“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.”
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.
SOME #TAMILY MEMBERS WORKOUT IN THEIR LIVING ROOMS IN IOWA, OTHERS ON THEIR BALCONIES IN ITALY. WHEN AND WHERE DID YOU START #TAREALTIME?
I 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!
WE ALL FACE CHALLENGES WHEN IT COMES TO BEING OUR HEALTHIEST SELVES—INSIDE AND OUT. WHAT HAS BEEN THE HARDEST PART OF YOUR JOURNEY?
There 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 🙂
HAS BEING PART OF THE COMMUNITY OF #TAMILY WOMEN HELPED YOU TO OVERCOME THIS? HOW SO?
Absolutely! 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!
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 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!
LIKE MOST WOMEN I KNOW, YOU ARE BUSY! WHAT TIPS DO YOU HAVE FOR FITTING WORKOUTS INTO A HECTIC LIFESTYLE?
The 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.
ONE THING THE #TAMILY HAS IS STYLE. WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE OUTFIT TO EXERCISE IN?
I 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.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE TA MOMENT?
There 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…
IT’S ALL ABOUT BALANCE. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE PRE-WORKOUT MEAL? FAVORITE INDULGENCE?
If 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.
HOW ELSE DO YOU FIND BALANCE IN YOUR DAILY LIFE?
I 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 🙂
CAN YOU SHARE YOUR FAVORITE POST-WORKOUT RECIPE FOR THE REST OF THE #TAMILY TO ENJOY?
I 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!
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?
First, 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!
WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT YOUR BODY? WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT YOUR INTERNAL SELF?
I 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.
WHAT MESSAGE DO YOU HAVE FOR WOMEN WHO ARE STRUGGLING WITH THEIR HEALTH AND BODY IMAGE?
Know 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!
FAVORITE CURRENT QUOTE:
“THE IMPORTANT THING IS NOT TO STOP QUESTIONING. CURIOSITY HAS ITS OWN REASON FOR EXISTING.”
FAVORITE ALL-TIME QUOTE:
“WHAT DOESN’T KILL YOU MAKES YOU STRONGER.”
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 🙂