Monday, 18 February 2013

Here Comes Progress!

This has been a fantastic week for the Strong Free Happy (SFH) tour across Canada!

First and most importantly, the SFH tour is already doing what I want it to - sparking conversation and encouraging exercise. Already, people are sharing stories of how exercise has helped them keep their mental health or get through periods of depression. I can see them realize that they're not as alone as they thought they were and that it's safe - even helpful - to talk about these issues they had/have and quite possibly hid. I'm realizing the same. Mind you, it's still not easy to talk about such personal matters.  However, these types of conversations undoubtedly foster a deeper connection between people, a stronger support network and a realization that we are in fact human - resilient and perfect in our imperfection. Others have come to me with plans to join the tour! This is fantastic as it means they: support the cause, will spend some quality time with me (I'm always up for making new friends/getting to know people better), AND will need to train thus will be increasing their physical activity level.

To those who would like to come along:
Thank you! This is a great opportunity for everyone involved and I'm glad you chose to jump on it! In order to make the best of it, I think it's fair of me to ask the following of you:
i)Cover your own costs and take responsibility for your own safety and nutrition
ii)Have a back-up lodging plan (route with dates coming soon)
iii)Fill out an info form about why you want to do it, what you bring to the team and obstacles you may encounter/how to deal with it (form to come)
iv)Have a training schedule and successfully complete a practice road trip (details to come)
v) Either fund raise $500 for mental health or donate 5h/wk to help make the Strong, Free and Happy tour across Canada the best it can be.
I will definitely help you with your training plan and will share resources I find regarding the other expectations.

My progress:
This week, I planned my route once again (something tells me this will be a lasting process), did up a more detailed training schedule, visited a ND re: nutrition, spoke with a representative from our local Centre for Addictions and Mental Health, and got the Ok from my summer employer to take the time off work.

My training schedule and journal can be viewed on my training blog. The link is on the list of Useful Resources. I decided to create a whole new blog for this because I want the blog you're reading right now to have easily accessible information about the SFH tour and Mental Health. The kinsiologist in me doesn't want to compromise training details so they will be available on at
After experimenting for a couple years with how my body reacts to different foods, I still had come unanswered questions so I did a food sensitivity test. It turns out I'm sensitive to wheat, eggs and dairy. This somewhat limits my nutritional choices. With the volume of training I'm doing, I need to be sure to get enough calories and nutrients so I got some expert advice. My ND recommended some fuel sources that should work well in my body and that travel well. (I feel a bit like a humble farm truck on premium fuel but hey . . . whatever works. At least I'm not spilling it anymore!)
Susan Roach, from our local Centre for Addictions and Mental Health, does a lot of work in the area to coordinate resources for people in our community that are suffering/have suffered from mental illness. One of the campaigns she worked on, Minding Our Bodies, shares that goal of helping people become more active in the hope that that will in turn also help their mental health. This is a prime example of a sustainable way to promote exercise as an intervention to maintain mental health and promote recovery from mental illness. I would like to see my efforts contribute to something like that nation wide and have scheduled a meeting with her to help make that happen.
 (Sidenote: As I mentioned. Susan is from the Centre for Addictions and Mental Health. This is different from the Canadian Mental Health Association. It can be tricky to understand the relationships between different mental health organizations as they often work together but play different roles and have slightly different visions/missions. With regards to fundraising, I am no longer sure which organization to target since CMHA has not been very responsive but CAMH is provincial not national. Either way, funds will be going to something that is responsible for a sustainable change that promotes mental health/recovery from mental illness through exercise.)
Last summer, I worked part time as a zipline tour guide and teamwork facilitator at Long Point Eco Adventures. This only deepened my love for Norfolk County. I feel much more at ease about taking time off for the Strong, Free and Happy tour after speaking my manager there. We discussed timelines etc and he assured me that I still have a job and have his personal support. Hopefully this is the first of many shout-outs to LPEA.

Coming Up:
One goal for next week is to eat more regular meals. This means planning and cooking  ahead of time if needed so I don't have to settle for beef jerky, Gatorade and raw veggies for dinner. (Which I sometimes do when I'm really busy.) I don't see much wrong with those food choices but it's  more relaxing to have a home-cooked dinner. Plus I'm sure I'll get enough beef jerky and Gatorade this summer! (Note to self: approach Gatorade for sponsorship!)
My second goal is to stick to my training regime. This will be tricky because it's a busy week but it's a priority. I also need to make appointments to get checked out medically (ie get a physical. Horray.)

This is going to be the first of many weeks of meeting too I think. Today, I'll be speaking with a young woman who may be joining me for the whole time. Tomorrow I'll be chatting with Dennis, a Western Kin grad who also bikes across Canada. Hopefully he can give me some training tips, an idea of terrain and safety hazards to beware of. Thursday I'll meet with Sue R about mental health contacts across Canada and with Kelly about the potential concert.

 I've encountered some criticism for putting so much into this rather than establishing myself financially (a month off work plus all the hours for preparation amounts to quite a large chunk anyone, let alone a new grad) or relaxing. I know I can make a difference in the area without a lot of the sacrifice but this is something that I - along with others who are joining me -  have always wanted to do, it's an important message, it's a fun and challenging opportunity, and it's probably the best timing I'll ever get. I am aware that my heart is almost permanently fixated to my sleeve and so I'll end up throwing a lot of energy and passion into it. That can be dangerous because it leaves me vulnerable but it's how I want to live. That said, I have priorities and plan to keep them straight. For example, I need to work, I need to get ready for school in Sept, I plan on keeping close friends close, and family time is a must. I have varying levels of family support/understanding and appreciate it. Ryan and Lisa, thank you for your encouragement. It means a lot. Love you.

Better get at it ;)


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