BODY: Ameliorate

It is inevitable that every time a New Year rolls around we get sucked into the marketing vortex of “New Year, New Me” and all the health supplements, workout clothes and gym memberships that are sold as the complete package of health.

I guess, “New Year, Same Lazy Piece of Shit” doesn’t have the same ring to it.

Saying that, while it is noble to implement health goals at the start of each year, more often than not we set ourselves up for disaster. More than half of people who set New Year’s goals backslide within the first month, sometimes giving up on themselves altogether. While roadblocks occur in the pursuit of any dream, I think it is crucial to stay focused on the bigger picture.

Personally, I think setting highly specific goals, while initially effective, can become the bane of your existence, especially for weight loss. Focusing steadfastly on a “goal weight” will make you more likely to cut calories (or entire food groups) and resort to over-exercising and under-eating. Less emphasis should be placed on the number and more on the quality of your health and the way your body feels. Aches, pains, inflammation and rashes are all signs that your body is off-balance and through a healthy diet and exercise you can often alleviate or even eliminate these symptoms.

As I get older and more in tune with my body, I start to realize how sensitive my system is and the importance of good nutrition. While in my early party days I was able to indulge in all manner of vices (i.e. booze, party candy, and post-party Cora’s trips) without feeling too much damage the next day. Now… A few drinks and the next morning I can feel my body running at a sluggish pace. As such, I’m looking to significantly cut down, and by all means eliminate, my alcoholic intake over the next few years. As my Brit preaches ad nauseam, “Every extra drink robs you of happiness the next day.” I’ll cheers to that.

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Happy New Years Eve = Not So Happy Morning

Looking forward to the rest of 2016, I’m taking note of how I feel more self-aware of my body than in previous years. As such, my goals for this year are to give my body the nutrients and self-care it needs, while also setting and reaching the new goals I want to put into place. One huge drawback to working in Canada during the winter is that I find it is typically too cold to run outside, however I’ve substituted my long running route in Spain for a membership to IAM Yoga and Wynn Fitness, both of which are located quite close to my office. Having a pre- or post-office workout gives a bit of a jump start to each day.

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Exercise Gives You Endorphins = Endorphins Make You Happy

I’ve swapped my carb-heavy Spanish breakfast of olive-oil on thick whole wheat bread for a super-charged “Green Smoothie” (complete with spinach, flax, mango, banana, dates and a splash of chlorophyll) to start my day. My lunch is now more than half pure vegetables, as is my dinner. As a perpetual vegetarian and sometimes vegan, I have the tendency to lean towards carbo-loading every meal. By planning my meals at least a day in advance (and including some fresh fruit for snacks) I eliminate the risk of becoming hangry or splurging on something sweet.

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Lean, Mean… Green?

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Cold Pressery in Mississauga, ON. Easily One Of The Best Places For Vegan Food!

In the next few months I will have to adjust yet again to living in a new country (!!!!) and being 100% accountable for my budget and lifestyle choices. I think getting accustomed to a regime where I incorporate healthy eating, consistent workouts and a full-time job will make the transition a bit easier. I hope to run my first half-marathon by the end of the year, and what better place to accomplish that feat than Europe?

Good luck & good workout.

AS

 

SOL: À Bientôt Europe!

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Et voilà – approximately twenty two weeks after I left Canada I am awaiting a plane to bring me home.

I am at a loss for words to express the depth of my appreciation for this experience. I am tempted to say that these months have flown by but each month and sometimes each week presented its own challenges.

From start to finish, this was a personal struggle; my goal was more “deep rehab of the soul” than “I bet I can drink my way across Europe.” I came here to see the world, yes, but also to fix the cracks in my soul. It is not an exaggeration to say that when I arrived in France this April I was a broken and extremely depressed individual. I felt increasingly unstable, unhappy and panicked about life and more specifically, my place in life. I can honestly say I was a nervous wreck and for lack of a more eloquent description, I felt like an all-around piece of shit.

Having said that I must confess that on this trip three wonderful things happened:

1) I fell out of love with the people and memories I was holding onto with the toxic hope I would one day have them back again. In doing so I realized that without the grey tinge of the past haunting me my present life became more beautiful.

2) I slowly realized that although I have done terrible things in the past I am actually (and it feels odd to acknowledge this) proud of the person I have become. I realized that my past does not define the person I am today and in doing so I shook off years of angst and guilt and made a home out of my body.

3) I woke up one morning and realized that I had shaken my plaguing depression and had fallen in love with both myself and my life. This is not to say I do not still have lows, but I am much better equipped to deal with them; I now see each low as preparation for a new high and that alone is a beautiful thing.

It is a wonderful moment when you realize that the love you put into your life will be returned. Obviously I still struggle; I still have bad days and shitty moods, but I have embraced the wonderful complexity of life and relish each event, both good and bad. I do not expect myself or my life to be perfect; the bad days and my worst traits only make me value the positive that much more.

It feels bittersweet to be leaving this beautiful country but I am comforted by the fact that I will soon be able to see my family and friends. This trip has utterly revolutionized my worldview and travel itself. When I first voiced my desire to embark on this trip I had numerous people tell me it would be too difficult to do by myself, that I’d get scared or lonely, that I’d be back before the five months were up or that I was completely deluded as to how expensive and confusing traveling can be. I was admittedly petrified that I was biting off more than I could chew but I realized that people often have more tenacity than they give themselves credit for. Humans are resilient – we are durable and capable of much more than the limits we impose upon ourselves. While at times it was difficult to navigate solo-travel I am proud of myself for being strong enough to do it on my own.

My takeaway from this journey is simple:

DO MORE OF WHAT MAKES YOU HAPPY.

Life is too short to be miserable. Be honest with yourself about what you want. If you wait for the right time you will be waiting your whole life – do it now! Always remember the best things in life happen when you step outside your comfort zone.

Safe travels,
AS

SOL: +/-

I want everything and nothing at the same time – this is why I’ll never be satisfied with my life.

I want a home and a love and a warm fire and a slow cooker and a bread maker and a crepe machine and an apron that says “Kiss the Cook.”

I want a suitcase and a backpack. I want to send my mail to a PO Box because I haven’t had an address in five years. I want to watch the sunrise in Bangladesh and watch the sunset in Ko Phi Phi. I want lessons in Thai street fighting and French cuisine. I want to speak five languages and fill up a passport with stamps.

I want a steady boyfriend who I might one day marry. I want to be half of a whole and to make other people envious of the love I bring to my life. I want a group of friends I see daily, weekly, every day and all the time. I want to fill my life with companionship until it bursts at the seams.

I want a lover in every major city. I want a boyfriend in every port. I want stolen kisses under the Eiffel Tower on Monday and whispered goodbyes in Athens by Thursday. I want to swim in the silence and dive into a sea of loneliness. I want to pitch a tent with Depression and fill myself up with sadness until I go numb. I want to make friends in hostels and get emails from around the world, reminding me of the places I’ve yet to go.

I want a hand to hold and to have a date night once a week and a warm body in my bed to turn over and kiss at four in the morning just because I can.

I want adventure and risk and danger. I want independence and freedom and to be able to work 9 to 5 and love as I please from 5 to 9. I want to be able to leave without guilt, and to know in my heart that they’re better off without me.

I want a steady job and a promising career with a well-padded CV and a job history to slay my competition. I want to wear power-suits and sling-back heels and use words in boardrooms like “third-quarterly review” and “steady rate of incline in the work force.” I want to have to worry about insurance and mortgages and finding a home within a good school district.

I want to rip up my resume and quit my job. I want to flip-off the economy and sell all my belongings. I want to represent a serious flaw in the system. I want to work in-the-black and do manual labour until I’m sweaty and exhausted and drink beer I can barely afford on secluded beaches that most people will never see in their lifetime.

 When people ask me how I do it I’ll tell them, “I wanted to, so I did.”

MIND: The Alchemist

MIND: The Alchemist

I recently completed The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho, and I’m still processing it.

Honestly I’ll need to reread it several times because there are many life lessons to be learned. One of the messages that resonated with me is the theory that we must always follow our passions and respond to each call that ignites our soul.

The small things that we enjoy are our calling, and ignoring these small “nudges” towards our destiny can be fatal to our dreams.

As someone who has recently started an extended “soul-searching” trip, this book came to me at the perfect time. Coelho explains how our soul thrums at peace when we are on the path that syncs with our dreams. I believe this. I feel in my core that I’m supposed to be traveling – the minute I took off on my journey I felt a huge weight lift from my shoulders. I hestitate to agree with his use of the words fate and destiny because I’m not entirely sure I agree with that way of thinking. He also explains that when you’re on the path of your dreams, the universe will conspire to help you achieve it, though not always in the most direct or obvious way. Does the universe work with and against us? I haven’t decided.

It’s a good read, I’m going to keep rereading it as I travel because it makes me feel things, as all good books should. I highly recommend it to all – it’s a quick read with a long lasting impression.

Namaste,
AS