Hey Lithe. How’s it goin’?
So here’s the thing - I had a baby and stuff got weird. I mean, it’s not as if I wasn't warned that it was going to happen. Throughout my pregnancy everyone with a face insisted on telling me about the delightful physical changes that occur both during and after pregnancy. I smiled my way through a number of traumatic conversations around birthing hips and foot swelling. But, turns out the alarmists were right on this one. I emerged from my pregnancy about 9 months ago with a wonderful baby girl named Perry and a whole mess-o baby weight.
In the interest of full disclosure I should mention that I wasn't exactly rockin’ a Victoria’s Secret Angel body pre-baby, but I've always been active. When I found out I was pregnant (read: surprise!) I had been Lithing for a few months, maybe 2 or so days a week. I supplemented with fairly long runs and some spinning. Exercise has always been a big part of my life and I think, key to my sanity. Although I'm slightly embarrassed to do so I have to admit that I obsessed throughout my pregnancy about when I could get active again. I was basically chomping at the bit to no longer be a swollen, hormonal maniac.
The doctors cleared me for physical activity 6 week after my c-section and I was ready to roll. I busted out that jogging stroller and made it happen, only to find that the strain of running caused me incredible pain in my lower back and hips. Not one to give up easily, I kept running only to find things escalating to the point where I was unable to pick up the baby. Panicked about how I’d get back in action, the friend that I had Lithed with pre-baby (shout out to Lindsay) suggested that I start up again, so I hit the studio. I started with Step Rally, which had been one of my pre-baby favorites. Needless to say, it was hardly a magical experience. I left class crying and drenched with sweat, shocked by how far my strength and stamina had fallen. But the thing is, I kept coming back.
It’s hard for me to even say that I enjoyed Lithe before the baby. I spent so much of my time hiding in the back, stressed about what the fitness mavens in the class might think of me. I also felt certain that I could only do the sculpting classes because my tall and moderately awkward (on the best day) body doesn't lend itself well to CCS.
But after a few post-baby classes, I found myself letting all that go. It wasn't about just surviving through classes, it was about thriving. I forgot about everyone around me and instead looked inside…literally. I started thinking about my breathing and my core. I focused on the instructors’ cues instead of praying that they’d ignore me entirely. I even started doing the unthinkable…I asked for their input on my form.
What I’ve found is that my time in the studio is now entirely stress-free. I’m able to focus on improving each time and not worry about how ridiculous I look during that RockSteady CCS sequence (I know the answer – fairly goofy). It's funny to notice that around the time that I stopped caring if I looked like JLo is when I started to see some great results.
So now, you name the class, I take it. Pom? I’m there! Sideline? You betcha. All That? With bells on! I can’t say it’s entirely about confidence, but something has changed for me. It’s easier for me to feel accepted because I see that we’re all in the studio with different motivations, but we’re all in it together. We’re trying to improve for a countless reasons, each one as valid as the next. It’s about accepting who you are and having a little fun with it. If you don’t know the steps just be sure to keep moving…and you might surprise yourself. Letting go is fun. Not to mention very good for your hip pops.
This is my Lithe love letter to you and your amazing team. For years I struggled with a very serious eating disorder. When something life altering or traumatizing happens, the human body finds a way to cope with the pain. When I was 18 my life got turned upside down. Instead of dealing with my trauma, I decided to internalize my pain, creating a demon within. My eating disorder stripped everything from me, leaving nothing but emptiness. I didn't have the capability to smile, feel happiness or love; I just felt a numb. The only thing I cared about was my image. I starved myself, over-exercised, purged, and did everything in my power to become "perfect." This internal battle went on for years, causing my weight and health to plummet. I was dying inside and out.
The morning of my 22nd birthday, I woke up truly furious that I was still alive. All I wanted was to be dead so that this demon would finally leave me. I tried to push it away, make it leave my body, but all of my attempts failed. It was at that moment I knew I had too much to live for. I was young, smart, and athletic with the world at my fingertips. My family is the greatest thing in my life. If I couldn't get better for myself, then I would get better for them. I knew my disorder was tearing them apart each and every day. I got up, got dressed, and marched down to the University of Alabama's student services center to withdraw myself from school (I was halfway through the first semester of my senior year). I bookeda flight home to Delaware that day, only leaving another time to say goodbye to my loved ones.
The morning after returning home, I researched the best rehab facilities in the U.S. Remuda Ranch came up in my search. A very amazing treatment facility in Arizona would be my new home for the next few months. Within two days I had arrived leaving the real world behind. I was in treatment for four months total. No phone, computer, TV, mirrors, etc. This was a legitimate rehab that took all triggers away and that was my saving grace. I put my life into my team's hands. Strict meal plans were enforced and there was intense therapy for hours a day. By the time my four months was over, I was up 15 pounds and had a clear head. I was happy for the first time in years.
I returned home the day before Thanksgiving (crazy holiday to return to, I know). I went to my aunt's holiday party begrudgingly. That night I met the love of my life and have been happily with him ever since. Funny how that worked! Anyways, we now live together in Old City and have the most amazing life together. I am almost done with my marketing degree and will soon be the college graduate I planned to be.
Lithe Method was one of the most pivotal things in my recovery. It truly changed my idea of what a woman's body should be. Instead of idealizing skinny, frail models, I now look at you and all the other instructors as what we should be. All unique, strong, and motivated. No matter how hard we try to fix our imperfections, they are a part of us. I see you and the other women who could kick some serious ass and to me that is awesome. Those weak models would snap after one seesaw.
Lauren, you truly are one of the most beautiful people I have ever seen. Not just esthetically, but internally as well. You realize that being perfect is impossible and it isn't something we should strive for. Finding Lithe fresh out of treatment was the best thing that happened to me. Being a Lither made my recovery successful beyond my wildest dreams. Your whole outlook on exercise changed mine and I now respect my body and all the amazing things it does for me. I used to not have a single muscle on my body. Now I am fit, happy, healthy, and most importantly strong. You have no idea what Lithe means to me, but I thank you from the bottom of my heart. Lithe has changed my life and helps me to smile every single day. Thank you, thank you, thank you!
All my love,
Dear Lithe Community,
As some of you have realized, I have had to take a personal leave from Lithe and haven't been in the studio recently. I wanted to share what's been going on with me and also hope that it might inspire you to start your New Year with a fresh perspective like it has done for me.
Earlier this fall, I started to have trouble with my vision. It started gradually, but by November it was quickly deteriorating to the point where I could no longer read, drive, differentiate colors, or see my husband's and daughter's faces clearly. I went to an ophthalmologist about six weeks ago and was sent for an emergency MRI. They found a tumor on my brain that was pressing on my optic nerve, causing the changes in my vision. Making things a bit more complicated, I am also 14 weeks pregnant. The hormones from my pregnancy were stimulating the tumor, which the doctors believe led to my sudden loss in vision. The tumor was thankfully benign, but it was large and growing more quickly because of my pregnancy, so the doctors wanted to move fast.
About three weeks ago, I underwent a craniotomy to have the tumor removed. It was a long procedure that lasted over 10 hours, but fortunately my neurosurgeon was very happy with the removal and everything went well. And, even though I have not had any official testing yet, my vision appears to have fully returned or, at the very least significantly improved, and I can see more clearly than I have seen for a long time. The doctors believed that I was at a serious risk of being permanently blind and had told me that it would be "something of a miracle" to wake up from surgery with my vision fully recovered, so I feel extremely fortunate. I have also had three ultrasounds since my surgery, and my baby is doing well and growing right on track. For these things, in particular, I will forever be grateful.
Over the past few weeks, I have been feeling better and my recovery has gone about as well as it could be. Less than 48 hours after my surgery, I was able to move around, take short walks, and even managed to make it up and down a flight of stairs on my own. My doctors and physical therapists at the hospital were impressed with my strength and stamina after such a major surgery and had told me that it would be a game-changer in my recovery. I am thankful that I am in good shape, and know that it has made such a difference in helping me to overcome so many of the challenges my body has faced since my surgery. In the past, I've worked out with intentions of "fitting into that smaller dress from a few years ago" or "getting bikini-ready for summer", but this experience has helped me to realize how important it is to be active and fit, for no other reason, than to simply be healthy.
When the doctors found my tumor, I was told that I could no longer exercise because they didn't want me straining in any way. While I knew that I would miss it, I was not prepared for the void I would feel by not being active. I miss moving my body, taking walks with and carrying my daughter, and, of course, lithing, more than I could have imagined. For me, it has truly been the hardest part of my recovery; trying to just relax and forcing myself to do less and rest more. Once I return to a more active lifestyle again, I know that I will not take it for granted, and that I have found a much greater appreciation for it.
As anyone can imagine, receiving the news of my initial diagnosis was a life-changing shock for my family and me. And while I definitely can't say that I'm thankful for it, I am grateful for the new perspective it has given me. In the beginning, I kept thinking this can't be for real...this can't be happening. I'm not sure if it's even fully sunk in at this point. It definitely was a jolt that shook me to my very core. How quickly life can change in a matter of seconds. For me personally, it has always been easy to over-think minor details, to let my to-do lists run too long, and to get caught up in "keeping up," to the point where these things take over and cause me a great deal of stress and worry. But in the face of a situation like the one I've just been through, I realize that so much of this doesn't matter and that life is just too short. Now I can appreciate that, at the end of the day, there are very few things that truly matter aside from health, family, and friends. My New Year's resolution is to keep this new perspective in mind each and every day, and to be there for others during their time of need, just as I’ve been lucky enough to have so many people here for me.
I am looking forward to regaining my strength and getting back into the studios and seeing all of you over the next month or two. Wishing you all a very healthy and Happy New Year!
While traveling in Rincon, Puerto Rico this winter break, I ran into fellow Lither Angela Berke!
What a great year! Thank YOU for all of your hard work and dedication: We completed 3 challenges, 2 Lithe Escapes, traveled on tour to Seoul, NYC & LA, celebrated a decade in Philly, Welcomed 11 fantastic new instructors (Meredith, Cate, Jen L., Maggie, Jenn B., Annette, Liz S., Kalika, Jonathan, Alicia, Katie B), 3 veteran instructors became Masters, debuted 7 new workouts (Rah, Lithe Beach, Hi-Top, All That, Sideline, Mercy & Lithe Lab), 2 WKND's and have seen the most killer camaraderie and results than ever before! Here's to 2015! Check out some of our favorite posts...
Lithe Escape Jamaica, Lithe WKND, Lithe Escape Tulum, Love Letters, Kristy's Before & After, Lithe Tour Philly, Seoul, NYC & LA, Because I'm Perfect, Lauren's Gym Bag Essentials, Beauty Tips for a tired face, 3 Days to Flat Abs, Lauren for Prevention, Breaking the Mom Cycle, Talking biz with Forbes & Jon Oringer, Fall Transformation Results, Elizabeth Tomkins x Destination Maternity, Lithe Foods x Art In The Age Skinny Heathen series, Sayeh's Living Lithe Tips, Earned in Winter Challenge, Results, T-Minus 30 Challenge, Mission: Lithe, Mama Says, Lithe Spice No.1, Meg G. & Lithe on BLDG 25, love from the Press & Eating Lithe,
I still feel the magic of yesterday's Lithe Tour Philly celebrating ten years of Lithe. With 200+ people in the studio glowing from "All That," live DJ beats bumping wall-to-wall, and cocktails flowing, there was a special energy that I'll never forget.
Kalika asked if this was anyone’s first time taking Sideline. Of course, I didn’t raise my hand … Does anyone, ladies? Oh, yes allow me to VOLUNTEER the fact that I will be flopping around like a fish on land for the next 60 minutes. Kalika will find out soon enough … poor woman. Somehow I was sandwiched between two girls who I affectionately referred to as Kirsten Dunst in Bring it On! And Janet Jackson in the "Rhythm Nation" video (thank you, Beyonce and Blue Ivy for allowing me to reference your Halloween costumes).
As I watched these girls ROCK IT OUT during the cardio segment, my hip pops looked like I had some sort of medical ailment. When Kalika announced, “Keep your middle fingers stretched,” you can imagine what I wanted to do with my middle finger. When it seemed like the cardio would never end, we transitioned to the sculpting part of class. Then Kalika announced, “Whoops! We did back-to-back cardio by mistake!” The other Lithe girls sweetly laughed and I glared at her to such an extent that all the ice melted in Alaska.
Okay, sculpting! Here we go! I settled myself on my mat (aka correction corner) and got ready for the next portion of class. It went to next level and we used the Pom bands to sculpt both legs and arms. I only got tangled in the bands twice. For motivation to free myself, I pretended I was a spider caught in a web (the "Rhythm Nation" chick looked like a beautiful butterfly emerging from a cocoon). FINALLY, class was over. As I exited the room like a person crawling towards water in a desert, something weird happened. I felt invincible. I felt strong. I had survived. I had done it. Sure, I didn’t look like a member of the L.A. Lakers dance team, but I DID it.
As I reflected on my morning workout, I realized two things: One: I left my water bottle and some dignity in the studio. Two: I had done my best. And today my best was good enough. I walked into my apartment and immediately opened the app and signed up for Sideline again. Damn it, Lithe. You have hooked me and I love you for it.
See you tomorrow,
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