Powerfully Imperfect

Last Monday morning I woke up in Tucson and realized I packed all the wrong clothes for my health coaching retreat. I packed for 80 degrees. It was 30 degrees.

Luckily, I packed jeans. Unluckily the only top was a jean button-down. I made do, threw it on, added my purple scarf and then to top it all off: hello flip flops. My toes weren't painted. My hair was in a messy bun.

When I got to the resort, everyone else was wearing cute biz casual outfits, hair done, nails (obviously) done. And then there was me. 

The time came for the Health Coach Institute co-founder, Carey, to invite one of us on stage in front of 180 people to get coached. This is an incredible opportunity, and one that in the past, I had been WAY TOO SCARED to put my hand up for.

But low and behold, in my insane outfit and everything, my hand shot up. Deep down I thought, "there's no way she'll pick me."

..."You! With the purple scarf and glasses!" 

I looked around. Shit. Nobody else was wearing a purple scarf... so up to the stage I went. Flip flops and all.

The old me never would have raised my hand for two reasons: 1. Being scared and 2. HELLO I LOOK INSANE!

But the Monday me remembered my intention to be vulnerable and said, hell with it, I don't care, let's do it.

And I'm so glad I did, because what would unfold would be life changing.

Carey coached me through a powerful sequence on "Daring to Be Seen and Heard."

As we worked through things, I ended up telling a story from high school. How I was in the show choir and in musicals, and I loved to sing, but hated solos. I was way too afraid to mess up in front of everyone. It wasn't only that I was afraid to mess up, I was afraid to A. Show the world I'm not a perfect singer and B. Make anyone feel uncomfortable by my imperfect singing.

We kept going. And I realized I needed to let go of A. Needing to be perfect and get everything right, B. Worrying so much about what everyone else thinks about me, C. Taking responsibility for other people's feelings. God forbid I make them feel uncomfortable.

At the end of the coaching sequence Carey asked me to declare my "power statement," a statement that would embody what I wanted to step into. Without any hesitation the words came flowing out of me:

I am powerfully imperfect.

I realized that when I own my imperfections and let myself be seen and heard anyways, I empower others to do the same. Collectively, we all get to take our masks off and live authentically. We can take risks, chase our dreams, make mistakes and some more mistakes, and it's all ok.

Carey then asked me what "empowered action" I would like to take to step into this new space of being Powerfully Imperfect. I paused, thinking.

Just then, someone yelled, "SING!" And before I knew it, everyone was chanting, "SING, SING, SING!"

Shit.

My heart was pounding. There was no getting out of this.

I was terrified. But I also realized, singing would be my way of fully embodying my powerfully imperfect self. I KNEW when I sang, my voice would shake. I knew I'd probably miss a note. I knew it wouldn't be my best, "perfect" performance. 

And wasn't that the point? Wasn't messing up and showing my flaws the very point of being powerfully imperfect?

It was then that someone yelled, "SING AMAZING GRACE!"

And at that moment I knew that was exactly what I needed: grace to let myself be powerfully and imperfectly seen and heard. 

So I opened my mouth and sang.

My voice cracked. My notes were shaky. But others were good. 

But it didn't matter. For the first time, I messed up, in front of 180 people, and there was no warm wash of shame. My cheeks didn't get red. My heart didn't drop into my stomach. There was no embarrassment.

I was powerfully imperfect.

This was a game changer for me. 

It's something I've already owned when it comes to my body, but it was something I hadn't yet owned when it came down to letting myself be seen and heard in other spaces.

To say I felt liberated is an understatement. And I still do.

And to prove this point even more, the power of imperfection, I wrote you this without editing it. You're getting the raw, imperfect edition of my thoughts.

So there you go. My hope is that you, too, are able to be powerfully imperfect.

Why Fat Isn't the Problem and Dieting Is. A Health at Every Size Overview.

As long as I can remember, I’ve been told that weight loss equates to better health. That I must weigh a certain number and look a certain way in order to be healthy (and beautiful). For me this resulted in disordered eating and exercising behaviors as well as years of body hate, distraction and stress.

Then, I discovered the truth. It started organically. I started to realize that my mental health was deteriorating because of my want to fit the “ideal” mold and that my constant dieting, body-obsessed/stressed life had to stop for me to actually live a healthy life.

I just had this intuitive hunch that my health was not determined by my size. And even more so, that for me, being healthy included enjoying dinners out with my friends where I could order the cheeseburger and enjoy it without stress and guilt.

Then I discovered that my hunch was on to something. Thanks to instagram, YES, instagram, I found out there was an actual thing called Intuitive Eating.

When I first read Intuitive Eating I was in a state of awe. It was like OH MY GOSH THERE ARE WORDS AND RESEARCH AND ACTUAL TOOLS THAT DESCRIBE MY OWN PERSONAL JOURNEY! I couldn’t believe it. There was a real, science-backed reason why I had such a terrible relationship with food and my body, and my hunch was right! Health DOES include being able to eat food without guilt and stress!

 Then I found Health at Every Size (HAES) and my mind was blown even further. HAES is filled with information that proves, scientifically PROVES that dieting is the real problem, not our weight or that fat on my butt!

I honestly felt liberated.

As I moved fully into this Intuitive Eating/HAES framework and have begun to be more vocal about it, it’s been interesting, to say the least-- especially because I  worked in the fitness world.

There are people who love it, who are totally on board or want to learn more. These people thank me.

And then there are the people who aren’t so sure about this whole thing and just don’t care very much either way (whatevs!)

And then there are the people who don’t understand it (rightly so, it’s not the norm!) and thus think it’s a bad thing, that I’m promoting an unhealthy lifestyle. I’ve actually been attacked because of my beliefs in this area.

So I wanted to provide a brief overview of what this whole HAES thing is all about and provide you with some facts that I find to be incredibly empowering. I want to increase understanding around HAES and debunk some myths about it.

Let’s start talking about the health risks of fat. We’ve been told our entire lives that we need to lose weight because FAT KILLS.

However, according to Linda Bacon, PhD in her book HAES, “the benefits of weight loss have been misinterpreted and exaggerated. At both extremes—high and low—body weight adversely affects health. But the vast majority of Americans fall closer to the middle of the body fat bell curve, where weight is little more than a benign marker of an individual’s genetic predisposition to carry it.”

Bacon also reports that being fat is not a death sentence. In fact, she states, “almost all epidemiological studies indicate people in the overweight or moderately obese categories live at least as long—or longer—than people in the normal weight category…. An analysis of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys I, II, and III, which followed the largest nationally representative cohort of U.S. adults, also determined that the “ideal” weight for longevity was in the ‘overweight’ category.”

What?! So fat isn’t really that big of a deal? Nop, the research shows us: it’s really not.

So here you might be thinking, wait does HAES encourage people to gain weight?

Nop.

HAES simply says that some of us are more genetically inclined to have more body fat than others. Some people are naturally thin, while others naturally have more fat. And that’s OK.

Furthermore, weight/fat gain is often caused by, dun dun dun: DIETING! And the more diets we go on, the most likely we are to gain weight in the future and raise our “set point,” which is the regulated weight our body wants to maintain. (Yes, our bodies have biological mechanisms that work to maintain a typical weight range for each unique body).

What! Yeah.

The HAES research says that in most cases (extremes are the exception) fat isn’t what matters.  In fact, that fat may help us live longer lives and cope better with a variety of diseases! Cool!

 In most cases, fat just doesn’t matter that much. What DOES matter is that we take care of ourselves. “It is well established that the relationship between activity and longevity is stronger than the relationship between weight and longevity,” says Bacon.

So what does that mean? It means what actually matters is that we move our bodies, what doesn’t matter as much is what we weigh.

Here’s some more crazy information: most diseases blamed on fat actually aren’t typically a result of FAT itself, they’re actually a result of things like living a sedentary lifestyle, not paying any attention to nutrition, being sleep deprived, chronically stressed, etc. So fat itself isn’t the problem. Weight loss isn’t the solution.

However, we are consistently told that if we are fat, we need to lose weight.

Unfortunately, Bacon reports that, “weight fluctuation (from dieting) is strongly associated with increased risk for diabetes, hypertension, and cardiovascular diseases, independent of body weight. In other words, the recommendation to diet may be causing the very diseases it is purported to prevent!”

Mind blown? Mine was.

What matters is that we drop the stigma and shame around fat. According to Bacon, “cross-cultural studies suggest that larger people are not subject to the same diseases in countries where there is less stigma attached to weight.” This, she says isn’t surprising because of the strong connection between stigma and stress… and as most of us know, it is stress that is the culprit for most diseases.

Because studies consistently show that restrictive diets lead to future weight gain and disease, HAES includes a powerful intuitive eating framework that empowers people to build healthy habits in an easy, accessible, sustainable way to change their lifestyle for good. It empowers people to feel freedom around food, rather than war.

That is what matters: doing things daily to take care of ourselves. What doesn’t matter is if we end up losing tons of weight or not.

Weight loss is the wrong prescription to disease. The right prescription? Healthy life-style habits.

When I talk to my clients about this, some come to me wanting to lose weight. I acknowledge this desire, and gently ask if we can put it on the back burner so that we can effectively focus in on the principles of HAES/intuitive eating. This allows my clients to get to know their bodies on a deeper level and transform their relationship with their bodies so that they can take good care of themselves forever, not just for a month or two.

What I assure them is this: we focus on building lifelong healthy habits that make them feel good every day. These habits transform their health and happiness. This is what matters: consistently showing ourselves kindness.

If someone’s body truly needs to lose weight, weight loss may be a result over the long term. But it also might not (due to the studies that show our bodies really hate losing weight, but that’s a subject for another day).

The incredible thing that HAES/Intuitive Eating approach shows is that our health improves drastically when we develop these loving healthy habits, regardless of weight loss.

Want some science to prove this? Ok great, because I have it for you.

With a grant from the National Institutes of Health, Bacon performed a study through the University of California, Davis that recruited 70 non-smoking, Caucasian women between the ages of 30 and 45 who wore at least a size 16. She needed 70 people because that is what would determine statistical significance (ahh, so happy my master’s degree is coming in handy here, hehe).

They also needed subjects to be similar in gender and ethnicity, which is why they studied Caucasian women.

There were two groups in the study.

One group was in a dieting group, they received conventional messages about dieting and attitudes about their body for a year. They did things that a normal diet would do:

·      Restricted fat and calorie intake

·      Encouraged to monitor diet with a food journal

·      Weigh themselves weekly

·      Walk or participate in exercise

The other group was the HAES group. They received a copy of the HAES book that was still in draft form. Their year-long program focused on:

·      Enhancing body acceptance and self-acceptance

·      Living a full life regardless of weight

·      Disconnecting their feelings of self-worth from their weight

·      Nutrition information

·      Activity

·      Lifestyle choices

Ok so what were the results? The HAES group did SIGNIFICANTLY better than the dieting group.

The HAES group:

·      Overcame their struggles with food

·      Became intuitive eaters, free to eat what they want, when they want, in an empowered way

·      Improved their body image and self-esteem

·      Showed significant declines in “bad” cholesterol (LDL)

·      Showed significant declines in blood pressure

·      Almost quadrupled the amount of energy they spent being active

·      Reported feeling more vital and enjoyed their bodies more

The Dieting group:

·      Showed initial weight loss, only to regain it and return to their original size by the end of the year

·      Blood pressure, LDL, activity level, and depression either stayed the same or worsened

·      Almost half of the dieters dropped out (compared to the 8% of the HAES group) showing that people don’t stick to diets

·      Self-esteem plummeted

Yikes! Crazy, right? So what can we do? We can say ENOUGH ALREADY to the diet culture that tells us we must lose weight and be a certain size to be healthy and beautiful. We can work to accept our bodies as they area right now and start treating them with the love and care that they deserve.

We can read books like HAES, Intuitive Eating, and Body Kindness and work on adapting the HAES/intuitive eating principles, or get a coach if you struggle with this on your own.

We can fill our instagram feeds with people of size diversity and who advocate for HAES/Intuitive eating. My favorites are:

@Chr1styharrison

@Loveyourbody_hc

@laurathomasphd

@simibotic

@alysonstickel

@rebeccascritchfield

We can listen to podcasts like Food Psyche by Christy Harrison to surround ourselves with EMPOWERING, healthy messages rather than the opposite.

We can work hard to change our beliefs on health and beauty.

We can work to accept our bodies just as they are and say good-bye to the societal ideal.

We can practice showing ourselves compassion and love.

We can move our bodies because we love ourselves and want to take care of ourselves, instead of punishing ourselves for food we ate.

We can discover and eat foods that make us feel alive, energized and fabulous.

We can prioritize things like sleep and drinking lots of water to stay hydrated.

We can prioritize having fun because it’s good for our health! (Bye-bye, stress!)

We can surround ourselves with people who support us in this radical journey to self-acceptance.

So there you have it. An overview on HAES. I highly recommend reading the book, as it provides study after study that reveals the real truth behind our weight. This article just skims the surface.

If even one person reads this and has some sort of breakthrough, mind-blowing, ah-ha moment, well then, my job is done.

Cheers to loving your body + living your life, friends.

Xoxo—

Jules

 

 

 

 

How to "Look Your Best" on Your Wedding Day

Here's why I love one-on-one coaching. I'll go in with a basic plan for the session, but then while talking about what went great that week, and what was challenging, often something will come up that we'll end up giving all of our attention to. No, we aren't getting derailed, we have this unique opportunity to dive deeper into something important that is happening. This is the power of one-on-one coaching. 

I'll share an example from this week, which came at a perfect time, as yesterday, I purchased my wedding dress =)

I was on a call with one of my wonderful clients. She told me she knows the engagement ring is coming, and she asked me if I felt pulled back into the world of dieting when I got engaged, due to the pressure of looking my best on my wedding day.

I was really happy to share with her that, no, I have gotten to a place in my intuitive eating journey where I'm able to appreciate my body for all that it is (and all that it's not!), I'm healthy and happy knowing this is my body's natural size and weight. No, I'm not a size 2, and I'll never be, because that wouldn't be healthy (or realistic with my hips... hah!) So, no, I don't feel pressured to lose weight before our wedding, like I know many brides do. It's what all the media/magazines/everyone tells us we need to do, after all.

But this launched us into a really incredible coaching conversation around where this "belief" comes from: the belief that we need to "look our best" on our wedding day, which to my client meant looking skinny.

And as we dug deeper into it, we uncovered the 'why' (deep set cultural norms and ideals), and then we began to challenge it.

My client told me that she had been skinner in her life, and that when she was at her skinniest, she was actually her most unhealthy and most miserable. 

I've had a similar experience. And it reminded me of the very last diet I went on. It was a 24-day "cleanse" and I ended up losing 10 pounds and a few inches. And was I happy? Confident? Full of love for my body?

No. I felt withdrawn and distracted. I had to be a hermit in order to avoid social situations with food and alcohol. I felt guilty. Shameful. I still wasn't satisfied with how my body looked. The scale owned me. 

But wow was this powerful. Because this experience showed me that a getting to a certain size would not bring me happiness, nor would it bring me body love. In fact, it brought the opposite. That was not my natural body size, and therefore, the things I had to do to achieve it turned me into a miserable human.

When I dieted, I deprived myself of the joy of showing up for the people in my life.

She, too, resonated with this.

And at this point there was a powerful breakthrough. My client realized that she doesn't have to buy into the idea that she needs to be "skinny" for her wedding. She gets to decide, she gets to CHOOSE what "looking great means" to her. 

And you know what that came down to for my client (and for me)?

Who we are BEING on our wedding days.

So instead of thinking, "I need to look my best," she shifted her desire and told me, "I want to BE my best self on my wedding day." 

I got chills as my client told me how she wants to show up on her wedding day. How she wants to be her best self for her future husband, for them as a unit. And how that means being able to show up fully for herself and him. And you know what that means? Letting go of food and body stress, so that she's not distracted and instead able to be happy and present for herself and her man. 

"It's about so much more than food," she said. "It's about who I am as a person."

And THAT, my friends, is how you look your best on your wedding day.

It's not about food. It's about who you are as a person.

If you're reading this thinking you want to get to this place of body acceptance and food/exercise freedom, too, join me for a Discovery Session. I'd love to talk to you about your unique relationship to food, exercise and body image. One-on-one coaching provides a powerful platform for transformation from the inside out. Spaces are filling up, so don't wait if you want in! 

And remember: my special 28-Day Love Your Body, Live Your Life Package has early bird pricing until December 13!

Fear Has a Loving Intention.


I want to share a moment with you from a coaching session last week that gave me chill bumps.

A client and I were heading into the fourth week on our intuitive eating journey, and as we talked about what went well, my client described to me the freedom she had been experiencing with food! She had some pretty incredible moments of honoring her cravings, choosing food that truly satisfied her, and thus feeling empowered to honor her hunger and fullness. She told me how good it felt, she didn't feel guilty when she enjoyed a sweet treat, and was easily able to stop eating it when she noticed she was full! 

Later in our call, she bravely told me how she was also afraid. And as we dug deeper, we uncovered that the fear came from this newfound freedom she was experiencing. This new freedom was freaking her out! I honestly got the chills because I know this is a sign of deep inner transformation.

If you also come from a place of living in the world of strict diet rules and an "eat this not that" mentality, then entering into the world of intuitive eating can certainly be scary! I know because I went through it, too. It's something so totally different than what we're used to... and therefore, AHH!

There's a part of our brain that is in charge of the "fight or flight" response, many call it the "critter brain" -- and if it senses that we are in danger, it arouses fear and is like ALERT ALERT ALERT: STOP WHAT YOU ARE DOING AND GET BACK TO SAFETY!

Fear, ultimately, has a loving intention: it wants to keep us safe! So nice of you, fear! However, fear doesn't understand when we're doing things that are good for us... like healing our relationship with food, it only knows what it's used to... and what it's used to is thus considered "safe." So to the critter brain, having a war-on-food mentality is safety. So you better believe it's going to want to keep us there, aka "safe."

That's how fear can hold us back if we're not careful. This can apply to ANY change you want to make in your life. And sometimes our fear is subconscious, which is even tricker! Then what happens is we'll likely self sabotage to keep us in this "safe" place. Ever feel like you want to make a change, have tried and just get "stuck?"  Yeah... I betchya that's this idea at play...!

However, if we know this... fear can be so EMPOWERING. Why? Because if I'm afraid, it's a pretty amazing indicator that I'm doing something worthwhile, I'm challenging myself... even more? It's a sign that I'm GROWING.  That I'm evolving in a big way that has my well-intentioned critter brain screaming RETREAT RETREAT RETREAT because I'm entering into new personal growth territory.

As we grow, evolve and become more authentic versions of ourselves, I encourage you to invite fear to join you along the journey, and to even see it as a sign that you're well on your way.

I purposefully will not comment on your weight, especially if you lose some. Or even lots.

Health, strength and beauty have nothing to do with how we look in a bikini. Nor are they defined by a size. We are, right now, strong & beautiful women.

I purposefully will not comment on your weight, especially if you lose some. Or even lots.

I’ll comment on your smile, your generosity, your thoughtfulness and your ambition. I’ll compliment your adorable new glasses or your rocking’ new boots. But no, I’m not going to comment on your weight loss.

I’m never going to tell you “you look great!” just because there is less of you standing in front of me. Because you’ve “looked great” all along. I’ve seen what makes you shine, all along.

I’ll choose to compliment you on your empowered actions, when you say yes to yourself. When you tell me you listen to your body. I’ll compliment you when I see you showing yourself love, or when you make yourself a priority. I’ll compliment you on powering through when times get tough. I’ll compliment you when you face your fears and embark on something new. But I promise to never say “you look great!” just because of weight lost.

See, when people used to comment on my weight loss, I’d feel SO good. It was like a high. That was the best compliment anyone could give me. It directly fed my addiction to the damaging diet mentality. It encouraged me to stay in a terrible mental space: to limit my food intake, to say terrible things to myself when I “messed up” my diet, to binge, to do other things I really don’t want to talk about here. A compliment on my skinner body told me that YES, I must need to be this size to be pretty and “look great.”

The irony is that the times I was my “skinniest” and on the most rigid diet were also the times I was the most unhappy and unhealthy... but that doesn’t show on the outside.

That’s why, no, I’ll never comment on your weight loss.

Because “YOU LOOK GREAT!” Right NOW.

And when we fully believe this? Transformation happens. 

Ready, Set: GOAL

With the start of every new season, I like to take time to reflect on all the successes, all the challenges, all the things I'm grateful for from the previous season. This helps me focus in on what I want to send my energy towards in this new season ahead. What do I want to accomplish this fall?

It's easy to just let the days pass... summer flies by, and then holy crap Labor Day is here... it's fall. And then it's Christmas, and oh my gosh then it's NEW YEAR'S EVE. 

Ok, ok, ok PUMP THE BREAKS!

Let's slow things down, yeah?! Ok great. Let's take time, even just 10 minutes, to check in: are we making the most of each day? Of each season? Or are we just rushing through life?

I invite you to join me on my seasonal reflection. 

Think back on your summer... and think about each of these items. If you're a journal person, have at it. Otherwise, just think these through.

  • What are three things you're super proud of doing this summer?
  • What risks did you take?
  • What scared you?
  • What surprised you?
  • What thrilled you?
  • What challenged you?
  • What did you do that made you feel most alive, most yourself?
  • Did you accomplish a goal you were working towards?
  • What are 5 things you're grateful for?

After taking time to reflect on these questions, you may notice that things come up for you... you may think about something in a new way, or be inspired to do something new... carry thoughts with you as you reflect on the following questions for fall.
 

  • What is one thing you could do for yourself this fall to help you feel more energized, full of life, happier in your every day?
    • examples: more sleep, meditation, going for walks, taking a trip, calling an old friend...
  • What is one specific goal you want to work towards?
  • Why does this goal matter to you?
  • How might life change for the better if you accomplish this goal?
  • What would be the best part about achieving this goal be?
  • How can you make space for this goal?

Goal setting is exciting. It's powerful to take time to set a vision for what we want to do, to really visualize what it would look like, what it would feel like. Sometimes, we set a goal and don't take the time to think about why it actually matters.

And guess what? THAT MATTERS! A goal with out a reason, a goal without passion is... quite honestly? A waste. To accomplish a goal, we have to truly care about it and how it will impact our lives. 

If we start to send our energy towards our goal, to do something little every day to work towards this goal, we'll get there. Especially if we believe we will. Whether it's just thinking about it, talking about it, taking little steps towards this big picture... where we send our energy matters.

If we send energy towards something negative, we feed that negativity! But if we send our energy towards something positive-we feed positive- we feed our goals, our highest vision for ourselves.

So I ask you... what do you want to accomplish this fall? Take the risk. Invest in yourself. Ask for support. And know that I'll be here cheering you on the whole way through. 

Have a wonderful Labor Day, everyone!

Let's Party!

By now, hopefully you've heard I launched my own health coaching biz (Julie Wojno Health Coaching!) And now... I want to celebrate!

I firmly believe in taking time to celebrate life, whether we throw a party or simply jot down an accomplishment we're proud of in our journal, taking time to say "hell yeah" is important.

And really I want you to join me! Seriously, it would mean the world. Yes, YOU! I wanna see ya! I've never been so excited to begin something as I am to begin health coaching... so let's do this.

Mark your calendar for Wednesday, September 20th. We'll enjoy some craft beer at Seventh Son's and my fave Trader Joe's/Whole Foods snacks from 7-9p (I reserved their beautiful private room for us, bring all your friends)!

You might think... "seriously, a health coach is having a party at a brewery?" 

And to that I say, "hell yeah I am!"

Photo by Autumn Theodore Photography

Photo by Autumn Theodore Photography

One of my core values in healthy living is that there is a time and a place for all foods (and drink), and that one of the healthiest things we can do for ourselves is to make peace with food, and listen to our bodies in order to best nourish ourselves.

Seriously, what's life if we deprive ourselves from our favorite things?

I don't even use words like "cheat meal" or "clean eating," because of the stigma it casts over food. These words, this kind of relationship with food, keeps us trapped in the War on Food. Language matters. Trust me on this one. Let's end the damn war already!

My health coaching philosophy is based in intuitive eating, where you learn to deeply tune in to listen to how, what and when your body wants to be nourished. We throw out the guidelines of "eat this, not that... at this time of day..." and instead honor our hunger and fullness, and choose foods that will make us feel energized and satisfy us. This frees us from being controlled by food. Bye-bye cycles of restriction and binging. 

True life: for my website photo shoot, I included photos at Seventh Son specifically to show that healthy living does not mean having some "perfect" (read: RESTRICTIVE) diet void of having fun! It's not ALL carrots and kale, people! It's actually that mindset of trying to be society's idea of "perfect," that can keep us stuck in a mentally unhealthy space. Let's focus on being present, rather than being perfect. In fact, let's create our own idea of perfect, for our own, unique lives.

My slogan is "love your body, live your life" for a reason, ya'll. And on Saturday, Sept. 20, let's live our lives a little and enjoy a delicious Humulus Nimbus (or a Jorts if they still have it on tap)! And of course, water and other non-alcoholic bevs will be available for anyone who doesn't want a beer. Because: do you, my people, do you!

I'm also going to have a spread of my absolute favorite Trader Joe's and Whole Foods snacks! From their sweet potato chips to the edamame hummus.... it's gonna be good. Real good. 

Feel free to bring friends, family... the more the merrier! But if you don't mind, RSVP via the Facebook Event, because it'll help out my peeps at Seventh Sons be prepared for the crowd! *Note: it's ok if you're like "I want to, but not sure yet!" RSVP anyways in case you do make it!

What's in a Logo? A Lot, Actually!

What. A. Week! 

Ever since Wednesday morning, when I hit the 'send' button to announce my new health coaching business, I feel like it's been a blur! I have been absolutely overwhelmed (in the good way!) from all the love and support.

Thank you, from the bottom of my heart. I am so excited about this new adventure! 

There's also someone else I want to thank, she's one of my oldest, and best friends: Kristen Nervo. When I was starting to get things going for my business, I gave Kristen a call, to see if she would design my logo. And did. she. ever.

I'm in love with it. It fully encompasses my health coaching (hell, my LIFE) philosophy... and so I wanted to take a minute to share it with you!

Screen Shot 2017-08-19 at 4.13.04 PM.png

Let's break it down.

The wheel: the wheel is the base, because a life in motion is a life well-lived. Our bodies were made to move. It doesn't matter how we move, we can walk, run, crawl, bike, jump, down dog, swim, dance, box... what does matter is that we find movement that we enjoy, movement that we crave, movement that empowers us and makes us feel alive.

The avocado: the avocado stands for fueling our bodies with nutrient dense food that tastes delicious and shows our bodies serious love. These foods energize us, make us feel good, and fuel us for a long, incredible life.

The donut: the (super adorable) donut is absolutely crucial in my logo! Because my philosophy of health is based in intuitive eating, where we listen to our bodies, eat and enjoy food that both fuels and satisfies us.... guilt free! I believe there is a time and a place for all food, that there is no such thing as a "cheat meal" because eating is not a game to be won or manipulated. I believe in breaking FREE of restrictive diets that keep us stuck. So, yeah... pass me the donut! 

The lotus flower: the lotus flower holds a special place in my heart. Lotus flowers grow in mud/muck. So the meaning of the lotus flower is that even in the mud, beauty grows and blossoms. When I think about my health and wellness journey, I was stuck in the mud for years, tormenting myself over achieving some impossible Hollywood unrealistic body. I was trapped. I was so far from healthy. But it has been in overcoming this, that I have found my voice, and my purpose... and that is a beautiful thing. The lotus, being a symbol often used in the yoga world, also adds in the element of mind-body connection: health of the whole person, not just the physical. 

So what's in a logo? Hmmm.... quite a bit =)

Thanks Kristen!

And thank you all for being a part of my community! I'm excited to share weekly recipes, yoga sequences, health/wellness insight/inspiration/ideas and action steps =) This is just the beginning.

Be a Doer, Not a Dreamer.

I've always looked at entrepreneurs with envy. How cool it would be to own my own business, do my own thing... 

 Then, at the beginning of this year I decided to stop dreaming, and start doing. 

If you read my blog, you know I'm passionate about cultivating a positive relationship to food and exercise. Starting as far back as college, when I entered the fitness world, I've been on a mission to change the script from working out/exercising to look a certain way, to feel a certain way. To help women health damaged relationships with food, exercise and body image.

I've always done this casually. In cycle or yoga classes... on my blog or instagram... and this was always my favorite part of teaching: forming meaningful relationships with my students and seeing them thrive via the strength and power they find on the bike or on the mat.

Now... I'm taking this whole thing a step further.

In September, I will officially be a Certified Health Coach. I've studying my ass off, immersing myself into the world of coaching from angles: my program curriculum, podcasts, books, articles, you name it... I've thrown myself all in.

My website is live and now I am SO excited to share it with you. Head over to www.juliewojno.com to learn all about my new biz. What is health coaching? What does my program look like? How can you explore more? You can also join the community via weekly e-mails that will offer recipes, easy yoga sequences for an at-home practice, topics like the ones found here on "Thoughts," inspiration and more. 

I'll also be planning fun group coaching challenges around goal setting and habit change... I can't wait. 

Want in on the fun? Want to invest in yourself like you never have before? Let's team up. I want to work with you. I want to be your biggest cheerleader AND your tough love coach. My mission is to create lasting habit change to help you live the live you've always loved. My mission is to empower you to fully love your body and live your absolute best life. 

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So let's do it. I'm offering free discovery sessions for anyone who is interested in learning more.

Cheers to new adventures. Cheers to being a doer, and not a dreamer.

Also... I just want to give a massive shout out to Autumn Theodore. Home girl did my photos and I am now so lucky to call her a friend. She is a truly incredible human: smart, ambitious, compassionate, courageous. And her photos are bomb. If you have photo needs, I cannot recommend her enough!!

Guest Blog: Why Safer Products Matter. By Alessandra Rogers

**UPDATE: until AUGUST 5 (aka PELOTONIA) use this link to purchase the amazing Beautycounter products and 15% will go towards my 100-mile ride to END CANCER!

I’m not going to lie, I am not one who does much to get all glammed up.  I often go to sleep without taking off makeup or brushing my teeth... I have never had a facial, I don’t know the first thing about hair and makeup... AND I am sad to say it, but my husband is disgusted by the little amount I shower (why I am admitting this, I do not know). 

Then... I found Beautycounter. What drew me in was learning how Beautycounter is dedicated to creating SAFE skincare, haircare, and makeup that are free of any and all toxic chemicals found in most products out there.

Yes please!

I became so passionate about the products, I became a consultant, and I started dive deep and learn why certain ingredients are used and why some ARE NOT.

Let's talk about toxins.

Count how many products you use daily.  Don’t forget shampoo, hand wash, face lotion, face wash, etc.  Now, each one of these products (9 times out of 10) has a plethora of harmful ingredients regardless of catchy “clean” words on the front of the package. EEK.  

We recognize that we can’t control everything our families eat or come into contact with, and life is about balance, but with Beautycounter, we can rest easy knowing we have one area covered. We can feel confident knowing that everything we’re putting on our bodies is safe and healthy.

Beautycounter will never use an ingredient related to human health risks, whether it be cancer, hormone disruptors, infertility, allergies, autoimmune etc. We all know someone that has been affected by one of these! While the research isn't fully out yet, they err on the side of caution! The ingredient screen is one of the strictest in the industry. In fact, Beautycounter has taken the EU regulations (…nearly 1,400 banned chemicals) and RUN with them banning over 1,500 ingredients in their products. Meanwhile the U.S. only bans 30.

When I approached Julie about Beautycounter (knowing she too cares about health and wellness), she, like me, said she didn’t use many products. But, also like me, her interest peaked when she started learning about the toxic chemicals found in other products. Yuck.

So what is all this buzz about Beautycounter?  Why should you care about what you put on your skin? You have been “okay so far,” right?

You see, your skin is your largest organ.  And too many of the ingredients in personal care products, even the ones approved by the U.S., are not safe. 

The stats are alarming. Organic doesn't mean toxin-free. Natural doesn't either. Just because something says it is free of Parabans doesn't make it safe. 

If you are a woman who intends on having kiddos, look into the research about what has been found in umbilical cord blood in 99 percent of women. It takes seconds for toxins to enter your bloodstream, and the toxins most personal care products contain can wreck havoc on your health (links to infertility, endocrine disruption, asthma, allergies, cancer, auto immune diseases) and the list goes on. 

Well, that's scary.  Enter: Beautycounter. SAFE products that actually work. 

Think Whole Foods meets Chanel… in fact, the Chief Scientific Officer, Xavier Ormancey, was with Chanel for 20 years!  In fact, he recently patented our latest lotion (we can’t wait to share information about it with you).  

Beautycounter is trying to change the world one step at a time.  They are a B corp, meaning they are trying to make a stance with Congress to get laws changed! The company is about education first.  Their secondary goal is to get safer products into the hands of everyone. 

WHAT? Education before sales? YES. 

They even go as far as letting you get your hands on every ingredient and handing out “never lists” so you can shop for safe products yourself, whether with them or not, by avoiding the listed ingredient.

They also have a reason why they use EVERY ingredient in their products.  You will never see unnecessary fillers in their products. No fillers is actually HUGE. See, without fillers the products last and last and last.  I can’t begin to tell you how often I was over-using the products at first because I was so used to products containing fillers.

Here’s the deal, the company is on a mission to change laws and help us to be safe. The products work, they last a long time, they are safe while pregnant, for your kids and a lot of dudes are even hopping on the band wagon. 

The company even has a 60 day return policy for used products because they want you to have a chance to continuously use the products and get results you want.  Who does that?! An amazing company that cares.  And we want to help spread the word because once you know better, you do better, right?! Right.

So come try out the products for yourself, I'll be at Studio 543 with Julie on Saturday, July 8th for her Pelotonia fundraiser! Here are the deets:

What: a 60-minute hot vinyasa flow (taught by Julie) followed by Beautycounter samples and shopping in the lobby! We'll have raffle prizes and discounted Beautycounter products! Best part? 15% of the Beautycounter sales go straight to Julie's 100-mile Pelotonia ride to END CANCER.

When: Saturday, July 8 at 10:30am

Where: Studio 543 Yoga Inferno!

Cost: $20 donation at the door! (But you can save your spot now, click here!)

 

Be Ideal.

If you live in Columbus and have turned on the radio (specifically WNCI), you've probably heard commercials for that "Ideal Image" place that wants to freeze your fat and give you the perfect bikini line, and who knows what else they do.

Their tagline is "be ideal."

Ohhhh the word "ideal." This word is PACKED with all sorts of interesting stuff.

I began going to the gym in the seventh grade. Yes, as in I'd get on the elliptical and "work out" with the goal of burning calories. I wanted, no, I needed to have an "ideal body." Everyone around me (family, friends) was super skinny, it was the age of Nicole Ritchie and Paris Hilton, and basically every adult I knew was very vocally on a diet, or moaning about how they should be on one.

Meanwhile, I had a very average-sized body, not super skinny, not overweight, oh, but I had curves, as in boobs and a butt starting in sixth grade. To me, normal body weight plus big boobs and butt meant I was "big." I didn't look like the skinny girls around me who were praised for being "so tiny!" They had ideal bodies, I thought.

From then through my sophomore/junior year in college, to say I had a horrible relationship with food and exercise is an understatement. When I looked in the mirror, I always saw what was wrong. 

Yoga was the first thing to begin the transformation of my relationship with my body. I started my yoga practice my sophomore year in college.

But what really helped accelerate my shift was when I began studying health communication during my junior year in college. I had the most incredible professor, who is a friend still today. I had always been curious about how communication impacts health behavior and body image, and this was my chance to start studying it.

I knew that growing up, magazines and the media, and even just run of the mill "fat talk" at home or at school were at the root of my disordered relationship with my body. I wanted to dive deeper and uncover how these messages function. So I did. 

After graduating form Boston College, I went to Ohio State to do more. In my research, one of the theories I came across and used in my thesis was called Self-Discrepancy theory.

It gets super complex, but I'll just keep it simple here.

What it boils down to is our ideas of our "ought self" and our "ideal self" versus our "actual self."

  • Ought-self: who we think we should be based on others' opinions (or what we think others' opinions are).
  • Ideal-self: this is often rooted in our ought-self, but it is the standard we hold ourselves to, the person we want to be.
  • Actual-self: the person we actually are.

So, let's look at High School/Freshman Year College Julie:

My my ideal self was based upon my ought self. I thought I "ought" to have little to no body fat in order to be ideal (and especially to work in fitness). 

And when I looked at my actual self, I obviously fell short. Because, hi, having little to no body fat is a specific body type few people have and/or are capable of achieving. And, with my naturally curvy frame... being the kind of skinny I thought I should be was straight up IMPOSSIBLE. 

Therefore, there was this HUGE discrepancy between who I was and who I thought I should be.

Herein lies the issue: when our actual selves don't measure up to our ideal selves... and this often stems from the "ought self," which we form based on how we are influenced by all sorts of external factors, which for me meant: media, culture, fitness industry, childhood. 

Fast forward. Lots of self-reflection and personal growth on the whole diet and exercise front later,  I began to realize how for me, being healthy meant enjoying a cheese burger and a beer without guilt, without feeling like a bad person. I started to see that no matter how hard I tried, I would never have that zero-body-fat body, and even trying to achieve that would mean a life of social isolation and absolute misery, and honestly? Starvation. That was not a life I wanted to live. It was neither mentally, physically, or emotionally healthy.

I wanted to exercise to feel good, not to punish myself.

I wanted to eat healthy food to nourish and love myself.

I also wanted to eat pizza to nourish and love myself in a  whole different way.

It is only recently that I picked up a book on Intuitive Eating. I had seen some really awesome instagram and blog posts about Intuitive Eating by a local health coach, Simi Botic, and I always thought, damn this girl is totally aligned with my philosophy on health... which, honestly, I felt was rare. Very rare. Everyone else was on some cleanse, or praising "clean food" or something... eat this/not that... #bikinibody.

So I knew I had to check out intuitive eating. Low and behold I felt like I was reading my own journey in the book. Intuitive Eating is all about deeply getting to know your body, and learning to listen to your body and nourish it according to what you are craving, what will bring pleasure, what will fuel you best, without external rules or regulations. It uncovers how diets have destroyed all intuition we naturally have around food, and how diets have created this society of deprivation and binging cycles and ultimately, an all out war on food and our bodies.

My favorite part of the book was the chapter on respecting your body. One thing this chapter asks you to do is embrace your body AS IT IS. Not as it would be 10 pounds lighter, but to just completely and fully love your body right now. And to love your body for it's unique shape and to stop striving for some insane ideal that, quite frankly, probably is impossible to achieve! It asks you to see your body for what it is. Not for what you think it should be, or could be, or what you want it to be, but to embrace your body as it is.

Guess what? When I actually started to genuinely LOVE my body... I started treating it with love.

This was huge for me. This is what I've been working on all along. Embracing my curves, the fat on my belly, the cellulite on my butt. This is my body. I am strong, I am healthy, and it's never going to be that zero-fat body. And you know what? I love that. I love it! It's my body, it's uniquely my own, and I absolutely love all that it is capable of, and all that it has been through and will go through.

This ties so well into my nerdy theory on self-discrepancy. And here's the cool thing about self-discrepancy theory... sure, it uncovers why so many of us have disordered relationships with food and exercise... but it also shows the way out of this war... we just need to shift our ideal. We need to throw the "oughts," "shoulds," "coulds" out the window and define our own ideal.

Our thoughts create our reality. And guess what? We control our thoughts. We control our ideal. We can create any ideal self we want.

Once I shifted my ideal-self, my world changed and all of a sudden I was free from the war on food I had been in my entire life.

Powerful stuff.

So I ask you this...

Think about your "ideal-self." Then, take time, lots of time, a day, a week, a month, A YEAR... to reflect on why you hold this ideal, how did these beliefs form?

Then... I ask you to really challenge this ideal-self.  Is this truly your ideal-self? What would life look like if you achieved that ideal self? Will this ideal-self bring you happiness? Is it realistic?

Or... is there a different self... perhaps even the one you are right now... that is so much better than your 'old' ideal. Start to focus your energy on her. 

I'm excited to be working on something that will allow me to share my journey and my knowledge in a bigger way with you all... stay tuned for more on that in the coming months... I absolutely cannot wait to share it with you!

 

All or Nothing... or Is It?

Every Friday at Ashtanga Yoga Columbus, we have "led practice," where one of our fabulous teachers leads the crew through the primary series, cued like a more traditional style yoga class (only this one is 99% in sanskrit).

This is different than any other day at AYC, where we practice Mysore style and can show up whenever we want and start working on our own practice at our own pace and stop at our own personal stopping point (guided by our teachers).

Led Fridays are AWESOME. There's something about that packed room, the energy, seeing everyone before class, all breathing and moving together.

But here's the thing: led class begins at 5:30am. I usually begin my Mysore practice at 4:30am. And, the entire primary series takes awhile... so it doesn't end until almost 7am. Guess who usually gets to work between 7 and 7:15am? 

This girl.

So I really struggle because I'm like, "shit I hate leaving early." I stress out, I feel guilty, I'm like blahhhhh I JUST WANT TO STAYYYY.

This last Friday, I was chatting with a fellow Ashtangi next to me about the "pains" of leaving early, and she was like yeah, ya know, I almost didn't show this morning, I thought about just doing a home practice instead because I knew I had to leave early. I was like yup, I really debated just skipping the whole thing today since I knew I could only stay for 40 minutes.

But we both agreed that even though we could only stay for the standing sequence, there's something so wonderful about practicing at the Shala. So we both showed up. And we both just agreed to enjoy the standing sequence and drop the stress of wanting to do one. more. pose.

And this simple conversation reminded me of something that is SO important and plays into so many areas of life: the 'all or nothing' mentality.

I almost just skipped practice just because I couldn't stay to do it all. All or nothing.

Instead, I went for 40 minutes, had a wonderful practice, and you know what? That was great! 

It doesn't have to be all or nothing. It's about presence, not perfection or duration...

The same all or nothing mentality used to plague my eating. I would think I HAVE TO EAT PERFECTLY, AND IF I HAVE ONE FREAKING COOKIE, I AM BAD, I MESSED UP, I JUST SCREWED UP EVERYTHING. 

Sometimes I would just feel like crap (super guilty) having "broken" my "healthy streak." Other times this would translate into binges of like, welp, might as well just keep this thang going and go WILD!

Ummmmmmm....Yeah. All or nothing.

I've worked hard to overcome my terrible relationship with food. If you know me now (or read this blog), you know that I firmly believe in enjoying things like donuts, cheese burgers and pizza without guilt. In fact, last night I had a super juicy burger at City Tavern in Italian Village and it ROCKED. I actually see these experiences as healthy. I really do. 

This all or nothing mentality has also impacted my exercise life. There were times when my workout was only considered "good" or "worthy" if I really pushed it to the extreme. All nor nothing. And if I ever went a day without exercise... yikes. 

Luckily, over the years, I have been able to work on dropping this damaging mentality. Little by little, finding balance and moderation, and being ok when that balance inevitably gets off kilter. That's ok, too. 

Recently, this work has come front in center in my yoga practice. I've been experiencing some extreme hip tightness that has impacted my ability to do a lotus on my left side...which I used to do with ease, and... let's just say you lotus a LOT during the primary series in Ashtanga.

Instead of feeling like "I suck," because I am unable to "give my all," or instead of staying home and not practicing because I can't lotus, I have still been showing up, I've been listening to my body, and modifying when I need to.

And while the old me would have felt:

A.  embarrassed to be modifying (OMG people are going to judge me) **newsflash, if a yogi is judging your practice... that person is missing a MASSIVE part of what yoga actually is... (cough cough non-judgement)

B. like a failure because I couldn't "give my all." 

The current me knows that it doesn't have to be all or nothing.

The current me, thanks to wonderful teachers, has actually been able to turn this injury experience into something so valuable.

I've been working on kindness and compassion within myself during these moments of modification. When my left leg screams at me, I back off, I send love there, and I drop self-judgement. I'm working on not criticizing myself for having a "bad" practice just because I couldn't fucking lotus on my left side.

This is powerful. This is game changing. This is me practicing self-love in a very real and tangible way. And this same lesson shows up in my every day all the time, and I'm now better able to not be so harsh with myself. 

Rarely in life is anything all or nothing. And actually... if I think something is... that is probably an indication I need to explore this "thing" more and reconsider my perspective. 

My intention is this: when I find myself slipping into an "all or nothing"  mentality, I stop and think... hmmm... can I instead find the 'or'?

 

 

Thoughts on Beauty.

This April, the yama I’ve been studying and focusing on is bramachrya, nonexcess, and it’s gotten me thinking about beauty.

So often, I hear people talk about exercising and dieting because they want to look a certain way. I know I used to do that, too. For years, I would kill myself at the gym and had a terrible relationship with food because I was striving to fit society's mold.

It’s not our fault, though. Our culture is heavily concentrated on looks. Every where I turn I see and hear messages telling me what I should look like, and I see people going to extraordinary lengths to fit this ideal: 

Hours at the gym, counting calories, eating this and not that, faux eyelashes, tattooed eyebrows, hair extensions, tans, heck, even surgeries. Not to mention the amount of money and time spent on makeup, beauty products, clothes…

But of course, right? I mean, literally every day we are told not only how we should look, but we are told that our worth depends on it.

Heck, I felt this message (this problem) was so prevalent, I went to graduate school to research its influences.

And now that May is rolling around the corner, god save us all, we’re entering into the dreaded “bikini body” season, where all of a sudden magazines and instagram tell us our worth boils down to how we look on the fucking beach #bikinbodyseries.

Ugh. Gag me. 

This culture brings me back to April’s yama: bramachrya, nonexcess.

Let it be said: I love getting dolled up just as much as the next girl. Getting new clothes that make me feel great? LOVE IT! And there is nothing wrong with makeup or faux eyelashes, or just wanting to look good in general... it’s all well and good. 

…To a point.

What IS harmful is when we cross the line of having fun with beauty, and enter into the realm of excess… when we become attached to the NEED to look a particular way and think we must look this way to be valued, worthy, loved, beautiful.

What I find damaging is overwhelming value we, as individuals and a culture, place on beauty.

It's toxic. I’ve been there, stuck in that place of thinking my worth is based on my beauty. That’s why I was addicted to exercise and beat myself up over everything I put in my mouth.  

I needed to be stick-skinny to be loved. If there was any fat on my belly, I better cover it the fuck up. God forbid I leave the house without makeup on. I thought these things. I really, truly did.

The most powerful thing I ever did was work to get over this spell, to get over this idea that I needed to look a certain way, or that I should work out to "look good" in a bikini. HA. Dropping that last particular idea made working out SO MUCH MORE MEANINGFUL and GRATIFYING (see previous blog posts).

It didn’t happen overnight, of course, it actually took years... and only recently have I really been able to silence that inner critic voice inside me… and let’s be real, it still pops up here and there... of course it does. 

But damn, the freedom I have being confident in the person I am, rather than focusing on the person I look like? Incredible.

And, the freedom I have in being confident in the person I look like, no matter how different it may be from our cultural standards? Well...Just picture me twirling around on a mountain somewhere, Sound of Music-style singing "THE HILLS ARE ALIVEEEEEE"... THAT'S how good it feels ;) .... and add in a middle finger to Hollywood among my twirls.

I see beauty in intellect, kindness, and passion.

So this is me saying to any of you who have felt like you need to diet and exercise in order to “look good” on the beach, or anywhere for that matter: (excuse my french, but) fuck that, you are beautiful right now, right as you are AND, you are so much more than your body.

So this is me saying to any of you who have felt like you need to dye your hair and get a tan to be sexy: you’re sexy just how you are, with or without the hair and the tan - AND I’ll bet a lot of money that your mind is your sexiest asset of all.

Namaste, ya beautiful people. I see you.

Visualize.

A few weeks ago, I was out to dinner with some pretty badass yogis. 

We were talking about future plans and goals and about the power of visualizing these dreams coming to fruition. We talked about the power of really focusing in on these goals, and sending our energy there, little by little every day. 

As we were life chatting about this over tacos, my dad, who just turned 64, had just landed in Kathmandu, Nepal.

Ok back up. Ever since I was little, I can remember my dad obsessing over Mount Everest. He's probably read every book, seen every movie/documentary, I think he's even gone to some Everest Climbers' lectures. 

He has always dreamt of going to Everest himself.

Then, when my brother moved to Thailand 3 years ago, they realized they had the perfect opportunity to make it happen. My brother Dan would meet my Dad in Kathmandu, and they'd hike the Everest Base Camp Trek together. Father, son. The training then began for what would be an arduous and magnificent trek at 17,000 feet.

Throughout the trek, my mom relayed text updates from my dad.

I'd see his photos and read his messages about the day's journey, and I couldn't help but stare at my phone in wonder.

Here was my dad. At age 64, climbing to the base camp of Mount Everest.

I just thought to myself, DAMN. Truly, we can do whatever it is we really set our minds to. If we visualize it. If we see it, if we really believe it can happen... that combined with hard, consistent work... anything is possible. Like my yogi friends were saying at dinner, we just have to consistently send our energy towards that goal.

I'm working on something right now that I'm super excited about. And I know that if I just keep putting the work in, if I keep visualizing my future... good things are bound to happen.

So what is it you want to do? Just start to focus in on it. See it. Every day send energy there. Take little steps, take big steps. Maybe that goal will come to life tomorrow, maybe next year, or hell, maybe when you're 64.

But we as my yoga teacher Taylor reminded me on my mat Thursday morning, we have to start somewhere... the most important part of any journey is the very. first. step.

Namaste, ya'll. Get after it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

When you know a change is coming...

I'm sitting on my couch looking at the shelves in front of me.

The first shelf sits just above the floor, the second one about 2 feet above. On the shelves I have a few succulents, and photos that sit atop a stack of favorite hard covered books.

I'm looking at the shelf thinking to myself how I need to change it before Saturday.

But mostly? I'm thinking about how weird it is to know that on a certain date, life will change. Drastically. 

The last time I had this big of a change, I was graduating with my Master's degree and starting a new job, and it was the first time I ever felt anxiety in my life. WOOF.

This time is different. This time the change doesn't come with anxiety. It's a change that I've been dreaming of since I was about 8-years-old. It's a change that I CAN'T BELIEVE IS HAPPENING.

It's a change I didn't think would come until later in the year... if that! And IF I was lucky...

But the universe has a funny way of working sometimes. Once again I learn that we can plan and plan and plan, and but sometimes things happen in ways you can only describe as being fate.

I'm really building this up... aren't I...

It's funny because as I think about this big change, a lifelong dream coming true... this Saturday... and how it will change my daily life in so many ways, I'm also thinking about other friends who have had similar changes lately.

And I feel pretty silly, because these friends just had freaking BABIES (shout out to Baby Gus and Baby Rowan!) and here I am... going nuts over... getting a PUPPY.

Hehe.

Yes, if you follow me on Instagram, you may have seen my post about the little (soon to be giant) Bernese Mountain Dog Alex and I get to go pick up this weekend and call our own.

Her name is Maple, because she was born in Canada (just 4 hours away). 

And I'm sitting here on my couch thinking about how this entire apartment is about to change.

Those pretty shelves need to be stripped of anything she could get into (bye-bye, succulents from Target, to a higher place you go...)

I think about how soon I'll be taking a full hour for lunch so I can come home to take care of her. 

I think about how I'm letting go of one cycle class to be able to not only take care of her, but simply enjoy time with her.

I think about how in the morning, I'll have to sneak out of the house and try not to wake her up when I leave for yoga at 4am. Or how when I do home practice, I'll have a little pup dancing around my mat.

I think about how now, I am not only thinking about taking care of myself, Alex and I will now have a little pup who will depend on us. And that is a HUGE responsibility! I've read like every puppy book and Bernese Mountain Dog book...

But mostly? 

I look around my apartment, which is quiet (Alex is still at work...), and I think about the absolute joy and love and life that is about to fill this space. I think about the snuggles on the couch. Puppy play time. Walks around the Scioto Mile and Goodale Park (once she's vaccinated, of course!)

All of this just has me thinking about how weird it is when you KNOW a change is coming. You know your life is going to be different starting THIS day... but really, you don't know EXACTLY how it's going to change... ya feel me?

I can think about how it will be different... but when it comes down to it, I don't REALLY exactly how this little pup will change my and Alex's life.

So as with anything in life, I open myself up to all of the possibilities... and I will let the universe work as it may. 

This puppy has also reaffirmed my belief that sometimes... we just have to trust universe. If we go after what we want, work hard, put good energy out there, and never lose sight of our dream or end goal or whatever it is... I do think that if it's meant to be... it will be.

We just have to trust.

And at the end of the day, this puppy is going to teach me so much. 

And I can't wait.

*Yes, I made her an instagram... you can follow along on our adventures! @MapleTheBernerBear*

 

 

 

A Plea to Fellow Instructors

January is upon us. And it’s this time of year, that I, for one, love.

I love having packed classes filled with new people giving all sorts of new exercise routines a try. I love the refreshed energy of new goals and aspirations. I am grateful for the opportunity to be a part of their journey. I am grateful that I get to help a new crowd of people discover a new way to let out stress, feel good, realize their strength and full potential. It's exciting. And it's why I teach in the first place.

And I really hope that you love this time of year, too… because you play a pivotal role in your new clients' experience and their cycling/yoga/crossfit/whatever journey.

So I have an ask for all of my fellow instructors of ALL types of classes:

I ask you to remember that going to a new fitness class of any kind for the first time is SUPER intimidating... Especially for someone who hasn’t done said type of exercise before, or in a long time. Heck, it’s even intimidating for an "athlete" who just is NEW to a particular studio! Being new anywhere… is stressful!

I ask you to take an honest assessment of how you act before, during, and after class. Do you smile at your students? Do you talk to them? What kind of environment do you create?

As instructors, one of our most important jobs is to make EVERYONE feel welcome, included and cared about. It’s our job to empower every single person who walks into our space.

Sadly, I fear that sometimes instructors can only add to the stress of a new studio. Often times, without realizing it, we can be standoff-ish. We can be intimidating.

And likely, we don’t even realize it. But we are. I know I’ve been to classes before where the instructor scares the shit out of me.

Here’s the thing. I don’t care how strong you are. I don’t care if you have a six-pack and if it glistens while you sweat. I don’t care if you can handstand from your down dog before your chatauranga. I don’t care if you can sprint like a champ all day every day on that bike. I don’t care how long you’ve been teaching for, or how much of a “rockstar” instructor you are, how many instagram followers you have. I don’t care how many certifications you hold, blah, blah. Blah.

You are awesome, I know! And here’s me saying, GO YOU! WOO HOO! Kudos, props! You’ve worked hard and you've likely inspired MANY, many people. Keep it up.

But here's something I believe FIRMLY: What will make you a truly great instructor is when you are one with your class. When you’re disposition is warm and welcoming. When you are not above them, but with them. When you are real and authentic and get to know your clients... when your clients become FRIENDS. What makes you a great instructor is your ability to foster healthy, inspirational, encouraging, supportive relationships with the people who walk into your class. To provide them a space where they feel at home.

So please, let’s leave the ego at the door, and go up to the newbies and befriend them. Laugh with them. Joke about falling out of poses and the bike saddle hurting like cray the first time you ride. With the biggest smile on your face, sincerely remind them that you care about their experience, and that this is THEIR practice/ride/whatever, and EMPOWER them to make it what THEY need. Challenge them to take it up a notch when they want. Challenge them to rest when they want. Challenge them to soak up their first class and not worry about doing everything the first time. Challenge them to have fun, and to ENJOY class.

Forget about you, and concentrate on them.

And when we, instructors, are finally able to realize and embody that?

… then we’ve done something truly great.

The Holidays are Here. ENJOY THEM.

Every time around the holidays, I start hearing people moaning and groaning about “how badly they’ve been eating.”  And how "bad" they are for eating so many sweets. And I get it, I’ve been there too. I’ll feel like a freaking bad person because I ate a few too many sugar cookies along with a slew of other Christmas treats (and ales).

But I, for one, am over it. Join me in this freedom, yeah?!

Here’s my ask of all of us: can we all just stop being so hard on ourselves? I know my personal goal is to just stop thinking so much about it, to stop obsessing.

Ahhh and here I am writing a blog post about it. A touch ironic, no? Hehe ;)

BUT ANYWAYS – where was I, oh yes -- I mean my gosh, enjoy the damn cookie, yeah? They’re delicious and come once a year!

Going into this 2016 holiday season, my outlook has been this:

QUESTION: Am I at a fabulous holiday party with fantastic food?

IF YES: Ok then, awesome, I’m just going to enjoy myself.  I’m going to have that cookie. And some of that delicious looking baked brie. Wait. What’s that over there? Is that… oh my gosh… my friend’s home made crab dip? Yes, YES please.

IF NO: Ok then, awesome, I’m going to do my best to eat as healthy as I can, nourishing foods that do all sorts of good for me, I’ll drink lots of water, and overall just be healthy, happy me.

And of course, I’ll get my exercise in, and I’ll sweat as much as I can during my workout. But I won’t sweat it when I have to miss a class because I have a fabulous holiday party to attend.

Because, ya’ll, I’m livin’ life over here. And I’m going to do way more damage to myself if I freak out over every little calorie consumed/burned/WHATEVERED.

So all of this is just to say this: remind yourself that you’re freaking awesome. You’re beautiful. You’re intelligent. You’re strong AF mentally, emotionally, physically. You aren't defined by how many cookies you ate or didn't eat this holidays season.

Just ENJOY yourself. And love yourself. And love that cookie.

It’s all about aiming for balance. Even when... maybe we get out of balance a little ;) That's ok, too.

The Pedal + Flow Gift Guide for the Workout Guru in Your Life

10 days left! I repeat, 10 days left! That's right peeps, it's December 14 and that means we have just 10 days until Christmas Eve. If you're scrambling to get a few last minute gifts, thank GOODNESS you stopped by the blog, I give to you my Top 10 Pedal + Flow Gift Guide for the person in your life who loves a good sweat, on the bike, on the mat, and everywhere in between.

  1. Have a cyclist in your life? Cycle shoes are a MUST. I tell people if they are consistently cycling once a week, the shoes are worth it! They transform the workout and instantly upgrade your ride. Plus, you can get a great pair for around $80 at my go-to bike shop in town, Roll! I wear the Giro brand and love them. Oh, and you'll wanna snag them SPD clips, too! 
     
  2. For your yogi...the best mat ever. I've tried most of the high end mats, and my ultimate favorite, no-slip mat is hands down the lululemon Reversible 5mm mat. And newsflash, as far as nice mats go, it's actually on the low-end of the price spectrum! Wait, they already have one? Consider the Reversible (Un) mat! It's super light, which is great for traveling... and if you're a yogi like me... you never go anywhere without a mat...
     
  3. For anyone who likes to sweat, or just likes to drink water..get them a Swell bottle, this one is on my list! It's one of those fancy new water bottles that keeps your water SUPER COLD -- which, for someone who enjoys hot yoga... is a gift from the gods.
     
  4. Framebridge. I'm obsessed with this site. If your person did some sort of athletic achievement this year... say, ran a race, cycled in Pelotonia, did a yoga pose they've been working on forever... I'm sure you have a picture somewhere, right?! Frame it! Frame this achievement! Framebridge is this amazing website that professionally frames photos for you... all it takes is a few clicks. You can even frame your instagrams (5" x 5") for just $39, and that includes shipping! This is such a wonderful personal gift... they'll love it.
     
  5. A MASSAGE! Ding ding ding! They'll bow down in gratitude! My favorite local spa is Open Sky Day Spa. Their entire staff is a dream, but I ESPECIALLY love Jessica Erb. The girl knows her shit.
     
  6. The Inspiralizer! Oh. Em. Gee this this kitchen gadget is at the TOP of my list. I've been using a little hand held spiralizer this year DREAMING of having a legit big guy. This kitchen gadget allows you to make noodles out of any veggie you can dream of. Even things like sweet potatoes! Say what?! Yeah, so that friend/loved one who likes to eat healthy? This will be a game changer. 

 

7.  Class passes, duh! I'm going to take a wild guess that your person's fave workout place isn't necessarily... cheap. Getting them a gift card or package of classes is always a winner. They'll be doing their happy dance. Might I recommend Cycle614 or Studio543?! ;) 

8. Gift cards to a local juice spot! I was recently given a gift card to Zest Juice Co., and it was the best thing ever! I love love love our local juice spots, Zest, Native Cold Pressed, and Alchemy... but because they're made with top notch ingredients, they're a little pricey... so a gift card is ah-mazing. Your person can indulge in their favorite healthy treat without feeling bad about paying $9 for that PB&J smoothie. High five!

9. The Simply Taylor Cookbook! Ok, so I've been loving the Simply Taylor blog, she's a local Columbus gal whose healthy recipes always look and taste like heaven. She is coming out with a cookbook on Jan. 3, and it's another item on my Christmas list! (Pre-order, duh!)

10. For the yogi in your life, check out local workshops! Columbus has a bumpin yoga scene... find out what cool yogis are coming to town for workshops -- hint: Yoga on High is always featuring amazing ones. I gifted my sister the Kino MacGregor Ashtanga workshop for her birthday last year, it was a hit, AND we got to do it together. Even better!!

Be a Beginner.

I've been thinking a LOT about being a beginner lately.

Being a beginner can be freaking scary. And often times uncomfortable. And sometimes frustrating. 

But it can also be exhilarating. And often times necessary.  And sometimes the best thing you could ever do for yourself.

I'm entering my third week in my first traditional yoga teaching job, leading a 60-minute hot vinyasa flow. And while I've been practicing yoga for years, I am a shiny, sparkling new beginner when it comes to teaching class. 

And sure, I've taught other fitness classes for the past six years... but trust me when I say teaching yoga is nothing like teaching cycle, or bootcamp classes. 

There are a lot of expectations, you know? Designing a creative, fun sequence that is both challenging and accessible and being able to seamlessly cue people through the entire flow, knowing your rights and lefts and inhales and exhales...

And let's get something straight. I'm Type-A. I've always been the "good student." I'm used to being the experienced cycling instructor. I always want to be great at the things I do.

And now, here I am, finding myself at the beginning of my journey as a yoga teacher. And while I am perfectly capable, and have actually been excited by the flows I've designed thus far, I am well aware that I am a beginner. I am new. And while I am confident in my ability and my knowledge of yoga, I know I have lots of learning and growing to do in this new role.

And you know what? That's great! To be good at anything... you have to start somewhere, right? I mean, if you never start something to begin with... you sure as hell aren't going to grow to be fantastic at it.

So this is me saying, let's embrace being new. Let's love being beginners... the process of trial and error, putting ourselves in situations that get our hearts pumping a little... it's this unique window we get to learn about ourselves... to try something new and see what comes up when we do. And let's not just try something new for a hot second, let's really give it a whirl. Let's not just just test drive the car, let's lease it... really give it a good ole' college try. The best things in life... you have to work for, after all. 

Think... what have you wanted to do... but haven't... just because you've been afraid of being the newbie in the room?

Whenever I'm talking to people about cycling or yoga (or a plethora of other things) the first response I get is, "oh, I'd suck at it", or "I can't even touch my toes, I'm not good at yoga."

But let's be real, it really doesn't matter if you "suck" at cycling your first time, or if you "can't even touch your toes at yoga.

Because.... well, at Cycle614, it's a welcoming AF environment, and literally every single person in that bike room was once a newb, too. And I can guarantee you, you won't be the only person in the yoga room who can't touch their toes... and hell, if you ever WANT to be able to touch your toes... you better get your ass to yoga to help ya out with that! It works. 

But let me repeat: every single person started something somewhere, somehow. Remember this. We were all beginners at one point in time. 

And let me also stress this: who the freak cares what other people think of you? If someone is judging you - F them! That says WAY more about them than it does about you. In fact, let's be clear: people's judgements, 99% of the time, have nothing to do with me/you and everything to do with them.

The best communities will cheer you on and be excited for you in this new journey. I love love love welcoming new students to my classes.

But you know what else is really cool about starting something new? ... It's freaking AMAZING to see your own progress.

...To remember that first class when you were like WTF IS HAPPENING HERE. Or when the teacher said "downward facing dog," and you were like DOWN WHAT LOOKING WHERE? And then to look and notice how far you've come... when I first started yoga, a Warrior 3 was the most challenging pose in the world to me. In fact, anything balancing on one foot was seemingly impossible. Now I'm balancing on my forearms with my feet dangling over my head. WHAT? Had to start somewhere, kids...

Because if you stick to something... you will go far. Ya just will...

Why do we put all this pressure on ourselves to be GREAT at something from the start? 

We have to start somewhere.

It's just a fact of life.

So let's stop putting so much pressure on ourselves to be awesome from the get-go and just have fun trying new things.

So what do you say? Be a newbie with me. 

 

The Great Cubs Indians Dilemma of 2016.

Ok. This blog post is inspired by the question I've been getting since the Indians started to break out earlier this summer.

I've been asked it OVER AND OVER AND OVER. And now... it's become a reality. And now... I'd like to share my thoughts/feelings/theories on this important topic...

The 2016 Cubs Indians World Series.

What. Yup. It's happening, people. The two teams with the LONGEST droughts and most epic curses are now playing each other in the World Freaking Series.

Background:

I grew up about 30 minutes south of Cleveland and have rooted on Cleveland teams my entire life, obviously. I cried hysterically when the Cavs won the Championship earlier this year. Cleveland has been through the freaking ringer, and in my book CLE deserves EVERYTHING in the whole entire world. All the goodness. ALL OF IT.

And then, I met my boyfriend, Alex, in 2013. Alex is a die hard Cubs fan  and has been ever since 1998 when they impressed 10 y/o him in the Home Run Race. Those players were pure magic, and right then and there he decided: the Cubs were his team. When he would write what he wanted to be when he grew up, he'd say a Chicago Cubs baseball player. 

Since 2013, I have watched countless Cubs games with Al. Yes, I watch baseball on TV... frequently. And when Al lived in Chicago for two years, a whopping 2 blocks away from Wrigley... we had a blast eating Chicago Dogs, nomming on peanuts and singing "Hey Chicago whaddaya say, the Cubs are gonna win today!" from the top of our lungs at Wrigley Field. Falling in love with Alex meant falling in love with the Cubs.

I've learned their history, I have favorite players and staunch opinions on what their walk-up songs should be. For example, my fave player Anthony Rizzo SHOULD walk up to Izzo by Jay-Z. 

What can I say. I love the Chicago Cubs.

I also love the Cleveland Indians.

AHHHHH! THE DILEMMA:

Side 1: It's a Win-Win!?
One side of this dilemma says it's a win-win. Either way a deserving team wins the World Series - which is awesome. We don't have to worry about another California team winning another championship... CALIFORNIA GETS EVERYTHING. Ugh. Haha ;) No matter what, one of my teams is going to win... awesome!

Side 2: One has to lose.
HOWEVER... due to my high levels of empathy... I will be devastated to my core for WHICHEVER team loses! Cleveland deserves NOTHING BUT THE BEST... ALL THE GOOD THINGS IN THE ENTIRE WORLD... I'd feel awful if they came this close and lost! And then... there are my Cubbies who haven't even been to a World Series since 1945, haven't WON since 1908! It'll be a heartbreak for whichever team loses!

WHAT.

My Theory... If I HAVE to Pick...
Ok. So WHO do I pick, if I have to pick? Well, I pick the Cubs. This year. Here's why.

Last year, the Cubs had their break-out year. Chicago was fired up, {OH MY GOD the Cubs are FINALLY good! WHAT.} They made it to the play-offs, but ended up getting swept by  the Mets. But alas, we were able to walk away happy and say, you know what, this was a GREAT year, we made it far... and next year? Next year is OUR year. So even with the loss, the hope was more alive than ever.

This year, the Indians had their break-out year. Cleveland and the rest of the world have been blown away by the Tribe. I mean they have been on an INSANE ROLL. And it kinda came out of nowhere! Amazing!! Now, here they are in the World Series!

So... I kind of feel like the Indians are like the 2015 Cubs. They had their break-out year, they've had a great season, and they've made it all the way to the World Series... if they lost, I could say, you know what, that was incredible, and next year? Next year is the Indian's year. The hope would still be alive, and they'd be ready to rock 2017. 

If the Cubs lost... I feel like it would just be flat out defeat. It would just be a heartbreak. 

So this year, this year is Cubs' year. It's the Cubbies time to break the curse. It's been 108 years since their last World Series.

So this year, if you're making me choose, YES, I choose the Cubs.

Next year, Indians, it's all you.