• Health,  Personal Development

    Becoming Intentional About Your Life

    Do you know what you really want from life? I don’t just mean materially. I mean, do you know what you are working towards? Or, are you drifting through life, letting circumstances take you where they will?

    Do you know that you have a choice in the matter?

    It can be really frustrating to feel aimless and out of control. I think a lot of us tend to forget that we can choose our path.

    Wouldn’t you rather know where you’d like to go, and then have a plan for getting there? I know I would.

    Of course, this obviously doesn’t mean you can’t adjust things as you go along. Life is unpredictable, so we have to adjust, really. We have to remain flexible. And, feelings and preferences change over time, as well. So, where you end up may not be what you hope for, right now, in this season of life.

    And yet, it is still worth creating a plan and being intentional about your direction in life. It helps you to feel more in control, and to find more fulfillment. Instead of drifting, now you are living with purpose to your days.

    For myself, I would like to reach the following goals in my life:

    • Shrink down to a healthier weight
    • Live a more active and healthy lifestyle
    • Earn enough money from self-employment to live financially secure
    • Make an impact on others’ lives through my work
    • Buy property & have my dream-house built (the one I designed, myself)
    • Continue to grow, both spiritually and professionally
    • Lead a teen girls’ Bible study group
    • Travel… see more of the world
    • Support my favorite charities (KivaMercy House GlobalRoom to Read)

    Having this list, and knowing what I would really love to accomplish, helps me to know what steps I need to take in order to achieve those goals.

    For example, in my health pursuits, I already know –from trial & error– that intuitive eating is the best method for me. But, in addition to that, I’ve also come to realize that my dependence on processed foods is no longer working for me (if it ever did!), because I am developing more and more health issues. I’m beginning to see how much truth there is in what they say about your body needing nutrients, not just calories (in other words, our choice of food matters, even more than how often or how much we eat).

    I was super excited, recently, to find a blog called, “Hello, Nutritarian!“, which is based off of the principles found in Dr. Joel Fuhrman’s books (“Eat to Live; “The End of Dieting“).* This blog provides recipes and guidance on how to eat a cleaner, more whole-foods based diet. And that’s just what I know I need.

    Also in regards to my health, I came across a gal, last week, who was once where I am at (size 18, currently), but who went on to win a figure competition (which is not something I am aiming for!), and to maintain a completely transformed lifestyle. She is now active every day, eating healthy/clean, and she’s changing others’ lives by paying-it-forward as a healthy living coach (same company I’m with).

    This gal’s total life transformation really inspires me — especially since I’m currently at the same weight she started at. If she can do it, I know that I can achieve similar things. It takes a decision —that I am no longer willing to put up with my poor health habits– and making a full commitment to myself and to the better life that I know is possible!

    The great thing about all of these health goals, for me, is that I am in a position to help others change their lives… just by being an example for them to follow. By committing to a healthier lifestyle for myself, I have a chance to allow others to watch me and to see that they, too, can have the success they seek (you can, as well!). We are all in it together! And, because this is my work, I earn my living from helping others transform their lives. So, that also ties into my goal of becoming financially secure.

    Related: Kickstart Your Health sessions

    I believe we all have what it takes to achieve our goals. But, we first need to be aware that we have a choice in the direction our lives are going to go, and then we have to know what it is we want so that we can make a plan, and make a decision to go after it. We need to commit to doing whatever is necessary. It won’t be easy — it’s going to demand hard work and sacrifices — but I know that it’ll be worth it.

    Here’s to living your life on purpose!

  • Health,  Miscellaneous

    Relationship Red Flags: Signs of an Abusive Relationship

    They are always there. But you’re probably not looking for them. Maybe you weren’t taught to. Yet, it’s so important that you are aware!

    Relationship Red Flags | SheWillRise.ca

    I’m talking about the signs… red flags that warn you to pay attention, take notice. Subtle clues that things aren’t as bright as they may seem.

    I wasn’t taught to be aware of these things. (Then again, I didn’t have the Internet so readily available back then, either!) So, I blindly stumbled through my dating years and into marriage, naive about how to guard my heart.

    I see it so clearly now. A person’s true character will always be revealed, eventually. This is part of the reason why it’s better to take your time in getting to know someone.

    Does this person that you’re dating treat everyone kindly — from the CEO to the janitor? Do they support you in your dreams, and listen to your ideas? Do they comfort you when you’re upset?

    Too often, we get so caught up in the googly-eyed part of romance that we get swept away, and forget to listen to our intuition. Family and friends will sometimes see the “red flags” before we do (since they aren’t as close to the situation), and they’ll offer up warnings; they’ll state their concerns. Problem is, we’re so taken by our partner that we brush off these well-meaning comments. We think, “They just don’t know him/her like I do”. Or, we make excuses for our partner’s behavior.

    Heads-up: That right there is a red flag. You should never have to make excuses for your partner’s behavior!

    Think long-term: Do you want to be constantly defending yourself? (hint: you shouldn’t have to). Do you think it will be okay if you and your partner don’t see eye-to-eye on your deeply-held values and beliefs? (hint: you’ll grow resentful and bitter). Do you believe that he or she will change, over time? (hint: it’s not impossible, but it’s highly unlikely). And please… do NOT think that you can ever change another person! It is absolutely not possible. Change is an entirely personal (internal) responsibility. And, if you accept this person’s bad behavior now, why should they ever feel the need to change it later?

    You are worth FAR more! Do not settle! I know this isn’t easy. But, trust me on this: you will save yourself years of grief and heartache by being aware and discerning up front.

    Know your limits. Decide — before you even get into a relationship— what you are, and are not, okay with (remember: think long-term). The whole point of dating, really, is to prepare for marriage … to see whether you and this other person would be compatible as life-long partners. So, keep this in mind as you consider entering into a relationship with someone.

    Read up on relationships — the good, the bad, and the ugly. Learn what the “red flags” are… and if you find even ONE, run away! (trust me on this). You are worth so much better! Do not let fear tell you that you may never find anyone else, or that truly good, loving men (and women) don’t exist — those are LIES! The devil wants to keep you stuck and miserable! (John 10:10). God, on the other hand, wants you to trust Him with your love story! He wants you to trust Him to show you exactly the right person for you. After all, God knows you inside & out, so He also knows who would be the perfect compliment to your life!

    Here are some of my favorite resources:

    And here are a few more links, if you’d like to continue reading:

    Have the courage to be honest with yourself. It takes guts, but you’ll thank yourself later. Know that you don’t have to go it alone. There is always hope!

    {PS… I’ve created my own list of “red flags” to watch out for: Red Flag List}

  • Health

    Let’s Talk About… Depression

    This isn’t an easy post to write. I’m about to get super-real with you, peeps. But I feel that this is a really important conversation to have. So, let’s talk about… Depression.

    Let's Talk About...Depression | SheWillRise.ca

    I have suffered from depression since I was a young girl. But it wasn’t until April 2013 that I finally started taking medication for it. The reasons for my delay were these:

    1. I had been misinformed / ignorant about the different types of depression that exist, and therefore didn’t feel that I was a candidate for medical help. I didn’t fit the description of someone with major depression — though, I did have some of the symptoms — so I didn’t think anyone would take me seriously.
    2. I had long been under the impression that antidepressants are habit-forming, so I didn’t want to take them for fear that I would suffer awful consequences when I tried to go off of them.

    What changed for me is that, in 2013, I read an eBook called, “Pros of Prozac” by Beca Mark*. In it, Beca outlines her own struggle with anxiety and depression, and how much taking antidepressants had helped her. Reading Beca’s story, I could relate to so much of what she described of her life before taking medication. As such, I started to –once again– really research depression and antidepressants.

    Side note: I’ve also struggled with anxiety and panic attacks since 2001, so I have done a lot of research on these topics over the years.

    Thanks to my new research, though, I learned two things that I’d missed before, that made all the difference for me:

    First, antidepressants are not habit-forming. If you follow your doctor’s instructions for how to take them, and for how to be weaned off of them, there shouldn’t be any major issues.

    Second, I have what is called, Dysthymia, also known as chronic low-level depression. That’s why, although I have some of the symptoms listed for major depression, I don’t have all of them. Yet, my form of depression is no less serious, and can still benefit from the use of antidepressants. Here is the description {source}:

    Persistent depressive disorder, also called Dysthymia (dis-THIE-me-uh), is a continuous long-term (chronic) form of depression. You may lose interest in normal daily activities, feel hopeless, lack productivity, and have low self-esteem and an overall feeling of inadequacy. These feelings last for years and may significantly interfere with your relationships, school, work and daily activities.

    If you have persistent depressive disorder, you may find it hard to be upbeat even on happy occasions — you may be described as having a gloomy personality, constantly complaining or incapable of having fun. Though persistent depressive disorder is not as severe as major depression, your current depressed mood may be mild, moderate or severe.

    Because of the chronic nature of persistent depressive disorder, coping with depression symptoms can be challenging, but a combination of talk therapy (psychotherapy) and medication can be effective in treating this condition.

    Armed with this new information, I went to see my doctor to talk with her about trying antidepressants, and she wrote me a prescription.

    It took a while to figure out the proper dosage, and which brand of antidepressant worked the best for me (turns out, it’s Zoloft). But I just have to tell you: choosing to go on antidepressants was the best thing I ever did for myself. It has made a world of difference in my life. Some of the benefits include:

    • I can have important conversations with my husband, or family, without falling into tears, and then being unable to continue the conversation
    • I’m no longer irritable, grouchy, and snippy with everyone all the time
    • I can respond, rather than react, to stressful situations
    • I don’t cry over the stupidest little things
    • I have battled my anxiety and panic attacks… and (still, by the grace of God), I won! {see below}

    This isn’t an exhaustive list, but these things are the major highlights, for me.

    When I first started taking the medication, I didn’t tell my husband about it. Reason being, he is one of those people who doesn’t agree that depression is a mental illness. He thinks it’s just “all in one’s head” and can be overcome through “mind over matter”, diet and exercise {side note: yes, a healthy diet and regular exercise have been shown to lessen the effects of Depression, so they’re still highly recommended}. In order to “show” my man that I actuallywas helped by the medication, I waited a few months of being on it before I let him in on this choice of mine. And, when I finally did tell him, I asked if he’d noticed a change in my personality over the previous few months — he had. So, he agreed that maybe this was an important choice for me to have made.

    Unfortunately, there is still a lot of stigma attached to depression and antidepressants. There is a lot of misinformation out there, and also a lot of misunderstanding. People who have never suffered from anxiety, or never had a panic attack, don’t fully know the horror of it… the feeling of being so very out of control, and the feeling of utter terror. Anxiety and panic attacks are notjust “all in your head”… they are physical manifestations of a chemical imbalance in your physical body. You can know all of the statistics and information, but your body is going to react (usually there are “triggers”), regardless of your level of knowledge.

    For example, in 2001 I had my first panic attack. My family and I were eating dinner, when all-of-a-sudden, I heard a helicopter flying over our house. And much as I knew it made absolutely nosense (mentally), I was utterly convinced that that helicopter was going to come and crash into our house. I ended up excusing myself from the table to go to the washroom, where I collapsed into a shaking puddle on the floor, sobbing uncontrollably. I was scared-to-death, because this had never happened to me before, and I had never heard of panic attacks. I thought I’d completely lost it, and that I was going to have to be locked away in some mental institution. I’d gone off the deep end. (Thankfully, this wasn’t the case!)

    From that point on, I couldn’t hear any aircraft going by overhead without seizing up in a fit of anxiety. My heart would race, my fists would clench, and I couldn’t think of anything else.

    Thankfully, my faith has helped a lot with this… I’ve learned to pray through the attacks, asking God to protect both my family, and those on the aircraft.

     

    Mind you, the 9-11 attacks certainly didn’t help. Especially since I’d had some eerily “prophetic” (for lack of a better term) dreams about them before they even happened! Put it this way: I sawwhat the people in the World Trade Center must have seen, seconds before the plane went crashing through those windows.  This still shakes me to my core.

    Anyway. Like I said, my faith has really helped me in overcoming my anxiety and panic attacks. But I also believe that the antidepressants have, as well. As proof, I can proudly say that — thanks be to God! — I was able to get on a plane and fly out to visit my sister, last summer … and I didn’t even have to take anything (tranquilizers) for the trip, either! Was I still scared? Absolutely! I was very, very nervous. But, would I do it again? Yep — in a heartbeat!

    To wrap this up, let me just encourage you in a couple of things:

    1. If you, yourself, suffer from anxiety, panic attacks, and/or depression (in any of its forms),please don’t hesitate to get help. Research it, if you need to. Talk to friends or family, or go see a counselor. Talk to your doctor. It’s not worth it to continue to suffer alone. You don’t need to… Heck! Send me an email if you need to talk, and feel you have no one else! I’m here, okay?
    2. If you have, or are considering suicide, PLEASE call this number, right now:  1-800-273-TALK (8255). Reach out — you are NOT alone!
    3. Ignore the haters and those who tell you that it’s “all in your head”. Do what you feel is the right thing… for you. That’s all that matters. You are the only one who truly knows your body, and what you need. You are the only one who needs to make this decision {with the help of your doctor, of course}.
    4. If you aren’t opposed to it, seek God in the matter. Tell Him what you’re struggling with (He already knows, but He wants you to come to Him with this). Ask for His help in overcoming this. It IS possible… Did you know that the Bible encourages us by saying, “Do not fear”, 365 times?  You could also go talk to a local pastor or priest. They are trained counselors.
    5. Help spread the word! The more people who talk openly about mental health issues like Depression, the more we can get rid of the “stigma” that surrounds it, and the more we can help those who truly need help.

    ETA: Have a look at this article, on the Health Ambition website, all about the top 10 anti-anxiety foods that help reduce stress… it may be of some help to you, as well.

    HAVE YOU GOTTEN HELP FOR DEPRESSION? DO YOU TAKE MEDICATION FOR IT? SHARE WITH US A BRIEF SNIPPET ABOUT YOUR STORY IN THE COMMENTS! LET’S SHOW THE LOVE!