food, fitness, mentors + transitions.

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I met Joanne Wilson 8 years ago after moving to NYC for culinary school and before interning for @foodandwine magazine with the dream of being a food writer. She is the face behind blog Gotham Gal, a force to be reckoned with, mother of 3, and investor in over 90 companies. But her writing felt like home, honest, open, wise but humble – with a love for food, family + investing in women entrepreneurs. I admired her + as such, I let her know via email and followed up often with questions and comments especially regarding the NYC food scene I was diving into head first.

So, it was more than coincidence when I recognized Joanne from her blog picture sitting across the dining room at Joseph Leonard. Carpe diem. I went to say hello.

There was something about her honesty that was captivating. She is straight to the point, no BS, with an edge that can often come off biting + quite harsh…exactly what I needed, to be honest. After introducing myself in person, I followed up via email + naturally asked her to set me up with the guy she was dining with (always proactive).

Many emails and sporadic meet ups ensued. Over the course of just under eight years, Joanne became my sounding board during times of transition, work + love. She helped re-negotiate my salary when I was particularly undervalued and led with, “no one is just going to give you more money, even if you are the best of the bunch, you have to ASK.” So I did, and was rewarded, with a raise + the ability to form my own consultancy side hustle to compliment my day job. 

Joanne + her husband Fred vetted many of my ex boyfriends at events or charity fundraisers and provided gentle feedback when it came to love.

The toughest love came when I started questioning my box + flow journey. At the time her feedback felt harsh + unrelenting, but in hindsight, it was exactly what I needed. “You want to own a gym? No Joanne, its not a gym. It’s a brand, a concept, a feeling. Olivia, that doesn’t just happen overnight. To start, it’s a gym. Other peoples’ sweat – employees, customers, issues…”Why would you leave the food world with all of the foundation + network you built?

Well – I did. And here we are. I’m so grateful for Joanne’s tough love, hard questions + ultimate belief in me. And for my courage to finally embrace life transitions, smoothly + #flowthruthefight.

It is such an honor to be featured on Joanne's podcast, link below:

http://gothamgal.com/2017/12/what-drives-me-olivia-young-box-flow-podcast-46/

 

 

everything is energy.

smiling at a burger, naturally.

smiling at a burger, naturally.

When you open up to positivity - it opens up right back. I haven’t been sleeping well lately, actually for the past year. My brain overcomes me and my body gives in. I get in bed as early as 7pm on nights that I can + toss and turn until the clock hits just before 5am, and I still leap out of bed, ready for new adventures. I used to pass out for 10 hours, wake up by 5 and ferociously tick off my to–do list with upwards of 30 emails sent well before sunrise. 5-7am are magic hours. These days, routine still the same, but with a bit less magic because my brain is a little slower and my body needs some TLC.

Lack of sleep leads to lack of productivity, or perhaps lack of presence. I went for a run last Saturday. I was running so fast, hands so frozen from the wind, with such pep in my step after a solid 9 hour sleep, that I wasn’t paying attention when I ripped a hard right, and my ankle didn’t come with me. Pain pushed me to the ground in shock. UBER picked me up. And I still made it to yoga…and then to teach.

I know, I know. I need to slow down. Everything is energy. The universe is sending me a big fat SLOW sign. But running makes me feel free. I put on my sneakers + go. No matter where I am in the world, no matter the time…it is freedom. I’ve been told many a times by Shamans, energy healers + psychics that I fixate on my short legs that prohibit me from running faster – physically, romantically + professionally. I want to build a brand, but first I have to lay the foundation. I want to get married, but first I have to date. I run everywhere I go, in heels or not.

But today, I can’t run...not even close. My twisted ankle is a true testament to my willpower. I’ve been hobbling around for over a week. Old Olivia would retreat, get sad + focus on the negative. But, everything is energy. If I retreat, the world retreats. If I’m closed off, I’ll be met with resistance. If I fight, universe fights back. There is no progress in that. My attitude has shifted. I choose flow...Spotify in my ears, a hobble in my step, I get where I need to go with a little shimmie, because I’m alive, and like I said last week, im just grateful for that.

Can you dance thru the fire? Can you flow thru the fight? Questions I ask myself, often. I choose Yes: glass half full, rose colored glasses, laughter instead of tears...fun in the now. With big dreams, endless vision + loosely written plans full knowing that plans change + life happens and how I handle transitions is where the magic comes in. No expectation, no anticipation, just a pep in my step, a song in my ears, a belly full of laughter + a heart full of love.

In closing, i have 3 questions: 1) when was the last time you laughed? 2) when was the last time you laughed at yourself? 3) can you find some fun in today--no matter what comes your way?

4 songs to help with your shimmie below:

https://open.spotify.com/track/756La6nWDta09ROtNohCil

https://open.spotify.com/track/5G6aQWH215hCxdhfCqI7XB

https://open.spotify.com/track/1FCQEg7wOK9IIBuxx63krr

https://open.spotify.com/track/1bhUWB0zJMIKr9yVPrkEuI

#workhard #livyoung

a dirty word

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Comparison is a dirty word. and i've definitely felt dirty on many occasions. But I cleaned up a while ago. And when I catch myself tip toeing into the mess, I shape up.

As a sole entrepreneur in a saturated industry, comparison can be justified. But I wont have it. Too much of my energy has been wasted on wondering why they have what i don't + vice versa. And as a single woman who dates like I work, too much of my energy has been wasted on worrying why he chose her over me. When in actuality, both of those scenarios are my own manifestations, neither are true and neither matter. You can spend hours comparing, years even...or you can spend that same time just.

doing.

you.

me? I stopped worrying about what others thought and made peace with my decisions, actions + dreams. i'm human. we're human. we compare + live in comparison.

what a waste: too much time spent worrying about what others were doing, as a result of not being satisfied with what I was doing. We all come into our paths at different times – some young, some old, and some never.

Find your own path.

Follow that.

There are no mirrors in box + flow for good reason: no distractions, no judgment, not of yourself, to yourself, or any one else. We keep focused on our fight, our flow, breathing in + letting go. No time to waste and no time wasted, especially not comparing. This weekend was an anomaly. One class in particular just couldn’t stay in their game. They were all too busy focusing on the person next to them going fast or slow, getting too into their heads + too insecure in their actions to even move forward.

I left feeling empty. It made me sad to watch people so concerned about what everyone else was doing, unable to just be for themselves. We spend so much time worrying about everyone else, the images we create, the perception vs. reality. 

It is time to get back to ourselves.

Stop comparing. It leads no where good. It is an empty endless road of always feeling not good enough or sometimes better than. Just focus on you. All you. For you. By you. Do you.

That is all WE need to worry about. The rest will follow.

#flowthruthefight #workhard #livyoung

looking back + moving forward

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Without fully recognizing my own story when I opened a year ago…I’m finally realizing the depths of what i created in box + flow: a safe place for women unafraid to get messy + men unashamed to flow, a place for people to be just as they are, without judgment, fear or shame. a place to fight for your dreams and let go of your fears, to uncover your limitless potential, to find your “flow.”

Box + flow is a place for me to be vulnerable and share my passions with the world…not just boxing + yoga but a platform to clear my anxiety, fight for my fire, my wants, my dreams, and let go of what doesn’t serve me – to strip away the layers that hold me back from getting where I want to be, to fight + to flow.  it is a place where I can celebrate my hard work with a beer after + grab a burger with those who sweat beside me. it is a place to find balance, to #workhard + #livyoung

Boxing gives me strength + yoga forces me to feel.

For so long I was ignoring my path, my intuition + myself thru busy distractions like dating + work. Whenever I was bored with my job, I fixated on men. I got caught up in bad relationships that left me feeling empty until I felt whole again. After bad dates or big breakups, no matter how debilitating, I picked myself up to run, box + flow. I can remember the anger pouring out of me as I hit the bag each morning at Work Train Fight, along with the tequila seeping thru my pores.I can picture the tears streaming down my face in each yoga class I cried thru one break up over the next on my mat.

Boxing allowed me to let go. Yoga forced me to feel what I felt without hate + anger. Box + flow brought me to balance my emotions and move on.

I want to build a business, (i am building a business) -- offering a feeling, a connection, a release, available to all. I get emails from students who can’t afford class but it's what they need. I get emails from parents whose children are transitioning into student life and the only release they’ve found is thru box + flow. Box + flow is for everyone: men + women, old + young.

I want to make this feeling accessible to all who need it: everyone who has a fight and those who don’t even know it lives within them. Box + flow is about finding your fire, your passion, your strength, your resilience, + then letting go – to allow flow in so things can create and evolve, because fire with fire, is just that. Its all red. Its counterproductive. We need FIRE + water. We need the sweetness after the struggle to allow our hard work to settle in, to recognize and acknowledge our efforts: how hard we work, but also to be very clear about what we’re working for. Some people don’t even know they have a fire, a passion. Box + flow allows you to discover that.

And if it is just about the workout (six pack abs + hundreds of calories), that's a great start. But consider digging deeper. Set an intention, commit to it for 55 minutes and watch those routine 600 calories burned edge up to 1000. You get what you give. With effort comes achievement.

So ask yourself this:

What is worth your fight?

What is NOT?

What can you LET GO of?

Start there. Start with that. I started there. And now one year in, i look back to how far I've come. Anything is possible. You just have to believe in YOUrself.

Big dreams. Big things. We #flow thru the fight

#workhard. #livyoung

 

80:20 fight:flow

i am 80% fight, 20% flow - which parallels the format of the box + flow method. my challenge is finding calm, slowing down, letting energy settle, and allowing things to evolve as they should without control, fight, or force.

starting a business (and having a baby), seems to require the same skill of l e t t i n g g o.  if you smother it, it will suffer. if you control it, it will be limited. if you do everything for it, it will become reliant rather than self sufficient. since opening the studio 11.5 months ago, i have done my best to practice what i preach, more flow, less fight...just let go.

I believe in energy: you get what you give. As such, i give my all in hopes of big things.  Every now and then i get a curve ball: something unexpected, indescribable, sometimes even unfathomable. These are tests to my resilience. If you’ve been to class you’ll notice the parallel messaging during the most challenging boxing rounds: 'can you hold strong even when things get messy? can you find ease even as you fight for what you want? and can you do it with grace? The magic is in the transitions – to find ease as you transition from fight to flow.

i will never give up the journey of finding softness even in the messiest of situations, finding my breath even when i feel most suffocated, finding my voice even when there are no words to be said. and i continue to push you to do the same: to follow your dreams regardless of the odds, to live for you, as you, no matter who tells you not to. to #flowthruthefight because YOU can.

i fought myself to start this business. many didn't understand why i'd leave my fruitful career in food to enter the saturated fitness world. i sought approval, opinion + ample judgement on this 'silly' idea, which led me to question myself + drag my feet before committing.  but once i was in, i was in. and with that i share my response to a client email. i always open myself up to feedback because i will not settle for where i am. I choose to be better, to move forward, because comfort + complacency are just not my thing. and with such openness, i knowingly expose myself to ample judgment along the way.

"ive been holding back from writing this but found it was bothering me more to not say anything. you reached out a while back about social media and finding my voice, because you saw my evolution in posting. i think i mentioned it was when i finally "let go" that things started to flow. i stopped worrying about being judged or caring what others thought.
i started to just fully embrace me, and with that comes judgment.
i wish i could explain how lonely it is to run a business, alone.
how hard it is to keep everyone happy - students, teachers, staff -- and then there is myself...and finding my own balance with my life outside of work, to keep myself happy thru the hardships + successes.

i try not to judge. i opened a space to give back what i've gotten from boxing + yoga for so many years - strength and softness. That is the silver lining of box + flow, the meaning behind it. but making decisions solo isn’t easy. what do i post on instagram? how do i keep it cool + sexy without seeming exclusive? how do i stay committed to the brand while opening up to new things, people + partnerships in the process, to make sure i can pay my bills at the end of the month?

It’s hard to own a business. It’s hard to be human nonetheless. Mostly, it’s hard to just be yourself because no matter what, someone will judge you. So I leave it at this: I have so much respect for you, your feedback, your feelings, your successes and your concerns...

But id also love to open up the idea that I’m just human too, trying to make a difference, trying to succeed in a world full of naysayers and criticism, in an over saturated industry, with so many odds working against me – (one being that I’m a female who started a boxing brand.) But I won't give up because that’s not who i am. And i only want to be ME, and along the way, i hope others see me for me - for my own strengths and weaknesses but acknowledge at the end of the day - we are all connected. we are all in this together. we all just want love + to be loved. but mostly to love ourselves first.

thank you for being a part of box +flow. for supporting a space that i think you believe in. and for seeing me for me. i hope you have a great week.

So back to the idea of 80/20: For me its about finding the grace thru the grit, in every situation.

We #flowthruthefight

#workhard #livyoung

 

 

the little engine that could

sunday.

No days off. No matter how tired I am. I keep fighting to get closer to what I want + let go of what I don't need because no one is going to do it for me. I fight w grace + with presence, with the Heart of a lover + the Soul of a fighter. 

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my fathers daughter, i'm as Stubborn an an ox + will never give up. I Fight w resilience and ease, with passion and presence, aiming to bring mindfulness to the fight thru box + flow.

And nothing can break me- except me. but I believe in myself too much for that. you should too. Let's Bring more mindfulness to the fight.

One punch at a time.

One breath at a time.

we flow thru the fight.

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So class has no breaks. Because there are no breaks in life. We keep moving, fighting, flowing, evolving + growing.  bc even when I feel sheer exhaustion, I push past my limits. because im determined to make a difference. to make a difference, you have to be different. 

like the little engine that could...i think i can i think i can i think i can.  last night, i could have stayed home, but i fight for balance too between work + play. red lipstick + lingerie make me feel sexy enough to flirt w a stranger with dark eyes and strong hands. bc I will be a wife + a mother and my fairy tale isn't going to write itself.

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So Sunday morning sweeps in + I wake up and go. One step into the next. One punch into another. Up dog into down dog. in my own practice for me + then for you.  Smooth transitions. Regardless of my hangover from too little sleep, too much tequila + dry aged bone in filet to break the fast for yom kippur. no excuses. i have a room full of people waiting for me to push them thru. even on this sunny sunday.

because Big dreams. Big things. and tonight ill be in bed by 7pm. #balance.

#Workhard. #Livyoung

from food to fitness.`

It is incredible how much things can change in just a moment, a day, 10 months...

in less than one year I've opened a profitable business, rekindled and ultimately let go of a boyfriend, moved apartments and continue to get to know myself. And now, on return from my first offsite wellness event, I reflect on the jump from food to fitness…

For eight years, I spoke all things food while helping scale a global restaurant company.  Those well spent years also meant work trips to food + wine festivals in south beach + aspen, with overwhelming excitement and everlasting hangovers. My last year at Altamarea Group and last Aspen Food + Wine was a sure sign that fitness had captured my heart and wellness was where I'd find solace. While revelers were up partying, I was running 9 miles thru the Rockies to my favorite yoga studio near the Aspen Airport. Yet my time spent in the food world was as good as it gets.

The instant gratification of huge burger events followed by late night partying and early morning pickle backs with celebrity chef elite was addicting, as instant gratification typically is. Besides, who would refuse hang time with the world's hottest chefs in private mansions in Aspen + Miami, complete with endless appetites for all things open bar + caviar?

Aspen, CO. black spandex. always.

Aspen, CO. black spandex. always.

meat is usually for dinner.

meat is usually for dinner.

Fakahany + Michael White.

Fakahany + Michael White.

 Its been a year + a half since I left foodie life and one day since returning from Mind Body Green Revitalize, my first wellness offsite -- a refreshing peak into a world I jumped into head first – via box + flow (with beer in the fridge and bunless burgers galore).  No need to scour the internet for party attire, instead I arrived with a suitcase full of black spandex, two pairs of heels I didn’t wear, and zero worries about late night gluttony via pigs in a blanket + momofuku cake balls.

it was a real treat.

200 top wellness experts flocked to the remote Ritz Carlton Dove Mountain  for 48 straight hours of connection via fitness, wellness + love. Instant gratification was found in the giveaway suite stocked with sustainable healing. This gluten-free-toxin-free-sugar-free candyland offered feel good fuel from the inside out: vital collagen proteins, moon dust, swell bottles, sakara life, bombas socks, healing crystals, hum vitamins, probiotics, and things I never imagined I’d care for. Needless to say, my initial reaction was where’s the beer? So I scooted towards the Krave Jerky stand to be sure i'd have snacks for safety. 

But once I found comfort in discomfort, I let go.

Its incredible how good feeling good can be! Exhausted from travel, I passed out at 6pm night one and woke up 10 hrs later. I strapped on my sneakers and ran thru the desert before taking on breathwork lessons and ear acupuncture. One full day of programming ensued, complete with panels + speakers on coping with cancer, microbiome, intermittent fasting, ketogenics, climate change, intuitive healing and more. 36 hours in and the only beer consumed was with a firefighter on the plane. 

I felt amazing.

My past career was thrilling. Every food festival was my quarterly excuse to party past midnight and find trouble after too much tequila. Regardless, I always woke up by 5am and worked out before bloody marys at noon. But today, my priorities have shifted. Im finding a high in vital proteins and chaga tea, in serums instead of sodium, and connection rather than competition. Instant gratification from late night partying is now sustainable gratification from feel good fuel from the inside out for the long term. At revitalize, group hikes start at 6am, limited booze isn’t served until happy hour and no one complains.

I would safely assume that I am not alone in this feeling. So many of my chef friends are waking up to work out, and finding their own balance in work, fitness + food. They’re choosing wellness over illness, and i'm on board. So, if this is the wellness world, then i think I'll stay awhile. Next year, I just might bring some beer + bubble gum. I'm looking forward to it.

#workhard #livyoung

South Beach Wine & Food Festival. 2009.

South Beach Wine & Food Festival. 2009.

Andrew Zimmern + Michael White

Andrew Zimmern + Michael White

boxing, burgers, backbends, beer. Vaucluse, NYC.

boxing, burgers, backbends, beer. Vaucluse, NYC.

Capon, Cardoz, Besh, Becker, White.

Capon, Cardoz, Besh, Becker, White.

to love, learn + let go.

The end of anything is usually sad. A good book. Summer. A thrilling conversation with a stranger on a short train ride. A relationship that no longer feels good. And while endings are sad, they also lead into the happiness of new beginnings.

I often ask myself (and you in @boxandflow class), if you can stay, stay in the stillness, stay thru tough times + fight thru the fire to the water. because in the end, the only way out is thru. But how long should you stay?  When do you leave discomfort? When do you end the inevitable?

To that, I have no answer. But id say it’s over when you know it no longer feels good. When there is hurt, or pain that doesn’t seem to get better. When the love is off balance, and one person is giving more + one person is just getting so much less. I’d say it’s over when it no longer feels easy, when there is more fight then fun.

I have been in enough relationships to have learned from mistakes, big + small. Most recently, tables on me were turned. In the past, I have always been the one giving, endlessly: gifts, affection, emotion, time, energy, love. To be with someone who reciprocates, is a gift. I was given the gift of someone’s love. Real love. After spending time in relationships where I always felt like I was the only one giving, I finally found someone who wanted to give to me in return. But it still didn't feel right.

I asked the universe for him. he appeared. but I wasn’t ready to open my heart. I’m so used to fighting for affection, it was like I didn’t know what to do when it was easy. But shouldn’t I like easy? Yes, I should. And one day I will. Maybe it will be some day soon.

Preaching balance is my work, and finding balance is my focus. But balance is tough when you’re starting a new business. And letting go is my biggest challenge. I couldn’t find the balance between love + work, work + play, strong + soft. Or I chose not to find the balance. And at some point “work” also becomes an excuse. We choose how we want to spend our time. Those choices are a reflection of what we want + what is important.

So, i was given a gift + then given a choice to open my heart. I tried. but we were dancing to different music and couldn’t find the same rhythm. For me it was all fight. The flow in our love was one sided for too long. He wanted in when I wanted out and vice versa. It got to a point where I was hurting him. And in this life, you get what you give. I can’t live with the guilt of hurting someone else. Especially someone who deserves the most love.

So with a heavy heart, we both move on.  I cherish our time spent together, even when it didn’t feel easy, when I wouldn't let it. I wouldn’t come undone. I wouldn’t open my heart + get messy. I wouldn’t let him in. because I’m guarded? Maybe. 

I hope one day I will find that power. The power to let someone in. To love + be loved. Because I believe in love. Real love. And I know I will find it. If I let it find me. No mistakes, just lessons. I'm learning to let go. day by day i #flowthruthefight.

#workhard #livyoung

 

self reflection: boredom, balance, box + flow.

When I think of my attention span, I picture a baby chimp swinging thru rainforest trees, searching for bananas + mischief simultaneously.  I'm curious, full of energy and have a hard time slowing down. Needless to say, I get bored easily. Yet, I’m routine to a fault and obsessively focused…until I’m not. And when I get bored of said routine, I switch it up, often in simple ways like running up 7th avenue instead of over the Williamsburg Bridge.

This morning, I did just that. I forced myself on a new running route 3 miles to Fhitting Room + Lyons Den Power Yoga, instead of box + flow. I'm responsible for my boredom. When I'm bored, I make a change. A small hiatus in routine offers me a reset + prolongs my interest in my commitments.  This mornings workout was fulfilling, but also served as a reminder of my connection to box + flow: the workout + its impact on my body + mind. My fight. My flow.

sitting on the fhitting room floor before class, writing all my mid-running thoughts

sitting on the fhitting room floor before class, writing all my mid-running thoughts

Before I started box + flow, when I was stuck in complacent mud + fearful of a change into the unknowns of entrepreneurship, one of my biggest mentors said, “are you ready to be all in?, to focus on just one thing?” Nah, Ill never be ready for that. One focus is powerful, but to me, it seems limiting. I want to do everything I love...and I will, just maybe not at once. Comfort makes me uncomfortable. I may tip toe in it, but I typically don’t stay long. Complacency makes me anxious. It’s one of my biggest fears. So, can you imagine working with me? Let alone dating me? It takes real fighters to want to be on my team + by my side. And I am endlessly grateful for those who are willing + able to get messy with me daily: to find the grace + the grit, to dream BIG.

I’m always digging deeper, running faster, fighting harder, seeking for more meaning, connection + more life. I have to FORCE myself often to slow down + find my balance. So it makes sense that the structure of the box + flow class has to do with just this: attention span, commitment, personal best. When I stop moving, or just slow down, I am forced to feel. When you stop fighting, things typically start to flow. When you slow down, you create space for listening – to yourself, your intuition, your flow…what you want + don’t want. But you have to be willing to.

Box + flow challenges you to be present. To fight: nonstop movement to force presence and prohibit distraction --- just fight, move, sweat, breathe, dance + become completely undone. NO breaks: there are no breaks in life. No waiting to begin. No need for permission. Just a start + steady movement to follow. We play with speed + power to push ourselves harder + faster, to force us to be present throughout our fight to feel our fire. And then we let go. We breathe. We slow down + begin again, but this time thru water, thru flow. The flow is the sweetness after the struggle. The bottom of the glass of milk where all of the sunken cookie crumbles have gathered, Or as jay z says, “that gushy stuff.”

I don’t know about you, but me? I need to force myself to be present. To remind myself to stay HERE now. To feel my fight, my power, my strength, and then let it all flow, so I can listen to my intuition + what I need. And when I get bored, I switch it up. But I always end up coming back to what works for me, what just flows. THAT is the balance. #workhard #livyoung