living intuitively

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Posts tagged body image
32 L E S S O N S
Images by Abbey Armstrong Photography   Edited by Brooke Richardson Photography

Images by Abbey Armstrong Photography

Edited by Brooke Richardson Photography

Age is irrelevant. Ask me how many sunsets I’ve seen, hearts I’ve loved, trips I’ve taken, or concerts I’ve been to. That’s how old I am.
— Joelle

Coming up on 32 trips around the sun. Thirty-freaking-two. That shit’s bananas, yo.

Absolutely W I L D.

I’m not old. I’ve just been young for a very long time.

I am fully committed to improving with age. Learning and evolving and polishing and refining myself in every single way - and ACCEPTING myself in the process. Loving myself through the evolution. That last part is key, yeah??

It’s about not resenting your current status/situation. Not bullying yourself through it. Not wishing it were otherwise. Just simply telling yourself, “Okay cool, this is where we are. I recognize that. I accept that. And I know I have so much more to give. So LET’S DO DIS.” Basically…”I see where I am, but I know where I’m going.” High five?! HIGH FIVE.

In honor of my 32nd birthday (or princess day, as I like to call it, because everyone should feel like royalty on their birthday) I’m sharing 32 lessons I’ve learned thus far.

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  1. Too much discipline can be as harmful as not enough.

  2. Gratitude is THE BEST way to get back to good when you’re stressed/sad/pissed/bitter/anxious/uncertain. It’s a magical salve!

  3. Love is an infinite resource. There is always more where that came from, so keep tapping into that resource and sprinkling that shiz everywhere.

  4. People care more about how you make them feel than how many degrees/talents/accolades/achievements/possessions you have.

  5. You don’t have to explain yourself.

  6. Let your intuition reign supreme. Save yourself time and regret and don’t ignore it/silence it/intellectualize it. Especially when it comes to the next point, which is:

  7. When it comes to relationships, someone’s potential is irrelevant if they’re not pursuing it. And as previously stated, honor your intuition.

  8. A messy start trumps no start.

  9. Minimalism is undervalued, in pretty much all areas of your life. This plays into the next lesson:

  10. Quality over quantity. With clothes. With friends. With business ventures. With home decor. With exercise hours.

  11. Your body is significantly more intelligent than you can even imagine. Don’t try to outsmart it. Which corresponds with the next few lessons:

  12. Your biography becomes your biology. Your body reflects your stresses/traumas/life choices.

  13. Adopt a holistic approach when healing your body.

  14. Get on the same team as your body. Don’t try to resist/fight/shame/bully it into submission. No matter how you abuse it, it still strives to keep you alive every second of every day, with every heartbeat. Now that’s love! Recognizing its loyalty to you is a game changer. Instead of wishing for a thigh gap, express thanks for those strong quads.

  15. Live intuitively, particularly regarding your health. Your body instinctively knows what it needs. Once you learn to tune into it, you’re set. Try not to intellectualize your fitness and nutrition. Don’t follow a certain regimen just because it’s the latest fad, or because a social media guru recommended it, or because your bestie glowed up with it, or because you want to look a certain way. Every body is different (what works for me might not work for you), and your body’s requirements fluctuate daily. So try to clean your palate (minimize the processed foods in favor of foods in their natural form), pay attention to what your body tells you after a meal/workout, and adjust accordingly. Once you vibe with your body, you’ll be blown away by its intelligence. Whether you listen or not, it’s constantly communicating what it needs for you to look and feel your best. Let it be the boss.

  16. How you feel matters far more than how you look.

  17. Confidence is K E Y. If you OWN it, it doesn’t matter what you look like, or how much you know, or how talented you are. And since we’re all works in progress, let confidence bridge the gap from where you are and where you want to be (with your body, your business, etc). Fake it ‘til you make it, if necessary, which leads to:

  18. Your thoughts are mind-blowingly powerful. Like the quote says, if you knew how truly powerful your thoughts are, you’d never think a negative thought. So get on those daily affirmations: “You is kind, you is smahhht, you is impohhhtant.”

  19. Nature is the best therapy. Instant energy re-charger and soul restorer.

  20. Energy rules the universe. It all comes down to energy. This isn’t hippie talk, y’all. Don’t believe me?! Even Albert Einstein says so: “Everything is energy and that's all there is to it. Match the frequency of the reality you want and you cannot help but get that reality. It can be no other way. This is not philosophy. This is physics.”

  21. Your biggest act of kindness to the world is getting right with yourself. When you’re at peace and solid in who you are, it’s a ripple effect: you radiate love and acceptance. And this world desperately needs more love and acceptance.

  22. It’s always worth an ask. Whether you’re asking for a date, a promotion, or an extra side of hot sauce - you’d be amazed what you can get if you just dare to ask.

  23. Save yourself time and sanity and don’t try to do it all (STILL learning this). Your time and energy are worth money and are finite resources. Know when it’s worth it to DIY, and when it’s better to outsource. This plays into:

  24. Stop the glorification of busy. Stop considering an impossibly-packed schedule a badge of honor. The truly successful people know how to best invest their time and energy to maximize their strengths and yield the greatest results. They also understand:

  25. Re-charging and reflection are essential, for your productivity, sanity, health, and creativity. Inspiration usually strikes not when you’re actively/aggressively luring it, but when you’re taking a breather.

  26. Normalcy is an illusion. Everyone is “weird” so own your weirdness. Your uniqueness is your superpower.

  27. Feel your emotions, don’t repress them. What you resist, persists. If you ignore/deny/shove them down, they’ll just fester and pop up eventually - in magnified form. The trick is to feel them and let them move through your body without wallowing. Emotions are emotions - they’re not good, they’re not bad. They just…are.

  28. You can appreciate others’ beauty without diminishing your own.

  29. There are multiple types of intelligence; don’t judge your intelligence or others’ by one definition. Some people are masterful musicians (sound smart), or brilliant logisticians/mathematicians (number/reasoning smart), or natural athletes (bodily-kinesthetic smart), or gifted linguists (word smart), or…the list goes on. So the next time you feel tempted to judge someone for mistaking you/you’re, consider how you’d feel if someone assessed your intelligence solely on your calculus skillz. Appreciate and play to your strengths, and honor and acknowledge others’.

  30. Everybody has a story to tell. Stay interested in others.

  31. You never know what life has in store. Do your best to enjoy the ride. Celebrate the highs. Cherish the “minor” moments. Appreciate the tough times for the lessons they teach and the strength they impart. Stay jazzed on life and never ever become numb to its beauty.

  32. Balance is the key to life.

Let’s never stop learning.

xx,

-w-

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There is a fountain of youth: it is your mind, your talents, the creativity you bring to your life and the lives of the people you love. When you learn to tap this source, you will truly have defeated age.
— Sophia Loren














D A R E to be Y O U
Images by Brooke Richardson Photography

Images by Brooke Richardson Photography

You are allowed to be both a masterpiece and a work in progress, simultaneously.
— Sophia Bush

Let me start off by saying this is not directed at any particular person (man, what an opener, right?).

I really want to express gratitude for all of the good vibes thrown my way lately, specifically about my physique. People have been so kind and complimentary (vocab check: in addition to “free” it also means “expressing a compliment; praising or approving - fun fact for the day!).

People have noted I look thinner, and have commented on how svelte I look and how hard I’ve worked to get there.

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The truth is…I haven’t. Worked hard at it, that is.

Let me explain. I actually liked the way I looked before my [slight] weight loss (it’s not like I’ve dropped 20 lbs, but even minor weight fluctuations on my petite frame are noticeable - for “good” and “bad”). It was a long road to escape body dysmorphia and the sick societal “six pack or bust” ideal. I learned to truly celebrate my curves and embrace my body type. I understood strength and fitness trumped physical form. What I could do and how I felt doing it were far more important than what I looked like [doing it].

Don’t waste so much time thinking about how much you weigh. There is no more mind-numbing, boring, idiotic, self-destructive diversion from the fun of living.
— Meryl Streep

Obsessing over what I looked like was consuming a ridiculous amount of mental and emotional bandwidth. ENOUGH. Honestly, I just maxed out (physically, mentally, emotionally). So I dug deep and got to a fantastically solid place. I lived intuitively, I ate intuitively. Life was good.

And then randomly my appetite started ghosting. I don’t know about you, but my appetite naturally ebbs and flows - independent of my physical activity. Sometimes I’m barely hungry, other times I’m a food fiend.

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This time, however, my appetite stayed extremely low, oftentimes non-existent. It’d reappear every once in awhile, but for the most part - gone-zo. We’re talking 6+ months. For an intuitive eater honoring their appetite, I was knocked for a loop. I only ate when hungry, so when you’re never friggin’ hungry, you can see how this starts to mess with you. When you get to the end of the day and you’ve only had a piece of fruit or two and a salad, you feel you should eat. Your body needs a certain amount of calories to thrive, and it’s not like I’m couched up all day doing nothing (even then, you still need a minimum amount of calories to, you know…EXIST).

Every so often I’d eat just to eat, to keep my energy levels up. I felt fine - nothing else seemed wrong physically. I dialed back on my workouts to protect my caloric expenditure. What got me was the mental aspect. I started missing eating! Sure, you should lean more toward eating to live rather than living to eat but what’s so wrong with enjoying food for food’s sake?!! It’s one of life’s pleasures! I can’t tell you how stoked my salads make me. You can still honor your appetite while feeling gaga over grub. Eating is a necessity, so why not feel blissed while doing it?!

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Your diet, exercise routine, and stress level lay the foundation for how you feel, so fuel your body with good nutrition, break a little sweat each day, and set aside time to unwind.
Because it’s hard to feel bad about a body you’re taking great care of.

Okay, bringing it back to my post’s purpose. Amid all of the kind words and good vibes, I felt compelled to clarify my weight loss isn’t intentional. Personal evolution in all of its forms is a beautiful thing, and I don’t discredit it in any way, but…I think it’s important for us to push back against a world insisting we look a certain way. A world that praises emaciation over health. Visible muscles over a healthy metabolism. This is my reminder for us all (YES - ME INCLUDED!).

I’m not going to sacrifice my mental health to have the perfect body.
— Demi Lovato
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Simply because I’ve grappled with it myself, one of the causes for which I’m most passionate about advocating is self-acceptance, in all of its various forms. Especially in an era where social media heightens the stakes, amplifies the risks, and elevates the standards.

Shoutout to all the people out there trying to love themselves in a world constantly telling them not to.

Society offers conditional acceptance based on our physical appearance. The strongest, most rebellious act you can do is DARE to be your own self. Accept and love your body. Exercise and nourish it to amplify its health and strength, not its aesthetic and sex appeal. Honor and work with its natural rhythms. Stop fighting it, just because social media demands you look a certain way. This includes de-fogging the lens through which you appraise beauty (others and your own!) and rejecting the unattainable beauty ideals. Unconditionally loving and accepting yourself in a world that’s doing its damndest to change you is the most revolutionary act of all - and one that is CRUCIAL to your health and wellbeing.

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We come in all different shapes and sizes.

You do you, boo.

xx,

-w-

I would only lose weight if it affected my health or sex life, which it doesn’t.
— Adele
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B O D Y as B O S S
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What’s my goal weight? I don’t have one. I will not be defined by a number. My journey is about feeling strong, confident, and healthy.

I've had some people reach out lately mentioning they've noticed a change in my physique, and demanding to know my current regimen. First of all, thank you. I appreciate the good vibes.

Secondly, the honest answer is: living intuitively. Practicing what I preach. Letting my body call the shots. 

Fall in love with taking care of your body.

What I mean by that is, I listen to my body and act accordingly. I eat when I'm hungry, stop when I'm full. My appetite has always ebbed and flowed, so I've made a conscious effort to honor the fluctuations. Sometimes I want to eat everything in sight, sometimes I could go all day long with only one snack in my system.

When you ditch the diet mentality and allow yourself to eat what your body wants, and there are no “good foods” or “bad foods” it acts like reverse psychology: now that you can have it, you don’t really want it.
Same with exercise - let your body move how it feels like moving, not in the way that will burn the most calories. Don’t let the anticipated calorie burn dictate what workout you do.

When I do eat, I eat what my body craves: fruit and veggies. No, really. I really and truly have always loved fruits and veggies. That's just my palate, man. Some people naturally have a six pack. Some people can belt it like Beyonce. We all have our blessings, and mine is I naturally love to eat like a bunny. If your eyes are rolling into the back of your head right now, I get it. But trust me, there are ways to make nutritious food taste good to even the strongest veggie-averse taste buds. So who knows, maybe one day you'll drink the carrot juice (I'd say Kool-Aid but that's kind of the OPPOSITE of nutritious, ya feel?!). If you follow me on Instagram, I share some of my favorite concoctions and recipes. Give them a try!

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Focus on your health, not your weight.

And although I truly love the taste of fruits and veggies, I love more how they make me FEEL. That's a major motivator for me. And for the particularly open minded, I recommend following Medical Medium (@medicalmedium on Instagram). It's been a life changer for me. He's alllll 'bout dem fruits and veggies - especially fruit - and explains what various kinds do for your body. I strongly strongly suggest checking him out if you have any persistent illness/condition - everything from insomnia to rosacea to asthma to acne to aches to...ANYTHING. If you don't feel 100%, he will get you there. Though I have yet to follow his full detox protocol (basically pounding a smoothie every day with certain superfood ingredients) I do drink fresh celery juice every morning. I'll do a post on this later.

Eating well is a form of self respect.

I also let my body dictate what movement I get in. That means I've been working out less than EVER, and when I do - I check in with my body to see what I feel like doing. Some days I feel like working legs, so I'll hit those. Some days, I feel like I need a good cardio HIIT sesh. Others, I just want to focus on upper body. And many days - the most I get in is a simple walk. THAT'S IT. If i'm feeling exhausted, then I let my body recover. I'm now living in an alternate universe where my self-admitted workout-hating sister works out more often and consistently than I do. Whaaaaat?! Never saw that one coming!

Fitness has been a focus of mine for as long as I can remember. What that means is...I have to be careful about not stagnating - mentally or physically! What I've found that helps is I'll set an interval timer on my phone (I use the app Interval Timer) for about 25 mins and do various moves for a minute each. For fresh moves, I follow and bookmark workouts on Instagram from @alexia_clark, @sandyrxfit, @taralynemerson, etc. I try to share fitness inspo accounts every Friday on my Instgram stories, so if you're needing some inspiration, I got your back!

The most consistent workout I do is Pound, which I teach at Gold's Gym every Tuesday at 5:30 PM. If you've never done it, it's a full-body, drum-inspired cardio workout using weighted rip stix. It's a BLAST. When we're not squatting or lunging (which is 80% of the class), we're working abs/booty. It's ahhhhmaaaazing. We also take it up a notch by incorporating plyometrics (jump moves). It definitely helps keep me fit. Plus, there's just something about losing yourself in the beat and jamming out like a rock star. Come try it out!

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The last thing I want to say is...I truly accept my body at all sizes. It's been a journey getting to that place but once you do...it's liberating and intoxicating and so so wonderful. I no longer see my body as something to conquer and manipulate and dominate. I see it as an ally. In my opinion...that, rather than any muscle definition or size, is the ultimate goal.

xx,

-w-

I A M pretty
Beauty starts in your head, not your mirror.
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Do you remember when you were five and you didn't give a flying f*** what you looked like in a swimmy? You were just jazzed to be soaking up those rays. You didn't care about appearing a certain way or emitting a certain vibe. You were just YOU. 

So what the hell happened?

Somehow from childhood to adulthood, we start caring. We start caring a LOT. 

If you're lucky, you learn to stop the madness (or at least mitigate it). You learn to reclaim your power. Your self-love. Your confidence. You learn to shift the focus from the superficial to the real. The fleeting (looks) to the forever (soul). As cheesy as it sounds, you concentrate on the interior rather than the exterior. You're more concerned with how you FEEL, and the energy emitted by you/others. That's what really counts, right?!!

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How many rad, fun opportunities have you tainted for yourself by stressing over what you look like? Or worse - how many cool opportunities have you bypassed altogether, because of feeling too fat/ugly/whatever other self-loathing adjective you can think of. I know I have. And it's total bullshit. E N O U G H. 

And I said to my body, softly, “I want to be your friend.” It took a long breath and replied, “I have been waiting my whole life for this.”
— Nayyirah Waheed

I'll be honest, it took me what felt like an eternity to get to the point of full self acceptance. It was a long, gnarly road. I used to hold impossibly high standards for myself, and constantly fought my body at every turn. That shiz is exhausting. I'm sure many of you can relate (which makes me sad!). The shocking reward of finally accepting myself??? I actually look and feel better than ever before! It's like my body breathed a giant sigh of relief and said, "Okay cool - finally, let's play on the same team." It's been awhile now that I feel good in my skin, so I KNOW lasting results are possible!

I found I was more confident when I stopped being someone else’s definition of beautiful and started being my own.
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So what shifted it for me? 

  • Exhaustion
    • Honestly, it drained me and I maxed out. I just got tired of constantly mentally beating the daylights out of myself. SO.NOT.WORTH.IT.
  • Mindfulness and positive self talk
    • First I became aware of my negative thoughts, and then punched them in the face. In other words, I halted them right there, and replaced them with compliments. A lot of it was a "fake it 'til you make it" tactic. If I hated my arms, I would tell myself how much I loved them, and emphasized how strong they are. Ironically, now my arms are one of my FAVE body parts!
  • Gratitude
    • Thanking my body for taking care of me and keeping me alive. Expressing love for it through thought, word, and action. Knowing that contrary to my prior belief, my body really was trying to look out for me and be a team player. Removing that pressure for it to fit a certain beauty ideal really did make all the difference.
  • Focusing on how I felt rather than how I looked
    • Do I feel energetic? Happy? Motivated? If yeses across the board, then I'm solid. If not, I'll focus on the area needing my attention.
  • Self care
    • Wanting to take care of my body to keep it happy and healthy and thriving, not frustrated and starving and self-destructing.
Confidence will make you happier than any diet ever will.

 

  • Intuitive eating and moving
    • By slowly re-learning to tune into my body, I can sense what it wants and deliver. Our bodies are truly miraculous and intelligent. The cleaner your palate (less clogged with packaged frankenfood), the more you can understand what your body is telling you. My body constantly amazes me with its cravings. Time and again, I'll suddenly crave something and then be able to attribute it to a certain reason. For example, I'll crave citrus and then feel the beginnings of a cold that my body was able to fight off. The last time I had blood work done and discovered the minerals/vitamins in which I was deficient, it suddenly made PERFECT sense why I crave my salad every single day: all of the ingredients in there are booming with the vitamins/minerals in which I'm deficient. My body continues to crave those nutrients because it is still healing from malabsorption issues due to prolonged antibiotic use (another story for another day!). 
    • When my body screams for rest, I acquiesce and pump the brakes. This one can be a little tricky to master, knowing when you need to move to feel better and when you really do need to recover. You definitely need one or two rest days a week. Ironically, though I love high-intensity workouts, my body does not. A moderate workout regimen actually helps me look, feel, and perform better. So experiment a little and heed what your body tells you. Remove your ego and let your body be the boss.
Self love is accepting that the body you were given is enough and taking care of your body isn’t the same thing as obsessively manipulating it.
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And the biggest secret of all that eluded me all those years?? CONFIDENCE. How you carry yourself matters FAR MORE than what you actually look like. It's mind blowing how true that is. Think about it. Think about someone you've seen at the beach/pool. They might not (gasp!) have a thigh gap, they might have cellulite, they might be rocking a "plus size" but they are FEELING THEMSELVES. And that instantly makes you feel them too (but, you know...not literally. Unless you're high fiving them for looking so fly).

If someone carries themselves proudly and confidently, that automatically ups their attractiveness. It's like friggin' magic. Try it! And if you're not feeling yourself just yet, fake it 'til you make it, baby. No really. Pretend. Trust me on this.

In a society that profits from your self doubt, liking yourself is a rebellious act.

Sometimes I'll put on a piece of clothing on and think, "Not your best look." Maybe I think it makes me look bigger, or shows off some celly. So I'll make myself wear it anyway. I'm so done with letting my body image hold me back. For example, I wore some leggings to teach Pound the other night that made my thighs look less toned (hello, literal spotlight, while teaching in front of a class!). Plus, as I'm sure many of you can relate: one minute you can feel like a busted can of biscuits, and the next like a svelte supermodel. Like...sometimes even within the same hour. It's b a n a n a s how that works. 

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Awhile ago, I saw the movie I Feel Pretty with Amy Schumer. I went into it expecting cheesiness and forced humor. I was happily so wrong. It was fun, it was funny, it was touching. Highly recommend. 

There is more to say on this topic, but rather than going on for dayzzz about it, I'll split it up into two posts. Thanks for staying with me this far! In the next one, I'll highlight a FANTASTIC article my friend shared with me. You should consider checking out the post if you: 1. have social media. 2. are a parent. 3. are human. We'll discuss how beauty ideals have changed in this brave new world we're living in, which includes social media. Gone are the awkward teenagers, replaced by adolescents who know their angles, know their makeup, and know their sex appeal. I really think you'll be glad you read it. 

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xx,

-w-

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MOVE YA BODY
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Let's play a game of true or false. You in?  Okay, true or false:

  • You've ever felt less than motivated to work out
  • You've ever forced yourself through a workout, hating every minute but determined to get that summer bod on lock
  • You've ever talked yourself out of exercise and talked yourself into Netflix instead
  • You've ever blasted yourself for being lazy...yet somehow that tough love failed to translate into a regular fitness regimen
  • You've ever critiqued your body and wanted to change it yet...the thought of doing something about it leaves you feeling hopeless/overwhelmed so you just...don't
  • You've ever been too exhausted to work out because LIFE

If you answered "true" to one or more then...welcome to the human club!!! I feel you. I'm a driven and disciplined person and yet...there are days i realllly don't friggin' want to work out.  Like really. And the more I try to bully and convince myself I need to, the less I want to. I always feel better after I do, but overcoming that initial hump is brutal, amiright?!!

Want to know some tricks that have been game changers for me?!! They trigger such a mentality shift for me, and work every single time, whenever I'm hurting for motivation.


               Simply focus on M O V E M E N T


That's it. Forget about aesthetics and trying to look a certain way. Forget about forcing yourself to lift as heavy as last time because you're so consumed with progressing. Forget about burning a certain number of calories or achieving a certain number of steps. Forget about leg day and chest/back day and working a certain muscle group. JUST MOVE. 

Go for a walk (I love walking my dogs and zoning out to music - it soothes my soul like nothing else). Do a Fitness Marshall dance video on YouTube (total blast). Do a few yoga vinyasas. Take the stairs at work. Stand up every 10 seconds at work (more on this later). Eliminate the pressure on yourself and just focus on simply moving. THAT'S IT. [Re]discover the joy in it.

Next:


Grant yourself permission to quit after 10 minutes


If you're lobbying hard to convince yourself you need to go to workout but you just don't wanna - then tell yourself all you have to do is ten minutes. That's all. You can quit with dignity after logging 10 minutes. You can actually get an excellent workout in (hello HIIT!!! hello lifting heavy for low reps!!!) in that amount of time. And IT'S JUST TEN MINUTES. That's about the time it takes you to shower, or eat a snack, or start getting sucked into the social media vortex. JUST TEN MINUTES. You've got this!!!

If you need workout inspo, peep Alexia Clark on Instagram (my fave!) for ideas for quick but effective circuits. What I love about Alexia is her variety of workouts. She posts at least a couple of workouts daily - via both her feed and stories.

Or message me, and I'll happily shoot you a quick workout to do!!  If you choose a cardio machine, make the most of your time by avoiding steady-state cardio (unless you're just focusing on movement - then by all means, you do you!) and incorporating intervals by adjusting time/resistance/incline/speed throughout those ten minutes.

 

xx,

-w-

 

Images by Brooke Richardson Photography

Images by Brooke Richardson Photography