The Refined Collective: Creating Space

When it came to write about this month's subject for The Refined Collective, I had major writer's block and if I'm being completely and whole heartedly honest I feel like I've had writers block for a few months now. With so many transitions and changes in 2017 for me a lot of my energy has been focused on trying to get grounded and centered. This evening during my Yoga Teacher training class it hit me.

photo by Tonhya Kae for #lafemmeforte

photo by Tonhya Kae for #lafemmeforte


Creating space is about giving permission not just to others, but to yourself. It's about giving yourself the permission to try something new knowing that failure might be at the end. Throughout exploring my life with fitness I've found that every stage required a new challenge to face. Sometimes the challenge was a physical one like trying to increase the amount of weight I was lifting or trying to get into competition training and other times it was a mental one like being able to find yourself enough grace and inner strength to keep pushing through. After class I couldn't help but reflect back on this past year and all the lessons I've learned in life and how it all intertwines with one another. From making a huge career change to trying to have to navigate through all the different transitions in life. I underestimated the amount of grace I needed to provide myself through all these life changes and how much more energy emotionally and physically.

Sometimes I wish someone had told me these things before I started my fitness journey, instead I heard messages like "Despite life happening you're going to have to stick to your plan, you just have to push through." or "Life is going to happen and you have to stay the course no matter what." As true as those words are I think the messages that need to be told to people starting their fitness or health journey's are things like "You're going to fail and you're going to have setbacks, it's part of it, and that's OK" or "Give yourself permission to go slow." 

One of the issues I see with fitness so often is people who give themselves a hard time for not being able to complete a plan, stick to their diet, and/or to have to slow down on their fitness goals because "life gets in the way." The idea that life is getting in the way of our fitness seems so bizarre to me because life is what happens while we fitness.  Give your self permission to grow, learn, and to explore all the possibilities that your life is unfolding. Your workout is only 4% of your day, don't forget to create space for the rest of your life. 



This post is curated in conjunction with the ladies of The Refined Collective.  Be sure and read the other articles on love today by: The Refined Woman,  Jackie V., Lauren Scruggs, and Sarah Shreves.

Also, join us over on instagram today under #therefinedcollective to join the conversation.

The Refined Collective: Love

LOVE. How can a four letter word be so complicated? How does one thing that sounds so simple to understand turn into a complex language that has numerous layers just piled onto one another. Relationships are complicated. No two are the same. 

Just like any thing and everything we’ve placed a label on what the “perfect” love looks like. We’ve created this idea that love is supposed to be happily ever after and forever and always. Movies and media have shown us examples of both good love and bad love. And because we’re so heavily influenced by what we consume, its easy to forget what love means for one’s self. After being married for 9 years and hearing so many different stories about love I’ve learned how to define my own version of love.

In our culture, many of us idealize love. We see it as the cure to solve all of life’s problems. And yes I agree to a certain degree, but we overestimate that this will truly solve it all. 

Love is simply not enough. In order to thrive in a healthy relationship you have to understand that it requires more than just lofty ideals and pure emotion. Love, like your health and fitness goals require a deeper understanding of one’s values, intention, and respect from everyone involved in the relationship. 

You can fall in love with a wide variety of people throughout the course of your life. You can fall in love with people who are good for you and people who are bad for you. You can fall in love in healthy ways and unhealthy ways. You can fall in love when you’re young and when you’re old. Love is not unique. Love is not special. Love is not scarce. - Mark Manson

A healthy relationship requires an understanding of one another’s values and having the mutual respect that your values may be slightly different than the other person’s and may change over time. After all you are two people in the world experiencing life through two different lenses. You’ll gain a different perspective in the world based on these experiences. Of course we always look for someone who can sweep us off our feet, it’s what we all idealize. But you also need to evaluate someone’s intentions, values, and the how the respect and treat themselves and others. 

Love is a wonderful experience. It’s one of the greatest experiences life has to offer. But like any other experience, it can be unhealthy or healthy.

This Post is curated in conjunction with the ladies of The Refined Collective.  Be sure and read the other articles on love today by: The Refined Woman,  Jackie V.Tonyha Kae, and Tutti del Monte.

Also, join us over on instagram today under #therefinedcollective to see what everyone else has to say about love.

The Greatest Thing You Need to Transform Your Overall Health

Throughout my fitness journey I learned that the one thing you needed to transform your health is probably the least most talked about. It's not motivation, determination, discipline, or any of the other traits you probably are thinking of. Although those things are incredibly important they are not the greatest thing you need. I've found that the one thing you need in order to transpire change is forgiveness

It's common, but not the reason for some of us, to start our fitness journey because we're trying to "fix" something. It's as if we're programmed by society and outside expectations to view the changes that occur in our bodies, like getting out of shape and gaining weight, as a negative affect of shifting our precious energy into another area of our live's needs for that season or period in life. In my personal experience, I gained weight because I was pregnant with two children and after Olivia was born I was more focused on my career and family life than I was on losing the baby weight.

As much as others told me it was "OK." There was a part of me that felt guilty for not being like those other women who seemed to bounce right back to pre baby shape in 6 weeks. There was a huge part of me that almost shamed myself for not being this "perfect" mother/wife who had it all together. This mindset of guilt and shame was the seed that planted the stories of failure in my mind which then became toxic to my mental and physical health. The feelings of shame and self blame are cues that we all need in order to pay more attention to the actions that lead us there in the first place. These feelings are actually the first steps of self forgiveness and its a feeling we all need in order to let go and move forwards towards our health goals.

While there's no way to reverse time and undo what's happened in the past, you can make peace with it and provide yourself closure.

Here's 4 steps you can take towards self forgiveness:

  1.  Remind yourself that no one is perfect, including you. This might be the most important step. It's easy to get caught in a perfectionism mindset. But making mistakes is part of the journey. I read somewhere before that underneath one successful moment is a thousand failures and it is so true. Imagine all the times a baby falls in order to learn to make that first step, they rarely get it on the first try, and they keep getting up until they've got it. Babies don't aim for perfection they aim for progress when their learning to walk. It's something as adults we seem to forget as we're learning how to create a healthy balance in our lives. 
  2. Reduce rumination and focus on rumbling. In Brene Brown's book, Rising Strong, she refers to a reality check that we need as rumbling. While its easy to mistake rumbling for rumination, she states that "rumbling requires a degree of mindfulness." Ruminating is not being mindful, because you are over-identifying with something or ignoring stuff. But rumbling requires a little self identification of what you need to understand about yourself and the limitations or boundaries that need to be placed in order to not feel that same pain or suffering.
  3. Practice self-forgiveness. Like yoga, body building, playing a sport, or even learning a new skill; you need to practice! It's ok to recall or relive some of the past experiences and feelings the situation has caused. And when you do each time give yourself the grace, compassion, and empathy needed in order to forgive and let go. Some days its easier and others its more painful to recall. It's process that can lead to healing on step at a time.
  4. Embrace self-acceptance and change the things you have the power to control. The past is done, its written and we cannot rewrite it. So come to terms with it and accept it. What you do have the power to change is your future by redefining your actions towards it today. Getting stuck in a playback loop of the past is detrimental to your mental health and can have long term effects like depression or immune dysfunction. Keep that in mind the moment you feel like hitting replay and watching the scene in your mind over and over again. 

We often view health and fitness as physical conditions such as exercise and what we put into our bodies as fuel. And as much as the conversation is changing these days that health also equates to our mental and emotional wellbeing, there's still a whole lot of unsaid conversations about anxiety, depression, and the physical affects of mental illnesses or emotional imbalance. When we are unable to identify our mistakes, forgive ourselves, and let it go; we hold ourselves back from our greatest potential in living the most healthiest and happiest lives we deserve. 

Read my other posts for The Refined Collective

This article is written in collaboration with some of my favorite women.

Read more from #therefinedcollective:

The Refined Woman 

Lauren Scruggs Kennedy 

Chelsey Korus 

Tutti del Monte Photography

Nikia Phoenix


Loving the Skin You're in Through All the Stages of Your Fitness Journey

Loving the Skin You're in Through All the Stages of Your Fitness Journey

I once heard that our reality is largely made up of our perceptions and beliefs, not facts. And that our ideas and theories are based on experiences and opinions, so much so that we start to create stories from these views and judgements. Over time we start to believe these judgements as our truths.  Since we experience life differently from one another, how can we separate what's fact and what's merely a story created by opinions, judgements, and false validations from others and experiences?