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How Relationships with Our Pet Friends Change After We Have a Baby

by Darrah Le Montre

When the stork arrives, our furry friends get relegated to “pet” rather than “first born”

Stork carrying bebe

In 2008, I adopted a furry friend. An animal shelter employee and her girlfriend discovered him on a hike while he was on the prowl for food in a Burbank park. Folklore now has it that he ran away from an abusive home, and possibly survived on dead birds and trash for a few months. Nobody knows for certain.

I named him Oscar Wilde because I had just seen the movie Wilde with Jude Law. It had less to do with the actual author (I’ve read only famed bon mots) and more to do with the flair and panache I designated my new 1 ½ year-old poodle-terrier roommate had. He turned out to be a gender-indiscriminate leg-humper and so this bisexual tendency seemed fitting for his moniker.

At first, I was hesitant to adopt the boy. I was a lone-wolf writer/babysitter, struggling to make ends meet. Would he comply with my schedule? Would he bark while I was on a roll, writing my dating column? Would he need walks when I was at work and then piss on my beige carpet? I told my friend Angela (who introduced us) that I’d keep him for a weekend and see. The minute she left my apartment, I sat down at my card table desk and pretended to write. I wanted to see what he would do. He laid down at my feet and fell asleep. A partnership was born.

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Oscar Wilde

Ozzie is now seven. He’s seen me move four times, date unavailable men, vomit on the bathroom floor after a particularly bad hang-over, cut my long hair off, meet my fiancé and finally, give birth to the love of my life: my daughter.

When it was just the two of us, we went everywhere together. I even took babysitting jobs discriminately, based upon who would allow him at their house. He had a permanent spot on my lap on car rides. The metallic smell of his breath comforted me. When he savagely devoured my spicy Thai food and subsequently bled from his butt, I followed him around with a rag and could care less about the carpet. When he had trouble sleeping, I had trouble sleeping. I once declined a trip to Australia because he would need to be boarded.

We made silly YouTube videos together.

We were inseparable.

At night before bed, I professed my love for him and begged him to sleep with me. He tolerated brief bouts of snuggling, and then settled on the floor by my feet.

In early 2013, I got pregnant. While I was expecting, he was still my bud, but my focus was on my health and wellness and that of my fetus. Daisy was a great little fetus, but nevertheless, I had work to do.

Still, up until the minute my fiancé Richard dropped Oscar off for a six-day boarding stint while I was recovering at the hospital, I was obsessed with my hypoallergenic B.F.F. Walking him was my main source of exercise while pregnant and we shared water glasses whenever Richard was out of the room.

Me & Oscar, during my maternity shoot, the day before I had my daughter!

Me & Oscar, during my maternity shoot, the day before I had my daughter!

Everything changed after I had my daughter.

We picked Oscar up on our way home from the hospital. He did his usual leap into my arms. This time, they were not outstretched. I was strategically placed in the backseat beside the car seat, to shield my tiny new 5 pound 11 ounce baby from his enthusiasm. Whereas, Oscar would usually occupy a space in my lap, and be adored from head to toe, instead, I pushed him away with a scowl.

At home, when Oscar would casually walk into the baby’s nursery, I would nag him to leave. I was paranoid about germs, and despite his innate gentleness with babies, which I’ve seen time and again, postpartum protectiveness was off the charts. Motherly instincts betrayed my “first born” son and his spot at #1 was instantly usurped by my little human. (Who looked so much like Richard, I was having “maternity issues”. I kept looking down at my C-section scar, joking to company, “I think I had her.”)

After awhile, Oscar learned to slink under Daisy’s crib and would stay there for hours while I rocked her or breastfed. He even slept there sometimes. He grew protective of her. He would nap at the foot of any chair where she and I were and stink-eye potential intruders that visited the nursery.

Hula Oscar!

Hula Oscar!

My family and friends teased me about how Oscar had been demoted. I felt awful. Here I was, trying to be a super mom, and somehow I felt like a failure. Having grown up with a brother that got lots of attention, Richard identified with Oscar and picked up the slack. I asked my babysitters to walk Ozzie while I was recovering from surgery. He dragged them back to the front door more often than not in the beginning. Once, while I was laying down, he jumped on my stomach (ouch!) so I began kicking him off the bed. Things had changed and I felt a pang of guilt every time I saw him moping around the house.

I asked around, and it seems, this is pretty commonplace with new parents of humans.

By now, things have settled into place a bit more. It’s been almost three years since reading the YES on the urine stick (about which Richard asked, “what was the question again?!”) Many of the puzzling and exhausting aspects of the first year are behind me. Daisy is two-years-old and enjoys Oscar. He’s also older now. I’m learning who he is in this incarnation. His spry days are behind him. His gait is slow. He has arthritis in his legs. He developed Addison’s disease, which is fairly common in aging dogs. He takes corticosteroids. His beautiful, marble-like brown eyes are now slightly cloudy with cataracts. The stories about him jumping up and knocking down my dinner tray and eating it real fast while I washed up for dinner are moot. He now lumbers up to the bed using a bench as a stool.

My doggie companion, who has seen me grow from a confused single girl in her twenties to an engaged mother in her thirties, has taught me so much. And I’ve submitted to his many lessons; to the love he’s given me; and to the changes in him that will no doubt break my heart one day. In the meantime, we adopted a terror of a redheaded girl terrier, who is one-year-old, and hyper as all get out. Menchies and Oscar bicker and hump and chase each other all day.

I was always hesitant to get another dog because Oscar and I were the Dynamic Duo. He is so human-like. When I say, “excuse me,” he moves out of the way. When I cry, he puts his paw on my arm. When I’m sick, he gets sick. (I’m serious. It’s weird.) But, now that I’ve got more distractions and commitments, this gift of a little manic canine Lucille Ball to his Desi Arnaz seems appropriate.

Menchies the Terror, Ahem, Terrier

To be clear, Menchies drives us batshit crazy, but Oscar seems to like her. She makes him feel youthful. And since he holds the keys to my youth… I figure it’s the least I can do.

Dedicated to my loyal Oscar. I hope I never take you for granted.

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RELATED: Asking for Help: Why Is It So Hard?

RELATED: From Sex Addict to Monogamous Mom: A love junkie finds true love

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Darrah Le Montre is a writer and journalist and devoted mom. Her work has been published by Marie Claire, Cosmopolitan and nudie blog SuicideGirls. 

 

 

 

 

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Asking for Help: Why Is It So Hard?

Help! I need somebody. Not just anybody. 

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Back in 1965, the Beatles crooned about needing somebody — anybody — to save them from what John Lennon would later tell Playboy was the incomprehensible Beatles fame. “I was subconsciously crying out for help,” Lennon admitted. While most of us will never reach the heights of fame that they did, we have issues and problems that are just as valid, important and needing of attention as celebrities. There are misconceptions about asking for help. Many women and mothers are silently screaming and suffering, but are too proud or unsure of how and when to ask for help.

Sometimes, asking for help can be confusing. I remember being fifteen and a half and first learning about feminism. I was startled by Gloria Steinem’s quote, “A woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle.” I kept moving it around in my head like a lumbering lesson; trying to find meaning in it. Why would a fish and a bicycle be in the same sentence? Is needing a man bad? Do I need a man? Should I need a man? It was so convoluted and I was scared to admit it felt foreign. Instead, I declared it proudly, and then waited to see how the people I loved reacted. My mother thought it was ludicrous. My father resented it. My guy friends laughed. My female friends nodded. The only problem with this quote and my clumsy interpretation of it, was that, it ended up resembling a Rubik’s Cube and I was never fully able to make all of the colors line up. So when I needed help: be it at work after graduation, while carrying heavy boxes of Xerox paper, or worse, when I found myself in over my head as a drug addict, I thought only the weak sought out help. Instead, I happily chirped, “I am woman, hear me roar!” while my back cracked beneath the weight of too many paper reams, or my hair fell out while I spun out on a speed bender.

help

After I had my daughter, via C-section, I was pretty much incapable of even getting up to go pee in the middle of the night. I had to rely on my partner to come around to my side and grab my elbow and lift me. I remember my hero of an OB tell me, “Don’t be proud. Ask for help.” She was trying to kill that part of me (and, assumably, other women) that would rather hold their pee or bust their stitches than shove their baby-daddies awake at 2am. My stomach was numb for months and my C-section scar took a year+ to thin out and stop feeling like a burn. During that time, I got stuck in the couch like a deer in quicksand more times than I’d like to admit. But, I did ask for help. Because it’s been over a decade since I was a seventeen-year-old drug addict, and it’s been at least a few years since I realized something else: I do need men. And, I do need other women. For help. For guidance. For emotional stability. For maturity. For fun. For role-modeling. For everything I didn’t get when I was younger and for some things I couldn’t embrace before now.

Having struggled with anxiety and depression since I was a child, I have become an expert at hiding or “hibernating” as I like to call it. This worked for a long, long time. I was able to calm my inner storms and control my external environment. Now, it works in limited capacity. Now, I need company, a pep talk, or to be lifted out of my dark room and that’s just the way it goes. What served me before doesn’t serve me now. I need to trust the change and go with the flow of who I have metamorphosed into. I need to honor my current incarnation.

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Don’t forget to breathe!

My daughter goes to Children’s Hospital for treatment for a genetic condition that has caused her muscles to develop at a slower pace than her peers. This can be isolating for me because I have trouble interacting with mothers of typically-developing children. I love my daughter more than anything in this life. And, while at CHLA or other providers, we are in a friendly environment for her distinct needs. She’s a trooper and I’m her cheerleader. But, with my mommy friends, we stick out. And, I resent the questioning looks and outright nosiness of people who want to know why she is more petite or not walking yet. I’m still navigating this. It’s hard to ask for help in this area.

After a particularly difficult day that found me in bed in the dark by my daughter’s early bedtime, I hit a bottom that gave birth to a realization. Perhaps, being of service to other moms and their unique situations will help? To put that idea in action, I started a social support group for parents of special needs children. I am hopeful that this will connect me with others that have similar gifts of unique parenthood and I can find out how they interface with other moms. To be clear, I wouldn’t trade my situation for anything, I’m simply learning how to steer the car better.

Speaking of being of service, at CHLA recently, I was in the bathroom when I saw a mother who was struggling with her two-month old baby girl. She was trying to juggle her stroller, the change table, and using the bathroom herself. Finally, she patted her daughter on the stomach and looked at me (she didn’t speak English) as if to say, “I’m leaving her here while I go use the toilet.” I gestured to her that I would watch her daughter. That she didn’t need to put her child in jeopardy. That she could breathe a sigh of relief for a few minutes and trust that everything would be fine. She smiled so big the bathroom’s florescent bulbs shimmered off her teeth.

Whenever I see a mom, a woman — or a man — in need of help (I have rescued a few old men from the side of the street having fallen) I try to rise to the occasion. And, when I need help, especially if I’m feeling blue and can’t seem to navigate the fog by myself, I’m learning to surrender to the divine connection we all have. We are one. And as fabulous as we are, sometimes, we need help. And that’s totally OK!

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RELATED: From Sex Addict to Monogamous Mom: A love junkie finds true love

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Darrah Le Montre is a writer and journalist and devoted mom. Her work has been published by Marie Claire, Cosmopolitan and nudie blog SuicideGirls. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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My New Facebook Page for This Blog! :)

Hi friends! I started a Facebook fan page because of the love and support I have received over the years since I began this website & blog in 2010. I created Follow Your Bliss (previously Suicide Redhead) mostly as a place to store my writing and also, perhaps, create conversations. More recently, I posted an essay “From Sex Addict to Monogamous Mom: A love junkie finds true love.” This essay was so well-received and handled with such care by my readers, that I felt inspired to create this FB page: FOR YOU! I want us to stay connected. :)

So….Feel free to “Like” the page to stay ‘in the know’ whenever I post a new blog, which is usually an essay I’ve written, a movie review, the latest goings-on in my life, a head’s up on any projects I’m working on, and sometimes poetry. :) I’d love to hear about how my stuff resonates with you, so leave your comments and let’s start and keep open-minded and respectful conversations.

Looking forward to the future.

Love & Hugs, Darrah xoxo

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Next Stop: Haircut!

Hey guys,

I am enjoying shorter blonde locks as of late, and thought I’d share them with you! :) I hope the holidays are treating you with grace, and that you have started thinking about what you want in the New Year!! Don’t forget to write down your hopes, dreams and even fears, so that you can tackle them and honor them and make sure 2016 is YOUR YEAR! I know you will.

Sending love!

Darrah xoxox

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From Sex Addict to Monogamous Mom: A love junkie finds true love

To Become a Mom, You Must First Stop Screwing All the Boys

By Darrah Le Montre
Edited by Megan Granger
 

First there was the waiter who lied and said he owned a health food restaurant. He broke up with me while his semen was still drying on my stomach. Then there were the couple of married guys whom I regretfully hooked up with. Though I didn’t sleep with them, I carried on emotional affairs with each for over a year. There was the mega-rich venture capitalist dying to be an actor, who was going through a horrendous custody battle and drank to cope. And of course the recovering alcoholic who was nine years my junior and relapsed after our first fight. Let’s not forget the Australian rock star who did coke off my bathroom

1counter and broke up with me over sushi while he was high. The list goes on and on. But you get the picture.

This barrage of unavailable men whom I pined for again and again proved so painful that I relapsed from twelve years of sobriety, missed work, under- and overate, and began such a strong love affair with my imagination that I took escapism to an out-of-this-world level. I fantasized about a future with these men that was crazy unlikely and would surely have been unsatisfying. Continually, I isolated myself from true friends and family. Bottom line: I stopped taking care of me and did everything in my power to care for those men for whom I was only one of many—an option, not a priority.

I was a love junkie. I was chronically obsessed with a carousel of fleeting romances and heart-wrenching trysts, always ready to saddle up to the next clone of my last “boyfriend.” I used to literally salivate while gossiping with girlfriends about my latest unavailable beau.

None of the men I thought I loved were really there for me, either. I was slipping into a hole, giving too much and needing affection they couldn’t give. But all along, I put on a happy face so they would stick around.

Why did I do that? Of course, I’m sure it had something to do with my formative years, growing up with an emotionally unavailable father, a mother who drinks. However, I tried to take the reins on my life. Always struggling with my weight, I finally got my disordered eating under control and took up running for my sanity. I lost thirty pounds that I kept off for two years. I ate up self-help books like PEZ Candy and journaled and spent time in nature for renewal. But I still chose poorly in the love department, and I still had nobody to call when something really great happened and I wanted a male voice on the other end of the line to tell me how wonderful that thing was.

Making matters worse, I couldn’t take a clue. Men had to practically shake me off of them. Sure, there were guys with whom I was the “unavailable” one, who felt strung along by me, whom played. However, there’s no denying that a stable of guys who had a stable of women on the side were the ones who endlessly attracted me, and it hurts to think that I wasted so much time on them.

That is, until I met my husband-to-be, Richard. How was he different? Let’s start with the fact that he was completely honest from Day 1 about who he was seeing when and how many women he was hooking up with. He let me know ahead of time if he was going to post a picture of himself with another woman on social media—partly because he knew that I wasn’t ready for monogamy and partly because he was. He didn’t want me to get upset that he was seeing other people, even though I was fully aware of it and was unready to commit to more than a couple of dates a week and a few phone calls here and there.

His friends tell me that early on he proclaimed, “She’s special. She’s not ready, but I don’t want to give up on her. I want to wait.”

And I was honest with him about the men I was seeing. Still we went out and had great fun together. He put zero pressure on me to hook up. That alone made him radically different from what I was used to. It enabled me to show him my true self, unencumbered by the vulnerability and web of complications that sex can weave. (The level of honesty we engaged in is perhaps not for everybody, but it was a springboard for our whole relationship.)

He called me when he said he was going to. That was a big one. He returned my calls in a timely fashion, even when he was busy. He was punctual for dates. He was respectful of what I wanted to do on outings. He listened and asked many questions about my life. He was nonjudgmental and seemed genuinely curious about me. When I told him I was a lesbian for much of my twenties, he didn’t switch gears into a lascivious heavy breather the way many others had before him. When I voiced private things about myself in bits and pieces, he didn’t press for more details. He respected the process of getting to know me. He didn’t pry but was gentle.

When I finally told him, “I like you,” he heard me and offered to 2be monogamous. But he didn’t require it. He said he wanted to make that commitment because he knew himself well. He knew his ability to shut down and “sample the buffet” of women in his life when shit got real. He chose to be fully available to me and not avail himself of other women when the going got tough, which the going inevitably does from time to time in a mature relationship. He didn’t run when I was hormonal or angry or irrational or said airhead things (sometimes it shocks me how smart and dumb I can be from one moment to the next).

Is our relationship perfect? No way! Do I say any of this to sound better than anybody else? Hell no. I divulge it because I’ve been through hell and back and I know what a dude who wants—and is ready for—a commitment feels like and what he doesn’t. I say it because I hate seeing people struggling to be seen and heard. Life is hard enough without having to barter and bargain and arm-wrestle for love.

We now have a beautiful baby daughter and live together in a new home we picked out together. I never would have imagined this would be my life by my midthirties. But it is. Through a process of realization, manifestation, prayer, self-love, fate, and embracing my difficult truths, I somehow ended up here. And it was hard-won.

The kind of life I have now is filled with the kind of love I always dreamed of but was unsure I could attain, to be honest. And it has changed my heart. It’s given me confidence I never had. There’s clarity in my decision making, because I have a purpose—my family. Being a mother is the most important role I’ll ever play. Being loved, and wanted, is a feeling I understand by heart now. There’s no dissimilarity between the life I want and the life I have. Living in the present moment is a choice, an act of faith I can fully embrace because I’ve known bitter and I’ve known sweet. Choices made in the past—walking into the fires of dangerous situations and the arms of dangerous men—by the grace of something greater than me, led me to the doorstep of my current life.

In fact, the level of honesty my mate and I share is peerless. And that’s the thing with available men. They don’t run when you show your true colors. They stick around to see what’s underneath the façade—the mask you wear in public versus the true you, revealed only in private.

Would I ever again throw myself at somebody who didn’t want me—be it a friend, an employer, or somebody else? I sure hope not. Despite the rush of butterflies that once followed contact with an unavailable man, those winged things ain’t got nothing on the life-changing impact of love and security.

——-

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Darrah Le Montre is a writer and journalist and devoted mom. Her work has been published by Marie Claire, Cosmopolitan and nudie blog SuicideGirls. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

[Photos by Christopher Medak. Bio photo by Michelle Nunes]

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Fade To Black: Amy Winehouse Documentary Will Break Your Heart

Screen Shot 2015-11-16 at 10.37.58 PM“Life teaches you how to live, if you live long enough.” Tony Bennett in AMY

Tonight, I watched the Amy Winehouse documentary, AMY about the life and death of jazz and neo-soul singer Amy Winehouse, directed by Asif Kapadia. The two-hour-doc is pieced together using sometimes shaky and ultra-closeup archival footage shot by her ex-manager and friend, Nick Shymanksy and ex-husband Blake Fielder. There was also a lot of paparazzi footage, which feels ironic and somewhat tragic given how the media tormented her. The story chronicles relevant dates. Concert dates, party dates, holidays, drug binges, award shows. There are never-before-heard songs and Amy narrates the journey from fourteen-year-old live wire raised by a single Jewish mother in London, to a six-time Grammy-winning vocal virtuoso.

Amy Winehouse was 27 when she died, on July 23rd. My birthday. For some reason, that always feels eerie–when you hear that someone died on the day you were born. You feel inextricably linked. Well, I already loved her music, her lyrics mostly and her voice: honest, gravelly, undulating into your flesh only to wrench your soul.

Amy struggled for years with bulimia and later alcohol and drug addiction. It feels too easy to blame her family, who she told about her eating disorders early on, and did nothing. It’s striking, however, how much those around her tried to fight and save this woman they called a friend, and loved so much.

The evening Amy Winehouse won five Grammy’s, including one win announced by her idol Tony Bennett (who she later recorded Grammy-winning “Body and Soul” with for Duets II), she told her friend Juliette Ashby something that shouldn’t have shocked me, but did. She said, “Julie, this is so boring without drugs.”

Going into watching this film, I was prepared to hate her allegedly money-grabbing, fame-whoring father, Mitch Winehouse; I was prepared to hate her ex-husband Blake Fielder for turning her onto crack and heroine–even injecting her in a hospital bed between doctor’s visits; I was prepared to cry and twinge in frustration and disgust at the demise of a star.

Instead, I was reminded of paparazzi field-days resulting in emblazoned headlines in major tabloids like The Sun. I was reassured that an addict can’t stop unless they’re ready, and even if they’re ready, they can be dragged down by their addict boyfriends. And that sometimes it takes three times and sometimes, even that doesn’t work. I felt an unexpected thickness to my skin. I didn’t cry. I felt consistently sad, but also in awe of Amy’s talent, her ferocious kindness and generosity, her open heart, her knowledge of jazz, her true friendships with artists like Mos Def and Questlove and her fallibility. At 27 she said goodbye to the world, but also goodbye to the pain and misery of living a life she wasn’t holding the reins to anymore. Spiraled out of control, she died the way she lived.

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Amy Winehouse became a thing. A thing to listen to. A thing for record company CEOs to sell. A thing for managers to carry, asleep, into a car headed to an airport, only to wake on a plane to Serbia for a concert. She became a thing to her husband: a gravy train. She became a thing to gawk at, as evidenced by the bronze and wax statues of her that have been erected. And she became a thing to herself. Unable to vocalize her needs, Amy became a dispensary of alcohol and drugs. Sometimes, even when she did speak up, such as the famed failed concert in Belgrade, which she begged to get out of, nobody listened. She rarely advocated for herself and few others did either. With an absentee father growing up, she spent a decade trying to make peace with men. Her tattoo “Daddy’s Girl” rang true, especially when she tried to pacify her father, who brought reality show cameras to St. Lucia during an extended detox vacation and then reprimanded her for not wanting to pose for a fan photo.

Amy Winehouse had an indelible effect on musicians like Adele, Lady Gaga, Florence Welch, Jessie J and Ellie Goulding. Her self-referential “Back to Black” was the final CD purchased before the last Tower Records in Israel closed. There is a mural of her in Barcelona, Spain. Still, amid her last words, she told her bodyguard and friend Andrew Morris that she would give away her gift of voice to be able to walk down the street and be left alone.

AMY has become the highest grossing British documentary film of all time, as it opened with a box office of £3 million on its first weekend.

Amy Jade Winehouse Born 14 September 1983  Died 23 July 2011 (aged 27)

Amy Jade Winehouse
Born 14 September 1983
Died 23 July 2011 (aged 27)

Are you a fan of Amy Winehouse? What legacy did she leave in your eyes? Share your thoughts in the comments.

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Thanks for reading.

Darrah x

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Why You Need a Health Coach Now!

This week, returning guest blogger Jennifer Sawyer schools us on what a health coach is and why they just may be the genie you’ve been waiting for in your weight loss journey!

by Jennifer Sawyer

super-grains

While it may seem as if modern society is overflowing with diet trends and hastily offered advice about nutrition, the truth is that we know more about these topics with each passing year. Certainly, there’s a great deal of debate surrounding individual foods or food groups. For example, some believe everybody would be better off going gluten free while others see this as a necessary step only for those with a gluten intolerance or sensitivity; there are always arguments over the pros and cons of regular dairy in a diet; and even professional nutritionists will disagree on occasion about how to incorporate healthy fats in a diet. Issues like these may cause disagreement, but don’t let that convince you that health and nutrition experts don’t know what they’re doing.

Unfortunately, we now live in a world where it’s easier to find processed foods and cheap junk items than natural ingredients and wholesome meals. For that reason, even those of us who feel fairly healthy and try to practice sound nutrition could stand to make a few changes. This is where a personal health coach can come in extraordinarily handy. If this idea appeals to you on any level, here are some specific benefits that coaching can offer:

For starters, a health coach provides individualized attention and accountability that you just can’t find on your own, or with any number of health and fitness apps. The important thing to realize is that using a health coach is not a sign that you can’t motivate yourself! Yes, there’s a certain sense of pride involved with going it alone. But really, even the most disciplined and focused individuals can benefit from training, scheduling, and general accountability. This is the sort of structure that you can gain working with a professional health coach, and it can absolutely help you to improve your nutrition habits, as well as your fitness. And that brings me to my next point…

health-coachIt’s not just about nutrition, at least if you go with a total health coach as opposed to strictly a nutritionist. A good professional health coach will develop a program designed to focus on your whole being, using nutrition strategies, exercise techniques, and even lifestyle changes to help you become the healthiest version of yourself. And again, this doesn’t mean you couldn’t do a perfectly adequate job on your own. But having an experienced professional develop a multi-faceted program designed to suit your body, emotions, and health needs is an unrivaled advantage.

If it feels like health and wellness are somewhat trendy in modern society, it’s largely due to the rise of professional health and nutrition coaches—and many of them started out just like you! Sometimes figuring out what works for you through your own health coach’s recommendations and a shifting approach over time can give you a true passion for the process. Many find that they feel so great after taking steps toward better overall health that they want to help others do the same, and thus new coaches are developed. This isn’t to say you have to ultimately become a health coach, but it’s a common benefit of the process.

By the way, many health coaches direct their clients to take regular health assessments at various intervals, to discover or confirm what may or may not be working. This type of accountability and one-on-one attention will make being conscious of your health, a more natural part of your regimen.

You can almost always do something to improve your total wellness, and it’s a lot easier and more effective when someone’s showing you the way!

sporty woman with scale, apple and measuring tapeJennifer Sawyer is a full-time student studying Public Health, and residing in Boston. She fills every free moment she has consuming coffee, writing to-do lists, and reading up on holistic health. Follow her on Twitter.

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Exit a Toxic Friendship in 5 Easy Steps!

Beware energy vampires! We’re onto you!

toxic-friendToxic friends are the worst. They drain you dry, talk endlessly about their drama and always have the most annoying boyfriends. If you’re all but done being a severed ear to a selfish friend, this list is for you! How do you shake these backstabbing creatures from your iPhone contacts list? Here are 5 steps to get to the “delete” button and get rid of a toxic friend!

  1. Decide whether the bad feelings outweigh the good: If they do, be strong in your decision to end the friendship and stick with it.
  2. Take responsibility and be a decent person: Call her up or Sit her down and explain why you are no longer happy in the friendship. *Don’t text her and don’t ignore her. If you prefer to write it out, consider an email, but know that it could be misconstrued and start a bitter back and forth.
  3. Use “I” statements: “I used to love talking with you, but now there’s no give and take.” “I don’t have the space I need to share my feelings because I don’t feel heard by you.” It sounds corny, but it works.
  4. Show Gratitude: Thank her for the good times and the instances she was there for you.
  5. Get closure: Write a goodbye letter (you don’t need to send it to her, but you can). In it, document the good times and your gratitude for the beginning—and the end—of your toxic friendship.

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You may feel great after you let go of a toxic friend, or you may feel guilty. This is the time to do some internal work and reach into your spiritual toolkit to find forgiveness. It may take some time. Try not to overthink all of the nasty things your friend did. Instead, work on manifesting a better friendship compass! Write down what you want in a friend, and then make an effort to find them!

~Best of luck on your journey to fabulous, fulfilling friendships!~

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Rules of Engagement

Five ways to make your engagement matter.

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You’re not single anymore and you’re not somebody’s girlfriend or boyfriend. You are engaged! It’s an exhilarating feeling. I’ve been engaged now for almost one year. Both my fiancée and I knew we wanted a long engagement. We’ve been together three years total and plan to marry sometime next year. We’re not in a rush to, and in fact, have really enjoyed being engaged! Here are five ways that we’ve made our engagement a special time—distinct from anything else.

  1. Your engagement is not a test-run for marriage. It’s a special time to celebrate the new commitment you and your partner have made to each other. Whether short or long, it is it’s own thing. Treat it as a gift and an opportunity to deepen your commitment and plan your wedding.

  2. Remember that it’s not about the ring; it’s about the person.

  3. Enjoy the many opportunities you’ll be presented with to say “fiancée” and don’t rush into wanting to be a bride or groom. You will (hopefully) have your whole life to be that!

  4. Breathe a sigh of relief that nobody is asking when you are finally tying the knot. You’re engaged! It shuts people up… for awhile, anyway. ;)

  5. Whether you live with your partner or not, commit to spending a certain number of nights together undistracted by Internet or other media. This will encourage intimacy—both physical and emotional, and train you both to make one another a priority, even when you’re busy.

  6. *Bonus tip: Consider adopting a rescue companion! This is a great way to begin “parenting” together and it inevitably prepares you and your partner for human babies, if you choose to have them!

Soon enough, you will be married. You’ll be happy that you cherished the time you spent while engaged, and hopefully, continue prioritizing each other, by spending designated time together, focusing on just the both of you!

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xDx

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