anxiety

28 Lessons from 28 years of life

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It’s pretty incredible to look back to see how far you’ve come.

This is my 2nd time doing this since I started the blog (check out last years roundup here) and every year I’m blown away by all the things I’ve taken away.

I spent so many years of my life on automatic pilot, going through the motions and not taking stock in my life. What I was learning, how I was growing. And doing this every year has been such an amazing way to look back and do just that — plus you guys know I LOVE sharing my shiz with you.

So here they are — the mess, the growth, the shifts. I hope they serve as a gorgeous reminder for your own life.


28 lessons from 28 years of life:

  1. Success isn’t about the shiny pennies. It’s about getting clear on what’s truly important to you and going after that feeling every day.

  2. Boundaries are beautiful. When you set them, you are finally able to say no to things you don’t want so you can say yes to the things you do.

  3. The thing that feels like the hardest thing on the planet to do/decide/shift? It’s not. It might suck, and be painful but you’ll get through it.

  4. Anxiety is your intuition giving you clues. This was a huge lesson this year (and therapy) has taught me and it’s allowed me to truly learn how to use it as my superpower instead of feeling overwhelmed by it. 

  5. Run towards the people and experiences that fill your cup.

  6. Trust the gut tugs. This was one of the lessons I didn’t expect to learn and one that has changed so much about the way I navigate life. 

  7. A woman’s body is SO complex and something to be celebrated — periods and all. (Read more about my switch from birth control pills to the copper IUD this year

  8. Vulnerability is strength. Embrace the mess and choose to grow from it.

  9. 20 minute workouts can be just as empowering and challenging as an hour boot camp class. Choosing my time wisely in this way has been such a huge part of my journey this year and my old limiting beliefs that left me in the gym for hours always feeling not enough has been BLASTED on a whole new level with the workout program I’m currently rocking. 

  10. Put yourself first and foremost. Over EVERYTHING. Because you cannot give to anyone or anything if your tank isn’t full first.

  11. That I am a manifesting generator in human design and a 7 on the enneagram (which gave me SOOO much understanding about myself and why I operate the way I do — check out episode 5 of the podcast for more info!)

  12. My boobs do not define me as a woman or a sexual being. Period.

  13. Belief is the root of every possibility we allow into our lives. 

  14. Money doesn’t have to be stressful. We don’t HAVE to live paycheck to paycheck and constantly perpetuate the “I’m broke” cycle and it STARTS with the words we say and the energy we put into the universe. 

  15. Allll about my innate privilege and how I can show up in the self development space AND be an advocate for social change.

  16. Expectations can’t get met if you don’t express them. Ask for what you want. Express what you need. 

  17. Surround yourself with people who have different perspectives and lives than yours. It is the most beautiful way to grow and learn. Don’t know where to start? Follow people online and diversify your feed.

  18. Sharing your story, even when you’re going through the damn thing, can be the most rewarding thing you ever do.

  19. If you don’t like it, change it. You have the power to shift your thoughts/decisions/the way you show up in the world. So do the damn thing and make the shift. Even if it’s hard. 

  20. Change isn’t such a bad thing. I used to be terrified of change but this year has taught me so much about the beauty of leaning into the shifts. Change may be uncomfortable but that discomfort? It’s where all the growth and magic takes place, if you let it.

  21. My heart craves adventure. I need it. I thrive off of it. And the more adventure I can have in my life, the more my soul feels filled the fuck up. So move towards what lights you up. 

  22. Just because something works for one person doesn’t mean it’s going to work for you. You already have the answers inside of you. Surround yourself with people who help you get clear on what you really want instead of those who prescribe what they do to you. 

  23. Starting your day off with gratitude will change the game. I’ve been doing this for the past 6 months and it truly puts my mindset in the best spot. 

  24. Peoples beliefs don’t pay the bills. Do what sets your soul on fire and do so apologetically. Not everyone will get it. But don’t let other peoples thoughts stop you from showing up for what YOU want on YOUR terms.

  25. Community is EVERYTHING. Women are hardwired for community and it MF SUCKS when we don’t feel like we have people in our lives who truly get us. Whether you foster and create your own soul sisterhood like I did or join one (you can sit with us!), seek out a group of women that will set your soul on fire and empower you to be better every single day.

  26. Be an advocate for your health. One of my biggest takeaways from my BRCA journey this year has been standing up for what I want with my doctors. Ask for what you want. Trust your intuition. And don’t just follow doctors orders because they tell you it’s what’s you have to do. Get second, third and fourth opinions. Do your research. Talk to people who’ve been in your shoes. And stand up for your health, it’s all you’ve got.

  27. “What do you need today love?” — a beautiful tool my dear friend Jen Wille shared on episode 21 of the podcast and one that has truly helped me get super acquainted with my innate desires.

  28. The key to living your fuck yes life? Getting rid of the “shoulds” and getting clear on what lights you up and moving ALLLLL THE WAY in that direction. Okay? Ok. 


Which ones are you committed to working on this year?

Xo Amanda

2018: My Year In Review

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Hi Live Your F*ck Yes Lifers!

I can’t believe it’s that time again to sit down and take stock of the year — it feels like just yesterday I was writing my 2017: My Year in Review blog post.

Doing this every year has become such a beautiful tradition. It gives me space to reflect and set intentions for the upcoming year — and my hope is that it inspires you to do the same.

So often we go about our life not taking stock for what we’ve accomplished, especially when we feel like we haven’t made any progress in a year. But I bet that if you rock out this exercise alongside of me and take some time to truly look back on your year, you’ll be surprised of just how much you HAVE accomplished and just how far you’ve come.


2018 was arguably the best year of my life. 

While learning about having the BRCA 1 mutation was a huge thread through it all, the biggest thing was living up to my chosen word of the year — UNAPOLOGETIC.

It allowed me to feel the fear and do it anyways. 

Say YES to opportunities that my gut was pulling me towards even if my head was saying no. 

Share my story and truth with abandon. 

Finally DO the things I’d been holding myself back from doing for years.

Here’s a snapshot of some of those things…

MY YEAR IN REVIEW

TRAVEL

  • My first trip was a 2 week long stint to LA, San Francisco and Hawaii. I was put up in LA for a leadership conference for my business (which in and of itself was a DREAM and an HONOR) and it landed right around my Birthday/mine and Kev’s anniversary so we extended the trip and drove up the coast to San Francisco before I flew to Honolulu for a week with my best friend from high school, Irina. It was the first time in my career that I was able to just take off and go somewhere because of my business.

  • In April, I got to experience my first all expenses paid trip to Punta Cana that I earned through my coaching biz. I got to take Kev as my guest and it was the most luxurious and relaxing and fun 5 days.

  • Next up was my first retreat I held for the gals on my coaching team in Florida — aka the most hilarious, fun and amazing weekend filled with face masks, rained out photoshoots, laugh attacks and margaritas.

  • And then I got to see them again (plus way more of my gals!) in Indy at our annual coach Summit where I had the biggest full circle moment of my life. Can’t say Indy was the most exciting place to visit, but I would go anywhere to spend a long weekend growing as a business owner and person alongside my team.

  • In August, I got to check a major place off of my bucket list: Iceland. We went in celebration of my mom’s 60th and the amount of adventure we experienced was just unparalleled. We went into the inner chamber of a MF volcano. So cool.

  • The rest of the year was filled with mini trips to Canada (a week spent at my cabin was heaven on earth), a stint in NYC and my first time in Texas for an amazing conference.

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BUSINESS

  • After 2.5 years of rocking my side hustle, I was able to make enough to quit all of my additional part time jobs. And that’s working no more than 5-10 hours a week. It’s amazing what happens when you decide to show up and trust in the compound effect.

  • I launched my Live Your F*ck Yes Life podcast!!! If ya haven’t already, subscribe here.

  • I launched my wellness events & retreats company Empowered and Free. We hosted 3 amazing events and one retreat in the Chicago area this year and have some BIG plans for the next year and I can’t WAIT. This was honestly the biggest surprise of 2018. I had NO intention of creating a company like this. All I wanted to do was hold space for wellness, self care & community in a way that I hadn’t seen in Chicago via a social media movement experiment…and SO many women resonated. Just another beautiful example of following those gut tugs.

  • I had my writing published in a book, The Authentic Woman Series: Identity Rising.

  • I got certified as an emotional eating and mindset coach.

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LIFE

  • I was tested positive for the BRCA 1 gene and had a prophylactic bilateral mastectomy.

  • Spent 6 months of the year working on the most artistically fulfilling and empowering show I’ve ever been a part of. Haymarket the musical was such a gift in my life — and it was super badass getting to be a part of an original cast recording!

  • I went off the hormonal birth control after 12 years of being on the pill — read more about my decision to do so here!

  • I started working with a therapist after years of resisting it. Best. Decision. Ever.

  • I completed my first 90 day workout program, focused on strength training in new and exciting ways and truly learned what loving and appreciating your body is all about.

  • Celebrated my 10 year high school reunion — WHAT? So crazy.

  • Created and fostered the most incredible support system in Chicago. It’s been a year of nurturing and deepening new & existing relationships like never before.

  • Had a bon voyage to the boobs weekend and photoshoot with my 3 best girlfriends at my cottage and a surprise ta-ta to the tits party the week before my surgery in Chicago!

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This year was filled with unexpected magic.

Some things I planned but most? The things that brought the most to my life were FAR from anticipated.

And I truly believe it’s because I allowed space to explore them.

I listened to my intuition, my gut, and I went where I was called to go.


Did I “hit all of my 2018 goals”? Hell no.

That’s not the point. Some of them I showed up for with gusto. Some I’m still working towards and it’s only a matter of time. Some no longer serve my greater vision and purpose. And others I didn’t even know I needed/wanted.

All I know is that I followed my gut to the YES’s.

Because I know it’s my compass more than anything in the world.


Sometimes, it’s the most simple YES’s that transform your life in the most INCREDIBLE ways.

So this year, I hope you say YES. Invest your time, money, heart in things that will allow you to LIVE YOUR FUCK YES LIFE.

And notice how I said YOURS. Not someone ELSE’s version of that. YOURS. YOUR happiness. YOUR dreams. YOUR health.


Follow the gut tugs, my badasses.

It’ll lead you to LIVE YOUR F*CK YES LIFE TOO, ok?


What’s your intention heading into 2019?

Xo Amanda

Gut Health Matters. Poop better, live happier & feel your MF best.

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I was super into the arts and humanitarians in high school.

English. History. Psych. It was my jam.

But science? Anything math related? It was just NOT my jam. Except for Biology.

I was so fascinated by the ways our bodies worked and I related to it because it felt applicable to me — ya know, ‘cause I have a body.


So when I started learning more about nutrition in my journey to becoming a health coach, I became FASCINATED by the gut.

Gut health has become a super trendy topic as of late — you know, all those fancy yogurts and kombucha supporting that gut health all the wayyyy. Right?

But supporting our gut health is SO MUCH MORE than having a kombucha every day…(which for the record, I don’t recommend). And having a healthy gut is KEY to having a healthy body…and here’s why…

The gut is largely responsible for putting our body into working order.

As our food gets broken down, the microbiome (aka the bacteria in our gut) absorb the nutrients from the food which, in turn, supports things like hormone balance, mental health, healthy waste elimination (aka GOOD POOPS) & even skin health.


The craziest thing that totally blew my mind?

The gut and the brain are directly connected.

Which, in turn, means the food you’re ingesting and being absorbed by the gut impact your mental health/anxiety in profound ways.


How do you know if your gut needs some extra love? Here are some symptoms you may be experiencing…

  • Anxiety - Around 80% of serotonin, the neurotransmitter that impacts mood, sleep, social behavior etc is produced in the gut. So when the gut isn’t healthy, you’re getting less serotonin, which can negatively impact your mood.

  • IBS/ bowel movement issues — these have been directly linked to an imbalance of the microbiome

  • Exhaustion/Brain fog - this is also linked to lack of seratonin, as having lower levels of it can cause insomnia or trouble sleeping

  • Acne or skin issues — the main cause for acne/rashes is an imbalance in the gut

  • Cravings — if there’s an overgrowth of yeast in the system, you can crave more sugar


If you’re like AHHHHH I HAVE ALL OF THESE or even SOME of these, then GIRLFRIEND, you can do something about it right fucking now.


The microbiome in our gut can be reset in as little as 3 days. Isn’t that incredible? Which means with some mindful practices, we can take agency over our health, mind body and soul.


BEST WAYS TO SUPPORT GUT HEALTH


QUICK RESET & GUT OVERHAUL

I’m not a proponent for quick fixes in life. Especially when it comes to our health. But sometimes, our body needs a reset to be able to give us a healthy base to launch into new shifts.

And that’s why I love the 3 day refresh. A 3 day plant based gut detox which focuses on eating real foods & supporting your gut health through supplements.

I’ve rocked this particular program three times now (about once per year) and every time I do it, I’m astounded by my results. And this time was no exception.

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I weighed myself out of sheer curiosity and I’m down 7.6 lbs (my husband who also rocked it alongside with me this time was down 7 lbs) and we both have maintained that loss a week later.

I’m feeling SO energized and refreshed in a way I haven’t felt in months — YASS GUT HEALTH.

WINS?

  • bloating GONE

  • slept better than I have in months 

  • feeling so lean 

  • brain alert and focused 

  • poops are on point

  • eczema cleared up

SPEEDBUMPS

  • felt a little hungry the last night of the 3 days but tea helped 

  • my energy was lower overall through the 3 days but it’s back tenfold  

I am so glad I dove into this even when I felt like I didn’t “have the time” for it. And I’m so proud of my LYFYL wellness community for rocking it out too, especially my 2 gals who did it while traveling for work. MF ROCKSTARS and proof that you CAN put yourself first no matter what season of life you’re in. And if you’re looking for a quick way to shift your body’s composition, this is 100% what I would recommend.


EAT MORE VEGETABLES

Big ol’ duh, I know. But seriously, gut check yourself (ha, see what I did there?) and check in with how many vegetables a day you’re actually getting in. They are the best way to add more healthy nutrients in your day to support gut health.

EAT HIGH FIBER FOODS

Fiber doesn’t get digested in the body until it gets to the gut (which stimulates bacteria growth!) so it’s the healthiest thing you can ingest. Some of my favorite high fiber foods include: raspberries, broccoli, chickpeas, artichokes, lentils.

TAKE A PROBIOTIC SUPPLEMENT

This can be a bit tricky because many probiotics on the market are actually not beneficial to your gut health at all because the casing they’re encapsulated in aren’t made to withstand the acidity in the stomach and break down before they even make it to the intestines (which is where they are needed to do their job!). I take my probiotic in form of powder in my daily smoothie because I know it has the correct casing (shoot me a message if you want more info!) so whatever you do, just be sure to do your research on which ones you can snag that will actually do the job intended!

And there you have it! GUT HEALTH FOR THE WIN.

Do you have any symptoms listed above? What has been your biggest struggle with gut health?

Let me know in the comments!

Xo Amanda

Living with Anxiety? Yeah, me too.

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Anxiety.

The word alone gives me anxiety — and honestly, I’ve been wanting to write a post about this for a long ass time but something has kept holding me back…until today.


Why now?

If you follow me on Instagram, you know that I love to pop into my Insta stories on the regular and talk to you guys — pep talks, rants, goofy moments, adorable pup time with Toby and silly dance parties are what you normally can expect, but last week, I was having one of those days (maybe you know the kind) and I brought it up on my stories, asking for help on how to navigate it all.

And I’ve never had SO MUCH response to something I posted in my life. 92% of my followers said they struggled with anxiety too. I knew I wasn’t alone but the amount of “me too” responses I got absolutely blew me away and I knew I couldn’t stay silent about it anymore.


My Story

I've lived with anxiety for the past 5 years. The summer of 2013, an event in my life triggered what I now know to be called a panic attack. At the time, I thought I was literally dying. I was hyperventilating and crying so much that I almost passed out and for the life of me, I couldn’t make it stop.

This was my first experience with anxiety, or at least what I can remember.

And honestly, my first experience with mental health struggles.

My anxiety took a really intense hold over my life for the years following — panic attacks would happen when I least expected, conversations about the simplest things could spur it and I would find myself waking up with a heavy chest that just couldn’t go away, no matter what I did.

I’ve spent the past 5 years navigating my anxiety and building up tools in my tool box that have helped immensely — and what used to be a super common feeling has turned into something that rears its head every one and a while.

Anxiety looks different on everyone. I know women who navigate it from all ends of the spectrum — from women who have Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) who are on medication for their anxiety to women who occasionally get anxious about specific circumstances in their lives.

One thing I do know? Most women don’t talk about it.

Which makes us all feel a hell of a lot more alone in all of it, don’t ya think?

It’s my mission to help contribute to the mission to normalize anxiety — ‘cause you are not less than because you experience it, in any capacity. Ya hear me?


What you can do?

I was blown away by the incredible thoughtful response some of my amazing followers on Instagram shared with me, and I wanted to share their thoughts alongside mine. Here they are…

“Breathing mantras and writing!”

“Puppy snuggles” — you laugh but there is scientific proof that petting pups actually lowers your cortisol (aka stress) levels!

“Journaling out my feelings”

“Evening out my breath. So making my inhales 5ish secs and my exhales 5ish secs.”

“Yoga, meditation and journaling is what works for me.”

“Getting enough sleep”

“Painting/being creative in any way.”

“Reading.”

“Big hugs”

“Writing down things I can see, feel. and hear helps ground me.”

“Reminding myself of things that are true.”

“Running and coloring”


How thoughtful are these responses? So many incredible things to sift through and find what works for you.


Here are some of my personal go-tos that have been a total godsend to quiet or rid myself of anxiety:


EXERCISE PAIRED WITH SUPPORT

The minute I feel anxiety creeping up, I know that the best thing I can do is to sweat it out. It works absolute WONDERS, and having a community of women encouraging me and supporting me along the way has been KEY in my journey. We all need spaces that allow us to come exactly as we are and that’s what these groups have been for me.


THROW MYSELF A DANCE PARTY

There is nothing like putting on some of my favorite tunes (lately I’ve been taking it back to some TLC and it’s been pretty fucking incredible) and throwing myself a major dance party.

I know it can feel counter-intuitive in the moment but thrusting your body into something active and physical and unexpected can help jolt you out of your state of anxiety.


GO FOR A WALK

Sometimes something as simple as a shift in environment and getting outside can make all the difference. I actually try to pre-emptively plan for these with my daily mid day walk with my pup — it forces me to get out of the house! If you work a traditional full time gig, take your lunch outside or take the second half of it by going for a walk. Better yet, start your day with a quick walk around the block to wake you up!

REMEMBER — if you are struggling and need someone to talk to, I’m always just a message away my love. I’m no expert on anxiety but I’m always, always here.

Xo Amanda

p.s. I’m hosting an End Overeating & Anxiety for good webinar with my good friend and therapist Rachel Wright later this month and would love to see you there — be sure to hop on my email list and in our Live Your F*ck Yes Life Facebook community to get the deets first!

My 3 Top Tips On How to Deal with Stress

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Does this sound like you?

Every single day.

You're feeling overworked. Busy.
Running out the door. Looking for your phone/keys. Leave your lunch on the kitchen counter.
Work all day.
Trudge home in traffic.
Grab a glass of wine. Make dinner.
Cuddle on the couch. Netflix.
Go to bed and do it all over again.

 

My day looked like that for years. 
 

And I will never forget what my mom said to me a few years back...

She said: "You have to slow down or you're going to burn out." 



And she was right.

And of course, like the stubborn gal I am, I didn't listen.

And I burnt the fuck out.

 

This isn't something I've had the courage to share until now (and to be honest, I'm not quite sure where I'm finding the courage to do it now, but it's happening and girl, I'm gonna go with it...) 

STRESS.

Such a little word but such an overwhelming feeling, am I right? And for some reason, people just DON'T talk about it. If I were to sit down and ask you right now if there's anything that's stressing you out in your life, chances are your answer would be a resounding YES.

And if not, holy shit girl congratulations for being an amazing amoeba -- this blog post probably isn't for you (although feel free to hang around, you're still awesome in my books). 

 

So why why why do we just not talk about it?

We've been taught to hide our stress. Keep our anxieties at bay. Put on a mask and "just deal with it". And while I'm all about keeping positive, I am also about being REAL and honest, and that includes the shitty days -- because YUP, you guessed it, stress is something I deal with all the fucking time. 

For YEARS I felt paralyzed by stress. I mean, I would get stressed out at the tiniest things -- if a dish was left in the sink for longer than an hour, if there was any form of traffic when I was driving, if situations didn't happen EXACTLY how my mind imagined that they would. 

I once removed myself from my own 14th birthday party because my friends didn't wanna watch Bring It On 2...(when my best gals remind me of this, I can't help but laugh now but at the time, I was PISSED.) And let's just say, that added stress that I kept imposing into my life...well, it kept up for a LONG while.

I was a bundle of stress and it was affecting so many areas in my life. 

My control freak tendencies got the best of me and for a while, I got so overcome by all of that stress that I started having panic attacks. I literally made myself sick because I couldn't give up my control over shit. I became the girl I always was so frustrated by -- the negative nancy who would spend her days complaining about the littlest things and putting more energy into the every day bullshit than the GOOD.

Sound familiar?

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While my schedule may look a whole hell of a lot different than it did then, I still lead a busy life. And what I've learned along the way is the importance to find ways to slow down and find some grounding amidst the busy.

Because let's be honest, you were not put on this Earth to spend your lifetime running around like a chicken with your head cut off and feeling endlessly anxious and overwhelmed.

 

MY TOP 3 TOOLS FOR DEALING WITH STRESS:

1. THE BRAINDUMP

This is a journaling technique that I adopted when I read the book The Artists Way and while I don't implement it every day anymore like I used to, on days when I'm feeling particularly anxious, it's a lifesaver.

The idea? As soon as you wake up in the morning, before you do ANYTHING, grab a journal and a pen and just write down anything and everything that's in your head. Don't edit. Just WRITE.

Light a candle, curl up in a blanket and treat this as your ME time.

Morning times doesn't resonate with you? Do this before bed to get rid of all of the BS chatter making it tough to fall asleep. 

2. MEDITATION

Honest? I was super turned off by meditation for years. I always felt like I wasn't doing it right and that I just couldn't sit still and quiet my mind the way I was "supposed to".

But once I shifted my perspective on it and gave it a chance, it did WONDERS for my mental health.

My best tip is to treat it as a PRACTICE. You're not going to be able to quiet the chatter but can you breathe through it? You are intentionally creating space for YOU and that is SO powerful! Celebrate that.

I recommend starting off with a guided meditation -- my personal favorite is a free app called CALM. Try out their 7 days of calm to get started and see how you feel!

3. THROW YOURSELF A DANCE PARTY

You know I had to add something goofy in -- I can't help it!

But for real, when you're feeling suuuper stressed out and funky and in your head, the best thing you can do is to MOVE YOUR BODY.

You know I'm all for a good sweat session, but if you can't muster up the time or courage to push play for 30 minutes and sweat it out, throw on some of your favorite tunes (my personal go tos are 90s boybands and disney belt fests) and DANCE YOUR HEART OUT.

 

And there you have it. 

What's your favorite of the 3 tips? Share in the comments!

Xo Amanda