Amanda Allen's mottos are "find a way" and "freedom through discipline".
"They’re the guiding lights for me. They’re the answers to any obstacle, struggle or challenge that I’ve faced in the past," she said.
Amanda will appear at a Toronto gym called BodyFit 2283 on Saturday for a workshop on resilience, motivation, aging, nutrition, health and fitness.
She has been an elite cyclist, triathlete and canoeist. She's also lived through depression and alcoholism.
"I’m sober 14 years. I was a pretty bad alcoholic," the 48-year-old said.
"I had all sorts of health issues that were a consequence of that behaviour. These are the consequences of living a life out of balance."
Then she started to get help "in all the right places".
She attended Alcoholics Anonymous meetings twice a day for a year. Even now, she attends meetings.
"My passion now for my health and wellbeing is as much driven by a desire to never go back to those dark places – whether it be the drinking or depression – or the issues I've had around health," she said.
Just over a year ago, she had "four kilos of benign tumours cut out of me".
"They cut open the length of my torso, right up the middle of my stomach."
Amanda said she had spent years reading psychology, psychiatry and nutrition texts, trying to find answers to her life.
"I want to be the best version of myself I can possibly be," she said.
This mindset and determination led her to become a three-time CrossFit Games masters champion.
Fitness training is her "number one medicine", followed by "sleep and hydration".
"They’re the keys to my wellbeing. How I manage them and how I turn up and use them every day determines my wellbeing – physical, mental, emotional and spiritual."
She has tried meditation.
"I’ve always been searching," she said.
At one point in her life, she'd sit in front of a big picture of a guru and chant while incense burned.
"I was trying to find peace inside of myself. For me, that’s the last frontier. To know peace, to truly know it," she said.
"As it turns out, meditation wasn’t the path for me. What I find is CrossFit provides that. It is its own meditation. It takes me to a place where I am still, quiet and focused, but also challenged mentally.
"I feel like it’s a frontier of my emotional, physical and spiritual wellbeing. I’m constantly exploring what I'm made of and how I'll respond under pressure.
"That translates to every other aspect of my life – how I turn up to the gym, how I discipline myself with my warm-ups. That stuff keeps me safe when things go awry."
Being human isn’t easy, she said.
"It’s not like I went to AA [Alcoholics Anonymous] and everything went swimmingly from there. I’ve found life to be extremely challenging. But what I do every day, the routines and the positive habits that I’ve put into place, they carry me when times get tough."
Last Call for Alcohol
While we're on the subject of Alcoholics Anonymous, the Newcastle branch is holding an event on Monday night.
It has invited doctors, lawyers, clergy, social workers, police, ambulance, nurses and drug and alcohol workers.
The aim is to inform professionals about the organisation. It's essentially about spreading the word to let people know that, if they need help with alcohol, this is one way they can get it.
"Speakers will share their professional experience of AA in the treatment of alcohol dependence and alcoholism," a spokesperson said.
"AA is open to anyone who has a desire to stop drinking and those who need help to stop drinking.
"AA meetings help members to stay sober and can be attended free of charge, day or night."
The spokesperson said AA involves "a personal admission of powerlessness or defeat" and the development of "a new way of life through a set of spiritual principles and actions".
The organisation can attract many different kinds of alcoholics and problem drinkers.
Some members have lost everything through alcohol abuse, but others were relatively low-level drinkers.
One member of AA told us she was drinking three to six drinks on four or five nights a week.
"I kept saying, 'I think I’ve got a problem' and everyone was like, ‘no you don’t’."
She spoke to several medical professionals until she found someone who told her she was "at the bottom level of problem drinkers, but if you don’t stop you’ll end up in hospital".
"There’s a lot of people who drink at this level and they don’t realise how bad it is for them. I had no idea how much poison I was putting into my system."
The event starts at 7pm.