Self-Love

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!

A love note to my fellow overachievers

 

 

Dearest Achiever,

You are, without a doubt, a modern day Wonder Woman.

You are mission driven and wildly successful in everything that you do. There is nothing you can’t tackle. When you set a goal, you not only achieve it, you demolish it.

 

And yet you often think to yourself: “If I could just do a little bit more and achieve the next thing, then I would be happy”.

What is success to you if it feels like you are always chasing the next summit on the mountain just to conquer it and find a new one, without ever stopping to take in the view or celebrate your accomplishment?

 

Regardless of how high you set the bar for yourself, that sense of accomplishment is ever fleeting. It never feels like enough. You can always do better, right? You can always be more, right?
I know you’re tired.  I know it seems like the struggle is never ending. And I would give anything to be able to shield you from all this pain and suffering.

But please, trust me when I say this: You will get through this. It gets better.

 

I know this because I know you.

 

You’re driven, capable, fiercely motivated and at times stubborn, and while I get that you feel hopeless, I also know that there is still a part of you that refuses to give up.
Embrace that part, my love.

 

This is the part of you that I want you to hold on to. I need you to believe in yourself and trust that you have all the answers you seek.  Love yourself enough to create space for self-exploration; it’s deep, and sometimes difficult work, but it is so worth it. All that other stuff? The clothes, the men, the job, the nice apartment and the flat stomach – it’s distracting you from the truth.

And the truth is: the things you desire are not out there. The answers you seek are WITHIN you.

You’ve tried it all, the diets, the fitness regimens, the doctors, the supplements, the cleanses and yet nothing has worked.  It’s because these are all just band aids covering up a bigger wound. You’re treating the symptoms, now it’s time to treat the cause. It can’t hurt to try, right?

Because here’s the thing, the key to health, happiness, and success in any area of life has very little to do with the amount of kale you eat, green smoothies you drink, self-help books you read or the number of miles you run on the treadmill.

 

On the contrary, it has everything to do with the thoughts you think.

How do I know all of this? Who am I to be so presumptuous, you may be wondering?

I was you.

It took me 5 years, a debilitating skin condition and almost $30,000 (yes, I totaled it up) trying to “fix” myself, to find that external something that would solve all my problems before I realized that everything I was doing was simply treating a symptom of a bigger issue, which was that I didn’t love or fundamentally accept myself.

Every choice I made in my life was coming from a place of fear, rather than love.

So, I want you to think about that thing in your life that is constantly plaguing you, looming over you like a big, black cloud.  That thing you’re struggling with, that is keeping you stuck, unhappy and forever chasing a never ending moving target.
If you can take one learning from my pain, my suffering and my experience, let it be this: the first and sometimes only step you need to find the success, happiness and fulfillment you seek begins with first loving yourself.

 

You can exhaust yourself trying to change your external circumstances to achieve some external results.  But at the end of the day, if you don’t go within, you go without. Which is why I created this resource to help you make self-love a choice rather than an afterthought in your life.

You’ve spent so long pushing down your thoughts, feelings and desires, no wonder your body is taking such drastic measures to get you to sit up and pay attention. I know it’s a tough lesson, but what you’ll learn through the process will not only transform your life but also the lives of those around you. Heed the message and persevere.  Think of it as your very own permission slip to be unapologetically you and to put you first.

I think you’re ready, gorgeous.  Be brave, dig deep and most of all, be kind to yourself. You are so much stronger than you think.

It’s time to feed your soul.

 

With love,

Samantha

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.