Saunabar LA

Recently I’ve been really focusing on all things self-care. I’ve gotten better at slowing down, at listening to my body and doing more restorative work. Focusing on self-care will hopefully help with my adrenal fatigue, anxiety and sleep issues. Some days are better than others but every day is progress. 

During Wellness Week LA I was introduced to SaunaBar. SaunaBar has different services including infrared sauna pods, lymphatic massage and a vibration machine. The first service I tried was the infrared sauna. The sauna pods emit both far and near infrared light which provides a dual detox. The beds are lined with jade stones which adds a powerful healing component.  The jade stones also are more clean, protecting you from bacteria.  The sauna benefits include improved skin, relief of pain, removal of toxins, reduction of stress and strengthening of immunity!  I left that session feeling so incredibly detoxed. Another thing I noticed that really peaked my interest was that night I slept so deeply, better than I had in months. I was actually startled awake by my alarm which never happens. I had to get a package here and see if the sauna pod could consistently help with my sleep. 

The next time I went, I did a full trifecta of services. I started with the vibration machine, moved onto the lymphatic massage and ended with a sauna. 

The vibration plate is very interesting. You stand on this machine that has a vibrating plate under your feet. You work on engaging your muscles and work through a few different moves on it. The vibration machine transmits energy to your body, forcing your muscles to contract and relax dozens of times each second.  It has been known to tone and build muscle, increase bone mineral density, tighten the skin and reduce high blood pressure.  I finished that session feeling a little wobbly but I had more of a strength and tightness feeling throughout my muscles. 

Next up was the lymphatic massage. The lymphatic system is a system of organs and tissue that helps break down and rid the body of toxins, waste, and unwanted materials.  This system removes excess fluids from the body’s tissues, absorbs fatty acids and produces immune cells.  The lymphatic massage uses air compression to stimulate a wave like constriction and relaxation of muscles inside your body.  You lay down on a table and basically slide pant legs onto your legs and then your torso is wrapped up as well. You lay for 30 minutes as different areas of your body are tightly compressed. It felt like a really good deep tissue massage. Some of the benefits include removal of toxins, improved circulation, cellulite reduction, reduction of appearance of varicose veins, and soothes muscle cramps.

At this point after the first two services I was already feeling super relaxed.  I was ready to take it all home as I went into the last session, the sauna pod. You lay in naked, with just socks on (to keep the heat in your body). Your head sticks out the top and you lay for 40 min at 150 degrees. During this session, I did a 20-minute meditation and then dozed off into a nap. When the time ended, I was so sweaty and also felt so rejuvenated. I already felt like I was ready for a super deep sleep. 

Now for the exciting part, it happened again. I could barely keep my eyes open on the couch past 9pm that night and woke up the next morning like omg what day is it, where am I? I felt so refreshed and had fallen asleep in a blink of an eye. Another amazing thing was how good my body felt! I had done a hard stair work out that morning, one I hadn’t done in a few weeks and normally I would have woken up extremely sore. Doing all 3 services that day totally helped with muscle recovery and left me bounding out of bed in the morning. 

The bottom line is, I’m hooked. This is absolutely going to be a staple in my self-care routine. I even joked with Derek that we need to get a sauna pod of our own, unfortunately I don’t think it would match our living room decor. SaunaBar you make me feel amazing, you’ve facilitated some of my best sleep, I’m a fan for life. 

They are located in Brentwood so if you’re local you absolutely need to go!! Take care of yourself, mind body and spirit.  www.SaunaBar.com 

 

Traveling and anxiety

Since I have admitted to myself that I have been struggling with anxiety issues for quite some time now, I am able to look at past experiences and behaviors and they make more sense.  Something that I love but is also difficult for me is traveling.  I know people experience anxiety around travel, people afraid of flying, not comfortable in the stress of an airport, but mine is much different.  I don’t get anxious about the actual travel, the flying or the environment I will be in.  I get anxious about everything else.  I worry about being out of my routine, I worry about sleeping somewhere other than my bed, I worry about the food I will be eating, I worry about what access to a gym I will have, along with many other things.  Some of these things have gotten way better since I have worked out other issues and I will dig into these anxieties a little bit deeper.

Being out of my routine is extremely difficult for me.  I am a creature of habit, it is where I feel safe, where I don’t feel vulnerable.  When you travel, you are obviously forced into a completely different routine.  This is something I worry about the moment I plan a trip.  I am simultaneously excited and anxious as soon as I hit the book button.  Being in control all the time is something I have been working on.  I take little steps as much as I can to give up control.  When I am less in need of having control, it makes a different routine easier.  These little things may seem silly to some but to me they are something I am proud of.  I will ask Derek at the beginning of the week what he wants as dinners instead of me just planning everything out.  I will let Derek pick what we should do after dinner whether that be sit outside on our balcony, take a walk, or watch TV.  I still always insist on driving, but that is a big thing I hope to get to eventually.  These little steps of being more okay with letting go of control have made traveling feel a little less overwhelming.

The anxiety over the sleeping somewhere different is a huge thing.  The sleep issues I have revolve around a fear that I won’t be able to fall asleep.  I basically set myself up to fail by telling myself if my bedtime routine isn’t the same every night or if I am out after 7pm that I won’t fall asleep.   When my sleeping troubles first started, I did research on the subject and found a lot of people recommended having a consistent routine.  I of course took this to an extreme level.  I found little things that helped me fall asleep but now my mind set is if I don’t do x, y, z then I absolutely wont sleep.  It is an all or nothing way of thinking.  By finding a consistent bedtime routine, I basically made myself a prisoner to it.  This is why traveling is so difficult.  I will be out of my element; I may not have access to what I think I need to sleep or I will be doing things much differently than I am used to and this can throw me into a panic.  I basically convince myself before I even arrive at my destination that I won’t be able to sleep during the trip.  I then get extremely frustrated with myself for having these thoughts and I throw myself into a vicious negative feedback loop.  What I have been working on in therapy to help with this is having more compassion for myself.  Instead of getting mad at myself for thinking I won’t sleep, I try and tell myself it is ok, I place my hand over my heart and I breathe.  I give myself some time in bed awake, calm time where I am not getting exacerbated at myself, and if an hour passes by I allow myself to take a sleep aid.  The little things I am doing to help me with needing control like the night time walks are also helping me with getting out of the mindset that I have to be home on my couch at 7pm with my bed time tea to be able to sleep. 

The food anxiety is something that used to be a lot worse than it is now but it is still something I struggle with.  I am a very healthy eater.  It used to be more out of restriction and because I thought I had to eat with restriction to look a certain way.  Now I eat that way because it is what makes my body feel the best.  I know certain foods make me feel tired or bloated or give me stomach issue and I typically avoid them.  When you are traveling, especially to other countries, it is hard to get food you are used to.  I used to get so anxious about this, constantly worrying about where I would eat, what I would be able to order out and what kind of things I could pack with me to bring.  I used to drive myself crazy with how much I would worry about it. Things have gotten better and I’m less anxious about it now.  I still always looks up restaurants I will be near and search menus for things I know I would want to eat.  I am less adventurous with eating out than I probably should be but honestly I don’t want to risk feeling like crap.  I still make sure to always bring bars or others snacks to have with me in case I need extra food.  I also always pack food for the plane.  Airports are notoriously bad with food choices so I like to always have a full meal and snacks packed. 

The last thing that really causes me anxiety around traveling is how I will be able to work out.  Again, I have gotten better at this.  In the past working out was more out of an obsession rather than just doing it because it made me feel good.  Since I was diagnosed with adrenal fatigue I have been much better at taking a step back from exercises and I am much better with rest days.  I still can’t say I would ever take a full week off so I do get anxious about workouts when traveling.  When I am booking hotels I always make sure it has a gym.  I very rarely will book somewhere that doesn’t, but sometimes that is the only option.  I will also search for yoga studios or other workout classes in the nearby area to see if they will fit into my schedule.  Being a morning person is helpful because I know I can get myself up and get a workout in before it is time to adventure/explore for the day.  I always have to work out before I get on an airplane, even if I have to wake up extra early to do so.  There is still something about sitting on a plane for long hours without any physical activity that drives me crazy.  I am hoping to get better at this, to one day just pick a hotel just because I like it and not even worry about if it has a gym or not. 

Anxiety about traveling is very tough for me because I love to travel.  I want to see the world.  I want to explore new places and see how other people live.  Working on my general anxiety has definitely helped when it comes to travel.  Many of my issues cross over so working on them in one aspect of my life helps with the other.  When living with anxiety, every day is a new day and every day can be a step forward and sometimes it can be a step back.  I am never going to let my anxiety keep me from doing something that I love.  I am just finding ways to help make it less.  The less my anxiety is the more of my trips I know I will enjoy.  Even now there is still a little voice inside my head telling me I will have sleep issues or that I need to eat healthier or move more.  I am working towards quieting that voice and knowing that it does not have power over me.  I am not my thoughts and I deserve to have the compassion towards myself to work out these issues and I plan to do so!

What yoga means to me

Yoga has and forever will have a very special place in my heart. I found yoga at a time that I truly needed it the most. I found yoga when i was lost, sad, confused and uncertain. Yoga has been there for me when I needed strength, when I needed humility, when I needed guidance and when I needed a sense of purpose. Yoga is a part of me that I will never lose.

I started yoga in college when I needed an escape. I was stressed out and needed something to relieve the stress. I was going to school in Vermont at the time and did some google searching to find some local studios. I found there was a bikram studio not too far from campus so I decided to check it out. (I also was drawn to the heat since this is a time where I thought I needed to sweat a ton to have a good workout) 

My first class I was blown away by how challenging it was. I never would have guessed that standing holding poses would be so damn tough. I was also drawn to the dedication and discipline the other students had. In a traditional bikram class, it is 90 minutes long and no music is played. I thought that I would get bored or be too in my head without music playing but I was so wrong. I felt so connected to my body and my breath that the time just flew by. I left that day with a sense of calm and a feeling that I found something truly special. 

That studio became a safe haven for me throughout the rest of my college days. It gave me a community I felt safe with and connected to. It gave me meaningful friendships and people to turn to when I needed support. The teachers became people I admired and respected and I knew that I wanted to give that same feeling to others. I wanted to share what yoga gave to me. 

After I graduated, I decided to go to LA to do a teacher training at Core Power. My plan had been to just do the training and then move back to NJ. Once again yoga had a plan and set me up for a new path, an incredible life on the west coast. Being in a new city all alone was definitely scary. In the beginning, I questioned my decision a lot, wondering why I would move so far away from my family and the things that I knew. It took me a little while to open up in teacher training, I can be rather shy. Once i felt comfortable with my group I began to form amazing friendships and connections. Core power became my home away from home. It helped me find my voice, to be comfortable in front of others, to believe in myself and it allowed me to share a gift with my students. Most of my friendships now can be traced back to a core power connection. 

Yoga gave me a life I never imagined possible. It has given me the opportunity to have a job that doesn’t feel like a job. It has allowed me to travel. It has allowed me to live a life that feels truly authentic. It has given me the chance to give to others what it has given to me. Some of my most vulnerable moments have been in a yoga class, getting to Savasana and just crying.   I have learned so much about myself through my practice and continue to grow on and off my mat every day. 

I am forever grateful for my yoga practice and everything it has given me. There is nothing I love more than seeing the looks on my students faces after class, that yoga bliss. I am proud of myself for trying something unconventional, for following a passion, for taking a risk. There have been times I doubt myself, whether what I’m doing is meaningful or important. These are times I know I need to step onto my mat more and move and breath and feel. I always get the reassurance I need. Yoga you have truly changed my life, thank you. 

What I have uncovered in therapy so far

The common theme coming up in my therapy sessions and what seems to be the root cause of my struggles with anxiety is that somewhere along the way I created a story that I wasn’t good enough. Things like compassion for myself, being patient with myself, not being so damn hard on myself all the time have been showing themselves in visualization exercises and they all circle back to feelings that I am not enough. We have just barely broken the surface on this but I wanted to share what I have realized so far and how I have been working towards rewriting my story. 

The first thing we began to work on was my anxiety around falling asleep. We do a visualization exercise to see what parts of myself are causing my sleep anxiety.  I think of myself going to bed at night and see what starts to come up. The first thing that ever came up from this was compassion. I sat with the feeling of anxiety and asked why it was there. The first word that popped into my head was compassion. I am an extremely compassionate person, maybe even to a fault. If I really sit with that, I can admit that I may have compassion for others but I absolutely lack compassion for myself. I am always upset with myself for something and I’ve been like that for a while. In the past during my college years, when I was dealing with a control based negative relationship with food I would be upset with myself if I ate something I didn’t deem approved. I would be upset with myself if I felt I didn’t push hard enough in my workout, didn’t sweat enough. I was upset with myself for not getting the internship I need to pursue my RD. Instead of handling these situations with compassion, telling myself it was okay and I was doing the best I could, I was extremely hard on myself and would get angry.  Somewhere on my path I convinced myself I wasn’t deserving of self-compassion. 

Another thing that came up was patience. During many years of teaching sailing to children and nannying I developed some skills in being patient. I definitely do not apply the same level of patience to myself. If I want to change something and it doesn’t happen instantly, I get frustrated with myself. Take therapy for example. After my first session, I had a few nights of anxious sleep where I had trouble falling asleep and I was extremely frustrated with myself. Like anyone could be “cured” after one therapy session. But of course, I felt I should be. Another example is if I set a goal for myself, something measurable, I get frustrated if it doesn’t happen as quickly as I think it should. This lack of patience with myself just negatively spirals me to my lack of self-compassion. 

The last thing I have uncovered so far, something I’ve deep down always known, is just overall being so hard on myself. Nothing I do or say feels good enough. I’ve tried to be more conscious of this and I constantly catch myself having such bad negative self-talk. In a yoga class, instead of feeling strong and open, I tear myself apart. “That pose looks weird.” “You have armpit fat sticking out of your bra.” Really harsh things that are so far from true. I am my own toughest critique.  I will leave a yoga class I just taught and think to myself “that could have been better.”

I have realized that I keep myself from going out and being social, especially in large groups, because I feel inadequate. I feel like I have nothing to offer and I’ll be judged. In reality, the only person judging me is me. 

I don’t know when or why I have created this narrative. I can’t pinpoint a specific time or event that may have led me to believe I wasn’t enough. I am hoping through continued work I will be able to uncover where this all came from. Figuring that out excites me and also terrifies me.

So far through my journey with therapy I have realized a great deal. I am now working every day to create a new positive thought pattern. If I catch myself thinking something negative I will turn around and follow up with something positive. I breath through my frustrations with myself. I constantly remind myself that it’s ok, things take time and I’m doing my best. I come up with daily affirmations. I am working towards loving my body and knowing I am so much more than just a physical being.

 

I am strong 

I am worthy 

I am enough 

I am smart

I am deserving of self-love 

I am only human 

I am doing the best that I can 

I will fail and that’s okay 

I am grateful for a body that allows me to do the things I love 

Big lifestyle changes and the first year of marriage

We all know that the first year of marriage is tough. When you’re engaged and wedding planning that’s all your mind is really focusing on. Once the knot is tied and you settle into everyday life, that’s when you start to notice how different being married is. Here you are living with the love of your life who most likely has different habits than you and you have to navigate how those habits will coexist together. Since many people now live together before marriage, it’s more than just if one person is messy and one is clean or one person wants the temperature to be 74 and one wants it 68. It’s more about your lives being completely intertwined and making sure both people are getting what they need. You start to have to delegate vacation time to each family and decide where you are going for holidays. You start to fall into your married routine and roles around the house. All of these changes make the first year really tough. If anyone tells you they don’t fight with their SO the first year of marriage I’d have to guess they aren’t being 100% truthful. It’s totally normal and it’s nothing to feel weird about or feel like you’re failing at marriage. 

Derek and I have definitely been feeling the toughness of this new chapter of our lives. We fight, we argue, we get angry, we get sad, things get emotional, but all of these things are necessary to grow together and build a true strong foundation. We are trying to figure out how to tell the other what we really want/need without being afraid to hurt feelings. We are trying to be the most open and honest with each other that we can. We are working on giving each other space when needed and knowing when comfort is needed over alone time.  I am someone who likes to have control so I am working on not letting those tendencies spill over to controlling Derek.  There are lots of things we are struggling with and working on.  There is one thing that has made this transition into marriage even tougher, the life style changes I have decided to make during this hard time in life.

I am sure most of you know by now that I am working towards new health habits and goals.  After seeing a functional medicine doctor, I learned there were areas of my health that really needed attention.  Being a vegetarian for years left me with some severe nutrient deficiencies.  Chronic stress and over exercising fried my adrenal glands.  Derek and I both discovered we had SIBO and needed to follow a special diet in order to heal our gut issues.  I am someone that is all in or all out.  I don’t like to start new things only half way.  Since this is the case, I decided to take on this issues all at once, head on.  If I really understood how different and difficult adjusting into marriage was, I don’t think I would have made all these changes at once.  But I did and it has taught me and Derek a lot. 

First there is the LOWFODMAP diet that we are on to treat SIBO (small intestinal bacteria overgrowth).  We had a 2-month elimination period where our diet was extremely restricted.  There were many things we loved to eat that were now off limits.  Another tough part of the diet is it is socially isolated.  It is pretty impossible to eat out so we basically stopped having a social life.  This is where the difficulty came into play.  Everyone needs their space and alone time; it is human nature.  Since we haven’t been going out and socializing much, we are spending ALL our time together.  Derek and I both work from home so we are pretty much always together.  Spending all this time together is nice but it also causes us to get on each other’s cases more.  We are adjusting into married life, being together all the time, and not having an outlet of going out and seeing friends that much.  I love Derek more than anything, he is my best friend, but people need to be around other people as well.  Tackling this diet 4 months into marriage may have not been the best idea but we have certainly grown from it.  We have the time to really communicate and fix any conflicts we have.  We may argue but we have never had a fight go over into the next day.  We use our time together to talk and work through whatever the issue may be but it does get tough not being able to go out and have a nice vent session with some friends.

The other big change I have made is with my diet and exercise.  I have now been eating meat and more fats in my diet. Things that have been tough for me to change. I am working out way less and trying to let my body rest when I need. Mentally that has been extremely hard, I always think I should be doing more. My diet and exercise are both coping mechanisms for stress.  Having control of these things helps me to calm down.  It is ironic that my stress relief methods are also the cause of my health issues.  Since I have changed these areas of my life, I have been a little more irritable (maybe a little is an understatement).  On a Friday night after a long week I can’t just curl up on my couch with a bowl of halo top to unwind. (because of the lowfodmap diet) Instead I am sitting there with a bowl of carrots and little things Derek may do will irritate me more.  These feelings are completely unfair, but since I am doing less of the things that used to help me relax, I am quicker to get upset.  I have been implementing other techniques such as meditation, reading, and more slow walks but it is still a process. 

The first year of marriage is tough and adding big lifestyle changes has definitely made it harder.  Some days are more frustrating than others but overall the past 9 months have been an amazing opportunity to really get to know each other and to build a foundation of strength for the future.  We argue, bicker, fight, yell, cry, but those are all human emotions and responses.  I would honestly be more worried if everything felt perfect and we never disagreed.  We are finding our roles together; we are learning every intimate detail about each other that we can and we are continuing to love each other over everything else.  I tell Derek all the time, “there is no one else in the world I would rather fight with than you.”