5 ways to mentally go from summer to fall

This year as a mom, I get to experience a whole new level of change, especially in the transition from summer. In two weeks, my daughter, who is my older one of the two, starts kindergarten.
WHOA. Just whoa.

It didn’t all really kick in my head any till I registered her last week. Then this weekend we did back-to-school shopping. And now it dawns on me that she has two weeks!

For somebody with my mental health status, this can be a whirlwind of mixed everything. It’s really messing with my head. Every single detail of everything I need to know and don’t know yet runs through my brain.

How does drop off work? Pick up? What if she rides the bus? How is her teacher? What should I pack for lunches? Should I buy her lunch? Breakfast? How does she know how to get to her class? WHAT ARE THEY GOING TO DO TO MY CHILD?!

It’s like a panic party in my head.

It doesn’t help that I never went to public school until my junior year of high school. I remember being excited to ride the bus for kindergarten only to find out I didn’t need a bus for the living room. (Yeah. Home school if you don’t remember.) So I don’t know how any of this works or what to expect.

This journey these past few months has basically been me learning to fight away negativity in my mind. Now is probably the biggest challenge as new beginnings and change approach. For me and my whole family.

So how the heck do I approach this? Anxiety causes me to worry about all of it. My mood disorder causes chaos in my mind thinking of readjusting our entire routine. Depression just tries to tie it all together.

Well, I’ll tell you what I’m going to do. I’m going to keep doing what I’ve been doing.

These are the techniques I implement every day. (Though not 100% perfectly. Which is ok. Part of the learning process, too.)

1. I wake up early.

My wake up routine is super important to how my day goes. I shoot to get up around around 5 to get in a jog on my treadmill and do my devotion/personal time with God.

Lately I’m trying to do that jog very first thing because it is so empowering if I can get straight out of bed, into my workout clothes, and on that treadmill. Why? Because it takes LOTS of willpower when you’re already not a morning person. Talk about self discipline. I feel like I can take on the world after that jog!

Then my devotion and prayer time are what encourage me and fill me with extra peace. That is my connection time with God. It is when His power is most evident to me. It sets me up for the day.

2. I follow time blocks.

^Source- http://gracebrooke.com/2013/01/get-more-done-with-time-blocking/time-blocking/

If you are unfamiliar with the concept, put briefly, time blocks are time periods throughout the day dedicated to a certain thing. Here is a good article on how they work.

Time blocks are crucial for someone with a mood disorder. We need structure. We need a schedule to help keep moods and brains on better track.

My time blocks basically consist of a specific time to clean, to work, to workout with Tony, family time, and so forth. I also try to make sure I include short breaks for myself, too. Once one time block is over, I move to the next one, no matter where I’m at.

Now, with a new schedule coming up, all I’ll do is set a time aside to make up a new time block schedule. Of course, it might need adjusting. But that’s life, right? We learn and adjust as we go.

3. I tell my thoughts where to go.

This is a big one I’m learning to practice via my therapist.

One thing I tend to do is remember something I need to do or get inspired to look into something and do it right then and there because I’m afraid I’ll forget. Like make a phone call or look up something I need to buy. Then I start doing it and get completely distracted from what needs done then and there.

I now keep a little notebook on my kitchen counter labeled “thoughts.” So when something pops in my head that doesn’t necessarily need immediate attention, I write it down. At the end of the day, I look through the notebook and either take care of those things I write down or put them in my calendar for when I can take care of them. My Google calendar has become very full of reminders, but it is so helpful now.

For instance, if I need to make a phone call about a medical bill, but it doesn’t need my attention for a week, I’ll schedule it for a week later. That way I don’t have to worry about remembering it.

Then, there are the more complicated thoughts. The ones that cause worry that don’t need to be thought about at all. Like what that person thought when I said or did this. Or feeling suddenly like the world is falling on you.

I try to remember to do two things.

A– Pray. Prayer is what got me through my earliest times of anxiety, even as a kid.

B– Actually out loud tell the thought or feeling to go away. Seriously. Like, “Anxiety, go away. You’re not welcome here.” Or, “Worry, leave me alone. You’re driving me nuts, and I don’t like you.” I will even close my eyes and make a motion with my hand like I’m pushing something away. It seems crazy, but it works!

4. I breathe. 

When all else fails and my temper and emotions are at the top and even overflowing some, I take a moment to stop and take a couple of breaths.

This happens most of the time when the kids are fighting or they just keep interrupting something I’m doing. I notice I’m about to lose it and use the mean mommy voice (and start to use it, too). So I just stop and breathe until I’m calm enough to talk to them.

I like to think of Daniel Tiger. You know,

“When you get so mad that you wanna ROAR!! Take a deep breath…And count to four!”

That show teaches good therapy lol. Am I right, parents?

5. I end my day with thanks and relaxation.

Just like I start my day with positivity, I end my day with it, too. After the kids are in bed, I make some Sleepy Time tea and sit down in the easy chair with a small lamp and my Pandora station labeled “yoga.”

This is my time to reflect. I do a short devotion, a bit of personal development reading, and I pray a prayer of thanksgiving.

No matter how my day has gone, I think of at least 3 things to be thankful for. I try to write them down, too. If it felt like a bad or wasted day, it helps me shift my perspective to feeling like the day was a success. If I already feel the day was a success, it only confirms my perspective and gives me hope for the next day.

I have issues with falling asleep, too. So I have to be sure I don’t leave the day with anxiety or things that cause me stress. This includes trying to stay off electronics for at least a half hour before I go to bed. This really does have an effect on my ease of falling asleep. Having a Kindle Paperwhite E-reader helps with this as it eliminates any strain on the eyes. It allows me to read a relaxing book when I lay down in my bed without disturbing Tony.

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So as I go into this period of change in routines and schedules, my child showing signs of growing up, and the potential for stress, it only strengthens my determination to fight this battle. I’ve basically been preparing for this the whole summer, and I’m ready.

How about you? Do you face the same shift with school starting? Or even just some kind of change in the coming season?

Don’t let it overwhelm you. Just don’t. Let’s not waste our precious time worrying about tomorrow or two weeks from now. Instead, let’s empower ourselves and each other to face the change head on with a positive attitude and determination.

You can do it.

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A Past of Pickles

In my recent visit to Ohio during the portion in which I was with my parents, I did a whole lot of just sitting around their house being a mom to my two kids without daddy around. During that time, despite the mommy brain distractions, I was able to do a lot of reminiscing. One particular time, I was sitting on the bathroom floor waiting for my 3-year-old son to make the tiniest tinkle in the potty. While he watched another episode of Daniel Tiger on my tablet, I decided to use the time to write my thoughts on the biggest breakthrough I’d had on my mental health journey.

Here were my thoughts:

So this parenting stuff really isn’t so bad. This life I have is amazing. I lose my temper and often just want to escape. I still struggle with anxiety, depression, a mood disorder, all my autoimmune issues, and now my more recently diagnosed PCOS (Polycystic Ovary Syndrome. That’s a new story for another post another time). I get hurt and sad. But my life keeps getting better and better. God has had mercy on me and shown me grace. I see it especially if I think about where I used to be. How far I’ve come.

Especially when I think about high school.

No. Not that. Too complicated and depressing to even think about. Too scarring even.

At least, that’s the way I used to look at high school.

For so long, I’ve looked back at my high school years and seen nothing but pain. I got a broken heart so many times. Boyfriends, friends, not friends…so many put downs on who I was. Including who I was in Christ.

Those last two years of high school were especially painful. My junior year of high school I switched from being home schooled through a Christian private school all my life to a vocational school through my local public school, studying cosmetology. It was just in time, too, because my mom had just been diagnosed with stage 2B breast cancer that summer. I was not prepared for the “real” world.

Long story short, I became more aware of the value of my faith in God. I made it known, too. Not in a loud obnoxious Bible thumping “The end is nigh!” kind of way because I still had a low self esteem after all. But in a quiet fashion. I was rejected by most of my school mates and eventually a long time friend (complicated story). I was told that people called me “God girl” behind my back (though I’m proud of that today).

Point is, 9th-12th grade I felt like each year was worse than the last. I see a pattern that led to me feeling a sense of happiness when I was finally in college.

So, up until [a couple months ago], I looked at high school in pain. It would give me a terrible pit in my stomach, especially when I thought of all the relationships I had during those four years, including those at the “Christian” school.

I had decided not to touch it until it made more sense why I would get that pit in my stomach. I found ways to forgive certain people from during that time, but there was still a sense of pain and resentment.

Then, a couple of days before I left for my trip to Ohio to join the kids, we found a huge box in my son’s unused closet. It was one that had never been unpacked when we moved to the house almost exactly four years ago.

It was full of memories for me. It had old music books from my flute days, as well as vocal repertoires and piano books from college. There were stories I had written about me, my friends, and the Monkees as a “tween,” pictures from my childhood through high school, and so many other random things. I had many good laughs and smiles going through all of that.

Then, there were the poems. Poems I had written all through high school. Poems about my depression, poems about the small joys, poems about lost boyfirends…I sat there solemnly reading every single one. Eventually, I started crying. When I finished reading, I went away to privately sob and cry out to God for a few minutes.

It was then that I realized a huge truth. A big discovery for me.

The pit in my stomach caused by high school was not a result of the people in my life during those years that hurt me. It was not old boyfirends, lost friends, or rejecting peers.

It was depression.

A little after the middle of my freshman year of high school, when I was 15, I was first diagnosed with clinical depression. I don’t remember if I was on meds right away or not. I do know I was on and off a couple of antidepressants throughout my high school years. I also know that as early as 11, maybe even younger, I had already experienced panic and anxiety attacks and gotten some therapy. I was also blessed to be raised by parents who taught me that mental illness was just that. An illness. not a weakness. And that it was nothing to be ashamed of.

However, it doesn’t matter the experience of those around you. A diagnosis of depression does not mean overnight understanding. Being raised to know there is no shame and to know how to get help doesn’t mean you automatically cope with it or share it with others. It does not mean you don’t experience shame.

Being in high school only added to the difficulty. Though I didn’t walk around bragging about my depression, I didn’t do well at hiding my emotions when the sobs wanted to come. I cried with my head buried in my arms in front of my friends at the Christian School. Many times they came to put an arm around me. But too often I depended on that. I think I subconsciously sought after that comfort from everyone and continued to be more open about my overwhelming emotions.

Now imagine that on top of all the other hormonal changes we go through already at that age! I started to learn that not everyone could handle it. I started to learn that not everyone realizes it’s nothing to be ashamed of. If I couldn’t even grasp my own illness, how could anyone else who’d never even been around it or aware of it grasp it? I began to overwhelm others.

Over the rest of those years, I became dependent on having a boyfriend. Over the course of each boyfriend, I would end up overhwelming them with my dependancy on them being the “meds” for my depression. As I gave my heart away, I also opened up deeply about my depression. Each time my heart got given back in pieces, I shut myself off more and more from others. I cried less in front of others for fear of being a burden and making things awkward.

To this day, I hate crying in front of anyone. I even hate crying in front of my own husband. The one boyfriend I ever had who immediately accepted and put up with my mental health after an anxiety attack in his car two weeks into dating. The man who took me in his back seat not to make out, but to pray with me in true faith to calm my attack. I can’t stand crying in front of him even after over 10 years of him never failing to comfort me in my tears.

Going back to high school and the rest of it in general, my depression fought me and trampled me almost every single day of it. While figuring myself out in general as every teenager does, it was too hard to figure out the depression with it. And typically, even with parents who guide well in seeing the signs and getting help, teenagers don’t really open up to their parents about what they’re going through. At least in my experience because, you know, I knew everything well enough, right? I did not have a great relationship with them in high school until sometime into my senior year.

My biggest testimony is that the reason I am alive is because of my faith. My God. He was my source of comfort and intervened several times when I didn’t even realize it. He gave me the gift of writing, poetry, and music. All three of those got me through and still do.

Why do I share this whole story with you? It is my deep desire to encourage and inspire others with the gifts God has given me to show that there is a way to get through. That no one is alone. The best way I can do that is by expressing exactly what I’ve gone through and learned.

This day in age depression is running rampant. Yet it is still so misunderstood and ignored. In adults, our military, teens, and even kids. I hear too many stories of suicides in all walks of life.

So what can you do? How can you be proactive? Whether you are going through it or someone you know is, these are the key things I think you should know.

1. Know the signs.

Loss of interest, unexplainable crying, sense of hopelessness…the list is endless really. But pretty much anything that seems out of the ordinary as far as character or behavior is reason for wariness.

2. No one is ever alone.

There is plenty of support out there. Support of trained professionals and support of those who have been through every feeling. We have all had our tough times. And then there is the One who will never leave you or forsake you.

3. Never be afraid to reach out to someone.

When I said I was realizing there were many who didn’t know how to handle my depression, this was not me encouraging to hide away all feelings. It was a take on how a confused teenager was handling her own depression. It is an example of how many need another person in their life to do the stepping up, as I did have some do. So if you’re noticing someone with the signs, take a step to reach out to them to even just help them find the help they need. But the person going through the depression also has to take initiative to follow through. Get that help you need.

4. This does NOT indicate weakness.

No, this doesn’t hit home overnight. Yeah, it’s hard to not feel weak or see it as weak. But this is just a phrase you have to repeat over and over to remind yourself. Tell yourself it is all ok. Because I promise it is ok. And it will be ok.

So stop overlooking this depression epidemic. Be aware of what is going on around you. And be especially mindful of teens who might be going through this in the cruel world we live in. High school is cruel enough as it is.

And if you are a high schooler who might be going through similar things as I did, be encouraged, love. Guard your heart and your mind. Use your gifts to release and talk to those you trust most. You don’t have to do this alone.

Restored and Renewed

These past few months of my life have been a journey. Granted, my entire life has been a journey. But this one had a new qualification.

Restoration.

God knows my life has been full of growth and new lessons learned. Many big lessons. But each journey just becomes bigger and bigger. Until I make it home.

This time I went all out in determination. I deactivated my personal Facebook page. You would not believe the freedom this gave me. So much negativity that it produced in me personally was let go. It allowed me to focus on my relationship with Jesus. To rediscover who I am in him and my Father in Heaven. To rebuild my confidence and purpose.

During this time I also had a couple weeks without my kids, who went to Ohio with grandparents. Then I proceeded to take the roughly 16 hour drive by myself to join them for a few more weeks. Some of you will be like, “WAT?! I didn’t know this!!” Yeah, I didn’t tell a whole lot of people. I promise it is nothing personal to those I might have been able to see. I just needed the time to relax with my family.

Now I’m back. I’ve made a whole new start. Routines, relationships, and career. This restoration period is over, and I’m ready to step out fresh.

So, what does that mean? Oh, it means so much! But here is the gist.

First, what role does Herbalife now play? Well, I am no longer a distributor. Long story short, a lot of changes were made where it became more difficult for me to remain in my status, especially considering the period of time ahead for me. So I stepped down to being a preferred member. Will I ever sell it again? Maybe. But it’s not in my path right now.

What IS in my path right now in terms of nutrition is still helping others, just without monetary gain. I still have a passion about nutrition and the impact it can have on our entire life. I still want to share what I have learned and what I think can help for each individual according to their own needs. So you still can absolutely hit me up for help!

Second, on that note,  there have been a lot of new things I have learned about myself and nutrition in general. A LOT. I am dying to share every detail, too. But I don’t want to suddenly overwhelm anyone by ambushing you all with my knowledge vomit.

Third, my original true calling was to the gifts that God graced me with. Those are expression in writing and music. I have many ambitions and visions in so many different areas of expertise. Ultimately, though, it all comes down to being able to help people in the ways that I have been helped. I can share my experiences and what I’ve learned right here with you to inspire and encourage you. And I can go even deeper in expressing the feelings that came with the experiences through music and worship to God.

All in all, exciting times are ahead. And bit by bit, I will be sharing all the details of what I’ve learned in the past few months and the months to come. I invite you to learn and grow with me!

 

I am ashamed

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These past few months have been a battle. It was a well fought battle. I was strong. I persisted. I lived. And I had God and His army appointed to me by my side.

But I lost. It was a battle that I denied too long. I wasn’t prepared mentally to win. Through the search of a way to win, I got lost.

It’s ok, though. It’s…relieving, actually. The battle is over, and a new one begins. With God still by my side.

“What was this battle?” you’re asking. One that I’ve been fighting all my life pretty much. And one that God has used in my life to make me who I am today.

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Depression.

The strongest army I fought was me, myself, and I. That is why I lost.

For so long my testimony in my fitness and nutrition journey has been how much happier I was. I thought I had defeated my depression once and for all. So when I started noticing symptoms coming back, I denied them. I pushed them away.

They kept coming back. As if to taunt me. So I began to become ashamed. Back to thinking that it was all in my head. I knew better not to let it back in my head, right?

I began to blame my circumstances, which, to an extent, didn’t help. I began to search for some other answers. Kept saying I needed to see a doctor. But I kept putting it on hold because I was afraid of what they’d say. I was tired of “everything came back normal; so let’s put you on this or up that dose and see you again in 6 months.”

I’m tired of the roller coaster ride with meds and doctors. Bad reactions to that med, body adjusting to this one. Doctors treating me like they weren’t taking me seriously. Like I was just another crazy patient looking for something to be wrong so I can blame something else.

So I kept fighting. I fought HARD. I refused to let the devil take me in.

But I still did let him in by believing the old lies I used to tell myself or hear people who didn’t understand say.

“Just lean on God.”

“Just be happy and smile!”

“You can get over it!”

“It’s all in your head!”

“You’re being weak!”

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I put on a mask. It was a mask that even had me fooled. What kind of health coach can help others when her own depression haunts her? Or who lets her anxiety fly through the roof? Or who has to take meds or see a doctor? I mean, come on!

A couple of weeks ago, I realized I just couldn’t take the way I felt anymore. It was time to get in with a doctor. My autoimmune symptoms even were getting worse and worse. Even though I was still keeping up with my exercise routine. Even though I was still keeping up with my nutrition. It just wasn’t getting better.

I was fatigue, dizzy, emotional, my joints were aching. I even had one week where it hurt to move my left hand and fingers. My eczema was flaring up like never before.

So I made an appointment with a new doctor. I specifically went with a DO instead of an MD. I had read that they are more open to other alternatives and take more into consideration your nutrition. And this time I planned to go prepared with a list and a determination to be up front and straight with him. No beating around the bush anymore.

My appointment was last week. Happened to be the day I came down with whatever virus my kids had haha. Anyways, I had my list. And eventually I flat out told him that I needed to say something and just get it out. I told him that I’d had a hard time getting established with a doctor out here because I never felt like I was taken seriously. I told him that I was always afraid of being completely honest about what I truly felt about what is going on. And I told him, “I’m not so much looking for relief as I am answers.” I just want answers once and for all. Not a bunch of meds. Not something to blame everything on. I trust the doctors and their knowledge, but only if they trust me.

Best thing I’ve ever done. He kinda changed his air a bit. Like he thought, “ok, this one’s serious.” He took care of me. And made me able to accept what was really going on right now.

The antidepressant I was on my body had, as per the past meds, adjusted to. After 3 1/2 years on it, it was time to wean off and try something new. Again.

But he’s not fluffing off other things going on. He realizes that I do have other issues. He’s first treating my depression because it is clearly the worst issue right now. I see him again in a few weeks after weaning on to my new meds.

Here’s the truth that I realized. No, I’m not happy about the medication situation. It has been ROUGH weaning off my meds, and I still have a ways to go. But, I have still come a long way since the last time I had to deal with a deep depression.

In fact, I feel free. I have let go of my mask. I let go of my shame. In fact, I am ashamed that I was ashamed. 

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It doesn’t matter how healthy of a lifestyle I might have. Depression is still a real illness. And while my healthy lifestyle can and HAS helped, there is still an aspect to it for me in which I need medication. I need it to help stabilize some of the imbalance of chemicals I’ve been dealing with all my life due to it being in my genes.

Will I ever be med free? I hope to. But for now, I accept this journey. Because now I have more tools than ever to properly FIGHT the battle. There still is an aspect that I CAN control, and I will. With God’s help and the growth He’s blessed me with in my healthy journey, I will.

So, in all honesty, what kind of coach would I be if I put on a mask? If I hid my struggles? Hid my humanity? Hid the fact that I’ve been through and still can go through the same hard times as anyone else? Not a very good one, I think.

In these journeys, it is so incredibly important to know that YOU ARE NOT ALONE!!! Because this runs in my family, I was raised to know when to seek help. When I was 15 and sobbed uncontrollably for no particular reason, my mom took me to the doctor. That was when I was first diagnosed with a clinical depression.

So many people have not been as blessed. I have seen and heard of too many lives lost because they were ashamed to seek help. They were ashamed to open up. To reach out. They thought they were alone. I’ve been there! I’ve felt so alone so many times. But let me tell you, you’re not!! These “irrational” things you feel have been felt by many, and ARE felt by many.

While wanting to blog for so long, it’s been hard because I had so many ideas I wanted to share. Then I would get so overwhelmed that I wouldn’t type them up. But it really all comes down to one thing for me. My mental health journey. The original reason I created this blog.

I want to help others the way I have been helped in my mental journey. And I have gifts that God has blessed me with that do that very thing.

Music. Oh, music! Who doesn’t have a song that they’ve been touched by? One that said what they felt? That opened their eyes to a new light?

Here’s a song for inspiration to fight.

Or this one to remind you that you’re not alone.

Writing. We all find that one blog post or that one article or that one book that just felt like a miracle. The one that speaks every single word that makes us think “That is 100% me!” or “That is SO inspiring!”

Beauty. Cosmetology. We all have a beauty service we like that makes us feel incredible and beautiful. Getting our hair done, getting a manicure or pedicure, a facial. Men, too! Come on, now. Don’t lie!

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^Nutrition and fitness. There is a saying that food is the most utilized antidepressant and exercise is the most underutilized one. Truth, baby. And you really don’t know this until you have improved your nutrition and fitness to a life changing level.

All of these things have helped me in my journey with mental health. And God has made it so clear to me now why He blessed me with all of these things. They are the way He gave me to help build His Kingdom. Because true happiness and victory always lead to Him through Christ, His Son.

The last thing I would like to say is this: Please, seek help. If you have dangerous thoughts of suicide or hurting yourself, remember that you’re not alone. Reach out to someone. Anyone you feel comfortable with. There are 800 numbers for things like this, too. Never ever ignore the fact that you might have a clinical depression. Whether it’s PPD, PTSD, or just a regular depression, it is never something to take lightly. SEE PIC BELOW.

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Love and blessings to you, my friends.

[Edit] I realized I wanted to go deeper into the things that I’ve felt that led me to realize my depression had gotten worse again. That way those that aren’t aware may be and those that feel alone are reminded they’re not.

My emotions have become irrational. I’ve wanted to cry about everything and nothing. It’s created irrational fear. Even fear of being around other people. A legit, real FEAR. Not just worry or being shy. But a real anxiety. I’ve felt closed off. Alone. I’ve lost interest in taking care of my house. I’ve lost interest in things I’ve usually enjoyed. I’ve wanted to just stay closed up and hidden in my house. I’ve felt like death would be welcome…

There is a real physical effect, too. That lack of desire to get out of bed? That’s not just from feeling so irrationally down. That is legit fatigue. Even after a good night’s sleep, good eating, and good exercise, still feeling like my body cannot move. Because it hurts. It is weak. Fatigue. Some days I’ve barely been able to do the dishes. Feed the kids lunch. Feed us dinner. Talk.

These are only some of the symptoms, too. Everyone goes through a different degree and amount of symptoms. So I encourage you to further educate yourself apart from what I’ve informed.

Just remember that no matter what you’re feeling or going through, you can lean on and rely on God to get you through. That is what I’ve done. He is the reason I live today <3.

Look to the Stars

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I was looking through Pinterest as I like to do to find some inspirational or encouraging quote. I came across the one you see above, and it was just what I needed.

Often I will search Pinterest with words based on exactly how I’m feeling at the time. Tonight, I searched “failing at life.” This was one of the first few.

I’ve felt a lot lately like I’m failing at every single thing in my life. There isn’t one thing that I feel is more significantly failing than the other. All of it is pressing down hard on me and on my heart. So much is overwhelming me. So much responsibility felt. Too much I hold myself accountable for.

This quote put in my mind exactly what I’ve been trying to remind myself time and time again, and that which I’m sure God has been trying to throw in my face even more. That’s Philippians 4:8.

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“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” (NIV)

When life knocks us down (something negative), we shift ourselves to look at the stars (something positive). And the best positivity we can go to is God the Father. When we can’t think of anything positive, we go to Him. And with Him comes love, peace, health, and truth.

A New Day

Things have been rough mentally lately. Thought I was shaking it off, but no, the devil is still out to get me.

For those unaware, hubby is getting out of the military in less than a month. We’re becoming civilians. During the course of the last couple of months, he has been taking a class that will in the long run get him certifications and job experience in his fields of interest. It’s really such a blessing that he got in this class, especially when he did.

But the thing is, he doesn’t have a job yet. This class gets done only days before the day he is officially out. So we are left with uncertainty of what’s next. Where we’ll be. What we’ll do. The next adventure that lies before us.

There’s a key word there. Adventure. Adventure is a journey without seeing what is ahead. That is when we turn our eyes to God. Trust that He will take care of us in the here and now. As well as in our future. Faith is trusting in our adventure. It is believing in something we cannot see. And something we don’t always understand 100%.

In looking at it this way, it gives me some hope and excitement. It helps give me a peace. Kind of an odd peace haha. But a peace nonetheless. And there is nothing like peace from God.

I can tell that I must be doing things right in some way. With the state of our circumstances, my anxiety and depression are really trying to take me over. My house is becoming a disaster again. Business is suffering. My relationships suffer. And everything suffers because I suffer inside. So when I suffer, I realize, I must be doing something right for the devil to attack me this way. So all I have to do is continue to try and do my best. And the biggest thing I can do for any aspect of my life is work on personal development. Work on changing myself. I’m going to need work the rest of my life anyways, so why not keep trucking? Working on myself, especially during my suffering times, is only going to make me stronger and stronger. I will only be prepared for extra joy in the good times and for maintaining a joy in bad times.

One thing that I think will help me is getting back into my blog. I love sharing my experiences and insights with others because I’d like to think I might reach someone else out there who might feel like they are alone. Plus, it is a way of me reaching out and reminding people that I am not perfect in any way, shape, or form. It is a way to keep myself from hiding when I feel pressure to be perfect.

So here I am :). Trying still to make my come back.

You might say I have officially started my YouTube channel. You can click here to see my introduction. It’s the only video I have on there at this moment in time lol. The whole video thing is super new to me, and I avoided it so long because I wanted to perfect it. But I think the only way to do that is to just jump right in and learn as I go. So you have me in raw form lol. Don’t expect perfection. I very much welcome feedback and opinions as I do this. I want to learn and hope all of you can learn alongside me.

Videos I will be trying to tie in mostly with this blog. I plan to do videos on Herbalife products along with some nutrition and fitness tips, short videos of encouragement and inspiration and just sharing some thoughts, and even some videos of my singing and worship. These are my passions. God called me to share my gifts. So I’m going to stop being afraid to get out there and share my joys with you :). Again, it’s all new, esp doing the music lol so dude, bear with me. I am only human. And I can be a ditsy one at that. So, anyways, here is to a new start and a new day!!

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Challenging the Mind

The past few months have been a period of lots of growth and change for me. It’s been quite the roller coaster ride, too. Ups and downs in business, mental health, life…so much that went through my mind that I wanted to write about but was too overwhelmed with the intensity of it all.

The end of this chapter, however, as always, brought nothing but good things and good lessons learned. All aspects of my life are stronger. My marriage, my family, my business, my faith, my hope, and just…me.

I struggled for a while with my self image. I felt pressure to look perfect. As a result, my nutrition suffered some as I focused TOO much on fitness. My depression worsened as did my anxiety and my stress. But I regained focus as God brought to light my true struggle. I realized I didn’t need to be ashamed of my struggles and my imperfections. What kind of Herbalife health coach would I be without them?

Since then, I have been working on my mind. My mind is my biggest challenge. I’m focusing on Philippians 4:8, which basically tells us to focus on positive things. As I’ve been working on this, I came up with a new challenge for myself. In terms of my nutrition, my biggest struggle has always been stress and comfort eating. I had been giving in to that again. So I came up with a challenge based off of our #21dayshakechallenge.

It takes 21 days to form a habit. In the shake challenge, we keep up with drinking our shakes for a straight 21 days. The accountability comes from posting pics of our shakes every day. Well, my challenge I am calling the “21dayMINDchallenge.” For a straight 21 days, I committed to no cheating.

The point of this was not to create a habit of not cheating, but of controlling my mind. To avoid cheating, I have to push out the thought “one time won’t hurt” or “just one little bite.” In doing this, I hoped to train my mind into some good self discipline.

What no cheating means for me is sticking to my goals on MyFitnessPal  (my screen name is picklepuddles if you’d like to add me). It means sticking to Ezekiel bread, quinoa, brown rice, whole grains, and oatmeal as my grains. Lean proteins. Low added sugars. Low saturated fats and no trans fats. No being a garbage disposal for my kids. No little bites of something as I prepare it. And, of course, no cheat meals or treats.

I did this challenge by myself from March 14 thru April 3. I was planning to take pics of all my food and blog regularly about it. However, time got away from me, and I couldn’t keep up with taking all the pics and everything. So I decided to share my overall experience.

I started out the first week prepping almost everything.

This consisted of snacks, some stuff for dinners, and, of course, my shakes.

It made things pretty stinking easy throughout the week except for the fact that some of the stuff with produce in it didn’t last the whole week. Started looking gross lol. So I gotta work on my prepping skills. I didn’t do much prepping after that, just mainly my meal and snack planning.

So the way I would plan was with the MyFitnessPal app on my phone. For those who don’t know how it works, I took some screen shots of what it looks like. Usually the night before, I would go in and log what I planned to eat for breakfast, lunch, snacks, and dinner (you can search for it or scan the bar code). After my workout each day, I would log the basics of what I did to get an estimation of how much I burned and needed to make up for.

Often what I did is that when I wasn’t yet close to my calorie goal, I would go to the “Nutrition” tab in the menu to look at what I still needed more of. I also would look at this throughout my planning to spread out when I was getting different nutrients like protein, carbs, and fats. Since I was only looking to lose a few pounds this time, I didn’t want to lose it too fast. So I tried to keep close to my calorie goal. There was tweaking done here and there each day in my diary, but the logging stuff ahead of time kept me more on track instead of standing there thinking, “hmm, what should I eat for a snack?” while I have my kids’ Goldfish crackers or pretzels in my view.

I pretty much always went way over my protein goal because it’s hard to get too much protein when you’re eating lean proteins.

Ok, so what did I eat you ask? Well, while I didn’t keep up with pictures of every single meal, I did take pictures of most of the different things I ate. I’ll give a look at my typical days.

My morning routine consists of devotions and prayer time and a workout. I usually got up 4:45-5 (shocker, I know) and was done by 7. So after this was my typical “breakfast.” It was my Herbalife Formula One (2 scoops) and my delicious Rebuild Strength. I liked having Dutch Chocolate with the Rebuild for a chocolate punch in the mouth. SOOOOOOOO GOOD. Definitely was a reward for working out. My breakfast I always also took my Herbalife tabs. They consisted of the multivitamin, Cell Activator, Cell-U-Loss, Aminogen, and Total Control.

Gotta do my faces ;).

Then there was my morning “snack.” This was usually around 9 or 9:30. This was more what you would call a breakfast, though, because I typically had breakfast food if I was home. It pretty much always consisted of two egg whites and one whole egg (usually over easy), a banana, and a piece of toast (Ezekiel bread) with natural peanut butter and a touch of agave nectar. We go through bananas like crazy in our house, though, so sometimes I would replace a banana with an apple or pear if we were out. I would also take a Snack Defense to try to help with any munchies that might try to creep in.

I seriously never get tired of this combination haha. I’m too much of a breakfast food lover :).

Around 12 was when I would have my lunch shake. I had the Orange Cream Formula One on hand during this challenge, so usually I had two scoops of that with one scoop of the vanilla Protein Drink Mix. I mixed this with 1/4 cup of almonds in my single serve blender. I don’t really like the Orange Cream by itself, but adding the almonds makes it quite tasty! One last thing I added to my lunch shake was the Prolessa Duo. I did this because it helps give more of a feeling of fullness. I usually tend to struggle the most in the afternoon with my cravings and getting hungry. Then I would take the same set of tablets from what I had with my morning shake.

Shakes somehow taste even better with a big fat straw.

Afternoon snack (usually around 2:30) varied based on what I was in the mood for. My first week I had prepped some avocado, spinach, and egg salad. I also had prepped some cucumber and tomato sandwiches with cream cheese. I did not continue these because these did not last the whole week haha. As far as prepping them anyways. By Thursday or Friday they were kinda gross. But this Avocado Egg Salad I found on Pinterest is delicious! I just added pureed spinach to it for the extra health kick. It is because of this recipe that I use lemon juice for flavoring so much now.

Anywho, most of the time I would have at least 12 grams of protein, a veggie, etc. Some examples here in the slideshow below are my avocado egg salad with the cucmber sandwiches (the smiley face one lol), avocado with tuna and grape tomatoes (and some salt, pepper, and lemon juice), v8 vegetable juice, and Herbalife’s delicious protein bars. I WOULD DIE WITHOUT THESE PROTEIN BARS!!! They are seriously like a candy bar. The Chocolate Peanut tastes like a Snickers. In one picture, you’ll see I had some Peach Tea with some lemon Niteworks. Niteworks has a lot of amazing detail behind it, which sometime I will share info on, but to briefly explain, it provides Nitric Oxide that is crucial to heart health. For any age. And, of course, I would again take the Snack Defense.

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I really liked getting creative with how I took my pics lol.

So next came dinner. Usually around 5 or 5:30. Soooooo many different things. The key here was getting in a good portion of lean protein, some colorful veggies, and a grain limited to quinoa, brown rice, oatmeal, and whole grain and Ezekiel bread. We also had a Bible study we went to once a week that we do a potluck for. One of the pictures represents the options I chose. Oh my gosh, so much good food at these Bible studies!! It was especially hard to say no to the desserts haha. But I did it.

These pictures in the slideshow below only represent some of my dinners, and I didn’t always remember to take pictures of some of my veggies haha. But a lot of these dinners had veggies mixed in them. I have captions with each photo describing them.

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I had many a yummy dinner despite my restrictions!

Something else I did on occasion was make Herbalife pancakes. With having the Orange Cream flavor, I did two scoops of that with one scoop vanilla PDM, an egg, and water to the desired consistency. The Orange Cream tasted good with some almonds and natural peanut butter on top. Oh and some honey. NOM.

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Is your mouth watering yet?

Ok, my workouts? Pretty simple. Pictured below is my gym. In my garage lol. So I alternated days working lower body and upper body with the stuff you see here, as well as some body weight exercises. I incorporated cardio in every day as well. Usually started and ended with it. I also would do my favorite DVD by Angie Gorr on occasion, too. I usually did something from it at least once a week. I share this with a lot of women because it is great for any woman at any stage. They have Angie plus three other ladies showing you the different levels you can do at your own pace. Plus, you can divide it up and do anywhere from just 5 minutes to the whole DVD. The weight exercises are awesome, too!

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Excuse the mess.

So here’s the big part. My results. The only picture I have unfortunately is just from after doing it for a week. Let’s face it, at the end of the challenge I started my period and felt too bloaty and gross to take a pic (ladies, you understand lol. And sorry, guys.) BUT after just one week, I was already toning up and feeling so much better!

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I know some might not really see much difference at all. But let me tell you, the difference was mostly inside. I was feeling more confident and even better than ever before.

In the end, I did end up losing those pounds I gained over the holidays. My cravings were mostly gone again. I didn’t feel a need to eat my feelings. I had gone a straight 21 days fighting MANY temptations of eating a piece of candy or eating the food my kids didn’t finish. I fought cakes, cookies, extra munchies, etc. Most of all, I fought my mind. And I won the battles.

Here is the biggest thing I learned through all of it. My whole concept on cheating has changed. I used to say, “Oh, I’m all about cheating on occasion!” While it’s still true that I believe that it is ok to cheat, my approach on this is different now. First, we do not need to go out of our way to cheat. I usually set a standard of cheating no more than once a week. You’ve done well all week, go ahead and have that slice of pizza (even though you might regret it lol). BUT this doesn’t mean that you think, “Oh, hey, I ate healthy all week. That means I can cheat today. Let’s order a pizza!!” If the opportunity to cheat brings itself to you, like you’re going out to eat, or you’re going to a party, whatever it may be, go for it! Cheat. However, this brings me to my next point.

Second, cheating does not mean we should overindulge ourselves. I learned this specifically after the challenge. That week that it ended was breakfast night at our Bible study. Breakfast food is my favorite and my weakness. I went CRAZY. I ate so much. It was all delicious! But the problem was that it was TOO much. I enjoyed it while I ate it. But I ended up feeling like crap into the next day, almost like I negated all the work I’d put into that challenge. I didn’t lol. But I felt like it, and I hated myself. That was where my big lesson was.

So to all my clients reading this, I’m sorry, but I’m no longer “all about” that cheat day lol. I am all about getting to the point wherecheating consists of just one piece of cake or one slice of pizza. Maybe 2.

Peeps, I have struggled with depression and anxiety all my life. And recently I was told I have a generalized mood disorder. For 21 days, I fought with my own mind and won. I won. I lost a battle I didn’t know I was fighting after and learned a huge lesson. The point is, if someone as “crazy” as me can do it, anyone can. YOU can survive without cheating at least for a while. I mean, I’m thinking about doing another challenge for even longer sometime. Crazy, huh? lol Anyways, we are always more capable of things than our head tells us. With God’s help especially. Never say “I don’t think I can.” The worst I will take is “Yeah I can totally do that, but just don’t want to right now.” lol I don’t want to hear I can’t. Because you can. If it’s worth enough to you for your own health and how you affect those around you and how the rest of your life plays out, you can do it. And you can find a way.

If you are interested in trying this challenge yourself, let me know. I don’t require a fee for it at this point as it is something brand new I came up with. However, I do want to add that I can help you the best if you are on a plan using the Herbalife products. Apart from the strength that God gave me through prayer, those products got me through and made it so much easier.

If you’re not ready for that, we have our next Facebook challenge starting May 2nd! You can at least commit to starting a healthier life with this 6 week challenge :). These challenges have been incredible! I’ve loved them simply for the resources and support they provide from coaches and participants alike. Get with me to get more info!

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So now my next goal? Personal development. Bettering myself so I might be a better coach, a better wife, a better mother, and just overall have a better life.

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As far as physical goals, I’m working hard to get rid of these love handles! My weight is great, and I feel healthy again. Getting some guns, too!! haha. But yeah. The love handles gotta go. They’re annoying me.

Now that I FINALLY have this blog post done (been working on it for a while), I’m also shooting to blog more regularly on my progress and life. Including videos. SHOOTING to lol. This is going to involve every aspect in my life as far as mental health, physical health, and even my music. Stay tuned, my loves! I see great things ahead!