My Fitness Journey

I never worried about fitness until I was in college. Dancing kept me in top shape growing up and allowed me the freedom to eat as much McDonald's as my heart desired. I encountered a problem when I started college and continued to live the McDonald's and Ben & Jerry's lifestyle. I had always been warned about the "Freshman 15", but thought I was safe because I didn't drink or party. I thought any weight gain by my changing body would be counteracted by the amount of dancing I was doing. Boy, was I wrong.

My first fitness Instagram post!

Because I'm tall, my body had more room to hide the extra pounds I was packing on and I didn't notice that my body had changed until I had gained almost 25 pounds. I became unhappy with the way I looked so I started hiding my body with layers of dark clothing. Summer came around and I was determined to do something about my weight. I had started seeing ads for the Tone It Up program, a nutrition and exercise plan created by women for women. It was quite a financial investment at the time so I started doing their free workout videos on Youtube to see if I even liked their method. I fell in love with it. Karena Dawn and Katrina Scott, the team behind TIU, had such beautiful and accepting energy. I decided to purchase the plan and become a member. For almost three years I religiously followed the plan. I never felt restricted or pressured to eat less. I was actually eating more than ever before: five small meals a day with healthy snacks between meals. The nutrition portion of the TIU plan (created by a registered dietician) focused on eating "Lean, Clean, and Green" which meant lots of green vegetables and lean protein.

Fitness blogger in action
What I loved most about the Tone It Up plan was how adaptable it is. The plan is totally customizable to every member. The workouts are all 30 minutes or less and require little equipment, so there was no excuse for me to skip my workouts. They are also really fun and offer modifications for every level, so you can start from the beginning and build yourself up. On the TIU plan I lost the weight that I had gained during my freshman year. I formed a workout routine that made me feel good (a mix of cardio, strength training, and Pilates). And by creating a fitness-based Instagram to keep me accountable, I found an online community that kept me inspired and feeling supported. That's when HealthyBunhead was born! (If you have ever been curious about TIU - please ask me! I also recommend these three workouts, which are my favorites: Love Your Body HIIT Routine, Bikini Series Arms Routine, and the Fat-Burning Treadmill Workout.)

I continued to follow the Tone It Up plan until I moved to New York City in January 2016. When I was adjusting to my new home I was very unhappy and felt so alone. I would reward myself with food for making it through the day. Chips and cookies became my closest friends when I had no one else. Again I packed on the pounds. When I was pressured to lose weight by a program I was participating in, I gained even more. All of my progress and confidence was lost.

At IMAXShift, my home
My roommate in NYC at the time was teaching cycling classes at a boutique gym and kindly guested me into her class once a week. I fell immediately in love with the bike. I craved it. I felt like every day spent without a bike was wasted. A new cycling studio opened up in Brooklyn and I couldn't wait to try it. I signed up for the first class that fit into my schedule, not knowing how greatly my life would be impacted. IMAXShift (the new cycling studio) became my home. Bree Branker (my first IMAX instructor) became my life coach and greatest role model. In that studio I began to see glimpses of the person I could be. I pushed myself to new limits, I set new goals, I found a new family. Around the same time IMAX came into my life, I began my job at ivivva (lululemon) and found an incredible new team that supported my fitness goals.

Working in fitness keeps me in all of New York's hottest studios and learning from the best trainers in the world. In addition to my spinning addiction, I have added weekly bootcamp classes (Akin's Army) with Bree which have completely challenged me outside of where I thought my comfort zone was. Bootcamp is the hardest class I have ever taken, without a doubt. The first time I went to bootcamp, I laughed at the idea of ever returning. I was grateful to have survived one class and I was never going back. But I went back. And I went back again. I set a goal of attending 10 classes and before I knew it, I had gone to 15. Now it has become my happy place. I know I am capable of making it through class so I am trying to set my standards higher. It is (and always will be) incredibly difficult, but I love pushing limits and I love the amazing community.

GIRL GANG after Akin's Army

Exercise and the fitness world have changed my life. It is my passion and my constant. Fitness taught me that I can show up for myself and be my own support. Right now I am working toward my personal training certification from the National Academy of Sports Medicine, which I am expecting to complete in September. My goal is to be a group fitness instructor, specifically spinning. I want to help others discover how much a bike can add to their life, like it has to mine.

"A bicycle ride is a flight from sadness."
- James E. Starss


New York City FITWeek 2017

Bootcamp & bulldozer smoothies
When I'm not dancing or taking pictures of rainbow food, it's a safe bet that I'm out sweating somewhere. Fitness became my sanctuary last summer after going through tough times. I feel so at home on a bike, doing more push-ups than I ever thought possible, or stabilizing my core on a Pilates reformer. So when I was approached to be an Ambassador of NYC FITWeek this year, I was stoked!

During the fourth annual FITWeek, the New York fitness community will come together to raise money for education. Creator Emily Cook Harris and her team have raised over $16,000 to date! We are supporting She's the First (provides education scholarships and mentorships to girls in low-income countries) and DonorsChoose.org (provides public school teachers with the basic supplies their students need to succeed). Education is a cause close to my heart because so many of my family members work to make an impact for the next generation. When I think about the number of times I took my education for granted, I feel so guilty. There is a world full of children who wish they had essays due and finals to study for. So come sweat with me for a great cause! If you cannot attend, you can always donate via the websites I linked above.

I am proud to be the ambassador for fitBallet, a class that combines the strength and elongation of ballet with high energy circuit training. Ballet and burpees, a dynamic duo! My class is at 7PM on Wednesday, May 10, located at Pearl Studios (every dancer's favorite, right?!). After class we can selfie it up together and enjoy healthy snacks. It's going to be a great time! But if my class isn't your cup of tea, there is a whole week of amazing classes benefiting She's the First and DonorsChoose.org. See the schedule below for more options. Making a difference to a child through fitness is an amazing opportunity and I am honored to be a part of this event.

See you on Wednesday! Let's sweat!


Dear Dancer (A Love Letter to You During Audition Season)

Dear Dancer, in the holding room at Ripley, Pearl, or wherever you may be, let's take a moment to remember things. As the room fills and your confidence wavers, give yourself this pep talk and acknowledge the sheer brilliance of everything you are.

You are capable. You are a dancer (singer, actress, friend, etc.). You have likely been training and honing your craft for years. Why doubt your ability now? You deserve to be in that room. Your talent is so unique and desirable. No one can dance like you. Do you know that? There is only one you, and there will only ever be one you throughout all time. Somewhere out there a casting director/choreographer/agent is looking for exactly your talent. How will they find you unless you shine bright like the beacon you are? Don't let yourself be intimidated by the other bright beacons in the room. Under no circumstance will their talent dim yours. There is room for everyone to shine and if we all shine together, the world will be a much brighter and more enlightened place to inhabit.

You are beautiful. Give thanks to your amazing body for its strength, grace, and willingness to comply with the incredible demand placed on it. You are so lucky to have an instrument from which you can express so many voices, stories, and emotions. Your body literally brings people joy simply by moving. Not everyone possesses that gift. It is your responsibility to share it. Don't get caught up wishing you had flatter abs, more defined legs, a super flexible arch. While you are wishing you had what they had, one thousand more people are wishing they could have merely a fraction of what you have. You are created perfectly just as you are. Celebrate your body and the experience of being you.

You are exactly where you are meant to be. No matter how the audition goes, remember this: what's meant for you will not pass you. You are on a journey completely unique to you. You can do your best to shape your journey, but ultimately what's meant to be will be. Take comfort in the fact that you are doing exactly what you are supposed to be doing and have faith that in the end, everything will be okay. I promise. Enjoy the journey. Learn from every person and every situation you encounter. You were meant to encounter them. Don't take those rejections to heart. They are preparing you for your personal destiny. Keep yourself open and the wonderful gifts that are meant for you will have no trouble finding you. Be receptive and vulnerable even though it is difficult. Keep the faith.

And if all else fails, remember that even Beyoncé has had to audition for gigs. Look how far she got by shining her own way.

Love and light always.
I'll see you in the holding room,