We asked New Westers: What’s your prescription for living well?
Earlier this month, the NewsLeader asked some people in New Westminster their philosophy and ideas around living healthy and living well. Here are some of the responses we received:
Despite the hills New West is still walkable and my favourite way to get around the city. Augment that walking with a bus up a hill here or there and you have a great exercise regimen that will help you stay slim, feel better and live longer. You’ll save money too!
Here are my top two tips:
1. Get a dog – it will force you to walk each day and nothing shakes the day’s “nonsense” like the happy greeting your dog gives you when you walk through the door!
2. Learn to laugh at yourself – it will give you perspective.
—Lisa Spitale, Chief Planner, City of New Westminster
When it comes to healthy living I am the last person to give advice but I can say that laughing and smiling all the time is a great way to well being!
—Tej Kainth, Tourism New Westminster
Healthy living is not about denying one treats or fun times. Chocolate, beer, wine, decadent desserts, rich food, laziness are part of what make life fun. Nothing is taboo. It’s about balance.
Walk kids to school, get a dog and take the bus. I am not a sporty person but via these three things I get at least an hour of exercise every day, and sometimes more. Structuring your lifestyle to include regular movement is easier to stick with long-term and each little choice adds up: stand instead of sit, take stairs instead of the elevator, walk instead of drive, cook at home instead of eating out.
Between kids and work, it always seems hard to find time to exercise. I incorporate exercise into my commute by biking to work. My ride is 20km one way and I don’t have the time (or capacity!) to bike 40km per day, so I break up the rides by riding one way a day and taking the SkyTrain the other direction. My SkyTrain commute is usually about 40 minutes. When I ride, it’s just over an hour. So, for an extra 25 minutes per day, I’ve added solid exercise into my routine.
—Yvette Van Dop
Oh I wish I could say I run marathons, go to the gym three times a week, meditate and eat bran muffins made from scratch with gluten-free flour. But I don’t. But no matter the weather, I never miss my 5:30-6:30 a.m. brisk walk on weekday mornings with my happy-go lucky Labrador, Ebi Sushi. Fresh air and a little quiet time to think before the day goes crazy on me seems to do the trick!
—Catherine Ouellet-Martin, Fraser River Discovery Centre
Cycling. A few years ago, after back surgery ended my soccer playing days, I found cycling a perfect substitute. Next thing I knew I was cycling 20K to work in Vancouver and back. Last year I bought a “road bike” and got into doing “Gran Fondos” (“Big Rides”) with old and new friends. My son Kristian told me of a new saying in the marketing world: “Cycling is the new golf.” True enough. For me, cycling is a very rewarding physical and social experience. There are no green fees, but, also like golf, the sky’s the limit on fancy gear.
For me, health and well-being are both supported by personal activities and aspects of my work as MLA. On the personal level, spending time with family is a source of great pleasure. My physical health is helped by walks along the Quay boardwalk, Pier Park and shopping at Royal City Farmers Market for vegetables and fruit. I also spend time with friends at a book club and this means taking time to read and relax. People, whether family or neighbours, are central to my sense of well-being.
—Dawn Black, MLA
We try to eat at home most meals, avoiding processed foods and fatty foods. My crock pot is my saving grace, as often we’re running from work to a sport event for the kids or some sort of activity. To come home to that smell and dinner is awesome! I make a weekly menu so I know what I’m cooking, and it’s easier for shopping and keeping a budget instead of just grabbing stuff in a rush and wondering what to do with it. Our new year’s resolution is to eat together at the table more.
These days I’m scheduling myself to be at the Canada Games Pool early mornings three times a week. I have lots of time, I make it a spa day with the hot tub and/or sauna as well. The regulars in the ‘slow lane’ are very pleasant, but I miss my laughter therapy buddy who moved to Montreal last summer.
Quite simply my motto in life is to do unto others as you would have them do unto to you. I also add a little saying my Grandmother used to pass my way when she was alive and that was always “to look your best, be your best - each and every day, because you are only ever going to see it once.”
Eat small portions if food balanced with vegetables and fruit. Exercise your mind through art and literature. Spend time outdoors.
—Chuck Puchmayr, city councillor
I would say the best advice for healthy living is ‘Be Patient. Be Happy.’ I think these two are harder than those who make losing weight or quitting smoking their goals—but worth the end result.
Build activity into your daily life and don’t marginalize it to the edges. Make activity part of things you have to do every day and not just spare-time embellishment (who’s got spare time?). For those of us with desk jobs this is best done by walking or cycling to work, recreation, school, shopping, etc. Or walking/cycling to transit if you have farther to travel.
My dog and I go walking four times a day, sometimes short walks, sometimes long. Instead of paying my bills by cheque in the mail, the dog and I walk to the bank. He gets treats there and I get exercise. I look on the funny side of life, even at my own expense.
One thing we do as a family is make sure we set aside time for dinner with our friends and family. This is tough with a busy schedule but you can’t overemphasize the importance of healthy eating and the benefits of intergenerational conversations. I also try to be active four or five times a week by going to the gym, swimming or playing ice hockey. We read with our kids a lot to develop habits that will help them become informed and engaged citizens, and settling in with a good book is one of the best ways to relax and recharge.
Everyone — including very successful people — makes mistakes. One key to success is to “continue to try” within the boundaries you’re given and to reach through them to learn from those mistakes and keep moving. Sometimes you need to give a little, other times get a little, and mostly you must do something you love. Give yourself self-compassion and an emotional, physical or geographical break that allows you to accept “failure is an option and it’s okay to try again.” We’re already on our paths to happiness, but some are transfixed on an outcome rather than enjoying the journey.
I met my dietician eight years ago this month (I was 34, pre-diabetic and weighed 367 lbs). I made changes slowly, and only lost 30 lbs in the first eight months, but started enjoying my new diet, exercise and the freedom of feeling more comfortable. It felt good and changes came easier. Within a year I’d lost 70 lbs but I didn’t care—I felt so much better. By summer of 2006 my health problems were gone, I loved the freedom of being able to move and a healthy diet.
Yeah, I’d lost 150 lbs, but whenever someone was shocked, amazed or focused on the weight loss I said: “The weight loss is just a side effect, I’ve gained so much more in my health and life!”
I’ve made physical activity a normal part of my daily life, not something that I have to do and that can be avoided. I started by walking the dog every day, then moved to bigger walks instead of riding the bus, started carrying things home, learned how to stretch and gain muscle, bought a bike and within a year biking was my primary means of transportation. It’s not a workout now, it’s just what I do.
“Talk” in person, on the phone or via email to at least three people every day. It’s a surefire method to avoid the winter gloomies as well as promote emotional wellness.
One health mistake I made, for a very long time, was not resting. It actually makes you less productive when you don’t make that time a priority. I try to take a time, even just a morning, to unplug. Going for a walk along the Quay, or just having a “power nap” makes all the difference. It helps me to stop, reflect and get perspective of what I’m doing again.
—Hector D. Bremner, BC Liberal candidate for MLA
On the cusp of a milestone birthday and just after the lost of my mother to a brain tumour, my six year old daughter boldly announced at dinner, “Daddy do you think you should have another helping, you’re getting chubby,” I recall putting down my fork and making a commitment to regaining control of my life. I joined Weight Watchers, started running, soon lost 70 pounds and ran the Boston Marathon. My health suggestion is to take charge of your life, before life throws you a curve ball, through exercise, a balanced diet and acting upon written goals.
—Jason Haight, Manager of Business Operations, City of New Westminster
If you’ve set a fitness goal for 2013, just showing up is 90 per cent of the solution. Don’t worry about doing the moves perfectly in a new fitness or yoga class. Just show up. Give it honest effort, and regardless of how imperfectly you feel you execute, you will begin experiencing the benefits of health and fitness.”
—Ellen Chesney, Fitness Instructor, Fitness New West
The solution to most health problems end with the words: ‘…and get regular exercise’. It just makes sense to get the exercise and avoid the health problems altogether.
—Brian Earle, Fitness Instructor, Fitness New West
Being active every day is not an option. Consider it your prescription for health and longevity. Embrace it, find joy in it, and get in the habit of asking yourself “how should I sweat today?”, not “should I sweat today.”
—Lisa Mandel, Fitness Instructor, Fitness New West
My advice would be to start slowly, be patient and consistent. Being active is a lifestyle change; there’s no hurry or deadline or place to get to. Pretty soon it will be part of your routine and you will love coming to class because you feel so much better overall.
—Lori Dalin, Physiotherapist and Fitness Instructor, Fitness New West
Regular physical activity may not add years to your life but it will add life to your years!
—David Creighton, Manager Fitness New West
Be consistent with fitness - it is the same as brushing your teeth every morning!
—Brenda Rathjen, Fitness Instructor, Fitness New West
Move! It doesn’t matter what activity you choose – just be active! There are so many options in New Westminster to be active – walk, run, cycle, swim, take a class or workout at a gym – it doesn’t matter what you choose just be consistent, patient, and enjoy it!
—Sandy Earle, Active Communities Programmer, Fitness New West