fitness

How To Workout When You're Tired AF and Totally Unfocused

I got to that point in my post partum journey where I literally couldn’t find pants that fit comfortably. It was the most discouraging feeling in the world. 

I knew I needed to workout but the prospect of moving my body as a new mama to a kid who apparently hated sleep exhausted me even more than I was already exhausted. It was a daunting prospect.

But here’s the thing: as long as you’re moving your body, and increasing your heart rate you’re going to burn calories. So on the days when you’re tired af, don’t focus on WHAT you’re doing, focus on just DOING.

Here’s my pro tip for how to workout when you’re exhausted:

Listen to your body. It’s really that simple. Be kind to yourself. Our bodies go through such a tremendous amount of change when we’re growing our families. We tend to forget that this change happens LONG before the baby actually shows up in our arms.

Don’t worry I won’t get all science nerd on ya, but rest assured between physical and hormonal changes that occur while you’re pregnant, your body has been through the ringer before you even go into labor.

Then regardless of whether or not your labor goes “smoothly” (OMG biggest laugh ever…smooth labor…I mean a watermelon coming out of THAT is definitely something you’re going to feel) you’ve still experienced a trauma. While it is a beautiful, transformative, life creating experience, it is still a trauma. And even though our bodies were designed to be able to create, carry and deliver life, it’s still a process with its own hormonal releases and physical changes. 

And THEN you start breastfeeding which is a whole other game of hormonal and physical changes.

Here’s my point to this long winded reflection down memory lane. Your body has gone through a lot and if you’re still relatively early in your post partum journey, your body is still going through a lot. Not to mention that you’re attempting to teach a small human how to sleep, eat and all of those things. 

I think of all those things, I think back to when I experienced all those things (with a colicky baby) and I was tired AS FUCK. I’ve never been that tired before, not even when I was in the Army did I EVER FEEL THAT TIRED. Bone sucking, mentally ass kicking exhaustion. It’s the kind of tired that you can’t even explain to another human. It’s that unrelatable.

So I can imagine that the prospect of working out makes you want to kick people in the shins. Conversely you feel like you have to because you’re just so sick of seeing that flab that makes you look like you’re in the not so cute stages of pregnancy (when it looked like you just ate too much) so you feel like you have to workout. Talk about a shitty catch-22.

Listen to your body. Be patient. Be kind. Know that these changes that happened in your body took almost a full year to occur so give yourself TIME to heal and TIME to get back to a healthy state. Focus on the things you can control. Like eating healthy food.

When you go to workout, do the workouts that sound the most appealing in that second of time. I always had a workout and a contingency plan. The reason being two fold: first I could have options if I was so tired I couldn’t see straight AND I needed a back up in case things around me went to shit.

I always had the hardcore, super intense workout. This was normally something HIIT, or longer endurance workouts that I knew would kick my ass. Then my back up was always the gentler option. Yoga, mat pilates, resistance training, stretch days, things that were kinder to my body.

On days when I needed to, I did the gentler workouts and celebrated the fact that I could still move my body and on the days when Grace wasn’t partying like an out of control rockstar, I did the more intense workouts. On days that went so amazingly well I had to pinch myself, I did both (those days were rare in my house).

Regardless, I was doing the work and what mattered more is that I was doing the work consistently. I could focus because the workout was what I needed, I felt better after, and I knew that I was still on my way back to feeling like myself again.

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What Do You Tell Yourself?

Working out can be so damn frustrating. Look I’m just calling it like I see it. There are some days when holy crap the workout doesn’t work out at all. Maybe you slept wrong, maybe you didn’t have breakfast or coffee, maybe your kids are interrupting you or the dog is being a pain in the ass...regardless there’s gonna be days when your workout will lead to more frustration than release. 

That was my workout this morning. I knew I was pressed for time, but I needed to move my body. So I grabbed one of my quick workouts from the YouTube channel and attempted to get to work. Only to be interrupted like 5 million times (I’m exaggerating but you feel my pain) by my freaking dogs. Like why do you have to wrestle on TOP of my mat??!

But then I checked myself. Like hard. Because I don’t mind a workout getting hard, I know it will and it should, but I definitely mind getting distracted when I workout. Here’s the thing though: it’s still better than not doing anything or not being ABLE to do anything. 

I started thinking back to the days when I first got hurt, when I was doing bicep curls in a bed because I couldn’t walk, and I started thinking about how far I’ve come. It brought me to tears. When I was knee deep in my injury, when my body was wrecked after I had Grace, I never thought I would be able to move my body in the way I can now. Seriously sometimes I even surprise myself. 

I started thinking that every workout I do, every time I move my body, it’s an opportunity for me to show myself of my capabilities. Even if the workout doesn’t go as planned, even if I’m frustrated, it’s still a reflection of how far I’ve come. It’s still an opportunity for me to show up for myself. That makes even the shittiest workout worth it to me. 

We all know that parenthood and incorporating healthy living into it won’t go as planned. That’s the best lesson I’ve ever learned as a parent, the art of being flexible and patient, and now I know that it all starts in my head and if I can look at things from a different perspective, it makes all the work worth it. 

So when the workout gets frustrating, regardless of why, I want you to focus on how far you’ve come, how much you’ve shown up for yourself and how proud of yourself you should be. Let those thoughts give you power and motivation to finish STRONG.

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What Do You Need Today?

Some days I just need to slow down. I know you know that feeling. When your body is literally telling you to stop and take a breath because you’ve been going a mile a minute with no end in sight. I mean I get it, life is crazy and there’s always something that needs to get done or something that needs to be taken care of for someone.

I’m not saying that taking a break means that you neglect your responsibilities. Far from it. I’m saying that taking a break needs to be an opportunity for you to rejuvenate.

With self-care being the hotness, I feel like people everywhere are toting this verbiage of doing what’s the best for you. To me, that’s not what self-care means.

Back in the day, I couldn’t give myself a break even if I tried. When I was really active in CrossFit, and then again post baby when I was trying my hardest to lose weight and feel good again, the thought of taking time off was non-existent. It was one of those ‘well that’ll be a nice thing to have in the future when I’ve reached my goals’ kind of thought.

I let my ego get in the way, along with my pride. I felt like taking a break meant I was weak or that I didn’t take the goals I set for myself as seriously as other people took their goals. Like one day off would circumvent any progress I had made. 

I realize that sounds a little ridiculous but that’s where my head was at. Like I didn’t deserve to take a second to myself, I had to do everything by myself AND I still had to workout like a fiend so I could hit my fitness goals. I was lucky because I didn’t hit burn out. Most people do. That kind of pace isn’t sustainable nor is it realistic for the majority of the population.

But you know what happened? I didn’t have some major epiphany or some major meltdown (thank GOD), but I started regressing. Not giving my body the rest it needed, meant that my body couldn’t perform in the manner I wanted it to because I was too exhausted. The feedback I received from my body was to stop if I wanted to get stronger. Take a break if I wanted to see change.

I could spout off all this stuff about how I had to let go of my ego and my pride, I had to do the work to realize that I was worth the break, my body deserved the rest and all that stuff. But I won’t. I won’t because that wasn’t how it happened. I had to give myself the rest because I was getting frustrated that I wasn’t performing to the degree I wanted to, and I had to let that rest show me that it wasn’t going to undo the progress I already made. After I saw that taking a break was not going to undo everything I had already done, that I actually felt better, then I started to do all that internal work (with the help of a coach).

This is why when I coach, I encourage my clients to listen to what their bodies are telling them. Know that there is always an option that will work the best for you and it doesn’t have to be what everyone else is doing. Learn the difference between doing what you want and doing what you need, and take ownership in doing what you need. There’s power in listening to what you need to maintain a healthy lifestyle. So when you want to go hard, go for it but when you need to slow down, go for that too.

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The Practical Side of Healthy Living

Ok let’s get off of this mindset stuff for a hot second. I definitely realize the importance of it. Don’t get me wrong, when people talk about achieving healthy living as a lifestyle choice, mindset is the majority of the battle. It seems insignificant but really it’s huge. Because if your mind isn’t right, you’re not going to feel ok with making the decision to have self-care, you won’t feel right exercising, and it’ll be way easier to fall into the excuses trap then it will be to do the work.

I’m sure we’ll get back to that topic soon. I’m already thinking of stuff while I write this post in fact.

But I wanted this post to be more about the practicality of healthy living. I think a lot of people think that having a healthy lifestyle is super hard, it’s expensive or really time consuming. They’re comparing their journey unfairly to the famous person or influencer in social media who has a personal trainer coming to their house on the daily, and has a private chef. For the majority of the population, this isn’t how healthy living gets achieved. I mean girl if your goal is to have a private chef, I’m SO here for that. In fact, just plan on inviting me over for dinner ok?

I’m all about how it will work from a logistical standpoint, but I’m like that with most of my life. When you get hurt and you’re wheel chair bound, you begin to look at life like the game of Tetris. Like how are all these things going to fit together? How will I move through this activity to the next, what will I need, that sort of thing. 

That line of thinking for me was only reinforced when I had a baby and had to think about all the things that could happen once we left the house. It’s like contingency plans on contingency plans, constantly trying to mitigate any risk or pain in the ass complicated situation you can come up with.

Obviously I’m a planner as a result and that extends to healthy living. I can’t second guess this stuff. Partly because I don’t have the time and partly because I know if I don’t have a plan, that’s when the bad decisions are made. So I plan. Not crazy but I definitely do plan.

Part of that means planning out what my family will have for dinner during the week. So ya that does mean taking an hour of my time, usually while I watch Grey’s Anatomy (you’re welcome), and coming up with recipes, or taking note of recipes I want to cook that week and making the corresponding grocery list from there. I’ve taken it a step further recently to include what snacks we will be having as well, and including those ingredients on my list. It just takes the thought out of it. I know what options I have for dinner, sometimes I pre-plan to the day if I know I’ll be out at night, and I know I have everything I need already in my house. 

The other thing I plan are my workouts. This is a little more challenging because some of my workouts are planning for classes I teach or people I train privately, and some workouts are for my head more than my body (like yoga), and some workouts are just to sweat. But even then I know what is going to happen each day for that workout and I have it in my calendar. I have the time blocked out and I also have a back up workout just in case my original plan doesn’t work out. Working out because it happens more often than me going grocery shopping needs more options, more flexibility and more patience on my part. Because life is going to happen and things will change, but ultimately if I can get my workout handled at some point during the day, then all is good.

I’m not the type to stress buying this thing or that, or for a person to do this kind of exercise or that, but I do believe that we all deserve to feel our best. If taking an hour out of your day once a week and doing those things means I’ll feel better in the long run then for me, it’s an hour well spent.

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I'm Gonna Go There

Ok I’m going to go there. Some of you might not like this one, so fair warning with it, but I feel like with all I talk in regards to healthy living and balance, it’s worth addressing. Obviously I’m a huge proponent in having a coach to help support you and guide you when it comes to meeting the goals you’ve set for yourself in regards to healthy living. Maybe it is a balance issue, maybe you’re wanting to lose weight, whatever your end game is, a coach is for sure beneficial. A coach is 1000% (yes there’s an extra zero there) that person who can look at your life and tell you where to make changes so you can get the results you’re craving. A coach is that outside person who can call you on your bullshit as well. Because we all have excuses that hold us back. Coaches are invaluable, shoot I have a coach and will always have a coach. I need my person to tell me when I’m full of it, but also cheer me on when I do something well.

Here’s the thing though: even with a coach, at the end of the day girl it’s all on you. It’s still ultimately your choice as far as what you are going to do to get better. I’ve had this tremendous opportunity in my life to be a coach to all kinds of people. I’ve had the opportunity to work with all kinds of injuries, all different stages of life, all different goals and many different priorities. It’s been the best experience of my life to play a role in strengthening the individuals around me.

But ultimately it’s not even me doing anything. I mean obviously I have tools in my tool box that you don’t have, that’s just the nature of the beast. I’ll share everything I have, every tool, every piece of knowledge I’ve gained over all these years of experience. I’m more than happy to pay all of this forward. I mean after all, I’m doing nothing if I’m sitting on all of this knowledge and not sharing it with the people around me.  

Even then, it’s still all on you. Because if you’re not willing to show up for yourself, if you’re not willing to commit to yourself, then nothing will change. You won’t see anything improve or have any kind of transformation because you haven’t taken any action. It’s not some like magical thing that will just happen through osmosis. You still have to do the work.

A lot of the time doing the work is more than just doing the exercises and eating well. Doing the work is understanding what’s holding you back from taking action in the first place. It’s scary to learn about that aspect of yourself. To learn what your excuses are and why you have them in the first place, and then work through them. I mean dang girl, it can for sure take you to some unexplored areas of your mind but in the end it’s worth it.

In the end, it makes doing the work a whole hell of a lot easier. It makes taking action towards achieving your goals that much simpler. The work won’t seem as daunting, your coach won’t seem as annoying, and you’ll be able to find motivation you didn’t know you had.

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Sophrosyne

I talked about this on a live last month, and I’ve posted about in on IG (oh the Gram), but I felt like it was worthwhile to expand upon in here too. Only because so many people have contacted me about this whole concept of sophrosyne.

I know. Fancy. I’m not one for fancy words but I’m totally one to geek out on concepts that are so applicable to all people all of the time. And the Greeks are super smart with ideas that were applicable back then and now as well.

Basically the idea of sophrosyne is the idea of moderation. It’s knowing what you need verses what you want, and how you create a healthy lifestyle around that difference. It’s that idea that once you know why you over indulge on something, you’ll be able to make a different decision because you’ll understand why you’re making that decision in the first place.

I think when most of us are presented with this idea, we think about either what we’re eating or our fitness. It makes sense to me that our minds would go to those two things because those are two things that are directly correlated with healthy living that can be quickly screwed up when it comes to healthy living. 

But doing that deep dive to understand why you’re reaching for the second piece of cake when you don’t really NEED it, or why you’re working out 4 hours a day when really 1 hour would suffice is hard. It means looking at aspects of yourself that maybe aren’t the most flattering or working through things that have happened in your life that maybe aren’t the prettiest.

It means you have to get uncomfortable. I mean right? Addressing these issues makes us have some icky feelings below the neck. Maybe our chest feels tight, maybe our breathing changes or we get clamy hands or all of those things happen at once. It’s uncomfortable, it’s hard, it makes us cry, it pisses us off but it’s so freaking necessary.

Not just for your growth and development as a human so you can be a better member of the community around you, but also for your own self worth and self love. It’s so you know when you go out to dinner and opt for the decadent mac n cheese instead of the salad that you won’t be beating yourself up about it later. It’s also knowing that you don’t need to finish the dish when you feel full. For me, it was giving myself rest days when I was actively trying to lose weight so my body could recover and embracing those rest days. Like going into true and full sloth mode and loving it because before I would berate myself for not working hard enough. I thought it would set me back and I would never lose the weight.

Healthy living really is about not just the choices you are making for yourself but also how you feel about those choices. Every choice. Down to your midnight snack choice. It’s knowing what serves you and what is a disservice to you and it’s being ok with those things. Because having a healthy lifestyle doesn’t mean you cut out all those things that you’ve loved before (like your lazy days), but it’s having the reassurance in yourself that those are not things you need to survive. That you can have some of all the things and be happy.

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Your World Totally Changed, Now What?

Before I became a Mom, I always tried to be that friend who was super understanding to the people around me with kids. I obviously knew on some level that kids took over every single aspect of your life, that more often than not their needs surpassed your own, and I tried really hard to be cognizant of that, but I felt like this whole idea of a “Mom Club” was stupid.

Why should there be any difference between them and me? Just because they had kids already and I didn’t have a family yet. I was obviously understanding to their needs as well as to what their kids needed. I knew my life would change when I had kids, I would talk about the need to be flexible all the time, the unknown of what my life would become all the time.

Holy shit girl was I totally off. Like beyond completely and totally just freaking wrong on every single level.

I didn’t understand my wrongness until I had Grace and all of a sudden it was like ya no wonder no one told me anything because there is literally NO way anyone could understand this level of change unless they went through it themselves. I think that’s why moms with screaming kids at Target give the silent nod of solidarity. Because we get it and we don’t truly have the words to describe it to anyone else.

And girl I would get SO frustrated in the beginning. I would want my day to go a certain way and then it wouldn’t happen for whatever reason, and it would drive me crazy. All that flexibility I talked about before that I knew I needed to have was non-existent. It always seemed to happen in relation to my workouts, that I would want to do a certain workout and for whatever reason, it would never happen. And the reasons my friend, were plentiful, most of which I don’t remember now.

I wish I could say that I found a solution overnight and everything was totally ok. That wasn’t the case for me. I spent a long time being frustrated, a lot of days not getting the workout in that I wanted, and a lot of days wondering when things would go back to “normal”.

So I embarked on this journey of trial and error. I needed to figure out what would work and I wanted to have a plan because that’s just in my nature. I tried to workout when Grace was awake (you can read previous blog posts to see how that went), I tried to go to gyms that had daycare, I tried to workout after Grace went to bed or when she was napping. The one thing I learned almost immediately was that every single day was going to be different.

After a ton of trial and error, I learned that my plans needed plans. Seriously though. Oh and I needed to HAVE a plan because trying to wing my workouts wasn’t working with the kind of sleep deprivation every new mom operates under.

Eventually I found that what worked for me was having a contingency plan. Like the plan of the workout I would ideally want to do and the time I would ideally like to do it, and then a back up plan. The Oh Shit plan as it were. This plan gave me alternate times for working out in case my original plan didn’t work, as well as alternate workouts. 

In all fairness, this takes some thought and duh obviously planning on my part which is something I usually do over the weekend when I’m looking at my week ahead. It takes me being intentional and realistic to my time constraints as well as being methodical for what workouts go on which days (as well as back up workouts) so I can continue to see gains from working out.

For me, this works most of the time. I’m still learning the art of being flexible and patient but I feel better knowing that I now have something to fall back on just in case.

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What? You Thought It Would Just Go Back to Normal?

I used to laugh, when I would read articles about things that contribute to someone not losing weight, like stress levels or lack of sleep as I was breastfeeding my baby at 1am or trying to get a fussy child to sleep in the middle of the night. Literally everything about becoming a parent is contraindicated to losing weight.

My delivery with Grace sucked. While it could’ve been tremendously worse, when I was sitting in an orthopedic surgeon’s office when Grace was 3 months old being told that delivery worsened a herniated disc I didn’t even know I had, and my pelvis was completely displaced, oh and there was nothing they could do for me because I was breastfeeding, it was a little hard to stay positive.

I remember feeling so discouraged that my body would be in this much pain for however long, I was so inflamed you couldn’t even tell I had already lost half of the baby weight, and I was exhausted. I would drive to places and not even remember how I had gotten there the fatigue was so extreme.

It wasn’t just the sleepless nights. Chronic pain is this amazingly awful thing that trickles into every single aspect of your life. Your body is working overtime to deal with nerves and stuff firing, to address the pain that’s putting you into a constant state of stress, top that with becoming a mama and not being able to rest (which was what I needed) and I was in a world of hurt. I also had massive digestive issues post partum that I never experienced before and were embarrassing to the point that my husband didn’t even know about it.

I have to say that even with all I went through with my foot, it was this time when I really felt like there was no light at the end of the tunnel. I thought this was my new normal and I was just going to have to figure out a way to survive.

I was at a loss. I didn’t understand why I looked flabby even though I was back to my pre-pregnancy weight and back to doing two-a-days most days of the week. I wanted to believe it was temporary but I just couldn’t wrap my head around the whole thing. I had no energy for anything because my body hurt so badly. I couldn’t stand too long without my back hurting, I couldn’t sit without my back hurting, I was waking up in the middle of the night in pain.

It’s no way to live. This is not a solid existence to me. I was seeking out help and answers too but everyone around me was at a total loss. I had one doctor tell me that my digestive issues were my new normal that there was nothing I could do even though I was adhering to a very rigid way of eating.

It was so discouraging that I can’t even find the words to describe it. I eventually found my way past it all, it took time and the flexibility to be willing to change things to see what changes helped and which ones didn’t, but I got to the other side. I can sit here today and tell you that when I was in the thick of it, I didn’t think I would ever get to the other side and now, I’m proud of the work I’ve done.

It’s pushed me to share because I know that becoming a mom will change aspects of your life that you never anticipated changing. Becoming a mom changes you in ways you never anticipated you would change and it changes every single relationship you’ve ever had or currently have. There’s no way to know what that change will look like until it actually happens and there is light at the end of the tunnel. Sometimes we just need to be reminded of that light.

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Becoming a Parent Terrified Me

Ok so maybe I didn’t have the best balance in my life immediately following my injury. And by maybe, I mean definitely for sure I DID NOT have the best balance in my life. If anything I think I potentially exacerbated chronic pain by not checking my ego. But the one thing of importance that I learned for me was the power of exercise. That lesson carried with me through to my new career in fitness.

Here I am thinking all is well and good, life is good, I am content finally with my life and we start trying to get pregnant and really my thought is again that God will take care of me. If I’m meant to be a mom then I will be, if that’s not God’s intention, then He will show me where I need to end up.

I was scared shitless when I found out I was pregnant. Don’t get me wrong, I was excited, but I was fucking terrified. Thank goodness I had people around me who didn’t question my ability to love and be a good parent, because I was for sure bringing all my self doubt to the surface on a regular basis.

To me, becoming a parent was this huge thing because of the tremendous amount of responsibility that goes along with being a parent. I mean you’re not just responsible for keeping said human alive, but you are also responsible for not creating an asshole that will then be sent into society as an adult, and hopefully as an adult who is a productive citizen.

All of those feelings aside, I wasn’t worried about the brass tacks of it all. I knew my husband and I would figure out the practicalities of life and schedules and work and all the things as we went along and as things changed. I wasn’t even worried about if I would deliver on time or not. I knew it was going to happen one way or another, so why stress about it?

It was just like when I was hurt. I knew in the end, when the bigger picture came to pass that I would be taken care of and so I didn’t stress. It was the logistics that caused me angst. Again like working out post partum.

When you’re in the fitness industry, there’s this associated stereotype for how you should look, what your nutrition should look like, what size you should be and the capabilities of your body. While I understand those stereotypes and why they exist, they often don’t take into account what happens with your body after you’ve had a child. You see women on social media rocking these amazing bodies post baby and that’s amazing, but that’s the 1%.

I wasn’t even stressed about losing the baby weight. I knew I would do it, I knew I would do it naturally and I knew it would take time. Really if it takes a full 9 months to put the weight on, it’s going to take even a little longer for the weight to come off because now you’re trying to drop weight and be a parent.

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It Lights Me Up

When I got to the point where I was cleared for exercise again after my injury, I went freaking balls to the wall. Working out at least two times a day, 5 to 6 days a week, pushing my body to the point of exhaustion. I definitely was making up for some lost time but I definitely was also pushing myself like crazy to lose the weight I gained while on bed rest.  

I was determined. Nothing was going to stand in my way from me getting back to where I was pre-injury. Maybe some of that drive was the subconscious need to show myself that I hadn’t lost who I was, my strength, that sort of thing, that I was still me at the end of the day, and my life hadn’t changed “that” much.

I did not let myself fall into any excuse. If I had an early morning class or work shift, working out meant waking up at 5am. If I was hungover, it didn’t matter, if I was sore, cramping, in a bad mood, really pick your favorite excuse and to me, it didn’t matter. I still showed up.

I had to show up. I was so bound and determined to move my body that I showed up and I showed up hard. I started lifting weights, I started doing CrossFit, I pushed myself to the very edge of a cliff of complete body breakdown.

I don’t recommend this at all. I had no respect for my body, the process of healing and recovery, of regaining strength properly, of rest days. None of it. I was a machine on a single lane course towards disaster.

My body bit back at me. A back injury, a shoulder injury, and a knee injury later, all within the first 7 years from my foot injury, and I couldn’t do it anymore. I had let my ego and this internal drive to show myself (not anyone else mind you, just me) that I could still perform like I did pre-injury, get the best of me.

I stopped doing CrossFit, even with a certification, I started focusing more on yoga, swimming, more into Pilates which were my primary modalities of fitness when I was first recovering, I started meditating and I started forcing myself to take rest days.

I also started working this very stressful job as a second responder and fitness became my primary avenue of self care. My outlet for stress from clients, from colleagues, from life. I would workout so I could tune out all the bullshit that was around me. The noise was too much sometimes and I didn’t know how else to handle it. So I would sweat it out. That hour became my only chance sometimes during the day where I knew I didn’t have to think about anything else. 

I started working out during my lunch break at work so I could escape my office, I started my certification for Pilates and I lost all desire to be in corporate America. I was burnt out in every single aspect and totally over it. I craved having the balance of having life, I was over being a mid-level manager, I felt like it was time to take my second chance and have a bigger impact.

Being able to move my body and see what I was capable of made me feel empowered and I wanted the women in my community to feel the same way. Even now, nothing fires me up more than having someone tell me “damn I didn’t think I could do that, but your encouragement showed me I could”. It makes me feel like I’ve won every award and every medal, it gives me the drive to keep learning, keep pushing and keep showing up.

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