5 Empowering Books By Women I Can’t Freaking Wait To Read In The New Year (Plus Two That Haven’t Even Dropped Yet!)

5 Empowering Books By Women I Can’t Freaking Wait To Read In The New Year (Plus Two That Haven’t Even Dropped Yet!)

Community Tips + Tools WANT Women Work

Last year, I did something I’ve wanted to do since I was in elementary school: I joined a book club.

 

Okay, the book club consisted of two people. One of them being me. The other being my husband.

But still. We met. We read (Gloria Steinam’s My Life On The Road, fyi). We discussed.

It was a freaking book club, okay??

 (was it really, though…)

Whether it’s multi-colored lists posted on Instagram Stories or conversations IRL, one of the most popular, most reoccurring resolutions I tend to see within my community is something so simple it feels almost silly:

Read. More. Books.

Unlike goals attached to career, success, physicality, or relationships, reading more book is one of the most non-labor-intensive goals you can achieve. All you need is basic elementary school level comprehension skills, and you’re good to go. You don’t need to invest tons of money, you don’t need help from anyone or anyTHING else – heck, you don’t even need to do anything besides literally turning a PAGE to see signs of success!

So why don’t we do it? Why, if reaching goals is so gratifying, don’t we pick up the damn book and turn the page?

Some hypotheses (and solutions) I’ve drawn:

PROBLEM: Carrying around a book. When I lived in Los Angeles, this was no excuse for not reading more books. I had a portable storage device – aka a car. I was able to lock my latest page-turner in the glove compartment, stash it under my seat, or throw it in my trunk for later. But now that I’m in NYC and walk, cab, or take the subway everywhere, my backpack space is precious. Plus, like almost everyone else…I’m a little too tethered to my phone.

SOLUTION: Read on your phone or device. If you’re short on space or don’t want to literally add to your load, “reading more” is as easy as hitting Download. I know, I know, it’s not a physical BOOK – but your goal is to read more books, not possess more books, right? I LOVE physical books – underlining, dogearing, and making sweet notes from my husband or long-ass to-do lists my makeshift bookmarks. But I also know that sometimes it’s more important to focus on the goal and not get so hung up on the ins and outs of how we get there.

PROBLEM: Reading without a goal in mind. Sometimes we think more about WHAT we’re going to read instead of WHY we’re going to read. But reading just to read is like watching a movie just to watch a movie: eventually, you’ll just zone out.

SOLUTION: Get clear on what you want your takeaways or experience to be. Do you like to learn, escape, think, discuss…or a combo of these things? We all read for different reasons. Think of the books you love most. How are they structured? How do they “sound?” Why did you love them so much? Choosing a genre isn’t enough: go one step further and look into things like the voice used (is it in first or third person? narrative or ___?) and how the book is structured.

PROBLEM: Finishing the damn thing. (there’s a that’s what she said joke somewhere in here.) Whenever I put down We get hung up on completing the task instead of taking the journey.

SOLUTION: Cut yourself some slack. What are you most likely to finish? Are you even concerned with finishing? Does “reading a book” = “finishing a book” to you? If so, cool – but then you need to choose books you’re likely to finish. Look at how the book is structured. Is it super short? Broken up into bite-sized bits or spread out over an arc? Do you prefer shorter reads, or do you like a long, winding story? Do some research, ask your local bookstore employees (they work there because they love books, after all!), and choose a read that’s not only a genre or topic you’re interested in, but a style and structure that resonates.

And…this might be a controversial stance…but if you get honest and you’re not really that tied to finishing a book, don’t let that stop you from picking it up altogether. I personally am VERY tied to finishing novels and memoirs, books I read to escape or empathize – but not research-driven or self-improvement-style books I’m reading to learn something from. That doesn’t mean I like them any less, I’ve just gotten what I need at the time and can come back later. No shame in that game!

If you’re like me and looking to up your literary game this year, grab a friend, sibling, or significant other and start your own two-person book club. Need some suggestions? Here are five books written by women I freaking can’t wait to read this year – plus two that haven’t even come out yet! – that you might like, too:

Braving The Wilderness by Brené BrownHigh priestess Brené is at it again. This time, she’s talking about what it means to truly belong – in our communities, in our organizations, in our culture – in an age of increased polarization. Brené’s style is thoughtful and witty – personal where it needs to be and academic where it needs to be. I just love her and cannot wait to dive into this one. GET IT HERE

The Power Of Meaning by Emily Esfahani SmithI first found Emily Esfahani Smith’s work last summer in Quartz. After going down the rabbit hole that is Google, I loved how most of her writing centered around the notions of success, fame, and true fulfillment. She draws on historic and literary examples as well as extensive research to answer her One Big Question: if a happy life is a meaningful life, then how do we create meaning? I’ve already started The Power Of Meaning and I’m in love. GET IT HERE

200 Women Who Will Change The Way You See The World by Geoff Blackwell + Ruth Hobday, Photography by Kieran Scott
This stunning book is half coffee table piece de resistance, half interview series. Coupled with gorgeous photography, this book features some of the most inspiring interviews from some of the most game-changing women in all fields. GET IT HERE

Extreme YOU by Sarah Robb O’Hagen
Sarah Robb O’Hagan has seen it all. From climbing the corporate ladder at places like Virgina Atlantic and Nike to becoming the CEO of Flywheel and formerly Equinox (yep, where I teach classes), she’s seen it all. Although we never got to meet in person while she was with Equinox (hi, Sarah!), I always heard wonderful things about this Wonder Woman…which is why I was THRILLED when I learned she was releasing a book sharing her badassery with us all. In Extreme YOU, Sarah dives in and digs deep on what it means to be an “Extremer” by developing ALL parts of yourself – quirks included – to hone your potential and lead a life of greatness. GET IT HERE

It’s Messy: On Boys, Boobs, and Badass Women by Amanda de Cadenet
Amanda de Cadenet was one of my main role models in my twenties when The Conversation launched, and continues to be a HUGE source of motivation and empowerment for me now (I even got to speak on a panel she led back in 2015 at SXSW). I’ve always admired her ability to connect with others, to ask the kinds of questions that exist between the lines, and to tap into the down-to-earth, beautifully flawed humanity of everyone she interviews. In It’s Messy, she’s shining that same kind of light onto herself, proving that our experiences as women are way more universal than separate. GET IT HERE

 

Feeling overachiever-y? Put these two on your reading list for later in the year when they launch:

Give A Sh*t: Do Good. Live Better. Save The Planet by Ashlee Piper
Ashlee has been featured on WANT multiple! times! and is a bona-fide badass in the eco-friendly space. You’d be cray not to sign up for pre-order.

On Being Human by Jennifer Pastiloff
Jen has been a dear friend of mine for years now and is one of my absolute favorite writers. SO excited to see this beautiful piece of work she’s been manifesting come into existence. You can bet I’ll be sharing more about this when it’s share-able – for now, keep your eyes peeled.


WANT Yourself:
What books are you looking foeard to reading this year? I’m always looking for new, exciting, fascinating books to add to my shelf (or my newly downloaded reading app)…tell me what you’re loving! Also, can I join your book club?

Never miss a post. Ever. Sign up + join the WANT movement:

Shift Your Self-Talk: Defining Your Through Line.

Shift Your Self-Talk: Defining Your Through Line.

Body Community Love Most Popular Posts Tips + Tools Work

What is the common theme in everything you love? What is the common goal in everything you do?

Those, my friends, are the building blocks of your THROUGH LINE.

 

We’re all equipped with a through line; something we’re wonderful at and are meant  to give to the world. And while some people might suggest mantras or affirmations, it’s my firm belief that you can’t shift your self-talk without finding your through line first.


Negative self-talk might sometimes seem like it pops up out of nowhere, but when you boil it down to basics, it’s simply filler for uncertainty in purpose and imbalances in your mind, body and soul. 
With confidence in your purpose or through line, there’s less of the negative talk that we use to sabotage ourselves.

We cannot succeed if we do not love what we DO – or if what we do does not fit into the big picture. Once we find our through line and shift our actions to deliver that through line, long-term success is inevitable.

Notice the little things that fulfill you. Not necessarily the tasks themselves, but the meaning behind those tasks. Not so much the superficial What, but the hidden Why.

Notice the little things that fulfill you. Not the superficial WHAT, but the hidden WHY. Click To Tweet

You might have one through line or a couple. Here are two (and-a-half steps) to help you find yours:

STEP 1: MAKE A LIST OF EVERYTHING YOU LOVE TO DO OR EXPERIENCE. I MEAN EVERYTHING. The things that you seem to get absorbed by and fill you up from the inside out. Don’t worry about cohesiveness, list as many actions, experiences, and instances as you can think of. Cooking dinner, one-on-one time with friends, business strategy, binging on horror movies – it’s all fair game.

STEP 2: CAN YOU FIND A COMMON THEME IN THE MAJORITY OF YOUR ANSWERS? Try to find a mode and an output. Maybe not all the things you listed out fit together, but I’ll bet good money on the fact that a lot of them DO. Look beyond the obvious – the fact that you love to bake and you love to have spontaneous dance parties might seem unrelated, but when you dig deeper you might realize what you actually love is the act of creating something that brightens up someone else’s day. You love to bake – but when you’re sharing your treats with friends. You love to have spontaneous dance parties because it makes your husband or boyfriend or kid or dog even fill up with joy and laughter. There’s where your talents lie. That is your through line.

Here’s the optional half-step, if you’re feeling curious: just for kicks, make another list of everything you excel at. No need to hold back here – remember, confidence is not synonymous with narcissism or vanity.

Now highlight the things that you can recognize your through line in.

Does this list seem familiar? It should. Many of the things we love to do are the things we have a natural knack for.

Pretty cool, huh? These places are where you shine the brightest.

~

Need an example? Here’s what the first two steps of my exercise looks like:

Step 1: I love writing, interviewing others, singing, people watching, unfiltered and authentic conversations, listening to podcasts, music, running, teaching fitness classes, taking fitness classes, pretty much exercise of all kinds, yoga classes, acting, photography, singing and dancing at concerts, laughing out loud at movies, spending time with my family and soul-friends, reading non-fiction books or books written in the first person, public speaking, taking small chances, painting, drawing, playing board games that may or may not bring out my inner competitive Monica Gellar (where you at, Settlers of Catan).

Step 2: In most all of the things I love, I can see that my through line is using my unique voice to its fullest to help others find theirs.

But wait…how does this connect to playing Settlers of Catan or singing and dancing during Beyoncé’s Formation tour???

It goes back to my yoga practice, actually. I realized a long time ago that we learn best not from textbooks or bulletpointed protocols, but from each other. I used to practice amongst handstand junkies and power posers, and noticed that the people around them would get frustrated when they couldn’t get upside down. So I did an experiment: what would happen if I took Child’s Pose, a “resting” pose, in the classes where people were doing handstands, and I tried the more physically challenging poses even if I fell flat on my face in the classes where people shied away from things if they didn’t look perfect?

Lo and behold, people started taking Child’s Pose instead of forcing themselves into handstands, and playfully experimenting when the teacher offered up a variation on the familiar. Because I gave myself permission to publicly do what worked for ME, others started to give themselves permission to do the same. 

I see my “voice” not only in talking or singing to teaching, but in writing, drawing – movement even. I get bored or frustrated when I am required to do things exactly like someone else. I love listening to podcasts and reading non-fiction or books written in the first person because they spark a discussion inside my head; I can almost hear my voice chiming in with the author or speaker. I love taking those discussions out into the “real world” and making my community like my very own unofficial book club or listening group. Learning new information isn’t enough for me: I get high off of learning it, translating it, and discussing it in a broader yet at the same time more personal context. If I look closely, everything I love has my through line of “using my unique voice to its fullest to help others do the same” running through it. I stand for love – of others and yourself.

Whenever I feel discontent or useless or squashed down and dull, I ask myself…”Katie, are you using your unique voice right now and is it resonating with the best parts of others?” If the answer is no, even if I can’t fully escape the scenario that’s bringing me down, I divert my attention and place myself in a scenario in which I CAN use my though line to its fullest potential, however big or small that might look from the outside.

~

It’s easy to talk negatively about ourselves when we’re in those bang-your-head-against-the-wall scenarios. And we’ve all got to deal with those throughout our lives no matter what. Sometimes, things just don’t gel. But now that you know your through line, you can invest your time a bit more wisely. Go back and look at your list, see if you can identify a nuance of your through line, or a whole other through line altogether, that exists in your current situation…and try again. Trial and error is part of the deal. It’s all about changing up the approach. 

I’m not saying that once you figure out how or where you shine the brightest, you’ll always be shiny and sparkly. Life would be boring and useless without mistakes and missteps and those moments we feel the lowest of our lows. But if you’re strategically placing yourself in scenarios in which you can use your through line – whether it be with a new group of friends, a new relationship, a new job or simply a potential hobby you’re taking up – you’ll also feel those highest highs a whole lot higher. Your life will feel a whole lot more cohesive, and you’ll feel your purpose from the inside out.


WANT Yourself Action Plan:

In the comments section below, tell me what your through line is. How do you use it on a regular basis? Did you have an aha! moment that helped you realize what you were meant to give to the world?

Be as specific as possible – this is not an easy exercise, and your insight and experience might be exactly what someone else needs to read to realize the power they have within themselves.

WANT is a testament to the power of our pragmatically positive voice as a community and the impact we can have if we band together. Go for it, WANT peeps…


Never miss a post. Ever. Sign up + join the WANT movement:


a different version of this post originally appeared back in 2015 on WANT. see it here 

Twelve Goals, One Year: How To Conquer One ‘Resolution’ A Month in 2018

Twelve Goals, One Year: How To Conquer One ‘Resolution’ A Month in 2018

Body Community Love Most Popular Posts Tips + Tools Work

We’re all set with the best of intentions come January, etching lofty goals into our journals to carry with us into spring, summer, fall, and winter. But let’s be honest with ourselves for a sec: the end of Resolution Season finds us loosening our wallets, dipping into the cookie jar, forgetting to say “thank you,” and foregoing the gym for just one more rerun of Friends on the couch. The idea of what our lives “should” look like and how our goals “should” play out gets us all tied up in knots we scramble to untangle come January 1st of the next New Year.

To avoid those tangles and kick 2018 off on the right foot, why not rethink the way we make our resolutions? All month long I’ll be diving in and digging deep on strategies to set your year ablaze – because no one success strategy works for everyone.

 

I once read that when adopting a newer, healthier lifestyle (whether that means losing extra inches, lowering inflammation in your body, gaining muscle, or raising your body weight to a level at which it can function with energy and ease), it takes something like four weeks for you to feel a difference, eight for your friends to take notice…and twelve for acquaintance and strangers to start asking questions.

Okay, so maybe I read it on the ever-prestigious scientific journal that is Pinterest…but I love the picture it paints of slow and steady change, moment by moment. Sure, you can have an end result in mind. But most of the time, when we’re so tightly tied to one specific end result, we miss out on all the other great things that happen along the way.

This year, try adopting one new habit per month and just see where it takes you. If the Pinterest scientists are correct, you’ll start to feel a shift about a month into your journey. If it’s working for you, great! If it’s not, let it go – no guilt.

Your goals might seem simple or minute – how can making your bed every morning really contribute to the quality of your life?! – but each singular goal reached will inform the definition of what it means to live well for you, to be your best self twelve months out of the year.

Another bonus? Just one habit per month prevents you from getting too overwhelmed with tasks and to-dos – and helps you pay attention to what’s really going on as a result of the change you’ve vowed to make. I can sometimes (read: all the times) get overly excited about the idea of making big shifts all at once. It’s exciting. And distracting. One per month (or one habit + one tangible to-do item if you’re feeling ambitious) helps me focus my energy on that single thing instead of spreading myself thin in 12 different areas of my life.

~

Get out your notebooks, clear off your chalkboard, and start to outline one goal, big or small, for each month. Here are some suggestions to get you started:

12 GOALS, 1 YEAR: HOW TO CONQUER ONE NEW YEARS RESOLUTION A MONTH

JANUARY: WAKE UP (GO TO SLEEP) ONE HOUR EARLIER
Instead of making a goal to exercise five times a week or fit in breakfast, start from the ground up – literally. Waking up early, studies have shown, can super-charge your entire day and actually allow you the time to make healthy living seem more accessible. I get it, we all have the same 24 hours in the day, blah blah…but sometimes, even a smidge extra time can make a huge difference. What might seem like sixty measly extra minutes allows time for exercise, hobbies, meditation, strategic thinking, or just easing into your day at your own pace (sounds nice, huh?). Already wake up early? Try hitting the sack one hour earlier. Start with 15 minutes earlier during week one, increase to 30 during week two, 45 during week three – and by the end of the month, you’ll be logging an extra hour.

READ: Is Sleep More Important Than Nutrition, Exercise, and Mindfulness? by Lindsay Kellner, mbg

FEBRUARY: SHOW YOUR LOVE ONCE A DAY.
Whether it’s telling your significant other how much he or she means to you or simply asking the bank teller how their day is going, there are a zillion ways to express love. Pick up a piece of trash off the sidewalk. Let the car next to you into your lane in crowded traffic. Call your grandma. These gestures, both big and small, not only help others feel good or make the world be a nicer place to live – they contribute to your own self-confidence and sense of abundant love.

READ: Love And The Whole Spectrum

MARCH: MAKE YOUR BED EVERY MORNING
Spring cleaning season is here! Before you overhaul your closet or clean out that dresser drawer, set the stage for a tidy space from the second you get up. Making your bed every morning only takes a few extra minutes, but can set the stage for an orderly room, home, and mindset.

READ: A Non-Exhaustive List Of Things To Do When Life Seems Hard

APRIL: PACK YOUR LUNCH
Taxes on your mind? Do double resolution duty this month by making healthier choices and making a dent in your savings. Even if you only pack a lunch two times a week, you’re still saving in the long run – plus, you’re connecting with what goes into your body and where it comes from.

READ: Let’s Talk About Cents, Baby

MAY: DRINK YOUR GREENS FOR BREAKFAST
April showers bring May flowers…and greens! Whether you opt for smoothies or juice, getting in a good dose of greens first thing in the morning sets you up for a healthy day ahead. Even if you mindlessly or emotionally nosh later in the day or “accidentally” skip your afternoon spin class (been there, done that), the beauty of going green first thing in the A.M. is that you know you’ve given yourself a hefty dose of vitamins and nutrients no matter what the day has in store.

LISTEN: My New Roots’ Sarah Britton on the WANTcast

JUNE: TRAIN (AND SIGN UP!) FOR A RACE…
Most cities hold at least one 5K, 10K, half-marathon, or “fun run” throughout the summer months, which means June is the perfect time to start training! Warm (but not sweltering) temps allow for exercise outdoors if you’re into it – otherwise start your running routine at your local gym. Slowly increase your distance or speed goals with each workout, and alternate between long, moderate-paced running days and short, quick sprinting days. Not into organized races or the early wake-up call that goes with them? Set a date to run your own personal race: determine the day, time, location, and distance, then plan a fun reward for yourself after. Get a friend in on the action for extra motivation!

READ: 5 Ways To Motivate Yourself To Exercise, No Matter How You Feel

JULY: MAKE A NEW FRIEND
Summer months are all about playfulness and make us think of long days at summer camp and hobbies. As adults, we don’t have things like school and clubs to connect us or parents to schedule play dates. Community, however, is often the missing link when it comes to our day to day fulfillment – and it’s up to us to find the places . Whether it’s a yoga class or the comments section of a blog, make it a goal to frequent a place or space that you feel allows you to be completely yourself. You’ll find that just like in romantic relationships, the right people will seem to fall into your life when you’re simply busy with the interests you love – when you’re busy being you.

READ: Making Friends As An Adult

AUGUST: TRY ONE NEW FRUIT OR VEGETABLE A WEEK
Green cauliflower? Okra? Gooseberries? There’s a slew of seasonal produce available, year-round…yet most of us only skim the surface when it comes to variety. Visit your local farmer’s market, check out the selection, and find one fruit or vegetable you’ve never tried. Whether you choose to cook an elaborate dish or go raw, you’ll expand your palate, net more nutrients, and have at least a few new healthy options come August 31st. Check out One Part Plant for all the planty resources you’ll ever need.

LISTEN: Jessica Murnane of One Part Plant and Know Your Endo on the WANTcast

SEPTEMBER: FIND THE YOGA CLASS THAT’S RIGHT FOR YOU
September is National Yoga Month, so use this time to get flowing. Ask around or call your local studios/gyms to help pick a practice that’s right for you (my friend Megan wrote an awesome guide here), and pop into a class nearby (many studios offer deals or specials during this month). Sure, this is an exercise-related goal and your overall fitness will probably improve – but more than anything, you’ll be building community, soothing stress, and giving yourself a fresh new perspective on the year. Yoga’s awesome like that.

READ: My Advanced Practice

OCTOBER: FACE YOUR FEARS ONCE EACH WEEK
October is about all things scary – but we’re not really into the whole haunted house, “trick or treat” thing. Take this spooky month in a new direction by vowing to conquer one (or a few!) of your fears at least once a week. The fears could be ones that affect your every-day life or are seemingly trivial. Terrified of public speaking? Add your voice to the mix in each of your weekly work meetings. Afraid of heights? Find a cool restaurant on a rooftop to visit. Whatever it is, commit to facing the fear once a week and watch your confidence skyrocket.

READ: How To Tackle Your Ghost Worries

NOVEMBER: CLEAN UP, GIVE BACK
Spring cleaning is a thing of the past – but what about Fall Freedom? Clearing your space of what does not serve you, you don’t like, or you’ve simply outgrown is like telling the universe you’ve made room and are game for whatever it has in store. Instead of trashing your old goods or stuffing your worn clothes into the nearest dumpster, find an organization near you that donates 100% of its goods to those in need (or Google a cause close to your heart that might need your help). You’ll be doing good and feeling great – and making someone else feel the same.

READ: How To Activate Your Inner Activist

DECEMBER: REFLECT, REVAMP, AND REFOCUS
What worked this year? What could be improved upon? Were there certain moments, people, events, or feelings that stuck with you? Create a conscious game plan for improvement and forward motion right now. No need to rush the process or make snap decisions. Use the entire month to take a look at your life as it is, right in that very second, and refocus your energy on making a positive shift towards the person you know you want to be. At the end of this year, make December 2018 your month of renewal instead of January 2019, so that once the confetti bursts at midnight, you’ll already have hit the ground running.

LISTEN: Thinking Out Loud: On Functioning Under F*ck-It, Micro vs Macro, Other People’s Trauma, Running Toward Real Life, and More


Never miss a post. Ever. Sign up + join the WANT movement:

It Moves With You: On Slowing Down + Shifting Gears

It Moves With You: On Slowing Down + Shifting Gears

Body Tips + Tools

All year, I’ve been running. Literally and metaphorically. Running into my career, running into my 30s, running into huge life changes, new habits, new routines, new purpose, standing my ground with people I love, and holding my own when it comes to my worth.

Running, running, running.

Not ever running away – running toward and running through – but nevertheless, running.

Last week, as I slipped on my shoes for yet another run that felt as if it might be lackluster, just like the runs I’ve been running for the last couple weeks, I realized – I do not want to run any more.

At least right now.

It’s pre-winter in NYC, which means that the weather’s pulling bi-polar stunts all over the place. One day it’s 65 and gorgeous, the next it’s in the 30s and so cold I can’t feel my hands crammed into my own pockets. I’m throw for a loop: I don’t know what to wear, my skin doesn’t know what’s going on, and my routine gets thrown completely out of whack without me even realizing what’s happening.

And my exercise regimen – one of my favorite forms of self-care – suddenly feels useless.

~

Seasonal shifts can do a number on you when you live in a culture that doesn’t honor (or even talk about!) the ways our bodies and minds subtly shift throughout the year.

According to the magazines and trends, we’re supposed to act, eat, and yes, exercise the same way January through December: with intensity, with drive, with an all-or-nothing mentality that promises slimmer thighs!, better sex!, and brighter moods! 365 days a year.

So when days like these seemingly lovely cool-and-crisp ones roll around and I can’t muster up that intensity and drive – I’ve gotta tell you, I feel like a real asshole.

the puzzle jeremy and i did (instead of exercising.)

Everything about this time of year is about slowing down, being thankful, and cozying up with the ones we love.

So why do we still think that high-impact, fast-paced, quick-fix workouts are the only way to go, when the rest of the season encourages slowing down and shifting gears?

I agree that a high-impact workout can be a great way to blow off steam. I understand that it can help de-puff after too many pie slices (been there, done that). But for someone like me, who is highly sensitive to the energetic shifts around her, adding stress to an already stressful time almost seems like fighting fire with fire.

I didn’t realize this until the other day, when slipping into my workout clothes I realized I had ZERO DESIRE to run. I usually love to run, and for the past year, it’s been my fitness form of choice. Running, and big group classes packed with familiar faces.

But lately, I’ve had zero desire for either. It’s crazily out of character. It’s unexpected. And it goes completely against my heath credo: I am a firm believer that there are way too many kinds of fitness formats for all kinds of personality types for a workout to ever feel “forced.”

And yet I realized that I’ve been trying to force myself through my routine for the sake of routine – hopping onto the treadmill and feeling no different afterwards, or going into my usual much-loved, jam-packed yoga class and getting major performance anxiety from the lack of space. Doing it not because it brought me joy or made me feel good in the now, but because it brought me joy and made me feel good at some other point in time.

We’re all dealing with a lot – year-round. The way we exercise should compliment what we’re missing, what we’re craving, and what we want to create in our lives each season of the year.

I realized that all year, I’ve been running toward the person I want to be and the world I want to create. Running toward, fighting for. Eleven-plus whole months of RUNNING.

It gave me solace, it gave me ideas, it gave me energy.

It gave me fight.

And after all that running, that soul-opening, spirit-gratifying running – my body doesn’t want to run right now.

It wants to ground down, plant roots, and reflect on the solid foundation that I’ve built and want to build from here on out.

My body is in its winter, and to my dismay, I realized I’ve been trying to fight that.

~

No matter your goals, you don’t need to prescribe to one certain type of exercise year-round in order to feel good in your body year-round. Even when it comes to cross-training and mixing your week up – sometimes the run-lift-yoga, or crossfit-pilates-spin, or whatever-you-usually-do combo isn’t the combo that’s going to be the best one in every moment.

For right now, for my body to be its best, I’m realizing I need to cross-train in a different way. I need to listen to how my body is changing with the seasons.

There is no one right way to exercise this season. Because the right way is the way that works for you, and for you alone.

watching ice skaters (instead of exercising.)

Need some help? Here are 3 fitness “tips” (I use the term loosely) to follow this month and beyond:

1.) Feed your cravings, not your addictions.

Ever notice how the more you do something extreme, the more your body wants the next hit? Stress is like that. And not just the kind of emotional stress we associate with bad stuff: the kind of physical stress that gets our heart rate up in the gym, feels thrilling, and/or works our body to its edge. It’s why going super-super fast on a spin bike is trendy, even though it’s not efficient or effective: it’s an easy hit for a stress junkie.

Similarly, if you’re feeling cabin fever, extremely “restorative’ or more steady-state exercises might not be the best for you right now. You might need a run, or a boxing class, or ViPR or something like that to get your blood pumping and shake things up if they’re feeling stagnant.

Net-net, you want to feed what your body is craving (in this case – actually wants), not what it’s addicted to (in this case – what it’s simply used to wanting).

2.) Enlist a friend…or not.

Maybe you’re not around family during this time of year, or you live in a new city. Working out solo can be hard, for an unexpected reason: it reinforces the feeling of being lonely-alone.

On the flipside, if you’ve got party after shindig after obligation after whatever on your schedule, you might need some alone time.

If you’re getting a little too much solo time this season, you might need to put yourself in a community-type scenario, whether that means calling up a friendly acquaintance for a gym date or popping into that team-vibey class.

On the other hand, if you’re stretched thin on the social front – don’t force yourself into a class if you don’t want to (even if it’s your normal routine), and don’t wait around for someone else to be ready for the gym (just because it’s how you always roll). This is how I’m feeling right now, and while I usually use the gym as a way to feel a sense of community, I’m currently feeling the urge to keep to myself, go solo, and use my workout time to do some introspection (my best epiphanies come when I move, after all).

Sure, this is sort of a no-brainer. But so many times, we get so caught up in the routine of things, we forget those “duh” nuggets of wisdom. It’s perfectly okay to do like Stevie Nicks and go your own way.
Do like Stevie Nicks and go your own way. Click To Tweet

3.) All hail the rest day(s)…but also, don’t blindly follow them.

There was a time in my life that I thought rest days were a sign of weakness, low willpower, and lost athleticism. Boy was I wrong. REST DAYS ARE AMAZING YOU GUYS!!!!!

But something interesting happened along the way to discovering this: I found that when I planned my rest days, they ended up being the days I wanted to exercise the most, even if I’d technically taken a “rest day” the day before. Basically, I became so tied to the idea of certain days “needing” to be rest days and certain days “needing” to be workout days that it became really hard to listen to what my body actually wanted in the moment.

What I found works for me is to “nothing” rest days. I take them when I take them. Sometimes once a week, sometimes twice or three times. But always, always when I’m feeling the need to rejuvenate.

Of course, if you’re killin’ it in the gym every single day, working through injuries, etc, it’s very important to break the addiction and de-vilify the Rest Day. Your physical health depends on it. But as a former listmaking addict – a person addicted to planning her weeks down to the minutes she’d be brushing her teeth (fact; I still have the notebooks filled with the lists) – I’ve found that planning out my rest days works against all the hard work I’ve done over the years to listen to my body and honor its needs. Granted, I did need to plan rest days along the way just to get used to them…but after that? I became able to enjoy rest days and “sweat” days equally.

the walk i took to work (instead of exercising.)

So how am I exercising right now if I’m not doing my normal run-lift-yoga combo? I’m doing the exercises that make me feel grounded.

I’m going into the spin room at the gym during non-class hours, plugging in my headphones, and doing a class all for myself. It’s low impact, which means my bones aren’t absorbing force that would come from, say, striking my foot down on the ground in a sprint. Each pedalstroke grounds me and reminds me that this is my body, and it’s the only one I’ve got (in this lifetime, at least, I don’t know what comes next!). Sometimes I’ll hop into the class of a teacher I know and trust, because with so much newness this year, my body isn’t in a phase of exploration and chance. It feels good to use the music to guide me or have the teacher tell me what to do, because all year long I’ve been making decisions that sort of scare me. I’m trading my box jumps and caterpillar crawls for machine-based exercises and mat classes.

And sometimes, I just roll out my mat, close my eyes, and BE.

Yes. THAT COUNTS.

I’m feeling a need to be nurtured and supported, held up while I do the work. What that looks like? I get to decide, over and over again, every single day.

I’m sure in the new year, or even in the new month, all this will change.

But that is the beauty of fitness, and what drew me to it in the first place: it moves with you.

 

WANT YOURSELF:
In the comments, tell me: do you also find that your body craves different forms of movement as the seasons change? How do you plan on taking care of yourself this winter? What’s one thing you can do today to honor what your body truly WANTs?

Never miss a post. Ever. Sign up + join the WANT movement:

Ghost Worries: The Fear of What *Might* Happen.

Ghost Worries: The Fear of What *Might* Happen.

Community Love Most Popular Posts Shift Of Power Tips + Tools Work

I am high-strung.

It’s not that I’m not easygoing or that I’m quick to argue – not in the least. My high-strungness manifests in waves…or rather, in jolting earthquakes that eventually rumble themselves out.

My high-strungness comes in the form of Ghost Worries: the fear of what might happen.

Ghost Worries are anxiety-filled what-ifs that wind their way around my neck and heart if I let them, all but paralyzing me in the moment and preventing me from fully experiencing expansive joy.

My latest Ghost Worry? That in the midst of wedding planning (we’re in the home stretch!), I haven’t been as consistent with my day-to-day WANT work as I usually am – and that because of that, I’m letting this big and beautiful thing we’ve been building together over the last three years crumble.

Oh sure, my logical brain knows WANT will be fine.

But my high-strung brain flips. the. f. out.

~

The thing about ghost worries is that they’re usually triggered by something small and seemingly inconsequential to others. You felt awkward during a conversation? The ghost worry tells you that they’ll never want to talk to you again. You left the air on when you left the house? The ghost worry tells you your utilities bill will suffer. You forgot to email that person back? The ghost worry tells you they probably hate you by now. You missed an important meeting? The ghost worry tells you you’re fired. Ghost worries are those small, subjective missteps that equal a possible, objective fail.
My ghost worries manifest as an awful flutter (more like electric jolt) in my chest when it seems the impending future will reveal that I’m doing basically everything wrong.

What I’ve realized over the years is that my Ghost Worries have to do with not living up to expectations. Not perfectionism per se, but the result of letting others down. Of not being who others expect me to be.

Growing up, I was an easy target for meaningless teasing – the kind that people think is funny to do as a sign of love (pigtail-pulling syndrome, anyone?). My family’s even admitted this to me: I’m an easy target because I internalize things. I’m the type of person that people who love to get a rise out of others…love to get a rise out of. I was teased in middle school for being “perfect” because I color-coordinated, I was teased at home for being sensitive because Katie-directed sarcasm wasn’t something I found funny. I was told I was clumsy, double-left-footed, irresponsible, and couldn’t handle “nice things” because I didn’t keep my stuff pristine.

I’m a human mess, and instead of learning to embrace that, I was convinced there was something wrong with me.

My ghost worries became about who I was instead of what I did.

 ~

If you’re like me, you know that ghost worries feel heavy. They literally feel heavy in your body. They’re what can make numbing tactics seem so appealing, because if we’re numb we can’t feel the weight build. Emotional eating (or restricting), over-exercising, binge-watching, sleeping way in, biting comments, sharp attitude, isolation, immersion…it’s easy to find our own unique brand of numbing when ghost worries are all around.

However, when we numb our Ghost Worries, we’re never actually addressing them. When we ignore that they’re there, we also ignore that we can change their effects.

When we ignore that Ghost Worries exist, we also ignore that we can change their effects. Click To Tweet

These Ghost Worries haven’t gone away, and I’m sure they never will. They’re a knee-jerk reaction so engrained in my nerves that not even the finest surgeon could reverse the triggers. But what I’ve learned over time is that it’s not about what triggers me, it’s about how I respond.

Here’s what I do when I feel a Ghost Worry start to spook me:

I TEMPER MY THOUGHTS. I’ve learned to only worry about things I can control in the moment, and leave the rest for later. When it comes to ghost worries, the emotions of the situation are always (okay, usually) greater than the reality of the situation. But that doesn’t mean that I ignore the emotions. I never, never, never push my emotional response out of the way. Because to me, when I push my emotions aside, I’m telling myself my emotions aren’t valid. I’m reinforcing the narrative that I’m too sensitive or an easy target. I am the perfect amount of sensitive, and my breadth of emotion has given me everything good in my life. But what I do is separate the emotion from the situation, not letting them dictate predictions that I’d have no say in. My ghost-worry predictions always give me no say in the matter. Nope. Feel the emotion, don’t feed it.

I TALK THEM OUT LOUD. I’ve learned to lean into my ghost worries, to talk them out with someone I trust who thinks highly of me but sees me as human, not infallible or immune to mistakes. And sometimes, if I’m alone when the ghost worries arise, I’ll talk them out to myself. Putting words to thoughts is extremely powerful, because fear feeds off ambiguity. The Unknown agitates those of us who are selectively high-strung – so talking things out to yourself is kind of like soothing the wound. Even better is when you can talk it out with someone else, because validation that you’re still lovable and worthy takes away the worry that this makes you otherwise.

 

I ASK: WHAT IS LITERALLY THE WORST THAT COULD HAPPEN? Not to freak myself out more, but I always identify the worst thing – actual thing, not emotion or perception – that could happen, and how I’d respond to that (again, actually respond, not emotionally respond). Usually when I get that out of the way and realize there would be a game plan even in that scenario, the last horrible piece of The Unknown is removed. Ive now got as much of a grasp on the situation as I can, not just the parts my mind was selectively making up to spook me into smallness and a scarcity mindset.

Feel the emotion, don’t feed it. Click To Tweet

So, what about me? Well, first off, the fear I was irresponsible and lazy and unprofessional gradually faded when I realized that only *I * know what goes on behind the scenes – if I am disappointing anyone right now, it’s probably myself first and foremost. And I can, strangely, deal with that. Talking it out also made me realize that my worst-case-scenario is that I flail a little over the next couple weeks, and I get back on track after the wedding. (Seriously Katie? THAT is the worst-case-scenario? Girl, you gotta get some more spooky Ghost Worries.)

More importantly, I felt. Hard. Feeling my emotions in the moment allowed me to experience them at their height, then gradually move through them. Not fight them – move THROUGH them. Although it doesn’t change my timeline, feeling everything in the moment will allow me to be pragmatic and proactive later on (squashing emotions always makes me reactive later, I’ve found). Also, I am getting married. MARRIED. To the best-for-me person I could ever conjure up. The wedding has a deadline, just like any other project I pour myself into. And then it’s back to real life…but better.

And that’s the thing:
when I confront my Ghost Worries, I remember how lucky I truly am. 

Because that’s what Ghost Worries threaten to do, really: try and convince us we’re not as lucky as we really are.

ghost worries



Never miss a post. Ever. Sign up + join the WANT movement:


5 Fem-Powered Podcasts You Should Be Listening To (…that AREN’T by NPR.)

5 Fem-Powered Podcasts You Should Be Listening To (…that AREN’T by NPR.)

Community Most Popular Posts Tips + Tools WANT Women Work

Look.

I am NPR’s self-elected fan club president.

In a storm of biases and opinions, I can count on NPR to fill me in on what’s going on in the world, open my eyes to opinions that might not entirely match my own, and challenge me in all the very best ways. When everyone is talking about the new Taylor Swift album or the latest musical trend, NPR (and specifically, their LA-based KCRW) is busy introducing me to new, innovative musicians I might not have heard of otherwise.

Books. Theatre. Culture. Society. NPR and its affiliate stations offer up alternatives to mainstream everything and I am HERE FOR IT.

However…do a quick search of “best podcasts” and you’ll be hard pressed to find a roundup that’s not dominated by NPR-produced shows. I love me some Invisibilia and How I Built This (two of my fave NPR shows – I even mentioned the former on my first must-listen list back in 2015), but NPR-produced podcasts are just one small slice of the pod pie. You wouldn’t just watch TV shows that appear on ONE channel, would you?

This week, I wanted to shine the spotlight on some of the best self-hosted, self-produced, female-driven podcasts you should be listening to right now. Because what most people don’t realize when they listen to the glossy episodes produced by both large organizations and one-woman-shows alike is that there is a LOT of work that goes into podcast production.

From scheduling and recording a thoughtful show, to making your guest(s) feel comfortable enough to open up to you, to the literal hours of editing that are done just to normalize the sound levels and omit any dragging “ummmmmmm”s, each minute is meticulously crafted to create the best possible experience for the podcast’s listening community.

Podcasts take a lot of work to get from the mic to your ears – and when you’re a team of one (maybe two if you’re lucky), you’ve gotta love it enough to make that work worth your while.

Here, five podcasts (by women!) you should be listening to if you’re not already – I can promise you you’ll hear the love coming through loud and clear:

For the mindful foodie (or mindful foodie-wannabe), try…The Actor’s Diet Podcast

What I love about The Actor’s Diet Podcast, an extension of Lynn Chen‘s site by the same name, is that it’s rarely just about the food. Because really, food is rarely just about the food, right? It’s about our heritage, our history, our families and our memories. It’s about how we relate to our bodies and how we interact with the world. Oh, and this isn’t your typical food-centric podcast where it’s all about the chefs and culinary whizzes – expect to hear from actors, musicians, bloggers, and all types of creatives (along with Lynn herself, who is a blast to listen to – you can check her out on the WANTcast here and here for proof!). LISTEN HERE


For when you need some company on your hour-plus commute, listen to…Let It Out by Katie Dalebout

Katie, as a podcast host and as a person, is genuinely one of the most curious, engaged people you will ever meet. Her enthusiasm is contagious, and her episodes are typically over an hour long because she is SUCH a good, present listener that she always finds one more amazing question to ask or interesting place to take the conversation. And she listens to everyone equally – from Danielle LaPorte to the owners of her favorite coffee shop, she treats every single person like her best friend (who she has also interviewed, ps). I adore this woman, and listening to her podcast while I’m stuck in way-too-slow traffic makes me feel like I’m hanging out with her IRL. LISTEN HERE


For a docu-style inside look into the book publishing world (and what the path to achieving a big-ass goal really looks like behind the scenes), try…The Cookbook Deal

OG MVP (most-valuable-podcaster) Jessica Murnane wrote a book last year. It was also the craziest year of her life. And she documented it ALL. You don’t need to be an aspiring author to get totally sucked into this binge-worthy podcast – I may or may not have recently re-listened to all eight 20-ish-minute episodes in succession over the weekend – but if you ARE interested in learning about all the twists and turns that happen behind the scenes when you see someone out there accomplishing amazing, big-ass professional goals, you’ll be hooked after the first few minutes. This podcast is SO important for those of us who are go-getters and goal setters: we aim high and we think things need to be perfect. When things don’t run smoothly, we think we’re probably failing, because no one ever talks about the hard parts. When we scroll through Instagram, it can seem like everyone else’s plans are unfolding without even so much as a hiccup. In true Murnane style, Jessica keeps it real and bashes any sort of notion that the road to success is easy-breezy. Like the saying goes, things rarely go the way you’ve planned. Listening to Jessica navigate these insane twists and turns in real time (and with SO much grace) is a serious lesson in resiliance and persistance. LISTEN HERE

For the bride-to-be who isn’t all about That Wedding Industry Life, you MUST listen to…Bridechilla

Bridechilla has been a godsend ever since I found out about it from WANT Woman Jennifer Dene (thanks, Jen!). I only wish I had started listening before we got engaged! Aleisha McCormack covers everything from out-of-the-box ceremonies and what happens “When Vendors Go Bad” to overcoming wedding stress and creating your very own “Fuckit Bucket” (you’ll have to listen to learn what that is). Aleisha and her fellow Bridechillas have helped me navigate our upcoming wedding with so much mindfulness, ease, and humor – because being a Bridechilla isn’t about not caring or not having an opinion. It’s not about ditching traditions just because they’re “stereotypical.” Being a Bridechilla about recognizing that your wedding day is about YOU and your partner, and celebrating this new chapter in your life together in a way that is the most meaningful to you two. Whether that includes chair covers or not. Aleisha, totally hitting you up to be on the WANTcast in Season Three. Just a heads up. LISTEN HERE



For the activist who also loves pop culture, try…Tamarindo Podcast

When my former neighbor (< full disclosure) Brenda Gonzales first talked to me about wanting to start a podcast focusing on Latinx social, cultural, and political issues, I knew it would be a hit just because of her personality. What I didn’t realize is how much I, someone who is not a member of the Latinx community, would get out of it on a weekly basis. Each week, Brenda and her co-host Luis Octavio discuss politics, food, music, and life, all through a Latinx lens. They’re absolutely hilarious (waiting for them to have their own morning show, Regis-and-Kelly style), whip-smart, and have introduced me to SO many concepts and issues that I never knew about. And this is, I think, my favorite takeaway from Tamarindo. It’s made me realize how much I DON’T know about things that don’t affect me, and helped me combat the effects of that ignorance/white privilege by actively seeking out more information on issues that affect ALL variations of people no matter the race, gender, religion, etc. You might start listening for the music or pop-culture breakdowns…but you’ll stay for the eye-opening conversations about ways our country (and world) can be a better place for EVERYONE. LISTEN HERE

Looking for more? Here are 7 of my favorite podcasts that’ll make any crazy-long commute actually enjoyable.


WANT yourself:
What are some of your favorite female-driven podcasts out there? Why do you love them? And – here’s a bonus – who would YOU like to hear on Season Three (dropping January 2018!) of the WANTcast??