2016 Year in Review

Saturday, December 31, 2016

At the end of last year's year in review, I concluded by saying that I wanted to blog more, but that is actually what I did the very least of. There have been so many times where blog post has been written in my planner on my to-do list, but it's always fallen to the very end. So I'll start by saying that in 2017, I am going to write more. Let's start there.

Oh, 2016.

I know that I'm not alone when I say that 2016 was a tough year. For me personally, it was a doozy and while there were lots of really great things that happened, I'm really looking forward to a fresh start tomorrow.

When I look back on everything individually, I'm happy to report that there were definitely some good things that it's been nice to reflect on as I've sat down to write this post.

Over the course of the year, I got to travel to Nashville and NYC again, and also experienced my very first cruise. All 3 trips were amazing for all different reasons.

The cruise was awesome to take a break, see my Beachbody friends and experience something entirely different. It was so much fun to explore, partake in all sorts of activities, workout at dawn with my favourite trainers, have awesome nights out and of course, meet Stan the dolphin.

Being in Nashville again was just as much fun as the first time around. The energy at Summit is always infectious and I continue to cherish time with my Beachbody family. I loved exploring new parts of the city, getting re-energized about this biz and generally nerding out over all things Beachbody related. I also stayed in the sweetest airbnb on my last night with the most lovely host! It was a really really wonderful trip.

And NYC was exactly what I needed. This second half of the year has been rough, and I decided that a trip on my own would be good for my soul. I saw 5 shows in 3 days, ate all sorts of delicious food, visited with friends and relished the energy of my favourite city. A full recap of that trip is coming in the new year.

I continued my fitness journey, completing a variety of programs that were all very different! With all of the challenges I was facing, I found myself in a place where I wasn't feeling great about my body in this last half. I recently completed my first round of an MMA style program that re-ignited my excitement and gave me some incredible results in 30 days. I'm kicking 2017 off with round two and I'm pretty stoked to jump back in!

My work life has been awesome, but hectic. At MT, we said goodbye to a cherished team member, welcomed two amazing additions to the team, launched a charity cookbook, ran the Culinary Nutrition Expert Program and oh-so-much more. I was recently promoted to Operations Director and I am really looking forward to the things we're going to do in 2017.

Additionally, I've continued to grow my biz as a health and fitness coach and I still absolutely love it. Our groups continue to grow each month and I am looking forward to diving into 2017 with our January group. I'm looking forward to continuing to grow our team, developing myself as a leader and helping even more people feel like their very best selves in the new year.

I also got to celebrate the marriage of my best friend (& adopted little sister) Jessie over the summer. It was a beautiful wedding and I felt so blessed to be a part of her special day.

Amid all of that, I found time to ride Cecily around the city, meet Tony Horton and Shaun T, visit with friends, see incredible shows, share a post on xoJane that sorta went viral, Fringe it up, read some amazing books, create delicious meals and even perform too (videos herehere and here)

And I got another tattoo.

this too shall pass (courtesy of Aaron at Speakeasy Tattoo)

This couldn't have come at a more perfect time and continued to serve as a reminder as the year went on.

Right around the time that I got the tattoo, we went through some scary health stuff with my dad and then 2 months later, my nan suddenly passed away. I kept looking down at my arm and tried to remind myself that things would keep moving forward and that this too would pass.

A hard summer turned into a tough fall and an even more difficult holiday season. Corbin and I went through a hard time this year. After defining what some of the issues were, we went to therapy together and really tried to be a team as we faced our problems. I'm writing this post from my nearly packed up bedroom with empty walls and a handful of hangers still in the closet. We broke up a week before Christmas and I'm getting ready to move into my own place on January 1st.

It's still very raw and very sad. Our relationship was incredibly special and I will have a lot of great memories - many of which have been captured on this blog. I have a lot of love for Corbin and all that we've shared. I've also learned a lot about myself and what I need throughout this process. I didn't think it would end up this way, but I feel confident that we're both going to come out on the other side even stronger as individuals. It's so so hard, but it's the right thing for us at this moment.

So now I'm here on the 31st, feeling very ready to turn the page and begin again.

I'll spend the day finishing up packing and preparing to move into my new place tomorrow. I'm going to be living on my own for the first time and it feels very liberating, whilst also being scary unknown territory for me. I've been spending more time than usual on Pinterest and I'm looking forward to creating a space I can thrive in. Tonight I'll be ringing in the new year with friends and tomorrow I'll start a fresh page in my gratitude journal as we load my belongings onto a truck and into my new apartment.

In the past I've picked a word that would be the theme for the coming year but I'm not exactly sure what that should be for 2017 just yet. I think I need to sit with it before I make a choice (I may have just signed up for this email series to help as well). I haven't set goals or intentions either, though perhaps I need to get clearer on that, especially if I aspire to blog more in 2017. On that topic, writing this post has been cathartic - take note, future Ashley!

I feel very lucky to have had an incredible group of friends to support me through all of this. I know that I wouldn't be standing without their love and support.

While 2016 has not been my favourite year, I hope that in time I can reflect on all of the good and the fun that also happened in a year filled with tragedy, sadness and anxiety. I also now have a permanent reminder of some sage wisdom, and can look down at my arm in case I need a reminder.

Here's to new beginnings. Happy New Year, friends xo

You are Missing From Me

Friday, November 11, 2016

Tu me manques. You are missing from me.

It seems so much more fitting than just “I miss you” as we say in English. And 18 years after my mom’s death it almost feels redundant and insignificant to say that I miss her.

But I do.

I realize her absence when I’m really excited about something – whether it be a new job, a great day, a cute dress, a new friend, an exciting opportunity.

I realize she’s not there when I want to pick up the phone and call her to talk about a tough decision or challenge that I’m facing in my life. Even up to age 13 I always felt that I could talk to her about anything. I watch friends and family members and colleagues and movie characters and complete strangers talk with their mothers, and I am reminded that I can’t do the same. That’s what moms are there for, right?

I miss her every single day and over the 18 years that she’s been gone I’ve noticed the mom-shaped space in my life. It's not empty, but more like a shadow that is always present. 

This year we lost my Nan. It brought up old feelings and more sadness. While our relationship had its challenges, I loved her and she was still a connection to my mother. Hearing that her house had been sold was a blow to my heart – I had so many memories of my mom in that space and visiting there was such a comfort. That’s gone now too.

With each passing year that she’s gone, it reinforces the fact that she’s not coming back. This isn’t some long vacation or holiday or visit to another country.

As the years go by I continue to wonder what my mom would be like - would she be happy to celebrate her birthday? Would she be on Facebook? What would our relationship be like? What kind of music would she enjoy? How often would we connect? How different would my life be with her in it? I don't know.

Today would have been her 55th birthday. I like to think we would have celebrated. But instead she is missing from me and every single poppy reminds me of my loss. I know that they carry a strong significance, but I can’t help but associate Remembrance Day with another birthday that I won’t get to celebrate with my mom. 11/11 feels like an extra painful day.

Every day my mom is missing from me, but today I'm feeling the loss more significantly.

Happy birthday mom. Tu me manques. 

Let's Go - Starting with Core De Force

Monday, November 7, 2016

Today marks day one of my journey with Core De Force, and as I talked about last week I don't think I've been this excited to get started with a program in a long, long time!

I've spent the week test-driving the Core De Force workouts and I'm stoked to officially jump in with the full 30 day calendar today. This has been a tough year and my body is not where it was. To be completely honest, I'm feeling frustrated, sad and a bit embarassed about this. I am such a huge advocate for healthy living and loving your body, but that's something that's been really tough for me of late. I want to write more about this in the future, but I'm feeling optimistic and empowered today to be starting with this brand new program and really giving it 100%.

In anticipation of getting started today I've gotten ready by:

  • taking my measurements
  • snapping before photos
  • making a meal plan
  • doing some grocery shopping
  • prepping some meals
  • I did my meal plan and grocery shopping from Monday - Thursday by hand and then hit the grocery store yesterday!

    The little colour coding system at the bottom of my meal plan refers to my allotted containers for the meal plan each day. This program follows a similar version of the 'Portion Fix' program that is used in 21 Day Fix, 21 Day Fix Extreme, Cize, and more. I'm in the 'A' category for the meal plan. I kept things fairly simple for the week and I'm also looking forward to sampling a few of the recipes from the Core De Force meal plan guide. 

    I spent some time on Sunday doing a little meal prep (which included protein waffles and chilli) and made a couple of tweaks to my meal plan:

    This is mostly based on the fact that a) the protein waffles didn't really turn out as planned (the first one was a COMPLETE disaster!) and b) I realized I was going to be eating out on Thursday night and needed to move things around a bit. In any case, I'm all set with meals!

    I'll be getting up each morning to get my workouts done. The workouts are 30-47 minutes long, so I'll be up at 6-6:30 each day to get them done! I'm thankful for our November accountability group which is getting started tomorrow because I'll have an awesome group of challengers and coaches to help keep me accountable!!

    You may be wondering why my meal plan only goes Monday-Thursday... well that's because I'll be in New York City Friday-Sunday! I'm thrilled to be spending a weekend in my very favourite city. It's been 2 years since I've been back (check out my last trip here for the food and the fun) and I've been missing it! I'll be drinking my Shakeology, carrying on with my workouts but visiting all sorts of restaurants and having great adventures. I can't wait!

    Okay Core De Force, let's do this! 

    Interview with Tony Horton

    Thursday, August 25, 2016

    I was sitting in a coffee shop sometime in July waiting on some friends and I saw a flyer for canfitpro's World Expo. Now I'm familiar with canfitpro and their annual event, but what really struck me about the flyer was that Tony Horton and Shaun T were staring at me from the front.


    I have a passion for health, fitness and wellness, but these were my people! And I wasn't going to pass up an opportunity to see Tony and Shaun here in my hometown!

    The world fitness expo is Canada's largest fitness expo and an opportunity to hang with 15,000 other fitness enthusiasts, trainers, instructors and vendors. 

    I scored myself a ticket, planned out my day and the next thing I knew I was gearing up to interview one of my favourite Beachbody trainers - Tony Horton! I was persistent about getting this interview and felt so lucky to be able to make it happen bright and early on the Saturday morning. What do you ask someone who you've been following for years and who you recently spent 8 weeks for 22 minutes a day?

    Tony and I talked about motivation, his favourite workout program, letting go and more. Check out our interview below!

    You’ve trained celebrities, people in the military, everyday people like myself

    Tony: you’re not an everyday people, you’re an extraordinary people and you know it

    So what is one struggle that you see among all people – is there any common challenges that you see?

    Tony: Is there one? We always want that one, when it’s really about a dozen. 

    But if anything was to pop into my head I would say that motivation and diet are the two biggest issues in people. I think if they’ve figured out a way to stay motivated, and their reason why is rock solid and they were able to make healthy food taste good, then I think the problem would go away. It really comes down to those two things. 

    Obviously hydration, sleep and the company that you keep – these are all things that matter as well, but really just understanding why you exercise, how often you exercise and the kinds of exercise, and you should have a variety of exercise and you shouldn’t be so attached to the outcome of exercise. You shouldn’t focus so much on your appearance and your ego and what people say about you and all that nonsense, and just focus on what you need and do whatever you need to do and do it poorly – but poorly is a helluva lot better than not doing it at all. And then the second part of that equation is just eating well. I mean there’s a healthcare crisis because people can’t eat well. And it seems so simple – it’s crazy.

    I saw a study last week that said that 75% of Americans think they’re eating healthy.

    Tony: yah, a lot of them think they do. And they tell me “I’m doing everything right” and then I’ll just kind of be at an event and watch them eat and I’ll think “Are you out of your mind? This is garbage” Because they’re avoiding bacon at three meals a day, they think they’re killing it. 

    But all the fruit juices, and all those sports drinks and all the chemicals and salt, and the sugar and the garbage, and saturated fats that’s really where people are getting into trouble. I had an event recently where I asked a room of 800 people who ate 5-6 servings of vegetables a day – breakfast, lunch and dinner, and of the 800 people maybe 12 hands went up. So HELLO!

    It’s easy when we get excited and we have a goal, but then it’s making it a habit. What would you say to someone who has been working out for awhile and they’ve started and they’re stoked, but they struggle to keep that momentum and motivation going.

    Tony: Without [health, wellness and fitness], you’re surviving just like anyone else. But with it you thrive and it gives you the energy and enthusiasm to take on more in your life. And so if you understand that and you want to take on more, and have the energy and enthusiasm to really get outside your comfort zone, think outside of the box, have more experiences, have more adventures, improve the quality of your life today, avoid the illnesses that occur as we get older, that’s why I do it. 

    The whole idea here is to try and stay as youthful as you can. If you train every day, you will stay as youthful as you can and if you don’t, you’re going to slip. And you’re going to age at the typical rate. 

    I have this expression that people give me a hard time about, and that’s ‘aging is for idiots’ and what I mean by that is aging is for people who aren’t willing to do the work to prevent the typical form of aging. It can’t be sporadic and it has to be for that reason – not for the typical reasons that we do it. For the inches, the weight and the dress sizes and for the compliments. Those things are nice, but if you’re living and dying by that, then you’ll never succeed.

    You’re known for saying ‘do your best and forget the rest’ – so often we dwell on ‘the rest’ – how do you let go of that.

    Tony: Well you know a lot of time, the rest doesn't have to do so much with our thoughts of what we can or can’t do and how we compare ourselves from the past and how we hope to be in the future; A lot of it has to do with our expectations. 

    If you have very low expectations you’re going to succeed. Just have really low expectations, but show up. But don’t try to knock it outta the park or concur the world. "I want to go rock climbing so I’m going to start with Mount Everest". You know, for a lot of people 22 MHC or P90x is Mount Everest. You have to kind of start with the modifiers – I’m the modifying king. But the rest also has to do with the company that you keep. 

    I talk about it in my book – new haters and blockers. And sometimes we’re a new hater and what I mean by that is we don’t like new things. New things intimidate us, they scare us and so we avoid them even though that new thing is going to improve our lives – say like, a smart phone – that’s a new thing in the last couple of years, but everyone is willing to figure it out so that we can participate in the process of communication better than they used to. That’s what P90x and 22 MHC is – they’re a new thing and you have to figure it out. And you have to be willing to do that because you care about who you are. 

    And then the other group of people are blockers. And blockers and new haters are pretty much in the same category. New haters hate new things and they’re always going on about how much this sucks and that sucks and times are changing. And they’re afraid to learn and they like it the good old fashioned way. Whatever the hell that was. They’re walking around with a horse and buggy? No. Forget it. Catch up with everybody else and participate in the modern world. 

    You are the company you keep. Can you imagine if your best 5 friends were world class mountain bikers or rock climbers or surfers or snowboarders and that’s who your peeps were? Then you’d be really good at one of those things and you wouldn’t have a health issue, you’d just be kicking ass every day because your environment is awesome.

     But most people’s environment – their friends, their family, their bosses, their coworkers, siblings or whatever are bitching and moaning about how shitty life is and you need to run from them. Run away from them and find some really cool people. And if they’re not in your immediate area, you can go sign up for a class or go on the internet and find people who are doing neat things and join them or you know, that’s what Beachbody coaching is – it’s an opportunity to find like-minded people online or at events in your area, like Super Saturdays or Summits so that way you know, there’s a change in mindset because there’s a change in physical environment and who you’re around. You can do that if you’re willing to do that, and you’re willing to be a little bit uncomfortable and a little bit scared, then life will get better. Yay!

    Do you have a favourite one of your workouts or is that like picking between your children?

    Tony: My favourite right now is 22 Minute Hard Corps

    Tony: It’s so good. And here’s what’s so great about it. There’s a bunch of new people coming into the fray who would have never done one of my programs. A lot of people look at my programs, like P90X or P90X2 or X3 and they think they're too extreme. And for a lot of people who have 100 pounds to lose, they took an approach that allowed them to get through it. But a lot of people don’t even want to go there. 

    And so 22 Minute Hard Corps gives a lot of people who are maybe doing 21 Day Fix or maybe just going on walks an opportunity to participate in an intense 22 minute workout. That time frame – if people can’t do 22 minutes then you just don’t care. 

    But P90X is what brought me here, that’s my first born child and 22 Minute Hard Corps is my youngest child. And you always have to have a strong feeling about that.

    If you look back at your career what’s the biggest risk you’ve taken?

    Tony: Probably stand up comedy. That was a major stepping stone for me – getting up onstage with my shtick and trying to be funny in front of people and it’s such an immediate thing. 

    Unlike if I’m developing a program, I have a lot of time to look at it and see what it will be like and even all my “jokes” are not predetermined. They’re spontaneous. And having been an improv actor and liking comedy, I’m just a fan of laughing. Making people laugh, it takes your mind off the pain and the agony. But just getting super comfortable in front of large groups of people and interviews like this, on camera with 3 cameras and a cast. That’s what acting did and taking those classes did, you know it’s all about presentation and delivery. It’s about creating a persona that is interesting for people to watch. 

    Why is anything popular? If it were somebody else in P90X, would it have been as popular? I don’t know – maybe. Maybe they would have had to bring their own persona to that equation. But that’s it – just making this whole process fun, that was a big stepping stone for me. Learning that it was okay and I could do it my way, using my style and my technique.

    One of the things that I talk about a lot on my blog is mental health, depression and anxiety – is that something that you’ve faced in your life and in your career?

    Tony: Hell yah. I mean anyone who is eating poorly and not exercising is going to have some sort of that, especially if they’re lacking purpose. People who are fired up on what they’re doing then they don’t have as much of that. 

    What ends up happening when you’re depressed or sad or frustrated or overwhelmed is that you’re usually spending most of your time thinking about you. Like “woe is me and my problems and I don’t have this going” and then there’s a combination of that and a lot of finger pointing, typically. Like “oh my life sucks and I’m not doing well, and I don’t have enough money and I don’t have a boyfriend” and yadda yadda yadda – it’s his fault, her fault, their fault and mom and dad’s fault. Yah – you gotta stop doing that. 

    There’s two things you can control to help turn that around. And that’s what you eat and whether you exercise or not. And so when you eat well and you exercise, you create a chemical shift inside of your brain. Because all those feelings that you have are chemical reactions inside of your head. It’s lack of dopamine, serotonin, brain drive, neurotropic factor – these are chemicals that occur when you breathe heavy for 20-30-40-50 minutes. And the harder you work and the more you breathe and the more often you do it, then there’s a dumping of these chemicals inside the temporal lobe. And so you read John Ratey‘s book Spark and you think “Oh wow, I have to work out today because I’m not in a good mood". If I work out today there’s a sort of a shift that goes from “I can’t” to “I can” and that’s what physical exercise does. 

    You have to combine it with food because food is another form of chemicals. You’re not going to see the physical, mental and emotional shift if you’re not eating well. Both of those things are hard. Both of those things require discipline. And they both require a plan. And they both require you to hang around the kind of people who are doing it as well. 

    And if you can figure all that out – then you just feel fired up, and you feel like you can try things and you’re less fearful. And you’re less anxious. You’re less frightened. And you’re less scared. And it’s purely because you worked out. I mean – most people don’t know that. They just think that working out is something they do so that they can run faster or lift more or look good. And those things occur as well but those are just ancillary after effects. They aren’t as important as exercising purely for the purpose of becoming a happier, joyful person. That’s what really it’s about.

     I loved chatting with Tony! He's got lots of fun stuff coming up including a cookbook, a couple of TV shows / web series, and continuing to travel across the globe sharing his awesome workouts and approach to life with the masses. 

    I can't wait to share more with you from my time at canfitpro world expo!

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