What Is Narrative Therapy? | Introducing TMC’s New Counsellor, Bronte!

Hi there! As an ACA registered Counsellor I pride myself on being the best listener you will ever meet, and I’m pretty good at puns to boot! My main focus is the way our life stories are formed by society, by others and especially by ourselves and how to reverse the effects of a negative story told one too many times. I have a strong counselling framework rooted in a combination of Narrative Therapy and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, but believe the most important part of a therapeutic relationship is trust. As I am accredited by the Australian Counselling Association I constantly undertake training and development to broaden my skills and understanding and adhere to strict guidelines to ensure quality support. Now, onto the fun stuff!

A counsellor’s guide to narrative therapy and “shakin’ off” a negative story just like Taylor Swift

Narrative therapy is a therapeutic approach that takes our lived experiences and stories and uses them to feed new ways of thinking and being. It is a modality that is centred on the way the world around us shapes our own personal views. Think about it, in our day to day lives we get a lot of verbal and visual feedback from those around us. Sometimes we can brush off that snide comment or sideways glance. Other times those small interactions can create a lasting internal story of self-doubt and inadequacy, often feeding into a larger story that we have been telling ourselves for years. This is our internal negative narrative and if left large and in charge it can build until it saps our self-worth.

Even celebrities are not immune to a negative narrative! They, just like us mere mortals, face the feedback of friends, family, society and themselves. And they, just like us, can re-story that negative narrative. A prime example of this is the transformation of Taylor Swift from a girl with a “Bad Reputation” into a woman in charge of her own story and career. So, inspired by the absolute BOP that is T-Swifts song “Shake it off” here is a run down of catching that negative story and reclaiming your own narrative. Let’s put our personal reflection hats on and get down to this.sick.beat.

“ That’s what people say, mmm hmm”

Much like T-Swift – I’m sure many of us have experienced others talking about us and been given societal labels. She goes on too many dates but can’t make them stay, but maybe your story is one of being a failure, being not good enough or just generally sucking as a human. The first step in pulling a Swiftie is knowing when our internal narrative is becoming a problem. Some questions to ask yourself are:

  • When something goes wrong what do I tell myself? am I a failure? Is this something I ALWAYS do?
  • When something goes right what do I tell myself? It must be a miracle? About time I did something right? Or is it a case of yay I did it again?
  • Are you a player who is going to play? A Hater who is going to hate?

Did answering these questions make you squirm and feel a bit bummed out? You and me both! But looking at the stories we tell helps us identify if we tell them too much and too often. It helps us decide if we truly agree with these stories or do we want to shake it off and tell a different story.

“And that’s what they don’t see mmm mmm”

On the topic of telling a different story, sometimes when that negative narrative is too loud, alternatives can be hard to see on our own or completely unseen by others. While me may be bit incompetent in one area of our life we might be AHMAZING in another. Taylor Is lightning on her feet and you might be too! This where narrative therapy shines in helping us explore alternate stories, times where there has been an exception to that not good enough story we hear constantly. And when we start seeing more than one story and living life through multiple stories that’s we really start to reclaim our own narrative.

“Baby, I’m just gonna shake, shake, shake, shake, shake I shake it off, I shake it off”

 

Want to book in with me? I’d love to have you! Click this link to book online for in person or online appointments.

I can’t wait to meet you!

 

-Bronte

We’re Moving!

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Hello everyone! we have some exciting and amazing news! We are moving to Paddington on the 18th November 2019!

For all clients that are planning to see Amy from this day onwards please come to this new location!

 

Address: Top floor, 189 Latrobe Terrace, Paddington 4064

Opening hours: Currently, opening hours will remain the same, however, keep an eye out as Amy may be increasing to 4 days per week in office.

Parking: There are 3 on-site parking spaces at the rear of the property and plenty of 2hr street parking (dependent on exact location).

Bus Services: There is a bus stop immediately outside the property catering to routes 61, 375 and N385

 

We apologise for the very short notice, however, this was a very fast-moving process. If you have any concerns or queries please feel free to give us a call on 0451 060 764 or email on hello@themindfulcollective.co

Also, please be aware that we will be gradually decorating and furnishing the premises over the next few months.

We are surrounded by some amazing local businesses, so take a chance to venture out from the clinic and explore the area!

See below for a map of our new location. Click on the map to open up google maps to explore in more detail.

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Evie’s Second Birthday Event

If you would like to come along, head over to our Facebook page and purchase a ticket!

 

 

We had such a hilarious time celebrating with you last year, so we are doing it all again for Evie’s 2nd birthday.

Evie has enjoyed a big, exciting year (as you can probs tell from our insta stories).  A standout moment was becoming trained and accredited Therapy Dog with Therapy Dogs Australia!!

Hosted by The Mindful Collective, the event looks to fundraise for OneGirl, a charity which aims to educate girls in third world countries, specifically Uganda and Sierre Leone. All ticket sales from Evie’s big day will be donated to OneGirl. There will food, dogs, good vibes and over $3000 worth of raffle prizes!!


When:

9.30am-11.30am, August 4th

Where:

Sunset Dog Park, 30 Monoplane St, Ashgrove QLD 4060

 

Ticket Pricing:

Silver: $5 for 1 raffle tickets and a gift bag
Gold: $10 for 3 raffle tickets, a gift bag
Platinum: $20 for 8 raffle tickets, a gift bag
There will be delicious pupcakes and cupcakes for purchase! We ask for these to be prepurchased so we know how many to order!
Cupcake Price: $5.50
Pupcake Price: $5.50

 

Raffle:

Don’t forget that we have over $3000 worth of prizes! The tickets will include a certain number of raffle tickets, which you can put towards a prize of your choosing! You can throw it all into a single prize or diversify your risk (a bit of business strategy there 😉). The current amazing prize sponsors, as it stands, includes:

Not only do we have this but everyone will get a gift bag filled with local goodies and vouchers! From awesome businesses like:

 

If you would like to come along, head over to our Facebook page and purchase a ticket!

 

We hope to see you there!!

 

FAQs

 

I don’t have a dog but I do love them, is this event for me?

Absolutely!!  Come along to cuddle someone else’s dog and enter the raffle!!

 

My dog is often scared and unpredictable around other dogs, should I bring them?

In the spirit of safety, this isn’t the event for them.  We would not recommend bringing them along to a big dog park packed with excited humans and puppers.  We would recommend bringing them to seek further training (perhaps even with the team at Therapy Dogs Australia – they do more than just therapy dog training) to help with their anxiety.  It would be great to have them next year!!

 

Where can I sneak a coffee and bathroom break before/during/after the event?

There are many amazing places close by; however, the closet would be Banneton Bakery on Waterworks Road.

 

Are there minimum age requirements to enter the event?

Anyone under the age of 16 needs an adult accompanying them as Evie’s party is in a public dog park and we have absolutely no control over the dogs and people who are using the park at the same time.

 

What are my parking options for getting to and from the event?

Parking and access to the park are available on Monoplane Street and Barnett Road.  Please see the Translink website for current public transport options.

 

What should I bring into the event?

Your mates, your doggos and a printout or screenshot of your ticket to claim your raffle tickets!

 

How can I contact the organiser with any questions?

Contact Nikita on 0451060764 or hello@themindfulcollective.co

 

DISCLAIMER

The Mindful Collective and other local businesses involved in Evie’s 2nd Birthday Party do not accept responsibility and cannot be held liable for injuries, illness or other negative outcomes caused during this event.  This public event is being held in a public dog park and the team have absolutely no control over the attendees, their dogs or dogs and people who are using the park at the same time.  Please be very mindful of your children and pups during this event.

Juggling Work Life Balance with Entrepreneur Korryn Haines

Korryn Haines is juggling all of the balls of life, virtual assistant and small business owner of Encore Admin Consulting, mum of two (and a fur child), wife, sister, daughter and friend. Based in Brisbane, Korryn is currently navigating a small business three days per week whilst spending as much time as possible with her young family. She decided to join The Mindful Collective’s Self-Care Course to try and bring back some clarity into her day, and with all of the competing demands in her life, she felt like she has lost her way. I was lucky to be able to have a chat with her to find out what she does for self-care.

 

What does a day in your life look like?

A day in my life is controlled chaos (as a Mum to a 4 and 1-year-old, wife to a very patient husband, and small business owner that’s the best way I can describe it). My kids are in daycare 3 days per week so on those three days I’m head down bottom up doing administrative support work for my numerous clients all in varying industries. So the majority of my days are started with a cup of tea and if I can manage to beat the kids before they wake up sitting and writing in my journal (helps clear my head of the clutter for the day). Then it’s hubby and I tag-teaming to get the kids ready and off to daycare. As I work from home I try and work in 1-hour timeslots with my client work and take breaks throughout the day with either a walk or a cuppa out on the back verandah. Some days I get out of my home office and work from a cafe or head to a networking event just to change it up and be amongst noise and life instead of being in my office all the time. Then at the end of the day I’m usually picking the kids up from daycare and we head straight into dinner, bath bed routine and once they are down I either punch out any urgent work that needs finishing off, heading for a shower and a quick read of a book in bed / chat with hubby about our days.

 

We would love to hear about your mindfulness/self-care journey! What helpful changes have you noticed along the way?

Doing Amy-Kate’s online course actually opened my eyes to my lack of self-care going on (in the day I described is very much most of my days) so it reminded me to step back and find the pockets of activities and ways I could bring some of my own enjoyable activities into my days. So now I have started taking drum lessons once a fortnight and I am absolutely loving it. I’m also reading more (the pocket of time before I go to sleep is that right there). I’m also stopping and taking things in a lot more instead of going run run run. I’m not perfect at it but it’s changing – it’s definitely something you forget in the busyness of the day to day life.

 

Which stress-busting tools have you noticed work well for you?

Movement and exercise are my biggest. Pre-kids it was boxing but now I’ve had to wind that back to just some form of exercise consistently. So every week I head to my gym (which has a creche) and make sure I do a BodyPump class at least once a week and I try and fit in a second when I can. Then 1-2 mornings a week I will try and go for a walk with Angel my Cocker Spaniel. The physicality of moving the stress out with exercise is what works best for me.

 

How do you express your creative self in your work/parenting?

I’m very lucky in my line of work that I can flex my creative thinking muscle in coming up with processes and solutions for my clients with their administrative tasks and how they can best do things in their businesses with specific software and apps. I honestly have built my business in doing the work that I genuinely enjoy and saying no to the things that I don’t. And parenting, with my kids so young, they’re definitely forcing me to unlock my imagination and get creative with how I can keep them entertained. It’s amazing watching them learn and take in the new things around them and working out how to do tasks every single day.

 

Who inspires your self-care, and why?

Firstly, my kids – if I can’t be 100% for myself then I can’t be 100% for them. And secondly my husband – he really does endure me at my worst when the ends are fraying, and he has managed to keep focused on maintaining his own self-care activity since becoming a Dad so I realise I need to do the same. It’s a juggling act but we are getting there.

 

How do you stay motivated to care for yourself?

It is really hard – but I keep reminding myself it’s the small steps and small actions that add up – if I skip the one small thing I have for myself each day then it adds up to a big problem to fix.

 

How does social media fit into your self-care perspective?

Social media – especially in my line of work – is too easy to fall down the rabbit hole. So I’ve now set up a timer to switch off the apps after a certain amount of use per day as well as after 6 pm every night. I’m also much more mindful about the types of accounts I follow – if they truly inspire me yes. If they bring up bad self-talk in me, then no, unfollow. I also use social media to keep connected with people that lift me up and will give me the tough love when I need it so it’s fantastic in that way.

 

Share your thoughts on values-centred living.

Again, doing Amy-Kate’s course really highlighted how much listening to your own values have an impact on how you approach everything you do day-to-day. I have honestly been trying to do all the things that I thought others thought I should do and I’ve really been stepping back and evaluating how much that aligns with my values. It was no wonder I was feeling so depleted and not finding the motivation and joy in things that I usually did, it was because I had lost sight of what my values were and was just running on the treadmill trying to keep up with the direction I had found myself in. It really is a one-way ticket to burnout very quickly.

Korryn Haines

Thank you Korryn for an incredibly motivating interview! I love how you were able to step back and reevaluate how you conduct your day to day life to align with your personal values and not others.

If you want to learn more about Korryns business, head over to her website and see what she is all about! https://www.encoreadminconsulting.com.au/

Now, we do offer an online personal self-care course which is starting very soon from the time of publishing. This course aims to provide you with the skills and knowledge to effectively care for yourself, fueled by your own personal values! Head to themindfulcollective.co/online-courses/ if you are interested!

Spirituality with Mindful Yogi & New Mama, Alanna

We are incredibly excited to introduce Alanna! Alanna is a certified Ashtanga and Vinyasa Flow yoga teacher, experienced in the areas of asana, pranayama, meditation and relaxation. She completed her yoga teacher training in India in January, 2014.
Alanna’s yoga journey began more than eight years ago and has been an enlightening journey of self-exploration, expression and discovery. For Alanna, yoga has become a way of life, offering a deeper connection to herself, to others and to the world around her. Alanna offers yoga retreats in Byron Bay, Brisbane and Bali as well as open classes, groups, privates and corporate classes in Brisbane Australia. As a teacher, she is interested in the cultivation of inner peace, truth and love. Her classes are grounded in the awareness of breath, foundation and the Yamas and Niyamas. Alanna’s classes and retreats are open to all levels as she believes yoga is for everyone.

Alanna took some time to chat with us about her spiritual practice and perspectives!

 

What form of meditation do you prefer?

I practice different types of meditation, but daily I practice Transcendental Meditation.

 

What are some changes you’ve noticed in your life since beginning your mindfulness journey and how have these helped you achieve your goals?

Almost everything! I am more connected and aware of how my past and my future reflect in my present moment + that love is always the answer. Goals…I do my best to let life unfold as naturally as possible…something I haven’t always done! We all need some crazy powerful stress-busting tools and techniques – we would love to hear works for you!

 

Breathing! But also a daily ritual of something that makes you feel good. Whether that be yoga, meditation, kissing your partner, a walk, singing to your children or a quiet cup of tea…it’s commitment to daily practice that dissolves stress and grows love.

 

Have you had a delicious experience of mindful eating? If so, give us all the juicy details!

I don’t do diets. I am more interested in connecting with your food, as you do your body. Eating blindfold is a wonderful way to do this. You eat slower, are more aware of flavour and more connected with how the food makes you feel. I think mindful eating is simple…eat foods that make you feel good. We would love to hear of a powerful experience you’ve had of people coming together for a cause -as a collective. My partner and I attended Kumbh Mela in India in 2013. The festival runs for 55 days, attracts over 120 million pilgrims and only happens every 12 years. The faith, devotion and worship I experienced at Kumbh Mela is something I will hold with me always. However, giving birth was the most spiritual experience I have had. It was beautiful.

 

Have you always been into wellness or was there a light-bulb moment that sparked your health journey?

I have practiced yoga since 2003, however I did have a defining moment when I decided to leave my job in New York as a producer for New York Fashion Week and travel to India to study yoga. I have never looked back.

Run us through the typical day in the life of your wonderful self…

  • I wake early
  • Family cuddles in bed with my beautiful man Nigel, son Rumi and dog Blackie
  • Meditate while breastfeeding
  • Do some journaling/creative writing
  • Have breakfast
  • Sun bath in the backyard
  • Practice yoga
  • Lunch
  • Afternoon emails
  • Family walk… we try to walk barefoot on the grass (for grounding) and do a few inversions (for mindbody balance and perspective) everyday
  • Bath + massage and dress Rumi for bed
  • Meditate while breastfeeding Rumi
  • Put Rumi to bed
  • Dinner with Nigel
  • Read or watch a film
  • Bed as early as possible

 

What is your secret nutrition weapon?

Balance, sleep and greens.

 

What’s your favourite daily health ritual, and why?

My yoga and meditation practice – its gives me the energy to give more to others.

 

Do you have a quote you live your life by?

Look within.

 

How do you express your creative self?

I have a personal artist practice – I sing, I dance, I write. Art plays a huge role in my life.

 

What’s your favourite way to treat yourself?

A yoga class (on my own…a rare moment now that I am a mama!)

 

How do you embrace yourself, flaws and all – even in self-critical times?

I remember that it all begins with me – if I don’t love myself, how will I love others.

 

How do you manage to stay motivated both in your personal life and work life, even on those mediocre, flat days?

My son gives me good reason to get on my mat and practice every day.

 

Who inspires you and why?

My family, because I learn and grow with them everyday.

 

What is your life vision for the next 5 years?

To learn, to grow and to love.

 

What advice would you love to give beautiful women just beginning their wellness journey?

I think every journey starts with self worth. Saying to yourself, I am worthy of… Start there and the rest will flow.

 

Alanna, thank you so much for taking some time to chat with us about your life, your perspective and your beautiful family. For more gentle and kind inspiration, check out www.yogawithalanna.com (and if you’re heading to an upcoming retreat – Rochelle and I will probably see you there!) Alanna has kindly offered her email address: hello@yogawithalanna.com So if you would like to touch base with Alanna, you can slip through an email.

Unleash Fit Living with Alisha!

My name is Alisha, and my business is Unleash Clean Eating Fit Living! I’m a personal trainer and holistic health coach who loves empowering women to experience health from the inside out and live abundantly!

 

Let’s cut straight to the chase, have you always been into wellness or was there a light-bulb moment that sparked your health journey?

My love of fitness began in Year 12 when my PDHPE teacher arranged for our class to attend weekly Les Mills classes during one of our modules. Ever since then I’ve had a gym membership wherever I’ve lived, and fell in love with lifting weights. Over the years I’ve learnt A LOT from personal experience, various trainers and experts as to the different approaches to fitness. I will forever be a student, however I’ve come to believe that fitness is not the be-all and end-all of being healthy. It’s gotta start with how you think about yourself, and what you feed your body.

 

When it comes to healthy eating, I remember once upon a time I had a cat. And I named it Green Butter. I’m sure I’m probably the only person in the world to call their cat Green Butter. Why the weird name? Well, my parents brought us up pretty healthy, and we rarely used butter. Instead avocado was the favourite spread in the house – thus acquiring the name. And oh how I loved my green butter! So much that I named my first ginger cat – Green Butter

 

I was so blessed to be brought up in a family where health was a priority. As a child, my parents owned a local health food store, and we also had a huge veggie garden where we lived. Although those health principles stayed with me from an early age, I wasn’t always what you call ‘healthy.’

 

As a teenager I absolutely LOVED food! Especially bread, potato and pasta! Whenever I could eat, I ate! Luckily I was fairly active, as I played basketball all through high school, so the food didn’t pile on too excessively.

 

However looking back I remember I always had issues with bloating, pain and gassiness. It wasn’t until my early twenties when this continued to worsen that I had a sneaking suspicion I could be allergic to wheat, gluten or yeast. I got a blood test done and low and behold, I had a moderate intolerance to gluten, wheat, and yeast. Although this confirmed my suspicion, I didn’t eliminate these things straight away or completely from my diet. And I reaped the consequences. I started to not only have the previous symptoms mentioned, but began to get an eczema-type red rash around my eyes. Finally, I saw a naturopath who tested me for a candida (gut yeast infection) and put me on a strict protocol for one month. This was the BEST thing I ever did, because it forced me to eliminate the things that were hurting my body, and allowed me to break the cycle and develop new habits in my eating. I also began to avoid foods with refined sugars as well, because this was also not allowed during my month-long anti-candida diet.

 

I learnt a lot about different ways to sweeten foods naturally. I found a love for making raw vegan desserts! And I started to incorporate more organic produce, and less processed foods into my eating. I started to really believe and embrace the idea that my body is a temple. I’ve only got one body for this life, and so i better treat it with the best care possible!

 

These days, I rarely have anything that contains refined sugar, I try to avoid all gluten and wheat, and I am really picky about the animal products I eat (which is usually only eggs, and occasionally yogurt, halloumi cheese, and the odd fish). I eat heaps of fresh organic produce, make as much food from scratch as I can, and experiment all the time with new recipes and ways to create healthy and tasty food.

 

I also work out regularly, but I’ve learnt to trainer smarter not necessarily harder. I’ve realised weight gain and weight loss has more to do with the stress in my life, and the foods in my stomach than how much I’m doing cardio. I’ve finally found a career that I love, and have eliminated unnecessary stress from my life by doing what I love, and loving what I do – and that is helping change women’s lives through training, support and education on all things health & fitness!

 

Is there a form of meditation do you prefer and could you share why?

For me, my time of meditation involves connecting with my source of Life and Love (God), re-centering my mind on the intrinsic value placed on me as a daughter of God, reading scripture verses that speak into my heart as person of infinite worth and value, and focusing on what I believe is the reason I am on this planet (my purpose). I spend this time journalling, praying, reading, and reciting phrases out loud (wacky, I know)!

I endeavour to do these practices every day, morning and night. I also have begun to incorporate diaphragmatic breathing practices into this morning & evening ritual time, as I have learnt that the only way we can communicate to our bodies (specifically our Parasympathic Nervous System or our ‘rest and digest’ system) that we are not in danger is through our breathing.

I have found these practices keep my head above the waves that come in life, and help me to step back and remember the bigger picture of life, as I’m the kind of person that easily gets caught up in the nitty gritty details of life, business, relationships etc.

 

What are some changes you’ve noticed in your life since beginning your mindfulness journey and how have these helped you achieve your goals?

I have found that prioritising my devotional time every day has had a number of positive impacts:

  • I am less needy of my husband and friends for compliments and value.
  • I am more productive during my day after focusing on what my bigger picture/overall purpose is.
  • I am more patient and loving towards others.
  • I am generally less stressed throughout my day
  • I find I sleep better when I’ve spend time, particularly before bed, reflecting, re-centring and spending quiet time before going to sleep.

We all need some crazy powerful stress-busting tools and techniques – we would love to hear works for you!

A few stress-busting techniques that work for me:

  • Having someone “in my corner” (aka a coach, who luckily for me is my amazing husband) who I can download to, vent to, get stuff off my chest. I ALWAYS feel better after a good verbal download to him!
  • Definitely spending time breathing deeply, communicating to my body that I AM OK. The less stress hormones racing around my body: the better for my health!
  • Going and doing a killer workout always helps! I love high intensity training, or a good weights session to relieve stress!

Run us through the typical day in the life of your wonderful self…

My day actually starts the night before, with:

  • Making breakfast & a protein smoothie to take to work
  • Laying out my clothes for the next day
  • Ensuring I know what appointments I have the next day, and my to do list done
  • Doing my BEST to get to bed by 9:30pm (often a fail, but working on it)

THEN

  • Wake up at 4:45am
  • Drink of filtered water with squeeze of lemon. On cooler days, some grated ginger too, and warmer water. (Then keep on drinking water throughout the day, I am for minimum 2L)
  • Have a shower (to wake up some more)
  • Spend time in meditation/devotion and prayer
  • Maybe do my first Insta post for the day
  • Get to the gym with 5 minutes to spare before my first lovely lady client
  • Have fun training the awesome women I get to work with
  • When that’s done, I usually train myself. I like to lift weights, come up with new little workouts, and do some HIT training
  • Come home, spend time with my hubby, and make lunch (one of my favourite parts of the day – making food!!)
  • Spend the afternoon working on my business
  • Go back to the gym or park and train my ladies again or run a pump class at my gym – love pushing them, and seeing them achieve things they didn’t think they could week by week!
  • Come home and wind-down with my hubby (usually surf youtube)
  • Have some quiet reflection time before repeating the cycle and hitting the sack!

 

Who inspires you and why?

Dr Libby Weaver – oh my goodness! If you have not come across her books or speaking events, you are missing out! She has hugely impacted my approach to and outlook on women’s health, particularly the essential importance of the need to VALUE ourselves and LOVE ourselves in order to look after ourselves from the RIGHT place.

Chris & Heidi Powell – if you want to be inspired by amazing empowerment and people’s transformations: watch their USA series Extreme Weightloss or Extreme Makeover: Weightloss Edition! From a personal training/coaching point of view, for me they are up there! They completely engage in people’s lives, and help them make holistic changes, which are not short-term. I simply love their work.

 

What advice would you love to give beautiful women just beginning their wellness journey?

If you are just beginning your wellness journey here’s what I want you to do: Start thinking of yourself and your body as an amazing vessel. It really is! Once you start to love and value yourself and your body, you will find it easier to treat it with love and respect through the things you put into it and do with it. Once we get our mindset right, the rest will follow.

 

Alisha, thank you for being so open with us. We really appreciate the time you took to pass on your lessons, tips and tricks! And a cat named Green Butter – definitely original and so cute (haha)!

 

If you’re keen for more Unleash Fit Living information, check out Alisha’s website: www.unleashfitliving.com and send through any questions to her email: alisha@unleashfitliving.com. If you’re keen for some daily inspiration, follow her Facebook and Instagram pages! We have!

The Story of Stigma Fighters

– Sarah Fader

If you’ve never had a panic attack, you don’t know what they feel like emotionally or physically. I have had several panic attacks in my life, due to living with panic disorder. My first panic attack was at 15, though I can remember experiencing symptoms of anxiety as early as eight. I have some prevalent memories of panic from Junior High School when I was bullied as well.

 

When you think of panic, you might think of a racing heart, a fast pulse, nervousness or shaking. These are all symptoms of panic disorder, but there are other lesser known or talked about symptoms that people experience that can be terrifying. As a teenager, I experienced the traditional feelings associated with anxiety that I just referenced – rapid beating heart, sweating, shaking and feelings of dread.

 

When I entered my 30s, I began experiencing somatic symptoms associated with anxiety. It was so disarming that I thought that I had a terminal disease. I was convinced that I was dying and no medical professional could convince me otherwise. Here’s what was happening to my body: numbness and tingling in my neck, back, and one hand, tingling throughout my entire body, sometimes in the genitals even, shortness of breath and the sensation of bugs crawling on my head. It was so terrifying that I thought my demise was imminent. I went to see a neurologist. A team of doctors did a number of tests on me including a brain MRI, cervical spine MRI as well as tests to rule out autoimmune diseases. I passed all the tests with flying colors.

 

I was left thinking – what was wrong with me? It was concluded (since there was nothing medically wrong with me) that the somatic symptoms that were plaguing me were due to chronic and persistent anxiety. It was difficult for me to believe that anxiety could make me feel like I was dying, but it was clear that this was the case. I had chronic insomnia for two weeks straight because my neck was in so much pain from the radiating neuropathy I experienced. Granted, there were other factors at work as well. I had an allergic reaction to an antibiotic. However, the reality of the situation was that the pervasive demon I was facing was my own brain.

 

I was angry. I was frustrated. I didn’t believe the doctors when they told me there was nothing wrong with me and it was “just anxiety.” They were mistaken. I just knew it. There was no way that anxiety could cause symptoms this severe. I pleaded them to test me for more diseases and disorders because I couldn’t come to grips with the fact that anxiety was doing this to me. I was my own worst enemy and I couldn’t control what my brain up to. I felt sick, sad, lost and confused.

 

I remember the this condescending female neurologist speaking to me on the phone during my crisis mode. She said “Sarah, you have got to calm down. This is just anxiety.”  Those words stuck with me – just anxiety. Well, “just anxiety” was making me feel like I was going to die. Her reply was insensitive and made me feel like there was a lack of understanding with regard to my mental illness. This doctor expected me to buckle up, get it together, stop being so anxious. Lady, if that were possible don’t you think I’d have done that already.

 

It made me think about the other patients out there who are victims of the medical community’s insensitivity with regard to anxiety. Anxious patients are treated like a burden. If we call for support of medical guidance, we’re told to stop being so nervous. Once again, if this were so “easy” we would get right on that. Medical professionals need to recognize that somatic symptoms of anxiety are serious. They make us anxious people feel awful.

 

There’s a misconception that somatic symptoms of anxiety are not “real.” They are not a symptom of another medical disease (for the most part) however they are quite real.  When I felt the burning in my neck and was unable to speak, I certainly wasn’t imagining it. It’s a profoundly ignorant on behalf of the medical community to discount a patient’s physical symptoms as irrelevant because they have to do with mental illness as opposed to physical illness.

 

I want people living with anxiety to know that they are not alone. If you are experiencing your anxiety in a physical form, it’s real. Don’t let anyone tell you differently.

 

Sarah Fader is the CEO and Founder of Stigma Fighters, a non-profit organization that encourages individuals with mental illness to share their personal stories. She is an author and blogger, having been featured on Psychology Today, The Huffington Post, HuffPost Live, and Good day New York.

 

Sarah is a native New Yorker who enjoys naps, talking to strangers, and caring for her two small humans and two average-sized cats. Like six million other Americans, Sarah lives with panic disorder. Through Stigma Fighters, Sarah hopes to change the world, one mental health stigma at a time.

Dear Body

Nicole Yarham

We live in a world where comparison is the norm.  We compare our jobs, our hobbies, our weekend events, our holidays, our friends, our incomes and more shockingly our bodies.  Most of us struggle with, or have previously struggled with, body dissatisfaction, poor body image or body comparison in some way, robbing us from leading a life full of joy. This needs to stop.

 

Australia’s National Eating Disorders Collaboration defines body image as the perception that a person has of their physical self, but more importantly the thoughts and feelings the person experiences as a result of that perception.  They believe that there are four aspects of body image:

 

1. The way you see yourself (Perceptual)
The way you see your body is not always a correct representation of what you actually look like. For example, a person may perceive themselves to be fat when in reality they are underweight.  How a person sees themselves is their perceptual body image.

 

2. The way you feel about the way you look (Affective)
There are things a person may like or dislike about the way they look. Your feelings about your body, especially the amount of satisfaction or dissatisfaction you experience in relation to your appearance, weight, shape and body parts is your affective body image.

 

3. The thoughts and beliefs you feel about your body (Cognitive)
Some people believe that they will feel better about themselves if they are thinner. Others believe they will look better if they develop more muscle.  The way you think about your body is your cognitive body image.

 

4. The things you do in relation to the way you look (Behavioural)
When a person is dissatisfied with the way they look, they may employ destructive behaviours such as excessive exercising or disordered eating as a means to change appearance. Some people may isolate themselves because they feel bad about the way they look.  Behaviour in which you renege as a result of your body image encompasses your behaviour body image.1

 

With this in mind we can clearly see that as we begin to compare ourselves to others we risk affecting our thoughts, emotions and behaviour. We can easily become fixated on trying to change our body shape and get caught up in feelings of guilt and low self-esteem.  This can lead to a heightened risk of developing an eating disorder or poor body image and body dissatisfaction as we engage with unhealthy practices with food and exercise in hope of alleviating these negative feelings.

 

However we need to remember that there is no right or wrong when it comes to body shape or appearance.  Yes that can be hard to accept, however challenging the acceptance of our body shapes and limiting the comparison of ourselves is a crucial step towards feeling positive about our weight, shape, size and appearance.1

 

Having previously suffered from an eating disorder, body acceptance has been a real challenge.  I find it hard at times to love myself, limit comparisons and accept my body – imperfections and all.  Therefore I decided that something had to change.  I needed to change the way I viewed and thought about myself as well as my negative self-talk in order to have a positive effect on my thoughts, emotions and behaviour.  For that reason I decided to write a pledge not only for myself, but for all women struggling with poor body image and body dissatisfaction in hope that it would remind us to accept our true selves.

 

Dear Body,

 

I’m sorry I’ve treated you unkindly and poorly in the past.

 

You were never a problem.

 

I’m sorry for letting what other people think colour my judgment of you.


There is nothing wrong with your size, your curves, your scars, your flaws, your stretch marks or you.

 

I know you are subjected to comparisons, daily put downs and even put through pain in hopes of looking like the people on my Instagram account or Facebook newsfeed. However, it’s not your job to look “pretty” because you’re good enough already!

 

So this year instead of working against you, I will work with you.

 

Instead of going on crash diets, skipping meals, binging on junk food and sacrificing on exercise and sleep, I will try to keep you healthy and happy.

 

I know our relationship in the past has been very unstable, abusive and at times irrational and crazy but I promise to love you and be more thankful for all that you do for me and allow me to do.

 

I promise to take responsibility for why you might be feeling unwell, sluggish, lethargic and rundown and not lay the blame unfairly on you.  I promise to invest in self-care and treat you to the occasional massage or pedicure.

 

This year I promise to remind you daily that you are good enough and full of worth.  And when I look at you in the mirror I promise to silence your haters and look at you with loving eyes.

 

I will stop taking out my stress on you by abusing you through my lifestyle choices.  I will cherish you, stick up for you, encourage you, motivate you, celebrate you and embrace you because whether we like it or not, we are in this together – daily – every day – for the rest of our life.

 

With love and gracious kindness,

 

Me.

 

Take some time today to appreciate and celebrate all the amazing things that your body does for you and let these mindful words empower you to accept yourself just as you are.  Then take some time to practice self-care and say some loving words to yourself as you learn to work with your body rather than against it.

 

References (check them out for more information):

 

1. National Eating Disorders Collaboration. 2011. Body Image Fact Sheet. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.nedc.com.au/files/logos/Fact%20sheet_Body%20Image_2013.pdf. [Accessed 22 February 16].

Personalised Self-Care

for anyone who’s been looking for a good reason to treat themselves consider this.

– Nicole Yarham

Today I woke up at 4:30am to catch up on my work and unrealistic to-do list.  As I waited for my train, my weary eyes were hanging out of my head.  It was then that I reached for a sugary Caramel Macchiato and packet of salt and vinegar chips.  Breakfast of champions.  By mid-morning my head was slung over my desk as I reached for my phone that was dead as clearly my brain had a malfunction last night and I forgot to charge it.

 

You see, I’ve been feeling quite under the weather of late.

 

I can’t seem to go a day without feeling overwhelmed, stressed, tired or run down. Yet, I still continue to push forwards and take on the world. I want to be everything that I can to everyone. However, I also want to achieve absolutely every dot point on my unrealistic to do list and change the world. After all, I am a woman correct? I should be able to be amazing all day, every day while keeping my stress levels low and immune system in check.

 

Unfortunately, this has not been the case. Rather than putting myself first and making sure that I’m treating myself with care, I’ve instead run myself and my body into the ground with exhaustion.

 

What is the cure, you ask?
A little bit of tender love and self care towards myself.

 

What’s the Deal?
Often-ignored but totally necessary, self-care is any action or behaviour that helps us avoid triggering health problems (like my breakfast choices and brain malfunctions) and benefits us by improving our mental and physical health through better self-esteem, less stress and overall wellbeing.  These actions provide balance in our lives.

 

Why is self-care important?
According to research there are lots of reasons why self-care is important, however here are three main reasons presented by Reach Out Australia.

 

1. It keeps you healthy.

 Self-care helps you stay healthy! Physical movement and exercise can be a great form of self-care for different reasons. It keeps you strong, burns off nervous energy and gives you some time to forget about your responsibilities or things that stress you out. Other activities such as reading, colouring, participating in a hobby, enjoying a cup of tea or watching your favourite TV show are also a great way to distract your mind and body from things that could be stressing you out and allow you the time to slow down and enjoy the present moment.

 

2. It helps you ‘recharge’.

 Some people use self-care as a way to unwind and de-stress after a long day or week. Taking a bubble bath, meditating or even taking a nap can help people catch up on rest and ‘un-plug’ themselves from the outside world for a little while.

 

3. It can help you manage health issues.

 Self-care is sometimes a way of coping with physical or mental health issues. People with mental health issues will use self-care strategies to cope with symptoms that can be overwhelming and to make sure that they can live their lives as fully as possible.

 

Your Action Plan

There is no right or wrong way to practice self care – so long as you make the effort to practice it daily.  It’s about finding the activities that nurture you and bring you joy.  It’s about letting yourself do WHATEVER you want to do – not what someone says you should do, or you feel pressured to do. Below are some simple self-care practices that you could use to treat yourself while relieving stress, boosting happiness and returning balance to your life.  Feel free to add to this list or create your own list because the possibilities of self care are endless!

 

Get outside
Exercise
Practice mindfulness
Have a bubble bath
Make a vision board
Light some candles
Enjoy a cup of tea
Meditate
Look at the stars
Sit in a coffee shop + write
Laugh out loud
Take the long route home
Catch up with a friend + hear their voice
Get a manicure/pedicure
Learn a new hairstyle
Unplug
Colour in
Sing in the car
Keep a gratitude journal
Dance crazily
Buy yourself flowers
Be still
Pray
Cook something different
Connect with people face to face
Pinterest positive affirmations
Let go
Drink water
Run through a field
Forgive yourself
Do a random act of kindness
Read
Go to bed early
Declutter
Indulge in a massage

 

References (check these out for more information):

1. ReachOut Australia. 2015. What is Self Care?. [ONLINE] Available at: www.au.reachout.com/what-is-self-care. [Accessed 22 February 16].

 

Are You Emotionally Fit?

– Bianca Rea

 

 How do you measure emotional fitness?

 

Mental and emotional fitness, much like physical fitness, is measured by recovery rate. How quickly are you able to bounce back from a setback, rejection or negativity? We all experience this at some point in our lives. The quicker you are able to bounce back, then the fitter you are emotionally.

 

We’ve all heard about the Mind-Body Connection, the better you look after your body, the better the mind is. Physical activity increases the flow of oxygen to the brain, and boosts endorphins (feel-good chemicals) in the brain. It’s no surprise then, for this reason that people that are in good shape have a higher level of mental agility.1

 

While exercise is good for the brain, so is the ability to decompress and chill out. Failure to do this can result in stress, which can turn harmful if not managed.

 

Stress is a normal physiological reaction, which was developed in our ancient ancestors in response to danger and other threats. These days, it’s unlikely that we will face those dangers that our ancestors did, but we do face many challenges that cause our body to react in the same way. Meeting deadlines, studying, paying bills, all of these issues we face turn on the fight or flight response – boosted heart rate, increased energy, increased blood pressure etc. to enable us to deal with these problems.

 

Chronic stress relates to how we manage these problems. The longer our stress periods last, the more damage it does to our mind and bodies. Stress can also make our existing problems worse. Studies show that unmanaged stress can cause heart attacks, arrhythmias, and even sudden death.2

 

So how can we reduce or even fix stress?

 

It’s not an easy quick fix, but there are steps we can take that will go a long way of repairing the damage that has been inflicted on ourselves.

 

Identify what’s causing you stress: Being mindful of what is actually causing you to stress out will give you a strong clear pathway on how to reduce it. This also compartmentalises these issues, making it easier to plan your attack.

 

Reduce caffeine and sugar: The temporary “highs” caffeine and sugar enables you with, usually end in a deep crash, which results in lack of energy and mood swings. Reducing or avoiding these foods altogether keeps you better equipped to deal with situations and help you sleep better.3

 

Get enough sleep: Sleep is most important. Adequate sleep fuels your mind and your body. Failure to get enough quality sleep can cause you to think and act irrationally.

 

Be present: Focus on one behaviour with mindfulness. Whether it is showering and feeling the water hit your body, or listening to the water splash on the tiles. When you spend time in the moment, and focus on your senses, then you can feel less tense.

 

Be kind to yourself: Having compassion for others makes them feel better. So why not show a little compassion for yourself? Putting great pressure on yourself can only exacerbate the problems you are facing. So make sure you take some time out for yourself and let yourself get a little silly – if you feel like being completely lazy for a day and not do anything at all except watch Netflix and eat chocolate ice cream for a few hours, then let yourself. It’s this downtime that gives you an opportunity for your mind and body to rest and to avoid adrenal fatigue.

 

Learn how to say no: Know your limits and stick to them. Biting off more than you can chew is a surefire way to induce unnecessary stress in your life. Distinguish between the “shoulds”, “musts” and don’t be afraid to just say “no” when things get too much to handle.

 

Progressive muscle relaxation: This exercise shows you how to tense and relax different muscles in your body, so that you are aware of what a tensed muscle and a relaxed muscle feel like. You then become more mindful of the physical sensations. You start off by tensing the muscles in your toes and then working your way up the body till you get to your neck and head. Tense the muscle groups for five seconds and then relax for thirty seconds. Rinse and repeat.Avoid people who stress you out: If someone consistently causes stress in your life, then take steps to reduce contact with them. Limit the time you spend with them, or just end the relationship.

 

Ask for help: A problem shared is a problem halved. Don’t be afraid to ask for assistance on a problem that is bothering you and causing you unease. They don’t even need to help you fix the problem; they just need to be a good listener. Asking for advice from a friend or family member also strengthens healthy relationships so you’re getting a two-for-one discount with this one.

 

Take control: If watching the news stresses you out, turn off the TV. If you can;t handle the crowds in the supermarket, then do your grocery shopping online. Taking control of the situation

can help you in feeling like you’re managing the problem.4

 

Let us know what works for you in the comments below!

 

Written by Bianca Rea

References (check these out for more information!):

 

1. http://www.healthline.com/health/depression/mental-fitness#54

 

2. Krantz, D.S., Whittaker, K.S. & Sheps, D.S. (2011). “Psychosocial risk factors for coronary artery disease: Pathophysiologic mechanisms.” In Heart and Mind: Evolution of Cardiac Psychology. Washington, DC: APA.

 

3. http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/relaxation-technique/art-20045368

 

 4. http://www.helpguide.org/articles/stress/stress-management.htm