Reimagining the Narrative Around Fitness

The relationship with ourselves, including our bodies, is the most important one we will ever have. It’s our vehicle for living life and a part of who we are. That’s why learning to treat it with respect and celebrating its strengths is imperative. Today, Logan Russell (a.k.a. “Lolo”) is sharing her mission in changing our relationship with food and fitness. Lolo is a blogger HOKA was originally introduced to through our partnership with Zappos. She is a body love advocate based out of Charlotte, North Carolina who strives to inspire women to embrace their bodies and celebrate their personal style. To learn more about her journey, check out her blog LoloRussell.com or find her on Instagram @lolo_russell.

Everyone has their own agenda going into a workout: to push our body to the next level, maintain our health, or maybe we need that blissful release of endorphins. Fitness, especially running, has the power to completely transform our bodies and minds. It’s an opportunity to do something good for ourselves both physically, mentally and emotionally.

Unfortunately for many of us, especially this time of year, exercise becomes a form of punishment rather than a positive experience. Instead of lacing up our shoes with the intention of doing something good for ourselves we walk into a workout focused on how many calories we need to burn to compensate for last night’s dessert, the distance we will push to earn a meal or hours needed to make our goal weight. It’s a toxic pattern that must be stopped: it’s time we change the narrative surrounding fitness from punishment to empowerment.

TiesWe’ve all fallen prey to the winter binge-regret routine at some point in our lives. As someone who has recovered from an eating disorder, I know this story all too well. Many of us indulge in sweets and lavish meals during the holidays only to spend the first part of the new year punishing ourselves for enjoying the season. This cycle ends up setting the tone for our relationship with food and fitness. In each month that follows as we choose to eat a simple treat, like a perfectly flaky butter croissant or a slice of pizza, and we think something along the lines of “I’ll need to run later to work this off.” What’s the point of doing something if you’re just going to punish yourself later? Are you really going to reap the full benefit of your workout if you’re busy beating yourself up? Life is too short to miss out on the joys of this world. That includes both pizza and running!

RunningsLet’s work on shifting that inner dialogue. Every time we choose to move our bodies with the intention to serve them we are honoring ourselves. It is a moment to embrace the life we have, block out everything else in this world to focus on us and come out the other side of it a better version than we went in (albeit more sweaty, tired and maybe a little sore). Sure, it isn’t always easy. There are days where the thought of running one more mile makes me want to crawl back in bed! But nothing truly worth having ever comes easy, right? We have to work for it. That includes choosing to work toward a more positive mindset with our workouts.

This is the resolution I want you to keep this year: enjoy food that serves your body and soul, let it fuel fitness that does the same. When you choose to indulge change the internal dialogue from “I’m going to regret this” to “I’m going to enjoy every moment.” When you step out for your run don’t think “I’m working off all this weight.” Instead, remind yourself “I am strong, I am capable, I am celebrating my body.”

Shop the Clifton 6 Lolo is wearing HERE:
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Finding confidence: discovering your runner’s high in unexpected places

“The more I ran, the more confident I became. Running races once felt nearly impossible for me, but with every finish, it felt like I could do anything if I really set my mind to it. That feeling spilled into every aspect of my life.”

Photo credit: Cesarin Mateo

Annya Santana is a New York native and creator of gender-fluid wellness brand, Menos Mas. She has a vision to bring natural wellness products to people of all backgrounds based on the idea that “less is more,” which is the loose translation of her brand’s name. Annya exudes confidence — she is a smart businesswoman with a disruptive vision, a committed athlete and an intuitive creative with the natural drive it takes to make it in a big city. However, Annya struggled with self-doubt before her career and running goals felt attainable.

Annya was born and raised in the Bronx. She says coming from New York is essential to who she is. “There’s a fearlessness when you grow up in NYC that lets you dream the impossible. Growing up in this city prepares you for life. This city has shaped the way I dream, the way I work and the way I execute,” she says.

Annya’s city-bred grit led to her follow her dreams to a new city. She loved the hustle of New York but yearned for the French way of life. Yet, moving to Paris wasn’t her only bold goal.

“The summer I decided to move to Paris was also the same moment I decided I would turn my skincare and wellness life into a business. In retrospect, moving to a foreign country and launching a business from there wasn’t exactly the easiest positioning, but I was extremely motivated and determined to make it work,” she says.

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Photo credit: Cesarin Mateo

Only in her mid-twenties, Annya realized the difficulties of moving to a foreign country when she arrived. “I didn’t have a place to live and I didn’t speak French,” she says, “I didn’t even know anyone.”

For Annya, fear and loneliness were incredibly painful to overcome. “It was in those very painfully challenging moments that I discovered myself,” she says, “I faced myself, my fears and my insecurities. I discovered my tenacity for this life and what it means to never quit.“

Through this unique journey, Annya realized the value of embracing discomfort as an opportunity for growth. Even as an athlete, running was something Annya always struggled with. “Running is the hardest sport on the planet. At least to me it is,” she says, “You can’t pass the ball, sit it out or get subbed in. There’s no teammate to pick up your shortcomings. It’s just you. When I say you, I mean all of you — mind, body and spirit.”

While living in New York, Annya gave running a shot. She even ran her first marathon but still considered quitting. “I was constantly putting myself down about making progress. It took everything I had, and I didn’t feel good enough to keep at it,” she says.

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Photo credit: Cesarin Mateo

It wasn’t until Annya changed her perspective on running that she was able to love it.

“Living in Paris would be nearly impossible without my running community. Running culture literally  saved me in a foreign place and has given me friendships, a home and community like I have never experienced,” she says.

Annya used her newfound love of running and took a leap to join the Speed Project, a 344-mile relay race from Los Angeles, CA to Las Vegas, NV.  

“At one point, some of the girls on my team were feeling really defeated about their performance. I felt this strong urge to speak up. I took the reigns and just let everyone know that whether you finish first or last, we all get the same prize — the reward of finishing this grueling race. Trying to uplift others kind of made me lift myself up as well. In that moment, I finally realized I am a runner,” she says.

For Annya, it’s no coincidence that her achievements in her career aligned with her new identity as a runner. Pushing her physical limits taught her to overcome the challenges that came with starting a business.

“Running has allowed me to tackle life. It’s hard, but it’s equally rewarding. I was out there fighting every negative thought and mental barrier. I felt defeated by the elements, but instead of quitting, I pushed past the pain, held on a little longer and finished,” she says, “I felt unstoppable. I fought against all those obstacles in my mind screaming for me to stop, and I accomplished what felt never-ending. Breaking those mental roadblocks changed me.”

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Photo credit: Cesarin Mateo

Now living between New York and Paris, Annya continues to focus on her running and her business. She has big goals for the growth of her business and now has the confidence to do what it takes to succeed.

“I have the power of believing in myself, speaking things into existence and working hard so that when the opportunities present themselves, I am prepared. I am creating a life I feel good about. It feels like it’s all coming full circle even though I am nowhere near where I want to be,” she says, “I feel gratitude every single day because sometimes I still can’t believe that I am doing exactly what I dreamed of.”

Shop the HOKA Cavu from our reflective Fly at Night collection

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Changing focus

Screen-Shot-2017-10-06-at-3.55.44-PM“Until May of 2016, I despised running. I had never run over two miles. But, after five months of focusing on health and fitness with my wife, I decided to step out of my comfort zone and do a sprint triathlon. During the course of training, I absolutely fell in love with running. After the sprint, I immediately signed up for a half marathon and went straight into training for that race. The biggest reason that it became a passion was that I could share it with my wife, and that has been life changing for us. Now, I get to spend so much more time with her. She’s an absolute beast of a runner, mom and wife, and getting to be more present in seeing that is such a beautiful gift. In 2014, we started a Facebook group to help motivate a group that was running a half marathon. That group grew over the years, and in January of 2017, we started Arch City Run Club. Our goal is to provide encouragement and a positive community for people to feel comfortable, no matter what form of running they are looking to do.” – HOKA fan Ryan Maher

Re-discovery of running

Melissa-Perlman,-FF-Delray-Beach“I’ve been running since ninth grade when I joined the high school cross country and track teams. Running quickly became a family event. I took running as far as I could: winning two team and two individual state titles in high school, setting school records and being recruited to run in college. But, then the joy and success came to an end. I was no longer winning, hitting personal records or getting the adrenaline rush that I craved for so long. I quit my college team, moved on to focus on new interests and put my running career behind me. Then, in 2008, my life changed forever. My mom died after a two-year battle with breast cancer. The happy memories from high school racing, long car trips with my parents to track and cross country meets and the pride she and my dad had for me flooded my mind. I struggled with how to handle the emotion for a very long time. In 2011, I made the decision to return to running, to make training and racing a part of my life again and to revive those beautiful memories of my mom. I left my corporate job that I had held for seven years, started coaching alongside my high school coach and running miles with the team. The joy of running, of feeling fit and strong, and the drive to improve quickly returned. For me, running is therapeutic. It keeps me physically fit and mentally strong. It gives me goals that are a challenge and that take both time and hard work to achieve. Running has given me joy and heartache, has allowed me to personally grow and help others to grow, and ultimately has made me the best I person I can be at every stage of life.” – HOKA fan Melissa Perlman

The Beautiful Mile

Every runner has a favorite mile. A favorite stretch of their run they crave and come home to whenever they can.

“My ‘Beautiful Mile’ is nestled on the coast near Santa Cruz, a special place where the trail meets the water and each stride delivers on some serious breathtaking views. From hidden beaches to tranquil coves and wildlife, this coastal path surrounds me with natural beauty, and reminds me how grateful I am to be a runner.”- HOKA Athlete Magda Boulet

“My favorite mile to run is along Robert Moses beach on Long Island. You can see the whole sunset or sunrise and hear the waves crashing beyond the dunes. It’s quiet, peaceful and easy to get lost in reflection. My only wish is that it was miles longer.”- HOKA Athlete Kyle Merber

“Another one of my favorite miles holds a very special distinction: it was the first place I ever broke four minutes. It wasn’t done on a track, nor with any official timing equipment. There wasn’t even any other competitors. It’s a bit of a long story, but it began with a bet that I could not break four minutes in the mile by the end of the year. So, at 2 am on a Saturday, I lined up at the top of Bancroft Avenue next to the UC Berkeley Campus and launched myself down this one-way street. 3 minutes and 46 seconds later, I crossed the line of what seemed to be the most perfect downhill mile ever created. In the middle of the night the view may not be much, especially when running as fast as you can for pride and honor, but at any other time of day the view from this mile is breathtaking, especially around sunset when the San Francisco Bay and Golden Gate Bridge are illuminated. However, I think I still prefer the midnight view.”- HOKA Athlete David Torrence

“My favorite mile is in my home town of Austin, Texas, along the Colorado River on Town Lake Trail. The mile embodies everything that is Austin, including the music scene, ‘keep Austin weird’ theme, and its cultural awareness. From its beloved Barton Springs bridge to the newly developed boardwalk, being on this mile will give you a new meaning of what it is to be active and running.”- HOKA Athlete Leo Manzano