Healing My Mind and Body (Part 5) 

Ditch the scale: I purposely do not own a scale. I’m not saying it’s bad to own one, but if it’s a focus every day to let a number (which fluctuates day to day anyway—especially for women) indicate my level of successfulness, my happiness or my worth, then I don’t want the temptation. I’d rather go by how I FEEL. It’s been so freeing to operate that way. 

Stop comparing: Looking back, comparison fueled my dive deeper into this disordered relationship with my body and food. Comparison really is the thief of joy as they say—especially when you compare apples to oranges—a.k.a. any human comparing their body to anyone else’s. Our DNA is always going to be different and we will always find something that’s “better” or “worse” than someone else. In my twenties I also wish I would have known that comparing my body to anyone in their 30s (or a different age) was also just a recipe for disaster. Our bodies are going to look different from decade to decade, and from person to person. 

Zoom out and be kind: Instead of micro-focusing on certain parts of my body, I constantly remind myself to zoom out and look at my body as a whole, recognizing it’s function as much as its miraculous beauty. I try to acknowledge all the amazing things my body has done and continues to do—grow and nourish four healthy little humans, allow me to move, play, and be productive in my pursuits, and so much more. I have learned to speak to and about my body with more grace and kindness. 

Curate consumption: One of my therapists over the years told me that the more we see something, the more we like it. Therefore, we have to actively seek out and follow a variety of people with a variety of body types in order to become accustomed to more than just one look as “beautiful” or healthy. 

Fat is actually good: Fat is evidence that your body is good at keeping you alive. It's stored energy. Without enough of it, hormonal balance suffers as do your reproductive and other systems (see parts 2-4 of my story). In a fat-phobic society let’s not forget that fat has a very important purpose and is not a sign of weakness. 

Be the friend: People with eating disorders are really good at hiding their illness. They might even receive praise (as I did) about how lean and cut they look, how healthy they must feel. I hid my disorder well and even denied it myself. But I had two friends who knew me deeply and called me out in love. It may have taken a while for me to take the uncomfortable step toward change, but having friends who loved me enough to encourage that was a huge blessing. 

Thanks for reading friends…I hope this gives someone hope, and inspires bravery. There’s freedom—it’s possible, I promise. Reach out if you ever want to talk. 



Healing My Mind and Body (Part 4) 

Why do I share all this? Because the journey isn’t over. It’s interesting working in the fitness industry. Diet trends come and go. Weight loss can be a big focus, as can achieving a certain body composition or “look”. I have known people with goals of really changing their bodies. There are competitions, transformation pictures on the walls, and engrained focus on calorie expenditure. As an industry we can applaud the outside appearance so much that we miss the importance of what’s going on INSIDE. Below are some takeaways which I hope are insightful and encouraging. 

I learned that if I try to fight my genetics, to achieve a look that I was not designed to have, I will be white-knuckling my way through life indefinitely. There are no such things as “good” and “bad” genes when it comes to body types. When we comment that someone has “good” genes because they can eat whatever they want and still stay thin, we need to seriously evaluate our outlook on body types. I think there are some things ingrained in our culture that give us prejudices toward and against certain body types. We must be so careful how we talk and think about these things. Time to re-frame. 

Wrapping this up next week..

Healing My Mind and Body (Part 3) 

About a year in, I happened to break my hand (at the gym of all places—ha!) And needed surgery. I was forced to take a few weeks off from any exercise. Talk about practicing trust and letting go. However it was that very month that I got pregnant with my son. God’s mercy. He forced me to slow enough so that my body could actually conceive. I still look at the scar on my hand and am reminded in a beautiful way of God’s love and grace. At one of my last appointments with my therapist I got to share with her that I was expecting. 

Today I still try to practice what I learned in counseling. Intuitive eating is huge. I have learned to honor my hunger and respect my fullness. I still love the feeling of challenging workouts but I am constantly reminding myself of what is a reasonable amount. I also make sure I take days to rest and not exercise. 

More next week...

Healing My Mind and Body (Part 2) 

When my husband and I tried to start a family we quickly realized it would be a longer road for us. Due to my unhealthy habits I wasn’t having a menstrual cycle. This and a few other events around that time served as a wake up call for me. I remember God was so real and present with me at that time…He whispered to me, “I have something better for you than this”. I clung to that. He was gently telling me it was time to level up. I got in touch with a therapist and began a very hard but healing journey. 

It was like jumping off a cliff. At one point I described the experience to my therapist as a feeling of getting up on water skis. At first you just hold onto the rope in faith. You can’t see a thing. Water is spraying you in the face and it’s uncomfortable. You’re just waiting for the moment when you pop up and can finally see, breathe and experience the freedom and the beauty around you. I am so grateful I had access to professional help. I will never forget the love and kindness God showed me during that process. 

More next week...

Healing My Mind and Body (Part 1) 

On food, compulsive exercise, body image and holistic “fitness”... 

I have felt for a while that I am supposed to share a part of my fitness journey with you. Not to draw attention to myself but to encourage anyone with whom it resonates. I believe that fitness is not simply defined by size, percentage, or a number on a scale. It is not the ability to achieve a specific speed or an amount of reps. You may read this and cognitively agree without reservation. In all honesty, though, it’s a daily fight for me to keep from allowing myself to chase these things as the end goal to my overall fitness. 

Beginning in college and in my early twenties, I began greatly restricting my diet and caloric intake while simultaneously increasing my exercise to an excessive level. While this tendency waxed and waned over the next handful of years, I knew it wasn’t healthy. My relationship with my body, and really myself, needed a reset. It had affected my relationship with food. The restriction (which I have often described as “white-knuckling” my way through the days) resulted in giant swings in the opposite direction, where I would lose control. My body and brain (which needed calories) would literally hijack my behavior and I would binge eat. By God’s grace I never figured out how to induce vomiting. I tried. I could have easily developed bulimia. I remember laying in bed at night counting and re-counting calories consumed. If I had stayed under 1,200 it was a “good” day. 

Its not easy to share some of this. The above is just the beginning but the whole story is too long for just one post. More next week...



People Don’t Have a Shelf Life  

This is just a short and sweet (but very heartfelt) reminder that it’s not too late. Whatever you’re still dreaming of that hasn’t happened yet…don’t give up.  

I had a mentor in my late 20s and early 30s who was encouraging me to pursue music writing and performing a bit more. At that time I was worried I had missed my window of opportunity. I had my first child and was almost thirty (makes me chuckle now, these thoughts of “too late” at thirty!). He told me, “people don’t have a shelf life”. Boom. Wow…that has stuck with me over the last decade.  

Whatever it is that you still feel you’re meant to do in this life–there’s more than likely still time, regardless of age or season of life. We cannot control certain physical limitations but usually those are a small piece of the picture.  

I think of my sweet friend who, after having four kids and homeschooling them for several years, decided to start a band (go check the Sojourn Band out!). She went all in and it has been incredible and inspiring to witness. I think of countless other friends who have changed careers, gone back to school in their 40s, 50s or later and embraced a new path. I think of couples who have struggled with fertility for years but haven’t given up on raising children and having a family. Also in my thoughts are the elderly adults I have known who continued to pour into others through the written or spoken word, even when physical decline kept them from doing much else.  

I/you/we don’t have a shelf life. It’s not too late. Whatever’s tugging at your heart that you haven’t done yet, there’s still time. I hope you go after it. 



Toughest Climbs 

Before my husband and I had kids we went on a couple epic road trips to visit several national parks. During two specific summers our trips lasted an entire month. First we did a loop through national parks in the southwest, returning by making our way up through California and Oregon. The second time our trip started north in Canada, after which we ended up in Montana and Wyoming. The  highlight of that trip was our six day backpacking trek through the Grand Tetons. What a blessing to be able to witness first-hand the beauty of the land from some pretty majestic and wild mountains.  

No matter what park we were at we always planned out our stay at our given location, squeezing in as many of the hikes as we could. Some were easy walks of a mile or two. Many were a lot longer and a lot steeper.  

Often we would notice that the shorter, easier hikes were super crowded. They weren’t quite as satisfying either, when we reached the destination. But as the hikes got longer and steeper the crowds thinned out. The end goals required more grit and exertion but the view was usually ten times more beautiful. We jokingly deemed ourselves “view snobs” because after doing more steep climbs the easy ones just didn’t even compare to the beauty up high.  

We’ve all heard the words “if it was easy everyone would be doing it”. Honestly a lot of people miss out on the best views because they’re not willing to do uncomfortable stuff. Or they might start out, but stop climbing as soon as things get tough.  

Friends, don’t choose the easy one-miler with the crowds, dirty bathrooms and mediocre end result. Don’t settle. Choose the steep, rugged climb. Heck, maybe you’re not even climbing by choice but life has you on the steep, rocky path anyway.  Keep your eyes up and appreciate the beauty one step at a time. That climb will be the most rewarding. You WILL get to the top, and you’ll do so with deeper gratitude and greater strength. 



We Are What We Consume 

We are what we consume. Yes, this applies to what we put in our physical bodies, of course. What we physically consume literally becomes integrated into the building blocks that make up our organs and body chemistry. It’s important to be mindful of how we choose to nourish our physical selves. 

But what about other things we “consume”? What about media, images, music and literature? What about the company we spend time with? What we surround ourselves with we consume to some extent. What we consume we become, at least in part. And what we become we eventually exude.  

So while there is always room for balance (just as there is with food), this is an invitation to us all to evaluate what we choose to spend our time consuming every day. If we’re regularly listening to a cynical and sarcastic talk show or podcast we might lean just a little more toward cynical sarcasm. If we consistently choose music with angry lyrics  it’s certainly not going to promote kindness in our own thinking and behavior. Spending time around people who are negative, or okay with gossiping and dishonoring others in the way they speak might just make us more okay with gossip and negative talk ourselves. 

Today I’m asking myself: Does what I consume reflect the kind of person I want to be from the inside out? I am consuming things that promote positivity, kindness, and align with my values?  In a world where we are literally “consuming” all day, let’s be intentional and sensitive to what we’re filling up with because that’s what we’re going to pour back out into our families, our communities and beyond.  



Do It Scared! 

I can’t take credit for this phrase--I have heard and seen it several times from my friend and business partner Diane Kenney. But during the past several months I have returned to it over and over. I figured I’d share how this phrase has been important to me.  

A couple months ago I got in my car and drove to downtown Newberg with the intention of connecting with other small businesses about Level Up. I parked and sat in my car for a moment. I have NEVER enjoyed asking people for anything, especially money. The “talking to people and connecting” part of this sounded really fun. The “asking for sponsorship or partnership” was a bit mortifying.  I took a deep breath and began walking toward the business fronts.   

I visited about five local businesses that day and told them about our studio and campaign. I purposely chose businesses I respected or had personal connections to. Walking in the doors, my heart fluttered. Funny thing, though--I had different experiences and conversations in each place. And I always walked out the door...okay. I was still okay. Talk about empowering. I was learning that I could approach something super scary, and even if rejection was the result I, as a person, would be alright.  

“Doing it scared” doesn’t mean doing something challenging with no good reason. But if we KNOW something is right, if we wholeheartedly believe in it, then we can hold onto that. In fact, sometimes it might be wrong of us NOT to do it. 

Many pieces involved with opening a business have been scary. In part because it’s a learning curve but also because the deeper we go the higher the stakes become. Signing on the dotted lines, promoting, investing time and money...I/we are doing it scared. But we are also doing it with conviction.  

What are you doing with conviction, despite some measure of fear? I’d love to hear about it. What are you on the fence about? Is it time to take that leap of faith? 



Assume Positive Intent  

I really wish I had thick skin. But when it comes to people and relationships I am pretty darn sensitive. Sometimes this is a gift. It allows me to be intuitive and empathetic. Often times, however, it is the source of a lot of anxiety. I can hardly stand someone being disappointed in me or (gasp!) not liking me.  

I almost feel silly putting that in writing. It’s an area I am working on, though. Oftentimes when I am questioning a seemingly uncomfortable interaction with someone, my husband will remind me to “assume positive intent”. The concept is a game changer (not that it’s always easy to do).  

Here’s what I figure: If I am unsure of what a person “meant” in a conversation, or their intent in a certain situation but I don’t have obvious evidence that there was ill will, then I should give them the benefit of the doubt until I have proof otherwise. I ask myself, “is my conscience clear? Do I have anything I need to take responsibility for or even apologize for?” If the answer is yes and no respectively, then I can rest easier about how the other person feels, while finding peace knowing I have done my best in that relationship.  

Zooming out, I can’t help but wonder how our community and world would be different if we assumed positive intent first, giving others the benefit of the doubt. Everything does come out in the wash and we know that if there is ill will it will become obvious at some point. In the meantime, let’s spend less time assuming the worst and more time recognizing each other as fellow (imperfect) human beings who are trying to do life the best they know how. May there be room for grace, even in mistakes. And if you’re an intuitive, empathetic, thin-skinned soul  like myself, may this little nugget bring you more peace and better sleep at night.