Congrats to the Leap of Faith 5K + Namaste After the 5K Winners!

Thank you to everyone who entered the contest for a ticket to the Leap of Faith 5K and the post-run Namaste After the 5K yoga session.

I’m happy to announce that Ginger Marie of The Ginger Marie Blog and Stephanie Suire will both be making an investment in themselves on February 25, 2017 at the Leap of Faith 5K! I can’t wait to run alongside both of you and then get in a deep stretch.

leap of faith 5K giveaway winners

If you didn’t win, don’t worry. Tickets for the 5K and yoga event, which will also feature a rousing speaker to inspire you, are still available. Sign up for Leap of Faith 5K today!

Getting Out of My Own Way + Leap of Faith 5K Giveaway

I had a personal realization in the last week. I am exactly that friend that will have you believing you can jump from the rooftop and fly into Never Never Land, but I fail so hard at applying these same “You can do it!” vibes to my own life. Over brunch, I’m leading the band in the parade celebrating my friends’ successes. Over a glass of wine later that night, I’m doubting my own abilities.

It sucks. I’m a Millennial. I’m smart. I’m driven. I’m a feminist! I should know better than this, right?

My "You know better" face.
My “You know better” face.

Wrong.

I get in my own head and in my own way regularly. And then it becomes a cycle, because I should know better, and I feel bad. I feel bad about feeling bad about feeling bad…you get it by now, right?

Time for a reality check.

I had to ask myself: When did I become so afraid of failure? We build structures around ourselves through the expectations we have for our own success. Willingly exiting these structures can cause anxiety because then how will we know whether we’re succeeding?

What does it look like to abandon our structure, to build a new one based on new understandings of what our work looks like? Or, even more frightening, to do away with structures altogether and figure out as we go?

These are the questions that I’m asking myself as I wrap up 2016 and plan for 2017. It’s uncomfortable (we talked about staying strong in discomfort earlier this year) and pushes me and I need it.

One area that I don’t have to ask questions is my fitness. Though cardio continues to fill me with dread, I will be running in the Leap of Faith 5K on Feb. 25, 2017.

leap-of-faith-5knat5 I met the team behind the Dallas event (Kory and Vanessa) through my yoga community, and they’re inspirational and dope people. Exactly the kind of people I need in my life as I ask myself the hard questions. Here is how they describe the spirit behind the Leap of Faith 5K (and the post-event, fantastically-named Namaste After the 5K):

“This event was created with your success in mind. This is your “call to action” to start your own business, to write your autobiography, or to put checkmarks by your incomplete bucket list to-dos. We push you to go forward on the run path with motivational quotes that require you to look down at the ground yet still keep your head held high with all confidence in fulfilling your dreams. After the run, you will get to hear a dynamic motivational speaker who will provide clarity on what it takes to overcome anything tied to retrogression followed by an amazing restorative yoga session. Let’s do this guys, your prime is now! The time is now!”

I don’t know about you, but I’m pumped. So pumped that I’m giving away two tickets to the event. Enter through Dec. 20 via the giveaway form below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Don’t want to wait to see if you’ve won? Register now for the Leap of Faith 5K. (Feb. 25, 2017 at the Ronald Kirk Bridge and Felix Lozada gateway in downtown.)

Staying Motivated + Keeping the “Winter Fluff” at Bay

Texas finally decided that fall was in session this past weekend, as temperatures dropped into the low 40s overnight and the wind started blowing leaves around the streets. The cool weather, combined daylight savings having it dark by 5:37 p.m. on the regular, means that no one is very motivated to visit the gym or attend outdoor fitness events.

I learned a harsh lesson recently when I tried to explain to a coworker that I felt uncomfortable lately due to a 5-7 pound weight gain. Apparently, I’m not allowed to feel discomfort about my current weight level since it’s short over overweight/obese.

(insert side eye)

Let me state for the record: Everyone has the freedom to feel how they do about their own body. While I will never advocate for self-loathing, I understand the occasional “Ugh” feeling that accompanies weight gain (or loss), bloating and any other kind of fluctuation. Combine that feeling with cold weather and throw in fewer daylight hours, and you have a recipe for what I call “winter fluff.”

Fluff is whatever you define it as; for me, it’s about 10 pounds that sit around my hips and midsection that are hard to move come spring. I swear, post-30, my body is holding on to weight like dog on a bone!

Self-motivation is going to be key for me (and you, if you have a mission to avoid the winter fluff), and I have some tips and tools about staying motivated when staying seated, wrapped in a blanket, seems like a good move.

Summer bodies are built in the winter

summer-bodies-are-built-in-the-winter

Whatever your definition of a “summer body,” and there is no one true definition, you work at it year-round. I can’t blame anyone but myself for my winter fluff, so I have to make the best decision every day when it comes to my food choices, workouts and stress levels.

Assemble your workout crew

I’m very fortunate that not only do I have my Dallas Fitness Ambassador group as motivation to attend community events and get inspired to be up and at the gym, I also have my sorority sister Ashley, who is always down for the cause!

Photo courtesy of Ashley Hatcher
The DFA ladies (Photo courtesy of Ashley Hatcher)
Sweaty smiles with Ashley!
Sweaty smiles with Ashley!

It can also help to have an accountability partner close to home. Incorporate your partner, roommate, neighbor or coworker in your workout and you’ll be less likely to skip your gym appointment.

Motivated by mom
Motivated by mom

K.I.S.S. (Keep it simple silly)

A good round of exercise doesn’t have to look like a Parkour video from YouTube. Help yourself keep it simple by using apps that put the workout together for you. My current fave is the Nike Training Club. I’m entering week three of the 8-week Gym Strong program which is supposed to “build full-body strength with a focus on weight training over 8 weeks.” All I have to do is make it to the gym, download the day’s regimen and get to work. You can add in your own workouts done outside the app and none of the workouts are longer than 45 minutes. Super simple, right?!

Connect with free/low-cost fitness events

Yes, it is much more fun to do rooftop yoga on your #SundayFunday but we have to deal with the realities of the colder temps. Take advantage of the studios in your city who are looking for folks like you who want to get in a good workout and may be looking for a new studio for 2017.

My favorite plug is Mai Lyn of Deep Fried Fit, who puts out a monthly list of free (or low-price) fitness events in Dallas. Keep your eyes open for her December list.

How do you stay vigilant against the winter fluff?

Making Memories + Camping at Best Day Ever Ranch

True confessions: I’ve never been camping. I’m from Houston, I am a true-blue city girl and I hate bugs. Camping has never been one of the activities I feel like I missed out on and I haven’t had the opportunity in my adulthood.

Thankfully, I roll with an adventurous group called Dallas Fitness Ambassadors, and when they let me know they were planning a glamping trip, I jumped right on it. If you’re unfamiliar with the concept of glamping, it’s glamour + camping. Think fireside wine glasses, luxurious rugs and all plaid everything.

In the true sense of Texas being a state of many landscapes, I didn’t have to go far to get the camping experience. I drove 45 minutes north of Dallas to Whitewright, turned off the freeway and a left and a right later, I’d made it to Best Day Ever Ranch. The Ranch includes event space in the form of a barn – perfect for the bride and groom who want a southern touch – and cabins for rent. Our less structured living space was down by Dream Lake.

View of our lakeside cabins (courtesy of Best Day Ever Ranch website)
View of our lakeside cabins (credit: The Best Day Ever Ranch website)

Though we were only there for a day and a half, I feel like we had all of the adventures. I’m so happy I went with semi-professional campers, who knew that we needed all of the food. Seriously, we had a spread that rivaled the craft services table at a Hollywood movie set, all courtesy of Sprouts Farmer’s Market. 

Our spread, perfect fuel for hiking and walking.
Our spread, perfect fuel for hiking and walking. (photo credit: Ashley of Fit Girl in Flight)

The first night, we indulged in fireside chili made by the lovely Chandler of The H is For and, of course, wine.

Tip for first time campers: It gets COLD, not chilly but actually cold, once the sun goes down. I was not adequately prepared for spending time outdoors after dusk. Bring your thermals, a hat, boots and extra blankets/comforters or an insulated sleeping bag.

The next day arrived bright and lovely, with steam coming off the lake. We did have some nighttime visitors, which brings me to my next tip: make sure you clean up your camp site well before turning in for the night. I was not brave enough to open our tent to see what kind of nocturnal creatures visited us. I’m fairly sure they were disappointed because we did not leave food or drink out for them to scavenge.

After the breakfast of champions – tacos and mimosas – we decided to go explore the Ranch grounds.

20161008_080155 img_20161008_083118

 

 

 

 

20161008_160430

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Out here getting browned while walking at @the_best_day_ever_ranch. We #glamp and we exercise out here.

A video posted by Leisa (@veleisapburrell) on


I like goats and other animals from afar, so I stayed outside the pen and watched the other ladies play petting zoo.

From there, we went to see the event barn, which was being set up for a later wedding, and the garden with a gazeebo that is the DIY dream of many a person. We sent good vibes to the couple getting married later that day and set back toward our camping grounds.

We ended our full day with sangria, fajitas and more wine and tucked in for the night.

 

Early the next morning, we packed up our various vehicles and bid goodbye to Best Day Ever Ranch. It’s good to know that if I ever need a quick getaway with the girls, I don’t have to go far to find paradise. Between the quiet nights under a star-filled sky and the lack of cell phone reception, which makes you slow down and have deeper conversations with those around you, I really enjoyed my first camping experience.

Thank you to The Best Day Ever Ranch and Sprouts for their sponsorship of our adventures.

All photos below are courtesy of Ashley of Fit Girl in Flight, who worked with the best artistic directors, Chandler and Stephanie Suire.dsc_7537-1

dsc_7493 dsc_7570

dsc_7468 dsc_7525 dsc_7505

Gearing Up for Spin: GRIT Fitness REVOLUTION Cycle Spotlight Party

I have a confession.

I don’t like cardio. Like, at all.

Running: no thanks. Elliptical: puts me to sleep. Stairmaster: torture.

Group fitness is probably the only time that I can get down with cardio. I told you all about the fun I had recently at Jam Box fitness.

One of the best places in DFW to have the group fitness experience is GRIT Fitness. I’ve gotten down to yoga, HIIT and other classes with the ladies of GRIT and it’s always a blast. Plus, the owner, Brittani Rettig, is a total #GirlBoss.

But one group fitness class has always given me angst: SPIN. Remember what I said about running, elliptical and Stairmaster? There is something about the same motion on a stationary machine that elicits dread. But when I heard GRIT Fitness owner Brittani Rettig and her rockstar team of cycling instructors are hosting the REVOLUTION Cycle Spotlight Party on Friday, September 30, I knew I had to be there. GRIT always has the best music and the most pumped-up instructors for the other classes, and I’d expect no less for their Cycle party.

Plus, how COOL is this cycle studio?!
Plus, how COOL is this cycle studio?!

Join me as I work through my “fear” of spin class and sweat out the work week with two free cycling classes, drinks, treats, raffles, a photobooth and a special gift for the first 100 guests.

WHAT: GRIT Fitness REVOLUTION Cycle Spotlight Party

WHEN: Friday, September 30, 5-8PM

Complimentary classes at 5:30 and 6:30PM; Studio tours, shopping and entertainment throughout the evening

WHERE: GRIT Fitness – Design District, 1729 Irving Blvd., #101, Dallas, TX 75207

SIGN UP: Guests can reserve their spot to ride at dallasgritfitness.com/schedule beginning Friday, September 16.

Check out the Facebook event page and share with a friend who will need the stress-busting fun of SPIN class this Friday.

Can’t wait to see you there! I’ll be at 6:30 class but catch me milling around before then. 

Shaking My Groove Thing With Jam Box Fitness and Baileys

If you’ve ever been to a public event with me, you will know that I can and will dance/shimmy/slide with no shame. Impromptu movement is fun for me. Some folks challenge each other to #StopDropandYoga and I just want to do the Electric Slide in the grocery store.

Me in Vegas for my 25th birthday, fist pumping for my life.
Me in Vegas for my 25th birthday, fist pumping for my life.
Wedding action shot of me sliding across the dance floor.
Wedding action shot of me sliding across the dance floor.
I even took on challengers at the wedding!
I even took on challengers at the wedding!

For all the fun I have dancing, choreographed dance has eluded me. Given more than three movements in a row and I turn into Ms. Two Left Feet. I didn’t let the handicap stop me from coming out for the Dallas Fitness Ambassadors fun event at Jam Box Addison. The event, billed as a jam session, had attendees enjoying lovely Baileys cocktails beforehand and then we were going to get funky on the dance floor.

You had me at drinks. Baileys got us started right with a refreshing mix of Baileys Almande, a gluten-free, nondairy (but not vegan) liquer mixed with Vita Coco.

I’ve been putting Vita Coco in my smoothies lately in place of sugary orange juice and plain water and it was great to have it in a mixed drink as well. One (okay, fine, two) rounds of drinks and I was ready to bust a move!

I had not heard of Jam Box Fitness prior to attending, so I had no idea what to expect. The teacher and studio owner, Dominique Lasha’e, told us we’d start with Pound class and then move onto choreographed movements, aka my nemesis.

Dominique, getting us ready to go.
Dominique, getting us ready to go. Photo courtesy of Dallas Fitness Ambassadors

Pound class sounded relatively easy: hold drumsticks and clap them and tap the ground in beat. Verdict: ouch, my obliques. While I blissed out to the amazing Rihanna-driven soundtrack and followed along with the moves, my core was working harder than I knew. You stay in a squat and bend laterally, which fires up all the big, supportive muscles groups along the middle of your body. LOVE the deceptiveness of the fitness aspect.

13995415_1170006543070575_6698401422458606953_o
Get into that core work. And yes, I’m wearing Chuck Taylors because I forgot my tennis shoes and nothing was going to stop me from working out. Photo courtesy of Dallas Fitness Ambassadors
13995558_1170006506403912_3416804103502406195_o
You can literally see my thoughts: “And 1, 2, 3…4” Photo courtesy of Dallas Fitness Ambassadors

Next up: Funk the Fit dance cardio. I took a deep breath, rolled my shoulders back and faced the class with all I had…and I killed it.

Photo courtesy of Dallas Fitness Ambassadors
14047358_1170009196403643_395323091440274509_o
Photo courtesy of Dallas Fitness Ambassadors

We grooved our way through class and I felt like Ciara, Janet Jackson and just a touch of Queen Bey, rolled into one sweaty dancing fool. I’d gotten some crappy news earlier in the day and the class took my mood completely in the other direction.

After class, Pollo Tropical came through with the great-smelling fare. I was initially concerned that I wasn’t going to be able to eat after burning all those calories. Thankfully, their beans are vegetarian so I loaded up on salad, beans and rice with some spicy salsa to go alongside. Perfection. And right before I put myself in a food-induced coma, I got a five minute rubdown from Riviera Spa and discovered just how tight my neck and shoulders are. In all, a great Friday night made better by being surrounded by my fitness friends, dancing, drinks and food and a good mini-massage.

Shouts out to Dallas Fitness Ambassadors, Jam Box Fitness and Dominique Lasha’e, Baileys and Vita Coco, Pollo Tropical and Riviera Spa. 

 

 

14047148_1170009726403590_4407345303336697469_o
Dancing QUEENS! Photo courtesy of Dallas Fitness Ambassadors

Where Do I Start With Yoga?

Inspired by Amanda Miller Littlejohn’s recent appearance on the Wharton School of Business “Women@Work” podcast, I started to rethink how I present my expertise on yoga. Littlejohn stated that we shouldn’t be thinking so much about what we’re good at and what we know as much as what our customers are asking. (Seriously, check her out, she’s dope.)

The most frequent reaction I get when I state that I teach yoga is “I could never do yoga. I can’t even touch my toes.” This statement is often combined with an assertion that they don’t know where to start. In that vein, today’s post is going to provide a starting point to those who consider yoga and think “Where do I even start?”

Start Inside Your Head

I’ve written about how I think social media skews our idea of what yoga looks like. Your practice, especially as a beginner, will not consist of floating into handstands in hidden alcoves on sandy shores. You will be sweaty, kind of clumsy and possibly forget your right and your left. Make peace with the idea of looking silly to yourself and others. Nine times out of 10, no one is paying attention to you and the bead of sweat that landed in your eye that you’re furiously blinking away. Most people, including me, go to class to work on themselves, not to judge what’s happening on other people’s mats.

Flickr user Fizzr
Flickr user Fizzr

Find Stillness

Let’s back it up for a second, away from the idea of sweating and getting physical. Yoga is more than the postures you do in class, combining movements and breath. There is much to learn in suspending motion and focusing on one action. Find a comfortable position (Mountain, Child’s Pose, Savasana, Easy Pose), allow your eyes to close gently and start the work of blocking all outside distractions. Put your phone on mute, turn off Netflix and bring your attention inward, to your breath entering and exiting your body. I am a fan of resting a hand on my chest and another on my belly, as the sensation of my rising and falling chest gives me something to focus in on. The great thing: you don’t have to do this for long. Start with 120 seconds, two minutes, of removing the external distractions. Increase gradually, and forgive yourself easily if you lose focus. None of us are perfect at meditation – except maybe the monks who have bad reception in the mountains.

Close Up Tree at DMA

Have Fun

I understand that yoga can be intimidating. I teach it, I take classes, and I still can feel inadequate from time to time. I feel like I should be better, stronger, bendier. We’re human and we are all learning how to be kinder to ourselves. One thing I will never stop doing with yoga is having fun. Simply put, my body is amazing, capable of more than I ever thought I could do, and much of the respect I have for it came from being in a yoga studio. I firmly believe that yoga (all physical activity, really) helps you form a bond with your person, your essence and the energy you put out into the world. So every once in a while, whether in Happy Baby or balancing in Warrior 3, pull up the corners of your mouth.

As I like to say to my students: Smile, it’s just yoga!

Smiling Upward Dog

What advice would you give to a new student? Sound off in the comments, teachers and students alike.

Staying Strong in Your (Dis)Comfort Zone

Have you ever found yourself in a situation so new, unusual or outside of your comfort zone that you immediately wanted to retreat?

The feeling that you just associated with the above situation – chest tightening, hand sweating, fight or flight – has been on my mind recently. In the past few months, I have found myself in a position, time and time again, where I’ve been challenged with a new task or emotion that makes me want to turn tail or make an excuse for not trying.

I went to my best advisor, my mom, and told her about my fear of the unknown. Most of my slight distress comes from not wanting to be told “no” about something I really want. I think we’ve all been there. Whether it’s a new responsibility at work, requesting 15 minutes of a potential mentor’s time or even telling your partner what you really want, it can be daunting to put yourself out there, only to hear “no.”

She gave me the sage advice of learning to “stand in my discomfort.” That’s right: stand in it. Not run through it, like you’d do over hot coals. Stay on top of it, make friends with it. Explore it and ask questions. Make friends with your discomfort.

I told her I’d consider it and hung up. Maybe she had lost her mojo or was pulling my leg. Who actually wants to stay uncomfortable? Isn’t that why specialty stores sold so many $50 pillows? We love comfort, pay top money for it, seek out specialists to build ergonomic playpens for the purpose of achieving a zen-like state. So why should I befriend discomfort and ask it to sit down for a cuppa?

Then I thought about what would happen if I ran away. I’d never know what was not only on the other side of the coal bed. Nor would I learn something new about myself on the way there, walking leisurely and embracing all the lessons. I’d forever be on the other side, safe and S.A.F.E. (a bit NSFW but look up what that acronym means and you’ll get it).

Inspired by this way of thinking, I have since adopted 2016 as my year of “Shoot the shot.” This was a brief trending topic on social media around New Year’s, in which folks decided they didn’t want to end 2015 without telling someone they liked them (or some other hidden revelation). For some it worked and they were able to make a love connection. Others got curved. But at least they knew where they stood.

Since I’m married now, my shot shooting is professional only. In my year of “Shoot the shot,” I’ve expressed more openly my professional goals to my boss and sought out mentors and peers for help in what I am trying to achieve. I have made requests of brands, even though I immediately tried to talk myself out of it. I had to tell myself “Worst thing they can say is ‘No, thank you.’ And then you’re right back where you started, but at least you asked.”

I will say, most of my shots right now are from the free throw line. They’re not super challenging or greatly out of my range. They only send a slight tremor down my spine. As the year progresses, I’ll be taking steps back to get to the three-point line. That’s stretch goals, bigger asks and greater challenges of myself if the answer is “Yes.”

Before the year is over, I want to do a half-court, all-or-nothing kind of shot.

Because, yes, I hate feeling awkward and vulnerable just as much as the next person. I don’t want to feel my heart in my chest as I watch the three dots bubble, awaiting a reply, or check my email nearly obsessively.

But the feeling you get when you hear or read “Yes” sure beats standing on the other side of the coals, doesn’t it? Get comfy in that discomfort zone. You may be there for a while.

How are you shooting your shot this year? What’s your free throw, three-point and half-court ask?

(photo courtesy of Mark Moss, flickr)

Doing It With GRIT: Interview with Brittani Rettig of GRIT Fitness

If there is one thing the internet (ha, no longer have to capitalize that) is never short on, it is profiles of folks who have created their own fitness tribe. You know the folks, the ones who have instantaneous online following, the perfectly curated Instagram photos and never look like they break a sweat to “do it all.”

If you’re like me, reading these stories may leave you wondering how they get it done and if the fitness “guru” is truly genuine? One person I’ve never questioned in the authenticity of dedication to their awesome is Brittani Rettig of GRIT Fitness.

Brit for DFW Style DailyNEW GRIT logo

 

I found out about GRIT Fitness when Brit opened her East Dallas location about five minutes from where I used to live. (Full disclosure: I had my first audition to teach fitness with Brit and she was so kind in her evaluation. Suffice it to say, I was all nerves and it was a mess.) I kept up with her through social media and attended her community classes at Luke’s Locker. Seeing Brit’s growth has been amazing, as she’s added fans, fanatics, members and grown her team of energetic instructors.

Now, just barely a year after the East Dallas location launch, Brit has announced an expansion to the Dallas Design District with a second location! The new location is 5,000 square feet and will offer original music-driven classes like Body Sculpt™, Dance Club Cardio™, Hip Hop, powerbelle™, Flexin’ Flow™ and more. In addition to GRIT’s seven original class offerings, GRIT Fitness will now offer GRIT Revolution, an indoor beat and metrics-based cycling class where the instructor rides with the class rather than leads it on a pedestal.

Last week, Brit and I talked about her new location, what it takes to make it in fitness and her updated approach to entrepreneurship in an inspiring conversation. Check out the highlights.

Continue reading “Doing It With GRIT: Interview with Brittani Rettig of GRIT Fitness”

Confession Time: Social Media Fitness Stars Do Nothing For Me

Recently, while reading Greatist’s list of the 100 most influential people in health and fitness, I realized that I recognized next to none of the men and women who were known primarily for their social media presence.

Influencers 2015 Banner

As much as people look to social media for fitspo photos, my ignorance doesn’t surprise me.  I’ve never looked to individuals, wanting to emulate them, not even from my formative pre-teen and teenage years. While some girls wanted to be Britney Spears or Beyoncé, I simply enjoyed their music and stage performances. You won’t find me riding for the Rihanna Navy or shouting from the rooftops for any other legion of superfans. The only people I stan for are family and some exceptional friends, and, of course, my husband.

Looking to what other people are doing also translates to personal relationships, romantic and platonic. The #squadgoals and #relationshipgoals movement mostly amuses me me. I see the excitement, the posts and comments, and I think “When we spend so much time looking to others for how we want to conduct our lives, how do we determine accurately what works for us?”

Going back to fitness: if I’m so busy being obsessed about this woman’s abs or another personality’s arms, am I starting from a healthy point? While inspiration can help kickstart the process, it’s also important to accurately assess what is viable based on the time and effort we’re willing to put in. If you’re working 70+ hours a week at work, you might not be able to take that romantic Italian vacation with your super-hot, 6’3” boyfriend like you saw some social media celebrity do. Similarly, if you’re on a first-name basis with the 7-11 clerk due to your need to get Blue Bell at 12:30 a.m. on Saturday after the club, you’re not on track to get six-pack abs. This is not to say it’s unachievable. It’s just improbable based on the level of dedication that these things take.

SRWV8BAHE6
The only thing that’s going to help you hit those fitness goals.

The moment I gave up on absurdist goals like six-pack abs or a butt you could bounce a quarter off of, I gained clarity about what I could actually achieve. I could definitely feel stronger. I could definitely lift heavier, week by week. I could definitely see the progress in a yoga posture, in the number of burpees I can do, in the way I feel about sprinting on the track. Achievements happen outside of the social media bubble. They happen when you put social media down and actually get up and out, challenging your best efforts. So sure, scroll through those top 100 fitness personalities. But when you put down your phone or tablet, be sure you’re picking up the kettle bell!

Are you affected or inspired by fitness personalities on social media? What extra element do they bring to your exercise program?