Stress: The Body’s Biggest Toxin?!


Trust it. Believe it.

I’m having a Flash 4-Day Sale on my Fall Clean Eating Detox Program, so I wanted to let you all know about it and take a second to discuss how this signature detox is not just about the food on your plate.  The greatest success at weight loss, at a boosted immune system, and at health, is achieved when you focus as much energy on your food choices as you do on evaluating the other areas of your life that are not serving you. This is a key aspect of not just my detox program, but also in how I approach all of my holistic health coaching clients (see my post on holistic health for a detailed picture of my health philosophy). In my program, I provide you with my personal unlimited support as well as an awesome Tool Kit that guides you through the steps to incorporating good self-care into your 11-day experience (and that you can take into the rest of your life)! It’s a pretty nifty package that my clients have loved!

Detoxing on an emotional level, as well as a physical one, will help you
truly begin to thrive again.

So many of us need to step back and take a little time for ourselves. In our go-go-go society, we’re always thinking about the next task, how to manage the next crisis, and how to side-step the one after that. We are so busy. In some ways, that’s great – I’m all for living a full life! – but at times, it becomes detrimental to our health and happiness.destress for the holidays

How often do you feel like you’re actually living in the present moment? Not 10 minutes before, not an hour from now, but JUST THIS SECOND? It’s hard to do, isn’t it?

When was the last time you did something to take care of you? Did you find yourself feeling guilty about it?

Our busy lives are often quite downright stressful. Did you know that stress is actually one of the biggest toxins that we fight? Stress finds its way into our daily life far too easily and far too often.

Stress ramps up our adrenal glands’ cortisol production, which over time, can lead to things like weight gain (and stubborn weight loss), chronic fatigue, and immune suppression.

No matter how healthy you pile your plate each day and how many time you hit the gym each week, if you’re experiencing chronic stress and not taking the proper time to de-frazzle yourself, it will be hard to look and feel good. I’ve experienced this firsthand on too many occasions – when my stress levels skyrocket and I “forget about me” – my digestion gets wonky, my body aches all over (you would not believe the knots I get in my back!), my skin breaks out, and I get irritable, especially when it starts affecting my sleep. It’s not fun. My body is essentially calling out to me that it’s experiencing toxic stress overload!

When I finally get the message, I know it’s time to regroup, break out a few more healthy meals designed to naturally cleanse my body, take time to journal, take a nice long soaking bath, and do something special to rejuvenate my body, mind, and spirit.

Enter the holiday season coming up. Talk about stress-central (unfortunately). I know it’s not supposed to be that way, but for many of us, including myself, it often is. It’s coming fast, but now is the perfect time to get a jump-start on them instead, and enter the holiday season stress-free, re-centered, de-frazzled, and feeling downright fabulous in your skinny jeans and new winter top!

Before the winter festivities hit full force, take a moment for you.
Honor your body and slow down.
Learn the tools to GET YOU IN THE GROOVE and GET YOUR BODY FEELING GREAT not only for the holiday season, but FOR LIFE.

You deserve it!

Revitalize Your Body with Clean Eating for 11 Days – NO fasting, NO juice cleansing, NO deprivation. Just lots of whole foods and simple delicious recipes that get you on track! Plus, I’m there to support you every step of the way!

ditch the diet forever and love every bite banner

FLASH 4 DAY SALE STARTS TODAY! JUST $39.95!
GRAB IT BEFORE IT’S TOO LATE!

Contact me for details (drsarah@holisticshapeup.com), and learn more and sign up here: http://www.holisticshapeup.com/revitalize-your-body-fall-program

Renew & Revitalize Fall Clean Eating Program

Take this moment, right now, to take stock of what might be holding you back when it comes to making positive changes to your lifestyle. Try to journal about your challenges and your obstacles. Get to the bottom of it. This is your opportunity to stop hiding behind your excuses and take action. There was never a better time than now. Enter this holiday season feeling your best ever!

   

What is YOUR Happy? Plus, My 5 Tips to Get Happy Now

“There is no path to happiness. Happiness IS the path.”

Gautama Buddha
~~~~

When was the last time you took a minute to really think about what makes you happy?

For me, the past two years included a lot of time spent contemplating life and happiness, as I began making my decision to stray from the traditional path most doctors take after medical school and instead build my own path to create a career that I want and that reflects who I am and what I love.

20130926-160012.jpg

So far, it’s been a scary but exciting process trying to knock down all the weeds, briers, (and even a few trees) that exist just off the smooth, paved road to residency and beyond (not that residency is easy by any means – believe me- my fiance is a first year resident! Nonetheless, it is a fairly well-laid out, step-by-step process). At times, I’ve even gotten really stuck, pricked, and down-trodden; however, I recently realized that those times tend to occur during a single mindset: when I lose sight of “my happy” – the picture of what I really want for my self and my life.

It’s so easy for us to get caught up in our day-to-day lives and just keep going with the flow, without much thought beyond what needs to get done and how much there is to do, that we forget to take care of ourselves in the process. However, if you never even make time for you, you certainly won’t be taking time to assess your goals, path, or happiness –> which is crucial to your health, well-being..and well, your happiness!

Along with getting caught up in the whirlwind of everyday life, it can sometimes be difficult to separate society’s version of happiness and what your life “should” be like from what you, at your heart and soul, truly desire. Society tends to project this image of happiness that is full of:

  • enormous wealth
  • unattainable beauty and body size
  • lots of expensive stuff
  • fame and attention and ego
  • power, and
  • often as having one talent or passion that basically defines you

Although I’ve gotten much better at recognizing when lose sight of adequate self-care and what I want vs. what society says I should want, it’s still quite easy to fall into that trap. This is one reason why I feel it’s very important for each of us to contemplate our own answers to questions like:

  • who am I?
  • what is my truth?
  • what is my version of success?
  • and what is my happy?

You need to define happiness on your own terms.

And while it’s vital to work towards your goals and toward future happiness, we still need be happy today. This is a lesson I’ve learned through the process of my education – on the pre-med and med-school treadmill, it became second nature to just keep my head down and worry about whatever came next, thinking happiness (and actually living) should just be deferred until I reached the end. Big mistake. I feel like I missed out on a lot of my early-mid-20’s. Besides, how do we know if we have tomorrow, much less years down the road? We each need to cultivate happiness now, in addition to working toward a smiling, content future.

Happiness has been said to be the key to life.

20130926-155756.jpg Here are five steps I’ve incorporated to find MY happy and cultivate it in my life each day:

  1. Write a “My Happiness Note” – take an active, participant role in your happiness. Take 10-20 minutes and write out the core things that make you happy and that you need (and even what you want to be able to say you did/lived for when you reach your later years).
    Mine include: constant world travel; a solid, close family life; a flexible daily/weekly career & routine to allow for my many (and always evolving) passions; a need for daily self-improvement…and helping others to do the same; and adequate financial security to allow me to help provide for family, get quality food, a decent roof over my head, healthcare and other essentials (like paying the essential bills), and to let me travel and see the globe.
    You can also include other things like activities or hobbies that make you feel good – for example, I know I need to make time each week for exercise and to relax by myself in order for me to stay sane and centered.
  2. Accept yourself, in all your flaws and amazing-ness. You are who you are meant to be and where you are meant to be in this moment. Stop thinking you “should be further” than you are. Tell yourself that you are enough (because you are).
  3. Ask a question. When you’re struggling to make a big decision or with not having something you want, ask yourself: Will getting that thing (or saying yes/no to that decision) make me happy? Then ask yourself: Can I be happy if I don’t achieve/do/have that?
  4. Practice gratitude. You will be happier. By focusing on bringing a sense of gratitude into my life each day, I realize just how much there is to be thankful for. Try keeping a gratitude journal – I like to keep mine by my bed and write down a few things I’m grateful for each day before I go to sleep.
  5. Share it. Others want to see you happy and will actually feed off of it. Have you ever noticed how much happier you become when you hang around others who are joyful and smiling? It’s probably the best thing that’s contagious.

So, as we begin to fully transition into autumn, now is a great time to reflect on the seasons past and assess where we are now. Take some time for you this weekend to get yourself feeling refreshed, light, and grinning from ear to ear. You deserve it.

20130926-160753.jpg

What is YOUR happy? Do you have any tips to cultivating a greater sense of happiness in your life? Share below!

So What Is Holistic Health Anyway?

20130807-113204.jpg

The Holistic Shape Up Tagline and Mantra

Last week, I was catching up with my mom, and as we got to talking about my career and what I’m up to with Holistic Shape Up, she told me that several of my relatives had been reading my blog posts and asked her “so what does ‘holistic’ mean anyway?”. She said the question kind of caught her off-guard, and when she went to answer it, she found it difficult to explain it too! This all got me thinking that, although the term “holistic” and the phrase “holistic approach to healthcare” seem to be thrown around a lot in our society recently as the concept is becoming more well-known, the term is pretty vague.
So what does “holistic” mean, and why
do I believe so firmly in taking this approach
to health?

According to Merriam-Webster, “holistic” is defined as “of or relating to holism; relating to or concerned with wholes or with complete systems rather than with the analysis of, treatment of, or dissection into parts” (1).

It helps to think of “holistic” as “whole-istic,” because holistic health or medicine looks at the entire person and all the factors that contribute to health and disease. This means not only examining the physical symptoms or causes of illness, but also the mental, emotional, and other lifestyle components of any human’s life – because all of these things inevitably effect us.

This is very different from Western medicine, which is reductionist in nature: divided into specific specialists, each focused on one particular organ or organ system. Along these lines, physical symptoms are often the main thing addressed by Western medicine; although it is definitely important to stop the pain and discomfort of any illness/disease, focus also needs to be on finding long-term, sustainable solutions to the root cause of those symptoms. A holistic approach will not only look at symptoms and physical causes of illness, but also what else in the person’s life might be causing imbalance. However, holistic medicine is not pitted against Western medicine. Instead, holistic healthcare includes western concepts, in addition to all other theories, such as eastern medicine, nutrition, homeopathy, spirituality, and exercise. It looks at everything – to get a WHOLE picture!

source (2)

If you think about the human body, it makes sense that you can’t necessarily just take the heart or just the digestive system, address its aches and pains, and expect the whole person to be “healthy” – because even if that one part is the cause of disease, it does not exist in isolation. Your nervous system connects with everything; your blood flows through vessels coursing throughout your whole body, your lymphatic system travels alongside your blood vessels; nutrients from your food, oxygen, hormones, neurotransmitters and other chemicals can travel from one organ to another. It’s all interconnected.

Take it one step further: the mind-body-spirit connection. Not all physical symptoms/disease have physical causes. We all know that a stressful life can cause headaches, stomach ulcers, hair loss, and all kinds of other outward effects. This is just one example of how various aspects of your life (whether it’s your career, your relationships, your financial struggles, or anything else that happens during the day), can lead to problems in your physical body. A holistic practitioner will address your mental, physical and emotional health and seek out where any imbalances exist so that sustained healing can occur. How can you be truly “healthy” and “feel good” if your job is causing you endless emotional pain, or if you’re in a strained relationship with your spouse? I don’t think you can.

source (3)

The goal of holistic health is overall wellness. This way, your happiness, joy, self-
esteem, vitality, and empowerment are all enhanced, and you can truly live as the best, healthiest version of yourself.

This is the purpose of my work. My intention and promise with Holistic Shape Up is to listen wholeheartedly to each of my clients and work with them to find their own “healthy,” by looking at your whole life, not just your physical concerns, and support you to discover simple, natural dietary, exercise, and lifestyle shifts to create lasting positive change for life-long health, so that you can go into each day feeling happy, fulfilled, and full of life. Because everyone deserves that.

And that’s where my tagline (pictured at the start of the post) comes in:

           Move. Your body each day, in a way that feels good to you.
           Eat. Real food that nourishes your body.
           Connect. With others, with your spiritual beliefs, and with yourself.
           Thrive. As your best self, by incorporating the first three tenants into your daily life.

MECT, each and every day.

Ps. If you enjoyed what you read, and you’re ready to transform your health and your life, sign up for my free “Game Changer” Consultation today

References:
1. “Holistic.” Merriam-Webster.com. Merriam-Webster, n.d. Web. 6 Aug. 2013. <http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/holistic&gt;.
2. “Human Physiology: The Nervous System.” Wikibooks.org. 7 Aug. 2013. <http://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/Human_Physiology/The_Nervous_System&gt;.
3. “Integrative Nutrition Plate.” Institute for Integrative Nutrition. 7 Aug. 2013. <http://www.integrativenutrition.com/glossary/plate&gt;.

Meet My Therapist: Her Name is Yoga

And she is a savior.

20130715-181225.jpg

Recently, my life has kind of been in an upheaval of change. Most of the changes, mind you, have been incredibly positive:

  • I graduated from medical school
  • I moved up the east coast from North Carolina to Pennsylvania
  • I traveled abroad
  • I am learning how to balance being back in an area with family and old friends close
  • I am finally “out in the real world” – no more being a full-time student living off of loan disbursements
  • I’m training for my fourth marathon
  • And finally, I made a huge professional change when I realized that the traditional road a physician takes upon graduating medical school is not the path for me and does not make me happy.

I am now following my dreams & opening my own holistic health coaching & fitness practice where I guide clients to increase their energy, decrease their stress, banish their cravings, lose weight & tone up, and enhance their inner health & beauty (thereby reducing their risk of illness) in a personalized, natural, whole foods focused, non-pharmaceutical manner. It is exhilarating! But it’s a huge change, and I’d be lying if I told you it wasn’t a tad scary to turn your back on a sure thing and instead follow your gut (or heart, or whatever you want to call it) & build your own niche in society.

20130715-181244.jpg

Anyway, there’s been a lot of good life “adjustments” recently. I am/was in need of some stability, reflection, and stress relief. And I don’t know about you, but my root nature is an anxious, Type A, “I want all the details figured out, and I want a solid back-up plan & then a back-up plan to the back-up plan, and it better all make realistic sense or else I’m going to be worried” woman. I also like to figure everything out myself, including figuring out the “whys” of my own emotions, feelings, and personality traits, and I believe that this fact about me is why the traditional therapy route I tried at one point in the past didn’t stick. Yoga didn’t really stick at first either. But I noticed that I was able develop a sense of calm, of serenity, and of almost complete non-stress at the end of a session (whether in my living room or a studio) that I never experienced anywhere else. I need that, and I’m grabbing tight and running with it now. In a business development talk I attended recently, the lecturer told us to “just say ‘yes'” to whatever opportunity comes my way, so I’m saying yes: yes to becoming a yogini and yes to taking my therapy to the mat. Yoga allows me to come as I am, in whatever form, energy level, mindset, and level of physical ability I have that day. While I’m with her “in session,” I can even keep my thoughts, feelings, and worries to myself if want, or if I’m comfortable, I can release them into the world if. I don’t even need to talk if I don’t want to – I can simply step inside, unroll my mat, curl into child’s pose, and just be. At the same time, I feel a sense of something larger and a part of a loving community with the chant of every “ohm” and the coordinated movement of every flow. There is no feeling of judgment, and I feel free to go as far as I want to go with any pose, stretch, or thought. I can push myself to “my edge” and beyond, or I can relax back into comfort.

20130715-181303.jpg

Yoga gives me a sense of connection to my innermost self by giving me a space to be alone with my thoughts. She guides me to be conscious of both my breathing and my body in space. Furthermore, she brings awareness to my tense shoulders, rigid neck, or stiff lower back, displaying where I’m pocketing my worries & stress & allowing me to drop them on the mat. Yoga lets me know that it’s okay not to hang on. It’s okay to be calm. It’s okay to be present and not worry about the future. It’s okay to love myself for who I am right now. I leave with serenity and bliss and an easy smile on my face. Ready to take on my day with compassion and confidence. Every time. I can’t ask much more of a therapist. I think I’ll keep coming.

20130715-181327.jpg

Have you tried yoga? If so, what do you like most about your practice? If not, what’s holding you back? How do you bring yourself back to center from the fluxes and stresses in your life? Do you like to talk it out or figure it out yourself? I’d love to hear from you.