Breath Work, Health and Wellness, Limiting Beliefs, Mental Health, Mindfulness, Mindset, Overcoming Self Doubt, Personal Development, Perspective, Self Awareness, Self Care, Self-Love, Self-Worth

April Monthly Newsletter – Your Breath can Heal

Did you know that you have the power to heal yourself? Yes, you! You have the power within you to heal yourself from stress, anxiety, overwhelm and ailments. 
 
For so long we’ve been shown and told that in order to heal, we must take medication or we must seek something outside of ourselves; when in reality, we have everything we need within us. It comes down to something so simple, so natural and so essential to our existence: our breath.
 
Take a minute, sit back and recognize how you are currently breathing. Are you breathing into your belly or your chest? Is your breath long and slow? Or short and fast? Are you holding your breath? Is it irregular? Do you breathe in through your nose or your mouth? 
 
Anxiety, stress, or overwhelm is simply energy in our body. If we can learn to regulate our breath, we can learn to regulate and shift from our sympathetic nervous system (fight or flight) to our parasympathetic nervous system (rest and digest). 
 
When our bodies are in a constant state of stress our blood is typically acidic due to the increase in CO2 in our body. The increase in the CO2 in our body is due to our poor breathing habits. When our blood is acidic, it is an optimal environment for disease. 
 
Over the next month, I will be writing all about breath work: how it has made a massive impact on my life, overcoming my limiting beliefs and healing my childhood wounds. How it can optimize your health in regard to your immunity, respiratory and cardiovascular health, as well as mental health. How it can have an impact on how you pursue your days; one breath at a time.
 
That’s right, I am a certified breath work instructor and it’s time to show you the positive impact your breath can have on YOU.
 
It’s time to start healing ourselves, from the inside out? You in? Let’s go!

Health and Wellness, Mental Health, Nutrition, Self-Care, Self-Love, Self-Worth

Maintaining your Mental Health during the Holidays

I can only speak from experience. I can only share with you the things that I do to maintain stability when it comes to the stress, overwhelm and sometimes chaos of the holidays. When it comes to maintaining my health: mental, emotional and physical during a very special time of year, it’s about consistency. I consistently pursue the habits that I have pursued all year that have served me well. 

            Movement – I came to a realization when I lived out in San Francisco, circa 2010/2011. It was Christmas morning, my family was on the East Coast and the only plan I had that day was to work. Needless to say, I was feeling a little down. Until I realized and thought, ‘why don’t I do something I love doing.’ So, I laced up my shoes and hit the streets of San Francisco in the warm West Coast air and had an amazing Christmas morning run. Never before have I ‘worked out’ on a holiday. Prior to this day, my mindset around ‘working out’ on a holiday was, ‘well it’s a holiday, why would I kick my ass on a day that is meant for rest and celebration.’ On this day in San Francisco, I realized and thought, ‘why wouldn’t I do something I love on one of my favorite days of the year?!’ It was this day that completely shifted my perspective about moving my body on any and all holidays. Obviously, moving my body is not always fun. Sometimes it’s frustrating, upsetting, angering or just downright boring BUT EVERY TIME I am done moving my body, I feel grateful that I did it. I encourage you, even on the holiday, even around the holidays, continue to move your body. My assumption is that although it may be hard to put on those shoes you will feel empowered when you’re done!

            Nutrition – 2020 has been a big year in regard to my nutrition and how it can impact my mental, emotional and physical health. In May/June of this year, I found myself slipping into another postpartum depression. It was scary, unsettling and very challenging for me and my family. When I spoke with my doctor, he discussed anti-depressant medications with me, supplements and shifting some of my day-to-day routines. I refused to go on medication again for the depression because of the experience I had with medications previously. So I opted to look at my lifestyle and make some significant changes. One of those significant changes was my nutrition. Since June, my family and I have been eating 85-90% plant-based diet and what I will say is this: my anxiety is hardly there. My depression is gone. My energy has improved. My focus is better. My evening brain fog is also better. I’m not saying this is the answer for everyone, however I am saying that what we put into our bodies: processed food, refined sugar, dairy, meat, fried foods, alcohol, medications etc. all have a SIGNIFICANT impact on the way we feel. During the holidays, the way in which I will focus on my nutrition is to continue with this new way of eating with flexibility and I advise you to do the same. Continue your good eating habits throughout the holidays with some flexibility. Yes, I will eat the turkey, stuffing, my mom’s homemade rolls and dessert, but the next day, I will be right back on my plan that helps me feel my best, because if I can feel good, I can show up well for all the people and things in my life. 

            Sleep – This is NOT the first time I have talked about sleep – it’s crucial to our health. It impacts almost every tissue in our body and impacts growth and stress hormones, our immune system, appetite, breathing, blood pressure and cardiovascular health. During the holidays, make sure you’re getting adequate sleep, at least 7-9 hours per night. And if you have a bedtime routine, stay consistent with it. Continue to go to bed and wake up at the same time as you have been, especially if it helps you to feel good! This consistency will keep you on track. 

These are a few of my recommendations about maintaining your mental health during the holidays and any other time of the year. You can’t be healthy if your mind isn’t healthy. Take care of you and the rest will fall into place.

Fitness, Goals, Health and Wellness, Personal Development, Pursuing your dreams, Self-Care, Self-Love, Self-Worth

When you Hit A Lull in Your Progress

I’m sure you’ve heard it before and maybe you have even experienced it before; you’ve committed to your wellness, optimizing your health and shifting your trajectory towards chronic illness, and then suddenly nothing seems to be shifting. You’re feeling more fatigued and with little energy. Your blood work stops improving or your weight loss hits a plateau. It happens more often than not. Here are some reasons for it: the body adapts to the training/changes, people stop following their nutrition or fitness plans after a few months, and/or the metabolism slows down if a person loses weight quickly.  Here are a few ways you can kickstart things again:

  • Log your food – Tedious? Yes, but necessary for mindful eating. Just do it. 🙂
  • Increase exercise frequency or intensity – If you’ve been stuck on a cardio kick, implement some weight training. If you’ve been performing only weight training, implement 15-30 minutes per day of cardiovascular exercise that you enjoy. Consider increasing the number of repetitions, increasing the weight or increasing the number of exercises completed in a given timeframe. 
  • Assess your sleep – Sleep is KEY when it comes to our health. Sleep keeps our heart healthy, reduces our risk for obesity, and strengthens our immune system. The goal is 7-9 hours per night, with the same bedtime and wakeup time each day. 
  • Manage your stress – Consider deep breathing, meditation, music or any other stress management interventions that you can implement to calm you down when you’re revving up. Being in a state of chronic stress can impact hormonal changes that lead to an increased appetite. Stress can stimulate gherlin, an appetite enhancer and reduce the sensitivity of leptin, an appetite suppressant. Stress can literally shut of the signals to your brain about when to stop eating.
  • Bring on the fiber – Research shows that many people in the United States eat only half of the daily recommended amount of fiber. Implement small changes: add an additional fruit or vegetable each day for benefits such as: reduced inflammation, lower cholesterol, blood sugar control, plus bowel regularity!

Any lull in progress can be discouraging. However, it can also be an opportunity for continued growth, adaptation and progression. Barriers will come and go – choose to see them as opportunities vs. obstacles. 

Relationships, Self-Care, Self-Love, Self-Worth

Watch Your Words

Improving your Connection

Last week, we looked at this idea that the partner/mate we choose, resembles both the positive and negative traits in our caregivers when we were children. We identified that we are attracted to our partners when it comes to them having both the positive and negative traits of our childhood caregivers, because our old brain is seeking reparation from our childhood wounds. We choose someone that has the ability to help heal our childhood wounds or hurt/worsen these wounds.
 
According to Harville Hendrix and Helen LaKelly Hunt, authors of Getting the Love you Want, the following are tactful tools to help you heal childhood wounds, optimize communication and connection with your partner, and to be in a loving, safe relationship.
 

  • Narrowing your Exits – often times partners tend to fall into a habit of “avoiding each other.” Whether it be through staying late at the office, scrolling social media, watching tv, reading romance novels etc., these habits are considered “exits.” And often times have become a typical scene for a couple because of anger and fear. Anger because of wish fulfillment – you’ve set up an expectation that your partner will fill the void of your childhood wound and fear because you see them, subconsciously as an enemy – “any person…who is perceived by the old brain to be a source of need gratification and then appears to be withholding that gratification is cataloged as a source of pain, and pain raises the specter of death.” The recommendation is this: narrow your exits gradually. Eliminate one of your exits, the easiest to eliminate and use that extra time to work on putting your feelings/emotions into words and communicating with your partner.

  • Imago Dialogue – developing a new way of communicating with your partner, knowing your partner, connecting with your partner and developing a conscious partnership broken down into three steps. First and foremost, before entering into this type of conversation, ensure that it’s an appropriate time for both individuals.
    •  Mirroring – a sender will make a statement. The receiver of the statement with restate the sentence word-for-word or paraphrase and then ask if the message was received correctly. Then the receiver of the message can state, “is there more about that?” This gives the sender an opportunity to elaborate, if needed.
    • Validating – this is an opportunity to affirm the internal logic of each other’s remark, “what you’re saying makes sense to me. I can see how you were thinking and why you would think that way.”
    • Empathizing – “’ to feel as one with.’ When you and your partner are empathic with each other, you are as emotionally close as two people can be.

  • Caring Behaviors – this concept takes into account each partner writing down lists of ways their partners can please them. Not only does this eliminate the idea that our partners can read our minds, but it also allows your partner to know exactly what you want. When developing the list and setting number goals for the day/week, this takes out the tit-for-tat mentality. “Most relationships are run like a commodities market, with loving behaviors the coin in trade. But this kind of “love” does not sit well with the old brain. If John rubs Martha’s shoulders in the hope that she will let him spend the day going fishing, a built-in sensor in Martha’s head goes: Look out! Price tag attached. There is no reason to feel good about this gift, because I’ll have to pay for it later.’ Unconsciously, she rejects John’s attentions, because she knows that they were designed for his benefit, not hers.”

 
These are just some of the useful ways you can develop a compassionate and exceptional relationship. 
 
When it comes to watching our words, the things we say, the way in which we say them and the impact our words can have on others, can be detrimental. And the thing about our words, especially the hurtful ones, typically come from a place of our own hurt; our own wound. Watch your words, you and your partner are worthy of healing.

Check out the book: Getting the Love You Want by Harville Hendrix and Helen LaKelly Hunt

Mental Health, Relationships, Self-Care, Self-Love, Self-Worth

Watch Your Words

Partner Edition – Part 1

I want to preface this email by saying this: if you are a parent to a young child, don’t freak out, my assumption is that you’re doing the best that you can; just keep doing that. If you are a parent to an adult child, don’t freak out, my assumption is that you did the best that you could; they will heal. 
 
If you are reading this, I want you to read it with your childhood in mind. This is not about blame, this is about allowing space between your actions and reactions today and assessing why you act and do the things you do, especially when it comes to your partner. 
 
Research shows that the person you are most likely to fall in love with is someone who has both the positive and negative traits of your parents. Your old brain is seeking reparation from someone who resembles the very people who were the source of most of your childhood challenges. The reason the unconscious is trying to resurrect the past is not a matter of habit or blind compulsion, but of a compelling need to heal old childhood wounds. (Take a minute to think of your partner and how this person could be similar to your parents).
 
Many children experience a rupture in their connection with their caregivers. For whatever reason, their caregiver failed to satisfy their basic needs for safety, affection and/or stability. 
 
Being raised, we were taught, told and shown that there were certain thoughts and feelings that were appropriate, certain natural behaviors that we had to extinguish and certain talents and aptitudes we had to deny. We observed the choices our “parents made, the freedoms and pleasures they allowed themselves, the talents they develop, the abilities they ignored and the rules they followed…’This is how we live. This is how to get through life.’” These early childhood observations and teachings play a significant role in mate selection and is often a hidden source of tension in married life. 
 
When you choose a partner or a mate and decide to get married, the primary expectation (subconsciously/unconsciously) is that your partner is going to love and care for you the way your parents never did. We enter our love relationship with emotional scars from our childhood and we unknowingly choose partners who resemble our caregivers. The unconscious selection process has brought together two people who can either hurt each other or heal each other, depending on their willingness to grow and change. 
 
Fraud says that when we start to receive the love we long for from our partner, we experience pleasure and fear. We enjoy the way our partner is expressing love, while simultaneously feeling undeserving of it. Subconsciously, we feel we don’t deserve it; a part of us believes that in accepting the positive behavior, we are violating a powerful taboo. We are violating a limiting belief that we’ve held on to most of our life.
 
When we receive the love we so deeply desire, we eventually find a way to deny it: picking a fight, shutting down, expressing criticism etc.. We deny it because of these subconscious feelings and thoughts that we don’t deserve it. It is in this moment that we have the opportunity to start to heal our childhood wounds or enhance and strengthen them.
 
With that being said, many of our repetitious, emotional criticisms of our partner are disguised statements of our own unmet needs! Those criticisms of our partner may actually help us identify our lost self.
 
I am breaking this email into two weeks because there’s so much depth to it and a lot to unpack. Most of this information is from the classic book: Getting the Love you Want by Harville Hendrix. Next week we’ll explore ways to heal your childhood wound through your relationship with your partner. 
 
Stay tuned!

Health and Wellness, Mental Health, Mindfulness, Mindset, Personal Development, Self-Love

Watch Your Words – Self Talk

Negative self-talk has been a prominent topic in many discussions with my clients. Negative self-talk stems from limiting beliefs, poor confidence, unidentified or low self-worth and judgement.
 
Negative self-talk can take on many forms, but the way I see it the most:

  • looking in the mirror and berating the body
  • not celebrating efforts and success
  • deeming a job well done “not good enough”
  • leaving a conversation wondering if something you said was “wrong”
  • questioning self-judgement and decision(s)

The thing about negative self-talk is that we weren’t born this way. We didn’t come out of the womb berating our bodies, deeming our journey through the birth canal not good enough or questioning our judgement to leave the womb. We entered into this world full of curiosity, wonderment, and a hunger for life. Through most of our early years, we live without inhibition. We inherit our negative self-talk and the voice inside our head; it was never ours to begin with. The way we speak to ourselves, likely similar, repetitive thoughts and ideas, was given to use as we grew into children and young adults.

So, my question for you is, how do you speak to yourself?

  • Do you speak encouragingly or discouragingly? 
  • Do you celebrate your effort and success or do you think of all the ways you could have done better?
  • Do you shame and guilt yourself for something you might have said wrong, when in fact there was nothing wrong about what you said? 

You cannot love thy neighbor until you love thyself. You cannot pour from an empty cup until you fill your own. You cannot fully love the people you want to love and treat them with respect until you do the same for yourself. 

Whatever your version of negative self-talk looks like: the mirror, the job not good enough, questioning your judgement – give yourself some grace and realize that you’re doing the best you can. And if you can do better, then do better.

TIPS and TRICKS:

  • Presence and Awareness – you can’t be aware of your negative self-talk if you are not present or aware of when it happens.
  • Keep track – take an entire day to write down your thoughts in real time – observe the ratio between encouraging vs. discouraging thoughts. 
  • “Watch Your Words” – a quick and easy statement to remind yourself that you are not the voice inside your head and you do not have to believe everything that voice tells you. 

EXAMPLES:

  • “I hate my stomach.” Watch your words. “I love my smile, it’s bright and nice. My stomach nourished, held and developed my babies and it’s a goddamn blessing.”
  • “I should have spent more time on section B of that presentation, I don’t think they understood what I was talking about, they looked confused.” Watch your words. “I spent a lot of time preparing this presentation. I presented it in a way that was clear, concise and well thought out. I gave all the employees my contact information so if they have further questions and/or didn’t understand, they have the means to reach out. I did everything I could and it was enough. Their look of confusion was not a reflection on me as an individual.”

TAKE AWAY:

Ultimately, watch your words. You have the ability to change your habitual thoughts and negative self-talk, it will take practice, patience and effort. The way we speak to ourselves is the most powerful tool we have. Continue to nourish your mind, heart and soul with communication that allows you to grow and flourish and not shrink into a state of smallness.

Treat yourself with the same, if not more, respect than you give to thy neighbor. You deserve it. 

Goals, Health and Wellness, Mental Health, Self-Care, Self-Love, Self-Worth

Five Week Virtual Program!

Success and victoryGuess what?!

Hey All –

I took this ‘stay home, stay safe’ time as an opportunity to create something new – a five week virtual program! This five week program is designed to help you build awareness, be more mindful and pursue your days with more intentionality. It is up to you to recognize that you can stick to anything you set your mind to and succeed. What do you think, do you want to dedicate five weeks to becoming a more intentional version of yourself? Let me know!

Email Me!

Health and Wellness, Self-Love

April Newsletter

A Little Lightness

Okay, I think we all need a little something uplifting right about now. What do you think? Jokes? I’m horrible at jokes. Funny stories about me? How about some things you may not know about me? No limits… okay, why not! Here we go!

  • When I was younger, one of my good friends and I would make videos. My name was Max and her name was Dusty – we would create cooking shows (which would end in flour fights), getting dressed on our way to work (has anyone seen that Bean episode? We basically recreated it) and being stranded on an island among many many other scenarios. We thought they were absolutely hilarious, and honestly thinking back to them… I still laugh.
  • I love to dance. I was on our hip-hop dance team for my senior year in high school and I absolutely loved it. I took a hip-hop dance class when I lived in Boston and I’ve been searching for a good hip-hop dance class around here, but have yet to find one…so if anyone knows of one, let me know!
  • I’ve lived in Boston, San Francisco and Philadelphia. I also studied abroad and lived in Rome, Italy for a semester. I have traveled to the following places: Florence, Venice, Napoli, Barcelona, Madrid, Dublin, London, Liverpool, Stockholm, Vienna, Athens, San Juan, Grand Turks, St. Thomas, Bahamas, Costa Maya, Costa Rica, Panama, Montego Bay, Jamaica, Antigua, Dominican Republic, and Alaska. I have also driven across the country.
  • I ran the 2013 Boston Marathon, the year of the bombing. I truly believe that my grandparents were pushing me forward every step I took that day. If I had it my way, I would have stopped many many times, but I never did. I crossed that finish line approximately 19 minutes before the bomb went off.
  • For my senior year challenge, I wanted to learn how to play the piano and write/sing my own song. So I did. I performed it as part of my presentation. I played that piano and sang my heart out. It was one of the scariest things I’ve ever done… talk about vulnerability.
  • When I went wine tasting in Napa Valley, CA with a whole crew of people, I drank too much and threw up in the van on the ride home… whoops – not my finest moment.
  • I once wanted to be a war journalist, I wanted to go into the most dangerous areas and report on it.
  • I absolutely love photography and working in a darkroom.
  • I started writing when I was in high school and currently write every single day.
  • I have two bachelor degrees – Communication/Journalism and Nursing.
  • I have been skydiving and it was one of the most amazing experiences of my life.
  • I love dirt bikes, snow machines, and four wheelers – if it has speed, I want to take it for a spin!
  • I’m obsessed with the Ace Ventura movies – so much so that I have acted them out – theatrics and all – MANY times. ALLLLLRIGHTY THEN!

There’s so much more, but I think that’s a good start. I hope this brought you a little joy, a little happiness and a break from all that’s going on. Stay healthy, Ashley.

Health and Wellness, Self-Love, Self-Worth

December Newsletter – Self-Worth

Self-Worth – what is your worth?

Webster defines self-worth as “the sense of one’s own value or worth as a person.” What is your perception of your worth? Is it: I’m worth more than this? I’m not worthy of that? I will always be unhealthy? I can get healthy? I won’t succeed?

Often, our perceived value or self-worth is based on the stories and limiting beliefs we tell ourselves. I won’t succeed. I’m unhealthy. I’m not good enough.

The thing about these limiting beliefs is that when we attempt for something more: a healthier lifestyle, a job promotion, a better grade on an exam, a better race time – if our limiting belief is: I’m not good enough, I won’t succeed – we will likely not achieve our goal. When our results start to exceed our limiting belief, we often start to self-sabotage.

Let me give you an example: I want to live a healthier lifestyle, which for me is about working out daily, obtaining a healthy weight for my size, choosing healthy and supportive relationships, sleeping well, feeling energetic and being optimistic. Let’s say my limiting belief is, “I am unworthy of good things.” I start my pursuit of a healthier lifestyle: I start to lose the weight, feel happier, more energetic, my relationships are flourishing, and my sense of well-being has completely shifted. My results are exceeding my limiting belief of, “I am unworthy of good things.” This is when I am likely to start self-sabotaging. How would I do this? I may stop working out. I choose the chocolate instead of the salad. I stay up too late mindlessly scrolling or watching TV. I pick fights with the people in my life. By doing this, I then match my results to my limiting belief. My overall sense of well-being suffers, and I find myself right back where I started which reinforces my belief of “I am unworthy of good things.”

Can you think of a time in your life where this has happened to you? Maybe with a weight loss journey? You start to lose the weight, have a slight stall in the weight loss and then revert back to your old habits because your perceived worth or belief is “I will never lose the weight,” “I will always be unhealthy.”

How do we overcome and change our perceived self-worth when it is not serving us? The first thing is to recognize your limiting belief(s), the second thing is to change the story and the third thing is to surround yourself with people that have a higher perceived self-worth than you.

Our limiting beliefs and believed self-worth can affect our identity. Are your limiting beliefs serving you or sabotaging your efforts?

 

Goals, Health and Wellness, Pursuing your dreams, Self Awareness, Self Care, Self-Love

How to: Navigate the Holidays with your Health in Mind

Christmas sport composition with  shoes, dumbbells and note

This is one of my favorite times of the year. The weather change, the football, the family time and the coziness that accompanies the holidays. The sweet scents of Thanksgiving dinner and the Christmas tree, the Macy’s Day parade – just everything… I love it – I always have.

A few things that come along with the holidays are: homecooked meals, sweets and treats, maybe more alcohol indulgence and a lot of time visiting and sitting with family. It becomes an easy time to hibernate and neglect the effort you have put in towards your health and wellness all year. How do you navigate the holidays with your health in mind so you’re not starting over again when the new year hits?

Here are a few ways I like to navigate the holidays while keeping my health in mind:

  • Mindfulness and awareness – I find that if I am distracted by the television, visiting, playing games or just caught up in the joy of the season, I am more likely to mindlessly eat. Being aware of this is the first step. The second step is to acknowledge if I am reaching for the muddy buddies because I’m hungry or because they’re there. When I stop and ask myself this question, it gives me a moment to pause and tune into my body. Most of the time, I am reaching for the food/drink because I am caught up in the joy and fun of my surroundings. Being mindful and aware of your hunger cues and triggers for overindulging is essential for maintaining your focus and efforts towards a healthier version of you. What triggers you to keep reaching for the food and drink? Endless talking? Family stress? Personal insecurities? Recognize this, pause in the moment and make the best choice for you and your health.
  • A bit of bargaining – I enjoy sweet treats and I enjoy a nice glass of wine. When it comes to the holidays, in order for me to stay on track towards my health and wellness, I find myself bargaining. I’ll have that piece of pie, but I won’t have a glass of wine. I’ll have that homecooked roll, but I won’t have any green bean casserole. I’ll have that salad so I can indulge in a dessert. I find myself picking and choosing so I can stay energized, focused and present with my family and friends.
  • Continued Effort –  In the past, I have used this time of year as an excuse to not move my body or choose healthy options for myself. However, within the past 10 years, I have recognized that if I continue my effort towards staying active and choosing healthier options for me, it is much easier to stay on track or to get back on track if I have a slight indulgence or deviation. When I get in a morning workout, I set myself up for a great day; why wouldn’t I do something that helps me feel good and that I love on one of my favorite days or during my favorite time of year? Pursue that good feeling every day of the year.
  • Grace – This is the biggest thing for me, giving myself grace when I do indulge. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I do not live a life of restriction. If I restrict myself, I will then crave and indulge. I give myself grace when I have a second glass of wine. I give myself grace when I choose to eat a bigger piece of pie. I give myself grace if I go back for one of my mom’s home-cooked rolls. I give myself grace because I know that this one day of enjoying myself, my family and the food will not completely derail all the hard work I have put in all year. I give myself grace because I know I will be right back to my usual routine the next day. I give myself grace because I know this is not going to start a downward spiral of daily indulgences because I have created a habit of a healthy lifestyle. I give myself grace because I deserve it.

You can navigate AND enjoy the holidays with your health in mind. Just because the holidays are approaching does not mean that you can’t stay active or you can’t eat the salad – stay on track. Don’t succumb to pressure or family stress. Keep pursuing your goals and dreams of a healthier version of you. If anyone gets in your way or gives you grief, throw a pie in their face. (Disclaimer: Fit Together is not responsible for any outcomes of you throwing pies at people.) 🙂