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:

It’s now or way way later!

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:,,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.

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.


     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.


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.


    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.


     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.


   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!

I’m Really Glad We Had Those Times

Finally feeling like a butterly emerging from its cocoon regarding heartbreaker

After not hearing from heartbreaker for over 7 months, I received an email from him.

I’m not sure of what to think, or feel.

For months I continually reached out to him to try to attain consolation that he didn’t leave my life for good. And just when I was honestly becoming okay as I prepare for my next phase of life without him, he emails me.

I’ve allowed myself delve into pass memories with a positive rememberance, but not so far deep that I feel the need to do anything to recreate them.

Big Carrot:

Early in our relationship, back when I didn’t know anything about red flags, heartbreaker had drunk called me at 2am. He asked me to spend the day with him because he wasn’t feeling well. We had been seeing each other for a few months at that time, so I was elated to be his nurse.

He left his key outside his door so I could let myself in. I came early that morning, brought him breakfast. We walked to Greektown and spent some time at the Big Carrot, looking at healthy body products and foods. Then he bought us this awesome lunch – healthy and delicious!

That night we cooked salmon, and I had my first ever glass of wine. I remember he had said that when we become established in our fields and attend fancy events, we’ll need to know the true way of drinking wine. Well, whatever he said was along those lines.

That was the day I actually started thinking I wanted to be with him forever (…yes, I was so naive still).

Nights spent awake together:

I’ve always been a night owl, and for those 3 years with heartbreaker, I’ve probably aged to 3x my actual age. A lot of sleep was lost when I was with him, or when I was up trying to reach him, or just stressing over him.

Yet, I would not trade my memories of the nights we spent awake together as that time invested was peak time for amazing conversations. We talked about everything imaginable, and really opened up to each other. That is what I miss the most about him.

There are many other memories accumulated over that time, but I feel guilty that my last post was so so long, so I`ll spare all those details. In summary, I’m really fond of those memories and glad that I experienced them. The feelings I endure when I reflect urge me to invest my time and attention in that way to others in my life who likely will not leave my side.

I do miss heartbreaker – I miss those awesome times together, and as they are so vivid now, years later, they will continue to be part of me. Although this is going to sound tragic, it’s something I’ve thought for a long time before I received an email from heartbreaker: it would’ve been easier for me to forge closure by imagining that he had passed away, and in his honour, I’d remember the best times and what he taught me.

When I met heartbreaker, I was lost in the sense that I didn’t know myself very well, nor how to protect myself, nor how I deserved to be treated. During the time he was in my life, I was desperate for his attention and his approval. He held a lot of power over me – I gave that power to him, and I didn’t even know how.

I always wanted to look nice for him, have my hair done for him, work out and be healthy for him. Everything was for him! I wanted to accomplish things so he’d be impressed with me, so I could inspire him and so he’d want to be with me and only me. Now I’m interested in improving myself for me, not him.

I’m still not sure of how to feel upon receiving heartbreaker’s email. It basically stated he went home, and he thought he told me prior to leaving (which he did not…he just disappeared). He’s sorry for the emotional panic he has put me through, and he hopes to catch up sometime. For once I may’ve regained my power when I thought I had lost it forever. For once I am genuinely interested in improving myself for me, not heartbreaker.

After close to 8 months, it’s really going to take more than a 3 paragraph, basic, undetailed email for me to step closer to the enemy – because despite our good memories, what he has done has led him to become my enemy. For the first time since this spiderweb became interwoven, I am not masochistic enough to get trapped without it being worthwhile. I’m not going to pressure myself to reply to him, as he doesn’t know the half of it.

Give Me My Money

Earning and saving money have always been interesting processes to me. When I was 15, I started my first paper route, as my sister from another mister got me a job with delivering the Sunday Sun around my neighbourhood. I have been fortunate to be working ever since, albeit different jobs, different roles and responsibilities.


When I decided I wanted to further my career and education, I first learned that ever so expensive price of tuition and incidental fees (which just keep increasing…). That’s when I was introduced to OSAP, and savings and investment options. Luckily my winter and summer before university, I earned enough as a cashier at Wal-Mart to pay for my first year’s tuition on my own, so was advised to put the usused OSAP funds into a TFSA until I needed them.

I thought TFSA’s were amazing! However, I didn’t read the fine-print. After withdrawing from my TFSA multiple times, I had forgotten that the space in that savings account was no longer available to me until the next year, after which my contribution room would increase by $5000, in addition to the space taken up from my withdrawals.

Long story short, that tax year I had to pay a hefty tax fee just shy of $500, because I overcontributed. I was infuriated…come on, I’m a student, and shouldn’t the bank have emphasized these things to me when I opened my account, or even when I’d come in to make cash withdrawals? These were the questions I asked the Canadian Revenue Agency (CRA), and submitted a formal letter stating these arguments. But the response I received – sorry, but no.

Needless to say, I was quite upset – I was mad at the government for not forgiving my ignorance, my bank for not looking out for me, and myself for relying so much on these institutions. I thought the TFSA was too good to be true – but it’s actually not, if you follow the rules.


After that experience, I’ve become more skeptical about where my money is going, especially during the tax season. Curiosity fuels education, and throughout my search I came across an amazing resource – the CRA’s website! The website on its own has a plethora of information, I really wish I had accessed it before! The link that is attached brings you to a free course where you can learn about taxes – awesome! I took the course, which includes 4  modules touching upon the topics of why we need to submit income taxes, consequences of not doing so, history of taxes, and of course, how to submit your taxes on your own along with support along the way. To add, throughout the module there are direct links for other sections of their website that may be of interest to you.

That being said, I plan to submit my taxes by NETfile for the 2012 tax year – before April 30th of course! I’m a DIYer at heart, and now that I have some understanding of the process, would much rather do it myself. I’m also trying to convince my parents to let me do theirs (for free!) so that they can save their money, and hopefully become inspired to do it themselves in 2013.

As I said before, money has always been interesting to me. If I wasn’t more interested in health, and intimidated by the corporate world, I may’ve primarily studied business. However, last year I learned about tax school that’s offered through H&R block every fall. I was ready to sign up last year, but with my last year of university, and a few part-time jobs, my plate was full. If I wasn’t starting professional studies this fall, I would’ve signed up in a heart beat! Even if I’m not able to take the course anytime soon, I do plan to look more into volunteer opportunities for those who aren’t able to prepare their income tax and benefit returns on their own, as this is something that is really interesting!

Step Two

With everything in life, we have to take the first step,  mentally and actively. Before that first step, we may experience excitement, hesitation, and/or anxiety. These feelings may intensify, or change after we’ve allowed our heels to roll to the balls of our feet. With every step, we evaluate how we felt with the steps we took prior, and consider which directions our next steps will lead if we move ahead, and at what pace we feel comfortable.


Last week I took my second step within my yoga teaching journey. Back in May, I took my first step by participating in the class portion of my level one yoga certification, and decided to chill for a bit, as I wasn’t sure that I was interested in pursuing the teaching journey any further. However, upon stewing for a bit this summer, coupled with an encounter with an awesome yogi, I’ve acknowledged my deep yearning to be an influential, multi-dimensional instructor. I also have to accept that will be a challenging journey, that will test my commitment, willingness to learn and to be persistent.

In order to complete my level one YogaFit certification, I must complete 8 hours of voluntary teaching to a group of individuals who otherwise would be unlikely to experience the benefits yoga can provide. After feeling overwhelmed from the training, I perceived my requirement as a positive challenge along my journey. As I rationally thought about what is stressing me out, I’ve decided to take a systematic approach towards addressing my roadblock:

My fear of teaching –> not completing certification = wasted money, wasted time, and future regret

The main components of my fear = participants not liking my teaching style, and that I will be viewed as a moronic instructor

To address my fear of participants not valuing my teaching style, I have adopted a new attitude:

  • I will aim to always be professional, respectful, positive, have a sense of humour and make efforts in life to practice my teachings
  • I’m not aiming to change myself to fit a perfect “teacher mould” as participants have different preferences, which may’ve been stemmed from instructors seen on TV, online, or from participating in other classes they really enjoyed. I hope to offer something positive in addition to that.

To address my fear that I will seem I’m lacking in knowledge, I have accepted that I am not flawless, nor will I ever be perfect:

  • I plan to be as prepared as possible by practicing and knowing the routines I make, and consider modifications along with possible questions.  Also, I’m going to be honest with my particpants from the beginning to inform them that I am a student as well, and welcome any questions as finding the answers will also help me to grow as an instructor.

In addition to talking my talk, I took action and walked by contacting an agency that would host me, and starting to devote time towards learning the yoga poses. To add, one of the perks of my current part time job is free access to fitness classes (so awesome!). I’ve met a yoga instructor who embodies yoga, and plan to attend a scheduled class that I can commit to for 6 weeks.

I currently feel that the second step is harder than the first, because it means you’ve committed yourself to keep pushing through ….like at the end of run, you’ve got to push yourself!

Jill of All Trades; Master of None

Yesterday and the day prior I attended the first annual Holistic Mental Health Conference: Pathways to Empowerment, which was hosted by my future school, CCNM. I originally signed up because I figured it would get me excited for beginning studies in September, and I was geniunely interested in many of the workshops. However, I didn’t imagine how inspired I would leave!

We are at a state and time in our society where the field of Naturopathic medicine and holistic health is blooming and becoming more accepted. At this conference, the focus was on finding relief for mental health issues, which was very relatable to my undergrad majors, Health Studies and Psychology. I thought that a lot of the information would be comprised of things I’ve heard and learned before, but I was quite impressed that the information was delivered in such a digestible and practical manner.

I aim to speak about the workshops I specifically attended in a future post, but overall, my inspiration flame has been reignited, and self-reflection is taking place once again.

In this blog I never felt the need to address my educational background because I didn’t, and don’t want readers to get the vibe that I’m boosting myself, especially since there are so few articles to truly understand my electronic voice. Yet, I’ve always been open to seeing what direction(s) this blog directs itself, and naturally as of now, it’s a place for me to reflect upon my experiences. I also hope that it will become a place where people feel they can relate, and are comfortable providing their respectable input, as the Internet is a way for us to interact on a worldwide scale!

However, I digress. Along with emerging from the conference feeling empowered and excited about all the ways I will be able to enforce positive change in lacking areas, along with contribute to ongoing positive efforts, I also felt kind of useless. You see, beginning in 2009, I have begun to accumulate muliple fitness certifications as I’m certified in the following ways: fitness instructor, personal trainer, nutritional wellness specialist, zumba instructor, and yoga instructor.

For those who have an appreciation of linguistics, accumulated is not a good word to describe becoming more educated since it lacks the feeling of passion. Yet, before and immediately after achieving each certification, I was incredibly inspired to learn more about becoming great in my role, and about how to integrate all of the knowledge gained from other certifications to provide my clients and participants with a phenomenal experience.

Regarding my numerous certifications, yesterday and for a long time before, I felt like I wasted my money (and should have instead put it towards paying down my students loans). And I feel that way because I’m not tapping into my potential…I’m too scared that people will have incredibly high expectations of me, and that ill first impressions will never change, but instead will diffuse to others. In an effort to gain some more practical experience to help me grow and gain confidence in my abilities as a personal trainer, I’ve done a few personal training shadowing sessions at different gyms. Instead, I felt overwhelmed. But, after this conference, I started thinking in a different way.

In particular, I attended a session about Yoga and Trauma, facilitated by Farah Jindhani and Guru Fatha Singh Khalsa. In the past I read about the calming effects of yoga, and was so uplifted by what I read that I decided to complete the classroom portion of a level 1 training with Yogafit Canada this past May. Yet, from then and now, I haven’t looked through the book to teach myself the poses, nor have I attended a yoga class at my gym, or made any efforts to voluntarily teach 8 hours of yoga to complete my certification. I’ve had intentions to do all of the above, but I haven’t followed through because I’m de-motivated, scared that I’m going to do a horrible job, and am just starting to see myself as a lazy, excuse-making blob.

As I delve into my reflective process, I’m remembering that working hard to obtain a certification is only the beginning, then comes the real work of staying up-to-date on the everchanging information, and practicing what you preach to your clients – so that you are both an internal and external representation. Having these certifications is a priviledge and a source of future potential, but it doesn’t guarantee that I will genuinely be respected. For example, I’ve been teaching fitness classes since 2010, but I still get nervous that participants won’t enjoy my classes. In fact, my confidence shattered more upon hearing a changeroom conversation referring to me, stating that my class was too easy, and that the participant is more fit than I am, and would teach a better class without even being certified. But as the saying goes, let your haters be your motivators. So, in conjuction withmy internal motivation, I will do just that. I will be posting my goals and plan of action on this blog, to make it official, and hopefully be connected with others who can relate, either directly in indirectly.

Learning to swim

I started swimming lessons a month and a half ago, and there were several driving factors which led me to jump from the diving board (well actually, I’m still in the shallow end, but that was meant to be a witty metaphor).

1. I’m graduating from university…I’ve gotta do something extravagant!
2. I’m going to be 23 in a few days. My original deadline to learn to swim was 5 years ago…I’m quite overdue.
3. Memories of previous family reunions where all of my family members except me could swim. I noticed how embarrassed my dad was of my intense fear and unwillingness to be pushed.
4. My brother is a source of inspiration because he taught himself to swim a few years ago, and recently went into the deep end without the intense psychological fear that I, the worry-wart sibling, entertain.
5. Swimming is excellent for your joints – I want to benefit from that.
6. When getting over a failed relationship, focusing on self-improvement will build your confidence so you don’t feel the need to impress others since you’re self-fulfilled. “As soon as you and somebody break up, kill that person they remember and evolve” (JaystarXXVII)
7. “But I don’t know how to swim” is such a useless excuse to me now, nobody can learn for me, it’s all on me. So let’s do this!

During my first lesson, it was clear that my fear was and continues to be psychological. Instinctively our bodies know how to swim; even babies born into water know how to swim. In fact, when justifying my fear to the lifeguards, they admitted that it’s easier to teach young-uns how to swim because their minds aren’t overwhelmed with fear, young-uns are fearless!

The whole 55 minutes of that lesson was spent with me trying to get my head under the water, and overriding that fear of water entering my ears, nose, and body. I feel overwhelmed in the water because there’s so much of it…I just don’t know how to act. I feel claustrophobic, so powerless, and I don’t trust myself to stay in control.

Then I became fascinated with why I’m so scared and how to overcome this. Whenever I go to the pool to “practice” (ie. repeatedly dunk my head under water while alternating holding my breath and blowing bubbles, in addition to my current stage of trying to hold a float without grabbing for the wall), I wish I could swim like the lane swimmers, swimming for fitness or leisure. I wish I could be comfortable and JUST SWIM! So instead of becoming discouraged, I decided to work on my personal obstacle – my mind.

In addition to ransacking the amazing google database and requesting every book at my local library regarding the physics of swimming and learning how to swim, I came across an e-book devoted to addressing the universal fears of learning to swim: “Conquer Your Fear of Water: An Innovative Self-Discovery Course in Swimming (1).

I was so desperate that I would purchase any video or book promising that it’s approach would teach me to swim, guaranteed. I really appreciate Melon Dash’s outlook regarding swimming, and the testimonials won me over. I’m only 1/3 through the book, and still don’t know how to swim yet, but she addresses some important concerns:

  • in order to learn to swim, you need to be in tune with yourself, and feel in control. Swimming’s supposed to be fun – otherwise, why would you want to learn? This is also in line with what my swimming instructors are constantly telling me: you need to relax in the water because the moment you panic, your body will become tense, you will begin to sink, and your lung capacity will shrink as you’ll be taking shallow breaths
  • go at your own pace. I chose to enroll in group lessons, and since I’m sharing the class time and the instructors with a group of individuals, I’m not receiving my ideal amount of attention. I knew that would be the case upon signing up, and I also knew that the classroom skill levels would differ. I used to feel pressured to advance faster than I was since I was, and still am the most novice in the group. But, if I continually let that bother me, I wouldn’t progress at all. So to compensate, I try to go to the pool on non-lesson days to “practice,” allowing time and exposure to help me become comfortable.

So far this is what I have learned, but I have no doubt that I will continue to learn more as I read this book, and complete the second half of my lessons. I may not master swimming after my first set of lessons (11 weeks), but I will continue to go to the pool, become more comfortable, and progress naturally based on following book lessons. As with life, we learn one step at a time – missing steps will only lead to a gap later that’s harder to overcome. Right now I’m building my foundation, and I don’t care if it takes me months to learn how to swim, I will eventually make it!

Green Dot Campaign

*click the title for more info*

I feel very fortunate because it’s the first week of the new year, and I’ve attended a workshop that is empowering, and educational.

The Green Dot campaign is an initiative to reduce power-based personal violence which come in the forms of sexual violence, partner violence, and stalking violence. The workshop focuses on the bystander’s role when faced with a violent, or potentially violent situation. It was very interactive, addressed reasons that may hinder us from stepping in, and we watched real-life situations of humanity not helping each other. And of course, we learned how can we take action, whether it be proactive (ie. becoming trained in a workshop such as this), or reactive (ie. directly, distractedly, or by delegating).

I learned a lot about myself and the reasons that I tend to not get involved, whether it be because I feel an interaction that doesn’t directly involve me is not any of my business, or because I hesitate due to distrust of how my good intentions may be abused, or end up hurting me. I wish that this training had been offered during my training to become a Residence Advisor, because I would’ve felt more confident in my decisions to intervene. But that’s life, you encounter experiences, you reflect upon them, and you adjust for the better.

After completing the 6 hour training, I feel capable, just like when I finish my annual CPR recerts. All in all, I want to be able to go anywhere and feel that I can handle any situation that I come across, and that if I see an inappropriate situation, I can help.

A clip that stands out to me took place at a subway station. A man began to seizure, and fell onto the tracks just as the train was approaching. Another man, with 2 young children, jumped between the tracks, and held the seizuring man, and himself, within the space that is between the tracks and waited for the train the pass over (with 0.5 inches to spare!). I thought that was absolutely incredible! I should add that this hero was a navy seal and was trained in how to protect, and to be reactive in an emergency.

For some people, the inclination to protect, take action, be a leader – these are ingrained. Which is why I am especially encouraged to attend workshops such as this. There are traits within myself that I would like to strengthen and nurture, and participating and really taking in this experience is a step in the right direction of many actions required to help me become more like what I would like to see myself as.

I would strongly recommend attending a training session to anyone who aims to become more educated about humanity matters (especially regarding violence), along with anyone who is interested in self-empowerment.