The Phoenix Rising Collective

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It’s Love Yourself First! Friday: This Phoenix is Natasha

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Love Yourself First! Friday (LYFF) is part of The PRC’s Shed Light series collection. We invite women to tell their LYFF stories to inspire and empower others to also fiercely demonstrate self-love in action.  The questions are meant to  “shed light” on various ways our featured Phoenixes are making self-care and intentional living a priority.

This week’s Phoenix is Natasha:

How do you love yourself first? What does that mean to you?

I love myself first by taking care of my health first. I try to make sure that I really pay attention to what my body is telling me. If I find that I need to force myself to do something then I stop, take a breath and reevaluate what I am doing and why. At the same time when I notice that I’m avoiding a task I try to figure out the underlying reasons.

What actions demonstrate the self-care you provide to your mind, body, and soul? (Exercise, healthy eating, spiritual practice, etc)

  1. I try to exercise at least four times a week. Through CrossFit I have been able to push myself further than I ever imagined.
  2. I food prep on a regular basis, usually on Sundays. I make sure that I have enough to eat throughout the week (five small meals for five days) and set an alarm so that I won’t forget to eat.  When I’m engrossed in my work I have a tendency to forget to eat. As a vegetarian and a graduate student, I have found that food prepping allows me to save money and have options that I wouldn’t otherwise.
  3. I’m Buddhist and I try to chant everyday, it is definitely a work in progress.
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LYFF Feature, Natasha’s Weekly Food Prep

Is there an obstacle or challenge you’ve overcome that led to a deeper love for who you are?

When I was a teenager I was raped. For a long time I hated myself; I had a difficult time feeling that I was worthy of love or even loving myself. I have been working through this for the past 12 years; now I am able to see the good inside of me. Actually, it’s deeper than that: I have been able to see my strengths, weaknesses and potential. I have been able to embrace my flaws, change my self-talk, and learn to be kind to myself.

I am still on this journey of self-love and still get frustrated with myself (especially as I am writing my dissertation) but I am learning that I am human.

What have you learned from self-love?

Self love has shown me how strong and beautiful I am. Regardless of my weight, hair, skin, eyelash length, or waist size, I am phenomenal. I am not a doormat. I am not one dimensional. I am a full person. That sounds kind of hilarious, but seriously in this society sometimes it’s difficult to recognize your full humanity.

 

Thank you, Natasha, for having the courage to tell your self-love story. You are a brave Phoenix rising!


 

Share your self-love story! Send an email HERE. Put “My LYFF Story” in the subject line, and you’ll be contacted by the Phoenix Team with details on how to participate.

Love Yourself First! Friday is a self-love series created by The Phoenix Rising Collective. Phenomenal women who fiercely demonstrate self-love in action in order to build and sustain healthy, positive self esteem share their stories‬.  Be sure to read some of our other inspiring stories.

Join the Collective on Facebook and Instagram.


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The Golden Rules of Eating Holistically

Eating Holistically[The Phoenix Rising Collective]

Doesn’t it sometimes feel like eating healthy is a great mystery? And if you add eating holistically into your quest, the journey can seem even more mysterious and intimidating.

Many don’t know where to start outside of upping their spinach or kale in-take when it comes to pursuing more balanced nutrition.

Taking a holistic approach to eating healthier is simple. It just requires gaining awareness about a few golden rules to get you on your way to Holistic Goddess status.

Eat as close to whole foods as possible

Eating holistically in essence means taking your nutrition to a deeper but also more basic level at the same time. When the choice is available opt to eat whole foods.

Meaning, instead of canned or frozen fruits and vegetables, get them straight from the produce section. Or instead of frozen Lean Cuisine lasagna, make a simple tomato and mozzarella whole wheat pasta dinner.

Herbs Heal

Herbs serve as the foundation for eating holistically. To truly reap the benefits of adding herbs into your holistic eating endeavors, there are three categories of herbs to keep stocked in your kitchen.

Adaptogen herbs strengthen your immune system.

Common adaptogens to have on hand include:

  • Ginger Root
  • Maca Root (enhances physical performance)
  • Maitake Mushrooms

Anti-Inflammatory herbs balance out your digestive system.

Common anti-inflammatory herbs to have on hand include:

  • Alfalfa (helps to regulate estrogen levels in women)
  • Cumin
  • Echinacea

Anti-Bacterial herbs are used in response to a health issue or to prevent them; colds, viruses and allergies, for example.

Common anti-bacterial herbs to have on hand include:

  • Cayenne pepper
  • Eucalyptus (a strong cold and flu fighter)
  • Lemon grass

You can add these herbs into your diet in a number of ways from adding them to your food, to your tea or organic fair trade coffee or water, to taking them in pill form as a supplement.

Eat Throughout The Day

Eating throughout the day is necessary because it helps you to burn calories faster and boosts your metabolism.

A quick eating rule is this:

Eat five small meals a day or three meals and two fruit and vegetable smoothies along with 2-3 glasses of detox water. Ideal detox water combinations include lemons and limes, raw honey and ginger or cucumbers and curry.

To truly take your eating to a holistic level, end your day with a cup of herbal green tea and lemon juice.

Eat Meats That Were Fed A Vegetarian Diet

The phrase, “We are what we eat” couldn’t be more true than it is today. Modern diets now consist of eating meats that are filled with hormones and antibiotics. And if you are eating meats that have been fed processed foods that contain harmful chemicals, then I am sure you can only imagine the unhealthy strain that doing so puts on your body.

However, as consumers we do have choices available to us when it comes to the meats we eat. When shopping buy meats that have the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) seal of “Vegetarian Fed” or “Grass Fed” on the packaging.

Eating meats that meet this standard is a chief golden rule of eating holistically, because you are eating food that is as close to whole foods as possible. You are eliminating excess toxins from your diet this way, which leads to the next golden rule.

Eat Certified Organic Fruits and Vegetables

The same logic with meats applies to fruits and vegetables as well when eating holistically. When you eat organic fruits and vegetables you are giving your body the opportunity to be nourished at the highest level for optimal health.

To be considered USDA certified organic, fruits and vegetables must contain no pesticides or synthetic fertilizers and have not been exposed to sewage.

They are easy to spot because they will have the 100% USDA Organic sticker on them.

To discover the highest concentration of 100% certified organic fruits and vegetables, visit your area’s Farmers Market. Most Farmers Markets carry a much higher percentage of certified organic produce versus most major grocery stores, where only about 4% of their produce is certified organic.

Ditch The Guilt

This will sound counter intuitive to eating holistically because doing so requires a higher level of self-awareness, but I am going to go ahead and say it, ditch the guilt.

Meaning,

  • It doesn’t matter if you get your groceries from Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s or the corner bodega.
  • If you didn’t buy grass fed ground chuck this week, don’t sweat it.
  • Skip your green smoothie if the idea of eating spinach one more time this week bores you to tears.

Getting healthier and eating holistically can feel like a race towards wellness where bragging rights and self-image are the ultimate wins. However, going that route can lead you to a rabbit hole of choices that may result in guilt when you do have to deviate from your perfect holistic plan.

Ditching guilt is by far one of the most important golden rules of eating holistically for long-term benefits of living healthy.

The golden rules to eating holistically do require some mindful application and commitment, but doing so will allow you to strengthen the foundation of your health.

During your journey keep in mind the ultimate benefits of eating holistically: less stress, better sleep, glowing skin and a balanced digestive system, to name a few.

Once you get into the rhythm of eating holistically your body, mind and spirit will experience newfound radiance, and that is simply golden.

 


About the Contributor

CJChildressCoachCJ Childress is a holistic health coach, indie author and owner of a healthy meal delivery service in Houston, Texas. She began her journey with healthy living as a child by drinking green smoothies and eating organic peanut butter. But after watching her young mother die in 2012 from a rare autoimmune disease she became more convinced than ever that food really is medicine. She works with women to break their addiction to dangerous foods and heal their relationship with their bodies through a fun and focused 60-day transformational program.

Join the Collective on Facebook and Instagram.

 


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It’s Love Yourself First! Friday: This Phoenix is Denise

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Love Yourself First! Friday (LYFF) is part of The PRC’s  Shed Light series collection. We invite women to tell their LYFF stories to inspire and empower others to also fiercely demonstrate self-love in action.  The questions are meant to  “shed light” on various ways our featured Phoenixes are making self-care and intentional living a priority.

This week’s Phoenix is Denise:

How do you love yourself first? What does that mean to you?

Loving yourself is always remembering to be true – true to your mind, body and spirit. In learning to love myself I’ve learned how to love all of me, all the time.

I am learning to listen to myself. I am such a giver that sometimes I give until I have no energy left. However, not the new and improved me; I’ve learned to stop and think about how it will affect me. As I’ve gotten older, I realize how we’re quick to question others, but won’t question ourselves. In learning to love yourself first, you have to be willing to question yourself and come up with solutions.

Putting yourself first isn’t always the easiest feat but it’s a must.

I love to listen to music; it’s my biggest stress reliever. I can go for hours listening to Jill Scott, The Foreign Exchange, Dwele and a host of other Neo Soul-type artists.

I also love being by water. (SN: I cannot swim, and I don’t know if I want to learn!) Since we have no “real” beaches in Cleveland, I settle for going to the lake and sitting for hours just listening to the water. I actually do some of my best self-reflecting there.

I love to read and travel as well.

What actions demonstrate the self-care you provide to your mind, body, and soul? (Exercise, healthy eating, spiritual practice, etc)

In October 2014 I began my fitness journey. The experience of going out of my comfort zone really opened my eyes to “how to be a better me”. I never had a true purpose for why I wanted to change; I just knew I had to. I looked at my fitness journey just as that, a journey. I was totally clueless when I began losing weight so I started following an Instagram account: fbffitness. After weeks and weeks of debating, I joined her 8-week weight loss challenge. The challenge consisted of being on a virtual team where you were to complete certain daily tasks and receive points. In the end, you had the opportunity to win money! Well, I didn’t win but I made it to the top five out of 100+ contestants.

I never really celebrated that accomplishment until recently. In my mind, it wasn’t that big of a deal. Wrong! It was huge. After I finished the challenge, I began personal training at a local gym for a few months. With personal training and a new diet I was on a roll…so I thought. I was still unhappy. I had to learn that this lifestyle change is all mental. I realized I can make all the physical changes in the world, but until I changed my mental outlook I would still be exactly the same.

I am happy to say that I am 40+lbs down forever!

Women Weight Loss Journey[The Phoenix Rising Collective]

LYFF Feature, Denise, sharing her 40+ lbs weight loss

Is there an obstacle or challenge you’ve overcome that has led to a deeper love for who you are?

Embracing change is a huge challenge for me. I’m now allowing myself to try new activities, new foods and new adventures. Being patient with myself is also an obstacle. My friends would say I am one of the most patient people you would ever meet, and I am…with others. In my own life I want things to be quick, fast and in a hurry. Learning to be more patient with myself has allowed me to relax and understand that things will happen when God says so.

What have you learned from self-love?

I have learned from self-love that no one will love you like YOU! Self-love allows you to be your own advocate. Self-love allows you to be a better woman, wife, mother, sister, daughter, and friend. Self-love has taught me to be happy with all my flaws.

 

Thank you, Denise, for sharing your self-love story! You are truly a Phoenix rising. Congratulations on such a major lifestyle change. It most certainly is a big deal!

Were you inspired by Denise’s story? Share your thoughts in the comments.


Want to share your self-love story?

Send an email HERE. Put “My LYFF Story” in the subject line, and you’ll be contacted by the Phoenix Team with details on how to participate.

Love Yourself First! Friday is a series created by The Phoenix Rising Collective. Phenomenal women who fiercely demonstrate self-love in action in order to build and sustain healthy, positive self esteem share their stories‬.  Be sure to read some of our other inspiring features.

Join the Collective on Facebook and Instagram.


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5 Easy Ways To Love Your Body More in 2016

Body Acceptance [The Phoenix Rising Collective]

 

I don’t know about you, ladies, but I am so thrilled that the New Year is here. Right now is the time that our dreams feel fresh. There’s magic flowing from our pens to our journals. We get our vision board party on, and we make promises to ourselves to start manifesting every day miracles.

Many of us use the beginning of the year to put a tremendous focus on our careers, love life, or other major projects but all too often there is one area of our essence that we neglect.

It’s our bodies.

We make plans to lose weight or go vegan but our actions don’t mount up as the year begins to unfold. Doing so starts to feel too overwhelming all too quickly and before we know it, we are putting our bodies on the back burner.

Excuses pop up. Pain from our past shows up, and guilt about other commitments spring up.

This happens to many of us year after year after year.

Fortunately, we are still very early into 2016 and you can definitely start some new self-love practices right now where your body takes top priority.

These five ideas are easy and not intimidating. Taking care of your body should never be too taxing of an effort when seeking long-term change.

Remember to keep things manageable and uplifting.

1. Hold onto that one healthy habit you already have no matter what.

What do you do now that makes your body feel very loved?

For me it’s cooking healthy meals most days of the week.

Yes, I am going to go ahead and say it: “We are what we eat.”

I want my body to be full of gorgeous foods and nutrients that continuously restore my health.

I put this into practice by cooking my own meals despite the fact that I currently live with my dad who is anti green juice and organic anything and everything. My dad is an award-winning grill master who cooks often, but I stay true to the promise I’ve made to my body and always pass on his offer of pork ribs for dinner.

For you, it may be that you’ve been going to a yoga class once a month, so in 2016 why not go once a week. Even if money is an issue (because honestly, yoga can be quite expensive) find a free class in your city. Meetup.com and yelp.com are excellent resources for finding free classes in most major cities.

Or maybe you desire to try Meatless Mondays and have done it a few times in the past. This year, right now, next Monday is the perfect time to start your Meatless Monday adventure and stick to it.

Zone in on your favorite body-loving practice and remain faithful to it this year.

2. Let go of the negative self-talk about your body

As a health coach, almost without fail, when I work with women, their issue is not being able to control their cravings just for the sake of it. It’s often something deeper that’s holding them back.

In most cases, negative self-talk is at the center of their struggle with self-love and self-acceptance. Granted, speaking so negatively to yourself about your body is still not the root of the issue, it’s just the by-product of pain you may have experienced in your life.

In 2016, let that soul damaging practice go. Take your thoughts to a rewarding place. Reflect on how badass you are at running, teaching, singing, cooking, making love, being a girlboss. If it makes your self-love meter rise, channel that every time nasty self-talk wants to take over your thoughts.

3. Join a spirited and fun health & wellness group online

Community is everything. It reminds you that you are not alone in your daily challenges with loving your body unconditionally. Facebook is probably your best bet for finding a rockin’ group of soul sisters that want to get fit, happy, and more gorgeous, just like you.

When you do find a group, dive in. Don’t be shy. Share your journey. Ask for feedback and suggestions on making healthy body loving changes.

It will feed your body and soul well this year.

4. Always ask “Does my body need this?” when making daily food choices

Mindfulness can be your most reliable game changer when you desire to love your body more. Food that does your body no good will always be there to tempt you. However, you don’t have to let dining anxiety take over.

Quickly ask yourself if what’s in front of you is something your body needs in order to feel more gorgeous. If leftover birthday cake is in the fridge, but an apple and almond butter are also in the fridge, choose the latter. Ask and answer out loud, too. Hearing yourself speak about your options will deepen your mindfulness. Over time, you won’t have the need to ask as often.

5. Re-shape your vocabulary about your body

Banish the word diet and replace it with healthy.

Nix overweight or skinny and say natural beauty.

Forget about ugly and loser and think, authentic.

This little practice alone can probably make the biggest impact on your body love battle in 2016. It’s simple and actionable.

Don’t give power to the words that harm how you love and feel about your body. Positive words are empowering. They will propel you in the right direction. Negative words lead to stagnation and self-sabotage that rob you of beautiful and healthy body-loving journeys.

Use this year to change up your body love story. You only have one so you might as well love it unconditionally with balanced nutrition, healthy thoughts, and motivating self-care practices.

2016 is your year to get more gorgeous and love your body from the inside out.


About the Contributing Writer:

CJChildressCoachCJ Childress is a holistic health coach, indie author and owner of a healthy meal delivery service in Houston, Texas. She began her journey with healthy living as a child by drinking green smoothies and eating organic peanut butter. But after watching her young mother die in 2012 from a rare autoimmune disease she became more convinced than ever that food really is medicine. She works with women to break their addiction to dangerous foods and heal their relationship with their bodies through a fun and focused 60-day transformational program. You can discover more and get your FREE 30-day meal plan by visiting her website HERE.  Connect with CJ on Instagram, too.

 

Join the Collective on Facebook and Instagram for more inspiration and to stay current on upcoming events.


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Stop Fitness Journey Comparisons: Be Patient!

fitness journey comparisons[the phoenix rising collective]

Your fitness journey is your journey and looks completely different than your sister/mother/best friend/neighbor.

In my professional life I am in the middle of an executive leadership training. With the help of my mentor, we have decided I need to work on patience. Not just how to have it, but the awareness of when it is necessary. So many times in life we want something and we want it now, but in reality that rarely happens. In contrast, there are times when patience is not necessary; we can work hard to get where we want and quickly get there.

I am sharing this lesson this month because it is relevant to health and fitness: There are times when we need to be patient with ourselves but there are also times when we should push ourselves to get to the next level more quickly.

When you start a new fitness program you must have patience; you may have been in the best shape of your life at 20 years old but today is a different journey, a different and new you. It will take a few weeks to build endurance to get back to your higher level, but know that you can get there. Your fitness journey is your journey and looks completely different than your sister/mother/best friend/neighbor.

However, when you’re in the middle of your training, push yourself, do that extra push up or hold that plank for an extra five seconds. This would be a place in fitness where no patience is required. Go for it! Fitness isn’t always comfortable, but it is effective.

I’ve added a video that shows a few exercises to strengthen your arms and legs. Remember to keep your abs engaged in all exercises (in towards your belly button like you are bracing yourself for a punch). When you do the leg workout, stay low with your knees bent. See how many of each exercise you can complete in twenty seconds; recount every other week and watch your progress!

 

One more quick fitness analogy about goals and patience: In my super-hot and super-awesome yoga class, the instructor had the class doing a very long balance sequence. My leg was burning by the end and my balance looked like I had just taken three shots of tequila. I wasn’t the only person in class struggling during this very hot and very hard sequence. She reminded the class that we needed to focus on something in front of us – not too far in the distance – that was still. Hmm, yes! Was this particular yogi in my executive leadership training call? This is life: Stay focused on a fixed target in your near future that is attainable, but not too far that you lose balance. When your goal seems too difficult and your life is a little wobbly, recommit your gaze to that fixed target. Find your inner strength and keep going. As the instructor also pointed out, if you lose balance and fall a little, readjust. That is OK. That is life. Most people know that adding physical exercise to their daily routine is good for the heart and body, but it is also a mental exercise. When you’re out for a jog, getting down on some Zumba, or listening to the hardest music set you have while completing your bench press set for the day, you are exercising your body AND mind.

I hope each and every one of you finds patience and the awareness of when to have it. Stay strong and on your fixed target. Make the new season about your health and personal fitness goals. Exercise your body and your mind.

In fitness, health and happiness,

Megan


 

About the Contributing Writer:

image9Megan Weidner is a fitness coach and environmentalist in the Akron/Canton, Ohio area. She manages a global sustainability and corporate responsibility program for a large multinational company; her areas include environmental compliance, social equity, community engagement and health and wellness. Megan is also devoted to Rock. It. Fitness., her fitness and natural skincare business. She is committed to making the world a better, more environmentally friendly and healthier place through motivation and education. She is certified through AFAA and Tabata Bootcamp.  She has a B.S. in Soil, Environmental, and Atmospheric Science (University of Missouri), a Graduate Certificate in Environmental Management and Policy (University of Denver) and an M.P.A (University of Missouri).  She lives in Green, Ohio with her husband and three kids. Read her latest posts.


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Join Us! The Fullness of Me Workshop – Spirit Affirming Self-Care Practices for Women Ready to be Self-Love in Action

Hey, Phoenixes! If you’re in Columbus, OH or surrounding areas join us Saturday, August 22, 2015, 1pm – 4pm at Gather.  Before the busyness of the fall season begins, we are retreating in a sacred space with fellow Phoenixes who have also made a commitment to practicing healthy self-care regimens. This is your chance to connect with yourself and create authentic connections with others.

The Fullness of Me: Spirit-Affirming Self-Care Practices for Women Ready to be Self-Love in Action is an activity-driven workshop that provides simple, soulful daily self-care practices and resources that support you in loving the life you lead. Resources include The Phoenix Rising Collective’s The Fullness of Me: Intentional Living Guide.

Get more details HERE, and register now! Make yourself a priority. And by all means, invite a friend!

FullnessWorkshop[EBlast]PRC

 


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SELF-LOVE TIP OF THE DAY: Find Happiness that Comes from Within

HappinessAffirmation[thephoenixrisingcollective]

AFFIRMATION: I delight in the happiness that comes from within.

It seems simple but is often hard to do because we’re sidetracked by the busyness of our daily lives. However, the happiness that we are seeking and that is sustainable comes from what our ancient African ancestors referred to as MAAT or balance which is achieved through the practice of things that bring harmony and personal growth. Examples would be: Meditation. Prayer. Solitude. Kindness. Forgiveness. Gratitude. Reciprocity. Truth.

I was going through a folder and came across a few clippings that I’d taken from magazines I love; they were quotes and affirmations I wanted to remember (or probably post to my inspiration board). It was the quote below that sparked the idea for the Self-Love Tip:

“Happiness does not depend on external factors; work to cultivate the kind of happiness that comes from within: Volunteer your time to help those less fortunate, practice forgiveness to calm your spirit, limit time spent on the Internet, and embrace an attitude of gratitude.” -Andrew Weil, MD, from the book Spontaneous Happiness.

Identify what will center your life, then find time to actively and consistently do those things. Period. Sure, some practices will be challenging and uncomfortable to do; however, there is growth in being uncomfortable. Forgiveness, for example, (of yourself or otherwise) can take time depending on the circumstances, but the end result is you letting go of the past to make room for your life to grow (see the Forgiveness Diet exercise as a resource). So, do the awesome work that is required to create the  happiness that can only manifest from within.

Share in the comment section below how you practice cultivating happiness.

 


 

Ayanna_Prof_Headshot[Mktg_Phoenix2]Ayanna Jordan is founder and self-esteem education consultant of The Phoenix Rising Collective; she is also the editor-in-chief for Phoenix Shine, The PRC’s blog and spirit-affirming online community. She has always had a passion for inspiring others through writing, coaching, and teaching. Her diverse career experiences have positively shaped her overall perspective on what it truly means to be a change agent: “I believe a change agent is someone who is in alignment with what she loves to do, and then connects, utilizes, and shares that love to make a difference and transform lives.” Learn more about Ayanna HERE.