Posts Tagged ‘Edmonton Sun

Sun news editor runs Milan Marathon

- April 6th, 2014

Edmonton Sun news editor and avid runner Gary Poignant is vacationing in Italy. Today, he completed the Milan Marathon. I asked him to share a few words and photos for readers of this blog. Here’s what he sent me via email.

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Poignant enjoys a post-race refreshment.

I chuckled while making my way through the Milan Marathon when signs kept popping up from apparent marathon fans reading “No Expo.”

I said to myself: Not that Expo?

Yes, the World’s Fair, once touted for Edmonton early last decade, is the next big thing in the Italian fashion and business hub.

Duomo

Duomo di Milano

But April 6 was marathon Sunday and what a spectacular day it was for the 14th running of the 26.1-mile race through this city. Yours  truly joined about 13,000 marathoners and relay runners (four runners per team for the 42.2-km race) that began at a massive convention complex on the north side of the city and went past numerous impressive sights, including the Duomo di Milano (the world’s third-largest church) before finishing at the Castello Sforzesco, a 400-year-old castle in the heart of Milan.

Like any marathon, there were many challenges for this writer, including witnessing two injured/ill runners carted off by ambulance during the final 5 km of my race. Witnessing  that slowed me down along with cobblestone streets and temps approaching 23 C. But, it was still a very rewarding, satisfying day.

NOTE: Most bizarre promise from marathon organizers — Sunday will be a car-free day. There were thousands of cars at most course intersections throughout the run and most of those behind the wheel were honking their horns at the runners.

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Poignant picks up a souvenir T-shirt.

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A glimpse of the 2014 Milan Marathon.

Poll: Who’s going to win the Challenge?

- February 18th, 2014

It’s Week 2 of the 2014 World Health Media Transformation Challenge.

I’ve posted the criteria of this six-week media competition. And I’ve posted photos of the challengers.

That leaves two burning questions: who are you rooting for and who do you think will win?

Please vote below (challengers are listed alphabetically).

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Website: http://www.edmontonsun.com/author/cary-castagna

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Scribd: http://www.scribd.com/CaryCastagna

Run Gary, run!

- October 24th, 2013

He’s a friend, colleague, mentor … and one heck of an inspiration.

Gary Poignant, veteran news editor at the Edmonton Sun, ran his 24th marathon earlier this month in Chicago.

Chicago 2013

Gary Poignant post-race. (Photo by Linda Snydmiller-Poignant)

Gary, alluding to the above photo, said he was “in desperate need of a couple of toothpicks to keep my eyes open after the marathon.”

He was sporting pink shoe laces to highlight the fact that he was raising money for the Canadian Cancer Society.

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The scene near the halfway point of Gary’s run. (Photo by Linda Snydmiller-Poignant)

“I deliberately behaved like a jogging tourist in a sea of 40,000 other runners,” Gary told me, “finishing with a smile on my face in a personal worst time of 4 hours and 18 minutes. Truly a magical morning.”

Now for the back story, which is the truly inspiring part.

Here’s a column that Gary wrote 15 years ago about his painful struggle with arthritis (which is now in remission) …

Thursday, October 1, 1998

OVERPOWERED BY PAIN

NATUROPATH GIVES RELIEF TO SUN STAFFER WHO WAS BEDRIDDEN WITH ARTHRITIS

BY GARY POIGNANT, EDMONTON SUN

This is the story of my great escape from the jaws of excruciating pain. Namely — arthritis. Joint pain so severe that one day last April I couldn’t get out of bed. I couldn’t get dressed. And, obviously, I couldn’t go to work.

My knees were the worst. My feet simply throbbed. My right hand, right elbow and right shoulder also ached.

This form of arthritis — diagnosed as ankylosing spondylitis when it first hit me five years ago — was back and it was all-consuming.

Some days were better than others. But most days were simply brutal.

Attempting to manoeuvre down a flight of stairs had become a ridiculously difficult chore.

For a 41-year-old guy who had always been very active, this was tearing me apart emotionally.

All I could do for exercise was limp to the pool and perform a very slow breaststroke.

What was especially maddening was that the prescription medication that was supposed to make me feel better appeared to be making things worse.

I was receiving a weekly injection of methotrexate, a couple of anti-inflammatories a day along with several Tylenol 3 daily to ease the pain.

And despite assurances from rheumatologists for more than six months that these drugs would eventually start to ease the pain, I was feeling worse.

Time for a change, I thought.

I threw caution to the wind, found a naturopath in the Yellow Pages and booked an appointment.

I initially told Dr. Wayne Steinke I wanted immediate relief and would simply pay for a couple of acupuncture sessions.

He took one look at me, heard the standard life history and said, “You don’t need acupuncture. You need to change your diet.”

Steinke explained my body and joints were full of toxins and to get rid of them I needed to eliminate certain things from my diet.

As it turned out — it included nearly everything. No red meat. No sugar.

No alcohol. No coffee. No tomatoes. No dairy products. No wheat.

When trying to walk makes you cringe, you’re willing to try anything.

Steinke added several supplements to the mix — including flaxseed oil and an assortment of vitamins. I had already been taking vitamin C, garlic pills and fish oil pills.

He told me to stick with the diet, eat only the foods allowed — which included fish, chicken, rice and fresh fruit — and give it a month.

Sounded fine. Besides, I was too uncomfortable to be skeptical.

Within three weeks the pain began to ease.

I had stopped taking the methotrexate, had cut out the Tylenol and was down to just one anti-inflammatory a day.

The prescription drugs — which can harm the liver and kidneys with long-term use — had been making me feel sluggish.

By June I was able to ride a bicycle and was taking an anti-inflammatory every couple of days.

By late July, I was able to comfortably walk nine holes of golf and I was taking an anti-inflammatory every week or so.

I haven’t had an anti-inflammatory since early August and I have complete use of my joints again.

I can now walk up and down stairs without trouble. I can cycle 30 km and feel refreshed afterwards.

So what is going on with my body?

Why am I feeling so much better?

The rheumatologist I had been seeing simply says the arthritis is in remission.

“Keep your fingers crossed, it could come back at any time,” he says.

He could be right, because in 1993 when I was first diagnosed the arthritic symptoms left completely after eight months — but only after a change in diet and an assortment of natural remedies from a different naturopath.

Steinke has a different view, thankfully.

He says what I’ve managed to do over the past several months is reduce the toxicity in my body through a combination of improved diet, vitamin supplements and exercise.

“What you’ve done is improve the overall terrain and environment in your body,” he said, explaining people who suffer from arthritis have difficulty metabolizing food.

“It all comes down to what you do and don’t put in your body.

“This has allowed the cells in your body to work the way they should.

“This in turn improves your autoimmune system.”

Steinke says what has happened is my body has been allowed to fix itself over the past several months.

His theory certainly seems to hold true whenever I try to add certain foods to the mix.

The day after eating either tomatoes, bread or sugar, I feel pain in my joints. Thankfully, it’s not that severe and it’s usually gone within 24 hours.

Oddly, I can safely have the occasional beer or coffee without any noticeable problems.

There is still some mild tenderness in my knees, but the pain is virtually gone. I’m working at building the strength back up in my joints and enjoying my new-found freedom.

So am I out of the woods? Will the arthritis strike again?

The rheumatologist, of course, says it’s simply a matter of time before it returns.

Steinke, however, says if I stick closely to the diet, I’m destined to keep those pains away indefinitely. That’s a recipe I can live with.

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Like I said, Gary’s one heck of an inspiration. Run Gary, run!

Book review: Stover’s flab fixation hard to stomach

- November 22nd, 2012

10135-KB_Stover_Cover_v4 _cover  copy

It’s been awhile since a packaged copy of Stover — a fitness-focused children’s book — wound up in my mail slot at the Edmonton Sun offices.

Upon a cursory glance through the brilliantly illustrated hardcover (circa the summer of 2011), I was excited.

Afterall, I’m not just a fitness columnist and blogger. I’m also a dad who’s ever mindful of the perpetually worsening childhood obesity epidemic.

I couldn’t wait to take the book home and share it with my then toddler daughter.

I wanted her to love this book.

I wanted it to be among her favourites, occupying prime real estate on her vast bookshelf.

A book about a cute little pig’s pursuit of health and fitness, I figured, was certain to help cultivate positive feelings about exercise and healthy eating.

And such a positive imprint on her psyche at such a young age, I thought, would help set her up for a lifetime of being strong, happy and healthy.

And then I read it to her.

It certainly lived up to my high expectations — at first.

Stover believes in eating a healthy breakfast before heading to the gym, where he’ll do everything from cardio, strength training and yoga to the occasional step class, stretching and swimming.

So far, so great.

But it’s what Stover does after showering and going home that threw me for a loop.

Stover stands in front of a full-length mirror and pinches the flab around his waist.

“Hooray! I pinch less. I feel so terrific. I’m such a success!” he says.

What the … ?!

There’s also a large foreboding image of a tape measure below the text.

Um … yeah, no.

Suddenly, this book lost all its charm.

Two lousy facing pages ruined the whole story for me.

You see, the “strong and healthy” message that I want to impart to my daughter doesn’t include fixating on belly fat in front of a mirror.

Sorry, but girls these days — and boys —have enough trouble dealing with body-image issues.

Stover’s preoccupation with trimming his waistline is the WRONG message to send to children. It’s downright unhealthy.

Yes, looking good is a byproduct of health and fitness. But the focus of fitness — especially for children — should always be about feeling good and having fun.

Accentuate the positive. Don’t fret about pinching an inch … or two inches … because that causes anxiety and stress, which raise the body’s cortisol levels. And, as research has shown, cortisol (also known as the “stress hormone”), leads to craving so-called comfort foods, overeating, fatigue and packing on weight.

Pretty self-defeating, eh?

One of the questions in the “fitness” questionnaire at the back of the Stover book also irks me. It reads: “How can you tell if you’re a good size and weight for a healthy person your age? If you aren’t — what can you do about it?”

Really?

Well, if you want to increase a kid’s likelihood of developing an eating disorder later in life, go ahead and urge Junior to gauge whether he’s “a good size and weight.” Whatever that is.

In my not so humble opinion, obsessing over kids’ weight and clothing size is only gonna shrink their self-esteem.

It’s up to parents to encourage their kids to move. And there’s no better way than leading by example. In fact, make it a family-bonding experience. There are lots of physical activities that can be done as a family: walking, hiking, cycling, kayaking, playing soccer, skiing, skating, swimming … OK, you get the picture.

But let me just say that methinks the family that exercises together stays together. Sorry, couldn’t resist.

It’s also up to the parents to lead by example when it comes to good nutrition. Kids, of course, don’t do the household grocery shopping. The parents do.

OK, I’ll get off my soapbox now. My point is that much can be done to encourage children to embrace a healthy lifestyle. But I firmly believe that showing them it’s OK to obsess over their body’s imperfections is not the way to go.

I really wanted to love Stover.

Maybe that’s why I put off reviewing it for so long.

Author Kathy Brodsky wrote an otherwise splendid book.

But I can’t, in good conscience, recommend Stover to other parents because my wife and I agree that this book has no place on our daughter’s bookshelf.

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Website:http://www.edmontonsun.com/author/cary-castagna

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Sun team taking a spin for diabetes research

- September 27th, 2012

Some of the Edmonton Sun’s finest physical specimens — yours truly notwithstanding — will be waging a sweaty media battle at 11 a.m. tomorrow (Friday, Sept. 28) at Churchill Square for a worthy cause.

We’ll be riding stationary bikes in support of the Edmonton Ride for Diabetes Research.

The Sun team, pedalling under the moniker “Squeaky Wheels,” features marquee columnist Lorne Gunter, news editor Gary Poignant, sales rep Joe Caputo, SUNshine Girl Angela Robinson and me.

Each lion-hearted Squeaky Wheel will be riding head-to-head against personalities from CTV, Global and Joe FM with media bragging rights at stake.

The winning team will be the one that travels the farthest in 40 minutes (five riders on each team spin for seven minutes, with a one-minute cooldown).

Come out and cheer us on!

And send us money.

To donate to the event, click HERE.

News Release JDRF Edmonton

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