Posts in Health and Wellness

Slopes for Hope at Silver Star Mountain Resort

The Canadian Cancer Society brings Slopes for Hope Silver Star, on February 22nd, a family friendly ski-a-thon in which participants attempt to ski or snowboard the vertical distance of Mount Everest in one day (29,029 feet). Sign up as an individual for a personal challenge, or put in a team of four and split the distance between team members. Come up with a team name, wear costumes, and challenge your friends, family or coworkers!

There will be an après-event with entertainment and amazing prizes awarded at the end of the day, including the Sir Edmund Hillary Award for the skier or boarder who racks up the most vertical distance!

We ask that participants fundraise in advance to support the Canadian Cancer Society, with a minimum donation to participate of $25 for adults and $10 youth. All participants who raise a minimum of $50/youth and $100/adult will be eligible for a half price lift ticket the day of the event, courtesy of Silver Star Mountain Resort.

Funds raised through the event will help the Society fund vital cancer research, leading prevention initiatives, and compassionate support programs for people facing cancer today. To learn more about what the Canadian Cancer Society does in our community and the services we provide go to

We hope you can join us for this great event! Click here for more event details.

Register TODAY by going to the website link and help us take the fight against cancer to the slopes!



Off to England: The Lake Monsters Take on the English Channel

Photo by Angelique Duffield

The Lake Monsters in our team suits: Phred, Denise, Tracey, Leora, and Mike. Photo by Angelique Duffield

Well, the time has finally arrived! The Lake Monsters head to Dover, England this week for our chance to tackle swimming the English Channel. We have been told by our support boat captain that if the weather remains good we will likely make our attempt on August 1st. If the weather doesn’t cooperate right away, we have until the 6th of August to make our attempt.

Just as a refresher: the Channel is 35km across in a straight line, but because of the currents we will likely swim a greater distance than that. We are not allowed to wear wetsuits and the water temperature in the Channel is currently 16ºC. We’ve been training in the lake since it was 8ºC so that we won’t become hypothermic in the 16º water. Our start time will likely be around 1 or 2am as that is when the tides are retreating from the English coast, giving us some help getting out into the Channel (but we’ll have to start by swimming in the dark with glow sticks on our caps to make us visible to our support boat). We each swim for one hour at a time and then rotate through. If anyone can’t complete their shift, touches the support boat, or touches anyone on that support boat before their hour is up the entire team will be disqualified. The swim will be monitored by a member of the Channel Swimming Association and will be considered “complete” when a swimmer from the team clears the water line on the French coast. We anticipate that it will take us between 15 and 18 hours based on our swimming abilities, but again if we run into rough waters, jellyfish, or bad currents it could take us much longer.

I am excited to go and feel that we are ready! The majority of the team completed the Interior Savings Across the Lake Swim this weekend and we all put in good times for that 2.1 km swim. Now we get to take it easy on our bodies until we get to Dover and start training in the cold water again (our lake is currently around 22ºC).

My last submission for Awesome Okanagan will be published in late August or early September (after I get back from my travels) to let everyone know how it went. I’d like to take this opportunity to thank everyone at Awesome Okanagan (particularly Brandon) for letting me use this forum to talk about my experience training for this over the last year and for being so supportive of our swim!

Finally, we are raising money for the Y Strong Kids campaign as part of our Channel Swim attempt. If you’d like more information about this charity or would like to support my team please go here.

Checking In with the Lake Monsters: The Team Has Changed but Cold Water Remains the Same

We are 110 days away from our English Channel attempt and we’ve had some big changes on the team. Our teammate Paul spent his winter ice swimming. That involves swimming in water below 5 degrees Celsius, in just a speedo! After swimming a mile in those conditions in December, Paul became Canada’s first official Ice Swimmer, which gained him international attention.

Paul Duffield swimming in the frigid lake this winter. Photo courtesy of Angelique Duffield

Paul Duffield swimming in the frigid lake this winter. Photo courtesy of Angelique Duffield

Since then, Paul has decided to pursue other goals related to Ice Swimming and will not be joining us on the Channel. (More to come about that in a future post.)

So the Lake Monsters are down to five! It means that we’ll each have to swim additional legs of the relay so we have all stepped up our training and will continue to do so over the next couple months. My teammate Phred and I have also begun the acclimatization process again. We got in the lake last weekend on a stormy day. The air temp was 10 degrees and the lake temp was 9! It was a shock after spending the winter in the pool. We spent 20 minutes in the water and will keep adding 10 minutes per week.

Phred and I get in the lake on a stormy, dreary day. Photo courtesy of Ashley Russo.

Phred and I get in the lake on a stormy, dreary day. Photo courtesy of Ashley Russo.

In addition to the swimming and time in the gym that we’ll be putting in over the next couple months, we are also raising money for the Y Strong Kids Campaign. Our lives have been made immeasurably better because of our access sports (and of course, swimming) and we want to make that possible for local children as well. As part of our fundraising campaign, my teammate Phred has designed a Lake Monsters toque and we are selling them for $20 each with all proceeds going to the Y Campaign.


I know it’s spring and everyone is thinking about beach gear but as they say on Game of Thrones “Winter is Coming.” So get yourself a stylish toque for next year and support a worthy local charity while you’re at it. If you would like to buy a toque please email Phred at:

Confessions of a Fat English Channel Swimmer

I’m not a skinny girl. I never have been. Ever. I blame genetics, my love of sweets, and stress eating. Like most people, my weight has gone up and down. I ballooned in junior high where I experienced a fair bit of bullying and fat-shaming. Throughout my 20’s I steadily got back into exercise and slimmed down and in the last couple years I have been the smallest I have ever been. Not skinny, but average.

'Slim' me competing at Provincials in 2012. Photo by Angelique Duffield

‘Slim’ me competing at Provincials in 2012. Photo by Angelique Duffield

So English Channel preparation has been a bit of a challenge for my body image. I’ve put back on 20 pounds. I was only aiming for 15 to help protect me from developing hypothermia in the cold Channel, but my body was quite happy to throw on the extra 5. Even with the extra weight I’m healthy. I swim 3-4 times a week and workout with a trainer at the gym. I just completed my English Channel medical where a stress test not only found me to be healthy, but the cardiologist said I had an athlete’s heart.

So what’s the problem? The problem is that even though I purposefully put on the pounds and am healthy, I still hate that I had to go out and buy new jeans because I couldn’t fit into my old ones. I hate that when I look into the mirror I dislike what I see. And I hate that some days when I look at myself I can hear the taunts of bullies past: “Could you get ANY fatter?”

Me, December 2012, 20 pounds heavier

Me, December 2012, 20 pounds heavier

I would happily keep these embarrassingly personal admissions to myself, but I’ve been disturbed recently by other, more public episodes of fat-shaming in the media. For example, Melissa McCarthy being called a “female hippo” and “tractor-sized” in a recent movie review as though her weight is her defining (and apparently horrifying) feature rather than the fact that she is an amazingly talented and funny actress. Or Australian Olympic Champion Leisel Jones being called out at the 2012 summer Olympics as being “too fat to swim.” What message do these episodes send out to women and girls? If you are not skinny you are not worthy, even if you are a talented actress or have won 8 Olympic medals.

To me, these women are both amazing role models who should be celebrated for their accomplishments. But that isn’t how our society works, and examples such as these remind me that when I walk out the door people are judging me by the size of my body, not by what I am trying to achieve with it.

So I struggle. I have days when I’m proud of my body and the results I achieve in the pool or the gym with it. But I also have days when I am ashamed of it. Nevertheless, I will continue to let myself be photographed at this weight, in a very vulnerable state… in a swimsuit. I hope that even if I continue to struggle with my body image, maybe someone else will see the picture and think “Wow! Look what she’s achieved!” rather than “Wow, look how much she weighs!”

Me getting ready to take my shift while swimming the Georgia Strait in August 2012. Photo by Angelique Duffield

Me getting ready to take my shift while swimming the Georgia Strait in August 2012. Photo by Angelique Duffield

BC Celebrates Family Day

It’s BC’s first Family Day stat holiday. What are you doing with your family? I’ve found three major events happening in the Kelowna area for Family Day.

familyday11) BC Family Day (by Creative Okanagan, Province of BC, and the City of Kelowna)
Parkinson Rec: Family Day, Feb 11th, 10-3pm. All activities are FREE.

BC Fun

  • Free swimming (in partnership with the City of Kelowna)
  • Face painting (by KBAAD)
  • Instrument petting zoo (hosted by Wentworth Music)
  • Circus Yoga (hosted by Success by Six)

BC Culture

  • Arts and Crafts station
  • Story telling area

BC Discovery

  • Gold Panning Station
  • Science World Exhibit

familyday32) Family Day Skate for Hospice (by Prospera Place and Delta Grand hotels)
In support of the Central Okanagan Hospice Association. Prospera Place, $5 donation for entry. Admission either at the door on the day of the event or pre-purchase a ticket from the Front Desk of the Delta Grand.

Bring the family and skate with Rocky Raccoon for this amazing cause! Complimentary Hot Chocolate and Cookies. Center ice goal scoring competition for prizes.



familyday23) First Annual Kelowna YMCA Family Day
YMCA, February 11 9:00am-5:00pm

Fun family activities all day long. Come and celebrate BC’s first Family Day and the launch our annual Strong Kids Campaign. All activities and admission are by donation.

  • Family Fitness classes
  • Drums Alive
  • Face painting
  • Arts & Crafts
  • Family games
  • Pool games
  • Giant inflatable toys
  • Hot dogs and lemonade (by donation)
  • Bake Sale

All proceeds from the hot dogs and bake sale go to the Strong Kids Campaign. Please consider making a donation to the Strong Kids Campaign as Melcor will be matching every donation made.

For Ermengarde, Wherever You May Find Her

I recently received a Facebook message from my friend Kaela, owner of Frock Clothing Co. in downtown Kelowna. It was partially a thank-you to a number of people she credits for inspiring her and also a large blog post about a chance encounter she recently had, how it affected her, how the person she met was affected, and piece of personal advice. I felt it was important to share her post here, with her blessing of course, in case any other creative types were feeling tired, burned-out or confused about where they are in life.

I got the most incredible letter today from a girl whom I met while she was shopping in my store. Let’s call her Ermengarde for storytelling purposes (after a character in my favourite childhood novel. I was always like: wow. Cool name.) Ermengarde was at a crossroads when we first spoke: feeling like she needed to pursue something creative, but also feeling the pressure to succeed financially. These two things aren’t always mutually exclusive (pretty sure Angelina Jolie isn’t ripping through the ‘seen-better-days bargain basket’ at the co-op looking for the loaf of bread with the most easily removable mold). Unfortunately, the term “starving artist” exists for a reason. There are no pensions. There are no “benefits” if you get sick. Job security is as tangible as a pet unicorn, and you’re often asked to work for free. (think of the exposure!) In fact, most of the artists i know have a Joe-job to cover their bills.

Joe-job (noun): The thing you get paid minimum wage to do so that you can afford your career as an artist; e.g. Server, salesperson, pretending to be a criminal at the justice institute while police in training interview you (yes, that’s a job, and yes, you do have to sign a waiver stating that if your acting is so great that you force an officer to physically restrain you and you get hurt, you will not sue).

My First Impression of Ermengarde: A Paragraph

This girl is beautiful. If you were standing behind her in a bookstore line you’d be irritated because she’s too pretty to be reading books and being all smart. That’s not fair to the rest of us. It crossed my mind that I should probably trip her because life is going to be too easy for her and someone needs to teach her that life is hard. Like a floor. After books fall on you. But then when she speaks she’s gracious and funny. She laughs at herself. She’s totally vulnerable when she talks about her dreams, and vulnerability in anyone is so lovable because it makes us feel less afraid to open our own hearts a little. I remember thinking after she left: wow. That girl will succeed no matter what she does. I actually thought that! When does that happen?? And then I got this letter.

Letter from Ermengarde

She starts by thanking me. She says I am inspiring and that my last blog post really moved her. My first thought: holy shitballs! Someone who isn’t my best friend is actually reading my blog!!!! Yessssssssssss!!!! My second thought: ooooh shitballs. Am I being honest in my blogs? I’m a shit-show. Did I clarify that somewhere?? Dear reader: these are my thoughts. I want to share them with you but be forewarned – I’m a total flake. If you want to be inspired you should find a different blog from someone who actually knows stuff. I can’t remember putting that in my last blog. I have a mild panic attack and then continue reading.

Ermengarde goes on to say that she feels lost. She’s got the 9 to 5 job and the boyfriend. She bakes. Her home is so clean it sparkles and she’s hosting this year’s Christmas party. Somehow her life turned into a cookie cutter existence and she’s lost her spirit. She wants advice. She wants to know if I really believe in jumping into something without having any idea where you’ll end up or what the consequences might be. She asks me what steps she should take. She thinks I’m qualified to answer these questions because I’ve somehow opened a business that’s artsy. Jesus.

Continue Reading…

One Pass: Any Okanagan Yoga Studio!

Article Submitted by Chelsea Ray / Submit Your Own Article

Come ‘OM’ for the Holidays! Okanagan yoga studios join together in community yoga initiative.

Photo by lululemon athletica

For the first time ever, yoga studios across the central Okanagan have joined together in an initiative to make yoga more accessible for the community. Just in time for the holidays and the impending resolution season, the Okanagan Community Yoga Pass or ‘One Pass’ is on sale through January 15th, 2013 and will be accepted at all major yoga studio’s in Kelowna, Penticton and Vernon. Books of 10 passes can be purchased for $130 plus HST from and picked up from select local businesses.

“As a region, we’ve had to navigate through some pretty tough times these last few years. It’s no secret that yoga has become increasingly popular, I think because it offers people the opportunity to feel better, not just physically but mentally and emotionally”, says Chelsea Ray whose community yoga web portal, Yoga Warehouse, launched the One Pass initiative. “I am thrilled that all the studios have joined together non-competitively because this really is about giving more people the chance to get on the mat and find out what style of yoga is right for them.”

And there are many choices. Hot yoga, Ashtanga, Anusara, Vinyasa Flow, Moksha, Iyengar, Hatha… with so many different styles, it can be overwhelming and expensive for a new yoga student. The One Pass allows budding yogi’s to test-drive the options, to find a studio and a teacher that fits them. “There is a yoga class for every BODY’, says Chelsea, “from athletes to boomers,for both men and women. Yoga helps you get stronger and more flexible, recover from injuries or cope with chronic conditions, all while reducing stress and contributing to an overall healthier lifestyle.’

This is the first time yoga studios in the Okanagan worked together on a project like this. Just in time for the holidays, passes have been designed to easily slip into the average stocking, and are valid until August 15, 2013. To purchase, visit is a one-stop community web portal created by local yoga instructor and holistic health consultant, Chelsea Ray. It is the go-to resource for all things yoga in the Okanagan, from special events, workshops, guest teachers, product reviews, news and information, yoga teacher profiles and much more.

For more information:
Chelsea Ray

Checking in with the English Channel Lake Monsters

It’s been a busy fall for the English Channel team. In addition to our weekly lake training, in September, team member Paul Duffield challenged himself to swim in 10 local lakes in 1 day to raise money for the YMCA Strong Kids Campaign. Not only did he complete his challenge (which took over 15 hours: from before sunrise to after sunset!), but he also swam over 11kms in the process! (Photo by Angelique Duffield)

You can read about his experience on his blog. Speaking of his blog, it was nominated for the Best Canadian Sports Blog and you can vote for his blog to win until Nov. 1 by going here and clicking “Best Sports Blog” and then clicking “Nothing Great is Easy!”

On Thanksgiving weekend, Mike, Denise, Phred, and myself were in Kalamalka lake. Back in June, everyone except Mike completed a 2 hr swim in 12 degree water to qualify to swim the English Channel. Mike couldn’t take part in that swim due to a shoulder injury so he still needed to qualify. On the Saturday of Thanksgiving the lake was finally cold enough (it had to be 15 degrees or colder), so Mike went in for his qualification and Phred, Denise, and I swam along with him for support. Check out our synchronized swimming:

Last time we had a windy, rainy, cold day but this time it was a nice sunny day and Mike had no trouble completing his two hour swim so the whole team has now officially qualified to swim the channel next summer!

Lake training will continue for the team until the water dips below 10 degrees (brrrr), meanwhile we’re all putting time in at the pool with the Okanagan Masters Swim Club to build up our endurance and speed over the winter to get in top shape for the Channel. And, like Paul, the whole team is raising money for the YMCA’s Strong Kids Campaign. So far we’ve raised about 1/3 of our overall goal.

This summer has been a learning experience for the team. Six people, with six different personalities and ideas about how training, qualifying, and swimming the Georgia Strait should go has led to some disagreements along the way. We’re learning how to compromise and support each other while taking care of our own needs as well. It’s kind of like a perverted six-person marriage. But I trust these people with my life. In fact, in the Channel next summer we will literally be putting our lives in each other’s hands. What an adventure! (Below: Denise, Paul, Tracey, Mike, Leora, and Phred. Photo by Angelique Duffield)