Sep 19, 2019
Story shared by BC First Nations Wellness Champion Cindy Robinson (Kitasoo Nation)
“Receiving traditional healing from the Bear Healers set me on a path to take care of myself," says Cindy Robinson, a Wellness Champion from Kitasoo Nation.
Cindy was working as a Health Manager in her home community of Klemdulxk (Klemtu) when she sought help from the healers. The sessions prompted her to “take a good look at myself and see how I was operating."
She realized that she was feeling the impact of a stressful work environment and wanted a change. On top of that, unresolved trauma from childhood was causing her to try to control things that weren't hers to fix. And finally, her weight, which fluctuated between 320 to 360 pounds, was leading her to worry about her health.
“It was really an awakening for me. I needed to make some decisions. It was out of self-preservation, honing-in on my physical, emotional, and spiritual health. That's why I decided I had to leave."
Cindy left Klemtu to begin school in Nanaimo. She had already started her physical activity journey by walking roughly four kilometers each day while in Klemtu. In Nanaimo, she signed up for a program to learn how to use the gym. From there, she used her student discount to hire a trainer for three months.
“Having a trainer basically really pushed me to get over that bump of wanting to quit. When you're alone, it's easier to say, 'I can do this later'. With a trainer, they push you to stay the full course," Cindy explains. With their help, working out has become something important to her. The endorphin rush that comes after also help to keep her coming back.
To reach her goals, Cindy also made changes to what she ate. She learned that her go-to Starbucks run – a venti raspberry latte with extra espresso and a lemon loaf – totaled nearly 700 calories. She made adjustments to how many carbohydrates (carbs) she takes in each day, cutting down on sugary cereals, bread and rice.
These changes contributed to victories on the scale. Today Cindy is down over 100 pounds from where she started. She's noticed 'non-scale victories' as well, including cutting down the time it takes her to walk home up the hill from the bus from 30 minutes to less than 20.
She shares that her efforts to make change on the scale are just one piece of her overall health and wellness journey – one that also includes nurturing her spirit and navigating post-traumatic stress. Eating was a coping strategy she used for numbing. “My drug of choice was food," she explains.
“The roots of it, the complex trauma that people don't want to talk about, is the cause of our health problems today. The chronic disease, the complications from obesity, from alcohol. That's from the really deep, complex traumas. It's the reason why we're ill," says Cindy.
For Cindy, the way forward was not just to start exercising or change her eating habits, but to look at her health and wellness journey in a wholistic way. When she takes care of her physical self, she is also taking care of her mental, emotional and spiritual health – and vice versa. Being active, eating healthy, attending clinical counselling and seeking traditional healing are all ways that she looks after herself.
She is excited to share her story because she wants other First Nations and Indigenous people in BC to know that if she can do it, they can do it too. She believes that you can't force anyone to come to a program, but you can spark inspiration through how you walk your own path. Leading by example is what makes her a Wellness Champion.
Cindy's journey reflects the ongoing impacts of colonial traumas in our communities, and how these affect all aspects of our health and wellness. But more than that, it reflects how each of us own our own health and wellness journeys. The strength, resilience and cultural knowledge of how to be well and live a good life are within us.
Cindy Robinson (right) Before
Cindy Robinson after
Sign up and learn more about the 30x30 Active Challenge.
For tips on managing stress, see the Head to Heart site sponsored by the First Nations Health Directors Association: http://headtoheart.fnhda.ca/
To consider a wholistic view of wellness, see the First Nations Perspective on Wellness:
Next weeks prize:
The deadline will be September 30 at noon.
Use the hashtags: #30x30ActiveChallengeFNHA, #BeActiveFNHA, and #FNHAwellness or tag the FNHA social media accounts.
Or email Active@fnha.ca.