The World Needs the Body Positivity Movement

Health, Lifestyle, Mindset By February 5, 2017 Tags: , , , No Comments

As some of you may or may not know, I often describe myself as “body positive.”

Some people adore this, some people are confused by it, and some people find it down right offensive. For the last two, it’s mostly because people don’t understand what “body positivity” is and why it is.

 

“Isn’t body positivity just and excuse to be lazy and eat ice cream all day?”

I truly wish I had a dollar every time someone asked me if body positivity is just an excuse to be lazy and not take action towards living a healthy lifestyle. That is actually the antithesis of body positivity.

Body positivity is learning to appreciate all the different facets of your body in relation to form and function so we can feel good about the bodies we have and lead happier, more confident, and more productive lives. People who feel positively about their bodies will respect the bodies – and this will be reflected in their actions. People who love and respect the bodies will nourish themselves, move and exercise to feel good, rest and recover, and engage in self-care that sets them up for a life where they thrive physically and spiritually.

Conversely, when we hold negative views about ourselves and our bodies, the actions we take are often out of self-hatred and we end up abusing our bodies. As I’ve observed many times and have part-taken in during various times in my life, people abuse their bodies in a multitude of ways every single day and these behaviours are reflected on a spectrum of extremes:

  • eating foods that make them feel terrible
  • over eating
  • under eating
  • restrictive dieting
  • disordered eating patterns
  • substance abuse
  • over exercising
  • not exercising
  • not resting and recovery
  • conforming their body into an iron maiden of societal beauty standards
  • and much more…

“All you see is what you lacking, not what you packing.” – J. Cole

The by-product of this negativity we feel towards ourselves when we are not body positive is also reflected in how we treat other people. “We see the world not as it is, but as we are,” – if we are constantly criticizing ourselves, hating ourselves, and forcing ourselves into suffering we are incapable of feeling positively and feeling supportive of the people around us.

And this feeling is something that exists in people of all sizes and shapes – recall that body shame exists on a spectrum of extremes and these behaviours are exhibited in many different ways. This is why “fat-shaming” and “fit-shaming” are things, because people are so critical of themselves and suffering so much that they feel the need to shame others – misery loves company – so then there is this attitude that “If I have to suffer, you have to suffer with me.”

But the world doesn’t have to be this way. This spectrum of body-shaming wouldn’t exist if people took time to dismantle the negative thoughts and behaviours that keep them stuck in the same place. Evidently, there are a lot of external factors in our society we can’t control. However we can focus on the things we can control – the internal factors: how we think and behave towards ourselves and others.

It won’t be an overnight turn-around, but one day at a time, one action a time, we can change ourselves and the world around us. It starts within, changing our negative self-talk, being more compassionate to ourselves, and being less critical. Once we start taking better care of ourselves, we can evolve to a point where we are able to be kind and supportive to others – making our lives and the world we live in significantly better.

Are you ready to join the movement?

 

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KETTLEBELL QUICKIE – Chrissy

exercise, Programming, Training, Uncategorized, Workout By January 26, 2017 Tags: , , , , No Comments

Hello, my lovelies!

I want to introduce you to Chrissy. A benchmark Kettlebell workout from Agatsu Fitness – created by Shawn Mozen for some crazy fit woman named Chrissy.

As the story goes, Shawn was training Chrissy. Chrissy was super strong and fit, and came to Shawn one day saying “I like the workouts, but I want something harder.”

So Shawn got to work and came up with this devious workout that is more a test a mental fortitude than anything and named if after his lovely student Chrissy. And we have many full body sweat stains on gym floors everywhere owed to Chrissy. So thank you, Chrissy, thank you.

The workout is a timed ladder.
The exercises are the tuck jump burpee and Kettlebell swing.

And it goes as follows.

Tuck Jump Burpee :  Kettlebell Swing

30: 20
25 : 25
20 : 30
15 : 35
10 : 40
5 : 45
Complete the ladder as quickly as possible. Record your time, and try to beat it the next time you complete it.

I did mine in 10:51 – a big improvement since the last time I did it almost a year and a half ago now.

Let me know how you do! 🙂

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KETTLEBELL QUICKIE – Snatches&Ladders

Fat Loss, Programming, Training, Workout By January 10, 2017 No Comments

Snatches&Ladders has made it here for this week’s kettlebell conditioning. A complex ladder that primes you to perfect your kettlebell snatch.

 

A1) One-Arm Swing(R)
A2) High Pull(R)
A3) Snatch(R)
A4) One-Arm Swing(L)
A5) High Pull(L)
A6) Snatch(L)

Rep Scheme: 5,4,3,2,1

3 Rounds. Perform the ladder as quickly as possible. Rest as necessary between rounds.

 

Enjoy 😉

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KETTLEBELL QUICKIE – Clean it up!

Fat Loss, Programming, Training By January 2, 2017 Tags: , , , , , , , No Comments

This week’s KETTLEBELL QUICKIE is here! A simple and straightforward complex to help train your clean and jerk.

A1) One-Hand Swing x 5 reps
A2) Clean x 5 reps
A3) Jerk x 5 reps
A4) Clean and Jerk x 5 reps
PERFORM 3 SETS PER SIDE. Rest as necessary between sets. Complete as quickly as possible.

 

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KETTLEBELL QUICKIE – UpDown Complex-Ladder

Fat Loss, Programming, Training By December 26, 2016 Tags: , , , , , , No Comments

Perform the following complex as a ladder with the listed rep scheme. Perform the ascending sets of the complex with even numbered reps. Start with 2 reps and work upto 10 reps. Start descending the reps of each set with odd numbers starting with 9 reps working down to 1 rep on the final set. Rest as necessary. Perform as quickly as possible.

COMPLEX:
A1) Kettlebell Swing
A2) Goblet Clean
A3) Goblet Squat
A4) Two-Hand Press
REP SCHEME: 2, 4, 6, 8, 10, 9, 7, 5, 3, 1
You can use this workout as a stand alone workout or conditioning complex after your regular training. To get better at this workout, time how long it takes you to complete the ladder and try to beat your time each time you attempt it.
Enjoy!

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KETTLEBELL QUICKIE: It don’t mean a thing, if it ain’t got that swing!

exercise, Fat Loss, Programming, Training, Uncategorized By December 20, 2016 Tags: , , , , No Comments

This week’s kettlebell quickie has landed, and if you haven’t guessed it already: it’s all about the the kettlebell swing.

This week’s workout is a short and simple complex consisting of 4 rounds of several types of swings with one minute rest in between each round.

Let’s do this!

A1) Two Hand Swing x 10
A2) One Arm Swing (Right) x 10
A3) One Arm Swing (Left) x 10
A4) Hand to Hand Swing x 10 per side

4 rounds. Rest 1min in between rounds.

 

 

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KETTLEBELL QUICKIE – Snatch That!

Fat Loss, Training By December 13, 2016 Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , No Comments

I am thrilled to annouce that every week I will be sharing a kettlebell metabolic conditioning workouts that you can do in a pinch. These workouts will short and intense in nature and will be shared every Monday moving forward, so stay tuned! 🙂

Our first workout is a kettlebell complex to build and groove the kettlebell snatch. A complex means you will complete one round of the exercises without putting the weight down or resting.

This week’s workout goes as follows…

SNATCH THAT!

A1) one arm swing x 5 (right)
A2) high pull x 5 (right)
A3) snatch x 5 (right)
A4) one arm swing x 5 (left)
A5) high pull x 5 (left)
A6) snatch x 5 (left)
Do 4 rounds for time, rest between rounds as necessary.

Hop to it! 🙂

Share your times for you workout on Instagram and Twitter and don’t forget to tag me in the posts.

 

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3 Tips for Mindful Eating

Fat Loss, Health, Lifestyle, Mindset, Nutrition By November 25, 2016 Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , No Comments

“Everything moderation,” they say.

You know who I am talking about, your friends whole effortlessly lean and radiant, yet eat whatever they want. Small pieces of chocolate every day, pasta at dinner, the occasional decadent hot chocolate with whipped cream and full-fat milk. They’re never uncomfortable after eating. Their weight isn’t jumping around by 20lbs multiples times per year.

Meanwhile, you gain 10lbs just by looks at a piece of double chocolate cheesecake. You’ve been gluten-free, low-carb, calorie tracking, macrocounting dieting for God knows how long.  Eating 1400 calories religiously daily during the week, only to find yourself 10,000 calories deep into a large pizza on Friday night continuing on glutinnously raging through the weekend.

Trapping yourself in the cycle of restrict and deprive, and then bingeing as a “reward” or “treat.” Losing weight every week, gaining back the same weight every weekend, and losing that same weight again next week – punishing yourself with food restriction and excessive exercise to make up for the lack of “progress.”

The physical and psychological torments we put ourselves can be mind boggling. Clearly it’s not working. So why do we do it? Sometimes because we don’t know any better.

There is better. And we can do better. 

I want to talk to you about Mindful Eating.

Mindful eating isn’t some crazy “woo woo” trend you need to go to the Himalayas and train with the Dalai Lama to learn. In fact it’s quite simple and quite easy. You don’t need to count your calories, you don’t need to deprive yourself, and you don’t need to eliminate all the foods you love that been called “bad” by zealots who want you to believe that certain foods are holier than thou.

Mindful eating is done simply by paying attention to all the things that are happening while you are eating. Eating slowly and paying attention the sensantions, flavours, textures, and feelings that are experienced while eating your meals.

Because of the enhanced awareness we have while eating mindfully, most people who practice this are able to maintain healthy body composition while still being able to enjoy all of their favourite foods. When we slow down and focus on really experiencing our food we autoregulate our caloric-intake. This allows most people to avoid eating themselves to a point of discomfort, being overful, and taking in excess calories.

So how can you start eating mindfully? Start with these three steps.

  1. Put your phone down
    • In the words of the ever-mighty Erykah Badu: “I can make you put your phone down.” Maybe the phone isn’t your vice, but you want to avoid any distractions while you are eating your meals. Turn off the TV, put your phone down, and give your meal the undivided attention it deserves.  Being distracted while eating will take away from being able to pay attention to what is actually happening in your body. Are you hungry? Are you full? Does your food even taste good?
  2. Eat slowly
    • Next, you will want to make sure you are eating slowly. A lot of people are not even aware of how quickly they are eating. People who eat slowly tend lose and maintain weight more easily, and have better digestion, than people who do not eat slowly. You’re body physically needs time figure out when it satisfied (not full,) and eating slowly will ensure that you don’t jump the gun overeat unecessarily. The improved digestion will mainly start from taking time to properly chew your food better instead of taking larger bites and swallowing the food in large chunks, meaning your digestive system doesn’t have to work as hard to break down and process the nutrients that you are taking in. A good goal for a window of time to eat meals would be 20-30 minutes. If setting aside a half hour for a meal feels like an eternity, set a timer for 15 minutes and see if you can gradually eat a little bit slower each week.
  3. Taste your food
    • Start making mental notes about what your food actually tastes like and how you are experiencing it. Is the texture soft, chewy, crunchy, tough? How does your food taste? Sweet, savoury, salty, sour, bitter? How does your food smell? How do you physically feel while eating your food? Do you enjoy it? How could you improve it? How do you feel mentally while eating your food? Is it satisfying? These are all important things to pay attention while eating. And will allow you to truly experience your food and enjoy it significantly more.

 

So there you have it, eat what you want, but do it slowly, and savour the moment. 😉

Be like Erykah Badu, and put your phone down.

 

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Life is a dream, and I dream lucid. 

Lifestyle, Mindset By August 20, 2016 Tags: , , , , , , , , , No Comments

There is no such thing as too much ambition. 

Small minds will tell you that there is. But there isn’t.

Greatness was never achieved by thinking small or doubting your abilities. Maybe I am overly confident in myself, but I doubt it. 

 This morning, I was having a conversation with my colleague about how I don’t have a fear of losing my job – not because I think it would be impossible for me to lose my job – but even if I did, I have the utmost belief that no matter what life throws at me I can’t be broken and I will always be okay.

Yes – I can fail, repeatedly. I can be hurt. These things happen while living a full life but these are parts of the journey, not the end of it. And it’s because of these beliefs and understandings that I don’t think there’s such a thing as being too ambitious. I recognize that life is a dream, and I dream lucid. 

My first year of college in my Intro to Psych course my professor wrote a message for our class to read: “Positive mental attitude + Goals = Success.”  This message has never served me wrong.

If you believe in yourself, your mission, and you have the tenacity of a honey badger – you can’t be stopped. 

When people tell you that your goals and dreams are too lofty, remember: no one ever broke new ground or did anything epic by thinking “Let’s be realistic,” or by self-imposing limitations. 

May your dreams and aspirations be larger than life, and may you be tenacious in achieving them. 

 

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A Bull in the China Shop.

Health, Mindset By July 24, 2016 No Comments

It was 7am in Toronto, an early Tuesday morning  with one of my clients. We had a great strength portion to our training session and we were wrapping up with prowler pushes – a crowd favourite.

At the end of the pushes, my client, a full grown profressional woman, asked me “Hey! Can I sit on the sled while you push it back?” like an excited child asking for someone to push them on a swing.

I am 100% pro-fun and I like a challenge, so I gather all my strength and pushed her as quickly as I could down the lane. It felt like 30 seconds of the schoolyard recesses of my childhood.

Laughing, my client jokingly said “Maja, you are awesome! You’re so strong – I feel like one of the girls that got to sit on Andre the Giant’s arms.” I was flattered and had a good chuckle.

andreeeeee

Andre the Giant was rad.

Unfortunately, strong women aren’t always as well-received or understood like in the story I just told you.


A few months later, I was visiting and training at the previous gym where I worked, a nice quiet boutique studio that has everything you need to get strong and a lot of open space. I set up shop in one of the power racks to get to work on the first day of my new 5×5 program.

My first series was 5×5 superset of the back squat and prone leg curl, with a 5-0-1-0 tempo working at 82% of my 1RM. I’m not here to brag, but I consider my prone leg curl to be pretty strong – my working weight was 130lbs – which is equivalent to be able to move another human being solely using my hamstrings.

As I was working between my exercises two other women began doing a ciruit of all the leg machines and started working in on the prone leg curl with me. Their working weight was 10lbs.

Having taken note of the weight I was using to do my leg curls, one of the women started talking to her friend as she lay down on the machine: “Oh my god, look at that, that’s not normal! Who does that?”

She proceeds to try and see if she can move it “I’m using my whole body and all my force and I can’t even move it an inch!” The look on their faces was one of terror and befuddlement.

Somehow my strength was confusing to them, and that was confusing to me. I was a bull that came stomping into their china shop.


The reality is that I mostly live in a bubble – I work and spend most of my days in a gym in the heart of Toronto that is filled with part-time strength athletes and full-time aesthetic kings and queens (a combination of bodybuilders and exotic dancers.) A lot of the people I talk to are very fit and quite often stronger than me, both men and women. Many of us have athletic backgrounds and goals and are continually trying to be stronger, faster, better versions of ourselves which sometimes actually leads to getting stronger than the norm.

Sometimes in my strength-bubble of quadzillas, I often forget that in this country, 50.3% of the female population fall into the category of being “inactive” (according to Statistics Canada. )

image2 (1)

When you add on top of that a subconscious acceptance of patriarchy that continually reinforces harmful gender stereotypes (“men should be strong, durable, leaders – women should be small, soft, delicate flowers for the men to protect, blahblahblahblah”) combined with what seems to be a never-ending parade of “celebrity trainers” and so-called experts spewing offensive and wrong information like this:

image1 (1)

1) A wide grip doesn’t make you grow wider. 2) I decide what is and what is not feminine to me, not you, silly magazine.

3lbs

…yeah, I’d be scared and confused too if I saw a woman lifting anything heavier than her bodyweight and she had legs that are thicker than a fashion-model’s waist.

But I’m not scared. I am THAT woman. And I don’t think you should be afraid or confused by me. I am just another person in this world who is doing my utmost best to strive for excellence both physically and mentally while enjoying my life.

By regularly embracing, accepting, and creating my own strength – I empower myself physically and mentally. I’ve created habits that allow me to live free of physical pain and chronic lifestyle diseases like obesity, cardiovascular disease, type II diabetes, and osteoporosis. I can confidently say that I can walk up several flights of stairs without having to worry about breaking a sweat or becoming short of breath. I can walk my groceries home by carrying them with my hands because I have awesome grip. I can put together, take apart, and move my own furntiture without being put out of commission for the following week. I have a strong immune system that allows me to contribute to society and allows me to work and take leave when I want to – not because I have to.

I have these things because I am strong and I nourish my body to be strong.

I work hard for all of these thing. I have been consistenly dedicated to making my life as easy as possible through making myself stronger than the things that life throws at me. In addition to having increased physical strength, being dedicated to the training process has helped me cultivate a stronger sense of self and help me achieve healthy self-esteem.

Not only am I capable, but I’m feelin’ myself *Beyonce voice.* 

feeling myself

I personally want to live in a world where women (and men too) like themselves and are confident in their abilities because they embrace, cultivate, and use their strength.

And I think it’s time for all of us to embrace our own strength. It’s time to think for yourself, to define what it is you need to live with the quality of life you want to have. And honestly, I think most of you would find being physically strong has a lot of carryover in terms of helping you achieve a lot of those things.

At the end of it all, it’s survival of the fittest, and I’d rather be the bull than be the china. 

 

 

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