Amber Daniel

Hi! My name is Amber and here is a little about my investment into living a healthy lifestyle:

I have been fairly active my whole life. As a child, I grew up water skiing and snow skiing every weekend. When I was not with my family and friends doing this, I played high school volleyball and was a competitive cheerleader for the Okanagan Sun. In university, I coached various cheerleading squads at all ability levels in Kelowna. I also became certified to train water skiers and worked in the U.S. during summer holidays coaching young athletes how to ski/wakeboard/barefoot. This truly was my passion.

In 2004, I moved to Calgary to begin my career in education. Not knowing many people and being quite shy, I found it difficult to find people to play sports with and share my passions. Subsequently, I found the gym, and for 2.5 years, I lived there. I also began teaching dance at my school, taking 2 dances class a week to grow my skill set. If that wasn’t enough, after making some friends, I began to snow ski and play team sports again. I was in the best shape of my life at 27 and I felt great about myself. Then, the unthinkable happened – I injured my knee in the terrain park at Sunshine Mountain in Banff. I tore my MCL, sprained my ACL and ripped the meniscus in my kneecap. Suddenly, many aspects of my life were halted. I could no longer ski, dance, play sports or even walk up stairs. I spent 7 months in rehab and physio trying to repair the damage I had caused. I had to wear a range of motion brace – even to bed – and used crutches to get around. Life sucked! After 7 months, I had gained about 15 pounds and was not happy about how I looked. Consequently, my self-esteem also suffered and my relationship with my long-term boyfriend ended. I no longer liked myself and entered a very dark phase of life. I stayed in most nights, lived in sweat pants and ate poorly. Once in this state of mind, I struggled to find a way out. My career even began to suffer.

In the winter of 2010, I decided it was time to reflect on where I was in life and make some changes. I really didn’t know where to begin, so I decided to see a naturopath and start going hot yoga. This changed my life as I found that the more I went, the more I felt better about myself on the inside – my self-confidence began to re-emerge. Then my phone rang with an idea I couldn’t refuse, the suggestion of a holiday in Mexico! With a bathing suit in mind, I looked in the mirror and realized if I wanted to wear a bikini ever again, I needed to do a bit of work. Feeling better about who I was on the inside, I decided it was time to start working on the outside. Here is what I found:
• I still ate quite bad (I loved my wing nights and red wine)
• I was not active enough (unless watching TV counts)
• I did not have any goals (except for getting through to the weekend)

It was then, in February 2011, I began my transformation. Knowing that I would need support, I took the buddy/group approach, asking my friends around me to help. First to change were my eating habits. I began making it a point to eat breakfast every morning – something I never saw as important. The next step was to bring a healthy lunch to work every day. Knowing that I would not be able to do this on my own, a coworker agreed to be my “lunch buddy”, taking turns bringing soup, salad or healthy food to share every day. As a reward, every Friday, we would go for lunch together. Next to tackle was my lack of physical activity. Keeping in mind that I don’t do well with gyms, I found group activities to be the solution. I began to participate more in activities hosted by the Calgary Outdoor Club and asked my friends to include me on their weekend plans. I again began to dance, hike, and play volleyball, dodgeball and ball hockey. I even found myself trying new things, like cross-country skiing and wallyball. Last to tackle was setting a goal – this goal was to feel comfortable in a bikini by losing some weight. By March 30, 2011, I had lost 6 pounds and was ecstatic to show off my new figure in Mexico.

On my vacation, I realized that my life was finally moving in the right direction – I was finally feeling good about my body and myself. It was then that I set a new goal, to be physically active two times a week and to continue eating healthy, rewarding myself once a week with a “treat”. I am happy to say that with the support of my friends, boot camp class, dance and sports, I have not only maintained that goal, but am usually doing something active three times a week. My “lunch buddy” and I still pack lunches for each other every day and encourage each other to stay on track. I love living this new lifestyle! Seeing the progress in my body on a weekly basis has completely changed not only how I see myself, but also the outlook I have on life. I am happier, my career is better than ever and I love waking up every morning! I know I am not where I want to be yet, but having the ability to believe in myself makes me know I WILL get there!