Happy Healthy Fit Guide

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.


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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.

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Don’t cry for me Gluten eating people

Categories: Happy, Healthy | Posted by: Suzy Shulman

I am writing this in response to a blog post I recently read. In it, the author is recounting  a dream they had about garlic bread. Seems innocuous, but the author, like myself, has celiac disease, and the dream described the horror and anxiety of eating something with gluten. I instantly understood and sympathized.


But then I had this overwhelming sensation. I wanted to yell and scream at the author. I wanted to tell them, “Get over it!” Not eating gluten is really not a big deal. I want others with celiacs—and those who have opted to not eat gluten as a lifestyle choice—to stop asking for sympathy. Stop writing about your loss of gluten like it’s your lovers untimely death. And I want other celiacs to stop giving non-celiacs ammunition to chastise or stereotype us. Do not feed their fire.


Let others understand that we are healthier and happier on our unique diets. I want people to stop asking me, with shame and pity in their eyes, “Oh my god! What do you eat?!”


The same fucking things you eat dummy.


I am like a lot of people who have digestive disorders. There are multiple food groups I cannot tolerate. In addition to celiac disease, I am lactose intolerant; I am allergic to eggs; I am allergic to tree nuts, and I can’t really eat rice or corn. I have innards made of porcelain. And you know what? I’m fine.


In fact, I’m more than fine. I am fucking fantastic. I have beautiful, blemish-free, wrinkle-free skin. I do not have a single gray hair. I have consistently maintained my weight for the last 10 years. I have incredible muscle tone, and I am strong—like really, really strong.


I sleep like a rock. I wake with ease. I got into bike accident about a year ago, I bounced back in a matter of weeks. I have no joint pain, and I have not been sick in so long that I can’t actually remember when the last time I was sick.


So when you ask me, “So, what do you eat?” and you shame me cause you can’t believe someone could live in this world without gluten/dairy/eggs/rice/corn/tree nuts, I’m gonna tell exactly how I feel. I feel fucking fantastic. I eat all the same things you eat, just homemade and free of offending ingredients.

And to all of you who need the world to validate your dietary decisions, stop. I can’t listen to it anymore. Find the silver lining. Find the awesomeness in how healthy you are, whether you are gluten-free or not.


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Categories: Happy, Healthy | Posted by: Suzy Shulman


1. Always trust your gut instinct. If it doesn’t feel right, look right or smell right—run. Don’t look back. Just go.


2. Try everything on. That’s true of clothing, lovers, exercise, diets, underwear, especially underwear. There may be nothing worse than ill-fitting panties. Wait, I lied—socks that slip into your boots and bunch up at the bottom, that’s the worst.


3. You are a constantly evolving beast; remember this when deciding who you want to be and what you what you want to do with the rest of your life. Who and what you are today may be completely different in a month, and that’s OK.


4. Trust that you can guide yourself to always live your best life possible. Knowing that change is inevitable makes it awesome.


5. Dye your hair pink. Because why not?


 6. Be bold. Make political statements. Be unwavering. Just do the appropriate research to back up your loud mouth.


7. Don’t shave or wax anything on your body because somebody else thinks it looks better.


8. Never let a bigger ego out-ego you. You’re the tits. Bite back.


 9. Always wash your face before bed, and while you’re at it, use a moisturizer and lip balm.


 10. Don’t fight aging; it’s a losing battle.


 11. Invest in the best you can afford.


 12. Live within your means. Credit cards are a trap. Cash is queen.


13. Move—all the time. Lift weights; do pilates; walk. Understand what Kegels are; learn how to use them, and surprise the shit out of your lover.


14. Fluctuate, ‘cause it’s healthy. Gain weight, lose weight, gain 10 pounds back, lose 15 more and then gain some back. Then gain the knowledge that it doesn’t matter. Learn to love and accept your body for what it is today, not what it was or what you imagine it could be. Be fat, be thin, be whatever you want, but definitely don’t let these things define you.


15. Spend some time working in a restaurant. At least once. You will learn everything you need to know and then some.

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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.

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