Civana, my first wellness resort experience

It has always been a dream of mine to experience some sort of wellness retreat.  It is hard to believe that after being a yoga teacher for eight years and such a wellness enthusiast that it has taken me this long to do it.  I was doing some searching online for wellness resorts in Arizona and I came across Civana.  I was immediately drawn to the serene desert landscape and the welcoming vibe it portrayed.  I looked over their website and saw that they were a small desert sanctuary tucked away just outside of Scottsdale in Carefree Arizona.  They offer a huge selection of daily fitness/wellness classes that range from yoga to circuit training to finding your spirit animal.  They have an incredible restaurant with tons of dairy free, gluten free, and vegetarian options and an absolutely stunning spa.  Also, the rooms are spacious and the pool layout is just about perfect.  With a very busy upcoming schedule, I decided it would be the perfect time to get away for my first wellness centered trip.  I even got Derek to join me after promising him a game of golf and showing him that it wasn’t going to be all kale and green juices.

When I arrived Thursday evening I was immediately taken in by the desert landscape.  The way the cacti looked against the setting sun was breathtaking.  I noticed the quiet and stillness and instantly felt grounded.  I dropped off my bags in the room, took a stroll around to get my bearings, and then sat outside for a lovely dinner.  I ordered a kale salad with grilled salmon.  The salmon was cooked perfectly, crispy on the outside yet melt in your mouth on the inside.  I enjoyed my meal while watching the sky turn a magnificent pink color and I knew right away the next three days were going to be perfect.  Derek arrived later that evening, ready for a calm and relaxing weekend.   

Friday morning, I woke up and hit the gym.  They have a cardio room, a room for strength training, and also a room focused on flexibility.  After a nice warm up incline walk on the treadmill, I went to a circuit training class.  The instructor for the class was super cute and friendly but also kicked our butts.  We did 90 seconds on, 30 seconds off circuits and worked our entire bodies.  After class I grabbed an iced latte and a delicious smoothie from their little juice bar café.  Derek and I took a walk together around the property and then decided to hang by the pool before our afternoon spa appointments.  They have lounge chairs surrounding the pool and huge umbrellas if you are feeling the shade, which is usually where I gravitate towards.  We had lunch where Derek had a bomb wrap with sweet potato fries, which I eagerly stole, and I had one of the best salads made up of kale, fresh berries, almonds, and grilled chicken.  I can’t forget to mention my new favorite cocktail, fresh carrot and lime juice with spirulina and tequila.  It sounds odd but it was very refreshing. 

The second part of our day was my favorite, the spa.  The spa offers a huge variety of services including massages, facials, reiki, and anything magical you can think of.  We went to our appointment about an hour early to take advantage of all the spa amenities.  They have their own pool which you can hang out by before or after your treatment.  The locker rooms are gorgeous, with light wood and healing crystals all around.  We spent some time in the hot/cold tubs, where we went from the hot tub into basically an ice-cold tub which felt extremely uncomfortable but also amazing at the same time.  Then we spent some time in the sauna and the eucalyptus steam rooms before our treatment time.  Derek had a deep muscle release massage which he absolutely loved and my spa treatment was something I have never had before.

I booked a sensory immersion therapy session which was 100 minutes of total bliss.  I started off soaking in a sea salt and mineral hot bath for about 25 minutes to really heat up my body.  After this I was wrapped in a really cold seaweed sheet and a few more wrap layers for another 25 minutes.  During this time as my body was detoxifying, heating up the wrap until it was basically steaming and I had a crystal on my third eye, a cool lavender towel over my eyes and a guided meditation playing in my ears.  At first I felt a little claustrophobic being wrapped up so tightly but this feeling quickly faded away and I sank into a deep relaxation.  The final part of the treatment was an incredible 50-minute facial with algae and seaweed based products that left me feeling so refreshed and glowing.  We both left our treatments feeling so relaxed and very zen, it was perfection.

That night we had a fabulous dinner at the resort restaurant, Terra.  I started off with roasted beets and followed up with an entrée of steak which was cooked to absolute perfection with a side of wilted spinach and roasted carrots.  Derek had Thai coconut mussels to start and a rack of lamb with a white bean salad. To end the evening, we had coconut sorbet with a hard chocolate shell and an assortment of truffles, both heaven in our mouths. We were both incredibly impressed with the presentation and taste of all of our food.  It was genuinely one of my favorite dining experiences.  The beautiful sun setting over mountains and cacti doesn’t hurt either.

Saturday morning, we got up early, played a game of golf, well I tried to play golf, I am still working on those skills.  We came back to the resort after for lunch and pool side lounging.  That afternoon I took a gentle yoga class.  Usually gentle isn’t my thing but I was so happy I did it.  It felt so nice to actually slow down, stretch deeply and give my body those slow intentional moves.  It actually showed me that I need to implement much more of that into my life.

Overall, the three-day wellness resort mini retreat exceeded all of my expectations.  Just their selection of classes alone makes Civana an incredible retreat and then you add all of the other parts of it and it becomes an actual desert oasis of wellness paradise.  I am so happy that I finally decided to give myself that level of self-care.  I left feeling way more peaceful, grounded, and appreciative.  It is truly amazing what some quality self-care time can do for the mind, body, and soul.  I am 100% going back and may even make it a yearly tradition or hold my own yoga retreats there in the future.  Who wants to join me?!

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Getting yourself out of a negative head space

Being kind to ourselves, something that for some reason can be rather difficult. I used to tear myself apart. I used to critique and criticize myself constantly. I was in such a negative headspace, I could do nothing right in my eyes. This time in my life was when I was lost, when I was seeking control. This was when I valued myself by how much I could workout and how perfect and clean my eating was. But nothing I did was ever good enough. I constantly told myself I wasn’t pretty enough, I wasn’t smart enough, I wasn’t skinny enough, basically I just wasn’t enough. 

It’s taken a while and it’s been a hard road but I have gotten myself out of that negative space. I am now proud of things I have accomplished and have overcome. I don’t value myself on my appearance. I know that I am enough and I remind myself of that often. But the thing with negative thoughts is that they can easily sneak back in. It doesn’t take much, maybe you spent too much time scrolling on Instagram and suddenly you’re comparing yourself to everyone out there and those negative thoughts start to creep in. What’s dangerous about these thoughts is they can have a snowball effect. Suddenly they have overtaken your mind and you can’t seem to quiet them down.

This happened to me recently. I was sick for two weeks and everything was thrown off. I wasn’t working out, I was eating every comfort food in sight, I was spending hours a day on Instagram and i wasn’t spending time with friends. The combination of this all led me down a road of picking myself apart. Suddenly I was doubting my worth. Every other girl on Instagram was prettier than me, more successful, made more money, had more fun. I started to look in the mirror and think ugh. I started looking at my body and hating what I saw. 

Since I’ve been down this road many times before I am able to pick up on it. I noticed what was happening and wanted to stop it as quickly as i could. But that’s the thing, once those thoughts get into your head it’s not as easy to get them out. I started thinking of ways i could bring myself back to reality, bring myself back to a place of self kindness and compassion. I’ve come up with some tips that help me and hopefully they can help you if you ever find yourself trapped in a place of self doubt. 


  1. As soon as you wake up in the morning think of 3 things you’re grateful for.

  2. Along with your gratitude tell yourself three things you love about yourself, out loud. 

  3. Limit your time on social media and only follow people who inspire you and lift you up. 

  4. Spend a little extra time on self care. Take a long bath, indulge on your favorite treat, spend some time watching a silly show.

  5. Reach out to friends and family. Have a phone call or a coffee date with someone you love. 

  6. Repeat these affirmations, write them down, sticky note them to your mirror. I am enough. I am beautiful. I am smart. I am uniquely me and that is wonderful. 

I really hope you find these tips helpful and you can use them to pull yourself out of a place of negative self talk and doubt. We are all amazing and offer something unique to this world and we must be proud of that! If you ever want to chat or talk about your struggles I am always here to listen so don’t hesitate to shoot me an email or DM. Have the best day ever and remember, you are enough.

My experience with hypnotherapy

Hi there my loves! Sorry it has been a while since I have written a post, life has been busy, we have been all over the place and I wanted to write something really meaningful for you guys. So a few months ago I was at a friends house and I met a wonderful woman who is a hypnotherapist. We got to talking and I was so intrigued by her work. I really wanted to give it a try for my anxiety and sleep issues. I texted her a few days later and set up an appointment.

The first thing I had to do was a fill out a little questionnaire before my appointment. It asked some basic questions, some questions about what I most wanted to focus on, some background/childhood questions and what I had been experiencing so far in regards to my areas of concern. I was both excited and a little nervous for my appointment. I had no idea what to expect. I wondered what hypnosis felt like, if it would really work and what kind of things would come out when I was in this state.

I arrived for my first appointment with an open mind and ready for what was to come. We sat down, chatted a little bit and then she started working to get me into a hypnotic state. It was such a weird feeling. I was totally aware of what was going on yet I felt like I was in an extremely deep meditation and also my body was responding on its own to what she was telling me to do without me having to think about it. The first session we focused mostly on sleep. She recorded the hypnosis portion so that I could have the recording to listen to before bed. She wanted me to listen to it every night to start to retrain my subconscious. It talked a lot about going back to my natural state of calm, my ability to sleep well when I was younger and focusing on positive talk and affirmations around sleep.

To be honest I was not very diligent with listening to it. The next day after my session, I was flying back east for a two week trip. Travel is always the hardest for me in regards to sleep. When I am out of my environment and my schedule is thrown off I find it nearly impossible to sleep without some sort of medication help. The few times I did listen to it when I was away I found myself getting anxious when the recording was coming to an end and I wasn’t asleep yet. It was working me up more and I felt like I had failed. We had a chat on the phone while I was away so I could report back on my progress and we set up another appointment for when I returned.

In my next session, the recording she made was one that I could listen to day or night and the focus of it was to create an anchor point for situations where I feel stressed. The anchor point we decided on for me was putting my hand on my heart, taking a deep breath, and imagining a place that brought me the biggest sense of calm and relaxation. During the hypnosis she had me reinforce the anchor point a couple times. She would have me think of a situation that gave me anxiety and then once I felt anxious she had me use my anchor point and think of my place. It was so wild by the time we got to the third round of doing this I found it really hard to even get myself to a state of anxiousness.

If you have been following along with me for a while you know that one of the major downsides of my issue with sleep is that I feel like I can’t go out at night. I have this fear that if I go out and I don’t do my normal sleep routine that I wont be able to go to sleep. This really restricts my life and makes it hard for me to enjoy socializing. During the hypnosis, after we worked on the anchor point, she had me imagine a typical day for me while emphasizing keeping a feeling of calm and relaxation. At the end of my day she threw in a twist, she had me imagine going out and meeting up with friends. She lead me through the scene of going out and then coming home and being able to fall asleep easily and effortlessly. She kept reinforcing that I was in control and could decide to go to bed when I choose. That sleep would come upon me quickly and to stay calm, relaxed and at ease.

After my session I was determined to be very diligent about listening to my recording every day. I did for a week and then it was time for another trip, Derek and I were going to Maui to celebrate our one year anniversary. Instead of getting worked up and nervous about not sleeping while I was away, I changed my thought patterns and self talk to positive statements. Throughout the day if I felt myself getting anxious I would use my anchor point and remind myself that I was in control and I could fall asleep easily no matter what I was doing at night.

This is where the VERY exciting news comes! For the first time in over TWO YEARS I was able to sleep every single night without any help from medication. I still took my natural sleep supplements that I take and some CBD oil but usually I would have to add on an anti anxiety medication. I was SO happy and also very proud of myself. It showed me that I am in control, that I have the ability to sleep even when my routine is changed and I am in a different location. This gave me such a sense of relief and excitement that I can start to have my life back. I can now start to venture outside of my apartment at night and not worry that I will go home to being in bed awake for hours. I can now easily go on trips and not have to stress about being totally exhausted from a lack of sleep.

I am now a HUGE believer in the power of hypnotherapy and the ability to retrain our thoughts on a subconscious level. If you are constantly telling yourself negative statements or having unsupportive thoughts than that is what your brain is going to listen to. But if you actively tell yourself you have the power, that you are in control, than your mind will listen to that. I am beyond grateful for Stephanie and the work she has helped me with. She has truly changed the quality of my life and is helping me to gain back control. I am not my anxiety, I am not my sleepless nights, I am just a girl with positive thoughts who is working towards her best self.

I am also fully aware that this is not a magic fix, that I no longer have to do any work and I will be all better forever. I am still staying consistent with listening to my recordings and I tell myself positive affirmations throughout the day. I still have times where the negative thoughts and emotions pop up but I quickly use my anchor point and guide myself back to a more relaxed state. And yes sometimes even that doesn’t work and I am having an off day but that is okay. I actually had a couple bad sleep nights recently but the difference now is that I didn’t beat myself up about them. I didn’t freak out and drive myself to a panic attack. I accepted the situation and let myself be okay with it. I am more comfortable with being uncomfortable now.

I would highly recommend hypnotherapy to anyone who struggles with anxiety or anything similar to that. It has been a truly life changing experience for me and I can’t say enough amazing things about it! Thank you Stephanie for changing my life <3

Health updates

Good news to report to you guys!  If you have been following along on my journey, then you know I started working with a functional medicine doctor back in February.  After getting all my initial test results back, I had TONS of things I needed to improve.  It was actually a really hard time for me, seeing how much damage I had done to myself when all along I thought I was super healthy.  It is hard for me to explain everything that I needed to work on because during my appointments he tells me so much information that I always leave forgetting half the stuff he says.  I really need to start recording our conversations!  I will list below and explain the best I can the things that needed improvement.

·      My B vitamins were basically non-existent

·      My vitamin C and some other essential immunity vitamins were super low

·       My body was not properly using fat or carbohydrates as fuel, they weren’t being metabolized well

·      my amino acid (protein) profile was very low

·      my cell membranes were “rusted” as he described and I don’t remember exactly what showed this but it was a key thing he wanted to fix

·      my glutathione levels were very low (this is essential in protecting our cells from damage)

·      I had high levels of toxic exposure

·      There was something in my blood work that showed him that my cognitive function was impaired, causing me to have a harder time concentrating and remembering things

 

After getting this first report, I was so upset.  All of the working out I was doing was too much stress on my body and the way I was eating was clearly not supporting me.  After this first appointment and seeing all the damage I had done, I decided to make changes and stick with them.  I was given a large supplement regimen which I can list below, I changed my diet and changed my exercising.  Here is a list of supplements I have been taken (not saying they are things everyone should take; they are the ones that were specifically needed to help me)

·      Glutamine powder- for gut function

·      Curcumin- anti-inflammatory and strong antioxidant

·      Carnitine powder- to support fatty acid transport

·      Glutathione- for cell protection

·      ALA- antioxidant and helps the body break down carbohydrates

·      An adrenal support supplement- for my extreme adrenal fatigue

·      Multi vitamin- for daily nutrients

·      Digestive enzymes- to help break down meals and have less work for my digestive system

·      Fish oil- for omega fatty acids

·      DHEA- for adrenal inefficiency

·      Ferritin- to help with iron storage

·      Vitamin D- for vitamin D

·      COQ10- antioxidant and helps provide energy to cells

This seems like a lot and it was very overwhelming at first.  I have a pill box the size of a box of cereal for all the supplements I have been taking.  The good news is that each time my levels come back better I can cut back on supplements and eventually stop them all together.

For the past six months, I have been consistently taking my supplements and sticking with my diet changes.  I had been a vegetarian for 10 years and although this diet may work for some people it clearly did not work for me.  I have been incorporating meat into my diet and trying to have it at least once a day.  I have been eating tons of chicken and turkey, salmon and occasionally red meat.  I have also been adding way more fat into my diet.  Coming from a disordered eating background, fat was seen as the enemy.  I would ignore all the health benefits of it and try to keep it out of my diet.  That is not the case anymore!  I use olive oil, coconut oil and avocado oil on everything!

To help with my stress hormone levels and adrenal fatigue my workouts have completely changed.  For the year and a half leading up to my wedding I was going nuts with workouts.  I would do up to three a day and was really focusing on tons of cardio and intense stuff.  Now my workout routine looks completely different.  I am doing one main workout a day and then adding in lots of walks.  I am doing much more yoga and way less cardio.  I also listen to my body now and if I am feeling tired or run down I don’t push myself.  To also help with adrenal fatigue I have lowered my caffeine and coffee intake which has been extremely difficult.

The last big change I have made to help with the toxin exposure is switching to all natural products.  I traded out all my cleaning supplies, laundry detergents and body products for natural ones.  My doctor said anything that is going onto your skin or you are breathing in effects your health.

I did my new blood work a few weeks ago and had my follow up appointment early this week to go over it all.  My doctor was THRILLED.  I had basically improved every single issue!  All of my nutrient levels were better and in range of where they should be.  My body is now utilizing fat and carbs for energy as it should be.  My amino acid levels are way better and my immune function is super high.  The level of toxin exposure I had went way down and my adrenal glands are on the mend.  And my supplement list is so much smaller now, yay!

There were still a few things that needed a little more help.  My ferritin levels are still low and this is negatively impacting my thyroid function so I am going to continue on that supplement for another month to see if it will improve.  I also have a few more B vitamins to get up a little higher.  But overall I am SO much healthier, I feel so much better and I couldn’t be happier.  It is amazing how much our diet and lifestyle effect our health, even when we think we are doing everything right.  It was such a wakeup call for me when I got those initial results.  Being someone who lives for health and wellness I couldn’t believe my own body was so off.  When you are used to feeling a certain way, you start to not even realize because it just becomes your norm.  Then you fix things and feel better and you’re like whoa I like this feeling so much better. 

My piece of advice, get yourself checked out, even if you think you’re doing a great job with your health.  See your doctor, get a physical, get blood work done and just make sure.  We have one body and it is our job to make sure we do everything we can to keep it functioning at its highest potential. 

 

Not letting setbacks drag you down

When things are going really well for a while, a setback can be even more frustrating.  During my therapy sessions, I will say things like “if this happens” and my therapist will correct me and say “when that happens”.  The reason he does this is because things won’t be perfect all the time and the more I can accept that the better off I will be.  

I have talked about it a lot on here that one of the big issues I have from my anxiety is sleep troubles.  More often than not I would have trouble falling asleep, lying awake for hours just counting down how little sleep I would be getting that night.  I tried every supplement, every combination of supplements and even turning to things like benadryl and nyquil some nights when I was really desperate.  After working with my functional medicine doctor and going to therapy consistently, things were finally starting to get better.  I had a stretch of a little over a month where I had no trouble falling asleep, I was actually struggling to stay awake on the couch after 9pm each night.  Then last week I had my first bad night in a while and it completely derailed me. 

I had done my normal night time routine, taken the supplements that have been working really well for me and was feeling really sleepy while I was watching TV that night.  I went into bed around 9:45 and really thought I would pass right out.  The time kept going by and I was still awake and I started to get really upset.  I kept thinking in my head I have been doing SO well why is this happening now!  The fact that I had such a long stretch of good nights made the situation even worse.  I was still in that “if this happens” mindset and not “when it happens.”  I had gotten too sure of myself that I was fixed and couldn’t believe that I was having one of my bad nights again.  After about 3 hours I knew I had gotten myself too worked up and I took one of my emergency night sleep aids.  I woke up the next morning exhausted, defeated, and really bummed out.

The next night was even worse.  As I was getting ready for bed and starting to wind down I kept thinking about not falling asleep and got so incredibly anxious.  I was watching TV, trying to calm down and my heart was just racing.  My thoughts were out of control and I couldn’t get my mind to settle.  I got into bed around 11, completely exhausted from not sleeping well the night before.  I had taken a little extra of my supplements and a little extra CBD, hoping this would help my mind shut off.  Because I was so frustrated and annoyed with myself from the night before there was no hope for me that night.  I was still awake when Derek came home from a night out around 3:30am.  At this point I was in tears and had just completely worked myself up.

The next day I felt awful, I was so tired I could barely function all day.  I went for a walk just to get myself moving and get some fresh air and I sat down by the ocean to really think about what was going on.  Why was I being so hard on myself?  Two nights of bad sleep used to be a good week for me so why was I so upset about it.  I realized I had gotten so used to feeling good and not having an issue with sleeping that I convinced myself things were all better.  I was doing exactly what my therapist had tried to steer me away from and I was not prepared for the “when.”  It is so easy to let a small set back spiral you back into such a negative mindset.  Instead of being gentle with myself and reminding myself that I am not perfect and I don’t have to be, I expected too much of myself and got mad when I felt I fell short.  Being such a perfectionist, it’s hard to be gentle and easy on myself. I’m used to putting so much pressure on myself and being so tough that it is hard for me to take a step back and give myself a break.  What I learned from this experience is that no matter how far I come, how much progress I make, there will be times that I feel off or I have a bad night sleep or a day filled with anxiety.  Just because I am making progress doesn’t mean I have erased all possibilities of a step backwards.  And these times when things feel off, that is ok.  Everything about the process has been a journey and the journey isn’t just a path forward.  This journey is steps forward and backwards and sideways and every way in between.  This is a lesson in self compassion.  I deserve to be kind to myself and proud of all of the work I have done so far, no matter how many setbacks I may encounter I need to be proud that I keep pushing forwards.