Empowered Movement: Discover Your Strength

The inaugural Empowered Movement event was held on July 19th at The Baker House in East Hampton, co-presented with James Lane Post. As the name suggests, it’s an event that aims to give guests a new authority over their bodies and strength over their lives in a 30-30-30 format: a 30-minute panel discussion, a 30-minute workout, concluded by 30-minutes of networking.

We had a panel of well-received wellness industry experts— SLT’s founder Amanda Freeman, DanceBody’s co-founder and COO Courtnay Mariani, Paddle Diva’s founder and CEO Gina Bradley,  and CoreBarreFit’s co-founder Fred DeVito. They each discussed their journeys as business owners and how certain physical motions can improve mental strength to overcome obstacles. Just like power posing, there are movements we can tap into during our workouts that deliver the confidence we need to push through adversity. To apply this theory, immediately following the panel was a Hip Hop Hits class from DanceBody, intended to let go of inhibitions and discover true strength, followed by refreshments and light bites.

The better we can harness the power of mental strength the more empowered our lives will feel, and the stronger we become. “Empowered Movement: Discover Your Strength” embodies what happens when you combine the elements of connection, community, and conversation to bring a brand’s narrative to life, and it is a true representation of the Nikki On The Daily brand.

As it grows, I hope to see you at the next one.

Sponsors included: Owyn, Liquid Death, Scott’s Protein Balls, Silverspoon Specialties, Barry’s, Inner Beauty, iTri, and Platedate.

The inspiration behind Empowered Movement

Strength is often associated with physical ability, but we underestimate the power strength has on our minds. It turns out that there is a direct correlation between mental strength and physical fitness. 

You’ve likely heard the term “mind-body connection” in regards to mental health. How we feel on the inside can positively or negatively impact the way our bodies function. But mental health and mental strength are not the same. There’s another layer to the mind-body connection. While mental health addresses a mental state, mental strength deals with how we cope with our emotions. A better breakdown is that mental health is a noun and mental strength is a verb. So, while mental health is important, developing mental strength can improve cognitive function and emotional stability. What’s more, it can make us physically stronger.

Sports Psychology Today explains that “mental training is the segment of sports psychology that concentrates specifically on helping athletes break through the mental barriers that are keeping them from performing up to their peak potential.” And studies have shown that individuals who combine mental training with physical training see a significant increase in overall strength and performance. That’s because when we increase emotional resilience and awareness we are better prepared to handle adversity—the adversity we feel within and the physical challenges ahead of us.

For years I’ve used the social media hashtag #StrongNotSkinny, as a tool to bring awareness that strength should be celebrated over body type. However, it wasn’t until I started to run that I was able to truly tap into mental strength. It was the conscious effort to show up, pushing through the discomfort and stigma I long held about running, that transformed how I ran. Mental training taught me that I didn’t dislike running, I disliked the adjustment. And, most importantly, it wasn’t that I couldn’t run but rather I had to work through the mental barriers that stopped me from trying. That’s when an idea hit. If more people understood the power of mental strength would they, too, be able to accomplish more of their fitness goals? That’s how Empowered Movement was formed.

6 Tips on How to Become a Runner, From a Non-runner

Running is an invisible divide between where our mind and our feet take us. The goal is to balance that divide from beginning to end.

When I first started to run my mantra was an internal dialogue of “nope, nope, nope.” With every step, eventually, that turned into “okay, okay, okay.” In time, it became an enthusiastic “yes! yes! yes!” That’s because running is flat-out horrible when you first do it, and anyone that tells you otherwise is either lying to you or themselves. But here’s the good news—it gets better. 

As a non-runner, the hardest obstacle to overcoming my negative mindset was to simply begin.  I wanted to chase the runner’s high I heard so much about, at least to see if I could achieve it. In time I came to learn that running isn’t about running at all. Rather, it’s about the mind-body connection that results from a continuous stride forward.

“The miracle isn’t that I finished. The miracle is that I had the courage to start.” —John Bingham, American marathon runner 

Here are six tips on how to become a runner, from a non-runner.

Pick your happy place

“Never limit where running can take you. I mean that geographically, spiritually, and of course, physically.” — Bart Yasso, chief running officer for Runner’s World magazine

Every run begins with a single step. For beginners, it’s where you choose to make that first step that matters most. While convenience is practical when you first start it isn’t everything. To become a runner you need to first pick a place that makes you happy. Whether that’s the treadmill in your home, a scenic view outside your front door or a destination you have to drive to your first step as a runner needs to be somewhere that you look forward to showing up. When you create a positive association with running you’re more likely to lace up. 

Choose your playlist

“Eventually you learn that the competition is against the little voice inside you that wants you to quit.”—George Sheehan, author

Running is repetitive. It’s the same motion from start to stop, which can either free your mind or hold it captive. For beginners, it’s usually the latter. To avoid getting stuck in a pessimistic loop, prepare your running playlist ahead of time. Traditional workout playlists don’t always work because, unlike your gym workout, there is no break between reps. Be open to the idea of background noise, a continuous melody, meditation, podcasts, or even sans a playlist completely. To become a runner you’ll need to determine what gets you in the mental space to hit the ground running, literally. 

Create mental markers

“Ask yourself: ‘Can I give more?’. The answer is usually: ‘Yes’.” — Paul Tergat, Kenyan former professional long-distance runner.

When you run for the first time you won’t know what your body is truly capable of. Your mind will create excuses on why you should quit, slow down, or take a break. “I can’t go any further.” “It hurts to breathe.” “I ran enough.”  Don’t listen. Instead, focus on your body. 

A great way to check in with yourself is to break down the run with mental markers. Focus on a corner, tree, lamp post, trash can, or street sign. Choose a marker that’s a short distance away but close enough that you feel comfortable crossing it. At each marker ask yourself if you can go any further and then repeat the process. Choose a point in the distance. Run to it. Check-in. When you break down the run into bite-size accomplishments you’re more likely to push your body to reach what it’s truly capable of. 

Track distance, not time

“That’s the thing about running: your greatest runs are rarely measured by racing success. They are moments in time when running allows you to see how wonderful your life is.” — Kara Goucher, U.S. Olympic women’s marathoner

There are two methods to measure a run— distance or time. While it’s natural to be preoccupied with what mile-per-hour group you fall into, as a beginner that’s a false way to track progress. You’ll naturally feel fatigued early on. Your legs will become sore, your head might hurt, and your lugs will almost certainly burn. This is all completely natural, you just need to push through it. As your body acclimates these symptoms will become more moderate, almost tolerable, and you might even achieve the elusive runner’s high when you hit a certain distance. Once you’re able to tune into your pace you will naturally increase your speed. Have patience. 

Learn your heart rates

“There is something magical about running; after a certain distance, it transcends the body. Then a bit further, it transcends the mind. A bit further yet, and what you have before you, laid bare, is the soul.” — Kristin Armstrong, former professional road bicycle racer and three-time Olympic gold medalist

As with any workout, your heart rate (heart beats per minute) is a good way to evaluate how hard your body is working. You want to push yourself without exceeding your maximum heart rate for too long, too often. The way to do this is to learn your resting heart rate and its rate in the five different training zones (1-2, long-distance; 3-4, speed; 5, sprint). To become a runner, begin with the lower zones (1-2) and as you build endurance you’ll work your way into the higher zones (4-5).


“Running has taught me, perhaps more than anything else, that there’s no need to fear starting lines or other new beginnings.” — Amby Burfoot, former American marathoner

The final step to becoming a runner is to commit to running. Do it on the days you don’t want to when life is most stressful. The days you’re tired and rather give up. Those are the moments you need it most. You’ll enter a meditative zone, the zone where you run away from life’s problems and towards clarity. Commit to one day a week, then more. Even a single mile counts as a run, it just takes that first step.

On average, I run about three days a week. Yet, I still don’t consider myself a runner because, even on my best days, I prefer other forms of exercise. But I run for the person I once was, the former self who became out of breath after four blocks that can now complete a 10k (with a lot of huffing and puffing). As a non-runner, I run because it pushes me out of my comfort zone. It’s both my starting line and finish line, every time.

“I often hear someone say I’m not a real runner. We are all runners, some just run faster than others. I never met a fake runner.” — Bart Yasso

The weekly wellness series is in partnership with James Lane Post, an East End experience.

48 Hours in Sequoia National Park

It’s difficult to imagine trees as tall as buildings, and wider than the average city street. But in eastern central California, in the Sierra Nevada, about a 4.5-hour southeast drive from San Francisco’s International Airport, you’ll discover a land of giants in Sequoia National Park.

What makes Sequoia National Park truly remarkable is the sheer size of the giant sequoia trees all around, which are oftentimes confused with California’s other natural skyscrapers the coastal redwoods. Though not necessarily the tallest in the world, the giant sequoia is the largest tree by volume with a trunk so massive that it is awe-inspiring. Imagine tilting your neck to view the full canopy above and only to discover full-size normal trees as mere branches of the giant sequoia—evidence of the volume, and strength, of the trunk.

Sequoia National Park

On your next California trip, put 48-hours in Sequoia National Park on your adventure list.

Where to stay: Three Rivers

Three Rivers is a village on the foothills of the Sierra Nevada along the Kaweah River and is about a 10-minute drive to the Ash Mountain Entrance Station of Sequoia National Park. You can find perfectly suitable AirBnBs or explore several of their lodging options. What makes this location special, aside from the location, is its small mountain town charm. 

Tip: If you’re driving in from the west, drive by Lake Kaweah at sunset for a breathtaking view over the golden hills.

Sunset at Lake Kaweah

Places to taste (right on the river)

Sequoia Coffee Company is an ideal spot for breakfast and the necessary coffee before your hikes.

Ol’ Buckaroo, a casual but inconspicuously delicious place for dinner. They do all of their cooking right from a food truck, and their meat is locally sourced.

Three Rivers Brewing Co., because all good destinations have microbrews that provide a deeper sense of the local community flavor.

Hikes by difficulty

Day 1: 

Big Trees Trail

Easy: Big Trees Trail: This 1.3-mile loop takes you on a walk around Round Meadow, an open field where the sun’s rays permeate the Giant Sequoias. In May you can find ladybugs by the dozens, a sign of good luck in some cultures.

Tip: For a relatively easy, but long, hike take the ultimate path: Big Trees Trail to Alta Trail, where you’ll pass top tree attractions of Washington Tree, The Cloister, Lincoln Tree, Room Tree, McKinley Tree, General Lee Tree, House Group (along the Congress Trail), Chief Sequoyah Tree, President Tree, and Senate Group. Then backtrack a bit along Congress Trail to see the Founders Group and Cattle Cabin before returning to Alta Trail for a loopback.

Moderate-to-difficult: Moro Rock Trail: It’s a 0.5-mile out-and-back that’s easy for some but dizzying for others. Although not a long trail, its chiseled path leads up the side of a giant rock that’s over 6,700 ft in elevation, with a summit overlooking the Great Western Divide.

Day 2: 

Difficult: Marble Falls Trail: This 7.4-mile out-and-back is not for the faint of heart as most of the trail weaves along the edge of the mountainous canyon, with few places to pass oncoming hikers. However, it’s a beautiful winding pathway with wildflowers that leads to Marble Falls where you can hear to water roar as you rest. 

These paths are interchangeable to pair with since Moro Rock Trail is a fairly quick hike. However, I’d recommend Marble Falls as a standalone adventure with some scenic sequoia stops.

Have you been to Sequoia National Park? Share your suggestions below!

The weekly wellness series is in partnership with James Lane Post, an East End experience

Empower Women

Millennials, and those born after us, associate Afghanistan with war. We know it as a distant place where our American soldiers have been fighting/protecting since the attack on September 11, 2001 and little else. Because of this timeline, most of us have only known the protections awarded to the Afghani people, and the progress made for women’s rights. But now the people, once again, face an uncertain future as Taliban rule grips the country, and fears mount over the restrictions imposed on Afghanistan’s women.

It’s hard to fathom what these women face. We live in a democratic society, at a time when females have been breaking the glass ceiling for decades, and continue to do so with each passing day. But imagine if it were all taken away. No more education, pursuit of career, or even the ability to walk alone. Imagine being an 15-year-old girl forced into marriage. Now, imagine this were your daughter, your niece, your sister. Those who have only known freedoms, happiness, to have it engulfed in flames, a wildfire of despair.

This weeks Weekly Wellness has a somber tone because woman all over the world ache over what Afghanistan is going through. In a flash flood of headlines, we’re suddenly made acutely aware of what little liberties our fellow females have, and the brutalities they face, in other parts of the globe.

While I won’t presume to give advice over what can be done abroad, I’d like to touch upon the ways we can further empower women in our backyards to achieve a healthy mindset.

Continue The Conversation

Surround yourself with a group of women that empowers one another. This can be a support group, network, or even your own family and friends. Together, tap into resources that provide accurate information on what goes on in other parts of the world. Typically, a .gov or .org site will have the most reliable data and facts. Through global awareness comes local accountability. When we continue the conversation on what occurs in other parts of the world it helps us appreciate what we have in our own backyards. Further, it encourages us to take action for ourselves that could, someday, help change the future for someone else and builds trusting relationships.


Education is a powerful tool that empowers women to achieve their goals— at all ages. When we take advantage of the tools available to us— schools, libraries, museums, etc.— we begin to think about the world in possibilities. It shapes our future and is a step towards gaining independence. It also builds confidence and promotes higher self-esteem.

Promote Body Positivity

As part of continuing the conversation and furthering education, women are empowered through body positivity— form to functionality. Learn all about your body and how beautiful it is, through every age and stage of life. Accept every piece of who you are and know that you are more than enough. When we take down the walls of negativity— the “should be” sizes, weights, images, status, career etc.— we build a positive mindset that leads to healthier habits.

It’s okay to feel helpless right now and need time away from the headlines. Unfortunately, not all of us are in a position to change what occurs on foreign ground. But know that you are not helpless. You have tremendous strength and ability to change the future and empower women right where you are. Think global, act local, and help create an informed community of support.

The Dimensions of Wellness

I participated in, and trained for, my first City Challenge Race (a 5k plus 20+ obstacles). I sought out new social connections, caught up on sleep, reunited with nature, hyper focused on business. All of these things individually should be fairly simple to balance. But collectively, when life got in the way, felt more like obligations than self-care.

Personal wellness takes on different meanings to different people. However, there are considered to be eight interdependent dimensions of wellness. Each one contributes to our ability to live a fulfilling and happy life. So, what are they? And better yet, how we do care for them? Let’s take a look.

Physical Dimension

Our physical dimension of wellness is what first comes to mind whenever the word “health” is thrown around. It’s our physical body. We watch our numbers (weight, heart rate, cholesterol levels, intake etc) and workout.

To care for it, incorporate a regular fitness routine and eat healthy. Listen to your body and any physical symptoms of stress or injury.

Emotional Dimension

As the Delta variant makes headlines our emotional dimension of wellness is perhaps taking the biggest hit right now: that’s our feelings. We’re unsure about the future, stressed, sad, maybe even confrontational in our beliefs with others. The emotional dimension of wellness is points to the relationship we have with ourselves and those around us.

A way to keep our emotions healthy is by understanding them. Be in tune in with yourself and those around you– positivity goes a long way. Seek out close relationships and carry regular conversations. On the other end, know that it’s okay to be alone at times too.

Intellectual Dimension

Knowledge is a superpower. When we educate ourselves we’re able to have diverse conversations, expand our interests, help others, and contribute to our personal growth and confidence. This is the intellectual dimension of wellness.

To dive deeper into this dimension, read a book or take a free online course. You can also look into museums, panel discussions, or workshops to tap into new interests.

Spiritual Dimension

Whether you belong to an organized religion or not, the spiritual dimension of wellness applies to everyone. It’s about being in tune with our personal beliefs and finding meaning in our every day lives. That could be the physical act of showing up to a house of worship or simply denying people/situations that aren’t aligned with your values.

Listen to podcasts, read books, or join groups that contribute to your spiritual wellbeing. Basically, trust your instincts and let your heart guide you.

Financial Dimension

This dimension of wellness is straightforward. Live within your means and plan for a financially sound future. Each transaction, from your savings account to the morning coffee, is either a deposit or withdrawal from your life. Beyond just ourselves, the financial dimension addresses the awareness of others and acknowledging that everyones economic situation is unique.

Care for this dimension by making a financial plan or chart. Where could you do better? How can you achieve your financial goals? When it comes to money sometimes seeing a plan laid out is better than just imagining it.

Occupational Dimension

We care for, or ignore, the occupational dimension of wellness on almost a daily basis. The work we get paid to do, whether it’s a job or a career, should contribute to our life’s satisfaction. This isn’t to say that we should all be actively pursuing our dream job in order to care for this dimension. It does mean, however, that our skills and talents should be put to good use and feel personally rewarding, emotionally and/or financially. When we do any act that contradicts our values or goals it directly impacts the rest of our life.

Take pride in your work by listing all of the things you enjoy about it. Don’t love what you do? Dedicate some time to a side job that you’re passionate about to balance it out.

Social Dimension

The World Health Organization defines health as the balance of physical, mental, and social wellbeing. When we socialize we feel connected to those around us and it provides a sense of purpose. The social dimension of wellness speaks to our involvement with our community, friends, family, and romantic relationships (and let’s throw in our pets, too). It’s caring for others and allowing them in turn, to care for us.

Plan quality time with others or partake in community activities. Set aside a day/time and stick to it– virtually or in person. Avoid checking your phone and minimize outside distractions. By being fully present those around you will feel connected and truly valued.

Environmental Dimension

The environmental dimension of wellness is a little trickier. It’s your physical surroundings and the way the environment impacts your life. Those in urban areas might find this dimension to be the hardest to care for as pollution (air, noise, light, litter) becomes so commonplace that it’s second ‘nature,’ so to speak. In actuality, Earth’s health directly correlates with our health and taking the right steps to protect Mother Nature only benefits us as well.

Clean your home, recycle, plan rural outings/trips, filter your water, or even take part in clean-up days. Learn more about your direct environment and the ways you can contribute to making it a better place.

It’s important not to feel overwhelmed by all of the wellness dimensions. They don’t need to be perfectly balanced to have a healthy, happy life! Take some time to focus on each dimension and evaluate which ones are running low. How can you incorporate a lifestyle change to ensure these dimensions are cared for? What habits can you incorporate? Every now and then carve out time to check in with yourself. It’s natural to feel overwhelmed and focus energy into pressing situations. But when we prioritize personal wellness we open ourselves up to a better world.

The weekly wellness series is in partnership with James Lane Post, an East End experience