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Transformation Challenge

Transformation Challenge

Like I’ve mentioned before, I’m a fitness coach at Orange Theory Fitness and we just finished an 8-week long transformation challenge as a company.

If you know me, you know that my turmoil was pretty high when I heard we’d be doing it and that I was encouraged to 1) participate and 2) recommend it to members.

I’ve been working here at Balance Health & Healing since 2016. And since that time, my ideals have changed dramatically. I don’t weigh myself anymore, I don’t count calories, I try to eat and exercise intuitively. I really have found a peace with body acceptance and seeing it as an instrument to do all the things I love. So, the idea of a “transformation” challenge didn’t sit well.

First of all, I didn’t love the word transformation. That word feels like your body is something you need to transform. I didn’t want to stand behind something I didn’t believe in, but I also recognized it was my job. Kind of stuck between a rock and a hard place. So, I spent a lot of time pondering. What is something positive that could come out of this? What can I portray as positive “transformation?”

After lots of thought and research, I came up with the following three things that I believe will improve quality of life. I encouraged all of the members participating to focus on:

Drink enough water.

One of the simplest, yet most important aspects of our health is hydration. (Which shouldn’t be incredibly surprising, seeing that the human body is made up of approximately 60% water).

  1. Being properly hydrated helps regulate body temperature. When our core body temperature rises above normal, unnecessary stress is placed on our bodies. Often, that interferes with the body’s energy system and negatively affects both performance and recovery.
  2. Water also helps regulate blood pressure. Effectively regulated blood pressure normalizes heart rate, which therefore keeps our bodies moving properly.
  3. Water also helps move and transport essential energy nutrients. All of our essential macronutrients (carbohydrates, protein and fats) that are used for energy are transported by fluid in the body. And as a bonus, water helps remove any metabolic waste that is produced during exercise.
  4. Not only does water keep our energy sources working, it improves brain function. Studies have shown that even just mild dehydration can impair your mood, energy levels and lead to major reductions in memory and brain performance.
  5. Water protects sensitive tissues, lubricates and cushions your joints and every cell, tissues and organ in your body needs water to work properly. I think I’ve made my point. Stay hydrated. The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine have determined that adequate daily fluid intake is about 16 cups of water for men, and about 12 cups of water for women. I know that water intake is very individualized and will vary person to person, but my point was for myself and the members to stay hydrated.

Get enough sleep.

Ah. This is a hard one. Whenever a member would come talk to me about goals, one of the first things I always ask is, “Are you getting enough sleep?” Like water, sleep is vital for overall health and well-being. Although we know this, the reality is that very few of us actually make the seven-nine hours a night a priority. Our sleep needs vary over our lifespan, and everybody is different when it comes to how much sleep you personally need. However, the National Sleep Foundation recommends 18-64 year old’s anywhere from 7-9 hours of sleep per night. (You can get more information on how to find out how much sleep you need here)

I am someone who loves sleep. I do really well on 8 hours, but that is a hard commitment to hold! My husband loves to watch movies, and by the time we wrap up our jam-packed day, it’s late. Over the last 3 years, I’ve really tried to shift into more of a morning person (because studies show we are most productive in the morning). But if I am up at 6 am and need 8 hours of sleep, I need to be ASLEEP by 10! It’s a big commitment. However, in the 8-week challenge I did my best to average 8 hours a night, and boy, it makes such a difference!

Take the time to recover.

This goes hand-in-hand with sleep, but recovery is vital to a quality life. There are so many different definitions of recovery, but a few things I tried to focus on were:

  1. Take time to rest during your day. 20-minute cat naps do wonders!
  2. Foam roll. If you’ve ever done it before, you know foam rolling isn’t fun (read: OUCH), but it is a necessary evil to help prevent DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness). It can also help prevent injuries, increase range of motion and improve performance.
  3. Stretching for 2-3 times a week
  4. Recover mentally & emotionally. When you get home from work, unplug. Play outside. Go on walks. Devote time to personal relationships and find other interests. I love to puzzle, but I can always find a million excuses as to why I shouldn’t start one. So these last few weeks, I’ve set one up and just worked on it a little bit at a time. It’s been so good for my creativity, my stress, and honestly my play. Recovering mentally and emotionally is usually on the bottom of our list, but it is just as important for a well-balanced life as all the other things I listed above.

Changing my mindset about the transformation challenge really did make it a cool experience for me. Focusing on small and simple, yet highly important aspects of health and wellness was a great reminder for myself to set goals. Sometimes I get a little lackadaisical about goal-setting, but it is an important piece of our life to improve and to grow. I have no idea if I lost or gained a single pound or body fat percentage or any muscle growth, because that wasn’t my focus. Drinking water, resting and recovering were my focus, and it was a really nice 8 weeks.



How Hydration Affects Performance – link

How Much Water Should You Drink Every Day? – link

How Much Sleep Do We Really Need? Sleep Foundation – link

Leadership Survival Skills Workshop – link


The Complexity of Growth and Progress

The Complexity of Growth and Progress

One of my favorite things about stories is their ability to chart personal growth (or decay) in a tight and rational narrative. The acclaimed series Breaking Bad tells the story of a mild-mannered high school chemistry teacher (Walter White) gradually becoming a vicious methamphetamine kingpin. It less famously tells the story of Walter’s brother-in-law, arrogant and racist DEA agent Hank Schrader, becoming a humble and stalwart pursuer of justice. Their arcs are horrifying and inspiring. And they can point to truths about the human condition and the nature of personal change. (more…)

Cultivating Resilience: Self-Care

Cultivating Resilience: Self-Care

As we continue to explore how to develop skills that cultivate a resilient spirit, we turn our attention this month to a popular buzzword you may even be a little weary of- self-care! 

(Just joining us or looking to review previous “Cultivating Resilience” posts? See here, here, here!).

Self-care is a concept that we hear lots about in terms of our mental wellbeing, but how many of us can really cite what effective self-care is, or why it matters in terms of our resilience? It may seem like a trendy reason to “treat yo self”, but where do you draw the line between self-centered behaviors and meaningful work that really sustains and rebuilds you?

Self-Care: Practicing Wellness

Self-care is the act of focusing our thoughts and behaviors onto things that contribute to our own wellbeing. It’s tending to the basic building blocks of mental health. Self-care can be found in a range of different areas of our life- social, physical, emotional, spiritual, intellectual, and so on.  For example, at times we may find ourselves in need of some social self-care- checking in with friends or family, serving others, or attending a meaningful event in spite of your never ending to-do list. Other times, we may need to turn our attention to physical self-care- making effort and time to reboot and get serious about sleep, focusing on adequate hydration and nutrition, or investing time in discovering movement your body enjoys. How can you imagine yourself addressing self-care needs in areas of emotional, spiritual, or intellectual wellbeing? As you can see, self-care can take many forms and look different depending on the individual and the season of life you find yourself in.

Don’t know where to start?

I would recommend downloading a mindfulness app like Calm or Headspace, or making a goal to practice mindfulness through activities like journaling, yoga, or other spiritual practices like prayer. Mindfulness practice is something that doesn’t have to be involved or picture perfect, and the benefits are plentiful! Mindfulness has been shown to help slow down our reactions and build feelings of peace and habits of rest into our life.

Myths of Self-Care

Now that we’ve talked about what self-care is, let’s talk about a few things that self-care is not! Self-care is not selfish. It’s not frivolous. It’s not something that has to be expensive or time consuming. Self-care is also not a one-and-done kind of thing! The goal with self-care is to build it into your routine so that you are regularly filling your bucket.

Self-Care and Resilience

The tie between self-care and resilience is that through the regular and effective practice of caring for yourself, you are giving yourself resources to manage stress. We all probably can think of friends or loved ones who deal with stress by numbing out or turning to maladaptive coping (drugs and other risky behaviors). You may even recognize those tendencies in yourself! However, when we are regularly practicing self-care, we go into stress better equipped to handle what comes our way. When we practice effective self-care, we reserve within ourselves personal wellsprings of resilience!

Give Yourself Permission

While you consider your own approach to self-care, remember the fundamental truth that you are worthy of care. Give yourself permission to explore areas of self-care and experiment with what fills you up and leaves you renewed. You are worth the effort to take care of!



Cultivating a Resilient Spirit

Cultivating a Resilient Spirit

Welcome back for another segment in “Cultivating a Resilient Spirit”. You can catch up on our introduction HERE and part one HERE. This month, we are going to be digging into how we experience distress, why it matters, and how to increase our coping through distress tolerance skills.  (more…)

8 Ways to Thrive in Uncertain Times

8 Ways to Thrive in Uncertain Times

Times are tough! Talk about uncertainty. We are in the middle of a pandemic that has left us scared and scrambling. Our world has been turned upside down almost overnight and there is an eerie stillness on the streets at night. (more…)

Cultivating Resilience

Cultivating Resilience

I’m not going to sugar-coat it: life can suck sometimes.

It can drain us and stretch us and break us in ways we didn’t even know were possible. I’m not here to try to tell you any differently. Life can just really suck at times. (more…)

Sacredness in Tears

Sacredness in Tears

Several months ago I attended a funeral for a bright blue-eyed baby that fought his hardest for his 12 days of life. His incredibly strong parents shared a quote by Washington Irving that has stuck with me since.

“There is a sacredness in tears. They are not a mark of weakness, but of power. They speak more eloquently than ten thousand tongues. They are the messengers of overwhelming grief, of deep contrition and of unspeakable love.”

Long story short, my husband and I have struggled to start a family. It is no major surprise since it seems to run in the family, but struggled nonetheless. After almost a year of trying, the little stick finally showed two lines – pregnant! My immediate thought was “this is too good to be true” and “it can’t be this easy for me.” I could feel myself becoming over the moon excited for a baby to come this summer.  

I repeated the whole pee on a stick thing six times just to really confirm the first positive test. Six times. Just one day after the positive pregnancy test, I had a crib picked out, four pregnancy books bought, a list of my top five favorite boy and girl names written in sharpie (sharpie is a big deal for me), and my eight-week appointment set. I was ready for this baby.

My husband left to go out of town for a week for a work conference. That very day I started to feel a bit off. Over the weekend I started to have some symptoms that are typical for the first few months of pregnancy but also overlap with some symptoms of miscarrying. This being my first ever pregnancy, I had no idea how to tell the difference. I made it through the weekend and on Monday met with my doctor and learned that I miscarried. Devastation started welling up in my eyes and tears began pouring out of me.  

My husband was 1,800 miles away. My parents were over 2,000 miles away. And, since I parked in the wrong parking lot, I had to walk almost a mile to get back to my car. Balling my eyes out. Washington Irving’s quote came to my mind and this salty water coming out of my eyes started to take on a whole new meaning.

Lessons from my tears

  1. Tears are sacred. The tears that were continuously streaming down my face were in respect and reverence for our little family’s loss. We were overjoyed at the thought that we would be starting our own little family. The tears were not just salty drops coming from my eyes because of my hormones or because the nurse that drew my blood said something insensitive, but in respect for what could have been. We could have had a child together this summer and knowing that it wasn’t going to happen was overbearing. My tears meant something. My tears are sacred.
  2. Tears are powerful. My husband has not actually cried since his grandmother passed away over 5 years ago. He’s been teary while watching a Nicholas Sparks movie or two but has not legitimately cried since 2014. As I listened to him cry over the phone I did not associate his tears with weakness. All I could think about was the power that comes with becoming a parent. Granted, parents are not perfect, they are human and make mistakes, but regardless of those faults, parental power carries some major weight. His tears over someone he had never even met yet showed me the power of love that can come with becoming a parent. Tears are powerful. 
  3. Tears speak. I had a kidney stone a few months ago and I shed many tears as that little sucker was making its world debut. There is something definitively different between cries of physical pain versus cries of emotional pain. Instead of my kidney bursting, my heart ached like it had never ached before. I already loved that 5.5-week, sesame-seed-sized, little human and the thought of never getting the chance to meet him/her was too much that all I could do was cry. I love the segment in Irving’s quote “[the tears] speak more eloquently than ten thousand tongues.” I didn’t need someone to give me a bunch of advice, nor did I need to explain to everyone how I was feeling, I just needed someone to sit and cry with me.

I used to think that if I was not physically hurt, then crying was not needed – that it was a time that I just needed to “suck it up” and move on. I have learned that tears are not only meant for scraped knees or kidney stones, but for emotional pain too.