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Staying SoYoung: Catherine Choi

Catherine is the founder and president of SoYoung

What’s your workout routine? What physical activities do you do to ensure you’re looking and feeling your best?

For me, physical activity and mental health go hand in hand. No matter how busy I get, the one thing that I’ve done consistently for over twenty years is fit a workout schedule into my life. My workouts have changed dramatically over the last twenty years and have shortened in length. I now ascribe to the belief that you really don't need to workout for very long. I think it's all about the intensity.

 

No matter how busy I get, the one thing that I’ve done consistently for over twenty years is fit a workout schedule into my life.

I like to mix up what I do. I do fifteen-minute high-intensity interval training workouts, but I also go for a long run once a week with one of my really good friends, which for me is as much an emotional bonding experience as a physical activity that I look forward to.

Yoga is also something that I have incorporated in smaller bits into my life. I'm not someone who does yoga every day, but a couple of times a week I wake up thinking “I have to do some yoga right now”. I typically do fifteen to thirty-minute youtube yoga routines (my favorite is Sara Beth Yoga) and it’s just enough for me! And today I actually tried my first spinning class called Rocket Cycle, which was fun. It was almost like a spiritual experience!

 

How do you ensure you’re getting a mental break?

Meditation is something that I have been able to incorporate into my life after many years of struggling with it on and off. I've taken meditation courses and studied for a year with a Zen Shiatsu teacher who incorporated meditation into the program. As with everyone, it's hard to find the time to be still, but I've finally figured out how to incorporate it into a regular routine.

I generally meditate at least once a day if not twice for fifteen to twenty minutes. On a personal level, it's a pursuit of study for me. I am always learning more about different methods of meditation, with my latest interest being alpha mediation. And we actually meditate in the office now which I'm really happy about! I used to be very self-conscious about meditating in front of my staff - I was worried about appearing weird. So it surprised me when one of my team members asked if we could do it together. Now pretty much every day, we set our timers at one o'clock and we take a fifteen-minute meditation break. 

How do you ensure you’re making healthy eating choices throughout the day?

Eating is one of my obsessions and I’ve found that I have to be very intentional to eat healthily. I can't just wing it -  but some days I have to wing it - especially when I'm traveling and I just make the best choices I can. However, generally, it's about planning and ensuring that all of the right things are stocked and within easy reach. So on a really good week when I'm organized, I will do the meal planning for our family as well as for myself. And I typically bring my breakfast and my lunch to work as well as snacks.

 

It's about planning and ensuring that all of the the right things are stocked and within easy reach.

 

Everyone's in the office is always making fun of how much I eat! I actually don’t eat that much but I eat often. One really good strategy I found is to make five salads for the week on Sunday, and then make sure that I have a protein in the fridge that I can throw into the salad. We have a little fridge at work and I keep some salad dressing in there all the time. I can pretty much guarantee that I’ll eat much better if I do that.

How do you structure your time with your family? Are there any routines you have that help you maintain a positive lifestyle together?

Because I'm a morning person I like to get up and out of the house before everyone's awake. So morning is a time when I really have to make the decision that, today I'm going to walk my kids to the bus stop or today I'm going to make my kids a nice breakfast, which happens a couple times a week. When it comes to dinnertime, we eat our meals together every evening.

We also make the point of playing games together as a family. Lately, it's been family games of Uno. We also typically go out as a family for dinner once a week and right now we're all ramen-obsessed - everybody agrees that they love ramen! We also try and find a time at least once a week to do something together as a family, such as go to the park or ride our bikes.

I made a decision at a certain point that my kids were old enough to help out with daily chores. Now they pack all their lunches and snacks the night before (including fruits and veggies) add their ice packs in their lunch boxes, and stick their lunch boxes in their backpacks. They also wash out all the containers when they got home.

My next goal is to teach my kids how to cook because it's something I'm passionate about and such an important skill. I once expressed to my kids that I thought it was really important that they learn how to take care of themselves in case something ever happens to me. My daughter (who was 4 at the time) piped up “Yeah, like if you die or go to jail”.

How do you maintain a supportive relationship with your partner? Do you have any rituals just for the two of you?

Because we work together, we see each other a lot and we have to make sure that we’re not just going on about the business all the time. So we try to plan a date at least once every week or two - usually an extended lunch on a Friday, a romantic dinner or a movie night out - and try to keep the conversation on non-SoYoung related topics (it's hard!). 

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