Archive for category English Blog
A few days ago, we were featured in a magazine called “Aging Bible” (page 123), which targets women in their 40’s and 50’s. The magazine is published by Shueisha, and it comes out on an irregular basis. This edition is called 骨トレ, which means “bone training” if you translate it directly.
One well-known chef here in Japan, named Michiko Matsuda, has been practicing GYROTONIC® with me for about 2 years now, in addition to taking my husband’s manual therapy session for about 6 months. The article talks about her advice on what to eat in order to keep your bones healthy, as well as how GYROTONIC® helps to strengthen the bones in your body.
If you read Japanese, you can find the magazine at major bookstores:)
GYROTONIC and GYROKINESIS are registered trademarks of Gyrotonic Sales Corp and are used with permission.
How did you all spend the New Year holidays this year? Did you stay at your house, or did you go back to your hometowns to see your families? Here in Japan, many people visit their parents to have a special kind of meal together called Osechi, and to get Otoshidama, or money, which is a custom to give all children in the family on New Year’s Day in small decorated envelopes. Since we have been at my in law’s house every year since we came back to Japan, this year we decided to go to Nagano, where we were so lucky to be able to stay at a friend’s house and to go skiing. I had been looking forward to this for quite some time;)
As we have already finished the first week of this new year, I thought it would be appropriate to reflect on 2012, and also think about a plan for 2013. I don’t know about you, but for me the past year went by especially fast. More so than other years. 2012 included a lot of courses for me professionally, which helped me a lot with changing my body, both in terms of flexibility and in the way I look and feel. It started out with my certification course for GYROTONIC® in January, which I ended up wishing I had prepared myself more for. I couldn’t move as well as I wanted, so when I found out that the same teacher I had for that course was coming back in December to do a GYROTONIC® level 2 course, I decided to prove to myself and him that I could change and be able to move a lot better within one year. I can happily say that I reached my goal! I took the 3-day preparation courses for level 2 in June and October respectively, which helped me to get ready for the quite challenging 8-day course in December. With many more acrobatic looking movements than in level 1, I wasn’t sure whether my body would be able to perform these exercises, but as with most things, you never know unless you try! One thing that I believed helped me a lot was learning basic ballet from my friend in exchange for English lessons. Another thing I never thought I was able to do before.
As for 2013, although I will take some courses to keep learning and improving my skills as a Gyrotonic and Gyrokinesis instructor, my main goal is to work on and refine the skills I already have, as well as to get more organized and establish daily habits both in my job and personal life. There! I said it. Now that it is put down in words, there is no other way but following through. Up until recently, I was always in a rush to reach for something higher all the time, thinking that that is what I needed to do in order to survive. Although I know the importance of continually learning and growing, a very special person made me realize this past summer that it is okay to take time for this, and that I don’t need to be in a rush. This really hit home with me, and made me feel as if a lot of weight had been taken off my shoulders. That is why for this year 2013, instead of striving for something higher, I am going to take my time to hone the skills that I have, and to establish routines that will help set things up for more success in the future.
How about you? What is your plan for this new year that we have already started? Any new skills to attain, or current ones that you want to keep working on? I would love to hear about it in the comments below!
GYROTONIC and GYROKINESIS are registered trademarks of Gyrotonic Sales Corp and are used with permission.
How are you all surviving this hot summer weather?? (For those of you in Tokyo anyway).
This was the theme for today’s Toastmasters meeting that I attended. “How to survive”. I recently joined the Aoyama Lunch Toastmasters Club here in Tokyo to work on my communications and leadership skills. For those of you who don’t know, a Toastmasters Club is a place where people get together to work on their public speaking skills, and to gain more confidence in speaking in front of an audience. People of all backgrounds and goals can join, and it is a very safe and fun learning environment! Personally, one of my biggest fears is talking in front of a group of people, so I thought to myself: What better opportunity to grow and gain more confidence than to working on and overcoming this fear?
I have to admit that it took me a while to muster up enough courage to apply for a membership at the Club. In order to become a member at Aoyama Lunch Toastmasters Club, you have to attend 2 meetings as a guest first. My first attendance was together with my husband right before the earthquake last year, as he had been recommended to check it out by one of the experienced members there. In all honesty, after that meeting, I was very intimidated by the high level of speaking ability and professionalism of all the members, and I thought that this would be too much for me. I was scared!
Then, after not thinking about Toastmasters at all for a year, it suddenly came to my mind again this past April, and I knew I needed to get over my fear and challenge myself to attend another meeting. This time by myself. I attended the second time as a guest in May, with more confidence and determination to keep going and to join the club. I can’t tell you how happy I am that I did! Although today was only the 3rd meeting as an official member, I am already learning a lot, and feel very privileged to be surrounded and welcomed by so many experienced and wonderful speakers.
I did my first “Ice breaker speech” last month to introduce myself to the other members. Although I was nervous, it was a great experience, and not as scary as I thought. After all, the subject of my speech was a very familiar one. The great thing about Toastmasters is that you can totally do things at your own pace, and you can decide yourself when to hold your next speech. Obviously, the more speeches you hold, the better you get, but there are also a lot of other roles you can take during the meetings, such as being a timer for those who are holding the speeches, evaluating the speeches, or Toastmaster of the Day etc. There are different difficulty levels of the roles, and you can slowly work towards taking on more higher responsibility tasks. Today, my role was to count the Um and Ah’s, or unnecessary fillers people used in their speeches and talks. It challenges your listening skills and ability to keep concentrated.
How about you? Have you ever attended any Toastmasters meeting? Or, have you recently started any new and fun (or perhaps scary) challenges for yourself?
I hope to hear from you.
I am sorry for taking so long to follow up on my last post, where I talked about my “Crazy Sexy Diet” experience. It has now been a month and a half already since I finished the 21-Day cleanse, and I have to say that going through it was the best thing I could have ever done. It helped me to get started with the change I needed in my life. Although, I have to admit that I am no longer following as strict of a diet as I did with the cleanse. However, I am eating less meat and more vegetables than I used to, and using only soy milk with my cereal, as well as having no regular coffee at home. Although, I do drink it when I am out. Even though I am not as strict with my diet now, I notice myself craving less and less meat, and I feel that I will naturally move towards a more vegetarian or plant-based diet. I realized that the key here is the word “naturally”. Anytime we try to force ourselves to do anything, whether it is regards to our diet or something else, it just never goes well, as I am sure you have experienced.
Right after finishing the cleanse, I did a 3 day GYROTONIC® Level 2 preparation course with Authorized Master trainer Erika Hassan, which was a really fun and wonderful experience. I cannot tell you how happy I am that I did the cleanse before the course started. Had I not did it, I know I wouldn’t have been able to move as well, and my body probably wouldn’t have made the changes that it did. Although there is a limit to how much you can change in just 3 days, I felt that I passed my previous threshold on the last day, and am moving a little better than I used to:) What also helped this change to take place, I feel, was the fact that my mind was more clear and open towards new information after I did the cleanse. It is hard to explain, but I felt that I was ready to receive the stimulus to change.
Another thing that has helped my body to feel even better is spending more time in nature. Being lucky enough to work right next to the biggest park in Tokyo, I have been taking my groundsheet with me between sessions, and connecting with the earth and the green environment. I started this because I learned about a really interesting book called “Earthing”, which talks about the health benefits of connecting directly to the ground with your bare feet. By doing this, your body receives the healing energy from the surface of the earth, which automatically reduces inflammation in the body. I will talk more in detail about the book in a later post, but I can tell you now that I am feeling the effects of this with my own body! It is really amazing! And best of all, it is free! I have gone to Yoyogi park feeling a little pain with my neck and shoulder, and after lying down on the grass for 30 minutes to an hour, the pain went away! You should really try it for yourself. Even if you don’t have any pain, I can guarantee that you will feel more energized and refreshed afterward!
Have you ever read a book that totally changed the way you look at things? Well, I recently have been reading a series of books from an author called James Redfield, which is the most life-changing books I have ever read. What he writes about is something that I believe is very true, and it has helped me to realize many things about my own life and how I view things. Because the way I think has changed from reading these books, I can also feel my body changing as well. It is very interesting, and the first time I have experienced this. I will use another blog post to explain what his books talk about. Until then, I hope everyone is having a great summer!
GYROTONIC and GYROKINESIS are registered trademarks of Gyrotonic Sales Corp and are used with permission.
As you can see from the title and picture, I recently started a personal challenge in regards to my diet. I have been thinking for a long time now that I want to try detoxing my body, and I ran across Kris Carr‘s book on the internet a few weeks ago. I know, the title seems a bit iffy, right? At least, I thought so at first. But then I got to know about the author’s personal story, which is really amazing, and I just had to get the book. Kris Carr was diagnosed with a very rare type of incurable cancer when she was just 31 years old. Although some doctors gave her only 5 years to life, she decided to take her health into her own hands, and started to seek out all the best doctors and specialists in the United States. What she learned, she incorporated into her diet and lifestyle choices, and because of what she did, it has now been about 10 years since she was diagnosed. Although the cancer cells are still there, she is keeping them under control with her diet and the way she lives. In addition to her “Crazy Sexy Diet” book, which became the number 1 bestselling book on Amazon after it was released in January last year, she also made her own documentary which tells her story as a cancer survivor. I think she is a real inspiration not only to cancer patients, but to anyone who wants a better life for themselves.
As for myself, I have been struggling with my stomach as well as those horrifying red dots in my face (pimples) for quite some time now, and I started getting really sick of having to worry about it. Kris Carr’s book talks about eating a mostly plant-based diet, meaning raw food, and she explains how things work in the body in a very simple way. At the end of the book, there is a 21- day cleanse you can follow to start detoxing your body. Basically, you should try to eat only raw food (vegetables, fruits, grains, nuts, lentils and beans), and drink lots of green juice, but vegetables can be slightly sauteed or steamed. Things that you should avoid includes meat, fish, dairy products, refined sugar (sweets), coffee, alcohol, and wheat (This means only gluten free flour). Being a meat, bread, sweets and coffee lover, I was a little skeptical as to whether I could really do this or not. But, I decided to give it a shot!
Today is my 10th day into the cleanse, and I have to say I feel a lot better! Although I still crave Starbucks coffee and some sweets from time to time, I am surprised that it hasn’t been more difficult than it has. That is not to say that it has been all sunny and uphill. On the third day, especially, I experienced an emotional setback, and longing for some sweets and coffee;) But, I managed to stay away because I really want to see how much I can change within 3 weeks. Every 7 days I am supposed to do a food fast and only drink green juice, water and herbal tea. I did that on Sunday, and it went surprisingly well, until the next morning. Then I had some really bad detox symptoms feeling very nauseous and my body very lethargic. Luckily, that passed throughout the morning. I am realizing more and more how much of the eating we do is related to our emotions and stress, and how much less food we actually need in order to function well. Although I already knew this, I never got to experience it before. For example, now I only have a green juice or smoothie in the morning, and don’t eat anything solid until noon. At first, I though this would be impossible as I really love my breakfast, but it turns out I am not even that hungry! On Sunday, I went to the farmer’s market outside the United Nations University in Omotesando. I never knew about this before, but apparently every weekend they have a market there with farmers selling their vegetables, breads, oils, grains and nuts, as well as different food stands where you can get healthy lunch and juices! They have a nice variety, and I will definitely go there again!
Since I am only half way through the cleanse, I can’t tell you how it all went yet, but I can definitely say that I am glad I am doing this, and that I will follow through. I might even try to continue even after the 21 days. At least for the most part, although I think I will have the occasional coffee and sweets:)
I will let you know how things go as I continue with the cleanse.
In the meantime, did you ever try a detox diet before? How did it go? Did you have a hard time following through? I would love to hear your experience!
This is the big question we all ask ourselves. A lot of times it is not easy to find the answer because we tell ourselves a lie about what we think it is. We think that when we achieve or get this or that we will be happy. We tell ourselves stories like: “When I get a job, I will be happy”, or “When I get my own apartment, I will be happy”, or “When I find the perfect man/woman, I will be happy”, or “When I get my own car, I will be happy”. While these things can all make us feel happy in the short-term, I believe long-term happiness is not something you can get from anything outside of you.
Last week I went to see a movie called “Happy” at a local movie theater. It was a documentary about the true meaning of happiness, with a lot of case studies of people around the world who consider themselves to be happy. The people in the case studies ranged from a man living in the slums in India, a woman in America who was once beautiful, but because of a tragic car accident had had her face ruined and was unrecognizable, to a woman living in a collective housing facility in Denmark where her family shared dinners with all the other families in the housing facility. The man in India obviously didn’t have much money or belongings, but because the community he lived in was so closely knit together, and everybody cared for each other, he considered himself a very happy man. Also, the woman who lost her outward beauty, had all the reason in the world to be angry and miserable, but she chose to look at the things that she did have in her life, and said that she was much happier now compared to before the accident. I guess it all really depends on how you choose to look at your situation.
One of the most famous researchers on the subject of happiness is a man called Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (I am not even sure how to pronounce that). He wrote a book that I read called “Flow”, which has become a term for the state of mind that people enter when they are so engaged and absorbed in what they are doing that they completely forget about everything else, even themselves. Another way to call this is “being in the moment”, “in the zone”, or “being present”. I am sure you have had those moments yourself, right? It could be while playing sports, drawing, doing everyday chores, anything really. I can certainly remember myself as a soccer player where time just seemed to fly by, and before I knew it it was time go home after practice. Or, sometimes being so caught up in the conversation I was having with my friends that I didn’t even realize it was way past midnight. According to the research, it is during these moments in life that we feel the most happy.
Besides these “flow” moments, being outside in nature on a beautiful day is something that makes me feel very happy. How can you not love nature when you come from a place like this? 😉
I have to say I am very proud of where I was born, the Lofoten Islands, and I often miss being able to step outside of my house and go mountain hiking from there. Nothing beats the peacefulness I feel from listening to the wind, or birds singing on top of the mountain. Another thing that makes me happy is when I overcome something that I initially had a difficult time with. One of those things are my flexibility. As I have mentioned in an earlier post, I used to think that being inflexible was something that I just had to live with. This was before I met GYROKINESIS® and GYROTONIC®. It was a real joy to finish my first course and realize that it is actually possible to overcome my flexibility issue. Another thing I am proud of overcoming is being able to work and help clients in Japanese as well as English. This was another thing I had a big complex about for a while, and used to feel down and insecure about. Then, when I had my first session in Japanese, and realized this was something I could do, I again felt empowered and more confident, two emotions that equal happiness to me. Also, recently, I had my first pair lesson where I taught both in English and Japanese at the same time. A few years ago, I would have never thought that would be possible.
How about you? What makes you happy? Have you ever been in a state of “flow” where nothing else around you matter?
It is Golden week in Japan, which means that most people take a series of days off for vacation. Being an independent worker, however, there is no such thing as public holidays unless we decide so ourselves. This year is the first time I have actually taken a few days off to get away from Tokyo.
I took my GYROKINESIS® Final Certification together with Madoka Maruyama, and have since become friends with her. Madoka is a former ballet dancer, and is now teaching both ballet, GYROKINESIS®, and GYROTONIC® methods. She has her own GYROTONIC® tower at her family’s second house in Nagano, and we have been talking about visiting there since the Final Certification course last September. I was so happy that I could finally make it a reality for Golden week!:) Coming from a really small place in Norway where there are mountains and ocean everywhere, one of the things I really miss by being in Tokyo is being able to go outside in nature whenever I want. I like the mountains especially, and would go hiking by myself from time to time when I lived in Norway. For some reason, this has been my “holy time” if you will, where I can be by myself, or just get away from the noise in daily life. In Nagano, our plan was to go skiing, but since the weather has been been warm there, we instead went on a hike both around a lake, and then the next day on a mountain quite far out in the countryside of Nagano. It was so wonderful to see stars again, feel the fresh air, and to drink clear water from the mountain river. I just love it! I hope to go there again!:)
Today I also had the chance to attend a GYROKINESIS® class by another teacher who I took almost the whole certification with, except for the first part, the pre-training course. Kana Yamane teaches both yoga and GYROKINESIS®, and I have been wanting to take her class for some time now. To be honest, when I first met Kana during the foundation course, I was more than a little intimidated by the way she moves. If you have a chance to take her class, you will know what I mean;) She literally seems to be able to bend and twist in any direction! Although I know it will take years for me to get there (if I ever will), she is a great person to look up to and aspire to. Since last year, Kana has started collaborating with a local cafe called Kukoro (くころ), and today was the 3rd time to have the event there. After the GYROKINESIS® class, we had a great lunch together with all the other attendees, and the owner of the cafe. It felt great to follow somebody else’s instruction to move, and although I didn’t know any other of the attendees (except my husband), we laughed a lot and had an overall great time!
I guess taking time to refresh and do something different is really important, right? (Although we know this is true, we don’t really get it until we try it)
Enjoy the rest of your Golden week!
Being from one of the Scandinavian countries, it comes as no surprise that I grew up playing with Lego as a kid. Although it may be more common for boys to play with, I always had fun using it to play with my twin sister. I also visited Legoland in Denmark when I was 5 years old, and I still remember quite well the excitement of being there, and riding the roller coasters made out of Lego.
Yesterday, I had the chance to play with Lego again, this time in a little different way from when I was a kid. My husband has a friend who facilitates Lego Serious Play for adults, and he gave us an introduction to, or let us play with Lego, for 2 hours. It was just as fun as when I was a kid, and it also helped me to see the importance of using your hands to help express what you are thinking. I already knew that writing down what you think in a journal or on a blog like this is helpful to realize the things you are thinking about, but it was the first time to experience something like this. Lego Serious Play is usually used in businesses to help facilitate communication within a team, to realize new opportunities, and to stimulate more creativity and understanding of each others’ viewpoints.
For example, the first thing I had to do was to to see how many versions of a duck I could make using a limited amount of blocks. I first had to draw the different versions on a piece of paper, and then I had to build them. I had 2 minutes to finish the drawing, and 2 minutes to finish the building. With the drawing, I could only come up with 2 different ducks, but when I had to build, I could make 4 different ones. This is just to show that when we can use our hands, and not just our brains, we are usually more creative and can come up with more solutions. I thought this was really interesting.
The second task was to build a tower using any of the many blocks I had available. The time limit was about 5 minutes. It was funny to see how different my interpretation of it turned out to be from my husband’s. We all have our ways of looking at things, depending on how we were brought up, and the experiences we have had through life. This have shown itself many times throughout my intercultural marriage. It can both be frustrating at times, but also very valuable as it helps you to see situations in ways that you would have never come up with yourself. Now, in relation to the bodywork and fitness field, we all have our backgrounds and beliefs about our own bodies and what we can do. It sometimes takes somebody else’s help and guidance to realize how much you are capable of, and to start moving towards the direction you want to go. This was certainly true for myself, as I had doubts about my ability to become flexible. By getting ideas and viewpoints from others with a different background from yours, you sometimes end up seeing things in a totally new way, and new doors can open up.
I hope you will keep reading and don’t get scared that you will not understand because I am writing in English. I do believe learning takes place only when we have to make an effort, and that is why I have decided to write most of my posts here in English, with only a little translation here and there so that the reading will go smoother for you. I promise I will also make an effort to write posts in Japanese from time to time, even though it will be far from perfect. Being from Norway, English is not my first language, but being able to communicate in this language has truly changed my world. I really want you to be able to have the same options, and to not let the language barrier limit the choices in your life!
So, I sincerely hope that you will take the challenge, and see my posts as an opportunity to learn English on top of hopefully learning something valuable and/or interesting!