My Story of Weight Gain and Weight Loss

My friend Tish MacWebber invited me to write my weight gain and weight loss story for her amazing blog series called Trust Your Gut, and I of course snatched up the opportunity! I have enjoyed reading her blog and thought it was such a fitting, and lovely idea to write my story out for the series… So, if you would like to hear more about my story and what brought me to be so passionate about healthy living, please hop on over there and read the post!

Some of the highlights of my story…

  • How my battle with my weight started when I was a young kid.
  • What I learned about weight loss in my teens and young adulthood that helped build a stronger foundation.
  • What brought me to help others dealing with weight issues themselves.
  • How my current weight loss journey has been going so far.
  • Where I am at in my weight loss journey right now.

I would love it if you would read it, you might just learn something about me that you didn’t know! Check it out here, along with other articles in the series: Trust Your Gut: Bonnie’s Story.

 

~Bonnie~

What I Love About Beachbody

A little over a month ago, I signed up to be a Beachbody coach, and it was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. It wasn’t one I took lightly and it had to come at just the right time. You see, I had been approached by a Beachbody coach over a year ago, who wanted me to be a part of her team. However, I did not feel connected to her or what she was offering at the time. It was tempting, I wanted to be able to make an income working from home and doing something as awesome as inspiring others to live a healthy life, but it didn’t feel like the right decision for me.

I still believe that, firmly. She was not the coach I needed to sign up with and it was not the right time for me! Plus I wanted to go it on my own and do things my way, and I was just beginning to learn about blogging and making it work for me. That had been a dream of mine for a long time because I’ve always loved to write. Towards the end of last year, I refocused my blog (and here you are!) and was still working on making health coaching work on my own.

Well, what do you know…? I started connecting with a few Beachbody coaches in various capacities. One of them in particular I felt like we were on similar pages and I knew I could trust her, because I already felt comfortable talking to her and resonated with some of her story. I still didn’t want to be a Beachbody coach when I first met her, but I was fascinated by how much she helped other people and the quality she provided. Like I said, I started making friends with other Beachbody coaches and saw how much they were benefiting from their Shakeology and the awesome workouts they were doing, and I just kept feeling pulled into this new world. Being an independent health coach, all on my own, was not going very well.

Honestly, I was struggling with my own healthy living journey because of a bunch of changes in my life since the summer and a lot of upheaval that left my world very unstable. Now that my world had gotten more stable, I was still struggling for various reasons. Healthy living has been an important part of my life for almost three years now, as I will be celebrating my three year anniversary in May, and I had not given up on it, but was having a lot of trouble getting back on track. Before all these changes in my life, I was so strong and motivated in my journey. Then all those changes occurred, and I let things go because it was just too overwhelming to juggle it all at once. These experiences and my struggle is what finally led me to make this wonderful choice to become a Beachbody coach.

Becoming a Beachbody coach was a decision that was made for a number of reasons.

  1. It provided me with the ability to help others with their healthy living goals. As I mentioned above, inspiring others to live a healthy life is something that I find truly amazing and it is one of my biggest passions.
  2. There is this huge supply of workout resources and nutritional supplements that provide a much needed boost! Take for example, the Shakeology shakes are really helping me. As I deal with autoimmune disease, joint problems, and other chronic issues that make me tired and fatigued throughout the day, drinking Shakeology is really making a difference. It is helping me get through my days with less napping and more overall energy!
  3. To help me with my own journey, and get me back on track. It has still been slow progress in the past month with getting my eating back on track especially and learning how to be consistent with my workouts again, but I am finally making the progress that I need… and I know that the container system that came with the 21-day fix package is something that I can use long-term, and is more practical for me than counting calories, which is what I used to do. Now it is about portions, getting in healthier foods instead of just focusing on how many calories the food has, and eating more whole foods.
  4. Being able to continue working from home, doing what I love while helping other people. I already was working from home as a freelance writer, but healthy living is such a huge part of my life and has been for a few years, that it really needed to be a part of my career as well.

Do you feel you have something to offer other people striving to live a healthy life?

 

~Bonnie~

How to Strive for Everyday Self-Awareness

I am pleased to announce that Prince Akwarandu from Ewritepreneur is sharing his expertise on personal development, specifically how to strive for everyday self-awareness.

Can you imagine a photographer shooting pictures without taking the time to focus? What deer hunter would stand on top of a hill and shoot randomly at the valley without taking aim at something? Our personal lifestyle resonates in same direction. If we don’t exercise the urge to succeed and move far from poverty we may not be successful.

While I was writing my first ever published book I had an encounter with ‘laziness syndrome’ which I almost fell off the chain for. At a point I stopped meeting up my writing goals and breaking the nuts I had set out myself to allow me write well and fast. The burden got heavy on me and then I recognized I will pose to my readers as an irresponsible writer if I refuse to deliver and at the right time.

Why I tell the story above? I will like to push you toward the real reason why you should be aware anytime, any day not minding the circumstance involved to stand for yourself and your dear future. Your future should be very dear to you because whatever you can’t deal with now will come after your future and it will defeat your ignorance and refusal to act when due. By then you will be doomed of failure running up, down, right and left with no definite solute. If you take the right steps, the urge to be self-aware will live presently in your moment of existence.

Allow me hold you by the hand and let you into the world of self-awareness.

In the world of self-awareness we have no room for excuse. So, get ready for none.

Do You Need To Develop Self Awareness?

How well do you know yourself? How deep is your understanding about your emotions?

It is no lie that as you develop self-awareness you may be able to make certain changes in your mind. It comes naturally to us as humans so I won’t blame you for any mess. One thing is sure here – If you can be able to change the interpretations of different issues to a positive one in your mindset you can influence your emotion. Answering to this great call will help you to get what you want and need to step up your game. Success is more than the money you invest in different businesses expecting double or triple returns as profits.

Here is the reason: If your emotions cannot capture money your hands won’t touch it.

Below I share with us the four basic factors responsible for our everyday drive toward being self-aware.

1. Breaking Limitation Pattern

No matter the challenges you are facing now, self-awareness remains the first step in creating a ‘debut single’ of your life. Limiting patterns has been the organic factor denying young people of their beautiful destinies. The word Limitation is a critical word which from study I could say was conjured up from the two great perspectives rising from ‘limit’ down to ‘action’. Self-awareness can be an expression of one’s feeling concerning a particular matter in a particular way to achieve an aim or series of it. For your self-awareness to last and allow you achieve your purpose in life, you must be cognizance of self-limiting patterns. This kind of pattern is one which stands to deter your day-to- day decisions about the events that take place in your life. Don’t allow it instead stay steady and strong.

2. Shopping Lives’ Happiness

Self-awareness is a guide to everyone’s happiness in life. This allows you be in control of how the mind affects your happiness. The gifting of self-awareness can’t be over emphasized because of its ability to allow you perceive other people, to know people’s thoughts about you – your attitudes and how they perceive you. This carefully explains how we may respond to people’s actions as we break the limiting patterns that try to confide us. If you forfeit the moment of your emotions and behavior you may have a big problem in positioning yourself for maximum success. With the practice to shop lives’ happiness we can learn to engage and see new opportunities to expand our capacities.

3. Practicing Focus While Living

When we talk about focus, it isn’t learnt only when you read a book and feel like a super hero. No, it is far from that. When you read a book, you focus mostly on the ideas embedded in that very book. The development of self-awareness is gotten through practices in directing your actions and beliefs to how it affects your personal lifestyle. Think of learning as a situation where you are to train your voice as a singer. When learning to sing you pay attention to tones and pitches to know when you should stretch your voice a little bit higher and lower as the case may be. You think of how to move your tongues and lips to meet the right bit in the right time frame. Singing isn’t leaned from books and self-awareness isn’t either. A singer needs awareness on their tongue movements and good body relaxation to meet up the needed standard.

4. Rule Over Your Emotions

Emotion takes a larger share to what contributes to our awareness. Without including the word ‘emotion’ explaining self-awareness will remain incomplete. Emotions are the very first vital ingredient that triggers and builds up our thoughts. Our reaction toward a particular action is displayed depending on the level of emotions we exist in at that particular time. If you can control the tea spoon and give it option of when to enter your mouth or no, you can rule over your emotions. This is to say, making changes in your life is much easier to do when you catch them early. If you’ve persevered to read up till here, probably you have understood the power of self-image and how we can make good decisions.

Wrapping it up

The key to greater confidence and assertiveness in your life is self-awareness. You can stop reacting to events and emotions and learn to choose your response to any situation. You can stop reacting to events and emotions and learn to choose your response to any situation. For this reason, spend some time recognizing areas you need to develop and intentionally making an effort to develop or strengthen that aspect of yourself.

Author Bio: Prince Akwarandu is a Content Creator and Brand Story Teller at Ewritepreneur. He help purpose driven writers grow their writing talent without compromising their price, purpose and promise. He believes in personal development, Nation Building, regional collaboration and global participation.

You can connect to him on: Twitter | LinkedIn | Google+

 

Dealing with Depression and Anxiety at the Same Time

Disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate links.

For those of us who deal with both depression and anxiety on a daily basis, it can be hard for us but even harder to describe it to other people. These two things often feed off of each other, or one contributes to the other, but they are also total opposites. I know that I personally feel conflicted, or even frozen with overwhelm on an almost daily basis. It is hard to take action or make decisions when your mind is at war with itself. On the one hand, depression makes me feel sad, unmotivated, uninspired, and hopeless. On the other, anxiety makes me feel scared, overwhelmed, stressed, and frantic or panicky. Both depression and anxiety are things that I have dealt with most of my life, at least since I was a teenager when I first noticed them. It wasn’t until much later that I realized what they meant. To learn more about my story of learning what depression and anxiety mean to me, you can read my previous post on the subject: What Depression and Anxiety Mean to Me.

If you deal with either, or both, please check out Depression Proof, a course full of information and steps that you can take to minimize or overcome your depression. Ironically, even though they can be complete opposites, some of the things we do to treat our depression can work for our anxiety as well. Part of that is because they feed off of each other, like I mentioned above, but it’s also because both are mental issues that we deal with.

We worry about not living up to our own dreams.

Oftentimes, we are so overwhelmed and stressed out that we worry if we’ll ever be able to go after our own dreams and achieve a life we have so desperately wanted for as long as we can remember. We are so frozen in place, working to feel some kind of hope, motivation, and calmness that will allow us to do something productive with our lives. I spent many years in this endless cycle, just keeping to myself and not trying, because everything else was just too hard.

We worry about looking lazy to other people, while a battle rages on in our minds.

We see it, that others think we are lazy, unmotivated, and choosing to live like we do. However, they can’t possibly see the battle that is raging in our minds. Our depression and anxiety is silent, invisible from the outside. No one can understand what we go through in our own minds. Even those of us who are inflicted with both depression and anxiety don’t fully understand what one another go through. I know that I personally feel so stressed sometimes that I’m frozen in place by my own feelings of overwhelm, unable to break through that barrier and actually do what I need to do.

We worry about not being able to control our own actions.

Sometimes we can’t control our own actions. You might be wondering how that is even possible because if anyone has control over our own actions, it’s us. Right? Well, when we deal with depression and anxiety, we don’t have full control over our own actions. An anxiety attack can happen at any moment, and no matter how small that attack is, we might flail around or look like a deer caught in the headlights because we simply can’t function. Bigger anxiety attacks reduce our control even more. Fortunately, I’ve only dealt with anxiety attacks a few times. However, sometimes even when I am just feeling super anxious, I do not feel as if I have full control over my actions. I may make involuntary movements or say things I wouldn’t have otherwise, or I may yell when I normally don’t like to yell.

We feel too much, yet nothing at all, at the same time.

With anxiety, we feel way too much at once. We get overwhelmed and overstimulated. On the flip side, with depression, we don’t feel enough or anything at all. We are sunk into a pit of despair and hopelessness that we don’t know how to get out of. I have tactics that help me get out of my depression, but if I don’t notice how fast I’m slipping or how far I’ve slipped into depression, it is that much harder to work my way out of it. I liken the experience to digging myself out of quicksand. Each step in the right direction could be taken away by one misstep, and send me deeper into the pit, causing me to start all over again. Same with anxiety, I have ways to deal with it, to help me feel less anxious in some situations. However, both depression and anxiety can appear out of nowhere or become a problem without me realizing that they have appeared until it’s too late.

We may view sleeping as the only escape we have, if we can even sleep.

Sleep is the greatest escape we have, but sometimes we suffer from insomnia when we are dealing with depression or anxiety, or both. Then even if we do fall asleep, we may suffer from bad dreams or nightmares. When I’m feeling anxious, I deal most with having trouble falling asleep, having bad dreams, and just simply being very restless. Sleep should be restful and invigorating, but instead it can be a means of escape or a torturous experience, depending on the person and their experiences.

This is only a glimpse into what it is like to deal with both depression and anxiety. The point is these issues hit us all differently. Those who don’t battle with both depression and anxiety may never understand what we go through. That’s okay, but we can spread awareness and hope that more people begin to understand what these issues do to us and screw with our life.

If someone you know suffers from depression and anxiety, please let them know that they are not alone and that there is always help and hope for them! If you are the one who suffers from depression and anxiety, I want you to know this too. There are so many of us that deal with one or the other, or both. Please remember that you are not alone and there are always options to find help and improve.

Depression Proof is one of the best resources that you can have to help you with your depression, and maybe even your anxiety, because it will walk you through what you need to know and do to help yourself. You will learn more about what depression is, in general as well as what it means for you. You will learn ways to deal with your depression and how to put them into practice. It is important to take a peek at the course because you don’t have to suffer in silence!

 

 

 

 

~Bonnie~

 

How to Create a Life You Enjoy Living

This is my life… my story… my book. I will no longer let anyone else write it; nor will I apologize for the edits I make.

-Steve Maraboli

What is life if not worth living?

The truth is, you really can change your life to one that you enjoy living… at least most of the time. No one’s life is perfect but we all have the power to make our lives better.

A lot of this power of change might very well include shifting your mental energy to better things and/or things you can actually change. So fair warning: this isn’t some magical or easy answer to live your dream life. After all, if it were, I would have been doing so in my own life for a while now.

Owning our story and loving ourselves through that process is the bravest thing that we’ll ever do.

-Brene Brown

The good news is that you can OWN your life and shape it to be something you actually enjoy living. Here I will share with you some things that I have personally learned in my pursuit to a better life for myself:

First of all, remember that you are worth this and you deserve a life you can enjoy living.

You are worth living a life you find satisfying and rewarding. It will take quite a bit of work, and a lot of mentality changes, but it is so very possible.

Realize that your idea of a life that’s satisfying and rewarding may be quite different than others’ idea of that life.

This is your life. It isn’t up to them how you live it. Don’t let others’ opinions poison your mind and make you doubt your abilities. You are powerful and a force to be reckoned with. You have so many more options open to you than you can even see right now. Open your mind to them. If other people don’t like it, then they can just deal with it or move on.

Think about what you really want out of life, either long-term or short-term, or even both.

What do you want your life to look like? What do you want your future to hold? Consider what your biggest dreams are right now. Don’t limit yourself to what you feel is possible for you right now. Like I mentioned above, there are so many more options available to you than you can see right now and you never know what you can accomplish until you set out to do it!

Weigh the pros and cons to your decisions. Can you really imagine living your life if you follow through with that decision?

Considering the good and the bad that could result from each decision you make. Is that decision really worth making when you consider the negatives that may come from it? Sometimes the positives actually outweigh the negatives or the sacrifice is worth what you get in return. Thinking in these terms for bigger decisions, and sometimes even smaller ones, can really make a difference. At the very least, it makes you think twice before taking a plunge.

Make goals that are actually reachable and allow you time to pursue them, and then craft a plan to meet the goal(s).

I wasn’t lying when I mentioned that you shouldn’t only consider possible for yourself. However, in order to pursue your goals, they still need to be realistic for you and your circumstances. You can make plans to make some goals fit into your life, while others may be a dream to hold off for another time. Think of the resources you have at your disposal right now or that you could possibly use. Wherever there’s a will, there’s a way!

Take action because none of this means much if you don’t actually take any action to achieve it.

Make plans and prepare, but also take action. All the preparation in the world will mean nothing if you don’t move forward with those plans. You may have to start before you’re ready and that’s okay. Some of it will have to be figured out as you go along because you can’t possibly see the whole path all at once.

Scale back on the negatives… Cut anything out of your life that sucks energy away from you or makes you miserable.

There is no space in your life for the negatives. Those people, tasks, or things in your life that suck energy away from you and leave you depleted… whatever you can let go of, do it! It’s not worth holding onto those things if they are keeping you from the life you want (and sometimes need) to live. Some of these things will be okay without you and some of them may not. However, your wellbeing is more important than most of them if you truly consider it. I’m not saying chuck important things from your life, by any means, but dispose of anything that you can that causes you misery.

Grow the positives- focus on any and all positives.

Along the same lines as the point above, focus on any and all positives and elaborate on them. Make those positives the center of your life and your life will begin to take shape around them as if they are the most important thing. It takes time but it certainly helps!

I wish to live a life that causes my soul to dance inside my body.

-Dele Olanubi

So I ask you, what do you really want from your life? Do you think it’s possible?

~Bonnie~

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~

Interview with Exercise and Nutrition Coach Esther Avant

Today I am sharing an interview I had the honor of holding with Esther Avant, an exercise and nutrition coach at estheravant.com. She has a lovely website, and I highly recommend you checking it out and seeing what she has to offer there and reading some of her blogs! I really enjoyed our conversation the other day and learning more about what brought her to do this line of work. We all have our own unique stories and yet we still have a lot in common!

I would love for you to check out her social media pages here: Facebook | Instagram

Inspire the Best You: What is your job as an exercise and nutrition coach?

Esther: I work with women to help them lose weight, revamp their lifestyle and overall live happier and healthier lives. I use a client-centered approach where we prioritize making one change at a time and expanding upon it once it starts to feel like a habit.

ITBY: What do you find most rewarding in your work?

Esther: The most rewarding thing in my work is when a client tells me I’ve made an impact in her life. When someone sends me a text or email, or call me, to let me know that they’ve had a mental breakthrough or that they had more confidence to do this because of me. Their progress is the most rewarding thing as a coach.

ITBY: Why did you decide to become a coach?

Esther: I majored in exercise science in college and part of my college curriculum was becoming certified as a personal trainer. I got my first full-time personal training position right out of college and while working there, I realized that exercise wasn’t the issue for most people but how little they knew about good nutrition, so I expanded into that arena, as well.

ITBY: How do you help your clients with their goals and healthy living? I realize you already touched on this question earlier, but I would love to hear more!

Esther: We take a habit-based approach, and I like to help them simplify their efforts. There is just so much information out there that we become paralyzed by it and end up doing nothing. There really is no best way to go about it. My primary focus is to simplify and take action, to assess where they’re starting and prioritize what steps to take. Do you know what foods contain protein, why it’s important, and are you getting enough protein? Are you eating enough vegetables? Then we expand on those steps as they get the hang of it.

ITBY: What do you feel is your biggest struggle in your own healthy living journey?

Esther: When I started college, I was in the best shape of my life. I was very active and thin and able to eat whatever and whenever I wanted. However, during freshman year in college, I was thrown way off course; I had this super challenging curriculum and I felt like I was studying nonstop. The result was that I wasn’t making time to workout and wasn’t eating well, and ended up gaining a lot of weight without realizing it. When I got home that summer, I kind of realized what had happened. I felt hypocritical since I was majoring in exercise science, so I spent that first summer eating in a way that made me feel good and finding the time for exercise. I had to figure out how to prioritize it and make it work when I went back to school. It was a transitionary period where I realize that it was important to prioritize my health and having gone through that allows me to empathize with my clients more now.

ITBY: What is the biggest piece of advice you can pass along to those reading this?

Esther: It’s never too late to make a change. You deserve to make time for yourselves. Start with one small thing at a time.

 

Don’t forget to check her out on her social media sites: Facebook | Instagram

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~