Published in the Fredericton Daily Gleaner, Monday March 28, 2011
I’m such a lucky woman … my husband puts up with me loving so many people.
Take this week, for instance. I had the chance to take part in the provincial wellness conference. I met and fell in love with the minds and the actions of so many people.
Cupid’s arrow struck when I met Cindy Dickie and watched her network and inspire at the conference. She’s a physical activity wellness consultant with the Department of Wellness, Culture & Sport. She is also one of the driving forces behind this year’s conference, Building Momentum: The Wellness Movement in New Brunswick.
Great minds think alike: Theresa Blackburn and her new 'soul sister', Cindy Dickie. Dickie was one of the enthusiastic wellness advocates behind the successful New Brunswick Wellness Conference held in Moncton last week.
She sees things like I do. She knows it takes many, many partners to create the tools necessary to deal with the high rates of obesity in our province. She’s excited about bringing people together to share ideas, goals and wellness concepts.
She spent most of her time introducing people she knew to other people she knew because she knew they’d have something in common.
Like me, her mind works a mile a minute; like me, she gives more than she should, cares more than she’d like to, and can’t help but smile when even small goals are achieved.
She’s one of this province’s biggest cheerleaders when it comes to wellness, and she’s a committed advocate for all the right reasons. She gets it, and she’s willing to work toward ensuring other people get it, too.
In a little more than 24 hours, I felt she was a kindred spirit. I’m so happy to have met her.
Then there is the mind of Dr. Jean-Philippe Chaput, Ph.D. He’s the junior research scientist for the healthy active living and obesity research group at the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario Research Institute in Ottawa.
But he’s also a very kind and caring man who really cares about his research topic. His focus is children. He’s currently an assistant professor in the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Ottawa. The main focus of his most recent research is the relationship between sleep and obesity and mental stress and obesity.
His findings confirm a lot of what I figured out years ago – that lack of good, deep and consistent sleep leads to weight gain.
In six years of doing morning radio, I gained, on average, about 12 pounds a year. I got up too early, tried to nap in the afternoons, and could never seem to get to bed early enough in the evenings. The result, I ate more – something supported by data in Dr. Chaput’s research.
But what really made me fall in love with his mind is his insistence that you can be heavy and fit. He believes there is too much emphasis on weight loss and not enough on healthy lifestyle.
He blames society for placing too much value on beauty and not enough value on health.
During his evening presentation, I almost shouted, “I love you!” when he talked about his worry about social pressures related to being thin. I thankfully held my tongue and said a polite, “Woo-hoo!” instead.
The one day I was able to spend here taught me beautiful lessons.
a.) Many businesses are already key players in some provincial initiatives aimed at getting New Brunswickers healthy.
b.) We can’t expect, and shouldn’t expect, government to do everything. It’s a responsibility that needs to be shared.
c.) That there are many people like me out there who think the same way about wellness initiatives … that they need to start with personal changes and be shared with others.
d.) That leadership takes on many forms, from the conference organizers like the Cindy Dickies of the world, to the people on the ground, like Deidra Kennedy, who works with preschoolers at the Aboriginal Head Start Program on the Woodstock First Nation.
e.) That every little bit helps. I’ve talked to a lot of people about the little ‘seeds’ planted that flourished into amazing ideas that were transformed into program plans that were put in the right hands so those plans could be lobbied for and funding arranged. Those ‘seeds’ are now a garden.
The huge problems that this province faces with regard to obesity and fitness are enormous, but now I can tell you, so is the movement to change it.
There are people out there in your community who are doing all that they can to increase the availability of activities, to find the resources to facilitate these activities, and the mindset needed so they don’t give up after the first try.
Getting New Brunswickers to live healthy lives is a journey and a long one. If we compare this to a marathon, it’s the toughest one out there.
But we can’t think about the actual course – we can’t concentrate on the long miles ahead, the hours and hours of running or the enormous hills that we’ll encounter along the way – we can’t even think about distance between us and the finish line. If we did that, we’d want to stop before we even start.
But like each trip we take, like every journey we venture on, it all starts with that one first step.
This conference, the creation of a health network of like-minded people and organizations called HEPAC (Healthy Eating, Physical Activity Coalition of New Brunswick), and the meeting of like-minded people truly interested in wellness, is more than that first step.
I think we may have already reached the first mile-marker on our journey … and boy does it feel good!
Feel free to see some of the video blogs I produced while at the conference at my blog site: https://mybigfatlife.wordpress.com/
Theresa Blackburn is a wife, mother and New Brunswick Community College instructor who lives and writes in Woodstock. You can email her at email@example.com, or join her group, Big Fat Life, on Facebook. You can also follow her on twitter @MY_BIG_FAT_LIFE.