Movement in Self-Care

I recently guest wrote for a new blog startup called Old Soul Wednesdays. The creator contacted me after a takeover I did on the Girls’ Night In Instagram about incorporating exercise in my self-care routine. Here’s my response to their open-ended prompt about movement in self-care. 

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There are so many staples that come to mind with the term, “self-care.”
Rose water, bath bombs, a glass of your most Instagrammable red. The recent self-care movement has reignited our love of showing love to ourselves, emotionally, spiritually, mentally. But one aspect of self-care that gets overlooked more often than not is the physical side- exercise.
When you dissect the current self-care space, the landscape is almost oversaturated with self-indulgence. And I don’t use the term with the kind of negative connotation it typically carries, but self-indulgence in terms of, “hell yeah, this is for me.” When we look at skin-care must-tries, candles we’re addicted to, athleisure we can barely afford but buy anyway, there’s almost a kind of self-love validation that comes with it.
Yet, these things are short-term fixes. Temporary manifestations of the appreciation we have for ourselves. And while they’re great and absolutely necessary (I love a “Treat Yoself” splurge as much as the next lady), they hold no power in achieving goals, changing our mentality, or challenging ourselves.
The recent shift to the effortless pampering type of self-care has made routines almost exclusively built around the cosmetology, spirituality, and “wine”-ology industries. If it can’t be done from under a furry blanket, with a mug in hand, or while plant-momming, we can’t help but question if it’s really self-care. This kind of exclusivity makes physically active time for yourself appear less worthy of the self-care space.
Exercise tends to have a bad rep. Challenging, sweaty, and full of expectations that feel unattainable. It requires full force, full steam, and full power for full reward. It goes against most of what social media and pop culture tell us about pressing pause and showing self-love. It requires no incense or bath shelves (pause for gasps). It’s about you, what you can do, and how it makes your body feel.
Spoiler alert: it can all be pretty great stuff.
Regular exercise has its scientific benefits. Bla bla bla. I’m not a doctor, consult WebMD if you want to know more. But something I am familiar with is how exercise plays a role in the way I take time for myself. A good workout has always been a priority for me; I was the high schooler skipping Friday night hangouts for a HIIT class and am now the college student late to lecture post-lift session.
But it wasn’t until I started learning more about the self-care revolution through my time interning with Girls’ Night In that I started to see the sacrifices I make for exercise as part of doing something for myself.
I think my love for exercise has always felt selfish. It was time I was stealing from other people and things I loved and the only person who benefited from it was me. I was stronger, happier, and achieving goals I’d always dreamed of, like becoming a spin instructor, but the way exercise imposed on plans with friends, getting work done, and more attached a feeling of guilt. I never saw it as something I needed for my overall wellness. It was just a routine, a hobby, the most enjoyable chore.
Recently I’ve set a couple of self-care goals for myself.
One, start a skin-care routine (no progress yet, here).
Two, say no to plans when you don’t have the bandwidth or the desire to make them (CHECK).
Three, treat mental health like physical health (still working on it).
Four, treat physical health as part of self-care and let it be a guilt-free way to love myself.
Allowing movement to be a part of your self-care routine opens doors to long-term changes. You have the ability to enjoy everything your body can offer you if you let it. And, by pairing physical force with positivity and optimism, you can inspire strength in yourself you never even knew existed.
Personally, I bring a yoga “let’s set an intention for our practice today” mindset to every type of movement I do. I find it helps me feel purposeful and powerful and gives me something to work towards. An easy way to do this is to replace single-focused goals, like losing weight, with more holistic ones. For example, turn “I want to run to get my bikini body,” into “I want to run to clear my mind and take on this challenge.”
It also helps us focus less on destination and more on each individual push. Every step matters, every stride takes you further, every drop of sweat makes the journey easier. Remind yourself that not every trip to the gym will be your best, but getting there is half the battle and if you showed up you’ve already won that.
When you bring a positive mentality to exercise, it contributes to a greater sense of caring for yourself and your body. It’s not just about what your body can do, it’s about what your body and mind can do together.
For me, the pros far outweigh the minutes of panting that follow a hard workout. Besides the endorphin rush, you may find yourself achieving beyond your goals. But all successes take time and hustle. And while other self-care routines are more about pampering and treating, fitness will have more self-doubt and challenge on its path.
It won’t be easy, but by seeing exercise as a self-care staple, we can make our moments of movement a little more sacred and a little more self-indulgent.
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“This is part of a series called In First Person, in which digital natives respond to an open-ended writing prompt.”
Find the original blog post here.

Stuck in my head: White Rabbit // Jefferson Airplane
Snap it: Fishtown, Philadelphia (before work… because I kept forgetting to take pictures to accompany the piece… this workout outfit has never seen the gym…)

Special thanks to Larissa from Old Soul for the feature. It was a dream and a half to work together. 

10 Tips to Stay On Top Of Your Fitness Goals

New Year’s Eve has long since come and gone, but those little things called resolutions are technically still hanging around. If you were inspired to up your fitness level this winter, the original motivation of your goal might be starting to waver. It’s cold outside. It’s hard to get in shape. It’s not easy to change old habits. 

Here are my top 10 tips for staying active, even when everything inside you screams “give it up already!”

1. Put each workout on your calendar
Make yourself a plan and stick to it. It’ll be hard in the beginning, but by making trips to the gym part of your day, like a work meeting or class, it becomes more routine. And inevitably, less painful. You should see my Google Calendar- I’ve got it down to the leg day.

2. Carry healthy power snacks with you
It’s easy to make an excuse for skipping the gym. My number one: I didn’t have the power to workout because I was too hungry. By carrying foods that fuel a workout, like almonds and protein bars, you’ll always have the pick-me-up you need.

3. Don’t be afraid to try new workouts
Treadmills get stale quick, as do 7 spin classes or 7 lifts or 7 Zumbas a week. Don’t be afraid to mix it up. It’ll challenge your body more and give you the ability to find what really gets you excited to be active. You never know what you might love until you lace up your sneakers and go.

4. Have an idea of what your workout is… before you get to the gym
You’ll waste less time and be able to accomplish more in a shorter period of time. If you’re unsure of your workout, you might default to less effective, more generic moves, rather than things that could really challenge and change you. Or even worse, resort to walking around trying to figure out what to do. Which leads me to my next suggestion…

5. Keep a log of workouts on your phone
Instagram, Pinterest, and Youtube are amazing resources to help plan workouts. There are more things out there than pushups and situps and ellipticals. Explore different circuits that hit muscles you didn’t think of before. Honestly, it can be even easier than Insta- a simple Google search can yield millions of options. My personal favorites are this ab killer and this youtube video that’s going to turn me into Gigi Hadid.

6. Ease your way into fitness & take your recovery days
No one said you have to be John Cena on day one. Give your body time to build up strength and work towards higher weights, rather than grabbing them from the start. Along with that, make sure to give your body time to heal post workout. This means stretching and rolling your muscles but also taking a day or two off a week to relax and heal.

7. Not every workout has to be the best
Sometimes half the battle is getting to the gym. Give yourself a break if you’re lifting lighter or sprinting slower some days. Fitness is a cumulative process. Somedays will be stronger than others. And when you are having an off day, take it a little easier. If you push too hard now, you’ll keep suffering later.

8. Find a workout buddy
What really changed my workout game was finding a partner to lift with (Hi, Sam). While we don’t hype and push each other like some fitness friends, we work towards our goals together and make our time at the gym enjoyable. Don’t get me wrong, we work hard as hell between the hours of 7 to 9am, but if Sam’s in the gym, you know I have to be there, too. Sometimes, it’s all about accountability, baby.

9. Ask when you don’t know
Part one: instead of skipping weird moves or leaving hard classes, ask for modifications to exercises to match them to your fitness level. And part two: I’ve found the fitness community to be excited to show someone the ropes, don’t be afraid to ask how a machine works if you don’t know. There’s no reason you have to figure it out all on your own.

10. Remember: You’ll never regret it once it’s over
The most concrete, absolute, real thing about exercising is that you will NEVER regret a workout once it’s over. When that elbow sweat drops after squats or you hit that flat road at the end of a spin class, being proud is inevitable. It’s why I get to the gym. It’s why the guy next to you gets to the gym. It’s why you get to the gym. No pain, no gain. And definitely no regrets.

So keep running, box jumping, and mountain climbing your way through 2018, friends. Your fitness progress awaits. 


Stuck in my head: Go F*ck Yourself // Two Feet
Snap it: A gym near you

A Month of No Sweat.

The Netflix filled nights of break have been traded for textbooks and trainings & I’m totally okay with it. Aimlessness has never really been my thing. I’m more of a to-do list kind of girl. Not that no reason Target runs weren’t great, I just find academics a little more fulfilling.

All change is hard, but changing routine is always the hardest. Over break I momentarily detached myself from my one true love: exercise. If you know me at all, you know this was heartwrenching and emotional to live through (insert tears here). Spin bikes were replaced by walks to the fridge and I basically forgot what a dumbell was. But through my *fitness pause* I learned a lot about body image and how meaningful exercise is to me. 

I’m such a body positive preacher. Learn it, see it in the mirror, love it. And I originally thought that taking a break from my intense exercise schedule would lead all that positivity to falter. It’s natural to associate inactivity with gaining weight, and gaining weight with lower self confidence. Though I was suffering through my down time, I really enjoyed spending even more time with the people I loved, doing whatever we were doing, whether it was devouring a pizza or shopping. Focusing my energy more on making the most of the moments I had with my friends and family made the days pass like minutes and dulled my eagerness to get back to the gym. The pressure of idleness faded and for the first time in a long time skipping the gym wasn’t more tragic than the Titanic. 

But don’t you dare for a second think that I stopped missing the sweat that starts in your elbows as you squat or the beat that pushes you through that sprint. Everyday I wished I could get up and lift it out, and finally ONE MONTH LATER I could.

Sitting on the spin bike for the first time in a while was a little nerve wracking but more exciting. For me, the thrill of a hard workout is almost romantic. With my spin classes (that I’m teaching!!!) starting next week, it’s crunch time to whip my body back into shape. I’ve never backed down from a challenge, and this definitely won’t be the first time. Double workouts days, here I come.

So here’s my two cents, if you’ve ever wanted to workout, just get out there and do it. Find the type of fitness that makes you passionate because once you love it, there’s no turning back. Turn Instagram goals into personal goals and get on that stairclimber today. You can totally have a Kardashian butt if you climb hard enough.

Here’s to being happy doing nothing, happy doing something, and happy inbetween. Today’s workout is definitely going in my 100 Happy Days book. Feels good to be back where I belong. 


Stuck in my head: Peanut Butter Jelly // Galantis
Snap it: Madewell, NYC