No beginning is humble

I’m secretly pretending that the cup of green tea on my desk is actually a beautiful crystal champagne flute filled with chilled Veuve – celebrations are in order!

Fit Life Canada is officially here – functioning, alive, with a pulse counting the beats of its little brand new digital WordPress heart. The name pretty much describes the types of magical things you will find here: anything and everything related to health, fitness and wellness. Exciting stuff!

Here I hope to share my ideas, discoveries, thoughts, and experiences, have some great conversations with those of you who are equally passionate about these topics, and, most importantly, have lots of fun while doing it!

Another reason to start this blog is purely charitable – in an effort to spare the ears of my very patient friends and family of my constant questions, ‘lectures’ and advice around all things related to healthy living. You are welcome!

The idea to start a blog dedicated to my biggest passions in life – health, fitness and wellness – has been looming in my head for quite some time. But as many of us might agree, the sad reality of life is that it does, in fact, get in the way. However, I’ll be the first one to admit that the only true reason why it’s taken me so long is simple – and painfully embarrassing – fear. Fear of not following through, making mistakes, but worst of all, sucking at this blogging thing. Badly.

And some might say resolutions like “I will do one thing a day that scares me” sound cliche and almost naive, but it feels like this particular muscle rarely gets the workout it really needs and deserves.

So let’s begin… Without being afraid of consequences, with a single promise to myself and anyone who will be touched by this experience: here is to enjoying the journey, making small steps, being inspired and dreaming big.

Because not taking the first step is far scarier to me than screwing this up. And however small this step is, I hope with all my heart that it will make me braver and help me bring all the wonderful things I have drawn in my mind to life.

So here is to first steps… You’ve just witnessed mine. What will be yours?

The guide to NOT giving up

Sunset Paddleboard at Pier Cove

One of my favourite things about Canada is definitely the great outdoors. The nature here seems to be so close and vast, and more likely than not, you will find a park, lake, river or beach within a short drive away (at least in Ontario). The dizzying variety of things you can experience through Canadian nature amazes me, and I think, we are very lucky to have it within reach.

As you might know, paddle-boarding is the latest craze in outdoor adventures for those who don’t mind getting their feet and/or hair wet, and I got a chance to try it out last weekend when visiting friends at their cottage on Georgian Bay.

Here is the story…

My 9-year-old paddle-boarding “teacher” Jan assures me that I’ll love it, and then we can race: I’d be paddling, and he’d be swimming. I readily agree…

At first, the board seems very shaky, and holding the paddle is all of a sudden painfully uncomfortable (“who in the world thought this to be a genius idea?!”). After awkwardly pushing myself from the sandy strip of land, I realize that the board is moving very fast to where the water is getting deeper and deeper, and I get more and more nervous just as quickly. Gulp. Should have left my Ray Bans on the dock… Feeling an occasional wave sends my knees into a shaky dance, and I can’t help but imagine myself falling into the dark water (“wonder how cold it is here!… this will be sooo embarrassing…”).

Then something amazing happens. My little teacher, who is tirelessly encouraging me while swimming just 10 feet ahead and shouting his tips, says something that makes me pause, and suddenly I feel relaxed and happy:

“DON’T FOCUS ON FALLING, FOCUS ON PADDLING!!!”

The simple, profound truth behind his statement makes me smile, forget about fear, lift my head and look ahead, instead of focusing on the dark, choppy water underneath me. Paddling seems so easy, and I’m loving every second of it…

Perhaps, paddle-boarding isn’t about a drastic, life-altering change, health challenge, or something that makes you anxious and afraid. Maybe what you are going through is much more serious, with a lot more at stake than just falling into the water.

But one thing is true for all challenges in life: focusing on failing will make you fearful and won’t help you succeed. Focusing on moving forward will.

This remarkable lesson from my little teacher made me stronger and more mindful of my own fears and reactions to obstacles. And that short sentence is now posted on a sticky note above my desk, so I remember  it when things do get tough.

As for paddle-boarding, I’ll do it again for sure. And maybe, will give paddle board yoga a try too. Anyone done it yet?

Good to be back…

Tell NOBODY - not even HERHello there!

One of my favourite TED videos is by Derek Sivers, who talks about keeping your goals to yourself. According to psychologists, the minute you share your goals with others, your mind is tricked into thinking that the goals have already been achieved, making it a lot less likely for you to follow through and actually making them happen.

Interestingly enough, I can definitely say that this has been true for me in the past – in my personal and professional lives, at the gym and outside of it. However, at the end of the day, only effort, positive attitude, and keeping your eye on the prize are the things that make the difference and help get to the point where you want to you to be.

All of us have different ways of approaching goal-setting and tracking progress, all unique as our challenges and obstacles.

In the past couple of months, my main obstacle was keeping up with work schedule while trying to find the time to work out, enjoy the summer and my loved ones. No matter how busy life gets, I have found that writing as well as fitness provide a much-needed relief from exhaustion and spiraling effects of feeling trapped within work hours and never-ending deliverables and projects.

And that’s why it feels so good to be back. And the goal is to stick to the plan and make this site something special for me and others, and you’ll hear all about it. As for my fitness goals, my #1 priority is to simply allocate a few minutes every single day to dedicate to my own health and well-being.

Who do you talk to about your fitness + diet routines, progress, goals and challenges? Do you keep your goals to yourself, or do you discuss your plans with others?

Let me know your thoughts!

FLC

New Year’s resolutions, revisited!

Turns out, the story is true for 25% of all New Year’s resolutions: no matter what the grand plans are for working out, eating better, drinking more water, quitting smoking or swearing less often, we start falling off the wagon right about now.

Did you make any resolutions for 2012? As far as fitness and health, pretty sure I share mine with approximately 20 million people on this continent (my own rough estimate).

No Kilimanjaro climbing (just yet!), but here they are: quit social smoking, take up running, do yoga (LOTS), meditate daily, and cut out sugar (at least on weekdays).

Despite any setbacks, let’s not beat ourselves up and keep in mind that drastic changes in diet and exercise tend to stick only for a short period of time unless we truly commit and keep trying to make those small steps every chance we get. The key is not to get frustrated if you do slip and succumb to a temptation here and there – keep focused, be strong and do your best. On this merry note, to help you stay on track and hopefully inspire you to expand your wellness horizons, check out these awesome free online tools and motivation sources available to you completely FREE!

Quitting smoking

As Mark Twain said, “It’s easy to quit smoking. I’ve done it hundreds of times.” While I can honestly say that cigarettes and I parted ways years ago, one of the hardest things has always been resisting the urge of lighting up when having a glass of wine (or three) with my smoking-loving friends. Not surprisingly, straying off the righteous path always resulted in immediate realization how much I hated smoking and self-loathing the following morning. If you know the feeling, live in Ontario and are going through similar pains of cutting nicotine out of your life, check out the Driven to Quit Challenge. Even if you quit smoking or tobacco use just for the month of March 2012, you could win some really cool prizes, including a new Ford Fusion hybrid or Ford Edge, one of two $5,000 dream vacation getaways or one of seven $2,000 cash prizes! Two words: I’m in. And good luck! It’s worth the painful effort. Your body and your loved ones will thank you.

Running

Most of my life, I seriously didn’t understand how anyone could enjoy running. Boring, tedious, and 1,000 times worse if you are stuck on a treadmill without a good workout playlist. However, last summer, to my own shock and surprise, I discovered that running can actually be wonderfully soothing and almost has a therapeutic effect. I tried some of the walk-to-run plans and really liked this one from Women’s Health. Designed by fitness guru Amy Dixon, it will help you build from a walk to a run. By the end, you’ll be able to run 30 minutes without stopping – and hopefully, feel empowered to continue and set new goals! As all of us should be mindful of our own abilities and limitations, I’ll be developing a program for my own running training in the next couple of weeks, with the goal to complete my first 5K this spring. Stay tuned for more posts on this, including upcoming running events in the Toronto area!

Yoga

One of the main reasons why I started this blog is to ensure that I do carve out time in my schedule to do things that I love – to be fit, healthy and happy. This includes yoga, which is really one of the greatest loves of my life. I definitely plan to dedicate a few posts here to this amazing wellness practice beautifully connecting mind and body and truly suitable for people of all ages and fitness levels. But for now, I want to share this cool resource I’ve come across, tried and loved in the past. Yoga Journal’s 21-Day Yoga Challenge is completely free online program allowing you to choose either a beginner’s track or an intermediate track based on your previous yoga experience. Each track includes a daily video, weekly meditations, and daily newsletters with practice tips and recipes. While the challenge began January 9th, you can join any time! Hope you enjoy it as much as I did. Namaste!

Meditation

I fell in love with meditation last year and have been working to deepen my practice through a meditation workshop at Bliss Yoga Studio in Toronto (more on my experience in the upcoming posts). This year, I’m also trying Chopra Center’s 21-Day Meditation Challenge. Completely free and available to anyone online, Deepak Chopra and his fellow meditation teachers will help establish a regular meditation practice in 21 days with daily support and guidance that will enable you to move beyond any past obstacles and experience the many gifts and benefits of meditation. Here is to becoming more calm, centered, and happy! I’m starting the challenge today and will be sure to share my feedback here. Would love to hear your thoughts as well!

Diet

We are what we eat, and although we have become a lot more conscious of our dietary choices over the past few years, the struggle stays the same – how to avoid the temptations and fight off our dietary demons. Mine is sugar – pastries, cookies, chocolate, candy – you name it. Success of any fitness program is dictated by nutritional choices, and here is a cool tool to help you with this part. My Fitness Pal provides an awesome free service to its members: it helps track calories and nutrients and log exercise to match what you consume with what you burn through your daily activities. The membership is 100% free and includes a personalized diet profile, searchable food database of countless meal items, food diary, personal database (you can add your own foods and recipes), free mobile apps for iPhone and Android, and support and motivation with discussion forums. I love all the tools provided and will definitely give it a try!

I would love to hear about your resolutions, suggestions and ideas on how to stay on track! Your comments and feedback are always welcome.

And good luck with that swearing-less-often thing! :)

Fit Life Canada