The Calgary Journal
The Calgary Journal

Calgary is home to four women who have recently, or will very soon, be published authors in the field of personal growth and wellness. Their books cover an array of topics, but they each speak to the personal struggles they have endured through eating disorders, addiction, self-limiting beliefs and more. They have come out the other side with wisdom and hope to share.

The Calgary Journal spoke with the new authors to discuss their lives and work.

Marin McCue, 31 – Be The Change: A Story. A Road Map. A Movement.

Q: Can you provide a brief synopsis of the book?

A: I often refer to it as an auto-biography/self-help book. I share my life's story and the early signs of inspiration and dysfunction, and how I created toxicity in my mind and body without realizing what I was doing.

From growing up Mormon and not feeling aligned in the religion, to negative self-talk and body image issues, to setting a big goal of getting a full ride scholarship to play basketball in the states and the many bumps along the way.

I discovered that achieving big goals was not enough and I had put my happiness in the hands of something external and fleeting. My mental health got worse and worse until a few peak moments of self-harm, promiscuity, depression, anxiety attacks and an intense battle with an eating disorder.

I use Joseph Campbell's Hero's Journey to frame my story in key integral steps to show how even the darkest moments have immense purpose and power in them — and when you can shift your mindset you can find a way through the struggle. I share the many tools I wish I knew back then and the practices and knowledge I use now to find the calm behind the incessant mind-chatter. 

Q: What made you want to write this book?

A: I struggled with mental health for most of my life. I started a coaching business after I had fostered positive change in my mind and body and felt so inspired and compelled to share and support others. One of the tools I use in coaching is to support my clients in reframing their life story so that it becomes a voice of empowerment rather than a weight on their back.

This book started as me just going through the same exercises that I ask my clients to engage in. It was after a couple of weeks of writing that I realized it had become something much more substantial than I had anticipated and I felt called to create a book.

Q: What do you hope the reader takes away from it?

A: Hope … that there is a way through whatever struggle sets in, a desire for positive change and a trust in their own ability to make it happen — tools to practice right away to begin the journey of self-discovery and recovery from the trauma of being alive.

Q: What was the biggest lesson you learned while writing the book?

A: I learned that no project is too big or too daunting. I committed to writing 10 minutes a day and didn't worry about how long it would take or what I didn't know about how to write a big. I trusted that I would figure it out as things popped up.

Author MarinMarin McCue at Chapters Chinook on Jan. 27 to get a photo of her book being stocked on the shelf of the major retailer. Photo courtesy of Marin McCue.

Q: What formats are the book available in?

A: Right now it is only available as a physical copy. I am heading into a studio next week to start recording an audio book though.

Q: Where can you buy it?

A: It is available on Lulu, Amazon and is also available [locally] at Chapters Chinook, Lole on 17th Avenue and Liv Yoga + Wellness.

McCue’s book, Be The Change was self-published.

Kori Hagel, 34 – Atlas of Darkness

Q: Can you provide a brief synopsis of the book?

A: I think we all encounter hard times as human beings. Atlas of Darkness is simply my own dance with darkness. It's a story of the phoenix bird and rising from the ashes. It's my own atlas to guide our way through the darkest days. 

Q: What made you want to write this book?

A: The book is about my rise from darkness — this sort of includes the sudden loss of my father when I was six [as well as] a pretty abusive relationship I found myself in in my late 20s. It covers my journey into eating disorders, depression, anxiety and self-hatred.

Q: What do you hope the reader takes away from it?

A: I hope the reader walks away with hope. I hope that the reader walks away with a new round reverence for the dark days of what it means to be human; that the hard days are not ‘bad days’ … they are days filled with the deepest lessons. I hope the reader walks away knowing that they are stronger or more brilliant than they ever knew.

Author KoriKori Hagel signs books at the launch party for Atlas of Darkness at the Christine Klassen Gallery on Feb. 10. Photo by Tegan Jay Dutton.

Q: What was the biggest lesson you learned while writing the book?

A: I learned that my philosophy of "one-foot-and-then-the-next" leads to amazing places. I had no idea how to write a book, I just knew that writing is healing for me. I took this project one simple day at a time, and I crossed each bridge as I got to it — and alas, here I am, with a book ... I’m now a published author — it amazes me.

Q: What formats is your book available in?

A: It's in physical format.

Q: Where can you buy it?

A: It's available on Amazon. It’s also available in Calgary at Outside the Shape.

Hagel’s book was self-published.

Lena Le Huray, 29 – Food Rehab for Food Junkies

Q: Can you provide a brief synopsis of the book?

A: Food Rehab for Food Junkies starts with my story, explaining in detail what I’ve been through that’s lead me to this moment and how my past deeply affected the way I saw myself and formed the relationship I had towards food.

Then it takes you through your own journey as I get you to think about your relationship with food and with your body, the real reasons you may struggle with food and what areas of your life you’re unhappy with.

Because I’m an educator, part one is all about the physical side of health — what we eat, how we eat, when to eat, exercise and so on.

Part two dives into our emotional health and explains how the things we think, and what goes on in our internal world, dramatically impacts our health and our physical body and what you can do to become emotionally healthy.

Part three is all about our spiritual health, which is the deepest layer of our being and the layer that often gets neglected. Part three isn’t about following religious practices, it’s about connecting with something greater than yourself and building meaningful relationships with those around you. [It’s] really about love — love for your creator, love for humanity [and] love for yourself.

Q: What made you want to write this book?

A: I was sexually abused when I was 15, which lead me down a pretty dark path of drug addiction paired with an eating disorder. I had been into fitness since I was 17, but still struggled with so many unhealthy practices.

When I turned 21 years old, I knew I needed to change my life and to quit doing drugs, so I moved to Calgary and went to university to become a personal trainer while studying nutrition on the side.

I loved working out and being a trainer, but nutrition was always of more interest to me. I would put clients on diets and get them to exercise more — doing everything by the book — but they weren’t seeing long lasting results.

By the time I was 25, I was still struggling with bulimia and was doing everything to change my body, but nothing seemed to work. I knew that there was so much more to health than just healthy eating, but what was going on in our internal world, that usually results in making poor decisions with food.

I went back to school for nutritional psychology and became an eating psychology coach where I help my clients get healthy on a physical, emotional and spiritual level.

I started writing Food Rehab for Food Junkies in 2015 and here we are today.

Author LenaLena Le Huray at her book launch at the Hyatt on March 16. Photo courtesy of Lena Le Huray.

Q: What do you hope the reader takes away from it?

A: My goal for readers is to realize that being healthy isn’t just about clean-eating and exercising, but about taking care of oneself on an entire spectrum. Everything in our body and health is connected. If we focus on the physical side of health, but neglect our emotional and spiritual health, everything eventually falls apart, and vice versa.

Q: What was the biggest lesson you learned while writing the book?

A: The biggest lesson I learned while writing my book was that it was going to come with a cost. Because I’m very open and honest about what’s happened to me, I’ve had family members treat me differently because of it. I was willing to have those relationships change because of the truth, and they did.

Q: What formats is your book available in?

A: My book is available in physical copy right now and will be available in an e-book within the next few months. I would love to have it on audiobook, so that’s something I’m also looking into.

Q: Where can you buy it?

A: Amazon, Chapters/Indigo, Barnes & Noble online. In Calgary it is available at Chinook and Dalhousie Chapters locations this month.

Le Huray’s book was published by Meraki House Publishing.

Maria Koutsogiannis (FoodByMaria), 29 – Mindful Vegan Meals: Food Is Your Friend

Q: What made you want to write this book?

A: I went through a stage of bulimia and uncertainty related to food. It just got to the point where I was afraid to eat. I body shamed myself and always thought I was fat. I developed this fear of food. Then, when I recovered, I developed IBS and I couldn’t really digest food. It was really complicated to figure out why my body was doing this. After being bulimic, I thought what it wanted was to eat … so what I did is I started an Instagram account to sort of document what I was eating and figure out what all these triggers were and why my tummy was reacting the way it was. It sort of just went from there. One second it was an Instagram, the next it was a blog, the next it was an ebook, the next quitting my job and writing a book. It all happened really quickly.

Q: Which recipe or story in the book is your favourite?

A: I think it might have been the banana bread. So in the story I talk about how I have always been afraid of baking, let alone eating sweets, and I finally mastered this really yummy, moist banana bread. At this point I still had body dysmorphia, but I felt comfortable eating it because I knew exactly what went into it. I guess it was kind of a turning point where I was like, ‘Woah, not all food that’s deemed as “bad” has to be unhealthy’.

Q: Who do you think should read this book?

A: It’s made for everyone because the recipes are so easy. It’s great for moms on the go, it’s great for bachelors, it’s great for people recovering [from] or going through an eating disorder … it’s really educating humans in general. It’s a really educational book because I’ve worked with a nutritionist to create it, so it’s very informative. My motto is, ‘Fear not, food is your friend.’ So, just learning the importance of a good, balanced diet and that at the end of the day, not eating isn’t going to help you … it’s what you put into your body to help fuel your everyday life.

Author Maria29-year-old Maria Koutsogiannis started her Instagram account foodbymaria to help her document her recovery from an eating disorder and now has over 150 thousand followers. Photo by Tegan Jay Dutton.

Q: What was the biggest lesson you learned while writing this book?

A: That I hate not having control and that it’s really difficult being on someone else’s deadline … that I am much stronger than I thought that I am, or was — that I can do anything I put my mind to. Writing a book is very intimidating and at the beginning you genuinely think you can’t do it.

Q: Where can you buy it?

A: I’m not entirely sure of all the locations yet, but I am pretty sure all Indigo’s, Chapters, Coles and it’s available [for preorder] on Amazon Canada, Amazon UK … it depends on if the bookstore asks and if I request that it be sold there.  

Q: What format will your book available in?

A: It’s soft cover [physical copy] with 75 recipes in it. It’s in the theme of a story, and then each individual recipe has its own story. So it’s like a biography, and then each recipe has a memory that’s related to that type of recipe.

Mindful Vegan Meals will become available on June 12, 2018 however presales are currently open and will help to determine international distribution. The book is being published by Page Street Publishing.

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Editor: Paul McAleer | This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.