Thinking of a Core-Barre Challenge?

So, you’re thinking about a Core-Barre Challenge but still in two minds?

My advice…

JUST. DO. IT. *

(*thank you, Nike for that epic slogan)

As of September 2017, I’ve only participated in a single Core-Barre challenge, throughout which I documented my weekly progress here. Day in and day out I did not feel a difference: I tried my best to go to the classes and stick to eating healthy. Yes, my clothes felt a bit more loose but other than that I still was the same clothes size and the healthy eating increased my energy levels a bit. Ultimately my “transformation” was a huge shock to me – and without the photos I would not have realised the difference in my body.

After eight weeks of classes and diets (I’ll go into more detail on these a bit later) I lost 2.9kgs. The biggest loss? My measurements… 8.4cms off my waist and 4cms off my hips. And I’m starting the get definition in my tummy! #winning

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What is the challenge like? 

I won’t lie… you need to make a commitment to yourself.

As with anything in life, do it as your own choice – not because someone wants you to do it. Sign up for the challenge if you want to do something good for yourself. No one is going to “police” you by making sure you are doing four workouts and eating right. It is a very self-based challenge – you chose your classes, your diet, your lifestyle; which I love. No micromanagement (thankfully) – I would hate someone having to bug me to go to class and make me feel bad if I did not eat healthy or skip classes (I can make myself feel bad all by myself, thank you very much!).

If you do need accountability, I’m sure you can ask for it! Robyn, the mastermind of the challenge, and the awesome instructors (Taz (Barre), Tyla (Barre) Kristie (Pilates)) are AMAZING. They all make you feel comfortable throughout the challenge, inspired to keep going and provide loads of fun and laughs during classes… I have awesome memories!

Think of the challenge as your very own version of “Khloe Kardashian’s Revenge Body”. In retrospect that is what the Core-Barre Freddy-SA Get Fit Challenge did for me.

I started the challenge very insecure, low confidence, little to no self-worth and not very happy with myself – after eight weeks, there has been an increase in my confidence, self-worth and being truly happy. I’ve become physically and mentally/emotionally strong.

The “Get Fit Challenge” is first fitness challenge I had ever signed up for – and the only challenge I have ever completed.

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With Robyn (Left)

 

How many workouts are in the challenge and what are they?

The prescribed workout schedule is to fit in FOUR classes a week. I quite enjoyed doubles: which was Barre class and Pilates thereafter. Being the overachiever I am (more like getting away from my life – the challenge was an escape for me) I sometimes completed six classes a week.

Barre classes are a ballet type exercise that gets the heart rate up, gets the blood pumping (and if you’re like me… sweating) as well as making you “feel the burn” (and having a good laugh). Pilates is a more “slow-paced” yet very muscle controlled so you also feel EVERY muscle. Both classes have increased my balance, flexibility and coordination (though my coordination could still use work)!

I was afraid I would get bored in class but the combinations of movements and the instructors guiding you make you concentrate. Like really concentrate. And sometimes I just can’t get the combinations but thats OK. I have never felt bored in either barre or pilates so it kept my Attention Deficit Disorder brain in check.

 

What is the diet like? 

There is a diet plan accompanying the challenge. However, I did not stick to it… I am vegetarian who does not consume meat, fish or eggs. My biggest vices were fast food and sweets and I knew I needed a change.

With respect to my diet I aimed for a more lifestyle change and cut out all sweets, ready-made meals, take aways, junk food and “just add hot water” drinks. Apart from that there were no big changes… I still ate dark chocolate, low fat fruit yoghurt, loads of fruit, homemade meals, wholewheat couscous, wholewheat/ seeded/ rye bread, Emmental cheese, homemade baked goods (always reducing the sugar intake). I never felt deprived and apart from a few sugar withdrawal headaches I did not and still do not crave sweets.

 

Do you have to take any supplements?

I did. My diet is not rich in protein at all so I do have to supplement. For the protein supplementation, I always had a protein shake or protein bar post classes.  I also took a probiotic and Omega 3 capsule (from algae) daily.

It is also important to ensure your body is in homeostasis. Electrolytes are something we don’t take notice off and incorrect concentrations may be the reason for headaches, cramping and fatigue. When I was doing multiple classes a day, I always sipped on an electrolyte supplement.

 

Is the challenge worth it? 

YES. YES. YES. Apart from a fun workout, you meet the most incredible, inspiring people. The highlight of the challenge is definitely the friends I made: we were able to support each other through the challenge and learn to laugh at ourselves.

If it wasn’t for the challenge, I would probably be still hating myself, in superficial relationships, numbing my emotions and not happy. It sounds like a stretch but honestly the challenge has changed my life – the classes and the friends I made in class got me through some tough times during the challenge. I do not know how I would have stayed sane without it! My reflection of the challenge can be found here.

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Barre-Girls 🙂 

 

Will I stick to Core-Barre or do another challenge? 

OF-COURSE (to both questions). I’ve found something I really enjoy doing, that kicks my ass, given me incredible friends and makes me happy – so I’m definitely sticking with the studio, As for another challenge? I’ve already signed up for the “Abs Sculpt”!

Hope to meet you at the barre!

If you have any questions please feel free to contact me 🙂

k x

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#GetFitChallenge: Reflections

Three months ago, I signed up for a challenge. Specifically an in-person fitness challenge.

My track record of challenges is dismal. I’ve signed up for NUMEROUS challenges online… have I ever completed them? No. Hell, I don’t even think I read the daily emails.

In addition to my challenge record… my fitness level is a joke. I love sports but despise exercising… even though I feel good afterward, I dread dragging myself to the gym – which, I only started about three years ago.

So I’m not 100% sure why I did sign up for the Core-Barre GetFitChallenge, but I did. The challenge provided a diet plan (which I did not follow, mostly for my own reasons – written about here) and at least four classes – either Barre or Pilates –  a week.

A bit of history 

Growing up, I was a tomboy – give me sports, things to take apart and experiment with, Lego to build, trees to climb and bodies of water to swim in. Ballet, modern dance, traditional Indian dancing were NOT for me (and trust me, my mom tried). My little sister is a dancer (modern, traditional Indian dance) and was into all the reality-TV dance shows since their inception. She purchased the Zumba set too – I sat laughing at the videos…

Fast forward 20-something years: A bout of insomnia late last year lead me to stream season 23 of Dancing With the Stars. The show introduced me to dance as a form of exercise (it also introduced me to how gorgeous those professional male (straight!) dancers are!). I was hooked and kept watching, as well as having in depth post-mortems with my “work-mom” (who is obsessed with dance and a latin dancer herself).

Doing something remotely close to “dance” for me is huge. Yet, something clicked in me: I desperately wanted to dance (Argentine Tango is still on the bucket list), be graceful and “elongated”. Knowing I have two left feet, ungracefulness, funky body shape and serious balance issues; I have to take baby steps.

I noticed Instagram posts for Core-Barre and decided I wanted to try at least three Barre classes (which I wrote about here, prior to even thinking about the challenge), improve my balance/ flexibility and definitely be bikini-body ready for summer.

So, I signed up.

The Challenge

At the introductory evening a few days prior to the challenge I was TERRIFIED. Everyone looked amazing already… what did I get myself into to? After measurements, weighing in and “before” photos *cringe* I felt, well crap, but motivated… I was doing something for me. I did not even care about the winning… all I wanted was to prove to myself that I can do something “good” for myself.

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2017 has been THE cherry on top of a craptastic (yes, I love making up my own words) 4 year long “bad patch”. By actually committing to the challenge for myself and knowing it was time to take care of “me”. Taking care of myself has never been high on my priority list – I am the picture perfect people-pleaser and give way too much off myself (to my own detriment). I’ve never had much self-worth and the past four years led me down a spiral of unhealthy coping mechanisms… Things get tough? It’s fine, I’ll fix it all for you and numb myself to deal with my own emotions around the matter.

So it was scary to decide to do this for me. I’m in my thirties and I do not want to live a live of “what if’s” but rather a life of “oh well”. I do not want to die with regrets – I already have so many and the list does not need to be longer! To hold myself “accountable” (and none of my friends were around to do the challenge with me) I started documenting my weekly progress.

Barre and Pilates 

Overall I managed at least four classes a week (sometimes I’d do six). Both barre and pilates were new to me. Yes, classes are intense but SO MUCH FUN! My favourite part of the classes… the stretching at the end (and I managed to get VERY close to the splits!).

For some reason I was the only one sweating in barre class – flip, the concentration and muscle groups you work are damn hard. In addition to my sweating, I am ungraceful, my body can be hyper-mobile so I look weird and very uncoordinated… however this all lead to lots of laughs and deliriously happy moments. I have never in my 30-odd years remember being happy while laughing at myself and my “weirdness”. It was a new feeling and I kinda liked it.

Diet 

Yeah, did not follow the diet. But I did cut out sweets, milk chocolate, take-aways and my latest addiction “Hazelnut Latte Hug-In-A_Mug”. I also stopped my tendency to pop a pill to make myself feel better – no more sleeping pills, antidepressants, painkillers. I went cold turkey… The insomnia was a bitch but I had to go through it.

However, my addiction to peanut butter grew stronger (there is nothing better than eating it straight out the bottle (the Black Cat Sugar and Salt free crunchy one)).

Emotions 

Felt all the feelings. For. Real.

I went through every possible emotion throughout the challenge. From crippling insecurity, feeling sorry for myself, not sure how to deal with stress to actually having happy moments.

It did not help that I experienced some of the roughest weeks of my life during the challenge: intense work schedules, lots of travel, (multiple) cancer diagnoses in my immediate family, being with my family through surgery/ appointments/ treatment, tough medical decisions to be made for myself, doing a prayer for my gran who passed away six months ago, my self-imposed drug free period, friends who needed me and my support during their own struggles, finally letting go of a no-good relationship.

My double and triple sessions during the challenge was my escape. The one place I could go to where for an hour, or two.. or three I could have fun and just be me… like a relaxed kid again. Every single time I left class I was happy (so much so that a friend thought I was drunk while voice-noting her on the way back home from class)! And the sessions did help exhaust my body so sleeping became easier.

The finale

Very unexpectedly I did win the challenge. I couldn’t believe the change in my body. Without taking photos I would not have seen the change… I stayed the same weight for the longest time. While I did not lose much weight, I lost centimeters and the shape of my body changed… I actually have muscles now!!! (Like my legs are toned… not skinny Indian legs!).

Here are my pics:

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Lost: 2.9kg; 8.4cm waist; 4cm hips

Most of all….

Core-Barre introduced me to an incredible group women who I am proud to call friends, allowed me to tone my body, made me prioritize myself and my health, stop the numbing mechanisms and after classes I am genuinely happy (endorphins for the win!). The challenge allowed me to be more me and allow me to experience moments of self-worth. The INCREDIBLE and INSPIRING women I met during the classes have given me strength and support. In comparison to my teens and 20s, I am and feel so much stronger (physically and emotionally), pill-free, less sad/ anxious, more authentically me, a touch more confident and HAPPIER in my 30s! 

Thank you, Robs and team!!!

Looking forward

There is another challenge at the studio “Abs Sculpt”. And yes, I’m doing it!!!

k x

#GetFitChallenge – Recap of Week 8: I MADE IT!

Eight weeks of committing to a challenge… for myself.

Eight weeks of making sure I showed up… for myself.

Eight weeks of creating a healthy lifestyle… for myself.

Eight weeks of being disciplined… for myself.

Eight weeks of just doing it even when I didn’t want to… for myself.

Eight weeks of being motivated to be better… for myself.

Eight weeks of achieving things I thought I was incapable of… for myself. 

Eight weeks of prioritising… myself, my health, my life.

Stats

I did measure myself and I’m hovering around my Week 4 weight! Even with all my travelling etc. And I am down two more centimetres in my waist… but up one on my hips (though I did measure over my gym pants… wishful thinking? Perhaps!).

The official weigh-in (and photos, I guess) is on the 6th of September so I will keep you posted then!

Training

The last Saturday of week 8 was a struggle. It was the first time in my eight weeks where my body could not handle a double class. And I’m pretty used to doing triples, by this stage. Half way through the first class I knew I could not cope with a second barre class.

I think my current bout of insomnia, incredibly high stress levels (personal and work) and hormones cumulatively played a role in my body slowly shutting down.

Overall I only completed four hours of barre, one hour of pilates and one hour of training with P this week. No hot yoga…

I did however attend a stretch workshop on Saturday by one of our barre instructors Taz! It was awesome – my body has seriously never stretched in some of those ways before and I am pretty close to the splits… something that has been on my “try to do” lists for 2017! WIN!

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Almost there!!! 

Diet 

Diet… Sigh, the diet. LOL 😀

The diet has been the part of the challenge where I have failed. I did not follow the recommended plan but rather tried to modify my diet into a lifestyle change. While I could have been more strict with my diet, I did manage to stay away from junk food and confectionary (except dark chocolate)!

Emotions and Achievements 

Eight weeks ago I started the challenge with a bit of reservation – I had not signed up and completed a challenge before and I was nervous. To be honest, I’m not 100% sure WHY I signed up – but I knew I had to (weird, I know).

Barre is something I have been wanting to try for a while – and what better way than to dive into a challenge. Growing up I was the typical tomboy – dance lessons were not something I was interested in; give me sports and climbing trees instead! Since being introduced and slightly addicted to “Dancing With The Stars” last year (Season 23 was my introduction), it is as if my body craved moving that way, improving my posture, pushing my uncoordinated and ungraceful self to be better. I also knew I needed to be more comfortable in my skin and start figuring out who I am.

Fast forward to today –

I’m truly not the same person who went into the challenge. Mid-way, I dealt with serious family health issues, my own emotions and work schedules. It sucked. Yet, the challenge kept me focussed and the classes took my mind off the rest of my life. For at least one hour (or two or three) I could just focus on moving my body and having a good laugh… it is definitely what got me through “life” during the stuff being thrown my way,

I hope to write a longer post about what I gained from the challenge a little later but here is a summary of what I achieved…

  • Meeting INCREDIBLE people!
  • At least two barre sessions a week
  • At least one pilates session a week
  • No sweets!
  • No take-aways
  • No ready-made meals
  • No “hug-in-a-mug”
  • Four kilo’s down!
  • Centimetres of my waist and hips!
  • I’m NEARLY close to the splits!!!

Things I am still working on

  • Learning to love myself… just the way I am and not be too self critical.

Will I keep on with barre? Will I do more Core-Barre challenges?

HELL YES!!!

 

And on that note, let me get ready for class!

All my love,

k x

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#GetFitChallenge – Recap of Week 3: Baby Steps

I can’t believe Week 3 is over and we have begun Week 4… almost halfway! To be honest, I’m feeling a bit emotional that this challenge is flying by!

If you have not read my previous recaps, you can find Week 1 here and Week 2 here.

Week 3 was all about me finding my feet again, and taking things one baby step at a time. I was still on the mend from my viral infection, and even though I felt “left behind” I knew biologically it was not wise for me to train in any way, state or form while still on medication. I was surprising ok with this – perhaps because it wasn’t a flaky excuse and I was pretty ill (not “pretending” to be more ill than I am).

Training

Post-illness, I was feeling good and managed to successfully complete 30 minutes with P and a barre class on the Thursday. My first exercises/ training since the previous Tuesday – and I FELT IT.

P focused on legs… and I leg pressed more than my body weight. But it was cool. Except… at barre, Tyla decided it was LEG DAY. I made it through the class. But as soon as I climbed into bed (at 8pm – don’t judge) I was exhausted.

The inner of my thighs and sides (love handles) had the good post-workout feel. I LOVE the feeling; probably because I don’t feel it a lot. My body breaks down lactic acid pretty quickly so the day after training I don’t feel much.

Saturday saw me complete my first double of Week 3; barre and pilates. Barre was high intensity, pilates was murder with the pilates ring thing. After the double I had to drag my sorry ass to work where I felt as though I could have fallen asleep at any given moment. Alas, it is the life of a scientist…. the struggle is real people. Trust me. 😉

And no… no hot yoga for the past two weeks… I do miss it. But my favourite teacher Eliza is doing a class on a Sunday at the end of Week 4 so I may join it (if I survive Week 4…more on that a bit later).

Diet

My downfall. As usual. While I still have not indulged in sweets or ready-to-drink hot beverages (yay me!) I did have extra sugar.

Quite a bit of honey for my sore throat and sugary, deep-fried goodies at my folks. I must admit that I did not binge (as I expected)! And I did not feel bad and hate myself for it – perhaps because I knew what was coming so I could mentally prepare.

I’m still struggling with drinking enough water. A lot. It’s winter and its cold… (yes, excuses). But it is my aim for the next few weeks.

In terms of supplements I am religiously taking Omega 3, 6, 9 (Flaxseed oil) mostly cos my joints “creak” when I train! (Yes, old age – I know!). I am also taking Vitamin effervescents and realised I need a probiotic (too much info?).

Post-training, I have been taking my protein shake with some L-glutamine. However my protein shake of choice has been off the market for a while and I AM DESPERATE for SOMETHING! So I am on the look out and ANY vegetarian suggestions would be most welcome!

I’m officially down to two shakes….. I feel as though the shake gives me a boost… I can have a meal-replacement shake with milk – but that increases the dairy content. I’m still hooked on fat-free milk and low-fat yoghurts (yes they have artificial sweeteners) – for some reason I have mental block against full cream. However, it may be my disordered eating patterns from a few years ago.

Emotions

Week 3 was better emotionally – I accepted that I was ill and took it easy. I was also at home with my folks and extended family… we always manage to make each other laugh and it is a good distraction. I did shed a few tears but it was more circumstantial than self-criticism.

What was interesting, though, is that I did notice the more I physically healed from the infection, the more and more anxious I felt. My body CRAVED movement of any sort. My trip back to Jozi was only on Tuesday so by the time Thursday rolled around I was VERY ready to get active.

Stats

I weighed in on Saturday…. and I lost 2 kgs. How, I have no idea. I’m scared I’ve lost muscle, especially since I was ill. But we will see how the next few weeks progress. No photos this week – I ran out of time and wasn’t that brave – plus I knew my diet was craptastic (to say the least).

One of the aims for myself in the challenge – is to get some sort of ass. I mean, it is “booty barre” for a reason… As usual, my body does things weirdly and I think I’m losing what little of an ass I have. EEK!!!!!!

I also want to get more definition in my tummy as well as get rid of the love handles – which I do believe may be going away a bit – though it could be my imagination.

 

Week 4 

I’m stretching myself for Week 4… perhaps being a bit overzealous. But I think I can kick ass. Mind over matter, right? I hope!

It is doubles all the way for me this week – barre and pilates today (Monday), Tuesday and Saturday. I’m keen to try the triple on Saturday but we’ll see how I feel on Wednesday! In addition to the barre and pilates, I am training with P for 30 minutes on Tuesday and Thursday. I also want to try and attempt a hot yoga class on Sunday (beginning of week 5) but I will listen to my body…

Dietwise, I want to cut down the sugar (no more honey or refined sugar for me). I also need to desperately increase my intake of water (I am severely lacking). My electrolyte supplements unfortunately do contain some sucrose so I can’t get away from that entirely – especially if I do not drink enough water, my body requires the supplement.

In my enthusiasm to move more and eat clean in Week 4, I did forget that I am also on a lab rotation that is insanely busy… All. The. Time.

All this means is that I will (hopefully) sleep REALLY well this week and I need to be super prepared!

Good luck to me 😐

Support

The 8 week #GetFitChallenge was always going to be tough for me. I knew it even before signing up:

  • The discipline to complete the required classes per week (I can flake really easily and have some pretty lame excuses) and to get focussed in other non-work related areas
  • Trying to not eat sweets or drink highly processed ready-made beverages and consciously choosing to “eat-clean”
  • Learning to accept myself, my weaknesses and tune down the self-hate… boosting confidence

It was freaking scary to sign up. I was going solo on this. Some scary stuff; especially for someone who is very fond of my comfort zone and being invisible (yes, I know I need to change that). I’m very used to feeling “not good enough” and even signing up was HUGE for me. For some weird reason Robyn kept asking if I was keen on joining… I was – perhaps she sensed it? I don’t want to live a life of “what ifs” and I want to be more open and “seen” but I truly feel that I’m not worth it… Yes, my self esteem is shot. But this challenge is helping rebuild it…piece by broken piece.

To be honest I never in a million years expected anyone – let alone Robyn, the mastermind of the challenge – to read about my journey through the eight weeks. Robyn has truly been a pillar of strength, sending my words of encouragement and motivation. I can truly say it is because of Robyn that I have not thrown in the towel not the challenge yet. I love that she has created Core-Barre: a studio that is welcoming and a pleasure to visit. Everyone in the challenge is awesome: friendly, supportive, welcoming. It is kinda a “safe space”.

Now I need to get my ass out of work and off to class!

k x

Heartsore

It’s been a rough week for me. The week started out “bleh” and every day I felt a little more of my heart “squeeze” a little more (trust me, its real). It was a week of introspection and emotions – though there was not much outward displays of emotion on my part (which is a deviation from the norm for me…cos perhaps I am growing up).

Tuesday the 10th of Jan was the death anniversary of my paternal grandmother. She passed away in 2013. It was also the paternal grandfathers birthday – who, unfortunately, I never got to meet as he passed away before I made my entrance into this world. Because its my family, I guess they were trying to be economical…because January 10th is also the day my paternal aunt and uncle were married.. My uncle – my godfather – passed away suddenly, six months before my gran, in 2012.

Saturday the 14th of Jan would have been my maternal grandfather’s birthday. He passed away when I was 16. I was my first experience with death.

And I don’t think I’ve really death with it or worked through the “Kugler-Ross” grief stages. My default is to ignore and pretend it doesn’t happen.

So while I tried to ignore these dates and all the other feeling brewing inside me, I tried to keep occupied with work (I spent over 12 hours at work on one day trying to perform a two-day test in a single day). I also spent an incomprehensible amount of time on social media – which we all know makes us feel worse. I should’ve known better! Work – academic work has been piling up and I can’t seem to get to it…. I have opportunities that will only further my career yet I am scared. I worked out quite a bit, getting my ass kicked three days this week – thanks P – just to tire myself out to the point of exhaustion so I could sleep. My method, though highly flawed, seemed to working.

And then came Saturday.

It was an easy, no-real-plan-in-place day, just a few appointments. I went to bed on Friday night with a bit of anxiety and woke up with it on Saturday morning. I tried to go drug-free and ignore it…. While I was getting my eyebrows threaded I started sobbing. Not because of the pain (though it is incredibly painful and not something you get used to… beauty is pain, right?), but it was as if the floodgates opened and my heart broke free. My beautician, Cookie, has been a constant in my life for the past few years and I trust her implicitly. Cookie is an eyebrow queen and has made my stringing, busy brows look amazing. I love her and truly treasure my time with her and she always makes me laugh. Cookie is beautiful and has an awesome, tell-it-like-it-is view of life. She’s almost like mom surrogate mom. While we were chatting and catching up… … I broke down. Mid-thread.

Cookie let me cry. She allowed me to let it all out. I always feel safe with Cookie and being so vulnerable with someone who respects and allows you to be free is rare.  And so so so so appreciated.

Feelings I buried within the depths of myself came up.

  • I miss those who I have lost. I have never truly mourned their deaths. Why did they leave when they still had so much to teach me? Why did they leave before I told them how much they mean to me?
  • I’m scared to take the plunge and try something new for my career…for fear of change and that I have to relocate when I have built my own eclectic family (and someone who is special to me) and community here. Even though I know the plunge only open more doors for me.
  •  I’m frustrated, disillusioned and depressed that I do not know who I am, what I am meant to do in this world.
  • I worry I am getting older and won’t be able to have a relationship and family someday
  •  I have been hanging on to false hope (with the someone who is special to me) – instead of seeing that I am being “used and abuse”, a toy to be played with then discarded. I love and care for someone who has given me every reason not to… yet, I can’t let go and walk away (am I an idiot). These feelings hurt – especially when the way I feel, care, love is not reciprocated.
  • Why do I hate myself so much?

After my “breakdown”, Cookie finished my eyebrows (they are amazing, as always) and just gave me a hug. I needed it. I managed to slot in a haircut at the same salon as Cookie and while I was getting my hair washed, Cookie made me the most amazing hot chocolate I have ever had. it was a regular hot chocolate but it really soothed my soul at that point and set me at peace… I think because it was made by someone who personally took time out of her day to make me hot chocolate,  to show how much she cares about me. Its the little things in life. Cookie made my day and I got home smiling.

Until…now. I went to a Hot Yoga class this morning and made it through the class….only to get into my car and burst out crying. During class I looked at myself and could find rolls of fat that I despise. So much for me working out in a sports bra and leggings. Not the best way to handle yoga class at all. But I guess it is the state of mind I am in right now.

Crying is definitely the best release. I do feel more calm post-cry, but also exhausted… I haven’t felt this low about myself, my relationships, my body in a while and I do think the time has come for me to process the emotion of loss, move on and let go (for both the ones who are dead and the ones still alive). I also need to learn how to love myself – something I really struggle with. So I need to nurture myself a bit… while trying to be productive and disciplined… Life really is damn hard!

All in all, I’m still heartsore.

k x

hot-choc

 

Survival Of The Fittest

I’m a geneticist. A human geneticist. I love biology and pathways and everything that makes sense. I love that there is so much more to learn about the way genes are expressed,  modified and how they fit into the grand scheme of things. Genetics is an abstract term and a subject where I have noticed – people “get” or “don’t get”. I’m lucky I get it. I love that I can take a few known facts and come up with a hypothesis that seems logical (well, in my mind). It keeps my brain stimulated – constantly questioning and learning which is a personal value. I need to always be learning.

Genetic variation has allowed species to adapt to environments; allowing evolution of species by natural selection – survival of the fittest, so to speak. As Homo sapiens we have seemed to have “lost” the basic natural selection thanks to medical technology. But, we are still evolving – perhaps not in great physical strides, but in other ways. I’m going to go a little far out but bear with me…

Why am I going on about genetics, genetic variation and adaption? Well, its not as obvious as you may think. Our brains are amazing – the plasticity of the mind astounds me. We can change the way we think, (Disclaimer: I am NOT a neurobiologist). I’ve learnt that as humans we go through a metamorphosis – in the traditional sense, as well as on the emotional/intellectual level. Hear me out, and you’ll understand why.

I’ve been in a weird place for the past few years. And I’ve been beginning to question everything I know about the world – who am I? What am I here for? You can call it an existential crisis – which started since I was about 25. I’ve been trying new things, reading more laterally and opening my mind to understanding myself better.

For me, 2016 started with me attending regular therapy session with a psychologist. I went at least once a week and we embarked on Cognitive behavioural therapy. This way of thinking is weird for me (I’m a pessimist) YET there was nothing my logical brain could dispute. Example: If I say I just can’t take something anymore – well, I am “just taking it” because it hasn’t killed me yet. True? Yup, true. We – I – put connotations on things, and they are usually negative so I’ve in essence trained my brain to focus on the negative and it keeps me from trying new things, keeps me away from rejection.

After about 10 months of therapy, I felt I needed something a little different. Which is when I met Eliza at a hot yoga class. Apart from being a kick-ass hot yoga instructor Eliza runs an awesome company, Yoga Plus. One of the services she offers are facilitation classes – almost like life coaching.

Eliza does private facilitation sessions using the Demartini method. Now, I’m definitely not an authority figure on the subject and these are completely my views so there is a very good chance I’m horribly wrong. In a nutshell the Demartini method involves the facilitator asking lots of questions – focusing on a certain “block” you are currently experiencing – and you digging deep into yourself trying to answer. The questions may seem simple enough but when you try answering you really need to concentrate and remember… A lot of the process requires you to identify people in your life who have seen you/ witnessed you encompassing certain qualities/traits (and you need to talk about these situations) that you don’t like which is causing you stress.

Ultimately, the process shows you both sides of the coin – so to speak. It reframes the block (connotation: bad thing, bad relationship) so you can see the good and bad… Good as in how the block is “helping” you at this current moment and bad as in how the block is keeping you away from your ultimate goal. The bad is easy to figure out… The good – well, it makes you think a bit.

For example, I am struggling to complete a project, which I need to complete ASAP… It seems as if at every damn stage of the project I was hurled another obstacle – either professionally or personally which required my attention, instead of the project.  The two sides are:

  • Bad: It is keeping me from succeeding professionally, making me feel like a failure.
  • Good: I was made aware of things (e.g. starting my first job and first serious relationship (and the struggles that went along with it), researching alternate therapies for cognitive disorders, reading more about the mind/body connection) that allowed me to grow, research, learn – as a person…not just a scientist.

This did not even hit me before my session with Eliza but before my project I was a judgemental, snobby, know-it-all bitch. For real. It was either my way or no way at all. Everything in my mind was either black or white. If you had a differing opinion to me, you were an idiot. Reflecting on my journey and to the person I am now, I am a lot less judgemental and I acknowledge that there are shades of grey. Every obstacle I faced during the course of the journey allowed me to stop and grow as a person – subconsciously.

It is freaking mind blowing. The last session I had was few weeks ago and I’m still kinda freaked out (in a good way) about it. Everything was so clear… and it still is.

Eliza and the Demartini method has made me realise that all the obstacles in my path during the journey of my project was beneficial to me on an intellectual level – if not a proactive one to complete my project. Had I not experienced any adversity during my project – I would still be the same judgmental snobby bitch, probably very depressed and longing-for-more. Now, I’ve evolved and adapted intellectually to understand that there are other opinions and reasonings apart from my own and while I may still long-for-more I do know and acknowledge that every single person can teach me something…

We need to be intellectually and emotionally adaptable to live – to thrive (ok, I’m FAR from thriving) – in the world. We need to be open to all possibilities, to understand  opposing viewpoints and not get too frustrated by them.. If we do not, we will be desperately unfulfilled and unsatisfied with life – perhaps at the extreme suicidal (and I do go to the extreme).

Ultimately, my passion for genetics – with the help of Eliza (Yoga Plus) – taught me the most valuable lesson of all. Only the fittest “survive”. Talk about a light bulb moment…

Now…to kick my ass into gear and get writing!  Please check out Yoga Plus for an incredible facilitator and amazing hot yoga instructor!