vancouver bc

Our invisible cages: Why cultural isolation is ruining our health

lone treeYou know when you read something profound and it sort of clicks, then you come across several other timely articles and examples and you think, “That’s it. This makes total sense! But now what can I do about it to help?”

Last night I came across this article about the opioid crisis we’re experiencing in BC at the moment. Author Andrew MacLeod examines the many complex factors that contribute to deaths due to opioid addiction amongst middle age men and women, including broken marriages, guilt, shame, past abuse, high housing costs, debt, poverty, mental illness and the weakening of social support groups like churches and service clubs. But the overarching reason for addiction, MacLeod argues (citing retired Simon Fraser University psychology professor, Bruce Alexander), is cultural isolation. “When I talk to addicted people, whether they are addicted to alcohol, drugs, gambling, Internet use, sex, or anything else, I encounter human beings who really do not have a viable social or cultural life. They use their addictions as a way of coping with their dislocation: as an escape, a pain killer, or a kind of substitute for a full life. More and more psychologists and psychiatrists are reporting similar observations. Maybe our fragmented, mobile, ever-changing modern society has produced social and cultural isolation in very large numbers of people, even though their cages are invisible!’

Social and cultural isolation aren’t just catalysts for substance abuse. I feel it’s at the very heart of what’s breaking down our society as a whole right now, even though we have access to more information and knowledge than ever before. You think we’d be so enlightened by now, right? (more…)

From couch to 5K: A weight-loss and run-love success story

Today I’d like to share the inspiring story of one of my clients, Ximena, who I’ve been providing online coaching services to since January of this year. She’s gone from nights at home on the couch seven days a week to strength training, yoga and running most days of the week, plus preparing healthy meals for her and her family. And this past weekend, she ran her first ever race – the Terry Fox 5 km in Vancouver. Her enthusiasm, determination and positive attitude is so inspiring, so I asked her to share her story on my blog. Here’s Ximena’s story, in her own words:  

terry fox run

Ximena at the Terry Fox 5K run in Vancouver this past weekend

I’m a 36-year-old mother of two girls. In late 2014, I was introduced to a wonderful lady who shared with me that she used to be as “big” as me (not in those exact words, but close) and that she had slowly started running to the point where she now runs marathons. I thought to myself, “If she can do it, maybe I can, too!” Looking at her current Barbie-doll waist was for sure a motivator. I had reached a stage in my life where I was thinking to myself, “Why bother trying to lose weight and get fit? Once your figure is gone it’s impossible to get it back…” Well, I can tell you now that is NOT TRUE!

This wonderful lady introduced me to Bri and the unbelievable journey began early this year. Slow and easy (but not painlessly… 10 squats can really burn if you are in the shape I was in). The initial goal was never to run a race, but rather to enjoy being off of the coach and as healthy as possible (the weight loss was just the icing on the cake!).

I started by walking for 20 minutes three times a week, and doing yoga and strength training at home two to three times a week. A funny thing happens when you start strength training: with each passing week you notice that your body feels better and stronger, you start to notice and feel muscles that weren’t “there” before, and people start complimenting you on how good you look. (more…)

#FitFashion Friday Feature: West coast winter workout gear essentials

wcwwgeLiving on an island off the west coast of beautiful British Columbia definitely has its perks. The ocean surrounds us, the wilderness here is beautiful, there are plenty of places to explore for hours on end without seeing another human being, and the weather here is never too extreme. That means year-round outdoor adventures and not having to spend the winter cooped up in a gym to stay fit and healthy.

Even though we hardly get any snow here at sea level and the temperature rarely drops below -1°C, outdoor enthusiasts still have to consider the elements when exercising outside during the winter months. Here are a few key pieces of apparel us northern west-coasters should add to our workout wardrobe for winter: (more…)

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