Health is a Vehicle, NOT a Destination

Health & Wellness

Through my studies at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, I came across a quote from the school’s founder, Joshua Rosenthal, that has stuck with me ever since.

“Health is a vehicle, not a destination.”

I think this idea that Joshua has is so important to spread because today we live in a time where everyone is a know-it-all when it comes to health. You see articles and blogs every day that say things like “10 Steps to Better Health,” “45 Ways to Make Your Home Healthier,” “7 Superfoods to Add to Your Grocery List,” “5 Supplements to Take to Improve Your Health.” In reality, these people aren’t experts. Everyone is really just recommending their own specific formula of food, exercise, and supplementation that works for them. 

In all this confusion, new nutrition knowledge appears every year, new health products come onto the market, and new health advice is thrown into the mix. And here we are, just trying to make some sense out of it!

Plus with the thousands of content sources that show photoshopped images of fitness models, influencers, and bloggers out there it’s easy to get obsessed about what you need to do to be healthy. When you combine the crazy popularity of “lifestyle” articles and content in recent years, all of the nutrition confusion, and the constant barrage of ultra-toned models, there’s so much pressure to be “healthy.” Perfectly healthy, I might add.

But perfect health should not be the end goal. 

If you have any plans for the future – having kids, getting a new job, starting a business, getting married, traveling – you will need your health to get you there. But happiness and life fulfillment don’t fall into your lap once you walk through magical golden gates to the land of perfect health.

Health is very important, but we shouldn’t just stop there. Health is what allows us to be active in the world. However, the problem is that most people don’t think of health in this way. They don’t view their physical health as a vehicle to greater things in life. Instead, people tend to fall into one of two groups when it comes to how they approach their health and wellness.

Group One: Those who KNOW they need to make health a priority and don’t.

The first group of people that I’m going to talk about are the people who constantly say things like: 

  • “I should workout”
  • “I should eat better”
  • “I should take vitamins”
  • “I should go to the doctor”
  • “I should go to the dentist”
  • “I should drink more water”
  • “I should drink less alcohol”
  • “I should stop eating so much junk food”
  • “I should eat more fruits and veggies”

SHOULD is the keyword here.

These people aren’t completely happy with their bodies and constantly think about how they need to improve and what they “should” or “shouldn’t” be doing. Maybe they even feel guilty for it and it affects their self-confidence. 

This happens because while people understand what they have to do to improve their health, it’s another thing to actually do it. They get stuck in habits or stuck in a rut and can’t seem to pull themselves out of it. It can feel impossible to undo years worth of habits that were slowly created. So getting healthy again, losing weight, and changing nutrition feels as difficult as climbing Mount Everest.

This is not because some of these people are any weaker, but because they lack the motivation, accountability, and support that they need to make these changes. More importantly, they often lack the understanding of how to create small steps each week that will bring about the big results.

That’s why you can see people going all out for one week with healthy habits, and then dropping them as quickly as they started and falling back into old behaviors: fried chicken, excess alcohol, Netflix binging, smoking, junk food, etc. 

Group Two: Those who are constantly trying to be healthier and healthier.

Now group two is on the other side of the spectrum. These people are on a quest for perfect health! These people try to eat healthier, and healthier, and healthier, and healthier, and healthier!

I’m sure you know some of these people too:

  • The give up dairy, gluten, and soy
  • They might not drink
  • They swore off sugar and caffeine
  • They make smoothies and juices every morning
  • The go vegan
  • They take supplements
  • They constantly know random food facts
  • They buy organic
  • They only drink alternative milk

These people are going to die in perfect health if it’s the last thing they do. (Do you see the issue there?)

While these people are ultra health-conscious, this behavior isn’t much better. There’s a point where people can get too strict about being healthy to the point where it ruins the fun. Our food is incorporated so much into our primary foods like relationships, home environment, and joy, that it often holds people back by making their life less satisfying when they’re overly strict and concerned about diet.

This is why in recent years there’s been an entirely new eating disorder that came to light called orthorexia nervosa, which is characterized by an excessive preoccupation with eating healthy food.

Now, not everyone from group two is orthorexic! But, the point is that some people eat very healthy and are miserable. This way of thinking completely ignores the entire reason for being healthy in the first place. To think that there’s a correlation between perfect health and being happy is missing the entire point of why we take care of our physical body.

The goal isn’t to get perfectly healthy. You’re not suddenly going to be greeted by the Gods of Health as you’re making your smoothie in the morning to tell you that you’ve done everything right and you’re now part of a group of the elite, ultra-healthy people on the planet. Nor is life going to get better because you decided to be stricter with yourself by giving up sugar or gluten.

The Truth About Health

Not everyone falls into two specific groups like this, but many people do exist in these two groups – one of them ignoring their health and the other one being overly concerned about it. Neither one of these lifestyles is good for us. You can’t boycott healthy behavior because it seems difficult as much as you can’t swing the other way and let leading a “healthy” life control you. Both behaviors are UN-healthy.

Even if you’re at the 86th percentile of health, that’s wonderful! Work out several days a week and eat well 80% of the time, and you’re doing fantastic. Pat yourself on the back, because you’re doing a great job.

Health is extremely important but it’s not the end goal. Health a vehicle to everything else in life that you want: better relationships, financial freedom, happy memories, plenty of travel, a fulfilling career, and more. Health is what helps you get to all of those other places, it’s NOT the destination.

If you’re extremely sick and unhealthy if affects every single aspect of your life and puts a strain on you. If you’re overly strict about your diet, then it takes fun, joy, and spontaneity out of other areas of your life. However, if you’re in good health, it affects all of the other aspects of your life for the better!

You feel better, you look better, you can be more productive, you can have a fulfilling life, and you can feel well enough to work on your bucket list.

Think about it like this: Every day you get in your car and you drive to work, to the store, to coffee dates, to your chiropractor, etc. You’re in and out of your car all day long getting to your destination. And while you’re in your car, you don’t even think about your car! You’re thinking about other things, or where you’re going, or the rest of your day. Your mind is completely freed up while your vehicle effortlessly takes you to your destination.

Now, what if instead of your car effortlessly getting you to your destination, your tire popped or your engine wouldn’t start? What then?

You would be stuck! You wouldn’t be able to do anything that you set out to do that day, and all of your energy would be put toward dealing with your car so that you can get back to your intentions. 

Our health is just like that. Everything we do in life we do because our physical body is healthy, allowing us the freedom to do what we want. Once our health is taken away, we can’t do anything. We need our health for strength to get us to our true destinations.

By viewing our health as a vehicle to greater things in life, these two groups of people that millions of us exist in, can finally thrive and find a happy medium. They can learn to take care of their health–mentally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually–to achieve their goals and find their happiness.

Creating a Grassroots Movement 

However, this type of mentality is going to take a while to change, because as we all know, it’s going to come from doctors, or our government, or the food industry. It has to come from all of us, working together to better ourselves and supporting each other to do so.

No one is going to come to save us and force us to engage in healthy behavior. On top of that, we have companies making billions of dollars off of us being sick. One of my favorite quotes is by Wendell Berry and it illustrates this point perfectly:

“People are fed by the food industry, which pays no attention to health, and are treated by the health industry, which pays no attention to food.”

SO, we have to work together to make sure that we are taking the steps needed to live a happy and healthy life. Whether that’s by finally paying attention to our health OR by relaxing and not being overly strict with ourselves. 

How do we do this? By creating support, accountability, and motivation for each other.

Because not only do we have all of these additional challenges as I mentioned before, BUT health is often something that people have to deal with all on their own. Have you noticed that when you have a health concern, no one talks to you about it? No one monitors you or asks you how your health is, or if you’re ok, or if you need help. No one calls you up and asks you what your wellness goals are and supports you in that transition. No one checks in with you after making a new year’s resolution to see how you’re doing getting back to the gym or cutting out junk food.

That’s the problem! Health is such a private issue that we don’t talk about it and don’t receive any help with it. Yet we ALL struggle with it one way or another!

This needs to be changed above anything. We all need to find someone to talk to about our health concerns and keep us accountable to engage in healthy behavior. We shouldn’t be working at it completely alone. We’ve been doing that for years, and it hasn’t helped!

By doing this (one relationship at a time), it will create a grassroots movement around the world and slowly change the way we look at health and our entire food industry and health care system. It has the potential to change the world and put a stop to this global health crisis that we’re in. But only if enough of us do it.

How do we create a grassroots movement?

We can create this grassroots movement together, simply by connecting and making our health a priority together. Here’s how:

1. Health and Accountability Coaching

The first thing that I recommend is working with a holistic health and accountability coach like me.

It’s incredible how having one person there as your cheerleader and accountability buddy gives you the push to finally make the changes you’ve been talking about for so long. Because while many people know what they should be doing for their health and wellbeing, they are often overwhelmed by the amount of change they need to create in their lives and need assistance and accountability in implementing small lifestyle changes (one at a time) – that’s where I come in.

As a holistic health coach, I take a full-body approach to health and wellness. I understand that every single aspect of our lives nurtures us, from the food on our plates, to our finances and relationships, to the amount of joy we have in our lives. If even one aspect of our lives is out of whack, we’re off balance and unable to be our best selves. 

I provide that one-on-one connection, support, and encouragement that you need in meeting your personal wellness goals. I also guide you on how to gradually implement new habits so that they are sustainable. 

BOOK A FREE CONSULTATION WITH ME.

2. Accountability buddies 

The second way we can create a grassroots movement and improve health globally by working with an accountability buddy. As I mentioned above, one of the major flaws in the way we look at health is that it’s viewed as a private issue and that people are left to struggle with their health goals and alignments without any help. Eventually, they have no choice but to turn to doctors who only prescribe pills, ignore the root cause of the health concern, and look at the human body as separate parts.

A holistic health coach does help with this tremendously. Honestly, having a coach in any aspect of your life is highly beneficial. However, it’s important to have other people in your life act as your cheerleaders, support system and accountability buddies too. Because we shouldn’t always have to always pay for support, right? We want to create several personal relationships that fulfill us and push us to be better.

The more you can expand your network with health-minded people who want to help each other, the better you will feel and the faster you will see improvements in your life. For example, I have my own health coach, but I also have an accountability buddy for my nutrition school homework who is also an herbalist and DoTerra advocate. We help each other with school and she’s helping me heal my leaky gut. 

But this doesn’t just go for health too, it’s the same for every single aspect of our lives. For example, I have a business coach who has helped me in so many ways. On top of that, I’m also in a business-centered book club and support group with other young, female entrepreneurs. I also have a friend who is my business accountability buddy! We now call each other every morning, Monday-Friday at 9 a.m. to share what our intentions and affirmations are for the day. Additionally, I now attend networking events around my area.

If we really want to improve ourselves and our communities, we can’t do it alone. Period. We must expand our network as much as possible and find people that we trust to provide us that one-on-one support and accountability. Talking with several people about your health is going to be much more helpful.

3. Support groups 

The next way we can change our mindset about health and create this grassroots movement is by setting up or attending support groups as I mentioned in the last point. It doesn’t matter what your health goals or concerns are, there’s a support group for that! If you’re struggling with a health concern, there’s a conference about it, a Facebook page about it, or a support group for it! And if you’re looking to improve your health in any way, there are tons of groups for it. It doesn’t matter if you’re looking to lose weight, train for a marathon, quit drinking, practice yoga, etc. – There is a group for that!

A half an hour spent searching through all the Facebook groups in St. Petersburg, Fla., and I found several group dinners that people hold, vegan potlucks, running groups, and yoga meetups. Another half an hour scan on Eventbrite and I found tons of spiritual events, special interest and hobby groups, health and wellness-based workshops and more.

This is where you will find that support that you’re looking for, and by the way, they won’t always be labeled as “support groups.” The support group I’m in is called a “book club,” and honestly we hardly ever bring up the book! We spend the entire time venting, brainstorming, and helping each other.

Get out of your comfort zone and attend groups like this in your area, because that’s where you’re going to connect with people who have similar interests as you and form those strong bonds with each other. And if you can’t find one, make one.

Recently, I found myself being bummed out that I didn’t have people to talk about the Law of Attraction with and it’s such a big part of my life. I wished I could sit down and talk about it in-depth, but where the hell do you find a group that meets up and spends hours talking about manifestation? So, I made one. I made an event that’s being held in January called the Manifestation Meetup, and I plan on holding it once a month in the new year to bring people together who are interested in this topic. 

4. Wellness events 

The last piece of advice that I believe we can use to change our mindset about health and improve this global health crisis is by putting on and attending wellness events. This one is similar to the support groups, but not as intimate. This is on a larger scale.

By creating and attending large wellness events we can raise consciousness and spread the message of holistic health and balanced living on a larger scale. And possibly, spread this message with people wouldn’t typically hear about it.

What better way to create a grassroots movement than by getting thousands of people together to talk about holistic health and wellness, share stories, share products, and exchange information? 

Thanks for Coming to Lost Online!

I hope you enjoyed this week’s blog post about how health is a vehicle, not a destination and how we can create a grassroots movement to change our individual health, and understanding of health and wellness on a larger scale. 

These steps I shared with you will help all of us to vocalize our health concerns, our stumbling blocks, and wellness goals. And that freedom to finally talk to people openly about our health is what’s going to create that accountability and support needed to make lifestyle changes for real

I encourage you to get out of your bubble (starting right now, in this new year and new decade) and understand that you do not have to be alone when it comes to your health and wellness journey. 

DON’T stay stuck in those two groups I talked about! Set up a free health history consultation with me to talk about your goals and concerns, seek out accountability buddies, and attend local groups or wellness events to expand your network and find people who will push to be better.

BOOK A FREE CONSULTATION WITH ME.

As always, let me know what you think in the comments! Do you fall into group one or group two when it comes to your lifestyle behaviors? Why do you think that is? Have you viewed health as a destination up until this point? Do you agree that health is a vehicle? How else can we create a grassroots movement to change our behavior and misunderstandings about health?

If you like what you read here, remember to go down to the bottom of the page, click that “+” symbol, and type in your email where it says “follow blog via email.” You’ll have all future blog posts sent right to you! Thanks for coming to Lost Online!

Photos by Ray Reyes @rocketsciencephoto.

Why Your Resolutions Haven’t Worked… Until Now + My New Year’s Resolution! I Dub 2020 “The Year of Fun”

Health & Wellness, Lifestyle, Self-Help

It’s that time of year again!

2019 flew by and now it’s 2020! And I can’t freaking wait! In my opinion, New Year’s is the most wonderful time of year, not Christmas. If you’re a self-improvement junkie like me, then you might feel the same way too.

I’m super obsessed with self-improvement and I’m a very introspective person. In a past life, I bet I was a philosopher or a therapist or something along those lines. So I live for this time of year when the whole country is in that frame of mind too! I love the reflection of the past year, the goal setting, the discussions about resolutions, the vision board creation, the crisp pages of a brand new planner. Ugh, I’m such a dork. (Oh well. We’ve already established that by now.)

Anyways, I LOVE New Year’s. And I love that this is a time where YOU are also in that frame of mind that I’m in 365 days a year! Right now, you’re thinking about your own goals and resolutions, you’re reflecting on you the past year, and you’re visualizing the person you want to become in 2020. Oh, how that makes me smile!

BUT, even though those goals and the promise of a fresh start are in the front of your mind, there’s that pesky little doubt in your mind that keeps floating around to irritate you just when you’re really starting to have a good time. Like a gnat that keeps flying around your face. You know that one I’m talking about:

“New Year’s resolutions NEVER work.”

Well, to be perfectly honest (and it pains me to say this) most of them don’t. Most resolutions are lucky to make it until February, let alone stick until the end of the year or turn into a healthy habit you keep going throughout your life! BUT that’s not the resolutions fault!!!

What I’m noticing in my conversations with people about resolutions is very sad for a personal coach and self-help writer like myself. I’m noticing that almost everyone I talk to tells me that they are NOT setting a resolution this year because “New Year’s resolutions NEVER work.”

Yes, your resolution may have fizzled out before, but that doesn’t mean we should STOP trying to better ourselves guys!!! 

Come on here!

You’re telling me that you’re not even going to try to lose that extra weight because you couldn’t last year?! You’re not going to try to read one book because you didn’t finish a book in 2019?! You’re telling me that you’re not going to ease up on drinking because you were unsuccessful before?! You’re saying that you’re not even going to attempt to give up smoking because it hasn’t worked previously?!

That automatic willingness and contentment people have with giving up on themselves makes my entire being CRINGE. 

If you only take one piece of advice from my entire blog, I want it to be this: Don’t give up on bettering yourself. EVER. And especially don’t give up on yourself because a prior resolution didn’t work for you.

It’s not that resolutions don’t work or are impossible to follow through! They didn’t work because you didn’t have the TOOLS that you needed to be successful. You walked into the New Year WITHOUT any action steps, or a plan, or accountability and you woke up on the other side of the New Year with a hangover and relied solely on limited motivation and willpower to take the next 365 days by storm.

So if this is you, every 1st of the year, deciding that “New Year’s resolutions NEVER work,” this post is going to help you get over that and understand how it IS possible to make them last. AND, if you’re someone sitting here super pumped to start your resolutions, then this post is also going to be great for you!

In this blog post, I will help you accomplish your resolutions FOR REAL. Here are the TOP 5 reasons why New Year’s resolutions fail AND 5 ways to help them STICK in 2020.

The Top 5 Problems with New Year’s Resolutions & Why They ALWAYS Fail

So now, let’s get to the good stuff. Why do resolutions always fail?! Well, I promise it’s not because they are doomed to fail and setting annual goals to improve your life is pointless. It’s because of these 5, very avoidable mistakes that WE make – the resolution doesn’t make it for us!

1. Many resolutions are WAY too big.

I have no idea how many people actually accomplish the resolutions they set out to do at the beginning of the year, but I’m pretty damn sure that it’s next to 0%. This is partially because of what I talked about in the blog post, “The Broken Window Theory & How to Create Massive Change in Your Life.”

In all of our excitement to improve ourselves and the high that we get from the possibility of a “fresh start” and becoming our fantasy selves, we try to do too much at once. When we do that, we set ourselves up for failure. We create sweeping declarations, announcements, and to-do lists of all the things we SAY we want to do, and then don’t actually do them. It’s like we psych ourselves out and eventually, we don’t get anything done. It’s actually one of the ways that I self-sabotage. I create massive lists and expectations for things that I have to do and set the bar so damn high that I’ve already made it difficult to accomplish those things before I have even started.

If you’ll remember, for 2019 I came up with over 20 New Year’s Resolutions. I’m pretty sure it was 24. How Vata of me! I got caught up in the excitement of a new year, a new job, a new city, and a new apartment! There were so many changes at the start of 2019 that I thought I would leave this year being a changed woman. That it was going to be my best year yet. And that by the end of these last 12 months, I would emerge a completely transformed person with a hefty list of tasks checked off. That didn’t happen. I bit off more than I could chew, and in the end, nothing got done.

That’s what many of us self-improvement junkies do. We list off every single life-long dream or every single aspect of our lives that we want to improve and expect ourselves to get it done by the first of the year! That’s mistake #1. So remember this as you’re writing down this year’s resolutions. (Note to self, Heather.)

2. They aren’t goals you’re ACTUALLY interested in doing.

You might be reading this bullet point thinking, “Of course I want to do these things! What do you mean I’m not interested in doing them?!”

But here’s the thing, many people (myself included) set goals for themselves that they have no real interest in doing. Why? Because there’s such a thing as your REAL SELF and your FANTASY SELF. Your real self is you. The real you and your real personality. The fantasy self is how you WISH you were. I’m not talking about the version of yourself you hope to become or your life-long goals. I’m talking about the things you wish you could alter about your personality or desires, but can’t.

For example, I’m an introvert but my fantasy self is an extrovert. I HATE cooking, but my fantasy self cooks all the time, meal preps, hosts Thanksgiving dinner, and throws parties with FABULOUS food that I made myself. My real self enjoys exercising alone at the gym but my fantasy self does CrossFit and competes in CrossFit competitions. The real me likes to go to yoga sometimes, the fantasy me is an actual yogi who can do every single ridiculous yoga pose known to man. See what I mean? I don’t actually want to do those things and those things about me are not going to change.

In past years, I have made resolutions that are representative of my fantasy self, but I have absolutely NO DESIRE to make those things happen. I love the IDEA of them, but I don’t actually want to do it. By letting your fantasy self creep into your resolutions, you can guarantee they are going to fail. 

3. Resolutions are often way too vague.

Another pattern I see over and over again, is people saying “I want to lose weight,” “I want to get in shape,” “I want to eat better,” “I want to do yoga more,” or “I want to focus on my business.” Those are great things to want for yourself, but if that’s the final copy of your New Year’s resolution…again it’s not going to work.

What does “I want to lose weight” mean? What does “I want to do more yoga” mean? By saying you want to do something MORE, I can say for certain that you’re not going to end up following through. In order to create resolutions that stick, you have you to make them specific. How much weight do you want to lose? How often do you want to practice yoga? What does “being in shape” look like to you? HOW are you going to focus on your business? What will that look like?

Otherwise, you’ll be walking into the new year without even understanding how you will accomplish your resolution and fit it into your life. You’re just banking on the fact that you’ll probably be motivated in the new year to follow through and be motivated all of the sudden.

4. Some resolutions can make you feel bad about yourself.

Another mistake that people make when they set resolutions for themselves is that they create a resolution that makes them feel terrible about themselves and remind themselves of their “flaws.”

Sometimes we unknowingly create resolutions that remind us of what we hate about ourselves RATHER than what we can realistically improve upon and creating goals that excite us. When you create a resolution like this, you are automatically going into 2020 thinking horrible thoughts about yourself and feeling crappy just for being YOU.

Here’s a perfect example: When I was in high school, “thigh gaps” were all the rage. Every magazine I read and every photo I saw with a beautiful girl in it, had a very distinct “thigh gap.” The thigh gap was SEXY, and I did not have one. I wasn’t the only one who felt bad about this though. I even watched TV specials where women were getting “lunchtime lipo” – a quick 20-minute liposuction procedure on the inner thigh to make your thighs look skinnier. So one of my New Year’s resolutions, back when I was in high school, was to shrink my thighs. If I remember correctly, I was trying to get 2 inches off of each one. It was incredibly unhealthy.

I SHOULD have focused on my health and cared about building a strong, healthy, happy body. But instead, I went into the year with a measuring tape and a horrible inner monologue about my body. I never did work out consistently, I never focused on my diet, I never established other healthy routines. All I did was think about how disgusted I was with this part of my body and how it didn’t match what the media was telling me I was supposed to look like.

People do this A LOT with weight loss resolutions. They focus on “losing 30 pounds”, “40 pounds,” “50 pounds,” rather than getting STRONGER, healthier, more flexible, and more confident. But those things are what you should be focusing on. When you say “My New Year’s resolution is to have a six-pack,” how do you think that’s going to go for you? Poorly. It’s not going to happen because you’re going to be focusing on how much you hate your body now and want it to change it. You’re starting the new year with nothing but bad intentions and gnarly self-talk that is going to be VERY hard to overcome.

Point being, there’s a fine line between a resolution that will HELP you and a resolution that will make you feel shitty about yourself.

5. We don’t have help OR a plan

The last reason why New Year’s resolutions often don’t succeed is that we don’t have help or establish a plan. Many of us say that we want to accomplish something without figuring out HOW we will get there. For example, let’s say that your resolution is to get in shape. If you don’t get a gym membership, don’t figure out healthy recipes you can make at home, don’t have an accountability partner or health coach, don’t have running shoes, and don’t know what to do to workout do you think you could do it? Nope. You’re going to stick with your same habits and routine.

I was just talking with someone who told me that her resolution was to lose weight and get in shape. To which I responded, “How do you plan on doing that?” “I don’t know,” she said. Let me tell you, “I don’t know,” is not going to keep you on track for the next 365 days. 

I see this again and again with people who create any resolution, but especially health resolutions. It’s simple, if you don’t have a PLAN to make that resolution happen, you will NOT do it. Without a plan, you’re just hoping a surge of inspiration and motivation will SLAP you across the face every morning. You’re hoping that you’ll have enough willpower to avoid the fried chicken or donuts or red wine. You’re hoping that you’ll FEEL like going to the gym. You’re hoping that you will WANT to do yoga every day. You’re hoping that you will be IN THE MOOD to mediate and read each night instead of watching Netflix. But you won’t. I promise. Without a plan, it’s all just talk.

Additionally, without help, it’s all just talk. Because even if you create a plan for yourself and figure out HOW you’re going to follow through with these things this year, you will need SUPPORT. Every single person has shitty days and needs encouragement; every single person needs someone to talk to and bounce ideas off of; every single person needs community and positive relationships. The reason why so many resolutions fail is not that resolutions are doomed. It’s because people don’t have a plan to make them happen or someone to keep them accountable and support them.

How to Set Reasonable & Accomplishable Resolutions 

So now that we’ve talked about the top 5 mistakes that people make when creating their New Year’s resolutions, let’s get you past them! I put together a list of 5 tips that you can use to help you set reasonable and accomplishable resolutions in 2020. If you take these 5 pieces of advice, you’re in a MUCH better position to make your goals a reality this year. This is how you set yourself up for success:

STEP 1: Reflect on the last year 

Now before you get excited and frantically write down your goals for the new year, it’s extremely important to reflect on the previous year. It doesn’t make sense to jump ahead to the next year without taking a moment to reflect on the last 365 days FIRST. You spent so much time and effort thinking about 2019, setting goals, visualizing the new year, it doesn’t make sense to move on right away and pretend like it didn’t happen. A LOT happened last year in your life and I think it’s super important to honor that and take AT LEAST an hour to reflect on how that year was for you. A whole year went by! There were so many accomplishments, pitfalls, travels, memories, relationships. There was so much growth, so much progress, so much heartache, so much drama, so much love, so much happiness that happened in that entire year! Take the time to sit down and really reflect on how 2019 went for you. Honor the last YEAR of your life! How was it? Did it go well? Were you happy? Did you do what you wanted to do? Were you your best self? Were you NICE to people?

And trust me, if you’re REALLY NOT wanting to reflect on the last year, it means that you REALLY DO have to reflect on the last year. Even if 2019 was kind of a nightmare, it’s important that you take the time to think about it. Don’t pretend like that year of your life didn’t exist.

Example: My Journaling Tradition

My new tradition each year is to sit down and journal about the previous year. I answer several different journal prompts that get me thinking about the year that I just had, what I learned from it, and what I want to take into the next year. These New Year’s reflections were published on my blog, so feel free to go back and read them to get inspiration for what prompts you want to answer too. It’s a super easy and fun tradition AND you can do it with other people which I love! Last year Matt and I went to a New Year’s Reflections Meetup and did these prompts together which we both really enjoyed. Check out those previous blogs to get some ideas and see if some of the prompts resonate with you. If you need any additional New Years’ prompts, Pinterest is filled with them!

Reflecting on 2019: 13 Journal Prompts & My Answers

Reflecting on 2018: 13 Journal Prompts & My Answers

STEP 2: Pick a theme or a word for the year

The next step is to choose a theme, word, or phrase for the coming year. Or maybe 1-3 words if you’re really feeling inspired. Many people actually prefer choosing a word or a theme more than resolutions because it’s not as intimidating. A lot of times, one word is much easier to stick to than a list because it’s easy to remember AND it allows you to be flexible with your “resolution.”

As long as you remind yourself of that word or theme, you’ll be far more likely to stick to it. Choosing a word for the year has the same benefits as choosing an affirmation or intention for the day. It’s an extra measure that will help you to create a single-pointed focus. This word or words helps you guide the decisions and choices you make and how you spend your time. It also keeps you motivated and prevents you from getting distracted by whatever comes up by making sure that what how you’re spending your time is in alignment.

I recommend putting this word around your house, on your corkboard, in your planner, on your phone, or in decorations. Having a single word or phrase AND having a visual reminder of it will help you to remember it, stay inspired, and stay on track. Some examples of words, phrases, or themes that people choose for the New Year are conscious, family, intentional, slow down, thoughtful, deliberate, create, meditate, celebrate, listen, progress, possibility, today, consistency, or gratitude. 

If you still want to create goals and resolutions like me, you can then use this word or theme to create goals that align with it. This step will further set you up for success.

Example: My New Year’s Theme? To Have Fun!

This year, I’ve decided my theme for 2020 will be the year of fun. Well, not just the year of fun. I’ve decided that it would be the year of fun, financial abundance, and professional growth.

I was so focused on professional growth and stressing out about money last year that I didn’t have any fun at all. I was deeply terrified of failure and stuck in my limiting beliefs that I didn’t think AT ALL about relaxing and having fun. I was in a constant state of stress because all I cared about or could think about was, “What if I don’t make it?”

I poured every ounce of my emotion and mental energy into my blog and the worries that I had about it that I made myself miserable. But recently I had an epiphany…

Yes, I still want to be a personal coach, an author, a blogger, and podcaster – BUT I don’t want those things at the expense of my own happiness.

So yes, as a young woman starting a business for the first time ever, I am still going to make professional growth and finances a priority, BUT I will make sure that I have fun doing it. I’m not going to throw away 365 days of being happy to publish some ebooks, take on clients, and starting a podcast.

Accomplishing my goals and dreams means nothing if I’m making myself feel like crap to do it.

The second reason why I dub this the year of fun is because 2019 was a very hard year for me. Like I talked about in my blog post “Announcement: I’m Seeing a Therapist + How I Discovered I Had Depression & Why I’m Thankful For It,” a lot happened that weighed on my mind and made me extremely unhappy.

I was very depressed in 2019 and went through a series of ruts that lasted far longer than any I’ve ever experienced. I also spent most of the year working from home on my blog and leading a very isolated life. Luckily, I am now on the OTHER SIDE! I have a coach, I have a community, I have a home office, I have events and meetups that get me out of the house, and I’m MUCH happier than I have been in years. But 2019 was still very emotional and very sad for me and I want to make up for all that. For this reason, I dub 2020 the year of FUN!

I’m going to make this year as fun and exciting as possible. I’m making it a point to fill this year with fun and happiness as much as I possibly can. To go to concerts, to try new things, to get out of town for the weekend, to attend networking events, and to have date nights (that aren’t just going out to the same taco shop we’ve gone to 101 times). To truly make an effort to focus on my own happiness and not let it take a back seat to my goals.

STEP 3: Write out your goals and action plans 

After coming up with a theme, write down your specific goals for the year AND your action plan. The biggest mistake that we make over and over is setting a goal for ourselves WITHOUT any planning or preparation whatsoever. But changing the automatic habits that you’ve had for YEARS is not going to work if you just say “I want to lose 50 pounds” without figuring out the HOW of it all.

Figuring out how is what makes the difference between a dreamer and a DO-ER.

For example, I can think of a few people who have told me over and over again, “I want to do a triathlon.” They don’t have the equipment, they don’t have a bike, they don’t have a training schedule, they don’t ever sign up for one. So guess what? It never happens. A dream is just that – a dream. A dream with a PLAN is a goal. (An achievable goal for that matter.)

So as you’re writing down you’re resolutions this year, write down the ACTION PLANS too. How are you going to do that thing you want to do? Do you want to get in shape? Write down at least 6 action plans right now. Make sure they are things that you can actually commit to. Do this with every single goal or resolution that you have, not just at the beginning of the year, but all year long. Make it a point to create your action plans and put them in writing. 

Example: My Action Plan – The Yes Man Month

So as you know, my resolution is to have fun WHILE focusing on finances and my new business. So how do I plan on doing this? 

To do this, I am having an entire “Yes Man Month” inspired by the movie “Yes Man” with Jim Carrey. In my Yes Man Month I will say yes to one thing each day that is going to put me WAY out of my comfort zone or something that I always SAY that I want to do, but DON’T.

I decided to make this my action plan this year because whenever I make myself go outside of my comfort zone, it brings me more satisfaction and happiness than anything in the world (well, aside from my blog and business).

Whenever I try something that I’ve never done before, I LOVE it. It stimulates my mind, it gives me something new to talk about, it teaches me something that I’ve never known before, and it helps me to meet people. It makes me happier than anything. Whenever I step outside of my comfort zone or finally do something that I fantasize about doing but never actually invest the time and energy into doing, I feel like a whole new person.

In this “Yes Man Month” I will be carefully crafting an entire month of activities for myself to do that are all designed to be something that I would NEVER do. Things that literally terrify me, make me uncomfortable, or just “aren’t my thing.” Of course, I’ll be documenting this experience and share it with you when it’s complete.

The next action plans that I have for making the resolution my reality include doing something fun with Matt every single week, taking more weekend trips, and attending one event, group or coffee date every week. I have a solid plan to incorporate my resolution into my life each week AND best of all, they are steps that are easy and I actually WANT to do. 

STEP 4: Make sure you actually want to do the things you say you do

Like I said previously when I was talking about why resolutions typically fail – one of the top reasons is because the resolutions we make are sometimes not what we want to or are willing to do. They are reflective of that fantasy self you have in your head that is perfect in every way, is motivated all the time, and does things your real self has no desire to do. So step number 4, before you commit to anything is to make sure that you really do want to do these things you say you do. Because if you feel any sort of dread towards one of your goals this year, you will not do them.

Now, I’m not talking about the fact that you may deeply desire to be healthy and in shape but you don’t feel like going to the gym one day. I’m talking about saying that your goal this year is to run a marathon when running makes every single ounce of your being want to drop dead. The real you hates running more than anything on the face of the earth but the fantasy self in your head – the imaginary person you wish you could be – runs marathons. Make absolutely sure that your fantasy self is NOT the one setting your goals and resolutions this year. Make sure that everything on that list is what you want to do, not something you think you should want to do.

Example: My 2020 Goals & Book List

Last year, I did not do a fabulous job at this. I hadn’t quite learned the difference between the real Heather and her personality and desires and the fantasy Heather. At the beginning of 2019, I was in a place where I was very focused on spirituality. I was in a tough place emotionally because I was constantly trying to decide if I was REALLY going to take a leap, quit my job, blog full-time, and start studying at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. So I really needed spirituality in my life to guide me and let me know that I was safe and it was all going to be ok.

Every single moment of content that I absorbed for several months was either about yoga, meditation, or new age spirituality. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m still obsessed with all those things. However, at this stage of my life, I was soaking up this content at an abnormal rate and started to really admire the yogi and the spiritual leaders that I listened to. So day by day, a new fantasy Heather has started to emerge and at the end of 2018, that version of me wrote my New Year’s resolutions. I wanted to do yoga every day; I wanted to be able to do a split and all of these other crazy difficult poses; I wanted to oil pull each day; I wanted to volunteer my time so that I could become more selfless; I wanted to practice acro-yoga every weekend and get CRAZY Instagram influencer level good at it. But then, everything changed. I got out of that stage of my life, quit my job, and went off on my own. Before I knew it, I didn’t need the constant spiritual content to keep me calm, and slowly that fantasy Heather disappeared, and I was left with a list of resolutions that the real me had no DESIRE to actually do. 

This year, the REAL Heather wrote my resolutions and my 2020 book list. My goals are only the things that the real me is dying to accomplish and already thinks about constantly. Things like writing ebooks, a physical book, creating a podcast, and launching my coaching business. Every goal I set and every book I said I wanted to read, I’m crazy excited to do. There’s nothing on there that I’m dreading. Take a look for yourself at my 2020 goals and book list. 

STEP 5: Establish accountability partners, coaches, and groups that will help you

The main flaw that I see in our society when it comes to the way we view health, self-improvement, and personal goals is that we think these are things that should be done in private. We are alone in our efforts to better ourselves. No one asks us about our personal goals, no one asks us how we’re doing accomplishing them, no one asks us how our health concerns are going, and we don’t ask them either. We set goals for ourselves but they’re always kept private. Wouldn’t it be “awkward” or “impolite” to talk about them?

Which means that when we want to meditate every day, journal every week, start a podcast, lose weight, write a book, lower cholesterol, run a 10k, quit sugar, build a piece of furniture, go vegan, build a tiny house, or anything else – no one is there to encourage us and keep us going. The only person we have to share our ups and downs with and keep us motivated and accountable is OURSELVES. But when we do that, the chances of success are chopped in half.

We are social creatures and we all need help, guidance, motivation, and inspiration from each other. So the last step before you can take this new year and new decade by storm is to not only figure out your goals and actions plans but to find PEOPLE to support you and act as your accountability partners. I’m not talking about “followers” or “online communities.” I’m talking about real, living breathing, in your face, with-an-actual-body people. People that you can open up to, cry to, or vent to. People that you can talk to about an aspect of your life that you deeply want to improve but are struggling with. This could be a friend, or someone you met at a networking event, or a group that meets regularly, or a personal coach like myself. Whatever it looks like, find someone who is working on the same thing as you and make them your accountability buddy.

Bonus tip: This usually works better if you’re not SUPER close to the person like a parent or spouse. Having someone who you’re close with but isn’t an immediate friend or family is going to have a much better outcome. By choosing someone you’re super close to, you might be less inclined to follow through because you don’t feel as if you have to follow through because they will “understand” if you don’t. But, everyone is different, so you may be one of the lucky few who can be successful with a parent or spouse. It doesn’t matter what this relationship looks like as long as it works for you and helps to keep you accountable.

Look back at your goals and your action plans and think about who would make a good accountability buddy for them. And if you honestly can’t think of anyone because your network is very small, then hire a coach or start networking in your area. I PROMISE you there are people just like you who have similar goals and are dying for support too.

Example: My Own Transformation

I know how powerful accountability partners are because none of my personal goals started to come to life until I hired a business coach and joined a business and self-improvement focused book club (which is so much fun it literally feels like a slumber party whenever we meet up). In the TWO MONTHS I’ve had these women in my life I started writing a book, planned an event, finally declared to the world that I am a health coach, creating marketing materials, started an ebook, finished a new page on my website, established my pricing for my coaching service programs, started pitching myself to brands, started doing reach outs, and more. I am living proof that this works! It’s only been two months and I’m astounded by the progress I’ve made just from having people to talk to, or ask for advice, or brainstorm with, or even just cheer me on. Now imagine what an entire 365 days of putting this into practice will turn into! Those projects I’ve started and the goals that I set for myself will be completed. And yours will too.

Remember, every single one of us needs help! Every single one of us needs support! Do not ever, under any circumstances, feel guilty or weak or ashamed that you need help in any aspect of your life. If you take this advice to heart and find your accountability partner (even if it’s someone you hire) you will be FAR more productive and successful in this New Year.

Thanks for coming to Lost Online!

As always, thank you so much for coming to Lost Online! I really hope that this blog post has convinced you that New Year’s resolutions CAN work. To have a successful New Year, all you have to understand are what top 5 mistakes to avoid when setting your goals and follow my 5 steps to creating reasonable and accomplishable resolutions. Becoming the most productive, successful, happy version of yourself is just around the corner if you go about your goal setting with thoughtfulness and intention.

Before you head out, let me know what you think in the comments! Are you someone who has historically take the perspective of “New Year’s resolutions NEVER work?” If so, was I able to make you more hopeful about them? OR are you someone who’s a self-improvement junkie who lives for goals and resolutions? Whichever group you’re in, what is your word or theme for the year? What are your resolutions or goals for 2020? What are your action steps? Are you 100% you’re willing and excited to do these things this year? And who are you’re accountability partners? I would LOVE to hear from you!

If you like what you read here, remember to go down to the bottom of the page, click that “+” symbol, and type in your email where it says “follow blog via email.” You’ll have all future blog posts sent right to you! Thanks for coming to Lost Online! 

Photo by Ray Reyes @rocketsciencephoto.

Announcement: We’re Homeowners!

Announcements, Lifestyle

I’ll Drink to That

Pop the freaking champagne because after 9 months of house hunting, it finally freaking happened!

On September 12, 2019 Matt and I officially closed on the most perfect house that we could have asked for. With this new change, a heavy weight has finally been lifted off our shoulders, because it’s been a LONG time getting to this point. 

Matt was adamant about us becoming homeowners since the moment we moved to St. Petersburg, Fla., and since then it’s been a huge area of stress that I was not anticipating immediately following graduation, leaving my parents house, looking for a job, and moving in with a significant other for the first time. Because of that, the whole house hunting endeavor was a constant hot button issue.

Now we’re finally settled into our new home and best of all, we can finally breathe. No more house hunting, no more discussions about it, no more stress in our home environment! I’m sure you know what I mean! If you’ve ever gone house hunting before it can feel like the ground is shaking underneath you. You don’t feel stable and at peace in your current home and you’re always going through this exhausting inner battle about whether you should or shouldn’t put an offer in, whether you should even buy a house, how much money you want to spend, and how much work you want to put in. It starts to consume you!

Sitting here now, in our home, I can finally celebrate the fact that we now have our FIRST HOME. (Which I guess makes us grown-ups or something??) On top of that, I can look back at the entire house buying experience and appreciate that it got us to where we are today: in our perfect little home, that checked every box on our list and more. 

From Headaches to Happiness

Now I hate to say this because I feel like I should have known this, but looking at houses and putting offers in is far more stressful than I would have expected! If you’re not familiar with St. Pete, all of the houses here were built between 1900 and 1950 which means “historic charm” surrounds us everywhere we look. BUT that historic charm comes with a huge price: termites, asbestos, odd floor plans, and costly renovations.

On top of that, St. Pete is a city that has completely turned around in the last 10-15 years. The line that I’ve heard more than anything else since moving here is: “Ten years ago, you wouldn’t ever stop in St. Pete.” What went from a city that was run down and plagued with crime has turned into one of the most popular and expensive areas to live around the greater Tampa Bay area. Today it’s filled with street art, kava bars, crystal shops, breweries, restaurants, bars, boutiques, cafes, and boho plant shops.

As you can imagine, it’s wonderful. BUT to be close to an area this popular, a two-bedroom/one-bath in DIRE need of renovations with ZERO closet or storage space, a dated floor plan, termites, and asbestos goes for around $300,000! Even then, most of the homes here go for ABOVE asking price!

On this rather unpleasant journey, Matt and I fell in love with “the one” FOUR SEPARATE TIMES! Four times we found the perfect, charming house that had everything we wanted only to discover heartbreaking news in the inspection. OR, we would end up having our offer (that MATCHED the asking price) denied! This area is so popular, that even with all of those problems in a house, sellers know they will be able to get above asking.

I’m not kidding when I say that I had completely given up hope of finding a home. But just like what always happens whenever you relax, let go of expectations and trust in the universe – it magically worked out.

After 9 months, 4 offers, and about 100 arguments, IT HAPPENED. We’re now the very happy homeowners of a gorgeous home in the city that we love so much. And the best part is, it’s termite- and asbestos-free!

Honey, We’re Home

Now all of the stress and all of the headaches have finally been replaced with excitement! Excitement over renovations, painting, decorating, landscaping, and best of all: getting a pup.

We can finally appreciate the fact that we have our first home and that all of the home rejection was really just REDIRECTION to bring us here.

To bring us the perfect starter house that meets all of our needs and fills us up. A home where I can write this post to you right now and concentrate because I don’t have to hear “Seinfield” playing in the background! A home where we can step outside, be in the sun, and hear the birds throughout the day. A home that’s surrounded by other young couples walking their dogs in the evening. A home that has a huge walk-in closet so Matt no longer has to fight for space. And a home we feel happy in.

Our Must-Haves

You know what’s interesting about house hunting? It’s so difficult and it takes so much time that you actually start to believe that your ideal home doesn’t even exist. That you will NEVER find what you’re looking for and that it’s impossible for you to find a home that’s perfect for you. Even though you’re surrounded by thousands and thousands of homes in your area, the entire house hunting process is enough to make even the most faithful and positive people become closed-minded. That’s exactly what happened to me.

Here were my absolutely must-haves for a home that I convinced myself was impossible to find…

  • A fenced-in yard for our future pup
  • A floor plan that makes sense and doesn’t have long, rectangular rooms
  • A completely renovated kitchen (I was so NOT about to do that myself)
  • A home office for me so that my kitchen counter doesn’t have to be my desk anymore
  • A front porch
  • A block house so we don’t have to worry about asbestos siding or termites
  • Laundry space (some houses we saw did not have a washer and dryer or any room to put them in)
  • Storage space (since most of the houses here were built in the 1910s, most of them don’t have the room and storage space for our lifestyle now)
  • A big enough closet for the both of us
  • And a safe neighborhood – I didn’t care to live in a neighborhood that is referred to as “up-and-coming.” I wanted to be in a neighborhood that I felt very safe comfortable in while walking a dog around by myself. Since many of the areas in St. Pete are still turning around, you’ll find beautiful, safe, charming streets, followed by a specific street that you have to be conscious to avoid.

You’ll notice that my list of “must-haves” was very reasonable. Sure there were still things that I wanted to have, but these were my absolutes and I wasn’t asking for a lot. I think most people would say they want to be in a safe neighborhood and have a floor plan that makes sense, but I was honestly starting to believe that it was impossible to find. That all those houses were snatched up leaving us with only one option: buy a run-down house and remodel the entire thing ourselves.

Added Bonuses:

Of course, the home DID exist and I’m writing to you from inside it right now. I realize how crazy it was thinking that there’s no way a home like this could be possible for us to find in St. Pete. Not only did we get every one of our must-haves, but we also got so much more!

  • A large walk-in closet with plenty of room for both of us. No more fighting over space!
  • A garage where we can store holiday decorations, our suitcases, and tools so that they’re not eating up our living space and indoor storage.
  • A wine fridge, which will be FULLY stocked with J. Lohr Chardonnay for whenever my mom comes to visit.
  • Lots of natural light that floods into the house in the morning.
  • A bar cart that the previous owner let us have which is now stocked and makes us feel super fancy. AND a narrow table in the kitchen she also gave to us that we use a coffee bar! Which means we have a designated space for coffee and drinks! Could there be anything more perfect than that?
  • A sliding barn door on the closet which looks super cool and sounds like a dungeon door every time we close and open it.
  • Dozens of blue jays that fly around our house and make me smile every time I look out the window. 
  • And a corner lot with lots of yard space!

What’s to Come?!

So, what’s to come now that we’re finally in our first home? Well, for starters, several house projects which we’re really looking forward to working on AND a lot of decorating! Since this is my first home, I’m so excited to make it my own and create space that makes me feel energized and happy. Here’s what’s to come!

  • A yard filled to capacity with greenery, wildflowers, and star jasmine
  • Full-on bohemian decorations and plants! I’ve been waiting for this day my whole life to turn a home into my own little boho paradise – carefully re-modeled after my Pinterest Boards.
  • A back patio with strobe lights hanging above the seating area and a fire pit to roast marshmallows.
  • Outdoor games since Matt and his best friend Pat have been very vocal that they need to be able to play backyard games.
  • An updated, completely remodeled bathroom that lucky for us, was miraculously completed by our contractor the day before we moved in! 
  • A dressing room style master closet with a large shoe rack, full-length mirror, and bench to sit down on.
  • A beautiful home office where I can have a designated spot to work on my blog and YouTube and have my future health coaching clients over!! I’m also planning on creating a small altar and meditation space so that I can have a spiritual practice without hearing “Seinfeld” or “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” playing in the background. (Sorry Matt, I love you.)
  • A custom garage door and new driveway (because for some reason one of the previous owners had sealed the garage door shut so you can’t get it open and an oak tree at the front of the property has done a tremendous job ripping up half the driveway!)
  • French doors that open out onto the patio so you don’t have to walk through the garage.

But of course, there’s so much more to come, now that we finally have a home and more than 600 square feet of space. The number one thing that we’re looking forward to is a puppy! I’m hoping that our puppy is just around the corner because I’m so beyond excited to be a dog mom. I’ve been waiting to be a dog mom my entire life! The breeds I’m the most in love with are Keeshonds, Pomskys, and Samoyeds. I’m obsessed with the fluff (:

And BEES! For those of you who don’t know, Matt has been wanting to become a beekeeper for years! I’m sure you can fully expect to hear more about our process of buying bees and learning how to make honey in the next year. I have a feeling it’s going to be a struggle but will be EXTREMELY entertaining. I’m picturing us walking around with smoke in our beekeeper outfits right now. Matt and I have even thought up the name for our future honey business that Matt blurted out to our friend Ray as a joke once, but we LOVE it. I’m not telling you what it is just yet!

Last but not least, getting married (: To all of our friends and family, I just want to say that YES we will get married someday and we will do that when we are ready! We’re already picking up on the not-so-subtle hints that people think we should get married since we have a house now. When we are ready to take that next step, it will happen!

I remember six months into dating Matt, I looked at him as we were leaving a Christmas concert one night and said, “I’m going to marry the sh*t out of you someday.” That has become one of the most memorable quotes and milestones in our relationship. We pretty much knew when we started dating that we were very committed to each other. 

For now, we would just really love to enjoy THIS milestone before jumping to the next one simply because people think that’s what we’re “supposed” to do. Moving and buying a house is already a big project and undertaking, you can bet that I’m not going to throw wedding planning into the mix just yet!

I’m Incredibly Grateful

I’m so incredibly grateful that we’re in this home right now. This is just another example of the Law of Attraction in my life. I can’t tell you how many hours I’ve spent dreaming and doing visitation mediations years ago about having a home in Florida. I can’t tell you how many times I scanned Pinterest staring at houses and decorations. And I can’t tell you how much time I spent thinking about the freedom and happiness it would bring me to have a HOME that I could share with someone. This is just another example of how powerful and real manifestation is.

It also goes to show that when you stop forcing something to happen that you want and finally RELAX and trust in the universe, it will happen! The only thing that you have to do is focus on what you want and it will come to you. But the HOW is the domain of the universe. Trying to force something is not going to work.

The second reason why I feel grateful is that we don’t have to pour ungodly amounts of money into renting anymore. Now we have a home that we can invest in instead of throwing money away. That only is worth celebrating!

Thanks for coming to Lost Online!

As always thank you for coming to Lost Online! I hope you enjoyed this peak into our first home! Once our home has come together a bit more, I’ll be sharing how we’re decorating our beautiful bohemian home, where the ideas came from, and where we found our favorite pieces! For now, we’ll be busy getting it all together!

A special shout out to that adorable fur baby, Luka June for deciding she wanted in on our celebration and photoshoot too! Luka is Ray’s dog and another member of a little “Beer Brigade,” as we call it. Ray, Matt, Luka and I spend weekends shooting for the blog, coming up with photo concepts and drinking craft beer! (Well, Luka doesn’t drink the beer). Together, the four of us make up the Beer Brigade!

Lastly, I just want to share that if you’re a Lost Online reader than you’re aware that I often make announcements on the blog like, “The Start of a New Chapter: Why I’m Studying to Become a Certified Health Coach” or “I’m Seeing a Therapist + How I Discovered I Had Depression & Why I’m Thankful For It.” I created this blog post because making announcements is something that I do regularly and because this is a HUGE milestone in my life. I want to enjoy this, I want to share it with my tribe, and I want to sit here and reflect on this milestone in my favorite way – through writing. 

It would make me so sad if there was someone reading who took this post thinking that I created it with the intention of bragging. I’m just over here doing what us bloggers do – writing about our experiences. I’m also sharing this with you because part of my purpose with my blog and coaching practice is to show people that the Law of Attraction is real and to inspire them to incorporate it into their own lives! It’s mind-blowing what manifestation can bring to you. I would LOVE it if my story could inspire you and help you transform your own life.

Before you head out, let me know what you think in the comments! Can you relate to my experience with house hunting? Did this blog post leave you with any thoughts or takeaways? Do you already have a house or are you still daydreaming about your future home someday? What do you want in your future home? Can you think of your own advice for first time home buyers? OR do you have a similar manifestation experience you’d like to share!

If you like what you read here, remember to go down to the bottom of the page, click that “+” symbol, and type in your email where it says “follow blog via email.” You’ll have all future blog posts sent right to you! Thanks for coming to Lost Online!

Photos by Ray Reyes @rocketsciencephoto.

The Broken Window Theory & How to Create Massive Change in Your Life

Self-Help

Can you believe that it’s already the end of summer? How freaking quickly is the year flying by? It seems like just yesterday I was writing down my New Year’s resolutions and determined to create a better me in 2019. Well, if you’re anything like me, then you’re probably nowhere near checking off those resolutions and wondering “Who the hell did I think I would be in 2019? Superwoman?”

I’m not the only one who’s made this mistake over and over, and it doesn’t just happen during the new year. We’re all interested in improving ourselves in some way, whether it’s getting in shape, learning a language, learning how to cook, deepening our yoga practice, reading more, etc. But in our good intentions and excitement from a sudden wave of inspiration, we try to do too much and we set ourselves up for failure. We want to change, but often try to create a drastic change in such a short period of time which inevitably only leaves us feeling guilty and disappointed.

This happens with both the bad habits we’re trying to break and the good ones that we want to adopt. A very popular example would be trying to quit smoking cold-turkey. We all know someone (or maybe we are that someone) who’s always “trying to quit.” Don’t worry, there’s no judgment from me!

One of my latest examples was that I wanted to start keeping my apartment cleaner so Matt would be happier to come home to a clean space and our home would look lovely all the time. I decided that each and every day I would have the dishes done, the laundry done, the counters spotless, fresh flowers in the kitchen, the floors vacuumed, the bed made, and the bathroom cleaned – 24/7. I decided this randomly one evening after a surge of inspiration to tidy up the house. Well, it’s now weeks later, and how beautiful do you think the apartment is looking right now? It’s NOT.

My clothes and piles of laundry are scattered all over the apartment, and there’s no sign of my resolution to keep the house clean. The clothes have taken over yet again. If I ever go missing, you just might find me trapped under a pile of clothes in our bedroom. 

As a self-help and self-improvement junkie, I understand more than anyone that desire to improve oneself and feel that sense of personal accomplishment when your goals are met, the house is cleaned, you’ve eaten healthy, and you’ve worked out that day. There’s nothing better than that feeling of being proud of yourself. But too often, we get so excited about that potential to create drastic change and become a better person, that we try to create massive change in our lives overnight. We try to lose 20 pounds immediately, we try to read five books in a month, or we try to go vegan in a weekend. But ultimately those changes don’t last. Changing one’s lifestyle and behaviors takes time and learning.

The Broken Window Theory

This blog post was inspired by a podcast by The Minimalists who I’ve referenced many times before. If you haven’t heard of The Minimalists, they’re best friends Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus who became popular after releasing their documentary “Minimalism” on Netflix. They’re authors, podcasters, filmmakers, and public speakers who spend their lives sharing how living with less helped them find happiness, freedom, and fulfillment that money and possessions can’t give us.

In one of their “Quickie” podcast episodes, called “How Small Changes Make Big Progress,”Joshua and Ryan discussed how small everyday changes in our lives helps us move toward sustainability because those radical changes just don’t stick. Radical changes are like crash diets – it’s not feasible to keep that going all the time. However, making small healthy changes, one meal or snack at a time is what gives people the results that they want. Over time, those small changes eventually start to multiply. 

In this podcast episode, Ryan talked about an example of this that he witnessed when he was visiting Tokyo. He noticed that the city was so immaculate and clean that whenever he would see a piece of trash on the ground, it motivated him to pick it up! The city looked so clean and perfect that he felt the need to keep it that way. I think that’s really saying something, because how often do we go out of our way to pick up trash when we’re walking around? 

Joshua gave his example that resonated with me so much that it was the part that inspired this post today. He shared that this phenomenon is often called “The Wildfire Theory,” but he thinks of it as “The Broken Window Theory.”

He explains how in the 1990s in New York City, people were trying to make the city nicer and over time the urban planners realized something interesting in their efforts to turn the city around. They noticed that if there was ever a broken window in one building and they FIXED it, other buildings nearby start fixing their broken windows too. However, the areas that they didn’t fix ended up getting more broken windows and eventually would attract graffiti and other vandalism. Of course, they also noticed that whenever there was a little bit of graffiti, this lead to MORE graffiti. This realization prompted urban planners to not only fix windows all over the city but to create a 24-hour graffiti removal service. All you had to do was call the hotline, and someone would be there to remove the graffiti within 24 hours!

I love this example that Joshua gives because it’s safe to say that the majority of us have noticed this with our own eyes, and I think that it’s much easier to grasp the broken window theory than to picturing a wildfire. The other reason why I love this example is that the same is true for our everyday lives. As Joshua says, “We all have our own broken windows.” They take the form of past traumas, household clutter, toxic relationships, financial stress, smoking cigarettes, unhealthy eating, and weight gain. They’re the things in life that we want so badly to fix, but we can’t. Why? Because that’s A LOT of freaking changes.

And the broken windows are often so subtle that we don’t notice them as the start of a much bigger issue. They show up as the pajamas we throw on the ground in the morning; the laundry that piles that we don’t put away; the “to-do” list that keeps growing; the appointments that have to be made; the dishes that stack up in the sink; the Oreos that we ate last night; the toxic emotions we’ve bottled up since childhood. We don’t make the effort to fix the problem soon enough, or maybe even notice it happening, so it creates more and more chaos.

Then when we decide to make a change, we try to take on too much at once. We try to turn over the entire city of New York in one week; we try to clean our entire apartment in one night; and we try to knock out a to-do list that’s been growing since we rang in the New Year. The reality is that these broken windows have to be fixed the same way they were created: gradually. 

The added challenge that we have to take into consideration is that those “broken windows” are years of habits that have become so ingrained in us that we don’t even realize that we’re doing it. It all becomes automatic. We get up in the morning and we throw our pajamas on the ground; we eat dinner and we leave the dish in the sink; we do laundry but we never put it away. So how on earth could we change all of those things at once? I don’t know this for sure, but I’m pretty sure it’s impossible.

How to Create Massive Change in Your Life?

Don’t worry, I’m not gonna leave you on THAT note – by saying it’s impossible, that nothing can be done. So I put together a list of seven ways that you can fix your broken windows in a way that’s gradual AND reasonable, and that have the potential to actually stick long-term. I recommend trying all of them and then picking the one that you find the easiest to incorporate in your life. 

1. Fix one broken window at a time

My first piece of advice is to fix one broken window at a time. If you want to get in shape and focus on your health, maybe don’t declare to the world that you’re going to do P90X every day for the next 90 days, give up all the foods that you love, and stop drinking. Side note: I saw someone do this before and he looked MISERABLE… and also went back to his bad habits once he was done. Just as quickly as he got a six-pack, he lost it. 

Instead make the decision to exercise for an hour 3-4 days a week, or to run a 5k, or get 10,000 steps in. Then, after you’ve made one change and adapted to it, make one dietary change every couple of weeks. Maybe give up that one thing you eat WAY too much of. I met a woman once who lost 25 pounds because she gave up Pepsi! PEPSI! That’s all she did!She didn’t throw in an entire exercise regime and dietary changes all at once. She worked on ONE broken window: her soda addiction. I met her after she had lost all that weight and she talked to me about what her next healthy change would be. She was in the process of trying to decide how she would incorporate exercise next.

So pick one “broken window” and do something that is actually going to work for you in your everyday life. Fixing that window will help you gradually fix the other windows, and in the end, it will last.

2. Set the bar low 

If you find yourself not being able to accomplish those big things you set out to do, set goals that are so ridiculously small, that it would be impossible to NOT do them. Set the bar extremely low! Don’t put pressure on yourself to quit smoking immediately, instead, say I’m not going to smoke after ___ pm. Or I’m not going to smoke more than ___ amount of cigarettes a day. Or I’m only going to get ___ packs a week. Set the bar low and give yourself a chance to adjust.

Here’s another example: You know how much it sucks to unpack after a trip? You know how you have to unpack that suitcase, but it sits there on the freaking floor for days, sometimes weeks, overflowing with clothes that you never want to put away? Ok, maybe it’s just me. I REALLY hate laundry in case you couldn’t tell. Whenever I catch myself doing this… which is anytime I go anywhere, I make the decision to put away ONE item in the suitcase every time I walk by it. Once I decide that I’m able to tackle the suitcase in no time, but if I tried to do it all at once, it wouldn’t happen. 

Set the bar so stupidly low, that you have no reason and no excuse to not follow through. If you want to accomplish something BIGGER, like a bigger goal or lifelong dream, not just unpacking a suitcase, plan out each of the steps that you’re going to be taking. Decide each low bar that you would have to set for yourself in order to finally actualize that dream. Decide to enroll in a course tomorrow, or research your target market, or write one page of your business plan, or finally register as a business, or write ONE page of your book. Write down each low bar you have to set for yourself and accomplishing the bigger things in life. It will make it far less scary, far more reasonable, and it will finally get you moving in the right direction.

3. Gretchen Rubin’s One Minute Rule

If it’s a matter of the little things accumulating and getting out of hand, try using a trick that I learned from happiness expert, author, blogger, and podcaster Gretchen Rubin. She came up with this “One Minute Rule” that’s become incredibly popular with her audience. The idea is that if you can do something in one minute or less, you should do it right away.

This trick helps to tackle countless broken windows throughout the day and prevent them from spiraling into a bigger issue. For example, a plate can be rinsed off and put in the dishwasher in about 5-10 seconds, so you should do it right away. It gets little tasks out of the way and keeps them from boiling up. For that reason, it takes you a few seconds to do something, rather than letting dozens of simple tasks get out of hand. At that point, it would take you an hour, or even several hours of running around trying to do so many things at once. We’ve all been there when we’re trying to clean up a room that we let get messier and messier for the last month, which means that we have to spend the next half a day cleaning to get everything done. It takes so much more time and energy to tackle all of it than it would to chip away one task at a time.

It’s a great trick to adopt as far cleaning and putting clothes away if you’re like me, but it could also be used in everyday life. Because I’m writing this post right now and was reminded of this rule, it finally prompted me to call someone back that I’ve been putting off for two days, even though I knew it would only take me 60 seconds. If you have to do anything that takes a minute or less, like write a quick email, then write the damn email! Otherwise, all it does is add to the collection of broken windows you have going and weigh on your mind. 

4. Set a power hour

This next tip is also one that I learned from Gretchen Rubin. (I really love her in case you couldn’t tell). The idea is that if you have a lot of tasks stacking up – maybe they take a minute or maybe they require a little bit more time and energy – you should set an hour aside each week to tackle them.

You know those tasks that aren’t necessarily hard or difficult, but it requires you to do a few steps, or make a couple of calls, or research something first, or dig through your filing cabinet, so you just keep not doing it? The thought of spending those next 10-15 minutes working on this random annoying task that you don’t want to have to do, keeps you procrastinating and not doing this thing for weeks. I do this to myself whenever I have to go looking for a new doctor. For example, when I decided that I wanted to see a therapist, it took me several weeks to finally start making calls and searching for someone because I knew I’d have to spend at least 20 minutes, researching places in the area, calling people, repeating my insurance information, setting up appointments, and then going to consultations with different therapists.

This task wasn’t hard, but it felt annoying and inconvenient. It took more time and mental energy than putting away some dirty dishes, so I continued to put it off. I’m sure you have some task like that you really don’t want to do! For things like these, it’s a good idea to select a day of the week and set aside one hour to power through these random tasks that you’ve been setting aside. It forces you to finally get it done and make some progress, and it finally eliminates that task that’s been weighing on you and making you unhappy and anxious.

5. Decide 1-3 things you want to focus on the next day

One way to tackle your broken windows, eliminate bad habits, or even accomplish larger goals, is to decide the night before what you will focus your energy on tomorrow. I like to incorporate this whenever I feel myself losing focus on my work and getting stressed out. Each night before bed, get out a notebook or a post-it note and reflect on what you would like to focus your energy on the next day. Remember to only pick one to three items.

I find that this works because otherwise, it’s easy to look at the mountain of tasks that you need to get done in order to be successful or reach a goal, and think to yourself, “Where the f*ck do I even start?” For example, sometimes my list looks something like: 1) Create welcome email 2) Edit new video 3) Start ____ post. Or 1) Publish post 2) Choose quotes for Pinterest graphics 3) Brainstorm ebook ideas. It’s a short list of goals that you know you can reasonably get done the next day and provide some direction and support so you stay on track.

You can use this trick with work, with getting in shape, or with breaking bad habits. It’s even been helpful for me in the areas of spirituality and self-improvement. If you’re trying to lose weight, your list might look something like: 1) Go to the gym for 20 minutes 2) Make dinner at home 3) No snacking after 9 pm. Or maybe 1) Look up ab workout ideas 2) Get some healthy snacks at the grocery store 3) No chips. The beauty of this list is that it varies every day, so you don’t make the same mistake of making a drastic decision or lifestyle changes at once. 

6. Say no

I felt the need to mention saying no on this list as well because too many people try to take on more than they can handle. Not only is it a way that we self-sabotage, but it’s also a reflection of our culture now. It’s a culture where we treat each other like computers that are meant to be productive, to perform, and to function all day long, rather than connect, love, and LIVE.

It’s a culture where high school students feel as if their self-worth is defined by how many AP classes they’re in and if we’re not making six figures, we’re not good enough. I believe that we won’t be able to create massive change in our lives and fix our broken windows unless we learn to first slow down and cut back. Otherwise, our physical and mental energy is drained, while more windows break in an effort to keep all the balls in the air. But here’s the thing, while we desperately need to learn to say no to other people, we especially need to learn to say no to OURSELVES.

We’re our own worst critic and nobody expects more from ourselves than we do. Which is when I get 10 new ideas for blog posts, I expect myself to be able to do all of them. When I have an idea for a video, an email, a graphic, a book, I think that every idea I have to say yes to in order to be the superhero version of myself I want to be. I do this with collabs, with my website, with challenges I make up for myself, and with classes and programs that I learn about. It’s the reason why Matt is always having to have an intervention with me at our kitchen counter and say, “You’re trying to do too much. You’re gonna stress yourself out. You can’t do it all.” While we may have thousands of epic and wonderful ideas, it’s impossible to say yes to all of them. By saying yes to every idea, you’re not even able to see one through completely. So learn to slow down, and say no. Say no to family members who demand too much from you, say no to friends who treat you more like an assistant than a friend, say no to coworkers that try to pass off their responsibilities onto you, and above all, say no to yourself. You can’t do it all. 

7. Remind yourself that it’s going to take time

Last but not least, when it comes to creating massive change in our lives, it’s important to remind yourself that it’s going to take time. I’m so guilty of this because I want everything done, perfect, and completed right away. I’ve very impatient when it comes to my progress and I have to remind myself of this almost daily. And I know I’m not the one human being in the world who does this to themselves. I see it in my friends and family too.

We put a lot of pressure on ourselves and create expectations that we would never expect from anyone else. And we expect that we should be able to get things done immediately. We go to one CrossFit class and immediately think we’re weak and bad at it because we can’t deadlift 200 lbs. Or we take one yoga class a year and get frustrated with ourselves because we can’t do a headstand right away. When it comes to ourselves, we think we should make progress far faster than is reasonable, which is why it’s so important to remind yourself that things take time. All you can do is to try your best, and eventually, you’ll get there. 

Thanks for coming to Lost Online!

I hope this post was helpful for you by highlighting the biggest pitfall that millions of us make every January – we expect to make a massive change in our lives overnight. When it comes to accomplishing lifelong goals, breaking bad habits, or creating healthy change in our lives, for some reason, we feel as if we should do it instantaneously. The problem is that many of us have our own little “broken windows” that have to be fixed before we can do that. Like sleeping in too late, eating unhealthy, holding ourselves back, or staying in toxic relationships. But if you take small steps, and make one change at the time, that effort begins to spread like wildfire.

As always, let me know what you think in the comments! Have you noticed that you’ve made this mistake before? Or maybe are making it right now? What are some examples where you’ve done this to yourself? Have you thought of any of your own broken windows? How do you think you could create massive changes by using some of these tips I mentioned? Do you have any other suggestions that you think might help people create massive change in their lives? Let me know in the comments!

If you like what you read here, remember to go down to the bottom of the page, click that”+” symbol, and type in your email where it says “follow blog via email.” You’ll have all future blog posts sent right to you! Thanks for coming to Lost Online!

Photos by Ray Reyes @rocketsciencephoto.

What’s in the Mail? Muscle MX + My New Favorite Products

Product Reviews, What's in the Mail?

Hello, and welcome to my brand new section of the website called “What’s In The Mail?”

If you’ve been a loyal reader and Instagram follower of mine, then you’re already very familiar with my boyfriend Matt, the emotional support behind Lost Online. He keeps me sane through all the ups and downs of building a successful blog from the ground up. But when he’s not giving me hugs, cuddles, and words of encouragement his REAL job is with IRONMAN Triathlon as an Account Executive of Expo Sales.

At every race, health and wellness brands that are interested in exhibiting their products to a large and active lifestyle audience pay to be a part of the IRONMAN Village Expo. Matt sells expo space for triathlons and marathons all across the country. While negotiating with these companies they sometimes offer to send him free samples of their product. 

Since Matt started working for IRONMAN he and I have been able to test out a wide variety of products that suddenly show up in our mailbox, from activewear laundry detergent to Keto bricks, to Chaga Mushroom shots, and EVERYTHING CBD – pills, creams, sprays, tinctures, you name it. Since we always seem to be trying out some new health and wellness-related product that we haven’t heard of before, he and I thought it would be fun to create mini-reviews on whatever happens to show up in the mail!

This is where Matt and I will showcase and review what we received and each of our thoughts on the product. This new section of the blog is a little bit different than the reviews that I typically do where I create a full blog post and take photos. I prefer to only create entire blog posts on products that I’m really obsessed with because of the amount of time, work, and energy that goes into creating a post.

“What’s in the Mail?” is going to be mini-reviews of products that we received and both of our thoughts on the products. I thought this could be interesting for you all to read since the majority of the time he and I have opposing opinions on the products. I hope you enjoy this new addition to the site and make sure to stay tuned to discover what could possibly be your new favorite health and wellness products.

I just want to throw it out there that we will NOT be trying to CONVINCE people to send us products or asking for products in exchange for a review. We’re simply reviewing the samples that have been given to us and providing our honest thoughts. We have such a good time experimenting with our new samples anyways that I thought why not share it with you all too! After all, we love trying them and the companies are hoping for word of mouth advertising and exposure anyways!

So what’s in our mailbox this week? Muscle MX CBD Balm

This new CBD product was made with the belief that no one should be constrained from leading a full and active life because of pain and discomfort and that the healing powers of cannabinoids and other all-natural ingredients exemplify an active lifestyle. By developing innovative ways for people to apply and utilize cannabis, the creators of Muscle MX believe that can help people improve their lives by living freely.

Before I get into my own review of this product, I’ll first share Matt’s (: He’s been in many photos of the blog before, but this time you get to read his own words! Next go around, we’ll make sure to get some of his love-able personality in the post for you. 

Matt’s Thoughts: 

Muscle MX CBD Balm is a product that I will definitely be using again. It has significantly helped with my neck and knee pain. The two different balms that were given to me were the extra strength heating and extra strength cooling.

The balms come in an easy to use “deodorant roller” cartridge that makes the application super easy and no mess and balm residue is left over on your hands. You just roll the bottom part clockwise to get more of the balm to show! This applicator is a nice feature. The balm does take a bit to kick in but once it does you can really feel the cooling/heating ingredients in the product. The only downside to the balm is that it sticks when put on under your clothes and it is not fast drying, so take that into account when using.

For the benefits of the balm, I have been using both and when my muscles ache or I have sore joints for exercising, I put this on and within about 15 minutes it significantly reduces the pain. I use both in conjunction with each other. The heating balm really helps to loosen up the muscles and joints and then followed up with the cooling, helps to relieve any pain that I have.

I would highly recommend this product to anyone who is highly active and works out 5-6 days a week. Great product for those people who do endurance esports and put a lot of wear and tear on the knees!

Heather’s Thoughts:

I like that I tried this product now, instead of a year ago, because luckily I now have a lot of products that I can compare this to in my mind. I have tried MANY different topical pain products because of Matt’s job, the wellness fairs we go to, and my own research and curiosity. I’ve been on the hunt for good pain relief products whether they include CBD in the ingredients or not. Matt and I are both active people and we both have knots in our necks and backs like you wouldn’t believe! For that reason, I’ve tried very similar items that don’t appear to have done anything special for me, but with this one, I can say that it does work and it’s fast-acting. Unlike many other things I’ve tried, it helps relieve the ache relatively fast.

My biggest problem area, as far as pain goes, is right in between my shoulder blades. That’s where I collect stubborn knots because they’re in a spot that’s so difficult to get to and loosen up without the help of a masseuse. However, after I applied this product, I noticed that the ache started to fade to the point where I had forgotten I was even in pain. I didn’t have to take a pill or have Matt massage the area, it just started to slowly feel better until I thought nothing of it. 

What I like about this product too, is that there’s an Activate Balm for heated relief and a Recovery Balm for cooling relief. I particularly like the Activate Balm for heated relief especially in the evenings before bed because I like the warming effect. The cool one I could see using right after a workout or maybe in the morning because it feels more refreshing. 

The one downside was I noticed with this product is that it was sticky. Whenever we use the product it tends to make the containers gross and sticky so you have to whip them off with a paper towel after. Even though it comes in a roll-on package like deodorant, there’s always some product that goes over the plastic when you apply it on yourself. Then when you put the cap back on it pushes the access product down the container. It’s the same problem you’ll notice when you apply chapstick or deodorant, but Muscle MX is pretty goopy and sticky, so it makes the package and your hands a little bit messy. It’s nothing that a paper towel can’t fix, but it is a bit inconvenient. This is also another reason I prefer to use it at night. I also recommend using this product when you’re wearing a t-shirt you don’t care about. However, the good thing is that the products came in a little black bag so we can store them without them getting anything else sticky.

I will say I wasn’t 100% blown away with these two products. My #1 go-to topical treatment for pain is still Deep Blue Essential Oil by doTERRA, BUT Muscle MX does work and is worth a try. I like to use it for dull aches and pains, but if I was in A LOT of pain I will still reach for ibuprofen or Deep Blue Essential Oil.

The other pro about these products is that they aren’t expensive. To get the bundle with both the Active and Recovery Balm like we have, it only cost $30. The price is very comparable to similar CBD products on the market. Overall, I think Muscle MX is worth a try, especially if you’re someone who is REALLY interested in CBD and trying out new CBD items. 

What I’m Loving Lately

At the end of these posts, I thought it would also be fun to share what products I’m loving right now. These are products that I use constantly or I’m very obsessed with, but I don’t have enough to say about each of them individually to warrant an entire blog post. Here’s what I’ve been loving as of late:

1. Body products from Neob Niagara.

Some of you probably already know that I recently took a very spontaneous trip up to Niagara Falls with my grandmother and my cousin, Devon. It was a quick trip up and back, but during our short weekend there it was wonderful. One of the highlights of my trip was going to Neob Niagara, which I found out about through Instagram. It’s a business that has lavender fields and other flowers and herbs that they grow on the property. They offer tours and lavender picking, and let you roam around the fields taking majestic pictures surrounded by lavender.

They also sell many different body products and essential oils that they create themselves. There’s everything from body sprays, soaps, lotions, shampoos and conditioners, cleaning products, and much more. I decided that while I was there I wanted to bring back some products especially since I’m fragrance-free and loved the idea of bringing back body products that were created from the very flowers I saw with my own eyes. Oddly enough, I came back with mostly rose scented products! Although, the company is most known for their “Glorious Lavender” I’m obsessed with their Rose Geranium products. There’s something so lovely and feminine about Rose, that it’s one of my favorite scents. I decided to try their Rose Geranium Body Spritz, Rose Geranium Whipped Butter, Rose Geranium Body Lotion, and Glorious Lavender Rosemary Shampoo

Since I’ve bought these products I’ve been using the body mist and lotions constantly. They feel so luxurious and smell better than any other fragrance-free lotion or product I’ve been using. Plus they feel particularly special having walked through those fields of flowers myself. And of course, they smell absolutely incredible! I use the hand cream morning and night, the body mist when I’m about to walk out the door into the hot Florida sun, and the lotion every night after my shower. My absolute favorite products is the Rose Spritz, because it’s like wearing a subtle perfume. It smells lovely, and it isn’t overwhelming. If you’re interested in trying them yourself, you can find the products on their website at neobniagara.com.

2. Rose Quartz Stone Bracelet

The next product that I’m absolutely loving is this gorgeous stone bracelet that I bought from a quaint little apothecary in the historical town of Niagara-on-the-Lake called Maison Apothecare. The stone is made from rose quartz beads, wooden beads, and one lava stone beads. I completely fell in love with the color of the bracelet the moment I saw it, and love it even more once I learned that you can put essential oils on the lava stone to make it even more special. I don’t know how much you would actually be able to smell it throughout the day, but I still loved the idea. I knew from the moment that I saw this bracelet it was perfect for me. It’s so beautiful and so feminine, I’ve been wearing it ever since. 

3. Brown, Beaded Indie Market Bracelet

The next product that I’ve been obsessed with lately, is a second stone bracelet that I bought in St. Pete at the Indie Market that happens every Thursday evening. The bracelet was created by Mystic Sisters and is a beautiful stone bracelet with gorgeous brown and nude coloring in it. The reason why I love it so much is because it flatters my skin tone perfectly. At first, I thought I was the only person who noticed that but since I bought this bracelet, I’ve gotten so many compliments on how pretty it is and how it flatters my skin tone. Several of those comments were actually from MEN!

I don’t know about you but I think that means a lot. How often do men compliment us on something like jewelry… especially a compliment that specific?! That’s how you know it’s a beautiful piece of jewelry when even men take the time to point it out! I’ve been in love with this bracelet since the moment I bought it that I’ve been wearing it almost every day. I especially love wearing it along with my rose quartz bracelet.

4. Maison Apothecare Facial Brightening Serum

Next, is another product from Maison Apothecare – their facial brightening serum! The serum is right up there with Mad Hippie Vitamin C Serum and the Iluma Brightening Serum in my opinion. It’s so luxurious and you can see the serum brightening up your skin the moment you start to apply it. It works so well and makes my skin so beautiful that I wish I could use it twice a day, however the directions say to only use the product at night time about 3-4 times a day. This is one product I’ll mostly likely re-order because you all know my obsession with serums at this point. I may have a bit of an unhealthy addiction to serums…

5. doTERRA Rose Touch

My next favorite product that I’ve been using each and every day is my new doTERRA Rose Touch roll-on essential oil. (I’m starting to notice a bit of a rose theme in this post today.) This essential oil quickly became one of my all-time favorite doTERRA products. This is the one essential oil that I don’t use for health, cleaning, or beauty purposes, but rather I use it as a perfume! It’s such a soft, subtle, and feminine scent, and I think it smells absolutely amazing. What I love about this product is that it’s rose essential oil, NOT rose-scented perfume, so it smells very flattering, but is also very natural. It doesn’t smell like you’re wearing perfume, it smells like you use a nice rose-scented soap.

I also love this product because it comes in a roll-on package, so it’s easy to apply just like a roll-on perfume. I started using this product daily, so now I keep it right on my jewelry dish and I put it on at the same time as my jewelry before I walk out of the door.

6. Autumn’s Aqua Acrylic Pour Painting

Last, but certainly, not least is a painting that was created by my sister, Autumn. She’s a painter, photographer, and a student at The Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD). Autumn, recently started to create these stunning, blue acrylic pour paintings! She sells them on her Etsy and started to promote her paintings on Instagram too. One day she created a few of these acrylic pours and shared them online and I loved this one the second I saw it.

I’m definitely not promoting this for the sake of my sister getting some eyes on her Etsy, I genuinely love this painting. If you don’t already know (even though my social media does a good job of giving it away) my absolute favorite colors are turquoise and blues and I’m obsessed with acrylic pour paintings. They’re so simple, yet so beautiful at the same time. I had my sister let me know the moment she uploaded it to Etsy and I bought the painting immediately. The only downside is that Matt and I are currently out of wall space for new artwork, so I’ve had it propped up against a wall so I can at least enjoy it! She creates a bunch of pieces similar to this one and even created a blue acrylic pour skateboard, which I believe is still available!

And that’s it for my favorite products at the moment and for “What’s in the Mail?”

I hope you all love this new addition to the blog! As always let me know what you think in the comments! Did you like this new addition to the website? Is there anything in particular you want us to review? Are you interested in seeing more of my favorite products?

If you like what you read here, remember to go down to the bottom of the page, click that”+” symbol, and type in your email where it says “follow blog via email.” You’ll have all future blog posts sent right to you! Thanks for coming to Lost Online! 

Photos by Ray Reyes @rocketsciencephoto.

My Holistic Approach to Treating Depression with Herbology & Self Love

Health & Wellness, Self-Help

I made an appointment. I filled out the forms. I was asked personal questions. The health professionals checked my pulse and tongue. By the end of my appointment, the herbalists all reached the same diagnosis: my heart was broken.

Seeing a Western Herbalist?

Years ago if you would have told me that whenever I got sick I would be seeking out the help of an herbalist over a doctor, I don’t think I would have believed you. But sometimes we surprise ourselves like that.

It all started several months back when I ended up getting really sick. I was suffering from tonsillitis that wouldn’t go away, chronic stomach aches every night that lasted hours, and what I thought was my fourth or fifth breast infection. So of course, I went to the doctor. And then another doctor, and then another doctor, and then another and another and another. I had so many appointments, but they always ended up going the same way. The doctor would shoo me out as fast as possible, give me a prescription, and say that they didn’t know what was wrong with me.

After experiencing that for many months in a row, I finally decided to change my methods. I decided to instead go to Traditions Herbal Clinic in St. Petersburg, Fla. I enjoyed my experience and their holistic approach at Traditions so much that when I started to experience depression, getting in for an appointment was my top priority. No way was I going to take random depression pills. Nope. I had already tried that once before when I was a teenager.

I am not at all saying that taking pills is wrong and I know that for some people it is extremely helpful, especially for those who suffer from clinical depression. But pills don’t work for me and I’ve found that they tend to only create weird side effects for me. Plus, being so involved in self-help, health, and wellness, seeing a traditional doctor and going on pills was not at all what I wanted to do. Instead, I was going to go to the Herbal Clinic and go about healthily treating depression by trying to heal from the inside out, not cover up the depression with a band-aid.

My Holistic Approach to Treating Depression

If you’ve never been to an herbal clinic before, it’s the exact opposite experience of seeing a traditional doctor. The approach at herbal clinics is to get to the root of the problem, rather than treat a symptom. The herbalist will sit with you for an hour or more discussing EVERYTHING from your mental health to digestion. They also use very traditional methods that have been used for centuries before we had people in lab coats with medical degrees throwing pills around like candy on Halloween. At the Traditions Herbal Clinic in St. Pete, they specifically use a mixture of Western and Chinese Herbalism. In each visit, they will examine your pulse in nine different places on each wrist to get an idea of how the organs are functioning, and they do a tongue examination. 

The way the appointment works when you go to the student clinic is you sit with them for about an hour and go over everything with them. They write down their thoughts and theories on what’s going on with your body, then one of the owners comes in to make sure it’s correct and to see if they have any other recommendations or additions. The owners include Dr. Bob Linde, AP, DOM, RH(AHG) and Renee Crozier, RH(AHG). (You could choose to see the owners themselves, however, it does cost more money.) I saw Allison for my appointment and then Renee who specializes in cancer care and traditional healing.

After you see both the student and the owner and discuss your health history, systems, diet, lifestyle, digestion, etc., they put together a very specific herbal formula for you and create a wellness plan. The formula and wellness plan that they put together have very specific recommendations that are supposed to help you to heal physically, spiritually, AND mentally. This is exactly the approach that I wanted to take to treating depression. I wanted to sit with someone who talked to me rather than shooed me out of the office and I wanted to be put on a holistic formula rather than with pharmaceutical drugs that only address a symptom. I also decided to begin regular therapy. Which, if you’re interested in hearing about that, make sure to read my last post, “I’m Seeing a Therapist + How I Discovered I Had Depression & Why I’m Thankful For It.”

My Appointment

Disclaimer: I just want to say that the people at Tradition’s Herbal Clinic are extremely knowledgeable in traditional healing and herbalism, so I know I’m not doing their hypothesis justice by trying to explain it myself. But I will try the best I can!

The day I went in for my appointment I filled out all the paperwork and health history information. After that, Allison took my paperwork with her to review for a few minutes and then we started. She asked me all sorts of questions related to what I wrote down, discussed my symptoms with me, checked my pulse and tongue, and even asked me very personal questions about my lifestyle and relationships. Renee then joined us about mid-way through the appointment. 

About an hour and fifteen minutes, both Renee and Allison had come to a conclusion that I’ve never heard before from any kind of doctor or health appointment I’ve had: they concluded that I was suffering from a broken heart.

They shared with me that just as we have PHYSICAL organs like the heart and the brain, we also have SPIRITUAL ones. We have a physical heart just as we have a spiritual heart and they’re both connected. Meaning that when we’re having problems in the body they can manifest as mental issues and vice versa.

In my case, they believed that I have a broken heart, and because of outside influences and comments that I had stored in my memory and internalized, I had also developed awful self-talk. All of this sadness and negativity was building up in my heart and my mind creating depression and symptoms in my physical body. They believed that if I didn’t get a hold on it and heal myself that those mental issues could later manifest in the body and create serious diseases as I age, such as coronary artery disease.

Herbalist Recommendations & Wellness Plan

To heal my body and my heart, Renee and Allison recommended I drink loose leaf tea twice a day that they made for me later that night. The tea is made from a mixture of eight different herbs including schizandra berry, tulsi, eose, hawthorn berry, hibiscus, and passion flower. They also wanted me to take a flower essence tincture three times a day by placing four drops of the essence under my tongue. Aside from their formula they would create for me, Renee and Allison wanted me to be taking Probiotics REGULARLY (not just when the mood strikes) as well as magnesium and vitamin D supplements.

Above all, they wanted me to work on my mindset, my self-talk, and learn to love myself. (Easier said than done, right?) Their suggestions for this were to get three different books that they felt could help me the most, but they wanted me to listen to audiobooks because I remember better when I hear something rather than read it. Two of the three audiobooks they recommended included, “The Four Agreements,” and “The Fifth Agreement,” both by Miguel Ruiz. They believed that I would benefit if I learned to adopt the agreements: be impeccable with your word, don’t take anything personally, don’t make assumptions, and do your best.

They also believed that I could gain some insight from these books by learning about HOW we make agreements with ourselves and internalize beliefs. They also thought that it would help me learn about how humans spew emotional poison onto others creating more unhappiness on an individual scale which has a ripple effect out into the rest of the world.

The last audiobook they wanted me to listen to is “You Can Heal Your Life,” by Louise Hay. This one is about how our limiting beliefs and ideas are often the cause of illness and how we can change our thinking to improve the quality of our lives. 

Lastly, Renee and Allison wanted me to talk to myself. Also not something I was expecting to hear! They wanted me to talk to myself out loud and in my mind giving myself compliments or saying affirmations. The hope this that though me doing this regularly, my mindset will start to shift and become more loving and compassionate towards myself rather than being an invisible bully that follows me all day.

Those are my herbalist’s recommendations for helping with the depression that I’ve been experiencing from all the stress and big life changes over the last year. From here on I’m supposed to follow their recommendations for the next month until my second appointment. Then I’ll have a follow-up appointment where I’ll go back to meet with Allison and Renee and they’ll examine me again to provide new recommendations to incorporate and to discuss my next round of healing with a second herbal formula. 

My Self-Love Challenge

Because I have an entire month left of taking their advice before the next appointment, I thought it would be nice to make this month a time of serious self-love. Because not only do I want to go into that next appointment having made progress and taking their suggestions seriously, but I also want to see if shifting your mindset is even possible in the first place. I know it must be possible because all the books and blogs talk about it, but I’ve always been so skeptical about whether I could do it myself. Could I REALLY shift my mindset and get rid of my negative self-talk? I hope so. 

So I decided to layout a month-long self-love routine for myself that will help me heal in more ways that one. Here’s my month-long self-love practice!

Morning and Nighttime Skincare Routine – This one may seem very random, but when I got stuck in my rut I was extremely lazy and unmotivated. Throughout all my life I have always had a pretty involved skincare routine complete with oil, a cleansing, a toner, a serum, moisturizer, eye cream, and SPF. But when I felt so low, I could hardly bring myself to wash my face. Now, I’m making it a point to focus on my skin again first thing in the morning and at the end of the day as well. 

Moisturize – I recently came back with all of these gorgeous lotions and body products from my super spontaneous trip to Niagara-on-the-Lake. So as part of my self-love practice, I will also make it a point to moisturize after a shower. As much as I hate the idea that people think self-love and self-care is PAMPERING because it’s NOT, I’ve been completely neglecting those things after I started to feel low. Adopting this simple act of pampering is just one way that I’m showing love and appreciation for myself by taking those few moments just to make myself feel good on the outside, which I believe can also make you feel good on the inside. 

Self Love Reflection – Next I’m incorporating a self-love reflection into the day whether it’s through stream of consciousness journaling or quietly reflecting on something that I love about myself or that I’m proud of. The point is to help me get rid of the negative self-talk by slowly replacing it with happier and more pleasant thoughts that lift me up. 

Affirmations – I’ll admit I’m super new to affirmations. I hadn’t come across any affirmations that spoke to me and I NEVER remembered to do them. But to me, it seemed too weird walking around my apartment throughout the day telling myself compliments as Allison recommended. I decided that as my way of “talking to myself” as she suggested, I would find a list of affirmations and I would say them aloud to myself and meditate on them. This way has been working well for me because I don’t have to think up what I want to say. I instead pick an affirmation for the day and repeat that affirmation until I feel like it’s sinking in. If I’m feeling extra motivated I will read through a list of affirmations or pick several. But either way I pick one affirmation for the day, repeat it for several minutes in the morning, and then make it a point to remind myself the affirmation throughout the day by writing it down in the morning and keeping it close by.

My absolute favorite list of affirmations that I discovered came from Peaceful Banyan Tree in an article titled, “20 Powerful Affirmations of All Time.” I LOVE this list because it covers positive thinking, health, confidence, self-worth, happiness, letting go, money, success, stress, and today. It hits on all of the areas that bring us full-body health and wellness. For that reason, this list has resonated with me and helped me choose my morning affirmation with ease.

  • I am able to find positivity in every situation.
  • I create only positive thoughts and radiate positivity.
  • I am getting stronger and healthier every day.
  • I am taking good care of my mental and physical health.
  • I am becoming a better version of myself every day.
  • I am confident to overcome any hurdles.
  • I know my self-worth and I am worthy of the best.
  • I believe in myself.
  • I am overflowing with happiness, joy, and satisfaction.
  • I choose happiness over doubt and fear.
  • I forgive myself and everyone else for all the mistakes.
  • I choose to release hurt and resentment.
  • I am a money magnet and attract money easily.
  • The universe is creating opportunities for me to earn more and more money.
  • I see success and abundance everywhere.
  • I am becoming more and more successful every day.
  • Every breath I take fills my soul with calmness and ease.
  • I am at peace now.
  • Today is the most beautiful day.
  • Today I lay the foundation for a wonderful future.

If you’d like some more ideas, make sure to check out my “Mantras” board on Pinterest @LostOnlineBlog.

Pray – After doing my morning affirmation, I decided that I would end with a prayer. I ask the universe to help me take the affirmation into the day, and for help in healing and becoming my highest self. I don’t have a script and what I say tends to vary each day. I always speak from the heart and say whatever feels good at the moment. This is my favorite part of my daily ritual because it makes me feel so at peace.

Supplements and Herbs – For the longest time I completely stopped taking my supplements or I would take them very randomly. But the thing is with supplements you have to take them for an extended period to actually receive and notice the benefit of it. For example, when I started taking biotin for my hair and nails, I didn’t notice how much it helped until at least three months later. Now, as part of my self-love practice, I’m making my supplements and my herbs one of my top priorities along with my formula from Tradition’s Herbal Clinic.

Audio Books – In the afternoon or evening that’s when I’ll be incorporating the audiobooks that were recommended to me. Whether it’s at the gym, in the afternoon when I’m done working, or as I’m getting ready for bed, this is where I’ll take the time to absorb all of that knowledge that my herbalists believe will help. So far I’ve listened to “The Four Agreements” and part of “The Fifth Agreement.” I like them so far because the advice is so simple, but I can see how if you adopt The Four Agreements you could be free from all of the dramas that cause us so much pain, and also have greater self-love. 

Gratitude – At this point, you all are very familiar with how much I believe in my gratitude practice, so I won’t rehash all the benefits again. You can check out my blog post, “My Daily Gratitude Practice,” or “Stream of Consciousness Journaling: The Benefits & How to Practice It.” But it should come as no surprise that when I started to feel so low that I could hardly get myself moving for the day, so of course I didn’t end up sticking to this ritual either. So I’m making it a point to reinstate gratitude in my day. 

Read – Whenever I fall into a funk, I always tend to start numbing with Netflix, which always makes me feel so much worse in the end. I feel as if I’m unproductive and lazy and like I didn’t accomplish anything important. I decided that as part of my self-love ritual I would stop watching shows and instead read in bed every night, not just when the mood strikes. I’m so happy that I’ve adopted this one because I already had so many great conversations with people over our shared love for the book that I’m reading right now: “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil.”

Meditate – Last but not least is meditation. I’ve been following along with the happiness series on the Headspace app lately and it’s helped me to find some peace and serenity right before I go to bed and fall asleep. I’m such a night owl that usually the moment my head hits the pillow I’m 100% awake, but whenever I meditate before bed that’s not the case. I’ve adopted this last habit because not only will it help me feel a sense of calmness in my mind, but it will also help me to take care of myself by falling asleep at a reasonable hour and be able to wake up earlier than usual. 

How is it going?

It’s now been two weeks since I went to the herbal clinic and got my formula. I’ve been taking it every day aside from the days when I was in Pennsylvania and Ontario because I didn’t want to lose it or be questioned about my brown paper bag of herbs at the airport. I don’t know if the formula is what’s helping or if it’s a combination of self-love practices, supplements, herbs, and books.

I do feel much better than I did before though. I have finally pulled myself out of my latest funk and I’m hoping I’ll keep feeling this way for at least a few weeks. I think what is actually helping me the most is that I LOVE trying out wellness practices and products, so I don’t know if it’s their suggestions exactly, or if I’m just so excited to now be going to therapy and to get to test out all of these recommendations and share my experience. 

I have been feeling incredibly proud of myself though because I didn’t think I would be able to take so many recommendations from someone and incorporate it into my life with such ease. I mean really, I have a hard enough following my dentists one simple piece of advice – floss. But I really want to get better, so I’ve been doing everything! 

Lastly, I just wanted to share that this is how I’m treating my depression right now. I’m seeing a therapist, seeing an herbalist, and adopting self-love. I hope that you find some nuggets of wisdom in here that might help you, however, I’m not suggesting that EVERYONE treat depression by repeating affirmations or taking probiotics. Some people do need medication and some people have serious clinical depression and suicidal thoughts that an herbalist is not equipped to fix. If you’re suffering from depression I HIGHLY suggest that you see a doctor and a therapist. Just keep in mind that these things like rituals, books, and supplements can serve a purpose too, and I believe that trying a mixture of traditional and holistic recommendations will help you heal the fastest. 

Thank you for coming to Lost Online!

As always, thank you for reading and make sure to let me know you’re thoughts in the comments! I’m particularly interested to hear what people think about this post and how I’m going about healing myself. 

What are your thoughts about this post? Did you get any ideas from it? Have you had depression before? How did you go about treating it? What worked for you? Do you believe in going using a mixture of traditional and herbal treatments or do you believe one is better than the other?

If you like what you read here, remember to go down to the bottom of the page, click that”+” symbol, and type in your email where it says “follow blog via email.” You’ll have all future blog posts sent right to you! Thanks for coming to Lost Online!

Photos by Ray Reyes @rocketsciencephoto.

Announcement: I’m Seeing a Therapist + How I Discovered I Had Depression & Why I’m THANKFUL For It

Announcements, Self-Help

This week’s blog post is a bit different for me. If you’ve read Lost Online for a while, then you’re probably familiar with the fact that’ll I’ll occasionally write about announcements in my life like starting at The Institute for Integrative Nutrition – but never have I shared an announcement THIS personal. 

I’ve debated about sharing this so many times with mental illness being such a sensitive and personal topic but finally decided that keeping this a secret wouldn’t feel authentic. Because I am so passionate about self-help and wellness I really feel called to share my decision with you about seeing a therapist. Keeping such a big decision private (as someone who preaches self-help and wellness each and every week) just isn’t me. I like being honest on my website, even if it’s not always the cool thing to do. 

Very recently, after realizing that I had depression which wasn’t planning on leaving my side anytime soon, I decided to start seeing a therapist. For the first time in my life, I didn’t just entertain the idea or talk about it. I finally picked up my phone, actually made a call, and booked my first ever therapy appointment – a huge step that I wasn’t sure I would ever take. Since that day I keep giving myself mental praise, “Hell yeah, I actually f*cking did it. I took the first freaking step!” It’s not very often I feel proud of myself, but today I am. Up until this point, the idea of seeing a therapist seemed as terrifying to me as much as swimming with a Great White shark. 

So I wanted to come here today, as I normally do, to talk about what prompted me to finally start seeing a therapist NOW in hopes that it will inspire someone else who may be going through something similar and just needs to hear that they’re not alone.

The Build-Up

It’s been nine months since I first moved to St. Petersburg, Fla. with my boyfriend Matt. I could still remember how excited and thrilled I was that I finally graduated from college and was about to start a life with my partner. It was such an exciting time, picking out the decor, signing a lease, grocery shopping together! I was finally growing up and I could not wait. My entire life I looked forward to the day when all this would happen – when my life would start, when I’d have someone to come home to, when I’d finally be FREE to live as I please. I know it sounds crazy, but I honestly thought that once I moved out and had my own place life would be WONDERFUL. It would be perfect. It would be filled with travel, love, beauty, money, friends, adventure, rainbows, and unicorns. LOL. That’s not what happened. 

Here’s what actually happened: Since I first moved to this coast to sunny St. Pete, nothing happened as I expected. There’s been so many big life changes, decisions, and challenges that I didn’t see coming for the life of me. For the first time ever I was in a new town trying to make a life for myself without family or school providing some structure and support. I was alone having to make friends as an adult (which is surprisingly difficult). I’ve tried so many times to make friends with people only to be canceled on and stood up again and again.

I had to get used to a whole other family that’s now in my life with their own opinions and oh so many expectations. I’ve had to deal with WAY more family drama than you would expect both in my family and Matt’s. I’ve been pressured into buying a house before I was ready, with NO ONE around me respecting my feelings. I then fell in love with a house and had that dream taken away after we discovered a disturbing termite infestation and had to resend our offer. 

I felt real financial stress for the first time. I’ve felt the pressure to find a job while being asked every single day, “So did you find a job yet? How’s the job hunt going?” (Apparently, when you are job hunting, it’s the only thing you’re allowed to discuss with people.) I’ve been spewed so much unwarranted advice about job hunting from people who haven’t looked for a job in 20 years. 

I then had months of sleepless nights struggling with the decision to leave my full-time job to pursue what I wanted. Then, I got let go from another job, followed by months of working at home from my kitchen counter leading to a very isolated lifestyle because there’s no “blogger office” you can go into to hang out with people.

That’s not even including the health problems, friend drama, and family issues that are way too private to share online. But the biggest challenge of all – I can’t make one decision in life without someone feeling the need to intervene and share their two cents with me. Wherever I want to live, whichever house I live in, whichever dog I get, SOMEONE has an issue with it. I really believed that once I was on my own that I would be magically liberated from the opinions and judgment of others.

If this is what everyone meant by, “Wait until you get into the real world,” I finally understand what they mean.

That transition period from college to adulthood is extremely overwhelming, and then you throw in health problems, a new city, a new family, and financial stress and it’s no wonder I’ve been so anxious and depressed over the last nine months. There’s been A LOT going on, and those are just the bullet points. 

It reminds me of a quote I just saw on Instagram today that said, “Being an adult is just saying, ‘But things will slow down a bit again’ to yourself until you die.” I think that sentence wraps up the last nine months of my life perfectly. 

How I Discovered That I Had Depression 

All of that brings me to these past few months when I’ve felt so low, so defeated, so disrespected, so helpless that I just felt like, “What’s the point?” “Why even get up early, get a bunch of work done when life keeps handing me one shit sandwich after another?”

My depression stayed while the excitement, motivation, and inspiration fell away. I ended up spending way too many days over the last few months in sweat pants, greasy hair, exhausted for no apparent reason, not feeling like myself at all. So many days I felt lazy, unmotivated with overwhelming sadness or sometimes not feeling anything at all. Sometimes even just getting out of bed in the morning felt like going to war. It seemed impossible. What’s worse is that staying in bed turned into a vicious cycle where I felt guilty and disgusted with myself for not working and getting more done.

Once I was up, I couldn’t even bring myself to take care of myself, do work, eat well, or go to the gym. Some days I would binge on junk food for comfort, other days I wouldn’t eat a thing. Because of how low I felt, I isolated myself more and would hardly leave the apartment. 

It was about nine months of lead up and slowly feeling worse and worse until one day I realized: I don’t think this is normal. This doesn’t seem to be one of my typical “ruts” that might last a few days. It seems more serious than that. 

But I still wasn’t 100% convinced that I was experiencing depression. I thought that in order to be depressed you had to have suicidal thoughts or actions, which I don’t. I still want to live and continue to grow, I still have hopes, dreams, and aspirations, but I still felt terrible and sad most days. So, I became more and more curious about whether or not that’s what I’ve been experiencing. 

This eventually led me to into a google-searching black hole one night. I started looking up articles about how to tell if you have depression and found a long collection of articles that all had similar titles. Most of them said, “30 symptoms of depression,” “20 ways to tell if you have depression,” “12 secret symptoms of depression,” “15 little known side effects of depression.” You get the idea. Well, it turns out, I had ALL of the symptoms and “secret” side effects of depression, aside from one – bed sores.

It turns out that I had depression all along, and just didn’t realize it. It wasn’t until I had every symptom and checked with Google before I finally realized that’s what was going on. It was difficult to finally admit to myself that that’s what I’m going through, especially being someone who’s so immersed in self-help and wellness. I would love nothing more than to “fix” myself and be a perfect, shiny, glimmering example of health, happiness, self-love, and positivity for you. It also was somewhat of a relief though, because there have been too many times when Matt asks me for the third time in one night, “What’s wrong?” Followed by me saying, “I’m tired,” because I honestly don’t know what to say. 

Finally Seeking Help

There have been many times I should have seen a therapist throughout my life, but I never went through with it. I was way too scared to finally take the leap and I had so many irrational fears about what might happen if I actually DID see a therapist. I was afraid of being labeled or being viewed as a freak who couldn’t get their life together. I was scared that I might hear people say to me, “What the f*ck would you have to be depressed about?” Especially if it was my family saying those things. It would make me feel so guilty when they’ve worked so hard to give me the life that I have now. Seeing a therapist seemed almost unfair or even wrong. However, what terrified me the most was the thought of sitting across from a stranger and crying for an hour about my deepest and most personal issues. The thought of that still makes me cringe.

Even though I know SO many people who see therapists and talk about how much it’s helped them through depression, anxiety, family problems, and trauma, I couldn’t bring myself to do it for the longest time. Which only meant that the longer I put it off, the more I built it up in my mind and the scarier it seemed. 

But now here I am, a self-help and wellness blogger that spends days experiencing overwhelming sadness and not being able to get out of bed. I’ve read all the books, listened to all the podcasts, tried all the supplements, adopted all of the self-care rituals, and here I am – experiencing depression. It was that thought that FINALLY made me pick up my phone one day and seek out a therapist. There comes a point when if you experience depression, you can’t leave it up to random authors to play the role of your therapist for you, you need to actually talk with someone. 

So here I am at the start of my own therapy journey and I just had my consultation appointment today (as I’m writing this). After making that initial phone call and setting up my appointment, my fears surprisingly went away and were replaced with an emotion that I was NOT at all expecting: excitement. It appears that all of the overthinking that I did about whether I should or shouldn’t see a therapist for years made that initial phone call scarier than actually sitting down with someone. 

“The problem is not the problem. The problem is the incredible amount of overthinking you’re doing with the problem. Let it go and be free.” – unknown

Viewing Depression in a Positive Light 

Now that I’m finally taking a leap of faith and moving forward with a therapist I’m feeling very hopeful about what’s to come. It’s allowed me to reflect on the last 9 months without being so triggered by it and think about the advice that I wish I could give myself when I first moved to St. Petersburg. I put together three main takeaways that I want to share with you today so that it may reach someone else who needs need to hear this too.

1. Life goes in phases

There will be moments when you feel on top of the world and there will be moments when you’re feeling down. You’ll have the best days of your life, but there will still be the worst days. But as much as it sucks when you’re hurting and life keeps kicking you when you’re down, those times are necessary. It would be impossible to feel on top of the world all the time or else you wouldn’t appreciate it. If everything went your way you wouldn’t realize how special it was and would take it for granted. 

That’s why it’s important to honor the highs and the lows equally. To feel happy and grateful when things are going well and to trust that everything is working in your greatest favor when they are not. 

2. It’s always darkest before dawn

Just as I shared in my latest blog post, “How to Recognize Universal Signs, things falling apart of “bad” things happening is a good thing. A lot of the time, it’s actually the universe working in your favor. I believe that many of the good things that happen to us would be brought into fruition without something falling apart. Just like how you wouldn’t have met your soulmate unless you broke up with that douchebag you used to date in college!

I’m going to go ahead and quote myself for a minute, in case you haven’t read the last blog post yet.

“We can’t expand, fulfill our purpose, or become our highest selves if everything is going well and if everything was EASY. We can’t continue to improve and learn important lessons if everything is rainbows and unicorns all the time. We’d be way too comfortable. And if there’s one thing that I know in this world, it’s that you can’t grow inside your comfort zone…Challenges happen because it’s the universe pushing you to level up.” – Heather Ione Clark

It reminds me of one of my absolute favorite quotes in the world, from author J.K. Rowling: “Rock bottom became the solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life.” If it wasn’t for her challenges, the world would have never been blessed with the magical, wizarding world of Harry Potter!

But just as much as I believe that challenging times happen to us so that we can reach our soul’s purpose, I also believe that the rough periods are happening to us for another reason. We all have lessons that we’re meant to learn in this lifetime so that we can evolve and become our highest selves. Even though it’s much easier to take the victim mentality, instead look at it from the perspective of, “What can I learn from this?”

When I take this healthier and more positive perspective, I’m able to understand that this depression I’ve been experiencing is happening for a greater purpose – it will help me to grow, finally address traumas that I haven’t let go of, and it will help me to inspire others to seek help too. 

3. It’s ok to not be ok

It’s ok if you’re not always feeling “#blessed” like how you are in your Instagram captions. Let’s be honest, we all have crap days and years that don’t quite go how we imagined they would. And that’s ok. I don’t think I’ve met one person who didn’t struggle with some trauma, whether it be a broken relationship with a parent, a sexual assault, or an eating disorder. We all have our things.

When I first decided to see a therapist, I debated not sharing this with you. I didn’t want to admit that even I feel the need to see a therapist. Because I’m a self-help and wellness writer, I should be 100% ok, right? False. Even your super hot personal trainer eats cake sometimes. We’re all human here. 

But I’m sharing this because although this blog is all about self-help, health, and wellness, I’m not claiming to be PERFECT. I’m not claiming to have it all figured out. This is about my journey, my advice that I learn along the way, and above all – transparency. Sharing the not so gram-able moments about my life in hopes to help someone else. Because I know other young women just like me share the same challenges, and I want them to know that it’s ok to NOT be ok. 

Thanks for coming to Lost Online!

I really hope you enjoyed this week’s post and it helped you to reflect on your own experience. Lastly, I just want to say that if you’re having a similar experience as me, don’t be afraid to make the call. Those few minutes it takes to call someone are scarier than actually sitting down and talking things out. Trust me, you will be so happy and so proud of yourself that you took the first step. 

“At any given moment we have two choices: to step forward into growth or to step back into safety.” – Abraham Maslow

As always, let me know what you think in the comments! Have you recently taken the first step to see a therapist? Do you currently see a therapist? Looking back at the time of your life when you decided to seek help, what are some of your own takeaways? What advice would you give to others who are going through a hard time? Do you believe that “bad” things happen for a reason? Do you believe that we’re meant to learn something from moments like this? Even if you don’t AND even if you haven’t seen a therapist, let me know your thoughts in the comments! 

If you like what you read here, remember to go down to the bottom of the page, click that”+” symbol, and type in your email where it says “follow blog via email.” You’ll have all future blog posts sent right to you! Thanks for coming to Lost Online!

Photos by Ray Reyes @rocketsciencephoto.

What it Really Means to be Healthy: Primary and Secondary Foods Explained

Health & Wellness, Lifestyle, Spirituality

I don’t know about you, but for years I feel like I’ve been on a mission to reach perfect health, whatever that means. I’ve bought countless supplements, eaten organic, tried tons of lifestyle changes, and bought a string of random products, but nothing has really changed. I wouldn’t say that now my apartment is filled with supplements and chemical-free products that I feel like I can give myself a gold star for just how wonderfully healthy I’ve become. I’d be willing to bet that you can’t either. No one can. So what does it really mean to be healthy? How do we know that we’ve figured it out? What advice, products, or changes really matter if we want to improve our health long term?

What does it mean to be healthy?

I learned a fun fact this week at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. I learned that the word health comes from the old English word HALE meaning wholeness; being whole, sound, or well. The word and its meaning has changed over time and today health is defined by the World Health Organization as a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being, not JUST the absence of disease. Therefore health is a dynamic concept, not a fixed outcome. 

Yet today we live in a society where organizations, companies, brands, celebrities, and influencers are always blasting information at us about how we SHOULD be. That’s how they make money and sell us products, diets, pills, and food that promise to help us reach the destination of perfect health. If we just follow their advice, buy the program, or purchase the pill, eventually shiny golden doors will open up and we’ll be welcomed into the land of perfect health. If we can only get there, then we’ll finally have flawless digestion, glowing skin, a tiny waist, a toned body, strong bones, luscious hair, and most importantly HAPPINESS. Right?

Sadly, that’s not how it works. I love my Sweet Sweat Waist Trimmer, my detox teas, my almond yogurt, but I know that they’re never going to bring me this fantasy that I have in my head of perfect health. Why? Because there is NO SUCH THING as perfect health.

Health is much more like a journey than a destination. (Ugh, I hate how cliche that sounds! Sorry!) It’s about making changes that improve your health and HAPPINESS in several areas of your life, not just about buying organic or sculpting a six-pack. 

The flawed outlook of health

We can go round and round all day about our flawed health care system, so I’m not going to address all of those major issues in this blog post. You’d be reading this post until the end of time, and we both have sh*t to do. But what I am going to talk about is ONE major issue that I see when we talk about health, and it’s that health is a destination with a specific path you take on how to get there. This path could be diets, exercise, detoxing, supplements, acupuncture, etc. It’s whatever YOU have been told what health should look like in your life. Maybe it’s never eating, or laying in a sensory deprivation tank every month, or drinking celery juice. 

There’s a very flawed approach to health today where people believe that if you just follow a specific set of rules you’ll be “healthy.” Then, to top off this crazy theory that health is a destination, we have magazines, social media accounts, and brands that put out these filtered, photoshopped images of fitness models, further adding to this illusion that there’s a magical land of sexy, healthy, superhuman, happy people who have it all figured out. 

Here’s the thing, not only is perfect health something that can’t be bought or accomplished through a set of rules and diets, BUT health is also NOT only about what you put in your stomach. It’s not about how much kale you eat, about how disciplined you are in avoiding sugar and dairy, or about taking supplements every day. Health is complete physical, mental, and social well-being.

The wiser approach to health and wellness

As a student at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition (IIN) and a future Integrative Health Coach, I’m learning about a newer, wiser approach to full body health and wellness, and you can’t buy it at Whole Foods. The idea that IIN and it’s founder, Joshua Rosenthal, share is that human beings are nurtured by both Primary Foods and Secondary Foods. Can you guess what they might be?

Primary Foods 

Upon first guess, you might think that Primary Foods are actual food right? At least I did. But it’s the opposite. Primary Foods are the most important things in our lives and impact our health far more than the chia seeds. Primary Foods are broken down into relationships, physical activity, career, and spirituality. If these things are out of whack in our lives then we’re far less healthy. We’re far more likely to have diseases and far less likely to have life satisfaction.

“Healthy relationships, regular physical activity, a fulfilling career, and a spiritual practice can fill your soul and satisfy your hunger for life.” – Joshua Rosenthal

Although it’s important to understand what people are eating, to find what works for their unique body, and to make improvements in those areas of their lives as well, all of that is secondary to the quality of people’s life. I’ve heard so many stories and studies from doctors and researches who have proved that how happy people are in their relationships determines how healthy they are and how long they live. People who have toxic relationships or a lonely, are much more susceptible to disease and have a much shorter life span. 

Side Note: If you’d like to learn about my absolute favorite study on this, check out this Ted talk video on the longest study that’s ever been conducted on happiness. This video is all about researchers have tracked the lives of 2 groups of men since 1938. The first group started in the study when they were sophomores at Harvard College, finished college during WWII, and most of which went off to serve in the war. The second group was a group of boys from one of Boston’s poorest neighborhoods. This group was specifically chosen because they were from some of the troubled and disadvantaged families in the 1930s.

This study has been going on for over 75 years and has studied the original men as well as all of their children and grandchildren they’ve brought in to the world. This study is extremely in-depth and goes as far as to interview the men on the phone and in their living rooms, examine their medical records, scan their brains, draw blood, interview family members. The research staff even goes as far as to videotape the men talking to their wives about their deepest concerns. It’s a very intensive study that’s closely examined these men for decades. What they’ve found after 75+ years of research later is this… Good relationships keep us happier AND healthier.

The hundreds of thousands of pages of research and the last 75+ years prove above all else that social connections are really good for us and that loneliness kills. The people who are more socially connected to family, friends, and community are happier, physically healthier, and live longer than the people who are less connected. Loneliness, on the other hand, turns out to be toxic. People who are less connected and more isolated than they want to be are less happy, their health declines earlier in mid-life, their brain functioning declines sooner, and they live shorter lives. If you have some time today, this is one of my all-time favorite Ted Talks and health studies that I’ve heard of and it’s definitely worth a watch.

1. Relationships

The first (and more important aspect of primary foods if you ask me) is our relationships. Relationships are the number one thing that feed us and have the largest impact on the quality of our lives. It doesn’t have to be a relationship between you and a partner. It includes your family, friends, neighbors, co-workers, etc. Anyone and everyone who is in your life and the quality of the relationship you have with them.

Today, these relationships are weaker due to social media and the internet. Technology has created the illusion that we’re connected and in a relationship with people, even though it’s through a screen. More and more we’re living isolated lives, and it used to not be like this. People once lived in multi-generational homes, lived in the same city their entire lives, and carried friends with them far into old age. Now it’s different. You may be “friends” with someone online, but never even speak to them in person. Those types of relationships don’t fill us up and make us happy and healthy.

Relationships are also in turmoil today as divorce rates increase. It’s become much more common to cut people out of our lives than to make it work and get past our differences. (Please don’t misinterpret this as me saying divorce isn’t justified). The other issue is that not only are people divorcing, but there are also many people who have very unhealthy or unhappy marriages and feel stuck in a relationship that isn’t fulfilling for them. 

If we really want to improve our overall healthy and longevity, it starts with the quality of relationships in our lives. It starts by either making more connection or improving the relationships that we have with family, friends, neighbors, in-law, and co-workers. It starts by making the effort to pick up your phone and call someone, starting couples therapy, or spending more quality time with each other.

2. Physical Activity

Of course, physical activity plays a large role in how healthy we are as we age. Having the right types of exercise in our daily lives that we actually enjoy doing is way more important than people realize. It’s not that we have to run X number of miles a day, do yoga, or do CrossFit. Just like the messages related to our overall health, we’re programmed to believe that we have to follow a specific program or reach a certain number of minutes of exercise each day.

In order to feel truly healthy, people have to slowly incorporate ways to stay active in their lives that work for them AND actually make them happy. If pilates isn’t your thing, don’t do it! Today, people may also be doing the wrong forms of exercise for their body. For example, many runners or weight lifters completely neglect stretching, while many yogis neglect cardiovascular exercise. In order to be healthy, you don’t have to follow specific rules and programs that promise to help you drop 30 pounds in 30 days, but instead slowly incorporate balanced forms of exercise that you actually LIKE doing. For example, getting a walk in each day, stretching before bed, doing a yoga class once a week, or doing InForm Fitness weekly.

3. Career 

Career is the next primary food that so many of us have neglected. We spend the majority of our live WORKING. We spend more time with our co-workers than our own family. We spend more time in an office chair than we do working on our hobbies. Our career feeds us way more than what we eat on our lunch breaks. I know when I was working a normal 9-5 job every other aspect of my life slowly deteriorated. I was so unhappy and exhausted that I didn’t have time to food prep and eat healthy, my relationships suffered drastically because of what little time and energy I had to give them, and I completely stopped exercising. If you’re miserable and stressed out for those 40+ hours a week, how can you possibly be healthy and flourish in your personal life? Those weeks take a toll on your overall physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing. Our careers really do feed our body and soul, and that’s why it’s important to either find work you love OR find ways to love the work you do. 

Side Note: As I write this at a coffee shop right now, I’m sitting next to a woman discussing with someone how miserable she is at her job. How it bores her and it doesn’t fill her up. “That kind of job didn’t develop me in a way that it should have after college,” she says. The girl with her is also sharing how unfulfilled she is at her job. Her exact words are, “I don’t feel fulfilled.”

Photo by Autumn Clark.

4. Spirituality 

This aspect of primary foods is also very important to our overall well-being, but at the same time it’s usually the first thing that people neglect. What I’ve been taught at IIN is that we need to have a spiritual practice. Having some kind of spiritual practice that fills up our soul and gives us hope and faith can make a drastic difference in our happiness. It doesn’t matter what your religious affiliation is or what the spiritual practice looks like. A spiritual practice could be going to church, praying, journaling, meditating, volunteer work, painting, or even hiking. It’s whatever works for you that makes you feel connected with a higher power and fills you up in that way. 

As Joshua Rosenthal shares in IIN, “we are spiritual beings in a material world.” The more congruity we have with who we are, how we represent ourselves, the career that we are working in, the more likely we are to achieve the outcome that we came here in this lifetime to achieve. That’s why when health is approached by looking at primary food and secondary food, the better off we are.

Secondary Foods

The secondary foods are the foods that we actually eat and that nourish our physical bodies. It’s not that these aren’t important, but they are secondary. Have you noticed that when you’re REALLY enjoying the work that you’re doing and you’re in a state of flow, time stops? The world around you melts away. You forget to go to the bathroom, drink water, or eat food? You’re enjoying yourself so much that someone has to remind you to eat dinner? When you’re having so much fun with friends you don’t want to stop and go get food. You’re being fulfilled and energized from those other aspects of your life that food becomes an afterthought. It’s why whenever I work on my writing or website, I forget to eat all day. Matt’s been trying to get me to eat lunch for months now!

However, there’s the opposite side of that. When people crave food it doesn’t happen by mistake. It means that something in your life is out of balance. It means that you’re not feeling fulfilled and you want food for comfort and to feel whole again. 

The other important aspect to understand about secondary foods is that each and every person has a completely unique body that has a unique set of needs. That’s why I get so infuriated when people get pushy about a specific diet or lifestyle they preach to others. Just because YOU personally eat a lot of ___(fill in the blank)___ or don’t eat ___(fill in the blank)___, doesn’t mean that other people have to. We all have a very unique bio-computer that maybe thrives when we eat fresh fruit and berries or closes our throat the moment we step into a room with blueberries. 

How does this relate to my philosophy?

I’ve always felt this way about health and nutrition. However, before starting at IIN, I didn’t have the words to express it. Lost Online is what I describe as a self-help, health and wellness blog, and I chose these categories because I believe the MIND and our MENTAL WELL-BEING override everything else when it comes to living a healthy life. That’s why I focus on the mind and what we can do to improve our lives in all areas and sprinkle in health and fitness through my posts. Because what matters more than how much chia seeds and kale you consume is how happy you are. 

How do we become healthy long term? 

You may be wondering, “What now? How do we become healthy?” Here’s how: 

1. Forget

Scratch the RULES that you have been force fed about health and wellness up to this point in your life. Understand the fact that we are fed more by our Primary Foods than what you put in your grocery cart. Understand that in order to achieve whole body wellness, you have to improve every area of your life – this might involve you being brave and taking leaps that terrify you short term, but would fulfill you in the long term. 

2. Identify 

Identify the areas of your life that need improvement. Write down each primary food group and secondary food and what aspects in each category you’re struggling with. For example, in relationships are you struggling to meet friends as an adult, do you have a strenuous relationship with someone, is there someone you don’t have a relationship with that you wish you did? In a way, you have to play your own therapist here, determine the areas of your life that aren’t filling you up in the way you need to flourish. 

3. Take action… but think small 

The biggest mistake that people make over and over again is that they want to change, but they try to do it drastically. They want to eat healthy, so they go vegan in one day. They want to lose weight so they cut their calories in half or exercise for two hours a day. They want to be more spiritual, so they buy 10 spirituality books on Amazon in one sitting. Do you see what I mean? We try to take giant leaps, but we don’t work that way. It’s too drastic of a change, so we’ll instantly revert back to how we used to be. If you want to change your life in any of these areas, make ONE change at a time. Setting drastic and unrealistic expectations of yourself is a sure way to fail. People learn and change their behaviors through slow and simple lifestyle changes. 

You might still be thinking, “WHAT DO I DO, HEATHER?!” 

Because we’re so used to people beating specifics into our head when it comes to wellness, hearing information that’s more broad might be difficult for you. We’re used to being told that we have to eat X amount of calories or do X number of reps. Here’s the thing: YOU know what you need to do. You know what changes you should be making in your life. I can’t make that decision for you. You know whether you need to go network with someone, meditate daily, call up a friend, cut out potato chips, start taking a supplement, see a therapist, quit the job, stop drinking a six pack of soda daily, put yourself out there, join a club, buy a program, go to church, etc. I guarantee you have some idea of a step that you know you need to be doing. If you realize that these areas in your life are still struggling, that you need more direction, then please reach out to me personally. 

Takeaway

My goal with this post is to help you understand that full-body health and wellness is about much more than what supplements you’re on and what you put on your plate. It’s also about the primary foods: relationships, career, spirituality, and physical activity. Only when you address and make improvements to each of these areas will you really come alive and be able to reach your potential. So scratch whatever diet you think you should be on right now. Dig deeper into all the aspects of your life and make small improvements. If you need help along the way, I’m always here to answer your questions. 

As always, thank you for coming to Lost Online and let me know what you think in the comments. Have you heard of Joshua Rosenthal’s idea of Primary Foods and Secondary Foods before? Do you believe that we are fed more by Primary Foods? Why yes or no? What areas have you found that you need to make adjustments to in order to feel happier and healthier? What steps will you make to improve?

If you like what you read here, remember to go down to the bottom of the page, click that”+” symbol, and type in your email where it says “follow blog via email.” You’ll have all future blog posts sent right to you! Thanks for coming to Lost Online!

Photos Ray Reyes @rocketsciencephoto.

Honest Flat Tummy Tea Product Review + Instagram Giveaway

Health & Wellness, Lifestyle, Product Reviews

I’m super excited because today I bring to you a product review for another one of my absolute favorite companies, Flat Tummy Tea.

But first…

Like I said in the past and will say many more times, I will never come to this platform and write a blog post so that I or anyone else can sell a crap product to you. This blog is my passion and only reflects my personal beliefs, values, and opinions. This post is not sponsored or paid for in any way. This is my honest review of Flat Tummy Tea. I stopped studying advertising in college because nothing sounded worse to me than promoting things that I knew I didn’t believe in and that didn’t actually add value to someone’s life. I chose to do this review because I’m a huge fan of Flat Tummy Tea and have been a customer for years!

I started using Flat Tummy Tea at the beginning of college after I saw this product really take off. I constantly saw content creators, influencers, and celebrities sharing photos holding up their fresh bags of Flat Tummy Tea. Everywhere I looked online back then, I saw Flat Tummy Tea – on Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube. There was always a beautiful girl with a perfect body holding up two bags of the tea with a beaming smile on her face. Of course, as an 18- and 19-year-old girl who wasn’t comfortable with her body, I was their ideal target market and I was SO curious about this product.

I finally decided to purchase the tea after seeing the product countless times and beginning a nice, long health and exercise kick. I saw that my stomach was not exactly as flat as I would have liked and I went shopping for any product that could get me one step closer to the body I wanted, which of course led me to purchase Flat Tummy Tea. 

What is Flat Tummy Tea?

Flat Tummy Tea is a loose leaf detox tea that’s made from natural herbs known to cleanse the digestive system, reduce bloating, and speed up the metabolism. The cleanse includes two different teas – activate and cleanse. Activate reduces bloating, supports the metabolism, helps maintain a healthy immune system, and boosts energy. The cleanse detoxifies your system, reduces bloating, decreases water retention, and cleans out the digestive system. 

It’s designed to help your body kick that bloat around your belly that comes from eating out way too often and not being as kind to your body as you should be. It gets rid of that bloating that’s been hanging around and with it that super heavy, gross, sluggish, and un-sexy feeling. 

It’s not like a diet supplement that will make you lose weight or get rid of your appetite, but rather a cleansing system. It won’t make you drop 10 pounds so you look extra hot this summer. Trust me, you’ll still have to work out. Flat Tummy Tea cleans out the digestive tract, makes the bloat go away and helps you feel more confident in everything that you wear. 

Ingredients

Activate Ingredients – peppermint (leaf), lemon balm (leaf), Liquorice (root), dandelion (leaf and root), cleavers (leaf), fennel (seed), green tea (leaf), caraway (seed), cardamom (pods). 

Cleanse Ingredients – senna (leaf), peppermint (leaf), cassia chamaecrista (pods), liquorice (root), caraway (seed), dandelion (root), rhubarb (root).

Here are some of the benefits of the ingredients found in Flat Tummy Tea as it relates to the product:

  • Peppermint: Ease digestive upsets including symptoms such as gas, bloating, cramping, nausea, and indigestion. Aids in weight loss and treats Irritable Bowel Syndrome. 
  • Lemon balm: Used to treat stomach problems such as nausea and indigestion; boosts cognitive functioning, improves alertness and memory; helps with weight loss. Acts as a natural anti-inflammatory and anti-viral. 
  • Liquorice: Licorice root is used to soothe gastrointestinal problems including nausea, indigestion, heartburn, and stomach pain; helps to treat leaky gut; increases energy.
  • Dandelion: Improves digestion as a diabetic and laxative; prevents and treats constipation; aids in weight loss; anti-inflammatory. 
  • Cleavers: Reduces water retention; Diuretic; Detoxifying. 
  • Fennel: Treats digestive issues such as bloating, cramps, and gas; Diuretic; Suppresses appetite. 
  • Green Tea: Increases fat burning; Improves brain function; Improves memory; Boosts physical performance. 
  • Caraway: Treats digestive problems including heartburn, bloating, gas, loss of appetite, mild spasms of the stomach and intestines, and constipation.
  • Cardamom: Relieves nausea and vomiting; Helps to heal Ulcers; Helps with weight loss.
  • Senna: Aids in weight loss; Treats constipation; Detoxifies the body; Most commonly used as a laxative. 
  • Cassia Chamaecrista: Commonly used as a laxative. 
  • Rhubarb: Commonly used as a laxative. 

How does it work?

The Flat Tummy Tea cleanse is two different teas that are meant to be taken at different times. The Activate tea is meant to be taken every morning when you have breakfast. It helps reduce the bloat while also giving you extra energy and helping to boost metabolism. The Cleanse is meant to be taken in the evening. For the first three days, you use the Cleanse tea every evening, after that you switch to every other day for about a week. Once that period is over, it’s meant to be used once every three nights until you’ve finished the program.

The Flat Tummy Tea Cleanse is sold in two-week programs and four-week programs on the website, but I typically don’t do more than two weeks at a time. I think the four-weeks would be way too hard on my system and wouldn’t necessarily work “better” than the two-week program. 

Disclaimer: It is the loose leaf tea, so you do have to boil the water, put the leaves in an infuser and let it steep for several minutes. You also DON’T want to go overboard with the tea leaves to try to get it to work “faster” or “better.” A teaspoon of the leaves will do. This is a cleansing system and it can be hard on your stomach if you use too much of it. You’ll also be spending far more time in the bathroom than you’re used to, so maybe don’t try Flat Tummy Tea while you’re on vacation, about to go on a date, or before you’re about to work a 15-hour shift. 

My Experience 

I’ll be honest, as curious as I was about this product and all the hype around it, I didn’t actually believe that it would work. At least not enough to still be using this product five years later even as an adult who ALWAYS keeps Flat Tummy Tea around the kitchen “just in case.” No, I thought this product would be another one of those things that I got super excited about for a couple of weeks before I realized it wasn’t all THAT.

However, from the first time I used Flat Tummy Tea I was amazed. Within the first few days, the bloating that had hung around – no matter how much water I consumed and how frequently I worked out – simply disappeared. It went down dramatically. My stomach no longer had that little round shape to it, and instead laid flat. Before then, I thought that maybe, “That’s just how my body is.” I hadn’t realized that it was just bloating that a simple cleanse could fix. Had I known that very first time how dramatic it would be, I would have definitely taken before and after pictures! Oh well, that was five years ago.

Since that first time I saw results from Flat Tummy Tea I used it at least twice a year and do the entire two-week cleanse. I always use this product religiously around Thanksgiving and Christmas when my bloating and water retention is at its WORST. (You know what I’m talking about!) My family has become very familiar now with my “special detox tea” that I make a point of sharing it’s “expensive.” I always make a big deal whenever I leave the room to tell everyone in my family, “I’m NOT done drinking my tea! No one dump out the tea trying to clean up!” Once I even put a note in front of it so the tea would still be there even through one my mom’s and grandma’s frantic cleaning frenzies. 

Now I know you weren’t expecting that tangent, but I share it because I really AM a fan and real-life customer of this product. I believe in it enough to pack it and take it with me during the holidays!

However, I don’t do the entire two-week program all the time. Sometimes, if I notice a little bit of bloating through the year but don’t think it’s necessary to do an entire two weeks, I’ll even use the cleanse for a couple of days until my stomach flattens out. Flat Tummy Tea has become my secret weapon. I even use Flat Tummy Tea for a few days before I have a shoot coming up!

Company Review 

I normally don’t review a company when writing a product review, but I did include this part for Flat Tummy Tea for their wonderful customer service. TWO TIMES my Flat Tummy Tea was stolen right after it was delivered to my house. It happened in two different neighborhoods in two different states. I haven’t had many packages stolen, but somehow it was taken TWICE from me. Both times, the company sent me my order again free of charge. I was so thankful for that because most companies would only do that once to make sure that customers don’t take advantage of it. I also was a super broke college student both times my tea was stolen, so I was very thankful I didn’t have to order $40 worth of tea again.

I also wanted to mention that the company has now expanded and creates shakes, supplements, appetite suppressing lollipops, a wide range of teas, and workout plans. Every time I take a look at the Flat Tummy website, there are always new products available, but there was a time when the company’s only product was their detox tea. It just goes to show that the company is doing something right and people love their products since they’ve been able to expand so much.

Flat Tummy Tea is not just some random product that’s all hype with no results. I love the product so much that I always have some on hand. Even my boyfriend, Matt, just asked me last week, “When are we gonna start Flat Tummy Tea again?”

Instagram Giveaway!

Because I love this product so much I wanted to share it with YOU as well, which is why I’ve decided to do an INSTAGRAM GIVEAWAY!

All you have to do to enter is FOLLOW ME on Instagram @heather.ione, LIKE THIS PHOTO, and TAG 3 BEAUTIFUL FRIENDS. One lucky winner will receive a two-week cleanse from me!

I love this product so much that I want to help one of you experience it as well. And it’s perfect timing! Right smack dab in the middle of bikini season. Make sure to head over to my Instagram real quick @heather.ione and enter to win!

Thanks for coming to Lost Online!

As always, thank you so much for reading. I really hope you enjoyed this post about Flat Tummy Tea. I love to share my own experiences with popular products because I know it can be so hard to find reviews that you trust when most of the people creating blogs and YouTube reviews are sponsored. 

As always, let me know what you think in the comments! What this post helpful for you? Have you tried Flat Tummy Tea before? OR are you thinking about trying it? What drew you to the product? What did you think? Did you see any results? Did you have any side effects? Do you think you would use it again?

If you like what you read here, be sure to scroll all the way down, click that “+” and subscribe below to have my weekly blog posts sent right to you!

Photos by Ray Reyes, IG: @rocketsciencephoto.

Disclaimer

Before I hit that beautiful, blue publish button today, I feel like I should first share that there are many mixed opinions about cleanses and detox teas. It seems that people either believe detox teas are wonderful for your health and digestive system or that they’re dangerous. I personally believe that detox teas are beneficial when you’re suffering from bloating, gas, constipation and other unpleasant digestive issues. However, detox teas such as Flat Tummy Tea should be used carefully and in moderation.

It’s important to mention this because the sad truth is that some young women (and men) suffer from the eating disorder known as Bulimia Nervosa and end up using excessive amount of laxatives, cleanses, and detox teas as a way to purge and lose weight.

The constant consumption of detox teas or laxatives ends up leading to a wide variety of health complications. I’m not going to go into detail about all of them because that’s not what this post is about. However, the biggest issue that arises from heavy laxative use is that it makes your body become reliant on laxatives. 

If you’d like to read one woman’s very personal and eye-opening story of this, check out, “Why You Shouldn’t Drink Cleanses and Detox Teas,” on CelebMix.com. The article is about a young woman who suffered from an eating disorder and ended up becoming addicted to laxatives causing her bowels to become reliant on it and to bleed while she was trying to go to the bathroom.

That’s why I only recommend doing two-weeks of these teas at a time and to only use products such as this one in moderation. Follow the instructions and use the recommended amount of tea each day. Although I do recommend this product to others and I love using it myself, I think it’s important to mention that if you have struggled with eating disorders in the past, I wouldn’t suggest using this product. Detox teas, just like anything else should be used in moderation. 

The Jessner Chemical Peel: Treatment Details, Before & After Photos, Results, and Recommendations

Beauty

Why Get a Chemical Peel in the First Place?

Do you ever wish you could go back and time and take better care of your skin? Or experience once again that beautiful, flawless skin you had in high school – the skin where you never had to do a single thing to it, yet it looked beautiful anyways? Well, I do. I know many people experienced severe acne or even scarring in their pre-teen and teen years, but for me, my skin was perfect. I hardly had any breakouts, and my friends, family … even doctors would compliment me on how beautiful my skin was and ask me about my “secret.” “I don’t know, I just wash my skin and use moisturizer,” I would tell them. Oh, I miss those days. And I wish that at the time I wouldn’t have taken it for granted.

The moment I moved down to Florida four years ago is when my skin completely changed. I was 20 years old and I remember within the first few days of living in Florida I had one of the biggest breakouts I’ve ever had in my life, and for the first time ever it actually left a scar. A deep divot in the skin on my forehead that still shows in every single photo that I take. Since my move, my skin continues to keep changing. I have blackheads like never before, I get cystic breakouts that leave scars, and I get blemishes so deep in the skin that it creates an unflattering and rough texture that no amount of exfoliating and serums could correct.

I’m now 23 years old and after watching my skin lose its smoothness and glow over the last few years, I was just a few weeks away from doing something severe to make my skin look better again. I was researching everything from laser treatments, to micro-needling, to “baby-tox” (a small number of Botox injections on young women, used as a preventative anti-aging measure and to even out skin texture). I was ready to do something more drastic so that I could finally like the way my skin looked when I woke up and looked in the mirror each morning – luckily, I decided to try a chemical peel first.

What is a Chemical Peel?

A chemical peel is an acid solution that’s applied to the face to remove the outermost layers of skin, causing peeling over several days.As a result, the skin must re-generate and when it comes back in, it appears healthier, smoother, softer and has fewer imperfections like scars, dark spots, or fine lines. There are countless peels that exist now which all range from light, medium and deep. Lighter peels are performed by aestheticians while deeper ones are performed by dermatologists. But whichever peel you decide to go with, they’re all essentially meant to do one thing – to shed the outer layers of skin so the client is left with results that appear to have taken off years of damage.

I finally decided to try a light chemical peel in hopes that it would help me get the results that facials couldn’t. In hopes that it could smooth out my skin and get rid of the little bumps that I had all over, yet hadn’t come to the surface in years. And I hoped that I wouldn’t need to do something drastic to finally get my skin back. I made an appointment with Kelly Corbett from Spa by Kelly located on 1st Avenue North in St. Petersburg for a chemical peel several weeks back and prayed that this would be the solution.

This is my entire chemical peel experience for those of you who are interested in getting a peel done but have no idea what to expect as far as the process, shedding, and results. This is step- by-step and day-by-day, of what it’s like to get a Jessner Chemical Peel so you know before you book your own appointment.

The Jessner Chemical Peel

The Jessner Chemical Peel is one of the lighter peels offered, yet still provides fantastic results and leaves you with only a few days of serious shedding. It’s used to tighten pores, even skin tone, reduce fine lines and wrinkles, tighten skin, clear acne, and more.

PSA: If you’ve never gotten a peel before, it’s best to see an aesthetician and start with one of the lightest peels on the market to see how your skin reacts to it first. The one thing that peels are most known for – aside from excessive shedding – is leaving a burning sensation on the skin when applied. Deeper peels that are performed by dermatologists can be more painful, cause severe shedding and even blistering that could take weeks to recover from and leave your skin feeling tender, swollen, and sensitive.

Before Treatment

The Treatment

To begin my chemical peel process, I laid on the facial table in the spa and relaxed on the warm Amethyst Biomat. If you haven’t heard of these before, biomats use negative ion technology and the healing power of amethyst crystals to improve circulation and cardiovascular function, increase the metabolism, reduce pain, reduce joint pain and stiffness, and help the body feel relaxed and grounded (which I must say is essential if you’re about to lay on a table and have acid applied to your face).

The facial began with two cleanses and gentle exfoliation to prep the skin. After that my aesthetician, Kelly, placed a small-sized fan on my chest for me to hold throughout the process to reduce the burning sensation and then covered my eyes and applied Vaseline to the corners of my nose and my lips. Those areas are the most sensitive, so by applying Vaseline the areas are protected and won’t get red or agitated. She also made it a point to apply a layer of Vaseline on my eyebrows so that my microblading would be exposed to the peel and end up fading.

After I was ready, Kelly then applied the lightest peel first. As a safety measure, every aesthetican will begin any peel by first applying a lighter version to the skin and test how it reacts to the peel and how sensitive the skin is to the acid. Out of the entire process, I remember the first two layers of the peel the most because they hurt the most. I definitely felt a burning sensation on my skin, however, it didn’t last that long.

When Kelly applies chemical peels she usually applies 6 layers of the peel – MAX. She then spaces out each layer by several minutes to give the skin a break. However, neither one of us was expecting how well my skin would react to the peel. After the first two layers, my skin stopped burning altogether and I didn’t feel the peel at all. I just felt like she was applying water or serum to my face. There was no burning, no stinging, and no heat. We thought that I would only end up doing 4 or 5 layers of the peel and need to use the lightest peel each time. Luckily my skin was reacting so well that Kelly was able to apply 7 layers to the skin, 3 of which were the lighter version and 4 were stronger.

The only reaction my skin was having was a little bit of blanching between a few layers of the peel meaning that the acid had penetrated very deeply into the skin. As a result, I had several small pale white bumps on the skin. It’s a normal reaction when the acid gets in the deep layers. When that happened, Kelly would give my skin a little bit longer of a break in between layers and wait for the bumps to go away which only took a few minutes.

I’ve heard so many women complain about the healing and pain of chemical peels, that I was surprised that mine was so pain-free and easy. It could be because I have such light skin or many because I had a lighter peel performed as opposed to the intensive ones. I was expecting to leave with bright red skin immediately afterward, but to my surprise, my skin looked beautiful, glowing, and the healthiest it has for a long time.

At the end of my peel, Kelly followed it up with retinol and SPF on my skin to protect it on my way home. She instructed me to leave it on until I decided to go to bed that night. She gave me a post peel kit that I was supposed to use for at least a week afterward which included a cleaner, two skin serums that I was supposed to mix together with a drop of water, a thick moisturizer, and retinol that I would use weekly.

Bonus: Aesthetician Recommendations

  • Always wear SPF and avoid the sun
  • Use vitamin C and antioxidant serum every day
  • It’s better to get light peels more frequently than a strong more intense peel every several years. Intense peels can cause blistering or damage, and it’s best to do less harsh treatments but more frequently.
  • Get a facial monthly
  • Do your research on aestheticians. Florida requires the least amount of hours required to get your license. Most states require 800+ hours, we have 240 hours, and people are still trying to have that number lowered

For glowing skin and an even skin tone Kelly recommends:

Addresses skin discoloration and redness for irritation, sun-damage, and sensitive skin with a blend of botanical brighteners and vitamin C for an even skin complexion.

  • Image Bleaching Serum (2% HQ + Glycolic)

Sadly, this product has been discontinued and was recently removed off the company website and Amazon.

A concentrated combination of botanicals that visually address uneven skin tone, helps with anti-aging, gently exfoliates the skin, and smooths and softens the skin.

The Healing

I’ve been curious about getting chemical peels done for a very long time before finally getting it done myself. So I decided to take daily notes and photos to keep track of my skin for those who might be interested in trying a light peel themselves but aren’t sure about what to expect.

Immediately After Treatment

Day 1

Upon leaving the treatment, my skin looked wonderful. I was expecting it to look horrific after getting acid applied to my face for an hour, but surprisingly it looked just like I had gotten any other facial done – my skin was glowing, clear, and even.

  • Scars are not showing right after the peel
  • Skin is glowing
  • Skin is continuing to get redder throughout the day in the evening
  • Starting to feel dry and itchy, similar to a sunburn
  • Scars are looking redder than the rest of the skin and are more visible later in the day

Day 2

  • Skin is tight
  • Blackheads are coming to the surface
  • Bumps that I had no idea what they were have been apparently very, very small and deep blemishes in the skin that are all coming to the surface and forming blackheads and whiteheads
  • Skin is looking pretty red
  • Super nice to have an excuse not to wear makeup
  • Skin is starting to peel lightly around the nose at night

Day 3

  • Lots of peeling around the nose, some peeling around mouth
  • The rest of my skin looks super tight and also shiny like it’s about to start coming off
  • Skin is patchy – red and pink all over my face
  • The areas that have peeled on my chin are baby soft
  • I can’t stop softly rubbing my mouth and chin area because the skin is so smooth

Day 4

  • Shedding moved to lower cheeks and also in the space in between my brows
  • The skin is so soft underneath, I’m definitely going to be doing this again in 6 months
  • Skin is red and pink in the areas that peeled
  • Shedding is continuing to get heavier throughout the day
  • Skin looks younger and tighter than it normally does
  • Pretty itchy and dry
  • I have a few small blemishes coming to the surface throughout this shedding process

Day 5

  • Skin is very itchy
  • A second layer is starting to peel
  • Shedding has moved up to my hairline and the edges of my face
  • Skin is still pink

Day 6

  • Even skin tone now
  • Skin is still very dry
  • Skin is still very itchy
  • Skin feels sensitive, especially if I scratch it
  • Scratching even very lightly is a bit painful, causing a sharp pain in the area no matter how gentle I am
  • A second layer is slowing peeling in little flakes all over my face

Day 7

  • Skin is dry and needs a good amount of moisturizer, I started applying moisturizer three times a day instead of just two
  • Peeling is no longer noticeable except for a few small flakes
  • Skin is still sensitive especially if I try to scratch it

By the end of the week, my skin was almost completely back to normal. It was a nuisance shedding so much and it was gross having skin all over the place, but the serious shedding lasted only about 3 days. The most difficult parts of the healing process for me was how itchy and dry my skin was, but not being able to alleviate the itching without it hurting. Aside from that, once my shedding started to move up toward my hairline, the dead skin was stuck in my hair all day long, but it was nearly impossible to get it out.

Results

And now the best part- the results!  After two weeks my skin was back to normal there were no more signs of peeling or pain and I’m finally I’m left with the skin I was hoping for when I first made my appointment.

My absolute favorite part about getting this chemical peel is that all of the little bumps that were on my cheeks and on my forehead above my brows have come to the surface and disappeared. This peel literally made my skin shed like a snake. It was a such a deep exfoliation that it was able to get rid of blemishes that were so far below the surface they stayed for years. I didn’t even realize that many of the little bumps on my skin were just deep blemishes. It had even stumped both dermatologists and aestheticians as to what they were. No amount of exfoliating or popping has been able to get these little bumps to go away, but within the first 24 hours, they had come to the surface and I was able to pop them. For that reason alone, I would do the chemical peel again. No amount of scrubs or facials could be this effective removing dead skin cells and purging the skin of bacteria the way the peel did.

My skin is also much smoother overall and I don’t have all the texture that I used to have on my cheeks. My deep scars are less visible than they were before. I think the peel has helped regenerate new skin cells in the divots of my skin and essentially buff the surface of my skin so it’s less noticeable. Because I have such great success with my peel, I’ll be going in for another light peel at the six-month mark. Kelly normally recommends doing a peel once a year, but because it was my first peel, doing two within the first year could help with scarring and acne without stripping my skin too much.

I loved getting this treatment done and seeing how quickly the results appeared before my eyes in the mirror that week. I’ve become a huge believer in this beauty treatment and can’t wait to go back and see my next results. I highly recommend this treatment for anyone who is trying to fix issues that no amount of serums, face masks, and facials have been able to correct. If you’re interested in trying out a light peel with Kelly, feel free to check out her website and contact here at SpaByKelly.com.

Thanks so much for reading!

As always let me know what you think in the comments! Have you had a chemical peel done? What it light, medium, or deep? Where did you go to get it done? What was your experience like? Did you see any benefits yourself from getting it done?

And if you like what you read here, be sure to scroll all the way to the bottom, click that “+” symbol, and subscribe where it says “Follow blog via email.” You’ll have all weekly blog posts sent right to you!

Photos by Ray Reyes @rocketsciencephoto.