This is part of a series of interviews I'm doing with creative entrepreneurs who I find inspiring. I was curious to know how they incorporate healthy habits into their work + life blend. I figured you were probably curious too, so I'm taking one for the team and having great conversations with amazing bosses so I can share them here with you. (Hard work, right?!)
My intention with these interviews is to showcase bosses NOT in the health and wellness industry and shine a light on their habits and routines that help them stay healthy as busy bosses. So, tell us a little about yourself and what industry you're in?
I’m Kate! I was born and raised in metro Atlanta. I have two kittens, Francis and Abigail. They’re funny little monsters (and they have their own Instagram). I studied religious studies and classical civilization at Agnes Scott College, a women’s liberal arts college.
As for my career, if I had to pick an industry (or two), it would be digital marketing and self-publishing. During the day, I’m a program manager for a support team at a major tech company (meaning, I oversee projects, typically related to new hires or team resources) where we serve digital marketers. By night, I’m a class instructor (digital marketing and SEO) at General Assembly Atlanta. I also own my own business, Bad Star Media, where I design romance novel covers and help indie authors with digital marketing.
I subscribe to the notion of work/recreation balance (rather than work/life balance). Work is a huge part of life, not separate from it. It happens that my work feels like recreation a lot of the time!
We recently did a Whole 30 together with a group of other bosses. Has nutrition always been something that you’ve paid attention to when it comes to your physical and mental health? Is this your first Whole 30 or have you done nutrition challenges like this in the past?
This is my second Whole30 (in June 2016). Well, maybe third. I did two weeks in December 2015 (between Thanksgiving and Christmas, on what I like to call a “practice run”) then a full Whole30 in January 2016. Adherence to Whole30 has given my body a chance to rest and reset after my travels to Miami (for Being Boss Miami, hi y’all!) and Cambodia. I ate a lot of delicious food and drank too much coffee, not paying attention to ingredients or calories. I also drank a ton of beer in Cambodia. I remembered how great I felt during the later half of my Whole30, which motivated me to pick it up again.
Nutrition was not a priority for me for the first thirty years in my life. Sure, it was for my parents (they had to keep me alive after all), but I didn’t pay any mind to it. Once I started living on my own, I made poor food choices and started drinking soda or beer. I got my first cavities in my early 20s. I also have the bad habit of sporadic eating, which I’m now trying to address in my 30s. My personal trainer calls me out on my eating habits. I will skip meals and then splurge on eating out to make up for not eating earlier when I’m not paying attention.
Now I’m getting better at grocery shopping. I buy enough food for me (as a single person). I try not to feel bad about the cost effectiveness or the fact I need to go to the grocery store more than once a week for fresh food.
As you know, my tag line is health fuels hustle. Tell us how you prioritize your health so that you can project manage, teach, write AND design book covers without burning out?!
My mental health is priority over almost everything. I have history with anxiety and panic attacks. I’m quick to admit if I’m overwhelmed, burned out, or feeling anxious. I can feel a migraine coming from ten miles away and am quick to alter my surroundings to make it less painful. I have no shame in canceling plans (in advance!) if I know I’m running on empty. I know what it’s like to spiral and literally drive myself off a ledge, so I’m tuned in to what my brain is saying.
I naturally fall into taking a lot of projects (hence my tagline on my personal blog - Kate does a lot of shit). I focus on one or two of those responsibilities a day. For example, if I have the day job and teaching in one day, I obviously won’t get to design that night -- and that’s okay. It helps me focus on doing one or two things well. Also, I make sure to only say yes to projects or experiences (such as volunteering in Cambodia) that I really want to do and that I think will help push me out of my comfort zone. I will say no to projects and love recommending individuals who I think could do a better job.
I’m more mindful on how nutrition plays a role in feeding my energy. Still a learning curve - I objectively know it’s important, but it’s like flexing a muscle you haven’t used since you were a kid. My nutrition skills are weak now, but they’re growing stronger with practice.
Are you the type of person who thrives on habits and routines? If so, what are your top habits that make you feel like a total boss?
Having my house function without me through automation and committing to a personal trainer really leveled up my boss feelings!
I set as much of my life on autopilot as possible. My finances gets divided between various accounts to pay my bills (and whatever’s left is my play money). My house also has timers and rules lights and thermostat (bless Wemo, Nest, and IFTTT). That way, I free up as much time and mental energy as I can so I can then focus on the fun, creative part of my day.
As for my health, my neighborhood has a gym literally a few minutes walk from my front door. Paying for the gym membership wouldn’t be enough to hold me accountable, so I signed up for personal training sessions twice a week. I’ve seen my personal trainer since January 2016 and we focus on strength training. He’s really great at personalizing the exercise plan so that I’m pushing myself but not dying. Generally, his whole perspective is “is x worth it? If so, then don’t feel bad about it” where x might be pizza -- but if you continue to do things that make you feel bad, that’s on you. So he’ll then throw me shade if he sees me walking to the neighborhood Starbucks for my sugary coffee fix.
Bonus: my trainer gets my sense of humor and nerdy references. I always felt if you could make your therapists or trainers laugh, then the situation couldn’t be that bad, right?
I fully believe that indulging in less-than healthy-behaviors once in a while can be part of a well-rounded healthy lifestyle. What is your number one less-than-healthy indulgence?
Probably drinking beer. I’m a fan of fancy stouts and porters -- I love beer that tastes like espresso or mochas. I also partake in whatever local beers of wherever I’m traveling. Oh, and soda. I’m from Coca-Cola country (Atlanta). My weaknesses are Cherry Coke and Mexi-Coke. During my first Whole30, I broke up with diet sodas - the withdrawals sucked. I scaled back to drinking a regular soda every few days (compared to drinking 3-5 diet sodas last year) after that. I also drink a lot La Croix (sparkling water), but my consumption goes through the roof when I can’t drink beer or soda.
Maybe I’m just addicted to carbonation. Or recycling.
Are there any Kate Newburg health tips that you want to spread the word about?
Sleep. Put down the devices, shut down the computers, go lay down, and close your eyes. The internet will be there tomorrow.
A dear friend and I had a conversation about our health. I recounted my difficulty of asking for help because I knew other people who had worse issues. My health problems felt insignificant, like I had to handle them on my own. She stopped me and told me this: just because your struggles are less severe than others doesn’t mean you’re not worthy of help.
Being vulnerable and asking for help - whether that is going to a nutritional coach, a personal trainer, or a therapist - is being strong. It’s taking control of your health by being held accountable and getting expert advice. You still get to be an active participate in the help you’re receiving.
So yeah. You’re worthy of help. And the internet will be there tomorrow.
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