Yoga Beyond the Physical Limitations

YogaJulieThere comes a point in exercise — whether it’s yoga, strength training, running or whatever you enjoy doing — that we reach a point of physical exhaustion. What fuels you to keep going? Maybe it’s be a mantra, an inspirational quote, remembering the reason you started in the first place… whatever it may be, there’s a reason you keep coming back.


When I started yoga a few months ago, I was such a newb. I always loved yoga because I’m naturally pretty flexible from dance, but I soon learned yoga is about WAY more than flexibility. (Note: I THOUGHT I was flexible until I saw the ways some people are able to bend their bodies…. Holy cow.)

I never understood why people were so obsessed with yoga, honestly. “Yeah. It’s a good way to stretch, but it’s not even really a workout,” I used to think to myself. Kind of like when I never understood why people were so obsessed with their dog until I adopted Cocoa.

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And like I never understood the obsession with animals until I met a giraffe.

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Yes, I’m a weirdo.

But, like what’s listed above, it’s one of those things you have to experience to understand.

How did my perception of yoga change? I found a fabulous yoga studio that challenges me physically and mentally. But you know what? It’s not solely a physical practice for me anymore. Obviously it challenges me physically (still waiting for the day I can hold a headstand/handstand/arm balance and be “at peace” like devoted yogis claim). But it also challenges me mentally.

I use my practice to connect to the universe. Honestly, I’ve never felt stronger in my relationship with God than I do right now. I set an intention for my practice — gratitude, grace, acceptance and I flow with it (quite literally).

So, what keeps me coming back to my mat?

Gratitude, strength, wisdom, peace of mind, mental clarity, JOY, peace, love, positive energy, the challenge, the ability to focus on the present, a room filled with people who are trying to better themselves, the rush of feeling things I’ve never felt before (physically and mentally), the ability to FINALLY love my body for what it’s able to do rather than how it looks, to honor God and to better myself.

Don’t let the fear of being inflexible scare you away from doing yoga. Trust me, if my dad can do it and love it, so can you :-P. As one of my instructors told me, there’s no such thing as a “good” yogi. Just when you think you’re good, someone comes along and makes something you struggle with seem effortless.

And yes, taking yoga classes at a studio is a bit more expensive than the free ones that come with your gym membership. Trust me, I get it. But unless you have a wonderful instructor at your chain gym that challenges you in the ways I’ve learned above (which I’ve never run into in all my time there. Generally that’s not their purpose because they’re looking to serve the masses and people who consider yoga just to be “stretching,” at no fault to them), it’s worth it to try a studio!

I see it as an investment in myself: the more I learn to understand my body and the way it works; the more I practice gratitude, self confidence, love, joy, grace and understanding; the better I’ll be able to serve others I’m in relationship with, especially my future personal training clients.

We’re all on this journey separately, but together. Humans are wired to crave a deeper connection beyond anything the physical world offers. I’ve found connection to the only One who will ever truly satisfy through yoga and meditation.


I hope you will, too. 🙂

Being Healthy is a Way of Life: Is Your Soul Happy?

There’s so much more to being healthy than just eating whole foods and working out. Being healthy ultimately stems from our mindset.

BeingHealthyBeing healthy is about more than what you feed your body. Sure, it’s important to eat healthy. It’s important to work out on a regular basis for cardiovascular purposes. Let’s say you have both of these things in check, but you still aren’t seeing the results you want — you look the same, feel the same and start getting discouraged. Because you’re discouraged, you turn to your vice for comfort, whatever that may be (for me it’s food). I’ve been stuck in that cycle… it’s frustrating. But there was one IMPORTANT question — perhaps the most important of all — that I was forgetting to ask myself:

Is my soul happy? 

Happiness does not stem from the time spent in the gym. Sure, you get momentary satisfaction after a good sweat sesh or after you weigh in a few pounds lighter. You feel great at the end of the day after sticking to your diet. But this happiness is fleeting. Oh so fleeting, my friends.

Is your soul happy? Really. Ask yourself that question right now.

Take a good hard look at the relationships in your life. Are they thriving? Are you doing everything you can to make the lives of the people you love a little easier?

Are you living your life? 

What do you do in your free time? Are you sitting around on the couch, wondering why you don’t have friends, relying on social media as your crutch for social interaction?

If only I had asked myself those questions while I was sitting around feeling sorry for myself, wondering why nothing in my life was getting any better. Why am I gaining weight? Why do I binge? Why am I so depressed? What happened to all the friends I used to have? These are questions I’d ask myself on a daily basis instead of the ones above. Do you see why I wasn’t getting anywhere?

Being healthy is a way of life. It stems from your mindset — the way you think, feel and interact with others. If you’re a positive person who strives to find joy and happiness in the simple things, chances are your time in the gym, eating habits and results will reflect that. To the contrary, if you’re sitting around eating junk, not doing anything besides going to work and going home (and wondering why you lost friends like I did), your results will also reflect that.

Our journey to be fit starts with the effort to change our mindset.

When you change the way your mind works and make a decision (you have to make the decision, it doesn’t just come naturally) to be happy, you’ll reap the benefits of this happiness in your physique, self confidence and relationships.

I challenge you today to dig deep down and ask yourself: Is my soul really happy? If so, keep on keepin’ on my beautiful friend! If not, make a decision to change it.

HUGS AND KISSES and all the love in the world to you beautiful friends of mine! xo

The Truth About the Past Few Months: A Complete 180

Wow, guys.

This post is about to get really real. Like… fo real. Fo really real. Ok I’m done.

I’m going to just come out and say this: from December to March I was depressed. I was binge eating and overexercising. This is the real reason I fell off the blogosphere — I felt like such a hypocrite trying to preach health and fitness when I was doing the complete opposite of what I knew I should be doing. I was SO down on myself when I’m normally such a happy and positive person. I didn’t know how to deal with this!

Why am I feeling this way? How can I fix it? Why isn’t it changing? Why am I sitting around feeling sorry for myself?

It was like I was stuck in a deep, dark hole. And looking back, I see that hole didn’t form overnight.

I’d try to assess and fix the “issue” every single day. Is it my job I’m unhappy with? Is it the environment I live in? If I could only change something, THEN I’d be happy. Hmm, doesn’t this sound all too familiar (once I lose weight, THEN I’ll be happy…)?

Really, it wasn’t one particular thing. I was sucked into the negativity of multiple situations in my life. Then I started gaining weight, which made me even MORE depressed because over the summer I was looking and feeling better than ever. Trust me, I’m not blaming anyone here. These problems are issues that needed to manifest themselves because ultimately, life has a way of teaching us lessons in these hard times.


So what changed?

Well, for starters I realized I was sitting around feeling sorry for myself. I was 10 lbs. heavier when I stepped on the scale. I was working out like a mad woman to compensate for eating so much. I was trying to fix weight issues with a stupid fat-loss challenge on top of all that, after preaching moderation and balance to myself and to you all for so long. I even considered competing, thinking that a hardcore diet would fix all my problems and make my life better. Silly Jules.

Gah, looking at those posts almost makes me cringe. But you know what? I’m not ashamed of them. It’s just proof that I’m human — that I make mistakes; that sometimes I stray from what I believe in my heart to be true (moderation, balance, a happy life). Sometimes you just need a big ‘ole slap in the face from Mr. Life to remind you of those things :-). I mean really though, if you look at the difference in my posts from December to March — as sporadic and inconsistent as they were — you’ll be able to tell that my head was literally ALL over the place and you were probably saying to yourself, “UMM WHAT IS SHE THINKING?,” just like I was.

Do you see where I’m going here? I didn’t even recognize myself! I guess you could call it a 22-year-old crisis… Whatever it was, it sucked.

The ultimate lesson here: I learned to give up control.

I learned to trust God. I became closer to him than ever because without him, I honestly don’t know how I could’ve made it through some days. I cried more than I ever have in my life (I’m talking weeping sobs here, people, not cute cries), I ate more than I ever have in my life, and I exercised more than I ever have in my life to compensate. But I also prayed more than I ever have in my life. I relied on family and friends more than I ever have in my life, whereas in the past I would try to handle the situation on my own.


My whole life I’ve thought I could do everything on my own. And I never would’ve realized I couldn’t if I hadn’t gone through this. As deep and dark as those times were, I’ve come out so much happier. I’m willing to ask for help. I’m willing to give my problems up to God. I’m willing to accept the fact that I can’t do it all on my own. And I’m OK with that. 

P.S. I’m literally about to cry after writing this. I always say I’m blessed with the ability to look at my life from an outsider’s perspective. At the time, as with many situations in life, I couldn’t possibly understand WHY any of this was happening and why I wasn’t able to find my way out of the hole that I dug so deep for myself. But, in the end, you’re able to see exactly why things happened and the lessons you’ve learned from it. While painful, I’d never give up those tears, moments of weakness and vulnerability, or stupid decisions for anything because they taught me something I would’ve never learned otherwise — how to give up control.


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 And last but not least…


Weekend Highlights: Zoo, Farmer’s Market and All Moved In

This weekend was a blast!

It started with dinner with my dad and roommate, and we eventually found ourselves at World of Beer sampling beers from around the world and taking embarrassing pictures (it never fails, does it?)

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It’s all about balance, right? 🙂

Then Saturday was spent moving, which surprisingly didn’t take as long as we anticipated. We were completely done moving everything by early afternoon. I promise I’ll share pictures later! I want them to be high-quality and I need to finish unpacking/organizing/decorating before you get to see the finished product :-).

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This weekend definitely had one common theme: beer.

Saturday night my friends Maddie, Bailey and I went to Brews Around the Zoo at the Central Florida Zoo. What an amazing night!

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There were tents there with food from Seasons 52 (they served their desserts — let’s just say we went back for thirds), Tijuana Flats (chips & salsa), plenty of pizza, cheesecake, BBQ and obviously lots and lots of BEER!

photo 2 How cool are these glow-in-the-dark souvenir cups? photo 1

My inner fat girl was so happy. 

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Tickets were a bit on the steep side — $40 — but I can assure you we definitely got our money’s worth… PLUS more. We will definitely be returning next year 🙂

Then, to balance it all out, we attempted to buy some fresh fruits and veggies at the Lake Eola Farmer’s Market on Sunday. Turns out half of Orlando got the memo that it was the 25th Annual Spring Fiesta in the Park, and we joined thousands of people for a beautiful day in the Orlando sun. So much fun!

photo 13photo 23We also saw people doing yoga in the park and I swear I could’ve watched them for hours. This definitely piques my interest! Perhaps it will become a regular Sunday activity, followed by the Farmer’s Market. (Yes, Bailey???) 🙂

I bought Cocoa the cutest dog collar there. How fun is this? It was custom-made by a brilliantly creative designer, Brooke from Dog Days Bowtique. I’ll definitely be paying her a visit again in the near future!

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Also, some of you may have noticed that I stopped posting the workouts for my challenge. I’ll go into further detail about this in another post, probably tomorrow. Let’s just say I had a big ole slap in the face by reality. But I wanted to share some of the highlights of my weekend today!

What were the highlights of your weekend?! 

Life Without Social Media: Pros and Cons

As many of you know, I gave up social media for Lent.

For those of you considering it (or wondering if you could ever live without it), I’ll give you a run-down on what I’ve experienced thus far and how it feels.

I primarily gave up social media because I found it was taking up huge chunks of my time. I’d get sucked in and scroll for hours, usually before bed. I was living for the future and recording memories, versus actually living in the moment.


I’ll start with the cons, since I must admit, I do miss it.

  • You can’t cyber stalk people you meet (don’t act like you don’t do this). How am I supposed to know if you’re the guy on Facebook with one friend and a Myspace mirror picture? Hopefully my intuition leads me far away from those types to begin with….
  • I can’t remember anyone’s birthday besides my best friend and family members. It’s nice to have Facebook tell me when I need to wish someone a happy birthday.
  • I can’t use it to advertise my blog or promote things via Twitter or Facebook. I knew this going into it, but sometimes I’ll see that people have RT my posts via the blog and I can’t even say thank you! (So here’s my virtual thank you!!)

However, in my opinion, the benefits far outweigh the cons:

  • I’ve experienced better sleep because I’m not scrolling through my newsfeed mindlessly for however long before I’m going to sleep.
  • I’ve done a lot more reading, especially before bed.
  • I feel more present in the moment and can focus my attention on bettering myself and building my dreams, goals and ambitions.
  • I’m not sucked into the drama/jealousy that social media possesses (Ugh, what she’s doing looks so fun. Um, another vacation — why isn’t my life that exciting? Why isn’t my boyfriend that cute? Do guys like that even exist? haha)
  • It forces people to contact you via text or phone call. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been “hit on” via Facebook message. WHY IS THIS A THING?! Stop it!
  • Perhaps the biggest “pro” is that it forces you to become social. Sometimes we have this false sense of inclusion, like we actually have a social life when in reality, all we’re doing is sitting there scrolling through a news feed. Some of us (myself included, from time to time) use that in place of real social interaction, perhaps because we’re too busy, exhausted or whatever the reason. In turn, we just end up looking to social media to feel included, instead of forming meaningful friendships and relationships with those around us.

Unfortunately, as a society, we’ve grown accustomed to using social media almost like a barrier. We forget what it’s like to participate in real life experiences — actually touch someone, hug them or tell them how you feel IN PERSON. It breaks my heart to see people, kids especially, sit and play video games ALL DAY instead of going outside and experiencing what life has to offer.

When’s the last time you went outside and just looked up at the sky? Watched the clouds go by? Pondered the meaning of life?

When’s the last time you saw something beautiful and just soaked in all it’s glory, versus taking a picture of it to upload to Instagram?

If it’s been a while, I would really encourage you to take a step back and reevaluate how much time you’re spending on social media. I’m not going to lie and say I’m not looking forward to having it back in a few weeks, but I’m going to use it much more carefully.

I’m going to use it to enhance my life versus take away from it. 

We’re blessed to be able to document memories so easily, but don’t let that take the place of actually ENJOYING those memories.

beautiful-live-moment-wallpaper-favim-com-520574Of possible interest:

Unplanned Rest Day: How do I Deal?

Today was a HUGE step in the right direction for me! Here’s the story:

I was house sitting this weekend and didn’t get much sleep, plus I’ve been working out on top of it all. On Monday, I could barely see straight and ended up taking a SIX HOUR NAP in the middle of the afternoon (red flag #1). So, Tuesday rolls around. I woke up feeling slightly refreshed, but knew I had a workout on the books.

Here’s where the change in my mindset comes in:

Old me would’ve said: “Just push through it. You don’t need to rest. You’re going to blow up into a Beluga whale if you don’t go to the gym.” (lol)


Balanced Julie said: “You need to realize that you’re probably doing too much. When even the THOUGHT of working out sounds miserable, and you can’t imagine gathering the strength to push through a workout, PLEASE give your body rest!”

I started noticing myself slipping into old habits of overexercising and being addicted to exercise, which I wrote about here.

As you know, overexercising is in my nature. I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s because I’m a 100% kind of person (in everything!) With food, I’m either eating ALL THE THINGS or not eating enough. With exercising, I’m trying to do my own workouts on top of teaching classes, when in real life my classes should suffice (two total body weights classes and a boot camp, currently) with maybe a day or two of cardio or targeted weight training added in.

Sometimes we just need to listen to our bodies and give them rest when we need rest. Am I going to gain 40 lbs. if I don’t workout for one day? No. Two days? No. Three? No. You get the point.

It’s all about balance and quieting that voice in your head that tells you that you absolutely NEED to be working out, when your body is telling you absolutely NOT! More change actually happens when our bodies are resting and repairing themselves, along with many other key points:

  • Our muscles build themselves through rest! We NEED IT in order to see the changes we want. Alternatively, if we’re overexercising, we can actually reach a plateau in terms of progress. No rest = no repair = no results.
  • The body adapts to the stress that training requires. Weight training especially is stress on the body, so just as we need rest from stress mentally, we need rest from physical stress as well.
  • Overtraining can lead to exhaustion; trouble sleeping; lack of motivation to do ANYTHING, especially going to the gym; and in some cases, lack of menstruation in women (amenorrhea).

So, today I will be doing nothing that involves any kind of activity.

restdayAnd I am starting to be OK with that 🙂 

Of Possible Interest: