BY SHEILA TAM
It’s a new year and a new start: we get a fresh start every day, every week, every month, every year. Don’t worry if you don’t hit the ground running today, next week, or this month—your path is tied to your readiness and the best is yet to come.
“A life coach does for your life what a personal trainer does for your health and fitness.”—Elaine MacDonald
Sometimes we need a little nudge, a little help getting us closer to that awareness. A life coach is a companion on your path, a person who has experienced the same level of doubt and confusion and found a way to get through it day by day. I used to have a lot of doubt and confusion about my purpose and my future, and then I found life coaches who helped me clear out what wasn’t working for me to make room for more what was possible.
Think of a coach as a personal organizer of your mental space, like a designer of your home, helping you to reconfigure your furniture, find new décor, or new pieces of furniture all together. It’s still your home, your foundation, just a redesign of your space with a fresh perspective. Sometimes you might only be ready to declutter one room gently and maybe later you are ready to work on multiple rooms, or redesign your whole house. Each step in your process follows with more confidence. This is my role as a wellness designer, using multiple skills I have gathered over the past two decades to personalize your healing journey.
“Health is state of body. Wellness is a state of being.”—J. Stanford
What is wellness exactly? Wellness is the process of seeking more balance physically, spiritually, mentally, and socially by looking at your overall lifestyle. Trauma enters the body at different stages of your life and it impacts all of these areas. When one more of the areas becomes unmanageable, we fall out of balance. If left uncared for, this can result in chronic, debilitating issues. Pausing to look at your wellness blueprint will take a little bit of time but slowly we will uncover the leaks in your lifestyle and help to heal them so you can live your best life. That is what I am here for you to help you accomplish.
There are multiple ways that we can approach wellness, which may include massage, life coaching, integrative health coaching, and support choosing lab testing and supplements. During my time with clients, we develop a plan that best suits you. My skills encompass over two decades, with certifications in integrative health, life coaching, and yoga with a license in massage therapy, as well as a master of arts in teaching. Fusing together my background in education with my love of writing, curriculum planning, and integrative wellness, I have decided to dedicate this phase of my career to designing wellness packages to fit each client individually.
This ideas to blend a variety wellness avenues together came to fruition after years of focusing on my own personal growth during a time when my life fell out of balance and my marriage fell apart. I went from being a full-time stay-at-home parent to starting out a new career and living alone with three young children. I had to learn how to keep a budget and pay my bills on time, keep the house in order, and juggle clients in between carpools and after-school activities. The chaos was not only taxing on my body physically but mentally, and I started to show signs of burnout. I wasn’t happy. I didn’t know how to have fun, and I was always on edge. I discovered a life-coaching program and started putting the tools I learned to use to get myself out of debt from overspending. I found ways to earn extra income and once my debts were paid off, I began to spend more time doing things I enjoyed like reading, knitting, and brainstorming healthy recipes. It sounds simple but it took a lot of accountability from the life coaching community to stay steadfast with my goals.
“Everybody has a story. And there’s something to be learned from every experience.”—Oprah Winfrey
Finding coaches that were all-in with regards to supporting my goals was the vital to my growth process. Family and friends are important and can certainly be supportive but can be overly invested emotionally sometimes and not as conditioned to provide guidance on intentional goal-setting, which is why it is essential to have a life coach in your corner to assist you with your goals.
Did you know that 80% of people never set goals and of the 20% that do set goals, only 4% write them down? Of those 4%, only 1% actually reviews them daily? And that 1% makes 9 times more income! This is why setting goals is only one step in the process with a life coach. Having the mindset to integrate your goals into your daily patterns and keep them visible daily is the crux that pushes the average person into a high-achieving threshold where their ultimate value and purpose can be discovered.
“You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.”—C.S. Lewis
There are other components to the wellness model that work together to create a customized template for each person. As an integrative health practitioner, for example, I will help you to uncover exactly where your stress is coming from and take a closer look at your lifestyle habits to see how these habits might be undermining your goal setting. We will look at your food choices, sleep patterns, relaxation techniques, exercises habits, and health history for patterns that may be disrupting your lifestyle. Lab testing is great way to get more clarity on exactly where your body is at in the present moment, so you know exactly what supplements your body needs.
I also have a background in teaching yoga and meditation and work with clients on breathing techniques and basic stretches. Many people in the North Shore community know me as a massage therapist, where I’ve been know to incorporate cupping, reiki, and craniosacral therapy techniques into clinical massage sessions. My approach is very unconventional in that I use my skills to guide my intuition during each interaction I have with a client. This is where the magic happens. The more time I have with a client, the more I tap into their energy and needs naturally and this is where true healing happens.
“The natural healing force in each of us is the greatest force in getting well.”—Hippocrates
In fitting New Year’s fashion, I’ve created a Top 10 list of tips you can start today to get your wellness on track for 2021:
1. Go to bed earlier (10 pm is optimal). If you are a night owl, gradually move towards 10 pm in 15-minute increments. You catch a second wind just before 11 pm, which actually interferes with your body’s detoxification process. Even if you can’t fall asleep at 10 pm, be in bed with minimal lighting and no electronics. Your body will gradually acclimate to a new sleep cycle.
2. Wake up 15 minutes earlier. You will notice your day feels a lot more productive! Once you master 15 minutes, challenge yourself to wake up another 15 minutes earlier. The optimal time to wake up is just before or around 6 am (8 hours of sleep total is the goal).
3. Get a fun, decorative water bottle and refill it at each mealtime. Drink from the water bottle at least one hour after each meal and finish it at least 30 minutes prior to your next meal. This will keep you hydrated and “full” in between meals and not interfere with your Often times when we think we are hungry, we are really just dehydrated.
4. Have a morning routine. Start out the first 15-30 minutes of your day with a routine (journaling, hot beverage, light walk, stretching, meditating, reading). Try to stay off your devices (and email) as much as possible. This is your morning “anchor.” When you start out with a solid anchor each morning, everything else falls into place and you feel a lot more confident and calm moving into your day.
5. Stop eating at 7 pm and wait 10-12 hours before eating again. You should stop eating at least 2-3 hours before bedtime to allow your food to digest. Your body needs a period of rest to do a deeper clean, and you will sleep better without filling up before bed. Late-night snacking is the biggest culprit in weight gain, not to mention sugar levels. Get in the habit of having your last meal of the day between 5 and 7 pm. If that is not always possible, keep your last meal as clean as possible with a fortified smoothie or nice plate of cooked vegetables with a small protein.
6. Visualize your day before you go to sleep. Visualize yourself waking up at your ideal time, doing your morning routine, and then walk through the entire day visualizing your work tasks, meetings, meals, commutes, errands, family time, and bedtime. Visualize this with a feeling of accomplishment and seamlessness and watch what happens the next day! We program our minds before bed and have an incredible capacity to manifest success all on our own.
7. There is so much research behind the connection between meditation and health. It increases your focus, creativity, overall happiness, and helps with stress as your cortisol levels rise throughout the morning. The best times to meditate are first thing in the morning or just before bed, however a mid-day meditation is also very good if you are feeling off and need to recalibrate. Even just closing your eyes for 5 minutes and breathing is a great start, moving towards 15-20 minutes gradually.
8. Have an evening/bedtime “anchor.” End your day in a similar way each night. Dim the lights, have your favorite book on your nightstand, sip a warm mug of tea, meditate, listen to some soothing music. Avoid the news or dramatic TV shows. This will make you anxious and leave you feeling alert and unable to sleep. Diffusing essential oils and taking a nice bath are also nice ways to self-soothe after a stressful See if you can store your devices away from your bed.
9. Program your phone/devices to shut off by 10 pm. This will automatically deter you from the temptation to text and surf the Internet. Most smartphones have a settings feature where you can shut down your phone and customize your apps to your own schedule (for example, adjusting your settings to close everything down between 10 pm-6 am). I recommend this for teens especially!
10. Commit to regular exercise. Twenty minutes a day 3-4 times a week is a great start. You don’t need to push your body to extremes. Start with a power walk and get a fitness tracker to track your steps (10,000 steps a day is optimal). When you are ready for more, invest in a personal trainer or an online fitness app with live and recorded classes. Keep it simple!
BONUS TIP: Hire a wellness coach to help you develop a plan to achieve your goals and help you stay on track. This is will speed up your process of personal growth and keep you accountable!
Now, it’s your turn. What are you going to do to shift the needle in your life this year? Not sure where to start? Check out some of our upcoming workshops below or reach out to me via my website and let’s schedule a time to chat virtually with a nice cup of tea. Remember, your healing journey begins with one simple step, starting with today.
“The wound is the place where the Light enters you.”—Rumi
Wednesday January 20th
Sole-Luna (Wellness Studio, Winnetka): Finding Your Purpose, 7-8:30 pm
Saturday February 6th, 13th, 20th
Sole-Luna (Wellness Studio, Winnetka): Wellness 101 Series (3-parts), 9 am-10:30 am
Sign up at sole-luna.com/workshops.
Sheila Tam is a wellness coach practicing massage and integrative health. For more information on her services, please visit sheilafoxtam.com. She can also be found on Instagram (@wellnessdesignercoach) and Facebook (@sheilafoxtamcoaching).