My entire body is shaking and I feel a wave of nausea coming over me as I get ready to click “publish.” I’ve hit cancel more than a few times now but a tug inside of my heart is telling me that I need to share something more significant than #tacotuesday today. To be honest, social media has been chipping away at my heart lately. As I carefully craft the perfect post to live alongside other people’s highlight reels, I can’t help but compare myself to their seemingly perfect lives. But you noticed what I said there, right? Highlight reels? Because that’s what we tend to share…the best of the best, only the carefully curated moments we want others to know about us.

Well today, what I’m sharing is imperfect. It’s a work in progress, a struggle, a battle…me. The real version of me. The me that I’ve tried my very best to hide from the corners of social media out of fear of judgement, shame and guilt…until today. In a world that makes it so easy to be consumed and overwhelmed by our perceived “lack” that we feel as we quickly assess the things that someone else has in their highlight reel that we “don’t”, I want to reach past all of that to the person who is sitting in the same seat as I am today in search of something real.

 

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March 2014, I snapped the photo on the left. I remember this day very distinctly as I stood at the top of my stairs in my Royal Oak apartment, alone, petrified to take this picture. I was really good at hiding this version of me; baggy clothes, layers, etc. A lump in my throat formed as I opened my camera. I didn’t want to take this. At all. But I knew I had to. I kept this photo safe and close to me for what has been almost four years now, just waiting for the time to come to share it. I knew when I did, I had to be in the right place. If you had scrolled through my social media feed at the time that photo was taken, you would have never known the darkness that was in my heart…or at least I didn’t want you to. On the outside, my life was great! I had an amazing boyfriend (my now husband), a good job, wonderful friends, a beautiful family. But, I hated myself. I hated the way I looked, I hated the way I felt, I hated that I let myself get to this point and was trapped in a body that I knew wasn’t mine. I can still feel days in the pit of my stomach where I would catch myself in the mirror as I did my hair or makeup. I remember the hatred that filled my heart as I not just thought to myself, but told myself that there is no way any could really love me if I looked the way that I did at the time. This hate was fueled by my binge eating disorder, something that I never shared publicly until now. Food was a coping mechanism for me — for stress, for depression, for fear, for boredom, for anxiety, for self-hate. Until this day. This day in 2014, tears filled my eyes and my heart felt relieved as I finally decided to give up the fight against myself and instead, forge a new path of love again.

The photo on the right was taken earlier this morning. I literally took one photo and then walked away. No posing, no lighting adjustments. Since the photo from 2014, a lot has changed. I reassessed my relationship with food, took time to understand my disordered eating and found ways to make a healthy change. I established a workout routine that makes me feel my best and brings out the best in me. Am I exactly where I want to be in terms of my body? Nope. Do I still slip up from time-to-time? You bet. But do I now approach life with a love and appreciation of the power of my health and body? 100%.

When I first began my health coaching journey, I was brought to tears within the first week of my program. Not only did I finally feel like I had found my “dream job”, I knew this was meant for me because I’ve been on the other side….the “secret” other side. I’ve been through the self-doubt, the self-hate, the feelings of worthlessness, the not knowing where to turn in what seemed like a never-ending cycle of binging all while making sure people only thought that my life was perfect. And it’s through all that darkness that I live in the light today. I still compare myself to others and there are times where I let the highlight reel cloud my mind and weaken my heart. But then I remember that in the secret spaces between the highlight reels are real humans. And if sharing this today reaches just one person who needed to be reminded of the real, the good, the “real life” and that sincerely loving yourself matters so much more than the way you want people online to think they love you, then the girl from 2014 snapped that photo with you in the bright parts of her heart.

With love,

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First week of 2018: Goals Check In

First week of 2018: Goals Check In

Happy Monday, friends!

Can you believe we’re already through the first week of the new year?! With the first seven days behind us, this is a great opportunity to check in on your goals for 2018.

How are they going? Is there anything you’ve needed to change or adjust? Maybe you’ve fallen off track a bit? If so, that’s okay! It’s never too late to jump back in. Take a moment to revisit what you initially wrote down. Are your goals actionable? Are you able to answer the “why” behind each goal? It’s one thing for us to say “I want to lose weight” or “I want to eat better” but if we don’t have the “why” behind our goals, there’s a pretty good chance we won’t find success in them.

How about something like: “I want to lose weight so that I feel more confident in my favorite outfit” or “I want to eat better to help lower my blood pressure or cholesterol.” Having the “why” makes our goals personalized to us and gives us the motivation to keep pushing toward accomplishing them!

Tell me one of your 2018 goals below. 🙂

Be Well,

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Happy New Year! Sharing 8 of my 2018 Goals

Happy New Year! Sharing 8 of my 2018 Goals

Happy New Year, friends!

I can’t believe 2017 is over! So much has happened this last year that has changed my life for the better: I celebrated my first year of marriage to my human, my love, my doggy daddy; I lost my cushy corporate job and found the courage to pursue a path in health and wellness that I know deep down in my bones I’m meant to do; I ran my first half-marathon (foot injury and all);  I enrolled at IIN to embark on my path of becoming a health coach; I started this blog; my husband and I got our dog, Cooper. While 2017 has been incredible for me personally, I absolutely love the New Year. I love the buzzing energy of ambition, optimism and focus. I love the clean slate, the fresh start, the opportunity to begin again. I love that people are working toward bettering themselves and taking an interest in improving their health, happiness and well-being. All of that is exactly why I decided to get into health and wellness coaching —  wanting to help people live their best lives…and I know that making uncomfortable changes to the familiarity of our everyday lives can be intimidating, daunting, overwhelming and scary.

But you’re not in these changes alone. I promise that the good so outweighs the unknown, and I am so proud of you for taking this first step of wanting to change your life for the better.

Today, I wanted to share eight goals that I’m personally working on in 2018 with the hope that I inspire and motivate you to get your own goals on paper, in writing and into action. Don’t know where to start or need an accountability buddy to help you stay on track? Please don’t hesitate to email me! Lets crush our goals together. <3

Goal #1: Screen-free meals.

When I sit down at my dining room table for a meal, the world stops momentarily and I step into a calm and quiet serenity. And then I turn the tv on or pick up my phone and start to scroll through one of my social feeds and suddenly my food is gone and I can’t remember half of what was discussed throughout dinner conversation. Awful, right? One of my goals for 2018 is to bask in that stillness and to be completely present during meals, which means no phone or TV. I want to be totally zoned-in to the people I’m with and the food that I’m consuming. I want my meals to be an immersive experience where I’m feeding and nourishing both my body and my soul.

Goal #2: Prioritize sleep.

Oh guys, this has been such a tough one for me in the last year. I am definitely a morning person and love starting my day early. My best days begin with a 6AM yoga class or some sort of sweat sesh.  But I find that when I get to bed later than I probably should, I tend to skip my morning workout, which throws off the rest of my day. On top of that, I have a very bad habit of falling asleep on the couch and not actually going up to sleep in my bed until 2, 3 or sometimes 4 IN THE MORNING. How horrible is that? Talk about disrupted sleep cycles!

In the next year, I want to make sleep a priority, plain and simple. I want to unapologetically unplug at 7PM and be in bed as early as 8PM. Yes, 8! Sleep is so incredibly important to our health and well-being. When we sleep, tons of amazing things happen in our bodies: our internal organs rest and recover; our tissue starts to repair; muscle growth and protein synthesis occur; the hormones in our bodies that help regulate appetite and control stress, metabolism and other bodily functions are released; memory consolidation occurs, which allows for the formation and storage of new memories = essential for learning new information; increased energy to make beneficial lifestyle choices (cooking, exercise, self-care, etc.) happens; our immune system is strengthened; we have a heightened alertness, focus, and creativity; our mood is improved from the reduction of anxiety, irritability, and mental exhaustion. I don’t know about you, but I want ALL of that in my life! So, I’m going to strive to make going to bed early without guilt or distraction part of my daily routine.

Goal #3: Master a handstand in yoga.

This has been on my list for a while now, but I haven’t been consistent enough in dedicating time in my practice for this to happen. It’s really disappointing, but it’s the truth. In 2018, I want to set aside 10 minutes in my practice each day to focus solely on strengthening my skills toward a handstand…I’ll be sure to post progress pictures on Instagram (@mbmannino), so stay tuned!

Goal #4: One green smoothie / juice per day.

Yup! 365 green juices / smoothies. This is ambitious but I can’t wait. I am SO excited for this goal. I l-o-v-e starting my day with greens and I have a juicer that doesn’t get nearly as much love as it should.  I always feel my best / tend to make healthier choices throughout my day when I start my day with some sort of greens, so be on the lookout for lots of new green juice / smoothie recipes on here (and if you have any favorites, please feel free to share them in the comments!).

Goal #5: Strength training 3X / week.

I LOVE lifting weights. And heavy weights at that. I feel like I get such a different exercise high / sense of accomplishment when I incorporate strength training into my workout routine. Every time I lift weights, I feel strong, empowered and, quite honestly, bad ass. Throughout the second half of the year, I’ve been relatively inconsistent with maintaining a weight lifting routine, so my goal for 2018 is to add weights to my workout regime three times per week.

Goal #6: Try one new food / month.

I’d like to think that I’m pretty adventurous (plant-based) eater, but there is definitely room for new foods in my diet! Over the course of 2018, my goal is try one new food per month or 12 new foods this year (and who knows, maybe my arch nemesis mushroom will make its way into the list!). We’re starting this month with pomelo, simply because I’ve never tried it before and I saw it at my local grocery store. I’ll be sharing a blog post each month featuring that month’s new food, so be on the lookout for that!

Goal #7: Build stillness / meditation into my daily schedule.

Meditation has been a huge part of my health / well-being in 2017 and I want to take that to the next level in 2018. This last year, I would make time to meditate once a week at the very least, but was inconsistent with the day / time of day of when that happened. It was more reactionary than anything. This year, I want to actually carve out time in my schedule (even going as far as adding it to my calendar or planner) to make that happen once a day. Whether it’s first thing in the morning or just before I go to bed at night, my goal is to set aside 10 minutes (minimum) for space of silence and solitude to check in with myself / my body and find grounding.

Goal #8: Heal my skin from the inside out.

True life: I have acne. And not just “adult acne” with a zit or two on my face once in a while…no, no I have acne that rivals a teenager’s. Whenever I get a breakout, it lasts for months at a time and if it does go away, you can bet I have scars. If you know me well, you know that I joke about it a lot but it’s an enormous insecurity of mine. I sincerely can’t remember a time in my young adult / adult life when I didn’t have it. And if I may be vulnerable with you for a second: my acne makes me feel ugly, ashamed and embarrassed. Whenever I’m having a conversation with someone face-to-face, it’s hard for me to stay present because all I can think is, “They’re looking – no staring – at your acne. They must think your face is disgusting.”

As far as past treatment is concerned, I’ve tried everything under the sun: topical ointments, oral medications, antibacterial face wash, accutane three times…nothing worked.

As I’ve progressed throughout my health coaching program, I’ve learned a ton about inflammation in the body and how important the health of our gut is to the rest of our wellbeing. I try to live as naturally as possible, so I’m over the harsh chemicals and dangerous drugs of trying to heal my skin; I’m going to explore natural ways to heal my skin by experimenting with changes in my diet and supplements to make my gut happy and, in return, make my skin happy, too.

What are some things you’re working toward this year? Feel free to let me know in the comments! <3

Be Well,

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5 Ways to Stay Well This Holiday Season

5 Ways to Stay Well This Holiday Season

The holiday party season is officially underway in our household! As I have been updating our calendar this morning with everything we have going on in the coming weeks, I felt compelled to share some tips that I have found to be helpful over the years to help manage stress / maintain my wellness during the craziness of the holidays. I hope you find them to be helpful too! And don’t forget to share any of your favorite tips in the comments. 🙂

Tip #1: Stick to your regular routine.

While traveling to be with family, late nights out with old friends, kids being home from school for vacation and holiday house guests can throw a wrench in your normal day-to-day, try to stick to your usual routine as much as feasibly possible. I know how tempting it may be to skip your regular morning run or sweat sesh because you have house guests to entertain, but if you can still fit it into your schedule, do it. Your body and mind will thank you for your regularly scheduled burst of endorphins and let’s face it: the more we make exceptions for things that that take us out of our element, the more likely we are to stray from our routine entirely, making it challenging to get back into the swing of things come the new year.  Who wants to start the new year already stressed out? Sticking to your routine also helps you keep stress at bay because your body and mind know what to expect. Yes, things will come up that are out of the ordinary, but you’re more apt to take it in stride because the rest of the world around you is business as usual.

Tip #2: #TreatYoSelf (wisely).

The holidays are definitely a time to #treatyoself and you absolutely should! Yes, really! Moderation, not deprivation, is your friend here and the holidays are the time to indulge a little bit. If you totally deprive yourself of a treat that you enjoy or look forward to, you’re more likely to binge harder on it later.  So yes – treat yourself a little bit! And as for an easy way to keep your treats in check? I have found it helpful to think of what’s coming next after the party / gathering / reunion. For example, if you have your office holiday party Friday night and a spin class that you’ve already registered (ahem, *paid*) for early Saturday morning, keep your spin class in the back of your mind while you’re at the party. For example: “I’m going to stick to two glasses of wine with water in between so that I have a really kick-ass ride tomorrow”).  Another way to stay on track brings me to tip #3…

Tip #3: Eat before you party.

While this tip might bring you back to your college days (good times, amirite?), I’m not referring to making sure your belly is full before a night of drinking at your favorite frat house. The holiday season = all. the. food.  It’s almost overwhelming how much food is around us during the holidays, isn’t it? Plus, each gathering we go to can be more and more tempting to get side-tracked from our health goals…but the power is in your hands. If you’re going to a party and you know that you’re going to be tempted by the dessert table or your favorite savory appetizer, eat something healthy + substantial beforehand. This way, you’re not starving when you get to wherever you’re going and your hunger pangs won’t be a distraction. Plus, if you arrive with a satisfied belly but you lock eyes from across the room with your favorite ooey gooey baked brie appetizer on the buffet table, if you do indulge, you’re more inclined to have a smaller portion since you’ve already satisfied your appetite. Similarly, if you’re going to a party and you’re worried that there won’t be food that you can eat (hi, my fellow vegans), obviously grab something to eat beforehand but also offer to bring a dish! This is a great way to ensure that you have a go-to option at the party and the host / hostess won’t have to stress about making sure there’s something there that accommodates your dietary preferences. A win-win.

Tip #4: Stay hydrated.

The parties, the booze, the running around from house to house for family gatherings…it can be a lot on your body. While sipping a glass of champagne or wine at parties is definitely a given, don’t forget to drink your water, too. Your body will thank you! If you’re the kind of person who always has to have a drink of some sort in-hand at a party, alternate your glass of wine or beer with a water. Staying properly hydrated will also help keep cravings for seconds (or thirds) from the buffet table under control.

Tip #5: Take time for yourself.

Yes, I know the holiday season is about giving to others and yes, I know that amidst the hustle and bustle it can be challenging to put yourself first….but you are a priority, too. It’s so easy to neglect our own health and well-being for the sake of others, but I really want to encourage you to take care of yourself, in whatever way that may resonate most with you. Maybe it’s having someone else in your family cook dinner one night during a week when you or your family have a lot going on or treating yourself to a pedicure on your lunch break and reading some of that book that has been collecting dust on your nightstand. By taking time for yourself, you’ll be able to give more fully to those around you.

What are some other ways that you stay well during the holidays? I’d love to hear them! 🙂

Be Well,

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The Struggle…

The Struggle…

We’ve all had those days.

You know, the ones where we forget to set our coffee pot the night before and our usual cup of joe isn’t ready for us when we wake up in the morning; we close the locked door of our house to walk to our car only to realize that our keys are sitting on the kitchen table; we set our alarm before bed and sleep through morning yoga because we set the time to PM not AM; we spent our Sunday afternoon meal prepping for the week and forget our lunch at home on Monday. The struggle…is real.

And maybe there are bigger issues that you’re facing beyond locking yourself out of your house or sleeping through your 6AM yoga class. Are you working in a job that you hate? Are you in a relationship that makes you miserable? Do you feel like you just can’t catch a break and that bad things “just happen” to you and there’s nothing you can do about it? Would you believe me if I told you that these things aren’t “just happening” to you, and you’re the reason they’re in your life?

I don’t mean that to sound harsh, but I want you to realize that whatever unpleasant or less than ideal situation you’re in right now, you’re in total control of how things happen from here on out. Sounds too good to be true? It’s not. Right now, you’re giving the negative situations you’re in too much power and we’re going to talk about how to get that power back.

Let’s take work for example since it’s the place where we spend the majority of our days.

You’re in a job that you’re just not meshing with. Maybe it’s your very first job or a position that you took as a stepping stone to somewhere else. Day in and day out, it sucks. As soon as you wake up, you start your day dreading going to work. You prepare yourself on your commute for the stressful day you know “just know” that you’re going to have. As soon as you sit down at your desk, you’re already looking at the clock to figure out how many hours until you get to go home again. The work itself is grueling, tedious and mundane. While you’re at the office, you can’t shake the constant feeling of frustration and resentment.  Panic sets in and you feel trapped. You know you need find something else, something better, but just don’t know how. Before you passively scroll through job boards (where I’m willing to bet that everything that populates in your search is just like the job you’re in now), I want to challenge you to take a different approach:

Set aside 20-30 minutes at some point during your day and find a quiet place with minimal distractions, including your phone (you’ll survive 20 minutes without it — promise). Grab a pen and paper and sit down somewhere where you can write. First, think of the job you have right now (I know, I know…) and write down 3-5 things that you do like about it. Do you get to work from home? Do you have a really easy commute? Does the company promote great work-life balance? Whatever it may be, write those things down and in doing so, smile (yup, really!) and let yourself feel happy as you’re jotting those things down (I know, just go with it). Got ’em written down? Great. Now is the really fun part: on that same piece of paper, write “New Job” and underline it. Under that title, write down all of the things that you want in your new job. Write down the title of your position, the compensation you wish to receive — don’t be afraid to use your imagination here, the possibilities are endless. Once your list is complete, read through each bullet item and visualize that coming true. Imagine receiving your offer letter from your new company with your name, your title and your new compensation (bonus points if you take it a step further and write up an offer letter to keep somewhere where you’ll see it often). Did you list having an easy commute as one of your items? Envision yourself riding your bike or walking to the office with the traffic of cars or public transportation buzzing around you as you take in the sights and sounds. Truly visualize each item on your list one by one.

How are you feeling as your picturing these things? Excited? Happy? Energized? Good! You’re getting your power back.

What a lot of people don’t realize is that the situation they’re in right now is temporary and is based largely in part on how they’re feeling about that situation. When we’re constantly thinking or talking about how much we hate our job (or relationship or whatever), chances are, we feel pretty miserable in that moment as we talk or think about it. And if we’re feeling miserable all of the time, nothing new and good can come into our lives. Call it law of attraction, call it manifestation, call it whatever you want…but I promise you that the more you think of, dwell on and talk about negative things in your life, the more negative things you will experience. Is this already happening in your own life?

What if you did the opposite? How many problems will magically subside, how many doors will open, how many random amazing opportunities will come your way when you’re thinking of, talking about, fixating on all of the positive things in your life? You know that feeling you get when you have something fun or exciting to look forward to and the butterflies and excited nerves well up in your body to the point where you almost can stand it? That’s what we’re aiming for here…because that’s how your life should be — a series of things that make you constantly excited and that you look forward to.

Will this change with your job (or relationship or house or business opportunity) happen overnight? Of course not. But do you have the power to facilitate that change for yourself? You betcha. Go back to your list and think of all of the wonderful things you want for yourself. Or, maybe not even that you “want” for yourself, but that you “see” happening for yourself. Reflect on this list as much as you can until it almost becomes second nature and you begin to expect your “wish” list to be your reality. You can literally apply this exercise in any aspect of your life — the key is getting your mind out of the “right now” (the bad) and focusing on the “what will be” (the good and exciting).

Don’t let the temporary struggle keep you from creating the life you want! You got this. 🙂

Be Well,

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Self-Care Sunday: Make Time for Yourself

Self-Care Sunday: Make Time for Yourself

Make time for yourself.

No, really…do it. It’s so incredibly important to your health and well-being. I thrive off of structure and plans and to-do lists and that feeling of accomplishment when I can cross things off once they’re completed. Anyone else out there have to make their to-do lists on pen & paper? Isn’t it so much more gratifying to check things off that way? #NerdAlert

When I began my “funemployment” journey back in June of this year, I was instantly bored the first day; too much time on my hands and not enough to do.

So, I made time for myself.

  • I stayed committed to 6AM yoga classes every day at my amazing local studio Full Lotus Yoga and watched my practice grow deeper.
  • I focused on my half-marathon training and even though I suffered an injury, I watched my body heal itself and grow stronger.
  • I established a dedicated meditation practice and watched my mind become calm, my heart become softer and found the ability to seek gratitude and humility in the smallest of things.

These words aren’t meant to brag or be boastful…I’ve just been really aware lately of how tired, stressed and disconnected we all are, and that’s no way to live. So, this is just your friendly reminder to make time for yourself today, even if it’s only five minutes.

You know how to take care of yourself the best and when you do, you’ll be amazed by what your body does for you in return. 💛

Be Well,

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