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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!
When you think of self-love what do you think of? Bubble baths, walks on the beach, facemasks, or what? Self-love can mean so many different things but when we think about self-love, we have to acknowledge loving ourselves both on the outside and on the inside. The way that we show ourselves love is one of the most important things we will ever do.
How do we treat ourselves? How do we talk to ourselves? What foods are we putting into our bodies? How are we thinking about our overall well-being when practicing self-love?
As self-love defines and redefined itself for you over the years, here are a few foundational tips to think about when easing into your self-love journey.
Don’t we love this one? Loving ourselves has a lot to do with the boundaries that we have for ourselves, with others, and for others. Take time to think about your own emotional, mental, physical, and spiritual needs when setting boundaries that reflect your personal needs. Boundaries don’t have to be big and scary; they are here to remind us that you get to have your lived experience and still have expectations about how you’d like to be treated and what you’d like to feel.
When thinking about your boundaries, ask yourself:
In a world where perfectionism and curated existences have been rewarded, begin to cultivate compassion for yourself. You are a soul having a human experience and it’s totally okay if things are not perfect.
Mindfulness exercises such as Breathwork, self-care activities, and self-compassion, all help train the mind, emotions, and even the body’s stress chemicals to be able to deal with undesired situations. Self-compassion means, can you be nice to yourself? Can you find empathy and kindness for yourself in the middle of what feels chaotic, stressful, or unwanted? Self-compassion means that we get to make mistakes, have our plans not work out the way that we wanted, and we still get to celebrate that we are doing the best that we can and it is enough.
When thinking about self-compassion, ask yourself:
In every sense of the word “nourishment”, begin to learn what nourishes you and what depletes you. Nourishment doesn’t just mean food for yourself; it means that whatever you are consuming whether it be media, podcasts, people, energy, information, etc. all impact the way that we think, feel, and experience life.
Nourishing yourself definitely goes right along the lines of having your boundaries intact and practicing self-compassion.
When thinking about nourishment, ask yourself:
That’s it. Those are the foundational steps to cultivating a self-love practice that you can ease into your daily routine. Come back to these questions often, because like anything else, self-love is a practice and it takes effort, time, and intention to maintain.