I grew up a country kid in rural Ontario, climbing hay bails and digging around with my green-thumbed parents in the expansive land that surrounded our home. From an early age I had a keen sense that real food comes not from a grocery store shelf or drive through window but from the earth or the neighbouring farm. Forever in love with make-believe, I went on to pursue a career in theatre, a path which has lead to acting work in major regional and commercial theatres in Canada and the US. While still deeply passionate about theatre I began to notice I was reading more books on health and nutrition than plays and theatre. I also began longing for other aspects of fulfillment outside of the theatre walls. I was living my childhood dream of being an actress but somehow something was missing and I needed to find out what. How could I become my happiest most optimal self? How could I create a sense of well-being, steadiness and calm in my life when so much of my lifestyle in theatre was unsteady and unreliable?

Around this time a friend of mine from university passed away from cancer. She had thrown herself into studying nutrition as a way to manage her illness and was working toward completing her certification in holistic nutrition through The Canadian School of Natural Nutrition. Her courage and self-direction when it came to her own health inspired me. She had an intimate understanding of the life-supporting and healing power of food. Moved by her spirit, I decided to carry her torch and enroll in the same program. I have always loved cooking and experimenting with new recipes but my education through CSNN has been invaluable in refining and expanding my knowledge of nutrition both in and out of the kitchen. Several years later I faced my own journey with illness following hospitalization from septic shock. The path to recovery was long but my developing knowledge in nutrition played an invaluable role in the speed and vigour with which I recovered. I have and enormous respect for the power of food, the complex relationship we have with it, and the many ways it delights, challenges and supports us in our lives. My education has transformed my physique, my eating habits and ultimately the joy and vitality with which I live my life. Now in the final stages of receiving my diploma I cannot wait to impart and share my excitement and knowledge with others.

The same year I began my diploma, I rediscovered running. A cross country runner in grade school and highschool, I had fallen away from the sport while pursuing theatre. This time around I was lacing up my sneakers with the simple goal of losing weight for an upcoming role. The first few runs were uncomfortable but proved to be a pleasing escape from the dark backstage corridors of the theatre and stuffy rehearsal halls. Soon I was returning home with a sense of alertness, well-being and oneness with self that I had never felt. Being in nature was wonderful, and the rhythmic plodding of my feet on the trails calmed and centered my mind. As my mileage increased so did my sense of self-discipline and personal accomplishment. Running became easier and I began to look forward to slipping on my running shoes and disappearing out the door. Eventually I was running half marathon and marathon distances. My new pastime demanded perseverance, will, grit, presence and patience. Each new run was a peaceful opportunity to live these skills. The carry over into my life was profound. The more I ran, the more resilient and accepting I became in facing the obstacles of my day to day life. Sure I had been successful in my weight loss goal but that initial motive had become secondary. The spiritual and emotional benefits met, if not outweighed, the physical ones.

My newfound love of running lead me to a weeklong workshop in Chi Running at the internationally renowned Kripalu Institute of Yoga and Health in Stockbridge, Massachusetts. [Find out more about Chi running at http://www.chirunning.com]. Needless to say, yoga was a central part of my week at Kripalu. I had previously experimented with different styles of yoga, but not until this experience had I truly grasped the soothing and meditative benefits of the practice. My experiences at Kripalu helped lift any self or culturally imposed expectation to perform poses in a ‘right’ way. Kripalu yoga also asked me to expel comparison and to listen with forgiveness and compassion to my own internal world – my body, breath and thoughts. Geared toward the uniqueness of the individual, Kripalu yoga continually encourages me to listen, play and react to my own instincts. It provides a channel through which I can return to an honest, simple version of myself, and feel calm and aligned regardless of the external state of my life. What a gift! Four years later I returned to Kripalu for a monthlong immersive teaching program to receive my certification as a Kripalu yoga teacher.

As I continued with these passions friends began asking for training advice. I found myself organizing running clubs and casually coaching colleagues. Often I would run with friends in their goal races as moral support and I was over the moon to see their enthusiasm grow along with their sense of personal strength and power. Receiving my running coach certification through The Road Runners Club of America was a natural step. I went on to complete my Canfit group fitness instructor certification to expand my knowledge in cross-training and muscle conditioning. Physical activity has changed and transformed my life in countless ways – mentally, spiritually, emotionally and through the innumerable fitness and health benefits from endurance and muscle tone to immunity and mental clarity. I feel like Im passing on a great gift when I am able to share my love for yoga and running. I hope that my own experiences, education and excitement in these areas, as well as nutrition, will be a benefit you as much as it has been in my own life!