Making That Healthy Change

Most of us have tried to diet. Some have succeeded, some have failed miserably. Well known Lethbridge personality Jim Castelli is going through the challenge of a clean eating journey and wanted to share his experience.

First off, why are you doing this clean eating journey?

I am doing this clean eating journey for my health and to prove to myself that I can follow my own programs and advice and make radical change happen. Sugar cravings are things I teach my clients to deal with. Also, at age 50 and with some annoying health issues (breathing and Achilles tendons) I need to know I am doing all I can to increase my quality of life. Also, after years in the entertainment industry I have created a world in which I am enabled to drink alcohol almost every day. I found that this was becoming a problem and that I no longer had an off switch…For my health and the love and respect of my children and partner, I had to stop drinking.
There are 6 million clean eating options out there. What are you on or not on and why?

Of the many clean eating diets I have chosen a ketogenic diet (Ideal Protein). One of the reasons I am using this one is I did part of phase 1 last November and was very successful yet did not follow through with it – now I am ready to make amazing things happen with it. Also, my partner Terra has been hired as the administrator and lead consultant with what will become My Ideal Fresh Life Health And Wellness. I am also doing the program so I can consult and add this service into my therapy services.

What convinces you that this method is going to work for you?

The science behind this program (over ten years research and the work of JJ Virgin tells me this is good) and the fact that I have experience with it and also my partner has done it and lost about 70 pounds on it in the last year.
You’re off booze. Has that been tough or not an issue at all?
I am 40 days sober now, it was easy for me to break free as I was able to program myself that I could not have one drink.

What has been tough about this?

The worst time for me was being out at my friend Peter Brown’s cabin at Tie lake when everyone was drinking and everyone was offering me scotch and bourbon (my fav’s)… I found that very stressful. I have also been going through counselling for alcohol addiction which has been very successful.

Why did you decide to go viral on this journey?

Two reasons for going Viral; many of the people who I get my knowledge and inspiration from do the same thing (as in producing videos and blogs) and I am very grateful for their insights and it is a way of paying forward. Also, there is a business component for me. As I go through my process I am learning and developing new programs and techniques to assist my clients. I am also going to adding this experience to my motivational presentations. There is also a need to get back into the public eye in a positive way. In spite of the work I have done to keep myself out there, I have fallen off the grid. I run into people all the time who do not know me or do not know what I do. I would like to change that now.

What’s your ultimate goal?

My ultimate goal was to get below 200 pounds (I am already there – as of today under 198), however, now my goal has evolved to be more of a percentage of my lean body mass. My starting percentage was almost 29% (I was shocked by that)…. now my new goal is now to get down to 22% (which would put me at 186 lbs – I have not been that weight since my early 30’s!).
Will you be able to handle not getting there if you don’t?

My new goal both scares and excites me. This is going to be an interesting journey for sure. At this point in my life, I am not concerned about failing…why would I fail? What could possibly be happening which is beyond my control? This is my attitude towards this and where my focus is. I have not set a goal date for achieving this so, worst thing would be that I set a date and then do not achieve it and have to set another one. It is all a learning process so failure will be just another step in learning. This is where most will fail… they believe there are forces at play which are beyond their control. This is not true…excuses are not “real” barriers.

What is one thing you simply can’t give up and still make this journey a success?

At this point I do not know of anything which I cannot give up. Being sober should have been really hard but it has been the easiest part of my journey. Things I am missing right now are popcorn and extra meat (having a full steak or extra burger at supper). There is nothing right now that I am struggling with… just smaller portions. So I guess that is my answer and non answer lol.
Where can we watch you go through all of this?

I am going to continue doing Facebook Live videos and will be posting on my James R M Castelli Facebook page. I will also be posting it on my website I suppose I could start a Youtube channel dedicated to that. Until then I am posting my videos on my James Castelli Youtube channel.

The Wine List: Show #1

I enjoy a nice glass of wine but there are so many choices. Going to a wine store can be daunting. Do you want red or white? Why is one bottle $20 more expensive than another? Does a screw top make the wine cheaper? Should you get wine from Canada, The US or Australia? What should you have with a pasta? So many questions.

Well…hopefully this new series called The Wine List will give you some answers. Over the next 10 weeks I’ll stop over to Everything Wine and More and have a chat with Craig Baunton. Hopefully together we’ll learn a little something. Here’s our first episode.





Enjoy The Wide Skies

I’ve gotten to know Mike Spencer over the years helping to promote his Geomatic Attic. It was his passion for music that inspired him to open up an intimate venue at his own place of business near the Casino. The Geomatic Attic brings an eclectic blend of musical genres to Lethbridge throughout the year. Mike is stepping up his game by bringing in the Wide Skies Music & Arts Festival this week. Mike took time away from his very busy schedule to fill us in on what’s happening.

What was the thinking behind the Music & Arts Festival in downtown Lethbridge?

The Wide Skies Music and Arts Festival was given its first push when we received a generous “Heart of Our City” grant. Our thinking upon applying for the grant was to put on a music and arts festival that did the following: Highlight a beautiful and different part of downtown Lethbridge; Is welcoming to everyone; showcases the type of high quality music that The Geomatic Attic brings to its own venue throughout the year; gives an opportunity for artisans to display their talents; respects our environment by minimizing on site waste and encouraging attendees to leave their cars at home.

Talk about the Art side of the festival.

We feel that visual arts and music go together perfectly and, as such, asked the Allied Arts Council to source Artisans that would enhance the festival experience

On July 26 you have Alex Cuba, Deep Dark Woods, Lindsay Beaver and the 24th Street Wailers, Shaela Miller, Mariel Buckley and Ryland Moranz. Can you give us a one sentence description of what you can expect from each of these performers?

Alex Cuba – Latin Grammy Award winners featuring high energy and highly danceable Latin Blues and Jazz;

Deep Dark Woods – Prairie Roots Rock favorites back together after a 2 year hiatus;

Lindsay Beaver and the 24th Street Wailers – fantastic feel good mix of blues and rockabilly all the way from Austin, Texas;

Shaela Miller – very special local performer with an attitude and a little Patsy Cline twang;

Ryland Moranz – from Fort McLeod, Alberta, a fabulous songwriter, wonderful musician and engaging performer…….catch him before he makes it big!!!;

Mariel Buckley – living in Calgary and one of Alberta’s best kept musical secrets!!!

Same question for the July 27th show which will be inside Southminster United Church.

Dave Alvin and Phil Alvin and the Guilty Men – from Los Angeles, California, Dave and Phil were founders of the late 70’s and 80’s LA rock and punk scene with their band The Blasters;

Lindi Ortega – From Toronto, Ontario and a one-time resident of Nashville, Tennessee, she has it all…….the voice, the songs, the charisma and plenty of country infused Tex-Mex grooves!!!

It’s important for you to make this environmentally friendly. Discuss.

Wide Skies would like to take a leadership role by making this a high impact but small footprint festival!!!

How big would you like to make this event moving forward?

We believe it has plenty of potential for the future but The Geomatic Attic feels that if each year we strive to make it better then how large it should become will take care of itself.

Give me your best sell job for the show.

Come on down and join us, you won’t be disappointed!!

D’Arcy Kavanagh: A Man of Many Talents

(Photo of D’Arcy in front of a castle in Spain used for Game of Thrones)

As his website will tell you D’Arcy Kavanagh’s working life has centred on journalism and telling stories. He was a reporter and editor for newspapers before becoming a freelance writer for magazines and newspapers in North America and overseas. Later, he took to the classroom to teach journalism, retiring in 2012 and then working with his wife Lynda with their sales and marketing coaching and training company, WOW Communications & Training Corp. He has written a series of mystery novels about an ex-pro cyclist from Montréal who is working on the French Riviera as a blogger/columnist for a chain of newspapers.

And if all that wasn’t enough D’Arcy also loves to play music. It was in that art form where we first crossed paths. We did a few interviews promoting his Celtic band Glencoulee on Scene & Heard. And here’s some trivia that probably no one will care about: A segment we had taped to promote his upcoming concert was never aired because the day it was scheduled to run there happened to be another event that kind of dominated all of TV for awhile. You may have heard of 9-11.

D’Arcy graciously took time away from biking and writing to answer these questions:

Let’s start off with a deep question: As you reflect on all the things you’ve done in your life, what comes to mind and with all your life experiences have you developed any kind of sage philosophy?

I don’t really have any sage philosophies beyond treating people like I want to be treated and thinking before I speak, both of which have been around for millennia. Maybe it’s because I’ve never had an epiphany although I’ve always been open to such an experience. (My doctor says it would be good for me to have one.)

Let’s go through some of your careers. Journalism. What were some of your favourite stories you ever did?

I wrote thousands of stories, both as a newspaper reporter and as a freelance writer. As a result, no stories pop into my head as “favourites” but a few do as “memorable.” One involved an 85ish man in a seniors’ home trying to kill two other residents due to a lover’s quarrel. It was bizarre in the extreme but showed that people’s passions don’t diminish with age. Another story in that category looked at how tough life was for sugar-beet-field workers; if people only knew the challenges, they’d have been shocked. A third one involved a story I did for an American magazine on life along the Montana border. As part of the research, I wanted to know if Montana shared the longest border with Canada excluding Alaska. A simple fact to find, right? As it turned out, I spent dozens of hours investigating that seemingly simple question and the only person, including the head of the American cartography department, who knew was an individual who mapped out the entire Canadian-American border every few years and had walked every metre of it. I got him out of the shower at his cottage in upstate Maine which, by the way, was the answer.

The newspaper business has certainly changed from the time you first got into it up until now. Thoughts?

The obvious answer is the turn away from mainstream media to social media. One result of that is that an increasing – and alarming – number of people who now use Facebook or Twitter as their sole source of news. Also, people have fallen into the trap of finding websites that tell them what they want to hear, not what is actually happening. So now we’re in an age of “fake news” with all kinds of people denying facts. That is frightening.

You got into teaching journalism. What was that experience like?

Better than I could have hoped. I recall my first class, going into a room and trying to look like I’d done it before. It worked; the students couldn’t see my anxiety. And in that first class, I found I really enjoyed the experience, especially when I could see the light bulbs going on for a student. And it only got better from there. But it was never easy and I tried to ensure that I went into every single class totally prepared, both in content and in what might pop into the minds of students.

Were there any kids you taught that have made a name for themselves?

Tons, almost too many to remember. They’ve gone onto great success in a variety of fields, but I can’t take credit for their success. I was there at the right time to help them, but so were other instructors. Ultimately, though, it was the students who made the decision they wanted to succeed.

When did you first develop your love of riding a bike?

When I was growing up in Montreal, I loved to ride my bike. When I moved to Vancouver to complete high school, I rode a little. I kept riding after that. However, my real love affair with bicycling came in 1979 when I took a leave of absence to go bike touring in Britain and Ireland for three months. I had cycled for years before then, but that trip showed me how I could explore a country in a new way. I’ve never stopped cycling and bike touring since then. I ride about 11,000 to 13,000 km a year and have probably done about 400,000 in my life, slightly more than the distance from Earth to the moon. Am I a cycling fanatic? Absolutely.

What’s the appeal of riding your bike all over Europe?

I can think of no better way to experience a place than by bike. It gets you up close and personal in so many ways. I also love the sense of accomplishment after a day’s ride. It sounds corny, but cycling makes me feel more human.

What’s your favourite country to ride through and why?

I have so many favourite countries. I just returned from my fourth bike tour of Spain. I love that country, the people, the geography, the food, the culture. But I’m also a huge fan of France and have spent about a year overall cycling there. The Netherlands and Belgium are both brilliant for cyclists because of their wonderful bike-path systems. Scotland is also a favourite for its remarkable scenery. Ditto for Italy and Austria. But for one place, I’m picking France. The French love cycling, the country has an astonishing variety of landscapes, the food and drink are world class, and, finally, I love the language.

Lance Armstrong: discuss.

He made non-cyclists pay attention to the sport, especially the Tour de France which is easily my favourite event/time of each year. He also had a profound impact on the lives of many cancer victims and that goes into the plus category for him in a big way. However, his years of lying and bullying have corroded his reputation beyond repair. One positive result of his drug-use confession is that professional cycling has reformed itself to a considerable degree and is likely the most drug-tested sport going; other professional sports should be so involved in trying to stop the use of performance-enhancing drugs. As for the man himself these days, I think he remains an intriguing, difficult, challenging individual whose future will continue to be marked by controversy and litigation.

Was writing a book always in your mind even while you were a journalist?

Not really. I was too busy writing most of each day to ponder a book. When I was freelancing on a nearly full-time basis, I was more concerned with paying the bills than producing a novel. But there were occasions when I gave the notion a moment’s thought. I just never pursued the idea until I retired.

Has writing always been easy for you or do you really have to psyche yourself up to get started?

Words and grammatical structure aren’t second nature to me, but I’ve always been willing to learn and work hard. As for psyching myself up to write, that’s never been an issue. Long ago, I encountered some great advice about writing: A blank screen/sheet of paper can be an enormously intimidating thing to look at since it reminds us we as humans don’t have many answers. So, don’t delay, just put something down on paper/screen because you can always change it later. Second piece of great advice: Once you finish writing, you need to become your toughest critic.

How did you decide on what you were going to write about?

I never really had plots in mind until one year in France, my wife suggested I should do a mystery novel about cycling and, since we were biking in France, set it in that country with some kind of Canadian connection. The idea intrigued me enough that we discussed plot for days and days. (I can tell you how unwise it is to discuss murdering someone while sitting in an outdoor café surrounded by people.) After that, it was a case of researching and, finally, writing which was actually the easiest part.

Top 5 albums on your Ipod?

– Fleetwood Mac’s Greatest Hits

– Louis Amstrong: What a Wonderful World

– The Mavericks’ In Time

– Midnight in Paris Soundtrack

– Best of the Tannahill Weavers

You win the lottery. What bike would you immediately buy and where you ride it?

Tough questions. OK, I’d go Canadian and buy a Cervelo road bike. I love its lines, its reputation and its durability. I’d ride it along a 1,100-km stretch of the Danube from western Germany near the Swiss border to Bratislava in Slovakia, a trip I’ve done and love. Since I’m filthy rich thanks to that lottery win, I’d have my luggage sent ahead of me.

How many books are left in you?

I like the process of writing so I hope to keep at it for a few years yet. To be more specific, I think I have another half dozen books in me. My next one comes out this fall and is the fourth entry in my mystery series. It’s called Corsica Born and Dead. I’m plotting a fifth book in the series so we’ll see.

What big time actors would you like to play your characters in a movie?

I’ve actually thought about this more than I should, but it’s a fun exercise. The actor I see as my main character, ex-pro cyclist-turned-blogger Paul Burke, is Yannick Bisson who stars as the title character in TV’s Murdoch Mysteries. He’s from Montreal, like Burke, and he’s a keen cyclist. If Marion Cotillard were a few years younger, she’d be Burke’s partner Hélène while John Goodman would be great as her Uncle Claude.

How important is it for you to continue to play music and perform?

Decades ago, I never thought I’d ever get paid to play music, so it’s been rewarding to have that happen for almost 20 years. I was lucky to play in a great band, Glencoulee, with Richard Burke and Ian Hepher, and to still do Celtic music with Ian and as a solo act. I continue to get excited about playing music for an audience, whether it’s at a pub, a private function, a corporate gig, a festival or for seniors. (I’ve been playing at seniors’ lodges and hospitals for 35 years.) When it gets too much like a job, I’ll stop, but I don’t see that happening anytime soon. And the nice aspect is that I think I’m still improving, both instrumentally and vocally.

I know I’m cliché but what’s on your bucket list?

In many ways, I’ve done a lot of what was on my bucket list. I wanted to write for a living – check. I wanted to tell people’s stories – check. I wanted to teach – check. I wanted to travel – check. I wanted to go bike touring with family members – check. As for what’s left, I’d say more great bike rides, more terrific trips. (I should mention that my original bucket list included playing centre field for the Montreal Expos and defence for the Montreal Canadiens. Oh, well.)

Any regrets?

I did more dumb stuff than I should have over the years, but I don’t really have any regrets. First, they don’t serve much purpose since I can’t change what’s done. Second, they don’t foster change. It’s more important to learn from one’s mistakes. I’m still learning.

Advice to kids who want to write. 

Tell good stories. In the “Age of Me”, it still remains important to focus on others. Write what you know, focus on using action verbs, skip the adjectives, keep it simple and edit, edit, edit. But most importantly, just start.


Randomly I Go On A Monday


The ongoing love-hate relationship I have with the Blue Jays is tipping more to hate these days especially after watching them give up a bases loaded walk to end the game. I’d rather it was a grand slam.

You gotta love Roger Federer for being the oldest guy to ever win Wimbledon. Because he’s the oldest I believe he gets a discount on tea and crumpets.

Congratulations to Michelle Day and everyone who organized the Japanese Gardens 50th anniversary celebrations on the weekend. I still remember seeing Prince and Princess Takamatsu drive past my house in 1967 when they were in the city for the grand opening. I was 12 at the time and I thought it was pretty cool. (I think that was the term I used back then.) The Gardens truly are a gem for the city. If you’re stressed out, you need to take a couple of hours to leisurely walk through them. You’ll feel the weight of your shoulders ease instantly. It’s an incredibly tranquil place. I hear that the princess who came this year was wonderful.

The Lethbridge Bulls held a pancake breakfast on Saturday morning as part of being good neighbors and to participate in the celebration. I have to hand it to the guys who came out to flip pancakes. They were there right at 7:30 after they played a double header the night before and didn’t get out of Spitz Stadium until well after midnight.

Speaking of that double header on Friday. I had the great Kathy Matkin-Clapton out to sing the National Anthem at both games and she did double duty with the 7th Inning Stretch in the first game. With the air show in town the Snowbirds flew over the stadium. It was about 15 minutes before Kathy sang. It would have been a nice touch if they flew just as she had finished. Naturally I would have taken credit for orchestrating that.

I’m once again hooked on watching Big Brother for the summer. I have to give them credit for coming up with new stuff. The den of temptation is a great twist. And having Paul come back from last year has been entertaining.

Be watching for a wine feature I’m doing with Craig Baunton of Everything Wine & More. Once a week we’re going to select a bottle of wine and have a little discussion about it. Hopefully you’ll learn a little something. Craig really knows his product and I had a lot of fun taping it. And yes we tasted every bottle. It was a great way to spend an afternoon. It’s called The Wine List and it’s coming to a Facebook near you.

I’m working on the new issue of The Breeze Magazine. Watch for a “Where Are They Now” segment where I talk to former Hurricane Wes Walz, former Global employee Cheryl Oates and former New West Theatre star Kelly Kruchkywich.

Remembering Mitch & Tanner

The Tanner Craswell-Mitch Maclean alumni game takes place on Saturday at Spitz stadium. Organizer and alum Tyson Ford answered a few questions about the special game.

You’re the man who was instrumental in getting the Alumni game started. How important is it for you to keep it going?

For me it’s important to give back to the game and programs that have had such a positive impact in my life. The legacy of baseball in Lethbridge is embodied in what Mitch and Tanner represented as people and baseball players. The TCMM Memorial Fund is a way to give back to the baseball community and pay tribute to a couple of quality individuals who had to leave us a little too early.

You were roommates with both Mitch and Tanner. Describe what kind of guys they were.

It’s pretty tough to describe your best buddies with just a couple of words but to choose a couple I think I’d settle on: quality, respectful, humble, charming, reckless and borderline irresponsible on a Saturday night. A couple of regular dudes that could always make you laugh and feel welcome.

What can we expect on Saturday night and where do the proceeds go?

You can expect a lot of washed up talent competing their hearts out. All proceeds go to supporting current and aspiring college baseball players.

How competitive do the guys get?

It gets extremely competitive! You never wanna let your buddies beat you – and that just player into the Lethbridge baseball culture – we do not like losing. There is a reason PBA has was 7 CCBC Championships in a row.

What’s the pitching going to be like?

We’ve got some old fellas, who could really bring it back in the day, and can still bring it with just a lot less control. If the legendary Darrell Ellis can make it, I’m sure we will still see some upper 80’s fastballs.

Will Jesse Sawyer (Bulls current coach and Bulls alum) hit one out?

Jesse is getting pretty soft in his old age, but still has plenty of bat speed to hit some dingers.

What’s your best insult to one of your former teammates?

Not very many of these are appropriate haha:

“Hey Tanner, remember that last time you found barrel?

– Yeah me neither.”

Tell us what you’re doing now.

I am a Petroleum Engineer working in Calgary, AB.

Give us your best sales pitch for the game.

There’s no current or former Aaron Judge in the PBA, VAB, or Bulls ranks but there are still a few guys who can hit a ball realllly far and can provide some quality entertainment. A great family event that is sure to bring some smile, laughs, and broken backs where all proceeds go to a great cause!