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Health & Fitness

Your Neighbor/Fitness Star

We can see why Women’s Health was as taken with Darcy Wion as we were. This month, the Upper Arlington native will find out whether she made the magazine’s cover as potential winner of the fifth annual Next Fitness Star competition. In the meanwhile, we focused a local lens on the System of Strength trainer and [...]
Jeni Ruisch



We can see why Women’s Health was as taken with Darcy Wion as we were.

This month, the Upper Arlington native will find out whether she made the magazine’s cover as potential winner of the fifth annual Next Fitness Star competition. In the meanwhile, we focused a local lens on the System of Strength trainer and how she channeled a lymphoma diagnosis into a new career path—one centered on fitness of self and of community.

Six years past her initial diagnosis, the 30-year-old has had learn how to be patient with her body, according to her contest submission,  inspired to become a trainer by battling the physical and mental hurdles that were out of her control. “Working out is about enduring discomfort,” she told Women’s Health. “I fully believe that if you can survive the struggle in the gym, you’ll be stronger outside of it too.

What does the week look like for you in workouts?

I believe cardio, strength, stretch, and recovery are four pieces of what you need in a week so without one of those you aren’t going to get your body everything you need and so I think that’s a unique approach to how some trainers look at it. They may specialize in the spinning aspect, the strength aspect and they kind of saddle themselves into that. I think it’s all of those that you need, so incorporating the high intensity training to get your heart rate up, and then the strength to build your muscles, the toning to work those smaller muscles, and then the recovery yoga to really stretch your body out and recover from a week’s worth of hard work. In any given week I’ll be doing all of those.

What does your diet look like? And other aspects of wellness for you besides working out?

I will say the other fifth piece of that is nutrition. I truly believe you can put in hours and hours in here but if you go home and you eat bad it’s going to reflect what you look like. I mean 98% of how you look and how your body changes and what you’re able to do when you work out is because of what you eat, and I really believe that. Lots of times I think people struggle and that’s the missing piece. They feel like they’re doing so much and everything right and they just don’t have that in line, and so food wise: proteins, fruits, veggies, whole grains. I really move toward eating 3 meals a day versus snacking just because if you keep busy and truly eat solid meal, you’re not really hungry. Sometimes people do five smaller meals a day, it just depends on what works with your schedule.

Everyone in this issue keeps saying that same thing: You can work out all day long but if you don’t have a balanced diet it’s not going to do anything for you…

You can’t out-train a bad diet. Everything is about balance. Like, I love donuts and every Sunday I eat donuts and don’t workout. That’s what I look forward to all week and I can do that because I know it’s coming. I don’t believe in any sort of super restrictive diet because that’s not manageable long term. I think it gives you the results quickly but then you can fall out of it very quickly, too.

You mention “deposits” and “withdrawals.” Can you explain that?

We set it up as think of your body as a bank. So, everything good I do, I’m putting in deposits and getting myself in the green and everything else is stuff I withdraw and take out from the bank. Our program sets up as you get two withdrawals a week—whether that’s two drinking nights or whether that’s two cheeseburgers and then a cupcake and then the rest of the week you’re following your proteins, veggies, fruits, grains. Those are kind of free-range for the most part.

Were you really active growing up?

I think a lot of where my mindset comes from is from my family. I was raised in an active family where we went on walks instead of watching TV. I could probably count the number of times we ate McDonald’s on one hand. My mom is the athletic director at the high school I went to and my dad was a college athlete, so it’s kind of just our mindset. I was a swimmer in high school and then going into college I just kind of kept those habits with me, incorporating fitness into my life, eating healthy. It always was something I get to do and not something I necessarily have to do.

So part of your story is you talking about your diagnosis… when did that happen?

I was 23 when I was diagnosed, so that was right after college. I had been talking about liking to eat healthy my senior year. I stopped and gained a little bit of weight and then after college I was increasing my workouts trying to lose the weight, started to eat really clean—low-grain diets—so I kept attributing all these symptoms such as fatigue and headaches to working out harder. Since I was working out harder, it was probably okay that I was tired. I was experiencing some blackouts. So after like three or four months of that I was in a spinning class and I truly blacked out—almost fell off the bike—so I left early, which is something I never do and I called my mom crying and said something is wrong for real… We went to the doctor, did a chest x-ray and I guess in terms of having lymphoma I was diagnosed and pretty much from there everything was a blur.

How did your diagnosis play into your current career path as a trainer?

I looked at why I put off going to the doctor for so long—I was [working out] because I hated my body, because I wanted to lose weight. I was doing it for the wrong reasons. I’ve grown up my entire life doing it because I liked it—because I wanted to do it.

Now, I want to portray in every class to live a fit lifestyle because we love our bodies—not because we hate them. [Think about] how much more this life has to give than a number on a scale and how you look in a dress. The second you stop worrying about those things—when you incorporate this into your life—the endorphins you release, the toxins in your mind … I mean this can become your sanctuary.

I can imagine that sanctuary being extra important when you’re also battling a potentially fatal disease.

Maybe it’s the only time you get to yourself—that 60 minutes to workout. Just tune into yourself. It’s not selfish. Going through chemotherapy and radiation, I was frustrated because I was at a really good point physically and trying to work out more and eat healthy and lose the weight I gained. So I felt like I was getting stronger and then to experience having to go through chemo and radiation and not being physically able to do things, it was very hard during that time for me to not be hard on myself. When I went to workout and I was super breathless; the radiation made it so I couldn’t hold weights; the chemo in my veins, totally messed up my grips. When I was really going through it, it hurt to touch. Now, I know one more burpee or 10 more seconds in a plank—all of that is manageable because I’ve been at the point where physically I couldn’t.

If you could speak to the average reader, who isn’t extremely fitness-minded, what would you say to them?

The majority of people want to [work out] but don’t know where to start. This life of fitness is for everyone, no matter age, modifications needed, or where you are in your fitness journey. If you’re starting or you’ve been in it for 10 years and you’re looking for a change, I truly believe it’s for everybody. Even if something like System of Strength is intimidating to you, go out and find anything that may be physical, just to get your feet wet. Columbus, in general, has become such an amazing fitness community. I mean there are studios popping up everywhere and so I feel like just getting out there and trying a couple things— a cycling class, all the Metroparks do free yoga—there’s so many options just to do things for free to see what you like and what you don’t like. The story I wanted to tell through Women’s Health was “What’s Your Why?” In general, I just want to be a motivation or inspiration for people that are going through or may go through a struggle. Unfortunately, struggling is part of our journey and it’s really what you make of it and how you come out stronger on the other side. This is the only body that you’re given and if you’re not making the most of it—you’re not going to be able to help anyone else with what they’re going through.

Voting for Next Fitness Star ends 8.4, with finalists will gather for a winning announcement on The Insider 8.22. For more, visit

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Health & Fitness

Truth or Trend: Pregnancy Fit Tea

Becca Kirian RD, LD, CNSC



We don’t have to be a woman to know that pregnancy can be difficult time, so a tea that helps with the nausea and discomfort seems like a great idea, right?


While many herbal teas are safe for the general public and pregnant women, there are some concerns.

First, some of the “beneficial” ingredients in the Flat Tummy tea above are not supported by any real evidence, let alone by information stating that they are safe to consume while pregnant. One of those ingredients is Rooibos (asparlathus linearis), which is touted as a “digestive aid” for pregnant women. However, this claim is not corroborated by a single study on The U.S. National Library of Medicine’s PubMed database.

Ginger is yet another ingredient present in the tea that has not been proven undeniably healthy for pregnant woman.


“Although several studies have found no evidence of harm from taking ginger during pregnancy, it’s uncertain whether ginger is always safe for pregnant women,” according to the National Institutes of Health.

Not only is ginger a questionable ingredient for a child-bearing woman to consume, the Flat Tummy tea fails to specify exactly how much ginger was used to make it.

Take Away: Please do not fall for the schemes of these “Fit Teas.” If you are pregnant, please be cautious of all ingredients you put in your body and discuss with your healthcare provider before starting any supplementations.

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Health & Fitness

Medical marijuana arrives in Columbus next week

Mike Thomas



Got your card? Terrasana – central Ohio’s first dispensary for medical marijuana – will open to patients in Ohio’s medical marijuana program this Tuesday, March 26th.

The dispensary which also has plans for locations in Cleveland, Fremont, and Springfield Ohio will open at 656 Grandview Avenue.


According to the company’s website, Terrasana’s goal is to connect high quality cannabis to patients in need with a doctor-driven approach focused on education.

Prices for the dispensary’s products start at 40 dollars per unit, though it’s unclear what that equates to in quantity or dose at this time.

Will you line up to be a day-one patient in Columbus’ growing MMJ scene? Let us know your thoughts in the comments

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Health & Fitness

Float, flow, stretch, and breathe toward a healthier you




Being the best possible you is about more than just eating healthy and working out. It’s about mind, body, and spiritual fitness as well. Fortunately the city is home to a bevy of experts, practitioners, and spas to help you find your bliss and be the best possible you.

1. Tune Everything Out

Floatation therapy uses a pool of approximately 10 inches of heavily infused epsom salt water as a form of pseudo sensory deprivation to help you achieve complete peacefulness. The idea is to use floating to achieve the same state of mind as right before you fall asleep at night where your mind is at ease and your body has fully relaxed. You’re encouraged to focus on your breathing and meditate. For a fully immersive experience, float tanks can be encapsulated. Drifting away in an hour-long session, users have reported feeling calmer, getting a better night’s sleep, and feeling more in tune with their mind and body.

Check out: Ebb & Float,  |  True Rest Float Spa,

2. Manage Pain

Acupuncture is a form of Chinese medicine in which sterile needles are placed on “meridians,” or lines of energy running along the body which correspond to organ systems. Acupuncture is used to treat a variety of conditions and provide pain relief, possibly by competing with pain signals to the brain. Cupping can be used as a complementary therapy to acupuncture and offers some effects of deep tissue massages by placing glass cups (often on the back) to create suction and increase blood flow, augmenting other benefits of acupressure practices. 

Check out: Urban Acupuncture Center, |12 Meridians Acupuncture,


3. Release Tension, Stretch, and Increase Flexibility

Thai yoga, also referred to as Thai body work, is not your traditional take on massages. Instead of lying still while a massage therapist works on your body, Thai yoga has specialists that move, stretch, and position your body in a multitude of positions to best help your troubled areas, which could be great for people who struggle with lower back pain or stress-caused conditions. The theory behind Thai yoga goes back to Ayurveda medicine, developed in India, where the practice was based on a balance of mind, body, and spirit through energies in the body. Thai yoga hopes to channel these energies through massage, compression, and stretching and allow them to flow more freely. The practice features various techniques dependent on how your body is feeling that day; this could mean the use of oils, or the use of voice with mantras. Beyond a more well-stretched and massaged feeling afterwards, many users said they feel rejuvenated mentally and spiritually. 

Check out: Jai Center For Wellness, |Reden Yoga,

4. Breathe Better

Halotherapy is the therapeutic use of a room lined from ceiling to floor in large crystal salt to simulate the cool but dry atmosphere of a natural salt cave. A device (appropriately named the halogenerator) smashes salt into microscopic pieces, allowing them to be released in the air through ventilation systems.

In 45-minute sessions, users can relax and breathe in the salty air, which has been claimed to potentially alleviate breathing issues such as asthma or allergies. Additionally, the calm, quiet, and dark rooms are perfect for a moment of mediation. The salt has been also said to help with skin bacteria and impurities, similar to popular mud masks made with minerals from the Dead Sea.

Check out: Tranquility Salt Cave, |Philosophi Salon and Salt Spa,

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