Life

The Bright Line: The 3 Secrets to Finding Your Positive Again

This week, I’m getting real personal, and opening up about something I’ve been keeping below the surface for a while. It’s the stuff no one talks about: negativity.

However, it hasn’t been staying below the surface recently, and the reason why was because it didn’t belong there. Life isn’t always up. There are downs. That’s completely normal, and it’s healthy to acknowledge those feelings without having them define you. To say I have had a challenging few months emotionally is an understatement. After hitting speed bumps this year, I struggled with the positive thinking factor and it often made me feel worse about myself. The more I tried to force the feelings shut with a happy face, the worse the anxiety got, especially as a blogger, constantly being in the public eye. However, the truth is, I’m a real person, with real feelings. It’s okay to experience hardship and feel all the feels that go with it.

As a trainer and sales exec, it’s in my blood to help understand and empower others to realize their potential and find that the solution lies inside them, especially when it becomes almost impossible for them to see. I’ll start off by calling myself out on it, as for a while recently, I stopped taking my own advice. I felt ashamed for feeling upset and felt so much pressure to just roll over and jump back into positivity. I found myself self-sabotaging instead. It was toxic.

The bright line: a clearly defined standard, or state of mind. It establishes a clear marker for what is, and what is not. It’s not a mantra. It’s easy to make fuzzy statements and lie to yourself, however, these light and warm promises make it easier to not hold yourself accountable, as they’re impossible to measure.

The real solution to finding your true positive nature again are these three steps; it’s how I’m returning to the person I am deep in my heart: loving, honest, and passionately happy.

1. Feel the negative feels.

Negative thoughts are the yang to the positive yin. Life is a balance of the two, and it’s healthy to voice both them. Not all day all the time, but just that: balance. That’s always bothered me about the power of positive thinking movement. I felt so ashamed for my feelings; that approach didn’t solve it, it just buried deep down where it grew even bigger. It wasn’t healthy. When you’re in pain physically from an injury, it’s not irrelevant, and it’s a feeling that reflects your current reality.

When you experience emotions as a result of a traumatic event, it’s a rational and completely normal reaction. They are feelings that should never be ignored, but rather accepted, and heard. Why? Without those feelings, you cannot truly listen to yourself, and find out that they may be telling you something really important. Once you have acknowledged and let those feelings take their course, you’ll be able to let it go and find your heart again.

2. Establish YOUR bright lines.

Words matter. What bright lines are not:

“I want to eat healthier.”

“I want to lose 10 pounds.”

“I want to have more work-life balance.”

“I should be happy and secure with what I’ve accomplished in life so far, and where I’m going.” -me

Think about what these statements mean. They’re wishes, not action steps. Write down small steps you can take toward your goal, and make it a rule.

“I eat veggies with every meal.”

“I workout 3 times a week.”

“I only answer emails at work, and take time for myself once I leave the office.”

“I am grateful for everything in my life, and I show that to those around me by telling them I value them.” -me

3. Conserve your willpower for what matters.

By establishing clear lines for navigating your life, you save energy for what matters: changing your perspective. Dwelling around aimlessly on a wish, and trying to fix every perspective that’s relatable in your head is toxic, and dangerous. I learned that when you experience intense pain or hardship, it’s a challenging road back to who you are. When you take a huge blow and begin to rebuild, you are going to have good days, and you’re also going to have bad ones. Really bad ones. Trust me, I’ve been there. What’s important to remember, is that THAT is okay.

The most important step is acknowledging the negative, and accepting it. It’s okay to have negative thoughts every now and then, and they do not define you. You are defined by how you grow from setbacks, not by the negative thoughts you have in your darkest days. When you accept that there will be small failures along the way, you grow back in a healthy way. Holding yourself to this unrealistic constant state of positivity is detrimental in a crisis, and can sometimes be exactly what’s holding you back from finding your original happiness. Doing that is to live in self-denial, and that’s not healthy.

Take small steps with multiple bright lines, and focus on the positive of achieving the small things first. The rest will follow.

Turning 1, and Turning 30

Looking back at where I was a year ago, the old me would have never thought that so much could change in just 365 days. When I decided that it was time for The Haute Sweat to go live, I never thought my dream of writing and being a trainer/instructor would be a goal that would be achieved in one year. It was a goal, just one on a more modest timeline. It was also because I was still a little chicken shit of making it a “dive in with both feet” kind of thing like my heart told me to do back when I talked about my goals this past year here.

It wasn’t until I found myself 20 pounds heavier, and stuck in soul-sucking 9-5 job that I realized I was making the same mistakes all over again by staying within the safety net. Regardless of the fact that I was studying for my personal trainer exam (half ass-edly, let’s be real) and working a job on my free time that complimented my goals, I was still putting my potential on hold. I wasn’t 20 anymore. I didn’t have the luxury of time to put things off, and more importantly, I was sick of being an angry person that stress ate. Without an official job on the other end, I traded my Louboutins for stretchy pants anyway, and never looked back. It has been the best thing that’s ever happened to me. When you take a running leap in the direction of your gut instincts, nothing but good things can come of it, and I can tell you that those things sure have.

I’ve learned more about myself in the past 3 months than I ever did in my twenties. Turning 30 in three short months is still a little intimidating for me. Did I think that I would be a lot farther down a specific career path by now? Yep. Did I think that I would have a lot more things figured out? You effing BET. However, I believe turning 30 truly means that you learn to see life as it really is: really fucking hard. It’s a constant lesson. Growing up means learning to understand and appreciate the work it takes to become something, and learning to accept failure and grow from it. As I look back on the last year of my twenties, I can honestly say for the first time in my life, that I am truly proud of myself and the road I have paved for the future.

It’s only January, but my new career as a personal trainer/instructor/writer is already snowballing into some serious success. I am grateful for those who have mentored me and cheered for me along the way this year, and cannot express my gratitude for you. Lululemon Run Club and Barry’s SF, I’m talking to you. Additionally, thanks Mom & Dad for the camera and loving support of my calling as a fitness professional, even though you don’t see the big picture just yet.

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Here’s to another year of kicking ass on the blog, on the trail, and in the studio. San Francisco, you’ve been warned.

Diaries of a California Girl: Why the surf will always be a part of who I am (and beauty products that kick the salt water’s ass too)

If there is one thing I cannot live without, it’s living near the ocean. It’s the one place that truly centers me, and the one place that can make my workout even more amazing. No matter how bad a day I have had, I can always solve it with a quick surf sesh or a nice long beach run. Hell, I’ve even driven out there to just sit sometimes.

This week, I decided that it was high time that I showed y’all the amazingness of the beaches here within city limits, and let you take a peek into my unapologetic love of being a surf bum. Complete with a waterproof beauty product review as well, of course. Because Running Pretty, yo.

Without further ado, I give you Ocean Beach, paired with all my favorite gear, captured by Rachel again at Rachel Radcliffe Photography!

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I currently ride a 7’6″ by Miramar Surfboards, and am searching for my second board right now, between 6’0″ and 6’5″, and will share my finds and fave surf shops once I do.

I finally upgraded to an SUV again, and had a bittersweet breakup with my convertible. The main reason was transport for my surf boards, and my ski equipment in Tahoe. Life was a dream bringing my gear out for this shoot.

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There is truly nothing more beautiful than the beach at dawn. The misty touch of the fog on your face and the slow stream of sunlight seeping though are truly captivating. There is nothing more peaceful and blissful than the smell of salt coupled with the sound of waves.

At Ocean Beach, the sun rarely shines, but honestly I believe that’s what makes it so beautiful. Conversely, the few times you do get sun makes it even more magical in the morning. The wind is always present, making the need for layers and post-surf sets of layers to make your visit bearable. I used to surf in bikinis under my wetsuit, but have recently began testing out various compression shorts as an alternative, to help me combat the aggressive waves here. While I love sand, sand burns are the worst, so I decided to figure out a solution to make a rash guard solution for my booty.

I decided to put Hylete’s Compete compression shorts to the test (initially featured previously here), and they were the perfect solution! Lululemon’s Boogie shorts are too thick for this purpose, and end up rolling under your wet suit, making it an even bigger breeding ground for rashes. You want something extremely lightweight and form fitting for comfort, as well as drying fast post-surf.

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I adore Roxy by Quiksilver for my wet suits, they are functional and always cute! I am rocking a 4/3 in this shoot, and it does just fine with the temps at Ocean Beach.

I’m also currently loving the new “Bombshell” series by Rip Curl (can we say ummmm ADORBS?!), and can’t wait for mine to come in! However, I won’t be testing it out until I can catch some waves in some non-freezing water. Hellooo Australian vacay: I need one STAT.IMG_4686

As a self proclaimed Lulu addict, y’all are all too familiar with my love/hate relationship with their cute but not always functional pieces. So, putting surfing and Lululemon in the same sentence was a bit laughable for me at first.

You wouldn’t think it, but Lululemon actually has some functional surf pieces. I was their most vocal balk when they released their first round of “surf” gear, but was pleasantly surprised by a couple of the pieces. The “One Love Rash Guard” (sold out) is a pretty decent piece of gear in my opinion. My lovely gal pal Erin did a fabulous showcase on it here. Equipped with an adorable zipper leash and key pocket, this thing thought of everything. I hate squeezing into tight rash guards, so having the option of not squeezing my wet and sandy dome through a tiny ass head opening post surf is a dream.

I even tested out the survivability of one of my favorite Lulu bras, the Energy Bra, instead of a bikini top, and it rocked.

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I had an absolute blast with this shoot. I’ll let the fun part speak for itself in these breathtaking photos! Rachel nailed it.

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Beauty Products Used

Lips: YSL Rouge Pur Couture Glossy Stain

Foundation: Diorshow Airflash Spray Foundation

Liner: c/o Kat Von D Tattoo Liner

Eye Primer: MAC Paints in Untitled

Brows: Anastasia Beverly Hills Dipbrow

Mascara: Tarte Lights, Camera, Splashes Waterproof Mascara

See below for post surf performance:

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Post Surf Layers

I found this bitchin’ sweater hoodie at Forever 21 of all places. I love it, and you can still get your hands on it this season.

My Hylete shorts were already dry and ready for the car ride home. Easy peasy.

Stay tuned, I will be partnering with Hylete for a sizable discount off your first purchase though my blog’s link, so check back soon so you can give this amazing apparel a try!

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Monday Motivation: Stop hatin’ and start being awesome.

These past few weeks (and weekends!) have been insanely stressful but exciting, with all my recent ventures coming together. That said, I haven’t found much time to put together the final drafts of several great posts I have written for everyone!

While I take a much needed break from writing this week, I wanted to leave you with something. A little Monday motivation pep talk.

There has been one thing that’s been on my mind a lot since I have moved back home to Northern California, and away from my closest friends, of which happen to be guys. I am grateful to have an amazing group of core girl friends here in the city and the bay area at large, however, I’ve found making new girl friends in the city to be a bit difficult, clique-y, and borderline cutthroat.

While this is a definitely not only a concern here in San Francisco- I see it everywhere- it’s something to think about. I will never understand why people feel the need to tear people down to make friends, or discard them because they don’t have an opportunity to offer, other than just being a friend.

No one has nailed this lesson in self-confidence better than my FAVE home girl, Jenna Mourey “Marbles”:

Take a few minutes out of your day and watch this, and give it a thought. Stop hating, and revel in the fact that’s there’s only ONE of you in the world, which means you have the opportunity to be unique and kick ass in your own amazing way.

I’m in a contest with myself. That’s the only person I should be competing against. It’s Monday, so start making yourself into the best version of you that’s possible!

 

Chasing imperfect perfection

Last night, I had the chance to spend time with some truly inspirational people in my neighborhood, and the greater Bay Area as well. I even got to see some Lululemon educators from my hometown store in Roseville! So awesome. Early last week after run club, one of  the girls in our local Lululemon store on Union Street handed me this flyer, and told me it would be something that she thought would really speak to me in my current journey toward making my dreams goals. After taking a look at it, I knew this was exactly what I had been searching for, advice and inspiration from people that took the scary first steps to standing up to the fear of failure in building the life they imagined for themselves.

Disclaimer: It’s no secret that Lululemon gets a bad rap and stereotype here in our neighborhood, not to mention nationally. However, its all how you choose to view it. You can choose to use their mantras to spark something meaningful in your outlook on life, instead of just assuming its a bunch of BS, and blindly stereotype the masses. I choose to find the authenticity in everyone. This event was further proof that there is honest passion, love, and mentorship rooted in the Lululemon culture.

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The story that spoke to me the most was a story about living life inside the safe  box. Inside the walls of what was practical and expected of me. Told by an educator in the Roseville store near my hometown, she shared how she had always lived life in the safe zone, and always said no to spontaneity and anything with a risk factor. While I am your stereotypical Aries who lives on the edge and is fueled by the high risk/high reward outlook on life, I also have a side to myself that aims to please others, especially those closest to me. This side of myself has led me to where I am today, and I can’t say that I am 100% content with it.

All through grade school and high school, I was urged to be the best at everything: always get perfect grades, maintain the perfect classy image, and participate in the sports that would get me the farthest in life and were the most practical, regardless of whether or not it was a passion of mine. I remember being so disheartened being pulled out of dance class as a child because it wasn’t something that my family deemed as practical. I was pushed hard as a mid-distance track athlete, and had a hard time accepting failure at meets, and forcing myself to be passionate about it. I began to develop these habits in other areas as life went on, taking classes that I wasn’t always interested in, only because it was the practical thing to do, and would help me into a safe and successful career. This continued into college. I turned down my first and most coveted acceptance letter to the University of Southern California, because “going to a military academy” would be much more prestigious. I couldn’t have been more wrong.

Two years into a collegiate track and field career, an engineering major, and a string of bad grades later, I took a stand for myself. For the first time in my life, I said yes to my heart. I quit running, and joined our cheerleading team. I threw myself into singing with our choral department. I changed majors to Economics, where my analytical and creative skills would flourish. I couldn’t change my school or my post college military commitment, so I forged ahead on that front, and learned as much as I could from the incredible experiences I was given.

I could choose to keep living the life I thought I was supposed to live, or I could live my life with some dignity and do things that I was truly passionate about. I spent the remaining 5 years of my military commitment post college finishing what I had started. As soon as I could, I broke free, and moved to San Francisco, the city I always saw myself settling in forever. It has been a rocky road of slow progress toward what it is that I see for myself in the future, and I often find myself slipping back into old habits of making career choices that please my family or doing things because I think they are what I am supposed to be doing. Last night was a wake up call, and I no longer feel alone in the struggle of chasing what I think perfection should be. It is a work in progress for me to be at peace with the mindset of loving myself first, and realizing that it is not a failure to step away from what is safe or expected of me.

Moral of the story: Do what you love. Not what you think you are supposed to be doing.

Thank you to all the amazing speakers last night, each of you left a lasting impression. I can’t express it enough. I am also grateful for all the amazing advice and positive support I get routinely from my local Lululemon store here on Union Street. They’re a team full of charismatic mentors, with a love for the life they lead and inspire others to lead theirs in the same fashion.

 

Girls on the Run: not what I expected.

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As you may remember from my post this February, I finally found an amazing mentorship program in which I could volunteer. Girls on the Run has been one of the greatest and most challenging learning experiences of my life. For those of you that don’t know me, teaching children is one of my greatest fears. Ironically, my mother is an elementary school teacher, so you’d assume it would be in my blood. Not even close.

You would also assume it would come naturally to me since I am passionate about run coaching and training. Again, not so much. Children present a completely different challenge than adults; they are motivated differently, and often in ways that I have forgotten after years spent in stressful environments and the overall result of becoming an adult. I didn’t want to admit it, but I was terrified to show up to my first practice.

What would the girls be like? What would they think of me? Would they listen, or just get frustrated and tell me everything we were teaching was stupid or boring? My fellow coach had warned me that it would be a challenge to keep the girls engaged and interested, but I decided to remain optimistic and take it as a bit of an exaggeration. True to her word, the first practice was more than a challenge, and not what I expected. While I knew that it wouldn’t be a walk in the park (pun intended, 🙂 ) I didn’t expect the worst. No matter what I said, nothing seemed to motivate them to listen to the curriculum and even be remotely open to mentoring or any form of a discussion. The reason I had joined had suddenly become irrelevant, and it seemed that our presence had become equally so.

After a few weeks of this, coupled with the tears from social spats between girls, I didn’t think I had anything left to offer to better the situations at hand or even begin to build a mentorship. I had tried every angle my mother had suggested and a few of my own, all to no avail. It wasn’t until one day, midseason, that I finally got it right, and in the most unexpected way possible.

After taking nearly 30 minutes to wrangle the girls together and try and present the lesson, my fellow coach and I lost it. Over half the girls were running around playing with other classmates on the playground, and a scattered few were clinging to us crying because they wanted to do the activity but not enough of their teammates were present to begin it. Practice was ended immediately, and we brought all the girls back into the classroom. I told them that it had been their choice to not have practice, as they had chosen to not participate and respect their teammates and coaches. Consequently, they also did not earn a snack as a result. It broke my heart to see them so sad and confused, but something needed to be done to let them know that this was not ok.

I left practice completely heartbroken and upset myself, and for the first time in years, I cried on my way home. Failure was the common theme that month, and I didn’t think I had any strength left to deal with anything else. Nothing was going right in my life, and I couldn’t even feel happy during an activity I had chosen because it was something I was excited and passionate about. I had no idea how I was going to finish the rest of the season, let alone that month.

The following week, we showed up to practice to find smiles and the most touching handwritten and colorful “I’m sorry” card I’ve ever seen. Tons of hugs followed by requests for the day’s activity ensued, along with sparkly smiles. We had decided to spice up (or really, down) the activity of the day, and turn the activity into a less scripted and more “real-talk” version, complete with examples taken from the girls’ daily lives, to include the schoolyard spats they had among each other. By tossing the teacher image and letting down our guards, we were able to make a better connection with our girls. I was floored that this, of all things, was the answer.

I had learned something that I never expected to learn: being a mentor wasn’t always about being perfect or an authority figure, but rather, a relatable individual with the capacity to understand and help shape the mindset of someone else.

Practices that followed were not always perfect, and were not always completed by the book. It was so far from what I had ever expected, and in the best way possible. However, our relationships with the girls became exactly what I had expected them to be, and I could see a new light in each of them.

Today was our culminating event, the end of the season 5k race. I was honored to share my day with such amazing little girls, and be there with them as they completed such a great milestone. Each one of them has touched my heart, and made me a stronger person. They were not the only ones making personal growth through the program; they brought out a strength and new level of love in me, and I will always be grateful for that.

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Our girls had a love for speed intervals, sprinting for as long as possible before jogging or walking for a moment, then going again!

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A 5 year old joins hands with her sister who is in the program, and runs with us all!

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Bling everywhere, and a blue “ombre like Mandy” to boot! (recognize that Sephora hair mascara? 😉 )

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More blue hair and bling at the finish by all!

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It has been an honor to be a part of this organization, and and even greater honor to get to know and be a part of these girls’ lives. I will be back again next season with Cleveland Elementary, and will always continue to be a part of the program in whatever capacity possible in years to come. Girls on the Run was not what I expected, it was something far better.