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I felt a strong pull towards this idea in November 2015. Something was calling me to ask my friends and family, (who also told their friends) to write about their lives, their ups and downs, their goals and dreams, and their insight on health and fitness. 

What makes a woman inspirational? Is it how they express their creative ability? Is it how they have faced battles some of us never will? Or is it because they have come so far to get to this point? All of it and more!

I have some amazing, beautiful, authentic, goal driven friends, and I can't wait to share their stories with you. Everyone needs a push in the right direction and maybe some of these women can help you! I hope so. I know they have helped me.


I met Chanci through my husband! Tod did a couple jobs for her and through their connection Chanci and I became friends. She had me over recently for a Love your Body Night (a fantastic girls night where we made yummy food, ate dark chocolate, and talked about our health). She taught me that there is so much more to health than JUST healthy eating. We need to also focus on our mental, physical, emotional and spiritual health as well. Something I never really thought about before. So thank you Chanci for this new chapter in my life.

Chanci is now a holistic nutritionist who loves helping others.

This is the story of
Chanci Dawn

Pleasure, Passion and Purpose.  

These are the words that I aim to live by and coach others to as well. But it hasn’t always been this way. As I look back at my life I can see how the details have been woven together by God to bring me to this very place I am at now. I was born a planner – do well in school, work hard to earn my teaching degree, get married, have babies and live happily ever after. This is what I had ultimately envisioned for my life and what I strove to attain. However, life had other plans for me, plans that have been more than difficult to go through, but that have been much more adventurous and rewarding in return.  

Up until my early 30s it seemed that life was going on as planned. I was married (although it wasn’t a healthy one), I had 2 kids with another on the way and I was kind of enjoying my profession as a teacher. This is what I had worked so hard for, and I was determined with all I had to enjoy it – after all, isn’t this what I had wanted? 

I would have most likely continued on this path if life hadn’t intervened, but it did, in the most heart wrenching way. One day my infant daughter suddenly woke up from her nap in an eerie, trembling trans-like state. It only lasted a few seconds until she once again fell peacefully asleep. Although it was odd her father and I chalked it up to a nightmarish shutter, an anomaly of sorts, which would hopefully never be repeated. It was a few days until it happened again but when it did there was no denying that something was wrong – she was having seizures. These tremors became frequent - up to 20 a day and she was eventually diagnosed with a brain tumour. I was 5 months pregnant at the time and my marriage was holding on by a mere thread. I honestly don’t remember a lot about the next year but what transpired guaranteed that I would never look at life the same way again. 

Fast-forward 3 years, my daughter was healthy, my marriage had survived the trauma and all seemed well. However, the person who I saw in the mirror was one I hardly recognized. I was depressed, full of anxiety, angry, hurt, confused, addicted to disordered dieting and very, very lost.  And yet, I wore a smile that made people think I was strong, a conqueror or sorts, who was able to withstand massive stress, hold her family together and build a thriving MLM business all at the same time. I grasped on to this identity with a fierce determination, terrified that if I surrendered to my true heart’s desires that my world would come crashing down around me once again and that this time I would not be left with the strength to get up. 

Dr. Lissa Rankin, the author of The Fear Cure writes that 

“Courage is not about being fearless; it’s about letting fear transform you so you come into right relationship with uncertainty, make peace with impermanence, and wake up to who you really are.” 

At this time I was living with a negative relationship with fear, fear gripped the very essence of who I was. I was holding on to everything with such a tight grip that I was losing myself. But then, slowly but surely all that I had feared became a reality and now, looking back, I see so much beauty in it all.

The final exhilarating blow came when my husband decided that our marriage was over.  It was an inevitable conclusion but one that I did not have the strength to make.  At the time I was terrified and angry at him for not trying harder but at the same time excited for the new chapter in my life to begin.  Now, 3 years later, I can look back with gratitude that he made the final call that allowed us both to grow.  Little by little I have been forced to face so many of my fears and along the way I have come to see that fear is not a negative thing at all, but rather, it has helped to transform me into the woman I am today – a woman who I really adore. 

As I look in the mirror now I see a woman who is soft, open and vulnerable. Someone who is learning to embrace her femininity and whose core desire is to live a life of purpose. I love finding pleasure in all things, especially in my kids, food, exercise and business.  In learning how to nourish my soul I have become a lover of self-care.  My journey has lead me to develop a strong passion for nutrition as I have seen first hand how it has helped heal my daughter and nourished my family throughout all of the stress.  As a result I am now a certified Holistic Nutritionist! As a Holistic Nutritionist and life coach I thrive in coaching other women to adore themselves and to create glorious pleasure, passion and purpose in their own lives.   

In looking back I see that throughout it all I was supported.  My MLM business provided me with the residual income that I needed to take the time to heal.  It is a massive blessing and one that I am blown away by on a constant basis.  I have a tremendous support system of people, who have been there for me through thick and thin and who continue to be my biggest cheerleaders, and I am growing a business that I know is truly changing women’s lives.  Although there are some days that I wake up in fear’s embrace I now have the tools to face it full on and to welcome it as my guide into what adventures lie ahead. 

We must be willing to get rid of the life we've planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us  – Joseph Campbell 

If you are ready to live a life of pleasure, passion and purpose and would like to know more about future events and coaching programs I am offering please contact me.  I am excited to learn more about you to see if we are the right match!   

<3 Chanci Dawn


My best friend was having an Essential Oil party at her house. So I decided to go. I knew nothing about essential oils. I thought they were some form of old school medicine.

I sat on the couch as Becky told her story. She talked about how she changed her health and got rid of everything toxic in our home. She talked and talked about how essential oils changed her life. I was on the edge of my seat wanting to run up to her and give her the biggest hug EVER! I was so proud of her. But I patiently waited in my seat until she was done. Then went up to her and introduced myself. I was so excited talking with her about health, essential oils, and clean living (without toxic cleaners and body products).

She is such a great speaker. I highly recommend going to one of her essential oil parties! She is so inspirational and I hope you like her story below.

This is the story of

Becky Wolfe

My story doesn’t go back too far! About 10 years ago, I was in my late 20's when I began my journey into natural health and alternatives. 

I worked in a small office in Osoyoos, in the south Okanagan. Very small, so whenever someone came in that was wearing perfume, I found myself becoming VERY uncomfortable. With headaches. Wheezy. Something I had never experienced before. I figured I must be allergic to perfumes.  Things were changing. 

Around the same time, I started noticing that household cleaners were bothering me as well. Now I have the great fortune to be married to the son of a janitor. My hubby’s mom is an amazing cleaner so HE was always in charge of cleaning the bathrooms. We had loads of bathroom cleaners and the whole house reeked for hours after he was done spraying and swishing and scrubbing. TOXIC! But… he was doing the cleaning so I wasn’t going to complain. J

Then, a couple years later we had our first child… that’s when EVERYTHING changed. That’s when our research journey began. We were about to introduce this perfect flawless being into our environment and suddenly, we started reading labels.  Out went the cleaners! Out went the fragranced baby products. In came natural. Vinegar. Baking Soda. Fragrance-free! It was the beginning. 

And in the last 8 years, our research has not stopped. 

From just natural cleaning products, to the food we eat, the garden we grow, the location we lived, the items in our house, the personal care products we use on our bodies, our medicine and wellness ingredients, and our activities. The list goes on and I am the first to admit that we are STILL learning, still making changes, still discovering new information.

It drives my passions, it fuels my soul! I feel like I want to shout it from the rooftops, all the things we’ve learned and changed. And not because I feel we are better or that I’m so proud… but because I figure everyone else is or was just like we were, clueless. We just didn’t know. We did what everyone else was doing. We ate what everyone else ate. We bought products that everyone else was buying. Until our eyes were opened and we discovered that not EVERYONE is going with the flow, that there is many people opening their eyes to make these changes. 

About 2 years ago, I also wanted to make a business change. My former business (and now just hobby) was sewing baby and household items. It was becoming exhausting but also, I could feel it affecting my health. Constantly breathing tiny fabric fibres was becoming harder on my lungs. While I still love to sew, I didn’t feel like it was following my passions, sharing my message, doing something that MEANT something.

While I contemplated life’s changes, a friend started talking to me about Doterra Essential oils. Our son was in Kindergarten and kept bringing home colds. We were using all the natural remedies we could find but we weren’t getting ahead. She suggested I try essential oils! I was VERY skeptical. Remember, smelly things made me feel bad. So I figured anything “smelly” would bring back those headaches, that wheezy sensation, that perfumes did. She suggested that perhaps it wasn’t the smell, but the synthetic ingredients and toxic crap that was in those smelly things. Still a skeptic, I tried a respiratory blend to relieve my congestion and constant stuffy nose. It was my “hallelujah moment”. And from that day on I fell in love with essential oils… and I realized that they were my foot in the door to share my passion with hundreds of people. So my company “The Natural Wolf” was born. I do essential oils classes several times a month and at each class, while I get to share the important info and amazingness of essential oils, I also get to share my story and point people in the direction to start their journey to natural alternatives. Cleaners, personal care products, supplements, foods, emotions & wellness. I love sharing. I love educating. And I love helping people get started on their journeys, or, like myself, discover a whole new aspect to it. 

Some people, including close friends and family members, still think we’re nuts. Or that we’re hippies. Or that we’re into snake oil and quackery. I don’t really care.  I get to share what I believe in and I get to provide income for my family while I do it. 

So the education and learning continues. I’m currently taking my aromatherapy certification to be certified in French Aromatherapy and Aromatic Medicine. To have that “piece of paper” to back up all the reading and research I have learned.  We keep sharing, even when it seems to fall on deaf ears, and even when the powers that be try to thwart and silence the knowledge of natural medicine and healthy choices. I share all the things I’m passionate about on my Facebook page The Natural Wolf. And I share all the Doterra Essential Oils (FDA approved info ;) on my other page The Natural Wolf Essentials J

What Makes Me Happy
Coffee, storms, mountains, forests, birds, gardening, road trips and adventure.  And of course, my 3 guys <3

Things That Inspire Me
People who are brave enough to follow their heart! People who are open to learning NEW things.  And seeing the world go down the toilet is what drives my passion, if that makes sense. There is so much CHANGE needed… change to go back to what we once knew, the skills, the knowledge, the care-taking, the spirituality and the community. If we could regain a fraction, that would amazing.

Exercise & Free time
I just love being outside. I love hiking. Fishing. Climbing.  Camping. Exploring new places. Photographing them and being still. 


Kristi and I started talking through Facebook. I had asked her if she would like to become a sponsor for Health & Wellness Day. Without hesitation she accepted and donated a massage to the silent auction! I then met Kristi and could right away not only see her beauty but sense her internal beauty as well. She is so lovely, with her gentle movement, kind smile, and soft spoken words.

We later connected again during a Wellness Market that The Center for Spiritual Living put on. She was just as lovely as I had remembered. She was at the Market selling all her essential oils, lavender, and more. We had a great talk about our kids. Later the next day she popped into my head and I just had to ask her to be a part of this page. I knew she had taken tons of holistic schooling, since she ran the spa at the Ocean’s Resort. But I had no idea just how much she knew! She again accepted my request and wrote out her story for us. It turns out she has taken every course I would LOVE to take, including herbology, nutrition, becoming a raw food chef, learning how to give hot stone massages, and making medicine from plants! I am super happy to give you her story.

This is the story of

Kristi Walker

My love for nature started when I was a small child, a fairy frolicking in the rain forest on the coast of Vancouver Island. Ferns, moss, streams, and trees all out my back door. I also loved helping my family grow our own food in our gardens. The flowers so delightful, I remember the scents of the mini roses, sweet peas, and pinks; and climbing in the cherry & hemlock trees.

So I really wasn’t surprised the first time I tried Aromatherapy for a head ache and it worked! Over 17 years ago now, in 1999 I inhaled my first Essential oil blend of Lavender & Peppermint; I was delighted and it awakened me, there was no going back. I needed to learn more, flowers, plants, herbs, leaves, seeds, and roots are powerful healers, both medicines and foods! Many plants you can grow at home in your own garden.

So I quickly enrolled myself at Mount Royal Collage in Calgary and studied a nine month Certified Aromatherapy Course. Learning the properties of essential oils, how to create synergy’s and custom blending, and amazing wholistic body work techniques, Aromatherapy massage, facials, body wraps and scrubs. I loved it all, soaked it right up and still do! This became a butterfly effect for me and I just wanted to keep learning I had found what I was looking for. Soon I became a Reiki Master and enrolled in a Certified TCM, Reflexology and Acupressure courses. Upon completion I was blessed to find the amazing Wild Rose Holistic Collage where I studied for the next few years enjoying courses on Herbology, Nutrition, Hot Stone massage, Plant Medicine making, Flower Remedies, Feng Shui, Crystal energy, Chakras plus many more wonderful workshops allowing me to become a Master Herbalist and Holistic Practitioner.

I took as many courses as I could fit into my busy little schedule, while also managing Swirl an all-natural Botanical Day Spa, creating and blending aromatherapy products, and practicing holistic body treatments. I was also working part time at Chiron Organic Herb Farm growing organic medicinal plants and making medicine with them that we used in our Wild Rose Collage practicum.

It was during this time I created Blossoming Lotus Botanicals an all-natural body and skin care line using only the finest essential oils and home grown herbals. A Beautiful line of products that I still use in my all natural holistic spa practice today and sell at artisan and wellness fairs for take home use.

In 2004 a sweet lil spirit came to me guiding me home to the beautiful Island where I birthed her naturally at home in a pool of water. Enjoying the next two years of momma bliss! Kama and I spent our time Organic Gardening, wild crafting, reconnecting with nature and enjoying all the bounty of life and adventures on the wonderful west coast.

Upon returning to my career I became manager of the Zen Zero Lifestyle store. Learning all about RAW foods and enjoying this nutritional transformation. I rented a healing room in the Center for Optimum Health and started my holistic practice in the valley. The lifestyle store opened up a beautiful door for me to create Eco~Centric a Natural Fiber Boutique in 2006 where I supplied the valley with lovely all natural clothing of bamboo, soy, hemp and organic cotton. Allowing me to meet and become a member of the amazing community in the Comox Valley.

In 2009 I was feeling the need to get back to my passion of healing and giving amazingly blissful spa sessions. My Mom had a breast Cancer scare and was making the remaining shifts to an all-natural lifestyle. She was sad to not be able to paint her nails any more due to the toxins found in most polishes so I did my research and found a spa quality polish line ‘SPA Ritual’ became a certified Esthetician and created the lovely Ziva Organic Spa! Creating a pampering all natural healing Pedicure treatment with lots of extra aromatherapy massage and reflexology. I shifted Eco~Centric into the Spa slowly letting that phase of business go so I could focus on my dream, helping others feel great!

 In 2011 I had the opportunity to be a part of the Ocean Resort so I moved on from Ziva and created their Wellness Spa. Here I worked with many amazing groups, retreats and practitioners and even hosted a few Wellness retreats of my own. Something I plan to do much more of in the future, I absolutely love gathering in groups for weekends of wellness to share the wisdom I’ve gained over the years. I’m addicted to learning and am constantly adding to my offerings.

So the time came to continue my studies and in 2013 I enjoyed adding a Certification in RAW Food Nutrition, specializing in Super Foods & Herbs. Nutrition is key and is the foundation to wellness being a foody it just made sense to take my RAW Food Chef Certification course in the Summer of 2015 too! I love enjoying RAW food but do believe that it is not the best choice in our Northern climate to be 100% RAW in the winter months, (unless you are treating an illness.)  RAW food is cooling & cleansing and we need warming nourishing foods at this time. However a high RAW nutrient dense, superfood loaded diet all year long is key, to longevity, wellness and natural beauty!

After working with wellness retreats and detox groups I realized I really wish to help people live a sustainable, all natural lifestyle and share more of my years of gained knowledge helping to guide clients to well being on more levels that just relaxation I want to create and offer a full spectrum Lifestyle Program! I completed my Yoga Teacher Training in Spring 2014 and can now offer my favorite form of movement Yoga in both private and group settings. A full circle of wellness offerings. I am currently putting together my Full Spectrum Healthy Lifestyle program in my ‘spare’ time and look forward to offering it to my communities soon.

In September I moved from Ocean Resort as I really wanted to focus on my local clientele, and building long term relationships with my clients. So I now have 2 beautiful spaces to share my offerings. The Garden Spa Studio in Stories Beach, (right next door to the home I grew up in for the first 19 years of my life!! Talk about full circle!) I run this space with my dear friend Lori and we can treat 2 guests at a time making for a wonderful spa experience, couples, best friends, mothers & daughters… We have an amazing Chromotherapy Steam Shower unit that can be enjoyed with any spa session.  In the Comox Valley I have joined a wonderful group of wise women at the Circles Wellness Center in downtown Courtenay. Both of my healing spaces are beautiful, tranquil and have been created with love and intention to nourish your body mind and soul!

NEW ‘Wellness Wednesdays’ Lori & I will be offering Chair Massage and Reflexology starting Feb 10th  & 17th 12:30-4:30 then continuing every other Wednesday for the 50+ Active Living program through the CR Community Hall this is open to all. Sign up by calling the Rec Center 286 1161.


Today is a very special day, because my friend Amber is sharing her story. She is such a hard worker, who is constantly smiling, & her heart is full to the brim of real joy. She is constantly thinking of others – being supportive and positive and she always gives so much love!

I met Amber at Healthyway. She was a newby and I needed some advice about essential oils. Everyone said she was the one to talk to! We connected while we talked about oils, running, healthy living, and all her cool jewelry and clothes. She had an energy that attracted me towards her. I invited Amber and Alan over for a potluck and we became closer and closer. She also sells essential oils, which helped me clear up my sinuses last summer when I was having a crazy allergy that showed up only at night. She told me to get “breathe” by DoTerra and it honestly worked like a charm! Amber’s advice saved me that summer.

Now Amber has become co-owner of Ocean Mountain Yoga and is doing such a fantastic job. She inspires me daily to be my best and live life with a positive attitude. Thank you Amber for being such a wonderful girlfriend, to look up to and to have girl time with!

This is the story of
Amber Baran-Tulett

Growing up I was always so excited. Everything about life was amazing to me. I would jump out of bed every morning excited to start the day. My mom said I would follow her around the house chatting her ear off. As soon as I could, I would throw on my boots and run outside to play with the animals. I loved insects. I would stay in the garden all day collecting lady bugs, caterpillars, and snails. I had this beautiful connection with nature. At night I would jump into bed, and fall asleep even before my lights were off.

As years added up and this connection seemed to dissipate. My parents say they remember when they saw the change in me. Teenage years hit and all I could think about was do I fit in? Do people like me? Am I cool? All of my energy and time went into finding, and searching for that acceptance. A lot of my time and effort went into maintaining an outward appearance of confidence and it seemed to work.  At least on the outside.  On the inside, only fear and worry seemed to guide the way.

I was 14 and when I got drunk for the very first time. I made a fool of myself, got beat up, got sick, and blacked out. The disappointment in my parents eyes was heartbreaking, but the shame inside was even worse. But it didn't stop me. I kept doing it. Party after party. I would drink on the weekends, I would drink at school. I loved the feeling I would get of incredible confidence. I felt on top of the world, like I could do anything. Any pain, self-doubt would go away. I became numb. That invincible feeling didn't last very long. As the pain in me grew stronger, the more I drank the worse it got. It became a pattern that when I drank I would crumble. I felt like my life was over, and then I would go back to my good friend alcohol and do it again. I tried to run away from the problems I created many times. I moved to Calgary, moved to Toronto, every time I would come crawling back home to try and pull myself together again. Even in a new city I always seemed to find myself in self destructive circumstances. From getting fired, to getting arrested, to going to detox, I was constantly running from myself.

Through this running I created more problems for myself, and left broken pieces around me. From relationships, family, jobs. I always had a boyfriend or some form of relationship. It was generally mutually self-destructive. We never brought the best out in each other and it was centered around partying and maintaining this outside appearance.

I hit rock bottom.  I woke up one morning and looked in the mirror and didn't even know who was staring back at me. Who was this person? I was broken, tired, depressed, and had hurt all the people around me that actually loved me! That cared for me! I swore on that day, that I would change. I decided to quit drinking completely. I remember crying, saying I would lose all my friends. That no one would like me anymore because I didn't party. Who was I? Without partying what was I supposed to do? I had completely lost my identity. I lost my excuse. But I knew, in my heart, this is what I wanted. I had to turn my life around. I wanted to be someone that I loved. I needed to learn, what it meant to love myself.

I took it one day at a time and before I knew it, I had a good job, I quit smoking and began to explore how to eat properly. Living for a long time where I didn't eat, or the only food I ate was a greasy burger I began to read cookbooks. I was inspired by all these amazing women that ate food to make them feel good. I started testing these recipes on Allen. I wanted us to eat food to make us nourished.  I was determined to do the best at work that I could to save myself the disappointment that I felt before.

Seemingly out of nowhere there was all this energy! Where was this coming from and what was I supposed to do with it? I started with yoga DVDs and Jillian Michaels. Clearing out the living room just to do yoga. The motivation continued. It felt so great and I wanted to learn more!!

I started playing with a vegan diet. As I began to eliminate foods, and add in more fresh ones, I started to notice how good i felt! I was strong, confident and ready to explore more in the fitness world. I got a gym membership. I set a goal that I wanted to feel strong and able to run in mud hero. I would wake up early, and walk to the gym every day. Work out, and walk back home. I was hooked. I felt so great. 

Then I met yoga. This is where the transformation really began. From the first time I stepped on the mat. 90 minutes in a hot room, staring into the mirror again at myself. On the outside I looked different, in the inside I felt different, but there were still layers. More that I was hiding that I needed to uncover. I would fall to my mat covered in sweat, sometimes with a few tears. We would be left in stillness at the end. Just us, in our bodies. In those times, I connected inward. I started to really hear, and was able to listen. I began to heal. Yoga taught me how to calm the thinking brain. I started to love the person that was inside.

I made a choice to make it happen. I could have taken the easy route of blame, denial, and excuses. Instead, I chose the hard path. A path of digging deep. Digging inward, into all that stuff that gets pushed away. I dug passed the excuses and through it all found myself. That little girl, that was excited about life was there, and ready to shine!

Next thing I knew, I was one of the most reliable employees where I worked.  After 3 years, I only missed one shift and it was because I was actually sick.  I was so used to missing work from partying and getting questioned about my "illness" that I couldn't believe how nice they were about me missing that one day.  I didn't get questioned, I got supported.  They were just worried about my well-being.  I'm sure if I was in my old ways, I would have lost this job long before.

From there I had a calling to go to yoga teacher training. I had to learn more, I needed to learn more! In training, more layers were pulled back. Constantly being faced with the truth inside of me. The difference was, I was no longer afraid. I could look at myself, and be okay. I could look at myself and be proud of who I was!

Yoga has taught me that all of this is a continuous journey. Every day is different. Every moment is different. We have control of who we are, who we are going to be, and what we will allow to affect us. So here I am, writing a story from my past, which I hope inspires you. Inspires you to know that no matter who you are or what you have done, or how far from you truth you have traveled you can always come back. Back into the moment, back into yourself. 

Currently I am living life to the fullest. I nourish my body with a whole food plant based diet. I am exploring with more raw vegan living. I go to bed early, and I wake up early. I am surrounded by people that inspire me. My days are spent running my first business, teaching yoga, working out, practicing yoga, cuddling with my reptiles, and planning my wedding.

I am blessed to be able to marry the man that has always loved me, through thick and thin. Career wise, am co-owner of Ocean Mountain Yoga. Living the dream! There are many trainings and courses I plan on completing. Currently working on completing my certification for personal training. I love helping others find that place in their heart, a connection with themselves when they arrive to the mat. Every day I dig deep. I'm not perfect. I still make mistakes. The difference is now, I do not run. I face them head on. I am confident in my truth, and I love myself.

Krista and Amber are doing a wonderful course together called Love. Move. Eat. during each Saturday in February! Learn new ways to incorporate healthy living into your lifestyle. 
Register today!


This is a beautiful story of a beautiful woman in my life. She is my Oma. She has the kindest, most loving soul I have ever met. She shows our whole family how to be. She has the most radiant skin. She always says it’s from her Metrin cream but it’s so much more than that. Her glow comes from deep within. She is always thinking of others; bringing flowers to those who are sick in the hospital, sending out her amazing homemade thank you/holiday cards, and making knitted blankets and scrap books (of our whole lives) for all her grandchildren. Oma is amazing. We are all so lucky to have her as our ray of golden sunshine.

Thank you Oma for being such a wonderful role model for all us women in the Tjart, Dugas, Vallee, and Braun families.

Today I share with you the story of

Ria Tjart

My dear, sweet Oma was born in Duerrmaul, Czechoslovakia and was given the name Maria Anna Thummerer, which was shortened to Ria. She was the youngest of 6 siblings. Ria never did get to meet her oldest sibling Hilde, who had passed away at the young age of 4. It was so hard for Ria’s mother to talk about Hilde, but once in a while when her mom allowed Ria to brush her long beautiful hair Ria would ask her about Hilde. Sometimes her mom wouldn’t want to talk about Hilde but occasionally she would break down in tears and tell Ria about her sister.

At the beginning of the war Ria’s father was called off to serve their Country and her mother worked hard for their family, taking any job she could get like working in the fields, house work, and so on.

The last they heard of their father was in 1943, when Ria was only 5 years old. He was declared ‘Missing in Action’. Their family was devastated.

At 6 years old Ria went to school for only 6 weeks before the Czechs came and closed down all the schools.

When she was 8 the Czechs kicked their family out of Duerrmaul because her family was Austrian background. If they hadn't of left they would have been killed.

They moved to Germany, where they lived a poor life, often being hungry, but they were happy. Ria loved to attend school and play with her siblings and friends. These were Rias happiest memories as a child. For fun they would act out Rumpelstiltskin, where Ria was the Miller's wife and her sister was the Prince. They even made a stage and had an audience. They also made their own puppets for puppet shows, played hopscotch, and sang songs each evening. They enjoyed their childhood together.

Ria went along with her mom while she worked in their relative’s fields, hauling crops and rolling hay. All day Ria sat and played with the other young kids, keeping themselves busy. There were no such thing as adult baby sitters back in those days. At 10 years old Ria helped watch little kids so their parents could go to work. In return she was promised an apron. So, she babysat all summer long. An apron was a very special gift because people didn't have clean clothes to change into every day, so at least the apron would have kept her clothes clean for a couple extra days. The end of summer came and all she got was a piece of bread.

Her sister Anna got married and had a daughter. It was through her husband's Mennonite background that the Mennonites helped them move to Canada.

On the 9th of June they arrived in Halifax and took a train for 5 days and 5 nights to Black Creek. Ria was 13, she went to a new school where she couldn't speak the language. This experience was very hard for her. Luckily she met a girl who could help translate (If the teacher allowed it).

One day Ria’s teacher heard her sing and asked her to sing Silent Night in German at the school Christmas concert in front of a crowd. Ria was a bit shy so two other German kids sang with her. Ever since then Ria’s teacher really liked her.

When Ria was 14 she went to Oliver with her sister to work in a cannery and packing house for the summer; collecting and sorting cherries, peaches, and apricots. They bought food to live off and payed for rent, the rest of their earnings went home, to help pay for their travel expenses and their family’s house. When the fall came she came back home and went to school.

When she turned 16 two of her favourite birthday gifts she received was a navy pleated skirt from her brother and crinoline, netting for under the skirt, from her sister.

Frank, Gertrude (her brother and sister), and Ria went to work to help their hard working mother. Her mother always stayed so positive throughout all this time, so they couldn't wait to help her. They told their mom she never had to work again.

The first time Ria experimented with food she made soup. She made chicken noodle soup, but without the chicken. She added herbs, a bay leaf, red pepper, and noodles, then tasted it! It wasn't bad at all!

Frank worked in logging and Gertrude worked at the hospital. Ria worked at Painters making 65 cents an hour. After paying room and board at Painters she would send her money home, continuing to help pay for the family house. She also took a babysitting job in the evenings and with that money she would buy clothes. Since Ria worked in the kitchen she learned how to cook really well.

They all were happy. There was no more war. Everyone was safe.

In 1955 Ria was 17. The family house was built and Gertrude got married. Ria knew Nick Tjart because he lived across the road but the first time they ever talked was at her sister's wedding. There was a guy who kept pursuing Ria but she wasn't interested. She went up to Nick and asked, “Will you dance with me?” He was shocked that she had asked. He said yes. And they've been together ever since.

Shortly after their first dance Nick formally asked Ria out. One year later they were married! They lived in a quaint little house on Nick's parents property until they built their own house next door. They had four wonderful children.

Ria raised the kids while Nick worked. He was a logging truck driver, travelling to Squamish, Ucluelet, & Sayward (just to name a few). Each Sunday they attended church as a family. There Ria taught Sunday school for 40 years, ever since she was 21 years old. She enjoyed teaching children about Jesus and God. The 23rd Psalm is Ria’s favourite. Ria has always been involved in the church ever since she joined, being President of our ladies group Harmony hearts for over 20 years, sang in the choir, was deacon for several years.

Ria’s mom was around to help with the kids before she passed away in 1983.

Now, Ria is almost in her 80’s. She has beautiful skin and she glows from the inside out.

Nick and Ria have 13 grandchildren and 5 great grandchildren.

Ria and Nick have travelled to 14 Countries together including the Bahamas, Mexico, USA, Holland, France, Switzerland, Hungary, and Austria.

Her favourite foods are salads, chicken, and seafood. Hobbies that Ria loves to do in her spare time are scrapbooking, sewing, knitting, and collecting stamps. Her talents are memorizing (bible verses) and singing! She likes to read books written by Nora Roberts, Debbie Macomber, Kate Morton, and Susan Wiggs. Her all-time favourite movie is The Sound of Music and favourite series (and books) are Anne of Green Gables. Ria and Nick go bowling together with their friends each week!

Nick and Ria will be celebrating their 60th Wedding Anniversary this fall.

“The word happiness is overrated. I like contentment better. Be positive and find the good in everything.” She said with a loving smile.



Genevieve and I are Facebook pals. She added me through my website and since then we have totally connected. She is a health coach so I am constantly asking her about her career because that it totally something I'd love to pursue (one day) :) 

She is constant inspiration in my life. She is the person who inspired me to start my 8 week fitness challenge that I posted here on Mandy's Healthy Life late 2015. 

Genevieve has come so far. She is always posting motivational pictures on her facebook page. She works out hard! I am excited to share her story here today.

This is the story of
Genevieve Bingham

Hi there!
I’m Genevieve.  And I used to be 15 pounds heavier, a smoker, suffering from an eating disorder, in an unhealthy relationship and completely LOST in terms of my career.  I was one of those 20-something's that just seemed to have career ADHD-- much to my parent’s dismay lol. A few years ago, I finally decided to take the driver's seat in my life. 

At the time I was living in NYC and after years of "trying on" every different career path-- student, actress, waitress, bartender, marketing account manager, executive assistant- I finally decided to follow my HEART and booked a one-way ticket to the Pacific Northwest. Was it scary? It was terrifying.  But it was also exhilarating.  What I couldn't predict at the time though, was the amount of GROWTH that was going to happen that year.  I obviously ended my relationship (my boyfriend at the time of 3.5 years), completely changed career paths (I decided to dive into my passion for nutrition and wellness) and took steps to start healing my body and my emotional state from the inside out.  While taking nutrition classes, I stumbled upon a wellness coaching opportunity and the rest is history!  From the beginning, I knew it was what I was meant to do.  It offered everything in life that I had been looking for…
-Helping women wellness, nutrition and body image
-Focus on holistic nutrition and quality workout programs 
-Financial freedom, time freedom, and control over my schedule
-Helping people achieve not only their health goals, but personal growth and financial goals 
-The tools and platform to follow my passion for fitness and personal growth
-An amazingly supportive and positive group of other like-minded individuals

I dove head first with my business and along this wild ride also met the love of my life-- my adventure partner, Rob :) My advice for anyone that is unhappy with where they are now is to really get in touch with your intuition and your gut. I truly feel that our gut is our infallible and instinctive navigation system that has our best interests at heart-- it will never steer us in the wrong direction. On top of that, we must take massive action towards our goals and vision.  One of my favorite quotes is by Tony Robbins..."Forget your past. Who are you now? Who have you decided you really are now? Don't think about who you have been. Who are you now? Who have you decided to become? Make this decision consciously. Make it carefully. Make it powerfully" 


I met Taija when she got hired at Healthyway, almost a year ago now. She was so friendly! As soon as she knew I had a book she bought it and started making recipes and talked about health and how far we had both come (in the world of health). She always has a beautiful smile on her face, which draws everyone towards her positive energy. And the one thing I love about her is she always talks to my daughter Kyri and includes her in our conversation. She’s so thoughtful. Originally I had asked her to share her story about how she quit smoking, but then she got writing and decided she had a bigger story to tell. I am amazed at what she has gone through. Grab a kleenex, and get ready to read the story of

Taija Larmand

When I look at the last 5 years of my life it's hard to believe that I am where I am. I had to fight a very hard battle and I conquered it and I am a survivor. I grew up with a family who loved me so much and provided me with the ability to do many things like dance, sing, sports, and attend a private Christian school. I had everything any kid would ever want. As I grew into a young women my hormones were crazy and I went through many phases. As the years went on I couldn't shake off the feeling of being depressed. I couldn't communicate with my parents how I felt because I was so confused and didn't even know how to explain it. My parents were so scared and just wanted to try to do what was best for me. I kept pushing them away and hurt them with my actions and words. I moved out of my family’s house at the age of 15. I thought that maybe living with my family was the problem since we always fought about how "they just didn't understand" but really neither did I.
I had no idea what was going to be bad or good for me. I didn't talk with my parents for almost 2 months. They barely even knew where I was sleeping at night and if I was even being fed. I dropped out of school within the first month of moving out. I started to couch hop from house to house.
I was trying to run away from my problems and the problems only got worse. I was more depressed than I had ever been. I started experimenting with alcohol and got into a very bad habit. I thought drinking and getting drunk was fun and that it was the "best time of my life". All I was doing was drinking my pain away. I started getting into smoking weed daily and drinking every night I could afford it. I was surrounded by people who were also in pain and trying to solve it by trying to forget about the problems. We were all feeding each other’s problems without even knowing it.

Being a girl there was drama right left and center and I would just run away when things started getting bad and find another place to start crashing at. I ended up in a very scary situation. I lived in a house where there was barely food to eat and people would come in and out to just do drugs. This is what some people would call a "crack house".
I remember my dad calling me one day to just "talk" but he started asking me questions about what kind of things I was doing and more specifically what kind of drugs. He was so worried and he didn't know what I was or wasn't doing. He had only thought of the worst because I had placed myself in the worst place. No parent would want to see their child in the place that I was in.
I was smart enough to stay away from all the drugs and each day in that house reminded me why I was never ever going to do any drugs. Unfortunately I didn't recognized that alcohol was still a drug and I drank almost every single night. I was basically living to get drunk for 3 months straight. I spent what money I did scavenge on alcohol before buying myself a meal.
There was two moments when I got to the point that I ate food off of the sidewalk. I was so numb and blind I had no idea what I was doing to myself. I had dug so deep into the hole that I thought the way I was living my life was just the way it was going to be for me.
I had met a lovely women because she had the unfortunate job of managing the townhouses I was living in. She connected with me right away and from that moment on she wanted to help me get into a better position. When the cops started showing up at the place I was living at she came and got me and told me that I was leaving and never going back there. She helped me move into a few houses down where I was going to be staying until my friend and I got an apartment together. When we were finally in our own apartment with my friend, her boyfriend and I, things started to feel better. I thought that maybe I was starting to walk on my own two feet again. The lovely lady (let’s just call her my gardener) helped me by showing me that there were other ways of doing it. I was still drinking a lot but I wasn’t around drugs, or so I thought.
Things were doing really good and I even found myself a job. My friend and her boyfriend ended up moving out and I was by myself for a month. Somehow someone got hold of one of our apartment keys from my friend’s boyfriend and the drugs started becoming a thing I saw daily again. My gardener finally came and got me and told me that I was moving in with her. She helped me packed my things and when I walked into the door she told her husband "so well, It's a girl" They were both very excited to have me as basically their foster child. But I was so much more than that to them. They became my other parents and I became their child from different parents. They helped me get to work on time, and even helped me make plans of going back to school. They gave me rules and communicated with me that I would have to follow them if I wanted to stay living with them but they made sure to make the rules reasonable.
Living there I felt safe, and I could still do what I wanted. I remember lying in bed and finalizing that I was going to move home after I had saved up a little bit of money and bought my parents rings. I wanted to gift them rings as a promise that I was going to communicate with them and try to work on things and when things got hard I was not going to run away.

That plan didn't unfold. I was out one night going to go meet up with who was my boyfriend at the time. He never showed up so I tried to call him with a phone from seven eleven. He didn't answer so I started to head home when I bumped into a couple outside of seven eleven who asked me to join them for a few drinks after we had a conversation. They seemed super nice so I agreed. We walked to a nearby park and proceeded to have a few drinks and listen to music and talk. It was a great time. I only had 2 drinks which was barely nothing for me since I had a pretty high tolerance. A random person ended up joining us that none of us really knew. But we went on with it anyways. The couple ended up getting a taxi to the bar and since I was underage I couldn’t go. So it was just me and this random stranger. After three horrendous hours of praying to God that I would stay alive I walked through my door and cried to my "foster" parents that I had been raped.
My life had been threatened for sexual deeds. I will never forget what had happened. I was scared and I wanted my mommy and daddy so my foster mom called them and I remember hearing the conversation. My heart broke for my parents. No parent ever wants to have to hear that their child has been raped. My parents came and held me and cried as I cried. I had to go to the hospital to get what is called a "rape kit" done. It's not fun and I just cried the whole time. I went to my parent’s house and crawled into my parent’s bed with my mom. She held my hand as I fell asleep.
The next day I had to take a statement. So I woke up and had a shower. Looking in the mirror and seeing marks and bruises didn't seem real. None of it seemed real. But I knew that life would carry on and I would have to figure out how to carry on as well. I charged him but unfortunately it never went to court because it was a he said she said battle.
I was so lost and I had no idea how I was going to move on from it. I decided to go back to school. It was just about to be a new school year and I knew I wanted to graduate and try to make something good of my life. I was not going to be a victim. So I went back to school and I finished three grades in two years and graduated on time.
It was so difficult and the first year was the hardest. I struggled with anxiety and depression but I fought through it because I knew that I was not a victim. I wasn't drinking every week anymore and I was only doing it on occasion when there was a party with a group of friends. I was doing so much better for myself. I was getting mainly straight A's with a few B's here and there. I had made friends and I was happy. The traumatizing event was still there and a part of my past but I continued to see my counselor and work with her to figure things out.
My graduating year came along and I was awarded the New Leaf Award. They describe the award as someone who has turned a new leaf in their life. That is exactly what I did. I graduated with my family in the audience. My parents and my "foster" parent’s as well as my friends that were basically family. I had tears in my eyes when I walked across the stage because I had no idea that I was going to go back to school and graduate. And I did.
I went to college the following year but realized it was too much and that I needed a break from school.
So here I am. Working full time at an amazing health food store. I am learning things every day and becoming more and more health conscious and I am so happy. I have amazing supportive parents and brothers who love me more than anything. I have a wonderful boyfriend who cares for me and teaches me to live life in the moment. Every day is filled with love, and happiness. If someone had asked me 4 years ago if I would be where I am today I would most likely laugh in their face. Being where I am today is such a blessing and I am so thankful for the life that I have each and every day. I am growing more and more every day and I want to achieve greatness and do amazing things. I want to help people and learn more about healthy living. I was lonely, lost, broken, hurt, and traumatized. But I am now happy, healthy, and loved. I wouldn't trade my life for anything because I have learned life lessons that I would have never learned otherwise.
If you are lonely, depressed, or have been hurt, or traumatized, know that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. You can do it and you will make it there. It is a hard, rough, and scary road but you are not alone and you can do it. I believe in you.
What makes me happy:
Spending time with my amazing loving family and helping the people around me with whatever it might be that they need. A smile or a hug.

Things that inspire me:
Anyone who had endured some sort of pain or challenge and had come through it inspires me. My beautiful auntie inspires me so much and I hope one day I can be as amazing as she is.

Words used to describe me:
Resilient, giving, strong, outgoing, loving.

5 things that make me happy:
My family, my handsome boyfriend, seeing people smile to one another, learning new things, and my cute little dog.

Books or movies I’d recommend:
I don’t read often enough and I always forget the titles of really good movies. But any kind of comedy movie is a great movie because it makes me laugh and smile.
Exercise of my choice:
I love to run, but I suck at it. So I am on a very slow journey but none the less a journey to becoming good at running.

My goals and dreams:
I always dreamt of being am actress but I wouldn’t wanna live that life style. So I’m hoping to go back to school and get a degree. At the moment it looks like maybe a nurse or a dietitian.

One morning at Zumba I noticed my mom had brought a friend to class! My mom introduced her to me right away I thought ‘Gosh, this woman is so happy!’ And as I got talking with her I realized I couldn’t stop chatting with her. She asked about my life, my family, my hobbies, and was just so keen on knowing more about me. She was so kind to me and not to mention humble. She never told me she was the pastor’s wife or that she had her own Christian Counselling business.

Probably a year after we met she found herself with health issues, which made her stop attending Zumba class. I was so eager to help her get back to the live she deserved! I gave her a bit of health advice, which she slowly took on. I told her it was all about baby steps and that it would take time to see results. She made recipes from my cookbook. Though some of them are a bit hard for a newbie, she always tried her best, and would tell me about her errors and progress in her new adventures of healthy eating. After a year her illness faded and a bit she has now been attending yoga classes, has gone skiing, and has been enjoying life again!

She also helped me immensely with counselling & by listening as a friend. She has been a rock in my life, who I look up to for support, encouragement, and friendship. I thank God for her every day. She came into my life at the perfect time. I think God knew I was going to need her help.

Every time she walks into a room it’s like an angel, shining so bright, has graced us with her joy, to uplift us, and give us that positive boost we all need. She’s a beautiful singer! She is truly a breath of fresh air, a ray of sunshine, a rose in bloom. I am so happy to call her one of my best friends! I eagerly give you the story of

Elaine Binnema

I am so fulfilled being able to be a therapist.  The journey into therapy really started with my own Christian counselling at age 34.  My life sure wasn’t going where I thought it would.  I expected to be married and well into family life when finally due to shear frustration I entered counselling to try to figure out why I seemed to be unsuccessful in relationships.  This experience was a major turning point in my life.  Through therapy, I was able to see errors of thinking and behaviours that did not serve me well.  I was then able to change those and start living healthily and making healthy choices.  It was after this I ended up choosing to move to BC and after an important talk with a friend I decided that I really had a heart for counselling/therapy.  I wanted to help others the way I was helped.   

Doing a Master’s degree and changing careers in my late 30s was not an easy go.  I did most of my school work while working full time and didn’t earn any money through my internship process for a year.   

God was good, however, and I had met the love of my life by then and he was able to support me through the final year of my degree.  I feel so blessed and honoured to be doing something that I feel passionate and called to do.  I don’t think there is anything better. 
Physical health has always been important to me because I have struggled with being healthy. I have always made pretty good choices but regardless of my choices still seemed to be sicker than most people.  I would always use all my sick days every year, I would come down with flus for a long time, and this struggle continued.  I have probably tried pretty much everything to become healthy. 

I think this struggle really has been a spiritual one.  Some things we don’t have control over and if that is true what do we do then?  I became very ill 2 years ago with low level flu-like symptoms that kept me from almost all physical activity.  I even had trouble with showers and stairs.  This was very frightening and even though I had just opened up my private counselling practice I had to toy with the idea of closing it.  Thanks to my husband’s advice I managed through the summer and things started to slowly improve during the fall.

Through this long illness I changed almost everything in my diet I could think of.  I did anything I felt was in my control to improve my health but in the end the mystery illness left as strangely as it came with none of my effort making any difference.

I think what this has taught me is that somethings are just a gift.  Health is a gift and it is important to take care of what we have because you never know when it might be taken.  I have a whole different view of exercise.  Exercise is now a privilege!  I can’t believe I now feel that way.  Before I used to exercise because it was good for me – now I exercise because I actually have the energy to do it and energy is a gift that I intend not to waste. 

What can I say about God and me – we go way back!  I don’t know if you can relate to this but I just always knew there was a personal God who loved me and cared for me.  Now of course I was taken to Sunday school and was taught about God but I KNEW it was true.  I’ve never looked back. 

There has been quite a redemption process in knowing the Lord for me.  I had one major bad relationship that was so damaging it took me 10 years to figure out the unhealthiness and then recover from it.  That recovery process happened when I moved to BC over 10 years ago now.  The Lord really brought me to a place where finally I gave everything to him and then things really started to change and move in my life – I found the love of my life, I got married, I became a therapist – wow what a difference submitting to a loving God makes in your life! 

Things that make me happy:
Coffee, hummingbirds, porch swings, hammocks, the beach, eagles, beavers, otters, one of those moments between crying and laughing, my husband, close moments with friends, being in the real stuff of people’s lives!  

What inspires me to help others:
Being so incredibly in need and finding help and healing with the help of another is the inspiration.  I believe that the true desire to help comes from deep humility.  I KNOW I have been at the bottom of the barrel, at the end of the rope, I would never judge another for being there and because I know how it feels, how can I not help someone else in the process of healing/redemption.  I must. 

Words used to describe me:
I asked my husband for these: Compassionate, understanding, fun, beautiful, intelligent, and thoughtful 

My goals and dreams:
My goal is to continue to work in meaningful ways in people’s lives.  My dream is that when I reach the end of this road of life I can feel assured that I have become the person God created me to be. 

What books would you recommend? 
The two that come to mind is Mere Christianity by C.S.Lewis and Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor E. Frankl. 

Mere Christianity is such a good book if you are at all curious about what Christianity is all about and why anyone would believe it.  C. S. Lewis is awesome at plainly explaining the tenants of the Christian faith.

I love the existentialist philosophy and Frankl does an awesome job in this book explaining the essence of humanity.  The author survived a concentration camp and describes, on psychological terms, what he saw happen to the spirit of others and himself.  Powerful.  

Exercise of my choice.  
Walking will always be at the top of my list but also yoga and newly cross country skiing.  The walking and skiing takes me into nature and I think that nature has its own healing qualities.  Yoga I have found the most holistic exercise that my body seems to enjoy doing. 


I met Krista when she worked at our local health food store. I always had questions about health products, supplements, probiotics and more and Krista was always my go-to gal! We became closer when she taught a couple classes at an event I put on called Health & Wellness Day. The classes were ‘Intro to Kettlebells’ and a nutrition class called ‘Eat to Perform’. I only heard great things about how Krista was so knowledgeable on holistic health and man was she strong!!

We would talk about health and fitness when we picked our kids up from school and we totally clicked. She is so thoughtful, respecting my diet and my lifestyle when she gave me advice. I have always admired her hard work ethic and her strong will power, with Kettlebell training, owning her own business, and how she’s so into healthy living! I noticed how toned, happy, and thriving she was since day one. I want to learn what she knows! We did a one-on-one kettlebell session where she showed me the basics and I went out and bought my first kettlebell right away! She has inspired me in so many ways and I am so grateful to call her a friend!
I hope you love her story!

I’d like to introduce to you, the strong, confident, lovable woman

Krista Boulding

Hello! My name is Krista Boulding, I am a Certified Personal Trainer, Holistic Nutritionist, Pn Level 1 Nutrition Coach (Pn Level 2 is in Progress), Kettlebell Instructor, loving Mother, Partner, and Friend! Whew! That’s a lot! I feel blessed to have the opportunity to be so many of these amazing things.

Where does my journey begin? I’d say it all started after high school (1996...gasp!), working in a funky coffee shop, and stumbling upon the book Diet For a New America by John Robbins. That book blew my mind! I immediately fell in love with the world of nutrition, I became a vegetarian overnight, and began my crusade to better the world one meal at a time. In the beginning I felt great, I had a new passion, I lost a bit of weight, I was active, I stood for something important, and I had an identity. But in the years that followed, I noticed some issues creeping up. I suffered immense digestive issues, I was gaining weight, I had no energy, constant mental fog, cravings, and just a general feeling of malaise, ALL THE TIME. After much research, constant adjusting and readjusting, I got to a place where I felt really good. In the span of 20 years I went from vegetarian, to vegan, to raw, back to vegetarian, to Paleo, and presently to just eating Real Whole Foods.

My struggles inspired me to want to help others. I began my education in the health & fitness industry with a diploma in Holistic Nutrition through the Edison Institute, which I finally completed in 2012. I worked full time in a healthfood store while taking the course, and that gave me a great opportunity to work in the field, and study at the same time. I was always interested in fitness as well, having had gym memberships on and off since I was 14 years old. After my daughter was born in 2007, I used fitness to cope with the demands of becoming a mother. It was a great outlet, it allowed me to stay fit, happy, and healthy, so I had the energy to run after a tireless kid. I decided to take my passion for fitness and turn it into a new career direction with the decision to become a Personal Trainer through CanFitPro in 2013. Naturally my area of interest was Sports Nutrition, how to eat right in order to support an active lifestyle. After researching more schools, I ended up choosing Precision Nutrition for my Certificate in Exercise Nutrition and completed their Level 1 course in Jan. 2014.

During these years of learning and growing, I was an avid runner. I began challenging myself to 5K and 10K races, and half marathons. I ended up pushing myself to the point of injury, and was forced to take some serious time off running. I desperately searched for something to fill in the void. I was already a regular in the gym, so I decided to put my energy and focus into weight lifting. Somewhere along the way, I stumbled upon another book that changed my life's direction. The Four Hour Body by Tim Ferris. In this book was my first glimpse at how powerful kettlebell training could be. And due to the nature of my running injury, I could only do exercises that kept my feet flat on the floor. Enter the kettlebell!

It was love at first swing ;) Nothing I had ever done before gave me the body confidence that kettlebell training did. I took to it very quickly, soaking up youtube videos, taking videos of myself to assess my form, reading everything I could about technique. A couple months after completing my Personal Training certificate I found a Kettlebell Certification in Vancouver. That was probably the most exhausting and rigorous thing I have ever done. But I came out of that feeling amazing! Like I had accomplished great feats of strength, both physical and mental. I knew I had to share this passion, I couldn't contain it. If I could get such great results, I needed to help others achieve them too.

One month after my certification, I taught my first class. Fast forward almost 2 years and I'm still teaching classes, I also offer personal training services, and nutrition consulting. It's been an epic journey. I absolutely love what I do, it feeds my soul. Nothing makes me happier than seeing women get strong, gain confidence, and empower themselves through health and wellness. My decision to offer training exclusively to women comes from the fact that females, including myself, needed a place where they can feel unapologetically strong. To not worry about anyone judging them, to not feel self-conscious in their tank tops, to lift some heavy weight and not fear they might pack on too much muscle. I wanted to create a space that dispels the common myths in the diet and fitness industry. I wanted to create a space where women come to be MORE, not less of a person. Women are unique, we have a complex set of hormones, we respond differently to stress, exercise, and food. I encourage women to listen to their bodies, to rest when needed, to honour themselves. But I also encourage them to push past the point of mental resistance, to find out just how strong they really are. At KB Strength & Wellness, you can find women of all ages, lifting all ranges of kettlebells, making the workout their own. There is no judgement, there is no intimidation, there is only love and support.

As a women, and especially now as a mother, it became very important to me to attain body acceptance and unconditional love for myself. I want to teach my daughter to love herself and to see that beauty comes in all shapes and sizes. As time went by, and as I worked with more women in fitness and nutrition, it became apparent that I was definitely not alone in these struggles. These observations led me to my current path, which is taking my Precision Nutrition Level 2 course in coaching. Success in body change through fitness and nutrition is really rooted in our mindset. Without, body positivity and self-compassion, we will never truly be successful in our quest for health and wellness. I work on this every single day. Through mindfulness meditation, journaling, helping others, being a role model for my daughter and for other women, I am able to really see how capable and beautiful I really am. It has taken many years to get here, but I am grateful for every step of the journey, and I look forward to what the future brings!


In grade 2 I met a beautiful girl, with long brown hair. She was new to school and I couldn’t wait to play with her. Right away I noticed how smart & talented she was. She was so fun to be around. I swear everything that she did, she gave it her all; with her grades, her friendship, and her hobbies. Throughout school we remained close friends, some years closer than others. After graduation we were attached at the hip, with boyfriends in the way of course. She was always there for me.

I decided to move away to Ontario with my boyfriend at the time. I managed living away for 3 months until I couldn’t take it anymore. I missed my sister and my Kaihlee! Back home I went to be near my best friend and family. She was definitely in party mode when I came back but she was, again, always there for me. Like when I got pregnant with my son Seth. She came to my appointments, and was even there for Seth’s birth. She came over almost every day to play with me and my cute little baby. She was always the person I went running to when I needed a shoulder to cry on. She was always the person I called when I wanted to go out dancing. She was always the person who I wanted attention from. She was (and still is) such a talented, wonderful, thoughtful, strong, independent woman who I look up to and admire.

She moved out of town when Seth was around 2 but we remained close friends. Years and years have gone by (7 to be exact) and each time we see each other we start where we left off, telling stories, being funny, and getting our craft (painting) on! My kids love her to death! She’s their Auntie Kaihlee!

This is Kaihlee Riley’s Story

I’ve always thought about sharing my story but never was quite sure what the right platform would be. When Mandy asked me to do this I jumped at the chance. I’ve always been a huge fan of journaling so I am thinking of this as an extension to my private diary.

My story starts in my hometown of Campbell River. A great place to be a kid, full of camping and swimming and hiking; me and my sister and brother had a great childhood.

I had no idea I was gay when I was younger, I was boy crazy as a little girl!  I had a boyfriend in middle school and I did all the things that I thought girls had to do to make boys happy. I really liked my boyfriend and was super excited every time we got to hang out. I felt good knowing I was “normal.”

My first relationship fizzled out and I was left feeling really crappy about myself. It was like I needed a boy around to verify that I was where I should be in life. I started dating my high school sweetheart and I thought all my problems would be solved; he was popular, captain of the football team, he made me laugh and he was really smart.

My relationship with my dad had deteriorated when I was a kid and I finally found a guy that I could relate to and not be scared of.  It was around this time I started to pretty much hate myself and turned to starving myself in order to feel like I was in control of my life. I had this little game where I put my elbows on my desk with my hands up folded in the air (like I was praying) and I would draw a line to where my bracelet fell onto my forearm. As I wasted away the bracelet fell further and further down my arm until it was almost at my elbow. This is something I would secretly celebrate over. The less I ate and the less I weighed gave me satisfaction. But it was always short lived and I always was left feeling exhausted and fat and disgusting. This went on for years.

I started using drugs to make myself not feel my stomach gnawing away at itself. Drugs were my best friend, if I was sad; I got high. If I was happy; I got high. If I was bored; I got high. I liked being able to do more drugs, in less time than anyone I knew. Something I was good at. I felt like I was breaking rules for once in my life and I thought it made me look cool. Believe me, when you make yourself puke just to feel higher for a couple seconds, it doesn’t look cool. When you snort up ashes because your drugs fell onto the ashtray… it doesn’t look cool. When an ER nurse rips your shirt off of you and puts ECG stickers on your bare chest in front of a room full of ER patients, it doesn’t feel cool.  When you call some creepy old man as a last resort and even HE turns you down for what you want… it doesn’t feel cool.

I got dragged to a doctor. They gave me anti depressants but I was a kid still and didn’t take them like I should have. This form of treatment backfired and I hated myself even more. I was crying for help inside but I was too proud to admit that I wasn’t strong enough to do it myself. A low point in this part of my life is spending a couple days in the hospital after overdosing. I knew what I was doing was stupid, but I felt invincible and thought that if I could let myself get bad enough someone would scoop me up and take care of me. It never occurred to me that maybe I wouldn’t wake up after swallowing every pill in sight.

Things went from bad to worse and I started to cut myself. It sounds so cliché but numbing myself with pain or drugs was the best part of my day. Anything to take away a few moments of mulling over what a disaster my life was. I didn’t think I was worth getting help, so many people I knew had much worse upbringings than me. They had something to complain about and I felt spoiled and didn’t even know what it was that was missing for me. I stopped talking to my old friends and found a group that I thought accepted me. They didn’t care how messed up I was, they were right there with me and we had partying in common. I ended up in very scary situations that I think back on now and am scared for the little girl I was. I thought I was a badass, and that I was an adult and could make my own decisions. I stopped talking to my parents and when I got kicked out I would crash where ever I could. Wearing the same clothes for 3 days in a row was the norm for me. Washing my hair was a luxury, but who had time to shower; I had 3 jobs and a drug habit to feed.

I had boyfriends come and go. They made me feel special until they got what they wanted and then I just felt crappy again. It was around this time that I thought I may be gay. I let guys use me, I think I was using them as well, to feel beautiful and wanted. I hated the thought of being gay, I didn’t want to accept it. I wanted to grow up and have a perfect “normal” life and have everyone think I was doing great.

My high school boyfriend came back into my life and knowing he wanted me to be a better person was enough to clean up my act. I didn’t feel like I was worth stopping for, I needed him to help me strive for a better life. We ended up getting engaged very quickly. Even though I was so young and was struggling with the thought that I may be gay I pushed those thoughts out of my head because it wasn’t what I wanted. I was terrified to talk about it with anyone, I told my fiancé that I thought I may be attracted to girls but I wasn’t going to act on it. I loved him, and wanted a life with him. He said it was something we could work on and that he thought we would be happy. I honestly thought I could swallow those feelings and be happy with him.

We got married but I knew from the beginning that it was going to be a struggle. Any new marriage is hard. But here we were, man and wife; all he wanted to do was love me and I wanted to love him back, but those feelings of dread were stronger than ever. I didn’t have drugs to numb the feelings anymore. I had to dwell on them. It was paralyzing. It felt like physical weights were on my head and neck and shoulders.  I remember sitting in our house unable to speak while my husband asked me what was wrong and what he could do to help. It was hopeless. I would try and smile and pretend like I was just having a hard day, but days turned into weeks and months and it just got worse and worse. I would cry every night knowing I had made a mistake. And the severity of the situation was too much for me to handle. This wasn’t going to be just a little break up. This was legal. This was marriage. This meant divorce.

I felt like I let down my husband, I felt like I let down my family. I grew up in a Christian household and was overwhelmed with thoughts that God hated me and hated the thoughts going on in my head. It’s hard to think about this time in my life now, it doesn’t seem like it was me. I had to make a decision whether I would suck it up and pretend like everything was ok and stay with a guy who loved me so much that I knew I would never be in love with, or I had to throw away everything, become a laughing stock and jump into a world that I didn’t know and frankly didn’t want to know. Being with my husband was hurting both of us. Even though he loved me, I felt so scared and awkward every time we were together. He started to resent me. We had lots of other problems, but the core issues were deafening. He was married; why didn’t his wife love him back? I didn’t know many gay people so I didn’t really have anyone to talk to.

One night we were screaming at each other after I had taken off for the weekend. He was driving us home and it was rainy, we were both crying and yelling so loud. I thought we were going to end up crashing, this was becoming unhealthy. We were either going to separate or end up hating each other. A lightbulb went off in my head; tonight was the night we had to decide what we were going to do. Enough beating a dead horse, I knew what I needed to do and he did too. We separated and everything happened so fast. I didn’t get to say goodbye to his family, we were just done. No closure. I had to tell my mum I was getting a divorce and I was gay in the same phone call.

Everyone had been a little shocked we got married so young, but us getting a divorce after a year and a half was even more shocking. I lost the “friend battle” and many of the people we hung out with sided with him. I was the lesbian that tricked him into marrying me after all. I felt guilty for years about that. I didn’t know what to label myself. I wanted to hide from everyone I knew. People thought because we were so young they could comment or ask whatever they wanted and I wouldn’t be offended. My life as I knew it ended in a matter of days. It was this time that I realized how dependent I was on my ex; I had no life skills as an adult. I had never paid bills or budgeted. I had a car to my name but that was about it. I was in a bit of debt after the divorce and I began a relationship with my job. My job was the only stable part of my life at this point.

A while later I fell in love.  I wanted to be around her every moment of every day. It was like nothing I had ever felt before. She was mine and I jumped in with both feet. My parents were appalled at first. I had asked my mum not to talk about the” gay part” of my situation.  Coming out to my dad on the phone included telling him I was dating a girl. His response “I don’t get it? Did you leave {my ex} for her?!” I was so excited about this new relationship, but this was instantly replaced with shame and fear. Was I just being naïve? Did I replace one shock-value relationship for another? Was this just a phase?

At first I tried so hard to be accepted by all my friends and family. I introduced my girlfriend to everyone. I didn’t care. This was love and I had found it and I was happy. My problems didn’t all go away by any means. I still struggled with anxiety and self-confidence issues. This will probably be a life-long battle. But I felt like I was part of a community that understood me. I was surrounding myself with people that didn’t look at me like a weirdo. I loved my new friends. There was still drama, but all friend groups have that. I started painting and that was an amazing outlet for my emotions.

I think when I finally admitted I was gay I thought my life would be perfect. It is NOT. I have had relationships flourish and crash down into the messiest of break ups. But I honestly know I have cared about people just as much as they cared about me. It wasn’t one-sided. I was able to be honest and open and cry out loud and have someone who understood what I was going through. I’ve done lots of things that I probably shouldn’t have done, but everything happens for a reason. And as stupid as this sounds; it DOES get better. When you leave high school and the microscope of everyone being judged and compared, and you realize the real world is about being an individual and standing up for what you know is true, it all seems so pointless to ever feel left out, or to worry about what other people think is weird or gross. I honestly can say now that I don’t care what people think about me being gay. I have told this to some people. I have bitten my tongue when I knew I may get in trouble (at work), but most of the time I am able to stand up for myself. Realizing I am gay has made me much more confident to state my point of view on many things, not just homosexuality. I know who I am, and I know that what I think matters.

So that was my little coming- out story. Here are a couple other things about my life:

Going to school and working: my life is insanely busy. I work and go to school at the same time. Right now school is part time, I’m a workaholic, but I tell myself that it isn’t going to always be this hectic, and I have a goal of finishing school so I can live comfortably and have the life I have always wanted without someone else supporting me financially. I actually know I don’t need a guy in my life to take care of me. My parents have come around so much since I first told them I was gay, I honestly think that a lot of their coldness at the beginning was just not knowing I would be okay. I am their little girl, and they probably had expectations for me to have a man support me and for me to not have to work so hard. They know I wanted a family one day, and I’m still trying to explain that its 2015 people! You don’t need a married man and woman to make a baby these days.

What inspires me; my friends, seeing people around me succeed, strong women who have taken life into their own hands and do what makes them happy, whether that’s owning their own business, getting a degree, raising children, or writing a cookbook (mandy! ;)  ) I have amazing friends who I can turn to when life sucks and other people let me down. I hope I am as good of a friend to them as they are to me.

Lifestyle; I’m old now; I’m so over the party life I was into as a teen/ early 20s. I go through phases but honestly “Netflix and chill” is my idea of a good night. I work a ton so late nights don’t usually happen. I love going over to Vancouver and visiting friends, I plan trips every year or so; my next one is going back to New York this year! I love painting and it helps me work through problems or have a new perspective on things.

What makes me happy; 5 things;
my dog, she is my baby, she has always been there for me and I can’t imagine life without her. My girlfriends always think I love her more than anyone, and that is probably true haha.
My nieces and nephews; watching them grow up makes my heart swell. I honestly just watch them and feel myself choking up with love. They are perfect.
Music; I have gotten through some days just because of certain songs. I always have very vivid memories associated to certain songs (this can be good OR bad).
My work; ya working sucks, but I honestly love what I do, I love educating people in dental health, and I cannot wait until I am a dental hygienist.
Where we live; I LOVE the ocean, I love being outside and going for walks or taking a blanket and a book to the park. We live in the most amazing place on Earth

Words used to describe me;
-moody; I would be lying if this wasn’t the first thing that came to mind, I can be kind of dark and grumpy a lot of the time
-guarded; just going through a lot of the things I went through; I find it hard to trust people when I first meet them, but If I do let someone into my “trust bubble” we are usually friends-for-life close
-hard-working; I am addicted to work, I have that type of personality that I don’t do things half-assed
-determined; if I want something (or someone haha) I do everything in my power to get it
-trustworthy; if something is important, I will keep it to my grave

Advice for others; if something feels wrong- just don’t do it. You don’t owe anyone an explanation. I’m not a parent; so I’m not going to nag, but if you have teens in your house, instead of forbidding them to do certain things, have frank and honest discussions of what is out there and what the consequences of some of those things are; I was very sheltered from stuff as a teen and it made me want to do certain things even more because it seemed like my parents were just saying no for the hell of it.
DON’T DO THINGS JUST BECAUSE OTHER PEOPLE WANT YOU TO. If you don’t want to go to a birthday party- keep your PJs on and stay in. If you don’t want to split the bill when everyone else had champagne and you had water; DON’T. If someone is trying to hook up with you and you’re not into it; TELL THEM TO EFF OFF. If you don’t want to do ANYTHING and someone is peer pressuring you, turn it on them and show them how lame they are being for begging you. They will probably realize, be embarrassed, and shut up pretty quickly.

Goals and dreams; be a hygienist, the day I get my diploma knowing that I put MYSELF through school while working full time will be a great day. I want to have a family, lots of pets, travel somewhere new every single year. Not get stuck in a rut. Try new food all the time. Always give myself time to read and paint; have another art show. I want to be proud of myself and my accomplishments, and if along the way my family and friends are proud of me that’s super cool too. 


Ricci and I have known each other since we were little kids. She was always such a cute little girl who had that spark, with so much energy! Ricci I reconnected when she moved back to Campbell River and got married to her husband Brian. We were pregnant at the same time and would go out for tea together and would chat about life; husbands, our hobbies, and pregnancy!

Ricci is so talented with photography, arts, and crafts. She is a wonderful mom and is such a cheerful friend. I am so happy to have her heartfelt, amazing story here. It’s such an inspirational journey because she’s proven that even though times may be tough, you can keep strong and keep being good person, just like she is! She’s so lovely I hope her story touches your heart, just like it's touched mine.

This is Ricci Miller’s Story

Ricci and her sister Kaihlee

So a bit about me... here goes, it’s quite a ride. My life has been all over the place, full of silly adventures and good times, but also full of worry, sadness, and fear. To put the past in a few short sentences here goes. I grew up in Campbell River, was fairly active, graduated, was married at 19...divorced at 22, then remarried at 23 to my loving husband Brian.

Our journey into a family started a few months after we were married. I had a miscarriage... completely devastated. Trusting that our God has a plan we knew there was a reason for it and talked about when we wanted to start for a family. I convinced Brian that sooner was better, especially since I had hard core baby fever now and nothing else could enter my mind but being pregnant. We agreed that around my 24th birthday we would start trying, but I wasn't pregnant, or so I thought, and was so sad. I also wanted a kitten then and Brian being so great, bought me one... two days later I found out I was having a baby. Life was made. I was pregnant and I had a kitty. Couldn't get any better!

So now I needed to find some professional care for myself during my pregnancy. I had heard about Teralee and her midwifery clinic and wanted to use a midwife. I had heard nothing but amazing stories and how much my friends all love their midwives. Brian was not so convinced. He knew nothing about midwives. What were their credentials, were the old wives tales true, did they just come out of the woods and take babies? haha just kidding but he wasn't ready to jump onto the midwife bandwagon like I was. Once we sat down and talked with Teralee he was right there with me and we were set. Midwife done.

February 25, 2013 we were going to meet our kid...the date soon changed to February 22. My pregnancy was a breeze. I felt great! I was gaining weight properly, no morning sickness. I basically slept away my first trimester. No real worries until our 19 week ultrasound. We learned our kiddo only had one kidney. Not a major concern at the time because you only need one kidney to live. Right around Christmas I noticed I was feeling swollen, my face felt huge, feet and ankles were enormous and I just felt huge. So Brian and I enjoyed our last Christmas and New Year’s kid free.

January 8 came... midwife appointment and that was our first road block. I was off work, done school and put on bedrest. Basically I was allowed to lay there all day and get up to pee or get a drink. Nothing else. After specialist appointments, non-stress tests, ultrasounds and such they found out babe wasn't growing...too small for how far along I was.

I was off to our first Victoria appointment. January 22, 2013 we stayed at my sister Kaihlee's house in Victoria. That night I didn't sleep and was anxious for our ultrasound. I remember very clearly Brian and I going to Starbucks across the street, ordering a chai tea latte and a bagel with cream cheese to try and calm my nerves. Then off to the hospital for our appointment. After possibly the longest hour ultrasound of my life the specialist said "You are having your baby today. I see a hole in the heart, a piece missing in the brain and only one kidney. Your baby is around 3lbs 2oz and your best bet of it (we didn't know we had a girl in there) living is to deliver now. Did you eat today?"

Both our worlds stopped. I felt time freeze and nothing else mattered. We met our surgeon then called our parents. The next few hours were horrible. I don't think I had experienced fear like that before. I was about to have surgery, then have a baby come with major complications... can we do it? Brian and I prayed and cried, well mostly I cried. Brian was a rock, he was so comforting and encouraging, a total protector.

Soon enough the time came. A nurse walked me to the OR alone... my knees almost gave out and I told her "I can't do this, I don't want to do this". She put her arms around my waist and held my hand and said "I will not leave your side." God placed that nurse in my life. He knew I needed her comforting words and gentleness. Before surgery I was told if our baby was ok they would hold her up before they started tests. If she was struggling they would just take her and do what they had to do for her. Surgery began and Brian was all scrubbed up and able to join me. Then it happened.

For 3 seconds they held her up. This tiny perfect baby who screamed so loud! It was the best thing I have ever seen and heard. In the recovery room I asked to see my mom and got to tell her I had a girl and her name is Emma Grace. It was so cool that my family was all there waiting for us, my parents, in-laws, sister, brother and his family, my little brother too. God is so good to us and gave us a super supportive family.

Finally I got to hold her, an hour after surgery I was able to hold the tiniest person I have ever laid eyes on. During Emma's month stay in the NICU we were surrounded with love. Family visited, co-workers sent card and care packages, kids from my daycare class sent cards, my midwife came to see us, my church sent flowers and encouragement of prayer, my neighbour sent an outfit, friends brought meals and visited.

I was also lucky enough that my best friend and sister lived in Victoria and could stay with me and visit me and Emma when Brian had to leave and go back home to work. we found out Emma had a cleft in her soft pallet and weak throat muscle which lead to her aspirating and choking a lot, but God had answered prayers and her heart and brain were perfect! So cool!

During Emma's first year we were back and forth to Victoria almost every 2 weeks. We met with ophthalmologist, ENT, SLP, swallowing clinics, dietitians, nutritionist, lactation specialist for me as i was pumping full time, plastic surgeon, pediatrician, dentist, physical therapists. It was a hard year, lots of hospital trips and ambulance rides, but through all the scares and hours and hours of pumping and travel for specialist appointment I knew one thing, God blessed Brian and I with a perfect girl, our tiny Emma Grace.

At 16 months Emma was healthy enough and big enough for her cleft repair surgery. It was horrible and I am so very thankful she will never ever remember what happened. But all the worries and scares aside we have had so much fun. Emma is a loving, silly girl. She loves to pretend to cook, have tea parties, play with Barbies, hide from people, do art, and play shooting with fake guns. Now as our daughter reaches 3 and thinking back on our time with her I know I have learned so much. How to be patient and to slow down in life. Appreciate health and simple things that come our way. One thing that has kept me positive is being thankful, thankful for the hard times and the blessing that have come from them. I know Brian and I couldn't have done this without our support networks.

 I love Ricci's story so much! I hope you do too. She's so brave and she's the happiest, loveliest, fun mom! Emma is so blessed to have such amazing parents! And Emma is just the sweetest :) Thanks again Ricci for sharing your amazing journey. You truly are inspirational!!


I'd like to introduce to you my smart, beautiful, and hilarious friend

Keegan Walker

I've known Keegan for over 13 years now. We met at the age of 17, and since then she's been traveling to the Island to visit our group of friends, all the way from Winnipeg!! 

I've loved Keegan's cheerful personality since day one. She is so thoughtful, fun, and up for anything. Such a blast to be around. She was one of my lovely bridesmaids at my wedding. I will always cherish all of my memories with her. 

Now I look forward to her cute Christmas cards (one year I got a drawing of my favourite childhood show Sailor Moon!), and seeing her snapchats, and catching up online. I can't wait for her to come back and visit every year!

Since I met her she has accomplished SO MANY awesome goals in fitness, her career, and more! I just had to ask her to be a part of this post. So thank you Keegan for accepting my request. Without further ado I give you Keegan's story.

I ate poorly in University.  I rarely prepared my own food. I would go to the gym a few times a week to do 20 minutes of cardio and lift 5-8 pound weights repeatedly.  I didn’t know it, but this wasn’t doing much for me at all.  A couple of years ago, I joined an eight-week boot camp and it came with a meal prep plan of clean food to prepare, portion, and eat throughout the weeks.  It sounded like a lot of work but I tried it and I haven’t looked back.  As for the workouts, I had previously thought that heavy lifting would lead to a bulky, masculine figure which was not my goal.  After some research, I learned that women do not naturally produce enough testosterone to grow muscles in that way so lifting heavy weights paired with low caloric intake just leads to a lean, muscular figure.  I am up to lifting 25-35 lbs free weights and near-bodyweight squats and I love the results that it has given me.

I studied computer science/software development in school.  I work in the Aerospace industry but have always had an interest in Healthcare.  I entered a competition in November 2014 called Hacking Health. The idea of the event was to bring Healthcare professionals together with Developers to come up with innovative technology to improve the industry.  I joined a Designer and a Physician to develop a prototype for a mobile application that helps Doctors determine which Preoperative tests a patient requires thus saving money and time on unnecessary testing.  Our pitch was evaluated against 10 others and awarded funding as the pitch with Most Commercial Potential.  We have since used the money to fund our start-up, LogixMD, and hope to release our first application soon.

I had really started to enjoy weightlifting but found that I would get very bored of cardio and usually cut it short in my workouts.  I wanted to do more but couldn't find the motivation.  I decided to sign up for the Winnipeg Police Service race so that I would have a reason to train.  I found a plan online and downloaded the MapMyRun app on my phone to keep track of my outdoor running progress.  When race day finally came, I ended up finishing 2nd place in my age category and felt great.  I have since competed in another run and plan to do more!

I try to follow a fairly steady routine.  On Sundays, I get fresh groceries and prepare meals and snacks for the upcoming week.  That way, I don’t have to worry about not having enough time to make something healthy to eat when I'm on the go.  I head to the gym every day after work and do about an hour of weight training/cardio.  I usually take Saturdays off and on Sundays, I play volleyball.  I'm realistic and know that I’ll eat some less-than-healthy meals from time to time but I try to save those for social outings and cool restaurants.

My exercise of choice is definitely team sports.  I have been playing competitive volleyball for 12 years and I love it so much that I don’t even notice how much work I'm doing.

Words used to describe me: Driven. Outgoing. Active. Creative.

Five things that make me happy:
 -  Music & dancing
 -  Being active 
 -  Laughing. And I have been told that my laugh makes others laugh so there is a lot of laughter in my life!
- Travelling and experiencing new places, people and cultures
- Activities with friends and family that inspire intellectual and creative thinking such as puzzles, art, music and games

Advice for others who want the same lifestyle
-  Preparing your meals and snacks for the week is a life-changer.  If you already have something healthy prepared and ready, it’s easier to say no to a fast-food option. 
-  Always set new goals.  Works towards longer runs, heavier weights, more reps, etc. 
 -  Drink water.  Lots of it.
-  Use the internet to your advantage.  There are so many great apps to track your food, fitness, and goals.  Also, get connected to like-minded people.  Follow a health blog or a fitness account on Instagram that shares recipes, exercises and motivational content.

I have a passion for technology and healthcare.  I hope to continue learning and being involved in the innovative life sciences and technology start-up communities. Hopefully, I will one day be able to contribute my skills to something big.  For my personal well-being, there are many health problems that cannot be predicted or controlled but I plan to do everything I can to keep a fit and healthy lifestyle to lessen my chances. There are also so many places left on my travel bucket list including Ireland, Italy, Amsterdam, Croatia, Japan, Hawaii and the Galapagos Islands!


Thanks for reading & please if you'd like to share 
the story of your journey email me at

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