What 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.
“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.”
All of my love,
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.
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?
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.
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.
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 ….
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?
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!!!
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.
Or a BIG plump juicy date … just eaten one now as I am about to stream ….
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.
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.
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…
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.
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.
FAVORITE CURRENT QUOTES:
“THERE IS NOBODY BETTER THAN YOU AND YOU ARE NO BETTER THAN ANYONE ELSE.”
– TRACY ANDERSON, 2015 MAGAZINE INTERVIEW
“A LIGHTBULB CANNOT ILLUMINATE A ROOM UNTIL IT IS SWITCHED ON.”
– ONE OF MINE INSPIRED BY #TAMSHINE WEEK 48
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.