Melanie Albert Knows Fitness

September 18, 2015 9:57 am
Melanie Albert

Image courtesy of Dave Laus

Aside from being an award winning hair stylist and makeup artist, Ottawa’s own Melanie Albert is an accomplished and driven competitive fitness model.

Albert’s first fitness competition was at the Interactive Nutrition SAF Fall Spectacular in October 2010. Albert placed 3rd place, and was given the opportunity to have a photo shoot with legendary fitness photographer Paul Buceta. This competition encouraged Albert to pursue her fitness passion.

Photo courtesy of Paul Buceta

Since then, Albert has been taking the fitness world by storm. She’s participated in multiple competitions around the world, from the International Drug Free Athletics competition in Burlington, Ontario, to the World Body and Fitness Federation fitness show in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Albert loves what she does, and it shows.

Albert’s two first place wins at UFE Chaos Montreal brought her to win the UFE North American Championships in 2011.

Throughout 2013, Albert placed 1st in two fitness shows (Toronto Fitness Star Bikini and the OPA Provincial Bikini Short), has been the first runner up at the SAF Elite Championship, and placed in the top 3 at the CBFF Nationals. Albert is preparing for her next show that will take place on October 17th.

“As a competitor, if I’ve learned one thing it’s that it is important to stay true to your dreams and be positive,” Albert says.

Albert’s daily workout routine is dedicated to cardio, weight lifting and clean eating. Protein is an important component in a healthy diet, promoting fat building and muscle growth. Albert recommends protein sources such as tilapia, chicken and salmon.

Weight lifting is essential in Albert’s fitness goals. Albert’s routines include isolating two muscle groups per workout, three times per week. Albert’s main focus has been building her core and legs with lunges and squats. Albert credits this strategy to her winning a runner-up position with the SAF at the Elite Pro Championship in 2012.

Cardio plays a huge factor in Albert’s workout regime. Albert uses a stair climber, treadmill or an elliptical for, at minimum, 45 minutes each day.

While Albert admits that she can sometimes dread her daily workout routine, she says that she has never regretted a workout. She believes that a good night’s sleep is the best preparation for that early morning workout.

“Exercise your mind, body and soul,” Albert says. “Every move you make toward your goals is an improvement.”

Tummy Time!

September 16, 2015 10:01 am
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There is growing research that demonstrates the importance of “tummy time” for infant development. What exactly is tummy time? Tummy time is simply the time which you allow your baby (while supervised) to lay and play flat on his or her stomach. Studies show that babies who have increased tummy time meet major developmental milestones quicker and develop stronger musculature than those who do not. This makes it easier to do things like roll over, sit up and crawl.

When on their stomach, babies can freely move their arms, hands and legs in all ranges of motion. This helps them to strengthen the muscles of the neck, shoulders, back and legs. The infants who spend more time on their tummies usually crawl earlier too. Crawling is crucial for healthy formation of the hip joints.

Tummy time can also prevent positional plagiocephaly. This is when the back of a baby’s head becomes flat. Since babies skull bones are very soft, the more time they spend on their backs, the more chance the skull bones can shift into a flatter shape. Stomach time can also help prevent torticollis. This is a condition when the head gets persistently turned to one side. Please note that although it is important to place your baby on their stomachs when awake, it is not encouraged for you to place your baby on their stomach while sleeping.

tummytime3So, when and how long should you allow for tummy time? You can start to lay your baby on his or her tummy as soon as they come home from the hospital. Just a few a few minutes at a time, 2-3 times per day will help strengthen your baby’s muscles and increase range of motion. As your baby gets used to being on their stomach, gradually increase the time (up to an hour at a time).

There are several ways you can do tummy time with your baby as well! Aside from letting them lay flat on the ground, you can lay your baby on top of your belly or chest so that they are face-to-face with you. While burping them, sit up and place the baby face down on your knees. This will be very calming for them as well. You can also safely carry your baby around by placing your hand between their legs and under their tummy.

Experiment with tummy time and have fun with your baby while doing it.

Click here for more information about Ottawa Holistic Wellness Centre.

Needles for Anti-Aging and Beauty

September 2, 2015 11:36 am
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Photo courtesy of Dollar Photo Club

With age, many women want a more youthful appearance. You might be thinking, I’m seeking beauty and anti-aging, and you want to stick needles in my face? It might sound like a new concept, but Asian medicine has been using acupuncture for centuries to treat many different physical and emotional concerns. With the age of invasive surgeries, artificial products and injections, many women are turning to alternative methods of rejuvenation and anti-aging, and using acupuncture needles to do it!

Acupuncture aims at balancing the flow of Qi (pronounced ‘chi’) or energy in the body, and tapping into your body’s own resources to help heal itself.

Facial rejuvenation acupuncture is based on the practice and principles of Asian medicine and used to prevent aging, improve skin health and act as a ‘natural facelift’ reversing 10 years of wear and aging from your face.

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Photo courtesy of Dollar Photo Club

How Does It Work?

Facial rejuvenation acupuncture involves thin sterile needles inserted on the face, head and body that allow for facial revitalization while correcting underlying imbalances, boosting the immune system and increasing relaxation. Acupuncture causes tiny “micro-traumas” which increases circulation of blood and nutrients to the face. This leads to skin cell renewal and increased collagen production. Changes include elimination of fine lines, younger brighter skin and complexion, lifting of sagging skin and a reduction in puffiness and under eye bags. Needles are strategically placed to relax the muscles that are causing those unwanted wrinkles and tightening loose skin in other areas to lift and prevent future wrinkles.

Lifestyle and anti-aging?

Reducing signs of aging must include some key lifestyle changes for lasting results. Sleep is paramount in helping your body regenerate its cells, reduce inflammation and puffiness and clear away those under eye bags. Stress can also play an important role.

Higher stress reduces the amount of youthful antioxidants in your body. Antioxidants are meant to help you appear youthful and healthy as well as reduce the risk of chronic disease. While acupuncture does have common positive side effects like improved sleep, better energy and reduced stress, doing your part in lifestyle modification leads to better skin health and facial rejuvenation.

Disclaimer: This article is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

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Photo courtesy of Kaleena Jay Photography

Dr. Josée Boyer is a Naturopathic Doctor at Ottawa Holistic Wellness Centre. Her clinical focus the study of interactions between the psychological processes and the nervous and immune systems of the human body. She focuses on anxiety, stress, insomnia and depression which can cause fatigue, digestive complaints, a weak immune system and pain.

Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame Profile: Sandy Hawley

August 27, 2015 11:02 am
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2015 marks the Year of Sport and the 60th anniversary of Canadas Sports Hall of Fame. In recognition of these important milestones, OLM will be featuring Honoured Members of Canadas Sports Hall of Fame in a weekly Profile piece.

Canadas Sports Hall of Fame aims to share the stories and achievements of its Honoured Members to inspire Canadians in all aspects of life.

Sandy Hawley 1Sandy Hawley, Athlete, Jockey Racing

Sandy Hawley is one of the greatest race-riders Canada has ever produced. Throughout his career he won more than 6,000 races and was awarded horse racing’s highest honours in both Canada and the United States. The athlete is an ambassador for the sport and an inspiration to upcoming jockeys.

Desmond Sanford “Sandy” Hawley, was born in 1949 and raised in Oshawa, Ontario. He was first drawn to the racetrack in 1966, where he worked hot walking horses after they had raced. Wanting to be closer to the horses, Hawley became a regular rider at Toronto’s Woodbine Racetrack within two years.

The athlete won his first race in 1968 and went on to win three more in his first year. In 1969, he was named North America’s top apprentice jockey, achieving the victory again in 1970, 1972, 1973 and 1976. In 1970, Hawley was the continent’s leading race-winning jockey with 452 wins and in the 1973 season, he became the first rider to ever win 500 races in one year.

Hawley then went on to race in California for a decade where he won various prestigious awards including the George Woolf Memorial Jockey Award in 1976. It honours riders who demonstrate high standards of personal and professional conduct both on and off the track. The same year he also won the National Thoroughbred Racing Association’s Eclipse Award as North America’s most outstanding jockey.

The final ride of his remarkable 31-year career was in July of 1998 at Woodbine. This was the last of his 31,455 mounts, of which he had won 6,449, placed second in 4,825 and third in 4,159.Sandy Hawley 2

In his retirement, Hawley has taken on a Public Relations role with Woodbine to continue sharing his passion for horse racing. He hopes his career will help today’s young jockeys understand that although opportunities are always available you cannot fully benefit from them without hard work.

Hawley received the Lou Marsh Trophy in 1973 and 1976 as Canada’s top athlete and was decorated with the Order of Canada. He was inducted into the Canadian Racing Hall of Fame in 1986, the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame in 1992 and Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame in 1998.

To learn more about Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame, visit sportshall.ca.

Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame Profile: Dave Steen

August 20, 2015 10:04 am
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2015 marks the Year of Sport and the 60th anniversary of Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame. In recognition of these important milestones, OLM will be featuring Honoured Members of Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame in a weekly Profile piece.

Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame aims to share the stories and achievements of its Honoured Members to inspire Canadians in all aspects of life.

Dave SteenDave Steen, Athlete, Decathlon

Fast, strong, flexible, coordinated and enduring, decathlete Dave Steen is an icon of the ultimate all-round athletic test. His success in the competition demonstrates the value of commitment and integrity in every sport.

With a former decathlete and coach as a father, Steen naturally became interested in athletics at a young age. He excelled in track and field throughout his youth and won the Sport BC High School Athlete of the Year award in 1977.

Limited indoor training facilities in BC led Steen to seek more options in California. Steen then moved to Toronto where he trained full time, working out six to seven hours every day.

The athlete’s rise to fame began with a decathlon victory at the 1979 Canada Games. Only a few years later, he won a silver medal at the 1982 Commonwealth Games and broke the 8000 point barrier no Canadian had ever exceeded.

Between 1983 and 1986, Steen won gold at the World University Games, the Pan American Games, the Pan Pacific Games and silver at the Commonwealth Games. He was also able to set three world records in the pentathlon in 1983, 1984 and 1986.

Steen ended his 13-year career after winning a Bronze Medal at the 1988 Olympic Games in Seoul, Korea. It was the first time Canada stood on the podium for decathlon.

In recognition of his achievements, Steen has been inducted into the British Columbia Sports Hall of Fame in 1991 and Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame in 1992, as well as the Order of Canada in 1990. He is now a vocal advocate against drug use in sporting, a spokesperson for the Canada Games and an Ambassador for the Government of Canada’s Fair Play Commission.

To learn more about Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame, visit sportshall.ca.

What I Learned as a Medical Student Working with Low-Income Families in Toronto

August 19, 2015 10:01 am
Children's Hospital

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

As a medical student taking part in a Social Paediatrics course at The Hospital for Sick Children, I was recently immersed in the lives and healthcare needs of low-income families in Toronto. This experience reshaped the lens through which I now view healthcare and helped me recognize that societal factors greatly influence the emotional and physical well-being of children and their families.

There were times during this course – which involved working to improve the health young parents’ children, in clinics with multi-disciplinary teams–when I felt overwhelmed by the incredible number of obstacles faced by Toronto families. I met a teenage mother raising her baby in a shelter. I met a refugee who found creative ways to feed herself and her child on $200 a month after escaping an abusive relationship. I learned the source of significant weight loss for a very young teen mother was that her paycheck was used to feed her extended family, not herself.

The Toronto Children’s Aid Society recently published a report saying that 30 per cent of children in Toronto are from low-income families. Put another way, almost 146,000 children are growing up in low-income families in Toronto. They face higher risks for almost every kind of illness and disease.

When a doctor regularly meets patients who face poverty, food insecurity, lack of safe housing and psychosocial stressors, it reinforces the necessity to ask about their social and living conditions. We don’t know unless we ask. And we don’t ask unless we understand the reality of those living in poverty. I was reminded of this after meeting children and mothers who have experienced physical and emotional abuse, for example. I was again reminded after meeting families who might not have insurance or access to government subsidies for medications, lotions or treatments. In these instances, asking questions regarding safety and income becomes paramount.

By the end of medical school, students should all have a good understanding of what public health experts call the social determinants of health. I was reminded of this on a daily basis during this course. I saw countless examples of strength and resilience as well as the power of acts of generosity. This may not be a part of the physiology we study, but it plays a significant role in health and healing. I realized why an understanding of the social conditions of our patients should shape our approach to health and healthcare.

But to translate our knowledge of the social determinants of health into our practice can be a challenge for medical students and residents.

Medical schools teach a lot about patient-centered care. But there is a need for more exposure to the daily struggles of disadvantaged families. There is also a need to integrate patient advocacy into medicine in order to learn practical ways to create meaningful change. This means providing treatment options that are feasible, affordable and practical for families. It requires insight into food and housing insecurity and how poverty may manifest as illness or present challenges to adhere to treatment.

My time at SickKids also gave me some insight into the dedication of community organizations and allied health professionals in addressing unmet needs on an individual, community and policy level.

I wish more of my fellow medical students could share this experience of immersion into a culture of medical practice where a deep understanding of the experiences of marginalized groups influences not only the questions asked, but the treatment strategy and approach.

Many of my peers in social paediatrics have helped me understand a doctor’s role as an advocate–how to address injustice within the healthcare system and ways to design a medical practice to see health beyond illness. Social determinants of health are no longer an abstract concept.

Cameron LitaLita Cameron is a Family Medicine resident at McMaster University. She completed her Masters in Global Health Science at Oxford University. She worked previously for the Public Health Agency of Canada and has been involved in aboriginal health research.

 

 

 

 

rsz_ford_jones_leeElizabeth Lee-Ford Jones is an expert advisor with EvidenceNetwork.ca, and Professor of Paediatrics at The Hospital for Sick Children and the University of Toronto.

What’s Your Story? The Future of Healthcare

August 18, 2015 1:56 pm
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Photo Courtesy of Dollar Photo Club.

Jane, 44 lay frozen on the treatment table. A few seconds before a searing bolt of pain had gone through her back as though someone had just stabbed her with a red-hot poker.

She looked up at the health practitioner and asked, “I don’t understand where this pain has come from.”

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Photo Courtesy of Dollar Photo Club.

The practitioner pulled up a chair beside the table and said, “Tell me about your health since you a baby and then I’ll tell you why you are here next to me lying in pain.”

Jane was born in Kingston, Ontario through an emergency C-section. For her mother, the pregnancy had been a nightmare and by the time she left the hospital seven days later her body was depleted and she was physically exhausted. As a result, breastfeeding had not been an option and Jane began life on bottled cow’s milk. Over the next few months, Jane’s mother regained her strength and baby Jane appeared to be doing well. It was only after her first set of vaccinations that the frequent ear and throat infections began and would continue only until at the age of six, the doctors removed her tonsils. After that things settled down and Jane enjoyed a healthy five years.

At 11, she had her first period and for the first couple of months things appeared normal, but the third month was extremely painful. After a couple of months, Jane’s mother took her to their family physician who prescribed a birth control pill. Just as five years earlier, the medical intervention resolved her symptoms.

In school, Jane was a keen ice hockey player with enough talent that by the age of 14 she was playing at high level. This meant practicing three to four times per week and numerous tournaments through each season. It was after a couple of years that Jane began to develop problems with her knees and hips that despite regular physiotherapy would not resolve, and it became increasingly more uncomfortable for Jane to maintain her heavy hockey schedule. After another six months, she was dropped from the hockey program and like so many young Canadians, her dream of playing hockey for her country was over.

She continued her schooling, went to college, got a job working for the government, married at 30 and now has two children. Her health had been generally good, but she suffered from constipation and an occasional episode of lower back pain that came and went.

After listening to her story, the doctor said to Jane, “What do you think caused you to be lying here in so much pain?”

“I have no idea”, she said, “All I did was to bend down to big up my five-year-old and just felt my back go.”

The doctor smiled and said, “That is a very short story for such a big pain. In my experience, when people come into my office complaining of symptoms, I see that as just the most recent page in the story of their life and like with all stories, every page before has played a part leading up to them lying on my table.”

“So what you are saying is that the pain is my fault,” Jane replied. “But how does that help my pain now?”

The doctor smiled again and said, “What I am saying is that it is the fault of your life, not you. I’m pretty sure you have not deliberately brought this pain on yourself. What I am sure of is that this pain is not life-threatening and will resolve itself. The important thing to learn from this pain, as with any other symptom, is that you have to listen and learn from it. To me the message is that your story so far has shaped your health to this point. You now have the chance to rewrite some past wrongs and to create a healthier future. That is going to bring with it a different type of pain in the form of change, but I will be here to support you, so you will not be alone, and I can promise you will not have to go through such pain again.”

Kate smiled and said, “I’m in, but I have a question. Why did my doctor not tell me this rather than just giving me pain killers?”

“That’s a good question.” The practitioner replied, “What is more important is that this is the future of your healthcare.”

Disclaimer: This article is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame Profile: Michelle Cameron Coulter

August 13, 2015 9:53 am
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2015 marks the Year of Sport and the 60th anniversary of Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame. In recognition of these important milestones, OLM will be featuring Honoured Members of Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame in a weekly Profile piece.

Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame aims to share the stories and achievements of its Honoured Members to inspire Canadians in all aspects of life.

Michelle Cameron Coulter, Athlete, Synchronized Swimming

As an Olympic Gold Medalist, entrepreneur, philanthropist, wife and Michelle Coulter 1mother, synchronized swimmer Michelle Cameron Coulter inspires Canadians to reach their full potential.

Cameron Coulter grew up in Calgary with nine siblings. She had an extreme fear of water as a child, but eventually overcame her anxieties and quickly mastered the skill and art of synchronized swimming.  

In 1976, Cameron Coulter joined the Calgary Aquabelles Synchronized Swimming Club, marking the beginning of her competitive athletic career. While Cameron Coulter was part of the team, they went on to win six of eight national championships between 1981 and 1988.

It was the Aquabelles coach who paired Cameron Coulter with teammate Carolyn Waldo in 1985 for the duet event. A perfect match, the women won almost every major duet competition they entered, including the 1985 Rome and Spanish Opens, 1986 Commonwealth Games, 1986 World Championships and the 1987 Pan Pacific Championships. At the height of their athletic career, they won Gold  at the Olympic Games in Seoul in 1988. Cameron Coulter’s win marked the first time an Albertan ever won a Gold Medal at the Olympic Games.

Not only is Cameron Coulter a leader in the pool, but also in the community. She has dedicated her time to numerous non-profit and charitable organizations in addition to forming two of her own. Her company, Gold Medal Inspirations, encourages others to find opportunities in their everyday life and seize them without hesitation. She is also the co-founder and principal of GEMS, which has a mission to create a bigger definition of success for women in business. As well, the retired athlete has been on the board of directors for many companies and organizations like the Canadian Coaching Association, Alberta Sports Hall of Fame and the Special Olympics. Most recently, she was asked to be a Founding Council Member of the WSA, a global association of women speakers.

Cameron Coulter has been inducted into the Alberta Sports Hall of Fame and Canada’s  Sports Hall of Fame along with the International Aquatic Hall of Fame. In 1988, she was also made a Member of the Order of Canada in recognition of her outstanding contributions to the country.

To learn more about Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame, visit sportshall.ca.

Stay Ahead of Pregnancy Posture

August 11, 2015 10:12 am
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Aside from the obvious belly growth in pregnancy, many lesser known changes occur within a woman’s body. The average healthy Canadian woman will gain about 30 pounds during pregnancy. Most of this weight is concentrated around the abdominal region. This added load puts extra stress on the back, hips, knees, ankles, and feet. As a result, postural changes occur as a way to compensate for the transformation.

Most women will notice this posture change in the second trimester. As the baby gets bigger and the belly grows with it, the body’s center of gravity will shift forward. For this reason, the spine and muscles must shift positions to maintain stability. As a result, the lower back begins to develop a more pronounced curve and the shoulders shift backwards for counterbalance.

As a woman enters her third trimester, additional postural changes can occur. In this stage, a hormone called relaxin will increase. As the name implies, relaxin “relaxes” the muscles, joints, and ligaments in a woman’s body in order to allow the uterus to grow. It also prepares the pelvis to stretch for delivery. This loosening of the joint ligaments can also cause instability in the spine. In this case, the woman may experience additional back and hip pain due to the shift.

In order to prevent back and pelvic pain during pregnancy, there are several things you can do:

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In order to keep the body aligned, try contracting your abdominal and buttock muscles as often as possible. This will act like a natural corset around your spine and help stabilize the joints naturally. It will reduce strain on the stretched ligaments. Also try to avoid standing for long periods of time. If you must stand for longer increments, rest one foot on a stool to help take pressure off your lower back. Pregnancy back belts can also be purchased to help take strain off your lumbar spine. Since your shoulder will want to roll backwards, keep your chin tucked in so that it is in line with your shoulders.

Since your center of gravity will be shifted forward, avoid wearing high-heeled shoes. High heels will push your weight further forward. Furthermore, do not cross your legs as it will cause your pelvis to become more off balance.

A good sleeping position will be on your side with a pillow between your legs. This takes stress off your lower back and will not decrease blood flow to the baby. You can also put a pillow under your belly to support the baby and another behind your back.

Exercise

When it comes to exercise, you need to find a healthy balance. You should be doing regular gentle exercise (3-4 times per week) like walking, swimming, biking, and yoga. Avoid intense cardio classes, heavy weight training or cross-fit type programs.

Being fit before you become pregnant will not reduce your risk of back or pelvic pain, however, maintaining fitness and exercising throughout the nine months will reduce your risk of this type of pain from occurring.

Although postural changes occur during pregnancy, do not fear, if you get pregnant, it is important to remember that you will return to pre-pregnancy state after the baby is born.

If you are experiencing back pain during pregnancy, conservative care such as spinal manipulation and mobilization from a chiropractor or other therapist can help. Soft tissue therapy and acupuncture can also help reduce pain and improve function.

Click here for more information about Ottawa Holistic Wellness Centre.

Curtis Lu is a Homegrown Taekwondo Champion

August 6, 2015 2:02 pm
Curtis Lu

In just two months, Ottawa’s Sabum Curtis Lu has won four gold medals for taekwondo in local and international tournaments.

The 19-year-old’s first two golds came on June 13, during the Gen. Choi Legacy World Cup. That tournament, held at Algonquin College here in Ottawa, honours one of taekwondo’s founders, Korean major-general Choi Hong-Hi, who passed away in 2002. The event drew in more than 300 competitors from around Canada, the United States and Pakistan.

Lu won in sparring and patterns, which requires athletes to cycle through precise movements to show their strength and discipline.

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Ottawa’s taekwondo team at the USTF tournament near Boston.

Lu’s next win came just last month on July 25, during the USTF International open taekwondo championship held west of Boston, Massachusetts. Facing opponents from more than five countries, Lu walked away with two more gold medals, again for sparring and pattern black belt division.

The larger Canadian team, all of whom were from Ottawa, also brought home another gold and a bronze medal from the competition.

Raised by two taekwondo masters, Lu was training before he started elementary school.

“I was technically three when I started, but I’ve been around it since I was born,” he says.

Lu currently holds a third degree black-belt. Although black is the highest belt colour one can achieve, it has different ranks, each harder to achieve than the last. Lu’s two sisters are second degree black belts, his mother is an eighth, and his father, taekwondo legend Phap Lu, is a ninth degree black belt.

“It’s a family affair,” Lu laughs, adding that only a handful of people in the world have a ninth degree like his father. “I’d say around 10 or so. It’s a lifelong journey.”

Curtis Lu’s father was a member of General Choi Hong-hi’s inner circle, and he helped the founder spread his new martial art across the world. Now, Phap Lu owns multiple Lu’s Taekwondo training gyms here in Ottawa.

Aside from training and winning taekwondo tournaments, Curtis Lu also studies Marketing at the University of Ottawa. He plans to follow in his parents’ footsteps by continuing his training and eventually running the gyms.

“The big plan is to take over my dad’s school,” he says.

Lu has his eye on an upcoming September tournament in New York City, but it may interfere with his school schedule. Regardless, you’ll definitely want to keep an eye out for what this promising local athlete will win next.

Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame Profile: Rick Hansen

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2015 marks the Year of Sport and the 60th anniversary of Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame. In recognition of these important milestones, OLM will be featuring Honoured Members of Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame in a weekly Profile piece.

Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame aims to share the stories and achievements of its Honoured Members to inspire Canadians in all aspects of life.

Rick Hansen, Athlete, Wheelchair Athletics

Rick Hansen’s response to tragedy makes him an inspiration to all Rick HansenCanadians.

Hansen grew up in Williams Lake, British Columbia. He was a natural athlete and passionate about all kinds of sports, especially volleyball and basketball.

In June 1973, Hansen and his friend Don Alder were returning home after a week-long fishing trip. Riding in the back of a pick-up truck, the two were thrown out of the vehicle when it went off the road. Although the crash left Don relatively unharmed, the incident forever changed Hansen’s life. He sustained a spinal cord injury and was paralyzed from the waist down, preventing him from ever walking again.

Hansen was not prepared to let his new physical restrictions limit what future possibilities stood before him.

Three years after the accident, Hansen enrolled at the University of British Columbia and was the first person with a physical disability to graduate with a degree in Physical Education. During his time there, he played for the Vancouver Cable Cars, a wheelchair basketball team, and led them to win six national championships between 1976 and 1982.

Hansen turned his focus to track between 1979 and 1984, winning 19 international wheelchair marathons, including the 1984 World Wheelchair Championships. He also won nine gold medals and set nine records at the 1982 Pan-American Wheelchair Games along with gold, silver and bronze medals at the 1980 and 1984 Paralympic Summer Games.

Hansen has participated in several championships from wheelchair basketball to tennis, but he is perhaps best known for his commitment to make a difference for those living with spinal cord injuries.

The Man in Motion tour began on March 21, 1985. After two years and one day, Hansen had wheeled an amazing 40,072km through 34 countries on four continents. His efforts raised a total of $26.1 million for spinal cord research, rehabilitation and wheelchair sport.

Hansen’s momentum didn’t fade after the tour’s end.

In 1988, he created The Rick Hansen Foundation. It is a charitable organization that has raised more than $245 million for a variety of programs and initiatives aimed at creating an inclusive community for people living with disabilities. He is also committed to mentoring young people about social responsibility and supporting environmental conservation and sustainability.

Hansen is a courageous Canadian whose accomplishments go far beyond athletics.

To learn more about Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame, visit sportshall.ca.

NHL Developments: A Quick Recap of Pre-Season News

August 5, 2015 10:01 am
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Photo courtesy of Falling Heavens.

As you know, the 2015-16 season gets under way on October 7th, which is just two months away. There has been a lot developing in pre-season, including some controversy for the league as a whole.

The NHL is placed under legal scrutiny

Concussion and head trauma in sport has been brought the fore of public conversation when it comes to contact sport. When a sport is as physically demanding as hockey, you automatically expect the necessary safeguards that protect the players’ health and safety to be in place.

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Photo courtesy of Kaz Andrew.

However, in recent months, a battle has raged between the NHL and players who have suffered from head trauma. Previously injured players are suing the league for not doing more to protect their health, even though the league has shown to be aware of the effects of head trauma on long-term cognitive performance.

The Ottawa Senators were dealt several blows last season as both goaltender Robin Lehner and forward Clarke MacArthur were diagnosed with concussions. Both players suffered their injuries against the Carolina Hurricanes in mid-February and likely played a part in the overhaul that is currently ongoing.

In a landmark ruling, the court has ruled that the NHL must hand over its data in relation to players suffering concussions and related head injuries in order for a judge to decide if the league has failed to sufficiently protect its players.

Movers, shakers and performers

There’s been a lot of talk about certain players needing to prove their worth in the NHL, from rookies to unsettled vets. There has also been a lot of rapid movement in the free agency, with more than 150 players signing to new teams in just five days.

All of this makes for a turbulent start to the season, as teams adjust to their new players and configurations. This is part of the reason why Bet365 has fluctuating NHL odds for games at the start of the season. With all of these changes occurring, it’s quite difficult to call.

Make sure you stay up to date with all the latest NHL news – a lot can change before the start of the season.

Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame Profile: Curt Harnett

July 30, 2015 2:05 pm
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2015 marks the Year of Sport and the 60th anniversary of Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame. In recognition of these important milestones, OLM will be featuring Honoured Members of Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame in a weekly Profile piece.

Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame aims to share the stories and achievements of its Honoured Members to inspire Canadians in all aspects of life.

Curtis 1Curt Harnett, Athlete, Cycling Track

Peddling to the medals, Curt Harnett is one of Canada’s leading racing cyclists.

Curt Harnett found a love for cycling when he first started riding a bike, without training wheels, at five-years-old. It was his high school football coach who introduced him to the competitive sport as a way to stay in shape during the hockey off-season. Eventually, a contender for a spot in the OHL, Harnett decisively left his skates for a bicycle in 1982.

He has represented Canada four times at the Olympic Games, bringing home three medals. In 1984, he won silver in the 1,000m time trial, along with a bronze in the 1992 and 1996 match sprint. He has also won more than 30 national titles including two match sprint silver medals from the 1990 and 1994 Commonwealth Games. As well, he won a gold 1,000m time trial medal and bronze match sprint medal at the 1987 Pan American Games.

On top of these achievements, Harnett was the first man to break the 10-second barrier for 200m. He set the record of 9.865 seconds in 1995 in Bogota, Colombia, averaging at a speed of nearly 73 km/h, he held the astounding record for 11 years.

Although Harnett retired in 1996, he has remained an involved member of the Canadian cycling community. He was a colour commentator at the Olympics in Sydney (2000), Athens (2004) and London (2012), and has been involved with numerous charities across Canada including the Special Olympics and Right to Play. Harnett has also given back through his involvement with the Board of Directors for the Canadian Cycling Association, the Canadian Olympic Committee and the City of Toronto’s bid for the 2008 Olympic Games. Most recently, he was the Chef de Mission for Canada at the Pan Am Games in Toronto.

Barnett also manages to find time for touring as a motivational speaker. He draws on his own experiences in the sport to encourage young Canadians to aim high and reach their dreams.

To learn more about Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame, visit sportshall.ca.

Why is Everyone so Happy, and I’m Not?

July 29, 2015 3:00 pm
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If you are reading this, there is a good chance you, or someone you know isn’t very happy. There are plenty of things you want to do with your life but the unhappiness, low motivation and lack of energy is too difficult to overcome. Not to mention the amount of stigma regarding depression and mental health which is a realistic barrier to reaching out for help from a friend, loved one and most importantly a doctor that can diagnose and find appropriate treatment.

According to CAMH (Canadian Association for Mental Health), 1 in 5 Canadians experience a mental health or addiction problem and is the leading cause of disability in Canada. It is thought that roughly 8% of the population will experience a major depressive episode at some point in their lives. And this number doesn’t account for the people who may have dysthymia, chronic low mood that often goes undiagnosed. So when we contemplate, why is everyone so happy, and I’m not? Chances are you are not alone, as the spectrum of mental illness affects more people than you think.

How can you start feeling happier?
Whether you are taking medication, or seeking a natural solution to boost mood, there are things you can do today to help you lift depression. While every case is different and unique, there are universal basics that I recommend for everyone. Once you get started on the basics, you can consult a naturopathic doctor for more targeted treatments with natural supplements, botanicals or acupuncture to support a healthy mood.

Mood Basics #1: Drink water and eat “happy mood food”.
Your body and brain need to receive the appropriate fuel to function optimally. Drink 1-2 litres of water and eat whole grains, lots of fruits and veggies, nuts and seeds, and fresh fish. I like to call these ‘happy mood foods’ since they fuel the brain and have mood-enhancing actions. There are plenty more to choose from, but start here and you’ll be on your way.

Mood Basics #2: Take a fish oil supplement and vitamin D
There is abundant research showing that a daily fish oil supplement containing appropriate levels of EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) can improve and maintain a positive mood. If you are vegan, consider flax oil (while not as potent, it is better than not using a healthy oil at all). Taking a daily active vitamin D3 supplement is another good addition. It acts like a hormone in your body that research has shown can boost mood.

Mood Basics #3: Step away from the TV and get moving and interacting every day.
I recognize that this step might be a challenge. Motivation is often difficult with depression and low mood. But moving your body is a potent antidepressant and can include walking, tai chi, swimming or yoga. Get up and do something physical for 30 minutes. As well, people who are happier tend to spend less time in front of the TV and more time connecting with others – visit a family member, have coffee with a friend, take your dog to the social dog park or attend church. Human connection is powerful and healing.

I hope that these few mood basics can get you on your way to feeling better. There is hope in lifting depression and being happier, because you deserve to feel like your best self.

theyarehappy_imnot_image2Disclaimer: This article is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

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By Dr. Josée Boyer, ND

Josée is a Naturopathic Doctor at Ottawa Holistic Wellness Centre. Her clinical focus the study of interactions between the psychological processes and the nervous and immune systems of the human body. She focuses on anxiety, stress, insomnia, hormone health and depression which can cause fatigue, digestive complaints, a weak immune system and pain.

An Unwelcome Guest Returns to Formula One

July 27, 2015 2:01 pm
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Jules Bianchi in his Marussia formula F1 car.

This month, after a 21-year hiatus, an unwelcome guest returned to Formula One racing.

Crash 1

Jules Bianchi’s crash at the 2014 Japanese Grand Prix.

At the rain-soaked 2014 Japanese Grand Prix on Sunday, October 5, Marussia F1 driver, 25-year-old Jules Bianchi, a native of Nice, France, lost control of his car and slammed into the back of an industrial mobile crane that was removing the crashed Sauber car that German driver Adrian Sutil had walked away from on the previous lap. Bianchi’s Marussia rounded Dunlop curve and hit the back of the crane at close to 100 miles per hour, generating enough impact force to temporarily make the crane leap into the air and off the edge of the soggy track. Bianchi suffered a severe traumatic brain injury known as diffuse axonal injury which had left him in a coma since the October 5 crash. On July 17 of this year, some nine months later, Bianchi succumbed to his injuries.

Bianchi’s death marks the first death in Formula One since the infamous 1994 season, a season that was particularly dangerous due to mandated changes in the Formula One rules which eliminated the use of drivers’ aids such as ABS (anti-locking brakes), adaptive suspensions and traction control, to name but a few, in an effort to increase competition amongst drivers. The intent was to emphasize driver skills and eliminate what was widely perceived as an unhealthy reliance on technical aids that were supposedly making the cars easier to drive and therefore limiting competition among the drivers themselves. When it came to technology, the less is more approach to racing in the 1994 season would prove fatal, claiming the lives of two drivers: Austrian rookie Roland Ratzenberger and three-time Formula One world champion Ayrton Senna, both of whom were killed in high speed crashes that occurred only one day apart at the 1994 San Marino Grand Prix in Imola, Italy. Ratzenberger’s crash took place on qualifying day, Saturday, April 30, whereas Senna’s occurred the following day during the Grand Prix itself.

Crash 3

Roland Ratzenberger’s 1994 fatal crash.

Unlike Bianchi’s collision, both of the fatal crashes in 1994 occurred in dry conditions. During qualifying for what would have been his second ever Grand Prix race, the damaged front wing on Ratzenberger’s Simtek car broke off, leaving the car uncontrollable due to a lack of sufficient downforce and causing it to careen into a wall at a blistering 196 miles per hour. The very next day, Senna climbed into his Williams car for the last time. Tucked into the cockpit of Senna’s car was an Austrian flag that he planned on waving during his victory lap as a sportsmanly form of honoring the recently departed Ratzenberger. That opportunity never came.

On the seventh lap of the San Marino Grand Prix, Senna slammed into a wall at approximately 135 miles per hour and fell victim to a fatal combination of circumstance. The sheer force of the impact itself had thrust one of the Williams’ front wheels into the cockpit, violently forcing Senna’s head back into the headrest and fracturing his skull, and the front suspension had broken apart on the crash sending shrapnel through the visor of his helmet. By the time he was extracted from the mangled car, Senna had lost all brain activity. By that evening he was dead.

In the immediate aftermath of the deadly 1994 San Marino Grand Prix, rigorous new safety requirements were introduced. The back to basics approach of the 1994 season (concerning technology and, more specifically, drivers’ aids) was quickly jettisoned. Subsequent seasons would once again embrace technology in the name of both safety and speed. Consequently, in the two decades since 1994, Formula One racing has become a substantially safer and faster sport. But, as Jules Bianchi’s recent accident in Japan reminds us, no matter how technologically advanced the cars may now be and no matter how skilled the athletes who drive them may be, risk cannot be eliminated completely. With this in mind, death, the unwelcome guest, returns to Formula One racing. Perhaps the iconic lost-generation writer F. Scott Fitzgerald was right when he ended The Great Gatsby by stating that, “So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.”

Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame Profile: Brian Orser

July 23, 2015 1:50 pm
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2015 marks the Year of Sport and the 60th anniversary of Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame. In recognition of these important milestones, OLM will be featuring Honoured Members of Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame in a weekly Profile piece.

Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame aims to share the stories and achievements of its Honoured Members to inspire Canadians in all aspects of life.

Brian Orser, Athlete, Figure Skating

Pure talent and determination combined with a sense of musicality and creativity, _DSC8542 Brian OrserBrian Orser had the whole package as an international competitive figure skater.

Born in 1961 and raised in Penetanguishine, Ontario, Orser began skating when he was six years old. In 1977, he won the novice skating Champions of Canada and two years later took first prize at the Junior Canadian Championships. As well that year, he became the first Junior and second person ever to land the triple axel in competition. Nicknamed “Mr. Triple Axel,” he was also the first skater to land it in the Olympics. He won a Silver medal for Canada at the Olympic Winter Game in 1984 and four years later, won another Silver at the Olympic Winter Games in Calgary.

On top of these achievements, Orser was eight-time Canadian National Champion from 1981 to 1988. He also won the World Championships in 1987, where he became the first competitor to land two triple axels in the free skate and three in the same competition.

In 1986, Orser achieved one of his greatest honours — being inducted as a member of the Order of Canada. It recognized not only his skill as an athlete, but also his contribution as an unofficial ambassador of Canada. On top of this distinction, in 1990 he won a Primetime Emmy for his televised performance of Carmen on Ice.

After dedicating a career and lifestyle to professional figure skating, Brian Orser continues to show his passion for the artistic sport by generously sharing his knowledge with the next generations of skaters.

In 2006, he decided to retire from competing and fully devote himself to coaching. He has led both Kim Yuna (2010) and Yuzuru Hanyu (2014) to Olympic Gold along with Javier Fernández to the 2015 World title. He has also been the head skating instructor at the Toronto Cricket Skating and Curling Club since 2005. Orser continues today to coach a variety of skaters from international medalists to up-and-coming youngsters.

To learn more about Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame, visit sportshall.ca.

Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame Profile: Jacques Villeneuve

July 16, 2015 12:00 pm
CSHoF Hall Photo (1)

2015 marks the Year of Sport and the 60th anniversary of Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame. In recognition of these important milestones, OLM will be featuring Honoured Members of Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame in a weekly Profile piece.

Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame aims to share the stories and achievements of its Honoured Members to inspire Canadians in all aspects of life.

Jacques V.Jacques Villeneuve, Athlete, Auto Racing

After loosing his father tragically in a racing accident during the 1982 Belgian Grand Prix, Jacques Villeneuve was determined to follow his dad’s footsteps with a professional career in motorsport. Remaining courageous yet cautious, Villeneuve is an inspiration for others to stop at nothing.

Villeneuve was born in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Quebec, to aspiring Formula One driver Gilles Villeneuve. His uncle, Jacques Sr., was also a racing driver.

At the age of 15, Villeneuve enrolled in the Jim Russell Racing Driver’s School in Quebec – the same school his father had attended and where the young Canadian began to learn his craft under the direction of his uncle.

His racing career started at the age of 17. From 1989 to 1991 he drove on the Italian Formula Three (F3) racing circuit and then moved to racing F3 cars in Japan the following season. Overseas, he won three races and finished second in overall points standing. The next year brought him more victories on the Formula Atlantic racing circuit in North America. He placed first in five races and was recognized as Rookie of the Year.

Perhaps Villeneuve is most remembered for being the Indy 500 Winner in 1995, the Indy Car World Series Champion that same year and the Formula One World Champion in 1997.

After 11 years on the F1 circuit and before retiring in 2006, Villeneuve had won 11 races, recorded 23 podiums and claimed 13 pole positions. Having been born just 50 kilometres from the track, the racer refused to let anything stand in the way of his adventurous spirit. He remained determined to chase his dream and quench his thirst for adrenaline.

To learn more about Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame, visit sportshall.ca.

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