Kathleen Rafaat is Our Student of the Month

Student of the Month

I’ve known one of my favorite La Jollan’s Kathleen Rafaat for quite a while now and I really admire her for many reasons.  When Carolina and I were thinking about who should be our next student of the month, Kathleen was the obvious choice!  Over a few cups of her famous Lean Tea, we talked about her amazing athletic accomplishments, dedication to her health and the very important work she’s doing for the people of Nepal.

Let’s kick off this interview with a question about an accomplishment of yours that I think is truly amazing.  Tell us about the Iron Man Triathlon you completed when you were 60 years young.How did you train for it, and what was your biggest takeaway from such an intense experience?

I began triathlons when I was 50 after my daughter talked me into participating in a Sprint Triathlon. I didn’t know how to swim, bike or run, so that began my life into becoming a triathlete. I was working 60 plus hours a week at the San Diego Zoo with two teenagers, a dog, a husband and large home, so you could say my life was already full!

During those 10 years, I retired from the Zoo and became a professional triathlon coach, nutrition counselor and personal trainer, working for Joe Friel, the “father” of Triathlon. I participated in many Sprint, International and 70.3 Ironman distances and my goal was to get to Kona, the dream of most Triathletes!

I love the outdoors, competition and goals, so an Ironman sounded perfect for my 60th birthday. I trained 20-40 hours a week for a year. My body and mind was happy as I finished Ironman Canada! Little did I know a few weeks later I would be diagnosed with colon cancer and my new goal would be to survive!

Another thing that is so inspiring about you is the work you have been doing in Nepal for the past few years.  What inspired you to help the people of Nepal and can you tell us a little bit about the cause?

After my cancer treatment was over and I was well enough to travel, I found inspiration in Nepal during my first trip in 2014. I connected with OM Handicrafts, a singing bowl shop, after the earthquake and was moved to raise money to build shelters for the people of Kathmandu. A small group of Nepali’s started a non-profit to find towns that had no support after the earthquake. Thanks to many of my friends and Buddhi Yoga, I raised enough money to buy over 20 shelters.

Student of the Month

Raising money was not enough so I packed my bags and headed to help build and support other volunteers in 2015. In 2016, I again traveled to Nepal to begin the task of building a small school in Bodgaun, a village four hours away by bus and a two hour walk through rice fields.

During your time there you also learned how to use singing bowls for healing.  I have experienced a session with you and thought it was amazing.  What is some of the meaning behind these healing sessions?

When the Nepali’s had festivals and there was no work to do in the month I was there, I became certified in Tibetan Singing Bowl Healing and attended a retreat in Meditation at Kopan Monastery. As someone who has gone through intense pain during chemo and radiation, I knew others needed some help in managing pain. The singing bowls are not only good for pain but truly allows people to quiet their mind to heal their body. Each bowl placement represents an area in the body to release tension and pain, and as you said, it is a wonderful experience!

You also council people on nutrition and how to eat to stay lean and healthy.  What are some common mistakes you see people make when they are dieting?  What are a few tips you have for people trying to shed a few pounds the right way?

Most people look at diets and exercise as a quick fix to get to their goals. Honestly, the answer is simple. It is a lifestyle that should be maintained each and every day. Clean food, physical exercise and a love of life, no matter what you are going through. My big advice is to “eat for your day.” If you are moving, eat. If you are sitting around, eat less. Also, I love the Lean Blend Tea that I make. I began researching tea to help stay healthy as I went through cancer treatment, and I am still here!

What is your motivation for coming to yoga?  For the physical benefits or is there more to it for you?

I go to yoga to be able to stretch my muscles that are tight from weight lifting and running. Also, due to so much radiation, my muscles in my legs are not supple and yoga helps to keep me moving correctly. I also use the time in yoga to reflect, which keeps me grounded. Also, I love seeing my friends and meeting new like minded people at Buddhi!

I watched you beat cancer like a champ a few years ago.  How has your exercise routine and yoga practice changed since going through that ordeal?  Do you have any words of wisdom for people going through cancer treatment that you wish someone had said to you when you were diagnosed?

I so wish I had support during my treatment time, but not many groups are around for colon cancer like there are for breast cancer. I was alone in my decisions on what to do for myself. Thankfully, being an athlete, I knew I had to move and take care of my body so I made time each week to get a massage (thanks Amanda), facial, acupuncture and I walked everyday. As soon as I could sit comfortably, I started yoga. I cried most days since it was hard just to sit in a yoga pose, but each week got a little better. I sometimes still find myself frustrated but try to remember those first days of walking outside and smelling the clean air and hearing the birds sing.

Kathleen’s Magical Lean Tea

I personally drink Kathleen’s Lean Tea everyday and love it! See below for the ingredients and all of its nutritional benefits. It’s available at Buddhi yoga and the whole Buddhi crew gives it a big, giant stamp of our approval!

LEAN TEA is a custom blend of certified organic teas to help stimulate the metabolism, increase mental awareness, boost the immune system and is a powerful anti-oxidant and anti-aging blend, along with reducing cholesterol.

The blend contains organic green Sencha, organic Monkey-Picked white, organic Black Pu’erh, organic Brazilian Mate, organic Red Rooibos, organic Ginger, organic Gunpowder and rosebuds.

The LEAN TEA provides Vitamins A, C, E, B1, B2, Niacin, B5, Calcium, Manganese, Iron, Selenium, Potassium, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Chlorophyll, Flavonols, Polyphenols, Antioxidants and 15 Amino Acids.

Made for people with busy lives that need the ability to stay focused, healthy and alert. Drink it to boost your metabolism and keep hunger at bay. Also used for endurance athletes during training.

TO PREPARE: Bring water to boil, let rest for 5 minutes. Use one large tablespoon of loose tea in a metal filter with a glass pitcher holding at least 8 -12 cups. Pour water slowly into filter and fill glass pitcher with water. Let steep for 6-10 minutes. Remove filter and let cool. Best to keep in refrigerator for 2 or more days. Drink between 2-4 cups daily.

The loose tea is enough to provide 30 servings of 8-12 cups, which is about 12 cents a cup!

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