Most Canadians are not active enough in their day. Are you one of them?
Jessica Clark, a young Calgarian in the first years of her professional career, is one of them.
“When I was younger, I was really involved in softball; I actually found my groove in that sport,” said Clark. “I stopped when I was 18 because there wasn’t a team to play on anymore. I felt lost.
“I went to university and put on the typical freshman 15.”
Clark went to her doctor to discuss her health. Blood tests revealed hormonal issues that could be helped if she lost some weight.
“I didn’t know how to do that. I’d never really been on a diet,” she said. “Normally, I would put on a bit of weight in the winter because I wasn’t playing softball, and in the summer I would lose it again.”
She spent time and money trying diets, going to a naturopath, and running for 20-minutes at a time. She lost weight at first but moving to a different province where she didn’t know anyone caused Clark to isolate herself, limit her activity, and use food as a form of comfort. Eventually, she put the weight back on.
“I went back to the doctor and said, ‘listen, I’m struggling with the weight’, and he said he had three options for me, which I thought was awesome. I had choices!”
The first was a prescription for a medication to help with panic attacks. The second was an appointment with a dietitian to go over nutrition. The third was exercise, and a Prescription to Get Active (RxTGA).
RxTGA is an integrated partnership between family doctors, other healthcare providers and recreation organizations to offer an actual prescription for physical activity.
The program is designed for anyone who is considered sedentary (under 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity a week for adults) and does not require medical supervision/clearance to exercise. It has the ambitious aim of improving overall health and quality of life and reducing the risk of chronic disease and premature death.
“The Prescription To Get Active was the best option for me. It was basically a free pass to find what I liked. I did my research on the different facilities.”
Patients can choose the physical activity that suits them best from a list of over 100 local recreation and wellness facilities that have joined with primary care organizations. From walking to yoga, swimming to strength training, the RxTGA program knows that everyone has different interests.
“My first piece of advice is to find an activity you enjoy. It’s going to be easier to introduce yourself to the process if you like what you’re doing,” said Clark.
Ultimately, Clark chose World Health. Their North Hill location was close to both work and school and offered everything she was looking for in terms of equipment, classes and support.
For some people, entering a fitness facility for the first time, or returning after a long time, can feel intimidating. The RxTGA program offers patients a unique component to their prescription where they can redeem it for special offers and some extra care and attention at participating facilities.
She took advantage of World Health’s complimentary Cardio Resistance Training sessions, as well as a Personal Fitness Consultation with a certified Personal Trainer.
Clark enjoyed her session with a Personal Trainer and knew the accountability would be very helpful, but didn’t know if she could afford it.
“I thought about how I found a way to justify all my bad habits, so why couldn’t I justify my good ones?” she said. “I invested in three months to see what my body was capable of.”
With her Personal Trainer, Enoch, Clark learned proper technique and how to push her body to new limits. She also developed a friendship as they bonded over their common love of baseball.
“I get that we are working together because he gets paid to do it, but I also know he’s one of my friends. He’s just a really supportive, caring person.
“It’s really helpful to work with someone you know because when you’re having emotional, mental, and self-image issues you don’t look in the mirror and you can’t remember where you started. Enoch points out that my pants are loose and falling off me. He remarks about seeing how far I’ve come, or calls me Wonder Woman after I’ve squatted more weight than my goal.”
Clark also found her passion for World Health’s Cycle group fitness class.
“I keep thinking about the medication I was offered to reduce my panic attacks, but when I go to Cycle class, that’s more meditative than being in a meditation class. My brain shuts off completely to everything in the outside world and I’m only concentrating on making it through the song, the sprint, the class. That’s all I’m thinking about.”
While she has lost weight in the process, Clark has stepped off the scale and has a new outlook on her personal fitness.
“My goal right now is to be healthy and to accept myself in whatever way. It’s really a matter of lifestyle building, being mindful, and being a good role model.”
Clark thanks RxTGA and World Health for getting her started on a healthy and active lifestyle that she is truly thankful for.
“This has become a lifestyle for me. I have a sense of direction, I’m more motivated at work, and I get up in the morning easier. I put myself first, and everything just seems to be sliding into place because of that.”