• Leily Farman-Farmaian

Inside Her Regimen with Katy Ho


"Love yourself because you are the person you are going to be spending the rest of your life with."

Growing up in Alberta, Katy has always been health and wellness oriented, having played several sports including martial arts throughout her life and putting an emphasis on eating healthy. Making the transition to university, she had to adjust her health and wellness routines, seeing it as an opportunity to re-evaluate what worked best for her. Now, Katy is a budding model who has worked with fashion startups and as part of the Young Women in Business organization to raise awareness about diversity, ethics and sustainability in the fashion industry. Her hopes are for a world where there are no expectations to look a certain way and the emphasis is on how you feel as an individual. She took the time to speak to us about her wellness now as she navigates her busy schedule of completing her business degree, her involvement in activism on campus, and in her efforts in the fashion industry while keeping health as her number one priority.

What does being your #WholeSelf mean to you?

The biggest thing for me is being authentic which starts with knowing who you are. The first step is understanding your values because once you know what they are, you can start forming your goals and intentions. Along the way, it's important not to care what other people think and not to give up in order to reach your potential.

How does your day get started?

I like to start my day by washing my face, which is refreshing and helps me wake up. Staying active is important to me so I like to go for a workout in the mornings, usually to the gym or a spin class. I like to stay hydrated during the day. When I get back home, I do a short 5-minute meditation to clear my mind and adjust to where my energy should be during the day. An essential part of my morning is making a list of things I'm grateful for. It helps me live a positive life since it’s hard to feel down when you recognize points in your life that make you feel lucky and happy. I then listen to a Ted Talk to set the tone for the day, basically to stay open minded, curious, and open to learning new things. Finally, I end my mornings with a nutritious breakfast to power me through the day.

What does wellness mean to you?

Wellness is pretty simple to me. A lot of people have different expectations of what it should be but I believe that it's about feeling your best.

How do you incorporate wellness throughout the rest of your day?

One of the biggest things I’ve been learning for the past years is mindful eating, which is basically understanding what you’re putting into your body and what that means. I used to be vegetarian and now I'm vegan because I realized that you can’t do your best if what you’re putting in your body doesn’t align with your values. One of mine is being mindful of the environment. Wellness is also the relationships you have with the people around you, which I believe should be positive and add value to your life.

Share with us a bit about how your wellness journey started?

I have always been involved with wellness in a way. I did sports when I was little: volleyball, badminton, and martial arts. I was used to having a fitness routine, so it was a pretty big adjustment when I started going to university. The biggest challenge was moving to Vancouver on my own but this meant that I got to experiment with what worked best for me in creating a new routine balanced with classes.

When did you know you had a message you wanted to share?

It started in high school when I was learning more about feminism and intersectional feminism. Growing up as a minority, you can experience things that others don’t and this impacts how you feel about yourself. There weren’t many role models, who looked like me, to follow especially when it came to health and wellness. What I wanted to do was set an example for women and girls.

How do you make time for balance and self care?

I really think that health should always be a priority, especially for students and people who have sources of stress in their lives. We live in a world with competing priorities, which means that we sometimes neglect important areas of our lives, including our health. But staying healthy is vital. Women are giving, but I realized you can’t fully give back to the world if you aren’t feeling like your best self.

We all have stress, we're curious- what do you do to manage it, and how has your outlook on stress changed?

I used to think of stress as a negative thing, as most people do, because actually experiencing it isn't fun. But as I learned more about mindfulness, I realized you need to listen to your body to understand what it needs. Stress is just one of the ways your body communicates with you. The first step is to shift your mindset on stress and to understand that it’s just your body trying to send you a message. Taking a moment and tuning into your body to understand what you need at that moment is important, whether it be a nap or drinking water. I found that some great ways to deal with stress are meditating, reading, writing or spending time with friends who energize you. Writing is something I especially like doing since it’s the process of trying to make sense of the thoughts in your head so it can help you understand yourself better by training you to listen.

What is your go-to snack for a pick me up in the daytime?

Fruits are very good because they give you essential nutrients but they also satisfy your sweet tooth in a healthy way. My favourites are apples, oranges, raspberries, and blueberries.

Of the following 7 pillars- (nutrition, sleep, cognition, mood, cycle, fitness, and beauty) - which are the highest priority for you, and why? They are all important but my highest priority would be cognition. As a student and a thinker, it’s really important for me to make sure my mind is working at its best. Your cognition leads into your values, intentions and goals and that informs the other pillars.

How do you define innovation?

Innovation is using your creativity to create something that is disruptive, transformative, and challenges the way things are currently done.

What are your favourite skincare tricks & products?

I like to keep my skincare routine simple. The first step is to know your skin type. Personally, I have combination skin and I use the chia seed face wash and face cream from The Face Shop. That said, the best thing for taking care of your skin is eating healthy and staying hydrated. What you put in your body is reflected on your skin so if you’re eating healthy it will show.

How do you and your inner network support each other in living your best lives?

When I spend time with people, we try to do healthy and dynamic activities, like going outside, doing spin classes, yoga, hikes. We also like going out to eat, being mindful of the places we choose. One of my main values is being respectful of the environment so we try to make the most ethical choices we can like going to zero waste cafés. When it comes to communication, I make sure that when I have conversations with people I care about, I really listen and understand what they’re going through, providing them with support.

What are your favourite wellness trends?

I think I’ve mentioned it in almost all of the questions, but mindfulness is one of the best trends. I think that it's different from others because it can have a long-term impact on your health, not just through meditation but living your life mindfully from your diet to relationships, taking a step back and understanding the significance of each choice you’re making.

And, your least-favourite?

I don’t know if this is a trend, but the idea of diets and weight loss in general. I think it's detrimental to health if all you’re focused on is your physical appearance because the expectations are unrealistic. The truth is that everyone has a different body shape and different things work for different people, so the idea that we all fit in a mold is terrible. We should focus on our inner beauty instead of what society expects us to do and a message I would like to send is to love yourself because you are the person you are going to be spending the rest of your life with.

Do you have any advice for our audience on how to stay positive, and maintain a good outlook?

Yes! The biggest thing that helped me is being around people who lift you up and make you feel good about yourself. Think about your relationships with others and if there are any people who are having a negative impact on you, cut them out. Maximize time with people who make you feel good. Another would be writing out your goals. Having them written out is a reminder that you’re working towards something. Keep track of what inspires you. For example, I keep track of quotes and art, keeping them in a folder on my phone. Whenever I’m feeling demotivated, I go back and look at them to revitalize my understanding of why I'm doing what I'm doing.

What advice do you have for someone who's ready to start sharing their message?

Be authentic, because the cool thing about sharing your story is that people are interested in you not in a cookie cutter version of someone else. Everyone has something unique to bring to the table and you’re doing yourself and others a disservice if you aren’t being true to yourself. That will lead to your success.

When in the grocery store- what do you pick up?

I cook 100% vegan. A really good product is Gardein, which is a great source of protein and a meat substitute. As well, tofu and tempeh. I also make sure my fridge is stocked with fruits and vegetables, and that I have nuts and tortilla chips to snack on.

What's your big vision?

My hope is always to inspire others, because, as I said, I didn’t really have any role models growing up and I believe there is more room for diversity and representation in all aspects of life. I believe that by investing in myself, I can use those skills to pave a better path for women in future generations. I don’t have a specific goal because I think you need to be flexible and welcome opportunities as they come.

At the end of the day, how do you complete your regimen?

I like to end my day by washing my face again, because I think it's a refreshing way to cleanse yourself of the day. I like to light scented candles and will read poetry or do some writing as a great way for me to wind down and sleep.

Health-wise, what is your vision of an ideal world?

I would like it to be a world where there are no expectations of what a person should look like. As of now, if you want to be healthy, there’s the expectation that you should look a certain way, but each person is unique in their body and what works for them. Paired with that would be a world where everybody feels good about themselves and where they could live more mindful lifestyles, treating themselves and others well, while minimizing harm to the environment.

A big thank you to Katy for speaking with us! We're so inspired with her involvement with activism, passion for sustainable fashion and outlook on health and wellness. You can find her on Instagram: @mskatyho

#Interview #Health #Wellness

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