HUNT’S POINT – Being healthy is about being deeply happy, satisfied in all aspects of life - including what you do with your days, how you interact with people, and how you deal with stress, says Elise Johnston-Agar.
Johnston-Agar is the operator of Alive with Elise, a coaching service in Hunt's Point. With the changing of the New Year, people tend to make resolutions to become healthier, get in shape or to lose weight. Johnston-Agar says goals like this don’t only have to happen at New Year’s or coincide with a specific time or event.
“I used to always put a later date on starting actions towards goals,” she says. “Why not today?”
That’s the mentality Johnston-Agar is trying to instill in her clients. She likes to shift the focus to honest self reflection about the sources of stress in our lives, which will make positive results visible more quickly. Long-term goals help as motivation, she adds.
Johnston-Agar says her role as a coach is more like a counsellor or a cheerleader - there is no point in her waving a finger and saying drink more water or eat more greens and less junk. Rather, her aim is to help people find the easiest way to meet their goals and then set a path of accountability for themselves.
“You can eat as healthy as can be, but if you come home or go to work in a super stressful situation, the cortisol will shoot up, you won't be sleeping well, your hormones will be out of whack and likely some internal inflammation will lead to disease, as with millions of Americans,” she says.
Johnston-Agar knows about this first hand after making some major life decisions of her own. She grew up in Montreal and completed an architecture degree at Carleton, Ottawa, then moved to Dominica with her husband. Over the years, she started noticing the poor health and the poor food options in North America compared to “the nature Island,” where she was living. After her second child experienced various health issues, she started noticing the effects that stress, poor sleep, lethargy and digestive issues were having on her. This prompted her to listen to her own body and question her lifestyle choices.
From there, Johnston-Agar took a course through the Institute of Integrative Nutrition, which promotes health coach training that emphasizes it’s not just about what is consumed. Rather, it also investigates whether people have energies that are stimulated versus sapped in areas like career, relationships, spirituality and movement.
Johnston-Agar recently moved to Hunt’s Point after tropical storms destroyed the island and their livelihood as they knew it. She restarted her practice on the South Shore and is hoping to help others find their way to good health.
On Jan. 24, Johnston-Agar will be hosting a health workshop at the Queens Place Emera Centre to help participants learn to become healthier using these principles.
The workshop will have an individual approach, where each person will reflect on their story, their needs, desires, challenges, cravings triggers, habits, and motivation. Participants will have hands-on activities and worksheets to fill in about themselves.
“By the end of it,” says Johnston-Agar, “everyone will have a few things to take home in terms of stepping forward towards improved health.”
It’s important to talk about holistic health, she says, which includes mental, emotional and spiritual health. Someone may look fit and be capable of running for miles and miles, but they may be the type to attack everything, never relaxing long enough to deeply enjoy what they have or share with loved ones, she says. Someone else may have extra pounds but feels genuinely connected and helpful to community and are grateful for all that they have.
Good health includes all of this, and Johnston-Agar tries to live this way, which is why she saw the need, felt a passion about it and decided to try to shift away from the stressful architecture field into the role of health coach, which she says is something much more invigorating.
If you go: The health workshop will be held on Jan. 24 from 6:30-8:30 p.m. at Queens Place Emera Centre. Cost to attend is $10