I was recently interviewed by a Madrid-based yoga instructor, Eliza Coolsma. Her thoughtful questions inspired me to pay close attention to the daily rituals that contribute to my well-being. And I'm sharing the interview here in case it inspires you too. If you want to learn more about my early morning routine, favorite seasonal breakfasts, thoughts on daily balance, and why I prefer not to focus on happiness, keep reading!
This article is part of the Body Wellness series.
ELIZA: ARE YOU A HAPPY PERSON?
KATIE: Yes, but I try to focus on contentment more than happiness.
I think of happiness as a fluid emotion. Whereas contentment is feeling satisfied with who and where I am in life, knowing that my personal growth, lifestyle, and relationships naturally evolve over time.
Focusing on contentment gives me better perspective so I can rise above – or at least be less effected by – the range of emotions we experience each day.
It took me years to make this mindset shift, but I’m glad I did it!
ELIZA: WHAT IS THE FIRST THING YOU DO WHEN YOU WAKE UP?
KATIE: Water, water, water. About 24 ounces (3 cups) worth. We lose water overnight through breathing and evaporation from our skin, so we’re quite dehydrated upon waking.
Plus, our digestive tract literally needs a flood of water to get going and rid our body of toxic by-products accumulated from detoxification overnight. Drinking water in the morning is one of the first Whole Nourishment habits I encourage my clients to adopt.
I think it’s also worth sharing what I don’t do first thing in the morning. I’m a stickler about not checking my phone until breakfast, which is 1-2 hours after waking.
Early morning is my sacred time to calmly set the tone for the day without distraction, doing whatever exercise, meditation, reading, or journaling makes me feel good in body and mind.
ELIZA: WHY ARE YOU PASSIONATE ABOUT HEALTHY LIVING?
KATIE: Because I want to feel good in and about my body, now and when I’m 80!
When I feel good, I have so much more to give – life is worth living! When we’re out of balance in body and mind, it’s human nature for obsessive, self-centered thoughts to take over – dwelling on body parts we don’t like or things that haven’t gone our way.
In my own journey to feeling better in and about my body, I discovered how caring for myself in a real way allowed me to care more completely for the people and projects I love.
I think happiness researcher, Gretchen Rubin, explains this concept best: “Think more about yourself so you can forget about yourself."
I realize the “free” time we each have varies greatly. But I want to emphasize what I’ve seen to be true in my own life and that of my clients; being well in body and mind doesn’t require a massive lifestyle overhaul.
Building nourishing habits is about the small upgrades we make in our everyday. The accumulative effect of these micro habits has a tremendous impact not only on our health but also on our self-command and confidence in our ability to make change.
ELIZA: WHAT BRINGS YOU BACK TO BALANCE?
KATIE: Simple things: quality sleep, movement, soaking in an epsom salt bath, reading in bed, connecting with my partner, a good chat with a close friend, and prioritizing play time in nature and under the sun.
Balance doesn’t have to be complicated. When honored, these healthy basics are incredibly powerful.
The other single biggest factor that brings me balance is knowing myself. I’m an intuitive person and an internal processor. Once I identified these qualities, I realized the importance of making space in my day for time alone to organize thoughts and reconnect with my priorities.
ELIZA: WHAT'S YOUR FAVORITE BREAKFAST RECIPE?
KATIE: I love these Banana Bread Griddle Cakes any time of year. Otherwise, breakfast varies by season.
In warm months, I enjoy smoothies because they’re light, cooling, and easy on digestion. Plus, there’s nothing to plan or prep ahead. And I get a big jumpstart on my fruit and veg intake for the day.
To make sure a smoothie keeps me going all morning (and to avoid blood sugar dips) I prioritize protein and fat.
My go-to smoothie proteins are nuts/nut butter, hemp seeds, or a quality plant-based protein powder. Favorite smoothie fats are coconut oil, chia seeds, avocado, or nuts/seeds. Usually I’ll add a green base such as spinach, cucumber, or even arugula. But I also like mixing up the flavors with raw cacao and maca, tahini and cinnamon, or berries.
Lately I’ve been loving my Energizing Blueberry Smoothie.
In winter, there’s nothing better than a hearty quinoa porridge with nut butter and seasonal fruit.
ELIZA: YOUR FAVOURITE HEALTHY SPOT IN MADRID
KATIE: We moved to Madrid last September, so I’m still discovering places.
ELIZA: DO YOU HAVE A BEAUTY RITUAL?
KATIE: Absolutely! I believe what we do every day matters more than what we do on occasion.
I cleanse, tone, and moisturize twice a day, plus exfoliate 1-2 times a week. But this ritual is only skin-deep.
Our skin reflects our overall health: balanced hormones and gut flora, hydration, proper nourishment, sun exposure, smoking and the chemicals in our skin care products have a much greater impact on skin health than anti-wrinkle cream!
The best thing I’ve done for my skin in recent years is make the switch to the handmade, plant and mineral-based skincare line, Just the Goods. You can learn more about the line in my interview with Milena, the founder.
ELIZA: WHAT DID YOU LEARN ABOUT HAPPINESS IN THE PAST 10 YEARS?
KATIE: That I am not my thoughts! I’ve learned how to quiet that negative, doubting voice or ignore it all together.
I’ve also learned that it’s up to me to be happy. And that happiness comes from being content in the present moment, which means not dwelling on the past or worrying about the future. Tolle summarizes it best in The Power of Now.
“Problems are only an output of the thinking mind. The mind is rooted in the past and future, and problems are rarely in the present moment. We create problems in our thinking and it preoccupies our being and prevents us from enjoying being in the moment.”
Hey Madrid! Want more inspiration for daily feel-good rituals?
Eliza and I are hosting a fun workshop in the park on Sunday, May 21: Essential Food & Yoga Strategies for Digestion. Read more and sign up here!