When I finished tutoring at the end of Winter term, I said to the student i was working with “You know this stuff now. Implement it — make it happen”. The guy I was tutoring had a lot of really good, creative reflections on the course content of Issues in Health. He knew the content. He knew how to implement the content. Now it was beyond ‘course content’ and had become ‘choice’, and was in his hands.

I am the first to admit that knowing it is the easy part. Doing it, on the other hand, is another story. Some more than others, but we all are aware, to some degree, of which activities/behaviours promote our health, and which behaviours are detrimental to our health. I’ve said it before, that I spend all day (and sometimes night) long some semesters learning about health and wellness. Today, for example, though not the most wellness-promoting, I wrote an anatomy exam, wrote a lab quiz, then came home and ate Sweet Chili Heat Doritos while on Skype for hours.  Still, I am in the same environment as I was the past two terms, but the content around me has changed and thus my behaviour has changed. February and March, for example, I spent tons of afternoons in the gym for class, plus regular exercise outside of class. Last May I was in a physical-activity oriented class.  Each hill and valley in the below graph I have either an understanding of why I was successful, or an excuse for why my numbers [kilometers] are lower:

Dailymile graph.png

I think often that my last year seems to have been in two parts: Before Promotion and Adherence and After Promotion and Adherence, with a transition period in between when the course was occurring. The transition period was like my intervention. I was surrounded by Good Things two days a week, by words and motivation and people who were fighting the same battles as I was: the balance of school, work and maintaining a specific level of physical activity. Some also with the additional mixer of unpredictable chronic disease affecting their routines.

This said, my environment on the whole did not change. I was still surrounded by the same people with the same goals [or a different array of the same people with the same priorities] but it wasn’t freely discussed. We weren’t bouncing ideas off each other all the time, like the discussions about reading textbooks on the stationary bike, or having accountability partners, or eating five bowls of cereal a night [that happened. Not to me, but to people in my class. So good.]

It is not about that that class is done. it is not about my asthma sidelining me for over two weeks. It is not about the anatomy midterm sucking the proverbial life out of me.

It’s about me. It’s about my choices. It’s about me finding ways to continue that process that started nine months ago and do what i am capable of, and then some.

It’s about getting back into it.

I know it. I know what I should be doing and I know how to do it. Now I just have to implement it.

Make it happen.

note: there is some crazy thing going on with my tags. i’ve got tech support and my friend Mike on it :].

First, there will be more road trip pictures eventually. But because I do things non-sequentially, we’re gonna roll on.

The mirror mantra for this week [because, dang it, I forgot to leave a mantra for the housekeeping staff in Watrous, SK last Monday]:


The above mirror mantra may have to be a permanent addition to my bathroom, unless my mom gets rid of it like she has some other ones after a few weeks [she actually is responding rather positively to the mantras. Win!]. Once again, thanks to Jay for that piece of focus, and Dia for being my teammate in the crazy journey of asthma, perspective, #kinwin and keeping me accountable to it all.

Today is World Asthma Day.


[Good picture there, right? #sarcasm. You get the deodorant and the ID bracelet and some med boxes.

Also the intended World Asthma Day tree tee I designed a couple years ago.]

My Facebook status, Facebook page status and earlier tweets today have been variations on this same theme:


Okay, so I can’t go down on my own encouragement to kick ass and get active. Because “k-i-c-k-a-s-s, that’s the way we spell success”! [Thank you Giant by Matthew Good].

Really, the only ass I am kicking, or plan to kick, is my asthma’s [and my own].  I am pretty sure I picked something up on the road and am getting sick, because the three day mild sore throat has gone but turned into some increased sinus issues, dyspnea and coughing. Obviously the asthma finds the need to make itself known on World Asthma Day.

So what do I do? Well, my lungs feel like shit anyway, so might as well go take some meds and do a breathing treatment and give the neb an “eff you, asthma” finger for some perspective, strap the Garmin on it and ride that new bike, right?


If the right answer today was to sit around because of the asthma . . . I’d rather be wrong. [The professionals would say I’m wrong. I’m not practicing what I preach either]. Come on, what is more appropriate than riding the bike called INSPIRE on World Asthma Day with the mantra of Being Intentional? Answer: not a lot.

So . . . I was intentional at kicking my own ass. Good enough, right? Also why is it not possible to not look like a total dork when protecting my brain? [The other part of my helmet is pink with flowers, but of course you can’t see the awesome half, right?].


Representing for the Asthma Society of Canada.

So I got out there for my first bike ride in . . . years. [I am not very good at riding straight again yet. I can’t do sharp turns. Also when I met up with a lady with a stroller on the sidewalk I totally just pushed my bike along so as to not, you know, ride into them.]

Was it coughtastic and breathless? Yep. Will I pay for it later? Probably. Am I exhausted? Totally. Do I wanna go out there again? You bet.

Was it worth it? You know it.


World Asthma Day or not, “We breathe it in, the highs and lows.” [Needle and Haystack Life, Switchfoot].

The goal? Do Good Things. Make a person or two think differently. Kick my own ass. And keep on doing it. And the disease? Kick it even harder.

Having chronic disease isn’t a choice. Perspective? It is. What I’m going to continue in regard to the asthma. I’ve made those choices:

Owning it. Being intentional.

Last week I had a really awesome track workout.  Because of the awesomeness both Sam and I experienced, we decided to go back this morning before class.  Now, to be perfectly honest, because I’m in the gym at least one class a week, my exercise train has not derailed as much as it could have potentially during midterm madness [three exams in less than 36 hours is not fun], so Movement Ed, I am grateful for you, as am I for having a job where i can play around in the gym . . . and get paid for it [noodle hockey anybody?].

So this morning, I told my Twitter friends to have an intentional day, and went to school two and a half hours before my class started, and got the exercise train back on the literal track. And despite my breathing not being fantastic (mornings sometimes a little rough), I was determined to make the most of it and try to go kick my own ass out there.  Because “K-I-C-K-A-S-S, that’s the way we spell success.” (–Giant, Matthew Good).

Today’s workout? It was hard. I left it feeling more exhausted than energized, and basically forced myself around the track for 45 minutes. I was TRYING. I was trying to be like “Yeah! This is awesome!”. Except it wasn’t.  My cousin Dean was there too, along with Sam and I, and the kid just effortlessly basically runs straight out for half an hour (It blows my mind that people can still breathe when they do that, and then I remember that only 10% of us have screwed up lungs. And 50%~ of that 10% of us with asthma do not exercise. In Canada, that amounts to 1.5 million people.  And now I have gone and scared myself with statistics about exercise engagement and asthma and want to go change the world.

And you know why half of asthmatics probably don’t exercise?  The conclusion I came to on the track today while slogging through 5K:

A thing I hate about asthma? I feel like I can never have a consistent workout because there are about 8000 variables at play.

First it’s dependent on how I feel when I wake up. If I’m a little tight, or feeling a little “off”, I’ll still work out.  if it’s anything more than that, I’ll push it off till the middle of the day or evening, or defer it until the next day. How I feel when I wake up in the morning though is also dependent on about a million things: my environment, the weather, the season and my own body.  Identifiable variables today perhaps contributing to the not breathing my best: it snowed late this morning, hormones and a basically empty inhaler of Atrovent.  So ALL of these things contributed to both how I felt when I woke up, AND how I felt during my workout. During the workout? That’s dependent on how my warm-up goes, how I FEEL about how my warm-up went [if it sucked, I’m less apt to push myself harder], the air quality in the locker room or gym [ex. intense fragrance, how dry the gym air is, etc].  And of course, the stuff I put into my body. So, food, water, and medicine.  See the above point about the dead Atrovent, maybe didn’t give the Ventolin enough time to kick in, note that I didn’t eat before my workout, and realize that I forgot my water bottle in my locker? Less than perfect lungs, little fuel stores and probably some dehydration at play.  So consistency? Not going to happen. That changes day to day.  Once again, I’m sure most of you with any chronic disease can identify with this.

As I am winding myself around the track at the beginning of a sprint [running is a big deal, people. I used to only be able to do a quarter of the track, now I can do a whole lap with a long walking break between], and I’m fighting my lungs, fighting my legs, fighting my brain. Focusing on the breathing, focusing on ignoring the legs, focusing on telling my brain that it is the thing that wants me to BE INTENTIONAL about my choices.  And fighting to let the zen that should be running take over.

The realization comes at this point.

If you don’t push through the shit, you don’t grow.

I run.  I don’t run fast, I only complete that one lap, but . . .

I pushed through the shit.  Like a flower.

Weightless, Nada Surf

About a month ago, my friends and I went wall climbing.  It is an awesome climbing gym, and we’re planning on going again sometime in the near future.  My friend Dan and I are big into incorporating DOING something into our get-togethers.  While eating is doing something, and we usually do that after, we kind of like getting something to be active about before we eat a bunch of food.  So we play ice hockey or ball hockey . . . or go climbing!

(On that note, at about 11:30 every night, my Fitbit tells me to CLIMB IT. And I tell it “Chill, I am going to bed”.)

Climbing is not an activity I am exactly good at [okay, let’s face it: I am the girl with the proficiency barrier. I do not move skillfully in the majority of regards].  But I really enjoy it, and not only is it a really good workout and my lungs are pretty okay with it–I really enjoy the aspect of being able to exercise AND breathe well at the same time, but I think there is a thrill in it and an amazing high associated with it [literally and figuratively] that is very unique–at least that is what I experience [I am pretty high on life in all regards . . . no drugs needed . . . but sometimes I just get REALLY stoked about things!].  Before the climbing event, the last time I climbed was in grade 12 PE, so it was due time I got up there again!  So, not only do I go out of my way to organize these sorts of crazy climbing events, I totally try to climb whenever I get the chance!  [This is probably totally the fault of my friend Steve at Living Vertical, who is climbing every day in 2012–props, dude! He is full of motivating, and he and his wife Stefanie are full of awesome in all they are doing!]

Tonight, our church’s youth event was to tour a new youth centre and try out their activities, such as an indoor skate park, a gym for basketball and volleyball and stuff, video games, and . . . a climbing wall!  So, of course, I was encouraging the girls in the small group I was leading to get up there!  And, of course, leading by example is the way to go, right?

“when you reach the top”


“as you bottom out

but you understand what it’s all about”

–Love Just Is, Hilary Duff


This is how I finish a rappel, apparently.

It. Was. Awesome.

In 2012, Steve Richert and his wife Stefanie will embark on the adventure of a lifetime–three hundred and sixty five days of climbing with a goal of changing people’s perceptions of physical activity and being active with diabetes.  Diagnosed with type one when he was sixteen, I’m blessed to have Steve here today sharing his story of owning his diabetes through changing his perceptions, what he’s doing through climbing to educate and advocate for physical activity as an integral part of diabetes management, and what he’s going to be up to in 2012.


When I woke up in a hospital bed 13 years ago and was told “You have Type 1 diabetes” I had no way of knowing how much it would change my life. Today, this condition I live with has shaped who I am and has caused me to reach greater heights (literally!) than I may have otherwise.

My first reaction to my diagnosis was that I determined to find a way to beat it. I couldn’t stand the idea of being dependent on medicine or hospitals. I wanted to be free—and the fact that the doctors all told me that there was no cure, made me decide that I had to simply find a loophole.

To start with, I decided that I would prioritize my health above everything else. As a 16 year old, that meant explaining my strict diet to other kids in the lunch room and checking my blood sugar before (and during) soccer games, always carrying food in case my sugar dropped low and not getting to treat eating as a recreational activity. Diabetes forces you to redefine your relationship with food—or lose your eyesight, your limbs, your kidneys and circulatory system—so there is a lot at stake!

Fitness became a big part of my life because the insulin injections that I took would work more effectively when I was active—playing sports and working out basically became medicine for me—both to help my body use the insulin I took and also as a means to combat stress. As I grew older and made it through college, the mental aspect of diabetes began to impact me—or at least to the point that I suddenly became aware of it.

Having a chronic illness carries with it some sort of routine that you must adhere to in order to stay well—and while this monotony can allow you a measure of success in dealing with the disease, it causes you to become tired mentally. Depressed. Bored. Hopeless.

I was staying healthy by just eating well and going to the gym, but I knew that I needed to escape the routine if I was going to progress—and that is when I found climbing. I had tried climbing when I was in high school as part of a Phys Ed unit. It initially appealed to me but I didn’t really know how to get into it. So I let it be. Once I revisited the sport after college, it became both a physical activity and mental stimulant. Climbing became my means to explore the world outside my comfort zone: my gateway to the unknown.

I followed the path that my passion led me down and I began learning how to teach others to climb and in 2009 I began working as a climbing guide. I get great enjoyment from being able to teach people to climb and showing them that they CAN do it. Taking something that seems impossible and making it possible is the magic of climbing. Some of the richest experiences I have had climbing have come from situations that held an unknown—that became a success only after the fact.

When I tell people what I do to stay healthy, they frequently smile and shake their head: “That’s fine for you, but I can’t do enough pull ups” or “I am terrified of heights—I could never do that”. Those are the people that I MOST want to take climbing, because turning that can’t into just did is a life-changing experience—and I want others to experience the power of the natural world like I have—through challenging themselves!

Recently, this exact initiative has been my focus. I decided that since I can’t bring people to the mountains, I can bring the mountains to the people—through film. Starting on January 1st 2012, my wife Stefanie and I will begin 365 days of climbing across North America, which we will be filming to make an in depth adventure documentary that will bring you into the high and wild places that we will be climbing! We are selling all of our possessions that won’t fit into our little red hatchback and setting off on a grand adventure. We want everyone to follow along. We will be blogging at www.livingvertical.org where you can keep up with our adventures and support our film if you would like to be part of what we are doing.

My goal at 16 was to overcome diabetes. 13 years later, I still have to take insulin injections 5-10 times daily. I still have to stick my finger 4-6 times a day. There still is no cure. But diabetes has forced me to problem solve, forced me to raise the bar and step up and out of my comfort zone and given me life experience that a pharmaceutical cure would have stolen from me! I consider myself blessed to have the opportunity to take on this challenge and I look forward to sharing my successes, struggles, failures and mountain-top experiences with you all during 2012!

Steve is the founder of Living Vertical as well as a climbing instructor.  In 2012, he and his wife Stefanie will be picking up their lives and heading out on the road to spend the year climbing and spreading the message that yes, you CAN do this!  LivingVertical is a non-profit organization that uses climbing and organic nutrition to empower and improve the lives of people living with type 1 diabetes.  To help Steve and Stefaine reach their goal, please consider donating to their project here (all kinds of cool incentives, too!), or contributing through donations of supplies they may need along the way, specifically climbing equipment, snacks and OneTouch blood glucose test strips–gotta keep our friends safe and healthy on the road!

As Steve’s mantra says . . . “Why wait for the ‘cure’?”  What are YOU doing to stay active and healthy with chronic disease and own it — not tomorrow, not next week, but today? Want to share your story?  E-mail me and join the journey.