Sunday, February 18, 2018

Wellness burnout

Do you ever find yourself overwhelmed by well living? It might sound strange, but I definitely know that feeling. There are so many moving parts and it’s hard to juggle them all.

Take the average person. You have work, chores, errands, and normal life responsibilities. But then if you value wellness and self-care, you also have meal prep and workouts to plan into your week. There’s also getting to bed at a decent hour, doing your daily meditation, oh, and aren’t wealthy people supposed to read at least one book a month? Then, if you want some semblance of a social life and still make time for yourself…where’s the time to do it all? There are only so many hours in a day.

Yeah, folks, I hate to say it, but the well life can actually add to overwhelm. Well, our expectations for a perfect wellness balance certainly can. Here’s the reality. It’s a constant juggling act. We can’t do it all. We must prioritize based on our needs and make choices congruent with those needs. But if you don’t give yourself permission to choose and instead, pressure yourself to do it all, you can burnout from trying to do wellness perfectly.

So listen, I give you permission today to make choices. Maybe you eat out this week because you’d rather go to church and visit family then take 4 hours to get groceries and meal prep. Provided you still make good nutritional choices it’s totally okay. Perhaps you take a week off from the gym if you have work deadlines and need to get more sleep. I promise your muscle tone will not diminish in a week. You get my point. It’s all important, but figure out what’s essential. You figure it out by asking yourself: What do I truly need? Whatever wisdom comes forth is the wellness plan you need for the moment. Whatever you do don't burn yourself out trying to do all the good things. Focus on the One who can help you discern your soul's needs and teach you how to live freely and lightly (Matthew 11:28-30, Message).

Friday, February 2, 2018

Why every woman needs a sister circle

Not long ago I was hanging out with a friend who’s a relatively new connection in my life. We’ve only been friends for a couple of years, compared to the fifteen years plus of my usual circle. She had remarked that she didn’t really like going out and meeting new people to which I replied, “I’m new.” She responded with, “But you don’t feel new.” I knew what she meant and it touched me. She was basically saying that our connection is genuine and there’s no pretense. Whereas you might have to test the waters with new acquaintances before revealing your true self, we didn’t really have to do that. We just vibed.

I think it might have been the same week of that conversation when I started hearing about different people’s struggles with friendship. A couple of my clients and one of my coworkers shared the difficulty of finding good friends. What fascinated me was that regardless of relationship status, women still craved connections with other women. I think it struck me so much because we are so conditioned to seek romantic love. Many figure once they get it then it’ll complete you. It doesn’t. It’s beautiful and it’s a gift to be cherished. It’s just one facet of love, however. The human soul needs a village to satisfy the depth of our emotional need. Women in particular seem to have a large emotional capacity to connect intimately and passionately with family, friends, and the world around them. Imagine the pain of having all that love to give and no safe places or trustworthy connections to share it with.

I definitely feel blessed to have abundant friendship love in my life now, but it wasn’t always like that. I’ve prayed countless times throughout my life, “God, I just need a friend.” I’ve gone without because I’d prefer to be alone than to force an inauthentic connection. I’ve also been very intentional about seeking connections with beautiful souls because I value relationship so much. Because of personal experience and periods of lack, I try to create the space for others to find that sense of connection as well. This is why I’m starting a monthly Sister Circle. It’s a discussion group for women where we'll come talk about life. I don’t think there are many spaces for women to show up, let their hair down, and truly be seen. It’s exhausting having to pretend all the time, or censor parts of yourself in order to be accepted. We all want permission to be ourselves and have others love us just the way we are.

Is that something you’re missing? Is that the kind of connection you crave? Then, come join us. I won’t necessarily promise you’ll find your soul mate sister friends there. After all, there’s still a certain magic and mystery that goes into any relationship. Chemistry can’t be forced. What I can promise is that you’ll get great practice being the kind of love you want and meeting others who are doing the same. From that, who knows…it could be the start of a beautiful friendship.

For more details on registering for Sister Circle, email 

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Hope helps. Hope heals.

Have you ever noticed how unhelpful, well-intentioned people can be? Rather than just providing supportive listening, reflection of your thoughts, and validation of your feelings, these people immediately try to problem solve. Sometimes I have to remind myself that most people are not trained counselors. Like I said, they probably mean well. But for the life of me, I cant recall a single time when I was carrying deep hurt in my soul that someones advice did anything to help matters. Especially not when its been a persistent issue thats resolution has been delayed.

It reminds me of a time in college when I was seeking a very specific supernatural encounter with God. It seemed as though everyone else was going to the next level (as I perceived it) and I wanted to draw closer too. Well, I did and I was growing in Him. But for whatever reason, this specific spiritual sign was not manifesting. At first, people were very encouraging and they prayed for me. Then as time marched on with no spiritual sign those same people (again, the well-meaning ones) implied that it wasnt happening because I was afraid, I didnt want to lose control, and I must not fully trust God. You can imagine my devastation when I was at a young adult conference and God came in the room and I wasnt there. Im serious. I stepped away to the restroom and when I came back it was like the Holy Spirit visited the meeting to baptize everyone in His presence and I missed it. I returned to my seat heartbroken and weeping because I felt like He passed me by.

I recognize now there was no truth in that belief. It certainly felt true at the time. Honestly, whenever anything delays, as the really big-ticket items of life often do, then its easy to struggle with those thoughts. Does God just not want to give me this gift? Whats wrong with me that my healing hasnt come? Is it my fault I cant conceive? Am I just unlovable and thats why Im single? Its an ugly shame spiral that only gets more momentum when people jump in with the tips, strategies, and formulas that helped them. Whats even more shameful is when those same advice-givers, perhaps in their inability to explain and their need for a clear reason, blame the person whos waiting. Well, if you just did X and not Y, you wouldve had Z by now. Ouch. In what world would that message ever give help or healing to the one who hurts?

Ill tell you what is helpful though. Hope. Deferred hope makes a sick heart. But a storehouse of hope can empower you to face anything in life, even delays. The next time you hear someone struggling with a desire or dream thats been delayed ask yourself this: If I choose to respond at all, is my response giving hope and life to their situation, or criticism and judgment? We always have a choice in what we speak. Speak life.

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 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.


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.