Waking up to near-freezing temperatures can dampen anyone’s mood and motivation, but after the year that was, it’s important to be kind to ourselves. No-one embodies this mentality better than Melissa Wood-Tepperberg, aka the sunny mom-of-two behind the lifestyle platform Melissa Wood Health. The New York City-based Pilates/yoga teacher and creator of the MWH Method recently became Aerie’s OFFLINE Wellness Expert and has partnered with the brand on its Kindness Hotline initiative. Yep, you can literally call up the number—1.844.KIND.365—and hear a reassuring and inspiring message. (Where has this been our whole lives?!) The Daily caught up with the Kindness Advocate to learn how we can all give ourselves a ‘lil TLC right now.
How are you staying motivated to workout at home during the winter months?
I’m in the middle of doing a two-week online challenge on my app!
I’m actually doing it too!
You are?! That’s amazing to hear! I think we all needed it. I was hesitant; I thought people might think it’s too much. But it’s been such a beautiful experience. When we prioritize this time with ourselves, we show up differently. One question that always gets me on my mat is, ‘How bad do you want to feel good?’
Do you’ve any advice for days when you feel like it’s the last thing you want to do?
Last night was definitely one of those times for me. I lit a candle, rolled on some essential oils, put on some nice music, and rolled out the mat. And you know what, I instantly felt better.
Your method is all about squeezing in even 10-15 minutes of exercise, I love that!
It makes it more attainable. For me, its given me peace of mind and ease in the way that I move about my day when I have carved out those 20 mins. Even 10 minutes. We live in a world where people think that if you don’t get an hour in, it’s not enough. I share my practice because I believe in the opposite! It’s intimidating to be told you have to meditate and workout for hours. It’s essential to start small and build on that; it keeps people consistent and focused on those micro moments. [My husband] Noah was on a call earlier and I was listening in, but I didn’t really have to be there. I hadn’t got a workout in yet because of the kids, so I did a flow mid-call! Maybe instead of scrolling on your phone, take a second to tune in with yourself.
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Ok so you’re doing mid-Zoom flows, and how else are you keeping sane while WFH?
I swear that was the only time! Honestly, yesterday was a really rough day and I cried three times. But it’s allowing myself to be right where I am. If it’s a rough day, be ok and know that every day is not perfect—even if you do meditate and move. But those two things give me an element of sanity and I always find calm through the chaos. If I get my meditation in before the kids get up, I’m less reactive. I sometimes feel like a broken record, but it’s because I believe in these two things with every ounce of my being. Also, prioritize being peaceful and try to find as much positivity as you can.
How do you transform your workout looks to be ready for the day?
I’m so excited about work from home style! I take these Aerie joggers and wear the matching top, so it looks like a workout outfit, but I throw on a blazer and layer on some jewelry. I look professional and you can’t even tell I’m wearing a crop top on Zoom! Even while working from home, when you do get yourself dressed, it’s like a power suit—even if it’s a comfy suit.
Why did you get involved in this campaign and what does your role entail?
I really love how Aerie is always reaching to come up with creative ways to connect with the community. There’s nothing in my life more important than being kind and spreading kindness, so I’m excited to be a Kindness Advocate. And that’s coming from someone who wasn’t kind to themselves for so long. Being kind bleeds through everything you do. Start within and spread that message loud and clear. I think the Kindness Hotline is such a nice, sweet addition too, particularly in the Holiday season. Who doesn’t want to feel uplifted by someone they’re inspired by!
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How can we all be more mindful to incorporate small acts of kindness each day?
There’s so many beautiful ways. Even just getting the coffee for the person behind me; it’s so nice to do that for a stranger. There are so many people in need in the world. This initiative partners with and benefits Feeding America, which is important to me too. It’s so easy to take life for granted, and all the things that we have. This campaign is a beautiful reminder that there’s always ways to dig deep. And also, just smiling at people! Of course, now I’m in the mask so I’m ‘smizing’ at them. But bring that good energy everywhere you go—that uplifts people and it’s often overlooked.
How are you being kind to yourself right now?
I am forgiving myself a lot, especially for things that I’m so quick to judge myself on. So, judging less for sure; that’s a huge culprit. For me, being kind is also giving myself that daily dose of meditation and movement so I can show up as my best self. It’s my gift to myself for the day.
What about your kids, how are you teaching them to be kind?
There’s really nothing else I want to teach them. I talk about it a lot with them: kindness, gratitude. We read a lot of books, and I’m definitely the mother who highlights all the moments where I recognize them being kind to each other or someone else. It’s through that communication and terminology. As an only child, Benjamin got used to wanting everything for himself, so I have to teach him that he has so much and he needs to give to others too. When he really wants a new toy, I’ll have him pull something that he no longer plays with and he’ll donate it. He now tells me what he’s going to donate before telling me what new toy he wants!
So sweet. What are you Holiday plans?
We don’t really have set plans, which is the same for many I’m sure. We’re laying low. There’s a chance we might go somewhere, but we’re really trying to be extra mindful and safe. It looks like we’ll be in the city; we’ll maybe have people over if we are able to . Noah’s sister just had a baby and it’s so hard not seeing her. It’s not like many other years, but once again, I live in my gratitude. Thank God we’re all here and healthy!
Last question! What’s on your wishlist this year?
Oooh. Good question! I’m always like, ‘No don’t buy me gifts!’ I would like this jogger pant in different colors, like burnt orange, rust, and nude—if the Aerie team could please deliver! I mean, the only thing I really want is to get together with my family as I usually go see my mom and sisters. I really have everything I need. So that’s all I want, for my kids to see their cousins.
[Ed note: the Aerie Kindness Hotline is available from 11/13-12/25.]