhere, they actually have a number of options as several other countries allow transgender people to serve.

The Netherlands was the first to change their rules in 1974, followed by Sweden two years later, and Denmark and Norway two years after that. No more countries followed suit until the early ’90s, with Australia and Canada in 1992, and Israel in 1993. The Czech Republic followed their lead in 1999. The UK, France, Germany, Estonia, Finland (all 2000), Belgium (2003), Austria (2004), Spain, Thailand (2005; the latter in administrative positions only), and Bolivia (2010) round out the list to date.

There has already been backlash in the U.S., not to mention the world, to this stupidity. The White House is now saying it has not decided on how to implement the policy change. This leads one to hope that this is just another of Trump’s pathetic distractions and will not come to pass. However, it is important to remain vigilant in the face of such of government-sanctioned discrimination as we have likely not seen the last of it.

Murder In Your Hometown

One of the things I love about Guelph is the safety. While it’s true that the city does have a meth problem, it remains a place where I feel comfortable more often than not. However, I was a bit unsettled to learn that a murder had taken place in Guelph this week.

While unquestionably a tragedy, it is one that we should not blow out of proportion. We are more than halfway through 2017 and this is the first (and hopefully, only) murder of the year.

How one feels about safety is often dictated by where you live. There was a fatal shooting at Guelph General Hospital in 2015 and it captured headlines because that sort of thing just doesn’t happen here. The police in this city almost never draw their guns, let alone fire them. On the rare occasions that they do, they are almost never pointed at human beings.

When I mentioned that to a friend who lives in New York City, he just laughed. While the Big Apple is much safer now than it was, the idea that only one or two people might be murdered there per year seemed like a fairy-tale to him.

Of course, that is the United States and this is Canada. That same friend owns a gun. During a visit, I saw him take something out of a bedroom drawer and there it was. He noticed the look on my face, laughed, and said, “Have you ever held one of these before?” I hadn’t. In fact, I had never even seen a gun up close.

It was a strange feeling to know that I had a friend who owned a handgun. Few people in America would think that way, but I’ll bet many Canadians would be just as spooked as I was. I’m glad I live where I do and try to keep that in mind during those inevitable times when Guelph experiences a tragedy.

By Optionbooter [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Is Coffee Actually Good for You?

Coffee is something everyone talks about and seemingly everyone drinks. Every time I pass by a Tim Horton’s with a line out the door, I wished I owned that location. Many people rely on coffee with the same degree that they need water and food. There was a period when I drank 6-7 cups per day and could hardly get out of bed without one. It became such a monkey on my back, that I eventually quit. I’ve backslid a little, but try to have no more than one caffeinated drink per day.

We all know that caffeine has negative affects upon sleep and is also not good for your heart. However, there are periodic articles stating that, no, caffeine is actually beneficial for the human body. The latest tells of two studies that claim people who drink coffee 2-4 times a day have an 18% lower risk of death than those who did not indulge. The studies were conducted using diverse populations, which can lend credence to the validity of the results thanks to divergent diets and lifestyles. Among the reasons cited for this good health are lower instances of inflammation, healthier lipid profiles, and better glucose control.

It can be very difficult to know what to believe when we hear such studies. I am tempted to give them the benefit of the doubt, but while a plethora of studies yield more information, they also mean more contradictory results. There are also studies where the results have been manipulated to favour interested parties or the people conducting the tests are not above board.

The best answer is to decide what works best for you and monitor how you feel. If you think you would like to try the 2-4 cups of coffee strategy, go for it, but if the added caffeine results in you sitting awake at night, it’s not worth the trade-off for something not proven beyond a shadow of a doubt.

Weight Loss in Middle Age

We all know (all too well) how important fitness is at any stage in life. Excess weight can put a real strain on your heart and make you more susceptible to all manner of diseases, including cancer.

However, the ease with which one can lose weight changes at different stages in life. When you are young, the body has more energy and you can bounce back faster from any injuries or illness. As we age, our muscle density decreases and we feel stiffer and tire out faster.

Life can be more difficult when you are older, but letting your fitness decline will just make things worse. That said, there is no reason you cannot make adjustments to your physical fitness plan in order to reflect the changes your body undergoes with age.

First off, talk to you doctor. The two of you can discuss your fitness and weight loss goals. It is important to include your physician because they will have a good idea of what is suitable for you at this stage in life, based on your current physical state.

At this part of your life, the key is to lose fat. Don’t worry so much about what your scale says. You need to maintain your muscle, so doing so will make it seem like you are gaining weight.

In addition to exercise, be sure to drink plenty of water. Yes, water is important for maintaining proper bodily function, but it can also help you lose weight. As we age, the body has a more difficult time telling the difference between thirst and hunger. Thus, some people end up eating more than they should and that leads to weight gain.

Finally, make sure you have enough lean protein in your diet. Protein is an important component for both muscle growth and repair.

Starting a Hydroponics Garden Indoors

Growing your own food is a satisfying and cost-effective way to eat healthier. But what if you don’t have space for a garden outdoors? An indoor hydroponic garden could be the answer.

Hydroponics is a method of growing plants in an aquatic-based environment instead of in soil. Though the idea of hydroponics has been around for centuries, it has caught on in the past few years as an alternative for gardeners who lack the outdoor space or resources for a traditional garden.

In the old days, hydroponics was the exclusive realm of scientists and horticulturalists. In response to recent trends towards sustainability, companies specializing in hydroponics like Indoor Farmer’s hydroponics shop have sprouted up all over. This allows ordinary people to enter the hydroponics hobby.

Here’s what you need to start a hydroponics garden indoors.

Grow Tray

The grow tray is the structure that holds your plants, growing medium, and reservoir. There are many do it yourself options for building a grow tray, but you can also purchase it from Indoor Farmer’s hydroponics shop or another hydroponics supplier.


To ensure your indoor garden gets enough light, you’ll want to invest in a good set of grow-lights. A full lighting set-up will include LED bulbs or fluorescent tubes, digital ballasts, reflectors, and hangers. Many hydroponic gardeners also used automated timers and lighting controls to make sure the plants get the right amount of light each day.

If you don’t have the time to plan out and select each of these parts, there are many starter kits available as well. Indoor farmer’s hydroponics shop has complete lighting fixtures as well as individual components.


All plants need air and water. To supply your garden with both, you will need an air pump, along with air stones and airline tubing. This also allows you to control and maintain your garden’s nutrient reservoir.

The size and model of pump you need will depend on the size of your garden. Larger gardens will likely require more than one pump. Check out this guide for help selecting a pump for your indoor hydroponics garden.


Unlike traditional gardens, a hydroponics garden indoors does not use soil. Instead, you’ll need a medium or substrate that supports water absorption and drainage. Most beginners start with a substrate of coconut coir or lightweight expanded clay aggregate (LECA.)


Like other gardens, hydroponic gardens do best when you supply the plants with nutrients. There are specialized nutrient solutions designed for hydroponics. You will add this solution to your water reservoir.


The reservoir is the container that holds your nutrient solution and air pump. Make sure you choose a container that holds enough water to support your system.

Essential Nutrients To Have In Your Body

There are many nutrients in our body, and there are a couple that are essential for our body to function.  Essential nutrients are nutrients that your body cannot make up on its own which means you need to intake it.  These nutrients include carbohydrates, fat, minerals, protein, vitamins and water.

Carbohydrates are what gives your body and brain energy.  We need carbs in order for our body to function.  Carbs comes in all different foods including breads and grains.  A common misconception is that there are no carbs in fruits or vegetables.  In fact, a great source of carbs do come from fruits and starchy vegetables.

Another energy source for our bodies is fat.  There are healthy fats and unhealthy fats.  Healthy fats include nuts, fish and avocado, foods rich in omega-3 fats.

Minerals are also an essential nutrient.  Many nutrients we think of like sodium, iron, and calcium are all minerals.  Our body needs sodium to maintain the function of our body’s cells.  We need iron in our body because it carries oxygen throughout our body.  That’s why when someone has an iron deficiency, they’re often tired or have a lack of energy.  To combat iron deficiency, check out the liquid form of iron supplement.  Another important mineral we need is calcium.  Calcium keeps our bones and teeth strong, so we’re able to munch on meats and other hard to chew foods.  It’s important to always intake enough calcium so the bones can properly support your body.

foodOur body also needs protein to function.  Protein helps build and repair our body tissue.  Good foods that have a lot of protein include dairy, eggs, chicken and other low-fat meats.

When we think of nutrients we need, we often think of vitamins.  Vitamins are necessary for a number of different things.  Vitamin C helps provide structure to our blood, bones and ligaments.  Vitamin D helps to equal out the calcium in our bodies.

Last but not least, we have water.  Many people don’t think of water when it comes to essential nutrients.  However, water may be the most important factor.  Without water, our body definitely cannot survive for very long.  Water helps our bodies transport all the nutrients to the cells.  It also help our body get rid of the waste and bacteria from everything we intake.  You should always be aware of how much water you consume.  Most people don’t consume enough.

So there you have it.  A comprehensive list of all the essential nutrients your body needs to survive and be healthy.  Remember, there are many people who suffer from deficiencies of these nutrients.  The most common is lack of iron.  However, there are supplements that you can take to combat these deficiencies.  If you’re not a big fan of supplements, the alternative to iron supplements or other nutrient supplements can be found.  If you’re suffering extreme fatigue, insomnia, or anything else, you may have a deficiency.  Contact your doctor for more information.  Remember, you are the only one who can keep your body at its best.

Reach Your Highest Level Of Health To Reap The Benefits

Hey, Thomas here at The 7th Level.  A little about me.. I’m a personal trainer/nutritionist who started this blog to enhance your diet and exercise experiences.  Whether you feel you’re not at the highest optimal health level or you want to lose some weight, I’ll be here to coach you along the way.


Health should be the most important aspect of your life.  Without good health, you won’t be able to work, play or do much of anything.  It surprises me how little work people put into their own well-being.  People often take advantage of what they have in terms of their health.  However, it can turn around quickly when you least expect it.  That’s why keeping a proper healthy lifestyle is so important.

I’ll be here to guide you through exercise, diets, and much more.  It’s totally fair to be bored when working out or even bored of your meals.  I want to make sure when you’re exercising or eating healthy that you view it as a positive action you enjoy.  Being healthy should be incorporated into your lifestyle the way you want.  That means delicious meals, fun exercises, and the right information.  You can easily turn your life around by putting your health at number one priority.