Why I Teach Mindset Over Diet & Exercise

I've been on some sort of diet (or cheating on said diet) since I was eight years old. 

After 17 years of yo-yo dieting, in one night, I made a shift that changed everything. It didn't come from diet, exercise, or even willpower.

It came from 3 little words

This is one of those memories that I can't forget, it's branded on my mind and I fall back on it whenever I need a reminder of why I do all this work. 

It'd been just about a month since I collapsed, kicking off my third major MS flare. I was still struggling to walk and just getting to the bathroom and back felt like a marathon. Half of my body was numb and no matter how hard I tried, I couldn't get my right hand to cooperate. 

I was tired. Physically, mentally, and spiritually drained. 

I was tired of fighting my body. Of trying to change it. Of berating myself for every time I failed. 

That night, I was laying on the couch with the lights off. I'd been there for a few hours. I had no where else to go and I liked watching the light in my apartment slowly dim as the sun set outside. 

Once it was completely dark, I started thinking about an article I'd read about self love. It said you should look in the mirror and tell yourself.

I always knew I loved myself, I didn't think I had to say it, but I thought about how it would feel if my family, friends, or lover never expressed their feelings in words and my heart sunk. 

 I would absolutely HATE that. 

So I pulled myself up, grabbed my cane, and slowly moved toward the bathroom. 

I put my cane down and leaned against the sink. I couldn't keep myself up for long and my fatigue was already kicking in. I looked in the mirror and said "I love you" and the strangest thing happened... I couldn't make eye contact. 

It seemed ridiculous. So I tried again. And then again. Finally I forced myself to make eye contact and in that moment, I could see everything. 

The pain. The anger. The guilt. The shame. The frustration. The sadness.  It all poured out of my eyes, followed by a stream of tears.

I apologized, begged for forgiveness, and promised myself that I would put my healing first. I would put my feelings, needs, and health first.

Finally, I said I love you one more time and promised to do whatever I needed to do to get myself to believe it. 

For the last 4 years, I've been building a new relationship of love, trust, and connection with myself. In turn, the weight loss came off as a happy side effect. 

Doing things like this can seem awkward or even pointless, at least that's what I thought, but it wasn't the action of saying "I love you" that changed the game. It was just the key that opened the door to a vulnerable understanding that what I was doing wasn't working. 

No diet plan or exercise routine could take me on this journey, it was all about my shift in mindset and that's what I hope to help other people unlock as well.

You have the key to success within you, you just have to be ready to open the door. 

Who's Map Are You Following?

When I was diagnosed with MS, it felt like my doctor handed me a new map with a new life direction. One I really didn't want to travel. 

I'd be taking the scenic route, the long road, because MS itself doesn't actually kill you. Instead, it lets you ride slowly through life, stopping at all the "must see" spots like pain, fear, resentment, jealousy, depression, and anger along the way. 

My vehicle, my body, was labeled as used. Past it's prime before my 21st birthday and the focus became less about upkeep and more about keeping up. Fueled on prescriptions, I was "reassured" that breakdowns were normal about 1-2 times a year. 

Unfortunately, we never knew how long each stall would last. 

For a few years, I traveled the path and hated the gray views. Sure, the breakdowns only came about once a year, but no one warned me about the daily struggles. A dysfunctional air conditioner, leaky gas tank, patched up tires, and a very testy battery - It felt like a hazard for me to be on the road at all!

One day, after a stall out turned accident left me on the side of the road, I took some time to breathe. My vehicle was done, burned out, and I was desperate for another path. I looked to my left and through the forest, I saw flowers. I got a little closer and noticed the flowers blooming along a paved walkway overlooking spectacular views of mountains that lined the ocean. 

It'd been so long since I'd seen flowers on my route. It'd been so long since I saw beauty in life at all. 

I dragged my vehicle to the new path and as I met people along the way, they all helped me put myself back together by using tools from the Earth. Sunshine, food, happiness, exercise, cannabis, meditation, journaling - I used anything they suggested and waited for results. Soon, my vehicle, my body, started working better.

The battery wasn't stalling, the air conditioner became dependable, and I no longer had to rely on roadside assistance - my battery was stronger than ever. I traveled the path slowly as everyone else ran by because I was grateful just to be on it at all. I wanted to experience every moment celebrating this new experience. 

 My doctors, friends, and the internet scoffed at my new map. They shoved their map in my face, to my great disdain, and insisted I go back.

But as time continued and they saw my adamant refusal (and my drastically improved vehicle), they started asking more questions. They were curious about my route and how I'd found myself there at all. 

So I told them: "Don't get lost in the tunnels. It's too difficult to see your other options when you're only focused on one. If things aren't working, slow down and look around you. The answers to healing are everywhere. Just follow the flowers."

When my map wasn't working for me - mentally, physically, or emotionally, I found one that would. Find a route that works for you and it may take awhile to adjust, but once you do, all that's left is to enjoy the views. 

How To Be Nice To Yourself When You're Coping

When Binge Attacks Happen

I've had a stressful week and am currently in the throes of a binge. 

I feel like I'm in a strange transition time in my life and, even though I see things coming together in front of me, not having anything tangible makes me want to pull my hair out. 

But pulling my hair out isn't one of my coping mechanisms. Eating is. 

I felt the urge to binge come on at the beginning of the week but I kept trying to shove those emotions down. I keep telling myself, maybe if I ignore it, it'll go away. But just like in any other part of my life, that reasoning never works. 

I'm not going to tell you what I've eaten today because what I've had wasn't really the issue. It's the amount. My bingeing is no longer about cheating, but more about eating far more than my body wants or needs.

The Coping Cycle

Through my journey, I've come to recognize a cycle here. When I can't handle external stressors, it triggers my hormones to throw a raging party all over my body to destress. Those hormones always invite the same parts of my personality as guests and those personalities all have different ways of letting loose, habits they've been leaning on since I was a kid. 

You see, these different parts of my personality aren't a mental disease. We all have times where we're more confident vs. nervous or accepting vs. judging, etc. These are all different pieces of your make up and sometimes, those parts will be invited to show up depending on what's going on in your external life and try to make your life easier by any means possible. If we haven't taught them how to respond, that means turning to your coping mechanism of choice. 

But if you can become mindful and recognize who's showing up to the party and how they're acting, you can start to communicate with them to make better choices for you overall. Your body will operate better if you work with it instead of fighting with it. 

Working With Your Parts

I spend a lot of time working with my parts and, even though I get frustrated some days when we fall back on old habits, I remember how long it's been since my last binge. Rome wasn't built in a day and Rome is FAR less complicated than the human mind, so patience is key here. If I yell, punish, or ignore the part of me that's only trying to relieve stress for me in the only way they know how - they'll get resentful. They don't understand that what they're doing is destructive so their feelings get hurt  

If you acknowledge them and then work to teach that part how to act through mindfulness, it will eventually learn how to refocus their attention and party responsibly. 

How To Respond In The Moment

I want to urge you to be nice to yourself as you learn how to respond to external stress. These are coping mechanisms that have been in play for a long time and making a change never comes over time. 

This is the time to open the conversation with your part and teach it to journal, practice deep breathing, take a bath, or spend some time with friends instead of turning to food. The more often you do that, the more practice your brain gets to change it's response reaction to life. 

So today, I'll be moving slow and gentle. Communicating with myself, my parts, and my body to continue to pave the way to the happy and healthy life I want to achieve. 

If you're in the same boat, let me know by commenting below so we can help guide each other through it. You are not alone, in your head or otherwise. 

Love & light,

Carolyn Rachel

The Real Reason I Believe in Mindset Coaching

This post is going to be painfully candid, but as I write this, my 29th birthday is just minutes away and I can't help but reminisce. 

You all know that I've had kind of a crazy life.

I like to focus on the physical transition because it's what I can prove. The before and after pictures really do make quite the impact, but that was nothing compared to my mental transition. 

Much more intense than the physical symptoms of obesity and MS, there was a long period of my life where my biggest obstacle came from the weight on my mind. The medications were creating strange voices in my brain and as my body broke down, thoughts of suicide filled my head. 

I know what it's like to feel gratitude for death because, in the back of my mind, it was an emergency exit option for relief.

They say that MS is set in stone. That I should expect to struggle with symptoms everyday. But when the pain was overwhelming and relentless with no hope from my doctors, I became a prisoner in my own body, desperate for a get out of jail free card.

The fact that I had the choice to end my life became a silver lining to existing. It felt like an exciting little secret because it put me back in control, the power was back in my hands.

I had the power to end the debilitating pain and I knew, when all else failed, at least I always had the option to simply opt out. 

The fatigue dragged me down as I exhausted my energy through small tasks. I spent my days fighting to get through the pain and my nights fantasizing about not having to fight anymore. 

For months at a time, year after year, I slept with the suicide hotline number typed into my phone next to my pillow. I researched assisted suicide every chance I got, discovered the option in Oregon, and mentally played out the conversation of how I'd bring up that decision to my parents. I just couldn't live my life in suffering anymore and figured everyone would have to understand.

Almost 5 years ago, after a big conversation with myself, I turned to mindset exercises to start healing the mental pain. 

It's been a long road, but here I am. In fact, this is the longest I've gone where I wasn't dreaming of ending my life and as my 29th birthday approaches, I feel nothing but gratitude and hope for a future I didn't think I'd ever get to live.  

I regained my power and control through physical habits, habits that could only be developed through mindset. I'm fitter and healthier than I've ever been, but it didn't come from healing my body, it came from healing my mind. 

I believe in mindset coaching and your ability to utilize these concepts for better health because I know what it's like to be at the very bottom, both physically and mentally. I know the tools it took to pull myself out of that dark place - tools that came from within me - tools that all of us have access to. If I can do what I've done, to come from where I've been, I know that it's possible for anyone. 

They say MS is set in stone, but I no longer believe that. If I can manipulate my brain to help me live symptom free almost every single day after living a waking nightmare, I know that you can do it too. That's why I've made it my life's purpose to share my story and help guide others through their mental and physical pain. 

I chose to allow those thoughts to control me and I don't want that for anyone else. You can live a life that society says you're supposed to, "set in stone", or you can step outside of their map to create your own path. To build the control and power in your life that will take you to success. 

 I believe in mindset coaching, in your ability to control your thoughts to manifest health and happiness around you, because I used these mindset shifts to shift my physical reality.  

I could have let the fixed path of sickness and obesity control me, but I now understand that no one could control me without my permission, not even my own brain. 

Now, all I want is to teach those tools to you. 

For my birthday, I'd like to ask you to give me a gift. Sit for 5 minutes today and do some deep breathing. Focus on your breath, on gratitude, and bask in the reflection of all the wonderful things you have in life.

It's time to live your life, Without The Weight. 

With love & light,

Carolyn Rachel

5 Steps To Authentic Goal Setting

When I weighed over 300 lbs, my dad did something that changed my life. He lost 60 lbs. 

It was inspiring, but I'd be lying if I said I wasn't a bit jealous. Here I was, spending all my energy trying to lose weight, desperately needing to, and he did it in a snap. I couldn't figure out what I was doing wrong and seeing him do it right in front of me drove me a little crazy. 

I used my disease as an excuse, even though I'd been heavy long before diagnosis. It calmed my mind from having a complete meltdown.

Fortunately, for me - the universe wasn't done sending me the message, and the meltdown came as I watched my brother lose over 120 lbs with his chronic illness. It completely destroyed my excuse and I felt more trapped in the weight loss goal than ever. 

For my entire life, weight loss was THE goal. I've been the heaviest girl in every room since childhood, despite my constant focus on weight loss. I journaled about it, made plans, met with trainers, and tried every diet I heard about with little to no success. I always cheated. I always binged. And I always hated myself for it. I was weak.

Or so I thought. 

When Multiple Sclerosis became a roadblock on my path to weight loss, I had no choice but to take a detour. I couldn't focus on weight loss anymore because the pain was so severe, it literally blinded my focus for anything else. When walking without a cane (or even with one) became a struggle at 25 years old, I had no choice but to change focus. 

Healing my body of this illness became my number one priority and changing the goal changed everything. 

As I focused on healing my body, the weight poured off as a happy side effect. I didn't have to worry about the weight because I knew that I was doing what I needed to do for my disease. I ate, exercised, and chose products without chemicals all with my illness in mind. I didn't care about going slow, about results, or about fitting into that cute pair of jeans. I just cared about being able to walk. 

And now, It's officially been 3 years since I last used my cane, so I would say I accomplished my mission to heal. 

I learned that weight loss itself is not a goal. It's simply the road we travel to get to the destination we want. No one WANTS to have to lose weight, we want the results that come from it. We want to feel happy, attractive, healthy and confident. We want to be able to live an exciting life that the weight might be keeping us from, but we don't focus on those things. Instead, we focus on the part we hate, and I'm starting to question why we put ourselves through the misery. 

So now, I'm going to give you some tips on how to transition your mindset for SUCCESS and let weight loss be a side effect to creating a life you love. 

5 Steps To Authentic Goal Setting:

1. Write A Bucket List!                                                                                                

Alright, so you like what I'm saying but you don't really know how to start. I get that. I've been there, and while I was forced into my new goal, I didn't realize until I was feeling better that weight loss simply wasn't a goal. How? Because I went right back to it once I could walk again. 

And guess what? I gained 30 lbs and a lot of mental frustration. 

So, I decided to focus on things that made me happy. I'd always wanted to learn to hula hoop (even though I'd never been able), so I started focusing on that. I bought a weighted hula hoop and practiced daily, getting in a solid workout and having a blast. 

As I ticked things off my bucket this, I felt happier and healthier which made me want to make other positive changes. I wanted to keep experiencing life and in order to do that, I had to make sure my mind & body were in good working order. I have to be able to fit in an airplane seat if I want to travel. I have to make sure I'm fit enough to hike if I want to climb mountains. I have to make sure my balance is good if I want to learn to salsa dance...

See what I'm saying? Start writing a list of the things you want to do in life and then make it your priority to take care of yourself in ways that allows you to accomplish them. Weight loss will come along the way. 

2. Discover Your Blocks

We all have things that block us from doing things for ourselves. Perhaps it's low self esteem/lack of confidence, lack of motivation, or it could also be a side effect of trauma. Regardless, no need to wallow in them because even if you can't change the reality of a situation, you can always change your perception of how it shaped you. 

The blocks you have are there for a reason. Obviously, I wish I never weighed 360 lbs or was diagnosed with MS, but those blocks allowed me to start understanding what was going on mentally that kept me cheating and bingeing. If I'd never had that, I might have been thin and physically healthy, but I would never be authentically happy. 

And that's what we all want, right? To feel genuinely and authentically happy. I know it sounds crazy, but I'm telling you from first hand experience, being happy is not only completely possible, it's also completely your choice. 

3. Find A Plan (Or Create One!) That Feels Doable

Organization is key. I'm sure you've heard this before and if it bothers you, you're not alone. I was so disorganized (the queen of "organized chaos) and my room felt just as messy as my rapid thoughts. 

Now a days, though, my room is getting cleaner and cleaner, and so is my plan. Once you have a plan in front of you with clear, simple, and direct instructions, it's hard to mess it up. Setting aside the mental and physical space to be productive is CRUCIAL to hitting our goals and if you're setting off without a plan, you're making it much harder on yourself. 

If you don't know what plan to follow, keep it simple. All fitness goals can be accomplished through the basics - whole & unprocessed foods, consistent cardio and strength training, time for stress management (think meditation/yoga/journaling), enough water, and plenty of sleep. 

4. Be Nice To Yourself

This seems easy, but it's easily the most difficult thing on this list. We're taught by our experiences to judge ourselves constantly. Look at every commercial, advertisement, magazine, etc - all teaching us to pick out our flaws (and offering a solution to how you can change who you are/how you look). 

That is truly insane. 

Truth be told, all these ideas that you're "not good enough" or "flawed" are complete and utter BS. We all have different opinions on what's beautiful and not fitting into a societal standard doesn't effect your true authentic beauty. It's up to you to start refusing these thoughts and ideas. To start telling yourself how worthy, strong, beautiful, and incredible you are (BECAUSE YOU ARE). 

If it's painful, start small with something easy. Maybe it's complimenting yourself on a job well done (instead of harping on how it could have gone better). Maybe it's reminding yourself how cute your hair looks. Whatever it is, if you start changing the conversation you have in your head about who you are in a positive way, you will start building the positive self image that helps give you purpose and moves you forward. 

5. Find Gratitude In Your Struggle

When I lost the feeling on my right side in 2016, I could barely walk or use my right (dominant) hand. If I touched my skin, I couldn't feel anything. It was a miserable time in my life, but I felt incredibly grateful. 

Being grateful for struggle is difficult but I couldn't help but appreciate that I wasn't having a flare that left me in severe pain again. I felt grateful for the opportunity to slow down and breathe. To start making changes. If I hadn't struggled with my walking, I don't know that I would have taken the initiative to create my new goal of healing. If I hadn't done that, I don't know if I would still be alive today. 

If I can find gratitude in my struggle and see all that it taught me, please understand that the path to health and happiness can start from anywhere. It's a long road to travel, but as long as you don't get stuck focusing on the GPS, you get to see some seriously beautiful sights along the way. 

Still feeling unsure of what to do? Contact me today for a coaching consultation to help you design a goal that works for you. 

I wish you love, light, and all that jazz.