This blog post has been in the works for a while. A lot has happened which has kept me from blogging - let me give you the cliff’s notes version:
I got laid off (it’s okay, really)
Traveled to Hawaii and NJ
Started a new full-time job (that I really enjoy)
Traveled to San Franciso for work
Put photography on the back burner
Yup, you read that last line right. I put photography on the back burner while I got acclimated in my new role. I had to. To be honest, I’ve been feeling in a funk for a while, which happens (that rollercoaster). I felt lost and starting a new job is overwhelming and it took me a while to feel human and get my bearings together, until recently.
Last week I found out that I was recently acknowledged by PeerSpace as one of Austin’s top 10 lifestyle photographers - I’m not gonna lie, that lit a fire in me! It reminded me that my work is important and I truly enjoy having this as a creative outlet, especially as I reflected on how much fun I had at that shoot.
So now - back to the reason for this post. When I got laid off in February, I booked an impromptu trip to Hawaii to visit my dear friend Nichole. I had never been there, had been meaning to go, and it was the perfect time!
I was in Oahu for 5 days and was lucky enough to capture nice weather despite it being the rainy season. The temperature was perfect and happily enjoyed beach weather during my trip. My only goal was to read a book, and The Four Agreements couldn’t have been a more perfect pick! It was extremely relaxing and I couldn’t have taken the trip at a better time.
Nichole and I met in 2007 through a mutual friend and our love for photography and travel have always kept us connected. In 2010, we managed to survive a weekend in Las Vegas and a year later we got to explore Paris and London together.
Even though it had been 9 years since we’ve seen each other, it felt as if time hadn’t passed. Nichole’s free spirit and positive energy is something you want to be around, and there is never a dull moment with her. I’m lucky to call her my friend!
I knew Nichole had been doing CrossFit for quite some time and wanted to capture her in her element. I have never done a fitness shoot before and was definitely up for the challenge. We went to her local gym, CrossfitKailua, for our shoot.
We chose to shoot during the golden hour, around 5:30. What I didn’t realize, was that I’d have this incredible view as my backdrop….
IT WAS LIKE A DREAM YOU GUYS!!
There are so many good ones from this shoot, I had a hard time narrowing them down for this post. Also, being that this was my first fitness photography shoot - it was an area that I had no experience in, but LOVED doing!
Being that I’ve known Nichole since before she started her fitness journey, I wanted this blog post to be a Q&A session because her story is super inspiring, and am hoping it will influence and motivate others (including myself) to prioritize self-love and your health.
How do you incorporate fitness in your day to day?
I am always up early, whether it's to catch sunrise or just get my day started, so I usually end up at 5am CrossFit class. My coworkers also recently decided to start on their own fitness journey so we've created a little lunch group that will go to the local gym that's close to work and hit a treadmill for 30 minutes. It's been a great way to relieve stress from the workday and reset ourselves for the afternoon. I love trying different things, so if I'm invited, I'm usually up for a hike, hot yoga, paddle boarding, you name it! Recently I just joined a spartan training group that meets in the park every Saturday. It nearly killed me, but it was so much fun! There are so many opportunities to fitness outside living in Hawaii and so I try and take advantage of that as much as I can.
To be honest, it took me a long time to try CrossFit. It was intimidating (I've never touched a barbell) and I had only ever seen SUPER fit people doing it. There was such a negative stigma surrounding this sport that I just stayed away. When I moved to Hawaii, I knew I needed to change up my lifestyle, and the CrossFit gym here was asking for women to join a "New You" women's-only 8 week program. It took me a few weeks but by the end of the 8 weeks I was totally hooked. And it was because I was SO bad at the movements! It really challenged me to change my perspective. All the women in that class were at different levels of fitness, different ages (as young as 20 and as old as 65!!), but we all hung in there and cheered each other on. CrossFit is so much more than the barbell, and pull-ups... it's a community.
That's what I love about being here at a CrossFit gym. Everyone cheers everyone else on, to the very last person working out. And everyone is always working on something! So it's encouraging to be supported and also be able to support other people in the gym. Some of those people have become my best friends! I wish I had found CrossFit when I was younger. I spent YEARS looking at tall, slender models in a magazine wishing I were taller, or skinner and the reality is that was never going to happen for me. Being a part of the CrossFit community and seeing women like Tia Claire Toomey, and Brooke Wells as Games level athletes, I'm finding these women as such positive role models not just for myself, but for younger girls around the world. It's a clear message that it's ok to not only be strong, but look strong too. I wish that I had found that inspiration when I was in high school.
How have you changed (physically and/or emotionally) since actively working out?
The last three years were pretty stressful. I got a divorce, I had some pretty severe medical issues (Bilateral Pulmonary Embolism and Deep Vein Thrombosis) that felt like I had been thrown into a wall. I was all over the place mentally, and physically that showed. CrossFit helped me regain control of that. I get to relieve some stress and I gained an Ohana in the process. I can lean on those people and they know they can lean on me. My body composition has completely changed in the last three years. I think the biggest part of that also had to do with my nutrition. I used food as an excuse for anything.. If I was happy, sad, stressed... if it was a Tuesday. I would find a reason to eat cupcakes for breakfast. But pairing CrossFit and taking back control of my eating has helped me realize how much stronger I was mentally.
What motivates you?
Never in my life did I think I could be this fit. My legs were always larger, even when I was younger. I was so embarrassed to even wear shorts. I always had cellulite on my legs and I felt so gross. Looking back I realize how unhealthy that line of thinking was. It took some time, but I'm now in the place where I'm not ashamed of my cellulite. Everyone's got it. But the reality is, no one else has time to look at my legs when they are dying in the workout next to me. And I don't have time to be worried about it either. I'm focusing on picking up the barbell, or doing that next pushup. At the end of the day, I'm THANKFUL my why is so strong. Instead of judging myself for feeling less than because I've got some dimples on my ass, I'm celebrating my strength.
Any advice to others trying to get their butt in gear, like me?
Just start. Set your alarm. Take the class. Bring a friend. It doesn't matter what you do. Whether it's Zumba, or CrossFit, or yoga, or swimming or it's a hike or even a walk in a park. JUST START! You are going to be sore and you are going to want to quit at some point, but if you find something you TRULY enjoy spending your time on, you won't want to stop. When I was just starting to dial in my nutrition, I would post an instagram story of a calendar and add a stupid cat GIF and tag my coach for each day I hit my macros. It was stupid. But it worked. I hit over 30 days of my macros goals. Whatever silly thing that you can think of, just remember it's only weird if it doesn't work!
By the end of our shoot, it started raining (which you can see in the photo above) while the sun was out, and I saw my first Hawaii rainbow. it was all so magical!
Thank you Nichole for allowing me to document such an important piece of your life and for sharing your story!
Are you a fitness junkie and want to capture your incredible progress? Contact me and we’ll shoot something epic.