Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Body positive fitness for your new year goals


I have a little secret for you. This is the time of year when gyms, health clubs, and personal trainers make the most bank. Perhaps that part isnt really a secret. But the secret is the fact that they do so by playing on what you hate about yourself. I know it sounds awful but its true. Sure, fitness programs might be initially packaged as health and self-care. But eventually trainers show their hand when they reference flat abs, burning fat, and building your booty. It works for marketing, but is it good for mental health? Couldnt there be a better way to get active and learn to love yourself?

Why yes. Im so glad you asked. Its called body positive fitness. The basic premise of body positive fitness is to practice a non-judgmental, self-compassionate stance towards your body. Its about celebrating how it moves and performs, not merely what it looks like. Its about challenging the checking, shaming, and comparing that can happen during workouts. Its about learning the functional reasons for strengthening your body that have zero to do with flat abs, juicy butts, or tone arms. 

For instance, did you know a strong core is essential for balance and stability? What about strong glutes and legs? Did you know the lower body is the power house of your body and helps you walk, run, and propel forward? And we cant forget the upper body. Its essential for tasks of daily living such as reaching, pushing, pulling, and lifting. So, there are dozens of reasons to grow in strength that have nothing to do with changing who you are or what you look like.

If you are looking for an affirmative exercise experience, one that truly inspires your fitness journey for the long haul, try body positive fitness. How revolutionary would it be if you moved for the joy of movement instead of the need to change or be different? It seems to me that a body positive approach to wellness would have more staying power than just a trend, fad, or desire to change. Dont you think?

If you are interested in body positive personal training and movement for mental health, contact me at gambrellwellness@gmail.com. Id love to help you reach your health, fitness, and wellness goals.

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Do you want to be well?


It comes down to this question. It doesnt matter how serious the issue. It doesnt matter how long youve suffered with it. It doesnt matter how many false starts or failed attempts youve had at addressing it. It doesnt matter whos supporting you or actively plotting against you. All wellness questions of life come down to this: Do you want to be well?

I admit, its a challenging question. Its confrontational and often upsets people and makes them defensive. Thats why I want to make crystal clear that Im not the first person to ask it. Jesus did. In context, he posed it to a man who had been disabled almost 40 years. John 5:6 tells us, When Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in his condition for a long time, he asked him, Do you want to be well? Shouldnt the answer have been obvious? You see me at the healing pool? You see my condition? Would you want to be sick?

Yet, it is a fair question. There is no better BS detector than the Lord Jesus. He has a knack for getting straight to the heart of the matter. The reality is that some (read some, not all) deal with chronic issues because they dont really want to be well. They get sympathy for the sick role. They feel vindicated in their victimhood. They feel absolved from really showing up and trying in life because of whatever label or diagnosis theyve fused their identity with. I know, I know. Its a tough pill to swallow. But this dose of truth might be what finally heals you and set you free.

So, here we are kicking off the new year and I'm just as personally challenged as you are to consider this question. Whether its physical, emotional, or spiritual health you seek, the heart question that precedes it all is this: Do you want to be well?

If you could benefit from an honest personal inventory about where you are and your readiness for change, order your copy of Vitals Check Workbook. E-books available for immediate download.

http://gambrellwellness.bigcartel.com/

 


Thursday, December 28, 2017

What 2017 Taught me about authentic living


It’s that time again. It’s time to wrap up this last week of the year with a reflection post. As I reflect on the last twelve months, here are several lessons that come to mind in no particular order.

Shooting your shot doesnt always work out

“Shoot your shot,” they say. “It’ll be great,” they say. Not necessarily. If you’re unfamiliar with the term, it basically means laying down your pride and taking matters into your own hands. It’s usually reserved for pursuing someone you are interested in. Well, I did that. I shared some feelings with a friend that I had been holding in for a while and was met with absolutely nothing. No response. Like not even crickets. Radio silence. So, you know, that was awesome. We’ve spoken a few times since then, but it’s not the same. It’s cool though. My take home from it all is to be brave and take a risk rather than to seek any particular outcome. The outcome isn’t guaranteed. Who cares if the normally poised me exposed her awkward inner 6th grader with a botched free throw attempt? Emoji shrug. You win some, you lose some.

Sickness isn’t how you want to get abs

More on losing some, I’ve mentioned more than once that this year I got the sickest I’d ever been. What started as a stomach bug from a taco-themed fast food restaurant, turned into months of digestive upheaval. I unintentionally lost about 20 pounds from the whole ordeal. So, while people have been very complimentary of the weight loss, I only associate it with nausea and misery. I would’ve much preferred to have a bit more body fat and be well, then to be thin but feel sick every day for months. Thankfully, God is restoring my health and things could’ve been much worse. But that was definitely an all-consuming experience- an experience that made me do a major overhaul in the self-care department.

Self-care really is survival

During the summer and fall of sickness, I was forced to make serious self-care changes. I returned to therapy for myself to deal with all the anxiety that emerged from the medical issues. I did a complete nutritional overhaul to aid my healing. I took time off work for appointments and on the days I felt bad. I figured clients would just assume I not get ill in front of them. I mean, yes, there was definitely physical stuff going on. But I also knew stress was worsening things. I had been burned out for years, but it was not until my body starting breaking down that I got serious about change. That’s why I decided to reduce my counseling hours and quit teaching fitness all together. No more setting myself on fire to keep others warm. No more promoting health and wellness in others and neglecting my own. Basically, I’m living by MJ’s Man in the Mirror lyrics: “If you want to make the world a better place, you better look at yourself and make that change.”

Make space for what you want
And in the vein of change, I think the best part of this year has been really clarifying what I want. The past few years definitely led to my burnout because I was trying to do everything. But now that I’ve committed to my health and happiness, my vision is crystal clear. Teaching fitness was fun for a while, but it was never my purpose. I’m a gifted counselor, but that doesn’t mean I’m supposed to serve everyone in need. I can do a handful of things well, but that does not mean I need to pursue all of them in this particular season. I know now that to really operate in my unique flow, I need to live authentically.

I guess that’s how I’d wrap up 2017 in a nutshell- learning to live authentically. Authentic living has been an exciting pursuit. It’s not a perfect life, by any means. As you read earlier, it can come with flops and embarrassment at times. It can also come with uncomfortable indications when you aren’t living authentically. But when you surrender to it, when you fully commit to radical genuineness, emotional honesty, and vulnerability, when you decide to switch directions when things don’t work for you, and forge new paths when existing ones just won’t do…that, my friend, is when life gets interesting. So, cheers 2017. It’s been awkward and amazing and painful and purposeful all in one. I thank you for it all because you've brought me closer to the real me. 


Thursday, November 30, 2017

Throwback to normal lives, limited access, and no DMs


I seem to reach this point every few months. I get fed up with social media and want to unplug- at least from the platforms where I’m overstimulated. I can always tell it’s time when I feel one of two ways: 1) Annoyed because everyone seems to excessively post the same thing or 2) Inferior because I feel like I don’t have anything meaningful to contribute, at least compared to my network’s highlight real.

This week alone I’ve mentally edited about a dozen status updates in my head: something amusing or anecdotal; maybe something inspirational for #WellnessWednesday or #ThankfulThursday, because God-forbid I miss a chance to use an alliterative hashtag. I even thought about a no point selfie. Like truly no point. Just wanting the world to see my face to remind everyone I’m still here. ‘Cause honestly, in a world where everyone’s shouting to be seen, it’s easy to feel invisible. Does anyone really notice who posts or not? Does anyone miss you when you’re gone?

Then there was an interesting line on TV last night. The characters were in the music industry and they stopped recording to do a video for social media. They remarked what a grind it is to always think about posting online so their fans are happy and their brand stays relevant. I found that to be so true to life. It’s not just celebrities and artists though. We all have brands these days. Whether we have a business or not, we have an image and we have to be mindful of what we communicate as well as how often we communicate. But sometimes I wonder, how valuable is a brand (in the eyes of others) that’s only gained a couple of hundred followers in four years.

Then there’s the global village dynamic of people sharing the highs and lows of life. This is particularly on Facebook. In the last couple of months, I’ve witnessed tragic deaths, sudden separations, and whirlwind love affairs. This, of course, is on top of the usual litany of news stories, enraged commentaries, and advertisements for products, goods, and services. I don’t observe all this from a seat of judgment. I take part in it all too- more so the advertising and self-promotion than the histrionics, but still…Perhaps my network is tired of my content. Lord knows I get tired of worrying about whether people appreciate it.

So yeah, when I get like this, feeling over it all, I know it’s time to take a break. It’s not social media’s fault. It’s not even people’s fault. No one is to blame. That’s why I take ownership of my wellness and occasionally unplug to restore my balance. Usually, it doesn’t even require a long hiatus for me to recharge. Maybe just a couple of days. But when I question if my work matters and if I matter…when I check back too often to count likes and views (even with this blog post) …when I’m tempted to post for no other reason than to be seen, then it’s time to step back. It’s time to revisit my why. It’s time to check out of the mountaintop of greatness in the virtual world and get grounded and meaningfully connected in the real world. Remember when people just lived ordinary lives and were content to do so? Today I want to throw it back to that: privacy, low key living, and peace of mind. Good times.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Lazy Saturdays


Take my yoke upon you and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. Matt 11:29

It started with a prayer. Teach me the way of rest. I already knew about the invitation to learn the Lord’s way of living and being. This weekend, however, it became my intention.

Today, I decided not to set my alarm. My eyes opened around my usual wake up time of 7am. My mind started to review my to-do list. But instead of getting up, I rolled back over to sleep another 45 minutes. When I finally felt like stirring, I still didn’t want to start my tasks for the day. I opted to sit up in bed, journal, and meditate. I indulged in time for about another hour.

When I finally parted ways with my bed, the rest of the morning involved coffee, chocolate chip pancakes, and watching a soccer match with a friend. During the game, I felt the pull to multitask on my Macbook. I’m a busy woman after all. I can’t very well just sit and watch a game for two hours. But then a gentle whisper asked, “Why not?” Instead of arguing with it, I agreed. Why not?

After the game, I was hungry again and ready for lunch. I should mention that even though I’ve been battling varying degrees of stomach issues almost daily the past few months, I did not experience any digestive symptoms today. As I finished my left over Chipotle, I mentally ran through my to-do list again. I considered doing a quick workout at the gym. I’ve been pretty slack in that area. Or maybe I’d get dressed and run an errand. Or maybe I’d grade more papers for my class. Lord knows there were a ton of those to get through. But when I checked in about what I really wanted to do, all I felt like doing was going to sleep. So, I took a nap. I didn’t set my alarm and I slept for about an hour. It felt amazing. It was that good, deep sleep when you drool a little bit. Gross, but glorious. 


Around 3pm, I finally took a shower and got dressed. I listened internally for what I felt like doing next. I opted for a walk around the pond and then I sat by my community fire pit. I loved it. It felt so nice to just be. As I allowed myself that space to rest, I started to understand what Jesus meant when He said, “learn from me.” I realized the things that were really important. I mean, yeah, I still had work to do, and I did eventually get to some of it. But, it didn’t seem as agonizingly important as originally perceived. It was as if I adopted a new perspective. Nothing…and I mean nothing in this world matters more than abiding in the Lord and allowing Him to minister rest and restoration to you.


When was the last time you had a day like that? When was the last time you unapologetically enjoyed a “lazy day?” ‘Cause here’s the thing about a lifestyle of rest. Not only does it give health and life to your body and soul; it gives you the supernatural ability to accomplish all that needs to be done. Try it and see what I mean.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

5 ideas for everyday self-care


I think about self-care pretty often. It’s a big part of my whole wellness schtick after all and I am always looking for ways to share how normal self-care can be. Vacays and spa days are always great. Those are bigger ticket luxury items though and tend to be reserved for special occasions. But the way life is set up we need self-care daily. That’s why I want to share more ordinary ways you can nourish yourself- ways you might miss if you aren’t mindful. Here are several from my own life in no particular order.

1. Don’t clean your plate

I know this goes against conventional wisdom. Maybe you believe it’s rude or ungrateful to waste food. Consider this though. You don’t have to force yourself to finish anything you don’t enjoy. Eating is about fueling your body, yes, but, it’s also about enjoyment. If you don’t like something, are you truly able to give thanks for it? I’m not suggesting we waste or not appreciate what we have. I’m simply saying that adulting means doing a lot of things we don’t want to do. Choking down unappetizing food should not be one of them.

2. Shave your legs

A second example of ordinary self-care we might not think about is shaving your legs. Maybe the normal routine is to rush through it in the shower. Maybe it’s just another thing to cross off your list. But what if you slow down the process? Take a bubble bath, indulge in time, and put on some of your favorite lotion or oil after. Smooth legs feel amazing and it’s such a simple way to nourish your body. Next time try making it an experience rather than a chore and notice the difference.

3. Make a playlist

Another way to engage the senses in ordinary self-care is through music. I got the playlist idea from fellow therapists and self-care influencers. Stefanie Flores and Davia Roberts recommend creating playlists depending on your mood. I love it because music is such a powerful reset. I have a few lists now for how I’m feeling. It’s a way to foster my creative, expressive side as well as honor whatever vibe I have on a given day. 



4. Learn something new

Another side of myself I like to nurture is my inner (or perhaps not so inner) nerd. Intellectual wellness is often a neglected component of overall wellness. It’s important to continually learn and grow, though, otherwise we get bored. That’s why recently I registered for an 8-week online workshop for empaths and sensitive souls. It serves a practical need because my profession requires continuing education. It’s also been great for expanding my mind. When was the last time you read or learned something new?

5. Say yes to you

A final point I’ll mention for how you can practice ordinary self-care is by listening to your gut and trusting its wisdom. I made a tough decision last week related to my business. All the warning signs were waving that something wasn’t right and I wasn’t going to be happy if I proceeded. It would have been easy to move forward anyway so as to not disappoint someone. Instead, I decided that as uncomfortable as it was to say no, it meant I was saying yes to what felt right for me. That made it worth it.

These are just my recent examples. But what about you? What are you doing in your life that is self-care without even realizing it? Self-care is any deliberate choice you make to nourish yourself and restore your internal balance. Maybe it’s sitting in silence. It could be taking a different route somewhere to create a mini-adventure for yourself. Maybe it’s going to the good grocery store that has nicer aesthetics and shorter lines. That’s the beauty of ordinary self-care. It can really be anything as long as it’s done with mindful intention. 


Sunday, October 15, 2017

Endure

I recently heard a teaching by Dr. David Jeremiah. He was talking about endurance and sharing what he learned from his personal training session. As a trainer myself, his analogy got my attention. He explained that there are two ways to train your muscles. If you lift heavier weights with fewer repetitions, you grow in strength. If you lift lighter weights, with more repetitions, you grow in endurance. This is true and this is exactly the idea that I’ve been mulling over in the last few weeks. I was not so much applying it to physical training as much as emotional and spiritual training.

When I posed this question to friends, I asked if they’d prefer one big crisis in their life or several sequential stressors over time. Not surprisingly, most chose the one and done approach. They would rather power through one big issue rather than deal with a bunch of smaller persistent issues. Is this true for you? It is for me. It’s so much easier to be strong and brave once to get through a difficult situation. But to get up daily, face multiple stressors, the problems that irk your soul and persist weeks or sometimes months on end…that’s a whole different training that’s happening. It’s working out patience and resilience in you. It’s teaching you how to endure.

Next time you’re training, think about this analogy. For my heavy lifters, think about mixing up your regimen with lower weights and higher reps. For my sprinters and short distance runners, think about running slower and going farther. For everyone else, consider how life’s discomforts, aggravations, and frustrations are giving you a valuable skill set. There is most definitely a place for strength. But when you’ve trained to withstand for the long haul, then there’s nothing in this life that you can’t endure.