Fake It ‘Till You Make It

If you’re like me, you’ve always rolled your eyes at those people who seem to constantly be happy and positive about everything. I mean, that must be fake. There are just too many shitty things in life to be happy all the time. Those people must be putting on a show while they are secretly crying in their bedroom every night. Or, their lives just happen to be so perfect – supportive husband, job they love, enough money to do what they want, beautiful and fit – that they couldn’t possibly not be happy. They have it all! I would be happy if I had it all too!

Happiness

I’ve often seen this sketch floating around, and while I agreed with the concept, I couldn’t figure out how to make it a reality for myself. How in the world do you just create happiness out of nothing?! I was always waiting on some external factor to make me happy. Moving somewhere new, changing jobs, getting a boyfriend. Sure, these are all great things and can contribute to my happiness, but at the end of the day, if I didn’t change a few fundamental things regarding my mindset, I was never truly going to be happy. Meaning, if those things were stripped away from me and all I had left to face was myself, would I be ok or would I fall to pieces?

Here are a few things that I’ve started doing that have helped me immensely:

  1. I realize that not everything is about me. That the frequently quoted and often criticized break up line “it’s not you, is me,” is actually 100% true. If someone has decided they don’t want to be with me, doesn’t want to be friends with me, doesn’t want to hire me, or whatever the case may be, that’s on them. I can not control the way that people react to my actions. I shouldn’t wonder if there’s something about me I should change. If I truly feel like I’m being the best version of myself and someone reacts adversely to that, then most likely they are dealing with their own issues and I’m better off staying out of it. This makes it much easier to forgive people and much harder to hold on to resentment. Which in turn makes it easier to sleep at night.
  2. I try to find the positive in every situation. I’m currently reading a book that says whenever something happens to you, you should say, “It’s good that this happened because…” When you do this, there’s no way you can lose. Nothing bad can happen to you because you can always spin it around and make the best of it. Things that may have ruined my day in the past now make me appreciate what I have. It also makes me complain less, and therefore a much more enjoyable person to be around.
  3. I appreciate the good people in my life. I tend to take for granted the people that are always there for me and pay special attention to the people that do not treat me the way that I want to be treated. I’m now making a conscious effort to shift my focus. By being specific in stating why I appreciate the people in my life, it not only makes me more grateful and want to tell them how much they mean to me (which as a bonus makes them feel good as well), but it’s helped me attract even more amazing people into my life than ever before.
  4. I tell myself how awesome I am. Positive affirmations seem so cheesy at first, but they are so so necessary. Especially in this day and age, where we are constantly told by mainstream media that we aren’t good enough. And where the opportunity to compare ourselves to others is there 24/7, thanks to social media. Sometimes we forget how amazing we are. For example, when I started doing CrossFit, I thought I was pretty awesome. My gymnastics background made it easy for me to do things like pull-ups and handstands, I had the mental capacity and competitive drive to push myself into the pain cave on almost every workout and while I recognized that I needed to get stronger with the barbell, I was willing to put in the work and I saw significant gains in my first two years of joining a CrossFit gym. Rather than comparing myself to other girls, I looked up to the strong ones and hoped to be as strong as them some day. Then, somewhere along the way I lost that. I stopped making gains as quickly and started comparing my lifts to others, and the excuses starting rolling in. “I’m too small to be competitive at CrossFit, I started strength training too late, I work too much and don’t have enough energy to train as hard as I’d like to.” What really happened was I forgot how awesome I was. That it doesn’t matter what other people are lifting. That I am strong and amazing and work my ass off and I’m proud of it. I’m finally rediscovering that, and I’ve already seen improvements in my strengths and my mental capacity, as well as in the other areas of my life. Positive affirmations for the win!
  5. I realize that the universe is not against me. I am not a religious person, but I do think that people who strongly believe in a higher power often seem to be “blessed,” and I think it’s because they believe there is someone out there, something greater than them, who is always on their side. While I’m not sure about a higher power, I do think that the universe is on my side. No one is out to get me. If I choose to do things that make me happy and love myself along the way, the universe will support that and send good vibes my way.

Did any of these things come naturally to me? Nope. Sometimes they still feel weird. When I first started doing them, I definitely felt like a fraud. Like one of those happy-go-lucky people that I used to despise. But now I’m starting to think that maybe they are on to something. Maybe being so happy and positive all the time is what has attracted awesome things to them, rather than the other way around. Maybe they really did create their own happiness. Maybe, like me, they adopted a “fake it till you make it” approach, and it manifested into something real.

How do I know it’s working? Well for one, I smile and laugh more often, just because. Secondly, the other day something happened to me that would have upset me to my core. Something that in the past would have had me in tears, then turned to anger and finally resentment. But this time around, there were no tears. There may have been some initial anger, in fact my body started shaking involuntarily at first, almost like I had been so programmed to respond in a certain way that my body took over. But for the first time in my life, I was able to look at the situation with a clear head and not let it affect my state of mind. And by refusing to let it bother me, by refusing to get involved, I found peace.

This is still a work in progress but I know I’m on the right track. So cheers to finding your inner happiness! And to the awesome things that it will bring into your life.

xo,

Julia

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THE OPEN IS COMING!

WE ARE 7 MILE

“THE OPEN IS COMING!”

How many times in the past month have you seen or heard those 4 words around the gym or on social media. Almost to the point where they have lost their value. Or, if you’ve just joined the gym and have never participated in the Open before, those 4 words never meant anything at all.

Ok, the Open is coming…so what?

In a sense, “so what” is absolutely right. For the 99% of us that are not moving on to Regionals, the Open workouts are exactly as they sound, just another workout. So what’s all the fuss about?

We’ll get to that. But before I get into why I think you should care about the Open, let’s take a little trip down memory lane…

This will be my 5th Open coming up, and I’ll admit, up until a few weeks ago, I had lost a bit of my enthusiasm for the whole thing. Before my first “official” Open in 2014, I was super pumped. I had been doing CrossFit at an affiliate (after attempting to do it on my own at a “globo gym”) for less than a year, and I wanted to give the workouts my best shot and see if I could hold my own against others in the gym. For the first Open workout that year, 14.1, I wasn’t even at my home gym in New York. I was in Houston for a wedding, and I found a gym near my house that would let me drop in and complete 14.1 with the class. I remember arriving to the gym, and most of the members in the class not even knowing what the Open was or being that into it. I was excited about it, and I wanted them to be as well! When I got back to New York, I was happy to complete the rest of the Open workouts at my home gym where the spirit of the Open was alive and well. After 5 weeks of grueling workouts, and seeing myself rank 9,243rd in the world, I was super motivated to hop on the gains train and get ready for the following year. And each consecutive year that the Open rolled around, and I saw myself improving. Ah, what I wouldn’t give to go back to my first 2 years of CrossFit where PRs were a weekly occurrence!

Then, 2017 came along…

I moved to Cayman in July 2016, and with a bit more time to train and recover than I had in New York, I thought, this will be the year of gains! In January, I told my coach that I wanted to focus on getting stronger, even if that meant sacrificing some conditioning and not being in top shape come the Open. Of course, the Open rolls around in February and I immediately regret my decision. If you’ve participated in the Open before, you know that while there is some basic strength required, the workouts are primarily testing your engine and work capacity. And boy I was not ready for that. Being the competitive person that I am, I let this get to my head and took the workouts way to seriously. In fact, I didn’t even do the last workout because I was afraid I was going to burst into tears mid-double under!

Why was I so upset?! Everyone kept saying to me, it’s just a workout. Who cares! But I let my ego get in my way and kept thinking about what other people would think of me. As a coach, you sometimes feel like you’re expected to be a top athlete, and I didn’t want to let anyone down. I also had people back in New York asking me how I did on workouts, and I let that pressure get to me instead of just focusing on myself and what I could do given my current circumstances. I was afraid that while in previous years my performance in the Open had always been on an upward trend, this was going to be the first year where I had actually regressed.

Long story short, I had lost sight of why I fell in love with CrossFit and the Open in the first place. It’s not about how well you do in the workouts. It’s about SO MANY OTHER THINGS.

It’s about the entire world coming together and doing the exact same workouts for 5 weeks. My 63 year old mother participates in the Open, and it’s so cool that we can talk to each about our experiences.

It’s about camaraderie in the gym. How many times a year does the entire gym get together and cheer each other on? If you’ve ever been to a Friday Night Lights at 7 Mile, you’ll understand. If you haven’t, watch this video and tell me that doesn’t get you pumped up.

It’s about accomplishing things you didn’t think were possible. Each year in the Open, we see people achieve personal bests, whether it’s a new 1 rep max on their clean and jerk, or doing their first bar muscle up.

It’s about pushing yourself past your limits. You come to the gym a few times a week and complete the workout of the day. Sometimes you feel like pushing yourself, and sometimes you are just going through the motions. During the Open workouts, the energy is contagious. Yes, it’s going to hurt, but that euphoric feeling your get once it’s over makes the pain totally worth it.

It’s about connecting with others. We’re all in this together. yes, the workouts are going to suck, but everyone is going through the same experience, and that brings you that much closer to each other.

It’s about showcasing your new skills. Maybe you weren’t able to do a toes to bar or a pull-up last year, but you’ve been putting in extra work and this year you’re able to string a few together in the Open workout.

It’s about inspiring people without even realizing it. This might be your fifth year doing the Open and like me, maybe your enthusiasm has started to fade. But maybe you’ve made a new friend that has joined the gym in the past year, and watching you workout is what inspires them to make it into the gym every day. You never know who is looking up to you.

The bottom line is, the Open is supposed to be fun. It’s a time for everyone in the gym to come together and support each other and for some, to see how far they’ve come over the past year.

As a coach, I couldn’t be more excited to watch you guys leave it all out there on the gym floor. And I can’t wait to be a sweaty mess right there next to you as you do it.

Yes, the Open is coming. And so are we. Because WE ARE 7 MILE!

xo,

Coach Julia

OMG, you went to Duke?!

as·sump·tion
əˈsəm(p)SH(ə)n/
noun
 1. a thing that is accepted as true or as certain to happen, without proof.
 4340_586295182604_3125516_n

We are all guilty of making assumptions. Maybe guilty is the wrong word. Assumptions can often be helpful – as in, “I assume I’ll need an umbrella, as it looks like it’s going to rain.” It’s when we make unwarranted assumptions about other people that we get into sketchy territory. I’ve now worked in the fitness industry for 4 years, which is long enough to notice the assumptions that are often made about fitness professionals. I thought a blog post would help clear things up. I realize I may sound a little defensive when addressing some of these points. But who isn’t when they’re speaking about their passion? Plus, they say writing is one of the best forms of therapy, right?

Here are 10 assumptions that are often made about fitness professionals, and my (somewhat sassy) retorts to each. Please note that all of these points stem from personal experience. I am not going to assume that all fitness professionals feel the same, but I’m hoping there are many out there who can relate.

  1. You only eat “healthy” foods and judge others who don’t. False! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been out to eat with someone and they’ve said ‘don’t judge me’ when ordering something “bad” or assume that I only eat salads. Ummm why do you think I started exercising in the first place? Because I love to eat! True, I try not to go overboard all the time, but I can scarf down an entire pizza or a pint of icecream with the best of them, and I’m not ashamed.
  2. You workout all day, every day. Negative! I take two complete rest days per week. And if I’m feeling lethargic or beat up, I’ll take more. And while my job may be active in the sense that I’m not sitting all day, I certainly wouldn’t consider walking around and giving cues to be a workout.
  3. You only want to talk about fitness. Ha! That’s like assuming your gynecologist only wants to talk about vaginas. Sure, I love geeking out about fitness – it is my passion after all – but I’m not that one-dimensional. I read books. I watch movies. I care about the environment. I love animals. I hate small talk. The list goes on…
  4. Working out is easy for you. Sure, for me, finding the motivation to work out might not be as difficult for me as it is for others. It makes me feel good. I enjoy it (for the most part). But that doesn’t mean that the workouts themselves are easy. First of all, have you ever seen my face or heard the noises I make?! Those aren’t just for show. Second, if your workout is easy, then it’s probably not doing much for you. You must challenge your body in order to see results, both physically and performance-related.
  5. You were always athletic and fit. I wish! Yes, I played sports as a kid, and in CrossFit, I was able to learn new movements fairly quickly thanks to my gymnastics background. But I most definitely have not always been fit. I remember my parents trying to get me to go running with them when I was in middle school and I HATED it. I got a gym membership in high school, but I can’t say I enjoyed working out. I just did it because I didn’t want to be fat. When I came home after my first year of college, I had fallen victim to the “Freshmen Fifteen.” I was always envious of the “skinny” girls who never seemed to gain or lose weight no matter how much they ate or how little they exercised. Me, always fit? I don’t think so.
  6. You only hang out with other fitness peeps. True, I may have lots of friends in the fitness industry, but that’s in large part due to our schedules. When you have free time in the middle of the day, you tend to find others who do as well, and a lot of those people happen to work in fitness. But that doesn’t mean that just because you’re not a coach or a trainer that I don’t want to hang out with you! I have plenty of friends who don’t work in fitness, and I find it both refreshing and important for perspective to maintain these friendships.
  7. You get paid to workout. This one always makes me laugh. I guess people think that being a coach also qualifies you as a professional athlete? Find me the job that pays you to workout and I’m in!
  8. You don’t struggle with body image. I think this assumption might have to do with my choice of workout attire. Yes, I often take my shirt off while working out. Yes, I rock booty shorts on a daily basis. But it’s certainly not because I think I have a perfect body. It’s actually because I get hot as balls when I’m working out. I cannot tell you how many times women have said to me, “I wish I had the same confidence as you to wear those shorts.” Well, I’m here to tell you that I’m not special! The first time I wore a pair of “booty shorts,” I was self-conscious for the first five minutes, and then I totally forgot I had them on. It also helps that the gyms I workout in typically don’t have mirrors, so I don’t sit there and scrutinize myself while I’m working out, because, let’s be honest, you are your worst critic. Do I struggle with body image? All the time. Do I obsess over it and let it control my life? Absolutely not!
  9. You’re not book smart. Ok, I’m not saying I’m a genius or anything, but one thing I’ve noticed since I started working in the fitness industry, is that people are genuinely SHOCKED when I tell them that I went to Duke. I’m not sure if it’s because I come off as not so bright, or because of the assumption that people with Duke educations should be working 90 hour weeks at investment banks. I just find it odd that when I had a corporate job and frequently behaved like a drunken fool (not saying that the two go hand in hand), my place of higher education was never questioned, but once I switched to a less conventional job, it’s suddenly surprising. Sure, I could probably have gone to a less expensive school (yes, I’m still paying on my student loan and will be for another 2 years), or maybe not even gone to college at all, and have pursued a coaching career. But I also believe that everything happens for a reason. If I hadn’t gone to Duke, I may not have moved to New York for my first job in investor relations, which led me to a job in digital marketing, which led me to the Fhitting Room, which led me to the Cayman Islands. But I’ll give people the benefit of the doubt, and assume that they don’t mean for their comments to be offensive. That it’s just unexpected for someone with a Duke education to have such an “easy” job. Which brings me to my final assumption…
  10. Being a(n) [instructor, trainer, coach] isn’t a career. As someone said to me the other day, do you really want to be coaching classes when you’re in your 50s? Well, maybe I do! You don’t have to be the best athlete, or the epitome of youth, to be a good coach. You have to be knowledgeable, get along with people, and a good communicator. Those sound similar to the qualifications for other careers, don’t they? I know plenty of amazing coaches who are older, or have children, and are still making a perfectly good living. Plus, there are several other paths that I can see myself going from here. Maybe I’ll become a head coach. Maybe I’ll start my own online coaching business. Maybe I’ll open my own gym. Unforeseen doors open when you follow your passion. Who knows where my career will take me!

I Swear I’m Not a Bitch.

introverted-extrovert

Have you ever judged someone before getting to know them? I have. And you know you have too, whether you’d like to admit it or not. But have you ever been on the receiving end? Have you ever been judged before even being given a chance? Maybe you have, and you don’t even know it…

I was always a shy kid. Like, would hide from family members when they came over, wouldn’t say a word to people I didn’t know kind of shy. I hated raising my hand in class, and if the teacher called on me, even if it was a question I knew I could easily answer, I could feel my face burning red as they eyes of all of my classmates were on me. I was mortified to speak in front of the class. I always had this feeling that I would say something wrong, or my awkwardness would show, and even if kids weren’t laughing out loud at me, I was convinced they were secretly judging me for something. Did I have any logical reason to think this? Nope. I’m not sure how to explain it, but I’m sure any shy person can understand. I would say this lasted all the way through college (and hence probably why I used to drink myself into oblivion during any and all social situations).

If you know me, you may be reading this and thinking, “what are you talking about? You’re not shy! You never shut up! What about when you’re singing and dancing around the gym? You seem so comfortable in your own skin!”

Well, like I said, you can’t judge a book by it’s cover…

If you’ve seen that extroverted side of me, it could mean that I’m comfortable around you. I’ve never had a problem being loud and goofy around my close friends. However, put me in a larger group, and I pull back into my shell and go into observation mode. You may have noticed that I’m not the girl with a packed social calendar that is always surrounded by tons of friends. Instead, I tend to keep a few close friends that are more important to me than they’ll probably ever know.

If you’ve taken class with me (with the exception of my first few months of teaching), you’ve also seen my extroverted side. That’s because a. What kind of instructor or coach would I be if I never talked to anyone and b. I’ve been teaching for long enough now that I feel comfortable being myself in front of a class, whether I know the people or not. But trust me, I would say my first year or teaching I was forcing myself with all my might to come out of my shell on a daily basis!

I have grown out of my shyness to some extent. I no longer hide from people (well, most of the time), and I realize that to function in this world, you have be able to interact with people. I also realized that most people don’t give a crap about what you’re doing, at least not to the extent that you think. They are involved in their own lives and are not secretly sitting there thinking about what a dork you are.

However, despite growing up a bit, I would still consider myself an introvert. I don’t like starting conversations with strangers (although I don’t mind if they are the ones who start the convo), I really, really hate small talk (hence why I’ve never been great at “networking”) and super outgoing people tend to overwhelm me. After putting all of my social energy into 3 classes or personal training session in a row, I need a couple of hours to myself to regroup and just be alone for a while.

Some might ask, ok if you hate people, why are you in this line of work? But that’s not it at all – I don’t hate people! I actually really like people. I think people are interesting. And part of what I like about my job is that it forces me outside of my comfort zone. It challenges me and has taught me so much about myself, namely that my desire to help people is stronger than my desire to draw into myself and hide behind a computer screen, which I often feel like doing.

Why am I writing this? I guess to tell you not to judge a book by its cover. I would hate to think that someone pinned me for a bitch without speaking to me, just because I’m quiet around people I don’t know. And I’ve used this insight about myself to keep an open mind when it comes to other people. Let’s be honest, there are people out there who are straight up mean, but I’ve found that if you give someone the benefit of the doubt, more often than not they will surprise you.

Is the Grass Really Greener?

Handstand.jpg

Almost seven months ago, I made the decision to move from the crowded, concrete jungle of Manhattan to the tiny, tropical island of Grand Cayman. Is this where I envisioned myself living at the age of 30? Not at all. I mean, who gets to just drop everything and go live somewhere beautiful by the ocean? You could say lucky people. Or you could say people who are granted an opportunity and seize before it disappears.

You only live once, right?

The friends from New York that I’ve spoken to since moving here seem to be divided into two groups. There are those who envy my move. Who tell me they long to leave the city for a simpler life full of warmth and sunshine but can’t bring themselves to do it, whether because of family, friends, jobs, fear – everyone has their reasons. Then there are those who ask me when I’m moving back. Or how long my pretend life is going to last. Those are either the people who can’t imagine a life, at least not permanently, outside of New York City, where you can literally have anything you want delivered to you within seconds. Or the people who can’t imagine life outside of the US, where endless opportunities await (although in light of recent events, there might be less of those people now).

I understand both perspectives. I was that person who was scared to leave New York. I had a great job, great friends, and wasn’t sure what I would do with myself if I suddenly had enough time to sleep 8 hours a night and maybe even have some down time every once in a while. More than that, I was scared of missing out. If I didn’t live in New York, I wouldn’t be given the same media opportunities or receive free Nike or Reebok shoes. But were those things really adding value to my life? Were they enough to make me happy in a city where I had started to feel so alone despite being surrounded by so many people?

When I took a step back and examined the things that were keeping me in New York versus the things I stood to gain by moving to Grand Cayman, I knew I had to make the move.

This post is by no means meant to be a bash on New York. I love they city and I loved living there. I miss my friends, my clients, the convenience, the energy, the randomness, the endless food options, the sense of community. There are days where I see cool things happening at my old job and wonder if I made the right decision. I think, aw man, I wish I was a part of that. But then I think about what I have here, the new friends I’ve made and community that I’ve found, and remember that the grass is always greener.

I can’t say for sure how long I will stay here. Just like when I moved to New York, I would not have been able to tell you that I would end up living there for seven years.

We have no way of predicting where life is going to take us, and if we set a rigid path and don’t allow ourselves to tread off of it, I think that we can end up pretty unhappy.

I’m 30 years old, and I don’t intend to wake up when I’m 40 and wonder about the opportunities that I let pass me by. I have my ups and downs, just like anyone, but I’m happy. And I feel like I’m making a different in people’s lives. And for now, that’s enough for me. If those two things change, then I’ll know it’s time to reassess.

So, you may be wondering, how is life different in Cayman than in New York (aside from the obvious change in climate)? To name a few…

Life is simpler. When you move somewhere new where you don’t know anyone and have no history, life immediately gets way less complicated. It’s kind of like having a clean slate, or starting over, both physically and mentally. For starters, I moved here with two suitcases. That’s it. So I have way less clutter, and I’m making it a point not to accumulate tons of random crap again. It also helps that when it comes to shopping, we are basically cut off from the rest of the world. Not that I was ever a big shopper, but I can’t walk down the street and wander into Nike or Lululemon and spend money on yet another sports bra, and I can’t have things shipped to me without paying exorbitant amounts of duty. And that’s ok! I’m learning that there’s more to life than having the latest pair of training shoes…who knew?! On the mental side, I feel like I have a clear head here. Maybe it’s from leaving the chaos of NYC, maybe it’s something about being near the ocean, but I feel like things that would have really upset me before just don’t bother me the same way here. That’s not to say that I’m happy all the time – I definitely still have my moments – but I’m able to move past them easier, whether that’s finding a solution to the problem or just realizing it’s not a big deal and moving forward.

I read more books. This kind of goes along with the clear head things. When I was living in New York, I rarely read. I might go through stages, but I was so tired all the time that reading usually put me to sleep, or I just wasn’t able to focus on whatever it was I was reading. My mind was all over the place. I have read 15 books since moving to Cayman last July. That count would probably be even more had I not stopped to watch a few shows on Netflix like Stranger Things and the OA). I mostly read fiction, but who cares, I’m reading more, which is something I always loved to do, and that makes me really, really happy.

I have to drive places. For the first time since college, I own a car. I actually love driving. It was one of the things that I really missed while living in NYC. Traffic sucks, yes, but at least I can sing at the top of my lungs in the privacy of my own car – something that you can’t do on the NYC subway without getting some death glares. We do drive on the left side of the road, which takes some getting used to, but I actually adapted much quicker than I thought I would. It helps that I sit on the right hand side of the car when driving.

I’m not sleep deprived. This is a HUGE one for me, and probably the change that has impacted me the most. I was ALWAYS tired in New York. I know there are people who say that they can survive on 5 hours of sleep per night, but I am not one of them. My mood sufferes, my workouts suffer, my immune system hates it. And honestly, I think the people who say they are ok with just a few hours of sleep per night are so used to be sleep deprived that they don’t remember what it feels like to not be tired, that’s just their state of being, and they’ve come to accept that as normal. I digress. At our gym, we have AM and PM coaches. Being a PM coach, I coach in the evenings and book personal training sessions starting around noon, so the mornings are mine to do as I please. I typically go to bed around 10pm and wake up around 6am (in New York my wake-up call was usually 430am and I was lucky if I got to bed before 10).

I’m no longer Vitamin D deficient. This one doesn’t really need any explanation. And I don’t think I was Vitamin D deficient before, but a little sun definitely does a body good. I also don’t get sick as often, and if I do, I’m able to get well a lot faster because I’m not cooped up in my apartment while it’s 20 degrees outside. I try to make it a point to get out the beach at least 2x per week, even if it’s just for an hour, because what’s the point of living on a beautiful island if you don’t take advantage of it, right?

I cook more. This is definitely something that I could have made more of an effort to do in New York, but the endless food options available basically 24/7 made me super reluctant to cook my own food. Here, I don’t have much of a choice. There are some pretty good restaurant options, but they don’t always have idea hours and they aren’t all the healthiest of choices. I will say that groceries are just as expensive here as in NYC (no Trader Joe’s here), but just like anywhere, if you shop smart you can figure out how to not break the bank on food.

I’ve learned how to be patient (well, kind of…). Coming from a place where everyone is always in a rush, and everyone is go, go, go all the time, an island with the mindset “what’s the rush?” can be a frustrating place to live. Checking out the at grocery store, cashing a check at the bank, going to the DMV, driving through town, waiting for your check at restaurant, to name a few, are all things that have the potential to cause a panic attack on a daily basis. However, I’m learning to accept it. Everyone always says that New Yorkers are angry and rude, and I always thought that was an untrue stereotype. However, after being away for 3 months and returning, I found some truth to that statement. Not that people were necessarily angry and rude, but people do tend to have a sense of self-importance and “get out of my way” attitude that you just don’t find here. People here take their time doing things. Which can be frustrating when you need something done IMMEDIATELY, until you sit back and realize that nothing is actually as urgent as we make it out to be (assuming we aren’t talking about a medical emergency). Things will get done when they get done, and I’m learning to accept that. I still catch myself in that old mentality sometimes – I need this and I need this NOW! – but I’m usually able to catch myself and calm down, whereas before, I would have let it ruin my whole day and whined about it to anyone that would listen.

I guess those are the major differences. I am the same person, despite living in a different country. I l still love to coach, training is still a huge part of my life, and I still love ice-cream (thank goodness they have Ben & Jerry’s here). I just have a much better tan now.

Exercising vs. Training – What the Heck is the Difference and Why Should I Care?

I actually started writing this article last year, and for whatever reason never ended up posting it. Well I just rediscovered it, and thought it was pretty relevant, given the recent Nike campaign, so here it is.

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@niketraining: Make 2017 all about Training. Set up a new plan just for you in Nike+ Training Club app. Link in our bio. #StopExercising #StartTraining #nike

When you workout, are you training, or are you exercising? Do you know the difference?

 

ex·er·cise

ˈeksərˌsīz/

noun
activity requiring physical effort, carried out especially to sustain or improve health and fitness.

train·ing

ˈtrāniNG/

noun

the action of undertaking a course of exercise and diet in preparation for a sporting event.

The question becomes, at what point does our workout transition from exercise to training? And more importantly, why does it matter?

Let’s consider the life of a professional athlete. Not only are they in the gym each day, often multiple times per day, working towards their goals, they live a lifestyle that is conducive to training. Their nutrition is on point, they get plenty of sleep, alcohol intake is limited or non-existent. They live to train.

I realize that lifestyle is pretty extreme for the average person who has a full time job, relationship, children and maybe a social life. But, if there is something you are training for – whether that be a marathon, triathlon, CrossFit competition or a weightlifting meet – you are more likely to take your workouts more seriously, and alter other parts of your life to help you achieve your goal.

Now, what if you don’t have something you’re training for? What if you’re not a very competitive person, you always hated sports, and you really just want to work out because it makes you feel good and you know it’s good for your health. That’s fine! That is when small, personal goals become important. Being able to do a pull-up, swing a 24kg kettlebell, row 500m in under 2 minutes, squat below parallel, snatch your bodyweight. All of these things give you physical, attainable goals to focus on, rather than just mindlessly exercising. If you take classes, they give you a reason to try harder in class. If you workout alone, they give you a reason to push yourself a little bit more. Why is trying harder and pushing yourself important? Because it’s what makes the hour you spend exercising effective. You’re not wasting your time simply going through the motions without challenging yourself. To see change, we must push ourselves. And to help us push ourselves, it helps to set goals. Now we’ve shifted from exercising to training.

Let me give you an example. When I have someone that has been coming to class for a year, is still swinging the 10kg kettlebell, hasn’t seen any improvement in their times on the rower, and still can’t do one full range of motion push-up, then I know that person is there to exercise, not to train. They don’t care if they haven’t gotten stronger or faster or more mobile, the fact that they are showing up is enough for them. And for some people, that is enough. But the truth is, it’s the same people who don’t push themselves that wonder why they haven’t seen any changes in their body and that see working out as a chore rather than something they look forward to doing.

Some of you might be thinking, ok, but what if my goal is just to fit into my pants and look better naked? I get that. Deep down, I think we all want to good naked, whether we want to admit it or not. The question becomes, is that enough to motivate you? And even more importantly, will you ever be satisfied? I know that even when I ate super “clean”, exercised multiple times a day and was at my leanest and lightest, I still wasn’t satisfied with my body. I could always find something to pinch or something that jiggled. At some point, I realized that just wanting to look lean was never going to give me the same satisfaction as being a good athlete would. Sometimes, I like to ask myself, what do I want people to remember about me? The fact that I had a 6-pack and “toned” arms, or the fact that I was strong? I think about the example that I would like to set for others, especially young women who grow up thinking that everything should revolve around how you look rather than what you can do. I like to think about the physical aspect as a result or a bonus, not as the motivation or even the end goal.

But I digress. My point is yes, it may seem like semantics, but a simple word can in fact change your entire mindset and approach to fitness. You may not be training for the Olympics, but if you consider yourself an athlete in training and set specific goals on what you’d like to achieve, you’ll see the benefits trickle into other parts of your life. You’ll start to want to fuel your body properly, drink less, get more sleep, because you’ll realize how all of these things can make or break you reaching your goal.

So next time you walk into the gym, or into a class, ask yourself, am I here to exercise today or am I here to train? Pick up a heavier weight. Push yourself harder on the rower. Run faster. Do more burpees. You may find yourself sprawled on the floor afterward, gasping for air, every muscle in your body feeling assaulted, but I guarantee you’ll feel far more satisfied than if you had just “exercised.”

A New Adventure: Q&A

There are times in your life when you know you need a change and an opportunity presents itself that just feels right. For me, this is one of those times. When I graduated from college 7 years ago, I couldn’t wait to get to New York fast enough. And although I struggled to pay rent and couldn’t afford to feed myself some months during my first year here, I loved being here. A couple years later, when I finally got to a place where I was financially stable, I liked it even more. The only thing I didn’t love was my job. I wanted to work in fitness, although I wasn’t sure in what capacity, and I was scared to go back to making nothing and to being able to afford food. Nevertheless, I started seeking out opportunities. After interviewing for manager and social media positions at a few different studios, I found a listing on Craig’s List for an “Assistant Instructor” at the Fhitting Room, and by some miracle, I was hired. Finally, I had a job that I loved and that challenged me. And even better, I found a wonderful mentor to help me learn and an incredible family that inspired me to pursue my passion.

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FHIT Fam

I was then introduced to the warm community of CrossFit Metropolis. I fell in love with community aspect of CrossFit, and discovered that I really loved coaching people to become better athletes. That in turn led me to CrossFit Solace (Solace New York), where I was fortunate enough to be a part of the original coaching staff when they opened their doors, and it’s been full speed ahead in fitness every since.

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Metropolis Fam

In my 3 years at Fhitting Room, I’ve developed significantly as an instructor and programmer, expanding my role to include overseeing all programming at the studio. In the job department, I’m pretty happy. Doing what I love but still eager to learn and grow. Never bored. Never comfortable. However, New York is starting to wear on me. As huge of a city as it is, it can be an extremely lonely one. As somewhat of an introvert, I don’t always mind that. My job requires a ton of social interaction and that can be very draining. I treasure the moments where I can be completely alone. And being a part of great communities definitely helps appease some of that loneliness. But there is  something missing. I’m not sure if it’s the depressingly long and cold winters, the fact that people here have a lot of trouble slowing down, or just a feeling of being claustrophobic in a concrete jungle – probably a combination of all three – but I know that it’s time for me to say goodbye. The beauty of being a coach is that you can take your skill set anywhere, and there’s no reason to stay in a city that is no longer making me happy. I know there are so many things that I take for granted living here that I am going to miss once I move away – Seamless, 24 hour bodegas, taxi cabs, being anonymous, pizza, bagels, frequent trips to lululemon – to name a few. Who knows, I may come running back. But if I don’t go, I will always wonder what would have happened.

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Solace Fam

One of the things I’ve learned over the past few years that makes this move easier is that when you are removed from your immediate family, the people that you work with and train with every day become your family. While I love my New York family and will miss them more than words can describe, I am excited for the new family that I am about to join. It’s time for a new adventure!

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7 Mile Fam

While I am extremely flattered that everyone is so interested in my life, I am starting to feel like a robot answering the same questions over and over again. So I put together a little Q&A that hopefully covers all the most frequently asked questions.

What are you going to be doing in Grand Cayman?

I’m going to be coaching at CrossFit 7 Mile. I will be a full time coach as well as programming for their CrossFit Lite classes. Their business model is a little different than most gyms – when a new member joins the gym, they are required to do 15 personal training sessions with a coach before jumping into CrossFit classes. This ensures they have a good grasp on the foundational movements and also alleviates some of the stress of the coaches, allowing them to run a smoother class. As you can imagine, member retention is much higher under this model as the coach who did the 15 initial training sessions becomes that person’s “coach for life.” So I’ll be doing a mix of coaching classes and personal training. You can read more about this model here.

When is your last day at the Fhitting Room? 

My last day at Fhitting Room will be this Sunday, July 3rd. I am teaching 9 classes over the holiday weekend, so I hope to see everyone at some point – no excuses (don’t worry, the Hamptons aren’t going anywhere). Sign up.

When do you leave NYC?

I’m leaving the city on July 9th to go home to Houston for a few days, and I’ll be heading to Grand Cayman on July 14th.

 

That’s so soon! How did this happen? 

Two months ago, on a chilly April day, I was venting to a friend about how ready I was to call it quits on NYC, and she told me about a coaching opportunity in Grand Cayman. It sounded a little crazy to me – I mean, leave the country? That was a bit extreme, but I figured I would at least find out what it was all about and go from there. After a phone call and a couple of email exchanges, I was on my way down there to check out the gym, coach a few classes and figure out if I thought island life would be for me. Not surprisingly, I fell in love with the place.

What’s the gym like?

Hot! It will definitely be an adjustment getting used to working out with no air conditioning. The heat there is on a whole different level – in fact it reminds me of Houston weather – only with a beautiful beach to make up for it. The community at the gym is amazing. I immediately felt like I connected with so many of the members and coaches there.

 

How long will you be there? 

TBD. At least a year and if I love it, who knows what the future holds.

Are you moving alone? Do you know anyone there?

Yes, I’m moving alone. The only people I know are those I met while I was down there, but I feel like they are already my friends! And I’m excited to meet new people.

Do you know where you’ll be living?

Still figuring out that part…

 

How do your parents feel about you moving?

My parents were surprisingly calm about the whole thing. They are kind of used to me doing my own thing and making my own decisions at this point. Ultimately, they want me to be happy and I know my mom would rather come visit me at the beach than in the city any day.

Won’t you get bored there and miss the city?

I’m pretty sure I’ll be doing the same things that I do here – eat, sleep, train and go to work. In my free time, rather than sitting in a dark apartment or going to a park with thousands of other people, I can chill on the beach.

Will you make sure to wear sunscreen?

Duh!

Can I come visit you?

It depends who’s asking. Just kidding, of course!

How long is the flight from NYC? From Houston?

4 hours from NYC. 3 hours from Houston. Direct flights!