Valentine’s Day, How Do I Hate Thee?

 

We are honored to repost Karen Bigman’s article for our Valentine’s post this year.  I have known Karen for a while now, and I have really enjoyed getting to know her and her business, The Divorcierge.  I know many women who have felt lost after the end of their marriage – or any relationship – and Karen has shaped her career helping newly single women find their footing again.

Being single during Valentine’s Day is rough, and constant reminders of love and relationships can make any of us feel isolated. I personally think of Valentine’s Day as a celebration of connection, and some of my deepest connections lie with my amazing female friendships.  My friends have helped me through all aspects of my life, and I’m not sure I could have survived New York City  – or many of the events last year – without them.

Launching a Valentine’s challenge featuring friendship made perfect sense for us this year.  Doing a challenge with friends can help you work harder, remain more accountable to your fitness schedule, and have more fun in class.  As Karen writes below, leaning on friends can be especially helpful when you are surrounded by the pressures of Valentine’s festivities.  Check out Karen’s website here.  And in the meantime, take some time taking care of yourself over Valentine’s Day.  If you don’t have a Valentine, consider making a special date with friends who make you feel like the great catch you are. And also consider signing up for our challenge. You’ll have a blast, and probably make more friends along the way!

~Mahri

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Valentine’s Day, How Do I Hate Thee?

by Karen Bigman, reposted and revised from February 14, 2015

How do I hate Valentine’s Day? Let me count the ways. Every year this ‘Hallmark’ made day takes on the significance of a religious holiday. For those in a relationship, there’s pressure to make it special, to buy roses or make a special meal or get engaged. For those who are single and just beginning to rebuild their life, it’s one of the most depressing days of the year. All you see around you are ads for ‘special menus’ of oysters and champagne or ‘perfect gifts’ that you know he/she’ll love.

I am single and freshly divorced this year. I’d like to crawl into a cave and come out on February 15th. My mother always said there’s Mother’s Day and Father’s Day because every other day is kid’s day. Shouldn’t a relationship be loving and romantic everyday? Why do we only have one special day? Why do we put so much meaning into this made up holiday? And if it’s not that significant to me, why does it hurt so much to be alone?

I got divorced after 25 years hoping to find a partner that would be compatible with me in so many ways. Intelligent, warm, emotionally intelligent, financially successful, kids out of the house, interested in travel, exercise, cooking, restaurants, fashionable, handsome, etc. If you look on dating sites, just about every guy looks exactly like that and likes walks on the beach, making out, romancing you blah blah blah. Why haven’t I found him yet?

There are so many “supposed to’s” when we are dating. We aren’t supposed to respond too quickly or too eagerly. We’re supposed to pretend that we don’t really like the person and that we’re too busy to meet to close to the inquiry. As women, we’re not supposed to ask the men out. With all this feminism you’d think that the male ego might’ve shrunk a bit, but there are still rules.

We want to dress sexy but not too provocative. Enticing enough to get interest but also in a way to show distance. We can never be sure he is who he says he is so we have to ‘google’ him before we go on a date. Then we find out too much information and there’s no mystery since we know everything before the date.

This year, I made sure to make a ‘date’ with my girlfriend for February 14th, she will be my ‘Valentine’. We’re going to go out and have fun, somehow, somewhere. We’ll likely compare notes on failed relationships and crazy dates and have a few drinks and a few laughs and then we’ll go home, alone. No roses, no chocolate, no pressure.

I have some amazing friends and honestly, they are the best company I could have right now. I’m working hard on enjoying Valentine’s day everyday with what should be the most important love of my life-me!

Tips for getting through V-day

 The most important thing to note for any day that is a symbolic in some negative way is that you recognize that it’s going to be difficult so plan accordingly. Waiting for the day to just happen will instill fear and worry in you.

— Plan something to do, ideally with a friend. Try not to go to a restaurant that’s having a special dinner in honor of the holiday.

— If you know you’ll be alone, give yourself a job for that night. Watch an uplifting movie, cook yourself a delicious dinner, do some work you’ve been putting off.

— Go to the gym and take a class. Chances are everyone in the class is in the same boat as you.

— Volunteer at a soup kitchen. It will completely change your focus from you to the people you’re helping.

— Make a list of all the great things about you. Force yourself to write at least 10!

— Take a break from social media. It’s no fun watching everyone you know post about the fun they’re having with their date.

— Take a mirror and smile at yourself for as long as you can. It will make you laugh.

— Have a party with a crazy theme for all your single friends.

If you’re just off a relationship:

— DO NOT go through old photos of you and your former partner or remind yourself of last year when you…While it’s important to let yourself feel your emotions and not stifle them, on this particular day, adding fuel to the fire is not the best idea.

— Create a goodbye ritual for the relationship that’s ended and perform it on that day.

For tips on Dating, join Karen at Dating In A New World, Wednesday, February 22nd. For more information: https://thedivorcierge.com/looking-to-start-dating-again/

Karen

Karen Bigman, works with individuals navigating divorce. After a long marriage and subsequent divorce, Karen started The Divorcierge (TheDivorcierge.com) to help women struggling with their families and finances during divorce and those trying to build a new life afterwards. Her business has become global and now grown to include men. Karen calls on her business and life coach training to offer her clients a unique perspective. She also has a wealth of professional resources she refers to for their help and expertise along the way.  Her education includes a B.S.B.A. from Boston University, a M.B.A. from Columbia Business School and Martha Beck Life Coach training. Karen is a CDC® Certified Divorce Coach.

 

Jane Jourdan of Fit for Broadway: Supporting her “tribe”

Jane Jourdan, creator of the wildly successful blog, Fit for Broadway, talks a lot about the people in her life who have inspired her.  Without realizing, however, she has become a true inspiration to so many people who have come to see her as a guiding light for living a healthy, authentic, connected life.  And I’m one of her biggest fans!!  From her recent e-book to her fun-filled events, Broadway interviews and deeply thoughtful advice, she is a force to watch!

I am so excited to be doing an event with Jane on Tuesday, May 19th that will feature Broadway performers from the cast of Broadway’s Cinderella along with the global charitable foundation, Because I Am Girl.  The night will include a Body Conceptions workout followed by a discussion and talk-back with a full panel of inspiring and phenomenal women, including Jane.  Please join us, but RSVP quickly to jane@fitforbroadway.com before it’s full!

I was so excited to have a chance to interview Jane about her life and her incredible blog…

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We are so excited to be working with you again, Jane! Can you tell us a little bit about Fit for Broadway? How and why did you create it?  

I feel honored to be working with BoCo again! :) I created Fit for Broadway just over a year ago and I can’t believe how much has changed in my personal journey in that amount of time. A year ago, I was auditioning full time and had the idea of creating an online source about the fusion of Broadway, fitness, and health. I originally wanted to call it “A Singer’s Guide to Wellness” and wanted to feature recipes and healthy living tips for performers. I didn’t have much of a vision for it past that. At the time, I was participating in a musical theater workshop and Kristine Bendul (who was in Cinderella at the time) was teaching the dance session each day. She completely blew me away. I remember watching her in complete awe almost to the point of tears because to even say she is a beautiful, wildly talented dancer is an understatement. I had the idea of interviewing her for what had then become my blog, Fit for Broadway, about her health and fitness lifestyle. I thought sharing the advice of a well established and respected artist in the Broadway community would be useful for aspiring performers. I interviewed her over dinner and we talked about everything from meditation to veganism to relationships. It was a really profound moment in my journey when I felt entrusted to share her story in such a unique light. We focused on her artistry, how she lived day to day, how she overcame her struggles, and the intense dedication it took to work on Broadway.

And so became Fit for Broadway!

I feel so honored to interview Broadway performers because, for me, the inspiration extends past the stage. Their stories are full of perseverance, self-discovery, triumphs, battles, and everything in between. I think sharing a very transparent version of someone’s journey is so much more beautiful and interesting than sharing their highlight reel. Also, I think if your health is your main priority, it is much easier to deal with the ups and downs of this industry, and life in general.

I’m currently working on my blog full time and have never felt more fulfilled and inspired in my life. I love events that bring everyone together like our upcoming, Empowering Girls through Theater and Dance! It’s a way to celebrate all of our personal journeys and our common passions. I’m beyond excited for this next year and all of the new and exciting things coming up for Fit for Broadway. Stay Tuned! ;)

You are a performer yourself, right? What’s your background?  

I am! : ) I have been singing my entire life and studied classical voice at Loyola Marymount University. I grew up completely obsessed with Phantom of the Opera and then dove completely into the opera world for a few years. My biggest influence musically has been Anna Netrebko (check her out! She is fierce!) I actually got to meet her last year, which was completely bananas. She is my hero. I transitioned to musical theater about two years ago and fell completely in love with the world of Broadway. I’ll always identify myself as a singer. I’m really focused on Fit for Broadway, and that transition feels really natural for me right now.

What’s your favorite part of doing Fit for Broadway?  

My top 3  (in random order) :)

1) Connecting with readers
2) Hosting events like our upcoming, Empowering Girls through Theater and Dance
3) Interviewing Broadway performers

BoCo is so passionate about empowering girls and women as a company. I would love to hear your thoughts about that, and how it’s a part of your work, too.

I think empowerment has to be the bottom line constantly, in what we believe and promote. This industry can make you very fragile if you’re not ready for it. I think the most important thing you can do is find your inner strength and inner voice and hold on to that with all your might. Even if you’re not a performer, life is full of twists and turns and I think staying true to yourself is key. You can lose yourself in this city without inner strength and an amazing support team, what I call my “tribe”. And those are things you have to create yourself. I wanted to create not just a source, but also a community where people feel supported to chase their dreams. Whether it’s becoming stronger, more healthy, or standing on a Broadway stage one day. In my mission statement for Fit for Broadway, I have key themes: community, authenticity, honesty, empowerment, inspiration, motivation, and support. I try and make sure through my posts, the events, through anything associated with Fit for Broadway, that I’m staying true to these themes.

What’s something about you that might surprise people?

Probably that I’m from New Mexico. 9 times out of 10 the response is “I’ve never met someone from New Mexico!” which is awesome! It’s a far far away magical land that I get to call home! Maybe also surprising is that I went to undergrad in Los Angeles, lived a year in New Orleans after I graduated, and then made my way to NYC. So I have hopped around! But New York is now my home and I plan to be here awhile.

Is there anything I haven’t asked that you would like to add?

I always like sharing my favorite mantra which is “You are enough.” Sierra Boggess is pretty well known for this message and it really is one of the most empowering messages you could send yourself. For a long time I fought against my body, fought against my voice, fought against things that were uniquely me. The more and more I embrace myself exactly as I am and try to become the best version of THAT…that’s when the magic happens. And that’s really all I want to do through Fit for Broadway, whether it’s my advice, or someone I’m interviewing, or an event- I want people to feel celebrated for authenticity because YOU ARE ENOUGH!

Do I Need to be a Mom?

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Do I Need to be a Mom?

That was the question I got a few times from friends and clients who found out about my event with Randi Zinn at Athleta a few weeks ago. They were enticed by the event but were unsure whether motherhood was a requirement since we would be touching on “motherhood” themes. It was definitely a fair question.

I first heard of Randi Zinn through a dear friend, and I quickly felt like I had found a kindred spirit when I finally met her. I realized immediately that she was a truly thoughtful and intelligent person with a depth to her that I sought in good friends.  Randi’s work with mothers came out of her own experience as a entrepreneur trying to find her identity beyond just “mother.” She met other women who were struggling with similar questions and who had not found a support network that really spoke to their struggles. And that’s when her business, Beyond Mom, was born.

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I am not yet a mother, but I quickly realized after getting to know Randi that identity, transition, and empowerment are themes she addresses that are truly universal. We are all pulled in so many different directions — from societal expectations to mass media images to our workplaces.  When Randi would talk about the ways that mothers could get lost between the demands of their family and  professional lives, I recognized that this was an issue present across many categories of women.

Don’t get me wrong – I know that motherhood is so very unique and needs to be addressed in its own right. And Randi is an important voice for mothers, especially female entrepreneurs who have ambition and an identity that can be challenged when they start a family. What I soon recognized, though, is that this was a conversation that could be stretched — that all women could benefit from her insights and advice.  An event focusing on self-care and personal wellness as a source of strength, and creating community in the process, was good for ALL of us.

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So there it is. I told everyone to come, and we had a blast. I was blown away because we had so many different women of all ages and fitness abilities (and family situations!), and there was such an empowering and positive energy.

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I have felt this for a long time, but there is something so bonding about a room full of women working hard together. Fitness in the city can sometimes breed competition, but there is so much opportunity to bring people together in fitness classes. Everyone is working hard for the same goal – and everyone is trying to do the same thing. That morning felt particularly special to me. Working out together and talking about creating community through fitness left me feeling bonded with the group  and empowered as a woman. After all, we thrive better together than apart!

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I have wanted to use my business to bring women together. I felt like this was a great opportunity and hope to continue working towards that goal in our events, challenges, and daily classes.

I don’t want to keep “non-mothers” from ever feeling excluded but rather find more and more opportunities for ALL of us to feel included – no matter who we are.  After all, we have enough pressures and expectations as women regardless of where we are in life. If I can provide at least one place for women in the city where they can feel strong, capable, supported, and validated — then I have done my job!

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Photography (except final photograph) by Michael Seto

Meet Randi Zinn – A Community Leader and Amazing Woman!

Randi recently came to us to do an event together, and I was overjoyed. “Yes!” couldn’t have come faster from my mouth.

I have known Randi for a while, and she is one of those people I admire so much for her integrity, depth, thoughtfulness, and intelligence – both personally and in business.  As a writer, Randi has so many interesting thoughts about the intersection of career and motherhood for women in the city.  She has created a supportive community of women  through her brainchild, Beyond Mom, and this community has grown exponentially.  Her emphasis on the importance of health and wellness for “Mom-preneurs” is especially exciting to me.  I am always looking for ways to help and support women in all stages of their lives, especially if I can do that with Randi!

Randi and I will be co-hosting a fitness and wellness event at Athleta on Saturday morning, October 25th, from 8-10am.  I will be teaching a Body Conceptions class with a live DJ.  Randi will follow with a talk encouraging women to cultivate a life “Beyond Mom,” finding their individuality while embracing the gift of motherhood.  You can learn more about this event at www.randizinn.com.  And look out for more events we do together down the road!

I had a chance to ask Randi more about herself and her background here, and I hope you enjoy hearing from her as much as I did.  We need more like her who can help inspire us as women and mothers, and lead by example!!

~Mahri

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1)   Could you tell us a bit about yourself and your business?  How do you describe your work to people?

In many ways I’m a Renaissance woman- I’ve always been involved in the arts (dance, theater, film, writing) and in the recent decade I’ve assumed the role of businesswoman- at first, by random, un-chosen events in my life, and now, by choice. I was a yoga instructor prior having my son and I wanted to take my desire to help people to a new level- from there, I created Beyond Mom- a community for NYC Moms who seek an elevated community of women also growing who they are as individuals, not just Moms. I definitely attract MomPreneurs but also connect with women who are in transition and figuring out what’s next for themselves professionally and personally. Without a doubt, these women all need community, support, and connections so they can best grow themselves professionally and personally.

2)   What made you decide to start your business?  What kinds of professional and life changes brought you here?

I built this community because I saw a need! Women struggle to hold onto who they were pre-baby and to discover who they’ve become post. They battle to find the time to take care of their body and spiritual selves. I also started meeting so many brilliant driven women in places like the playground and I thought to myself, “these women need to know one another!” So I create events that bring women together in a way that is meaningful and inspiring. It’s definitely my own desires to be a healthy, balanced, accomplished woman who is also a Mother that made me realize how many other women also crave this balance- they just don’t always know how to find it. I realized that I have a set of tools that come rather naturally to me- the ways that I keep myself in one solid piece- to me, these practices come fairly naturally but they don’t to many women- I want to share these techniques and concepts so women have a better chance of being happy and therefore better, moms, partners, friends etc. The simple tools to becoming a Beyond Mom make sense for living a happy, balanced life.

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3)   Why do you think it’s important for mom’s to have a community, and why have you focused on “Mommy-preneurs” specifically? Moms share a common understanding- there are certain experiences and dichotomies in the experience that only another Mom can understand- how can you love so intensely and yet so desperately need alone time? How can you be so committed to developing a little child and yet feel totally compelled to build a business? There are certain unspoken understandings that can help a woman not feel crazy as well as feel supported. Women (despite some ancient rumors) are incredibly generous to one another and generally feel very motivated to help one another- if we champion one another, we are a pretty powerful community. Why Mompreneurs? I guess because I am one, so I get it. But also because I think it’s the new feminist movement. We can’t have it all- at least every single day, but I think we can experience it all, maybe different days of the week. Mompreneurs test those boundaries and see how much they can manage. Inherently, we are all a little crazy, a little exhausted, but so very inspiring.

4)  How has your own personal/family life come into all of this?

My personal life is the entire story! My father taught me how to be a visionary, my husband motivated me to own my story and my gifts, and my son reveals our evolving story each day. I think it’s my karma for the men in my life to help me see the woman I am. This makes me very, very blessed.

5)  What is your ultimate professional goal? I imagine the Beyond Mom Movement as a national (and perhaps international) force. Next level events online and offline, product that is reliable and loved, and a mission that supports women to grow, reinvent, and rediscover their own mission. I view myself as the visionary and voice for the movement.

6)   Ok, now let’s talk fitness!  How does fitness fit into your life, both personally and professionally? I have been and always will be a mover! It’s my medicine! Personally, I need my muscles to work and my blood to move to feel grounded and strong, physically and mentally. I’ve really enjoyed developing my repertoire post baby to find activities that feel good, don’t hurt me, and have developed my strength. As I’ve become more toned and strong, my confidence has built. Body Conceptions has been an awesome part of that- Thanks Mahri Relin and Erin West! Professionally, I take it upon myself to not only be a resource for women looking for fitness that works for them, but to encourage Beyond Moms to find movement that they love. I’m convinced that if you don’t move your body, you can’t feel sound in your mind. There’s no rules, only that you find what works for you. I love to inspire women to rediscover their fitness truth post baby- it’s an empowering process.

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7)   How do you choose your workouts?  What advice would you give new, busy mothers on fitting fitness into their lives – and making it part of their lifestyle? Choosing my workouts has been a process! I’ve tried things for a week or even a few months at a time to see how they feel to me and I’ve allowed myself to let something go for something that feels better. I’ve discovered that variety is key for me- if I do weight training one day, I love doing yoga the next. If I do cardio dance one day, I like to spin the next. I think variety challenges your body and your mind, and that’s what keeps it fun.

Without a doubt, it can be tough to fit in your workout but I always tell Beyond Moms- make your workout an indispensible part of your day- calendar it in like you would a conference call. Use the time you have a babysitter or your husband on duty. Moms often feel guilty for taking time out for themselves (yes, I still have those emotions from time to time- so I know how real it is), but I also understand that I am better at everything I do, if I take care of me. So make it important and stick to it.

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8)   What’s one quality about you that very few people know?  It can be anything! I’m pretty honest so I feel like the people that know me, know me pretty well- but let’s see…I’m pretty silly I think. I have a zany, sometimes perverse, sense of humor, but it runs in my family. My son points at me and says, “Mommy, you funny!” and he usually tells me the truth.

9)   Have I missed anything here? And how can women find and become involved with you??

Women can find me in a handful of ways!

My site is www.randizinn.com we have daily content to remind you how to continue going beyond in your own journey of motherhood.

Find me on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram @randizinn

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Guest Post: Alexa Curtis – Role Model or Runway Model?

The minute I met Alexa Curtis, I I felt connected to her. She described feeling different from her peers in school, knowing exactly what she wanted to do at an extremely young age, and feeling older than her years – very similar to me at her age. Alexa is amazing.  Still so young, she already seems to have lived many lives. She has her finger on the pulse of fashion, social media, and business in a way that is more sophisticated than most people I know who are twice her age.

While chatting about the fitness and beauty industry, Alexa told me about some of her crazy experiences as a young model. We shared our frustration with the way girls and their bodies can be treated in a culture that puts so much emphasis on being skinny. The irony is that “skinny” is supposed to reflect “healthy – but so many girls make extremely unhealthy choices to obtain this ideal.

Alexa posted this story about her experiences as a model, and I knew right away that I wanted to share it. I saw people treated this way in the dance and fitness worlds, and I always believed it was important for girls everywhere to know that it’s not okay. In my own business, I have always been determined to fight these pressures and focus on what makes us truly healthy and happy. For me, it’s not about denying the body – but embracing and honoring it.

Check out this amazing story from Alexa, originally posted at StackStreet

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Role Model or Runway Model?

by Alexa Curtis

“Can you put your hands up for me? Now suck in. What size pants are you wearing?”

“A size 2.”

“Impossible. You must be closer to a 4. Especially for runway, they need you at a size 0 since European designers are always smaller. What did you have for breakfast? Put your hands down now.”

“Oatmeal.”

“How much oatmeal?”

“I don’t know. ½  cup. I put peanut butter and banana on it too. Oh god. That means I should probably just have salad for lunch then?”

“Depends how much you’re willing to lose weight and how quick. I feel bad telling someone your age to take these steps, but it’s just the industry. We need your hips and waist 2 inches smaller, at least. I’ve showed you to a few people and they aren’t interested unless we can get you down to that. I know you can do it!”

“What do I need to do? I’ll do anything.”

“Don’t be anorexic but look anorexic.”

Welcome to the fashion industry. Whether you’re in London, New York, Milan, Tokyo, or any other part of the world, the industry is the same. Young girls look up to underweight models and skinny celebrities, musicians that preach the use of cocaine in their music, and glossy magazines with 5’11 size 0 supermodels on the cover.

Before blogging, everything about fashion and the industry had me drooling at the mouth. I was starstruck with models dressed in $2000 dresses (I have come to learn all those dresses were on loan before the required return date) who had legs as long as a giraffe and cheekbones higher than the ceiling. My parents are both tall and slim, meaning decent genes allowed me to stuff 5 pieces of pizza along with a cupcake in my mouth and still be hungry.  I have an older half-sister who began modeling after moving from our small Connecticut town to New York (under much scrutiny from my mother) and was scouted at a young age by a photographer. I remember my sister bringing home issues of Seventeen and Cosmopolitan she was in, and how my moms face would light up from the sight of seeing her daughter in a magazine. I never knew what sick, life threatening behavior went on behind the scenes.

In elementary school, I was one of the shorter ones. Most kids were taller than me, until 7th grade where my height went from below average to taller than every boy in school (was this the reason all my friends had boyfriends and I never did?)  I was tall, skinny, and unusually pale, traits any modeling agent is thirsty for. Family and friends always told me I’d be a great model, so I decided to send pictures to a few different agencies and see what response I got. I chose an agency and sent pictures of myself in a Lord & Taylor dress that I wore to homecoming, and a picture from an impromptu photoshoot my friend and I staged. The agent immediately replied, telling me I was one of the few girls that she even took the time to email back. My face lit up. After a few hours of intense screaming at my mom and some tears (remember, I was 14 here) convincing her to let me go, I was booking a trip to New York to meet my new agent. A part of me needed a way to escape the scrutiny and sheltered life Mansfield, CT revolved around, and prior to blogging, modeling seemed the best route out.

My parents hated the idea of me going to New York to model. They knew what occurred due to my sister’s experience, and were petrified that would happen to me too. I was never my sister, and we couldn’t be more different, yet here I was begging on my knees for my parents to accept me and let me follow my dreams.

“We can’t really do much work with you right now because of your age, but that gives us a few months to prep you for what you’re about to become.”

My face lit up. She told me London, Paris, Milan, and New York were in my future.

“Let’s set up a test shoot for you with a popular photographer. They are great. You’ll love them. They are based in Brooklyn. Will your parents let you do this?”

“Yes.” I knew they wouldn’t, and that my family didn’t have the money for a test shoot (the cost to shoot with a top tier photographer starts at $400 to build a portfolio, and if your agency pays for the shoot, you’re expected to pay them back, or they will take it out of your next work check) but I was going to make it work.

“Great. I’ll send them your pictures. Can you lose a few more pounds before you shoot with them?” She saw my concerned face.

“I don’t want you doing anything drastic to yourself, but just start eating really healthy. Try and burn at least 300 calories in a workout, or better idea, download one of those calorie tracking apps on your phone and you can put in what you eat everyday. If you have an apple, click on apple and it will come…”

“You want me to count the calories of an apple?” At this point I was laughing. Is this a joke?

“Every calorie counts! Just try to eat less calories than you burn off working out. I know you can do it.”

My sister never told me about this part of the industry. She had secrets, secrets that continued throughout her journey through the industry, and secrets she told me were too intense for a 14 year old to hear. “When you’re 16, we can get you a fake ID, and maybe by then you’ll be ready to hear some of the shit that happens in this world. It’s not all heels with red bottoms and $2000 dresses.” We never got around to discussing most of what she encountered in this industry, though after partaking in it myself, there are words in between the lines that don’t need to be explained.

I always loved food. My parents used to tell me that as a baby, my happiest moment was the first time food hit my mouth, where (apparently) I “oohed” so much they remember it till this day. I grew up in a household where my dad was sticking Doritos and ice cream in my face, and my mom was giving me macrobiotic brown rice and organic chicken. The imbalance is quite obvious. Until getting signed, I never cared what entered my mouth. Adolescents are rulers with no hips or body forming yet (I coin that time in life the good days) and don’t have to worry about what they eat. Kids go to the movies and get popcorn, coke, and Twizzlers, and eat whatever looks appetizing. Remind a 14 year old what spinach is again?  Getting signed to any agency was an immense amount of pressure to conform to an unreasonable industry standard that no 14 year old should ever have to witness, yet agencies sign girls as young as 12 years old in an attempt to prep them before they have a chance to grow into a woman’s body.

$475 to the photographer and a $30 train ticket later, I was on my way to the city to meet with my agent and go to Brooklyn for a photoshoot. I was told not to wear any makeup, and wear basic clothes so the photographer could see me in my most natural state. We took a cab from Manhattan to Brooklyn because my agent was nervous about me showing up to the shoot with rosy cheeks since my skin is pale.

Upon arriving at the studio, a male photographer was giving me dresses to try on (some girls are alone at shoots without their agent and with a male photographer), and heels two sizes too small to squeeze on my feet. “Can you try on this dress?”I was excited. My agent looked excited. The makeup artist was talking about agencies that we could send these pictures to (Ford, Marilyn, DNA) and everything was happening quickly and seemed surreal.

I walked out of a changing room into the studio in a BCBG black ruched dress that was a size 0. It didn’t fit around my waist. I couldn’t zip it up, and at this point I knew my agent wasn’t going to be happy.

“Come stand over here so I can test the light. How do you feel?”

“Ok..” I hesitated to say the next part “but this dress doesn’t really fit me. It won’t zip up the back.” My heart was pounding loudly. I hadn’t eaten much earlier that day.

The photographer spun me around and examined my 4 inches too large waist. I could sense the eyes on me.

“I’ll just clip it. You should work on this area. You’re big here, and agencies will want you much tinier. You should be able to fit in this dress.”

We continued through the shoot, and I couldn’t get those words out of my head. “You should be able to fit in this dress.” I kept repeating them over and over again. My agent repeated them to me again when we left the shoot and told me to try and lose 10 more pounds, and I went to lunch and ordered an iced tea. My stomach wanted to kill me. I stood in front of a camera for 4 hours, and had an iced tea for lunch.

Measuring tapes were being thrown around my waist and hips, industry professionals were telling me to lose 10 pounds, and then lose 10 more pounds, and at that point was adding up to losing about 30 pounds. I was looking at anything to give me an excuse to lose weight and become what my agent wanted me to be.

I used to look at the girls in my school and compare myself to them. If my best friend (who has a naturally tiny frame and is oh so beautiful) only ate half of her burger, I’d feel awful if I ate more, and would convince myself to eat less because she ate less. None of my friends ever had issues with food, which made me convinced there was something wrong with me. This was a neverending cycle of emotions that haunted me upon waking up until I would fall asleep. None of my friends or distant sister understood, which left me very alone. At this point my inner demons were attacking me more than someone saying “you are skinny” could help.

Kids at school definitely didn’t understand this pressure, and I wasn’t in NYC enough to meet models that were my age and could relate. Upon getting signed, I became vegan for two years, with the belief that any ounce of dairy or meat was going to decrease my chances of losing one more inch. I got a decent amount of stares in the cafeteria eating my tofu and quinoa (I always ate the same meal everyday for breakfast, lunch and dinner, which was prepped hours before school) while everyone else ate crappy chicken sandwiches and chicken wraps where the chicken definitely didn’t look like chicken…there were days when I wouldn’t bring lunch because that meant then I could eat dinner and dessert. My mom didn’t want any part of it, and  I was being judged in school, as well as being judged in my work life. My life was in the public eye, and it happened pretty quickly and unexpectedly, meaning a part of me was desperate to impress people whom I believed would make my career blossom. Calling myself a model made me feel much more important than calling myself a blogger, though now I feel the polar opposite about what a model truly is defined as.

“Can I have the grilled chicken salad, but no croutons, dressing on the side, no corn, and can you tell me how many ounces of chicken comes with the salad?”

“It’s 6 ounces.”

I put in 6 ounces into my calculator on my phone. 200 calories for 6 ounces of chicken. That means 200 calories of salad left for lunch.

“Dude, what the fuck are you asking about the ounces of chicken that come with the salad? Are you trying to become a scientist?”

“Whatever, it’s for work.” One of my closest friends looked at me like I had 17 heads.

“What a shitty job.”

From 14 years old to 16 years old, going out with my friends, family, or colleagues was miserable. I used to research menus at the restaurant we were going to for hours, figuring out possible substitutions, sometimes calories, and ways to avoid eating any form of dairy, meat, gluten, sugar, or food that tasted moderately good, in an attempt to rush back to NYC with a list to show my agent of what I had eaten the previous week, which often included 6 oz of protein, spinach, fruit, and 24 ounces of water. I don’t even know what an ounce is. Food went from being a fun part of life to something that was tearing me apart in the worst way possible. Forget burgers and milkshakes, chips or nutella, fried chicken instead of grilled chicken. Life was determined by how many calories I was eating and how I looked in front of the mirror. There was nothing my parents or friends could tell me that would make me feel any different from what a measuring tape spelled out.

There were girls at my old high school who didn’t eat lunch. Some of them weren’t hungry, and some were painfully thin that it looked like something was wrong. I never looked too thin or too “fat,” all of my neurotic traits came from the inside. and were derived around my thoughts. An eating disorder comes in many forms. Some girls make themselves throw up in the bathroom, while others won’t eat for days until they physically pass out.

Breakfast became ½ cup of oatmeal and 1 tablespoon (exactly) of diced strawberries. While my friends were eating sandwiches and fries at Applebees, I was calculating how many calories were going to be in the salad I would have to make at my house afterwards since I couldn’t trust the ingredients in a restaurant salad. Instead of having a well-rounded diet filled with healthy fats and protein, I became vegan, and blamed it on my utter love for animals. That was utter bullshit. Veganism was an excuse for me to eat less, or not have to eat in public since many restaurants don’t offer quinoa or tempeh. Dessert was 1 square of dark chocolate, or Arctic Zero “ice cream” which was seriously from the Arctic because dairy-free “ice cream” is always freezer burnt. My heart yearned for gluten and dairy filled pizza, or ice cream from my favorite ice cream parlor in my town, which is known for having the best ice cream in Connecticut. I just couldn’t eat it.

“Suck in. Suck in a little more.”

My heart was pounding.

“You’ve gained an inch. Are you doing what I told you to do?”

My heart sunk.

“I haven’t eaten sugar in a week. Actually, 3 weeks. How is this possible?”

“Have you been burning 300 calories in your workout everyday?”

“I burn 500 calories in my workouts. I workout every morning and every night.”

“I don’t know. It may just be the shape of your body. Start sending me an email every night with everything you ate that day. Try to eat 200 calories less.”

No more one square of dark chocolate every night for me. I fucked up again. She hates me. Everyone must think I’m fat.

I left that last meeting in tears, with no one to turn to, besides people in my life that knew how superficial this job was, and were telling me to stop pursuing modeling before it was too late. A few meetings after this one, I ended up losing 2 inches, and my agent treated me like I was suddenly this shiny new diamond. But every conversation ended with “can you lose another inch?” At that point, I was physically and mentally exhausted, as was my bank account. My funds were running out because I was taking my own money to travel back and forth to New York, without getting any substantial income from modeling. The last meeting with my agent had me in tears, and I left in anger  to get a cupcake from my favorite cupcake shop. I never returned to my agent’s office, and I decided it was best to stop working with her when I turned 16.

I will never regret those 2 years of my life I spent modeling because they taught me more about myself than any agent or magazine editor could have taught me. It wasn’t until I finally realized I wasn’t going to be the (ridiculous) 24-34-24 industry standard, that I woke up one day and decided to love my body for what it was, and focus primarily on what really interested me, which was writing and having a voice to tell girls around the world, of every age and every size, how to love themselves. It took me 2 years to realize how silly many parts of this industry truly are. I restricted myself till I reached my breaking point in an attempt to make someone else happy with my body, and never gave myself a chance to be happy with myself, until I realized I’d rather be a role model than a runway model.

Upon deciding to stop modeling with my NYC agent, I woke up one day and decided to eat whatever I wanted to eat. That went from whatever I wanted to eat that day, to that week, to that month, to this moment today. My best friends still tell me how annoying it was to go out to eat with me for 2 years. They talk to me much more now.

Food is what keeps you alive. Children in third world countries wait for days to get a cup of water or a full meal, while girls in this country skip out on pizza because their head tells them not to eat it, or a delicious cupcake because they haven’t worked out that day. Parts of the media definitely don’t help this obsession with food and being “thin” or waif-like. Models pose in Vogue (and even Teen Vogue) that are noticeably underweight, giving young girls the idea that we should all attempt to be that unrealistic “glamorous” size. Many magazines have made pacts to only include “real” girls in their magazines, and brands agree to only use healthy, fit models instead of thin ones, but there is still much to be changed within this world. Calling someone skinny shouldn’t be a vocabulary word or compliment in this day and age.

If you ask me what I eat for breakfast now, it ranges from eggs, to pancakes with lots of peanut butter and banana, to a cupcake or chocolate bar depending on my mood. After 2 years of being vegan, my body was craving meat so badly that I ate chicken every day for 2 weeks straight, and now burgers are my favorite food. Instead of stressing myself out if I don’t have time to workout one day, I’ll try and eat moderately healthy and spend the rest of my day eating without questioning ingredient by ingredient what goes in my mouth.

Lucky for me, I never got to the point where I needed treatment or professional help. Some young girls aren’t as lucky, and live their life counting calories, ingredients, and losing out on opportunities to eat incredible pizza or handcrafted gelato. Don’t let food ruin your life. What you see in the mirror does not determine the type of person you are. My waist will never be 25 inches, or even 26 inches, and my hips will never be the size they were when I was 5 years old. I’m okay with that. Let food be your medicine, your happy friend, and something as simple and pure as food truly is.

Read more from Alexa Curtis at A Life in the Fashion Lane

Should I Do The BoCo Spring Challenge? Yes!!!

So – we’re about to launch our first official BoCo Spring Challenge! I’ve been thinking about fitness challenges a lot these days, and I felt like it was important to talk about their benefits here. After all, when people can take fitness classes and try to get healthy every day, why would they want to enter a challenge? What makes a challenge more effective than any kind of “resolution?” And what are we offering that might help people see great results?

Why a “Challenge” this time?

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Since its inception, Body Conceptions has run a semi-annual “Intensive,” a 6-week program involving extended classes 2-3 times a week that everyone takes together. This format is great for creating a sense of camaraderie and obtaining results together BUT those of you who can’t come to our two extended classes during the week lose out on the experience. So many of you have work and other obligations during the day.

We recently expanded our schedule and welcomed lots of you to our classes who work during the week. We also decided to try something different for our spring fitness event. This time around, we decided to give you unlimited access to our class schedule. And unlike our last Intensives, we will be measuring your progress with objective data on top of providing you with some amazing perks. Now you’ll see that you’re truly making progress and getting healthier just in time for your summer beach days – and you’ll be having fun along the way, too!!

Why Is a Challenge Effective?

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We’ve all made promises to ourselves to get fit. The problem is that we seem to be ok with breaking these promises to ourselves. We’re too tired, too busy, too distracted – we give up just as quickly as we start. …But what if suddenly we’re provided real evidence of our effort? What if we become part of a team that checks in on one another? And what if we can win contests? Suddenly the game changes.

We will be putting you into groups and giving you team leaders who will coach your progress. We all know that group camaraderie helps keep you focused. It makes you feel supported and encouraged. You tend to feel pressure to perform for the group and do what you can to help the whole group succeed. Also, if there is measurable data that shows you how you are doing, you start seeing the direct connection between your efforts and your progress. You start taking control of the process and also holding yourself accountable for that effort in a group setting.

Signing up for a challenge commits you to a program with a beginning, middle, and end. You are not promising to make a vague and endless promise to yourself to get healthier. You are essentially saying to yourself, “I am committing to this specific, finite program that will involve a bunch of other people in the same boat and will have very specific and doable steps I have committed to follow. I will do it!”

What if I Don’t Have Time to Take Tons of Classes?

Honestly, you’ll be surprised. We have classes that satisfy every workout schedule, and you can take your classes any way they work for you. You might find that you want to take all of our classes in a row one week, or perhaps you prefer late nights, lunch, and weekends. You can do whatever works for you. Use your results to motivate you to intensify your approach. Challenges like this help you cater your experience to your lifestyle, increase your power and stamina, and potentially inspire you to make fitness a more frequent part of your schedule.

What if I’m Worried About Doing the Workout Correctly?

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Don’t worry – We have you covered!! We will be running a workshop to teach you how to perform BoCo exercises effectively. Our team leaders will also be on-hand to answer any questions or concerns, and our instructors value technique above all else. Even if you have never taken a BoCo class before, you will find yourself learning quickly with lots of support, correction, and encouragement.

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Whether or not you decide to join our challenge this time around, I hope this helps you consider the benefits of joining a group fitness program. If you ever find yourself having trouble committing to your own personal goals, perhaps becoming part of a larger group effort will help you shed your worries and excuses. Who knows? You might also see some amazing results, make some great friends, and win a fabulous in-home vegan dinner for 4!! (Just saying…)

Join our Spring Challenge, sign up though the Classes page at www.bodyconceptions.com and select the Event tab on the scheduling page!

My 10 Favorite Things

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My 10 Favorite Things

Over the years, I’ve been asked a lot what products I use, clothes I wear, services I recommend, among other things. I definitely have my preferences, and it gives me pleasure to share them.

Of course, not everyone will love the same things I do, and different lifestyles lend themselves to different needs. But I feel passionately about some of these picks – and it would be fun to be able to introduce them for the first time to some of you as well!

So here goes!

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1) My Lole Nina Bag – Everyone who really knows me knows how much I carry with me. I live far from the center of NYC and have to pack everything with me for the whole day. All of this means I need to find the perfect bag! The Nina bag has SOO many pockets, attachments, and little pouches. I feel like I can organize everything and find them easily. And the bag is lightweight, too. So I can carry my whole life around without breaking my back :)

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2) My Icy 2 Lole Vest – This is a piece of clothing I have used religiously through all seasons. It has especially saved me during these cold winter days when layering has become essential. The Icy 2 is lightweight, warm, and so cute (like many of their clothes). Although the Icy 2 model is not available this season, check out the Penelope (shown here), which is also a great vest for helping you transition through changing temperatures. I suggest checking out all of Lole’s stuff online – and look out for a brick and mortar store opening soon in NYC!!

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3) Kinara Reparative Nutrient Serum – I was introduced to this product pretty recently by a beauty editor insider. I noticed immediately how smooth it made my skin feel, but the coolest part was how many friends told me my skin looked great. They even told me I look rested (which happened to be completely wrong! Ha!). I think this Kinara product will become one of my beauty staples.

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4) Juice Press Sin-a-Buns – I am honestly a healthy eater and huge lover of foods like kale, spinach, chia, acai, and avocado among so many others. But I also suffer from a sweet tooth and always look for ways to satisfy my craving while staying healthy. Sin-a-Buns from Juice Press are not a substitute for kale by any means, but they have become a new obsession of mine. Made from dates, buckwheat, flaxseed, coconut, and Irish moss (among a few other things), they taste almost like real cinnamon buns, they keep me satisfied, and they’re surprisingly low-calorie. Yup, totally hooked!

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5) Post-Workout Cream/Mio’s Workout Wonder – I just learned about Mio’s skin fitness line during the Sweaty Saturday events in New York City last month. Brooke, the lovely Mio rep, slathered Workout Wonder on my legs before teaching a Sweaty Saturday class, and she told me my legs would feel better post-workout. She was right! This product contains healing and inflammation-fighting ingredients like arnica, magnesium, and horse chestnut… And it smells good, too!

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6) Hair Color with Michaela Murray – I was first introduced to Michaela during the days when I worked for Tracy Anderson. She colored hair for many of the trainers, and I was amazed at how beautiful and natural my hair looked after her expert balayage highlighting and intuitive color choices. Michaela works at the Plaza Hotel, but she also opened a salon in West Springfield, MA called, Wicked Salon. Check her out there – or book her when she comes to New York every once in a while. (Just leave a slot open for me!!)

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7) Consignment Shop/In My Travels – I had to be careful how much I spent on clothing when I was a musical theater performer for so many years in NYC. You can imagine how excited I felt when I discovered this gem of a consignment shop in Chatham on Cape Cod, In My Travels. Janice Kurlychek, the owner, has somehow connected with some of the most well-dressed women around, and she literally provided (and continues to provide) me with my favorite wardrobe pieces to this day. I held parties with my friends in her store, and we would regularly walk out with gorgeous pieces by Prada, Armani, Betsey Johnson, Free People, and Theory at fractions of the original price. Please look her up the next time you head to Chatham, MA. And tell her I sent you!

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8) Networking and Business Matchmaking Guru: Allegra Cohen – I first got to know Allegra through my business manager, Deborah, and I immediately noticed how dynamic, sharp, and warm she was. I have since become close friends with Allegra, but I can’t do a list like this without talking about how great she is at promoting and connecting businesses and professionals– and also raising money. She is the person to contact if you want to grow your business and connect with the folks who will help you realize your goals!

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9) Priori CoffeeBerry Perfecting Foundation – I have not used this product for very long but I’m already a convert! Diana Seo of B Spa Bar introduced me to the Priori brand, and I’ve been excited about using Priori products ever since. The foundation is particularly great for me because it covers what I need to cover without any clumping or caking. And it contains anti-aging properties that improve my skin while I’m running around (and sweating!) all day.

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10) Bite Lipstick – So…I was walking down Prince Street in Soho last month and happened upon the Bite Beauty Lip Lab. My dream come true! I love lipstick, but I always have trouble finding the shade that works best for me. Enter this cute little gem of a store in which a makeup artist helps you blend the perfect shade for you using their custom all-natural ingredients. You can choose how matte or glossy the texture is, and you can also choose the scent of your lipstick and the shape of the container it’s in! I walked out with a shade I wear almost every day. Score!

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Please contact me if you have questions about any of these items – and feel free to share some of your favorites as well.  After all, that’s how I learned about many of these favorites in the first place!

~Mahri

Turn Valentine’s Day Around!!

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Oh, Valentine’s Day… One of those days that’s supposed to make us feel warm and fuzzy – and often leaves us feeling rather prickly instead.  Boo! We can’t help but watch those cheesy Hallmark commercials and yell at the TV, “It NEVER happens like that!”  Well, almost never anyway.  Like most, I hate the movie theater romance pressure.  I mean, I can’t think of many other days of the year I try my best to avoid acknowledging – whether I’m in a relationship or not!

Ok, so I don’t totally hate Valentine’s Day. In fact, I think Valentine’s Day, when stripped of the commercial consumer Hollywood crazy, can be a great day to connect. To celebrate the people in our lives who are really there for us, whether as romantic partners, friends, or co-workers. These are the people who help you feel stronger and happier, who WANT you to succeed, and who really care about both the good and bad things that happen to you. Who love you for every aspect of who you are.

Having said all of this, I will be reflecting upon the connections in my own life and would love for you to do the same.  Grab one or more of those important people and take some time out this week to do some amazing things in the city that truly fulfill you and make you feel good.  Whatever your situation allow yourself to feel great this Valentine’s Day!

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Here are some of my suggestions and personal NYC activity faves:

1) Gotta mention this. We have an awesome promotion with Alex Anthony Salon right now through the end of the month. Grab a friend, come take a Body Conceptions class with us (two for the price of one!) and then head over to Alex Anthony for a chocolate scrub and conditioning treatment. Email me to find out more. (I don’t love using this space to advertise, but this could really constitute a great day that makes you feel good inside and out.)

2) King Spa Sauna. I’ve mentioned this place a few times. Located in Palisade Park, NJ, it’s an oasis of saunas, jacuzzis, beauty and wellness services, and really great food for very low prices. Bring a friend, and pamper yourself without guilt. Don’t have a car? Not a problem! The spa runs regular shuttles from Penn Station.

3) Try Gobo in the West Village. Our favorite destination as a company, Gobo has some of the tastiest vegetarian options I’ve tried. Their breadth of dishes is impressive, and I have yet to meet one of their plates that I didn”t like. My suggestion? Start your meal with their lettuce wraps!

4) B Spa Bar – If you want to give your skin the most amazing treat, you have to try one of Diana Seo’s famous facials. I got one from her last week, and I’m pretty amazed by the results. Her technology is really advanced (something about opening the water channels in skin cells to allow penetration of collagen) but the real test is in the way your skin feels. I’m definitely a convert. This is a great way to revive your skin in this crazy winter weather.

5) Talk. Get together with your great friends and tell them how you feel about them. The winter is hard, and can be really isolating. It makes you – and your friends – feel so good to know how strong your connections really are and that you’ll be there for each other no matter how hard and also how amazing life can become. I am really appreciating this in my own life, and sometimes putting it into words makes all of the difference.

I wish everyone a Happy Valentine’s Day. Enjoy your connections and your pampering this month – and know that spring will be here before you know it. Hang in there!!!

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p.s.  I’m teaching class on Valentine’s Day!  Come to class at Stepping Studios, and have a blast with us!!  Sign up here.

Mom in the City

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This might seem like an unusual blog post for a fitness company, but I felt like my experience this weekend spoke to so many things many of us feel during the holidays.

My mother made the decision to visit me in the city (traveling without my father for the first time in forever!), and I decided to show her my favorite things about the city while also being the best daughter anyone had ever seen, of course. We have lots of similarities in our tastes, so I was sure that this would all happen relatively perfectly. And the weather was ridiculously warm – a huge bonus!

Without getting too detailed, I realized very quickly that my poor mother was not loving the bus ride that took 2 extra hours because of holiday traffic or the long, blister-producing walks I had planned through the crowded holiday streets or even the idea of hanging out for hours in hot rooms at the spa where I planned to drag her. I had made all these plans to impress her without completely taking her into account.

Truthfully, both my mother and I ended up having a great time and some wonderful  chances to connect (and she honestly ended up loving the spa – a wonderful place I recommend in Palisades Park, NJ http://kingsaunanj.com). What I learned, though, was to take a step back. To stop feeling like I had to force things and maybe take my mother – and others in my life – for who they are as separate people from me.  And most importantly, to consider looking at things in my life with a little more humor.

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Finding Perspective

I bring all of this to the page because I can’t help but see these personal discoveries as important elements of my own health and wellness as I head into the New Year. If I’m going to be healthy and fit, I also need to find ways to reframe the things that pull me back in other parts of my life. Maybe reinterpreting others’ actions is the way to go – or also making the time to have important conversations that needed to happen for a while. Or maybe just looking at family holiday adventures with more levity and perspective.

Looking Ahead

I really believe that choosing to go into the next year with fresh perspective is hard but ultimately so important and rewarding. Don’t tackle everything in your life but rather choose one or two things to see in a new way. You will certainly feel healthier and more centered.

We work on strengthening the core a lot in our classes. This is definitely another way to do that.

Plus a few planks whenever you have the chance :)

First Post:
Starting Body Conceptions

From 32 Cute Little Girl in Pink Dances photos set (uncropped) k

Photo by Michael L. Baird

I’m about to get wordy!  Sorry for the essay here – but I thought I’d share a little bit about my beginnings.  Several people have asked me, so here goes!

Women and Their Bodies – Why Do We Hate Ourselves So Much?

One of my earliest “body-image” memories with my mother revolved around the kids in my school who made fun of me.  They called me “shrimp” ALL THE TIME- and in fact I was a good foot shorter and 15 pounds lighter than many of my peers.  My mother told me, “This may feel bad now, but you’ll be happy you’re small when you get older.  Just you wait.”

Sure enough, my genes for small stature served me well as a dancer and as an adult.  But I couldn’t help but wonder, What if it had gone the other way?  What if I had been born with the propensity to be overweight?  Many of my peers had family members who were larger, and many of them struggled with their weight for many years if not their whole lives.  We were all dealt certain cards in our families, and why was I any better because I was small?

Heading into the world of dance and fitness, I have always had very strong feelings about the way we’re treated as women and about the way we as women feel about ourselves in a world of such extreme body messages.  We’re told that skinny women are more beautiful, that overweight women are slothful or messy, that the skinnier we are, the more lovable we’ll become.  I saw dancers hospitalized for developing bulimia after being told to lose ridiculous amounts of weight by their dance schools, and I knew many fellow dancers who engaged in some of the most extreme and bizarre eating disorders I had ever seen.  All in all, they were trying to fit an external vision of what they people wanted to see, and they gained their sense of selves from their successes or failures at controlling their appearance.  I became angry about these body pressures and sad for them all at the same time.  I wanted to tell them to find things in their lives – especially dance and movement! – that made them feel better about themselves.  And to forgive themselves for eating.  Because after all, we ALL have to eat!

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The Fitness Journey Begins

I came to fitness through dance.  A great friend recruited me to work for Tracy Anderson, and the discovery at her studio that dance-inspired movement could also serve as great exercise was one of the biggest revelations I ever had.  I had not completely understood the value of fitness until then (since I had honestly only gotten exercise from dance classes and shows).  I have since developed my own system for strengthening and toning the whole body, but I’m grateful that such a huge, great fitness world opened up to me at that time.

Despite my excitement at discovering dance-fitness, my awareness of body image issues in women became all the more apparent to me – even more than in the dance world!  In many fitness classes I took and taught, I saw some intense peer pressure, self-loathing, and exercise bulimia, and I saw so many women who couldn’t manage to feel good about themselves because they were so critical of their bodies.  And many overweight women I knew never wanted to step into a fitness class at all because of their fear of being judged.  And lots of times, they were right to be worried.

I knew what my own mission needed to be

My decision to start Body Conceptions came out of my observations of different fitness studios and the ways I realized I wanted to run my own business differently.  I worked on different approaches to exercise with my own private clients, and I observed how they got the best results.  Most importantly, I realized that my strong feelings about how to support and encourage all women of different ages and sizes required me to break out on my own to create my own place, my own environment.  I wanted to give the best workout possible, no question.  But I wanted to make every different woman with every different body, life stage, and fitness level feel like they were welcomed, accepted and encouraged.  This mission is an ideal that needs constant work and constant self-examination — but I’m willing to take the challenge.