Katie K Active Trunk Show at Bldg. 7 Yoga 12/16 from 4:30-7:30pm

kka trunk show bldg 7 yoga

Join Katie of Katie K Active at Bldg. 7 Yoga! Browse our inclusive active wear collection sizes Small to 3X. Sip some wine and have a snack break with us! Special discount for attendees! Bldg. 7 Yoga is located at 220 N Park Rd, Bldg 7, Reading, Pennsylvania 19610. See you there!

Educate Yourself! Tips for a Healthier You!

BY KATIE KOZLOFF-BANKS

Health-and-Fitness-Blog-Educate

There’s so much access to everything nowadays. Between what you can find on the internet and what you see on social media, it’s hard to know what’s real and what’s not. This is especially true when it comes to the health and fitness industry.  Here are my tips to educating yourself while you navigate your fitness journey:

  1. There is no magic pill, really! There are so many products claiming they can give you a quick fix with little to no work. This is not true! While these pills make lots of fantastic claims, they are really just a waste of your money. I have actually seen before and after pictures stolen and used in advertisements from a few fitness professionals that I follow.
  2. You can spend a lot of time and money searching for the right supplements. These are to assist you with your health and fitness program, not be the quick fix. But you really need to do your research and learn about the different products. Take the time to learn about what you are taking, what is in the products, think about your reasons and your goals for taking them.
  3. Do not be fooled by before and after pictures! Recently, a few bloggers showed how just changing the angle of your body, the size of your clothes and how close you are to your camera can really effect the way you look in your pictures. So although those before and after pictures are always so enticing, remember how they can be easily manipulated. People who are proud of their transformations are excited to show the true before and afters, companies trying to get you to buy their products may use manipulations to get you to purchase.
  4. Be careful who you listen to for information. You can find many people giving out all sorts of health and fitness related advice on social media. It’s great to have access to info, but unless they are certified in their category, remember that they are not an expert. Yes of course there are experts who give bad advice, but there are also tons of people acting as experts who’ve never been trained in that area. I think it’s great that so many people share their health and fitness journeys, but remember, they are sharing their experience and advice based on that, not from being officially trained in that area.
  5. Be wary of fad diets. It seems there’s always some new, hot way to eat. I do feel each fad starts from some truth, but it gets blown up and promoted as an absolute. Try to educate yourself about nutrition and learn what works for you.

Think of all the money and time you could spend trying to get a quick fix. If you just put in the work and educated yourself, you’d be able to learn and make that change. Take the time to learn for yourself or find people you respect and trust.

Fitness Fun in the Sun

BY KATIE KOZLOFF-BANKS

Summer time is here! Life can get hectic over the summer. Routines change, kids are out of school, you have endless plans since the weather is nice and you want to be outside with family and friends. You think you have all this free time and before you know it, it’s September. Here are some tips for sticking to your fitness goals and getting friends and family to join in.

  1. Workout in the AM. This is important for a few reasons. First of all, summer is hot. Getting your workout done early allows you to avoid the hottest part of the day. Also, as the day goes on, there are always things that come up and it’s easy to push that workout to tomorrow. Maybe your co-workers want to enjoy the nice weather and hit a happy hour at an outside bar, or your kids want to stay at the pool all afternoon. Getting your workout finished early on in the day gives you energy and saves you from that “missing a workout” guilt.
  2. A Quick Mix. Quick workouts can pack a great punch! Get a group of friends together and do a playground or even back yard workout. Get your family excited and involved by creating an obstacle course. Have different exercises at each station and run through the course 2 or 3 times. All you need is 20-30 minutes to get an efficient and effective workout. Add a sprinkler for some extra summer fun!
  3. Get in the Water. There are many fun ways to enjoy the water and be active. I got to try stand up paddle boarding a few weeks ago in California and loved it! It’s a great activity to do with friends or family. Work your arms, core and legs while you enjoy being outside and on the water. If you have a pool, get a game of pool volley ball or basketball going.
  4. Don’t Act your Age. We love playing SPUD with my nieces and nephews. It is always so much fun! Want a game to play with an older crowd? Try whiffle ball or kick ball. Running the bases and competing against each other is sure to bring some fun and laughs. Throw in 5/10 reps of an exercise at each base and it’s a great workout and game for any age! It always tasks us a few minutes to get up and motivated to play, but once we do, it’s a blast!

As with any time of year, you need to make sure you make your fitness goals a priority. But that doesn’t mean you can’t make things fun or include your friends and family. Just be a little creative and you can enjoy the summer while staying active!


Katie Kozloff-Banks, Wyomissing, is the owner of Katie K Active. 

This article appears in the July 2015 issue of Berks County Living. Did you like what you read here? Subscribe to Berks County Living »

How Men & Women Exercise Differently

How Men & Women Exercise Differently

BY KATIE KOZLOFF-BANKS

Men and women are different in many ways. But do we also have an opposed approach to working out? Although I can find many exceptions, I find the following generalities to be pretty true. Men and women seem to approach fitness and their healthy lifestyle in different ways:

  • The Why: I think both sexes are interested in the physical benefits of working out. But it does seem that men are far more interested in building muscle and strength. Where a woman may start out on a new healthy routine in order to look better in front of the mirror or fit into her clothes, but ends up enjoying seeing her strength and abilities increase.

  • The Ask: Women are more likely to seek advice and are more likely to hire a trainer. They tend to be easily coachable and are willing to listen to the advice of these experts. Men seem to naturally feel more comfortable in a gym or workout scenario. They may occasionally seek advice, but are less coachable.The

  • What: It seems any gym class is made up of nearly 100 percent women. Women enjoy the social aspect an exercise class provides. While you occasionally find men in a class, they seem to be more interested in getting a workout done outside of the studio. I think the exception to this is spin and crossfit. For gyms like crossfit, I think it is fun for both sexes because of the camaraderie of a group that helps support and push you.

  • How Much: Men seem to get in longer workouts and spend more time at the gym. But that doesn’t mean they are any more intense or effective. Women feel more pressed for time, but they find ways to make working out a priority.

  • Variety: Men tend to stick to a few standard routines: running, weight lifting and crossfit-type classes. Women are usually more open to trying new classes or workouts. It seems women want a variety of ways to exercise, where men are happy with their routines.

Overall, we can both learn from the opposite sex. Often, men tend to push themselves harder and will grab that heavier weight or see if they can do one more rep. Although I know plenty of competitive women, I can see this being pretty true as a general statement. Men can teach women to push themselves and work harder than the think they can. On the other hand, women seem to really enjoy fitness and make it a social experience. Women seem to be more willing to diversify their workout and their routine, such as by taking a weekly spin class, yoga class, boot camp and TRX. Therefore, women teach men working out can be fun and to expand their exercise horizons.

This article appears in the June 2015 issue of Berks County Living

Healthy Family Time

We all learn through example. Being active and healthy is a life-long habit. Participating in healthy activities as a family will teach youth that being healthy and active can be fun and enjoyable. Whether you are just getting your family to start being active or it’s a regular part of your routine, here are some tips for creating healthy habits:

  1. Get walking. Walking or hiking are great ways to spend time together as a family. A few minutes in and you are talking to each other and are free from technology. I love taking walks with my husband through Wyomissing Meadows. We end up talking about everything and anything. And between the fresh air and the discussion, we always come to a new outlook. We use it as a time to connect and go over whatever is on our mind. Going for a walk is a great opportunity for you to connect with your family, discuss anything and get moving together, all at once!
  2. Make it a game. I recently saw a post on Facebook about a mother making her workout into a game for her children. I thought this was so smart. She was able to get her workout in and by including them; they were learning the benefits of being active. You can set up a circuit and run from each spot. For example, set up 5 “stops” and do something different at each location: 15 squats, 10 pushups, 30 jumping jacks, 15 tricep dips and a plank with twists (get creative; there are so many options). You can have your kids do each of these or come up with different things they can do at each spot. Do the circuit a few times and you get in a good workout with your kids and make it super fun for everyone.
  3. Find a family class. Nowadays, many gyms offer kids or family workouts. This is a great way to show your children what you do when you talk about going to the gym. They get to try out the activities and see what it’s all about. Being active becomes fun if it is enjoyable, so finding a class that your child likes is key.
  4. Cook a meal together. Health isn’t only about being active. Making good food choices and setting up healthy eating habits is something we all need to learn. Pick a new healthy recipe to make as a family. Go to the store, find all the ingredients and cook together. This is a fun way to incorporate everyone into the process.
  5. Make it a family effort. I know that when one of us falls off the healthy wagon, it’s hard for the other to stay focused. On those days when I don’t want to workout but my husband does, I will get an extra boost to exercise from his motivation. It’s the same with healthy eating. Most of the time, we both want to cook or eat healthy. But when one isn’t feeling it, it’s important for the other to motivate the other to stay on track. We all learn through example, so setting a good example for your family is important. Inspiration and motivation can come and go, but not for everyone at the same time. And sometimes knowing you have to be the driving force will give you an extra boost to push others when you know they are relying on you.

Looking back, I feel we were pretty active as a family, in addition to the organized sports I was involved in. We all learned to play tennis and would play against each other on vacations. There were intense games of whiffle ball with our cousins. The neighborhood kids would always get together to play football, SPUD or Kick the Can. As we got older we played a lot of basketball, especially at family get-togethers. It was always so fun to run around and play with everyone. Having everyone participate bonded us and made a positive association with being active. Even to this day, when fitness is fun, it doesn’t feel like work!


BY KATIE KOZLOFF-BANKS

This article appears in the May 2015 issue of Berks County Living

Cara’s Do’s and Don’t’s for making healthy eating a no brainer!

You can’t out exercise a bad diet.  As much as I would like to say it’s as easy as “move more – eat less”.  This is not the case.  It’s about quality and quantity.  This LIFE STYLE CHANGE includes making healthier decisions about the types of foods you choose as well as the amount.  Here are some do’s and don’ts for food.

  • Do use a smaller plate.

Automatic portion control!  Use a salad plate instead of a dinner plate for your meals.   Trick your brain into feeling more satisfied with less food.   This works for desserts too.   A full small bowl of ice cream will look/feel much more satisfying than the same amount in a cereal bowl with space to spare.

  • Do buy healthy snacks.

Fruits, nuts and veggies are great options.   Note: read the labels on the veggie dips.  Many dips will end up being more calories than eating chips in the first place.  Don’t defeat the purpose of the carrot by ruining the nutritional value with the dip.  Try hummus instead.

  • Do treat yourself.

Telling yourself that you can’t have something will only make you want it more.  Have a small cookie after a healthy dinner if you want it.  Just use moderation.    This will avoid the guilty binging.

  • Do eat the rainbow.

No, I’m not talking about Skittles!  Eat natural color.  Think fruits and veggies.  The bolder the color the better it is for you.  Example: Spinach is a bolder green than iceberg lettuce.    

  • Do sit down at the table to eat. 

You will eat less sitting at the table than you will sitting on the couch watching TV.   Your brain in focused on your entertainment instead of your food.  It won’t send the “I’m full” signals to your stomach until you find the bottom of the container.

  • Don’t drink your calories.

Put down the sodas and high calorie drinks.  Sodas are high in calories and sugar.  Put it this way, a 20 fl oz bottle of Coke has 65 g of sugar.  A regular Snickers bar has 25 g of sugar.  You are drinking 2.5 candy bars worth of sugar on top of whatever you are putting in your mouth food-wise!  Please do not think that if you are drinking diet soda you making a healthier choice.  You are just trading one bad choice for another.  Look at the label.   If you can’t pronounce most of the ingredients and it has a long shelf life than it is not good for you.   (This counts for food as well.)

  • Don’t eat out of the family sized bag.

Take control and ownership over your portion control.  Eat all of your snacks out of a small glass bowl or dish.   Allow yourself to see how much you are eating.  When you can see it, you will eat less.

  • Don’t beat yourself up.

This is a new healthier you.  It’s also a new happier you.  Don’t get down on yourself because you slipped up or your skipped a gym day.  This is about the journey not the destination.   Make it up to yourself by making a healthy choice the next day.

You can do this.  Make the choice to make a LIFE STYLE CHANGE.   Health is a daily choice.

piyo

Follow me on Facebook – Cara’s Fitness – for healthy recipes, exercise ideas, workout videos, motivational quotes, fitness challenges, etc.  If you live in the Raleigh, NC area I would love to have you in one of my group fitness classes.  I teach Insanity, PiYo, Zumba, Fit for Life and Silver Sneakers.

Get Fit and Environmentally-Conscious

Many of us don’t realize the great advantages nature provides us. We are so accustomed to using products or machines in our daily lives that we forget sometimes that simple is great! This can be true in all aspects of our lives, even with fitness and health goals. Here are some ways you can be healthy and active, without creating a huge carbon footprint.

  • Get outside. Go for a hike, walk, run or bike ride. Fresh air can alleviate stress and increase happiness. Getting outside will help reenergize you and make you feel great. I know that going for a walk or run helps me clear my head. I love the way I feel after taking in some nature.
  • Hit up a playground for circuit training. A playground has all the equipment you need – and it’s free – so use it! You can do pull-ups on the monkey bars. Use a bench for dips or step-ups. Put your feet in a swing and work your abs with a simple plank or make it harder by bringing your knees to your chest while in plank position. Have fun and do the rings without touching your feet to the ground. The options are endless! Be creative and you can turn any area into a great spot for a tough workout.
  • Travel by bike or foot. Biking or walking to work is a great way to incorporate some extra exercise into your life. It’s also a good way to give yourself time to prepare for the day ahead and to end your day and reflect as well. You will have time to think, listen to music or an inspirational book. But mostly, it gives you important time with yourself.
  • Outdoor Boot Camp. There are a lot of fitness instructors who run their own outdoor boot camp classes. This is a fun way to be outside but get in a workout. Do it with friends or meet new people.
  • Participate in local races. Many cities and towns have runs. I think there are seasons here where it feels like there is a race every weekend. Participate in these to help raise money for charity. Almost every run store coordinates its own weekly running group. Join in and meet people, push yourself and develop your skill.
  • Join a local team. I loved playing in adult sports leagues. It was great getting my workout in without it ever feeling like it was a workout. It was a fun way to be a part of a team and fulfill that competitive desire.

This article appears in the April 2015 issue of Berks County Living

Did you like what you read here? Subscribe to Berks County Living »

Harvesting Happiness Talk Radio Podcast features Katie Kozloff + The #DefineBrave Campaign from Katie K Active

HHTR

#DefineBrave = The Courage to Stand in Truth & Express Freedom

 During this week’s radio show you will learn about:

  • The #DefineBrave Campaign from Katie K. Active
  • Personal Stories about Overcoming Adversity
  • Women Entrepreneurs Making a Difference: Pride & Glory and Mind.Body.Spirit EXPERIENCE
  • Explore Non-Profits: FinalSaluteInc.org and StopCAIDNow.org
Harvesting Happiness Talk Radio
This Week on Harvesting Happiness Talk Radio

 The Katie K. Active Signature Collection is named for founder and designer Katie Kozloff. As a fitness trainer, Kozloff worked with women of all sizes heard first hand their opinions and views on what was lacking in the activewear industry. She was inspired to create activewear that blended performance, fit and fashion — workout gear that looks and feels amazing on women of all sizes.

“I wanted to create a brand that fits and flatters all of my friends in all of their sizes, without compromising the performance features that today’s women have grown to expect.”

You can learn more about Katie here.

 

Jas Boothe

 

Jas Boothe is a Chicago Native and disabled Army Veteran, who gave  13 years of service to this great nation. She deployed during the Operation Iraq Freedom/Operation Enduring Freedom campaigns and her military career has been dedicated to working with and advocating for Soldiers and their family members.

She founded Final Salute Inc, which has assisted over 300 women Veterans and children and now operates 3 transitional homes in Alexandria, VA, Martinsburg, WV and Columbus, OH.

You can learn more about Jas here.

Pat CruzPat Cruz: Creative thinker, noted entrepreneur, event marketing specialist, former radio show host, avid networker, connection maker, and marketing/social media innovator nationally celebrated for her ranking in top five Rhode Islanders with highest calculated social media influence.

Pat has created a socially oriented business environment that builds awareness, creates loyalty, and increases revenue for clients and businesses desiring access to the power of the female buyer, or influencer in the local marketplace.

You can learn more about Pat here.

Lisa Moreno DickinsonLisa Moreno-Dickinson is a devoted single mom, author, executive producer, writer for the Global Genes Project/Rare Disease Community, Ambassador for #definebrave, on the board of Directors for The Wish Upon  A Hero Foundation, and President/Founder for StopCAIDNow.org, a 501c3 accredited non-profit. The foundation is focused on treatments, awareness, diverse genetic testing, and genomics..

StopCAIDnow, Inc. is recognized globally and first to blanket all Auto-inflammatory Diseases.

You can learn more about Lisa here.

 

Jennifer WalshJennifer Walsh has been a true pioneer for the skin care / cosmetics industry. She has been in the business for more than 15 years and has learned her craft through hands on experience with the brands themselves and with customers throughout the world.

Ms. Walsh founded what became one of the first beauty boutique chains in the United Stated in 1998 along with one of the first beauty websites at that same time. Since Jennifer sold her company in 2010, she now consults for brands in roll out plans both in the US and internationally.

You can learn more about Jennifer here.

Katie’s Top 5 Fitness Apps Revealed!

It’s a new year, which usually brings feelings of a new beginning. Maybe you you want to make new goals for this year or just step them up from last year. Either way, the excitement of a fresh start is everywhere. With all this fitness inspiration swirling around, I wanted to share some of my favorite apps with you:

1.  MapMyFitnessThis is an easy to use app that will record a variety of activities, but I use it for running. Using GPS it then shows you a map of the route. It also displays length, time and distance of your activity, as well as your pace, maximum speed and calories burned.

A post where I used Map My Fitness

A instagram post where I used Map My Fitness

  1. MyFitnessPal: Keep track of what you are eating with this great app. It even has a barcode scanner, so you can scan the packaging of the food. The database of food is impressive, which gives you information on almost any food. You can customize how many meals and snacks you eat. It also enables you to set your fitness goals and track of your exercise and water intake. Follow friends or share with your trainer to keep accountable!
  1. Bit Timer: This simple timer is easy to use and effective. I love using a timer for run/walks (1.5 min run, 30 sec walk). I also use timers for workouts, especially when I’m short on time or traveling. For example, I will pick 8 exercises and do each one for 50 secs with a 10 sec rest, and then repeat it a few times. Or I’ll set it and do a Tabata workout. There are so many ways to use a timer, it’s a great resource to have.
  1. Pocket Yoga: I’ve always wanted to do yoga outside of a studio, but I’m still a beginner and don’t really know what I’m doing. Pocket Yoga comes with detailed voice instructions as well as videos on hundreds of different poses. There is information on the proper execution and benefits too. You can also choose your difficulty, practice and duration.
  1. Workout Trainer: This app provides you with a library of workout routines, including step-by-step audio and video instructions. Customize your own experience and recommended regimen, while also having access to create and edit your own personal workout routine.

These are apps that I use, but there are many more. I really should track my heart rate. Heart rate gives you a more accurate picture of endurance, fitness and calorie burn. I’m just doing my research to find the best one for me.

You can find an app for almost anything! So if you’re looking to revamp your health and fitness goals, consider using an app.

As the saying goes “What gets measured gets managed”. 

Follow Katie K Active’s board Active Living Tips from Katie! on Pinterest.

Katie K Active Active Living Posts via Berks County Living

 

Getting Married in 2015? Get Katie’s Tips for More Bliss!

I think everyone reflects on their wedding and thinks of tips to pass on to the next friend who will be getting married. My wedding was only two years ago and it was great! I had a blast and tried my best to live in the moment. Here are my tips and what I learned:

Katies Wedding Day
  1. Split up thank you notes. I don’t think this is the job of the bride only. Gifts are for both the bride and groom, and will be used together in their future life. We decided to split our thank you notes so that Todd wrote to his family and friends and I wrote to mine. I think it makes things more personal when it’s coming from the person you know. And it also brings the groom in to make him feel part of everything.
  2. Plan your photos. I am a pretty laid back person, but when it came to our photos, I knew I had to be prepared. I created a list of all the photos I wanted so we could make sure we got everything. Between all the variations of the family, bridal party and bride/groom shots, there’s a lot to keep track of! I wanted to make sure we didn’t miss anything. I googled “wedding must-have photos” and used that as a starting point and modified where I wanted.
  3. Don’t add stress. The photographer mentioned traveling to different locations to get some great shots. I knew we would have been able to get some amazing shots, but I also knew this would really stress me out. Even if we kept it to bride and groom shots, it made me nervous to be traveling around town, hoping to get back to the reception site on time. Although I sometimes wish we had done this, I was also so happy to have some down time with my bridal party and family before everything got crazy. In my mind, I avoided unnecessary stress and anxiety, and that made the day calm.
  4. Make sure you join the celebration. Although you will be concerned with talking to every guest, thanking them for attending, it is also important to enjoy your day. Everyone wants to talk to you, but if what you want is to dance with your friends and new husband, you should make sure you have time for that too! Todd and I had a “let loose” deadline of when we were going to just join the celebration and have fun. We tried our best to talk to everyone, but we also wanted to enjoy the celebration and have fun with everyone who was there.
  5. Don’t be a bridezilla. I know it’s “Your Day” (technically your husband’s too) but don’t go crazy with requests of your bridal party and family. They are all there and excited to support you, but when requests start to border on ridiculous, they will start to resent you! The last thing you want is an angry bridal party smiling through clenched teeth counting down the minutes until the day is over! Yes, you want your day to be perfect, but this event is about more than one day; it’s about your marriage. You and your partner are committing your love for each other and celebrating your decision to be united for the rest of your life in front of all your friends and family. That is really what your wedding day is all about!

No matter what, enjoy the journey! Everyone seems to have an opinion about everything when it comes to a wedding. People will tell you what they did or what they wanted to change, and why their way is right. Their way was right because it was what THEY wanted! It might not be right for you for a variety of reasons, and that’s fine. You want a DJ but they say a band is better? You want a sit down dinner but so-and-so said their buffet idea was better. Do what YOU want because it’s your wedding! Everyone is working with his or her own budgets and preferences. Each couple has different desires and wants different things. Your guests are there to celebrate your union and you will have fun no matter what! All the guests want is to see the bride and groom having a great time. Seeing everyone dancing and enjoying each other makes for a great wedding celebration!

5 Ways to Turn Holiday Stress Into A Chance for Growth and Insight

Wellnest

I met Alyssa from The Wellnest at the Be Well Philly Boot Camp this Summer. She was so friendly and I loved what The Wellnest was all about. This mother/daughter team is devoted to providing people with the resources and tools to live healthily and happily. I knew she would have excellent tips on how to survive the stress that the holiday season brings! Here is her guest blog post just for you!

 

 

5 Ways to Turn Holiday Stress Into A Chance for Growth and Insight

Guest Post by Alyssa Boente, Founder & CEO of The Wellnest

The holidays can throw us off balance. Our routines are interrupted, demands on our time and bank accounts multiply, and it seems we have little space for ourselves amidst the parties and wrapping paper. Holidays can bring us great joy and great stress, all at the same time.

To compound this surplus of activities, spending, food, etc., holidays can challenge us at a fundamental level too – raising deeper questions that we may not want to look at during the rest of the year and potentially piquing emotions about our family, our relationships, the state of our homes, our success in relation to others, you name it.

The thing about all of this is, it isn’t necessarily a bad thing. If we are willing to recognize that the holidays bring certain stressers our way, then we can also be prepared to examine our reactions and even use this time to practice techniques to prevent and mitigate stress.

How might we go about that?

1. Practice Self-Awareness: Make sure you are checking in with yourself regularly. If you feel yourself approaching wide-eyed panic about all the things you have to do, a bout of anger towards a family member or sadness about recent life events, acknowledge those feelings. In the vein of one of my favorite Buddhist teachers, Thich Nhat Hanh, it is better to say “Hello, Anxiety” or “Hello, Sadness” than to close up and tell them to go away. If anything, recognizing those feelings reduces their power over you. And of course, if something brings you feelings of peace and joy, acknowledge that as well

2. Do Things for Yourself: We are all extremely busy in general, and even more so during the holidays, but we will make time for the things that we prioritize. Taking care of yourself should be of utmost priority always, but especially during times of stress. You don’t have to say yes to everything and everyone at this time of year. You are allowed to sleep and exercise. You are allowed to stay home. You are allowed to read, go for a walk or run, get a pedicure or a massage. These are necessary counterbalances for all the extroversion you are likely experiencing. If it seems impossible with your schedule or family demands, ask for help. Others will recognize and appreciate that you are carving out this time.

Tracksmall         3. Give Thanks: What are you thankful for? When we stop and think of all the things we are grateful for, we remember the people and things that we love which are the ultimate reasons for celebrating at this time of year. Intentionally connecting with these ideas can reveal to us the truest meaning of the holidays.

          4. Breathe, Meditate, Do Yoga, Sit Quietly: Do activities every day that you find centering. As Karin Otto (one of our yoga and meditation instructors at The Wellnest) teaches, these activities that calm the nervous system have widespread effects – easing stress and anxiety, promoting circulation and digestion, releasing physical tension and imbalances, and cultivating an environment for healing and wellbeing on every level. With all the gift-giving happening right now, consider it your gift to yourself.

5.  Plan for January: If something was really difficult for you during the holidays or you came to a realization about your wellbeing, make plans to address it in January. Did you have a hard time eating in moderation? Do you suffer from stress more than just during the holidays? Do you need support dealing with a larger life event, like a loss or low self-esteem? There are healers and supporters in our midst, and being pro-active in shoring up our wellness and happiness is never a waste of time or money.

This year, try to treat the unusual demands of the holidays as a unique opportunity rather than merely a strain. They can provide us with a chance for great growth and insights, if we allow them.

Celebrating #ShopSmall — My Best of Berks

As a local business owner, I constantly think about how I can support other local businesses. I have a few favorites that I definitely use to help me personally, and for my company. 

  1. Chamber of Commerce – Women2Women: I have enjoyed being a member of Women2Women. The organization hosts monthly events that I’ve participated in, which have been great for personal and career development. I also participated in their Lean In circle. Through it, I not only met a great group of women, but I learned and thought about things I never would have before. It was an experience that has proven to be invaluable.
  2. Jump Start Incubator – I wrote a BCL article (now on my blog) about why I think the incubator is fabulous! It’s a great place for anyone looking to take his or her business idea to the next level. Through mentorship, guidance and getting a built-in team, it’s a great way to launch your business idea.
  3. Jersey Ink – I have been using Jersey Ink for about three years now. I met the mother and daughter team, Sue and Christina, through a friend of mine. They have been a wonderful help to my business. I use them for promotional products, but love their willingness to work with me on anything. They put up with me when I give short deadlines. Jersey Ink has also been able to design items from concept to product. I love their excitement and desire to work with local businesses. They want to make sure I get the best product at a great price that meets my needs.
  4. Bell Tower – I have loved the Bell Tower boutique for years. But the reason I love it goes beyond the clothing they offer. Samara and Dara are great stylists! I have visited before different meetings, not knowing what to wear or how to put myself together. They’ve helped select the perfect outfit, so I could feel confident and ready to rock my meeting. Samara and Dara know and understand my style and always choose great items. They have helped me create a wardrobe so that I can just grab and go. I’m prepared for any event. I never have to think about what I’m going to wear, because I know I’m going to feel confident and look great!
  5. A Running Start – I was introduced to A Running Start a few years ago when I moved back to Reading. Sorita, the owner, has a friendly and knowledgeable team ready to help. I visited looking to find running shoes and they were very thorough, which I really appreciated since I was dealing with bunion issues. Now that I’ve had surgery, they’ve been equally as helpful getting me back in to the swing of things. I found a pair of running shoes that helped me not hate running! Their friendly staff, weekly runs and sponsored events definitely bring the community together to live healthy, active lives!
  6. Corpsfitness – Along the line of fitness, I’ve loved having a place like Corpsfitness at my disposal. Chris Kaag has developed a great workout program and provides a great experience, all the while developing a sense of community. I know that when I go to a class, I’m greeted by smiling faces, all welcoming, even though we are about to be put through a tough workout! There’s a social piece to Corpsfitness that I’ve really enjoyed. Everyone is there to work out together, but also to connect. It’s a great place for when I need to release some stress.
  7. Café Bold – I work from home or the incubator for the most part, but sometimes I need something different. I love stopping in at Café Bold for a change of scenery. It’s a lovely place to meet with people and with off street parking in the back, it’s super easy. They have great food, so I definitely don’t mind scheduling a lunch meeting there.

With these places in mind, take a few minutes to reflect on those local businesses that help with your everyday. Consider sharing your favorites and frequenting them over the holiday season with friends and family. One thing I’ve learned is the importance of small business and local organizations and the hardworking people that are keeping them going.

This article appears in the December 2014 issue of Berks County Living