Stepping into a healthy lifestyle

Stepping into a healthy lifestyle
During an appointment with her physician in 2011, busy working mother Lori North, 53, was advised to reduce her fat intake and increase her physical activity. At 5 ft 4 inches, 185 lbs and a size 16, she decided to make a change to her sedentary lifestyle. 

She started with a low-impact activity called urban pole walking. By making it part of her daily routine and improving her nutrition, she lost 45 lbs, is a size 8 and feels energized instead of perpetually tired. 

The Vancouver resident says she had used her flat feet as an excuse not to exercise for many years. She had tried taking Zumba classes, but found her busy and unpredictable work schedule stopped her from going to class more than once a week. After sustaining a foot injury, North tried urban poling in an effort to help reduce the strain on her feet. She found the poles also provided more exercise for her arms and it was this discovery that helped her decide that poling would be her best option for a convenient daily fitness activity. 
"Urban poling helped me to keep on track with daily exercise, because there aren't any excuses to not use them on a daily basis. I work from home and downtown but my schedule is unpredictable; I found that if I left the poles by my desk, I could easily walk out the door for 30 minutes and I only needed a good pair of walking or running shoes. No shower or change of clothes required," she says. 

North even took the poles with her when she recently attended a meeting downtown. She decided to walk home as far as she could. Following a route of public transportation stops, she ended up walking 11 km. 

North was motivated to get her fitness level up in order to participate in a fundraiser event for cancer.

"The event was 'Bust-a-Move' -- it's an all day fitness event with six 45 minute classes including bootcamp and Zumba. I thought it would be a good goal for me to try to see if I could participate and also gave me an incentive to try other cardio classes, like body sculpting," she says.

North says she doesn't think she could have completed the event if she hadn't take up walking first. 

She's even gone an extra step and obtained a certificate to teach urban poling to others. It started at a church conference. North noticed there weren't many activities planned outside the conference so she offered to help people learn about urban poling.

"I borrowed 15 sets of poles, offered a session to show people how to do it, the session was filled up, everyone loved it," she says. 

She also says she notices a big difference if she doesn't keep up with her exercise routine every day.

"There was a period of a couple weeks where I didn't get out to exercise because life got busy. My body felt miserable," says North. 

She says she's also made a switch to a healthier diet, which was previously filled lots of fast foods, carbs and snacks between meals. She says portion and fat control simply weren't on her radar. 

North now sticks to eating just 20 grams of fat a day. "That's all I monitor because thinking of other aspects of my diet is too complicated. I couldn't monitor all the salts or carbs for example," she says. 

North says she makes sure to include lots of fruit and vegetables and has steered away from red meat, instead sticking to fish and poultry.

She recommends that if other moms want to get healthy, they should keep trying different activities that can be squeezed into their busy lives. 

"Try different classes, you might surprise yourself and find something that clicks with you. Fit in walking wherever you can. If you can do a 10 minute walk four times a day then that's 40 minutes of fitness. If you put in a good cardio walk throughout the day, that is interval training which is very beneficial," she says.

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