Natural-Born Health

the site of historic boy's fort. georgia, in the fall.

the site of historic boy's fort. georgia, in the fall.

In my backyard growing up, we had a huge pine island in the center of green grass. Beyond that, woods went on for what seemed like miles. On the right side of the yard was Boys Fort, the left, across our neighbor’s yard, was Girl’s. I remember running from one side to the other  (maybe with a water balloon) to the other side of the grass to infiltrate enemy territory. If I try,  I can still remember those days very well - the way the grass felt on my ankles and how dirt was cold to the touch. I remember belonging to the mess, feeling comfortable covered in sweat and the faint smell of the Earth.

Now, I live in Brooklyn. And while beautiful in a different way, nature is harder to come by. Outside my door are miles of sidewalk, not mysterious woods with solemn trees and crunchy leaves. Now there’s green growing in small patches and you have to walk a bit to find a piece large enough to sprawl out on.

It’s crazy, but there may actually be some validating science to that carefree, connected feeling well all had as children. And it’s enough that, in the name of wellness, we should all probably quit adulting for a few minutes to lay in the grass and feel the blades between our gown-up toes.

It’s an activity called, “Grounding,” or “Earthing,” and while it sounds as basic as it gets, the science is a bit trickier. The thought is that our bodies need to connect to the negatively charged Earth, and our current lifestyle has removed this connection. With traditional footwear, houses, elevated beds, and city life, our direct contact with the Earth’s electrons has become close to non-existent.

The science is still up for debate and the studies aren’t extensive, but the case is mounting for grounding as a viable health tool. Small studies show this technique may have some pretty significant effects. It was shown that various study participants slept better, had increased thyroid function, increased immune response, reduced pain and inflammation, and lower cortisol levels. That’s not too shabby for such a simple and easy health practice.

While the science may not be enough to make us immediately buy a grounding mat on Amazon Prime, (mats are a more convenient, in-home way to get exposure to those electrons), it’s definitely worth it to take time to get back to nature. Try taking your shoes off in the grass, walking through the woods, or even just sitting on a bench in the park. No one can argue against nature having some serious healthy powers. Not to mention, it’s a helluva lot cheaper than expensive spa treatments and prescription drugs.

See you in the park.

Power Struggle

I don’t care who you are or what box you marked on your election ballot, I think it’s safe to say that we’re all war torn and weakened by this election season. And for us younger generations, the subsequent dissent is unlike what we’ve ever seen or felt before. It doesn’t help that it doesn’t look like it’s ending any time soon…

This sort of heavy atmosphere weighs hard on our wellbeing. The stress of our own intense opinions mixed with the constant noise and vibration from the world is a lot to handle. And, because of this, it seems our search for comfort food and outside soothers is at an all time high. Here are two, very simple examples I, personally, saw this past week:

  1. I pulled a muscle in my back and finally broke down and decided to book a massage. (self-care is hard for me too, sometimes) I called Saturday morning, and asked for an appointment. Almost as if she couldn’t believe it herself, she said, “I’m so sorry. We’re actually booked up through next week.” After a google click mess, and a few more unsuccessful attempts at appointments, I finally found an eastern body-work office in midtown with good yelp reviews and an open time-slot. I made my appointment and was on my way. During the massage, I could hear the protesters outside the window as they marched the lengths of Manhattan streets. Outside the door of my private room, I heard the voice of another masseuse say, “I’ve been busier this week than any other this year," she said. "I honestly think it might be the election.”
  2.  Our corner coffee shop is a hit-or-miss kind of place. The kind of place you love for just that reason. Chatty baristas sometimes forget your order, the food is good, but slow to come, and the colorful cast of characters keeps things interesting. Our friend behind the counter put last week’s carb intake into poignant perspective – “We seriously never sell out of bagels. On our busiest, most hung-over Sunday, we’ll get low, but we never run out. Wednesday after the election, we sold out in just under 2 hours.

That's real folks. Point being: we’re tired. We’re looking for rest for our bodies and happy feels from our foods. I get it. It’s natural and it’s real. And, believe it or not, I think it’s healthy.

I think a lot of other things going on are healthy, too. Protesting is healthy. Voicing your opinion, whatever it may be, is healthy. Finding comfort is healthy.

Take care of yourself. Find quiet time. Turn off your devices, maybe for the first time ever, outside of being on an airplane. Shut out the noise of the world for a little while. Calm down your nervous system and intentionally relax every muscle in your body. Shut. Down.

And then, when you’re ready and you power all those devices back up, remember that silence is never very far away. 

 

 

A Healthier Kind of Holiday

It’s getting chillier. Boots are coming out of storage. While I’m busy planning my Thanksgiving dinner and trying to remember how to style sweaters, other overachievers are already hanging twinkle lights. Silently, I curse those people unwilling to live in the moment and savor the current, pumpkin-spiced season. Though secretly, all the while, the hypocrite in me starts to jump ahead thinking about the upcoming new year.

Throughout my time health coaching, I’ve noticed that there’s a trend – avoid or put-off all thoughts of an improved life until, about, 10am on Jan 1st. Then, go balls-to-the-wall with unreasonable fitness regimens, strict diets, and self loathing until, roughly, Feb 1st, when inevitably, the sudden self-imposed high demands of new year’s goals beat the spirit. Hopes are abandoned, along with resolutions, due to an increased sense of overwhelm.

And we do this. Every. Single. Year.

If you identify, I have one question. What if, this year, you didn’t do that? What if you stopped, decided to live your life in balance with a focus on finding health, instead of achieving a smaller pant size.

Look, I’m all about goals. I’m even all about new year’s resolutions. But even more important than either of those things, is the fact that you have to have a reasonable plan as to how to get there.

It is very common to feel the stress of the holiday season, not just from the pressure of finding the right gift, but from the temptations that are prevalent. It’s normal to feel anxiety and fear when thinking about the inevitable feasts that will be eaten and sweets that will be available. To wonder how indulging will negatively affect the goals that we’re trying to accomplish.

But the thing is, it doesn’t have to be that way. Stress and worry are unnecessary and simply add to the pressure. You can enjoy the season, eat the cookies, drink the nog, and still come out ahead. You can wake up on January 1st with a clear mind and high self esteem, and even better, it can continue well past February’s traditional resolution failures.

Holiday Brussels.

Holiday Brussels.

With a stressful season immanent, now is actually one of the best times to commit to a new mindset. But not in the way most usually do. Don’t worry about the ways in which your life will be thrown off kilter in the coming months, instead, dedicate yourself to making the time to take care of yourself amid the mess. Schedule in easy workouts (simple walks will do), pull 3-ingredient recipes for nights you come home and don’t want to cook. Put caps on the number of drinks you’ll have at certain parties and commit to water between each one. Vow to immerse yourself in conversation at holiday gatherings, not just hang by the dessert table. Focus on what you WILL do, not what you won’t. Don’t avoid the cake, have a small slice, move on in life, and celebrate the season.

If you’re concerned about the upcoming months and need help navigating, please reach out! I’ve got a holiday special for the months of November/December that includes email/text support, personalized goals, and holiday cooking ideas. You don’t have to go it alone.

You can definitely enjoy the holiday with no harm done.

All good things,

Sarah.

 

 

Newsflash: You Will Fail.

I know what you’re thinking – what a terrible health coach! She’s the worst.

But here’s why the fact that you will fail is the best news you’ll hear all day:

Whether you believe it now or not, it's true - at some point along the way to living healthfully, you will do something that you wish you hadn’t done. Accepting that fact, and then practicing self-compassion when it happens is your NUMBER ONE tool for long-term success.

·      I used to think that if I wasn’t losing weight, I must not be trying hard enough.

·      I used to think that if I weighed myself, an unfavorable number would make me eat less the next day.

·      I used to think that being hard on myself would get me the results I wanted.

But what really happened was, I spent a lot of time living in a moderate state of crazy, counting calories, working out endlessly, starving, with a busted metabolism.

I’m all about setting goals. I believe in having a clear vision of a realistic, but ideal future. I do think one should be flexible, but knowing what you’re working towards is definitely motivation. No argument there.

But, punishing yourself every time you make a decision that’s not 100% in-line with making that vision become reality, is not motivation.

One of the biggest reasons people are averse to self-compassion is the worry that it leads to self-indulgence - you give yourself an inch and you’ll take a mile. We think discipline and hand-slaps are what keep us in-line. But what if that’s a societal condition we’ve all been taught to believe as adults? You wouldn’t punish a child for eating too many cookies, because you care about them. You don't want them to feel badly about a very human mistake. Why not apply the same principles to yourself?

The idea behind self-compassion isn’t that you’re continually giving yourself a Get-Out-of-Jail-Free card. Many studies show that forgiving yourself leads to taking responsibility for your actions without feeling overwhelmed by negative emotions. Then, instead of going further down that rabbit hole, self-compassion leads to empowerment and greater success in the future.

But self-punishment isn’t an easy habit to break! Don’t beat yourself up for having negative feelings (see how this is a slippery slope??). Self-compassion is a practice, not an overnight achievement, and it requires a continual coming-back.

And that’s okay.

Ready for a compassionate health program that teaches you how to live a healthier lifestyle? Check out the upcoming dates of This is Not a Detox here.

Happy and Healthy things!

Sarah.