A Word On Body Image + My New Workout

The picture of the dancer in the pale-blue, see-through dress is me. I was 22 years old. A new arrival in New York City, and I'm one of the dancers that opened the Spring 2006 Imitation of Christ show. I screen shot that photo from Vogue.com.

I was a dancer in college and I moved to NYC to pursue the art. Since that time, physical activity has been really important to me. I am a high-energy person to begin with--and always have been--so an outlet to channel my energy is essential to my happiness. That said, I struggled with body image issues for so many years, and I never want to go back to that place. In fact, there were times in my late 20s that I unconsciously sabotaged my healthy eating habits and workouts because deep down, I was too afraid of being that kind of thin again. In my experience, being "skinny" meant falling back into an awful, obsessive pattern that brought with it calorie counting, negative judgements against myself and others, and a sense of immense guilt.

Even though I miss it, I don't dance anymore, even for fun. I feel pretty great about about my body and my relationship with food and exercise. I'd like to keep it that way. I try to be an advocate for body positivity while being true to my love of fitness and food. I believe in balance. I don't care if I have a muffin top or if my thighs are squishy. Though some days I think otherwise. On bad days I fall prey to the false idea that there's only one way to love my figure, which is to inhabit a body that's not mine. I'm so grateful for my body, no matter what it looks like in the different stages of my life. That's the attitude I choose to feed.

One of my goals for 2017 was to stop the negative cycle I'd fallen into several years ago, which was: working out really hard and eating clean during the summer and then succumbing to the sluggishness of New York winters, in which I inevitably picked up bad eating habits, exercised very little, and drank my way through the entire season. Every winter for several years, I gained at least 10 pounds between the months of November and March, and it made me feel bad. I wasn't nourishing my body. I was letting my muscles get weak. And it effected me emotionally. For years I've been wanting to create a steady, balanced relationship with wellness: eat clean, nutrient-rich foods every day, work out regularly, and relish the times I eat ice cream and pizza.

body boss method

I left New York, so that helped, but I needed to switch things up. Now that I'm back in action after healing a broken foot, I've been doing Body Boss, the 12-week training method that incorporates bodyweight resistance exercises, plyometrics, cardio, and unilateral exercises. Here's why I recommend it:

1. I Feel Strong

After just 4 weeks of the pre-training circuits, which include 2 rounds of 7-minute intervals, I have gained enough muscle and stamina to where I can actually feel the difference in my performance. It feels good. As a dancer, I loved waking up sore every morning. I loved feeling my own strength beneath my skin. I've missed it.

The official 12-week program takes you up to 3 challenging rounds of 7-minute intervals. If you're not accustomed to HIIT or you're just getting back into exercising, I highly recommend starting with pre-training guide so that you don't get discouraged.

2. You Can Do It Anywhere

Because I've been living out of a suitcase for nearly a year, I've found a lot of creative ways to work out. I wasn't really seeing or feeling results, though, because I was so inconsistent. Body Boss gives me structure. It's a goal-oriented system, so no matter where I am--in a hotel room, a gym, or my mother-in-law's living room--I can rely on a challenging workout.

3. It's Easy To Follow

Both the online PDF and printed book feature information about the method, why it works, and how to perform every move. Each week, you're guided move by move, day by day. And in the digital version, each workout move has a GIF. If you're confused, you can just hover and it will animate.

4. It Involves Minimal Equipment

A jump rope and some 2-lb. weights. That's it. When I don't have access to my weights, I use canned goods or any other small 2-3 lb. object. Annnnd you're gonna want a sweat towel and a bottle of water, trust me. 

5. It Gives Me Confidence To Try New Methods

Whenever we go to our beach house outside of Charleston, we got to HYLO Fitness once a week. These people are animals. I didn't think I was that out of shape until I took a 50-minute HIIT & Sculpt class which nearly brought me to my knees. Doing Body Boss, though, has helped. Now that I've survived the first 4 weeks of training, I feel excited to try new fitness classes.

6. I See Results

I've read varying percentages on this, but 70–90% of our body shape and size has to do with what we're consuming. (Then there's that whole genetic thing.) So there's that. However, if I'm going to work out this hard, then By God, I better notice a physical and an emotional difference. I haven't sweat this much since my last Soul Cycle class and I certainly haven't worked out this hard my own...ever. My lungs feel strong, my body feels strong, and my figure is actually changing shape so that my curves are tighter. I feel good in my jeans.

If you're looking to switch things up and you're over your gym membership, I'd recommend trying Body Boss. There's no monthly fee. Once you get the workouts, they're all yours.