February Health Heroes: Up for the Challenge

Posted by: | January 31, 2011

The need to reconnect with nature and push herself physically and emotionally led Shakeela to seek a local challenge.  She joined five friends to hike the West Coast Trail on the Southwestern edge of Vancouver Island (often rated as one of the world’s top hiking tails), carrying a 40 pound backpack over 100 KM. With terrain varying from beach walking on rock boulders, tree debris, old growth forests, waterfalls, bogs and ladders that connected the beach and trail, the hike challenged her in more ways than she had bargained for. The experience proved to be life changing because she realized the importance of creating harmony. “I recall meditating, watching the storms come in, eagles catching fish from the ocean, grey whales circling the sea lions. You realize that you have a part to play in maintaining this beautiful untouched land,” says Shakeela.

She is no stranger to challenges. She hiked to the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro in 2007 to raise money for children dealing with cancer –  ”Climbing mountains for the children that would not have the opportunity was rewarding because they followed our progress and gave us prayer flags that we flew at the summit,” she says.

The UBC Amazing Race Health Challenge gave Shakeela an opportunity to evaluate her lifestyle and identify areas where she could challenge herself everyday.

”I started to make breakfast and think about eating protein and vegetables in the morning – eggs and asparagus, experimenting with kale and banana smoothies was the limit!  The sustainable commute was the hardest part for me, taking the bus was something that took me out of my comfort zone which was good because I realized that I was getting too comfortable!”

”The team challenges were a great way to get to know my colleagues who were very supportive. I recall us sharing recipes, exchanging tips and trying to find enjoyable ways to get those extra points. Our team was also invited to play table tennis with the Library team which was fantastic because we started the conversation about being more active in the workplace.”

“The best takeaway from the challenge is that you can do anything you want as long as you keep reminding yourself about the benefits and find new ways to challenge yourself.”

Shakeela got her next few challenges planned, a half marathon in May, Machu Picchu in August and the base camp of Everest next April…she definitely loves her challenges!

Shakeela Begum was a member of Team Aggressive, Determined and Eager to Win, the winning Vancouver team of the 2010 Amazing Race Health Challenge. Thanks again to everyone who took part in this fantastic challenge.

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