Blog Archives

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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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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I don’t want fixes for anything that jiggles

Categories: Fit, Happy, happiness in life, Happy | Posted by: Suzy Shulman

Between teaching classes and seeing private clients, I have plenty of downtime to research the latest and greatest in fitness and what diets are trending and what’s falling out of favor. I spend an inordinate amount of time on social media sites like Facebook and Pinterest (in addition to reading NYT and LAT wellness blog like it’s my job, which I guess it is). These are invaluable sites for me because they give me a greater understanding of what people are looking for in terms of weight loss and fitness.


The problem with a lot of the stuff out there, especially on places like the Health and Fitness board on Pinterest, is that many women believe that the images looking back at them are what they themselves are supposed to look like. Even I have fallen victim to this multiple times. These sites remind me very quickly that my body doesn’t measure up. I am clearly too short, too thick, and far too large to possibly represent what a woman in the fitness industry should look like.

I stare at my computer screen and wonder: if I, who LOVES my body and is PROUD of what it can do, can fall victim to such images, how do women who have lower self esteem deal?


Reading widely has also shown me that most people want to reap huge rewards from spending as little time moving as possible. Recent headlines include things like “Drop 10 LBS by Friday,” and the post was from Wednesday evening. Other favorites include: “How to have a better butt in 3 min, 6 fixes for anything that jiggles, get killer abs by doing nothing at all!” (This was actual headline from a magazine that I will let remain nameless.) It seems to go on and on and on.


I think about my journey into the fitness world, and  why I started to work out. It was  of a pure desire to change the external (only to learn that I needed to change the internal voice before I could possibly enjoy the external image). I actually believed some of things that I read. More important, I believed that the pictures staring back at me were accurate depictions of what truly fit women’s bodies look, and that I, too, would look like that.


Here’s the cold hard truth: I will never look like them. I will never have long, lean limbs. My strong, thick thighs will gobble up shorts that get in their way, no matter how many inner thigh exercises I do. I will not weigh 120 lbs.  The more I exercise, the more muscle I gain. I will not get “skinnier” if I run more.


I don’t want fixes for anything that jiggles. I want exercise moves that turn me on and makes me feel good. I want the internal and external to both be happy. My body will always have curves.  I will fluctuate in weight and will still love what I see in the mirror. I will do more than 3 minutes of exercise because I love to move and want to do more than that.  I want to think, breathe, and sweat.

What I really want is an accurate depiction of fit women. Long, short, thick, thin, brown, black and white.

What helped me to quiet the voice that is so strongly affected by these images? Im lucky, I have an incredible ego. Seriously, no joke, I have always really liked myself, even when I have been a different size and shape.

My self worth is defined by my inner dialogue. Outward appearance is a by-product of a strong mind and set of deep seeded morals and ideals that I own and make work for me.

If you are having trouble hearing that voice than listen to mine. I will tell you that I love what stands before me. You are a force that takes up space and its awesome.


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You Can Have It All. Eat Right Without Being Chained To Your Stove

Categories: Healthy | Posted by: Suzy Shulman

Oftentimes I don’t get home until well past 7pm.

I am often ridiculously tired and the last thing I want to think about is making dinner for myself and my partner. This isn’t because I don’t love to cook or that I’m lazy, it’s that almost 98% of the food I eat is homemade. It’s not just because I believe that the path to health and longevity is through whole foods and movement, but because I also suffer from extreme food allergies and sensitivities.

I don’t cook from a box and I order take out very, very infrequently. I cook. Not just when it’s convenient, not just when I have unlimited time to play and design, but every fucking day.

When I’m tired, when I’m overwhelmed, when I’ve been up since 4:30 am and it’s fast approaching 8 pm and I just walked through the door.

I cook.

I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one trying to stay healthy while working long hours for what often feels like not enough money. Trying to pull off Gwyneth Paltrowesque feats of culinary enlightenment after a 16 hour day is, well, just not what I want to do. So I’m gonna be honest – it’s just not happening, at least not exactly.

We, the mere mortals, have to take a different approach.


The answer is simple: planning in advance


Setting aside 1-3 hours, on the same day every week, will allow us to come home late without having to worry about whether there’ll be something nutritious for us and our families to eat.

Eating delicious food that makes us feel good also gives us a little bit of pleasure, and a little bit more time to relax.

Sunday is usually my cooking day, when I see my last client at 2 or 3 and I’m home by 4ish, but you have to pick the time and day that works for you. I am fortunate that my amazing partner has done the arduous task of going to 5 different stores to buy all the different foods I need (very honestly, I’ve had partners before who do not help out in this way, and it makes the process about 50 times harder and longer.)


So, all in all and by and by my message is this

You can have the life you want, with the foods you want to eat and the time to make it all happen. It’s about planning and prepping (and having a partner or a family to help is even better).


Here’s an easy 3-step guide:

1. Have a running list of foods you and your family like to eat. Keep a dry erase board on your fridge and as foods run low or out, right them down.

2. Everyone has at least 2 favorite meals that they can make in bulk, make sure to keep your fridge and pantry stocked with these ingredients. In my house we always have frozen organic chicken thighs and ground bison.

3. Figure out a schedule and stick to it. Routine will make everything better.


Tune in next week when I talk about some of my favorite recipes!




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What Goes Up Must Come Down

Categories: Fit, Healthy | Posted by: Suzy Shulman

I love the “up”.

I live there, teach there, practice there.

“Up” allows me to be here and now and yet not at all.

But here’s the thing…

What goes up, most come down.

A person cannot live in a constant state of “up”.

Embracing “the down”

Before I began practicing and teaching restorative yoga, I was constantly focused on being “up”. In fact, I’m not certain I even considered the possibility of a “down” state existing.

But, I always had this nagging feeling that this constant “up-ness” I lived by was not sustainable.

Through restorative yoga, I have learned the value of being down, coming down, and even…gasp…enjoying “the down”.  It provides a juxtaposition to my typical state of being.  My life is the yin; Restorative yoga, the yang.

Discovering Restorative Yoga

Restorative yoga has been an evolving practice for me that has spanned nearly a decade.

I attended my first class because I was “at the end of my rope”.

I was a full-time waitress and my body and mind were spanked, done, finished.

I was tired and irritable.

My patience with myself, and others, was nonexistent.

In the hopes of reversing or counteracting the negativity, I began attending more “power” yoga classes.

Hey, it’s yoga. It calms you. Right?


I was so wrong.

What I came to realize was that my body and mind needed time to just be, to release, to find ways to finish on going conversations in my head.

Through supported poses, I found calm for my overused and sore muscles.

Through breathing practices, I found recovery and an understanding of the need to train smarter, not just harder.

As a result of my practice, I found that I now recover better after intense workouts and weeks.

I found that as long as I find my “down”…every once in a while…I can go up exponentially.

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