Category Archives: Health

New West is a Healthy Community – My Health My Community Survey

Neighbours600x600When most people think about being healthy, they think of eating better, exercising more and not smoking.  Sure, of course all those individual behaviours have a huge impact on health, but you’ve probably also realized that our environment plays as important a role too.

Fraser Health, as has the Ministry of Health with its “healthier communities” focus, recognizes that where we work, live and play largely determines whether or not we are healthy.  However, the lion’s share of Fraser Health business, is about providing health care services – what to do when people get sick.  A very small percentage is devoted to prevention and promotion.  Yes, FH does immunizations and such at the Public Health Unit, but over the past few years FH has quietly taken a new approach – Healthier Community Partnerships.  The idea – that by working with the City of New Westminster, SD 40 and other community stakeholders – policies and initiatives outside of the traditional public health bag of tricks can be implemented to help improve the health of the citizens of New West.  Hence health is playing a more active role when it comes to issues like transportation, or community planning, just two examples where health is severely impacted by decisions being made.

A Healthier Community Partnership committee has been up and running for over a year, chaired by the City Social Planner and with representation from a Councillor, SD Trustee, City/School District/FH staff, Fraser Northwest Division of Family Practice, members of the public and others.  More and more you will be hearing what this committee has been up to.

One of the initiatives currently happening is the My Health My Community Survey.  Open to all residents 18 yrs and older in the Fraser and Vancouver Coastal health areas, it seeks to gather information about issues that influence our health, such as transportation, community services, green spaces, and sense of community.

This information will be used to inform policy and programs to help make New Westminster a healthier community.  In order to plan for a healthier city, we need to know where we’re at and get a sense of where else we need to go.

Confidentiality is a priority – survey answers and identifying information will be kept on separate computer systems complete with data encryption.  We are encouraging everyone to take the survey, as the more responses we have, the better we can assess and plan for a healthier New Westminster.

If you are 18 yrs or older, please take the survey at:  And yes, there are prizes to be won for participating, including iPads and gift certificates.





Boucher Institute of Naturopathic Medicine: Keeping a Medicinal Garden at Westminster Pier Park

File this under “who knew?”: Western Canada’s only accredited naturopathic school is right here in New Westminster.

The Boucher Institute of Naturopathic Medicine, located at 435 Columbia Street is a graduate-level naturopathic medical college. Students applying require a university bachelor’s degree from a recognized post-secondary institution, or the equivalent and once accepted are entered into a rigorous four-year, full-time doctor of naturopathic medicine program.

The school is also home to the Boucher Naturopathic Medical Clinic. Much like the student massage clinic at West Coast College of Massage Therapy a few doors away, this teaching clinic offers high quality, affordable health-care to the public, while equipping our senior clinic interns with essential hands-on experience.

They are also the tenders of a public garden initiative at the Westminster Pier Park. Bill Reynolds, the Store Manager for the Boucher Institute told us about his recent day of gardening at their plot in the Park:

The day dawned bright with promise as we gathered at the Boucher Botanical Garden in Westminster Pier Park on April 28th, the last weekend in April.  Armed with shovels, rakes, hoes, brooms, watering pales and other requisite gardening tools; members of the Botanical Garden Committee met and proceeded with the task of the day which was the planting of our Garden.

Everything went well.  The garden plot provided by the New Westminster Park Dept. was fresh and had no weeds so, with many hands, the work simply flew and well before noon we had planted every herb available, raked the ground smooth, swept the adjacent sidewalks and then stood for a few minutes, finishing the last bits of our coffee and admiring our work.

The Boucher Botanical has been a dream of the students for quite some time and so it is especially gratifying to see it become a reality.  To date we have planted: Lemon balm, St. John’s Wort, Thyme, Sage, Lavender, Motherwort, Raspberry, Celandine, Marshmallow Comfrey, and Skull cap.  We expect to add a few more plants in the next month or so but now the job is to keep everything watered and weeded.  We want to invite all to come and visit our garden.  Westminster Pier Park borders the Fraser River just east of New Westminster Quay.  We hope you all enjoy and we will post pictures to show the progress of our plants over the spring and summer.


Dumped Mattresses KVT Photography

Show Your Love for the Fraser River: Join the New West Shoreline Cleanup

The Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup™ is an annual event that helps keep our oceans, rivers, and lakes healthy. People from all across Canada join in to remove the human-made litter and garbage that was either dumped or accidently deposited into our water systems.

This year on Sunday, Sept 23, the South Dyke Road Riverfront Cleanup—to register, click on the link— will launch the beginning of New Westminster’s RiverFest, an art and environmental festival inspired by the Fraser River.

The Cleanup is a family friendly event, open to everyone who welcomes taking care of our shoreline. And this year, participants can show their love for the shoreline in a few different ways.

Previously Non-Recyclable Items

Throughout Canada, waste from cigarettes remains the top cleanup item collected. Last year approximately 350,000 were removed from our shorelines. This year—for the first time—all cigarette butts picked up from the New West cleanup will be sent to TerraCycle, a company that specializes in recycling previously non-recyclable items, such as pens, inkjet cartridges, and Tassimo coffee, tea, espresso, milk and hot chocolate T Discs.

In New Westminster, Nestlé candy wrappers and empty containers from Garnier® personal care and beauty products can be taken directly to London Drugs. TerraCycle Canada will then recycle these items into park benches, waste bins and more!

Styrofoam, another previously non-recycled item, was also one of the top items collected at last year’s cleanup. This year, with the launch of Styrofoam collection at the New Westminster Recycling Depot, other recyclable items collected during the cleanup, including Styrofoam and paint cans, will be picked up by the City Of New Westminster for recycling.

Removing litter, however, is just one way that participants can show their love for our shoreline.

Invasive Plant Pull

Kids and adults can also take part in an invasive plant pull of non-toxic plants.

This year participants can take part in removing holly, Lamium, morning glory, purple loosestrife, Scotch broom, and another patch of English ivy—check out the photo from last year’s plant pull.

Plants are considered invasive for a few reasons. One reason is because people or animals have brought them from their original natural habitat to a different one. These non-native plants become invasive depending on their adaptability—how quickly they can grow and multiply in the new habitat.

When non-native plants grow quickly, they take over and force native plants from their home. They rob them of their space, sunlight, water, and nutrients. Over time, these invasive plants change and damage the conditions of the natural habitat. For these reasons, invasive plants are carefully removed to not spread their seeds or other plant parts that can regrow from special habitats like—our Fraser River shoreline.*(Definition from For Peat’s Sake: The Story of Burns Bog, available at the NWPL)

For those of us who love the taste of blackberries, it can be hard to learn that the Himalayan blackberry is considered an invasive plant (Invasive Species Council of British Columbia). It’s dense thicket and thorny stems can be hazardous to humans and animals alike. The plant can also out-compete native shrubs with deep roots that can provide stability along the shoreline. To minimize the hazard of the plant’s long shoots, Jennifer Lukianchuk, Environmental Coordinator from the City of New Westminster, and Cindy Sale, Communication and Events Coordinator from the Fraser River Discovery Centre, are going to show their love for the shoreline by putting on safety equipment to prune off some of the more exposed shoots.

South Dyke Road Riverfront Cleanup and Invasive Plant Pull

The Shoreline Cleanup starts from 9:30 AM at the pier at Suzuki Street and S Dyke Road in Queensborough, New Westminster. Participants under 19 are welcome but must attend with their parent or guardian or bring the signed waiver with them. Waivers can be printed off the website.

Please bring boots that can get muddy and wear pants to protect yourself from the shrubs that grow nearby. Bring either a pen to help with data collection or tongs (some will be supplied by the City) to pick up litter, and snacks and water for yourself.

The South Dyke Road Riverfront Cleanup is organized by New Westminster Environmental Partners (NWEP) in partnership with the City of New Westminster and Fraser River Discover Centre.


Help available for families of kids with special needs in New Westminster

For families with kids with special needs, help is available.

For families with kids with special needs, help is available. Thanks to help from New Westminster's Public Health services and the New Westminster Children's Centre, Linda's son is a happy and well-adjusted three-year-old.

I moved to New Westminster in December of 2008, when my older son was just three months old. I didn’t know at the time that I was mom to a child with special needs. Luckily, there are many resources here in New West for my son and our family. I want to share my experiences with you, so that if you have concerns about your child’s development, you’ll know that there are people here who can help. Because I didn’t know. Not at first.

From the time that he was born, my son was different from other babies. He cried constantly, rarely slept for more than half an hour at a time and had problems with feeding. As he got older, he hit many milestones early, but he had no interest in learning to talk. He also avoided eye contact, he melted down during story time at the library and the concept of pointing eluded him. I started taking him to doctors, but couldn’t seem to get anywhere.

When he was 19 months old, his little brother was born. When I took the baby to visit the Public Health Nurse at the Public Health Unit, I mentioned the concerns I had about my older child. She listened with empathy and then, in a move that forever improved the life of my firstborn, she referred him to the Fraser Health Speech and Hearing Clinic and to the Infant Development Program at the New Westminster Children’s Centre.

The Speech and Hearing Clinic warned me that the waitlist for treatment was nearly a year long, but an assessment could be arranged fairly quickly. It was during the assessment that, for the first time, someone else echoed what I had secretly suspected for months. The Speech Pathologist noticed that my son was displaying many symptoms associated with autism.

The Infant Development Consultant contacted me within a few days as well and immediately set up a home appointment to do an assessment. She arrived with no judgment about my unwashed dishes or piles of laundry. She enquired about the challenges my son and I faced, made observations, interacted with him in a variety of activities and took pages of notes. She pointed out several areas where he was not only meeting developmental expectations, but exceeding them. However, it was clear that he was dramatically developmentally delayed and immediate intervention was needed.
Our Infant Development Consultant came to our home regularly. She gave me easy, accessible activities to do with my son to try to coax him out of his world and into ours. She arranged for play dates at the Children’s Centre with other kids, referred him to occupational therapy and got him seen by a physical therapist.

The official diagnosis of autism came just before my son’s third birthday. A ‘Child and Youth with Special Needs’ Social Worker from the Ministry of Children and Families, located at the Children’s Centre, came to my home during nap time and helped guide me through the daunting task of filling out government forms and selecting appropriate therapy. When a clerical error at the funding unit in Victoria caused delays, she intervened and had the problem resolved immediately.

Around the same time, my son graduated from Infant Development and began working with a Supported Child Development Consultant. She helped find him a spot at a wonderful daycare and arranged for funding for a support worker to help him with the daily challenges he faces.

Because of the many resources that are available here in New Westminster, my son is a happy and well-adjusted three-year-old. His advanced understanding of letters and numbers leaves me in awe and he is now learning to interact with his peers and the world. Because of the support he gets, I no longer fear for his future. It’s looking brighter every day.

The New Westminster Children’s Centre is located at 811 Royal Avenue. They take referrals not just from medical professionals, but from parents themselves. If you have concerns about your child’s development, call them at 604.521.8078 local 318 and ask for either Infant Development (0-3 years) or Supported Child Development (3+ years). They will help you determine if your child meets the criteria to be eligible for services.


Meet Peter Ladner: February 4th

As most of you know, I’ve been involved with the Royal City Farmers Market since 2009 and I’ve developed an interest in urban agriculture. We have two hens now producing all the eggs we need to feed our family of three, and after a totally engaging talk at the RCFM AGM from John Gibeau last week, I’m pretty convinced we need a home bee hive to start producing our own honey. I’ve started consuming some really great books to help me get the most out of my city lot here in New Westminster because while food feeds my belly, books feed my brain.

The Urban Food Revolution: Changing the Way We Feed Cities, by Peter Ladner, a former Vancouver City Councillor, is a book on my to-read list. I’ve been told by a few friends that it is a great book, and I’m looking forward to getting into it.


From the publisher’s website:
Our reliance on industrial agriculture has resulted in a food supply riddled with hidden environmental, economic and health care costs and beset by rising food prices. With only a handful of corporations responsible for the lion’s share of the food on our supermarket shelves, we are incredibly vulnerable to supply chain disruption.

The Urban Food Revolution provides a recipe for community food security based on leading innovations across North America. The author draws on his political and business experience to show that we have all the necessary ingredients to ensure that local, fresh sustainable food is affordable and widely available. He describes how cities are bringing food production home by:

  • Growing community through neighbourhood gardening, cooking and composting programs
  • Rebuilding local food processing, storage and distribution systems
  • Investing in farmers markets and community supported agriculture
  • Reducing obesity through local fresh food initiatives in schools, colleges and universities.
  • Ending inner-city food deserts

Producing food locally makes people healthier, alleviates poverty, creates jobs, and makes cities safer and more beautiful.The Urban Food Revolution is an essential resource for anyone who has lost confidence in the global industrial food system and wants practical advice on how to join the local food revolution.

Sounds great, right? River Market is presenting Peter Ladner during the RCFM February winter market this coming Saturday. You can pick up a copy of his book and have it signed, and listen to Peter Ladner speak. The book signing is from 1-2pm and the talk starts at 3pm. Both take place inside Wild Rice. I know I’ll be timing my lunch break to take advantage of this opportunity!


Women ‘Kick the *&%! Out of Cancer’ at 30 Minute Hit

New Westminster women are raising money for cancer, one 'hit' at a time.

New Westminster women are raising money for cancer, one 'hit' at a time. Women at 30 Minute Hit locations in North America are fundraising for cancer research. There is also an upcoming pub night fundraiser, 4-7pm on Sunday October 23rd, 2011 at The Dublin Castle. For a mere $20.00 (all proceeds donated) you get a juicy burger, crispy fries, and your choice of a beer/wine/highball.

For the ladies at New Westminster’s 30 Minute Hit the process of kicking, punching, kneeing, and helping fight cancer has been just as liberating and empowering as you might imagine.

A group of dedicated women from each of the twenty-three North American 30-Minute-Hit locations is participating in the KICK THE *&%! OUT OF CANCER event. They have pledged to “hit” (complete the kickboxing workout) a certain number of times during the month of October in exchange for donations to the British Columbian Cancer Foundation! They are collecting these donations from their friends, family, coworkers and people on the street while they’re kicking and punching their hearts out. The event is called “30-Minute-Hit, Kicking the *&%! Out of Cancer” and as Stacey Firth, one of the co-owners of the New Westminster Hit location, quips “the name makes total sense when you remember we are a kickboxing gym!”

Stacey Firth’s New Westminster location signed on to participate in the event, and a group of more than 52 women have come together to support a cause near and dear to their hearts. Stacey beams with pride as she recounts how her ‘Hitters’ have come together. “Its super special when you think about it. A group of women fighting for each other, fighting for any and every women affected by cancer. It’s so cool to look out at the workout floor and see it full of girls sporting their pink team t-shirts and working so hard to reach their goals. I took the time to read through each of their stories on their personal fundraising pages and I was so touched. It’s just really wonderful.”

This event goes beyond just the basic intention of fundraising though. It motivates and encourages the women participating to be healthier versions of themselves. It provides them with a proverbial kick-in-the-butt to take their health more seriously.

The medical community unanimously agrees that daily physical activity is vital for over all heath. There is also compelling research that shows 30 minutes of activity 3 times a week (or more) significantly reduces the risk of ovarian, breast, and uterine cancers (as well as colon and prostate). The 30-Minute-Hit kickboxing circuit supports these activity goals, and the 30-Minute-Hit lifestyle keeps you coming back for more! Stacey boasts “30-Minute-Hit is not only a fantastic workout in 30 minutes, it’s a community. Women come together, get to know each other, and become strong empowered women together. In 30 minutes, they work up a sweat like nowhere else but they also get to shut out the world and put themselves and their health first! Anyone can find 30 minutes in their day to get a GREAT workout in, meet amazing women and become part of something special. Health should not be an option.”

The Minister of Health projects more than 23,000 British Columbians will be newly diagnosed with cancer this year with more than 40% of these diagnosed patients being women. By 2024 it is estimated that there will be more than 33,000 new diagnosis made yearly. A terrifying prospect indeed, but one we have the power to change.

Support the New Westminster ‘Hitters’ by donating and helping them KICKTHE *&%! OUT OF CANCER. Their fundraising goal of $5,000 was quickly met and they have increased their goal to $10,000. To date they have raised $8,817.13 though online donations, and over $600.00 with their additional fundraising efforts for a total of more than $9,400.00.

To help in the fight against cancer, and to support the commitment of local New Westminster’s you have two options.

First of all, you can donate online. Or, for a more delicious option, you can purchase a ticket for the upcoming pub night fundraiser, 4-7pm on Sunday October 23rd, 2011 at The Dublin Castle. For a mere $20.00 (all proceeds donated) you get a juicy burger, crispy fries, and your choice of a beer/wine/highball. There will also be a toonie-toss and 50-50 draw for you pub night traditionalists. The Dublin Castle Pub is located at 101 – 319 Governors Court New West (the old Penitentiary). If you haven’t been to the Dublin Castle Pub yet, this fundraiser gives you the opportunity to support two local businesses and fill up your Karma-bank two fold!

For tickets Call 604-521-5913 or email Tickets will also be available at the door. On Facebook? Check out the event at


New West Public Health Unit is moving uptown May 2

Just an FYI for parents of babies & toddlers and other regulars at the public health office: the New Westminster Public Health Unit is relocating to Uptown from its current home at 537 Carnarvon.

As of May 2 the public health nurses will be offering vaccinations and other services at 218-610 Sixth St. The phone number will remain the same, 604-777-6740. I just thought I’d pass on the news because I know I’d automatically head down to the old office for my kids’ next vaccinations if I hadn’t heard the news!

Here’s a map showing the new location:

View Larger Map


Kids’ Activities in the Summer

The Early Childhood Development Committee (for children ages 0-6) and the Middle Childhood Development Committee (6-12) are looking for input for their upcoming Summer Activity Guide. Do you have an event or group you’d like to share?

Stayin' Cool

“I am really interested in getting information back from smaller groups that might not already be connected to any of our committees,” says Betina Ali, the co-chair of the Middle Childhood Development Committee.

The two committees are jointly working on a summer calendar that will be distributed throughout the City (at schools, recreation centres, community service providers…) to provide families with children 0 – 12 information on what is going on in the City from June to August when schools are out. They do not intend to duplicate all the information that is currently being printed and distributed, but rather, they plan to bring everything together in one place as a resource for families. They  hope the book will be filled with lots of FREE family oriented events.

Space is limited so priority will be given to New Westminster-based programs/events/activities.

Please email for more info or to submit your activity.


Dan Mangan Rocks the 65 Red Roses Benefit

Last Friday’s sold out 65 Red Roses benefit concert for Cystic Fibrosis Canada brought down the house at Massey Theatre. And I was lucky enough to have a backstage look at the happenings, thanks to winning a contest through the Vancouver blog Hummingbird604!

The theatre was packed, mostly with 20-somethings, so we found ourselves in the upper balcony for the first half of the show, which opened with an introduction by Phillip Lyall, director of the 65_Red Roses documentary, and Rachel Aberle, one of Eva Markvoort’s close friends. They set the tone of the night, which was warm and celebratory of Eva’s life and her passion for creativity and inspiration, shown in the showcase of several of her favourite local musicians.

Kicking off the musical portion of the eveing was David Vertesi, who performed a set without a band, although in one humorous song that had the audience in stitches, he accompanied himself and his guitar with canned drums from his keytar.

After he closed his set with his new single “Mountainside”, Eva’s mother Janet Brine took the stage to introduce a video message Eva had made for a Cystic Fibrosis Canada event, just after she began to undergo chronic rejection, not long before she passed away. Unfortunately, just as Brine was extolling the “magic of technology” that would enable us to see and hear Eva, the sound on the video stopped working and they had to bring on the next band, The Zolas.

Luckily The Zolas’ upbeat set was just what was needed to get the audience back into the swing of things after the confusion about the video. The Zolas’ frontman Zachary Grey punctuated the set with jokes in-between songs, laughing that he felt the crowd at the Massey was too classy for them.

“Could you do us a favour and just talk through our whole set? Like you wish we weren’t playing?” he laughed.

By the time The Zolas closed their set with “You’re Too Cool”, one of their big new singles, the audio feed had been fixed and we got to see Eva’s message. It was difficult not to tear up as we saw Eva say, “Let’s continue to work so that, in my lifetime, CF stands for Cure Found.”

Then the MCs took to the stage again to talk about Eva’s two causes: raising awareness of organ donation, and fundraising for Cystic Fibrosis research. Everyone at the concert received an organ donor registration card with their programs. Register as an organ donor or find out if you’re registered at As to Eva’s latter cause, proceeds from the concert were donated to Cystic Fibrosis Canada, and you can also donate online at You can also join the 65 Red Roses movement on Facebook and Twitter.

After the pitch, Hannah Georgas finished off the first half of the concert with a set that showcased her amazing vocal and stylistic versatility. Backstage at intermission she said she’d never played in New West before but she was really honoured to be part of such a great initiative and it was great to be on the same bill as so many friends.

The author, Jarrah, (second from left) back stage with friends and Hannah Georgas (far right)

The first half of the show was amazing but it was clearly Dan Mangan everyone was waiting to see. His T-shirts flew off the racks of the musicians’ kiosk at intermission and as soon as he took the stage after another brief video on CF, fans flocked to the front of the theatre to dance near the front of the stage and take photos and videos, screaming as he played a combination of new songs and older hits like “Basket” and “Sold” (Mangan was recently voted the number one musician Vancouver women would like to sleep with in the 2011 Georgia Straight Sex Survey and judging by the audience reaction, the survey was pretty accurate).

Dan Mangan with members of The Zolas behind him

Mangan closed his set talking about Eva and capturing the sentiment most of us would leave thinking about. He talked about how knowing people like Eva, “who love without worrying about looking cool” inspire him and how Eva’s life should inspire all of us to be creative, love others, and be ourselves without fear.

Editor’s note: Voted 2010 Newsmaker of the Year in New Westminster by both the New Westminster News Leader and the Royal City Record, Eva Markvoort continues to touch lives despite having succumbed to CF on March 27th, 2010. For more info or to get involved, check out:, liberally use the #4eva hashtag on Twitter, and most importantly, register to be an organ donor.


Kids in Motion is Awesome Fun

When we moved over to Sapperton, I spent some time and checked out all the local shops on the “strip” along E. Columbia had to offer. Since then, we’ve said bon voyage to Pedagogy (soon to reopen down at River Market) and to Karmavore (now in spacious new digs on Columbia at 6th Street). I understand from local shopper Sheila that Opulence is the next to go – although, sadly, relocation is not what’s taking them out of the area – they are closing down. We’ve also said hello to Graze Market and fallen in love with their pulled pork, and are looking forward to what fills the space where Pedagogy and Karmavore were (one of the signs says it is “Puppets and Gore” – what the heck?).

One of the constants in the strip is Kids in Motion, a kids’ dance and play creative arts studio run by Natasha Young, a bubbly, approachable and understanding business owner.

The shop is pretty non-descript on the front – tucked into a storefront between a pizza joint and the always interesting Cadeaux, with security bars and a few bulletin boards chock full of notices in the windows.  We walk past it often enough and when I walked by in the late fall last year, I noticed an ad for classes. They were 4 weeks long and offered at $45, and with an indecisive flip-flopper of a toddler who is in love with something one day and can’t bear the thought of it the next, I thought that 4 weeks was a great commitment level for us.

Bubbles are a part of the fun!

Natasha offers classes ranging in age from babies to age 8, varying in subjects from general rhythm to ballet, tap, hip-hop, or jazz, as well as parties for the younger set. The classes for the younger guys are a parent participation class. Check out the course descriptions and schedules for more info. The space is clean, bright, and very kid-friendly.

We chose a class called Rhythm Kids for kids ranging in age from 1.5-3. My son’s on the top end of that age range, but he’s never really taken classes before and since he’s not in daycare, I thought the social time with some other kids would be really beneficial.  Natasha follows the same basic format for each class, and the consistency seems to pay off with the kids as they seem to follows her instructions remarkably well. The classes are well timed at 45 minutes long. The room is filled with lots of different props – drums, pinwheels, butterfly wings, ribbon sticks, and shakers among others and almost all classes include some free time on a huge range of instruments.

Stella never stops smiling.

For most of the first two classes Kale really wasn’t happy. He hung off me and didn’t want to participate but didn’t want to leave when suggested it. But toward the end of the second class, something clicked and he was spinning, singing, clapping, banging on drums, and generally just exploring with all the other kids. By the end of class three, he was begging me to “do it again!” and on our way home from the final class he admitted, in the way that only sad toddlers can portray, he “missed Miss Natasha”. Because it had been November and December, a lot of the classes were holiday and winter themed.

I decided to sign up for the next session of classes because he’d enjoyed it so much, only this session is 10 classes long ($110). Because it’s longer and Christmas is over, we’re going to be exploring a new theme each week like bugs, things that move, animals, jungles, and other fun stuff. We’re at week three now, and Kale is so excited to see Miss Natasha when we arrive. We talk about it ALL day (before and after class), and longingly wish for the next class to come. He sings, he dances, he plays with all the props. He loves rhythm class, bunny ears and all.

Bunnies hopping through the garden.

Check out Kids in Motion at 465B E. Columbia Street in Sapperton. Call 604-970-7945 or check them out online at


New Canada Games Pool Needed?

This is a guest post by Andrew Evans, a fitness advisor at New Westminster’s Canada Games Pool who also writes a blog called Fit New West. Andrew holds a Human Kinetics Degree from UBC and is a Certified Exercise Physiologist and a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist. Andrew offers Personal Training services for Health and Performance in New Westminster, B.C. He can be reached at

Let me start off by saying that I love the Canada Games Pool (CGP). It is the most valuable facility in New Westminster.

My love relationship with the Canada Games Pool started in 2002 when I directed summer day camps and would bring groups of 40-50 children twice a week to enjoy the facility. Upon graduating from university I was hired in the fitness centre and have now been there over five years.  I feel I can safely say  Canada Games Pool is the most important facility in New Westminster because it is biggest source of physical activity for children in the municipality.

Last week the main swimming pool was shut down for two days to repair a broken pipe. The pool was half emptied and swimming lessons and public swims were cancelled for two days. (Editor’s note: The pool is also closed today, Sunday 16th – I tried to go there today myself – Jen) The heart and soul of CGP are the children who use the pool, and for two days, they were missing.  Normally, there are times the pool is so jammed packed with screaming children some older patrons complain of the noise, but really, we all love to see the drenched mobs even though our ears bleed. Gradually these children grow up to bring in their own children. This cycle must continue.

Maybe you were one of those kids who grew up using CGP; starting with parent and tot swimming lessons, joining the Hyack swim club or just trying to sneak in the hot tub during public swim times. I have spoken with many patrons who reminisce about their childhood swimming adventures and hangouts at the CGP and I regularly hear “I’ve been coming here for the past 30 years…”.

14000 swimming lessons are delivered at the pool annually, the most in the country. Furthermore, the instruction is the best in the country, with top notch management and supervision. The only thing lacking at the CGP is assurance the building will last another 10 years. In a year I intend to have my two year old twin boys start lessons at CGP, and I hope that they will be able to continue their lessons into their teens without interruption due to facility issues.  In a December 1st article in the Royal City Record,  Councilor Betty McIntosh suggested there are condominium pools in the city that can be used instead of an updated facility.  From the article:

McIntosh said the city doesn’t have to be providing all services that are offered in the community. She noted there are a number of fitness centres in the city and several apartments have swimming pools. “There are private facilities coming on-stream that are meeting the needs of some new residents,” she said. “The city doesn’t have to meet the needs of everybody. We don’t have to be everything for everybody.”

Since I don’t have access to a condo pool, I suppose my boys can have swimming lessons in their kiddie pool.

Backyard Shenanigans - But is it enough?

In my opinion, I believe it is simply wrong to risk having more shutdowns at the Canada Games Pool and cheating out our children because there are other ‘priorities’ in New West. A solution must be found to prevent any further shutdown of the CGP. The building is old and as we go forward without addressing an upgrade, the children are going to miss out.

In a society where childhood obesity abounds and is on the rise, don’t you think we should be trying to solve these problems? I also firmly believe the provincial government should take a part in a solution since a huge proportion of patrons of CGP are from outside the municipality. Additionally, the provincial government should also be playing a bigger role in promoting physical activity.

An upgrade of the CGP could be an opportunity for New Westminster and British Columbia to demonstrate to the country how to get kids active on a large, practical scale and set a standard, rather than take 14,000 steps backward.


16th Annual SPCA Coat Drive

The SPCA Thrift Mart, a well known and active business member of our community, is once again putting together a Coat Drive to help gets coats to some of the Lower Mainland’s most needy. I posted about the SPCA coat drive experience I had a few years ago, and wanted to remind you all of this annual event. This is the 16th annual coat drive, and organizer Roni-Lyn Saunders says the need is greater than ever. Roni and her dad have been working hard to put together this year’s coat drive but they desperately need donations of good warm coats and blankets, and they could use some hands to help disperse the coats at Main and Hastings in the evening of December 10th, as well as organize them onto hangers and racks during the day that same day.  Click on the picture for a full size poster – feel free to hang it up in your apartment lobby or at your workplace.

Thanks to the NewsLeader for letting us use this poster and image.

The Coat Drive is December 10th and donated coats and blankets will be accepted at both the 12th Street location of the SPCA Thrift Mart, and the Coquitlam location up until December 9th, and at the 12th Street location until 2PM on December 10th. Please specify that the coat or blanket donation is for the drive so that it gets filtered to the right place.

If you are able to volunteer to hand out coats on December 10th, please contact Roni at 604-540-7722. The handing out starts at 7PM at Main and Hastings and helpers are also needed to organize the coats during the day.

And finally, if you or someone you know is in need of a coat, please don’t hesitate to visit us at Main and Hastings for a warm jacket. Soup and hot chocolate as well as a little Christmas singing will be available.  Everyone deserves warmth, inside and out.

Canada Games Pool

‘We have innovated physical activity out of our lives’

This is a guest post by Andrew Evans, a fitness advisor at New Westminster’s Canada Games Pool who also writes a blog called Fit New West. Andrew holds a Human Kinetics Degree from UBC and is a Certified Exercise Physiologist and a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist. Andrew offers Personal Training services for Health and Performance in New Westminster, B.C. He can be reached at

Canada Games Pool

New Westminster's Canada Games Pool. Photo: Will Tomkinson

In North America (New Westminster included), we have innovated physical activity out of our lives. This is trouble for our bodies that require physical activity to function properly. You only have to look at the health section of the news to see the health issues caused by physical inactivity. In response to this concern, I hope to offer some practical advice and renew your thoughts on fitness.

You are constantly bombarded with messages about fitness. Weight loss, gym memberships, shoes that make your butt tight, machines that give you six-packs, belts that sweat your fat away, 3 minutes a day, 10 minutes a day, and so on. These messages are money makers and most of the time marketed as quick and easy. Promoters of these messages even make them look fun from looking at the huge smiles on their model’s faces. I don’t know how someone could smile with some oddly shaped contraption wedged between their legs while they squeeze it a thousand times!

My view is this. Fitness is not quick and easy. It is every day life movement that should be fun and enjoyable. It comes simply by being active with your body, getting it moving every day. There are three basic areas to train for fitness. Cardiovascular (heart and lungs), Musculoskeletal (muscles and bones) and Body Composition (lean tissue vs fatty tissue). Along with proper nutrition, training the cardiovascular and musculoskeletal systems will produce a healthy body composition.

Some people are naturally active with their bodies daily, for example, active stay at home parents who play with their kids, retirees who garden and clean daily or people with manual labour jobs. These people are up and down, lifting, running, walking, lunging, sweating , breathing heavy, simply using their bodies in a physical way.

On the other hand are people crammed for time in a sedentary job and busy life. Sitting in front of a computer (I am trying to wrap this post up so I can get moving) for hours at a time, spending more time sitting while commuting, and then wanting to relax, feeling worn out and drained from sedentary work. I know I feel horrible after working on the computer for a while and my body and mind just want to lay down. However, I know that if I do something active, I will break the cycle of feeling like garbage, and perk myself up and feel great.

For those who fit into the description of the second group, you probably have to input physical activity into your life artificially. One way of doing this is going to the gym and follow a program. At the Canada Games Pool, they have fitness advisors (DISCLOSURE: I am one of them) free of charge, who can spend about 20mins getting you started on a program, showing you some exercises or answer any questions you may have. If you need more help than that, you can shop around for a personal trainer and have them work with there.

In my opinion, the best way to pursue fitness is to pick an activity and train to excel at it. For example you can choose to run a 10km race annually (The Sun Run) and follow a training program that will help you reach your potential.

You will not believe how enjoyable it is to continually see improvements in your physical abilities and achievements, your health and appearance if you train regularly. When physical activity becomes part of life, everything gets easier mainly because you feel better in body, mind and spirit.


Spring Wellness Challenge

I participated in a focus group this past Tuesday night to help improve the website for  New Westminster Parks, Culture, and Recreation and part of our “homework” prior to the evening was to troll around on the NWPCR website to get a better idea of what worked and what didn’t. It was while trolling around I discovered that the NWPCR department has put together a Spring Wellness Challenge to get us all up and at ‘em, dust off those wintery cobwebs, and get our collective butts moving. Here’s a little bit more info on the City’s website, and here is the brochure/checklist.

Queensborough Flowers on a Walk, by Eric Jung (Koshisan) via Flickr

It started Monday, but you can still print off the brochure or pick one up and catch up. The challenge runs from April 26 to May 24 and you’ve got till June 7th to drop off completed cards at any NWPCR facility to enter to win some stuff! At our house, the gauntlet has been laid down to see who can complete more challenges. Hey, it’s free, and it’s motivating. Family walks are very popular in our house. Specifically: family walks that tire out toddlers and dogs.

Further, you can get two bonus points for going for a Community Walk with Mayor Wright on May 15th at 11:00am at the Queen’s Park Arena- a fact which cracks me up and I’m not really sure why. I’ll be on vacation so, Wayne, can I get a rain cheque on that walk? I need my two points.

Also check out this really awesome complete list of things to do put together by NWPCR. (Now, if we can just get them to stop putting everything on a PDF so that it’s more accessible by mobile, I’d be delirious.)


Questions from readers: Why so few adult-oriented classes at NWPR?

Recently, we put the call out to our readers to submit the questions about local matters that have you stumped. Today, we’ve got the answer to a question from Kathryn Berry: “Why are there are so few recreational classes offered by NWPR for adults, such as dance classes? There are lots for children and for seniors, but there seems to be a paucity of physical recreation for the adult crowd.”

Here’s the response we got from Jason Haight, manager of building operations at New Westminster Parks, Culture & Recreation:

Thank you for your question. Parks, Culture & Recreation does offer a wide range of adult fitness based activities (physical recreation) through drop-in programs for skating, swimming, hockey, karate, soccer, volleyball, badminton, gymnastics, group fitness and fitness centres. We also offer a number of registered adult fitness programs for yoga, walking and running. All of these services are outlined in our Winter Active Living Guide.

With respect to dance classes we offer several older adult dance classes, geared to the 40+ or 55+ age groups but we do not currently have adult specific dance classes. History has told us that these classes struggle with registration. Combined with space limitation and not wanting to duplicate services and compete with New Westminster continuing education programs and local private sector dance companies, we only offer adult dance intermittently.

I hope this answers your question.

A lack of demand is a disappointing but expected answer to Kathryn’s question. The private sector dance companies he’s referring to include Dance With Me Studio on Front St., Latin Beat Dance Club lessons at Douglas College, Ammara Dance on Sixth St., Boswell Dance Academy on Blackford St, and The Dance Matrix on Agnes St.

If you’re interested in the NWPR drop-in programs, you may be interested to read Will’s post about taking advantage of the on-site childcare to do some time in the weight room at Canada Games, followed by daddy-son pool fun with our toddler, or Clara Cristofaro’s post on her blog about the laughably hard “Workout Lite” program.

Update: Jason tells me program suggestions can be directed to or by calling 604-527-4567.


Hyack Your Health: Canada Games Pool, a Plan that Worked

Canada Games Pool

Canada Games Pool

I am one of those guys who is really out of place at a gym; a fish out of water. I spent most of my life as a slender book worm with little interest in sports but as age, fatherhood, a desk job and an affinity for a cheerfully empty pint of beer, I knew something had to change. I had to get active, channel that participaction! action and sign up with the program. For the first time in my life, I needed to get fit; but how? And when?

Looking at my lifestyle, the first thing I had to figure out was how to cram two hours of exercise a week into my regime. Up early for work, home to make dinner and wrangle kids, exhausted by 9:30 and not up for anything more intensive than watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer re-runs, I knew that if I was going to find some time to sweat off a pound or two, I was going to have to get creative. Picture my poor spouse, frazzled from a day chasing two little ones, finally seeing her relief shift come through the door at 5:15, only to say, “Hi honey, I’m home – and off to the gym! Kiss the kids goodnight for me, I’ll be back at 8:00!” Somehow…. I don’t think so.

Centennial Community Centre

Centennial Community Centre

If I was going to run off and pump iron somewhere, I was going to have to take a kid with me. I couldn’t picture the li’l 2 year old strapped to my back as I swayed on the elliptical machine. Well, I could actually, but I didn’t see it as a very good way to fit in at the gym. In my search for a six-pack schedule, it had to be seamless and hopefully offer more to the kid/hostage than a lame babysitting session.

After looking around a little, I was pleased to find the perfect resources, right here in New Westminster, close to home and super simple. As so many residents know, Canada Games Pool houses a fitness center on the a mezzanine overlooking the pool. I am no expert on what makes a good gym but this place should have everything you want and many of the folks up there look like they know a thing or two about gyms. There are lots of free weights, weightlifting machines and exercise machines. It can get busy and the pool makes the atmosphere a bit thick but hey, it all goes away when Bono starts singin’ through the ear-buds you know?

The best thing, and the feature that solves the “what to do with the kids” issue, is that across the courtyard, in Centennial Community Center they have child minding (score!). While daddy is huffing and puffing away on the Stairmaster, junior is running around with a dump truck in his arms screaming “I’m Prince Philip! I’m Prince Philip!” and I can’t hear him. (Not even one bit). After an hour of that, sweaty papa picks up the pampered prince and packs him of to the change room again. After we quickly slip into our swimming togs, we spend an hour in the pool for some daddy – kiddo quality time.

My little trooper loves the kid pool and watching his neighbours walk about in the pool. We see some of the same kids from week to week and have become friends with one or two. The staff in the community center and the pool are the best and are always cheerful and ready to accommodate any challenge. There is a real difference in the morale of a place when it is ‘for-profit’ over when it is for the betterment of humanity. I get a kick out of it. It’s as if going swimming on Sesame Street.

The schedule works seamlessly each time I have tried it. 5:25 at the child minding 5:30 at the gym, 6:25 to end child minding at 6:30 for a one hour swim (Family swim begins at 6:30 on Monday and Wednesday, and at 8:30 Tuesday, Thursday and Friday. Schedule here for current season). By 7:45 the tuckered tot is back at home and ready to pass out from all of the fun (Score 2!). Besides the good times, dad is learning the joys of exercise and mom thinks he is a hero by giving her a toddler-free 2 hours twice a week. Hey, mother of two; you take what you can get!

So this is my victory story for the big “Hyack your Healthseries on Tenth to the Fraser. It might not work for everyone but it is darn good at removing those excuses. The center is cheap: $8.00 per visit (after child care) if you don’t buy a value pack. I think it is closer to $6.00 a visit if you get a card and pre-pay. If you can’t swing it, I am pretty sure New Westminter Parks and Recreation has a program to lighten the financial load. Give it a shot in 2010. Who knows? I might see you there. (I’ll be the one rocking out to Neil Young in my iPod).


Giving birth at Royal Columbian? Here’s what you should know

Will and I after Wesley's birth in 2007. Photo: Lorenn Klassen

Will and I after Wesley’s birth in 2007. Photo: Lorenn Klassen

Of the five friends I have who delivered their babies at Royal Columbian Hospital, four of us had 30+ hour labours ending in emergency Cesarean sections. I have wondered how it could be that four out of five young, healthy women could all have so much trouble delivering our babies naturally that we would need our babies cut out of our bodies.

In the time following my own C-section I assumed it must be simply selection bias – we five weren’t necessarily representative of the general birthing population at Royal Columbian. Yet when I came across the Fraser Institute’s hospital report card, it resurrected the concern that too many births are ending with C-sections at RCH. According to previously private data the Fraser Institute unearthed through a Freedom of Information request, more than a third of mothers birthing at Royal Columbian delivered by Cesarean in 2007 and more than 80% of women who have had C-sections repeated the surgery to have their next babies. You can see that between 2001 and 2007 the rate of Cesareans at Royal Columbian has gone up to 32% from a low of 28%, and the VBAC rate (vaginal birth after Cesarean) has gone down from a high of 23% to only 18% .

This isn’t a problem only at RCH. About 30% of all births in B.C. were by C-section in 2007, and the VBAC rate  was just 16.4%.

Baby Nora, after my 'triumphant VBAC' in 2009. Photo: Lorenn Klassen.

Baby Nora, after my ‘triumphant VBAC’ in 2009. Photo: Lorenn Klassen.

The World Health Organization says the C-section rate for any country need not be higher than 15%.  Given that we have a publicly funded (and struggling) health system, the fact that we are seeing more than twice the recommended Cesarean rate is cause for economic as well as health concern. Among the long list of reasons to be concerned about the increase in C-sections on is this little factoid: “A cesarean costs nearly twice as much as a vaginal birth ($7,186 average vs. $4,334 average in 1989 in the US). It has been estimated that in Quebec, Canada, if the current rate of cesareans (18.8%) were reduced to that of Finland (11.9%), costs incurred by the provincial health care system could be reduced approximately $19 million per year.” Yowza.

In my first interview with the OB/GYN while I was pregnant, I asked all the questions recommended by my library of books: what is the C-section rate, what were their opinions on a variety of interventions, and other questions designed to get a sense of their level of support for a ‘natural’ birth. I had signed on with a team of six doctors, at my family doc’s behest, and each time I met a new one, I asked the same questions. Everyone responded that they would only use interventions and offer pain relief if ‘necessary.’ As I later discovered, ‘necessary’ is a matter of opinion.

Like many young women, I had assumed with my first pregnancy that I was at low risk for major complications. I had an easy pregnancy. I was only 25 and generally healthy. I had endured jokes about having “childbearing hips” more times than I could count. So I skipped the chapter on Cesareans in What to Expect When You’re Expecting. I spent the part of my birth preparation class that covered C-sections fantasizing about the relatively effortless and even pleasurable home births I had read about on the Internet. Labour was hard and long, but I had read almost every book for new mothers in the New Westminster Public Library (and a few more I ordered from Amazon), so I was expecting that. As my labour lengthened, I heard the empty ward begin to fill with other mothers’ cries followed by their babies’. My doctor kept going home. I laboured with little guidance from the nurses, grateful for my husband’s stalwart support.

My son was born after about 30 hours of labour followed by what I have learned is a textbook cascade of intervention: gas for the pain, doctor breaking the water to try to hurry the birth, followed by an epidural, hours of fruitless pushing and then an emergency C-section when we discovered the baby was poorly positioned. It’s possible that the outcome could have been the same had I been encouraged to labour in my own time with more support from my care provider. The experience of the birth of my daughter makes me wonder, however.

Those who follow me on Facebook or Twitter know that my second baby’s birth was ‘a triumphant VBAC’ (as my midwife Tracy Simpson described it on the Mama Love Midwifery Facebook page). It was a very short labour, also at Royal Columbian, and ended in the natural, medication-free birth I had so wanted with my first.

The midwife made all the difference. At least twice in my four hours labouring at the hospital, the OB on staff said he wanted to prep the OR for a repeat Caesarean. At one point the baby actually went back up the birth canal before the water broke, causing an increased risk of the umbilical cord wrapping around her neck. The OB wanted to send me for the C-section then, but the midwife recommended a controlled breaking of the waters, in which the OB carefully punctures the water sac and guides the baby down to ensure the cord doesn’t wrap around her neck. Then, towards the end, my baby’s heart rate dropped and although the OB would have recommended emergency surgery, my midwife wanted to give me the chance to push her out. With her support, I did, and my baby was born healthy and beautiful. I felt great. Tracey gave instructions at the hospital that I could leave after the required six hours of monitoring, as soon as I felt ready to go. Will and I brought baby Nora home in time for lunch!

In the end, neither birth was intervention-free. The difference was in how ‘necessary’ was defined, and how each care provider judged what level of intervention was required. With my first birth, I felt like everyone was just waiting to see how long it would take for me to give in. That’s probably not what they intended, but it is how I felt. The second time around I got scared, and my resolve began to waver. Instead of asking if I wanted drugs or taking my fear as a sign that I couldn’t do it, my midwife urged me to be strong and fight for the birth I wanted.

So, having now experienced both a Cesarean and a vaginal birth, an OB and a midwife, I have a few pieces of advice for expecting moms in New West:

  • Seek out a midwife for the best chance at a low-intervention birth. Most doctors pop in and out for periodic checks until you’re ready to push or something goes wrong. Midwives will stay with you throughout your labour, lending support as necessary. Start looking as soon as you know you’re pregnant. Midwives are in such demand now that it can be difficult to find one who is accepting patients.
  • If you’ve had a previous C-section, try a VBAC. The success rate is about 75%, so there are good odds that you will succeed. While the C-section itself is less painful than pushing out a baby, when the anesthetic wears off, the recovery is weeks-long instead of days. The postpartum experience is so different … I felt battered the first time, but euphoric after the VBAC. Also, with every repeat C-section, your risk of major complications with future pregnancies increases (important if you think you may want more kids).
  • Throw out the birth plan. A piece of paper won’t matter during labour. You’ll have more success by putting your effort into choosing a care provider and support people who you can be sure will lend you the strength to have the best birth possible.
  • Question your doctor. Don’t just ask if something is really necessary. Ask what will happen if it doesn’t get done, if you can try something less invasive or if you can delay just a little longer. Sometimes babies just  need a little more time and we all should be a little more patient.
  • If you do have a C-section, you are not alone. Once you start talking about it, you’ll probably discover a shocking number of others who have too. It’s also very common for women who have C-sections to feel sad or angry about the birth experience. It’s totally normal.

Hyack Your Health: 4 postpartum fitness tips

credited_3656184801_ce4b3eef45Haiku contest! Share your best New West Haiku before Jan. 10 and enter to win a $100 gift certificate for Bamboo Yoga.

For those of us who welcomed a new baby into our lives in 2009, losing the baby weight is likely top of mind when it comes to our 2010 resolutions. As part of our Hyack Your Health series to help New West folk keep our New Year’s resolutions, Caroline Neitzel from Thank You Mommy Wellness offers a few tips for new moms starting post-partum workouts.

Caroline is offering 10% off her mom & baby fitness classes for our readers – just mention the coupon code “10thfraser.” You may want to check out Caroline’s nutrition tips for new moms as well!

EXERCISE TIP #1: Peer pressure can be a good thing
Working out in a group setting often encourages a person to work harder during the workout, and it also keeps people accountable – do this whenever possible.

EXERCISE TIP #2: Listen to your body
Perform what exercises are safe for you, at this time in your life. It is recommended moms wait to exercise until after week 4 for a vaginal birth and week 6 for a c-section. What you CAN do during postpartum recovery is walk, walk, walk! After these time frames, you can engage in more vigorous exercise, as long as your care provider gives you the OK. Your body will let you know if you’re doing too much. Listen to your body.

EXERCISE TIP #3: Dress for success
Always wear comfortable clothing so you have lots of room for movement. This way you won’t be restricted in your flexibility and you will be able to get the most out of your workout.

EXERCISE TIP #4: Eat before you sweat
Eat a little snack such as an apple prior to working out. This gives you energy for the whole workout because it digests very very quickly. Stay away from heavier snacks such as nuts or crackers. Stick to fruit because it’s light and gets converted into sugars (used as energy for your workout) almost immediately.

Remember: The most important thing you can do for the development of your baby is love them. Love grows babies.

Thank You Mommy Wellness Center provides prenatal yoga and mom and baby/tot fitness classes in New Westminster and Coquitlam.  These classes educate women on what exercises are safe and effective throughout the mom’s pregnancy, during her recovery period just after giving birth and for many years into motherhood, while focusing on establishing and growing an essential and loving bond between mom and baby.
Being a new mom herself and having been involved in the fitness industry for 14 years as a personal trainer, kinesiologist, yoga instructor and as a fitness fanatic, the owner brings a wealth of knowledge, personal experience and an intense passion to the services she provides.  The owner’s passion for the industry keeps her classes fresh, innovative, fun and filled with enthusiasm!
To redeem a 10% discount, please mention coupon code: 10thfraser.
Call now to book your free introductory class!
Caroline Neitzel, Owner

Thank You Mommy Wellness Center provides prenatal yoga and mom and baby/tot fitness classes in New Westminster and Coquitlam.  These classes educate women on what exercises are safe and effective throughout the mom’s pregnancy, during her recovery period just after giving birth and for many years into motherhood, while focusing on establishing and growing an essential and loving bond between mom and baby.

Being a new mom herself and having been involved in the fitness industry for 14 years as a personal trainer, kinesiologist, yoga instructor and as a fitness fanatic, the owner brings a wealth of knowledge, personal experience and an intense passion to the services she provides.  The owner’s passion for the industry keeps her classes fresh, innovative, fun and filled with enthusiasm!

To redeem a 10% discount, please mention coupon code: 10thfraser.

Call now to book your free introductory class!

Caroline Neitzel, Owner



Hyack Your Health: Yoga for weight control

Throughout January, Tenth to the Fraser is spotlighting advice from local experts on how to successfully follow through on New Year’s resolutions. This is a guest post by Svetlana Balysheva from Bamboo Yoga. If you’re interested in trying Yoga as part of your fitness regimen in 2010, enter our Haiku contest for a chance to win a $100 gift certificate for Bamboo Yoga.

To be successful on a weight control journey one should be able to answer these questions.

To be successful on a weight control journey one should be able to answer these questions. Image: Michelle May, M.D.

There are hundreds of diets you can try but unfortunately not many of them work. One important link is missing: the link between our state of mind and our bodies.

Take a close look at the the “Eating cycle” diagram to the right. Do you ask yourself these questions? Can you answer these questions consciously? Are you able to adjust your eating pattern accordingly?

To be successful on a weight control journey one should be able to answer these questions.

Practicing yoga increases body awareness and leads to mindful eating which will dramatically increase diet success in people who want to lose weight, and prevent weight gain in individuals of normal weight.

The American Dietetic Association has developed a Mindful Eating Questionnaire that addresses the main hindrances to weight loss success: sensual desire, ill will / aversion, inertia, restlessness and doubt.

Yoga can be a helpful tool to increase mindful eating as part of a weight control program.

Yoga can be a helpful tool to increase mindful eating as part of a weight control program.

More than 300 people participated: 40 percent practiced yoga for over 1 hour per week, 46 percent walked for min 90 minutes per week, and over 50 percent engaged in more than 90 min moderate or strenuous physical exercise per week. Participants’ weight was within normal and the Body Mass Index (BMI) was lower in those who practiced yoga.

As you might guess, yoga practitioners with lower BMI achieved higher scores on the Questionnaire . The researchers discovered a strong association between practicing yoga and mindful eating. Interestingly, other types of activities such as running and walking did not raise body awareness to support successful weight control.

Learn to love yourself. Learn to love and listen to your body, and it’ll tell you what it needs, when and how much. Regular yoga does build up your body voice so you can hear it and understand. It’s been working on thousands of people over thousands of years and it’ll work on you!

Bamboo Yoga, a beginner-friendly yoga studio in New Westminster, invites you to join in the Wellbeing and Weight Loss 12-week challenge from January 13, 2010 – March 31, 2010. For more information, contact Svetlana at 778-385-2064.


Hyack Your Health: Quitting Smoking

Rainbow Cigarettes

by Isobel Bloedwater, via flickr, use by creative commons license

Haiku contest! Share your best New West Haiku before Jan. 10 and enter to win a $100 gift certificate for Bamboo Yoga.

As we get into the swing of things in 2010, it’s time to start following through on those resolutions! To help you out a little, we’ll be running a series of posts with advice from local folks on how to help keep common resolutions.

Cough cough, hack hack. Sound familiar?

I quit smoking October 1, 2003 and have never smoked since. I had decided I didn’t want to turn 30 and still be a smoker – 12 years at a pack a day had taken its toll on me – I had a continual hack, I couldn’t smell a thing and my fingers were an embarrassing shade of yellow – so I gave myself a 6 month cushion before that pivotal birthday and picked a day and quit. Sounds simple, right?

When I quit smoking there were a few methods – will power was the old standby with wavering results for different people. Some people swore by non-mainstream methods like herbal supplements or even hypnosis. The field of medicine had brought us nicotine replacement methods such as the patch and nicotine gum – since I’ve quit there is also lozenges and an inhaler. I was successful using the then-new prescription drugs you take daily in advance of your quit date that work on the brain to help manage the withdrawl symptoms, rather than replace the nicotine. My doctor and I felt that it wasn’t necessarily the nicotine I was dependent on, it was the habit itself my brain and body craved.

Here are my tips to help you quit:

  • Pick a date and stick to it. If you need to, make it two months down the road. But don’t waver. Pick your date, prepare for it, and then quit. Postponing your date because, say, you have half a pack left is just an excuse. Throw them away. I picked my date three months in advance and put together a game plan.
  • Change up your routine. I used to have my first cigarette every morning as I waited for my ancient Volkswagen to heat up. That cigarette was always accompanied by a huge steaming cup of black tea with lots of sugar and milk. In order to help break that association, I stopped drinking black tea and my poor Volkswagen stopped getting heated up in the mornings. It was almost 4 years later that I started having that cup of black tea again.
  • Quit with a buddy. It helped me immensely that my then-boyfriend also quit. It was easier for the two of us to avoid smoking traps (like house parties and seedy bars) if we had a like minded person to spend our social time with. We went to a lot of movies and we did lots of activities that you can’t smoke at like swimming and running.
  • Tell everyone you know you’re quitting. They’ll keep you honest and they’ll likely be a little bit more forgiving if you’re snappy and distracted. You might inspire a fellow smoker to quit with you.
  • Check out online resources like Quit Now. It’s operated by the BC Lung Association and is packed with amazing resources -it features a message board where you can talk with other quitters, the latest science and info about why it’s so hard to quit, and even a phone support number. Quit is also on Twitter, Facebook, and You Tube.

If quitting smoking is on your list of New Year’s Resolutions, don’t wait. You can do it. Attend a Smoking Cessation Clinic at a local London Drugs (as of this writing one isn’t schedules for New Westminster, but there is one at a number of Burnaby and Vancouver locations) or see your doctor.


Hyack Your Health: 4 tips for a mom nutrition makeover

Resolving to lose the baby weight in 2010? Here are some tips to help. Plus, get 10% off classes at Thank You Mommy Wellness if you mention Tenth to the Fraser!

Resolving to lose the baby weight in 2010? Here are some tips to help. Plus, get 10% off classes at Thank You Mommy Wellness if you mention Tenth to the Fraser!

Haiku contest! Share your best New West Haiku before Jan. 10 and enter to win a $100 gift certificate for Bamboo Yoga.

As we get into the swing of things in 2010, it’s time to start following through on those resolutions! To help you out a little, we’ll be running a series of posts with advice from local folks on how to help keep common resolutions.

Let’s start by helping those who rang in the New Year with a baby in tow! Here are four nutrition tips to help lose that baby weight from Caroline Neitzel of Thank You Mommy Wellness (428 Columbia St.), which offers mom-and-baby exercise classes for moms of newborns and toddlers, as well as prenatal fitness classes. Your first class is free, plus Caroline is offering 10% off for our readers – just mention the coupon code “10thfraser.”

Says Caroline, “Your baby will never remember a messy house but they will remember the love you give them. And you can only love them to your best ability if you’re at your best ability – meaning eating healthy food and engaging in regular exercise.”

NUTRITION TIP #1: Keep your fruit where you can see it
Wash your fruit and place it in a bowl on the counter or the table, where it is easily accessible. To prevent taking in unnecessary calories and to ensure you are getting the best nutrients for your body, have fruit ready to go so you can just grab a piece as you’re running by to console or feed your baby

NUTRITION TIP #2: Your freezer is your friend
Choose one day a week and devote a couple hours to cooking some healthy meals and freezing them. Or, if you have the option, ask your mom to cook these meals for you. :O)

Some ideas include:

  • lentil soup
  • bean soup
  • vegetable soup
  • stew
  • spaghetti sauce

These meals are filled with nutrients and are easy to take out of the freezer in the morning and heat up during the day.

NUTRITION TIP #3: Graze well
If you’re a nibbler, keep healthy snacks around such as nuts, raisins, and other dried fruits. Again, keep them handy. At the start of the day, place the portion you would like to stay within during the day in a little bowl on the counter or table so you can graze as you run past.

NUTRITION TIP #4: Hydrate!
Keep yourself hydrated: drink lots of water. Drink more water than you ever thought you would, and then drink some more and that should be sufficient! Have a 1.5 liter water bottle full each morning, and make a commitment to drink at least the whole thing throughout the day. People often mistake dehydration for hunger pangs

These tips will help you stay energized throughout the day so you are always giving your best to your baby, and they will also help you avoid overindulging at meal times, taking in unnecessary calories.

Thank You Mommy Wellness Center provides prenatal yoga and mom and baby/tot fitness classes in New Westminster and Coquitlam.  These classes educate women on what exercises are safe and effective throughout the mom’s pregnancy, during her recovery period just after giving birth and for many years into motherhood, while focusing on establishing and growing an essential and loving bond between mom and baby.
Being a new mom herself and having been involved in the fitness industry for 14 years as a personal trainer, kinesiologist, yoga instructor and as a fitness fanatic, the owner brings a wealth of knowledge, personal experience and an intense passion to the services she provides.  The owner’s passion for the industry keeps her classes fresh, innovative, fun and filled with enthusiasm!
To redeem a 10% discount, please mention coupon code: 10thfraser.
Call now to book your free introductory class!
Caroline Neitzel, Owner

Thank You Mommy Wellness Center provides prenatal yoga and mom and baby/tot fitness classes in New Westminster and Coquitlam.  These classes educate women on what exercises are safe and effective throughout the mom’s pregnancy, during her recovery period just after giving birth and for many years into motherhood, while focusing on establishing and growing an essential and loving bond between mom and baby.

Being a new mom herself and having been involved in the fitness industry for 14 years as a personal trainer, kinesiologist, yoga instructor and as a fitness fanatic, the owner brings a wealth of knowledge, personal experience and an intense passion to the services she provides.  The owner’s passion for the industry keeps her classes fresh, innovative, fun and filled with enthusiasm!

To redeem a 10% discount, please mention coupon code: 10thfraser.

Call now to book your free introductory class!

Caroline Neitzel, Owner



Hyack your health: win $100 gift certificate at Bamboo Yoga

Win a $100 gift certificate for Bamboo Yoga! To enter, write your best New West-inspired Haiku in the comments.

Win a $100 gift certificate for Bamboo Yoga! To enter, write your best New West-inspired Haiku in the comments.

Happy New Year everyone! As 2010 dawns and hangover treatment begins, it’s time to knuckle down and do something about those resolutions you drunkenly swore you’d really keep this time. Since ‘getting fit’ is one of the most common pledges come January 1, we’ve partnered with Bamboo Yoga to offer a $100 gift certificate to one lucky New Westie.

To win, you must demonstrate that it’s not just your body that’s well-rounded (ha!). Write us your best Haiku poem inspired by life in our fair city, and leave it in the comments on this post before January 10. The winner will be chosen by our editorial team (me, Jen, Jocelyn & Will) and notified via email so make sure you leave a real email address in the comment form! Multiple Haikus will net you multiple ballots for you prolific poets.

For the purposes of our contest, we will call it a Haiku if it is a three-line poem with five syllables in the first line, seven in the second, and five in the final.

Jen Arbo will start us off with her pithy contest summary:

Send us a poem
En-dub-tinged, haiku style
Best wins yoga bucks

And, for inspiration, here are a few more from our editorial team.

Ancient, Honorable,
A Haiku by Will Tomkinson

Buds spring pink in May
As Citizens throng the parks
Blast, the anvil again

It’s the bylaw, bee-atch
A Haiku by Briana Tomkinson

Shovel thy sidewalks
’till spring buds replace cold snow
lest you feel our wrath

What are you waiting for? Get writing!


New West H1N1 flu vaccine clinic Nov. 4

There’s a lot of debate over whether to get the H1N1 vaccine out there. Those of us in New Westminster who choose to vaccinate should know there’s a vaccine clinic tomorrow (Nov. 4) at Royal City Centre  in the Community Room from 9am-1pm.

Here’s who’s eligible:

  • Children six months of age to under five years old
  • Health care workers, starting with priority groups that deliver critical and frontline health care services
  • Household contacts and care providers of infants under six months of age
  • Household contacts and care providers of people who have weakened immune systems
  • People under 65 with chronic health conditions
  • Pregnant women in the second half of pregnancy

The entrance to the clinic will be at the West end of the mall, via Corridor #4 located between Labels and Ardene.


Personal Challenges: Raising Funds for Cancer Research

I recently made a decision to raise money for cancer research. Like a lot of people, cancer has had a direct impact on me. In 2006 I lost my dad to prostate cancer and in the early part of this year, my mom battled and beat breast cancer, thanks largely to research forwarding treatment options. I’ve always taken a bit of a skeptical eye to many of the charity runs – a lot of times I wonder if people even know how much of their dollars goes to the actual cause. I’m not trying to downplay anyone’s efforts and think that however you choose to raise funds for whatever charity you choose to support is a personal decision and you should be applauded just for the idea of it. I have always felt I personally could do better than a run because well, although I’m not in what one might consider to be the best athletic shape of my life, huffing and puffing my way around 5kms doesn’t feel like a strong enough statement for me. Running a few kilometers is something I could do without too much hardship and in a single day.

Terry Fox Statue by Patrick Chondon via flickr

Terry Fox Statue by Patrick Chondon via flickr

I have always firmly believed in Terry Fox, the foundation that bears his name, and the continuing mission it carries out that Terry started. Back in 2004 when CBC launched the Greatest Canadian I voted and campaigned within my family and friends for Terry. I have always believed that the Terry Fox Foundation is an organization I can feel comfortable about ethically speaking –  I know where all of my dollars go and I feel good that they’ve stuck to Terry’s requests that no one should be turned away and that there should be no cost to participate. I also like the fact that 87 cents from every buck goes to actual research, unlike some charities where that amount is only 65 cents. Here’s more about what sets the Terry Fox Foundation apart.

Shauna After

Shauna After

Because I’m not content to just run, I want to do something that shows my support more than the average charity drive. So, I’m shaving my head when I raise $5000 in pledges. Yup, that’s right. Shaving it. My friend Shauna did this a few years ago as a fundraiser for cancer for kids research. You can support me and the Terry Fox Foundation by pledging online here, or you can email me at to arrange a more traditional donation of paper money or a cheque. And if you can’t afford to donate – because times are hard right now and I totally get that - think about joining me.  I’ll update from time to time about where I am at with my fundraising efforts, and when the big day comes, I’ll be sure to invite Briana along with her little Flip Camera to document the day. For now, here is the “before”. Try and imagine Shauna’s hairstyle on me:

Me with my current hair

Me with my current hair

Wish me luck!