photo shoot

A couple of weeks ago, my husband and I did a photo shoot for his sponsor Camel in their headquarters in Guangzhou.

I thought that it would be mainly my husband that they would take photos of, because after all, it is him that they sponsor, not me. But, as it turned out, I had to be in the pictures as well and it was all more professional than I thought. I thought we would just dress in some of their clothes, they would take a few photos and that was it.
Not according to them…

It took a whole day: from 9.30am till 6pm. They had a stylist who was doing our makeup and hair, we had to change into different clothes a lot and we had to put on some gear (e.g. climbing gear, backpack,…). I felt uncomfortable a couple of times. Like the time when the guy was doing my makeup and he said that I really didn’t put a lot of makeup on myself. He was surprised to see how little makeup I applied myself. I applied mascara and eye-shadow, which was already more than I did before and no, I don’t apply any foundation or BB cream now as the temperatures are still over 30 degrees and it would run down my face in 5min anyway.

While he was doing my makeup, some real models showed up: they would do the normal clothes line. I felt very conscious of myself. They were tall, slim and beautiful!! And most of all: they knew what they were doing. They did their thing and after just 1 hour they finished. As with us, they had to tell us over and over again where to look, what pose, do it more natural, not too natural, smile, don’t smile, look up, look down. It was exhausting! I know now that I am not a model and don’t even want to be one.

Another embarrassing moment was when 1 of the trousers were a bit too tight. The girl who dressed me (yes, I had my personal assistant who took me to the dressing room and helped me dress), said that they might be a bit too tight. Me, not wanting to admit that I do have big thighs, said it was fine. But, I had to wear them a couple of times and yes, I was very conscious on how tight they were. Time to go on a diet, I guess (although till this moment, I still haven’t started on this diet just yet, I will soon)!

All in all it was a nice experience and it might have been the only photo shoot I will ever do, so it was good to see that a model’s life can be quite hard and that it’s not so good for your self-confidence at times!

Long time not online

Hello everyone,

It’s been a while since I have posted another blog.

A lot has happened these couple of months! Beginning of July we went on honeymoon for more than 6 weeks. I succeeded to:

  • summit my first mountain of 5300m (well, actually, my first mountain ever! I had never been close to a mountain before);
  • we did a trekking of 5 days in between mountains (where we had to climb over a few mountain passes, some as high as 4800m, my feet were covered in blisters and I was just glad I was still kind of able to walk till the finish line);
  • we climbed a second mountain: I went till 5000m and stayed at the campsite, while Eric went with our guide to the summit of 5588m. Although, Eric climbed already several mountains, some of them much higher than this one, he told me that it was the most difficult and dangerous one he ever did;
  • then, we did a last trekking of normally 5 days, but we ended up doing in 6. Our last day, we would go on a hiking without our guide in nature. It would normally take 3 hours, we did it in 2 full days: we got lost, had to sleep on top of a mountain on a small ridge and the next morning we had to leave all our stuff behind as it was too dangerous to take with us. We managed to finally arrive at the touristic side of the region and were just in time to take the last bus back (otherwise we would have to walk another 40km to get out of the spot).

And… finally we had our Chinese (very traditional, but a lot of fun too) wedding party. All this, I will describe in more detail these next few blogs…

I will start with our wedding party first, as this is still the freshest in my mind and the most wonderful, happy, mystical experience my husband could give me!!!

Tai Chi for everyone

I came to China to practice Kung Fu and Tai Chi. I still practice Tai Chi. It’s such a big part of my life, so I want to share some of my personal experience about it.

More and more research is showing how Tai Chi can help you to stay healthy or to help older people to maintain balance, a normal blood pressure, a healthy heart and much more.

In fact, most people still see Tai Chi as something for old people. Even in China, most people forgot about the benefits and the ancient art of Tai Chi and see it just as exercise for the old to keep fit, a bit like aerobics for the elderly.

Nothing can be more from the truth. Tai Chi is more than that, as I will tell you from my personal experience.

When I was younger, I was already interested in martial arts, so I practiced judo and karate, but just as a recreational sports, not for competitions. So, I only practiced twice a week. I was sometimes into running, but was never good at it (2 or 3 km, at most 5km, and I was as red as a tomato and was panting for the next hour).

I loved exercise and I went to the gym frequently, but now I realize that I was never pushing myself. I was never trying to improve much. I just went along with the coach, e.g. during a spinning class, or was just trying to lift heavier weights, but never enough to improve my fitness level.

Until now, I didn’t realize what I was doing. I thought I worked on my health and that I was fit enough. Little did I know.

I hang out with people now who are into mountaineering, marathons and ultraruns. Compared to them, I am in really bad shape. But, I am also amazed at my current fitness level. I can’t run a marathon, but the girl who could only run 2 or 3 km, can all of a sudden run 16km without much preparation. Rock climbing? Ok, I’ll try and to my surprise I can finish routes that are a bit above IMG_20150531_063721beginner level (with pushing myself hard and people shouting encouragement from 20m down, yes, it’s also about overcoming a fear of heights).

How come that I can run 16km in 33 degrees celsius, while my more than 10 years younger self was panting at 3km in a colder climate?

The answer I got after reading some books and after some self-evaluation, is because of my Tai Chi.

Tai Chi gives you good balance, so I will put my feet and my body in a good way, which will make me less prone to injuries. The most important change is my breath. Tai Chi teaches you to breathe deeply and properly, the abdominal breathing. This way of breathing gives me more oxygen, which gives me more endurance. Tai Chi is a fully integrated system: the different movements let all your muscles work and because you practice them in a soft flowing way, you are more aware of what is going on in your body. If you put a foot or other body part in a different position, you will be more aware of it and you will adjust it faster. Another important feature is that it gives you a better posture, so my back is straight all the time. Every time when I curve my back or I slouch a bit, my body will correct itself immediately. This is important for running, but also in our every day life. As we are spending more time behind the computer or on the couch, a good posture is inevitable to stay healthy and fit into old age.

So, Tai Chi gives you a lot of advantages and not only when you are old, you can benefit from it at any age. That said, Tai Chi is no miracle cure too. You should always listen to your body and give your body enough rest after you do strenuous exercise like running. But, as Tai Chi will teach you, be aware of what is going on in your body and you will know when to stop or when to take a rest for some days.

I invite everyone to try some Tai Chi classes and feel the difference yourself.

When you know he is the right one…

I start my new chapter in Shenzhen, China. I have lived in Yangshuo, Guangxi for 6 years. I had the best of times there and I had the worst of times. The best of times was when I met people from all over the world, some of them became really close friends. Even though they left China, I know that wherever we are in the world, we will stay in touch and will make an effort to see each other.
The worst of times is when I got hurt by men. I had a long relationship when I came to China, but because foreign men are popular with Chinese girls here, he left me for a Chinese. Also, once in China, we did everything together and from what I know now, we were not fit for each other anyway. I was alone for almost 2 years after that. I dated some guys, but it stayed with just a couple of first dates.
After that, I met a Chinese guy and we hit it off immediately. We had the same interests and we had a lot of fun together. Until more than 2 years into our relationship, I wanted to take it to another level. I wanted to marry him and wanted to have it more serious (after all, we had been living together for 2 years by then), but he became withdrawn and stayed out with friends more and more. Until I heard that he dated another girl. He broke my heart and it took more than a year to get over this relationship and to trust guys again.

Back in the single life, I also realized that Yangshuo was not the town for me anymore. It’s very touristic and it turned more and more into a party place for rich Guangdong people to come and party for the weekend. Although, I started to avoid the center of town and practiced tai chi by myself in quiet places, I started to feel very lonely as well. Most of the foreigners were still meeting in the bar. For me, I felt that chapter was closed. I wanted to move on with my life. I wanted to have more in life and not just a day job and hang out in the bar at night. I felt I was stuck there.

It took a while to know what I really wanted. Last year, 2014, I went to Belgium, my home country 2 times: in summer for the wedding of my brother and in winter to celebrate christmas (which I hadn’t celebrated in Belgium since I moved to China). Both times, I thought of moving back to Belgium. At least, there I had my family and still some close friends who know me for many years. Back in China, I thought if I would at least try to live in a big city, but the thought of starting all over in a big city where I hardly knew anyone, frightened me.

After thinking about all my possibilities, I returned to Yangshuo in January this year. With a new confidence and a brighter look onto life: I would go back to Belgium and find a job there. Even if Belgium wasn’t the country for me anymore, I could stay with my family for at least a year and in the future I could always move back to China. I felt I needed to be with the people I loved most.

But life gave me another direction…

Back in China I started to teach at my old school again, because I couldn’t move during the period of Chinese New Year and it would take a while to sort all my things out, not in the least my little dog, who I was planning on taking with me to Belgium.
At school, I met an interesting guy: Eric. We started dating and he showed me a whole different Yangshuo: he was into rock climbing (I had done it a couple of times, but because I never had friends who were really into it and because I was focusing more on tai chi, I never stuck to it). He always went climbing with many others: foreigners and Chinese. They were all really close with each other and I saw for the first time that there is something that binds climbers: they will help you with everything and encourage you to push your limits. We had the best times: we went camping a couple of times or we just made a fire near our climbing site and when we were not climbing we had great talks about life.
The Yangshuo I saw now, was one of being close to mountains, quiet spots, natural caves,… Not the hustle and bustle of the town. It made me look at it in a different new way. After 6 years, I looked with new eyes at the place I lived in for so long.

Still, I knew my life was not in Yangshuo anymore. Eric and I became a couple. He lives in Shenzhen, so after Chinese New Year, I moved with him to Shenzhen. We immediately lived with each other. I had to adjust to the life in a big city, but it was also very exciting and there are endless possibilities here.

In April, Eric went to Nepal to climb the Mt. Everest, which ended in a disaster because of the earthquake (see my previous blog entry). Because of this experience, I knew more than ever he is my perfect match and I never want to lose him. He felt the same way. So much so, that we got married yesterday.

June 5, 2015 is our official wedding day! It’s only by law, we will have our wedding party on a different day. It feels perfect!
When you know you have the right one, you don’t need to wait for a certain time to get married. It all goes natural and smooth…

I wish for everyone to find their perfect match and have a fulfilling life! Tell me about the time where you met your life partner or tell me about your past love experiences. 

New features

Hello everyone,

This has been my personal blog for a while now. I have written about my personal thoughts, my experiences and the personal development I went through. Especially, living in China.

My life has changed so much recently and I have decided to change my blog a bit. I will write about my life with my new Chinese boyfriend. Because I have moved with him to a big city, Shenzhen and we have our cultural differences, I will mainly write about our everyday life and our experiences.

My boyfriend is quite adventurous: he is into running marathons and ultraruns, mountaineering and rock climbing. I came to China to learn martial arts. My main focus in life were these sports. Read about what we are doing and if he can change my mind into following him more on his adventures.

I also have a health blog, which you can follow here: https://healthybodymindblog.wordpress.com/

Enjoy the reading and please feel free to comment on my articles and share your experiences in a foreign country.

Rock climbing and life

The past couple of weeks I am really into rock climbing. I have been living in Yangshuo for more than 6 years, but never really did it. I just didn’t hang out with the climbers and I was focussing too much on Tai Chi.

But, since I came back, I have a student who is a climber and I was teaching during Chinese Newyear. On the first day of Chinese Newyear, we had a barbecue on the countryside near a good climbing area. He had his climbing gear with him and some of his friends came to climb as well. It was a perfect day!! And, even though my arms felt pumped mid-way I finished the route, which I was so proud of.

From then on I loved it and went climbing every weekend. I went to places around Yangshuo I had never been before and I met some of the best people. The climbing community is something special! Everyone is very friendly, want to help you, encourage you on your climb and share everything. It is so laid back and being in nature, with birds singing around you, is just a magical feeling.

The other, more magnificent, feeling is the feeling of victory, of overcoming yourself. Rock climbing is a little about technique, but much more about overcoming fear, being confident in your strength and to overcome your mind.

I started with not so easy routes and went to more difficult ones too quickly. I always wanted to give up mid-way (a couple of times I really had to, because it was too difficult), but then my friends would encourage me to try one last time and all of a sudden I could finish the route. So, it’s not my lack of strength or my lack of technique (though if you look at my arms and knees, I do need to work on my technique: I have scratches and bruises everywhere). Mostly, it is in my head. My mind is telling me that I am not strong enough or I suddenly feel afraid of falling and that the rope won’t hold me and I will die.

This is why I want to do rock climbing more often, because it will not only make my body stronger, but most of all it makes my mind stronger. And a strong mind is good in everything you do. If I believe in my abilities, if I overcome whatever fear I might have, I will succeed more in life. I will succeed in other areas in my life as well: finance, relationship, career, health,… Because I take well-measured risks, because I learn to know how far my body and mind can go and I learn to be able to push my limits a little bit higher each time.

I want everyone to know that you can do more and handle more than you think! Whenever you have a difficulty, you can bounce back easier or have more courage to face it and go through! Never let difficulties put you down or give up on something! Know that life gives you some difficult paths to walk on, but that makes it more interesting sometimes and it will make you a stronger person who will have a lot of life experience and will know how to handle a lot of things. You won’t be afraid to live life to the fullest anymore…

But also bear in mind, that you have to take measured risks. To think that you can handle just anything, is foolish. You have to know your limits and if it’s just too difficult, than it means that you have to give up, it’s not the right path for you to walk on. Try a different direction.

Everyone has a different path to follow and everyone will know in the end what it was they had to learn and overcome in their life. But the way towards the end, the learning process, is far more interesting and far more challenging.

IMG_20150315_094135
This is what I have discovered while rock climbing. I gave up too easily all the time, I pitied myself sometimes for not having a good career, no money, not having a longlasting relationship. It is amazing that a kind of exercise made me realize so much about my life. Even though, rock climbing is laid back, you are also always aware of the feeling that, if something goes wrong, you lose your life. I think, this is what makes this sport so philosophical as well!

Exclusive Tai Ji retreat in Bali!!!

I will organize a Chen Tai Ji retreat in Bali from 18 May 2015 till 25 May 2015. This is mainly for beginners to give them some immersion in the world of Tai Ji and Qi Gong in a beautiful setting. So, they will be able to concentrate on Tai Ji during these 7 days, ask questions and practice by themselves. Places are limited! Please help me spread the word. If it’s popular, I will do this more often and invite more teachers – guest speakers to contribute.

This is the program:
18 May: welcome dinner

19 May: morning: 1 hour Qi Gong; breakfast; 2 hours Tai Ji – lunch
afternoon: 2 hours Tai Ji
evening: 15 minutes meditation + question round and share experiences

20 May: morning: 1 hour Qi Gong; breakfast; 2 hours Tai Ji – lunch
afternoon: 2 hours Tai Ji
evening: 15 minutes meditation + question round and share experiences

21 May: morning: 1 hour Qi Gong; breakfast; 2 hours Tai Ji – lunch
afternoon: guest speaker (someone who has been living many years in China, learned
Tai Ji, Qi Gong, acupuncture, Chinese medicine will give a lecture
evening: Balinese evening with dance and buffet

22 May: morning: 1 hour Qi Gong; breakfast; 2 hours Tai Ji – lunch
afternoon: 2 hours Tai Ji
evening: 15 minutes meditation + question round and share experiences

23 May: morning: 1 hour Qi Gong; breakfast; 2 hours Tai Ji – lunch
afternoon: free afternoon to do your own training or go into town and explore Ubud
evening: 15 minutes meditation + question round and share experiences

24 May: morning: 1 hour Qi Gong; breakfast; 2 hours Tai Ji – lunch
afternoon: 2 hours Tai Ji
evening: 15 minutes meditation + question round and share experiences

25 May: morning: 1 hour Qi Gong; breakfast; 2 hours Tai Ji – lunch
afternoon: last 2 hours of training
evening: free

The total cost is 1000 EUR, included a room in a very nice resort in Ubud, Bali, breakfast and lunch included, 1 welcome dinner, 1 Balinese evening, 1 spa treatment, guest speaker and all lessons + video of the form you learned.

If you or any people you know are interested, send me an email at: healthy-body-mind@outlook.com