Tag Archives: health and wellness

Stressful Life Events + Self-Sabotage

Many of us have heard mention of the “five biggest stressors” in life, to include:

Death of a loved one

Divorce

Serious illness/injury

Moving

Job loss

Lots of people live out the truth that these experiences and even happy life events can bring unusual amounts of stress and uneasiness. Brides balk in the face of too many wedding-planning details and recently-promoted employees experience a sense of urgency and unrest as they work to prove themselves in their new role. Personally, in the face of major stressors – both the bad and good – I tend to self-sabotage. It’s something I’ve done for a long time and I don’t think I’m alone in doing this. But, as the years have passed, I’ve learned not to. In the spirit of openness and evolving in wellness, here’s a little insight into my life right now, where I’ve come from and where I’m heading, and how you might relate.

If you hadn’t already noticed, it’s been a little over a month since my last blog post. Since having a kiddo and writing two manuscripts, I haven’t been able to dedicate as much time to blogging, but I still make it a goal to get a couple posts out every month. So, why the recent delay? You guessed it. I’m going through one of life’s major stressful events; moving. My house hasn’t even hit the market yet and I’m already feeling like the process of buying/selling and moving to a new city is so dizzying that it should be over by now.

Past stressful events in my life have included launching my personal training career the month the American markets crashed in 2008, getting hit by a car in 2009, experiencing the deaths of loved ones, and moving after college to busy-busy Washington, DC from small town Charlottesville, VA. My stressors may pale in comparison to other people’s but they’re mine, and the ownership over my own drama and circumstances is what has helped me evolve into the woman, professional and mother that I am today. Here’s what used to happen to me when I got stressed…

When the markets crashed, I felt manic and the need to impress everyone around me, working double-time and internalizing other people’s misfortunes as my own. When I was hit by the car, I felt like I had to push as fast as humanly possible, turning on all engines and running on all cylinders, as if the harder I tried, the quicker I would physically recover and emotionally heal. When I experienced the loss of a close family member, I felt like it was my mission to work harder to prove that my life efforts were a worthy legacy. And when I moved to Washington, DC, I was too intimidated by the accomplished and city-smart colleagues and professionals around me to calm down and be unapologetically myself. As you can see, stress doesn’t slow me down. It speeds me up.

My inability to cope with stress has led to self-sabotage. The kind that isn’t intentional but nonetheless does a very good job of chiseling away at a person’s soul. I’ve seen the same kind of thing happen with countless personal training clients. People have sought out exercise as a means of escape, an effort to feel some kind of control as the world spins like a crazy twister around them. At first, it seems to help them. Over time, and without containment, it steadily wears them down.

This time around, on the frontier of the unknown and leaving my entire life from the past decade in Washington, DC with one large leap of faith, I refuse to repeat past mistakes. Wellness is about evolving. Figuring out how to better care for oneself in the many facets of the body, mind and spirit as each gently molds into new forms over time. Hence, no blog post for the past month and no pressure on myself to spit out new ones “just because.” I’m also not putting pressure on myself to tackle my crazy, sky-high “to-do list” this time (isn’t prepping one home for sale and planning contractors for another enough?!). Sending query letters to agents for my books shouldn’t be rushed just because I’d love to feel like all my big goals have been reached before leaving the area. Pushing myself to stick to my normal workout regime isn’t worth it when it takes too much of a toll on my already-taxed body. I swear, I’ve probably burned a million calories anyways, cleaning and running after my toddler to keep him from messing it all up! The things of the past, that I used to lump on top of stressful experiences, aren’t going to get the best of me. I deserve better than some unrealistic standard that I’ve set for myself. Self-sabotage has no place in this season.

Do you act as your own worst enemy at times, too? Other common forms of self-sabotage include:

People-pleasing

Addiction; alcohol, drugs, caffeine, overeating

Procrastination

Extreme Modesty

Dodging Emotions

Self-harm

These things may seem initially helpful to the person who is under stress but all of them are dangerous, even the ones like “people-pleasing” that don’t raise an immediate red flag like “self-harm” does. Somehow, a lot of us women tend to make things harder on ourselves during some of life’s most trying times. Instead of setting the bar super high or resorting to behaviors that aren’t helpful in the long run, here are a few things to consider trying to get you through turbulent circumstances:

1) Use exercise as a stress-release not as punishment

I see this happen ALL the time. Exercise is used as “punishment” without people even realizing it. They rationalize in their minds that if they can get into great shape to get up-and-over an ex-boyfriend or ex-husband that sadness can’t touch their hearts. They unknowingly make up their minds that because they lost their job, they must pound the pavement and hit the weights for hours every day, as though the harder they test their physical limits, the closer they will be to feeling invincible again. Exercise can build people up, but not when the intention behind the action is fraught with insecurity and a feeling of unworthiness.

2) Avoid over-caffeinating or drinking away your feelings

Sure, it seems like a good idea to push through the afternoon on a caffeine high and to unwind after a long day with a little wine buzz, but the more we repetitively consume these things in excess, or even in more-than-normal proportions, the more we tax our bodies. When our bodies get taxed, our minds get worn out, too.

3) Use food as comfort on occasion, but not all the time

I’m very different from some other health advocates out there who stick to the Whole30 Program or paleo diets year-round. I believe in eating healthfully most of the time, but I also strongly feel that food IS a very emotional experience. There’s no denying it. It’s part of our cultural and personal identities, and conjures memories and emotions. Enjoy a few comfort meals when you’re going through a tough time. It’s OKAY to emotionally eat once in a blue moon. Just don’t make a habit of it. For the record, I’m never going to only eat salads for a month. Not. Gonna. Happen.

4) Don’t let the bark be worse than the bite

Fear is a common reason for resorting to people-pleasing, procrastination, over-committing, and more. What if I’m not good enough? What if they don’t like me? What if my dreams don’t come true even why I try? If you hide “under a rock” and put off self-care, emotions and/or your goals, you’ll never overcome fear and you certainly won’t accomplish anything for your authentic self. For example:

My Situation: Afraid to hold back from blogging for a month while undergoing extreme stress. Fearful that people will judge me for not being committed enough. Guilt-ridden over not sticking to my commitment of producing content more often.

Action: No blog writing for a handful of weeks.

Result: Seemingly, no one has judged me, and I have had more time and energy for myself and my family during an important and unique time.

Bonus: No more fear.

5) Ingratiate YOURSELF

Too often, when life hands women lemons, we make lemonade, lemon meringue, roasted chicken with lemon and fennel, amaretto sour cocktails, and elderflower lemon cake (?!?!?). Instead of tasting life’s bitterness and adjusting to what that means to us, we try to make ourselves appear more likeable and put-together to everyone around us. Social media has only exacerbated this tendency. Been there – I tend to post way more often when I’m struggling than when I’m happy. Isn’t it time we ingratiate ourselves? What can you do to make yourself more likeable to the only person who truly matters – YOU?

These are just a few ideas for how to survive and stay healthy during life’s most stressful events. I will be trying to keep myself in check on ALL these fronts as I pack up my bags this summer and move on from the Washington, DC area after a decade of urban living. I may have experienced my childhood elsewhere, but I truly grew up after moving to DC. The people I’ve met – some of which are among the readers of this blog – have changed my life. But the relationships and the experiences are not over – no one said I can’t take my laptop and WellnessWinz with me! So, cheers to DC AND cheers to change!

Yours in health and wellness,

Maggie

 

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DNA: Can We Change It?

Our bodies are no longer viewed as stagnant and incapable of change. A branch of science called epigenetics studies how we can effectively alter our DNA. Instead of being a victim to our genes, we can actually manipulate them. According to epigenetics, you don’t have to accept the spare tire around your middle (“that my momma gave me”) and you don’t have to resign yourself to a slow metabolism because of age. You have the power to alter the course of your entire life. To change your destiny, if you will.

Changing our DNA 2

How is it possible to literally change who you are?

Stem cell biologist Bruce Lipton explains the difference between genetic determinism and epigenetics:

“The difference between these two is significant because this fundamental belief called genetic determinism literally means that our lives, which are defined as our physical, physiological and emotional behavioral traits, are controlled by the genetic code. This kind of belief system provides a visual picture of people being victims: If the genes control our life function, then our lives are being controlled by things outside of our ability to change them. This leads to victimization that the illnesses and diseases that run in families are propagated through the passing of genes associated with those attributes. Laboratory evidence shows this is not true.”

Based on Lipton’s theory, healthy cell expression can result from both intention and a “quantum nutrient diet.”

Changing our DNA 3

Changing your DNA through intention:

Roger Nelson published a report through Princeton called “The Physical Basis of Intentional Healing Systems.” Nelson explains the power of the mind in the healing process: “When there is a disruption, and healing is required, the need is for additional order, the infusion of information. Of course consciousness is nothing if not a manifestation of information, and in its creative and structuring capacities, it is ideally suited as a reservoir for the processes that sustain and restore health and wellbeing.”

Nelson and Lipton agree that while it is difficult to quantify, the mind has powerful healing capacity when its faculties are directed at creating a state of mental, emotional and physical harmony.

Changing your DNA through “quantum nutrients”:

Quantum nutrients aren’t as complicated or ellusive as they sound. They are simply positive states of the mind such as love, self-love, appreciation, joy, hope and peace. When our body is stripped of these positive states and is plagued by stress, anger or frustration, it is depleted both emotionally and physically, detracting from energy the body has to focus on cellular repair. Thus, negative emotions can encourage disease and positive ones can foster good health and wellness.

The Institute of HeartMath in Boulder Creek, CA agrees with this notion and has decades of research showing how love, appreciation, anxiety and anger can all impact a person’s genetic code or genetic “blueprint.” This supports the power and restorative nature of positive thinking and its impact on our overall wellness.

Changing our DNA 1

Basic Ways to Change Your DNA and Life:

Research supports the power of the mind and its role in our health. Simple, daily steps are possible so that you can create a state of harmony in your body and mind, which can promote the best expression of your genetic potential. Here are a few things you can consider:

  • Meditation – download a podcast or app, join an online community or attend a workshop near your home. There are lots of ways to get involved in meditation. It can be a scary thing to step into, but once you are alone with your thoughts and can practice harnessing them, you will begin to see the world simplify. It will become easier to manage even as it becomes more profound.
  • Journaling – write down positive affirmations or intentions every single day. This daily practice will train your mind to focus on the positives instead of the negatives in your life. With consistency, this can trascend into other areas of your life such as how you interact with your loved ones and how you speak to yourself in your mind.
  • Spiritual Practices – finding a spiritual community of some variety is essential to wellbeing. The modern world we live in convinces us that our self-worth exists in areas we have little control over such as our careers, our financial wellbeing, and our impression on others. If we focus on an unchanging and priceless spiritual identity, we become more secure and joyful individuals because we are no longer shaken by the ebbs and flows in our bank accounts, physical health, job title or popularity.

In these ways and more, I hope that you find improved wellness. I hope you can acknowledge the incredible power you have over your body and the direction of your life.


“The concepts which now prove to be fundamental to our understanding of nature … seem to my mind to be structures of pure thought, … the universe begins to look more like a great thought than a great machine.”

James Jeans, The Mysterious Universe


Yours in health and wellness,

Maggie

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