"A Space for Me to Be Me"
Meet Elizabeth “Lizzy” Villa. She’s a 28-year-old entrepreneur living and working in Pasadena-ish, CA. In 2016 she started Do The Good Stuff, changed her marital status, and moved back in with her parents. Her experiences and conversations have made her an advocate for pursuing health and fitness on your own terms as one way to claim your space in the world.
We hear a lot about that in this conversation, plus we talk about how:
- There’s no such thing as “fitness people.”
- Showing up actually counts.
- We get to make our own rules (like her favorite: there’s nothing wrong with giving yourself the out).
Interviewing Lizzy is one of her BFFs and fellow DTGS Team Member, Samantha Curley. We re-arranged their conversation to fit with these key themes, so you can skim accordingly. Alright, here we go!
#1 — There’s no such thing as “fitness people.”
Samantha: You started a health and fitness company, but you’ve said many times that you wouldn’t label yourself as a “fitness person.” What does that mean?
Lizzy: I think as a culture, we’ve created the idea of a “fitness person.” They’re someone who has figured this whole fitness thing out — they’ve found the motivation, the time, the physical prowess, and they’re not struggling like the rest of us. What I’ve learned though is that “fitness people” don’t actually exist. They’re a myth that, when we believe in it, sets impossible standards and gets in the way of people like me and you finding our place in this space.
It’s important to remember that we’re all human. We have good days and bad. Our lives are all pretty complicated and messy at times. We don’t have to be a certain type of person to value our physical selves and the impact that has on our lives and our overall health.
S: Have you had to learn that lesson in your own life?
L: Definitely. After college I spent a lot of time jumping from studio membership to membership, running race to triathlon competition trying to find the thing that would help me achieve “fitness person” status. I was looking for something that I would always have the motivation to do, that I would be good at, and that was admired enough by others to make me feel like I had arrived.
A few years ago though, I realized it wasn’t about the activity and it wasn’t about what others thought about me because of my commitment to it.
I remember saying to myself, “If this isn’t for you, then who is this for?” I had been forcing myself to achieve an impossible standard that left me feeling pretty terrible about myself… and I didn’t want to do that anymore.
S: When you had that realization, what did you do about it?
I decided to do exactly what I was afraid of — nothing. Through that I realized that if I wasn’t perfect, I would still be okay. If I didn’t get the admiration of others, I would still be okay. But if I didn’t take care of myself, I would definitely not be okay.
I decided then to make my physical space a safe place to embrace imperfection, a space where it was okay not to have clear answers, and a space to let my body lead the way in giving myself exactly what I need.
Basically, I decided to make this a space for me to just be me.
S: Are those feelings and experiences a lot of what led you to start DTGS?
L: It’s pretty much the heartbeat of this company. As I started to share my own experiences with more and more people — especially women my age — I realized that while our stories weren’t exactly the same, we experienced a lot of the same pressure and had a lot of the same needs. I decided to create a space for all of us where we can support each other as we make the decisions that are best for our individual wants, needs, and lives.
#2 — Showing up counts.
S: What does the idea of making the decisions that are best for you actually look like in your life?
L: It’s basically what 2016 has been for me — one big chance to own who I am and make the decisions that are best for me. I know I’ll be better for it, but it has really been the worst.
I’m super tired emotionally and physically from a lot of the changes that I’ve made in my life and the growth that comes from them, which means I don’t have much more to give. But I’ve been reminding myself to keep showing up and doing my best.
What else is there, you know?
S: What has helped?
L: It’s helped to set goals that have built-in flexibility. My goal every week is usually to sweat for 30 minutes three times.
I make a plan for how I’ll do that so that I don’t have to think about it when my week gets busy, but I change it up based on how I’m feeling emotionally and physically.
S: How do you feel about the health and fitness part of your life right now? 3 feeling words.
L: I feel discouraged, resilient & hopeful.
- Discouraged because I am so freaking exhausted that every time I workout I’m reminded of my limitations.
- Resilient because I’m pushing through my negative self-talk and challenging myself to be proud of each and every time I show up and do my best.
- Hopeful because I know that continuing to show up is powerful and will have an impact on how I feel inside and out.
#3 — We get to make our own rules. Awww yeah.
S: What has been the biggest barrier to a consistent workout habit? Have you figured out ways to address it?
L: The biggest barrier is 100% my over-thinking. I get so overwhelmed with logistics and metrics and the meaning of it all, that I often quit just so I can shut my brain up for a little bit.
I’ve made up a few rules to help get out of my own way.
- Rule #1: Worry about logistics later. Don’t let the fact that I’ve already showered or that I’m not sure when I’m going to shower after (seriously one of my biggest logistical concerns) get in the way. Do it now and deal with the rest later.
- Rule #2: Give myself the out.The biggest struggle for me is showing up. Once I do, I am usually game for whatever I planned. I make a deal with myself that my only job is to show up. Once I get there, I get to decide what to do next.
- Rule #3: No timing. When I’m running, I do my very best not to pay attention to how fast (or not so fast) I’m going. Usually that means that I don’t wear a watch because well, I can’t be trusted. Paying so much attention to my performance gets in the way of letting my body do her own damn thing.
BONUS —Inspiration, HIIT Workouts & Dry Shampoo
S: What’s something you learned recently?
L: I finally learned what the heck Bullet Journaling is! My Mom is really into it and so is everyone else in the world apparently?
S: Where do you turn for inspiration?
L: Instagram. Seriously. I feel like I’m always discovering super talented creative people. I really love poet and artist Cleo Wade’s Instagram.
S: What do you love about your body?
L: My height! (I’m 5'10") It took me a long time, but I finally got to a place where I love it… and even add heels when I can.
S: What’s your favorite thing you’re watching, reading, or listening to right now?
L: The Players Tribune, hands down. Big crush. Here’s a fav.
S: What do you strive for in your life?
L: At the root of it, I really want to be a person who asks good questions. I see it as the starting point for so many things I want for my life: more empathy and less judgment of myself and others, more curiosity and creative problem solving, more self-discovery and personal growth. It’s not a natural strength, but I have really great friends (like you) who do this so well, so I’m lucky to be surrounded by a lot of great teachers.
S: What’s something you’re looking forward to in 2017?
L: 100% a fresh start. 2016 was so complicated and messy and hard and also meaningful and full of growth. I know that I don’t get to leave all of the complicated and messy and hard stuff behind, but I’m hoping for a little fresh perspective to be able to see all the meaning and growth and even benefit from it as I move forward.
S: Do you have any favorite workouts or activities right now?
L: Yes! I loved Dodi’s park bench workout. I go back to it often. I have also saved all of our Weekly HIIT Workout infographics on my phone, so those are my go-to’s.
S: Do you have any “lifestyle hacks” that you use to help you fit all of this in?
L: Is dry shampoo a lifestyle hack? Because yes. I say this a lot, and I’m being completely serious when I say that knowing what to do about washing my hair while working out consistently is a real thing for me. Dry shampoo gets me most of the way through that dilemma, which is why it’s my hack. My favorite is Kevin Murphy’s Fresh Hair. I buy the travel size which is cheaper and still lasts a long time.
That’s it for this convo for now… You can keep in touch with Lizzy by following her @elizabethrvilla.