Trauma has a way of making us feel so alone and isolated. After we experience something so painful or tragic, it can feel like all we can do is be stuck inside of our trauma. How can we get out? How can anyone understand? However, the reality is that we can change the way we relate to our trauma. We can heal ourselves and we can heal our ability to relate to others. That is why I have brought on spiritual teacher and author, MaryJo Briggs Austin, on The Stress Less Show this week to share her story and provide a few great tips on how we can stop feeling stuck inside our trauma and transform ourselves for a happier and more joyful life. ..
If you have been following me for a while, you are probably familiar with my story. I began my journey into stress management after a childhood trauma led me to develop PTSD and suffer from years of anxiety, stress, night terrors, and more. Trauma is a subject very close to my heart because I know first hand how stressful and difficult it can be to process and heal after experiencing a traumatic experience. That is why this month on The Stress Less Show, we are focusing on how to deal with trauma and tragedy in our lives. This week, owner of Transfire Photography, Heather Manwaring, joined me on the show to share her story of healing from trauma and what she has done to help others and herself move forward…
Even though mental health has been starting to enter mainstream conversations these days, there is one area I think needs more attention: therapy. I’ll be the first one in the room to admit that I have a therapist I see regularly, but a lot of us out there I know still struggle with the idea of seeing a therapist. It can be overwhelming to try to push aside our preconceived notions of therapy and find a therapist - especially when we are struggling with mental health concerns or trauma in our lives. That is why for our last episode on mental health, I brought Ida Mae Devers, co-owner of Philly Family Life Counseling, on The Stress Less Show to share her thoughts on finding the right therapy for you so you can find your own happiness…
I don’t think it is any surprise but taking care of our mental health is incredibly important! Addressing any symptoms of depression, anxiety, and more can have a powerful effect on every aspect of our lives, and investing time into our mental wellbeing can not only make a difference in how we feel, but it can also make a difference in how we achieve our goals. This week on The Stress Less Show, I brought on Daniela Galdi, entrepreneur, philanthropist, and founder of empowerment organization, Still Standing Together, to continue our October theme of Mental Health by sharing her own story of achieving her goals while managing her mental health…
A major presentation at work, moving to a new city, planning a wedding, going out on a first date - what do all of these things have in common? They all can stir up everyone’s favorite thing: anxiety! Okay, obviously anxiety isn’t a great feeling. We feel our breathing speed up, our stomach fills with butterflies, jaws clench - not fun! For a lot of us, we feel as if there is nothing we can do about how miserable our anxiety makes us. Luckily, I brought holistic mental health therapist and owner of The Wellness Collective, Danielle Massi, on to The Stress Less Show to help us address our anxiety…
As a stress management expert, Mental health is a topic very close to my heart. Recently, more and more people in the media and society have been raising awareness and paying attention to mental health, but there is still a lot of work to be done for a lot of us in taking care of our mental health. That is why October is mental health month on The Stress Less Show and I am so excited to have professional counselor, Maria Reyes, on this week’s episode to talk about how we can start advocating for ourselves by asking for what we need…
https://youtu.be/IW48E2uW5eQ We love to hear inspiring stories and truly believe in taking time to appreciate what makes life so great. Thankfully we got to take some time to appreciate one of our client's personal stories. The image in this piece is of the backyard of a Zazen Creations (an APOP shop) customer's childhood home. The tree had to be cut down, but the family gave us a chance to let the tree live on by allowing us to burn into the original wood.
The holidays tend to be a crazy time of the year for most of us. Here are a few tips from our Fitness Nerd Family Members to help you get through them without letting your healthy habits slip:
1. "The steps to getting myself help were the hardest and greatest things I ever did. The first step to solving any problem is talking." When you're feeling down, Stormy Smith, APOP member since March 2014, says that reaching out for help is key. Don't be afraid to ask for help-whether that is from friends, family or a professional. Everyone needs someone to lean on.
2. “You only get one shot at this life. So be you; do you. Be happy with your choices and don’t worry about impressing others or conforming.” -Misty Mann, Member since December 2015
3. "Embrace who you are! It took me a year into college to remember that I need to embrace who I am, a quirky and random human being, and I couldn’t be happier with that. Sure some people think you suck, but comparatively you will bump into and find some incredibly awesome like-minded people along the way. Trust me." -Will Hurry, member since November 2015
4. "The more you act happy, the more you end up feeling happy." -Will Hurry, member since November 2015
5. “Willpower is so important in weight loss–willpower and dedication. You have to get up every morning and say, ‘This is who I’m going to be today.’ You have to be your higher-self. There is an opportunity to be your lower self: not go to the gym, eat poorly, etc., but you have to choose to be your higher-self. It’s a choice. It’s all choices. Everyday is a choice.”-Max Kohls, member since October 2015 (Max also recommends this podcast: http://www.stuffyoushouldknow.com/podcasts/willpower-works/)
6. Avoid those pesky cravings by drinking lots of water. -Misty Mann, member since December 2015
7. Do it for yourself not for others. Both Misty Mann, member since December 2015, and Max Kohls, member since October 2015, agree that this is key for achieving your personal goals.
8. "Feeling down? Hit the Gym! Not only do you get to work off your frustrations, but you leave feeling like a rock star–because you really have accomplished something!" -Carlee Myers, Founder APOP
9. "Never let food become an obsession. I know it’s comfortable and it makes many of us feel better, but in reality food doesn’t change a thing. My challenge to you is to directly deal with the problems you have in life." -Michelle McDonnell, member since August 2015
10. "Love your neighbor(s)." -Mary Ellen McAbee, member since September 2015
11. "Don't get caught up in the hustle and bustle; This season, more than any other time of year, is about family and friends." -Cathy Myers, member since March 2015
Subject: Weight Loss & Mental Health
Advice: Feeling down? Hit the Gym! Not only do you get to work off your frustrations, but you leave feeling like a rock star--because you really have accomplished something!
Carlee's Story: A little over one year ago my long time boyfriend and I decided it was finally time to break up. Although I knew it was for the best, I was devastated. I had been dating this man for seven years--he had been by my side all through high school and college for crying out loud. We were a force to be reckoned with; we were soulmates or at least that's what I had I thought.
It was a beautiful night in May of 2014. I went out with some friends and visited an art collector's home. After a few drinks, we somehow got on the subject of relationships. We talked about happiness and love--about how two people who barely knew each other are often happier together than those who have been together for years. The conversation hit home--I was walking home pondering what my life would be like if I left my partner. Over the last two years of our seven year relationship, I had contemplated this too often. It was clear I was unhappy and he wasn't too happy either. I had decided that unless he did something to change my mind that evening I was going to start the conversation--we were going to have a heated debate about breaking up.
When I got home everything was just as I expected it to be--my unemployed ex hadn't bothered to do the dishes and the apartment was a wreck. He had all the time in the world to accomplish these simple tasks, yet when I got home he was laying in bed watching a movie. I walked into the room and didn't get so much as a "hey." In that moment, I threatened to break up with him. I told him that if he wasn't going to change then I was going to leave him. I told him that our lease was going to be up in a month and I was going to leave him if he didn't change. I was angry; his response was cool, calm and collected. He agreed to my terms, but not the way I thought he would. His response: "Why wait? It's over." And just that quickly--we were through. The couple who had identified as "Marshmallow ad Lily-pad" from HIMYM ceased to exist.
That very same day I dropped my cellphone down a storm drain. What are the odds? I was cut off from the world--cut off from my friends and family. I had no one to talk to unless I wanted to go to a nearby cafe to use their WiFi for Facebook messaging--I thought, "screw that!" I went on a walk. I reevaluated who I was. I thought about where I was in life and where I needed to go. In two weeks I would be graduating with my bachelors degree in Curatorial Studies and Fine Art; In two months I would be moving to Baltimore to earn my post-bac certificate at the Maryland Institute College of Art. Over the last year, I had gained over 20 pounds--the side effects of a stressful senior year and a failing relationship. I was in the worst shape of my life--my emotions and body were a wreck. Most fitness journeys have an "Oh Shit" moment and well this is mine--a stupid-ass break up.
To my ex, that is if you're reading this, THANK YOU! If it weren't for you, I would not be where I am today. Not only did you support me all through high school and college, you were my biggest fan. Thank you for knowing when to agree with me and for having the guts to end "us" and encourage me to move on with my life. If you had not made the decision you made that beautiful May night, I would have never started this health & fitness blog; I would have never lost those 25 pounds, I would have never stayed in Philly; I would have never met some of my closest friends--Julia, Kim, you know who you are people. :P Simply put if you had never said "It's over" I would be someone totally different. To my ex if you are reading this...THANK YOU.
This very break up is what prompted me to begin once again hitting the pavement. In the past, I ran cross country and track, so I was oh too familiar with the training that was necessary to achieve the new goals I had set for myself. Ultimately, I wanted lose 20 pounds, get my 3 mile time back down to the mid 20s and stop being so angry with myself and what life had thrown at me. I went on runs around the city (Philadelphia) and began tracking my calorie intake through MyFitnessPal.
After one too many runs, I finally realized the whole reason I was put in this situation was because I needed to be uncomfortable. I needed to feel this dull pain of loneliness and anger because I needed the proper motivation to become a healthy and successful artist and arts professional. To be successful, I was going to have to work for it, damn it!
Believe me; I sure as hell worked for it. In the fall of 2014, I hit my goal weight of 135lb AND had successfully found a job as a development assistant at a local art & design college. The job wasn't much, but it was a start. I was fending for myself in the "real world" and I was proud--still am. Come winter, I was running 3 miles in 21 minutes and 46 seconds--a time that blew away my high school personal record of 25:59. Today, I'm in the best shape of my life--eating healthy, doing cardio, lifting weights, and of course continually working on making my mindset a more positive one. And although times still get tough every now and again, I try to remember not to worry. I managed to make it through my past and I've come out stronger. Nothing can break me.
Do you have an inspiring health or fitness story? Comment below or share on social media using the hashtag #APOPFNF (APOP Fitness Nerd Family) with a reason you should be featured in our next #APOPFNF profile! I will be adding a new profile every other Sunday so get your entries in now :)