Sarah Elizondo is the first participant in my Visions of Romance Project. I first met her as we both waited tables at the same restaurant, but she has since moved on to inspire so many people through her fitness classes and personal training. As she kicks some serious ass these days she is also getting back into one of her first loves: performing. We had a lot of fun as we ran around a quiet corner of Central Park early this summer for her session. Check out her photos and interview below.
What do you find sexy?
"Exterior: I think body posture/body language is big for me, so someone who stands tall, someone who makes direct eye contact. I think that if a man looks directly into my eyes that’s sexy. I think [there's] a walk that people have that's sexy. You can kind-of swing your hips, and it’s like just direct, knowing assertiveness. I like assertiveness. The thing that everyone says: ‘confidence is sexy’ but I translate that to body language.
[In myself]: When I was in college I was like, 'my boobs are hanging out, that’s sexy! Whatever can show the most skin!’ and that’s what most of my Facebook photos reflect from college, but now it’s kind of like you don’t get to have everything. So peekaboo things: a full head to toe dress with a little cutout in the top or side. I think those are visually sexy: you don’t get the whole picture."
What is romance to you?
"I’m a super Disney romance nerd so: the spread of roses, the music, the candlelight, the bathtub full of bubbles. Anything that is a moment of genuine exchange of appreciation or gratitude and love. I don’t always tie romance into sexuality personally because I guess I grew up in that more sheltered [place]. Romance is Aladin and Jasmine flying on their magic carpet to the moon—that was the most romantic thing to me ever. When I was 16 I was allowed to date and my dad took me on a carriage ride and said this is how a date should be: got me flowers, opened the door for me, paid for dinner, we went on a carriage ride, he walked me home. So that was romance to me. Romance was never a sexual thing. it was always an act of giving, an act of romantic things. Nothing sexual."
Is there a difference between romance and love and what is that difference?
"I think romance is more of a feeling. I guess I feel unfortunately [that] it can be fleeting. It’s not very consistent. It has to definitely be a choice. Sometimes I think love just happens. You live in love, you are loved, you show love, you share love. It is more of a state of being. Whereas romance can sometimes be work. Romance is an effort that is put forward--it is a different thought. When I think romance I tend to put it in the category of an event whereas love is just being."
What else signifies love to you?
"For me love is emotional support, physical connection, being able to balance somebody out. Being honest with somebody: so even telling someone something that they don’t want to hear--I think that’s real love. Because you can be real and not hide. I spent so much of my life hiding behind so many things because of the way I was raised and to be just 100% authentic with someone [means so much]. I think that’s why friendships can be love. It’s not just between a man and a woman in a marriage sense."
What makes you feel loved?
"Quality time, romantic events/gestures, being able to actually have a conversation with someone that has depth and weight and something that is intellectually stimulating. When I feel loved [there's] definitely a lot of physical touch. I’m a very touchy feely person. Just closeness, whether it’s in proximity of a person or emotional closeness/connection/vulnerability. I think someone who can be vulnerable is someone who can share love pretty freely."
What do you love about yourself?
"I used to hate it but now I love it more than ever: my big smile. Because I used to be teased all the time growing up and it really took until college to learn to love it because I think it’s my best asset. I know when I smile other people smile and I don’t know if it’s because other people are laughing at me or whatever but I love it.
I love my height--I think I’m a nice height. I love my muscles. I love now that I’ve found a balance of confidence within and without, going on my fitness journey and letting the person I know is on the inside be on the outside that someone can just see it from afar. A template of what I feel inside."
How do you love yourself?
"I love myself by taking care of myself, excersicing, trying to eat right but also enjoying friend time. I love myself when I’m spending time with friends. When I’m by myself a lot I don’t really like that and it makes me sad and makes me feel alone so when I’m with friends I know I’m healing my soul. I love myself by napping a lot. I love to nap. So that way when I’m awake I’m with people. Now I like to do my nails or get a massage or actually treat myself because I do deserve it. I never even got a pedicure until I was 22 years old and I didn’t know how amazing they were and I was like, oh, my god, I deserve this all the time! So just little things, little treats to myself is how I show myself love."
So if you could travel back in time and you were the one who got to teach your younger self about sex: is there something you would do differently than was done for you or is there something you would really like to tell your younger self about sex?
"I wish that I would have been open with my parents. It was super taboo growing up so all the sex I learned was the little bit from school and then was told by my parents that [sex is] 'not right.' So I really went on the journey alone and it was always a very shameful, hidden, taboo subject so I was always always sneaking around. Kissing boys was…oh, my god…the first time a guy touched my boob I was like, that’s it, game over! because it was so different. So I think going back to tell my younger self: If I can’t talk to my parents then talk to my friends, my cousins, because I just didn’t talk to anybody. I talked to nobody about it and I think it led to a lot of pain in hiding and being scared about certain things that happen sexually whether it’s emotionally/physically. Just not even knowing where to go or what to do about it and just be quiet. I think I would be a lot less silent about it. I would tell my younger self to speak up."
Anything else you would like to add?
"I like this whole romantic shoot because the first thing I was thinking was heels, and jewelry, and... Then I was like no jewelry, no heels-- that’s sexy, that’s different. Like I said earlier romance was never a sexual thing for me so going into this shoot I was thinking more fairy tales and Disney and where are the birds and the butterflies (I know!) that are just going to float and land on my head? When I was looking at my clothes I was thinking I don’t need something that is vavavoom and curvaceous and my boobs popping out. I wanted something I felt pretty in and I didn’t want to wear heavy eyeliner. I wanted everything to be more or less natural like what I wear everyday. I don’t want flashy because I don’t think romance is flashy. Although I said it’s an event I still don’t see that as the diamonds and the fireworks. It doesn’t have to be all that crazy, just something very simple."
Sarah, thank you SO MUCH for being my guinea pig. It was an honor to get to work with you in this capacity. Thank you for being so open and willing to try anything. You are a rock-star.
If you are interested in fitness classes or personal training with Sarah reach out to me and I will put you in touch. To learn more about the Visions of Love project visit this post. I'd love to hear your own thoughts and experiences, so please reach out via the comments section or shoot me a message via the contact form if you'd like to join in the conversation.