Here’s Why You Failed Your New Year’s Resolution (And how to Succeed Next Time)

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The New Year has barely started and people everywhere are starry eyed and ready to begin anew. We have our grocery-shopping lists done and new gym clothes hung and ready for wear. We hit the ground running, quite literally, for about a month. We begin to see some progress and are excited by the possibilities.

Then, out of nowhere, our grand plans come screeching to a halt. In an exhausted and disappointed haze we declare, “Maybe next year” as we fall into the same old routines.

“I have really been screwing up. I don’t understand why this always happens,” my Talkspace client, Emily, texts me around dinner time on a Sunday.

Note: Talkspace therapists obtain permission from clients before featuring them in stories and change their names to protect privacy. 

“I was doing so well with my resolution. I’ve lost 7lbs! I was working out at least 6 times a week for the last month and a half. I don’t know what has been going on with me, but I’ve completely stalled out, and I’m feeling like a total failure, yet again. I haven’t been back to the gym once, and ever since I went out to dinner with my two best friends a couple of weeks ago, I just can’t seem to get back into my routine.”

I ask her if there was anything that stood out for her about that dinner in particular.

“Well, before I went, I had told myself I was going to be ‘good’ and stick to a healthy meal, no matter what. When we sat down and conversation got going, we were all having a lot of fun and the girls decided to order a bunch of appetizers. Even at this point, I was still ready to resist. The server set them down and everyone dug in. After a few minutes of trying to steer clear, I just threw caution to the wind and decided that I just wanted to have fun, relax, and enjoy myself without worrying about my meal. I ate anything I wanted, ordered an unhealthy entrée, and then we split dessert. All in all it was a great night. The next day, I was feeling really guilty. I didn’t make it to the gym in the morning, then I felt even worse. When it came time to make my food choices for the day, I decided a few more ‘cheats’ wouldn’t matter at this point, since I already ruined things. Since then, everything has kind of been off.”

Emily’s struggle is one many people experience after the New Year. I feel a sense of hopelessness coming from Emily during our interaction and know this won’t be the last time a client with a weight loss goal comes to me with a deep sense of disappointment and failure. Like so many others, she needed support and help to untwist some of her thoughts.

Meeting a Goal; What is Keeping you Stuck?

The Transtheoretical Model [Stages of Change] model, developed by James O. Prochaska and colleagues in 1977, tells us people attempting to make a change go through six distinct stages:

  1. Pre-contemplation
  2. Contemplation
  3. Preparation
  4. Action
  5. Maintenance
  6. Relapse

The stages before “Action” are decision-making and preparative stages. You are in the “Action” stage and beyond once you are engaging in, and then maintaining your desired change, until you reach “Relapse.”

The most important thing to remember about these stages is they are not necessarily linear. Sometimes people can get stuck in a contemplative or pre-contemplative stage for years. You can even visit all of the stages in one day!

This doesn’t mean you won’t make a change. For the vast majority of people, it takes several rounds through all of the stages before making a long lasting change. i.e., if at first you don’t succeed, it is totally normal to try, try again!

Our pre-conceived ideas about making a change can hold us back from reaching our goal. If you feel this goal should come easily and painlessly, setbacks can destroy progress. Many of my clients are not used to having to engage in the art of delayed gratification.

Often, if we have one deviation from the actions that will help us meet our goal, we go into full-blown relapse and never look back. This leaves us no room for error, and is a cognitive distortion called “All-or-Nothing” thinking. When we get on the scale in the morning and see it hasn’t moved, we can instantly lose a bit of motivation to continue.

It is crucial to identify this thinking early on and eradicate it. The opposite of this is also true; the more small successes we experience during the change process, the more likely we are to continue to develop grit, an important character trait in success. It is important to use this to your advantage when chasing your goals.

Exceedingly high expectations can also be goal killers. Most of us, when creating a resolution, create a very large goal. We also want our very large goal to happen FAST. Clients will often say to me, “I want to lose 40, 80, 100 lbs,” etc. “I’m hoping to do this within six months.”

When they aren’t able to fulfill this impossibly difficult goal, they slip back to their old routines. It is a disheartening cycle.

Another possibility is undetected pathology. If you find yourself consistently struggling to make positive changes in your life, there could be an untreated mental health issue such as depression, anxiety or food addiction Reach out to a mental health professional such as a Talkspace therapist to help you navigate these issues.

Ways to Increase your Success

1) Evaluate your motivation

Without motivation, meeting any goal is impossible. When embarking on a journey of change, it is important to examine and evaluate your level of motivation and how you can continue to feel motivated, even when you hit some bumps in the road.

Ask yourself; Is my motivation intrinsic or extrinsic? i.e. Do I want to make this change because of my internal drives, or do I want to make this change so others will accept, love or think highly of me? Fostering your intrinsic motivation might keep you working toward your goal more consistently.

2) Change your state of mind, foster your motivation.

a. Expect that big goals are going to take time and there will be setbacks along the way.
b. Expect reward to begin [very] small.
c. Expect that you might need to modify what isn’t working.
d. Know that just because things aren’t working right now, does not mean they will not ever work.
e. Avoid “All-or-Nothing thinking”; one slip does not have to mean failure and moving all the way back to pre-contemplation. You can hop right back to the “Action” stage.
f. Leave room for error. Build it into your plan so you expect when it occurs and does not result in a hit to motivation. i.e. one day a week to where you’re allowed to miss your workout if you need to or one day a week with no goal work.

3) Manage Your Goals

Take advantage of the Cue, Routine, Reward cycle and our need for instant gratification by creating smaller and more attainable goals. This way, you are rewarded more often with completion gratification. This causes continuous motivation over time.

a. Identify umbrella goal (The very large goal.) I.e., losing 100 lbs.
b. Create a list. Break that goal down into 5-25 subgoals in a linear fashion
c. Break down your subgoals AGAIN into weekly goals (at the beginning of each week, no earlier).
d. Finally, create a daily list of things that will help you progress toward that weekly goal. If you haven’t completed the previous day’s work, add it to the next day. Do not beat yourself up! Give it no more thought than that.

This system allows you to go back and review, looking at the bigger picture to see where you’re at and the progress you have made.

Cross out goals as they are completed

This gives you a sense of accomplishment or “reward” to continue on. Modifying as you go allows for much needed flexibility, because life happens and it’s about progress, not perfection. Progress and moving forward will actually help us achieve goals concretely. Doing the process perfectly will not.

Build some “Reflection Time” into your weekly schedule

That’s right, about an hour of nothing but sitting and non-judgmentally reflecting on all you have achieved thus far, as well as considering what you could do differently the following week. A good day for this is Sunday, before you determine your weekly goal.

Work on eliminating as many distractions as you can.

Many people say time is a factor in not achieving goals. How much time do you spend daily and weekly engaged in time-wasting activities such as watching TV, surfing the web, chatting with co-workers or texting?

Time goes by without realizing it, and suddenly it’s too late to go to the gym or goal set, and you’re tired. Make it a point to figure out how long you’re spending (You will be surprised), and try to cut that time in half.

While working on goals, lock your phone up in a file cabinet, close your door while focused on working to avoid chit chat, remove social media apps from devices you use for work, silence your phone or other pings, set alarms that tell you when your time for goal work has begun. Then, recognize you have done something most people cannot and will not do to reach their goals, and feel proud! (reward and reinforcement!)

It doesn’t have to the New Year for you to begin your journey to change today, and it’s never too late to hop back on the wagon toward achieving your goal! Utilize some of these tips to get you started.

~Patricia

This article has also been posted at Talkspace.com, the world’s leading online therapy platform. Access Patricia Petrone via Talkspace and gain 24/7 access to your own therapy chat room, where you can post text, audio, video, and picture messages. This mode of therapy is affordable and convenient for all, no matter where your location. To learn more, visit https://www.talkspace.com/room/patriciapetrone
Whole Wellness Service Practice Website: http://www.imwhole.net
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A Mindfulness Meditation Introduction

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Is everyone feeling mindful today? You may be asking yourself what I mean by that. Throughout my career in the mental health field, I have had the opportunity to hone my group facilitation skills, and now pride myself on this being one of my greatest professional assets. Within the past week, I offered a free mindfulness meditation group through my private practice, Whole Wellness Services.

I wanted to share with you what I learned and what I shared with others during that experience.

Have you ever felt like your days drag on in a stretched numbness? Or like “hump day” should be called “numb day?” A lot of us get lost in the small happenings of every day life so much so that we forget to stop and stare at the bigger picture. We become stitched together with small insignificant pieces of our lives, and this unfortunately can become our entire existance. Your annoying boss, your smelly feet, your cable bill. These are the things that are on your mind and dictating your behavior, and therefore, these are the things you become. Are you worried yet?

There is more to life than this. Mindfulness is the foundation of Buddhism, but you don’t have to throw out your Christmas tree and convert to take away some important lessons and employ them in your every day life. A little bit of mindfulness goes a long way!

Mindfulness meditation has been shown through studies to reduce stress levels and help ease mental health symptoms, as well as increase peace of mind in our daily lives, increase sleep quality, and lower blood pressure and heart rate. Some folks also consider mindfulness their way of practicing spirituality, which can help one to draw meaning from every day life. There are not many down sides to practicing mindfulness, beyond making a commitment to spend as little as one minute a day practicing and getting better.

Yes, meditation takes some practice. We are constantly in a thinking and feeling state. Meditation tells us to give our brains a chance to just stop for a moment and be clear.  Of course, no one is perfect, and being clear is very hard. This is where mindfulness comes in, which tells us, “If you have a thought during your meditation, observe it non-judgementally and refocus.” In other words, do not judge your own meditation performance.

In my recent group, which was an introduction to mindfulness and was full of newcomers, I noticed some individuals did engage in judging their own performance. This of course detracts from the mindfulness piece as a whole. I emphasized the importance of letting go of expectations while meditating. Once you get great at doing this while meditating, my hope is that you will be able to apply this to every day events in life as well. I recently read an article which spoke of the formula for happiness. It discussed how having expectations often ruins our ability to feel happy. We dream of the future or a lost past and image it in a way it is not, or cannot not be. This causes dissatisfaction. If we learn to live within this moment, just how it is, we are letting go of our expectations and can be open to happiness.

Thinking this way is not easy and does not come quickly. It happens little by little and day by day. If you apply this thinking to 1 moment of your day, in my opinion, you have already won. You are better off than you would have been otherwise. You are closer to letting go. 1 moment of your day is doable for any one, I think.

Going back to the mindfulness meditation group, I felt it was a great success. I went into it without expectations, and was extremely pleased with the outcome. I did not expect full attendance, I did not expect people to provide large donations, and I did not expect group members to be avid meditators. Because of this, I was extremely impressed and happy with the group, where we had at 70% attendance, and beginners abound. I read a short passage from a highly recommended book on meditation, Wherever you go, There you are by Jon Kabat-Zinn. I also facilitated a 15 minute guided imagery meditation that I created, and was impressed with the group’s ability to concentrate through it. Please stay tuned, as I will attach a copy of the script to this posting.

I hope that you will give mindfulness a try! Please share your experiences with me.

Poppin’ Pills: Questions behind Vitamins & Supplementation

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This topic is one of huge debate and confusion for lots of people. I thought I would write my experience with this in hopes that others will share their experiences as well. I don’t believe anyone will ever come to a consensus on this and other health topics simply because each person’s system is unique in it’s own way and with that we will have constantly shifting results from one person to the next…and that’s OK. If something makes you feel better, why not go with it?

Millions of people are believers in the power of popping pills every morning to help them deal with symptoms or diseases. Hard medications with serious side effects. We take a lot of risks with our health liberally swallowing anything our doctor puts in our hands, but many of us do it anyway. Doctors are often rewarded and coerced by pharmaceutical companies to prescribe medications to patients, even when they know little about the medication and it has just recently come onto the market. MDs receive everything from gift baskets to vacations in exchange for their prescribing power. This is, in essence, the blind leading the blind. I could go on about this topic, but I’m going to focus on a different type of pill; over the counter vitamin and mineral supplements. Now, don’t get me wrong, this is big business at it’s best. The supplement business in America is a trillion dollar a year industry. Vitamin manufacturers have a lot to lose if people stop believing in the power of supplementation. That being said, I have never had a life changing experience with a prescribed medication. I have had life changing experiences with Vitamin use, and I would like to hear if others have similar stories. I’ll tell you a little about mine.

Now, I research everything and anything I put into my body, and I encourage readers to do the same. There’s a whole lot of whack info on the net today. Being that I have a research background academically, I have been trained to properly scrutinize data sources to determine their true validity. Others may not have that luxury. The sources I take seriously come from academic databases and have large sample sizes with statistically significant outcomes. If you don’t know what I’m talking about right now and would like to be better informed, check out this resource. You too can become a research nerd and stop believing everything you read on theonion.com;-). In other words, the stuff I say in this article and any article I write is coming from reliable sources, some of which I may cite.

So, vitamins and minerals. Everyone knows you need them. Our bodies use these precious building blocks to repair and restore each and every cell we own. They are one of the reasons that we are required to eat. If we are deficient in any given vitamin or mineral, our system can not work optimally and we may experience side effects. Some deficiencies I have experienced over time include Thiamine (Vitamin B1), Iron, Vitamin B12, Vitamin D, Zinc, and Calcium. These deficiencies have caused me chronic fatigue and hyper-somnolence, extreme hair loss, chronic ear infections, digestive issues, acne, sluggish metabolism and thyroid function, & the list goes on. I have had my Vitamin D test results come back at levels as low as 5. The effects of this are unquestionable, as I have been on prescription strength vitamin D and have noticed immediate changes in energy level and ability to regulate weight. Now, I pride myself on a diet rich in organic, quality plant and animal matter. I am careful to try and eat a wide variety of foods and would say 70% of my diet consists of fresh vegetable matter. I also have dabbled with juices and smoothies that have included a great variety of plants. I try to buy my food locally and use shares. I have been careful to get enough iodine, which supports thyroid function. And supplement? Do I ever. My daily regimen includes a variety of high quality vitamins in high doses. That being said, I am still forever low in some vital areas, and I feel the results of that daily.  You may be asking yourself, why so many deficiencies? The answer is three fold.

1) There may be an undetected issue with digestion and vitamin absorption (being investigated now). You yourselves should never rule this out as a possibility if you have a deficiency.

2) This one is more complicated. Way back when, families grew the food they needed to live, and that was that. Farms were small and sustainable, and soil was far richer in natural vitamins and minerals than it is today. Due to overcropping and factory farming on a world wide scale, fields are used over and over and over again through harvest seasons. This depletes soils of their natural richness and in turn provides us with vegetables that no longer pack the nutritional punch they once did. Add in our own high heat cooking methods which even further deplete the plant, and add a layer of toxic pesticide, and you’ve got a recipe for deficiency. Organic vegetables and fruit usually boast a bit of a higher nutrient content, but it is nowhere near 100%. Most of us do not eat a wide enough variety of plants and animals to get what we need to begin with, even if our current foods were at 100% richness.

3) We are super duper clean. What I mean by that is, back before factory farming, fruits and veggies were a little more “rugged” than they are currently. They were pulled out of the ground and dirty and a bug or two might have slipped in there. They weren’t perfectly polished and plump as they are today. People didn’t have the luxury of using the little water they had to perfectly clean every food they ate. With this came consumption of an array of excellent soil minerals and needed probiotics that help us to better absorb nutrients and stave away unwanted gut bacteria. Ever heard the phrase, “If God made dirt…dirt can’t hurt”? I’m pretty sure that phrase was authored by some guy right after taking a bite of a dirty beet. At least I hope so. For all of the reasons listed, it seems we’re between a rock and a hard place with getting what we need from our food. So, in my opinion, SUPPLEMENT WE MUST! 

Some words on vitamin supplements:

1) They are not all created equal. It is important to look for a high quality supplement made with only natural food based ingredients. Unfortunately, most brands of vitamins that are common have added ingredients that are toxic. If you are taking 5-10 pills daily, these substances add up. Avoid any vitamin or supplement containing Magnesium Stearate or Stearic Acid. Basically, these ingredients are a form of liquid metal lubricant coating pills so that they do not stick to manufacturing machines and each other. This substance causes cell damage, including your T-cells, which are key players for your immune system. No point to supplementing if your supplements are ruining your immune system:-) Luckily, there are lots of excellent vitamin brands that do not use this product. Just check your labels and be sure to purchase only supplements with very few and all natural ingredients.

2) They must be taken a certain way to be absorbed and work properly in your system. This is one reason I encourage you to do your research when beginning a new vitamin schedule. Some important ones to remember include Vitamin D and Calcium. It’s always a good idea to take these two together. Another tip is to know whether or not your vitamins are fat soluble. Fat soluble vitamins should be taken with meals as some fat is needed to properly absorb them. Hint, hint: A, D, E, and K!

3) They may contain allergens. For some off reason, lots of vitamins contain either soy or wheat based fillers. Watch out for this if you have a sensitivity, and always read the ingredients list before a purchase!

Some of my favorite supplements:

Zinc: Zinc is my absolute favorite. I take 50mg of chelated zinc daily to support my immune system and when I am just beginning to get sick, I will take it up to 3 times daily. It will shorten and weaken a cold and sometimes if you catch symptoms early enough will keep you from getting sick. Note that all of those cold medications like airborne and Zicam have a main ingredient of zinc. However, pure zinc is much, much cheaper and more potent. Do not take on an empty stomach, or you will be immediately nauseated.

Vitamin C: Great taken with zinc for illness as well.

Iron: I simply do not eat enough red meat consistently to support my iron levels correctly, and most of you probably don’t either. Iron is very important and without it your red blood cells suffer. I recommend taking a probiotic with it, as it can cause some constipation.

Probiotics: Though not technically a vitamin and more of a supplement, this is my number 2 all time favorite. Probiotics are actually good bacteria. Like I mentioned earlier, we just don’t eat enough dirt nowadays to get our fair share of these guys. We also take a ton of antibiotics, which kill not only bad gut bacteria, but good gut bacteria as well. Acidophilus is my favorite, be sure to get high counts. It helps to keep you “regular,” improves digestive upset, and is excellent for your immune system and fighting anything that enters your gut that can make you sick, such as food borne illness.

Vitamin E: Can be taken orally, but also be broken open and used topically for burns, cuts, and stretch marks.

Borage Oil: Another supplement. Excellent for acne and skin texture issues.

Evening Primrose oil: Great for premenstrual symptoms such as breast pain, and acne.

Fish oil: Supports brain health, great for hair, skin, and nails.

Biotin: Makes your hair and nails grow healthy and strong

B Vitamin Complex: Excellent for energy, and even ridding yourself of a hang over.

I’m really just scratching the surface. Vitamins and minerals are also effective mood regulators. They have been shown to impact and improve depressive symptoms. Before turning to a medication like Wellbutrin, it’s importance to get your vitamin levels checked. If you have deficiencies, try getting your levels up before turning to an anti-depressant. Vitamins impact our reward centers. Chemicals like serotonin can be heavily impacted, which can in turn cause us to feel better or worse emotionally. For a comprehensive list of vitamins and minerals, what they do in the body, and some interesting research on how they can impact mood, check out my favorite article on the topic, Vitamins, Minerals & Mood.

I am interested in other’s experiences with this topic, and hope you will share your thoughts or questions. Supplementing has worked great for me and helped me to gain energy, regrow lost hair,  and say goodbye to chronic ear and sinus infection. I hope some of this introductory info will encourage you to try out a new vitamin or supplement and see how it works for you.

Patricia

The “Elusive” Symptom.

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Our bodies tell us things. They tell us in big ways and in small ways, and despite the interconnectedness of the brain and the body, we find a way to ignore clear cut messages. Has anyone ever experienced this? Some people are quite in tune and aware of their symptoms, but choose to ignore them. Others make symptoms where there are none. Truly “well” folks probably fall someplace in the middle. As an individual who is always striving to improve my personal health, this past week was a tad shocking for me. I have dealt with vitamin deficiencies in the past, as well as extreme hair loss, fatigue, chronic ear and sinus infections, sluggish metabolism, and anemia, all of which I thought I had a solid handle on. It was my understanding that my deficiencies and hair loss had come from 13 year use of birth control pills, which can deplete you of many vitamins as well as damage hair follicles (hear it, ladies) and my anemia stemming from a vegan diet and a hereditary Thallasemia trait. I had a vast improvement of many symptoms with a diet change that includes organic meats and less grains. Nearly 2 years ago, I also took myself off of the pill. I have a borderline religious vitamin regimen that I stick to to fight deficiencies. My ear infections ceased, my hair is thicker than it has been in a while (though still thin) and I have not been sick in over a year. This, to me, was serious progress. So I thought.

I recently got a new primary care doctor who is unbelievable. He is incredibly thorough and really takes his time with evaluation. I cannot emphasize the importance of getting yourself a doctor who cares and takes his or her time with you. During my physical, we discussed some still lingering symptoms, which included heavy fatigue and a feeling that I can never get enough sleep, even after 10 hours of undisturbed snooze. He asked me about my lifestyle and behaviors as well as my diet, and concluded something was off. He ran a boatload of blood tests, checking important hormones and vitamin levels.

I left the appointment feeling a sense of hope and went about my business. I got my blood drawn a couple of days later. Sometime after my appointment, I realized I had left out a symptom that I’ve experienced basically forever. Something that might alarm the average person, but for me seemed normal, because it’s been going on for as long as I can remember. I was reminded by it’s occurrence yet again, after an average meal.

1-4 times a week, eating causes me to have an extremely painful stomach ache followed by other unpleasant symptoms. I’m unsure of why I’ve ignored this for so long. I guess I was thinking this was “normal” or that everyone gets an upset stomach once in a while, or that I was just sensitive to certain foods.

My doctor didn’t seem to agree. Not at all, actually. He said this is not at all normal and is causing my deficiencies. He also said there has been possible damage to my small intestine which would keep me from absorbing food and vitamins properly. This would explain why me taking vitamins all this time has been seemingly mute. I now have an appointment with a specialist set, and must say that I am rather disappointed in myself, as an aspiring “champion of health and wellness.” How could I let such an obvious symptom go? And how severely have I been cheating myself out of feeling my best?

The point of this post is really to encourage readers not to ignore what your body is telling you. More fatigue than usual, a change in body temperature, Gastro-intestinal changes, sleep difficulties, mood swings, pain, even acid reflux, these are all symptoms. Our bodily systems are an incredibly intricate and delicate and this balance is easily interrupted because of our current life styles and environmental circumstances. Things we consider to be “normal” and “everyday aches and pains” are actually our bodies screaming attempts to get our attention and let us know something isn’t right. Do your best to pay close attention, and you may be rewarded with a new and better “normal.”

-Patricia

“It’s Friday, Friday, Gotta get down on Friday!…????”

HAPPY FRIDAY. So I was thinking about what Friday represents for me as compared to a lot of other people in America, as well as the true meaning of the terrible Rebecca Black tune.  A lot of people talk about Friday being their favorite day of the week because it means they don’t have to report to their jobs the next day. This is of course assuming you work a week day only job. For some of you this might be Sunday, or Wednesday, whatever. “TGIF Y’ALL!!!!”, “OMG SO HAPPY THIS WEEK IS OVER”, “ONLY 3 MORE HOURS UNTIL I’M FREE…”

Sound familiar?

For so many people who have worked tirelessly, accrued thousands upon thousands of dollar of debt, and ran the rat race for so long just to find a job, or a “career,” doesn’t it seem mute that when we finally “arrive” at our chosen destination, we just can’t wait for the weekend? Day after day, week after week, this is how our lives are passing us by. And knowing full well that we are “working for the weekend,” we allow this to continue.

Now for the golden question: WTF ARE WE THINKING?

I ask my clients this a lot, in a nicer way. :0)

The responses I get range from “I can’t afford to make a change” to “I have bills to pay” to “I spent the last ten years trying to get this job, I will have wasted so much time…” etc. etc. etc.

OK, yes, I know. We are all strapped for cash and time and we’re all burned out and running on Mcdonald’s dollar coffee. But I ask again, is that how you want to spend your precious time on this earth? The one life you have to live? Do you really only want to be happy 2 out of 7 days of your week? That’s right, you’re happy 28% of the time. No bueno guys, no bueno. And I challenge those responses whole heartedly. Yes, you spent time getting your current job. Cool. You hate it. If you’re worried about wasted time, you should focus on the next 30 years you will waste being in a place you hate all day, every day. Now that is wasted time.

And what does this do to our health? To our souls? It’s written on our tired, lined faces. It’s sewn into us. It becomes our state of mind. A state of dissatisfaction and a lack of meaning. Meaning is what makes us healthy.

Then there’s finances. I get it. They run the world. But clearly, the money you’re making at that job you hate isn’t making you happier…correct? We have to remember that we live in America, though. That’s right. ‘Merica. Being that we live here, we have certain priviledge. Privilege is like a whole other convo that I’m not going to get into right now, but anyway. It’s really really hard to die from non-accidental sources in America. It’s really tough to die of literal STARVATION. To go hungry and be cold and die alone in America, it almost takes work.

I work with people daily who have terrible drug habits and who have thrown their lives away. Every facet of their lives. They have no home, no credit, no one to call a friend in the world. They’re ridden with health issues caused by their use, sometimes fatal. They manage to rebuild. And some of them not only rebuild, they make their life long dreams come true. Most of you reading this probably aren’t heroin addicts. That’s why I have even more faith that at the end of the day, even if you walked out of that job you hate and never looked back, you will be O.K.

Yes, tomorrow, you’ll still be alive. You’ll be breathing the fresh morning air as you open your eyes in your bed in this country that will help you to your feet if you should fall. And that’s why on this Friday afternoon, wherever you are in America, I challenge you to think about what this weekend means to you. Does this weekend mean happiness and freedom? Or does every day mean happiness and freedom? Even if you decide not to make a change at this very moment, it’s extremely powerful just to know that you COULD, and you would be O.K.

I hope that for each of you today.

What is health? (and what this blog is not)

Hey world. Hi World. How are we today? Are we all feeling mindful? I’m using therapy speak rn. Maybe you’re not. Maybe that’s how you’ve stumbled across this blog. Maybe you’re actually super tired, burnt out, toomuchtodonotenoughtimetodoitreadytoquityourjobandmovetoanisland kinda state-o’-mind. I’m here to tell you a little about what this blog isn’t so that you don’t waste too much time poking around if you needn’t. Since I know you’re already short on time. This is not a blog about the latest weight loss craze. This is not a blog that is going to perpetually focus on how to get the “bigger booty” you’ve been hoping for or how to “train that waist” until your internal organs move into your limbs. There will be no Kendall Jenner lip challenge photos floating around. NO. We’re done with that. It’s run it’s course. It was fun. Or entertaining. Or something.

I’m here to talk about YOU.

And me, a little.

Who are you? Who do you want to be? What’s inside your soul? What makes you feel HAPPY and FULL OF LIFE!?

If there’s one thing I’ve learned as a therapist it’s that happiness and health work in kind of an all encompassing circle. If you aren’t happy, you usually aren’t healthy. And if you aren’t healthy, you probably have a hard time feeling super happy.

That’s what this blog is about. It’s about learning more about ourselves through an open dialogue about health and what health means to us. The title of this blog contains the word “whole” (overused as it may be at the moment) because for me, that word suggests a binding of parts to create something larger. As humans, the dynamic creatures that we are, we operate on many different spectrums. One moment we’re running from our emotional mind. The next we are all physical and energy and chemical, and our behavior is being driven from there. And each one of those arenas can be broken down yet again. For example, when I am in my emotional mind, sometimes I’m feeling anxious or sad and that’s dictating my behavior. Sometimes though I am able to feel centered, mindful, or spiritual, and this helps me to better regulate my behavior despite having strong underlying emotions. When we are operating from certain states, it’s easy for our actions to be dictated with seemingly little choice in the matter. Being in a state of health and true wellness means we are better in control of our actions and are able to make healthier decisions no matter what “arena” we are operating from. To me, this means our minds are full of positivity, our bodies are functioning in a way that allows us to do what we need to do to live, and our spirits are filled with happiness.

My hope for this blog is that it becomes collaborative and that we work together to create a collection of inspiration that helps us to become more healthy and whole. I will cover topics that I think contribute to that primary goal, and I welcome suggestions for such topics from readers. I have spent many years combing the earth for this type of information, and am thrilled to share what I’ve come across and learned in my work as a therapist.

Thanks for reading today. Question:

What does health mean to you?