Exercise! It’s proven that movement of the body creates hormones in the body associated with happiness. It relieves stress.
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 advise my clients is to “Connect with Pleasure & Play.” Even so-called successful women seem to not have space for pleasure in their lives, as we forget that the real essence of femininity is the energy, the ingenuity, pleasure, play, sensuality and the sense of goddessness. They are all needed in a subtle mirage to find the life purpose. See, most men can go to work for the sake of earning their sustenance and “doing deeds”, and will not have any problem doing so but for us women, it is an entirely different ball game. We need something else. We need our souls to be expressed and if that does not happen, no amount of money or incentive can make us content and full. For a woman to be disconnected from her core feminine principles is equivalent to a suicide. We need to be able to create that personal space among ourselves where we can foster growth and happiness.
The society, on the other hand, patronizes us for these feminine principles and cravings. The patriarchy is leading the way in almost all walks of life by way of dominance and strangling merit. Women are deprived of their rights in the areas of pleasure, it is something that we females are dissuaded to achieve from a very early childhood by our elders — and for women, it is generally considered promiscuous even to talk about. While most men are admired and encouraged for their hedonistic lifestyles, for women it is almost a topic of taboo. This fear of sexually powerful women exists because sexual energy is the most fundamental energy in human beings — in a sense, it’s the force of life itself. It is the wild, intuitive nature within us that does not submit to any laws or outside control. Female sexuality is not darkness; it is an endless source of light; yet, even today, society demands that we suppress this force and extinguish our own light.
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 Sylvia Nasser, a 13 year fitness professional, certified personal trainer, and creator of the national #irockthesportsbra body positive campaign. A full time Equinox Group Fitness Instructor, Sylvia currently teaches boxing, cycling, strength and conditioning, holds a certification in Pilates, and has completed a 200 hour Yoga teacher training. A boxing enthusiast and self-proclaimed badass, Sylvia strives to empower women to face their fears, let go of judgements, and celebrate every step of their personal fitness journey.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
Yes! The start of my fitness career was a bit … haphazard. I actually have a Masters Degree in Technological Systems Management — Global Industrial Management from Stony Brook University. I had been working as a Quality Control Manager full time for a few years before I decided that the office lifestyle just wasn’t for me. I had been working part time in addition to a full-time job as a “Sales Girl” selling gym memberships at Lucille Roberts (to get a free gym membership). Well one day, one of the group fitness instructors quit on the manager. While I was working desk, she asked me (more like told me) …” I need you to teach a fitness class to the next woman who walks in” and I did! In fact, when the class was finished, I was hired immediately on the spot to fill that slot. No background, no certifications (I had to hurry and get that done). I was on schedule only a few days later. I taught part-time for several years until I mustered up the courage to quit my full time and do what I loved . There’s more to the story… but I’ll just leave it at that!
What does it mean for you to live “on purpose”? Can you explain? How can one achieve that?
To live on purpose… it’s really about living fulfilled. As humans we find fulfillment when our work actually means something to someone. It’s about finding pleasure in our work . It’s a marriage between our talents, skills and our passions. The only way to really live on purpose is to have a deep understanding of who we are and the subject matters that mean the most to us. Once that is understood, then you take massive action to create a reality that is purposeful.
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?
Yes! — when I first started in the fitness industry. I felt a tremendous (self inflicted) pressure to be “skinny”. I never felt I looked the part and did what I could to get skinny. I developed body image dysmorphia, an addiction to diet pills, cleanses and laxatives , and an addiction to exercise. It stemmed from being a chubby child. I had always felt insecure about inabilities to play like the other kids did — jungle gym, cartwheels, etc . I was slow & lazy. Nothing specific triggered that insecurity as it was very self imposed by my own negative thoughts. After months of abusing my body, I started developing weird symptoms. I began to see rashes on my skin and experience mouth ulcers, joint stiffness, pain, and hair loss.I hopped from doctor to doctor to try and understand what was going on. I had just quit my corporate job, was working on building my business, experienced a close death in the family, and planning my wedding. I was so stressed. I had been preaching health when I was living a lie. My symptoms got worse and worse until my white blood cell count was so low that I had to get a bone marrow test done to eliminate Leukemia. About 5 months later I got diagnosed with Systemic Lupus Erythematosus. I realized in that moment that i was responsible for my own pain and I had to muster up the courage to change my life. I vowed never to hate my body again and i found meaning in teaching fitness. It was no longer about being skinny or sexy, it was about stepping into your power and taking control of your health and strength. Today I live medication free. And it’s taught me how to be a strong woman. In addition, my child was born with Cystic Fibrosis. I am here to teach her that her diagnosis and disease do not define who she is. She can be mentally strong and love her self no matter what. Fitness is the key to having that kind of strength. The stronger i am, the more empowered i am, the more choices i can make to be and live happy… on my terms.
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?
There are certainly many things to contribute to this general unhappiness, but it all boils down to 1 thing…. the lack of true self love. We feel like we always have to be like someone else, don’t have or own enough, don’t work hard enough, and that we are simply not enough. We look outside of ourselves to be happy, and don’t own up to the fact that we can change our reality if we just changed our thoughts. Our thoughts have a tremendous amount of power.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
I motivate and inspire. I teach people how to own up to their power. There’s nothing more empowering than performing as a fitness athlete. I know that creating more empowered, confident people will lead to more happiness in the world .
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. Exercise. It’s proven that movement of the body creates hormones in the body associated with happiness. It relieves stress.
2. Journaling past successes. It’s immediate proof of past happiness and how more of that can be created. Then write out a gratitude list.
3. Sleep. It’s simple. Rest makes you less cranky. 🙂
4. Surround yourself with people who are happy! Happiness is contagious. So is laughter.
5. Reading / listening to success stories before i start my day. Podcasts are great to listen to on the commute to work. “If they can, I can!!!”
6. Meditation / visualizing in detail the kind of person you desire to be. The mind cannot distinguish between what’s real and not. If you can close you eyes and dream in detail, the mind knows that to be true.
Do you have any favorite books, podcasts, or resources that most inspired you to live with a thirst for life?
Yes! Some of my go tos:
The Millionaire Messenger — Brendan Burchard
E Squared- Pam Grout
Think & Grow Rich — Napoleon Hill
Anything Abraham Hicks , Les Brown , Oprah, Joel Osteen
The Mind Valley Podcast — Vishen Lakhiani
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?
There are two and they both speak to the lessons I have learned and the future I work to build everyday:
““The more you praise and celebrate your life, the more there is in life to celebrate․”
― Oprah Winfrey”
Happiness is not something you postpone for the future; it is something you design for the present. Jim Rohn
I am the designer and the builder each day and once we all realize we have that power, amazing things happen!
Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?
I have been working to gain traction with my #irockthesportsbra social campaign. It is a body positive movement that teaches women how to face fear, let go of judgements (of themselves and others who are body confident) , love themselves no matter what, and rock the sports bra! It’s a body confidence building movement that is working to empower women to strip down to a sports bra as a method to focus on and celebrate their athletic ability no matter where they are in their fitness journey.
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. 🙂
#irockthesportsbra! It’s already been proven successful among my local tribe. It’s about confidence, and belief in athletic abilities. It’s about feeling “badass”. Can you imagine what an empowered stronger world would look like?
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.