Let's talk BLOATING

 
 

So I want to chat with you for a minute about bloating. It’s not exaaaaaactly a sexy topic. But WHY NOT??

As I find myself saying often, we learn SO much from our kids.

Ella Jane is pretty teeny for her age (like 20th percentile) but she has the most voracious appetite, which is adorable. The quantities of food she can put away are aspirational to many, haha.

There have been so many times lately where we’ve found ourselves giggling about how big her belly gets after a meal she’s really enjoyed. After a big plate of “getti” and some fruit, it will easily double in size!

As we laughed, it got me thinking about how differently I react to her full, bloated belly than to my own. I never question how much she wants to eat or worry about it being too much because I truly believe that as children we are at our most intuitive when it comes to eating. We haven’t yet been influenced by others’ beliefs about what foods are “good” or “bad.” We haven’t been introduced to arbitrary food rules or portion sizes or meal schedules. Kids listen to their taste buds and their bodies, and eat (or don’t) accordingly.

And kids get bloated! And it’s adorable and funny.

How do you feel when you get bloated after eating? For me, at least in the past, I have felt shame, guilt, and worry over whether I’ve eaten something I “shouldn’t have.” Bloating has inspired many guilt spirals, multiple diets, and many experiments with cutting out certain foods out of fear that I was intolerant or allergic.

Then, Ella Jane gets bloated and we laugh.

Now bloating, if accompanied by feelings of discomfort or illness, certainly merits our attention and curiosity. So i’m not trying to say we should all just laugh it off.

What I AM trying to say is that sometimes a full, bloated belly is simply that. Sometimes it’s just a sign of a good meal savored and enjoyed. If you find yourself always criticizing yourself for ending up bloated after a meal , I hope you can remember this story - would you criticize someone else for the same thing? Would you criticize a child? How could you look at it instead that is more productive?

Let me suggest, you could appreciate the meal you just enjoyed, and the body that’s been designed to accommodate and digest it, even if not exactly as you’d like it to. You could get curious about how you feel physically, and whether that food served your body or caused discomfort. You could notice any pleasant or unpleasant sensations you feel. Or you could just move on with your day and not give it any mental space at all!

What does this bring up for you? How do you react to bloat or post-meal fullness? Please share! Let’s not be ashamed of our bloat, but embrace it or work to understand it.

Be an Entrepreneur of YOUR Life

Last week I had the privilege of attending an Entrepreneurship Summit at my alma mater, Denison University. To be honest, I felt a little out of place going in. A lot of the attendees were much farther along in their entrepreneurship journeys, or owned or funded multi-million dollar companies, or consulted with ultra-successful business owners or all of the above. When I signed up, it felt like an event I NEEDED to attend, but as it drew closer I worried: would I be out of place?

I don’t make any secret that the coaching part of my business is where my real passion lies, and the business-owning side is the scary part. Marketing, managing, growing, and earning doesn’t feel natural to me. But being in community with these fellow entrepreneurs, sharing ideas on what entrepreneurship means, and how to be the best entrepreneur you can was hugely inspiring and helped me to reflect on many aspects of entrepreneurship that I DO in fact employ regularly.

Entrepreneurs are innovators, change-makers, disruptors, and problem solvers. At their best, entrepreneurs are authentic, operate from deeply-held core values, and are open to exchange of ideas with and learning about others.

 
 

I came to health coaching from this very perspective: I needed change in my life, I needed to disrupt the path I was on to find one more aligned with my values. I had learned from others that there was another way to live life than blindly following the path I had been on (sometimes I call this the conveyer belt) and I was ready to innovate in my approach to life and share my perspective and experience authentically in hopes of inspiring others.

It wasn’t long into this past week’s summit that I realized I AM an entrepreneur. And we ALL can be.

That’s right, YOU can be an entrepreneur. Even if not in the sense of business, although if that’s what you want, you can probably do that too! What I’m talking about is being the entrepreneur of your own life.

Of course returning to my college campus also sparks reflection on who I was when I attended there, and what I’ve learned since. One of the biggest pieces of learning I’ve experienced post-college is that life is lived most richly and enjoyably when we are clear on our values, live authentically in alignment with them, and share in learning and experience with others in a way that preserves space for our similarities and differences.

Living that way may or may not come naturally to you. It didn’t to me at first. When we’ve been seeking success by societal standards, following a path laid out for us by a set of external expectations, or worrying often about other’s feelings and opinions about us. This type of living I’m describing can sound VERY foreign.

But all it takes is a little innovation.

It takes a commitment to change, a willingness to disrupt the unkind messages you may receive from within or without yourself, the effort to re-frame concerns and challenges in your life, and the innovation to start doing it differently.

We can ALL be entrepreneurs when it comes to managing our lives. Where are you ready for change, innovation, disruption, and problem solving? I’m here for you!

How Motherhood Taught Me To Re-Calibrate My Expectations

 
 

You know you’ve had a great conversation with a friend when it keeps popping into your mind months later. It has been on my heart since last Fall to write a blog post on this topic, and it all comes from one great conversation I had with a friend over some green juice and snacks several months ago.

In that conversation, we were talking about the transition and frustrations of being a new, mostly stay-at-home mom. Her daughter was born almost exactly one year after mine, and she was experiencing some of the same push-pull of the joy and frustration of SAHM-ing I had, especially in those early months.

We both experienced incredible gratitude to have our babies alive and healthy (this mom happened to have lost her first child as well), and to have the privilege of spending as much time as we wanted with them. We both loved that we got to watch every milestone, share those sweet cuddles, and form an incredibly close bond with our infant daughters.

We also both experienced a bit of an identity crisis - who am I now, beyond being mom?

We engaged in a lot of self-criticism when we couldn’t get tasks accomplished the way we did pre-baby, and plenty of uncertainty (and doubt and worry) about how this whole mom thing would mesh with other aspects of our lives moving forward.

I think feelings like this are pretty typical of the transition to motherhood, whether or not you’ve lost a child, and whether or not you work outside the home. I think they probably apply to many other life transitions that don’t involve having an infant in your care!

A year out from where my friend was, I DEFINITELY didn’t have it all figured out (still don’t!), but I shared the biggest thing that had helped me adjust.

I shared about re-calibrating expectations.

If you’re experiencing a big life change - a transition to a new job, a new romantic relationship, a new city or living arrangement, or a new baby - you can’t expect all other aspects of your life to remain the same.

If you’re spending more time with a new partner, you have less time for activities you used to prioritize. If you move to a new city, you’ll have to put in more work to maintain relationships you left behind in your previous location. If you have a baby, perhaps especially if you’re the full-time caretaker of that baby, you won’t also be able to keep your household, self-care, and professional routines on par with what they were pre-baby.

If you want to feel happy and fulfilled in this “new normal” you’re going to have to re-calibrate expectations.

Initially, I maintained my pre-baby expectations for house cleaning, meals, and my work. Subconsciously, I think I knew I would never meet those expectations, but I would try, and just see how close I could come.

This mindset set me up for frustration and self-criticism.

Eventually, I learned to shift.

I learned to view my productivity in chunks of time. An hour here, an hour there, maybe two, maybe 30 min. Whatever it was, I’d set a small goal for the timeframe. I’d intentionally plan a task or activity I thought would really take less time. When I completed it, I’d celebrate the victory and either 1. take advantage of some needed down-time or 2. jump into another task, feeling extra proud and energized that I had exceeded my own expectations.

Think about it, which feels better to you? Consistently over-asking and under-delivering, or regularly out-performing your expectations?

I know which one worked better for me 🙂

Where can you re-calibrate expectations in your life? If you’re skeptical, perhaps worried you’ll get less done this way because you’re asking less of yourself, would you take a chance and give it a try?

Give it 2 weeks and see what happens. If you’re anything like me, you’ll end up feeling more positive, and thus more energized and more productive. I’d love to hear how this experiment works for you!

Lessons from an Old Picture

A friend recently shared with me a picture she found when looking through old boxes. It was a picture of us in high school, getting ready to go to a party or something. We were all dressed up in skirts and halter tops with a tiny sliver of midriff showing. Haha, it was quite the early 2000s throwback!

I was immediately taken back to that night. I actually remember it very clearly. I was frustrated with my mom because she wouldn’t let me wear skirts as short as my friends did, and I was frustrated with my body because I wanted it to be smaller.

Hindsight is 20/20...while I don’t want to invalidate my very real teenage emotions, I definitely feel differently today. There was no need for my skirt to be any shorter than it was (and it was really only an inch or two longer than my friends’ anyway, ha!)

AND that body was so tiny...at least compared to what it looks like today.

Thinking back to that moment made me feel angry; angry at a society that values smaller bodies and more skin showed as the feminine ideal. Angry that I was soooo heavily influenced by those ideals I couldn’t fully enjoy a fun moment with friends that should’ve been nothing but carefree and FUN!

And it made me sad. I feel sad for that girl who so early on received the message that she wasn’t good enough. That she needed to fit into a certain mold to be liked or valued. And I feel sad for the millions of young women who feel that way right now.

If I could tell them one thing, it would be this: If you want the shortcut to real happiness, spend more time getting to know yourself and what YOU value than worrying about the values and priorities of others, or whether you “fit in.”

 
 

You’re going to be a lot more fun an interesting if you stop trying to fit in, and live unabashedly in line with your own personality and values! As long as your body physically feels good, then it IS good, and you don’t need to shrink it or tone it or manipulate it … doing that WILL NOT make you happier.

I’m SO thankful for where I am today in realizing these things, and there’s no point in living in the past and feeling angry/sad about what I felt then. BUT these reminders are SUPER helpful - to remind us of how far we’ve come and to re-focus us on what really matters going forward.

So I’m thankful to that friend who triggered me with that picture.

Sometimes it’s good to be triggered, because acknowledging uncomfortable emotions can lead to so much insight and improvement.

Is there a time in your life you look back to and it immediately makes you notice how far you’ve come? That reminds you of the values you’ve developed and the fears/worries you’d never want to return to? I’d love to hear!

One Critical Shift for More Happiness

 
 

We’ve spent our whole lives being trained to focus on outcomes. You study so you can get a good grade on the test. You train so you can run the marathon. You cook so you can eat. You save so you can spend. You lose weight so you can feel confident.

The message we’re taking in, internalizing, and teaching ourselves is this: It’s all worth it because of the outcome.

So no wonder it’s hard to re-program our brains when we decide we want to start enjoying life, which is lived amidst the process, rather than waiting for our reward once we’ve reached the destination.

It’s great to have goals. I love feeling inspired to work toward something. But a lesson I’ve learned about myself is that my innate tendency to feel fulfillment from the result leads to a lot of dissatisfaction, longing, and living for the future, rather than in the present.

My wellness journey has helped me in so many ways, but one of the most critical is in teaching me that life is lived in the present. In each distinct moment of time. In the journey. 

I don’t know the secret to ultimate happiness, and I don’t “have it all together," but I’m pretty sure a biiiiiiiggg key is to strive for appreciation of the journey, of each little imperfect moment, and to de-emphasize the destination we seek. Because if we get there, we may (or may not) feel the elation we’re chasing in that one moment, but if we can find joy along the journey, we’ll have a lottttttt longer to live in that joy.

How can you re-frame a goal you’re working on right now or an aspect of your life to LIVE IN IT now, rather than longing for the final destination? Let me know in the comments. This is a shift I hope to help the women who join my Find Your Summer Joy group program with, because there’s no better time to truly be presence than in the Summer! If you’re wondering what else we’ll do in that group, contact me, and I’ll be happy to share!

On Mother's Day

 
 

Oh Mother’s Day. Here you come in just a few days. I remember when to me you were just a day to spend time with my favorite women, give them gifts, have a nice brunch, and spend entirely too much $ on a piece of paper in the form of a card. 

Now I know motherhood, and I know that in addition to joy and celebration it can involve grief, fear, anxiety, sorrow, and frustration. I wrote about how I see my motherhood last year in this article. While motherhood is certainly a brave and love-filled journey worthy of celebration, it’s not always easy to celebrate Mother’s Day when motherhood can be so complicated.

It’s hard when motherhood doesn’t look the way you imagined it or society makes you think it should be. When it’s not all flowers and chocolates and hallmark cards. Whether it’s because you’ve struggled along your path to motherhood, you’re a grieving mother, you struggled with a traumatic birth experience, are battling postpartum depression or anxiety, or any of the other ways in which motherhood can take unexpected twists and turns, I see you, and it’s ok that this day might be hard

So to the mothers whose motherhood doesn’t look exactly like they thought it would, to the grieving mothers, to those who long to be mothers but are still waiting, and to those missing their mothers who have passed on, I celebrate you this weekend, and the love and bravery it takes to walk the path you’re walking. 

Looking for "something more"?

 
 

One of my favorite areas of primary foods to talk about is the area of spirituality because so often it’s what’s missing form our busy lives. Now before you close this post thinking “I’m not religious,” or “I’m settled in my faith and don’t need to read about this,” what I’m talking about is different. What I’m talking about is a practice that can enrich any life whether or not that life is built on or around the tenants of a particular faith. Please keep reading! :)

I really like the definition of spirituality that pops up when you google it: “the quality of being concerned with the human spirit or soul as opposed to material or physical things.” As a health coach, my goal is not to provide teaching or guidance on a specific faith or religion. My goal IS to help you find what you’re looking for when you just feel like there should be “something more.”

In the interest of full disclosure, I am a Christian. A Lutheran to be exact, and that faith and the religious practices that come along with it have enriched my life immensely and continue to do so. If you’d like to chat with me more about that, I’d be happy to!

However, I also cultivate spiritual practices, if you define that term as google does, that have nothing to do with my religion, at least in a formal sense. And while I would never tell someone they need to find a religion to subscribe to, or tell them that they need to adhere to the same religious beliefs I do to lead a fulfilling life, I have become a big believer that spirituality in this sense IS essential to our happiness.

When my health coach training included spirituality as one of the four areas of primary food that are core to our wellbeing, I thought “well that’s controversial...I don’t want to tell my clients they need to be spiritual!” Then I learned more and began developing my own spirituality, and my perspective shifted. Now, assuming spirituality means focusing on the human spirit or soul as opposed to material or physical things, I’m happy to shout from the rooftops: HECK YES YOU NEED A SPIRITUAL PRACTICE!

All this means is that we need to tune in from time to time. I am at a place where I try to tune in multiple times a day, but as with any life change, it’s best to start slowly. What are you tuning into? That’s up to you - your intuition, your soul, the universe, God, your life source - spend some time thinking about what resonates with you. What I’d like for you to do is spend some time focused not on the physical world around you, but inside of yourself, tapping into that innate wisdom, that gut instinct, that we all have. This focus can be achieved through meditation, prayer, spending time in nature, sitting quietly and reflecting on your day without distractions, practicing gentle forms of movement like yoga, even more intense exercise like running if that helps you feel a sense of clarity and introspection. What it doesn’t involve is looking outward - to the opinions of others or the external demands on your time. If we’re honest, we probably all spend the majority of our days responding to external stimuli: the structures and objects we see around us, the people who we care for or work for, various forms of media that tell us how the world is and what we should be doing in it. My hope for you is that you can find a resonant spiritual practice that will help to balance out those inputs - spending some time tuning IN to your inner guide that whispers your needs and desires when you’re listening and acting on that, in addition to all the other times we spend zoning OUT and responding to the external pressures that can keep us on a conveyor belt of sorts.

What are your favorite spiritual practices? What questions do you have about spiritual practices? Send me a message, I’d LOVE to chat!