What is burn out!? My Story + What it Meant to me

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We’ve all been there, crying for no reason, feeling unbelievebaly overwhelmed and wrought with anxiety. We take it as it comes and hope it passes in a few days. But then it doesn’t.

A week later something else happens, and then a few days after that another meltdown and suddnely we start to question WTF is actually going on. Why can’t we handle life? Why can’t we handle our job, our relationships, working out, cooking meals, maintaining a home, paying bills and bathing like everyone else?!

Why are we the ones who can’t handle it all while everyone else seemingly floats on by through life?!

The fact is were all barely keeping our heads above water. Chaos and overwhelm are things this generation thrives on. Or *think* they thrive on.

We often forget we are not pre-programmed for all this. Our software is in the middle of being updated and we just expect to go from Windows 95 to Windows XP overnight (but really, what WIndows is even current these days?! #MacGirl). Never before have we been expected to do so many things in one day often with little or poor quality sleep and terrible fueling habits.

For me, burn out came through a few times. The last two incidents I can recall were both related to physical burn out and quite honestly, my job.

For the past three years I was a spin instructor and most recently left my “dream job” at SoulCycle. I say dream job in quotes because as an instructor that’s where you aspire to be, or atleast I did. So it was a pretty big deal I left so quickly.

I absolutely loved what I did (and still do!) but what I thought was something I could do for a few more years wound up being something I could only do for a few months.

Burn out manifests in a myriad of ways. It can be a chronic, unexplained pain, fainting and seriously injuring yourself, constantly sick, car accidents, inability to fall asleep (yet so damn exhausted all the time), loss of color in your face underneath the acne you never knew you had...you name it.

The reason why burn out takes so many different forms is because the universe, God, source, whatever you call THAT THING is trying it’s damnedest to get your attention. To tell you:

SLOW THE FUCK DOWN.

Now we’ll get into the scientific aspect of how your body actually becomes burnt out (or clinically called “adrenal fatigue” but I want you know that burning out is a gift from the powers that be. The signs were there right along but you may have chosen not to listen. The signals eventually had to pull some weight to get you wake up and realize what was happening so they gave you just enough of a nudge that you’d notice, but not enough where you’d die.

For me, after being bedridden with the Flu twice in two months (after months of not sleeping) I ignored the obvious signs and went head first into Soul training the day after my fever finally broke.

Fast forward through 5 weeks of training, I’m now teaching rooster classes an hour away from my home, 8pm classes in Manhattan and no days off. The adrenaline was great and I was excited! Tired! But oh so excited.

But the signs started creeping in. I would get caught in freak traffic that would prevent me from getting to class. I would forget theme rides, I would miss my alarm and race like hell to the studio.

These, my friends, are the little signs. These are precisely the things we chalk up to bad luck or forgetfulness or being a flake. But these are the subtle nudges from the universe that you are way outta alignment. This is the point when we need to make adjustments.

But we don’t, so I’ll go on.

After three months of these things happening repeatedly, I met...The Migraine.

I never had a migraine before so I was SURE it was sinus allergies. I’d self medicate with caffeine and only be mildly uncomfortable. Two days, three days...five days went by and only then did I think this was strange.

Eventually advil, Excedrin and even caffeine wouldn’t take the edge off. I couldn’t move and the pain on a scale of 1-10 was at an 11. Shit, like a thousand. I didn’t understand how the human body could be in so much pain and not die.

It got so bad that I was afraid to go to sleep at night because I knew I’d wake up with a migraine in the morning.

What I’m getting at here is how obvious it all seems in hindsight. But when you’re in it you can’t see that what your doing is anything exceptional. You go to the chiro, acupuncturist, you get a massage but nothing gives. You don’t think for a second that anything you’re feeling is due to your daily routine or habits or job or what you eat or how much you work out. Something is obviously just broke in your body and you need to fix it.

Wrong.

So on day 21 the pain got so bad I was convinced my brain was hemorrhaging. I (barely) drove myself to the emergency room and then it clicked.

As I layed there, moaning in pain in some dark room in the back of the ER I asked the universe, “How did I get here?!”

How did I, a health coach, a fitness instructor, young spiritual whateveryouwannacallit get to this place of pain and agony.

This wave of “knowing” came over me and without a shadow of a doubt I knew it was my rock bottom. I knew in that moment that the job I dreamed of, the way I was doing it, was not serving my highest good.

I knew all the signs I had ignored had been sent on purpose: I hit someone's car, I missed classes, people asked me if I was sick because I was gray all the time, I had a face full of preteen acne and I hadn’t slept 8 hours in 6 months.

I knew in that moment that I had to quit.

The doctors came in and ordered some IV pain relievers that took about 3 hours to kick in but could find no plausible reason for my migraines (as many usually don’t).

They ordered a CT and thankfully I wasn’t hemorrhaging (like I initially believed) and prescribed a follow up MRI which proved nothing either.

During my first conversation with the Neurologist later that week, his second questions to me was “what’s your sleep look like?” and there it was. After our conversation he was 90% sure it was from lack of a consistent sleep schedule. My circadian rhythm had no rhythm.

At the time, my schedule didn’t allow for consistent sleep. By the following week I was putting in my two weeks and the day I put in my notice I didn’t get a headache.

Or the following day or the day after that. The pain subsided by nearly half. It was like my body knew the rest was coming and it didn’t have to shout so loud.

I haven’t had a headache since my last week of teaching. I spent the entire summer sleeping eight hours a night, walking daily, fiercely protecting my adrenals from excess caffeine, inflammatory foods and let myself off the hook from anything causing stress.

I share this all with you in hopes that it makes you feel less alone and less like you are broken. Sharing your story is wildly uncomfortable (because who the eff cares?!) but also kind of cathartic. So thank you for allowing me this space to share.

Now, you may have been reading some of that and realizing some of those points resonated with you. That you may be in fact ignoring signs or currently in burn out.

If that’s the case I’d like to talk a little be about what chemically happens to you when you are in the thick of it.

ADRENDAL FATIGUE

Our bodies are blessed with instinctive knowledge of fight or flight. From our cavemen days we’ve learned to interpret stress as a threat.

When we experience something stressful, whether it be subconscious stress, financial stress, working-out-too-much stress, excess caffeine, etc., our bodies can’t tell the difference.

Immediately cortisol levels in your body (the hormone that supports fight or flight) spike in effort to help you make a quick decisions for survival. Your digestion shuts down, your blood pressure raises and stores of blood sugar move through the body.

This is helpful if you see a bear.

This is not helpful if you’re at your cubicle at work.


Excess release of cortisol in your body due to chronic stress (subconscious or environmental) causes weight gain (because your body thinks we might starve #survival), “tired but wired” feeling at bedtime, short temper, no-reason-cries and lowered immune system to name a few.

Usually we can do this for short bursts of time. A week, maybe a month (but we’ll probably get sick at some point) but release of excess cortisol over a prolonged period of time will result is adrenal fatigue. Your system has been burning at too high of a voltage for too long that it will need a reboot.

This is when you hit rock bottom, you burn out, have your dark night of the soul or “come to Jesus”...whatever you wanna call it.

But the beautiful thing about this is that this point usually brings immense introspection and reflection. We make change after this happens. We listen to our bodies. We treat them will empathy and compassion because we’ve been given no other choice.

Now if you’re in burn out right now, ask yourself when was the last time you took care of yourself? When was the last time you got 8 hours of sleep!? (And don’t hit me with that bullshit “I only need 6hrs of sleep.” 3% percent of the population only needs 6hrs, the odds are not in your favor...)

When was the last time you cleared your calendar of non-priority engagements so you could take a bath and get to bed on time? When was the last time you evaluated the current state of your life and the activities in it? Are they serving your highest good?


If you’re in burn out right now there are three things to do tonight to start digging your way out:

  1. Write a letter to yourself about your life at this very moment. What you love, what you hate, what you no longer want to do. Read it back to you and see what makes you feel that knot in your throat...and then make a plan to eliminate it or change it for the better.

  2. Take a bath. With epsom salt and magnesium and make it really luxurious and over the top. Soak and be still without your phone. Light a candle, get fancy. Afterwards put on fresh, clean pjs and get into bed without any electronics blaring in the background, leave your phone across the room and just breathe deep.

  3. SLEEP. Do whatever you have to do to get the best night’s sleep. Use essential oils, lower the temperature in the room, pull down the shades and sleep for 8 hours like your life depends on it (because it does).


If you want more tips on how to set yourself up for a perfect night’s sleep, grab a copy of my eBook here.

Yes, there are foods to eat, supplements to take + mindset shifts that need to take place as well but it all starts here. It’s way less complicated than we think if we just tune into our instincts.

If this was at all helpful, I’d love to hear your feedback. There is more to dissect here and hope to bring you more information each week!

With all the love + light,

Xx Kendall


ONE MONTH TO WELLNESS

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Throughout our conversations we’ve had on Instagram over the past few months I want you to know that I hear you, I see you and I am you.

I remember being so burnt out, emotionally all over the place and just trying to figure out what was “wrong” with me. I’d google my symptoms looking for answers when in reality I had the answers all along, I just needed to dig deeper. My acne, mood swings + chronic fatigue I thought were part of my personality. I had this constant negative self talk that was lazy + unfocused. 

Now, after a lot of trial and error, I feel clear headed and emotionally sound. Sure I have my days, but they’re far and fewer between. I feel like a fog has been lifted off of me and I’m finally learning who I really am.

Since my mission is to help as many of you either rebalance your hormones, lose weight or eliminate anxiety, I’m happy to announce I’ve opened up ONE MONTH, 1:1 coaching with me until the end of September.

It can begin as soon as you enroll and includes: 

-health history assessment

-4 weekly calls

-grocery lists

-my Balanced Babe ebook

-unlimited email/text access to me

…plus an optional grocery tour!

This is for you if you’ve been thinking about gaining support around some of your struggles but aren’t yet ready to commit to my 6-month program.

Space is limited and enrollment will only be available until Sept. 30th.

Cost of investment:

(2) Payments of $249 (excluding grocery tour)

OR

(2) payments of $299 WITH 3-hour grocery tour

If you’re seriously considering working together, I encourage you to fill out the form located at the end of this next page to apply!


 
 

Must Have Kitchen Items to Make #allthethings

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Recently, my (now) fiancé and I (that sounds so fancy and I’m still not used to calling him that, LOL!) finished renovating my childhood home we bought together back in December.

One of our favorite parts of the new house, and where we spend 90% of our time, is the kitchen. It’s literally our dream kitchen and I thank Tim everyday for bringing my vision to life. We still have some shelving to finish up but for the most part it's a fully functioning piece of art, (well, atleast I think so).

When we first moved into the house, we had nothing. We literally went out and bought 4 plates, a couple glasses and on set of utensils. Slowly but surely we’ve been able to add to the collection of kitchen items we needed.

Halfway through the summer, Tim finally got around to proposing (finallllllly!) and soon family + friends were generously sending us wonderful (+ helpful!) gifts to fill our cabinets!

Tim argued with me that we didn’t need most of it but after a few months he’s realized just how much proper equipment makes cooking a BREEZE!

Isn’t it the worst when you find a recipe you want to make, the pictures have your mouth drooling but then you read down through the instructions and it says “with a hand mixer blend ingredients…”, “sear each side in your cast iron pan…” or “fill your slow cooker and set to low for 8 hours…”

Nothing is more defeating than not having the right tools. You feel like a rookie and remind yourself, “this is why I don’t cook!”

So I thought I’d put together a list of things I feel are absolute necessities in any kitchen that will never go out of style or use. These are small investments but you’ll most likely never have to buy it again.

  1. Kitchen Aid Stand Mixer. Because you never think you’ll use one and then you get one and realize cooking, baking + making could’ve been a hell of alot easier with one of these guys. I’ve made batches of homemade pizza dough in this, Christmas cookies galore, whipped cream + pasta. You may be thinking “I’ll never make any of that” but you will. If you have the right tools.

  2. Le Creuset Dutch Oven. There are dutch ovens a plenty at every HomeGoods (and if you get lucky there may even be a Le Creuset hidden on a shelf) but this dutch oven is the perfect tool to make any kind of soup, meat sauce, chilli or even roast chicken! Plus it’s so pretty that I just leave mine out on the counter and stare at it adoringly. (I got a little gold knob for it too so she’s all dressed up.)

  3. Nespresso Machine. Now, this might not be a necessity depending on how seriously you take your coffee but I’m a BIG fan of my Nespresso machine my mom gifted us. I can make cappuccinos and lattes like the best starbucks barista around. Plus, since Tim doesn’t drink much coffee getting a regular ol’ coffee pot didn’t make much sense. (The half-caffinated pods are my favorite because the regular ones make me feel like Jessie Spano in Saved By The Bell. They have around 60 mg of caffeine vs >100mg.)

  4. Food Processor. This is another one of those things you think you’ll never use but then you go to make a fancy pesto and really wish you could but you can’t because you don’t have one. We got ours on Sunday and have already used it three times this week: to make homemade breadcrumbs (because we had none on hand) and to make that fancy pesto. They’re relatively inexpensive and something you’ll never have to replace most likely. Great for chopping up herbs, all kinds of pesto, sauces and rubs, to make breadcrumbs and slice and dice just about anything else.

  5. Nutri Bullet. The only thing better than a Nutri Bullet, in my opinion, is a Vitamix. But since a VItamix is not in our current budget our bullet does just as good of a job making my morning smoothies. If you are someone who loves a good, well blended protein shake, you must get yourself one of these. Get a high powered one however. It might cost you a few dollars more but it’s so worth it. Say goodbye to the days of clumpy smoothies and ill blended ingredients. Plus, if your not totally convinced on the food processor, you can make pesto and breadcrumbs in here!

  6. Electric Wine Opener. Yes, opening a bottle of wine with a corkscrew is just as well but makes it such a breeze it’s hard to go back. This is the best housewarming gift, or gift for any occasion for that matter. Plus for people that get intimidated with opening a bottle, this puts their mind at ease knowing it’s just one button!

  7. Cast Iron Pan. This is the money pan. We cook most of our meals in one of these guys (also, if you’ve never cooked your bacon in one of these you must! It gets so crispy, it’s delicious!) You’ll only ever need to buy one so make sure it’s a big one. These things get better with age (they season themselves the more you cook on them) and your food will becoming uniquely your own with a well-used cast iron pan.

  8. Slow Cooker. Now, I cannot lie, I’m a slow cooker novice. But the amount of recipes I’ve found for a slow cooker, the rave reviews I hear on the daily or set-it-and-forget-it type of cooking it allows, I don’t know wtf I’ve been doing all this time. We just got our delivered this week (after I found the one I wanted on MASSIVE sale) and I can’t wait to get my hands on it to whip up some chili this weekend.

KITCHEN ESSENTIALS

I think half the battle of learning to love the kitchen is in not having the right tools on hand. Imagine trying to build a house with a screwdriver and a hammer...it’s impossible! The same can be said for cooking in the kitchen.

Start small, scour HomeGoods for discounted finds, save up those Bed, Bath & Beyond coupons and get to it! The first meal you cook that goes off without a hitch because you have everything you need will crack open the inner Emeril Lagasse in you. I can see it now.

What are some of your favorite items in your kitchen?! We’re still building our collection in this new house of ours and would love to know what you can live without!

Xx Kendall

5 Ways to Heal Your Hormones

In May of 2017 I decided, on a whim, to go off of hormonal birth control. After listening to this interview something just clicked. The woman being interviewed didn’t even speak much about the Pill but it sparked something in me to question something I never had before.

Without much research, I decided that this last pack of pills would be my last. I didn’t get my next refill and the month of June was the first month I was off of birth control in quite a while.

I had been given a prescription for the pill like many other young women, to combat heavy, painful periods and to manage acne. No one ever discussed side effects or long term consequences the pill presents. I was actually excited for my prescription. I thought I’d finally get some boobs! (Sadly, I did not.)

Fast forward to being an adult woman in her mid twenties, I was increasingly interested in my “woman’s health”. I knew I wanted babies in the not-so-distant future and the horror stories I would hear of women having the most difficult time getting pregnant definitely freaked me out a bit.

So I consider June of 2017 the month I became a real woman.

There’s alot were not taught. Not by society, not by our doctors and definitely not in health class. I found myself at 26 years old googling what “ovulation” meant. True story.

...And that’s pretty much how I learned about my body. I googled. I read. I enrolled in a nutrition course that taught me even more about hormonal health. Slowly but surely I realized many of the things I thought we “broken” about me: low libido, moments of massive depression (the littlest thing would send me spiraling), panic attacks and brain fog. I always thought this was just the way I am, never once questioning this little pill I took every night.

After this year long experiment of self-correcting my hormones, I think I’ve finally figured out what works + what didn’t. Through hours of studying, reading, listening to expert holistic doctors on podcasts, to talking with doulas + midwives, to my nutrition curriculum I now want to shout this information from the rooftops!

...But since I don’t have a rooftop, a blog post will do.

If you are considering going off the pill sometime soon, following the steps below will help the adjustment be much smoother.

5 Ways to Heal Your Hormones

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  1. Get your gut right.

    Healing your gut + filling it with good bacteria is your #1 concern. Your microbiome (that’s the collection of good bacteria in your gut) controls the production of hormones. It’s directly connected to your endocrine system. Get yourself a good quality probiotic and fill up on fermented foods like full fat greek yogurt, sauerkraut, apple cider vinegar etc.

  2. Eat an anti-inflammatory diet.

    I know we wanna eat all the things and still feel and look amazing but the thing is you are what you eat. You eat low quality foods, you’re gonna feel like a low quality person. It’s just that simple. Clean out your pantry of any processed foods, conventional meats, gluten, soy and conventional dairy. Restock your pantry with organic, non processed foods, high quality meats + eggs and sheep’s milk products. The inflammation the other foods cause is what’s keeping you from living your best life.

  3. Supplement!

    Most of the time I suggest getting your vitamins from whole foods, but I don’t believe our food has enough nutrients (nor do we eat properly enough to get everything we need), so supplementing in this case I feel is totally fine. You will need to add good quality fatty acids. A fish oil for omega-3 and evening primrose oil for omega-6. Vitamin D3 if your aren’t getting direct, non-sunscreened sun light, you’ll need to take vitamin D. This vitamin is fat soluble so you’ll want to make sure you take it with some sort of fat to help make it available in your body!

  4. Sleep.

    If you do all the other things on this list you will still not be able to regulate your hormones without proper sleep. Your body uses sleep as a time to restore. It’s literally like your car being in the body shop. Proper sleep helps regulate the sympathetic (fight or flight) nervous system and parasympathetic (rest and digest) nervous system in your body. Our goal is to activate the parasympathetic nervous system most of the time.

  5. Reduce or eliminate stress.

    In order to active this parasympathetic nervous system, we must reduce our cortisol (the stress hormone that creates excess estrogen in our system when we’re producing too much). In order to do that we have to take a very practical look at our lives. What is causing the most stress? How can we reroute? How can we do to avoid it completely? What can we take off our plate?


For example, I followed this protocol for a year straight. My periods came back with a vengence and were just as painful and unbearable as I remembered them in high school after going off the pill. I was watching what I was eating, I was limiting my caffeine and making sure I was taking care of my gut…

But with my previous job, I taught upwards of 10 spin classes a week, keeping my cortisol levels unaturally high and prohibiting me from gaining any control of my hormones.

At the time I didn’t know it, so I pressed on.

Fast forward, I started teaching classes earlier in the morning, my sleep patterns started to change and I was averaging 6 hours of sleep per night. I got sick with the flu twice in two months but I still didn’t get the message.

Three months later I started experiencing massive migraines that lasted 26, twentyyyyy sixxxx, days in a row. Debilitating pain that put me in the hospital.

After all my studying and training I knew in my gut what was causing it. My job required me to be in overdrive at all times and made a steady sleep schedule nearly impossible.

To make a really long story short, the day I quit my job my headaches decreased by half and a week after the last class I taught I was sleeping through the night. The following month I experienced absolutely zero pre-menstrual pain and didn’t even realize I had gotten my period. This might not make much sense to you depending on where you are in your hormonal journey but this to me was the greatest gift in learning about my body. When given half the chance, the body will heal itself.

If you are experiencing severe PMS, suffer from PCOS, are struggling with infertility or are thinking of coming off hormonal birth control, I would suggest starting with these simple steps. It doesn’t have to involve fancy pills and potions, it’s just about coming back into your body. Trust your gut, you know yourself better than anyone else. Don’t let anyone make you feel like they know your body better than you.

And if you want some more steps on activating your parasympathetic nervous system, I wrote a 25-page eBook with detailed information on how to add balance back into your life. You can grab your copy here!

If you have any questions regarding the pill, hormones or are interested in working together one on one to help you regulate, send me an email at hello@kendallmariezoppa.com.

Happy hormone healing!

Xx Kendall

Holiday Gift Guides for the Hostess, Cook + Girl Boss

I’m back with two more gift guides to get you into the holiday spirit and (hopefully!) not waiting until the last minute to start your shopping. Whether it be gifts for your family, friends (or maybe just for you!) I hope these gift guides help give you some ideas!

Up first is my gift ideas for the hostess, entertainer, cook in your life! Some of these items I use myself (and love!) + others are going on my own wishlist. Keep reading for more info!

  1. Le Creuset 5.5 qt. Dutch Oven This is one of those items you most certainly need but will tell yourself you don’t because it’s a bit on the pricier side. But I have to say, this pretty little thing pays you back in dividends. You can make almost anything in it (think chili’s, stews, sauces, soups, etc.) it can go straight from the stovetop into the oven and is worth it’s weight in gold...and it’s mighty heavy I might add. PLUS, you can interchange the knobs. We’re in the middle of redoing my house + I can’t wait to get my hands on a white dutch oven with a gold knob 😍 It’s the little things in life, no?!

  2. Black Playing Cards I don’t know about you, but a wild Saturday night with my friends consists of drinking wine + playing games. These all black playing cards make you feel super chic + cool and would be the perfect stocking stuffer or hostess gift!

  3. Stacking Cacti Glasses I don’t even know if these need any explanation. They are so fun + casual yet they’re glass and will hold up well. I can already taste the delicious margarita’s they will soon hold. Perfect for the girl who loves tequila, a solid fiesta (+ siesta, of course) and observes Taco Tuesday each week.🌵

  4. Jo Malone London Lime Basil & Mandarin Scent Surround Diffuser GUYS. This. This is the smell of all smells. Literally, they put it in the lobby of the Bloomingdale’s by my house + I will stand there and breathe it allll in for ten minutes. It’s super fresh, but still smells like something, ya know what I mean?! Perfect for the friend who just moved + looking for a signature scent for her new digs. (Pick yourself up one too, once you smell it you’ll be hard pressed to actually give it away!)

  5. Bodum Chambord Copper 34 Ounce French Press I. Love. French pressed coffee. In my opinion, aside from an espresso machine, there is no better way to make coffee. You can adjust it to exactly how you like your coffee, strong, mild, weak...you name it! It gives it such a good flavor, if you haven’t tried it, treat yourself to a French Press this year and if you know how great it is, gift one to spread the coffee love. This copper one is eye catching + makes enough coffee for everyone!

  6. Marble + Brass Inlay Cheese Board I love anything with writing on it so it’s no question this cute cheese board gets on the list. I have a similar one from West Elm + its super durable and will keep the cheese nice + cold, not soggy + gross like wood does after a while. An inexpensive way to throw something cheeky + whimsical into a gift!

  7. Ullo Filter + Decanter I came across this wine filter on a Facebook ad one day + immediately bought it. It’s the only wine filter that removes sulfites without changing the taste of the wine! That means no more stuffy noses, wacky hangovers or wine headaches. Sulfites are responsible for all of that + more. But this filter does it’s job + now comes with an awesome decanter. Any wine lover will be thanking you for years to come for this!

  8. Polaroid Original Ok, so I know everyone’s all about the Instax (and I love it too!) but I was recently reintroduced to the goodness of an OG polaroid camera. It’s amazing. Takes the best pictures (with the greatest filter ever invented) and makes any moment way more fun. Think of a holiday party you’re attending this year, how much fun would it be to take pictures that actually get developed!? Take it old school this year.

  9. Vitamix Professional Series 750 Blender Clearly I’m having a copper moment but hear me out. This blender is the blender of all blenders. If you have a serious cook, wellness junkie, protein shake maker-extraordinaire, you best believe a Vitamix is at the top of their list. It can make soups, smoothies and sauces, has a quieter motor (so no more waking up the whole house in the morning) plus it can chop vegetables + doubles as a food processor. It does all the things. It’s a big ticket item but will win you big brownie points. Or smoothie points?

  10. Crosley Radio Cruiser Deluxe Turntable The last few months Tim + I have been going through my dad’s house that we’re redoing and had so much fun going through his record collection. We must’ve saved at least 50 records we deemed “ungiveawayable” to keep for ourselves. This item is at the top of our list, maybe juuuust behind a fridge, washer/dryer, stovetop, oven + dishwasher but we can’t wait to get our hands on one. We love that it looks super retro + creates a super cool vibe. Any music lover will appreciate an eclectic item like this!
  11. Cuisinart Commercial Wine Opener My mom literally gets this wine opener any time she has to bring a gift somewhere. It’s always a hit, relatively inexpensive + works great if you pair it with a nice bottle of wine! We’ve had ours for years + it has yet to let us down. No more fussing with a corkscrew or breaking the cork + ruining the wine, this is a game changer!

 

 

 

I could easily make this list 50 items long but I tried to contain myself. There’s just so much any entreprenuer, soloprenuer, girl boss, mom boss, your boss’ boss needs to make her day easier.

These are a few of the items I thought would make amazing gifts for the woman on a mission in your life!

  1. The Future is Female What better way to show her you support her + her dreams than slappin’ it on a pillow?! This cute, empowering throw pillow is the perfect gift (and reminder!) to show the girl boss in your life how much you believe in her + her dreams.

  2. The Day Designer This is the bible for any female hustlin’ to do #allthethings. I’ve purchased this planner three times already + have no plans on changing. It gives you one full page for each day (yes, it’s enormous but you’ll love it) and all the space to write your to do list + keep everything organized. It’s a quality planner + will not break or budge getting thrown around a bag.

  3. U Brands White Board Calendars I have four of these guys hanging over my desk to help me plan content, events + ideas and be able to look ahead a few months at a time. They’ve got a gold frame so they’re office chic. The white board allows you to plan, re-plan and then plan some more. The blogger/side hustler will love this!

  4. bkr 1L Bottle I’m not a fan of drinking out of plastic and your girl’s gotta stay hydrated. These glass bottle from bkr are overly instagrammable yet functional at the same time. No tough mouth pieces to clean, just simple glass. The silicone outer layer makes them easy to carry! Perfect for the girl on the go!

  5. Laptop Stand If you spend hours at the computer and wind up with an achy neck and knots in your back, this might be the answer. This laptop stand raises the height of your screen to eye level so you put less strain looking down. It’s a game changer. Your chiropractor will thank you!

  6. Mophie Case I’ve been putting off getting myself one of these forever. My phone is always dying (I’m sure you know someone in the same situation) and currently has zero case on it. Between checking emails, posting to instagram, and handling all things social, I’m rarely in the same place long enough to charge my phone so this would be perfect! Think I’ll be treating myself to one of these as soon as I get my hands on the new iPhone!

  7. Sony Alpha a6000 For the budding blogger in your life, this gift will likely be a Christmas, birthday, anniversary gift all rolled into one. Though not the most expensive camera, it’s definitely on the pricier side. The beauty of this one is that it’s compact, it’s lens is interchangebale, it connects to your phone via wifi + has a flip out screen. I currently have a Canon Eos Rebel which is one of the smallest DSLRs out there. I definitely don’t need a new camera at the moment but when I do, this is my first purchase! It’s small enough to take with you everyone so you don’t miss a moment!

  8. Go Getter Mug Like I said before, I love a good saying plastered across a shirt, a pillow or cheese platter. This mug is part of a series from West Elm and the other sayings are just as cute. Every girl boss needs her go-to coffee mug, this could be it!

  9. All Day Tote 26L This tote is perfect for taking you from the gym to work and out for drinks. It has a laptop sleeve to keep your computer safe on the go, has all the compartments for #allthethings, plus it black, looks super chic and doubles as a purse! It will be the “it” bag for the girl boss on your list.

  10. Sony Premium Noise Canceling Headphones These headphones might be pricey but the noise canceling feature allows you to work anywhere without distractions. Whether it be at a noisy coffee shop or trying to focus in your home office, the right playlist and noise canceling headphones will get the job done!

 

Hope these gift ideas were helpful + you find the perfect gift for those on your list this year! Remember, as always, it’s the thought that counts! Taking the time to think of the recipients interests will go a really long way!

 

 

 

Happy Holidays + happy shopping!

 

 


Xx Kendall

 

Holiday Gift Guides for Wellness + Fitness Junkies

I”m SO pumped the holiday season is in full swing + I can finally listening to Christmas music without people telling me to turn it off. Ha!

So in the midst of my food coma + on the heels of Black Friday, I felt like putting together some holiday gift guides for the babe on your list ths year just in time for some Cyber Monday deals.

From budget friendly to bigger ticket items, I know there is something on here for the go-getter in your life! Most of these items I use myself or I’ve added to my own wish list this year (*hint hint*).😂

If gift-giving is your favorite thing to do, you’ve come to the right place!

Up first we have the Holiday Gift Guide for the wellness obsessed in your life! Keep reading to find out why I love these items + how I use them in my life!

 

  1. The Five-Minute Journal This item is #1 on my list becuase I truly believe an attitude of gratitude changes your whole life. I use this system in the app version on my phone (because I’m a gypsy child + remembering to bring yet another book around with me isn’t happening lol!). The app follows the same formula for writing down things you’re grateful for + a daily affirmation. I do believe, however, that putting pen to paper makes it even more powerful. Once I can park myself in one place for a while I’ll definitely be switching over the hard copy!

  2. Moon Juice Shop Moon Dust Sampler These adaptogenic superherbs + mushrooms help support your brain, skin + the overall nourishment of your body. Think beauty dust, sleep dust, brain dust...you name it! By using the sampler pack you can find your favorite! I love the brain dust but am excited to try the others!

  3. HImlayan Sea Salt Plug-in Lamp I recently experienced my first salt therapy session and let me tell you, it’s the real deal. More than a handful of people commented on how amazing my skin looked in the days following, I could breathe more clearly + honestly felt my body vibrate at a higher frequency. (I shit you not my friend…). SO if you don’t live near a salt spa (but I’m sure you do, just google...I live near 3 and had no clue!) filling your home with salt lamps is the next best bet. I love this one because it’s small + doubles as a night light. The salt changes the ionic composition of the air around + has tons of positive effects on your body!

  4. Slip Sleep Set THIS. This is it my friends. Think of how long you sleep on your pillow each night?! Sleeping on a silk pillowcase is less abrasive than sleeping on a regular cotton or synthetic fabric. It’s slippery nature ensures you won’t wake up with pillow lines on your face (aiding in the production of more wrinkles 🙄 + an embarrassing commute) and helps prevents hair breakage. Plus, the eye mask is perfect for a quick power nap + is equally soft around your eyes! Win-win!

  5. Mario Bedescu Facial Spray The facial spray to end all facial sprays and did I mention its $7!? Perfect stocking stuffer or add-on to any gift you you give this season! This spray is super hydrating, smells divine + leaves skin feeling dewy (not oily!) all day long. With rosewater + aloe this is a must have beauty cabinet product.

  6. RMS Living Luminizer A friend of mine told me about RMS Beauty in my search for clean beauty products. So far RMS is as clean as I can find + have used. They use food-grade organic ingredients + nothing synthetic or chemical. Their products are meant to be blended + used together. This is the first product of theirs I’ve used + I LOVE it. I use it as highlighter, eye shadow + even a little bit on my lips. Check out their other products + you won’t be disappointed.

  7. Meditation Set I’ve been meditating pretty consistently for the last four months + have noticed such a shift in my mental clarity + stress, it’s amazing! I saw this cute little set + now it’s on my list. It comes with a pillow + eye mask perfect to travel with or set up somewhere in your home to make daily meditation something to look forward to! Whenever I get my hands on this thing I’m setting it up in the sunniest spot in the house (my favorite place to do any meditation).

  8. OIl Diffuser This has been one of the favorite additions I’ve made to my wellness routine this year. I use it all day when I’m home + every night before bed. It’s one of those things you didn’t know you *needed* until you got one + now you’ll never be without it.

  9. Liquid Sunshine, Well Being, Immune These are just a few of my favorite essential oils. Liquid sunshine smells like just that...sunshine. I use this during the day + to help focus when I’m doing work. It’s invigorating + energizing (and helps winter feel less wintery). Well being (with a couple of drops of lavender!) is my go to for relaxing. It has neroli in it which I love + helps me fall asleep quickly! Immune is another favorite that has eucalyptus + helps with stuffy winter days and congestion.

  10. Ritz Carlton Robe If you care about anyone in your life, get them this. This robe is IT! I got this for my birthday after falling in love with it after staying at the hotel. Each time, I would find myself sleeping in it and never wanting to taking it off. Now I SO look forward to my night time routine when I shower + lounge around in it for a couple of hours. It’s a little pricey but so SO so worth every penny!

 

Up next is the Holiday Gift Guide for Fitness Junkies! There are endddddless fitness gifts to get the workout warrior in your life, these are just a few of the staples everyone with an exercise routine should have.

  1. Athleta Gym Bag I love anything camo + Athleta has this awesome blue + white camo print that I love! This bag has tons of pockets + places to organize all the things you need to get from workout to going out!

  2. Foam Roller The love/hate relationship I have with my foam roller is REAL. As a spin instructor, my hamstrings + calves are always tight. Foam rolling is extremely important for anyone that works out a lot or does a lot of repetitive motions (read: spinning) as it works out tight muscles, moves lactic acid build up + leaves you feeling like a ball of mush.

  3. Hydro Flask 40 oz. This is the best water bottle for workouts + daily life. It keeps any liquid cold for up to 24 hrs and hot beverages hot up to 6 hrs. Its extra large (this option is jsut over a liter) so you’ll have more than enough water for before during + after your workout. Plus it has a flip top straw (makes it super easy to drink from one handed) + hook for easy carrying.

  4. Beats X Beats by Dre For those who opt for solo workouts, these headphones are perfect. They’re wireless (but like not those silly buds you’ll lose in two seconds) AND they’re matte gold. I mean, I wouldn’t even care if the quality wasn’t that good because they’re just so damn cute, but to top it off they’re Beats! And, the reviews on Amazon are great!

  5. Nutri Bullet Rx For any fitness, wellness, food lover, the Nutri Bullet is a must have for smoothies, protein shakes, dressings + sauces. It can literally do all the things. This version is more powerful + has sturdier cups that come with handles! My nutri bullet is rounding almost 10 years old + I’m itching for an upgrade. Plus, this one is on a serious sale!

  6. Spiritual Gangster Warrior Hoodie This is the perfect top to throw on before or after the gym. It completes that whole “athleisure” look. I’m a sucker for any kind of graphic tee and I love how this one says ‘Warrior’, it feels fierce + I love it!

  7. Lululemon Namastay Mat I’ve been in the market for a great new yoga mat + just stumbled upon this new one from Lulu. They seriously do make the best mats + I’ve been eyeing up their “the Big Mat” for while (since I’m tall + my legs usually need more room 😂) but I think I might like this one better. It’s made from natural rubber, Luvea, and is sustainably sourced!

  8. Dynaflyte 2 by Asics Finally Asics offers a black + white sneaker. Lol. Asics have been my favorite sneakers for a while for comfort + performance but hated how I could never find a neutral style. I think these may be it! Great for running, training and all around life on the go. These are going on my list too!

  9. Alo Yoga Moto Leggings These are the super popular, not-just-for-yoga pants that everyone needs. They come in a ton of colors (obv I just like black) + can be dressed up or down. Athleisure closet staple.

Hope these ideas helped you get started on your holiday shopping for the season! Remember, when shopping for gifts, the thought always counts. Taking time to think of what the person really enjoys + showing interest in their hobbies means more than any price tag.

Do yourself a favor + don't wait until the last minute this year. No one needs the added stress!

Take some time this week + write down who you want to buy for this year, what your budget is + their areas of interest. Then, as you go about your days, you'll find gifts that will stand out from the crowd + help you with your shopping! 

Check back on the blog tomorrow for two more holiday gift guides: one for the girl-boss in your life + one for the hostess/entertainer/cook extraordinaire! 

Happy shopping!

Xx Kendall 

 

 

 

 

3 Steps to Knowing What Your Worth

Working for yourself might be your ultimate dream, but with that comes alot of loose ends you may never have thought about. One being: knowing how much you are worth. 

As we continue the conversation around the women wage gap I can’t help but want to interject a little piece of perspective. 

Did you ever think the wage gap might be so large because women generally have under priced themselves for quite awhile? They are usually conditioned to not speak up about issues related to pay (for fear of seeming “greedy” or "pushy") or flexible work time. 

In the corporate world, this is a borderline epidemic. I heard a staggering statistic from a speaker at Create & Cultivate earlier this year that struck a chord with me...

Out of all of the people this woman hired in the past year, an almost equal men to woman ration, every single one of the men counter offered the company’s initial offer. The craziest part…not a single woman did. 

Not one. 

Not one woman counter offered! HOW EVEN?! 😤

To me that says two things: woman are unsure of how to speak up in this regard AND they also unsure of how much they’re actually worth.

And you know who determines that? YOU do.

So this past weekend with this last full moon in Taurus (which asks us to dig deep into self-worth) I go to thinking a little bit more on this topic. 

One of the things I love working on with coaching clients is self-worth. Part of that has to do with pricing their services/products but the other part is aligning the value they place on themselves with their income. 

Time = money and money = energy, right?!

Why do you think we feel so beaten down and uninspired when we go to a job where we feel we’re under paid? Do we perform at our best? Do we put our best effort forward? Are we a better team player?

....it’s gonna be a no from me dawg. 

We exchange the energy relative to what we are being paid.

If you were paid what you believe you are worth, do you think you’d do a better job? Exceed expectations? Become a valued member of the team? 

Uh, duh.

So, if you’ve been struggling with knowing how much you are worth, how much to charge clients or ask for in salary meetings…let’s walk through a little exercise, shall we?!

This is an exercise I went through with my coach and now I use it with my own clients. It works whether you are salary based, freelance, or project based—stick with me.

Step #1
How much, in your life right now, would you want to earn per hour to feel adequately compensated for what you bring to the table?

Now, don’t worry about how much money a company has in their budget to pay you or how “tough” it may be to find a job. This is about you and you only. 

Got a number?

My guess is it’s too low. How does it feel when you say that number? Do you feel excited or just ehh? 

If you don’t feel excited (and slightly scared!) the number is too low. Say a few different numbers until your body and mind have a pleasant reaction (that's your intuition telling you you’re right!).

Step #2
Now add 30%. This is for tax. 

Remember, we already decided on the number that feels the best, so how would it feel when 30% is taken out of that to pay taxes?! Not so great.

Factor that in and now you have your new number.

Step #3
To find your salary amount, multiply that number by 40 hours. If it’s project based, multiple it by how many hours each project takes.

With projects make sure you add buffer time to cover anything that should come up unannounced.


So, how does that feel? Does that number excite you? Does it make you feel in control? Do you feel lit up thinking about getting paid that amount?

If you don’t feel excited, try the exercise again until you do!

When we flip the script and decide WE are the ones that dictate our worth, our whole world changes. We start recognizing the value in others and graciously paying handsomely for services because we understand that time = money = energy. And I don’t know about you but I don’t want anyone with bad energy working for me!

Talking money can feel uncomfortable but the more we open up the conversation the easier it gets.

Between my time in corporate, freelancing and taking on coaching clients, I’ve had a lot of practice at valuing myself. I’ve had a great teacher in my mother who is a master negotiator and someone who preaches to monetize YOUR assets. Now I’m able to confidently command what I’m worth (note: not demand. there’s a difference) and feel integrity around what I charge. 

I challenge you to feel the same! Step out of your comfort zone and explore what is like to be compensated for your skills, your personality and the light you bring to the table. It is valuable.

Don’t worry about pricing yourself out of a job (because you may!) another one is right around the corner will to pay you what you’re worth. If you are self-employed or freelance, be sure to reevaluate your rate every few months. What new things have you learned? Skills you’ve picked up? That all adds up. 

If this is something that you've been struggling with and you'd love to gain some clarity on I'd be happy to hop on a call together to figure it out. Sometimes there's more to it then a number. Sometimes it's feeling you deserve what your worth. Money blocks are real. But they can be removed! 🙌🏽.

Shoot me an email or leave a comment and let me know what you feel you’re worth! Put it out into the universe, you deserve it!

 

 

All the hug + high vibes 🙌🏽

Xx Kendall 

 

My 3 Go-To Morning Smoothie Recipes

Hey guys! I’ve been taking it easy this last week spending time offline to reset, reflect + refocus. I’m feeling a *bigger* digital detox here on the horizon. Some people I know have been raving about it’s benefits! (Couldn't we all use a break?!)

So, in the meantime, I thought I would talk about something simple I get asked about ALOT. Whether it be at Cycler, friends or people I meet throughout my day, everyone always wants to know what each other eat’s for breakfast. 

I think we’ve all become aware of how fueling up in the morning impacts our whole day. And for me, I’ve come along way from eating everything bagels with cream cheese and a diet coke in high school. (You can find out a little bit more of my food journey here.)

Once I got into college I was introduced to Isagenix through the family I babysat for. This was like the OG Isagenix, before instagram, before fit models and all that jazz. I started drinking protein shakes in the morning (mainly out of laziness) and found my energy levels change, my body change, I was stronger and had real muscle tone for the first time in my life.

Ever since then protein shakes and smoothies have been my go-to morning fuel. 

For me, something easily digestible that packed a nutrient punch feels good in my stomach. Big heavy breakfasts I save for later in the morning or for lunch (or obv, brunch).

So today I thought I'd share some of my favorite, good-for-you recipes that will turn your mornings around. From brain fog + groggy by mid-morning to full + happy until lunchtime.

These recipes get me through teaching one (sometimes two) 50 minute Cyclebar classes and are jam packed with nutrient-dense superfoods. 

What are superfoods?! I’m so glad you asked!

They are foods that have higher concentrations of antioxidants (you know, those things we can’t get enough of) vitamins + minerals. They are foods that have been around forever + have proven track records to be good for your overall health + well being.

The beauty with these recipes is that they are EASY! The base is always the same, but the flavors are all different. When you get the base of the smoothie down it’s easy to play around with different add-ins! And I use my tried + true Nutri Bullet blender for it all. 🙌🏽


You know I eye ball the ish out of this so I’m using my best guesses at the measurements. The brands I love (+ trust) are linked below.

It goes a little something like this:

SUPER SMOOTHIE BASE

-Enough unsweetened Almond milk, Coconut Milk, Coconut Water, Alkaline water (whatever floats your boat)
-15g plant-based protein or collagen protein (depending on the smoothie I’ll use chocolate or vanilla)
-2tbsp chia seeds
-3tbsp hemp seeds
-1tbsp MCT oil
-1tsp Maca powder
-5 or 6 ice cubes
-1tsp local bee pollen (optional)

There’s your base.

Right off the bat you’re talking about nearly 30 grams of protein (chia seeds + hemp seeds both are great sources of fat AND protein). If that seems too much, drink half before your workout + the other half after. Or drink half + put the rest in the fridge for a quick snack later in the day. The MCT oil contains tons of good-for-you fats that keep you full and your brain functioning at high frequency all morning. 

Bee pollen is something new I’ve added to my smoothies after one of my best friends bought me some for my birthday (she knows me too well 😂). According to Dr. Axe, who I refer to as my primary care physician, these are the benefits of bee pollen

“Bee pollen is wonderful for natural allergy relief and is responsible for the many health benefits of raw honey. It’s rich in vitamins, minerals, proteins, lipids and fatty acids, enzymes, carotenoids and bioflavonoids — making it an antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral agent that strengthens the capillaries, reduces inflammation, stimulates the immune system and lowers cholesterol levels naturally.”
 

Sounds pretty good to me, right?!

So now for the fun stuff.

GREEN GODDESS

(because, how cliche?! + it really does make you feel like a goddess)

This smoothie recipe is adapted from one fo my favorites that I was introduced to at my old gym Lifetime FItness (though it shouldn’t be referred to a gym so much as it should be called a “compound”, “country club”, “fortress” maybe? Anyone have one by them!? They are bananas.)

Anywho, this smoothie was my first experience with kale (like, whaaaa?!) and it showed me that greens can taste BOMB! I love it because unlike juicing, you get all the fiber + goodness that comes from the whole leaf/fruit. 

Add to a vanilla protein smoothie base the following:
-1 big handful of kale
-1 big handful of spinach
-½ avocado (or a whole one if they're teeny)
-5 or 6 frozen mango chunks (probably half of a fresh mango)

This smoothie has packed nutrients from the kale + spinach, extra fats from the avocado (my body does better on a high fat diet, maybe yours does too!), plus a little carbs + sweetness from the mango. It tastes amazing and you’re starting your day with a full serving of greens! What could be easier?!

For the chocolate lovers out there like myself, this next one squashes your chocolate craving like nothing else! Its packed with superfoods like cacao + cherries and also sneaks in a serving of greens without you even knowing it.

Cherries + chocolate go to together like peanut butter + jelly. You’ll feel totally indulgent with this smoothie but you’ll be happy knowing you’ve gotten in a full serving of greens plus tons of antioxidants. 

Now notice in the recipe below I wrote CACAO (ca-cow) and not COCOA. There’s a major difference. One is processed + full of sugar and the other is the superfood that you want. Raw cacao is full of iron, magnesium AND calcium plus it’s a natural mood lifter + contains neurotransmitters that chemically (naturally) help lift your mood. Pretty cool shit, right?!

If that wasn’t enough, cherries are also filled with antioxidants + are also anti-inflammatory and help in muscle recovery (great shake for post workout!). They also contain melatonin + helps with sleep! (but it doesn’t make you sleepy, you know what I mean?!)

If you’re a chocolate fiend like me, check this out:

CHERRY CHOCOLATE + CHOC FULL OF GREENNESS

Add the following to a chocolate-protein smoothie base:
-1 big handful of spinach
-2 tbsp of raw cacao powder (makes it super chocolatey)
-1 tbsp of cacao nibs
-Enough frozen pitted cherries (again, here, eyeball it. 1 cup usually does the trick)
-Cinnamon to cover the top 

This next one is my favorite for its brain boosting goodness. It’s packed with blueberries which are good for you eyes + brain (they look like eyes don’t they?! Coincidence? I think not🤔) plus its one of the most antioxidant dense foods (clearly can’t get enough)!

Make sure on your next trip to Whole Foods or TJ’s you pick up a big ol’ pack of blueberries. They’re all great to grab a handful on the go!

For this smoothie, you can add the following to either a vanilla or chocolate protein base:

-1 handful spinach
-1 handful kale
-1 cup of blueberries (or a handful)
-1 banana
-1 tsp manuka honey (optional -- but another great superfood!)

Depending on the ripeness of the berries and banana, this smoothie comes out bright purple! SO fun. 

SO! There you have it.

Three simple superfood smoothie recipes to start your mornings on the right foot + keep you full until lunch! No more hangry outbursts (your coworkers will thank you) + you’ll feel so energized and proud you took time to fuel + nourish your body the right way!

If you are subscribed to my newsletter, I sent out a few additional recipes! If you're not signed up yet, pop your email in below (I promise, always content...no spam) and I'll make sure you get the others!

I’m always looking for new smoothie recipes so if you have any you love, let me know! Comment below with your favorite smoothie combo + I'll definitely give it a try!

 

Hugs + High Vibes ✌🏼

xo Kendall 

What I Learned From Competing at Miss New Jersey USA

This past weekend, I competed in my fifth, yes FIFTH, Miss New Jersey USA pageant. This is the preliminary round before going to the Miss USA stage. 

If you would've told me years ago that I'd be competing in a pageant (let alone competing 5 times) I would've laughed at you so hard.

It was so not me or anything like anything I'd ever done. But at the time the pageant was owned and run by NBC and as a recent broadcasting graduate, it seemed like a good way to get my foot in the door. 

Fast forward four years and I can honestly say it was one of the greatest decisions I've ever made in my life. Through it all I learned so much about myself, what I was capable of and discovered my passion for coaching!

The first order of business once I signed up for the pageant in 2013 was to hire a pageant coach, a trainer and an interview coach. I embarked on an amazing journey of personal growth and development. If only everyone took this opportunity!

Yes, the goal was to win at Miss NJ USA but who I became in the process is entirely more valuable and important than any sash or crown. 

So, since this year marked my final year of eligibility (aka I'm too old to compete anymore🙄) I thought I'd reflect on what I learned over the years and my biggest takeaways from the whole experience. 

SELF-AWARENESS

Probably the biggest life lesson I’ve learned from competing at Miss New Jersey USA for the past four years (five competitions!) has to be self-awareness. Very few jobs or experiences in life force us to look at our lives as objectively than having someone give you unbiased feedback about who you perceive yourself to be and who you actually SHOW UP as. 

Body language, mannerisms, realizing you say “like” every third word or that you cut people off mid-sentence...we all have a perception of who we think we are, but unfortunately without some deep work, what you believe you are putting out there may be the opposite of what’s being received on the other end. 

You may believe you’re outgoing and friendly but what’s coming across is inauthentic and obnoxious. Now, your family, friends or coworkers may never dare tell you this, but a pageant coach certainly will. (And your family and friends alike are eternally grateful.)

But there's a fine line between objective, honest FEEDBACK and ill-intended, subjective criticism.

You’ve got to be vulnerable enough to know there is always room for improving, but sure of yourself enough to know when something is simply just not true. 

Body language in pageants (and life!) is HUGE.

From the way you sit to the way you stand and the way you walk down a runway. Yes, in the big scheme of things, this seems trivial, but it’s taught me how to carry myself in a way that makes me feel confident and sure of myself walking into any situation.

Whether it be an interview, a meeting or a networking event, I’m always aware of my body language and what my body is saying on my behalf before I even open my mouth. 

Self-awareness is probably the hardest and most uncomfortable thing to attain but THE MOST necessary tool for success in life. Between the pageant itself and the coaching in preparation for it, I’m in a constant feedback loop. I'm always asking "how could I have handled that better?", "what about me drives you crazy?", "what can I do to be better?".

Some of these questions are hard to hear the answers to, but the twinge you get in your stomach when you hear an brutally honest response is just your ego being bruised…it won’t kill you and likely you’ll be better for it! 

Fear.

Getting on stage in front of hundreds of people you don’t know, to strut around in a bikini (while balancing on 6in. platform heels), can be someone’s worst nightmare. The funny thing is, for most of the girls that sign up, that IS their worst nightmare…yet they showed up anyway to tackle their fears head-on. 

Now, being a Leo and an only child, you give me a stage, spotlight and a microphone and I couldn’t be happier.

But the funny thing about it, though, is that everyone up there is nervous. It’s human nature when you're front and center for ridicule and judgement (whether you’re in a pageant or not!) that you wanna shit your pants. People fear public speaking more than death, and I'm not surprised. 

That being said, if everyone’s nervous, then everyone’s nervous. You’re not alone. Some people hide it better than others. I tend to trick myself into believing I’m totally calm, cool and collected. 

But that’s what’s awesome about fear. You can trick your mind out of it. Someone once said to me fear stands for False Experiences Appearing Real and I love that. I’ve used it ever since. 

Any job I do requires me to stand in front of a crowd of people and talk or perform, so had a lot of trial and error and practice at this but you can totally hack fear with the right mindset.

When I’m new at something, I convince myself I’ve been doing it forever, I start acting like a veteran, almost putting on a different and more experienced persona (a la Beyonce's Sasha Fierce) You know, the whole “fake it till ya make it” thing…it actually works. 

Tips for managing fear and calming nerves:

    1.    Meditation. You knew this was coming, right?! Meditation helps you retake the reins of your brain. Without it, it’s hard to understand just how much of your mind you have control over.
    2.    Affirmations. Like I mentioned above, telling yourself you are not nervous, or scared or fearful has a much bigger effect than you might think. Little phrases like “I’m cool, I’m confident, I know what I’m doing, I’ve got this!” and just repeating it over and over reaffirms your mind and relaxes your nervous system.
    3.    Public speakers all over use a little something-something called Lemon Balm Extract to help calm nerves before big presentations. Whether it’s psychosomatic or not is up to what you believe. A few drops under the tongue does wonders to take the edge off!
    4.    No caffeine. Nothing compounds nerves like caffeine. For anything particularly nerve-wracking, your body’s adrenaline will produce plenty of energy for you to carry out whatever you are setting out to do. You do not need caffeine. Ok, one more time, YOU DO NOT NEED CAFFEINE. It will make you jittery and you won’t know why you are feeling all weird and like you wanna throw up, etc. And yes, tea is still caffeine (unless it's herbal!). Stick to hot water and lemon before anything like a pageant, interview or any major life event where you need to keep your shit together.

WOMEN

Women are tricky, tricky beings. But, since competing in this pageant I feel like I’ve developed a better understanding of different kinds of women, especially young women. We speak about empowerment and sticking up for one another, yet when you pit one woman against another, it’s nothing but fire. 

The first few years competing I couldn’t understand why everyone wasn’t friendly (read: why wasn't everyone just like me). Some girls were outgoing and some girls wanted nothing to do with me. I used to think they must just be bitches and rude. Um, no, Kendall...they might just be shy and trying not to lose their cool. 

Women are funny (aren’t we though?! 💁🏼) we make assumptions of each other without taking the time to get to know one another. What I’ve learned is to practice some compassion.

Every girl processes things differently and just because she doesn’t want to talk doesn’t mean she’s mean or cold. It could be that she’s actually an introvert and this whole experience is terrifying or she could have really solid boundaries and wants to focus and maintain her energy. And then other times, yes she could just be rude butttt she deserves some empathy too!

Moral of the story, don’t judge a queen by her resting bitch face. 

ASK THE TOUGH QUESTIONS

One of the more interesting things I discovered along this journey of rhinestones and butt glue is that digging deep gets you where you wanna go. What I mean by digging deep is asking yourself some open ended, tough, big picture questions. 

I use this technique with coaching clients because I believe it cracks open the door to your best life. And not just answering them in your head, but having to articulate them in complete sentences that someone else will eventually read. It’s scary as hell but oh so gratifying.

Answer these following questions in complete sentences:

What’s you biggest ambition in life?

What are three words you’d use to describe yourself?

What would it mean to achieve your biggest goal?

How would this change your life?

What was the best advice you’ve ever been given?

These are just a few examples of questions that get you thinking. We rarely ask ourselves reflective questions and I promise you there is a lot to learn from yourself!
 

HOW TO LOSE

If there's one thing I'm good at, it's being told "NO."

For as long as I can remember, I've been told "no" when pursuing a dream. Whether it was when I was 13 years old at my first modeling open call and told I was too tall for their "girls" division or later when I was given a chance to test for a *major* modeling agency at 16 just to be shown the door yet again.

I subsequently went on 50 other open calls/auditions/call backs for countless other things just to be snuffed at and told denied once again. I was relentless. The ratio of No's to Yes's I've been given in my life are 500 to 5. 

I've perfected being rejected. I've become resilient in the face of opposition as a survival mechanism. Otherwise I'd be curled up in hopeless, self-loathing ball otherwise. It's like a muscle you keep flexing. And if you throw enough shit against the wall something will stick. But nothing taught me how to lose quite like almost winning. 

Two years ago at this very pageant I placed 2nd runner up. 

And nothing was harder than that moment. Getting so close you could taste it then being crushed when you hear it's not actually yours. 

That year I learned about the art of losing. It helped me understand the attachment I had toward that particular goal, it taught me how to save face when all you want to do is cry and it showed me that life goes on even if the worst case scenario plays out. 

So for all the years I competed and placed in the semi-finals, nothing pushed me to grow more than coming in...third. 

And in all the trials in life, we have to understand the universe is always working with our greatest good in mind. For me, my greatest good wasn't to become Miss New Jersey. It wasn't to become a model and apparently it wasn't to become the new host of Good Morning America (the no's I got from TV somehow out weigh them all!).

I've learned to release my white knuckle grip on my dreams and let the universe do it's thang.

It's, like, way funner that way anyway. 💁🏼

Ultimately I've come to appreciate how pageants have taught me the importance of coaching and seeking help from those who have been where I want to go. It opened my eyes to a career I didn’t even know existed. 

I know now that my purpose of competing at Miss NJ USA wasn’t to win but to find my true path and passion in life. It opened me up to a world of self-development, pushing past my comfort zones and the discipline it takes to work towards a goal. 

I am forever grateful for the young women I met along the way, my coach who helped me step into and own my power as a woman and the entire space the pageant system holds for you to rise up and be your best self.

Although I won't be wearing platform, see-thru six-inch heels anytime (unless my career takes a very sharp turn 😳) I can honestly hang up my hat (or crown) with pride knowing that I just closed a chapter of the most transformative experience of my life. 

I'm so happy I stepped out of my comfort zone all those years ago and grew into the woman I am today. All the ups and downs, roadblocks and obstacles have helped me develop a unique set of skills that help me daily as a coach, daughter, partner and friend. 

I'd say that looks like a WIN to me!

Now it's your turn. What is something you've always wanted to do? Is it a pageant!? A fitness competition? Auditioning for a dance team? 

Answer yourself this: what's stopping you? Write a list of what you think is holding you back. From that list, find support where you feel unsure. Do you need a trainer? A coach? What will help you jump the hurdle of resistance? 

Everything you want to become stands on the other side of whatever scares the shit out of you. 

Go do it.