Hormonal Acne: Products & Services (Part 2)

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Last week, I began my story on hormonal acne; sharing the years (and experiences) I’ve struggled with, since having acne. Today, I’m talking all things products & services: what I’ve tried, how it’s worked and what my opinion is, when it comes to skincare and acne.

** Please note: I am not a medical professional, and am not recommending, or promoting any specific lifestyle, product, or diet. These opinions are my own. I follow the idea of bio-individuality, which means that everybody and every BODY is different. What works for me, might not work for you.

Products

Ingredients

Products For Acne

As previously-mentioned in Part One, for years, I would use skincare marketed to consumers with “acne-prone skin”. In my early-years, I didn’t pay much attention to ingredients. I believed that the only reason my acne was there was due to an overproduction of oil (which yes, that’s why acne forms), but wasn’t concerned about WHY the overproduction of oil was happening.

Most products marketed for acne contain ingredients that dry the skin out and “control oil”. But drying the skin won’t help the underlying issue; it’ll literally just dry your skin out. It’s meant to kill the acne, on the surface, which can then cause other dry-skin symptoms. Dry skin can be even more susceptible to bacteria, and cause early-aging. Aside from drying out the skin, the ingredients used to dry the skin out were ones that weren’t good for my skin, or body, either.


What’s in your products

Harmful Ingredients

Back in the day, I paid no attention to the ingredient list, on my products (and honestly, I paid no attention to the ingredient list on anything). I believed that if something was marketed to aid in a particular aspect, it must. And I also believed that if a product was sold somewhere, it must be safe. Forewarning: it’s not!

Do you know what’s in the products you use? Remember, just because the product “goes on the surface”, your skin absorbs everything.

  • Formaldehyde is a great preservative, which is important for products sitting on shelves; without some type of preservative, the product will only last a few weeks, or months. Formaldehyde is also a known carcinogen – a substance that exacerbates cancer growth.These ingredients either contain, or release formaldehyde: DMDM hydantoin, imidazolidinyl urea, diazolidinyl urea, quaternium 15, bronopol, 5-bromo-5-nitro-1,3 dioxane, and hydroxymethylglycinate.

  • Parabens are endocrine (hormone) disruptors, that have been linked to numerous cancers, and reproductive troubles. It increases estrogen in the body, by mimicking estrogen, by binding to estrogen receptor cells. These ingredients can be found as: Methylparaben, Propylparaben, Ethylparaben, Butylparaben, and Isobutylparaben.

  • Paraffin is derived from petroleum (the gas you put in your car, or kerosene, or diesel fuel).

Numerous ingredients are tied to cancer, liver damage, hormonal disruption, skin irritation, eye irritation, breast cancer and birth defects. It’s important to do your research, and be educated about the products you’re putting on your skin. EWG’s Skin Deep Database is a wonderful resource, to check-up on your products!

“Natural Skincare”

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After reading about all of the harmful ingredients, in so many skincare products, I understand how easy it is to want to take the “natural route”; that’s what I did, a few years ago. However, there’s a definite difference between “all natural” and “professional-grade”, and in how it aids your skin.

Back when I first went off of birth control, I was cleansing my face with oil, because as strange as it sounds, not all oil clogs pores. At first, my skin looked amazing, so bright and hydrated, but once I began to develop acne, the oil was not helpful! I had no idea about the comedogenic scale (or which oils were higher than others). The scale is a ranking, mentioning how likely it is that any specific ingredients, such as oils and butters used in cosmetic product formulation, will clog pores. Anyone who is susceptible to acne breakouts and blackheads should avoid highly comedogenic oils, as they are likely to cause recurring acne problems. However, people with drier skin might prefer a more emollient oil toward the middle of the scale.

The scale uses a numbering system of 0 to 5. Here’s how the numbers rank on the scale:

0 - won’t clog pores at all

1 - very low likelihood of clogging pores

2 - moderately low likelihood

3 - moderate likelihood

4 - fairly high likelihood

5 - high likelihood of clogging pores

After talking with a good friend of mine, who is also an esthetician, she made it make more sense: all “natural products” are safe, yes, but they also are much less-likely to give you results (especially if you’re really struggling with a problem). When I was struggling with acne, adding nothing but “natural” ingredients wasn’t going to help it improve, or in the time I wanted it to. I needed to find “safe, but active ingredients”.

favorite “safe, but active ingredients”

Mandelic Acid: An alpha-hydroxy acid, derived from bitter almonds. It helps in treating common skin problems like irregular-pigmentation, acne and photo-aging. Basically, it accelerates the skin’s peeling process (in a very gentle way), helping with cell-turnover. Unlike glycolic acid, it takes longer to penetrate the skin’s surface, so it’s much less irritating and convenient for at-home use (DermaFix).

Arcona’s Magic Black Ice contains Mandelic Acid.

Hyaluronic Acid: A wonderful, skin-hydrator! Just a single gram of Hyaluronic Acid has the impressive ability to hold up to six (yep, six) liters of water (Elle). Our bodies naturally-produce Hyaluronic Acid, however, environmental stressors, and aging, can take a toll on our skin, which causes our body to have issues naturally-producing it.

Arcona’s Magic White Ice contains Hyaluronic Acid.

Salicylic Acid: A plant-based acid, harvested from botanical sources, such as the white willow tree. It helps reduce inflammation, fades scars and red marks, shrinks large pores and prevents future breakouts from happening. Glycolic acid has most of the same benefits as Salicylic Acid, but it also comes with more harsh side effects. Benzoyl peroxide has similar acne-fighting properties, but it is less effective than Salicylic Acid and more irritating (think “acne-targeted products”) (Beauty Munsta).

Arcona’s Raspberry Clarifying Pads contain Salicylic Acid.


I’ve had experience using a few professional skincare lines:

In my opinion, having a professional skincare line is important, but having an esthetician who knows about the product (and you, specifically), is essential! It’s easy to purchase products that “sound good”, but it’s even better when someone we can trust KNOWS they’ll work!

MLM Platforms

I get it. We all need to make a living, maybe a little extra income, “work from home”, etc., but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t struggle with most MLM companies, especially ones that sell “health products” - internal and external products. This is for a couple of reasons, based on the same factor: education. Chances are, that person that’s selling you a specific skincare product does care about you, and the product, but chances also are that they don’t have significant education, or background, in skincare, or health. This is a VERY slippery slope.

Take me, for example: Acne. For someone with little education, or background, it’d be simple: recommend products designed to fight acne (like I mentioned earlier). But that’s the thing; for a lot of people (adult-woman, for instance), acne is caused by something internal, so most acne products are just going to upset your skin more, or cover-up the underlying issue.

  • If you do sell any type of “health product” - one that’s ingested, or applied, PLEASE take caution. Yes, I do believe you are passionate about that product; that is HAS produced results (for some). But please, be cautious of recommending. What works for someone won’t necessarily work for someone else. Bodies are unique and precious and delicate. Even if your ingredients are “natural”, it works the same. Keep doing you, though! This is, by no means, a bashing - I support you.

It’s for this reason, however, that I consult with those who DO have education, and significant background; individuals that know MY STORY.

Makeup

Skincare is more important than makeup: fact! In my opinion, when you have healthy skin, you won’t necessarily feel like you have to wear as much makeup. However, the same rules apply for makeup: ditch the unhealthy, cancer/inflammation-causing ingredients, and find something that’s safe.

Again, I find that purchasing a professional-grade product is best. It might be a little more expensive, yes, but it really does well!

To be quite honest, I haven’t tried as many makeup lines, just because I’ve used one that I love, for so long. Youngblood was created, by an esthetician, who wanted a product that was safe enough to use right after skin procedures, like peels and lasers.

Debbie, at Cloud 9, in Humboldt, IA introduced me to Youngblood years ago, and, I haven’t found a brand I love more. A few years back, I tried Root Makeup, made locally, in Iowa. It was a great line, and I loved being able to support an “all natural”, local product, however, with my acne, it wasn’t doing the job I needed. I went back to using my Youngblood products, and have kept with that regiment, to this day.


My Routine

Currently, most of my products are Arcona. I have a super-wonderful friend (and esthetician) who checks in with me regularly, to see if we should tweak any of the products. Depending on the time of year, I might change hydrators, but for the most part, creating a skincare routine is important!

Consistency is important! For a while, especially while I was struggling with bad acne, I kept changing products, thinking there would be a “magic product”. Halt here! There is no such thing as a “magic product”, and in Part 3, I’ll be discussing why skincare is always second to good primary and secondary foods.

Please, know that this is MY story, and MY opinion. I’m not recommending you go out and buy professional products, only; or that you stop supporting your friend, selling an internal/external product. I’m just sharing what I’ve found helpful, and reminding you to be cautious, before purchasing anything!


Services

Products aside, I also paid for my fair-share of facial services. Some worked better than others, but it’s important to remember: no product or service is going to magically fix your acne! Regardless of if I knew this, or not, I’d come to each service hopeful that maybe this time would be different.

Peels: I do believe in peels - they help the exfoliation-process, ridding your face of dead, surface cells. There are many different kinds of peels, however, and it’s important, again, to find a practitioner that understands your story, and you. For a while, I’d frequent Skin Artisans, in Edina, which was hooked onto the plastic surgery wing. There, I’d get “Micropeel Plus” treatments, that supported the exfoliation of dead cells, while including glycolic acid, in order to help “heal and speed up” acne. They did their job, however, each time I’d go, I found that my own, personal needs weren’t. There, it seemed that acne was an “outside issue”, and they were only focused on doing whatever was possible to rid the “outer issue”. This included many products, and chemicals I didn’t feel 100% comfortable with.

I found to feel much more comfortable getting something like the “Arcona Enzyme Peel”, at Spot Spa (with my esthetician, Laurel). During this peel, safer enzymes were used, to help break down dead layers of skin, and get a kickstart on accelerating regeneration of new cells.

Photo-rejuvenation (BBL): Broadband light therapy uses a series of light pulses, lightly applied over the skin. The light penetrates the sub-skin layers and is absorbed by the blood vessels or by pigmentation (brown spots). The heat impairs the vessel or lesion and the body begins the natural healing and clearing process. I got this done, once, at Skin Artisans, a few years ago. It cost $400, and significantly-lessened my acne scars. It also hurt like hell, and was something I could only swing, financially, that one-time (I put it on my credit card). Now, after my most-recent bout with acne, I have red-scarring again, and am trying to lessen the redness using safe and active ingredients, only. I don’t have $400 to spend.

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My Skin Buddy: This home-product uses red, blue and green LED light-therapy, along with ultrasonic vibrations to focus on giving a clearer complexion, brighter and more even skin tone. I like it because it’s convenient to use, and become part of your beauty-routine. I received mine as a Christmas gift, from my mom, who bought it at Cloud 9, in Humboldt (My Skin Buddy).

Facial Cupping: I enjoy cupping on other areas of my body, releasing stagnant blood/tension, and facial cupping is similar. It improves facial circulation, for glowing, firmer skin and decreased puffiness. Facial cupping may also help relieve jaw tension, sinus congestion, tension headaches, soften scars, and assist lymphatic drainage. I’ve had it done twice, at Spot Spa, with Rhea, and have noticed a difference in my skin - looking brighter and firmer. I do think it helps with acne scarring.

Vodder-Method Lymphatic Drainage: This is a simple, non-invasive therapy that stimulates the lymphatic system, to boost your skins natural detoxifying and regenerative capabilities. Your lymphatic system needs constant exercise to function properly (and drain). The treatment focuses directly on the lymph stimulation with massaging motion. I’ve gotten this done frequently, recently, with Laurel, at Spot Spa, and love it! I definitely noticed results. Lymphatic drainage is so important, everywhere in our bodies, including our face!


Next, in Part 3, I’ll be focusing on “Health From Within”, which, in my opinion, is most important when it comes to treating acne. I’ll be focusing on supplements, nutrition and lifestyle - it all plays a part.

In closing, I want to remind you that ridding acne is a process. There are so many lovely products out there, however, they can only do so much. This week, I challenge you to take a look at what’s in your facial products, and stay tuned to Part 3!

xoxo,

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Crazy for Cupping!

Photos by Eliesa Johnson, courtesy of Constellation Acupuncture & Healing Arts   

Photos by Eliesa Johnson, courtesy of Constellation Acupuncture & Healing Arts

 

"Are you a swimmer?" smirked a random dude (who noticed my red, circular marks on my shoulder), at a wedding I was at, recently.

It's true. A large number of people probably are only familiar with cupping because of Michael Phelps, retired American competitive swimmer. Phelps, who is the most-decorated Olympian of all time (winning 28 medals), was frequently seen sporting those purple and red "bruises" on his body, while competing.

Now, for those of you who don't know, cupping has been around for thousands of years, and benefits many more than just swimmers. Today, I'm sharing about my personal experiences with this ancient-Chinese technique, the benefits it's provided me and where you can get in on some cupping, too!

 

What is Cupping?

Photos by Eliesa Johnson, courtesy of Constellation Acupuncture & Healing Arts

Photos by Eliesa Johnson, courtesy of Constellation Acupuncture & Healing Arts

Cupping is the practice of using glass, or plastic cups to create a suction effect on the skin to loosen muscles and connective tissue, and increase circulation. The suction draws stagnant and congested blood to the surface.

An old Chinese proverb states, “Where there’s stagnation, there will be pain. Remove the stagnation, and you remove the pain.”

Pain can be a result of stagnation, congestion or a blockage of Qi (vital energy, lymph, fluids, phlegm and blood), (Pacific College of Oriental Medicine). The thought with cupping is that by moving the blockage (stagnation) away from the muscles and tissues, to the surface of the skin, the body is more able to heal itself.

What Cupping treatments can do for you:

Below is a list, straight from Constellation Acupuncture & Healing Arts' website, on how cupping can benefit you.

  • Improve headache symptoms: reduce the severity, frequency, and intensity of tension headaches and migraines
  • Relieve body aches, pain, and tension: break up stagnant muscle and connective tissues to help reduce discomfort and promote healing  
  • Promote athletic performance recovery: increase blood circulation and tissue oxygenation, help you recover faster from training sessions 
  • Reduce cold symptoms: help reduce chest congestion and coughing, promote detoxification, support the immune system
  • Manage asthma and allergies: support healthy lung function, reduce chest tightness 
  • Enhance digestion: help reduce bloating and pressure in the abdomen, promote regular bowel movements
  • Lessen anxiety, stress, and insomnia: calm the nervous system, reduces blood pressure, help move out old emotions and energy that may leave you feeling stuck
  • Support maintenance care and prevention: enhance general wellness and help prevent the aggravation of old symptoms as well as the development of new symptoms -- perfect for patients in the maintenance stage of their treatment plan
Photos by Eliesa Johnson, courtesy of Constellation Acupuncture & Healing Arts

Photos by Eliesa Johnson, courtesy of Constellation Acupuncture & Healing Arts

How Does it Work?

There are a few types of cupping I've experienced:

  • Fire Cupping: A practitioner uses a cotton ball, that has been soaked in alcohol, and then set alight, to heat the air inside the cup. As the oxygen inside the cup is consumed, the vacuum is formed.
  • Silicone Cupping: uses flexible, silicone cups. This method has been found to eliminate or at least reduce the "bruising" that generally accompanies cupping.
  • Dry-Cupping with pump: Applying plastic cups (to the surface of the skin) and using a pump to remove air and create suction.

Cups are then left in one place, or can be moved around, to provide more of a deep-tissue massage feel.

How Does it Feel?

In all honesty? Really freaking good! I was a little nervous the first time I experienced cupping (especially fire cupping), but HOLY COW does it feel amazing!

It doesn't hurt. I'd say there's a feeling of "tight", especially in those more painful and delicate areas (like my neck and shoulders). To me, it feels like a deep-tissue massage, and usually, I tend to get some type of message while getting cupped.

Repping my cup marks at the State Fair. Photo taken by Ryan Nelson

Repping my cup marks at the State Fair. Photo taken by Ryan Nelson

Are Those Really Bruises?

The "bruises" - they're usually the main point of concern, right? I can't tell you how many comments I've received from concerned individuals, unsure of the marks all over my body. But are those marks really bruises at all?

Many beg to differ. Bruises are caused by blunt injury or trauma; the impact can break the capillaries, under the skin, which results in the redness. A rush of healing fluids to the site of the injury can contribute to the bruising and redness.

Cupping marks are caused by suction, working to bring toxins to the surface. The main difference? Cupping marks don't cause pain, like bruises do.

Difference in Color

Cupping marks differ in color and intensity based on how many toxins and stagnation is present. The more there are, the darker the marks will be (and the longer they will last) (Cupping Bruises and Marks).


Cupping for me

Photo of me getting cupped, taken by Leah Fifield

Photo of me getting cupped, taken by Leah Fifield

I began getting regular cupping toward the end of May, of this year. I frequent Constellation Acupuncture & Healing Arts - an amazing space located in the North Loop (of Minneapolis, MN), specializing in helping humans heal, through acupuncture, cupping (body and face), massage, breathwork and more! I fell in love with the women-owned business, the women who run the business and the tools they provide to help bodies feel the best they can.

I originally went in for a couple of main concerns:

  • Extreme neck and shoulder pain, which resulted from a car accident I was in, a few years ago. Chiropractor visits, stretches, you name it, did no good for the long-term. I was in pain, and needed a resolution that worked and didn't cost me an arm and leg.
  • Extreme menstrual cramps, which had followed me since I began my period, at age 9. You name it, I tried it. I was desperate for an aid, so I didn't need to be in absolute agony 1-2 days out of the month; potentially missing work and life.

I'll save you the long story and details, but since getting regular (once-a-week) cupping, my period cramps and neck pain has been tolerable! No crying out in pain (literally); no doubling up on every pain pill possible. I've felt lighter, healthier and less in pain.

Another great thing? The ringworm-like-rash I had on my chest for YEARS disappeared just after my first appointment!

I really have nothing but great things to say about this eastern-medicine practice; not only has it helped (and in a more holistic way), but I've saved a TON of money I would usually be spending on band-aid solutions.

Cupping Club

Constellation has a really neat membership called, "Cupping Club", which allows for four, 20-minute cupping sessions/month, for $60! Each week, I can make an appointment (or just walk-in during CC hours). Easy, reasonable and very effective!

Aside from this, I also make an hour-long massage/cupping appointment a few days before my period, just to prepare. This has been the best health-plan I've had in a while!

Photo of me getting cupped. Taken by Leah Fifield

Photo of me getting cupped. Taken by Leah Fifield


Where to Get Cupped?

Cupping, surprisingly, is offered in many locations (and probably in your area)! In case you're extra curious, I created a mini-list of places I'd recommend.

Minneapolis, MN Recommendations

Constellation Acupuncture & Healing Arts

If you live in the Minneapolis area, look up Constellation! It's a gem I can't speak highly enough of! Amy, Kim, Leah, Tatum and (soon) Rhea are amazing; ensuring each customer is treated with love, compassion and the best care possible. Just walking through the doors of the studio calms me.

Spot Spa

Spot Spa is another one of my favorite places, in the Twin Cities! I get regular Brazilian Sugars there (a topic for another post), but they have some great massage-therapists that incorporate cupping into their practice. A spa dedicated to using natural products, and providing quality care - this is another great place to check out!

Des Moines, Iowa Recommendations

Revival Massage Studio

My friend, Clair, gives out some ROCKING massages! I would see her frequently (when I lived in DSM), and she helped me get through Sculpt Teacher Training, as well as life post-car accident. Recently, she has opened her own studio and I couldn't be more proud of her! She specializes in ace medi-cupping, which she says has been great for day-to-day pains with her clients or athletes.

"Cupping is for everyone!" says Clair.

East Village Spa

This is actually where I first met Clair, as she was a massage therapist for this great spa, located in the historic East Village, of DSM. Cassie and her sweet team make every customer feel welcome, as soon as they walk through the door. Cupping can now be incorporated into their massage sessions!

Humboldt, Iowa Recommendations

Cloud 9 Massage Therapy and Skincare

Debbie has been a friend of mine for as long as I can remember, and I remember when she first created her Cloud 9 business; I'm so proud of her! For those of you who might regularly see Debbie for massage, ask about cupping; she can incorporate it into your massage!

Even though she is no longer taking any new massage clients, she's got a rocking skincare side to her business that I'd definitely recommend checking out! Did you know she incorporates facial cupping into her skincare sessions?!

"A facial client can receive benefits from cupping, in their facial service, that treats the skin and muscles of the neck and face," says Debbie.

Humboldt Spine & Rehab

Humboldt is lucky enough to have a full-service chiropractic office, where Drs. Mitch and Mark work to help clients feel more aligned and energized! I have seen Dr. Mitch for multiple ailments, and have always appreciated his personality and health-care plan! I recently found out that the office provides cupping as a service, as well! Check it out!


A lot of us deal with pain, and unfortunately, it can be on a day-to-day basis. Cupping is a wonderful, holistic practice I have found to make me feel better. If you're interested, do your research and book an appointment for yourself!

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My Favorite "Good for Me" Period Meal!

Periods. We all get 'em, and we all find ourselves craving nothing but that chocolate bar, or bag of chips. While those goodies are essential at times (in my book), they definitely can affect how your body detoxes, when it's already going through some CRAZY, natural detox of its own!

Hydrating foods can be so beneficial in aiding in the detox process, and keeping the body feeling as good as it can be!

I made a batch of these burgers and salad last Sunday, and just finished them all up tonight (Thursday). Meal-prepping is the bomb.com!

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Kale & Watermelon Salad

  • 2 tbsp basil

  • 1 1/2 cups cucumber, chopped

  • 1 bunch kale, red or green

  • 1/4 green onion, chopped

  • 2 cups watermelon, seedless, cut into small chunks

  • 3 tbsp balsamic vinegar (I used blueberry flavor)

  • 3 tbsp lemon juice

  • 1 kosher salt (I used Trader Joe's "Everything But the Bagel")

  • 3 tbsp olive oil, extra virgin

 

  1. Clean kale and massage for a few minutes (to make it easier to digest)
  2. Add all ingredients to kale and mix.
  3. Eat right away, or cover and leave in fridge for up to four days

Bean & Kale Burger

  • 1 tbsp flaxmeal
  • 3 tbsp water
  • 1 15 oz can red kidney beans (drained and rinsed)
  • 1 15 oz can white kidney beans (drained and rinsed)
  • 1 cup chopped kale
  • 1 cup shredded carrot
  • 1 TBSP chopped garlic
  • 4 tbsp tahini
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 1 tbsp oregano
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • salt/pepper to taste (I used "Everything But the Bagel" from Trader Joe's)
  • 1/2 cup gluten free oats

 

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

  2. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

  3. In a small bowl, whisk together the flax meal and water and set aside.

  4. In the bowl of a food processor, pulse the kale, carrots, and garlic a few times to start to break them down, but don't puree them!

  5. Add the beans, tahini, tomato paste, vinegar, honey, paprika, and oregano to the veggies in the food processor and pulse until combined, but still a little chunky.

  6. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl and add the oats, flax egg, and salt/pepper. Stir until fully incorporated. Taste for seasoning and adjust if necessary.

  7. The mixture should come together easily and hold together well. (If it is too wet, add a tbsp more of oats. If it is too dry and crumbly, add another tbsp of tomato paste or tahini. Mix again.)

  8. Using your hands, divide mixture into 8 sections and form each one into a patty. Place the burger onto the parchment lined baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining mixture.

  9. Bake the burgers for 35-40 minutes. They will resemble an oatmeal cookie when done!

I Hope You Find Your Density

Last week, we learned about the "Essentials" that make up our heart - the things that nourish, empower and inspire us, on a daily basis. The main takeaway? In order to take flight, and live a life full of health & happiness, we need to nourish ourselves in various aspects of our lives. If one of those 11 Essentials is lacking, well then we won't find ourselves in the best health we could potentially be in. I mentioned this being the "Season of Love"; and a main takeaway in my last couple of posts has been on self-love, as well as finding love (and contentment) in being single, and in being alone. As a woman, I know how difficult this statement can be. This post is a composition of stories, opinions and a couple of really-important aspects - things I desire for each and every woman out there.

Being Human

I feel like my 'dating history' consists of a couple of long-term relationships, with a dash of random situations. And in my history, those relationships went one of two ways - the person you're with decides they no longer want to be with you, OR you realize you no longer want to be with the person you're with, but unsure of what to do next. And I think this is usually the story for many women; as women, we're always wanting to "make things work"; we're never wanting to give up on a situation, or a person.

Now, I'm also no idiot. Women, at least a lot of us, tend to cling on, long after we should have let go. This can happen when we're out of a relationship, or if we're still in one. This isn't a 'flaw' no; it's simply just being a woman; it's simply just being caring. Again, being in a situation where we'd be willing to try anything to 'make things work'; putting others before ourselves. But I want you to think about what that 'making things work' does to your own system - or, if you're like me, thinking about what it's DONE to your system...

Staying When We Should Go

I don't speak of my breakup, with my ex boyfriend, because it's something still regularly on my mind, but instead because it was a critical break in the chain I needed, in my life. See, looking back on it now, I can see how severely unhappy I was, for so long; how little I was made to feel, so often; how grey my life felt. Instead of getting out at the first sign of distress, I stayed. Why? For numerous reasons (as we all do) - I thought I could CHANGE him; I thought that he loved me; I wanted to be wanted; I had this grand idea that things would get better; and honestly, I couldn't imagine my life without the person I had experienced so much with. But things didn't get better. And instead of leaving (getting out), I stayed and turned into a version of myself I wasn't proud of. I began to apologize, constantly; and not just to him, but to everyone. Why was I starting to feel apologetic for things I hadn't even done? My view on myself took a turn, as well. I started to question everything I did - everything I felt.

I find it interesting now, but I remember a conversation my dad sparked one night, when he, my mom and I were out at dinner, "So Kate, are you planning on marrying your boyfriend?" I stopped, mid-drink, and looked at him and laughed, "No." Inside, my gut was wrenching, "WHY WAS I CONTINUING TO BE WITH SOMEONE I DIDN'T WANT TO SPEND THE REST OF MY LIFE WITH?" Not only did I not want to marry him, but I knew my parents didn't want me to, either; even if they didn't specifically say so. This example is key for what I plan on discussing later.

Did I end things, there and then, after that conversation? Nope. Instead, I continued to battle feelings of insecurity for years to come. I continued to endure arguments, tears and the curiosity of what it'd be like to be in a relationship with other men.

The end of this ten year on-and-off-again-relationship came easily, astonishingly... for me. After years of waking up, heartbroken about potentially not having this person in my life, one morning I woke up, and knew that it was done. My mind, and my heart were free.

I used to think that women were being "stupid" for staying in an unhappy relationship, "Rip off the band-aid; it'll hurt for a while, but you'll be better off in the long run." This phrase doesn't resonate with me, as well, now (after experiencing it).

Ladies, if you find yourself in a dead-end relationship, unsure of what to do next, listen to your heart. Maybe you know things won’t last; maybe you know sooner or later, things will die off. But at this moment in time, if your heart and soul doesn’t feel ready to be done, don’t be done. When it’s time, you’ll know... this I promise.

I don't share this story as a bashing, of any sort. I don't talk to my ex boyfriend anymore, and that's okay. Do I regret being in that relationship? Of course not! Do I wish ill on him? Definitely not, and just the opposite! Just because you have a really crummy relationship with someone doesn't make them a bad person; it doesn't make you a bad person; it just serves as a reminder that things weren't supposed to work out. I'm so, extremely grateful for those ten years; I'm so extremely grateful I stayed for the length I did. Each one of those days served a purpose - helping turn me into the person I am today.

Boys Drool

After this relationship came to an end, I found myself in a spot I hadn't been in before. For the first time, in ten years, I was single - like emotionally, physically, completely SINGLE. While exciting, it honestly, also, scared the bejesus out of me. Suddenly, I found myself fixated on my appearance, more than ever. I started to take more selfies, flirt and go on dates. I downloaded Tinder & Bumble and was horrified when some dude sent me a dick pic. I remember going on a date once, and this guy told me I had a "nice ass". Another time, a man walked into the store I was working and asked for my number. He texted me, the next week, and asked if I wanted to go out for wings and beer (I was vegan and gluten free). Friends in Humboldt began to try to fix me up with other singles, who were around the same age as me. Isn't it interesting when THAT'S enough common-ground for someone to fix you up?!

Guys, use this as a reminder to treat women with respect, always. Being crude, in any way, isn't going to get you anywhere. It's a turn-off.

For a "relationship girl", this all was so foreign to me, and honestly, kind of draining. I began to pine for that connection to someone. Meeting people was fun, but it was also hard work... I would feel so confident, yet so insecure, at the same time. Feeling "on the stand" regularly is tough work; I felt like I needed to be portrayed as perfect, all of the time.

Being single, especially when you don't necessarily want to be single is the worst. For anyone going through that, I completely empathize. Maybe you don't even necessarily want to be in a relationship, but want to make a connection with someone halfway decent; I get that, too!

During this time, I also started talking to a guy who managed bands, and toured, constantly. While I knew a future with him was impossible, I began to think of one anyway. I think we, as humans, tend to reach for what, in our minds, seems safe and comfortable. Sometimes, putting ourselves out there is harder than imagining a life with someone... even if we know that vision will never come true.

This guy flew me out to L.A. for a couple of days, and a week later, stopped returning my texts. This was around the same time I had been roofied, at a club. While nothing, physically, happened to me, I found myself devastated. For some strange reason, now unbeknownst to me, I felt that my getting roofied and being "vulnerable" was the reason he stopped texting; stopped wanting me.

Ladies, this is something so many of us feel, more times than not. How come, when a dude decides to be a dick, we automatically assume it's on us; we assume it's because of something WE did?! I now know this isn't true, and I hope the same for you. When a guy doesn't call, or doesn't show up the way he should, don't put the blame on yourself; that's all on him. He's not worth your time, anyway.

Making Your List

During this time of being single, my mom told me to make a list of the things I was looking for in a man. The first couple of times, I laughed and rolled my eyes. "I'm not looking for a husband, Mom!" She'd laugh back, and tell me that it didn't matter; creating a list of things you want, in a man, can be really helpful. That 'laundry list', if you will, of the most important aspects. So, I decided creating a list wouldn't hurt (even if I didn't want to get married).

Remembering what you deserve...

Remembering what you deserve...

  1. Gets along with my family
  2. Enjoys spending time with MY friends
  3. Supports me
  4. Is reliable, always
  5. Personable
  6. Gets along, and loves being with his own family
  7. Kind, and courteous
  8. Relatable
  9. Funny
  10. Talks to the old ladies, when accompanying me to church

*#10 was one of those "reasons when I'll know I want to marry him" jokes, I would make with my family

As strange as I thought this list was, when my mom first suggested I make it, I now understand where she was coming from. Regardless of if you are ready to get married, or not, having that list (in the back of your mind) can be helpful; it keeps you in check with yourself, your values and what YOU DESERVE.

Finding Your Equivalent

You know how people say that you'll fall in love when you least expect it; when you're not looking for it? Well, I believed this to be untrue, for as long as I can remember. How can I find love if I'm not looking for it? What if I meet a really nice guy, and he doesn't ask for my number? Did I just lose out on meeting my 'soulmate'? But now this makes a lot of sense, and I think for good reason. When we're not actively looking for 'the one', we're our truest self. We're completely open, and the universe takes that as an opportunity to drop something in your lap.

I remember getting ready, one morning, when I was visiting my brother. My friend, Katie, sent me a text and said, "Dude! I can't believe I never thought of this before, but you and Ryan Nelson would be PERFECT for one another!...ADD HIM ON FACEBOOK!"

We all know that situation, right?! A friend tells you you'd be PERFECT with someone they know?! Similarly to what I mentioned earlier, sometimes you get the impression that two single individuals, with similar mutual acquaintances, AUTOMATICALLY mean TRUE LOVE, in the eyes of a friend. At first, this was where my mind was. I laughed, rolled my eyes, and continued putting on my eyeliner.

I knew who this guy was. I had met this guy before (we grew up in the same hometown). I was pretty damn sure we weren't 'perfect' for each other... (or else, I would have known... right)? Either way, after getting countless promising texts, I decided to add him on Facebook.

Beginning to "talk" to someone is always humorous to me, "What do you do?" "What kind of music do you like?" "What do you do on the weekends?" The questions are always the same; always getting the same typical answers. This is how our Facebook Messenger conversation started, as well. Honestly, at first, I just saw it as any other random messenger convo I'd had with people, in the past; we'd message for a while, but then get bored of one another, and that'd be that. Except this one was different. Ryan seemed legitimately interested in me, and what I was saying; he was kind (which was so freaking refreshing)!

In one of our earlier conversations, I made the joke about how he seemed to be the 'male equivalent of me'; we laughed and decided that in order to know, for sure, we needed to meet.

Quick side-note: For as long as I've lived, people have said that "opposites attract"! Yeah... they do, and for good reason. Opposites DO attract, but what usually happens after this attraction? Do they live happily ever after, or does that spark burn out as quickly as it began? After the experience I've had, instead of trying to find someone that is your 'opposite', try looking for someone more like you - someone who meets your values... your list!

I'm Your Density... I Mean, Your Destiny

Back to the future

Back to the future

back to the future

back to the future

Does anyone here remember in "Back to the Future", when George introduces himself to Lorraine and accidentally calls him her "Density", instead of destiny?! The BTTF series is my absolute favorite, and I was pleased to know that Ryan felt the same. The day of our first date came, and I drove up to Minnesota (he lived there, and I was in the process of moving up there). I remember driving by his house, once, because I was so nervous! After having spent the last week talking to the 'male equivalent' of myself, I began to think that this date might not be just any typical date.

I got out of my car, after taking five minutes (I swear) to park, on the street. We hugged, awkwardly, and went inside the house, for a bit. As we were walking to his car, to go have dinner, he stopped me, "Wait. I have to do what I was originally planning on doing, before I got so nervous..." He took his phone, and in the best awkward George McFly way, read, "Kate, I am your density... I mean, your destiny." I laughed out loud, and we drove to dinner.

I won't bore you with the details of our dinner. We talked about Humboldt, mutual friends and past relationships. Ryan, like myself, had been in a ten-year relationship; a relationship that had changed his whole outlook on life. It was extremely refreshing to have a conversation with someone who had gone through something almost identical, and had the same outlook on it.

Easy Like Sunday Morning

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People would always say to me, in the past, that meeting 'the one' would be easy, "You'll just know because it's easy. Nothing is forced." Again, a phrase I hadn't believed to be true, until I met Ryan. I think that our common-ground, mixed with our similar personalities made conversation easy; I felt like I had known him my whole life.

I had expected to spend the night (since my brother told me I was not welcome to stay at his place, again). LOL Except, I ended up staying the entire weekend. Again, easy. Nothing was awkward, forced or strange; I felt at home, when I was with Ryan.

Each week continued to be similar to our first weekend together, and it didn't take long for me to know that I wanted to spend the rest of my life with this person. Ryan seemed to balance me out, in just the way I hadn't known I needed, before we met. He had this way of taking any obstacle, and overcoming it with a positive outlook.

In past relationships, I'd find myself worried to share my feelings, or opinions because I would be contradicted, and made to feel inferior. Ryan was the opposite; I remember him telling me once, "Kate, in order to have a good relationship, we have to be honest with each other. You need to tell me when you're mad." WOW... for the first time, I was able to share about things that bothered me, without worrying about him getting mad, in return.

Using Your Past to Define Your Future

Looking back on the list my mom told me to make, now, makes me smile. Every number is met (including #10... when Ryan and his grandma accompanied me to church, on Christmas Eve). The "little things" continue to bring me the most joy: kisses in the kitchen, texts that say "I love you", movie quotes, random laughter, snuggles and smiles, in the morning. I've come to the conclusion that sometimes, in order to get what we want, we need to first define what it is, exactly, we DO want; and then, we need to be patient. Create space in your life, and the universe will take advantage of that.

Remember when I said that my past relationships and experiences helped turn me into the person I am today? This is something Ryan and I talk about frequently; it rings true for the both of us. See, five years ago, if we would have been introduced, we wouldn't have been in a place to start dating; wanting to spend the rest of our lives with one another. Sometimes, it's easy, when you're in a relationship, to get focused on the past your partner had. But the next time you find yourself paying attention to that, I want you to take a step back; it was the path you and your partner took that got you both to where you are. If one thing didn't happen, in the series of your past, that could have created a time paradox, "the result of which could cause a chain reaction that would unravel the very fabric of the spacetime continuum..." OR, if you aren't into quoting "Back to the Future", if that one thing didn't happen, in the series of your past, who's to say you'd be with your partner now, or with your future partner, to come?


My hope is that you all, someday, find your Ryan, your "density". And even if you don't, my hope is that you recognize how amazing you really are, and the greatness you deserve. Don't continue to put yourself on the back-burner; if you are, I want you to recognize it's happening, and start to make your own list - maybe not a list of what you're looking for in a partner, but what you're looking for in yourself!

 

xoxo,

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Pieces of My Heart (and Yours)

"Love is in the air, every time I look around"... literally. February has been the season for hearts, kisses and showering your loved ones with gratitude. For some, this season is wonderful; an excuse to say "I love you" one more time; a reminder of the love you do have, in your life. For others, this month is torture; maybe you're sad you're not currently with anyone; maybe you're bitter about a past-relationship; maybe you aren't happy in your current situation. Similarly to the theme of the month, this post is on love; but before you start to roll your eyes and exit out of here, hear me out on this: This post will describe the essentials of My Q-Life; the building blocks, or pieces, of my heart (and yours) that nourish, empower and inspire us, on a daily basis. Just like Primary Foods, these are the pieces that I believe to be critical in being happy & healthy; feeling nourished and supported in every aspect of your being.

When thinking about Primary Foods, I came to the realization that those were a bit broad. Creating a life of health and happiness is made up of more than four characteristics (in my mind), and to find true alignment, we need to make sure we are cultivating the ground for ourselves to grow. I decided to create my own list of "essentials"; a guide, if you will, of the requirements for a happy and healthy life.

My Q-Life 11 Essentials for a Happy & healthy Life

My Q-Life 11 Essentials for a Happy & healthy Life


My Q-Life Founding Principles:

1. Healthy Food

This one is pretty self-explanatory; in order to be healthy, we need to make sure we're fueling our bodies properly, with the right foods. Remember, kale isn't the only healthy food out there, but greens are important! Fill yourself with healthy proteins, carbs and fats. Each is your friend; don't deprive yourself of one, for they each serve a great purpose.

Take the time to enjoy the food you're eating; don't rush through eating it. That causes issues of its own. Eat when you're hungry; stop when you're full. Listen to your body. At the point I am now, I know, even before eating something, if it's going to make me feel good or not great. Enjoy the junk food, on occasion. But make sure the majority of your meals and snacks include good, wholesome ingredients. Eating healthy doesn't need to be difficult.

 

2. Meditate

Have you checked out my Self-Care Guide yet? Meditating is one of those 'things I should really do more often' items, always on our bucket list, right? Seriously. Make time to meditate. Schedule it in your phone; just 10-15 minutes is all you need. Give yourself some quiet time; your mind needs to slow down. When our minds slow down, stress automatically begins to reduce. The stress may not go away, per say, but our response to that stress does, and that's something we can control.

So often, the idea of meditating seems easy, until we try to do it; that's why so many of us don't get it done. It's seriously HARD to sit, in silence; I know this! When we take the time to just be, breathe and relax, that's when our bodies start to open up. We can see things clearer, and our bodies become lighter.

 

3. Relationships

Your BFF. Your significant other. Your parents. Your siblings. Your co-workers. Your 'weekend hangout crew'. Relationships come in all kinds, shapes and sizes, and each one is so important in being healthy and happy. We all need relationships, of some kind, to grow.

My good friend, Holly, sent me a video by Will Smith, the other day, where Will asked whether your friends were, "feeding your flames, or dousing your fire". This really got me to thinking. Relationships are important, but GOOD relationships are crucial. Look at the last five text messages, in your phone. Who are they from? Do those individuals build you up? Do they inspire you, and help you want to become better? If they do, good; that's how it should be! If they don't, take this time to re-evaluate your friendships. Relationships give us a sense of belonging; they remind us that we're never alone.

*Don't use this as an excuse to wallow about NOT being in a romantic relationship, either. I know, I've been there; but honestly, being single is a great time to find yourself, and work to create better relationships with others... in the non-romantic way!

 

4. Create

Art. Love. Gratitude. Writing. Music. Inspiration. The list is endless. When we create something, we give our brain and our body the opportunity to grow, learn and develop. You don't need to be 'artsy' to create something; we're all artists. Life is our canvas, and it's up to us to create something that will beautify ourselves, and beautify the world.

 

5. Sex

Before I go on, I want you to take all judgements and throw them out the window. Sex isn't bad. Sex isn't sinful. It isn't something to be ashamed of. It isn't something we should be hard-up for (LOL... I had to), but it's also not something we should go into lightly, either. Sex is natural. It's something our bodies are hardwired to want; something we desire. In a relationship, it's one of the best ways to connect with your partner. Sex, in my opinion, is so much better when you're in love; however, I realize that often, love has nothing to do with it; and that's okay, too.

Maybe you're not in a relationship, right now. Maybe casual sex is something you're doing. That's okay... if you're okay. Speaking as a woman, it's incredibly hard to have sex with someone and not grow attached. So pay attention to your feelings, and only give your body to someone if it feels right.

Maybe sex isn't happening - in a relationship, or out of one. And in this case, I'd recommend you to take a look at your own sexuality, over your sex (for the current time). Do you love your body? Do you touch your body? Being sexual, with ourselves, is incredibly taboo, however, it's a great way we can focus on better loving ourselves, relationship or not. Never be ashamed to touch your body; for touching your body opens up a sexual door to pleasure, discovery and self-love.

 

6. Self

My last post really explains this, in detail. Happiness is an inside job, and before we can love others, we need to work on loving ourselves. I find this especially important when it comes to romantic relationships. Do you love yourself? Can you enjoy the time you have, alone? It's incredibly difficult to love someone else, and give them what they need, when you don't have the same love for yourself. Maybe you're TOTALLY AND COMPLETELY IN LOVE WITH YOURSELF, and struggling with not being in a relationship. That's where having a good sense of self comes in, as well. Be confident with yourself, and your singleness. You don't need someone else to prove anything, or to be someone. Honestly, when we're alone is when our sense of self shines most.

Self-care falls under this category, too. When you legitimately care for yourself, you'll TAKE care of yourself. View it as a garden; your brain and your heart cannot (and will not) grow, or bloom, without taking proper care to make sure the seeds are first planted, then watered and monitored, daily. Do you feel like a good person? Are you proud of the decisions you make - the things you stand up for? Are you a parent? Do you feel like a positive role-model for your child? This all falls under having a positive sense of self. Without ourselves, we don't have anything; remember that.

 

7. Laughter

Laughter is the world's best medicine. It relaxes the body, strengthens the immune system, releases endorphins and burns calories. It's literally the wonder drug! When was the last time you laughed? Truly, whole-heartily, deep-bellied laughed? When you think of situations, or friends that allow you to laugh the most, what/who do you think of? Can you spend more time in those situations, and around those people? There absolutely is a place for seriousness, in life, however, the majority of situations can benefit more from laughter, and optimism.

 

8. Exercise

This one's pretty self-explanatory, also. We know exercise burns calories, it releases endorphins (similar to laughter) and allows us to tone up. I want you to recognize, though, that exercise comes in many different forms - there's not one way to move, nor should there be. Are you tired of running? Stop! Are you sore from overdoing it, at the gym? Stop! Switch things up. Trust me, your body and your mind will thank you.

Something I always recommend, to my members, is to find a form of exercise that they enjoy; because when you enjoy something, you're more likely to do it, often. Exercise shouldn't always be something you dread. I realize, sometimes, this is the case, but always listen to yourself. Push back when you're feeling tired; push forward when you feel you can. Start where you are, when it comes to moving. Even if that's just 10-15 minutes, a day. A walk around the block, a hike in your favorite park, popping in a fitness DVD, dancing in your kitchen... the opportunities are endless! Just get out and move!

 

9. Home

"Home is where the heart is." Sound familiar? This is true, but there's also something incredibly important about having a safe space to come back to, to fall asleep in, at the end of the day. "Home" is important.

I had a college professor once tell our class that it was interesting to listen to people talk about "home", depending on the age they were. In high school, obviously, your house is your house. When moving away to college, "home" is still, usually, your parents' house; the place you'd go on the weekends and for summer vacation. As you get older, and begin to find your own place, spend more time at your own place, that's when things begin to change. Maybe your "home" changes; your comfort level begins to develop at a new location.

My definition of home is anywhere I can walk around naked (honestly). I can pee with the door open. I can lay on the floor. I can take my bra off, at the end of the day, sit in my chair, and snuggle with my kitty. It's a safe space; a quiet place. It's the place I feel comfortable coming back to; it's clean. You need "home"; you need a place to feel safe.

It takes some time to find "home", after moving out of the house you spent your childhood in. I've finally reached a point where I call my house "home", but let me tell you, there's no more comforting feeling I get than driving down that gravel road, into my parents' driveway. That will always be "home". Home is a place you can come back to; it's always a place you're welcome.

 

10. Love

Love should be like breathing. It should be just a quality in you - wherever you are, with whomsoever you are, or even if you are alone, love goes on overflowing from you. It is not a question of being in love with someone - it is a question of being love.
— Osho

Love can carry so many definitions, and this description is very similar. Love for yourself, love for another, love for your pets, love for your family, love for your neighbors. I've shared this quote (to the right), on Valentine's Day, for the past couple of years now...

So often, especially this time of year, we're too focused on being IN love. That's not it, at all! Relationship or no relationship, love should never be about DOING more than BEING. I want you to think about what the qualities of BEING love would look like? And to reiterate, not being IN love - BEING LOVE. How would you act? How would you present yourself? Focus on being love; giving yourself love, first, with the thoughts you create, the words you say, the actions you show, so that you can then go love others.

 

11. Purpose

I mentioned earlier not necessarily loving the four original Primary Foods, just because of their broadness, but also because of the "career" element. See, as an individual who has suffered, a lot, with finding alignment in career, I don't necessarily believe that that factor fits everyone; or be a depiction of a happy & healthy life, or not. Sometimes, we won't have a job where we're making enough money. Sometimes, we're working, but not feeling great about it. Sometimes, we find ourselves without a job, living back with our parents, or digging into Indeed.com, daily.

I wanted to change things a little. Instead of using "career" as one of my essentials, I'm using "Purpose", because that feels so much better, in my soul. Purpose is something we're all searching for; something we all are wanting. A reason to wake up in the morning; something that excites us; something that drives us to push forward. For some of us, maybe that IS a career. Maybe we're proud of the work we do, in the job we're at. For others, maybe we're a parent, or a stay-at-home-parent, and that brings us purpose. Maybe we volunteer, or snuggle with our pet, or visit our parents, or grandparents, weekly. Purpose can be whatever brings you joy - whatever fills your cup up. Whatever it is, you need it; you need to have purpose.

I struggled with finding my purpose for a very long time; some days, I still struggle. My hope is that you never give up searching; that you never feel discouraged to the point where you give up. Look at your interests, your goals, your loves; where do you spend the most time, physically and mentally? Use those as a road map - allowing you to get closer to your purpose.


These are my Primary Foods ("Essentials"); the focal points needing attention, daily, in order to live the best life we can. Each essential makes up part of the heart - flowing in a collage of color, similar to our own self. This reminds us that not one is more important than the other, and that each essential relies on another, in order to flow accordingly. When one is missing, or lacking in color, that's when we find ourselves struggling - in mind, in body and/or spirit.

 

(Thesis), a short statement, usually one sentence, that summarizes the main point or claim of an essay, research paper, etc., and is developed, supported, and explained in the text by means of examples and evidence.
— Dictionary.com

Do you remember in your high school English class, when you first learned about properly writing papers? Do you remember creating a thesis statement?

When thinking of these essentials, I want you to think about it in terms of being your "thesis" - a short statement, summarizing the main points; needing to be explained by means of examples and evidence, later on.

These essentials are all part of our heart; they're explained, briefly, however, in order to explain yourself, and your story, you need to take each one of those essentials and make it your own; creating the color and the collage. Let these Founding Principles summarize the way in which you live, and let the actions you take, and the pictures you paint, be your evidence.


From here on out, every weekly post will cover one of the 11 Essentials. It's my hope that we can start to bring more color to each essential of our heart... one piece at a time.

xoxo,

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Girl, But Are You Happy?

I had FULL plans of making this week's blog post all about love, since it is the season for it. *And I promise, next week will focus on that! However, after having the same conversation, with one of my dearest friends, for the billionth time, I knew the direction this post needed to take. I'm still going to talk about love today, and similarly to last week, it's going to focus a bit more on self-care; this week's post is on SELF-LOVE!

As some of you might know, my day-job also involves being a health coach. I work for a company where I have the opportunity to work with individuals from all over the country, who want to become healthier; and I get to do this all from the comfort of my own home. Pretty sweet, huh? Yes, it definitely has its pros and cons! However, I'm not here to talk about my job, per say.

But First, Motivation...

At the beginning of every person's health journey, I ask them to define their motivation, their "why" for joining the program. The thought is that with defining your motivation, you're creating your "purpose statement"; the statement that will be that driving force in keeping you going, throughout the next yearlong journey. Everyone has different statements, however, the majority are all the same: to be healthy.

To be healthy is the best motivator there can be, right? For when we have health, we have everything.

What is Health?

The always-ironic thing to me is the ever-changing definition of health. Everyone seems to view it differently. There is no one definition of health, that's true; however, so often, I see this picture of health only being painted half-way, by most individuals; and in my eyes, this can be detrimental.

My friend, Carrie, and I talk about this regularly. As health coaches for the same company, we see this half-painted picture on the regular. And as regularly as I see this half-painted picture, at work, I see it even more outside of work.

I want you to think about the social media accounts you follow, your friends, your coworkers, society as a whole... the fad-dieters, the exercise-fanatics, the magic pill-users, the foodies, the busy-bodies, the braggers, the negative-nancys... When did we all start to paint this picture of health being one-dimensional?! When did we feel the need to start defining our worth by what we see, on the outside? When did we start to put ourselves on the back-burner? People are constantly running around, like crazy, trying to do this and do that, in order to turn their bodies into some picture-perfect image of health. HEALTH... the one thing everybody's trying to find, yet the one thing everyone seems to be getting further away from.

Happiness is an inside job...

As I scroll through Instagram, and see another post, by another person, sharing their thoughts on being "healthy"; I've started to wonder, "GIRL, but are you HAPPY?!"

Happy as they constantly deprive themselves of treats, or burn themselves (and their physical bodies) out at the gym, call themselves fat, shame themselves, or others, I think to myself, "GIRL, BUT ARE YOU HAPPY?!"

Institute for Integrative Nutrition

Institute for Integrative Nutrition

By NO means am I bashing anyone who might do this! Goodness, we're all human; we have this crazy desire and drive to push ourselves to the max, constantly. I struggle with the same thing. However, whenever I see someone pushing themselves to their 'breaking point', I wonder, "Girl, but are you HAPPY?!"

Remember when I talked about Primary Foods, in a previous blog post? The idea that we can't find true health and HAPPINESS without finding a harmonious balance of career, spirituality, exercise, relationships, along with the food we eat? This rings true, more than ever, when it comes to this topic.

Carrie and I love to joke about "vanity pounds"; those five-ten extra pounds you'd really like to lose, just to 'tighten up' or 'look your best'. I'm sure a lot of us can relate to wanting to lose those 'vanity pounds', AMIRIGHT?! Now, I want you to think about how you'd feel after losing those vanity pounds? Would you feel healthier? Happier? Stronger? Prettier? What is the desire to reach this point? What is the desire to reach any 'health destination' you have? Is this the point where you believe you will find something... perhaps happiness? Now what if you changed your mindset; what if, in order to achieve health, you needed to find HAPPINESS first?

Becoming Happy, over Finding Happy

My relationship with my ex-boyfriend wasn't a relationship I'd ever "write home to mom" about; it consisted of a lot of bad, mixed in with a few sprinkles of good/decent. There is one phrase, however, my ex-boyfriend told me once, that I will never forget; a phrase that actually makes a lot of sense, now. We got into a large argument about happiness. *This was about four years ago, when I was working a crap job, stressed to the max, looking for anything to fill my life up with meaning. I told him I was searching for "happiness", and he told me happiness wasn't something to search for; happiness was something to become, to create out of your own life. WOW! Now, again, back then, that statement meant nothing to me; and I think I was more annoyed by the fact that he could easily tell me about my faults in life, and not his own. But now, I realize there was a lot of truth in that statement. Maybe that's because I was able to 'become happy'.

I'll admit, I'm not perfect, nor do I ever plan on being that way. My butt jiggles, jeans are always too tight in the thighs, I bloat every time I eat Chipotle, and I, too, struggle with feelings of self-worth. Some days, I wear the same pants all day long, and don't go workout for days on end. Some days, I cry because I can't pay my bills and don't know when it will change. Some days, I look at myself in the mirror and think, "This could be better". But then I think about all of the good. And this is key, in 'finding happiness'. Instead of constantly focusing on what you COULD change, I want you to think about what you DO have. Create your own happiness.

Nobody's perfect. And seriously, how fun would it be if people were? Can you imagine? It's already difficult enough, I know, scrolling through Instagram and seeing that couple on a super-fun trip, or that girl losing weight and posting pictures of her *already flawless-looking body; it's all super hard on our self-esteem and on our body image. But here's a statement I want you to say to yourself, out loud, whenever you find yourself thinking these thoughts, "Nobody is perfect. Everybody's poop stinks. I'm happy because (fill in the blank)."

Health is the condition of being sound in body, mind, & spirit.
— Merriam-Webster Dictionary

The main-point I'm trying to make here is that we can do anything and everything to 'better ourselves', on the inside and on the outside, but until we are happy with ourselves (until we resolve that internal battle), that's really not going to mean anything; we're not going to be HEALTHY.

 

How to do it...

So, HOW does one "get happy"? Well, that's a beast all its own. But like last week, it focuses on taking a look at your Primary Foods, and your life, as a whole, and asking a couple of questions. What about your life do you love? What about your life do you hate? Where do you spend your time, most days (physically and mentally)?


Your homework this week is all about list-making! I want you to write down what you do, on a daily-basis, and how it feels on your mind and body. Along with what you do, I want you to write down your frequent thoughts, feelings and the relationships you keep. How do these make you feel? Are they GOOD for you? Do they feed you in the ways they should?


What this looks like...

For some of us, maybe we really LOVE going to the gym; getting a good sweat on and releasing endorphins. But I want you to ask yourself this, "How does my body feel, going to the gym, every day?" "Am I going to feel more exhausted after doing this?"

Maybe, for others, we really LOVE going out, every Friday; meeting up with friends, indulging in some beverages. But I want you to ask yourself this, "How does my body feel, when I get home?" "Do I find I'm not able to get as much done, when I do this?"

Maybe things are a bit more psychological. Maybe you, like me a few years ago, find yourself in a dead-end relationship, but you don't know what to do, or how to get out. Maybe you keep pushing on, doing what you can, because you're scared of the 'unknown'. I want you to ask yourself this, "How will staying in this relationship benefit ME?" "Will I be able to be my best self, by staying in this same situation?"

Maybe it's a job you're in, that you wish you weren't. I want you to ask yourself this, "Is this the job I NEED stay in for the time being?" "How would I feel if I wasn't at this job?" "What would I have to do to get out?"

Maybe we're just feeling stuck, in general. The weather. The relationship. The body. The same 'ole situation. Sameness, stagnance can cause feelings of unhappiness, as well. But instead of pushing when we shouldn't push; instead of causing more harm, than help, to your body, I want you to ask yourself how that situation could change; how you could become happy.

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When she’s 80, is she going to look back and be happy with how good she looked? Or is she going to wish she would’ve done something more with her life? Because that’s the kind of thing we have to remind ourselves of!
— Carrie Enyart

Self-Care IS Self-Love

See what I mean about self-care? It's more than bubble baths and pedicures... it's a state of mind; it's self-love. Do yourself a favor and start to put the focus on creating your happiness over creating something else to 'make you happy'. Putting emphasis on one aspect of 'being healthy' isn't going to make you healthy, see? By choosing to "become happy", to feel aligned with your life, and where you are in your life, you are choosing to be healthy. Health and happiness are synonymous. Go out, girl, and BECOME HAPPY!

xoxo,

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My Quarter-Life Crisis

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It's amazing the amount of times I can count being absolutely terrified about not having my life 'together'. For years, I'd try to fit myself into this mold of what I thought I needed to do, and in turn, I just became less passionate, less healthy and less myself....

It all started after college ended; I struggled right from the get-go. While people I knew were getting jobs, moving to large cities, meeting the loves of their life, I moved back home, got drunk frequently, ate too much and filled my days with relationships that no longer satisfied me. I was applying for jobs, mindlessly, with no larger goal than to find a job that could allow me to make money, move into my own place, and "be happy".

I accepted my first "big girl job", in Minneapolis, about six months after graduating. "This is it," I thought, as I began to brag about how I was going to be an Event Planner, living it up in The Cities. I signed a lease, moved up during the bitter cold of winter, and started working. Fast-forward about two months into my job, where I was stuck on i35, at 6am one morning, during a blizzard, trying to make it to Downtown Minneapolis to set-up for an event. I had been severely stressed for those two months; eating like crap, drowning my stress in gluten free cookies and booze. This was NOT "living it up"; this wasn't even living, but surviving. "I'm not happy," I told myself. Long story short, I quit. I told myself that no job was worth getting ill over, and that I'd never choose a job just for the money.

Fast-forward three months later, when my U-Haul pulled up in front of my new townhome, in Des Moines... IOWA. Yep. I had accepted a job as a Project Manager for a sweet company, and better yet, the pay was incredibly awesome. "This is it," I thought, as I began to brag about how I was now living in DSM, helping non-profits. Two months later? Yep, you guessed it. I was stressed to the max, drowning my stress in bottles of champagne, and homemade gluten free pizza (which FYI: isn't ALWAYS a bad thing)! Another long story short, I quit. Again. And told myself, again, that no job was worth getting ill over, and that I'd never choose a job just for the money.

Notice a pattern here? Well, this pattern continued for the next year. One random job after the other, resulting in another blubbering phone call to my mom, where she would say, "I love you. It's your decision, and I can't help you make it, no matter how much I wish I could." -- I was devastated. Defeated. Depressed. For so long, I had been "looking for happiness", and instead, seemed to dig myself deeper in despair.

The first step towards getting somewhere is to decide that you are not going to stay where you are.
— J.P. Morgan

The break in this chain occurred when my dad sent me an email he had received from a friend, who had a friend "whose child was going through the same thing as me", blah, blah, blah. You know how those scenarios go. However, after my parents, so graciously, agreed to pay for me to see this life coach, who helped so many, I hesitantly agreed. Isn't it strange how when you're depressed, you're even more hesitant to make changes, or try something else?

In one of my first meetings with my life coach, I was asked to make a list of all of the words that described me, and what I prioritized. After doing this, I had to narrow that list down to just three - my top three priorities. The thought was that after I defined these three priorities, I would then focus on how to make my life fit those priorities, rather than fitting my priorities into my crazy life. This is what unlocked the hugely-secured door that had been blocking my life for so long! Why hadn't I thought of this before?! Jumping from one thing to the other, especially when it was against my priorities, wasn't going to help me in the slightest.

My Three Priorities for a Satisfying Life: Health, Happiness and Relationships (family/friends)

1. Health: Something I had COMPLETELY lost since running around, jumping from job to job. Something I realized I NEEDED to have, in order to have a satisfying, lasting life.

2. Happiness: Something that's directly connected to health. Something I had been avidly looking to find for so long.

3. Relationships: Family and friends have always been, and will always be so important to me. Putting them first, always, is a priority.

After defining these, and setting personal goals for myself, I was on an upward trend. I realized that allowing myself to stay stuck in these 'time-sucking, life-sucking, depressing situations' wasn't healthy, and after that realization, things continued to improve.

After much thought, I moved back home, AGAIN. However, this time, I had a plan. I enrolled in a Health & Wellness Coaching Program, with the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. I started to put the focus back on what I NEEDED to do in order to life a life I was proud of; a life where I was living based on my priorities, instead of the other way around.

What did this look like? Well to some, it appeared as if I 'needed help'. LOL I, finally, ended a 10-year toxic relationship, I started to fuel my body with what it needed, I began to meditate, sweat, laugh and spend time with the people I loved and cared for, so passionately. I began to take risks, and above anything else, I started to love myself. Defining those three priorities was pretty amazing, wasn't it?!

My Q-Life was born after the ‘Quarter-Life Crisis’ I experienced. It’s for everyone that finds themselves experiencing something similar, whether it be quarter, mid or beyond. I’m here to help; we’re here to help one another!

So, WHY does this matter to you? WHY am I telling you this? Because I've literally been there. And I know how difficult it is to be stuck doing something you hate, health deteriorating and happiness drowning. Is my life completely together now? Hell no! But see, that's the beauty of it, I've learned! Life's about figuring ourselves out, and enjoying the journey along the way. It's about taking small steps to make some fantastic changes! Would I take back any of the experiences I had? Absolutely not! They're what helped get me here. Helped me get to a place of being able to help others who are struggling as well.

Each week, we'll dig a little deeper on a subject that's helpful in getting us closer to the life we are happy to live. Have something you'd like me to talk about?! Please let me know! Also, as with all good life-work, each week's post will end with some homework. It's up to you to try it out, and report back!


 

This week, your goal is to make a list of the words/priorities that describe you, and then, find your top three!

 


My hope is that this space will turn into a safe haven for you - allowing you to dig deep into yourself, and find a life you're passionate about. So, pop open that bottle of champagne (or kombucha), kick your feet up, relax and enjoy the ride we're about to embark on! xoxo