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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A Life of Self-Care

Last week, I shared my personal story about the struggles I experienced, during my Quarter-Life Crisis. As I mentioned last time, it's amazing how far from ourselves we become when we try to fit into this mold of what we think we should be; where we think we should be at. After spending years doing this, going through the motions of life, I became less passionate, less healthy and less myself. As a society that puts this ridiculous amount of pressure on 'having your life together', it's amazing the majority of us who really don't have our lives together - our priorities in check.


I mention priorities because that was last week's assignment: to make a list of the things you fill your day (and minds) with, and narrow it down to your three priorities.


But what if you created your list, tried to narrow it down, and realized that your current priorities weren't really what you'd like those priorities to be?

Well then, no worries! That's what this week's post is all about... taking the time to give ourselves the love we deserve, so those priorities are a lot easier to define, and a lot easier to stick to.

First Think About It

Think about your day, currently. I want you to answer these questions:

  • How do you fill it up?
  • What thoughts run through your head?
  • What foods and beverages do you fill your body with?
  • Do you exercise? If so, how do you feel doing it, and once it's over?
  • Do you feel relaxed, or on-edge?
  • How quickly does it take to fall asleep?

These are just a couple of questions that are important to ask, while working toward figuring yourself out. Chances are, after answering them, you weren't exactly excited about the outcome, am I right?! That's exactly where I was, a couple of years ago, when I was going through my Quarter-Life Crisis. And it's important to realize that before we change ourselves, and expect those changes to stick, we need to assess our lives, and make sure we're creating a welcoming environment for that positive change.

Where Self-Care Comes In

I'm sure we've all seen it - the articles, photos and hashtags about self-care...

#treatyoself #selfcare #workingonme

Everybody seems to be taking the time for themselves, when they can, WHICH IS GREAT! But I can't help but think... what is this person's life like, the other 23 hours, in their day, they're not taking that bubble bath?! Does this person feel so much stress in their every-day life that they feel the need to spend one hour attempting to forget about it?!

Again, by no means am I bashing ANYONE doing this! I give you all the kudos in the world for creating a little bit of self-care in your life, but instead of ADDING self-care into our lives, why don't we work to CREATE a LIFE of self-care!?

How would you feel if your life was directed toward caring for yourself?

10 years ago, in high school, I was described as an all-around extrovert; doing this and doing that - utilizing every second of my time in every way possible. 10 years ago, I was also extremely sick, depressed and stressed.

Today, if you were to ask anyone that talks to me frequently, you'd find out that my days aren't filled with much of anything; work, exercise (maybe), dinner, movie and night-snuggles with Mona. Does this sound boring?! Well maybe! However, if it sounds boring, chances are you're struggling with providing yourself the self-care you merit.

Compared to ten years ago (hell, even two), I'm now healthier, happier and more satisfied than I've ever been. And a lot of that has to do with living a life of self-care.

Breaking It Down & Overcoming Excuses

Giving back to yourself - ©My Q-Life

Giving back to yourself - ©My Q-Life

Maybe your reasoning for not giving yourself the care you deserve is time; for time is the NUMBER ONE EXCUSE GIVEN BY ALL OF US (myself included)! You work two jobs; your kids have activities; you're taking classes; the list goes on, and it goes on for everyone. But now, I want you to think of all of the things you do, in a day, that are 100% completely necessary. They aren't all necessary, are they? Which unnecessary things bring you joy; which do not? I want you to think about all of the things you're NOT doing for yourself, that are causing you to live a life filled with stress. What's preventing you from eating that healthy dinner? What's stopping you from saying 'NO' to your friend's Happy Hour offer? What's preventing you from taking a day to relax at home, instead of going overboard at the gym? What's the reason you continue to feed yourself negative thoughts?

Sometimes, life gets in the way; sometimes, we push ourselves because we think that's what's 'best' for us; I completely get that. But here's the main point: Don't. Ever. Let. Life. Get. In. The. Way. Completely. Don't. Ever. Push. Yourself. Without. Taking. Time. To. Back. Off. An easy way to do this is to question every decision you make: "Will going to Happy Hour make me happier, in the long run?" "Will saying yes to being on this board create too much added chaos?" "Will doing this HIIT workout, every single day, help me feel less stressed?" We're all different, and know our bodies better than anyone. Sometimes, it's just about getting back to yourself, in the first place, and taking the time to listen.

Feeding Yourself Right

In my time at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, I learned about Primary and Secondary Foods. Primary Foods are the ways we feed ourselves, mentally, through relationships, spirituality, career and physical activity. Secondary Foods being the physical food we consume to fill our bodies.

Institute for integrative nutrition, integrative nutrition plate; primary and secondary foods

Institute for integrative nutrition, integrative nutrition plate; primary and secondary foods

The thought here is a fantastic one; when we're feeding our physical bodies all of the right foods (Secondary Food), it doesn't mean squat if our Primary Foods aren't in check, too. Meaning: you can eat kale every day, count your macros and consume all organic food, but if you're not feeding your soul with what it needs, you're not going to be healthy.

**Quick side note here: this doesn't mean that Secondary Food isn't important! This is all about balance, as is anything with life.

Think of it this way: How do you feel after binging on a double-cheeseburger, fries and a soda? Just like your physical body hurts (after feeding it unhealthy food), we hurt our soul when we feed it with unhealthy thoughts.

In my eyes, Primary Food goes hand-in-hand with living a life filled with self-care! Self-care isn't just about finding that down time, taking that bubble bath, but it's also about finding those ways to feed your soul with positive thoughts and positive actions.

**I created a pretty handy self-care guide that focuses on creating a life of self-care, based on feeding ourselves with Primary & Secondary Foods. Please take a look, and use it in whatever way feels best! Sometimes, we just need a little push in the right direction, and my hope is that this guide will do just that. Click here for the guide, and subscribe to my page...


This week, your goal is to focus on your Primary Foods. What's positive, and going well? Where needs some love? How can you put more self-care and self-love into those areas?


As always, remember that change is a gradual process, and that it takes time. Don't worry about worrying, or rushing, because that'll just make it more difficult to get to the point of this blog post. I always like to think that the most positive thing is realizing that we need to make a change, and then be willing to make it. Once we've reached that point, we're halfway there!

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