Fit

My Father’s Nose

Categories: Fit | Posted by: Suzy Shulman

It is pretty incredible to me the profound and dramatic difference in the way I look from age 30 to now, on the cusp of turning 37. I have lines where once I did not, my hair is thinner and just less awesome than it used to be, and I have fat in weird places that make me think “when did this happen and more importantly, why?!?”. I looked in the mirror the other day and was struck by just how much my face, my nose in particular, has changed. I used to have my mother’s adorable turned up nose, so pretty and so feminine. Now have my father’s, for serious. no. joke. Nose. It’s prominent and Jewish and unmistakably his.

 

When did this happen I ask myself?

 

When did I become this person?

 

I genuinely miss, but definitely not mourn, the face of my youth. Full, plump, turned up nose and sun freckled free.

 

What I find so interesting about the whole aging process is the incredible lack of fucks I have to give about it. Seriously, I can’t get over how much less I care than I did in my early 20’s. It’s cruel really. In your 20’s, you’re so, so much more preoccupied with your outside appearance. I was never in love with how full my face was until my late 20’s when my face became dramatically less full and my cheekbones became prominent for the first time. I had always coveted “thin, older” faces, cause grass is always greener, right?! But the tradeoff was that now I had lines where there most definitely weren’t any.

 

The paradox of no fucks given to real, visible change is weird and hard to understand. For so long I cared, for so long it was about the outward; then like a quick summer storm, it changed. My internal became louder and drowned out the external and then I was someone else, new but not. It’s not that I no longer care about what I look like entirely, it’s that I have the most amazing sense that what’s looking back at me in the mirror now is perfect; my father’s nose, my forehead wrinkles and my sun freckles, and they all seem just right.

 

I would never like to go back in time. I have no interest in being 23 or 25 again. I love the wisdom of no fucks given. It is far more useful than youth and beauty. Looks will only get you so far, and if you have based much of your existence around them you will not like the future. You did not peak in high school or your early twenties. I promise. Being able to look past what’s directly in front of you, being able to see you for what you’re made up of, beyond just physical attributes, is a power far greater than outward physical beauty.

 

So, do all the things to savor your youth, ‘cause you know I do. I eat right, I exercise, I get lots of sleep, and I use excessively expensive skincare. There’s no shame or waste in trying to age gracefully. Just because you’ve learned the magical lesson of not caring doesn’t mean you should no longer care, it just means that you can do all the other things with less thought and preoccupation of “I hope I’m pretty enough” or “good thing I’m pretty” Go start a business, finish your degree, have a child, have another child, leave a shitty relationship, do all or none of these things. Just do them with the incredible, innate knowledge that you are perfect just as you are, at the age that you are, with your father’s nose, your forehead wrinkles, and your sun freckles.

 

Read more

Facing Your Inner Truth: The Courage That Gets Us Moving | by Tiffany Harbrecht

Categories: Fit | Posted by: Suzy Shulman

Improvise, adapt and overcome—the marine mantra that has played in the background of most of my adult life. With two parents who served in the Marine Corps. (I do not dare say “former” because they say “Once a Marine, always a Marine”), there was always a strong emphasis on resilience. For that I am eternally grateful.

I started thinking about adaptability after I read a very lofty article this morning, in which the author went on and on about the importance of being adaptable in our rapidly changing technological, economical and geopolitical global environment. He was trying to emphasize the benefits of adaptation and change, in response to the stress we experience as a result of these rapid societal changes.

While I appreciated his use of “I statements,” I couldn’t help thinking there was a missing piece in his argument. As someone who feels like I have an incredible amount of resilience, I believe that adaptability is NOT the only thing we need overcome adversity.

Sometimes it’s nice to hear someone say, “You can do it!” We can all definitely use a little cheerleader in our lives from time to time. We all have stories of when we needed to reach deep inside to find the strength we need to go on. I can detail numerous occasions in which I’ve had to improvise, adapt and overcome against strong odds, the most recent being cancer.

But being resilient isn’t just about our willingness to change. You can easily have that part covered, and you will very likely still experience the stress that comes with those challenging situations you face.

So how do you address the headspace you’re in? How do you reconcile a cognitive dissonance between wanting to be as optimistic as possible and the pain and/or fear you may feel simultaneously? Or, do you have to wait until that subsides before you move on?

The author posits that even those who are strong sometimes throw in the towel before picking up the torch and marching on. I want to talk about that. That’s where the real change happens. Whatever goes on in your head in that period of time—that’s what makes the difference.

The author would say there is always something you can do to move forward.

I disagree.

I think you need address the inner you before you can move forward. Improvise, adapt and overcome. The Marines are on to something. In fact, I think “improvise” is the piece this author was missing. That’s where we start to figure out what we’re facing, and regardless of whether we understand why it’s causing us stress, fear, anxiety, pain, etc.

That’s where we do the work.

Statements like, “You’re better than you think you are,” are meaningless without a hard look at who we are in relation to what we’re dealing with. That is not meant to sound negative—quite the opposite actually. Get real with yourself, and you’ll find awareness and an awakening of strength you may have never felt before.

This is less about a “can-do, believe in yourself” attitude and more about the acceptance that your current situation is far different than it used to be. Your world has changed. It may be permanent, like cancer or the loss of a loved one or temporary, like the grueling physical challenges of extreme sports or recovering from an injury, but that starting point of improvisation is the same.

Adaptability is not a choice; it’s a result. It’s what we do after we face what is in front of us and improvise. I will be the first to admit that much of my stress in adverse situations comes from my rejection of what is happening in my life. There is a large part of me that doesn’t want to believe it, to the point that I hope I could wake up and it will have all been a dream.

The talented singer, Lauren Hill, once said, “Fantasy is what people want, but reality is what they need.” I often go back to that. Recognition is courage. And courage is what will take us to the next step. When you are open to face your inner truth (for my philosophical friends, that can be with a little “t” or a big “T”), of seeing your life as it is now, not as it once was, that’s where you will find your strength.

I often hesitate to share any of my experiences with cancer because I don’t want to put that journey on a pedestal. My adversity is not greater than yours. I am not better than you because I’ve overcome something life-threatening. Everyone’s reality is justified.

When you’re ready, take a look at how you can improvise in your life. It doesn’t mean that you are healed from what plagues you, and you don’t have to be. But facing life is what will spur change.

Read more

This Is The Most Important Thing You’ll Read Today

Categories: Fit, Happy | Posted by: Suzy Shulman

I am incredibly lucky. I have the most amazing women and men attend my classes and fill my day with awe and respect. Many show up wanting to move but are trepidatious because of age or injury or combination of both. Every so often, a person comes to class who changes my opinion of what is possible.

 

This month’s post is about a specific woman who through hard work, determination and beautiful spirit overcame what would have set many mere mortals back a lifetime. This amazing woman sent me a testimonial that I felt compelled to share, partly out of shameless self promotion and partly as proof that anyone can do anything they set their mind too.

 

This is her full testimonial:

I’m a 53-year-old woman that is finally able to start enjoying life again.

 

Five years ago I was a gym rat. Monday through Friday, 5:00 AM, I was there. I worked out on the machines religiously. A year in, I began having back problems; turns out I had both a compressed disc and a bulging disc. I put on bed rest for three months, then only allowed light work and some walking. My weight was spiraling out of control from a lack of exercise and menopause. I was working my way back, but due to continued pain, I was significantly limited in what I could do.  

 

My sleep was also significantly impacted as well. The most I was getting was four hours before the pain woke me up. My doctor’s only and very frustrating response was, “It’s going to take time.” Then I broke a toe.  

 

Once again, my movement and ability to workout was seriously altered. By this time, my core strength was gone, my back was worse than ever, and my quality of sleep was abysmal. More weight gain, and less muscle. This was a horrible downward spiral, I was resigned to just live with it.  

 

Through all of this, I lost the ability to do all the things I loved—horseback riding, snowmobiling, fishing (the back twist when casting would put me in spasms), and gardening. I started working out again and re-broke the toe. Back to square one.

 

After an additional four month of healing, I was determined to try again.  A co-worker mentioned Suzy’s class. It’s during lunch, and I felt secure having a buddy to go with. At this point, I was shaped like a weeble and thought “WTF.”

 

The very first class I was impressed. First, Suzy came and welcomed me to the class, and she meant it.  Second, she asked if I had any injuries. When I gave her the short version of what had been going on, she didn’t flinch; she didn’t snicker; she just listened. It felt good to be heard and not dismissed.

 

As class progressed, I discovered that there was no “You must do it this way and this many times.” It was empowering to have alternatives for the moves that weren’t working for me. She would call out, “Lois, do it this way instead.” I may have been pitiful at planks and squats, but with Suzy’s encouragement, it all seemed very doable.

 

I continued to go to the classes, and slowly I found that I was able to do more and my form had dramatically improved. Suzy noticed every improvement, and let me know: a quick thumbs up or a quiet “Nice.” If I am having trouble with one of the moves, she is right there showing me a better way or correcting my position. When she introduces new moves that are hard, she will quickly quip, “Just try it,” and if it doesn’t work or feel right, she is right there with alternatives. And then just like that, I can seemingly do anything.

 

Suzy creates a positive atmosphere without a whiff of competition; do only what you can do. Listen to your body is the mantra. I have found that the goal for Suzy’s classes is not how much weight you have lost but rather what you can achieve at your own pace.

 

Did I mention there’s laughter? Lots of laughter. A fitness class where you laugh? Who knew? We groan at some of the moves, or giggle, or some weird and funny groan/laugh combo, and that is OK. Actually, it’s encouraged. We are there to improve ourselves, and we get to have fun. It’s a win-win.

 

Within the first six months of attending Suzy’s classes bi-weekly, I was able to sleep for six or seven solid hours a night. I’m unable to put into words just how significant this is.

 

I was also able to start helping with chores around the house, stacking wood and gardening. This past winter, after being in the class for eight months, for the first time in years, I was able to go snowmobiling with my husband. It was a four-hour trip on a glorious bluebird sky day. The next day, my husband and I had to clean the snow off the roof with roof rakes. Monday I woke up and was just a little stiff, but no pain. None.

 

Wanna know why I had no pain? Suzy. Her method works.

 

I have regained parts of my life that I thought I were gone forever. I have gotten my life back. What else could you ask for? Going to the gym doesn’t even come close to the full body workout that I get and enjoy with Suzy’s method.

 

And now you know why I had to share. Her words reinforced my belief that my method of exercise really is for EVERY BODY.
She is why I do what I do.

Read more

Thinness Isn’t Fitness

Categories: Fit | Posted by: Suzy Shulman

Last week I received the usual Wednesday morning email from Lululemon. I​ noticed the model’s body right off the bat,​ a body that will always be foreign to most us. I was struck by just how out of touch we are with what women who exercise look like and the way women who represent fit and healthy living are portrayed. The woman I am speaking of, and you all know whom I’m talking about (and so many of my blog posts have talked about before). She is thin, all her muscles are visible under her taut, tan skin, she often has long, flowing, beachy-waved blonde hair, she has a broad, white-toothed grin across her wrinkle-less face, she can bend in all directions and her thighs definitely don’t touch. She’s basically a living, breathing version of a Barbie doll, and that’s supposed to be our fitness role model. What_ the_ fuck.​

Oh hey, you know what?! My thighs touch. I don’t have six pack abs and I’m certainly not blonde. Here’s the clincher, I am supposed to be that women. I am a fitness professional. It’s not only my job, but it’s my life. And yet, I am very few of things listed above. I am not one dimensional. I am constantly reminded that society wants me to be something I am not. I am reminded daily that I should be plastic and not real. And I am angry about it.​ I am angry so many of the women I teach hate themselves. I am angry and sad that so many live in comparison of the pictures they see.

I have several mantras I repeat to myself on a very frequent basis (this helps with the insanity). One of them is to breathe, just breathe. Breathe when it’s easy, breathe when it’s difficult; Breathe! Another is that I am satisfied with who and what I am. It’s ok that I am not what I see in the media. I am perfect, right here and right now. These words keep me present and aware that I am different and that difference is awesome.​

You don’t have to be thin to exercise. You don’t have to be wearing the latest and greatest to go to a class or the gym. You don’t have to be anything other than you. You are perfect.​ You are are unique. You have muscles that may be tight. You are flexible in some places and rigid and stiff in others. You can do some moves but maybe not all . You exercise because you love to not ‘cause you have to. You are not convinced that visible ab muscles are a sign that one is in good shape. You KNOW that thigh gaps are insane. Inhale, exhale and then let it the fuck go.​

One of the biggest problems that exists in the health and fitness world is the absolute and singular vision of what fit men and women are supposed to look like. Men are expected to large, beefy giants. Their bodies defined by being heavy set and bulky with very little fat and an absurd amount of unpliable muscle (read: inflexible to the point of injury). Women, on the other hand, are portrayed the exact opposite: lithe, small and almost invisible. I have a lot of feelings about this first type of woman. She is so far from what so many of us could ever look like.​ She ​is unable and incapable.​ She​ is a relic of a time gone by.

She represents the type of woman I don’t want to be.​

She tells me that I need to go through extreme deprivation, I should not, nor can I ever enjoy food. To be her, I would have to sacrifice my limited free time to push through grueling and intense cardio sessions. I​ would have

to stop being me and become something that doesn’t love or feel or experience fluctuation.​ This is not what life is all about. This is not what having a solid and healthy body image is. We are not static, we are not immobile. We are in constant change and movement. She i​s not.

So why strive towards such ridiculousness?

Because we are told that this is what we are supposed to be. We are sold images of bodies with thighs and hip ratios that in other parts of the world represent starvation and oppression. We are then sold the idea that if we can’t or don’t meet this criteria we are wrong and bad. We should be ashamed and that we are failures. I see this all time in my profession. Women, gorgeous, curvy, healthy women who hate what they are and only see happiness in a fantasy future version of themselves. They are angry about a 6 pound weight gain, angry that when they look in the mirror the image is not slight and invisible. If you think I don’t understand and that I don’t experience this from time to time,​ you are wrong, so wrong. I feel the eyes of the women in my classes on me when I am bloated, I notice them noticing that I am heavier than I have been. I field their questions about weight loss, I tell them it doesn’t matter, I tell them they’re perfect exactly as they are. They never believe me and I don’t blame them. As long as our media continues to feed us a singular, sick and distorted image we can never change, either physically and mentally.

There is room in this story for you and your unique shape and style. There is a place in society for women to be as they are with (perceived) flaws and all. There is a spot in time and history for women to stand up and say Idon’t want to look like what you want me to look like.​ We can change this. We can make it so that media changes the images they are selling us. We can change the voice in our head. Find yourself, find movement that suits your lifestyle and then start singing it praises. Get on the highest mountain top you can find and shout out loud how awesome you are how great you feel. Your confidence and exuberance will turn others on and then collectively as a community of brilliant and strong women we can incite change.

This is why I created the method I teach. It allows my body to not only work hard and gain muscle, but also maintain flexibility. It makes feel as good as I look. ​I don’t wanna spend hours a day in the gym. I wanna workout, get sweaty and then do whatever else my heart desires. I want to know that my workout compliments my lifestyle, being able to run sprints with ease, carry heavy grocery bags all on my own, and not need help with anything that’s physically taxing. My method gives you the look of a capable and self-reliant, grown-ass woman,​ because that’s what it’s all about. Being independent, being able to be the best you possible. It doesn’t matter what you weigh. It doesn’t matter what you’re wearing. What matters is you loving you loving you.

And now repeat after me, BREATHE.

Read more

A Recipe And a Life Lesson. A Lecipe

Categories: Fit, Happy | Posted by: Suzy Shulman

Many of you are unaware that I am in the midst of putting together my first Teacher Training in the method I created. It has been a long, often rocky, usually broke road. I worked 2(or more) jobs, 7 days a week for over 3 years. I always knew that I wanted to teach teachers. I would go to other classes and be unable to do what was being asked of me because I was so aware that the teacher wasn’t teaching; they were doing. I wanted someone to correct my form, or give a way to make a move mine because they could see and understand that my body wasn’t getting it. I realized that this was where I was needed. I made the decision to start recording the moves I was teaching and the order they went in. And so my training manual was born.

 

If you’re all like, what does this have to do with a recipe, hold on, Im getting there.

I spent roughly 5 hours yesterday putting the final touches on the verbiage for the manual. I was cross eyed when I finally got up from seat. I got some sage advice from my counselor (i.e. Mike ) and called it a day. I would get up early the next day and finish before my work day started.

 

I got up this morning and did my usual thing. I was ready to destroy and conquer, I sat myself down in front of my computer and…. nothing. I need to write a mission statement. This should have spilled out of me like a gushing river. This training was all me, all that I preach, all that Ive done for years. I_couldn’t_get_a_single_word down. Frustrated, I did the next best thing, Pintrest! I came across a recipe that a friend of mine had posted. Cauliflower “bread.” Yummy I thought.

 

Im not one for following orders, a recipe none the less. I scanned the post and set out to make it the Susannah Shulman way ( you know, the only way)  Amazingly, I had all the ingredients I needed. I closed my laptop and stepped into the kitchen. I love cooking and baking. I love the freedom and the attention to detail. I love that when Im creatively stuck, I can go to my kitchen and just flow.

 

This was the easiest thing I have made in a long time. I set the oven to 400 degrees, Food processed the shit out of 2 heads of cauliflower, added salt and paper to taste, 1/3 cup flax meal, 1/2 cup Romano cheese and 1 cup Daiya Mozzarella cheese( you can use real cows milk chesse if your innards aren’t made of porcelain like mine) I lined a baking sheet with parchment paper and spread the mixture evenly, it resembled a flat bread.Bake for 25 to 30 min, flip so both sides are browned. Let sit for up to an hour and then shove into mouth. I put Avocado on mine.

So heres the life lesson: I lied, there really isn’t one. Or maybe, when in doubt make Gluten Free, Grain Free Cauliflower Bread and write an exercise manual.

 

 

 

Read more
  • @strengthxbalancevt
  • VISIT US
    25 Winooski Falls Way
    Winooski, VT 05404
    Get Directions
    (Next to public parking garage and Winooski rotary)