On the Road to Mental Health

Finding Faith in the Universe

“If you choose not to believe in something bigger than yourself, you will never be successful.”

When my coach told me this, I felt absolutely shaken to my core. It’s difficult to explain why I felt that way. I spent most of my life believing in something I later realized didn’t resonate with me. Afterwards, I felt confused and lost…so I chose to believe in nothing.

The mentality of “everything happens for a reason” and the idea of something, or someone, controlling my fate made my eyes roll. I scoffed at everything faith-related, only choosing to view it in a cynical lighting. I felt adamant about my lack of faith…but somehow, I still felt lost.

The more self-help books I started to read, the more I began to read about Universal Intelligence. It seemed every single book I read discussed something about faith, believing, affirmations/prayer, the Universe, meditation, etc. As much as I wanted to believe that was a coincidence, I slowly decided over time that, well, to put it frank, I needed to open my damn mind.

Now, don’t get me wrong. If you’re reading this and currently in a similar mindset, it’s okay! It is much easier said than done and takes time. But I came to a point where I got so tired of feeling lost, confused, negative, frustrated, broke, unfulfilled…I knew I needed to try SOMETHING.

Personally, the most eye-opening chapter I’ve read about Universal Intelligence was “The G Word” in Jen Sincero’s “You are a Badass.” Sincero discusses thinking of the big man in the sky more as energy, frequency, vibration, etc. She refers to the Universe as “Source Energy” and encourages readers to call it by what they feel comfortable with (God, the Universe, the Motherlode, and so on). Here’s a gamechanger quote from Sincero:

  • “The Universe is made up of Source Energy.
  • All energy vibrates at a certain frequency, which means you’re vibrating at a certain frequency, and everything you desire, and don’t desire, is also vibrating at a certain frequency.
  • Vibration attracts vibration

Focus on that which makes you feel good and ye shall find (attract) that which makes you feel good.”

So I started on my journey to finding faith. I had no idea where I was going or what I was doing at first, but I knew I needed to just try. I reread “the G word” chapter multiple times, I continued to research, and I started my practice of believing. At times I felt crazy, other times I felt like I was bullshitting myself…but I continued to repeat to myself “fake it till you make it, girl.”

I practiced raising my frequency by meditating, reciting affirmations, expressing gratitude, giving more, and believing in not only myself but also the Universe. And the more I practiced, the more I really started to shift my mindset and truly BELIEVE.

The more I believed, the better I started to feel. I wasn’t perfect with my practice, but I put in effort every single day in raising my vibrations/vibes/frequency. Let me tell you guys…it has opened a whole new world. I went from feeling like a victim to my circumstances, constantly asking “Why is this happening to me?” to affirming (and truly believing over time) “The Universe has my back and is working for me. This is happening FOR me, even if I can’t see it right now.”

I’ve been on this faith journey for almost a year now. Some days it feels easy, natural, exciting. Other days I need to remind myself that I’m being tested. But the most important part of this journey is to stay patient and never give up. Because life has become so much more positive, liberating, and purposeful now that I feel connected to the Universe.

Thank you, Universe. I see you.

Overcoming Negative Body Image Days

I have days when I feel great about myself. I throw on my favorite outfit, take a few cute pictures, and thrive off my current state of confidence. Then there’s days when I feel the complete opposite. I try on twenty different outfits, spend hours criticizing my body, and convince myself to cancel my plans for the day.

I used to let these days consume me. I often pressed the pause button on my life because I convinced myself that my body image defined me. While I still have negative body image days, I’ve learned how to embrace them rather than hide from them. It sounds much easier said than done, but I promise…practice makes perfect. Here are my best tips for coping with negative body image days:

 

TAKE A WALK

Take a break from trying on different outfits and go outside. Breathe in the fresh air, listen to your music, take a friend/partner with you, and get those endorphins going. Often taking a walk completely clears my mind and helps me start fresh, regardless of the project I’m working on. It also makes me feel like I’ve accomplished something, even if it was small.

If walking isn’t your thing, get your endorphins going in another way! Run, lift weights, stretch, bike, swim, dance, etc. Just remember – you’re not doing this as a punishment to your body for the way it looks. You’re doing this to clear your mind, lift your spirits, and feel like the badass you already are.

 

SHOWER

You may not need one – take one anyway. Imagine cleansing yourself of all that negativity circulating in your mind. Take deep breaths, allowing the steam to open up your sinus passages. Take deeper breaths. Don’t underestimate how much self-care you need right now. Use your favorite smelling soap, crack open that new bath bomb, soak yourself in Epsom salt. Treat your body with care and your mind will follow.

 

WATCH SOMETHING THAT MAKES YOU LAUGH

My husband is an expert at finding the most ridiculous, hilarious content from Reddit. I’ve requested content from him so many times that we created a YouTube playlist for negative body image days. Yes – a playlist of bizarre, brainless entertainment that makes me laugh for absolutely no reason at all. After a good laugh, my mood is lifted, and my mind feels a million times lighter. If you’re struggling to find something funny, reach out to a friend who has the same sense of humor as you.

GO FACE YOUR FEAR

I’ve convinced myself countless times to cancel plans and stay in because of how strongly I feel about my body image – “there’s no way I can go out like this. I’m a mess and feel like garbage physically and mentally. I’ll just cancel, put on a sweatshirt, and cry myself to sleep.” But what if I didn’t cancel? What if I went out anyway, despite the fact that I’m scared, self-conscious, and feeling unworthy? What if I’m missing out on the most amazing night of my life because I’ve convinced myself I’m not enough?

So my best advice for you, the advice that I avoided for so long… go out anyway. Face that fear. Because every single time I’ve pushed through that pain and faced that fear, it’s ended in nothing but positivity and a great time. Go out with friends who know your struggles and are there to support you. Don’t miss out on any more of life’s precious moments.

 

PRACTICE AFFIRMATIONS

Affirmations have been a game changer for me. Affirmations are simply giving yourself the emotional support and encouragement that you deserve. It’s so important that you practice affirmations on your bad days, too. My favorites for negative body image days are:

  • I am passionate and outrageously enthusiastic.
  • I am healthy and strong.
  • I am patient and trusting with my body.
  • I believe in myself and capabilities.
  • I am powerful and create the life I want (and deserve).
  • I am optimistic and believe things will always work out for the best.
  • I treat my body how I treat others – with kindness and respect.
  • I am focused and determined. I never give up.
  • I am unique and love being myself.
  • I. AM. ENOUGH

CRY IT OUT

Have you ever had one of those days where you constantly feel on edge? It’s been hours and you still feel like you’re on edge of a breakdown? Let it out. Break down. Cry. Sometimes it’s healthy (and necessary) to release ourselves from that tight reign we hold on our emotions. It’s okay to feel frustrated, lost, scared, depressed, hopeless, etc. But don’t allow yourself to be swallowed by those emotions and sulk in them. Feel those emotions, cry it out, give yourself a big hug, and let it go. You’re a masterpiece and the world needs to see more of you.

How to Stay Hydrated

If I’m being honest, I don’t often have trouble staying hydrated. I love water (and also get bad headaches when I’m dehydrated). But my clients frequently ask for tips on how to stay hydrated during the day, especially during busy days. If you struggle with this, you’re not alone – and just a couple small adjustments to your day could make a dramatic difference in your water intake!

 

START YOUR MORNING STRONG

When I was learning how to recover from disordered eating, my therapist gifted me with advice that I still put into practice every single day. She said “Start your morning strong. Every damn day. It sets the tone for the entire day.” The first thing she recommended is to drink a full glass of water first thing in the morning. While we sleep, our body goes through a “fasting” period and needs nourishment when we wake up. One of the best ways to re-energize and start the day off right is to chug a full glass of water in the beginning of the day. That’s one glass down!

 

BUY A HUGE WATER BOTTLE

No, this doesn’t mean you have to carry around a gallon jug (although if that motivates you, by all means!) But having a water bottle that is bigger allows us to break down the water intake a little at a time. Mark on your water bottle how much water you would like to drink and by what time each day. For example, if you want to finish half of your water bottle by 10am, draw a line halfway down your water bottle and mark it “10am.” Breaking down the water intake into small goals makes the goals feel more attainable – and if you buy a water bottle that is half a gallon, you only need to drink two of those to reach your daily intake!

water

MAKE IT A HABIT

Just like anything in fitness, results take time, patience, and consistency. Building this habit won’t happen overnight and won’t necessarily be a perfect process. But the more your body gets used to hydration, the more it will crave it. To help build this habit more, I scheduled drinking water into my daily routine, making it a “non-negotiable meeting” with myself. I always made sure to show up for myself, and that pushed me to do a little better every day.

HOLD YOURSELF ACCOUNTABLE

It’s 2019, folks. There is an app for about EVERYTHING! (It’s actually come to the point where I’m shocked when there isn’t an app that suits my needs. Millennial mindset?) Anyway, there are now several free apps downloadable for smart phones to help keep you accountable for your water intake. My sister downloaded one called “plant nanny.” Every time you drink water, you track it in your app and water your plant. If you fail to drink water for long periods of time, your plant could die! Silly…but it actually worked for her!

Other benefits to drinking more water include clearer skin, better digestion, helps muscle soreness, and boosts metabolism and energy levels.

How I Cleared My Skin

Clearing my skin (specifically my acne) has been one of my biggest struggles. After visiting two different dermatologists, testing multiple prescription medications, and attempting every face wash on the market, I felt completely defeated. One day I felt so fed up, I started researching all-natural remedies, made a list, and began my trial and error process. I learned a lot not only about my skin health, but also about my overall health.

While there was no magic pill or superfood that cleared my skin, I found one very important aspect in healing my skin: fixing my “leaky gut syndrome” (or rather, relieving it). After reading several articles, I essentially learned that leaky gut syndrome is when there is a lot of inflammation in the stomach due to having more “bad” bacteria in the stomach than good (at least, that’s what I took from the articles I read.) Taking care of my stomach health was ESSENTIAL to healing my skin! Here’s how I did that:

 

REDUCING OR ELIMINATING DAIRY

I originally eliminated dairy due to finding out I am lactose intolerant! I didn’t eliminate it overnight either – I slowly eliminated it day by day. But deciding to eliminate dairy was one of the best decisions I ever made. The hormones in dairy can cause extra inflammation in the body, and for me, there seemed to be a lot of inflammation in my stomach and in my sinuses. For years I had chronic sinus infections and sinus headaches – once I stopped eating dairy, I stopped having sinus issues!

 

ADDING PROBIOTICS

Probiotics are so important for stomach health. Probiotics are the healthy bacteria that your gut needs to stay healthy. I personally use Paradise Earth’s Blend Daily Superfood Vitamin because it is an all-natural vitamin containing superfoods, probiotics, and iron. I also drink Synergy Trilogy kombucha once a day for extra probiotics, lemon juice benefits, and because it has fresh pressed ginger juice in it (another inflammation reducer)!

 

L-GLUTAMINE

Once I started really researching leaky gut syndrome, I found the most common alleviator to be l-glutamine. Glutamine can help with the immune system, inflammation in the gut, and gut function. When purchasing this product on amazon, I found several reviews of people talking about how l-glutamine has helped with their IBS, gluten and dairy sensitivities, and especially their skin. When taking this consistently, I also noticed I can eat dairy without feeling like my stomach is going to explode (although I still break out and feel the after effects in my sinuses).

 

OMEGA 3S

Fish oil pills are a fantastic way to get omega 3s, but I never wanted to take them due to the fishy after-burps. My friend, Katie, works for Plexus and introduced me to Omega 3s that contain superfoods in them rather than fish oil. I noticed the more superfoods, vegetables, nutrients in general I eat, the better I feel and the better my skin looks!

 

TEA TREE VEGETABLE SOAP BAR

This is the only part of my skin care I changed for the surface of my skin. I switched from Clean and Clear products, which often dried out my skin, to a tea tree vegetable soap bar from Trader Joe’s. Not only is it much cheaper, I noticed the all-natural soap bar is much better for my skin than any other product I’ve utilized.

 

SHOWER FILTER

While this one was not one of the most important ones to clearing up my skin, I noticed buying a shower filter did help my hair and skin health. I am currently on well water, which means there are extra minerals in the water. I bought a shower filter on Amazon for around $25 to help filter the water. Plus, the filter lasts 8-12 months!

 

Here are the products I used to help my stomach health/skin. I hope this was helpful!

3 Ways to Get Back on Track

We’ve all been there. We go on a cruise where we eat everything in sight, we get stressed out in the middle of the semester and fall off the wagon…maybe it’s for a few days, maybe it’s for a few months. It’s life! Life gets in the way sometimes. But we can all get back on track towards our goals with time. Here are three ways to get back on track:

START SLOW

Last time you went to the gym, maybe you were going 5-6 times a week. When you step inside the gym again, you’re going to want to pick up that the weight you were using before. Or run the same distance you did last time. But that’s going to be extremely discouraging. You may not be able to lift as heavy as before or run the same distance/time you ran before. But that’s okay. 

After a break, no matter how long the break was, you should be proud of yourself for hitting the gym again. Using a lighter weight or running a shorter distance doesn’t mean you’re a failure…it means your human. We all have our ups and downs, and sometimes we need to acknowledge the downs. So, start slow. The week you come back, try to get to the gym 2-3 days during the week instead of the usual 5-6. You can always build it back up to 5-6 days later when you get back into the routine. Being overwhelmed will only make you feel overwhelmed and not motivated. Which brings me to my next point!

progress

STAY MOTIVATED

Sometimes to reach your goals you’ll have to wake up earlier, plan ahead, and overall use more energy and time. Some days you will feel more motivated than others to jump out of bed to hit the gym or meal prep the night before. Everyone has their good days and their bad days. But the most important thing you can do for yourself is not give up. Motivation isn’t always there, but your goals are. And they will not be reached if you spend every unmotivated day in bed. Use your goals as motivation.

Post motivational quotes around your room. Find a picture that describes your goal. Make a plan. If you need to, give yourself some tough love. If you need to, give yourself a hug. And go get it done! You will not regret giving it your best shot. But you will regret not trying.

quote

KEEP YOURSELF ACCOUNTABLE

Finally, keep yourself accountable with your goals. When you are on your own journey, it is easier to fall of the wagon because only YOU know your goals and limits. But what if someone else knew about them? Would you be as likely to give up?

Find a gym buddy who has similar goals to you. Hire a coach and/or personal trainer that will be waiting for you at certain check-ins. Tell your roommate or significant other about your goals so they know you’re making some adjustments into a healthy lifestyle. Join a DietBet. When in doubt, tell social media! Many have found themselves accountability in posting consistently on Facebook or Instagram about their day to day experiences in chasing after their goals. Find what works for you!

motivation

Falling into Place: The Importance of Self-Love

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These pictures are about two years apart. Same amazing man I’m holding hands with that I’ve been with for almost four years now, and about 40 pounds down in the right picture. The right picture was the first time I had ever felt confident enough to wear a bikini in public.

Ladies, do NOT go on a fitness journey only for the intention of trying to find a special someone. The special someone you meet will love you for what’s on the inside and think you’re beautiful at any size. Steven called me beautiful every day whether I was 140 pounds or close to 200. There is a guy out there that will do the same exact thing for you, too.

When you’re on a journey to become healthier, do it for you. Do it to make yourself feel confident, to have better health (or get rid of some health issues), to learn to love yourself more, to meet those goals you’ve always wanted to reach, and to have your outside match your inside. Learn to LOVE YOURSELF and the rest will fall into place. It’s not at all selfish to love yourself. It’s necessary. <3

Self-love

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Life is way too short to constantly be looking down on yourself. Find ways to make you feel confident, strong, and overall happy. Buy clothes that make you feel good. Workout in the morning start your day off right and give you energy. Look in the mirror and smile. List some things you love about yourself. Find little ways to make yourself feel more confident. It’s not selfish to love yourself. It’s necessary and mentally healthy. These little things that you change will create an entirely new outlook on yourself and life in general. So figure out the sources of negativity in your life, let them go, and be proud and content with what your body and mind are capable of doing. 🙂