Let's Talk About Mental Health

May is mental health awareness month, and lately I feel like I’ve been really juggling a lot where mine is concerned. I think it’s important that we de-stigmatize talking about our mental health, so I’d like to be open with y’all in the hope that someone finds this helpful, or that perhaps they feel less alone.

I would generally characterize myself as a positive person, as someone who is typically well-adjusted and can handle what life throws at me without too much panic. Or at least, that’s how I used to think of myself. Over the past few years, though, I’ve noticed a big uptick in my anxiety. In February of this year, I ended up in my doctor’s office with chest pain and shortness of breath that would not go away. Several tests later, including a transesophageal echo, the doctors told me everything looked great. The conclusion: I was too stressed.

I thought to myself, “Ok, I guess I could see how this happened”. I quit a secure consulting job to go all-in on self-employed/independent contractor life. I now juggle 2 somewhat full-time jobs (this coaching practice and my role with the gym) and a third part-time job (a little bit of consulting work). And outside of all of this, I’m also balancing the general “life stuff”: the dog, household chores, having some semblance of a social life, finding time for family, buying a house and the renovations that come with said house (yep, we finally pulled the trigger!), etc.

I’ve always been good at managing a lot of things at once. I am more productive and really thrive in a fast-paced environment. I’ve never had an issue handling competing priorities before, and I’ve been struggling to understand why it’s producing so much anxiety for me now. I still don’t completely have an answer, but my best guess at the moment? Because everything I’m juggling now carries a much bigger emotional load than at previous times in my life. My jobs are all things that I’m incredibly invested in personally, and that, as the kids say, hits different.

So, what am I going to do about it? I know I can’t just let this sit and need to be more proactive about addressing how I’m feeling. Here is what I’m currently focusing on to help me dig out a little:

  • Going back to therapy. This is number one on the list for so many reasons. I’ve done therapy on and off for years, and right now - especially when I don’t feel like a fully have an understanding of the cause(s) of my anxiety - I need a professional.
  • Protecting my “non-working” hours. Because of the dynamic of the jobs I have, it’s often easier for me to “get caught up” when I shouldn’t be working because there is less going on and I can focus more. However, this often means I’m working 7 days a week, which is not sustainable for me, so I’m putting more emphasis on making sure I’m actually stepping away from work when I’m supposed to.
  • Making time for hobbies every day. I am lucky to have the opportunity to turn my passions into a career; however, this means my spaces where I used to recharge are now work. So, I picked guitar up again 2 months ago, and I set a goal to practice for 10 minutes every day. It was a little goal that I knew I could achieve. No matter what’s been going on, I’ve managed to squeeze in 10 minutes daily, and I always feel so much better after a practice session.
  • Spending more time with friends. When I'm stressed and tired, I tend to want to stay in on the couch with my favorite take-out and Harper, but lately I've been making more of an effort to go be around people who lift me up instead.
  • Practicing more awareness. When I’m stressed, I lock in to “go mode” and crank out work. This means I also move at a pace that doesn’t allow me to acknowledge how I’m feeling and take a few minutes to process. I’m trying to actively check in with myself several times a day to bring more awareness to my stress levels, instead of just pushing through. Since Harper likes to go out about every 2 hours, I use my time outside with her to do a quick body scan and check in on myself.

Here's to using this month to focus more on our mental health, instead of just moving through life and accepting where we don’t feel great. Perhaps some of these things I’m doing are helpful to y’all in sparking ideas to take care of your own mental health – I hope they are.

What if you were nicer to yourself?

One of the hardest things about my job is hearing people beat themselves up on a daily basis. I honestly didn’t expect that when I started coaching. I know I am a very self-critical person, but I didn’t realize so many of y’all were too (at least I know I’m not alone, right?).

I’ve been diving into research on the impact of your relationship with yourself on change a lot lately because in the almost 4 years (4 YEARS!?) I’ve had my coaching practice, I’ve noticed how key this is for success. Turns out, the research supports it. A strong relationship with yourself improves problem solving, productivity, and overall mental health (including better confidence and self-esteem). All of these things – problem solving, productivity, mental health, confidence, and self-esteem – play SUCH a key role in reaching your goals.

Often when I catch clients beating themselves up over something I’ll ask them, “Would you say that to a friend?”. The answer is always “no”. We innately try to boost other people when they’re struggling. We encourage our friends, cheer them on, try to pick them up when they’re feeling down. Why isn’t our default to do the same for ourselves?

I’ve asked this question before – why is it hard for you to encourage yourself or be more compassionate to yourself? – and the response is usually some form of feeling like we need to be harder on ourselves or we’ll slack off, but research doesn’t support that. Research actually shows the opposite: negative self-talk has an adverse impact on motivation and confidence in our ability to do something. And yet, we continue to beat ourselves up constantly.

So, here’s my challenge to you: sit with the question “what if I was nicer to myself?” for a few minutes. Just turn it over in your brain. Imagine how you’d feel, what might shift in your day-to-day, whether it would make things easier or harder on you.

If working on being nicer to yourself is something you’re ready to dive into, here are a few tips that can help get you going down the right path:

  • Practice acknowledging when you’re thinking negative thoughts about yourself. Building awareness around this type of thinking is one of the first steps to stopping it.
  • Make a list of things you’re proud of and what you feel good about. Pull it out as a reminder when you’re being hard on yourself.
  • Build up your tolerance for your own mistakes.
  • Find a mantra or positive affirmation that resonates with you, and repeat it to yourself when you’re in a negative headspace.
  • Learn triggers or situations that tend to bring about negative self-talk. Understanding what triggers those thoughts and behaviors can help you stop them or know to expect them so you can adjust.

As always, I’m rooting for you!


My Biggest Lessons from Year One as an Entrepreneur

March 1st marked the one-year anniversary of going all-in on MB Wellness - and what a year it's been. I tried not to have too many expectations of myself or my business in the first year full-time. I wanted to take the year to feel out my target market, hone my coaching process, and consider what would best serve my clients. While I don't know what the alternative would have looked like, I do feel like giving myself the space to explore in the first year was incredibly beneficial. I learned so many things, but there were four key themes that really stand out to me.

Your support system is absolutely key - especially if you're a one-person operation.

My coaching practice is just me (for now!), and that made me quickly realize how much I needed my friends' and family's support. Without co-workers, I really depended on their input, encouragement, and feedback. They proofread, edited, liked, shared, and just listened when I needed it. They helped me see blindspots, gut-check opportunities, and learn how to better advocate for myself. Even if some of them still have no clue what I do (just kidding, love y'all).

Know your worth - and accept nothing less.

This has definitely been the biggest learning curve for me. However, I've learned the hard way that if you don't advocate for yourself, no one else will and most people will take what they can get from you. It can be a really uncomfortable conversation, but the right businesses and clients will see your value.

Often the "no"s are better than the "yes"s.

When I first made this leap, I got a few "no"s that I thought were devastating at the time. While hindsight is 20/20, I can clearly see now how those initial possibilities weren't the right ones and they opened up space for future opportunities that were much better fits for me. I also have learned a lot more from hearing "no" and from saying "no". While hearing "yes" is more gratifying, hearing or saying "no" has always turned out to be more illuminating for me.

Protect your time.

Having a lot of control over my schedule is great, but it also means that I have to be that much more protective of my time. People sometimes see that control as meaning that I can do any thing at any time, and that's not the case. If anything, I work a lot more now than I did when I had my 9-5 because I'm the only one in my practice - if I don't do it, it doesn't get done. Because of that, I have to make sure I only take on as much as I can handle and I set boundaries and protect my work time.

I can't wait to see what year two brings. With these lessons, and so many more, I am so confident that this is going to be a fantastic year for MB Wellness.

I hope you're feeling the same way about your goals and your year so far. I'm rooting for you!

Change and Self-Love: Is it Love/Hate?

I think part of the reason that health and health promoting behaviors have taken on a negative context in many of our minds is because of an approach that was popular beginning in the 80s to push past our limits in pursuit of “something better”. We adopted this inner voice that was angry and condescending: “pain is weakness leaving the body”, “just do it”, “no pain, no gain”. We picked up this posture that we had to fight against ourselves to make changes because our defaults were bad. The world told us that we were not ok as we were and that if we weren’t pursuing a stronger, smaller, better, faster version of ourselves, what were we even doing?

The conversation is FINALLY starting to shift – and rightfully so. Research shows that self-love can lead to higher self-esteem, more motivation, stronger determination, increased self-awareness, less anxiety, and better sleep – all essential to successful health behavior change. So, how can you cultivate more self-love? These are some things that continue to help me (and I say continue because self-love is definitely an on-going practice).

  1. Separate your self-worth from external things. What the heck does that mean? Often we equate our worth with our appearance, our achievements, or our talents. The truth is, though, that our worth as people is fixed. It does not increase or decrease with body size/shape, steps forward or backward in our careers, or abilities gained or lost. It is static, no matter what. Understanding that is foundational to loving yourself.
  2. Shut down negative self-talk. I’ve told y’all this is a hill I will die on, and I mean it. Your inner dialog with yourself matters SO much. When you switch Negative Nancy off, and instead approach yourself with compassion and curiosity, and dare I say it, positivity, it makes it much easier to build a better relationship with yourself.
  3. Listen to yourself. Listening to your internal cues and honoring what you need is a great way to build trust with yourself. If you’re feeling exhausted, get curious about why that is and try to give yourself what you need, instead of being annoyed that you’re tired and trying to push yourself through.
  4. Practice gratitude. Take a minute or two each day to acknowledge the things you have and the things you can do. Focus on the things that are abundant rather than lacking.
  5. Cultivate your strengths. Take time to get to know what you’re good at, and position yourself to be able to do those things on a regular basis. While it’s good to work on weaknesses too, putting yourself in a place where you are constantly having to work ONLY with your weaknesses can be incredibly demoralizing. Make sure you spending time cultivating your strengths, and using them often.

I had a conversation with a client last week where she said, “I’m at a good place right now. I feel like I appreciate myself exactly as I am right now. I still have this goal I want to meet, but I’m also ok in the space that I’m currently in.” I asked her how that felt. “It feels easy” she said. And that’s the trick to change – reaching the place with yourself where you separate loving yourself from meeting your goal.

So, here are three questions for you to consider: What if I just loved myself for who I am right now? How would things change? If I’m feeling resistant to loving myself as I currently am, where is that resistance coming from?

I invite you to sit with those questions this week and think about your responses. What insights do they give you? What could you apply from those insights right now to move to a more loving place?

If you’re curious about more self-love content, I’ll have more on my Instagram all throughout the month. Looking forward to a great February and I hope it’s full of more self-love!



My Biggest Take-Aways from 2022

2022 has been a rollercoaster of a year, personally and professionally. Many of y’all don’t know this, but I started this year started with a cancer diagnosis. On January 3, I was literally in the middle of working on my goals for the year when my plastic surgeon called and said the cyst they removed from my neck wasn’t actually a cyst but head and neck cancer. Long story short, that initial diagnosis was wrong and what I actually had was a rare type of benign tumor, but I spent the first week of January thinking my year was going to look VERY different from the goals I’d been in the middle of writing.

The silver lining of that experience (other than the fact that I didn’t actually have cancer) is that it really put some things in perspective for me. If I had to put a fine point on it, I’d define 2022 as the year of quitting: leaving a job that offered security but didn’t serve my long-term goals, no longer defining my next moves by what everyone around me was doing, stepping away from drawing confidence from external sources and learning how to build it from within, and letting go of the fear of not being “the most”. Here are my biggest takeaways from a crazy year:

Put your blinders on more often.

When I first started MB Wellness, I spent a lot of time looking to others to shape my coaching style: how did they frame questions, what worked best for them, who was their target market, what were they charging. While all of that is important and valid information to have as you build a business, I was letting it get too inside my head. I felt like if I didn’t do things the way my colleagues in the industry were, I was doing something wrong. But I saw holes in the process that didn’t address some key things I was hearing from the clients I was coaching: the impact of negative self-talk, perfectionism, embracing “selfish”, and learning to change from a place of self-love. So, I decided I was going to stop paying attention to what everyone else was doing and start shaping a coaching practice and style that was more attuned to what I felt as a professional was right. As soon as I made this shift, I immediately felt more comfortable and confident as a coach. Being truer to myself made me a much better coach to my clients. I still check in with my colleagues and update myself on industry standards, but I also have a much better sense of when to put my blinders on and worry less about what everyone else is doing.

Setting Boundaries and Saying No Does Not Make You a Bad Person.

It will surprise no one when I say I’m a people pleaser. I’ve said this before, but I have always derived a lot of satisfaction from helping people. I’ve spent most of my career in service-related fields. Working jobs that require me to give a lot of emotional energy to others means I also need more down time than I’ve allotted myself in the past. I used to feel like I needed to say yes to everything: helping a coworker with a project even if it meant putting my work on the back burner, being a listening ear even when I needed to spend that time doing something else, going to dinner on Friday night even when I’m completely exhausted. I’m slowly learning that there has to be a balance – sometimes I should say yes to these things, but there are also times when I should say no. I also am still working on not feeling guilt over it, but the more I practice this, the easier it gets. It certainly feels easier to let ourselves down in the moment, but we generally pay more for it in the long run. Finding ways to gently enforce my boundaries and protect my time has been a tricky lesson, but it’s one I’m looking forward to continuing in 2023.

You Don’t Have to Know Everything to Be Great.

Oh, perfectionism! Quite possibly my greatest enemy and the thing that holds me back the most. I have worked VERY hard to back away from my perfectionist tendencies this year. I also came to the realization that my perfectionistic tendencies show up in feeling like I am never qualified enough to do what I do (group fitness/training, coaching, you name it). I am great at what I do – something I would literally have cringed to say/write out loud a year ago – but I’m ok saying that now because I know it to be true. I know where I excel, and I also know where I don’t. I am always learning and as a former supervisor put it, I am a “prolific consumer of professional development” because I never want to plateau. Sometimes that drive makes me feel like I shouldn’t be doing something until I’m an expert, but the reality is I already know everything I need to know to be great at what I do. Will I always keep learning and evolving – yes! But being great while still continuing to learn and growth can co-exist.

Ditching the Scale is the Best Thing I’ve Ever Done for My Mindset (and My Fitness Routine)!

This one is a little different from the others but its impact has been no less significant. On December 31, 2020, I decided 2021 would be the year I said goodbye to my at-home scale. Not weighing myself regularly did wonders for my mindset throughout 2021 and that continued in 2022. Now almost two years later I can say I will never go back to having a scale in my house. I don’t check my weight at the doctor’s office. Walking away from the scale helped me shift my mindset away from listening to a number instead of listening to my body. I stopped worrying about exercise as a way to burn calories and instead I do the workouts and exercises I love. I take rest days when I need to and I don’t worry about it when I miss a workout. It has taken so much pressure off and helped me realize I don’t need to weigh myself to stay healthy.

 Confidence and Self-Love Don’t Come from External Changes.

Of all the things that have come into focus for me in 2022, this is the most important one. Like many of us, I’ve spent most of my life seeking confidence from external validation – accomplishments in sports, academia, or my career, new PRs in races or on the weight rack, looking a certain way. For years, no matter how many goals I hit that I thought would make me more confident, they never did. This year I have focused a lot more on what makes me feel good, and what surprised me is how much this has translated into a lot more confidence. Now that I type that out, I realize how obvious it sounds, but it wasn’t obvious to me before. Tuning external data points out and really zeroing in on what makes me feel like my most authentic, energized, happy, fulfilled self has resulted in naturally boosting my confidence. And those things that make me feel good have nothing to do with my appearance or accomplishments. I’ve been focusing on the things I mentioned in the previous paragraphs: putting my blinders on and worrying less about what others are doing, setting boundaries and protecting my time, working through my perfectionist tendencies, and removing things from my life that cost me peace (looking at you, bathroom scale). I’m going to continue focusing on confidence in 2023, and I can’t wait to see what else I learn.

2022 was a year full of change and challenge for me, but I think it’s also been my biggest year of personal growth in a long time. I am so excited to see what 2023 brings!

What are your biggest take-aways from 2022? Take a minute to reflect on them and how you can carry them forward into 2023!

Rooting for you!


What Does the New Taylor Swift Album Have to do with Coaching?

It’s been almost a month since Taylor Swift released her newest album, Midnights. I binge-listened to it repeatedly on a drive back to FL from NC after visiting my family there, and as I was listening the second time through, I started thinking, “why does this feel like I’m listening to months’ worth of work with clients in an album?”

I think part of the reason this album grabbed people the way it did is how deeply personal Swift gets. I found myself hearing the lyrics and thinking, “oh my gosh, me too” so many times. For me, the line “Sometimes I feel like everybody is a sexy baby, and I’m a monster on the hill” in “Anti-Hero” really struck me because I spent a lot of my youth feeling that way (if you read my last blog post, this makes more sense). Around the time I started to become very aware of my body was also the time my height really began to make me stand out (no pun intended). I often felt like a towering monster in a crowd of small, cute girls. And this isn’t the only lyric that grabbed me: “He wanted a bride, I was making my own name”, “Everything you lose is a step you take”, and “Didn't notice you walking all over my peace of mind in the shoes I gave you as a present. Putting someone first only works when you're in their top five” to name a few. I’m sure there were quite a few lines in the album that made y’all feel the same way.

So, what the heck does this have to do with coaching? Well, a lot actually.

Taylor Swift is very open about her insecurities and flaws in the album. The coaching process asks that level of awareness from anyone who goes through it.

People often tell me that some coaching sessions feel like therapy. And while coaching is definitely NOT therapy (and shouldn’t be treated that way), there is a serious level of self-awareness that is part of the process. You do have to be open about your vulnerabilities, strengths, and behavior patterns in order to understand how to make the changes you’d like to see. Building habits involves a level of deconstruction and un-learning as much as it does learning new things. The way Taylor deconstructs herself throughout the album and takes us through lessons she’s learned in her life really made me feel like I was going through several months’ of client work in one sitting. The highs of gaining confidence, the lows of failure, the struggle of acknowledging things you don’t do well, and the strength and power you gain from confronting it all – it’s all there.

Swift acknowledges quite a few ways she self-sabotages in Midnights, and in the change process this is something that must be confronted.

Ooooo this is a tough one for people to acknowledge at times, but self-sabotage plays a big role in coaching and behavior change. Swift calls her self-sabotaging tendencies out a lot throughout the whole album, but “Anti-Hero” is probably the most notable example. She calls herself out for being “the problem”, and it’s a mix of insecurity and acknowledging a level of self-sabotage in her life. In the coaching process, this is something everyone must balance – where are you self-sabotaging and what’s not in your control. One of the most common examples of self-sabotage is when you’re having a day (or week) where you aren’t hitting your goals perfectly and so you just say “F it, I’ll just pick it back up next week”. There’s no reason to do that – you can course correct at any time without going off the rails, and an “imperfect” week with a few wins is way better than just throwing in the towel. However, for some reason, we often opt to throw in the towel instead. It’s learning to fight against this sabotage that can really help you move forward.

Specifically, in “You’re on Your Own, Kid”, Swift describes a list of things she thought would “fix” her, but ultimately comes to the realization that this list of external things isn’t it.

This song has quickly become one of my favorites on the album because I relate to it SO much – and it’s something I see people work through in coaching all the time. Many people come to coaching because they want to make a change that is generally related to something they are insecure about. By the end of the coaching process, many people realize, however, that releasing insecurities doesn’t always come from physical changes. Most often, it’s from an internal shift. It’s from realizing that all of the things you thought would make you more confident may make you feel a little better, but confidence is not external – it’s internal. It isn’t specifically weight loss, or nailing your gym routine, or crushing your race, or quitting smoking, or knocking out a big professional milestone. It’s the way all of these little successes accumulate to make you see that you have what it takes.

I’ll close this newsletter with the lyrics she uses to close the song:


Everything you lose is a step you take

So make the friendship bracelets, take the moment and taste it

You've got no reason to be afraid

You're on your own, kid

Yeah, you can face this

You're on your own, kid

You always have been


You have no reason to be afraid, feel down on yourself, or feel less than. You’ve always had everything you need within yourself.

And I’m here rooting for you!


This is a Story All About How....I Became a Health Coach

I knew at some point I would share my own health journey. It comes with the territory of doing what I do. I think it’s important for my clients and anyone else who interacts with my content to understand where I’m coming from – why I coach the way I do, which is built in part from my own experience, in part from what I’ve learned over the past several years coaching others, and in part from my education. Before I get into it, I do need to add a quick note about some sensitive material in this post. I will be referencing disordered eating and bullying. If either of these things are triggering to you, you can skip down to paragraph 7 (I’m going to number them for easy navigation). That said, I’m not going to go into the details of my disordered eating behaviors because I don’t even want to put those ideas out there for someone to read or reference. Please also know that this is not intended to be a directive or recommendation for how to handle disordered eating or other behaviors. This is just my own experience and background.


So, let’s start at the beginning. I grew up in a rural area of Central Virginia. We didn’t have cable TV or a computer in the house until I was about 9 or 10 years old, so most of our time was spent playing outside, putting on plays with our American Girl dolls, creating elaborate Barbie games, and digging through my mom’s old clothes for dress-up. My sisters and I all three played sports each season, first in rec leagues and then for school teams. My mom didn’t keep a lot of “junk” food in the house. We knew the importance of eating your veggies, reading, thinking creatively, playing and interacting with each other. I didn’t really understand “healthy” vs. “unhealthy” for much of this time, but a lot of our upbringing was what most would consider a traditionally healthy approach. We didn’t consciously talk much about health or health behaviors in the house, beyond that we knew we had to eat veggies because they were good for us and that we should take our Flintstones multivitamins (#nostalgia).


I don’t remember when exactly I started consciously thinking about my weight and body, but on a recent trip home to Virginia I found an old journal of mine. It was from 1999, and there was an entry prompt for who you wanted to be in Y2K (#morenostalgia). The very first thing I wrote at the top of that prompt was “lose weight”. I was 11.


11 was the start of my middle school years, and to put it simply: they were ROUGH. I transferred to a very small school with only one class per grade and sadly during the 3 years I was there, I was bullied. Taller and bigger than the other girls in my class, I felt incredibly uncomfortable in my skin. I heard comments like “she’s a chubby hunchback of Notre Dame” and my height made me a spectacle to many (“how’s the weather up there?”). I became hyper-aware of my body, but I didn’t know anything about calories, nutrition, or really even what dieting was, except that I thought it was “healthy” because smaller was better. I didn’t start to change my eating patterns then, but I do remember starting to feel a sense of guilt and embarrassment around eating, which was devastating because I always loved food, cooking, and baking (thankfully, I still do). Something that brought me joy quickly morphed into something shameful instead.


The summer before 9th grade, I had a big growth spurt and as part of that, I leaned out. I remember at basketball try-outs getting so many comments on how skinny I’d gotten and how good I looked. After 3 years of feeling like I didn’t belong and like my body was “bad”, getting this kind of feedback was a salve. My height became slightly less awkward thanks to sports, and that’s where I found some confidence, but unfortunately this also meant that how I felt about myself was very connected to my body and physical appearance. Being tall and skinny became my superpower. All of this was reinforced by the magazines my friends and I coveted at the time with bright headlines telling us “Get Toned for Summer”, “How to Keep from Gaining Those Holiday Pounds”, and “Make Your New Year’s Weight Loss Stick”. The South Beach Diet and MasterCleanse were all the rage. The documentary Super-Size Me was part of our health class curriculum.


The external conditioning combined with the bullying I experienced were a perfect storm for creating disordered eating patterns, which continued throughout high school, college, and my early 20s. Sadly, I didn’t understand or want to listen to my body’s needs then, but I wish I had. I know my mental health seriously suffered because of it (and so did my athletic performance), but it wasn’t something I ever wanted or really knew how to communicate to anyone. Through this experience with disordered eating and body image, I viewed “healthy” as a “sacrifice” – to achieve it I needed to be rigid and give up things I loved (or do things I didn’t want to do).


In my 20s, I started training for longer distance races. Running and training this way helped me develop a better connection with my body. If I hadn’t had enough to eat or enough water, I could feel it in my run. Same thing with sleep, or if I was stressed. I started researching what optimal nutrition for training should look like and learning more about nutrition in general. I was still way too critical about my body and how I chose to fuel it, but I began to see the connection between performance and eating appropriately. At this point I had a lot of cognitive dissonance over what I knew I should be doing to take care of myself and the fear of my body changing because of it. I still had a lot of my self-worth tied up in the way I looked – specifically staying skinny.


Before getting to run my first half, I ended up with a stress fracture in my right heel. Around this time, I had also started traveling a lot for work and needed a better routine. I decided I’d take a break from race training and instead focus on “toning up” (LOL CRINGE). I had some free personal training sessions as part of joining a local gym, so I decided to take advantage of them - and this is where I fell in love with strength training. I got paired with an amazing trainer (shoutout Jess Norby!) and worked with her for almost 2 years, and she truly changed my life. I started to gain confidence for the first time. I started to feel, and get, strong. I could lift more than I ever had at any point in my life – and it was SO empowering. Jess introduced me to split squats and RDLs (still two favs), and to eccentric pull-ups (still mixed feelings). She helped me learn how to focus less on the amount of time I was in the gym and more on the amount of effort I put into each session. I stopped thinking I needed to work out for 2 hours for it to “count”. And, thanks to a lot of PT and my new love for lifting, my running got better. Strength training helped me learn to appreciate my body for what it could do, instead of always focusing on what was “wrong” with it.


The confidence I gained from strength training spilled over into other areas of my life. I started challenging some of my old ideas of what it meant to be “healthy”. I did a lot of reading and self-exploration to understand why I treated myself and my body the way I did. I went to therapy. I finally gained positive associations with being “healthy” and found ways to do it that didn’t wreck my mental health along the way. Then, in 2018 I took the leap I’d be contemplating for over a year: I started teaching group fitness.


My first teaching job was in northern Virginia at a locally owned strength and conditioning/cycling studio, and I loved it. But I also heard the same feelings of self-doubt, frustration, self-blame, and confusion about what it meant to be “healthy” that I experienced from our class participants. I started to wonder what it would look like to be able to help people outside of the studio, too. One afternoon after class, I was chatting about this with another instructor, and she asked if I had ever heard of health coaching. At the time, I hadn’t, so of course I immediately started researching the profession.


I remember the first few articles I read about the health coaching profession and feeling something click, like “Wow, this is it. This is the career I was meant for.” However, I also knew it would mean that I needed to do more work on myself to be in the right headspace to be a coach. So, as a pursued my own training through Duke University, I also started working with my own health coach. I did more self-exploration and thought work. I dove into the Health-At-Every-Size movement, Intuitive Eating, and body neutrality. I spent a lot of time perusing PubMed for research about behavior change, positive mindset, and the power of self-talk. As I began coaching my own clients, I started slowing finding the right way to bring these things into my coaching style and programs.


And that brings us to today, and where I am now. I got my personal training certification and found a gym I adore and made it part of my career. I still love strength training, and I still love running. I also love yoga, which is the wild card I did not see coming. I love salads and ice cream and I don’t feel guilty about either of them most days, or when I do I know how to handle it. I don’t love my body every day, but I also know that my worth isn’t tied to it and every day doesn’t have to be a great body image day to still be good. I know that being healthy doesn’t mean feeling deprived and it doesn’t have to be perfect. I know that a key part of health is mental health, not just physical health. I know that health does not have a size or an aesthetic. I know that there’s more to health than just nutrition and physical activity – your environment, sleep, stress, relationships, professional development, and spirituality all play a key role. I know that confidence and self-worth are a practice, and you have to actively cultivate them daily. I did not learn these things overnight – it has taken me the better part of a decade to unlearn the prior 20ish years of negative thought patterns and conditioning. I still fight these things daily.


As I think about myself through all these different phases of my life and see the way “health” evolved for me – I’m proud. While a lot of this evolution was difficult and painful, I would not have the approach I have now without it. When I hear clients mention how hard they are on themselves, how challenging it can be to balance goals with feeling good, when I hear the self-doubt and the confusion, the feelings of needing to force yourself into “health”, I can truly say that I understand – because I do. No situation is the same, but I have felt what so many of my clients do. I know where they’re coming from and empathize with them fully.


When you see my content and my coaching, you will see a lot about changing from a place of self-love and managing negative self-talk and thoughts. This story – my story – is the reason why this is a cornerstone of my practice, and coaching people for the last 3 years has only reiterated that it’s necessary. It’s so important to me that anyone I work with understands that you don’t have to – and you honestly shouldn’t – hate yourself into change.


If you take anything away from this post, I hope it’s this: healthy looks and feels different for everyone, and it takes time and self-compassion to be where you want to be. I coach the way I do because I think it’s so important to know that if trying to be “healthy” is costing you any fraction of your mental health - your joy, your confidence, your sense of peace – it’s not “healthy”. I also hope you know that while I talk a lot about change because that is what clients seek me out to help with, please never feel like changing is something you must do. You are wonderful just as you are right now.

If you made it this far, thank you for reading. I appreciate you so much.

The Importance of Letting Go

People often associate change with adding something: starting a new diet, picking up a fitness routine, finding 10 extra minutes in the morning for meditation, taking on extra at work for that promotion. One thing we often get wrong about change, however, is that another very important part of the process is what we let go of.

When my clients are considering starting a new goal, I try to always ask the question, “what can you let go of to make space for this new goal?”. Often, we find ourselves in situations where we keep adding because we think we need to – we feel a sense of guilt associated with letting something go. But to maintain balance and prevent burnout, I would suggest using the rule of letting one thing go when you add something new.

Another aspect of letting go that is so important to the change process is releasing limiting beliefs. I’ve talked about this a few times on my Instagram, but another of my favorite questions to ask is, “what limiting beliefs about yourself are you ready to release?”. Limiting beliefs are often born out of one or several experiences you had in which you couldn’t do something, and then you end up apply those handful of experiences across the full spectrum of your life. For example, math always felt really hard for me as a kid, and so I developed the blanket statement that “I’m not good at math” and applied it to everything moving forward. When I got a copy of my transcript at the end of one semester in undergrad and it had calculus listed as an elective instead of fulfilling my math requirement, I called my advisor confused. What happened was I had scored high enough on my AP Calc exam that it counted toward my math credits, and I didn’t need to take that calculus class, but I never checked my AP Calc score because I just assumed I didn’t do well since “I’m bad at math”. It turns out I’m not as bad at math as I told myself I was.

Releasing limiting beliefs is so important to change because holding on to them can cause us to throw up barriers when we don’t need to. Instead of trying something, you may tell yourself preemptively that you can’t do it because of some past experience you’ve applied more broadly, and this can make progress very challenging. It can make you feel stuck and powerless.

Give this exercise a try: write down the things you may think of as limiting beliefs. Then, once you have them on paper, really take stock of them. As yourself what evidence you have to make them true. Then, challenge those reasons. Play devil’s advocate for yourself. Examine the potential downsides of leaning further into those beliefs. Ask yourself what might happen if those beliefs weren’t actually true – what would you do? What could you accomplish? Consider a new “belief” you’d like to replace the old one with. How could you put that into practice this week?

This is a busy time of year – the summer is ending, school starts again, work picks up heading into the fall (and let’s face it, the last big stretch before everything relaxes for the holidays). Whether you decide to address a limiting belief, or remove one or two things from your to-do list, try this week to check in with yourself a few times and ask, “what can I let go of?” as we begin moving into this new season.

Rooting for you!



In Defense of Selfishness

If you’re anything like me, you might think one of the worst things someone could call you is “selfish”.

From the time we’re small, we are conditioned against anything that may result in us being labeled that way. We must share everything, we must not draw attention to ourselves, we must relinquish the spotlight to others, we must prioritize others’ time and needs before our own. I know women especially are often pushed into the coveted “selfless” space. It’s a word you commonly hear being used to describe mothers and/or caregivers and it’s generally spoken as a high form of praise.

I used to strive for that – to be called selfless. I am innately a “helper”. I draw a lot of joy and personal satisfaction from helping people. I have always worked in a service-based career field: from restaurant management to event planning, to relationship management, to consulting, and now coaching and personal training. What I’ve learned the hard way, however, is that sometimes in the pursuit of selflessness, you do just that: lose yourself. So, now I am striving for the opposite.

At the end of this month, I turn 34. What I hope to work on in my 35th trip around the sun is on being more selfish. Not in a way that is rude to others or consistently disregards their needs/feelings, but rather in a way that makes more space for my own. This does not need to be absolute and to the detriment of the other relationships in your life. What I’m striving for, and what I’d encourage you to strive for, is a balance. Have days where you put yourself above everything else and have days where you don’t.

This balance is so important in the coaching space. Something I have recently surmised is that on occasion the struggle to complete steps toward a goal is the result of not prioritizing, but often it’s more about a lack of selfishness. People will put their action steps at the top of the to-do list, but if there’s an unexpected need from someone else, we are often quick to disappoint ourselves before we’ll disappoint someone else.

So, for this month, I’d encourage you to try to focus on that point: consider how often you disappoint yourself to avoid disappointing someone else. What would change if you did that less? How would things look and feel different if you got just a bit more selfish?

Rooting for you, and for myself!


The Importance of Lizzo in Health Coaching

Perhaps a lesser-known fact about me is my love for Lizzo. I constantly find myself playing her songs when I need a pick-me-up or confidence boost. I cook dinner, clean, workout, drive, walk the dog, you name it to Lizzo.

The overarching theme in Lizzo’s music is self-love. Gritty, raw, unapologetic self-love. I don’t know about y’all, but my gosh could I have used more of that in my middle school through early adulthood years. Even prior to the social media age of constant filtering and voyeurism through rose-colored glasses, it was easy to feel “less than”. Before it was social media, it was bylines in Cosmo, Teen Vogue, and Seventeen Magazine marketing Five Tips to Turn Heads and Top Ten Exercises for Toned Summer Abs. We’ve been conditioned for years to believe that we aren’t good enough by some metric or another. There weren’t a lot of celebrities or role models in those years pushing the message that we were great, no exceptions, period.

Lizzo doesn’t just sing about it, either – she lives it. It’s in her social media, it comes through in her shows and performances, in her interviews. I don’t mean the kind of self-love that insists you love every single part of yourself, all the time. Lizzo shows us a “yes, and” way of self-love: yes, I am flawed AND I love myself. These things can co-exist – they must. You don’t have to love every aspect of yourself to feel good and know that you are worthy of love and great things. She also shows us that you don’t have to fit a standard definition of anything – beauty, femineity/masculinity, maturity, etc. You get to define your own parameters for what makes you feel good about yourself.

My job is a bit of a paradox at first blush: a core role of a health coach is to help facilitate changes in behavior to help clients meet goals. The center of what I do is helping people change. Isn’t that contrary to self-love? How can I help people change and also help them love themselves regardless of that change? That’s a great question, and one that I ask myself often.

The reality is, you can’t hate yourself into a change and if you’re seeking to change something about yourself because you say it will make you feel more confident, or it will make loving yourself easier, I have an unfortunate truth for you: it won’t. Confidence and self-love don’t come from making external changes. They are strictly internal, and they take work. It takes fighting the negative self-talk, reframing self-deprecating thoughts, learning to accept parts of yourself and knowing that these things don’t change your worth. Loving yourself can be hard if you’re not used to it. Hating yourself into changing is harder, though, I promise.

Think about how much easier it feels to take care of yourself (to do anything, really) when you’re feeling good. It’s often easier said than done but doing the work to love yourself more before you start trying to tackle a health goal or behavior change is worth it in the long run. When in doubt, look to Lizzo and ask yourself: do I want to feel Good as Hell? Hell yes, you do. And it starts with radical self-love. Curious about what that could look like for you? Let’s talk.

Rooting for you!