Cool People I Know: Meet Robyn Baker

3W6A3497

This series is all about sharing with you some of the cool people I know. The individuals you’ll meet here are truly special. They’ll share what inspires them, what has changed them, what they know about life, and how they got to where they are today.

Meet Robyn:

My name is Robyn Baker. I am born and raised in Southern California, and have yet to leave. I am half German and half Japanese, so I am the original “axis of evil”. I am the founder and sole proprietor of Asteya Fitness. I primarily teach private Pilates sessions and personal training at my small studio and out of client’s homes. I also teach group classes at my friend’s studio. I wanted to create a space to work with clients that focused on their inner transformation, rather than the weight loss and the outward transformation, that is why I started Asteya Fitness.

What circumstances led you to your profession?

If you would have told me in high school that I would be working in the health and fitness industry as a “grown-up”, I probably would have slapped you across the face and called you crazy. I went to Orange County High School of the Arts with a focus in Musical Theater. I had a crazy passion (and still do) for performing. In my senior year, I developed anorexia nervosa; the deadliest of all psychological diseases. The uncertainty of moving on from high school to college, the intense pressure to do everything perfectly in order to succeed, and living in a home where my dad was a functioning alcoholic are the main reasons anorexia took over my life. My health quickly deteriorated, and at 18 years old I checked into the UCLA psychiatric ward for 2 months until my weight stabilized. I was still very under the control of my eating disorder when I discharged from treatment, and in college turned to exercise as a way to control my weight.

The intense pressure to do everything perfectly in order to succeed, and living in a home where my dad was a functioning alcoholic are the main reasons anorexia took over my life.

I was still very much underweight and thought if I regained muscle instead of fat it would make to process less torturous. Exercise quickly became a way to purge calories, I would work out every day. I changed my major from musical theater to kinesiology (the study of human movement), because through my eating disorder, I developed a keen interest in the human body and how it worked to produce movement during exercise. I was at the gym so much that the fitness manger asked if I would be interested in becoming a personal trainer. So I started to work as a personal trainer and spin instructor at 24 Hour Fitness as a way to excuse my excessive amounts of exercise. And that is how I got into the fitness industry. Because of my eating disorder.

I eventually went into treatment again after suffering for 10 years with my eating disorder and am now in REAL recovery. When I first went back to working as a personal trainer post recovery, my doctors freaked. I was basically an alcoholic working at a bar. But I have stayed dedicated to my recovery and have found a way to take what I have learned from my experience to help my clients understand that body size and weight are not indicators of health and wellness.

What inspires you?

My clients. When they take that leap of faith and step out of their comfort zone, I am so proud. It can be a small thing, like wearing in a tank top to a session instead of a long sleeved top when they don’t think their arms are “small enough”. Or it can be big things, like walking down stairs without holding onto the handrails for the first time EVER in their life and being pain free. Each of those moments is incredible to me, and they inspire me to keep doing what I am doing.  

What is one valuable thing you’ve learned in life?

To thine own self be true. It is so easily said but not so simple to live. Be true to your beliefs and purpose above all things. Never lose sight of who you are.

Name one experience that has completely changed you.

My eating disorder. It is a LONG experience, but it is one experience. It was a very dark time in my life and to this day it is incredibly hard to not only see pictures of myself from back then, but to also read journal entries from those days. When I turned 30 (3 years after starting recovery), I had a breakdown. I thought I had screwed up my life forever. I thought that my chance to become a Broadway star and truly be happy was lost for good. I blamed myself for screwing up my life. But now I know how wrong that is. I was given a beautiful opportunity by surviving my eating disorder. I was given the opportunity to share what I had learned through my battle and possibly prevent someone from suffering the same fate. My eating disorder forever changed the course of my life, but it is up to me to decide what that course will be. After my breakdown, I made the decision to share my story and live my life helping those struggling to find their true beauty apart from their outer shell.

Stop using the word “should”. At one point or another in our lives we all say that we “should be farther along” than we presently are. That is absolute baloney. The only place you should be at any given moment is exactly where you are. 

What is your proudest moment?

Every day since starting recovery from my eating disorder, because I know that I have lived another day outside and above of the madness.

What’s your advice for someone who hasn’t found his or her way in the world yet?

Stop using the word “should”. At one point or another in our lives we all say that we “should be farther along” than we presently are. That is absolute baloney. The only place you should be at any given moment is exactly where you are. I started my business late last year and since then I have had many of these moments. So now, this is what I say to myself: “I may not always be where I want to be, but I am always where I need to be”. You may think that you have not yet found your way, but little do you know you are already living that way right now.

Robyn’s story is so inspiring! I can totally relate to using the word “should” too much, to judging my process and my journey. This is where we are meant to be, right here, right now.

To learn more about Robyn, visit her website or follow her on Twitter and Facebook. If anything in this post resonated with you or moved you, share with us in the comments or reach out to Robyn and let her know.

What’s In Your Bag, SobbingOnFifth?

SobbingOnFifth

I met @SobbingOnFifth about two years ago on Twitter. We bonded over our love of fashion and of course, Twitter. She is one of the most stylish and funniest girls I know. So I had to ask – what’s in her bag?

Here it is, in her own words:

  1. Mansur Gavriel bucket bag, aka, my baby. I fell in love with this bag the first time I saw it and signed up on about ten different waiting lists, stalking stores like a madwoman, until No. 6 Store made the fateful call that it had arrived. I haven’t carried another bag since.
  2. Another moment of love at first sight was for these Dolce & Gabbana sunglasses. I’ve been trying not to be a sucker for what pops up in street style shots over and over lately, but these appealed to my inner baroque-loving history geek.
  3. I keep a planner with me. Yup, in this age of smart phones. There’s something about physically writing it down that just helps me actually remember things and stay organized.
  4. And a notebook. I’d like to tell you I use this to write down spontaneous notes of genius and inspiration while out and about, but mostly I use it to do math when figuring out a sale price (again, with the old fashion ways!) or write down the name of a restaurant, store, or bar that I pass that I want to check out.
  5. Nail file and Maybelline Color Show nail polish in Iced Queen. Color Show polishes are such a good drugstore buy. I think they’re like $4.00 and they last forever, and you only need two coats for really rich color.
  6. Hair tie, because duh.
  7. Gum, also duh.
  8. My mirror compact with a pug on it, which I’d rather look at than my face any day. The pug is even holographic, because I roll like that. And pugs trump all, obviously.
  9. Aaand we come to my lip product collection – this is actually the smallest it’s been. The lightness and roominess of this bucket bag has encouraged me to carry around lipsticks, glosses, and tinted balms in every shade. For today, I just have my trusty Clinique chubby stick in Roomiest Rose, which I much prefer to the dryness of lipstick, my Yu-Be Lip Therapy, my Maybelline Baby Lips (least favorite, got it because everyone was raving about it, but I don’t get it…?) and Vaseline Lip Therapy in Rosy Lips which has the shine, tint and feel of those glorious glosses you used in 8th grade, only way more moisturizing and long-lasting.

So there you have it. Follow SobbingOnFifth on Twitter for style banter and hilarious commentary.

Cool People I Know: Meet Jessica Kuiken

Jessica Kuiken

This series is all about sharing with you some of the cool people I know. The individuals you’ll meet here are truly special. They’ll share what inspires them, what has changed them, what they know about life, and how they got to where they are today.

When I first met Jessica, she had just lost her mom. I thought about her often. I wondered where and how she found the strength to carry on after such a devastating loss. Well, I’ll let her tell ya…

My name is Jessica Kuiken and I’m a Pilates Instructor/Personal Trainer – healthy living enthusiast, Drenched Cardio, Core Power Yoga, interior design and fashion lover. I adore my fur babies, chocolate, and living in Los Angeles.

What circumstances led you to your profession?

I was a celebrity personal assistant for about 10 years, and experienced a back injury while living and working in NYC. My physical therapist and also my employer suggested I try Pilates. It changed my life completely. In about a year, I went from being in so much pain – it was hard to get out of bed – to no pain at all. It was a slow process, but it worked. When I decided to relocate back to Los Angeles, I made the decision to leave the assistant world full-time and get my Pilates certification. I found an amazing job working for an actress who understood what I needed to do, and she was flexible enough to allow me to fit school in with work. It was grueling, but again, worth it. I left my assistant job in 2011, with her blessing, to start my new career and I’ve never looked back! Sure, I miss the perks, but the best perk of all in my job now is to see people progress and to know that I am helping them get healthy or overcome real physical obstacles. To me there is nothing more rewarding than that.

It doesn’t matter what it is, but if you are going after something you love with passion, that is inspiring.

What inspires you?

People who are living outside of their comfort zone inspire me. It doesn’t matter what it is, but if you are going after something you love with passion, that is inspiring. Personal growth is always something I am inspired by. If you are growing, you can’t go wrong in my book. My mom inspires me. I think that we all have the capacity to overcome tremendous hardship. My mom overcame leukemia 7 years ago and breast cancer 2 years ago, and even though she lost her most recent battle with cancer, her fight and determination and attitude through it were an inspiration and gave me a whole new perspective on death and dying.

What is one valuable thing you’ve learned in life?

Oh gosh, so many things! But they all stem from one place. Trust your instincts! Call it your inner guide, guru, intuition, pilot, whatever; when you listen to it and when you don’t, makes all the difference. The other thing I learned the hard way is your family are those that support, encourage, respect and honor you, it’s not always necessarily blood family. You have to know when to let go of certain people and situations that are not healthy for you regardless of any DNA connection.

Name one experience that has completely changed you.

My mom’s death for sure. It opened my eyes to a lot of things that were never talked about in my family, and it made me see a lot of things I avoided for many years. It was a profound experience and though it is very recent, I feel it has already impacted the way I live my life.

What is your proudest moment?

I decided to move to LA 20 years ago, and did it all on my own without really knowing anyone and never having lived away from my family. I flew out here by myself, got a place to live, and found a job all in one week. When I moved, I had such a sense of peace and not one regret. Sure it was scary, but it was the boldest and bravest thing I’ve done to date.

We don’t have a road map. There is no GPS for life, but to keep going take the detours, and take the alternate routes.

What’s your advice for someone who hasn’t found his or her way in the world yet?

My husband asks me this all the time! My advice is that we don’t have a road map. There is no GPS for life, but to keep going take the detours, and take the alternate routes. Keep experimenting, keep making choices every day that are positive, but don’t beat yourself up (very hard not to!) if a choice you make doesn’t ‘work out’. If we change the thought that something didn’t work out to ‘it worked out the way it was supposed to’, it changes our perspective. I fully believe our lives are designed to go the way they do for a reason. The paths we take are ours and ours alone. No one can say whether they are wrong or right, and honestly neither can we. Enjoy the journey…It’s such a cliché, but its true. The destination is great, but the journey is where the real magic happens.

It’s so true sometimes we have to take alternate routes, and our path may not look like we thought it would. Thank you so much, Jessica, for sharing your wisdom and experiences with us.

To learn more about Jessica, visit her blog or follow her on Instagram and Twitter. If anything in this post resonated with you or moved you, share with us in the comments or reach out to Jessica and let her know.

#ManiMonday: Watercolor Manicure Tutorial

watercolor manicure tutorial

I love good nail art! I am so fortunate to have one of the most talented nail artists do my nails. I’m referring to the super sweet and gifted, Kim. I always get so many compliments on my nails, so I am excited she has agreed to share fun tutorials for you to try at home. Here are her instructions on a watercolor mani.

What you will need: Acrylic paint, nail polish for a base color, a clear top coat polish, a cup of water, and brushes. The size of your brushes will depend on how big your want to make your watercolor spots.

2

Then, follow these steps:

  1. Paint your nails with a base color of choice. In this case, Kim used white polish.
  2. Kim recommends sticking to three colors to use on top of your base color. Place your selected colors in a little tray or plate.
  3. Dip your brush in the  acrylic paint, then in the water. When you dip it in water it makes the color “runny” so you can play.
  4. Dab the brush on your nail, make it as big or as small as you’d like – the water will make the paint spread randomly.
  5. Repeat this step with every color on every  nail.
  6. Follow with a clear top coat to seal in the colors, and voila!

3

Don’t forget to follow Kim on Instagram. If you’re in South Florida, book an appointment with her by calling  (561) 340-6400.

What’s In Your Bag, Michael Miller?

1. (4)

Last week, I shared all about my obsession with bags and their contents. I kicked off the What’s In Your Bag series by sharing one of my purses and revealing its contents. I’m thrilled to follow that with Michael Miller’s bag. I know of him through my friend, Nastassia, who suggested I featured him in the series. I am so glad she did, and you can see why.

So here we go…

1. Hermes Garden Party bag

2. Cash

3. Hermes Carmen keychain with Porsche keys

4. Hermes card case

5. Costume National sunnies

6. Bulgari key chain with office key

7. Hermes Ulysses notebook

8. Montblanc pen

9. Client files

10. Goyard wallet

11.  Loewe checkbook

12. Prada checkbook

13. Gucci checkbook

How fabulous is Michael? Beyond! Follow Michael on Instagram for a glimpse into his fabulous life as a successful lawyer in Atlanta, Georgia. 

Snackaroos: Blueberry Banana Oatmeal Muffins

Finished Muffins

I am just going to come out and say it…I don’t cook or bake. I prefer to buy my food already prepared. Not because I don’t know how, but because I either don’t have time or just plain don’t feel like it. Every now and then, however, I feel inspired to make something.

Not to brag or anything, but I happen to have some awesome friends with many talents. My friend Katie Petri’s talent? The girl can bake! I asked her to share some of her favorite recipes with us. So if you feel inspired to bake something, you should definitely give this blueberry, banana, and oatmeal muffin recipe a try.

Here are the ingredients you’ll need:

3/4 cup oats

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 cup whole wheat flour

1/2 cup sugar (Katie used raw sugar)

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 cup mashed ripe bananas (about 3)

1/2 cup milk

1 large egg

2 tablespoons vegetable oil (She substituted with applesauce)

2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

1 1/2 cups fresh blueberries or 1 1/2 cups frozen blueberries, unthawed (6 to 7 ounces)

Walnuts

Prep

Preheat oven to 400°F. Line 12 muffin cups with paper liners or non-stick spray (Katie prefers using butter). Combine oats, flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon in medium bowl; whisk to blend.

Place mashed bananas in a large bowl. Stir in milk, egg, oil, and lemon juice. Mix in dry ingredients, then blueberries. Divide batter among muffin papers. Bake muffins until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Turn muffins out onto rack and cool 10 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.

And voila!

If you make these muffins, post them on Instagram and tag us. Enjoy!

Cool People I Know: Meet Lisa Datz

Lisa Datz0244 100dpi

It’s really overwhelming when I look back on my life and think about all of the amazing people I have met. Everyone we meet has a story and a message to share with the world. We are all so alike, yet so unique. I think it’s absolutely fascinating to learn more about others. Think about all of the fascinating stories out there and the fact that we will never be able to meet every single person those stories belong to.

With that thought in mind, I want to share with you some of the cool people I know. The individuals you will meet in this series are truly special – I am so fortunate to have crossed paths with them. They’ll share what inspires them, what has changed them, what they know about life, and how they got to where they are today.

Without further ado, meet Lisa.

My name is Lisa Datz. I am an actress, writer and voice over artist. A Chi town girl originally, living in New York and Los Angeles – more Los Angeles at the moment. I’ve worked in film, television, on Broadway, off Broadway, danced in music videos, live announced award shows for VH1, video games, commercials, and audio books. Most recent projects include a film with Richard Gere and Ben Vereen called “Time Out Of Mind”, directed by Oscar nominee Oren Moverman, a reunion performance by the original Broadway cast of TITANIC at Lincoln Center in New York, and a concert series called “Triple Threat” that features Broadway performer “triple threats” here in Los Angeles, hosted by the hilarious and outrageous and my dear friend, Michael Leon Wooley.

What circumstances led you to your profession?

I was a dancer, a competitive figure skater, and a horseback rider as a little girl — a very um, determined and expressive child, to say the least. When I was a little girl, a director approached my parents about my being a child actor and I was totally uninterested at the time, which makes me giggle now when I think about it. Then, I went to an amazing high school in Highland Park, Illinois, that had a very good and well supported arts program and a teacher who changed my life, Tim Conway. I started studying acting — the classics like Shaw, Ibsen, Shakespeare, Tennessee Williams, and I was the lead singer in a rock band called Stonehenge LOL. The guys in the band came up with that name. I didn’t know what it meant at the time. And they joked that my hair looked like Robert Plant.

It’s how you overcome those fears and challenging times that will dictate the course of your life.

What inspires you?

Being around inspiring people and in inspiring places. Nothing inspires me more than being around people who are truly great at what they do, whatever their specialty, and how they conduct themselves and treat others. And to inspire my creativity, I make a bee line for the ocean, a mountain, a foreign country, or Central Park.

What is one valuable thing you’ve learned in life?

Overcoming fear. We all have it. It’s how you overcome those fears and challenging times that will dictate the course of your life. I continue to work on this every single day.

Name one experience that has completely changed you.

I found myself in a relationship with someone who turned out to have bipolar disorder and addiction issues. This was the only other serious relationship I’d ever had other than my marriage, so I was a bit sheltered I guess, and very naive to the seriousness of all this. The amount of damage this person caused to the people around him, myself included, was unlike anything I’d ever seen, experienced or even imagined, completely outside of my realm. Living through and healing from that experience along with other setbacks that occurred at that time, completely changed me. And it has brought a richness and authenticity to who I am, what I have to give to those I love and to my work, in ways I don’t think I quite had access to before.

I heard Oprah Winfrey talk about this once, and I’m paraphrasing here, but it was along the lines of: The Universe keeps throwing pebbles at you, then stones trying to get your attention. But sometimes it isn’t until the whole brick wall comes toppling over and you’re lying there under the rubble, that you think, “Maybe the Universe is trying to tell me something and I need to pay attention here”. That is exactly what it felt like at the time. How you emerge from that rubble (and I’m still in the journey), will determine whether you get back on course with what is meant to be your destiny, I believe.

Be around people and have experiences that make you feel awesome and excited and want to be better. 

What is your proudest moment?

Quite a few come to mind both personally and professionally, but I’ll go with a professional one. I was doing a show many moons ago, called “Hedwig And The Angry Inch” (it’s currently running on Broadway with Neil Patrick Harris) and I had just come off playing this very sweet, lovely ingenue in the Broadway show “Titanic” to playing this greasy, bearded, combat boot wearing, beer drinking, rock n roll roadie Croatian dude in Hedwig in this edge-y theatre downtown. Another cast member of Titanic, a fine actor and friend named Michael Cerveris, was in the show as well, so a big group of Titanic folks came downtown to see us. It was a fairly small theatre so I could see the audience well. I remember seeing one actor, a veteran I admired greatly in the audience, and I could see it wasn’t until about three quarters of the way through the show that he finally registered that it was me he was watching on stage and the look on his face was priceless. My brother the same thing – he kept waiting for me to make an entrance until he realized about halfway through that he’d been watching me onstage the whole time, but he had no idea it was me! That’s when I felt like I had really arrived as an actress, when not even your brother recognizes that it’s you.

What’s your advice for someone who hasn’t found his or her way in the world yet?

Get quiet, get still, get to nature, and quiet the inner noise. When you do this, you will be able to hear your voice and feel your instincts, that will guide you to the next step. And sometimes that’s all it is. What the next step is, not the whole picture just yet, and that is a-ok. Be around people, and have experiences that make you feel awesome, excited, and want to be better. Anything or anyone that gives you that tightness in your throat or your stomach, exit the premises, the relationship, the situation as soon as possible!

A very dear friend of mine wrote me an email once and I carry it around in my bag for the days when I’m not feeling quite so zen or the fear kicks in. One thing he wrote was,

“Adopt a feeling of ease. When you feel out at sea, the only way to survive is to relax your body and float. If you flail your arms and expend all of your energy fighting against insurmountable waves, you’ll drown. So, take a deep breath, go with the flow and keep your eyes on the horizon for any indication of land. If you see land, don’t get too excited. Just stay in the zone and slowly move yourself in that direction. Suddenly, highs and lows – compliments and criticisms – have little effect because you’re in control of how you choose to respond.  Stay in that flow state, look for the path of least resistance and you’ll find that things start coming your way.”

Some of the best advice I’ve ever received, thanks D :-)

I love that! Stay in the flow state. Choose the path of least resistance and things will come your way. Simply lovely. To learn more about Lisa visit her website, IMDB page, or follow her on Twitter.

If anything in this post resonated with you or moved you, share with us in the comments or reach out to Lisa to let her know.