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Gooey cheese-smothered nachos brimming with the usual topping suspects. That was Christin Chernoff's food vice.
Then the longtime Tsawwassenite became a personal trainer—and the nachos she once knew melted into oblivion.
However, for Chernoff, substituting the recipe with whole grain chips, low-fat cheese and non-fat yogurt does have its trade-offs. Today the thirty-something mom to a five-year-old has more spring in her step thanks to healthy eating habits.
Her energy has been embraced by the Tsawwassen First Nation, who have hired Chernoff—the owner of Motiv Rehabilitation Inc. in South Delta—to helm a Healthy Living program for its members.
"The overall goal is to get people out more and living a healthy lifestyle," says Chernoff, last Thursday afternoon in her TFN office, sporting practical shorts and a flowy blouse.
So far, 17 TFN members—mainly young working families and single people "who would normally order a pizza for dinner"—have responded to Chernoff's non-militant fitness approach. Instead she prescribes "straightforward, easy, free walking."
One male participant has already lost 70 pounds.
"I want to credit him for having the motivation to do it," says a beaming Chernoff.
She has made inroads in dispelling the myth that it's unaffordable to eat healthy. Asian lettuce wraps now land on dinner plates in place of hamburgers. Rewind one year, when Chernoff was learning of a typical TFN diet: "very starchy, high sodium, preservatives and not a lot of fresh vegetables."
So, she will soon dangle a carrot, a garden box program, which will see Chernoff entice Healthy Living program participants with fresh produce.
Looking outside her office window, Chernoff points to a small, budding fruit and vegetable plot adjacent to the TFN administration building. Started recently by a TFN elder, Chernoff believes the Healthy Living program may have been the impetus for the community garden.
Another component of the program is fall prevention and physiotherapy. Her rehabilitation assistant background allows Chernoff to work with TFN residents suffering from everything from soft tissue damage to traumatic brain injuries and spinal cord trauma.
At the end of the day, working with the TFN is a humanizing experience for Chernoff.
"There is such a strong vision here," she says. "I feel very accepted here."