Can you Thrive through the Holidays?

I wanted to write a holiday “survival”-esque blog post  based on the mental health check-in I did with my virtual wellness community. I saw a dramatic response that most people are struggling this time of year and not necessarily feeling merry and bright. So I took to the internet to see what others have done. Every article that I read for inspiration and research said how to “survive” the holidays. I understand that it is supposed to be a joyous time but also is a difficult time for a lot of people. But is that really the standard we want to set for ourselves? Merely surviving?

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There is often a battle happening inside of me. The darkness vs. the light. Usually the LIGHT wins. I’m not sure exactly what has programmed me to be this way but I know that my life and my holiday season is about much more than just surviving. Sometimes, some days, some seasons,  that is really all you can do. I completely understand that especially looking back to the days in my past I was full of grief and heartbreak. But I think to stay fixed in a mentality that surviving is what you are consistently doing is a serious disservice to yourself, others and our world as a whole.

I do want to give you some tips and reminders to take care of yourself just a little bit more this holiday season. If that means survival for your circumstance then that is what you can call it. But as I was watching another episode of Red Table Talk (if you haven’t watched head to Facebook right now and get on it) with Kid Cudi on mental health and a few things stuck out to me. Jada Pinkett Smith shared that sometimes all you can do is lean on something that “keeps your head above water.” I totally agree. But you can’t live there. You can’t stay there. She also said in the episode, “testimony is so much more powerful than advice.” I agree. So here is my testimony.

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Joking. Kinda. Here’s more of what helps me thrive…

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WCW: Jaclyn DiGregorio

It’s the last month of 2019 and I have some catching up to do with my #WCW series. So for the month of December I am going to feature a new woman crush of mine every week! The Women Crush Wednesday hashtag and social media trend is nothing new. But I am trying to reclaim that title not just for half naked celebrities or women you actually know nothing about. The women I crush over are using their womenhood, their voice and their passions to make our world brighter. I have some incredible women in my life so I am honored to share them with you. I hope you find them as inspiring as I do.

Meet Jaclyn.

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Jaclyn and I connected on Instagram! I instantly loved her vibe and was very inspired by the content she shared. We arranged a phone call so I could learn a bit more about her business and she could learn about mine. Since then I have followed Jaclyn’s journey on the road of solo entrepreneurship on social media and have been so impressed by her strong messages about diet culture and intuitive eating.

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Getting Back on the Wagon

I am announcing this secret to the world again: There is NO WAGON.

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I made a post on Instagram about this and I got a lot of feedback so I just did an IGTV about it too! Why not throw in a blog post? In my post and my IGTV, I was relating this to fitness. This time of year Halloween- New Years people throw a giant blanket of excuses called “the holidays.” I can eat that… it’s the holidays. I don’t have to workout … it’s the holidays. I can drink five days a week…it’s the holidays. I don’t need to save money… it’s the holidays. And come January every decides they need to get back on that healthy wagon. But my secret is THERE IS NO WAGON. There is no wagon for health and fitness and there is no wagon for life. Ebbs and flows are natural. Last year around this time I wrote a blog about the concept of tilting, and told you that balance doesn’t really exist.

I am still singing the same tune. This concept is not to make excuses for poor choices around the holidays, but because being at peace with a life that is not linear is the most liberating gift you can give yourself this holiday season. Ups and downs are inevitable. Weight fluctuation is inevitable. You can’t go too far one way or the other without paying the consequences but veering off course a little bit each way is acceptable, normal, and just HUMAN for goodness sake. Instead of relating it all to health and fitness, I’ll show you an example of there being NO WAGON when it comes to your creative pursuits (in my case, my blog but for you it may be song writing, painting, jewelry making, or pole dancing.)

Every year since I have started my blog in 2013, I have started the next year thinking “This year is the YEAR! I am going to become and A+ blogger, I’ll write a blog at least once a week, reformat my website, include vlogs, master Pinterest, learn SEOs and knock it out of the park!” I’m reminded every year that: 

  1. That’s not why I started my blog
  2. I don’t do well with pressure, self inflicted or not
  3. I have a successful coaching business & my blog hasn’t ever been used to make me money..AND it doesn’t have to be
  4. It’s really hard to write soulfully every week on top of the other content I produce for my social media platforms
  5. My blog= my rules.

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When Does Grief End?

Every year, October 30th creeps up and every year it stings just as badly. Immediately I turn to my words as a place of comfort and solace.  I woke up this morning and immediately started clicking away at my keyboard snuggled in my childhood bed (I’m visiting my parents in New York from England.) The sense of grief is overwhelming today. October 30th is the day one of my very best childhood friends took her own life at the tender age of 16. 12 years have passed. Every day grief is present but I’m sure anyone who has lost someone very close to them, anniversaries present a fresh wound each and every year.

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Corey’s life and story has been such a driving force for my own life. I talk about her all the time. I tell her story. I advocate for mental health. I spread the message of hope far and wide. Unfortunately, this does not bring my very goofy, kind and fun loving friend back. It doesn’t replace the years we have lost. I never stop wondering who she would be now and what awesome memories we would have made. I never stop worrying about her sweet parents. I never stop feeling guilty.

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Nothing makes me more frustrated than when people tell others who are grieving that it’s time to “move on” or “get over it.” I live a very full life. I have incredible friends and a partner who I want to spend my future with, a loving family, a career and business I am building from the ground up and travel stories for days. I have lived such a beautiful life because as soon as I lost my best friend at 16, I was taken into grief and survival mode. Some people get angry, depressed, lonely, desperate. I drank through a lot of the sadness but I also WOKE UP.

 I knew that life was short and that it was my duty to life it to the fullest. It was my job. Despite the overwhelming grief I knew I had to “cherish every day” (which I got tattooed on my foot.) It doesn’t mean the grief isn’t there, it means I’ve done something with it. I didn’t get over my grief, I used it to shape me into a kinder, more passionate, let’s do it right-fricken-now kind of person. So, I proudly have never gotten over the traumatic loss of my best friend, I have carried it with me and learned how to grieve and live simultaneously. Something that continues to be a work in progress.

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WCW: Yasmin Muzil

I’m making it a September to Remember. So the #WCW series is BACK! The Women Crush Wednesday hashtag and social media trend is nothing new. But I am trying to reclaim that title not just for half naked celebrities or women you actually know nothing about. The women I crush over are using their womenhood, their voice and their passions to make our world brighter. I have some incredible women in my life so I am honored to share them with you. I hope you find them as inspiring as I do.

Meet Yaz.

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Yaz and I met in Australia at a random hostel in a tiny beach town called Mission Beach. My brother, Jackie and I had been backpacking the east coast of Australia for almost a month and when I came to Scotty’s I was ready to relax, detox and recharge. I will never forget the moment I heard Yaz’ strong welsh accent and saw her flopping into the pool. I could tell right away she had a personality that was larger than life. We got to know each other quickly and spent a magical 24 hours on Fitzroy Island together with my older brother. It was a day I can never forget. It seems to last a whole week in my memory and I knew that day Yaz would definitely be a friend forever.

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Our traveling paths took us separate ways but we finally reunited when I came back to the U.K. with Harry last year. Since then we have just strengthened our bond and have so many exciting things planned for the future. I’ll let her take it from here!

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How to get the Perfect Body

I didn’t start my fitness journey to lose weight. I’ve never had an eating disorder. I’ve never felt like I had a true voice in the fitness community because of these two factors. That might sound dramatic to you, but if you’re in the fitness industry you know these are commonly the catalyst for change.

So if you’ve come here looking for the perfect body… SPOILER ALERT. It doesn’t exist. Our bodies are amorphous.

My body is pretty freakin’ incredible (SO IS YOURS.) But I’m 28 now, my metabolism ain’t what it used to be,  I get hungover from one glass of wine, the nail lady asks me if I want to wax my lip (ummm.. I don’t think I need to?) and here I am owning the shit out of being a millennial 20 something- with an online side hustle, an equal love for fitness and spirituality, a bad case of wanderlust and a not so traditional journey to a healthy life.

I am proud of my body. I have always had a pretty healthy relationship with my body but I definitely went through a phase in college with the thinner the better mentality. I restricted calories and did boat loads of cardio and thought that’s exactly what it meant to be healthy. I felt like I got judged for being “naturally skinny” and I was definitely influenced by the culture of criticism that women that age have regarding their body. I also abused my body with typical college antics, heavy drinking and late night pizza fests. I didn’t have a good sleep routine or really know why my exercise was such an important component of my life. 

Today I am proud of who I am. Yes, I can say openly that means I am proud of what I look like but mostly I am proud of what I feel like. This has not been an easy journey. No I didn’t want to lose weight but I did need to rework my relationship with food, exercise, alcohol and drugs and most importantly my mental health. This year I did the hardest 13 week workout program I have ever done and  I shared every step of the journey. Afterward I felt a bit of burn-out and started to question why I started this journey and what level of discipline and commitment I felt was the most suitable for my overall health and happiness. I think we should ALL constantly question ourselves in a few ways. Why am I doing this? Is it making me happy? Am I getting results? Am I enjoying my life? 

In June I was gifted an incredible secret location branding photoshoot by a fellow entrepreneur I met in an online blogging community. When I did this photoshoot I was not at my leanest and meanest. It was on the tail end of the 4 months I spent in limbo in America waiting for my visa for the U.K. to be approved.I traveled for 6 weeks straight. I celebrated life. I drank cocktails and ate donuts and I definitely had more than my fair share of treat meals. I won’t lie to you, I went from the physical best shape of my life after the 3 month intense program to a serious “YOLO” period (as I lovingly call it.)

When I got the pictures back I started to pick out flaws and “softer bits.” Man..I used to have muscle there! I’ve had better abs. I just look the same I’m not making gains. Even though I love myself. Even though I know that my physical aesthetic has nothing to do with my actual health and strength and happiness. It is deeply ingrained in us to criticize our perception of our appearance and compare it to our former selves, our #bodygoals or just imaginary ideals we have constructed.  

But I quickly stopped and I looked at the strength. The confidence. The lack of makeup. The light in my eyes. It is not my goal or desire to be “stage ready” 365 days a year. It’s not my goal to ever be stage ready. These pictures have captured me doing things I love, being free from what I think I “should” look like for a photoshoot. And please don’t get offended, telling me I look great or you don’t see it. The point is we ALL see the flaws in ourselves that no one else would dream of picking out. We may start to pick them out but we also have the power to stop those thoughts dead in their tracks.

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Let’s Celebrate: International Self Care Day

In honor of International Self Care Day I am taking care of my soul the best way I know how. I haven’t felt quite like myself in months. My business partner and I had a video chat yesterday and as I opened up to her and we quickly realized what was missing for me. As I sat down on the train this morning ideas started pouring out of me and I realized that I haven’t written a “headspace” article in so long or really any blogs AT ALL! 

I won’t lie, for a writer, I suck at sticking to weekly blog posts. Why? I create content every single day for my social media. I create content to mentor my coaching team and in my wellness groups. I create lesson plans & writing activities for my classroom. I often justify not sitting down to write because I know I can’t spread myself too thin and I need to keep the main thing the main thing. I need to focus on tasks that push my business forward.

But I when I discuss mental health, self-care, self-love, and doing what you love- I am immediately drawn back to my words. If you are a writer you understand. If you are a dancer you understand. If you feel called to any creative expression, you understand. Simply put, when I don’t write, I don’t feel like myself. When I don’t feel like myself sometimes I don’t write. Sometimes the very thing that seems the most difficult is exactly what you need.

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We Can Do Hard Things: Week 8

Week 8 Operation Obsessed (1)

I can’t believe phase two is over. Honestly, it has been much more exciting of an experience than I thought it would be. I have never committed to something for this amount of time before and although I am very consistent without this type of intense program, this has taken my discipline to a whole new level. Here is my latest vlog recapping the past two months.

I have worked SO HARD for the past 52 days– I’m not sure how many of you have been following my whole journey but I took on a BRAND NEW 80 day workout & nutrition program. It’s no joke but I feel stronger than I ever have and I feel so proud of the discipline I have cultivated. What have I learned so far about health & really about life?

1. GOING ALL IN is the only way to GO! You gotta say I’m gonna do this NO MATTER WHAT if you want to do anything. 2. FOOD FEAR IS REAL. I am eating SO MUCH (of the right things)  and I am loosing inches and getting the body I’ve always wanted.
3. Discipline creates freedom. It’s much harder for me to NOT follow a plan. I love having a plan.
4. Alcohol is not so great. Being without it for 52 days (minus ONE SINGULAR  pint of Guinness in Ireland) has been AWESOME.
5. Your progress might be slow. It might look different than everyone else but if you are making progress DON’T STOP.
6. Our body and mind are so closely intertwined it’s SCARY! My mind is stronger than it’s ever been because my body is.
7. Celebrating victories doesn’t have to be with food- there are so many other ways to celebrate.
8. Self care is critical. YOUR HEALTH SHOULD BE YOUR NUMBER ONE PRIORITY.
9. Doing what you said you would do feels damn good.
10. YOU CAN DO IT TOO

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Oh, We’re Halfway There: Week 7

Week 7 Operation Obsessed

I can’t believe I am writing this half way through our 13 weeks. Halfway doesn’t even seem that far but seriously the time has flown and I have grown leaps and bounds, mentally, physically and emotionally.  Here is a my vlog recap to get you up to speed! 

Honestly, I’ve found it hard to write and take photos every single week. I’m not sure why but mentally I’ve been in a place where I don’t feel like much is happening in my body day to day. I feel like my results aren’t “worthy” of sharing because I didn’t have 20 or 30 pounds to lose. It’s scary to put yourself out there when you know how hard you are working and people discredit, criticize or dismiss your hard work. But honestly, I know how much work I have put in. I know the level of commitment I’ve kept and how hard I’ve been pushing every single workout. Everyday I show up. I’ve been feeling fabulous. I’ve been following the plan. And my confidence and self love is through the roof. That alone is reason enough to celebrate.  If you do want more of that behind the scenes make sure you join me on Instagram. Instastories  is a slice of daily workout moves and recipe ideas (you want them follow me there @ensusiasm)

The creator of this program said that Phase 2 is designed for “building” and I am lifting heavy weights and eating a lot of food. To be totally transparent with you I felt like I wasn’t seeing progress anymore and I was feeling a bit “fluffy” or feared that I was hitting a plateau. I felt like I was working so hard but maybe it wasn’t worth it? Then I saw my progress pictures.

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