Chōsen Expert Kat Hurley Offers Her Top Tips on Living Mindfully

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Kat Hurley is a transformational author, inspirational storyteller and personal-development coach who specializes in mindfulness. She is also a celebrity trainer and accomplished yogini who writes a daily blog – bringing mindfulness to the masses – at kathurley.com. Kat is the Chōsen Expert who teaches participants how to live mindfully, set and reach their goals, and reach their full potential.We spoke to Kat about her motivational secrets, morning routines and how to lead a fulfilling life. 

Can you tell us a little about yourself and where you call home?

I'm a life-long learner, avid athlete and adventurer. I'm naturally curious and creative and never go a day without reading, writing or meditating. I live in Brooklyn, New York City, with my inspiring wife, who is a nutritionist and chef, and two adorable – but rotten – kittens.

What prompted you to write I think I’ll Make It, your book about overcoming life’s obstacles, and how has that changed you as a person?

I’d felt that I could write the book for many years; something told me the story needed to be told. How has it changed me? It made me realize the importance of story and vulnerability– to connect with others. If you think about it, we only have about a dozen or so emotions that color our world. In that way, our stories intertwine. We may not have had the same experiences, but we understand each other through our emotional responses to circumstances. I learned this when readers told me, "I felt like you were telling my story." That made it all worth it, in my eyes.

You’re a motivational speaker. What are your best-kept motivational secrets?

Motivation is tricky because there are hurdles everywhere: environmental, physical, emotional, etc. I read just today, as a matter of fact, that there is a portion of the brain that keeps track of our failures. According to Kyra Bobinet, MD, the habenula inhibits our efforts to try again by restricting dopamine-releasing neurons. It is thought to have kept our primal ancestors from wasting time or endangerment by not repeating unsuccessful behaviors.How can we get around this pesky failure calculator? Set smaller, more attainable goals – only one to three important things each day. Do the most important thing first and gain momentum. All movement is momentum, so even if you can't finish a big task, break it down into the simplest step and do that one thing. Sometimes that's as simple as writing a quick email or making a phone call.The more we reach our smaller goals, the more we feel successful and will not fall into the failure slump. Baby steps, over time, can drive lasting change.

Do you have any advice for setting and conquering short-term and long-term goals?

Long-term goals are all about the “chunking” method. If you're going to train for a marathon, you need a plan –a doable, attainable plan. It's best to be specific in your goals. We don't do well with vague ideas like "get healthier." Clarity is huge. That could mean "quit smoking by June.” Or "lose 10 pounds by summer." Write your goal down, and track your progress.Short-term goals? Aim for one to three of the most important steps each day. Do nothing else until those are done. Just like kids, we need motivators and rewards. Choose healthy rewards so as to not increase negative habits: perhaps a massage, a vacation day or a small treat.

What’s your best memory from your time as a life coach?

I love the “a-ha” moments, when a client goes quiet and you realize they're processing a game-changing insight. Their entire life has the opportunity to change in that moment, if they allow it. It's an amazing thing to witness and be a catalyst for.

What’s are some small, positive changes that are easy to implement for a more fulfilling life?

DEVELOP A GRATITUDE PRACTICE:Gratitude literally saved my life. I was in the deepest depression, just eight or nine years ago, when a book suggested a simple gratitude practice: "Write down five things each day that you're most grateful for."Try not to repeat the same things every day. Once all the big stuff is down, you actually have to look for things to be grateful for. It changed my perspective entirely. Not only that, I've since read that some of the most successful people in the world have developed their own gratitude practices, so I'm in good company.BREATH/MEDITATION/MINDFULNESS PRACTICE:We have about 65,000 thoughts a day. Most are on repeat, and most are negative. Developing a mindfulness practice creates awareness around the inner monologue. Breath work and meditation allow you to create space between you and your thoughts, and give you better control of your response to your thoughts. This was also a huge game-changer for me. Start small: two to three minutes. Work your way up.ninjamassage_14NOURISHMENT:This could be food, drink, sleep, noise, TV, social media … literally everything we take in. Is it nourishing you or depleting you? I look for healthy organic foods to nourish me; thought-provoking articles, books, podcasts to nourish me; breath work, meditation and movement (running, walking, biking, lifting weights) to nourish me; like-minded friends and mentors to nourish and challenge me. The more I'm filled with my own nourishment, the more strength I have to withstand or tune out external criticism and chaos, as well as– and this is most important of all – the need for approval.

Do you have a morning routine? If so, what is it?

My ideal morning would be to wake up directly to mild-movement stretching. Then it’s straight into meditation, lemon water for alkalizing hydration, a very small breakfast or smoothie, a decent pre-workout warm-up, and then my workout. No emails or social media until after the workout.

What’s your view on digital detoxing, and do you do it?

I'm a big fan of digital detoxing, especially shutting off from evening to morning. Ideally, I would shut everything down at 9pm and not reboot until after 9am the next day, but every day is different for me – some days I'm at the gym by 6am.I'm a firm believer that impulsivity in one area of life can soon bleed into all areas of life. Think of how some people eat, drink, smoke, binge-watch TV, etc. Cutting the chord every so often is a great way to halt dependency.

How do you stay fit, healthy and happy?

I love all sorts of movement and I’m a huge proponent of play, so I incorporate that into my day as much as possible with dance breaks in the kitchen, Frisbee in the park after dinner, and skateboarding in the park. I surf, snowboard, hike and trail run. I'm also into yoga. As a personal trainer, I'm at the gym nearly five days a week, but I much prefer outdoor workouts. I have a TRX suspension trainer that I hang from a tree, and I also use resistance bands in my training a lot. I have a stand-up desk and my watch beeps every 20 minutes to remind me to move.As mentioned in the NOURISHMENT comment above, I eat with a "my body is a temple" mindset. I spent years destroying my body with drugs, excessive alcohol, fast food, and sugar and caffeine addictions. Now I'm in repair mode, hoping to undo all the stress I've already put on my body.I'm leaner, with more consistent energy and less stress. I don't take any meds and I’ve repaired an auto-immune condition that could have led to health problems in the future.I've never been happier. Thanks to my gratitude practice and daily mindfulness, I haven't had a bad day in more than seven years. No kidding!

Talk us through an average New York day in Kat’s life?

An average day includes a morning workout, and training with various clients at the gym until early afternoon. When there’s sunshine, I stop by Prospect Park, here in Brooklyn, for meditation (if I haven't completed it earlier) or a little journaling. I get home just after noon, eat lunch and play with my kittens before I switch gears into writer/blogger/podcaster/life-coach mode. I spend the afternoon walking and talking with clients, or writing, recording a podcast or meditation.In the evening, I head into Manhattan for a Toastmasters meeting, to meet my wife for dinner, or to attend a class or a show. When the weather is fine, date nights are often in the park with a picnic and the Frisbee, or we'll just stay at home and eat in. We usually work beyond the times we had planned– that’s the only problem with being so passionate about what you do!At night, I love to unwind with an Epsom salt bath and a book. My wife and I have an evening ritual once in bed, asking each other, “What was your favorite thing about today? How could I have been better for you?”

Is there a secret to reaching one’s full potential?

The secret is living in alignment – matching your innermost desires, thoughts and promises to your actions. Often, we say things we don't mean, or ignore the things that we want the most. When we get to the point where we cut out all the noise and begin to honor our intuitive voice,then we benefit from our most dependable guide. Then we are on our way to reaching our full potential.

What’s been your most rewarding moment at a Chōsen experience?

Conquering fears at Chōsen has been huge for me. Here I am, a personal-development "expert" who supposedly knows how to crush fear, and I'm shaking like a leaf on a rock, not ready to jump. It's a great reminder for me of how most of us feel about uncertainty and change.DCIM103GOPROAs I get further and further away from my fearful self, who was scared to make leaps in life, I forget why change can be so hard. And yet here I am on a ledge, stuck. When I jumped, I didn't just do it for me, I did it for all those who feel stuck and afraid. That was most rewarding!

Find out more about Kat and our other Chōsen experts here!