Since I began writing about how my move to the healthy living environment of Bondi Beach sparked a lifestyle change I’ve received comments from readers sharing that there is an increased focus on health and wellness where they live too. Over the next few months I will be writing a series of posts interviewing bloggers from around the globe about what the emerging trends are where they live, in addition to getting their take on what it means to live a healthy life.
First up is Janelle from Wholly Healthy who lives in British Columbia, Canada. Janelle’s approach is holistic and one that doesn’t believe in being 100% “healthy” all of the time. She tells us about the current food and exercise trends in Vancouver and speaks candidly about how she motivates herself to exercise despite the challenges presented by anxiety and chronic illness.
What in your opinion are the biggest food trends in Vancouver / British Columbia currently?
I feel like Vancouver is always on top of the latest health food trends! I’ve seen a real emphasis on vegan and raw foods. I’ve also seen a stress on eating local, whether it be local produce or supporting small businesses.
What about exercise trends?
Since the weather here is usually mild all year round, outdoor exercise is really popular! It’s very common to see a group of people out running or cycling, especially on the weekends. Hiking and stair climbs like the Grouse Grind are popular as well. In terms of indoor exercise, I see plenty of yoga and Pilates studios! There’s even a yoga studio in my hometown that puts on a free running group each weekend followed by a restorative yoga flow.
Would you say that people in Vancouver / BC have a growing focus on living healthily?
Yes! I think people are becoming more and more aware of the benefits of fueling your body properly and taking care of yourself. There’s a pretty big older population where I live and there are Senior’s Community Parks with free exercise equipment, which I think is awesome. There seems to be so much more diversity in what is offered, and it isn’t “one size fits all”. It’s great to me to see people of all different ages, fitness levels, and personal preferences getting out there and moving their body.
You say that you don’t believe in perfect. Can you elaborate on what that means to you?
Not only is it extremely difficult to be 100% “healthy”, I don’t think it’s good for you to be completely focused on eating and doing the “right” things. While I do often opt for more nutritious treats, I really try to listen to my body and what it wants. If I’m really craving something, I’ll have it and enjoy it without feeling any guilt. I also really hate labeling things as “healthy” or “unhealthy”. We’re all different, and can have different needs from one day to the next. Health is supposed to be about taking care of yourself and nourishing your body, not restricting yourself.
Not only is it extremely difficult to be 100% “healthy”, I don’t think it’s good for you to be completely focused on eating and doing the “right” things.
You have a keen interest in the psychology of motivation. What do you think are the biggest motivational drivers that lead people to make big changes to diet and physical activity levels?
I think there are a variety of things that motivate people, but I really believe that we limit ourselves by thinking that we just aren’t that person who is health-crazed. But the truth is, nobody was born running or lifting weights. If you look at it as a lifestyle rather than a short-term way to lose some weight or tone up, then you’re going to be much more balanced. For example, I have always been someone who carries a little bit of extra weight and I used to hate gym class because I didn’t feel like I was naturally athletic. Now, I’m someone who runs about three times a week and feels so empowered by it, no matter how slow or fast I might go that day. I think that by putting yourself in a box as someone who loves health or someone who doesn’t care you’re limiting yourself. It’s all about lifestyle!
The truth is, nobody was born running or lifting weights. If you look at it as a lifestyle rather than a short-term way to lose some weight or tone up, then you’re going to be much more balanced.
What in your personal experience is the biggest blocker to leading the healthful life that you want to lead and how do you try and overcome that?
I would say my issues with anxiety and chronic illness. Due to hypothyroidism, I tend to experience a lot of fatigue and sometimes my joints will feel achy, or I’ll feel generally unwell. On these days, I just want to rest. But, I know that I’ll often feel better after I’ve exercised. Even if it doesn’t improve my well-being, then at least I feel accomplished knowing that I got it in.
I try to combat this by making exercise a routine. I’ll workout at the same time each day, and it’s just become something that I do. If I’m having an off day, I’ll try to listen to my body and what it feels like doing. Sometimes that means I do something less intense, which I’m fine with because I know I’m still getting benefits. Just taking that first step is always the hardest.
A key subject covered by your blog is mental health. How important is a focus on mental health to overall wellness? Why do you think this area is less talked about than diet and exercise?
I think it is so important! For people who have mental health issues like myself or who experience stress, getting good nutrition and exercise is can be really helpful in managing the symptoms you experience. I think that mental health is talked about less than diet and exercise because it is often intangible. For example, we can measure exactly what vitamins a particular food contains or we can prove that running increases your endurance, but determining how stressed someone is is subjective. It can be hard to talk about because everyone’s experiences are different. I also think that people feel shame when they are frazzled or experiencing symptoms like depression or anxiety. We’re somehow expected to have control over how we feel mentally, but it really is like a physical illness that we can’t control. Mental health issues can quickly become an invisible illness and lead to the individual feeling even more isolated than they already are. In reality, so many people experience issues with their mental health, and I think talking about it should be a priority.
I also think that people feel shame when they are frazzled or experiencing symptoms like depression or anxiety. We’re somehow expected to have control over how we feel mentally, but it really is like a physical illness that we can’t control.
What’s your favourite go to healthy snack?
Since I’m a student, work from home, and am also starting my own business, I love having a snack that is easy to grab! I usually reach for KIND Bars or Larabars. I love that they’re made with whole ingredients and have a great mix of fibre, protein, and healthy fats, but pretty much taste like dessert.
If you want to exercise but are low on energy, what routine do you chose?
It depends! If I don’t feel like jumping around a lot, I often will choose a low-impact routine like barre or a yoga fusion. I absolutely love Jillian Michael’s Yoga Inferno – it’s a really challenging workout, but I find the fact that it incorporates yoga to be really appealing. If I feel like I could use a pick-me-up, I’ll opt for POUND, which is a drumming inspired workout set to killer music that always gets me going, plus all that drumming helps you get aggression out if that’s what you need. I also love the Tone It Up girls – they have a bunch of free workouts on Youtube that are fairly short, so you can mix and match all you want – I typically stick to abs or booty workouts if I’m feeling tired because you can often do those laying down! I also love the Beach Ball workout on their Beach Babe 3 DVD – it’s only 25 minutes but works the total body.