Self-love isn't easy and that's one of the reasons we wanted to make this month allll about it. A lot of what we do as a brand (designs, campaigns, and concepts) is inspired by my experience because I know other people will be able to relate - we are never alone. My perspective is not from a place of *I've got it all figured out so let me tell you what to do* but from a place of *I'm figuring it out for myself and have no idea what I'm doing but I also want to share what I'm learning along my journey.* Ya know?

I've shared with you my fitness journey but self-love/self-care is a slightly different story. I can say with confidence that I've spent more of my life hating myself than loving myself but that's why I work DAILY to make myself better, to practice self-love, and to practice self-care.

When I first got into fitness, I didn't give a flying f*ck about health or wellness - all I cared about was being "skinny." It wasn't until I stopped seeing results (a.k.a losing weight) that I had to force myself into a diet change and once I started to learn about nutrition, it snowballed quickly (this was probably 7-8 years ago).

I became obsessed with nutrition and for the first time in my life, I felt WELL. Like, I never knew I felt unwell... until I felt like, freaking awesome. I was reading all the books I could get my hands on all centered around nutrition. 

After living my whole life unfit and unhealthy, I was finally putting the pieces together. For the first time in my life, I felt truly confident. Not because I was skinnier but because I was in control of my body. It was up to me what went into in, it was up to me what I did with it, it was up to me how I treated it and NOW I was finally learning all the right things. But like everything else, it's up and down - and my confidence, self-love, and self-care have continued to bounce up and down for the past 8 years.

Deep into teaching indoor cycling (teaching anywhere from 1-3 classes per day, 6-7 days a week), my healthy habits were pushed to the side - I was putting my job and clients before my own health. I was exhausted, burnt out, either eating too much or not enough, not allowing my body any recovery, and I was constantly guilt tripping myself if I missed workouts or took recovery days.

It took me way too long to realize I wasn't truly caring for myself. Yes, I was moving. Yes, I was eating veggies. But I wasn't mindfully, holistically taking care of myself.

I've mentioned before that I struggled with anxiety and depression and have for as long as I can remember. Because I stopped mindfully caring for myself, those things began to worsen. I was working myself into a hole, I was beyond exhausted, I wasn't well, and I just felt stuck. A life that once made me so happy was sucking me dry. Don't get me wrong, I loved teaching and will always love it - but I had taken it to the extreme like most things in my life and I was running on empty.

That's when I decided to leave. I left NYC, I left the indoor cycling studio, I left my too-expensive apartment, and I left my healthy-turned-unhealthy habits. July 2019 I sold or got rid of almost everything I owned, packed a suitcase, and flew to Alaska for the most eye-opening and JOYFUL experience of my life.

We use the word "balance" a lot - but I really had no idea what it meant. Ya don't know 'til ya know. Living in Alaska for 2 months with my sister, I finally felt it: balance. I would wake up, bike to the local coffee shop, work on Thirteen Fit during the day, then I'd come home, probably take a nap, meet my sister at the gym for a workout, we'd then relax, enjoy the night - sometimes we'd go for a bike ride or go out to the lake or meal prep. Sometimes we'd just sit on the couch. I slept when I wanted to sleep. On weekends, we'd go on adventures - hiking, paddle boarding, biking, camping, go to the hot springs - we did it all. I worked when I worked, I played when I played. I ate a strict and healthy diet a majority of the time but let loose when I wanted to. I was listening to my body. I was allowing fun and adventure to overpower guilt trips and anxiety. For the first time in my life, I was experiencing balance - and to me, that's a HUGE piece of self-love. (note: this is where The ADVENTURE Collection was conceived!)

Move More Worry Less Design - Inspired by Adventure and Alaska!

I'm now living in Florida. Once I moved here, I held onto what I learned in Alaska when it comes to balance but as every high has a low, COVID hit when I was brand new to the Florida community. It's given me a lot of time alone and in a lot of ways, that's been really hard on me. It's lonely and I feel like a crazy person often but it's also given me more time to explore self-love and care.

Although my mental state can be anywhere from on top of the world to stuck in a black hole, I actively work on improving myself more so now than I ever have because now, I understand it's not just about fitness, it's not just about diet, it's not just about balance - it's a way bigger picture. When I talk about the journey to my #ultimateself, I'm not playing around. To me, this isn't just going through each day hoping to be better than the last. It's about mindfully and actively doing things that make me better.

I do the following things *daily* - not to perfection and I don't do every single one every single day but I've made it a practice to spend quality time with myself: I read (mostly self-help type books). I listen to podcasts (everything from wellness and fitness to business and success). I ride my bike to add extra movement, fresh air, and peace into my day. I journal (gratitude, how I want to feel each day, and any little notes I feel are worth writing down). Not only do I workout, but I plan and map out my workouts according to my goals. I track my strain/recovery/sleep and metrics with the @whoop to make sure I'm doing what my body needs (I'm obsessed with this thing). I've started to practice meditation and mindfulness (even if it's just 5 minutes of morning meditation or moments where I take a few mindful breaths like in the shower or when I'm making coffee). I started therapy (much overdue). I meal prep and eat well. I hydrate like mother f*cker.

And most importantly *in my opinion*: I focus on sleep. I try to go to bed at the same time every night (not always successful), I try to wake up at the same time every morning (also not always successful), I wear blue light blocking glasses before bed because it helps me sleep better, I got blackout curtains to ensure a dark, peaceful sleep - and I pretty much do anything that sets me up for a restful night.

Triad Crop and Ladies Grey Contour Crop Joggers

So here's how I want to wrap this up: I'm not saying I know it all - I'm not even saying I really know anything. But I do believe that self-care and self-love are so damn important; how can we expect to be successful, happy, healthy, and abundant if we don't care for ourselves? My #ultimateself is wealthy (note: wealth is not only dollar signs), my #ultimateself is strong, powerful, and stable inside and out, my #ultimateself is compassionate, caring, and purposeful. If I want to achieve the best - I have to actively pour dedicated time into myself.

I'm nowhere near my vision of my #ultimateself BUT I think because I am self-aware and I'm active in my journey that I will find success and I will beat the things that plague me (depression and anxiety). It took me a long time to start seeing myself and my journey more holistically - it's more than just being skinny or lifting the heaviest weights - it's about loving yourself enough to practice self-care, to be relentless in your journey to be your absolute best, your #ULTIMATESELF.

If you can relate to me in any way - tell me. If you have any recommendations - reach out. If you have questions - holla at ya girl. By helping ourselves, we can help each other - by helping each other, we can help ourselves.


Paige Festa

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