How 6 Badass New York Women Stay Powerful

Life in New York City can move pretty fast. When early morning commutes meet late lunches, one too many cups of coffee, and a work day that way surpasses the average 9-to-5, it's hard to find even the slightest bit of time in the day to dedicate to yourself.

The funny thing is, your success throughout the day may actually be relative to how you treat yourself — mentally, physically, and emotionally. And, when it comes to making room in our schedules for just a little "me" time, we tend to put our minds and bodies on the back burner in favor of taking that last-minute meeting or drinks with friends.

In celebration of powerful women — and feeling good, above all else — we asked seven seriously successful New York ladies (across different career trajectories), to share their tips for taking care of themselves, even when it seems like their day may not allow for it.
Louise Parker, Model & Photographer

Tell me about your fitness/wellness routine.

"I try to get to the gym three to four times a week. My routine isn’t very aggressive — I spend 30 minutes on the elliptical, and then 15 minutes doing body-conditioning exercises. If I can’t make it as much as I’d like that week, I make a point to walk as much as possible during the day by avoiding the subway or cabs.

"I’ve always been a big eater, but am really lucky to have a fast metabolism. Therefore, I never put a limit on when or how much I eat, but rather, I pay attention to what sorts of foods I am eating. I’ll have yogurt or oatmeal for breakfast, a salad or sandwich for lunch, and then dinner always varies. I don’t like eating out too often, and instead prefer to cook for myself. Although I avoid junk food and soda, I tend to eat lots of plane food, burgers, and ice cream. I am also always snacking, but try to keep it healthy by having a bowl of Cheerios, an apple, or a handful of nuts. I always need some sort of sweet after dinner, so I'll sometimes just eat a piece of chocolate or a cookie.

"Since I don't have a regular 9-to-5 job, I am often traveling and overall have very little control over my daily schedule, so it is very important for me to be in control of other aspects of my life. Spending time with my friends and family is a huge priority. Pursuing my photography and other creative interests is also really important. I am really lucky to have this life outside of the fashion industry, because it gives me perspective."

What is your number-one secret to staying fit?
"Eating healthy and drinking lots of water."

When did you first fall in love with fitness, and why?
"I fell in love with fitness not too long ago, and it really took me by surprise. I was never a very athletic person and used to scoff at my friends for running marathons. I joined a gym in the winter, because I realized I needed a reason to get out of the house on days I wasn’t working. I started by just going there and sitting in the steam room, not even exercising. Slowly, the gym became a sort of personal ritual: a time and place for me to be alone and focus on myself."

How do you think feeling physically powerful correlates to your career success?
"As a model, your physical appearance may seem like the most important aspect of your job. But I’ve found that confidence is much more important. The more time I spend on my physical and mental wellbeing, the stronger and more confident I feel. Taking ownership of my time and my body is the most empowering thing."

How do you manage to find time in your busy day to focus on these things, especially with such a demanding job?
"It can be really difficult for me to stick to a routine, especially when I am traveling a lot. I use apps, like Sworkit, to keep my body moving when I can’t get to a gym. I try to pack my own snacks when I go on trips, too. But I also don’t beat myself up about it if I fall off my schedule for a week."

What advice would you give people who want to take better care of themselves?
"If you want to make physical improvements, you don’t have to (and shouldn’t) make a drastic change, like exercising every day or doing The Master Cleanse. Rather, slow and manageable changes in wellness will help you build up to your goal and give you the courage to keep pushing yourself."
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Gigi Burris, Milliner

Tell me about your fitness/wellness routine.
"I try to walk as much as possible! Walking is an easy way for New Yorkers to stay fit without having to take a class or go to the gym. I typically do one cardio workout a week (SoulCycle or running), and one yoga or Pilates-type class to stay limber. I have really enjoyed going to the Nike space on Grand Street to take yoga in the mornings.

"As for diet, I typically start the day with a homemade smoothie, or I grab a juice from Juice Press. Throughout the day I have small snacks, as opposed to large meals, and then dinner is my splurge. I like to have my meal with a glass of wine to unwind after a day of work."

Anything holistic?
"I say prayers and have a meditation for 20 to 30 minutes every morning to set the pace for a day of joy and peace!"

What's your number-one secret to staying fit?
"Use your energy in an active way. I love the high after working out; it's contagious in all areas of life."

How do you think staying physically powerful correlates to your career success?
"Starting your day feeling good helps you to tackle obstacles and allows you to have sustained energy, which is needed in this industry!"

How do you manage to find time in your day to focus on these things, especially with such a demanding job?
"I am a morning workout person — I set aside the time to do a workout each morning, otherwise, it would always get pushed back for appointments or a cocktail with friends."

What advice would you give people who want to take better care of themselves?
"Start small, so the idea of a healthy lifestyle does not overwhelm you. Every good decision you make is a step in the right direction. Also, it's okay to cheat sometimes — everyone loves cupcakes!"
Katie Sturino, Founder, Tinder PR and @The12ishStyle

Tell me about your fitness/wellness routine.
“I’m a former athlete. I played sports at a D1 school, so physical fitness has always been important to me and helpful in keeping me sane. Since college, I’ve done everything from running in Central Park to playing beach volleyball at Chelsea Piers. When I first moved to New York, I ran a lot, which inspired me to run the San Diego Marathon. After running, I got really into the gym culture here. I soon realized that, in order to keep fitness an integral part of my life, I needed to switch over to workout classes. After listening to coaches all of my life, my brain has been wired to take instructions; so fitness instructors have now taken over the role of my former coaches. Above all, I like to mix up my workouts.”

Do you have any wellness practices you follow?
"Staying physically fit and powerful are key to my mental health. On days I can’t make it to the gym, I rely on my Fitbit. I have such a demanding work schedule that blocking off time every day to work out sometimes doesn’t happen. As a result of my hectic life, I’ve adjusted my fitness goals and methods. I’ll try and catch up on phone calls while walking around my block, instead of taking them at my desk. I’ll take breaks from emails to do 25 jumping jacks. If I fit in at least 10,000 steps on a busy day, I feel proud of that accomplishment."

How about holistic ones?
"I take Viviscal for my hair, skin, and nails. I also have a Vitamix, and in the mornings I make myself a smoothie with flaxseed, chia seeds, and raw kale or spinach."

What is your number-one secret to staying fit?
“Variety. Mixing things up helps keep working out exciting. I switch gyms every couple of years, so I don’t get stuck in a workout rut. I love the Chelsea Piers gym, especially, because it reminds me of an athletic field house. You can try everything from barre class to surf class, sand volleyball to boxing...you name it. It really feels like an athlete’s gym.”

How do you think feeling physically powerful correlates to your career success?
“For me, feeling physically strong is key to a healthy mental life. Remaining active and fit helps me clear my head, so I can focus on what needs to get done.”

How do you manage to find time in your busy day to focus on these things, especially with such a demanding job?
“The truth is, sometimes I don’t. Some days are so busy that I don’t have time to devote to working out. That’s why I love my Fitbit. It makes me aware of my physicality, even on days when I don’t have time to do a 'traditional' workout. There are also things you can do during your work day to help you stay fit and focused. I take short breaks from my computer every once in a while, which helps me maintain my focus throughout a long day. I’ve also taken a cue from Leandra [Medine] of Man Repeller, who takes a break every day to 'Stop, drop, and exercise.' She posts videos of herself pausing mid-afternoon to do some crunches or Pilates for a couple of minutes. Every little bit helps!”

What advice would you give people who want to take better care of themselves?
“I’m big into self-acceptance. I’m not about killing yourself over your perceived imperfection, because really, no one is going to notice those five pounds anyway. It’s all about staying physically and mentally fit, and not going crazy over it. All you have to do is find whatever fitness routine works for you and keeps you happy.”
Elizabeth Webb, Director, Art Agency, Partners

Tell me about your fitness/wellness routine.
"I prefer to view my fitness regime as adult playtime, as opposed to a monotonous chore. No matter the weather conditions, exercising outdoors trumps any crowded gym for me. During summer, I play lots of tennis at the free courts on the West Side Highway (a block away from my apartment). If it’s winter, I enjoy a long-distance slow jog in the snow. I try to have my diet match this sort of seasonal calendar as well. I like to eat fresh food with simple ingredients made by me in my tiny kitchen — occasionally, I indulge in my favorite food...Flamin' Hot Cheetos."

What's your number-one secret to staying fit?
"If I constantly change my routine, I never get bored: rock climbing, swimming, running, rollerblading...but I hate Pilates."

When did you first fall in love with fitness, and why?
"Only recently. I was never the varsity athlete, and I have never been a size two. Falling in love with fitness has required I shake off all those insecurities that have piled up sky-high over the years. I no longer compare myself to the Energizer Bunny on the spin bike next to me, or the Hercules running through Soho with a six-pack. It's all about me, and the beer I allow myself to have after."

How do you think staying physically powerful correlates to your career success?
"They are deeply connected, actually! Form, breathing, focus — these all equally affect a round of tennis as they might a meeting with a boss for a pay raise."

How do you manage to find time in your day to focus on these things, especially with such a demanding job?
"My job requires I constantly go from gallery to gallery to view art. If I am too slammed to work out in the morning or evening, I will make sure I walk to Chelsea or the Lower East Side to see an exhibition, rather than taking a cab."

What advice would you give people who want to take better care of themselves?
"Be kind to yourself. So you didn't burn 600 calories on the elliptical and post it on Instagram like Khloé Kardashian. A 1.5-mile jog is still moving your ass, and that is worthy of a little self-love."
Lilly Hartley, CEO, Candescent Films

Tell me about your fitness/wellness routine.
"I am not a gym person; I prefer to be outdoors in nature. But city life — as we know — can make that difficult. When I am in the city, I love Ballet Beautiful in Soho (they also offer Skype sessions, which is great for the traveling entrepreneur), yoga with Kristin McGee, and dance Cardio Body sculpt with Katherine Greiner at KGBody. When I manage to get out of the city, my favorite fitness activity is a nice, long beach walk."

Do you have any wellness practices you follow?
"I actually quit coffee two months ago, which was a big deal for me...coffee was my favorite part of my morning. And since turning 30, I’ve been making an active attempt at limiting my alcohol intake. For an occasional low-calorie option, I usually go for tequila or vodka on the rocks with lemon, no sweetener.

"I also love ice cream, but have been majorly reducing my sugar intake since watching Katie Couric’s food documentary, Fed Up. (Watch it! It will freak you out.) My sister turned me on to an amazing chocolate-peanut frozen bar made out of coconut oil, organic peanut butter, and cacao powder. Not only is it fantastic, but it’s also a nice, sweet substitute for my ice cream cravings."

How about holistic ones?
"I do acupuncture once a week because it helps my stress and anxiety levels, as well as reflexology. I’ve been trying to meditate (it doesn't hurt to try, right?!), and I do salt scrubs; I’m obsessed with Susanne Kaufmann’s Detox Oil Scrub."

What's your number-one secret to staying fit?
"I focus on my health and make it a priority; without health, the rest is out the door. Sleep is huge for me. When I don’t get a good night’s rest, I know I’ll be tired, cranky, and inefficient. Lately, I’ve maintained a screen-free evening routine, which helps make sure I get to bed at a decent time."

When did you first fall in love with fitness, and why?
"I fell in love with fitness as a kid. Growing up in the Hamptons, I was always on the beach, riding horses, or playing sports. I was a tomboy; I loved baseball and throwing a football. (I wanted to play football in middle school, but I think they were concerned about me having boobs!) After my dreams of being a quarterback were deterred, I got into tennis.

"My dad’s love for sports and the ocean was definitely a major influence. (Even now, when I’m having a down day, my father encourages me to go outside and do something athletic.) New Yorkers are so often in their own heads that we forget to enjoy nature and exercise. I’m so grateful for my father’s influence and my childhood experiences."

How do you think staying physically powerful correlates to your career success?
"I believe when you feel good physically, it boosts your self-confidence and inner strength. In turn, you feel empowered and energized. When I feel physically powerful, I feel mentally powerful. And when I’m feeling good, I can easily handle challenges at the office."

How do you manage to find time in your day to focus on these things, especially with such a demanding job?
"I prioritize my health, because my wellbeing — physical, mental, and emotional — is paramount to everything else. So for me, it is more important to spend 30 minutes of the day doing something physical, even if it means I need to catch up on work later on in the evening. At the end of the day, those phone calls or emails that seem super-important can wait. My wellness can’t."

What advice would you give people who want to take better care of themselves?
"Look more closely at the food you are eating and how it makes you feel. Do you feel tired after a certain meal, or more energized after another? Do you ever feel an energy rush, followed by an energy crash? A good way to identify patterns is to track what you eat, and how you feel each day. It’s all about listening to your body. Oh, and avoid processed sugar as much as possible. (Seriously…watch Fed Up if you need some motivation!)."
Valentina Zelyaeva, Model

Tell me about your fitness/wellness routine.
"I like to do yoga for my mind and body, because it helps keep me balanced and centered. I eat a lot of fruits and vegetables, drink two to three liters of water [a day], and lots of fresh vegetable juices. I love to cook, so I try to make as many meals at home as possible. I don't consume dairy, soy, tempeh, commercial-raised meat or farmed fish, and I only choose seasonal, local, and organic foods."

Any holistic practices?
"Instead of using conventional medicine for any illnesses, I use doTERRA essential oils for everything — headaches, upset stomach, bug bites, burns, etc."

What's your number-one secret to staying fit?
"I am very careful with my diet (I only eat natural, unprocessed foods). I try not to overindulge in anything, and will sometimes replace my breakfast with a healthy green smoothie. I also try to go to Pilates at least three times a week, and I do trampoline workouts at home to kickstart my metabolism."

When did you first fall in love with fitness, and why?
"My love for fitness really started during childhood. As a child in Russia, I competed in regional gymnastics. I noticed at a very early age that unhealthy foods and inactivity made me sluggish, and I didn’t like that feeling."

How do you think staying physically powerful correlates to your career success?
"My schedule is very busy; I'm always on the run. I have to be strong and healthy to travel and work the way models do. To me, it's very important to have a healthy, strong body."

How do you manage to find time in your day to focus on these things, especially with such a demanding job?
"I wake up very early (between 5:30 and 6 a.m.). It’s the only way to fit everything into one day."

What advice would you give people who want to take better care of themselves?
"Take small steps. Gradually adjust your diet and fitness routine. Start adding juices to your breakfast. Try different sports, and choose the one you love. You need to come to a place mentally where you decide to make your health and body a priority, and treat it with respect and care. And don't beat yourself up for eating an extra slice of pizza."
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