Essential Oils

It seems essential oils are becoming more popular lately…unless it’s just my obsession that’s growing!  Yup, that’s quite possible haha There are sooooo many uses for them and so many benefits!

Here are just a few:

Lavender – to relax, improve sleep, decrease stress and anxiety, promote concentration

Tea Tree – antibacterial, fights harmful organisms

Eucalyptus – antimicrobial, alleviates congestion, reduces headaches, relaxes muscles

Jojoba – heals wounds, improve skin appearance, reduces acne

Rosehip – corrects dark spots, hydrates dry skin, reduces scars and fine lines

Frankincense – anti-inflammatory, disinfectant, digestive, diuretic

Peppermint – alleviate headaches, nausea, indigestion

Grapefruit – supports metabolism and cellulite reduction

Sandalwood – natural aphrodisiac, improves energy

And then there are also really amazing blends out there that provide multiple benefits AND smell amazing, without irritating your nose like many perfumes and artificial smells do!

Keep in mind that some of the above benefits come from applying them topically, and some from having the smell dispersed into the air.  I absolutely love my Saje diffuser and the tranquil/happy/energetic (basically whatever mood I need) atmosphere it creates in my home.

What are your favourite aromatherapy scents and essential oils?

xo,
Sheena

MoMondays

My talk from MoMondays – February 20th, 2017:

A little bit of backstory – for several years, I’ve struggled with self-esteem issues.  I’ve done a LOT of work on myself, making a conscious effort to become more confident, more mentally strong, and to get out of my shell.

A year ago, I decided I wanted to do a fitness competition…the one where I’d need to get super skinny and ripped, and then pose on stage in a blingy bikini.  I had been wanting to for a couple years, ever since I became more exposed to the fitness industry, and a year ago is when I finally felt mentally ready.

Going into it, I knew it would be intense and would take a lot of hard work and discipline…but I did not expect to be faced with the challenges that came up for me.

So this is how it went down:

I committed last February (2016), for the competition coming up this March (2017).  For the first several months, I was hitting the gym regularly and cleaning up my diet.  Then life happened, I let myself get distracted from my goals, and very gradually I started losing progress.  In October, I started to binge eat everyday, far past the point of feeling full, and I was in complete denial of it.  How I saw it was that I was still meal prepping regularly so my main meals were healthy… but I ignored the fact that I was munching on cookies and chips and noodles and perogies late at night.  Over the next few months, I continued to gain weight and by December, I realized that I was too far off track to compete in March without it being an incredibly stressful and unenjoyable experience.  On December 31st, I made the official decision to not compete anymore.  I realized it was going against all the things I promote on my blog…like well-being, happiness, and self-care… The competition was no longer important to me.  My health and happiness were.

Unfortunately, my rough patch didn’t end there.  The restrictive diet and intense training got the best of me and I started to have minor health issues and major emotional struggles.  It wasn’t just the fact that I gained weight nor the fact that I couldn’t fit a lot of my clothes anymore (though that part was frustrating too), but I started to feel different.  

  • My energy was low and I started to depend on coffee.  I never used to drink coffee.
  • My gut health and digestion went downhill.  After every meal, no matter what I ate, my stomach would balloon out and feel very uncomfortable.
  • I became insecure again.  All that self-esteem that I had worked so hard to build up over the past several years was gone.  It wasn’t all just about the physical aspect, but I felt insecure about my credibility…as a Health & Fitness Blogger, a Wellness Coordinator at my work, and a Personal Trainer in the making.
  • I just didn’t feel truly happy, and it affected how I went about my days, my weeks, my months.  I would have moments of depression.  I found myself crying out of nowhere, just because I was so tired and frustrated for feeling the way I felt.
  • My entire body became super tense from the anxiety, limiting my flexibility and certain movements, and then I started to have issues with my back and shoulder, preventing me from training.

To try and remedy all of this I was seeing my counsellor, naturopath, dietitian, chiro, RMT, physio…I was going in for acupuncture, cupping, and IV therapy…I tried taking time off the gym to let my body rest… all of this helped a LITTLE bit, but it was mostly a very tiring process having several appointments a week with no sure answer of what was wrong or what I could do to get me feeling back to normal.

It’s only in the last couple of weeks that I have started to feel progress, perhaps because I really wanted to have something inspiring and insightful to share tonight.  

  • I started counting calories for the first time ever, using MyFitnessPal app, and it’s made me aware of how much overeating I was doing.  
  • My chiro also started doing Active Release Therapy on me, to help with the scar tissue that built up from weight training.
  • I’ve been doing everything I can to alleviate any stress or anxiety – like meditating, writing in my daily gratitude journal, going to yoga, practicing deep breathing, running my diffuser with essential oils, and other “herbal” remedies.
  • I’ve been making a conscious effort to be gentle with myself, to be patient and kind and avoid any negative self-talk that I have been SO good at in the past.
  • I’ve been seeing my counsellor and at my last appointment, she said something that really resonated with me, actually, it kind of blew my mind.  She said to continue to workout regularly and focus on making myself feel good and enjoy the workout…rather than exercise to try and lose weight.  Instantly, I was excited to hit the gym.  A couple days later while I was studying my Personal Training textbook, I read to model positive reasons for exercising (feeling good, improving health and fitness level) rather than for negative reasons (looking good, losing weight) because that tells clients that they aren’t good enough…and that’s exactly what I was doing to myself.  When I was trying to get my weight back down to where I was before, I was only focussing on that, rather than enjoying my workouts like I used to, and that is why my progress suffered and my stress increased.

So that is basically what my health and fitness journey has been about for the past year, and honestly, I was hoping I’d have my shit together prior to this evening, but it’s still a work in progress…and that’s okay!  Through this experience, I learned how important self-compassion is.  It makes all the difference in the world when I’m nice to myself, rather than filling my head with negative self-talk all day long.

As tiring as this process has been, and as much as I just wanted to give up, I knew that it was happening to me for a reason…because really, EVERYTHING happens for a reason.  I have learned something every single day, whether it be about myself, the way my body works, the health and fitness industry… and what kept me going was my WHY. I so strongly believe that health and fitness changes lives for the better, in more than just a physical way, and I believe that my soul purpose is to inspire others to lead a fulfilling, happy life through health and fitness.  When I start to feel frustrated for falling off track with my goals, I remind myself that everything I learned from my experience over the past year will benefit those around me and my future clients.  I’ve now experienced some mental and physical challenges, and can help them prevent or conquer similar challenges that come their way.

I am super excited to feel healthy and strong again, inside and out. I am super excited to get past my anxiety. And I am super excited to inspire others and be a role model for them.

And I just want to say a HUGE THANK YOU to all my friends and family who have been there to support me tonight and throughout my journey. I am ridiculously blessed to have you all in my life, so thank you, thank you, thank you.

If you are interested in sharing your story at a MoMondays event in Vancouver, let me know and I’ll get you touch with the organizer 🙂 These are real stories by real people – the more vulnerable you let yourself be, the more you can inspire others.

xo,
Sheena

“I love you” – self

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“Because I always have a choice, I choose love” – Deepak Chopra

I have mixed feelings about Valentine’s Day, especially being single for it this year.  And though I never think you should wait for February 14th to show your significant other some gratitude, I’m still happy for those who are in love and expressing it to the world.  Do I feel bitter with the over-the-top marketing all around me?  A little.  And that’s when I remind myself to just breathe, cause it’s all good 🙂  I don’t hate Valentine’s Day, and I don’t pretend to not care about it.  It’s there, and it likes to divide those who are in relationships and who aren’t, but we can combat any of the negative feelings associated with it by focussing on ourselves and our loved ones…and a few drinks with some close friends watching live music (’cause that’s what I’ll be doing tonight!).  I have a ridiculous amount of things to be grateful for and am blessed to love so many people and have so many love me too.

In hindsight,  this phase of my life is giving me the opportunity to really connect with myself.  This is my time to figure my shit out so I can use less energy on all the negative self-talk and lack of self-confidence, and more energy on being productive and making a difference in this world…the things I really want to do!

My health & fitness journey hit a bit of a rough patch over the last few months, and I am only just starting to inch out of it now…slowly but surely.  It was a big reminder to be gentle with myself, to be compassionate with myself, and to love myself.  So as I continue on my journey towards a healthy, happy, fulfilling life, I thought I’d share some of my learnings on how to increase SELF-LOVE.

  • Tell yourself “I love you” – like really tell yourself that!  Have you ever looked yourself in the mirror and told yourself “I love you”?  Go try it.  You may feel a bit silly, or a lot silly, but once you get past that self-judgement, you’ll feel all warm and fuzzy inside.
  • Mention yourself in your gratitude journal – Show yourself gratitude by acknowledging all the amazing characteristics and unique traits that make you YOU!  Be thankful for the person you’ve become…mentally, spiritually, physically.  Feels good, doesn’t it?
  • Meditate – Try a self-compassion meditation.  When your mind naturally wanders to whatever is troubling you, acknowledge it without judgement or self-criticism.  Remind yourself you’re not alone, and offer yourself kind words like you would to a good friend.
  • Positive affirmations – create positive emotions by repeating affirmations that create joy within yourself.  Examples would be “I am enough”, “I lead a purposeful life”, and “I am capable”.  Write them out and put them where you’ll read them daily, it’ll increase the chances of your subconscious mind picking up on it.
  • Date yourself – Put as much effort into your relationship with yourself that you would in a relationship with a loved one.  If you’ve been wanting to go out dancing, go out dancing!  If you’ve been wanting to pamper yourself, pamper yourself! It’s all part of self-care and the more of it you do, the better you’ll feel about yourself, and the happier you’ll be.

The more we love and accept ourselves, the more we can love and accept others.  So this Valentines Day, love your loved ones, but don’t forget to love yourSELF first…because you deserve it.

Happy Valentines Day!

xo,
Sheena

My Fitness Journey – plot twist!

If you’ve been following me here on my blog or over on my Instagram, or if you know me personally, then you probably know that I’ve been training to compete in a bodybuilding competition happening in March 2017.  Over the past few years, I’ve grown a love (and almost an addiction) for fitness, and it’s basically become my life!  I love health and fitness, and it’s benefitted my life in so many ways that I want to share it with the world…so I do that through social media and soon, personal training.

Well, my fitness journey during my competition prep has been a bit of a bumpy ride.  I made my decision to compete this past Spring.  I was hitting the gym consistently, feeling pretty good, and ready to take on a new challenge.  In the Summer, I lost my focus a bit but was still training consistently and eating well for the most part.  I started seeing my abs come through and felt quite lean all over.  Then October hit and I turned 30, and according to everyone I’ve talked to recently, that’s when it all catches up to you and your metabolism changes.  I don’t know how much of that I believe but the timing was impeccable!  In a few short months, I gained 20 lbs pretty much out of nowhere.  No joke.  Some of it I’m sure was muscle, as I’m stronger than I’ve ever been, but a lot of it was also fat.  My clothes didn’t fit properly, I’d have to unbutton my pants to sit, my skin constantly felt tight all over my body, I felt bloated 24/7… and I’m not sure why I’m saying this in past tense, because this is how I feel right now.  For the past month, I’ve been very consciously trying to lose the excess fat in preparation of my competition by doing fasted cardio almost every morning, drinking lots of water, sticking to my meal plan, and lifting weights 6x a week…but instead, I just gained a couple more pounds.  As you can imagine, this became very frustrating and stressful, and the pressure to be ready to step on stage in March increased each and every day.

So here’s the kicker – I’ve decided to drop out of the competition!

That’s right, I will no longer be participating in the fitness competition.  Before you judge me or feel sorry for me or do any of that negative shit, know that I don’t see this as a failure at all, but rather as a win!  It’s been an incredible learning experience, and I truly believe this a positive step and the right move towards my own personal health and well-being.  This whole prep was going against all the health and happiness tidbits that I promote, and it had me feeling very stressed and overwhelmed.  I was trying to juggle two jobs, study for my personal training course, work on self-development and my overall health, maintain a social life, take care of my dog, and complete other small projects.

Regarding the weight gain, I felt like it was partially due to stress and my body resisting all of it, because how is it that I’m working my ass off at the gym and eating well, yet still constantly gaining weight?!  My body has never reacted this way, and it felt very unnatural.

I’m not completely shutting the door on competing in the future (I’ve already paid for the 2017 membership and ordered my shoes lol), but the fact is, you don’t see all the struggles that some competitors go through pre- and post-competition, you don’t see them break down or gain eating disorders, you only see the glitz and glam and them looking in amazing shape on stage.  Training for a fitness competition is INTENSE, and props to all of those who reach the finish line…I have SO much respect for all of you.

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So, the new year brings a fresh start!  I will take this opportunity to set new targets, get my health back on track, focus on my priorities, and learn to be gentle with myself.  My fitness journey is certainly not over, it has only taken a slight turn and the process will only become more enjoyable from here on out.  I’ve learned a LOT along the way – where my limits are, who my support system is, what my priorities are… and now that I’ve gained clarity, I can focus on what I love and what’s important to me.  Since making this decision, a huge weight has been lifted off my shoulders and I feel incredibly excited to move forward.

A HUGE thank you to all of my friends, family, and colleagues who were so supportive of me and cheered me on.  I am incredibly blessed to have such amazing people in my life.

January will be the month of getting my shit together.  I will be clearing mental space in order to take care of myself and repair my overall health, and in turn, that will give me more energy to help others and spread wellness!

Thank you for reading this and being on this journey with me.  I hope it has inspired you and opened your eyes to see that you always have a choice.  Just because you’ve committed to something, it does not necessarily mean you are locked in and confined to that specific decision.  You can change your approach and still achieve the same goal in the end.  My ultimate goal was to get in the best shape of my life and inspire others to live a healthy, happy, fit life.  I chose the drastic route that ended up being too much, so now I’ve simply chosen the route that is healthier for me, mentally and physically, and that’s a win in my eyes.

xo,
Sheena

My Fitness Journey – 12 Weeks Out

Prepping for a competition is not easy.  I never thought it would be, but I’m facing challenges I didn’t expect.

In mid-November, I came down with a real bad cold.  I was stuck in bed for a good 5 days, and it took 2 full weeks to have enough energy to get back to the gym.  During those 2 weeks, I also ate like sh*t because all I craved was comfort food and didn’t have the energy to meal prep.  As my cold finally came to an end, my home acquired a flea problem and to ensure that we got rid of them completely, I moved out for a couple of weeks.  Although the transition was stressful and tedious, I switched my view on it and treated it as a blessing.  It was a staycation for me, myself and I, with an opportunity to explore a different neighbourhood, AND it was minutes from both the gym and my work.  So that was that…a couple hiccups before my official prep began on December 1st.

With regards to my diet and mental state…for a couple months, as I ramped up to December 1st, I started getting intense cravings for both salty and sweet foods…like, INTENSE.  I couldn’t understand why I was giving into these cravings so easily, I had zero willpower.  I was still meal prepping consistently but I would be eating what was on my meal plan PLUS snacks and several treats even when I was full.  I gained 20 lbs since the Summer, and even though I saw it happening and knew I was moving in the opposite direction of my goals, I could not stop myself.  After investigating was going on, I discovered it was a mixture of an electrolyte imbalance, a hormonal imbalance, and then good ol’ stress eating.  Once I became completely aware of this, I weaned off the sweets and started controlling my cravings again.  It wasn’t easy though, it was actually really difficult.  It took the help of supplements from my naturopath to help balance my levels out again, plus support from friends and colleagues who made sure that I didn’t touch the sweet treats that are literally evvveerrryyyywhere during the holiday season, plus rebuilding my discipline within myself.

Another thing I realized is that I needed an in-person trainer.  I previously had an online coach and as much as I love and admire her, I need someone in closer contact.  Also, since it’s my first competition, in-person training and posing practice will be a lot more effective for me.  I’ve now hired my good friend, who likes to go by ‘Coach Phung’, as my trainer!  Since I’ve started working with him, I’ve become EXCITED (rather than stressed) about the competition again, and HOPEFUL (rather than defeated) to achieve amazing results over the next 12 weeks.

It’s incredible what the right style of support and guidance can do.  I feel completely re-motivated for my competition now.  I haven’t even been with him for a week and I’ve already seen progress towards my goals.  I feel a LOT more disciplined and focussed now…basically, I am game on.

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I wish I had some amazing and inspirational progress pictures to share with you, since it’s been 5 weeks since my last post, but I don’t.  I fell off track, had some physical/mental/emotional challenges, and now I’m just starting to gain momentum again.  I want to be real with you, I want you to know that we all have downfalls and struggles, but it’s how we conquer them that matters.  Don’t let yourself get stuck in a rut.  Seek support, surround yourself with the right kind of influence, write positive affirmations and reminders, prove to yourself how capable you are, and NEVER EVER lose hope.  You are honestly your only limitation, and though I write about how my coaches/friends/family/colleagues supported me (and have done an AMAZING job doing so), it was ME who took action in asking for the help.  Stay focussed on your goals and you will get there, regardless of what challenges may come your way.

xo,
Sheena

Extended Health Spree

It’s almost the end of the year and our Extended Health Benefits are about to expire!  I don’t know if it’s the Asian in me, but I totally love taking full advantage of my benefits…because why not??  It’s the perfect way to take care of yourself without breaking the bank, AND the professionals who are eligible for coverage are usually more educated and experienced.  For example, a Registered Massage Therapist (RMT) at a clinic or spa usually provides better results than the average masseuse because they know the science behind all those moving muscles and joints.

Here are some places in Downtown Vancouver that I recommend, and also frequent myself.

SKN Holistic Rejuvenation Clinic
#150 – 1152 Mainland Street, Vancouver
Specials

Why I love this place: I was going here regularly for their Dermapen (micro needling) service, to minimize my old acne scars.  I was greeted so warmly by all the staff (with perfect skin, I must add) every time I went, and although it’s a clinic, the atmosphere and treatments made me feel like I was at a spa.  What my wallet appreciated about SKN Clinic was that they offered monthly specials which grouped together services and products for a significantly lower price, AND there would often be packages paired with Cosmetic Acupuncture, which you could claim up to $99 through Extended Health!  Amazing, am I right?

Vancouver Sports Massage
#108-885 Dunsmuir St, Vancouver
Book online

Why I love this place: Camelia’s hands are magical.  Those were the words in someone’s reviews that convinced me to try her, and I have been seeing her regularly ever since!  She knows how to target issues and relieve tension in just one session.  Since I’m easily ticklish, I find it hard to find the right RMT…but she applies the perfect amount of pressure and leaves my muscles feeling completely relaxed!

Yaletown Wellness
878 Hamilton St, Vancouver
Services

Why I love this place: This place offers awesome acupuncture services by Melissa.  She’s super knowledgeable and explains what each needle placement does.  They offer 3 types – one for health, one for weight management, and one for face.  I’ve tried all 3 now and can see them all offering benefits with regular visits.  Can’t wait to go back!

Other great paramedical services that we’re usually covered for:

  • Dental
  • Dietitian
  • Naturopath
  • Chiropractor
  • Social Workers

All of the above are great for self-care, so might as well take advantage of them if you’ve got ’em!

Where are some places you recommend?

xo,
Sheena

 

12 Ways to Combat Stress

Despite the fact that December is a month filled with love, laughter and celebrations, it can also be one of the most stressful months of the year.  Work deadlines to meet, holiday shopping to do, dinner parties to prepare for, out-of-town friends or family to entertain, obligatory functions to attend, more toll on the wallet…and not to mention the darker, gloomier weather.  Ugh.  If you weren’t stressed before reading this post, I bet you are now! haha

Well, let me share some uplifting tips on how to alleviate stress any time of the year, especially now.

Breathe | Take a deep breath in…and release.  Take another deep breath…and release.  Visualize yourself breathing in the good stuff and exhaling all the bad stuff.  Feels good, doesn’t it?  Repeat until you feel more relaxed and your chest feels less tight.

Cuddle | It’s proven that cuddling, hugging, kissing, and other acts of physical touch increases oxytocin levels, which reduces stress, anxiety, and blood pressure.  So grab your cuddle buddy and improve your health!

Eat Well | The foods you consume play a huge role in how you feel, physically and mentally.  Fill your tummy with superfoods like leafy greens, berries, salmon, avocado, and some dark chocolate too.  Avoid sugar, gluten, and processed foods, as they could result in mood swings or irritability, and that’s no fun.

Exercise | Gotta love those endorphins!  Just a quick 15-minute workout could change your whole mood. Turning to fitness is 100x more effective and productive than turning to comfort food to ease your stress.  You come out feeling accomplished, happier, energetic, and more fit!

Gratitude | List 10 things you’re grateful for each day.  There is always something to be grateful for, literally always!  List the people, things, opportunities, and blessings that you’re grateful for.  Remember to show yourself some appreciation too, you deserve it.  You can even show gratitude in future-tense to attract them into your life!

Laugh | Watch a funny video, browse some memes, read some jokes, let your friends entertain you… laughing out loud can instantly ease your stress.  Learning to laugh at yourself helps too!  Life should never be taken too seriously, ever.

Listen to Music | Blast your favourite tunes, sit back, and enjoy…or sing and dance like nobody’s business.  When you’re feeling down or stressed, play music that will lift your spirit.  My go-to music is EDM and I’ll use Spotify or YouTube to search for playlists to boost my mood or pump me up for a happiness-inducing workout.

Meditate | Practicing mindfulness can do so much for your soul.  Learning to be completely still while focussing on deep breathing forces you to feel nothing but relaxed.  I am still learning how to be better at this, and the challenge lays in getting my mind to calm the eff down.  One guided meditation app that I really like is “Stop, Breathe & Think”.  Check it out, it’s free!

Reach Out | Never ever face your struggles alone, that can be very toxic for yourself and those around you.  If you’re feeling upset or unhappy about something, reach out to a friend, family member, counsellor, furry companion, stuffed animal…anyone!  Let it out and don’t be afraid to confide in someone.  People appreciate when you keep it real.  After all, we’re only human.

Treat Yo Self | I’m a firm believer in pampering yourself (aka: self-care) and that can be done in many different forms – take a bubble bath or do a face mask, book a spa treatment (double-win if you book an RMT and have it covered by extended health), treat yourself to a nice meal, buy yourself something you’ve been wanting (without breaking the bank and causing financial stress), or lay in bed watching a movie.  You deserve to be pampered and it’s healthy to learn how to care for yourself.

Unplug | We are so glued to our phones and computers all day long, and there is so much happening on social media that we don’t often get a chance to slow down and just be present.  Turn your phone on ‘DND’ – disconnect from the world to connect with yourself.  Go for a walk and really take in your surroundings.  You’d be surprised at what you notice on routes you take everyday!

Write | Another way to release is to write in a journal.  This is your safe place to share every nitty gritty detail with guaranteed zero judgement and zero interruptions.  Letting it all out on paper is a way to release feelings you’ve been holding on to.  Be sure not to approach it as a way to get all frustrated again, rather think of it as a healing process.

With that, I hope that you got a few take-aways to help get you through the hectic holidays.  Like I said, life shouldn’t be taken too seriously.  We are incredibly blessed to be on this earth and often times we get so caught up in emotions that we forget to see the big picture.

If you have any stress-reducing techniques you’d like to share, I’d love to read them in the comments below.

Wishing you and your loved ones a happy, healthy holiday season!

xo,
Sheena