Today I’d like to give our Wellness section some love, as well as mention a few resources we’ve both enjoyed following over the past five+ years or so.
For about the same amount of time, we’ve researched, experimented and practiced various food and lifestyle self-led 'programs' such as a 6-week plan for getting off chips (or... insert your junk food of choice); vegetarianism; the dairy-free diet; raw food; fasting; yoga and weights.
Growing up, there really wasn’t much thought about what we ate (ah, those were the days), well, outside of meal times that is. Although Mom always put healthy & vibrant dishes on the dinner table, the huge lollipops from Woolco, wagon wheels, pretzels and iced tea were staples of what we ate and drank in between times.
Although by looking at us you might say we lucked out growing up on the slim side (thanks to Dad’s metabolism…) that really ends up not being the least bit relevant if the choice of food going into your body is garbage.
One of the realizations I’ve made when it comes to changes to personal routines and habits with food is that, regardless of body size, if any changes are needed, because change of any kind requires mental stamina, I believe it’s just as difficult for a thin person who eats junk food to make the ‘health-conscious mindset” a major theme in their lives as it is for someone to make changes for weight-loss purposes. My two cents is that it really comes down to will power in the kitchen.
During a visit to the island one summer, my Mom held a small wedding ceremony at her house for a friend. Turned out it was a raw food wedding, and at first I thought that meant raw everything, including meat, etc.
I soon learned a raw foodist is someone who eats only living fruits and vegetables and, looking back, it was really something to see a table heaping with the most colourful, beautiful and delicious-looking food you’ve ever seen.
It was a lovely and unique experience. Already being vegetarians, it prompted further interest into the subject of health and the whole discussion about how food reflects lifestyle.
By the end of that trip my mind was made up – that when I got back to Calgary I’d be zeroing in on what the raw food lifestyle was all about and determining how realistic it would be for me to adopt that way of eating.
Having just mingled with people who lived their lives that way, I was super inspired to explore what would be involved in making some changes. As it happened, we both ended up trying the raw food lifestyle for the four months. We enjoyed it and learned a lot, as well as noticed some interesting, appealing changes. However, as the months on this new diet were the four leading up to Christmas, come the holidays the inevitable happened and with two whole weeks eating whatever I wanted again, I didn’t go back to a raw-food-only diet after the holidays.
I do put a lot of weight on what the experience gave me though. I regard it as yet another example of a true effort in the name of health, and one I can draw from to inspire me to keep going or try something new.
That was the beginning of what is still a huge research session on health. During that time three individuals really stand out in my mind when it comes to guru-level advice and trustworthiness. I immediately think of these people when I want to kick start my healthy food patterns: Markus Rothkranz (Las Vegas), Dan MacDonald (the Life Regenerator, Hawaii), and Malcolm Saunders (The Light Cellar, Calgary).
At first glance, Markus Rothkranz, although slightly on the cheesy side (sorry Markus) is extremely inspiring when you find out his age. In his 50's, he is a vision of health, and encourages us all, as much as possible, to find and eat the edible plants relative to where we live. I have yet to research edible plants in Calgary, but have always thought that would be cool to go on a walk and gather snacks for that night’s Bachelorette episode. I am proud to say I do know how to gorge on rose hips found on the paths up here in early September! (They’re quite a nice little hors d’oeuvre before breakfast). And an idea Lea Komaromi from our education section wrote about is a plant called Yellow Salsify, also known as Goat’s Beard, which apparently almost the whole plant can be eaten. We certainly have no shortage of green space on the ridge to explore for plant food we could find that can help make it fun to keep healthy. (Hopefully there will still be lots of foraging areas after the Trinity development is complete.)
The next person we found was “The Life Regenerator”, Dan MacDonald. When I first found Dan he was making videos out of his trailer about juicing. His laid back personality, humour and in-depth conversations (which usually end up being uplifting and enlightening 20 – 30 minute tangents about all sorts of subjects) are what keep me coming back to him for inspiration when I need it.
Last but not least, one day when researching the benefits of pure spring water we can source in areas around Calgary, I stumbled across a guy named Malcolm Saunders, who as luck would have it is the owner of The Light Cellar. I was excited to find out his little shop was just down the hill from us in Bowness. Although I haven’t visited for a while, it appears his shop isn't so little anymore. His store and online presence has grown A LOT in a short amount of time as a result of his consistent activity in the wellness scene and his effort to bring his knowledge to Calgarians (and us Cougarians…)
All of these guys obviously devote their lives to good health and sharing everything with us that they’ve learned on their own journeys. Yes, they have their offerings of goods and services for sale, but the vast amounts of free content they make available is nothing short of amazing and I would not hesitate to support them with my dollars (On a part-time teacher salary I’ve just had to be a little low-key in the $ area is all).
These admirable people continue to deliver usable and realistic information that helps inspire me to keep going. (Markus also offers a free ebook called “Heal Yourself 101” which I did download and read and I enjoyed it as a great place to start when first delving into this whole other world of health I hadn’t previously known existed.)
Healthy eating for me has always been a bumpy road after trying to ‘unlearn’ everything I was taught was healthy growing up. Health and appearance is such a personal thing, and unfortunately the difficult part about sticking with healthy changes is how time-consuming it is to determine what our secret formula for success will be. Slowly but surely though, enough healthy habits do stick over time, so when I find myself wandering off into the chip isle again, it's a little easier each time to exercise a little more strength.
I do have two beliefs that have stayed with me after all this time that are kind of go-to reflex thoughts that have helped me : (i) the old cliché is true when it comes to food and health – nothing in excess, everything in moderation, and (ii) it all starts in the kitchen. I believe the only way exercise will make the difference we want to see in our bodies is if we get creative in finding ways to keep our goals at the forefront, and combine that with standing up to Jimmy Junk Food. (The Bonnie Ware quote to the right also has a way of keeping things real...)
Of course starting to be more active any old time (even if still in an unhealthy food rut) is to be totally applauded, even if it doesn’t bring about visible changes. The would be the other main take away I've had on the road to a healthier lifestyle: everything we do in that regard counts A LOT when it comes to adding up everything we keep personally doing to make health a priority in our lives. Thinking of baby steps as just as important as huge leaps, can go along way in terms of feeling like we can stick with it, as opposed to feeling overwhelmed by the times we feel we've failed and then feed the defeated feeling with empty sweet nothings.
Well, this post was way longer than I thought it would be, so thanks for your interest in yet another introductory post to another one of our blog categories!
Watch for health and wellness-conscious articles ongoingly in this Wellness section, and/or start a comment thread on some of your own tried and true tips that work for you. You never know, you may inspire even one person and become the reason they changed their life around for the better.