Life in Balance

Through this online art blog/gallery we can encourage, inspire and share hope with one another…We invite who you to share your “NAPS” (News, Art ,Poetry, Songs) or inspirations. Email if you would like to share inspirations. Please note we can not post advice with regards to nutrition and exercise.

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Centre for Addiction and Mental Health: Transforming a Community

The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) was all over The Toronto Star this past Saturday with articles about accessing services at the centre, new technology, architecture as healing power and even a glossary of ever-evolving mental health terms.

Didn’t get The Star this weekend? No worries. You can read all the articles, here!

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Writing to cope

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I’ve always been a writer.
In grade one, I kept a diary in a book with Tweety Bird on the front cover. It had a lock and key as well as confessions of my first crush.
In grade eight I had to write weekly journals for school, one being about a neighbour who passed away from Leukemia at the age of five. I was asked to share this one to my class. When I looked up from my notebook, everyone had tears in their eyes.
In high school, my journal’s front cover was decorated with City and Colour and Dashboard Confessional lyrics. On the inside, I wrote about high school frustrations, parties, friends, ex-friends, fights and stresses with family.
For the majority of my university career, I kept a blog, where I would write on a daily basis and communicate with my 100+ followers about how things were going, issues I felt like ranting about and my battle with confidence.
Photo by: Basykes
Last week, I felt the urge to start journaling privately again (in a notebook for my eyes only). So, I went out and purchased a notebook from the dollar store. I don’t just write about difficult topics or not-so-great days, but I also write about challenges, opportunities and my goal to stay positive.
It’s safe to say that for majority of my life, I’ve been writing to cope.
Sometimes, I keep feelings to myself. After a hard day at work, a family fight, a crushing realization or a difficult encounter, I really do not want to talk about the traumas I’ve experienced. As time goes on, though, I don’t feel relieved. Instead, I feel as if the things that have gotten under my skin are now in my blood stream preventing me from sleeping at night.
My thoughts revolve around the bothers that soon begin to eat away at my self-confidence, spirituality and sense of self.
After writing a journal entry about my day, including how I felt in each situation, however, I feel freed. I feel my chest change from the mass of a heavy paperweight to a light feather. I feel at peace and continue my day, or move on to the next one, with ease and a smile.
When traumatic or inspirational incidents take place, they fall into those two categories subjectively. What I feel is traumatic may not be on the same level as another person’s trauma, but the incident that may have disturbed me has subjectively become my own.
Writing down my thoughts allows me to communicate with my number one: Me. I can confide in my journal and myself because book binds, lined paper and pens don’t judge and neither do I. I know the thoughts and feelings I have and when I write them down, I am communicating with the one person who knows me best.
Most of the time, these journals become self-reflections. I’ll start off writing in an irritated or concerned tone and by my last sentence, I’ve mentally accepted the situation and found a way to look past it. I write down these re-evaluations, too.
The best part about journal writing for me, though, is when I go back and read entries from years, months, weeks, days or moments before. When I write, I keep in mind that my audience is myself. So, when I go back and read what I had written, I’m not only remembering how I felt earlier, but I’m also effectively coping with whatever experience I had written about (whether good or bad).
And when I close my journal and cap my pen, the tough moments or exciting revelations are still there, but this time, they don’t keep me from doing my best nor do they keep me up at night.
— Leviana Coccia

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Diets: You lose more than just weight

A friend of mine teaches Sunday school and a few weeks ago he texted me from class saying, “These [girls] are in grade six and seven and they are talking about their weight.”

After reading the text message, my jaw dropped! These girls weren’t even in high school and yet they were fussing about their weight. I also thought back to when I was nine or 10-years-old. I was told numerous times that I was fat, ugly, worthless and a goody-goody. Once, before performing a dance in the talent show, a boy in my class said to me, “No fat chicks allowed dancing.” After my short blast from the past, I asked my friend to elaborate on what he had overheard at Sunday school.

“Talking about how they had a slumber party and all weighed themselves at the beginning and end to see if they lost weight,” my friend said. “One lost one pound and [the others] were jealous.”

According to the National Eating Disorder Information Centre (NEDIC), 40 per cent of nine-year-old girls have dieted, despite being within a healthy weight range. NEDIC also says that human bodies come naturally in a range of sizes.

“We inherit a genetic set-point around which, with healthy lifestyles, our weight will fluctuate a few pounds,” reads the centre’s brochure called, “Dieting & Weight Loss: Facts and Fiction.” 

Being asked, “Did you lose some weight?” is often followed by, “Wow. Great job. You look fantastic,” or something of that nature, when really, an individual who lost a certain number of pounds may not have needed to, at all, should they have been at a healthy body weight.

NEDIC also says the following in their “Dieting & Weight Loss: Facts and Fiction” brochure, “Some people will naturally be thinner, a larger number will be naturally average and another group will be naturally fatter. It is healthiest to remain at your natural set-point weight.”

Although my natural body-weight may not be my ideal, it is the weight at which I am going to be the healthiest.

“And when we are healthy, we have the energy and vitality to live our lives to the fullest, and to look our best,” the NEDIC brochure says, as well.

A person receiving the positive reinforcement may be suffering terribly and addicting comments encouraging negative behaviours like restricting food and excessive exercise can lead to self-doubt and acts of self-harm.

Photo by: Leviana Coccia

There was a time in my life where I was extremely concerned with my weight and I spent months obsessing over the number on the scale, like the girls my friend texted me about. It was as if losing weight was the only thing that was supposed to be on my to-do list.  These behaviours of mine could have turned into an obsession that could have eventually taken my life, literally speaking if they were to result in an eating disorder but also because these actions slowly started to take away my joy, resilience and openness that are all vital to a healthy life.

It was as if a number on the scale defined me, in place of my self-worth, self-love, self-awareness and ability to stay centered on goals of my choice. Everything about me on the inside seemed not to matter when I was given addicting compliments about how great I looked at my new weight. And, it was extremely hard when others around me were dieting and exercising excessively, essentially doing the same thing as me, and losing more weight than I was. I felt jealous, like those girls my friend talked about in the text message. This competitive edge can be dangerous because self-worth can be replaced by external measures, like negating oneself that could spark the beginning of isolation.

That’s when I realized I would never be able to look the best, be the best or feel the best based on other people’s standards because I couldn’t define myself based on what others perceived of me. And, no two people are comparable, because every person is so unique. Instead, my self-awareness and self-definition needed to come from who I was entirely: How I defined myself, without outside prejudices and judgements.

When on a diet, you can lose more than just weight. NEDIC says you can also lose your sense of humour, muscle and lean tissue, water (which means you could end up dehydrated), money (after spending tons on diet products – and for the record, the diet industry has a 98 per cent failure rate) and time and energy (that could have been spent on something that could ensure lasting self-esteem instead of dieting, which could lead to lowered self-esteem and poor health).  A preoccupation with food can also lead to loss of friends, goals and life.

For more information about dieting facts and fiction, visit our website.

— Leviana Coccia

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Advertisements could prevent us from living “Life in Balance”

EDOYR honours “Life in Balance.” We believe it. We live it. We love it. But, we also live in a world where the term “balance” is often ignored.
The other morning I was watching Food Network Canada’s Chef at Home starring Michael Smith, one of Canada’s best-known chefs, before leaving for the office. The volume was on low, but I could still see what Smith was making. Right after Smith put what appeared to be a loaf of honey oat bread into the oven, this commercial came on.
This Atkins Diet commercial introduces Cheryl Lynn Wolf, the 2012 Success Story Superstar Winner, and then describes all the foods dieters can eat to find a perfect balance between carbohydrates. In other words, the commercial tells its audience that if they go the Atkins way, they can be just like Cheryl.
The selling point: You can get your free Atkins Quick-Start Kit by following the directions provided in the advertisement. What that really means: If you apply for a free start kit, you could be just like Cheryl.
As soon as I watched this commercial, an extremely loud “this answer is not correct” noise seemed to go off in my head. You know the one:
Companies, not just Atkins, sell us what they say are quick fixes for our problems and insecurities.
In this example, we are promised that if we are unhappy with our weight, all we have to do is go on the Atkins Diet to find happiness, like Cheryl did. The problem with that, though, is eternal, lifelong happiness cannot be achieved through the purchase of products, whether these products are weight-loss plans, a new book, teeth-whitening toothpaste or a new pair of shoes.
Not to mention, we honestly have no idea if Cheryl is truly happy. How is her spiritual well being? How is she mentally? Does she love herself for who she is (regardless of the fact that she lost weight)? We don’t know the answer to those, but we’re tricked into thinking that Cheryl must be happy in all those areas because before and after photos show her smiling from ear to ear after using the product being sold to us in the very commercial we are watching.
After Atkins spokesperson Courtney Thorne-Smith stopped selling a diet (like the other several that exist but do not work…I mean, the diet industry has a 98 per cent failure rate!), this commercial came on.

Anna Olson, chef and host of Sugar and Fresh on Food Network Canada, shows us that cooking can be as easy as 1-2-3, especially with the new Philly Cooking Creme, which can be used for dressings and sauces of all sorts.
My first sarcastic thought after watching this advertisement: The Atkins Diet would not approve.
Do you see how we are thrown from one extreme to the next? We could be watching television for our own personal pleasure and then be told that to experience even more pleasure, we would need to buy into a diet program to help us lose weight. Then moments later, we could be told to indulge because it’s easy, fun and, well, taboo.
Where’s the balance in that?

— Leviana Coccia

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Canada’s first mental health strategy launched

Canada’s first mental health strategy was launched Tuesday to improve access for all Canadians to mental health supports and services.

Read this article from the Aurora Banner for more.