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In the beginning….

Let me tell you a bit about myself. I was born and raised in East Vancouver. My parents are originally from neighbouring towns in Alberta. You can’t tell from my name but my family is Ukrainian. We enjoy celebrating Ukrainian holidays, culture and foods…especially the food!

I attended three schools-elementary, high school and university. I met my husband and love of my life during my first year at university. We married after we graduated. I have a BA in Criminology. In 1980, my work took me to Langley and a few years later we moved to Langley. Our sons were born in Langley. We went on a brief adventure to Kamloops and a two year adventure teaching and living in Brunei, Southeast Asia, in the early 1990s. At the time, the internet barely existed and most people did not have personal computers, no FaceTime or Facebook. For much of this time we were the only Canadians in the town that we lived in. With the exception of my two maternity leaves, this was the first time since I was 16 years old that I didn’t work. I did not drive as Brunei was a former British Protectorate and they drove on the other side of the road. We also only had one car. We relied heavily on snail mail or letters from home. Most of my friends and family did not think that I was going to last two years. I needed something to do to keep myself occupied while the boys were not in school. Fortunately, I did learn to drive. I also got a job teaching grade 3 and 4 at a small international school in the capital. My boys and I attended the same school. We had the opportunity to travel on school holidays. We also welcomed fellow expats, friends and family to our home. We had a chance to try, and actually enjoy, some ver exotic, weird and wonderful foods.

Fast forward to December 2016…I was preparing to retire in early January after nearly 39 years with the provincial government in social justice. Unlike Brunei, I had many more opportunities to explore new challenges and opportunities. While my husband (retired teacher/principal) enjoy travelling we don’t have immediate plans to travel any great distances. My nearly 88 year old mother has Parkinson’s and she is in complex care. We are also looking forward to our youngest son’s wedding this summer. So what was I going to do, to fill up my days and do things for me?

One of the things that I love to do is to read local papers. In late December 2016, I came across an advertisement for a Total Makeover Challenge. The event is sponsored by the Shape Your World Society. I was surprised to learn that the society has been running the program for nine years. I took pen to paper or rather my computer, completed my application, the reasons why I was wanting to apply for the challenge and hope for the best.

One of the things I enjoy doing is being open to new experiences and being open to possibilities especially if they are free or not much money. I received a flyer from one of my community contacts about a restorative yoga class. The classes were sponsored by a Surrey Counselling Agency.

I had just left the yoga class when my husband told me that I had received a phone call from the Total Makeover Challenge. Once I confirmed my commitment to the TMC and the required dates I was confirmed as one of the 30 participants in the Langley group. There is a second group in Abbotsford. We were all invited to a “meet and greet” in Abbotsford the following evening.

And so it began.

Sunday January 15, 2017-Meet and Greet. Phoenix Lounge. We were asked to wear a white t-shirt and black pants or tights. We were going to experience our first weigh-in, meet some of the sponsors, the organizers, volunteers, past winners etc. It was great to meet everyone. It was a bit overwhelming but also exciting. One of the sponsors is 200th Street Dentist. The office is just up the street from my home. While I was chatting with Dr. I mentioned that our family dentist is Dr. Steven Hill of Vancouver. Small world…Doctor is in the same dental group as Dr. Hill! We also met a previous participant who wrote a book based on her Total Makeover Challenge. Some great reading and an overview of what to expect.

During the evening we went to different stations. We had our photos taken, met the organizers, sponsors etc. Set up appointments with some of the coaches. What an adventure we are going to be on.

Week 1 

Monday morning 7:30 am -Before I knew that I was selected for the TMC I wanted to start walking again. A few years ago. I participated in the Vancouver Sun Run. I found that trying to do the training in the winter and week nights was difficult. I have bad knees, joints and night vision is not the best. I heard that the Willowbrook shopping mall has a walking club. I called the number listed and I met with Dixie. The club has had over 100 members. You get to walk before the mall opens. It is a great way to meet people, window shop and get some exercise in a warm, comfortable setting. The club is also sponsored with the Canadian Diabetic Association. The cost is $10.00 for the year. Once a month there is a speaker, coffee and muffin event. The first one for the year was on Wednesday January 18th.

I mentioned to some of the other walkers that I was one of 30 participants on the Total Makeover Challenge. They seemed interested. I promised to tell them more about my journey.

Tuesday-I had my half hour call with the TMC Life Coach Heather. I really enjoyed our call. One of the things that we talked about was…what’s my hurry? I just retired on January 9th after a pretty emotionally intensive career. It was good to chat. We were encouraged to share our 100 days of happiness on one of the websites. We have a secret group and also a public site.

Wednesday January 18th-first meeting at in at the Timms Centre in Langley. It was good to meet the participants from Langley. I was a bit surprised to learn that some of the participants had come from as far away as Coquitlam. A mother and daughter or rather grandmother/great-grandmother team from Surrey. One member broke her foot the day before the first meeting. Some were moms with young children, married, divorced, single, working full time, retired etc. We learned more about the a 3 day trial meal supplement from one of our sponsors Herbalife…cookies and cream. We were supposed start the 3 day trial on Sunday. One of the things that we were asked to do was to keep a food journal and to increase our intake of water. Wow lots of water. Posting photos about what we are eating and how we are feeling.

January 18th- She’s Fit. One of the Langley sponsors is She’s Fit. It has been a long time since I worked out a gym. I have bad knees, joints, I have been involved in a couple of car accidents over the years. I am nervous but looking forward to becoming more active.

Weigh in, measurements etc. I lost 3.7 since Sunday. We learned about the challenge and our journey together.


January 19th Thursday-Regional Youth Probation Officers update at the Langley Golf Course. I was looking forward to meeting up with my colleagues. I was bit concerned about all of the lovely desserts, cookies at coffee etc. I managed to have some soup, salad a small turkey sandwich. Self control.

January 21st-Walking and Restorative Yoga. I told the instructor about the TMC. She was so happy for me. Just before I stopped by to see my mom, my husband called me to say that my friend Pat Kelln had died. She had some health issues but it was still a bit of a shock. I met Pat at a community response to Domestic Violence. It was more than 10 years ago. Pat wanted to do something to remember victims of domestic violence. Pat along with her husband and volunteers organized and created a shoe memorial for the December 6th the National Day of Mourning and Action for the Montreal Massacre. When I am in the country, I have volunteered to help collect shoes and be present at the Vancouver Art Gallery. The names of the women and children who have lost their lives to murder and violence are listed on the website This December 6, 2017 will be the 15thyear of the shoe memorial.

Sunday January 22nd. My husband made a wonderful Sunday brunch-smoked salmon eggs bennie. I invited my long time friend Merlyn Horton of Safe Online Education Society Merlyn helped me with setting up a Instagram Account. We posted a picture of the two of us. Merlyn said to just try posting photos. She said that I can’t break the internet. Somehow I just don’t seem that comfortable in posting. It may be because I spent so much time on the computer in my previous job.


Because I started the 3 day meal replacement challenge. I had a cookies and cream smoothie for breakfast and dinner.

Week 2

January 24th -Hair cut. Told my hairdresser Lori about the TMC. Feel great-photo at home

Stopped by one of the sponsors-Shoppers Drugmart in Walnut Grove and to introduce myself.


January 25th –My sister Betty’s birthday. We had a lunch at my youngest sister’s home. Mom was able to come. It was also great to have my sister’s daughter and grandson come. One of our former neighbours also joined us. My sister Berry and I are the same age for a month and half. We are 10 months apart


I have been meeting up with some of the TMC at the gym. It has been great to meet the participants one on one.

Weigh in -Wow! I was one of the biggest losers. 8 lbs 6 oz. I think that in this case this is a good thing. I know. I know that it is mostly water but I lost but I am feeling great. The two winners or biggest losers were given tickets to She Talks Health. The first winner was not able to attend so I was in! I had attended the first two She Talks in Surrey.

Thursday January 26th -I attended a training event sponsored by the Surrey RCMP Vulnerable Persons Unit which includes the Domestic Violence Unit. It was good to connect with some of the people that I have worked with in the past and meeting new people. I managed to eat a healthy lunch- 1/2 a turkey wrap and veggies. I managed to stay away from the cookies and pastries throughout the day!

Saturday January 28th-She Talks Health

If you have seen a TED Talk-Ideas worth sharing you will get the idea. 16 speakers-8 minutes given to each speaker to share their story. The other winner was Taryn. We agreed to meet up Elements-Casino where the event was being held on Saturday. Tammy Floyd’s boyfriend gave her a ticket as a gift! He’s a keeper. My husband has bought me tickets in the past. I really enjoyed learning more about Taryn and Tammy. Taryn is a pilot on medical leave. Her daughter is a chef. Tammy is from Quebec. She drove by herself to Langley to join her boyfriend. It was an inspiring day!


There is another She Talk Life on March 4th at Surrey City Hall…perhaps I should attend. It could be a great Valentine, pre-birthday present.

February 14, 2017-Valentine’s Day. Had a lovely morning enjoying s espresso with my husband of nearly 38 years ago. We met at SFU in the fall of 1975 as 18 and 19 year olds and married soon after we graduated in 1979. He is the love of my life and the father of our children. My mom had another fall in the early hours. She cut her ear and required stitches. My sister who lives nearby was at the hospital at 3:00 a.m. Mom was able to return to care home after a brief period of time. I was able to visit with mom later that morning. While mom was resting I picked up a copy of the Fraser Health Magazine. Page 12 and 13 is an article on body image and mental health. There were references to a body image movement which was started by an Australian photographer.

What is the Body Image Movement?

We’re on a quest to end the global body-hating epidemic.

Despite being happily married and successfully juggling motherhood while running a thriving photography business, Taryn Brumfitt was privately struggling with crippling body image issues. Close to resorting to plastic surgery to ‘fix’ her post-childbirth body, Taryn decided that what she really needed to change was not in fact her body, but her attitude towards it.

This was the beginning of the Body Image Movement (BIM), a now internationally recognised crusade that was founded on the belief that your body is not an ornament, it’s the vehicle to your dreams. BIM believes that everyone has the right to love and embrace their body, regardless of shape, size, ethnicity or ability.

By travelling the globe, headed by founder Taryn Brumfitt, the Body Image Movement is working to put an end to body loathing and spread the message of body loving.


Created on 2017-02-17 20:07:29