Tuesday, January 20, 2015

New Year, New Asanas

This New Year's day I was fortunate to be invited to an Inversion yoga practice group at Endorphin where I began teaching in December. Technically I taught at Endorphin before it split off from QiFlow where I also still teach. Being back at the space where I taught yoga every Monday morning and Thursday night for years was as strange as it was familiar. I was a student in that studio before I ever taught there and the City Park location was where I lived basically for three months during yoga teacher training. The space has changed many times but the feeling is still the same. Other teachers were there who were far superior in their practice to me and it reminded me of when I was brand new to the practice. I couldn't do crow, let alone a handstand and I was afraid to kick up even against a wall. Yet, I'd come back every week and get out of my comfort zone and try and fall and try again. The thing with yoga is, you never master poses and just when you think you learn one you find yourself asking, "What's next?" "Where can I go from here...?"

To practice these poses on New Year's day was a reminder to me that possibilities and endless and limitless if you are willing to try and fall along the way.

Yoga reminds me I am strong and my body is capable.

Yoga reminds me just when you think you have "got" a pose, there's so many other places you can take it.

Yoga reminds me to set goals, but then go beyond them once reached and set more.

Yoga reminds me there only failure is failure to try.

Yoga reminds me that you aren't rich until you have something money can't buy.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Would you dare to bare?

“You have to try the Lobster Pot,” my husband says. “Go on, no one is over there.”

At approximately 114 degrees, the aptly named Lobster Pot was the hottest pool at the Orvis Hot Springs. We had taken a family vacation to Telluride and made a side trip out of visiting Ouray for the annual Ice Climbing festival. After being outside all afternoon we thought it’d be nice to soak in the springs before our drive back to Telluride. I got out of the current pool I was soaking in and wandered over to the Lobster Pot. Lawn chairs dotted the property and a few of the other adults there were in them soaking up the sun and reading. This pool was the smallest and surrounded by a wooden privacy fence. I start to get in and as I do a guy about my age comes around the fence to soak in there as well. This pool is barely big enough for two people and despite my initial disappointment of not having the pool to myself as my husband promised I decided to be friendly to my fellow soaker.

He takes his towel off and he’s completely nude and gets right in beside me. Change of plans, instead of talking to him I close my eyes and tilt my head up to the sky. I’m boiling in the pot and my face is bright red and it’s not just from the water.

Orvis Hot Springs is a clothing optional hot springs. Not just clothing optional after dark like the Strawberry Springs in Steamboat, we’re talking all the time. I must have misread that in the brochure but was confirmed of this fact by our tour guide leading us onto the ground and seeing a slew of naked men wandering around. Did I mention we had our 22 month old daughter with us? I pride myself on being open to all things – nudity included and so I shrugged it off as I changed in the women’s locker room. Since Charlotte become old enough to be curious about her body and ours my husband and I have prided ourselves on telling her the correct anatomy for body parts. I don’t believe in making children, especially young girls, feel ashamed about their bodies and I want her to grow up confident and strong.

hiking Jud Weibe trail with Charlotte
Yet here I was ashamed of my body at a clothing optional hot springs.

Here’s the truth about breastfeeding – it gave me for a brief few months, the best breasts of my life. I’ve always been small chested and while it was an adjustment at first, I loved my new figure while nursing. Around 11 months, Charlotte quit on her own and a few weeks later I was left with a chest that looked like it belonged to something out of National Geographic horror and deformed women edition. If I were to be naked in the dark someone probably couldn’t tell the difference between my front and back. I can’t even speak to what my nipples now look like. When I look in the mirror I see something worse than before I had kids and a site not to be shared with anyone outside of my husband (who, like a good man reassures, ‘You look GREAT!’).

After seeing all the men walking around naked, my husband felt more comfortable NOT in his swimsuit. Of course in the pools, the entirety of his private parts were covered whereas mine would have been on display ripe for judging. Now if you know me, I’m not exactly modest and I lost what pride I had in the delivery room with my daughter. I wouldn’t even mind wearing a thong around the beach because I think my butt looks pretty damn good. I’m proud of my legs, my abs, and my arms and I don’t mind showing them off as well. The fact of the matter remains, I look better with a swimsuit on and that’s how I felt most comfortable even if I was the strange one that stuck out.

Now don’t get me wrong, there were women there totally nude who, in all honesty, probably had a lot more to be embarrassed about than I did. Women who were well in their 60s and overweight with parts that sagged and areas that needed a proper waxing. These women were walking around free as a bird not caring who was looking and probably welcoming the attention of those who were. Then there were the younger girls who clearly weren’t afraid of piercings and I’m not talking about those above the neck. Men, of course were the majority and when anyone would come up and talk to us and Charlotte in the bigger pools you forgot the fact they were probably naked underneath the water. Because at the core we’re all just people and we were born naked and it’s society who tells us to cover up and leads us to believe nudity is shameful and entirely sexual.

I wanted to go nude. I really did. I went topless at Strawberry Hot Springs but that’s because it was clothing optional after dark and I was still nursing and a fan of my breasts then. I found myself wondering if other women my age felt, or would feel this way? Is nudity something we’re more comfortable as women flaunting when we’re younger and then much older? Is there an age bracket on timeline of life for, “I just don’t care and anything goes” and does it bracket, “I’m ashamed of what I see and I don’t want others to judge”? I made all sorts of excuses in my head that day about why I didn’t go nude – that my daughter was there and I’m a mom now, that I didn’t want to draw any attention to myself, that no one cared either way so what did it matter. Yet at the core I wondered if I missed out on teaching Charlotte a valuable lesson – be comfortable in your own skin no matter how saggy, misshapen or stretched out it might be.

So my friends, is wearing a swimsuit really just silly? Is going nude freeing and the way God intended us to be? Would you dare to bare it all if you had the opportunity? I vowed that when I get the chance to go back I’ll work up the courage to love myself and my body enough to embrace and own it. I nursed a child and I teach 12 classes a week, 8 of them being spin and it’s hard to keep fat on my body in my chest. I’ll never have large breasts unless I get pregnant again or pay for them so why stress about something that will never be other than what it is? I believe as women, no matter what our size, we’ve been trained by society to be fearful of what we see in the mirror especially when it comes to showing our truest self to strangers.

The rest of our family trip was an amazing and I’m so thrilled we took the time to get away. Telluride and Ouray in the winter are full of magic and opportunities to explore, eat wonderful food and take in the small town hospitality. This trip was very freeing…and next time I’ll be sure to make it even more so.


Sunday, January 4, 2015

I don't care about your...

Dear Readers- as your best friend, the one who will tell you the hard truths no one else will I have something to tell you. I know I’m taking a risk here that you’ll hate me after I say what I’m about to say but as someone who cares about you I think this is something you should know….

I don’t give a fcuk about your six pack rock hard abs.

It’s true I don’t. In fact I don’t care about any of your other muscles but I’m targeting the abs because that’s what some of you seem to like to show off the most. I’m not bitter, I’m not jealous and yes I’m at the gym almost 7 days a week just like you. I’m just not impressed with your washboard and I’ll tell you why…you haven’t had a baby.

There I said it. Unless you’ve had a baby or were formally obese and have managed to dig yourself out of that hell and into a healthy lifestyle then I just don’t think your body is impressive. I know I’m not the only one here. Biggest Loser is a hit show because the contestants go through a dramatic lifestyle change on the path to a healthier version of themselves. Listen to most of the women on there and what metaphorically and actually tipped the scales for most of them was having children. They stopped taking care of themselves when they started taking care of their family and the consequence was dramatic weight gain. Their journey is inspiring because it’s so grueling. We watch because we’re fascinated by people who push their own limits physically and mentally. Why do people climb Everest? Because they want to know what it feels like to be on the brink of death and survive. Who doesn’t love a good underdog story?

Those of you who are offended by my statement…I was once like you. In high school I weighed probably five pounds less than I do now and I hated my body. I drank slim fasts for lunch and skipped dinner so I’d be skinny. I’d run three miles every afternoon in the hot Alabama summer sun and considered rice cakes my snack. I didn’t have healthy eating habits at all but I wanted to fit in like everyone else does at that age and so I did whatever it took to look the part. I had a flat stomach, I’ve always had a flat stomach, but I was desperate for attention. I can’t believe the amount of crop tops I wore (thanks 90s fashion!) to show off my stomach. I believed somehow, the flatter my stomach the thinner I’d be perceived. As I grew older the crop tops were phased out and new healthier habits fazed in and I worked hard for my abs. The summer of 2012 was probably the most in shape I’d ever been in my life and I wasn’t too proud to show off my hard work. I get it, you work hard, you sweat your ass off at the gym, you eat right and you want the world to see it. I was there too so I know. I should have looked good…that’s all I had to do with my time and I had a free gym membership.

when I was a gym rat
Getting pregnant changed all of this. I gained 27lbs and things stretched and rubbed together and clothes grew tight in places I didn’t even know was possible. I never had a goal before except to wear crop tops pre-pregnancy and after Charlotte I suddenly was faced with a challenge. I had weight to lose and strength to gain back and it wasn’t something that could be tackled overnight because I had a baby to feed. Your body tends to hold on to extra weight when breastfeeding so while my stomach shrunk it remained soft. Here’s a confession best friends, almost two years later it’s flat but still soft. I will probably never have the abs I had before and that’s OK because I birthed a baby. Not every women is able to become pregnant and I cherish that gift and wouldn’t trade my body now for anything knowing that gift. I’m fortunate I know.

39 weeks
As a blogger and fitness contributor for HappinessSeries and someone who teaches 12 classes a week (8 of those being cycle) and is a flight attendant full time I just have to say I’m not impressed by the photos of the rippled muscled thin women out there who haven’t had a child. Growing a baby stretches your abdominal wall in ways you can’t even imagine and even having a vaginal birth your stomach never really returns (let alone having a c-section). The photos I want to see are of women who have to make the time to work out. The women who have one or more jobs and kids and may or may not have a spouse – you are who I’m impressed by seeing. You, the woman who sacrifices sleep to get to the gym, the woman who feels guilty every time she works out, the woman who doesn’t even care about her abs anymore she just wants to feel strong and beautiful…you are who impresses me most. Pre-baby I had all the time in the world to work out and I did. I worked hard and I loved my body and I wanted others to love it too. Yet, who was I really inspiring? I was living a life that we all live when we’re younger but then we grow up and we grow older and other priorities take the place of the gym. I appreciate the women now, who I know bust their ass to get to my class and work hard for the hour they are there because that’s all they have to spend. I’m impressed by the hard work and dedication of someone with a goal, someone who’s seen their body go through changes they had no control over and wants that control again.

one week post baby
Let’s be clear best friends, I’m not into shaming women. If you have worked hard for your abs and you’ve never had a child then that’s fantastic for you. I, firsthand know this isn’t easy although a lot of it is genetics and diet. What I’m saying is that I’m more in awe of all those hard working mama’s out there who grew a baby and may or may not have gotten their bodies back to where they’d like. I see you at yoga class and in cycle or bootcamp and I know you are giving me your all. I want you to know, six pack or not that you inspire me and I’m proud of you and you should be proud of you. Your stomach may not be flat ever again and you may have stretch marks and that’s beautiful too. There’s other women out there who are struggling just as much to have a baby and we have to honor them by appreciating our bodies.

Love your body. Show it off. Be grateful. But know what’s truly impressive and what’s just sheer luck of genetics, availability of diet and free time to work out. There’s a difference between people who are recognized for climbing foothills and those who climb Everest.

The harder the journey the bigger the reward. Keep climbing friends.

getting there

Thursday, January 1, 2015

five truths for 2014...

At the end of 2013 I made a decision that 2014 would be the year of letting go. I had no idea just how much I’d continue to go of throughout the year in order to create space for better things to take their places. In some aspects letting go was good for me – we sold our house and bought and renovated a new one. We traded a car in to buy a new safer one. I realized a few friendships were not what I thought and in letting go of them I found a whole new level of loyalty and trust amongst my other friends. Other acts of letting go, i.e. cutting down on hours flying so I could focus on teaching fitness more resulted in disciplinary action. So as I stand on the edge of 2014 here’s what I learned about myself and attachment or what the Buddha calls, “The root of suffering.”

Five truths from 2014:

1.       Buying a house in Colorado is a nightmare. Want to test your faith, your marriage, your sanity and your nerves? Try selling and buying a house in Denver. While the market may have cooled off slightly towards the end of the year, 2014 was definitely the year of the house hunt. I probably looked at a house every single day and when I wasn’t seeing one in person I was browsing them online. I became obsessed with the perfect place and the best deal and there were many tears in the process. Buying a house your first time is exciting but as a second time home buyer your approach is a little savvier. You know what you want and what to look for and how the whole game works and you aren’t willing to settle for less. Our patience ultimately paid off and then was extended to remodeling the house we finally purchased. Through this process I learned it wasn’t just about letting go of the house we sold it was about letting go of every house where the offer wasn’t accepted. Suffering for me, was anytime I latched on to the idea that a house could be ours before our offer was accepted. Suffering for me was moving and losing items in the process through damage or lack of space. Suffering was draining our bank accounts that we had built up so we could afford it all. I learned the only path to happiness in all of this was the fact none of it lasted forever. The less I attached, the less I suffered and the more things unfolded with the flow of the universe just as they were supposed to.

2.       Branding yourself is hard work. This was the year I launched my first retreat featuring hiking and yoga in Telluride and really set out to brand myself. While I work at several studios and training centers here in Colorado I realized if I wanted to really further my career I had to start thinking of myself as an entity. My friend Lisa who is a graphic designer and someone I’ve known since high school designed my logo for me and playing off my LLC, Yogi Magee Expeditions was born. For my first retreat I marketed it through Facebook, Instagram and Happinessseries and made flyers and posted them wherever possible. Selling out my retreat was one obstacle but I began to realize that marketing yourself is a job in and of itself. At the advice of my friend Sherry I broke down and bought my domain and created a website. I created a Facebook page and Instagram account for my business and started following others who were successful at doing the same. I learned so much from hosting my first retreat and decided to take it one step further and co-host another in Belize next year in addition to my Telluride yoga + hiking retreat. Here’s the truth – branding yourself is all about risks. You can’t be attached to what others will think and you have to be authentic to yourself. The danger in becoming a full time fitness instructor is getting stuck in one dimension and not evolving and staying connected with the community that ultimately supports you. The first step was believing in myself and the second was convincing everyone else to do the same. Being your own boss is hard work because we are generally harder on ourselves than anyone else would be. The lesson here is to keep going and saying yes to every adventure and opportunity that comes your way.

3.       Being a toddler mom requires infinite patience. This is the year Charlotte turned one. Life stopped being about maternity leave, nursing, sleep training, pumping, introductions to solid food and the rear facing car seat. We evolved to reading books with actual words, playtime involving imagination, running, imitation from words to yoga poses and temper tantrums. When I’m home with Charlotte I feel like an assistant to a tiny diplomat whose demands are never satiated. The good news is however, I’m no longer attached to how life was before Charlotte. I now know that I’ll be getting up anytime between 6:30-7:30 no matter what time I go to bed if I happen to be home on a weeknight. I know she’ll nap for approximately 2.5 hours and after flying all night that’s my only chance to sleep as well. I know as soon as I make her lunch then sit down to mine that she’ll throw half her food on the floor or feed it to the dog and I’ll spend half my lunch time cleaning up her mess. I also know that as she grows she becomes more fun and I’m just as eager to teach her about life as she is to learn. I know I only have one child and there are women out there who work as well and have more children than I do but I’m not about comparing or complaining. 2014 was the year I embraced, and I mean fully embraced, what it is to be a mother. Along with my expanded knowledge of children’s songs to sing I’ve gained more patience that I realized previously existed. My advice to new moms out there is the less you become attached to your idea of what your life should be with a child the less you’ll suffer.

4.       Say yes to new adventures. The year I had Charlotte was a year I had to say no a lot. No to dinners, no to happy hours, no to birthday parties and no to taking on too much so I could focus on myself and my family. 2014 I may have overcommitted myself on one too many occasions but once I started saying yes it became addictive. Yes to adding new classes to my schedule and teaching at new locations. Yes to selling Pressery juices on the weekend at farmers markets and at events. Yes to climbing 14ers even if they scared me or I’d climbed them before or taking people along I wasn’t sure could handle the challenge. I said yes to babysitters and date nights, to daycare days so I could nap and family visits. Sometimes when I said yes, like to climbing the Via Ferrata in Telluride or Pyramid Peak, it was beyond rewarding. I tested my physical and emotional limits and saw I was stronger and more capable than I realized. Other times, like when I’d agree to teach three classes and babysit for a friend on my only day off after flying all week I regretted my choices. Over committing became my theme for 2014 and as I sit here on the edge of a new year I can say I’m thoroughly exhausted from it all. But here’s the truth, as long as there’s life in my veins I’ll continue to push myself. It’s easier to say yes then admit you can’t do it all to me than to say no and not even try. So for 2015 I’ve already said yes to new adventures and new jobs. Some may work out and others may flop but I’ll learn something either way. I read a great quote the other day that said, “At the end of the day you should go to bed with your feet dirty, hair a mess and eyes sparkling.” Yes to that.

5.       Marriage makes it worth it. January 2015 marks 9 years that my husband Chad and I have been together. This past year we celebrated our 5 year wedding anniversary and it’s been five years of work, of tears, of happiness and of growth. Sometimes I think Chad and I argue less than we did when we first started dating because we know each other so well now. On the other hand there’s bills to pay now, a daughter to raise, house projects to complete and work schedules to coordinate. We aren’t the carefree people who first met one another at a club dancing so many years ago. We’ve had our highs and lows and sometimes the lows can make you question if it’s all worth it. How do you know you’ve met the right person? How do you know the decision you made five years ago is the same one you want to stick with today? I don’t even know what I want to eat a week from now and that’s not nearly as important a life decision. Here’s the truth- when I came home from my first retreat in Telluride in August Chad had not only cleaned and organized the house but he had dinner waiting, a bottle of wine, flowers and a gift and card for me. Chad hardly ever gets me cards that express how he feel so this was a big deal. In the card he wrote how proud of me he was and how inspiring I was to him. I realized that success wasn’t meant to be squandered it’s meant to be shared and without someone to come home to then what did any of it mean? What did I do matter if no one saw the behind the scenes and appreciated all my sacrifices and hard work? Marriage to me is about finding the person you can team up with like super hero’s and face all the bullshit life throws at you. You won’t always agree, you won’t always be happy but when you find someone who you can come home too that loves you for you…well that makes life easier.


So there you have it, my five truths for 2014. For the upcoming year I’ve decided to seek out and be open to more adventures. I want to travel, to continue to build Yogi Magee Expeditions, to inspire others through healthy living and to change lives through fitness. I want to expose my daughter to as much of the world as possible and hopefully teach her as much about it as I can along the way. I may be continually tired, over-worked and over-committed but as long as there is life in my veins I won’t stop moving and putting myself out there. I’m ready to learn, I’m ready to dive in, I’m ready to work and I’m ready to sacrifice now so I can live the life I want later.


Bring it on 2015.