live it active

Stay Tuned: Book Review on “When the Body Says No”

I have almost finished the book, When the Body Says No, by Gabor Mate (accent on the e) and I can’t say it was an easy read. It wasn’t the language or the reference to scientific literature, in fact his writing style was a huge highlight for me. It was the message.

I look forward to reviewing this book more thoroughly over the weekend. Stay tuned for the full review coming to theatres next week. 

Happy weekend! Do something that brings you peace. 





The Runner’s High – Why it exists, how it works, and who benefits

I run. Not fast or long, but I run. Not on my own, only with a person or two. If I’m on my own I have no one to talk to. 

Due to work commitments, my lunch-hour run was put on hold for two weeks. My mood plummeted. Thankfully, I was able to squeeze in a run on Tuesday and Wednesday of this week and plan to hit the pavement today. Not surprisingly, my mood has been elevated considerably. 

So am I addicted to the Runner’s High? I don’t know. I would have to do some serious biometric testing to truly know that, but the alteration in my mood suggests maybe. 

An article published in Science News in May, 2012 speaks to the evolution of exercise. It discusses the difference between animals evolved for endurance exercise (in this particular study they used dogs and humans) and animals not evolved for endurance exercise (the oh so wonderful house pet, the ferret). They took blood samples pre- and post-exercise to evaluate levels of endocanabinoids – the chemical released in the reward centre of the brain responsible for producing the Runner’s High. 

They found increased concentrations of the chemical in both dogs and humans, but not ferrets, following a brisk run (they didn’t specify what they defined as brisk). One of the researchers stated “These results suggest that natural selection may have been motivating higher rather than low-intensity activities in groups of mammals that evolved to engage in these types of aerobic activities”.  

Interesting, yes. So why aren’t more people running around at a high-intensity? Good question. 

The researcher states that sedentary people, those who do not engage in 30 minutes of physical activity per day, may not be able to achieve a high enough exercise intensity to receive the benefits of the endocanabinoids. There is hope, however. “He ( the researcher) is optimistic that inactive individuals can be helped to build up their exercise tolerance until they cross the threshold where they become motivated to exercise by endocanabinoids.” The challenge, we all have varying thresholds for particular chemical release and varying thresholds for pain tolerance. 

What I took away from this article? We can’t motivate people who are not regularly active with the promise of a Runner’s High right out of the gate. It’s false advertising and likely going to lead to distrust and perhaps a little bit of anger. As I prepare for facilitating another physical activity challenge this summer, I will most definitely be sharing this insight with participants. I don’t want anyone having the wrong idea when it comes to getting high the first day of exercise. 

I do know, however, that following a run, my energy, mood, and overall outlook are considerably better than pre-run. I hope to help other’s work towards achieving their own version of theImage Runner’s High this summer. 

Happy running or high-intensity exercising this weekend!


Wednesday Workout Tip: Run in the Rain

man running in the rainIt’s looking fairly gloomy outside. I have yet to venture out, but will definitely bring an umbrella.

Many may shy away from exercising outside when there is threatening or downright soggy weather. I say, go outside. Do your run. Enjoy the natural cooling effect. Added bonus, you get to feel and look super intense like this man on the right. Yeehaw.

You’ll come home and be rewarded with a hot shower and tea (or hot toddy). What a serious bonus.

I have a lunch run scheduled and plan to run rain or shine. While work in the afternoon makes this a bit more difficult, I refuse to let weather dictate my exercise routine.

Happy running in the rain (today, tomorrow, or any day)!


Wednesday Workout Tip: Try an Exercise Class with a DJ

Yesterday, I had my first exercise experience with a DJ. Not that I haven’t jumped and danced wildly in a club before, but this class had an actual DJ in the exercise studio. It’s not a regular thing at this club, but it should be.

The intensity of the music left me both deaf and full of adrenalin. The instructor was unbelievable, pushing me to work to my maximum, catching me when I was slacking off (a common event during high-intensity class).

My shoulders feel detached from my body this morning, but seeing as I’ve never actually had my shoulders detached from my body, I’m not sure if that’s how they feel. Basically they feel tight. My back hurts. I feel fatigued. I feel like I worked hard yesterday.

The gym, Elevated Fitness, located at 637 11th avenue SW offers a number of high-intensity cardio and weight classes.  I participated in Martial Arts Fitness + (the plus sign is not a mistake). There was punching with weights, but there was no kicking (and thank god, as I would have knocked out everyone around me…a lot of people in a small space with someone who doesn’t know what they’re doing is not a good idea). I’m seriously considering joining the club. That’s how good the class was.

While exercise class DJs are not a common thing, they should be. I hope this starts a new movement. If you’re an instructor you should recruit one for your next class. It honestly made the experience 100x more intense. That’s perhaps a slight exaggeration, but it was awesome. Everyone in the class also seemed VERY intense, which slightly scared me, but all in all, the class a keeper. Plus I can extend the truth and tell people I’m a martial artist…

Happy Wednesday!


P.S. The added bonus? I had the best sleep I’ve had in a long time.

“You can let it rule you, or you can rule it”

I said this line to my good friend last night during a wonderful catch-up conversation. She liked it. It resonated with her.

This quote has probably been said by someone before. If not, the concept is definitely not new. It can be related to almost anything, but I was using it to describe how we can either let our past rule us, or we rule it.

I’m someone who has let the past rule me. I let it rule me for almost 25 years. At age 25, after an 8-week mindfulness course, I decided no more.

Yet, this expression can be related to anything. Friends. Fear. Money. Jealousy. Sadness. Work. Stress. You name it, anything can lord over you, if you let it.

It’s important to remember that you’re in the driver’s seat. You make the last call. It’s up to you what and how you decide to do, respond, act, say. Not your partner. Not your mother-in-law. Not your friend. Not your boss. You and only you are in charge of you.

So why do we often let something or someone rule over us? I’m not sure. Perhaps it’s habit. Perhaps it’s a form of masochism. Perhaps we don’t think we’re deserving of freedom from the tyranny of our own thoughts. I honestly don’t know.

Whatever the reason, it needs to stop. The more something consumes you, the more it can take from you. The real you can get lost. Getting lost is not advised as finding yourself can take much painstaking time. So don’t lose yourself. Don’t let whatever it is continue to rule you. Break free.

Perhaps it’s worrying about what others think and not wanting to upset the apple cart. Perhaps it’s wanting to be everything to everyone. Perhaps it’s wanting to live the “perfect” life (whatever that is). Perhaps it’s wanting to be the expert when you’re still figuring it all out (hmmm, a little self-reflection here…not sure I’ll ever have it all figured out).

Whatever it is, leave it behind. Move forward. Stop. Turn whatever it is on its head and rule it.

Happy Ruling.



“You are your own best health advocate”

No, this information is not earth-shattering, but it’s important that we’re reminded about the role we play in our health.

This was said by Alex Jamieson, a once famous vegan (girlfriend of the guy who did Supersize Me), who has made a public return to meat. Check out her video (can’t embed the video as WordPress doesn’t allow Flash).

Jamieson provided advice to vegetarians, vegans, and raw food followers. She states that after her public return to meat, her “friends” were more concerned about what this dietary change would do to the vegan movement as opposed to her health.

I can’t say I’m surprised. Extremists are oftentimes blind to common sense. Thankfully, Jamieson listened and responded to her body’s needs. As she says, you’re your own best health advocate.

I’ve heard of a number of people having to give up their vegetarian or vegan status due to health concerns. We evolved to eat protein in the form of meat. And while meat was not always in abundance during our early man years, it was consumed when and wherever possible. Yes, berries and greens helped to tide us over, but there was nothing like meat to sate our appetite, improve energy, and prepare for the winter or another hunt.

I understand and appreciate that there are a number of plant proteins out there that are good for you (of which most I eat), but they’re not a substitute for meat. Who hasn’t had a craving for red meat at least once? I’m sure there are a rare few, but the majority of people I talk to (even some vegetarians) have felt the need to eat meat. It is my opinion that we should listen to that need.

In summary, you are your own health advocate. That’s the message Jamieson is trying to get across. She isn’t raging against vegans or meat eaters, she’s just taking care of her body and we should all do the same.

Happy Monday!



Mental Health Week comes to a close (well almost)

It’s Friday of Mental Health Week. It’s almost over…

I did manage to take pictures of the items, events, people that made my day brighter, but at the moment I am a little time crunched. I have posted a few pictures on Twitter (@liveitactive) so please feel free to check them out there! I also had the pleasure of hearing from a few followers about what they’ve done this week for their mental health. It made me happy to know that people were taking time for self care.

So did I stick to my promise? Yup.

Monday – Sat on the balcony after work, had a glass of wine, and read. How deliciously relaxing. The wind did tend to distract, but all in all, a lovely Monday evening.

Tuesday – I went for a run at work with my buddy. It was beautiful outside and we had a great chat. Yay for friends and exercise.

Wednesday – At noon hour, I took a stroll up to the Edmonton River Valley…no, I did not walk from Calgary (that would have taken a VERY long time). I was there for business and was given the gift of time and decided to take advantage of it.

Thursday – We supported Burger Week (fundraising initiative at various restaurants throughout Calgary for local charities). Two of my colleagues and I went and had a delicious meal in the sun.

Friday – Well, the day has yet to unfold, but I imagine going for drinks with my friend at the end of the day will definitely contribute to my well-being (not necessarily the alcohol, more the social support thing)>

As for the weekend, I don’t know. Perhaps a hike or relaxing on the balcony. I look forward to either.

If you’re up for it, share an event from your mental health week on the live it active Facebook page. or Tweet with me @liveitactive.

Here’s to your mental health.


What’s making your day brighter?

Perhaps the sun? The sun is definitely making my day brighter – literally and figuratively. It helps me find my way to work and makes me feel happier, healthier and energized. You rock, sun.

But all joking aside, what’s making your day brighter (other than the sun)?

If you’re game, I encourage you to share what’s making your day brighter on the new live it active Facebook page (yes, I finally caved and created one) – You can share a picture, a comment, or even a video. It goes without saying, please make sure it’s appropriate.

Mental health week is coming to a close, but that doesn’t mean you should stop taking time for you or caring for your mental health. It just means the media attention will die down and thus, there will be fewer reminders.

I encourage you to make a weekly / monthly schedule and find time for your mental health. I’d do it before the end of the week. Perhaps a trip to the spa? A full-day hike? A baseball game? A night out with friends? An hour of alone time? A snuggly morning with your babies (whether they be human or animal)? Schedule the time in your agenda. I know it may seem silly at first, but it takes time to form a habit. And I want your mental health care to become a habit.

If you reside in the lovely city of Calgary, you may catch me this morning on CityTV breakfast television talking about stress management in the workplace. If you’re on Twitter, come and and tweet with me tomorrow as I share more tips on how to better manage stress. @cmhacalgary #mymentalhealth (you’ve got to the use the hashtag for me to answer the questions)!

Happy Thursday!



What are you doing for your mental health this week?

Everyday this week I am going to take a picture of something I do for my mental health. I’m going to post each picture at the end of the week along with the corresponding story.

Would you, my amazing readers, be willing to do the same? And if you do, would you be willing to share via my blog what you’ve done for your mental health this week?

If so, please send me an email at or post a comment on the blog.

I’d love to know what you’re doing for your mental health this week!


It’s Mental Health Week

Today marks the first day of Mental Health Week. It’s an annual week dedicated to raising awareness about the importance of mental health.

I’m kicking it off by handing out postcards to unsuspecting C-train users (subway in Calgary). The postcard provides tips on how to take better care of one’s mental health. We (a team of 8 CMHA staff, I believe) will encourage postcard recipients to send it to someone they care about, someone who they think should take time this week (and every week) for their mental health.

The Canadian Mental Health Association is also participating in a daily live Twitter chat from noon to mid-afternoon (don’t quote me on the timing). I will be tweeting on Friday on the importance of stress management. Please come and tweet with me!

In honour of your mental health, I encourage you to take 5 to 10 minutes sometime this week to think about what brings you joy, peace, and happiness. What makes you feel good? What makes you feel bad? Can you increase the good and reduce the bad? If the bad is not removable, what can you do to make it better?

And when you figure out what it is that brings you happiness, joy, and peace, go out and do it (within reason, I don’t want you going on a wild shopping spree and blaming it on this blog). If it’s going for a walk with a friend, do it. If it’s eating an ice cream cone, do it. If it’s playing video games for a night (like all night), do it. I feel like I’m writing a Nike commercial without the sports…but you get the picture.

I kicked mental health week off yesterday with a hike. It was challenging, but my goodness was it rewarding. I felt happy, joy, and great peace. This week I hope to go for a few runs, get an ice cream cone from the best place in town, go for wine with friends, watch Alias, and engage in some mindfulness meditation. What will you do for yourself?

Happy Mental Health Week!


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