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As 2019 wraps up and we begin to look forward to 2020 and our goals for the next 365 twirls around the sun, I myself have a goal of expanding my offering to include Personal Training and Program Design. If you have some exciting fitness goals you're ready to tackle in a more committed way, this may be the opportunity for you!
 
I'm looking for 5 women who live busy, full lives that want more ease and more results from their fitness. You're ready to commit to 3 workouts per week and have access to a gym. If this sounds like you, here's what I'm offering:

  • 1 Initial Assessment session to gather baseline information and discuss goals
  • 1 Personal Training session per month at my studio, to track progress and introduce the next months program
  • 3 personalized workouts per week, delivered to your inbox and via the TrueCoach App (HELLO high-tech!)
  • Videos of each exercise
  • Direct messaging with me to ask questions and seek guidance

This is a 3-month commitment and costs $389 ($129/mo). If you're ready to say yes to yourself and your fitness goals, please complete the application form at the link below. Applications will be accepted until Friday, December 13th and the 5 women selected will be contacted by Friday, December 20th.

I'm looking forward to hearing about your health and fitness goals for 2020!

xo Syd

CLICK HERE TO APPLY

One month (and a bit) in to the year and I have to say, it's been a slow start for me. Thankfully, I have these little monthly check-ins to hold me accountable and to stay real about how last month was. The truth: it was just okay. Turns out, I need to re-calibrate a bit already!
Here's how my 2019 commitments went in January: 
  • One weight training session per week in January (anything above that is gravy!) - no gravy here. I did manage to keep this commitment this month (barely) and I am still having a hard time finding the space to train. I have this weird mental block about my workouts having to look a certain way or be a certain length to "count" or to be "worth it", but my mental practice these days is about doing small things more consistently so that I don't get overwhelmed trying to "find the time". My plan was to move to 2 per week in February, and I've decided to stick to one for now!
  • Get outside with the fam on Saturdays - Helloooo winter, we were wondering if you were ever going to come and you are very much making your presence known. We did manage to get outside on Saturdays, even if it was for a [very] short walk with the dog.
  • Post 1 video per week - another one I'm finding challenging since I can't let go of it being "perfect" circumstances. Here's my most common excuse: I'm never alone. Welp, expect some video footage from my (parked) car this month.
  • Bring lunch to work Tues-Thurs - I am proud to say I have stuck to this one! I am only at my office on Tues, Wed Thurs, so I have made sure to bring a lunch on those days. Working in an office can be ripe with opportunity to let my eating go sideways, so bringing a lunch has been clutch with keeping important things like vegetables and protein in my life. Another little "rule" I have for not falling prey to the endless treats scattered around the office: "if it's not my favourite thing, I don't eat it". So, unless someone brings in Crave cupcakes or Jelly Modern Donuts, I don't eat the treats!

As I work to get a space built out, hold down a 9-5, be a rad wife, and raise a little one, my hope is to keep cool about it all and to find a flow in a season that feels full. If you've got any tips or tricks for managing, let a mama know in the comments!

Onward,

xo Syd

 

I've been off social media now for 15 days and it's been an interesting experiment. And the itch is real.

I don't believe I was reliant on social media, but I also didn't realize how unconsciously (and frequently) I was reaching for my phone to check my Instagram.

Here are some of the things I have noticed so far:

  • I wanted to know how many people liked or commented on my post about going on a social media detox (ironic, right?)
  • I have worried that if I don't post consistently my business would suffer - this is a potential risk since I did discover that a lot of people got their information on my class times and offerings exclusively through social media
  • I realized I was using it to avoid conversation and connection - for example, if I didn't want to make small talk in a public setting, I would pull out my phone and scroll
  • I wanted to creep people - I discovered this when I recognized someone in a coffee shop and wanted to find out if they were who I thought they were (when I really didn't have a reason or need to know)
  • I have missed knowing what my friends are up to - and I also realized I can always give them a call or send them a text (the "old fashioned way") and it ends up being a much more fulfilling experience
  • It has freed up time for me to focus on other things for MAVEN - new training ideas, writing more blogs etc.
  • It has freed up more time for connecting and being present with my family
  • Perhaps the most eye-opening thing: I very quickly started to waste time on other apps - I have been checking my email way more, scrolling through old photos, checking my bank account multiple times a day etc. Maybe the habits I want to change aren't entirely about social media, but rather about an addiction to my devices?

I may just hop back on social media ahead of my 30-day timeline so that I can communicate important information to my community. And I will be armed with more intentionality around my use of social media. I will likely shift this "Social Media Detox" to creating some boundaries with my phone! Stay tuned!

Always learning.

xo Syd 

 

What you do proves what you believe - Simon Sinek

I believe in YOU.

The you who knows you have unique gifts you want to share with the world.

The you who wants to use your time here to make a positive impact.

The you who knows you have boundless potential and will do the work to max it out.

The you who is open to learning and growing, forever.

The you who knows the power of choice and exercises it.

The you who wants to create a full life, on your own terms.

The you who wants to experience the magic of life.

I believe in ME.

The me who provides you with tools to identify your unique gifts and help make a plan for you to use them in the world.

The me who knows your time is precious and won't waste it.

The me who holds you capable of doing the things I know you can.

The me who is open to learning and growing alongside you, forever.

The me who can set an example of the power of choice.

The me who can give you tools and coaching to help you create a full life, on your own terms.

The me who creates magical experiences for us.

Each time you bring yourself to one of my offerings, you are investing in yourself, and you are investing in me getting to realize my own goals. So thank YOU.

I believe in us working together to make moves in this life.

xo Syd

Training My Mind

November 12, 2018

Goals   habits   Health   lifestyle   perspective   Reflection  

I was reading this post on Leo Babauta's site zenhabits.net and this part really resonated with me:

If you normally have to have your comforts (coffee, sugary foods, soda, TV, alcohol, pot, cigarettes), you’ll spend a lot of money on them, and in many cases worsen your health and your bank account. You might avoid going places where you can’t get these things, and spend a lot of energy to make sure you could have them every day. But what if you trained your mind to not rely on them for comfort and relaxation? You could slowly get the mind used to not needing these, one at a time, so that it would be free.

Creature comforts? Guilty as charged. It got me thinking about where I have trained my mind to do the things I don't want, instead of sitting with the feeling. Like, how if I am feeling anxious, I will drive way out of my way to spend money on that chai latte when I could have made a tea at home. Or how I know that I could better use my time in the evenings, but I feel tired and put on Netflix instead. Or how just now, I went and browsed other blogs instead of sitting down to write my own. Luckily that last one actually helped inspire me to write, but could have easily been a rabbit hole of distractions.

So for the rest of this week (small doses), my target is to do one task in the evening to better set myself up for the next day (ex. pack a healthy lunch, lay my clothes out for the next day, put the dishes away). Once I have completed the behaviour, I will have some of my favourite dark chocolate (reward).

I invite you to pick one thing for yourself to focus on!

xo Syd

I was recently at yoga in plank pose and the instructor said “lift your chin and your gaze to look forward just past your hands so it’s not so dire”. It really resonated with me.

When we are defeated, we hang our heads, in pain, or in shame. Our shoulders slump, our throats become closed off, and we inhibit our ability to speak and verbalize, and things can feel pretty dire. When we are proud and energized, we feel light. Our chins lift, we can speak clearly and use our voice effectively.

Some of the trappings of everyday life even lend to us taking this defeated shape. We sit at desks with our shoulders rounded forward. We stare into our phones with our heads down. Perhaps you’re sitting this way as you read this now. 

After a recent conversation with my coach Jacki Carr about using my voice, she sent me this excerpt: 

“…so what blocks us from expressing our truth, our outrage, our creativity, or our needs? What makes us close down the throat, bottling up the emotions, or annihilate our ideas before they can make it out of our mouth? What makes us hide behind silence?

Shame at the core, fear for one’s safety, or simply being out of touch with the core self make us unable to bring the inside of ourselves out to meet the world.”

- Anodea Judith, Eastern Body, Western Mind

Whoa: "out of touch with the core self" really hits home for me. For a few years, I felt like I wasn’t being my full self. I had a few experiences that left me disheartened and rocked my confidence and didn't notice how much it was impacting how I was showing up. During this time, I still created a lot of opportunities for me to use my voice and yet I never fully stepped up. I often chickened out of saying the bold things that rang true for me. What if they don't like what I have to say? 

Even from a young age, I never really felt a deep sense of self. I have been known to be adaptable, perhaps at my own expense. A skillful chameleon. I get choked up easily. When I feel shame, I get a lump in my throat and shut down. My communication isn't clear and I am not able to express myself clearly. So it didn't surprise me when I found actual lump in my throat in 2016. Call it "woo-woo", but here's what I believe: your body manifests what your mind and spirit are experiencing.

It turns out I had a golf ball-sized growth on my thyroid gland that had been growing for years. Thankfully it was benign and I had it removed this past summer.

Now that the actual physical block has been removed, I feel more empowered than ever to use my voice to speak what's true for me. Part of my recovery from surgery involves massaging my scar, lifting my chin high and proud to stretch through the front of my neck to prevent any further tightness. With the new sensation from my incision, I have a constant reminder to lift my chin and stand proud. It's a simple but effective way to, shift perspective, become present and remember to use my voice.

Right now, wherever you are, lift your chin and your gaze, feel the space it opens up. Breathe a little deeper, take a look around you, and feel your energy and your mood shift. See, it's not so dire.

xo Syd

For years I have had a vision of hosting a retreat for women that serves to give them the opportunity to take some time for themselves, move their bodies with intention, eat some nutritious food, and set intentional goals.

The vision has been so clear for so long, and I can't tell you how many times I have chickened out for fear of no one being interested, or of saying or doing the wrong thing. I had been waiting for the "right" or "perfect" time, for someone to give me permission to do what I know in my gut is going to make an impact. I want to share with you what's at the root of of this retreat - the "why". Here goes.

1. I have felt the chaos, pressure and overwhelm of everyday life and the need to take a real break

There have been times in my life where I wish time would stand still for just a few moments so I could catch my breath, or even take a breath. The pace of life has often left me weary, shrunken, and disheartened. It’s when I realize I am living in prison walls of my own construction, trying to abide by the social rules of the world, that I can find some levity and remember that I have choice. I get to decide what works for me. I get to demolish those walls (even if it is one brick at a time). I am determined to not have my life look like anyone else’s or to get caught up in comparison chasing someone else’s ideals. I have found it challenging to find clarity while also keeping up with my daily responsibilities. This is an opportunity for you to lean on your support network and trust that things won’t fall apart if you take a couple days for yourself.

This retreat is not about running away, but rather finding space to move toward the things that really matter to you. Give yourself a break.

2. I have experienced the power of rest

When did rest get all tied up with laziness? Or is that just me collapsing the two on each other? I doubt it. So many of the women I know want to do all the things, and rightfully so, because they are capable. However, I have also witnessed that we aren’t very good a resting. Like, really resting. When was the last time you slept in? Or did something with the express purpose of winding down? I ask because I have a tough time with truly disconnecting myself. I’ll go to lay down for a nap and end up spending twenty minutes scrolling through my Instagram feed (not resting). I have had a massage and spent the entire time feeling guilty and/or thinking about all the things I have to do the rest of the day (not resting). I have sat down to read a book and picked one called “Side Hustle” only to wind up frantically taking notes and feeling like I’m not doing enough with my life (not resting).

When I have allowed myself to truly rest, I have felt my body loosen up, my mind unhook, and a general sense of calm settle in. It’s magic. Take rest.

3. I have seen how cathartic speaking and writing our truth can be

We have all kinds of thoughts rattling around in our brains and we have a lot that goes unsaid. I have felt the choke hold of not saying something I should have. I have also experienced getting it out and felt the release and space it opened up. You know how a weed won’t die unless you pull the entire root out? Same goes for the mind. So we work it out together.

4. I know the power of movement

I have never felt more alive and self-expressed than when I move my body. This has evolved from being a competitive athlete to now moving my body in ways that make it feel good. Getting blood moving through, flexing your muscles and organs, all helps to move things out of the body and mind that you may have been holding on to. Not to mention the high of endorphins coursing through your veins. We’ll move together.

5. I know how time in nature can provide perspective          

You know that feeling of fresh air in your lungs, space to explore, no distractions. Nature has a way of grounding and humbling like no other. We’ll get out into nature, explore some beautiful scenery, and perhaps gain some new creativity and perspective.

6. I have experienced the potency of women coming together

In this busy world we live in, it’s easier than ever to believe we are separate. We see edited versions and highlight reels and can easily assume we must be the only person who doesn’t “have it all together”. When we take time to connect in person, outside of the context of daily life, we often experience that we are more alike than we are different, and how interdependent we are. Groups of women in particular possess a certain magic.

Above all else, I designed this retreat to help you elevate your experience of life. You have everything you need to curate the life of your choosing. Together, we'll make space for you…

To PAUSE, and take time to appreciate this precious life.

To CONNECT with each other, nature, and yourself.

To RESET your intentions and create some new goals.

I can't wait to share this experience with you.

xo Syd

Click here for more info on the MAVEN Mountain Retreat in Banff, AB on April 5-7, 2019.

Commitment Check-in: July

August 01, 2018

Goals   Health   lifestyle  

Hello August! Summer '18 is in full force and I am loving spending all kinds of time outside, running again, and coaching at OPEX with the garage door open! You may have noticed that I have not been as present on social media and perhaps not as communicative via e-mail etc. which was intentional with the "break" I took from doing registered training in July.

I still taught a bunch of drop-ins, but did manage to get a lot of vacation time in as well and not concern myself so much with what's happening on Instagram and Facebook. I hope you had some opportunities to do the same, or have some vacay and quality time in the books for the remainder of the summer! I am running a 6 week registered training session August 7 - September 11, Tuesday's at 7pm at OPEX for anyone interested in joining us!

I always find summer to be a time filled with a mix of energizing and relaxing things, and am easily inspired during this time. I am solar powered, clearly. It can also be a time when I might over-commit out of excitement (must do all the things!) and then wind up being flakey and not keeping my word. Awareness is key, and I am working on it! That being said, many of the things I committed to for 2018 still stand, and I am changing up some things for this month too!

No new clothing purchased in 2018 - Don't be surprised if you see me in the same jean shorts and white tank for the next month. I'm just crushing my goals over here ;)

Live debt-free - Made some huge strides in my tax debt in the last 2 months and almost in the black again. Should be all squared away by next month.

Plan ahead for family time - Hell yeah! I spent half the month outta town with family and August has a couple getaways on the calendar. The weekends away and longer holidays are not the tricky part of this commitment, it's the weekends we spend at home that are a challenge. We do spend lots of time together as a family, but could be better at making plans in advance that are more intentional. Will be Googling and booking things in right after posting this!

Meditate for five minutes daily - Pffffft. I would say I meditated 4 times this month (better than nothing), however, the intention with this one was to quiet my mind chatter, and I think I have found a more workable alternative. In an effort to replace my habit of watching Netflix before bed, I bought a crossword book #wordnerd, and have been loving doing a crossword and a bit of reading before bed. I also went a little crazy on Amazon and have a big stack of books to get through, so I am replacing this one with do one crossword and read for 10 minutes every night. So far the mind chatter is definitely reduced, the screen time is way less, and I am falling asleep more easily!

I am looking forward to enjoying what is left of the summer and hope you will too!

xo Syd

In the past couple years, my husband and I have adopted the tradition of taking time over the holidays to look back at the year and take stock of all the experiences we had and goals we accomplished before looking forward to the new year and setting our sights on what's next.

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Yep, that’s right, I’m pregnant! 23 weeks and looking it now, and I have honestly struggled with it. After trying for 2 years, I thought my immediate reaction to finding out we were FINALLY pregnant would be a mix of excitement, joy, and relief (which I did feel, but way less than I expected). Instead, I felt a lot of fear, doubt, and anxiety. WTF.

It took me a while to get past my mistrust of pregnancy. After all, miscarriage is so common, and we are no more deserving of a healthy child than anyone else, so of course something would inevitably go wrong and in the meantime I'll just resist it. Yes, these are the fucked up things I told myself. Being the vessel is no joke people.

Alongside my doomsday attitude came a plethora of internal dialogue about my ability to be a parent, my willingness to “part with” my current life, and (my personal favourite) SHAME about how I was sofuckingtired in the beginning, didn’t care too much about eating very well, and definitely had no jam to train and move my body like I had been just a few weeks prior. These thoughts were also quickly followed with further shame spiral and analysis: “Who the hell do you think you are getting upset about being pregnant? Girl, people try for YEARS to get pregnant [myself included] or can't at all and here you are beating yourself up about not working out. Get over yourself.” Not helpful. And here’s some more truth: that internal chatter was not new. These are things I was telling myself unconsciously, constantly. All the time. “OMG I just ate candy. I lead people in fitness and I HAD CANDY. I know better. I’m not setting the right example. God, I hope they don’t find me out. They will know I am a fraud.”

And I still do struggle with these thoughts, often. I am human, and I am finding ways to mitigate this chatter, and have found some tools and strategies to help me change my mindset about pregnancy (and approach life in general). And I’m still learning, always.

Perhaps the worst and best part about all of this experience was that I was fully aware of all of it. And yet it persisted. As a coach, my current knowledge, skill, and the tools in my toolkit alone were not helping. I could feel that I was being called to find my own teachers and that there was something to be learned within this experience. I was also so over how I was feeling that I was more than willing to take the time to commit to shifting.

There has always been something in stillness/yoga/meditation/spiritual practice that I have been drawn to. I got clear very quickly that my mind and body were disconnected and I wanted to re-aligned that circuitry to not only get in a better head space for myself, but more importantly to connect with the tiny human now growing inside me. I was craving calm and something to shut up the endless bullshit rattling around in my head. I also knew I needed to accept that pregnancy is full of things you cannot control and that I had to loosen my grip on it to get to that place of peace. This was not a problem I was going to think my way out of. In fact, it wasn’t a “problem” at all. This was an opportunity to slow down, let life flow, and flow with life for a while.

Here’s where I looked for support, and what I have learned and applied so far:

You can believe in hustle AND flow. I listened to this podcast, and for the first time really understood that there are times to run and there are times to chill. I now give myself permission to chill way more often. After all, growing a human takes a lot of energy!

The antidote for fear and doubt is TRUST. This is an igolu (now Lightyear Leadership) tool that I needed to be reminded of. I have always had an innate trust in the universe to work things out as they should and rarely force my way through things. However, the fear I was feeling about being pregnant had eroded that trust and I just needed to remind myself to surrender and trust trust trust.

I wanted to feel a sense of home. I set up a coaching call with the incredible Jacki Carr to move through some of the places I was feeling stuck and let go of a lot of resentment I had built up. The past few years my husband and I were hustling to get businesses off the ground, always either looking back to keep ourselves from making the same mistakes or looking forward to plan what we were doing next. We were rarely living in the present moment. We were in the rat race and it was creating a wedge in our relationship that I was ready to remove. Jacki helped me to identify that I wanted to feel at home: in my environment, in my relationship, and in my own body. Which to me, really meant being wrapped up in safety, comfort, compassion, love. Once I had this new perspective, I went into action creating a more peaceful physical environment in my home (crystals, essential oils, keeping things tidy), communicating differently with my husband, and communicating differently with myself (hello self-compassion!).

Crystals make for accountability. In the work to shift my environment and after listening to this podcast, I went full hippie and hit up the closest a gem shop and bought myself a rose quartz (a stone of compassion and love). I am not sure whether I feel any differently when I hold it or if it really impacts the energy in my house (I’m trusting that it is!), but its physical presence alone is a reminder. I’ll see it and remember to take the time to sit with it for a few moments, set intentions for self-love and compassion for myself and others, and more specifically, for me to soften into my pregnancy and connect with my growing baby.

Affirmations and mantras work for me. I have heard many people share their own personal mantras and affirmations and thought “ooh, good one”, but I usually forget them immediately, and when I got to sit down with myself to conjure one up, I have struggled to find one that fits. With the reminder to “flow”, I finally landed on “I am flowing with life” – with double meaning: I am going with the flow, surrendering and trusting that things will unfold as they should AND I am literally flowing with life inside of me to nurture and grow my baby boy. [If you're looking for some help with mantra's this book and website have a ton of great resources]

Rigid rituals are not for me. Once I started intentionally seeking out some guidance with how to get my mind right, I became aware of my tendency to want to make a “checklist” for self-care/health. As a goal-oriented person, this has been something I have done many times before. I had a list in my phone of “daily practices” and I found that it actually wasn’t keeping me accountable. If anything, as the list grew, it became more overwhelming and nearly impossible to complete everything in a day and I ended up feeling like a failure. Ironic, no?

On one of the Almost 30 Podcasts they were discussing relationships with food, and one of the girls said her biggest strategy to eat more healthfully was to ask herself “what do I really need?” I loved this simple practice because 1) when I think I need candy, I usually just need to snuggle ;) and 2) I have started to use this question as a prompt whenever I am feeling anxious, tired, hungry – pretty much at any point when I am about to make a choice – to help me make the best choice possible for myself at any given moment, not just as part of my “morning ritual”. This has allowed for flexibility in my self-care practice to happen whenever and wherever I need it (which is definitely not always in the morning), has helped me make better food choices, resulted in less petty arguments, more exercising, and I have a much more calm and collected demeanour, if I do say so myself.

I was hesitant to share any of this experience as it was happening because I was so in it that I would have rambled on incoherently. With the exception of conversations with close friends, I went a bit into hiding with the whole experience. I wanted to sort my shit out and get some semblance of clarity before trying to articulate it. So I’m sharing this now from a clearer place of calm, hoping that others feeling stuck may find some inspiration and maybe even some strategies to help get themselves out of the weeds. I also love learning and hearing about new theories, perspectives and strategies related to all things health & wellness (which extends so much farther out than the physical!), so please feel free to reach out and share! sydney@themavenlife.com

Onward,

xo Syd