Finding Self Discipline

As a Division 1 volleyball player in college, Alexis Reed benefitted from the structure that comes with participating on a competitive team. Everyday routines were strictly monitored by coaches who told her what to eat, when to go to sleep, when to wake up, and even what to wear.

After graduation, Alexis returned to the Washington D.C. area and started working. But without the discipline and community of a team sport, she struggled to set healthy routines and quickly gained weight.

“Not having that structure really hurt me, because my whole life was very structured to that point,” she says. “So being out on my own, I had to learn how to be an adult in the real world, how to balance my life with my work and and then how to stay active.”

Recognizing that she needed to be held accountable, Alexis started a fitness blog, Flecks of Lex. At first, she used it as a diary to keep track of her nutrition and exercise goals. It helped her discover running, then yoga, and eventually she started playing volleyball again. The more she wrote about her experiences, the more people sought out her advice.

Soon, Alexis toyed with the idea of becoming a yoga instructor. But when a friend talked her out of it, she became a spin instructor instead and went on to be certified to teach TRX, cycling, and HIIT workouts.

When the pandemic hit in 2020, Alexis’ lifelong struggle with insomnia started to get worse. Being separated from her close-knit family and working long hours from a confined space at home started to take its toll.

“I’m not a typically anxious person, but I had a lot of anxiety and was really, frankly, depressed at the beginning,” she said. “I just felt so constricted and the uncertainty of how long is this going to last. I had a lot of trouble sleeping.”

To manage her stress, Alexis started exploring the Peloton app and was drawn to its offering of yoga classes. She became intrigued with restorative yoga, a restful practice that focuses on longer, passive stretching to slow and open the body.

“Half the time, I would fall asleep during my restorative yoga practice. Something was happening where it was calming my nervous system,” she says. “And I can actually sleep, and I'm not worried about all these things that I honestly can't even control. I’m not creating a vaccine, so what can I really do?”

The experience prompted her to return to her original goal of becoming a yoga instructor. When a trauma-informed yoga studio offered free 200-hour teacher training programs to black women, Alexis was quick to participate and went on to complete an advanced teacher certificate.

“And it really just helped me find different ways where I could calm my own nervous system down,” she says. “I could find moments of relaxation and release. And it helps me manage my mood better.”

All of this progress was put to the test in 2022 when her grandmother died and then her grandfather collapsed and was hospitalized. Overwhelmed, she struggled with feelings of guilt that she wasn’t able to properly grieve.

Under incredible stress, Alexis attended a silent yoga retreat, where she learned how to meditate, a practice she continues to incorporate into her daily routine.

When her grandfather passed, Alexis started talking with a therapist, who gave her valuable tools to help her cope with grief. Then in May of 2023, her youngest sister died unexpectedly from pneumonia at the age of 25.

“And so it was three deaths in under a year of people who were really significant in my life. That was a really hard year,” says Alexis. “And honestly, I credit my ability to meditate, my ability to learn how to self regulate, and also talking to a professional. Those things really helped me get through this.”

The deep connection between mental health and physical health is widely researched. Depression, for example, can cause headaches, fatigue, and digestive problems, while anxiety can cause an upset stomach, insomnia, and difficulty concentrating. This is why outlook, resilience, and relationships are among the 11 health systems BellSant regularly assesses to give a full picture of one’s health. 

Today, Alexis continues to share her experiences to encourage others to try new things. In addition to a full-time career in marketing, Alexis teaches up to nine classes each week. She also manages her blog, YouTube channel, and Instagram accounts, and hosts The Sweat Fearlessly Podcast to promote her philosophy that fitness should be fun and enjoyable.

She also co-founded DMV Fitness Fam, a local fitness group that she started after attempts to attend boutique studios made her feel self-conscious about how she looked, what she was wearing, or what she was doing. 

“I felt really excluded,” she said. “So I created this community so that people could go to different spaces where they would feel included, where it was OK to be new at something. And we’ve got a great, thriving community.”

Alexis continues to be driven by a goal to help others, and she shares a simple message of encouragement.

“I found that a lot of people just need someone to tell them it’s OK to try. Maybe you like it, maybe you don’t, but at least you’ve tried it,” she says. “And I encourage people to sweat fearlessly.”

Story told by: Millicent Skiles

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