Category Archives: Motivation

Combatting My Anxiety and Finding Peace in the Present {Beyond Food Fridays}


Beyond Food Fridays
Welcome to Beyond Food Fridays where I share my thoughts on non-food topics such as skin & hair care, body image, and other fun tips and tricks for how to be healthy and vibrant inside and out!

Combatting My Anxiety and Finding Peace in the Present | Vibrant Life Army Wife

First of all, happy Fourth of July! Hope everyone has a fun and relaxing day off full of family, friends and good food!

As I mentioned in my last post, my husband comes home in about a week. Obviously, I’m extremely excited about this. I’ve missed him a ton and I can’t wait for him to be home again. However, this excitement is also paired with some anxiety; more anxiety than I expected. I don’t know exactly what I’m anxious about. I have gotten into a really good routine while he has been gone- walking the dogs every day, cooking my healthy meals on the weekend so I have good food to eat all week, spending time with my friends, etc- and I think I’m a little afraid of what will happen to my routine when he gets home. I suppose that even though it’s a good change, it’s still a change and change inevitably breeds anxiety (for me anyway).

And as a good friend of mine just pointed out to me, that’s not the only thing that is changing in my life right now either. We planned a cruise for when he gets back to serve as the honeymoon we never had. And as fun as I’m sure it will be, vacation always makes me anxious. Because of my different issues I have to be super careful about what I eat and that’s much easier to do when I’m in my own kitchen cooking my own food. Also, having never been on a cruise, I’m just not sure what to expect. I’m also currently working on all the financial aid paperwork so I can go back to school in the fall. I am so ready to start learning all sorts of new things again, but the process of getting enrolled is stressing me out. I am a little worried as well about adding school work on top of my full time job and all the other things I do. On top of all that I started this blog (obviously). This was about a thousand gigantic steps outside of my comfort zone and I am loving every minute of it but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t freak me out sometimes. I have all these ideas running through my head at all times and I want to do everything all at once, which obviously I can’t, but that’s just how I work. And I worry about producing quality content that is enjoyable and helpful and doing so on a regular basis.

So there’s a (not so) little glimpse into my somewhat very neurotic brain. So why am I telling you this, you ask? Well for starters, it’s kind of therapeutic for me to get all my crazy thoughts out of my head. But mostly it’s because I want to talk about how I deal with my anxiety when it inevitably hits. I think we all know that stress is not healthy. Our bodies just weren’t meant to handle the chronic stress that most of us deal with on a regular basis and it can really wreck our ability to be our happiest healthiest selves. I don’t know about you, but I want to live each day feeling healthy and vibrant, not anxious and stressed.

One of my favorite things to do that always helps me to de-stress in the evenings is taking my dogs for a walk. Not only does this help me to get a little exercise in for both myself and the dogs (gotta get those 10,000 steps on my Fit Bit!) but it also helps me to clear my head. I do some of my best thinking when I go for my walks, and being out in nature with the fresh air (even when it’s a million and one degrees outside) always makes me feel better. Lately I’ve been going on walks with a friend and her dogs and this is also very helpful. Instead of being alone with my thoughts, I have a friend to bounce my thoughts off of. And this friend in particular is VERY good at putting things into perspective for me and just generally helping me to chill out. Sometimes I feel like I just don’t have time or I am too lazy to go for a walk but because I know how beneficial it is for me (and the dogs of course) so I make it a priority.

Since my husband deployed I have been going to yoga one or two times a week at a local yoga studio. I am totally LOVING this! I have done yoga on and off for a few years now, sometimes in a classroom environment and sometimes in my own home, but having a regular class to go to has been awesome. I always leave class feeling sweaty and tired, but also invigorated and completely relaxed. For me yoga has acted as a moving meditation of sorts in which I am able to clear my head of all the crap that’s going on in my life and just focus on my body and my breath.

I’m not so great at sitting still and my brain is in a constant state of hyperdrive. For this reason, meditation in the traditional sense doesn’t really work for me. A friend of mine (the same one that I walk my dogs with) suggested I try the Calm app and I have found this to be extremely helpful. Although you’re still encouraged to sit still, you are guided through the meditation which is helpful for me to bring myself back to the present when my mind starts to wander. I’ve learned that meditation is not about clearing your mind of all thought (is that even possible?) but it’s about viewing your thoughts as if from the outside in a completely nonjudgmental way and then letting them pass as a cloud passes through the sky. I am still struggling with this as I have a bad habit of following a particular thought down the proverbial rabbit hole, but as with anything else it takes practice. Using this app before I go to bed or during the day when I’m feeling anxious has really helped me to remain present and maintain perspective. Side note: meditation can take many forms. It can mean sitting and chanting “om” Buddha style, or praying, or dancing around the room to your favorite song, or whatever else floats your boat. Just do what works for you!

As in every situation in my life, I prioritize good food. For some it may seem like worrying about preparing healthy meals from scratch would cause anxiety, but for me it’s quite the opposite (in most cases). I love to cook and chopping veggies is my version of therapy (as weird as that sounds). More importantly, eating good food makes me feel good. When my IBS symptoms flare up, so does my anxiety, so by eating good food that nourishes my body I am avoiding one more unnecessary stressor.

Lastly, I find it incredibly helpful to either talk or write it out. When I’m feeling anxious about something, I turn to a friend or family member for help. Sometimes just the act of articulating my thoughts is enough to help me regain perspective and resolve the anxiety. Other times it’s the advice I receive from my awesome friends and family that helps me chill out. Writing has also been very beneficial. As I write this post I feel some of my stress being lifted off my shoulders.

As human beings we are always going to have stress in our lives. Sure we can rid ourselves of some stress by prioritizing the important things and doing away with the unnecessary ones. But some stress is inevitable so it is how we deal with that stress that is important. For me this means focusing on being present. I have heard it said that if you are anxious you are living in the future and I know I am guilty of this. So instead of worrying about the future, I am going to remain focused on the present by continuing to practice meditation and yoga, prioritizing walking the dogs and nourishing my body, and not being afraid to seek help when it’s needed.

If you have any thoughts or advice on how you stay present and avoid anxiety, please share in the comments! I love to hear your ideas!

In vibrant health,

Kiersten

How to Love Yourself a Little More Everyday {Beyond Food Fridays}

Beyond Food Fridays
Welcome to Beyond Food Fridays where I share my thoughts on non-food topics such as skin & hair care, body image, and other fun tips and tricks for how to be healthy and vibrant inside and out!

How to Love Yourself a Little More Every Day {Beyond Food Fridays} | Vibrant Life Army Wife

Last week on the first installment of Beyond Food Fridays I discussed my personal struggles with body image and a little bit about how I’ve overcome them. Today on the second Beyond Food Friday I’m here to provide you with some strategies to overcome body image issues (and it does not involve losing weight, “getting fit” or any other physical change to the body). So if you’re like me and you need a little help in this area, follow the steps I outline below and learn to love yourself a little more everyday!

Do something you do well, and do it often. Doing things you’re good at builds your confidence and this confidence in many cases is transferred to other aspects of your life. So if you’re a really good cook, cook up a storm. If you are super artistic, draw. If you are a bad ass athlete, keep training. You will feel confident in your abilities which will translate to overall confidence.

Do something you love. This kind of goes along with doing something you’re good at because we often love the things we are good at otherwise we wouldn’t do them. But sometimes we love something that we aren’t so good at but it makes us feel good anyway and this can help boost our overall confidence. For example, I’ve talked before about how I started lifting weights. Well, I’m not particularly good at it. I can’t lift all that heavy (yet) and I don’t really know what I’m doing. However, I truly enjoy it and as I get stronger I don’t just feel better about my weight lifting abilities; I also feel better about my body because of what it is capable of doing.

Ditch the scale. I’ve written about this a little before as well and I think this is one of the most important things you can do in order to love your body more. So often we get caught up on a number. The whole once I lose x number of pounds or once I weigh x amount, I will feel good about myself thing is a load of bull. Your self worth should not be based on some arbitrary number. And more often than not that number doesn’t tell the whole story. You could weigh more than what you want but be perfectly healthy because you have some muscle mass. Or on the other hand, you could weigh your “perfect” amount but stop ovulating because you’ve thrown your hormones out of whack by being at a weight that is too low for you personally. So get rid of your scale and start basing your progress on how you feel, your overall level of health, and how hot you look when you look in the mirror.

Practice self affirmation. Speaking of how hot you look in the mirror… tell yourself that and do it often. Self affirmation may seem silly and hokey (I certainly thought it was) but I’m telling you it works. Instead of pinching the fat on your body and wishing this or that “imperfection” would go away, look at yourself and say “I am beautiful” or “I am sexy” or whatever else you want. Appreciate your body for what it is and what it can do, don’t bash it because it doesn’t fit into a size zero. And if you’re feeling up to it, you can always dance naked to Kenny Loggins as Liz Wolfe suggests!

Maintain perspective. If you’re trying to reach a certain goal, whether that’s weight loss, gut healing, or some other goal, keep in mind that change takes time. Don’t beat yourself up because you didn’t lose 10 lbs in a week. Go easy on yourself and your body and celebrate the little things because it’s those small achievements that lead to significant growth over time.

Wear clothes that fit your body as it is now. I find that most of my slips into negative self talk revolve around trying on clothes. If I put on something that used to fit me and it no longer does, all of a sudden all I can think is “I’m so fat!” (even though the problem is usually muscle mass, not fat). And don’t get me started on trying on bras or bathing suits… the lighting in dressing rooms always seems to highlight every single “flaw” doesn’t it? These situations are somewhat unavoidable; sometimes you need a swim suit and bras are kind of necessary (but really, are they?). What you can avoid is actually wearing those clothes that don’t fit. When you wear clothes that you feel comfortable in and that show off your figure because they fit your body correctly, you feel good. That’s just a fact! So stop trying to squeeze in those two sizes too small skinny jeans or that top you wore in high school and find clothes that show off what you’ve got!

Stop comparing yourself to other people. This one is hard as it is human nature to compare yourself to those around you. But you aren’t doing yourself any good by doing so. Theodore Roosevelt said “comparison is the thief of joy” and I 100% agree. If you keep comparing yourself to other people you will never be fully happy with yourself. And you need to keep in mind that health looks different on everyone. Some people are skinny fat: they look skinny and healthy on the outside but they eat crappy food and their blood work looks terrible. Some people are super fit and lean but have issues with restrictive eating and/or excessive exercise, or they aren’t menstruating (and isn’t fertility the epitome of health as a woman?). Some people appear larger or have a little extra junk in the trunk and are super healthy. Every person is unique and every body looks and acts differently. So stop comparing yourself to the people around you and own your uniqueness because that is what makes you you.  If we all looked exactly the same that would be pretty boring.

I hope these tips help you love yourself more because we are all beautiful and deserving of love, and who will love us better than our own selves? If you are interested in reading more about body image issues and self acceptance check out Stefani Ruper’s blog and her book. She tackles these issues way more eloquently and with way more knowledge than I can. And I’m always here to help as well so feel free to email me or contact me via social media!

In vibrant health,

Kiersten

Ditching the Scale {Beyond Food Fridays}

Beyond Food Fridays
I’m starting a new series called Beyond Food Fridays where I will share my thoughts on non-food topics such as skin & hair care, body image, and other fun tips and tricks for how to be healthy and vibrant inside and out!

Ditching the ScaleOkay guys, for the first installment of Beyond Food Fridays I’m going to get a little personal. Today I want to talk a little about body image and self love as it is something that I’ve been working on a lot lately in my own life. I’m going to try to do this topic justice as best as I can since I know it can be a little bit of a sensitive issue.

I’ve struggled with my body image for as long as I can remember. I was a ballet dancer growing up and I think that really set the stage for the idea that I needed to be skinny to be beautiful. That paired with all the other societal influences like TV, magazines, etc. I certainly was never fat growing up, in fact I was relatively thin. But I never had that stick thin “dancer body” that I thought I needed, so in my head I was never skinny enough.

Ditching the Scale

This is me at 13 in Mexico. I remember being self conscious in my bikini because I wasn’t “skinny enough.”

When I was in 8th grade it was deemed necessary for me to have surgery in order to fix some issues I was having with my acid reflux disease. The surgery involved sewing a portion of my stomach lining around the opening to the esophagus to prevent the reflux from occurring. I was told that I would not be able to eat solid food for a while until the swelling and scar tissue went down and that I wouldn’t be able to eat large quantities of food at one time because I could choke. I was almost happy to hear these things because I thought that if I couldn’t eat much at one time and was forced to eat super slowly, I would be eating less overall which would cause me to lose weight. As a 13 year old I was excited to get surgery because it would make me skinnier. I think back on this now and it makes me so sad. I just want to go give 13 year old Kiersten a big hug! In the end, the surgery helped my acid reflux symptoms, but it did not give me the skinny “dancer body” that I wanted.

All throughout high school I struggled with my body image, engaging in negative self talk on a regular basis and spending way too much time in front of the mirror pinching the fat on my body. Between going to the gym and dancing, I exercised a ton and I ate way too few calories with my breakfasts of light yogurt, peanut butter sandwiches on whole wheat sandwich thins for lunch, and lean cuisines for dinner. I didn’t understand why I wasn’t getting thinner when I was doing everything “right.”

In college, I made semi better choices as far as food goes (and by semi better choices I mean I ate more vegetables and went gluten free), but I was still obsessive about portions and I overdid it on the cardio for sure. The weighing myself, fat pinching, and calorie counting continued as well and I just didn’t feel good in my own skin.

Then, back in September of 2013 I discovered the Paleo diet through my wonderful friend Natalie, after a year long stint with vegetarianism (that was a mistake). I switched to a whole foods diet and started feeling a lot better. A couple months later, after a foot injury and a ton of research on why weight training is better for you than running (see here and here), I gave up my excessive cardio habit, which at the time had me running almost 30 miles a week, and started doing HIIT (high intensity interval training) and a lot of body weight exercises. Despite the fact that I was only exercising about 20-30 minutes at a time, as opposed to roughly an hour, my body started changing more than it ever had before. I was getting stronger, my muscles started to get more toned and I felt better and more confident than I ever had before. So I gave up running for good and started adding free weights into my workout routine.

Ditching the Scale

Me now eating some delicious local grass fed gelato without an ounce of guilt!

Despite the fact that I now weigh more than I ever have before (because of an increase in muscle mass), I have never felt better. I no longer weigh myself (expect when I have to at the doctors office) and when I look in the mirror I see a strong body that is capable of doing amazing things. Sure, I have plenty of moments when I don’t love what I see, but these moments are fleeting and I am able to turn the negativity around pretty quickly instead of spiraling down a path of self hate like I used to.

I love my body because it enables me to live a happy, healthy, active life. I may not look like a ballet dancer or a supermodel or a competitive athlete but that’s okay with me. I look like Kiersten. I am still not exactly where I would like to be, but I can move toward my goals with a healthy mind set, self love, and the overarching goal of optimal health that I was lacking before. Because that should be our goal: to be healthy and happy, not to look like a supermodel or whatever society says is “beautiful.”

I am so thankful to my wonderful husband for always loving me despite my insecurities and who has always done an amazing job of making me feel beautiful and sexy. But ultimately I had to find this within myself. It’s a journey to get to a place where you can love your body, and I doubt I will ever get to a place where I am completely free of all negative thoughts, but I am doing the best I can. I encourage you to do the same. Ditch the scale, stop the negative self talk, and love your body for what it is and what it can do. If you have goals you want to reach then go for it! But do so in a healthy way, with the right mind set and a focus on overall health.

In vibrant health,

Kiersten

 

Life Starts Now

Inspirational Quote

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I finally did it! I started a blog! I feel excited and overwhelmed all at the same time but mostly just excited.

Any of my friends could tell you that I’ve been talking about doing this for a while now, like for two years…. So why did I wait until now? I’ll tell you: fear. I was afraid that I wouldn’t have enough to say; afraid that when I did have something to say, no one would want to hear it; afraid there were already so many people out there in the blogosphere that there wouldn’t be a space for me. “I’ll wait until after I go back to school and have a credential,” I thought. “I’m not good enough at photography, or cooking, or writing,” I thought.

JJ Virgin calls this “imposter syndrome.” In an interview on the Balanced Bites podcast with Diane Sanfilippo she defines it as ‘this feeling that you are going to be found out, the “Who are you to do this.”’ When I heard this a while back, I found myself nodding along as I listened, thinking that is so me! (Sidenote: I usually listen to podcasts when I walk my dogs so my neighbors probably think “who is that crazy lady nodding and laughing all by her lonesome.”)

Inspirational Quote 2

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Well I’m tired of leaving in fear! I’m tired of feeling like an imposter! Because I’m not an imposter! I have something to share with the world! I have a passion for nutrition and the paleo lifestyle (that’s paleo with a lowercase “p” and not the strict, dogmatic capital “P” Paleo) and I have the drive to learn more. And beyond that I have a strong desire to teach other people how to live healthy, vibrant lives. And isn’t that what we all want? To be healthy and happy, to feel good in our own skin. So that’s what my goal is with this blog: to share the amazing healing properties of good, real food, to provide simple recipes that nourish the body, and to inspire people to be their most vibrant selves! And even if I am only able to reach one person, I am okay with that because it is one more person than I would have been able to help had I never tried.

 

In vibrant health,

Kiersten