Touchdown in Moldova DAY 1 Commencing

Hello people!

So, yesterday was a LONG day! My daughter and I boarded an extremely packed flight from Houston to Istanbul at 7 p.m. so we could sit on the runway until our final 9 p.m. takeoff. Everybody had a baby! Seriously, it was National Bring Your Baby on Your Flight Night….and they all cried until about 5 a.m. when we had given up any chance of sleep. It’s not all bad though :) Security was awesome in the Houston Airport, as they complimented my cool haircut and were super sweet and helpful to Debbie. We were sent straight through with well wishes for our flight.

Our flight itself was full of movies and food. It was a little like a movie marathon with your bestie. Turkish Airlines hands out Turkish Delight before you ever reach cruising altitude. Though it’s not my fave treat (um, hello, chocolate!), it was fun to eat Turkish Delight on Turkish Airlines. It’s the little things in life.

Since the flight was 2 hours delayed, we had a HOME ALONE moment of running through the airport in Istanbul. The doors to our flight opened about 8 minutes before boarding our connecting flight was to begin. We rushed through at a rapid pace…to the security check point. Again, security was awesome and nice, even though Deb had to have her first pat down. Happens to me all the time, so I figure it was a good initiation to missions for her. Once through security, we got our cardio on with sprints through various groups of people and stairs at every turn. Bonus: After sitting for 15 hours the workout felt good.

Once we arrived at our gate, I was thrilled to see boarding had not yet begun. There was a group of young Moldovans in front of us, who repeatedly took selfies with us in the background….”Americans”. Debbie thought it was awkward, I told her to get used to it. We touched down in Moldova around 9:30 and made it out of the airport quite quickly. We were graciously picked up by Vlad (who runs the BOL center: check it out here www.bol.md) and whisked to our hotel where I got about 4 hours sleep.

Now, I have had breakfast and I am seemingly pointlessly telling you about my flights…why? Well, some other things happen when you fly. Most of us fall victim to it, but I am trying to help you avoid it.

First, I feel “fluffy”. You know what I’m talking about? I feel like I’ve gained 20 pounds in 2 days. Now, the science nut in me knows that this cannot happen….however, the woman in me is secretly crying and wanting more chocolate. So, what do I do to help with this issue? Check it out:

  1. Positive self talk: I remind myself that I am here to serve a purpose, not walk a runway.
  2. YOGA! I did 40 minutes of yoga, focused on integrating my core back into place (we lose it on extremely long flights) and stretching out shoulders and hips. Plus, twists will fix everything.
  3. Eat. It’s simple, what I do takes energy. That “fluffy” feeling will not go away if I try to starve myself…however the people I am helping may want me to go away.
  4. Realize the facts: I am extremely sleep deprived, overloaded on stress (did you see the connecting flight issue), and already prone to bouts of inflammation….these things happen. I pack plenty of spandex and sweat pants and I get over it.
  5. Focus on the good. Even though I am fluffy and tired, I was told I look much younger than the last time (YAY for no makeup!) and I actually feel pretty decent. So, instead of focusing on the “feeling” of my body, I focus on what it can actually do.

In a few days, I’ll be feeling back to normal in my own skin. I have promised myself that the next 2 weeks will hold a lot of yoga as my personal workouts, since boxing and fighting will be on deck for training. This will promote balance in the body instead of imbalance which spurs inflammation. Always have a plan when you travel. Travel light and travel healthy! And remember, when the opportunity to enjoy a bit of Turkish Delight on Turkish Airlines presents itself….take it :)

Michelle

 

A Very Special Post

Opportunities rarely come along where I can combine passions with needs….and this is where my calling lies.

We’ve all been called to stand for something. My calling exists in the realm of human slavery and exploitation. What does that have to do with fitness and health? More than you think….

Beginning of Life is a my partner in Chisinau, Moldova. I visited them for the first time in January of this year. After a brief stay, opportunities to truly bring about change began to unfold. You see, Moldova is one of the largest exporters in Eastern Europe. Exporting what? People. Not goods. Not animals, but people who are treated like no more than a common farm animal…or worse. Beginning of Life has implemented a holistic approach to healing those who have been victims of trafficking as well as beginning prevention programs to prevent further exploitation.

Where does health and fitness come in?

First, most victims of trafficking and/or abuse tend to disassociate themselves with their bodies. They can even develop a hatred toward their own bodies. By creating a Safe Space with an environment to learn about your very own body and how to properly care for it, we will open up a new world of confidence and faith in those who once felt hopeless.

Second, controlling ones body is the most basic of human rights. We should have the right to feed our body well (not worrying about being starved) and move our bodies in ways that feel good. The Safe Space we are working on will provide classes on nutrition, movement, and various forms of exercise ranging from dance to yoga to kickboxing.

Third, self-defense classes will be an ongoing part of the BOL ministry and will be offered to victims as well as family. These classes do not exist to promote further violence, rather they will teach each individual that they are worth defending their own life and the lives of their loved ones.

Fourth, trainings will be held 2 times per year to ensure that these girls have the skills needed to make a living. Upon the initial trainings (once the center is funded and opened), many girls will be able to teach various classes and be directly involved in training clients to take better care of what we truly have been gifted: our bodies. Scheduled trainings* will include the following:

  • Boxing
  • Kickboxing
  • MMA Training
  • Dance/Hip Hop
  • Yoga
  • Pilates (mat based)
  • Strength Training
  • Cardiorespiratory classes
  • Nutrition for fitness
  • Nutrition for disease prevention
  • Suspension training (TRX)
  • Self Defense

Fifth, the staff at BOL will have access to this Safe Space during off hours so that they can take care of their own fitness and health requirements as well, thus effectively restoring the energy needed to change their side of the world.

The most common question is WHY? Why am I raising awareness and funding for another country? Well, I love them deeply. Moldova is not highly known by most and they need help, just like other countries. Truth be told, this is not the last Safe Space I am spearheading. I am working on a program for girls through my church now and plan on developing a Safe Space here within the next year. Changes are happening, but help and hope are needed….

So, what can YOU do to make a difference? Well, the easiest and most quickly effective route is to click the button to the right of the page——— There you can donate to funding this Safe Space in Moldova and be a part of changing the history of a nation…and perhaps yours as well. Also, *consider a trip to Moldova to participate in trainings. If you are a certified master trainer or instructor, I would be THRILLED tyo have your expertise with us. Don’t confine yourself to the classes listed above. Think outside of the box and bring in a fresh perspective. If you’re interested, please email me at michelle@michellecfitness.com

You can also let your voice be heard. Tell everybody in your social network what if going on and the steps being taken to make a change. Write, speak, act it out in mime…whatever gift you have use it! You will never be the same, nor will you ever want to.

As I close today, I ask only that you consider how your role will play out here. Commit to being used for something bigger, maybe even something that scares you. Live your life louder than ever before. You won’t be sorry, and you surely won’t ever be bored :)

Check out my friend Peters story about his Moldova. This will give you more insight into a people so very dear to my heart.

Hello y’all

I was born in Russia but I live in Moldova within 38 years. My name is Peter. I’m married and have 2 daughters.

I work a lot with US teams translating to them in different country sides, visiting different villages, seeing lots of people, listening lots of stories. I started to translate in 2001.

Our country has awesome nature and people are very hospitable to strangers over here. The main religion here is orthodoxy. There are people, who consider themselves to be believers, following traditions only. People hear about God but don’t know Him personally. There is difference to hear and to know.

We have many Evangelical organizations over here but there is a huge field of non believers as well. Our goal isn’t only bringing Gospel to non believers but also making disciples. Unfortunately, there are some obstacles for reaching people.

Most of our non believers, as everywhere, have only one goal and that’s materialism. But there is a huge difference from other countries. Our people can’t reach that because of lack of work places all over the country. Good diploma will not give you a good job and that’s why people are leaving the country, I’m speaking about our young and young adult’s generation. Some, who can’t leave it trying to reach their goals by criminal tendencies. Our country is well-known because of sex traffic and black market (internal organs). There lots of children, who are left by parents trying to survive in different orphanages. I just mentioned about some obstacles we have over here.

Believers need to make up something new for get attention of such people. I also wanna tell you God is doing miracles over here working in hearts of people giving them salvation. I can’t describe that by words because there aren’t such words, which are able to describe them.

God is good and He never leaves us or forsakes us. I’m glad I live here because living here I should rely on Him everyday having no assurance at the future, without regular job. I can testify that God is always with my family and me, even if I think a situation is terrible, He brings me through it giving a joy and a peace. Peace, which can’t be described by words. He has His time and He is always on time, He is never late.

Be willing to be loud,

Michelle

Education, Prevention and Mobilization

Hello ALL!

I hope this post finds you enjoying Spring, no matter what that looks like to you :)

Today’s post is one that hits extremely close to my heart and will hopefully touch yours as well. So grab another cup of coffee (or tea), kick back and try to look like you’re working…..

Moldova Training 2

I am feeling beyond blessed as I stand here today. My journey to this stage in life has been unique and full of God interventions to keep me on my path. I have met many fascinating people and my entire world has begun to open up by leaps and bounds. The road I chose to travel was not easy by any means, but it has brought me to a place of daily inspiration and creativity. I spend my days being able to talk with people just like you (or maybe it IS you!). I educate people on healthier lifestyle choices, proper nutrition and healthy body image. I spread the word on prevention of disease as well as violence. And I hope that I am mobilizing a force to be reckoned with…a force that no longer accepts the status quo and refuses to become a statistic. THIS is my life.

Along with all of the above I am also striving to set an example for my children. A few years ago I simply wanted to teach them that you didn’t give up when circumstances got tough. I want them to be strong souls that persevere through adversity. Now, I strive to teach them more on top of that. I want my son and daughter to learn to be bold. I want them to believe that they can make a difference in a life, in a town, in a country and even in the world. I want them to know they have a voice and they can use it to BUILD or tear down. Each moment of every day affords us the opportunity to stand for something, change something and build something. I hope and pray they learn the quality of conviction and the action of perseverance. I am also loved by a man who acknowledges my flaws and believes in my dreams. He believed in me when I wanted a small studio in a small town and he believes in me when I seek to change the very fabric of a nation.

I don’t tell you all of this so you can think “Wow, she has it good.” Quite the contrary. I want to take you on a journey with me. Through this journey you will be able to visit lands you never knew existed. You’ll meet people and focus on faces who have heart warming and heart breaking stories to tell. You’ll find your “why” to this life. Why am I here? Why do I walk the path I walk? You’ll also discover your what….

I encourage you to join me on this journey with an open mind and an open heart. The best part? You can stay in your jammies on the couch! Well, I fully support moving, but you get what I mean. :)

Join me as we start a movement that will shape the world the same exact way I have been striving to shape lives for over a decade now:

EDUCATION: Just as you enjoy the little tidbits of information I give on nutrition, fitness and general health, there are others around the world who not only enjoy it, but NEED this information. Throughout my stay in Chisinau, Moldova I was able to educate young ladies who had been victims of sexual violence and human trafficking in the art of self-defense. The mere fact that I told them they were worth defending was a totally new concept…. As I go forth to help plan and fund a Self Defense Training Center for these girls and the surrounding community at risk for trafficking, I hope to educate on healthy body image and proper nutrition as well. ALL the same things you enjoy learning about, these girls enjoy as well. My heart breaks for them and I wish I could show you faces and names of those you may meet, but I am not allowed since even showing pictures of them on the web would contribute to further exploitation. Why should you consider being a part of changing someone’s life? You are here for a reason, just as they are. This very site may be where your paths collide and both of you are made a little more whole…

In Ethiopia I will be joined by my son. We will be educating again on self-defense and better body image. I’ll also be sharing any other form of fitness, nutrition or just plain fun and games they need. We will have a whirlwind week of visiting care points and meeting those whose needs exceed my own wishful thinking. They will learn how to nurture their physical bodies and grow in strength. Programs will be discussed for the ongoing help at these care points and the vital education and growth of these young people who have been left without homes and parents. Care to join me? I know, I know…Africa is quite hot in the Summer :) Their stories will be shown and people just like you can integrate them into your own story. The story of ONE who made a difference….

PREVENTION: Disease prevention is huge to me. My mother died when I was 17 and it is my full belief that it could have been prevented. It is also my belief that everything happens for a reason though. With proper nutritional guidance, you have come to know that you can prevent diseases such as cancer, heart disease, stroke, diabetes, etc. Did you know that with proper nutritional guidance you can even SLOW the progression of some of these diseases (such as cancer, AIDS, HIV) that run rampant in other parts of the world? It’s true. With proper education, we can be equipped to truly care for the bodies we have and that is what I will be sharing in both Moldova and Ethiopia. Along with the prevention of disease, I’ll be sharing something that will be of far more value in the short-term: prevention of further violence, especially against women. It is my heart’s desire to empower these women to be able to defend themselves and their loved ones. Please don’t misunderstand…I’m not teaching them to “fight”. I am teaching them to SURVIVE.

MOBILIZATION: Just as I have people in my own circle who have grown from little belief in their own abilities to actually teaching others, I plan to do the same the whole world over! No worries about me leaving you though, I plan to take you right along with me so you too can grow from their stories. I envision a world where women can wake up excited about what the day may hold, not fearful. I see jobs that girls have a natural affinity for (teaching, anybody?) that open up where they have never been. I see doors opening, much like the ones you may have seen as you began to take care of your body and treat yourself with a little more respect. I see a world mobilized to change.

Just like lacing up your tennis shoes or laying out your yoga mat is the first step towards many, I too have many steps ahead of me. For years it has been me giving you information. Now, I want to take you on a ride. Why? In the short-term, being involved in a purpose has been shown to help us reach our goals FASTER. Why? We’re focused on something other than ourselves, which gives us permission to change from what has become our normal. In the long run, perhaps YOU will begin to tell people what you are a part of and upon hearing YOUR story they will be inspired. Inspiration can spread like wild-fire and I am calling you to start yours today!

Live LOUD, Live LARGE, Live OFTEN,

Michelle

Don’t stay in the cage :)

Moldova 4

Get involved NOW: Chisinau, Moldova Self Defense Center