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AMI’s Mind Set Go inspires Canadians to transform their minds and bodies

I truly relate to the participants of AMI-tv’s documentary series, Mind Set Go, which kicks off its second season on Wednesday at 8 p.m. ET. I’ve struggled with my weight for most of my life and have had to deal with the mental blocks that kept me from achieving my health and fitness goals. Over the past few years, I changed my focus from short-term fixes to a long-term wellness plan, and I’ve lost around 50 pounds. Despite that success, it’s still a daily challenge, and I often have days when I have to battle negative thoughts.

As it so happens, overcoming negative thoughts is the entire point of Mind Set Go, which follows the journeys of eight overweight Canadians as they attempt to change their lives for the healthier.

Para-athlete Pamela LeJean helps Mind Set Go participant Danielle on her fitness journey.

“It’s all about the brain, and it’s all about your mindset,” supervising producer Sophie Morgadinho explains during a phone interview from Toronto. “It’s not like a diet. It’s stopping the behaviours that are causing you to be unhealthy, and it really starts with changing the way you think about yourself and what you’re doing every day.”

Helping the show’s participants to transform their outlooks and bodies are fitness and health experts Julie and Lowell Taylor (The Amazing Race Canada) and a group of Canadian Paralympians. One of those Paralympians is Para Hall of Famer and retired para-alpine skier Karolina Wisniewska, who says she was thrilled to take part in the series.

“I think the thing that appealed to me most of all was this opportunity to be in a position to kind of inspire or help someone based on the things I learned as a high-performance athlete,” she says. “And on another maybe more personal level, I retired from alpine skiing in 2011 due to a concussion, and after my retirement, I too had struggled with maintaining my fitness. So I could really relate to what maybe some of these participants on the show were experiencing themselves.”

Each expanded, one-hour episode of the show follows a participant as he or she attempts to get fit and triumph over some of the mental hurdles that have tripped them up in the past. For self-professed “sugar addict” Dana, who is featured in the season premiere and paired with Paralympian powerlifter Ness Murby, that means confronting the grief she tried to suppress with food after her father died. For formerly fit Darryl, who is featured in the sixth episode and paired with Wisniewska, that means coming to grips with a degenerative hearing condition that left him profoundly deaf.

“My strong feeling with Daryl was that he just really needed somebody to bounce ideas off of and to talk him through it and to kind of think about what was resonating with him,” says Wisniewska. “The second aspect, I think, is that he did need a bit of a kick in the butt.”

Para Hall of Famer and former para-alpine skier Karolina Wisniewska.

Wisniewska was more than happy to provide that kick. While she says her history of concussions makes her very empathetic towards those who are facing adversity, being born with cerebral palsy makes her want to push able-bodied people to meet their full fitness potential.

“I’m someone who was born with a disability, and I’ve never understood able-bodied people who take their bodies for granted,” she says. “So that’s where my competitive athlete side comes out, and I’m like, ‘Oh, my god. Stop making excuses. You have no excuse, just do it.'”

At the beginning of their journeys, Dana, Darryl and the other participants all choose a physical challenge to complete at the end of their three-month transformations. These challenges, which include a mountain climb and a long-distance bike ride, are designed to provide a measuring stick for the physical and mental progress each person has made. While the Taylors and the Paralympians are a key part of the process, in the end, the participants have to look inside themselves for the inspiration they need to succeed–a situation Wisneiwska is very familiar with.

“At the end of the day, in ski racing, you’re at the top of the hill, you have to kick out of the start gate, and you have to race that race,” she says. “Nobody else is going to do it.”

According to Morgadinho, watching people overcome their mental demons and achieve their health goals was a motivating experience for everyone involved with the series.

“Working on the show, I have to tell you, it’s been really inspiring because I see people make transformations in their lives,” she says. “And it’s not like Biggest Loser. You’re not going to see someone come back 100 pounds lighter. It’s not about that. But you see a difference in their confidence and their happiness, and they’re healthier, they look better.”

She continues, “For me, it’s very inspiring to look at the things that I can change and go, ‘I know I’m in control of this. I have to change how I look at the problem and how I look at the solution.’ I hope that viewers are also inspired to make positive, healthy changes.”

Upcoming episodes of the series feature Canadian Paralympians  Michelle Stilwell, David Willsie, Ina Forrest, Pamela LeJean, Shawna Ryan and Andrew Haley.

Mind Set Go airs Wednesdays at 8 p.m. ET on AMI-tv.

Images courtesy of AMI.

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Amazing Race Canada’s Julie and Lowell inspire in AMI’s Mind Set Go

The mind is a powerful thing. It can inspire you to seek the most powerful and healthy version of yourself or propel on to a downward slide of negativity.

Debuting Thursday at 8:30 p.m. ET on AMI-tv, Mind Set Go takes the latter and aims for the former with help from The Amazing Race Canada finalists Julie and Lowell Taylor and Canadian Paralympians. The eight-episode season features everyday folks struggling to overcome the negative thoughts that lead to obesity via a three-month system of diet, exercise and support to get them on the path to health and personal wellness. Serving as certified health and fitness coaches and confidantes are the Taylors, who millions saw competing in Season 4 of The Amazing Race Canada; Lowell is legally blind due to retinitis pigmentosa. The pair plays an integral part in helping the contestants shed weight and negative thoughts.

Gio strives to reach his goal

“AMI was very interested in our story,” Julie says on the line from Lethbridge, Alta. “Our relationship, our teamwork and the fact that Lowell is visually impaired worked. We realized that we have something special that can reach a broader audience.” The journey begins with Gio. One of the original members of The Canadian Tenors, Gio stopped singing professionally over a decade ago and fell into a depression he fed with food. Now he’s ready to get healthy. It’s not easy. After a pep talk and weigh-in with Julie and Lowell, Gio begins his transformative journey.

The road to self-worth includes a bike ride with Michelle Salt. The one-time fitness model lost her right leg in a motorcycle accident but found drive and a zest for life as part of Canada’s Paralympic Snowboard Team. Salt listens to Gio before putting him on a bike and challenging him to keep up and pedals away. As she says, the only thing holding Gio back from success is his mind.

AMI This Week’s Victoria Nolan

“We often talk to people who are patients about this,” Lowell says. “If you believe you can’t you’re right. If you believe you can, you’re also right. If we let those bully voices inside of our head, that becomes the limiting belief. That becomes the thing that pulls us away, to withdraw, to stop living.”

“I don’t even think people identify that that is what’s holding them back,” Julie continues. “It becomes so internalized that they haven’t even identified that. Bringing it to light is so important.” Future episodes of Mind Set Go showcase Canadian Paralympians and athletes in Maya Jonas, Josh Cassidy, Summer Mortimer, Ness Murby, Greg Westlake and AMI This Week co-host Victoria Nolan.

Mind Set Go airs Thursdays at 8:30 p.m. ET on AMI-tv.

Images courtesy of AMI.

 

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