Dear Fitness Professional, STOP!

Dear Fitness Professional, STOP with the booze and exercise!

There is a movement, a trend, a normalization that I am seeing. I am seeing it in my social media feeds and within the fitness industry for which I participate and work in. It’s dangerous, irresponsible and just wrong.

Health and wellness is a billion dollar industry. People spend THOUSANDS of dollars a year attending classes and buying memberships to studios and gyms. Teachers and coaches spend equal amounts on certifications and workshops. The CDC has expressed how important food and movement are for overall good health and Wellness Advocates shout from their soapboxes how farm medicine is far better than pharmaceuticals.

And then… there is this trend. Somebody decided it would be a good idea to pair booze with fitness & wellness events; “Vino & Vinyasa”, “WineDown Yoga”, “Vinoyasa”, Pilates & Peartini’s, “Women, Wine & Wellness”, HIIT classes at the local brewery… I could go on and on.

As a consumer, I am actually insulted. As a fitness professional, I am disappointed and concerned.

Here are just a FEW reasons:

1. Whether you like it or not and whether you are qualified or not, your clients are looking to you (the fitness professional) for expert advice and guidance. You are in to turmeric? So are they. You are pushing heavy weight/low reps, so are they. You are serving booze after class? Well, if you are doing it (read: advocating it), they are in, too. They want to be part of the tribe, part of your circle, and cultivate friendships.

2. Booze and your clients. Whaaaaat? Do you hang out with your clients at the bar? Really? {can you say code of conduct and boundaries?}

3. You are excluding part of your clientele. Perhaps you haven’t thought that some of your clients don’t actually drink. Their not wanting to drink might be as innocuous as they are trying to lose that last 5 pounds for an upcoming wedding OR as devastating as their son was killed by a drunk driver. Either way, you are excluding them. Those clients have bought in to your brand. They want to be a part of something. They want connection.

4. Let me address the statement you were just shouting at the computer: No. Your non-drinking clients don’t want to come to the event that you are serving booze. Remember that connection thing? It doesn’t happen when people are boozing it.

5. The story that is continually perpetuated and needs to stop is “events are MORE FUN with booze.” Booze alters your brain chemistry. It’s toxic. No really, it is. You are putting something in to your body that makes you lose balance (see the irony?), slur your speech, increases your emotional response and impulsivity and decreases inhibition… AT. YOUR. FITNESS. EVENT.

6. Wellness and Booze… Do I REALLY need to say more? Ok. A few facts:

a. When you workout, you more than likely will need to replenish fluids. WITH WATER. Booze will dehydrate you. This is not a myth. It’s science.

b. People go to the gym or studio to be fit, strong and stable. Alcohol causes stretching and drooping of the heart muscle. (cardiomyopathy) It also causes poor reflexes and impaired motor function among other things.

c. People go to the gym to lose weight. Alcohol causes inflammation in the tissue and organs. Enough said.

d. You know those cues you give in class? The safety ones. You know, the one about “if you have high blood pressure, please keep your head in line or above your heart at all times”. Yeah, that one. Alcohol can cause high blood pressure. Are you warning your guests as you serve them at your pilates + organic pomegranate martini party?

e. You talk about supplements, essential oils and organic foods and then you are hosting an event, serving a substance than compromises the immune system up to 24 hours after consumption!

7. Liability. Have you even thought about this?

So, how about this? Invite a local farmer to bring their yummiest in- season fruit, support the local juice bar, have a nutritionist come to discuss the effects of sugar or how changing just one meal a day could assist your clients in reaching their goal OR just teach class and be present for your students. THIS is what you should be doing as wellness advocates and fitness professionals.

Stay in YOUR lane, Fitness Professional. The bars already have this one. You do fitness, they do booze.

This article was originally posted on Medium.com and ThriveGlobal.com

How to Start Again… Again.

I just finished reading Elizabeth Vargas’s memoir, Between Breaths: A Memoir of Panic and Addiction. It was truly heart wrenching. She had to start again many times. Reading about it was excruciating. I am sure that living it was far worse. Her starting again and again seemed so brave to me… and I was reflecting how little grace I give myself when in a position of starting again.

You might be in a place of having to start again: a job, a relationship, a project, interactions with your children, food, booze, shopping, your in-laws, exercise. If you think about it, each day is an opportunity to start again. To do better, to give our best effort, to show up, to mess up and start again.

“Fall down seven times, get up eight.” – Japanese Proverb

So, how do you do it? How do you not give up, give in, throw in the towel, and quit? Perhaps one of these seven ways will help:

1. Just Start

Seems simple enough, right? It is. So what that you ate the pint of ice cream last night (in the middle of your 30-day cleanse). Start again. Make the meal that is going to give you the feeling that you wanted to have when you started the cleanse.

2. Look Forward, Not Back

No need to look back, as you aren’t going that way anyway. Being present is important but face forward while doing it. Take the next step forward, regardless of how small it is.

3. Discover How You Want to Feel

It’s important. Setting goals without feelings is a sure sign you are just making a list, another thing to do. When you know how you want to feel when chasing the goal then it is easier to make decisions and be clear as to what is moving toward the end result and what is moving you away.

4. Make Decisions Based on How You Want to Feel

I want to feel free and at ease. Does spending the $400 on clothes make me feel that way? Do I feel free and at ease spending that money or does it not? Let’s say I spend the money and feel awful the next day. Return the clothes. Start again.

5. Own It

There are challenges when we are trying to achieve things, reach goals, be better, feel better. You will find that it is easier to start again if you own the truth. Yep, I drank too much. Yep, I shouldn’t have said that. Yep, I missed that deadline.

Own it.

6. Surround Yourself with a Tribe That Supports Your Goals

If you want to read a book a month because that feels good to you, join a book club. If you want to lose 10 pounds because you want to stop taking that particular medicine, find an accountability partner or group. If you want to cook more healthily for your family because that feels like being of service, put together a Sunday food prep group or include your family in the process. Find. Your. Tribe.

7. Kick the Shame to the Curb

It serves ZERO purpose. And there is no shame in starting again. See thoughts one through six for ideas.

“Don’t cling to a mistake just because you spent a lot of time making it.” – Unknown

You can start again at any time. It doesn’t have to be a Monday or January. It can be 2:14 p.m. on a Thursday. Remember, there may be many opportunities to start agains. For me, I would rather start again than quit.

If you have a chance, read Elizabeth Vargas’s book. You don’t have to be an addict or recovering alcoholic to get something from it. Don’t give up before the miracle happens. Change course, try again, dust yourself off, keep moving forward.

You got this.

7 Ways to Fill Your Bucket of Happiness

My son is five. He goes to a wonderful Montessori school with amazing teachers and a rich program. I love how they get the children excited about different subjects. Recently, they read a book called Have You Filled a Bucket Today?: A Guide to Daily Happiness for Kids. We got the book and are reading it at home. In a nutshell, it’s about being kind, being mindful of others, and filling other’s buckets throughout the day and watching yours fill, too. And how to not be a dipper!

We go about our lives doing. At the end of our day, we check off the things we got done: the errands we ran, the meals we cooked, the exercise classes that we took, the kid’s activities, walking the dogs, planning for tomorrow. But where does that leave us? For me, the answer is often unfulfilled. I say “yes” to things that fill others’ buckets but not my own. I spend time with people that are, sometimes, bucket dippers. They take and take and take.

How do I want to feel at the end of the day? How do you want to feel at the end of the day? I want to feel connected and free and inspired. I want my bucket full and I want to fill other’s buckets. What about you?

When I started paying attention to the simple ideas of bucket filling and how I wanted to feel, I came up with these seven questions:

  • Who am I aligning myself with? Who are my friends? Do they fill my bucket? Do I want to fill theirs?
  • What things am I saying “yes” to that are not filling my bucket, but are actually draining it?
  • What things am I putting on the back burner that really would be bucket fillers for my bucket and someone else’s?
  • Whose bucket did I fill today?
  • When I went to bed last night, how full or empty was my bucket?
  • When I make decisions about food, people, and activities, do I feel inspired, connected, and free?
  • Sometimes, life requires me to do *adulting.* How can I feel connected, free, and inspired while doing those things?

Take some time to answer these questions for yourself. I have found that the best way to do this type of inquiry is by also doing yoga. You could take a run or brisk walk, but you are going to need your journal and that might be cumbersome. It is important to get out of your head. Physical movement and focused breathing help this.

Here are seven yoga poses that you can hold for three to five minutes each while you do this inquiry. Pair each question with the shape below. Breathe. Journal in between shapes. Take your time. Perhaps you only get to do three postures today—three questions. That’s OK. It’s not a race—it’s an inquiry.

  • Child’s Pose
  • Caterpillar
  • Reclined Bound Angle
  • Reclined Twist
  • Supported Bridge
  • Heart Opener with bolster or pillow
  • Legs up the wall
  • Savasana

This inquiry isn’t to be done once. It’s ongoing. It’s about being flexible, evolving, growing, and forever being a kindergartner. Now, go fill some buckets and don’t forget yours!

This article was originally published on Yoganonymous.

Stop Asking for Permission in ONE Step

I was recently sprawled out on a bamboo floor in a yoga studio COMPLETELY beside myself. My friend, mentor and yoga teacher watching in complete amusement.

I kept shouting “Who am I and What the F$%K am I doing?”

Potentially, this (not EXACTLY this) but this situation has never happened to you. You have floated through life taking inventory of who you are;  High School graduation, College graduation, Marriage, Children, Divorce, Death, Sobriety, Turning 40. You have stopped, evaluated, adjusted and moved on.  If so, this article is not for you… but please pass it along to a friend in need.

For the rest of us…

The culmination was the meltdown on the bamboo floor but there were a few signs before the meltdown; questions and angst and sickness.   THEN the meltdown and subsequent realization. The realization was that I was seeking permission and approval in many aspects of my life, not just a few.  And this was bothersome as I am not one to ask for permission or seek approval, from anyone.

This was SNEAKY; a simple, benign question like “do you like my hair?” wasn’t simple at all.  I was seeking approval of how it currently looked and then maybe ask “what do you think about this style?” again, not for an opinion but permission to cut it a different way, the way I wanted but was seeking approval to do it. UGH!  This was also happening in my parenting style, my marriage, where I work out, my clothing choices and my career.  I had lost my way and was looking externally for all the answers, never considering myself.

After some thought, time and talking, I realized that the angst, the being uncomfortable was ultimately coming from change; change in career, change in parenting, change in friends, change in lifestyle.  I hadn’t given much thought to my roll / my authentic voice in any of these things; change was just happening and I was just along for the ride.

There has be a TON of change in the last 8 years of my life.  I got sober, I got married, I bought a house, I had a child, I started and stopped and started again new careers and I just completed 6 months of intense teacher training.  Who I was 8 years ago, is not who I am today. Who I was 8 months ago isn’t who I am today.  And somehow, along the way, I forgot to completely check in with myself, to make a few inquiries and potentially some adjustments.

When I first got sober, I made changes and adjustments.  There were some obvious things that had to change in order for me to live a sober life.  So, my community had to change and I had to find things that I liked to do that did not include wine glasses and bars.  I became passionate about other things than happy hour and wine tastings. But since then, close to nothing. Limited personal inventory. No checking in. Very few adjustments. And A LOT has happened!  {see above} Additionally, until recently, I didn’t realize that I needed to check in with something other than my thoughts. i.e. Body, Heart, Soul.

So, I have come to one (kinda) step to freedom from this craziness. You just need to answer ONE question.

1.  WHO are you?

The title of this article is a bit deceiving.  Although there is only one question, it has a few “sub questions.”  {Sorry.  That would have been too long of a title.}

So…

1.  Who are you?

1a. What are you passionate about? What do you like to do? What are you devoted to?

1b. Are you living in accordance with WHO you are today or are you limiting yourself by NOT living in accordance with who you are and what you are passionate about?

1c.  Do you have a tribe that is in line with who you are?  Who do you connect to?  Do you make time to connect?  Are you including yourself when connecting?

1d. What permission do you need to grant YOURSELF?

1e.  What discovering and uncovering needs to be done so that you can THRIVE?

When I took the time to be rigorously honest about the above questions and write down the answers (thinking them in your head doesn’t work, I assure you.) things got clear REALLY fast.

Clarity looks like this for me:

I live in a hot climate.  I am athletic and busy chasing a 4 year old and balancing a career.  I am 46.  I want short hair.  I like short hair.  I want blonde hair.  I also like iced coffee and wandering around Hobby Lobby.  I like sharing my path to sobriety in order to help others live their best selves. I like my dogs and binging on Netflix.  I like the ocean and getting lost in books.  I like good food that nourishes my body and I dislike that it takes effort to cook but chicken nuggets from Jack in the Box is not my jam. I have heartfelt beliefs that everyone should have the choice to love whoever they want.  I despise hate.  I love the zoo. I love animals and would rescue all of them if someone would gift me some land… a lot of it.  I love my tribe.  I love the connection and the vulnerability and the authenticity and the rawness of it all.  I love love love my son.  I love his little dimply hands and the way he winks at me with both eyes.  I love watching the world through his lens. I love living my “brutiful” life. I need and want to continue to evolve and grow and be the best version of myself and also give myself permission to have bad days.

“I was asking for permission and approval because I was trying to find who I am in others rather than look within. It’s not as if the answers had evaporated, that they disappeared and I was just a body walking around (or lying on a yoga studio floor). I had them. I just wasn’t listening. I stopped asking.

My body had to go in to absolute revolt before I actually paid attention;  anxiety, being uncomfortable in my own skin, laryngitis and strep throat (x’s 2),  pressure in my chest and heart. And there was always this soft voice saying “you aren’t doing what you are supposed to be doing”.  And then ultimately, the bamboo yoga floor.

You don’t need permission or approval from anyone other than yourself. You don’t need to get laryngitis and strep throat in order to find and speak your voice.  Find out who you really are. Surround yourself with a tribe that will support you being you. You don’t need to stay stuck and search via other people to find your own voice and answers.  You have them already.

Life is in session.  Things are ever changing whether you like it or not.  Continue to ask yourself the hard questions. Never stop asking them. Allow the answers to change as you do.

7 Ways to Create Post Vacation Bliss

What I have discovered is that it *is* possible to live in the “zen bubble” of Wanderlust in our every day lives but it takes work and self-awareness and presence and purpose.  It won’t just happen on its own.  We are in charge of our own peace, our own zen, our own Wanderlust.

I have been back from Wanderlust Squaw Valley for a week and was listening to MC Yogi, looking through pictures and notes and feeling excited and envious of those attending the rest of the summer’s festivals.  Wanderlust is a *must* if you are in to music, good food, yoga, friends, beautiful venues, a body of people hell bent on making our world a better place and a little shopping.  ((wink wink))

Prior to getting sober, I would never had attended this type of festival.  I was fearful, self-conscious, uncomfortable and downright judgmental.  I would have had my unfounded opinions, my contempt prior to investigation and feelings of “less than”.  And I am not sure that I would have attended Wanderlust the first year of my sobriety, either.  But the longer I am sober, the longer I am connected to myself and my life and others, the more I am willing to be *daring*! And going to Wanderlust, for me, was D-A-R-I-N-G!

And like most things that I am totally freaked out about and do anyway, I find out there was nothing to freak out about and that Wanderlust ROCKS and I kick myself in the arse for not experiencing this sooner… and then I get over myself and marvel in the glory of it all.  Same thing happened to me (over time) when I got sober.  Nothing to freak out about; self-awareness is a good thing, presence is beneficial, dancing is actually fun and not having a hangover is a total bonus.

7 things we can do every day to create our own Wanderlust: 

1.  Embrace change.
I have operated for the majority of my life under the assumption that change is bad and that I must try to control as much as possible to not allow that to happen.  Yes, I know, silly.  I see change as evolving and fluid and happening all the time.  Change of scenery, change your mind, change your location, change your job, change what you eat, change your marriage, change your general way of living.  And guess what?  You can always change back.  Change is constant and fluid and always happening; embrace it, get on the change train or spend your life pushing against it.

2.  Try New Things.
I had never been to a Kundalini class.  I had no idea what I was getting in to but we jumped in with both feet; got in to the front row and then proceeded to dance around a tent, with our eyes close, shaking every body part imaginable with 400 other people for 24 minutes. Want to smash your ego?  Kundalini is the class for you.  I enjoyed the festival *that* much more after I took two Kundalini classes from Gurmukh.  ((Staring in to your friends eyes and chanting while holding hands for 35 minutes will do that)).

Go to the front of a class with 600 people.  You won’t regret it.  Dance like no one is watching.  Participate in classes that challenge you emotionally and physically.  There are 200 to 600 people getting their groove on in your class…  they don’t care if your alignment is right or if your earrings match your spandex.  They are drinking in the moment… not paying attention to you. Go to a meeting, sit in the front row.  This is your sobriety, your recovery, your life.  No one is watching you, they are taking care of themselves, they are holding on to their recovery.

3.  Dance.
At Wanderlust, there is music everywhere.  You have an opportunity to dance all day.  Take advantage.  And when you get home from your trip, load up your Spotify account with all the artist you saw and dance.  Dance in your car, dance in your kitchen, dance in the shower, just dance.  Close your eyes, take yourself back to the front row of your MC Yogi and DJ Drez class with your besties on either side of you and dance.  Your Soul will thank you.

4.  Eat well.
You will be hard pressed to find anything processed at Wanderlust.  Smoothies, and bowls and vegan deliciousness abound.  Curry and coffee and Kombucha.  Try it all.  Check out the local favorites.  Savor each mouthful, each conversation, the buzz all around you.  Do the same as you walk the recovery path.  Cigarettes and caffeine and your smartphone are just other distractions, other addictions other things that take you away from *you*.  Eat a good meal.  Drink water.  Slow down.

5.  Write it Down.
Keep a journal.  Things are said. Nuggets that you think that you will remember but you won’t unless you write it down.  They will change you.  They will change others when they hear it.  Doodle.  Write down how you felt after a class.  Write down how you feel as you leave to go home. Write down the sights and the smells and the beautiful sunrises and sunsets.  Write down the themes and the stories and the connected-ness of 10000 people.  Write it down.

I never wanted to do this.  Not while using and not in early sobriety.  I was *afraid* of someone actually seeing my thoughts.  I, apparently, got over this. ((wink wink)).  It’s cathartic.  Write it down and burn it if it makes you feel better but write it down, write it *all* down.

6.  Rest.
Nap in the afternoon sun.  Close your eyes and really rest in savasana.  Stay in bed another 45 minutes. Get an iced coffee in the Wanderlust tent and sit on the comfy cushions and rest.  Be still, even for just a few minutes.

Stay a minute or two longer in the meetings you attend or come a bit early and chat with the person pouring the coffee.  Baby steps.  Look them in the eyes.  Keep it simple.  Smile.

7.  Take what you need and leave the rest.

At Wanderlust and in recovery, you will come across some things that really stick with you and some things that really just don’t.  That’s ok.  But take it all in.  Then take what you need home.  The other stuff you may want later… or not.  Notice what you are in judgement of, notice what makes your heart and soul sing.  Take it all in.

Wanderlust and life and recovery within both of those things is a journey.  Seasons change, we change, circumstances change. I really did my best to be present for those 5 days.  To embrace all of my emotions, to rest and to take note.  I embraced my friends and the meals that we had together and the absolute belly laughter and all that we experienced.  I didn’t need my smart phone to capture everything.  Although much has been erased from mind after years of drinking, my week at Wanderlust is not one of them.; the freedom and the joy and the smells of a cool, alpine summer evening.  I can’t wait to get back.

What is your next adventure?  Where are you going to sit in the front row? Where are you going to be more present?  I can’t wait to hear.

 

Why *YOU* need Yoga Fusion

What do YOU think when you hear the word YOGA?

Do you think chanting, burning incense and people doing really contorted things with their bodies??? Well, those things MAY be true in some yoga studios but not at a Yoga Fusion class!

Yoga For Golfers utilizes the force of gravity against your own body weight, creating weight bearing, strength building exercises as well as flexibility. This process assists the body to move easily through a full range of motion. In addition to gravity, breathing awareness and use of the breath are the fundamental practices of yoga as well as any fitness activity. Proper breathing improves the quality of the poses by increasing the blood flow to the muscles, body temperature and improving endurance.

Rotational sports, at their foundation, are the same (baseball, tennis, golf, etc.); the intentional and dynamic movement of the body in three planes of motion the frontal plane (side to side), the sagittal plane (flexion & extension front to back), and the transverse plane (rotation). At Alexandrite (as a Level II certified Yoga For Golfers instructor) I am teaching a unique and proprietary methodology developed by Katherine Roberts. This cutting edge methodology is a blend of yoga, dynamic exercise using body weight and Versa Bands as well as powerful functional motion. The goal is to drive improvement, in performance, from the first tee to the last putt. YFG focuses on achieving body symmetry, balance and alignment throughout the swing to increase power as well as enhancing flexibility and core development to improve mobility, strength, power and endurance.
Did you know that for every 1mph you gain in your golf swing, you will achieve approximately 2.3 yards? In addition to more yardage, you will also get more out of your game. How many rounds do you take 3 holes to warm up and then collapse on the last three holes? This is a common occurrence. YFG will prepare your body to play from the first tee and facilitate endurance so that you can finish your round without being exhausted or hurt.
There is NO yoga experience necessary. Class starts with a rotational assessment, dynamic warm up, standing exercises, balance exercises, core work and then rest! Safety is always first and foremost in my class. There are ALWAYS modifications so that each person has their own successes in class.
Jen Yockey is a Class A member of the LPGA T&CP Division, 200RYT, Yoga Alliance, Yoga For Golfers, Level II Certified Instructor, C.H.E.K. Golf Biomechanic, Mother of 1 rambunctious boy and 2 rescued pups. She teaches Yoga Fusion at Alexandrite on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 9:00am. www.yogawithjenyockey.com | 760.219.7953 | jennifer.yockey@hotmail.com

The Secrets to Finding Connection

I recently finished my 200RYT.  I spent 6 months with 21 amazing people.  This certification is the first of its kind; Life Coaching + Restorative Yoga.  That being said, the bond, the connection that was created during the six months was significant.  In order for us to better serve others, to help others heal, we had to heal ourselves.  You can’t give away what you don’t have…

As we gathered around for dinner that last evening, we all had a giggle about how little we knew about each other’s “minutia”.  Our souls are forever bonded and that, in and of itself, is powerful and enough.  But the mind started to ask “What does your husband do for a living?”  “Where did you go to college?”  “Do you own anything other than yoga pants?”… (wink. wink.)  And then we continued to laugh about how all of that doesn’t matter.  That what we know is plenty and full and lovely.  That Soulful Connection is so powerful. More powerful than minutia.

Perhaps you have had that “feeling” before.  You meet someone and immediately feel connected, without “KNOWING” them.  Or you meet someone and you immediately know that you DON’T want to know them, something is off and doesn’t “feel right”.

We have connections with people, places and things.  With our kids, our partners, our siblings, our parents, our friends.  We have connection with ourselves and our emotions (or not).  We have connections with things that don’t serve us, that actually create disconnection; food, booze, shopping, social media, being “busy”.  These “connections” are buffers from things we don’t want to feel, see or know.

Some connections are profound and defy words and some are deeply crushing.

For this week, be curious about these four things:

1.  Your body.  Are you connected to it?  Can you feel your heart open? (like when you see a really cute puppy) or feel it close? (when you see someone that has hurt you or scares you.)

2.  What do you “do” when you have strong “connected” or “disconnected” emotions?  Can you sit with your sadness, joy, anger or do you disconnect by overeating, shopping, watching tv, adding to your already busy calendar or drinking?

3.  If you want to have and show empathy, receive and give love, and want to be SEEN and be a witness to others, to have CONNECTION…  we have to be vulnerable, we have to feel, we have to remove the mask.

4.  You have the inalienable right to choose your friends, your intimate relationships, your connections.  You have the right to make changes when those relationships are hurtful or toxic, regardless of proximity.  You don’t have to remain connected to someone or something just because that is the way you have done it in the past OR you were taught “that you should”, OR that “it’s for the best” OR that is “what we do”.

You are a beautiful Soul.  You are enough.  You are powerful.  Be Connected.