Women In Wellness: Featuring Natalie Rast
Natalie is the Head of People at Y7 Studio
Jennifer: Please introduce yourself in a few sentences for our readers
Natalie: I'm the Head of People at Y7 Studio - the yoga brand disrupting the fitness space. Our music-driven, heated, candlelit experience aims to create an inclusive space for clients to turn their focus inward and more deeply explore their individual practice.
J: What are you currently doing and how did you get into this field?
N: I worked for a marketing & events startup full-time throughout college and quickly realized that it was the people I worked with that got me out of bed in the morning. Uninspired by the marketing space, I immediately realized I wanted to jump into HR after graduating. I launched my career at Warby Parker but found myself craving more of a connection to health & wellness, a personal passion of mine. In the fall of 2016 I joined Y7 as one of the first corporate team members and built out the entire People function.
J: How do you balance a busy career as well as healthy personal life?
N: At Y7 we focus on providing our employees the same degree of nourishment we provide to our clients. However, we're still a lean startup team which at times makes it difficult to take my own advice. While each week looks different for me, below are some cardinal rules I follow:
-Mondays are my "me time" to reset and enter the week with a clear head: I try to schedule minimal meetings and I have a strict no socializing rule after work. My day is focused on catching up from whatever comes in over the weekend since our business runs 7 days a week, and at night I always make dinner and veg on the couch with a face mask.
-One night a week (typically Tuesdays or Wednesdays) I commit to working later at the office. Because I know it's not every night, it doesn't come as a chore for me. This can obviously shift during incredibly busy weeks, but I try to keep it to 1-2 nights per week.
-Thursdays & the weekends are my time to catch up with friends. I leave the office at 6pm and love to check out new restaurants & bars in the city.
-At least one weekend day I make sure I'm completely off email. I don't have work notifications set up on my phone in general, but I'm consistently checking it nonetheless. If I don't do this I notice I'm in a significantly worse headspace for the rest of the workweek.
J: At the beginning of the day, how do you prepare for a good day and at night, how do you wind down before bed?
N: I'm not big on New Year's resolutions, but this year I made a commitment to start my mornings earlier + slower. I always get my workout in in the morning as I find it boosts my energy and gives me my evenings free to wind down. However, prior to this January I was giving myself 10 minutes to get ready and sprint to my workout class. I've started waking up an extra 20 mins earlier, reading a daily meditation (Journey to the Heart is my favorite book right now!) and writing in my gratitude journal. This shift has been huge to allow me to go into the day with a clear mind and I find that I have even more energy. My nightly routine varies based on what I’m doing but in general the biggest thing I try to do is avoid checking my work email 1-2 hours before bed.
J: What does your daily wellness routine look like?
N: I typically work out 5-6 days per week with a mix of Y7, Modelfit, Soul Cycle, New York Pilates & Pure Barre. Since college working out has been much more than a physical release for me, it's what keeps me sane. I've tried for years to get into meditating and have recently come to terms with the fact that a moving meditation is much more effective for me. I typically get my workouts in before work but I'm lucky that I can also squeeze in a class during lunch if I notice my body needs sleep.
In terms of nutrition, I focus on giving my body what I know will make it feel good. Most weekdays that means loading up on veggies & proteins that will give me the energy I need throughout my day (morning smoothies are my go to & I generally make my lunch every day). Most weekends & evenings with friends that means wine, pizza, chocolate & cheese plates (I make a mean cheese plate!). I used to nitpick what I ate to the point where I was afraid to eat fruit that was too high in sugar. Monitoring what I ate so closely made a minimal difference in my physical body but definitely took a toll on my mental & emotional health.
J: In such a busy and fast-paced city, how do you find time for yourself during the day?
N: An excellent question that I'm still working to perfect! I've mentioned my morning routine, but I also make it a point to get out of the office every day. Even if it's just a 15 minute walk, I try to avoid looking at my phone and allow myself to (attempt) to focus on myself.
J: Any tips to avoid burnout?
N: Take real days off! I recently got to a place where I was convinced that if I worked one more weekend or worked one more late night I'd be "caught up". The reality is that we'll never be "caught up". I took a two week vacation and I was completely off work emails – the longest I’d ever gone since starting at Y7. My team knew that if there was an urgent situation I was available via text. I came back with a renewed understanding to prioritize what I need and remember that whatever is left will be waiting for me tomorrow.
J: What are three things you could not live without?
N: Wine, cheese & my incredible support system of female friends (that includes my amazing coworkers!)
J: What book/podcast are you currently reading/listening to?
N: Places I Stopped on the Way Home by Meg Fee
J: What is the best advice you've been given?
N: Recently I was talking to a friend about a situation from years ago that I wished I'd handled differently. She said to me: "I firmly believe that in any given moment we're always doing the best we can". It seems so obvious, but it really stuck with me. I tend to be an over-thinker and my brain is always going a mile a minute overanalyzing past & future situations (I know, not very yogi of me). It was a reminder to live in the present moment and recognize that every experience is an opportunity for learning & growth rather than regret.
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