It Moves With You: On Slowing Down + Shifting Gears

It Moves With You: On Slowing Down + Shifting Gears

Body Tips + Tools

All year, I’ve been running. Literally and metaphorically. Running into my career, running into my 30s, running into huge life changes, new habits, new routines, new purpose, standing my ground with people I love, and holding my own when it comes to my worth.

Running, running, running.

Not ever running away – running toward and running through – but nevertheless, running.

Last week, as I slipped on my shoes for yet another run that felt as if it might be lackluster, just like the runs I’ve been running for the last couple weeks, I realized – I do not want to run any more.

At least right now.

It’s pre-winter in NYC, which means that the weather’s pulling bi-polar stunts all over the place. One day it’s 65 and gorgeous, the next it’s in the 30s and so cold I can’t feel my hands crammed into my own pockets. I’m throw for a loop: I don’t know what to wear, my skin doesn’t know what’s going on, and my routine gets thrown completely out of whack without me even realizing what’s happening.

And my exercise regimen – one of my favorite forms of self-care – suddenly feels useless.

~

Seasonal shifts can do a number on you when you live in a culture that doesn’t honor (or even talk about!) the ways our bodies and minds subtly shift throughout the year.

According to the magazines and trends, we’re supposed to act, eat, and yes, exercise the same way January through December: with intensity, with drive, with an all-or-nothing mentality that promises slimmer thighs!, better sex!, and brighter moods! 365 days a year.

So when days like these seemingly lovely cool-and-crisp ones roll around and I can’t muster up that intensity and drive – I’ve gotta tell you, I feel like a real asshole.

the puzzle jeremy and i did (instead of exercising.)

Everything about this time of year is about slowing down, being thankful, and cozying up with the ones we love.

So why do we still think that high-impact, fast-paced, quick-fix workouts are the only way to go, when the rest of the season encourages slowing down and shifting gears?

I agree that a high-impact workout can be a great way to blow off steam. I understand that it can help de-puff after too many pie slices (been there, done that). But for someone like me, who is highly sensitive to the energetic shifts around her, adding stress to an already stressful time almost seems like fighting fire with fire.

I didn’t realize this until the other day, when slipping into my workout clothes I realized I had ZERO DESIRE to run. I usually love to run, and for the past year, it’s been my fitness form of choice. Running, and big group classes packed with familiar faces.

But lately, I’ve had zero desire for either. It’s crazily out of character. It’s unexpected. And it goes completely against my heath credo: I am a firm believer that there are way too many kinds of fitness formats for all kinds of personality types for a workout to ever feel “forced.”

And yet I realized that I’ve been trying to force myself through my routine for the sake of routine – hopping onto the treadmill and feeling no different afterwards, or going into my usual much-loved, jam-packed yoga class and getting major performance anxiety from the lack of space. Doing it not because it brought me joy or made me feel good in the now, but because it brought me joy and made me feel good at some other point in time.

We’re all dealing with a lot – year-round. The way we exercise should compliment what we’re missing, what we’re craving, and what we want to create in our lives each season of the year.

I realized that all year, I’ve been running toward the person I want to be and the world I want to create. Running toward, fighting for. Eleven-plus whole months of RUNNING.

It gave me solace, it gave me ideas, it gave me energy.

It gave me fight.

And after all that running, that soul-opening, spirit-gratifying running – my body doesn’t want to run right now.

It wants to ground down, plant roots, and reflect on the solid foundation that I’ve built and want to build from here on out.

My body is in its winter, and to my dismay, I realized I’ve been trying to fight that.

~

No matter your goals, you don’t need to prescribe to one certain type of exercise year-round in order to feel good in your body year-round. Even when it comes to cross-training and mixing your week up – sometimes the run-lift-yoga, or crossfit-pilates-spin, or whatever-you-usually-do combo isn’t the combo that’s going to be the best one in every moment.

For right now, for my body to be its best, I’m realizing I need to cross-train in a different way. I need to listen to how my body is changing with the seasons.

There is no one right way to exercise this season. Because the right way is the way that works for you, and for you alone.

watching ice skaters (instead of exercising.)

Need some help? Here are 3 fitness “tips” (I use the term loosely) to follow this month and beyond:

1.) Feed your cravings, not your addictions.

Ever notice how the more you do something extreme, the more your body wants the next hit? Stress is like that. And not just the kind of emotional stress we associate with bad stuff: the kind of physical stress that gets our heart rate up in the gym, feels thrilling, and/or works our body to its edge. It’s why going super-super fast on a spin bike is trendy, even though it’s not efficient or effective: it’s an easy hit for a stress junkie.

Similarly, if you’re feeling cabin fever, extremely “restorative’ or more steady-state exercises might not be the best for you right now. You might need a run, or a boxing class, or ViPR or something like that to get your blood pumping and shake things up if they’re feeling stagnant.

Net-net, you want to feed what your body is craving (in this case – actually wants), not what it’s addicted to (in this case – what it’s simply used to wanting).

2.) Enlist a friend…or not.

Maybe you’re not around family during this time of year, or you live in a new city. Working out solo can be hard, for an unexpected reason: it reinforces the feeling of being lonely-alone.

On the flipside, if you’ve got party after shindig after obligation after whatever on your schedule, you might need some alone time.

If you’re getting a little too much solo time this season, you might need to put yourself in a community-type scenario, whether that means calling up a friendly acquaintance for a gym date or popping into that team-vibey class.

On the other hand, if you’re stretched thin on the social front – don’t force yourself into a class if you don’t want to (even if it’s your normal routine), and don’t wait around for someone else to be ready for the gym (just because it’s how you always roll). This is how I’m feeling right now, and while I usually use the gym as a way to feel a sense of community, I’m currently feeling the urge to keep to myself, go solo, and use my workout time to do some introspection (my best epiphanies come when I move, after all).

Sure, this is sort of a no-brainer. But so many times, we get so caught up in the routine of things, we forget those “duh” nuggets of wisdom. It’s perfectly okay to do like Stevie Nicks and go your own way.
Do like Stevie Nicks and go your own way. Click To Tweet

3.) All hail the rest day(s)…but also, don’t blindly follow them.

There was a time in my life that I thought rest days were a sign of weakness, low willpower, and lost athleticism. Boy was I wrong. REST DAYS ARE AMAZING YOU GUYS!!!!!

But something interesting happened along the way to discovering this: I found that when I planned my rest days, they ended up being the days I wanted to exercise the most, even if I’d technically taken a “rest day” the day before. Basically, I became so tied to the idea of certain days “needing” to be rest days and certain days “needing” to be workout days that it became really hard to listen to what my body actually wanted in the moment.

What I found works for me is to “nothing” rest days. I take them when I take them. Sometimes once a week, sometimes twice or three times. But always, always when I’m feeling the need to rejuvenate.

Of course, if you’re killin’ it in the gym every single day, working through injuries, etc, it’s very important to break the addiction and de-vilify the Rest Day. Your physical health depends on it. But as a former listmaking addict – a person addicted to planning her weeks down to the minutes she’d be brushing her teeth (fact; I still have the notebooks filled with the lists) – I’ve found that planning out my rest days works against all the hard work I’ve done over the years to listen to my body and honor its needs. Granted, I did need to plan rest days along the way just to get used to them…but after that? I became able to enjoy rest days and “sweat” days equally.

the walk i took to work (instead of exercising.)

So how am I exercising right now if I’m not doing my normal run-lift-yoga combo? I’m doing the exercises that make me feel grounded.

I’m going into the spin room at the gym during non-class hours, plugging in my headphones, and doing a class all for myself. It’s low impact, which means my bones aren’t absorbing force that would come from, say, striking my foot down on the ground in a sprint. Each pedalstroke grounds me and reminds me that this is my body, and it’s the only one I’ve got (in this lifetime, at least, I don’t know what comes next!). Sometimes I’ll hop into the class of a teacher I know and trust, because with so much newness this year, my body isn’t in a phase of exploration and chance. It feels good to use the music to guide me or have the teacher tell me what to do, because all year long I’ve been making decisions that sort of scare me. I’m trading my box jumps and caterpillar crawls for machine-based exercises and mat classes.

And sometimes, I just roll out my mat, close my eyes, and BE.

Yes. THAT COUNTS.

I’m feeling a need to be nurtured and supported, held up while I do the work. What that looks like? I get to decide, over and over again, every single day.

I’m sure in the new year, or even in the new month, all this will change.

But that is the beauty of fitness, and what drew me to it in the first place: it moves with you.

 

WANT YOURSELF:
In the comments, tell me: do you also find that your body craves different forms of movement as the seasons change? How do you plan on taking care of yourself this winter? What’s one thing you can do today to honor what your body truly WANTs?

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5 Ways To Motivate Yourself To Exercise (No Matter How You Feel)

5 Ways To Motivate Yourself To Exercise (No Matter How You Feel)

Body Tips + Tools

I’m no stranger to sweat therapy: I hit the gym on the regular. My running shoes are practically a second set of feet. I’ve never been one to turn down a chance to get down (dog) – heck, I’ve been teaching spin classes since people thought it meant you go to a class and turn around in circles for 45 minutes on end (for real. people used to ask me if that was what a spin class was).

I’m well aware of both the physical and mental benefits of getting my heart rate up on the regular, and consider fitness more of a lifestyle habit than a to-do to get to-done.

So why, then, do I wake up some mornings feeling like the last thing I want to do is get moving?

~

According to catchy headlines and fly-by-night trends, we’re supposed to sweat it out the same way no matter the season: with intensity, with drive, and with an all-or-nothing mentality that promises slimmer thighs!, better sex!, and brighter moods! 365 days a year. We force ourselves into routines for the sake of routines, not taking into account that we are living, breathing, changing beings who experience enough physical, emotional, and spiritual shifts in a mere day to fill up a week’s worth of SoulCycle classes by 12:01pm on a Monday afternoon.

Study after study shows us that exercise can boost our mood, help our bodies clear out toxins, and make even the most everyday of activities seem a whole lot easier (hello, five-story walk up apartment). But when you’re feeling fatigued, uninspired, or just plain down-in-the-slumps, scientific facts don’t help all that much. And the “accountability” factor of having a class to make or a trainer to see isn’t always a surefire recipe to get amped up.


The solution: You’ve got to make your workout work out for you.

 

I’ve definitely struggled with this since moving across the country. Not only was I not used to the seasonal shifts, but I had to completely restructure my schedule, top to bottom. This definitely included the way I moved. I loved exercising outside, which I didn’t have many opportunities to do in LA – one point, NYC! The gym was also a huge part of my community on the west coast, and I found that the NYC gyms where I felt that were NOT the ones that were the closest to my house. And then there was rain, there was snow, and there was that huge dramatic shift in early November when I didn’t even want to leave the house let alone break a sweat. Thankfully, ten months in, I’ve figured out my roadblocks and how to move through them in order to get moving.

You’ve got to make your workout WORK OUT for you. Click To Tweet

Feeling blah? I feel you – and there’s no need to let negative self-talk stand in your way. Here are five ways to set yourself up for success and motivate yourself to exercise, no matter how you feel:

 

1) Give yourself options. Ever notice that the more often you do something extreme, the more your body starts to want its next hit? It’s kind of like that with fitness. When it comes to working out on a down day, it’s important to feed your cravings, not your addictions. That could mean foregoing your usual five-mile run for a meditative walk in the park. That could mean modifying your burpees in your HIIT sesh so there’s no push-up involved. That could mean trading in plank for child’s pose. Knowing you have options within the workout you choose removes that all-or-nothing feeling and gives your body what it actually wants (feeds the craving) vs. what you think it SHOULD be wanting (feeding the addiction).

 

2) Have a Plan A…Plan B…Plan C….Plan D… I love to run outside. But I know myself, and there are certain situations in which even the most persuasive person I know (hi mom) wouldn’t be able to convince me to haul you-know-what out in the open air. If you’ve learned how to psych yourself to run in brutal heat, icky rain, or I-can’t-feel-my-face cold, more power to you. Me? That’s a big NOPE in my book.

In the past, I’d either force myself to brave the elements or skip out altogether. Not only was the former potentially dangerous and the latter a surefire way to make me a crankypants for the rest of the day, but neither of those options had to be the solutions! Now I know to always have a Plan A, B, C, even a Plan D for making my workout work for me. Running outside not an option? Use the treadmill. All the treads already taken at the gym? Hop on an elliptical. No cardio equipment available whatsoever – or it’s just too miserable to leave the house in the first place? Say hello to my fave, customizable self-confidence boosting workout. Having multiple options at the ready, I’ve found, ensures I can make a decision that’s right for me no matter the circumstance.

 

3) Wear what makes you feel good. Many fitness pros and motivational coaches will recommend that a surefire way to get amped to work out is wear a rockin’ piece of fitnesswear. And that’s solid advice. Heck, a whole activewear revolution is happening because of that exact school of thought!

The problem is, sometimes that’s not what actually makes us feel our best – especially if we’re feeling uncomfortable in our own skin. When I’m feeling down on myself and physically uncomfortable, I wear clothes that have a little more “give” to them. Sometimes, I throw on my fiancé’s old t-shirt and call it a day. Point is: if your fitnesswear best makes you feel rockin’, rock on! But if an old concert tee and stretchy pants from 2008 make you feel great, that’s great too. It’s much easier to get in a productive – and pleasant – workout when you’re less concerned with the way you look and more invested in the way you feel.

 

4) Make playlist presents for yourself. When I find music I love, I become borderline obsessed. So muchso, in fact, that I’ll listen to an entire album or playlist on repeat for weeks, then move onto another set of songs for another few weeks after that. And so on, and so on. That first time I listen is always the most exciting – so what I’ve learned to do is create a playlist for myself (or download an entire album on Spotify) and promise myself not to listen until my next workout. This works with playlists, genre “stations” on Spotify or Pandora (I’m all about the “90s Smash Hits” right now), even podcasts. Giving yourself something to look forward to within the workout setting is a great way to trick yourself into putting the work in and having a blast in the moment.


5) Give it a REST.
Okay, so this one might seem counter-intuitive…rest to motivate yourself to exercise? Isn’t this a recipe for a negative talk spiral? Actually, it’s the exact opposite. I’m not talking about resting when you’ve got adrenal fatigue or are overtraining – which, obviously, require rest. I’m talking about letting yourself off the hook. If you’re constantly pressuring yourself to “be motivated,” how will you ever get there? Just like with food, your decision to exercise (or not exercise) is not good or bad – it just IS. Yes, sometimes it’s necessary to just get up and do it even when you’d rather be binge watching Orange Is The New Black on your couch. But at the same time, it’s necessary to train yourself to cut yourself some slack. How can we ever develop a healthy relationship with our body if we’re constantly putting the pressure on it to look, act, and do things a certain way? In my experience, this is a breeding ground for guilt and exercise addiction. Give yourself the space to breathe – you might be surprised by what happens when you start to approach exercise as one of many opportunities to feel good, not one sole chance or obligation to do things the “right” way.

 

Looking for more WANT wisdom to help you get moving? Click here for help ramping up…or maybe even slowing down.


WANT YOURSELF:
Now, you: I’d love to hear how you motivate yourself to exercise when you’re just not feeling it. Is there a specific trick you’ve got up your sleeve? Is there a song or playlist you’ve go that gets you going no matter what? Leave a comment below – your sweat-positive strategy might be exactly what someone else needs to get them spinning in the right direction. Literally or figuratively ;)


Photo by Caddie Hastings

The WANTcast Season One Finale: 30 Lessons I’ve Learned In 30 Years

The WANTcast Season One Finale: 30 Lessons I’ve Learned In 30 Years

Body Community Love Motivation + Inspiration Shift Of Power the WANTcast Tips + Tools

And just like that, it was the Season One finale.

As you probably already realized…this episode is a little different. It’s just me today. I’m gonna try something new. It just so happens that by the time a lot of you listen to this, it’ll also be my 30th birthday. I decided that today, I’d jam about 30 lessons I’ve learned in 30 years. I know. A little headline-y. But hey – I always love reading those lists, and hearing what others have to say about the lessons they’ve learned, so I thought maybe you’d like to, too.

Honestly, as I was thinking about it, there is a LOT of overlap in the lessons I learned in season one of the WANTcast, so it seems fitting to honor the end of Season One with this episode. Some of these are pretty deep (think body image and life choices), some are a little more trivial than others (stuff about smog checks, for example), but in the moment, they ALL feel huge.

My hope is that this can help someone else through their first three decades – and maybe, just maybe, set the tone for what kinds of lessons open up to you from here on out no matter what decade you’re in.

WANT Yourself:

Listen in iTunes | Play in new window | Download | Support the WANTcast by shopping on Amazon like you normally do

Show Notes:
WANTcast archives
Benjamin Mathes episode
Kirsten Potenza episode
Ashlee Piper episode
Jessica Murnane episode
Kate Northrup
Many Lives, Many Masters
Using Your Intuition Vs. Being Triggered
I Love You And I Like You: The Ebbs And Flows Of Body Image
The Dreams We Woke Up From: An Ode To Transitions

Like this episode? Shoot me a comment below, leave a review on iTunes, share it on Facebook, tweet it out on Twitter, or post it on Instagram. Be sure to use the hashtags #WANTcast, #womenagainstnegativetalk, and/or #WANTyourself!

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A Case Of The Januarys (Or, 3 Things To Do Besides Resolve To “Lose Weight”)

A Case Of The Januarys (Or, 3 Things To Do Besides Resolve To “Lose Weight”)

Body Community Love Tips + Tools Work

It’s only the beginning of the month, and we’ve got a first-class case of the Januarys: that extra-special cocktail of optimism, hope, frustration, and grit with a sprinkle of self-loathing and dash of cynicism on the side. It’s what ramps up gym memberships and cashes in on cleanses – what jolts us out of bed on the first of the month and has us barely out of pjs by March. It’s what rings in the year with cheer and closes out the year with fear. It’s what keeps us in the loop of pseudo self-improvement that makes us feel like we just can’t catch a break.

And frankly, it’s exhausting.

A thought: what if it’s all a ploy? What if the freshness of each new year is just a chance for food companies, fitness brands, and mass media marketing to convince us that the way we’ve been living hasn’t been “good enough” until now? What if our case of the Januarys is being exploited so that we’re tricked into using those positive qualities – the optimism, hope, grit – to fuel the negative, over and over, year after year, right when it hits us hardest?

There’s a grain of truth in this tactic. Transitional moments like birthdays, seasons, and yes, new years, are stellar times to make shift happen. Natural transitions beget natural change – I don’t know one person who hasn’t grown a year older or stepped outside on the first day of summer and felt something shift inside of them. Whether it’s metaphorical or physical, the shedding of layers during these times of change is what makes space for all the growth and general newness coming our way. To resist this is to resist the chance to be your most expressed, most ecstatic, most whole self.

The caveat lies in the kind of shift we try to make happen. Superficial goals that read like magazine headlines set us up for failure by focusing on one narrow expectation – an end result that’s arbitrary, impersonal, and might not even be in our control. Dropping the dress size, making more money, finding true love, getting the best body ever. Ever.

More and more women (and men) find themselves back at square one by the time the year is over – and even if they don’t and their outsides look different, many are mentally in the same spot as they’ve always been by years’ end.

It’s reinforced by our culture and years of trying to do right by it: We should want to be better, and the way to do that is focus on a prescribed set of seemingly achievable norms. (Mostly having to do with how to lose weight or getting our “best body ever.” Like, what does that even mean?)

What if I told you that the so-called “secrets” to your best body didn’t come in a can, a bottle, a cream or a Crossfit? What if I said the trick to dropping the dress size, making more money, and finding true love was simple, accessible, and realistic for the life you’re living at this very moment?

What if the decisions you made – the ones that had nothing to do with calories or reps or the job you have or things you buy – were the decisions that actually helped you get that life you covet?

What if your best body ever was actually the one you’re in now? Click To Tweet

You’ve already read about all the new fitness trends and diet tricks. Here are three other ways to cure a case of the Januarys (along with my own examples for inspo). Turns out, it’s all in your attitude:

1.) FIND A REASON FOR THE SEASON (of change)
Losing weight, buying a house, or “networking more” are all fine and dandy, but what happens after? It’s important to know why you want to make a change, and what that “why” means to you. Think losing weight will make you happier? Well, what does “happy” mean to you? Self-confidence to wear what you, ask someone on a date, insist on that raise, stand up to your bullies? Okay, so losing weight can definitely play a part in that. But if “buying a house” will make you happier as well, that might boil down to safety, security, a sense of belonging….and there actually might be something else that can speak to that on a more regular basis. Maybe you can redecorate your apartment, or have people over once a week for game night.

This year, focus on the reason you want change and then go from there. You can use this to break down goals into habits as well. Say you want to “eat healthier.” Well, what does “healthier” mean to you? Maybe you already eat a mostly plant-based diet, but are still feeling sluggish or foggy throughout the day. Can you pinpoint a small change that could be contributing to this? Healthier could mean drinking half your body weight in water (the recommended dose) per day. It could mean eating earlier in the evening – or later. Point being: it’s your unique micro-habits that eventually shape positive macro-change.

My example: I want to have more energy. What does “more energy” look like to me? It means not pressing the snooze button 4xs, working out in the mornings, getting work done in a timely fashion so I can spend more time not sitting. I love the mornings, and the earlier I can get myself up and running (literally or metaphorically!), the better I feel about my day in general. I have loads of mental energy – it’s the physical energy that gets me sometimes.  And what I’ve realized is that it starts when I wake up…with a headache. My doctor suggested eating a little bit of protein about 30 minutes before I go to sleep, which is something that has helped me in the past. So in the new year, I’d love to start that habit again. I know it will lead to “more energy,” but it makes me excited because it feels like I’ll be getting my mornings back. My habit/reason/”resolution” if you will is to eat a little protein 30 minutes before bed…not to “have more energy.”

It's your unique micro-habits that eventually shape positive macro-change. Click To Tweet

2.) THE HABIT-TO-MONTH RATIO.

I once read that when adopting a newer, healthier lifestyle (whether that means losing extra inches, lowering inflammation in your body, gaining muscle, or raising your body weight to a level at which it can function with energy and ease), it takes something like four weeks for you to feel a difference, eight for your friends to take notice…and twelve for acquaintance and strangers to start asking questions. Okay, so maybe I read it on the ever-prestigious scientific journal that is Pinterest…but I love the picture it paints of slow and steady change, moment by moment. Sure, you can have an end result in mind. But most of the time, when we’re so tightly tied to one specific end result, we miss out on all the other great things that happen along the way.

This year, try adopting one new habit per month and just see where it takes you. If the Pinterest scientists are correct, you’ll start to feel a shift about a month into your journey. If it’s working for you, great! If it’s not, let it go – no guilt.

Another bonus? Just one habit per month prevents you for getting too overwhelmed with tasks and to-dos – and helps you pay attention to what’s really going on as a result of the change you’ve vowed to make. I can sometimes (read: all the times) get overly excited about the idea of making big shifts all at once. It’s exciting. And distracting. One per month (or one habit + one tangible to-do item if you’re feeling ambitious) helps me focus my energy on that single thing instead of spreading myself thin in 12 different areas of my life.

My example: This month, I’m going to make a habit out of exercising between 9:30am and 10:30am every weekday. My schedule has been feeling haphazard lately, and I’ve found that’s the time block I get the most out of my sweat sessions – so I’ve committed to trying it out this month to see if it helps me feel more structured and energized the rest of the day. Next month, I’m going to make sure I schedule two social activities during the week each week, whether they’re dinner dates with friends or saying yes to media invites. As an introvert, I need my time to think and recharge, but I also know that I crave a sense of community. Too many “yesses” makes me feel stretched thin, but I’ve found that too few make me feel disconnected. Carving out time for two high-value (soul-wise) activities is totally doable and gets me excited to connect with like-minded peeps.

Try adopting one new habit per month and just see where it takes you. Click To Tweet

3.) COMPLIMENT OTHERS.
When it comes to negative self-talk, have you ever heard someone ask “Would you talk to your best friend that way?” (here’s why that doesn’t really work) Turns out, this advice works best in the opposite, positive direction: when we compliment others, whether it be on a new dress or on their killer smile, we are training our brains to speak kindly. And as with anything else, practice makes permanence. When your mind practices the art of reassurance and positive reinforcement, its wires get untangled and positivity starts to become your own vernacular. I have no “My Example” for this one, because these are effects I see daily, monthly, yearly. Self-talk is like a muscle – and we can choose whether to build it up positively or negatively.

This year, start being kind to yourself by being kind to others. In a sea of “best body now!” guides and headlines, this one shift can be your biggest game-changer. Retraining yourself to speak a new language – a language of kindness – has major positive ramifications. Your “best body” becomes the one you are in now, because you realize that even on the gloomiest days there is something wonderful about it that keeps you shining. Your physical self becomes not a goal to achieve, but a by-product of all the jumping-for-joy you’re doing in the rest of your life, during the high highs and the low lows.

Self-talk is like a muscle - and we can choose whether to build it up positively or negatively. Click To Tweet

When you’re nice to others, you’re nice to yourself – and you will start making decisions from a place of self-love instead of self-loathing. It’s a small change, that, over time, makes a huge, huge difference.

Now that’s what I call a cure-all.

jump-for-joy
WANT YOURSELF:
I gave you my examples – and now I want to hear yours in the comments below.
What is one reason you’d like to make a shift, and what does that mean to you?
What is one new habit you can try out this month to get you feeling the way you want to feel?
Have you tried the “speak to others like you hope to speak to yourself” compliment experiment?
Doesn’t this picture of a girl jumping just make you want to jump for joy yourself? (it’s infectious like that)

It Moves With You: The Right Way To Exercise This Season.

It Moves With You: The Right Way To Exercise This Season.

Body Tips + Tools

All year, I’ve been running. Literally and metaphorically. Running into solopreneurship, running into my last year of this decade, running into huge life changes, deaths in the family, standing my ground with people I love, and holding my own when it comes to my worth.

Running, running, running.

Not ever running away – running toward and running through – but nevertheless, running.

Last week, as I slipped on my shoes for yet another run that felt as if it might be lackluster, just like the runs I’ve been running for the last couple weeks, I realized – I do not want to run any more.

At least right now.

how-to-exercise

It’s pre-winter in L.A, which means that the weather’s pulling bi-polar stunts all over the place. One day it’s 90 and muggy, the next it’s in the 50s and windy. I’m throw for a loop: I don’t know what to wear, my skin doesn’t know what’s going on, and my routine gets thrown completely out of whack without me even realizing what’s happening. My exercise regimen – one of my favorite forms of self-care – suddenly feels useless.

Seasonal shifts can do a number on you when you live in a culture that doesn’t honor (or even talk about!) the ways our bodies and minds subtly shift throughout the year. According to the magazines and trends, we’re supposed to act, eat, and yes, exercise the same way January through December: with intensity, with drive, with an all-or-nothing mentality that promises slimmer thighs!, better sex!, and brighter moods! 365 days a year.

So when days like these seemingly lovely cool-and-crisp ones roll around and I can’t muster up that intensity and drive – I’ve gotta tell you, I feel like a real asshole.

The body never lies. -Martha Graham Click To Tweet

how-to-exercise

Everything about this time of year is about slowing down, being thankful, and cozying up with the ones we love. So why do we still think that high-impact, fast-paced, quick-fix workouts are the only way to go, when the rest of the season encourages slowing down and shifting gears?

I agree that a high-impact workout can be a great way to blow off steam. I understand that it can help de-puff after too many pie slices (been there, done that). But for someone like me, who is highly sensitive to the energetic shifts around her, adding stress to an already stressful time almost seems like fighting fire with fire.

I didn’t realize this until the other day, when slipping into my workout clothes I realized I had ZERO DESIRE to run. I usually love to run, and for the past year, it’s been my fitness form of choice. Running, and big group classes packed with familiar faces.

But lately, I’ve had zero desire for either. It’s crazily out of character. It’s unexpected. And it goes completely against my heath credo: I am a firm believer that there are way too many kinds of fitness formats for all kinds of personality types for a workout to ever feel “forced.” And yet I realized that I’ve been trying to force myself through my routine for the sake of routine – hopping onto the treadmill and feeling no different afterwards, or going into my usual much-loved, jam-packed yoga class and getting major performance anxiety from the lack of space. Doing it not because it brought me joy or made me feel good in the now, but because it brought me joy and made me feel good at some other point in time.

We’re all dealing with a lot – year-round. The way we exercise should compliment what we’re missing, what we’re craving, and what we want to create in our lives each season of the year.

I realized that all year, I’ve been running toward the person I want to be and the world I want to create. Running toward, fighting for. Ten-plus whole months of RUNNING.

It gave me solace, it gave me ideas, it gave me energy.

It gave me fight.

And after all that running, that soul-opening, spirit-gratifying running – my body doesn’t want to run right now.

It wants to ground down, plant roots, and reflect on the solid foundation that I’ve built and want to build from here on out.

My body is in its winter, and to my dismay, I realized I’ve been trying to fight that.

how-to-exercise

No matter your goals, you don’t need to prescribe to one certain type of exercise year-round in order to feel good in your body year-round. Even when it comes to cross-training and mixing your week up – sometimes the run-lift-yoga, or crossfit-pilates-spin, or whatever-you-usually-do combo isn’t the combo that’s going to be the best one in every moment.

For right now, for my body to be its best, I’m realizing I need to cross-train in a different way. I need to listen to how my body is changing with the seasons.

There is no one right way to exercise this season. Because the right way is the way that works for you, and for you alone.

The only 'right' way to exercise is the way that works for you and you alone. Click To Tweet

Need some help? Here are 3 fitness “tips” (I use the term loosely) to follow this month and beyond:

1.) Feed your cravings, not your addictions.

Ever notice how the more you do something extreme, the more your body wants the next hit? Stress is like that. And not just the kind of emotional stress we associate with bad stuff: the kind of physical stress that gets our heart rate up in the gym, feels thrilling, and/or works our body to its edge. It’s why going super-super fast on a spin bike is trendy, even though it’s not efficient or effective. It’s an easy hit for a stress junkie.

Similarly, if you’re feeling cabin fever, extremely “restorative’ or more steady-state exercises might not be the best for you right now. You might need a run, or a boxing class, or ViPR or something like that to get your blood pumping and shake things up if they’re feeling stagnant.

Net-net, you want to feed what your body is craving (in this case – actually wants), not what it’s addicted to (in this case – what it’s simply used to wanting).

2.) Enlist a friend…or not.

Maybe you’re not around family during this time of year, or you live in a new city. Working out solo can be hard, for an unexpected reason: it reinforces the feeling of being lonely-alone.

On the flipside, if you’ve got party after shindig after obligation after whatever on your schedule, you might need some alone time.

If you’re getting a little too much solo time this season, you might need to put yourself in a community-type scenario, whether that means calling up a friendly acquaintance for a gym date or popping into that team-vibey class.

On the other hand, if you’re stretched thin on the social front – don’t force yourself into a class if you don’t want to (even if it’s your normal routine), and don’t wait around for someone else to be ready for the gym (just because it’s how you always roll). This is how I’m feeling right now, and while I usually use the gym as a way to feel a sense of community, I’m currently feeling the urge to keep to myself, go solo, and use my workout time to do some introspection (my best epiphanies come when I move, after all).

Sure, this is sort of a no-brainer. But so many times, we get so caught up in the routine of things, we forget those “duh” nuggets of wisdom. It’s perfectly okay to do like Stevie Nicks and go your own way.

3.) All hail the rest day(s)…but also, don’t blindly follow them.

There was a time in my life that I thought rest days were a sign of weakness, low willpower, and lost athleticism. Boy was I wrong. Rest days are amazing! But something interesting happened along the way to discovering this: I found that when I planned my rest days, they ended up being the days I wanted to exercise the most, even if I’d technically taken a “rest day” the day before. Basically, I became so tied to the idea of certain days “needing” to be rest days and certain days “needing” to be workout days that it became really hard to listen to what my body actually wanted in the moment.

What I found works for me is to “nothing” rest days. I take them when I take them. Sometimes once a week, sometimes twice or three times. But always, always when I’m feeling the need to rejuvenate.

Of course, if you’re killing it in the gym every single day, working through injuries, etc, it’s very important to break the addiction and de-vilify the Rest Day. But as a former listmaking addict – a person addicted to planning her weeks down to the minutes she’d be brushing her teeth – I’ve found that planning out my rest days works against all the hard work I’ve done over the years to listen to my body and honor its needs. Granted, I did need to plan rest days along the way just to get used to them…but after that? I became able to enjoy rest days and “sweat” days equally.

how-to-exercise

So how am I exercising right now if I’m not doing my normal run-lift-yoga combo? I’m doing the exercises that make me feel grounded.

I’m going into the spin room at the gym during non-class hours, plugging in my headphones, and doing a class all for myself. It’s low impact, which means my bones aren’t absorbing force that would come from, say, striking my foot down on the ground in a sprint. Each pedalstroke grounds me and reminds me that this is my body, and it’s the only one I’ve got (in this lifetime, at least, I don’t know what comes next!). Sometimes I’ll hop into the class of a teacher I know and trust, because with so much newness this year, my body isn’t in a phase of exploration and chance. It feels good to use the music to guide me or have the teacher tell me what to do, because all year long I’ve been making decisions that sort of scare me. I’m trading my box jumps and caterpillar crawls for machine-based exercises and mat classes. I’m feeling a need to be nurtured and supported, held up while I do the work.

I’m sure in the new year, or even in the new month, all this will change. But that is the beauty of fitness, and what drew me to it in the first place: it moves with you.

how-to-exercise

WANT YOURSELF:
In the comments, tell me: do you also find that your body craves different forms of movement as the seasons change? How do you plan on taking care of yourself this winter? What’s one thing you can do today to honor what your body truly WANTs?

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The WANTcast Episode 001: On Creative Depression + Facing Your Fears with Artist Delia Brown

The WANTcast Episode 001: On Creative Depression + Facing Your Fears with Artist Delia Brown

Body Community the WANTcast

I cannot think of a better guest for the first WANTcast (if you want to read a little bit about the pod’s launch, click over to this page).

When I was younger, I thought I was going to be an artist. Not in the esoteric, all-inclusive way. The drawing and painting way. I studied the classics in art class every Saturday morning, copying Monets, Manets, and Reniors, wondering if I could ever grow up to be like them.

As I grew older, I realized I didn’t know what that looked like as a profession in a time other than the 1800s. I didn’t have role models. And so that desire just…faded away.

I first met Delia Brown a couple years ago when she became an indoor cycling teacher at Equinox, and was instantly drawn to her down to earth, inclusive, sassy but soulful personality.

As I got to know her, these little pieces of information started to surface… Like the fact that she rapped. Or that she swam in the ocean every morning.

Or that she was literally a famous artist.

Like will-be-in-art-history-books famous. Like the-kind-of-famous-I-wanted-to-be-as-a-painter. Like, BIG TIME fame.

(She’d never admit to it so blatantly, of course. But I like to brag about her talent. So yes. Big time.)

Earlier this year, something else surfaced: that she had been diagnosed with, in her words, a pretty gnarly strain of cancer.

In this episode, Delia she talks about falling into a creative depression that lasted years, doing things because they’re scary, finding role models that reflect who you know you can be, and – of course – her rap career (she opened for Wu Tang Clan, now writes/performs wonderfully hilarious parodies on YouTube), her Real Housewives project, and her appearance on one of her fave Daytime TV soaps.

We also, of course, talk about the Big C – and why she actually doesn’t wish she “didn’t have to deal with it.”

If you are into living life to the fullest – yes, I‘m going to be that general – this episode is for you. I love her and I know you will too.

WANT DELIA:

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Listen + subscribe in iTunes

WANT more? Come back on Thursday for Delia’s WANT Woman spotlight…

Show notes:
Website
Instagram
Delia’s blog
(+ blog entry “Chemo Is Done, Boo-Ya-Ka”)
The Fuzz demo tape from 1993 on SoundCloud

Delia on The Young & The Restless
Rap parodies: (These Hoes Ain’t) Lawyers, Whole Foods Parking Lot rap response: Revenge of the Black Prius
Information on uterine papillary serous carcinoma
Donate to support rare cancer research at Memorial Sloan-Kettering
Theme by Christopher Given Harrison
Jessica Murnane of One Part Podcast

Like this episode? Shoot me a comment below, leave a review on iTunes (the more reviews, the more Delia’s message is spread), share it on Facebook, tweet it out on Twitter, or post it on Instagram. Be sure to use the hashtags #WANTcast, #womenagainstnegativetalk, and/or #WANTyourself!

photo credit: Wallpaper Magazine