Healthy Living

What are your self-care ESSENTIALS?

Truth time?


I've been on a bit of a self-care bender the last few months. And if I'm being honest, it's about dang time! Perhaps you can relate?

For most of 2016, everything took priority over me, myself and I. 

Exercise? No time.
Healthy eating? Verrrrrrrry inconsistent.
Whitespace? White-what?
Personal development? Consuming but not integrating. (I see this ALL the time with my clients, btw!)


And then as my 30th birthday approached, I realized it was time to get serious about taking care of me, because if not me, then who?


Rather than go balls to the wall and try to change ALL. THE. THINGS. in one go, I started slow. I found a gym that would make it easy for me to exercise regularly. I built this habit slowly through discipline, consistency and support. (And if you live and/or work downtown, you've GOT to check it out!).
 

And now I have a daily movement habit that fills me up and makes me feel vital.
 

Next I focused on my eating. I spend much of my day driving around in my car, which has the potential to cause me to eat mindlessly and choose food options that aren't the most nourishing or healthy. I started to scout out more healthy options that I could feel good about buying and thankfully, Toronto has an abundance of healthy and delicious takeout places to choose from! 


And now I have a list of amazing restaurants and shops where I can go to in a pinch and buy food that is guilt-free.


I'm a high-stress person by nature and have always struggled to build in down-time for myself. Like, I reallllllllly struggle. As a Holistic Health Coach, I know the benefits of striving to make doing and being harmonious (because balance is not a thing), but the doing comes much more easy to me than the being.

Enter yin yoga. It couldn't be more opposite to my heart pumping, sweat inducing, and totally #vomilicious workouts that I love; instead, in yin yoga you let go of the control, relax your muscles and let your body sink into each posture. It works deep into the connective tissue, poses are held longer and the focus is on exploring postures and then being still and observing how your body is feeling. It's a mental bootcamp to be sure!

 

And now I've found a practice I love that is restorative and relaxing, lowers cortisol (win!) and causes a serious boost in those feel good hormones that we all crave. Amiright?

 

As you can see, it's taken me a while to build up to these different practices and ways of taking care of me but now, they are essential parts of my life. Do I practice them every day? Most often, but not always. And that's okay. The point is not to be "perfect" and #nevermissaMonday, it's about cultivating practices that nourish you, make you feel vital and help you show up as the best version of yourself. And these practices are ESPECIALLY relevant when life gets cray and taking care of you is the last thing on your to-do list.

 

My take home message to you is this: taking care of you is always a priority.
 

But it doesn't have to be time consuming, expensive or look like what anyone else is doing. It just has to make YOU feel good. And if you struggle to identify what that is for you, send me an email and let me know. I'll send you an email right back and help you come up with some ideas to try on.

 

Now over to you: what are your self-care essentials? Those things that you do on a daily or weekly basis that help make you feel your best? I recommend aiming for 3 that are non-negotiables (but simply having 1 is good too!). Having these in place comes in handy on those weeks when life is just a bit crazier and you feel like you have to do EVERYTHING!

 

I can't wait to hear from you!

City of Angels, self-kindness & chocolate avocado pudding

 

 

This time next week, I’ll be in LA!

If you haven’t noticed, I have a bit of a girl crush on Dr Kristin Neff, a pioneer in the field of self-compassion research.  Ever since I came across the concept of self-compassion as a healthier way of relating to yourself, I’ve wanted to learn more.  It just so happens that Dr  Neff is teaching a 5-day intensive training workshop on Mindful Self Compassion in Los Angeles.

Me, my self-compassion idol and sunny California?  Signing up was a no brainer.   I’m beyond excited – 6 more sleeps!

I know I’ve talked about self-compassion before, but in light of my impending travels, I thought I’d dive into the concept a little deeper.  As Kristin Neff has defined it, there are three main ways to generate more compassion for yourself:

  1. Self-kindness
  2. Common humanity
  3. Mindfulness

In order to be truly self-compassionate, we must achieve and combine these three essential elements.

I’ve decided to explore each of these components separately (in the form of a 3-part series) because each is equally important and let’s face it, you probably don’t want to read a 3,000 word blog post!  Today I want to talk to you about SELF-KINDNESS, which is probably the most obvious ingredient in self-compassion.

"With self-kindness, we soothe and calm our troubled minds. We make a peace offering of warmth and gentleness and sympathy from ourselves to ourselves, so that true healing can occur" – Kristin Neff

Now, when you think of self-kindness, what comes to mind?  I imagine you’d say: being gentle with myself, not be so self-critical and judgmental, being more understanding of my mistakes and failure.  Sound about right?

While this is absolutely true, self-kindness is more than merely stopping self-judgment, it is also about actively comforting ourselves, much in the way we would a dear friend.  It entails seeing CLEARLY the extent to which our continual self-criticisms are harming us.

If you’re like me, you may not even realize that you are being harshly critical or judgmental of yourself because it has become such a habit.  And this is totally normal, you are not alone!  Here are a few ways I have learned to practice self-kindness:

Using kind, caring, gentle language with yourself.  This works even AFTER you’ve said something not so nice to yourself.  Just take a moment and acknowledge that the situation sucks and speak to yourself as you would to a close friend.

Actively soothe and comfort yourself when things go wrong.  If you are in pain or you fail at something, physically hug yourself.  Be emotionally moved by your pain enough to say “This is really difficult right now.  How can I care for and comfort myself best in this moment?”

Make yourself some comfort food.  (I'm a nutritionist, you knew this was coming!) Hippocrates said: Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.  I know that the last possible thing you want to do when you are feeling down is to go into the kitchen and start making food.  You probably want to reach for something quick, salty, high fat, high sugar, right?  Something that undoubtedly comes from a package.  Resist that urge and reach for the ultimate comfort food: CHOCOLATE AVOCADO PUDDING! It's incredibly delicious, so so simple to make and is good for you, too!

 

Ingredients:

  • 2 ripe avocados, peeled and seed removed
  • ½ cup raw cacoa powder
  • ½ cup maple syrup (can use raw, unpasteurized honey)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • ¼ tsp sea salt (salt brings out sweet!)

 Directions:

  • Place all ingredients into a food processor and blend until smooth
  • Refrigerate for 20-30 minutes before serving
  • Makes roughly 1 ½ cups

Being kind to yourself doesn’t just include the thoughts in your head, it also includes the foods you choose to nourish yourself with.  Rather than enter the vicious cycle of emotionally eating to avoid feeling pain, why not allow yourself to feel the pain, comfort yourself with kind words and gentle touch and then nourish your body with food that loves you right back?

Mull that one over and stay tuned for Friday's post on the second tenet of self-compassion: Common Humanity.

 

Over to you: what is one thing you SAY, DO, or EAT when you want to show yourself a touch of kindness? SHARE in the comments below.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Samantha Ushedo, CNP

 

The week following my return from the Mind Detox Practitioner Training was incredibly hectic.  Not only was I mentally and emotionally exhausted from a weekend of soul-bearing and digging deep into my past to resolve old hurts, but I was also physically taxed from the long 6 hour drive between my home in Toronto and the training in Montreal.  By the time I got home late Sunday night, my feeling of tranquility from the weekend was replaced with anxiety and dread about the week ahead.

On top of full days at work, every single night of the week was spoken for with something I HAD to do.  And I was feeling completely overwhelmed.  I know when I’ve overextended myself when one of two things happen:

My sleep becomes irregular.

I develop pimples.

Both happened this week.  Every night I would wake up at 3am wide awake and not be able to fall asleep.  On Wednesday, I woke up with two MAJOR pimples in prominent locations on my face.  Rather obnoxious reminders that I should take better care of myself, don’tcha think?

By Friday, I was hanging on by a thread and just praying for Sunday so that I could sleep in, obligation free and revel in me time.  I’ve come to rely on Self-Centred Sundays for R&R SO much.  I was even contemplating skipping my graduation from nutrition school on Saturday afternoon.  After all, I did not have any family attending and I really just needed some down time.  I rationalized why I would be completely justified in missing the ceremony and why it wouldn’t really make a difference if I went or not, but at the last minute, I decide to suck it up and attend.

And while I was sitting in my seat, listening to the lovely Jeffron de Savoye give her valedictorian address, something happened.

The feeling of stress and overwhelm I’ve been carrying all week disappeared.  My frustration and annoyance at not being able to sleep and letting my acne get the best of me dissipated.  My sadness at not having any family members in the audience vanished.

These people were my family.  For the last 2 years, we have put in incredible amounts of time studying, researching, and learning while juggling working full time, families and trying to have personal lives.  We have felt healthier (and many of us sicker) than we have in our entire lives as we pursued our passion to make the world and everyone in it, a healthier place.  We have shared painful, often triumphant stories, battled insecurities and fears and feasted on incredible food (oh how I will miss the food).  And we survived thrived.

 

 

 

Each and every one of us started our journey to become a nutritionist for a different reason but our life paths converged at the same place and we walked the path together.  It was challenging, and at times difficult but I wouldn’t change the experience for a minute.  The memories we’ve shared and the friendships I’ve made are without a doubt the richest, most special of my life.  I am so thankful and proud of my fellow classmates for all we have accomplished and I cannot wait to see where we will all go from here.  The sky is the limit and I for one step into this new chapter with excitement and an open mind.

Institute of Holistic Nutrition Fall Class of 2013 – WE DID IT!!!!

 

Now over to you, have you ever had an experience where you gained so much more than you ever expected? Share with me in the comments below!