The F Word

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Now is the time to regain control of my body and my mind. I am firmly making a commitment to actively start to embrace myself and love the outside parts of me the same way I love the bomb-ass insides of me.

To be completely honest, I am at a total loss when it comes to trying to figure out where my inability to be kind and love myself originated. I have spent YEARS trying to identify that once I graduated college, entered the workforce, and became a teacher how I literally become obsessed with being the best. On a level, my extreme perfectionism is what has made me great at what I do and has really catapulted me to success as both an English teacher and fitness instructor. However, my unrelenting standards of myself have led to me this crossroads where I berate myself for my self-perceived shortcomings. My mind is a battleground of hostility raping my thoughts of anything positive.

I hear what students, friends, and loved ones say, “Oh, but you’re so strong and all those races you run!” And to me the translation in my head is:

Strong is the new word for voluptuous. And last I checked, voluptuous implies a negative connotation that we want to believe is disguised as curvy which is simply put: A nice word for chubby, chunky, or unfit.

[See? I told you it was a mess up in that head of mine]

That being said, I embrace the cold hard fact that my outsides do not match my insides and despite this whole “Positive Body Image Movement” I am not happy with myself and I want to change it.

Recently, I hired a personal trainer. Befuddling to imagine that as a trainer and a group fitness instructor that I would hire someone to work me out when I am more then qualified and capable of working myself out. The reality is just that when it comes to taking care of me I am bad at that. I live my life to help catapult others to greatness. Being a teacher and coach IS who I am. But when it comes to me, though I am filled with intense drive, I just cannot find the will to rally for myself. In some respects my fuel for perfection keeps me going but when faced with lifting after teaching a cycling class, I cannot muster the energy to motivate myself. Having someone whom I trust with the care of my fragile ego of my physical-self is paramount in helping me find how to love the outside me. Not surprisingly, finding the right person to empower me was easy since between Greg and I we know and have access to some of LA’s top trainers—yaassssss. I feel so touched, honored, and blessed at the lengths and willingness so many people were willing to extend in working with me. Ultimately, I ended up selecting someone I greatly respect and admire. What’s more is I picked someone I knew would not allow me to trash myself.

My first session was great. It was fun and it was hard. Never inaccessibly hard but the right amount of rehabilitative exercises to strengthen my knee while combining intervals to help me burn fat. And then, while working on the TRX machine it hit me. Right smack in the middle of my workout I had an epiphany.

Not only now, but in recent years when working out I hold back. Don’t get me wrong, in Crossfit I RX (as prescribed without modifications) my workouts and I work hard at anything I tackle but there is this part of myself that keeps something inside, locked up, and reserved. First of all, why do I hold back? What am I afraid of? Why can’t I go just a little longer, a little harder, with a little more weight?

The answer is I am so terrified of failure that I let it paralyze me.

I feel like I have built myself up to the world [and myself] that not being able to do something and do it well means I am a failure.

I shared this thought with my trainer and she seconded the notion that she suffers from the same thoughts. I am glad I shared it because it helped me feel justified but what’s more is by sharing it, it allowed me to finally take control of my fears of failing. Once I said it, and put it out into the universe, I had to own it and there was no looking back. I don’t think that until that precise moment that I even knew I subconsciously held back. It just kind of manifested in that moment so blatantly reflecting my true-honest self back for me to see. So I looked.

I looked without judgment and I committed to myself right then and there to have the resolve to not fear falling short of my own expectations.

I feel like by calling out my fears head on, out loud in the world has already given me strength. It has already made me stronger than I was before.

Tomorrow I have my 2nd training session and for the very first time in a long time, there will be nowhere for me to hide. Just me, some sweat, and unbreakable resolve.

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Finding Comfort in Discomfort – How I Combatted Repatriation Depression

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Arielle:

There is nothing more healing than sharing our stories with the world to build bridges. I am beyond honored and thrilled to share with you #PackYourMat.
Armen of Pack Your Mat is a yoga student, a friend, a son, a traveller, and above all someone who is putting it all out there. Read about his journey in yoga and honest approach while trying to heal. I love bringing my story with the world and I am so happy to bring you someone else’s tale.
PS, there is a rad pic of me teaching at One Down Dog and that makes me smile.
Enjoy the read. Follow. Subscribe. And always come back for more, xo.

Originally posted on Pack Your Mat:

How to find comfort in your most uncomfortable state is unfathomable, especially when you are right there in the glory of discomfort. These past six months I have, with all my strength, tried to reach a comfortable state of being with various moments where giving up was an easier option than not.  It will be dishonest of me to say that I did not have moments where I wanted to pack my stuff and go back to Barcelona, the city I lived in for the past six years. It will be an even bigger lie if I said I was enjoying the things I was doing. I found no interest or motivation in my daily interactions or activities. However, there were small snippets of light, where I was able to socialize and motivate myself to do things, like go on a hike or yoga. I knew that exercise would give me…

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Running the Rat Race

Work has been running me ragged. From teaching at school all day, to my classes in the evenings, to my own workouts, all mixed in with wedding planning madness. In the hurried lunacy of it all I wrote this poem:

Sickandtired
Sick
Tired
Sickandtired eternally glued together
Cramped and Amped both at the same time
Sleep eludes me but exhaustion overwhelms me
Body and mind
Together as one but head fights the heart
And the heart fights the head
Why can’t I find the solace I need?
Why can’t I find the balance that I try to weave?
Trying to begin, I finally find a place to start.
The ending is only the beginning I find
I guess this is where I no longer survive
I now thrive

Health, Happiness, and Healing: Starting Over

This sure has been one whirlwind of a week! I have so much to say so I am just going to unload it all in a series of posts in no particular order. I think what I would like to address first is my recent news which many of you already know via my various social media outlets.

Finally after years of seeing doctor after doctor and specialist after specialist I was recently diagnosed with PCOS, Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome. The road to finally get here has been filled with lots of tears of frustration—lots and lots of tears of frustration. With my recent diagnosis there is a sort of vindication as these last two years many doctors treated me like I was crazy. I mean, my blood work wasn’t just normal; it was stellar, reflective of someone who was very fit and committed to eating healthy. One doctor even beamed, “Your blood work reads like a pediatric patient—it’s even better than my kids!” So if the blood coursing through my body tells a story of health then why did my period mysteriously disappear 2.5 years ago to only come back months later but only intermittently?

How is it possible to gain 30 pounds despite committing to programs and lifestyles like Isagenix, vegetarianism, veganism, going gluten free, and [recently] the Paleo lifestyle paired with an intense fitness regimen?
How is it possible that right around my 30th birthday my reproductive system completely shut down and I was no longer ovulating?

No one it seemed could provide me with any answers so I continued to cry, workout harder, restrict more calories, and cry some more.

Finally one day my gynecologist looked me in the face and flatly said, “Arielle, we have no explanation why you’re infertile when you are so healthy. It seems as if your brain isn’t signaling to your ovaries to release the egg…” [Note: I was not trying to get pregnant] Naturally, not having the answer she decided to give me some hormones to induce menstruation which never did happen. But you know what did? All the wonderful side effects of hormone treatment: extreme mood swings and depression. Deep, deep, deep depression. There were times it was so dark in my mind I actually could see myself ending my life. I know it’s hard to imagine someone ‘like me’, a lover of all things in my life filled with such darkness but when the people we trust to take care of us do not understand what we are suffering from, they toss anything and everything at the problem and hope to find a solution. I felt so alone and angry that my body could just turn on me. I had no control over my cycle, my weight, and now my very own thoughts were being robbed and captained by a beast I could not tame. Thankfully, this extreme darkness only represents a brief period of my life during which I called my mother crying:

“I know I always said I didn’t want children…but now that the universe has stripped me of that gift without asking me and I didn’t even get a say in the matter.”

Eventually, I did start to menstruate albeit irregularly but apparently so long as one gets at least 4 periods a year it’s considered safe. Who knew that? Girls! You can be healthy and only menstruate 4x a year! Stop taking your placebo pills now! Whatever. I still don’t buy this bologna. But when you’re in a crowded room screaming and no one turns around, after a while you stop screaming and walk out.

Fast forward two years later and I am teaching fitness in LA. I have done some unimaginably awesome things like shoot a yoga reel, an indoor cycling fitness video, become a brand ambassador for a fitness clothing line, had a 4th knee surgery, and so much more all while I worked out more and harder and only got fatter. My clothes have stopped fitting. The only things I can really wear and experience some sort of comfort in are ironically workout clothes. I suppose the yoga instructor in me should embrace the fact that regardless of my expanding waistline [and knee injury] I was killing Crossfit workouts, running serious distance, and a cycling machine so I should be happy, right?

There is nothing worse than looking at yourself in the mirror, pinching the oozing sides of your stomach, then poking it in an effort to will it back into place. What’s more, there is nothing worse than facing the people of your classes wondering if they’re staring at you wondering how a fat ass like you landed this gig in the first place.

The cycle of self-hatred is vicious and to top it all off, when a doctor tells you that you’re gaining weight because ‘you eat too much’ it really doesn’t help the cause.

I don’t know about you, but I couldn’t just fade away into the masses and leave this thing alone, whatever this “thing” was with my body. All I kept telling myself and imploring doctors:

“I’m a yoga instructor damn it, I know the body. I understand the body. I know my body and I am telling you something just isn’t right.”

In yet another attempt to get some answers, recently I made a second appointment with my new gynecologist to get some answers. And though I am not sure I am any closer to understanding my body and why it hates me, I did finally get a diagnosis and have started medication.

But the real reason why I am sharing my story is to empower other women. Each day is a struggle to love my physical-self as I can be terribly rigid when it comes to self-acceptance. I genuinely want to take the steps to understand and control my PCOS while learning how to love myself. Since I subscribe to the notion that community can help elevate us all I have started a secret Facebook group for women with endocrine disorders, autoimmune diseases, eating disorders, body dysmorphia, cancer, or depression. Really I wanted to create a place for women looking to understand their inner-selves a little more is welcome. I wanted a sacred space where we share, we heal, and we work towards understanding ourselves just a little better. I wanted a place for women to share their stories without feeling judged and to feel heard. I wanted a place for someone like me to feel less alone and cultivate the tools to learn how to build myself up instead of berating myself for my self-imposed inadequacies.

I created this space for woman to stop surviving and to learn how to thrive.

I have never been one to sit and wallow in self-pity for an extended period of time. Notice how I carefully used the words extended period of time. But with my recent diagnosis I hit the interwebs and have started collecting a group of strong, beautiful, passionate women who are looking to connect. Perhaps it’s our pain that brings us together, but it’s our love and compassion that unites us. After all, my entire life has been about servitude—English teacher, yoga instructor, cycling instructor. I do not know how to do anything else. But what life has taught me is that I can be a victim of circumstance or I can take an active role in all of this and be a victor. I am choosing to stop allowing my exterior to determine my self-worth and how I feel about myself. Though I recognize what an uphill battle that this will be, with the community of women in my new support group I know we can do this together.

First Day of School…Again?

Today marked my third 1st day of school in less than a year and 4th school in my 10-year teaching career. I never thought I would be a “school-hopper”. Really I am one of those people who enjoy the routine and structure that comes with the stability of a workplace, and by a workplace I mean one workplace. However, I am also one who needs to be able to enjoy work while feeling happy and invested in a cause greater than myself. So when I made the choice to leave my old school at Helen Bernstein High School, it was bitter sweet because I loved the soccer girls I was coaching, my AP students, and my colleagues. Yet, despite such sources of happiness, I ultimately decided that HBHS wasn’t a place I felt I could grow. With a heavy heart for the team and students I left behind, leaving was not the easy way out. Moving schools mid-year to accept a position at Fairfax High School would definitely be Baptism by Fire as its own host of challenges would arise but it was a risk I had to take.

In the short 7 hours that carve out the school day, I feel like I lived a lifetime! To help put it into perspective, I didn’t receive my classroom keys until 15 minutes before my 1st period class—Wait, where is my classroom?!

Where was the bathroom?

Where do I make copies?

How do I get supplies?

Who is the dean? Wait. Is there a dean?

Is there a refrigerator? Microwave? I need to eat!

Will MSIS (online attendance system) work?

My mind was whirling a million miles a minute with the “where’s” and “what if’s.” Finally, I walked into my room, wrote my name on the board, took a deep breath in and told myself that despite all the unknowns that today presented that I could do it, I would do it, and shit, I had no choice. Tossing all my fears aside, I opened the door to room 211 and greeted my 1st period students.

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Greg in my new classroom. Check out that sweet peeling wall paper.

Overall, in today’s classes we had riveting conversations about the past, the present, the future and how they all connect. We did a little talking, a little writing, and a little more talking. And the crazy thing of it all? When I asked my students to take out a pen and paper…they all had pens and paper!

Amazingly enough, today contained only a few minor hiccups. In particular, one young lady who arrived late to class with a massive attitude. Upon checking in with me she was very unkind despite me wearing my “this-is-my-first-day-of-school-nice-teacher-face”. She very grandly sat down in front and read my name aloud as she read it to herself, then rolled her eyes. My natural instinct was to immediately fire back at this young lady but today something told me not to. Something in me reminded me that I promised myself that Fairfax was my time to work on my PR campaign and soften my approach. Me holding my tongue was not just softening my approach, it was unchartered territory. Her classmates whipped their heads around and with wide eyes, they eagerly awaited my response all while, I still didn’t recognize this young lady’s behavior. Class unfolded and interestingly enough, the same young lady with the attitude is raising her hand, participating and writing furiously on her paper.

I am beyond confused at this point and resolve to stop trying to understand teenagers.

Class ended and she stayed behind. She formally addressed me and apologized for her behavior. SHE APOLOGIZED. Unprovoked. Without me saying anything—I was just gonna let this whole incident go. The young student went on to explain that she had a terrible morning and was angry, ultimately taking it out on me despite her ‘parents raising her better and to always respect her teachers’. She vowed to me that the girl I met at the start of class is not who she is and that she will not let me down.

I AM FLOORED. Never in all the years I have been teaching has this ever happened.

Note to self: Maybe it’s wise I continue to just keep my mouth closed…Yeah, let’s see how long that lasts!

Some other highlights from today included while waiting with Greg to lug my boxes to my classroom a[nother] young lady approached me inquiring if I were Ms. Miller. She introduced herself and let me know how much she is looking forward to moving into my class.

Perplexed, I inquire, “Move into my class?”

Her response, “Yes. Your class. A bunch of my friends have you and they said you seem like a really good teacher and I want to get the best education possible because well, isn’t that why we are in school?!”

She smiled, thanked me, and bounded off with her friend. I look to Greg and say, “God, I am glad you were here for that!”

Looks like my new approach really is working.

But for me it was more than this new approach. It was more like a vindication. Feeling appreciated or maybe I am just in the right place where a gal with purple hair is just understood. Who knows?

And the last bit of goodness I have to share…

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My most attentive student. Another vantage point of my new classroom pre-The Girl with Purple Hair’s transformation.

While in the hallway, a former student I had at Virgil Middle School FOUR years ago came running down the hall calling my name. She is now a Junior and every bit as lively as she was for the 2 years I had her in 7th and 8th grade. She also came to see me after school to chat. Naturally, eternally the gossip, she gave me the inside scoop on Fairfax but before I left she asked me, “Do you still hang out in your room at nutrition and lunch?”

“Of course I do, that will never change.” I said with a smile.

“Good!” she exclaimed, “I’ll see you tomorrow at nutrition and I’ll bring all my friends!”

And just like that, my day ended.

My Third 1st day in one year ended with something so familiar, yet so new. A familiar face from a classroom past that fondly recalls the comforts and sanctuary I was able to offer but transported to a new time and space filled with endless possibility. I cannot wait to see what tomorrow will bring and what’s more is I hope to continue to inspire you my readers, to never let fear decide your fate.

 

Life is about the people you meet, and the things you create with them. So get out there and start creating!

Inner-cising is the New Exercising

We are officially 7 glorious days into the New Year and it’s a perfect time to take personal inventory of the goals and intentions we set forth just a mere week ago. So, how are you doing thus far? I know that some goals will take time to unfold but what about the nitty gritty of it all in disconnecting so you can reconnect to yourself? Have you been kind to yourself? Patient and welcoming of the process? Excited about the potential of the New Year as it unfolds? How have you started chipping away at carving out your life and the path you want to walk? At 7 days into the year, I will let you know how I am doing with my intentions:

I have been taking better care of myself. I suppose it’s easy to do when I am not in the classroom, but I have been taking really good wholesome care of my body. In the last 4 days alone I have taken 2 yoga classes, well kind of 3 but whatever.

The irony and curse of yoga instructors is that we hustle all across town to serve our students and in the madness of it all from creating playlists to cleverly beating LA traffic, our own practice sometimes gets put on hold. I have enjoyed this delightful time with my body. My surgery and knee injury have taught me so much.

Yoga Tune Up

Therapeutic Yoga Flow at Equinox Encino with Yoga Tune Up balls.

First, there is this almost hyper-awareness of everything going on in my body right now. At least when I practice yoga—not right now, I am just sitting on the couch writing this with a grumbling tummy and all I can focus on is eating…Hmmmm, maybe that awareness really has shifted into all arenas after all. Nonetheless, I digress. In my recent dances on the mat everything seems so much more precise. My inhales and exhales deliberate and my movement sacred. It’s a funny thing what limited mobility does to a person, it forces you to slow down and savor whatever movement you do have. What’s more is I had a conversation with one of my Group Fitness Manager’s at Equinox and she said something that really resonated with me. While sharing about coming back from an injury where she broke her foot, she recalled thinking to herself “Ohhhh, that’s how people feel in my class.” And then it struck me—I realized my injuries and coming back from them are what make me human and better what I do because I get it—I see you. I really see you.

One of the greatest gifts that this journey of healing and self-discovery has given me is a new lease on my perspective of compassion and empathy. Not that I didn’t employ such things before while teaching but like you, I break and need to repair myself. Like you, sometimes I am afraid to move my body because of how it will feel. And like you, right now I am not where I want to be.

This is our time to employ a true sense of community as we take 2015 by storm and we heal one another. In class we look to our right, then look to our left and we say “Hi” to whomever next to us. We support one another when we are down and elevate each other by just being present. Showing up and hitting our mat consistently is what continues to connect us to our essential self while allowing us to acquire the tools to help serve those around us. Each an every time I show up to class, I show up to heal myself twofold: physically and to take the tools I learn on the mat and share them with you. Let’s dig in, tap in, and work in as we inner-cise while exercising and employ self-love and kindness.

Inside Out

Recovery is a funny thing. One would think that I would welcome the solace and down time but it’s killing me. I don’t do well without human contact, seriously. Eternally the extrovert, when I am alone for long periods of time it certainly does something nutty to me. Despite needing to occasionally recharge when I am home alone seldom do I listen to music or have the TV on for “company”. I know it surprises people to know that in my home I am shockingly boring. No music. No TV. Silence. Ahhhhhhh. I don’t know about you, but working with kids all day, then sweating to loud music while coaching participants on a mic, or cueing in a yoga class is enough to make a person crave stillness.

  • My time in stillness has been fruitful. Greg and I have knocked a bunch of wedding business off the list and that has been a tremendous help. That’s a huge feat considering when I start teaching at my new school next week, I will yet again be rendered useless around our house.
  • I have revitalized my blog. Which according to my goals and intentions for 2015, I plan to continue this momentum. Not only because the more I write, the more people read, then the more followers I’ll gain (though that’s also a great perk of writing often), but writing fills my heart with such a joy. I love to write. Maybe I should clarify; I love to write about my life, my past, my future, my failures, my successes, and my work. Maintaining this blog is more than a blog, it’s my life on display and you know I love that, so gawk away. Coming back to what I was discussing earlier about my recovery, this hasn’t been easy. And no one said it would be easy, seeing as anything and everything worth having in this life requires hard work. But for me, not being able to do things humbles me and represents the road ahead.

At just shy of the 2-week post op, last weekend I took an indoor cycling class taught by my fiancé Greg. Since my cycling classes would start back up again after the holiday schedules, it was important I tested the waters before hoping on to teach. Class was hard. Not because of the class profile but because cycling has never been that hard for me. Since I have little to no power in my right leg, I am relying on my left leg, but I am getting fatigued, so my low back hurts, and then there is the aching in my knee, and the wincing of my face. Ugh. But I didn’t get off that bike. Demoralizing at times in those 50 minutes, I kept willing myself to see it through to the end. Sometimes I stayed in the saddle instead of riding out of the saddle, and other times, I just closed my eyes and rode. Class ended and I was frustrated, so I decided to further test my limits in a Power Yoga class.

Ah, yoga. Nothing in this world feels as good as the victorious celebratory movements of yoga. I remember when I found yoga I fell in love with how yoga made me feel elegant, regal, and above all it made me feel beautiful. This may sound weird to you guys, but despite my limitations such as not being able to fully extend my leg, balance on it, or externally rotate the leg in Warrior II or Triangle, it almost felt like the yoga was magically healing me. I know, you’re laughing but you believe what you believe in, and I believe in my yogic-woo-woo stuff. Look, it doesn’t really matter what I believe in or what you believe in—all that matters is class was something that nourished me when I needed it most. And last I checked, that’s what yoga is: taking what you need when you need it the most permitting us to be selflessly selfish.

I walked away from my morning classes optimistic that I am moving along well while only being only moderately deflated. However, in an effort to be kinder to myself: I did ride 14.3 miles in that cycling class. Sure, my watts (power) were low but I rode for the entire class. And my yoga: I couldn’t move into some poses that aggravated my right leg/knee but I did move into Side Crow and connect to my body by practicing loving kindness. Seems to me by how things are progressing thus far that this journey of recovery will also serve as one of self-discovery as well. See ya out there folks and let’s heal one another.

Manifest OUR Destiny

About a week ago, Greg and I sat down and set our intentions for 2015. I really enjoyed carving time out of our lives to bring some direction and purpose to how we wanted to continue to embark upon our lives [as a soon-to-be married couple]. What’s more, when we sat down to make this list then completed it, I didn’t toss it aside to implement in 2015. For me, writing down things I wanted to manifest meant that there was no time like the present to dig right in and get down and dirty as we manifested our destinies.
I wanted to start simple. As with any sort of intention one sets, it should be the right blend of challenging just outside your reach to promote growth but also should be attainable. For me this meant biting off something that with my knee surgery looming in the near future I could still tackle with moderate success. I glanced down at my list and realize it’s largely composed of the physical self, and then my phone lights up. It’s another text from a friend chronicling how much we’d love to get together but we are both just so busy.

And then it dawns upon me, what kind of person and friend have I become? Have I really become the friend that creeps your Facebook, likes your pictures, and comments on your successes and happiness on Instgram but cannot pull it together to get in a phone call or come over?! This realization angered me and right then and there I committed to the people I care about:

Be a better friend.

None of this “Come take my class then we can hang after” garbage; It was time to demand the same level of friendship that I demand of those in my life. In the short time since I have dedicated myself to truly being present for my friends I have celebrated the birthday of a beloved student who takes my yoga classes, had dinner with a dear friend whom I also met while teaching yoga years ago, visited a friend who is pregnant, and listened to a friend going through a tough breakup while running errands. It feels pretty darn good to elevate people in my life other then in a fitness room. It feels good just listening, breaking bread, and simply just being me. After all, isn’t that what the essence of friendship is all about? With that, I have decided to let you all into how Greg and I plan to better ourselves and now you can hold us accountable!

Arielle and Greg’s Manifesto

Greg

Arielle

  •  Box
  • Stretch More
  • Create business plan for restaurant concept/s
  • Save money and get out of debt
  • Get 6-pack [back]
  • Eat better
  • Drink less Starbucks
  • Read more
  • Get back into playing soccer
  • Find some sort of Martial Arts and try it!
  • Surf as much as possible
  • Do more yoga
  • Blog more regularly
  • Make more time for friends
  • Be better with finances
  • Be less unkind to myself

Commitments as a Couple

  • Secure some sort of sponsorship or ambassadorship for a fitness brand, race, or affiliated organization
  • Launch Relationships for Life: A 6-week life training program that Greg and I co-authored aimed at working to build [healthy and fun] relationships with food, fitness, significant others, and self
  • Continuing to lead a healthy lifestyle: Focusing in particular on our own fitness but most importantly, our attention to nutrition. Whether it’s Paleo or adopting a new lifestyle
  • Earn our Trifecta*

*The Trifecta is when one runs and completes Spartan Race’s 3 races: the Sprint, Super, and Beast in one calendar year. I completed my Trifecta in 2013 but Greg and I love Spartan Race and set our sights on completing one together and then finishing in 2015 as a married couple!

Now, as you can see Greg and I have some serious work to do. But I can tell you that this is work that I am eager to work through, into, and take it all in for whatever the universe has got coming for me. As some of you already know, some items on my Manifesto are already in the works. Some things haven’t been started and some terrify me. Like I mentioned in yesterday’s post, that’s what goals should do: Push you to the edge of something terrifying and just when you cannot take it anymore and you are petrified—LEAP!

Yet, despite this pretty rad list of things that Greg and I will work vigilantly at achieving in 2015; the greatest commitment I will make this year is on June 20th when Greg and I wed in front of our family and friends.

Check Yo’self before You Wreck Yo’self

Many people like to use the New Year as a starting point to adopt a new fitness regimen. And it makes sense. This time of year comes after unrestrained over-indulgence, stressful travel or strained time with family, and/or a departure from one’s regularly schedule fitness routines. For those of you looking to the New Year to venture into something new, WELCOME!

greatness from chaos

I am glad that you are going to shake shit up in 2015 and rock the hell out of that comfort zone so you can grow. As you start researching things you would like to tackle, new studios, gyms, changing up classes, and trying new instructors (which you should ALWAYS do by the way) I wanted to offer some insider advice as a fitness professional to help demystify venturing into new and unchartered territory.

When you are new to a class, studio/gym, type of exercise, or trying a new format:

  1. Arrive early to class

    • Introduce yourself to the instructor
    • Let them know you are new
    • Ask what equipment you may need

Arriving early helps you get familiar with the space, set up properly, and get acclimated. If you are new to something like cycling or a metabolic conditioning (think bootcampy) type of class, you will need equipment, and/or assistance to be set up by the instructor on your bike. Arriving 15 minutes early allows for you to get one-on-one attention from the instructor, ask questions, and to make sure you are set up safely for the class.

  • Disclose any injuries or limitations to the instructor

When the instructors asks “Are there any injuries…?” and there is radio silence it is assumed you are good to go. Well, when we see you modifying every pose/exercise and then ask you how you’re doing, yadda yadda and your reply is “Oh, I just had shoulder surgery…” it’s a problem.

We ask this for a reason people: To keep you safe and to prevent further injury to your body. You guys, this is just a fitness class. There is no need to be a martyr and render yourself unable to use your body in the long term. Your safety is always our #1 priority. Sure, you may not want to broadcast your personal life in a room full of strangers, but quiet time before class is the perfect opportunity to let the instructor know of your limitations.

  1. Read the class descriptions and pay attention to the levels:

    1. Before taking any class read the class descriptions and pay attention to the leveling of the class (if applicable). That said, just because a class is not leveled and deemed ‘all levels’ it does not necessarily mean it’ll be ‘easy’.
    2. For example, if you are completely new to something like yoga, taking an introductory class or series is a great place to learn the fundamentals, pose names, and breath work before venturing into a vinyasa (flow based) class or something more complex with inversions and arm balances.
  1. Get UncomfortableCome to class with an open mind, a CAN-DO attitude, and STAY the entire time

    • Trying something new can be scary but that’s the fun of it all! And I recognize that moving your body in new ways can be awkward, make you feel a little uncoordinated, and at times appear painful. That being said, keep in mind that every experience is one that contributes to your personal betterment. Look, things happen: you’ve gotta pick up the kids, your parking meter will expire, etc. which is totally fine. But if you need to leave early and you know ahead of time, or may need to leave early, just let the instructor know. Then, set up shop and hang towards the back of the room so when you leave it minimizes the disruption to the class.

So, if you are in a class and for whatever reason it’s just not your thang see it through to the end. You showed up and that’s the hardest part, you just may surprise yourself and enjoy it. Leaving in the middle or even a few minutes into class is disruptive to participants and rude. But even more than that, I invite participants to think about why they felt compelled to leave in the first place. Often we act as a reaction without really understanding its origins ourselves but next time when in class and you’re thinking of bouncing think to yourself: Why do I want to leave? And then consider the following:

I will try anything three times (except escargot—I will never even try that once, I just cannot bring myself to eat snail, eww). Yes, you read that correctly THREE TIMES. Here are my general rules of thumb when trying new classes, instructors, and formats:

 

focus on what you can do

We all have our own shit we are working with or through. What we are battling personally and professionally impacts our ability to process things being offered to us. Hence, I may be turned off or think I am turned off to something someone is offering me because it makes me feel vulnerable or forces me to confront myself.

The other reason is the instructor could have been having an off day. Trust me, it occasionally happens. You never know, maybe the sound wasn’t working properly, he/she was just broken up with, lost someone close to him or her, etc. Instructors are people too. Which then leads me to my third go of it all. If after my third trip if it’s not vibing for me, I bid it or the instructor farewell and leave it at that. No harm, it wasn’t for me but I still got a workout and the way I see it, that’s a positive seeing as that was what I set out to do in the first place, right?

  1. Be Nice

    • Employ a general sense of awareness of personal space for those around you:
    • Consider mindfulness when letting bodily functions just go. Anyone who has taken a yoga class knows what I mean by this.
    • Bodily odors: Too much perfume or cologne or the converse, not enough antiperspirant.
    • Cell phones. Ignore your phone for the hour.

Focus on yourself, disconnect from your life, so you can reconnect to yourself.

Phones are distracting. By using your phone in class it usurps the respect we should give to others. Group fitness brings people together. It allows for people who share a common interest. Be mindful of other people around you and your phone etiquette in a communal space.

  • Say hello to the desk staff, the instructor, and those around you. For strangers are just family you have yet to meet.
  • Smile. Smile. 
  1. Surrender the notion of “needing to ‘be in shape’ to come to class

    • Over the years I have had countless people claim they need to ‘get into shape before coming’ to class. The point of a fitness class is help you get into shape. The instructor guides you, pushes you, encourages you, and best of all: you have a room full of people in the same position as you! Stop limiting yourself by making excuses and saying that you’re not fit enough or too inflexible for yoga—showing up consistently will help alleviate those problems!

Make choicesIt’s funny how you go thought the year day by day and nothing changes, then when you look back, everything’s different.

It is time to strip yourself down, look yourself in the mirror and get out of your own way. This is your time to shine. Get out there, put yourself out there, and integrate yourself into your community. By the time 2016 rolls around your body and mind will be ready for new horizons of change and you will embrace them head on!

New Year, Same You

set-goals-like-the-pros-just-in-time-for-new-L-MKilrm

It’s the New Year so you’ve committed to a “New You”. You have bought yourself new kicks, snagged a new gym membership, and you are ready to re-invent yourself in 2015. Whoohoo! Well, here’s my problem with this whole “New You” business. This concept suggests that the person you were in 2014 wasn’t good enough and I don’t like that. What was wrong with who you were in 2014? So maybe you didn’t achieve what you set out to do, you didn’t meet the partner of your dreams, get that promotion, whatever—but that doesn’t mean the entire year was a wash and what’s more, it certainly doesn’t require an entire personal overhaul.

Ladies and gentleman, we are entirely too hard on ourselves. We HAVE to love ourselves more so that we can thrive. Last year, like any other year was filled with joy, struggle, and laughter. In looking back at your 2014, as you devise your 2015 I want to ask what I feel to be more pertinent questions:

  • What speaks to your heart?
  • What are you doing to bring the things that speak to your heart alive?
  • How have you nourished your soul?
  • How are you filling your cup while you are serving others?

What terrifies you? 

I mean what is something you have always wanted to do but let your own fear and self-imposed inadequacies stand in the way of you reaching out, branching out, and growing?

thisisthebeginning

Get involved in something. Be part of something bigger than yourself.

Commit to something.

Train for something.

Find your faith or connect to a higher power. Whatever your faith maybe or even derive your spirituality from should be something that brings you strength.

 

The thing is here, there are no right answers to how you need to cultivate your soul, fill your heart with life and light, and wake up invigorated and energized by life. I invite you to move away from thinking you need to change the you that the world knows. The current you is just fine. Simply, look to this New Year as a season of hope, after all, obstacles in our lives are merely opportunities in disguise.

I wish you all the happiest New Year as you look boldly and confidently ahead. I will be here to celebrate your journey, laugh, and cry with you. So stop what you are doing right now. Reflect and dare to dream big. You hold the pen to craft this tale and it is up to you to fill the pages of your story.

And to help hold us all accountable, I will be posting my Manifesto for 2015 along with the Miller/Cohen goals for the New Year as we rapidly approach our nuptials but also keep life fresh, fun and as always, fitness oriented.

Happy New Year my loves!