5 Ways To Motivate Yourself To Exercise (No Matter How You Feel)

5 Ways To Motivate Yourself To Exercise (No Matter How You Feel)

Body Tips + Tools

I’m no stranger to sweat therapy: I hit the gym on the regular. My running shoes are practically a second set of feet. I’ve never been one to turn down a chance to get down (dog) – heck, I’ve been teaching spin classes since people thought it meant you go to a class and turn around in circles for 45 minutes on end (for real. people used to ask me if that was what a spin class was).

I’m well aware of both the physical and mental benefits of getting my heart rate up on the regular, and consider fitness more of a lifestyle habit than a to-do to get to-done.

So why, then, do I wake up some mornings feeling like the last thing I want to do is get moving?

~

According to catchy headlines and fly-by-night trends, we’re supposed to sweat it out the same way no matter the season: with intensity, with drive, and with an all-or-nothing mentality that promises slimmer thighs!, better sex!, and brighter moods! 365 days a year. We force ourselves into routines for the sake of routines, not taking into account that we are living, breathing, changing beings who experience enough physical, emotional, and spiritual shifts in a mere day to fill up a week’s worth of SoulCycle classes by 12:01pm on a Monday afternoon.

Study after study shows us that exercise can boost our mood, help our bodies clear out toxins, and make even the most everyday of activities seem a whole lot easier (hello, five-story walk up apartment). But when you’re feeling fatigued, uninspired, or just plain down-in-the-slumps, scientific facts don’t help all that much. And the “accountability” factor of having a class to make or a trainer to see isn’t always a surefire recipe to get amped up.


The solution: You’ve got to make your workout work out for you.

 

I’ve definitely struggled with this since moving across the country. Not only was I not used to the seasonal shifts, but I had to completely restructure my schedule, top to bottom. This definitely included the way I moved. I loved exercising outside, which I didn’t have many opportunities to do in LA – one point, NYC! The gym was also a huge part of my community on the west coast, and I found that the NYC gyms where I felt that were NOT the ones that were the closest to my house. And then there was rain, there was snow, and there was that huge dramatic shift in early November when I didn’t even want to leave the house let alone break a sweat. Thankfully, ten months in, I’ve figured out my roadblocks and how to move through them in order to get moving.

You’ve got to make your workout WORK OUT for you. Click To Tweet

Feeling blah? I feel you – and there’s no need to let negative self-talk stand in your way. Here are five ways to set yourself up for success and motivate yourself to exercise, no matter how you feel:

 

1) Give yourself options. Ever notice that the more often you do something extreme, the more your body starts to want its next hit? It’s kind of like that with fitness. When it comes to working out on a down day, it’s important to feed your cravings, not your addictions. That could mean foregoing your usual five-mile run for a meditative walk in the park. That could mean modifying your burpees in your HIIT sesh so there’s no push-up involved. That could mean trading in plank for child’s pose. Knowing you have options within the workout you choose removes that all-or-nothing feeling and gives your body what it actually wants (feeds the craving) vs. what you think it SHOULD be wanting (feeding the addiction).

 

2) Have a Plan A…Plan B…Plan C….Plan D… I love to run outside. But I know myself, and there are certain situations in which even the most persuasive person I know (hi mom) wouldn’t be able to convince me to haul you-know-what out in the open air. If you’ve learned how to psych yourself to run in brutal heat, icky rain, or I-can’t-feel-my-face cold, more power to you. Me? That’s a big NOPE in my book.

In the past, I’d either force myself to brave the elements or skip out altogether. Not only was the former potentially dangerous and the latter a surefire way to make me a crankypants for the rest of the day, but neither of those options had to be the solutions! Now I know to always have a Plan A, B, C, even a Plan D for making my workout work for me. Running outside not an option? Use the treadmill. All the treads already taken at the gym? Hop on an elliptical. No cardio equipment available whatsoever – or it’s just too miserable to leave the house in the first place? Say hello to my fave, customizable self-confidence boosting workout. Having multiple options at the ready, I’ve found, ensures I can make a decision that’s right for me no matter the circumstance.

 

3) Wear what makes you feel good. Many fitness pros and motivational coaches will recommend that a surefire way to get amped to work out is wear a rockin’ piece of fitnesswear. And that’s solid advice. Heck, a whole activewear revolution is happening because of that exact school of thought!

The problem is, sometimes that’s not what actually makes us feel our best – especially if we’re feeling uncomfortable in our own skin. When I’m feeling down on myself and physically uncomfortable, I wear clothes that have a little more “give” to them. Sometimes, I throw on my fiancé’s old t-shirt and call it a day. Point is: if your fitnesswear best makes you feel rockin’, rock on! But if an old concert tee and stretchy pants from 2008 make you feel great, that’s great too. It’s much easier to get in a productive – and pleasant – workout when you’re less concerned with the way you look and more invested in the way you feel.

 

4) Make playlist presents for yourself. When I find music I love, I become borderline obsessed. So muchso, in fact, that I’ll listen to an entire album or playlist on repeat for weeks, then move onto another set of songs for another few weeks after that. And so on, and so on. That first time I listen is always the most exciting – so what I’ve learned to do is create a playlist for myself (or download an entire album on Spotify) and promise myself not to listen until my next workout. This works with playlists, genre “stations” on Spotify or Pandora (I’m all about the “90s Smash Hits” right now), even podcasts. Giving yourself something to look forward to within the workout setting is a great way to trick yourself into putting the work in and having a blast in the moment.


5) Give it a REST.
Okay, so this one might seem counter-intuitive…rest to motivate yourself to exercise? Isn’t this a recipe for a negative talk spiral? Actually, it’s the exact opposite. I’m not talking about resting when you’ve got adrenal fatigue or are overtraining – which, obviously, require rest. I’m talking about letting yourself off the hook. If you’re constantly pressuring yourself to “be motivated,” how will you ever get there? Just like with food, your decision to exercise (or not exercise) is not good or bad – it just IS. Yes, sometimes it’s necessary to just get up and do it even when you’d rather be binge watching Orange Is The New Black on your couch. But at the same time, it’s necessary to train yourself to cut yourself some slack. How can we ever develop a healthy relationship with our body if we’re constantly putting the pressure on it to look, act, and do things a certain way? In my experience, this is a breeding ground for guilt and exercise addiction. Give yourself the space to breathe – you might be surprised by what happens when you start to approach exercise as one of many opportunities to feel good, not one sole chance or obligation to do things the “right” way.

 

Looking for more WANT wisdom to help you get moving? Click here for help ramping up…or maybe even slowing down.


WANT YOURSELF:
Now, you: I’d love to hear how you motivate yourself to exercise when you’re just not feeling it. Is there a specific trick you’ve got up your sleeve? Is there a song or playlist you’ve go that gets you going no matter what? Leave a comment below – your sweat-positive strategy might be exactly what someone else needs to get them spinning in the right direction. Literally or figuratively ;)


Photo by Caddie Hastings

How To Activate Your Inner Activist: On Finding Your Voice (In A Way That Works For You)

How To Activate Your Inner Activist: On Finding Your Voice (In A Way That Works For You)

Community Tips + Tools WANT Women

I think we can all agree: it’s been quite the year so far (*LOL to the understatement of the decade). Every single person I talk to says some combo of the same things: I’m fired up. I want to make a change. I’m ready to fight. I’m exhausted. I don’t know what to do. I feel called to action.

Overwhelming, right? I know how you feel.

Over the last few months, I’ve had politically and culturally charged conversations with people I would have never expected to talk about these things with so candidly. A common concern I started to hear from most people was that they were worried they weren’t overtly “activisty” enough to be an activist – which, really, was a worry rooted less in their desire to help and moreso their fear of being shamed or judged. Oof.

As I talked to more and more people, I realized I wanted to help. I wanted to meet them where they were at and help them go outside their comfort zones *gradually,* so that eventually the uncomfortable would become comfortable. I realized that while I was on board with all forms of activism, I was most interested in exploring the seemingly small but huge things people could do NOW to make an impact, not exhaust themselves, stay in this for the long haul…and do it all in a way that would feel aligned with who they are.

'Conversation is a dialogue, not a monologue.' - @cantpatthis Click To Tweet

Last Sunday, I had the honor of making my dream panel come to life: an intimate yet powerful conversation with five activist-minded WANT Women and Men (Lauren Bille of The Big Quiet and Cycles + Sex, actor and playwright Patrick Burns, Christen Brandt of She’s The First, Jahan Mantin of Project Inkblot, historian Natalia Petrzela of Past Present) about how to make a difference in a way that’s in alignment with who you are. This dynamic discussion, held at the gorgeous HUBseventeen space below Lululemon’s Flatiron flagship, was for anyone who was new to activism, struggling to figure out ways to make a difference in their OWN way, or just curious as to what “activism” can look like beyond marches and protests.

I wish I could adequately express the energy in the room. It was...electric. Comforting. Eye-opening. On-the-edge-of-your-seat. A big long exhale and ‘I thought I was the only one!’

Here are some of the best takeaways from the day:

1) Use social media wisely. Instead of using social media as a venting ground, use it to share events happening this week (awesome suggestion by Lauren). Without pushing your viewpoints on someone else, share everything from rallies to donation-based yoga classes happening nearby. Social media can be a great way to help people find options that might work for them, whether YOU are able to attend or not. You never know who’s reading that has been looking for a way to take action.

2) …Speaking of which, focus on the common ground instead of the shakey ground. Natalia stressed the importance of educating yourself and learning about the “whys” behind the “whats.” Not just for your own personal benefit – but so you can have more nuanced, productive interactions with the world around you. People who, say, voted the opposite way you did – they have hopes and dreams for this big world, too. Instead of grilling or shaming someone about their choices, ask why and actually listen. Maybe they’re worried about affording healthcare. Maybe they’re passionate about education. Whether it’s on social media with acquaintances or around the dinner table with family, find the things you agree on. You’ll probably realize you have a lot more in common than you thought – and maybe, just maybe, each of you will be able to learn about a new perspective. 

3) Be proactive, not reactive. One of the biggest themes of the afternoon was the importance of listening – and then doing something with that information. It’s really easy to let our emotions go crazy when things get under our skin, but now more than ever is the time to press the pause button. Just like negative self-talk, it’s easier to bond over what we loathe instead of fighting for what we love. Instead of fuming about the latest headline with your friends, probe as to why each of you feel the way you do – and then ask, non-rhetorically (as Christen said), So what are we doing to do about this? In order for progress to be made, the days of venting ad nauseum need to come to a close. As Patrick said, “Conversation is a dialogue, not a monologue.”

4) Privilege is complicated, but it’s not something to feel guilty about. Privilege is a sticky subject. Some people argue that being able to be an “activist” is a privilege in and of itself – however, many people will also say that some don’t have the privilege of turning a blind eye and NOT being an activist. One big takeaway from Sunday was to be honest with yourself about whatever your situation or life has looked like and then do something with it. Christen spoke about how powerful it is to create “safe spaces” – how it’s important to show up time and time again and know not only when it’s important to speak up but when to shut up. We take cues from each other. And she’s realized that her “privilege,” so to speak, can help model the behavior she wants to see out in the world – one that doesn’t assume what someone else’s experience is like or discriminate by class, race, gender, or who we love.

'Show up, know when to speak up, know when to shut up.' - @cjbrandt, @shesthefirst Click To Tweet

5) Small actions can lead to big impact, from the inside out. It doesn’t matter what you do or who you are, you CAN make a difference. If you’re an employee who wants to create change within their company, for example, keep throwing ideas into the mix and eventually one will stick. The first one might fall on deaf ears, but keep going. Something as small as a conversation with someone in the grocery store can shift lives. “You never know what is going to start a ripple effect,” Jahan told us. “You start with one ripple, then another, then another – and eventually, that’s how you make waves.”

'You start with one ripple...eventually, that's how you make waves.' - @projectinkblot Click To Tweet

6) Activism doesn’t always need to be loud to be heard. Okay, that one’s my own. What resonates with one person might fall on deaf ears with another. I think it does a disservice to the causes at hand to force one “form” of activism on everyone. It makes it seem like activism only looks one way – and can often lead to the kind of black-and-white thinking (You’re selfish if you don’t march! or How can you call yourself a feminist/activist/ally if you don’t XYZ?) that discourages newbie activists from taking that powerful first step of their own. 

Don’t get me wrong. I’m all for a powerful march. But I know that’s just ONE part of the equation. The more we can find ways to speak up in ways that are in alignment with who we are, the more comfortable we get with getting uncomfortable, the more we’ll cause a ripple effect within ourselves and others. We’ll eventually feel more comfortable with getting more and more uncomfortable. What once felt awkward and fearful will feel awakened and fearless.

Activism doesn't always need to be loud to be heard. Click To Tweet

Activating your inner activist doesn’t have to be complicated or obvious – it can start with one conversation and go from there. Inch by inch. Step by step. That’s how you build up a voice that resonates in the long run.

HUGE thanks to HUBseventeen for being such fierce supporters of WANT and allowing us to take over your space for the afternoon, and to Lauren, Patrick, Christen, Jahan, and Natalia for sharing so much of yourselves and making the very first WANT panel in NYC a wild success –  and to YOU, the WANT peeps, for being the reason this community is as powerful as it is. Not only did you pack the room, but your questions and enthusiasm had us all on the edge of our seats.

All proceeds from this event went directly to Planned Parenthood.

Photos by Anke Kuballa

Want How To Activate You Inner Activist to come to your town? Get in touch here.


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From Zilla to Chill-a: What To Do When You’re Feeling Overwhelmed (…By The Good Things)

From Zilla to Chill-a: What To Do When You’re Feeling Overwhelmed (…By The Good Things)

Body Community Love Tips + Tools Work

Sometimes it can seem as if the world is out to get us; that when it rains it pours and when it’s sunny it’s blinding. General consensus was that 2016 was the former – and if you’re anything like me, the last month or so has been the latter.

It’s really easy to talk about being overwhelmed when you’re overwhelmed by hard things – but it’s harder to talk about overwhelm when all things are GOOD. Mainly because, well, our inner critic tells us there’s nothing to be overwhelmed about. Overwhelm, it says, is about NEGATIVITY. And there’s nothing negative happening here. Snap out of it.

I’m no stranger to enrolling myself into Camp Overwhelm, usually unknowingly. And many times, it happens when the most opportunities are at my feet. I end up feeling anxious, self-sabotage, and the cycle repeats. Or I just have a breakdown. Either or. (Insert half-smile emoji here.)

I’m getting better at it. The things that used to overwhelm me no longer do. I remind myself I’ve done this before, I’ll do it again, and this is just another one for the list. But as a self-proclaimed go-getter, I sometimes back myself into a corner of so much good I don’t know what to do with it. My mind instantly starts up with the negative self-talk. Jeez Katie. First world problems. You’re overwhelmed because you’ve got so much opportunity. Be grateful, why don’t you?? The voice gets louder and louder and I sink into shame from feeling like my overwhelm means I’m not appreciative or happy. Which, of course, makes me a whole lot less happy.

Part of the reason we get overwhelmed when too many good things happen is that we try to give everything our full attention all at once. Think of it like an overcharged phone or camera battery circa 1990something: just like if you’d leave your device plugged in for too long it would overheat, when we live life in a constant state of bouncing from one high-high to the next, we burn out.

But the bigger problem, and reason why a plethora of positivity can swiftly turn negative – is because negativity is the language we’re using all too often on a day to day basis. It’s so easy to creep into negative talk in positive moments – so easy, in fact, that you might not realize you’ve gotten into the habit of it until good things come your way. It’s the language we use, the way that we bond, the tool we break out when we feel alone or scared or hurt or unsure or even just ambivalent. We can’t expect to truly understand and accept the good moments if we haven’t been practicing the language.

We can't expect to truly accept the good moments if we haven't been practicing the language. Click To Tweet

When left unchecked, our first response to Goodness-Overwhelm can be to complain or retreat into self-sabotagey behaviors to subconsciously “balance things out”  (kind of like how we hold ourselves back when we think we’re only allowed to have one “thing” we’re good at…). You might even feel selfish or guilty about being overwhelmed in the first place. If I can’t handle the good, am I even WORTHY of it?

I always used to wonder why soonlyweds got so -zilla’d out over wedding planning, and now I understand why: when so much good comes your way, you sometimes don’t know where to start. When you’re faced with an impending new beginning – whether it be a marriage or move or career opportunity – the giddy anticipation combined with the things you need to (nay, WANT to) do can bring out the best and most grateful person in you…or the most anxious and insecure. Moreover, if you haven’t been actively keeping your language in check, internally and externally, the good can feel foreign. You’re going from one extreme to the other – and are in unfamiliar territory without even knowing it.

I’m not going to get into the multitudes of ways you can manage your negative self-talk – that’s what this site is for. But if you’re feeling overwhelmed, especially if the things making you overwhelmed are GOOD things, here are six simple strategies – three internal, three external – to help you proactively persevere through whatever whirlwind you’re facing:


• INTERNAL: SEPARATE THE EMOTION FROM THE SITUATION. 
The same rules apply when you’re dealing with overwhelm for positive reasons and negative or tedious reasons – because whether it’s a plethora of happy or aggravating things to focus your attention on, it’s still producing the same reaction. The difference is that when you’re overwhelmed with negative stuff, you’re more likely to force yourself to go a positive, proactive place. When you’re overwhelmed with positive stuff, it’s easier to pile on the guilt or negativity. Overwhelm isn’t a positive or negative thing – it’s just an emotional reaction to a situation at hand.

• INTERNAL: GET HONEST. Sometimes, overwhelm comes from the sheer amount of things occurring all at once…but sometimes, it goes a lot deeper. If you’ve got a lot on your plate, it’s time to skip to the next step. But if you’re feeling overwhelmed because you don’t think you deserve goodness or are afraid you’ll be disappointed, it’s time to recognize that. Are you overwhelmed because of the quantity of good things themselves – or because you don’t think you deserve them? Or do you secretly think it’s all too good to be true, and you might lose whatever has come your way? My friend Jen likes to say that “You can’t kill a good thing” – meaning that if something comes your way that is good, it’s yours for the keeping. Still skeptical? Read up on how to tackle Ghost Worries.

• INTERNAL: GET GRATEFUL. Oh jeez, you’re probably thinking. Another article on the internet telling me to be grateful for all the things I have. Hear me out for a sec. When I say “grateful,” I don’t mean flipping a switch to the warm and fuzzies. We cannot wait for gratitude to come. We must actively wedge the language of gratitude into our consciousness. And that doesn’t always feel warm and fuzzy. Gratitude starts by stepping outside your emotions and pragmatically recognizing the good things in our lives, which are all around you. Self-sabotage comes in when the positive things in our lives simply become tasks to check off a to-do list or burdens we feel we need to carry – basically, when we lose touch with how wonderful these individual instances actually are. Practice seeing wonderful things, even if it feels forced or contrived or doesn’t feel all that wonderful in the moment. Learning a new language isn’t about conversing right away – it’s about repeating single words over and over until they become second nature.

Gratitude starts by stepping outside your emotions + recognizing the good things all around you. Click To Tweet

• EXTERNAL: PRIORITIZE. After you’ve gotten real, gotten honest with yourself, and made gratitude a priority, get to prioritizing. Often times when we’re feeling overwhelmed, we’ll make decisions based on short-term relief instead of long-term success. Look at your day or week and compile a list of top to-dos. What is most important? What is most urgent? The things that are both important and urgent go at the top – they’re the things that matter most. What’s purely urgent (and not important) is usually reactionary and stress-inducing – skip them for now. We usually place so much importance on urgency we forget what is truly top-of-the-list material. Depending on your day, choose 3-5 top priority items, then draw a line and list the rest of your to-dos below that. Resist the urge to cross the line yourself (see below) until all the both-important-and-urgent items are taken care of.

Most importantly, do not be afraid to say no to as much as you need to. This might seem easy when your to-do list is filled with awesome things – but for some reason, we tend to over-extend ourselves OUT of that state of happy bliss way too often. When we’re overwhelmed and can’t see straight, we forget that the ability to say “no” and move forward, or just let certain things happen – not being a walking “yes” or people pleaser 24/7 – is the true sign of a leader who has things under control. And ps, who is able to enjoy the good things as they come her way.

• EXTERNAL: PICK YOUR PARTNERS. If you’ve ever read any sort of self-helpy article about busy-ness or overwhelm, you’ve probably learned by now to ask for help when you’ve got a lot to do. And it’s been repeated over and over again because it’s true: you simply cannot tackle every single thing in your life alone. Delegating tasks to others works. Loosening the reins of control over those things you don’t need to have a firm grasp upon (but need to get done) helps save your sanity and also forms a sense of camaraderie. A few suggestions: enlist those closest to you, visit TaskRabbit.com, and delegate at work so that you’re not leaving the office screaming every day.

But another important yet unexpected tip is to pick your celebration partners. Know who in your life you can call to talk you down from an anxious ledge and celebrate with you. Overwhelm is simply imbalance within a single individual. Help isn’t just needed when you’re in crisis mode – it’s needed when you’re celebrating, too. Whether it’s a friend or your significant other, know who you can turn to for support, laughter, high-fives, or pep talks when you feel your cup is about to runneth over. 

Help isn't just needed when you're in crisis mode - it's needed when you're celebrating, too. Click To Tweet

• EXTERNAL: TAKE YOUR TIME TO POWER THROUGH. All the positivity, planning, perspective, prioritizing, and partnering are nothing if there are not proactive steps made in a forward direction. Like the Nike ads say, just do it. But do it consciously. Treat the moment with the respect it deserves, not as a task you need to check off a list but a meaningful moment that is one of a kind. Take what I call “mental pictures” as you go, stopping to notice and note the details of when and where and how you are in the moment. Then take another step. Then another. Then another. It’s a tricky feat to balance savoring the moment and actually getting things done, but when achieved, it’s a surefire way to kick overwhelm to the curb.

When we’re overwhelmed, it can sometimes seem like the world is pitted against us, preventing us from accomplishing anything or feeling like we’re being the person we know we want to be. But you’ll find that once you start to show the world you’ve got things handled, once you start going, you start to realize that the sunshine is yours for the keeping.


WANT YOURSELF:
Have you ever had so many good things happen at once that you ended up feeling overwhelmed and anxious? How did you keep yourself in check and shift yourself out of a negative mindset? I’d LOVE to hear in the comments below…

The Art Of The Planned Freak-Out.

The Art Of The Planned Freak-Out.

Body Community Love Tips + Tools Work

If you’ve been following along, you know that about seven months ago I moved to New York City with my partner Jeremy. I’d lived in Los Angeles my entire life – entire life – so the shift brought up all sorts of emotions (you can read about some of them here and here). About two weeks before we left, I started to get a little bit anxious. Being the calming force that he is, he mentioned to me that we should probably plan for at least 2 to 3 big freak out moments in the first few months. Cool. Okay. Permission to lose it. I can do that.

Fast forward to now, and while I’ve definitely had my own one-off moments of spontaneously crying or stressing out, I hadn’t sat down and really allowed myself to digest the big change. What more, it wasn’t until last week that both of us sat down, frazzled, and realized that neither one of us had truly taking the time to digest the enormous change that we had just made.

I think that, for me personally, I pride myself on being resilient. Change the schedule of a day I’ve planned out and I’ll break out in anxious trembling, but when it comes to big changes, failures, or loss, I put myself in a leadership position and warrior on.

Is my resilience helpful? For sure. Is it a defense mechanism? Sometimes. I have a tendency to take my penchant for resilience for granted – and because of that, I sometimes downplay huge moments and transitions in my life that are completely worthy of a good old-fashioned freak out. I don’t allow myself to lose it because I know the challenge, feeling, etc is not only surmountable, but I “know” in my logical brain how to surmount it. But just because you know how to navigate the waters doesn’t mean it’s meant to be a smooth ride.

Just because you know how to navigate the waters doesn't mean it's meant to be a smooth ride. Click To Tweet

So here’s what we did: we scheduled a two to three hour block last weekend and decided we were going to go somewhere, get a nice warm cocktail (because it’s cold outside) (you don’t have to get a cocktail if you don’t drink or that’s not your thing but it felt kind of cozy) – and have a planned freak-out.

At first I thought we were going to sit and, for lack of a better term, vent about whatever we wanted or were worried about and allow ourselves space to stress out, cry, and react however we wanted to in a safe environment. But being the left-brainer he is, Jeremy devised an exercise to provide some structure to the situation (so we didn’t, you know, leave even more crazed than we began).

We ended up spending about three hours on the exercise total. And I’ve got to say it was one of the most cathartic, helpful, impactful exercises I maybe have ever done.

common freak-out: you're an adult now and should know way more than you do. (lies.)
common freak-out: you’re an adult now and should know way more than you do. (side note, these are all lies.)


Going through – or just went through – a major transition? Had a stressful year? Life just feeling like a roller coaster? You might be in need of a planned freak-out, too. 
A note: Something that’s important when you’re planning your freak-out moment is that you allow yourself the time and space to let anything that bubbles up bubble up judgment-free. I’m not just talking about if you do this exercise with someone else – you’ve got to commit to be judgment-free with yourself and create your own safe space to feel. Trust that you’re going to get to a positive, proactive place eventually in this exercise. But it might not happen right off the bat. And that is FINE.

 

Here’s how we planned our planned freak-out:

• Get a notebook. Any notebook will do. Preferably one that won’t end up at the bottom of your backpack or purse or below your bed under the receipts from last year. Open up a spread of two pages. On one side, write THINGS I HATE (*you know how I feel about the word hate). On the other side, write down THINGS I DISLIKE. Set a timer for 20 minutes, and go.

We originally set the timer for 15 minutes, but realized that not only did we need extra time at the beginning to sit and mull over what it is we actually disliked and hated, but once we got into the zone, the words just flowed. With a planned freak-out, it’s important to recognize and accept that not everything is going to come to you right away. Whether you’ve been suppressing feelings, there’s shame involved, or you’ve just been accepting vague truths as THE truths, this might take a while.

• Now that you’ve got your two lists, draw a line underneath or flip to the next page. Write in bold letters: SO WHAT YOU GONNA DO ABOUT IT?

(After you’re done, I suggest taking a walk to clear your brain. Grab a coffee. Sit in the park. Go pet a dog. Do something to press your internal “reset” button.)

• Once you’re ready, open up your notebook again to a new spread of pages. On one side, write THINGS I LOVE. On the other side, write down THINGS I LIKE. Set a timer for 20 minutes, and go.

• And then, yes, once you’re done, write at the bottom: SO WHAT YOU GONNA DO ABOUT IT?


What I found interesting was that when I started writing my lists, I could see very clear themes.

Some things I wrote under HATE: Feeling ineffective and insuffient. Feeling like “just another so-and-so” – not feeling unique in any way. Societal pressures on women and how they affect me negatively. Holding myself back because of money when I’m feeling financially strapped. Waiting for situations, people, etc to be “ready” – aka waiting for permission – before I take action. Loneliness.

Some things I wrote under DISLIKE: Feeling like I can’t help the people I love when they need help. Feeling like a child. Low work structure and routine. Not making more money when I feel financially strapped. Looking and waiting for opportunities to come to me instead of just going for them myself.

Self-suppression, low structure, stagnation, and disconnection were at the root of most all of my problems, “hates,” and dislikes.

Some things I wrote under LOVE: Love and gratitude. Coffee time in the morning with Jeremy. Walking around and exploring. Helping people feel proud of themselves. Working out for my own enjoyment and strength. Actively listening, and being outspoken when I truly have something to say. Singing loudly. Great conversations. Feeling proud of my appearance and presence. Feeling loved and safe and trusted.

Some things I wrote under LIKE: Good sleep. Good hair days. Dressing in dark clothes. Getting paid to write. Running. Yoga. Putting together the podcast. Holding hands. Hugs. Kisses. Massages. Structure.

Self-expression, definition, progress (personal or professional), and connection were at the root of most all my likes, loves, and happiness.

And when I started to write my second list of “To-Do About Its” and realized I could just refer to the To-Dos on the prior page, I could see one more pattern: that honestly, stepping up, “living UP” (kind of like leveling up or leaning in), and self-assertion were at the root of most everything I could do to feel the way I wanted to feel.

~

It’s only been a few days, but I feel completely refreshed after our planned freak-out. No, this is not the end. Yes, I’m already planning on allowing myself this time again in six months (or sooner if needed). But the biggest takeaway for me is that sometimes I need to break down in order to build up stronger than before. And planning that – allowing myself the time and space to just sit with all my highs and lows simultaneously – prevents shame or guilt from getting in the way.

Resilience is a strength for sure, but just because you’re able to tough things out or go with the flow doesn’t mean you need to pretend it’s easy. You cannot truly live into your high highs if you ignore your low lows – and if you look close enough, you’ll see the extremes are directly related.

So. What you gonna do about it?

planned-freak-out
Listen to it here:

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WANT YOURSELF:
If you’re like me and need a good old fashioned freak-out, block off a few hours in your calendar and when the day comes, get to writing. I’d love to hear what comes up for you. Do you see patterns? Difficult realizations? Stuff coming up you didn’t expect was even there? I’d love to hear in the comments.



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Setting (Mindful) Boundaries With Family During The Holidays + Beyond

Setting (Mindful) Boundaries With Family During The Holidays + Beyond

Community Love Tips + Tools

The holiday season. On one hand, it’s a time of food, fun and family togetherness. On the other hand… it’s a time of food, fun and family togetherness.

Getting together with the family can bring out all sorts of emotions. No matter how close your clan is or how different you all are, the various personalities at play coupled with the high-energy of the holiday season too often means we end up associating this time of year with stress, obligation and forced oversharing. Everyone somehow gets entangled in everyone else’s business, and come mid-December we’re counting down the days until the parties end and the New Year strikes. What a waste of holiday cheer!

Setting boundaries (mindful boundaries) with our loved ones right now is crucial to not only our sanity, but to our relationships with our relatives. For most of us, we’re only with our extended family a few times throughout the year, so it’s important that when we are all together, we’re working to build the kinds of relationships – and, so cliché, but the kinds of memories – we want to have.

I come from a large extended family, one I’ve been lucky enough to have living closeby my entire life. Because of this, we’ve developed some pretty close relationships – my cousins on my mom’s side are more like siblings, and my extended family on my dad’s side are some of the coolest people I know. But just because we’re two steps away from Brady Bunch status (mostly TV show, not movie) doesn’t mean it’s always peachy. I know firsthand that disagreements within the fam are usually unavoidable, and it can be easy to get into a scuffle when there are lots of different personalities in the room. And that’s not even taking into account the questions, comments, and demands that might just be one step too far. Even the Bradys couldn’t avoid it (mostly movie, not TV show). 

Whether you’re talking politics or your one aunt just won’t stop asking when you’re going to settle down, here are three ways to keep things civil, compassionate and in control without resorting to anger or putting up walls:

1.) COME PREPARED WITH QUESTIONS.
You know the saying, “Treat others as you’d like to be treated.” Ask the questions you’d appreciate being asked. If you don’t want to give a play-by-play on your love life, don’t go there with others. If you don’t want to explain your year of “funemployment” to your uncle, choose to ask him about his hobbies, travels, holiday plans or something other than “How work’s going?” You get the picture.

Just because you have boundaries doesn’t mean you’re closed off or not invested. Everyone has their own limits as to what they’re comfortable discussing, and everyone is an open book in other areas of their life. Use your empathy skills to gauge what others might love discussing…and what might make them break out into hives. Showing people how you are both genuinely interested in them and respect their privacy will send off signals that you’d appreciate if they’d do the same. And by the way, if someone is prying, it is perfectly okay to give a vague answer and steer the conversation in another direction. You are in charge of how much you are willing to share.

hqdefaultalso, don’t pry into others’ lives if you don’t want others prying into your life.

2.) SHUT DOWN THE NEGATIVE SELF-TALK.
From griping about life events to commiserating over body image woes, casual negativity is a bonding tactic – a cheap and easy way to form connections and find common ground. I’m not talking about legitimate, concern-causing grievances (signs of depression, eating disorders, abuse, etc). I’m talking about the emotionally loaded conversations we have simply to bond with one another.

Large family gatherings can be a cesspool for negative bonding sessions. When you hear the members of your family griping about how “bad” they’ve eaten, counter that with a comment on how awesome your aunt’s cooking was, then ask about a recipe. When you notice a conversation about work is veering down a negative road, ask to hear about a hobby someone loves or a recent success. Lead with your own pragmatic positivity, and make a pact with yourself that you will not be roped into feeling bad about yourself just to fit in.


just own your coolness, Cindy.

3.) BE WHO YOU WANT TO BE.
Whether we’ve grown up around them our entire lives or only see them once in a blue moon, it can be easy to fall into past roles with our families. You’re a “grandchild” in the mix? You’re still a kid in your aunts’, uncles’, and grandparents’ eyes. The oldest child in the fam? Maybe you’re expected to play that part even though you don’t really feel like you’ve gotten anything figured out yet.

Just because you’re the “kid” in your family does not warrant that you’re treated as such. Whether your aunt is infringing on the way you parent your little one or your older sibling is bossing you around in the kitchen, the holidays are a fantastic time to renew your vow to yourself to be the you you know you want to be. It’s a time of year that can bring out the very best of us – or the very worst. It’s up to us which one we choose. Sure, words speak volumes – saying, “I’ve got this” or a simple, “No thank you” sometimes does the trick – but when it comes to setting boundaries with your loved ones, actions speak encyclopedias.

jan-bradyone of my favorite scenes of all time. it’s a rocky road to a healthy self-image, but you’ll get there.

Just because you’re with your family doesn’t mean you need to morph into a different version of yourself. Click To Tweet

As impossible as it might seem, you can prevent a disagreement from turning into a disaster if you’re coming from the right place. No matter the topic of conversation or vibe you’re getting from the other person, make sure the underlying emotion you carry with you is love. Be empathetic. Be assertive. Listen to your heart for cues on when to budge and when to stand firm – and on when to speak up and when to let it go.

Most importantly? Just because you’re with your family doesn’t mean you need to morph into a different version of yourself. Ease is contagious – and so is authenticity. And you don’t have to always feel at ease to be authentically yourself. The more you do you, the more they’ll catch on. The more they catch on, the more comfortable they’ll feel doing the same. And that’s the best holiday present you could give them.

 

setting-boundaries
WANT Yourself: 

Do you struggle with setting boundaries when it comes to family – or even old friends? What do you do when you start to feel the anxiety kick in?





Not Yo Mama’s Gift Guide: 7 Ideas For Spending With Soul This Season

Not Yo Mama’s Gift Guide: 7 Ideas For Spending With Soul This Season

Community Tips + Tools

This Thanksgiving, I celebrated my very first Friendsgiving with an intimate group of people at my friend Sarah’s house in Brooklyn. In her invite, she told us all to bring something that reminded us of what we’re grateful for. After filling ourselves with some of the best homemade food I’ve ever tasted (shout out to Sarah for BAKING HER OWN BREAD FROM SCRATCH and then using it for stuffing), we went around the room and shared what we’d brought and what it reminded us to be grateful for.

Some people brought ornaments. Some shared notes. I brought some of my journals from my childhood and teen years – because what I determined I was MOST grateful for this year was my quirky, introspective, aware childhood and the safe space it’s given me to land.

At the beginning of this year, I made a whiteboard with all of my professional goals for 2016. Events? Check. Finances? Kinda-check. And then a list of things that at the beginning of the year, I thought mattered so much.

Then 2016 happened.

This year has shaken me (and us, I think) up in all of the best and worst ways possible – all culminating with a pretty tough November. But in the toughness, there was so much to be grateful for – and so much I was reminded to never take for granted.

Forget about the obvious stuff, like a loving, healthy relationship and the chance to live in New York City. This month reminded me to be grateful for the feeling of community in my life; for not feeling alone. Let alone living in one of the best cities in the world – this month made me grateful to be living with a roof over my head, period! I was reminded to be grateful that even when money’s a little tighter than usual that I still have enough to provide myself with the basic necessities and then some. Not only do I have a close relationship with my family, I belong to a family that for the most part agrees about the big things like politics, civil liberties, and basic human decency. Heck, I am in TOUCH with my whole family. That’s saying something! This month has reminded me how damn lucky I am to have all I have. So many people are worried about everything from whether they’ll be able to afford healthcare to how they will put food on the table to whether they’ll ever feel welcome in their own family members’ homes again. This month, I am most grateful for three decades of diving in and digging deep even when it’s most uncomfortable – whether it’s examining my privileges or feeling things that are hard to feel. Right now, I am most grateful that even in the toughest of times, EVEN when I don’t want to get out of bed, I’ve taught myself how to look beyond the emotions of the situation at hand and ask “What Can I Do To Help?” Whether it’s others or myself, I am super grateful to have cultivated this power, slowly but surely. Even when I felt like an outsider…even when I felt like I was weird for being so “emotional” (really just pensive)…I am so glad I stuck with it. That work is paying off now. Big time.

The things I thought mattered still matter, but in perspective they’re just stops along the way. They’re cool things and cool accomplishments and cool ways to live life. But this year has been a massive reminder of what truly matters in the long run, and how important it is for us all to use our gifts, talents, privileges, and wisdom to make an impact for the better. That’s what I mean when, at the end of each WANTcast, I say “Be the you YOU know you’re meant to be.” Not just for yourself. But for the world, too.

Be the you YOU know you're meant to be. Not just for yourself. But for the world, too. Click To Tweet


I know you’re probably sick of the gift guides slamming your inboxes right now, but I’d love to offer up a few suggestions this year in the spirit of helping others and helping yourself:

 

photo: sacred stone camp
photo: sacred stone camp

FOR PLACES TO DONATE, in your name or someone else’s, check out this awesome list of pro-women, pro-immigrant, pro-earth, anti-bigotry organizations. The ACLU, She Should Run, Planned Parenthood, EarthJustice, and so many more! Be sure to go through the comments section for even more suggestions. Also, a list of ways to help Standing Rock – which, if you haven’t been following along, is devastating and makes me wonder what century we’re living in…

thebrando

FOR JEWELRY WITH A MISSION, my friend Diane’s company Love Infinity For All is designed to start conversations around mental illness. But she also knows that conversation is only one part of the equation – which is why she donates 15% of all purchases to the National Alliance For Mental Illness to make change happen. Also, every single one of her pieces is gorgeous. Currently coveting the brand-new vegan Gwen wrap choker. SHOP HERE

love-warrior-fulld

FOR A BOOK THAT HEALS, my absolute favorite of the moment is Glennon Doyle Melton’s memoir, Love Warrior. The people in my life are probably sick of me talking about this book ad nauseum. You’ve heard of “self-help” books? This is more like a “self-heal” book. Love Warrior is absolutely stunning. So stunning, in fact, that I read it cover to cover on my most recent flight from LA to NYC. There’s been a crapton written about how moving this book is and about how powerful Glennon’s story is – and it’s all true. I’d like to add that part of what makes this book so incredible is HOW it’s structured. I love how Glennon not only writes in the first person, but in the present tense so you feel like you’re on the journey with her. In telling her story, exploring her truths, and stepping fearlessly into who she really is, Glennon somehow encourages you to do the same. You heal along with her in the process. What’s even cooler? If you are determined to make Glennon your new BFF go down the rabbit hole and take a peek at her social media accounts, blog, etc, she is using this opportunity of massive visibility to do SO MUCH GOOD. Take a peek at Together Rising and Holiday Hands. Yes, she’s got a best-selling memoir. Yes, Oprah called. But this badass chick keeps her freaking eye on the prize – the prize being the change she can make in others’ lives on both a micro and macro level. I get choked up every single time I think about it. This is what we should all be doing. Tell our truths, do hard things, and use opportunities to benefit as many people as we can. BUY HERE

 

photo: the joyful tribe
photo: the joyful tribe

FOR KIDS ALL OVER, I am wishing I was a kid again and could get a million of The Doll Kind. For each doll purchased, one doll is given to a child in need. Hospitals, orphanages, shelters, the works. My dolls and stuffed animals brought me so much joy and, as an introvert, always made me feel like I had a best friend by my side even when I wanted to just play alone. I can’t even begin to imagine how much these dolls must mean to the less fortunate kids who receive them. SHOP HERE

 

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FOR YOUR FAVE INTROVERT (speaking of introvert kids…), check out WANTcast guest Jenn Granneman’s new Introvert Dreams coloring book. I cannot imagine how different my self-perception would have been if I had known about introverts when I was little! Listen to Jenn on the WANTcast here, then gift this book to your favorite little one (or grown-up introvert) to let them know it’s cool to be quiet. BUY HERE

 

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FOR YOUR NEW FAVE ONE-STOP SHOP, Enrou is where it’s at. I was introduced to Enrou earlier this year and it was love at first click. Each piece on the site, from hats and scarves to bags and home goods, provides hours of dignified work, an income and job training to someone who needs it. Your purchase also helps supports Enrou’s brand partners’ community initiatives such as health education, financial coaching, and women’s empowerment programs. If you’re giving someone a gift, be sure to print out the page you bought it from, so they can see the pic of the person/community they’re supporting. I know – cue the happy-waterworks. I love this hat, this kimono, these hoops, every single one of their pieces with The Giving Keys, and this Old Fashioned set (bc a girl’s gotta drink in style). Actually, I love everything. SHOP HERE
(***EDIT: Enrou is offering WANT readers 10% off through the end of 2016 with the code WANT10 – so get shopping!


spread-the-good-word

AND FOR A GIFT THAT COSTS NOTHING, maybe subscribe a woman in your life to the WANT newsletter so she can be a part of our community! Every single day (literally), I hear from others how important WANT is and how much the work we are doing matters. We cannot help others if we do not help ourselves first – how can we do either if we’re programming ourselves to be our own worst enemies? Entering your friend’s email is so simple, but could be the thing that changes everything. (But, um, give them the heads up so they don’t think we’re spamming them, k?) SUBSCRIBE HERE

 


What about you? Do you have a small business that gives back or a soulful gift you’ll be giving this holiday season? Tell us in the comments!


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