“We suffer from limiting beliefs.” with Dr. William Seeds & Sonia Jhas

The pursuit of perfection is deeply ingrained in us as individuals. The amount of energy required to pursue perfection is exhausting and requires us to behave in a way that is totally contradictory to our biological and psychological programming. When we fall prey to our perfectionist tendencies, we force ourselves to take the “all or […]

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The pursuit of perfection is deeply ingrained in us as individuals. The amount of energy required to pursue perfection is exhausting and requires us to behave in a way that is totally contradictory to our biological and psychological programming. When we fall prey to our perfectionist tendencies, we force ourselves to take the “all or nothing” approach when it comes to health and wellness. This approach, however, is totally unsustainable and completely devoid of self-love and self-compassion. Only when we’re able to embrace the concept of progress over perfection and celebrate the journey, not just the results, are we actually able to create life-long change.

As a part of my series about “5 Lifestyle Tweaks That Will Dramatically Improve One’s Wellbeing”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Sonia Jhas. Holding a Bachelor of Commerce and MBA degree from Queen’s University,Sonia Jhas is an award-winning health and fitness expert, a certified personal trainer, nutrition specialist and media expert having been featured in some of Canada’s leading media outlets including Cityline, CP24, Breakfast Television, Huffington Post, Global Morning, National Post, CHCH, Notable.ca, and many others. In January 2018, Sonia appeared on the cover of OptiMYz Magazine as Canada’s top health influencer. With a huge following of over 250,000 social media fans, Sonia has become one of Canada’s leading voices in health and fitness. For more information, visit www.soniajhas.com.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you share with us the story about how you first got involved in fitness and wellness?

Health and wellness has always been an important aspect of my life. Well, actually let me rephrase that — health and wellness has been an important aspect of my life for the last 10 years. Prior to that, being “skinny” was one of the most important aspects of my life. As many women out there, I spent most of my youth on a desperate-quest to be a size 0, yo-yo-ing from fat to thin to kind of chunky to super skinny, and everything in between. It wasn’t until I hit my breaking point around the age of 25 that my focus shifted to true health and wellness. However, contrary to what they often show in the movies, I didn’t wake up one morning and suddenly decide to quit my job to pursue health and wellness. In my case, it was a slow build. A few years into my corporate career, I found myself itching for more — looking for something that would really “do it” for me, something that I’d feel passionate about, something that would make me want to keep pushing myself to excel. I thought maybe getting my Executive MBA would do the trick. I figured maybe an industry change or even just bouncing around to different companies might lead me to finding something I was passionate about. Nothing seemed to really cut it, until I decided to follow the quiet little voice in my head that was telling me I may want to pursue health and wellness as a career. I got my Personal Training and Nutrition Specialist certifications done, built up a portfolio of clients while still working in the corporate world, and enjoyed what I was doing so much that I inevitably decided to take a chance and quit my corporate career! Best. Decision. Ever.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?

I’d say one of my most interesting stories comes from when I graced the cover of Optimyz Magazine. I say this not because I want you to be like “wow, look at her, she was a cover girl!” but rather because the experience taught me so much. I had grown up ogling magazines, wishing so desperately to look the girls that graced the covers. Fast forward twenty years, and suddenly there I was, on a cover myself, in stores all across Canada. It felt both surreal and totally normal at the same time — almost as if it was a really clear display of what could happen in my life if I just focused on following my path, working hard, and trusting that everything I had always wanted was within my reach. It was the first time in my life that I felt like I was experiencing flow rather than constantly swimming against the tide, and it felt amazing. Even though it was something so small, it’s a feeling that I’ve carried with me throughout my journey ever since. It’s the little piece of the puzzle that reminds me to dream big, work hard, and expect that things will fall into place as their meant to.

Can you share a story with us about the most humorous mistake you made when you were first starting? What lesson or take-away did you learn from that?

Early on in my career, when I first started doing segments on TV, I was really particular about wearing outfits that matched head-to-toe. I wanted to look great, and so I’d take my time getting ready in just the right outfit, and then I’d pack my spick-and-span sneakers to take with me to the studio in order to avoid them getting dirty along the way.

One day, I had a segment, and did my usual routine to get ready. But, like the genius I am, I forgot to actually pick up the bag that had my shoes in it! I went to the studio wearing furry winter boots and inevitably had to do the segment barefoot because there was just no way to get sneakers in time. We all had a good laugh about it on live TV and I learned a couple of key lessons:

1. To always have an extra pair of sneakers laying around in my trunk.

2. To never take myself so seriously, because the segment actually turned out more fun and engaging than it would have otherwise, and it ultimately worked out in my favour!

Can you share with our readers a bit about why you are an authority in the fitness and wellness field? In your opinion, what is your unique contribution to the world of wellness?

I think my unique contribution to the world of wellness is my willingness to talk about my personal struggles so open and honestly. Unlike many other “authorities” in the field, I strive to be as transparent as I can about the challenges I have faced, and continue to face, when it comes to my health and wellbeing. Whether it be physical, or mental. I’m not someone who has become an “expert” based on what I’ve learned through a handful of textbooks and courses. No, my primary learning has come through the uphill battle of overcoming my own struggles and challenges with my body. I’m open to talk about what I’ve been through because I get it. I know just how hard the journey to “getting fit” can be on the mind, body, and soul. I’ve been the girl on the elliptical machine aimlessly bobbing up and down without breaking a sweat for an hour. I’ve been the girl doing 3-pound bicep curls in order to avoid turning into the “Incredible Hulk.” I’ve been the girl who thinks that 90 minutes of cardio a day (sometimes twice a day) is the secret to fat loss. I’ve also been the girl that thinks you can literally “convert” fat into muscle. I’ve tried classes, videos, lots of cardio with light weights, no cardio with heavy weights, yoga, Pilates, cycling, running, skipping, boxing, and everything in between. Admittedly, I’ve pretty much tried it all!

What has all this taught me? Well, on one hand I’ve definitely learned (and re-learned) what doesn’t work. But more importantly, through years of trial and error, I’ve learned what does work when it comes to making both the mental and physical changes required in order to achieve sustainable results.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

My good friend and publicist, Randy Phipps has been instrumental in helping me get to where I am today. He’s been one of my strongest supporters and has constantly been seeking out diverse opportunities to let me shine! It’s rare to find someone who believes in you more than you often times believe in yourself, and I feel really lucky to have someone so dedicated and passionate on my team.

Ok thank you for all that. Now let’s move to the main focus of our interview. We all know that it’s important to eat more vegetables, eat less sugar, exercise more, and get better sleep etc. But while we know it intellectually, it’s often difficult to put it into practice and make it a part of our daily habits. In your opinion what are the 3 main blockages that prevent us from taking the information that we all know, and integrating it into our lives?

1. We lack clarity on our values.

Values have a major influence on our behavior and determine what we actually do with our time. When we lack clarity on what really matters to us at our core, we’re simply flying blind on this journey of life, hoping that something like losing weight will make us happy, and usually it doesn’t. Somehow happiness always seems to remain “10 pounds away”. However, when we become consciously aware of our values, and we’re really clear on our internal why, we can use our values as an anchor point to make more informed decisions about our health and wellness journeys instead of just wingin’ it and hopin’ for good behavior.

2. We suffer from limiting beliefs.

Limiting beliefs don’t just impact people who lack confidence. Whether we realize it or not, we experience constant self-talk throughout the day, and more often than not, it’s extremely negative. Most of our fear comes from our limiting beliefs — statements that question, judge, and undermine our choices, desires, and self-worth. Only when we’re able to clear them, are we actually able to push past our fears, take action, and feel proud of our progress when it comes to our health and wellness journeys, and life in general.

3. We deal with perfectionist tendencies.

The pursuit of perfection is deeply ingrained in us as individuals. The amount of energy required to pursue perfection is exhausting and requires us to behave in a way that is totally contradictory to our biological and psychological programming. When we fall prey to our perfectionist tendencies, we force ourselves to take the “all or nothing” approach when it comes to health and wellness. This approach, however, is totally unsustainable and completely devoid of self-love and self-compassion. Only when we’re able to embrace the concept of progress over perfection and celebrate the journey, not just the results, are we actually able to create life-long change.

Can you please share your “5 Non-Intuitive Lifestyle Tweaks That Will Dramatically Improve One’s Wellbeing”? (Please share a story or an example for each, and feel free to share ideas for mental, emotional and physical health.)

1. Tune-In

Practice taking a break. Whether it’s through a few minutes of meditation, breathwork, light stretching, or simply going for a short walk, learning how to slow down is the first step to being able to tune-in to how your mind and body are feeling. Your version of self-care is for you, and you alone. Nothing has to be fancy or complicated, the goal is to simply slow down and listen to the messages your mind and body are trying to give you so that you can better navigate your health and wellness journey. Are you dehydrated? Do you need more sleep? Do you feel the way you want to feel? Only when you slow down are you able to get answers to critical questions like these.

2. Get clear on your goals

You need to get clear on what your priorities are because in health and wellness, as in life, it’s impossible to accomplish everything at the same time.

Ask Yourself:

Do you want to lose fat?

Do you want to build muscle?

Are you interested in getting stronger and feeling like you have more energy overall?

Many people drive themselves crazy when trying to lose weight because they aren’t laser-clear on what exactly they’re working towards. All they know is that they “want to feel better”. But what does that actually mean? Setting short term and long term goals that are specific and clear is a key part of any health and wellness journey. Doing so will allow you to have something concrete to benchmark yourself against, which will keep you focused and clear on what kind of decisions and actions you should be taking to get to where you want to go.

3. Layer in positivity

It sounds cheesy, but affirmations and positive quotes/sayings can really override your inner negative narrative. Affirmations are simply positive self-statements that, if repeated over time, convince you that they are true and, by extension, boost your self-esteem and problem-solving skills. You’re essentially tricking your mind to think differently by reinforcing what’s important to you on a regular basis. They’re powerful and they’ve been shown to work.

Examples of affirmations that may work for you:

I have amazing potential.

Today, I focus on my health, not my weight.

Eating healthy food and exercising comes naturally to me.

4. Get organized and plan ahead

You need to make your health and wellness journey as automated as possible so that you’re not relying on your ability to make good decisions to guide you. Why? Because decision fatigue is a real thing; it’s been proven by psychologists. Willpower is like a muscle and just like the muscles in your body, it can get fatigued when you use it over and over again. So your best bet is to have a meal plan for the week ahead so that you’re not making decisions on the fly. It can also help to do meal prep in advance, whether that’s simply having groceries ready or actually cooking all your meals on Sunday. Do what works for you, but the more organized you can get, the more in-control and positive you’ll feel.

5. Find an accountability partner

Find someone to be “in the journey” with you. This person can be your spouse, your best friend, a colleague, or a workout buddy. It doesn’t matter if you’re actually working out with the person or not: all that matters is that they know you have real goals to attain and they are committed to helping you achieve them. Life is challenging and it’s impossible to be your own cheerleader all the time. If you can find someone that is willing to have a weekly call or check-in with you, I think you’ll find that your health and wellness journey feels a lot less lonely and exhausting.

As an expert, this might be obvious to you, but I think it would be instructive to articulate this for the public. Aside from weight loss, what are 3 benefits of daily exercise? Can you explain?

1. Improved cardiovascular health and bone density

As we get older, it’s imperative to keep our heart and bones healthy and strong. Sure, when we’re younger it doesn’t really matter as much, so it feels hard to prioritize. But building up strength, endurance, and agility takes time. The sooner we can build the right foundation, the better our chances are of staving off conditions like heart disease and osteoporosis. There’s nothing sexy about it, but if you want to live a long, healthy life with a strong heart and set of bones, then exercise is a key part of the equation.

2. Strength + energy

Not only does regular exercise help you physically build strength and endurance, which can make day-to-day activities feel significantly easier, but also endorphins (often called “feel-good” chemicals) can really help to enhance your energy levels and mood. Who doesn’t feel like a million bucks after a short and effective workout!

3. Positivity

Regular exercise can greatly enhance how you feel about yourself because there’s often a deep sense of satisfaction and pride that comes along with prioritizing your health and wellbeing. It’s a way to show yourself that you not only value your wellbeing, but that you are willing to put in tangible effort to do something that is good for you.

For someone who is looking to add exercise to their daily routine, which 3 exercises would you recommend that are absolutely critical?

1. Squats

2. Chest press

3. Rows

The exercises mentioned above can work wonders when it comes to transforming your body because they tackle large muscle groups — legs, chest, and back. The more you can work your large muscle groups, the greater bang for your buck you’ll get from each workout. You’ll not only elevate your metabolism and burn more calories, both during and after your workout, but you’ll also find that your posture and body composition begin to shift quickly as well.

In my experience, many people begin an exercise regimen but stop because they get too sore afterwards. What ideas would you recommend to someone who plays sports or does heavy exercise to shorten the recovery time, and to prevent short term or long term injury?

1. Stretch — we often forget to cool down and stretch after a workout because we’re so eager to hit the shower, or eat something, or simply get on with the day! However, one of the easiest things you can do to reduce muscle soreness and tension is stretch. Stretching not only eliminates accumulated lactic acid and relaxes your muscles, but it also helps promote better flexibility and prevent injury.

2. Post workout nutrition — proper fuel after a workout is key because during a workout, your muscles use up their glycogen stores for fuel, leaving your muscles depleted. After a workout, your body tries to rebuild its glycogen stores and repair and regrow those muscle proteins. Eating the right nutrients soon after you exercise can help your body get this done easier and faster, which in turn can help to repair the damage you cause during your workout.

3. Hydration — drinking enough water is an easy, but often forgotten, way of reducing muscle soreness and shortening recovery time. Most of your body is made up of water, and when you’re dehydrated, it’s impossible for your body to function as efficiently as it’s supposed to. When you drink enough water your body is able to speed up recovery time by removing toxins from your body and keeping your muscles in proper working order.

4. Sleep — this one is my favourite, because let’s face it, we all feel better when we get a good night’s sleep! The reason sleep is so helpful during the recovery process comes down to growth hormones and blood flow. Growth hormone aids in cell reproduction, cell regeneration, and regulation of your body’s metabolism in order to literally help repair you while you sleep. Because your mind and body are at rest, more energy can be used to restore your bones and muscles, both through an increase in growth hormone production, and by increased blood flow to the areas in need. So, snooze that soreness away!

There are so many different diets today. Can you share what kind of diet you follow? Which diet do you recommend to most of your clients?

After trying and failing to follow all kinds of diets, from Ducan to Atkins and everything in between, I can honestly say that I don’t follow a specific diet protocol anymore. I try my best to listen to my body and give it whole, less-processed foods as much as possible. About 80% of the time, I focus on eating “clean foods” such as fruit, vegetables, lean protein, healthy fats, and good-quality carbs. Then, 20% of the time, I enjoy the heck out of the treats I love! Over the years, I’ve found that following an 80–20 protocol really provides me with enough structure to keep me on track, while still allowing for enough fun and flexibility in my life!

Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story?

If I had to pick just one, I’d say Daring Greatly by Brené Brown. Not only is Brené a brilliant writer, but her research on vulnerability, fear, and shame have had a profound impact on my life. Growing up in a traditional Indian household, I spent most of my life ticking boxes, trying my best to satisfy my parents’ criteria of what it meant for me to be a “successful person”. It wasn’t until I had accomplished all the things I was supposed to — like getting my MBA, purchasing a home, and getting married — that I began to realize how inauthentic and unfulfilled I felt. I didn’t know what I wanted to do going forward in my life, but I knew I was determined to crack the code on who I really was.

Brené’s book, Daring Greatly, provided me with the much-needed insight and wisdom I was seeking, at just the right time, to help me see that I was not alone in my quest to shed my shame and fear in order to explore a path unknown and untraveled. Her teachings were instrumental in helping me develop the courage to quit my job and pursue health and wellness as a career, all while embracing my imperfections along the way. I often still come back to Brené’s teachings when my legacy beliefs and behaviours start rearing their ugly heads again!

You are a person of enormous influence. If you could start 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. 🙂

I think I’d probably start a movement around being open and honest about the struggles women face when it comes to fertility. As someone who had to take the fertility-clinic route for both pregnancies, I’ve experienced first-hand just how scary, lonely, and isolating the journey can be. I’ve used my platform to be open about my journey and have been blown away by the private and public messages I’ve received from women who are struggling to conceive. It’s been a real eye-opener for me to see just how disconnected we are, despite being so “connected” via social media, and I now more than ever I feel compelled to be the sounding-board for women who are fighting the fertility battle in silence. Mental health is something that we often push aside because emotional struggle can be looked upon as weakness, but the more we can normalize the human experience — the imperfection, challenges, and fear we all face — the more connected we’ll actually be.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Do you have a story about how that was relevant in your life?

“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma, which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.” — Steve Jobs

I’d say that Steve Jobs said it best. As I mentioned in the stories above, I spent most of my life trekking to the tops of mountains, only to find myself standing at the wrong peak each time. It has taken me years to find and cultivate my inner-self and dare to lead a life according to my own intentions and design. It’s been a journey of slow un-layering, separating myself from the influence and opinions of others, in order to get to the core of who I really am and what I really want out of life. I still turn to this quote when it starts to feel like I’m falling back into the habit of other-focus instead of self-connection!

We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them 🙂

I’d have to say Oprah. Why? Well, because she’s OPRAH. Need I say more? ☺

What is the best way our readers can follow you on social media?

Instagram! You can find me at @soniajhas ; this is where I share ongoing inspiration, tools, and snippets into my world as I try and navigate this crazy journey of entrepreneurship, parenthood, and life in general!

Thank you for these fantastic insights. We wish you only continued success in your great work!

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