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Meet Kourtney: On Fear, Stress + Moving Forward

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Meet Kourtney: On Fear, Stress + Moving Forward

By Kourtney Meldrum

@kasualkourt

Stress is normal; an unavoidable part of life- a lot of times it can even be healthy. All this being said, stress can also be unwarranted, it can be dangerous, it can consume our lives, and in many ways, it can harm us.


In September of 2018, my health started to turn. It still unclear to this day what happened, but suddenly I was exhausted beyond belief, I had no appetite, and the migraines I had been plagued with my whole life had been joined by a constant dull head pain that clung to my skull and refused to leave.


My usually packed schedule and active lifestyle was no longer an option. There were days I couldn’t stay awake for more than a few hours and would have to nap before continuing with my day.

I didn’t feel like myself.


Previously, my life had revolved around adding more things to my plate, always challenging myself, and continually searching for a new goal to conquer. Suddenly, everything I was working on and working towards was put to a halting stop. I physically couldn’t keep up. I was mentally exhausted. I was stressed.


I was stressed because I couldn’t keep up. I was stressed because I was in pain. I was stressed because I was too exhausted to fight through it. I was stressed because I was falling behind. I was stressed because I knew I could never keep up. I was stressed because I felt like a failure.


This was not me. To say no to opportunities, to miss deadlines, to forget to reply to emails, to stop chasing dreams, skip classes, nap instead of going to the gym, to give up.

I felt like, if I wasn’t the person who could do it all and take everything on, then who was I?

I was having an identity crisis with no energy to find my way back, and I was stressing TF out.

The word failure consumed my life. It flashed across my brain like a news headline, and I couldn’t escape it. It defined me, and I wrestled with it. Over and over again I would tell myself that I wasn’t a failure, but deep down I felt like one, and it was a pain I couldn’t let go of.


Since September I had taken on big projects, had stressful school classes, experienced the death of a friend, and felt isolated in a city that months before had felt like home. Stress and anxiety had become uncomfortably comfortable and built themselves a little house to stay. The stressors in my life had been given so much energy that they had grown into nasty beasts that reared their heads in the forms of panic attacks that hit me harder than I’ve ever experienced in my life- on the streetcar, in Ubers, on the sidewalk, in my bed, in coffee shops, in school hallways- I’d hyperventilate and try to count my breaths. Sometimes I’d catch myself being so lost in my streams of thoughts that I would forget to breathe.


When I went to my doctor back home in December, I had been dealing with this pain for over three months there were still no clear answers. One of the suggested reasons for my new head pain was tension headaches. These tension headaches, my doctor recommended, had been brought on by stress.


This hurt. The realization that I had made myself so stressed, that I had become so incredibly sick broke my own heart.


Beyond feeling like a failure for the past four months, I felt I had truly failed myself. I had done this to myself in many ways.


While this does not solve the entire puzzle of me feeling unwell, my constant stress and anxiety put a considerable amount of pressure on my physical health.


Following this conversation with my doctor, I went on a month long vacation with my family to Hawaii. I took the time to recharge. I knew it was vital for my health and wellbeing. I left Calgary on December 17th as the most broken down, worn out, anxiety-filled, stressed out, and exhausted version of myself I have ever been. I took the month to disconnect from my life in Toronto, to spend real and meaningful time with my family, to be outside, to reevaluate my priorities, and in many ways decide what I want from life.


For a majority of people taking a month-long vacation is not an option but I'm grateful that I could. I still came back home with stress, the same problems, and new hurdles, but at least I had had some distance and a fresh perspective.


My priority is my health right now. Both finding answers for my physical health and making sure I’m taking care of my mental health. Everything else comes second to that.


The past sixth months have felt like the worst in many ways, but have also taught me incredibly significant lessons.


My idea of failure and success is distorted. Living my life in a state of being constantly busy is not healthy or sustainable. Sometimes I go for things to prove I can; not because I want them.

Both my pain and my stress are real, and it is okay to feel them.


All of my ‘failures’ built my greatest successes. Being able to recognize my pain and put my health first is the biggest win, even though it meant saying no and letting things go - ‘failing’ in many ways. But I have come to recognize that this isn’t failing: This is learning to win in the ways that matter.


Stress is unavoidable in life. Stress can also kill you. I allowed so much stress and anxiety to fill my life that I made myself incredibly sick.


I will leave you with this.


We live in a culture where being consistently on the go is idealized and where stress, never-stopping, never-sleeping, and working yourself to the limit, is put on a pedestal. It is not a healthy way of life. It is toxic, and it physically and mentally tears you down.


You know your  limits, listen to them.

You know who your support system is, so lean on them.

You know when you don’t feel your best, pick up on those clues and patterns.

Where do you find the light, the love, and the joy in your life?

Follow that.

(Everything else has a way of figuring itself out)




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Yoga for Anxiety- Breath Work

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Yoga for Anxiety- Breath Work

Hi All!

It has been awhile since we posted- we have been working hard behind the scenes to make our website a little more functional.

Also- Big news- we are now on YOUTUBE! All of our videos will focus on how to move your body to help your mind (we would LOVE if you could view and hit SUBSCRIBE!)

Todays video is a simple video that focuses on a little grounding + breathwork. It also prompts the question- how are you breathing day to day? Are your breaths fast and shallow or long and deep?

Sometimes just shifting how we breathe can have a huge effect on how we feel anxiety in the body.

Do you have any tips or tricks for navigating your anxiety? We’d love to hear from you!

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 Meet Jill- The Founder of The Burpee Project

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Meet Jill- The Founder of The Burpee Project

Meet Jill. This is her Story

People are always surprised when I tell them I suffer from Panic and anxiety attacks.

The reaction I get is usually the same, “ Really? but you are always so calm and chill.”

So- what does a person with panic and anxiety disorder look like? Hard to know. I think panic is associated with frantic behaviour; so maybe people expect a nervous, jittery person or maybe expect to see a ‘freak out’ of some kind. For me, when I’m having a panic attack it’s actually quite the opposite. I may look calm and chill on the outside, but on the inside it’s nothing but that. My mind is racing and my catastrophic thoughts are consuming me. Its a mix of irrational thoughts and self-loathing for being the way I am.

I hate feeling anxious. It’s the worst possible feeling. It can be embarrassing and scary and the mind is so powerful that it is easy to sometimes feel completely overtaken in that moment. Most often it feels like I can’t breathe and I instantly think I’m going to die right here right now; sometimes my heart rate gets so high as if I’ve just finished a sprint. I have been told the reason for this is the adrenaline in me- the “Fight or Flight” feeling.

I vaguely remember my first panic attack. I was around eight years old; it was a regular day at school when I was hit hard with what I thought was a stomach ache (a feeling I never forgot- and I didn’t know this in that moment, but it was a feeling that would end up returning many more times). When that feeling came over me all I knew was that I needed my Mom and I wanted to get out, escape, go home. It wasn’t until my adult years that I associated that exact feeling with an anxiety attack. What made me feel safe, like most, was to be with my Mom and to be at home. The feelings of not wanting to go to school happened quite often. If I had it my way I would stay home every day (avoidance) but that wasn’t the case.

Throughout my elementary school years there were certain situations I hated being in; situations that gave me that stomach ache, the anxiety. I would panic if I was ever left home alone or if I was at a friends house and we were alone. Mostly the panic happened when I was separated from my Mother. I also had this terrible fear that my parents were going to die. At times I would do anything to stop my Mom from leaving the house. I would block the door, scream and yell and even throw myself at her legs and not let her go (no joke- I would be on the ground holding her legs until she would stay- sometimes even chasing her down the street hoping she would stay home and never leave me.

I couldn’t explain what I was scared of. But I always felt safest when she was nearby.

My mom did a great job dealing with the panic attacks then and she still does a great job dealing with them now. She was familiar with what was happening because she too had suffered from panic and anxiety attacks- not to say I didn’t get my way when I was little and begged her to stay home with me. There were many times I would tag along with her and my Dad, or join her on a power walk with her friends. Her friends learned to accept me being around. (Or if I wasn’t around I was calling every five minutes to see when they were coming home). Over time as my behaviour and reactions to her leaving the house got worse, she started putting her foot down. I wasn’t allowed to be her shadow anymore. I had to face my fears. I’m not saying these feelings went away completely, but as I matured I could put things in perspective. I became a bit more rational, for the most part. Eventually I learned to manage and was ok when my Mom left for a deserving night out.

I can’t remember many situations of panic and anxiety when I was in my teens. For the most part it disappeared. I could stay alone, babysit, go to summer camp. For some reason this time of my life was was not so panic-stricken. I actually became pretty independent as a teen and young adult. I could do things then that I wouldn’t dare do now. I wasn’t fearless, but definitely less inhibited than now. I even moved away from my home in Winnipeg to start a new life in Toronto. I pursued my passion for fitness, and started personal training and teaching fitness classes full time. I married the love of my life and we started a family. This is not to say I didn’t have any panic attacks during those years; they were just fewer and far between.

My panic and anxiety made it’s return with a vengeance as soon as I became a Mother. I have three amazing kids and am so blessed for my wonderful family. In 2003 came Maya, 2004 Charlie and 2006 Tyler. However- three kids under the ages of three can make anyones life hectic and stressful, which in turn can cause anxiety.

For me, it wasn’t the chaos that made me anxious. I loved being immersed in this new busy life.

I think that particularly crazy time in my life kept me distracted and focused on my kids and not on me and my feelings. The odd mild panic attack would creep in here and there, but I never really let it get in my way, until my husband left town for one week and I was staying at home alone with the kids. For most this is not such a scary event, but for me it was terrifying. My fears grew strong and my catastrophic thoughts were out of control. My fear was that I would die and leave my kids without their Mom. The recurring feelings were mostly around bedtime. I would worry that I would die in my sleep and my kids would find me in the morning!

It was a long five nights for me.

My mind and body was in such a state of fluster over those few days. I was relieved and more relaxed when my husband returned, but I developed fear and anxiety about staying alone with the kids. Panic would even set in at the most random places. I avoided taking the kids to a movie alone, or to indoor playgrounds alone. I always felt better if I had someone with me- it was kind of a safety for me.

Each panic attack seemed to be getting worse than the last.

One morning during school drop off I was in such a frenzy. My heart rate felt like it was so high. I could feel it pumping, I was panicking. I remember exactly what I was doing. Checking my pulse, checking my breathing while trying to remain inconspicuous about it. I even went up to a parent at school who is a doctor to see if she thought my heart rate was too high. So embarrassing!!

My nervous thoughts were getting worse and worse, in turn making my feelings elevated. I was scared to go home and be alone.

Instead I drove myself over to my husbands office and sat on the floor behind closed doors hiding from others trying to cope. I wanted to call an ambulance because I thought I was dying and these feelings were stronger than they had ever been and were not going away.

However I didn’t. So why not? Well deep down I knew this was a panic attack and the thought of calling 911 and explaining my symptoms was too embarrassing. Eventually my heart rate came down, I pulled my self together and went home.

I developed a long list of situations (which seemed silly) that I started to dread or avoid. I started to fear I would have an anaphylactic reaction to foods at restaurants (note: I have no allergies). I would feel better knowing if a hospital was near by, or if there would be a Doctor amongst the crowd! On top of all that I became scared to exercise! I have a career in fitness and now I am scared to exercise!!! I hated and dreaded the feeling of my heart rate getting too high, I was always worried it wouldn’t come back down.

This list of fears were exhausting and were disrupting my life.

Those fears and catastrophic thoughts would bring on such strong feelings of anxiety. So much so it became debilitating. This is when I decided to seek help. I tried Cognitive Behavioural Therapy. It definitely gave me the tools to conquer many fears which I still use today, but my panic was still too much. With the support of my Doctor we decided meds were the way to go. This is what changed my life for the better. Aside from the fear that the pills were killing me at first and I was allergic to them (true story called the pharmacist to see if that was a possibility)they gave me a life again.

After going on medication, it felt like such a relief to be back in the world of the living.

I started to enjoy things again. I wasn’t as fearful to go on a run, or to eat at a restaurant. I wasn’t as distraught if I had to stay alone overnight with my kids. Things were just better, I was just better. I was in control again.

I spent a lot of years feeling weak and scared, and during this time I was looking for something to make me stronger; this is the feeling I got when I discovered Crossfit; a fitness program that combines a wide variety of functional movements into a timed or scored workout.

For me, there was no better feeling than proving to myself that I am strong and able. Lifting a barbell and pushing myself to do things I could never have imagined before is such great therapy for me. I feel empowered in every way; mind and body. I truly believe it has been a natural outlet for me. It has given me a focus and has helped me conquer many fears.

You should know that I still get the odd anxiety attack from time to time. There are situations that to this day I am avoiding, but hope to conquer those fears one day soon. I’m not cured, there is no cure. It’s all about learning to cope with what you have. Talking, sharing and not being embarrassed about your struggle can change someones outlook on panic and anxiety disorder.

Jill is the Founder of The Burpee Project- Their mission is to do 25 thousand burpees for Youth Mental Health! JOIN IN Nov 17th Toronto, ON- MSG through our contact form on this site for details!


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Meet Ariella. This is her Story of Dysthymia,  Suicide and Anxiety + How She Continues to Find Comfort in Exercise

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Meet Ariella. This is her Story of Dysthymia, Suicide and Anxiety + How She Continues to Find Comfort in Exercise

Lesson no. 1: never judge a book by its cover.

 

I was born and raised in Buffalo, New York and am the eldest of three children.  My father is a physician, mother a nurse, brother a 22 year old division 1 hockey player “life of the party”, and sister the full package of beauty and brains at 20.  Then there’s me, Ariella- 25 years old with a mind comparable to a watch that continues to tell time even when the battery dies.  But that’s not all; there is more, so much more.

 

Since before I can remember, I have always felt different.

Not different in the way I looked or acted, but different in the way my mind worked.  Let’s be real – what kid doesn’t feel like an outcast at one point or another?  I convinced myself I was just like everybody else and kept on keeping on with my life because at the end of the day, the mind is an inanimate object that couldn’t be operated on to change it’s makeup.  And physical medicine was all I had known being raised by two parents in the medical field.  

 

As the years passed and I moved through milestone stages in my life, this feeling of being different seemed to become more prevalent on a day to day basis and the struggle became very real.  But-nobody would know, because from the outside, my life was perfect.  I was a goody two-shoes- a sociable, intelligent pretty girl, with a dream wardrobe, a cookie cutter family, and a smile on my face.  Always.

What could possibly be wrong with someone who is always happy and has it all, am I right? 

 

Let’s jump to the part of the story where Ariella is in her third year of high school (sorry for the weird third person interjection – sometimes I like talking about myself as if I’m someone else doing it).  The word “therapist” was one that I began to learn more about and thought maybe I should see one.  Speaking to someone about this weird feeling that wouldn’t go away, but kept getting worse, sounded like a good idea.  

 

At my first session, I was diagnosed with Dysthymia, persistent mild depression.  Keep in mind – nobody knows what goes on behind closed doors and there were many things other than my genetic makeup that were affecting my feelings.  Well, okay, I guess that made sense considering staying in my bedroom watching TV was always the better alternative to doing pretty much anything else.  I continued going to therapy as needed and felt little improvement.  It was a bonus to have an unbiased ear to listen to your problems that nobody knows about-

But this did not fix me. 

 

Off to college I went; my first semester was spent in London, England.  That’s when I really began understanding depression because I felt different in more than just my own mind; my physical self was beginning to have a tough time as well.  It was a very long and dragged out slippery slope, but it was only the beginning of what hell I was about to go through.  When I returned from London, I FINALLY had a word for my overall feeling of being different: Generalized Anxiety Disorder.

 

My third semester of college was in the fall of 2012.  I was going through the motions of being a college student.  Going to class, doing my homework, partying, breaking rules, and “living it up”.  That is far from what I felt like I was doing though, I felt more down and out than ever before.  I began Cognitive Behavioral Therapy with a private therapist near my school.  Then the straw broke the camel’s back. I lost all sense of myself and felt like more of a black sheep in a world of white sheep than I ever had before.

I had a full on mental breakdown my spring semester of 2013.  

 

The crying spells were endless, my appetite nonexistent, and here comes that S word- Suicide was all I could think about.  I didn’t want to be here anymore.  I found the idea of being somewhere other than in my physical body much more beautiful.  I had no plan and did not want to die, but I just wanted to be gone.  I wanted to be in a place where my mind didn’t make things so fucking complicated for me at every second of every day.  

 

I spent 24 hours in a Psychiatric hospital after insisting on going to the ER.  It led to my decision to take the semester off of school and get my feet back on the ground again.  What the actual fuck was I doing?  Here I am about to embarrass my parents for having a kid with a mental illness.  My friends are going to cut me off because who wants to be friends with a crazy girl?  Everyone is going to think that either I have been living a lie or am lying about what I am going through.  I’ll never be able to live my “normal” life again.

 

Oh to have the brain of someone with GAD … Meanwhile, back on the ranch (in Buffalo, not at school), I began to see a Psychiatrist and spent months testing and disputing different medications because I concluded after being in years of therapy, I needed a bit of extra help.

 And so began my road to recovery, a recovery that is lifelong.

 

That was 5 years ago. I was younger then and new to the mental illness club.  (I hate to call it that, a mental illness.  It’s such a degrading and ugly phrase.  You will often hear me refer to it as being different and mental health issues because in my eyes, it’s just like any other illness, but with a not so nice title.)  Every day brings about new obstacles, but every day I am learning what helps me be able to function.

Writing is my love.  I began writing during my semester off from school about my experience and have been writing ever since.  It’s scary as shit talking about something that is not accepted by most of society, but it’s opened up my eyes to how many people I can help by simply sharing my story.  Being consistent with it is not my strong suit, but getting my body moving serves as an instant mood boost.  Some days getting out of bed is what I consider to be exercise, but on other days I go on long walks, do a SoulCycle class, or a virtual workout.

Exercise has never failed to comfort me.

 

There are so many things I can and want to say about my experience living with Generalized Anxiety Disorder and Depression, but I can’t give away every detail that I want to include in my (one day) book.  So I will leave you with an easy to read bulleted list for those struggling with their mental health and those who know someone who is.

 

If it’s YOU:

• You are not alone.  I know first hand that more often than not it feels like you are in isolation, but I promise you are not alone.

• You are allowed to talk about it.  People will always hear what they want to hear and refute what they disagree with.  Guess what – this is your life and not for them to decide how you are supposed to live it.

• Not everyone will understand what you go through day in and day out, and some may not even accept it.  Don’t be discouraged by it.

• You are just as much a human as everybody else.  If others are going to treat you differently for opening up, change your surroundings.

 

If it’s a LOVED ONE:

• Don’t take anything personally.  When you are not wanted around, it has nothing to do with you, and everything to do with how your loved one is feeling.

• Don’t tell without being asked.  Suggesting ways to deal with their mental health to loved ones may seem to be in their best interest, but it’s not the case.  Chances are they have tried everything in the book at one point or another, especially if their diagnosis is nothing new.

• Just be there.  When I am not in a good place, sometimes all I need is someone to physically be there, even if it means sitting on the couch with me in silence. 

• Educate yourself.  It’s hard to relate to something you don’t experience first hand, but there are so many resources available for you to learn more about mental ailments. 

 

Being you is the best you can be.

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Meet Lindsay. This is her Story.

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Meet Lindsay. This is her Story.

Let me start out by introducing myself.

My name is Lindsay Coulter and I’m a wedding and portrait photographer based out of Waterloo.

I’ve always been a happy person. Each report card ever sent home to my parents used words like bubbly, energetic, joyful. I felt grateful for the cushy, “normal” life I had been blessed with. Sure, I worked hard, but I was also very aware that I was lucky. I had two parents who loved me, had completed university, gotten a cat, a dog and had a fiance who loved me. Honestly, everything was falling in to place like some kind of hollywood script. I’m sure I had normal bumps in the road just like anyone else, but really my life was good. I’m sure you’re wondering when the shoe drops, because as my naive self learned, it always does. 


 

In December of 2016 my whole world fell apart. My best friend of 25 years, Kristen, passed away suddenly. I had just gotten home from a Christmas trip to New York with my fiance Taylor, and opened my laptop to a message from a friend of hers in Australia (where she was living) looking for Kristen’s parent’s phone number. My heart sank. I knew that it wasn’t going to be good news. I sat on the couch frozen, unable to type.

Finally a few moments without breathing later I responded and asked her to just tell me what was going on. Kristen and I were like sisters; we had grown up in each other’s homes, we met at daycare when we were less than 2 years old, and had been practically inseparable ever since. Although it was selfish, I just wanted to know she was okay, so I could go on with giving her their number. Eventually they connected, but I knew whatever it was I didn't want to find out over the phone. So Taylor and I drove straight to her parents house.

When we got there, they told us she had died.


That was it.

The world froze.

I went through the many phases of grief - denial, anger, erratic behaviour, sadness, anxiety, extreme fear of losing anyone else, guilt… the books about grieving really had it right.

But what the books about grieving don’t really tell you is how to come out on the other side of it.

I was incredibly grateful for my self-employment in those next few weeks, so I could take some time to process. To be totally honest, I went through a cycle of sleeping, crying, and drinking for a few weeks. It was really strange, it didn’t matter how much I drank, I still felt sober. It was almost like nothing was going to cut through the reality of this loss. 


Luckily for my health and my relationships, that phase only lasted a few weeks. Once I stopped that cycle and realized I needed to continue working and getting up each day, I became numb. I wasn’t happy, I didn’t smile. The only jokes I could make were morbid, and I’m fairly certain most of my friends and family thought I had totally lost my mind. How I kept my business going in 2016, while trying to plan a wedding is nothing short of a miracle. I have no doubt that Kristen was asking the universe to help me out during that time. 


After about 3 months of just merely existing, I decided to go see my doctor. I told her “I don’t have time to feel like this, I need to get back to normal”. (As if anyone has time for this). My doctor gave me a couple of prescriptions, and also referred me to a counsellor. I was happy to have medication to take for when panic attacks took over, but I knew I needed to speak to someone in order to fully move on.

When a 25 year old dies, they don’t leave a neat and tidy package.

They leave a path of pain and destruction and 5 million unanswered questions.

I knew a pill wasn’t going to help. 


So I went to a counsellor. I asked her if I would get myself back. I wanted to know if the happy person I once was would ever come back, to which her answer was “Maybe, maybe not. This might just be your new reality”. *Note, if you’re a counsellor dealing with someone with severe depression, telling someone there’s maybe no way out of this, is definitely not the answer. At our next appointment, she told me I probably just needed to take more naps and drink more water. She obviously hadn’t listened when I told her I was sleeping 8+ hours a day. So I got up in the middle of our session, told her I needed to go for lunch, and never went back.

It was a weird time.


Finally, the light came.

Near the end of 2016 I had agreed to trade services with a personal trainer in the area. She was pregnant with her second daughter, and wanted maternity photos. She knew I had a wedding coming up and wanted to get in shape, so it was the perfect fit. Her baby arrived in May of 2017, and we started training together a few weeks after. She brought Baby T to all of my workouts for the first few months, and her little face was all I needed on the hardest of days. For the first time in 5 months, I was moving. I was getting out of bed at 7, I was putting on clean clothes, and I was seeing progress. Not just physically, but emotionally. 


 

I worked through my fears of having a wedding without her by my side, of losing another loved one, or dealing with any other kind of tragedy.

I had no idea that lifting weights and running would be all the therapy I would need.

I had been a yoga instructor throughout university, so I knew there was power in movement, but yoga wasn’t calling to me this time. I needed to feel strong. I needed to believe in my body. I needed to appreciate my health and not take it for granted like I had been. I needed to feel connected to the shell that carried me around- since the trauma of losing Kristen it had felt like a foreign entity.


I listened to my body, and forced my mind to play along.

Alicia and I trained together 2-3 times a week, every week, and we haven’t stopped since. What started as something I wanted to do to look nice in a wedding dress became something I needed to do to be a great partner to my now-husband, a better friend, and effective business owner. My clients needed me to show up to their wedding as the joyful, bubbly, happy person they hired a year and a half before, and I needed that girl back too. 


The idea of not only losing Kristen but losing myself was something I couldn’t manage. I couldn’t control Kristen’s death, but I could fight to get myself back.

And so I did. That was the beginning of finding myself, not the previous version but a newer version of myself. This new version of me still cries almost daily, and misses her girl like crazy. But this new version is also grateful with a new sense of awareness.

Before I was grateful for the life I had, but now I’m grateful having known loss, and having fought through it.

In December Kristen will have been gone for two years, and it still feels like it was just a few months ago. I will not pretend to know the answers to loss or trauma, but I will say that the advice given to me over and over again “one step at a time, one foot in front of the other” is exactly what got me through. 


 

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RxRun Documentary!

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RxRun Documentary!

This past month I had the opportunity to watch RxRun before it was released to the public- it's a documentary that follows the stories of Emily, Tom, and Mackenzie as they take back their lives from mental illness through a running program created by clinician Dan McGann.

This doc is a MUST-SEE. These are real people struggling with real-life things. It's humanizing. I found myself tearing up at multiple points throughout the video because they are so open and honest with where they are at and what they are experiencing but are also willing to fight to make a change + to keep moving forward.

The main focus of the doc is to highlight the positive relationship between running and mental health.

The documentary is now released digitally through iTunes, Amazon, and Google Play and was also accepted to the Running Film Festival in Buenos Aires, Argentina (this screening will take place in November).

Trailer is below!

Links to watch the full Doc are here:

iTunes

https://itunes.apple.com/ca/movie/rxrun/id1398708634

 

Amazon

http://a.co/7ggBBg3

 

Google Play

https://play.google.com/store/movies/details?id=6WPKzZgYpB4

If you have any questions or comments please don't hesitate to reach out to me or to Bruce Baklarian, the director at @rxrundoc

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Move to Heal x Bootcamps for Change

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Move to Heal x Bootcamps for Change

This is a little background on how Movement has positively affected me, and why I whole-heartedly believe in organizations like Bootcamps for Change.

Read on :)

I have always been drawn to Movement.

There's a box with all my drawings in it at my Mom’s house from when I was a child. The majority of them are of me, standing on an Olympic podium with medals around my neck.

I loved the feeling of freedom I had when I was moving through the water. I was determined to be an Olympic swimmer. In the water, I felt unstoppable. I also had stamina; I wasn't the fastest swimmer but I could outlast everyone. Over time, the pool became a place where I could let go of my day; I could just be.

I wanted so badly to continue swimming, but we couldn't afford it. I was heartbroken. A few weeks after I stopped swimming, I ran 1500m as a warmup in gym class before we started playing soccer. I felt my body come alive. I remember running up to my gym teacher, breathless, begging her to let me keep racing the clock on the track instead of playing soccer. Every day after that, after the final school bell rang I'd head down to the track and just run laps. Keep in mind- back then, we didn't have cell phones or ipods- it was just me, my breath, the track, my thoughts. It was such a release.


I think I must have been drawn to swimming and running early on because of the chaos that was happening around me when I was a child and teenager. I began to experience severe bouts of depression mixed with high anxiety as I moved into my 20's.

I completed my Yoga Teacher Training in 2010 and it was honestly the first time in my life when I realized that I was in charge of my body; I was in charge of how I could move it, when I wanted to move it, what I could do with it. It was so empowering.

My life up until that point had been so external- I was constantly thinking about other people, looking at their actions and how they were reacting to me because I was always on guard and trying to protect myself. I began to use Movement to help me because it was the only way I knew how to help myself. Through my worst periods of anxiety, I ran. When I was depressed, I walked. When the panic attacks happened, I did yoga.

Fast forward years later- I ended up starting The Move to Heal Project, an organization that focuses on fitness as an additional aid for anything mental health related. It’s also a place where people can share their own stories, where they can learn how to fuel the body properly, and also a place where they can find valuable resources in and around the GTA.

I was in Calgary two years ago opening a restaurant, training an entire service team of people. Sometimes people would fail to complete the tasks we had assigned them (Hang on- this is relevant!)

My boss pulled me aside and said that in these moments we, as trainers, had to ask ourselves 2 things:

Do they know what the task entails? Do they have the tools to complete the task? If I answered No to either of these questions, I had to go back and try a new approach.

I love this, and I think it can completely apply beyond the restaurant industry.

For example: What about the people that want to get physically stronger but don't know how to go about doing it? What about the people that want to run but don't have shoes? What about the people that are curious about nutrition but have no idea how to fuel their body properly?

We are so lucky. We take so many basic things we have access to for granted. Some people don't have that.

I recently connected with two amazing women that are removing barriers in regards to affording organized sports and fitness programming: Katie Heggtveit and Kam Kuzminski of Bootcamps for Change.

I love what Bootcamps for Change is doing because they are driving conversation on things that need to continually be talked about and they are also taking action on the things that need to be changed for youth in Canada.

Katie Heggtveit, the co-founder of BFC, volunteered for 10 years with homeless youth in Canada and abroad. Kam Kuzminski was a guidance counsellor and teacher for at-risk youth for 10 years in Saskatchewan and pursued her Masters in Educational Psychology to fulfill her passion to work with marginalized youth.

Once Katie began to notice there was not enough fitness and nutrition programs in shelters, she joined forces with Kam and together they took action.

Now, BFC strives to provide in-shelter fitness programs for marginalized youth in Canada with the end goal of hiring them as paid employees of Bootcamps for Change under a canfitpro certification scholarship.

I love this because it directly breaks an old cycle and implements a new, impactful one. It provides marginalized youth with the tools they need to succeed. It provides them with the knowledge of how to build new foundations to stand on in order to do so.

HOW AMAZING IS THAT.

The reason I shared a little bit of my story today is because the ability to exercise in a community actually change my life- it had a huge ripple effect on my own mental health and physical health. I don't know that I would be where I am today without it. And the thing is- this should be accessible for EVERYONE! But unfortunately it's not.

Everyone that knows me knows how much I get pumped up talking about the benefits of exercise on Mental Health (I could go on and on here)- and knowing that Katie and Kam are leading this change for youth in poverty and in the shelter system makes me stand up, cheer, and applaud them because it is so, so needed.


WANT TO GET INVOLVED?

Contact Katie Heggtveit and Kam Kuzminski personally:

“Katie Heggtveit”: +647-244-0097

“Kam Kuzminski”: +306-501-1510

info@bootcampsforchange.com

 

Volunteer at their In-Shelter Fitness Programming:

Monday's: 3:30pm

Wednesday's: 3:30pm

Friday's: 1:30pm

 

CHECK OUT THEIR INSTAGRAM: @BootcampsforChange


Or DM me for more details!!





 

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Meet Becca. This is her Story

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Meet Becca. This is her Story

I move, I breathe, I feel, I heal.

I repeat.

By Bec Isaacs

When I think about my life, I see so many chapters. Chapters of love, of loss, of pain, of joy, of trauma, of heartache and heartbreak. Chapters of insecurity and doubt, pride and passion, strength and weakness. Chapters of being somewhere in between all of these things. But all of these chapters have made me who I am today, and all of these chapters have helped me appreciate that person. The thing is, there has always been one common thread in each of these chapters. A thread that has helped me deal with life. A thread that has helped me heal. A thread that at certain times, was the only thing keeping me alive.

This thread transformed my life, and continues to support me today. It has taught me about strength, patience, failure, discipline, acceptance, vulnerability, and joy. It has been the key player in minimizing chronic pain in my body, which has contributed to the happy and healthy life I live today.

This thread, is movement.

This is my story.

I was a mover my whole life. When I was younger I was a dancer, a gymnast, a skier, snowboarder, soccer player and some would have said, a free spirit. I was the kid who was running around and climbing trees in the forest every time I had the chance. I even had reoccurring dreams that I could fly (I still have these dreams today). Basically, I was always moving.

In 2007 I got pretty sick. I spent two years in and out of pain and depression. I was low in energy. I spent more time with my toilet than with my friends. My weeks consisted of headaches, migraines and emotional episodes. I was bloated, malnourished, and my energy had flatlined. I was on a soccer scholarship at university and was struggling to perform. I was struggling to even get out of bed. Soccer wasn’t the only thing that suffered, I was having trouble in school and couldn’t engage properly in personal relationships. I wasn’t myself. I was so under-nourished I felt paralysed.  It got to a point where I could hardly walk or see...speech was difficult, and every muscle and bone in my body was aching as if it was about to explode. After some tests, observation and re-hydration, the doctors told me I had celiac disease, an autoimmune disorder that is much more commonly known today, and relatively easy to mange with dietary techniques.

While all of this was happening I was also dealing with daily headaches. In fact, I didn’t know what it felt like spend a whole day headache free. The headaches became migraines 2-3 times per week, and I had excessive pain in my jaw. This pain was part of my life consistently for seven years and onward. A some point throughout those seven years I was diagnosed with TMJD, an umbrella term for pain and discomfort in the muscles responsible for moving the jaw, and the muscles that connect the jaw to the skull. It was torture.

Needless to say, I was in pain. I was laughing less, my eyes were dull and lifeless, and although I was doing my best to enjoy life despite the physical distress I was experiencing in my body, the headaches made it impossible to participate in the world.

During this time I went through an ass-kicking of a break up. It kicked my ass so hard that I felt like I never learned how to breathe, and that I would never breathe again. But deep down I knew I would breathe again. In fact, I knew I was still breathing... even though it felt really really hard. Whatever this feeling was, I wanted to beat it. I wanted to heal.

And then the yoga happened.

I had been to some yoga classes before, but it was mostly for exercise. So when I decided to get back on the mat, I wasn’t really sure what I was doing or why. But I got on the mat, and moved my body based on what I interpreted from the teachers instructions, and something felt different. I was starting to understand the practice a little more and my body felt so at ease after every class that I kept going back for more. The movement also reminded me of my days as a dancer, which made me feel joyful.

After the break up I made a commitment to myself that every time I felt anger or pain, or resentment.. I would go to yoga. I also promised myself every time I wanted to text my ex, I would go to yoga instead. Let’s just say I went to yoga... a lot.

After some serious time on the mat, life decided to kick my ass again. My aunt who I was very close with was losing her battle to cancer. My father’s memory was starting to fail him, and my headaches and migraines were becoming increasingly debilitating. With everything that was going on, I knew I needed to move home. When my father’s Alzheimer’s diagnosis became official, there was no question that it was the right thing to do.

I packed up, moved home. And my days looked a little something like this.

Wake up. Go to yoga. Go to the hospital for the afternoon to be by my aunts side. Go to work. Go to party and make questionable decisions. Go to sleep. Repeat.

The questionable decisions started to overtake the yoga. I was losing my practice and myself. I was sad, angry and heartbroken. I was in physical and emotional pain and I was losing the two most important people in my life. I just couldn’t seem to find my own two feet.

I remember this chapter so clearly. My aunt passed away, I was trying to hold onto my dad while trying to hold my mother together in her state of denial and emotional collapse, and my life that was spinning out of control. I made some horrible decisions. I wasn’t taking care of my body or my heart. I lost my passion, my pride and I wasn’t getting on my mat. It was clear I had lost my way.

I remember driving around the city one day, my eyes full of tears, thinking “how could all of this possibly be happening? ... and then saying to myself “you don’t even have it that bad!” This was the conversation in my head for a while...it went back and forth, back and forth. I stopped paying attention to what I was doing so I pulled over and parked the car. Wiped my tears and looked out the window. I had parked right in front of the yoga studio. It was clear what I needed to do.

It was that very moment that I decided to shift my victim mentality from “why is this happening to me” to “this is happening, so get your shit together and figure out how are you going to deal with it”. I had lost my aunt, I was losing my dad, my mom was falling apart... I didn’t want to lose myself too. I knew I needed to move my body.

I gave away the only pack of cigarettes I ever owned... I had it stashed in my drawer from one of the nights I had one too many drinks. I decided to stop having one too many drinks. I decided to stop feeling sorry for myself, renewed my yoga membership despite the cost, and committed to loving myself so I could start helping my family (which was the whole reason I moved home in the first place). I knew in order to help them, I needed to stop hurting myself first.

Things started to shift. I started taking my yoga more seriously. There were days where nothing made sense... except for yoga. So I went back to the mat and moved, every single day, over and over again. Before every practice I would say mentally to myself “ I move, I breathe, I feel, I heal”.

I was getting stronger. I was becoming more patient. I was clearer and more motivated. My headaches and jaw pain were still prevalent but I was more able to manage the pain because of the benefits of my consistent yoga practice. I would move, and things would just feel better.

Now lets fast forward to 2015. I had been through the ringer with specialists and doctors back in Canada to try and figure out how to manage my headaches and jaw pain, nothing was working. What I really wanted to do was see the world. So I left home, traveled through Asia for a while and then spent a year in Australia. I was still practicing yoga, but not in a consistent way. But in June of 2015 a friend of mine set me up with the Byron Yoga Centre, where I lived for 3 months. I woke up every day, and moved my body. I was spending anywhere from 4-6 hours a day on my mat. I was under the guidance of some incredibly experienced teachers, and I was starting to understand that the physical part of the practice was simply the gateway into something much bigger. Something shifted, and I began practicing CONSCIOUSLY. For the first time in my practice I was fully aware of my movements and my breath. I was slowing down and tuning into my body. I was listening. I was moving enough that I could be still. It was like I was dancing the pain out of my body, one posture, transition, and breath at a time.

I ventured back to Canada and realized that I had been headache free for a period of time without realizing it. The pain in my jaw had subsided, and my eyes started to shine. I felt lighter, and stronger at the same time. Since then I have been back and forth between Canada and Australia, and have had a consistent daily practice of asana (postures), pranayama (breathing techniques), and meditation. I move my body every single day, in a conscious, loving and nourishing way. Some days I push, some days I pull back, but I move, every day.

Here’s the thing... my yoga practice hasn’t healed my pain completely and it doesn’t promise me a pain free life. It hasn’t brought my aunt back, or reversed my father’s Alzheimer’s disease. It also hasn’t erased all of the poor decisions I’ve made in my life or the heartbreaks I have experienced. What my yoga practice has done is taught me how to breathe. It’s taught me that although I will never be able to control what happens around me, I can control what happens within me, which means I can control how I respond to life when it is challenging AF. The physical benefits of the practice have given me enough space from my pain to get to know myself as a human being, instead of as the shell of the human being that I was. It also helps me appreciate the days I am pain free even more, while doing my best to honour the days I am not.

Although there have been many factors to my healing, the consistent thread that I keep coming back to is movement, and for me that is yoga. Conscious movement has literally saved me from a life pain. It is my therapy, my best friend, and my lifeline. It is the biggest and brightest tool I have which has lead me to a life of inspiration, pleasure, joy, and purpose.

Today, I am a certified yoga teacher, spending a lot of my time studying and exploring functional movement patterns so I can teach others how to move functionally and consciously in their own unique bodies. I directly recognize the power of this process through my own experiences, and I hope that my story will inspire others to do the same.

 

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Meet Nolan. This is his Story

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Meet Nolan. This is his Story

I’ve always felt a bit sad; Not the 'breaking up with your first love'/ 'not receiving the mark you thought you deserved' kind of sadness, but a sadness that I can only describe as a rotting feeling that plagued my entire perception of happiness.
 
                  When I was in high school, the words 'depression' and 'anxiety' were terms most definitely not universally used to describe the mental agony people could feel. Instead, they were used as placeholders for when students were feeling a sense of nerve or disappointment.
 
“Ugh. I’m so depressed. This gives me anxiety,” became a sentence I became far too familiar with.
 
During this time, the best example actually came from my parents when I told them that I was sad but couldn’t explain why:
 
“Son. You’re just in a rut. You’re fine and you’ll get out of it. Depression isn’t real,”
 
With stigmas surrounding these words, where did it leave the small margin of people who actually identified with these forms of mental health?
 
I carried this feeling of deep uncertainty inside me for years. It wasn’t until I moved out of my parents’ house and fled to Toronto when I accepted that I was living with both depression and anxiety. Over the years I had spent countless moments buried in self-loathing, emptiness, exhaustion, frustration, and pain. There was once a point when I wouldn’t even allow myself to feel happiness because I was convinced that it was temporary and unrealistic. As I'm writing this, my mind is running 1000KM/h and my fingers are flying across my keyboard; even I’m in disbelief that I have felt this way too many times over.
 
Although my mental health latches on like weights on my shoulders every single day, today I am a stronger person.
 
The key to a resilient and fit mind is treating your body in the same respect. Although I have been boxing on-and-off since I was 11, I dove heavily back into the art when I began to feel myself slipping away like sand through my fingers—contained yet falling beyond control. For the first six months getting back into it, I vividly remember mentally projecting myself at the end of each jab; each hook; each over-hand right; hoping to beat my demons out from within. I was frustrated. Mad. Hurting. I wanted change so badly.
 
Through boxing I restored my body with discipline, a hard-work ethic, drive, passion, and purpose. Today I am reminded of all these things: I AM FUCKING STRONG. I AM A WARRIOR. AND NOT A GOD DAMN PERSON WILL EVER TAKE THAT AWAY FROM ME. To my friends who seek change mentally and physically, TOMORROW IS TODAY. Get after it. Move your body. Every day is your chance to make things count.
 
-n

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Meet Kylie. This is her Story.

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Meet Kylie. This is her Story.

Below Ky shares her story of MRKH- a rare disease affecting only 1 in 5000 women- and how she found her way back to her body through dance by @kyliemc

I was active growing up. I was a figure skater, I played soccer, and then later in my teens I got into dance. Movement was always a huge part of my life. I went to a performing arts high school and then went on to pursue my passion of performing, acting, and musical theatre in college. Life derailed for me in about my third year of college, when I was 20 years old. At 20 years old, I still didn’t have a period. My family doctor at the time didn’t find this odd - my mom had started her period late and I had been under weight for quite of bit of high school, so she didn’t didn’t seem to find it unusual that I didn’t have my period. My mom pushed for tests to be done to figure out what was going on. After a series of appointments, ultrasounds, and MRIs, I was referred to a gynaecologist who ultimately made the diagnosis. I have MRKH, or Mayer-Rokitansky-Kuster-Hauser Syndrome.

 

MRKH affects 1 in 5000 women and it essentially means I was born without a fully formed vagina (only a small 1-2 inch opening where a vagina should be), no cervix, no uterus and wouldn't ever carry or potentially have my own children. Standing in front of my walls as I share this information publicly is something I always hoped to have the courage to do, but I still cannot express the mad vulnerability I feel as I type this. To be completely honest, I didn’t know if I would ever share my story with more than a few people. The irony is, MRKH was nicknamed “The Silent Disease” for exactly that reason. Because of the embarrassment, the fear, the disgust, the sadness, and all of the complicated emotions wrapped up in this diagnosis, women and girls don’t speak up about it. As a result, no one really knows it exists. Even many medical professionals I encountered over the years had never heard of it. With MRKH, you have two options when it comes to creating a vagina. You can opt for surgery, which is not performed in Canada, and about 6 months of recovery afterward. The other option is to stretch the “dimple” that already exists with a dilation process that can take anywhere from three to eighteen months, requiring 20-30 minutes of physical therapy daily.

 

This is where I spiralled out. All I wanted was to suck it up, do my daily dilation, form my own vagina and get on with my life, but I couldn’t do it. Every time I went to do my 30 mins of physical therapy, I couldn’t bring myself to do it, because it was mental torture every single time. I would break down in tears because this process would remind me that I wasn’t like everyone else and I felt like a freak that would never be intimate with anyone. It was a vicious circle of wanting to be “normal” but not being able to bring myself to push past my demons and actually get it done. There was no light at the end of the tunnel for me at this point.

 

Sharing this part of my story shines a light on one of the most vulnerable times in my life. It’s funny, even my best friend, one of the only people that knew about my diagnosis besides my family, didn't know MRKH had anything to do with not having a vagina/cervix. I only told them I didn’t have a uterus, didn’t have a period, and couldn’t have children because it seemed less embarrassing than explaining the full truth. That’s so crazy! I couldn’t even share the full truth with people I felt comfortable enough to confide in in the first place!

 

Sex is one of the most intimate and personal aspects of someone’s life and to be told that I had severe physical barriers around that in my young twenties just isolated me completely. I didn’t want to get close enough to be intimate with anyone because I was so grossly embarrassed that I wasn’t like everyone else. If I did let myself get close to someone, I was so mentally removed because I was just too concerned and horrified that they might realize that “something was off” or “I wasn’t normal”. I was ashamed and confused and I disconnected with my body because I didn’t want this diagnosis to be true. In turn, I tried to control so many other aspects of my life, because in my view I’d had the most personal and intimate part of me ripped away in one diagnosis.

 

In the few years after my diagnosis, I didn’t even realize how intensely disconnected I had become. My body was being dragged along for some ride and I put myself through hell and back because of my choices in those years. I was so removed because I was avoiding my own truth…and let me tell you, you can’t hide from you. It is always with you and trying to run from something inside you will never work. It will only put you through torment. You HAVE to look into yourself and face every bit of you that you might be hiding from. You can’t be your authentic self until you have the courage to dig deep. And oh man, it took a lot of courage and a lot of time for me to slowly start healing.

 

Breaking down physical and mental barriers, getting on with my appointments and physical therapy - that took work. Once I began to climb that mental mountain of accepting my MRKH and learning to love what made me me was really when I could feel that mind/body/spirit connection sparking up again. It was at this point in my journey that I really felt a special connection to movement come into the picture. My healing through movement started with fitness and then with dance. With fitness, I could feel how my body was working with me. I felt strong - both physically and mentally. As far as really connecting with movement and gaining the confidence I have today, I owe that to joining AOS Toronto! Army of Sass is a heels dance training group for all different levels. When I started going to these classes and reconnecting with dance, I felt like myself again. I was letting my body express only through movement, trusting to not judge myself, and most of all learning to own my confidence as a woman.

 

And holy shit! That felt incredible! It felt like being able to truly love myself. Movement brought me back into my body, which brought my body, mind and soul together in a way I had never imagined possible. I experienced genuine self-love that I didn’t know I could achieve. When I turned inward and finally said to my body and to myself “I will love you as you are and everything you’ve been through. I’ll treat you with the respect you deserve. I’ll fight for you and with you - not against you,” is when everything changed for me. That’s when I was able to release what I had been fighting for so long. Reconnecting with movement and my body absolutely saved my life. It opened the door to self-love, and healing, and a life that I am proud to live everyday. I fought to be the person I am and, holy hell, I am so proud of the person that I’ve become!

 

For me now, movement plays such a huge role in my life and it is so therapeutic. Movement offers a place of healing - letting me feel and process emotions that my body understands on a deeper level than I ever will. I’ve always felt emotions so deeply in me that there were never words I could string together to do those emotions justice (any fellow Scorpios out there feel me on that?!). Being in my body gives me an outlet to express, process, and move through things that mentally analyzing them never will. Sometimes, the only thing that makes sense to me is to dance is out, to move… and that’s what this video was. The song “In My Blood” by Shawn Mendes came on while I was starting to do dishes. The music immediately spoke to the emotions I had been feeling within myself, and it just felt right to let them live. I put the music on and just let myself improv to it. Is it perfect? No, but who cares? It doesn’t need to be, and knowing that and believing that is freedom in and of itself.

 

Did I hit my ceiling light on in the middle of my improv? Of course I did ha! But that’s what improv is all about and hey, like life it’s all about loving the expected and the unexpected and learning how to make it work for you. It is easy to feel isolated or alone…know that you are never alone. No matter how scary it is to step up and be vulnerable, use that courage and step into your light. Your story is your magic - it’s your power - it’s what makes you you. If one person out there reads my story and finally feels like someone else understands or someone else shares their experience or just for one minute doesn’t feel alone… that’s all I can ever ask for.  

 

If you do want to know more about MRKH, these are some great sites and articles:

 

 

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Meet Lauren. This is her story

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Meet Lauren. This is her story

I am a woman. And one thing I know for sure, we women have a special war we wage against ourselves. Body image, self love, acceptance. The struggle is real and society wants a lot from us. For as long as I can remember, I have been my worst critic and downright enemy. 

Going through your 20s is turbulent, beautiful, and fucking crazy. I discovered yoga in University. It was an emotional time when I first stepped on my mat, and I was ignoring my pain. I think that was the first time I really noticed my breath, or how I moved. I started listening to my body... slowly... and then, suddenly.... sending her little love notes. I couldn't believe how much of a difference a one hour practice had on my mood and mindset. I was kinder, happier, more grounded.

I never want to give the impression that taking a yoga class will solve your life problems and make you like Gandhi ..I still struggle with giving myself the same loving I give to others. But, it helps...oh how it helps! When I am feeling off, I strap on my running shoes or unroll my mat, and suddenly things feel a little better.

Movement is the medicine I know my body and soul need, and ultimately it connects me to myself.

When I move now, I love to recognize the way my body shows up for me DAILY...even when I chastise her for not fitting into a certain pair of jeans.

I am running...thank you legs for taking me places

I am downward dogging....thank you arms for holding space

I am stretching...thank you breath for always being there

 

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Meet Gillian. This is her Story

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Meet Gillian. This is her Story

As the Move to Heal Project begins to unfold, I've found myself reaching out to a lot of people that I have met at different points in my life.

Someone once told me that the energy you put out will attract similar energy, and as time goes on I am beginning to believe in that whole-heartedly.

I met Gillian and her friend Marisa filming the Food Network a few years ago, and both of them still continue to inspire me to be the best version of myself.

Below, Gillian shares how she began 2018- committing to do yoga every day for 365 days- and how it is helping her find clarity + surrender amidst the heaviness.

 

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I recently surrendered to the mat.

 

December got heavy for me. Life forced me to re-evaluate myself, my decisions, my past and my goals.

 

As one does, I kept myself busy and dismissed self questioning in exchange for Christmas parties and heavy pours of wine.

 

By the end of it all, I was ready to get clear. Yoga had been sneaking into my life subtly but the voice inside of me was getting louder:

“Make it a practice.”

 

And when a bourbon infused version of myself declared boldly on New Year’s Eve “I’m going to do 365 days of yoga!” I took my hungover limbs to yoga the next day, and decided that since I am a woman of my word, I would do exactly that.

 

When you get clear about what you want, you get it. So when I reached out to my favorite yoga studio and owner, and asked if I could work in exchange for classes, she welcomed the idea.

 

I realized that first day that yoga with a hangover really sucks.

 

I also remembered from previous times practicing that it always took away from the depth of my practice. When I was treating my body right on all accounts, I was able to get into the postures and my meditation on a whole new level.

 

So like any all or nothing gal (I live to self-experiment), I decided I would also cut out alcohol and coffee. At least for the first 30 days of my #365daysofyoga.

 

I can only describe the first two weeks as ugly but beautiful.

 

Whenever I do any kind of “detox” I always feel like crap at first. Normally, during this time, I hide from the world. But I was committed. So there I was on days when I was severely depressed, bloated, gassy, stinky from sweating it all out...you name it. I was there. Awkwardly unwinding my body and surrendering to the mat. I held back tears in child’s pose. I laughed. I felt embarrassed and I felt proud.

 

But no matter what I was going through physically or emotionally, I always left feeling calm and centered. I also found warmth in the community of the studio, appropriately called “Union”, and a sense of belonging I hadn’t felt since I moved to California.

 

One night after class my favorite yoga teacher looked at me before leaving and said, “You inspire me. You show up every day.” And I felt so humbled that even this wounded version of myself could somehow inspire.

 

I’m on day 17 now. They say it takes 21 days to make a habit, so I’m almost there.

 

Every day is different. Every class is different. I’m always humbled and fascinated by where my body and mind will take me. Some days it is (almost) effortless. Most days I struggle with my ego and remind myself not to compare my practice to others. But every day I leave feeling better. I am more and more mentally free. I am more and more me.

 

One of my teachers describes yoga as returning to your most natural state of being, and I couldn’t describe it any better way.

 

I am so grateful for this surrender. To the mat. To myself. To finding some inner peace during challenging times in such a sweet way. 

 

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Gillian Young Barkalow is my beautiful, wonderful friend and also a Health & Fitness Coach that is doing some pretty amazing stuff.

Find her on Instagram: @gybstrength

AND check out her 4 week online workshop that she'll be doing this February (details in the poster below!)

 

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Meet Cassie. This is her Story

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Meet Cassie. This is her Story

I always laugh a little when people ask how I got into running around so much.

The reason I laugh is because I used to hate running; I thought it was only something you did when you were chasing something (like a bus or a Frisbee) or if you were being chased (mostly from anyone trying to tickle me or defending me in sport).

The reality is that it took being broken to make me actually WANT to run. A complete rupture of my Achilles tendon six years ago made me want what I couldn't do. To walk. To run. As I healed I found a joy in the freedom of movement that I had never felt before.

This experience of finding freedom in running was an essential grounding point years later as I suffered through being mentally broken- ridden with anxiety and drowning in depression.

The rhythmic motion of my internal breath, heart, and external limbs combined with the discomfort and (eventual) high of relief was really the only thing that made me feel human. I began to run longer distances over more challenging terrain- up to 100km in the mountains- as I struggled and found peace in the meditation, making friends with my suffering.

While physically and mentally I am in a much better place today, I continue to believe I am in this place because I know how to ground myself in movement. Running has taught me, and continues to teach me, this lesson. If I can make friends with my discomfort, the world becomes a less scary place and things that once seemed impossible become possible again

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Follow Cass and her Run Adventures on Instagram @cassieshirley

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Waking up During the Night? This can mean different things depending on the time!

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Waking up During the Night? This can mean different things depending on the time!

So- I am a frequent night-waker. It's rare that I get through the night without waking up multiple times. This has been something that has been happening with me for years- and also something I've never really given much thought to. I've always chalked it up to not being able to shut my brain off before bed.

I've had so many conversations about so many things with my amazing and intelligent friend, Dr. Camille Krause- and this came up in one of our chats awhile back. I had NO idea waking up at different times in the night could mean different things.

In regards to the Move to Heal Project- a big learning component for me over the years has been looking at how to love and care for myself. Getting a good nights sleep definitely falls into this category, which is why I wanted to share it here.

If you're wanting more info on Dr. Camille Krause, you can find her info under our FEEL TO HEAL page, as well as through the link at the bottom of this article.

Happy Sleeping :)

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Dr. Camille Krause, ND

So, you're waking up in the night?
 
Different times of waking can actually mean different problems. Sorting these problems out is the type of thing I do daily with my patients to get them sleeping through the night. 

(I'd love to share some of this information with you below!)
 
2am Wake Time

If you start waking up at 2am, the likely culprit is blood sugar.

When blood sugar gets too low the body thinks it’s a matter of survival and will send out alarm signals.
The alarm signals are sent out as adrenaline, which may feel like different things depending on the person:
Some people may feel this as being wired and wide awake in the middle of the night without knowing why, without anxiety or hunger signals.
Some people may also feel ravenous in the middle of the night.
Other people may experience this as sweating, jitteriness, heart palpitations - ie, anxiety!

START NOW:
Try a snack before bed. Something that includes fat, fibre, and protein. The easiest example would be a small handful of nuts.
Balancing your blood sugar through the whole day is also important!


Alcohol

This pattern of 2am waking is also seen in some people when they have had alcohol in the evening. Alcohol causes blood sugar to rise and then drop off suddenly within a 1-3 hour span.
The type of alcohol doesn’t necessarily matter – so even though wine actually has very little carbohydrates, it’s not the sugar that is causing a blood sugar spike, it’s the body’s response to alcohol.
 
START NOW:
See if you notice a pattern of whether your sleep is affected by alcohol. 

 

5am Wake Time (or, 1-2 hours before your alarm)

the likely culprit here is cortisol.

This means you're feeling wired (as if it's time to start the day) even though your alarm hasn't gone off yet.
Cortisol is known as a stress hormone, but it’s also an integral part of our circadian rhythm.  It’s our "get-up-and-go hormone", and helps us feel awake and alert throughout the course of the day.
You may notice that if you sleep in past this early morning wakeup, you actually feel more drained and groggy – because the cortisol is no longer as high and helping with alertness.


The goal is to calm down the cortisol overnight, so that it isn't overactive in the early mornings, and lets the person get those restful last few hours of sleep – then have cortisol be available to them during the day, when they need it to focus!
 
START NOW:
Many things calm down cortisol before bed, including exercise (earlier in the day), mindfulness, no screens or stimulating content before bed, and a bedtime routine that shakes off the thoughts of a busy day.   

If you are waking throughout the night, and the times aren't constant, there is more complexity to the issue - but of course it is still solvable!

Nighttime waking may be related to hot flashes, progesterone deficiency, or serotonin deficiency, as a few examples.
 
Lastly, if someone is waking multiple times in the night to use the washroom, this could mean they are not sleeping DEEPLY enough.


The body should be able ignore signals of a full bladder (within reason), while still maintaining sphincter function, and allow you to sleep.
If those bladder signals are making it to your conscious mind, you are sleeping too lightly!  I use the number of nighttime trips to the bathroom as a marker for how deeply someone is sleeping. We cannot always increase how long you sleep for, but we can certainly improve sleep quality.


START NOW:
Track your sleep and your wake times. Note how many times you’re using the washroom in the night, and whether you’re able to fall back asleep easily when you do wake.  
Do you notice what wakes you up in the first place?


With regard to the root cause of your different wake-up times, both the

1) 2 am pattern of blood sugar dysregulation AND
2) 5 am cortisol dysregulation

can also be rooted in burnout.  Burnout can be treated!  Sleep is a foundation for all the other hormones and biochemistry of the body to work properly. When someone is able to sleep deeply through the night, their body can function better on many different levels.

Often tracking the pattern is a helpful place to start, and a healthcare practitioner can better guide what those patterns mean, and what to do about it.


You’ll find more information on burnout atwww.FatigueFixWaterloo.com

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Meet Lauren. This is her Story

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Meet Lauren. This is her Story

I stole my first yoga DVD from Target when I was 17.

 

I would drive down to Children’s Hospital in Seattle for my weekly outpatient treatment, and on the way back I would take a detour.

 

I had chosen outpatient over inpatient and was happy to have my license and my supposed freedom. At 17 I decided that my freedom was best used up in seeing how much random shit I could take from Target without getting caught.

 

I found out, the answer was a lot of random shit.

 

Shampoo, conditioner, make up, random shirts that weren’t even my size, shoes still in their cardboard box, etc. I would walk in, fill up my purse, and walk out. Just like that. Then I would head home and bask in my new collection. Unload, lose, donate, or sell —and the process would repeat.

 

One day, I stumbled upon a Rodney Yee Yoga DVD. I do not remember what I knew of yoga. Or why I wanted the DVD. But I grabbed it, put it in my purse, and walked out. That night at home, I shut my door and inserted the DVD. Within the four walls of my room, I started to replicate what he was doing. The foreign shapes his body was making, the foreign way the breath would move through his body.

 

My nights would continue as followed. I would have to eat my meal in front of my mom. I wasn’t allowed to be alone for the hour following. I had to be checked for self harm scars following my nightly showers. And then I had my freedom. But instead of stealing, I chose Rodney.  

 

And I kept coming back.

 

Fast forward to college I still practiced yoga and I was still quite deep in my eating disorder.

 

Most importantly, I still had no idea why I kept coming back to yoga. But despite the restricting, the purging, the sleeping with guys, and the drinking—I still practiced yoga.

 

I never knew that I could have control over my body. For the majority of my life, my body was controlled by the people around me.

 

How to dress.

How to move.

What to do.

 

I was a doll.

Their doll.

 

I do not steal anymore. I do not purge anymore. I do not cut anymore. I do not hook up with random guys just to feel needed anymore.

 

But, I still do yoga. It has been a constant in my life since I was 17.

 

Present day, I either teach yoga or practice yoga daily. And I although I consider myself recovered, the days I struggle are the days I need yoga the most.

 

Yoga taught me how to breathe.

Yoga taught me that my body is my body.

Yoga taught me that the simple inhale

And exhale

Is enough to ignite a flame.

 

I had to continue pressing forward. I had to continue my search for peace. I had to continue the search for my breath.

 

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Find Lauren on Instagram: @thesimplestself

Find Lauren Online: www.thesimplestself.com

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Hello World!

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Hello World!

Welcome to the Move to Heal Project! 

Let me tell you a bit about who we are and how we came to be.

The Move to Heal Project was born with the idea to create a space that I really wanted- and needed- a few years ago but did not exist. 

My mom always told me that I came out of the womb worrying. Looking back on my childhood and into my teenage years I can say with certainty there was never a time when I didn't feel afraid. Even in happy moments it always felt like something terrible was about to happen.

I realize now this was because I was in the throes of experiencing long-term trauma. I never knew calm because my baseline was angst. Coupled with angst I began to experience bouts of depression. I eventually was diagnosed withComplex Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, which is what I still live with today.

Through my worst periods of anxiety and depression, I always seemed to turn to movement to buoy me. When I was anxious, I ran. When I was depressed, I walked. When the panic attacks happened, I did yoga.

Even if it was just five minutes I always felt a little, tiny bit better. I realize now, there is so much power in simply moving our bodies.

At the lowest of my low, I wanted an online space to access that openly talked about mental health, but also one that was pro-active. All I wanted was something to hold on to; something tangible that I could work with.  I wanted to hear stories of other people going through the same thing. I wanted ideas as to how things could get better; how I could help make them better. I wanted community. I wanted to feel less alone. 

These are the bones of the MTH project.

The MTH project is an online space that encourages movement as an aid for any mental health related issue. It is community focused- because we are stronger when we share our stories. It is also a space to learn about nutrition and fuel- everything our bodies need as they are healing.

Movement, nutrition, and community seem so natural to me now, but I never want to take for granted the things that I have learned along the way. Because I grew up detaching from everything my mind was blown in 2010 when I did my yoga teacher training and discovered my mind and body were connected; that one affects the other.

I whole-heartedly believe in this project because moving with purpose and intention actually changed my life.

While movement hasn't been the single thing that has lead me to a healthy and happy life, it has definitely been, and continues to be, an important building block in maintaining one.

My hope is for this project to have a domino effect; both on the way people view mental health and on the way we begin to address and move (literally) through it-individually and together.

So excited to start this journey with you! LETS GO!

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