If You’re Happy and Love Yourself, Clap Your Hands!?

I’m not counting days anymore, sorry, I can’t. I am not even back at school yet and life is running away with me and I am having a hard time keeping up with this blog. In part I have been so silent because Greg and I are eagerly planning, or attempting to plan our upcoming wedding, which is so much fun and quite the rabbit hole, if you know what I mean. The wedding planning is part of it, but the real reason is it seems that ugly beast that resides within me telling me I am not good enough has seemed to creep to the surface again.

As I neared and completed my 30-Day Cleanse late last week and earlier this week that inspired this blog in the first place, reality set in, and then the anger. Oh, the anger. I will write exclusively about the cleanse, what it was, and my thoughts on it later this week. But in the meantime, I wanted to share my personal struggles with self-acceptance. I am just going to come out and say it:

  • I hate my body.
  • I hate my stomach.
  • I hate my thighs.
  • I hate my arms.
  • I hate my boobs.
  • I just hate it all.

I have spent the last 6 days pretty much sidelined with a recurring knee injury that just so happens to be my millionth ACL tear [yes, I need surgery AGAIN and no, I do not know when]. Despite my knee and its shortcomings, I have tried hard over the last 9-10 months to not let it effect what I do, how I do it, and my workouts. I have run 3 Spartan Races braced. I limped, hobbled, crawled—did whatever I needed to finish because I wasn’t going to miss out on something I love so dearly. I also ran in the SoCal Ragnar Relay. And I continued to teach yoga and cycling, AND even went back to Crossfit after taking a hiatus. My resolve reminded me that I am a fighter and my knee wasn’t going to hold me back. Unlike a fitness class when I remind people that the mind quits before the body, in my case, my body is in full-fledged rebellion mode—yet again.

I have spent the last couple of days in such agony, they even while resting with the leg propped up, I am gritting my teeth and wincing in pain. The warm, dull, radiating pain washes outward from behind my patella (knee cap) is consuming my thoughts and commandeering my emotions, and all I can muster right now is irritable or more irritable.

As I thought it prudent to scale back on Crossfit for the last week, I still cycled and taught all of classes. My decreased physical fitness level left me with plenty of time to berate myself for my body quitting on me [again] and for the self-hatred to build a not just a home but an offensive mansion in my mind.

I’m not a wallower. Well, I was for a long time in my adult life, but in recent years I have consciously worked to remain positive and active in creating the life I wanted for myself rather than succumbing to circumstance. But over the course of the last few days in looking in the mirror at my cellulite riddled thighs and ass and my soft tummy, I became angry and bitter. The “I work so hard” and “I eat right” and “I hate myself” commentary ran on repeat in my head. I have cried and spent hours trying to figure out how I can possibly avoid wearing a bathing suit on the trip Greg and I are taking next week to Lake George.

“Maybe if I were tanner, it’ll conceal my cellulite.”

“Maybe I can just wear my lululemon shorts with a bathing suit top…? Yeah, that may work.”

So, why do I hate myself? Why can’t I accept who I am? Why can’t I love my body for all that it does for me?

Better yet, how does one learn to love his/her body?

Over the past week, in the last two WOD’s at Crossfit (including today’s), I did well. I would be so bold to even say I did very well. Despite my unrelenting standards and ferocious competitiveness, I ran well, worked hard, and posted great times. Why am I so unable to pat myself on my back and celebrate my own victories? You know why? Because nothing is ever good enough and the same even applies to yoga. My knee has made balancing postures really difficult for me. Actually, it’s very painful so I even avoid demonstrating on my right leg (well now you all know, so the jig is up) and my yoga has taken a major hit due to the instability of the joint. Most days, Vinyasa Yoga, my favorite type of yoga tends to put stress on my joint, triggering pain and discomfort. Much of my personal practice has stagnated and all of those amazing grand ideals of being able to tackle more complex poses have left me feeling deflated and worthless. I mean, how can I be expected to participate in the yoga selfie game and flaunt my asana if my body is shutting down as I am marred by injury after injury? I am being slightly sarcastic here, because I hate the vanity aspect of yoga and the fitness world, but if you want to play in the sandbox sometimes you’ve gotta play by someone else’s rules—it’s just the way it is. Sigh.

I think what is so hard for me to digest about this all is that I feel robbed. I do. I feel like the things I love to do have been prematurely plucked from my grasp and dare I say it—undeservingly so. So the anger sets in. I am frustrated with my body not only for it giving up on me, but despite my workouts, and commitment to nutrition—my body never changes. There I said it, and I feel better for being honest and just putting it all out there.

I try to practice kindness to myself and I try to be patient, but beyond that I do not know how to accept myself. Admittedly, I also don’t know how to love myself. I certainly can help others embrace their bodies and celebrate themselves, but why can’t I do the same for myself? Recently, my dear friend Kat shared something with me while I was venting about my frustrations, “Would I let someone say all those things about my best friend?” The obvious answer is best friend or not—I would never allow someone to say the things I say andthink about myself in my presence about another person I know. So, why am I giving myself permission to hate myself?

Craft Your Community

Day 17: Wednesday, June 25, 2014:

At the end of the day, we all just want to feel like we belong. Whether we want to be accepted by our lover, colleagues, friends, family, or even strangers we pass on the street—we all just want to feel like we are part of a collective whole.

At our very core, most essential self, human beings are seekers. We are looking for something to fuel our souls, to connect us, empower us, to make us just feel a little less alone.

Recently, I had the pleasure of meeting a wonderful young lady with great hair [this I HAD to tell her], an even better energy, and awesome attitude who has started taking my yoga classes. From our initial meeting, I liked her instantly. Isn’t it funny how certain people walk into your life and there is this connection that speaks to your heart? Well, I am not sure what it was but whatever it was, I felt drawn to her.

We chat.

I learn she’s new to Los Angeles.

She comes to my birthday yoga class (which did not go unnoticed!) then again to class a week later.

This time we get to speak for a more extended period of time and I learn that she Crossfits. Ahhhhh, there’s the connectionwe are one of the same. With that, I was getting ready to take the next class and we part ways. I didn’t really think much of her attendance in my classes or our chat until the following message I received later that evening:

Great to get to chat after class today…I just moved to the area about 2 weeks ago and I am sort of in transition feeling out LA. I just thought you should know that the first class I took In LA was your class…having you be my first yoga instructor on my second day in LA, filled me with a lot of positive energy that I REALLY needed that day! Being a colleague in the field of helping others reach their full potential, I understand how nice it is to sometimes be reminded of the impact you are making in other peoples lives by simply showing up and being you…so thank you for that. So you seem like a really awesome person, which are always nice to come across when moving to a new city…

I have said this before, and I will say this again: You never know whose life you are touching just by being you. This made me smile and filled me so fully. Being able to make someone feel welcome and a little less alone is what I think community is really all about. As a race, we crave and long for connection. We thirst for community. For me, being able to facilitate that means the world to me. I take my work as a teacher, blogger, friend, athlete—whatever label you want to assign me, very seriously. I do everything with 100% of my heart and I hold nothing back. I am real, vulnerable, and here for you and everyone else who comes into my life.

We MUST reach out to people with whom we come in contact. We must continue to foster community, build one another up, and support each other. After all, when it’s all said and done we are left with the relationships we build with people in our lives.

Reach out to someone, anyone. Let someone know how much their presence in their life means to you. Give credit. Share in someone’s success. Go to a friend’s birthday party. Meet that friend you keep putting off for coffee.

Don’t wait. Build your community today. After all, this is your world and you are living in it—make it the place you want it to be. Reach out. 

Our Bodies Should be Temples of Love

Day 13: Saturday, June 21, 2014: 

Why can’t we just be happy?

Seriously, why is it that we have to have a reason to smile?

This may not come across as ground-breaking or innovative by any means but I find that the more personal happiness I achieve in my relationship with Greg, professional happiness from teaching children, and satisfaction from my work in fitness I find I am just happy. I am happy all of the damn time. I smile. I have that extra pep in my step. I radiate joy. And yet despite this wonderful happiness in my life, as a woman—a happy and successful woman at that, I sometimes wonder why are women apologizing for their success and happiness?

The luminous Kristina and I post BodyLove workshop on the Summer Solstice

The luminous Kristina and I post BodyLove workshop on the Summer Solstice

While attending a transformative women only workshop entitled BodyLove at my yoga studio One Down Dog led by Kristina Serna this concept [amongst so many others] was at the forefront of our discussion.

As a woman, giving ourselves permission to cater to ourselves is almost stripped away from us. We are viewed as bitches, selfish, or even bad mothers if we take time to ourselves. Why is that? Why is considered acceptable for men to retreat to their “Man Caves” to drink with the boys and watch sports but if a woman gets a massage or her hair done it’s superficial and wrong?! Ugh, our misogynistic society just makes me so angry sometimes.

My point here is regardless of one’s sex: We MUST take time for ourselves to be our best selves for others. So why the guilt and shame when a woman takes a break for herself?

For me, the biggest thing in living my life is I don’t offer any explanations or make any excuses to others for how I need to dress, eat, whom I choose to love, my careers, or how I spend my life.

I wear my lululemon pants to work. No, not just to teach yoga—I wear them to school where I teach English to the youth of America. I wear them because I like them and they make me feel good in them. As a teacher, I preach owning yourself and life—doing you and being you. What kind of person would I be if I didn’t live the very same life I was selling to those kids?!

Listen; at the end of the day when I lay my head down on my pillow, I need to be comfortable with the life I am living because well, it’s my life. Period. I don’t care what someone needs to do to feel good about themselves, their life, and to achieve their personal happiness so long as they’re a decent person.

Now, I would be completely dishonest if I sat here and didn’t share that there are times when I don’t like myself. Actually, there are a lot of times I don’t like myself, my physical self that is. BodyLove is all about a celebration of the female form: wear what you want, eat what you want, be whom you want. Well, if I am so dang happy with my life, madly in love with an incredible man, and bursting at the seams with the best jobs I could ever imagine—why do I find myself reverting to self-loathing? Why can’t I look in the mirror and like what what I see?Moreover, how is it I can help others shape and sculpt their bodies, yet fail so miserably at controlling my own? I feel like I can cultivate and accept BodyLove in others, but somehow I cannot embrace it for myself. As a matter of fact, the only two things I like about myself are my hair and my eyelashes and those aren’t even real! I poke and I prod, I inspect and I examine, I compare and contrast: Why can’t I love my body?

But you know what? I think it’s starting to get better. I do. I think of everyday as a small victory when I show up for Crossfit, yoga, or cycling. Each and every time I show up for a workout that’s solely for myself [when I am not teaching a fitness class], I am committing to myself saying, “I am worth it”. In an effort to try to embrace my own BodyLove, this past weekend I wore a tank that showed a sliver of my belly. As I tugged at the tank in vain to get it to cover my navel and meet the top of my shorts, I turned to my bf Greg and while gesturing towards my belly and stated, “You know what? It’s not where I want it to be but fu*k it. I like this shirt.”

It’s process, not a perfect. And I am sure as hell glad I am not perfect because the growth is what makes me stronger everyday.

Limits Only Exist When We Set Them For Ourselves

I met the most magnificent young woman today while teaching my yoga class at Equinox Woodland Hills. Prior to class, she was loitering in the entrance with two other women looking at the schedule of classes and when they started discussing my class. Naturally, in typical Arielle fashion I interjected and coerced the young girl into taking my class. Ok, ok, she was planning on it anyway so she was a willing participant. Her name is Nicole. She is new to Equinox and we walk to the yoga room together. I show her the fancy eucalyptus towels as she told me how much she loves smushing her face into them every time she comes (who doesn’t?).

While chatting with her and some other members I learn Nicole is 21 years old and a student at USC. Class begins and I delve into my usual spiel: “This is an athletic based yoga class…take it to your level…modify…honor your body…it’s flow based…breath to movement…challenge yourself…

Me: “So, before we get started, does anyone have any injuries they’d like me to know about…?
Nicole: “I had brain surgery.”
Me: “Oh. Wow.”
A very pregnant pause. I am mentally freaking out: BRAIN SURGERY?!?!
“When?”
Nicole calmly and cheerily replies with a smile: “November.”
Hiding my shock, me: “Are you cleared for physical activity?”
Nicole: “Oh yeah!”

Class was hard [and if you have ever taken my classes, you know that is an understatement]. Everyone worked to their limits and seemed to have a great time. It was a really inspiring group and the energy was great. After class, I check in with Nicole. She chats with another member and myself casually about her brain surgery.

I learn that in September 2013 doctors found a brain tumor after ‘things just weren’t right’. Nicole is whisked into emergency surgery to remove the tumor without time to really process the gravity of the situation. She says the real work and reflection set in after surgery while being so limited physically and re-adjusting to life in the downtime of her recovery. Nicole recounts her tale to us with an articulate grace and humility that I interrupt her and ask her who raised her because they did one hell of an amazing job. She is smart, witty, kind, and able to connect with others. Nicole discusses life before the tumor: Active in sports & fitness, an artist, and fiercely competitive.

In November all of that changed.

After surgery, Nicole is restricted to bed rest for a month and since the tumor was in the right side of her brain, her artistic abilities are not the same. She went back to school a mere 2 months after her surgery. Never during her story was there room for self-pity or even an inclination of why me? Nicole spoke about putting herself back out there and working on posters for her sorority and how someone told her she was a good artist. Despite her insecurities and reservations about recommitting herself to her art, the validation gave her the confidence to continue chipping away at the painstaking process it took for her to make the posters. She also talked about one of the side effects of the surgery in having to retrain her brain to hear certain sounds in order to discern various volumes. And then she spoke of my yoga class.

Nicole said that the class was exactly what she needed in learning to let go of always being in competition with herself. Nicole mentioned how hard it was and that she just wanted to be back where she used to be but together we talked through what the journey really meant:

To revel in the process.

To test our character through adversity.

To celebrate our victories, for no victory is ever too small.

I listened in awe and utter admiration for this young girl, clinging to every word she said trying to soak up some of her greatness by just being in her proximity! The three of us had tears in our eyes and we all hugged one another. I thanked Nicole for being so brave, sharing her story, and for serving as a lesson in life to never give up. Of course Nicole doesn’t see herself as brave or courageous but she is living proof what never giving up and conviction can do.

What’s more is Nicole only reminded me of the infinite power of yoga and community. When I embraced Nicole and said, “You never know whose life you’re touching just by being you” she replied, “No, you don’t. Thank you for being YOU. You were exactly what I needed.”

Giddy for Gains

Day 11: Thursday, June 19, 2014:

Today was a cleanse day, so like last Thursday no food. However, today was also Day 11 and that meant it was time to take some measurements. Interestingly enough, I am losing from my mid-section, chest, and bust areas first. Hey, I’m not going to complain but normally I lose weight everywhere else first THEN release from the trunk region. All the same, I am excited to report I have lost the following:

  • Chest:            -2 inches
  • Diaphragm:  -2 inches
  • Waist:            -.5 inches
  • Abdomen:     – 1 inch

I would also like to add that I saw an overall loss in other areas too but I felt it wasn’t worth reporting here, as the loss was what I would quantify as negligible.

At this point, I feel fantastic. People are starting to notice the changes in my body saying things like, “You look really good” and “You’re looking really lean.” NOTE when you say these sorts of things to someone who is TRYING really hard to make changes in their life, they feel really, really, really good when they hear these sorts of things so don’t stop doling out praise. Additionally, I am feeling much better overall. I am not napping anymore and haven’t napped since I started the cleanse. As a matter of fact, I am incredibly energized and feeling very rested upon waking in the mornings. What’s also so awesome is I am starting to actually feel more fit, stronger, and leaner. I can feel it and it feels so good.

It is too early to tell whether my results are due to my 30-Day Super Foods Nutritional Cleanse or my increased fitness level. Since starting this cleanse, I used it as an opportunity to reset my life and myself. I used the cleanse to kick-start a healthier me and that meant re-committing myself to MY own fitness for me. So for the past 11 days (and maybe even about a week or so prior), my fitness level has sky rocketed with Crossfit and yoga. So in truth [and it’s still way too early to tell] my gains or shall I say loses, could be a combination of factors. Let’s se how the rest of my time on the cleanse pans out.

My Year in Review: An Honest Look Back Part II

Day 10: Wednesday, June 18, 2014: My Year in Review: An Honest Look Back Part II

15. Dinner in Weho at Hugo’s on Wednesday, November 20, 2013 with Greg. This is the first time I see Greg semi-serious as he tells me he’ll wait for me to make the right choice (as in picking him to date) and that I am worth it. Apparently older men (he’s only 35 people) know what they want and actually put in some work to court you–I could get used to this. Regardless, I tell him he’ll be waiting forever because I’m dating someone else, we work together, AND I am his boss.

14. Equinox Woodland Hills 9am Saturday, November 23, 2013 post Greg’s cycle class: Greg kisses me. I am tingly and gooey and exploding all at the same time. Confused and conflicted, I get into my car to call someone. I called my sister, no answer. I called my best friend, no answer. I had to call someone, I needed to confer with someone—anyone about what just happened! Finally, I call my mother. I fill her in on the past week of my life looking for some motherly advice and solace. Finally, I ask my mother what I should do. Her reply, “I think you should stop kissing so many boys.” Yeah, thanks mom. That was really helpful.

13. Ultimately, that kiss was the kiss to end all kisses. Our romance blossomed quickly and Greg and I became a couple. Initially, we had to keep our relationship under wraps at the cycling studio but it was a matter of time before we both wanted to live our relationship out loud and share it with others—so we did. We launched our full assault of our love and life on our social media for all of the world to see (you know you love it).

12. Our first New Year’s Eve together! It’s simple, fun, and filled with possibility. Our dumb drunk friend pulled some embarrassing stunts including wandering off and putting herself to sleep in the host’s bed!

NYE 2013

NYE 2013

11. At only two months into our fledgling romance, in mid-January Greg and I venture home to New York for a long weekend. My family warmly receives Greg and I get to meet some of his college friends. Home visit = SUCCESS!

10. One Down Dog, my yoga studio moves into our very own and brand new space on Sunset and Fountain.

Some of my fellow ODD family, fellow instructors, and the best people I know. Yes, yogi's do drink people.

Some of my fellow ODD family, fellow instructors, and the best people I know. Yes, yogi’s do drink (in moderation of course).

09. The cycling studio opens in late January—early February. Saying that we encountered minor hiccups would be an understatement. Despite being a music themed and oriented studio/cycling experience we open with our sound barely functioning and our mic system non-existent. The music isn’t loud enough, instructors are shouting over the music on the mic to be heard, the facility is not fully functional, and zero marketing was done by the owner to alert the world of our opening. Classes are nearly empty and instructor morale tanks. Even I’m having a hard time rallying myself to teach my 6 cycling classes a week to 5 people in a 45-bike room.

08. For marketing purposes, the cycling studio offers a free ride to the public in exchange for their consent to film it. Nick Lachey and Sean Stockman are among the riders in the class. One of the highlights of my year was being able to have my work as a fitness instructor validated and preserved on film. That very evening, 2 weeks before I am to be issued my healthcare, my boss and owner of the cycling studio informs me that she can no longer afford to pay me my salary.

07. The next day, I apply for teaching jobs with LAUSD and I am called for an interview at Helen Bernstein High School. I am hired on the spot to teach English to juniors and seniors in Hollywood.

06. Ultimately, shortly after returning to the classroom I stop teaching at the cycling studio that I helped create and build.

I sure learned a valuable lesson about helping someone else start their own business: Don’t do it.

05. In late March 2014, I move again. This time I am moving into Greg’s apartment, which is also in Studio City.

04. Buti yoga training: African Tribal dance, yoga, and plyometrics. Insanely hard and ridiculously out of my comfort zone but exhilarating and a wild personal victory since I am a terrible dancer—not anymorrrrrreeee!

03. My sister Kassi comes to visit in May and while she is here my 16-year-old 1998 Honda Accord dies. We spend her last day in town buying me a 2014 Honda Civic.

Augustin and his gf Andrea with me at graduation. These two young people are such beautiful souls. I will miss them terribly.

Augustin and his gf Andrea with me at graduation. These two young people are such beautiful souls. I will miss them terribly.

02. My incredible students graduate from high school on Friday, June 6, 2014. I take so many pictures that my lips quiver from smiling. I sob like a baby in my car leaving graduation. This is my very first high school graduation that I have attended in my 10 years as an educator. But what also made this so special was that these were my students. I taught them. I guided them. I pushed them to read, write, think, and learn. I have never been more proud in my entire life. These kids stole a piece of my heart and with my heart my time too—as now I am the Assistant Girls Soccer Coach.

01. It is now June 18, 2014 and now I am 32 years old. The last and most important thing I have done this year is listen to my essential self, advocate for myself, and allow the love I deserve to pour into my life.

Sometimes we need to be blinded to be taught how to really see. I firmly believe that one must walk in darkness in order to appreciate how to bask in the sunlight.

I don’t regret anything I have done, the people I loved (or thought I loved), the different jobs, or leaving teaching in the first place. Each and every experience led me to this very moment with the very best people someone could ever ask for. My past merely dictated my present but I created my future. Now, as I move into my 32nd year of life I do so with grace and a strong man by my side that makes me think I can fly. And you know what? I can fly. Because as I look back at my year and ahead to the future, I choose to measure my life in love.

From Darkness into Light, from Darkness into Light…

My Year in Review: An Honest Look Back Part I

Day 9: Tuesday, June 17, 2014: 

How do you measure a year? I think the play Rent captures it perfectly: Measure in love.

It’s the day before my 32nd birthday. Turning 32 is not a particularly exciting nor monumental year by any means. But in driving back from Crossfit today I got to thinking, “Who says that 31 to 32 couldn’t have been significant?”

With that, I have decided to reflect upon MY 562,600 minutes starting with June 18, 2013. From darkness to light, thick and thin, the terrible jobs and also the great ones. Here we go as I give you my honest look back so that we can look to the future with an open heart and make space for more love.

June 18, 2013

My 31st birthday

My 31st birthday

32. My ex-boyfriend [Jarrett] (whom was my “fiancé”) stayed up all night and into the early morning and made me a homemade frittata for breakfast.

31. Jarrett relapsed again into the iron grip of heroin addiction. He robbed me. Stole my bankcard, drained my account, and left us with nothing. We have no money and no food. I had all the education in the world and yet I couldn’t feed myself. At his group therapy sessions at the rehab center I am given the address to go to the women’s shelter to get food. My life has officially hit an all time low.

30. I stop speaking to my mother and communication with my father and sister is strained. They just don’t get my relationship with Jarrett and I love him, so until they see things from my perspective, I refuse to break the silence.

29. My last paycheck from LAUSD arrives on August 5, 2013. I am no longer an English Teacher (and I lose my healthcare shortly thereafter).

28. I get hired at Nordstrom’s in the active wear department but in the same week get hired at a private school called Fusion Academy as a yoga instructor—I quit Nordstrom’s after my training.

27. My old blog (Los Angeles Yoga Beat) turns up something unusual: A comment from a young woman opening an indoor cycling studio. She interviewed and hired me as her Lead Instructor and General Manager. I was given a salary and I would eventually get healthcare and paid vacation. I will make it in the fitness industry! My dreams are coming true!

26. Late August—early September 2013: I kick Jarrett out for the last time in our tumultuous on-again-off-again 3-year relationship.

25. Shortly thereafter, I put in my 30-days notice at my apartment in Hollywood that I lived in for 2 years which was in the same complex as my BFF Rachel.

My first round of purple

My first round of purple

24. I dye my hair purple.

23. I move to The Valley into my friend Kimberly’s apartment. Prior to the actual move itself, Kimberly tells me she acted rashly and that I cannot live with her.

22. I find my own place in Studio City, sign the lease, and will move in November 1, 2013.

21. In October, I ran the Spartan Race Beast in Sacramento with a partially torn ACL (which by November would be completely torn, sigh). I am braced and limping, but in the end I finish and earn my Trifecta Medal.

Trifecta Tattoo!

Trifecta Tattoo!

20. Honoring my growth and hard work to complete my Trifecta, on October 31, 2013 I get a tattoo on my left ribcage: The Spartan Race Trifecta logo (sorry Mommy and Abba!). It was by far the most excruciating of my tattoos and longest at 4 hours BUT it was so powerful and represented me finally seizing control of my life.

19. I move into MY own apartment in Studio City. For the first time in YEARS this place feels like a home, smells like a home, and brings me peace. I am home.

18. Sunday, November 17, 2013 I met Gregory Cohen for breakfast at Local in Silverlake with another friend/instructor I hired at my cycling studio. My boss wanted me to take out some of my instructors to facilitate team building and community. This is the day that I like to refer as marking the beginning of my life. Once Greg walked into my life, the darkness dissipated and light poured into my life so brightly I needed sunglasses to admire it.

The first day Greg and I met

The first day Greg and I met

17. Monday, November 18, 2013 Greg and I go on our first non-date or half date as we like to call it. I showed up at his house in sweats and a hoody wearing Uggs. I was seeing someone else that I kinda dug and I was upfront about that information so this meeting was not a date. It was food and hey, a girl’s gotta eat, right?

16. My cell rings in the evening on Tuesday, November 19, 2013. It’s Greg, “Get dressed—NOT in yoga clothes. We are going to game night with my friends.” This is half-date #2.

To be continued my friends…tomorrow on my birthday…

Today Can’t Always Change Your Life

Day 8: Monday, June 16, 2014:

 I picked up a new yoga class that’s Monday mornings at 6:30am. And though I have a strong aversion to teaching fitness classes [or doing anything really at that hour aside from sleep] in the morning, I agreed to take it on and see where it goes. What do I have to lose? After class, I came home and napped. I had a solid 1.5 hours to sleep before 10am Crossfit.

9:30am arrives and 9:30 leaves.

I convinced myself that I needed to sleep and opted to skip Crossfit (a decision I regretted all day). I rationalized this extra sleep a few ways but the strongest excuse I devised were that my inflamed traps (trapezious muscles) needed a break. I don’t know, but perhaps there was actually some merit to that.

On Saturday while doing kettlebell swings at Crossfit, when my arms were extended over my head there was an excruciating shooting pain at the base of my neck. It happened immediately during my very first swing too. This was definitely something unusual and foreign to me. Kettlebell swings are my jam—I light them up and take off. What was going on?! Before panic set in, I called the coach over to check my form. Nope, form was on point (this I already knew but it never hurts to have someone check out how you’re moving through an exercise that’s bringing you discomfort). We decided to move forward with the exercise but keeping the kettlebell at eye-level. This brought me some mild relief from the pain but it seems that I am experiencing some sort of spasm in my traps (now I am a doctor, well WebMD makes me feel like I am). Ever since Saturday, my traps have been supremely tender and essentially screaming at me even when not engaged and I am resting, walking, or breathing. I have been using my Yoga Tune Up balls to help release some of the tension but they’re still pretty raw. Fingers crossed tomorrow’s WOD isn’t too heavy on the upper back.

I went for a run today.

I guess you could say I like running. I run races. And from time-to-time run outside but that’s really it. I am not a great runner but I wouldn’t say I am a bad runner either. It’s just one of those things that I do because I have to and it’s fitness related but I don’t really care either way if I considered ‘good’. I will leave the running to the runners and I will stick to what I am good at: yoga, cycling, and lifting heavy things. With that, it was hot outside so I wore shorts. I normally prefer to workout in pants but figured why not?

Two steps into my run: my shorts are riding up.

My thunder thighs are slamming together for the world to see as I try to find a comfortable pace and not trip over myself as I fight a losing battle to pull my shorts down.

My music wasn’t doing it either. I mean, c’mon. I JUST uploaded all of my new favorite songs.

I glance down at my tracker and note that it has only been half a mile. REALLY?!

Now, I’m hungry too. Shit. I knew I shouldn’t have slept and gone to Crossfit. Shit. Shit. Shit.

1 mile in and I decide to head back home.

2 miles later I am home, run the stairs in my complex 10x, do some squats, and call it a day.

Not everyday is going to be a life-changing day in the gym, on the mat, in the box, on the pavement, or wherever you get your workout on–it just can’t be. For me, today was that day. And you know what? I am just fine with that. I am not going to berate myself for surrendering to whatever distractions I had going on today because tomorrow is a new day and I get to start over. And tomorrow starts with Crossfit at 10am no matter what. PLUS, at 8 days in I start tomorrow with 2 inches less on my waist, and down 1 inch across my bust AND diaphragm. So was today a success? I think it’s safe to resoundingly state: YES, YES!

Transformations

Day 7: Sunday, June 15, 2014

Breanne and I at One Down Dog after she took my two classes

Breanne and I at One Down Dog after she took my two classes

I had the pleasure of spending my Sunday morning yoga-ing and then lounging in the sun with my dear friend Breanne who was in town for a quick visit from Austin, Texas.

Breanne and I met about 6 years ago while I was working at Virgil Middle School. She initially started at Virgil teaching Math then switched content areas to English. However, our real connection came through fitness and other sorts of silly shenanigans. Breanne played soccer with me on Epic Fury, my first soccer team in Los Angeles. We had a blast together. She was refreshing, hilarious, and quirky. Breanne didn’t and now even as an Assistant Principal, still doesn’t take life too seriously. She is a free spirit with a warm heart and joy about her that makes her irresistible. What’s more is I knew Breanne during my pre-yoga days when I was bitter, angry at the world, and to put it mildly, a sour person. Yet despite this, Breanne embraced me and was a friend to me. Breanne made me feel alive and not having seen her over the past 3+ years made today special. I was excited to hug my friend, hear about her life, work, engagement and giggle about nonsense. But what I really relished was showing Breanne my work as a yoga instructor and shedding some light on the growth I have had over the past few years since finding yoga.

2008 Epic Fury Soccer

2008 Epic Fury Soccer

Breanne is effervescent and wistful. She is just ‘so yoga’ and always was. The problem was that when she lived here though I loved her energy and was drawn to it, I was too polluted by my own anger to allow it in to thaw my heart. Yet, despite my negativity and terrible attitude about everything, Breanne never made me feel badly about the person I was. Breanne accepted me. She didn’t try to change me or tell me what ‘I needed’. She let me exist and be me.

At some point today, I remember looking at her and wondering if perhaps she saw the yoga and light inside me the entire time. Maybe Breanne like Stargirl, one of my favorite fictional characters from Jerry Spinelli’s Stargirl is tapped into something more simple and pure than the rest of us. Maybe some of us are just more accepting of what lies nestled deep within someone because I believe Breanne saw something special in me then and as we gabbed like school girls all day long, she still does.

It is amazing at how our lives seemed to simultaneously play out half-way across the country in such a parallel fashion from our fitness endeavors to veganism. I reveled in spending my time with someone whom could appreciate my growth because sometimes a little validation goes a long way. I was proud to display myself to Breanne exclaiming “Look! Look at me! I have grown!” But you know what? I wasn’t the only one who did the growing. Breanne owns a house with her fiancé. She runs a school, and is planning a wedding. I mean, we sat in my kitchen after laying in the sun at The Meadow in Silverlake noshing on fresh veggies and humus discussing weddings, venues, and dresses. WOW. Who are we? Weren’t we the girls dressed up to party and eating late-night burritos? No.

We are exactly who we are supposed to be: Here now.

I Don’t Like Showering

There, I said what many of you already think about showering! It’s time consuming, my skin gets really dry, and frankly I would rather spend that time sleeping. All the same, I suppose it is a necessity.

Below is an excerpt of a conversation I shared this on my Facebook. Based on the likes and comments, I decided it was just too honest and awesome not to share here. Enjoy!

Over-share:
This conversation happened between my bf and I last night after we both made our playlists for our cycling classes:

Me: “I’m not going to shower. I didn’t sweat that much today and I’m teaching early in the morning so why bother?”
My bf Greg: “You taught two class AND took a Pilates class. You ARE showering.”
Me: “Oh, yeahhhhhhhhhhhh. I forgot I took class–You’re right, I should shower.”

‪#‎sweatontopofsweat‬ ‪#‎confessionsofafitnessinstructor‬ ‪#‎whyshower‬‪#‎tootiredtoshower‬