Leslie Ann Ellingburg Mental Health Uncategorized

Queen Lizzo Soulmate…

by Leslie Ann Ellingburg

As Queen Lizzo sings:

‘Cause I’m my own soulmate (Yeah, yeah)

I know how to love me (Love me)

I know that I’m always gonna hold me down

Yeah, I’m my own soulmate (Yeah, yeah)

No, I’m never lonely (Lonely)

I know I’m a queen but I don’t need no crown

Look up in the mirror like damn she the one

She is on to something here, we are our own soulmates and to be complete we don’t need another person. It’s a hard truth to accept and fully lean into when our society values relationships. It makes sense. If we look at relationships through a sociological and anthropological lens, they serve a function. Relationships build societies, culture, create safety and protection, and serve a purpose of reproduction. Humans are social beings and part of that socialness is that of building relationships–especially those who we want to “settle down” with. 

washroom interior with sink and faucet on cabinet near mirror
Photo by Max Vakhtbovych on

If you’ve been in any form of couples counseling or have heard anything about healthy relationships, it’s important to be your own person and to love yourself. To know who you are outside of your relationship. It kind of reminds me of the infamous RuPaul quote, “If you can’t love yourself how the hell you going to love anyone else?”. There is so much truth and power in her outro. For years I watched Drag Race and was like that’s such a nice sentiment. But it wasn’t until I turned thirty, started to connect to myself, and eventually leaving my marriage, did I learn how to truly love myself. I thought I was loving myself but I wasn’t. 

I thought loving myself was taking care of others–my clients, my family, my husband. Serving them and putting their needs and wants before my own. I was raised with the adage that it’s kind to serve others and to put your husband first. 

I thought loving myself was making myself small and not taking up space. To not be a pain or burden to those around me. When I was in the midst of a gastro flare up I would do all I could to take care of it myself and not ask for help. Even if I was writhing on the floor puking my guts out. I took care of my recovery and even when my eating disorder voice wanted me to relapse and that area was looking very gray, I just kept it all to myself. Not to worry others or make their situations or stress seem less. 

I thought loving myself was making myself presentable for others. Dressing and adorning myself in a way they wanted me to appear. Covering myself and not coloring my hair or doing things that I always wanted. But still treating myself to spa days, manis and pedis, and treating myself to clothes. 

woman holding card while operating silver laptop
Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on

But this was pseudo self love. It didn’t do anything for me. Self love is loving who you are–the good, the bad, the alright, the imperfections, the dimples, pimples, your super loud obnoxious gut laugh, and the fact that you crave attention and affection. 

I started putting myself first and doing little things that made me happy–like buying flowers. I got tired of waiting around for someone to buy me flowers. So I started buying them because I LOVE them and they make me smile. Every Sunday after my tennis lessons–another thing I started to do for myself, I bought flowers and made flower arrangements. 

I dyed my hair blue. Something I always wanted to do, but felt like I couldn’t.  I also began getting my hair done more often because it made me feel pretty and confident and I’ve been through hell and I deserve it. I started wearing crop tops and while I always ended up wearing what I wanted, I truly started living up to the fashionista I always wanted to be. 

I stood up for myself. That was the biggest self love act of all. 

Leslie Ann Ellingburg is a trauma informed movement educator based out of Tennessee. She is a certified exercise physiologist through the American College Sports Medicine (ACSM), dance teacher, a certified Yoga Instructor with over 800 hours of teaching, holds Levels 1 & 2 of the Yoga 4 Eating Disorders Mentorship Program, recently completed her trauma informed training through Yoga 4 Trauma, and is beginning to pursue her master’s degree in Public Health/Community Health. Leslie’s passion is that of recovery (eating disorder, exercise addiction, other addictions) and helping individuals reconnect to their bodies in a positive, affirming, and fun way. Her philosophy is based on the Sanskrit words, “shanti” (peace) and “leela” (play)-finding inner peace through the play and practice of Yoga. When she isn’t moving on or off her mat you can find her playing with her furbaby Winston (#dogiwinston), curating the perfect playlist, writing, practicing her photography skills, and making the best coffee a home barista can. 

Lisa Mildon Physical Health Uncategorized

Go Red For Your Health

by Lisa Mildon

Did you know February is American Heart Month? No, it’s not because of Valentine’s Day this month. In 1963, President Lyndon B. Johnson designated February as American Heart Month to raise awareness of cardiovascular disease. For women, this month is even more significant. Because women’s symptoms of heart issues often get overlooked, in 2004, the American Heart Association began an initiative to raise awareness for women’s heart health with their Go Red for Women campaign.

The Go Red campaign is actually an acronym to help mindfulness with heart disease and women. 

G: Get your numbers.

This reminds you to talk to your doctor about important counts such as blood pressure and cholesterol.

O: Own your lifestyle.

A reminder to live a healthier lifestyle by maintaining a healthy weight, keeping active, and eating healthy.

R: Realize your risk.

A reminder that heart disease is prevalent in women. Keep informed and mindful of risks.

E: Educate your family.

Teach your family about healthy life choices, as mentioned above.

D: Don’t be silent.

Spread the word about heart disease in women to every woman you know. Let them know that this is a woman’s #1 killer.

Pixabay/Gordon Johnson

Despite 1 in every 5 women die from heart disease in the United States, women’s symptoms of heart issues, including heart attacks, are often overlooked, even by doctors. This is because women and men can have vastly different symptoms when experiencing a heart attack. Below can be signs and symptoms of a heart attack in women:

  1. Pressure, squeezing, or fullness in the center of your chest. It can last a few minutes or ebbs and flows.
  2. Pain in one or both arms, back, neck, jaw, or stomach.
  3. Shortness of breath that can be accompanied with or without chest pain\discomfort.
  4. Cold sweats, lightheadedness, or nausea.

However, chest pain or discomfort is the most common sign. But women more frequently experience other symptoms as well.

If you have any of these symptoms, call 911 and get to an ER immediately.

If you’d like more information or would like to get involved in the Go Red for Women campaign, visit The American Heart Association website for more details.

Amanda Sterczyk Physical Health

The Heart of the Matter: Developing a Heart Condition During a Global Pandemic

by Amanda Sterczyk, MA, CPT


It happened late on a Monday night. After sleeping very soundly for an hour, I woke up and could not fall back asleep. It seemed to be my latest disordered sleep pattern. And, just like other nights when sleep eludes me, I was roaming the house. As is often the case, that night’s roaming found me in the kitchen, engaging in poor choices with a late-night ice cream snack. 

As I was standing at the sink, I gasped suddenly. It felt like my heart had been dropped into a very deep tunnel, and it was struggling to stay connected to my body. This struggle caused it to begin racing; I felt like I’d just run a 100-metre sprint, all while standing still. 

I headed to the couch, laid down, and tried to get my body under control, thinking if I fell asleep, I might feel better. I had a fairly strong inkling as to what was going on, as well as what I needed to do to resolve my racing heart, but for the moment, I wanted to stay put. 

After 30 minutes or so, I gave up and went upstairs to try lying in bed. I ran into my teenage daughter in the hall, and filled her in on the situation. She suggested I check my heart rate on my Apple Watch. It was registering a heart rate of 110 beats per minute—normal resting heart rate is 60 to 80 beats per minute. As I suspected, my heart wasn’t working properly. It was around this time (duh!) that I remembered my watch also had an ECG (electrocardiogram) app. Thirty seconds later, and my husband, who had since woken up, was getting dressed. I was in atrial fibrillation (afib) and I needed to go to the hospital. I knew that’s what it was earlier, when I was standing in our darkened kitchen, but denial is not just a river in Egypt.

By 12:15 am, my husband was dropping me off at our local hospital—COVID-19 restrictions meant it was a solo visit for me—and I promised to text him with updates. When it comes to heart issues, they don’t mess around, and I was in a bed in emergent care, hooked up to a heart-rate monitor in half an hour. Before I got dressed and headed home the next morning, I spent a total of seven hours with my heart racing, not being able to return to a normal rhythm. It would take some aggressive interventions to reset my heart, and I’ll tell you how that unfolded. First, though, let’s back up a bit and I’ll explain why I wasn’t surprised about the afib diagnosis.

What is afib? Atrial fibrillation, or afib, is an irregular, chaotic heart beat, where the upper chambers of the heart—the atria—beat out of rhythm with the lower chambers—the ventricles. Left untreated, afib can lead to strokes, heart failure, and other heart-related complications. I know all about afib, because we have a family history of it, which increases your risk of developing afib by 40%. 

About four years ago, I had landed in the same hospital, with symptoms of a potential heart attack. Thankfully, it wasn’t, but the subsequent follow-up at the Ottawa Heart Institute discovered an atrial flutter, which is often a precursor to atrial fibrillation. The cardiologist indicated that, as long as a flutter resolved itself within a minute or two, there was no reason to seek medical attention. If it lasted longer, he advised me to go to the emergency department immediately.

For the next four years, I only noticed my fluttering heart from time to time. Until I started noticing it every single day. It coincided, unsurprisingly, with the unfolding of the global pandemic now known as COVID-19. In addition to palpitations, shortness of breath, weakness, and fatigue, anxiety is a symptom of atrial flutter and fibrillation. I can unequivocally state that I am not the only person that was experiencing anxiety as a result of the spread of COVID and the ensuing lockdown measures. When lockdown began, doctors’ offices were closed. I thought about calling my doctor, after a month of shortness of breath, constant fluttering, and heightened anxiety, but I didn’t. Since the office was closed, the most I could hope for was an appointment over the phone. I knew they’d be unlikely to prescribe any medication in this situation—instead advising me to go to the hospital—but it didn’t feel urgent enough to use up vital health-care resources during a pandemic. I chalked up my symptoms to the current state of affairs, and figured my heart would sort itself out in due time.

But it didn’t, and I now found myself lying in the hospital, heart racing, hooked up to multiple machines, awaiting my blood test results and a visit from the ER doctor. The treatment for afib involves cardioversion, wherein your irregular heart beat is converted to a regular rhythm, either with chemical or electric means. As you can imagine, the chemical—i.e., medication—option is the preferred first avenue, as it’s less harsh than delivering an electrical shock to your body. And that’s what the doctor suggested, though he did advise me that the medications only work for 50% of people. 

Two hours later, we had discovered that I wasn’t one of the lucky half who respond to the meds. So, the prep began for an electric cardioversion. Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve seen how COVID has changed everything, including hospital protocols. For a procedure like electric cardioversion, that meant transferring me to an enclosed room and waiting for all members of the medical team to don appropriate PPE (personal protective equipment).

The first thing I felt when I woke up after the procedure was a normal heart beat. Although I was wiped out—from a night of no sleep in the hospital, an hours’-long racing heart, and the after-effects of being shocked—I was also relieved and happy that my ordeal would soon be over. The doctor explained to me that he didn’t feel I needed anticoagulants (to prevent a possible stroke), because I didn’t have any of the standard risk factors for afib. 

In the days following my hospital visit, I spent time researching atrial fibrillation and talking to my father, who shares the same diagnosis. Other than family history, the only other risk factors I had were stress and poor sleep. Well, I’ll be. Stress and poor sleep during a global pandemic. Again, I can say that, without a doubt, I wasn’t the only person experiencing stress and poor sleep.

But I had to address it, if I was going to prevent a relapse and another hospital visit. The job was mine, and only mine. I’m working on it every day, putting myself first, and awaiting a follow-up appointment with a cardiologist. I feel better because I know I have the power to keep myself healthy, not to mention the motivation. And I’ve made a pact with myself to listen to my body and act on what it’s telling me. 

As women, we tend to put our needs behind others, often to the detriment of our health. We all need to take charge of our own health and well-being, here are some suggestions that I’m planning to implement in my own life. I hope this list will help you too.

1. Make the call.

Don’t put your own health on the back burner. If something feels off, call your health-care provider and book an appointment. 

2. Take charge of your body.

Address the little things before they become big things. I knew at the beginning of lockdown that something wasn’t right with my heart, but I hoped it would go away on its own.

3. Track your symptoms.

Telling a doctor you feel “off” doesn’t really help them help you. Be specific, descriptive, and methodical. If you can share with them a timeline of symptoms, they’ll have a better understanding of the severity and progression of your condition. 

4. Be your own advocate.

You know your body better than anyone else, so be firm if someone tells you, “it’s nothing, I’m sure.”


About the author: Amanda Sterczyk is an independent author, certified personal trainer, and fitness advocate based in Ottawa, Canada. She has researched, written, and published six books, including two fitness self-help guides and two fall prevention exercise guides. You can find all her books on Amazon:

Cassandra McCoy Physical Health

5 Exercises You Can Begin The First Few Weeks Postpartum

by Cassandra McCoy MAT, ATC, LAT

*As always, consult your medical provider before beginning any exercises.

During our first month postpartum,  a lot of our attention goes to our newborn baby(ies). Sometimes during this period, our personal health and self care can fall by the wayside. Gentle movements can help you heal postpartum, as well, as improve your mood and so much more. Movement early postpartum doesn’t have to be fancy and by incorporating simple movements throughout your day, you have a better chance of actually getting the movement in. Here are 5 basic exercises anyone can do postpartum and beyond!

Breath Work

Purpose of this exericse: to reeducate the body on optimal breathing mechanics, improve healing, manage intra abdominal pressure, regulate tension, stress and more!

How to do the exercise:

Reconnecting with your breath is key. That is why it is the second step in my P. B. I. T. system that we cover in The Fundamentals of Returning to Exercise After Baby. It helps to reconnect your mind and body and jumpstart the healing process. Start with a basic breathing exercise on your back. Bending your knees with your feet on the floor. As you inhale, focus on expanding through your core and as you exhale, focus on lifting and sending that air up and out through your mouth.

Pelvic Tilts

Purpose of this exercise: to begin bringing movement back into the hips and lumbar spine via a controlled movement, reconnecting with the body and breath.

How to do this exercise:

 This exercise is done on your back with both knees bent, heels slid up towards your bum. Exhale, engage your lower abdominals, maybe with a slight cough to start, and then tuck your bum under like you are a dog trying to hide your tail. Then relax back to start. Important note: Don’t use only your bum muscles, here try to tuck your tail trying to use your lower abdominals as well. This will take time and brain work so don’t get frustrated and stick with it. 

Windshield Wipers:

Purpose of this exercise: To mobilize your lumbar and mid spine and relieve tension and pressure.

How to do this exercise:

This is a great relaxing stretch, think of it as a wave. Laying on your back, feet on the floor, bring your feet and legs together with your arms out like a T to the side. As you inhale, slowly let your knee fall towards the right while keeping your left hip on the ground. Exhale, slowly lift your legs back to start. Now inhale your knees to the left and exhale them back to center. This might not be a very big movement right now and that is ok. Move slowly and try to focus on the middle back and hips feeling a nice gentle release and you moving side to side.

Shoulder Rotations:

Purpose of this exercise: To get the shoulders moving and help improve your posture during this time of increased sitting.

How to do this exercise:

Sitting tall with a pillow or cushion under your bum, you should be stacked over your ribs, take a deep breath in and out. On your next inhale, lift your shoulders towards your ears, and then gently exhale and float the shoulder back and down towards your hips. Inhale, lift the shoulders towards your ears and exhale round them forwards and back down towards your hips. Do this 5 to 10 times.

Neck release: 

Purpose of this exercise: To help with tension in the upper back and neck, help with posture, and relieve tension headaches.

How to do this exercise:

Sitting tall with a pillow or cushion under your bum, you should be stacked over your ribs, take a deep breath in and out. Pull tall through the crown of your head by imagining being lifted up towards the ceiling by your ponytail. On your next inhale, lengthen your neck a bit more, exhale, float the head gently over to the right. Allow both shoulders to melt away from the ears. Take a deep breath here. Return back to center. Repeat on the other side, always growing taller before you move. Do this 5 to 10 times per side, moving with your inhale and exhale.

Find more exercises and important information you need to know immediately postpartum in my Ebook “The Starting Line Postpartum”! Want to receive a free E-book of 15 done-for-you Mama Movement exercises with video tutorials with your purchase? Sign up for updates HERE and be the first to know when the Starting Line Postpartum is available August 17th!


Invisible Illnesses and Their Very Really Toll on a Caregiver’s Body

By Amanda Sterczyk MA, CPT

Have you ever looked at someone on their phone and shook your head, silently judging them for being addicted to technology? What about when you see a presumed “helicopter mom” swooping down to save the day with their (seemingly) healthy kid? 

I know more than once I’ve caught the rolling eyes of a silent observer when my phone has dinged in public and I’ve pulled it out to check. But what that silent observer doesn’t know is that I have a child with an invisible illness. A very real, life-threatening invisible illness that requires monitoring and action twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. No holidays, no breaks. 

Does it matter to you what that illness is? Do I need to explain myself to gain your understanding? No matter, I’ll tell you anyway. She has type 1 diabetes, an auto-immune disorder in which the immune system mistakenly attacks the insulin-producing cells of the pancreas. Her body no longer produces insulin, so she has to inject it every single day of her life. Multiple times a day, actually. 

Currently, there is no cure for type 1 diabetes and families of children with type 1 diabetes are trained as their primary care providers in managing the disease. Now, before you start thinking that it’s something we fed our kids that caused this, let me stop you there. It’s about insulin and the body’s inability to produce its own. The management of monitoring blood sugar levels, counting carbs, factoring in stress/illness/physical activity to the administration of insulin happens day in and day out, wherever and whenever it’s needed. Because too little insulin causes death—typically in weeks or months. But too much insulin also causes death—in minutes and hours. 

And sometimes, teenagers and young adults can experience a severe low blood sugar while sleeping, a low from which they don’t awaken. It’s called “dead in bed syndrome” and I guarantee that every parent of a child with type 1 diabetes has thought about or worried about it on more than one occasion, especially when they’re not sleeping under the same roof. Let me tell you about one of my experiences.

The text came in just after three-thirty in the morning. I reached over to pick up my phone and confirmed what I feared: it was from our 16-year-old daughter (type 1 diabetic since the age of eight), who had reached out from a friend’s sleepover. As soon as I responded to the text, my phone rang in my hand. In this case, her blood sugar was dropping, she couldn’t get it to stabilize, and she was scared to go to sleep. I hopped in the car and raced over to pick her up. 

Once home, the two of us stayed on the couch until 5:00 am, when her levels stabilized and we both felt okay with her going to bed. I let her sleep in that morning, minus the 7:30 am check to ensure she was still okay. 

This is our reality—disturbed sleep, constant worry, middle of the night checks—and it’s why my phone is ever present in my waking and sleeping world. I’ve heard other T1 parents say their kids will call or text them from down the hall, when they’re too weak from a low blood sugar to call out for help or even walk a few steps. 

The worry, coupled with the interrupted sleep patterns, take their toll on a caregiver’s physical and emotional well-being. In my case, I find it takes me longer to recover from scary nights like this as I get older. I asked other moms how their child’s diagnosis had changed them as a parent. Their responses were filled with overwhelm, stress, worry, lack of sleep, isolation, inability to function fully. It’s like a second job we didn’t apply for, and for which we’re on call 24/7. Our brains are FULL with diabetes and we rarely replenish our need for sleep — a combination that often causes us to be distracted in the presence of others, or even shying away from socializing altogether.

On the flip side, it’s created a stronger, special bond with our children—we nurture and save our kids all day (and night!) long. In our case, we have a running joke: now that our daughter is a teenager, she regularly sleeps in on the weekends. Often, I inadvertently wake her up when checking on her with a “oh good, you’re still alive” comment. 

There’s so much misunderstanding and misinformation about diabetes. While you may have the best intentions when you provide unsolicited advice to a type 1 parent, please just stop. There’s no special diet that’s going to cure our kids, let alone “get them off insulin.” Seriously, the insulin is keeping them alive, why would we want to get them off it? Rhetorical question, my friends. And FYI, ketones are a bad thing in our world, not something to strive for, like many dieters now do. 

So, before you judge someone for constantly being on their phone, take a moment to understand what’s going on in their life. And instead of advice, maybe you could ask them how they’re doing.

Invisible illnesses: type 1 diabetes and stage 4 cancer

Image source: Laura Montgomery (Laura and her son)

Guest Contributor Mental Health Social Health

When Grief is What a Woman Knows

Written by Emily Dunn, Edited by Andie Vasquez

Why does grief/grieving feel so taboo? It seems so taboo, but yet nearly everyone can relate. We can all relate, but why do we all feel like we are suffering? I would like to share a little bit of my story. I lost my best friend. Yes I know it seems very cliché, and doesn’t seem like much but imagine this. He was not just my best friend, but he was my protector. It doesn’t stop there! He did nothing but want to love and protect everyone because that is how he showed his love. He didn’t just love and protect me, but he loved and protected my children. He would often refer to them as his little angels, and they loved him as much as he loved those angels. Their “Bonus” Dad was something they always looked forward to, and told everyone about. That temporary fairy tale of having my best friend available at the tips of my fingers, the smallest message, the slightest change of tone in my voice, and he was always there. Well, he was there until the day he landed in the ER in Tulsa, which quickly was followed by being transported to AICU, and then being intubated.  I can remember that last conversation we had together, his airway was so swollen it almost seemed as if he was wheezing like an old toy the dog over played with, wheezing loud enough that he could barely speak but still smiled ear to ear when I walked in the room. That last conversation ended with me telling him I love you, trying to hold back tears of fear, while he was crying and leaned in for a kiss and told me he loved me too. Little did I know this would be the last time he would ever speak to anyone.

*Drawn from my personal Journal entries

This day was followed by 16 long days and nights that I stayed beside you, away from the tiny angels back home, and away from work and all the sweet souls I cared for there, but yet I couldn’t stand to wait until I could hear your voice again. It didn’t matter what you would say or how upset you would be…. Then I realized, remembered, and decided to start a journal and write down every accomplishment you made, big, small, it didn’t matter because I knew when you were coming off that machine  you were going to learn that your biggest fear was reality. You had cancer.

That last morning, I will never forget. Being pushed out of your room for the nurses to work on you, only to be followed by an empathetic doctor looking me and your family in our eyes with tears in his eyes. I couldn’t tell you what exactly he said other than it was time to bid our farewells and I was not ready. I was not ever going to leave, but only to be left with no choice, I held your hand and kissed your head until your sweet golden soul left. I remember your father picking me up out of the hall way of hospital like a papa bear carefully caring for a limp noodle as I sobbed and cried out “That’s my boy pops….” Over and over…. I was in shock. Let alone the thought of going home to tell my kids their “Bonus Daddy” was too sick, and is now their angel instead.

Since that day forward grief has come and gone in waves. Some days I can think of you and smile. Some days I think of you and get so upset I become physically ill. You didn’t think that the little angels’ memories of you will fade in what felt like was sooner than you even wanted to face your own grief yourself. 

This became a pivotal point in my life for me, and my little family. I decided to take my broken heart and put it to use, and began working for hospice. Hospice?! Yes another taboo like feeling word, and I said it too. I did not realize the full aspect of what I was signing up for, but am I happy I did. I took my heart ache, my borderline constant tears, and I began loving on other people with the same broken soul that I was trying to survive with and we began growing together. Leaning on each other emotionally and I started believing all the cliché things I had been told, I started believing all of the waves, and I started to become that strongest version of myself that I know, I grew into the version of myself that I love today. When yet I never really felt like I actually loved myself before.

Now I’m not trying to convince anyone that working for hospice is key to recovery, absolutely not. It was just a key for me to be able to be empathetic and relate with fellow adults struggling in similar situations that all felt so familiar to my heart and soul. I would like to give some credit to a place called Counseling and Recovery Services. Counseling & Recovery Services of Oklahoma provides treatment, information, education, and support in offices, homes, and schools to adults and children who need help to recover from mental health and substance abuse issues. (Found on their website) Now what does that mean exactly? For me that translated into a healthy outlet for this momma to break down and cry, or scream, and communicate to professionals that gave me the biggest reality check: YOU’RE NOT CRAZY! Everything I was thinking, and feeling was ALL HEALTHY?!  There’s no possible way. Or so I thought. Here I am down the road of life, and I am now happily married, and have a beautiful blended family of 4 little angels instead of just two. Through many sessions with a therapist, psychiatrists, and a nurse practitioner I am now the healthiest and happiest I have ever felt in my life. I’m sure a lot of you kind of giggle at the thought of balancing work life, motherhood, AND appointments, but thankfully the office I sought treatment from had multiple days of the week that they had extended business hours, so I didn’t have to miss work to be able to still take care of me. Not only that but I got treated so well, and was genuinely listened to at NO COST. I know its awfully crazy and hard to believe! I’m not sure what the brackets or caps of income are but I know in my case I was taken care of and it didn’t break my bank.

If I could say or do anything out of all of this? I would strongly encourage all you mommas suffering through grief to not do it alone, and most importantly you aren’t crazy momma. You are going to question every thought and feeling you have, and once again I want to reiterate that that’s actually a good place to be in. I want you to take the opportunity and challenge yourself in this time of need and struggle.  I know everyone that loves you can only think of all of the cliché things, but just hold them closer. Kiss them more, snuggle them more. We were given these tiny angels for a reason, and some reasons we will never even know. Most importantly take the time to sit down with some sort of professional for you. You will make it, and you will come out stronger than you were before.


Cassandra McCoy Intellectual Health Occupational Health Physical Health

Professionals Who Bridge the Gap in Women’s Health – Part 1

By Cassandra McCoy MAT, ATC, LAT,

What is a Certified Athletic Trainer and what do they do? What is a Physical Therapist and what do they do?

What about a Women’s Health Athletic Trainer? Pelvic Floor Physical Therapist?

All of these titles, professions and letters can get confusing, so let’s break down the professions of an Athletic Trainer and a Physical Therapist. Also, in Part 2 I will introduce the role and capacity of a Women’s Health Athletic Trainer and break down how two professions (Women’s Health ATCs/Pelvic Floor PTs) can work together to improve women’s health worldwide. 

Here are a few basics definitions:

ATC/AT: Certified Athletic Trainer

LAT: Licensed Athletic Trainer

PT: Physical Therapist

PFPT: Pelvic Floor Physical Therapist

According to the National Athletic Training Association (NATA), an Athletic Trainer is defined as “Health care professionals who render service or treatment, under the direction of or in collaboration with a physician, in accordance with their education and training and the state’s statutes, rules, and regulations. As a part of the health care team, services provided by athletic trainers include primary care, injury and illness prevention, wellness promotion and education, emergent care, examination and clinical diagnosis, therapeutic intervention, and rehabilitation of injuries and medical conditions.” 

Athletic Trainers are seen in various settings with examples including military, orthopedic clinics, performing arts, physical therapy departments, private practice and so much more. ATCs/LATs do more than just tape ankles; we are medical healthcare professionals who have the education to prevent, rehab, educate, and treat active population across the lifespan. (Myth busting: You don’t have to be an athlete to see an athletic trainer!)

According to the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA), a Physical Therapist is defined as “health care professionals who diagnose and treat individuals of all ages, from newborns to the very oldest, who have medical problems or other health-related conditions that limit their abilities to move and perform functional activities in their daily lives.” Physical Therapists are seen in hospitals, physical therapy departments, pediatrics, hospice services, private practices and more. 

Now, there has been a lasting conflict between the physical therapist profession and athletic trainer profession. Turf wars, conflicting opinions and more. In some settings, we see this divide disappearing. PTs are able to send their patients to a knowledgeable AT in order to continue their patients healing and help them return to what they love. ATs are able to work with active population in a variety of settings, patients they believe need more narrowed and concentrated help can refer a patient back to a PT.  

Stay tuned for part two on how these two professions can come together to change the dynamic of their professions,  women’s health and bridge the gap in women’s health.


Audrey Wint Mental Health Physical Health Spiritual Health

Your Love Sign

by: Audrey Wint

With Valentine’s Day approaching it got me thinking about love.   More specifically, self-love. 

Not the commercialized “TREAT YO SELF” kind of ‘self-care’ that may potentially leave you with buyer’s remorse, but the kind that at times can be difficult and hard to face. The kind that requires work, patience, vulnerability, humility, and honesty with yourself. That REAL self-love, you know that I’m sayin’? And if you don’t then I’m so happy you’re taking a moment to read this article.

I had a best gal pal give me a book by Anuschka Rees called “Beyond Beautiful – A Practical Guide to Being Happy, Confident, and You in a Looks-Obsessed World” that was accompanied by the sweetest love note a friend could write. This book dives into body image, self-perception, and being more than a body. 

Link to the book: 

Honestly, the book (and my friends sweet note) had come at a perfect time and continues to do so. And why you might ask? Because, “Feeling good about yourself is a basic human need. We all have an internal self-worth barometer that’s constantly being fed with new information from our brain and recalibrating exactly how good we feel about ourselves at any given moment.”

Self-love is like a garden that needs constant tending to.

For example:  The other day I turned on my Nike Training Club app to start a quick 30 minute HITT workout. About 10 minutes in I decided to pause my workout and drop down onto my mat into a child’s pose. I was listening to my body and came to the conclusion that I was judging myself because I didn’t feel present in my body. I was stuck in my head (Do you ever feel this way?).. But why? I had a quote by Cleo Wade stuck in my head, “We Honor The Dream By Doing The Work”.  

I wanted to feel present in my body, but I was stuck in my head asking myself “Am I doing the work?!” Instead of going through the motions to make it feel like I was “doing the work” it was time to turn inward to practice self-inquiry and ask myself:

  • What are things or experiences that keep me fueled and motivated to honor my dream?
  • What actions can I take to find balance to cultivate these things or experiences?
  • How can I fill my cup so that I can be there for myself and others?

Take this as your self-love sign and ask yourself these questions, bust out a journal, or even come up with your own self-inquiry questions. Please use this as a tool to start a conversation with yourself, others around you, or even on this article. 

As Ru Paul always says,

If you don’t love yourself, how in the hell you gonna love somebody else? 

-Ru Paul

Physical Health Sophia Pollalis

Let Water be Your Friend

by Sophia Pollalis

Water. We can’t live without it. Our planet (and we) would die if it disappeared. We get excited when we find water or remnants of water on other planets because it means life to us. That should get you excited about water. 

WATER IS LIFE. We are born in it. We bathe in it. We play in it. We are soothed by its sounds. It allows life within it. We utilize it for transportation. We are sustained by its ability to join forces with heat to harden an egg or soften potatoes (which are my favorite). These qualities and uses of water are amazing, but the most important thing we should be doing with it is drinking it.

Water is essential to our bodies. If we don’t drink enough, we die. If we drink too much, we die. There’s a large amount of leeway between those to extremes that allow us to survive, but how much is optimal? For years the general thought was drinking 8 cups of water per day. Some people say, no! You should be drinking so much more! Others said 8 cups was too much.

Created by Cassandra McCoy

We don’t have to figure it out, we have to trust our bodies. Most people can get adequate hydration from drinking when they’re thirsty. The trick is differentiating between hunger and thirst. One thing I have found useful in differentiating this is drinking some water whenever I feel hungry. If that feeling doesn’t come back, I’ve quenched my thirst and I wasn’t actually hungry. The only time not to follow this is if you’re working up a sweat; you need to replace the fluid that you’ve lost1.

What if you don’t like the taste of water or the water quality in your area isn’t good?  Do you have to force yourself to consume it, or buy a bunch of plastic water bottles and “kill the earth”?

Absolutely not!  Water is in our beverages and food already. Our total hydration is calculated through everything we consume, not just water. About 20% of our water intake is provided by food2. Does your kid only like to drink milk? Guess what cows use to make milk?   Do you have an addiction to diet cola that you’re not ready to tackle yet? The first ingredient in soda is water. If eat tons of fruit and veggies that have water in them and I feel hydrated, do I need to drink 4 liters of water on top of this? Only if you want to and you feel it benefits your body. Just remember that anything that isn’t water has other things in it like sugar, calories, preservatives, and other things that aren’t necessarily good for you.

Listen to your body. Trust it. It was created and has evolved to be able to support you.

 Here are some fast facts about water and your body:

1.       Water provides structure to your cells3. Think all the way back to high school biology. Remember looking at cells under a microscope? Remember how uniform and structured they looked? That’s mostly because of water. Think grape versus raisin, or a filled water balloon versus a dead one. Water takes up space. What products do we put on our faces to avoid or fill in wrinkles or on our hands in the winter when they crack? Things that hydrate or bring moisture to our skin.

2.       Water lubricates joints3. Most of the joints in our body are synovial joints, meaning they have a fluid filled sack around them that provides lubrication for movement. Have you ever slid a glass across your table or watched it float around on its own because it’s in a puddle of condensation? Water provides the lubrication that allows to rough surfaces to glide across each other.

3.       Water absorbs heat with minimal temperature change4. This quality is what allows life on this planet to be so adaptable. Water’s high heat capacity, or its ability to absorb heat with minimal temperature change, is due to the chemical structure of water. A water molecule is 2 hydrogen atoms bonded to an oxygen atom (H20). In order for the temperature of water to increase, the bond between the hydrogen atoms and oxygen have to break. This takes energy. A lot of energy. Think about boiling water for a big pot of pasta. Even when you have your heat on high, it takes a while.

4.       Water helps remove waste products and transports nutrients throughout the body2,3. Our bodies have built-in detoxification systems (hello liver and kidneys!) that filter our blood of toxins and waste products that our bodies create. Paying attention to the color of your pee is a great way to tell if you’re hydrated enough. Staying hydrated enough also helps your bowels move easier.

5.       Sweating allows diffusion of gases across moist body surfaces5. You have sweat glands all over your body, which allows water to rise to the surface of your skin, moisten the skin, and evaporate. The evaporation removes the water, which removes the heat. Refer to fast fact number 3 about water’s heat capacity.

6.       Water provides a reactive medium within the body6. Our bodies are miraculous in all the things they do. There are millions of chemical reactions taking place inside your body at any given point. Creating energy (adenosine triphosphate or ATP to be technical) is essential to everything we do, and water is a necessary element to its production. Water also provides a medium for solutions to be formed and reactions to take place in.

7.       Muscle weighs more than fat per volume because of its water content7. Water is more dense than fat, therefore people with a higher fat percentage will float. Approximately 10% of fat’s weight is water, while a muscle’s is 73%. In general, women have a higher fat content than men because of our stores of fat, and therefore our water content is slightly lower. Typically, our bodies are made up of 40-70% water. Other factors, such as age and aerobic fitness, can also affect total body water content.


Megan Spears Spiritual Health Uncategorized

Meditation for Women who want to clear their mind (but can’t).

by Megan Spears

I was 17 years old when I decided to  try a formal meditation class. I don’t remember if it took place on a Monday or a Sunday, at 5am or 5pm, but I do remember the smell of nag champa and the feeling of quiet reverence as I walked up the stairs to the space. I also remember, and will never forget, the  first bit of advice from the meditation teacher. He said, simply and clearly, directly to me, “try less”.

“Try less?”, I thought. “What the hell?”

I immediately became both frustrated and intrigued by the concept of trying less. I was so new to this practice; I couldn’t gauge my level of effort. It boggled my mind and stayed with me for several years, coming up randomly in my mind as a grew in my yoga and meditation practice.

I eventually (five years later) became a yoga teacher and started leading both power yoga classes and meditation classes. I purposefully did not cue “try less” in my meditation classes, simply because I hadn’t unpacked that cue for myself. I guess you could say I was sitting with it.

Photo by Molly Thrasher.

A few years into my teaching, I was invited by a fellow teacher to begin a meditation training with Dr. Lorin Roche and Camille Maurine. In this training, my teachers  shared the amazingly rebellious notion that neither have to try less or clear my mind in meditation.

I don’t have to clear my mind? Wait, what? Isn’t that what meditation is about?

No, ma’am. You sure don’t have to clear your mind or try less.

What I offer to you is what my teachers offered to me – the 8 Rs.

Rest. Release. Remember. Rehearse. Repair. Restore. Relax. Recharge. Remember that you’re meditating. Then Rest again.

Photo by Molly Thrasher.

Imagine this as you read along:

You settle into a seated position, or lie down. As you rest in your posture,  you feel your muscles release. As you release, you might remember why your muscles were tense in the first place. As you remember why you were tense, you then commence your rehearsal of the experience that made you feel tense. You problem solve, build a list of things to do, have that discussion that you’re putting off, budget your finances – all of this happens in your rehearsal stage.

(This is traditionally where you get frustrated and think you’re not meditating.  As your meditation teacher, I’m here to tell you that this is a part of the rhythm of meditation. Keep going.)

As you sense yourself in rehearsal, you might step out to jot down notes of who to call or what to do after your meditation. You might have a seriously creative moment where you finally solve that problem or think up the next best step in your business. When you come back, you will feel that you’ve repaired something – lightness ensues; you feel restored. Then you relax because you remember that you’re meditating. Sense your muscles, and the deeper layers of your awareness, rest again.

This cycle could happen 2-3 times in the span of 10 minutes. As you become aware of where you are within the 8 Rs, the time spent in each R may stretch or extend – you might find yourself in a restful state for a long time. 

Now I can appreciate the cue to “try less”. Rather than  pushing or over-effort, sense what happens when you rest into your meditation. With this understanding of meditation as a rhythm, we can appreciate and respect said rhythms. Play with the rhythms. You may start to look forward to your practice the same way you look forward to the first sip of your morning tea (or pourover cup of coffee, if you’re boujee like me). 

I hope you feel free to meditate knowing that you don’t have to clear your mind. Rather, develop a sense for what each R feels like for you.

Rest. Release. Remember. Rehearse. Repair. Restore. Relax. Recharge. Remember that you’re meditating. Then Rest again.

-Megan Spears RYT 500