Extraordinary women are everywhere. They’re in your yoga class. In your circle of friends. In your family. They’re lovers, fighters, survivors, entrepreneurs, believers… They’re everything they want to be and fought to become. You just don’t know their stories -- yet.
BELLABEAT: What motivates you?
KATE: Without a doubt, my kids and my husband. I would do anything for them and my love for them has truly gotten me through some tough things. Fitness has always been a part of my life. Before my boys were born, I worked full-time and was really dedicated to working out 4-6 days a week. During the beginning of my pregnancy, I still remained active (mostly walking and prenatal yoga). However, at 28 weeks, I started having contractions and was immediately put on bed rest. I carried them to 38 weeks and 5 days and had a c-section delivery with no complications. However, with a c-section, recovery can take a bit longer. Once I was cleared to begin exercising again, I knew I needed to, but it was certainly a challenge. Physically, I was weak. I had spent 11 weeks on bed rest and an additional 6 weeks recovering from the c-section. My body just felt fragile. I was also now met with the challenge of taking care of 2 new babies and all that comes with it. I didn’t have the time, energy or even the desire to exercise, but I realized that the only way to regain my strength was to take that first step.
Many of my workouts ended in tears because I couldn’t do the things I used to. I had to constantly remind myself to give myself grace and be patient and that eventually, with consistency, I would be strong again. On the days where I just didn’t want to, I reminded myself that I have 2 little boys who depend on me and that I can’t take care of them if I’m not taking care of me.
BELLABEAT: Who influenced you the most?
KATE: My mother, Mary. My father, George, passed away at a very young age - he was 46 and I was 4. I have 3 older sisters, but they were all out of the house with husbands and families of their own, so for a large part of my life it was just me and my mama. I can’t imagine how hard it was for her raising a young daughter alone. She worked so hard and she, along with help from my sisters, always made sure that we had what we needed. Even though life was hectic, some of my most vivid childhood memories involve my mom being active. Exercising was just something that she did. It was part of her life. She didn’t necessarily talk about it, she just did it. Whether it was a home workout, us going for a walk or a bike ride, she always modeled that behavior and it was truly a lifestyle for her. My mom will be 81 this year and she still makes the time to exercise a few times a week.
While most of my workouts happen when the rest of my family is sleeping, I do make a point for my boys to see me work out when possible because I want them to see that this is a part of mommy’s everyday life - just like brushing your teeth or eating breakfast. It’s just something we do. Young children often model the behavior of adults around them and I want to make sure I’m setting a good example for them.
BELLABEAT: What advice would you give to yourself 10 years ago?
KATE: I would tell myself to run my own race. To be completely honest, so many of my late teens and all of my 20’s were spent working out because I was unhappy with how my body looked. And that was back before the rise of social media. I felt like I needed to look a certain way, to be this size or that weight to feel worthy. And even now, as I approach 40, I still find myself having to fight off those negative voices in my head that creep in every once in a while that want to pick everything apart when I look in the mirror. But for the most part, I’m finally at a place where I’m really happy with me. I workout because I know it’s good for me - physically, mentally and emotionally. I listen to my body. Somedays I feel like running 3 miles and other days I feel my body craving some yoga. I also love hitting the gym or track with one of my best friends and we can enjoy each other's company as we do something healthy for ourselves. I don’t waste my time anymore focusing on what anyone else is doing. I really try to just focus on being the best version of myself.
BELLABEAT: Describe your day.
KATE: During the week, my typical day starts at around 4:45 am when I get up to workout. I work from home, so after my workout, I’ll log in to work from 6-7am. After that, I grab a shower, make breakfast and get my kiddos ready for school. Most days, I work for the entire time they’re in school, but I’ll do a half day Thursday and/or Friday which allows me some time to clean, run errands, grocery shop, etc. I get my kids off of the bus and then it’s usually homework until about 5 or 5:30pm. Once my husband gets home, we start dinner and have some family time before bed. Our weekends are a little less structured. My boys love playing dek hockey and going swimming, so that’s usually happening and we love spending time with our friends, too for game nights.
Because I’m going non-stop most days, at night, I had been finding myself feeling physically exhausted, but mentally unable to unwind. This year, I started incorporating meditating (even if just a few minutes a day a couple of times each week) to help clear my mind. It’s made a huge difference and I can tell when I’ve been slacking on that because those are usually the days I’m a big ball of stress. Sometimes we really do need to take the time to just slow down and simply breathe.
BELLABEAT: What does wellness mean to you?
KATE: My definition of wellness has changed quite a bit over the years. I used to equate wellness just with physical fitness. But our bodies are about so much more than that. I can look back on old pictures and may see somewhere I was in the best shape of my life, but mentally and emotionally, I was a mess. I now look at wellness more as a whole - physical, mental, emotional and spiritual. All of those components make us who we are and it’s so important to pay each of those areas the attention that they deserve.
Things like doing a workout that makes my body feel good, making sure I’m properly hydrated throughout the day, getting adequate sleep (ideally 8 hours a night but I consider it a win with 6-7), making time for prayer and meditation and really checking in with myself mentally are all things that I try to do every day.
BELLABEAT: Have any Bellabeat products helped with your wellness?
KATE: I came across Bellabeat in January 2016 in a Facebook ad. The Leaf Nature immediately caught my eye because it was just so beautiful and it didn’t look like what it was. I had gotten some money at Christmas and decided to treat myself to a Leaf. Once it arrived on my doorstep, I spent the next few weeks really testing it out and fell in love with it.
I had used different fitness trackers in the past, but this one really fit into my life because it was so low maintenance. I didn’t have to worry about charging it or being bombarded with notifications. It was just this beautiful piece of jewelry that I could wear a variety of different ways and sync to an app. Back then, it tracked my activity, sleep, breathing, and monthly cycles, but I love that the Bellabeat development team listened to customer feedback and now there’s also in-app meditations, water tracking, and stress predictions.
Bellabeat continues to be my wellness tracker of choice for a multitude of reasons, but mostly because they’re focusing on us women as a whole. It’s not just about how many steps we take in a day. By simply opening up my app and syncing my device (the Leaf was my original purchase but now I’m really loving my Time watch), I’m able to get a snapshot of my overall well being for the day and use that information to make some tweaks if need be. Perhaps I’m behind on my water goal, so that’s my cue to go fill my Spring smart water bottle and drink up. Or, if the day is feeling like it’s getting away from me and I’m super stressed, I can take 10 minutes out and do one of the in-app meditations (Soul is my fav) to calm myself down and re-focus.
BELLABEAT: How did your life change in the last 10 years?
KATE: So much has changed, but 2 major things come to mind.
First, was the birth of our boys. For as long as I can remember, I wanted to be a mom. And when that time came, it brought upon so many changes. My husband and I went from a family of 2 to a family of 4 overnight. Both boys had pretty bad acid reflux and torticollis, so on top of all of the normal newborn stuff, the boys were in physical therapy as well and I felt like all we did was do laundry and feed babies. The first year just felt like survival. Sometimes, during the day, my mom, sister or mother-in-law would come over during the day simply so that I could have some time to devote to taking care of me. Now, life is hectic in a whole different way because I have 8-year-olds instead of newborns. My boys are my biggest cheerleaders and I love them to pieces. Often they’ll come downstairs when I’m exercising and tell me what I great job I’m doing or if they see me struggling, they’ll shout, “you can do it, Mom!” Sometimes, they’ll even join me for a workout and I love that we can share that time together doing something healthy and positive.
The second was about 5 and a half years ago when my mom was diagnosed with cancer. That was a really rough time for me. My father had also passed away from cancer and it was just like a punch to the gut when my mom told me she had it, too. Thankfully, she had some really wonderful doctors and nurses and after chemo, radiation, and surgery, she’s now cancer-free and as feisty as ever. During that year, my faith and mental health were really tested. But my mom remained optimistic the whole time. She just kept telling me, “honey, I’m going to be fine.” Her positive attitude and outlook really resonated with me because she didn’t have great odds. Now, when I’m faced with challenges, I really try to adopt that same positive outlook to help get me through.
BELLABEAT: What do you still want to improve?
KATE: My physical fitness is something that I’m always striving to improve but my attitude about how I need to go about that has changed. Due to some injuries that I’ve sustained over the years, I can’t do what I used to be able to. That used to frustrate me to no end and for a solid year, I had the bad attitude of “well if I can’t work out like I used to, then why bother at all?” But, I finally came to my senses and realized that I need to focus on what I can do instead of dwelling on what I can’t. I want to make sure that I maintain this new attitude and in terms of my physical fitness, making sure that I’m doing what’s right for my body, not necessarily the popular new workout or what everyone else is doing.
In terms of what I want to change, my relationship with food has always been a struggle. I love food. I’ll eat when I’m happy. When I’m sad. When I’m stressed. When I’m bored. When I’m worried. I want to focus on taking the emotional aspect out of my eating. I want to create and refine healthy eating habits that include eating things that are going to fuel my body instead of making it feel sluggish. This past year, specifically, I’ve really been focusing on that. And while I’m not perfect and have had some emotional dates with a pint of mint chocolate chip ice cream, I feel like I’m finally getting a grasp on healthier eating habits and replacing those unhealthy ones with a healthy alternative.
BELLABEAT: How can we help make the world a better place?
KATE: I feel like this world is as divided as ever right now and it often feels like a scary place filled with a lot of hate and hurt. But we all have the capacity to be kind. Kindness is something that I really impress upon my kids so much. One small kind act can really have the ability to change the course of someone's day. Whether it’s opening a door for someone, showing up to a friend’s doorstep unexpectedly with a coffee or some flowers, shoveling a neighbor’s driveway, handwriting a thank you note, checking in with a friend who has been having a rough time or when in conversation with someone whose views you may not agree with, still listening to what they have to say and respecting their opinion. I think if everyone in this world extended more kindness and compassion, we would be in a much better place.
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For almost 3 years, I've been using this little piece of smart jewelry to help me keep track of different aspects of my health and wellness. The @Bellabeat Jenkins Leaf tracks steps/activity, sleep and monthly cycles. It can also predict stress response, has in-app meditations and you can also track water intake in the app. They're doing some fun giveaways for Christmas so be sure to check them out! #bellabeatgiveaway
BELLABEAT: Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
KATE: Oh gosh - I think this may be the hardest question.
From a relationship standpoint, I want to be getting ready to celebrate 21 years of marriage. Justin is my best friend and I’m so thankful that I get to do life with him by my side. Of course, there are times when we drive each other nuts, but at the end of the day, we are in this together and that brings me such happiness. Relationships evolve and change over time and just like anything else that’s important, you need to devote time to one another, encourage one another and love one another.
As a parent, I’ll have two young men on my hands that are getting ready to graduate from high school. It is my hope that they will have learned a good work ethic, manners, kindness, and a drive to pursue their passions, whatever those may be.
Both Justin and I have such great role models in our lives. I hope that by having a loving and happy marriage, letting the boys see how hard we work at our jobs, treating others with kindness and persevering through the hard days where maybe their dreams may seem out of reach, that they will be inspired and strive to imitate all of that and grow up to be determined, hard-working, well-rounded, well-mannered human beings.
Can you share an inspirational quote that you love?
"It is our choices that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities." -- J.K. Rowling