Community Weight Loss Challenge

A Weight Loss Challenge is a great way to learn safe and effective methods for health and weight loss, while building camaraderie and being motivated by a little healthy competition… and a cash prize.

On Wednesday, February 15th, I will be facilitating a community Weight Loss Challenge for the Downtown Raleigh community. It is an 8 week challenge targeting healthy nutrition, increasing exercise, getting good hydration, and losing some extra weight. Don’t have much to lose? No problem, because we will also talk about the benefits of cellular nutrition and how to increase your resting metabolic rate, which is important for everyone. The Weight Loss Challenge is fun, interactive, supportive, and a great way to get healthy. We might even throw in an optional group walk/run as the weather gets warmer.

This community event is open to all ages and all degrees of health. The 8 week Challenge cost is $35, putting $30 back into the cash winning pot for 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place prizes!  Check out complete details below.

When: Wednesday, February 15th at 6pm

Where: 612 W. Lane St

Cost: $35

Each registration comes with a complimentary nutrition profile. To register and for complete details, contact Brook Powers,

Celebration = Gratitude

101 Healthy Tools for Coping with Stress

Stress, disappointment, and negative emotions are inevitable. Sometimes coping is easy; other times it is more difficult. However, it is our job to cope. Our energy effects others, and it is our responsibility to monitor that energy.
Here are 101 ways to Cope:
  1. Bake cookies
  2. Eat two and give the rest away
  3. Go to a bookstore, read travel books, and fantasize of a faraway vacation
  4. Take a walk
  5. Call a friend that you enjoy talking to but haven’t heard from in awhile
  6. Breathe deeply
  7. Flirt with someone that deserves your attention
  8. Plan something, real or imaginary: a new career, a room in your dream home, your future children’s names
  9. Clean a room or closet in your house
  10. Volunteer your time
  11. Watch the sun rise
  12. Take a moment to smell your coffee before brewing and sipping
  13. Read something entertaining in a comfortable space: outside, a comfy chair, in bed
  14. Watch your favorite comedy
  15. Listen to upbeat music, preferably disco
  16. Write a stream of consciousness
  17. Find something that you are good at and that you enjoy doing. Become better at it.
  18. Play with pets: yours, a friend’s, or a shelter
  19. Look at old pictures, letters, or memorabilia
  20. Exercise mindfully
  21. Go on a date
  22. Shop. Buy something that you feel great in, whether it’s earrings, a stunning dress, or a great pair of yoga pants
  23. Enjoy a good glass of wine
  24. Get a makeover
  25. Play a game with friends
  26. Kiss
  27. Open the windows during a rainstorm
  28. Go to your favorite concert
  29. Surround yourself in snuggly material: your favorite sweats, a down blanket, fuzzy socks
  30. Start a blog
  31. Get a massage. Do it yourself or splurge. Massage your scalp with eucalyptus shampoo, or your feet with lavender creme
  32. Create something artistic
  33. Hit balls at a batting cage
  34. Get dressed up
  35. Drink herbal tea
  36. Try progressive muscle relaxation
  37. Run as hard as you can, even if for only for 30 seconds
  38. Take a scorchingly hot shower
  39. Meditate or pray
  40. Work in a garden
  41. Attend a community event
  42. Drink hot chocolate
  43. Watch videos of laughing babies on Youtube
  44. Take an ice bath
  45. Run as long as you can, even if at a slow jog
  46. Learn something new: a recipe, foreign language, how to knit
  47. Ask yourself how you feel; respond with advice that you would give your best friend
  48. Eat ice cream
  49. Go to a driving range
  50. Make love
  51. Go to a play or performance show
  52. Eat something decadent, slowly. Enjoy each bite.
  53. Do something unexpectedly nice for someone else
  54. Change a room in your home: Paint the walls, rearrange the furniture, refurbish a piece of furniture
  55. Scream loudly in a secluded space
  56. Take a dance class
  57. Go swimming
  58. Find something that makes you feel sexy: music, high heels, lipstick, lingerie
  59. Tell yourself that in this very moment you have everything that you need
  60. Give yourself permission to do something indulgent
  61. Forgive someone
  62. Appreciate something with age and history
  63. Explore new territory
  64. Go to an amusement park
  65. Stretch your body
  66. Sit at an outdoor cafe
  67. Do something that you never thought that you would
  68. Attend a marathon race as a spectator
  69. Hold a baby
  70. Initiate a girls’ night
  71. Sit in the warmth of the sun
  72. Join a group: AA, a book club, a rec league
  73. Consult with a health professional
  74. Read something inspirational
  75. Work on a puzzle
  76. Play like a child
  77. Go for a drive
  78. Attend a cultural event
  79. Gaze at the stars
  80. Remind yourself that you have gotten through worse before
  81. Sit next to a natural body of water: a stream, the ocean, a waterfall; listen mindfully
  82. Work towards a health goal like weight loss, a faster run time, or doing the splits
  83. Sit quietly with your eyes closed. Create a space in your mind that is peaceful and safe. Go there.
  84. Make a list of long and short term goals
  85. Take the first step towards your goals
  86. Pay off debt
  87. Find a non-profit or charity organization with a cause that you are passionate about; get involved
  88. Give your full attention to someone else
  89. Take a quiet bubble bath
  90. Make peace with your stress by finding gratitude for it
  91. Go fishing
  92. Go to a museum
  93. Visit new sites on the internet
  94. Put clean sheets on your bed
  95. Enjoy the smell of fresh cut grass
  96. Yoga
  97. Go on vacation or plan a staycation
  98. Sing your heart out
  99. Buy fresh flowers or a new plant for your home
  100. Go out to dinner
  101. Allow yourself to let go

He’s Not Perfect. You Aren’t Either

More real wellness, like this, to be shared in this month’s Wellness Challenge.


What Percentage of Fitness is Mental?

You hear it all of the time… Such and such (Insert high number here) percentage of working out is mental. I would say it all the time: If I can just get myself there, then I will be fine. I did some browsing to see what percentage people really attributed our fitness goals to our mentality. The results were high. Shockingly, high. Most were stated at 80-100%!! Wow! So let me review that- 80-100% of our success in reaching our fitness goals is our mentality? So less than 20% of our hindrance is due to ability? I suppose I would agree with that. We could rationalize probably any excuse in the world.

So why the heck are fitness professionals screaming at you, when that is NOT the way to change our behavior? Why are we constantly teaching methods of mindlessness if we need you to tap into your own head to be successful? Don’t get me wrong; these methods might work temporarily. But the changes will not be lasting.

I have been doing a bit of “market research”. In my research, I have encountered a ton of interesting concepts encouraging me to “check-out” of my workout in order to endure the pain. Hmmm. That doesn’t seem beneficial. It is in this mental check-out that we are more susceptible to injury. It is also here, where we will ignore just how amazing we are! I realize for many people they haven’t learned the difference between these two voices. They haven’t learned to trust their inner voice because someone else is always telling them that they are wrong. You are the professional of You. So, who should you be listening to? Who is going to hold the right answers?

The benefits of a regular mindful practice will teach you how to listen to and validate those voices in your head. It is here, that we are able to have the most satisfying workout. We know that we pushed ourselves; we are satisfied with our progress; and we feel uplifted by our own accomplishment. We trusted our most important trainer.

What percentage of your fitness is mental? Is it time to take the Wellness Challenge?

You Can’t Achieve Your Goals if You Haven’t Made Any

The first step to every counseling or coaching relationship is to figure out your goals. I ask a series of questions that helps me identify what you want to accomplish. The question of your goals is always asked when I am done. I don’t want to miss anything. Sometimes you know what your goals are and sometimes you don’t. However, we will never get to your destination if we don’t clearly identify your goals.

Clearly defining your goals is the #1 way to achieving them. Many clients will tell me that they want to be happy or healthy. What the heck does that mean? I can assure you that happy to you might be different to someone else. So you and I need to carefully iron out what happy is. Does it mean satisfaction in your relationship? Being less tired? Having a fulfilling career? What will it take you to achieve happiness? If we can’t identify it, we won’t know when we get there.

Setting clear, measurable goals both short-term and long-term helps to bring awareness to what we want and need. It enables you to create a path to get there. We might need to redefine them along the way. We might need to break them down into microscopic steps, but it is crucial for a successful outcome.

I mentioned earlier, that I have often heard clients tell me that 2012 will be their year. What does that mean? How will we make this new year yours? What will you have to achieve to feel that this endeavor was successful? And how will you get there?

Week 1 of the Wellness Challenge is all about setting clearly defined, measurable goals. Then we follow steps that keep them at the forefront of your mind, make them attainable, and combat the obstacles that will surely show up. Is this your year? Let’s take on the Wellness Challenge together!

Testimonials of a Wellness Coach

I am so grateful to be able to do what I do. It has taken me several years to get to be at this place in my career and I couldn’t be more thrilled. I always knew that the essential tools and lessons that I was learning through education, experience, and introspection were missing somewhere in life lessons 101.

Here are a few amazing testimonials and feedback that I have received from individual and group wellness coaching in the last couple of weeks.

“I have lost 11 lbs in 5 weeks. This is unreal. Thank you so much.” ~L.S, 32

“I am going to bed every night before 10:30. It was hard at first but now I am sleeping and rested. I haven’t felt this way in years.” ~ J.L, 39

“I stopped my psychotropic meds. I just don’t need them now and I feel great.” ~G*

“This is why everyone needs a coach. Women need to hear that it is ok to stop beating themselves up!” ~H.T, 35

“It is hard to balance your weight loss goals with your goals to go out and meet people, but I am doing it!” ~L.S, 32

“I have started eating breakfast or having a smoothie and am seeing changes in my mood, energy level, and weight.” ~A.B, 28

“Powered through a 4 mile run. It was a challenge but I finished.” ~E.H, 26

*Not recommended without consulting a physician

Therapists Get Depressed Too

My biggest goal of this blog has always been to demonstrate that therapists are real people too. However, being human, also means that I experience things like depression and sadness with subsequent shame and feel incredibly vulnerable talking about it. But, what would my advocacy be for, if I can’t talk about my experience, normalize it, and try to decrease the unnecessary shame?

Admittedly, my life has been filled with ups and downs– it’s own set of challenges. Recently, I experienced one of those challenges. Mother Teresa has said one of my favorite quotes, “I know God will never give me more than I can handle. I just wish he didn’t trust me so much.” I always remember this when I am at the end of my rope. But this time, I found myself in my car, praying, “I’m not kidding. This is enough. I cannot take anymore. Pick on someone else.”

We have been experiencing a financial roller coaster, well since we decided to move in together and thus share expenses. We both were starting new careers. Chuck is a real estate broker by profession and there is no secret that real estate is not one of the most stable industries right now. It has been good. And then it has been really bad. I worked in community mental health for 2+ years. Another unstable industry with it’s share of budget and pay cuts. We have made it work but savings or dents in our debt have been minimal.

It has been my long-time goal to open a Wellness Center and 7 months ago, we agreed that we would begin taking the appropriate strides and sacrifices to make that happen. We tucked a little money here and there and took baby steps to minimize start-up costs until I could pick up a couple of clients. That was working and in June we decided that I could upgrade to a big girl office and get downtown. We would also rent event space off-site to kickoff our fitness program. It would be a big financial leap, increasing my rent 4x and stocking it with my own furniture and office equipment but it was OK. Or so we thought.

Within days of signing my new lease, I found out that my Medicaid provider number was canceled. They said that it was due to my site address being wrong. It was off by one number, I had the original paperwork listing my correct number, but you can’t fight with the government. They told me that I needed to resubmit my entire application and it would take three weeks to process. Fine. I jumped through their hoops but after four weeks, still no number. At this time, this was approximately 70% of my salary. Gone.

Then, on July 9, I was in a car accident. I have never fully understood the impact that a car accident can have on you mentally, especially when you can’t see the bumps and bruises and your car gets put back together. Well, I do now. I was without my car for a month. It endured over $10,000 in damages and they did not total it. So I drove three rental cars, all that made me scared, uncomfortable, and anxious. I avoided going places if it meant that I could avoid driving. I would come home from work early, in pain, and cry. I was emotionally unavailable to my clients and physically uncomfortable sitting in the same position for an hour.

I felt like no one understood. Everyone was done hearing about my woes. No one could help me.

I paid for upfront medical costs. I still wasn’t getting paid from Medicaid. And my growing business suddenly came to a screeching halt due to busy Summertime travel schedules and having to turn away new Medicaid referrals. My income drastically dropped and I still had these increased business expenses on top of personal expenses.

I was scared. I was confused. I was angry. I was in pain. I was sad. I felt lost. 

I did the best I could as August rolled around. I had to make a fast decision in emotional distress about whether or not to continue with the fitness program. I never would have thought that two plus months later, I would still be in physical therapy, thinking initially that I would feel fine in a week, 1 month tops. The contract for the space was already signed so we proceeded with the classes as scheduled. Classes that I suddenly could not teach. Classes that I was too depressed to promote to local businesses. Feeling overwhelmed by having two businesses, rather than one integrative health business, followed by a whole mess of unplanned problems with our event space, our fitness program started to unravel. This was not supposed to happen.

After 6 weeks of all of this… Not getting paid, a program falling apart before it really starts, diminished health which I rely on heavily, not working out, a part-time job dealing with lawyers, insurance companies and physical therapy… I was depressed. All classic signs: apathy, tearfulness, anger, lack of motivation, restless sleep, lethargy, isolation, disinterest. I had them. And I have been ashamed. One serious problem that I have developed as a therapist, is listening too well. I have gotten so used to being a supportive ear that I have stopped talking about myself. Especially if I am feeling bad, I don’t want to fight for air time.

Of course there were preventive things that I could have/ should have done– like following David Ramsey’s advice and having $1,000 in an emergency fund so when an emergency happens it doesn’t feel like such an emergency. Love that one and have since signed up for Financial Peace University! Hindsight’s 20/20. But regardless, I didn’t have the emergency fund and my life was in serious 911.

I was watching my own plane spiral down and was just waiting for the crash. Any minute now. And I didn’t know how to change it’s course. I felt like every step I took was a land mine. I couldn’t see out of my fog.

Well, approaching 3 months with a canceled Medicaid number and still seeing my clients for free, I realized that I might never get my Medicaid number reinstated and needed to find alternate part-time work.

I scoured the internet and came across a Wellness Coach position at Carolina Nutrition. That sounded like a good fit. I met with Mike the owner, and we both immediately saw potential. Carolina Nutrition is a nutrition and wellness shop. They sell smoothies but really focus on the greater good of getting the community healthy! Upon your first visit, you get a free wellness assessment, free smoothie, and free green tea. They talk to you about your wellness goals and how to adjust your diet. Carolina Nutrition is about healthy eating but also advocate that supplementing with the main product line, Herbalife is part of a healthy diet.

I have been doing wellness for awhile. I have tried every supplement under the sun. I don’t believe in any magic pill. I’m not opposed to supplementing but the quality of the product and manufacturing can be unhealthy on it’s own. I am a skeptic. I am definitely not gimmicky. But I have been looking for new supplements. I have realized that part of my Post-personal trainer weight gain was also from trying to get in all of the recommended daily nutrition. It was too many calories. Mike encourages me to just try and start taking the products- Formula 1- the shake, a multivitamin 3 x per day, a cell activator, and the green tea.  If I don’t like it, return it. No questions asked. OK. That’s not too hard.

A shake, I can do. I like to play around with different recipes. A mutivitamin 3 x a day! Yikes! I can barely remember once per day. Why so often??? Well, it’s because our body only processes a small percentage of the nutrients we consume. So you take your multi-vitamin in the morning and your body uses what it can process and discards the rest. Before lunch. So the rest of the day, you are without those essential nutrients. Also, if your vitamin promised 100% of the daily need, your body didn’t process it all so you never got that 100%. Then there is the cell activator. This is what helps you process all of those micronutrients. So when you eat it, you get to keep it. Otherwise, it’s like a bad Paid Time Off package that makes you throw away your unused days off at the end of the year. Finally, the green tea takes the great antioxidant powers of green tea and maximizes the formula by increasing your resting metabolism. One serving burns 80 calories all on its own. Hello!! I’m planning a wedding. I will totally burn a few extra calories where I can!

I do it. I follow the plan. I actually do it pretty easily. Thinking about my food and meals more consciously helped me remember my pills. And shaking in the morning is wonderful. No stress. No guess-work. Super quick. Really good. I would drink the tea in the morning and usually around 2pm and I have completely cut out coffee dependence. The tea and shake have kept me from crashing too. Awesome.

So overall, I have more energy, more focus, and have lost about 3 lbs in about 3 weeks. My skin looks really good. I have decreased muscle inflammation that has resulted from the crash. However, the most significant change: my depression has lifted. I am motivated. I am excited. I am passionate. I am energized and ready to work out. I am productive. I am happy. I am Hopeful! My mom calls and says that she can hear the change in my voice. Chuck looks at me and admits that I have my spark back.

There is a lot of science and reputable scientists that create this product, including a nobel prize winner on brain health. OH! So maybe that is why I am feeling better.

I always say, Whatever Works for you when it comes to healthcare. This is a product that has worked for me, but I’m not the only one. If you walk into Carolina Nutrition, you will hear story after story on incredible weight loss, decreased blood pressure, extinct diabetes, a woman happily managing crohn’s disease, but I think that mine is the first about a therapist with no more depression. I like to be different.

I do attribute much of my change to my dietary shift because nothing else in my life has changed yet. I am still fighting insurance companies. I still have physical therapy. I am still searching for a stable home for Blissful Mind Wellness that would include our fitness program. I am still hoping that we can recover financially in order to have a wedding next Spring. I did get my Medicaid number back (finally) but haven’t gotten paid from them. I haven’t even resumed working out yet. But I’m good. My fog has cleared and I trust myself again.

I will never back a product or a method that I don’t believe in. But in a relatively short period of time, I have felt like a new woman. I don’t just feel like me before the accident. I feel like the me at 25 as a personal trainer but with the wisdom and confidence of 30. So, yes, I am happy to announce that Herbalife will be the official nutritional line at Blissful Mind Wellness.

Come on in. I would be happy to tell you more over a shake.

30 Before 30: A Recap

I think I have been looking forward to 30 since graduate school. I loved being young, hanging out with my friends, feeling youthful. However, that was a detriment when you are looking for respect and validation in a professional career. Also, as my life progresses, I feel really great about where I am. I am in love, have great friends and family, and am building a great company. So my adventure in 30 Before 30 was a combination of things I haven’t done, things I love to do, and things I probably shouldn’t do after 30 (emphasis on shouldn’t).

However, mid-way on my journey between the start of my list and my 30th birthday, my life derailed a bit. After my car accident this Summer, there were several factors that threatened my ability to keep checking off. Mainly, my health, my bank account, and my motivation. I am going to leave that for another post, because I feel that I should devote some time to owning it. But nevertheless, my birthday got closer and closer and my check-off percentage was well below failing.

I was sad but I was coming to an acceptance point that Life Happens and just because I didn’t complete these things by 30, does not mean that I won’t complete them. I know I will. But for the last week or so I had given up. My list did mean a lot to me, though. Each item represented me in some way and it was a bummer that I didn’t get to satisfy them. Chuck knew this (one of the many reasons why I love that man).

Anyway, my birthday is steadily approaching and I am feeling dread. I didn’t get my items checked off. I am not traveling the world like I would prefer to be, sipping my expensive bottle of wine in Napa (#29, maybe). I am suddenly feeling reluctant about this whole 30 thing. Maybe I’m not ready. Maybe my life isn’t where I want it to be. Maybe professional credibility is over rated.

Enter the birthday week (yes, we do birthday weeks around here). And I am feeling- Whatever. Ugh. But then the fun(ny) starts. You see, Chuck and I have birthdays 5 days apart. Usually, we just kind of celebrate both birthdays with friends, together. I did say that I wanted my own this year so felt that he, too, should have his own. I proceeded to plan some mild festivities at the house with friends that Thursday (his actual birthday). I also thought that it would be fitting to have some Happy Hour drinks on Friday. I wasn’t trying to throw some elaborate surprise party. I just thought that it would be fun to have a large group of Chuck’s friends sort of show up and join us wherever we went to. I emailed this to his business partner and a few other close friends, thinking, “Oh, this is nice. He’ll like this. Nothing too crazy but the opportunity to see all of his friends at his favorite bar.” Yeah, that’s not what happened. I get a response back from his business partner, telling me that it is a great idea and him and the guys went ahead and set it all up at Solas, a downtown night club (Chuck hates clubs). They had already started inviting people and it was going to be a great time. I wish someone was in the room with me when I read that email. I literally had a WTF look on my face. I was not happy. This is not what I had said or planned or wanted. I composed myself a bit, then composed an email to Jason, gently explaining these concerns. I then conceded to the idea of a Happy Hour at Solas for my fiance and continued to invite a few more friends.

The joke was on me. I knew there was something a bit fishy about the whole thing but as we opened the elevator to our rooftop party, there awaited friends and out of town guests all screaming and holding signs up for me. Insert tears. I was overwhelmed. Three people whom I love dear, Valerie, Misty, and Carin had traveled from out of town. Everyone was laughing and so excited that I thought that the party was for Chuck and threw a twist in it all at the last minute. We had drinks and snacks. I was glad I threw on a dress but really wish that I had brought a make-up refresher. I was gushing. The coolest part (other than 90% of my favorite people in one room) was that Chuck had blown up my list and had gotten people to start signing up for items. It was so incredible.

I got Valerie coaching me on my 8 minute mile. Cynthia assisting with creating prayer space. Joe offering to buy me Atlas Shrugged and me vetoing it because I am on page 983 of Gone with the Wind which is torturous enough. There is Brooke hooking me up with new stationary. Chris and Sara offering a fabulous bottle of wine. Gillie says she is all over the new shoes. Mike and Melissa are ready for a baby break and to hit the amusement park. Lauren, (once she stopped making fun of me for calling it “the splits”) will be keeping me accountable to knock that one out. A guy that I just met that night, Jason said that he was going to hook me up to the back of his boat and practice wake surfing. Carin will be my day drinking buddy. Chuck generously offered to make out with me. The girls assured a night of dancing. Everyone promised that a tree would get climbed.

By the end of the night, we had crossed off #2, #6, and #17. And it was one of the most fun nights I have had in years. I laughed. I cried. I danced. I kissed. And I didn’t really care that my makeup was gone and smeared. I didn’t care who was watching. I didn’t care who was there or wasn’t there (although some people were missed). I didn’t care if I was  judged by 20-somethings or work colleagues. I was me. I was proud. I was confident. A list is fantastic. But having amazing people by your side, helping you, supporting you, challenging, you, loving you… now that is what life is all about.

On my actual birthday, I had gotten many “Welcome to the Club” wishes, bragging about how great the 30’s are.


How Would You Spend Your Perfect Day?

I was recently asked, “How would you spend your perfect day without any monetary restrictions.” It came to me pretty easily. However, I had to stop and rethink it. My answer was so simple. Fairly boring. No monetary restrictions? Come on, I could do better than that! But when I tried to get elaborate, it didn’t fit. The only that would change is the location.

So this is my perfect day:

I would wake up at my leisure, probably between 6:30-7am, get dressed and head to a yoga class. Probably at least 90 minutes to would wake me up, work me out, and then allow for some reflection. I would head back home, have a healthy breakfast, probably fresh fruit and some variety of whole grains, then take a shower and get ready for the day. I would go shopping (here is where the lack of monetary restrictions would come in handy). Then I would meet one of my favorite girlfriends for a leisurely lunch. Probably entailing wine, cheese, a good salad, laughs, and no time restrictions. After lunch, I would grab a coffee and settle in for a nice pedicure. Relax, continue the conversation with a friend, or read solo. Then I would head home, freshen up (hopefully redress in something from previously mentioned shopping trip), grab my handsome fiance, go to dinner, and enjoy each other. Catch up, hold hands, sneak kisses. Finally, we would have the option to meet up for drinks with friends or head home and throw on comfy sweats. And that is it. That is my perfect day. Maybe without any money restrictions, I would do it all in Tahiti or Paris, but that sums it up.

So with much thought of how I want to spend my fabulous 30th birthday, that is what I have decided. I want to enter a new year, a new decade with my perfect balance of health and pleasure, friends and love, peace and company.

How would you spend your perfect day?