Finding My Way Back To Physical Health: The Start-Up 15 and Readjusting

I am very much an open book when it comes to my thoughts and emotions. Sometimes it feels like an avalanche, other times, the thoughts creep in and take hold in unexpected, subtle and unnoticed ways.

That's when I know it's time for a readjustment.

The past week has been intense to say the least. A national election in Canada with a party that truly represents my views taking leadership, coming back from Mill Valley, California where I was flown out and asked to speak as the only woman on an all-male panel, and finally, coming back to Ottawa and having a haze of confusion and lethargy take hold.

Hiking in Muir Woods outside of Mill Valley, California

Hiking in Muir Woods outside of Mill Valley, California

Normally, my work serves as my salvation. Whatever is going on, I can dive in and it helps uplift me. This time, I was struggling even getting started, or going into the office. I was also feeling like crap in my body. 

In the past year and a bit since Dream, Girl came into my life last August, I have gained about 15 pounds. Similar to the 'Freshman 15' I gained in first year university, this seems to be my 'Start-Up 15'.

When I first started KoMedia two years ago, my experience was actually the exact opposite. I had been fired from my previous job, started my company that very same day, and signed up for my first half-marathon not long thereafter. I started running, strength-training, and tracking my food. I knew I needed to shift some things in my life, and at the time, health was my number one priority.

That year, I also started grad school. It was an executive education-style program that was module-based. Every morning of all four week-long modules I would workout, lead a guided meditation, and then show up to class.

In contrast - last week, I spent two full days working from bed without leaving my house, yes, with a meditation sandwiched in between the coziness, but it had me asking, 'what's changed?', 'why am I not moving?'

With a few days of journaling, and going back to previous entries from that period of time in my life (which I wish there was more of), I realized I am afraid.

I am afraid of being seen as a successful, healthy, powerful woman. Isn't that funny? I spend most of my days spreading the good word and work of feminism, of 'empowerment', and here I am hiding in a shadow of my former self physically.

I was hiding behind a groin injury that took hold after we were rear-ended last summer that makes it hard for me to squat and deadlift. Two of my favourite exercises. I was afraid that yoga would aggravate it and instead of pivoting my workouts, and adjusting, I just stopped.

Cuddling my grandma in India.

Cuddling my grandma in India.

That mixed into a myriad of personal heaviness this year. From spending Christmas Eve and Christmas Day in the Intensive Care Unit with my mom after my uncle had part of his jaw removed to eliminate the cancer that had grown unnoticed for ten years, followed almost immediately by the death of her father, my grandfather, that had me going from Grande Prairie, Alberta to India back-to-back, I'd say diving into butter and rich food was a logical choice at the time.

I came back from India in March and we dived right into launching the Dream, Girl trailer on International Women's Day and the non-stop whirlwind of festivals, travel, and business growth that the last six months has held.

Maybe I'm being a bit too hard on myself. I'm not upset at myself for getting here. In fact, I think it's pretty logical. A shit-tonne of stuff happened this year, I just finally feel like I am in a state of mind to take my health back. I am 25, on the cusp of 26, and I want to feel like a weapon in my body.

I like to feel the strength of my muscles as I do pushups. Being upside down in a handstand feels more at home to me than anything else. Eating nourishing food is actually so delicious. I was just lost in the noise of change, and sprinting to keep up with my life.

15 pounds at the end of the day doesn't matter all that much, what matters to me is that I have been feeling sad. I was feeling like not enough. I was starting to feel like what I had to give to this world didn't matter as much because this physical body didn't look a certain way, and wasn't feeling good. I knew I had to shift something.

So on Sunday, Mitch and I got real with each other. I cried, we dove into our fears around health, we faced what would happen if we didn't start back on the path to nourishing our bodies, and we took action.

I signed back up for twice-weekly classes with the goddess of a woman, and one of the best yoga teachers in Ottawa, Louise Cameron. Last July, I trained with Louise for 30 days, 8-hours a day, to get my Forrest Yoga-inspired Hatha Yoga Teacher certification and it was life changing.

What a month it was! I felt so strong spiritually and emotionally.

What a month it was! I felt so strong spiritually and emotionally.

Louise really saw me. From day one I felt an instant connection to her. It was indescribable, and so powerful. Close to the end of our time together, she offered me a teaching position. I was floored. She saw power in my teaching and healing ability that I had never been aware of so deeply or viscerally. My life took another direction, and I still see her as a soul sister. There are few people in our lives who can see us with pure eyes, and she is one of them to me. 

Love you Louise (and happy anniversary to you and Gord today)!

So far this week I've had two practices with her, with another on the schedule for tomorrow, and I already feel the shift.

On Sunday, Mitch and I also sat down and took time to meal plan. 

A few months ago, I had the opportunity to meet Karena and Katrina from Tone It Up. I am a yuppie for strong online communities, and the first time I lost 20 pounds, I found Instagram to be a solid source of inspiration and community when it came to fitness. The Tone It Up community is insane online, and my friend Courtney McCarthy found amazing success through their program.

March 2014 - loving being upside down!

March 2014 - loving being upside down!

So, I ordered their Vegetarian Meal Plan, and Mitch and I dived in and planned our food for the week. We made our grocery list and hit Whole Foods. A couple hundred dollars, and some Spirulina, and Agave Syrup later, we were ready to prep.

We spent three hours cooking and packing our meals. From brazillian nut and dried fruit bars (that are so insanely delicious) to kale and red cabbage salad with this sweet, rich and savoury dressing, to evening chilli, and tonight, Thai peanut lettuce wraps with friends, it felt incredible to be so in control of what we were putting into our bodies. We also realized we're going to be saving a lot of money by cooking mostly at home.

It's only day three of recommitting to our health, but it feels like I am right back to the peak of my fitness. It feels so right, and so manageable. With the right supports, the right people, the right attitude, it's all fully achievable.

I also need to add that I'm about two months away from making that big move to NYC, and had I moved this month as was originally planned, I likely would have been a basket case. Without a good foundation of food, movement, and sleep, I know my tendencies towards depression and anxiety flare up. Add to that a move to the 'centre of the universe', and I would have been toast.

Staged shot - ha! Green tea, and my body journal is at home, so this is my work journal sitting in!

Staged shot - ha! Green tea, and my body journal is at home, so this is my work journal sitting in!

To be honest, I can't afford to not be in good, solid health. This recommitment won't be the last in my life, but this time I am being more mindful of how. I've added a second journal to my life - I call it my body journal. In it, I'm writing all the thoughts, feels, and emotions that come up related to my body, all the pain that I feel in different parts, and what's feeling good. I want this not only to help me today, but for future Komal who may need an in-depth reminder of my why and how when it comes to health.

All this to say. This is going to be interesting. Start-up 15 is not fun. It's a result of a gruelling and insane lifestyle that is somehow so deeply rewarding. I've realized I've got to get my health act together to be able to keep going in the direction of my dreams.

I'll keep you posted on how it goes in the coming days, weeks, months, and years. All I know is today, I'm not afraid to be seen (thank you Erin) and I am not afraid to share that I have some work to do.

Help me get there?

- K