This July, OTAC Breathe invites everyone in our community to join us for a FREE “Unity Flow,” a series of complimentary 60-minute Vinyasa yoga sessions every Sunday morning at 9 AM in the month of July. Led by the compassionate and skilled instructor Melissa Jenkins, these classes are designed to be inclusive and accessible to all.

FREE Vinyasa Yoga Series


I have a big birthday coming up. This one gives me pause—not only because I’ll be turning 50, but because if all goes according to plan that week, I will also become a grandmother for the first time. That’s two major age-confirming life events showing up to the party at once—and I’m smiling about it. Really.

If you’ve been around for more than a few decades, you know how those 10-year benchmark birthdays can feel. Some manage to come and go without so much as an emotional ripple, and others are more like an earthquake sandwich with hurricane bread. Some people, for example, may suffer an existential crisis when they turn 30, and then just shrug and keep going at 40. You never know which big birthday will deliver a mighty sting.

Or do you?

For some reason, benchmark birthdays seem like a good time to get philosophical. We take stock of our lives. Ask the big, eye-popping questions. And it’s usually at night.

Oh my God, who am I? Am I who I want to be? Am I where I want to be? What have I done with my life so far, really? Am I a good [insert profession]? Do I try hard enough? Am I as [insert adjective] as [insert name of celebrity who is my age and not only has suspiciously youthful skin but is also a generous humanitarian]? AM I ENOUGH?

In smaller, kinder doses, these are great questions for practicing self-awareness. But they can lead down a dangerous path on a big birthday. It’s like all the years between numbers ending in zero are your chance to reach perfection once you cross that invisible line into the next decade. And like anyone who attempts perfection, these questions can make you feel depressed when they arrive in big batches.

For me, turning 40 was a rather unpleasant shock. I wasn’t in a good place. Work was extremely stressful. My husband and I were in a little funk. I took this birthday as a cue to evaluate myself and where I was in my life, and so of course, in my mind I came up short. My age felt like a big, miserable deal. But my woes had nothing to do with how old I was. They had everything to do with what was going on around me.

Conversely, if things are going smoothly and you’re feeling successful and fulfilled (hello, 50), there is no sting. Because here is the truth: Being 50 is no different than being 49 or 51. Decade drama, if any, is caused by real stuff and not by an arbitrary number. Isn’t that great news? It means you have control.

So here I am. Turning 50. And I couldn’t be happier. What defines me is not my age, but the connections I have made with the people who surround me. To have a friend, to have a beautiful, growing family, to have people who we love and who love us back—those are the things that make us well throughout the decades. If we have control over how we feel at a benchmark year, a major shift in perspective takes place. Life becomes more about growing than ageing, and I don’t know about you, but I just like the sound of that a whole lot.

Maybe right now you’re in a bothersome place for one reason or another. Maybe you’re unhappy with things as they stand. When you believe there’s no way out, you slide into distress and become ruled by helplessness (a truly terrible ruler). But it is not time’s fault. It’s more likely a sign for you to consider some changes in your surroundings to make things better.

Remember this: Relationships and human connections are the answers to happiness. Audrey Hepburn understood this, because one time she said, “People, even more than things, have to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed and redeemed…never throw out anyone.” As someone who has been revived and redeemed by my relationships, I believe that.

If you’re still in that bad place, how do you begin your exit? Start by reflecting on what your relationships looked like at each benchmark year, and then ask yourself what they will look like at your next one. Then pursue what you want. Don’t become numb to the intolerable. Go after it. You have to go after it.

Life is abundant with crises and challenges. And thank goodness it is, because when you are touched by crises, as we all eventually are, you learn something. You learn how great the great things are. Through challenges—or big birthdays, such as turning 50—you understand how beautiful life is.


Kim's Corner

Remember all that rain we got back in May? I think it’s fair to say that spring 2016 was something of a letdown. But you’ve got to admit—your lawn looked pretty darn good!

Between those days of downpour, I attempted to keep our acre of yard subdued. I’m the official Mower of the Grass in my family, so it did not escape me that we had some very tall, green, soggy grass thanks to the record-breaking rainfall.

Just as everyone started to wonder if the deluge would ever cease, the last raincloud moved on, temperatures soared and the sun scorched. Four days later, I was mowing brown grass. Brown! Grass that had been nearly drowning just days before was now dying from thirst!

It struck me then how fragile the balance of life is. Without the correct amounts of nutrients, water and sunlight, living organisms suffer or even perish. Though nature is resilient, its equilibrium can be disturbed so easily. The poor grass, I thought. Good thing humans are around to help set things right again. Then I hopped onto another train of thought.

What compels us to preserve and protect things? What sets us apart from trees, grass and the like?

Our big, beautiful brains.

Brains have launched us to the top of the food chain. Brains are behind all of our analyzing, inventing, and problem solving. Our brains instruct us to care for our families and our possessions.

So then, ah… Why don’t we use our brains to take care of ourselves?

According to a study published this year, over 97.3% of Americans do not meet all of the standards of a healthy life. Here are the four standards that were measured in a pool of 4,700 test subjects:

Get moderate exercise
Eat right
Avoid smoking
Keep body fat under control

Yep. That’s it. It’s the same advice you’d get from a doctor. Or your mother. And almost no one is doing all of these things at once to keep their bodies in balance. This is not an opinion: As a society, we disregard the state of our health.

It’s easier for us to take responsibility and care for what is outside of our bodies—maybe because it’s easier to see them for what they are. Somehow, we don’t have the same clarity when it comes to ourselves. We can’t look at ourselves the same way we look at an acre of dying grass, or a wilting flower in a garden bed. Though it’s hard to see (and even harder to admit), our own state of imbalance, which is infinitely more significant than an imbalanced lawn, affects us long-term. Adversely.

We get sick. We have cancer and other chronic issues. And for the most part, we treat the symptoms but not the cause. As a collective whole, we have perfected the art of ignoring what is at the root of our most threatening problems. We can’t see that we’re wilting inside, that our systems need care!

So here’s a thought. Perhaps the “transformation” fad that is synonymous with what we think of as “good” health has it totally wrong. Maybe our brains feel defeated by the task (more like chore) of transforming ourselves, or have us believe it’s something we can put off until tomorrow. But health statistics scream that we cannot put it off until tomorrow!

Instead of making an abstract goal that someday you’ll have the body you want, make it a goal to find the proper balance for your body. Then make it a lifelong goal to maintain that balance.

The sooner we can make things about our long-term health and wellness, the body that we want will come to us naturally. If we can strike a balance, we’ll get the good body, the energy, the youthfulness and the happiness.

I don’t care how weird this sounds: Think of yourself like you think of your lawn. Your goal is to stay green. Give yourself water, but not too much water. Give yourself sunlight, but not too much sunlight. Balance is health. Balance is happiness. You can do it now, and you can do it all the days of your life.


Kim's Corner

Unless you are a stay-at-home parent (or a teacher who actually can take summers off), you probably don’t have the luxury of hanging out with your kids every day for three months. A full-time job makes it tricky to help your kids maintain an active schedule without the aid of school, clubs and sports—especially when they’d rather have a summer schedule that involves a combination of sleeping and Snapchatting. Whatever that is.


As a mom of twin boys, I remember the struggle of summer parenting all too well. Being active, even for non-teenagers, requires motivation that comes from within. I’ll loosely define being active here as “standing up.” Ha! Seriously! Doing chores, walking to a friend’s house, or walking the dog counts. And if your kids are old enough to be alone while you’re at work, you can still help them avoid wasting hours on the couch.


How do you typically approach creating boundaries and healthy habits with your kids? Here’s how my parents did it:

Your curfew is 11 p.m. sharp. If you’re even one minute late, you will be grounded.

Well, that could work… for some. But what if you formed a question that went something like this:

What time do you think you should be home tonight to meet the needs of your day tomorrow?

Showing your children how to set their own limits helps prepare them for a smooth transition into adulthood. Won’t it be nice to know they’re capable of making disciplined decisions based on their own needs, which, thanks to you, they have already been empowered to consider?

The same approach can be applied when you want them to have a healthy summer.

Instead of saying, School is out next week. This summer I don’t want you playing video games all day, okay? try: School is out next week. Let’s make a schedule for you to follow so you don’t fall into a rut. What three active things would you choose to do in addition to playing video games for an hour a day?


The first line, though it comes from a good place, is not exactly supportive and doesn’t actually accomplish anything positive. You haven’t given your child helpful tools or even a clear idea of what it is you actually want. Why should s/he buy in?

The second method is an invitation for them to hold themselves accountable with a schedule that includes room for their favorite thing. You’ve also provided a specific guideline that they can run with: choose three things that are active besides playing video games. Now they have buy-in.


Technology can be your friend in this scenario. Kids are driven by it, right? Then challenge them to be active through their favorite medium of communication! Kids love challenges, especially when they can win by competing against themselves.

Enter the FitBit, which lets kids engage with each other digitally in an activity forum rather than a video game forum. All FitBits track your steps and come with an app that allows fellow users to chat with each other. I personally use it and love it. My friends and I use the forum to taunt each other, cheer each other on, and check in daily to keep the inspiration (competition) going strong.

Here’s to a happy, active summer!

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Kim's Corner

You know those little cocktail napkins that have cute quotes on them? The other day, I bought some that say, “Let us celebrate with wine and sweet words.” I was really drawn to that sentiment, and the more I looked at it, the more I started thinking about the relationship between sweet words and our health.

People, myself included, have issues with the quick, convenient, crappy food that’s available to us wherever we go. Sweet foods can be particularly hard to resist. I’m not talking about savoring a cookie or two in a controlled, mindful way. I’m talking about robotically polishing off a whole box of cookies while you’re standing in your pantry.

The act of gorging on unhealthy food is usually tied to something else going on in our minds. I am not pretending to be a psychologist here, but hear me out! It’s possible that we turn to this kind of behavior when we don’t have a connection with other human beings in the way that we should. It happens when we’re missing something important from our lives, like hearing sweet words directed at us. Or, it’s when we’re missing the ability to say sweet words to ourselves. By eating and eating, we’re actually addressing an emotional need for human sweetness!

So what if we replaced sweet food with sweet words? What would happen? I can tell you this: It’s actually quite powerful. It really works. Sweet words are better for us than sweet foods, and in many cases kindness can be much better for us than medicine.

I know from talking to people that not everyone is at a point where they can be kind to themselves. So when I ask a person to write down five positive things about themselves and they can’t do it, I ask them to write down five positive things in their life. These are the things to focus on when you get an urge to smoke a cigarette, or go into the fridge or drink too much. Replace the negative thing with the positive things, and let them take center stage in your mind.

Say you can’t do that. What else can you do to counteract the urge to lose control?

What can you do to make yourself feel good and “full?”

Redirect your behavior. Step away and take ten minutes to write a note to someone, or work on a puzzle, or read a book. Identify a behavior that you’ll go to when that urge or that habit to act destructively rears its ugly head. By going to that behavior, you are empowering yourself. You’re doing something sweet and kind. Incredibly, when we live in a positive way, the emotional frenzy seems to dissipate. I can say that for myself. As a mom (and no stranger to bingeing on sweet foods late at night), I know what it’s like to address the needs of others all day long and feel an intense emotional responsibility toward my family. By 9 o’clock at night, I’d find myself standing in front of a shelf of food and suddenly diving into a sleeve of cookies. In that moment, I wanted to have control of SOMETHING. But the reality is that I had no control at all, and I was mad at myself when I woke up the next day.

Good habits can take years to manifest, and it takes many, many steps to strike a balance. For years, I’ve coached people in whole health and wellness. In the last year, I’ve expanded the idea of redirecting behavior and included the power of love and kindness through sweet words. As a result of focusing on the love and kindness piece, I’ve noticed that a major change has taken place in my life. I’ve struck a balance of my own. I feel lighter, more significant and more fulfilled, which to be honest was a completely unexpected side effect of concentrating on sweet words.

This is the experience I have had, and I want to share it with others. If you can learn to spend time focusing on goodness every day, and not on the things that make you feel powerless or angry or sad, you’re actually addressing your issues. Good things start to come back. You feel worthwhile. Slowly but surely, control returns to you.

You feel valued, loved, and most miraculously and importantly, want to give love.


Kim's Corner

These are headlines on the covers of actual men’s and women’s magazines:

Sculpted Abs Made Easy

How Not To Gain Pounds After A Pig-Out

Which Dietary Supplements Are Worth Taking?

It’s pretty clear that we live in a culture that tricks us into doubting ourselves, into fearing that we are never enough, and even trains us to hunt down proof of it. With each degrading phrase, each impossibly perfect image that catches our eye, we add one more item to a growing list of our own deficiencies.

With your help, we’d love to change that—starting right now. We invite you to come as you are to Old Town Athletic Club. Why? We already like you. Where you see deficiencies, we see assets, strengths and virtues.

Though we all strive to improve in some way, trying to change ourselves in isolation, without acceptance and without support, is NOT the way to do it! You deserve an environment where you feel comfortable being who you are in this moment, and can confidently grow into your best self.

If you’re ready to commit to a healthier lifestyle, we can help. If you want to take up running or weight lifting, for example, or you’re looking for some fun and inspiration in the fitness world, we have the people and equipment to help you with those things. If you want to find out what yoga and Pilates are all about, we’ve got you covered. If you need a supportive community that motivates you to exercise several times a week, we’ll take care of you.

But mark our words: We will never make you feel bad about yourself. Walk through our doors for a real smile, a warm welcome and automatic acceptance. We promise to meet you where you are, just as you are, and move forward—together.

Life’s too short for magazine covers. You are you, and we like that.


Kim's Corner

Hi! Real quick—how was your holiday? Did the mantra trick get you through to the other side?

Speaking of mantras, it’s resolution season in America. Gyms and health clubs everywhere are feeling huge spikes in attendance. We personally like resolutions in theory—especially if it means we get to see you—but they’re all too often connected to disappointment. Resolutions just seem determined to lose steam.

If you’ve ever made a New Year’s resolution and didn’t keep it, it’s not your fault. It actually makes sense that we crack under the pressure put on us to be healthy and happy and successful and well liked, ideally all while appearing reasonably attractive.

See if these crazy contradictions ring true for you: Self worth is measured by how many hours you work per week but also by how much time you make for your family. Or: Happiness is measured by how accepting you are of your own body, but aging isn’t really desirable or even acceptable. And if you look at models and movie stars, it seems downright preventable. (Hey … it is not.)

Instead of resolutions (I’m going to lose weight; I will travel more; I’m going to make more money), try New Year’s “themes”— sort of like the mantra idea we talked about a couple of months ago. Here’s one: This year, I am going to forgive myself when things don’t go the way I planned. Or: Whenever it feels right, I am going to take on a personal challenge without letting anything get in my way.

Think about a specific pressure you feel trapped by, and develop a theme that will help you outsmart it. This theme is your new best friend; let it stick by you through thick and thin.

Trusting and responding to your theme, no matter WHAT society is telling you to do, could open up a whole world of personal freedom—and could make for a pretty great year.

Let your theme and this refreshingly simple take on self-worth be your inspiration for 2016:

“The greatest gift you will ever receive is the gift of loving and believing in yourself. Guard this gift with your life. It is the only thing that will ever be truly yours.” – Tiffany Loren Rowe

Happy New Year, and here’s to a simply happy you!


Kim's Corner

WARNING: Enjoying your Thanksgiving meal has been known to cause … health and happiness.

Technically, this is supposed to be the most wonderful time of the year. But hark! Think back on the last several holidays. How did you feel throughout the season? If you can answer this question with “sheer delight,” then no need to read on.

However, if you experienced some negative feelings, like stress, fatigue, worry or guilt, then read on for some holiday liberation.

On top of the stresses that come with planning, budgeting, cleaning, cooking, hosting and shopping, there’s pressure not to gain holiday weight. Borderline psychotic tips for a “thinner Thanksgiving” go something like this: “Don’t go to a party hungry!” and “Police your portions!” You know what? These pieces of advice are only good at adding stress and stealing joy.

So how about taking an improved approach to our holidays this year?

Think about how you want to FEEL this holiday season, and let that be your mantra. How do you want the people you love to feel when they are around you?

If you normally feel stressed, you might select calm. If you normally feel tired, you might choose to feel energized instead. If you feel anger and resentment, pick joy. You get the idea.

Basically, you can create a mantra around how you would like to feel. It’s as simple as orchestrating your experience in a different way. For instance, stress can be alleviated if you create your holiday plan ahead of time and write it down. Feeling overwhelmed can be solved by asking people for help. Your mantra this season might be something like, “Organized and ready.”

Finally, let’s get to this food thing.

I bet you spend a whole lot of time on preparation, only to sit down and feel guilty about enjoying it.


Skip the side of guilt this time. Claim your right to experience eating wonderful food with your loved ones. Now, I’m not suggesting you stuff your face for 30 days – no one one wants to feel those aftereffects. However, I believe if you choose a mantra that gives you permission to enjoy the true feeling of the season, you may find that stress or the urge to overeat will automatically disappear.

What will be your mantra?


Kim's Corner

One of our wonderful members at OTAC was generous enough to supply me with fresh cucumbers and beets from her garden. There is simply nothing like utilizing seasonal fruits and vegetables from a local source. The freshness alone provides a ton of flavor – and the nutrient density is off the charts, making this garden veggie recipe absolutely amazing.

Thought I would share the recipe where I incorporated the fruits of her labor! Thanks, Lori!


4-5 raw beets (large)
4 raw cucumbers
1/2 sweet onion chopped or thinly sliced (your preference)
4 tsp. honey
4 tsp. apple cider vinegar
2 tsp. Dijon mustard
a dash of Tabasco (optional)
1/4 cup + 2 tbs. olive oil
fresh dill
salt and pepper to taste

Garden Veggie Recipe:

Wash beets and wrap each individual beet tightly in aluminum foil. Roast in oven at 375 degrees for about 90 minutes (less time if beets are small).

Once out of the oven, unwrap and peel the beets, allowing time to cool.
Partially peel cucumbers and chop into chunks. Chop cooled beets into chunks. Combine the cucumbers, beets and onion in a large bowl.

To make the dressing, combine honey, vinegar, mustard, Tabasco and olive oil and stir well to mix. Pour over veggies and add salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle the dill on top to garnish.

Refrigerate for at least one hour.




Kim's Corner

“Trust yourself – you know more than you think you do.”

This anonymous quote is stuck to my oven in the form of a magnetic sticker, given to me many years ago. Like most ideas, its meaning has changed for me as time has gone by. I think it was initially given to me as a way to boost my self-confidence and remind me to trust in my own judgment. Seems like great advice for all of us, right?

Now, as I see it, the quote encourages me to take a different type of action when I’m having “a moment of temporary insecurity,” as Martin Rooney, one of the fitness industry’s best motivators, states. The moment of insecurity he speaks of might cause me to freeze from fear of failure, or simply be unwilling to make a change to better myself. To overcome that insecurity, the action I’m now inspired to take may actually surprise you.

The fact is, I really should trust myself, because I do know the answer. The answer may lie, funnily enough, in the fact that I don’t know what to do!

I know that I don’t always know what to do.

Doesn’t sound all that profound, I know. But if I come to terms with the not knowing, it opens up an opportunity for me to seek advice from others that I do trust, others who are more knowledgeable than me in that particular field. I can even choose to look for answers by researching the matter at hand on my own. Once I’ve collected the knowledge I need (knowledge is power!), I can move forward.

Moving forward might be the most important part. Move not only to better yourself but also to accept responsibility for your hopes and dreams, or even be an inspiration to others! On some level, most people want a little guidance. When you know the right thing to do, and you take action, you are paving the way for others to follow. You are a living, breathing example to your family, your friends and to those who may look to you for inspiration when they “don’t know” and need your advice. Each time you take a small step, it builds momentum for a leap, and just like that, you become someone who has the knowledge to pass on.

Whether you do or don’t know your next move in response to a challenge, understand there is a definite action to carry you to that next step. Know that you will make mistakes. If you’re like me, my guess is you have already made many mistakes in your lifetime – and you have overcome them. You will overcome again and again, each and every time.

What is it that you want out of your life? Are you working toward becoming healthier, progressing in your career or being a better parent, spouse or community member? Whatever your aim, trust that you know how to get there…and trust that sometimes the “knowing” is asking for help.


Kim's Corner

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