When I was younger – as a girl growing up on Long Island, and later as a young woman living in New York City – I subsisted on bagels with cream cheese, cheap beer and cigarettes. Exercise meant forcing myself to the gym and hanging out on a workout machine for twenty minutes before heading home to my studio apartment to put up a box of pasta. It was thrilling to be bar hopping in the Lower East Side at 4 am, but I could have done without the morning after hangover and feelings of emptiness. Not to mention the too tight jeans.
I hit bottom at age 29. I was depressed, 40 pounds overweight, and newly unemployed. Some mornings, I couldn’t get out of bed. I had dreams though – crazy-sounding dreams for my life: I wanted to write, I wanted to practice and teach yoga; I wanted to, one day, become a mother. More than anything, I wanted to learn how to wake up happy.
Sometimes when we’re most desperate, that’s when the answers come. I started paying attention – to the yoga philosophy my teachers mentioned in class; to the connections between what I ate and how I felt the next day; to how great it felt to take a walk whether through nature or down city sidewalks. Fast forward through a year of walking everyday, eating more fruits and vegetables and whole grains and lentils and much less of everything else, and cutting out drinking and smoking – not to mention dysfunctional relationships – I’d lost 40 pounds, had my first piece of writing published, and started teaching yoga. In the eight years since, my far-fetched dreams have somehow come true. I’m a writer, a yogi, and a new mom.
In my book enLIGHTened: How I Lost 40 Pounds with a Yoga Mat, Fresh Pineapples, and a Beagle Pointer (Skyhorse, May 2009) I share my story, along with the lessons I learned from yoga philosophy – and some of my most inspiring healthy living friends and teachers. enLIGHTened is both a memoir and a conscious-living and eating guide complete with yoga poses and philosophy, simple vegetarian recipes, and suggestions for conscious living, eating and moving.
Stay tuned, WITH OR WITHOUT YOU, my 12th novel is coming August 4, 2020 from Algonquin. My 11th novel CRUEL BEAUTIFUL WORLD is an Indie Next Pick. IS THIS TOMORROW was an May Indie Pick. I'm also the New York Times bestselling author of PICTURES OF YOU, a San Francisco Chronicle Lit Pick, a Costco "Pennie's Pick." a NAIBA bestseller and on the Best Books of 2011 List from San Francisco Chronicle, Providence Journal, Kirkus Reviews and Bookmarks Magazine. I'm the recipient of a New York Foundation of the Arts Grant in Fiction. I was a 2013 finalist in the Sundance Screenwriting Lab and a finalist in the Nickelodeon Screenwriting Fellowship, four of my novels were optioned for screen, and I talked my way into writing the script for two of them. My essay, HIgh Infidelity, has been optioned for film. I'm a book critic for The San Francisco Chronicle and People Magazine. I teach novel writing for UCLA Extension Writers' Program, and Stanford online, do private fiction editing, and I am a professional namer! I live with my husband, writer/editor Jeff Tamarkin and we beam with pride about our son, an actor/filmmaker in college. Visit me at http://www.carolineleavitt.com.