Posts in Health and Wellness

These People Are A-OK: James Mullan

Always striving for fun and environmentally conscience adventures, I’ve come to be a huge fan of the good ‘ol farmers market. Kelowna should be proud of such a thing as the Kelowna Farmers’ and Crafters’ Market is glorious. Loads of artwork, jewellery, food and of course, jolly farmers!

I’ve got to know a few of the vendors and one of which is my friend James Mullan who is the Owner/Chef at The Allergic Chef food allergy consulting services. He specializes in gluten-free and lactose-free living which I believe is extremely valuable as I am learning more and more people are relating stomach issues, etc, back to their diet. I know I have had indigestion problems for awhile but only recently have I discovered that gluten and dairy are most likely the causes. Luckily, there is James close by to help!

The man himself Mr. James Mullan at his booth at the Kelowna Farmers’ and Crafters’ Market.

So I encourage you all to check out the Kelowna Farmers’ and Crafters’ Market, every Wednesday and Saturday from 8am-1pm until October 31 then the schedule will change as it will be moved indoors. And don’t forget to visit the friendly James Mullan and have yourself a tasty cookie, slice of banana bread or get a mouthful of information about your diet and health from the Allergic Chef.

Cheers for now!

Swimming the Salish Sea: Part 2 – Success!

Miss Part 1? Catch up!

Phred, Paul, Mike, Leora, Denise, Connor (our coach’s son who swam in to the finish with us) and Tracy celebrate swimming across the Georgia Strait.

It’s hard to describe the feeling of hitting land after spending almost 11 hours swimming or cheering on your swimming teammates. On Saturday August 11th, the OMSC Lake Monsters completed a roughly 35 km swim from Sechelt on the mainland to Nanaimo on Vancouver Island. It took us 10 hours and 46 minutes. We were swimming alongside another team from Victoria who eventually pulled out of the swim when we hit rough currents and were told that we might not make it. Even when given the bad news we were determined to go on and we made it! We actually made it! We owe so much to our Navigator John Dafoe and our boat Captain Ann Clemence. They made it possible for us to complete the swim.

Paul, Phred, Denise, Mike, Tracy, and myself each swam one hour shifts and rotated through until we were able to complete the swim. Although we had good weather, there were some big waves in the middle of the straight, along with the strong current that put us in danger of not being able to complete the swim. It was a day that required us all to battle our own physical and mental demons.

The MVP awards of the day go to Phred and Tracy. Phred was swimming with severe tendonitis in his elbow. Even though he was in pain, he was more concerned about letting down his team than about his own discomfort and didn’t tell us until afterwards just how tough the swim had been for him.

Phred dives off the boat for his shift in the water

And Tracy not only had to deal with the worst of the currents when we got close to Nanaimo, she also had to deal with suddenly being a tourist attraction to the people on the Nanaimo ferries! The boats came in close for a good look at what we were doing, which meant that she had to deal with some considerable boat roll whenever they came by!

The ferry comes in close for a look at the crazy swimmers!

After my nerves about encountering sea life, we were pretty much left alone, some seals checked us out from their spots sunning themselves on nearby islands and a few jelly fish were spotted, and I heard some dolphins at one point during my swim but we never spotted them (which did play a little havoc on me mentally to be able to hear them but not see them!).

I can’t speak for my teammates, but completing the Salish Sea swim had a huge impact on me and my confidence. I realized that I could tough it out mentally and physically, even when my arms were screaming and sore during my second shift, I was able to push myself beyond anything I thought I was capable of. And being out in the middle of the strait, not knowing what sea life was around me or below me, was pretty scary. I realized I had to just shut down all thoughts of my fears and concentrate on each stroke. I’m not a natural athlete, and no one who looked at me would think I was, but I proved something to myself on Saturday about my abilities.

So I ask you, if a chubby girl like me can swim the Georgia Strait, and attempt the English Channel next year, what could you be doing that you aren’t?

I get ready to jump in for my first shift of swimming.

Something that you can do, is help us with our fundraising goals for the Y Strong Kids Campaign. As part of our journey towards the English Channel we’re raising money for the campaign that allows underprivileged children access to all of the Y programs (including swim lessons) and gives them memberships to the facilities. Swimming the Georgia Strait was our first challenge in our fundraising efforts, but we’ll continue to challenge ourselves between now and the English Channel next summer. If you would like to help our team and help the children please go to our team fundraising page here. Any amount of money that you could spare would be greatly appreciated!

(All photos provided courtesy of Angelique Duffield at

Swimming the Salish Sea: Part 1

The OMSC Lake Monsters are now less than a year away from our English Channel attempt, so in preparation we’ll be swimming a practice run closer to home by attempting to cross the Georgia Strait. The Salish Sea swim takes place every August (this year it will be on August 11th) and will have us swimming from Sechelt on the mainland to Nanaimo on Vancouver Island.

Happily, all of us are now healthy and injury free, so all 6 of us will be swimming according to English Channel rules. That means we only wear a swimsuit, cap, and goggles in the 15C water and we each swim for an hour at a time in rotation. Each incoming swimmer will have to pass the previous swimmer in the water before the first swimmer can get back on the safety boat. We will be accompanied by an experienced boat captain and will have an EMT on board, as well as Coast Guard support.

Practicing for the Strait in Okanagan Lake on a windy day. Photo by Angelique Duffield at

This year we will be one of three relay teams taking part in the swim. One is a team of 2 women from Vancouver Island, and the other is a team of 4 men from Vancouver. The Victoria team has challenged the rest of us to a race, the slowest team across the Strait buys the celebratory drinks afterwards. The swim will take us roughly 35km across the Strait, but currents, wind, and waves could make it much longer. We are expecting to complete the swim in 9-12 hours depending on the conditions, which will require each of us to swim 3km or more per hour.

In addition to the challenge of the swim itself, we will also have to deal with the potential issues of seasickness (it will be dangerous for us to become dehydrated), stinging jellyfish, and the mental test of swimming in the deep dark sea. Last year two local swimmers completed the swim as part of a 4-woman relay team.  You can read about their wild experience here.

With the swim being just about a week away I am excited but nervous. Whiplash has kept me out of the water for the past month, which means that I am not as conditioned as I should be. Also I’m worried about the seasickness. I’ve never had a problem with it before but I really don’t want to spend my rest time on the boat hurling over the railing. Usually when I travel to the island I always want to see killer whales, but this time they can stay away. I don’t want to be mistaken for a nice yummy seal (although I guess the wetsuited swimmers on the other relay teams are more in danger of that).

Once I am home and recovered from the swim I will write all about it and post pictures in Part 2. If you can’t wait that long to find out whether it is the Vancouver or Victoria team that buys us drinks afterwards then you can check out my blog. I’ll update it throughout the day on August 11th.

Sometimes Things Just Don’t Go As Planned

This is not the story that I intended to write. After introducing you to the English Channel Lake Monsters team in my last post, I had planned for this post to be all about my excitement for our first open water race of the season: the Across the Lake Swim.

The Across the Lake Swim (ATLS) is an annual event (currently in its 64th year), where 500+ swimmers of all ages and abilities swim roughly 2.1km from the old ferry docks in West Kelowna to Hot Sands beach in City park. It was to be my first pre-English Channel practice at trying to speed up when it matters (in the English Channel there will be times when we have to speed up to fight the current and to get safely around shipping traffic).

From a personal level, the Across the Lake Swim is the reason that I am swimming today. My New Year’s Resolution in 2011 was to try to swim the ATLS for the first time that summer. I’m not originally from Kelowna so I had not swam it before, but kept hearing that it was a fantastic event to take part in, so I was interested to get back into swimming and try it out. As such, I joined the Okanagan Masters Swim Club (OMSC) to start training.

Thanks to joining the OMSC, I became good friends with fellow swimmers, got in shape, found my competitive side, and eventually ended up on this English Channel team. That New Year’s Resolution to swim the ATLS changed my life.

Last summer, three of my close friends from OMSC and I decided to swim the ATLS as a relay team. Including my current English Channel team mates Paul, and Phred, with the addition of our friend Ashley, we competed as the Fintastic Four. (Relay teams combine their individual times for crossing the lake for an overall team time, last year we came in 7th). This year we planned to swim as the Fintastic Four again, and hoped to move up in the standings.

But instead of swimming I will be watching from the sidelines. Two weeks ago while out wake surfing I got whiplash from a bad wipeout. It meant that I couldn’t move my neck from side-to-side for a week, and now (even though I do have mobility back in my neck), when I tried swimming again for the first time last night I found that it hurt to turn my neck to breathe. If this was the only swimming event planned for the summer I might have swam anyway, but in three weeks our English Channel team is going to attempt the Salish Sea Swim from Sechelt to Nanaimo as a practice run for the Channel. It is more important for me to participate in that swim than to swim the ATLS, even though the ATLS means so much to me.

I’m disappointed that I won’t be able to swim, but I will be cheering loudly for the remaining Fintastic Three (which just doesn’t have the same ring to it) and our other English Channel team mates. If you want to come cheer on my team mates and the other 500+ swimmers, the race starts at 8am this Saturday July 14 and you can cheer people in at the finish line on Hot Sands Beach.

Meet the English Channel Lake Monsters

Photo by Angelique Duffield

My name is Leora Dahl. And next July I’m going to attempt to swim the English Channel as part of a relay team. That’s a 35km swim (in a straight line, which the currents generally don’t allow for), in 15—18°C water. We are not allowed to wear wetsuits. Our 6 person team must each swim for an hour at a time, cycling through until we either reach France, get pulled out because of hypothermia, or get pulled out because the weather is too bad. Fewer people have successfully swum the channel than climbed Mount Everest. Over the next year I’ll be writing about my experiences (the good, bad, and ugly) training for this with my fellow “OMSC Lake Monsters.”

Today I’d like to introduce you to myself and my teammates and why each of us has decided to take on the challenge.

Denise, Tracey, Leora, Phred, and Paul celebrate our first training swim in April in 6C water. Photo by Angelique Duffield


“I have had a very long love affair with all things swimming. Please do not think for one second that I am elite athlete and winner of tons of medals, oh no, just a regular person who loves to swim. Jimmy Buffet sings a favourite song of mine called “First Look” it is what happens to a person when they see the ocean for the first time. I did not just love the sea I adored it! I moved to the Cayman Islands where I taught Scuba Diving. Hours on a rocking boat, heavy seas, cold, yes, cold water, jelly fish and dragging someone back who is too exhausted to swim, that kind of experience tends to toughen you up a bit! What possessed me to take up this challenge to swim the English Channel? I remember reading as a teenager about people who swam the English Channel. Flash forward 40 years or so… Hubby and I have moved to Kelowna and I decided to do a very Kelowna thing, sign up for the Across the Lake Swim. Because swimmers are just a friendly bunch of people in bathing suits, before I knew it, I was asked would I be interested in training as part of a relay to swim the Channel and I was nodding my head and saying YES! My opportunity to realize a childhood dream! You just never know, when you get to live your dream, just grab it and go for it.”


“Growing up in the boating community in Vancouver and working as a lifeguard for many years, I am no stranger to the water. I’ve always had a love/fear relationship with it. I love the water, but fear the things in it. Fortunately, swimming with the Okanagan Masters Swim Club, the only things I have to fear are tight speedos and jamming my fingers into the lane rope, but open water swimming presents a whole new world of scary creatures lurking beneath the surface. I currently work as a counsellor at UBCO and am forever spouting the health benefits of exercise and facing one’s fears to my students. Training in the lake for the channel has provided plenty of opportunity to follow my own advice as I encounter endless debris in the brown turbid water. There have been many moments when I was certain Ogopogo was reaching for me only to discover a tree branch sticking out from the lake bottom. The lure of the channel is both exciting and terrifying: a challenge I knew I could never do alone but actually seems possible as a part of my relay team. Swimming the English Channel is an opportunity to travel abroad and achieve a unique challenge that tests both my physical and mental limits.”
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“Land Awakening” Documentary in Penticton

Filmmaker Raul Alvarez

On Monday June 11th the Western Canadian premiere of the independent documentary by Mexican-Canadian filmmaker Raul Alvarez’ “Land Awakening” will be showing at the Okanagan College Lecture Theatre in Penticton.

“Land Awakening” is my personal journey to experience hands-on organic sustainable agriculture, turning into the discovering of alternative technologies and approaches to producing and gathering food.  The experience resolves to a spiritual reflection into our deep and sacred relationship with the Land.  It has been a long personal challenge to put at test my perseverance and commitment to the cause of healthy food and to my profession.”

Roused by his son’s WWOOFing (World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms) expedition to Spain, Raul set off on his own journey which eventually took him around the Mediterranean and back into Canada.

Ines Sanchez of the Institute Of Permaculture Monsant

Through dynamic characters comes exploration into alternative ways of understanding terms like ‘agriculture’, ’tilling the soil’, ‘supermarkets’ and even ‘weeds’.  What we have come to depend on as ‘easy living’ is nothing more than huge profit for mega-corporations and pharmaceuticals;  in fact a supermarket is not ‘easy’ for the consumer!  It’s full of confusion and trickery and 9 out of 10 times you come out with way more purchases than you wanted, or spent way more money than you intended.

We’ve learned to survive without having any responsibility for our humanly consumptions or the impact we make on the earth we all live and depend on.  But there

Francois Couplan

are people out there who giving back and in turn re-building the foundations of a happy and healthy community where everyone prospers.  Call it a revolution, call it a global transformation – regardless,  filmmakers like Raul Alvarez are capturing it on film for the rest of us to see.  Once you can see someone else ‘doing it’ the idea of an honest and sustainable life doesn’t seem ‘utopian’ but rather attainable and ENJOYABLE!

A big thank you to C.URB – Centre for Urban Agriculture and Nikos Theodosakis from “THEOS Restaurant” both of Penticton for showing their generosity and support for this event.

Where: Okanagan College, Penticton Campus Lecture Theatre
When: Monday, June 11th – doors open at 6:30 PM, show starts at 7 PM
How Much: $10
For: Everyone

For more information click here…

Green, Grey, and Prickly All Over: Pincushion Summit with Dr. Adventure

I am quite a fortunate lad. You see, I have a wife who drags me out of bed at ungodly hours of the morning every weekend. In and of itself, this might seem like a sadistic version of “lucky” to you. However, were it not for said wife and her slightly psychotic pack of runners who convene before the rooster rises, I wouldn’t have the opportunity to explore many nooks and crannies of the Okanagan. The best part? I get to do it during the hours of the day when the silence has yet to be broken.  Prohibitive as it may be to less-rested folk, I am especially grateful on the days when I find that my unknown adventure leads to a reward greatly exceeding the early morning anguish. My venture to Pincushion Summit was one of those ventures.

Nestled in the back of a neighbourhood, just beyond the Ponderosa Golf & Country Club, lies the trail head. To get there, take 1st Ave from Highway 97 in Peachland, and quickly turn left on to Ponderosa Drive. Follow it all the way to the end and voila, we have an adventure in the making.

Now I must warn you, if your lungs are prone to burning from a couple flights of stairs, you may want to take this one slow. At times, this hike seems like more of a climb. Pincushion Mountain is not for the faint of heart. You really have to monitor your footing on this little trek since there are some teeth-like protuberances and some gravel that really make you dance with the wrong traction.

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Lavington Lovin’: Crown Land Trails with Dr. Adventure

Greetings, Okanaganites! It’s time again to get off your tushy and really seek some understanding of our license-plate friendly geological descriptor: Beautiful British Columbia (“The Best Place on Earth” works too, but that was for a limited run during the Olympics).  So, if you’re wanting to really appreciate why such apt narcissistic remarks belong on our vehicles, then follow me. It’s time for another Adventure with the Doctor…

Sometimes the pursuit of adventure means that you have to get a little dirty…and that’s exactly the way I like it. So, on a sunny Sunday morning in the beautiful A-OK, Dr Adventure (yours truly) and his clan (consisting of giggly wife and slobbery dog) took off on yet another exploration of the stunning place we now call home. Where would the trail take us this time? Well, we lost the trail before we even got out of the car. Oooooh…so exciting. Where would we create the trail, then? In the pure white snow still sitting among the trees outside of Lavington. That’s where.

If you drive about 15 minutes east along Highway 6 out of Vernon, you’ll come to School Road in Lavington. You can’t miss it if you keep an eye out for the Road House.  Take School Road south and you’re on your way. Whether via map, GPS, or intuition, you need to navigate your way onto Bluenose Road, which eventually becomes Aberdeen Lake Road. Once you pass Reets Road on the right, then the real adventure begins.

You’re now on Crown Land, which is government lingo for “adventure waiting to happen”. Since 94% of British Columbia is Crown Land, that means you and I have some exploring to do. Once you pass the sign that reads ABERDEEN FSR (for Forest Service Road), you’re free to check out all the nooks and crannies that the wilderness has to offer. There are many different side roads and trails that will cart you off into the wilderness to become one with the outdoors. However, if you keep on Aberdeen FSR road for quite a while, you’ll make it into the land of lakes. Depending on exactly what road you choose to head down, you could run into Aberdeen Lake, Haddo Lake, Curtis Lake, Nicklen Lake, the Jerry Lakes, Lily Pad Lake, Ricki Lake etc (okay, no one actually named a part of our beautiful province after a washed-up daytime talk-show host…I lied. You get the point).

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