When I hit a tipping point at Tipping Point, I traded my job and met Fabulous Femme, Ji Eun (Jamie) Lee. Learn why she's just so fabulous.Read More
“Even bad Pilates is good for you,” said my teacher, Brooke Siler. As an apprentice striving to be better hour by countless hour and a perfectionist NO WHERE near recovery at the time, that statement always made me bristle. It was fine for newbies to bumble through their workouts, but why would an apprentice teacher want to do anything less than perfect? [Shrug.]
Ironically, it was during my last apprentice exam that I began to...I'm just going to say it...palpably dislike my own Pilates workouts, especially on the reformer. There is a rhythm to Pilates and an element of strong elegance. As someone who did gymnastics from age 3, played soccer and is an avid runner, I never have been able to “perform” Pilates like my teachers or peers from the dance world. I’ve studied movies made by Joe himself and with contemporary master teachers.
Now, I've done the soul-searching work to understand what skills and talents that I bring as a teacher. Yet every time I put my head back on that headrest to start my workout, I was Tin Man from the Wizard of Oz listening to a mixtape of every criticism from every teacher or every coach that I’ve ever worked with. The volume dial was at 11.
My reformer workouts got shouldier. Instead of focusing on feeling my body stretch and strengthen, my pulse change, and my lungs fill with air, I just unfeminine and imperfect.
Turns out, perfectionism is pretty insidious. When you slay it in one place, it can slither into another. I beat it back with self-compassion in other areas of my life, yet here it was again each time I got on that one apparatus. Eventually, I’m ashamed to admit this: I stopped getting on the reformer.
For the past year or so, I have been a Pilates teacher who won’t get on the reformer. My desk is in my studio; so there is absolutely no avoiding the 86” torture-looking contraption that was, quite literally, torturing me. Recently, I even considered selling it. Then, I wouldn’t have to feel guilty 20 times per day. For a hot minute, that almost seemed logical.
Maybe it’s that pervasive back-to-school energy in the collegiate Pioneer Valley. Maybe it’s the subtle erosion of my flexibility that finally finally got me to stretch beyond my comfort zone. Maybe it was the ridiculous notion that getting rid of my reformer (the symptom) would get rid of the problem (my last bastion of perfectionism).
Today, I did my first reformer workout in a year. I was drenched in sweat. I was shaky and mildly uncoordinated for a couple of advanced exercises. Literally, my stiffer muscles quivered for about 30 minutes afterwards, even in the shower. I did it the vital corps way: heart + smarts + guts, not ego. Turns out, even bad Pilates was spectacular for me.
We all have something that we're afraid to do imperfectly. So, what are you willing to be spectacularly bad this week? C'mon, people, what is it? Dish it in the comments below.
This week, I saw my friend’s Facebook update rationalizing brownies for breakfast. Afterwards, I found myself recalling a session where I recommended that my client eat ice cream for breakfast.
You’re probably thinking, “Kara is bat shizzle crazy.” Before you decide, hear me out.
My client already had an evening ice cream habit going strong. I don’t judge; I just meet clients where they are at that moment. She also had a skipping breakfast habit. Brilliant! What if she ate ice cream for breakfast, but had to include some fruit and nuts with it? And she had to enjoy it. Like really, really enjoy it. Not just scarf it down or eat it in secret. Because she’s awesome (and had already paid for our sessions together), she tried it.
Guess what happened?
It. Worked. She ate less ice cream overall in the morning because she was more rested, more clearheaded and less likely to be emotionally eating. She also was getting in 1-2 servings of fruit and a serving of brain-friendly walnuts. Because she wasn’t famished, she wasn’t overeating at lunch. Because she was getting more calories in during the day, she wasn’t as hungry in the evenings when the ice cream sirens were sweetly luring her to the fridge. Plus, she slept better without a gut full of fat and sugar so close to bedtime. Ditching the no-ice-cream-for-breakfast rule in her head felt intoxicatingly dangerous and way better than the guilt and shame she felt when she mindlessly stuffed herself at night.
We’re all ticketholders on the Halloween to New Year’s Express train right now. You are likely being bombarded by 99,999 magazine articles, news stories and blog posts about how you can cut calories, deprive yourself or eat by these complex, guilt-inducing rules.
Let’s be real: we are all going to indulge a little this season.
So, I want to encourage you to be “bad” this holiday season. Now, I don’t mean you should be hiding in a darkened corner devouring panettone like a junky extra on Breaking.
Savor the naughtiness. When you indulge, really savor the hell out of what you’re eating. Think of a chocolate chip cookie. Can you see the melty chocolate chips and the perfectly crisp edges? Can you smell that slight bitterness of the chocolate or the hint of molasses from the brown sugar before you bite down? What’s it feel like on your tongue? Is it crisp or chewy? Chew it long and slow while taking in every detail. Do you really need 5 more cookies when this one seemed damn near orgasmic? (If I was a betting woman, I’d say, “No.”)
Critically think instead of self-criticize. As my homeboy, Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, “Finish each day and be done with it.” Be creative with your tomorrow. Eat ice cream for breakfast if it means you get a serving of fruit with it. Or, eat veggie-loaded miso soup with seaweed for breakfast because last night’s dinner was champagne and cupcakes at a holiday shindig. Your body knows what it intuitively needs to function well. Trust that more than the condemning Itty Bitty Shitty Committee in your head or some rules that are probably more a product of your parents than any scientist.
You CAN make it through holidays without the bulge, you smart-creative-self-compassionate-rule-breaking renegade. Now, go have some fun!
Yes, I really did just title this “Everybody poops.” I’m not scared. However, I was this past Saturday morning. I had the great honor and privilege to stand on the stage at Jazz at Lincoln Center and greet 1000+ of my Institute of Integrative Nutrition peers. On Sunday, I stepped up there again to receive a Health Leadership Award for my work with budding health coaches. Oh, did I say that it was also being live streamed to thousands more globally? It was.
I was scared.
Just like I was scared two weeks ago when I delivered a keynote address to a few hundred parents and high school athletes at Northampton High School.
By “scared,” I really mean gut-roiling, hand-shaking, adrenalized fear so bad that I couldn’t even eat. I mean waking my husband up because I’m apparently delivering my speech in my sleep. I mean suffering from anxiety dreams that range from the microphone turning into the sandworm from Beetlejuice, zombies closing in on me at Jazz or falling like Carrie Bradshaw on a catwalk.
For someone who coaches people through their own fabulous personal growth and expansion all the time, I was hitting a huge speed bump my own life. While I deeply crave helping others kickstart their most awesome self, I was utterly unprepared for that level of visibility. It just rocked me.
Here’s how I got over myself and got on the stage.
I had a conversation with one of the whip-smartest and most capable women that I know, my friend, EFB. She reminded me that no one wants to see a speaker fail. Generally, the audience is rooting for you.
Why on Earth would I believe that the audience wanted me to fail?
Why is being visible so damn scary to me?
Is this fear real?
I kept asking myself these questions for about two weeks.
Is this thing on?
It took a few days, but I figured it out. The fear was real, except it was more than 20 years old. Way back in eighth grade, I won so many awards at an annual Awards Night that even the parents started taunting me. That was a crowd that wanted me to fail. I couldn’t hide that night.
I didn’t need to hide any more.
None of us do.
Every day, we can either have our fears stop us from leaving our own indelible stain on the world; or we can learn from them. Instead of cowering from them, we can look right at them. We all have the power to deconstruct and examine the pieces of those fears. We can slay them with questions. Every single one of us has the answers inside of us, if we’re brave enough to ask the questions. And keep asking those questions. In the shower. During your walk. In a journal. On your subway ride. Just keep asking them. It’s only after taking a trip to that beautifully filthy place inside of all of us that we can begin to experience true freedom in life.
However, don’t forget laughter. There are times for serious introspection and times to just crack up. Crack up I did backstage when I received a text from my uber-positive friend and fellow coach, Stacey Voloshin that read: “Everybody poops.”
Some truths are so damn universal.
"Do you regret what you have done or what you didn't do?" This is a question that recently came up over dinner with a couple of The Ladies. Honestly, The Universe amazes me sometimes with its synchronicity. A couple of weeks previous, I started working with a new coaching client who told me how they have "cheated death twice." That expression had left me thinking long and hard about living life. I mean really living life.
For those of you who have known me since my early 20s, you probably know how much thought and energy that I have put into really exploring what it means to live life fully. For those of you who I've met since then, let me share. Over roughly a three-year span, I lost two friends, two aunts, two grandparents, an uncle and my father. Some of these people were taken from me September-11th-suddenly, while others slowly succumbed to Alzheimer's Disease and various forms of cancer.
For those of you who have personally "cheated death" or experienced a type of loss similar to mine, we have a truly deepconnection with how valuable life is. I often, somewhat facetiously, remind my clients that we only have one time around on this big ball of mud. Perhaps that sounds a bit flip, but it's a big truth.
To answer The Ladies' question from our dinner last week and as Edith Piaf once warbled: Non, je ne regrette rien. (For the non-French speakers: No, I regret nothing.)
Although it was the darkest period of my life and I still miss those people dearly, I wouldn't trade the experiences. The wisdom that came out of that darkness was purely a gift. In fact, I wouldn't trade any of the other experiences in my life so far either. Sure, there are times where I find myself wishing that I had said this instead of that, not eating the last third of the pan of brownies or worn more comfortable shoes. Let's be serious. Those aren'treally game-changers, now are they?
So, what is regret; and, frankly, should we really give a damn?
According to Mr. Webster and The Merriam Brothers, regret is "sorrow aroused by circumstances beyond one's control or power to repair." Perhaps, I'm oversimplifying here, but it seems to me that we make ourselves feel rotten over things that are done, unable to be changed and likely weren't totally in our control anyways. Now I'm not a PhD in psychology; and I'm sure there might be some reason for this psychological or social construct. However, I'm an ardent proponent in moving forward.
So let's ditch regret:
Accept that there are no do-overs. Remember when you were a kid playing Capture the Flag or tag with friends. If you screwed something up, you could just yell, "I call a do-over." Unfortunately, real life doesn't quite work that way. Apologize when it's necessary. More importantly, stop trying to fruitlessly do-over situations in your head. It's energy that could be better spent moving forward.
Dismiss the Itty-Bitty Sh(!#y Committee. If you are replaying a situation that you regret over in your head, no doubt that you're also being fiercely critical of how you handled the situation. Those self-defeating inner thoughts are like a bunch of cynical critics meeting in your head as what I dub the Itty-Bitty Shitty Committee. That committee is neither useful nor realistic. Shut. It. Down.
Don't be a victim. Everything is happening for you, not to you. Acknowledge the circumstances and take responsibility for your choice in actions. Learn from the situation. The worst screw-ups or situations are often the moments in which you grow the most as a person. (It may not seem like it at the time, but be patient.) Ask yourself how you can handle the situation better next time and what you learned.