Why I'm celebrating Thanksgiving on the beach (early)...

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My birthday usually falls around Thanksgiving so a few weeks ago I decided to to check what flights to Miami would be like during that time. As foreigners, Chris and I don't celebrate Thanksgiving. Over the years we've been invited to many different family gatherings and while we enjoy them, they don't hold the same meaning for us as they do for everyone around us. Only problem is... we are leaving tomorrow because I was sure that Thanksgiving was tomorrow. Flights were cheap, great hotel choices and weird enough, nobody was traveling.

This also meant that I had to reschedule the rest of the week and cancel my classes for Friday and Saturday.

Most people laughed, one or two thought that I was making this up. Chris was a surprised when I told him to take some time off from work. But guess what in the end, I'm so happy this mistake happened.

Chris and I haven't had a vacation by ourselves, without responsibilities in forever. We both run businesses, we eat, sleep, breathe our work and we take care and dote on Zola.

We have taken family vacations to Germany and Australia. Those were beautiful. But we didn't have too much time for just us.

So this is what we are going to do for the next 4 days:

- focus on each other

- turn our phones off

- sleep in

- eat, drink, be merry

- AND: NOTHING!

I can't wait!

We all live in an interconnected world that has us constantly buzzing with information, messages, and more. We are constantly reachable, we check email first thing in the morning, and Instagram last thing at night. Meeting friends requires more organizing than before smartphones, now we can text and cancel, our opentable reservation as well as with the person we're meeting. We are running later and because we can let someone know in an instance, it's ok... because they are probably answering emails while they wait.

When do we truly unplug? Even for an hour... maybe even for a weekend.

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This holiday season I hope you get to unplug with people that you love. Take some time and share it with someone else. Give the gift of feeling and being fully present, not rushing and enjoying yourself.

Let me know how that goes for you. Happy Thanksgiving.

Roma

Body Image and Health

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Regarding the title, Body Image and Health, you'll probably wonder what I'm doing in the picture above? I'm pulling up my pants. They are low-rise and therefore sitting in them without a belt, means that I have to adjust them before I sit down for a photo opp. Body image is a topic that everybody can relate to, everybody in a different way though. For me personally it came as a big surprise when my 15 year old lanky frame suddenly started developing curves. There were areas that took a little while longer, but not my hips and bottom. Suddenly what felt like overnight, I had a butt. And I didn't like it.

In today's society we are fed pictures of Victoria's Secret models strutting their stuff down the runway looking curvy to us, however they are really only curvy in relation to their otherwise very slim frame. Fashion models are preferably androgynous with narrow shoulders and no hips. So it is now wonder that we women strive to maintain a slim frame from the moment our body changes in adolescence. We own skinny jeans and keep them "in case we will fit into them again", we are joyous at the thought of wearing a size 4 (which is manufactured to make us feel smaller), we compare, we follow trends, we play with colours and shapes and we work out to get slimmer.

As a professional athlete I was huge by society's standards, I had broad shoulders, strong legs (one leg was so much bigger from fencing than the other, that I had to buy jeans one size up), I had big guns and I had a runner's butt. My body was my job, I was eternally grateful for all it could take, it was my tool, and I was incredibly proud of what it stood for: strength in swimming, steadfastness in shooting, a deep seat on horseback, explosiveness in the fencing and a graceful stride in the running. When I quit competing, my body placed fat on top of my muscles, courtesy of me continuing to eat like I was training 25 hours a week. And somehow at the time I didn't notice.

I look back at those photos now (no, I won't share them) I cringe slightly at how unaware I was, not just of how I looked but how unhealthy I was. I had left a very controlled lifestyle for the first time and I was consuming a lot more than was necessary or good for me.

And then a beautiful thing happened: because I was so unaware of my heavier frame I didn't do anything about it. I started eating less as my body recognized my lower output, I incorporated some exercise into my life again and my body naturally "shrunk" back to my healthy size (mind you, over the course of almost 2 years!). I have been at my size and weight for 8 years now and as people who know me will attest, I eat a lot and then some.

Working with people now, my priority is not teaching them how to lose weight quickly and I personally don't measure success by watching people shrink. What makes me happiest is seeing both men and women embrace strength, develop skills, grace in situations in which they were convinced they would never be, change their perception of food and gratification and most importantly make movement an integral part of their lives. If there is an obsession that I support then it's feeling the urge to move to experience health in body and mind.

I embrace my body and my butt now. I'm a woman so I have fat days, bloated days, feeling ugly days, sad days and envious days. But overall whenever I do, I try to think back to the pride I used to feel over a healthy body that allowed me to do so much. I dare you to think of a night out in which all you did was have fun and thought of nothing else. Not your outfit, not who you wanted to impress, or what anyone else was wearing... Right there, that's the feeling that exudes a quiet confidence that is so irresistible...

Stay tuned for the letter C tomorrow! And make sure to hop on over to my Facebook page for the rest of the alphabet.

xxR

Pregnancy Wellness Tips

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Check out my pregnancy wellness tips over at Mind Body Green where I've recently been published. I'm happy that I have been able to share a lot of my findings and experiences in prenatal and postpartum wellness and fitness on their site. If you haven't yet, go check out how to train during and after pregnancy, check out their many interesting blog posts and stay tuned for more articles to come!

http://www.mindbodygreen.com/wc/roma-van-der-walt

xxR

Monday Moves: Exercises for Lower Back Relief (Video)

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I am very excited that this first Youtube video is online, now! I hope it will be helpful to relieve some of your issues around the lower back. You can increase the number of repetitions per exercise as you see fit.

And I would love to hear more from you about it, in the comments below.

xxR