Liz Wilson Yoga

It’s The Big C, now what?

By October 11, 2017 Musings

After I got back from my last trip to NC, I got together with a friend whose mother was recently diagnosed with Stage 4 cancer.

She’s in what I told her is the hardest stage, where they know how bad it is but haven’t finalized a treatment plan yet. There are no words to really explain how that feels. When your world is in the process of imploding around you, and within you, and there’s nothing you can do. Yet.

Once a treatment plan is in place, there are things to focus on. Hurtles to overcome. Doctors appointments, lab results, chemo side effects. There are stages of treatment. You focus hard on reaching the end of the current one before even really thinking about the next one(s).

During this period, emotions are ruling. I’ve never felt that level of anxiety, grief, fear, and uncertainty ever, let alone all of them happening at once. Once treatment starts, it doesn’t all go away by any means, but there’s more for you to do, more ways to stay busy, answers to give to all the questions.

I came away from this lunch date drained. I was so happy I could be there for my friend who is embarking on this horrible journey, but it definitely brought everything back to the forefront for me as well. There were a couple of points we discussed that I discovered really helped me get through what was hopefully the worst stage of the process, but continues to help me every day as the ordeal continues.

Avoid triggers

As I processed everything that was happening to me, there were triggers that could incite crying and a lot of emotions. At first, that’s pretty much everything. In those first weeks, I would start crying and fighting a panic attack at everything.

Some of it’s obvious. The night I found out about my dad’s cancer was Stage IV, Caitlin and I watched Creed. Sexy Michael B. Jordan and boxing, what could go wrong. [SPOILER] Then I saw the signs of what the storyline was building to, and yup, Rocky gets cancer. And not just any ol’ cancer. But Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma, the cancer my dad has. Woah, did not handle that well. We made sure to lighten it up afterwards by watching Ali Wong…

Some of it wasn’t so obvious. I, for whatever reason, fought the emotional attacks a lot while driving.

Time goes on and emotions level out. But there are still triggers that bring all that emotion and fear to the surface. Creed is still an amazing movie, but I definitely fast forward through the cancer section.

I love putting on How I Met Your Mother almost like a security blanket (I constantly am rotating screening through my favorite shows). The episodes when Marshall’s dad dies just came up in my recent series screening, and I automatically skipped them. Marshall’s pure devastation is absolutely heartbreaking. It immediately brings up all of that emotion in me.

Sometimes it’s not even cancer or death related. It can be a really beautiful, heartfelt moment. Recently at my friend’s wedding, I had to look away during the father-daughter dance. For whatever reason, during the first stages of everything, a fear that kept repeating itself in my head was that my dad won’t be there to walk me down the aisle. I recognize it’s a manifestation of the overall fear of my dad’s potential death (any I’m nowhere close to getting married), but it is difficult to witness those moments in others when I’m holding onto that relationship with everything I have!

Find an outlet

When I first was processing the diagnosis, I couldn’t handle doing yoga. It brought all of the roiling emotion to the surface and I couldn’t stop crying. I felt too volatile for yoga, even power vinyasa. I had emotions that yoga didn’t help me process like the way it normally does. Even running and backcountry skiing didn’t do the trick. I had so much anger. Though I did make sure I went out on the trail on the days my dad started his rounds of chemo.

Today’s therapy session… • • • • • #mthood #movingmeditation #uphillskiing

A post shared by Elizabeth Wilson (@lizwilsonyoga) on

Back when I played field hockey, I had an outlet for my aggression. There’s a kind of therapy in hitting something as hard as you can. So what better time to give boxing a try? I’ve started boxing at a local gym here in Portland with a badass chick who is a two-time World Champion and plays Britney Spears and Lady Gaga during our sessions in the ring. Best outlet for all of my anger and anxiety!

Open the lines of communication

I can’t stress this one enough.

At the beginning of this whole process, I was talking to mom separately on the phone one day. I was asking her how my dad was doing and how she was doing. I was afraid of her and them sugarcoating things to protect me. I flat out told her that in this fight, I’m not their daughter. I’m her partner.

On the phone with my dad getting word that he’s being discharged from the BMTU after three weeks.

I avoided looking anything up on the Internet. There are way too many scary things out there that have nothing to do with my dad’s situation. So I told my mom she had to be sure to tell me everything the doctors were saying because I wasn’t doing my own research separately.

My dad told me very plainly from the beginning that he didn’t want me to give up my life in Portland to move home. They’ve never been ones to guilt me into coming home for visits, or even phone calls. But he and my mom didn’t talk me out of coming home as much as I did. So I knew how much they wanted me there when they didn’t insist on me not coming.

It’s also important to have open communication not only with your loved one you want to support, but those in your life that want to support you. In my last “caregiver” post I talked mostly about being ok with not being ok with what’s going on, and how to navigate communication with your loved ones that want to support you. Don’t hesitate to tell people in your life what you need. Whether it’s, “Why haven’t you once asked me about my dad? I need you.” or, “Can we not talk about that right now? I appreciate you asking though.”

Keep calm and compartmentalize

What can be hardest when communicating with friends are those that have an experience they want to share with you. It’s natural, to want to share and communicate on common ground. Sometimes it was really challenging hearing things like, “If you ever need to talk, I lost my mom to cancer, so I know what it’s like to have a parent with cancer.” I tried to maintain my compassion, even as I wanted to scream, “WHY would you tell me about your parent dying from cancer when my dad is fighting it right now?!”

I remember the episode of Sex and the City when Carrie and her lover du jour Aleksandr had a big communication faux pas about Samantha’s breast cancer diagnosis. Carrie was wearing her positivity goggles a little too tightly and blew up at Alex when he brought up his friend who had died from the disease. I remember thinking Carrie was being a big B, but I now understand that she’s fighting to stay positive for her friend who is fighting this disease. (And is a little in denial.) But Alex losing his friend had just as valid of an experience. Once emotions had calmed, it was as simple as Alex putting on the positivity goggles with Carrie for Samantha and Carrie giving him her condolences for Alex’s friend.

I tried to remember this interaction when friends would tell me their experiences with cancer. They’re not trying to be hurtful. They’re trying to let me know they understand what I’m going through and that they’re there for me. Being able to reign in the explosions of emotion is a good skill. I also, regardless of the pain I’m going feeling, want to be always be someone that my friends feel like they can go to with their fears, stories, hurts, and memories. I’m now better able to calmly discuss experiences with friends, but at the time I just had to smile tightly and say thank you.

Sometimes the emotions literally do explode. Sometimes it’s impossible to compartmentalize them away into a little box you can deal with later. And that’s ok, that’s normal. The day I first found out about my dad’s cancer diagnosis, I had to teach yoga that evening and attend an event at the studio. I made it through teaching, albeit with maybe a little more subdued of a demeanor. On the way to Flex & Flow, I fought back a breakdown of emotion while driving. I had to excuse myself a couple of times during the bootcamp workout because I just couldn’t fight back the tears. We then went as a group to a local bar that has karaoke. What a horrible night for karaoke. It did help distract me off and on for a bit, but overall I was hardly in the festive mood. Jamie and Nicci knew something was up, but I hadn’t been able to tell them separately before the event, and it was definitely not something I was going to text them. But I tried to keep it together for my friends and my students.

It’s ok to smile

In the first weeks of diagnosis, a friend of mine told me not to feel guilty for smiling and laughing. I was too deep in the fog at the time to really register what she was saying, but it’s a real thing. How could I be laughing, taking smiling selfies, singing karaoke like everything is normal when everything is far from normal?? The reality is that it is reality. The only way to function is to compartmentalize. I had to put all of the fear, sadness, anger, grief off to the side in a little box in order to make it through my day. Of course it starts by just barely going through the motions. But little by little, I found some semblance of normalcy. And that includes laughing and smiling.

The breakdowns will happen. They still do. But not nearly with the frequency as in the beginning. I felt like I cried for days and anything could set me off. I felt like nothing would make me laugh or smile again. Let the emotion happen. It helps you process everything that’s going on. Once that wave has passed, set it off to the side to focus on other things.

Have an insider

One of my parents’ best friends lives right down the street from them. I’m able to call her to get an “unbiased” opinion on how they’re doing. Right after we heard the initial diagnosis, I called her. I asked her how they were really doing and if I should come home for Christmas, which was the next week. It’s relieving knowing I have someone I can turn to that’s close to the situation, that can be there with my parents, that can keep me informed, that can tell me they need something they won’t ask of me.

Do what you need to do

A parent isn’t generally going to want you to give up your life for him or her. As my dad insisted. As my friend’s mom insisted. I told her that that may be the case, that it really makes her mom happy to know that my friend is continuing to run, laugh, smile, work, live. But she, my friend, might need to go home and lay eyes on her mom for herself.

The most at ease I am during this whole situation is when I’m with my dad. When I can see him, watch movies, snuggle our pup, go for walks. When I can hug him.

So maybe you don’t go for a visit for your loved one. Maybe you do it for you.

You Might Also Like

Feel amazing, feel beautiful, be beautiful

By October 3, 2017 balanced lifestyle, Musings

Nothing makes a woman more beautiful than the belief that she is beautiful.

– Sophia Loren

The best way to “be” beautiful is to feel beautiful. It doesn’t come from owning the Tiffany heart necklace, wearing foundation, having a boyfriend, or being born with symmetrical facial features. It comes from confidence, self worth, and happiness. It comes from within and radiates out!

And that takes work.

I used to joke that I would run on the treadmill with a picture of Gisele in front of me as motivation. The picture self deprecation. And delusion. There is NO WAY I could ever look like Gisele. I’m not saying that as a knock against myself. I could workout for a living (oh wait, I do) and it would never happen. She’s literally like a foot taller than me and we have completely different body types. What is natural for her is not natural for me. It took many years for me to realize that being thin and a model does not a beautiful woman make.

When I was a freshman in college, I got the flu. My first day back at classes I walked by a mirrored window and loved how thin I looked. But then I went to field hockey practice that night and couldn’t run for shit. I recognized that my body naturally gets muscled when I’m running and am active. I realized I’d much rather be fit than thin, to be able to play field hockey and go running than fit into a size smaller pants. It was a big realization for me!

Beauty is being the best possible version of yourself on the inside and out.

Comparison can breed unhappiness and insecurity. My psychology 101 professor drove this point home for me. He pointed out that there will always be someone thinner, richer, with shinier hair. The thing is to be the happiest, healthiest version of yourself possible!

I don’t workout to try and look like Gisele anymore. I don’t workout to try and attract a guy. I don’t workout to get a six pack. I workout because I like having goals for myself that I aim to meet. Because I enjoy it. Because it keeps me healthy. Because it makes me feel good.

Confidence breeds beauty. – Estee Lauder

When I feel fit, I feel confident. I’ve not only made my peace with my muscled curves, but come to love them. My quads are from skiing powder and running hills (“mountain booty” is a thing!). My butt is from all those chair poses Jamie makes us hold in yoga. My shoulders are from handstanding as much as physcially possible. My body is strong and capable, and that makes me feel beautiful.

Our moms (and dads!) told us when we were girls that it doesn’t matter what other people think as long as we’re happy with ourselves, that confidence is sexy. 

My dad has always been a big advocate of girl power!

As I’ve gotten older, I’m starting to see the validity of their words.

It’s really been in the last year or two I’d say I’ve gotten comfortable with who I am, and owning that. I’ve moved to places where I didn’t really know anyone. I’ve traveled alone and been in situations that are outside of my comfort zone. I’ve had my heart broken. I’ve initiated break ups because I knew something was missing. I’ve learned through being single for a long time what makes me happy and what I really want and need out of life and a partner. More importantly, I’ve learned how to make myself happy. I have a healthier relationship with food, which is totally helped by being really active and having foodie friends that are also so active. I’ve developed a complete lifestyle around being active.

It’s a daily process and hard work, not a miracle. I am lonely, but won’t settle in a relationship. I battle guilt from eating french fries, even after running a half marathon. I lecture myself about resting during injury or illness when insecurities pressure me to workout. I don’t wash my hair for a week (Literally, me last week. I just kept forgetting.). Confidence isn’t easy and isn’t a surefire thing. It takes work.

It’s taken years and still changes every day, but I’ve learned that when I feel healthy and comfortable with who I am, that’s when I feel the most beautiful.

Beauty is about enhancing what you have. Let yourself shine through!

– Janelle Monae 

Taking care of yourself is the best way to feel amazing, to feel beautiful. Making sure I’m eating healthy most of the time while still treating myself. (Going a day without chocolate is absurd.) Drinking plenty of water. Working out.

You can embrace who you are wholeheartedly and still work toward something better. “Better” isn’t Gisele, it’s the best version of myself that I can be.

I’m a big believer in treating yourself. I think it’s really important. I’ve lived in the woods for a month and been the happiest I’ve ever been, so I know you don’t really need anything to be happy. I know the difference between necessities and luxuries. But treating yourself is a little borderline in my mind.

Massages, waxes, wearing jewelry, drinking nice wine. I genuinely enjoy all of those things. They make me feel good. Well, I don’t enjoy the process of the wax, but I like the by product, so I deal with it. (Though I do love my salon I go to!) That’s actually a great example. I don’t get bikini waxes because someone told me I had to to be considered beautiful. It makes me feel good (and I don’t have to deal with shaving!), so I do it.

 

Pedicures aren’t required to get a date, though I’m sure my yoga classes appreciate it since they end up looking at my feet a lot, and having my hair cut isn’t a pre-requisite to posting on Instagram (good thing, since I haven’t had mine cut since March). I don’t do the “grooming” thing for social norm reasons or to look beautiful, but rather I do it to feel amazing!

__________________________________________________________________

Feel amazing every day!

So we’ve established how important I think it is to feel amazing in order to feel beautiful. So what now? How to feel amazing?

  • Sweat. Who doesn’t feel amazing after a good sweat session? There’s a reason I don’t mind going on dates after a run or a yoga class. Seriously I do that. And a big part of it is that a guy who is going to like me or date me is going to have to be ok with being around me when I’m sweaty. But I also like how I look after a sweat: pink cheeks, messy top knot, glistening skin.

  • Eating healthy on a regular basis is SO important. Keep the belly and innards happy!
  • But don’t forget to treat yo self! French fries and ice cream are pure happiness. What fun is it to eat healthy all the time if you can’t indulge every now and then…
  • Drink healthy! Health doesn’t stop with food. Drinking plenty of water and limiting caffeine and alcohol intake are good guidelines to follow.
  • Drink beauty! Add in Amazing Grass’s Beauty Elixir to your next smoothie or glass of water.This elixir is an herb blend containing chaga, hibiscus flower, Indian gooseberry (amla fruit), aloe vera, maqui, yumberry, camu camu, lucuma and blueberry juice with 100 percent DV plant-based biotin to support radiant skin, nails and hair! Get your glow on! Get 40% off Amazing Grass products with the code sweatpink2017!

  • Sleep! It’s called beauty sleep for a reason…

  • Take care of your skin. Wear sunscreen, hats, and sunglasses, Wash your face before bed every night and put on moisturizer. And exfoliate.

  • Treat yo self! Get that massage, get your nails did, take yoga. Don’t hesitate to pamper yourself a little. Mud bath, anyone?…

  • Laugh every day. Nothing’s more beautiful that a big, unfiltered laugh.

  • Be you, be authentic, and absolutely own it!
  • Inner beauty is great, but a little mascara never hurt. I will admit, I rarely leave my house without mascara. It’s the only bit of makeup I use on a daily basis. But again, I do it because I like how I feel when I wear it. I wear it for me.

The happier you are, the more beautiful you become. – Lorna Jane

A few years ago there was a challenge to select 5 photos of yourself that you think are beautiful. Some of them are from professional yoga photoshoots, one is a candid of a gregarious laugh at my friend’s wedding. One is classic beach life: covered in sand, salt, and sunscreen, no makeup, and big ole smile. In all of them you can tell how happy I am, how good I feel, and I think that’s what makes it beautiful.

What do you do to feel beautiful? When do you feel the most beautiful?

In partnership with Amazing Grass. Thanks to all the brands that help us feel healthy, amazing, and beautiful!

You Might Also Like

Home is where you lay your head at night

By October 2, 2017 balanced lifestyle, Local Living, Travel

The past months have been B-A-N-A-N-A-S!

When you travel a lot, whether for work, pleasure, or necessity, you start calling wherever you’re going to sleep that night “home.” For me this summer, I said “home” a lot. Home the beach where my parents are. Home Asheville, my hometown where my childhood house is. Home Portland. (In my defense, I guess I do have a lot of places I legitimately call home. I even think of Breckenridge as a sort of home still.)

I slept in 15 different beds in three months. (And not in a sexytimes kind of way.)

  1. Portland – my bed
  2. Rochester – at my friend’s house for her wedding
  3. Chapel Hill – hotel while we visited my dad in the hospital
  4. Wrightsville Beach – in what’s normally my parent’s bed at our house
  5. Chapel Hill – different hotel when my dad got discharged from the hospital but couldn’t go home yet. (Started on the pull out couch, but ouch! Moved to the bed with my mom.)
  6. Wrightsville Beach – in our friend’s guest room
  7. Chapel Hill – back to the hotel with my parents
  8. Wrightsville Beach – on the futon at our friend’s house
  9. Vegas – hotel
  10. Portland – my bed
  11. Ashland – hotel (and Nicci and Abbie snuggles!)
  12. Tahoe – guest room at Alyse’s house (and Nicci and Abbie snuggles!)
  13. Berkeley – air mattress (and Nicci snuggles!)
  14. Portland – my bed
  15. Wrightsville Beach – in what’s normally our friend’s bed at her beach house
  16. Asheville – my childhood bed
  17. Wrightsville Beach – my bed back at my parent’s house
  18. Portland – my bed

As much as I traded beds (and other sleeping surfaces) over the summer, my schedule changed just as much. Though I continued to develop some sense of schedule, by necessity.

Through our partnership with Gerolsteiner Sparkling Mineral Water and their Sparkling Detox challenge, I hosted a few “a day in the life” takeovers on Instagram Stories. As we’re wrapping up the campaign, it’s fun to look back at my days in my various “homes” over the summer.

A day in the life: Portland

I usually start my day with some yoga.

And then it’s off to a coffee shop to GSD.

I like scheduling my errands and appointments late morning so I get a break and can move around.

Off to Forest Park for an afternoon trail run!

And ending the day the way I started it: yoga with my loves.

A day in the life: Asheville

My days in my hometown vary. I usually run round the lake in my neighborhood, take class at my yoga studio, pop by some of my favorite shops, and try to see some old friends. This past time I was home was extra special because I was there for a wedding of one of my oldest friends!

A day in the life: Wrightsville Beach

In the dog days of summer when I’m home in the South, I try to run first thing in the morning before it gets too hot.

Post run, I have breakfast and watch Morning Joe with my parents, have meetings, and GSD some work.

My mom and I head to the beach for a few hours. We read, walk, swim, do yoga, and sometimes nap in the sun. Under normal circumstances, my dad joins, too, but right now it’s when he takes a nice long nap.

After a few hours at the beach, we’ll come in for lunch. And Tori snuggles.

The afternoons are spent running errands, napping, reading, and otherwise avoiding the hottest part of the day. I’ll post up for a while and bang a bunch of work out.

I like squeezing in another sweaty activity in the evening. Most of the time that’s a walk on the beach. But sometimes I need a quick and hard sweat: enter HIIT & Flow!

We normally eat dinner out on the deck with the sunset, but my dad can’t be outside without his mask yet. So this summer we enjoyed a glass of wine with those glorious colors in the sky, and then came in for dinner and a movie.

I’m back home in Portland now and I can’t wait to get back into my routine!! 

Thanks Gerolsteiner for the support in finding routine amidst the chaos. 

You Might Also Like

Break out the boots!

By September 22, 2017 balanced lifestyle, Local Living

One of my favorite parts of fall is the instant style upgrade.

Don’t get me wrong. I LOVE summer. The sunshine, relaxation, beach trips, fresh fruits, porch dates… I could go on. I love the style of summer, the ease of it. Jean shorts and birks. Breezy sundresses. Wedges. It’s so easy and so casual.

I always feel edgier when it comes to getting dressed come fall. I don’t necessarily change what I’m wearing all that much though. My uniform is still pretty much leggings and a tunic or jeans and a tank with a sweater. During the warmer months, it’s a pretty casual look with ballet flats or sandals. During the majority of the year (at least from living in Colorado and now in Portland), I add boots and booties to this ensemble and get the instant upgrade! Jeans look less frumpy and leggings can be dressed up.

Same outfit, TOMS versus booties.

I developed a literal uniform in Colorado, the land of 8 months of winter: Black leggings, knee-high Frye boots (Sorel snow boots for commuting), a long black tank, a long grey or black sweater (a Patagonia flannel for casual), and a scarf. Oh, and a beanie.

There were a lot of good reasons for my ski bum life uniform.

  • Leggings are just so damn comfortable.
  • I can always #stopdropandyoga with freedom.
  • The classic black goes with everything.
  • I also worked in a restaurant. I ran around like a crazy person and interacted with food. Black doesn’t show sweat or food stains.
  • Black can also be dressed up a lot easier than any other color.
  • Boots are the obvious choice in a ski town. I had my Sorel snow boots for commuting, and then always changed into nice Frye leather boots at work or for nights out. Knee-high was necessary for trudging through piles of snow.
  • Layers. Are. Everything. You have to learn to layer when living in perpetual winter or a place with crazy weather (I see you, SF).

Occasionally I throw in some funky leggings…

Since coming to Portland, my style has shifted ever so slightly: I’m wearing jeans.

Woah, I know. I’m getting crazy. Jeans are still kind of “dressing up” for me, though it happens more and more these days. Some of that is because I’m not wearing knee-high boots as much anymore. I don’t have to deal with snow all day every day and ankle booties have taken over the fashion world. My favorite boots right now are a pair of waterproof wedge Sorel booties from last year (omg, you guys, they’re back this year, too!), and I rarely wear anything else. Cute and functional, my favorite combo!

I still love the skinny jean style that’s still in fashion. But I’ve struggled with it for a long time in colder months. I have small feet but muscular calves, so it’s very hard for me to wear jeans with knee-high boots. But now the style is ankle boots and cuffing your jeans, and I absolutely love it! For years they told us never to cuff your jeans, especially as a shortie, but with a wedge bootie, it’s actually very elongating for my short legs.

Now that I’m “dressing up more,” aka wearing jeans, I love trying to find new jeans to try out. I’m short with a small waist but have muscular thighs and a booty, so finding jeans is always pretty challenging. Joe’s and Paige jeans are usually my favorites, and have been for a long time. My new favorite for this season: prAna’s Jenna Pants! These pants in coal are my new favorite for fall, classic with a twist. Cuffed with booties or birks, paired with a tank or a leather bomber, these pants are taking me from summer into fall stylishly and comfortably. And they’re bluesign certified, the highest of environmental and human safety standards!

Jenna Pant + birks

Jenna Pant + booties

What’s your go-to fall style? How do you rock your jeans?

Check out the cute, functional, and eco-friendly garb at prAna! And get 15% off with the code FALY15 at checkout! 

You Might Also Like

Feeling amazing, even when you really don’t

By September 21, 2017 balanced lifestyle, Musings

I don’t have to wake up on the wrong side of the bed to not be in the best mood. Some days I just don’t wanna…

So when there’s not necessarily a problem that can be fixed, but I just feel meh, there’s a few things I do.

Eat chocolate

Some recent studies have shown that it’s healthy to eat chocolate cake for breakfast. Yeah, I’m totally on board with this kind of science!

Chocolate apparently can improve your memory and cognitive function. Who doesn’t want to be able to think outside the box a little better? AND it can be a better time of day to satiate your sweet tooth as our bodies convert food into energy most efficiently in the morning!

I maybe don’t partake in pastries every morning (let’s be honest, a chocolate muffin is just the morning version of cake), but I do actually have chocolate almost every morning. In my homemade yogurt bowl I top of a mixture of coconut yogurt, frozen blueberries, and a banana with chocolate chips. And when I’m running out the door for early morning run club, I grab a handful of chocolate covered almonds. The sugar and protein wakes me up and gets me ready to run!

When in doubt, throw it out

Sounds like a closet purge is big on the fall organization list for a lot of us. Don’t get me wrong, I love shopping. Obvi. Probably a little two much. But right now I feel like my closets and laundry are consuming my space. And it’s causing me anxiety. Plus, I end up re-wearing the same few things. Some of that is because I wear my favorites, and some of it is the ease of choosing what’s on top of the drawer. So then why do I need all the other items of clothing under my favorite few that rarely get worn?? It’s a difficult process, especially for a sentimental borderline hoarder like myself, but I feel so relieved once I finally do the deed.

Need a little extra help? Here are some great resources to turn to:

Sweat it up, sweat it out

The BEST way to motivate is always to get my sweat on! It gets up off the couch and moving my body, which inevitably gets my mind off the proverbial couch, too. I’m always able to focus better after a good sweat. Or maybe it’s a day to return to vegging, but I’m still able to chill and relax way better after working out.

I felt utterly “meh” and beyond this morning. I’m coming down with a cold and am still pretty sore from our half marathon on Saturday. I was nervous before teaching HIIT & Flow, a kick-butt class on even my best day. I can’t say it was my best class, but I can say I feel better having moved, sweat, and flowed.

Get your mind right

We talk a lot these days about better ways to get focused in a world of soooooo much stimulation around us constantly. Most of the time I prefer working in coffee shops. I have since college. Libraries are too quiet. I like the white noise of the espresso machine, typing keys, quiet conversations. But sometimes distractions happen: I love people watching, Instagram, I end up eavesdropping to the conversation next to me (and try so hard not to interject “Oh no he didn’t!”), adorable babies that want to play hide and seek, Instagram. Home can be just as distracting with cleaning, laundry, roommates, and dogs. Remember that disaster of a room that’s staring at me when I’m at home?

Sometimes you just need a little extra boost to get your mind going. Nibbling helped me study in college, but I got a cavity from all the jelly beans after my first semester. And carrots just aren’t as satisfying. Coffee is undeniably my go-to when I need help waking up and focusing. But there is in fact such a thing as too much coffee. (This is the only time I will ever ever ever admit this.)

Hello, Amazing Grass’s Brain Elixir. This magic packet is full of adaptogenic herbs and greens that aid “cognitive health, concentration, and mental clarity.” Just mix into a glass of water or smoothie, and BAM! Focused.

Get 40% off Amazing Grass products with the code sweatpink2017!

What else do I try and do to get my mind right and my GSD on?

  • Get going in the morning. Things come up as the day goes on. Energy flags. Coffee wears off. Morning is the best time to be productive, bang out that to do list. A morning sweat always helps, too.
  • Make your soul sing, and cut the other shit out. This one is a little bit more big picture. Do I want to email my accountant today answering all of her questions? Absolutely not. That does not make my soul sing. But it’s absolutely necessary. Sometimes I just have to suck it up and deal with the adulting, but I don’t have to be an accountant and deal with taxes every day.
  • Play mental games. Setting small, achievable, and realistic goals can really help! Alyse’s is so treal (true and real): “Must respond to two emails before I mindlessly scroll FB and IG for an hour.” It’s working right now; I’m finishing this post before I’m allowed to leave this coffee shop. And it’s working because I really have to blow my runny, stuff nose. (How can a nose be runny and stuffy at the same time?!)

Photo: Kate Rose

So when you’re just feeling “meh” and not in the mode to do anything, let alone Get Shit Done, what do you do? Sometimes it only take one little thing to get my up and at ’em. Sometimes I start with the chocolate for breakfast and have to work my way all the way through to playing mental games. How do you get motivated and focused?

Disclaimer: This post was sponsored by Amazing Grass. All opinions are my own. I truly appreciate all of the brands that support the Sweat Pink community.

 

You Might Also Like

Happy belly, happy life

By September 20, 2017 balanced lifestyle, Musings

Health is one of those things we definitely take for granted. Whether it’s injury or illness, it’s never fun when something takes us out of the game.

I was sick for about a year and a half in high school.

Fall of my sophomore year in 2005 I somehow got a bacteria called H. pylori. A lot of people apparently have this bacteria and just don’t demonstrate symptoms. However, I had severe stomach cramps and nausea. And no, I was not pregnant. I was treated with medication, and voila, cured.

Starting in January of my sophomore year the symptoms H. pylori caused the previous fall returned, but with no bacteria. So ensued a month of many, many, many doctors, medications, tests, changes to my diet, and anything else we could possibly try to make me and my tummy happy. And no, I was not pregnant. (I had to answer this question a lot.)

We tried everything we could, and finally returned to the gallbladder specialist. April of 2005 at one of many medical test appointment, I was given an enzyme to make my gallbladder function so they could monitor me. Nothing looked unusual on the ultrasound, but my symptoms manifested. We thought surgery should be a last result, which we then returned to later.

January 2006 I had my gallbladder taken out. I spent one night in the hospital, the rest of the week at home, and then returned to school. I was very sore and very bloated, but due to how non-invasive laparoscopic surgery is, I was able to return to normal very quickly. Within 10 days of surgery I was back walking on the treadmill. And I was symptom free! Though my gallbladder looked physically normal once they’d removed it (not unusual, and no I didn’t see my organ after it left my body).

It was not a fun process, let me tell you. Even though my GI doctor looked like Keanu Reeves. I passed out in the parking lot of my GI’s office after an endoscopy, quickly discovering I did not handle my sedatives and anesthesia very well. The overnight nurse in the hospital was very rude and literally pulled me across the bed to take my vitals. My lunch the next day in the hospital was salisbury steak; I’d JUST had an organ removed people! I couldn’t laugh without pain for weeks, and needed a bar or help to sit up. I missed track meets and field hockey games. I just stopped playing basketball altogether. I went off dairy, and these were the days when soy milk was really the only milk alternative. I flashed my dad.

Ok, that one merits the full story. Due to my intolerance of the sedatives from my endoscopy and the fact that I’d never had surgery before, my doctor elected to keep me overnight in the hospital to monitor how I did with the anesthesia. When I was still pretty drugged up, I was coming out of the bathroom and attempted to show my dad the incisions on my belly, which were covered by bandages. I have four small scars on my belly, the highest of which is right at my bra line. So when I lifted my hospital gown to show my dad the cuts, I looked down and saw my boobs just hanging out. Now, the normal reaction as a girl (of any age, but especially at 16) when you’ve accidentally flashed your dad is to squeal and quickly cover up. But in my drugged state I only said, “Oops, soooorrrrryyyy” and lowered my gown in slow motion. My dad, being the amazing dad he is, just said, “That’s ok honey, just get back in bed.” Hilarious story now, a little mortifying when I’d sobered up.

As much as the surgical process sucked, getting my gallbladder removed was actually a relief. I continued to play sports throughout the whole 18 months, but apparently some questioned the validity of my illness. My boyfriend at the time told me that at a party one night some of my teammates posited that I was making the whole thing up for attention. When you break something, you have a cast. It’s a physical injury people can see. When something is going on internally, especially for a long time, it’s hard for people to understand what’s going on and how you feel. The surgery was my version of a cast.

Some people apparently don’t know what a gallbladder is, either. Not saying I knew exactly what it was or what it did at the time. But enough to not confuse it with the ability to successfully urinate. When I returned to school my belly was still extremely bloated from the surgery. So I wore yoga pants and long sleeved t-shirts for probably a week. When I got back from the bathroom one day, one of my friends asked how I was able to pee now after surgery. I kind of stared at him, and then told him I’d had my gallbladder taken out, not my bladder. I sincerely think he expected me to tell him I had a tube I now had to whip out when I needed to pee.

After all the turmoil, pain, and anxiety of the process, I will never take belly health for granted again. I try to take care of it as much as I can. I unfortunately do get motion sickness sometimes, pick up stomach bugs easily, and just have this feeling I’ll be morning sick 24/7 when I get pregnant. So I have a few belly health habits I’ve developed over the years.

  • I eat plenty of veggies. Fiberrrrrrr!
  • My only real post-surgery limitation is that I need to not eat too much fat at one time.
  • Drink plenty of water.
  • Ginger!!!! I always travel with ginger! Ginger chews are my favorite, but before I knew they existed I did actually take a whole piece of raw ginger with my on my trip from Alaska to Telluride in Tim’s 206. There was no way I wanted to be stuck in a 6-seater with air sickness. Ginger ale is always my go-to, too.

  • Mediation and deep breathing. This one is super important. In the moments I start to feel motion sick, I turn to my yoga breath. Long, slow deep inhales in. Long, slow deep exhales out. There’s also quite a bit of evidence that shows we hold a lot of anxiety and stress in our belly. So making sure to slow down and destress is as important for my belly as it is for my mind.
  • Amazing Grass’s Belly Elixir. This organic mixture of greens and adaptogens contains Moringa, Ashwagandha, Turmeric, Holy Basil, and more, designed for gut health. The adaptogenic herbs are also designed to help your body destress! I love putting it in a morning smoothie. Get 40% off with the code sweatpink2017.

I discovered the hard way that a happy belly makes for a happy life. But now I do everything I can to keep it happy and healthy. 

Disclaimer: I received product from Amazing Grass. All opinions expressed are my own. I truly appreciate all of the brands that support the Sweat Pink community.

You Might Also Like

Purge, detox, cleanse, sparkle.

By September 15, 2017 balanced lifestyle, Local Living, Musings, Travel

To some of us, the eclipse a few weeks ago was a moment of slight darkness and insane traffic on an average Monday. To some, it was a magical celestial moment that we organized our day, even our summer vacations, around. To others, it signaled a time of reset and reflection.

I saw my favorite massage therapist in the world last week. She’s one of these amazing people that drops f-bombs while aggressively rubbing essential oil into my tight shoulders and reading my masculine-feminine energy imbalance. In the past few years she’s delved into the world of the goddess and the divine feminine, which always leads to talk of energies and nature.

We touched on the eclipse and it’s potential significance. We both had similar experiences on the day of: making time to see it, but being glad we hadn’t planned a whole deal around it necessarily. (The traffic in Salem and Madras, OR at 100% totality was NO joke!)

As she dug her elbow into my glute, she told me about the other significance of the eclipse to her, and that it’s effects could last 6 months to a year. The literal blocking of the sun by the moon, the creation of darkness in the midst of light, signifies a chance to turn inward and sift through some of our own neglected, dark spaces. To get rid of things that aren’t serving us.

I’m not particularly religious or spiritual. I wouldn’t say I really stay in touch with the cosmos and it’s predictions. But I have to say the timing of the eclipse seems pretty pertinent.

Travels and feelings

I traveled home again, signaling the beginning of the end of one of the most bizarre summers ever. Caring for my father as my mother and I try to take care of each other, too. Taking some time off work and then diving back in full steam ahead. An insane travel schedule: PDX > ROC > CH > WB > Vegas > PDX > Tahoe > SF > PDX > WB > AVL > WB. All over the span of 2 and a half months. 

I was at home at the beach with my family for the last three weeks, enjoying a little bit of limbo. Working but not teaching. Doing whatever I can do to help, but knowing my dad is recovering well and regaining some sense of normalcy.   

A big theme of the summer is rest and self-care. Taking some time off work to go home to my family. Making sure I’m stretching and rolling after running. Giving myself permission to have quiet time and sit in the sunshine. Drinking lots of water. Spending time with loved ones. Snuggling with Tori.

I feel like I was just thinking about the summer ahead and wham! it’s pretty much fall. 

After the summer that’s happened though, I’m pretty excited to get back to my routine in Portland. Back to relative normalcy and all the chaos that means for me. 

New running goals

I’m training as hard as I can for my race next week. I had a couple of great weeks running in Portland before I left, and was nervous about running at the beach in the southern humidity for a few weeks. Sea level running isn’t going to be the best for getting me ready for the steep Molalla Trail series. 

I’m also just nervous about running my first race in years. After two half marathons in college, and jacking up my knee, I went through a period thinking I was done with running. Thanks to my roommate in Colorado for introducing me to trail running, excellent physical therapy, meeting ultra runner extraordinaire Jamie King, getting my butt kicked in cross training HIIT & Flow classes by same Jamie King, I’m actually excited-ish to be doing this race. For the first time, I didn’t use a training plan. I just kept running, consciously increasing my distances, but at no regular interval, and made sure I stayed active and moving. I wish I could have been running on the trails for a little longer before my race, but sand and humidity made for great resistance training! 

Detoxin’

I tend to live on coffee and wine, with plenty of water mixed in (don’t worry). Of course they’re my three favorite beverages, but the past week of the Sparking Detox has been great. All week I drank only Gerolsteiner’s Sparkling Mineral Water.  Sparkling water is one of the little things that can literally perk me right up on a day when I just feel “meh,” which I know was happening for a lot of us lately. I crave a glass full of the bubbles with a wedge of lemon after a hot, sweaty run– so refreshing! 

Fall cleaning

Before I left for home the first time in June, I took some time for a purge. I pulled everything out of my closet and drawers, dumped it all onto my living room floor (sorry, Caitlin) and weeded through everything. I attempted to be as ruthless as I can, which is really challenging for me. I tried to follow the “if you haven’t worn it in a year, get rid of it” rule. I tried recognizing my patterns: a lot of times I end up wearing the same few things because they’re my favorite. I acknowledged a lifestyle change: I have a lot of nice clothes from working in a restaurant and having to dress up every night, and that’s just not what I wear anymore.

So when I took off for 5 weeks of beach life and Vegas shenanigans, I left bags upon bags full of clothes to sell and give away upon my return. Because of course I couldn’t have handled everything with enough time before I left to get rid of it, too. Now I’m looking forward to finishing out the purge. Maybe even taking another pass through everything, and getting rid of what I don’t NEED.

What are your go-to resources for selling your awesome but unwanted gear?

The cosmos

Oh, and Mercury was in retrograde. Again. The timing of this is just crazy to me, coinciding with the eclipse, summer craziness, getting ready to leave for home again, a time of weird emotions that I couldn’t understand… Thanks, Mercury.

Now that I’m back in Portland, as of 10:39pm PT last night (that’s 1:39am ET on my internal time clock, yeah, exhausting), I’m excited to continue all this purging, detoxing, cleansing. I’m hoping to maintain that element of self care that always comes with beach life here in my real world in Portland. I’m excited to see what fall brings us.

Disclaimer: I was sent product by Gerolsteiner Sparkling Mineral Water. All opinions are my own. I truly appreciate all the brands that support the Sweat Pink community.

You Might Also Like

Goodbye summer, hello fall

By September 12, 2017 balanced lifestyle, Local Living, Travel

I love fall. Beautiful foliage, blue skies, that crisp in the air. Boots and sweaters. I’m from a place famous for fall (Blue Ridge Mountains, anyone?). Fall in Breckenridge was hard for me. Undeniably beautiful…

The seas of yellow aspens are so stunning!

… but incredibly short lived. Fully “bloomed” aspens usually only lasted a week, maybe two. And then bare trees and snow flurries desperately attempting to build a base for ski season, which could last until June.

I love being back in a place where fall is actually a real season. It’s a gradual transition to winter in Portland, something we’re very much grateful for as winter can be extremely difficult.

We’re talking hitting the fall reset button all over the place right now!

Normally, this is a great idea. But for me especially right now I’m craving the reset. This summer has been unlike any other and I’ve been gone more often than I’ve been home, even though I’ve been “home” in North Carolina a lot. I’m so excited to be getting back to Portland this week and implementing some new habits!

Detox to Retox

Summer is all white wine and fresh fruits at the beach.Gimme those hot toddies and steaks with truffle potatoes at the ski lodge all winter long.

A Sparkling Detox is the perfect way to transition from summer into fall and winter! And this week is all about the bubbles… Join me and Gerolsteiner this week by switching out all of your beverages with Gerolsteiner Sparkling Mineral Water. And that’s it! You can tune into the Facebook group to get some great nutrition and fitness tips, too. But other than that, it’s the easiest detox ever with great results. What other detox have you heard of that you can have chocolate cake?

Back to School Shopping

Just because I’m not a student anymore doesn’t mean I don’t want some new threads for fall! Do the kids even say “threads” anymore?… It’s time for prAna‘s new fall line to launch and we’re so excited about it!

I love cute yoga tops for their versatility! I can wear them to yoga and out hiking. And then I can wear them with leggings or jeans out to happy hour! I’ve already gotten tons of compliments on my Filament Tank from prAna, and it’s now one of my favorites I’ve caught myself wearing way too many times between washes.

Jeans are ridiculously hard for me to find. I’m short with a small waist but muscular butt and thighs. It’s a great excuse to either spend way too much on jeans or just always wear leggings. prAna to the rescue yet again! The Jenna Pant not only fits, but has been a huge hit! I’ve worn them an embarrassing number of times already and I get compliments on them every time!

Wanna get some special “back to school” clothes, too? Use the code FALY15 to get 15% off prAna!

Feeling Amazing

One thing that always takes a hit when you’re traveling or even just really busy is your diet. I love starting my day with breakfast; I always have to eat pretty much right when I wake up. I also tend to get into a habit of eating the same thing every morning until I find something new, get sick of it, or have to adjust because I’m not home. I’m not necessarily tired of my breakfast du jour (can you ever really get sick of coconut yogurt, frozen blueberries, banana, and chocolate chips?), but I am ready to mix it up.

I’ve gotten off the smoothie and overnight oats train, and I need to get back on. I can’t wait to try Amazing Grass’s new Elixirs! They are full of adaptogens. Adaptogens:

  • help with cognitive health and mental clarity for your brain
  • help optimize gut health for your belly
  • support radiant hair, skin and nails

They’re easy to add them to a smoothie or even just water for an instant boost! The new Elixirs come in three varieties Beauty (hibiscus), Brain (matcha), and Belly (turmeric).

All week long I’m detoxing with Gerolsteiner. After the Detox is over, I so excited to sip on Amazing Grass’s new Effervescents! Drop one dissolvable Green Superfood tablet into a glass of water and the organic alkalizing greens blend will give me a dose of greens that is clean energy and helps support my immune system (which is obviously a huge priority right now with my dad’s compromised immune system).

Get 40% off Amazing Grass products using the code SweatPink2017 at checkout.

 

Empower Vancouver

I love mixing things up with a trip. When I’m feeling in a rut, getting out of town is the perfect way to come back to my life feeling refreshed, rejuvenated, restored. I’ve been traveling my butt off this summer, so I’m definitely ready to be a homebody for a little while. But for those of you hankering to escape, check out our EMPOWER Retreat Vancouver with Lorna Jane! We only have TWO SPOTS LEFT! So make sure you sign up now (it’s only $200 for a weekend pass!) to get your spot for this amazing influencer retreat!

Disclaimer: I was sent product by Gerolsteiner, prAna, and Amazing Grass. All opinions are my own. I truly appreciate the brands that support the Sweat Pink community! 

You Might Also Like

I’m not ok, but it’s ok.

By September 11, 2017 Musings

Nothing can really prepare you for when your worst fear comes to life.

I just had a conversation with one of my best friends from college about everything that’s been going on. She remembers me saying on numerous occasions that I could pretty much incite a panic attack at the thought of losing one of my parents in the near future. If (who knows, they’re adventurous, they could discover the source of Infinite Life in Jack Sparrow’s long lost cave in the Caribbean) and when they go, it’ll be 30 years from now quietly in their sleep after playing on the beach all day with their grandkids and drinking a bottle of Amarone.

For those of you who don’t know, in December my dad was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. A rare form called “mantle cell,” to be more precise. In January we found out it was Stage 4. It is aggressive, incurable, but treatable. My dad went into remission after four rounds of chemo, the earliest possible timing that could happen. In June, he underwent a bone marrow transplant, a procedure paired with intense chemo that could give us years before it comes back and we have to fight again.

Christmas 2016, before we found out it was Stage 4.

We’re 9 months post diagnosis now. The fight is going well, but still going on. We’ve reached a new normal, hopefully on the way back to the real normal.

When we found out, my dad immediately insisted that I not uproot my life and move home. So I continued on. Or tried to. I had my reaction, which, to put it plainly, was not pleasant, and then tried to continue on. I smiled, found things to laugh at, dated someone, traveled.

February 2017, FaceTiming from Breckenridge (wonder where I get it from… 😉 )

That doesn’t mean everything is ok, though. I totally have moments of feeling truly happy. But the fear, anxiety, uncertainty is always present.

I’m lucky enough that I was able to come home for a month after the transplant. It’s hard to describe this time period, this experience. Being in the bone marrow transplant unit with my dad, who sipped on milkshakes while cracking jokes with the nurses and fought against a ridiculous amount of pain. Not to mention he was exhausted from literally regenerating his whole immune system after the chemo killed everything off. After discharge from the hospital, we stayed close by in Chapel Hill in an approved hotel before he was fully discharged back home to the beach. Our whole world has revolved around medication charts, blood counts, cleaning procedures, and doctors appointments. (I cannot express how amazing our team at Chapel Hill was! All of the doctors, nurses, pharmacists, and staff were absolutely amazing, not to mention literally life saving!)

June 2017, walking in Duke Gardens after being discharged from the hospital.

When trying to explain how I feel and what I’ve been going through, someone close to me labeled it “the vortex.” Time seems to disappear. What goes on around me is covered over by a film. My reactions seem delayed, forced, unenthusiastic, or some combination of all three. Sometimes it’s hard to motivate to do anything at all but sit on the couch and stare.

The easiest times are actually with my dad. Talking, watching a movie, bitching about Trump. It feels normal.

I don’t claim to be experiencing a fraction of what he is. His strength is unparalleled in my mind. Anyone that has someone close to them that has fought the vicious battle against cancer can claim this.

The strength of my mother is incredible. My dad and I joke that this has given her complete freedom to let her nagging flag fly (she says affectionately). She’s organized, clean and tidy, constantly moving, and a planner by nature. The perfect caregiver.

Christmas 2016.

I’m the daughter of a man who was dealt the worst blow when he was the strongest, fittest, happiest I’ve ever seen him. An unfair blow to be sure. But as the doctors tell us, we are able to fight so hard and aggressively now due to the fact that he was so strong when this happened. I was not present at all the chemo treatments, doctors’ meetings, or daily battle of fatigue. But I continued as best I could because that’s what my dad wanted. I called multiple times a week, came home to surprise them at Christmas, again in the middle of chemo, and then for most of the summer after transplant.

August 2017, FaceTiming from Tahoe

But I digress. I didn’t want to talk about all the cancer things I’ve learned, or how amazing my dad is, or how scared I was when we found out he had cancer. I needed to put all of that out there so that what I did want to talk about makes sense. And because I haven’t really put it all out there yet.

What I really wanted to share is what I’ve discovered about how to interact with a friend or loved one going through something traumatic and heartbreaking.

People have taken a few strategies with me:

  • They upfront ask how I’m doing (and my dad). They listen compassionately and offer to do anything and everything.
  • They insist everything is going to be “fine.”
  • They bring up experiences in their own lives that mirror my own.
  • They don’t bring it up, allowing me to talk about it if and when I’m ready to. I’ve had quite a few people tell me that they don’t know what to say to me, so they don’t say anything at all.

For me, I appreciate being asked about it and him. It lets me know that I’m cared about and thought of. I totally get that people don’t want to bum me out or bring it up if I’m not thinking about it. But as I explained it to someone close to me, it’s something that is always present for me. By not asking about, or at least acknowledging, something so obvious in my life, it makes me feel a little weird.

August 26, 2017, Dad’s birthday.

When people just keep telling me “it’ll be fine,” I don’t really know how to react. I do appreciate the optimism, but part of me immediately bristles. The reality is that my dad’s cancer is incurable. And I have a lot of fear. By constantly repeating, “it’ll be fine,” I feel like I can’t express those fears. Any Sex and the City fans out there? Remember when Carrie just kept saying those words to Samantha after her breast cancer diagnosis? Sam’s response was, “[But what if it’s not?] Let me talk about what I’m afraid of.”

I’m a pretty open person. When I can’t talk about something, I say so. So for me, the best approach has been, “Hey, how are you and your dad doing?” To the point. I’ve reached a point where I can talk about it without completely losing it.

But I know that doesn’t work all the time. Everybody handles things differently. But everyone needs a shoulder and some love. So if you’re not sure what someone needs or how to approach him or her about it, maybe try out, “Hey, I wanted to check in and see how you were doing with everything going on. I understand if you don’t want to talk about it right now, but know that I’m here for you and love you.” Or even just ask how you can best support them through this. It lets them know you care without being intrusive if that person isn’t ready to open up. Sometimes people just need to turn inward for a spell, but it’s always nice knowing your loved ones are there.

March 2017, after the first two rounds of chemo.

When I got home in June, the beach was a place of solace for me. I could go out and sit in the heat, the sand, the sunshine, listening to the waves and give over to that fog. I was quiet more than I wasn’t, which is very unusual for me. My body hurt. I felt so lethargic all the time. After months of fighting against all of that to continue on with normal life, I gave in to it. People kept asking if I was ok, not used to seeing me like this. Part of me wanted to stare at them and ask if they were crazy. “Of course I’m not ok! How could I possibly be ok?!” I wanted to shout. Part of me acknowledged that this was just a natural reaction to all of the emotion and anxiety we had been going through. I wasn’t really ok, but it was ok.

Everything that I laid out is totally personal and only from my experience. But the point is to talk to your loved one. Ask what he or she needs. Maybe it’s to not talk about it, maybe it’s expressing deep fears, maybe it’s making jokes. But letting him or her know that you’re there for her in whatever capacity, that you love her, is what’s important.

July 2017, after being discharged home.

You Might Also Like

‘Pura vida’ body, mind, and soul.

By September 8, 2017 balanced lifestyle, Local Living, Musings, Travel

I’m back in the land of #bikinilife. Yup, I’m back at the beach.

As much as I love living in the mountains and truly think that’s the place for me, life wouldn’t simply not be complete without some beach time.

Science says so

Luckily science is on my side on this one. A recent study has shown that the beach does the body AND the mind a whole heck of a lot of good.

Staring at the waves can actually change our brain waves and induce a type of meditative state. Even just the color blue is associated with feelings of calm and tranquility. Blue ocean + blue skies = brain bliss!

The sound of the ocean waves can de-stimulate the brain. The parasympathetic nervous system is activated by both the sight and the sound of the ocean. In our overstimulated world, we are in a state of “flight or fright” more often than not now. The parasympathetic nervous system is what enables us to actually relax and sit back in a state of calm.

Even the smell of the ocean is relaxing. It could have something to do with negative ions in the air. Another recent study says that negative ion therapy has been used at effectively treating seasonal affective disorder. Which of course we know nothing about in the Pacific Northwest (insert sarcastic font here whenever it’s finally invented).

Feet in sand. Sometimes it’s really that simple! I immediately have to get my shoes off and dig into the sand. Some of it might be conditioning over the years, but I know I love strolling along the beach barefoot as the waves wash up to kiss my toes. Absolute heaven.

No wonder I always immediately feel more relaxed the minute I arrive at a beach! It is a real thing. It’s where I want to be when things get hard, stressful, emotional, overwhelming. It’s where I’ve felt the most calm, healthy, and stress-free in my life. It’s where my family is healing.

Lunch time wine always helps too… 

No makeup, hair sticky from the salty air, in my usual Katniss braid, sipping a crisp Pinot Grigio with lunch…

Pure natural beauty of “The Beach Babe”

I truly believe the most beautiful woman is the “beach babe.” Don’t get me wrong, I love dressing up, getting decked out in jewelry, wearing high heels, and getting my hair blown out at the salon. But I think the beach babe is just so naturally stunningly beautiful. Sports Illustrated Swimsuit edition is a thing for a reason.

Some of it might be the mentality of beach life that shines through. Stress free, happy, relaxed, active. True beauty absolutely comes from true happiness.

Some of it is the physicality of beach life. Sandy, salty hair and skin. Waves only the ocean could create (“beach waves” is a sought after hair style for a reason). No makeup. Sun-kissed sweaty skin. Mostly naked.

The only product I use at all is sunscreen. Literally. I’ll go days, if not weeks, between putting any makeup at all on. Most of the time I even forget deodorant.

After years of body image issues, I’m amazed that I feel not only comfortable but confident in a bikini! Baring so much skin should in theory bring my insecurities to the surface. Instead, I’ve found I love running around mostly naked. For years I always hesitated with baring my booty in my bikini bottoms, but spending a month in Costa Rica cured me of that.

There’s an ease of bikini life when it comes to style. Being able to throw on shorts and a tank or a barely-there sundress over a bikini and run around town for errands or drinks or what have you is absolutely freeing and makes things oh-so-easy. Pair with some flip flops and piling my hair into a huge top knot, and the look is complete.

Caught in the act running errands in Costa Rica.

The simplicity of style is so freeing. When I pack for a beach trip, I always throw in run clothes, sneakers, flip flops, one sundress, and a ton of bikinis. That’s it.

Active and healthy living

I’m constantly on the move at the beach. Right when I wake up I sweat somehow: running, surfing, bike riding, paddling, yoga. I love going for a run and then surf or paddle afterwards. And all before breakfast.

Then we head to the beach. I take breaks while basking in the sun and devouring my favored beach reads (ahem, romance novels) of rolling around in the sand and calling it yoga, strolling along the edge of the surf, and swimming beyond the break. I love an evening stroll and beach yoga practice too.

Beach life gives me a lot of quiet time and rest. Constantly reading, quiet walks on the beach, stretching in the sand, watching the sunset while sipping a glass of wine. Sometimes I’ll get crazy and even throw an afternoon nap in, maybe while “reading” on the beach.

I love the food at the beach. Everything is fresh! Tons of veggies and fruit (all. the. watermelon.), fresh local fish, some chocolate, crisp white wine, and I’m a happy girl.

Not to mention tons of water! I’m constantly chugging out of my water bottle. Recently I’ve added sparkling water to my beach hydration ritual. The bubbles are so refreshing after being out in the sun all day! Love a big glass of Gerolsteiner Sparkling Mineral Water with a huge wedge of lemon.

Pure, natural beauty. Atmosphere made for relaxation and stress reduction. Fresh foods and active living. Beach life is the best life. 

What’s your favorite part of the beach? Where do you go to relax and hit the reset button?

You Might Also Like