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Wellness is a personal thing. It’s a continuous journey. You’ve got the highs, the lows. The best workouts. The never-trying-that-again workouts. But then—when you least expect it—something clicks and forever changes your wellness game and the way you live.
Meet Erin Donnelley.
A New Yorker with passion for partying, Erin struggled to find her thing when it came to her wellbeing. Not loving her lifestyle (or herself), Erin felt stuck, depressed and in need of a change. Two years, one MINDBODY app and over 250 fitness classes later, it’s safe to say Erin has found something she loves—and changed her life for the better.
Inspired by her story, we sat down with Erin to learn more about what gave her the courage to fuel her fitness fire. Hint: It’s not a one-size-fits-all approach.
Before using MINDBODY, I felt insecure —both mentally and physically. Physically, I was winded going up the steps of the subway. I wasn’t able to enjoy the things I loved to do, like play tennis or dance. I always had to be in the back of the room at every studio, and I would find excuses to run out of the class or not do a given exercise. Mentally, I was a mess. I was the girl who would fake sick at work when my team would have plans to do a cycling class. I had little to no confidence and couldn’t even look at myself in a mirror. I was unhappy, frustrated, and had a one-size-fits-all mentality when it came to fitness.
I had a really bad attitude when it came to fitness. My trainer suggested I branch out on my own and try some fitness classes around the city. MINDBODY gave me the freedom to continue to try whatever I wanted, but the knowledge to understand the best options.
For the longest time, I had the mindset that I had to follow the trends and had to do what other people were doing in order to achieve a certain look. I always had anxiety when I signed up for popular cycling classes but couldn’t figure out why. MINDBODY helped me overcome the fear of exercise. I didn’t need to be strapped into a stationary bike for 45 minutes. I was able to find different workouts that fit my personality and helped me reach my fitness goals. My trainer or favorite class might not work for someone else. Everyone has different personalities and goals, and MINDBODY helped me realize there is a whole world outside of what’s trending.
I discovered my sense of identity when a stranger approached me saying how inspiring I was. I try to be honest with my transformation because it didn’t happen overnight, and it wasn’t easy. I think a lot of people have a perception that in order to lose weight they have to give up certain things such as their social life or that they don’t have time to fit exercise into their busy schedules. Contrary to popular belief, I became more social and found myself with more energy when I would wake up early and make time for a class or the gym. When I first started out, I would remind myself that an hour is only 4% of my day. When you have that mindset, it’s easier to be disciplined.
I think my Instagram handle says it all: @TBDestination. It stands for To Beautiful Destinations that are yet to be determined. While I do try to work out five days a week, I try to mix things up, so I don’t get bored and I don’t plateau. I think sticking to a certain diet or workout is an easy way to get burnt out. Therefore, I am always trying to evolve by switching my routine and trying new classes as often as possible. It keeps me humble and honest.
Yes, and I continue to have setbacks. I’m my toughest critic, so it’s very easy for me to have negative self-talk. I try to remind myself that just as I did not lose weight overnight, I am not going to ruin all my progress overnight either. I think it’s important to surround yourself with a team. I am no expert, so I try to surround myself with a team of industry professionals—from trainers to physical therapists to nutritionists to psychologists. Mental health is just as important as physical health.
At the start of every new year, I make three New Year's resolutions. The reason for three is so I don’t feel bad or disappoint myself when I only accomplish one or two. I think it’s very important to make performance-oriented goals rather than trivial goals, like weight. Not to discredit the work I’ve done by losing 85 pounds, but I remember at my heaviest saying “I hope to get back to this weight someday.” Well, I accomplished it, and I wasn’t satisfied. There was still so much more I wanted to accomplish; therefore, it was less about the number on the scale and more about gaining confidence. A weight on a scale is arbitrary, however behavioral and performance-based goals are so much more rewarding. Whether it’s to run a 5K or to fit back into your favorite dress, those types of goals keep me much more motivated than any number on a scale ever could.
For the longest time, I thought I could outrun my fork. I’d do two, up to three workouts a day thinking I didn’t have to change my diet. My trainer Mike Maloney gave me a reality check and is one of the main reasons I was able to make a lifestyle change. I believe the two go together, and his no gimmick, no BS mentality has helped change my perspective. There’s no secret sauce or shortcut to success.
I’m fortunate to have the most supportive parents. They instilled a wonderful work ethic, and never let me give up. I also have found a great support system through my Instagram community. My followers are my biggest cheerleaders, which has helped motivate me to continue to persevere through the good and the bad.
Has MINDBODY changed your life for the better? Do you have a wellness journey to share? We want to know! Submit your story for a chance to be featured on MINDBODY!
If you’ve ever taken a hot yoga class, you know it’s always going to be one thing—outrageously hot. Not the “let’s hang by the pool and get that sun-kissed glow” kind of hot either. I’m talking that “I can't believe I have this much sweat in my body” and “I may or may not pass out” kind of hot. It’s nothing to mess around with, and after a year or so of not being able to go, it’s easy to forget just how serious that heat can be.
To get the maximum enjoyment and benefits out of your heated yoga classes, you need to prepare yourself before and take care of yourself afterward. Luckily, I’ve been taking some classes (sweating enough for the both of us) and I’ve listed my five favorite must-dos to help you readjust to your heated classes and get back to the hot yoga summer that we all want.
Heated classes are difficult in nature. The normal difficulty of regular poses is mixed in with the added challenges of sweating and dealing with the humidity and the heat (at times, I’ve seen the thermostat climb to 108 degrees—yikes!). Depending on what type of yoga class you’re taking (sculpt, Bikram, power vinyasa), the difficulty level and temperature are going to vary. It’s also important to remember that each person in the room is going to practice in a way that’s unique to them. Hours slept, hydration levels, food intake, and different lifestyles are all contributing factors that make our practices different. What you practice on your mat is your own––trust your body and only do what feels right to you. And remember, it’s okay to take breaks!
The rise in temperature mixed in with the humidity that we all know and love creates the perfect recipe for sweating—like A LOT. You go into a heated class dry and come out feeling like you just took a dip in the pool. Before heated classes, I had no idea it was physically possible to sweat that much. If you’re going to a heated class, especially after a long break, it’s easy to forget just how much you might sweat. Is it possible to lose that much water if you haven’t consumed it first? Trust me, going into your heated class super hydrated is going to make a world of difference and help you feel good throughout your practice. And don’t forget to take some sips of H2O while you’re practicing!
Heated classes are challenging, but I can’t stop going. Nothing quite compares to overcoming the challenge— and experiencing the cleanse my body feels after I’m done. It’s the perfect blend of hard and rewarding, but I couldn’t do it if my body wasn’t properly nourished. On the days I know I have a heated class booked; I like to make sure I am eating right. I make sure to take my vitamins and fuel my body with fruits, vegetables, and my favorite superfood shake. I hold off on food about an hour before my practice, so I feel comfortable. After the class, I like to replenish with a big protein shake (boosted with collagen to aid with muscle recovery and skin elasticity). There is no one-way path for properly nourishing your body but making sure you’re fueled for the challenge of a heated class is essential for getting the most out of your practice and feeling good on and off your mat.
Increasing and maintaining your water intake on the days you take a heated class is important, but sometimes you need something a little extra. If you’re sweating that much, you’re basically an athlete (at least in my book) and if you’re performing like a rockstar yogi, you need to hydrate like one as well. That means replenishing those lost electrolytes. Reward yourself and your body for the hard work and treat yourself to your favorite drink. I switch off between electrolyte-boosting drinks and coconut water depending on what I’m in the mood for that day. Adding these to my post-practice self-care routine has helped me feel more hydrated after and ready to take on the world again after especially sweaty classes.
Usually, a yoga mat is all you need for your practice––but heated classes are a different ballgame. I’ve gone with just a mat, and I’ve slipped all over the place. Let me tell you, there’s nothing worse than having sweat drip all over the place while you’re trying to hold a pose that makes you grip your mat for dear life (never again). Make sure you bring a towel to place over your mat, this will help with support and grip. Bringing a smaller towel is also a good idea. You can use the smaller towel to dry yourself off during water breaks or whenever you’re feeling just a bit too sweaty. This is a small step that makes a world of difference during those super-hot classes.
So, there you have it. Five of my favorite tips (more like lifesavers) that have helped me readjust to those heated classes I love so much. Getting back into it is a challenge for us all, so know you’re not alone. No matter where you’re at in your practice, remember to be kind and gentle to yourself––celebrating your health and your body’s ability to do what you love. We’re all just getting back out there, together.
Ready to jump back into your hot yoga routine? Browse Mindbody to find the perfect class for you.
While you’re at it, check out some Intro Offers near you that can help you get back to your cadence of hot yoga classes.