Today, I'd like to share another unique perspective on what it means to live healthy. I interviewed yogi Cass Lane and hybrid athlete Katie Ringley earlier this year. Today, I'm so happy to introduce to you my friend Jena!
Jena is a superwoman. She is incredibly smart and successful in her 9-5, but she also has a great mindset towards holistic health. She's driven, but kind to herself. And she loves helping other women along their healthy-living journey -- whether that's with fitness, nutrition, personal finance, friendships, or faith.
1. First, could you introduce yourself?
Hi! I'm Jena Viviano, the writer and curator of Giant in Heels. Transplanted from the spirited city of Pittsburgh, I'm a Southern-belle wannabe currently residing in the Big Apple. A believer in kindred spirits, handwritten love notes and divine intervention, I genuinely desire to encourage and inspire other young women as they navigate through the muddy waters of becoming an adult. When I'm not pining after a fine pair of four-inch stilettos, you can find me on the Trading Floor of the New York Stock Exchange, exercising at some overpriced boutique fitness class or sitting in a coffee shop brewing over which endeavor to tackle next!
2. What does "being healthy" mean to you, and how do you live that out?
For me, health is more than a body type, workout routine or eating plan. Healthy truly is a state of mind, and it is all-encompassing. It is being comfortable with yourself, understanding what your body needs and taking time for self care. I think that holistic health and wellness includes five important areas: spiritual, mental, financial, relational and physical. Making sure we tend to each of these areas of our lives is so important! I always am keeping myself in check. If the physical is lacking, it usually means that something else is out of balance. I make sure to take time for myself, which is often hard to do - but necessary for sanity!
3. How do you manage working full-time, blogging, starting a business, and maintaining healthy habits?
It's exhausting! But totally worth it all at the same time! I have to admit there are times when I get overwhelmed by my To Do List, but I just have had to learn to prioritize. Living in a place like NYC, it is easy to constantly feel like you aren't doing enough, but I remind myself that if I try to do everything for everyone I won't get anything done or done well. Blogging over at Giant in Heels has been such a blessing. I've learned that I love writing - it's therapeutic and a great processing tool and has connected me to so many amazing women.
4. What do you do to prepare for the week/prepare in advance?
Lots of prayers and an awesome daily planner! It's my saving grace - I love it. At the beginning of every week I jot down hour-by-hour how my week will look. I make sure I allocate time for friends, workouts, bible study and blogging. I also make a To Do list for the week in each area of my life: Professional work, Blogging, General Life, Health and Wellness and B School. I used to be a big meal prep person, but recently I've gotten out of that habit. I will cook a few things for the week - like rice, quinoa, roasted veggies - but other than that, I'm pretty free when it comes to nutrition planning!
5. Everyone needs a support team. Who do you have in your life that helps to support your healthy living efforts?
All my ladies! My roommates and I all joined ClassPass - a fitness membership service that allows members to try out new studios all over their city for $99 a month. If ClassPass is available in your city, I highly recommend it! My roommates and I have really enjoyed planning our workouts around each other. Also, I have quite a few friends in the health and wellness community, so I'm constantly learning from them. Their commitment to a healthy lifestyle is inspiring and keeps me going!
6. How does your faith in God affect your sense of health and wellbeing? Is there a spiritual aspect to your health?
Where do I even begin? My faith is the absolute foundation to who I am, what I believe and how I relate to others and myself. It touches all areas of my life, including health and wellness. When speaking to the physical aspects of health and wellness, I know that my body is a temple. I am supposed to treat it well, as it is a dwelling place for the Holy Spirit. Loving the body God created, eating nutrient-rich foods and exercising regularly will only further enrich my spiritual life. I actually use my workout time as my alone time with God. I will pray, listen to sermon podcasts or worship music. It's such a unique and great way to glorify and worship the Lord.
7. What are the major roadblocks/obstacles for you when it comes to health, and how do you overcome those roadblocks?
For me, when I try to control too much of my diet or exercise routine, I find myself getting overwhelmed. I want health and wellness to be an enjoyable thing - not something else to add to my already mile-long To Do list. I have to make sure that I am enjoying the process, not putting too much pressure on myself and giving myself grace when things don't go perfectly to plan (because they never do and that's okay!) I also feel like health and wellness is such an evolution. It changes over time, during different life stages and where you are on your journey of discovering who you really are and what your purpose in life is. That's why I love it so much!
8. What is your favorite way to sweat?
I'm a huge fan of bootcamp fitness classes. I love the challenge, the intensity and the satisfaction of a job well done post class. Everything from the pump-up music, to the high energy instructors gets me going. My favorite studio in NYC is Barry's Bootcamp. You can't go wrong with any of their classes! Also, I am a runner by nature. One of my favorite ways to decompress is to pop on a great playlist (90's music, anyone!?), lace up my sneaks and scurry on over to the West Side Highway running path. It's right along the water, so peaceful and just a great way to process and think through the happenings of the day or week.
9. Do you have a favorite recipe? If so, please share!
I'm a basic girl who eats very basic things. I know this may sound ridiculous to some, but I really do crave salads. It is my go-to meal for lunch, and I like them nice and hearty! I'll start with a kale base, include lots of veggies like mushrooms, cucumbers, carrots, zucchini, and then add in some egg whites, edamame, olives or a cheese and some nuts. If I don't put an avocado on top, I'll drizzle some olive oil and salt and pepper for some extra flavor. I'm a vegetarian, so I make sure that I include protein-rich non-meat items!
10. If you could teach your future/hypothetical daughter(s) one thing about being healthy, what would it be?
I would tell her so many things, but mostly that she would know that she is loved, cherished and known. That her goal in life should not to be beautiful, but to serve and worship the living God. That her weight does not signify success or failure. It does not add to, confirm or deny her worth - nor does it increase her goodness. Be kind to her body, feed it well - with food, with positive relationships and with the Holy Spirit!
11. Any other healthy tips that you would like to share?
Kale is great. Almond milk hot chocolate will make your heart sing. And kickboxing classes really are quite therapeutic. Make sure you don't spend so much time being healthy that you miss out on the good stuff in life. And sometimes that includes a not-so-healthy Mac-n-cheese dinner or a cookie cake piece for dessert. Live in the moment. Be present. Take long walks and have fun!