You Don’t Owe The World Anything

You don’t owe the world anything.

You don’t owe it a healthy body.

You don’t owe it financial abundance.

You don’t owe it perfect parenting.

You don’t owe it kindness and compassion.

You don’t even owe it your own happiness.

You owe all that to yourself.

You are worth being the very best you can be.

Nobody else deserves it from you, YOU deserve it FOR you.

When you feel you are doing it for others it leads to overwhelm, guilt, and a misguided sense of purpose which ultimately leaves you feeling empty.

We live in a selfish society yet no one is selfish enough to give themselves everything they need to be their best selves and to live their best lives. 

What does it meant to “Do your best”? We hear it all the time. “But I did my best!” Did you? What is left after you do your best? How do you feel after you do your best? COMPLETELY spent that’s how you feel. In my HIIT classes I tell my participants you need to earn your rest. If you don’t absolutely need it you didn’t work hard enough.

Earn your rest. Do your best. Then recover and do it again, over and over and over. 

But the truth is that some days you can’t, don’t or won’t give it our all. Some days you just have to show up to life and grind through another day. But that can’t be every day, it can’t even be the majority of days. Accept those days as a reminder of what your best feels like and get back there but don’t chide yourself into believing you did your best when you didn’t. 

Your best isn’t in comparison to others your best is only in comparison to what you truly want and desire for your life. If you dream big you work hard. Period. I believe the problem isn’t in the lack of work it’s in the lack of dreaming. Work doesn’t feel like work when a powerful vision is driving you. Doing your best is easy when you feel the results before they arrive. 

Who do you want to be?

What do you want to have and experience?

How many lives do you want to touch?

What are your shining moments? 

Mine are when I leave my excuses behind. Transformation happens when I courageously move into an unknown space and own it. When I become what is missing in my life and fill the gap not with another distraction but with action founded in purpose. 

Reference those moments. Look back on your life and find your dream and then truly do your best to fulfill it not for anyone else but YOU. 

My Philosophy on Fitness

After nearly 30 years in the fitness profession my philosophy on the true meaning of fitness has changed. What began as the ever elusive pursuit of the perfect body for acceptance among the elite ranks of beautiful people has become simply this; True fitness is the body’s ability to do what you ask it to do.

Keeping this statement in mind not only allows for a wide range and ever changing image of what true fitness looks and feels like, it removes comparison or competition with others. After all, aren’t we really just trying to be fit enough, strong enough and healthy enough to adamantly claim who we are?

If you are not a runner and never desire to be, you shouldn’t compare your body or fitness level to someone who trains to run. This comparison is to the extreme, so let’s bring it back to a level of simply living. How fit are you to run through the demands of your daily life with ease? Are you struggling to simply survive? Does it pain you to rise from a chair or to walk down the stairs? Does it hurt to bend down to feed the cat or pick up your grandchild? These are things you are asking your body to do yet are not fit enough to do with ease. Now let there be no misunderstanding. Attaining a certain level of fitness and improving upon it involves a degree of discomfort as it is a form of change and growth which is always uncomfortable. There is a profound difference between the discomfort accompanying improving performance and the pain that goes along with immobility and dis-ease.

Ascertaining what your level of fitness is comes down to one question: What is it you desire to do? Do you want to play tennis or squash? Do you want to be able to lift heavy things? Do you want to be able to swim across the lake at your cottage, ride your bike to the top of a mountain or maybe even sail the great lakes? In 2013 I decided I wanted to compete in a figure competition. Although I was extremely fit with respect to cardiovascular conditioning and low weight, high repetition strength work, I had little to no personal experience with the kind of weight training required to achieve my goal. By many standards I was fit, but nowhere near fit enough to stand on stage and be judged for my physique. So I changed my focus, changed my workouts, changed my diet and worked on my fitness. Your fitness goals do not need to be extreme but they do need to be celebrated once reached and then reset if you have a strong desire to ask your body to do something different. Change is growth, and if you’re not growing you’re dying, so at the risk of becoming complacent mix it up. Inspire yourself to a new level of fitness by exposing yourself to new activities for the experience they will provide and not necessarily for how they will improve your body. It’s about being able to fully participate in all life has to offer because that is what enhances your experience in this physical body.

I ask that you be kind to your idea of what you believe your optimal level of fitness to be. Celebrate the things you ask your body to do that it performs with ease. Maintain the level of fitness you desire to truly participate in life with gratitude and without the constant pressure of not being fit enough.  But should the day come when you want or need your body to do more, go for it, and improve your fitness accordingly.

In health and happiness,

Sheila xo

Starving For Connection

I generally only post positive, uplifting and inspiring content on social media. Sometimes I throw in some humour and a few life lessons combined with snippets of my life. Everything we post is generally all about us. Thoughts, moments and ideas we feel we need to share with the world hoping to connect in some way. That’s because we all need connection. We can say we are loners or introverts with social phobias but without connection we feel lost, lonely and lacking purpose. Our posts help us find purpose whether by gaining attention or sympathy when we are struggling, praise when we succeed, comments when we have an opinion or maybe just a LIKE to tell us that someone took the time to read, to recognize and to connect.

So why is this medium so addictive? Because we are starving for connection. The problem is it’s too easy to connect this way and it distracts us from the depth of human contact. It’s easy to convince yourself that what you are doing here matters and that the world is a better place because of your message. But the likes and the smiley faces, the teary emojis and the hearts cannot replace an open heart in the real world. We have become distracted from maintaining a deeper connection with ourselves. We have lost the ability to connect with a thought that’s not connected with a post. In this exceedingly noisy world you must be aware of the volume and learn to turn it down.

A Plea To End Body Shaming

Who are you if you are not short or tall, blonde or brunette, light skin or dark, blue eyes or brown, fat or thin?

Who are you without the external qualities that define you at a glance?

Who are you when you decide to stop letting those external qualities define you?

Are you happy? Are you healthy? What makes you come alive?

Do you sing in the shower or dance when a good song comes on?

Do you step lightly through life’s difficult moments accepting the challenge as an opportunity to grow?

Do you speak kindly, act with integrity and embrace all humanity as equal despite our differences?

I do not have a degree in psychology, but I have a lifetime of experience in human spirit. I have seen, as many of you have, people rise from the depths of despair to reach the pinnacle of success despite poor health, traumatic childhoods, loss of loved ones, poverty and profound failure. Each one of those people were gifted with a body to carry them through this life and none of us are here to judge the size, shape or physical condition of that body.

To body shame obesity is to place yourself on a pedestal on which you do not belong. There are parallels to every condition and although yours may not be weight it is likely something else. Do you struggle with relationships, debt, parenting, keeping a job, maintaining a clean home, addiction? Do you wish to be judged for your struggles or supported and guided towards a way to want improvement that lasts? A new way of thinking is the only way out of the darkness.  You may ask for help and you may also offer it if you sense you have encountered an open mind who truly wants to learn. But you may not ever consider that what you see on the outside is a reflection of the turmoil your fellow human is feeling on the inside.

Where Does Your Darkness Lie?

Where does your darkness lie? Is it in the loss of words when you need to speak your mind. Is it in the thoughts that escape when you try to relate to the word around you? Is it in the dream you feel paralyzed to embrace? Is it in the hopes of your mismanaged self when you know there should be time for more but the thickness of the air stops you from reaching any further.

When darkness comes it is within us to retreat back into the familiar place of uncertainty and escape into fear. Who are we to rise above when the smallness within feels so big?

When darkness comes it is our past recoveries that can save us from ourselves. It is a reference of all we have achieved before and the pain the we have overcome that allows us to count our victories.

When darkness hovers near we are being watched by all who have succumb to its depth and need to believe in something other than the abyss into which they fall. Pay attention to the eyes upon you and be what is possible.

When the light is blinding the darkness feels safe. The fall, full of fear, is also touched by the bliss of release but in the end it’s the landing that hurts.

I see your light and it is so much bigger than your dark. Reach up and know that all the light that surrounds you can save you if you just believe in something bigger. Your safety relies on it. Your journey is intent on it and your capacity to grow bigger is fuelled by it.

Where does your darkness lie? It lies within all of us and so do does your light.

Ode To The Apple Crisp

This may just look like an apple crisp to you but as I pulled it from the oven in my house that smells like heaven all I see is a story of all this beautiful yet simple dessert represents to me.

Two weeks ago I took my sons to the orchard to pick apples, something we used to do as a family when they were small. One of the things you miss when your family disintegrates in divorce. I didn’t know we would pick apples together on this day but the memory of the laughter among the trees dripping with fruit fills me up with everything I need. And so these apples are full of love and laughter.

As I stood peeling the apples I couldn’t help but think of my own childhood, picking apples and watching my mother peel them to make the same dessert for us. Maybe my dad was there but probably he wasn’t, that’s what divorce did to us too. But apple picking was one of the fun memories we had of him. The end of that story is that love heals all. I learned so much just watching my mother. I watched her peel apples with a small pairing knife, she refused to do it any other way. She was fast and efficient, always getting the job done like a single mother of three learns to do. Funny, my sister and I peel apples the very same way. I always loved to watch my mother cook. She was and still is amazing in the kitchen and I took every opportunity I could as a child growing up to practice what I had learned. I wanted so much to be just like her.

This apple crisp started out in a bigger pan, there weren’t enough apples to fill it so I switched. My mother bought me this pan years ago, I left most things behind when my marriage ended but I took this pan. It’s one of a set of two and I never get to use the small one. It’s the perfect size for today. Thank you mom for giving me the perfect size dish!

I had butter on my shopping list today, I forgot to buy it. I had a stick of maple butter from months ago lingering in the back of the fridge. I improvised and used it. Life lesson, not having the right ingredient just may lead you to find the BEST ingredient!

Pleasure is found in the little things. I baked this for someone I love. He works so hard and I want him to come in from outside and be filled with warmth knowing someone has his back and his belly. It’s the best I have to offer but I think, just maybe, it’s everything.

So today my house smells like heaven. It’s my new home with him and it’s full of sugar and love and remnants of the past blending into a beautiful future.

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MOTIVATED TO MOVE

Staying motivated to exercise is no easy task even for those who enjoy doing it. Exercising takes effort and time. The results are slow to come, and as you get older, harder to maintain. In general, the things you do to slowly move you along the path to better health are done with no immediate external gratification. It’s often difficult to stay committed to anything that takes time in a world full of answers at your fingertips. Technology, shortcuts to success, and the constant perceptual reminders through social media that everyone is further along in their blissful life than you, can be a roadblock on our own course to better health. We have yet to find the magic path to immediate results when it comes to caring for our health and having the body we long for.

If you have decided that completely avoiding the work is not an option, what are some of the ways you can keep your motivation muscles firing so you don’t give in to the temptation of putting it off one more day?

In my opinion there is no better way to get the job done than to make yourself accountable. Hire a trainer or book a class for which you will be charged and put money on the line. Get a workout buddy or strike up a challenge with someone and put friendship on the line. Make a commitment out loud and set a public goal and put your own competitive nature with yourself on the line. Whatever it is, you must make sure there is something bigger than your excuses to ensure you will show up.

Reward yourself every time you stick to your commitment. I remember when my sister was trying to quit smoking for the 7th time. Every time she would have bought a pack of cigarettes she put the money in a jar instead. At the end of every month she would take the money and go and blow it on something extravagant for herself. I’m not sure if this was the key to her success but the 7th time was a charm! Set a reward system for yourself that works but try not to make it something that links you to the bad habits you are trying to overcome, like a binge meal. My go to is often a manicure or a new workout outfit or even more treasured, a day of well earned rest.

During the peak of my teaching career I had a saying as an instructor and it was, “Just Press Play”. Sometimes when I was overcome by fatigue or simply lacking the passion to teach one more class, I used to remind myself that the hardest part is just getting started. I knew that once I pressed play and the music came on my feet would start moving and momentum would take over. Remember the Martin Luther King quote, “You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.” Just show up, start and let momentum move you forward.

Set your BAM goal and make it non-negotiable.  BAM is an acronym that stands for the Bare Minimum you will allow yourself to accomplish during a predetermined block of time. My initial days of committing to fitness were when I was 18 years old and cycling consistently. I made huge strides in my physical conditioning, especially cardio, but then winter came it cramped my style. We purchased an indoor trainer but it was far less engaging than riding outside. It was a constant battle to make myself get on my bike until I read somewhere that after 7 days without training you start to lose cardio conditioning. This was all it took. There was no way I was going to lose what I had worked so hard for! I wasn’t sure if that fact was true at the time, but it didn’t seem to matter. I believed it.  From that point on I made sure that at least ONCE during a week I got on my bike and rode. It kept me in touch and never let my goals get too far beyond my reach. What is your BAM?

So remember that when it comes to immediate results in health there are none, except for that amazing feeling of success you get knowing you showed up when you least wanted to. The ability to overcome your excuses is the best feeling in the world! It is a consistent, daily reminder that whether or not your body changed today, your mind and spirit grew a little bit stronger. This is where all great change begins.

TODAY I WILL FORGIVE

Today I will forgive decisions that led me astray for they circled me back to this place and these people. Today I will forgive the indecisions that kept me stuck for they allowed me to stay long enough to commit to this growth now more than ever.

Today I will forgive the debt I may have accumulated as I remember the beautiful experiences spending that money gave me. The time with family and friends, the gifts I gave to myself and to others, the home I built and the car I drove that gave me freedom to see new places and do new things. I have enjoyed building this life and now I am ready to desire less and live more from a place of freedom and peace of mind around money.

Today I will forgive the times when I did not step into my power. Times when I moved in directions not meant for me because I denied my inner voice of intuition. I am grateful because those directions taught me things I never would have learned and brought me full circle to this moment where I recognize the difference. I am ready to tap into my natural strengths and I am completely open to the new directions they will take me.

Today I will forgive myself for the energy I have wasted following a path that wasn’t right for me, spending time with people who didn’t fill me up and depleting myself to please others. Today I am grateful for the fatigue my soul feels because it’s that fatigue that has resigned me to accept there is a better way. Today I feel empowered to give back to myself all I allowed the world to take from me recognizing that I am not a victim I was simply misinformed. Today I see that my energy is all I have, it’s truly all I am and I can fill it up or give it up whenever I choose.

Today I say thank you to my beautiful body that contains my soul and gives me the opportunity to participate in this life. Today I will forgive myself for the decisions I made that have prevented me from living in my best body. Today I forgive the extra desserts because they brought me pleasure in the moment. Today I forgive the dinners out with friends and too much wine because they helped me build relationships that enhance my world. Today I forgive all the workouts I skipped because I was tending to family or building a career. Today I choose to see all the beautiful experiences gaining this weight allowed me but I am ready now to embrace something different. I am ready to feel good about my body right now and live the best life I can by caring for it. Today I am ready to be kind to myself.

Living with love means starting with yourself.

Sheila

TODAY I WILL GROW

In the blistering heat on a hot summer day I turn my face to the sun and ask “Why do you beat upon me so? I can find no shelter to escape from the intensity of your rays and I can’t see for the blinding of your light. I am stripped naked yet I grow more agitated by the minute. I am burning and I am at your mercy!”

I am crying in pain and I need a reprieve. Just a short reprieve to heal my wounds and catch my breath and figure out what to do next. But the more I fight the elements the more it hurts. And so I sit, and I give in to the incessant fire that surrounds me and I know that my only chance for survival is acceptance of that which I cannot change and an inner pursuit of the answers that come when I embrace what I can.

The sun burns bright every day and it can either burn you or nourish you in growth. Today I will grow.

I will grow because it is my intention.

I will grow because it beats the alternative.

I will grow because in my growth others grow.

Today I will grow because it is all I truly know how to do.

No matter how difficult the process I will choose growth in times of hardship because I know that nothing happens outside of me that doesn’t first happen within me.

I will grow because I am free to do so in the face of any circumstances.

I will grow because the ability to do so is a gift bestowed upon me by the Universe.

I will grow because no matter how difficult the process, I believe dying is worse.

Today I will grow and I accept that I will never become resislient to the harsh rays of the sun for it is because of them that I will continue to grow all the days of my life and beyond.

Are you willing to do what it takes to start a business?

Many people say they want to work for themselves, have no boss, call the shots and live a life of freedom. But working for yourself is anything but that. You will work harder for yourself than you will for anyone else. You will show up earlier, stay later and worry more about every little details. You even might grow to the point where you have staff and now are responsible for the food they put on the table for their family and for whether or not they can pay their rent.

Owning a business is a heavy burden but obviously worth it since so many still traverse this path. After leaving my businesses in 2010 which we eventually lost completely less than 2 years later I went back to the safety of a job. I wanted nothing more than a solid pay cheque and the security of knowing I could pay my bills. This was an incredibly challenging time of my life. Everything I had built was gone and I had to start all over. It took many many years to regain my footing because after 2 years of working I once again found myself faced with having nothing. Heartbroken and exhausted I realized no job can give you security, it’s your confidence in your ability to stand on your own two feet that gives you that. So once again I set out to work for myself. Freedom Fitness Coaching was officially established in 2014 but the year prior to that I had already begun building a training business one client at a time. I faced the task head on and I was willing to go anywhere at any time to work with anyone I could. I went from the east end of toronto to the west end taking in home clients, clients in a pretentious private club, and clients in a small club near my home.

Building a business means taking a risk, putting yourself out there and being willing to do whatever it takes to get that business off the ground. One summer day while I had my son for the weekend I dragged him into a small club near my home to meet with the owner/manager. I asked him if he would allow me to work for free to do orientation assessments with new members for the opportunity to possibly sell them on personal training. Guess what he said? Of course he said yes. No one was providing this service in his club and I was willing to do it for free. It was all win for him and free lead generation for me. All I needed was for someone to put the people in front of me and I would do the rest. Despite this my client roster grew slowly and I still couldn’t put all my eggs in one basket. I maintained my in-home training and private club clientele and crazy work schedule but was now completely self sufficient. I didn’t report to one boss I reported to many. My clients, club managers, government as I now had to regularly submit my own taxes, I was in no way free but I was in control of my day and my duties.

The time I spent building my training business was exhausting but the most gratifying of my career. Looking back now I see it was not about the money, it was about the people that came into my life and the disciplines I learned in how to service those people. During those very dark and uncertain years I was gifted with people who not only helped pay my bills but who lifted me up when I needed it the most. I honed my skills as a trainer during that time and was grateful every single day for the clients who trusted me. I built friendships and relationships with people who are still in my life today. I want to take this opportunity to thank every single person who allowed me into their lives and into their hearts. You carried me through the worst and because of you I am able to stand here today whole, happy and healthy. When you build a business you just never know how that business will actually build you.