6

Chill the heck out.

I first taught aerobics classes at Penn State: Cardio Fit and Butts & Guts (in a thong in the main gym if you can believe it! So cringe-worthy!) before graduating to barre classes while in law school in NYC with the woman who started it all, Lotte Burke. Then I moved into P90X, CrossFit, and Insanity. I’ve done it all for the last 20-plus years and I look back wishing I knew then what I know now. 

So what do I now know? 

I don’t have to kill it at the gym every day to stay fit, lean, and strong. I finally got out of the “I need hardcore cardio and weights” mindset that I had for so many years. In fact, this attitude added to my overall stress and inflammation that had been building for years before I even opened up my fitness studio. Through my functional doctor, Dr. Anca Sisu, I found that my C- reactive protein levels (CRP) — a protein produced by the liver that responds to inflammation — were really high and Dr. Sisu wanted me to cool it and take my exercise down a few levels to avoid adding any further to my internal stress. 

Before I met with Dr. Sisu, I was hitting my studio’s boot camp and HIIT classes 3 times per week and taking our Total Body classes 3 times per week.  After meeting with Dr. Sisu, I began taking yoga 3-4 week and taking the Total Body Express classes. Just as important as my new fitness routine, I adopted a total change in attitude. I no longer went into class to “kill it” and be the strongest person in the room. I adjusted my thoughts to focus on being “good enough” and continued to listen to my body throughout every class. If a move hurt my shoulders, I made a modification instead of muscling through. If my back was aching one day, I took it slower in yoga and held the poses longer. If I had a terrible night’s sleep, I took it even slower in class. Bottom line: I chilled the f out. There is no Olympics for cardio. There was no finish line where I was running. I now know I don’t need six-pack abs, just a long, lean, healthy body I am proud of. 

I learned that the most important elements of full-body wellness are attainability — of good form and good health —  and sustainability. My goals have evolved to where I am now dedicated to staying healthy, fit, flexible, and energetic until I leave this Earth. I don’t want to be a stiff, broken person as I get older. I want to be that wild lady in her 80s doing headstands in yoga and having the deepest lunges on the Reformer. As the Universe is always talking to us, it just so happens I was in a yoga class recently in Colorado with two older women, both of whom were in their 70s. One of the women taught the class and was more graceful, energetic, and flexible than most people I know who are half her age. The other woman needed a chair to get up and down off the floor, could not bend over, straighten her legs or perform one move without major assistance. Of course I don’t know the second woman’s limitations but I can tell you that if given a choice there is no question as to which of the two I aspire to be!