Healthy Living in the North

Living with a dietitian

Young woman eating a dish in a restaurant.

Dietitians are a great resource to make sure that you are getting everything that you need to make your body function the way it should! Ashley was lucky enough to live with a dietitian for a while and shares her experience!

One of the best things that has ever happened to me and something that I highly recommend to anyone for whom it is possible is to live with a dietitian. I had a roommate who was a dietitian intern for Northern Health last year and it was seriously life-changing. She got my butt into gear by making me think about almost everything that I put into my body by simply asking me to consider what that food is giving me. Is it protein? Vitamins? Calcium? More often than not, my answer was: I have no idea, but it tastes really good. That’s totally fine – healthy eating should be enjoyable and balanced – but she was able to show me new recipes that tasted amazing while giving my body everything that it needed to function properly. As an added bonus, I had more energy and healthy, shiny hair! Sign me up!

For example, did you know that you can make brownies from black beans? Oooey, gooey brownies! Or that you can make ice cream from frozen bananas, peanut butter, cocoa, and cashews? I also learned that you can use ground white beans to make creamy soups instead of adding extra fat (like cream)!

Luckily for you, Northern Health has Foodie Friday blog posts and will be featuring tons of healthy eating information during the Eating 9 to 5 challenge so you may not need to rent out that spare bedroom just yet! Getting tips and recipes like these on a regular basis through blogs and Facebook helps to keep you thinking about nutrition and healthy eating while also keeping your daily meals fresh and exciting. Tune in to the Northern Health Matters blog throughout the month of March as well as every other Friday for Foodie Friday and start eating more delicious, healthy food tonight!

Ashley Ellerbeck

About Ashley Ellerbeck

Ashley has been a recruiter for Northern Health since 2011 and absolutely loves her job and living in northern B.C. Ashley was born and raised in Salmon Arm and then obtained her undergraduate degree at Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops before completing her master's degree at UNBC. When not travelling across Canada recruiting health care professionals, Ashley enjoys being outside, yoga, cooking, real estate, her amazing friends, and travelling the globe. (Ashley no longer works at Northern Health, we wish her all the best.)

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Lunch time activities

Row of women in yoga poses.

Between school and work, it can seem difficult to get to the recommended 150 minutes of physical activity each week. For Ashley, one solution to this time crunch was to use her lunch time for physical activity.

While going to school and working full time last year, one of my biggest fears was a serious increase in sedentary behaviour and a decline in physical activity due to inactivity, tight schedules, and changing priorities. I decided to get my friends on board to make sure that I would still be physically active. Everyone knows how difficult it can seem to make physical activity a priority, especially when we have a lot of on the go that can’t be put off, so I counted on my friends’ support to make the most of the available moments. Remember, all it takes is 150 minutes of physical activity per week in bouts of 10 minutes or more, so the moments were there, I just had to find them.

My solution? Yoga and walks at lunch were a great start. I went to a yoga class with my girlfriends during my lunch hour which would otherwise be sedentary down time. In my case, I was lucky to be able to visit some gyms downtown, all of which offered great classes during the lunch hour that had me back at work within an hour. For me, yoga was a good lunch time activity because it cleared my head and got me moving without being as strenuous as other classes so I wasn’t arriving back at work in a sweaty mess. Drawing on the name of one of the movements, my friends and I nicknamed our fitness lunches “fist to palm.” I like to think of the lunch time activity breaks as transforming my frustrating work day (a fist) into a calming state of mind (a palm). Cheesy? Yes. Awesome? Also yes.

Woman in yoga pose in front of a mirror

For Ashley, yoga and lunch time walks helped her to reach 150 minutes of physical activity each week. How will you get to 150 in 2015?

My second solution to the physical activity time crunch was lunch time walks. When my friends asked me what they could get me for my birthday, I responded by saying: “one day a week, walk with me at lunch time.” I have enough stuff to last me a lifetime so what I really want from my friends is quality time and a healthy lifestyle for all of us. Luckily, I have some great friends who work close by. Going for a brisk 30-40 minute walk downtown or at one of Prince George’s great downtown parks a couple times a week makes a huge difference – remember that as an adult, you only need 150 minutes of moderate- to vigorous-intensity physical activity each week to gain all sorts of health benefits! Besides, what else are you going to do at lunch? Eating takes about 10-15 minutes so that can leave lots of time for healthy, productive, and restorative walking (and gabbing) with good friends. Give it a try!

Ashley Ellerbeck

About Ashley Ellerbeck

Ashley has been a recruiter for Northern Health since 2011 and absolutely loves her job and living in northern B.C. Ashley was born and raised in Salmon Arm and then obtained her undergraduate degree at Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops before completing her master's degree at UNBC. When not travelling across Canada recruiting health care professionals, Ashley enjoys being outside, yoga, cooking, real estate, her amazing friends, and travelling the globe. (Ashley no longer works at Northern Health, we wish her all the best.)

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Northern balance

Young woman with two dogs in a forest

For Ashley, having access to nature just a few steps away in Prince George was crucial to finding a balance last year.

Last year was a busy time to say the least. For some reason, I thought that it would be a great idea to take a master’s program full time while working full time. I wouldn’t recommend it! That said, I know for a fact that if I lived anywhere other than northern B.C., this would have been not only difficult but totally impossible. Looking back on last year, because of the region where I lived, I actually led a seriously awesome lifestyle. One of the biggest pluses has been that when my brain was absolutely jam-packed with school lectures and work reports, I could walk to the end of my street and be in the calming stillness of nature surrounded by trees, birds, and a friendly neighbourhood moose or two.

In my six years in Prince George, I have never been as thankful to live here as I have in the past year. Getting this degree while working full time and maintaining a high level of mental wellness would not have been possible anywhere else. Some of the biggest factors that have made this possible for me include affordability, my minimal commute, and instant access to nature.

Two moose in a yard.

Occasionally, the chance to observe a moose or two would provide a well-needed study break for Ashley.

In the Lower Mainland or southern parts of B.C., there would be no way I could afford to pay for school without loans and with my full-time school and work schedule, it would be impossible to get from A to B on time. On top of this, I’d be crammed into a tiny apartment. The most important thing for me, however, has been the ability to get away from it all: to take my dog on daily walks in the bush and to be able to spend almost every weekend at a cabin, on a hiking trail, or on a ski slope or trail because it is all so close.

One thing I have learned in class is that your body takes an average of 14 minutes to adjust its frequency to its surroundings and that nature has a low, calming frequency. When pulling out my hair about research papers, exams, and statistics, the ability to calm my body’s frequency and clear my head with 14 minutes in nature has been a total lifesaver. When my “southern” friends ignorantly scoff at where I live, I simply ask them how renting, long commutes, and being broke while being trapped in the rat race is going for them. Then I tell them that I’m going to have a beer on my back deck, watch the moose in my backyard, and read a book in awesome tranquility.

Ashley Ellerbeck

About Ashley Ellerbeck

Ashley has been a recruiter for Northern Health since 2011 and absolutely loves her job and living in northern B.C. Ashley was born and raised in Salmon Arm and then obtained her undergraduate degree at Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops before completing her master's degree at UNBC. When not travelling across Canada recruiting health care professionals, Ashley enjoys being outside, yoga, cooking, real estate, her amazing friends, and travelling the globe. (Ashley no longer works at Northern Health, we wish her all the best.)

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Getting to know our region

Person standing on top of mountain with a view of mountain peaks

One of many mountain vistas in northern B.C.

So I’m a Northern Health recruiter now. But what the heck does a recruiter do? That was my first question when I started this new role a few years ago. My first instruction was to “get to know your region, get to know your people” and I was asked to do this in whatever way made sense to me. I had never been to northwest B.C. and had no idea what I was signing up for. What I did know was that I had to figure out why people would move there and, more importantly, why they love it so much and want to stay there.

Person walking along a glacier

From beaches to glaciers, northern B.C. is a spectacular place to live, play, and work.

When I asked my managers what they liked to do, almost everything was related to the outdoors. Coming from southern B.C., I thought: yeah, yeah, go outside to a crowded campground where you are shoulder-to-shoulder with strangers, fighting over space on land and on the water to maybe catch a two-pound rainbow trout before you go home after a long weekend. Boy, was I wrong. The northwest was different. Here, nature and outdoor activities are part of everyday life, not just long weekend ventures. Getting to know my area and my people as a new recruiter soon consisted of me asking my colleagues what they liked to do in their spare time after work and then awkwardly responding with: “Sounds awesome! Can I come?”

Young woman holding a fish in a boat.

Taking a fishing adventure wasn’t necessarily confined to a special occasion – it was part of everyday life!

This simple question – “Can I come?” – culminated in some of the most exciting adventures of my life. I have hiked up spectacular mountains with 360 degree views of jagged mountain ranges and islands. I went on an ocean fishing expedition and caught a 40-pound spring salmon. I crabbed along a deserted sandy beach at sunset. I joined staff as they fished in a nearby river on their lunch hour. I ate lunch at the top of a mountain overlooking one of the largest glaciers in North America. And I walked through incredible old growth coastal rainforest.

Person standing in front of very large tree

Northwest B.C. also has a number of old growth rainforests.

The best part about these experiences is that they were not confined to special occasions or monthly long weekends; they are a part of everyday life. This is why people move to northern B.C. and this is why they love it. By experiencing the day-to-day lifestyle of our staff, I quickly learned the type of person I needed to recruit to this amazing region. In the Lower Mainland and Interior, the question circulating around the water cooler on Monday morning is often “what did you buy this weekend?” In northern B.C., you are more likely to hear “what did you do?”

It is no wonder that many of our staff opt to work part time in northern B.C. One reason, of course, is the affordability: why work more than you have to? But the main reason, I think, is that there are so many outdoor activities right at your doorstep. Whether you like to cross-country ski, downhill ski, kayak, fish, hike, row, or just hear the calming, natural silence that comes with the absence of crowded chaos, you can have this within minutes almost anywhere in northern B.C. If that sounds appealing to you, this is where you need to be.

Young woman sitting on a log on a beach

Beautiful beaches provide places for adventure and reflection in northwest B.C.

Ashley Ellerbeck

About Ashley Ellerbeck

Ashley has been a recruiter for Northern Health since 2011 and absolutely loves her job and living in northern B.C. Ashley was born and raised in Salmon Arm and then obtained her undergraduate degree at Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops before completing her master's degree at UNBC. When not travelling across Canada recruiting health care professionals, Ashley enjoys being outside, yoga, cooking, real estate, her amazing friends, and travelling the globe. (Ashley no longer works at Northern Health, we wish her all the best.)

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