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Focus and Distraction

February 27, 2015

By Mario De Negri

Fitness Coordinator, Rebels Athletics and Recreation Services

It’s come to that time of year where most of us have not only given up on our New Years resolutions but more importantly just recalled we had some. What’s so fascinating about this is that now that we have brought it back to the forefront of our thoughts, most, and I’m saying close to all of us will still not do anything about it.

So I ask what is it that would stop me from implementing an action towards that resolution I had. I would like to think its distraction. When I am focused and I know what I want I usually do what is necessary to get it.

For example the fact I haven’t eaten anything for breakfast today, and not really a lunch that when I get home I all I can do is focus on a way to eat or better yet the urgency to have to go to the bathroom keeps me pretty focused.stock-photo-the-word-focus-with-blurred-words-in-background-isolated-on-white-as-concept-for-business-ideas-137038271

I think distraction is the cause of non focus. Next time you have to go to the bathroom really bad try to get angry at something in your life that at other times makes you really angry and try to hold off on going to the bathroom. What will happen is that you might start to get the rise of anger but shortly following is the call of nature. So you can persist and keep focusing on getting angry but just around the corner is the sound of the tap being turned on. Eventually you will give in and accept and in that moment your focus won’t be of anger but of relief.

So does this work when not being forced? Try this; Start to pay attention to yourself. Watch to see how you react to things. You see something and it’s making you angry. That anger has taken over your whole body. Stop! Look at the anger. Say to yourself “I choose not to be angry” over and over and over again until one, you’ll say to yourself how stupid this is and that it doesn’t work which will keep enforcing the anger or two, you treat this mantra like the urgency of having to use the loo and you will experience change.

Anger cannot exist if the focus is on not being anger. Just as darkness cannot exist when light is focused on it. If we agree that focus will only exists if there is no distraction then we must continue to keep watching to see if we stay on track to what we want. When distractions arise like I have no time, it’s too late, I don’t know how to do it or whatever the distraction is you accept to yourself we must stop, see it for what it is, and go back to focus.

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The Ways of Gratitude

January 5, 2015

By Mario De Negri, Fitness Coordinator for Athletics and Recreation Services


I’d like to take a few blogs and talk about ways to achieve gratitude. If you were at the “Say YES to Everything” talk we spoke briefly about how this applies to the work of acceptance. Gratitude is a very selfless state. Different actions can be ways to gratitude but we are ultimately looking to be living the state. When we exercise these actions they strengthen us to see things that we might not be seeing given we’ve choose to block them or not be aware of them. These actions when practiced on a regular basis start to become the new “normal” and within this state we see things the way they are and that becomes more frequent.  

Seeing things for the way they are makes it feel difficult to be grateful. How can I be grateful when my girlfriend dumps me, or when my friend doesn’t seem to have to work as hard as me to make more money? All of this can be true only if we resist seeing the real picture. I’m not saying these things don’t make happy feelings but what I’m saying is that with practice of gratitude when these things happen we are better equipped to manage these feelings.

Avoiding comparison is a tough one because we are programmed to want to keep up with the Jones’s. That if we don’t happen to have what others have then we are somehow less worthy of receiving. This is very dangerous as this thought process is the very reason we are not receiving abundance. Being able to not compare ourselves leaves us open to focus on the things we do have. This will lead us to more gratitude. I know I want the car with heated seats but if my suffering is coming from a place because someone else has what I want then I am the one who suffers not them. Instead being grateful I own a car at all, or even that I am lucky to know someone who can have a car with heated seats invites more happiness and lets the world unfold for me without my resisting or trying. So by comparing ourselves to others only limits us from our true greatness. When we can accept ourselves for who and where we are then the gates of gratitude will open.

Appreciation is also another action to achieve gratitude. When we appreciate the space we are in presently then we invite more joy into our lives. If we harbour resentment to our situation it will continue us on a path of suffering. It is easy to reject the cold winter, to spend a whole season living for the spring to come without any appreciation for the now. It takes discipline to find appreciation for where we are at. I appreciate the winter as it gives me more cuddle time with my friends and loved ones. I appreciate that the trees can be at such ease, almost unaffected by the cold. I appreciate I can walk freely in the sun without fear of my personal safety or how quiet and calm the winter can be. There are many opportunities to feel appreciation but we must discipline ourselves to the reality of life.

Another thing we can do for gratitude is care for my body. This again is an easy one to neglect as we take it for granted. We expect it to walk and move and breath and heal for us but we so seldom give anything back. We must look at our body as a relationship much like another person and treat it with the same love we want to receive from others. We cannot be in happy relationships if we never do our part to create a feeling of being grateful. We tend to be the worse towards ourselves over everything else. So taking some time to care for my body, with some gentle loving, stretching, and moving, feeding it well will lead to gratitude. When we care for our bodies it will care for us. This is the universal principal to happiness when it becomes a cycle state of constant giving and receiving. We must first be willing to give and be willing to receive.

Try out some of these and just keep them in mind, or write them down on post notes to thank-youleave on a mirror or stove. Do not judge yourself if you forget or move into a state of ungrateful. Just watch it and when you see it gently make the change. Play with it and leave it everywhere so you are consistently reminded of why you can be grateful.




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More Fun = Better Grades

November 17, 2014

As a student I was always looking for ways to get better marks and if possible with less work. Little did I know that shooting hoops with my friends and playing co-ed intramural volleyball was doing exactly that.

A recent article quoted a study from Purdue showed students “who visited rec facilities 15 times or more earned 3.08 GPAs, compared with 2.81 for those who made no visits.” Further evidence for the benefits of visiting your campus recreation centre are shown in a study that “Recreational sports and fitness center members achieved higher GPAs and completed more credits than nonmembers.” Read More →

Head Honcho 100

October 6, 2014

Wayne-GlowWhen did you last cycle 100 miles in one day? For most of us such a question would only raise an eyebrow. “You’re kidding, right?”

Well, five current and retired RRC employees and three spouses drove 478 km from Winnipeg to Park Rapids Minnesota the weekend of September 26 to do just that. The Headwaters 100 is an annual one-day, 100-mile (161 km) bike ride through Itasca State Park, source of the mighty Mississippi. The route is stunningly beautiful in the fall, and this year’s sunny 27 degree weather certainly added to the enjoyment.

Our Head Honcho, Wayne Ferguson, was the first of us to ride the Headwaters some fifteen years ago. Retired from RRC in 2012, Wayne was the inspiration for this team trek that included current employees Lisa Case, Guy Dugas, Dayna Graham, and Mike Poitras. 2014 marked Lisa’s and Dayna’s 1st Headwaters, Mike’s 3rd, Guy’s 5th, and Wayne’s 8th.

Did we all ride the full 100 miles?

Actually, only Dayna and Mike can boast completing the entire 161 km. And this was the first time in eight outings that our Head Honcho did not go the full distance.

But what made this year particularly significant was the fact that Wayne had undergone hip replacement surgery this past spring. So he hadn’t even started riding again until late July!
Oh, and did I mention that Wayne is 75? Sure, he had pronounced before his operation that he intended to cycle the Headwaters again this year. “Yeah, right.” I thought. But, true to his word, there we were again.

In the end, the spirit was strong but the flesh weak(er). Wayne did complete a “century”, but he quit after only one hundred kilometers, not one hundred miles.

Still, not too shabby I think.

Maybe next year…

Stuck in a rut

June 15, 2014

imgresYou’ve taken the plunge; you are working out on a regular basis.  You’ve been more faithful to your workout schedule than any girlfriend/boyfriend in the past.  You are starting notice some changes and then days become weeks, the scales won’t budge you aren’t seeing any changes in your body and your resolve slowly turns to cookie-dough ice cream. You’re at serious risk of becoming another statistic, one more person fallen prey to the dreaded plateau.  Somebody who decides to pack it in, accept life as a couch potato accepting that the only way you’ll ever see your toes again is in mirror.

The human body is a remarkably adaptable instrument. Once it grows accustomed to the initial stimulus of a change in diet and activity level, it may simply submit to the law of diminishing returns, decide to declare a new state of normalcy and effectively put a stop to muscle gain and fat loss.

A plateau has a snowball effect, both mentally and physically. Mentally, you become frustrated, which leads to emotional eating, fatigue and finding excuses not to workout. This either amplifies the plateau or actually causes you to backslide. Physically, if you allow a plateau to negatively impact your mindset, you produce stress, which has many well-documented ill effects on the body, inhibiting the ability to gain muscle and promoting the storage of fat.imgres-1

Plateaus are essentially a form of maintenance—if you run three days a week for the same amount of time you’ll continue to hold your own in terms of health and fitness, for example, but you won’t move forward.

So what do you do now?

  • Build variety into your workout. Change what you do and how you do it. Alter your routine in duration, frequency and intensity. Add more exercise, or different activities, workout at different times.
  • Sometimes less is more. When you hit a plateau, it’s tempting to workout more. You may be overtraining and stalling as a result. Rest is a critical aspect of any fitness regimen.
  • Alter your diet. A change in nutrition can make a difference. Most people go the wrong way, lowering calories, when sometimes raising calories to maintain weight for a week and then dropping them again is all that’s needed.
  • Don’t decrease the amount you eat — food is fuel for the metabolism. Try manipulating your eating routine — have your main meal at noon instead of the evening. Eat several smaller meals rather than three big ones.
  • Stay focused. Write down goals and read them every day. Have an underlying reason to achieve your goals that’s more than a superficial ‘I want to lose weight.’ Focus on overall health.
  • Don’t weigh yourself every day. A static scale over an extended period of time will just increase your frustration and be disheartening over the long run.
  • Consult with a certified professional.  Now may be the time to schedule a session with a personal trainer to help you get back on track.  Perhaps one of the reasons you are stalling is improper technique.

Be successful. Create a vision of where you want to be and stick to it. Set goals, form a plan to attack those goals and consistently take action day after day.  Don’t get frustrated if you don’t advance X amount on a certain day; because it’s the long term plan (and results) that matter.

5 Tips for the River of Life by Mario De Negri

March 26, 2014

We’ve all been caught in the rush of the world in its quest to be going somewhere. This constant pressure has had us staring at a screen until out eyes are pounding , sitting on our butts until our back hurts…..what’s up with that, and going for hours without eating except for those few cups of coffee….that’s kind of like food right?


When I was younger I had a mentor tell me there was an on/off button on my backside. Anytime I was sitting down the button would be pressed to off and anytime I would stand up it would be released to the on position. This didn’t make a lot of sense hearing it but was something to be understood by applying it. It makes sense now, as I sit I am sedentary, there is little flow. As I stand I am in more motion as little as standing would be compared to sitting. Once some motion has been started it can grow into more and lead to many places. It’s like water, stagnant water has little life, can be dangerous to drink or play in. Whereas water that is flowing has vibrant energy with all sorts of life and purity, and this flowing water can be anything from a small creek to the Iguazu falls in South America.

Your life is that water. However you choose to live will reflect what kind water you manifest. There are times in our lives when we need to be slow moving like a creek to gather thoughts, have gratitude for the things we have now and there are times we need to move fast like giving time to our heart to challenge it and strengthen it cause it beats for us ALL THE TIME.

Here are 5 tips to be like water and disengage that button.

  1. Stand up right now! Read the rest of this standing. Stand up and keep standing. From here after you read this make a decision to take a step forward.  What do you want to do? What can you do? Do something small as that will lead into something else and you can use momentum to keep going.
  2. Set an alarm app on your phone or computer. Have it set for every hour. When the alarm goes off, stand up. Being in the office chair all day is no good for anyone. Make that once an hour commitment to do a back extension, stretch your pecs, or walk a flight of stairs. This does not have to take a long time. It can take less time than waiting in line for your morning coffee and results will come.
  3. Be mindful of what your present actions are. If you are going to stand in line how are you standing? Try standing on one foot to work on balance. Try doing calf raises or just moving your body in general. I know… what if someone sees me right? Get over it. Yes people will see you so be one of the aware ones to use your time to your advantage. I bet you if more than half the people in that line were doing movements you’d do some small ones to just fit in and not be the minority. Start that movement to allow other to follow.
  4. Build a ladder. Every day during your one hour self-check bell do a ladder activity. Start with one push up at 9am, then 2 at 10am and keep going until your done your day. If my math is correct in one day you will do 1+2+3+4+5+6+7+8=36 pushups. That’s a lot of pushups! Next day, do squats, steps ups, ab crunch and change it. Remember to challenge yourself so maybe you need to start with 5 squats for example.
  5. Commit to a club, group, games, and organization once a week. This has to be a you time thing that can include your family, or partner or just yourself but needs to be a regular commitment. I know for one of my groups we have game night every Tuesday where we play board games all winter to keep people moving out of the house and not get too nested. These change in the spring to more outdoor type activities. This has been one of the most positive additions to my life as I get to be with friends when I’m feeling worked over by winter, as well as it gives me something to look forward to each week.

Ultimately as long as you can focus on your back side button and check it often to see if it is on or off you can begin to see what the future has in store for you. The more often you can leave it on, the happier, healthier and fulfilled you will be. Once you develop the pattern, the way the river has its path it will just flow naturally and you can enjoy the ride.

START NOW Button (web internet power on continue click here go)

Mario De Negri

Fitness Coordinator

Life style Design


Live Life Your Way by Mario De Negri

March 3, 2014

Light-Bulb-StairsWhen I went to university I had a difficult time making the transition.  During my first year, I reached the half-way point and I still hadn’t found that feeling of being “in stride” with it. I understood the routine of getting up for classes and making sure I caught my bus at the same time every day.  I also felt the stress of the workload piling up on me and I barely had any free moments to relax and not think – to be young and having fun.

I thought my January resolutions would’ve held out … but who was I kidding. I knew it would be the same pattern as before, and just thinking that way had already set me up for failure. I knew that if I was to succeed with what I wanted out of life I had to really take a good look at myself, really see who I was and face some of the unwanted answers to the question “Who am I?”. I would have to make some tough decisions, and change the way I live by recognizing my personal patterns (both good and bad).

Here are some tips that helped me back then and continue to help make my life one that I design for myself and not something that others have programmed for me.

1)     Just Do It

One thing that stops most of us is our inability to just do something, anything. What should I do? How should I do it?  Just the momentum of movement will lead us to answers we seek as long as we remain detached to the outcomes and remain focused on ourselves. Energy creates energy. Fears will be there and barriers will come but by taking a simple step towards what you want you will bring yourself closer to that bliss we all chase.  This one step will also create emotions within ourselves which, when they are in line with our true path, will lift us up and carry us further down the path of our dreams. However if you deal with any type of anxiety this can seem like a huge deal. It’s easier said than done. Work on being gentle with yourself and working on non-judgment. If you can find yourself at a point where you can forgive yourself for doing nothing you are on the right track to getting into doing something. There is no race in life. You are on your own timeline which can give you that sense of freedom and relieve some of the pressures on ourselves.  Read More →

Wellness Interview with Christine Crowe — Red River College’s Vice-President, Community Development

August 7, 2013

ChristineCrowChristine Crowe joined RRC from Kwantlen Polytechnic University, where she served as Dean, Faculty of Academic and Career Advancement. Christine now leads RRC’s Schools of Indigenous Education, International Education and Continuing Education, while also overseeing the College’s regional campuses, Language Training Centre and community outreach (full bio here).

Mike Krywy (Chair of the Wellness Committee) went for a leisurely walk with Christine to get her thoughts about wellness.

Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts about Wellness. To start with, who are some of the people in your life that you look up to as Wellness role models?

My mom was a dancer, choreographer and a teacher who danced with the Royal Winnipeg Ballet. One of my most powerful memories was watching her sit on the floor listening to music, and picking something for her next routine. She could sit on the floor for hours, but you could tell that she wasn’t in the room — she was creating that piece of choreography. Afterwards, I’d watch the choreography come to life during the practices with her dancers. I was her pianist for a while, and it was fantastic observing her in the creative process and seeing the beauty that came from it.

My mom suffered from depression through much of her life, and she used her creativity to bring herself out of her depression and back to the light. A year after she retired, she passed away. During that time I think she grieved because so much of her life was tied to that creation, and she didn’t know what to do when she was no longer creating. From her life I learned there is power of doing what you love, and how those actions can sustain and feed you.

I know you have a couple of young children. Are they also wellness role models for you?

They are amazing role models for me.

First of all, I’ve learned from them that not knowingis okay.Not knowing” is a place of curiosity and a source of great adventure. It is not something to hide or be afraid of. It speaks to humility. As an administrator, I’m someone who people often come to looking for answers. And that’s a scary place to be sometimes. However, if you’re able to admit that you don’t know something but are willing to explore finding an answer together, you’re able to move forward.

The other thing is “Being present”. I have learned a great deal from putting down my iPad and playing with my kids. The other day my kids were jumping on the trampoline and said, “Mom, come join us.” I hesitated. For one thing, I am terrified about jumping on the trampoline, as I haven’t done it for years. So I told them, “I just need a minute — can’t you do something on your own?” Then I stopped and said to myself, “Wait a minute, they want to do something with me. They want to play with me.” So I went and jumped on the trampoline…and it was terrifying! But it was also very fun.

I’ve had many of the same experiences with my own children, such as when they ask me to go for a swim and I make excuses about the water being too cold. Once I drop the excuses and jump in with them, I never regret it. Is there anything else that your children taught you? Read More →

Interview with Stan Chung (RRC VP Academic and Research)

July 22, 2013

StanChungRed River College’s VP Academic and Research Stan Sae-Hoon Chung joined RRC in 2012 because of its reputation as a global leader in advanced learning. Stan is an award-winning writer, visionary advocate for life-changing learning, and passionate believer in the college as an engine for social and economic transformation (full bio here). Mike Krywy (Chair of the Wellness Committee) sat down with Stan to get his thoughts about wellness.


Q: Wellness is sometimes broken up into physical, mental and spiritual aspects. What are your thoughts on this way of thinking?

I agree with that breakdown, as all those aspects are important. But I also think of wellness in terms of individual wellness, organizational wellness and global wellness. And those same three principles – physical, mental and spiritual – would apply to all three.

Take individual wellness. If we are not well as individuals, how can we be well as a community or as a people? So if individual wellness is not connected to the workplace or we fail to see the connection, you CAN end up with challenges. Then you have to ask, “What is the missing ingredient? Why are people not well or unhappy at work? What can we do to sustain and support individual wellness?” For me, the answer resides in a uniting sense of purpose.

Q: What are the key components of organizational wellness?

Organizational wellness can be defined in many ways. One way to understand it is through the strength of social bonds. We are all individuals linked in a network or community, and it is important to be socially connected, whether that’s at home or at work.

A simple question to ask is “Do you have a best friend at work?” Someone who – if you had a question as simple as “where’s the mail room?” – would provide you with directions. Research has shown that strong friendships can help make people more resilient and adaptable. When you have those social supports at work, you’re more likely to want to come to work, make a contribution, and enjoy it.

Q: As an organization, is there anything the College can do to help develop these social bonds and strengthen personal networks?

Read More →

Health e-plan – Get connected to your health

April 13, 2012

The Wellness committee was fortunate to have Kelly Small of the provincial government come and talk to us about a new initiative they are running called the Health e-Plan.  This online tool is meant to help individuals assess their health, set wellness goals, take steps to achieve those goals, and track their progress.  It also provides useful information of services providers nearest to where you live, and ideally, will enable the government to better understand and coordinate services for individuals by region.  Below is the synopsis provided in the Health e-Plan brochure.  If you’re interested, read further, and consider creating a plan for yourself.

What is Health e-plan?

The Health e-plan is an online interactive tool to help you:

  • Better understand your current health and
  • Learn ways to improve your health over time

How does it work?

Health e-Plan involves four easy steps:

  • Assess your health
  • Set goals
  • Take action
  • Track your progress

The first step is to create your personal health profile by answering questions about your current health status. This includes questions related to your physical condition, lifestyle and family history. Based on established medical guidelines, Health e-Plan will produce a detailed report to help you learn more about how your current habits and lifestyle choices, your family history and other factors may affect your health in the future. The health assessment also helps you set goals for improving your health and provides useful information for making changes.

Customized to your needs

In addition to helping you set goals to help improve your health status, Health e-Plan can help you meet those goals with a customized plan. My Wellness Connections will link you to resources in your community based on where you live and the results of your health assessment.

Rewarding your effort

After completing your health assessment you have an opportunity to participate in our Rewards Program. To participate, you complete an electronic entry ballot. You are then entered into a draw with a chance to win small weekly prizes as well as a grand prize each month.  Each time you update your profile, you have another chance to enter and win.

Get started today!

Visit and enter Health e-Plan in the search box at the top of the page.

To set up your personal health profile, you need information such as your waist and hip measurements, blood pressure and cholesterol levels. If you don’t have this information handy, you can still get started. Then, update your profile with the correct information when you have it to ensure more meaningful and accurate results.