Health advice from women we love
In honour of International Women’s Day, these Canadian celebrities let you in on the best health advice they ever got
“I’m a bit of a CNN junkie, and I love [chief medical correspondent] Dr. Sanjay Gupta. They were doing a report on people who were living to age 100 in perfect health. What added 10 years to their lifespan was flossing! That was an ‘a-ha’ moment for me. I was like, ‘How blessed have I been?’ My mom worked when I was a child, so we had dental insurance and I went to the dentist regularly. Being in the public eye, I need my teeth. There’s veneers, but I’ve got my own pearlies and they’re healthy.”
Jully Black is a Juno Award-winning singer. Her albums include Revival, This Is Me and The Black Book.
Photo: Ivan Otis
“I had a really bad neck injury before I retired: I bruised the spinal cord in my neck and had a severe concussion. One doctor told me, ‘This is it; you should retire.’ Then I went to a trainer and he said, ‘Let’s just work things slowly and get your core strength back up before you make any decisions.’ I think not making the decision to quit at a moment when I was so vulnerable was the best thing. The team that year  was probably the best I ever played on, so having to miss that would have been really disappointing.”
Cassie Campbell is a broadcaster, former captain of the Canadian women’s hockey team, two-time Olympic gold-medal winner and the co-author of H.E.A.R.T., an inspirational autobiography on what it takes to succeed.
Photo: Greig Reekie
Dr. Beth Abramson
“My father is a cardiologist, and he was ahead of his time in terms of teaching us to lead by example. So we often ate large salads and fish. I grew up not liking rich, creamy or fried foods. And when I see people coming in daily with heart attacks or angina, I see the consequences of not leading a heart-healthy life. Which is not to say I don’t like a piece of chocolate cake now and then. So, most things in moderation-except smoking: zero tolerance for that.”
Dr. Beth Abramson is a Toronto cardiologist and spokesperson for the Heart and Stroke Foundation.
“It’s very important to listen to your own body. My dad [Chalmers Doane, a music educator appointed to the Order of Canada] is the kind of guy who, if he felt sick, would think about why and try different things before he ran off to the doctor. And a lot of times, he would solve things for himself in some unorthodox way. As long as I eat well, exercise, listen to my emotional state and stay in tune with myself as a person, I’m going to get clues when things are going wrong and I can take action.”
Melanie Doane is a Juno Award-winning singer. Her recent album, A Thousand Nights, features guests such as Jim Cuddy and Ron Sexsmith.
Catriona Le May Doan
“I have received the same great advice twice: once from my doctor just after my daughter was born, and the second time from a girlfriend in the past year. They both said to be sure to stay healthy in body, mind and spirit. We sometimes forget that they’re all related. Especially in times of stress and extreme busyness, I take an hour and go to the gym or for a run. And when I take time for me, I know I’m a better mum and my kids are happier-and there’s nothing healthier than that.”
Catriona Le May Doan is a double Olympic champion speed skater, a public speaker and a sports broadcaster. She is the author of Going For Gold and lit the torch at the 2010 Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver.
Photo: CBC Sports
“My great-aunt said, ‘Be the best that you can be.’ A few years ago I climbed Mount Rainier. It was a tough climb over glaciers with crampons, ice picks and ropes. It was both physically challenging and mentally tough. Mountain climbing isn’t the answer for all Canadians. But whatever you did yesterday, you should push yourself and move a little bit more today.”
Kelly Murumets is president and CEO of ParticipAction.
“Wrestling has different weight classes, so it’s one of those sports where you could be in danger of having eating issues. A friend, who was pretty young at the time, tried to cut all the fat out of her diet, and she started to have a lot of intestinal problems. It was a lesson: Anything that looks like it’s pretty extreme in any way, I generally wouldn’t go for that kind of a diet.”
Carol Huynh won a gold medal in women’s 48-kilogram freestyle wrestling at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, and is also a 2007 Pan Am Games gold medallist.
Photo: Monique Smith
“Having my third child taught me that I have to do what is right for me first, because I’m then able to operate at an optimum level. I can be the healthiest for all the people around me, including my children, my husband, my family and friends. And now, I’m finally listening to my body. If you think, ‘I’m going to drink a bunch of alcohol, smoke a cigarette or eat something I can’t tolerate,’ and your body tells you, ‘You know you’re going to hurt tomorrow,’ listen to it. It works every time.”
Juno Award winner Chantal Kreviazuk has also written songs for Gwen Stefani and Avril Lavigne.
Photo: Raphael Mazucco
“Years ago, a friend of mine in Montreal called me and said she had seen this doctor on television talking about constipation. It was Dr. David Jenkins, creator of the glycemic index. She told me he said that if you have bran every day, you’d be cured forever. So I eat yogurt, berries and bran…and it really works!
Another thing is that my father always exercised, but I never did. In my 30s I started going to the Y. It was important for me because I was a chef and my weight fluctuated. So I started exercising and I’ve never stopped. If I eat more on one day, I just exercise longer the next day.”
Bonnie Stern is the founder of the Bonnie Stern School of Cooking in Toronto, and the author of HeartSmart: The Best of HeartSmart Cooking and regular columns in Reader’s Digest and the National Post.
Photo: Glenn Lowson