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Spring Cleaning: it begins in your gut

By | Blog, Import

Dear #tamily,

If you’ve opened this letter hoping to discover the latest organic cleaning solutions for that dusty attic, then you may want to take a pause. While I’m all for the emotional and physical benefits of a spacial cleanse, that’s not what I’m here to teach you.

This month, I want to give your system a spring cleaning if you will. An easily digestible blueprint that identifies the foods and bacteria that are having an effect on your overall being – including weight fluctuations, bloating and stomach complications, anxiety, and fatigue conditions – and how to navigate the signs that your gut is due for a sweeping.

As we’re about to learn, just like your body, the gut requires the right balance to stay healthy and optimized. In fact, leading researchers and practitioners consider the gut as our second brain. That’s why when it’s out of whack, the symptoms are too.

So let’s start cleaning. My gut tells me we all could use it.

(bucket and mop, sold separately)
With love,
Tracy

This month, we’re breaking down the latest in innovative discoveries in gut health. As nutritionists and scientists collide in their research – we foresee the digestive system will become as large of a topic as heart health and cancer study. Hippocrates — the ancient Greek father of medicine — once said that “all diseases begin in the gut.” In many ways, he was right. Your gut is your first line of defense, and if it isn’t working optimally, you’re more prone to disease. To get us started, here is what you should know right now.

We are 90% bacteria, and only 10% human.

If you have ever wondered, “what are we?” you may be surprised to learn that the human body is composed of trillions of cells, only of which 10% are human.

Outnumbering cells by 10 to 1, the human body hosts trillions of microorganisms (very tiny living things) which make up what is called our microbiome. Some of these microbes provide functions that are extremely important for our survival — and because of this dependence, experts are beginning to consider we are more a ‘super-organism’ than simply human.
What if we could live a germ-free life outside the bubble? You may be thinking these microbes (which include bacteria), are bad for us. But they are essential, and some even hypothesize that it is impossible to live without them. If so, we’d only survive a couple of days.

The biggest groups of bacteria reside in our gut – and the health of your gut microbiota and the nutrition you feed it directly effects your immunity, brain structure, and mood/ behavior. In one study, depleting the gut microbiome changed the expression of 90 genes in the brain.

The digestive tract is technically outside of your body.

Yes — from your mouth to your anus, the tract is technically considered outside of your body because it is open to the external environment at each end. You could imagine that It acts like a very advanced filter, breaking down all the specific nutrients to easily absorbable forms all while eliminating any pathogens and toxins in the process.

70% of your immune system is in your gut.

The digestive system is the seat of our immune system. When studying disease, scientists have discovered that there is a shift in the ecology of your gut bacteria — and a change in the balance and diversity of specific microbial species. It is important to note that there isn’t one specific species of bacteria to push blame on. The health and diversity of the community is affected in its entirety – and only then do things go awry.
Digestive issues and insufficiencies contribute to a wide range of health issues, some chronic and life-changing, including migraine headaches, depression, asthma, diabetes, heart disease, arthritis, autoimmune illness, autism, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, multiple sclerosis, and more.

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There is much we still don’t know, but the study continues: the Human Microbiome Project catalogs the microbiome communities in people with different diseases, but the heavy lifting is in deciphering the data, which scientists predict may take some time.There is much we still don’t know, but the study continues: the Human Microbiome Project catalogs the microbiome communities in people with different diseases, but the heavy lifting is in deciphering the data, which scientists predict may take some time.

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Meet your second brain: your gut.

A fascinating fact: the gut is the only organ system that can perform its functions without the oversight of the brain. It doesn’t wait for your brain’s influence or instruction to do its job; it acts in solitary. No other part of your body – not even your mighty heart – can pull that off.

If the vagus nerve, which connects the brain to the digestive system was cut, digestion would still function normally — a system called the enteric nervous system (ENS).

Our second brains in our gut may not be able to think or have reason, but a ton of evidence suggests that the health of your digestive system can influence your mood.

 

 

80-90% of seratonin, the “happiness hormone”, is made in the gut.

The enteric nervous system – which is comprised of a network of millions of neurons in the lining of our gut – goes far beyond just processing the food we eat.

The bulk of the neurotransmitter serotonin is created in the digestive system. We need it to stabilize our mood and regulate social behavior, appetite and digestion, sleep, memory, and sexual desire and function. But too much of if may not be good.

Sometimes regarded as a “mental illness” of the second brain, irritable bowel syndrome arises from too much serotonin production in the gut. For decades, researchers thought that anxiety and depression caused gut issues and disorders like IBS, but it is most likely the other way around.

Food can make you depressed.

Nutrition can play an extremely important role in the seriousness and length of time of depression. Researchers are finding that certain foods could be connected to depression, and that some types of diets can lower your risk of becoming depressed. For years, those with ‘chemical imbalances’ were prescribed chemicals as treatment – which overlooked the possibility that the brain may have needed proper nutrients instead.

Poor diet is dangerous not just for your physical health, but your mental health too. It is common knowledge that the food we eat should contain nutrients the body uses to perform its everyday duties. But processed foods today changed things, as they are often altered with additives and stripped of essential vitamins and minerals.

Scientists are now discovering that people whose diets are high in processed foods and low in whole and natural foods are missing out on these vital nutrients. This begs the question: are some forms of depression caused by simple nutritional deficiencies?

 

The hidden link: processed foods and disease.

Processed foods not only lack vital nutrients our bodies need, but can be treated like foreign contaminants by our digestive system, causing inflammation in the lining of our GI tract, the exact place where food is absorbed. Your gut may not recognize what you’ve eaten as food, which instead interprets the presence of foods like high-fructose corn syrup or artificial ingredients as “intruders” or “attackers”.

This sets off an unnecessary inflammatory response in which our bodies fight these foods as if they were an infection. If you consume processed foods regularly, it can create a lot of stress on your body over time.

Refined sugar, which is processed from sugar cane or sugar beets, is added to many of the packaged foods in our grocery stores today. It comes in many forms — which it can be tough to distinguish on food labels. Surprisingly, sugar can go by at least 61 different names, including sucrose and high-fructose corn syrup, as well as barley malt, dextrose, maltose and rice syrup, among others.

Refined sugar is implicated in many diseases, including obesity, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, heart disease. cognitive decline and some cancers.

It’s not just what we eat.

Stress may be just as harmful to our bodies as an unhealthy diet. Stress shows up as physical evidence by causing changes to the gut microbiome, specifically in female mice, according to a recent study. Although this study was limited to mice, there may be serious implications with humans.

 

A healthy gut can be anti-aging.
 
Scientists were shocked to find that a healthy 90 year old’s gut was almost indistinguishable from a 30 year olds. A recent study showed parallels were drawn between overall health and the microbes in the intestine of extremely healthy older adults and those over 50 years younger. Even though they are unaware of the cause or affect, researchers observed and concluded that diversity is key in your gut: and if maintained, it can be a biomarker of healthy aging.

Bone broth a healing food, and the benefits are numerous and extensive. There is a reason why chicken soup is prescribed by doctors and mothers around the world when you’re feeling sick.

It’s high in collagen, proline, glycine and glutamine, amongst other healing compounds, which boosts your immune system, reducing inflammation and joint pain, and is necessary for maintaining and repairing the lining of the gastrointestinal tract. Research is proving it has the potential to heal disorders like allergies, asthma and arthritis.

In NYC: Trade in your coffee for a cup of the famous Brodo’s bone broth — a kiosk that serves 11 varieties of this super nutritious ‘hot beverage’ (owner Marco Canora, stresses it’s not soup!) at shops in the West and East Villages. Or,find the recipe online.

Apple cider vinegar is derived from fermented apple juice. It’s another ‘old world’ remedy for digestive problems.

It aids digestion by increasing stomach acid; helping you to better break down food and absorb more nutrients in the foods you eat. Apple cider vinegar is packed with raw enzymes and beneficial bacteria that help to stimulate the digestive juices, assist the absorption of nutrients, and control the growth of harmful yeast and bacteria in the stomach and throughout the body. It is a useful remedy for indigestion, bloating, gas and even heartburn.

Opt for organic, raw, and unpasteurized – it contains the mother load of enzymes, proteins, and probiotics.

 

Mix with water, don’t drink it straight – and have it in moderation. Some nutritionists suggest having no more than 2 tablespoons a day, as vinegar is an acid and can wear away your tooth enamel and affect your esophagus. Eating it may be better: consider drizzling over a salad in place of your dressing.

These include cauliflower, cabbage, garden cress, bok choy, broccoli, brussel sprouts and similar green leaf vegetables. Cruciferous vegetables work to deduce inflammation and helps remove harmful pathogens from the gastrointestinal tract.

Raw vs. cooked: if you have a thyroid issue such as hypothyroidism, some vegetables may be better digested when cooked, specifically kale and broccoli: they contain a high amount of goitrogens, which can decrease the uptake of iodine by the thyroid.

Sulforaphane, an incredible compound that can help with almost any chronic disease, can be found in cruciferous veggies. More nutritious that the mature broccoli — broccoli sprouts

Sulforaphane can only be produced when the sprouts are ‘damaged’ (so chew them!).

Whole Foods in NYC started selling packaged broccoli sprouts from East Hampton, NY.

Or grow your own with this kit on Amazon!

 

Among the more notable probiotic-rich foods, however buyers beware: many go-to grocery store brands load their products with added sugar, artificial sweeteners, and artificial flavors. Read your labels! If you have to Google an ingredient, then it’s likely not good for you.

 

Pasteurization kills bacteria, so most dairy add the bacteria strains after. Pickles and other fermented foods can be pasteurized, too. Look for labels that read “raw”. Brands aren’t required to tell you the specific bacteria strains or amounts in their products.

 

Chicory root contains a prebiotic that is high in inulin. Inulin is a soluble plant fiber that is great for the gut. You can use chicory root fiber in place of sugar and flour in recipes. It can also serve as a caffeine-free replacement for coffee.

Sunchokes may as well be renamed as the superstars of intestinal health. They boast some of the highest amounts of inulin, which is shown to increase the friendly bacteria in the gut, maybe even more than chicory root. Unlike regular artichokes, you can eat them raw or cooked.


Add these to your salad or fresh juice. They serve as another great source of inulin, a prebiotic fiber, and are a great liver detoxifier too.

Including kimchi and sauerkraut, which are fermented and made from types of cabbage. And the American staple: the pickle, and other pickled vegetables.

 

If vinegar is involved – in the case with sauerkraut, it likely doesn’t include live bacteria as vinegar can prohibit bacteria growth.

Heating Probiotic-rich foods can easily destroy the live beneficial bacteria in a product. So don’t toast that sourdough bread!

 

Garlic is nature’s antibiotic. This tasty antimicrobial herb is linked to various health benefits. Garlic can act as a prebiotic, or a food source for our healthy gut bacteria. However, those with IBS might want to avoid too much garlic, as it is also high in fructans, a type of carbohydrate that some have difficulty digesting.

Onions are a versatile vegetable and also a great prebiotic, with antioxidant and anticancer properties.

 

Natto (fermented soybeans, popular in Japan), kvass (opt for the beet), soft aged raw cheese including cheddar, gouda, parmesan, and swiss and cottage cheese, tempeh, salt water brine-cured green olives, miso, dark chocolate (has both probiotic and prebiotics), green peas, beer and wine, and sourdough bread.

And thanks to modern science, many food manufacturers add probiotics to foods. Look out for those in honey, dark chocolate, almonds and whey protein.

 

Acacia gum, leeks, asparagus, barley, konjac root (elephant root), cocoa, burdock root (popular in Japan), flaxseeds, yacon root, jicama root, wheat bran, seaweed. Apples are shown to decrease the bad bacteria in the gut. Whole oats increase healthy bacteria while improving blood sugar.

 

Resistant starch functions like soluble, fermentable fiber and helps nourish the friendly bacteria in your gut. Some foods that are high in resistant starch are: steel-cut oats (which are also high in protein and fiber), wild rice (which is more nutrient-dense than white rice), navy beans, potatoes and unripe, green bananas. FUN FACT: Cooling oats or potatoes before you consume them significantly increases their resistant starch content.

 


 

OPT FOR ORGANIC:  In Canada and the U.S., food labeled organic means the animals were given organic feed and didn’t receive any type of antibiotic, vaccine, or GMOs.

WILD-CAUGHT FATTY FISH: Fatty fishes are super nutritious, containing a lot of beneficial omega-3s that are key to maintaining optimal health, supporting brain and neural development. Some fish to put on your shopping list: wild caught Alaskan salmon, Atlantic or Pacific Albacore tuna, and sardines.

Larger fish have tendency to have higher levels of mercury, since more time has allowed for the chemical to accumulate in their bodies. Be careful with grouper, chilean sea bass and swordfish.

GRASS-FED MEAT: is rich in anti-inflammatory omega-3 essential fatty acids and minerals, including iron. It is important that the meat is pasture-raised. Factory farmed animals are often fed corn and grains, which are high in pro-inflammatory omega-6s. Imbalance of the omega-3 and omega-6 ratios is a major contributor to system wide inflammation, which can damage the gut lining and lower immunity.

PASTURE-RAISED POULTRY: Has less iron than beef or pork, but is leaner and contains high amounts of protein: turkey is in the lead, followed by duck, and lastly, chicken. With conventional poultry, you run the risk of consuming hormones, antibiotics, ammonia and bad bacteria. Opt for pasture-raised organic poultry and eggs and be aware that the term “free-range” simply means the animals have access to outdoors, but weren’t raised there (its anyones guess how often they are let out).

 


 

GLUTEN & GRAINS
Gluten intolerance has risen over the years, but why? The protein gluten has been a part of our diets ever since we first started cultivating grains, starting as early as 8800 BCE. The truth lies in the fact that modern wheat is very different than what we consumed thousands of years ago. It is different in many ways – the way we grow it, the way we process it and the way we eat it. And gluten could be only a portion of the issue.

White flour was one of the first ever processed foods, paving a way to tons of other shelf-stable, affordable, grocery store packaged goods that are produced far away from where they are consumed. It is the base of the American diet and in many of staple foods we consume today. Industrial milling strips the grains of its vital nutrients, removing parts of the wheat kernel (bran, germ, shorts, and red dog mill streams) that are most nutrient-dense in proteins, vitamins, lipids and minerals. Aside from not being as nutritious as it once was, the structure of the gluten protein in wheat has changed in modern times due to cross-breeding grains.

Researchers have found that eating gluten is directly related to diseases of the gut like leaky gut, which can cause inflammation and intestinal permeability. Other grains, even gluten-free ones, contain phytic acid, which can also cause inflammation as it is difficult for the gut to breakdown and digest. If you want to clean out your gut – give it a break by avoiding gluten, and only eat other gluten-free grains in moderation.

REFINED SUGARS/ARTIFICIAL SWEETNERS
Sugar feeds yeast, and yeast can overpower the bad bacteria in the gut. Just as the good bacteria prefer prebiotics as their food, the bad bacteria prefer sugar. If you have a sweet tooth and have trouble avoiding sugar completely opt for natural sweeteners like honey, dates, coconut sugar, or stevia.

 

REFINED VEGETABLE OILS
(Sunflower, Safflower, Canola, Soybean)

Fairly new to the food world, these highly processed oils were introduced in the early 1900s. Vegetable oils such as sunflower, safflower, canola (rapeseed), corn oil and soybean oils are high sources of pro-inflammatory omega-6 fatty acids, which are harmful in excess. As mentioned earlier in this newsletter, it is very important to keep a higher ratio of omega-3s to omega-6s in your diet. In addition to causing inflammation, many industrial chemicals and highly toxic solvents are used in the production process. Trace levels of trans fats have been found in processed oils too.

In short, vegetable oils should be avoided to reduce systemic inflammation and damage to the intestinal lining. Trade them in for coconut oil, grass-fed butter, ghee, extra virgin olive oil or avocado oil.

 


 

Quality of food matters: when possible, buy organic, local, pasture-raised, grass-fed, non-gmo whole foods.

You are what you eat. Avoid processed foods and refined sugars and oils. Check food labels for hidden harmful ingredients and added sugars.

Variety is key – eat a well-balanced diet from each food group daily. By eating a variety you are getting a range of different types of key nutrients from different foods in each group.

Control what is on your plate by cooking it yourself (versus eating out).

Join Tracy Anderson’s Online Studio Premium membership and gain access to new workouts, recipes and tips. Here’s one of our favorite recipes this month from Chef Elaina Love. Looking for more? Sign up!

 

 

 

ABOUT CHEF ELAINA LOVE 

Elaina Love is a leading nutritionist and author of 3 raw vegan recipe books, speaker, and internationally renowned chef with over 20 years of experience. Elaina is the founder and director of Pure Joy Culinary Academy, a cut- ting-edge plant-based culinary arts, and nutrition school.

Elaina’s low glycemic, grain-free, full-flavored holistic recipes, and gourmet dishes have shaped the vegan food industry. She has coached and inspired hundreds of aspiring chefs and individuals who want to change their life, both in person and through her online programs.

 

 


 


TAMILY TALES: Issue No. 15

By | #TAMILY TALES, Blog, Import

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Turns out, multitasking is so five years ago; now, it’s all about the very principal that has always mattered most to me: focus. I am a creative soul, but also a soul who craves challenge. Everything I create isn’t without laws and boundaries. It’s quite the opposite, actually, I may be one of the most consistently tortured artists. In my lane creating, is to constantly generate balance where there is imbalance in the body. I have to be creative and I can’t guess. What “feels” like it works for me, may not work for you—and I work for you.

I am one of those creative people who can’t create in certain environments, but at the same time, I lack the very skills needed to create the environments I like to create in the most. If I could create within the Instagram of @livesimplybyannie, I would. I love her eye. She isn’t afraid of color, yet she appreciates the refreshing power of neutral tones. She is so well thought-out and never over the top. Annie’s design work reflects my research; her platform of balance, vibrancy, and consistency in our environments is what I strive to help people find in their bodies. It’s like one of my favorite Christmas stories, The Grinch. Christmas came for the Who’s without any material price tags. It came without packages, boxes, or bags. Annie has a gift. When you have a gift, yes, you need to be valued for it, but you also will do it no matter what. If life gave Annie lemons, she would make the most organized and aesthetically pleasing lemonade stand you ever saw—and the lemonade would taste and feel better than your grandmother’s lemonade, even if it cost a nickel. You can have an organized body and lifestyle without making or spending a lot of money.

I first met Annie in Chicago. She was teary-eyed and fresh-faced, with a notebook in hand. She apologized to me for asking a question. I remember wanting to find her afterwards, because I didn’t fully understand how meaningful her questions were and how beautifully her brain processes information. She is strong where I am weak, and vice versa. I can’t stack books like art like Annie, but that in and of itself is my idea of perfection. I can organize the muscles and correct the imbalances of anyone’s body, and Annie was present enough to learn what she needed to do in order to have that for herself. Annie doesn’t fall short. She wanted to really understand, but she felt bad taking more of my time than the larger group received. Annie is graceful, organized, and incredibly big-hearted. I feel like her message is truly part of the solution, not part of the problem. You need quality guidance and quality standards to live a quality life, but you do not need luxury items and outrageous price tags to lead a life that is beautiful and meaningful, balanced and organized. You just need to have certain standards and to show up! Each of us has our own gift to give and collectively we can support and lift each other brighter. I am so excited to share Annie’s TAmily Tales interview with you and I can’t wait to read her responses.

Love to all of my TAmily!

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Hi #TAmily, here’s a bit of backstory about me.

I grew up in Detroit, though I now live in Seattle. Through my company, Live Simply by Annie, I teach people how to clarify their priorities, keenly edit their belongings, and increase the simplicity, ease, and beauty in their lives and their spaces.

Lots of people wonder about how I came to that line of work, and I’ll tell you: it isn’t merely that I think things look prettier in straight lines and with precise folds. Rather, it’s that my biography has been steeped in chaos, struggle, and clutter.

I was five when my mom was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis, and so my childhood was about growing up while watching her grow down. I stepped into a domestic-management role from a young age to compensate for what she increasingly wasn’t able to do for our family. I learned first-hand how complex and difficult life can intrinsically be, and how moments of crisis can sneak up on you when you’re least expecting them.

Mostly, I came to understand how important it is to ensure that each one of us does all we can to make our lives simpler, easier, and less of a struggle. That we figure what things are supporting us in being our best selves, and what things or people or activities are merely adding to our already-heavy loads; that we elevate the former and never feel guilty about dismissing the latter.

It’s basically a no BS approach to life. No BS but all of the beauty, since our physical surroundings have such an impact on our overall wellbeing.

Besides all that, I think humor is a superpower. Without laughter, we’re screwed. Or, at least, I am and my family is.

   SOME #TAMILY MEMBERS WORKOUT IN THEIR LIVING ROOMS IN IOWA, OTHERS ON THEIR BALCONIES IN ITALY. WHEN AND WHERE DID YOU START #TAREALTIME?

It was a fateful day five (or six?) years ago that Tracy Anderson and her method entered my world. I was staying at my boyfriend’s in Miami over the summer, folding laundry during the middle of the day as a compulsive organizer is wont to do, and had the TV on for company. Whatever show I had been half-watching ended, and on came this fitness sprite, set amid a pink and white background, talking endless possibility, the realistic expectation of being able to attain a body that reflects the work you put it into, lambasting the doomed-by-genetics story, that sort of thing.

At a time when the very best I could hope for in a workout (elliptical, day in and day out, since by then running had been eliminated thanks to stress fractures; the endless pedaling followed by some lame DIY attempt at abs. Were there even arms? Can’t remember.) was to zone out and forget it ever happened, I was hungry for an expert-guided, self-driven exercise overhaul. I had also just graduated college (p.s. I’m only 26) so I was kind of in the mood for a life-overhaul.

I watched that infomercial whenever it came on that week (seriously, never watched an infomercial in my life otherwise), and was captivated by the idea that my body was, up until that point, merely the story I had been telling myself about it, and that I was fully capable of telling myself a new story, instead, one of utter empowerment.

I took to the youtube. I found this little ab segment Tracy had done that began with these graceful but totally easy to follow free arm movements, and I was transfixed with it all. For a couple weeks, I would peddle forever on that damn elliptical and then pull up that same youtube video, loving the movements, loving how none of it reeked of convention but of originality and authentic creation.

I went back home to my parent’s house in Detroit, promptly ordered the 30-day metamorphosis and have been living and breathing the method every day of my life since. I started streaming January 1, 2015.

    WE ALL FACE CHALLENGES WHEN IT COMES TO BEING OUR HEALTHIEST SELVES—INSIDE AND OUT. WHAT HAS BEEN THE HARDEST PART OF YOUR JOURNEY?

I am perpetually trying to balance, and make peace with, the perfectionist in me. It is not in my nature to do anything passably well. If I do anything, I expect myself to do it to the very best of my abilities. Some days, this ethic propels me in an amazing way. But there are lots of others when a desire for perfection invalidates excellence, and holds me in a space of undue, unhelpful criticism of self, whether that’s about what I eat, how I perform my workout, or how my body looks.

    HAS BEING PART OF THE COMMUNITY OF #TAMILY WOMEN HELPED YOU TO OVERCOME THIS? HOW SO?
Unbelievably so. It is invaluable to connect with and know other women who clearly also hold themselves accountable to show up for their priorities in life, and to see that, like me, they are nuanced, they are unique. They are not perfect. They are not one giant robot woman who is identical in appearance and interest, and they do not wish to be. They celebrate what makes them—what makes the shape of their bodies, what composes the activities of their lives, and if there comes a moment when any of us start to doubt in all that, the rest of us come rushing in to buoy by way of celebrating on that person’s behalf.
    ONE OF THE COOL THINGS I LOVE ABOUT THE #TAMILY IS HOW IT CONNECTS WOMEN ALL OVER THE WORLD. HOW ARE YOU INSPIRED BY OTHER WOMEN? WHO IN THE #TAMILY INSPIRES YOU?  HOW DO YOU CONNECT WITH OTHER WOMEN IN THE #TAMILY BOTH ON INSTAGRAM AND IN REAL LIFE?

I have so much love for the #Tamily. At a time when so many social media platforms devolve into little more than conversations of hate-spewing and judgment, it is totally remarkable that we have collectively cultivated this atmosphere of love and support. That we feel comfortable enough to share our vulnerabilities without threat or fear, but with complete confidence that our #TAmily members will (ahem) truly have our backs is so rare and beautiful a thing.

We all adore Tracy ridiculous amounts, to the point that I feel it’s almost obnoxious for any one of us to gush over her. Nonetheless, I can’t pass up this opportunity to acknowledge what an inspiration you are to me, Tracy.

I’m kind of weird about role models, defiant even, because I feel internally like such a scrappy self-starter who prizes originality and authenticity above all. “Forget what others have done and how! Be bold and defy convention!” That’s always more my mantra. And yet, I admire you silly amounts. What you have managed to create, how you so authentically give of your gifts, and how you balance that with an undeniably keen business-savvy, I mean suffice it to say I really do love you.

@Emery5, I am truly grateful for your unwavering support and encouragement every day.

@dankartwin : your tamily tale blew me away and your words were like that of some old, wise sage and I’m still not over it.

All the ladies I met at the Chicago vitality week— uber sweet Stacey Browne, @andi4tam, @leitza612, @a_s_k_mcmachan, @angelp70, to name a few, you are extra special to me since I actually got to meet you.

@melissarigdon: your willingness to be vulnerable and transparent is so incredible, and has helped us all, I think, feel it’s okay to be a little more vulnerable, as well. Ditto @wisperingwillow—you were so brave to share your story about the darkness of eating disorder.

(I suddenly get all the pressure one must feel when trying to remember to thank everyone during an awards acceptance speech.)

@lorettasfitnesslife: I’ve told you before, but could watch you dance all day long.

@catynasr: I just generally dig your vibe and always love seeing your posts.

@bridgetteralph is like my OG #TAmily member, since she was the first person I remember finding on instagram pre-streaming, and having that whole, “Oh my gosh, you too?!?” thing.

@agikonwalia: whose style is always killing, and who had my heart the moment she mentioned “chronic illness” in her tamily tale.

@ek4tam, who is always up and at ‘em, @claudiasaezfromm who is always holding it down in the studio (along with that cute girl who has a gorgeous tan or just dark olive skin and usually wears light gray pants and loose, flowy white tops listen serious stalker level is merely a by-product of intense focus in this case, okay?)

My #GYBG partner, @laura.tam who I’ve had so much fun getting to know over the course of these challenges.

I see you all and send love to you all.

  LIKE MOST WOMEN I KNOW, YOU ARE BUSY! WHAT TIPS DO YOU HAVE FOR FITTING WORKOUTS INTO A HECTIC LIFESTYLE?

1. Decide it’s a priority. 2. Commit to upholding that priority. 3. Over time, you will cease thinking of it as optional and start seeing it as essential to your well-being.

Having total clarity about the fact that my workout is a daily non-negotiable is what allows me to be flexible in terms of when I get it in. And whenever that happens to be, I stay as focused as possible in order to perform the workout efficiently—pausing that video for a bathroom break, taking a phone call, answering an urgent email, those things all add up and can make a would-be succinct session into a much longer, drawn out time-suck.

  ONE THING THE #TAMILY HAS IS STYLE. WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE OUTFIT TO EXERCISE IN?
I’m having a love affair at the moment with The Upside—their leggings are my jam. Oh! Also! Mizunos. #TAmily members seem to ask me about them with some frequency—let the record show that I whole-heartedly endorse them. Fantastic sneaks.

  WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE TA MOMENT?

As many have said, the undeniable highlight was attending a vitality week. I was literally giddy about being able to doing the workout—the one I’d been doing every day for practically forever in a room by myself with a group of women equally as excited as me.

But I was a little nervous about meeting Tracy, and it wasn’t nerves about what I’d say or do, but what she would. Would this woman who I so admire, who I see more than some of my best friends, whose expertise I so thoroughly trust, would she live up to my expectations? I wondered. Would she be in real life as genuine and genius as she’d seemed to me from far away? And where would I be at if who I’d perceived her to be didn’t match who I met?

Naturally, I bombarded her quite immediately all, “Hi, I’m ANNIE, we’re going to be friends now if you like and maybe take a picture together, yes?” But she needed to make sure her children were fed right then, as mothers will do, and said we’d grab a photo in a bit. Fine, just you go feed your babies, Tracy, see if I care.

I’d just have to accost her again was all, and we’d start from the beginning, with me telling her who the heck I was.

Children fed, we Q and A-ed and ambled our way to the workout room. From her corner/make-shift computer station in the studio, I heard Tracy say, “okay, where’s that little cutie who I’m doing a photo with?” I was the only one who’d given her zero time to acclimatize before requesting the op, and thus knew it was me she was seeking.

“Yes, Hi! I’m Annie.” I would hardly expect someone in her position to remember. She gave me this very fleeting look right then (you did Tracy, I swear), as if to say, “Who do you think I am?!” “The thought of it!” That look said: Yeah, I’m here. I’m present. I see you. See you all. I care. I am as real as they come. Do not confuse me for the celebrities I have trained. I know we are all people. That we are all beautiful. All working hard.
“I remember!” She exclaimed. “I wouldn’t forget that!”
We posed for our picture and everything was rainbows and butterflies and pools of glorious sweat after that.

  IT’S ALL ABOUT BALANCE. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE PRE-WORKOUT MEAL? FAVORITE INDULGENCE?

This question thrills me to answer: since last summer, I religiously drink a TA protein shake. It was just about the dumbest thing ever that I hadn’t ever incorporated a protein powder into my life before that—especially as a vegetarian-most-picky-eater-ever who was probably crazy protein deficient let’s not even dwell on it oy! Only, my conception of protein powders was that they were for my beast of a guy, whose goal is to bulk-as-in-hulk. I didn’t want that. At vitality week, Tracy talked a lot about hers and why she believed in it. I left that Q&A feeling like, “I still don’t really get it, but I trust Tracy, so maybe I’ll just start doing this.” A couple of months later and it was suddenly like the muscle definition I had been working to build for years actually decided to show up to the party. Aren’t we all so proud of me?


Indulgence: chocolate. Sweets. And then there are times when you really just crave a good hunk of bread, you know?

  HOW ELSE DO YOU FIND BALANCE IN YOUR DAILY LIFE?
Honestly, there is nothing more grounding or fulfilling than the privilege of living your purpose, and since my work is that, even when it exhausts me, it brings me into spiritual alignment.

I’m learning more and more to relish moments of leisure, and to carve them out. To view leisure not as separate from productivity, but as intertwined with it. One supports the need for the other.Above all, I try to be disciplined with my thoughts as much as with anything else. To bring myself back to a place of gratitude whenever the mental-pendulum swings too far into crazy-town. You’ve been there, yes?
  CAN YOU SHARE YOUR FAVORITE POST-WORKOUT RECIPE FOR THE REST OF THE #TAMILY TO ENJOY?
I live for the quinoa-salad, and adjust the veggies added according to the season. Sometimes it’s more kale / quinoa / cherry tomatoes / purple cabbage / avocado / lime juice / cilantro. Sometimes: quinoa / lentils / cherry tomatoes / avocado / little feta / red wine vinegar. Lately, it’s been roasted sweet potatoes / kale / quinoa / olives / pomegranate seeds / red onion / little chopped clementine action / rice wine vinegar. Go with what feels right, that’s my cooking motto.
 ALL RIGHT, HERE’S A FREE PASS TO BRAG: IN ADDITION TO THE SUCCESS OF STICKING WITH IT, WHAT PROGRESS HAVE YOU MADE SINCE YOU STARTED #TAREALTIME AND BECAME PART OF THE #TAMILY, BOTH PHYSICALLY AND MENTALLY?

It used to be back in the day that I would watch Tracy do some move and just be all, “Uchhh, Tracy I can’t move like that! Why do you think I can do that?! STOP IT. STOP.”

And then rep after rep, day after day, week after week, year after year, it became increasingly clear: “Oh, huh, okay, fine. So, umm, maybe I can. Fine!”

I am really proud of the fact that I’ve reached a place where my first reaction to a new or seemingly foreign movement is, “Tracy, I can move that like?!” The doubt, frustration, and impatience for the learning curve is gone, and in its place is a sustained excitement to rise to the challenge. Through the method, I have learned to trust in the fact that my body still can do more than I imagine it can. Can recall sequences I doubt it can, can bend in ways I think it’s too clumsy to, can balance, can endure exhaustion.

This workout is hard! It is not easy. It challenges you on so many levels. But hard work and consistent engagement makes us feel alive in a way half-assing it never can or will.
 WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT YOUR BODY? WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT YOUR INTERNAL SELF? 

I’ve generally always felt pretty good about my abs and stomach, and feel even better about them thanks to the method. And after feeling indifferent about my arms for my whole life, I feel like something shifted recently and they really started to look strong and toned, so that’s exciting.

I believe I am a special mixture of capableness—a get ‘er done, take action, make it work mentality, and caring—patience, and a sensitivity to the needs and wants of others.

 WHAT MESSAGE DO YOU HAVE FOR WOMEN WHO ARE STRUGGLING WITH THEIR HEALTH AND BODY IMAGE?

Stop comparing yourself to other people. There is no other act that so effectively diminishes the spirit. Accept whatever it is true now. See it clearly and without judgment. Understand that your ability to do so is the first step in being able to radically correct it. Understand that everything you see now is nothing more than the result of decisions of the past. Forgive yourself for those. Focus instead on how to make better, more loving decisions going forward. Keep doing that.

ALL PHOTOS PROVIDED BY ANNIE. FOLLOW HER ON INSTAGRAM @annietamer

TAMILY SUPPORT:

I welcome anyone seeking to add a little more intention, beauty and simplicity in their lives to use the Live Simply blog as a resource http://www.livesimplybyannie.com/blog/ One day (maybe soon?) there will be a book, for now there is the blog. You can also find client service information on the website. And if anyone from the #TAmily has any questions they’d love answered, please feel free to send them my way!
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FAVORITE CURRENT QUOTE:
“YOU GET IN LIFE WHAT YOU HAVE THE COURAGE TO ASK FOR.”
– OPRAH WINFREY

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FAVORITE ALL-TIME QUOTE:

“IT IS NOT THE CRITIC WHO COUNTS; NOT THE MAN WHO POINTS OUT HOW THE STRONG MAN STUMBLES, OR WHERE THE DOER OF DEEDS COULD HAVE DONE THEM BETTER. THE CREDIT BELONGS TO THE MAN WHO IS ACTUALLY IN THE ARENA, WHOSE FACE IS MARRED BY DUST AND SWEAT AND BLOOD; WHO STRIVES VALIANTLY; WHO ERRS, WHO COMES SHORT AGAIN AND AGAIN, BECAUSE THERE IS NO EFFORT WITHOUT ERROR AND SHORTCOMING; BUT WHO DOES ACTUALLY STRIVE TO DO THE DEEDS; WHO KNOWS GREAT ENTHUSIASMS, THE GREAT DEVOTIONS; WHO SPENDS HIMSELF IN A WORTHY CAUSE; WHO AT THE BEST KNOWS IN THE END THE TRIUMPH OF HIGH ACHIEVEMENT, AND WHO AT THE WORST, IF HE FAILS, AT LEAST FAILS WHILE DARING GREATLY, SO THAT HIS PLACE SHALL NEVER BE WITH THOSE COLD AND TIMID SOULS WHO NEITHER KNOW VICTORY NOR DEFEAT.”
― THEODORE ROOSEVELT

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ALL-TIME FAVORITE BOOK:

 It all comes back to The Great Gatsby for me.

ALL-TIME FAVORITE FILM:

To Catch a Thief. Grace Kelly, Cary Grant, the south of France. I can’t ask for more.

FAVORITE MAT:
I went through a ton of mats before I found the Maduka pro lite mat. The others used to shred and flake in no time. This guy is holding up without so much as shedding a rubber fleck after roughly 2 years. Worth every penny.

 

ALL-TIME FAVORITE MOVIE:
Tata Harper. I can’t remember how I originally found out about Tata Harper…it was probably Tracy. Regardless, it is the most gorgeous product range. One that you can feel great about using since it’s completely natural, and one that simultaneously will make your skin look better than it ever has. The resurfacing mask is a stand out for me.

ADVICE ANNIE WOULD PASS ONTO YOUNG WOMEN THAT SHE WISH SHE HAD KNOWN EARLIER ON IN LIFE:

Pay attention to what lights you up. Move in that direction.
P.S. Faking it is as unfair to you as it is to them.

TAMILY TALES: Issue No. 14

By | #TAMILY TALES, Blog, Import

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I write this as I am about to take off, yet again, on my favorite airline, Delta (I didn’t get paid to say that by the way!). After what feels like endless travel in recent weeks, I honestly feel like their fleet is more familiar to me than my own cars, but I am super stoked to have a spare moment to bring back my weekly Tamily Tales.

I had to take a little breather from the newsletter because sometimes life is bigger than its functions. I am fully committed to my Tamily and, while I didn’t take a vacation, one of my team members who is key to my newsletter and its functioning suffered a loss in her family.

Many people may not realize this, but I have a small team of incredibly hard-working, full-hearted people who care deeply and who go above and beyond for their work. It wasn’t just about the days needed to honor a life that has moved on; it was about allowing her the time to catch up without a pressing “boss” freaking out over your head. Some things are bigger than contracts and bigger than just pushing something out. The Tamily Tales mean something timeless to me.

Relationships that are meaningful shouldn’t feel the pressure of threats or disappointments. If someone actually does something malicious to a person they call a friend or a family member, that in and of itself is an act worth the loss of that friendship. But allowing for compassion and understanding from someone who consistently shows up for us is quite a different story. We have to be allowed to pause, and we have to be supportive of one another. When someone has consistently proven to be a good friend, but has taken a break or fallen by the wayside for whatever reason, allow them the grace of being your good friend again, with the understanding that time and acceptance is what we all need most.

Mary Alice has shown all of us that for her, taking the time to be a friend and inspiration in the Tamily breaks all distances, time zones, and altitude barriers. Following her Instagram is an incredible way to see how and where she gets her workouts in. Not only that, but she knows the way to my heart through love, humor, and chocolate from Japan, no less! I am so happy to be back on my Tamily Tales grind, and so honored to be returning with the opportunity to share Mary Alice’s dedication and light with all of you.

Love to all of my Tamily!

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Hi there, I’m Mary, but many know me as Mae Mae or Mae. I am a fun loving emotional artist who adores her husband, loves her cats, and is learning to love herself, and therefore those in her life more and more everyday. No one would notice this side of me at work.  They would notice a calm faced woman wearing a gentlemen’s pilot uniform that makes her intimating as they walk onto my airplane.  Then I smile at them and say, “you made it, and the hardest part is done!”. Working in my industry requires I have a few sets of personalities available to me.  I’ve learned how to separate my emotional self from what is required of me, when it’s required of me …

My Job?  I fly planes. I have been trained, tested and stretched so you can excitedly step across a threshold, find a spot for your carry-on, locate your seat, and decompress from the TSA grilling you got about your TA weights. Just sit back relax and enjoy the ride to your final destination.  Nerves may hit you of the unknown.  Trust does not come naturally to an adult. It’s like pulling a raw piece of meat from a cat’s mouth.  They want to see what’s in front of them and they want to be at the helm…. And yet, you choose to trust my crew and me.

I have been flying airplanes since I was 16 years old.  My father, a former air force T-38 instructor and until this May, a Captain for Delta Air Lines, initially taught me and then sent me to Sanford Orlando, Florida for the rest of my training.  After this I was a flight instructor for quite a few years building experience and flight time while instructing Pilot hopefuls such as myself.  At 22 I was hired by Continental Express Airlines and continued my journey towards my career goal of working at my dad’s airline, Delta Air Lines.  In November of 2014 my goal became a reality and I joined the Delta Team … My loving husband and I now reside in North County San Diego with our 3 large rescue cats that like their bellies rubbed and always want to play fetch.  As of now, they are our kids.

Sounds amazing right? It is, but it wasn’t easy to get here and this life is by no means an everyday glamorous buffet of sunshine and rainbows. My life leading up to now has contained mass levels of roadblocks, no’s and nay-sayers.  Once I decided accept myself and stop being my own bully, I found the criticism from others only encourage me to work harder and live in the moment.

You want more? Please enjoy the questionnaire below. You want to get deep? Then lets have lunch…

2351f61d-8416-4edb-a9ee-2921a88335b5SOME #TAMILY MEMBERS WORKOUT IN THEIR LIVING ROOMS IN IOWA, OTHERS ON THEIR BALCONIES IN ITALY. WHEN AND WHERE DID YOU START #TAREALTIME?

4aeae3b3-463d-4e54-ae75-6ec592a9b7c9In 2012 due to some ill-fitting motocross boors and a table top, I found myself with a broken ankle.  Prior to the accident I had completed continuity and in 2014 after a long sketchy recovery I decided to give streaming a go…. Tracy’s #tarealtime was the perfect setup for me.  I’ve done streaming from home in my little woman cave (heat and steam!).  I’ve temporarily re-organized hotel room furniture and used some of my towels for knee support.  I’ve sought out corners of hotel gyms to do arms and dance and occasionally, a yoga studio right in the hotel! Score! I used to be shy about it, but lets face it, we’re all doing something different but with a similar goal in mind.  We’re working towards “our best selves”. Then, when I stopped being so self-conscious, I noticed people staring and then complimenting with curiosity.  I also just recently began to reward myself with group classes at Tracy’s Studio City location but more on that later.

2351f61d-8416-4edb-a9ee-2921a88335b5WE ALL FACE CHALLENGES WHEN IT COMES TO BEING OUR HEALTHIEST SELVES—INSIDE AND OUT. WHAT HAS BEEN THE HARDEST PART OF YOUR JOURNEY?
4aeae3b3-463d-4e54-ae75-6ec592a9b7c9Consistency… Oh! And food…. Fooooooooood…. Yes, we have a relationship.  I love to taste food, but I crave savory.  Ribs, Corn, Steak, potatoes… maybe I should mention the food I don’t enjoy… nothing.  My husband calls me “Food Centric”.

Candidly, this is a tough subject for me. I grew up in a very physically active household, yet there was always fast food (breakfast, lunch and dinner).  To this day I can sniff out any chain of fast food, and Chanel Perfume, but that’s another story. I was also very familiar with various diet programs through out my childhood and this caused me to look at food as a strict diet with cheat foods.  It was not a healthy outlook.

The biggest challenge I struggle with to this day is comparing myself to others and therefore becoming my own worst bully.  I have two older sisters, one is 5’4” and in impeccable shape while the other is 5’8” and built like a model.  I have always been the bigger girl. Before my growth spurt to 5’9” I carried excess weight, awaiting my new height. Again, fast food did not help. I was so obsessed with getting down to a size that would take away my “Big Girl” label, I began to do whatever it would take. I worked out everyday (good start), started my day with a smoothie and ended it with steamed kale and grilled Salmon (great!). The lack of food ruined my digestion and the scale didn’t move. I had good intentions, but my goals were all wrong.  I also unfortunately had a specific person in my life that kept telling me I could stand to lose a few more pounds even when I was a size 2.  I still can’t remember what broke me of this lifestyle, maybe it was breaking away from the toxic person and discovering Tracy Anderson’s story in FitnessRX back in 2008!   I still have the tear out pages from the magazine.

2351f61d-8416-4edb-a9ee-2921a88335b5HAS BEING PART OF THE COMMUNITY OF #TAMILY WOMEN HELPED YOU TO OVERCOME THIS? HOW SO?
4aeae3b3-463d-4e54-ae75-6ec592a9b7c9These women have been instrumental in helping me embrace who I am as a woman.  They love me just as I am while encouraging me to seek my “best self”. Lauren (@laurenwaskewicz) has helped me structure a food plan for my busy lifestyle with travel as well as a menu to utilize while I’m home.  Maria is there with me every time I attend Studio City.  Kia is so grounding and recently bought me a book that has grown as a daily assist to keep me focused and centered.  Amy is this ball of positive energy.  Have you seen her during this 33day challenge? Her commitment is epic.  She never lets a day go by with out making me check in on getting my TArealtime in. Then there is Roz… Roz is like a sister to me.  We have similar lifestyles for our careers and very similar personalities that make us wonder how we hadn’t met each other sooner.  Outside of my immediate friendships and support group, I have @Tiffaney_ann, @Melissarigdon, @emery5, @Fitshasha, @EAT.MOVE.LIVE.REPEAT (Gabrielle) all encouraging me daily along with the rest of the #TAMily. I could go on forever. Being introduced to Paige, Katie, Shanee, Ashanti and the rest of the Tracy Anderson Method Studio City crew has really been amazing as well. the Studio really is like family when you walk in, Open arms.

2351f61d-8416-4edb-a9ee-2921a88335b5ONE OF THE COOL THINGS I LOVE ABOUT THE #TAMILY IS HOW IT CONNECTS WOMEN ALL OVER THE WORLD. HOW ARE YOU INSPIRED BY OTHER WOMEN? WHO IN THE #TAMILY INSPIRES YOU?
4aeae3b3-463d-4e54-ae75-6ec592a9b7c9I’ve never been known as a “girl’s girl”.  Through out my life I’ve been pen-pointed as the girl to hate, in order to be accepted by the cool girls. The first time I’ve hung out with any women since I was 17 was this last November. and they were #TAMily.

I can honestly say, every person I follow in the #TAMily inspires me.  They all have a uniqueness in them that encourages me daily.  Mothers, Grandmothers, scientists, business owners, chefs, travelers, professional dancers, teachers, etc.  We all encourage each other daily.

There is one very specific woman who has inspired me lately… @fitshasha (Alexandra)… She went through an epic recovery from a severe injury.  I will not take from her story with my own explanation.  It is posted in her history. She is truly a fighter.  There are many with similar ongoing victories. @Emery5, @DiscoDivaaa to name a few.

2351f61d-8416-4edb-a9ee-2921a88335b5HOW DO YOU CONNECT WITH OTHER WOMEN IN THE #TAMILY BOTH ON INSTAGRAM AND IN REAL LIFE?

I love checking in with the women on Istagram. It doesn’t matter where you are in the world or what schedule you’re on, there is always someone checking in.  I’ve begun further conversation via Instagram DM and text with some of the women who I’ve gotten to know further… Then there’s that classic fun loving #westcoasttamily here in California.

Maria, Roz, Kia, Amy,and Lauren reached out to me and we all connected in November and attended Attain and Cardio at Tracy’s Brentwood Studio then went to dinner.  We’ve been inseparable ever since.  I have gotten so accustomed to having them in my life. I’ve even face timed with them from my hotel room in Osaka, Japan.  We will be meeting again soon and I am so excited to see some new faces from the #TAMily join us!

I’ve also met some amazing women from my Studio City visits.  The trainers and fellow clients are all there for the same purpose.  It doesn’t matter who they are, how famous their name or face is, how outgoing or shy they’re feeling, when the music starts, the cares of the day melt away and the arms start pumping.

I look forward to meeting some of the girls in the near future during their visits to the LA area.  I also have a goal to begin reaching out to some of the women in the cities that I visit regularly and see if they want to meet up for lunch and of course a little #TAStreaming.  Not to mention my fingers being crossed for another Vitality Crash Course in Studio City… Pretty please!!!!

2351f61d-8416-4edb-a9ee-2921a88335b5LIKE MOST WOMEN I KNOW, YOU ARE BUSY! WHAT TIPS DO YOU HAVE FOR FITTING WORKOUTS INTO A HECTIC LIFESTYLE?
4aeae3b3-463d-4e54-ae75-6ec592a9b7c9Make it happen. I jump the date line regularly and spend at least 12 days out of the month in foreign hotels.  Tracy has given us every tool and tip necessary to do this for ourselves.  When I travel I always have both sets of my TA ankle weights with me.  Any time I go through foreign TSA, they look up at me wide eyed and every time I lift my leg high and wrap my hands around my ankles say, “ankle weights” and then somehow flail my hands with a little hop saying, “for working out!” They laugh every time.  I make it happen when I can. This is not saying I skip a day because I can’t find time, I mean I make it happen at some point during the day.  Then if I need a rest day, I take a rest day. Whether in a high rise in Tokyo, a beach town in Guam, or deep in the rain forest of Guatemala or Costa Rica, I just have to make it happen.  I’d rather feel a high all day from completing my workout, then beating myself up and trying to find the time to squeeze it in.  I actually have a known “rule of thumb” to anyone I fly with, we can go out and have dinner and wine, but first, I have to work out. I frequently fly with men and those who have gotten to know me are always stunned and then start asking questions about the theory and of course Tracy.   Yes, there may be some gawking going on.

There are also times when I get into LAX early in the day or during rush hour traffic, so I decide to go to the studio and buy classes that are available at that time. This way, when I get home, I can concentrate on giving my husband the biggest hug and squeezing all three of my cats.   My first visit to the Studio City location was after working a red-eye from Hawaii.   Maria  (@birmi2) made it her mission to meet me there and introduce me to the trainers and show me the ropes.

2351f61d-8416-4edb-a9ee-2921a88335b5ONE THING THE #TAMILY HAS IS STYLE. WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE OUTFIT TO EXERCISE IN?
4aeae3b3-463d-4e54-ae75-6ec592a9b7c9Um… good question. Look at my Instagram account and you will see. I wear a men’s uniform for my career, the same uniform everyday.  I still have 25lbs to lose to fit back into my long time collection of regular clothes from before I broke my leg, I love fashion, so I have been concentrating on my style during my workouts. It’s another way I encourage and reward myself.  I am all about Sam Anderson, Good hYOUman, Liquido, Fit Mamma, sweat pants and a good hoodie afterwards. I’m a shoe fanatic.  For my shoes I circulate my NYC Asics, my Nike flyknit, and of course my personalized Nike Shox.   I’ve got to take care of my ankles and my feet!

2351f61d-8416-4edb-a9ee-2921a88335b5WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE TA MOMENT?
4aeae3b3-463d-4e54-ae75-6ec592a9b7c9 I have an endless list of TA moments, but there is an epic moment I will never forget.  Tracy completely surprised me when she ran over and hugged me during her Studio City Master Class workout last month. But what was even better was the moment that wasn’t caught on camera, Tracy asked me, “did you fly me here?” In pure childlike excitement, I pointed directly at Maria and Kia and said, “It’s their fault!”, typical youngest child blaming the older siblings.

2351f61d-8416-4edb-a9ee-2921a88335b5IT’S ALL ABOUT BALANCE. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE PRE-WORKOUT MEAL? FAVORITE INDULGENCE?
4aeae3b3-463d-4e54-ae75-6ec592a9b7c9Smoothie, otherwise I get nauseous.  I’ve been experimenting with protein powders.   Vega one, Super Elixir Nourishing Protein, Designs for health PurePea, Tracy Anderson Start Ignition Protein+Energy Shake and recently I picked up her Revitalize Shake Protein+Detox.  You may wonder why someone would be trying so many proteins powders?  There is nowhere in the world that won’t allow me to bring it with.  It’s my go to.

Then after, I tend to drink a gallon of water and some lean protein and veggies; otherwise I will go through my husband’s stash of salty goodness.

Favorite Indulgence… Just one? No fare!!! Royce Dark Chocolate, hard cheese and a dry full bodied red wine.

2351f61d-8416-4edb-a9ee-2921a88335b5HOW ELSE DO YOU FIND BALANCE IN YOUR DAILY LIFE?
4aeae3b3-463d-4e54-ae75-6ec592a9b7c9A pilot’s life is full of extremes.  Schedule, pressurization changes, time zones, food, the driest air and that random cold or flu brewing in what ever country you find yourself.  It’s pure levels of extreme on your body, psyche and emotions. We actually have to go through a personal checklist before each flight and sign on the dotted line… IMSAFE

I-Illness
M-Medication
S-Stress
A-alcohol
F-fatigue
E-eating

Some of the things on the list are obvious, others not so much. Stress and fatigue are a daily check one must do and one must work on everyday.  Getting good food, good sleep, and a good workout regime set into my life is obvious.

When I’m home, I check out of the aviation life. I have my husband, my cats and my home.  We are still renovating our home and concentrating on creating a full fledge garden and orchard in our back yard.  I listen to music and have a love of sports that some would consider extreme.  Motocross, Surfing and Skiing.

2351f61d-8416-4edb-a9ee-2921a88335b5 CAN YOU SHARE YOUR FAVORITE POST-WORKOUT RECIPE FOR THE REST OF THE #TAMILY TO ENJOY?
4aeae3b3-463d-4e54-ae75-6ec592a9b7c9Until lately I haven’t been huge in the culinary department.  My husband on the other hand is the Wizard and can make the most amazing crawfish etouffee.
Lauren Waskewicz has helped me with this through her meal planning.

I absolutely love this recipe!  I go overboard on the red pepper flakes because I love spicy food.  I eat fresh Jalapeño’s on their own.  (RECIPE BELOW)

2351f61d-8416-4edb-a9ee-2921a88335b5ALL RIGHT, HERE’S A FREE PASS TO BRAG: IN ADDITION TO THE SUCCESS OF STICKING WITH IT, WHAT PROGRESS HAVE YOU MADE SINCE YOU STARTED #TAREALTIME AND BECAME PART OF THE #TAMILY, BOTH PHYSICALLY AND MENTALLY?
4aeae3b3-463d-4e54-ae75-6ec592a9b7c9I’m finally escaping my own bully and am beginning to smile at myself.  I’ve lost 20lbs and have no intention of settling half way through the journey.  I still have about 25lbs to get back to my ideal weight and enjoy the long-term relationship with my body.

2351f61d-8416-4edb-a9ee-2921a88335b5WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT YOUR BODY? WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT YOUR INTERNAL SELF?
4aeae3b3-463d-4e54-ae75-6ec592a9b7c9I have always liked my shoulders and the dimples in them. Lately I am liking my booty!  Thank you Tracy!!!
Internally, I’m able to look myself in the eye and not feel disdain for the person looking back.  I remember in Tracy’s 30-day Method, Page 50, I struggled with “Your Daily Connection Exercise”. I now look myself in the eye during my workout and feel strength.  When I start to feel the burn and my arms begin to buckle, I look myself in the eye and find the strong woman inside.  I will not give up, whether I’m home, in a hotel or in the Studio.

2351f61d-8416-4edb-a9ee-2921a88335b5WHAT MESSAGE DO YOU HAVE FOR WOMEN WHO ARE STRUGGLING WITH THEIR HEALTH AND BODY IMAGE?

4aeae3b3-463d-4e54-ae75-6ec592a9b7c9Stop bullying yourself.  I constantly hear women tear themselves down, and it’s not only poisoning themselves but those impressionable, younger people in their life.  It’s toxic.

 

ALL PHOTOS PROVIDED BY MARY ALICE. FOLLOW HER ON INSTAGRAM @maebella23.

 

 

 

 

 

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LOADED TURKEY MEAT BALLS WITH ZOODLES


INGREDIENTS:
   1 lb. organic extra lean ground turkey
1/4 small onion, finely chopped
1-cup handful of frozen spinach (defrosted,
Drained, squeezed to remove excess water)
1 egg
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes (more if you like a little
Kick!)
1 1/2 tsp onion powder
1 1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp basil
1 tsp Italian seasoning
Himalayan sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

DIRECTIONS:
1. Preheat oven to 350
2. Line a baking sheet and grease lightly
3. In a bowl combine all ingredients and mix well
4. Roll into balls and bake on 350 for about 15-20
minutes, or until fully cooked through
5. Serve with sauce of choice and Zoodles- take 5
zucchini’s and spiralize them into noodles.
Note: You can also sub ground chicken!

I don’t eat these meatballs as intended. I prep them the weekend before and then eat them cold with some type of raw veggies or over salad with red wine vinegar.  Or if I’m really on the run I just take it with me and eat it, as is!  I know… so glamorous!

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FAVORITE CURRENT QUOTE:

“THERE’S NO ELEVATOR TO SUCCESS,
YOU HAVE TO TAKE THE STAIRS…”
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FAVORITE ALL-TIME QUOTE:

“ILLEGITIMIS NON CARBORUNDUM…”
(LATIN: DON’T LET THE BASTARDS GRIND YOU DOWN)

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CURRENT FAVORITE BOOK:

I can’t think of a favorite. Books… that would require time for me to read… The only book outside of work I’ve been reading is “The Wealthy Spirit”.  Daily affirmations for financial stress reduction. It was a gift from Kia.
Other than that, it’s been books for work and training to my specific aircraft… We’re trained heavily in our specific equipment so it becomes an extension of our bodies…

ALL-TIME FAVORITE MUSIC:

However…. Music has spoken to my soul since I was young… Nothing like a beet to match the blood pumping through my veins to back to voice that strums my to strings of my very soul…Used to drive my mother nuts while doing my home schooling… but that’s how my overly active mind was made to focus.  Rock, Classical, techno, dance….

All time favorites:
Queen’s Innuendo album and Satisfaction Guaranteed by The FIRM

CURRENT FAVORITE MOVIES:
Kill Bill 1 and 2…

ALL-TIME FAVORITE MOVIE:
LEGEND… The one in 1985 with Tom Cruise

ADVICE MARY ALICE WOULD PASS ONTO YOUNG WOMEN THAT SHE WISH SHE HAD KNOWN EARLIER ON IN LIFE:

As you progress in life, you will be stretched.  It won’t be easy.  If it were, anyone would do it.  You will come across toxic people, people with best intentions and those who will fight for you till the end.  You will learn to take advice and input from others with a grain of salt.  Remember, the path you take is up to you.

You may will look back on certain moments and want to judge. It’s so easy to correct based on one’s own 20/20 hind sight… but when a person concentrates solely on the roadblock to avoid and what not to do, they’re just like a person fighting not to drown… I tell you now…Swim.  Dive down deep and choose a different path.  Once you stop fighting the roadblock to surface, you’ll find just how strong and driven you are towards your dreams and goals…

You have the potential to be your own problem, and you have everything required to be your own solution.  So do it….

TAMILY TALES: Issue No. 13

By | #TAMILY TALES, Import

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TAMILY

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“A Pearl is produced only through the pearl-oysters enduring the pain of having a grain of sand bore into its flesh, fighting against it, and protecting itself against it. We, also, by fighting all kinds of difficulties and overcoming them, strive to develop the jewel of spiritual cultivation.”

– Isshu-Roshi

I get asked daily for quick tips on feeling and looking healthy. Being beautiful and healthy means being true to yourself; buying a certain lip gloss or following one quick tip after another doesn’t add up to beauty. I honestly believe that true, heart-melting beauty comes only from within. Within us lies one of the most complex systems in the universe: the human brain. If we can quiet the noise and find the support to be uniquely ourselves, we are capable of doing extraordinary things during our lifetimes. Our brain can help us show up for our health in more ways than we may have ever imagined, and mental toughness is key to being our best selves. Extreme athletes are able to fight through a state, often referred to as the “pain cave,” by recognizing the extreme discomfort they are in and, rather than succumbing to it, telling themselves it will end—and they will champion through until it does.

We live in such a comfortable world that we consider getting up for our workouts instead of hitting the snooze button making it through a pain cave. Our brains are so spoiled and dumbed down, they have to be retrained to show up for our physical selves. In reality, any skill that requires anything physical cannot be mastered without being performed—you have to work out. The more consistently you show up for your body, the faster your brain will be able to grow, and before you know it, your mental toughness will also gain strength. Your brain will always want to give into the emotions that come up first, but no one ever achieved greatness through meltdown after meltdown, and you won’t achieve your best self physically if you are in constant cop-out mode.

In this week’s Tamily Tale, I interviewed Sheba Bergman, PhD. I have wanted to interview her for a long time, but I asked her last minute if she would be the interview for this specific opening, because she is all about science. Sheba is a chemist and, I am proud to say, a super-nerd sister of mine. I have had the pleasure of having her at multiple Vitality Weeks and she always brings so much to the table. Sheba doesn’t stunt progress, she generates it. She understands the hard work I have poured into creating this method and understands that, while you may be able to fake your way to a certain extent, you can’t fake mastery. None of us can. We have to put in the work to get the results. Appearance isn’t the sign of someone who’s strong, achievement is. Some people don’t have to work to appear beautiful, but again, appearance isn’t where beauty ultimately lies. Beauty lies in the spirit of accomplishment, in being in control, and in the connection of the heart, the body, and the spirit.

One of the many things I love about all of the Tamily Tales to date is the incredible smiles of each and every one of the women I interview. As I see their photos coming in, my heart feels hope, love, and joy that we are moving in a direction that is more natural and more loving than ever. Just as you can’t fake mental toughness, you can’t fake a real smile. Thank you Sheba, for showing up for your whole self and sharing your beautiful intelligence with us.

Love all of you,

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TAMILY-Issue-sheba

2351f61d-8416-4edb-a9ee-2921a88335b5SOME #TAMILY MEMBERS WORKOUT IN THEIR LIVING ROOMS IN IOWA, OTHERS ON THEIR BALCONIES IN ITALY. WHEN AND WHERE DID YOU START #TAREALTIME?

4aeae3b3-463d-4e54-ae75-6ec592a9b7c9I initially found out about Tracy Anderson Method when I was living in France. I started doing the mat DVD, and then metamorphosis, which I loved, but I had a pretty serious injury (stress fractures from walking in heels) that prevented me from working out for almost a year. During that year I also moved back to the USA, so when I saw that in January 2015 there will be vitality week in NYC, I thought this is a great opportunity to get back into it. The vitality week was really a turn point for me, not just because I actually had the fortune of taking master classes with Tracy, but also because it was the first time I felt the power and support in the community of women who attended the vitality week. I started #TArealtime last year in January after that vitality week, and I absolutely love it! I travel so much for work, and they send me to literally the middle of nowhere…. But as long as I have my iPad with me and an internet connection, I can get my workout done wherever I am 🙂 I just lock myself in the hotel bathroom and steam it up with the shower on, and just do it!

2351f61d-8416-4edb-a9ee-2921a88335b5WE ALL FACE CHALLENGES WHEN IT COMES TO BEING OUR HEALTHIEST SELVES—INSIDE AND OUT. WHAT HAS BEEN THE HARDEST PART OF YOUR JOURNEY?
4aeae3b3-463d-4e54-ae75-6ec592a9b7c9There have been different levels of challenges. I think initially my biggest challenge was being able to do the workout consistently with my crazy travel schedule, in the most optimal way – heat and humidity-wise. The next challenge I faced was not allowing myself to get in the way of progress. I have been dancing since I was 6, and could not wrap my brain around the fact that I could pick up the cardio dance moves, and I felt defeated… The point where it really clicked for me was the second vitality week I attended in the upper east side in NYC, and I remember Tracy talking about having the mentality of “failing forward”. That really resonated with me. It made me realize that it is ok not to be able to do the moves the first, second or tenth time. It also made me realize that I need to forgive myself for not getting it perfect – it is a learning process. The learning process, and challenging our brain to do something it has never done before, that is what is crucial for developing new neural pathways, and is ultimately crucial for pushing yourself to the next level. Otherwise, it would not be a “work” out. It forces you to concentrate on what you are doing, as opposed to “zoning out” – which is what I was used to for many years doing other things – running, swimming, biking…. Today, I think my biggest challenge is food, as I have a very deep emotional connection to it, and I also eat out a lot when I travel. And my biggest weakness is nuts, I am nuts for nuts! I try to listen to my body and figure out what it truly needs, but it is a work in progress 🙂

2351f61d-8416-4edb-a9ee-2921a88335b5HAS BEING PART OF THE COMMUNITY OF #TAMILY WOMEN HELPED YOU TO OVERCOME THIS? HOW SO?
4aeae3b3-463d-4e54-ae75-6ec592a9b7c9Absolutely! I think anybody who is struggling tends to think that they are alone. What is so amazing about the #TAmily community is that it shows you every day, that all over the world, other women are facing the exact same struggles. And it is very inspiring to know that not only are you not alone, but you can count on other women to lift you up. I try to read the posts every day, and they are all so inspiring!

2351f61d-8416-4edb-a9ee-2921a88335b5ONE OF THE COOL THINGS I LOVE ABOUT THE #TAMILY IS HOW IT CONNECTS WOMEN ALL OVER THE WORLD. HOW ARE YOU INSPIRED BY OTHER WOMEN? WHO IN THE #TAMILY INSPIRES YOU? HOW DO YOU CONNECT WITH OTHER WOMEN IN THE #TAMILY BOTH ON INSTAGRAM AND IN REAL LIFE?
4aeae3b3-463d-4e54-ae75-6ec592a9b7c9I would say that women who have overcome things in life, women who passionate about what they do, women who support other women and women who share their wisdom with other truly inspire me. There are so many women in the #TAmily who inspire me… I have to give a shout out to @agikonwalia who convinced me to get on instagram and who continues to inspire me with her grace, kind heart and her compassion.  @melissarigdon has undergone such a huge transformation, and has a heart of gold! @emery5 is an amazing chef and posts the most beautiful photos of all the meals she cooks. She definitely inspires my cooking – an activity which I truly enjoy, but have less and less time to do. @lorettasfitnesslife makes me work harder at learning the dance cardio, she is so graceful in her video posts! And of course, @magallypadronc who is just a superwoman – flying in from Madrid or Caracas to do the vitality weeks and posting videos from a ski resort doing her TArealtime streaming!

2351f61d-8416-4edb-a9ee-2921a88335b5LIKE MOST WOMEN I KNOW, YOU ARE BUSY! WHAT TIPS DO YOU HAVE FOR FITTING WORKOUTS INTO A HECTIC LIFESTYLE?
4aeae3b3-463d-4e54-ae75-6ec592a9b7c9The first tip is put it on your schedule, like any other meeting. The second is to prepare the night before a really cute outfit and place it in a visible place. The key is that when you get home, put the outfit immediately on, before you even sit down. It is much harder to give up a workout if you are all dressed and ready to go. And the third tip, is be flexible: There are days when I am really tired and not feeling like it. So I tell myself that I will just do ten minutes of cardio (which is my favorite thing to do). Once I do ten minutes I just keep going, because the adrenaline rush I get from it makes me want to do the whole workout. And fit it in whenever you can – I sometimes wake up at 5 am to squeeze in a workout before a day of meetings, though I prefer an evening workout.

2351f61d-8416-4edb-a9ee-2921a88335b5ONE THING THE #TAMILY HAS IS STYLE. WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE OUTFIT TO EXERCISE IN?
4aeae3b3-463d-4e54-ae75-6ec592a9b7c9I have to say that I am a big fan of liquido leggings, and also fit mama and Sam Anderson leggings! I also love Candida Maria…. For sport bras I swear by Victoria Secret. And then any tank top/t-shirt will do. I have some from H&M.

 

2351f61d-8416-4edb-a9ee-2921a88335b5WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE TA MOMENT?
4aeae3b3-463d-4e54-ae75-6ec592a9b7c9There are so many it would be hard to chose just one, but certainly a favorite moment was meeting Tracy Anderson, who is an incredible woman and such an inspiration. Also the vitality weeks, getting to workout with an amazing group of women, and of course getting to workout with the lovely trainers in the studio…

2351f61d-8416-4edb-a9ee-2921a88335b5IT’S ALL ABOUT BALANCE. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE PRE-WORKOUT MEAL? FAVORITE INDULGENCE?
4aeae3b3-463d-4e54-ae75-6ec592a9b7c9If I workout first thing in the morning, I will usually just have Tracy’s shake with a shot of espresso inside and a dash of cinnamon. If I am working out in the evening, I will try to have a late lunch or an early dinner, so I will have eaten two hours before the workout. Since I do not have much of a sweet tooth, my biggest indulgences are salty…. I love nuts, especially almond butter (it is addictive!) and raw cashews. And my other indulgence is freshly baked rye or pumpernickel bread.

2351f61d-8416-4edb-a9ee-2921a88335b5HOW ELSE DO YOU FIND BALANCE IN YOUR DAILY LIFE?
4aeae3b3-463d-4e54-ae75-6ec592a9b7c9I think I really big component for me is managing stress, as my work is very stressful. I try to take 5 minutes every two hours and close my eyes and just breath. I also work through the stress by doing mental exercises: I try to identify the source of my stress in a very specific way, and then determine if I have any power over it to change it. If I can’t change it, I try to let it be. The more I practice it, the more second nature it becomes.

Another big component for me is just connecting with my friends. I have been very fortunate to have lived in different countries, and I have friends all over the world. Keeping in touch with them can be tricky at times, but thankfully Whatsapp and skype make it easier 🙂

2351f61d-8416-4edb-a9ee-2921a88335b5 CAN YOU SHARE YOUR FAVORITE POST-WORKOUT RECIPE FOR THE REST OF THE #TAMILY TO ENJOY?
4aeae3b3-463d-4e54-ae75-6ec592a9b7c9I really love cooking soups at winter, and I have a really simple and fast zucchini soup that feels very indulgent and is super clean and healthy:

Ingredients (all organic): 1/2 a white or yellow onion, 2 minced garlic cloves, 1/2 tbs coconut oil, 2 chopped zucchinis (summer squash can also work), 3 cups of filtered water, fresh parsley, fresh cilantro, black pepper to taste

Preparation: Heat the coconut oil in a pot, and add the chopped onion and sautee until softened, add the minced garlic cloves and sautee for another minute. Add the chopped zucchinis, 3 cups of filtered water, and add the spices. Cover the pot, and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer for another 5 min. Allow to cool down for a bit, and then pour the contents into a blender, and blend until smooth. Enjoy!

2351f61d-8416-4edb-a9ee-2921a88335b5ALL RIGHT, HERE’S A FREE PASS TO BRAG: IN ADDITION TO THE SUCCESS OF STICKING WITH IT, WHAT PROGRESS HAVE YOU MADE SINCE YOU STARTED #TAREALTIME AND BECAME PART OF THE #TAMILY, BOTH PHYSICALLY AND MENTALLY?
4aeae3b3-463d-4e54-ae75-6ec592a9b7c9First, my butt has never been so lifted, or tight and smaller for that matter! I always had very strong abs, especially when I was belly dancing, but with Tracy Anderson’s method, they are on another level altogether. And also, my muscles have slimmed down. After years of dancing ballet, salsa and flamenco, and also running 10K on a regular basis, swimming and biking for hours, my leg and arm muscles were quite bulky. Since I have been doing Tracy Anderson’s Method, my muscles have actually shrunk a few good inches, without compromising the skin – no stretch marks!

2351f61d-8416-4edb-a9ee-2921a88335b5WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT YOUR BODY? WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT YOUR INTERNAL SELF?
4aeae3b3-463d-4e54-ae75-6ec592a9b7c9I love how my body has progressed through this streaming journey. I feel stronger and more balanced than I ever have. I feel in control of my body, I also feel healthier, I sleep better, I am more mentally sharp. This is more than just a workout, this is a lifestyle really, and I feel its positive impact in every aspect of my life – I feel that I am a better girlfriend, better woman, better employee because of this method. I love that I am at peace with myself, learning to let go of negativity or self-defeating thoughts, and to forgive myself for not being perfect.


2351f61d-8416-4edb-a9ee-2921a88335b5WHAT MESSAGE DO YOU HAVE FOR WOMEN WHO ARE STRUGGLING WITH THEIR HEALTH AND BODY IMAGE?

4aeae3b3-463d-4e54-ae75-6ec592a9b7c9Know that you are not alone, and that all women struggle with the same issues. Know that you can find support in our #TAmily. Remember that no great feat in life is accomplished in a single day, but that every day is an opportunity to take another step in the right direction. And with enough steps, one eventually goes on a journey. And that is the beauty of this journey we call life.

ALL PHOTOS PROVIDED BY SHEBA. FOLLOW HER ON INSTAGRAM @THE_NJ_ALCHEMIST

 

 

I am really passionate about supporting women in science, and am very active about mentoring young women in these fields. I think a lot of women, and not just in STEM fields, feel uncomfortable asking for more in the workplace. I try to help them understand that its ok to ask. You are worth it. And if you never ask, you will never get the opportunity.

I am also really passionate about research, and this is a very exciting time in that sense, where discoveries are being made every year, deepening our understanding in the biological and chemical mechanisms that are operating in our body. I was just reading an article about the identification of DNA methylation as the mechanism by which your body activates and deactivates genes. And a company in Canada that used machine learning to identify non-gene based mutations that can results in various genetic conditions, by impacting DNA splicing…. I have always been a science nerd, and I think it is so important to educate yourself and really understand things to approach them with purpose and strategy. That is one of the things I admire the most about Tracy, she really has done her research, and the results speak for themselves!

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FAVORITE CURRENT QUOTE:

“THE IMPORTANT THING IS NOT TO STOP QUESTIONING. CURIOSITY HAS ITS OWN REASON FOR EXISTING.”
ALBERT EINSTEIN     

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FAVORITE ALL-TIME QUOTE:

“WHAT DOESN’T KILL YOU MAKES YOU STRONGER.”

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ALL-TIME FAVORITE BOOK:

The Code Book by Simon Singh

ALL-TIME FAVORITE BOOK:

Memoires of a Geisha by Arthur Golden

CURRENT FAVORITE MOVIES:

My favorite current films are “Inception” and “Ex-Machina“.

 

ALL-TIME FAVORITE MOVIE:
My favorite movies of all time are “The Red Shoes” and “Star Wars IV” the original of course!

ADVICE SHEBA WOULD PASS ONTO YOUNG WOMEN THAT SHE WISH SHE HAD KNOWN EARLIER ON IN LIFE:
Life is short, so live it to the fullest. Make connection with other people, don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone, exercise, nourish yourself physically, emotionally and spiritually. Smile, because life is beautiful, even when it is hard. And breathe 🙂

TAMILY TALES: Issue No. 12

By | #TAMILY TALES, Blog, Import

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TAMILY-Issue12

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So the saying goes and I strongly confer,

“HARD WORK BEATS TALENT THAT DOESN’T WORK HARD.”
– (BY AN UNKNOWN AUTHOR)

This weeks #Tamily tale features a warrior princess. Agata Antoniuk embodies inner passion, drive, mystery, and pureness of heart. To me I feel her loyalty and her inner warrior and so I share her tale.

All of my love,

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I believe there is an incredible spark that occurs when a group of women come together to support each other in a common goal. This spark of support and inspiration can occur on a small scale like coming together to cheer a girlfriend up after a breakup, or on a large scale like rallying for women’s rights or joining together to promote positive body image. My nature is to gravitate towards people with colorful personalities, because they fill my life with color, happiness, and liveliness. So when I found a group of strong, colorful, supportive women, I knew I found home.

I’m a mother. That’s one of my most important roles. My sons are the best part of me. They are my greatest teachers. They fill my heart with hope and love everyday. I am in a happy, healthy relationship with a wonderful, loving man for the past 23 years. A man who finds me beautiful in the wee hours of the morning and we all know that, that is not always a pretty sight. He is the best father to my sons I could have ever wished for. I have a successful career, which I love, especially because I get to serve the people of my city. However, since I can remember, both, at home and at work, I am surrounded by men. Because of this, I’ve always searched for strong friendships with women; women who understood me and could relate to me on almost all levels.

Some of my earliest memories depict my admiration for strong relationships between women. As a six year-old girl growing up in Poland, my mother left me in the care of my relatives while she earned a living for our family. As her only daughter, I formed an unbreakable bond with her. When she left, I yearned for her girly presence in my life. Even my toys, hand me downs from my older brothers, seemed to lack femininity. At that stage of my life, I missed my mother dearly. I remember staring in a mirror, recognizing the sadness in my eyes, and making a memorable wish – I wished for my mother presence, I wished for girlfriends since I didn’t have any at that time, and I wished for strong relationships to fill the void she left me with.

I carried this intention with me throughout my life. My mother and I were eventually reunited and our relationship developed throughout the years. We became wonderful companions sharing a living space in NYC, learning English together, and trying to “make it” in the big city. Fulfilling my wish for strong connections with women, I found an amazing group of girls in my high school and college years that I am great friends with still, friends who continue to be there for me, who support me in all my life’s adventures; girl friends with whom I could be myself and flourish in a space of truth, a space free of judgment.

During these formative years, my relationship with my mother also further developed. She supported me and respected the woman I was becoming. Our bond took a big hit when my mother was diagnosed with a chronic illness. It was then that my role as a daughter significantly changed. I became a caregiver, a mother to my own mama. There was no time for friendships, no time for socializing, no time for me.

The moment I lost my mama, I felt exactly like my six year old self staring in a mirror, recognizing the familiar sadness in my eyes, and longing deeply for my mother’s presence. The sadness of losing a mother never goes away. However, I’ve learned that you need to move on and somehow create a “new normal” to lessen the sadness. The valuable connections I have made with TAM Family have become my new normal. This community of women has filled the void I felt after losing my mother. They have exceeded any expectation I have had for a group of supportive, understanding, inspiring, colorful women, and I am so grateful to be part of the TAMILY.

2351f61d-8416-4edb-a9ee-2921a88335b5SOME #TAMILY MEMBERS WORKOUT IN THEIR LIVING ROOMS IN IOWA, OTHERS ON THEIR BALCONIES IN ITALY. WHEN AND WHERE DID YOU START #TAREALTIME?

4aeae3b3-463d-4e54-ae75-6ec592a9b7c9After giving birth to my older son in 2003, the skin on my stomach was stretched like a deflated balloon.  Although my son was one of life’s greatest gifts, but the pregnancy left my body in dissatisfying state. I am not quite sure how I stumbled upon Tracy Anderson’s Post Pregnancy DVD, but I did, and I completed the workout 6 days a week for 6 weeks.  My stomach never looked better.  I did the same routine after having my second son in 2008. Once again, it was pure magic that my stomach went back to its original state. In April of 2015, I picked up the 90 Day Metamorphosis and  I realized right away that there was no going back for me. It was love at first workout.

In April of 2015, I completed my first TArealtime on a teddy soft carpet on my living room floor in my small modern home in NYC. My sons were sitting on the couch, fussing that my exercising got in the way of their cartoons, but that didn’t seem to matter- I longed for a connection. A connection with my inner self. I do Meta Continuity on days that I barely have any time to exercise.  On the days that I have more time to devote to myself, I enjoy an hour of TArealtime.

2351f61d-8416-4edb-a9ee-2921a88335b5WE ALL FACE CHALLENGES WHEN IT COMES TO BEING OUR HEALTHIEST SELVES—INSIDE AND OUT. WHAT HAS BEEN THE HARDEST PART OF YOUR JOURNEY?
4aeae3b3-463d-4e54-ae75-6ec592a9b7c9Sugar. Processed sugar is my greatest challenge. I crave sweets in an indescribable way. It has taken me a long time to realize that sugar, in all its delicious forms, betrays my body. Although the sweet molecules may tickle my taste buds momentarily, my body reacts with longer lasting effects including fatigue and headaches.  It’s a daily struggle, and there are days when I lose the fight.

2351f61d-8416-4edb-a9ee-2921a88335b5HAS BEING PART OF THE COMMUNITY OF #TAMILY WOMEN HELPED YOU TO OVERCOME THIS? HOW SO?
4aeae3b3-463d-4e54-ae75-6ec592a9b7c9TAMILY is an invaluable source of connection with inspiring women. I spend weekends with them. We exercise together. We cook together. We have beauty spa days together. We FaceTime each other.  We reach out to each other for support if we need to. TAMsisters are always there for me, no matter the time of the day. I can call Erin @mini2283 at any time for advice and comfort.  She is someone that has been always available and provided me with advice I have yet to turn down. My friendship with her has blossomed beyond my wildest expectations. I look forward to all of my TAMsisters posts because of their genuineness, inspiration, and motivation. TAMsisters share struggles, failures, confidence, and successes and in seeing these, I feel that I am not alone on my TAMILY journey. It is brave to share experiences on such a public forum and in such a raw manner; the bravery of TAMILY members inspires me to be my most authentic self because I know the community of TAMILY women will love and accept me in my purest form. Not everyone understands the wonders of the TAmethod. That’s why the relationships I have with TAMILY members are so important. They understand what I am going through in my roles as a career woman, a mother, a grieving daughter, a woman focused on being healthy; in turn, I understand who they are and where they are coming from. As a result, we’ve become part of each others journey to healthier lives.

2351f61d-8416-4edb-a9ee-2921a88335b5ONE OF THE COOL THINGS I LOVE ABOUT THE #TAMILY IS HOW IT CONNECTS WOMEN ALL OVER THE WORLD. HOW ARE YOU INSPIRED BY OTHER WOMEN? WHO IN THE #TAMILY INSPIRES YOU? HOW DO YOU CONNECT WITH OTHER WOMEN IN THE #TAMILY BOTH ON INSTAGRAM AND IN REAL LIFE?
4aeae3b3-463d-4e54-ae75-6ec592a9b7c9 This is not a fair question. There isn’t enough words and space in this Tam Tale to mention everyone.  The truth is, I am inspired by absolutely all of my girls on Instagram.  I know some TAMsisters a bit more than others.  Here is just some, out of hundreds, that make my soul shine brighter each day. @mini2283 Erin, inspires me with her loyalty, dedication, and motivation. She always supports me in every workout and every Insragram post. She teaches me consistency and determination.   @Lorettasfitnesslife Loretta, wakes the inner pop star in me and gives me hope that I too can dance! @Emery5  Emery, sparked a desire in me to become a health conscious cook, and to step out of my comfort zone and experiment in the kitchen. @Ek4tam Elise,  thought me that there is no excuse not to work out. She is such a great mother to her boy and that alone is enough for me to adore her. @Lochness28 Vanessa, provides me with daily reassurance that I am special, especially in moments when I need it the most.  It must come naturally to her since she is a nurse at heart. @Belove.behappy.bfit Molli teaches me how to write from my heart a bit more often as well as be more poetic. I just love that so much.

2351f61d-8416-4edb-a9ee-2921a88335b5LIKE MOST WOMEN I KNOW, YOU ARE BUSY! WHAT TIPS DO YOU HAVE FOR FITTING WORKOUTS INTO A HECTIC LIFESTYLE?
4aeae3b3-463d-4e54-ae75-6ec592a9b7c9 Do it whenever you can. I do not have a set time or routine for TArealtime. I usually jump into a workout whenever I see an opening in my day and this could be between laundry cycles, before I make breakfast for my sons or at the end of a long day at work. I simply just get it done. I need it.  I want it. I deserve it.

2351f61d-8416-4edb-a9ee-2921a88335b5ONE THING THE #TAMILY HAS IS STYLE. WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE OUTFIT TO EXERCISE IN?
4aeae3b3-463d-4e54-ae75-6ec592a9b7c9I believe that what you wear has a powerful effect on your mood. I dress up for my workouts because it prepares me for an energetic and colorful TAM session. Also, I am a strong believer in rewarding myself and my hard work by dressing well. My reward almost always consists of a good pair of leggings. Because of that, some TAMILY women have referred to me as “the legging queen.”

Many of my TAMsisters @Ggjtam Gwen, @Andi4tam Andi, @Erinsfield Erin, @Latam34 Jullian, @Tiffaney_ann  Tiffaney jumped on my legging bandwagon with me, which makes my legging obsession even more special. A good pair of leggings just does the body good. I am a fan of @Candidamariaus ,  @Liquidoactive leggings not to mention a great pair of leggings  from TJMaxx. Even when I’m drained from a long day of serving others, my leggings that feel like baby’s skin and conform to the curves of my lower body, remind me that I deserve to dedicate an hour for my own health, body and mind.

2351f61d-8416-4edb-a9ee-2921a88335b5WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE TA MOMENT?
4aeae3b3-463d-4e54-ae75-6ec592a9b7c9 The first thing that comes to mind was meeting one of the TAMILY members, @MelissaRigdon Melissa She had flown into NYC for the vitality week. We had never met in person but we spoke on the phone a number of times. When we saw each other, we ran across a busy NYC street into each other’s arms, as if we’ve been friends our entire life. Things have never been the same, our friendship will last a lifetime.  I’ve had moments just as wonderful with TAMsisters in NYC on another occasion. It was then that I met many of them in person. They came from all over the globe and I had the honor of spending time with   @gilliancory @ Monica_duarte_tam @Shanmasters @catynasr  @shaina4tam  @wisperingwilll  @JSherman811 @Jdoak15 @nadineandrea13 @silvercontinent @morgenschick @Emm4tam, @Clinsay @ Kathryn_mpls and many more special ladies. That was one of the most magical weekends ever.

2351f61d-8416-4edb-a9ee-2921a88335b5IT’S ALL ABOUT BALANCE. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE PRE-WORKOUT MEAL? FAVORITE INDULGENCE?
4aeae3b3-463d-4e54-ae75-6ec592a9b7c9Tracy’s Restart Vanilla Shake is my favorite meal pre and post working out. Along with my leggings, it boosts my energy at the start of any workout or replenishes my energy after I’ve devoted my all to a session. Favorite indulgence: Nutella. Enough said 🙂

2351f61d-8416-4edb-a9ee-2921a88335b5HOW ELSE DO YOU FIND BALANCE IN YOUR DAILY LIFE?
4aeae3b3-463d-4e54-ae75-6ec592a9b7c9I love going on early morning walks while the streets are still empty and I can hear birds chirping.  It’s when I am at peace with my soul.  I get to reflect on my life and my goals.  The crispness of the air helps me clear my head and focus on what is really important- my family and my health. It is during these little moments that I remember how grateful I am for my amazing partner, my sweet sons, and of course, the TAMILY.
In the evenings, I enjoy spending quiet time with my sons. We lay on their bed together and talk about anything that comes to mind like scooters, soccer, video games, yesterday’s math homework. Our little chat sessions fill my heart with so much content and often end in a peaceful and restful night of sleep.

2351f61d-8416-4edb-a9ee-2921a88335b5ALL RIGHT, HERE’S A FREE PASS TO BRAG: IN ADDITION TO THE SUCCESS OF STICKING WITH IT, WHAT PROGRESS HAVE YOU MADE SINCE YOU STARTED #TAREALTIME AND BECAME PART OF THE #TAMILY, BOTH PHYSICALLY AND MENTALLY?
4aeae3b3-463d-4e54-ae75-6ec592a9b7c9I feel more confident, accomplished, and sexy. For the first time in my adult life, I love the shape of my body. Partly because of the hard work I put into it and partly because of the self-acceptance TAMILY has helped me to achieve. I’ve tried it all. I’ve attempted going to the gym, practicing yoga, Pilates, running long distance, and cycling. Although all of these activities kept me in great shape, I feel the most attractive and feminine when I complete TArealtime. One tiny aspect of the program that is so great is Tracy’s taste in music. It energizes and motivates me to give 100% of myself throughout the entire streaming session. More importantly, no other exercise program feeds my soul the way that the TA method does. No other exercise program promotes the peace I’ve experienced in my heart with the help of TAMILY members.

2351f61d-8416-4edb-a9ee-2921a88335b5WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT YOUR BODY?
4aeae3b3-463d-4e54-ae75-6ec592a9b7c9I love my collarbone. To me it’s one of the most feminine aspects of my body. Also, I love the way my mothers’ old necklaces lays on it.

2351f61d-8416-4edb-a9ee-2921a88335b5WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT YOUR INTERNAL SELF?
4aeae3b3-463d-4e54-ae75-6ec592a9b7c9I appreciate my desire to care for others. I’ve always had an instinct to express care and love to those around me. I think this characteristic is evident in my career, and my family life, including the love I provide to my partner my children and the love I had for my late mother. Something I was never very good at was caring for myself by promoting self-love and paying attention to my own needs. Through the TAmethod, I have been able to acknowledge the importance of devoting one hour a day to myself, one hour in which I can promote my own health and wellbeing. I have realized that if I am not my best self for me, then I am not my best self for the people I love. TAMILY has allowed to me to provide support to others while at the same time, teaching me to love and care for myself for a change. This is a lesson for which I am forever grateful.


2351f61d-8416-4edb-a9ee-2921a88335b5WHAT MESSAGE DO YOU HAVE FOR WOMEN WHO ARE STRUGGLING WITH THEIR HEALTH AND BODY IMAGE?

4aeae3b3-463d-4e54-ae75-6ec592a9b7c9I want women to know that you are not alone in the struggle of health and body image. Sometimes we do not feel like we are enough but it is important to recognize that this body is yours and it’s beautiful, before the work out and after. This body is all that you have, and you have no choice but to nourish it. But you can do better than this. You can find a meaningful connection with your body by appreciating every strong muscle, every working fiber, and every beautiful curve that helps you to stand tall. Take care of your body. In return, your body will take care of you.

ALL PHOTOS PROVIDED BY AGATA. FOLLOW HER ON INSTAGRAM @AGIKONWALIA

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“LIVE WELL, LAUGH OFTEN, LOVE MUCH and DONATE LIFE”
Please register to become an organ donor, give someone the gift of life.

MY FAVORITE SALAD
INGREDIENTS:
2 cups of mixed greens (lettuce, arugula, spinach)
Avocado
Tomato
Seedless cucumber
Red onion
2 tbsp cottage cheese
Sea Salt
Fresh ground pepper
DIRECTIONS:
On a plate of mixed greens, place diced cucumber, diced tomato, chopped red onion followed by sliced avocado and cottage cheese. Sprinkle with some sea salt and ground pepper. Enjoy!

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FAVORITE CURRENT QUOTE:

“YOU’VE GOT TO LEARN TO LEAVE THE TABLE WHEN LOVE IS NO LONGER BEING SERVED”
– NINA SIMONE

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FAVORITE ALL-TIME QUOTE:

“I’VE LEARNED THAT PEOPLE WILL FORGET WHAT YOU SAID, PEOPLE WILL FORGET WHAT YOU DID, BUT PEOPLE WILL NEVER FORGET HOW YOU MADE THEM FEEL.”
– MAYA ANGELOU

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ALL-TIME FAVORITE BOOK:
The Thorn Birds by Coleen McCullough

ALL-TIME FAVORITE MOVIE:

Great Expectations  

 

ALL-TIME FAVORITE MOVIE:
Gladiator; I named my sons after the characters from this movie: Maximus and Lucius.

 

ADVICE AGATA WOULD PASS ONTO YOUNG WOMEN THAT SHE WISH SHE HAD KNOWN EARLIER ON IN LIFE:
Love yourself now. There is no point in wasting time hating your body. Don’t be too hard on yourself.  Live your life without focusing on the judgment of others, or worse, your own self-criticism. You only have one shot at this. That doesn’t mean you have to be perfect.  In fact, it’s the imperfections in you that make you so special. The greatest lessons in life will be born out of your mistakes. Try to be kind to yourself when falling short of your goals. Mistakes, failures, struggles- that’s how we learn so make them part of your journey.  Oh, and please wear sunscreen.

TAMILY TALES: Issue No. 11

By | #TAMILY TALES, Blog, Import

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TAMILY-Issue9

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We all make mistakes. It’s how we face those mistakes that matters. How we evolve from them, learn from them, and improve because of them. How we become aware of how making that mistake felt and then become allergic to that feeling. How we build the strength we need in order to become the cheerLEADER that we are capable of being, for both ourselves and for others, so that we can jump head-on into our purpose and succeed.

As Garth Brooks put it:

“LIFE IS NOT TRIED, IT IS MERELY SURVIVED,
IF YOU’RE STANDING OUTSIDE THE FIRE.”

To move forward, we must jump fully into that fire of life—and make sure we are jumping in in a consistent way. That means not making and breaking how you show up. It means not having that lack of awareness we can all have when we are having fun, but at others expense.

This week’s TAMily Tale has the glowing presence of an angel! To me, it appears as if Nadine (@nadineandrea13) came into this world all-loving and all-knowing. She is a true cheerLEADER and it makes me so proud that she not only shows up for her workouts with us, but is the most incredibly articulate and enthusiastic supporter!

All of my love,

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TAMILY-Issue9-nadineI am a typical Jersey Girl who had big hair in the 80’s and who loves all things Springsteen!  I was never the type to work out and I was lucky enough not to have to in order to stay thin.  My exercise of choice was running after my kids when they were little.  But then – BAM!!! My forties hit and within a three year span I faced both my parents passing away, terrible marital problems, and the realization that my kids were getting older and didn’t need (or want) as much hands-on time as they’d used to.  Low self-esteem, self-doubt and depression followed along with a 15 pound weight loss. It was an incredibly sad time. As my mourning subsided and my marriage improved, the 15 pounds returned but in different areas in which they’d left. I had always hated my butt, but now I had other areas to hate as well, such as my stomach and hips.  My self-esteem was very low and I just didn’t feel very good about myself.  I would look in the mirror and not like or even recognize who I was anymore.

I’m glad I had the thought that exercise might help.  I began waking up early every morning and doing workout tapes. After three months the commitment was there, but the changes in my body were not.  Luckily, it was right around this time that a fashion magazine arrived in the mail with Gwyneth Paltrow on the cover.  I don’t remember what movie Gwyneth was promoting at the time but she talked about her Tracy Anderson workout in the article.  I remember reading how she worked “damn hard” doing the Tracy Anderson Method and that she was in the best shape of her life. Something inside me clicked and I knew I wanted to try The Method.  My mom had always said “timing is everything” and she was right.  The magazine, and that article with Gwyneth arrived in my life exactly when I needed it to and it literally changed my life.

2351f61d-8416-4edb-a9ee-2921a88335b5 SOME #TAMILY MEMBERS WORKOUT IN THEIR LIVING ROOMS IN IOWA, OTHERS ON THEIR BALCONIES IN ITALY. WHEN AND WHERE DID YOU START #TAREALTIME?

I do my work out in a part of my basement I refer to as the Tamcave. I like to exercise early in the morning when the rest of the family is asleep.  I can be a procrastinator so it’s best for me to get it done and then go on with the rest of my day.

I was late to the streaming party!  I began doing the 30 Day Method in January 2014.  From there it was The Mat DVD, Perfect Design 1, 2, & 3 and Precision Toning before beginning Meta Glutecentric. I saw drastic changes in my body after three months of beginning The Method.  Any sign of muffin top was completely gone and my butt was tighter.  I was starting to feel good about myself again!

When Tracy launched the #TAREALTIME contest on Instagram, I was just beginning Month 7 of Continuity Glute and I didn’t feel I was ready for anything that Tracy had titled Master Class. But I joined Instagram anyway and decided to post my workout along with the streamers for fun.  I was very self-conscious at first, in fact my first post wasn’t of me at all, it was of my dog lying on my yoga mat. Tracy liked and commented on my post though, and that was all the encouragement I needed.  I started to post my workouts and I was amazed at how much support I received from all the women in the TA Instagram Community.  It was incredible!!!  I loved checking in with the women every day and watching the leg moves they were doing for the streaming workout.  I was in awe of @emm4tam and @kathryn_mpls and their commitment to the program. I decided to finish Year 1 of Continuity before starting to stream and as more women doing Continuity began to stream, it got tougher and tougher to hold out but I really wanted to finish what I had started.  Finally, in July 2015 I began to stream and I have to say, it is better than I ever could have imagined.  There is more arm work than in Continuity and the playlists that Tracy uses every week are fabulous.  I normally Shazam the music each week and then keep a playlist of my favorites.
    WE ALL FACE CHALLENGES WHEN IT COMES TO BEING OUR HEALTHIEST SELVES—INSIDE AND OUT. WHAT HAS BEEN THE HARDEST PART OF YOUR JOURNEY?
The hardest part for me is eating healthy.  I have a sweet tooth and it’s so hard for me to pass up any kind of cookie or chocolate.  I usually have a hidden stash of dark chocolate in one of my kitchen cabinets and I find having one piece a day of that helps with the craving.  But not always!!!!
   HAS BEING PART OF THE COMMUNITY OF #TAMILY WOMEN HELPED YOU TO OVERCOME THIS? HOW SO?
The Tamily community has certainly helped me. First, in knowing that I’m not alone, many of us have our food struggles so it helps to receive encouragement from people that are going through the same thing.  But in addition to that, many of the women post the meals that they are cooking that day and they show the tricks you can do to make a meal that would normally be unhealthy into something that’s good for you.  I don’t think @emery5 has ever posted something that I would not like to eat and it’s always healthy!!
    ONE OF THE COOL THINGS I LOVE ABOUT THE #TAMILY IS HOW IT CONNECTS WOMEN ALL OVER THE WORLD. HOW ARE YOU INSPIRED BY OTHER WOMEN? WHO IN THE #TAMILY INSPIRES YOU? HOW DO YOU CONNECT WITH OTHER WOMEN IN THE #TAMILY BOTH ON INSTAGRAM AND IN REAL LIFE?
Every woman who is part of the Tamily inspires me.  All of us show up every day for ourselves and are committed to the Tracy Anderson Method, which truly is “damn hard” but so rewarding!  Our bond started as the workout, but has developed into something so much more.  We share stories about our families, we celebrate each other’s victories and offer encouragement when needed.  Beginners are welcomed with open arms and it’s a place for inspiration every day.

As someone who works out early, I love knowing that @ek4tam, @clinsay, @silvercontinent and @leitza612 are probably streaming too.  I love the words of wisdom that @emery 5, @shanmasters and @wisperingwillow have to offer and the joy that radiates from @gilliancory and @monica_duarte on a daily basis.  And then there are our true beauties like @lorettasfitnesslife, @lyminatam, @tiffany_ann and @mama_chahba who are so elegant in the way they move and perform dance cardio.  I would love to dance like any one of them!!

Besides connecting on Instagram, many of us communicate using WhatsApp and some of us even text or call one another.   I love waking up every morning and checking in with everyone like @jdoak15, @jsherman811 and @shaina4tam.  It’s amazing how Instagram has created such true friendships!

  LIKE MOST WOMEN I KNOW, YOU ARE BUSY! WHAT TIPS DO YOU HAVE FOR FITTING WORKOUTS INTO A HECTIC LIFESTYLE?

Honestly, you just have to make time for it and do it!  I like to workout at 5:30am because that way it is done and nothing that happens during the day can interfere with it.  It took me a few months to get accustomed to it but now I love it.  No one else in my house is awake so it’s truly “me” time.  I also need to finish by 7:30 so I can drive my daughter to school which eliminates the ability to take breaks so I really have to push through the difficult moves.

  ONE THING THE #TAMILY HAS IS STYLE. WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE OUTFIT TO EXERCISE IN?
I’m not really picky about what I workout in as long as it’s comfortable and it matches, right down to my socks and sneakers!!  Sometimes I am not able to match my sneakers and it bothers me so much!!!  I always lay out my clothes the night before so I don’t have to think about it in the morning and for some reason which I don’t remember it became a habit for me to sleep with my hair tie around my wrist. I guess it’s like some kind of mental reminder that I will be streaming first thing in the morning!I normally buy whatever leggings are on sale and I recently bought a pair of Candida Maria leggings at the suggestion of @agikonwalia which I love.  I will need to buy some more!

  WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE TA MOMENT?
My favorite TA moment had to be the weekend in NYC that I spent with so many members of the Tamily.  The entire weekend felt like a dream and as if I was living my life inside my Instagram account!  I must have had a smile on my face the entire weekend; believe me when I say that all the girls were so kind and even more beautiful than they appear on Instagram; it was truly mind-boggling!!!  The first night a group of us went out for dinner and right at the end @agikonwalia and @melissarigdon walked into the restaurant and all of us just went wild!!!  Agi took us on a tour of the city that night and I just remember sitting in the car thinking this can’t be happening!  I must be dreaming!!  Later that night @catynasr and I stayed up past 2am talking as if we’d known each other for years!!

Meeting Tracy the next day was everything I’d dreamt it would be.  All of us were so excited in the locker room, just smiling and hugging each other, jumping up and down! And all the people that work at the Tribeca Studio were so nice and friendly to us.  When Tracy walked into the studio it was just really magical and emotional. Tracy is so genuine and so real and it’s obvious she cares about everyone who follows her Method.  She wanted to make sure she answered everyone’s questions and made us feel so special.  I have to say, I was pretty tongue-tied the whole time so I’m glad a lot of the other ladies had great questions to ask!  Tracy also knew many of us from our Instagram accounts which I think is pretty amazing!

That day I was able to work out between @shanmasters and @gippersmith with @gilliancory in front of me wearing her Minnie Mouse ears. The energy in the room was incredible!  I wish every lady who posts on Instagram could have been there that day and I highly recommend attending a Vitality Week if you can.  A HUGE thank you to @emery5, @morgenschick and Tracy Anderson for that weekend.  All of you have a very special place in my heart.

  IT’S ALL ABOUT BALANCE. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE PRE-WORKOUT MEAL? FAVORITE INDULGENCE?

I don’t have a pre-workout meal because I exercise so early in the morning.  I always have a large glass of water with me in my Tamcave and if I feel like it, I might have some tea also.

My favorite indulgence is crème brulee.  If it’s on the menu you can be sure I will be ordering it!

  HOW ELSE DO YOU FIND BALANCE IN YOUR DAILY LIFE?
I’m not exactly sure I do find balance!!  But taking the time for myself in the beginning of the day certainly helps.  It is my nature to put my family’s needs first; whether that means carpooling my daughter around at last minute’s notice, or making multiple grocery store runs during the day to make sure everyone has what they like to eat in the house.  It isn’t normal for me to say “Hey! This is what I need!”  I’m a work in progress on balance.
CAN YOU SHARE YOUR FAVORITE POST-WORKOUT RECIPE FOR THE REST OF THE #TAMILY TO ENJOY?
Post-workout is always a protein drink – either Tracy’s Wellness Formula Vanilla or Vega Sport Chocolate.  I mix them with water and a teaspoon of Great Lakes gelatin and drink it in the car as I drive my daughter to school.  Afterwards I have a cup of coffee with my husband, no sugar and a tiny drop of organic milk in it.
 ALL RIGHT, HERE’S A FREE PASS TO BRAG: IN ADDITION TO THE SUCCESS OF STICKING WITH IT, WHAT PROGRESS HAVE YOU MADE SINCE YOU STARTED #TAREALTIME AND BECAME PART OF THE #TAMILY, BOTH PHYSICALLY AND MENTALLY?
Although my outer self has certainly changed since TAREALTIME, I believe it’s my inner self that has changed the most.  My self-esteem has returned and I’m more positive about life in general.  Tracy often says “be your best YOU” and that has changed my thinking in so many ways. It’s such a simple statement but in today’s world it means so much.  Women need to stop comparing themselves to others and to be accepting of themselves.  It took me many years to get to this point but it certainly brings some peace of mind.  Tracy has gotten my body into amazing shape but I will never look like a 5’10” supermodel and THAT’S OKAY!
 WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT YOUR BODY? WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT YOUR INTERNAL SELF? 
I love how strong my body has become!  I never thought I’d be able to do 1 plank and now I can do more than 30!! My arms have been totally reshaped, I receive comments on them on Instagram a lot. And for the first time since I can remember, I no longer despise my rear.  Tracy’s Continuity and Streaming have raised it and made it smaller, thank you Tracy!!!  Her method is just absolute genius and I will never doubt anything she has us do because it works.  I love that my internal self has become more accepting of the things that make me an individual; it’s a lot easier living life when you’re happy with yourself!  There is no such thing as perfection and there’s a certain peace that comes with realizing that.  The Tamily has helped a lot with that as well because we are accepting of each other all the time.
WHAT MESSAGE DO YOU HAVE FOR WOMEN WHO ARE STRUGGLING WITH THEIR HEALTH AND BODY IMAGE?
  If you’re struggling with health and body image, realize you aren’t alone.  Many people struggle.  If you are willing to commit and do the work, change is possible.  It’s a journey though and won’t happen overnight.  Be patient with yourself, but also be disciplined.  Don’t make excuses for yourself, instead show up for yourself and you will see results.  Join Instagram and follow the Tamily for inspiration and encouragement.  And lastly, make sure you are changing for yourself, not because someone like a spouse or parent wants you to.  Unless you are truly doing it for you, the change won’t stick.
ALL PHOTOS PROVIDED BY MONICA. FOLLOW HER ON INSTAGRAM @NADINEANDREA13

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QUICK FETTUCINE CACCIATORE
This is my son’s favorite meal so I always make it when he’s home from college.

INGREDIENTS:
8 oz fettucine, any type
2 tsp olive oil
1 lb. boneless skinless chicken breasts, chopped
1 cup each sliced green peppers and sliced mushrooms
1 can diced tomatoes, undrained
¼ cup Italian dressing
½ cup chopped fresh basil leaves

DIRECTIONS:
Cook pasta as directed on package.  Meanwhile, heat oil in large skillet on medium-high heat.  Add chicken; cook and stir until no longer pink. Add peppers and mushrooms; cook 3 minutes.

Stir in tomatoes with their liquid and the dressing.  Reduce heat to medium-low; simmer 5 minutes or until chicken is cooked through.

Toss pasta with chicken mixture and sprinkle with basil.

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FLUSH THE FAT AWAY VEGETABLE SOUP

INGREDIENTS:
1 medium sweet potato, peeled and cut into 1” cubes
1 medium zucchini sliced into 1” round pieces
3 carrots, peeled and sliced
1 stalk celery, diced
1 small onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
Kosher or sea salt to taste
½ tsp black pepper
1/8 tsp allspice
1 tsp paprika
1 bay leaf
2 can black beans, rinsed and drained
2 cups vegetable broth, low-sodium
1 can diced tomatoes, no salt added
4 cups baby spinach, loosely packed

DIRECTIONS:
Add all ingredients, except spinach, to the slow cooker.  Cover and cook on low 6-8 hours (or on high 3-4 hours) or until the vegetables are tender.  Add spinach, stir and continue cooking until wilted, about 5 minutes.

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FAVORITE CURRENT QUOTE:

“THE ONLY PERSON YOU ARE DESTINED TO BECOME IS THE PERSON YOU DECIDE TO BE.”
-RALPH WALDO EMERSON

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FAVORITE ALL-TIME QUOTE:

“WHEN THINGS GO WRONG, AS THEY SOMETIMES WILL
WHEN THE ROAD YOU’RE TRUDGING SEEMS ALL UPHILL,
WHEN THE FUNDS ARE LOW AND THE DEBTS ARE HIGH,
AND YOU WANT TO SMILE, BUT YOU HAVE TO SIGH,
WHEN CARE IS PRESSING YOU DOWN A BIT –
REST IF YOU MUST, BUT DON’T YOU QUIT.


SUCCESS IS FAILURE TURNED INSIDE OUT –
THE SILVER TINT OF THE CLOUDS OF DOUBT,
AND YOU NEVER CAN TELL HOW CLOSE YOU ARE,
IT MAY BE NEAR WHEN IT SEEMS AFAR;
SO STICK TO THE FIGHT WHEN YOU’RE HARDEST HIT –
IT’S WHEN THINGS SEEM WORST THAT YOU MUSTN’T QUIT.”

-AUTHOR UNKNOWN BUT MY MOM ALWAYS HAD THIS HANGING ON HER REFRIGERATOR.

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CURRENT FAVORITE BOOK:
The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

ALL-TIME FAVORITE BOOK:
Angel Wisdom: 365 Meditations and Insights from the Heavens by Terry Lynn Taylor and Mary Beth Crain (this is always on my nightstand)

CURRENT FAVORITE MOVIE:

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2 (seen as a Mother/Daughter Date Night)

 

ALL-TIME FAVORITE MOVIES:
It’s A Wonderful Life

 

ADVICE NADINE WOULD PASS ONTO YOUNG WOMEN THAT SHE WISH SHE HAD KNOWN EARLIER ON IN LIFE:
Time moves fast so don’t waste it being unhappy.  Find what you love to do and do it!  Be kind to yourself, accept yourself.  Take care of your body, it’s the only one you have!  Avoid junk food as much as you can.  And show your smile to the world!!!

TAMILY TALES: Issue No. 10

By | #TAMILY TALES, Blog, Import

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  “Make new friends but keep the old, one is silver and the other gold.” 

When my Mom was my Girl Scout troop leader, we chanted this at every meeting. Although I’m admittedly chanting less these days, I felt blessed and appreciative of my friendships as a young Girl Scout and I still do today. Research continues to support the fact that true, real friendships benefit our health. Along my focused journey of developing my method, I have been blessed to make some of my best friendships and sisterhoods, but I have also met some people who embody the true definition of “fairweather friends,” or opportunistic faces. Being left with the feeling of being used or under appreciated is just as toxic to our health as the bright light of a true friend is beneficial, providing nourishment for our bodies and souls. None of us are without imperfections, but to be without self-awareness or to easily justify our own poor behavior by blaming others is not to be a friend. I think it feels really good to own up to the mistakes we all make, which allow us to grow and learn to be nourishing to others, enabling them to also move forward instead of being stagnant in their own development.

When I meet women who are really, honestly for other women, it is like the brightest of all light. In the midst of something that appears too good to be true, it’s so easy to detect a saboteur who is trying to create a dysfunctional environment. If the good “girls’ girls” stay consistent and continue to evolve their own standards, then we can pick up and encourage those of us who have the most roadblocks. There is very strong research on how we are affected by what happens to us when we are little creatures still developing, and how we in turn either know or don’t know how to really be a part of something good, whole, and consistently valuable. Depending on the circumstances they had to live through, different children develop different coping mechanisms as they become adults. Much of what we have to overcome in this life is so that we can be our adult parent selves, a “grown-up” who is present, forgiving, and loving enough to allow for healing and growth to happen later in life. There are a few remarkable adults I know who were given the worst environments to develop in, yet somehow were able to shield their souls from the darkness and let the light of theirs shine brighter and stronger than any negative influence ever could.

I fully admit, I’ve spent many years not wanting to give up on certain people; it is an inherent part of who I am to believe in everyone. I am the eternal optimist, believing, perhaps naively, that people can improve, and I do still believe that on some level, but what I also believe in now more than ever is that those people who have the most roadblocks to achieving complete health and happiness need to feel safe. They need to feel a light that is so much brighter than the darkest of any of the dark places they have been to in their past or that their mind can go to. To me, that means a community of light. As I’ve learned from the Girl Scouts, from research, and from my own experience, people do need people. Friendships are vital to improving health, life expectancy, morality, and in the constant fight against stress.

This week, I am interviewing Monica Duarte, the brightest little gem of a light any petite woman could ever hope to be. She is for everyone. She is not reserved, keeping her joy all to herself, rather, she just gives and gives and gives some more. Her smile is contagious and her peppy, positive position on everything is incredibly refreshing. I know I can say with certainty, you all have a real friend in Monica.

All of my love,

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I was born in Lisbon and grew up in a small  fishing town, until I was 12 years old, when I moved with parents to Holland. It was a hard time for me, but a great experience that taught me so much about working for what I want! Of course, I had to work for it, even so young! It took me too long to learn the language, I worked so hard. I grew up between a mixture of cultures. I had a hard time finding friends, fitting in, the language was a problem but once I learned it, I lived the Holland life and I completely fit in! By the age of 18,  I came back to Portugal with my parents! It was a bittersweet time, I was a teenager feeling torn between  Holland and Portugal. “I wasn’t the beach and I also wasn’t the snow”! I had a hard time finding myself, I felt like I didn’t belong here, but I ended fitting in the Portuguese lifestyle again! Fish, beach, fun and sun.

Growing up I studied sports. I became a fitness instructor teaching  for 5 years, and I was so passionate about it! I loved it with all my heart but I felt like I needed to learn more, so I went to university for sports and rehab.

Today I work in an institution for adults with special needs. I do the sports classes , the acting classes, the aqua fitness classes, the dance classes, and the swimming lessons. Believe me, the method is so present in what I do, by how I show up for my special ones, by how I inspire and encourage them to move better, to dance more graciously, to excersize, to express themselves through  movement… The method is in me and deep deep in my heart I wish I could be a TA trainer… In my heart I am,  and by doing what I do at my job, I always play a bit of the method with my special ones.

I am a lucky happy girl living with the most kind guy, my  dear @antonio_serrao and with my darling, dog Safi #tampup.

   SOME #TAMILY MEMBERS WORKOUT IN THEIR LIVING ROOMS IN IOWA, OTHERS ON THEIR BALCONIES IN ITALY. WHEN AND WHERE DID YOU START #TAREALTIME?

I started in April 2012, in my garage with the Mat DVD for one month, and I got great results. My transformation had begun and I was amazed by what I saw! After that I started metamorphosis… I was in love with it , I followed Tracy’s rules and the results kept coming… I did continuity years one, two and three.

Year one was amazing. I was fully committed always! By that time I got Tracy’s book and I started to change my diet.
By year two I had already eliminated processed foods and all the GMO products. So with proper diet and the method my body was responding like never before. I had lost a lot of weight. I loved year two, the chair and the hoop did me so good. By this time I was feeling the method with my heart and all the moves came from my inside…. I was doing the method with so much love! I still do every day.
During year two I built my mini TAM studio in my garage! It is like my temple! The only thing missing is the cardio fly super G floor!
Year three was more challenging with the band.  When I was at the first trimester of year three, streaming was launched and all I wanted was to start streaming. I was aspiring to it!
In January 2015 I finally started streaming and it is the cherry on top of the cake. It is so real, so raw, so good and so strategic. The energy is so vibrant, the music is amazing. Every Wednesday is Christmas Day! And this keeps getting better and better! Since I started streaming, every single day  I imagine myself at the studio near Tracy!!! And I made it happen! And it will happen again.

But now I do the method anywhere, anytime… Rome, Paris, Barcelona, NYC, Monaco… On A cruise, in hotel rooms, in Antonio’s grandma’s room. One of the the coolest things that I adore about it, as long as you want, you can do it…
I feel deeply grateful for having access to this unique method, It’s so well designed. I have the tools to be the best version of me, in every way… Mentally… Physically…

    WE ALL FACE CHALLENGES WHEN IT COMES TO BEING OUR HEALTHIEST SELVES—INSIDE AND OUT. WHAT HAS BEEN THE HARDEST PART OF YOUR JOURNEY?
NOW! Now! Now! I am coming from a raw vegan diet for 2 years and now I am trying to  adjust my diet a little and to listen to my body’s needs.
I got @wisperingwillow, @angiediher, @saraham4tam and @emerychapman helping me on that! It is not easy but I am closer and closer… Sometimes it just takes a few steps back to move forward… But I am closer to my comfort zone…
    HAS BEING PART OF THE COMMUNITY OF #TAMILY WOMEN HELPED YOU TO OVERCOME THIS? HOW SO?

Oh boy! Where should I start?  Because there is so much to say! This beautiful group of sensational woman from all  over the world, just makes my day, every day! I have never found so much support and love from women. #tamily is love, light, encouragement, guidance! Women supporting each other is the most powerful thing in the world! It should always be this way! I don’t get that often! And now that I have it, I find myself the luckiest girl in the world because #tamily is power on, and I am a part of it ! Lucky me! I am so honored to be a part of this! There is nothing more empowering than women supporting each other!


I have so much love in my heart for these women, so much respect and admiration! They are my inspirtaion! God bless them all! Muahhh!

    ONE OF THE COOL THINGS I LOVE ABOUT THE #TAMILY IS HOW IT CONNECTS WOMEN ALL OVER THE WORLD. HOW ARE YOU INSPIRED BY OTHER WOMEN? WHO IN THE #TAMILY INSPIRES YOU? HOW DO YOU CONNECT WITH OTHER WOMEN IN THE #TAMILY BOTH ON INSTAGRAM AND IN REAL LIFE?

Every single member of #tamily inspires me: @ek4tam works out at 5:00 am, and she inspires me to get it done on those busy busy days… @melissagdon just look at her before and after picture! @gilliancory brings all the good energy and vibrancy to my heart. @wisperingwillow always  lifts me up and reminds me to go easy on me. @emerychapman teaches me about finding inner peace. @morgenschick teaches me how to take good care of my skin. I can see @shanmasters ‘s eyes all the time!  Every time I go to #tarealtime I see beautiful women all connected, showing up for themselves, trying to be the best version of themselves, guided by the most powerful  inspiration, the one and only Miss Tracy Anderson! How about that for inspiration?

Besides IG, I connect with some girls by facetime, skype, phone, we talk on whatapp all the time, we leave voice messages there. Isn’t that awesome? We share so much! We help each other… We hold each others. We have each others’ back! We are always there for each other. At the end of the day, we know that there is a safe place to come, to be raw, to get it out, to cry and to laugh! Isn’t that a blessing?

  LIKE MOST WOMEN I KNOW, YOU ARE BUSY! WHAT TIPS DO YOU HAVE FOR FITTING WORKOUTS INTO A HECTIC LIFESTYLE?

Find your time, even if it is at 5 am like @ek4tam does… Streaming is the key and on #tarealtime you will find the perfect inspiration and support! Get organized. Plan your meals and your time. Make it happen! YOU are a big deal! You are totally worth!


  ONE THING THE #TAMILY HAS IS STYLE. WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE OUTFIT TO EXERCISE IN?
Well at first it depended on the theme of the week, and by that I chose the colours. But now I like to combine my outfit like if I was in the studio, which I actually am in my mind and in my heart.

  WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE TA MOMENT?

Oh my God I will never forget the past October when I was in NYC in my first Vitality weekend with some girls. I dreamed about this so much! I visualized it every day! The first moment was when I saw the first girls @nadineandrea, @ek4tam, @shanmasters, and @gippersmith I started to cry ϑ ϑ ϑ That was the dream happening and coming true! It was real and the girls I admired on #tarealtime were hugging me! We made it!  The second moment was going to the Tribeca studio, OMG it was so electric!!! When I got there I felt like I was in the heart of the method and I was finally breathing it! It wasn’t a dream! It was happening! A few times after this crazy moment I met some some trainers like the gorgeous @lashonna1020,  the beautiful @janelle1227! They were so nice and friendly!


And then, when I met the rest of the girls it was a hysterical moment! All of them were there! I was praying for that hottie girl that I was seeing every week near Tracy @claudiasaezfromm to be there, and to my surprise, she walked in! It was amazing! What a moment! But the best was yet to come, and when I saw Tracy I was so amazed by her shine! My heart was beating even faster! She was sparkling! She was  shinning! When she recognized me, I held her so tight! It was a dream come true that I wished for, for so long! Oh I hold that moment in my heart! I came home so happy, with my heart so full of joy, light and love!
Working out with Tracy, with my girls and with great trainers was an amazing moment in my life that I have to repeat ϑ soon!
I could not leave NYC without meeting the fanTAstic @evanleebreed. It was on my last day there and I came back to the studio on purpose to meet her and there she was, vibrant as always! What a beauty!

  IT’S ALL ABOUT BALANCE. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE PRE-WORKOUT MEAL? FAVORITE INDULGENCE?

My pre-workout meal is fruit. My favourite indulgence is dark chocolate, raw made by me! I eat it everyday, aie aie, aie!

  HOW ELSE DO YOU FIND BALANCE IN YOUR DAILY LIFE?
By sharing and giving love to everyone who surrounds me, specially my cutie Safi and my awesome husband @antonio_serrao who supports me endlessly
By eating some dates with almond butter
By doing absolutely nothing in stillness
By drinking my smoothies and green juices
By practicing reiki and meditation
By doing the method 6 days a week of course
By traveling
By coming to #tarealtime
By dreaming
and by making my dreams happen
CAN YOU SHARE YOUR FAVORITE POST-WORKOUT RECIPE FOR THE REST OF THE #TAMILY TO ENJOY?

Raw cold pressed green juice: 1 cucumber, 1/2 apple, ginger, 1 lemon.

 ALL RIGHT, HERE’S A FREE PASS TO BRAG: IN ADDITION TO THE SUCCESS OF STICKING WITH IT, WHAT PROGRESS HAVE YOU MADE SINCE YOU STARTED #TAREALTIME AND BECAME PART OF THE #TAMILY, BOTH PHYSICALLY AND MENTALLY?

I have progressed so much! My butt is higher, I am toned. I am leaner,  I am fit,  I love my abs! I feel great in my body! I am lighter. I am stronger today than I was yesterday. I am better today physically and mentally and tomorrow I will be great! All thanks to the method that has helped me so much to become a better person in so many ways! I truly love this unique approach to movement! The Tracy Anderson Method means more than a workout, it is a lifestyle, it is a way to be and I am where I want to be!

 WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT YOUR BODY? WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT YOUR INTERNAL SELF? 
Loving my body means taking good care of it, and that means clean eating, doing the things that I love, have some pleasure, brush my teeth, have a shower, practice quietness and silence, and doing the Tracy Anderson Method 6 days a week, simple as that!
Tracy rebuilt and reshaped me and I love how I look. But I am a work in progress… And Tracy keeps challenging me every week!
About my internal self I love my commitment, my honesty… I love my courage, and my strength.
 WHAT MESSAGE DO YOU HAVE FOR WOMEN WHO ARE STRUGGLING WITH THEIR HEALTH AND BODY IMAGE?
  Commit to yourself and show up for yourself. Be consistent! Love yourself! Eat clean! Be kind to yourself. Listen to your body! Use your own energy to find the focus you need to work on yourself! Practice the method daily! Take time to yourself! Practice inner silence. Connect with your inner! Accept yourself!
ALL PHOTOS PROVIDED BY MONICA. FOLLOW HER ON INSTAGRAM @MONICA_DUARTE and @MONICA_DUARTE_TAM.

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FAVORITE CURRENT QUOTE:

“EVERY ACTION IN OUR LIVES TOUCHES ON SOME CHORD THAT WILL VIBRATE IN ETERNITY”
– EDWIN HUBBEL CHAPIN, MINISTER

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FAVORITE ALL-TIME QUOTE:

“BE CAREFUL OF YOUR THOUGHTS,
FOR YOUR THOUGHTS BECOME YOUR WORDS.

BE CAREFUL OR YOUR WORDS,
FOR YOUR WORDS BECOME YOUR ACTIONS.

BE CAREFUL OR YOUR ACTIONS, FOR YOUR ACTIONS BECOME YOUR HABITS.

BE CAREFUL OR YOUR HABITS, FOR YOUR WORDS BECOME YOUR CHARACTER.

BE CAREFUL OR YOUR CHARACTER, FOR YOUR WORDS BECOME YOUR DESTINY.”

(CHINESE PROVERB)

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CURRENT FAVORITE MOVIE:
The Walk by Robert Zemeckis

ALL-TIME FAVORITE MOVIES:
Dirty Dancing

CURRENT FAVORITE BOOK:
Within by Dr. Habib Sadeghi

 

ALL-TIME FAVORITE BOOK:
Marley & Me by John Grogan

ADVICE MONICA WOULD PASS ONTO YOUNG WOMEN THAT SHE WISH SHE

HAD KNOWN EARLIER ON IN LIFE:
Take good care of your body, by that I mean exercise and eat clean!
Have self worth. Be true to yourself. Have a voice! You are your number 1!

TAMILY TALES: Issue No. 9

By | #TAMILY TALES, Blog, Import

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7ed9f5d0-65f6-4f53-b775-4199d0b2279fWhat does it mean to Love Yourself?? What does it mean to be happy? Is happiness found in labels, name-dropping, a body or house of a certain size? During my many years of striving to create balance in the body through research and content creation, I certainly haven’t been able to ignore the hundreds of biological functions in our bodies that can help us achieve happiness. They are closer to us than our back door; they are within us, living in a state of toxic immobility.

Just take the simple, known fact that we live in an age with keyless ignitions to warm up or cool down our cars, so the only time we are potentially “uncomfortable” is on the walk from the house to the car. I am all for the advancements in comfort, but not when the extent of that comfort causes us to desensitize to the point of not taking care of ourselves naturally. When we are feeling down low due to physical inactivity, going for a “natural high” is a phrase left over from the “safety kids” of the 80’s Just Say No to Drugs movement. We clearly didn’t appreciate that message fully. The profound fight for days “off” or getting “abs in 4 minutes” is a fight for physical inactivity. There is a general lack of responsiveness to the notion of wanting to really run our systems and reap all of the benefits.

Our bodies release endorphins and enkephalins under stress. We reach euphoria under stress, too. It is vital that we put the body through certain daily, healthy challenges, like a check that all systems are a go. The unknown in life throws us enough challenges. The last thing any of us need is to create self-destructing vices for ourselves as a means of emotional rescue. We have the ability to evolve the human brain. If we find our process—and I incorporate checking as many of the systems in us as possible into our workouts—it allows us to feel. We need to welcome our emotions and allow them to come up inside of us, so that we can recognize them, organize them, and talk through them with ourselves. Many of our emotions aren’t clean; they are superficial branches that need to be trimmed and regrown sturdier, like our trunk.

This New Year’s season, there is no room for shallow resolutions. There isn’t a need for emotional rescue. Own your process in order to be the best you. Let it all come up: worry, hurt, fear, anger, excitement, giddiness, anxiety, embarrassment, boredom, disappointment, and delight. We need each other, to celebrate with when we want to celebrate and to understand us when we are being misunderstood, to lift us when we are down, to hold us, protect us, and give us strength when we are sad, to give us wisdom when we are worried and comfort when we are in pain.

The human body and the human brain have the ability to change. This week, as we celebrate the Holidays in whatever ways we celebrate and approach a new year, I have chosen to interview Gillian Cory. Her Instagram tagline, “I eat therefore I TAM,” has little to do with me, but everything to do with her intelligence, wisdom, and insistence on connecting to and showing up for herself. She is happiness personified. She is brave. She is authentic. She is quite honestly one of the most brilliant individuals I have come to know and there is so much more I look so forward to learning about her. I am adding a list of my favorite Ralph Waldo Emerson quotes to lead into her interview. After you read her interview, I highly recommend you buy whatever headgear represents your #currentmood, because that is one smart way of wearing your feelings, which we all should not only wear with pride, but truly own.

When I am running daily safety checks, with everything from your analgesic systems to your thermoregulation, respiration, and cardiovascular functions, just think about all of that health and happiness over “bikini ready in 10 days!” That way, Gillian and I won’t pull our hair out over the future of women being controlled by vanity and ego over heart and happiness. Our alignment matters; you can’t be an organic farmer who smokes, a loving parent that freaks over wire hangers, or fit off a juice cleanse and no emotions. Gillian’s posts are all aligned and her body is consistently responding to all she does to set her standards high, happy, and consistent. You can’t have real relationships with inconsistent people, and you can’t have control over your body when you let an air-brushed image in a magazine be your motivational guide to beauty.

“Our faith comes in moments, our vice habitual.”
“The only way to have a friend is to be one.”
“Genius always finds itself a century too early.”
“It is not the length of life, but the depth.”
“To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.”
“The first wealth is health.”
“To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived.  This is to have succeeded.”
– Ralph Waldo Emerson

All of my love,

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I am swooping into 2016 with a whole lot of joy dancing gaily in my heart. Not because I can fit into age 13-14 jeans, which means for the first time since junior school I do not have to hem them (for the record, I am just shy of 5ft) but because I am able to express my physical being in the most positive way possible throughout the year thanks to the unique Tracy Anderson Method.
Yes, that is quite a mouthful but I have a lot to say …cue emoji wink …

With no height to hide flaws and being blessed with my late father’s sturdier not-so-genetically-blessed-frame, my life before TAM was a continual struggle between the person I am internally (6ft in spirit) and how people perceived me physically. Picture this: A boy holding a pillow between you and him while dancing under duress because he found you so physically unattractive. Without honing too much on the negative, that was one of my coming-of-age ‘highlights’.

What that boy did not know, and could not have understood, was that my physical appearance echoed a whole lot of emotional pain born from a traumatic childhood. And that little girl inside was crying out to be acknowledged and loved. To feel safe, truly cared for and worthy.
Well, fast forward to the present and cue the band with percussion and a whole lot of #tamhipshake because “If he could see me now …OH, BOY, if you could see me now.”

That little girl has finally emerged with bravado at the tender age of 47 because my daily TAM fills me to the brim with exuberance. It is my happy place. The place in which my confident inner teen has come to the fore showcasing bright eyes, forgiving old hurts, embracing new challenges, dashing toward joy. I have healed. The true Gillian is finally here.

And the best part is that I get to share my immense joy with Tracy and #taminternational #tamily each day on #tarealtime IG which erases so many borders and boundaries.

Tracy flows from a non-judgemental authentic heart and creative mind set which yields endless holistic movements to breathe new life and love into our bodies and beings. As she has done to mine. This philosophy and immensely positive physical expression has blossomed into one of the most exquisite communities ever.  One in which you are held tenderly and encouraged to fly … to shine bright … to #tamshine ….TAM being the tool with which to switch on your lightbulb … Nobody is excluded, everyone is special. The method bonds us all.

What a powerfully positive way to start 2016. To start every day for that matter.
My lightbulb is ON.

   SOME #TAMILY MEMBERS WORKOUT IN THEIR LIVING ROOMS IN IOWA, OTHERS ON THEIR BALCONIES IN ITALY. WHEN AND WHERE DID YOU START #TAREALTIME?

I work out in my bedroom in our country home situated in the beautiful Overberg region of the Western Cape, South Africa. However, when we get around to remodelling, I will TAM in my upstairs studio with those signature TA bouncy floors.

I started streaming in the beginning of February 2015. I initially wanted to finish Continuity 2.4 and was concerned about the rand/dollar exchange rate but I took the plunge regardless and have not looked back. What you get with #realtime TAM is Tracy’s most up-to-date methodology. This is such a dynamic ever-evolving body design tool that, to me, streaming is the ultimate expression of Tracy’s work. TAM turned technicolour when I started stream. So many flashbulb AHA moments went off, and still go off, each new week. They fuel the weekly themes and never cease to stop flashing.
Over and above the 9 kilograms lost, and maintained, from Meta to Continuity 2.4, I lost another 3 kilograms through stream. Plus, my skin tone, my arm muscle tone and overall tone has accelerated. It is a continual process. I never stop experiencing results. I feel like a real life animation whose creator sketches new lines constantly.  Disney on steroids, if you will. What do you put in your stream coffee Tracy?

    WE ALL FACE CHALLENGES WHEN IT COMES TO BEING OUR HEALTHIEST SELVES—INSIDE AND OUT. WHAT HAS BEEN THE HARDEST PART OF YOUR JOURNEY?
  Before TAM, my journey was a rocky road full of painful pebbles.  I seesawed between eating less and finding a physical expression which would yield the results I wanted.
I was there when Aerobics first hit South Africa in the 80’s. I was there when Pilates arrived on the scene. I ran races. I cycled a 210km road race. I practised Bikram Yoga … every other kind of yoga. The list is endless. But I was frustrated. My mind worked out the movement, got bored and told my muscles not to bother. Or just over worked the same muscle over and over and over again … along a long winding road to nowhere. During my Bikram 8 year stint, I was at my heaviest, body and heart.
I also cannot follow a strict diet. Been there. Got the T-shirt which screams” No, not another blooming apple!”  So, the internal seesaw dialogue was constant. No, Gill don’t eat that. Okay, eat it, but run further tomorrow. Next week, I am going to eat grated apples for 3 days to “detox”. Why can’t I still not fit into my jeans after I have cycled all weekend? (Go figure … bulk deluxe).
Fast track to Meta October 2012 and I have not looked back. I did not diet at all from the get-go. I even enjoyed the odd dessert. And I still do. My eyes shine bright.
If I may be perfectly honest. I have experienced no difficulty since stepping onto the TAM path. I knew from the beginning that this was the truth rather than a quick fix. I also knew, through experiencing previous workouts, why this approach would work. I started Meta with this mind-set and within the first 2 weeks my thighs had lost 2 inches. The magic had begun. In fact, with the latest Stream and Combo Cardio my metabolism now mimics my body designer … Disney on steroids …
However, I must say that I am not a fast food addict and where we live, fresh real food is available in abundance. So, we purchase fresh ingredients and Peter cooks from scratch. For those who are used to eating processed food which is so harmful to your body, Tracy’s Meta and 30 day plan is a brilliant way to re-calibrate your taste-buds.

    HAS BEING PART OF THE COMMUNITY OF #TAMILY WOMEN HELPED YOU TO OVERCOME THIS? HOW SO?

Where do I start !!! This exquisite community is my accountability. In the same way one feeds off a group class energy, I am able to virtually TAM with such sensational women the world over, sharing through #tarealtime IG.

#tamily, to me, is a beautiful collective energy and I love being a part of such a positive unit. Each lady brings something unique and precious to the whole. Visually I see #tamily as an endless field of bright lights, each with their own distinct design yet, together, illuminating the world so brightly that even those fighting wars stop to look. And perhaps in that pause, rethink competitive negative actions. I feel so worthy to be one of those lights.

Women are such powerful beings. We just need to be lit. And with TAM, we are.

In fact, each week, I see a #tamily member shine brighter and I am inspired. I have learnt so much. I have learnt to love others without fear again. I have the strength to be vulnerable because this community holds you so tenderly. I learn and understand myself as I see non-judgmental differences and commonalities in other #tarealtime #tamily posts. It is truly remarkable. To be and allow others to be, together weaving a far more interesting fabric. Only those living in the dark want everyone to be the same. I suppose it makes it easier for them to navigate the room.

When the lights go on, a different world emerges.

Some days I have so much love in my heart for #tamily, I want to burst. Gee, this world can be beautiful. It just needs to light up the every women rather than put celebrities on a pedestal. Everyone has a place in this world. Everyone has the right to blossom into their best being.

With TAM I am free to be who I am.

Overcoming anything is easy when you have this bright authentic energy in your life daily.

In fact, if you want your world to be a brighter place, just follow everyone on #tarealtime.

    ONE OF THE COOL THINGS I LOVE ABOUT THE #TAMILY IS HOW IT CONNECTS WOMEN ALL OVER THE WORLD. HOW ARE YOU INSPIRED BY OTHER WOMEN? WHO IN THE #TAMILY INSPIRES YOU? HOW DO YOU CONNECT WITH OTHER WOMEN IN THE #TAMILY BOTH ON INSTAGRAM AND IN REAL LIFE?
I talk to #taminternational #tamily daily through my IG posts. What you see is what you get. My posts are inspired by the physical expression and mind body connection of each movement, together with the music … but mostly by #tamily.
Most notable is the incredible group of women who I had the privilege to meet in person at the October Vitality Weekend in Tribeca, NYC. In one of my #tamshine posts during Week 48, I highlighted their unique qualities. Each and every one of these very special woman were exactly as I had got to know them through IG. I think that this flows from Tracy’s authentic approach. We, in turn, have a platform to be our authentic true beings without fear of rejection. And that is what I experienced in NY. Genuine beautifully lit women. I honestly love each and every one dearly.

I would like to make a special mention of Karen Malloy aka @wisperingwillow  who reminds me daily that it is okay to be vulnerable and access those beautiful melancholy parts of my being. Life is a balance and to truly enjoy it one must be able to express the full rainbow otherwise you are simply short skating on that thin ice patch called superficiality. Lately I have seen @maebella23 and @eat.move.live.repeat shine brighter with every post. My heart literally beats happiness with each view.
@leitza612 was the life and soul of the #tamilyxmasparty this year. Love her to bits.
And @skaren52, I so adore you. I loved giving a beer cheer to you during Irish Week. And your #ladydeathkick pink wig is now one of those Iconic TAM moments, in my mind.
Patrizia aka @penguin_in_nyc gifted me with a ball which I could use for continuity TAM. I placed the ball on the Southern Most Tip of Africa stone wall to gift her back a commemorative photo. Patrizia is a highly intelligent and compassionate scientist who originally stems from Italy and now works in New York City.
I had the pleasure of sharing 2 meals with her during my trip to New York this year. We met through the former community forum and clicked. I hold her in high esteem. A HUGE and loving THANK YOU to all the fanTAbulous  #tamily ladies such as @gracie_landmp,(my Elvis soulmate) @discodivaa (my disco soulmate), @slrosenkoeter, @g_spags, @angelp70 who write such supportive comments on my feed.
Gee whizz you ladies make me feel so special.  What a gift to be a part of your world.


Oh Gosh …and @sarahhamiltonearles Secret Santa initiative. Thank you Sarah for making the #taminternational Christmas so extra special.
And @mariakelling – I have never met you, but your smile lights up the world. And @staceybrowne, you are the most graceful butt slayer. @gabriellechow – I adore your joy.
And one day, @mama_chahba and I will TAM under the Eiffel Tower.
I may need another Tamily Tale because I could go on ….

  LIKE MOST WOMEN I KNOW, YOU ARE BUSY! WHAT TIPS DO YOU HAVE FOR FITTING WORKOUTS INTO A HECTIC LIFESTYLE?

I run my own company and I have a home office plus TAM is part of my day. It is the Ying to my work Yang. The balance is complete and the how flows from there. I don’t fit it in. It just is a natural part of my day whatever my day may deliver. Simple as that.
I do not adhere to a strict time schedule. That is the beauty of streaming. You can TAM when it suits you. I flow with my biorhythms, with what book I am reading at the moment, how acute my work deadlines are. There is no force fit. Just a natural flow. In fact my office has become a mini-TAM change room. I send briefs to my business partner programmer next to red Broadway hats, Reindeer Antennae and multiple leggings.
It is the perfect balance. No rules define the how and why.

  ONE THING THE #TAMILY HAS IS STYLE. WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE OUTFIT TO EXERCISE IN?

Well … let me see …   I have TAMm’ ed in everything from green wigs, a pink bikini in winter to complete British Punk Rock. Pretty much anything goes and it depends on the theme of the week.
And I will be quite honest in saying: I do love to put on a bit of a performance every now and then.  I think that may be my mother’s genes creeping through. She was a ballerina /dancer before she met my father and could perform the Can-Can far better than her responsible daughter would have liked. I suppose I have spent a large part of my life suppressing her gene. But, I now acknowledge and embrace it as a part of who I am. Despite it all Mum, I love you still.
For me, this is a big breakthrough.
Besides, Tracy said we should perform the moves.  And as @morgenschick knows, I do take requests quite literally.
When we started the colour theme weeks, I searched my wardrobe to find the chosen colour and was so surprised to find what was lurking inside. My old body had discarded so many treasures and my new body relished in fitting into old buys anew. It was such a fun exercise.
In South Africa, our homes are not temperature controlled, so our winter months are chilly. Well, okay not snow chilly and yes, we are rather spoilt that way. But everything is relative and I get cold rather quickly. So, the wigs actually serve a purpose. They keep my head warm during the winter months and add an extra spark to my TAM. I highly recommend it.
As long as I am comfortable and can move freely, the outfits follow my mood and the theme. Open Sesame I say!!!
  WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE TA MOMENT?
Wearing my Minnie headband in the first NYC Vitality Weekend class …. I honestly did not think that this class was going to be used for a stream. I wore them to celebrate the sisTAhood of #tamily and we had the t-shirts to match thanks to the very beautiful and gracious @shaina4tam.
If you do follow my IG feed, you may have seen my “We are Tamily” dance in those Minnie Mouse ears many moons ago. I support all the Minnie’s in Tamily. And those ears visually expressed that.
@melissagdon now owns the second pair and wore hers during ‘Candyman’ which we danced after the Master Class. We had actually wanted to perform ‘Candyman’ for Tracy. But being the creative genius that she is, Tracy spiced up the choreography and wow, that bouncy floor hit new notes. It was electric. Well, we also had @gippersmith and @monica-duarte in class, so you can imagine the energy.
  IT’S ALL ABOUT BALANCE. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE PRE-WORKOUT MEAL? FAVORITE INDULGENCE?
A block of dark chocolate and coffee.  Just being honest …. Okay, maybe two blocks …
Or a BIG plump juicy date … just eaten one now as I am about to stream ….
  HOW ELSE DO YOU FIND BALANCE IN YOUR DAILY LIFE?
Having experienced burn out, I now work smartly rather than long hours. There was a stage in my life when I would start at 6am and work until 12pm and repeat the next day. I thought I was invincible, but I am not. I cut back on my clientele and moved to the country.
Today, the birds sing while I work.
TAM also eases my overactive mind. As said, the creative ying to my analytical yang. Sleep is essential. I also focus on activities which give me the greatest joy.
I have also learnt to spend time with people who, as @morgenschick describes, “Give Bounce (back).”  #tamily gives huge doses of bounce. Bounce nourishes Balance.
You will find Peter and I driving through the beautiful countryside, watching a 3D animation or reading rather than being overly social.  Or just ‘dilly dalling’.  No, not that …. Just  ‘dilly dally’ you know, just be … take in the hydrangeas. Cat talk to Little One.  She talks a lot by the way.
CAN YOU SHARE YOUR FAVORITE POST-WORKOUT RECIPE FOR THE REST OF THE #TAMILY TO ENJOY?
2 scoops of Chocolate Malt Protein Shake blended with one large frozen banana and half a large cup of mineral water. I have got the quantities just right so that it creates a thick milkshake consistency. Heaven in a Glass. Absolute Heaven.
One of my signature sayings is “Cool Banana’s!!!” to give the thumbs up, so this nana nice-cream milkshake is quite apt.
Or, on those days my metabolism has started to sprint and carbs are the order of the day …
@emery5’s Blueberry Pancakes.
2 cups gluten free flour 1 tsp sea salt 1 tsp vanilla extract 3 tbs extra virgin olive oil 3 cups milk or dairy alternative such as hemp 3 eggs 2 cups fresh or frozen wild blueberries
Blend with a booty shake. My kind of cooking. I also highly recommend following Emery’s IG feed or find her on Periscope.
You can create the pancake mixture and then place it in containers to pour into a pan for breakfast, lunch or supper for that matter … you will want more … couple with a healthy dash of Maple Syrup, which I love thanks to Canada Week.  Oh, that week was so fab, I got to really befriend Canadian treasures such as @shanmasters and @catynasr during that week.
 ALL RIGHT, HERE’S A FREE PASS TO BRAG: IN ADDITION TO THE SUCCESS OF STICKING WITH IT, WHAT PROGRESS HAVE YOU MADE SINCE YOU STARTED #TAREALTIME AND BECAME PART OF THE #TAMILY, BOTH PHYSICALLY AND MENTALLY?
I have fallen head over heels in love with my legs for the first time in my life. You said this was a free pass, right?
Mentally, TAM has bought me Benjamin Button time tickets. I use them daily. Currently I am enjoying my latter teens.
Feels so good to be 18 all over again, but this time around armed with life experience.
I have a party in my home every day. What a better way to free the mind and soul of negative cobwebs which spin complexities throughout your being due to stress and life pressures, if not released.
Consider me fully released…
 WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT YOUR BODY? WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT YOUR INTERNAL SELF? 
As @melissagdon said when asked this question in her #tamilytale … everything.  Even my father’s ankles.
And that is big if you have sneaked a view of my transformation IG post. And I honestly have loved every part since I started to TAM. All Tracy had to do was give me a beat in one of her early webisodes and my body went, Oh Yeah!!!!! TAM has literally redesigned my body, No question.
And as Tracy said in her Meta intro, “French Fries are in your Future.” I am the living embodiment that this is true. I eat therefore I TAM. A marvellous freedom. Life is no longer defined by restriction and this flows into every other aspect of my psyche too.
My internal self literally dances everywhere now. My joy is limitless.
 WHAT MESSAGE DO YOU HAVE FOR WOMEN WHO ARE STRUGGLING WITH THEIR HEALTH AND BODY IMAGE?
  Commit and consistently practise TAM daily. And love your unique body.
See the method as an expression of your being. Find that connection in each movement.
Seek in your mind where Tracy has created the connection.  There is a beautiful dialogue communicated through music and movement between Tracy and you. Learn to listen through the tempo through every fibre of your being. Extend to your fingertips. Love those fingertips. Wiggle them.
Let the beat and the angles speak to your muscles. Focus on that and the rest will follow.
Get to know every inch of your body and send loads of love down every neural pathway And, most importantly, consider this:  Who told you that your body is not beautiful? Who? Just think about that. You are beautiful.  And I am amazed each day on how many unique qualities define beautiful through the daily #tarealtime  IG feed.
It is all about becoming the most balanced you. That special, unique you.
The external responds from the internal. Just ask that young girl dancing with a pillow and a boy.
ALL PHOTOS PROVIDED BY ELISE. FOLLOW HER ON INSTAGRAM @GILLIANCORY

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FAVORITE CURRENT QUOTES:

“THERE IS NOBODY BETTER THAN YOU AND YOU ARE NO BETTER THAN ANYONE ELSE.”
– TRACY ANDERSON, 2015 MAGAZINE INTERVIEW

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“A LIGHTBULB CANNOT ILLUMINATE A ROOM UNTIL IT IS SWITCHED ON.”
– ONE OF MINE INSPIRED BY #TAMSHINE WEEK 48

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CURRENT FAVORITE BOOK(S): There is a long list as I literally read from book to book. I have a strange habit of sticking to one author who I thoroughly enjoy for a while such as Edward Rutherfurd and Joanna Harris. I am currently reading Rutherfurd’s New York after completing Paris, London and Dublin. Paris is my favourite so far.
I honestly could not put Joanne Harris’s Chocolat down and was extremely pleased when the movie lived up to the novel.  Since then, I have read almost all her novels including Runelight and Five Quarters of the Orange. Oh, and I loved The Lollipop Shoes which is a sequel to Chocolat.

ADDITIONAL FAVORITES: Other books I have thoroughly enjoyed include:
The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt  – this book brought to my attention in  one of Tracy’s IG posts
The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern – such delicious fantasy in this novel
The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joy
The Signature of all Things by Elizabeth Gilbert
Oh, as a teenager I loved Bonfire of the Vanities by Tom Wolfe
I have the same eclectic thirst  for books as I have for music.

CURRENT FAVORITE MOVIE:
Most of the movies I love are about people coming together through the enjoyment of sharing taste bud delights. Not sure why, but here goes … Current favorite movie is The Hundred Foot Journey.

 

ALL-TIME FAVORITE MOVIES:
Chocolat and Babette’s Feast

 

ADVICE MELISSA WOULD PASS ONTO YOUNG WOMEN THAT SHE WISH SHE HAD KNOWN EARLIER ON IN LIFE:
Laugh as often as possible. And wear sunscreen.

TAMILY TALES: Issue No. 8

By | #TAMILY TALES, Blog, Import

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I never set out to be an “entrepreneur,” but when you focus on creating something of real substance and value, with a little luck and the right supporters, that foundation of value builds itself up. In business and in life, I consider relationships to be incredibly valuable and helping people to be of the utmost importance. We can find our own joy by watching other people smile and seeing our friends feel at ease when they breathe. We can find our own inner strength and self-love by encouraging those around us to feel life and connection when they look at themselves in the mirror and as they buzz through their days.

I admire companies that build positive environments in which people can work together for a greater purpose—but simply creating that environment isn’t all it takes. The real key is how each person values and respects the positive culture the company is trying to establish. How each member handles his or herself within a community really matters to the overall success and potential of any group. People who only look out for themselves, or who are unable to manage their personal moods or intentions, can really cause damage in far deeper ways than they might ever intend. It is so important that we all work to ensure we are making every person we work with, and those we serve, feel safe, valued, and at ease. Working together doesn’t mean there can’t be individual styles or differences of opinions. That diversity is what enables a colorful yet collaborative outcome to emerge from all the various layers that go into building anything.

In addition to the obvious benefits to your community, it is essential to your own well-being that everyone in your life knows they are solid, safe, and supported. I do not believe people are “disposable;” I do believe that if people feel safe and are able to be honest with themselves, to truly know their personal challenges and what they have or haven’t earned, then your “place” will feel honest and connected, too. I am a big believer in the life lines, “there are no small parts, only small actors,” and “you are better than no one and no one is better than you.” Every person’s part is vital. All the more reason why it is so important for people to feel safe.

With all these thoughts on safety and community, it comes as no surprise to me that my interview this week is with a woman who is in the business of healing and helping people. Thus far in life, she has championed through her journey with the knowledge of what is truly of value. Her smile lights up the world. Her connection to herself is loving, but driven. Her energy is infectious. I have been lucky enough to move with Elise (@ek4tam) in person during a ViTAlity week—and I knew she was a team player from the second I met her. The medical practice she works at is blessed to have her; she is sharp and bright. One of my favorite Instagram posts yet was of Elise in her scrubs inviting her boss into, oh, just a little #TAREALTIME in the office!! She is giving and deserving. I was so happy to hear her story; she is a single mom who has found the love of her life in a friend she has had for many years. That is by no mistake, because friends really care about you—and that means caring about all of you, especially the places that hit the deepest. True friends are loyal to the end. I can tell that Elise is this kind of mother, woman, and friend—the kind who embodies loyalty, encouragement, and positivity, the kind who delights in other’s joy—and I am super delighted to bring you her TAmily Tale.
All of my love,

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 I was born and raised in Shreveport, LA and am blessed to have 3 sisters and supportive, loving parents who have been married for 41 years! I’m a mother to an artistic, silly and adventurous 5-year-old boy. My son views “mommy’s workouts” as just part the of the regular daily norm, and I can only hope this serves as an example for him and impacts his health in a positive way throughout his life.  Recently, I was lucky to find love again and married a brilliant, strong, selfless and loving man.

Work keeps my days very full, as l am a Physician Assistant for an orthopedic spine surgeon in a very busy practice. The amount of energy and drive that my personal and professional lives demand requires that I stay as healthy, balanced and fit as physically possible. Both my job and family inspire me to live my best, most balanced life. My job is physically demanding, as I stand for long hours in surgery.  When not in the operating room, I am just shy of running from hospital to clinic, from patient to patient and from room to room.  Once, I had a patient refer to me as a “hummingbird”, and I just had to laugh because it was such an accurate description.  My job inspires me to be and stay healthy. Everyday I encounter many people who have not cared for themselves over the years. These patients have decreased mobility, chronic pain and a generalized deconditioned status that leads to a very poor quality of life. Sadly, but more often than not, we operate on patients who have an extreme excess of adipose tissue, which in turn, creates a much more challenging surgery and increases the risk of both intraoperative and postoperative complications. Although genetics play a role on body type, it is not the final answer. Our environment and daily choices to eat a healthy balance diet and move our bodies has a dramatic impact on a variety of levels of our mind and body health.

   SOME #TAMILY MEMBERS WORKOUT IN THEIR LIVING ROOMS IN IOWA, OTHERS ON THEIR BALCONIES IN ITALY. WHEN AND WHERE DID YOU START #TAREALTIME?

I found Tracy 2 years ago and have not looked back!  Although the road to finding The Method was not a straight path. My first memory of dieting was in 7th grade, and I recall picking sesame seeds off my hamburger bun to decrease the calories. I became so focused on diet and calorie restriction, that I earned my college degree in Dietetics at LSU in Baton Rouge, LA followed by my Masters of Science in Food and Nutrition at the University of Georgia in Athens, GA. Throughout the years my weight fluctuated. I was never consistent with any exercise program and pretty much tried it all. At age 26, I moved to the Pacific Northwest, 3,000 miles away from my family and friends. During the 6 years I lived there, I never weighed myself, and found it much easier to live in denial than face the mirror and scale. My reality check came when I was 5 weeks pregnant with my son. During my first ObGyn check up, I was petrified to weigh myself, so I stepped on the scale backwards and asked the nurse not to tell me.  But, I snuck a look and was shocked.  I was up almost 30lbs from what I “thought” I weighed. After my son was born, I nursed him for a year and was strict with my diet and lost the baby weight and additional 30lbs but remained disconnected from and putting myself, last. It took a divorce and a move back home to the South to realize I had been beyond unbalanced all this time.

 

It was a moment in history that I remember exactly where I was, who I was with and what I was wearing, when I decided to commit to TAM. I was sitting on the deck of my parents’ beach house in Destin, Florida with my best friend Christin (@christin4tam).  She strongly but gently suggested that I need to start exercising and recommended the Tracy Anderson Method. After discussing the philosophy of The Method, the flexibility of home workouts, and taking the body type quiz, I ordered and started Metamorphosis. I quickly realized how amazing it felt to take care of ME!  Since, I found great results with Meta, I signed up for streaming the day it was released. This took my excitement and results to an entire new level. The #TArealtime contest was a genius way to have us streamers go “all in” for the first 30 days and post on Instagram (IG) from which the priceless “TAmily” was born. I currently workout in my pool house just about every day with an array of thermometers, steamers, heaters, extension cords, speakers, mirrors, mats and weights! It is like a TAM party everyday in my pool house and everyone is invited 🙂

 

    WE ALL FACE CHALLENGES WHEN IT COMES TO BEING OUR HEALTHIEST SELVES—INSIDE AND OUT. WHAT HAS BEEN THE HARDEST PART OF YOUR JOURNEY?

  The first challenge that comes to mind is protecting my workout time and handling the associated guilt that comes along with taking time for myself. In order to have up to 2 hours uninterrupted for TAM, I have no other choice than to wake up at 4:15 am and get going. Is this ideal for me or what I would prefer, NO! However, TAM is a major priority for me, and if it’s going to happen based on my current family and work schedule, then 4:15am it is, and no complaints! Trips and weekends can be challenging, and my family sometimes gets frustrated that I schedule workout time, however I know that at the end of the day the Method makes me a better, mom, wife, sister and PA. TAM helps me feel more focused, increases my energy and give me a positive attitude, which is why some of you might see me working out in my office doing dance cardio on lunch break or waking up in the middle of the night on vacation to do a master class. It may appear ludicrous to others, but I am doing it for ME, and that is so important. As wives and mothers, we tend to put ourselves last, and trust me, I have been there.  However, that is crazy talk! Once I switched the order to take care of me first, my entire life has blossomed and relationships with everyone in my life are more rich and fulfilling.

 

    HAS BEING PART OF THE COMMUNITY OF #TAMILY WOMEN HELPED YOU TO OVERCOME THIS? HOW SO?

It’s hard to articulate how supportive and special this group of ladies is.  They have been there for every single challenge I’ve approached along the way. Whether it’s validating that I’m not crazy for waking up at 330am on vacation to workout, or encouraging me to hit the mat on days I may not feel my best, or creating different challenges to promote our health (i.e. 50min dance cardio for 10 days, wine-free for a week, drinking 8oz water every hour, etc.), our #TAmily makes living a healthy life fun, infections and exciting!

 

    ONE OF THE COOL THINGS I LOVE ABOUT THE #TAMILY IS HOW IT CONNECTS WOMEN ALL OVER THE WORLD. HOW ARE YOU INSPIRED BY OTHER WOMEN? WHO IN THE #TAMILY INSPIRES YOU? HOW DO YOU CONNECT WITH OTHER WOMEN IN THE #TAMILY BOTH ON INSTAGRAM AND IN REAL LIFE?

Like other Tam Tales ladies have mentioned, I could fill up a book on how everyone has inspired me. It’s insane! We are all lucky if we have one true person in our life as our inspiration, and with #TAmily we have many!  My number one inspiration is Tracy. I could go on forever, but she is the brain, heart and soul behind the method. After spending time with her at two vitality weeks, her genuine spirit blew me away. Attending vitality week changed me forever on so many levels, and I HIGHLY recommend it to everyone, it will take your workouts and health to an entirely new level.

 

My mother always said “you get out of something what you put into it” and that’s so true in the case of connecting with #TAmily. I won’t forget my first IG post during the #TArealtime contest.  I was nervous and completely out of my comfort zone. Overtime posting has gotten easier but still feels foreign. However, I have realized if it helps to inspire others, then it’s worth it. I connect with my #TAmily girls daily via FaceTime, text, IG, Periscope and our What’sApp text groups. We meet up in person whenever we can. For example, I met Jennifer (@fernandzgt) at Miami Vitality Week in June, and over Thanksgiving in Atlanta, I had so much fun going to her Tam Cave and sweating out the master class and dance cardio! These girls have become some of my closest friends, and I cannot imagine my life without them 🙂 They not only support me on the mat, but we all help and support each other throughout all of life’s trials and triumphs.

 

  LIKE MOST WOMEN I KNOW, YOU ARE BUSY! WHAT TIPS DO YOU HAVE FOR FITTING WORKOUTS INTO A HECTIC LIFESTYLE?

This is one my biggest challenges, but its not impossible. You must have the mindset that it’s “non-negotiable.” Like Tracy says, ‘it’s like brushing your teeth, do it every day’. I do not schedule rest days, I workout every single day that I physically can, which ends up being at least 6 days a week.  Also, I NEVER take more than 2 days off in a row.  Find what keeps you internally and externally accountable. I log into my calendar everyday I do master class and dance cardio. I check in with the TAmily and I like to invite friends and sisters over to workout with me. I lay out my clothes the night before and set the coffee pot and heaters on timers.  So, when I wake up, all I have to do is get dressed and press play…just that easy 🙂 I know if I didn’t post on IG or check in with TAmily for a day or two, I would be getting texts from plenty of girls! (You know who you are … @melissarigdon @agikonwali @emery5 @latam34 to name a few.)

  ONE THING THE #TAMILY HAS IS STYLE. WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE OUTFIT TO EXERCISE IN?
 Since I basically live in scrubs for work, my workout clothes have become my fashion excitement of the day. I love Liquido, Fabletics, Gap Fit, Alo, Beyond Yoga, Koral activewear, Onzie, Candida Maria and all things Tracy Anderson! Comfort is soooo important during these sweaty workouts! I love watching the different styles of the ladies in the master classes especially @claudiasaezfromm

  WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE TA MOMENT?

There are so many, but the first that pops in my mind is being in the locker room at the Tribeca studio with all my wonderful friends in October before the master class. The energy was electric and beaming with love and positivity!
  IT’S ALL ABOUT BALANCE. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE PRE-WORKOUT MEAL? FAVORITE INDULGENCE?

Since I workout so early, I only drink black coffee and water before and during my workout.

FAVORITE INDULGENCE?
Well I LOVE to eat which makes balance challenging. I love all things sweet, wine, good cheeses and traveling and trying new foods.

  HOW ELSE DO YOU FIND BALANCE IN YOUR DAILY LIFE?
This is a hard one, and one that I work on daily. I will say that in two years, I have never felt more balanced than when being so consistent with TAM. It’s important to be your true self.  Love yourself.  Surround yourself by people who lift who higher and let go of those who don’t and be ok with that. Accept that you cannot control others, and if you want something to happen it’s up to YOU.
CAN YOU SHARE YOUR FAVORITE POST-WORKOUT RECIPE FOR THE REST OF THE #TAMILY TO ENJOY?
I usually drink Tracy’s Wellness shake after my workout. For lunch, I enjoy a chopped cabbage salad, fresh cilantro, shredded carrots, lean protein (either organic turkey or chicken) topped with fresh salsa. (More recipes below!)
 ALL RIGHT, HERE’S A FREE PASS TO BRAG: IN ADDITION TO THE SUCCESS OF STICKING WITH IT, WHAT PROGRESS HAVE YOU MADE SINCE YOU STARTED #TAREALTIME AND BECAME PART OF THE #TAMILY, BOTH PHYSICALLY AND MENTALLY?
I have definitely gotten smaller, although it’s a work in progress! I felt very beautiful in my wedding dress in October. I’m impressed with my physical strength from all those planks and leg lifts! I ‘ve learned to let go of relationships that no longer give you “bounce” (Thank you @morgenschick for your wise words!)
 WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT YOUR BODY? 

I love that my body grew my son! What a miraculous achievement human development is. Physically, I love my collar bones, upper abs and dimples 🙂

WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT YOUR INTERNAL SELF?
I love my strength and optimism. I had no idea how strong I was until life presented circumstances to test my courage and determination. However, throughout my heart breaks and struggles I never once thought that I would not be okay!

 WHAT MESSAGE DO YOU HAVE FOR WOMEN WHO ARE STRUGGLING WITH THEIR HEALTH AND BODY IMAGE?
  Know that you are not alone. Being a woman in today’s world is very hard. STOP comparing yourself to others. You will NEVER be anyone else but yourself, and YOU are amazing! Don’t live in denial!  Look in the mirror and ask, what do you want to change? If you want change, there is no other choice but to work for it. There is no ‘quick fix.’  Commit your life to it and metamorphosis will happen.  Like Thomas Jefferson said, “If you want something you’ve never had, you must be willing to do something you’ve never done.”
ALL PHOTOS PROVIDED BY ELISE. FOLLOW HER ON INSTAGRAM @EK4TAM.

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GAZPACHO
I love cold summer soups, especially Gazpacho! My grandmother had the best recipe. I could eat this for days!

INGREDIENTS:
2 cups peeled diced tomatoes
1/2 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup chopped cucumber
1/4 cup chopped purple onion
1/2 bunch chopped green onions
1/2 cup chopped green pepper
1 small garlic clove, chopped
Juice of one lime squeezed
3 cups tomato juice (like Snappy Tom)
2-3 Tbsp red wine vinegar
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tsp Lea and Perrins Worcestershire sauce
1 Tsp Cajun seasoning
Pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS:
Combine all ingredients. Stir well. Chill in fridge several hours before serving. Serve cold.

LOW COUNTRY SHRIMP CREOLE
INGREDIENTS:
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 medium onion, chopped
1 large green bell pepper, chopped
10 black olives, sliced
6 green olives, sliced
8 medium mushrooms, sliced
1 Tbsp butter
1 Tbsp flou
2 16 oz cans stewed tomatoes
1 bay leaf
1/2 lb cooked shrimp
5-6 dashes Tabasco
1/4 Tsp black, red and white pepper
DIRECTIONS:
1. Saute all veggies except tomatoes in butter
2. Add flour and brown
3. Add tomatoes and bay leaf, simmer for 15 minutes
4. Add shrimp, tabasco, pepper, and bring to a boil, simmer for 5 mins
5. Serve over rice

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FAVORITE CURRENT QUOTE:

“SUCCESS IS NOT FINAL; FAILURE IS NOT FATAL. IT IS THE COURAGE TO CONTINUE THAT COUNTS.”
– WINSTON CHURCHILL

ALL-TIME FAVORITE QUOTE:

“IF YOU MUST LOOK BACK, DO SO FORGIVINGLY. IF YOU MUST LOOK FORWARD, DO SO PRAYERFULLY. HOWEVER, THE WISEST THING YOU CAN DO IS TO BE PRESENT IN THE PRESENT—GRATEFULLY.”
– MAYA ANGELOU

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CURRENT FAVORITE BOOK: The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo

ALL-TIME FAVORITE BOOK: Gone with The Wind by Margaret Mitchell. I have read it twice! Once in 7th grade and again a few years ago.  I love books that combine history in their story. Scarlett was such a strong survivor of a female character!

CURRENT FAVORITE MOVIE:
I am so embarrassed but I have thought about this for 5 days and I cannot remember the last movie I saw that was not Disney or G rated. However, I LOVE Steel Magnolias, it’s an oldie but goodie and everyone needs to watch how important powerful connections between women are throughout life.

 

ALL-TIME FAVORITE MOVIE:
The Notebook based on the Nicholas Sparks novel (which I have also read and love!). Classic love story, set in may all time favorite city of Charleston, SC.

ADVICE ELISE WOULD PASS ONTO YOUNG WOMEN THAT SHE WISH SHE HAD KNOWN EARLIER ON IN LIFE:

Have fun. Travel if you can. Make smart, well thought out decisions. Take care of yourself.  Surround yourself by good, positive people. Work hard in school.  Find yourself a powerful positive role model and breathe! Live in the present because that is all we have.

TAMILY TALES: Issue No. 7

By | #TAMILY TALES, Blog, Import

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With all the uncertainty in life, each day I feel truly blessed to have an internal sense of strong  roots. I don’t think I was born with it, I believe it is one of the greatest gifts my mother gave me. By her design and through her strong sense of commitment to her three children, she showed up for us consistently, no matter what life threw at her, come hell or high water. I am not talking about just the basics of caring for us, but there were times that her ability to give us even that basic care was greatly challenged and my mother didn’t just “survive,” she prevailed.

We all have dreams. But when we get trapped within our dreams, we get trapped in self-justification and self-manipulation. We use these tools to trick ourselves, to avoid taking the steps to face what it actually means to have the end result of your dreams—or your interpretation of what your dreams mean. Sometimes I wish everyone could just have what it is in their dreams that they think they need in order to get the “feeling” of fulfilling those dreams, because I think we would live each day rather differently.

One of the things I deal with on a daily basis is those unfulfilled places in people. When you are disconnected from yourself, you can be left feeling unfulfilled, and that feeling can cause you to wrongly identify what it is you need to live a certain way. When I think about the moments I feel the most fulfilled, they all stem from my roots. They are found in the layers of pure joy that come up in me every Thanksgiving when my mother reads Truman Willett. Or every Halloween when she reads James Whitcomb Riley’s Little Orphan Annie.Or every summer when we were kids, when she would put on different children’s plays and every afternoon brought a hike in the woods with the same lunch-on-a-stick. Or every Christmas, when she produces her beloved “Nutcracker” with her even more beloved students from the dance school she has had for over 40 years.

In my opinion, tradition is imperative in life. Straight from the old song itself: “Must know the way to make a proper home…must raise the family and run the home.” Although it is really great to have a family unit completely aligned in traditions on its own, sometimes you just have to take the initiative and make sure they happen. Just like making sure your workout happens for yourself or making sure you are truly doing right by yourself and those you care about, you can’t wait for other people or expect them to produce what you can do yourself. If you build it for yourself and for your children, they will show up for it long after you are gone. Even if you don’t have children, the ways you show up for and nurture the layers within yourself are just as important. To drive through all that is unknown, you have to have that strong sense of direction—and I strongly believe it comes in part from those positive traditions, be them yearly or daily.

The most important things in life are intrinsic. We only achieve physically by what we dowith our  own physicality, not by what just is. The wordless truths I found on Karen Smith’s Instagram feed (@gippersmith) touched me at the core, highlighting the layers of roots that light a smile across my face daily. Her commitment to her family, her gifts as a dancer, her abilities as a teacher, her vulnerability as a woman, her positivity as a friend—there are so many layers of her brightness, strength, and personal truths. And I gotta say, she had me at the pug. My pug Ouch (RIP) was my everything—literally my soulmate, that dog!

So Karen, I have to thank you on behalf of these deep roots I am grateful for every day. Thank you for giving so much of yourself in order to instill traditions in the lives of these budding dancers, the newest generation to experience the wonder of life through the magical story of “The Nutcracker,” with all of its visions at play to the genius of Tchaikovsky’s score. I have been everything from a doll to a snowflake to a Spanish dancer to the Sugar Plum Fairy. My sister got to play Clara, and I think my time may have passed for that opportunity (or to be jealous), but she was the cutest! Last Christmas, my sister and I had the great joy of taking our daughters home to our mom’s to be in her production of “The Nutcracker.” My mom has many traditions within her traditions; she is always Mother Gigogne, so Penny and her cousin Marlo got to be under the giant skirt and come out and dance. It was incredible watching our daughters and our mother together on stage, celebrating a tradition we’ve cherished since we were young girls. Thank you to my mom and to Karen, for the stability you continue to create so that these young girls may fly! Piloting your dreams means you have to be living in them and that’s a dream come true.

All my love,

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I’m a mom, a ballet teacher and Operations Manager for Montana Ballet Company, an outstanding non-profit ballet company and academy in Bozeman, Montana. I grew up a dancer in a non-dance family. My mom put me in lessons when I was about 7, assuming that it would be a passing fad, but I never stopped. My parents knew nothing about ballet, but they soon learned, and supported me through years of Summer intensives, lessons, performances, the works.

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We moved to Bozeman, Montana when I was ten, with a population of about 40,000 now it was even smaller then. It’s not a place you associate with classical ballet, but as a university town, it has a great arts community. I had a teacher who was a visionary, and she made high quality ballet happen. That was about 32 years ago. As Bozeman is the kind of place that people really want to come to (it’s about 90 miles north of Yellowstone National Park and has spectacular skiing in the winter) the company never had a problem attracting guest artists and teachers.

Over my years growing up I had the opportunity to study with dancers and teachers from the New York City Ballet, the Paris Opera Ballet, and Modern companies like Doug Varone and Dancers and José Limóne. I spent my summers away at Pacific Northwest Ballet, the Milwaukee Ballet, the Joffrey, and I got to come home to Montana. While I was always being told that I was talented and had potential, (I was a “strong dancer” – oh how I came to hate those words!), I also lacked the ideal body for ballet. I was short, curvy, and just altogether “wrong.” So I doubted myself, I doubted my dreams, and I went to college. I continued to dance though; I loved it too much to give it up entirely, and I fell into teaching.

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I left Montana for about 13 years, lived in many different places around the world, and then came back to Bozeman about 4 years ago. Upon returning I found that Montana Ballet Company had gone through some tough times but was beginning to flourish again under the direction of our current Artistic Director, Elizabeth DeFanti. The Academy has grown and trains about 150 students ages 3 to adult. We offer a full curriculum of classical ballet training and a full-year performance schedule, with most of our performances accompanied by the Bozeman Symphony or other local musicians.

I delight in giving these students what most would think impossible in a place like Montana. Most of our students will most likely not go on to careers with larger, professional companies, although some have, and others no doubt will. But while here, these students will get the full experience of what it feels like to dedicate yourself to something you believe in with all of your soul. To spend your days supported by, sweating with, and working alongside others who feel as you do. We are building these young men and women up so that they may go out into the world with grace. I don’t ever want any of them to doubt, to question, or to give up on their dreams.

We just wrapped our 32nd annual Nutcracker, with 3 performances reaching thousands of audience members in Bozeman and 1 in Big Sky over the course of 1 weekend. Through our Discover Dance program, we do an additional free performance and lecture/demonstration for close to 1,000 local school children. For many of them this is their first exposure to dance and the theatre.

I started my days emailing the cast any last-minute details, then maybe checking in with tickets sales to pull some comp tickets, then a check-in with volunteers about ushering or boutique sales, then over to the studio to teach a class, then to the theater to pull on my wig and gown and dance in Act 1, then stripping to check in with the front of the house, and finally ending the last performance day loading all of our sets out of the stage  and into a cold, dark storage unit at 10:00 p.m. It’s not glamorous and I’m not getting rich, but seeing the excitement and exhilaration of the dancers as they exit the stage, or watching the younger ones as they watch from the wings, mesmerized by guest artists doing things they dream of someday doing makes it all worth it.

This is not something many people get a chance to be a part of, especially not in a small town in Montana. For too many people, the arts are are seen as expendable and are too easily brushed aside or marginalized, but the feeding of the spirit is important. I believe it is an essential part of nourishing the soul and creating a more compassionate, enlightened society. I’m honored to be a small part of that.

2351f61d-8416-4edb-a9ee-2921a88335b5SOME #TAMILY MEMBERS WORKOUT IN THEIR LIVING ROOMS IN IOWA, OTHERS ON THEIR BALCONIES IN ITALY. WHEN AND WHERE DID YOU START #TAREALTIME?

4aeae3b3-463d-4e54-ae75-6ec592a9b7c9 My first exposure to TAM was about 8 years ago while we were living in Kuala Lumpur Malaysia. But, I first started #TArealtime in January of last year – January 1 actually, the day Tracy announced her Instagram contest. I had recently moved back to Montana and was almost halfway through year three of Continuity. I had always dreamed of going to a vitality week so I told myself I’d start streaming for at least one month so I could enter the contest. Naturally I was hooked and didn’t stop after one month!

When I first started my journey with TAM, I had just had knee surgery and a new baby and was looking for something other than the running I had been doing. I wasn’t dancing, I wasn’t teaching, and I was looking for something that was missing. I dabbled but didn’t commit. A couple of years later we moved to Switzerland, where I had my second knee surgery and my second baby. Again I went in search of something other than what I had been doing (which wasn’t working). I was a fitness instructor for awhile, and was used to step, kickboxing, spinning, running – all the high intensity things I thought I needed to help with my constant weight struggles. But the satisfaction and results I needed just weren’t coming. Then I discovered Tracy’s book, “The 30-Day Method”, and after reading her intro and learning about her background in ballet, I was so intrigued that I just had to try again.

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I had just started when we moved back to the states and it was “excerisus interuptus” as we transitioned home. Six months later, after a particularly indulgent holiday season, I bought Metamorphosis and never looked back! I usually work out upstairs in my “studio” as I call it – low ceilings, narrow and all. I’m actually quite lucky to have 3 dance studios with mirrors and sprung floors at my disposal whenever I’m at work, but surprisingly I don’t work out there that often. Even if I’m the only one there, I feel like I’m on display or that someone might come in at any moment.

2351f61d-8416-4edb-a9ee-2921a88335b5WE ALL FACE CHALLENGES WHEN IT COMES TO BEING OUR HEALTHIEST SELVES—INSIDE AND OUT. WHAT HAS BEEN THE HARDEST PART OF YOUR JOURNEY?
4aeae3b3-463d-4e54-ae75-6ec592a9b7c9The biggest challenge for me is food. I’ve never had a problem being self-motivated. I think all my years of devotion to ballet had something to do with that. If I have the time, I can happily work out for hours, on my own, wherever. But I’m not going to lie, I don’t cook, I don’t like to cook and I find the whole process of planning, prepping and preparing meals exhausting and tedious. (I’m so sorry my darling Emery – it must pain you to hear me say that!). You will never find me posting pictures of food on instagram because it would just be sad. Really, really sad.

But I do like to eat.  I didn’t know much about healthy eating habits when I was younger and while I’ve educated myself in that regard, I still take the easy way out when I’m busy and stressed and tired. I’m trying to be better, for the sake of my kids and my husband as well as myself. Don’t get me wrong, I love nothing better than grilled wild salmon with a kale salad, I just don’t want to make it. There, I’ve owned it.

Oh, and gummy bears. Gummy bears are my stress food. Not lovely organic, sea salt dusted dark chocolate, but artificially colored and flavored nasty gummy bears. I’ve learned it’s best just not to buy them. Especially not the big bag from Costco.

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The internal struggle is harder to define. I’m a quiet person, a shy person, a pleaser; I desperately want people to like me and, even today at 44, will morph into what I think others want me to be. I care way too much about what others think of me, and I think I tend to lose sight of what I actually think of myself, who I really want to be. I am constantly trying to remind myself that I am a legitimate person who deserves to take up great space in the world. I don’t take compliments well as I’m always waiting for the “but”. As in “you’re a very talented dancer, but…” I really struggle with always thinking that there must be a “but”. Others have said it here more eloquently: I’m working hard to know that I am enough.

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2351f61d-8416-4edb-a9ee-2921a88335b5HAS BEING PART OF THE COMMUNITY OF #TAMILY WOMEN HELPED YOU TO OVERCOME THIS? HOW SO?
4aeae3b3-463d-4e54-ae75-6ec592a9b7c9Oh my goodness yes! But, i’m not going to lie, not at first. I would see all these women on IG with these amazing bodies and amazing form and my first reaction was insecurity; the thought that I’d never be as fit as them, as good as them, as whatever as them. I think that’s why I didn’t post any pictures with my face in them at first; just a leg, an angle, head down with hair in my face. But then something amazing happened, something that just doesn’t seem to happen enough with women these days. People wrote warm, supportive comments. They showed an interest in who I really am. They really seemed to care and to want to see what I was up to…without any “buts.” And that made me feel like maybe I could just take up a little more of that great space in this world.

2351f61d-8416-4edb-a9ee-2921a88335b5ONE OF THE COOL THINGS I LOVE ABOUT THE #TAMILY IS HOW IT CONNECTS WOMEN ALL OVER THE WORLD. HOW ARE YOU INSPIRED BY OTHER WOMEN? WHO IN THE #TAMILY INSPIRES YOU? HOW DO YOU CONNECT WITH OTHER WOMEN IN THE #TAMILY BOTH ON INSTAGRAM AND IN REAL LIFE?
4aeae3b3-463d-4e54-ae75-6ec592a9b7c9It’s crazy isn’t it! We’re out there, everywhere, so different from each other but sharing this one common thing that we’re passionate about. I just recently learned that one of the #tamily members lives in Kuala Lumpur and was there when I was living there too. I mean, small world, right? We could have passed each other on the street unknowingly and here we are connecting four years later.

What’s inspiring to me is how different we all are from each other, but yet we all share this one amazing commitment. And we can relate to each other because of that one thing, and can learn from each other because we are so different.  I like to try to take something from each woman I see and know.

I’m not a cook like Emery (@emery5) but she inspires me to be at least a better one. I know nothing about beauty and skincare like Morgan (@morgenschick), but she makes me want to wash my face and take better care of myself.  Monica (@monica_duarte)  is just joyous and full of life. Gillian (@gilliancorey) sees the world differently and Shan (@shanmasters) makes me want to think and write and look at the world around me more deliberately. Elise (@ek4tam) inspires me to get up early and commit no matter what, no excuses. Nadine (@nadineandrea13) makes me remember to smile. And I could go on and on and on; tI am so thankful for all the women I’ve had the pleasure of meeting and those I’ve just seen on IG. There are so many amazing women out there! There is always at least one thing that I thing I can take away from each one of them and use to make myself a better me. Not make me just like them, but just a better me.

 

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2351f61d-8416-4edb-a9ee-2921a88335b5LIKE MOST WOMEN I KNOW, YOU ARE BUSY! WHAT TIPS DO YOU HAVE FOR FITTING WORKOUTS INTO A HECTIC LIFESTYLE?
4aeae3b3-463d-4e54-ae75-6ec592a9b7c9For me my TAM time is just non-negotiable. My family knows that even if it’s a holiday, or if we’re on vacation or visiting family, it’s part of the deal for me. Before streaming I brought my little personal dvd player with me everywhere. I’ve done free-style dance cardio outside in my brother’s yard in Portland and done muscular structure in hotel rooms. And I know it’s the same for a lot of us. Our TAM goes with us wherever we go.

I might miss one day if I must, but 6 days a week is my minimum. You just have to make it happen. Whether that’s getting up at 4:30 am or doing it late at night. Although if I don’t get it done before noon it’s really hard for me. I’ve had a few late-night TAM sessions, but it’s not my preference. I schedule my meetings, my haircuts, my appointments, whatever I can around when I know I’ll be working out. And if that means both kids are up in my “studio” with me, so be it. My son will jump on my mini-tramp. My daughter will dance on my ballet barre or freestyle around me. They think of Tracy like family now! And I do keep extra hand weights, light and heavy ankle weights, and a pair of sneakers at the ballet studio as well.

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2351f61d-8416-4edb-a9ee-2921a88335b5ONE THING THE #TAMILY HAS IS STYLE. WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE OUTFIT TO EXERCISE IN?
4aeae3b3-463d-4e54-ae75-6ec592a9b7c9Um, yeah, ok. Anyone who knows me, either in my “real life” or on instagram knows I love unique leggings. The more colorful and quirky the better. I like to justify my addiction with the fact that they are my “work clothes” too. When I teach I wear leggings; my days of pink tights and black leotards are long gone. And my younger students appreciate my Frozen and How to Train your Dragon ones. I don’t really discriminate price-wise, I have low and higher-end ones and wear them all; comfort is key. I’m short-waisted and curvy and can’t stand tight things around my waist (stems from all those pink tights), so brands with nice wide waist-bands are ideal for me: Werkshop, Teeki, Fit Mama and K-Deer are current faves. And some days I just love my big, baggy, comfy Hanes sweatpants that I’ve had like, forever. The top doesn’t matter too much, something that keeps the girls in check and a TA tank or baggy tee are my go-to’s!

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2351f61d-8416-4edb-a9ee-2921a88335b5WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE TA MOMENT?
4aeae3b3-463d-4e54-ae75-6ec592a9b7c9I actually have three. The first was January a year ago when I first started streaming and the instagram contest. I think it was like the first or second day maybe, and I posted a picture with my pug, Percy, in it. He’s actually in most of my pictures, he loves his #tarealtime! A notification popped up on my phone that @tracyandersonmethod made a comment on my picture and I was like, oh how nice, she has one of her “people” looking at posts and commenting. And then I read it and she said something about having a pug named Ouch when her son was younger. I had a hard time wrapping my head around the fact that she actually did look at our posts and pictures and actually did want to interact with us. It was a lightbulb moment: we really are all connected and in it together so to speak.

The second was just last week. One of the lovely #tarealtime ladies on instagram organized an international secret sanTA for anyone who wanted to participate. We were supposed to send something small before the holidays just for fun. (My apologies to the person I drew, yours will be in the mail soon, Nutcracker slowed me down a bit!) So last week I had just finished up teaching a class and was rushing out to the theater for a tech rehearsal when a man walked in to the studio with a present. It turns out that the TAMILY member who got me has a nephew who lives in Bozeman. She had him take it on 4 flights to hand deliver it to me instead of putting in the mail. And he had tickets to the Nutcracker for the following weekend by the way. I still don’t know who it is, but it was an awesome moment!

The third would obviously have to be meeting Tracy the “fairy ninja muffin-top slayer” herself, for the first time , when I was in New York this past October with some of the other amazing #tamily women. That entire two days was life-changing. This group of women was just something incredibly special and I will treasure the memories of being with them for the rest of my life. And Tracy didn’t disappoint. Sometimes we build people we admire up so much in our minds and imaginations that they can’t help but fall short of expectations in person. Tracy exceeded expectations, and that is rare.

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2351f61d-8416-4edb-a9ee-2921a88335b5IT’S ALL ABOUT BALANCE. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE PRE-WORKOUT MEAL? FAVORITE INDULGENCE?
4aeae3b3-463d-4e54-ae75-6ec592a9b7c9If it’s an early morning workout it’s just coffee. If it’s going to be an hour or so then either a protein shake (yes, I am partial to Tracy’s when I can get it) or a blended fresh juice of apples, cucumbers, beets, celery, spinach, kale, whatever we have around in the fridge that I can throw in the Vitamix. My favorite indulgence is definitely a nice rosé wine, (preferably a French or Swiss bubbly one). And if it’s enjoyed in a steaming hot epsom salt bath, all the better. Although the bathroom in our open floorplan home doesn’t have a door, so the kids find it irresistible to spend “quality time” with me whenever I try to make that happen.

2351f61d-8416-4edb-a9ee-2921a88335b5HOW ELSE DO YOU FIND BALANCE IN YOUR DAILY LIFE?
4aeae3b3-463d-4e54-ae75-6ec592a9b7c9That’s so hard. If I’m perfectly honest I don’t think I do. This is one my biggest challenges and something I continue to work on. I often feel like I’m not measuring up in many of the areas of my life. I think it’s called “impostor syndrome.” We put pressures on ourselves I think: trying to be the perfect mom, the perfect wife, the perfect employee, the perfect daughter, the perfect teacher. It’s a juggling act and it sometimes feels like all the balls are going to come tumbling down.

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I can tell easily enough if one area is being neglected more than another, and then you just make adjustments. Play a game or color with the kids. Answer those work emails instead of checking Facebook. Empty the dishwasher before heading upstairs to workout, go out for dinner or fly-fishing with the hubby instead of vacuuming. It’s usually pretty clear which area of my life is out of balance and needs tending too, it’s just then making the necessary choices to get back in balance. Except for during Nutcracker or other performances and when it comes to my #tarealtime! Then all bets are off and I just do the best I can!

2351f61d-8416-4edb-a9ee-2921a88335b5 CAN YOU SHARE YOUR FAVORITE POST-WORKOUT RECIPE FOR THE REST OF THE #TAMILY TO ENJOY?
4aeae3b3-463d-4e54-ae75-6ec592a9b7c9I think we’ve already established that I’m not much of a cook, and sushi or sashimi are definitely my first choices, but I don’t make those at home. My favorite is actually a nice salmon fillet with a little olive oil and the Montana speciality spice “Alpine Touch” on the Traeger Grill. Especially if my husband does it. Even through the Winter, as long as it’s above zero Fahrenheit, the Traeger is always being put to use to grill something. A nice salad on the side and we’re done. Not much of a recipe I know, but I’m trying really hard to be authentic here!

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2351f61d-8416-4edb-a9ee-2921a88335b5ALL RIGHT, HERE’S A FREE PASS TO BRAG: IN ADDITION TO THE SUCCESS OF STICKING WITH IT, WHAT PROGRESS HAVE YOU MADE SINCE YOU STARTED #TAREALTIME AND BECAME PART OF THE #TAMILY, BOTH PHYSICALLY AND MENTALLY?
4aeae3b3-463d-4e54-ae75-6ec592a9b7c9I have gone up and down weight-wise my entire life. I’ve always been strong and fit, just not defined or sculpted. After 4 months of Metamorphosis and Continuity I had lost about 20 pounds, but more than that I had new-found definition. At my lowest weight I was lighter, but I certainly didn’t have the sculpted muscles that I found emerging. I’ll be 45 in a few months, and I am stronger, fitter, and more comfortable in my own skin than I was when I was 25 or 35. Mentally I have focus. I don’t get defeated by small ups on the scale, and I don’t have the huge swings from 102 pounds to 145 pounds that I used to have when my mind and will would give up and I’d eat myself into oblivion. If I’m withdrawing into my own mind too much or thinking defeatist thoughts, I’ll hop on instagram and get a virtual “snap out of it” by checking in with my #tamily!

2351f61d-8416-4edb-a9ee-2921a88335b5WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT YOUR BODY? WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT YOUR INTERNAL SELF?
4aeae3b3-463d-4e54-ae75-6ec592a9b7c9On a good day I have abs, and abs that I love! At (almost) 45 with two kids, my belly is pretty flat and it took a lot of hard work to get it that way. That makes me proud and happy. My legs are strong and muscular -they get me where I need to go and have done some amazing things and for that I’m grateful. Internally, I’m always working on that, but I’m a lover. I love humanity, all of it with a totally open mind, and you have to work really hard to make me lose that. I really want to believe with all of my heart that people are good. I’m maybe a touch naive, but I am an eternal optimist.

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2351f61d-8416-4edb-a9ee-2921a88335b5WHAT MESSAGE DO YOU HAVE FOR WOMEN WHO ARE STRUGGLING WITH THEIR HEALTH AND BODY IMAGE?

4aeae3b3-463d-4e54-ae75-6ec592a9b7c9No, we’re not all super models, or Olympic athletes, or prima ballerinas, but we all have at least one thing about us that other people don’t have that is special. Find it, and celebrate it. It’s hard. We all look in the mirror and immediately start criticizing ourselves. I’ve spent my life in rooms with floor to ceiling mirrors whose purpose was to show me what I was doing wrong, what didn’t look right. And that lingers: Today, I look in the mirror and see the long nose, the wrinkles, the one droopy eye. But, I’m trying to be more like my four year old daughter.

She was born with a large red birthmark on her right cheek, something that we are programmed to see as a flaw, something that we see as needing to be fixed. Allegra will put on her fanciest princess dress or tutu, maybe a tiara, and sometimes even just my discarded ratty t-shirt or a random sports bra lying around that she drapes around her shoulders like an elegant cape. She will twirl and preen in front of the mirror. Many times she stops and just stares at herself, and I watch her and wait for the question about her birthmark, or the comment about how different or weird it looks to her. I wait for that critical thought that I assume must be forming in her mind, as it would be in mine.  But then she says, “Oh Mommy, aren’t I just the most beautifulist in the whole world?” That just makes me want to cry, happily, because yes, she is, and we all are. We just forget our own inherent beauty somewhere along the way. If I do nothing else, I will make sure that my daughter never forgets it and I will try to remember it now and again too. We all should. I know it sounds a little bit like Stuart Smalley from that old SNL skit but it’s true.

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ALL PHOTOS PROVIDED BY KAREN. FOLLOW HER ON INSTAGRAM @GIPPERSMITH.

 

 

 

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FAVORITE CURRENT QUOTE:

 “HAVE COURAGE AND BE KIND.”
– CINDERELLA, DIRECTED BY KENNETH BRANAUGH (2015)

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ALL-TIME FAVORITE QUOTE:

“I DO NOT TRY TO DANCE BETTER THAN ANYONE ELSE. I ONLY TRY TO DANCE BETTER THAN MYSELF.”
– MIKHAIL BARYSHNIKOV

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CURRENT FAVORITE BOOK(S): Honestly, with two young kids, and my life as it right now I barely have time to read a magazine, but as I was a Lit. Major in college I always have a stack of books around that I’m trying to get to. My current stack includes: Clean by Alejandro Junger, M.D., Within by Dr. Habib Sadeghi, The Enchantress of Florence by Salman Rushdie, Misty Copeland’s autobiography Life in Motion: An Unlikely Ballerina.

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ALL-TIME FAVORITE BOOKS: Kitchen by Banana Yoshimoto. I discovered this book when I was living In Japan 22 years ago. I’ve never forgotten it and re-read it yearly.

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CURRENT FAVORITE MOVIE:
Again, I don’t get to many movies these days, unless you count daily screenings of Frozen, but I did take my kids to see Cinderella (the new one by Kenneth Branaugh) and was so pleasantly surprised that I had to take my mom to it too.

 

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ALL-TIME FAVORITE MOVIE(S):
Amelié, A Room with a View, and Wings of Desire.

ADVICE KAREN WOULD PASS ONTO YOUNG WOMEN THAT SHE

WISH SHE HAD KNOWN EARLIER ON IN LIFE:

Don’t worry so much about what other people think of you. You are never going to be everything that everyone wants you to be, so work on pleasing yourself first. This doesn’t give you carte blanche to be rude or obnoxious, or horrible, just permission to find you and be you and don’t apologize for being you. That…and wear sunscreen.