stress

33

Today is my 33rd birthday. I’ve never been one to loathe aging. In fact it’s quite the opposite. I’ve always viewed each birthday as a personal new year; a time to reflect and show gratitude.

Between my divorce, navigating life as a single parent, my mother’s cancer diagnosis, and my sister’s car accident, the last year has been absolutely brutal. Without a doubt, the most devastating challenges I have had to face thus far.

For years I was the queen of keeping a cool exterior. I viewed showing any kind of emotion, or asking for help as signs of weakness. Mind you, not when other people sought my council. No, it was only weakness if I required help. 

I was a rock. I could handle whatever blows life was going throw. And I was going to do it by myself.

This mentality seemed to serve me well through the first 30 years of life. It wasn’t until my marriage started to unravel, and I had completely lost myself in the roles of mother and wife, that my no emotion, no help, rock mentality started taking its toll, and some destructive behavior started becoming a daily practice.

“Vulnerability sounds like truth and feels like courage. Truth and courage aren't always comfortable, but they're never weakness.” - Brene Brown

I had never learned the tools to cope with big emotions because I had never allowed myself to ever feel them. I shoved them into the dark depths, where they would never be seen (of felt).

I knew in the midst of coming to terms with my decision to file for divorce, and having just learned of my mother’s cancer, that this was a pivotal moment in my life. This was not something I was going to be able to send into the labyrinth, never to be dealt with. The pain, fear, and anger I felt was overwhelming. Consuming. And I realized I only had two options; let it break me down, or break me open.

I chose the latter.

We are not what happens to us, we are how we choose to respond to what happens to us.

We go through the tough stuff to grow and be better; because there will come a day when someone is struggling and are in need of the tools you’ve learned, and you will be able to provide them.

33 is a new year. There will be more pain (such is life), but there’s also going to be a whole lot of vulnerability, joy, and mindfulness.

“Vulnerability is the birthplace of love, belonging, joy, courage, empathy, and creativity. It is the source of hope, empathy, accountability, and authenticity. If we want greater clarity in our purpose or deeper and more meaningful spiritual lives, vulnerability is the path.” - Brene Brown

XOXO - 

Jules

Self-Care Non-Negotiable

“Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves.” - John Muir

What do you need to feel balanced? To feel whole? These are questions I ask every client, and it’s important to understand, because these should be your self-care non-negotiables.

I am a mom, a daughter, a sister, a friend, and a coach. There are people who need and deserve me at my best. It used to feel like a constant battle to be everything my daughter needs, everything my clients need, and to also give myself what I need. All too often we forgo what might be best for us, because we feel the need to serve others before ourselves.

But what I’ve learned over this last year is that making one’s own mental and physical wellbeing a priority is not selfish, it’s essential. When you are caring for yourself properly, you’ll be operating closer to your optimal, which in turn will allow you to serve those you love with more enthusiasm.

So in reality, self-care is an act of selflessness.

My self-care non-negotiables:

- Move (and sweat) daily.

- Time in nature. Being amongst the trees is where I feel most at peace.

- Quiet time to read and meditate.

So, now I ask you. What do you need to feel balanced? What do you need to feel whole? What are your self-care non-negotiables? And most importantly, are they part of your daily routine? If not, it’s time to re-prioritize.

I deserve me at my best. And so do you, my friend. But if all we do is give, burnout is inevitable. Self-care is key. When you feel whole, you shine. And the world needs your light.

XOXO -

Jules

“An empty lantern provides no light. Self-care is the fuel that allows your light to shine brightly.” – Unknown

The Mental Health Benefits of Exercise

“Take care of your body, it’s the only place you have to live.” – Jim Rohn

It’s no secret that regular exercise has an immense impact on mental health; just as significant as the impact on your physical health. There have been countless studies on the topic, but I think the information is still lost on most of us. Some of the most significant benefits of regular exercise include:

Improved sleep. Sleep is essential, and lack of sleep will have a significant impact on both mental and physical health. Lost sleep has also been show to affect the cerebral cortex, which is responsible for focus, concentration, decision-making, reaction time, and more. Once sleep deprivation has reached a certain level (differs from person to person), it has been shown to hinder cognitive response, similarly to what's seen with intoxication.

Any level of regular exercise seems to make for better rest, but vigorous physical activity enhances deep sleep, and deep sleep is where we recover most.

Increased sex drive. I’m pretty sure this one is self-explanatory. I mean really, who doesn’t want a more active and fulfilling sex life?

Increased self-confidence. As strength and endurance increase, you will naturally feel stronger and more capable in life. With regular exercise, people report elevated perception of their own attractiveness and a more positive self-image.

Simply setting a plan and sticking to it automatically gives a sense of accomplishment. And as your body starts changing (increased muscle tone, fat loss, etc.), there’s a natural boost in self-confidence, which will only aid in seeing yourself in a more positive and loving light.

"Strength of mind is exercise, not rest." – Alexander Pope

Stress relief. Exercise is physical stress, so how does physical stress relieve mental stress? Physical exertion does wonders for your stress levels. It increases concentrations of norepinephrine, a chemical that can moderate the brain’s response to stress.

Exercise and sports also provide an opportunity to get away and enjoy some solitude or, if you’re someone who is recharged by being social, it provides an opportunity to make friends and build networks.

I’m the former. I am an introvert by nature, so when I get to the gym, I say hi to the front desk guy, and then the headphones go on and I’m in the zone. I rarely speak to anyone. Not because I don’t like people, but as a stay-at-home-mom, this is literally one of the only times of the day I get to be “alone.” And I need my alone time.

Exercise is also play and recreation; and when your body is busy, your mind will be distracted from the worries of daily life, and will be free to think creatively, or to not think at all.

Stress can have a severely negative impact on your mental and physical health, and is not something to be ignored. You can read more on the negative effects of stress here.

Improvement in mood. Elle Woods said it best, “Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy. Happy people just don’t shoot their husbands, they just don’t.” Girlfriend knew what she was talking about. Exercise does release endorphins, which leads to feelings of happiness and euphoria.

Study after study has shown that regular exercise can reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety. In fact, in some cases regular exercise was just as effective as prescription medication.

Increased energy and stamina. It’s been shown that individuals who exercise regularly are significantly more productive, and have more energy, than their sedentary peers.

Increased mental alertness and memory. Studies have shown that cardiovascular exercise creates new brain cells, and that a tough workout increases levels of a brain-derived protein (known as BDNF) in the body, believed to help with decision making, higher thinking, and learning.

Regular exercise has also been seen to increase the production of cells in the hypocampus, which is the part of the brain responsible for memory and learning.

If you’re new to working out, it’s probably going to feel like more of an exhausting chore than a stress relief, but stay the course. The first 2 weeks are always the most difficult, then suddenly, the day comes when it’s not so difficult. You don’t lose your breath as easily; you’re able to lift a little more weight. Soon it will become something you enjoy, and eventually, something you need.

You just won’t feel right without it.

“An early morning walk is a blessing for the whole day.” – Henry David Thoreau

XOXO –

Jules

How to Deal When Shit Hits the Fan

2015 was a whirlwind year; 

  • My beloved grandfather passed away after a 10-year battle with cancer, and I am so thankful to say I was with him at the end.

  • Discovered I was pregnant.

  • Planned my wedding.

  • Got married.

  • After 5 wonderful year of owning my own personal training business (and 8 years living in LA) I closed up shop and moved to Santa Fe, NM (my husband’s hometown), officially making myself unemployed (for the first time since I was 16).

  • I gave birth to my daughter.

  • I became a stay-at-home-mom who worked from home.

To say I was stressed is an understatement. To combat such major life stressors, or when things are just busier, you have to have a strategy, otherwise that shit can paralyze you. 

“Its not stress that kills us, it is our reaction to it.” – Hans Selye

1) Mindset.

First and foremost, your mindset is everything. Life is 5% what happens to us and 95% how we react to what happens to us. It rarely goes as we have planned. Life is always going to throw obstacles in your path, so you’ve got to have the mental fortitude to adjust and keep pushing forward. 

Life is an adventure my friends, and a beautiful one at that, if you choose to see it that way.

“I love sleep. My life has the tendency to fall apart when I'm awake, you know?” - Ernest Hemingway

2) Sleep 8 hours.

Yes, this might feel impossible when you have a million things to do, but sleep is crucial. I guarantee the fastest way to burn yourself out, get sick, crave nothing but junk food, and generally be miserable and unproductive, is if you skimp on sleep.

Here’s the catch, when you get enough of it, you are actually more productive the following day.

You can read more on the importance of sleep here. – link to sleep blog.

“The time to relax is when you don’t have time for it.” – Sydney J. Harris

3) Exercise for, at minimum, 30 minutes.

The gym is my sanctuary and the weights, my therapist. Time away only makes me feel worse.

“But how can I possibly get a quality workout in 30 min,” you ask? I am the master of the 30 min workout, and it goes a little something like this:

  • 5 min warm up: foam roll and dynamic stretches.

  • 10 min HIIT: treadmill, KB swings, med ball slams, rower… the options are endless.

  • 15 min AMRAP circuit: choose 6-8 exercises, pick your reps, set your timer, and crush it.

Wham. Bam. Thank you ma’am!

“Walking is the best possible exercise. Habituate yourself to walk very far.” - Thomas Jefferson

4) Daily brisk walk.

My favorite time for a walk is first thing in the morning. I brew my coffee and head out the door. The blood flow + caffeine wakes you up and gets those brain cells firing, and it’s going to lead to a much more productive day. 

A daily walk (and regular workouts) is essential to keeping my positive mindset. 

“Suffering is due to our disconnection with the inner soul. Meditation is establishing that connection.” – Amit Ray

5) BONUS! 

Quiet time with stretching, meditation, foam rolling, hot showers/baths, reading, yoga and power naps will make you feel recharged and help to bring back mental focus. Restorative downtime might feel like a luxury, but self-care is of the upmost importance, especially during those high stress times in life.

“Very little is needed to make a happy life; it is all within yourself, in your way of thinking.” - Marcus Aurelius

I made it through, hands down, the craziest year of my life, and I’m a better mother, wife, daughter, sister, friend, and coach for it. Make yourself the priority and you will get through your stressful times with grace and strength.

XOXO –

Jule

How to De-Bloat Quickly

So you over-indulged… Now what? The last thing you should do is feel guilty, or punish yourself with brutal workouts and/or severely restricting food. I happened. Time to move the hell on.

It happens to everyone, even us fitness pros. You go on vacation, attend a wedding, celebrate your birthday, and you don’t stick to your nutritional plan (because you’re human, and life is meant to be enjoyed), and now you’re feeling bloated, lethargic, and gassy. Well, I have good news.

I can help.

I’ve got a few strategies to help you overcome the nutritional debauchery you engaged in. You can use just one, or intermix them, it’s really going to be based on how you feel while doing them.

Fast.

I know, a few lines up I literally said not to punish yourself with severely restricting food, but intention is everything. That bloat you’re experiencing is due to digestive discomfort. You probably ate some foods that were irritating to your digestive tract and now you’re suffering the consequences. Fasting, in this sense, is not meant to be a punishment, but as a way to give your poor body a break from digesting altogether. You can safely fast for 12-36 hrs. If you’re new to fasting, start small. If you have a bit more experience, and already know you feel good while fasting, go for the longer time.

Fasting should make you feel more aware and lighter. It should be a pleasant experience. If you can’t keep your mind off food, are having headaches, and not feeling well; it’s time to break the fast and eat.

Stick to liquids.

This is not my attempt to plug some idiotic juice cleanse. I absolutely do not recommend doing them, (Adam Bornstein sums it up nicely here).

Again, digestive discomfort. Food in liquid form is MUCH easier for your body to digest. I recommend using a high quality protein as your shake base, and then add whole, nutritionally dense foods; fruits, veggies (avoid the cruciferous stuff; broccoli, cabbage, Brussels sprouts), ground flax seed, coconut oil, and cacao nibs.

You’ll be eliminating the irritating foods and giving your digestive system a little help by giving it a liquid diet, rather than actually eating the whole foods.

And hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. The more water, the better.

Helpful supps.

Glutamine and probiotics can both be helpful with bloating. Glutamine has been seen to actually help heal an irritated digestive tract, and the probiotics bring the good bacteria back to your gut, which will help get things moving again.

Cut the crap.

Stick to foods you know make your belly feel good. Any foods you know cause distress, you should avoid as much as possible, but at the very least, for the next few days after you overindulged. Keep your sodium intake to a minimum as well.

I hope you find these strategies useful, as travel and wedding season are upon us. Go out there, eat clean, train hard, and enjoy your indulgences when they occur. Don’t let them set you back.

XOXO –

JULES