Karena Dawn and Katrina Scott, co-founders of Tone It Up, have built a wildly successful workout empire on the basis of their friendship. The two met in 2008 while working out at the same gym. They started filming YouTube fitness videos, and eventually gained millions of loyal subscribers.
They have their Tone It Up app, a New York Times best-selling book, Tone It Up: 28 Days to Fit, Fierce and Fabulous, and a line of fitness apparel, bars, and accessories.
This year, they’re celebrating the 10-year anniversary of their partnership. Katrina and Karena sat down with Thrive to talk about how they stay motivated to work out, ways to be more mindful, and just move a little more.
Thrive Global: What is your morning routine?
Karena Dawn: If I don’t have a morning routine and just jump out of bed and get straight into the day, I am never mentally clear for the day. I start by setting my alarm every morning by 6:00 a.m. and I have a cup of room temperature water.Then I meditate, and I don’t look at my Instagram or my emails until after I’m done meditating. I move into my workout and then I get on with my day. Meditation and visualization is always the first thing in the morning. My morning routine starts the night before as well. I put things in my calendar in my phone and in my planner before I go to bed plotting out what my next day looks like. I review it so that I mentally prepare for the next day.
Katrina Scott: I am the bad example. I roll over, open my email, and run to my baby, who is probably up either crying or ready for the day. So I’m working on my morning routine, and I think it’s okay to also be in the process of something. For anyone that’s in the process of developing their ideal morning routine, it’s all about little steps. I think maybe a new goal for me could be to wake up before Bella wakes up.
TG: Have you ever fallen off the fitness wagon?
KD: I have definitely fallen off. It was a few years ago when there were some health problems with my mom and I spent all of my time taking care of her. I remember experiencing the highest stress. It was really hard and I couldn’t even get out of bed in the morning — I wasn’t feeling motivated. I just put everything into that and I forgot my own existence. It got to the point where I had to slow down because obviously if you don’t take care of yourself, how can you really truly do all you can to help and take care of other people? So I put my foot down and I put myself first again.
KS: We always talk about how women are so naturally nurturing, but it’s so easy for us to say, “Someone needs me, forget me.” When I had my daughter, I wanted to spend that time with her and I didn’t want to rush back into fitness post-baby. Your fitness journey is always there waiting for you and you can start any day. If you’re going through a tough time, then go through that process and pick yourself back up. But just know that everyone goes through it and there’s always a time that you can start again — you don’t have to start on a Monday.
KD: And don’t keep it to yourself. If you’re feeling unmotivated, go to a friend, go to a partner, and say, “I need help with my motivation right now.”
KS: It’s hard to ask for help. I feel like we get very proud, especially as nurturing mothers, so asking for a helping hand can even be to go out for a walk.
TG: How do you stay motivated?
KD: I stay motivated because I know how a great mental state feels. And if I go three or four days without working out, I know that I feel sluggish, I feel mentally drained, and I don’t have as much energy. We always say you never regret a workout.
KS: It starts with gratitude — that is where you can find motivation. Get into that mindset — “I am so lucky that I can go take time for me” or “I’m so lucky that I can go walk with my daughter outside.” Instead of saying, “I have to work out,” you say, “I get to work out.” The moment you start experiencing self doubt and complaining, catch yourself within the first few seconds of that alarm going off and list three things you’re grateful for and just change your mindset right away.
TG: How do you destress?
KS: The number one way to destress is to have fun. If you are in a stressful situation, think about what brings you joy and what makes you happy. And if you can’t just drop everything and do that, try calling someone who makes you happy, someone that brings joy to your life.
KD: For stressful situations when I’m not feeling connected to myself, I actually have a list of 10 things that I love to do — 10 things that make me happy. That could be getting out in nature, reading a book, calling a friend, or playing with my puppy, just little tiny things. I keep the list in my notebook and go to that list to get out of my head.
TG: What are some easy ways to sneak in fitness as a new mom?
KS: For moms, especially new moms, everyone talks about getting your body back and snapping back. We’re not going backwards, we only want to go forward. And so instead of trying to get back into our jeans or back into the clothes that we fit into before we became literally superwoman, I want you to think about what you are going to do today or tomorrow or this weekend that’s for yourself. It could be a 10 minute workout, or 20 minute workout.
I feel like I had a lot more time in my 20s and early 30s to dedicate to fitness, and I still feel strong and in the best shape of my life, but I’m not working out for an hour a day. I’m doing 20 minutes here and there and that’s OK. Start small and know that’s huge.
TG: What are some of your favorite tips to get back to being more mindful about what you put in your mouth?
KD: You work out to nourish your body and your mind, and you feed yourself to nourish your body and your mind. So think about it that way. Mindful eating and what you put in your body is making you healthier so you can be present for everyone else. And we always say “lean, clean, and green.” So if you’re looking at a menu, just think, “Is it a lean protein? Is it clean without any chemicals?” Fill your plate with greens.
TG: How do you wind down at the end of the night?
KS: Your evening routine is just as important as your morning routine. Set the alarm and plug in the phone across the room. Then visualize your next day and set those goals about how you want your morning to go, how you want your day to go, and you can make that happen. That’s the most magical, most beautiful part about your life — that you can do it all and you are in control of all of it.
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