I’ve had to deal with some health issues recently. That has woken me up to the importance of self care. The key is in finding out what works specifically for you. What is the right balance of work and play at this particular point in your life? What once was good may very well have changed. You have to keep tuned into your inner voice. The more you learn to listen to it, the clearer it gets.
My self care essentials are walks out in parks and the city streets. At this time of the year the darkness makes every bit of light decorations shine magically. Just looking at them transports me away from everyday work seriousness. My essentials also include a liquid pleasure called coffee. I feel uplifted as I make my way to my trusted coffee shop and chat with my baristas. Buying nearly one coffee a day sure adds up in the end. But self care is an investment.
My third self care element is yoga, Pilates and ballet. I have a mat on which I play in my activity room. I observe my current state and then engage in an activity that meets my need the best. Sometimes calming yoga, other times boosting and physically challenging training. Next to the yoga mat, I have a stair climber. Whisking away on it at the end of a busy work day often feels good. Going out for runs is another tempting possibility. My energy level ultimately makes the decision.
I encourage you to stay connected with your inner self. Ask yourself what it is that you need today to feel the best. Make a list if that helps in keeping track and not forgetting when you need gentle self care the most.
It has been a while since I blogged. I felt a pull to other things. Nevertheless, this blog is a sweet place of mine so here I am, back and ready to let you in on novelties in my life. I’ll be back regularly now. I know. I feel it. The winter always does that to me. I crave for blogging creativity more than in the summer.
I trained ballet from the age of nine up to 22. It was my life. I wanted to be a ballerina. That was the strongest dream I’ve ever had. Since then nothing has lived up to that degree of intensity. In hindsight it was awesome to spend my youth in such a focused way. Recently I felt a draw back to ballet. I took action. I pulled out my old ballet shoes. I found ballet class music on Spotify. I’ve been training. It’s been awesome. My body remembers so many things. It’s incredible.
Yoga has also taken a bigger place in my life than before. I take a class almost daily. It happens here at home on my purple yoga mat. I’ve fallen in love with Boho Beautiful. She teaches yoga and Pilates on YouTube. Her videos inspire me. Her kind but firm guidance pleases me enough to want to include her in my intimate space. Her style brings you ballet like, long lean muscles.
With ballet and yoga on my side, plus cardio workout from running and stepper, I’m living my life to its fullest. November feels good. Surprisingly, it’s one of my favorite months in its rough beauty. When I’m happy in November, I feel like nothing can get me down. Nothing can tear you down or cut your groove if you can make it when your environment doesn’t help you. So to me November means power – strong, lean ballerina yogi power.
Today is the first day of fall. Are you ready for the new season? I think that we never really are. As humans, our forte is maintaining things the way they are, not welcoming to change. Yet change is everywhere. It’s easy to feel pumped when the sky is blue and the sun caresses our cheeks. The need to dress up, to boost and beautify comes with gloomier weather and tougher temps.
This fall I will take things one day after another. I will find excitement where I can. I will welcome the calmness of nature and the lessons the turning colors offer me. I will trust that I will be OK – that I will find joy even when all the leaves will be gone.
My Facebook group Happy Place – Fitness Community in English in Quebec City is well on its way. There are 30 members now and we are getting to know each other. I started the group after joining another group earlier in the summer, created by Mary Ann and located in Seattle. I wanted to have something local. A chance to get together from time to time in real life.
The anchor of my group is the workout class that I am teaching on Saturdays. This year it will be a mix of zumba and power yoga. We will be doing half an hour of each. There will also be some other cutting-edge fitness techniques thrown in like Pilates and Barre in the course of the year. I’m excited about sharing my fitness knowhow. I used to teach aerobics and work as a personal trainer at a gym so this is in a way going back to my old love.
Creating a group like this can give the founder and the participants a great boost. You make connections with likeminded people and they can pull you higher. We are all on this journey together. No one has the ultimate answers, nor is everyone the same. We have to figure out what exercise routines and eating habits fit our unique bodies and lifestyles. Learning from other’s experiences can provide precious inspiration.
I recently got asked how I figured out a way to body love. I used to pick on myself. I didn’t like the way I looked. There were favorite body parts, like my abs, that I especially focused on. I was constantly trying to loose weight. I wanted to maintain a weight lower than what was commonly recommended for my height. Then one day came a moment when I did some serious soul-searching. I wrote down my true values. None of them turned around bodily measurements. I also recognized that when I was in contact with others, I never paid attention on their weight. I wanted to see them as they really were, a person with interesting things inside. So, I figured that I needed to apply my core values to my life as well.
I decided to stop the fight between my weight loss wanting mind and the actual needs of my living body. Trying to maintain a lower than normal weight led me to controlled and inflexible behavior. Keeping things where they naturally aren’t supposed to be is hard work. Some people spend their lives fighting with the scale, deciding that they’ll never go over a certain number, come what may. But in the meantime they are limiting how much they really experience this life. There were times when I’d stay at home just because I didn’t want to eat more and thus didn’t have the needed energy to go out and enjoy other’s company. Or maybe I’d go but only be a shadow of myself because I was exhausted. These are rather extreme examples but you get the picture.
I decided to allow myself the amount of energy, nutritious food, that it needed to fully function. Slowly I incorporated all foods back into my life. I had forbidden foods like nuts, chips, pizza or chocolate from myself. I now go by the 80-20 principle. I try to eat 80% clean, just because I know it makes me feel my best, and 20% indulgence. I’ll have that chocolate chip cookie if I want to. I do physical activity every day. I do it because it helps me to feel good in my body and also boosts my mood. I know that I have to be mindful of maintaining my happy spark alive. I also know that I have to be proactive. I take myself out for a walk or do some yoga before I feel too sad.
I have recently focused more on health magazines and social media in comparison to the fashion magazines that I used to read. I still like fashion and read the glossies I subscribe to, but I pay attention on not getting any negative body vibes from them. If my day’s good and I’m feeling great in my skin, then there’s no problem in looking at a young girl with a very thin (and probably photo shopped) frame. But if I’m already feeling self critical so then maybe that day I need to entertain myself with other things.
I continue to look for articles, social media influencers and messages that support my quest for body love. I’ve found a group on Facebook where women support each other’s sports and health goals. That has been a very positive experience. That is why I was inspired to start my own Happy Place fitness community here in Quebec City.
So, what’s the secret to body love and peace within? Deciding to want it more than anything else and then doing all you can to get it. There’s beauty in putting yourself out there and giving encouragement to others. That’s why I wrote this post.
I had flirted with yoga before but it is only this summer that I’ve really delved into it. I took yoga lessons back in Paris which left me dubitative. I craved sports and didn’t find it in that particular practice. But now either I or something else has changed, and I really see the interest in yoga. I still feel that it is a lot like my twenty years of ballet – a discipline based on strengthening and lengthening the muscle all within the same practice – and what is more precious than that.
I enjoy yoga outdoors and with music. I also like the mental side of it. Sometimes the instructor will encourage you to set a certain goal to our practice like finding peace or energy, or even an answer to a question. I like the emphasis on being thankful and also radiating the love you have sparked when finishing your session.
I recently discovered a beautiful girl – inside and out – who teaches yoga lessons online. Here’s a link to Boho Beautiful if you also would like to try working out at home with her. She will take you to do yoga on the beaches of Asia. You find differently focused lessons: core, shoulders, morning wake up, digestion and so on. I say let’s go find peace and power…