Friday, September 1, 2017

I'm Coming Out!! -- Of the workout closet

Happy September my lovelies! So sorry I have been away from here. Summer has been a blur of writing, in fact the entire year has been. Somebody please pinch me I feel so incredibly lucky to have been working. As a writer you never know when that next job is going to come.

But I've missed you. I've missed being here and blogging and hearing what you all have been up to. I don't think I've actually posted anything since January *Gulp* do you forgive me? Are you even still here? I'm dying to know how your summer has been.

I feel as though 2017 has really spun me through a wringer. 2016 was challenging and I felt like the biggest lesson I needed to learn was surrender. You can't control everything, sometimes shit just happens, sometimes (as hokey as this sounds) the universe just knows better, and you've gotta give it up to a higher power. Yeah, well that lesson wasn't learned evidently because 2017 has been making me cry "Uncle". 

Not only was I asked to juggle two primetime shows for two different networks, there was a point that I was doing it at the same time. So it shouldn't come as a shock to learn that there have been some repercussions on my health. 

Got to feeling exceptionally worn out, as if my tank was totally out of gas. My doctor kept telling me that I was anemic and needed simply to take more iron. I was taking enough to probably kill a horse already and if I took any more, I'd likely never poop again. (iron supplements constipate you btw) Eventually I grew so weary I could no longer workout and I gained ten pounds and I looked like crap.

Long story short - I'm still in the weeds and not feeling great. But, after going to a naturopath and spending a fortune on blood tests (nearly every damned thing came back normal) I learned that I have hypothyroidism and I've fried my adrenals from stress - cortisol levels were through the roof. Hey, no wonder I wasn't sleeping and had a spare tire.

All this is to say that I could not keep up with my beloved Katia and Court at Dancebody. Oh, don't get me wrong, I still do their little shortie workouts but no dancing. I could barely climb stairs there for a while.

In case you haven't been around here even longer than me, I quite streaming and the Tracy Anderson Method at the start of the new year and committed to DB. I'd been streaming for 2 years straight and my results were in the crapper. I wasn't able to do half the workouts because of a pre-existing neck injury so was always having to modify and as a result I came to really dread working out. In June of 2016 Katia Pryce came out with her own streaming and I was in love. The music was great, she gives instruction which I definitely need, and she was teaching me to dance. But learning to dance when you are not a natural born dancer takes time, time I did not have. So I found (because I had neither time nor energy) I could only do the 12 minute classes or 20 minute classes. I love those options but I needed more. But not more intensity. I guess I just needed something different. Something I had yet to find.

I was longing for those Meta days. You feel me? Any of you know what I mean? A full body workout that doesn't kill you and doesn't consume two hours of your day? Back in the good old days of Mastering the Method, we'd do 30 minutes of sculpt and 30 (read 15) minutes of cardio and that would be that. Tight, trim, and in top form. So what's an old girl like me to do? We can't go backwards. Such is not the way of life. We have to keep moving forward, onward and upward.

Again, I'm lucky. Lucky lucky lucky. And I have genuine lovely friends, people like you all, and my beautiful buddies Melissa and Shaina who on one fateful day, reached out to me to ask how I was doing? What I was up to? And to share a new workout with me that they were loving.

CONFESSION TIME - when I first saw the workout I was like nope - no thanks. I sort of thought it was more of the same as where I had been and did not want to go back there thank you very much.

However... I love to workout. And I hadn't been because I was feeling so darn tired all the time, yet I knew if I just moved my body I'd feel better. Maybe I'd sleep better, manage my stress better, and even lose a little weight? Too much to hope for? I'm a dreamer. So, I did what the past year's lesson had taught me -- I surrendered. Everything happens for a reason right? 

So I signed up for a free 7 day trial and lordissa, you guys I'm finally home. I've found my workout sweet-spot.

It's been four weeks and I've been able to do the workouts 5-6 times a week without burning out and feeling completely sapped and unable to do anything else for the entire rest of the day (which was what was happening to me if I exerted myself too much) 

I've lost 4 pounds! And do you want to know the absolutely best part? Those dreaded over-developed obliques that I have been carrying around like a freaking muffin-top after two years of other streaming -- are shrinking! Shrinking I tell you. It's a miracle. I used to call Tracy the Muffin-Top Slayer and in Meta Abcentric she definitely was but the method has evolved into something that was no longer managing my dreaded roll. 

But this is a blog about hope. And I believe that things always have a way of working out. And workout they have. Pun intended.

Please allow me to introduce you to the amazing LOVE HANDLE HANDLER, the BOOTY BUFFER, LEG LENGTHENER, ARM SCULPTER, AB-TRIMMER - SOUL SOOTHER (because she does it all) LAUREN KLEBAN of LEKFit.

Do I want to go so far as to say she's changed my life? Um... yeah. I do. In fact fuck yeah! Okay? She's a full time mother of two - and her little babies even sometimes pop into class and she always has time for them. Everything about her is real. I love that so much. 

So why do I love her? Why has she changed my life? What makes her so special? How much time do you have? Never mind I can keep it simple. But to do that, I need to take you back in time.

I was yogi, and in my heart of hearts I still am. I lived and breathed yoga. I taught yoga for nearly ten years. But I bad neck injury prevented me from doing most conventional types of yoga because deep stretches aggravate my injury. Enter TA and her Method. I fell in love with her Mat workout because it was simple, straight forward, but oh so hard. You worked all the little muscles with supreme control. And it was a lot like yoga. Streamlined and kind of meditative. Once streaming came around, it was definitely way more fun. The energy was higher, the music was better, but it was also harder, and somehow less specific. The movements didn't have the same focussed intensity. 

Then, the past 8 months, working with Katia of Dancebody (and Mary Helen Bowers of Ballet Beautiful) gave me a new passion for ballet. And something occurred to me. Turns out - every single thing I've done up to now that I've loved has had a foundation built on either Ballet or Yoga. 

So why not both? Both indeed.

Enter LAUREN who's entire practice is built on these same foundations.

This recent quote from her IG page will tell you:Dance was always my first love and passion plus it made the most sense in my body + mind. As I began creating LEKfit, I wanted something that provided all the good vibes of yoga, beautiful lines of ballet, benefits of Pilates with an uber feminine feel (a la burlesque) so I created SCULPT.

And her classes really are all of the above. The music is smooth and groovy, the pace is uber controlled, reps are counted, instruction is given in a continuous flow so you rarely have to crane your neck to see if she's changed positions on you without telling you, the camera is close enough so you are actually able to see what she's doing. And - AND - she releases two new classes a week. On Wednesdays and Fridays. Like you actually get an email in your inbox saying Hi, come on, new workout is up, come workout with me. On Time. Every week. No excuses. Sounds radical, but isn't that what a great service provider does?

Can I get a hell yeah!

I love lots of reps. I love slow and controlled movements that make you cry uncle, I love getting prompts explaining to me what to do and why the hell you want me to do it. But that's just me - always the remedial student who needs everything to be explained.

There is no single workout that is right for everyone, but every workout is right for someone - and LEK? I am the someone that workout was made for.

OMG and I forgot to mention the best part. The best part is her cardio. It's done on a rebounder! Can you even believe it. All through Meta, I modified my cardio and always did it on the rebounder. Bye-bye modifications. So long not being able to keep up with the dances. I can now bounce, stretch, lift and sculpt my way into my best most healthy feeling self.

I know that there are a lot of people who are loyal to other programs for all their own reasons. I love loyalty. I'm a cancer. It's my jam. But you've got to be loyal to your own well being first and above all else. I felt that I needed to share this with you because it just might change the way you move, how you feel about yourself, how you feel about working out in general. Life is too short to dread any moment of your daily routine. And that daily routine makes up your life. Good habits are hard to form - just ask Gretchen Rubin, she wrote a whole book on the subject. 

Without Melissa I would have never found my way to LEK. If you're dancing to Dancebody - get it girl, if you're tamming your heart out - you go sister! I applaud you. If you dance, walk, hike, yoga, swim, run, soul cycle - whatever. Be healthy and go live your best life. As for me - I'm getting LEKFit ladies!

Loads of love and a happy autumn to all!

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Your best life in FOUR easy steps....

Hello Beautiful Reader,

Can I be honest and say that I actually giggled when I wrote the title for today's post? Your best life in FOUR easy steps. I mean come on, you've got to admit that it sounds like a tag you'd read on the cover of Prevention Magazine or Self or Women's Health. Not that there is anything at all wrong with any of those publications, on the contrary I think they often offer up useful tips. But to imagine that you can change your whole life in four steps? It's a bit wishful thinking, no? 

No. It's not. And I'm saying it's not because I am not talking about your life from the outside. I'm talking about your life from the inside.

This isn't a post to suggest that if you eat these ten foods you'll burn fat, or do these five moves and you'll get J Lo's butt. Honey, you shouldn't want J Lo's butt, you should want your own and that is the point of today's post. 

I've got a new writing gig coming up and one of the things I'm tasked with to prep for the show is reading the material that the show is based on - five novels to be exact. As I sat reading yesterday and my poor old eyes felt tired and wanted to close, I couldn't help but wish I was a faster reader, or that the light was better, or that I was more comfortable. Basically I had had it with reading and I didn't want to do it anymore. I remembered an old yoga practice for tired eyes where you rub your hands together vigorously to warm them up, then you cup your palms over your eyes. The idea is to block out all trace of light with your hands, then softly open your eyes and bathe them in the warmth and darkness. It works wonders, but as I stared into the manufactured darkness, something occurred to me, what if I were blind? If I were blind, I couldn't read at all! If I were blind, I would wish for the day I could have tired eyes from reading.

What I'm saying is that so much of our life is about perspective. Don't get me wrong, if I were a widowed mother with four little kids trying to escape the war torn city of Aleppo, it would be extremely difficult to see the bright side. My point isn't that it could always be worse, it's more that we have so much to be grateful for that we don't even realize.

One of my darling favourite readers Gia, commented on yesterday's post that she'd like to feel content this year and feel like she is enough, so my girl this post is for you. 

I could go on at length about the works of author Brene Brown because she speaks and writes so eloquently about allowing yourself to be vulnerable and accepting that you are enough...

But I just couldn't say it better than she says it herself, so please check her stuff out. She's a super hero in my books. I would also encourage you to get out your sharpies and write "I'm imperfect & I'm enough on your palm and take your own selfie. You don't have to post it, but it sure is fun.

No, instead I want to talk to you about a recent video post that Kari Samuels made about the upcoming year, 2017 - our Universal One year. Remember? I wrote in my last post how this is our magical do-over year. We get to reset things and make the next nine years our best ever and Kari had four tips on how to do that, hence the title.

I might have fudged it a bit when I said four easy steps but they are four steps none-the-less. (I will embellish as I see fit, but you can watch the whole thing for yourself Here.)

Step number 1.

You need to remind yourself  - and say this out loud - there is only one me. I have unique gifts that no one else has. Express it and act on it. Don't try to be like everyone else. 
In the wise words of Theodore Roosevelt: "Comparison is the thief of joy". You don't need J Lo's butt babe, your butt is great. And if you don't love it? Do a little Dancebody! That'll sort your bum out straight away.

Step number 2.

Prioritize your dreams. When she first said this I was like, what? Put them in order of what dream is most important? No. That isn't what she meant Shan. She meant to make your dreams a priority in your life. We do so much for everyone else, when it comes to what we want, sometimes we just run out of gas. Not this year my pretties. Make everything you do in your life support your dreams, feed your dreams and fuel yourself.

Step number 3

Practice divine selfishness. We as women especially need to learn to put ourselves first. Again, we often take care of those around us while neglecting ourselves. Teri Hatcher wrote about that in her amazing book Burnt Toast

She had this analogy that hard working moms around the world serve their families tirelessly, so how come they are always the ones who end up eating the piece of toast that got burned? It ain't right. That's always stuck with me.

If you're healthy and happy, then you can make those around you happy and keep them healthy. If you're run ragged and worn thin, how can you serve others? Short answer? You can't. So take care of you. Put yourself first.

And finally...

Step number 4.

Co-create with a positive outcome. I really like step number 4. What Kari is reminding us to do is so simple here. Focus on what you want. Many of us tend to focus on the worst case scenario and that's not a good idea. This year, it's time we all starting expecting things to work out for us. Imagine good things for yourself. You deserve the good stuff this life has to offer and if it really is true that the intentions we set now are going to pave a path for the next nine years, why not look a little on the bright side for a change. What do you say?

Let's step joyfully into this new year my friends. It can only do us good.

Big hugs,

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Happy New Year

Good morning and Happy New Year!

How was your holiday? Did you ring in the new year last night with boisterous bluster or quiet contemplation? Whatever you did, I hope you took a moment to bid 2016 farewell and thank her for all of the lessons she taught you - or in my case forced upon me, the unrelenting battle-ax! 

I am fond of new years because I am a lover of clean slates and fresh lists. Add to that, that the new year falls on a Sunday, I get the joy of a new day, new week, new month and a new year. Tres exciting. 

Are you a resolution maker? Have you made any resolutions? I virtually know nothing about astrology or numerology, however I do enjoy reading about all that stuff and I'm told that 2017 is a Universal 1 year. This is what I've read:

January 1, 2017 marks the first day of the first month of the first year of a new cycle that ends in 2025, 9 years from now, 2017 is a Universal 1 year, where we plant the seeds of intention for the forthcoming year, and the entire 9-year cycle. January 1 - today - marks the 1:1:1 Star Gate, downloading us with new energies, opening the Lightdoor to new possibilities limited only by our preconceptions or beliefs. There will be other triple-1 gates on January 10th and 19th, but the first downloads will be the purest.

I love that! I have no idea what it means but it makes me feel as though I am walking through a field of rich and endless possibilities. We each have the opportunity to take a moment today and consider this question -- "What do I really want?". Think about that. Think about the past nine years. Can you remember 9 years ago? 2007. Where were you? Who were you with? What were you doing? Do you remember what you wanted back then? You set yourself up for the nine years that followed. I don't know about you, but I think I might have fucked some stuff up because the last nine years were pretty tough. Good, yes but hard. And today is like one big magical and cosmic do-over!! Oh goodie!!!

Quite honestly I don't remember all that much about 2007 other than I packed up my beloved and my cat (who is no longer with us, miss that guy so much) and everything I owned in the world and headed West. No joke. We drove across the whole of Canada from Toronto all the way out to Vancouver Island where we lived for 4 years before moving slowly back east - with a three year pit stop in Vancouver, before coming back to Toronto, where I am currently writing to you from. Talk about full circle. Literally. That's pretty interesting. So maybe this truly is a do-over. I am back where I started.

The horoscope I was reading and quoting above goes on to say:

Beyond making the usual New Year's resolutions, this year we infuse love and intention into our deepest heartfelt desires, dreams, and vision for every area of our lives. Once these intentions are set, we release any preconceived ideas, beliefs, attachments, or attempts at understanding, allowing the universe to bring forth what wants to be expressed. It is no coincidence that the year begins with Mercury retrograding through Capricorn. We are not meant to bring our minds into this process. This is the time to plant the seeds of co-creating with the universe what we truly want for ourselves and the world we want to live in, coming from the heart. We go forward without expectation or attachment, trusting in the universe and our Higher Selves (which is the same thing) spreading seeds of love and peace.

So I'll ask you again, have you got any resolutions for the new year? If your answer is no, perhaps you might want to put forth an intention or two of what you'd like to see yourself or your world become in 2017 and beyond. I know there is a kick-ass handstand in your future Myla! You go girl.

Carl Jung says: Your vision will become clear only when you look into your heart. Who looks outside dreams, who looks inside awakens. How great is that?

Why not take a moment right now. You're not doing anything anyway other than reading my blog, so make yourself a cup of tea or some warm comforting soup and reflect. Think back over the last nine years and ask, if there was something I could do differently, something I could improve upon, something I could nurture within myself, what might that be?

Generally I need only look to the side of this page and review my Shamandments and I get set back on course. Or if I peruse the many virtues that I have chosen over the months and years of writing a blog, there are so many lovely things I could focus on and cultivate. But always, the most important thing is authenticity and being who I am. 

But I don't always know who that is. My identity often gets tangled up in the activities I pursue. For example yoga. For a very long time, I was a yoga teacher so that became an identity or the fact that I am a writer is part of my identity but are those things who I am? Not really. A neck injury took away my yoga practice and therefore I no longer teach. Do I still practice facets of yoga like ahimsa or meditation or pranayama - yes, but is that who I am? Not really.

In 2010 I started working with the Tracy Anderson Method and in fact it was how I started to write a blog because I had wanted to be accountable to myself by working out daily. Then that morphed into some kind of identity. But is that who I am? No it is not.

For more than a decade, I have written feature film screenplays and made a couple of short films and a feature film called Empire of Dirt, so I considered myself a filmmaker. Yet I have spent the better part of last year writing television so does that mean I am no longer a filmmaker? No, it just means I am more than that. We are more than the labels we get attached to.

I for one am happy to sit down and create a list (fond of lists remember?) and take stock of not only what I want to challenge myself with in this new year, but also be conscious of what no longer serves me and be mindful of not bringing those attitudes or behaviours with me into this next nine year cycle. This is truly a time for wrapping up, giving yourself a tidy-up or an inventory taking. Not the most eloquent  way to say that but you know what I mean. Like Jung says -- look within. What's working, what's not.

Someone who has done a spectacular job of that this year has been my friend Karen. You might know her from IG as peacefullwillow, she has culled all the crap from her life, become transparently honest and is following her own true North! Karen, you inspire me daily and I love you so much.

In charting my course for this new year and this next nine-year cycle I've had to get really honest about some things. For one, I have decided to stop saying yes to everything. I can actually be more selective about the types of projects I take on, but more importantly about the people I choose to work with. Life is too short to work with passive aggressive or hateful meanies. And two, I need to value my time and my skills more. This year I am taking a leap of faith and am saying to the Universe - I believe in me, I believe I can make a living off of my writing - so I have officially let go of my part time job. Yikes! Next Saturday will be my last shift. And with that in mind, it's time to be more frugal with my budget. What can I afford, what can I not afford, and what can I not afford to be without?  These are some hard questions as I have never been good at budgeting. But... and here it is, this is going to be the record scratch moment, the moment where you'll hear a pin drop - I have elected to not continue streaming with TA.

The God's honest truth is that for quite some time, I have not been connecting with the work. Friday was my two year anniversary and instead of growing into the work (which I had hoped would happen) I have grown away from it. I don't know how much I have shared with you about my heart over the past 18 or so months but I have some unusual (but benign so not to worry) arrhythmia so extreme heat or too much cardio make my heart go wackadoodle. If I get exhausted or don't eat properly my heart goes wackadoodle. If I'm stressed? You guessed it wackadoodle heart. So I have had to step back from the master classes and just do the beginners class, but I wasn't seeing the results I had gotten used to with Tracy from Meta and Continuity - plus looking at my budget - well it just no longer makes sense to spend so much money on something I no longer love.

The weird thing is that I know a lot of people are going to take issue with that. And that's what doesn't sit well with me. I have just never been much of a joiner. When I started blogging back in the day, many like-minded readers, who have since become friends, came and hung out and we shared a few laughs and our relationship grew. But as we grew, so did social media and so did the Tracy Anderson Community and whether it outgrew me or I outgrew it, there was no longer a fit. Don't get me wrong. I love and adore all my girls whom I have connected with and grown with and learned so much from - look at Karen who I spoke of above. Would not have met her if it hadn't been for Tracy and Instagram. I am so grateful. But at the same time, I am ready for my fresh new nine-year cycle.

Oh I still workout out. Moving my body has been a religion for me for as far back as I can remember - doing Yoga or Jane Fonda workouts with my mom when I was a wee kid, to track & field in elementary school, running through my teens and twenties - I have always moved my body and will continue to do so.

I love and am inspired by so many of the beautiful women who post their workouts every day - NadineKarenEmeryJenneEliseGillian, or Emily the list goes on and on, but I am not now, nor have I ever been a poster of my workouts. When I started writing about my workouts I did post some body shots to see and to share my progress. It helped me grow into being physically accountable for moving my body and the fuel I gave myself, but I never wanted to be known for my physique. I might be part of that world but I am not of that world if that makes sense??

I did not take this photo - I just love it

New nine year cycle - I want to be known for my voice, for my vision, and for what I can add to my community. This body will age and pass on, it's a shell, it is not my identity. It is not who I am. See what I did just there, I circled back to the theme of this very long-winded new years day post.

So to quote fitness guru Tony Horton - what's the tip of the day? Today's tip is that you, I, me, we, are not any one thing. Our identity should not need to be tied to any single one thing either. 

I have been sugar free for over nine months. Yay me! In February I will be a year gluten free - I can finally say with some conviction that I have achieved the balance in my diet that I had so desperately sought through my years of blogging and watching my metabolism crap out with age.

It's my intention to stand in my own space, do my own thing, use my voice in productive and uplifting ways so as to bring some light and levity into the world around me. I want to once again believe in magic and dwell in possibility.
So the virtue for January as it has been for various months in the last year and half is BELIEVE. Believe in myself, in the power of friendships, believe in love and in magic and all things good.

A very happy and blessed 2017 to all of you!