Kate O'brien

Kate O'brien

Kenzai Member
Assistant Trainer
Day 2 - KRun10K

Day 1 of my newest Kenzai pursuit happened to coincide with beautiful spring weather we've all been waiting for here in New England. My 25 minute run felt so good I lost track of time and ran 29 minutes instead! I'm opting to dial into a strict diet right away to really make the most of these 42 days, especially because I have 3 work trips planned for dates during this training cycle that will challenge my ability to be strict the entire way through.

The Day 2 strength workout felt really easy. I added on a 20-minute bike ride to deliver my son to preschool this morning, and that felt good (again, the warm and sunny spring weather). Will be adding on 8-Minute Abs most days to get that extra kick.

Pumped for this running challenge-- since having children, I've not been running as much as I used to. My hips ain't what they used to be...!

Yesterday was another snow day here in Portland, Maine. Big shout-out to my hubby sweetheart @TuckOB, who held down our (snow)fort with the kiddos, so I could steal away to the super-powdery slopes with Kenzai legend @WardW for some fresh fluffy snowboarding action. I often ride alongside skiers, which is fun, but riding with a fellow snowboarder (and sick athlete) like Ward always forces me to ride more aggressively, which felt less risky because there was a fresh 18" of snow to fall into.

It felt SO good to get out in the fresh air! SO fun to take some risks on the board, only to be rewarded with big falls into huge piles of soft, fluffy snow. It felt good to hoot and holler and giggle into the wind.

Perhaps most importantly, I was über-conscious of how I used my right arm, and took care to avoid over-extending my shoulder. Being intentional helped me wake up this morning without any shoulder pain, and only fatigue in that same muscle spot between my spine and shoulder blade. Good pain, from doing good work. The proper muscle was firing again! YAY!!

Early this morning, my PT really dug into my upper back in that spot to loosen it up, to keep it from kicking up spasms. Still far from 100%, but feeling real progress.

So far, doing less is still doing more. :)

Day 23: Balance!

I am loving the balance postures this week. I enjoy the focus required. I love getting into a posture and then, a couple breaths in, taking a moment to break into a wide smile. It channels my breath and my energy. It feels good.

This past week I backed way off all shoulder-involved movements except those prescribed by my PT. After 8 PT sessions, we noted last week I was still experiencing pain, and not seeing the progress she'd expect by now. Instead of taking the "gently use your shoulder to keep up good blood flow there" tack, PT advised me to chill out. No snowboarding. No downward dogs or sun salutations. Major bummer.

But, by Day 4 of subbing in my PT exercises where the sun salutations should've been, I noticed the dull day-to-day passive ache in my shoulder disappeared. Shoulder pain stopped waking me up at night.

Back at the PT's office today, she noticed my lower trap muscles were firing (which had been underutilized for quite some time due to my injury), and although it meant there was a painful knot in my bag for her to dig into a bit, she urged me to view it as marked progress.

And so, I will continue to practice balance. Mental balance as well as physical. Sometimes doing less is actually doing more. I hope!


It's 10:48pm and ready for bed. Been up since 5am, woken by a racing mind. Morning dynamic stretches got the blood flowing and my mind clear. Worked a full day, capped off by the stress of my consultant no-showing for a client meeting. Picked up two tired and hungry (no, I typed HANGRY, auto-correct!) kids who bickered the whole way home from school in the car. Successfully navigated dinner for the kids and myself (grams measured on point for a 100% perfect diet day!) and got them into bed early. Then I had final reports to finish for work, which took all the wind out of my sails. But .......

I still haven't done my skilled movements or my evening stretches. :(

Tonight I will savasana in my bed, and start my day with the dynamic and skilled movements first thing.


This week's challenge question is a two-parter. And for me, if I'm being honest? To say it stirs up a lot of emotion is an understatement.

1. "What part of your life feels locked-up and closed-off?"

Deep breath. OK, here goes. A continuing locked-up/closed-off part of my life, a dark corner inside myself I've been exploring since last May, is my relationship with money. For as long as I can remember, money has been something I've viewed as a necessary evil. You can ask my sisters, who tease me still about my teenage rantings about "the capitalist domination of our society". Money been something I've perceived as beyond my control, something I grew up witnessing my parents (who never seemed to have quite enough) fight about frequently, and therefore something associated with being wholly unpleasant to deal with. I was fortunate to attend college, but came out of that experience assuming I'd never have much in the way of money, given my degree focused on "human development and social relations" ... in other words, "social work", which pays at least as poorly as teachers working in American public schools.

While it's a damn shame that my line of professional work for the past 20 years has been and is still so undervalued monetarily, the real shame is that me treating money as my Kryptonite has enabled me to become a passive, negligent participant in my own (and by extension my family's) financial security, stability, health, safety and well-being. Yes, my laser focus on assuring that so many others have access to well-being has limited my own and my family's access to the very same.

It's painful for me to admit this. It makes me sad and angry that I've allowed myself to play the role of victim, particularly as a person who spends so much time building herself up, believing (and making others believe) I am a powerful warrior.

OK. I'll set aside my sadness, shame and grief for a moment to focus on the second part of this week's question, which is focused on action...

2. "What's one thing you can do to create more space and openness around the issue?"

First things first: I will create space in my yoga practice to meditate on and release my sadness, anger, and attachment to playing the role of victim/passive bystander about my money. Today's lesson about coming up with mantras is timely. What will my mantra be about money? Been reflecting on that today.

Another critical action item involves me stepping up as an active participant alongside my partner in our daily practice of family budgeting. (At the end of 2016, we set up a new budgeting app that Patrick had recommended as akin to Kenzai-- called YNAB for those of you wondering. Slowly we are both learning new daily habits and making a lifestyle change that puts us in the driver's seat with our money, our planning, our savings, our future and our security.) "Stepping up as an active participant" means, as all Kenzai warriors know, practicing a new daily habit consistently over a long period of time. For me, this means ONLY making a purchase once I know where to honestly account for it in our family budget, and discussing with my partner any/all potential purchases that need to be made so we both can decide where to account for them.

There's a lot more to this, but breaking this open here feels like enough for one night. Thanks for reading, and for the prompt to dig into myself deeper.

core beliefs

Reach offers a very granular, tangible practice that is useful in everyday life.

I had the good fortune of encountering two books at around the same time, right before I dove into Reach. Their messages echoed one another, which I took as a strong message from the universe: deepen my connection to and understanding of my own darkness in order to stay present in the face of fear and discomfort, thereby becoming more compassionate toward myself, and cultivating compassion toward others, especially those who are making such an uncomfortable mark in my world, and on the world as we know it. Here are two quotes from these books that guide me through this Reach experience:

"We are all broken by something. We have all hurt someone and have been hurt. We all share the condition of brokenness even if our brokenness is not equivalent ... Being broken is what makes us human ... But our brokenness is also the source of our common humanity, the basis for our shared search for comfort, meaning, and healing. Our shared vulnerability and imperfection nurtures and sustains our capacity for compassion."

- Bryan Stevenson, "Just Mercy"

“When we touch the center of sorrow, when we sit with discomfort without trying to fix it, when we stay present to the pain of disapproval or betrayal and let it soften us, these are times that we connect with bodhichitta. (Chitta means 'mind' and also 'heart' or 'attitude.' Bodhi means 'awake,' 'enlightened,' or 'completely open.' Sometimes the completely open heart and mind of bodhichitta is called the soft spot, a place as vulnerable and tender as an open wound. It is equated, in part, with our ability to love. Even the cruelest people have this soft spot. Even the most vicious animals love their offspring.”)
- Pema Chödrön, "The Places That Scare You"

Sitting with yoga practice in 5-10 minute evening poses is and will be a challenge mentally, physically and emotionally. Being a warrior means viewing every moment in life as an opportunity to practice getting comfortable with being uncomfortable, to stay in our body, to remain soft and vulnerable and tender and compassionate, in the face of this fear and discomfort.

I also hear echoes of these words in the Kenzai journey. The blogs are a place where we are all warriors supporting ourselves and each other on our journeys-- sharing and exploring and sitting with our vulnerabilities, supporting others in sharing, exploring and sitting with theirs, all in a quest to remain connected to our best selves and others around us in the world, to stay when our "fight or flight" instinct kicks in and tells us to RUN.

Day 8: appreciation

All it takes is one tango with the stomach flu to remind a person just how awesome it is to be healthy. Over the last 24 hours, I've been through hell and back. I did make the mistake of reading the news, which did no favors for my already squeamish tummy. Note to self.

Anyway, this evening I finally felt good enough again to eat some toast and an apple, and decided to try out the evening stretches. I set the timer and figured I'd only do a couple minutes of each one. I played some tunes to make the time go by, and was pleasantly surprised they all went more quickly than I thought!

PS: I never knew @ThomasD was such a bendy dude! Impressive work, my friend.

Song of the day-- La Femme Fetal by Digable Planets https://youtu.be/WCgCu9zCOIQ


Really loved the grounding series tonight. I searched some chill yoga instrumental music on Spotify and found myself in a faraway, relaxed place. Today was a good reminder about just how much I've been needing this Reach vibe. Namasté.

Reaching into 2017

So pumped to be starting Reach today!! I'm ready to get back on the rails diet-wise, build some real flexibility (physically and emotionally), work through healing a shoulder injury, and explore the mind-body-soul connection Patrick talked about.

Getting back on track

Doing KLife alongside my partner while he's training has helped me follow a more strict diet, which feels really good. Although I had committed myself to an informal reboot in early October, I had strayed into heavy food territory while my mom was visiting a couple weeks ago. Now, two weeks into clean eating, I finally feel like I'm knocking that rust away a little. Sleeping like a champ as a result!


This is @TuckO last night, grilling chicken breasts for the week ahead. So cool to see him taking time to set himself up for success. 💪🏽

Meal in harmony

Last night my KRunning husband tried his hand at the Kenzai chicken saag recipe for dinner. He crushed it. Dinner was delightful. I'm loving KLife maintenance with my partner on program!

Homeward bound

It's been a long week of business travel, made infinitely easier to endure by bringing workout gear, apples and hard boiled eggs along for the journey. Staying at the Residence Inn whenever possible (which happened this week) also helps me stay Kenzai compliant with kitchenettes and healthy (hard boiled eggs! plain, no fat Greek yogurt! tons of fruit!) complementary breakfast and morning snack bar options for each guest.

While my breakfast, lunch and dinner meetings with clients over the past 3 days meant both 1) adjusting my ordering at restaurants, 2) adjusting my flexible thinking meter when substitutions weren't welcomed, and 3) going back to Kenzai eating as default setting as soon as possible, helped me feel good and even-keeled.

On Monday my husband starts his first Kenzai (Run) program. I know you'll all give him a warm welcome. I look forward to joining him in his journey as a KLifer and supportive partner.

Mindless foraging

It's become too easy to succumb to the temptation of eating bites of my kids' leftover homemade maple syrup-sweetened granola when cleaning up the kitchen table after breakfast.

Mantra: My temple is NOT a garbage disposal.

Breaking the cycle

Back on the blogs first time since my summertime Reboot to go public with my declaration to go clean and mean on diet (and workout) this month.

As I said to @StephD the other day, I abide by the KLife 5 day workout program currently. I have found I don't have trouble sticking to a weekly workout plan. But: I do have trouble keeping my diet free of sweets on the regular.

So I'm here on the blogs to tune in and keep myself accountable.

Starting Photo





Kenzai Body
Kenzai Body


Kenzai Reach
Kenzai Reach

Kenzai Run 10k
Kenzai Run 10k

Kenzai Body 2
Kenzai Body 2

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Kenzai Chisel


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Kenzai Sculpt

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Kenzai Blast: Beach Ready