Binu, Author at Shape Your Life

October 23, 2017
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Did you see the movie? The one about the little girl and all her thoughts and emotions inside her head? This movie hit home for me, made me realize that even the movie producers see what’s going on with us, how our minds are absolutely connected to not just our bodies, but our lives. So quickly our thoughts and emotions take over and the next thing you know, you have gone from a feeling of joy to a feeling of deep sadness. How does this happen?

For most of my life I have been working from the outside in. What I mean is that I used to do all this “stuff” for the outside of myself and hope to find that satisfaction or fulfillment somehow. I would go for massages and get my nails done with the hope that I would find relaxation and contentment. I would work out at the gym thinking that if I can just get my outer body to a specific place than I will be happy! If you are female then I am sure you at one time or another have thought “if I just lose 10 pounds” or “I just get my butt toned”, then I will be content. What I have learned now is that is definitely not how it works. Here’s my story of how I have switched from the outside in to the inside out.

I have always been interested in fitness, ever since I was a child.  I played sports in high school. Well, that’s the understatement, I played every sport I could in high school. If there was a team to join, I joined it. After having my three kids, I was always super conscious about weight gain and so I would be back at the gym 6-8 weeks post baby to get back on track. No one ever told me that I wouldn’t fit back into my jeans after having the baby! So after the shock settled in, I got myself back to the gym. That would come along with getting my eating habits in place to attempt to get back “in shape”. I would dump the sugary carbs like the white buns and the pastries and the donuts that I had told myself were okay to consume during pregnancy. Yes, note to self….while pregnant and consuming those donuts, the calories have to deposit somewhere…they are just unnoticed until the baby comes out!

I reached a point with my workout routine like many others where I wasn’t going consistently. I would get sick or the babies would get sick or I would feel too tired. I valued the workout time so much that I knew I had to change something. I also was going through a period in my life where I had left my job and career to stay home with the kids and was missing something. I just didn’t know what that something was. I was happy with my life, my family life, my house, my friends and neighbours, but something was missing. After meeting a friend who was starting a life coaching career for coffee, I realized I was longing for more fulfillment. I had been thinking about becoming a fitness instructor but felt a bit silly about the whole thing. It had been something I had always wanted to do, ever since I was in university. So with my friends help, I thought “why not”. And that way I would have no excuse to get to the gym because I would have to go teach!

Fast forward a few years and I was running a Zumba business in my community. Zumba brought me something I never expected. I started noticing the joy I would feel while teaching to these groups of women. I noticed the energy in the room and the energy inside my body. I would also notice that these amazing women would show up to exercise, but would end up showing me their true authentic selves. Their guards would come down. I would do some fun moves and they would smile and laugh! It’s like we would all just let go for an hour, shaking off all the stress from our week. As the years went on I craved this feeling….the one I would get in my classes. This deep joy, I would feel it deep in my gut.

So I started paying more attention to what gave me that feeling.  What showed up along the way was an extra 10 pounds. I was teaching 6 classes a week, eating pretty well (besides the extra pizza crusts from the kids’ plates) yet my pants were getting tighter. I had began indulging in things I hadn’t been eating before. More cakes, more cookies, which little by little were depositing fat onto my body. So as always I was researching and trying new homemade foods, new meal plans and workouts to share with clients, yet I wasn’t doing them all consistently myself. I would start something and not continue. Sound familiar? No wonder I didn’t see results, as consistency truly is key.

I believe in accountability and I was helping all my clients be accountable to the exercise yet I had no one to make me accountable for the next phase of my life. I was entering my 40s and noticing my body changing wasn’t working for me.  So like all great coaches out there, I hired my own coach. A fitness coach who had helped many women of all ages transform their bodies seemed like the perfect person to work with me.

To truly be consistent with the new program I had embarked on, I needed to reach within. I would sit and read the material I was given and think, “ok, what do I need to do to succeed”. I had one small voice that said “what if you spend all this money and you don’t follow through?”. Well that voice quickly got shut down…I gave myself no option to not succeed. Slowly and surely my mind started shifting. I told myself I could do this. The intense workout routine and planning of whole foods led to a shift in my mind and my thoughts and emotions.

This program I followed made me stronger and leaner and fitter on the outside. I was forced to make a mind body connection in my workouts and in the kitchen. I was focused on proper form and execution of the workouts for optimal results. I would take a few seconds here and there in my routine to focus on what I was about to do; whether it be a barbell squat or a full body pushup. I would focus on aligning my body to keep injuries away. I had to slow down at times in order to do all I needed to do in a day – especially the food prep. The workouts, the eating plan, caring for my kids and family, walking the dog, laundry, my writing and reading, all needed to be balanced out. I craved the quiet moments in my day to just be present and connect with what truly mattered to me. Did I truly want to work on these physical goals? What slowly showed up for me was greater outer confidence. The body fat melted away, muscles I had never seen on my body started showing up and my gut health improved tremendously. This outer confidence quickly led to inner confidence, inner strength and mostly importantly the clearer gut brought upon inner peace. I connected to my gut in a way I had never really been aware of. You know that feeling you get deep inside – an exciting, aha type of feeling? I never knew what to do with that feeling in the past. I now know to pay attention. I realized the true nurturing myself was not from the workouts or food but from the reaching within and realizing what was important to me, knowing what lit me up, knowing what my deeper values were. Exercise and whole foods made me feel stronger and have more energy. I want to live a long life and these aspects in my life were becoming ever more important. I took those steps that sometimes seemed scary and impossible and just plugged ahead! This is now what I bring to my business and my clients. My experience in the programs I have completed allow me to help others and this now truly excites me. I now have created my own program to help those people trying to get started on overall health and wellness. It’s not all about the workouts and food. It goes deeper, to a place of being mindful of all that we desire and all that we do.

The increased strength and cleaner foods brought something more to my life. I found this clarity in my body. I finally honoured myself. I feel that I finally “get” the statement Mind-Body-Soul. I never really understood it. In the training program where I became a certified trainer they talk briefly about this mind body soul connection but they don’t really tell you how to get there. But I get it now. My experiences over the last few years have brought me here. I am at a place where I now can tap into my gut, my soul, my intuition. This then connects me to my mind and my body and I honestly feel I can do anything I desire. This of course comes with a balancing act at home. Sometimes there are bumps in the road and that’s okay. The bumps I feel are little tests, to see if I truly want to do something. Sometimes we get bigger bumps and again I feel they are tests…to see if we REALLY want to do something.

Going after what I want and still being present with my loved ones and giving them all I want to give is truly in my mind where the magic happens. It’s not always perfect. I love the saying “Imperfect Action is better than Perfect Inaction”. You can take that for any aspect of your life.

Doors are now opening up, relationships are improving, and amazing people are showing up in my life. I have more energy, a clearer head and a deeper feeling of joy and happiness. I have one body and it’s my job to take care of it. I know when my body is in alignment or when it’s not. Life is truly a journey and sometimes things are running smooth and sometimes there are curveballs. All our bodies are different and we know our own body best. We know when things are out of alignment, when something truly isn’t working for us. I quickly get the inner nudge when I am not following my desires, or miss workouts or I indulge on foods that don’t work for me. That inner nudge is what brings me back to the gym, eating wholesome nutritious foods and taking time in my day to sit and be still to really tap into what is important to me.

This clarity of my body has allowed me to tap into my deeper intuition, the deep place inside me where I know what lights me up. I feel like I am worth nurturing myself to be a better mom, wife, friend and person. Taking care of my body inside and out allows me to be able to do all that I want to do in life and I can’t wait for what life has to offer going forward.

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October 23, 2017
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Health is something we are all striving for, in one way or another. Many of us look to physical fitness, food or sleep as the ways to improve our health.

What if I told you these were NOT the most important parts of health?

This is what Dr. Lissa Rankin said to me that opened my eyes and heart to the concept of whole health. I attended a retreat back in June with this amazing woman, who through her own life experiences, has created a model that has resonated very loud with me. Lissa’s work rang so true for me, that I couldn’t keep it to myself, I had to share it with others.

A few weeks ago, my colleague and I, Karen Sue-A-Quan, did just that. We created a similar workshop for our community, with the hope that our participants would get a similar experience like the one we had in Mill Valley, California back in June with Lissa and her crew.




Karen and I have very different backgrounds, yet our paths have lead us here, at a place where Whole Health is so meaningful and making a huge impact in our lives. We are both passionate about sharing this work with our community, and those closest to us in our lives, with the hope of creating a more connected, more relaxed world around us. Life is on high speed these days. If we don’t slow down to “smell the roses”, we will miss it. Do you have dreams and aspirations yet everyday life itself is standing in your way? Do you ever feel like you are on a spinning tilt-a-whirl and you just want to get off so you can LIVE?

Karen and I brought a group together a few weeks ago to share our experiences with the purpose of helping others reduce their stress and dig deep inside to start noticing what is important to them. I mean really important. We have all the surface things that are important, and the usual, like family, kids, finances etc. But what is truly right for YOU, what is going on inside YOU that is dying to come out? How do you want to shine in this world? Do you know?



Karen is a pharmacist, yet she loves the aspects of creative health. I am a biostatistician by trade yet now a personal trainer and physical health really drives me. We brought both our passions forward to our workshop to help others consider their own whole health model.

We did a muscle testing exercise to show others the connection between the mind and the body. This was incredible, leaving everyone perplexed with the connection between the mind and body. Credit goes to Martha Beck (Life Coach and Best-selling Author),  to show how strong the mind body connection really is. We also did a creative exercise, one that involved intuitive drawing and working in a group. This was really incredible as well, and one that only those who experienced it can tell you about. Both of these exercises showed different areas of what the power of a group and whole health really means.



So what is Whole Health you ask?

If you think of your physical self, you know that for you to get to the gym and eat well, other aspects of your life have to be aligned. When other parts are out of alignment, you stop going to the gym and the junk comes out of the cupboards. Sure you can say it’s all stress; that stress keeps us from working towards our physical goals. But stress is a very broad term…and there is a way to break it down so you can actually see what part of your life needs a little push forward.

Dr. Rankin’s model, one discussed in depth in the book “Mind Over Medicine”, shows us that our physical health depends on so many other aspects. Those include our mental/emotional health, our financial health, our environment, our work/life balance, our relationships and especially our inner pilot light. Consider in your day or in your week, whether you look at these pieces of your life. Ask yourself what needs some attention, what are you resisting and not dealing with, what conversation are you not having….and make one small movement, one small effort towards change. The funny thing is we know what is out of alignment. But we sweep it under the rug as that seems easier in the moment. We often feel “oh I can’t deal with that right now”, or “he will never understand me”, or “the clutter doesn’t bother me”, or “I don’t have time to go to yoga”.

This is where the Inner Pilot Light comes in. It is the foundation of our health. It’s the most important aspect as if the flame of our inner pilot light is not lit, well, all the other health aspects cannot get moving.

The inner pilot light is that place deep inside you, the fire within you. That inner spark! You can call it your soul or your inner spirit, your gut feeling, or whatever word rings true for you. It’s the place inside that knows what is true for you. The voice inside that tells you only positive, love thoughts. It’s the voice that tells you how amazing you are, and guides you…if only you listen. This is where the “meditation” comes in. So many people tell me they try to meditate but they just can’t do it, that they can’t get the thoughts out of their head. Meditation is something you make your own. I have discovered over the years that we all do it different and for so long I was meditating and not even knowing it.

So the bottom line of meditation is sitting still and getting quiet. I know what you are thinking – “I don’t have time to sit still and get quiet”. What if I told you that getting quiet was the magical way to tap in to your true self, the way to reduce stress and get in touch with what really matters to you. If you are running around your day feeling overwhelmed and with high adrenaline and always two steps behind, then consider stopping!

STOP. SIT. JUST BREATHE.

Even a 2 minute STOP episode will do you good. This stopping technique has done wonders for me over the years. Friends often wonder how I can fit my workout in, or how I get time to cook homemade meals. I believe the time I have spent getting quiet has given me the gift of tapping into my inner pilot light. I now have this strong sense inside me, that guides me and pushes me to live my life based on what is truly meaningful for me. This takes practice, but is so rewarding. It’s allowed me to move forward, not just physically changing my body. My insides feel cleaner, my mood is enhanced, my head is more clear and I feel excitement for life. This is me working towards my own WHOLE HEALTH.

At our whole health event a few weeks ago, I conducted a few breathing breaks to show the group how it feels to just do that, breathe, sit still and pay attention to that inner pilot light. It’s pretty powerful….a must try. So if this is new for you, or if you have tried and felt unsuccessful, I invite you to try again, as with anything, practice makes perfect.

Sit.

Put your feet on the floor.

Hands in your lap.

Eyes open or closed.

Now just notice your breath.

Take a few breaths.

Now start making the inhale and exhale a bit longer.

Count 4 counts in, and 7 counts out.

Repeat 10 times.

Continue on with your day.

With December hitting us loud and strong, I challenge you to 14 days straight of my stop meditation. Remember you can do this anywhere, at home, at your child’s basketball game, waiting for your hair appointment, even in the car. Just keep your eyes open if you are in the car!!! The breathing technique is the same.

Be Mindful. Be Healthy. Be Your True Self.

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Binu runs a 12 week whole health and fitness program that starts up again in January. It includes an in person meeting once a week, a 45 minute group workout, a 15 minute stretch and breathing meditation and a 30 minute chat session. The chat session includes topics such as nutrition habits, self-love and relationships. To find out more about Binu’s program, go to www.binu.ca or email her at [email protected]


October 23, 2017
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People always say that the only way to grow as a person is to step outside our comfort zones. I have to agree as I have been doing this for years. Sometimes I don’t even know why I do, but something deep inside me drives me. It’s like I am being pulled to do things. I often take a leap of faith and think, well as long as I am being true to myself and authentic in every way, then why not!! That’s it, the why not philosophy or the “why wait” philosophy. Who said anything was impossible. Only we believe things are impossible in our lives.

I read stories all the time, people want something, they write it on a sticky note, they set an intention and boom it happens! So why can’t I do that? What holds me back? Usually it’s my own inner small voice that holds me back. What will people think? What if I fail? Yes, that’s the thought that shows up often.

But then those other voices, the true voices get louder and louder inside. They keep knocking at the door and showing up. I do now know for sure, that when those true loving voices keep coming up inside of me, I MUST listen and I MUST act. What if I succeed? Whoa..that would be amazing!

So the last few years I have really pursued my love of fitness and through that I have had to push through barriers in life. Those being food barriers and personal emotional and spiritual barriers. I know I cannot reach the goals that I have set out for myself unless I work hard each week. Those being improvement of my fitness level,  increase muscle mass, reduced body fat, being more grounded, more at peace. These are my own personal goals. Ones I am not afraid to express anymore. We all have different goals, and yours might be different than mine. But I realize I can’t reach these without the right food choices, the right mindset, more self-love and connection to my spiritual self. I see too many women in their mid 40s giving up, finding the excuses why not to work out or eat well, talking about why it’s impossible at 40 to reduce belly fat. All because it’s too hard. Yes it’s hard…everything worth achieving is hard. But some of these changes will improve our health, keep inflammation down, allow more joy in life and keep illnesses and diseases away.

So I was determined a few years ago to prove to myself that in my mid 40s I can still make change to my body, by hard work and determination and working on personal growth each day. But I soon realized that to do this at my age with my lifestyle, with 3 kids and a dog, and a husband who commutes, I would need more support. And that support is my mental, emotional and spiritual side – and of course the right people.

Life has challenged me each and every step. As soon as I want to make change, I am good for the first couple days or weeks and then life shows up to challenge me. It could be something with the kids schedule or not enough healthy food in the fridge or too much coffee or missing workouts. Whatever it is, it shows up just at the right time. And I get it now, I truly get it. Life is here to test us, to check in with us if we truly want to make this change. Only we get to decide how important a change in lifestyle is to us. So digging deep sure has come into my daily practice. I have had to learn the HOW in terms of reaching within and really standing strong with my beliefs and my desires in life. Only then can I get over humps and bumps in the road. And this is the only way I can teach my clients. If I can’t accomplish similar goals that they are setting out for themselves, then who am I to teach. I must walk the talk and live the life in order to teach such a lifestyle. But reality is that setting a goal is not always so easy. But making change to help your health not only feels good on the inside it shows on the outside. You will have more energy and your skin will be more clear and you may even smile more!

If we don’t face the fact that we will fall off the wagon here and there, how will we get anywhere in life. If we never fall, then how do we know how to get up? That’s the truth. Many of us get down when we fall off a plan, a food and fitness plan, a new year resolution or any plan we set out for ourselves. But it’s SO important to realize that we must fall at times, as the more we fall the easier it is to pick up and move forward. Each fall is another learning opportunity, another test along the path of what we really want in life.

So back to the magazine! This follows the theme of knowing what we want in life, or thinking we know what we want. Many months ago I had a vision to be in a magazine. I have been toying with what to write on my sticky note on my vision board. Do I want to be in a fitness magazine, writing workouts, or do I want to just be in pictures about athletics like running and biking? I can’t always decide so I just wrote “Fitness photos in a magazine”.

Then one day a friend came to me and told me her friend was starting this neighbourhood magazine and she has suggested that my family be the feature family in their very first issue. WOW, I was floored. Truly humbled and amazed that anyone would even suggest me. I put myself out there in the public every day, teaching classes, talking food and fitness, sharing personal stories on Facebook, but I still feel surprised that this would happen. I often wonder who really cares about what I write…sure I know a few care, but when you put yourself out there in the world there are always those who don’t support you. But part of my journey is about knowing what I stand for and why I do things and knowing there will always be those people. And it’s okay. I still get to go after what I want in life.

When I was interviewed for the neighbourhood magazine, the first thing that I thought was about my sticky note….a magazine is a magazine! Maybe this is the stepping stone to the FITNESS magazine.

I had the honour of meeting some amazing women through this journey. The publisher of the magazine met me for coffee to hear my story. And then I was interviewed by the content coordinator. I could hear myself in these meetings, overwhelmed with excitement about helping people and my journey of starting a fitness business in my community was the start of it all. These two women showed such interest in my story I felt so warm inside. We had so much in common and we connected almost immediately. It was an honour to spend time with these women.



I recall telling them about how I starting off just wanting to keep myself busy after leaving my career to stay home with the kids. But the fitness classes grew and grew until I had women from all over the community and even some from across town. Wow…crazy how in a span of a few years I made so many new friends and contacts and inspired so many people to move their bodies and take time for themselves. My interviews were truly all about that, my passion to help others. I often ask myself WHY I do things…as I learned years ago to check in with myself, to be sure I was aligned with my values.

“If you let yourself shine brightly

you give others permission

to shine brightly as well.”

Yes that’s what I want. Why should I hold myself back because I am afraid of someone feeling bad or judging me. This whole magazine experience sure brought out lots of fears….but slowly I got through them and now I am ecstatic to share this part of my journey with everyone.

As soon as the first friend received their copy and I got that text, I may have covered my face with a pillow….in fear, maybe a bit embarrassed…but I would always catch myself and think…yeah it is pretty cool. I have worked hard these last few years, with starting a business; creating a program; bringing women together in a community; working on my relationships with my spouse and my kids; taking time for myself so I can give more to others; attempting to live life to the fullest whenever I can; making time for those who truly matter to me and so on. All this is hard work but so rewarding and fulfilling.

Then it hit me. This thought –  “Oh my it’s out there, my story, my face, my families picture is out there”. Embrace it Binu…that’s what I told myself. Maybe I will inspire someone to get active, or to get a dog, or to think about their busy schedule and see if it’s all still aligned with their family values. I read my own story and think oh gosh, I have to pull back the kids activities. We talk about it as a family all the time and make changes as we see fit. If something isn’t working, we change it. But it starts with the awareness of it all and knowing we have created this life, for ourselves and for our kids.

But then I remember that day, the photo shoot day. It was so fun! It took a couple of days to find matching outfits and then many hours in between snow falls to get that outdoor shot. The photographer was so patient.  We ran inside and out about 4 times, enduring the cold, laughing while shivering.



As the fear of “being out there” is lingering, I was sharing news about the magazine with some university friends over the weekend. I was telling them the hardest thing when I share my story is that I always want people to know that things are not always glorious. I get enough people commenting about my Facebook posts and even this story, that life seems so good, that how is truly possible or is it real. It’s been suggested that I should talk about the rough moments too. So on Facebook I do and have started sharing more of the challenging moments as I do believe it’s the balance and it’s how I grow personally and how we grow as a family. If there were no down moments, how would I learn and be a better person each day. I believe in a positive outlook for sure, and I don’t believe in talking in a negative way. Complaining and criticism gets me nowhere so that has left my life years ago. But I do know reality is that life is not always perfect, nor is it meant to be. My lovely friend gave me a fantastic response… he said “but most days are pretty damn good aren’t they?” I had to agree with him. Most days in my life are full of care and love. Sure we have our rushed moments, our high adrenaline, our raised voices, our messy rooms, our tears, our sadness. It’s there, it’s all there. But most of time life is pretty great!

I look forward to the next family featured in next months magazine. More people to meet and be inspired by, one month at a time.

What I have learned from this experience is to not be afraid to put yourself out there. Yes there will be criticism and nay-sayers but there will also be those we get to inspire. I do believe that when I allow myself to shine bright, I am giving others permission to do the same.

So go ahead and shine bright today and pay this forward. You then will give others the permission to shine as well. Imagine a world of bright stars everywhere we go!

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