How to Not Be an Absentee Friend When Life Gets Busy

When I was in my mid-20s, I recall reading a magazine article about women who had to schedule their catch-up meetings with friends. I thought to myself “Well maybe you don’t like your friends that much, madam.” Recently it hit me that I am now that friend, and so are my closest confidantes. We are the group that has to open Google Calendar and iCal to scroll through work meetings, appointments with clients and quality time with family and significant others to determine when we can sit down to break bread.

I now give a weak chuckle at my previous ignorance of how life can get busy enough to need to schedule time with friends. Knowing how busy life can get, I am insistent on not becoming the flake of the group. Nearly all of us have that associate or girlfriend that promises to meet up with you soon and never actually confirms a time, place or nail bar to catch up over mani-pedi time. Or, even worse, they agree to grab lunch or book a bike in spin and never show up, offering weak excuses only after being called out. Our time is precious and I have to value my friend’s resources as much as I want them to value mine.

So how do I stay connected?

In this season of launching my own company, here are the ways that work for me to stay accountable to my schedule and keep in touch with friends:

  1. Finding Balance at City Surf FitnessSchedule a sweat session – It is a tried and true rule for me that if I put a workout in my calendar and if I know someone is expecting to meet me there, I won’t miss the class. My sorority sister and I have been known to prep for the week by texting each other on Sunday evening to set up our HIIT class schedule for the week. We may only get 10 words in between stations but it’s a great way to see her smiling face as the sun rises and I’ve completed my workout for the day: two birds, one stone!
  2. Try a new restaurant together – As a plant-based eater, I can be particular about where I meet up for meals. If I know that the group plans include a BBQ joint, I’m likely to flake and miss out on the latest updates. However, for my more open-minded acquaintances, I am quick to suggest a new eatery for a mid-morning coffee or smoothie or a healthy Instagram-worthy lunch. I’d been dying to try Flower Child, a new restaurant that listed delicious sounding salads and wraps on their menu. When a friend called in a raincheck after missing my birthday dinner, I leapt at the chance to catch up over a meal I knew I would love, and I wasn’t disappointed.
  3. Get outdoors – My birthday gift, a Samsung Gear 2, is a blessing and a curse in the way that it tells me I need to get off my booty. Combine inactivity with (often) working alone from home and it’s a recipe for weight gain and losing social skills. I counteract that by extending an invitation to circumnavigate White Rock Lake or people-watch along Katy Trail. It is easy to knock out a couple of miles while plotting a strategic work move, dissect the previous night’s date or simply shooting the breeze.

I’d love to know ways you other busy ladies (and gents!) prioritize your time with friends alongside running the office, your company or figuring out your next side hustle or entrepreneurial enterprise. Let me know in the comments or hit me up on Twitter (@veleisap) or Insta (@veleisapburrell)!

Are You Sick of Yourself Yet?

After some weeks of waiting – shout out to the Dallas Public Library request system – I finally got my hands on Jen Sincero’s “You Are a Badass at Making Money.”  I’m reading it not only for elucidation on business but also because I have seen many people sing the praises of both the book and the author.

One way my consumption of books has changed in recent years is that I now read the introduction to the text. It’s a great way to find out what inspired the author, including additional works/reading recommendation. In discussing her change from an excuse-making, perpetually broke writer to an international bestseller, Sincero said she “suddenly couldn’t take listening to myself complain anymore.”

This brought to mind a question (and I paraphrase here) that hit home for me:

Are you sick of yourself yet?

If you’ve ever had an out-of-body experience in which you hear yourself complaining about the same topic you’ve harped on for weeks, months or even years, that question is for you. It is a question I’ve had to ask myself before, and it was truly an uncomfortable moment. I had a patient partner (now husband) and a supportive mother who would listen to me word-vomit at length about my “troubles.” However, I found that I was complaining to them about the same situations – not feeling valued, disrespectful managers – across multiple jobs.

Finally I began to realize, I was sick of myself. I was sick of acting as though I had no agency in my own life. I was sick of complaining about the small matters that had no impact on my output but my previous managers felt was life or death. Most importantly, I was sick of finding myself unhappy and not acting in my own best interests.

Once you determine that you are ready to change your behavior, ready to rid yourself of the excuses for inaction, there is very little that can stop you. Here are some recommendations for changing your mindset:

  1. Journal – whether you purchase a 99 cent spiral notebook or invest in a leather-bound notepad, the important part of this step is to capture the moments of achievement, outreach and frustration. When you go back and recall where you’ve won and lost, the journal will help you easily track how to improve.
  2. Communicate – I’ve previously talked about how much of a difference it made when I opened my mouth and asked for help/support from my network. When you have proven that you and your work are valuable, people want to help you grow. Tip: know before you reach out, whether in person or via email, what you ultimately would like from a person. If you are asking for an introduction, offer to provide them with the text for an email. If the goal is feedback on an idea, ask how much time your contact has to listen. Edit your presentation for their schedule and leave time for feedback. Show you respect someone’s resources – time and connections – and you’ll get far.
  3. Exercise – Entrepreneurs end up dropping the ball on some part of their life – wellness, relationships or sleep. As someone who slid off the wellness wagon, I encourage you to not let exercise be the victim of busyness. Exercise here refers not only to the bodily effort but also to training your curiosity. As mentioned earlier, I love the Dallas Public Library. Not only do I get access to physical books, but they also offer books on CD, e-books and audio books. Search for any topic you want to study and you can find a resource through your local library. Download the audio book and take a walk around your block twice a day. Travel in your car for work? Get the CDs and make use of the time commuting.

Moral of the story: You don’t have to stay sick of yourself. Make a change, large or small, today and let that be the beginning of your transformation to running your life instead of allowing others to steer your ship.

My Favorite Quotes + Books to Read in February

I recently wrote about my belief that “Your vibe attracts your tribe” and how those vibrations brought me two new opportunities this month. By the way, there is still time to register for Saturday’s event, Athleta Namaste After the 5K, where I’ll be leading a half hour of post-run yoga.

The great response I got to the post got me thinking about other useful quotes for life and business, so here are the phrases I keep in mind is trying and triumphant times.

Despite what the media likes to spout about Millennials wanting to lead before they can walk, I’ve found many young professionals do a great job of asking questions and sitting back to allow experts to share. I’ve worked against the socially ingrained need to fill the silence in networking and business settings by considering it an opportunity to learn from others. Most of the time, when I tap into the topic that makes the other person tick, they’re wound up and won’t stop for a while. It also helps me understand how my skills, connections or expertise can help them without directly asking them.

This phrase comes in handy when life gets nutty and you feel yourself being pulled into someone else’s vortex. One of the greatest things that yoga teacher training introduced me to was the “TED Drama Triangle” in which people cast themselves as the Victim, Persecutor or the Rescuer. The “not my monkey, not my circus” quote comes in handy when you find yourself wanting to be the Rescuer to someone’s Victim. Once we accept that we don’t have to be drawn into everyone’s issues, we walk away from draining situations and people and find our own happiness.

My last quote comes from one of my favorite #girlboss innovators Myleik Teele. I like this principle because it applies to both your personal and professional life. How many times have we stayed in relationships and jobs that didn’t benefit us, accepting less than what we should, because the unknown was scarier than what we are experiencing?

*raises hand*

Two things helped me change my path. One was Nicki Minaj and her famous “Pickle Juice” video (seriously, if you’ve never watched this, do it now).

The second was a dose of loving kindness from a friend saying “You already know what you’re going through, so what could be worse than inaction and remaining unhappy? Take the risk, try something new. If it doesn’t work out, at least you tried it and can learn. If you end up going back to a corporate career, at least you won’t be where you are.”

Basically, you gotta make a move because inaction will paralyze you.

Hopefully, the above quotes spoke to someone. Be sure to share the phrase that you’ve applied or will apply in your life.

Books to read in February

Emotional Intelligence 2.0 by Travis Bradberry and Jean Greaves

My mom has been telling me to read this book for over a year. She gave me the book during an especially trying time in my career when I was working on balancing my soft and hard skills. Basically, learning not to deliver my personality like a jerk. Levo is doing a series about Millennials and emotional intelligence that reminded me to pick up this book and get into it.

The 48 Laws of Power by Robert Greene

I’ve heard this book recommended over the years, and though I don’t agree with the level of manipulation it encourages in some places, I have to read the whole thing before I pass judgment.

Talk back to me: What useful quotes or books are on your radar this month?

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.)

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.

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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?

Attitude Equals Latitude When It Comes to Your Workout

I will readily admit to not being a touchy-feely yoga instructor. I come from a rational family, my husband is a pragmatist and I find it hard to believe in auras and the like. I practice because it makes me feel amazing, and I teach because I want others to have the same feeling.

With this in mind, it was hard to find my zen as I prepared to teach my first yoga class of 2016. We just finished a headache-inducing move, complete with mismanagement at both the old and new apartment communities, and weren’t feeling completely settled. I found out that one of my favorite people at my job was leaving for a new opportunity. Suffice it to say, with a disorganized house and impending goodbye at work, I wasn’t in the right frame of mind – or so I thought – to lead a class.

We all experience days like that – your workout is the last thing you want to do, as opposed to getting a glass of wine with a friend and ranting until the cows come home. Not every day will be ideal when we have partners, kids, jobs and sometimes just general low-grade Seasonal Affective Disorder to compete with for our time and energy.

In those moments of “might don’t make it,” we have to rally around the right attitude. When life becomes stressful, even a brief workout can improve your mood by releasing endorphins. For me, my attitude changed once I hit the front door of the studio, which is not surprising since a recent study showed that the smell of happy sweat can improve your mood. I allowed myself to take the challenges of what was happening personally and apply that as a lesson for my students. By the end of class, as I sat on my mat facing the supine bodies and hearing their slowly regulating breaths, it hit me that I had turned my attitude around completely. By focusing on what I could contribute to the practice of those in the room, I’d unknowingly calmed the anxiety inside me. For the first time as a teacher, I was moved to (almost) tears by the power of wellness, even more so when I saw the glow on their faces as they exited the room.

Flickr user Fizzr
Flickr user Fizzr

My reminders to you:

  • You’ll never regret a workout once it’s done.
  • Get up and get moving, even if it’s only a 10 minute walk. 
  • Make your workout social – meet with a friend for a HIIT class, yoga session or walk in the park.

How do you motivate yourself when you’re just not feeling the workout?

 

Why Being Truly Present Is The Best Gift

Right before the recent Thanksgiving holiday, I posted a status that resonated with people who were due to see relatives and family friends that they only connect with once a year.

The best gift you can give family and friends today: be present. Turn your phone off, join in storytelling, ask questions & LISTEN.

We often talk about “being present” in yoga as a way for students to slow down their thinking, connect to their practice and connect their breathing to their body’s movements. Even as a teacher, being present means I’m not thinking about what happened before I got there (traffic, deadlines at work, disagreements with family) or what I have to do later (cook dinner, write a blog post, return a phone call or email). In the moments, in the room, I’m fully committed to leading, demonstrating, making adjustments and connecting with the students.

One of the common ways we disconnect is by burying our faces in a smart phone or tablet. This is not a trait strictly reserved for my generation. Take a look up and down a city block during the morning commute, and you’re more likely to see the tops of people’s heads than you are their eyes, as we click, read and type on the go. I won’t make a judgment call either way on this behavior, since I am guilty of it myself. Where I want to make a call-out is in breaking these habits when surrounded by loved ones, especially those whom we only see for a long weekend one or two times a year.

I get it: listening to Aunt Cathy and her endless stories about the infallibility of her children and cousin Charles and his get-rich-quick schemes can get old really quick. We all need a mental break sometimes, and it’s easy to fall back on technology to provide entertainment. I want to challenge you to recognize that, though you may not be trying to, you’re signaling to those around you a level of indifference to their presence, which can be hurtful. Instead of taking a backseat to the nattering, try the following tips to be truly present during the holiday season.

  1. Barring any situation for which you have to be reachable, put your phone in another room, face-down.
  2. That one relative that annoys you to no end? Ask them to tell you a story about the family history that you haven’t heard. You’ll learn something new about your clan and you get to direct the conversation away from that pyramid scheme they’re always trying to get you to join.
  3. If you’re into wellness, try leading a small group in breathing and gentle stretching while everyone waits on the meal to be done (you know dinner won’t start on time anyway). Not only are you sharing something that’s important to you, it’s a great way to get the kinks and knots from flying out of your shoulders and hips. Here are some great breathing tips from Yoga Journal.
  4. Get away if you need to. Rather than demonstrate your boredom, take a break and get outdoors. This is especially helpful if your family is the passive-aggressive type that takes digs at each other. Remove yourself from the fray, take a treasured cousin or sibling with you if possible, and return ready to deal.

Finally, if your family is truly the worst and you’re able to do so, skip the headache all together. Stay local and organize a holiday meal with friends, or use those long-overlooked vacation days and see what destinations your favorite airline is promoting. While the holidays can be a time of renewal and joy, they are what you make them. If taking time to be alone, hiking and biking the Colorado countryside or walking along the Miami shoreline, makes sense for you, do it.

Flickr user Fizzr
Flickr user Fizzr (license)

What other ways do you show that you’re completely present in interactions with family and friends?

 

Shopping for Your Workout Without Going Broke

I got a fun package in the mail this week: new exercise tights. Colorful, stretchy, sweat-wicking workout gear. Me, being who I am, I immediately shared it to Instagram.

A photo posted by Leisa (@leisawithane) on

 

Several friends wanted to know about how to shop for their workouts. I’m now working out or teaching upwards of 4-5 times a week, and I’m learning about making a limited supply look good. Plus, according to the sales numbers, activewear represents nearly 16 percent of the total apparel market, which means we’re spending plenty on workout clothes. 

Here are some of the things that I’ve learned about shopping for a workout wardrobe that will keep motivated to move.

Buy on clearance. Who doesn’t love a good sale? Online retailers and brick and mortar shops alike have to clear out merchandise regularly, which means a great deal on clothing. Make friends with the team at your favorite store and sign up for email alerts to be in the know about upcoming sales and specials.

Shop at the end of the season. In addition to sales, shop seasons. Once the temperatures start to change, and when you have drastic temperature changes like we do in Texas, you need to move from sleeveless singlets to layers. Some of the deepest discounts I’ve come across have been during the summer and winter gear swap in merchandise.

Be open to non-name brand clothing. Some yogis, CrossFitters and Zumba-heads are label-conscious and only wear Nike, Adidas and Lululemon. But me, the way my checking and my savings is set up…I can’t afford to drop $75-$100 on tights and $20-30 on tanks and tees. Not only am I sweating pretty heavily every workout, I’m washing items at least weekly. While I am not spending $5 on throwaway t-shirts and cotton tights that go nubby in one wash, I do believe in a bit of frugality. I’ve found that J.C. Penney, Kohl’s and H&M (home of fast fashion) provide a cute and comfortable outfits, usually with wicking material that helps keep you dry while you’re lifting, dancing or stretching.

Choose your prints wisely to mix and match. While we all want to be cute in colorful patterns, a monochromatic color palette means no one knows how often you’ve worn a piece. Maybe your lucky color is black, blue, red or green. Use the solid color as a base and throw in patterns for variety.

Here are a few links around the ‘Net that will help you maintain your wardrobe:

How to avoid pilling in yoga pants: 6 athletic wear questions answered – via Today.com

Toxic chemicals lurking in your yoga pants – via PopSugar

When Going Vegan, Slow and Steady Wins the Race

I’ve written before about my struggle in going from vegetarian to vegan, and I recently got a reality check in the form of Brown Vegan, aka Monique. In an episode on going from vegetarian to vegan, Monique spoke with her fellow blogger, Naturalee Happee, about the transition. Naturalee shared that her journey from omnivore to vegetarian took three years, as she slowly eliminated meat from her diet (first red meat, then pork and finally chicken). Because she’d set herself up with a “slow and steady” mindset, the elimination of eggs, milk, honey and leather wasn’t a shock to her system. I really needed to hear that go slow mindset.

After struggling the last two weeks to avoid dairy, I realized I was putting far too much emphasis on immediately eliminating dairy and not enough time into preparing my meals to avoid that late-afternoon Starbucks run. Yesterday, when I had my food laid out, packed and planned, I managed to get through the day with a steady blood sugar level, avoiding the afternoon energy dip, and I was able to teach an hour-long Sculpt class without faltering.

Now, don’t go full hog on veganism, just because it’s what Beyonce woke y’all up at 8 a.m. to talk about. Instead, adopt the “slow and steady” approach to achieve long-term success.

  • Start by cutting out specific foods. I started off by doing away with chicken, since red meat and pork were never high on my list of must-eat foods. If you’re already vegetarian and moving toward vegan, that may mean cutting back on your favorite bakeries to avoid the eggs, milk and buttercream that give your beloved baked goods their textures and taste.
  • Proper planning prevents poor performance. I know the band geeks in life know that phrase well, and it’s because it’s true! Meal prep and planning means you are less likely find yourself alone and hungry next to the closest Popeye’s or [insert the name of your favorite fast-food place]. That means making time to find recipes, cook, organize and store staples like rice, quinoa and chopped veggies, and recognizing your eating schedule so you’re prepared with snacks and meals to keep your hunger beast at bay.
via Tracy Benjamin on Flickr
via Tracy Benjamin on Flickr
  • Explore the range of foods, but try to avoid becoming carb-itarian. If you’re like me, some foods you never knew you liked simply because you never tried them. Or you had them boiled to death as a kid, scarring you from trying the same food as an adult. Consider revisiting the least scary of the foods you may have written off as a youth, like Brussel sprouts or eggplant. Avoid loading up on carbs like pastas as a filler for more healthful foods. Pasta has its place in a balanced diet. It just isn’t an every day item.
  • Be forgiving of yourself. Maybe it was a stressful day, and you found comfort in a Snicker’s bar. Or you attended a family cookout and the smell of your aunt’s potato salad took hold of your senses. Resolve at the beginning of your vegetarian or vegan journey that you will not be perfect, and that’s okay. When you do go off track, don’t throw the towel in and return to your old ways. Start the next day like it’s the first and be even better at improving your diet.

Are you in the middle of a transition? If so, what’s helped you? Do you have a specific cookbook, author, recipe or resource that you want to share? Leave a comment!

*featured image via thegrocer*