The simplest answer is usually the right one

Mac turns one on Friday. Tonight is the anniversary of my water breaking, and the beginning of a looong time waiting for that baby to come out.

Her birthday is prompting a lot of self-reflection, as birthdays tend to do. In those early, hazy postpartum days, and in the ragged months that followed, the refrain I heard most consistently was that it gets better. Specifically, by the time she turns one, all the extremes of new motherhood will soften and erode. Sleep deprivation. Mourning for past lifestyle. (Ir)rational resentment of husbands. Shattered resilience, broken body.

Y’all know—or at least, I haven’t been hiding—that this first year has been a doozy for me. I’m used to being in control and making shit happen and having my own fucking agenda.

So I’m pleased to report that one of the walls I keep running up against—finding time to take care of myself, or, more specifically, exercise—is starting to crumble. This is happening just this week, so, early results, and all. But still.

In the last week, I made to a class or the gym four times. FOUR TIMES.

For all y’all I know through fitness, this probably sounds like a pretty weak week. Or, in more gracious terms, a recovery week. Some of you regularly do that in a single day.

But this, for me, right now, is major progress. Here’s how I’m making it happen:

In the simplest way possible. I’m not trying to work out in the morning, because I don’t like mornings, and having a baby has not changed that about me.

I’m not trying to go to mommy & me fitness classes because, fun and kill-two-birds notwithstanding, the baby’s nap schedule rules all and often overrules our ability to attend.

Nope, I’m doing what comes most naturally to me, and what makes the most sense for our new lives.

I’m doing it after she goes to bed.

Stupid simple, right?

So simple I feel kind of silly writing a blog post about it.

But it’s working. And, bonus points, it eliminates a lot of decision fatigue: there are limited options for yoga or dance classes that start after 8pm, so those are the ones I go to.

That means, this week, I’ve taken lyrical contemporary, candlelight vinyasa, and jazz funk, all three of which were new to me, and all three of which I liked.

I also went to the gym once, which is not exactly new to me but is pretty rare for me.

Is this new routine making me happier? YES. More productive at work? YOU BET. A better mother? 100%. Nicer to my husband? In progress …

I’m doing my best to appreciate what’s working right now without getting too attached. If there’s anything the last year has taught me, it’s that once you think you have something figured out, everything changes again.

The timing is spectacular because this week is all about goals, and I’m grateful to have a more positive progress report to share.

Here’s to being nimble. Here’s to finding your way to the other side of whatever it is you’re running up against.


Other stuff you should know about:

  • This week’s #IAmEmpowered theme is all about goals, goals, goals. Tag #EBGoals2017 #IAmEmpowered @egglandsbest #sweatpink to get in on the action!

  • We are hosting our first-ever retreat this March in Sonoma, CA. It’ll be a weekend of yoga, hiking / running, sweat, community, and WINE TASTING. yeahhhh. Come join us!

In 2017, I will

2016 started on such a high note, with the birth of my daughter and the opening of Flex & Flow.

2016 wound down to a devastating close. It was the year that showed us that the glass ceiling is disinclined to break, but will take advantage of your proximity by stabbing you in the back and grabbing your lady parts.

I took a break from the internet, from the news and social media, for a few weeks in December. I had to break free of the masochistic tendency to open up the comments section on any news article (why? WHY?) and to step away from the trolls that sank me into a major depression about how much our country hates women.

Anyway, I digress. The whole point of this was to step away, to recenter, to come back with renewed energy.

To stop feeding the trolls with my attention.

The last week of the year is typically easy on my inbox—thank god for small mercies—and it’s a time I typically use to step back and plan and power through some projects that hadn’t been given the attention they deserved earlier in the year. This year, this week, I’ve been focused on how to change my mindset from this dark shitstorm that closed out 2016 to one of empowerment and action.

Our theme for 2017 is #IAmEmpowered. The community will be rallying around positive action, and I’m so eager to see my community lift up inspiration and inclusiveness after a hateful, divisive year.

I’m tacking on to that my word for 2017, which is actually two words, because #IAmEmpowered to make it so, dammit.

Begin again. 

Did I mention this has been a brittle, tough year? My resilience is beaten down. It’s saggier, less springy, and it has dark circles under its eyes. In the moments when bouncing back feels too fucking hard, I repeat these words to myself, again and again, until they lose their meaning and become pure sound.

Begin again. Begin again. Begin again. Begin again. Begin again. 

In 2017, I refuse to let anyone strip me of my power. I refuse to give up. I will make change and I will stand up for what I believe is right and I will keep hammering at that fucking ceiling.

In 2017, I will not let little setbacks add up and become insurmountable. I will begin again.

Bring it, 2017.

 

 

 

 

 

Friday Five: let’s do this

Image: Liz Wilson

Happy Friday! This month is all about PINK. I mean, literally, the sheriffs in our county are wearing pink badges. When I first saw one, I thought it was a toy badge. #oops. pink-badge   Any way… I love seeing so many people and organizations come out and wear pink in support of breast cancer awareness. I mean, I wear pink all year round, so it’s nice to have some more company in my color.

Wearing pink is a fantastic first step toward promoting breast cancer awareness. But this month, I’m challenging you to do more than just wear pink. Take the next step, if you will, and work to end this stupid cancer once and for all.

Treat yo’self to some pink

bright pink sweat pink Join our #AwareWithPink challenge (just do your thing, tag the tags, and get a chance to win a pair of pink Trekz Titanium headphones from Aftershokz. Best headphones I’ve ever tried, no contest). Or, just treat yourself to a pair. For every pair purchased this month, AfterShokz will donate 25% of proceeds to Bright Pink, a non profit that focuses on breast and ovarian cancer awareness and education.

Run around the world (no, really)

awarewithpink sweat pink This virtual event aims to get people to collectively run around the world, fundraising for organizations that empower women and girls. It’s not too late to jump in and contribute the miles you’re running anyway toward something greater than yourself.

Don’t want to do it yourself? That’s cool. Help a girl out and contribute to my fundraising page. K thx. 🙂

Host a Beauty Drive

milf milk bath
This was a gift from the amazing Becky Stifter. Not regifting – this is for ME! – but how could I not share this?!

I’m obsessed with this Feel Beautiful Again program by the Breast Cancer Charities of America. They put together beauty swag bags for breast cancer patients to help them feel like themselves after losing their hair, breasts, eyelashes, and other traditional markers of femininity. I’m hosting a drive in my building, collecting beauty products; you can too. It’s an easy, low cost way to give back.

Take care of yourself

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No, really, I’m serious. Prevention is the best kind of healthcare. Go for a run (around the world!!), eat your veggies, take time to destress. Do it for you, and do it because you never know who you’re inspiring to treat themselves with the love and respect they deserve, too.

Read this

In case you need some inspiration to get involved, or if you just want to experience all the feels AND read some exquisite writing, read this. My friend and yoga teacher Lindsay is currently battling breast cancer, and she writes about her journey in a way that makes you laugh and cry and feel what she’s going through… even as she resists dipping too far into the ugly details of her treatment. Warning: if you read this at work, there is a significant risk that you will also cry at work.

Feeling amazing every day

First off, thank you to all of you for your kind words and support around Tigger’s passing. I confess I felt a little silly admitting to just how much his death derailed me, but Suzi’s story and Shannon’s words were so validating about how grief is grief:

“If you’ve never loved a pup or cat, you might not get it. You might even roll your eyes. But if you HAVE, you will get this.” – Shannon, Badass Fitness

I’m trying to shake it off (oh Taylor, I will never grow tired of singing and dancing in my car to that song), and as part of that, I’ve been consciously focusing on doing things that make me feel amazing. Kind of like a gratitude practice, but with a dash of fabulous.

So – here goes. My #feelamazingeveryday top 5:

1. Swimming

lap swimming hawaii

There are few things in life that make me happier than a swim in a beautiful body of water, whether that’s a pool, the ocean, a lake, or … anywhere else. 🙂 This summer has been a boom year for beautiful swimming opportunities, from the beach in Maui:

amazing grass beach supplies
Beach day essentials.

To Tahoe:

alyse wetsuit tahoe

I’ve been trying to swim every day, and I’ve got a pretty good streak going. I just feel so much happier in the water, and also in a much more amazing mood after a good swim. My family benefits from that happiness, too. 😉

2. Slowing down and spending time with my daughter

alyse mac 6 months birthday

In a lot of ways, motherhood has been a tough transition for me—more on that to come. I’m making a focused effort to slow down and spend quality time with Mackenzie every day. That means no checking my phone while she babbles at her butterfly mobile; no spacing out and thinking about work while she puts my sunglasses in her mouth for the umpteenth time.

mackenzie sunglasses

 

 

I’m also trying to do at least one dedicated Mactivity per day, like hiking:

alyse mac reverse warrior flume trail

Or swim lessons:

mackenzie swim lessons

3. Morning smoothies

alyse amazing grass selfie tahoe

I just recently got on a smoothie kick, and for someone who has been a casual smoothie drinker at best, this bug bit me, hard. It’s lifechanging, y’all.

amazing grass sweat pink laces tahoe

I’ve been having an Amazing Grass peanut butter smoothie almost every morning. (Okay, probably because it tastes like dessert, but there’s no crash after).

plane snacks yeti amazing grass hemp heart bites

I’ve also been traveling with the single serving packets. Of all the protein powders I’ve tried, this is one that holds up under dire preparation circumstances. As in, it still tastes good even if all you do is add water and give it as good a mixing as you’re able to, given the tools available (coffee stir stick in the hotel room, anyone?).

alyse double fisting philz and amazing grass
Anything is possible when you’re doublefisting Amazing Grass and Philz.

4. Creeping on other people’s dogs

abbiethevizsla
Photo: Abbie, c/o Jamie King

 

Yep, I have been stopping just about everyone I see with a cute pup just to pet and chat. It’s good for the soul. I want a dog so badly, but know that (a) I need to give myself some time, and (b) getting a puppy is a terrible idea right now. We’re still working on getting settled in with this human puppy.

mackenzie tutu

5. Getting a tattoo?

Okay, this one is entirely speculative. I’m thinking about my first ink. But I’m a total chicken. Should I do it?!

This post was sponsored by Amazing Grass. I’m so grateful to the brands who support the Sweat Pink community… and especially for the theme of #feelamazingeveryday. It was the perfect push for me to change my mindset from, wahhh, I miss my dog, to “what can I do today to feel amazing?”

Upgrading my gold star chart

When it comes to tracking my goals, I’m a big picture kind of person. All I really want to know is: did I exercise today? Yes or no. I don’t care how long, how many calories, if I went with friends or if I was thirsty or if I loved my playlist. I want the 10,000 foot view. Yes or no.

For years, I’ve been using basically a grown up version of a gold star chart (yes, like you had in kindergarten) to track activities I wanted to do on a daily basis. And by grown up, I mean when I ran out of stickers, I used a highlighter to give myself props for the day.

However… I found myself adding more and more rows to my chart, and it stopped being so visually compelling. When you start adding gold stars for exercising, flossing, hydrating, tummy time (for Mackenzie, duh), pumping, (I’m really invested in building up my freezer supply. Milk in the freezer = freedom for mama), and about 10 other things, it turns into too much data. It’s too hard to spot trends, like “bam, lady, you exercised 6 times this week! Let’s get some ice cream!”

And honestly, seeing those trends is what I’m really interested in. I don’t want to think too hard or crunch too many numbers; I just want to see the gold stars piling up. GIVE ME THE REWARDS, PEOPLE.

So. Long story short, I found an app that gives me exactly what I want. Except the stickers, but I’ll give them a pass on that. I’m totally obsessed with Strides after one week, so much so that I upgraded to their premium version within a few days of using it.

strides app

Each day, I check off my accomplishments, and it shows me high level trends and data if I want to see it … but I also don’t have to look if I don’t want to.

I get pretty obsessed with earning my gold stars. One day I flossed twice in a row just so I could cross off my goal for the day.

Watch out, world, I’m about to earn a lotta ice cream. Or some grown-up frappuccinos.

This might read like a sponsored post. Guess what? It’s not. I just really like this app.