Owner of Self

This Sunday will make the completion of the 6th week of establishing a regular fitness routine!

It is indeed an awesome, triumphant feeling, especially after getting past week 2 and experiencing some new exercise combinations.

In addition to all of the positive physiological processes taking place within my body, there’ve been some powerful mental changes happening as well.


After completing the first month (and surpassing many workouts where I just wasn’t feeling it), I realized that at first, my main driving force to overcome the lack of motivation lied behind making this process public. However, as yang transforms into yin, my primary motivation shifted deeper – this is something I have to do for myself. No one is going to pick me up and exercise my body for me. Although other people may say, take a day off.. who’s going to wind up feeling like they’ve cheated themself? Me. And I really love the support I’m receiving from roommates as they see me heading to the gym at different times of the day, yet, what’s stronger is the love I feel towards myself when I change my clothes, tie my shoe laces, pop the DVD in and grab the weights.

Although there are some days I don’t push to my fullest potential, I still go and try to move.

Your body is yours to take care of. You spend every moment of the day with it. How do you, or are you going to take better care of it? The responsibility is up to *points finger* you.


Body Reset with “Body Revolution” – Attempt #2

Okay okay, alright alright, I understand that I was intending to begin this in March and finish around June. I could write several excuses (which are all valid), however I will admit that my biggest fault was not being well enough prepared.


My primary goal was to get back into a regular rhythm of incorporating physical activity into my routine, along with some other additional benefits that would occur by consequence.


Well, it’s still on my mind and I still want to follow through, yet this time, I’m going to approach it slightly differently.


I’d like to start off by letting you know why doing this is so important to me, and let you know why you should care 😛


In addition to re-establishing a daily exercise habit, I want to live my life with more integrity by aligning what I say with what I do, as a practitioner-in-training. Thus far in my training, one of the most important take-aways is that to truly understand how difficult it may be for our patients to make transitions in their life, we need to put ourselves through that experience (within reason). For example, one of the first steps we take as Naturopathic Doctors in approaching a food sensitivity or digestive concern that an individual presents is conducting an elimination diet whereby we encourage our patients to eliminate food groups known to stimulate food sensitivities, and after a period of time, re-introduce them in a systematic manner to see if they trigger any symptoms. Without trying the elimination diet ourselves, how can we truly appreciate the difficulty involved with finding new ways to eat food, the support needed to overcome cravings or habits, and be understanding towards the frustration from “falling off” at times?


This is why I’d like to use myself as an experiment, to see:

  • what changes will happen?
  • will I commit myself to this?
  • will I “fall off”? And most importantly
  • what are my habitual patterns and weak spots which need some strengthening?


And why should you care? Well, just as one’s journey to health is a process towards achieving an improved lifestyle, I’d like you to see mine. Maybe you’ll like my approach, my style, my strategy and want to approach improving your health in a similar manner. Maybe there are some tweaks you would make. Or maybe you won’t like the way I do my thing at all. Either way, by making myself public, I make myself accountable.


So back to the program itself, you can read about it and why I’ve chosen it to kickstart my routine HERE.


Some of the mistakes I made last time that I’d like to address this time are:


  1. Not having an appropriate workout space – I had moved to a new apartment at the time which had much more private space than the dorm I was living in prior. I had planned to use the living room to do my workouts, until the discovery of critters sharing the space with me (…they scared me right out).


  1. Not scheduling my workouts in specific time slots – I was casual with the workouts even though the DVD set comes with a schedule. I would skip workouts due to being too tired from school, or from coming home later than expected, or from sleeping in. In an effort to get back on track, I restarted the program 3 times. Yet, the farthest I completed was week 3.


  1. Being discouraged at the beginning – At the same time, I was teaching Zumba twice a week. I noticed that I experienced muscle soreness from Body Revolution that would make it uncomfortable for me to share all of my energy with my participants during my classes. In hindsight, I could have chosen to use the Zumba classes to replace the two cardio sessions in the Body Revolution program, or I could have chosen to rearrange the given calendar to work with my Zumba classes.


  4.   Plan for obstacles that are likely to happen, and find a solution before they become a barrier – These would  include:

  • What if I get sick? (Solution: Take time off to heal, and redo the previous week if needed, and include a buffer in the expected completion date)
  • What if another commitment conflicts with the scheduled workout time? (Solution: Reschedule my workout before deciding to attend to the other commitment)


Prior to the previous attempt, body statistics of weight (lbs), circumference (inches), and body fat percentage were taken. These statistics will be taken again*, in addition to statistics on food/drink intake (what and when), sleep times (lights out + out of bed), and BMI. These statistics will be for a future experiment.


Alright, let’s begin!

Before they can be frogs, they have to be tadpoles. Photo credit:http://windhorsetour.com/blog/see-my-little-frogs-pond-jinli-old-street

Before they can be frogs, they have to be tadpoles.
Photo credit:http://windhorsetour.com/blog/see-my-little-frogs-pond-jinli-old-street


Start date: September 9, 2014

End date: December 1, 2014 – December 15, 2014


Initial Circumferences (inches):

  • Bust – 35
  • Waist – 31
  • Hips – 39
  • Mid-thigh (left) – 21 (measured distance from hip bone to lateral end of knee. The mid-point between those two points was where the mid-thigh circumference measurement was taken)


*Weight and body fat percentage will be measured after the program begins, when the equipment to take those measurements is once again available

Leap of Faith?

That's right!

That’s right!

As of now I should be studying for my first of two licensing exams (ie. NPLEX I). However, I’m incredibly distracted.

And guess what it’s over…a fellow…

Sometimes people just enter your life when you didn’t expect them to because you were looking in another direction.

I’ve been giving the online dating scene a try and have since decided to take a break, but immediately before making that decision, Mr.Cool and Confident reached out to me.

Part of why I’ve chosen to put online dating to rest, at least for now, is because all of the fellows I had interacted with were at least 1 of the below:

  • seem to vanish without a trace
  • can be irresponsive although their profiles are welcoming
  • may come on way too strong
  • choose to not follow through
  • may be sketchy in terms of not being completely truthful
  • are just pursuing a hook up

It reached the point where I didn’t take anyone seriously…why waste time when you already know what the options are going to lead to?

Mr.Cool and Confident surprised me as he was super engaging, funny, and comfortable with himself. Upon meeting in person, I knew I liked him instantly. He’s in a helping profession and we even studied the same program in undergrad. My protective shield went off though because I figured it was too good to be true, and thought I wouldn’t hear from him again. To my surprise, we’ve still been in touch.

May 19th was when my “on” switch was once again ignited. Back and forth messages everyday, being shy and not knowing what to say next, excitedly awaiting the next reply, conversations flowing.

What attracted me most, moreso than his cool and confident vibes was his helpful nature. You got a problem? Here’s a solution. He became someone I looked up to.

Most memorable was when I went on a trip to the Bahamas for a few days. Mr. Cool and Confident stayed up with me the entire night right up until my flight at about 6:15 am. At that point we’d been in contact less than a month, but I was already committed to him in my mind.

Fast-forward to now, it’s become kind of confusing and the connection between us is dying. In part due to distance, working schedules, and school. I’ve had about 3 moments where I questioned the direction of the relationship, made myself way too vulnerable, was too honest, and may’ve scared him away a bit. The communication has dwindled, and I feel like I want to just cut my losses and go so I don’t keep doubting, holding on, and involuntarily investing my emotions.

August may open up more time for us, but right now it feels like forever away. The way I see it is if you really feel connected with someone, you’ll want to nurture the buds and make time. I could be more understanding, but instead my past memories of heartbreaker invade my ability to think rationally…no more of that, please. Nobody wants to be a fool, and nobody wants to wait for something that’s never going to arrive.

So, I’m distracted because I’m scared to stay, what if I’m being led on (again) because they’re too cowardly to be honest and break it off? What a waste of time and emotion that would be. On the other hand, what if that connection is genuine and has the potential to flourish when we both have time to spend together and pick up where we left off?

It's a scary feeling to not be able to decide how to feel Source: http://drakequote.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/She-doesnt-ever-worry-if-she-wants-it-shell-get-it-on-her-own.-She-knows-theres-more-to-life-and-shes-scared-of-ending-up-alone..jpg

It can be scary to not be able to navigate how to feel

Times like this, I wish I could go into robot mode and shut off the emotions and just be focused on what matters most right now…NPLEX I. Let’s give it a try, onto the endocrine system…


Body Reset with “Body Revolution”

     So, I’ll start by saying that I’ve been feeling the need to get my personal physical activity back on track for years. For my entire life as a student, I’ve had good weeks and good days, but have not been as consistent as I’d like to be. The exception would be when I was overweight through to age 15, and at 16 first started working out consistently and noticed the amazing changes taking place in my body, such as weight loss and leaner body composition (and faster metabolism to add), a lot more energy, and an increasingly positive body-image.

     Personal is a very important word here because I’ve been physically active for most of my life – always walking or taking the bus to school/work/social events, walking to get errands done, and have taught (and since restarted) teaching fitness classes. Yet, I’ve had goals I’ve wanted to achieve in my personal fitness, most important of which is creating a routine that I stick with for most days out of the year. Another goal involves seeing growth/strength in certain areas of my fitness whether it be improved flexibility, fiercer cardiovascular health, or a wider range of functional strength. It’s like my Clinical Nutrition II professor Dr. Philip Rouchotas (ie. Dr. Phil) said…”if you’re not losing or maintaining weight by exercising, you’re gaining weight.” And the same relationship goes for other aspects of fitness – if you’re not maintaining or surpassing your flexibility, functional strength, etc., you’re going to lose it.

It's now or way way later! Source: http://occuprint.org/Posters/NowIsTheTime

It’s now or way way later!
Source: http://occuprint.org/Posters/NowIsTheTime

I feel that now is a more perfect time than ever to address this and start working towards it in some way. I’ve moved into more of my own space, am more open to the efficiency of working out at home using workout DVDs, am more settled in my program, and with my turn of becoming a 1/4 of a century in age in several months, the urgency is a positive stressor to get this ball rolling.

Back in summer 2012, there was a tiny attempt at generating this regular pattern of personal physical activity and it involved attempting the 60 day program Insanity*but that proved to be too “Insane” for me at the time! Yet, I’ve come across a program that I feel is the right fit for me at this moment in time: Body Revolution**

      Unlike Insanity, this was not an impulse purchase for me. I actually developed a profound respect and admiration for Jillian Michaels (creator of Body Revolution) last summer. My female crush started in August when I volunteered at the Toronto CanFitPro conference to obtain continuing education credits to  maintain my fitness licenses, but also in the hopes of being inspired to get back into teaching fitness since my decision to retire/take a break. Luckily, my volunteering schedule allowed me to attend the opening ceremonies, of which, Jillian Michaels was the keynote. I was blown away and so inspired by her speech: her honesty about her journey and seeing who she has become and made herself into is incredible! I love her attitude, commitment to helping others and continually learning about herself, along with the way she expresses herself  – she won me over!

Through building a personal fitness library containing some of Jill’s DVDs, and through reading some of her books, and listening to her podcast, I’ve really come to admire her stance and tactics, and have a deep respect especially because she’s lived what she’s saying. I look up to her and just want to support her! That is how I came to decide upon purchasing Body Revolution and am excited to get my daily dose of Jillian 30 minutes a day, 6 days a week, for the next 3 months!

Now, in studying Naturopathic Medicine and through my previous education in fitness and nutrition, the importance of tracking baseline status, along with what is going on throughout one’s day and environment (such as what one is eating, emotionally experiencing, triggers, motivators and demotivators), are crucial for understanding where one’s starting point is. Also important is identifying how one is affecting the process of reaching their goal, what behaviours are impeding the process, and what helps that process move more smoothly.

Jillian Michaels Source:http://www.health.com/health/gallery/0,,20671046,00.html

Jillian Michaels

For the purpose of initiating this process, which will hopefully lead to a long-term habit, my main goal involves focusing on completing the workouts 6 days/week for the next 90 days. My goals at the moment are not aimed towards the specifics of calories in/calories out, however, I do intend on eating very similarly to how I currently am. I am hoping to see changes in my measurements, but am not setting any firm goals other than to complete the program and be consistent.

As a way of being accountable to myself, I’ve decided to make public my measurements, body fat metrics (based on using skinfold calipers), and pictures*** of my starting point as extra incentive to stick with this and not pull another Insanity  flop. I hope to check in several times throughout the next 90 days to talk about how this experience is feeling (especially when lacking motivation) and to post the results at the end. Please feel free to check out all of the above, below. And here’s to day 1!


Starting weight: 151.8 lb



Bust: 34.5 inches

Waist: 32 inches

Hips: 39 inches

Mid-thigh (left): 21.5 inches



Back of upper arm: 16 mm

Front of upper arm: 8.5 mm

Back below shoulder blade 15.3 mm

Side of waist: 12.3 mm

% Body fat: ~27% (calculated by adding up the measurements of all 4 locations, and cross-referenced with a chart – provided with the skin fold caliber – to the coinciding age group)

March 3 - front

Day 1 (March 3, 2014) – front view


Day 1 (March 3, 2014) – back view

Day 1 (March 3, 2014) – left side view

Day 1 (March 3, 2014) – right side view

*Disclaimer: I was not sponsored to mention nor use the Insanity workout program

**Disclaimer: I was not sponsored to mention nor use the Body Revolution workout program

***Thank you to my music soulmate for helping me by taking the pictures, body fat measurements, and for inspiring me to go out of my comfort zone to challenge my body along with initiating the cultivation of this very important new habit! I couldn’t have done it without you 🙂

Annual Identity Crises

Self-LimitationWhen I graduated in grade 8, I really believed that all of my friends back then would be my friends for life. I didn’t factor in some of us moving out of the city, or going to different high schools. And for those of us attending the same high school, I didn’t think about shifting social circles and stronger outlines forming between cliques.

All my life I was considered to be a “nice” and “smart” girl. I really liked that title. Of course sometimes I wanted to be “hot” and “cool” but other individuals already represented those traits way better than I could fake. Part of the expectation of being the “nice” and “smart” girl was being friends with most of my peers and getting straight A’s. I started accepting that was who I am and will always be.

I remember little tidbits of high school, such as doing lots of people pleasing, and being bullied by people of my own race for being a sell-out or white-washed (that is another post within itself). I was actually really stressed out in high school because I liked being who I was, but there were some elements I had that I wanted to trade – I wanted to be more laid back and “fun,” I didn’t want to stress about failing every test even though I studied hard, I didn’t want to be shy. I also really wanted to have a boyfriend because it seemed like such a big experience that I was missing out on. But what was most important to me was being liked by everyone, and being known for my intelligence.

So I graduated. I was even nominated to be Valedictorian! Then it was off to university. And when it’s a decision between York and U of T, you’ve got to maintain that image of having the utmost intelligence, so life convinced me that my fate lied within the more prestigious of the two. Once again I went through a mini-identity crisis. Here I could become anyone I want because -other than the 5 people I went to high school with – no one knew me! But still, at the pit of me, I was that “nice, smart” girl. I stressed about making friends and getting good grades. My grades fell, and my social circle from high school shrunk.

comfort zoneIn my second year of university I decided to challenge myself in different ways to extend the boundaries of my comfort zone. I joined different clubs, applied for different jobs, and was exposed to new people. I loved it, and didn’t stop until I graduated. So as my grades rose and social circle expanded, even though I still returned to being the “nice, smart” girl, I was also skilled in health and wellness, fitness, coordinating a mentorship program, hosting a radio show, being a program director of the school’s radio station, a peer counsellor for study skills, and many other things. I was multi-faceted! I even had an on/off boyfriend, I thought I was whole.

getting-out-of-your-comfort-zoneThen I graduated. And this past year has been the biggest change for me. Starting a new program which is incredibly focused, I’m with the same group of people day in, day out. At this point I don’t know if I want to be the “smart, nice” girl anymore. I don’t want to stress about failing anymore. I want to be involved like I was before but I don’t have the roomy schedule as I did before. I also didn’t want my circle to shrink again. I’ve tried re-connecting with some friends whom I mistakenly thought would be good friends forever, but with those friends, many times it was either me putting all the effort, or plans falling through. For some of us who have reconnected, there’s been an awkward, uncomfortable air around us. I’m the common denominator in all of this, so it must mean something is wrong with me, right?

Not necessarily – yes, I’ve changed, but not in a destructive way. If anything, life is making it clearer for me to feel out the relationships which are more sustainable: previous supervisors are now friends, my ex-boyfriend has become my best friend, and some friendships which tend to be tough have proven to be devoted friendships which will be able to outlast anything the future holds.

I think I’ve finally taken away what I think are supposed to be several lessons of my changing environment and relationships:

1. Do not live your life by a title and place yourself in a mould.

Instead live your life by your core values. You are allowed to change and will continue to change, but don’t stress yourself by hindering your transformation. Embrace this natural process, you’re growing and it’s called life.

2. You will encounter different types of people throughout your life.

Everyone is trying to get somewhere, and sometimes you’re meant to help someone in someway. In some instances, people will be forever grateful and never forget how you’ve helped them, whereas some people will use you and be onto the next step. Don’t expect to always be remembered though, as whenever you have helped someone, you have done a beautiful thing and are changing your life for the better, even if you do not see it immediately.

3. There are different ways that friendships begin – some stem from convenience, others stem from two hearts being in alignment.

I can say this because I’ve become friends with people and developed an immense amount of love for them and genuinely felt it in return with no question of doubt. The cliche way to explain it is being on the same wavelength. However, to balance things out, some friendships will take more effort to maintain, whereas others will seem effortless. But both can be very valuable.

4. In regards to those friendships which require extra effort, put some thought towards the ones which you’d like to continue versus the ones it may be time to end.

I have a few best friends and most of them have stuck with me through arguments and tough experiences and vice versa. We don’t always get along, but we do have a commitment of good intentions towards each other and are constantly learning to agree while being able to respectfully disagree. These are my friends that I’ll keep for the rest of my life even though they require extra patience and effort.

On the other hand, I have some friendships that I felt obligated to keep because we’ve been friends for so long, or because some are family. But when it became too much to handle and I could tell they had ill intentions towards me, it was time to pull some distance between us. That doesn’t mean the door is completely closed, but it will take time to mend and many changes need to be made to renew those friendships.

5. Just because you’re in a different place or headed in different directions, doesn’t put you above anyone. 

Some people get caught up in their achievements and ambitions, and begin to believe that others who do not have the same ambitions or haven’t achieved as much as them are lesser than them. You may be wise in one way, but someone else is wiser in another way because they put their time towards learning something that you didn’t. And just because you are on a different path does not make you “above” or unrelatable. Whether you’re the president of a school group or a young teenager who was trying to find a home in a gang and is now finding a moralistic way to live, at our most basic level we are all human.  It’s important to remain humble. Otherwise, don’t be surprised when you are unable to know when you’ve attracted the wrong company, and end up losing the company who really did care for you.

Stop Blaming McDonalds and Your Childhood

I started writing this post on June 29th, but have been avoiding writing it for awhile because once I publish it, I am accountable. It’s scary for me because it means that I’m going to have to commit to changing my lifestyle for the rest of my life. But it’s also liberating because now that I’m acknowledging what traps me in my automatic behaviours, I can finally stop blaming my lack of willpower and lack of readiness.

Since the last post I’ve been on summer vacation for a few months, and I’ll be honest, McDonald’s (along with A&W, Pizza Pizza, Tim Hortons, and others) have collectively won no less than 20 times. But it wasn’t exactly a battle all of those times. Most times it was because I was out for the whole day and didn’t pack lunch/dinner/snacks, so cheap convenience made sense. Other times, it was because I either didn’t have enough groceries, or creativity to use what I had to make something I would actually eat. Yet, there were also those times when I did plan ahead and made a recipe that seemed as though it would be delicious, but just was not palatable.

How did I even arrive here though? I really thought that way before now I’d be able to have what I eat in check, especially after starting my program to become an ND. Yet, I never really took the time to thoroughly accept where this habit came from, nor did I appreciate that it would take serious time to overcome it. Instead, I tried going cold turkey, and found myself sneaking McDonald’s meals into my room during the school year…although I bet most people could smell the pungently delicious fry odour as I passed by.

Baby-Eating-McDonalds     So where did it begin? My upbringing of course…that’s where everything begins*! I don’t remember many days when I was younger where I didn’t have junk food for dinner…no plethora of vegetables, no encouragement of drinking 8 glasses of water a day, no inclusion of physical activity aside from the mandatory (how many minutes?) in gym class. And if you sense an undertone of anger as I write this it’s because I am upset – I do wish that I was raised with better habits, because the ones which deplete my health (ie. poor eating, erratic sleeping, being stressed just because) have stuck with me, and I know that if I were raised with the reverse of these same habits, I’d be a very different woman today.

     This new year, improving my eating habits (amongst sleep, regular physical activity, and stress management), became a top priority for me. A milestone I had finally achieved since my first of many attempts in 2009 was to commit to the elimination diet for at least 3 weeks (mainly to try to identify food triggers of my migraines). I was able to do it for a month because I was not as overwhelmed with school as I had been in the semester prior, I was very self-motivated, and my intern inspired me to take ownership of my health.  Yet, midterms, familial, and relationship stress triggered the first migraine since  stripping my diet, leading me to crave exactly what I was trying to stop ingesting…you guessed it (McDonalds :P). Ever since, I’d feel guilty everytime I’d eat it, and continued to be full of excuses.

A new urgency to take action struck me on my 24th birthday this year, as though my last year before I become a quarter of a century in age (and thereby no longer a baby according to some of my older and wiser friends), are opening my eyes to my familial, genetic, cultural, and ethnic predispositions: diabetes, heart disease, stroke, neuro-muscular disorders, etc.

no-fast-food     Another widening of my eyelids took place when my honest, non-people pleasing “radical friend” called me out on my endless excuses. We were at the beaches after I had shadowed an acupuncturist for the day, and the last meal I had eaten was 7 hours earlier. My choice of nourishment to break the fast was a DELICIOUS poutine and SATISFYING milkshake from Hero Burger (omg, pure satisfaction in my mouth!). “Radical friend” made it a point to mention that I eat junk food a lot…aren’t I studying to be a Naturopathic Doctor?…who’s going to take me seriously?…if I know about the inhumane treatment of the animals and workers which occurs within the fast food industry, why do I support it? (not necessarily by eating Hero Burgers, but moreso fast food in general). The phrase that hit the spot for me is something his brother always says: “don’t TALK about it, BE about it”

Needless to say, I am a sensitive individual, so I left our evening-long conversation feeling misunderstood, unheard, and really wanted more sympathy from my dear “radical friend.” Yet, I actually called him a few days ago to thank him because that radical character, though painful at times, is strikingly honest with nothing short of good intent. And I thought about it, I don’t want to eat 1000 different cows in one burger; I don’t want to show that I condone the irresponsible, greedy motivations and consequences of the fast food industry by providing financial support and consuming it. I really do want to change for my own health, but I also hope to be another person who accepts personal responsibility.

But I also know that I can’t stop cold turkey. I’ll fill you in on my method of change in a future post 😉

*I was raised based on what my family thought was best at the time and I am grateful for their love behind their actions, yet I am at the stage in my life where  need to take responsibility for myself, and release them by acknowledging that the past has impacted my automatic decisions to this day.

Aliyo 1 : McDonalds 0

Source: http://www.empowernetwork.com/easyliving/files/2013/01/Believe-In-Yourself-2.jpg

Dear McDonalds,

Today I was working on an assignment, and it was taking much longer than it should’ve been. You know when you’re in a time crunch and spending way too much time on something that doesn’t deserve that proportion of your functionality? And you know that you should be speeding up the efficiency, but that actually just slows you down? Yeah, that happened to me today, and I was getting frustrated with myself and just wanted to enter your haven and get a McChicken with an Oreo McFlurry (with a side of those fries which will never rot and instead slow down the passage through my intestines).

But guess what – I won this time. Yeah honey, beat that, I controlled myself, ha!

Instead I…

  • listened to some empowering songs such as my favourite song since my childhood – Des’ree: You Gotta Be, and my favourite song to jam to as I imagine how long my locs will be in 5 years – Willow Smith: Whip My Hair
  • danced in front of my mirror like I was a musical sensation performing a sold out tour…it’s Aliyo b***h
  • taught a Zumba routine I used to teach as I visualized the memories of my participants who enjoyed themselves so much
  • My body felt awesome as I moved to the music, and felt the rhythms and every beat of these amazing fusions of creativity. It felt so good to stop looking at that computer screen for awhile and get my molecules of living jiving!

And after all of that activity, I decided to whip up up a snack – cucumbers,  grape tomatoes, green peppers, and dip. It was so refreshing, not just because of the water, vitamins and minerals they supplied me with, but also because I know the roughage will regulate my bowel movements, rather than give me diarrhea or painful constipation!

As I ate my Christmas-coloured snack, I wondered why I even wanted to jump into your arms and shove you in my mouth. Turns out, you and I have a long history, so it’s hard for me to resist you when you creep up on me.  In my childhood (back when your toys were actually good), “treat night” meant you, and I would get excited for your delicious treat 1-2x a week. Then, when I moved to the city where I lived for 13 years and grew up in, you always  had a location within walking distance. Your first one was literally across from my complex, but then got burned down. However, shortly after a  revamped one popped up in the exact same plaza.

And when I was working multiple jobs and cared more about saving my money than my health (lack of sleep included), you were faithfully nearby, sometimes in the building I worked in, so that I’d never have to worry about starving (well, at least psychologically, because you didn’t provide me with nutrition, that’s for sure..thanks for that by the way). And now, you’re less than a 10 minute walk from where I’m studying to become a Naturopathic Doctor. And you have to be all up in my space, situating yourself right outside of my gym, tempting me as I walk to the subway, knowing that I’m not too excited to eat that homemade meal in my fridge that I’ve already eaten 3 days in a row.

But guess what: today, I chose myself, I chose to preserve my health. And I’m very well aware you beat me over a hundred times in the past (and may catch a few in the future), but all it takes is one day to begin a change. Get that ball rolling down the mountain. And believe me, once my ball gains momentum, you will miss receiving all of the hard-earned money you lured from me, and you will be devastated when I finally get rid of your toxicity laying deep in my fat deposits which refuse to leave (grrr). And worst of all, you’ll be heart-broken from the mental hold you’ll cease to have upon me.

Spirituality Panel – Part 1

     Back in November, I attended a Panel entitled Spiritual Answers to Inspire Your Life. I had found out about it because it was hosted by a group on Meetups.comThe Spiritual Books and Films Club. I was very drawn to this group because I was interested in learning more about spirituality after being inspired by a professor I miss being taught by, Dr. Anthony Godfrey. In regards to the hosting site itself, my great friend introduced me to it a few years ago, and since then it has expanded with great groups which explore basically any interest one may have.

    My take on the panel event was that it was intended to provide attendees with spiritual teachers from different realms of practice, to help theattendees understand how to align with the universe, and be more at peace with the direction it flows. Rather than resisting the direction one’s life may take, accept it and realize that there will be a cascade in the future that isn’t visible now, but things will fall into place. Another take I gathered was that the panel was organized help us learn how to “ask” the universe for things we are interested in, through positive thoughts, affirmations, and actions. A component of that is being patient when what one asks for doesn’t manifest exactly when they want it, or in the form they expect it to be. I’m still wrapping my headaround these approaches to life, but it resonates with me, and my curiosity was what drove my interest in attending.

     The panelists were fantastic as they each brought with them a different history of experiences which led them to the path that they are currently on, and I felt united being in that room with them and others. Although I felt like a novice in the room, I didn’t feel judged, and even felt comfortable speaking to the panelists afterwards to hear more about why they wanted to speak to us and be guides on this never-ending learning path.

     Marlene George has been a a holistic healer since 1987 and is certified in Therapeutic Touch ™, Craniosacral Therapy, and is a Reiki Master. For over 10 years, Donald Currie has worked as an NGH Certified Master Hypnotist, NLP and Metaphysical Practitioner, Reiki Master, Life Between Lives and Past Life Regression facilitator. He also creates music for healing, hypnosis, and meditation! Annette Nolan also works with multiple modalities, and is certified as a Journey Practitioner and Visionary Leadership Coach for “The Journey.” Interestingly, she also owns a wellness centre -“It’s All About You” – in King City, Ontario, Canada. Brandon Krieger is a Toronto Social media Marketing Consultant, Business Coach, and Holistic Lifestyle Coach, and operates through “Community Growth” to help businesses flourish through product/service education, and social networking.

     I learned several valuable things from Annette, Brandon, Donald, and Marlene, which was also faciliated through the great questions that other attendees asked. For example, I learned about the importance of setting intentions prior to everything I do, as opposed to just chasing the day aimlessly, and having it slip through my fingers without truly thinking about the experience of each moment, along with being mindful about what is taking place around me. Pondering this thought, I had tried to begin a daily meditation practice this semester, but have since fallen off. However, I will just need to try again until doing so becomes habitual.

Source: https://fitisafeministissue.wordpress.com/category/meditation/

     Regarding meditation and mindfulness, Donald made a statement which took away some of the frustration I feel towards the difficulty I have when trying to cultivate new habits – in particular, meditation. When I was first introduced to meditation, I would think of really peaceful people sitting crosslegged -palms supine with thumb and middle fingers touching, as the back of their hands rested on their knees – as they hum “om” in unison for hours and hours. How would I ever get to the point where I could silence my mind for 30 minutes when I have trouble trying for even 5? Yet, Donald made a great point that being mindful for a portion of the day will translate to more of your day the more you practice. That even means something as simple as listening to a song – really listening to it: absorbing every component, each melody, every vocalist, each beat. I’ve tried to incorporate this into my life starting with breakfast. Instead of watching a show on Netflix, I look out the window as I eat my breakfast, or talk to my dorm mates if they’re around.

     Another concept that hit home for me was when one of the panelists mentioned that you are responsible for how you’re treated. This struck a personal cord for me because I’m also reading “A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s  Purpose” by Eckhart Tolle, and his writing so far has sparked to me the idea that deep down I seek validation to soothe my ego. This is likely why I would compare myself to others so much in university, until my last 2 years when I started to feel true self value. However, much of that self value was obtained through academic and extra-curricular accomplishments, along with being able to feel that I was unique (through being natural). Those are some parts of myself that I would like to explore further, but it was interesting to see that what the panelists were saying aligned with what I’ve been reading, and have motivated more self-discovery.

    There were other things brought up that I would like to explore more. For example, as Donald is a hypnotist, he talked about life between lives hypnotherapy, past life regression, and soul groups. If I remember correctly, life between lives is a way to access our experiences of where our souls travelled between our experiences on Earth. Of course, one would have to believe that we don’t die and disappear, but actually reincarnate in different forms, whether it is to learn something new from our surroundings, or teach others. In past life regression, during hypnosis one would actually gain access to those past travels and the lessons learned from them. As for soul groups, this would explain why you have a certain connection with people when you meet them, as though you’ve known them for a long time. With soul groups, these people that you share these connections with are people you’ve interacted with lifetimes ago. These concepts are all very new to me, so I apologize if I’m not giving them much justice right now. However, I find them intriguing, and hope to try a hypnotist session sometime this year and shed more light on the experience.

     In all, I am so happy I attended this panel! There is much more that I’ve learned and hope to share in future posts.I’d also like to thank the host of the Spiritual Books & Films Club Steve Flemming. Steve is the founder of many other clubs, and although I haven’t gotten the chance to attend many more events (because my classes end much later this semester), I’m very grateful for his excellent planning skills and passion to bring people together in a social environment that is also conducive to exploration and learning!

When I Become Pregnant, I’m Going to HypnoBirth

     In 2012, the theme of pregnancy kept going through my mind – I kept wondering about what it would be like to have babies, be a mom, be pregnant, be an aunty, and it is a goal of mine to be a yummy mummy – one day. These thoughts likely crossed my mind because a lot of my role models either became pregnant or had babies, and my mother also became pregnant with me when she was my current age. I also saw my cute baby cousins during the holidays (ages 5 and 2), and everytime they smiled and laughed, I just wanted to smother them with kisses.

Source: http://www.pantherkut.com

Mid-December, I attended a Hypnobirthing information session to learn more about what to expect when I hopefully get to experience being pregnant. Along with the theme of pregnancy in my mind was my fear of the pain associated with labour – does it really have to be that painful? Not necessarily – although the media succeeds in creating a contesting portrayal. When thinking of childbirth, many of us have been conditioned to think of screaming women, doctors yelling “push,” and women screaming “I can’t!” as they curse profanities at their partners. I never thought it could be a pleasant, focused experience.

Source: http://askinyourface.com

    The educator of the session was Alanna Sills, and her experience was heartwarming to hear about because before having her baby boy, she kept hearing the same negative experiences associated with pregnancy, but instead of just accepting those statements as the end all be all, she was proactive about having a positive experience. After completing the HypnoBirthing program and gaining peace of mind through the techniques she learned and put in action, she’s become an instructor. Alanna was so pleasant that I plan to seek her out as my HypnoBirth instructor when my time comes in the next several years.

    So what is HypnoBirthing? What I have learned is that throughout a series of modules, soon-to-be mothers (and their companions) learn how to achieve a state of deep relaxation to encourage a calm, gentle birth environment which is in tune with the natural flow of childbirth. As mentioned during the session, women internalize images of stress and pain associated with childbirth, and not only expect, but additionally recreate these same experiences for themselves. Yet, with education about what’s taking place internally during labour, coupled with relaxation techniques which assist rather than resist that process, labour isn’t as frightening.

Source: http://www.tumblr.com/tagged/pregnant%20belly

     During the evening Alanna showed us a few clips; the philosophy underlying HypnoBirthing isn’t new, but I’m shocked that this is the first time I’m hearing of it. So memorable were clips of women and their partners being extremely focused during labour, alternating their breathing techniques with the ebb and flow of labour, and utilizing different postures to use gravity advantageously in the babies’ journey down the birth canal. Most fascinating to me were that women who used what they learned in the program dilated faster, had fewer vaginal tears upon delivery, and less pain due to higher generation of endorphins.

Source: http://www.tumblr.com/tagged/pregnant%20belly

   I mentioned to a family member that I had attended this workshop because I wanted to see if she knew about it when she was pregnant over 20 years prior, but she hadn’t. I really wish she had known this as an alternative option because 2 pregnancies and 2 epidurals later, she experiences recurring back pain in the area surrounding the epidural injection point over 20 years later.

However, an interesting thing I had learned from her was that from a young age, I was always drawn to pregnancy: at the age of 5, I said that I wanted to be a doctor when I grow up (likely from early familial pressures). Then, at the age of 11, I said I wanted to become a pediatrician (more specialized physician, possibly less from familial pressures). Then I went through a phase where I wanted to be a family/marriage counsellor, but then I personally realized I would rather deliver babies because pregnant women fascinate me! Since 2008, I’ve wanted to be where I am now – studying Naturopathic Medicine – and pregnancy continues to fascinate me…those microscopic miracles! Somehow, I believe I will be incorporating healthy pregnancy into my practice, otherwise, why am I so amazed by it?

     On an ending note, there is a HypnoBirthing book that anyone can read out of self-interest, or if one would like to learn the techniques (one doesn’t need to be pregnant to benefit from deep relaxation). I was thinking of reading it, but have decided save it as a treat for when I hopefully become pregnant years from now. I think I’d appreciate reading the book much more as a supplement to attending the workshop, when I’m in that mode and state of mind. Yet, if you read it, please let me know your thoughts!

So Inspired!

It is certainly crunch time right now, but last Thursday there was an event I was so drawn to that I left the books that evening and attended that instead.

During these past few months I’ve had two instructors who have been incredibly influential in my mindset towards this program: my History and Philosophy professor – Dr.Anthony Godfrey, and my Health Psychology TA – Dr.Jodi Larry

In particular, the few lectures I’ve been privileged to have by Dr. Godfrey has opened my eyes towards higher consciousness and one’s spirituality. Also, being a student in Dr. Larry’s Psychology practical, she has shared many skills that she has learned through her personal experiences, of which I probably would not learn until much later in the game by encountering similar experiences myself. Another valuable thing I’ve learned from both of them is shifting my outlook on things – there’s so much beneath the surface, and if we approach people from a judgmental stance, we’re not going to see anything below the tip of the iceberg.

A personal endeavour I’ve taken on is to learn more about spirituality and how to become more aware of my own because I’ve seen that when people are connected with themselves and the Universe, their outlook, mindset, and perceptions of stressors are completely different from those who are less spiritually aware. Life aligns for them. A way I’ve chosen to fulfill that endeavour is to join a group with other spiritually-minded individuals, which will expose me to this realm by seeing what other people have learned, and are learning. So, last week, the group held a panel about Spirituality and Life, which felt like the perfect starting point for me.

I have so much I want to say about the panel itself, but overall, I’ve been noticing origins in shifting the way I think. Overall, I’ve been thinking more along the lines of us being here to help one another, rather than approaching life in a cut-throat, me-me-me manner that was quite adaptive for go-getters in undergrad. I’m also starting to look at the problematic relationships in my life – relationships that I do not want to end. Rather than looking at it strictly from an angle directed at me where I feel victimized and as though I’m not being treated fairly, I’m starting to think about the other person – what might be their reasons for how they’re treating me, and they may not even be aware that they’re projecting things onto me when I’m not actually the problem. At times, the way I’m treated can’t nor should be justified, but it also reminds me that I need to grow a thicker skin, learn to develop/strengthen my spiritual boundaries, and continue to be aware that the situation is not always about me.

I’m so incredibly pleased that I attended the panel, as there is quite a lot that I am starting to think about. Don’t worry, I’m not going to be selfish – I’m going to share later for sure 😉 However, part of the responsibility of being a student in gaining access to so much great information is being trusted to learn it. Although I’m growing personally, I need to catch up on my school work so I have the textbook knowledge to help me do my job correctly and effectively! I am behind, but the thoughts and ideas revealed to me in the panel helped me to realize that this experience is a lesson within itself, and I can do it! So, I’m going to use my remaining time in a wise manner, and get back to studying!

To those of you out there studying for finals and completing those last remaining assignments, all the best to you! Truck on through, you’ll feel awesome once you’re done!

Source: http://files-cdn.formspring.me/photos/20120625/n4fe8c361af565.jpg