Joie De Vivre: Living With A Ravenous Thirst For Life: “Make a “for-me” list.” With Liz Hilliard, co-owner and co-creator of Hilliard Studio Method and Dr. Marina Kostina

Make a “for-me” list. Once you’ve accomplished the to-do items required for your family or career, pick one thing you do completely for your own self-care. That could be a massage or facial, painting or DIY activities at home, a walk around the neighborhood, a glass of wine with your girlfriends, or anything that gives […]

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copyright wanda koch photography
copyright wanda koch photography

Make a “for-me” list. Once you’ve accomplished the to-do items required for your family or career, pick one thing you do completely for your own self-care. That could be a massage or facial, painting or DIY activities at home, a walk around the neighborhood, a glass of wine with your girlfriends, or anything that gives your mind a break from day-to-day stresses and helps you regain focus and gratitude.

Do you ever wake up in the morning feeling unhappy, unfulfilled, unchallenged, and have nothing to look forward to? It doesn’t have to be that way. One idea that I always advice my clients is to “Detox yourself”.

It is interesting how our relationships with our bodies dictate our relationships with the partners and with the world. When we feel fit and sexy we are on top of the world and one with the world; but when our bodies feel unattractive to us we often create discord alienation and push partners, jobs, and opportunities away.

When we start cutting of all toxic things from our lives- foods, drinks, habits, people, places — everything changes- our body, our psyche and mind. Our life becomes ravenous and fulfilling. Any disciplined action (such as getting in shape, or healing yourself from a disease, quitting drugs and alcohol) is a spiritual journey that is also transformational in many ways- and affects not only your body but your life in general.

As a part of our series interviewing experts on how to live a “ravenous life” — a life filled with the passion, pleasure, playfulness and abundance that come naturally to those who dare to be authentic, I had the pleasure of interviewing Liz Hilliard is author of “Be Powerful: Find Your Strength at Any Age,” and co-owner and co-creator of Hilliard Studio Method, a unique, powerful and unparalleled, core-centric, Pilates-based workout that uses the latest techniques to get your heart-rate pumping and the sweat dripping. Liz is a graduate of the highly acclaimed STOTT Pilates International Training Center in Toronto, Canada. Hilliard opened Hilliard Studio Method with her daughter, Clary, in 2008 to provide the most effective, efficient, and results-driven workout on the market for women of all ages, fitness levels, and stages of life.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

I knew that 2008 was a risky year to start a business, given the financial crisis, especially a business that falls into the category of a luxury item. When my daughter (and now business partner), Clary, became head-over-heels in love and said she was getting married in one year, she asked for my help to get into shape for her wedding. Clary had been running four days a week and doing yoga almost every day, but it wasn’t making a difference for her. Meanwhile, I was in the beginning stages of menopause and was seeing my body plateau with my Pilates workouts. So I did what any good mother would do: I accepted the challenge, and dove in head first into learning the latest and most cutting-edge techniques in shaping the body. I devoted hours of research and my own personal training experience to create something brand new. Through research and experimentation, I discovered that heavy resistance training was the key to sculpting the physique and creating a lean, strong, healthy body. I gave my traditional Pilates moves a new, more radical and super efficient spin by using different modes of resistance. What became of that was faster, lasting results. While I already thought I was in great shape, I actually dropped a dress size and produced an overall more toned look. But even better, I felt stronger physically and mentally at an age when most women tend to slow down. As for Clary, she was an absolutely stunning bride who went from a size 10 to a size 4 (at 6’1” tall!) and the rest is history!

What does it mean for you to live “on purpose”? Can you explain? How can one achieve that?

For me, living on purpose is to “have courage in the face of failure, and fearlessness in the face of fear.” When you own your own business, there are a lot of walls and obstacles to overcome. Learning to negotiate and move through these obstacles with grace and determination is essential. And on top of that, knowing that failure is a part of the process. It’s ok to fail, as long as you’re not putting your employees or clients in danger. I believe that if you’re not willing to fail sometimes, then you’re not willing to try something new that could bring growth, and greater purpose in life and work.

Do you have an example or story in your own life of how your pain helped to guide you to finding your life’s purpose?

Failure and success are two sides of the same coin that I try not to take too much to heart. In my book, Be Powerful: Find Your Strength at Any Age, I write, “success is not final, and failure is not fatal.” The failure that affected me the most occurred when I was only eight years old; I was unable to decipher my own shortcomings with those of another. I nearly failed third grade, and as a matter of fact, just got through it by the skin of my teeth!

What remained from that year was a very sore hand from her teacher’s paddlings, and a severely bruised sense of self-worth from her repeated announcements that I was stupid. Even though now I recognize it was the teacher who failed me, I took her failure to heart, and learned the powerful implication of words and the resulting feelings of helplessness. In true honesty, I harbored those feelings until I was an adult, but eventually it led me to a life of self-empowerment, and in turn, helping others to find the same.

The United States is currently rated at #18 in the World Happiness Report. Can you share a few reasons why you think the ranking is so low?

Happiness is derived from a sense of well-being, whether it be intrinsically or extrinsically motivated. One of my strongest recommendations for living your best life is to have less screen time, and more active time. We spend hours a day staring at computer and cell phone screens, but almost no time, by comparison, being active. Something as simple as going for a brisk walk with a colleague or your children can do wonders for our focus, and in term, our happiness.

Another reason is that we’re not living authentically. Being defined by others, or trying to mold yourself after others simply does not work. Social media, for example, paints a nearly perfect picture of people’s lives; when we log on, we’re instantly inundated with content that leaves us in a state of near constant FOMO. While a little wanderlust is healthy, and drives us to visit new places and have new experiences, feeling bogged-down or (even worse) jealous of others, means it’s time for a change. What makes you, you? Express yourself, and be thankful for your many blessings — no matter how small they are.

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

“Be Powerful” and “Joie de Vivre” are my two mantras at Hilliard Studio Method. Through our workout and the relationships and community we’ve created, we are able to help women become their best selves. We help them lead healthy, powerful, meaningful lives, by helping them create change in themselves, and helping them find their strength and power, which often times you find out they didn’t know they had or they had lost it through years of hardship or loss. Seeing women find or regain that strength and self-confidence is one of the things that keeps me going every day. We preach joie de vivre by encouraging women to find joy and fun in everything they do. We have clients tell us all the time that the energy in our classes is what keeps them coming back, even when they don’t want to. Life is about joy and balance, which is why we teach our clients to make healthy decisions, but to enjoy life’s pleasures, too!

What are your 6 strategies to help you face your day with exuberance, “Joie De Vivre” and a “ravenous thirst for life”? Can you please give a story or example for each?

1. Practice Gratitude. When you wake in the morning, let your first thoughts be ones of gratitude, before you dive into work or chores for the day. Journal or speak aloud three things for which you are grateful. Don’t let your news feed be your first interaction with the world, ever!

I journal daily on my computer. Sometimes I’ll even wake in the middle of the night with a list of things I’m thinking or concerned about and just by giving them life on paper I am free for other thoughts that recenter my gratitude.

2. Fuel up. Nutrition plays a key role in how we feel, day-in and day-out. Healthy eating helps regulate our hormones and blood sugar negating the lethargic way our bodies feel when full of junk and sugar. Base your diet on protein, fiber and healthy fats. (At HSM, we enjoy our Smoothie Bags or our HSM Signature Smoothie recipe as the simplest way to stay on track.)

I practice what I preach and have my smoothie every day. When my husband started incorporating the smoothie into his diet every morning, he lost 20 pounds without changing any other aspect of his workout or diet regimen. It just goes to show what an important meal breakfast is and how the types of food you’re eating affect your body.

3. Move, move, move. Every day, make activity and/or exercise a part of your routine. Take a brisk walk outdoors and remember to breathe deeply. Be still in your thoughts, and notice the wonder, sights and sounds of nature around you. The older we get, the more efficiently we have to work out. Most people believe it’s imperative to slow down as we age, but to feel better longer, you must incorporate resistance training into your exercise routine for your physical wellbeing. As you reach your peak physical fitness, you’ll find your emotional stability and mental activity vastly improve as well. And working out doesn’t always have to happen at the gym or studio. Our live streaming workouts are perfect at any age, any stage of life, any time of day, and anywhere in the world.

I get my most efficient dose of movement while teaching or taking one of my Hilliard Studio Method classes. Other days I need to work out on my own on my Pilates equipment or just go for a walk and get outside. Movement helps me reduce stress and be more creative. I recognize when I need the energy of the community and tribe around me and when I need to be more quiet and alone. Knowing how to save and use your energy is key in maintaining a balanced and healthy sense of movement.

4. Make a “for-me” list. Once you’ve accomplished the to-do items required for your family or career, pick one thing you do completely for your own self-care. That could be a massage or facial, painting or DIY activities at home, a walk around the neighborhood, a glass of wine with your girlfriends, or anything that gives your mind a break from day-to-day stresses and helps you regain focus and gratitude.

Such a great example of joie de vivre! I find so much gratitude in my job and the hard work that I have invested in my businesses and clients over the years. I am able to put energy in showing up for work every day because I take the time to enjoy other activities like going out for a great meal and wine or seeing a movie. Fashion is a great way to express yourself and show off your hard work, so I enjoy shopping and dressing up

5. Pick a color, any color! Is there a color you gravitate toward, or one that lifts your spirit? Be creative, pick a specific shade, and then wear an article of clothing or use a pen in that color today at work. When you see that color out in the world, smile, and feel centered. This helps remind us of the little things that can bring happiness and cheer into our lives.

There are seven chakras, or energy centers, in the body through which energy flows. Each chakra correlates to a color in the rainbow, a place in the body and an emotional, physiological and spiritual sense of being. Keeping our chakras balanced can enhance a harmonious state while blocked energy centers can cause stress, dysfunction or illness. Maybe chakras are a new concept for you, but at least understanding and recognizing the colors around us and the energy it represents helps us better focus on opening our minds to a more positive energy flow and outlook.

6. Write a note. Pick a colleague and share a compliment; reach out to an old friend; tell your partner how much you love him or her. We all need connection, and the written word goes a long way in today’s tech-savvy, fast-paced world. Whether written on personalized stationary, notebook paper, or a Post-It note, it’s a small token of appreciation your loved one deserves.

There was a minister at my church that I’ve kept in touch with over the years. Recently during a large change in my life, he reached out with a simple heartfelt written note that inspired me to do the same to a number of other people in my life. I think handwritten words are sincere and show that you’ve taken the time to express something we care about to someone we care about.

Do you have any favorite books, podcasts, or resources that most inspired you to live with a thirst for life?

1) “Know Your Value” by Mika Brzezinki

2) “Braving the Wilderness” by Brene Brown

3) “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings” by Maya Angelou

4) “Stranger in a Strange Land” by Robert Heinlein

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote” that relates to having a Joie De Vivre? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

“The price is high, the reward is great.” ~Maya Angelou

Be authentic. Understanding your true self is a process and not for the faint of heart. Don’t be afraid to express who you are or how you feel, and don’t let others define who you are. When you do that, the reward will truly be great. Living authentically frees you to experience joy that you could have never imagined.

I continue to create a workout and lifestyle brand that encourages men and women to find joie de vivre at any, and all, stages of life. My latest offering, the HSM Live Class Streaming Platform, has been a huge hit, and it allows anyone anywhere to take a live class on their own schedule! The key to happiness and success in my business, as well as in life is to keep moving, keep evolving — and to not only stay ahead of the curve, but to bend the curve and work to my edge!

Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?

Currently, we are improving our live streaming service, so we can continue to touch the lives of more people around the world. We are already streaming to clients in more than 25 countries, and by offering more live classes (which have real people working out in studio with us), we hope to continue to help people lead healthier, fuller lives.

Additionally, we are offering more health- and wellness-focused Q&A’s and discussions in our studio. We’ll bring in medical professionals for an open forum with women, which we see as a way to continue to empower women with knowledge so that they can make the best decisions for their bodies and their lives. We’ll even be getting into other topics, like financial fitness for women and entrepreneurship.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂


In my book “Be Powerful, Find Your Strength at Any Age” I talk about empowering women at any stage of life, very similarly to the #metoo movement. While I wish that movement had started thirty years ago, I am glad it’s now bringing light to the many issues that divide men and women and our country as a whole. In #BePowerful, we are all one, learning to be kind and caring to everyone around us, thus empowering each other to be the best we can be. If we all spent more time loving and caring for our neighbor, we could spend less energy on the things that divide us.

About The Author:

Dr. Marina Kostina is a life and business fulfillment coach. She uses research and energy work to help professional women find their purpose and turn it into a profitable business. Dr. Kostina incorporates innovative marketing strategies and the creation of engaging, lucrative online courses to scale their businesses. As a result they enjoy what she describes as a “ravenous life” — a life filled with the passion, pleasure, playfulness and abundance that come naturally to those who dare to be authentic. Her book “Find the G-Spot of Your Soul” is available January 2018. Download a free gift from Dr. Kostina- an MP3 Meditation Album “Find The G –Spot Of Your Soul” and get unstuck.

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