“Create a life that feels good on the inside, not one that just looks good on the outside.”

Mmmmm hmmmmmm. This resonates with me on so many levels right now. It’s something that I’ve been working on in a lot of areas of my life. I first shared this quote with the students who came to take my Yoga Sculpt class this morning, as an intention to bring to their practice/workout. The interesting thing is that what feels good and right to us can differ greatly during different periods in our lives. It can even vary a lot from day to day. Some days may be all about burpees with an extra pushup. But other days, it might take all your effort to even move your body out the door, and it’s ok to feel that way (and go with that) too. I love the feeling of accomplishing a hard workout and feeling strong, even a little sore. But it doesn’t always have to be all about #eatcleantraindirty and  #yogaeverydamnday. In fact, from my experience, that sort of attitude can often have the opposite effect in the long term.

For most of my life I’ve been known as the “healthy one” or “fit chick” amongst my friends and family. I was the one who put applesauce instead of oil in my baked goods during the low-fat craze. The one family member running on the treadmill on Christmas morning. The only friend choosing neither pancakes nor toast at brunch. It may have looked like a picture of “health” on the outside, but unbeknownst to me and (maybe?) everyone around me I was actually running myself into the ground. No wonder I was like a savage beast around cake on the weekends–that’s what happens when you barely let yourself eat any carbs or sugar for a week.

Up until about 8 months ago, I really believed that I was healthy. I looked and played the part pretty well, according to the health and fitness industry’s acceptable norm. I was religiously following a bunch of health and fitness podcasts and blogs, and sure that each new tweak I incorporated would somehow make me immune to all disease, give me photoshop perfect abs, and pretty much make me immortal. Instead, I was always freezing cold, stressed, moody, tired, inexplicably itchy, and eventually came to find out that I had become hypothyroid. My hormones were a HOT MESS. The likely culprits: too much intense activity, too little rest, and eating too few carbohydrates for my activity level. Someday soon I’ll devote an entire blog post to my scientific theories on this (if you guys are interested), but for today I’d like to focus on the whole point of this story: you cannot assume anything about a person based on their looks alone. Looks fine out the outside, a wreck on the inside. Or maybe vice versa?

Think about that for a moment, in terms of other things in your life. Does your job actually make you happy? Or does it just meet society’s definition of “success”? What about your relationships? We’ve probably all dated people that we weren’t super enthused about just because they “looked good on paper”. What about your fitness routine? How often do you do a workout that feels like torture, just because it sounds like a good idea in your head or makes a great looking Facebook status? “10 mile run before sunrise-check!” (insert sports bra selfie) #nopainnogain #fitspiration #goals #actuallyitwassleeting #ionlygot5hoursofsleeplastnightandimgonnafeelexhaustedallday #drinkallthecoffee  But does it actually make you feel healthier? Lately I’ve been trying to make life choices that will actually help me to feel good on the inside, instead of just looking good on the outside. Wanna join me? We can spend more time with people who we find fun, interesting, and inspiring. Eat oatmeal with bananas and honey for breakfast sometimes, because it’s more comforting than egg whites and spinach. Say no to the chaturangas in yoga class. Or do all the chaturangas. Go for a run. Or a walk. Or back to bed. And before you judge yourself or others based on outward appearances, remember that what feels good on the inside can look a little different on the outside for each and every one of us.