How to make Valentine's Day less about the chocolate and more about the love??
For those of us trying to have less sugar and not more ;)
What is the purpose of Valentine's Day?
To eat desserts and buy roses?
Sometimes it seems like it is, based on the ads and chatter around us.
But what is the day really for? LOVE.
LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE.
Now I know that doesn't take the chocolates out of the office, or perhaps your kitchen, but maybe this can help our perception (and further, our sugar intake) this day/week...
Let's talk about some ways we can focus on the true meaning of this day:
-When you feel the pull of the candy dish, put your hand onto your phone instead and send a note to someone to say you care.
-When tempted by the 50% off chocolates tomorrow at Target, call someone and talk about how they have impacted your life for the better while you walk in the other direction.
-If you are given something sweet, go ahead and treat yourself a bit if you want, but try to keep in mind that the sugar rush won't make us happy-- it is the thought behind the gift from the person who made it/sent it.
-It's okay to not eat the whole heart. 20 pieces of chocolate? Keep a few, give away or toss the rest. I'm not a wasteful person, but this is about our health!
-Instead of going for drinks or dessert, how about going for a walk or other activity? Ice skating, indoor rock climbing, a concert, an outdoor sculpture garden...there are more ideas around us than we often realize!
Sugar is sneaky-- The more we have it, the more we want it. It is hard to take it out of our diets, but when we do, our whole being is stronger for it. Moods lift, energy comes back, the list goes on.
Despite what the media promotes, we can focus on those we LOVE today. Writing a card. Sending a note. Picking up the phone. Going for a walk with someone. There are so many ways to bring the love back to the forefront. (And sure, the pretty roses help a bit, too ;) )
How do you celebrate this day?
Wanted to share an article I was just featured in on Bustle, as it contains some really neat at-home fitness equipment.
That said, I also wanted to take the opportunity to stress that no matter if you just have yourself or you have an entire home gym, you can get an incredible workout. You do not need fancy tools or any equipment at all to achieve a lot of fitness goals.
Equipment can offer variety, though, as well as some ways to advance certain exercises. It can also help reach muscles in different ways, or some of the muscles it is more challenges to sculpt with bodyweight work alone. Equipment can be both beneficial and detrimental to form, so it is always important to ensure you take the time to learn how to use a tool.
Enjoy this article (my shout-out is at #21 & 22), and tell me @be.bykate what your at-home set-up looks like: a mat? weights? a whole gym? six feet of carpet that doubles as a child's play space? Let me know!
As a trainer, people generally assume I have lengthy gym workouts and strength sessions, when in actuality, the majority of my movement comes from walking.
Walking provides such benefits for not only the physical body, but the mind and spirit as well.
Walking gives us an opportunity to let our thoughts simply be, and I know I find some of my most creative ideas when walking. I will often pull out my phone and create a voice message so as to not forget these ideas once I get back inside! It allows us to step away from the computer, the task, the challenge, the argument...and allows us to process.
When walking outside, we are in nature (yes, even here in NYC). Nature's benefits to us are many.
University of Minnesota's research states:
"Being in nature, or even viewing scenes of nature, reduces anger, fear, and stress and increases pleasant feelings. Exposure to nature not only makes you feel better emotionally, it contributes to your physical wellbeing, reducing blood pressure, heart rate, muscle tension, and the production of stress hormones." (link here.)
Physically, walking is an excellent low impact workout. Oh how I feel the need to correct anyone who states, 'I ONLY walked today.' You walked today! That is wonderful! Keep that up! We do not need our workouts to be the most intense exercise we can come up with. But we do need to find ways to move our bodies every single day. Walking is a wonderful way to achieve this.
When looking to increase the intensity and the calorie burn when walking, some ways to do this include:
-Varying your speed
-Changing your incline
-Adding in some stairs
Speeding up your walk for one minute at a challenging pace, then slowing down for 30 seconds is an excellent way to increase the calorie burn of a walk. Additionally, by changing your incline, your body has to work harder to maintain the same speed, so the effort and therefore calorie burn increases as well. Try adding walking up hills or finding stairs along your route (safely!).
Walking also makes for a fantastic friend date! Chat it up and get moving. The physical and mental benefits again combing. Your friend will thank you, too ;)
So go ahead, get outside for a few minutes. If it's pouring, walk around the house. Move!
âI shared something on Instagram today I wanted to be sure to share here as well--
You know when you are at the top of the day? I mean âtopâ as in pinnacle, you got there, you are flying high, things are going your way. Then out of nowhere, the clouds open up, rain is falling, and you are sliding down the other side of the mountain.
Whether it is something as simple as being on time for an appointment then suddenly being behind a tractor on a one-lane road en route, or if it is major...I'm not even going to go into the potential examples, I'm sure just thinking about them brings up enough anxiety!
But what is so needed to remember in those times, the ârainingâ times, is that the sun will indeed be back out.
Sometimes we can push through the rain-- itâs just a little bit, itâs not too strong, and we can keep pushing until the sun arrives. Other times we need to find somewhere to wait a bit, observe but get out of the downfall...take a dose of self care rather than pushing and just getting soaked so to speak... then as it gets lighter or clears completely, we continue on.
Whatâs that song Alexa seems to get onto every playlist recently? âSunshine after the rainâ¦â
Or as my fav gal Annie says, âThe sunâll come out tomorrow.â
These songs never say, âwell hereâs the rain, it is here to stay, it is never leaving, the end.â
And they are onto something, arenât they?
Even when the rail is full-out hurricane, eventually, somehow some way, the sun will shine again. It may not be bright blue skies all day everyday, but it will be there peeking through somewhereâ¦
Hereâs to finding the sun behind the clouds,
Wanted to write to you tonight after a day that...just didn’t feel super. Was it good? Definitely. The sun was shining, the weather was in the 60s, I was able to check items off the to-do list, etc. I am healthy and safe. But there were also elements overshadowing the good and trying to take the day in a downward spiral. Nothing life-altering, I just mean that kind of day where you wake up extra tired, you feel scattered, I ate poorly and constantly snacked, didn’t get the planned workout in, procrastinated… Ever have a day like that?
But I am not writing to highlight this so much as to mention what I showed the world: If you are reading this right away, check my Instagram story. Daffodils, my smiling face (well smiling eyes and a mask), and a budding tree along the Hudson River.
The excess snacking? No photos of food. The tired eyes? Nope. Social media is curated. Sure, some people like to show all sorts of aspects of their lives. We are all different people, and we all have varying thoughts on what to share. Some don’t share anything at all! Each individual gets to create his/her own public/friend-facing world.
But it is hard to remember sometimes that that photo you see of the family in a ‘perfect’ setting with a ‘perfect’ pose is a moment that has been planned and directed. The flawless makeup-ed woman overlooking the beach isn’t telling you about the hours it took to make that look, nor what she sacrificed to get to that moment. The announcement of a friend’s huge business deal didn't just happen overnight, but what months or years of sweat and tears are we not seeing?
It is important for our mental health to remember that social media is a way to share our lives, but it is thought out, filtered, captioned, planned, you can continue the list however you’d like. It is too easy to fall into the “her life looks so much better” trap, isn’t it?
Just a reminder. We can all use those sometimes, right? Not a single human on this earth is perfect, or anywhere near. Technology is a blessing in many ways but also a detriment. The more we use those critical thinking skills we learned back in high school (well, at least the Phillipsburg High School English department loved to emphasize these skills that I did not realize would become such a part of my life…anyone else?), the more we are prepared for the deluge of content facing us everyday.
One more tie-in to today: Since finding myself getting in my head with things this evening, I made the choice for the rest of the night to feel better than the earlier part of the day. We have a choice, and mindset is a powerful tool. I took a way-too-hot shower, did a face mask, put on my cutest and coziest pj pants, lit the lavender candle, and am writing to you :) Simple things-- but aren’t those the ones that make such a difference day-to-day?
So if anyone is finding your day spiraling, I hope that you take a moment and see what the rest of the day could look like. Some changes are much easier than others, and some situations are indeed out of our control. But when you can change the outlook, do. It doesn’t have to be major. Cheers to candles and cozy pants with big band jazz playing along…
As most of you reading this know, I love quotes and love sharing them. But I realized it's been a while since I've done a post here devoted to the fabulous images I have found over time and saved... What good are they doing sitting in a file on my computer? Let us let the #goodvibes out!
Disclaimer, these are not my works, but they certainly deserve to be shared!
Which is your favorite? Share on insta and tag @be.bykate for a shout-out ;)
Read, breathe, be inspired:
You never know the path a meeting will take...
Years and years ago, I was in a crowded audition room with a girl who had just moved to NYC. We started talking and saw each other at various auditions over the years.
Skip to 2020, and she has started a podcast with a fabulous newsletter attached called The Luxury of Self Care. She has been delivering inspirational and practical episodes, with wonderful reminders and tricks to add self care into our every day-- because we can't take care of others until we take care of ourselves.
When Ahnastasia asked me to be a guest, I of course said yes without hesitation. We had a great chat about how to take steps to become a healthier you in mind and body, and, as I harp on over and over, how EVERY BIT COUNTS!
Hope you enjoy this episode while taking a walk around the block or taking some deep breaths with a cup of herbal tea in-hand...
Yesterday I was interviewed for a podcast.
It was a great experience, and I was honored to be asked. We talked a lot about small, daily changes we all can make to work toward and healthier, happier life. But something in there got me thinking… Well, I suppose I’ve thought about this quite a bit lately, but hearing it spoken out loud by my interviewer brought it to the front of my mind. She mentioned people wanting to look past 2020, to forget it, to not think about it as we move into 2021. She’s right-- I’ve heard these mumblings often lately.
I just don’t think this is the right way to go about it, however.
“What does not kill us makes us stronger”
“Learn from your past”
“Experience is the teacher of all things."
I mean, people have been saying it for centuries-- ‘good’ or ‘bad’, every experience is that, an experience. And while they all are not pleasant ones, there are often takeaways to bring with us. 2020 has been terrible in a lot of ways. Lives lost, jobs lost, incomes lost, our world as social beings pulled apart, missed occasions and celebrations, the list goes on. None of this is to be diminished in its importance and severity, not at all. I just want to be sure we look back at how we have grown and what *light* has shown, as well.
This is one of those times I like to pull out a pen and paper. Go ahead, the blog post will be here when you get back.
Got it? Okay, so now write any and all positives you can think of that have occurred since March.
Need some ideas? Well here is my partial list:
-QTWJT aka quality time with Jeff Tente
-Gratitude in being able to see my parents when so many I know couldn’t
-Cleaning and organizing parents’ basement
-Walks because I wanted to walk, not because I was running to 10 commitments per day
-Technology allowing me to teach and train virtually, film projects, and take classes
-Helping some local restaurants getting take-out
-Saving money not having events to attend
-Time to write for myself
-Time to read
-Reading the news every morning (that’s never happened before)
-Researching so much into the entertainment industry
-Calls that hadn’t happened in prior years with my college friends scattered about the country
-More opportunities thanks to lessened schedules to visit some friends I’d not gotten the chance to spend as much time with over the years. Backyard or rooftop distanced meet-ups.
-Connecting with people through teaching Pilates online
-Becoming a better runner with gyms closed
-Having the time to stretch and foam roll and take care of my body better
-Getting to really enjoy the Christmas decor since I’m in the apartment all the time (lol)
Have any *bright spots* you’d like to share? Comment below.
And my challenge to you this week is to be a reminder to others of the good in the year...share a virtual smile, send a card, share a story of hope… <3
"The word gratitude is derived from the Latin word gratia, which means grace, graciousness, or gratefulness (depending on the context). In some ways gratitude encompasses all of these meanings. Gratitude is a thankful appreciation for what an individual receives, whether tangible or intangible. With gratitude, people acknowledge the goodness in their lives. In the process, people usually recognize that the source of that goodness lies at least partially outside themselves. As a result, gratitude also helps people connect to something larger than themselves as individuals — whether to other people, nature, or a higher power." -Harvard Health
"Grateful people are much more likely to report physical and mental vigor (Happier Human, 2018)."
Yep, there are studies done about gratitude. Quite a lot, it turns out.
The one above, from PositivePsychology.com, seems fairly obvious upon reading, but how often do we actually think about the benefits of simply being thankful? And if you do think about this often, then kudos to you! And if not, kudos to you for reading this and being tuned into the benefits!
I love the title of this study from Berkeley: "How Gratitude Changes You and Your Brain". This study took nearly 300 people who were about to begin counseling, the majority of whom were going for issues relating to anxiety and depression. Randomly dividing into three groups, one just went to counseling, one was told to write in detail about their negative experiences, and the third was assigned to write letters of gratitude to another person each week.
"What did we find? Compared with the participants who wrote about negative experiences or only received counseling, those who wrote gratitude letters reported significantly better mental health four weeks and 12 weeks after their writing exercise ended. This suggests that gratitude writing can be beneficial not just for healthy, well-adjusted individuals, but also for those who struggle with mental health concerns. "
When I write down a list of what I am thankful for, how can I not feel brighter and more content after? In addition, when I randomly write someone a letter, I am filled with happy feelings. Have you experienced this? Or receiving mail from a friend, which fills me with happy gratitude, too. Or complimenting a stranger-- suddenly I have a smile on my face and feel a lightness as I walk away.
Two recurring themes to note: One is that a practice of gratitude takes time to reap all the positive effects, and that it does indeed leave a lasting positive effect on the brain.
So how are you practicing gratitude today, this week, this month? I'm sure you have many ways you can think of yourself, but here are some ideas if your brain needs some storming:
-write a thank you note to a friend
-look in the eyes of the cashier and say a warm thank you
-order from a small business on etsy and express your thanks in the 'note to seller' box
-write down a list of 'what I am grateful for'
-make a Joy Jar, writing down things that make you happy on slips of paper, put them into the jar, & pull one out when you need a smile
-hug a person in your household & thank that person for being there through this crazy time
-email an old professor or teacher to say something made you think of him or her, with a thank you for what you have learned
-find a gratitude phrase, write it out, place it next to your bed so as to start your day with gratitude
-follow my copy of Oprah & mentally say 'thank you' as soon as you open your eyes in the morning
I'm thankful for you reading this and spreading the love!
Start the day with a success.
If I get a run in in the morning, then my worries about the rest of the day go down such a great deal.
It is like my brain says, “We just did this big accomplishment! Whatever else we get done are cherries on top.” And you know what? So much MORE gets done!
Physical and psychological reasons here, if you want to break it down. Physically, moving is getting the muscles warmed up, blood pumping through my body, giving my brain extra help in ‘waking up’ so to speak. Endorphins are increasing, aka the happy hormone, making me feel good all around. Being outdoors is therapeutic, both physically, vitamin D, and psychologically, nature is known to reduce stress.
Imagine a different scenario….Wake up, still in pajamas, groggily open the emails and see one hundred problems that need solving and where do I start?? Start the day with a success, and it will set you on the right path for the rest of the day. Bonus if that success involves getting your brain and body WOKEN UP.
Additionally, by beginning your day with a task that involves more effort than just sitting on your couch or diving right into work, you are sending a multitude of positive signals to your brain. You are saying, YES WE CAN. We accomplished this, now we’re ready for what’s next. And a physically involved task is getting that body warm and woken up, as well as the brain.
If you ‘google’ this topic, there are thousands of results touting the benefits.
What are some similar accomplishments for you?
Taking a walk? A yoga class? Writing outside (no screen, pen & paper!)? Ten minutes of dancing around to your favorite songs?
Something beneficial for your brain and body, that ‘gets things going’ for the day.
Here’s to tomorrow!
Yesterday, I took Jeff's CitiBike key and set off on an adventure around Manhattan.
Have I been going a bit stir crazy (is that the way to describe it?) here in Midtown? Yes. I have to admit it. So grateful for everything we have, but it''s okay to still admit a bit of an antsy feeling after remaining in an apartment or within a ten block walk radius for so long :)
I was on a mission yesterday to get to the Union Square Greenmarket, and find some goodies...namely flowers....while supporting small, local businesses instead of a big grocery store chain.
Me + bike + Manhattan streets = NO, so I decided to go along the perimeter of the city, on the bike path, down the west side, around the tip, and up the east side, only biking on a few streets as I moved across East Something-or-other Street to get a bit closer to the market before docking.
Well it almost worked.
I got off the bike path a bit too early and ended up having quite the tour of the Lower East Side. Streets I had never heard of, seeing a completely different part of the city, thankful for not much traffic as I tried to navigate the streets....
Eventually I got to Union Square!
And wow the market was hopping. I didn't expect so many vendors to be there during covid, but they were-- and doing a good job of enforcing distancing, signs for customers not to touch the items, and contactless pay. Good job!
I found some apple cider donuts for Jeff from a local NY farm, blueberries from Milford, NJ (minutes from my parents!), and a beautiful hand-picked bouquet of flowers from another NJ farm.
Always loved seeing people on those cute old-fashioned-looking bikes with flowers bursting out of the bike basket. I attempted to recreate....Maybe not as cute with a CitiBike, but a success nonetheless!
Why am I writing all of this to you today? To ask you a question:
What are you doing to bring a bit of sunshine into your life today?
For me, that rather 'small' change of pace and finding locally grown flowers brought me such JOY.
It doesn't have to be a 'big' change/purchase/adventure/etc. Something as simple as a bouquet of flowers made me smile, brightened my day, and continues to give me a dose of happy each time I look at it.
It's the little things.
What are some ways you find sunshine in your day?
Some Good News, Week 2
Saying there is a lot going on right now is an understatement. Whether seeing it first-hand or on the news, we know we need to make some major changes in our country. What are some words at the heart of what needs to happen?
Did I mention LOVE?
In sharing the below segment, I am not ignoring the issues happening. But with all the frustrations and anger, it is also good to give yourself moments to look to the happy things still happening around us.
So here's a five(ish) minute reminder of the good that can happen when we keep LOVE and the other above values at the heart of our actions.
Anyone else sad when John Krasinski told us there were to be no more episodes of Some Good News to look forward to this year?
John's SGN may be gone for now, but good news doesn't have to stop....so just wanted to continue to share positive news... Hope it brings a smile :)
"The best way out is always through." -Robert Frost
How many situations does Robert Frost's thought apply? I'll let you answer that on your own :)
Right now, it is glaringly real that COVID is here in full and we cannot escape it. It hit and continues to hit areas across the globe.
When I read the above quote, somehow I immediately take a big breath. Yes. That is the only way out of this. Why does that feel like a tiny dose of relief? We still have the same problems as before that breath. Still the same fear and confusion. I don't know, it just gives a bit of an answer, such a simple one at that, and only a tiny piece of a gigantic puzzle, but it says, hey look, you can't go back. You can't just sit still. You can't even go sideways. You have to see what is right in front of you and keep moving forward. Life does not stop for us. We may be confined to home, but we are still moving forward. We can't run from the issues. They will find us wherever we run. We have to go through them to get them behind us.
And behind us they WILL get.
We are surrounded by COVID cases, unknown information, false information.... We can do our absolute best to protect ourselves from it, but we can't fully hide, because the virus could find us anywhere. But we will get past this. And the only way out is through.
So we buckle down, focus as best we can each day to be grateful for what we have, to take care of ourselves and family, and to be aware of what needs to get done to continue to put one foot in front of the other.
If you are an essential worker, then the extent of that to-do list outside of work may be to shower, eat, and get a bit of exercise or a nap. That is enough. You are getting through. Perhaps you are unemployed and have goals you are working toward, and you are taking one step at a time in the right direction to get to them. Awesome. Keep moving forward. Step by little-or-big step. You are getting through: both through this time in our lives, and through the challenges to reach your goals. Perhaps you are taking care of a child 24/7, but you are remembering to breathe, drink water, eat, care for yourself even just a little bit. Great. You are getting through: both through this time in our lives, and through raising a child. The list goes on! Do what you need to do each day- tears may ensue, screaming may happen, meltdowns may occur. It's okay. What IS this insane time we are all experiencing right now??
But, we are waking up each day, taking stock of the good things in our lives, and seeing how we can take those steps in the right direction each day. Getting through.
You're doing great. Take a deep breath, and here's to finding some bright spots in today,
Like having a weekly goal to focus on to help in moving forward?