On Wednesdays this month, I’m featuring some of my fit and fabulous friends. Last week was Kayla, and this week is Chelsea Castner of Just Ask Y. Chelsea worked with me at All That JAS at Elon. After college, she moved to New York City like I did but had a more difficult time adjusting than she expected to. Find out how discovering yoga helped Chelsea slowly make the transition and change her attitude about fitness.
All Images via Chelsea Castner
My relationship to working out is exactly like my approach to flossing my teeth. I should do it everyday, but if I go a few days (and GASP, at times more than a week), I know my body’s not instantly turning to Jell-O, nor will my teeth fall out. But I didn’t always have this lenient fitness deal with myself; actually, I just freed myself as an inmate to my cinderblock prison, the gym.
My discovery of the gym coincided with those early high school years when body issues tend to attack a young women’s self-esteem. After pasta parties or bake sales, I would put myself in time-out on the treadmill. As long as I kept making the gym my punishment, I wasn’t allowing myself to find the enjoyment in fitness. It was an utter waste of endorphins!
When I moved to the city, I imagined myself being a happy, healthy and wealthy New Yorker, but it was impossible to outrun the stress, exhaustion and the extra lbs. So, I did what I knew how to do. I put on the handcuffs and dragged myself to the gym every day pre, and often post, work. It was grueling, and certainly didn’t help fade the circles from under my tired eyes.
I quickly burned out and was desperate to find a new approach. I surrendered my ways and started attending yoga classes with my roommate. I had gone to a couple of classes beforehand and was convinced it wasn’t my thing, mostly because my mind was saying “It’s stretching, you can’t ever loose weight doing this.” It took a few classes, but I finally realized that on the days I practiced yoga, I was taking better care of myself. My mind was quieter, I didn’t overeat, I had more energy, I fell asleep faster. Most of all, I actually enjoyed being in the yoga class.
Yoga became my path to finding myself, my mind, through moving my self, my body. I realize now it was my mind that was committing the food crimes, but I was sentencing my body to doing the time. I no longer look at the gym as a prison or fitness as a punishment (there may be a few bootcamp classes that still fall into this category). If I am going to give my precious time to the gym, it’s going to be doing something I enjoy, or at least feel good doing.
If you’re on your own pursuit of health, here are two tips to help turn the torture into fun:
- Make a change to see the change. If your current fitness routine is not moving you closer to your health goals, it’s time you make a change. It can be as small as new sneakers or trying out a boutique fitness class every other week. Or maybe you need to really shake it up, like finally switching gyms so you no longer have to work out in a place that’s too dark, too far, too dirty, too manly, etc.
- Dress the part. I realized that wearing old sorority t-shirts to the gym was not only a fashion mishap, but it also made me feel sloppy, which in turn made my workout sloppy. When I started dressing up in colored tanks, slimming spandex and bright headbands I found that I began pushing myself harder. I was no longer trying to blend in with the background, I wanted to stand out in the mirror so I could watch and cheer myself on through every rep.