For Kristen Ma, 28, co-owner of the spa and organic skincare line Pure + Simple, health is less about looking like an invincible powerhouse and more about feeling grounded. Varying exercises serve to keep the 28-year-old Toronto-based entrepreneur’s high-energy but anxious personality under control. But are calming workouts best if she feels out of sync and suffers from digestive issues?
“I’m an advocate of Eastern medicine, so my goal is to attain balance and maintain a strong body.”
“I’m running four times a week, indoors for 25 minutes in spurts like eight kilometres an hour and then 12K an hour, and stretching. I rented a treadmill in mid-January.
“In September for three months I was doing karate. I was hoping to incorporate the peacefulness that martial arts advocate. I liked that the teachers explained the theory when showing you blocks and sequences.
“Before that I had a fitness trainer.
“I went through a phase of hot yoga three times a week.
“Running is prepping me for spring and heading outdoors.”
“Years ago I was exhausted, frustrated, and overworked, so I went to Montreal for a break. In a moment of reflection I thought, ‘I don’t want to feel this way’ and I remembered going to Ayurvedic medicine workshops and seeing others content and grounded. I was inspired to be that way. The solution was about commitment to health.
“I cater my diet to the environment, the seasons, and what’s happening in my life. I‘m prone to inflammation and eczema and used to have acne, so I eat an anti-inflammation diet, which means I cut out hot, spicy, and overcooked foods or barbecue or deep-fried foods.
“Breakfast is quinoa porridge and almond milk.
“Lunch is salad with avocado and chopped chicken, celery, fennel, and cherry tomatoes.
“Dinner is baked white fish with lemon, steamed veggies with a spoon of olive or argon oil, which has a toasted nutty taste, leafy greens and grains.”
“Vasant Lad was the first Ayurvedic doctor I learned from. I like his philosophy on radiating health and his persona.
“In terms of staying grounded, my fiancé encourages me to be calm; I can be high strung.
“I keep a blog and post about beauty and Ayurvedic wellness. Through that I got a deeper understanding about my philosophy on wellness. Before it was intuitive, and now my approach is more concrete.”
“I like electro stuff like Yeasayer and Kool and the Gang’s Get Down On It – it’s the perfect balance of feeling invigorated without being overwhelming.”
“I easily get wrapped up in things that don’t go to plan, so that’s probably why my embodiment of health is about being grounded.”
Sammie Kennedy, Canfitpro certified trainer, says Ms. Ma’s balanced diet suits her goal, yet a strength workout may better suit Ms. Ma’s personality as it will increase lean muscle mass.
Indulge in excitement
“One suggestion is for Kirsten to allow herself to be that ADD exerciser for an hour a few days a week and get that out of her system with workouts that incorporate variety, like Crossfit, in which she’s challenging her muscles and allowing her body to indulge in that excitement that she seems to be trying to work out of her system and personality.”
Charge brain to calm down
Ms. Kennedy, who is the creator and CEO of Toronto-based Booty Camp Fitness and Femme Fitale, says the intense mental and physical involvement required to participate in vigorous activities can help parts of the brain responsible for balancing body chemicals, thinking well, and feeling grounded.
“It may take Kirsten a month to see results from exercise because in the first month her body adjusts to the movement pathways between brain and muscles. If she starts doing one push-up and then at the end of six weeks she can do 20, that’s a measurable accomplishment, which lends itself to calmness because of that confidence.”
This interview has been condensed and edited
Special to The Globe and Mail