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The Mama Diaries: An inspirational weekend at the W Hong Kong with MAYYA Movement

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“What if one day could change your life for the better?”

It was the challenging question dangled at the beginning of MAYYA Movement, the recent one-day women’s luxury health and wellness event that unfolded at the W Hong Kong.

Of course life can change in a day… in a moment. Chance meetings with future spouses, unintended conceptions, helping a stranger who becomes your best friend – these are the spontaneous events that immeasurably change our lives for the better.

But what about when that complete life turnaround is not accidental? When the chance to change is consciously given to us, and placed in our hands as instruments for a better life, leaving us to decide which ones to play? (Forgive me if I’m sounding a tad preachy: I just experienced MAYYA Movement, and it was all shades of motivating in that way.)

Before I prattle on any more, I’m hearing shouts of, “But what the *#$% is MAYYA Movement, preachy girl?!” It’s a concept founded by Hong Kong’s go-to girl for all things wellness, Nealy Fischer, that encourages women to lead healthier, balanced and confident lives. For Nealy, the decision to create MAYYA Movement was as much personal as professional­, brought on by a life-changing event that inspired her to find the best tools to lead her dream life and graciously share them with others.

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The MAYYA Movement weekend (perfectly placed at the chic W Hong Kong) was the launch event, which offered a full night and day of fitness classes, gourmet healthy meals, workshops and presentations by an all-star roster of acclaimed international speakers and trainers, rounded out with some heavenly pampering. All the proceeds went to the Karen Leung Foundation, which supports the research and reduction of gynaecological cancers in Hong Kong.

When I was kindly invited to participate, I had a little snigger at my own expense and wondered if I was secretly a test case. You see, I am the least athletic person in the world (snails have a higher heart rate), my dinner menu is often limited to popcorn and wine, and I don’t practice positive thinking ­–­ I stress. So off I headed to the W, eyes dazed with the traumas of modern life and pressures, wondering if a life like mine could really change in a day.

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And it did. Someone call someone, because this MAYYA thing actually works. And it wasn’t all about chakras, and whiffs of sage, and unthinkable pipe dreams. Every component felt realistic, energising and accessible. There may not have been an ounce of gluten in sight, but there was wine, and I even got to go home to cuddle my kid in-between the days’ events. I certainly left my comfort zone, but not in an uncomfortable way.

For me, the change that MAYYA Movement brought was mostly about waking up and smelling the healthier living. I didn’t just feel inspired, I felt compelled to cook better food for my family, to throw down the gauntlet and challenge myself to some exercise, and to take my health seriously. It mostly happened through a spine-tingling keynote speech by Dr. Mark Hyman (the Huffington Post’s medical columnist and author of about a thousand high-selling books) about preventing disease rather than treating its symptoms. My wellness revelation also came from an intensely spiritual yoga class that got muscles protesting that I never knew existed, and a constant procession of delicious food that actually made me feel good at the end of the day.

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For others, the motivation of MAYYA may have favoured the brilliant presentation by renowned life coach Lauren Zander (this woman really needs to give a TED Talk), the raw food cooking demonstration by chef Priscilla Soligo, the Pilates and Physique 57 fitness classes that provided a preview into shaping a dream body, or perhaps just the chance to connect with like-minded women facing the same fears and seeking similar goals. That was the beauty of MAYYA Movement – the vehicles to better living just kept driving past like a parade of wellness, and it was up to us to decide which ones we wanted to jump into and drive home.

And, of course, with the stylish Nealy Fisher steering the ship, every twist and turn was carefully curated for the discerning women of Asia – from the chic wrist jewellery that served as our weekend pass; to the complimentary abdominal checks, nails and massages; to the option of having one-on-ones with Dr. Hyman and Lauren Zander for any personal concerns. While there was wine and healthy canapés to nibble at, the menu was generally hardcore on the health front: no sugar or dairy for morning coffee, just honey and coconut milk. (Note to self: Healthy food isn’t gross. It’s nice. And completely guilt-free. Imagine that.) Every guest took home a gift bag brimming with vouchers designed to keep that lifestyle change in motion, reminding us that this was the beginning of a continuous journey, not an unrepeatable glimpse into feeling good.

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Because, as Lauren Zander starkly put it (in words to this effect): “You are the author of your own life. If you don’t make the changes you want yourself, you are going to be stuck here forever. Dare to dream and do the things you need to do, because guess what? No one else is coming.” Or, perhaps it’s Dr. Mark Hyman’s words that resonate: “Most people have no idea how close they are to feeling good.”

For me, I knew five minutes into the event that I was tired of suffering from what Dr. Hyman calls “FLC (Feel Like Crap) Syndrome”. Mums are particularly prone to it, especially those like me who are stuck in an unhealthy snack-laden diet rut. We tend to convince ourselves that we are too busy to workout, and are too lazy to research foods that can stop disease forming in its tracks. Thanks, MAYYA Movement, for giving me the tools and confidence to make that choice to press the reset button and reconnect with myself, and in a completely gentle and unforced way (I’m the preacher here, not team MAYYA, ok?).

The MAYYA Movement event at W may have wrapped up for this year (sobs), but the good news is that this was just the start. You can sign up for future MAYYA Movement news and events here. Your future healthier and happier self will thank you – pinkie swear, tired mums.

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