Sweet Soul: A Balanced Life | Zoie Esposito

As a verb, balance is defined as: “to keep or put (something) in a steady position so that it does not fall”. As a noun, balance is defined as: “an even distribution of weight enabling someone or something to remain upright and steady.” When it comes to my new series “A Balanced Life” I have chosen a few lovely ladies to feature that I believe embody what it means to live a balanced and healthy lifestyle. These women inspire me to keep buying organically (even if it is more expensive and some people just don’t get it), to keep working out (even if it is the first time in my life I am getting fit in a healthy way) and to keep up the positive attitude and energy.

It’s a new year & a new day, and I bring to you my first Balanced Babe of 2017, Zoie Esposito! You might be trying to rack your brain of which red-carpet celeb she might be, but no, she’s not famous, although her name does have a Hollywood-esque ring to it. Although she’s not being chased down by TMZ on the streets of New York, I wouldn’t be surprised if Zoie became the next fitness sensation of our social media crazed generation. Zoie and I went to college together and were always rubbing shoulders in the Greek community….yes, I was in a sorority (fun fact!). Post-college, I am glad to see, but not surprised, that Zoie is leading a life of fitness (her and a friend curate an Instagram account full of all of the hotspots to run, sweat and have fun in NYC.), balance and wellness. 

  1. What does a Balanced Life mean to you?

A Balanced Life to me means doing everything in moderation (in all parts of life). I eat healthy MOST of the time, but there are days when I eat an entire tub of ice cream/fries/Nutella/whatever. The next day, I wake up and go back to being healthy, hit the gym, and don’t let my one meal/snack throw me off for an extended period of time. For me, having a balanced life means being disciplined, while being open. It means working hard but leaving time to play or relax. It’s about hitting the gym every day and feeling okay about going to happy hour sometimes.  On another note, I actively try to be a very level headed person. But in trying so hard to stay level headed I can get suffocated and need to let myself lose it for a minute. For me that’s balance, inserting some craziness here and there to stay sane. I guess in short, you can say for me that balance is not trying too hard to be one thing or act one way, in doing so, allowing yourself to experience the natural ebbs and flows of life.

2. Do you have an AM and PM routine that contributes to your balanced life?

In the morning, I take a body shower to wake myself up, drink lemon water, and listen to music. Music is really the most important part of my AM and PM routine. In the morning, it helps set me mood for the day. Sometimes I strut around like I’m Beyoncé or Rihanna, other times I am dancing to Miguel or the Weekend, jumping around to Calvin Harris, rapping to J. Cole, or crying to Adele. After work, I need it in order to calm down and relax. I usually take another shower since I most likely am coming home from a workout. Admittedly, I shouldn’t take such long showers but I am often guilty of sitting in a boiling hot shower for 10-20 minutes listening to a relaxing play list to unwind and rinse off the subway grime and stress of the day. I think those moments are really underestimated and are my favorite parts of a long day.

3. What is your definition of self-love and positive body image?

Self-love and positive body image have gotten increasingly trickier in recent years with social media being a major player. I have certainly struggled with it, we all have our insecurities. When I was younger I felt insecure that I got muscular too easily and didn’t have nice/ long hair. Even still I find myself comparing to other girls. It sounds crazy, but I spent years trying to just do cardio and avoid weights as a result of a few comments. Then, I started reading more and more and for the last 7 years have been a huge advocate for weight training (but that’s another conversation). After having my body for 27 years I have finally defined self-love in terms of body image for myself. It doesn’t mean that you think you are perfect all the time and you have to be 100% happy with your body/appearance all the time. You can still make changes, if that’s what you want. It means accepting what’s natural and any changes you want to make are keeping your natural body in mind and respecting that. You can lose or gain weight, tone up or tone down, bulk up or lean out, but you can’t change your natural physique. I love my body and seeing what it can do. How I can be challenged. I work out because I love my body, not because I hate it. It’s about being gentle with yourself and being able to understand your insecurities and still love yourself regardless, not about thinking you are perfect all the time. Sometimes I look like sh*t, sometimes I look in the mirror and think I’m Beyoncé. I still have my moments, but both are okay!

4. What are some ways you stay active and foods you eat to achieve a balanced mind, body and soul (favorite work out routines, favorite healthy dish/ snack etc.)

I was a field hockey player in high school. When I went to college and realized I need to learn how to workout properly (Plot twist, late night calzones without mandatory sports the next day, does not result in a six pack), I went to my father. He was a body builder when he was younger and I have an older brother who was a football player. So they taught me how to use weights and perfect a squat. I have become quite an expert at it but after 10 years of it, I find myself needing to switch it up more (partially because my joints don’t love me). Luckily the NYC fitness scene is booming. Fitness is truly apart of my life in every way. I genuinely need it for my sanity. Every time I am angry, the first thing I do is book a boxing class. I know myself, I know that I need physical release to feel better. When I was a kid, it might have been throwing something, but this is a much healthier option. I love taking boxing (Shadowbox, Work Train Fight, Gotham, Title). I think there is no better release and I am in such a better mood afterwards, it’s basically therapy. . Lately I have been trying to incorporate more yoga and barre into my regimen because it is such a challenge. As a result of the training I’ve done throughout my life, I am very tight and these classes really help with that and are gentle on my body. So typically it’s three days of my own workout at the gym and 2-3 classes to switch it up. The classes are also a huge help when I’m feeling less than motivated or tired. I have also made fitness a huge part of my social life. I have a fitness account with my friend (@getyourassmoving) and during the winter it’s been so helpful to have someone keep me accountable. Often times, instead of asking a friend to grab dinner or drinks, I suggest taking a class and grabbing a shake. I think everyone appreciates the gesture.
In terms of food, balance is key. I really believe in keeping it simple. Not to overcomplicate your diet. Most times I eat very clean, sometimes I eat like a monster. So during the day my diet will consist of lots of vegetables, eggs, fruit, fish, and nuts… and almond butter. I am not a vegetarian but I definitely don’t eat too much meat. I am of Greek/Italian descent and when my mom or grandmother is making meatballs or another delicious dish, I don’t want to restrict myself. I eat well most of the time so I can indulge when it’s worth it. I may not have the 1 dollar pizza at work but when I’m at an amazing Italian restaurant I can have quality brick oven pizza and feel good about it. I also have a huge sweet tooth and love chocolate so I keep something sweet around for when I have a craving so I don’t overindulge later. My goal is to never have to take a prescription pill or at least prolong it as long as possible. So I am constantly researching and learning more ways to keep my body strong inside and out. Right now, my focus is on gut health. But everyone’s different so I am still testing out what works for me.
5. Words to live by/ favorite quote that has to do with positivity, good vibes or positive body image.
“One of the greatest regrets in life is being what others would want you to be, rather than being yourself.”
It’s so important to just do whatever the f@#$ you want and not be scared. This doesn’t mean to step on others or be too selfish. But I have often found myself stifled by other peoples expectations and am always trying to work on that.
“Listen to your body” –
There comes a time where you need to rest or something doesn’t feel right. Your body is telling you something. Whether it’s your gut telling you to make a choice or pain in your hip telling you to take a rest day.
“Always take the stairs” – I will always take the stairs literally but also figuratively. The short cut doesn’t get you the best results, ever.
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