I never intended for The Sweat Life to be an exposé on my personal life, but at the same time I know that in order to achieve what I set out to do with this company and this brand, I need to be willing to put my heart on the line and put myself out there fully. How could I ask so many others to share their stories and be so vulnerable if I, myself, am not willing to do the same? It’s a tough line: The Sweat Life was never intended to be about me, but instead to be FOR you. Yet how can I fully offer anything honest to you, without being fully honest myself?

With that said, I had planned to write a letter this week about how leading a healthy lifestyle is not just about traditional “health,” but about happiness. While, this point has never rung more true than at this very moment for me, I expressed to my editor, Jamie, that I was having trouble writing a letter about happiness during such a challenging time for myself — and she in turn, encouraged me to consider just being honest with you about what’s happening. So here I am, about to do just that.

If you know my story or the story of our company, then you are also likely familiar with my mother’s story — as she is so much of the inspiration behind The Sweat Life. My mother, Vivian Teich, embodies the word “warrior” and has been battling stage IV ovarian cancer for over 5 years now. She has outlived women half her age and twice her “strength,” defied every odd she’s been given, and has somehow managed to keep her sense of humor through it all. I’ve been afforded years with her that I had prepared myself to be lost, and in so many ways, despite these years of hardship, I continue to feel grateful for so many reasons.

However, she has taken a turn for the worse over the last few months, and that turn became even sharper in the last two weeks, and continues to keep turning in on us. With the aggressive return of her disease, and what seems to be a never-ending spiral of complications, she has now been in the hospital for over a week. In fact, I am writing this as I sit across from her in the hospital room, with its sweeping view over Central Park, watching and hearing the busy streets of New York continue on with business as usual. But here on the 11th floor of Mount Sinai Hospital, my life feels as if it has come to a screeching halt and my world has been flipped upside down, as I am, once again, faced with the reality of what life might look like without my mother. It is a moment I know so many of you have faced, and cancer is a disease too many of you have been touched by in one way or another, and for this reason I felt that perhaps sharing this moment in my life may allow you to feel less alone in yours.

While I pride myself on my strength and positivity (something I proudly know I got from my mother), there are times in life when it’s just hard to muster — and I am learning that that’s more than okay. It is during moments like this when, no matter how strong I might be, I have to let myself lean on my incredible friends, family, and community, and be sure to do something every single day that makes me feel happy — and for me — that is working out.

Healthy living and fitness have always been constants in my life, and have gotten me through so many challenging times, but it has never been more apparent to me than in this very moment. It is now that I fully realize that making it to one of my favorite classes, or seeing one of my favorite trainers, or working out with a good friend, or eating healthy foods that don’t add to my stress and fatigue, truly UPLIFTS me and is my source of happiness. These workouts and habits have zero to do with maintaining my figure, losing weight, or burning calories, but simply the fact that they make me feel happy and bring me great joy.

Although I am clearly going through one of the toughest times in my life, I believe this is what health is all about — happiness. Even if your fitness goals are physical (weight loss, strength, etc), at the end of the day, you want to achieve these things to feel happier and to UPLIFT your life, right?! If not, I challenge you to start thinking about health in this way — not as a punishment, or a means to some fleeting end, but as something you truly love to do and which brings you happiness. If you’re thinking, “Well, I just don’t enjoy working out” — sorry, I’m not going to buy it. It likely means you don’t enjoy what you’re doing to get healthy, and with so many amazing ways to get fit and eat healthier, there is always a choice for you. If you aren’t loving what you are doing to stay healthy, then do something else - it’s YOUR life and your happiness - and that’s what all of this is about.

Our featured fitness space this week, Uplift Studios, is just one of those amazing options. Uplift is a women-only studio, with cardio and strength classes, personal training, and a community of women that extends far beyond the physical space of the studio. Uplift plans retreats outside of the city, invites speakers on topics like eating well and getting what you want in your career, and creates a space to feel at home.

We will also hear from Tricia DiGaetano, who left her dream job at a super successful tech start-up to follow an even dreamier job working for herself; Lianna Sugarman from LuliTonix tells us about the benefits of drinking activated charcoal; and Just Live Brand explains why bright, fun workout wear can uplift your mood AND your workout.

As you go into this week, I want to share something one of my mother’s doctors said yesterday. She was telling him that she was dreaming about being able to go to Miami and put her feet in the sand and see the ocean one last time, but she knows she’ll never get that chance. He responded, “Why not?!” She said, “Well, look at me - I’m hooked up to all of this stuff and you guys have told me there is not much more you can do.” To which he said, “Listen to me, we don’t hook you up to “all of this stuff” just to help you die, we do it to help you live and be as happy as possible during the days you have left.” This struck such a chord in me and was an amazing reminder that this is how we should always live - making the most of our time, and filling that time with people and activities that bring us true happiness. So as you go into the week ahead, think about what makes you happiest and go do it… then share it with us!

Until next week,

Aly Teich
Founder, CEO, and Host
The Sweat Life