The Skinny On The Social
Education and Advocacy The ladies of CTV’s The Social open up for a uniquely candid Q&A on motherhood, sex, and putting yourself first this holiday season.
Mediaplanet: For years you have been a fixture of Canada’s entertainment industry. How have you been able to strike a balance between your family life and your career?
Traci Melchor: I’m fond of saying there is no such thing as balance when it comes to being a single mom of twins Phoenix and Phoebe, hosting on two TV shows — CTV’s The Social and ETALK, trying to have a life, and making sure to connect with friends and family; I call my life a juggling act. I’m a big believer in compartmentalizing — doing one thing at a time and doing it to the best of my abilities. I’m constantly telling myself to stay in the moment and be present. This way when I’m at work, I can focus on writing, hosting, interviews, and our audience. And when I’m at the rink being a hockey mom with Phoenix, or at the gym as a ‘cheer mom’ with Phoebe, I really try to focus on my children and not look at my phone (Not always perfect, but I’m a work in progress).
MP: The holiday season comes with its fair share of stresses. How do you manage to find the time to put your own wellness first?
TM: The holiday season is full of end-of-the-year productions at work, Christmas parties and events for me and the twins and trying to make my lists, check them twice, and then go shopping. The Social recently had a clinical psychologist on — Gina Di Giulio — and I asked her, “How do I deal with stress when I feel like I’m being pulled in too many directions?” To which she answered, “Traci, you are stuck in the mind trap of ‘I have to do it all.’ This is actually a very common mind trap held by women, especially very busy or high-achieving ones.”
"Delegate! Ask for help! Sometimes people think that they have to do everything themselves."
Her solution was as follows: Delegate! Ask for help! Sometimes people think that they have to do everything themselves. Ask for help and access your supports whenever possible. You shouldn’t also assume that others know what you need or know that you need some help. It’s also important to be assertive and set limits or boundaries with others.
It’s okay to say no to others and it’s important to do so periodically. It’s also very important to take care of yourself, because if you don’t do so, you are much more likely to feel overwhelmed, burned out, and you can’t be there for others if you don’t help yourself first. It’s like what flight attendants tell you when you fly — put on your oxygen mask before you put one on others; in other words, take care of yourself first or else even those around you will suffer.
With this advice in mind this Christmas season, I will take advantage of shopping mall gift wrapping, some prepared foods, say ‘no’ to some invitations, and remember that it’s okay if “I don’t do it all.” And drink wine.
Mediaplanet: The Social has quickly become a favourite for Canadian women seeking information on everything from mental and sexual health to relationships and aging. What makes the show, and your panel, so unique?
Lainey Lui: The four of us are trying to engage our audience and each other in conversations about our bodies, our minds, our relationships. And those conversations can’t be vanilla — not if you expect them to be candid, revealing, and informative. That’s how we are with each other off-air and that’s what we’re letting our audience see when we go live.
"We wouldn’t be able to create that safe and supportive environment without being able to see the humour in difficult, sometimes uncomfortable, situations. It’s how we relate. Life is already complicated and unpredictable."
It means that we’re willing to talk about the messy side of sex and the awkward parts of our bodies, and be honest about what frustrates us and what motivates us, even if it means that we aren’t likable or even “nice” sometimes. Hey, sometimes we even get loud, shrill, heated. I believe, though, that our audience appreciates our honesty and that we aren’t afraid to disagree, to be vulnerable, to be challenging, but still supportive of each other.
MP: What makes a light-hearted approach so important to sparking honest discussion among women regarding their health?
LL: Because having fun is important. And there’s no reason why we can’t laugh and learn at the same time. We all need to feel safe when we open ourselves up to each other, when we make ourselves vulnerable. We wouldn’t be able to create that safe and supportive environment without being able to see the humour in difficult, sometimes uncomfortable, situations. It’s how we relate. Life is already complicated and unpredictable.
Connecting with other people and establishing meaningful relationships is how we live through that uncertainty. So we build our bond with our audience by asking them to enjoy themselves when they’re watching our show, engaging them while entertaining them in the hopes that we can comfortably share with each other and question each other and experience together. After all, if you can’t joke with someone, why would you possibly want to get real with them?
Mediaplanet: As The Social’s resident healthy sex and relationship expert, what advice do you have for women struggling to communicate their sexual needs with their partner?
Cynthia Loyst: The key is finding your individual sexual “voice”. It doesn’t matter if you’re the chatty type or a bit on the shyer side — there’s a way to communicate erotically that will work for you. You can whisper softly, demand loudly, or speak through your body language, breathing and sounds. And don’t be afraid to get creative: a great form of foreplay is sending text messages or leaving sexy notes describing what you would like.
"I plan to set times to turn off my smartphone, pay attention to my breathing and to be fully aware of the sensations I’m experiencing."
Remember, our partners aren’t psychic, so the more we can guide them towards what we want and enjoy, the more satisfying our sex lives will be.
MP: A new year often comes with a set of health-related resolutions. What are yours and how do you plan to make them a reality?
CL Over the years I’ve often made my resolutions about eating better and working out more. This year I’m tossing those out the window. Why? Because I’ve realized that whether I’m at my fittest or my laziest, when I’m not “present” in my life, I’m not as happy. So this year I’m making my resolution to practice mindfulness.
I plan to set times to turn off my smartphone, pay attention to my breathing and to be fully aware of the sensations I’m experiencing. So whether I’m goofing around with my son, doing yoga, or writing an advice column, I resolve to be more in the moment this coming year.
Mediaplanet: You are outspoken about your and your husband’s lengthy battle with fertility issues. What would you say to Canadian families facing similar setbacks?
Melissa Grelo: Going through the infertility journey with your partner is one of the biggest tests of your relationship. You’re going to learn what each of you is really made of, and, even if you love your partner, you’re going to discover if you actually like him or her — there’s a difference!
My advice to couples is to have a serious discussion about the possibility that you won’t conceive, and if that is the case, ask and answer honestly if you, as a couple, are going to be okay. If you can accept the worst case scenario of not having biological children or are open to alternatives like surrogacy or adoption, your relationship will be stronger for facing these and most other challenges.
"It was two and a half years of fertility struggles, but just two weeks after I started a new work schedule that allowed me to sleep an extra two hours each night, I conceived naturally."
MP: Recently you became the proud mother of your first child. What were the main challenges that you faced on the way and how did you overcome them?
MG: Age may just be a number when it comes to relationships, but it sure means a lot more when you’re a woman trying to conceive. When a fertility doctor told me that although I was 35 years old chronologically, I was about 42 reproductively-speaking, and only had a few years to try to conceive, I cried for days. Yup, my eggs seemed to be depleting faster than the ozone layer. Over time, I learned that the state of my eggs was only part of the picture.
In the end, it was my lifestyle, and specifically chronic lack of sleep, that had turned my body into a very hostile place for someone trying to have a baby. It was two and a half years of fertility struggles, but just two weeks after I started a new work schedule that allowed me to sleep an extra two hours each night, I conceived naturally.