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?

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

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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.

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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

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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”

Festival Review: 5K & Yoga at Wanderlust 108 in Houston

I mentioned earlier this year that one of my 2016 goals will be attending a yoga retreat, so when my mom said we should attend Wanderlust 108 in Houston, I was all over it. Wanderlust was on my radar but I thought they only went to the standard festival locations: Colorado, NY, beautiful islands with amazing views. Imagine my surprise and delight that they came to my hometown of Houston, Texas.

Wanderlust - me and mom

The experience was fantastic, and Wanderlust is now high up on the list of events I would attend again. Here a few of the fun-learned lessons from the event:

  • Plan to fail and have a sense of humor about it – My mom and I got all the way (30 minute drive) to event location and then realized we’d left our yoga mats at the apartment. At that point, all we could do was laugh at ourselves. Thankfully, Pravacana Mats was one of the vendors and we ended up with both a mat for the day and for the memories.
  • Accept what you can control and embrace what you can’t – Wanderlust billed the event as a “mindful triathlon,” starting with a 5K, followed by an hour and a half of yoga and ending with meditation. The forecast stated heavy rain all morning, but the event was going on rain or shine. Rather than drop out of the event, my mom and I went full force into the 5K. It started out cool and dry and halfway through the rain was coming in sideways. What can you do at that point but enjoy the natural cool down of the rain? Thankfully, it all cleared up for a lovely 90 minutes of yoga with Faith Hunter (a hilarious teacher who kept the energy high) and Brook Cheatem (who I need to go find, since she teaches in Dallas).
  • Recovery is as important as preparation – confession time: I am not a runner. In fact, I low-key dislike running long distances. Give me sprints and I’m a happy camper. So five kilometers of running had my hip flexors, glutes and thighs upset with me. The post-run rolling with TriggerPoint helped me focus on those trouble spots in a new way, and I plan to incorporate the lessons into my regular stretching routine.
  • Enjoy the moment – though I may be of the “look at me” generation, I have never understood the compulsive need to document every moment of my life on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Though it wasn’t very “yogi” of me, I wanted to smack the camera out of everyone’s hand during asana and tell them to focus not how cute they think they look but instead center in on the energy of 200+ people who want to enjoy the moment.
  • Say yes to new experiences – one of the sponsors, #ActuallySheCan, set up a trampoline and a photographer, which means of course I couldn’t say no. You can’t avoid new experiences for being afraid of how you’ll look to others!

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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

Does Your Keeping It Real Go Wrong?

When I recently had two people tell me that I was “blunt” and “told it straight,” I had to make sure that they meant it in a good way. As a terribly blunt person during my late teens and early 20s, I used to wield the “truth” like a bludgeon. It was a defense mechanism left over from middle and high school, when I relied on an oversized personality to help me stand out. As I grew older, I started to recognize that what I might see as keeping it real and hard-core honesty, others just see as an attitude problem. (But also, totally agree with Amandla Stenberg’s assertion that I’m not an “angry black woman” – sometimes you’re just annoying and you should know that.)

keep it real

With age comes wisdom (or so they say), causing me to reevaluate how I approached situations that needed a healthy dose of criticism with a side of sensitivity.

One of the best stances I’ve learned to take started as a pact between me and my sister. With the distance of the Atlantic Ocean between us, she became my ear when I needed to talk things through, be it work or personal. Wonderfully, she always understood that not all people need your opinion. Sometimes, just hush up and listen.

Novel concept, right? Let someone talk, get the words out…and you just nod. That terrible boyfriend your cousin keeps going back to? She knows, somewhere inside, that it’s a bad decision. You don’t have to be the truth-teller and drop the Flex bomb of knowledge; she gets it. Let her talk it through. Your coworker who insists on taking two-hour lunches and then mysteriously needs to leave early? Other people see it; no need to be the office bullhorn and prognosticate about what he or she does on their super-sized break.

And for goodness sake, do not take it upon yourself to comment on people’s weight gain or loss. Seriously, don’t.

The second way I learned to navigate away blunt and rude to pragmatic: ask yourself “will this comment add to the conversation/situation?” 

To me, the true measure of a good conversation is succinctness and lack of filler. If you have to resort to being mean-spirited to contribute to a discussion, you should take a deeper look at what motivates you.

If you embrace being straightforward to the point of being blunt, don’t pussyfoot around it. Beat around the bush and you run the risk of just appearing passive-aggressive. You think your opinions must be stated? Then be bold, speak loudly and say it with your chest (Thanks, Kevin Hart). Just don’t be surprised if you get swatted down.

Don’t get me wrong now. I encounter at least one-two situations per week in which my internal reaction is clapback, pure and simple. The impulse to jump quick is brief, and likely shows itself as a slight squinting of the eyes, or a tilt of the head similar to the confused RCA dog, as I try to make sense of what just happened. However, my self-control instinct and a desire to put out and/or receives the least amount of negative energy usually is enough to help me keep my lips sealed, pressed together in a semblance of a smile, as I give a noncommittal “Mm hmm.”

Are you considered a blunt person, and if so, has it impacted your personal or professional relationships? Are you a reformed “tell it like it is” kind of friend?