One last peak at 2018 before I fully embrace 2019

I took just over a two week break from blogging for the holidays. I really just wanted to be with my family and friends. I spent a lot of time reflecting and remembering what things were like for me at this time last year. Man, last year at this time I was so fucking scared. It seems like a long time ago in comparison to how I feel right now; but at the same time it feels like it was just yesterday when I had a full breakdown at New Years Eve 2018. All I could think about was how unhappy I was and how badly I wanted and needed things to change. I was determined to get myself out of my despair, and to make some serious changes in my life but I was also so unsure of how I was going to do it, or if all the things I had planned out for myself in 2018 would work out.Despite all the confusion and fear, I didn’t know what else to do. So, I put my faith in God and wrote my first blog post of 2018. I literally couldn’t sleep, all I could think about was how I needed to get my emotions, my intentions out and blogging was the only thing that felt right. It was the only thing I could do. So, alone in my room listening to J. Cole I made my intentions for 2018 public and used that post as a mark for the very first day of the rest of my life.

Writing that blog post at the time may seem arbitrary to some, but it was the grandest gesture of love that I had done for myself in a really long time. It was also the most honest thing that I had written in a really long time. I don’t know about you, but for my entire life, whenever I would get really scared, I would not be able to make a single sound. Riding roller coasters as a kid, there would be moments where the fear that comes with the thrill of those rides would literally take my breath away. My stomach would fall out of my butt, and I would be mute until the fear went away and suddenly my voice would come back. That’s what it felt like when I was in the depths of my despair. I just shut down entirely. I would ball my eyes out and punish myself ruthlessly for being in such a bad place. This would only keep me from making healthy decisions. It was a vicious cycle of me being sad and afraid, putting on a brave face because I couldn’t let anyone really know just how afraid I felt because it would only make me feel more afraid. Then I would make some unhealthy decision to try and numb the fact that I was deeply afraid, and I had monsters that I just couldn’t bring myself to face. Then I would feel guilty for making that unhealthy decision. And the wheel keeps spinning.

Eventually, I would feel so much guilt that I would feel guilty about every decision that made me happy because I didn’t think I deserved happiness. I felt like I was fucking up so much at life that I didn’t deserve to go out, see my friends, spend any money on myself; anything really. I felt like I didn’t deserve anything. I would date guys who were so emotionally unavailable that when I needed them the most they were nowhere to be found. I mean they could literally be in the same room as me, and it would fee like I was completely alone. It was fucking exhausting. This mental warfare that I was raging against myself was exhausting. So exhausting that it prevented any motivation to do anything. I would Netflix and chill with the cat on a steady basis.

I’m heavily extroverted but I would only see my friends at party situations so that it would be really difficult to speak honestly with them. These were just some of the tactics I used to keep myself at an arms length from the people who cared about me the most. I fought a lot with my family. I lied a lot to them because I was so afraid of letting them know how much of a disappointment I was. I was so ashamed. No one had to shame me, and if they did, they were just reflecting the shame I was putting on to myself. I could see how afraid my parents were for my well-being, and their fear only added gasoline to the fire that I felt was blazing all around me. It was so hard to be around them because they reminded me of all the fear that I felt on a constant basis. Everything that I was too afraid to face, they would in a lot of ways would force me to face by being afraid themselves.

These were the fears, and feelings that I had walking into 2018. This was all my emotional baggage that I had to finally face in order to move my life forward in a constructive way. Looking back now, I’m so grateful to all of the people in my life who were honest with me. The people who helped me to take a deep look into the mirror and to see myself not for all my faults, and mistakes, but as a human being. Someone who is flawed but perfect and beautiful at the same time. Thank you Alexandra Rinaldo for listening. Thank you for being patient, loving, and understanding with yourself. Thank you for taking the time to take proper care of yourself and your dreams. Thank you for loving yourself enough to commit to yourself 150%. Thank you for being honest. Thank you for choosing to step towards the light despite how dark everything seemed to be. Thank you for finding your voice. Thank you for speaking out. It is because of you Alexandra that you can look back at this time last year with kindness in your heart. You can look back with loving eyes and with pride because of how far you’ve come. The Alexandra that you were then hasn’t gone just yet but you are much closer to letting that person go than ever before. She’s fading into the background. One day you won’t be able to recognise her. When that day comes it will be bittersweet; just like this blog post; full of love.

This year, as I had stated in my last blog post; https://alexrinaldo.wordpress.com/2018/12/18/concluding-2018-my-intention-recap/ I will be focusing on bringing more love into my life. I could not think of a better way to start doing that then by spending time with the people who love me most, this includes time that I devoted completely to myself. Something that I didn’t particularly enjoy before 2018. However, it was during 2018 that I had to learned how to be happy with myself, and by myself. I had to learn to love myself again in order to find my power. Without love, there would be no way that I would believe that I had any power at all. I’m still working on it but man has the love for myself grown. I feel so much happier and at peace with myself. I’m a lot more confident and optimistic for this year because I feel like I’ve put in the work. I’m ready to reap the benefits. I made a lot of hard choices. I humbled myself like I’ve never been humbled before. I poured my heart out onto the internet. I volunteered to clean a yoga studio every Friday evening in exchange for yoga. I decided to leave fitness entirely and to change my career path completely. I left my place in Liberty Village to move back into my parent’s place for a little while so that I could take better care of my health, save some money, and switch career paths. None of these decisions have been easy but they’ve been right. I know they’re right because the more I listen to myself and trust myself the quicker my life seems to improve. I feel so much more in touch with who I am as a person then I’ve felt in a really long time. I’m going to keep loving myself in this way because I know that this love will continue to spill out into all of my relationships, and life pursuits. There is literally nothing you can’t accomplish with a heart full of love.


Concluding 2018: My Intention Recap

The theme for me this month was to reflect on the Intention I set at the beginning of the year last year based on the Soul Map I did this time last year in December. I recently re-read and re-did my Soul Map, and looking back it’s crazy to see how much I’ve grown in the past year. Based on my Soul Map, my intention for the year 2018 was to regain or to “find my power.” It’s crazy how much more powerful I felt once I let myself feel all my feelings, work through them and then let them go. It feels like in 2018 I did one huge life detox! I had to step away from life for a bit so that I could heal past wounds and I decided to share my experience along the way via this blog. I realised this year just how much you gain from vulnerability and just being real. This was probably the most powerful lesson I’ve learned this year. There is strength in numbers, but no one can really join your team or be there for you when you need them if you’re not honest about who you are and what you need.

I knew I would heal so much faster if I was just honest about how I was feelings about everything. Why hide so much about yourself from people? What is that going to achieve? I have realised more now than ever before that this is causing more harm than good. I feel much healthier, and capable in my life now than I’ve felt in a really long time and that’s only because I have been working so diligently on my own healing. Because I’ve taken myself more seriously; in all aspects of my life, I feel so much more important, and powerful. I forgot just how many people give a fuck about me! Writing this blog always reminds me of that. People contact me via social media, in the comments of this blog, via text, via phone call, or a one on one hangout to tell me that they have taken the time to read my blog and how much they’ve felt like they could relate or that they enjoyed it. Man! Knowing that makes my heart want to burst right out of my chest. In a Care Bear kind of way… Not in some gross American Horror Story kind of way. 

I’m so happy that you read and care about me but also to know that what I’ve been writing has helped you in some way. You have no idea how much that inspires and motivates me to do more?! There is nothing in this world that I want to do more than to help others. Again, it reminds me how much stronger we are in numbers. How much we gain from relating to one another. There’s so much you could learn from your neighbour if you just took the time to reach out, and extend a little love. Genuinely ask people how they’re doing. Show them you care. Call them, and ask how are you? And if you’re not satisfied with how that person answered that question, ask them the same question in another way. Listen to them. They will open up once you’ve built that trust with them. Once that person sees how much you genuinely care about their well-being they will be more forthright with their feelings. I’m so glad that I could create such a community of trust and mutual love around my blog. For myself and for those who take the time to read it. My gratitude towards you all is so great you don’t even know. The good vibes around this space is so good, and that is so great because it hasn’t always been so easy to be so vulnerable and transparent on this website. I did my best to protect the people involved but I’m glad that I was able to share my story. I will continue to share my stories because it has been such a great tool for mutual healing, I’m not going to let the fact that I can’t control how people interpret my words stop me from being honest about how past traumas have impacted my life. I know that these stories impact more people than just myself, and that’s why I speak only about my love and forgiveness. I never mean any harm when I write, I just want to heal. 

Writing this blog has always been such an empowering tool for me and it has been monumental in helping me grow as a human being in more ways than just one. I’ve been taking workshops about how to improve my web content and how to extend my reach. This blog and the people who read my blog are the reasons why I take my writing so seriously. It’s helping me and others and I know that what I’m beginning to create here online is such a powerful tool. I know that my stories are valid. I want to validate other people, especially women. Women need find ways to validate their own feelings and personal stories. It’s okay to be honest about how you feel. It’s okay to talk about the parts of our lives that we don’t feel so good about. Not talking about it only makes the situation worse. It keeps us isolated from one another. The more you don’t talk about your unhappiness, the more you try to repress it to “save” someone else from hurting their feelings is only pulling you apart from those you love. When you speak of your unhappiness, it’s not a reflection of yourself or the people in your life. What you are speaking about is a common lived experience and your perspective on what happened and how it affected you. Because you have a different lived experience than anyone else involved, you will have a different perspective on the events that occurred. It does not make you “wrong” if how you feel about a situation differs from someone else. If we continue to try and punish one another for the pain we’ve caused each other we will never be able to move on and grow in love. 

Lack of honest communication, as well as forgiveness towards yourself and everyone involved is the reason the pain festered and grew into the toxic monster that keeps everyone apart. If we were able to express our feelings more freely, in a way that was loving and not abusive, we would probably still have more relationships with the people we used to love so much. These are the things that I’m trying to move further and further away from. There’s too many people in my life that I love with all my heart that I would never want to continue to feel any sort of distance from. The closer we allow ourselves to get with one another the stronger we become as a community. As they say, it takes a village to raise a child. So think of the children that are coming to your families or circles of close friends. These are the next generation of adults. It is up to us to show them what love and compassion is. If we can’t do it for ourselves, how are they supposed to learn? 

My intention for the coming new year is to grow my love. Grow my love for myself, my friends, my family, and generally anyone I come into contact with. I’m going to do my absolute best to try and be the best version of myself to everyone, even if they are not necessarily the same towards me. I will still have boundaries. I will not accept people’s negative behaviour but I will not allow their choices affect my behaviour. At least in theory. This is going to be my greatest challenge. It is really hard for me to not be so reactionary. I was raised in a way that if you didn’t have a big reaction to something you “didn’t care enough.” So much drama. I am a dramatic person, but I’m sure I would live a happier life if I choose to listen before reacting or becoming defensive. If I choose to breath before freaking out. If I choose to find the love in the situation instead of becoming defensive. Like I’ve said before, there is so much strength in numbers, and to grow your numbers you need to create a space and community for love, compassion and forgiveness. That is what I want to continue to do for myself and others. I will grow love through presence, listening, and understanding, or at least I will try my best. I’m sure there will still be some drama in my life, but I hope that through the intentions that I’ve set out for myself, I’ll be better equipped to handle them. I don’t think this is a one year sort of intention, but neither was my intention from last year. They are starting to become my life mantras. Decisions that I’m making for how I want to aspire myself to be as much as possible for the rest of my foreseeable future.  


How to make your goals a reality

Last week I wrote a piece about New Years Resolutions, and how you should pick your goals not based on what you think you should do, or have, but based on what makes you happy. If you haven’t read that piece yet, I highly suggest that you do; because in a way this is a part two to that article. New Year’s Resolutions should be based on what makes you happy, and not based on what you think you should have… However, if you’ve read that piece? Awesome! But either way, I’m sure you will find this second article helpful. It has been just over a full week into 2018, and I have to say that I have never felt more productive! I haven’t taken so much time to focus on myself and my happiness in a really long time! Even though it’s been just over a week, I feel like I’ve already accomplished so much, even if it doesn’t really show on paper. How can that be? Well that’s basically what this article is about. So far, I have laid down the foundation to turn my goals, intentions, and resolutions into reality, and now I’m going to show you how you can do the same!

First of all, in order to make your goals and intentions for 2018 a reality, you must first figure out what those are. You need to set some time aside to reflect and do a little soul searching. Over the Christmas Holidays and into the New Year, I have done a lot of soul searching, I literally did a Soul Map. The blog where I found the Soul Map was recommended to me by a very close friend of mine, it’s called Love Warrior by Catie Fenn. The Soul Map was an excellent way to get me thinking about 2018 in a very productive way. It forced me to really reflect on my current life, the life that I wanted for myself, and the gap between the two. It was definitely an intense and emotional experience, but it was well worth it. It is really hard to be completely honest with yourself. We don’t really take the time to self-reflect and to be alone with our thoughts because we’re afraid. We’re afraid of the truth. It is in your own heart where you will find your own truth. You know yourself, and what you need more than anyone else, and you know how to get those things. The problem however, is trusting yourself. There are quite a few of us, myself included, who have lied to ourselves about who we are, and what we are capable of. We have told ourselves false stories to “protect” ourselves from failing, but that never moves us forward! And that, in itself is failing!

Now, some of us have been telling ourselves lies for so long that we don’t know what the truth is anymore, and no matter how much other people try to remind us of that truth, it’s really hard to believe, and it’s really hard to accept. It’s funny, this is a direct quote from me to a close friend about 3 years ago, “I wish you could see yourself, how I see you…” Oh how the tables have turned! If you are having a hard time being positive towards yourself, there is no shame in asking for help! Another thing I have learned personally. This is me finally taking my own advice… Self reflection is very important to setting your goals and intentions, however, your self reflection cannot be self-destructive! That is counter productive. There is nothing wrong with admitting your faults. In fact, it is quite healthy. The key is to not dwell on your mistakes. Forgiveness takes time, especially when it is towards yourself, but the only way to get to a point of acceptance, is to understand that whatever mistakes you have made in the past happened for a reason. For whatever reason, you weren’t ready, and that’s okay. Now, you know where you went wrong, and that is the first step in making it better for the future. You can no longer focus on the what ifs, or should haves, you need to focus on the present moment. This is a lesson I’ve learned over the Christmas Holidays, and more importantly, on New Year’s Eve. New Year’s Eve was when I let go of the tremendous amount of guilt I was feeling. I was feeling guilty about the mistakes I’ve made in the past, and how dishonest I’ve been to myself, and those around me.Letting those feelings go has been a major step for me to start thinking about the future. What can I do today to move towards happiness, self-acceptance, and forgiveness? These are the questions that you should be asking yourself during your time of reflection.

Now that you have done the Soul Map, or whatever form of self-reflection that you find helpful, you can start to form your intention for 2018. What do you want to see happen for yourself in 2018? Your intention will help you figure out your goals for the year to come. Your goals will reinforce your intention for the year, and your intention for the year will reinforce your goals. Your intention is your “why” behind your goals, it is your purpose. We all need a purpose or a reason why. It is our purpose that gives us meaning in our lives, and helps us to discover why our goals are so important to us, and therefore, will help us to carry out these goals even when it gets tough. For me, my intention for 2018 is to “rediscover myself and my power.” My ideal self is someone people can rely on. I get so much joy in helping others. I have realized though, that I can’t help anyone until I am able to help myself. Hence my intention, rediscover myself and my power. It is when I feel the most powerful, that I can do the most good for others.

How do I get myself feeling powerful? This is where I developed a to do list for 2018, as well as concrete goals and action steps to help me live out my intention of re-discovering my power. A tool that really helped me with this, was from this workshop that I did this past Saturday; we did this chart where we placed our “life buckets” career development, financial health, emotional and mental health, physical health, relationships, and intentional living in order from what we think needs the most focus in 2018 or what we think is the most important to us in 2018. Then we set an intention for each of our life buckets. Since I already thought about a lot of these things, it was a lot easier for me to order my life buckets and for me to set an intention for each of them. After we set our intention for each bucket, we then set a S.M.A.R.T goal for each bucket for next week, then next month, then a goal for the next 6 months, and finally next year. What is a S.M.A.R.T goal? It is Specific; meaning it is well defined, and it is directly related to your intention. It is Measurable; you need to know when you’ve reached this goal, so you should have a framework of some sort in place to keep track of your progress. Achievable; you need to figure out how you’re going to achieve this goal? What are the action steps you are going to take to make this goal a reality? Relevant; this is the why to your “how.” Why is the action you’re planning going to bring you closer to your intention? Time bound; it is important to set a deadline for your goal. Make sure you give yourself enough time, but not too long, that you forget about it. Looking at the goals and the to-do list that I’ve made already and adapting the S.M.A.R.T formula to them, really helped me gain focus. It also made me feel so much better about being able to complete my goals for 2018. The workshop that I went to was FREE (awesome!) and it was called How to: Ditch the Resolutions & #livealittlextra in 2018 by Brittnei Gaudio, who is the founder of #itsalifestyle. I would definitely check her out if you live in the Toronto area and you would like a little help mapping out your year. It can be very overwhelming thinking about all the things you want to change in the New Year, but by breaking your goals down into smaller goals, with an action plan, and timeline to complete them, makes everything seem so much more manageable!

Another very helpful tool that I was given by Brittnei Gaudio, was Gretchen Rubin’s Quiz: The Four Tendencies. This quiz was based off her book The Four Tendencies. I’m currently reading Gretchen’s book The Happiness Project, and after taking this quiz I have put this book at the top of my reading list! Once you’ve completed the quiz, you will find out what your tendency is, and you will be given a free detailed report on your tendency as well. After completing this quiz and finding out that my tendency was “Obliger,” (not that this was a surprise to me) but it really got me thinking about how I have used this to my advantage in the past, and how it has been a hindered me as well. The Four Tendencies best describe how we respond to expectations. As an obliger, I tend to be better at meeting outer expectations, than inner expectations. This makes a lot of sense to me; I have a really hard time saying “No” to people and it is also a big reason why I have become so unhappy recently. It is so much easier for me to take care of others, and to meet their expectations of me, then it is for me to do the things I know I need to be doing for myself (especially if these things seem daunting or hard).”Obliger: I do what I have to do. I don’t want to let others down, but I may let myself down,” quote from my free tendency report. This may seem pretty terrible, but it doesn’t have to be. I like helping others, but I also know that I need to be able to help myself first so that I can better help others.

Now that I know my tendency, I can better motivate myself to do the things that I want to do. As an obliger, no matter how badly I want to do something for myself, it won’t happen unless I adapt an “accountability strategy.” When I look back to times when I was most successful at following through with my goals, I was very aware of my tendency, without having put a name to it. For example, when I competed in bodybuilding, I had a lot of external sources of accountability that kept me on track, and eventually got me to my second place win! I had a coach who checked in with me every week. We both posted photo updates of my progress on social media, so I had the online community holding me accountable. I also expressed my wishes to compete to all my friends and family. I constantly reminded them of my show date, not only because I wanted them all to be there to cheer me on, but because it also helped me stay motivated. I knew that all the people who matter most were going to be there, and I had to win! Not only for myself but for them as well (I wanted to give them something to celebrate). I literally let anyone I possibly could know about my intentions to win my bodybuilding competition, I wrote about it on this blog, I talked about it with my clients, my group fitness classes, anyone who would listen. This all helped me do the best that I possibly could, because in my mind all these people cared about my competition. In reality, they probably didn’t (at least not everyone cared), but that really doesn’t matter. To me they cared, and because I thought they were watching, I was diligent about doing everything possible to be successful. I even went to the Wayhome Music Festival and packed all of my competition diet food! I was so proud of myself the day of my show, I already felt like I won, and after prejudging, I knew I was between first and second place. I was over the moon because I set my sights on something, and I obsessively worked towards it until the very end. For me, I need to talk about my intentions with others ALL THE TIME. I need EVERYONE to know exactly what I plan to do, and how I’m going to do it. Then I go out, and do the things I told everyone I was going to do.

My advice to you is to is to find out what you want for yourself this year. Create an intention for yourself, and then use that intention to figure out what your goals are for this year. Make sure that your goals are S.M.A.R.T! Once you have your why, and your action steps for the year, figure out what your tendency is, how do you respond to inner and outer expectations? Once you know what your tendency is, reflect on that. Try to remember times when you were most successful, what did you do then that got you to your goals? What strategies did you implement for you to be successful? Now that you know what you want, what you’re going to do to get what you want, and how you’re going to do it, there is no reason why you shouldn’t be successful! I have come to realize that your greatest strengths aka tendencies can also be your greatest weakness. The key is to understand this, and use your strengths to your advantage. I know that I am an obliger, and as such, I have created a large network of people who I can rely on. They are the same people who I have told my goals to, and have asked to check in on me regularly to make sure that I achieve these goals in 2018. I need to be held accountable to myself, and I need help doing that. This is another reason why I’m writing this blog; so that I may be able to help someone else while also helping myself.

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Quote from Oh The Places You’ll Go ❤ So many nuggets of truth in that book! 

https://www.surveygizmo.com/s3/3706759/Gretchen-Rubin-s-Quiz-The-Four-Tendencies


New Year’s Resolutions should be based on what makes you happy, and not based on what you think you should have…

Happy New Year! It’s officially 2018 and many of us have done some reflecting on the year past, and I’m sure many of us are now looking forward to the new year and all the possibilities that it brings. You don’t really need New Year’s Eve to decide to make a change in your life, but since many of us have decided to at least think about some of the things we want to see in 2018 (many of these things being fitness related) I decided to write a post that may help you with some of your fitness resolutions or your resolutions in general.

Over the past few months, but especially over the Christmas Holidays, I have been doing a lot of reflecting myself. I have thought a lot about the things that I want in my life, how I am currently living my life, and the gap between these two things. My intention for 2018 is to close the gap. However, I have also realized that if happiness is something that you ultimately want to achieve, losing 10 lbs, or getting that new job, won’t necessarily bring you the happiness that you desire. There’s nothing wrong with wanting more for yourself. You should always strive for personal growth, but it is the growth itself that brings joy, not the tangible goals. This is something that I’ve been learning, something that I couldn’t get out of my head last night. The lyrics from the song Love Yourz by J.Cole, “no such thing as a life that’s better than yours, no such things as a life that’s better than yours, no such thing, no such thing…” kept playing in my head over and over again. I literally had to apply some meditative breathing to slow down my thoughts so that I could actually get some rest. J.Cole is one of my favorite rappers. I love his music and his message, and I especially love this song. I think it’s such an important message, one that I think we need to keep reminding ourselves of. Most rappers flaunt all the things they have, as if that is important, and then you have J.Cole telling you that none of that really matters, because there’s always going to be someone out there who seems to have more than what you have. The grass isn’t always greener on the other side, and you’re never going to be happy until you love and appreciate the things you do have. When you are unhappy, or if you feel like you could be more happy, it’s easy to look to social media and think about all the things you don’t have. This will only keep you unhappy. “Comparison is the thief of joy,” as they say.

Social media only shows the glamour, all you see is “success” but you rarely see the struggle. You rarely see the journey that it took to get to that point. Referencing the same song Love Yourz “there’s beauty in the struggle…” This may seem hard to believe because so much of us are so focused on the end goal. We are so focused on having the perfect body, the perfect partner, the perfect life. It seems like we are always looking to others to fulfill ourselves, as if someone else has a better idea of how we can be a better/happier person. When you look at Instagram for example, it seems like these people have perfect lives, and perfect bodies. All you see are these beautifully presented dishes of healthy food, with these beautiful backdrops. It all looks so good! Who wouldn’t want that?! But no one ever really questions whether or not they really need those things to truly be happy? Instead, we are constantly focusing on the things we lack. I’m not saying that social media is all evil. It certainly is not! It’s a great place for us to connect with one another, to share ideas, and to lift each other up. It all depends on how the platform is used. It’s not the tool itself that’s bad, but it is how we use this tool, our intentions behind it. Constantly looking at your phone at beautiful images of other people is not going to change your life. You can most definitely learn from other people, but they cannot fix your problems, they can’t make you a happy person. Also, posting images of only the beautiful parts of your life is not going to mask the things that you are not happy with. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t celebrate the positives in your life. You most definitely should! All I’m saying is that running away from the things that scare you will not make them disappear. It’s very easy to pretend on social media, but what happens on Instagram or Facebook really doesn’t matter. For the most part, what we see on social media really doesn’t change our lives, only we have the power to change our lives.

It’s funny, I recently started reading this book called The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin, and on the fourth page I already found a nugget of truth that really spoke to me, “they say that people teach what they need to learn.” I read this line on the Go train yesterday and had a moment of realization. I am constantly teaching others to love and accept themselves. I’m constantly motivating others to be the best version of themselves, when I should really be doing that for myself. I’m always seeing the potential in others and doing all that I can to help those people realize that for themselves, but what about me? A quote from Alice in Wonderland, “she gave herself very good advice, though she very seldom followed it.” Here I am at the brink of 2018 feeling a huge amount of guilt because I know that I haven’t been the person I know I am. It was a huge weight sitting on my chest, it felt as though I couldn’t breath. Literally, just before midnight I had a breakdown. Thank God for my friends who were there for me, who helped me realize that I need to let this all go. I need to forgive myself for my mistakes, and I need to move on in order to be happy. I need to trust myself more. I know all there is to know about being happy because I’ve experienced it before. I know what makes me feel the most fulfilled. I know myself through and through, and I know that lately I have been lying to myself. So much so, that I’ve learned to not trust myself anymore. Now I find myself in a place where I don’t recognize who I am anymore. My intention for 2018 is to rediscover myself and my power, because I know that I am a strong and powerful person.

Now you may be asking yourself, why is she telling me all this stuff? What does any of this have to do with health and fitness? What does any of this have to do with my own resolutions and goals? First of all, I’m telling you all this because I felt like this was a big step in me being honest with myself, and being honest with the people who care about me most. I have not been as happy or motivated as I have been in the past. My life isn’t bad, but it’s not where I want to be, and I’ve come to realize that, that is okay. I may not be the person who I aspire to be yet, but that does not mean it’s impossible. I am everything that I need to be right now, and once I believe that completely there is nothing that I can’t do. I hope that this helps some of you realize the same thing. You are smart enough, strong enough, pretty enough, you are enough, and your life is enough. You have everything you need to be happy, and if you don’t, then you have the ability to change that.

What does this have to do with health and fitness? Your health and well-being is linked to your overall happiness. You will never have happiness if you don’t take care of your needs. Everyone has different physical, psychological, and emotional needs that need to be met on a daily basis in order to be happy. So, if happiness is the ultimate goal in life? Then you need to choose your fitness goals accordingly. Looking “perfect” won’t necessarily bring you happiness. Speaking from personal experience, I’ve done two bodybuilding shows, and at my second show I won second place. Looking back, I realize that it wasn’t the show itself that brought me happiness, or the body that I had. I mean I looked awesome, and that made me feel good, but, I didn’t love the things I had to do in order to achieve the condition I needed to be in for the stage, which is probably why I don’t plan on returning to the stage any time soon. But I did love all the things my body could do. I loved the challenge of prepping for a show. I loved the fact that I was taking time to take care of myself everyday. I wanted to win! And in order to win, I had to make myself a priority. I had to have all my meals prepped, I had to workout twice a day, and in order to do all of that I had to make a schedule and stick to it. This got me to be more organized, and productive. I loved that my show was an excuse for all my favorite people to come and support me, and celebrate with me. Even though they would have done this regardless of what I was doing. So, if you think about it? I loved all the byproducts that came from doing a show, not necessarily the show itself. The lesson that I’m trying to share with all of you is this: when you make yourself a priority and you take care of your needs first, you are more likely to be happy. And when you’re happy, you are better able to help make others happy as well.

This is a lesson that I am re-learning. I have allowed life and circumstance to get the best of me, and because of that I haven’t been meeting my needs in order to be happy. I haven’t been working out everyday. I haven’t had all my meals planned and prepped. I haven’t been as organized as I normally am, and therefore I haven’t been as  productive as I could be. The list goes on. However, I know how to do all of these things. I have done them before, and I know that I need these things in order to be happy. I need to feel productive, healthy, strong, and accomplished in order to be happy. I need to be around friends and family. I need to have fun, and let loose. I can go on and on, but basically for my New Years Resolutions this year, I do still have tangible goals that I want to achieve, however, I’m focusing more on my intentions for this year. What do I want to see happen for myself this year? Like I said earlier, I want to rediscover my power. Working out everyday, eating food that I’ve prepared that is healthy, setting a schedule and sticking to it, getting enough sleep, challenging myself in and out of my career, being with my friends and family, all of these things make me feel powerful. When I feel powerful, I feel like myself, and that is when I am the most happy. I like to think of myself as a fighter, and that is what I intend to be by the end of 2018. Best of luck with your own personal goals and intentions, but my advice to you (and to myself) is to love yours. Love yourself, love your life, be grateful for all that you have and for all that is to come. There’s no such thing as a life that’s better than yours, and you only get one, so once you believe that, you can be happy.

 

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Crossing over into 2018 with some of the people I admire most ❤

 

 


New Year, New Blog: The Blame Game, a Reflection of the Past Year and the Year to come

Over the past year of 2016, I have not been so good with the frequency of my blog posts. I was even in the middle of writing my 12 Days of Fitmas this past December, and I didn’t finish it. There are several reasons for this, but there really isn’t a point in going through my various excuses. However, I did make a promise to myself last weekend during New Years Eve, that I would be more committed to my blog this year. Whether or not I follow through with this New Years resolution is completely up to me, and no matter what crazy stuff life throws at me, at the end of the day I have made a commitment to myself and to this blog. “Life” cannot be used as an excuse for anyone to not be able to achieve their goals, because bad things happen to everyone. Life is hard for everyone. Life harder for some more than others, but at the end of the day you can’t let yourself become a victim of circumstance. You can never give up on yourself, even if it seems utterly hopeless at first. Why? Because it doesn’t mean it has to stay that way!

The past year of 2016, for the most part has been deemed “a bad year,” by a lot of people on social media. I’ve seen so many memes, and songs made up about how 2016 took more things from us, than it gave us, and basically how they were so excited for 2016 to be over. This got me thinking… I wouldn’t say that 2016 was the worst year ever, at least not for me personally. There were a lot of good things that happened in 2016, some bad things for sure, but mostly 2016 was a year of a lot of change for me. If anything, 2016 was a very stressful year for me. I had to make a lot of hard decisions, and adjustments. I learned a lot, and I’m still learning. Change is good, and I’m happy so far with how things have been going. I feel as though I’m on the right path. But that doesn’t change that fact that change is also very hard. However, going through all of this change in my life and learning all these new things, has not changed some of my core values. This is why I am still so committed to this blog. Fitness, and health still matter so much to me, and so does helping other people. These things all make me so happy, and I cannot give those up no matter what is happening in my life. I’ve realized this past year even more so, how valuable working out and eating well is to me. This is because for a while during the summer I was living in this limbo between my Mississauga life, and the new life I’ve been trying to create in Toronto. I’m still in the process of forming my life in Toronto, but at least I’m fully situated in the city, and I am now better able to commit to my workouts and my regular diet.

Having a consistent workout regime, and a balanced diet can really help you have a better handle of the stress that life throws at you. I’ve learned that in the past for sure, and sometimes I forget, we’re all human, but I always remember how I was better organized, and prepared for life when I had a schedule, and consistent workouts. I felt like the best version of myself when I had fully committed myself to my own happiness. When I was properly taking care of myself by sleeping properly, working out regularly, preparing my own meals, and holding myself accountable to my schedule/workload, I was able to do more things than I ever could imagine! That doesn’t mean that I forgot about my loved ones, heck no! I could never do that! If anything I felt like I was better able to be there for the people I loved because I was so positive in my own life.

What I’m trying to say to all of you is this, since it’s a new year, put 2016 to bed. Stop blaming everyone else for the terrible things that may have happened last year. Accept that not everything in life went the way you hoped it would, but that doesn’t mean you can’t change the future. The future is always bright, and change is always good! It may not always seem like that at first, but good things will always find their way out of a seemingly terrible situation. The key is to not fall victim to the situations that happen in life, but to learn from them. You must hold onto your values, and the things that make you the most happy and proud to be the person you are. Take these things, and use them to guide you through sticky situations, and to help you find the positives in what may seem like a desperate situation.

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My first awkward workout selfie of the New Year!! LOL 


I Hope Your New Year’s Resolutions Came From Love

I hope your New Year’s Resolutions came from love, a love for yourself. Even if you haven’t made a resolution or set any goals for yourself yet this year, when you do, I hope that is comes from a place of love. Why? Well there are many reasons, but mostly because there is nothing more genuine than true love. Instead of sleeping last night, I was thinking about all the things that I’ve accomplished or done in the past, and then I was thinking about all the things that I have planned in the future, and then it hit me! All of the positive things that I’ve done in life have come from love. Let me explain…

As I’ve grown up I’ve learned to really love myself. I’ve learned that I am the most important person in MY life, and that if I don’t truly love myself, then how can I expect others to? Now I know this sounds so cliche, but hear me out! When you truly love someone, you only want the best for that person. You want to see them happy, and you want to see them succeed. However, many of us don’t truly love ourselves, and because of this, none of us really reach our full potential. When you stop loving yourself, you stop trusting yourself, you pretty much lose your sense of self-worth. When this happens, you no longer think that you’re capable of accomplishing much of anything, so you set your standards pretty low. You hold yourself back from really doing anything, and void yourself of being truly happy. WHY?!?! Why is it that we are so much more willing to help someone else achieve happiness than ourselves? It doesn’t make any sense to me at all. I honestly believe that if you are in a healthy relationship with yourself, then you can really have healthy relationships with other people. Plus, once you’re in a healthy relationship with yourself, you will start to treat yourself better, and heighten your sense of self-worth. Once you’ve started doing that you will start to expect more from yourself, and the people around you.

Which leads me to what I was saying about setting goals for yourself out of love. Your goals need to come from a positive place, and they most definitely must mean something to you. For example, if you have any fitness goals for yourself, you can’t say “I need to lose weight cause I’m ugly and fat.” That is not coming from a place of love, you need to set goals for yourself because you feel as though you deserve better. You need to believe that you think you’re better than the life you’ve been leading, and you deserve to be happier. So, if your goal is to lose weight, then it should be because you don’t like the way you feel anymore, and you know that you deserve to be happy, healthy, and to feel good in your own skin. Instead of cutting yourself down before you set out to make a New Year’s Resolution, you should instead be working to build yourself up! It is much more motivating to carry out your goals if you honestly believe that you deserve them, and that someday they will be yours. It is hard to believe those things if you’re constantly bringing yourself down. You are your worst enemy, but you don’t have to be! You can be your best asset!

As I’ve mentioned above, you are the most important person in your life! Only you will truly reap the benefits of your hard work, and only you will suffer from not achieving your goals. You create your own happiness, and your happiness can only come from a true love for yourself. If you learn to love yourself, you will learn to trust yourself, and you will then push yourself to be more, achieve more, and love more. Your life will only start to improve, once you start improving the relationship with yourself. The next time you want to cut yourself down, don’t! Focus on the positives! Think about how far you’ve come! It is hard to do, but you must always tell yourself that this is temporary, you can only get better from here.

I would not have been able to accomplish all that I have so far if I didn’t have a love for myself. I would not have been able to get through some of the rough patches of my life, if I did not have a good relationship with myself, and the people around me. All the goals that I set out for myself last year, as well as this year come from a place of love. I love to body build, it makes me happy. I love fitness, it is my life, so I’ve made it my career. I love connecting with people, so I’m writing this blog. I want to win, because I know that I deserve to win! I want to be happy, because I deserve to be happy, and right now I know that I could be so much more than I am right now. That is how I set my goals, and my standards for myself. It comes from a place of love, I love these things, and I love myself, so I push myself to be better at the things that bring me the most joy. I am constantly pushing myself to want more, and to be more, because I know I can. The only reason that I know this, is because I have formed a good relationship with myself over the years. It takes time, and my relationship with myself is always being tested, but at the end of the day, nobody knows yourself more than you do. It is up to you to either build yourself up, or to break yourself down. So my wish for you is to build yourself up! Set positive goals for yourself that come from a genuine place called love. You should always want more for yourself, just like you do for your loved ones. If they deserve the best things in life, well so do you!

 


Day 12 of the Twelve Days of Fitmas: How do I change my Mentality? How do I get into Fitness?

It’s Boxing Day! And today is the last day of the 12 Days of Fitmas! New Years Eve is coming up soon, and I know that this is the time of year where we reflect on the year past, and plan for the year ahead. A lot of us make New Years Resolutions, or set goals for ourselves. And some of us say they don’t bother making resolutions because they never stick to them anyway… Well who’s fault is that? It is your responsibility to hold yourself accountable to achieving your goals, whatever they may be! There are people out there who can help hold you accountable, and guide you to achieving your goals, but at the end of the day, it needs to come from you.

This leads me to today’s post. Last weekend, I was at a Christmas party for one of the gyms that I train at, and I was asked by one of the members, “how do I change my mentality? How do I get into fitness?” She was genuinely interested in knowing my “why” behind my motivation to stay fit. This is a question that I get many times over. Most people hate working out, they simply don’t enjoy it, or they would love to try it, but are completely intimidated by it. Fitness is hard work, and I am completely aware that I am one of the very few people that will put themselves through a beating in the gym on a daily basis and enjoy it!

However, absolutely no one can change your mentality towards fitness, they can only influence your way of thinking, but they cannot convince you completely. You need to find a reason, your “why,” and it has to mean something to you in order for you to be motivated to do something about it. It needs to matter to you, it needs to matter to you so much that fitness becomes a non-negotiable. It becomes something that is so much a part of your life, that it becomes a part of your daily routine, like brushing your teeth.

You would never think twice about whether or not you need to brush your teeth, and most people don’t feel the need the question why they brush their teeth (unless they’re under 6 years old). We know that brushing our teeth is important to our hygiene, and our overall physical health. I would argue that fitness is just as important to your physical health as brushing your teeth. Not to mention the mental health benefits as well! I think the main reason why most people give up so easily, is because it “feels like a lot of work, with not a lot of immediate results.” I think most people want the pounds to just melt away the second they touch a dumbbell! In addition, fitness hurts. I’ve had clients that would freak out the second they felt “the burn” and thought that they need to stop the exercise because they suddenly felt pain! A lot of people (believe it or not) don’t realize that they need to push past the burn in order to create real change in their body. This is hard to do if you’ve never done it before, it is really hard to put yourself through physical pain on a daily basis.

So why do I do it everyday? Maybe I’m crazy? I probably am… but either way I will share with you my “why,” and it has definitely changed over the years. I’ve changed fitness goals as I’ve evolved within the industry, but the core of why I love fitness so much has never changed. Fitness is so important to me because I love the way it makes me feel. Fitness, weight training, bodybuilding, makes me feel more capable. It empowers me and makes me feel as if I am capable of doing anything! I appreciate the challenge, the discipline of it. Fitness makes me a better person in all aspects of my life. Fitness elevates me as a person, the discipline, and mental toughness that it takes to push yourself through a tough workout, and the confidence you get from achieving your goals can be applied to the rest of your life. Bodybuilding gives me focus. I am more focused, organized, and driven than I have ever been in my life and that is because I have devoted my life to fitness. Your whole mindset is more positive and productive after a workout, and that is why I workout everyday.

It is never a question for me. Just like brushing my teeth, I have chosen to make my fitness a non-negotiable. After I brush my teeth I feel better, just like after I do my workout I feel better. You never regret a workout after you’ve done it, unless you’ve injured yourself. I don’t feel like myself if I’m not active, I lose a bit of my identity, motivation, and self-confidence. And that is why I love fitness, and that is why I workout. It is more for me than just improving my health, or looking good. Fitness is so important to me because it has given more gifts than I can count, being healthy and looking good are just some of the benefits! So, when planning your New Years Resolutions, and if you’re serious about them, think of why you want them so much? Why is it so important to you to achieve these goals? How would it impact or improve your life? It needs to be important and it needs to matter to you so much for you to want to do anything about it. If it’s something that you think “can wait,” or you think maybe that “it would be nice,” but you’re not really sure why, then you’ve already decided that you’re not going to stick to your resolutions, and no one can help you with that.

Me and some of my favorite people hitting our favorite pose of the day at my show this past October 10th 2015. So excited for my upcoming shows in 2016! Can’t wait to share in the celebrations of hard work with these people again ❤10456008_10156177728015285_6696787296310393759_n