Tuesday Tips: 6 Lessons from Group Fitness Classes

 2014 April 29
by jessica mullen   3 Comments 


This weekend I’m auditioning to teach Body Combat, a martial-arts-inspired group exercise class. If I pass the audition, I go onto a weekend training. Then I submit a video of myself teaching, and if I pass THAT, then I can start team teaching and subbing classes and eventually the goal is to have my own regular class at the gym. This audition is all I can think about, so that’s what the tips are inspired by this week.


1. Even if you might fail, TRY IT!
Kelly and I were greeted by the gym maintenance man as we pulled up on our bikes last Friday. He asked if we were going to class, and said he thought we were instructors. “Not yet!” I said. With enthusiasm he said, “If you don’t try, you’ll always wonder what would have happened.” When I told my first-ever group fitness instructor about my plans to audition, she said, “This will be the best decision of your life!” I mean, right?!

2. Do things for fun.
When I started taking Body Combat at the YMCA, I would just laugh and smile through the whole thing. I could not BELIEVE I was shuffling around a mirrored room punching the air. I felt silly and self conscious, but euphoric and eager to learn. The class is just my jam! It’s often the most fun thing I do all week. The people, the energy, the music, the routines–I am hopelessly hooked! Every time I start to stress about my audition, I just remind myself I’m doing it for fun. I’m doing it because I have this unstoppable love for kickboxing set to pop music that brings tears to my eyes. Kelly and I always say to each other, “Les Mills saved my life again.” (Les Mills is the company that produces Body Combat.) The group fitness classes we take are what we credit with keeping us healthy, diurnal, and off of drugs.

3. Tell people your dreams. They believe in you and want to help you!
My fitness instructors at the gym are my heroes. These people have wonderful attitudes, inspiring confidence and endless charisma. They are the people helping me become the best version of myself I can be, physically, mentally and spiritually. Magen, Boni and Dee Dee, THANK YOU for your encouragement and support!


4. Believe in yourself.
I could focus on all the things I’m afraid of, or I can emphasize how EXCITED I am, and all the great changes that are happening in my life. I’m getting stronger. I can do legit pushups and Kelly complimented my side kicks. I’ve been taking Body Combat for about three years, and it’s influenced my life in so many ways. I used to not be able to hang our bicycles up, but it was only because I didn’t think I could. One day I said to myself, “If I’m going to become a fitness instructor, I have to be able to hang my own bike from a hook on the ceiling.” Then one day I tried it, and I could. And now it’s easy. I can do it!


5. Don’t be attached to a specific outcome.
If I don’t pass this audition, I’ll just have to ask how I can improve and try again another time. I have to be ok with failing. I have to be ok with people judging me if I fail. I have to trust the flow of life. I have to remember that everything happens in perfect time. “When it is all finished, you will discover it was never random.”


6. Be brave.
I am scared to post this! I am so scared to fail! But I have to remember fear is just excitement with the brakes on. While I am pursuing this unexpected passion of mine, I want to share as much of the experience as I can. Blogging is a fine line of divulging personal experiences and sharing life lessons, but nothing helps me make sense of life better. I want to remember my grad school passion of BE TRANSPARENT! WHO NEEDS PRIVACY?! LIFESTREAM EVERYTHING!

Wish me luck! Thanks for the encouragement and support!

Tuesday Tips: 4 Ways to Think Yourself to Better Health

 2014 March 25
by jessica mullen   Comments Off 

Thank you

Welcome to Tuesday Tips, a weekly collection of ideas that help me live more consciously. This week the tips are focused on health, both for your body and your mind. My current recipe for well being is to bless your food, bless your muscles, perform your actions with love and take responsibility for everything in your reality.


1. Bless your food.
I got this idea from E-Squared: Nine Do-It-Yourself Energy Experiments That Prove Your Thoughts Create Your Reality. The premise is that your food responds to energy, so if you send it happy thoughts it will work harmoniously with your body, but if you view food as your enemy, it will stick to you and torture you. Think of your food as living entities that can hear you. Send love and your body will receive love from the food. My current blessing goes like this: “I now bless this food with peace, love and joy. May it nourish my body and bring me health, vitality and energy. I love you, I’m sorry, please forgive me, thank you.”


2. Visualize strong, beautiful muscles during a workout.
Often I try to escape my workouts by thinking about something outside of the now. But lately I’ve been paying attention to what my instructor says: “Visualize! Big beautiful muscles! Look at your gorgeous bodies!” Little did I know I could quadruple (scientific fact!) the effects of my exercise, just by being present and thinking about what I want. When I’m doing squats, I think, “Strong, beautiful legs! Strong, gorgeous ass!” When I’m doing shoulders, I think, “Strong, beautiful shoulders!” And when I’m doing things that are really hard for me, like pushups, I think, “I’m getting stronger! Strong, beautiful chest!” This concentrated attention placed on your body will have you seeing results instantly. Notice it, get more of it!


3. Whatever you’re doing, feel love for it.
If you’re doing something that you’re not exactly 100% passionate about, train yourself to enjoy it. I was making thank you cards with colored pencils the other day, and at first it was a chore. But then I started thinking, “I love coloring!” and lo and behold, I began truly appreciating the activity. I do actually love coloring! I just have to stop thinking about other things and be present long enough to enjoy it.


4. Take 100% responsibility for your reality.
I took part of my food blessing above from Ho’oponopono philosophy, which is an ancient Hawaiian practice of reconciliation and forgiveness. By repeating the mantra, “I love you. I’m sorry. Please forgive me. Thank you,” we may reach a limitless state where we realize everything in reality is just a projection from within. By taking responsibility for our own actions, as well as the actions of others, we can be at peace because all desired change comes from within.

Why I Post My Calories on Instagram

 2013 December 27
by jessica mullen   4 Comments 

My Fitness Pal

I used to be bulimic. I would eat a pizza and some ice cream and maybe some snack cakes and then I’d puke it back up. On the surface it was fun and relaxing, but I always knew it wasn’t really a sustainable way to deal with life.

I stopped barfing when Kelly moved in with me, nearly 6 years ago. But food is still one of my drugs of choice, so when I feel stressed or sad or don’t want to deal with my life, I overeat.

I always start counting my calories under the guise of weightloss (it’s the only thing I’ve ever found that works), but really I’m just budgeting instead of being unconscious.

After years of unconsciously spending credit, I went broke and had to start budgeting. The same thing happens with food–I go into calorie debt and start gaining weight.

Counting calories helps me know when to stop eating so I don’t use food to deal with my emotions. Once I’ve had my budget for the day, I have to find some other way to feel good.

Even when I’m counting calories using MyFitnessPal, it can still be hard to keep it together. I have a tendency to count my calories all day, but then nightfall hits and I hit the liquor store. The liquor store invariably leads to drunken food purchases, which is a very annoying pattern.

So I post my little screen grabs on Instagram, because it keeps me from overeating and having to post an embarrassing calorie count. The fact that I get embarrassed by what I eat is a whole different therapy session in itself, but for now I’m doing this because it works.

I intend to keep this practice up for every day of 2014, so make your account-following plans accordingly. I know that I would be absolutely riveted by a regular calorie-intake update from any of my friends, so I hope I can provide you the same enjoyment!

Some caveats:

  • I don’t usually bother to find exact foods or brands in the app, so sometimes it will say I had 3 tomato slices from Subway or a Popeyes mashed potatoes even though I have never eaten there before.
  • Sometimes if I simply must drink or snack at night, I put those foods as breakfast for the next day. That’s why you may have seen vodka and pizza for breakfast before…
  • I still get my feelings hurt when people comment on my eating habits, but the benefits of perceived public scrutiny outweigh the actual feedback I get. Please don’t judge me. I’m doing my best.