Why this HAES dietitian stepped back on the scale

A lot of dietitians, and health professionals who work from a non-weight focus often recommend not weighing yourself.

Scales measure nothing other than the affect of gravity on your body mass.

You would weigh differently on the moon, in space, on Venus, Mars and Jupiter. Without anything about your body changing. So really, that number you see is a bit arbitrary.

Yet many of us allow the number on the scale to dictate how we feel, not just about our body, but our entire life. It isn’t surprising that in a world filled with fatphobia the numbers on the scale can give us anxiety and stress, or glee and delight. But giving the little metal gravity measuring box that sort of power is not good for our self-esteem, our self-worth or our self-confidence.

When it comes to your health, it is more important to pay attention to the signals your body is telling you:

– a rumbling stomach for hunger.

– the glorious ache after a good run/derby session

– the fatigue that tells you resting is your weekend plan, instead of however many hours of intense exercise you might normally do

– The light headed feeling when you’ve gone a little too long between meals 

That is what is important. Knowing your weight is not really an important matter of health for the majority of people.

So, why, you might be asking, the title? Why did you start weighing yourself again if you don’t believe we need to know our weight for any reason what-so-ever?

Maybe this story needs to start from the beginning.

I have no memory of weighing myself as a child. Weight was not a big topic in our house. Body image was never really discussed either; I can remember having negative thoughts about my body as a child (I always thought I was chubby)…

The first time I remember weighing myself I was about fifteen. It was in the Fall of a year when I’d started running and actually I’d been feeling great; energized, stronger then ever before in my life, and overall great.

Enter the scale, and a number that according to the BMI (another poor measure of health) was way too high*.

Begin dieting and an unhealthy fascination with the scale. Over my high school and early university days I weighed myself weekly, or daily in a way that was mostly just a little too obsessive. And with every change in number would be a change in mood: the number went down and I was happy. That number went up and I was devastated. So it was that I went through years of feeling up and down, up and down. Eventually enough became enough, and  I gave up the scale. Yes I weighed in occasionally; maybe once or twice a year. But over the years it became less and less.

But here’s where it got sticky for me. At first not weighing myself was protective: I was stopping myself from giving my low self-esteem and inner critic food for the fodder. I could be “feeling fat” (ie not good about myself) and step on the scale and have it confirmed – by not feeding this voice in my head I protected myself at a time I needed to grow. But. But. But. Not weighing myself never felt empowering for me. It was great when I maintained a lower weight that was socially acceptable. But when I gained weight and avoided the scale, I’d feel a similar anxiety and I knew I was simply avoiding a number that in my head still held the power to make me feel terrible and bring my good mood crashing down.

So I stepped back on the scale.

A little stipulation here: parallel to this weighing/not weighing journey I also did a lot of inner work on stuff that had nothing to do with weight. I healed a lot of the other issues that had been masked by this weight obsession. After doing all this work, when I eventual decided the denial I was holding towards the scale was actually not allowing me to move forward, I had to flip the script towards the scale. Instead of allowing the number to dictate my mood, I decided my mood (contentment, acceptance if not some form of love/like for my body) would dictate how I felt about that number. A weight above the “healthy BMI range” hmmm, interesting. On with the day. What do I have to do at work today?

The truth is you don’t have to weigh yourself at all. In fact I think stepping away from the scale is an important part of the health journey for many. If you fear not knowing what you weigh that can also be something to reflect on… what does the idea of not monitoring a number on the scale bring up? Anxiety? Why? Do you trust your body enough to not need a weight to give you permission to eat? And sometimes weighing yourself can also be an empowering step towards body acceptance: towards loving yourself at any and every size you might experience. And in the end, well, there really isn’t any one right or wrong way.



Sometimes late is better than never.

I’m here with the final recap of my 365 photo project… which finished, oh you know, a month ago.

Life has been in the way. I wanted to get this recap written and on the blog, but I was not motivated. In the past month I’ve done things like buy a house, move in, begin painting and all sorts of other little things related to home ownership. I’ve worked on finishing up a major component of my graduate program and moving on to the next piece of that (never ending it feels right now) process. So I have many excuses. But perhaps the biggest one has been a lack of wanting to sit, reflect, and write. Those three critical pieces of blog writing have eluded me of late.

But enough on that for now! On to the recap.

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I loved this project.

Not everyday mind you, but when I go through the photos and reflect on the past year of my life… it is amazing to have a photo for everyday of it. Well several photos really, since I always took more than one photo a day. Yes some days trying to take an interesting photo, or remember to take a photo was just a little bit tedious, but in the end I am so glad I have the visuals to go with all my memories, or to even spark memories I’d forgotten. So much happened for me this year, and I had a lot of fun (a few tears, a couple trials…) and to have it marked by a photo project is just icing on the cake. When I started this project, I wrote about how I thought 28 would be a good year, and it really was (self-fulfilling prophecy perhaps?) . I’d done a lot of inner work in the past few yeas, and I feel like in 28 some of it paid off (though to be honest I don`t think the inner work piece of living and growing and changing with time ever goes away).

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In terms of having a year long project, this one was pretty easy. With smartphones we can easily take so many pictures. With apps like Instagram we can make those photos look pretty stellar without purchasing expensive photo editing software. In the past few years I really avoided goals, but this was a nice, easy and different, way for me to start having goals in my life again. In the past my goals would focus so much on health and wellness, (interpreted as healthy eating and exercise) that I’d burnt myself out. That was a familiar way for me to goal set, and a familiar part of life for me to focus on. Returning to my roots (so to speak) has offered me new terrain to consider. Art, writing, non-food and non-fitness related activities are something that used to be so important to me, but took a back burner after high school and the focus on being thin, and “healthy” took over. It has been nice to reconnect to that. But it has also been a reminder that I have been connected to that all along; I began painting during my time on the North Island. I have been writing (journals) since high school. I have never really stopped, but I am focusing on those things again, as an essential part of my being.

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Now that the project is over, I’ve been waffling on what comes next. Earlier in this post I mentioned why I have not written in some time; life is busy. What most amazes me, reflecting back, is how much this project acted as a little anchor in my day, pulling me to reflect on what was happening around me, what had happened, and what I wanted the world see (and I mean this in two ways: out of everything in my day, what was the photo-memory worth highlighting? And as social media was the medium, what did I feel comfortable having just any random person see?). So what’s next? Well I have high hopes to use these photos for something – most likely to make some wall collages in my house. People have also voiced interest in a calendar – not something I can see myself having ready for 2017, but maybe 2018.

I wanted to highlight that while this project was amazing, and I loved it despite the days of crap-what-shall-I-photograph, I did have one negative outcome. This project highlighted, and I would say heightened my mindless use of social media. Now I love social media, I have a blog, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest… but this year I found myself mindlessly on those apps a lot. And I don’t like it; to feel a small emotional twitch while not really doing anything and to immediately go on my phone, despite having been on it just moments ago is not how I want to respond to life. The feeling of mindlessly consuming media is something I do that has been irking me for sometime. So how i want to handle this moving forward is something I really want to look at, and (hopefully) change. Many people talk about unplugging; either getting away from screens for certain times daily, or weekly or taking long extended breaks. This appeals to me. But so does making sure my use of social media has meaning and purpose (like writing this blog – useful for me, perhaps interesting or useful for others).


How do I end this post? Honestly, in the end this is project is just a series of photos, over the course of a year. I can now say for certain that nature is my muse, and I love landscape photography. This is also what I love to paint, so it follows me through all my art forms. I have really enjoyed photography as an art medium, and while this year was more of a “quantity over quality” kind of year, as the year progressed I thought more about making sure my pictures were more focused and better quality then I did earlier on in the project (I took a lot of crooked photos early on…).

So, here it is, a month late, and well into my 29th year, but the final recap of a year in photos (366, this was a leap year after all). You can find the other quarterly recaps here, here, and here. If you follow me on Instagram I hope you enjoyed what you saw. I hope if you are doing a similar project you will let me know. And may this year be just as good as last year.

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Things I’m loving about the changing season

First of all shameless plug:

I was featured on Steph Langdon’s Nutrishus blog series: What RDs Do. I’ve loved reading about what other RDs do, the different career paths possible and am just so excited to get to participate. Check out my interview, and all the others in the series!

Alright on to today’s topic.

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This week is just a little tidbit about what’s awesome about Fall.

1. Tea all day: usually I start my day with a coffee. But during the colder months I often rely on tea to get in all my liquids for the day. I usually go for a decaf variety; everything from earl grey, to chai, to mint or other herbal kinds.

2. Apples: for the longest time apples were my favourite fruit. I would eat one a day. While my fruit choices have increased and varied, I still love when it is fresh apple season. Growing up in the Okanagan I had the privilege of always having fresh, local and delicious apples this time of year.

3. Leaves: there is always something so beautiful, almost magical really, about the red, yellow and orange of the leaves this time of year.

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4. Cooling weather: it was hot for a little this summer, not a lot compared to what I’ve been told is normal, but enough. Now that it’s cool I can finally hang out in my apartment without dying. And I can bake! In the heat turning on the oven is such a nightmare, but it’s nice when it’s cool out.

5. Movement changes: this might be an odd one, but I can be a seasonal exerciser. Don’t get me wrong I’m active year round, but often in the fall and winter, I just have a desire to be inside, doing more weight training, yoga or less aggressive cardio. Whereas in the spring and summer, I’m often itching to get outside.

And that’s about it. It not a long list, but that’s what I’ve been enjoying so far. (Although today was a bit of a sunny warm summer throw back so maybe we’re in for an Indian Summer yet)

Hello September

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And goodbye August! It seems that along with the beginning of September and all it usually brings; school, back to more regular schedules, and the like, Fall has come along as well. Not totally out of the norm, but the sudden switch from bright and sunny and hot, hot heat filled days to rain, chills and dark grey has seemed quick. Quick and perhaps far too early. Yet this year unlike previous recent years I am looking forward to the rain, the leaves, the cool weather. Maybe it was actually getting my fill of summer, of being overly warm often enough to feel satisfied. Maybe it’s because now my apartment will be bearable or I’ll be able to sleep under multiple layers of blankets (my favourite!). Maybe I’m looking forward to turning on my oven without fears of overbearing heat filling my apartment. I’m not sure, but I do know I’m not saddened by the onset of Fall like I sometimes am.

September also brings with it the feeling of a new year. As someone who spent many many years in school, September was always the beginning of a bright new year. New classes, new books, new friends, new roommates, new chances and new possibilities. I always find myself drawn to goals at this time of year unlike any other. This year I’m finishing up my 365 photo a day project (in just about 50 days or so), and getting ready to find myself a new year long project. Will it be writing for 30 minutes a day? Will it be to complete a craft/art/diy project a week? I don’t know. And I’d like to have a decision soon, so that I can maybe do a little organizing before I begin, so who knows where it will take me?

The anticipation of starting goals is one of my favourite things. In the past years I’ve avoided goals after I achieved some very sought after goals and, well, found them to leave me feeling slightly underwhelmed and disappointed. In the last few years though I’ve done some digging, and really unearthed what I want my life to look like; and this means I stay away from goals that won’t bring that into being. I have issues with even the concept of SMART goals, which I don’t think it helps people really dig into the why of their goal, which is ultimately more important than making sure it’s “time sensitive” or “measurable”. In the past my small amount of perfectionism, combined with surface level SMART goals, and no real sense what exactly I wanted from my life, left me with achieved goals that left a sense of hollowness.

Yet this year, just as I’m looking forward to September, I’m looking forward to goals, to seeing what I can achieve.

So maybe for today I shall leave it at that. Maybe some of my goals will reflect a need to write on here more, to get digging into health, nutrition and more. We shall see.

273.75 (and a little bit more)

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Well here it is, the final quarter of my 365 photo project. I’ve recapped the first two quarters, and now I’ll recap and reflect on the third as I move ever closer to the end (and my 29th birthday).

I am not going to lie: taking a photo a day is getting a bit old now. While it mostly feels like a habit (what will I do when I no longer need to consider what to photograph in my day?!), it is also a tedious habit.

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Don’t get me wrong, I love that I am noticing and paying attention to what is going on in my day. I love finding bits of beauty in the every day, but there is still the occasional evening where it’s 10pm and I’m like crap what am I going to post!? This is often solved by going back to older photos from previous days. So does this make it not count? I made the decision early on that I could use photos from other days, and while I try to not do it very often I’m glad that was a “loophole” I agreed to. Mostly because some days I can’t find the beauty, but I can look back at photos I took even the day before and suddenly like a photo I passed by while going “meh”. This is the amazing thing about reflecting: sometimes we can find beauty where we didn’t see any the day before.

So many of my photos reflect nature, either beautiful views, flowers or just general outdoor scenes. I’ve also realized how much adventure there is in my life. I think I shared when I started this project that I always had a feeling that 28 would be awesome and that I always looked forward to entering the later stages of my twenties, and this year has not disappointed. I can’t say it has necessarily been more adventuresome than other years in my life, but I’ve certainly enjoyed all the adventures a lot, and finding and reflecting on the beautiful parts has left me with more of the happy-moment memories than the sad/bad/that-didn’t-workout-as-planned-moment memories.

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I’ll be honest I worried a lot that friends would be annoyed by the traffic jam of my photos filling up their Facebook feeds, but for the most part people have been really supportive. Friends who don’t comment directly on the photos will often say in person how much they enjoy my photos, which I really appreciate. I don’t know if this is everyone’s default but I often assume that people have mean and judgemental thoughts towards others and their creative projects so I’m always happy when people are  supportive and say nice things. I know writing that out loud sounds terrible, and I honestly don’t know where it comes from because no one has ever actually fulfilled that dark prophecy of human behaviour.

Looking forward (I am now on day 295) I can honestly say I’m very excited for this project to be done. Yet I’m sure it will feel like something is missing once I’m finished. I’ll also be honest and say I feel like I’ve spent far too much time on Instagram and Facebook with this project and I’m sure whatever goal or project I think of following this one will not involve social media in any way, in fact maybe the goal will be to truly start consuming less and spend more time on what really matters (or other things I actually enjoy that don’t involve a screen). At the same time doing this through social media provided a means and frame (ie I must choose one and filter it through Instagram) and has kept me accountable. I’m excited to see what unfolds over the last 70 or so days of my project and my time as a 28-year-old.

West Coast Trail recap

So two weeks ago this epic hike finally happened.

When we booked the trail in January, six months seemed like a long time. Of course time flies when you’re having fun and the six months snuck by in no time at all, or so it felt.

Day 1: Gordon River to Thrasher Cove
Distance: 6km


My parents are amazing and had already offered to come out to the island to drive us to the trail (of course when they made this promise they’d been hoping to hike some of the trail  themselves as well, but the dog got in the way of that).

We headed out to make the 10am orientation at Gordon River. The check in and orientation are required for all hikers doing the west coast trail. You register months in advance because only a limited number of people can start on the trail from the three trail heads each day.

This day was some tough hiking! We’d heard that the first five kilometers were “all ladders”. But we found there weren’t as many ladders as we expected. This day was TOUGH however with lots of up and down and some tough trail. It reminded me a lot of the Juan de Fuca. We reached our camp in just under four hours and spent the rest of the afternoon and evening enjoying the beautiful view of Port Renfrew, and the river otter playing in the surf.

Day 2: Thrasher Cove to Cullite Creek
Distance: 14km


Fortunately the tides worked out for us to do a lot of the beaches throughout the hike. The “beach” after Thrasher cove was all boulders, followed by sandstone once we passed Owen Point. It was a gorgeous day; sunny and bright. I loved the boulder hopping and climbing, don’t ask me why I just love it anytime. The sandstone was a nice fast walk, while watching out for the surge channel created by the water – some you walked around and some you could easily hop!

Once we were back on the trail it got tough again; lots of mud, lots of trying to find our way through puddles, up and down and ladders! Originally we’d planned to go all the way to Walbran this day, but when we reached the turn off for Cullite we decided the smart choice would be to stop early (this had always been our plan B, depending on time, our energy levels and all that). Cullite was a smaller campsite in a tiny little cove with a rocky beach surrounded on all sides by what looked to be sandstone cliffs. From the way the waves pounded you could just imagine the ocean carving out this little sliver. We had a quick dip in the creek while the sun could still reach us, then dinner then sleep.

Day 3: Cullite Creek to Cribbs Creek
Distance: 17km


The next day we set out to get to Cribbs Creek. According to most people we’d talked to and the orientation, after Walbran it would be “easy hiking”. The trail would get a lot flatter and there would be much more time walking on the beach. Our third day we woke up to a layer of fog, that just never lifted. We made good time to Walbran, and could see why this was one of the more popular camps to stay at; there was a nice large pool that would have been so inviting if there had been any sun out that day, sadly the fog meant we didn’t really feel like a dip or a break.

From Walbran to Cribbs is almost all walking on the beach. You might think beach walking would be easy, but with a 40lbs pack walking on sand it feels like the soft beach is just eating up any momentum you might have. So while we’d been expecting some ease after Walbran it still felt rather difficult. On this day we also hit the famous “Monique’s” where you can purchase burgers, beers and other treats you might be missing. It was yummy to have something other than our prepared food (though, in my humble opinion we ate pretty well for hiking!). My veggie burger was something like an omelette on a bun but I still enjoyed it.

The highlight might have been the pod of Orcas we saw on our way down the beach. They were heading our way so we were able to keep an eye on them for a while too. Sadly I didn’t have my camera out to capture a good shot – and it’s always so hard to get a good picture of orcas anyway.

Cribbs Creek is near a sea lion pull out rock, so we also got to watch them do their hunting in the waves that evening while we hung out with new friends around the fire.

Day 4: Cribbs Creek to Tsusiat Falls
Distance: 16km


Yet more fog! This day was not terrible. We still had some beach walking, but we also had some good trail walking as well, with lots of board walks leading us to the lake crossing at Nitinat. There we were able to buy some more delicious grub, this time fresh caught halibut and a baked potato. There is nothing like food when you’ve been hiking all day. The sun also decided to break through the continuous fog for our lunch break, sadly it returned to hiding for the rest of the day. After a short boat ride to the rest of the trail we had a little bit of up and down, that while difficult was nothing compared to the south end of the trail… Plus it was followed by a couple kilometers of beach walking which just sucked the remaining energy right out of us.

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Tsusiat falls was beautiful and I cannot imagine how beautiful it would have been in the sun! Still the cool cloudy weather didn’t stop us from a quick dip in the water, which was so so refreshing after all the day of hiking. And of course we had a beach fire to return to after that, so really it wasn’t a struggle at all.

Day 5: Tsusiat Falls to Michigan Creek
Distance: 13km


Our second to last started with – you guessed it- fog. At this point the piece that annoyed us about the fog the most was how damp everything was when we woke up. This day wasn’t physically demanding, but I did find it difficult, despite the nice trail it never felt like we got very far very fast and despite it being one of our shorter days it did not speed by.

Fortunately we did make camp fairly early, at the last campground before the exit Michigan Creek. As we set up camp, made a fire and lounged around the sun actually broke through the clouds! It was so nice after all the days of clouds to see blue skies. Dinner this night was Pad Thai, a recipe I wasn’t sure would turn out, but it did! I will hopefully get around to posting a little bit more about the food we ate and maybe some of the recipes I used/created – this was something I did not find a lot of information on and I know it can be very helpful!

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Day 6: Michigan Creek to Pachena Bay
Distance: 12km


The last day zoomed by. This part of the trail is often used by people day hiking out to the Pachena Point lighthouse so it was wide, and well maintained. I’m sure we had an extra surge of energy since it was the last day and we knew warm food, clean clothes and eventually a real hot shower awaited us. We were actually a good two hours faster than I’d estimated it would take us, and serendipitously my parents arrived just mere minutes after we arrived. Yay! And we discovered that the Pachena Bay campground had showers – double yay. So once we were clean, and all wearing our clean clothes we headed for some food in Bamfield.

Overall I loved this experience and cannot wait to do it again! It was beautiful, challenging and tough, but absolutely worth every scraped knee, bruise and bee sting (seriously, I got two wasp bites on the last day!). We had good weather for the trail (the other nickname for it is Wet Coast Trail) so despite the fog we really were happy with the experience. Realizing how easy it is to do something like this makes me definitely want to do it again, and others. But if you love multiday hiking it is definitely one you gotta do.

June update and links


June is off to a busy start here.

The upcoming weekend is the first weekend I’ve had zero commitments or plans since April. With all the business, and some life changing occurrences in the past month and a half an easy weekend of no set plans sounds like just what the doctor ordered. Especially because in a little over a week I’ll be starting a 6 day hike of the West Coast Trail so along with usual life pieces I have been slowly preparing for that (again in charge of food stuff). So I’m looking forward to an unscheduled weekend of preparing, relaxing and taking my time. It feels like it’s been a while since that has been my life.

In the mean time, I thought I’d share some links, podcasts and webpages I’ve been browsing the last few weeks.

I shared a little bit about being a budget and with that have been loving this new-to-me website: www.caitflanders.com. A local BC girl (yay!) she talks about her journey out of debt and mindful living. It’s inspiring for me to read about others journeys from being in debt to having much more financial freedom.

I also found through her website some amazing minimalist blogs. I used to find the idea of minimalism intimidating, and didn’t really get the point. Over the last few years though I’ve been drawn to de-cluttering and getting rid of the excess.  I like how many of the minimalism blogs aren’t necessarily about strict rules of how much you can own, but rather a mindset about being intentional about what you own – and how you live. This rings true to me. So with that in mind I really enjoyed browsing this minimalist site: http://www.simplyfiercely.com/

Along the lines of intentional buying, one reason I’m trying to buy from second hand stores as much as possible is the disillusionment I’ve had with big retail. I like to think I try to make ethical and critically thoughtful decisions about where I buy and why – but it is very hard to find out about the ethical practices of your favourite stores. So I really liked this link my mom sent me: http://getledbetter.com. It’s great if one of your concerns is the gender division of the leadership of companies. We all know that many corporations, from where we get our clothes to who runs our television media, are often majorly run by men, but this site can help you decide to support organizations that have more equal gender distributions on their boards or in their executive line… so you can now feel a whole lot better about shopping at H&M.

Lastly I’m loving all sorts of podcasts lately. As I’ve made a journey away from dieting I found more and more websites dedicated to anti-diet culture, as well as fat acceptance and even fat activism. I’m loving all things Virgie Tovar right now. You can find her on multiple podcasts. And in multiple writing spheres. I love her voice, her style and her message.

I also really enjoyed this podcast featuring two fellow health at every size RDs Glenys O and Aaron Flores (their sites here and here) and Vivienne McMaster who runs a body loving/acceptance program called Be Your Own Beloved (another BC girl, squee!). Some great tid-bits and stories from all three.

So my lovely blogosphere peeps I’m away for the next few weeks, but I hope you keep enjoying the world wide web as much as I do every day. Happy reading, facebooking and general life!

WCT training: Juan de Fuca Recap


This hike was amazing, and I can’t believe how much I enjoyed it.

To recap what I discussed last week our itinerary was to do two short days then one long day. We had decided to leave off 10km of the trail to fit it into 3 days and it was really a good fit.

What Actually Happened


Day 1 we changed up our plan a bit. As we came up to our original first campsite plan (Bear Beach, which was 9km from the China Beach start point), we decided to forge ahead. This added 11km to our first day, but also split up the “most difficult” and “difficult” parts of the trail. So not only were we now doing our longest day first, but also covering the toughest terrain as well. Those last 11km were a constant up and down, with little flat ground to really rest and set a good pace. The last 3km were gruelling and a major mental game – at least for me.

Arriving late (about 7:30pm) to Chin beach meant we had just enough energy to set up camp, cook and climb into our sleeping bags. The campsites were so full (rumour was there were 100 people on the beach that night) that we had to set up on the pebbly-stony beach. I think we arrived just in time to get a hot meal in us and keep the hangry moments from making any major fallouts occur.

Day 2 was then shorter – a mere 8km to the beautiful Sombrio Beach. We arrived at around 1:30pm so had a relaxing time setting up camp, building a fire and napping in the sun which appeared later that day. I even took a dip in the freezing cold ocean which felt amazing and allowed me to brush my hair. It was really nice to have those hours to rest and relax after a total of 28km hiked with 30+ lbs packs over two days. I can say that on day 3 I noticed a difference in my legs compared to day 2 – rest really does help.

Day 3 the final day. We had 9km to go to our parked car at Parkinson’s Creek. This portion of the hike was fairly moderate but included lots of stairs and mud. In a way we were quite focused this day – with the end in sight it was hard to really sit and take our time.



The meals I planned and snacks we ate instead of sit down lunches faired really well. We ate through most of our snacks so we know we had a good amount to last us the three days. I don’t think any of us went hungry after breakfasts or dinner and everyone enjoyed the meals and felt satisfied. I know I’ll repeat both the meals, and prepare three more for the West Coast Trail. The great thing about the WCT is that there are a couple canteens set up at two of the areas – so we will be able to enjoy a couple lunches along the way.



This hike was spectacular. The views were stunning, the trail rugged but not too rough, and even with the tough bits I enjoyed almost every minute. We had great weather – it rained a little during early mornings, but never down poured and even when the sun came out things remained fairly cool which is great for hiking.

The hardest part was our decision to change up our game plan. While I was happy to get the longest day, and toughest terrain, out of the way that first day, it is never easy to make a choice to change a plan. I personally take a lot of mental satisfaction from getting hard stuff over with first, and having easier stuff to look forward to – but I also do get attached to plans and don’t love changes!

I would without a doubt do this hike again – and would love to do the entire thing adding in a fourth day unless I really wanted to push myself. It’s also great because I now know the hike better, and doing it again would be less stress and just more enjoyable.

After doing this hike I am more than excited for the West Coast Trail, and I honestly cannot believe I’ve been intimidated by the idea of overnight backpacking enough to stay away from it since my teen years. I really enjoyed myself and hope I can do a few more trips over the next few years!

WCT Training: Juan de Fuca trail prep

Hello all!

Happy May, happy May Long Weekend to those of you who get a long weekend. I kinda can’t believe it’s here to be honest. This spring season is just flying by.

This weekend my West Coast Trail buddies and I are doing our overnight “practice” hike for the WCT: the Juan De Fuca Marine Trail.

What is the Juan De Fuca?


The Juan De Fuca is another trail located on the west coast of Vancouver Island. It goes south from Port Renfrew towards Sooke and Victoria and the total trail spans about 47km.

My friends and I are planning to do 37km, from China Beach to Parkinson Beach (on the map).

I visited Sombrio beach, which has a road access campground, a few weeks ago when a good friend of mine visited from Vancouver. It was gorgeous. I can only hope (and really I have been told) that the rest of the trail is as beautiful.

The Itinerary

Day 1: leave early for a 9-10am hike start from China Beach. Target campsite: Bear beach which is a mileage of 9km. This day is “moderate” according to the trail map.

Day 2: this will be the most difficult terrain day according to the trail map. We are aiming for 11km to get to Chin Beach.

Day 3: In actuality this might be the hardest day; we will be covering not only the hardest part of the trail, but it will be our longest day at 17km. We’re hoping that our packs will be lightened by this day from eating all the foods (we have, for instance, 8lbs of snacks/lunch foods alone…)

What’s in the packs

Each of our packs weigh about 28-31lbs, which is pretty good. Most trail hikes I have seen recommend women exceed no more than 1/3 of their body weight in pack weight, and I believe we are all below that.


Marina is curious about this food

We have decided to go with the two meals a day (breakfast and dinner) and rely on a variety of snacks for our lunch/day time eating.

So we needed 2 breakfasts and 2 dinners for this hike.

What this looks like:

For breakfast:


Oatmeal with dehydrated whole milk, raisins and/or trail mix.

“Scrambled” Eggs with “cheese” and salsa. This recipe was inspired by the Backpacking Chef. Sadly I do not own his book so I took a guess at how to dehydrate eggs using polenta a rehydration medium. If it turns out I may share the recipe!



Various trail mixes, dried fruits, snacky things, nuts, seeds, candy, etc. etc. to the point of 8lbs.

For dinners:


Mushroom Stroganoff with egg noodles

Lentil Dahl  (mix of two recipes, here and here) and brown basmati rice.

For beverages:

Tea, instant coffee and powdered whole milk, and likely Gatorade (still to be purchased).

Also in my pack:


Sleeping bag

Iodine water tabs, mole skin, swiss army knife, sunscreen, bug spray, bear banger, mini first aid kit, lighter, fire starters, 3 liters of water

Clothes: long johns (top and bottom), leggings, socks x 5 pairs, underwear x 4 pairs, rain jacket, extra warm jacket layer, extra t-shirt, and flip flops for camp. (I’ll be wearing: socks, underwear, sports bra, t-shirt and sweatshirt, shorts + )

Hat and sunglasses

Extra pegs for tarps

DSLR Cannon D50, journal + pen, iPod, phone (can last three days on super power saving mode)

The only thing that will change between this hike and the WCT will be the amount of food we are carrying (and maybe the total number of underwear and socks we have packed).

So that’s it folks! I’d love to hear how you have prepared in the past for overnight hikes, what has worked, and what hasn’t and I promise to be back next week with a “Hike Report” (just like all those race reports out there!).

Till then, take care.


Tonight I sat down and read the post I wrote three months ago, where I discussed what it was like to be one quarter of the way through my 365 Day Photo Challenge. At that point the challenge was going well, I was still exploring, still taking lots and lots of photos and really enjoying the effort it took daily to find pictures and post them.

So how is it going now that I am half way through this project?

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I’ve surprised myself by keeping to the project very well. This is an accomplishment for me because in the past few years I’ve had a bad case of the start-with-no-finishing habit when it comes to projects and goals. I think I’ve had maybe one day where I forgot to post – and even that was a case of having it all set to go then getting distracted and forgetting to hit “upload”. Overall though I haven’t felt as focused on this. I do not set out to find pictures daily in quite the same way I did before. My daily lunch time walks have waned in recent weeks (being instead replaced by a slight thrift store shopping addiction I’m trying to clamp down on) so i haven’t collected photos in that way. But my weekend adventuring has increased, particularly as training for the West Coast Trail has increased. This has resulted in nearly every weekend providing me with fresh scenes, new trails, trees, skies and seas to photograph. I cannot believe how much I love this place i call home.

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I think many photographers and artists like to use similar subjects or mediums, and mine would be nature (ok and Marina but can you blame me? She is just the cutest thing!). After 182.5 (ok 183, and actually at this point I’m nearing 200) photos however I am feeling a little on the repetitive side. While this is normal, and I think even reflects how repetitive every day life can be, doing the project through social media does make me want to change it up more, find more challenging subjects to photograph or even focus my daily photos on something specific.

I’ve also noticed myself using excuses such as “flash back Friday” or “throw back Thursday” more often to showcase photos from my weekend adventures. Not necessarily a bad thing, but I do sometimes feel like a cop-out when I resort to this rather than challenging myself to take a photo representing a highlight (or simply a normal boring piece) of my day. Yet, when I consider the greater circumstances going on in my life right now, I have to say things are wildly more busy in the past couple months than they ever were in the first quarter bit of my project. Now this is good, because for the last few years I felt seriously under stimulated, but it also means my focus has been off on a lot of things (hello delayed literature review for my graduate program!). So the lack in daily photo focus could simply be a window of time into what is going on now in my life.

Reflecting on this half way point, I think I can say that I’d like to recommit myself to the second half of this journey. To remember daily photos, to be mindful of what is happening in my day and post accordingly. And not be shy about it… so what if someone thinks selfies are silly or that my life might not be one high crazy adventure after another? Or that it’s too adventurous or whatever criticism someone might have. Everything is a risk in the realm of the creative – especially when we do it on the web so openly. Especially when those creative endeavours are us putting our ideas, our lives, our lived experiences and our truth out there. And I for one always feel better when I accept the challenge of being more vulnerable and honest about who I am than when I hide and go with the safe choice.

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PS I post original photos on the post that then became project photos. Mostly because while I’m a week bit tech savvy I cannot figure out instagram > my blog transfer… oh well, one day!