Category: Self-Care

How My Faith Has Helped With Stress and Anxiety

While I grew up in the Church of Christ, I never had a strong faith. I knew all the stories, I listened and absorbed what was said in services most of the time, but unfortunately I did not believe much of it. However, just under two years ago I got an unspoken prayer answered by God. From that moment, things fell into place. I traveled to my hometown and went to a women’s Bible class with a family friend, and I learned something there that hadn’t clicked into place before: God does not expect us to be perfect. We need to do our best, and always strive to serve Him and follow His Word. That class was the final piece to the puzzle that I really needed. After I returned home, I set up a Bible study with the preacher of my parents’ church, one I had attended for a few years as a kid. I was baptized at that Bible study and the congregation there gave me such a warm and inviting welcome.

One of the biggest focuses that I have had since I was baptized was to put my trust in God. I felt driven and motivated to keep working on it, even in the times that it seemed bleak or hopeless. God always has a plan and learning to trust in Him has spilled over into more areas in my life than I could have ever imagined. It has really helped my mental wellbeing, especially with dealing with everyday stress and anxiety.

Some of the things that I have learned to give to God, to be a more centered person:

  • Cares and worries: All of those things that I used to let fester in my mind, I can leave to Him. Imagining them visually floating away from me and sending them up to Him has really helped me to find that peace that I so desperately need. Whenever something pops into my mind that causes me to worry, I remind myself: pray about it! God will take care of it. This especially helps for those times where I find myself worrying about friends and family, or simply people I pass by on the road, in the store, or wherever else. There are a lot of things in this world that can cause me to worry because I care so much about people. So, each time that kind of thing passes through my mind, I pray for those people and that helps me let go of it instead of letting it fester in my mind. What good does that do? Praying and helping in ways that I can are ways that I can take a more active role.
  • Nervousness and anxiety: I have always been a nervous, anxious ball of energy. Life has been overwhelming for me on various levels. Now that I know that God is there for me, I have learned to let things go and know that He will take care of me. That doesn’t make the nerves and anxiety disappear, but it helps immensely, and I continuously remind myself of this fact. I breathe and remember that He is right by my side, there to guide me and to be there for me no matter what happens in my life.
  • Life’s stresses: Life can be stressful in general, so like I mentioned about nerves and anxiety, knowing that God is right by my side and always there for me is a very important part of my mental wellbeing. Each time I start to get stressed, I remind myself or see evidence that God is working on something for my life. He has a plan to help me help others, reach more people, and make a difference.

How has your faith made a difference with your health, whether it be physical, mental, or emotional? I would love to hear from you!

 

~Bonnie~

What Depression and Anxiety Mean to Me

Disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate links.

Depression and anxiety are things that I have dealt with as long as I can remember, although I wasn’t able to put labels on these experiences until I was a teenager and young adult. There are so many of us that suffer from these issues that I feel it’s important for us to share our stories in hopes of helping others in some way. My own story starts when I was a teenager, possibly even earlier. When I was about seventeen years old, a very close friend of mine pointed out that I was depressed. That news hit me like a ton of bricks and I talked to my mom about it. She had also dealt with it throughout her life as well and knew where I was coming from. Still, knowing that depression was the label for what I was experiencing was only one step in my journey of depression.

In the next few years, I got my depression under control to a certain degree, at least as far as I could on my own. I learned the triggers and the warning signs, and did my best to deal with them as they came. It worked for the time being. However, I now realize that it was a hindrance to my living life more fully. I constantly felt like I should stay in my own bubble and not expanding my world. Then in 2012, my living situation changed drastically. There were a lot of our family members living in a small house, and other stressors that were going on at the time as well. I believe that is what caused things to escalate with my depression and anxiety. Although, this escalation may have been just what I needed to push me to seek further treatment, even though it didn’t happen for a few more years.

As far as my anxiety goes, I started to notice what it meant to me in my early 20’s, when I was in college. One day I went to the school to talk to the admissions office, and realized even after I left that I was feeling really anxious and wound up. At this point, I thought it was only social anxiety and it took me a few years after that to figure out that it was much more than just social anxiety, or even having to just do with being in the spotlight. Due to the tough living situation at the time, I figured out that I had a lot of anxiety about getting things done, expectations or simply perceived expectations of others, having time to think or be alone, and much more. It was an everyday thing, whether I dealt with people outside of my circle of friends and family or not.

My story to really dealing with my depression and anxiety didn’t really start until I started my healthy living journey in 2014. As I worked on getting healthier, I became more aware to how my mind also reacted to stressors and triggers, thus causing me to feel either depressed or anxious. I was beginning to feel better overall but these issues were still very much present in my life, and in the summer of 2015, I was finally able to seek the help I needed. I wanted to approach my treatment from both sides, so I chose to use a therapy and medication combination approach. Therapy was vital either way, and medication was necessary at the time and still is now. Mostly therapy allowed me to talk things out and get some guidance I needed to deal with everyday life in the way that helped me thrive. The medication I started with to treat my depression worked at first, but then it started working less and less, and soon I realized that my depression was also linked to other factors and needed a change in medication in order for me to continue seeing progress. When I approached my psychiatrist about changing my meds, she pretty much acted like I was crazy for proposing a change and wouldn’t prescribe anything else for me to take. Since I had gotten some guidance on the subject from my primary doctor, I turned to her for help after getting this reaction from the psychiatrist. I needed someone who would listen to me, and that is also very vital to treating either of these issues. My primary doctor helped me switch to a different, and much more effective, medication. While this new medication didn’t make the depression disappear, because that wouldn’t be very realistic anyway, it did reduce the symptoms enough that I can live a more normal life.

Dealing with depression and anxiety is not fun, but there are so many options to treating or improving them. Some might include therapy, medications, natural remedies, and much more. Whichever approach that you take is up to you. Most of all, I want you to remember that you are not alone, there are many of us fighting this fight against depression and anxiety.

You might even considering to take a comprehensive, and helpful, online course to help guide you through. One I have found useful in my own life recently, called The Undepression Project!

If your question is what does a course have to offer me that I couldn’t figure out on my own…? I’ll tell you that it has the personal touch of someone who has dealt with depression and has made immense progress in their own journey, and wants to pass along these helpful tips to you! Check it out and see more of what there is in the modules, such as: how self-care and compassion play into how you feel, what social support can do to help you feel better and more stable, how to stay motivated in your journey to improving your depression, and many more topics that will shed light on your depression. Not only that, but you will learn more about depression itself and how it manifests itself in your everyday life. There are so many variables with depression, that we may not be able to identify or understand them all. This course will help you identify and understand more of what depression means to you!

 

What is your story? If you feel like sharing, I would love to hear how you have dealt with your own depression or anxiety.

 

~Bonnie~

5 Things That Dogs Can Teach You About Emotions

I am very honored to have Luna Lupus from www.luna-lupus.com here to share her excellent expertise on what dogs can teach us about emotions! Since taking in my new puppy a month ago, I’ve become a lot more passionate about how much our dogs (and other furbabies) can give us in return for the care and love we give them. They offer us so much and they really can teach us a lot. I know my puppy has taught me a bit more about perspective as he constantly reminds me of what is most important! I hope you enjoy Luna’s post, it is very enlightening!

Dog owners like say that dogs are our biggest teachers. They teach us things about dog training, patience, communication and the power of unconditional love. But often times, if we only give them a chance, they can teach us more than that; they can teach us so much about ourselves. Dogs, like humans, are sentient beings with a wide spectrum of emotions. Just like us, they can be happy, angry, afraid and even depressed. Their emotions are not to be underestimated. As somebody who has been surrounded by dogs all my life and have done a fair share of work on my mental health, I started to notice the parallels between the way dogs and humans process trauma and emotions. Truth be told, we are not that different. However, our furry best friends can teach us some very important things.

 

Here are 5 things that your dog can teach you about emotions!

1. Feel your emotions

As humans, we like to repress certain emotions that make us (or those around us) feel uncomfortable; most common ones tend to be anger, sadness and fear. It’s a coping mechanism that we pick up at the earliest stages of our life. Dogs, however, are different. They feel the emotions in all of their entirety, they don’t worry whether or not they should be afraid or angry, they simply let their emotions be. I have been surrounded by rescue dogs for the last couple of years non-stop and even though they have been through some really rough things, they never cease to impress me with their ability to let emotions run through them freely.

2. Express your emotions

Closely correlating to the first point, expressing your emotions is the next step from feeling them. With dogs, this is usually the same thing – as they feel it, they express it. People, on the other hand, like to overthink things. When we feel angry with someone we love, we wonder if we should tell them or just keep quiet. When we feel sad, we wonder if we can show it on the outside or rather pretend to be happy. Allow dogs to teach you that expressing your emotions is liberating. Think of your dog when you come home from work. What does he do? Chances are, he goes nuts for you! Jumps up and down, runs around the house, barks in excitement because you just came home and that makes him the happiest. Dogs are not afraid of being too much. Every time you question whether expressing your emotions will make you seem “too needy” or “too sensitive” or “too out there” … think about your dog when he is angry, scared or happy. He is liberated and emotional at the same time. He is liberated because he is emotional! Expressing your emotions is not only healthy, it is also a freeing experience. Give it a chance.

3. There’s no such thing as bad emotions

Before you ask “But what if I want to express a negative emotion?” let’s tackle it straight away! Dogs understand that there are no bad emotions – humans don’t. Every single emotion has its purpose. When you encounter abused dogs you really start to understand that. Let’s take an example of a dog who is afraid of other dogs. When he is faced with another dog he will clearly express his emotions of fear; his tail will go between his legs, he will lower his head and turn it to the side, he might even begin licking his lips. He is visibly afraid. This is good. Why? Because he is clearly communicating with the other dog, saying “I am not a threat to you.” Every dog owner who is familiar with basic canine body language can tell the signs that I have just described (lowered tail, lip licking, head lowered and turned to the side) are calming signals. He is trying to get the other dog to back off. Can you trace this back to your own life?

When you are afraid, it’s your body’s way of trying to protect you. When you are angry, it’s your body’s way of giving you power to set boundaries. When you are sad, it’s your body’s way of demanding rest and emotional introspection. All of these emotions are positive and important. Just like a dog communicating with another dog, your emotions can help you recognize your needs and help you communicate them to other people.

4. Your emotions can be misplaced and that’s okay

Can emotions be misplaced? Of course they can. Both humans and dogs can find ourselves facing strong emotions in situations where they don’t necessarily serve us. To continue with the example I have described above, if the dog is suddenly acting fearful around every single dog he encounters, even when he is in no danger whatsoever, that fear would be misplaced and a result of a trigger. This is a very common symptom of anxiety and PTSD. It’s about experiencing great fear in completely neutral situations. However, that doesn’t mean you should abandon everything we’ve discussed so far! You should absolutely:

  • recognize your fear (or other emotion)
  • express it
  • see how it can serve you

Let me give another example, a human one this time. If you keep getting angry at your partner and you can’t understand why, instead of beating yourself up about it, take a close look at that anger. In which situations does it occur? How long does it last? What does it remind you of? Every time I open the doors of my home to another rescue dog I pay close attention to their emotional responses and try to see if there are any underlying patterns that need to be resolved. Once I recognize their misplaced emotions, we can start working together towards a better mindset. Emotions are like a compass; they show you where you need to look, what you need to pay attention to and give you a great opportunity for personal growth.

5. Don’t allow your emotions to hold you hostage

At the end of the day, you are more than your emotions. When dogs are faced with a situation where they are angry or sad, they don’t contemplate it for the rest of the day. They are present in the moment and they let it go once it passes. They don’t dwell on their emotional responses. I know that accepting your emotions won’t happen overnight, but if you do nothing else today, at least give yourself a promise that you won’t allow your emotions to hold you hostage anymore. Don’t feel guilty for feeling a certain way, don’t worry about it all day long; look to your dog if you need to be inspired by somebody who is a master at living in the moment, no matter which emotion was running through him five minutes ago. From angrily barking at a squirrel to show her who’s boss, to lying on your couch in a relaxed manner, all within minutes. Dogs just get it: life is too short to live in the past.

I hope the next time you look at your dog, you don’t just see your fur baby and fellow adventurer; I hope you see a teacher, a guru. I hope you give him a chance to teach you even more about yourself. And above all, I hope you accept yourself with all of your emotions – just like your dog does, every single day.

 

Luna C. Lupus is a freelance blogger and a mom to her rescue dogs. She specializes in positive pet training, responsible dog ownership and helping people with challenging dogs. You can find out more about her work at www.luna-lupus.com

How Our Furry Workout Partners Can Inspire Us

Our furbabies are more than just companions and family members, they can actually make wonderful workout partners too! Just a few days ago, I was doing Cize and my puppy, Jasper was bouncing around and wanting to play because I was dancing and laughing. It made such a big difference to me because I felt a bit silly at first. I don’t dance often, and I’ve never been a good dancer, and exercise videos in general can sometimes feel a bit silly when I first start them. However, when he was looking at me, cocking his head, it made me laugh and when I laughed, he started bouncing around like he wanted to join in. That made the workout so much easier to get into and just feel it, not feel so silly!

This experience as well as knowing that my Jasper will be a great walking and running partner once he has all of his vaccines, got me to thinking about how our furry workout partners are very beneficial in our pursuit of a healthy lifestyle!

Walking and running buddies

While it depends on many factors, our dogs can make amazing walking and running buddies. In fact, they encourage us to get up and go in the first place. They need the exercise as much as we do and if we don’t take them for a walk or a run, we may pay the price in the form of a hyper dog. When you go for a walk or a run, having your dog with you helps you feel safer and more energized too!

Workout video companion

Whether your dog or cat simply hangs out in the room with you while you exercise, giving you someone to vent to when your workout is tough, or actually tries to join in, our furry workout partners are great at keeping us company while we exercise! I know back when I only had my cat and I needed to wake up at dawn to get a workout in, she would keep me company by perching on the back of the couch or one of the chairs. Knowing she was there with me brought me comfort and silent encouragement.

Hiking buddy

Similar to having a walking or running, having a buddy to go on a hike with can help you feel more motivated, energized, and safe while you’re hiking. One of the things that has concerned me about hiking is doing it alone. I don’t really have any friends close by or family members that would enjoy going hiking, but now that I have an active and energetic dog, he will make the perfect hiking buddy. He will make me feel safer and more confident on my hikes.

Yoga or stretching

Our pets might enjoy being near us or helping us when we stretch. Their idea of helping may not be conducive to a good workout, but they will likely brighten up your session. Sometimes they may think that you are a playground that they should play on while you’re stretching. It can either be annoying, or entertaining, or maybe even both!

Our pets benefit as much as we do for us to get exercise in with them by our sides. They get exercise themselves or companionship, and we get the same in return!

 

~Bonnie~

God and Food: An Appetite for Everlasting Satisfaction

I am so excited, and honored, to have one of my new friends, Denise Marcello Manning write this guest post for me!

Does food have ungodly control over you?  

It was a question that I already knew the answer to in regards to my own life, as I had personally struggled with an eating disorder for over two decades. While God has delivered me from this addiction, I never fully understood why I gravitated to food in the first place.

And, why at times, I still do.

I still experience those times where I turn to food for comfort.  When the old, addictive behavior resurfaces, I find myself drawn to sugary, fattening foods to make myself feel better on the inside.  There have also been times in my life that I have restricted my food intake to satisfy my inner desire to be thin, or to look and feel better about myself.  

The book, Full – Food, Jesus and the Battle for Satisfaction, by Aseritah Ciuciu, put this struggle into perspective for me with these words:  

“We can’t solve a spiritual problem with a physical solution.” 

As a fitness coach, I can give a client a healthy meal plan, but God helped me to recognize that proper nutrition alone can’t solve the underlying problem – why are we eating the way that we do?

Whether we find ourselves in the throes of food addiction or food fixation, neither can ever bring the satisfaction we truly crave.    Have you ever found yourself completely consumed by food, only to realize that it never solves your problem, but leaves you feeling ashamed, empty and utterly alone?  

In Full – Food, Jesus and the Battle for Satisfaction, the author writes, “When we eat and eat and eat, unaware of what’s going into our mouths, unable to taste, enjoy, or relish the food but just stuffing down one mouthful after another until it makes us sick – that’s being enslaved to our appetites.”  When I read those words, my eyes filled with tears.  This explained my lifelong relationship with food!  2 Peter 2:19 says, “People are slaves to whatever has mastered them.”  Unbeknownst to me, I had become enslaved to food.  It may not be what society calls “addictive” (like drugs and alcohol), but I promise you that Satan can use food as a stronghold in our lives.

There is only one way to be truly sated.  Did you know that we are designed to crave God?  God invites us to join Him at the table of eternal satisfaction.  Isaiah 55:1-2 says, “Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come buy wine and milk without money and without cost.  Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy? Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and your soul will delight in the richest of fare.”  The bible uses the example of food in this verse to describe the fullness that only God can provide.  How exciting that God offers us the “richest of food and drink” through intimacy with Him, and wants us to come and “eat” until we are fully satisfied!

Instead of picking up a fork or spoon the next time you seek comfort, I pray that you will ask God, through his Living Word (and possibly this book!) to show you the pathway to everlasting satisfaction.  He is our daily bread, and all that we will ever need!

Disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate links.

Author: Denise Marcello Manning
Follower of Christ, Certified in Nutrition and Fitness, Virtual Spiritual & Physical Fitness Coach and actively involved in women’s ministries.  Married with three dogs, loving the outdoors and enjoying log cabin living in upstate New York.  Philippians 4:13 I can do all things through Christ Jesus who gives me strength.  Motto: Step out in faith!

Interview with Self Love Beauty Blogger Lisa Thompson

I would love to announce that I have had the pleasure to become acquainted with the wonderful lady who blogs at Self Love Beauty, Lisa Thompson! She is a runner who loves to help others see the true beauty within themselves, and I firmly believe that you should hop on over and check out her posts there on her website!

You can find Lisa on social media here: Facebook | Twitter | InstagramPinterest

What is your website about?

Self Love Beauty mission is to ensure women have self-love through feeling confident in their own beauty and feeling empowered one story at a time knowing they are not alone on their journey to reach their full potential.

Why do you feel self-love is so important?

Self-love is so important because until you love yourself you cannot be happy with other pieces of your life. It is amazing the women I know with self-love and how they give more, love more and give themselves more respect. It is extremely important. I think since I have given myself more love, I am a stronger person.

What do you think are the best ways to show self-love?

Great question! I truly think it is taking care of yourself, eating properly, being surrounded with positive people, saying no to things you don’t want to do, giving yourself respect, being kind, confident and following your dreams. You get to choice each day how to feel so why not choose love for yourself!

How can we make the world a better place simply by treating ourselves and others better?

Just think about how when someone is kind to you how it changes your day and then use that act of kindness to do the same for someone else. It is truly amazing how if you do simple things for people how it can change their day and then they turn around and do it for someone else too.

What are your biggest accomplishments as far as self-love or health go? 

My biggest accomplish is learning what works for my body. Everyone is different and therefore you have to choose what healthy means to you, what foods you want to eat and what exercises you want to do. I have finally found what exercise and food works for my body. There are multiple ads out there telling you what to try but our bodies are all different so it is important you do what you want for yourself. I have made sure to not deprive myself from going out but I also learned moderation. Not only is it important with food and exercise but truly who you surround yourself with, what positive you have in your life and being sure to always be laughing.

How important do you think living a healthy life is?

Healthy living is so important. It fuels your energy, mind and body. Health living can be handled in many ways but it is self care and self love. I am so much happier with myself since I took the turn to finally embrace my body, embrace who I am and take care of myself.

Do you have any advice to other women based on what you’ve learned or done?

It would be to find what works for yourself regarding health and all other aspects of your life it would be to know your worth. It is extremely important that you know how beautiful you are. Self love, self care and self respect are three essentials.

Don’t forget to check out Lisa’s social media pages and follow her if you like what she posts! Facebook | Twitter | InstagramPinterest

 

~Bonnie~

Health and Wellbeing Benefits of Having a Dog

If you’ve ever had a dog or thought about getting a dog, this post is for you. We may adopt or rescue them for many reasons, but the truth is that they offer us as many benefits as we offer them. I want to share with you all the health and wellbeing benefits of having a dog in your life, from the physical, to the mental, to even the emotional. They have so much to offer us in turn for our love, care, and meeting their needs.

Physical Benefits of Having a Dog

  • Healthy routine and rhythm to the day, especially if you spend much of your day sitting down. They force us to get up to take them out, feed them, fill their water bowls, play with them, and take them for walks. I know if it weren’t for my parents’ dog, and now my puppy, I would not get up and get moving as much as I do since I have a computer-based career. Those two furry creatures force me to get up every hour, or hour and a half at the most, these days. That is so beneficial to me to get the blood flowing, to break up the monotony of working nonstop, and to get a mental break from my work.
  • Daily walking. Nearly every dog needs some sort of physical activity throughout the day. Most dogs need at least 15 minutes of walking a day, and many more need at least 30-60 minutes a day. There are some, particularly high energy, breeds who need even more than that. Getting out and walking every day to take care of their physical needs in turn helps us take care of our own physical needs. Exercising is a daily activity that we need to take care of ourselves as well.
  • Playing. We all need some play in our lives. Dogs are playful, they crave that attention every day and even multiple times a day. This can come in form of roughhousing, tug-of-war, fetch, frisbee, or simply running around like crazy! It is so fun for them and brings joy to our lives too. I know there are many times that I needed that fast-paced play to get the blood flowing, and the laughter of seeing how adorable the dogs look while they’re playing. There’s never a shortage of laughs!
  • Overall increased activity. They help us get increased activity throughout the day, through taking them out for potty breaks, taking them for walks, and playing with them. That increased activity certainly adds up over time.

Mental Benefits of Having a Dog

  • Consistent responsibility for another being. When we bring a dog into our home, we take on the responsibility for another being. We can’t just take them in and forget our responsibility to them. They need a commitment and consistent care. This causes us to think beyond ourselves and only our needs. Our responsibility to them can help distract us from our mental woes too. Whenever we’re feeling down, we still have to get up and take care of them. There’s no way around that.
  • Combats mental disorders. Anyone who deals with a mental disorder of some sort will likely find benefits to their mental health for having and caring for a dog. Some of the things that dogs help combat are depression, anxiety, and PTSD among others. I personally deal with depression and anxiety on a regular basis and having my puppy has helped with my anxiety. He helps remind me that there is a bigger picture and little things that cause me anxiety aren’t that big of a deal. I just need to focus on doing my best. He has very low expectations of me, basically just to take care of him and love him. The lack of pressure, and the presence of unconditional love, helps me feel calmer.
  • Talking out loud to your dog can reduce loneliness and help you intellectually. If you spend a lot of time alone, things can get lonely and you will begin to miss the interaction with other human beings. While a dog can’t talk back to you, they are still good for listening, bouncing ideas off of them, and just having some general interaction on a daily basis. I know that I talk out loud to my puppy a lot and it releases a lot of pent up stress and helps me express myself more.
  • Helps you interact with other people more. You talk to more people when you walk, as you are more approachable and dogs also help break the ice. Not only that, but you feel braver when you’re walking with your dog as opposed to walking alone. Other people with dogs might also strike up a conversation with you about yours or their dogs. The other day, I had a conversation with a fellow dog owner. I’ve run into her quite a bit more since getting my puppy, even though I was out there quite often with my parents’ dog before that too. The conversation was funny, I felt like a parent because I was talking about my puppy. He elicits this level of pride for me and I really enjoy talking about him, rather than talking about myself!

Emotional Benefits of Having a Dog

  • Companionship and social interaction. Like I mentioned above in the mental benefits, the social interaction with your dog is so beneficial, especially when you don’t have a chance to be with other people as often as you might like or need. Your dog is also a constant companion. They rely on you, so they will rarely leave your side for too long. Knowing that they are there and that they are someone whom you can rely on as well, helps you feel more secure and comfortable.
  • Unconditional love. Dogs do not have conditions on if they love you or not. If they love you, they love you. If you take care of their needs and love them, then it’s almost guaranteed that they will love you back. Most dogs aren’t super picky about who they spend time with, although some may prefer one person over another. Knowing that someone loves you no matter what will also help you feel more secure, and less lonely!
  • Affection and touch. Petting your dog can offer you many benefits. It is comforting and pleasing, and can ease your worries and stress. Their affection in return for your love is also comforting. I know whenever I feel down or need some kind of comfort, petting my puppy helps me immensely.

There are so many health benefits to having a dog, I couldn’t even list them all here. Think about all that your dog offers you in return for your taking care of and loving him. You will see what I mean, that they are so beneficial for us in so many different ways. You will have better overall health, as well as a boost in your mood and positive feelings. They may be a lot of work, especially when they are young and especially rambunctious, but they offer so much in return for the challenges!

What does your dog offer you? What do you offer them? How do those things benefit you both? Bonus: tell me about your dog(s). I love to hear about them!

 

 

~Bonnie~

Interview with Beachbody and Health Coach Elizabeth Gudrais

Today I am sharing with you an interview I held with my Beachbody and Health Coach friend, Elizabeth Gudrais. She is such an inspiration to many, including me, and I know she will help inspire you all too!

Check out her social media pages here: Facebook | Instagram | Twitter | Pinterest

What is your job?

I am a fitness and wellness coach affiliated with Beachbody. At the most basic level, I am here to support people in using the company’s fitness and nutrition products: fitness programs such as PiYo, TurboFire, P90X, Insanity, Core de Force, and many others, and nutrition plans like the 21 Day Fix. I am here to help them through these programs and answer any questions they may have about our programs or supplements.

As coaches, each of us builds a unique business and brand; new customers trying a Beachbody program for the first time can choose the coach they want to work with based on the coach’s personality and the focus of his/her business. In my business, Living Vibrantly (www.livingvibrantly.net), I focus on helping women feel their best, claim their power, and discover their potential through exercise and nutrition. If we don’t feel well on a daily basis, it’s hard to find energy for work we are passionate about. It saddens me that many of us don’t even know how good we CAN feel in our bodies if we treat them right.

What do you like most about doing this kind of work?

The people!!!! All my life I’ve enjoyed meeting new people and getting to know them… their stories, their perspectives, how they view the world. It is a challenge taking that a step further and figuring out how to motivate people who may not respond to the same things that motivate me. But it’s a challenge I love and it definitely keeps each day interesting! I find it so incredible that with social media I can meet people from all over the world and we can come together and encourage one another in our online groups. The sense of community is so energizing and uplifting.

How did you get started in your personal healthy living journey?

I did not always have the perspective I have now, of loving and accepting my body (or at least working toward that daily). When I was younger, I really struggled with not liking my appearance. I was self-critical every time I looked in the mirror. Since I thought I needed to lose weight, I would skip meals and deprive myself of food. Then I would be starving hungry and I’d binge. I was stuck in a vicious cycle and it was miserable.

Breaking the cycle was not quick or simple. It started with a decision that I didn’t want to keep on living that way. It was so scary for me to eat three meals a day, and snacks in between. To eat when I was hungry and stop when I was full was completely foreign to me, but slowly I learned to make peace with the fear of gaining weight. That was the first step of a long journey. Along the way, therapy and Overeaters Anonymous (12 step meetings for food addiction) were immensely helpful for me.

Around the same time, I discovered yoga, which also helped immensely. Previously I had used exercise as punishment or at least as a way to keep my body under control. Yoga was something different: a type of movement that was more about the internal experience, and the mental and emotional benefits. For several years, the only exercise I did (other than walking) was yoga, and it really transformed my relationship with food and my body. Through all of the time I took for self-care and healing, I came to understand the emotions that were driving me to eat, and I developed better ways to cope (although I’m not perfect and there are still days when my desire to numb out drives me toward the candy dish or my old habit of skipping meals). These past experiences help me guide my clients through their own issues with food and body image.

What has been your biggest struggle in your own journey?

Depression and anxiety. Healthy habits (primarily nutrition, but also exercise, getting adequate sleep, and reducing stress) have helped a lot, but anxiety is still with me on an almost-daily basis (just not as severe as it once was), and depression still strikes sometimes without warning or explanation. At this point it’s a fact of life for me. I learned long ago, during the years when my lows were much lower, to keep going through the motions because it’s way worse if you don’t. (It’s been awhile since I lacked the energy to do even that, but I know it does happen and I’ve experienced it, so I know that even going through the motions sometimes isn’t possible for everyone in the depths of depression.) So I’ll always still get up and show up for work, but depression sometimes causes me to doubt my own abilities and isolate myself from other people, which, as you can imagine, isn’t good for my business, nor does it help me to feel less depressed. I’ve had to work on reaching out to friends to talk instead of isolating when this happens. Still, I believe that having these conditions makes me more sensitive to others who struggle with them.

Is there an event or something that happened to you that has made you more, or less, determined to live a healthier life?

My husband and I have been going through fertility treatment in one way or another for the past three years, and in 2014 I had a surgery related to this. It was supposed to be a straightforward procedure but I ended up having major complications and nearly dying. I was in the hospital for three weeks and on dialysis for three months because my kidneys weren’t working. I was incredibly sick and just physically weak. I had to learn to walk again after being bedridden. I lost 25 pounds and I’m only 5’5″! I was relatively young when it happened, so my body bounced back in most ways, but it took a lot of work and a lot of patience. Getting my daily workout in became a matter of fighting for my recovery. Cooking healthy meals became a matter of giving my body what it needed to regain strength. That experience changed the way I understood the purpose of fitness and nutrition. I had already started to care less about appearance and more about the health impact and the way these behaviors made me feel, but the experience of illness and recovery completed that shift. I will also say that the experience made me much more aware of savoring each moment and each day. I stress less and when I indulge, I don’t entertain guilt afterwards!

How do you stay motivated and encouraged each day to continue in your journey?

Honestly, it all comes back to the people. I love my team and I love the Beachbody community. They make it fun to show up each day and share about my workout or share recipes and trade nutrition tips. In addition to that, at this point many elements of healthy living have become habits that I do almost automatically: working out, prepping and packing a healthy lunch and snacks, drinking enough water and getting enough sleep.

There’s always room for improvement, and right now I’m working on getting better at detaching from upsetting news or interpersonal conflict. My goal isn’t to stop caring (I believe we need to stay engaged in our communities just as we do in relationships), but rather to be able to take a break and come back to it with a fresh  perspective and renewed energy.

I think it’s important to always keep growing, evolving, and reflecting. This is part of the path I try to guide my clients on, in addition to supporting them in setting up those basic healthy habits so self-care becomes a given.

What is one thing that’s happened in your journey, or career as a health coach, that has made you a stronger person?

I’m still dealing with the biggest challenge I have faced so far, and that is infertility. It’s been the biggest lesson in recognizing and admitting that some things are beyond my control. After many twists and turns, spurts of hope followed by disappointment, it’s still not clear whether we will be able to bear children or whether our family will be completed through adoption. As we cope with this seemingly boundless uncertainty, I’ve tried to do my best to share openly about our journey and our struggles, knowing that there are many people out there dealing with infertility. The stigma that’s attached to it compounds how difficult it is to go through; not only is it heartbreaking and often medically/physically painful and draining, but then on top of that people feel like they can’t reach out to others for support because it’s a taboo subject to talk about. I have sometimes felt fear that people won’t want to work with me because I haven’t successfully “solved the problem” by becoming pregnant, but through sharing my vulnerability, imperfections, and fears I’ve connected with so many people I never would have met otherwise, because something I posted spoke to them. It’s really remarkable, and it’s been so worth it.

How do you suggest others get started in their own healthy living journeys?

Well, obviously I am hugely partial to working with a coach and plugging into a community! If what you’ve read here has spoken to you, please reach out to me! You can find my contact info on my website. But beyond that, Beachbody has an enormous network of coaches, with just about every possible focus, interest, and style you could imagine—and of course you can look beyond our programs as well, to different types of health coaching. A coach can help you get clear about your goals and get realistic about how to fit them into your life. It’s almost not even about the coach; it’s you that does the work, not the coach. But knowing you’ll be checking in daily or weekly with a coach or a supportive group can be an incredible source of motivation and, from what I’ve seen, can provide that push to nudge people out of inertia.

What is the biggest piece of advice you have for them?

 Don’t be afraid to invest in yourself! Sure, there are lots of free options for healthy living… going for walks, following videos you find on YouTube, looking up recipes on the internet. Those options may work great for you—but if they’re not working for you, get honest with yourself about whether they ever will. Don’t underestimate the power of putting some skin in the game. Many people take something more seriously once they’ve spent money on it. They don’t want to have wasted the money, so they make sure to follow through on the investment.

You could say I have an ulterior motive here because my programs cost money, but I also have an online wellness community where I spend a decent amount of time supporting people without them ever making a purchase. I believe Beachbody has the best workout videos—hands down—as well high-quality supplements and simple, powerful nutrition programs. That’s why I work with this company. But I believe the group support is the magic that pulls it all together and makes it so effective. The bottom line is that, although I’ve heard many people doubt the value of the services coaches provide, I absolutely think group programs and the services of a coach are worth investing in. They were one of the things that made the biggest difference for me, which was what made me want to start this business in the first place.

If you want to follow her on social media, here are her pages again: Facebook | Instagram | Twitter | Pinterest

Thank you so much, Elizabeth, for allowing me to interview you and post this here! I hope it reaches many people and helps them feel inspired and motivated to live a healthy life.

~Bonnie~

5 doTERRA Essential Oils for Health and Wellbeing

I am so excited to share with you this post by Brie Bradshaw from My Organic Adventure! She is sharing with us about how essential oils can help with various aspects of our health and wellbeing. It is certainly an enlightening piece and I hope you all learn a lot from it!

I remember the first time I was introduced to essential oils. 3 and a half years ago. I thought that they were a hoax and a fad that would pass as fast as they came. Oh how wrong I was! Peppermint was the first oil to come into my life and I have not looked back since. Essential oils have completely transformed my life and I am so honored that Bonnie is giving me the opportunity to share the amazing benefits of dōTERRA’s essential oils with you!

“There’s an oil for that”, is a famous saying amongst essential oil users! This post would never end if I went into the numerous uses that all of dōTERRA essential oils can help benefit and support. This is why I have chosen my favorite five to highlight for you!

  1. Peppermint– Since peppermint was my first love, it only makes sense to talk about it first! 🙂 1 drop of dōTERRA peppermint essential oil is equivalent to 26 cups of peppermint tea. So yes, these essential oils are very potent and strong! A little bit goes a long way! Peppermint is really good to use when you are having tummy troubles. It provides a burst of cool relief. It also takes away that annoying head pain that seems to come all the time at the worst possible times! Peppermint is part of the infamous LLP trio (lemon, lavender, & peppermint) that helps get through those annoying season changes!
  2. Lavender– Lavender is known as the number one essential oil that is the most adulterated. You can find “lavender” in almost anything and everything. Think about all of those baby products that are lavender scented. Unfortunately, that lavender is a synthetic chemical made in a lab! This is why dōTERRAs lavender is the real deal, 100% certified pure therapeutic grade essential oil. I love to put drops of lavender on my pillow every night to help wind me down before bed. It is also good to put on your kids cuts and scrapes that they always seem to get! Lavender is also known as the swiss army knife of oils, meaning if there is something going on and you do not know what oil to use, grab your lavender and it will most likely help!
  3. On-Guard– This is the oil you most definitely need in the winter time to keep your immune system strong! I use this oil as a preventative to keep the sickness at bay. The University of Manchester did an aromatherapy study with On-Guard and it was found to kill the deadly MRSA bacteria. Vanderbilt Hospital in Tennessee also uses On-Guard to boost productivity and health of patients and their staff year round. Because of the amazing benefits of On-Guard, dōTERRA has made many other products that are formulated around the On-Guard protective blend. These products include On-Guard whitening toothpaste, On-Guard cleaner concentrate, foaming hand wash, laundry detergent, and throat drops to name a few. On-Guard, like the name states, is a must have in your home!
  4. Frankincense– I am sure many of you have heard of Frankincense before. Remember in the Bible when the three wise men brought baby Jesus gifts of gold, FRANKINCENSE, and myrrh? Frankincense is known as a holy oil. Get this, it was valued more back then than the gift of gold. I not only love Frankincense for the rich history that it encompasses , but also for the healing properties it possesses. Cancer patients desiring to fight cancer with naturopathy typically have used Frank and have been pleased. And to all my fellow ladies, this oil is amazing at making your aging skin look younger. 🙂 Frankincense is a must have in your arsenal!
  5. Melaleuca– Melaleuca has been a recent found love for me! It is best known for its purifying properties. Like lavender, it is another oil that it is so versatile. It helps support your immune system, skin and nail complexion, and is really good at helping get rid of ear and sinus issues that you may deal with during winter months.

 

The amazing part of dōTERRA essential oils is that you can use them topically, aromatically, and internally! Since not all essential oils are created equally, it is important to know how the company distills and handles their product. Since dōTERRA takes immense pride in their indigenous sourcing, they promise us that we are getting the best, most pure, essential oils in the world! Because of this, I am completely confident in using their products for myself and my loved ones. Life truly is better with essential oils!

Processed with VSCO with t1 presetBrie Bradshaw is a blogger, 3 years running avid essential oil user and advocate, wife, follower of Jesus, and coffee barista. She enjoys adventures and encouraging others  to step out of the ordinary to make life a world sized escapade. Find Brie’s blog at www.myorganicadventure.com or contact her at myorganicadventure@outlook.com

10 Ways to Keep a Positive Attitude in the Winter

The wintertime is notorious for making our moods tank. It happens and that’s okay, but there’s no reason we should wallow in it and give up on feeling good during the coldest months of they year. Some of the things that have helped me along the way:

  1. Think positive: Keep your thoughts as positive and uplifting as you can. It may not be as simple as just thinking positive, but it can be done and is very beneficial all around. How you go about this is up to you, but some ideas are to write down a list of things you’re grateful for each day, reflect on any good that happened in a blog post or journal, or look for positive posts on social media. It can also be good to surround yourself with positive words and people.
  2. Take care of yourself: Self-care is very important to our overall wellbeing. If you don’t take care of yourself, then who will? Also, who will help your loved ones if you are not first taking care of yourself so that you can help them? So rest you need to rest, take time to recharge such as reading or taking a walk, and eat healthy to fuel your body to perform its best!
  3. Have a family night:  Spend quality time with your family. Whether you hold a movie night, game night, or simply a family meal together once a week, it is good for the whole family’s wellbeing. It boosts your mood to have bonding experiences where everyone benefits in some way. Not to say that it’s all a puppies and rainbows, as we all know there are difficulties getting along sometimes, but it helps in the long run!
  4. Go play in the snow! If you live where it snows, go out and play in the snow on occasion. Even adults can have fun building snowmen, forts, and hills to climb or slide down. It’s also freeing and exciting to go sledding and make snow angels! So definitely try it sometime!
  5. Snuggle with your pets: A good snuggle with your pets can be therapeutic and lift up your mood by simply having that closeness with them. It makes you feel happier and more positive overall to experience the contact and express your love and care for them. Go love on those furbabies!
  6. Take advantage of sunny or warmer days! Whenever it is sunny or warmer, take advantage of it and get outside! Soak up the sun’s rays for the wonderful, and very necessary, Vitamin D! We lack that vitamin in the winter, especially in a snowy or gloomy climate. So those days when it is sunny or warmer are very important to take advantage of!
  7. Exercise consistently: I know that our motivation to exercise often goes out the window in the colder months, but do whatever you can to keep your motivation high: search Facebook or Pinterest for inspiration, listen to your favorite music that helps pump you up, or remember why it’s important for you to continue exercising even now. Then stick with it!
  8. Cuddle with your kiddos: Just like it’s good for your health to snuggle with your pets, it’s just as beneficial to hug and love on your kids. Plus, it’s good for them too! These little cuddle sessions help remind you both that you’re not alone and that you are loved, and that is a good thing anytime of the year.
  9. Focus on the good: Similar to thinking positive, focusing on the good each day will teach your mind to hone in on those moments, which in turn helps lift your mood. The more you practice, the better you’ll get at it and the easier it will to keep a positive attitude!
  10. Keep moving forward: No matter what else you do, keep moving forward with your goals and interests. It will all add up as time goes by. While it’s sometimes hard to see, you are making progress. It will become visible with time, trust me!

Winter doesn’t have to be a time of low mood and low energy, it can be a time of thriving and positivity. Practice some or all of these tips for the rest of the winter and see how it can change your life and your attitude!

What are your favorite ways to keep a positive attitude in the winter? How often do you take part in them?

 

~Bonnie~