Stop Using Exercise to Punish Your Body; Use It to Connect WITH Your Body

Beyond the brain health benefits, beyond the physical health benefits, moving your body is a way to intentionally connect to it and create space for safety and healing and growth.

When you have trauma of any kind, when you have body image issues or a history of disordered eating or disordered exercise behaviors, when you are fighting a chronic disease or are consumed by depression or anxiety… the last thing you want to do is intentionally connect with your body and be present with it.

For this reason, I hold a deep appreciation for movement like yoga or slower, low impact exercises. When I was a runner only, I could escape from the racing thoughts. I could “beat my body into submission,” by pushing harder, increasing my miles or my speed. But in yoga, where the moves rarely change, or when I’m walking slowly through my hilly neighborhood, I’m trapped in my thoughts – and my body. I have learned to lean into the discomfort of being present with my body, instead of punishing it for not acting how I want it to act.

I heavily dislike anyone promoting that you shut down the signals your body sends to you. I recently saw two shirts pop up in Facebook ads (thanks algorithm) that bothered me on such a deep level. One shirt read, “FIT: F*&% I’m tired” and the other read, “Shut up, legs, you’re fine!”

Listen. If I’m tired, I probably need to rest or make an adjustment in my schedule. It is simply unhealthy to keep pushing forward. If my legs are hurting during a workout, I probably need to take a breath, ask my body how to provide it further support. Exercise is an incredible tool for growth and healing. It’s a hormetic stressor that can create stress resilience.

It is not for dissociation and punishment. 

Moving my body is a way to engage, not disengage and dissociate. One of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do is be present and move with the body I have – not punish my body for what I don’t.

Movement is therapeutic, it’s a celebration, and yes – it can even be a form of worship.

What a joy to intentionally flood our brains with endorphins and serotonin and GABA and brain-derived neurotrophic factor. What a gift!

Exercise and moving your body isn’t just something that impacts your physical health. Like with the act of eating, your mindset matters. Your thoughts matter, and they send signals to every cell in your body. Using your time of movement to renew your mind, renew your thoughts about your body, and celebrate what your body can do goes beyond simply pumping your arms and legs and getting your heart rate up.

I love moving my body. I love connecting to it and creating space for safety and healing and growth. I DISLIKE shutting down the signals my body sends me. 

Remember: every thought you think is a chemical messenger that brings information to your cells, positive or negative. Partner with your body; don’t punish it.

A Busy Mom’s Guide to Healthy Eating

Rai Moorhead is a a Master Certified Health Coach with over 15 years of professional and personal experience with health, nutrition and fitness. She specializes in helping women reframe negative thought patterns about eating and exercise into positive affirmations. She is passionate about helping women see that true beauty is beyond the scale and the mirror.

In this episode, we cover all the tips and tricks to support busy moms and their family’s health! Download here or find wherever you get podcasts.

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Mental Health Awareness Month: Special Podcast Episodes

This month, I’m taking a break from the regular podcast content to bring episodes focused on bringing awareness to all the tools that support our mental health. Contrary to what the media may tell you, you can change your brain. You can heal from mental illness. You can access resources beyond medication and more sleep, and many of those resources are free, like these episodes.

In Episode 135, I share my story of overcoming PTSD, depression, and bipolar disorder in a way I haven’t shared before.

Key Topics:

  • The growing epidemic of mental health issues in teens
  • The root causes to my own mental health issues and how I struggled to find treatment that supported my mental well-being
  • The medication weaning process and how I was able to get off medication I had been on for 18 years
  • The tools I used to support healing and how I continue to prioritize my mental health to prevent recurring issues

Sponsors: Proven quality sleep is life-changing sleep. Go to sleepnumber.com/wholeness. Save 10% and get free shipping on Magnesium Breakthrough at magbreakthrough.com/spark.

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Mental Health Awareness Month: What it Means to Be a Survivor

Someone recently asked me, “What do you mean when you say you are a survivor of bipolar disorder?” I paused for a second. What does it mean?

I ended up responding with this, “I no longer exhibit the symptoms of bipolar disorder.“

I’ve been thinking about this conversation ever since. 

Does not exhibiting symptoms of bipolar disorder mean that I no longer suffer from this illness?

Did my diagnosis match my symptomology in the first place?

This caused me to reflect back on the symptoms of bipolar disorder, which consists of fluctuation between a depressed state and a manic state.

Continue reading “Mental Health Awareness Month: What it Means to Be a Survivor”

How Movement Can Help You Listen to Your Body’s Needs

Our bodies tell us things about every day, but typically we wait for someone else to tell us what’s going on before we listen. In this episode, we talk about finding a way to tune into our unique body’s needs through both stillness and movement.

Elise Carter has been a student of yoga for over two decades, and a small business owner for sixteen years. She has both taught and studied with a number of inspiring yogis across the country and has accumulated additional teaching certifications in several different lineages of yoga. Elise currently holds the E-RYT 500 teaching designation, the honor given by Yoga Alliance to their most senior teachers.  She has spent countless hours in studio (both practicing and teaching), and has developed an unquenchable thirst for all things yoga. Currently, she is the owner of beFree yoga in Tyler, Texas, where she teaches several times a week and leads yoga teacher trainings.

Download and listen here or wherever you get podcasts!

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Yes, You Are Swimsuit Ready!

A few days ago, as I was getting ready for the day, my youngest child, who’s five, squeezed my belly and asked me why my skin is different than his. He compared by attempting to squeeze skin from his belly, which obviously didn’t happen.

So I told him how my skin is more stretchy and elastic, and it has been stretched out quite a few times from getting bigger and smaller, and back again, because our bodies protect us and keep us safe by always changing. And how amazing is that???

I love warm weather and being in the sun, by the pool, or at the beach. I don’t love bathing suit season. Never have. But every year, I’m reminded of what my body went through in the last year to keep me safe. Whether that’s mood instability, weight gain or weight loss, autoimmune flares, gut issues, skin problems… our bodies do what they can to create balance in a continuously imbalanced world. 

So when that same five year old catches me in action like this (while I am trying to prepare my skin for an upcoming beach vacation) and tells me, “lift your arms up” for the picture…. I let him.

This pose represents one more year that has passed with me in a vessel that has worked so hard for me for a very long time. One more year that I’m still swimming, maybe doggy-paddling my way through life… but keeping my head above water.

My body is amazing. So is yours. Don’t let your current disappointment in your symptoms keep you from being present for the sunshine.

How Your Gut and Skin Microbiome Affect Acne

Yes, your gut microbiome is important… but what about the microbiome on your skin? Do we need certain types of bacteria for healthy skin?

In this recent episode of the podcast, we dig into the gut AND skin microbiome to discuss just how much your microbiome plays a role in your skin health. Download here or find wherever you get podcasts!

Dr. Yug Varma has 10+ years of microbiome research experience including an extensive background in bio-organic chemistry, microbiology, and synthetic biology. Dr. Varma received his scientific training at several distinguished academic institutions, including Johns Hopkins University (PhD) and University of California, San Francisco. His scientific work has been published in many prestigious journals, including Nature. Dr. Varma’s mission is to change the way we treat chronic bacterial diseases, and is working tirelessly to achieve this goal with a microbiome-based technology platform. He is passionate about promoting scientific literacy, and devotes a significant amount of time demystifying microbiome research and making the latest research accessible to the general public.

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Popular Phrases That Don’t Support Whole Body Health

If we’re going to partner with our bodies for whole body healing, we need to understand that the way we choose to talk to our bodies about our choices of nourishment impacts the way we digest and utilize nutrients. A body in stress won’t digest! Our thoughts pave the way for everything that happens on an intercellular level. If we are stressed about our food choices, it alters the way we digest.

Does what you put into your body impact your health? Of course! But what you tell yourself about your food and your body determines if you can access “rest and digest,” which is important for healing and restoration.

During a meal, we want to be relaxed, filled with gratitude, and completely present in our bodies to load our senses with the pleasure-filled experience of eating.

I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again. Food is not just fuel. Food is comfort, healing, information, and nourishment on so many levels.

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How Your Brain Responds to Processed Food

Can your brain become addicted to processed food? According to recent podcast guest Dr. Joan Ifland, who recently published the textbook on processed food addiction, our brains are extremely susceptible to processed food addiction. In this recent episode, she explains why we get addicted to processed food, how the food companies encourage it, and how the healthcare system gaslights patients who can’t get out of the addiction cycle.

Download and listen to the episode here, or find wherever you get podcasts.

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Artificial Sweeteners and Cancer: What’s the Connection?

Breaking news: A HUGE study, published in March 2022, showed that people who consumed high amounts of aspartame were associated with a 22% higher risk of developing breast cancer and 15% higher risk of developing obesity-related cancers. Other sweeteners that were included in the study were sucralose (Splenda) and acesulfame potassium, though 58% of the participants consumed aspartame.

The cohort study was initiated in France in 2009, and looked at the diet of 102,685 people. It’s important to note that almost all of the participants consumed less than the government-recommended allowable daily intake… so it’s not like they were consuming it all day long, all the time. Even a small amount seemed to make a difference in health outcomes.

Artificial sweeteners can be found in:

  • Gum
  • Diet drinks
  • Light yogurt
  • Pedialyte
  • Microwave popcorn
  • Whole wheat bread and English muffins
  • “Carb balance” tortillas
  • Some protein powders and health bars (including Pure Protein and Quest)
  • Sugar free candy
  • Sugar free coffee syrups
  • Energy drinks
  • Sugar free ice cream and other desserts

Aspartame has long been linked to tumors in mice, but other artificial sweeteners (including Splenda/sucralose) are also linked to depression, anxiety, ADHD, cognitive decline, insulin resistance, weight gain, cardiovascular disease, and microbial imbalances (which affect everything else).

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