Movement Matters

You have the freedom to move your body in a way that feels good for you!

If you want to lift weights, lift weights. If you want to run, run. If you want to dance, dance. If you want to practice yoga, practice yoga. If you want to hit snooze, or take a nap, you have freedom to do that too.

Your body loves movement. Our ancestors weren’t sitting in cubicles under artificial lighting all day. Movement is crucial for detoxification, heart health, stress management, sleep support, blood sugar regulation, and all that other stuff other people have already written articles about.

The problem is that because we have all the information and all the experts talking about it, most of us engage in exercise as a “have to,” and not as a “want to.” We let other people tell us what’s best for our bodies, or we use it as punishment for caving into a craving or to beat our bodies into submission to our idealized versions of ourselves.

We get on running kicks, weight lifting kicks, kickboxing kicks, Zumba kicks, or whatever seems to be the trending activity of the season. We go hard on one activity, make our exercise schedule, then don’t sustain it.

This month, we celebrated freedom. Yet I know so many people who live enslaved to other people’s instructions and expectations about what they need to do for their bodies.

I want you to realize that you have freedom to choose what is best for your unique body – in movement, nutrition, activities, routines, relationships, whatever it is you are doing!

You are the expert on your body. Nobody else knows your body like you do, and nobody else has walked the same road that you have walked with your body. Depending on where you are in your life, the movement you choose can change. It can change seasonally. And that is OKAY!

I used to think running was the ultimate exercise for me, and it was therapeutic for me during a season in my life. Now, I like to change it up, and I like to make sure I’m incorporating some kind of movement once a day, most days. Yoga has been a beautiful way for me to tune in with the needs of my body and slow things down. Instead of running away from my problems with cardio, I’m forced into stillness and awareness. I feel the same about walking. I’m tempted to pick up the pace and start jogging, but being intentional with walking, staying present, is a good way to keep my mind engaged and my inhales and exhales in a rhythm.

It isn’t about weight maintenance or about needing to “make up” for what I eat. Some of my favorite benefits of movement that have zero to do with how I look include and everything to with my brain include: endorphins, dopamine, tryptophan, serotonin, BDNF, autophagy, GABA, glutamate, and oxygenation of the prefrontal cortex.

Different life seasons call for different solutions. Movement is a wonderful way to find awareness and peace in the body you have, so find that thing that you love to do… and do it!

How Social Media Affects Our Mental Health

How can we manage our minds during the social media age? How can we best support our children and monitor their time on screens? How does “influencer culture” affect our kids’ mental health? Whether you’re using social media for entertainment, information, or to grow a business, excessive time on our devices can take a toll on our mental health.

Reena B. Patel is a renowned parenting expert, licensed educational psychologist, board-certified behavior analyst, and author of Winnie & Her Worries. For more than 20 years, Patel has had the privilege of working with families and children, supporting all aspects of education, mental health and positive wellness. She works extensively with typically developing children as well as children with exceptional needs, supporting their academic, behavioral and social/emotional development.

In this episode, we dig into all the hot topics in social media, and we discuss solutions and ways to use positive psychology work for your brain health. Download and listen here or find wherever you get podcasts!

Key Topics:

  • The way our brain has changed from social media
  • The negative impacts of social media on our mental health
  • The impact of influencer culture on adults and children
  • The use of positive psychology as a solution
  • The impact of gratitude
  • How help kids identify feelings and the physical symptoms of anxiety
  • The effect of screen time fatigue

To learn more about her books and services, visit her website here, and to get more parenting tips, follow her on Instagram @reenabpatel.

This episode is sponsored by Indeed. Get a free $75 credit on Indeed at indeed.com/spark.

Five Common Myths About Mental Health

As we continue to suffer from a growing epidemic of mental illness in this country, and creating awareness is trending, we must take time to re-evaluate the way we handle this mental health conversation. As renowned psychiatrist Dr. Daniel Amen often says, mental health outcomes haven’t changed since the 1950s. Treatment options appear to be limited, because while we have plenty of medications, cases are skyrocketing.

However, there are new discussions happening, and a growing number of practitioners are seeking to support mental health with tools that were previously brushed aside. In order to move forward in our thinking about mental health, we need to dispel the myths that are often perpetuated by antiquated mentality on the topic.

Warning: some of these will be tough pills to swallow (pun intended), but they are all backed by the latest research. Please drop me a line if anything is questionable to you or you need further clarification. I’d love to have a longer discussion on the topic.

Continue reading “Five Common Myths About Mental Health”

More Stories from the Mental Illness Memory Vault – My Surprise Pregnancy

My baby graduated high school this weekend! It brought up so many emotions for me. I can’t help but feel weepy and nostalgic as I reflect on her life – and who I was when she entered my life.

In case you don’t know my story… I found out I was pregnant with her my senior year of college.

I was not stable mentally and taking a pretty heavy dose of Depakote at that time – something you definitely should not be on if you’re going to get pregnant, due to major risk of birth defects. I was encouraged to terminate the pregnancy.

Continue reading “More Stories from the Mental Illness Memory Vault – My Surprise Pregnancy”

Moving and My Mental Health

A few years ago, I said to my husband Richard, “Wouldn’t it be cool to have a type of counseling center that has regular counseling, all the helpful therapy support, along with nutrition, yoga, and other tools for healing?” He agreed it would be a great idea, and we said… “one day.”

Well that one day is here! We are so thrilled to follow the path that we believe has been so clearly laid out for us. We are going to be working together at a holistic counseling and wellness center in East Texas, called Living Well Tyler.

Tyler is a place that contains sad memories for me, but it is also filled with memories of so much hope and redemption. I first moved there at nine years old, fresh from the Bay Area of California, and six months later I witnessed the death of my grandfather on my front lawn. I spent my mentally tumultuous teen years in Tyler, but I also met my best friends there. I graduated college there. My first child was born there. I went on my first date with my husband there. Almost two decades after leaving, It feels special and fitting to be able to move our family there at this time.

This verse was read during a contemplative prayer session with the soul care director at Living Well a couple months ago, and it has been such a source of comfort as I process this transition:

“Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.” – ‭Isaiah‬ ‭43:16-19‬

Any kind of change – even good change – is a trigger for my mental health. The unknown, the “what ifs,” can heighten worry and anxiety.

Continue reading “Moving and My Mental Health”

Feast 2 Fast: Purpose of the Body

Summer is right around the corner and I’m here to remind you that the purpose of your body is NOT to get swimsuit ready.

The purpose of your body is to be “fit to serve” right where you are, with the body you have.

Here’s the thing, though – sometimes we get into a food rut, due to stress and factors outside of our control, and we find ourselves fueling on food sources that aren’t optimal for our unique bodies. It can lead to blood sugar instability, poor gut health, brain fog, fatigue, and overall blah.

Feast 2 Fast is a complete reset for nutrition, mindset and spiritual health! No calorie-counting, no macro-counting, no deprivation, no complications – just real food, the way God made it!

Continue reading “Feast 2 Fast: Purpose of the Body”

Why Are Our Kids So Anxious And How Can We Help?

I have been so ready for this latest episode of the podcast to air! If you are a parent, caregiver, teacher, or if you have any proximity to kids at all – download this episode ASAP!

Dr. Roseann Capanna-Hodge is a mental health trailblazer who Forbes has called “The leader in children’s mental health.” She has helped thousands reverse the most challenging conditions, such as ADHD, anxiety, mood, autism, learning disability, Lyme, and PANS/PANDAS using proven holistic therapies.

In this episode, we discuss the anxiety epidemic affecting our children, why it has been happening, and what we can do about it.

Continue reading “Why Are Our Kids So Anxious And How Can We Help?”

Five Triggers for Anxiety (That Your Doctor Might Not Tell You About)

What’s Behind Your Anxiety?

If you struggle with anxiety or depression, you know it affects your entire life. It affects how you move (or don’t move), your concentration, your ability to sleep, your interactions with others, even your bathroom habits. Because anxiety is on the rise, and won’t be going anywhere anytime soon, I want to share some little-known triggers for anxiety that you may not be hearing about from anyone else!

Like everything I share, remember that your body’s response to food or internal/external stressors is individual to YOU. What is a trigger for one person might not be a trigger for you. Being aware of how your unique body responds to this world is only something you can determine.

Five triggers for your anxiety that your doctor might not tell you about: 

  1. Artificial sweeteners and dyes – not only do they disrupt nervous system function, but sucralose decreases beneficial gut bacteria and aspartame increases anxiety and depression (just another reason to lay off the Diet Coke). Sweeteners can also negatively impact blood sugar – which can increase panic attacks! Food dyes may trigger “mind-storms,” which are issues with the brain’s wiring or electrical activity. No bueno!
  2. Too much screen time – blue light from screens can suppress the hormone melatonin which is needed for restful sleep. Screens can also disrupt the calming neurotransmitter Gaba, along with serotonin – the happy one.
  3. Magnesium deficiency – magnesium calms your nervous system and prevents the creation of excess cortisol, the stress hormone. Some call it “nature’s Xanax.” It’s needed for just about every process in the body. It’s found in nuts, seeds, legumes, and leafy greens, but it’s also an inexpensive supplement! Two of my favorite formulations are the Plexus one, here, or Nutritional Frontiers, here.
  4. Excess caffeine – a little is fine, but too much can stimulate the fight or flight response and trigger racing thoughts, or even panic attacks. Some people metabolize it slower than others, so keep that in mind when you have your afternoon coffee or tea break – your mind might be racing at 1 am!
  5. Stored trauma that hasn’t been addressed – trauma can keep our bodies in that constant fight or flight state, which can lead to poor sleep, inability to concentrate, and panic attacks. Fortunately, there are a wide range of trauma therapies, and many mind-body strategies available to help your body unlock trauma and heal! EMDR and EFT (tapping) are two of the most popular. The wellness center I work with has some amazing trauma therapists and resources here.

Honorable mention:
Blood sugar issues: when we’re riding that blood sugar roller coaster it can cause all sorts of poor mental health symptoms. Limit sugar consumption to limit the swing. Consume plenty of fiber-rich vegetables, brain-boosting fats and quality protein with each meal. Many times we fail to fill up on necessary nutrients so we stay hungry, reaching for quick fix glucose fuel and perpetuating the cycle of brain fog and hunger.

Poor digestion: If you can’t digest protein, you can’t make the neurotransmitters needed for mental health. Period. You know that old saying, “you are what you eat?” It’s not true. It should be, “You are what you are able to digest.” When we can’t create serotonin from our food nutrients, we can’t access melatonin either, which affects mood AND sleep. Taking digestive enzymes and working on gut health can help, something I love helping people with!

The next round of Feast 2 Fast, an online coaching group that pairs science-based nutrition principles with timeless spiritual truth to reset your mind, body, and soul starts May 3. Join the wait list here – or contact me directly for more coaching options!

Changing the Conversation on Postpartum Depression

Postpartum depression is a tricky subject. While on one hand, there seems to be a greater awareness of what it is and how to find support, it still carries a bit of a stigma and there are many misconceptions. For that reason, I don’t approach the topic lightly. Like all mental health issues, there is no one size fits all cause OR solution.

Walker Ladd, Ph.D. has been a thought leader in the field of maternal mental health for nearly two decades. Her writing and research challenge paradigms of motherhood and mental illness, using women’s stories to reveal the hidden truths and extraordinary dimensions of the lived experience of motherhood.

Continue reading “Changing the Conversation on Postpartum Depression”

Looking Beyond One-Size-Fits-All Solutions for Our Health

Is science ever settled? How can we continue to be our own health advocates, look beyond the one-size-fits-all solutions, and find what is helpful for our unique bodies? There are so many different opinions, so how do we know what to do that’s right for our health?

If you’ve listened to my podcast, you know that I like to keep an open mind, and I am willing to have discussions that you won’t hear from many popular news outlets or even other podcasts. Why? Well, I never learned anything from only listening to people I agree with. In fact, I’ve found that some of my most teachable moments came when I stepped into the hard places, the places most would prefer not to dip their toes into. I am constantly on a quest to learn more – and if that means stirring up some controversy, that’s fine with me!

Del Bigtree is an Emmy-winning producer who is raising awareness for body autonomy and medical freedom. His internet news show, The Highwire, is the fastest growing program in the natural health arena. His non-profit, the Informed Consent Action Network, or ICAN, is leading worldwide investigations into drug and vaccine fraud that have already resulted in multiple winning lawsuits against US Government agencies Health and Human Services, National Institutes of Health, CDC and FDA.

In this conversation, we dig into some controversial topics in order to better understand all sides of the growing conversation on medical risk and medical freedom. Download here or listen wherever you get podcasts!

Topics include: the pro/anti vaccine debate, the history of informed consent, the importance of being able to make choices for your own body, lawsuits that ICAN is involved with, chronic disease rates in kids, and how we can arm ourselves with knowledge moving forward.

Watch Del’s news show by clicking here.

Check out the current lawsuits and information on his nonprofit organization by clicking here.