Working Out Isn’t About Being Skinny — It Should be About Uplifting your Mind and Body

If working out to be thinner or stronger isn’t your jam, try thinking of it as better mental health with a side benefit of increased fitness.

My vision of women in ballet barre classes are tall, lithe, ballerina-like women in expensive ath-leisure. This is not me. I am not tall. I am not skinny. I have never, ever been to a ballet class.

But here I am, in my 50th barre class. I’m addicted.

I hated barre classes

uplifting your mind and body

A few years ago a girlfriend asked me to buy a Groupon for 5 barre classes. I did not care for them. In fact, I may have genuinely hated one of those instructors. But last fall I found myself in a fitness rut. And perhaps in a life rut.

I wanted to avoid sliding from a rut into something resembling depression (it took me years to recognize the need for this, let alone how to put knowledge into action). I knew I needed to shake up my workouts. I also wanted to find something that lifted me up. Something or somewhere that could be my happy place.

Through Class Pass I tried yoga, pilates, aerial acrobatics, and other classes and gyms.

Don’t judge a book by its cover, don’t judge a gym by it’s classes

Wanting to give it an honest try again, I went to three different barre studios. They were vastly different. One made me remember why I had hated the class years ago, another was just too damn hot, and the third wasn’t an immediate love affair but I liked it and kept coming back.

Four months later I encouraged a girlfriend to come with me. It was then that I realized that studio had become a happy place for me. During class, I can’t check my phone and I’m working too hard to stress about life or work. This is me time that I don’t feel guilty about because I’m building a stronger body AND mind. At some point I started to value the classes because I always left feeling better than when I arrived.

I am happier and I am stronger

I have more muscle in my arms (though there’s still an annoying jiggle). My legs are stronger than they used to be. But more importantly, I have added another happy place I can feel grateful for. I take pleasure in making the time to go to the studio twice a week. I am grateful for instructors who uplift, inspire, and encourage me. They push me harder than I will push myself. So I have learned I am stronger than I thought. It’s a wonderful feeling to make this surprise discovery.

Tips to find your workout bliss

love yourself no matter the size

  1. Start close to home

If you can find somewhere that fits into your drive to or from work, it’s easier to make the time. If you work in a business complex, chances are you have a studio nearby that caters to busy professionals like you. Start Googling.

  1. Shop around for the perfect class

Sites like Class Pass, FitReserve, and offer packages to help you explore different classes, gyms, and activities. If you don’t have Class Pass in your area check out the websites of gyms and fitness studios near you. Many offer a free or discounted first class. And don’t forget about the YMCA– it’s affordable and has a surprisingly robust selection of classes.

  1. Be fearless

Everyone in these classes was new once. They are probably concentrating too hard to judge you anyway. You got this! Really!

To learn more about ways you can improve yourself, join LOVE TV today! 

How Reducing Stress Completely Changed My Relationships

We all live complicated lives working hard and playing hard. But when stress tarts to take its toll, here is what you can do to keep your relationships solid.

Stress sucks. What I didn’t know was that it was tearing my relationships apart. Work stress, health problems, and life seem to have ganged up and attacked all at once. The stress and negativity quickly gave way to relationships woes.

We have to be on our A game for our clients, colleagues, boss, etc. By the time many of us get around to spending time with our SO, we don’t have much left to give. The sad truth is, the people most important to us often get our worst selves. Their unconditional love means we sometimes take the “unconditional” part for granted.

Being in love doesn’t actually mean your SO is going to stick around forever if things go south. I was unhappy, which meant he was unhappy. Things had to change. If you’re in the same boat, don’t forget we’ve got a way to help. Join LOVETV today.

So I did some research. There are lots of articles about how to de-stress. I read many of them and applied what I could to my life. Here’s what happened:

1.Finding the positive meant we were less defensive with each other.

adorable couple in love

When you complain about everything all the time, it’s easy for your friends and lover to start wondering if you’re complaining about them too. After all, if nothing makes you happy, how can they have a shot?

I made an active effort to find the positive, to appreciate it, and voice that appreciation. When I stopped complaining I eventually noticed he no longer said things like “don’t get mad but” or “don’t take this the wrong way.” Simply because I had stopped automatically taking it the wrong way.

2.Vent productively

young couple bickering over bills

We all need to vent. But that doesn’t give you permission to go on, and on, and on, and on about Bob or Phil at work who constantly interrupts you and talks like she’s explaining quantum physics to a 5 year old.

It’s better to express your frustration concisely and move on to more interesting conversation. This allows your SO to commiserate and then learn about the delicious lunch you had at a new place.

3.Create space to recharge

Beautiful young couple is drinking coffee talking and smiling while sitting near the window at home

When I read this my first thought was “impossible!” But then I broke down my average day and started to see where I would rearrange, reconsider, and remove some busyness. Could I give up an hour of Netflix for a long shower or warm bath? What if instead of coming home and immediately starting laundry, I did yoga for 20 minutes? Too much laundry? Maybe you can do yoga (or whatever makes you smile) while the washer is doing it’s thing.

Now when my SO comes home, instead of being drained from going from my day job to chores at home, I’m actually smiling.

4.Find a hobby you enjoy

couple camping

When busyness is causing you stress, it seems odd that the answer is to add one more thing to your day. But the importance and benefit of hobbies can’t be overstated. If all you do is work of course you’re unhappy!

There were two immediate benefits of taking up a hobby. The first was that it forced some boundaries with my work schedule. Sure I could work an 11 hour day but I’m someone’s belay partner at our rock climbing gym, so they’ll have to make do with 9 (or even 8) hours.

And since I found a hobby I could do with my SO, it gave us something to smile about and new fun friends to talk to.

5.Express Gratitude

sweet couple in love

You’ve heard it a million times but that is because it’s so important. Why are you with him or her? Seriously, stop reading for a few seconds and think about their best qualities.

When is the last time you told them this? Find everyday, little ways to acknowledge what you like about him or her. Who doesn’t want a sincere compliment from someone important in their lives?

Stress sucks but it’s also a choice. You can get through your day and feel like crap because you’re dealing with crap. Or you can stop concentrating on the crap, take care of yourself, notice the good things, and maybe end the day with a smile when you cuddle up next to your sweetheart. It’s totally up to you.