10 Mindsets that can lead to Eating Disorders

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Think like This? You could be at risk for an Eating Disorder 

  1. “I’m just being SUPER HEALTHY” 

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Beautiful display of yummy fruits and veggies right?!

Consider this metaphor: You are going to be stranded on an Island for 6 months. A boat comes by with supplies and says that you can receive a treasure chest full of pizza or a treasure chest full of lettuce for the entire 6 months. Which do you choose?

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I hope you said Pizza, because it is the only way that you would survive. I hear this in session often, “I was “BAD” today. I had___X___ Food.” Or “I did so well today I ate ‘GOOD’ food like lettuce, cucumbers, and carrots.” However, isn’t it all relative? If you were in this desert island situation, lettuce would be the “BAD” choice and Pizza would be the “GOOD” choice.

Pizza has the necessary nutrients: carbs, fats, and proteins for survival. But here is the reality: When you restrict carbs, dairy, calories, fats, (“sauce/dressing on the side please” sound familiar?), or proteins, and you do this restricting/controlling action over and over, you are essentially choosing the treasure chest of lettuce. And for most people, this ideology lasts much longer than 6 months, it lasts years. So please consider the treasure chest of lettuce, and ask yourself if restricting whatever foods from your diet might actually be depleting you of necessary nutrients.

2.”OMG I hate my ____X____ (body part).” 

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Walking into a mall bathroom and seeing teenagers looking at their flat little tummies and trying to grab non-existent fat rolls, while saying, “Ugh I’m so fat!”Look how we are even influencing our children with our own self-hatred! It’s heart breaking. Our culture has normalized critical harsh self talk.

  1. “I COULD NEVER eat whatever I want to without getting fat” 

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Eating disorders are Anxiety Disorders. The anxious belief that “I can’t eat that without gaining weight” strips us of any joy to eat that which we desire. This is a subconscious diet mentality that triggers biohunger- eating and craving the nutrients that you are not eating or tripling up on foods because they just don’t satisfy. Instead of eating for balance or overall health, we eat for weight loss because of a deep fear. It’s an imprisoning way to feel about something that was naturally and essentially supposed to be a good thing in our lives.

  1. “Diets are good for me.”

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Diets always seem to count calories in some way or another- all about restriction. They take away needed nutrients and your body might shrink for a while. However, eventually you will hit a low point where you will need to go into overeating to compensate for the starvation you just put yourself through- then you usually gain the weight back. This is called YO-YO dieting, and it is a lot of stress on your body.

  1. “If I am Hungry, I feel powerful and disciplined. If I am full, I feel gross and like a failure.” 

Eating food naturally satiates us to fullness, so if we think fullness is bad, food becomes the ENEMY. Food should not be the enemy, it should be our friend, as it is necessary for survival. We don’t consider oxygen or shelter the enemy, so why do we let food make us feel like a failure. Feeling hungry should not make us feel like this: imgres and Being full should not make us feel like this images-1 We should not run our car on empty, so we should fuel are tank, but not over-fuel it to the point of exploding! This is about listening to your body. Some days we feel hungrier. Some days we feel more full. Both are natural and normal, and it would do us a world of good to see them as such.

  1. “If I miss 1 workout, I will gain weight.” 

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As an athlete, this was something I used to struggle with a lot. Don’t get me wrong, I ate plenty. I loved to eat. Team dinners… carb loading for a tournament or race… rewarding myself with food for a really tough weekend of working out. Knowing that I worked out hard gave me what I felt like was freedom to overeat. Thus, if I didn’t workout one day, I felt like I should not allow myself this gift. While binging/overeating is never the healthy-intuitive-listening to your body response, neither is punishing your body by not eating just because you didn’t get your 10k run in. You will NOT gain weight from missing a single workout. Some days you are sick, some days you need a break to recover, and some days you just got too busy/exhausted… whatever the reason, you should listen to your body and rest.

  1. “Food makes me feel better.” 

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Ice cream after a break-up, Bacon Mac & Cheese, Brownies, donuts, and cookies, nostalgic foods from childhood… they’re soooooo delicious. A food coma may numb you out, or give us a blood sugar high that makes us feel a little better for the moment. However, the truth is that there is NO food that will resolve or fix the negative feelings we have. We have to deal with our feelings. We have to do the work.

  1. “If I eat something unhealthy, I might as well just give up today and start tomorrow. Or “Screw this week.” I’ll start next week.”

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If you know anyone who struggles with addiction, this is a very similar mindset. This thought that “well I messed up on my plan so… Forget the plan until tomorrow” creates a last meal mentality and increases the chances of binge eating for that day. Binge eating disorder really understands this thought process. You are trying to diet or restrict, but our bodies were not made to be starved, so we naturally crave and then eat intensely, because “well It’s the last time I will eat like this until I start my diet again tomorrow.” Do this over and over = weight gain. But here’s something to think about, the food will still be there tomorrow! Now you can eat when you are naturally hungry again. The rest of you meal that you aren’t hungry for, just box it up, it will still be in the fridge tomorrow. You don’t have to scarf it down tonight. Also, why does eating healthier foods and less healthy foods have to be like a pendulum swinging back and forth? Why can’t we just eat in a more balanced lifestyle where both are allowed?

  1. If I under eat, I will lose weight.

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Here is a harsh reality: your metabolism slows down. Also, remember when you were a teenager and your parents told you that you couldn’t do something? Didn’t it make you want to do it more? A life style of policing yourself and under-eating, usually results in a cycle of overeating and binges. Telling yourself I can’t have “X” is a mentality that precepts you to want “X” more. Thinking, I need more control and/or discipline? You can only do this for so long. Your body wasn’t meant to restrict. You body wasn’t meant to binge. It was meant to eat when hungry and stop when full. However, when we restrict our food intake throughout a day or week or month, eventually you’re body will need to overcompensate, and you will most likely engage in eating that feels out of control. Intense eating is a natural response to restriction/starvation.

  1. No one will ever love me at the weight I am at. No one will ever love me or stay if I gain weight. I will be alone forever. 

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I get it. We were made for community and connection. We should, however, feel confident that the people we are spending time with want to be loyal to us though the highs and lows of life: whether we are at our best or struggling, whether we have short hair or long hair, whether or not we wear make up, or whatever weight we are at.  Do you really want the person that chooses you to be as flippant as leaving over 5 lbs? even 40lbs? And I think the best and most pertinent question is this: Can you love yourself through the ups and downs? Can you love yourself at the weight you are at?  Because if you can’t love yourself, how can someone else?

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Walkin on Sunshine

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Today is a day to celebrate! We are alive, mostly healthy, unique, have people in our lives that care about us, and our American government just offered love, acceptance, tolerance, and equality to all people who love and want to marry.

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So if today is a day to celebrate, then why is it so easy to walk through life complaining all of the time? We assume the worst, jump to conclusions, criticize others, and are especially self-critical. So QUESTION: Can EVERYDAY be a day to celebrate- to feel loved, to love others, to have a positive outlook? It’s not always easy, and it takes some work, but here are some DIY techniques that can help you look on the bright side.

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Get the Day Started Right:

Studies have shown that making the choice to get out of bed and start the day like this: images-5 (rather than being forced out by bathroom necessities or the threat of lateness where you feel like this: Sleep) helps you feel like you have some agency and control in your life. So my encouragement is to start the day by getting up, stretching tall, and thanking God for something that you are thankful for. Starting the day empowered and with gratitude in your heart will help the whole day feel better.

Remember the Good Times:

images-6Thinking back on positive memories, achievements, songs, and people who have had happy influences in your life elevates your mood and puts us in a good place in the here and now. This also can trigger us to remember what we were doing during those memories that was working so that we can get back to that place when we are struggling.

Make Small Goals and Achieve Them:

Make a list of 3 manageable things you want to accomplish that day and then do all that you can to achieve them. Plus, it will feel so good to cross one of those short term goals off when you have finished it. When our goals are too huge and too many, sometimes we can feel disappointed by not being able to meet our own unrealistic expectations. So start small… and when you reach your goals, feel successful and let it increase your confidence!

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Don’t Let Anything Cloud your Sunshine:

“This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine” right? There are things that can get in the way of our light shining that sometimes we don’t even recognize. Ever felt HANGRY? and then shortly after you have a snack and your mood gets better? soft-pretzel-gif

Try to have a difficult conversation with a loved one late at night and it blows up into major fight? Being tired or lonely can cloud our sunshine, but sometimes just a nap or calling a friend can help our mood. It could be as simple as that, so check in with yourself and see if the answer to your happiness is a nap, snack, or phone call away.

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Fake It Til You Make It:

Sometimes when we feel stuck or in a low place, we just have to put our wants/desire to feel better into action before our beliefs and feelings will follow. Thus, if you want to be a happy person, act like a happy person. If you want to be a loving, kind, selfless person, put it into action- maybe volunteer or do something for others- and start living out the person you want to be.

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You can do this!

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Your day can get sunny and brighter with just a few moves. Get a suntan. Poke a hole through the raincloud. Try to take just one step in the direction of looking on the bright side this week. YOU CAN DO IT!

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MONEY MONEY MOOONAY!!!!

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I don’t know about you, but just thinking about Finances STRESSES ME OUT! You work so hard to make it, and then it just seems like it all disappears into thin air. Taxes, tollroad pay by mail bills, utilities that seem to increase without reason, health insurance, a little charity here or there, tips added to your food bills, increase in grocery prices, or just a cup of coffee with a friend. It all adds up, and can cause stress in ones life.

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So today, I dedicate my blog to ideas for saving some money, so that hopefully you can save it for the things in life you are REALLY excited to use those hard earned bills for…

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1. With Your CAR:

Be a one car family… sure that may mean a few Uber rides, carpooling or batch errands every once in a while so that you figure things out between you and others who may need the car, but you are saving money on the extra vehicle, and all associated costs like gas, insurance, maintenance, and registration fees.

If you do have a car, Drive a smaller car with better gas milage. images-2

Batch your errands: make a list and do it all within an afternoon, so you aren’t running errands everyday and driving needless miles. Reduce that carbon footprint, and save money. Carpool with others who may need to do similar errands.

Online bill pay: You don’t use the envelope/stamp or use the car to get to the place to pay your bill.

Bike more. If it’s within 2 miles, take a walk. Get that exercise in. Use those legs as God intended.

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2. At HOME:

Remember to turn the lights off, unplug stuff, turn off the air conditioning or heat when you leave.

Wash less clothes. Use the smell test. Hang dry your clothes. They will actually last longer.

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Maintain your stuff. I took a learning lesson from My husband. He has one nice pair of sunglasses that he has had for years and he continues to take care of them. I had 10 pairs of $5-10 dollar sunglasses that I have all scratched up/broken/lost/etc. I’m consuming more waste, hurting the environment in the process. I’m still learning.

Sell your stuff you don’t use that’s still good. Make some money back.

3. Entertainment Stuff:

Go to the library– you should rarely have to pay for books.

Do more fun things at home, look for free fun in your city such as http://freefuninaustin.com/

What subscriptions do you absolutely need? With the wealth of the internet videos, articles, etc. do you really need magazine subscriptions? Do you need Amazon prime and Netflix? Think about it.

Travel frugally by buying packaged deals with airlines and rental cars, shop around, plan ahead. They say Tuesday/wednesday is the best day to buy tickets.

Minimize your vices: drinking, smoking, bakery items, fancy coffee, boba tea, online poker… all of this stuff adds up quick. We all have our one thing that if we can cut back or cut out completely, This can save you THOUSANDS of dollars a year!

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4. With regards to Shopping:

Make a list, a budget, shop only for what you need to get, and look online for cheaper prices (but beware if there are shipping costs- this is when amazon prime might be beneficial).

Can you DIY (do it yourself- look for ideas on https://www.pinterest.com/wendyLMFT )? Ok, so maybe not, then look for used first, buy only items on sale, there are enough vendors in the world that someone will likely have it on sale.

For that super desired item, ask yourself the following questions. Will it really enrich my life? Do I just want it because it’s cool right now? and Check back in a couple weeks or a month (even better), Do I still want it?

When buying gifts for others: DIY, give consumables, food, stuff that makes you think of them. Be heartfelt instead of deep pocketed.

5. When it comes to Food.

Eat out less. Yes for special occasions I get it, but this will save you tip, tax, parking, gas, and the up charge on food!

Take inventory of your pantry before you shop, again make a menu for the week, and shop only for what you need to get. Don’t go to the store hungry!

Try to pack healthy snacks so you won’t eat out or grab that 711 burrito. Even the healthy food convenient stores carry is much more expensive than if you bought a box of those items in bulked, served yourself out a portion at home and took it with you.images-6

Cook in bulk (which is usually cheaper per ounce of food), then pack left overs for the next days lunch or freeze left overs. Buy frozen veggies: less preservatives than canned and still holds most of the nutritional value of fresh.

Eat less meat. just try it a couple meals a week. I think you will see a change in your wallet size, and waist-line.

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Anyway, I hope some of these ideas were helpful and you can see positive change in your finances by implementing just a few. Time to cultivate and grow your hard earned money!

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When to stop obsessing over him…

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Here’s the deal.

Most of us have dealt with a break up or rejection. We didn’t want it to end, we wanted them to choose us. They didn’t, but yet we still feel the need to check up on their twitter, facebook, instagram, etc.

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Did they move on? Are they with someone else? These are normal questions one might have after a break up, but that’s where it should end. There is a healthy level of curiosity, and then their is stalking.

One is wonder, a single phone call or text periodically, and/or a conversation about an ex or a love interest with a mutual friend. The other is intrusive, unwanted, disrespectful, fixated, and selfish.

Stalking or Obsession with a person crosses an imaginary boundary. Acts that are considered stalking can include but is not limited to: persistent texts, emails, phone calls, monitoring, surveillance, search trespassing, and other criminal, crude, or violent acts. An important question to ask: how are my actions affecting the other person.

The reality is most of us have felt this romantic obsession at least once in our life. A break up happens and we don’t feel our secure selves. We feel a little neurotic or crazy.

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Healthy cut-off is important for both your emotional health and the object of your affection’s emotional and physical safety. So how do you end your strong urges to know everything about what an ex or a love interest is doing? How do you cease obsessing and acting on it?

1. Don’t try to deal with this on your own. Please ask for help! Tell a trusted friend or therapist that you are struggling, and have them check in with you to keep you accountable for not acting on your impulses.

2. This might be the hardest piece of advice to stomach, but FEEL YOUR FEELINGS. Grieve. Cry. Deal. Process. The bad ones suck, I know, but learning how to deal with them and tolerate will make you a better person and help you deal with disappointment in life, which is inevitable.

3. End all contact- Do not keep the hope as an existing force with continued contact: Do what deleting and blocking you must to end the texts, emails, phone calls, Facebook status checks, Instagram and twitter monitoring. If you cannot deal with your feelings without compulsively acting on your obsession, then pick a few activities that make you feel happy so you can distract yourself until you are able to tolerate these negative emotions without acting out.

4. Take them off the pedestal: The object of your obsession is not perfect, and they are not the only way for you to be happy. Thus, I encourage you to be realistic about this man or woman. They may have some good qualities, but also name some of the bad. Not for revenge sake, but to understand that they may not be the sole person to fulfill you. Fill yourself first. Do you really want to be with someone who doesn’t want you too? Maybe one of your life goals is to feel loved and in love. That is a great goal. YOU HAVE TO REALIZE, THOUGH, THAT THIS PERSON HAS DECLINED BEING THE PERSON WHO WILL HELP YOU DO THAT.

Break ups and rejection are so hard. However, if they do not want you in their life, leave them alone. IT IS THE HEALTHIEST OPTION SO THAT YOU ALSO CAN MOVE ON. YOU CAN DO THIS. BE PROUD OF YOURSELF WHEN YOU DO!

XOXOXO- Making Love: what it’s really all about.

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Here’s the short answer: feeling secure, precious, special, and safe.

Valentines Day is coming up and so I decided to dedicate this post to talking in detail about Making Love. Don’t let your jaws drop to far before I can tell you it’s not what you think. In conversations with clients, friends, and colleagues, I have come to learn a Universal Truth: Sex can be Beautiful, but it can also be a source of great Stress and Hurt. It’s a complicated topic with one having so many questions and thoughts. Am I ready? Are they committed? Will I be good? Will they be good? Will it hurt? If I wait until marriage and then it sucks, what then? If I do it now, will I regret it if we don’t last? I’m scared. I’m excited. I’m nervous. This feels Good. This hurts. Ahhhh….

Thus, I am here to take away the stress of Sex and instead encourage you to build the relationship you are in by making love WITHOUT doing it. Just try it. Or try a few! Here are some tips:

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  1. Write each other letters, stories, songs, or poetry.images-1
  2. Tell them you love them.
  3. Hold them while they cry
  4. Celebrate with them when they succeed.
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  6. Cook them dinner or bake them something.
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  8. Volunteer together, or individually volunteer for a cause they love.
  9. Choose a special song together.
  10. Dance in the house together or Go out dancing.
  11. Send flowers or Candy.
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  13. Hold Hands.
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  15. Brag about them to your friends in front of them.
  16. Play a sport together.
  17. Make eye contact and really listen to them.

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18. Trust them.

19. Talk on the phone or text.

20. Meet each other’s families

21. Give each other a promise ring.

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22. Be best friends

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23. Flirt with each other

24. Be faithful

25. Watch beautiful nature together

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26. Pray together

27. Make each other gifts

28. Encourage them to hang out with their friends

29. Be nice to their friends

30. Impress each other

31. Wash their car

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32. Make a list of what you like about them

33. Leave your phone at home while on a date with them

34. Share your dreams from the night before

35. Share your dreams in life with them

36. Set goals in life together

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37. Travel together

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38. Give gifts

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39. Tell them how you feel

40. Take a walk together

41. Go swimming

42. Give each other massages

43. Do something with them that only they love (ie. Fishing)

44. Go grocery shopping buying only what you need for the date and cook a meal together

45. Respect them

46. Kiss them

47. Go for a long hike or bike ride together

48. Tell them you care

49. Spoon, cuddle, snuggle

50. Walk arm in arm.

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51. Compliment them

52. Do work together side by side

53. Plan and take a road trip together

54. Throw a party together

55. Go to the library

56. Play minigolf together

57. Go on a picnic

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58. Go for a moonlit walk

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59. Hide a love note where the other can find it

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60. Eat dinner by candle light

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61. Give each other pet names

62. Whisper something nice or sexy in their ear in public

63. Go to a concert together

64. Play footsie

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65. Give them light touches/tickles on their back, neck, arms, and face

66. Send a funny card

67. Do something for them without being asked

68. Share private jokes

69. Take a bunch of fun selfies together, then don’t post them, keep them

I think these are enough helpful ideas to keep us super busy loving on our significant others or really anyone for a while! If you can think of anymore really great ideas, please email me at Wendy.LMFT@gmail.com.

The 4 W’s of Coming out of the Proverbial Closet

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First, Let me just say, if you have already gone through this process, congrats on the steps you have taken to get where you are today. Also, if you are not gay, but don’t know how to respond to those who might be planning to come out, hopefully this article will offer some encouragement, no matter which side of the argument you may be on. For those that are not sure of their own sexual orientation yet, that’s okay.  It’s okay to say that you are in a process. Lastly, if you are questioning whether you want to come out or not, I want to commend you for struggling through a difficult decision in life at a difficult time where acceptance still isn’t totally ubiquitous. But take heart, the movement towards acceptance, hope, and healing is happening. There are people, groups, and organizations that will welcome you with open arms.

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So lets talk about the 4 W’s of coming out.

To WHOM: make sure you first come out to someone you trust and also whom you really feel will accept you. Fear of rejection and anxiety are both things that homosexual individuals face and wrestle with more than heterosexual individuals. Feeling totally alone is one of the worst feelings, especially when you are embarking on this difficult road. Therefore, I ask you to pick someone who makes you feel safe and will hopefully accept you fully. Then, by having that one person’s full support as you choose your other audiences, it will make the responses good or bad, something you can deal with and process with someone who believes in you. You should prepare for the idea that some people still might respond how you had hoped, but not everyone is on the other side of history yet. I hope you know how brave you are!

(note to the responder: Please be Kind… Warm, Safe, Welcoming, Loving… Celebratory, Encouraging? All the better: but even if you don’t agree with their choice in life, they did choose you as a person they trust and important enough to tell you even if they thought you would reject them. I encourage that my role as a CHRISTIAN is to love others as God loves us. I also believe that our role as HUMANS is to love. There is already enough pain, hate, and strife in this world. Please don’t add to it.)

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WHAT will you say? Coming out is difficult, so figuring out the right way to do it will probably take some thought and consideration. I encourage that writing it out first will be helpful to weed out the details that don’t matter, (who you kissed, what it felt like?) and make sure you say the meat of the story clearly. “I am gay”, or “I am bisexual.” Leave no room for confusion or trying to convince you otherwise. Prefacing the big stuff: Let them know why you chose them as a person worthy of such new and important information. Let them know that they don’t have to agree, but you hope for respect. Allow them to ask questions because they will have some for you.

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(note to the responder: First, feel honored. He or She wanted to be REAL and HONEST with you, so the least you can do is let them know “ I am glad that you trusted me enough to tell me.” If you really do disagree, judgment, animosity, and exclusion will not change their sexual orientation. Secondly, Ask questions. He or she just told you a huge piece of important information. If you need to, ask your questions, to understand better. Try not to make assumptions.)

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WHEN is the right time? The truth is there is never going to be a perfect time. So do it NOW!!! Just kidding! IT IS ESSENTIAL TO GO AT YOUR OWN PACE, so you can be true to who you are. when they can focus on you, not be distracted. Preface your invitation to talk as, I want to talk to you about something really important, so that they don’t invite anyone else along, or sit on their phone. Ask them to put all distractions away.

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(note to the responder: make time for him or her. If it is this important enough that they wanted to tell you this, the other stuff can happen/ be done at a later time. Focus in Now. Be present.)

WHERE is the right place? Somewhere with minimal distractions, but most importantly where you feel safe. Are you so scared of their reaction you fear your safety? Maybe in a public place is best, or maybe not at all. However, if you do feel safe, I encourage you meet in a place that feels neutral. A Neutral location will help the receiver feel comfortable so that they may ask questions, and you to feel safe to share as well.

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FOLLOWING THESE 4 W’s should help ease the process of coming out. Plus, I really hope that being truthful with those who are an important part of your life about who you are and what your sexual orientation is will help bring an increased sense of personal integrity, increased self esteem, and increased communication and honesty with others. Good luck!!

Aside: Self-acceptance is the first and most important step to this process. Coming out about your sexuality will be easier to do and easier to accept dissenting opinions if you are more solid and confident about who you are. I encourage you to see help and talk to a therapist, as I believe in our education and training to be neutral, good listeners, and question askers to help you become more aware of yourself and your wants/needs. Please don’t hesitate to contact me: Wendy.LMFT@gmail.com or my phone number (512) 649 1049. Another great therapist in the Austin area who works very well with these issues is April Owen who you can contact at: (832) 421 4968 or Dr_o@live.com .

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Feeling Tired? How to Get Better ZZZZZZs

imagesSleep is just as important as food or water to our bodies. We can actually die from extreme amounts of not sleeping, so why do we honor the notion that babies need all of that amazing sleep,Sleeping-Baby

but don’t give it to ourselves as an adult when we work harder than ever and have acquired so much more emotional, mental, and physical cumulative stress over the day than we did as babies or children? The following tips will be a few helpful ways to get you those much needed Z’s to a happier, healthier, you.

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  1. Make sleep a priority. Friends, facebook, instagram, twitter, online shopping, the internet, work, chores, and stress will still be there in the morning. It can wait. If trying to fall asleep with an incomplete to do list will keep you up at night, I have found that writing a new list for the next day helps me get it off my chest. Plus, the number one I hear from clients for what they do for hours before bed, it’s browse social media. Sleep > Internet Gazing. If you are  better rested, you will actually be more productive with that to do list tomorrow.
  2. Use your bed for the following activities SLEEP, relaxing, partner playtime (if applicable at the appropriate age/maturity/time… I know I have teens who read this too), or meditation. Pick another place to catch up on work, watch tv, play on your ipad. I cannot stress this enough. Studies have shown that the blue light emitted from your phones, ipads, tablets, and computers keep your brain thinking that you are awake. Let your brain sleep.
  3. A hot tub, steam room, or sauna. These soothing contraptions dilate your blood vessels and get plenty of warm comfy oxygen floating around, which helps you relax and sleep better. Don’t have the money to pay for a fancy gym membership where these are accessible? A hot bath with some epsom salt will do the trick just fine!
  4. Working out super late can re-jump-start your energy, so I would try not to work out too late, but working out a few hours before bed (say- right before dinner can actually help you de-stress and sleep better.
  5. You can learn how much sleep you body needs. The trick to find out? Try your very best to go to bed at the same time every single night for 4 straight nights. Don’t set an alarm- just sleep until your body wakes you up (I know you are thinking, “when do I have 4 days in a row when I can NOT set an alarm? But if you can get a vacation or a 3 day weekend and add a day where you go in to work late, I promise it’s a cool test to do). Also, for purposes of this test, don’t nap during the day. By the 4th morning your body should have reached it’s balance after catching up on not enough sleep, and you have a good idea of how much you need. On day 1 or 2, usually your body is either used to lack of sleep so your body will wake up early even though you really are tired, or you will sleep 11 hours+ because it is overcompensating due to lack of restful Z’s during previous nights. In high school and college I could thrive on 6, but now I find about 9 is best for me. It doesn’t always happen but I really do feel best when I have gotten ~9 hours. Listen to your body. Everyone is different. Also, after you know your number of needed sleep hours, try to go to bed around the same time every night. Your body is an intelligent and intuitive creation. Just as it learns to know when it’s hungry, it also will learn how to get sleepy when it needs to.
  6. Do you need to consult a doctor? Pain, sleep apnea, or some medications could be affecting your sleep.
  7. Don’t eat a huge meal right before bed. Most people tell me they experience weird dreams, have nightmares, or sleep poorer right after having eaten a large meal before bed. Going to bed on a hungry stomach will keep you up too though, so if you are hungry have a light snack. Toast with peanut butter, or a small bowl of cereal. No caffeine, chocolate, soda (no soda ever!), or apples right before bed as these are all energizers!
  8. Cut back on Alcohol. This one may seem counter intuitive as we have all heard of the famous night-cap as well as the party guy who passed out to a peaceful almost dead slumber, but Alcohol actually interferes with sleep. This goes for nicotine as well.
  9. Keep Daytime naps short and before 3pm-ish so you can go to bed sleepy and ready for bed.
  10. If you are so emotionally stressed that you consistently cannot fall asleep, please seek therapeutic help. I am a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist. You can contact me at wendy.lmft@gmail.com and I would love to help or find a referral for someone who can help. There are so many good counselors out there. You just need to find whom will be the right fit for you.
  11. Keep a room dark and cool as best as you can for sleeping. This may mean it is harder to wake up, since you are all snuggled sweetly under the covers. I encourage you, however, to invest in curtains- having something to pull closed and keep your room dark at night an open up to the sunshine in the morning! Having natural light can help you wake up peacefully and improve your mood ever so slightly.
  12. Try to keep kiddos and pets sleeping in their respective sleeping quarters. Just remember, not only you and your choices, but each and every person/animal in your bed affects your sleep as well. So while I’m not telling you to kick your partner out of your bed, the less bodies affecting you, the better your chances for a good night sleep.

I hope these ideas have been helpful. I truly believe that sleeping better can improve your life. Being well rested definitely has shown to improve job performance, mood, productivity, workouts, and memory, not to mention improve all of the negative physical effects that your lack of Z’s can cause: baggy under eyes, dark circles, physical fatigue, and poor posture. Prioritize your ZZZZ’s and you will feel AmaZZZZing! Blessings, Sweet Dreams, and Sleep well!

8 Pieces of Take home Advice from 2014

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#1. Ask your questions when you have doubts, but ultimately listen to those who offer wise counsel.
My start to 2014 was difficult. I was suffering with symptoms of post concussive syndrome and had daily headaches, light sensitivity, noise sensitivity, and feeling super low. I was in and out of doctor’s offices with many Doctor recommendations for medicine that I refused to take, mostly due to my own pride. Finally, I took their advice and took the medicine they had been recommending for months. Miraculously, I felt better! I wish I had listened to them way sooner, after a couple weeks I wasn’t in pain anymore, I could finally work out again, be in noisy atmosphere’s again, and work again. I had my life back.

#2 Patience is a beautiful virtue worth pursuing:
The concussion healing process took months. However, I learned a lot. I also have learned much about patience in my relationship with my fiance. We each had our own journeys to go through to make sure we were ready for our joint adventure. Now we are! But it did take some time, and it was for sure worth it!

#3 Plan, Plan, Plan! Getting Licensed, Moving, Wedding Planning, and Starting Your Own Business is a lot of Work!
In the last year, I have gotten engaged, planned and executed a move from California to Texas, been planning our wedding, and we started up 2 business: Therapy Coffee and Tea, a mobile espresso bar, as well as my own therapy private practice Wendy LMFT. Let me tell you, I am a right brain dominant person, but to get all of this done, takes a lot of logistics, planning, discipline, follow-up, and persistence. As I approach my 30th birthday, I am having to plan more than ever to keep things calm and sane for me with all the new changes. Since they are all wonderful changes for my benefit and the benefit of my family, it is definitely worth the work.

#4 Don’t Forget your Family and Friends
With all of the aforementioned stuff that is going on in my life, it’s easy to get sidetracked or just too plain tired to hang out. But I NEED MY FRIENDS. When life gets stressful or busy, do not let friendships become unimportant. Friends are the people you will call when you need to move a couch, celebrate the fun stuff, cry over the crappy stuff, or just get some advice you don’t pay 100 dollars a session for 🙂

#5 Have fun! Stay sane: Whatever that means you need to do 
For me, it’s exercise, baking, having a good cry, or being outdoors. For you, maybe it’s quilting, working on cars, reading magazines or a good book, going to therapy, training for a marathon, dating, cooking, traveling, or whatever it is you do. If you don’t have one of these fun relaxing activities, find one!

#6 Keep a Budget
When I have a little extra spending cash, I tend to stop looking at exactly what I am buying item per item, which means I buy more. However, when I have a budget and a shopping list written out, I am less likely to buy things that I don’t need. Given the current average person’s debt in the country, a budget might be a great idea for the new year. Ideas at: Cheapskate

#7 When it Comes to Money, Trust SLOWLY
With starting our 2 businesses, WOW, have we learned a lot. We have had people take our money for a job and then not do jobs we hired them for. We have also had people do terrible work and provide terrible service and refuse to give our money back at the end of the day. We have had people be dishonest with us. It’s been a frustrating process. I am learning that while I want to believe that everyone is good, it is not necessarily true, especially when it comes to money.Some people are really good at first impressions. Get references for people. Pay for satisfaction guaranteed- completed work.

#8 Soak up Love, Soak up your Abilities:
As I am getting older and newly feeling how slow the rehab process is after sports’ injuries, watching my parents getting older, and watching grandparents getting WAAAAAY older, I am realizing that the “Good Life” is precious! That goes for my body’s ability and the bodies of those I love. One of the things that is really important to my fiance is being able to spend time with his grandmother in Colorado as much as possible in her later years. When you have an opportunity to spend time with those you love, do something cool like a once in a life time trip, or train your body for a difficult task such as a triathalon, SOAK IT UP. These moments might not come around so often.

Feeling Beautiful at Every Decade of Life… Yes, It’s a Mental Health Issue!

When we were young, we saw magazine cover girls, Barbie dolls, and plastic surgery’d movie stars as our standard of beauty. These all have one thing in common- they aren’t completely real! Who can compete with that? imgres-1

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But here’s the deal, you can always tell when a person’s inner and outer beauty is authentic and genuine. I can still remember as a teenager, baking myself in tanning booths and laying in the sun thinking, “this is awesome… I’m gonna be prettier so fast!” Instant gratification was bliss and I didn’t even consider long-term effects. I know older women who have gotten Botox and plastic surgery and say, Don’t judge until you get to my age.” It’s hard aging and watching that supple, tight, plump skin become more elastic and wrinkled. I am less than 3 months away from my 30th birthday, and I must admit, starting to see the beginning of this downward movement in my body wears a little on my self-esteem. However, I try to remember some sage wisdom. I know that a smile and genuine inner beauty always has augmenting power for one’s outer beauty. A person’s inner beauty can remain a bit more stable throughout the lifespan and be perfected with age and maturation, but a person’s outer beauty changes more over time. Moreover, while that does give some comfort as I am starting to like my own inner self, heart, and soul a little more everyday, I still find myself at the stores spending money on beauty products, skin care, as well as dressing to fit in with the most current fashion trend. Even with our changing outer shell, we need to remember and stay encouraged that there are beautiful women who walk confidently and glow at every age. Take a walk with me and look at women of various decades and a here’s few tips on how to feel beautiful and confident at each stage of life.images-3

Teens:
Whew! What advice can I really give here? Just try to deal and get through it? Acne is normal. It’s okay. Every other teen is freaking out about the latest pimple they have and are likely not focused on yours. This is also the time that boys can basically eat what they want and unfortunately, ladies, our baby making organs are asking our bodies for more fat in order to be able to reproduce. I know this is difficult. What does this mean? It does not mean, go have a baby. You are emotionally and financially NOT READY. It does mean, it’s normal to start having some belly, hip, and leg fat. It means it’s normal to have our inner thighs touch. That’s okay. Listen to Megan Tranor’s “All about that bass” and fight the urge to compare yourself to the Taylor Swift’s of the world. Taylor Swifts are the exception. Females on average will have more fat than males during this stage of life, and this is very difficult, I know. It is a reason why more women suffer with body image and eating disorders than men. Please seek help from a therapist if you are having a hard time. You may feel that you have to work a little harder than the boys to be thin, have muscle, and in a general sense, this is true, I’m sorry. This is okay. Don’t sweat it. Your Teenage/Puberty years are when you are developing the muscles as well as the time when your hormones are going crazy, so working out can help regulate these. Also your teen years are an okay… no… a GREAT time in life to start working out and getting a routine or discipline of running, swimming, playing sports, cycling, yoga, dancing, joining an athletic group or competition, or going on daily walks with family or friends. Plus being a part of a group whose members share interests and values on a consistent basis, gives you a community, sense of purpose, increases confidence, enhances the chances of having a strong, lean, and fit body, and prevents depression. The habits you are starting now will help staying fit as an adult be an easier process. Speaking of habits, lastly, this is the perfect time to start getting into a really good routine of making sure you brush your teeth, put on a face lotion every morning and night, and wear sunscreen daily. I will admit that some of these are hard for me to do consistently because it was not a daily habit when I was younger. It may seem annoying now, but seeing my best friend now with perfect skin while mine is just starting the fine lines and eye wrinkling process, I wish someone would of told me then. She feels confident about her skin and is happy. You will thank me for this advice later, Promise! Listen, I know the teen years can be an emotional roller coaster, but you will make it! Pick one or two things that are good and healthy in your life, and go with that.images-5

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20s:
If you didn’t start your routine of skin care, deodorant, clean body, hair, and a clean mouth as a teenager, this is your time to shine! The age of dating has come, my friend- and I’m not talking about the “He’s the one!” “No, he’s the one!” “No! He’s the one!”-type dating of our teenage years. I’m talking about the “Okay, I’m learning who I want to be with and who I don’t, and maybe this person REALLY COULD BE the one!” and since we weren’t all born looking like Alex Morgan, (US Women’s Soccer Team star) images we need to put forth our best inner and outer beauty- for our selves and for others. What does this look like? Well, first you are still young and your body is as active as it ever will be. Join those social clubs, maybe something active or artistic. Want an added bonus? Extra blood flow from exercise helps bring nutrients, oxygen, and healing to your skin!
Also, try not to start your poor liver on a difficult trajectory by only spending time with friends drinking as much as humanly possible. One, you know it can be addictive, and two, it is dehydrating for your skin and brain. You don’t have to give up parties, just put a glass of water between each of those drinks, so it will slow you down. Next, Take care of your skin. All those age spots and wrinkles that you don’t have to worry about until your thirties or forties are seeded in dehydration, alcohol, and the occasional smoke. So drink water, Take your makeup off every night, wear a paraben-free moisturizer, and put on sunscreen every day.
Most importantly, wear your smile loud and proud and watch how much it attracts people to you. Then you can let that inner-self shine. Now if you don’t like your inner self at this point? Do some soul- work! Go to therapy, explore faith, get a life coach, or have friends that you can really talk the real-life stuff with. Your 20’s is the developmental period of life where you probably are starting to question everything your parents taught you regarding your political, moral, and religious beliefs. You are really starting to better know yourself apart from your the family of origin. It is good to question, doubt, and talk with other people about how you may be changing, as someone else can be a sounding board and help solidify your values and become more comfortable in your own skin.
Lastly, Don’t forget to take risks, have fun, laugh as much as possible, and still be young. Yes you are really becoming an adult, and there are responsibilities, but this is prime time for exploration, trying new things, traveling- the cheap backpacking way, developing friendships that will last, dating, volunteering, and playing. The more you know yourself through these experiences, the more comfortable you will be in your own skin. I hope this helps you discover a BEAUTIFUL, AUTHENTIC you.images

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30s:
As I am so close to hitting this point in my life, I had to go to research and other people’s life experience. But boy, am I (tentatively?!) excited to embark on this impending journey. The 30’s seem to be the stage of life where men and women are feeling more stable about who they are, their values, and their purpose in life. This is a time period of working in a career field of choice, looking for a life partner, spending time with deeply developed friendships, coupling with long-term commitment in mind, and possibly building families. Life can also be stressful during this time with so much going on, so try to get enough sleep. Unfortunately we get the added round-house kick to the face where stuff starts to sag, lines start to appear, and color spots can start to come around. On top of that, if pregnancy is a factor in your world, there’s the added fun of stretch-marks, hormonal acne, and hormonal discoloration. Remember all of that fun in the sun in our teens and twenties with no sun-screen? That comes back to bite us, which means, we need to get checked for skin cancer, and put on moisturizer both morning and night. While some sun damage is irreversible, wearing sunscreen is still essential and necessary. Drinking water instead of all of those sugary, diet, caffeinated drinks, is something that will brighten your skin, help you lose weight since you will feel more satiated, and give you more energy without all of those post sugar-high crashes. If you are feeling confident at this stage of life, wear it:images-2. If you are not, I highly recommend seeing what is going on? Ae you still stuck in comparison land? Do you need to develop some skills? Is a job, friends, or sour relationship holding you back, and would a change of pace be good for your soul? I really encourage talking to a therapist at this point in your life if you haven’t yet in order to get a fresh perspective.

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40s:
You made it! You are wiser, more sure, and more defined than ever. imgres-1 imgres
Your spots and lines however, are also getting a little more defined. Most women’s bodies have slowed down their production of collagen, which means that some of our structural support is starting to weaken. We would do well to keep working out and drink a lot of water (studies have shown how much water can help with glowing skin). Also, support bone growth by taking supplements and drinking milk if we are able since many women are becoming lactose intolerant more these days. Am I freaking you out yet? Please don’t get discouraged: images Thee are so many good things about this decade, and one great one is that you likely have at least one great and solidified part of your life whether it’s work, relationships, kids, or friends. Lastly, do a self-evaluation during this possible mid point of our lives. Are there any unhealthy patterns or addictions that you may be dealing with? If so, seek help, tell someone. It’s never too late! In the mean time, this might be a good time to mix it up. Try a new work out, a new recipe, a new wardrobe. If you are in a long-standing relationship, try a new type of date-night-out or maybe something new and fun in the bedroom. If you are single but in want, get out and learn something new about yourself and the person you would like to be with through dating, or if you are content being single that is okay too. I Just encourage you to try a new activity! As far as your skin care goes, why not splurge on yourself. You take care of other needs you have, and your skin is begging you. By now, you probably aren’t spending all that extra money on late night bar crawls, so take care of your skin by buying the good, natural stuff.

50’s and beyond:
So here you are. Everything I explained in the aforementioned decade I encourage times 10. Have fun. The only caution I give you is don’t overdo the all of anti-aging. images-2
Although I can’t honestly say I know what if feels like to be in my 50’s or older, I can say I imagine it is hard to feel like you are on the downward slope of your physical capabilities and in general, people you love may be leaving you on this Earth. May I suggest, however, a reframe for this negative worry? You worked so hard at this uphill battle of getting to know and like whom you are, so remember, you made it! It’s all down hill rom here! Be proud of who you are in life. Your lines tell a story: the times you have smiled or the times you worried. At this point, you know the good in life, and you also know the stuff you won’t put up with. Root your self in what is good: your strengths, your friends, and your faith. That hopefully makes for a little smoother ride.

Especially as we are ending 2014, and we’re about to embark on 2015, please know that you can be graceful, beautiful, fun, joyful, loving, kind, and awesome at every stage of life! Make some goals, Take care of yourself, and Live it up!
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