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.

I Want To Start a Blog But… 14 Limiting Beliefs of New Bloggers + How to Overcome Them

Digital Dilemma, Self-Help

If you’re reading this blog post today, I take it that you would also like to be a blogger yourself. But you can’t bring yourself to do it for whatever reason. Trust me, I’m not a stranger to the number of excuses you create for yourself when you’re afraid to take the leap and follow your dream, especially when part of your dream involves blogging. I wanted to be a blogger every single day for over FIVE YEARS before I finally launched this website. And in those five years, I think I came up with every excuse in the world as to why I couldn’t do it.

While blogging may look like tons of fun as a reader, it can be SUPER intimidating at first to start your own blog. Part of the reason is that there’s so much that you have to learn if you want to be a “successful” blogger. But the main reason why I think it’s so intimidating to take it up is that you have to be vulnerable in a very public way. You’re not just sharing a photo of yourself online with a quick caption. You have to write from the heart and share details of yourself that maybe no one even knows about you (at least if you want to be a personal blogger). 

Maybe you’re in that same place right now, that place I was in for five years coming up with every excuse I could think of to prevent me from embarrassing myself in front of everyone I knew by creating a site and sharing the real me. So this blog is for you: the person out there who desperately wants to be a blogger or even a YouTuber and is scared out of their mind to take the leap and just do it. These are the top 14 limiting beliefs of first-time bloggers, followed by my advice at the end on how to overcome them. Let’s get into it!

1. I’m too late

If you’re like me, one of the top excuses for holding yourself back could be, “But I’m too late!” I get it, it’s almost 2020 and it seems like everyone and their mother has a blog at this point. So how could we possibly be successful when we’re just starting, right? Here’s the thing, I do believe that content creators who started blogs and YouTube Channels YEARS ago, did have such an advantage. Not many people were doing it back then. There wasn’t this crazy amount of content like there is now. It was far easier to stand out, get noticed, get engagement, and attract followers and subscribers. The people who started blogging back when no one understood it were smart.

However, just because you didn’t start back then, it doesn’t mean that you can’t be successful if you’re just starting now. That’s like saying you can’t possibly open up a successful business NOW because you’re too late. Why start a restaurant or a coffee shop now when McDonalds and Starbucks already exists, right? No. You would never say that.

Here’s the thing: yes there are super successful bloggers out there who have gone on to create podcasts, books, and businesses left and right, but being a new blogger has one major advantage that those big-time bloggers don’t have. Have you noticed that in the last couple of years there’s this disgust and animosity towards influencers? People everywhere went from LOVING influencers to HATING them almost instantly and blaming them for body image issues, pressure for likes, and low self-esteem. I think part of this is because of jealousy: people wish they were one of the lucky few who get to live a cushy life just for posting about themselves online. But the main reason I think this happened is because people lost touch with influencers and bloggers. They grew too big, developed a perfect brand, and posted ads online weekly. Not to mention their life always looks SO freaking perfect. The average person doesn’t connect with that anymore.

People are sick of “influencers” and big-time bloggers. They want something real, authentic, and fresh. That’s where you come in. Starting a blog NOW isn’t a bad thing. It’s actually good because you’ve been on social media for several years at this point. Your friends and followers know you, they like you, and they see you as a REAL person. Just because you’re not a popular blogger right now, doesn’t mean that people won’t be attracted to what you have to say. You’ll be starting in a new wave of influencers that people trust and connect with more.

2. I don’t know ___(fill in the blank)___

“But Heather! I don’t know jack sh*t about SEO, or designing graphics, or getting readers, or utilizing Pinterest, or building an email list!”

I always say that building a website is very much like starting a business. You have to learn all of these odd things that you never even thought you would have to do. You have to learn how to write, design graphics, create new web pages, get more readers, build a social media following, learn to code, learn SEO (search engine optimization), create automated emails, and so much more. It’s a whole thing. But guess what? No one knew any of that crap before starting a blog. It’s impossible to know how to do any of those things without ever having done them before! You can’t possibly know how to do SEO or code when you’ve never done it or been taught it before. 

Let me fill you in on a secret, I don’t know most of that crap either. It’s embarrassing how little I know about that side of blogging. I’m two years into this and I still have SO much to learn and master. I just write because I want to! I finally stopped telling myself that I had to know everything there was to know about blogging before I created my website because that mindset is bullsh*t. It’s beyond ridiculous that we tell ourselves we have to be a genius at something before we’ve even begun. You learn those things as you go. You learn them on the job. 

I actually just connected with two different women last week who are going to teach me SEO, automated emails, and how to create ebooks. I’m still learning! But the fact that I’m HERE, showing up, and writing every week proves to people that I want to learn and makes them want to help me! These things take time, but you will find help and learn these things eventually. 

3. I don’t have a photographer 

One of the big reasons why I wouldn’t let myself start a blog for so long is because I didn’t have a photographer. All of the “successful” bloggers have FLAWLESS photos that seem never-ending. The concepts are incredible, they have tons of props and outfits, and they regularly stage photos for things like holidays. For that reason, the photography aspect of blogging could be the most intimidating. People like photos and they expect high-quality now.

But this is another limiting belief of new bloggers because we expect that of ourselves right off the bat. We expect the website to look incredible, even when it’s brand spanking new and we have no experience. But I can say with absolute certainty that you will find a photographer eventually. 

How am I so sure? Well, there’s this magical thing called synchronicity! It’s when the universe lines people, places, and things up that appear as simple coincidences but are all happening for a reason. I just so happened to meet my friend and photographer, Ray Reyes, through a photographer that I used to work with in St. Augustine who simply wanted to see Ray and I work together. Ray was looking to get out of a creative funk, and I was looking for help with my website. When we met up for coffee, neither one of us knew how close we would become or how much we would end up helping each other out over the last year. And as you might know by now, I’m a believer in the Law of Attraction. I believe that if you’re working on your passion, thinking about it, and dreaming about it, the universe will draw exactly what you need to you like a magnet. That’s exactly what I believe happened with Ray and me. Neither one of us went searching for the other, we ending up connecting accidentally and it’s been a creative match made in heaven. (I’m picturing him reading this right now and laughing at me).

If you’re not into a spiritual explanation, think about it like this. When you’re a creative person who is working on projects like blogs and talking about them with other people, you will start to meet people who share the same interests as you or want to help you. Creatives LOVE collaborating and helping each other. After all, no one follows their artistic passions to make money. Hell no. Any creator will tell you that they do it just because they love it. I’m just now starting to build up a network of other creatives and entrepreneurs so that we can support each other, collaborate, and help each other grow. It didn’t happen overnight, but it will happen for you in time. So don’t panic if you don’t have someone like a photographer to help you before you’ve even built a website. Build the site, start writing, keep an open mind, and network with people. You’ll have help soon. 

In the meantime, use things like Canva to create graphics or use websites that allow you to use photos for free. Whatever you do don’t EVER pick some random image off Google to slap on your blog. There are actually people that post photos of Google and wait for bloggers to steal them and use on their own websites, JUST so they could sue them. I recently read a story about a woman who was sued $9,000 because she used a random photo of a pepper on her blog post.

4. It’s scary! What will people think of me?

If you’re reading this blog post today, there’s a good chance that one of the reasons you’re holding yourself back from creating your blog (or even YouTube Channel) is because you’re scared about what other people will think of you. I understand this fear more than you could know. This is a very real and reasonable fear. When you’re first starting a blog, it’s awkward as all hell. You create this website for the first time and all of your friends, family, and followers go look at it and wonder, “What the hell is this? Why do they have a blog all of the sudden?” Or “Oh God, not ANOTHER blogger.”

Not only is blogging something that is blasting you out of your comfort zone but if it’s a personal blog, then it also forces you to open up and be vulnerable on a very public platform. A platform that any co-worker, friend, neighbor, or acquaintance can find. After the first several personal, introspective blog posts, you might even be left with a vulnerability hangover – that rush of shame and regret after opening up and sharing your weaknesses with others. But just like anything else in the world, it gets easier the more you do it.

Hell, I shared pictures of my face after a chemical peel where I was shedding my skin like a snake! Check out my blog post, The Jessner Chemical Peel, if you’re interested in learning about my chemical peel experience, results, and recommendations. Or hey! Remember that time when I opened up about how I’d been experiencing depression for all of 2019 even WHILE being a self-help blogger. Make sure to check out that blog, “I’m Seeing a Therapist + How I Discovered I Had Depression & Why I’m Thankful For It,” If you’d like to learn about that.

When I first started Lost Online, I used to only share posts about social media and was scared to open up and show the real, unfiltered ME. I was so afraid of people knowing the real me – The real Heather who struggles with self-sabotage, lost my hair at 19 from birth control, and believes in things like universal signs and the Law of Attraction. Now, look how far I’ve come! I would have never in a million years imagined that I could talk about those things so publicly. I was so scared that people would learn all of this information about me and end up thinking, “This girl is f*cking weird.” But you know, if they do think that, they don’t tell me. The only messages I receive are positive ones.

The point is, anything is new and scary, foreign, and uncomfortable in the beginning, but with each post, you gain more and more confidence. You find your voice, you discover what you’re passionate about, and you even start to get messages from people sharing how inspiring you are to them! As I’m writing this, I just got an email from someone who wanted to reach out and tell me that my blog is “amazeballs.” So don’t be scared of what other people think! There are millions of people out there who share the same beliefs, interests, and hobbies as you do. THOSE people will become your readers. And if your blog is not someone’s cup of tea, they won’t read it! 

5. I can’t make money blogging

Another major limiting belief that holds people back from starting a blog is that they have NO idea how to make money doing it. I’m sure you’re familiar with that recurring thought that pops up into your head saying, “Why should I start a blog now? I have no idea how I’m going to earn an income from this.” I have a few points I want you to takeaway to stop this thought from eating away at you.

First things first, you don’t have to. You don’t have to make money doing this. You can simply start a blog just because you want to and just because it’s fun. It doesn’t have to be anything more than that. It’s important to understand that this can just be a hobby. You shouldn’t feel pressure to be the next Jenna Kutcher because you’re starting a blog. The important thing is that you like it and it brings you joy. Just as the book “Big Magic” taught me, our creative projects don’t have to pay our bills.

The second point you should take away is that there are several ways to make money as a blogger, you’ll just have to discover which ones you want to do. You can email companies asking for sponsored posts, you could partner with brands and create campaigns, you could create a product line, you could sell ebooks, you could earn money through advertisements on your website, or you could use your website to attract clients (depending on what you write about or what business you have). And if you’re struggling with the financial side of it like I am, hire a business coach to help you take the next steps and earn some money! Because if you do want to earn a living doing this work, it’s more than possible. 

6. I don’t know what I would write about 

One common limiting belief that I hear from other women who want to start blogging is one that I also struggled with for those five years before I started Lost Online: “I have no idea what to write about.” That belief is what made me start several blogs that went nowhere because I was trying to be someone else. 

I was trying to write posts that I thought people expected of young women, which were the beauty-related posts. I remember the first blog I ever wrote back in my sophomore year of college was a teeth whitening recipe! At the time I only knew of beauty bloggers and YouTubers, there wasn’t this big self-help and spirituality wave of bloggers that I see now… or maybe I just didn’t know there was. This belief of mine that I had to be a beauty blogger in order to blog kept me from discovering what I really cared to write about. 

Until one day walking around my college campus, I finally had enough. I was sick of wasting time telling myself that I couldn’t do something I had dreamed about for five years, that I asked myself one simple question: “What could I write about for a year straight and never get bored?” Instantly I answered, “Digital media and the effects it has on the developing mind.” I had gotten “Lost Online” and wanted to help other people navigate the challenges that come from spending most of our time scrolling online.

I started writing about that, and before I knew it, I was starting to write more personal posts and get into the self-help realm. Now my blog has become about self-help and wellness to help people navigate all of the challenges that come with our modern-day lifestyle. But that wouldn’t have happened unless I had started writing about SOMETHING that I cared about, even if that wasn’t going to be the concept I stuck with forever. And guess what? You won’t stick with that concept forever! Your blog is a reflection of you and it’s going to change as you grow. So don’t get too focused on what you think you should be writing about, and just write. Write about what you care about right now, and it will all come together.

7. I don’t know where to learn about blogging

The most stressful thing about blogging is that there’s no blogging and content creation school to go to where people teach your SEO, coding, graphic design, how to make online ads, how to build an email list, how to create a sales funnel, a trailer for yourself, products, a podcast, ebooks, how to network with other other creatives, etc. It can feel like you’re all alone. You’re surrounded by this sea of questions and meanwhile, every blogger that you know of is getting brand sponsorships, clients, and creating massive amounts of content. Let me know in the comments if you agree!

I went to school for advertising, public relations, and communications and I was never taught ANY of those things. Sure I was taught about the IMPORTANCE of SEO, email lists, social media ads, and newsletters, but did any of my classes teach me how to do those things? Nope. It can be a lot to learn on your own. But don’t freak out. (We can’t have both of us freaking out at the same time.)

There are a couple of ways I’ve learned to help me through all of the confusion and stress that comes up when trying to start a blog and a business. One thing that I started doing was listening to podcasts. Yes, videos and articles can help you learn about blogging, but podcasts are BETTER. The reason being is that there are podcasts where the hosts do nothing but interview bloggers on how they found success and made money doing what they love. In one podcast you can learn all about how someone found success, hear about the technical side of blogging, and get step by step breakdown of how that person became a full-time blogger. 

The next thing that’s been incredibly helpful with this limiting belief is networking. I recently went to a Mastermind in Tampa where I met about a dozen women who are all entrepreneurs, authors, bloggers, health coaches, etc. I was surrounded by these women who all wanted to create a career for themselves doing what they love and be their own boss. They were incredible women and of course, they all had their own limiting beliefs, struggles, weaknesses, etc. And what we all realized that weekend was how much we could all help each other. We all have skills that someone else needs help in. I ended up connecting with all of them on Instagram and now I have coffee dates with a few of the girls to learn more about how we can support each other in our dreams and help each other with the tasks that we struggle with. I HIGHLY encourage you to go to events like this and meet people. You’ll find so much support and connection and be able to learn about things in person and ask in-depth questions. 

The last thing that’s helped me with this limiting belief is hiring a business coach. By hiring a coach, I now have someone to teach me how to do things like create ebooks or automated emails AND to break these things into baby steps so that it all gets done and doesn’t seem so scary and intimidating. My business coach also has a network of women who she can turn to ask questions and get resources that I need if we’re ever stumped.

8. I don’t know what to call it

Isn’t it funny how when you want to do something like start a blog, you can spend weeks obsessing about a name when in reality there are FAR more important things you should focus on? It’s kind of like whenever I had a test while I was growing up, I would suddenly get the urge to work out or clean my room whenever it was time to study. Obsessing over the name is just another fun way that our brains discover as a way to procrastinate. It’s something that we can blame for having not started when the real thing that’s holding us back is fear. 

Yes, the blog name is important, but it’s not THAT important. I drove myself crazy trying to come up with names for years. I was so caught up on it without realizing that the name could be changed at any time. The blog name is NOT set in stone, especially if you’re brand new! So don’t let that small detail prevent you from moving forward. If you know what you want to write about, spend a day (ONE day) brainstorming ideas. And if it’s a personal blog, don’t be afraid to have your name be the name of your website! It’s your personal brand and personal blog, you don’t have to reinvent the wheel. 

9. I’m not a good writer

I’ve heard several different women share with me at this point that they fear they’re not good enough of a writer to have their own blog. They find their writing embarrassing and usually think back to their high school English paper grades which instilled this belief that they don’t know how to write. But to those people I always say, “I don’t think I’m a good writer either!”

Sure, I got A’s and B’s on papers when I was growing up, but I wouldn’t consider myself particularly GOOD at writing, especially when it comes to creative writing. I’d say my writing is “decent” or “ok.” Yet anyone who reads my blog tells me that I’m a great writer. I always find it funny when I get that feedback from people because I’m pretty sure my old English teachers would cry if they read my blog. I don’t always use correct grammar, I have no idea how to do AP style, I curse frequently, I write “lol” in posts, and I often start sentences with words like “and,” “but,” or “because.” 

So there you have it, I don’t think I’m a good writer and I don’t think you have to be a “good” writer either. To write a blog, you just have to be able to write conversationally. That’s why people like my writing. It’s not because I’m JK Rowling. It’s because my writing is real, it’s easy to read, and it’s the same words that would come out of my mouth if you and I were talking about this over coffee instead of you reading this. You don’t have to be a fabulous writer to pursue this, you only have to be able to write conversationally and ENJOY writing.

10. I’m not interesting enough

One thing that really held me back from pursuing any form of content creation is that I thought that I wasn’t interesting enough. And if you haven’t started a blog yet, there’s a good chance that you might feel this way too. That you’re somehow boring or ordinary and that people won’t want to hear what you have to say. So let’s shut this limiting belief done immediately. YOU ARE INTERESTING. I promise.

It doesn’t matter if rude people called you basic, or boring, or lame while you were growing up. It doesn’t matter what that one person who’s just too cool for you has to say. You are interesting. To readers out there, you’re one of the most interesting people on the planet. You may not have a solid group around you who cares about the same topics you do or is as excited about them as you are, but your future readers will be. And they’ll think you’re amazing for having started a blog and written about a topic that they care about too. 

I used to think that I had to look a certain way for people to be interested in me or care about what I had to say. I thought I’d have to have bright colored hair, tons of tattoos and piercings, and a hipster wardrobe for people to think I was interesting and want to read something I had written. These are all limiting beliefs. None of it is true. No one is going to be thinking, “This girl (or guy) isn’t interesting enough to write a blog.” People will connect with you because of your personality and passions. What matters is that you write about what you care about, create helpful content, and come up with interesting concepts. 

11. There’s already people who blog about the same thing

I think there’s a good chance that this could be the number one limiting belief of new bloggers. Because if you want to start a blog, I bet you can think of several other bloggers who write about the exact same things that you want to write about.

Yes, everything has already been done before, BUT it hasn’t been done by you. Everything has already been said before, BUT it hasn’t been said by you. While other people may be writing the same thing as you and have found success and subscribers, the way that you relay your message and share your story will resonate with people differently. You’re going to attract people that resonate with you as a person, who may not connect with the other bloggers who are out there now.

If you’re still not convinced, think about it this way: There are thousands, if not millions of self-help and wellness bloggers out there, and yet here you are on MY website. You could have gone anywhere, but at this point, you probably subscribe to my blog, relate to me and my story, and enjoy the way that I write. Something about my blog resonates with YOU. But I’m sure you could find similar blogs out there about this same topic. There are plenty of readers to go around.

12. I have to take a course first 

I’ve noticed that with people who want to be in wellness or content creation there’s this limiting belief that we never know enough information to start. We undervalue ourselves so much and think that we just need one more class, one more certificate, or one more program to finally start. Before I started Lost Online, I got into my head that I had to take an SEO course, a coding course, a writing course, and a photography course to start blogging – Which is all 110% FALSE. 

You are smart. You have everything you need right now to create a WordPress website and start writing about what you care about. You don’t need another certificate or program to try to prove your worth to you. It’s just a fancy and expensive way that we self-sabotage, undervalue ourselves, and procrastinate. If you’re waiting to start a blog until you finish an extra course or program, know that it’s not going to suddenly give you the courage to spread your wings and do what you want to do.

If there’s a program that you’re dying to be in and you genuinely want to do like the Institute for Integrative Nutrition (IIN) was for me, then do it. But if you’re telling yourself that you can’t start blogging because you need a certificate first, you’re mistaken. That certificate is just a way to put off starting today. 

13. What if it never amounts to anything?

Of course, no list of limiting beliefs is complete without the fear of crashing and burning, right? Another top limiting belief that new bloggers have is the overwhelming feeling that they’re going to be unsuccessful and that the entire blog would be nothing but a humiliating waste of time if you can’t generate enough traffic or make money eventually.

Let me tell you, I would rather pursue my dream and “fail” by not making money at it than to not pursue it at all. Sure it seems trendy and cool to be “a blogger” and make money off of your own website and social media platforms, but it doesn’t HAVE to amount to anything. Your blog doesn’t have to reach 20 million readers and generate enough income to pay your bills. What’s important is that you like it and you have a good time doing it!

No one will judge you if you don’t become an incredibly popular, full-time blogger. Why? Because you’re the only one who’s setting those expectations for yourself. And if I’m being completely honest, people will have no idea whether it’s considered to be “successful” or not. They’ll assume that as long as the blog is going, you’re kicking *ss at it! So who cares if nothing big ever comes out of it as long as it makes you happy and you like doing it?

14. I need a huge readership to earn money as a blogger

And last but not least, the ever so popular myth that you have to have a giant readership to make money as a blogger. Not true. Remember what I said before about how people don’t connect with mega-influencers anymore? People are attracted to PEOPLE! They’re going to buy products and read posts from someone they like, resonate with, and admire now more-so than the established influencers. And in 2019 and 2020, BRANDS KNOW THIS. More companies are shifting their focus and working with “micro-influencers.” Micro-influencers are people with a following of several hundred or several thousand followers. The reason being that these followers know and trust the influencer more. It’s a carefully curated group of followers with similar interests as you. 

You no longer need a huge following to earn money as a blogger. You need a small, loyal fanbase. These people are far more likely to listen to what you have to say, care about you, trust you, and want to support you. They’re more likely to buy your products, become your clients, read your posts, etc. So let go of this belief that you have to be a super famous blogger to make a living!

My Top Advice for Beginner Bloggers: 

I hope you enjoyed my top 14 limiting beliefs of new bloggers, and learned how to work through each belief to finally move forward and built the website you’ve been wanting to for so long. I created this post today because I’ve heard so many girls say to me, “I wish I could start a blog, but…” followed by their limiting belief. It makes me sad whenever I hear girls share their beliefs with me that it’s too late, or they don’t know something, or they don’t know how to make money. Because I don’t have all the answers either, but here I am writing a blog. And I want so badly to help them gain the confidence that they need to finally take the leap and start their own blog. I’m hoping that the advice I shared above helped get rid of those beliefs that keep us paralyzed from even starting on our dreams.

Now that you have some more confidence back and don’t feel so intimidated about blogging, I wanted to leave you with my TOP pieces of advice for starting your blog. This advice is designed for the person who is ready to take the leap and create their website so you can go into it with the right mindset. 

1. Just start and get used to it

If you really want to start a blog but keep holding yourself back, I encourage you to go to WordPress, or Squarespace, or Wix right now, and just START a website. Because oftentimes just starting the website and picking a domain and template is the hardest part. Kind of like how getting dressed for the gym is harder than actually going to the gym. It seems like a bigger deal than it is, but once you get started it’s fun and you don’t mind it!

Just start the website now, for yourself (not for anyone else). Start it without any expectations and without any plan to share it with people. Just build the website and start writing in it FOR YOU so you can at least get used to it. That’s the best piece of advice I could give you. Why? Because you don’t know if you even like blogging yet! You haven’t even played around with it, found your tone, or uncovered your core concept. Just build the site without any expectations, write something, and see what you think. Get used to having a blog and get used to writing. Don’t try to go full steam ahead and try to be the best blogger in the world immediately. Because the truth is that you might hate doing it. The first blog I started smacked me with the realization that blogging was a lot of work and required a lot of time to write, and I wasn’t ready for it. I didn’t want to do extra writing at that point in my life and I didn’t even know who I was enough to write to an audience. By the time I started Lost Online I felt ready and was super excited to sit down and write regular blog posts. So just start the blog and see what happens. Because you may enjoy it, or honestly you may hate it. But you won’t know until you try.

2. Don’t share it right away!

I see this same mistake again and again and again in my Instagram feed. So often people start a blog, write the “About Me” page, share it ALL OVER social media, write ONE blog post, and never touch it again. It makes me cringe when people do that. 

There was a time when I counted eight different girls from my school who all started a blog in the same semester, none of whom published more than two blogs. And that’s fine! They didn’t like it! But why blast it out to everyone you know on social media when you don’t even know if you really want to have a blog and put in the work? 

Just because you created a website, doesn’t mean you have to share it with everyone immediately. I built several websites before this one and they went nowhere because I wasn’t committed to them and hadn’t found my voice or my core concept. I’m so glad that I didn’t subject everyone to all of my trial run blogs before I made this one. Because if I did, I don’t think people would have taken this website seriously. Even when I had Lost Online, I didn’t share it publicly until I had the blog for nine months and published over a dozen blog posts on it. 

I highly recommend doing this same thing and waiting until you have about 10 posts up before you share it with everyone you know online. It makes it FAR less awkward. When you share a blog with a good amount of content on it for the first time, it actually impresses people. It shows that you cared and you put a lot of thought and work into it and your followers will be excited and interested in it.

Taking that time to put some thought into it, find your voice, practice writing, and put some touches on the website is what will set you apart from the girls who get eye rolls for starting a blog and makes you a girl who gets subscribers.

3. View your blog as a hobby and/or portfolio

As I mentioned before, I wanted to start a blog for years before I started this one. My big issue with starting it was I had no idea how to become “successful” and I was putting WAY too much pressure on my blogs from the beginning. I was expecting my websites to be flawless and look like Jenna Kutcher’s. I was expecting myself to have massive engagement right away and brand sponsors left and right.

Then I ended up taking a digital media class in college where my professor felt so strongly about the importance of having a blog as a communication major. She told us that employers love to see that communications students have a blog for many different reasons. It helps them get to know YOU, what you care about, and what kind of person you are beyond a LinkedIn Profile, it also acts as a portfolio, and best of all it shows that you’re a hard worker. She told us over and over again that semester that having a blog is the best thing you can to do help you get a job after graduation. For employers, it shows that you’re somebody who come backs every single week to write an article without anyone telling you to. That one habit proves that you’re committed, that you’re a hard worker, and that you have a project to do in your free time (you’re not just another college student who spends all their free time drinking).

When my professor shared that piece of knowledge with me, that was the exact advice I needed. It was the perfect logic so that I could trick my brain and get out of this mindset that I had to be successful at blogging. Instead, I started to approach blogging as a portfolio and a hobby. I was working on a project that would make me hirable after graduation and I discovered that I loved writing for pleasure and hitting that gorgeous blue “Publish” button whenever I could. 

So if you’re brand new to blogging, my advice to you is the same that my professor gave me back in college. Create a blog as a portfolio and a hobby, not as a way to become the next superstar blogger. It’ll take the pressure off you and allow you to have fun in the beginning and get into the habit of writing.

Side Note: I also don’t want to forget that my digital media professor was right! My blog did help me land jobs after college. I put my blog on my resume, LinkedIn, and Indeed and every interview that I went to the interviewer told me that they read my blog and that they were impressed with it. They also would always say, “Oh I loved that blog that you wrote about…” It was a great conversation starter and they were obviously impressed. It also helped me connect with employers on personal topics like spirituality, self-help, and social media use so I’ve had deeper conversations during job interviews because of it.

4. Give yourself some grace

My next piece of advice to you, and probably the most important piece of advice, is to give yourself some grace. Know that no one has ever known how to do this work right off the bat. Blogging is a completely unique and brand new career path, and sadly there’s no blogger school that you can attend to learn everything that you need to know. 

So before you get yourself in a frenzy and try to do it all at once (before you pull a Heather) understand that starting a blog is one massive learning process. You have to learn how to design graphics, get readers, utilize SEO, get engagement on social media, create automated emails, create a downloadable freebie, etc. It’s no small task. So give yourself some grace and know that it’s going to take a LONG time before you figure it all out. The best thing you can do is relax about it, take your time, and know that it will all get done eventually.

5. Wherever you are in the process, that’s completely fine

Whether you haven’t started your blog yet, started a blog and didn’t do anything with it, or have had a blog going for years – that’s completely fine. Don’t get wrapped up in where someone else is at with their website or where you think you should be with it. Be proud of whatever stage you’re at! 

Maybe you just figured out your name for the site, or just created a WordPress or Squarespace account, or started building your site, or if you just posted your first blog or your 100th blog – be proud of where you are in your blogging journey. Because I promise you, someone is looking at you right now wishing that they were as far ahead as you. So celebrate every single one of those tiny milestones because each one of them is amazing and is progress towards your long-term goals.

6. Don’t be afraid to ask for help

My last final piece of advice before I wrap up this post today is to not be afraid to ask for help with your website. The longer you have a blog the more work you’ll realize that it is. It’s like starting up a business. No one can do it on their own. That’s why all of the “successful,” full-time bloggers have an entire team of people behind them. So when the time comes, don’t be afraid to ask someone for help. 

You can do this by hiring an intern or a business coach, hiring a creative from Upwork, hiring a social media strategist, networking with other content creators and learning how you can help each other, and attending masterminds and conferences. You won’t be able to do this all on your own forever, so don’t be afraid to ask for help ESPECIALLY if you find yourself getting burnt out or really loathing one part of blogging. For example, I can’t stand creating Pinterest graphics, so my coach and I are working on finding someone to create Pinterest graphics and captions for me. You want to make sure that this type of work is fun, exciting, and energizing for you because if you’re hating parts of it and getting burnt out, you’re going to either give up or lose readers because they’ll be able to tell when you’re not enjoying the process.

Thanks for coming to Lost Online!

As always, thank you so much for coming to Lost Online. I know exactly what it’s to be on the other side of starting a blog and having your mind filled with limiting beliefs as to why you can’t do it. My only wish is that someone out there read this and finally broke through that fear-based mindset and started their very own blog. Let me know if you do! I would LOVE to hear from you. 

Before you head out, remember to let me know your thoughts in the comments! Do you want to start a blog? How long have you been wanting to start a blog? What do you want your blog to be about? Did any of these limiting beliefs sound familiar to you? Are there any limiting beliefs that you have that I didn’t mention above? Which piece of advice helped you the most? If you could come up with your own advice for new bloggers, what would it be?

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 I Quit my Full-Time Job to Eat, Sleep, Blog, Repeat

Lifestyle

Yep, that’s right. I quit my stable, full-time, job to become a blogger! You must think I’m batsh*t crazy. Maybe I am. Like I’ve said on my Home Page, I’m one of those crazy nut-jobs who believes you should do what makes you happy over what makes you fit in because our time on earth should be spent doing the things that fill us up and make our souls shine. It should be spent fulfilling our life’s purpose.

Too often people live their lives for a paycheck. They’re so scared to not have stability, or a 401k, or a healthy retirement fund. And I get all of that! Trust me, I panic about all of those things at least once a day. Because the thought of not having control and that fear-based mindset we have about old age, finances, and retirement, is scary.

And you know what’s even scarier than that? The thought of disappointing other people. That’s truly what holds people back the most in life. Because even if YOU know that you would happy quitting your corporate job to move out west, live in a tiny house, and raise some chickens (that was literally the first random example that popped into my head), you know that it would bother your family or friends. You know there would be people who question you and argue your decision even if it has absolutely nothing to do with them.

There’s all of this external pressure to be a certain way from the people in our lives and society at large. The thought of giving up the lifestyle that you’ve had your entire life could be paralyzing. But that fear-based mentality is what traps people in a lifestyle they’re actually miserable in for most of their lives. It may give them a cozy retirement, a Mercedes Benz, designer bags, and fewer rude comments from family, but in the end, it costs them their happiness.

That was the main reason for leaving my full-time job behind. I never wanted that to happen to me. But even still, I know that there are people who question this decision. And I also know that there are other people out there who need some inspiration and motivation. People who aren’t fulfilled with the life they’re leading and need to know that there’s someone else out there who knows how they feel. This is why I left my job to become a blogger…

1. You only get one life

The thing that terrifies me a million times more than finances or disappointing people is realizing at the end of my life that I wasted it. That I spent my life consumed with being the person that I thought I should be rather than being the person I’ve been dreaming of becoming since I was a little kid. There would be nothing in the world that could fill me with as much regret than choosing to NOT live my life on my terms. For that reason, even if I completely fail as a blogger and don’t amount to anything, I’ll still be happy that I did it. I will never regret this decision because I know that I had to at least TRY to give myself peace of mind. Not trying would be a decision that would haunt me, and it would always leave me wondering, “Why didn’t I at least go for it? Why did I hold myself back?”

2. This has always been my dream

Ever since I was a teenager I wanted to create content for a living. I dreamed of creating blog posts and YouTube videos so much that I didn’t even see myself doing anything else. Even though I would tell people my “plan” after college, I never truly believed what I was telling them. While I might have always shared that I was going into public relations, I honestly didn’t see myself living that life and going through with it. But I always saw myself doing this.

Call me crazy, but I believe that there’s a deeper, spiritual reason for this. I believe that if you have these life-long aspirations, they’re not meaningless. I think that we have these dreams ingrained in us because it’s what we are meant to do in this lifetime. If you spend your time fantasizing about a certain life or accomplishment for years and years, it’s your soul’s purpose to do that. These things aren’t random.

The day that I first heard someone explain this is the day that I realized it didn’t make sense for me to do ANYTHING else. It seemed absurd to continue living my life doing any other work but this. To work 40 hours a week doing something that made me unhappy while ignoring that internal voice that told me every day, “This isn’t what you want to do, Heather!” I bet you have your own dream like this. Maybe it has to do with your career, or maybe it’s something else like booking a trip. But whatever that nagging dream is for you that bugs you in the same way as those little devil and angel characters that appear on people’s shoulders in movies, you are meant to do it! Why else would you spend 1 or 2 or 5 or 10 years dreaming about that thing? It’s not random, it’s your soul’s mission.

3. To build a foundation for myself

I know some people probably think I’m insane for leaving a job to start a blog and become a health coach. I continually heard the suggestion that I should wait a year, or a least a couple of years before leaving my job to pursue my dream, that way I would save some money, get a raise, and earn a promotion. That is the option that makes the most sense financially and the option that our society considers to be smart and appropriate. But I left when I did because I knew the importance of starting early.

It makes much more sense to start working on your life-long goal SOONER rather than later. Why? Because overnight success takes TEN YEARS. Overnight success happens by working at something little by little every day, week, month, and year. These things take time. A lot of time, I should add. 

So I knew that if my end goal was to be a writer, blogger, speaker, and YouTuber within the self-help and wellness industry, it’s going to be a LONG time before I get there. It’s going to take building a solid foundation for myself first. The very early stages of following your dream are the most important and they set the stage for everything that’s to come by preparing you and teaching you vital lessons along the way. For that reason, I knew that for me it just made more sense to start while I was younger.

I also had to consider that my dream was much different than most people. My life-long dream requires years of building a personal brand, attracting a following, and developing my core message. It involved me getting sponsors, networking with other health and wellness professions that could help me in the future, and developing multiple streams of income. When your goal is to become a successful author and blogger, the path to success is not as cut and dry as “get a 40 hour a week job, stay for 10 years and then start your business.” If I was to become a successful author, I’m going to have to most likely endure years of showing up weekly and putting in the work before anything big happens. For that reason, I knew that I couldn’t put off until tomorrow what I can work on today. 

4. I’m not corporate

Another reason why I quit my job to pursue my dream is that I knew ever since I was very young that if I had a traditional, corporate job I would be miserable. It simply wasn’t me. Being in a corporate setting doesn’t seem to mesh with my personality.

For example, I’m someone who likes to have tattoos, and wears flowy bohemian pants, and wears lots of rings. Whenever I’m in my professional attire and show up to work I feel like I’m being fake. Or like I’m wearing a costume all day. I feel like a 4-year-old girl who put on her mother’s heels and is playing grown-up. I don’t think I could spend the rest of my life working a corporate job mainly because I don’t think I’d be able to handle feeling fake and not being myself for 40 hours a week. I don’t want to wait until 6 p.m. to kick off my black, work-appropriate, closed-toe shoes to finally be myself. I couldn’t stand feeling restricted and uncomfortable for that much time every day.

On top of that, I also don’t like to talk about the same things that my older co-workers always wanted to discuss at any job I’ve had. The conversation always seemed too boring and cookie-cutter for me. I’m someone that likes to talk about health and wellness, going fragrance-free, traveling the world, seeing therapists, journaling, and pursuing your dreams. I don’t want to hear about what you ate for dinner with your kids last night and what car your wife drives! I want to hear about what books you read! I want to hear about your life-long dreams and your side hustle! I want to hear about what bodyworkers you see or what trip you plan on taking next.

I always knew that I just didn’t fit in with the 9-5 life or co-workers. I was the girl who wore a giant tigers eye necklace to work, who used essential oils at her desk, who did acro-yoga on the weekends, and who blogged about self-help. I’m the odd one in the office. 

5. To feel like I make a difference 

It’s very difficult for me to work at something when I don’t feel like it matters. For example, if I had to work a 12-hour shift at Subway making sandwiches, I would probably scream. All I would be able to think about is how it doesn’t matter whether I’m there or not. I need to feel as if what I’m doing makes a difference in the world.

In school, it was easy to do things that I didn’t believe mattered because school was school, and I absolutely had to be there. I knew I had to show up and pay attention in class and I knew that I had to get random part-time jobs along the way. But when it comes to working after graduation, I feel myself spending an entire day at a traditional job thinking to myself, “Why am I doing this? How is this job even making a difference in the world? Is this really what I spent two decades of my life preparing for?”

However when I worked on campaigns that had messages I believed in, and when I worked at coffee shops and had meaningful conversations, or when I got to spend the day writing – I felt content. I felt like I had a good day because I enjoyed myself and did what I felt made an impact on the world, no matter how small or large. I was happy with how I spent my day because to me it felt productive and mattered. But working a job where customers are nasty to me or all I do is make more money for someone else, I can’t do that. I need to feel as if I’m adding value to the world and spreading messages that help people live happy, healthy, and meaningful lives. Otherwise, what’s the point?

6. To say goodbye to Groundhog Day

You know that Bill Murray movie “Groundhog Day” where his character is caught in a time loop and he’s repeatedly living the same day over and over? To me, that’s what the 40-hour corporate work week feels like. Even though my calendar says it’s a different day of the week. It all feels the same. And it’s excruciating.

I know I can’t be the only one who hates groundhog day! If there’s not variety and spontaneity in my life, I’m deeply unhappy. Because of that, my work performance suffers. It’s always happened to me for as long as I could remember. If there’s not variety, change, or progress, I feel miserable. For some reason, I get it in my head that life is only ever going to be like that. I feel as if every day will be the same for the rest of my life.

I know it’s crazy but I have an especially difficult time with it than most people and I find myself fantasizing about doing something drastic like joining the Peace Corps or moving abroad to learn Spanish. When I was working full-time I spent half my days seriously contemplating moving to Malaga, Spain for 9 months. I was about to drop everything, move to Spain, learn Spanish, and stay with a family the entire time. Before that, my previous groundhog day panic almost caused me to move to Hawaii and build a tiny house. I have a ROUGH time being tied down to a schedule. I wanted to work for myself because that way I could live life on my own terms and chose to do whatever I wanted that day and make spontaneous decisions. I could take a trip without asking for permission. I could get Christmas Eve off without a boss treating me like they’re doing me a HUUUGE favor. I could say goodbye to Groundhog Day and spend my existence however I wanted.

7. I loathe fear tactics 

I will be honest, I’ve had very bad luck in the past with previous supervisors or managers and for that reason, I’ve been told that my experience is out of the ordinary. So maybe you won’t be able to relate to this one. The majority of people that I’ve worked for (not all of them) used fear tactics as a way to motivate people. I was once told after working a job for 2 months, “I need you to prove your worth to me or else…” They were trailing off to imply that I may be fired if I couldn’t prove that my position mattered and made an impact on the company. I also have heard bosses proclaim to an entire room of employees how unhappy they were with performance and how “things are going to change around here.” Leaving everyone standing in a circle with a scared look in their eyes wondering if they’re going to be the one who gets fired. 

I don’t know about you but I’m DEEPLY against motivating people through fear and think that this part of our work culture needs to stop. We all know that people are far more motivated and productive when they are HAPPY with where they work and when they feel as if their management cares about them and respects them. People work better through being incentivized and motivated positively. Not to mention they are more loyal employees who will stay at the company longer.

However, the main reason why I loathe fear tactics is that I’ve noticed throughout every job that if a manager is using fear tactics I get so nervous and focused on what they think of me that I end up performing worse. I make errors, I mess up, I miss things that they told me to do, and I don’t meet their expectations. I get so scared that I turn into an idiot. My mental energy becomes so focused on what they think of me that I’m unable to do my job which only makes them more unhappy and makes me even more nervous. I hate working for anyone who makes me feel that way. Who fills me up with dread to the point where I’m unable to even do a good job in the first place. Whether I do become successful at this or end up getting another job in the future, I will NEVER be able to be at a company that makes it a point to scare the sh*t out of their employees every Monday morning meeting.

8. I crave freedom

If you read my previous blog post, “15 Reason to Travel While You’re Young,” then you know about how I have a serious travel bug that was passed on to me from my grandmother. I dream of traveling to as many countries and cities as I can. I want to see all of the major sites, I want to travel around our entire country someday, I want to breathe in the fresh air at all of the natural parks, and I want to swim underneath as many waterfalls as I can. That’s my dream. I crave freedom and travel and booking that next adventure. For that reason, I want to build a career for myself that allows me that freedom. One where I don’t have to stress out about asking my boss for permission to take my vacation days.

I want a career that allows me that extra time to cross things off my bucket list. Because that’s what I care about more than anything else. Living a life that is exciting, adventurous, and fulfilling. For me that means the freedom to travel, or as my grandma’s handwriting tattooed on my side reads, “A life full of travel and wonders of our planet.”

9. I don’t want to spend my life making other people rich

There’s a famous quote from Tony Gaskins Jr. that I always think of whenever I have fears about pursuing my dream and wonder if I should have just kept a traditional job instead. The quote is, “If you don’t build your own dream someone else will hire you to help build theirs.” How true is that? If I don’t have the courage and faith in myself to create a business doing what I love, someone will hire me for a measly salary to build their vision. And who says that their dream is more important than mine? And why should I have so much more faith in someone else’s dream than my own?

From where I stand, there’s pretty much those two paths in life: either you follow that epic dream you have for yourself and build your own career, or you work for someone else and make all of their life goals and aspirations happen. And there’s so much greed that no matter how much work you put in, the management, the CEO, the board of the company will always want MORE, MORE, MORE. That’s corporate America for you. To me, starting to build my brand was a way to add some real value to the world, accomplish my soul’s mission, and escape the toxic environment of corporate America (where people are treated like robots meant to make money for the 1%, not like human beings).

10. My introverted personality

This point may seem like the most insignificant and random point on my list of reasons why I left my full-time job, but in reality, I think it was the number one reason. It may not seem like it with how much I share about myself on my blog and YouTube Channel or social media, but I’m actually very introverted. And if you know me personally then I’m sure you’re very familiar with how much of an introvert I am.

As much as I love traveling the world, meeting new people, and being spontaneous, I’m also a homebody. Part of the reason is that I’m an old soul, as I talked about in my recent blog post “An Old Soul Trapped in a Young Body.” But mostly, I’m just a very introverted person. I feel better when I spend most of my time alone. I feel exhausted, drained, uncomfortable, and stressed out when I’m surrounded by groups of people for extended periods of time. I can only take it for so long.

When I was working a full-time job I was extremely overwhelmed being around people 40 hours a week, and then coming home and spending every other waking hour with my boyfriend. The only time I had alone was when I was showering! (I nearly ripped Matt’s head off one day when he flirtatiously suggested we shower together. How dare you try to take my ten minutes a day to myself!) I felt like I was never able to relax and recharge. 

That’s why I knew I had to build a career for myself where I was able to spend most of my time as an introvert. I could still meet up with other creatives, network with other wellness warriors, go to conferences and meet clients, but I wouldn’t be with people 100% of the time. Because as an introvert, I need that space to myself. Sadly, most of the corporate jobs don’t allow people to be introverted. There’s a really interesting Ted Talk by Susan Cain called “The Power of Introverts” about how our world is set up for extroverts and about how introverts offer skills and talents that could add so much value to the world if only we allowed our introverts to be themselves. I highly suggest listening to it, whether or not you’re an introvert OR an extrovert.

11. But above all, to create a life doing what I LOVE

My final point, “to create a life doing what I love.” Oh, you must think I’m so cliche and ridiculous, but hear me out. For the longest time, the American Dream was about equality of opportunity. It was the idea that any goals or aspirations could be achieved by any American regardless of gender, age, or color. We did this through the 40-hour workweek. Americans showed up and worked harder and harder knowing that with hard work and motivation they could create a comfortable, happy, and healthy life for their family and future generations. But then, something interesting happened. The American Dream changed.

It became one that was focused on material goods and keeping up with the Joneses. It happened for a variety of reasons, but that’s far from the point. As our culture changed, so did the American Dream. It became far more focused on appearances, material goods, and social status. It became less about working hard for the dream that our family could have opportunity, education, and stability and more about what car is parked in the driveway. And with this shift in ideology, any concept of creating a life doing what you loved vanished.

We became obsessed with working so that we could earn more, spend more, and keep up with appearances. Consequently, we all filled ourselves with stress and anxiety, spent the day at jobs we hated and blew our money on consumer products. Now we have millions of people across the country wondering: “What’s wrong with me? I got a high paying job, I’m earning six figures, I bought my dream car, I have a big house. Why am I unhappy?”

Hmmm… maybe it’s because we’ve built our entire lives around things that are outside of ourselves. The idea of looking inward and creating a life based on what we want and what would make us happy seems so far fetched, foreign, and unrealistic. The people who claim do it are viewed as unicorns and are thought to have gotten lucky.

But now, people all across the world are starting to wake up. To realize that this idea that was hammered into our heads is just ONE template on how to live. Just because the generations before us found financial success through a traditional 40 hour work week and a boss that they couldn’t stand, doesn’t mean that that’s the ONLY way to live. It’s just ONE way to live. It doesn’t mean that creating a life doing what you like is impossible. And the people who are viewed as unicorns are the few who woke up decades ago and decided to do what they wanted regardless of what other people thought.

I’m one of those people that the majority of society still deems as unrealistic and crazy. I know that with hard work and motivation I could find success not just in a 40-hour workweek at a corporate job, but even by creating a life doing what I love. And I would much rather work hard at creating a life that I love. One that fills me up and makes me happy with the work that I do. Not one that just pays the bills and buys me a fancy car at the sacrifice of my own dreams.

Thank you for coming to Lost Online!

As always, thank you for reading and I hope you enjoyed this week’s blog post about why I left my full-time job to pursue blogging and NOW health coaching! I decided to share my reasons for leaving my traditional job behind because I know the battle that goes on in your head when trying to decide whether or not to take the leap into the great unknown and pursue your life-long dreams. And I know that there are many other people out there who are currently dealing with this mental battle and weighing the pros and cons every day in their heads on the way to work. I want you to know that you’re not alone and you’re not insane for wanting to break free of what you’ve been told you SHOULD do throughout your life. Only YOU know what’s best for you.

I also want to acknowledge that I know not everyone can up and leave their job behind to pursue their interests. I know that many people have mouths to feed, high mortgage payments, high medical bills, and student loans that make it impossible to leave their job. To those people, I want to say that I understand that it’s not as simple as this blog post may make it seem. What I will suggest for you is to figure out a way to incorporate your side hustle into the schedule EVERY DAY. No matter who you are, you do have time somewhere in your schedule. The important thing is to at least take action and move the needle forward each and every week so that you are always getting one step closer to making your side hustle your full-time career. Figure out ONE thing that you can do each day to help you move forward and make progress, and if you’re having a hard time, hire a business coach! It’s ok to ask for help.

Before you head out, let me know what you think in the comments! Did you ever leave your full-time job behind to pursue your dream? Are you thinking about doing it yourself? What are some of your reasons for focusing all of your energy on your own goals? What’s your biggest, craziest, wildest dream? Is there a way you can bring it into fruition while keeping your 9-5?

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.

15 Reasons To Travel While You’re Young + Thoughts on Traveling & Social Media

Travel

I got the travel bug from my grandmother, who has been to so many countries that she probably wouldn’t be able to count them if she tried. My grandma goes on at least one trip abroad a year and usually comes back with a very odd and very humorous souvenir for us. Every time I talked to my grandma when I was growing up, I was so amazed at how she would casually bring up some incredible trip she took.

I always wanted to be like her. She’s so well-traveled, cultured, and so interesting – and I’m not the only one who thinks that. She’s someone that everyone loves and is intrigued by the second they meet her. I remember after my friend Pat met her for the first time, he turned to me and said one of my favorite quotes of all time, “Heather, your grandma is dope!” She is a dope grandma indeed. 

She’s a lady who does whatever the hell she wants regardless of what other people think. One of my favorite things she’s ever said to me was, “I don’t think I want a boyfriend, that might cramp my style.” If there’s one person I want to be like when I grow up and one person I want to make proud of, it’s her. And one way I plan on doing that is by exploring as much of this miraculous planet as I can, just like her.

With no surprise, my grandma was incredibly supportive of my love for travel. Not only does she pass on her travel stories and experiences to me, but she’s funded several of my trips. She generously took me to Paris for two weeks for my Sweet Sixteen, paid for my month-long graduation trip through Europe, and took a spontaneous and impulsive trip with me to Niagara Falls this summer. 

Today, my grandma’s writing is tattooed on the side of my body. It reads, “A life full of travel and wonders of our planet.” It will remind me for the rest of my life to get out of my bubble and explore the world as much as I can.

Just like my grandma, I want to encourage others to explore too. To put their money towards a plane ticket instead of products. So here are the top reasons why I believe it’s important to travel while you’re young in hopes that I will inspire at least one person to buy a ticket!

1. Travel expands your mind

I know this is the very first thing that people usually say about travel, but you don’t realize how true it is until you’re sitting in some random spot on the other side of the planet having your mind blown. I remember watching an opera in Rome and seeing flamenco dancing in Spain. Those are two experiences that I will never forget because I was utterly amazed seeing this in person. All I could think of was, “WHAT?! This is a thing?! People actually do this?!” It’s incredible seeing someone who’s spent a lifetime perfecting some dance that you would have never even heard of before.

When you travel, especially for an extended period of time or with a group of strangers, you regularly have those moments where you’re shocked by what you’re seeing or how other people interact in different cultures. You experience and learn things that you wouldn’t have otherwise known until you went there yourself.

Sometimes it expands your mind to things that are unpleasant. On my graduation trip, I learned so much about the Holocaust and World War II after visiting Germany and seeing a concentration camp that I would have never have learned unless I had visited Germany and gone on local tours. It’s best to travel while you’re young for this reason because your brain is still developing so you’re still very impressionable. Expanding your worldview during this time is crucial because you’ll be more open-minded than you would be if you started traveling after retirement. It allows you to expand your world-view and shape new opinions before settling into your ways.

2. It gets you out of your comfort zone

When you go on a trip abroad, you encounter language barriers, you get lost, and you have awkward moments when you encounter customs that you aren’t familiar with. It makes you feel out of place and puts you far out of your comfort zone, which is a great thing!

Interestingly enough, something about traveling to a foreign country also makes you more willing to take risks and try things that you wouldn’t if you were at home. I remember what it was like going zip lining in Costa Rica with Matt or going on an ATV tour underneath a volcano. The Heather that lives in Florida and spends most of her time going to the same coffee shop to write every day would NEVER do those things. But whenever I go on a trip, I take advantage of experiences that I otherwise wouldn’t try or wouldn’t want to spend the money on. Travel makes you do things that you normally would hold yourself back from, but THOSE moments are the ones that you remember for the rest of your life and tell at parties (or on your Tinder dates, lol). 

3. You meet life-long friends 

Something about dropping everything and traveling to a foreign country with strangers makes you connect with them on a much deeper level. When you travel to a new country with someone, rely on each other to get around, experience new things together, and spend entire days making memories and opening up about your lives back home, you form a very powerful bond. 

It’s a connection that you wouldn’t have had with that person if you had just met at a coffee shop or a bar back home. You create life-long memories with that person, making you much closer together and creating a relationship that you’ll look back on for the rest of your life. For that reason, I know that whenever I reach out to the girls I went on my trip with that they will always be happy to hear from me and we’ll catch up as if no time had passed.

Case in point, I just got back from visiting Cincinnati last night and while I was there I got to see my Europe travel buddy, Emily. We were attached at the hip the entire time we were abroad and now I consider her to be one of the best friends I’ve ever had. She had just landed from New York City yesterday morning and raced to come visit me for the remaining hours I was still in Cincinnati. When we reunited we ran up to each other on the sidewalk, threw our arms around each other and hugged in the most dramatic, rom-com fashion.

4. Travel helps you discover what you really want

When I left for my month-long trip abroad, I was very unsure of what I wanted, but the week I came back, I could look at my life with such clarity. I’m not exactly sure why this happens. Maybe it’s because travel allows you to step away from your life’s problems and have some space so that you can look at things with fresh eyes when you come back. Or maybe it’s because travel changes you, so you come back a slightly different person than the one who left.

Whichever it is, all I know is that my questions and dilemmas I’d been struggling with for months had been resolved when I got back: Where should I live? What career should I pursue? What do I really want in life? What projects do I want to pursue?

I was also very surprised by the number of other people on my tour who were having some kind of life crisis or question that they were seeking the answer to while we were away. I wasn’t the only one who had been hoping to solve some problem or answer an important question. For example, I remember that a handful of people were very unsure about whether or not they wanted to stay with their significant other. They were trying to figure out if they saw themselves staying with this person long term after they returned home or if it was best to go their separate ways. The trip helped them answer their questions. I remember one of my friends even bought a journal so she could do stream of consciousness journaling about her relationship and that helped her gain so much clarity. If you’d like to learn more about stream of consciousness journaling, checkout my blog post, “Stream of Consciousness Journaling: The Benefits & How to Practice It.”

5. Traveling while you’re young allows you freedom before you get tied down 

Yeah you could travel when you’re older, but you also have to consider that you’ll have a full-time job, extra bills, a mortgage payment, a dog that needs to be cared for, a significant other that doesn’t feel like traveling to the same country as you, kids, etc. I could go on and on with other reasons, but the point is that it won’t be as easy to drop everything and backpack your way through South America when you’re 35 or 40. It’s much easier to travel while you’re young because you’re not tied down to anything, and because it will be so much easier to hop back into your normal life without much of a disruption. For example, coming back from an extended holiday when you’re in your teens or early 20’s will have little to no impact on your career because it’s not already established. It’s expected that you’re still traveling, learning about what you want, and changing during this time.

You also have to consider that if you travel while you’re young, you only have to pay for yourself, not an entire family. It’ll cost far less money and you’ll be FAR more likely to actually do it. Simply put, you’ll never feel as free as you do RIGHT NOW.

6. You won’t regret it

You know that moment when you decide it’s freaking time to clean out your closet? Your clothes are overflowing, you can’t find anything, and you realize it’s that time of year to make some donations? You know how whenever this happens you inevitably find clothes in your closet that still have the tags on them and think, “Uggghhhh, why did I buy this!? That was such a waste of money!” Yeah, that doesn’t happen with travel.

I’ve never heard of anyone having buyer’s remorse over taking a trip. You won’t look back at your photos and memories of your summer abroad and think, “Ugggghhh, why did I do that?” “Why did I move to Paris for three months and work at that bakery? How stupid of me.” That just doesn’t happen. Traveling is one of the very few things in life that people spend their money on that they don’t regret. Sure, you might end up going over budget on your trip and be a little bit annoyed at yourself for spending so much. However, the feeling of regret will never enter your mind.

7. Travel makes you humble

The other reason why you should travel, especially while you’re young, is because it makes you humble. You’ll see people all around the world who are living with less than you and realize what little you need to take care of yourself and to be happy. I learned this lesson on my trip to Costa Rica. After coming back I wrote a blog post about this called “A Lesson in Pura Vida.”

I wrote about how I had noticed that the people in Costa Rica lived in what I can only describe as shacks. Their houses were made of tin and they had very few possessions and modern-day luxuries and conveniences. But they were the happiest and nicest people I have ever met in my life. Seriously! It was like they were all enlightened. They walked around with a huge smile on their face and saying hello to everyone. I could tell that they were happy and relaxed – not chronically stressed out. At the time, I went to a private college, drove an expensive car, lived in a gated community, and nannied for families who made over six figures. Yet none of the people that I was surrounded with were happy to be alive. They were stressed out, bitter, and materialistic. They were driven more by possessions and promotions than by anything else (I’m not claiming to be above this). However, these people in Costa Rica had next to nothing, and they were HAPPY. Very, very happy. That trip was humbling and made me reflect more on what’s important in life. 

The second reason why travel makes you humble is that you realize that you’re not the center of the universe. You’re dropped off at the airport in what sometimes feels like an alternate universe. You don’t understand the language or the way people are interacting with each other. Even though you know intellectually that there’s a wide world out there, you typically don’t think much about the world other than your own small existence. Then in the middle of all of this, you’re attending local tours and learning from someone about their political problems or issues that they face in the community. In these moments, it will hit you just how large the world is and how closed off you had been because these issues weren’t on your radar. For example, I didn’t know anything about the poverty rate in Costa Rica as I was going about my daily life in St. Augustine, Fla. It never occurred to me.

Lastly, if you’re traveling while you’re young you’ll most likely be staying in cheap accommodations, eating less expensive food, and finding experiences within your budget. You’re not rolling into your trip to the south of France in first-class seats, sipping champagne, eating caviar, and staying at 5-star hotels. You haven’t hit that age in life where you think, “Alright, I’m going on a trip. It must be luxurious.” No. You stay in hostels, you share bathrooms, you eat at places that are cheaper to accommodate everyone in your group, and you share cramped spaces on trains, planes, and automobiles. Having to be so accommodating with other people and share space is a humbling experience. 

I think that this is an important lesson to learn and it should be learned as SOON as possible. It’s better to become humble when you’re 20 rather than when you’re 45. It makes you a better person.

8. You’re in great shape

Some people decide that having a career and a family are the first priority to them and that travel is something that can wait until retirement, but I think that’s the wrong way to look at it. Because while you do want to make retirement fun and enjoyable, you also have to consider that you won’t be in as good of shape as you’re in when you’re a teenager or in your 20’s.

Your body can handle walking for miles to sightsee all day, hiking up mountains, getting less sleep, carrying a backpack all day, lugging your suitcase around, etc. The physicality of traveling alone just makes more sense to do while you’re young. And you never know what sort of health problems or limitations you might have in old age. 

9. Traveling empowers you

Before I left for my month-long trip to Europe, I was nervous as all hell. It also didn’t help that every person I talked to said something along the lines of, “Oh my God! Four weeks is SO long! I would never be able to do that. You’re crazy. You’re gonna want to come home by week two!”

I remember the night before I left I sat across from my boyfriend fighting off a panic attack for serval hours and drinking wine trying to calm myself down. The next day I was bawling while I was saying goodbye to Matt outside the airport! I. was. a. mess.

But when I landed in Florida after that month, I came back and thought “Oh my gosh! I freaking did it! That was awesome!” It’s a very powerful thing to see yourself doing something that you once considered to be scary. It helps you realize how much you’re capable of and gives you the confidence to take on new challenges or aspirations. Before I left for my trip, I thought a month would feel like forever and I might want to come home, but when I came home I realized that a month was nothing. I could easily take a trip for two, three, four, or even six months at a time. I realized that the fear that I had was all in my head. I set this limitation for myself that I now realize was completely ridiculous. 

10. You can handle cheap accommodations

I’ve noticed that as you get older, the accommodations that you feel you deserve continue to increase in cost. I know that I was going on a trip to a foreign country right now, I would be perfectly ok in cheaper hotels that my older family members wouldn’t even consider staying in. I don’t feel as if I’m somehow deserving of first-class tickets, 5-star hotels, and a luxurious mattress to sleep on. Those things would be fabulous and I would be appreciative of it, but I feel perfectly ok with slumming it a bit to check countries off of my bucket list.

However, it’s not just that as you get older you feel entitled to better accommodations, your body also needs them. I’m 24 now, and I know that my body can handle sleeping on crappy mattresses and taking a 10-hour plane ride in super small airplane seats. But if I was 70 years old right now, that wouldn’t work. I wouldn’t be able to bounce back as well as I can right now. That’s something you also have to keep in mind.

11. You’ll come back with TONS of stories 

The best part of spending your money on traveling is that you come back with tons of stories and memories that stay with you forever. Half the time they’re stories of something wonderful and exciting that you experienced – like when I learned how to make homemade pasta while I tasted wines in Rome (it was Amazing with a capital A). Or sometimes they’re stories of something bad or scary that happened on your trip – like when two of my friends Martha and Emily had a near-death experience during the riots in Paris after the World Cup Final. But even the “bad” memories end up turning into hilarious stories that you get to share and laugh about when you get back home.

It’s been over a year since I went on my tour and I still find myself saying, “That reminds me! When I was on my trip…” I didn’t even realize how many interesting things happened until I came back and would have conversations with people and it would remind me of some experience that I had in Amsterdam, France, or London. I still love telling the story of what it was like experiencing the World Cup Final while I was in Paris or celebrating my sixteenth birthday in Paris which coincidentally is the same day as the French Independence Day. 

12. You’ll have help

One of the added benefits of traveling while you’re young is that you’ll most likely be able to convince mom and dad or grandma and grandma to help you fund your trip. That’s one of the best parts of traveling while your young because you’re family members are eager to help you out financially so that you can make some memories and have a good time. I’m now past the point where my family is jumping up and down to help me pay for a trip, so take advantage of the help while you can!

On top of that there are tons of tours that are cheaper and cater to teens and young adults with a smaller budget but still want to see as many sights as they possibly can. I personally am in love with the tour company EF Tours. I’ve been on two of their trips so far and have loved every minute of it. They get you to all of the attractions, book your flights and hotels for you, hire a tour guide to take you from place to place, and plan fun excursions. They’re also relatively cheap because they use the same hotels, hostels, tour companies, and local business so frequently that they are able to get everything cheaper than it would be if you went on your own. 

You also have the benefits of student discounts, so remember to bring your ID with you and ask if you can use it wherever you go! These perks make traveling while you’re young much easier because the total cost of the trip will be significantly less than you would pay in the future if you decide to take the same trip. 

13. It makes you more independent 

When you’re younger, if you’re anything like me, you may a bit timid and shy. This means that having to get around for the day in a foreign country by yourself can be a bit nerve-wracking, but those moments of travel are good for you, even if they’re a bit unsettling.

I remember there was one day when I was in Paris and everyone that I was friends with on my tour decided that they wanted to spend the day at Chipotle and relaxing in the hostel. I thought this was absolutely crazy. “We’re in PARIS guys! You can have a burrito bowl when you get home!” So I had no choice but to go off by myself if I wanted to do anything interesting. At first I was completely terrified and scared of being alone. What if I got lost and couldn’t find my way back?! But I ended up walking all around Paris and seeing the entire city. I saw the major attractions and went to places like the oldest bookstore in the city to buy a book and tried the best hot chocolate in Paris. I got pictures EVERYWHERE, ate as many macaroons as I could get my hands on, and ended the night watching the Eiffel Tower sparkle. It ended up working out perfectly because I was able to do so much more that day than I would have done if I was with a group of 5 or 6 girls. And I realized that I’m much more independent and capable than I thought. I was so proud of myself by the end of the day and so fulfilled by getting around a foreign city all by myself that it became one of the most memorable days of the tour. 

14. Travel makes you more accepting of others

Another reason why I believe that it’s vitally important to travel while you’re young is because it makes you much more accepting of other people.

I feel that today, we need this lesson more than ever. There’s been so much hatred in America fueled by the media in recent years. Mostly because media channels learned that they can make money by pinning people against each other and because this last presidential election was “harrible.” Hugely, “biggly,” and catastrophicly “harrible.”

Because of this we’ve become accustomed to getting offended if someone has a different opinion or experience than us and rejecting them. Our country has been in a place where all people do is fight and hate people who are different. It’s especially toxic for all of the younger generations who are impressionable and mimic the behavior they see while growing up. And I’m not just talking about children. I’m talking about the teens and college students (like myself) that watched all the adult figures in their lives turn against each other for a solid year because of this last poisonous election.

My concern is that if THIS is how people feel about other American citizens than what is our perspective of the rest of the world’s population? If we can’t even learn to live in harmony with our neighbors, how do plan on having successful international relations? Today more than ever, I feel it’s important for people to get outside of their own inner circle and learn about the rest of the world. To learn about different cultures and different views, but most importantly learn that we can all be accepting and COEXIST.

I can hear my grandma in my head right now saying her famous line, “Haven’t people ever heard of the word HUMAN?! We’re all HUMAN!”

15. “Life is short and the world is wide.” – Simon Raven

Last but not least on my list of why it’s important to travel while you’re young is that there’s a HUGE world out there and life is short. Not to end on a morbid note, but a long life is not guaranteed to any of us. You have no idea what could happen in the future. I would love it if the universe would grant each and every one of us a long, healthy, and happy life, but it doesn’t work that way. People get sick and accidents happen. It’s best to fill your life with the experiences that you dream of while you can instead of putting things off for a perpetual “someday.” “Someday I’ll rent an RV and travel around the country.” “Someday I’ll see the seven wonders of the world.” “Someday I’ll go to Thailand.”

Someday is not set in stone. Someday is not promised. 

Traveling & Social Media 

Before I wrap up this post, I didn’t feel as if I could close up this week’s blog post without mentioning social media (particularly Instagram) and traveling. It felt irresponsible to share this post without addressing the problem of people traveling solely for getting attention and become famous online.

One of my favorite travel bloggers and Instagram influencers is Aggie, better known as “Travel In Her Shoes.” She’s someone who became very famous for her love of travel. She would travel for months and months at a time before she even was on Instagram and would take photos just for herself. She lived a very traditional life as most of us do for a while. She went to college, graduated, got a corporate job and was MISERABLE. So Aggie and her boyfriend at the time decided that they wanted to live a life of adventure and passion. They bought an old sailboat online, sold all of their possessions, fixed up the boat, and set sail from Mexico to Australia. Their story got picked up and since that day she’s made a career of her traveling and living the life that many of us can only dream of.

But Aggie recently opened up in a social media post this week about a topic that I believe needs to be talked about. Her Instagram post was inspired by a recent Ted Talk given by Joseph Gordon-Levitt on “paying attention” vs. “getting attention.” The talk is called “How Craving Attention Makes You Less Creative.” The Ted Talk is amazing and I HIGHLY recommend watching it as soon as you can. He talks about how (as a result of social media) most people today now view their creativity as a means to GET attention rather than paying attention, enjoying yourself, and collaborating with other creatives.

Aggie shared that traveling used to be very much about paying attention. It was a way to get out of your small little bubble, disconnect with family and friends, find yourself, and fall in love with another country. She admits that now, due to social media and influencers like herself, traveling has become a way to GET attention. “[People] sign up for a sort of their own Truman Show,” as she puts it. They get addicted to waking up each day and getting attention from their followers as they post gorgeous travel photos and share their stories. Because of that, they’re afraid to go back to their normal lives. They’re afraid that if they do, they will be forgotten and won’t receive praise from their online following. And that’s exactly what happened to her. The addiction to keep showing up, traveling, and getting attention is what caused her a falling out with the man she was in love with, getting extremely sick this year, losing her hair, and falling into a depression. Since then, she’s taken a step back and slowed down on traveling and focused on herself more.

I want to talk about this issue because the sad truth is that many people today travel just as a way to get likes and followers. People sign up for trips, buy expensive clothes for their photos, and spend their entire vacation staring at their phone. I can’t say that I’m above this myself. I will admit, my motto was “do it for the gram” for several years there, and my travels were a part of that too. But that’s NOT what travel is about. Travel should be about the reasons I listed above, not to become the next big travel blogger or YouTuber! It defeats the entire purpose of travel. So if you are going to book your next flight, remember that exploring the world is about the reasons I listed above, not about the social media posts that will come as a result. Travel is about PAYING attention, not GETTING attention.

Thanks for coming to Lost Online!

As always, thank you for coming to Lost Online! I hope that this post was entertaining and I hope that it inspired someone out there to go on an adventure. If it does, PLEASE reach out to me!

A special shout out to one of my Gram (who is somewhere in Morocco right now living her best life) for being my role model, for passing on her travel bug to me, and helping me to come up with ONE more reason for traveling while you’re young (just because I liked the sound of “15 Reasons” more than “14 Reasons).” Not only is she the source of inspiration for this week’s blog post, but she’s also my #1 supporter and reader. Hi Gram (: I love you very much.

Lastly, please send your thoughts and prayers to my incredible friend and photographer Ray Reyes and his family who lost his father, Edd Reyes, very suddenly last week. You can read Ray’s most amazing, tear jerking words about his father’s life in his Facebook post here. And thank you for your patience as there’s been a delay in getting blog posts published at this time. But as we all know, family is more important.

“Time is the most precious commodity we can share with our loved ones. With time, you can do all you need to do and say all you need to say. But you can’t wait forever, because time has already passed, the time is absolutely now and we have no idea how much time we have in our futures.” – Ray Reyes

Remember to comment your thoughts below. I love hearing from you! Can you think of any other reasons why Lost Online readers should prioritize traveling while they’re young? What are they? Did you have a favorite reason on this list? What was it? Do you have a travel bug too? Where’s your next adventure going to take you? Did this post inspire you to take a trip anytime soon? Do you have a family member that has been influential in your travels too?

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 and Allen Fajardo @alewafeni.

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.

I Interview Top Hair Stylist & Blogger Kourtnee Jinright (The Colour Chemist) – Hair Care, Managing Anxiety & Depression, and Following Your Passion

Beauty, Interviews, Self-Help

I’m super excited about this blog post today because I’m interviewing one of my absolute favorite people, and the HIGHLY talented hair stylist, Kourtnee Jinright.

If you know of Kourtnee already then you probably know her at “The Colour Chemist.” Three years ago I sat in her salon chair as she took me from my natural reddish-brown hair to full-blown platinum blonde. (I was going through something back then!) Since then, she’s grown so much both personally and professionally and it’s been so exciting to watch her journey!

Kourtnee is now the top stylist at a brand new salon in St. Augustine, Florida, ZA Salon, she’s a Kerastase Ambassador, and most importantly she makes a living following her passion. She’s built a following on social media channels by educating other women about hair, inspiring other women to chase their dreams and opening up about her struggle with anxiety and depression.

In a world of filters and pretend online relationships, Kourtnee is so authentic. She’s not afraid to be goofy, or vulnerable, or to share her experience. But what I love about Kourtnee more than anything is how supportive she is – how she fiercely encourages the women in her life as they try to follow their passion too. Not only is she someone I look up to, but she’s also a Lost Online reader and a friend. And when I asked her to do this interview she was over the moon!

Here are Kourtnee’s answers to my burning questions about everything from following your passion, to hair, to self-growth, and conscious technology use! I hope you enjoy!

Hair & Beauty

Q: I’ve been following you for many years now and I’ve also sat in your salon chair, so I know how you absolutely adore Kerastase and that you’re also an ambassador for Kerastase! What is it about the brand that you love? What makes you believe in the brand enough to use on your own hair and your clients?

A: I am so in love with Kerastase and its ability to transform the hair. Kerastase is known for taking your hair and giving you your goal hair. My hair was destroyed about 1 ½ years ago and I can’t even begin to tell you how much it changed my hair. It’s unbelievable. I ventured out and used other brands for 8 months on my clients’ hair and their hair drastically changed. When I told some of my clients that I was going back to Kerastase, they about died of happiness inside. It is worth every penny. I cannot sell you anything I don’t believe in, it’s not in my blood to do so.. I am an awful liar so if I’m in love with something, I really, truly mean it. I love the education Kerastase gives and how luxurious it is. It’s based in Paris, France. They are always changing the technology and revamping their brand to be the best of the best at ALL times. My goal is to teach with Kerastase. What a dream! 🙂

Q: Most women I know would kill to have long, thick, gorgeous hair – BUT most of us have also made the mistake of damaging it through improper hair care and dying. What’s your advice for people trying to grow hair out and improve the health of their hair?

A: The best advice I can give you is to be on a proper hair care regiment. I cannot stress enough how important this is for everyone. While a lot of products may feel great on the outside, it can actually cause buildup on the inside and you’ll remain stagnant. If you are trying to grow out your hair, I recommend the Kerastase’ Extensioniste line to improve the health and length. If you’re in need to seek more information, please DM me through Instagram at @thecolourchemist.

Q: How do you keep your hair healthy? Do you use any special products, supplements, or care practices? 

A: Keeping your hair healthy is the same as keeping your skin or body healthy. I have found that Kerastase products help almost every issue. Vitamins are always a go-to, however eating healthy/staying active ensures that your hair is growing at the appropriate rate. One thing I have clients say is, “I know I need a haircut, but I want it to grow longer so I’ll pass on it today.” Did you know by doing that your split ends will grow up the shaft and create more damage to your hair? In the long run, you’ll have to cut off more hair because of this. I understand no one WANTS to cut their hair when they’re growing it out, but trust me that this method WORKS.

Q: What do you suggest for split end remedies?

A: Split ends are a nightmare, right? We all have them after a while. I recommend getting a haircut every 4-8 weeks depending on the haircut you have now. If you put any heat on your hair, I would suggest on getting my favorite heat protection from Kerastase which is Serum Therapiste. This dual pump not only give you 450 degree heat protection, but also is a repair serum. It has plant stem cells to resurrect the hair back to its natural state over time. If you do not put heat on your hair, try using the Ciment Thermique from Kerastase. Say goodbye to spit ends with their number one product! 

Q: What hair trends do you think we’ll be seeing this coming season?

A: The shag is in as of right now, a lot of ‘lived in’ looks are coming back. People are wanting more of a natural look with low maintenance. Texture is another thing that everyone is searching for. Extensions are also HUGE right now. It’s a vibe, let me tell you. 😉

Following Your Passion

Q: I wanted to say congratulations on becoming the TOP STYLIST at Za Salon! I’ve seen you come so far over the last few years and grow so much in your career! I’ve been watching all of your videos about the salon opening and it’s been really cool to be able to see the process of setting up the space and promoting it. I can tell you’re incredibly passionate about it. I’m curious, what makes Za Salon special? What sets it apart from the experience you’d have at another salon?

A: Thank you so much! I appreciate the kind words. 🙂 When you walk into Za Salon you will enter a luxurious space. You will be offered champagne, wine, french press Kookaburra coffee, tea, water, or beer. We go above and beyond to make sure that your experience is like nothing you’ve ever had. We also have snacks followed along with a cold hand towel with essential oils to cool you off with this Florida heat. While our associates are giving you a nice massage on your scalp, you will also be offered a complimentary hand massage. This salon has a lot of great energy and it is very calm. The owner of Za Salon is Patty Meradith and I can confidently say hands down say she has built the number 1 salon in St. Augustine. The opportunity that she gives us on education to expand our horizons is out of this world. I am so thankful that Patty offered me the position as well as giving me windows of growth. She is also a barber which is badass!

Q: Did you always know you wanted to be a hairstylist?

A: I NEVER thought in a million years that I would be a hairstylist. I got out of high school and knew that college wasn’t for me. I needed to do something that didn’t require too much schooling. My dad made the suggestion and I remember looking at him with an appalled look. My answer was, ‘I REFUSE to work at hair cuttery!’ My dad looked at me and chuckled. He was like, ‘Kourtnee, you can work in a salon…’ My dad raised me and I was LUCKY if I got conditioner. I would receive suave and get a haircut twice a year so I didn’t know what else was out there. I went to cosmetology school knowing that this is a smart backup plan if I didn’t love it. Turns out it’s my passion! I’m so grateful that my dad had said something to me when he did or I wouldn’t have found an interest in it. The universe works in mysterious ways. 

Q: Did you receive support from friends and family in the beginning? Or did you feel pressure to prove that you could be successful in a creative industry?

A: When I first started, I didn’t want to practice on any of my friends because I knew their cuts/color wouldn’t be perfect. I didn’t want to ruin my reputation. It took me an hour just to shave my father’s hair. I was so nervous and insecure at the time. St. Augustine is a small town and I was always worried/felt pressure that people would write bad reviews about me. However, I am human and still to this day I make mistakes. Every day is another day full of growth and opportunity. If you make a mistake, take that as a lesson and try harder next time. 

Q: What was the biggest challenge that you faced pursuing this career?

A: My biggest challenge in this career was figuring out where my route was. I knew with being a hairstylist, this would come with a lot of fear and growth. About a year ago, I was in a dark place. I was in a situation where I wasn’t being heard, and I was at a standstill with my growth. I was being held back while being taken advantage of. I made the decision to go from a salon that was commission to booth rental. Being in a salon, you’re an employee and the owner is in control of color, products, your schedule, pricing,  etc. Being in booth rental, you are your own boss. While this might seem super cool, this was actually TERRIFYING. I had NO idea what direction to go to but I had no other choice but to think quick, make moves, and do what was best for not only my clients, but for ME. I was my own boss for about 8 months and even though it was GREAT, I found that I lost motivation. I recommend that if you’re someone who needs accountability, then being in a salon is meant for you. If you are okay being solo, then booth rental is a great option. Either way there is no wrong route. It’s just finding what brings out the best in you. I am finally at a point in my career where I have all the growth that I could ask for. This challenge made me the stylist I am today. 

Photos by Autumn Dozier @autumn.dozier.

Q: What’s your advice for women/men who want to go into hair?

A: My advice going into hair school would be to go in with an open mind. Focus solely on JUST what you went to school for. Do not feed into the drama, do not take things personally, you WILL mess up but just focus. You can get so wrapped up in what others say and think of you and it’s NOT worth it. Have patience and know that you will learn everything you need to know when you are finished with cosmetology school. I had girls that were very rude to me and  I look back at it now and laugh. They aren’t even in the industry anymore. So just remember if something like that comes around, go back to the mindset of why you are there. 

Q: I saw that this past year you started a blog as well! What inspired you to start your blog and put your knowledge and experience about hair and fashion into writing?

A: I started a blog because I wanted to reach out to other people around the world than just St. Augustine. Once I feel myself getting bored, I’m onto another idea. This was so great, however I am at a pause with blogging at the moment because I’m transitioning into a new salon and moving forward with Kerastase. My girlfriend is an amazing writer and speaker. She motivated me to write out all the things that I am passionate about. She gave me great advice on how to move forward with it. She has always told me that I would reach so many other stylists/guests if I wrote it down and she was right. I am not the best writer, but every day I am trying my best for it to become a strength. I wanted the blog to not only be about hair, but to include fashion and lifestyle. 

Q: How do you stay inspired to create almost every single day? Creating every single day seems like it could get overwhelming from time to time. 

A: Being a hairdresser has its pros and cons for sure. I work four full days a week now because I found that if decompress in those three days, I can give my 100% to each and every client that comes through the door. It’s not easy when you have 4-12 clients a day coming in with different energy while still trying to maintain your own. I can for the most part leave work at work, but sometimes when your clients go through tough times you feel for them. Sometimes it comes home with you. I balance all of this out with self care. I go to therapy, I do yoga, I read, write, eat healthy, spend time alone, rest, spend time with loved ones, and meditate. This isn’t just a job where you do hair. This requires every ounce of energy that you have. Once your tank is on empty, you have to fill it back up with your self care. Some stylists can go and work 6 days a week and that’s great! For me, being an introvert/extrovert… I have to decompress a little more than others and that is OKAY! I’m perfectly okay knowing that my mental health is more important than the money. 

Q: One of the reasons why I absolutely love to follow you is because all of the hilarious memes you share about the perspective of hair stylists! It’s actually been very eye opening and showed me some of the dumb things that we say to stylists without even realizing it. If there’s anything that you wish you could tell your clients completely unfiltered, what would it be?

A: I love memes! Meme culture can reach all different age groups which I love! It’s a good way to have content and it’s totally relatable. I wanted to post memes on the regular because I feel that it’s not all serious. We want you to know that we understand your struggles too! There are a few things that us hairstylists wish we could say, but sometimes people might take it the wrong way. When we don’t talk, it’s not because we don’t want to… it’s because your head naturally moves a lot while talking. This makes it harder for us to foil/cut/ install extensions. 

Self-Growth

Q: As a fellow self-growth and self-improvement junkie (: what practices have you incorporated in your life that have helped you with personal development and accomplishing your goals?

A: I noticed that I cut out all the people who didn’t help me grow. It was a really tough thing to do and it may sound harsh but the people I cut out, didn’t do anything for me. They were in my way and taking time out of my life that I just didn’t want to entertain anymore. I had to overcome some fears. Another couple of things that I have done are waking up earlier in the morning to clean a little and get a fresh start to my day. I have weekly workout routines, I got a planner, I go outside my comfort zone, always challenging myself, I have been listening more, doing the hobbies that I love to do. I talk and write to myself A LOT.

Q: What got you interested in self-growth and self-improvement?

A: I knew that I couldn’t love someone else until I loved myself. That struck me instantly and made me change as an individual. I loved my partner so much that I had to let go and grow. So I started to incorporate yoga into my self growth. My yoga teacher told me to bring my hands into a lotus pose. She told me that lotus flowers start off in a dark place. They live in murky water but they eventually blossom from the muddy waters. Now, I am at a place that I can confidently say that I love myself. I feel like a lotus flower is a perfect example of self growth. Everyday we grow and improve. We are all evolving and changing and that’s the most beautiful thing. 

Q: Do you have any books, blogs, or podcasts that inspired change in your life?

A: I love the book, ‘The Secret’. This is also on Netflix and I highly suggest for everyone to read/watch it. It’s about the law of attraction. I watched it over and over again. I was so impressed by these professors and what they had to say. They really know the secret of life. 

Managing Anxiety & Depression

Q: I’ve noticed through following you for several years now that you’ve been very vocal on social media about your experience with anxiety and depression. What made you want to share your experience with your followers?

A: I didn’t want to be open about my anxiety/depression for a long time because I didn’t want people to ‘pity’ me. I decided to move forward and take this anxiety and turn it into a positive outlook. I understand the struggle of not wanting to get out bed, not knowing where to start, feeling like you can’t breathe or feeling alone. You’re not alone. That is why I wanted to reach out to people. I am not a therapist, but I am an individual telling you that you are capable of doing anything you want to do. Your anxiety will not take that away from you. You can change your life and it is NEVER too late. 

Q: What have you learned throughout your struggles with depression and anxiety that you wish you could tell your younger self?

A: I was medicated for a long time. I wish I could have told myself to try out yoga before I hit the age of 21. Life would have been maybe easier but then again, I can look back on everything and say that I made it through the worst and came out stronger. 

Q: I know that you’ve talked about this on your own platforms, but could you share for Lost Online readers how you’ve managed to treat your anxiety and depression? 

A: I actually wrote a blog post about this on thecolourchemist.com! The truth is, you can never get rid of anxiety completely, but what you can do is CONTROL it. Our minds really do play a huge role in this. For me, I noticed my anxiety wasn’t at its highest peak when I started to eat healthier. I started to juice, go to therapy, do yoga, focus on my breathing, read, journal, scrapbook, go to the beach, and cut out all the people who didn’t bring me joy. I do all the things that I love to do with a mix of being the best version of myself.

Q: You’ve spoken a lot about yoga and how it’s helped you with mental and physical health. What got you started practicing yoga and what benefits have you seen with regular practice?

A: I took about 8 classes and I found the ONE teacher whose energy stuck out to me. I feel so comfortable with her that I now take private lessons in my own home. She is always challenging me and pushes me to be better. Doing yoga has not only helped me release mentally, but also physically. With being a hairdresser, you stand on your feet in the same position for hours. I have noticed a difference in my concentration being sharper, creating calmness, and being more aware of my surroundings. Yoga has also helped my balance TREMENDOUSLY, helps you sleep deeper, it helps falls with elderly people, increases blood flow, helps posture, helps your hips to create better alignment, makes you a better person, etc. The list can go on about how amazing yoga is for you. 

Online 

Q: At the very end of my interviews, I like to touch a bit on technology and social media since it’s such a big part of our lives and something that the vast majority of us struggle with today. With our heavy social media and technology use today, have you ever felt pressure for likes, engagement, or recognition online? What has your experience been? 

A: In the beginning I was like, “Oh my god, I don’t have 10k. How will I ever have someone notice me?” All it takes is one post, one person to notice you. The rest is history. Have faith and speak everything into existence. You can have 200 followers and if you have a great engagement with those 200 followers, you’re doing it right. The amount of followers does not define you. However, I do put in some serious work with social media. If someone finds me one day, my page has to look clean, professional, and have character. I’m constantly trying new techniques with hair, posting new trends, taking pictures in different areas to switch it up the look, talking about product, taking videos and making them stand out. I’m always hashtagging each post and sometimes I will write about topics that people have questions about. When I am off the clock at work, I am working on social media. Social media is WORK but it is free advertising so use it wisely. 

Q: A major theme throughout my blog is how we stay sane during a time when we spend half of our time consumed with technology. What do you do to create balance in your life when we spend so much time online now?

A: Social media can take up a huge chunk of time in your everyday life. People see me on my phone and half the time I am working and not really socializing. I sometimes have to step back and give myself a break with this. It can consume your life really fast. I started to not use my phone the first 30 minutes when I wake up and the last 30 minutes before I go to bed. These times are when you are the most creative. It doesn’t always happen but I try my best to stick to this routine. 

Thanks for coming to Lost Online!

Photo Ray Reyes @rocketsciencephoto.

Do you see why I love Kourtnee now? I have to admit, this interview was more for me than it was for my readers. I wanted nothing more than to interview someone who inspired me each and every day.

I’ve loved being Kourtnee’s friend and follower because she’s such an inspiration and is always so positive despite anything that she may be going through. She opens up about the challenges in her life and always takes a positive and healthy approach, viewing every roadblock or rough period as an opportunity for growth. And above all, Kourtnee goes after what makes her passionate in life and continues to flourish as a hairstylist. 

I hope you enjoyed the interview as much as I did! Make sure to check out Kourtnee on her personal Instagram @kourtneemichelle or her professional Instagram account @thecolourchemist. You can also find her on her website thecolourchemist.com where she share’s blogs about hair care, lifestyle, and another passion of hers, fashion.

Lastly, if you’re in Saint Augustine, Florida area and would like Kourtnee to work her magic on your hair, make sure to give Za Salon at call and book your appointment!

As always remember to comment your thoughts below. I LOVE hearing what my readers think about the content. What stood out the most to you about the interview? Did you resonate with anything Kourtnee said? If you could ask her anything, what would you ask?

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!

Several of Kourtnee’s photos shown in this post were taken by Autumn Dozier @autumn.dozier. Hair photos are taken by Kourtnee herself. If I forgot to mention any other photographer, please contact me so I can give you credit!

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.