Many people choose to live their entire lives in comfort. Doing only the things that they are familiar with. I believe it’s only when you push those boundaries, stepping outside of the things that make you feel comfortable are you able to grow. Sometimes these are small steps and sometimes this are large leaps. I took a leap two weeks ago. I decided to high tail my butt out of Toronto and emerge myself into Costa Rica for a month after getting married only two weeks before. I jumped out of my comfort and into 30 days in Costa Rica filled with a raw vegan diet, intense daily exercise, high workload to manage, putting myself in the position to face my business fears, a new unfamiliar culture, all new people, and the dreadful jungle bugs.  Anyone who knows me knows dealing with bugs is enough to get me antsy. I leaped out with not a comfort zone in sight other than my amazing pillow that I travel everywhere with and a shirt that smells like my husband to help me through missing him. My time here at Epicself has been an incredible journey so far. I have seen great changes in my body, owing to our Yoga, Pilates and Myofascial Release classes as well as consuming a raw vegan diet.

Keeping up a practice of Yoga and Pilates has always been something I’ve struggled with for the past few years. Although I’ve know the multitude of benefits the practice can have on the body, I have never been able to keep it up consistently due to the limitations of my body caused by past injuries. Each time I’ve tried to incorporate yoga into my life, I’ve been left with the feeling of discouragement and frustration with my body. And to be honest, anger! I would experience horrible excruciating cramping in my feet, legs and hands, as well as pain in my right sh9oulder which would intensify with each class leaving me unable to continue or finish the class. I also recently started experiencing lower back pain from a more recent injury. The more I practised, the worse the pain got with each session. When I arrived, I was also experiencing an intense pain in my left ribcage under my shoulder blade that only arrived after I landed in Costa Rica. I had no clue where it came from but made some poses very difficult to do.

After years of dealing with and working through chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia and other aliments, I found it extremely challenging to feel more energized and motivated after workouts. It’s difficult to keep up something that doesn’t make you feel good after doing it. Even though I had been going to the gym regularly before my wedding crunch time and had been trying to stay as active as time permitted, my body still felt like it was something I was dragging it to do.  I always felt I had to really push myself to workout after going to my previous health problems and still dealt with energy slumps after workouts.

For the first time in my life, I feel like I’m actually targeting the problematic areas that I feel have been preventing me to be active in the ways that I truly enjoy instead of the boring gym  Amber’s myofascial release classes coupled with her personalized approach has made a world of a difference with my body. Aside from the yoga and Pilates strengthening of the mind, body, and soul, I feel like the myofascial release classes have been most impactful.   For the first time in my life, I feel like I can consistently keep this up! I feel like I can keep up Yoga and Pilates and I am so excited to see how my body will change for the better over time. Amber has taught me techniques I can use daily at home that will work out my problem areas. The cramping is becoming less and less rather than intensifying and I’m seeing my body lengthen and open.

Through the yoga, Pilates and Myofascial release practice, I have realised how important it is for energy to flow freely through my body, and how important it is to remove blockages of energy that I have. I now view my body as a complete unit, in which one area can affect another seemingly not directly attached.  For example, simply rolling out the balls of my feet with a tennis ball can realign my posture! That is quite the revelation, I must say!

Also the myofascial release has now strengthened and also released tension from my muscles, which enabled me to complete the hike to the Nauyaca Waterfalls without feeling completely whipped.  Typically I wouldn’t be able to do that hike, and even if I did manage it, I would be completely debilitated the next day…I’m definitely loving this change!

Amber has taught me how to move through the pain of my injuries, and that I can heal my body. Her classes have kicked my butt every time! It’s amazing how often my body has felt like jello after these intense workouts. Looking at people doing these exercises, you wouldn’t think that they were so difficult and that it would leave you sweating buckets but it does!. I’ve been working out muscles in my body that haven’t been worked out in years, and also working on muscles that I have been completely unaware of. It has been a great feeling to work through some of my challenges and actually see progress! Who doesn’t love progress!  One of the most challenging pieces to the yoga and pilates practice, breathing properly,. This along with keeping the proper form of course. I have found my breathe again! For the first time in my life, my body is feeling more open; more grounded. Amber’s knowledge, passion and incredible presence during our sessions is inspiring. I hope to continue to work through my body’s challenges and do my yoga teacher training course in the near future.

As for the diet change, being a nutritionist I normally eat healthy and understand how important it is to have a proper relationship with food and our body. But going raw vegan was an extreme for me. I usually consume meat or fish no less than two times daily. This is the first time I’ve ever gone raw vegan, let alone vegetarian! I was up for the challenge and a challenge I sure as heck got!. The transition has been difficult. Mainly because I’ve been experiencing detox symptoms that can come from drastically changing your diet and incorporating raw foods;  symptoms like overall tiredness, headaches, dizziness, brain fog, hormonal imbalances, weakness and lack of concentration. I’ve also needed to learn how to make sure I’m consuming enough protein using different options than meat. I began detoxing too fast for my body to handle so I’ve slowed down the transition to 80% raw vegan working up to %100.

I am however feeling lighter, and generally less heavier after eating. I have been able to incorporate more types of fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds, and superfoods into my diet. I’ve also made some very tasty recipes which have been a blast making.  I am feeling full from the meals very quickly due to the high dense nutrient profile of the foods, coupled with the intense Costa Rican heat. I couldn’t imagine eating heavy cooked meals in this heat.  One of my greatest takeaways thus far is that I’ve have realised that raw vegan food can actually be really tasty! The nut-free raw vegan burgers that we made with the raw vegan ketchup that tasted like Heinz Ketchup was absolutely amazing. Try them out! They definitely wont leave you disappointed. I’ve had the pleasure of learning to prepare tasty recipes, and then consuming them with satisfaction. I’ve also learned that I can easily incorporate more raw foods into my meal plans for husband and I, as well as my clients.  I am excited to see how the next few weeks unfold and am looking forward to continuing this journey exploring outside the box. Stay tuned!