My mother always loved telling me the story of my birth. I was two weeks late, and had put her on bed rest towards the end of her pregnancy. The way she always tells it is, that I waited until the moment I was ready and once I decided it was my time to arrive, I came fast and with force. Only two hours after her first contraction, I came tumbling out (literally) doing a twisting backflip on my way into the world — sticking the landing and weighing in at a whopping ten pounds.
I love the Olympics. I know it’s rare to find someone who doesn’t, but I LOVE the Olympics. Perhaps it’s because I once had Olympic dreams of my own during my career as a three-day eventer in the equestrian arena. In any case, there is no denying how special the Olympic games are, and how inspiring it is to watch those athletes.
Anyone who knows me (I was going to say “knows me well,” but I'm not sure you have to know me well to pick up on this!) knows I tend to like to be in control of things — control of my time, control of my surroundings, control of my plans, control of how I feel, control of my relationships, and control of my career. Sometimes extreme type A personality can be a strength, but just as often, it can make life more difficult than it needs to be.
Just like most people in this country, once the news had spread about the shooting at Pulse nightclub in Orlando two Sundays ago, my heart broke. And just like everyone else, I watched the news coverage in disbelief that 49 members of the LGBT community - 49 humans - had just senselessly lost their lives while doing what all young (and old) people should be doing on a Saturday night - going out with their friends and loved ones to dance, drink, and enjoy life. And like so many others, it hit me that I could have just as easily been one of those 49, as I, too, have spent so many Saturday nights packed into a lively establishment dancing and drinking away with my friends. And then the next thought hit me, and this one made me mad and made me wonder how our world has gotten to this place: I don’t feel safe anymore.
I really wanted to see if there was a way for me to talk about challenge without bringing up my mother’s death, as sometimes I feel like a broken record when I write about losing her. However, as I sit here writing, waiting for my family to arrive at my apartment to kick off the weekend of my mother’s unveiling, I realize I wouldn’t be authentic to my experience with challenge if I didn’t talk about her — be it this weekend, or anytime, really.
Change is hard. Period. There is a reason so many of us truly and deeply fear change as it so often takes us out of our comfort zones, leads us into the unknown, and often onto seemingly unsteady ground. Moreover, the majority of us are creatures of habit — and habits, like people, are just hard to change.
While we’ve never really been in the business of encouraging people to change their bodies, I am tempted to start a new trend: The Fall Body! However, in all seriousness, summer is what we look forward to all winter (and freezing spring), but I feel like we are literally ripping the joy out of it by making it all about how we look during this glorious season.
It feels fitting to be writing on the theme of “being bold” the week one of the boldest human beings of our time passed away — Prince. While it is unquestionable that Prince was a true talent, a beautiful artist, a trailblazing trendsetter, a fashion icon, and a true legend, what was truly at the essence of his audacity? Being bold, to me, means lacking the fear of going against the grain.
In the initial days of my mother’s cancer diagnosis, I was fielding endless emails, texts, and phone calls from all of our friends and family. While this outpouring of love meant more to my family than anything, we simply couldn’t keep up with all of the communication, while also trying to navigate the early days of this new and arduous journey ahead for both my mother and my family. So I decided to start a blog.
Shortly after the attacks in Belgium happened last week, there was an overwhelming amount of around-the-clock media coverage on what happened, as well as an outpouring of messages of love and support for the people of Brussels (and Paris again) over social media and other outlets. However, there was also an outpouring of messages of frustration over the fact that hundreds of other terrorist attacks had happened in places like Turkey since the Paris attacks, yet had seemingly gone unnoticed by so many. For some reason this really struck me, and I ended up in a long discussion with Jamie, The Sweat Life’s Editorial Director, during one of our content meetings.
Balance. I truly believe that achieving balance is one of the keys to leading a happy and healthy life. However, I also know that finding said balanced life and maintaining it is one of the biggest challenges we all face, every day. Each one of us, no matter what our lot in life is, has some sort of balancing act we must perform daily.
They say everything happens in threes. Well, I certainly hope that’s true when it comes to loss in the last year of my life — I lost my mother to ovarian cancer last February, one of my dear friends, Alex Niles, to gastric cancer just a few weeks later, and then my relationship with the man I thought I was going to marry come June. By summer’s end, I barely even recognized my life. While I continued to push forward and “show face” for The Sweat Life, my personal life was struggling and so was I.
As health and fitness becomes trendier and trendier these days, there are more ways to get fit, more “superfoods” and diet plans introduced daily, and more platforms and people telling you the “best” way to get fit and healthy. While it’s incredibly positive to have so many choices in how to up your health game, it’s often hard to figure out what is fact and what is fad, and who it is that really knows the difference.
If you are a Sweat Life reader — or even if you are new to what we do (hello!) — you’ve most likely found your way to our little piece of the internet because you are interested in living your best life. In other words, you are living empowered: empowered to be happy, empowered to be healthy, empowered to be fit. Empowering people is pretty much our biggest goal.
EMPOWERED. This is a word that should be used on a daily basis when it comes to our internal conversations with ourselves. Finding your sources of empowerment should quite literally be the number one goal of your life. When you are truly empowered, you are in control of yourself, your life, and (don’t judge me for using this word) your destiny.
While society has clearly progressed in so many ways over the last hundred, even fifty years, recently I can’t help but step back and question, “Is this really the world we live in?” In a century which has seen countless wars (including two world wars), slavery, genocide, racism, discrimination, and continuing terrorism, it often astounds me that with everything we’ve been through together as a human race, we still do not see the citizens of this earth as just that: humans.
If the past year has taught me anything, it's that nothing in this life is permanent, including suffering. While 2015 in so many ways will be forever marked as one of the most challenging years of my life, this year has taught me that even your darkest hours are opportunities to tap into your strongest and most resilient self, that time cures all, and there is always light at the end of the tunnel if you are willing to put in the work to find it.
Last month I had the good fortune of being invited on a 5-day surf trip to Nicaragua. Despite my many years of claiming “this is going to be the year I learn how to surf,” I had yet to actually do it. Moreover, I hadn’t taken more than a long weekend off in over a year — despite all the happenings in my life in the last year (most of which you guys know by now) — and even then, I usually worked more than I relaxed. So this trip was a milestone on several levels.
There have been more times over the past year than I would like to admit that I thought or said to myself, “I can’t do this.” After losing my mother to a grueling battle with cancer, losing a dear friend also to cancer shortly after, going through a major breakup, and countless other aftershocks in my personal life, all while trying to grow The Sweat Life, it felt, at times, like more than I could bear.
Thanksgiving has always been the “biggest” and most important holiday for my family. Growing up in an Upper West Side building that overlooks the route for the Macy’s Day Parade, our annual parade party has been the longest standing tradition in my family and in my life. I have memories of being a child and waking up at the crack of dawn to see the crowds of people, already lining the streets before the sun had even come up — bundled up and anxiously awaiting the start of the parade — just as I was in my cozy home.
While getting healthy is an extremely personal journey, I have always been a believer in the power of having a support system, a FitFam I like to call it, and a go-to partner in crime to help keep you motivated, keep you on track, and, most importantly, to let you know you are not alone in your journey. These are also people who will be your champion, people who will push you to push yourself, people who will teach you new things, and people who you can count on to keep you accountable with yourself.
If you are a reader of The Sweat Life, that likely means you are already someone who puts some stake into your healthy living (or you are related to me). While we are all clearly aware of the health benefits of eating well and staying active, too seldomly do we talk about or give enough weight to the importance of rest and recovery — which is just as essential to our health.
I remember the first time I ever swung a golf club. While I played nearly every sport growing up, despite my avid-golfer-father’s many attempts to try and get me interested in hitting the links, I just had no interest in what-I-didn’t-consider-even-a-real-sport. However, knowing me too well, my father finally realized just what he had to say to coax me into picking up a driver.
Through this journey of The Sweat Life and my journey with my mother, I've been afforded the chance to work with a lot of people either going through cancer journeys themselves, or through a journey to lead a healthier lifestyle. I have a go-to phrase I often use, that you have to “build your army."
Life can so often feel like one big race, and it’s so easy to get caught up in our day-to-day lives, that at times we even forget why we are racing so hard and fast, who or what we are racing against, and what we are racing towards. It is essential to find a pit stop, take a breather, look around, and make sure you know what direction you are going and why.
You know that feeling when time seems to be flying by and you don’t even know where the last year of your life went? Yet, at the very same time, that same year can feel like 10 years? That’s how I feel sitting here, attempting to write about the first year of The Sweat Life. While so much of me can’t believe it’s already been a year since we launched this little site of ours, it’s even harder to think it’s only been a year, as this journey has felt like a lifetime.
It seems no matter how old I get, or how many years I’ve been out of school, my life calendar still seems to be set in semesters. The end of summer always elicits a feeling of heading back into the school year — even though I no longer attend an actual school. While summer’s end always feels a bit sad, there is also a sense of excitement and possibility for new beginnings with the coming of fall.
If you’re a regular follower of The Sweat Life and read my last Aly Sweats post, I think we can agree that “The Sweet Life” is just about the opposite of how I would describe the state of my life at the moment. Yet, when everything seems to have fallen to bits, you come to realize that this is actually an amazing opportunity to put those pieces back together in your own perfect design, and create your sweetest life.
While I would most certainly call myself a yogi, this was not always the case. I used to be like most former athletes — wanting my workout to feel, well, like a “workout.” At the time, yoga just looked like stretching, a practice meant for old people or crunchy hipsters. Yet my sister was neither of these things, and she was the one who brought me to my first yoga class.
I have always been a subscriber to the belief that there is no point in doing anything if you aren’t willing to put your entire heart into it. Without your heart, you are simply performing a task, going through the motions, and both the endeavor as well as you will suffer for it. For me, this isn’t some philosophy I adopted over the years. Even as a small child, I was all heart.
Don’t you sometimes wish there was a PAUSE button for life?! Some magical device that would allow you to freeze time and freeze the world around you to let you catch your breath and just regroup for a minute… or an hour… or month.