declutter main photo

Coach Dan’s Tips to Overcoming Clutter

Navigating twists and turns in life often come with a mix of unexpected challenges. Today, we’re diving into the nuance of change, overcoming resistance, and using a clutter-free mindset to navigate the unexpected.

Meet Dan Faley, a wellness coach in our Chicago center with a rich background in psychology, sports, and various health positions. He draws from unique experiences to find a blend between instinctual and science backed approaches to help members achieve a wellness path that’s right for them. From playing college baseball to working in mental health and neurophysiology, we see how his journey and experiences have shaped his perspectives. 

In our chat with Coach Dan, we’re reminded of the power of our uniqueness, and how trusting our instincts can guide us on what matters most. This approach leads to the most powerful aligned actions on our journey. With a more humble approach, Coach Dan also gives us that much needed reminder that despite our differences, we all share common ground. Looking at the world through a lens of compassion is how we can start to truly connect, and let go of a need to please! As we dive into his perspectives on change, resilience, and clutter-free living, we’re given his personal guide to navigating life’s twists.

Dan’s Guide to Decluttering:

1. Embrace Your Uniqueness:  

Embrace what makes you… you! Embracing what makes you tick uniquely is the key to personalizing your journey with distinct elements that make your wellness journey uniquely yours.

2. Decluttering Clears Your Path:

Once you can focus on what matters, learn to let go. Tidying up your space will work wonders for your mind. Both mentally and physically, Dan suggests using a Mari Kondo approach as one of the most powerful tools to combat stress, regain focus, and leave the monkey mind behind.

3. When You Take on Too Much, Check if You Feel Like Enough: 

No matter who you are, where you come from, what your life experiences, what your situation is, you deserve happiness. Understand your limits, don’t bite off more than you can chew. To prioritize your well being, first embrace your self worth independent of what you provide for others.

4. Trust Your Instincts: 

Your instincts are pretty sharp, so listen to them! Validate and trust your instincts for refined decision-making and heightened self-awareness. Otherwise, dismissing your gut feelings may lead to disconnection to yourself and regret in the future.

5. Be Humble, We’re More Alike Than We are Different: 

Take your business seriously, but don’t take yourself too seriously! Leave room for error, play, and a curiosity of other approaches. Remember that we’re all in this together; Recognize shared humanity, focusing on common ground, and maintaining humility in life’s challenges.

Wellness journeys are very personal adventures, so every step taken with self-trust is a victory in itself! Whether it’s learning to let go of made-up obligations, navigating life changes, or simply tuning into your instincts, you have the strength to make shifts and create the change you need. So, begin letting go and tuning in. Embrace your uniqueness and with a little self-trust, and rest assured that not only are you capable of achieving the wellness you deserve- you’re already on the right track.

Interview Transcript

Sydney: Dan, thank you so much for being here with me today. Could you please introduce yourself and what you do here in the world of ZOE Wellness? 

Dan: Okay, great! Yeah, I’m Dan, Daniel Faley. and I’m a wellness coach here at Zoe wellness, also the service director for the Chicago market. I have a degree in psychology from Southern Illinois University in Carbondale. I also played college baseball. So I have a sports background and grew up playing sports. You know, I became interested in the marriage of sports and psychology, working with sports psychologists and doing a lot of operations for games for goal setting, but I always had a passion for health and fitness. After graduation, I worked as a mental health counselor with all sorts of populations. I’ve worked in other mental health spaces with more high risk people, I worked in community health, I worked in care management, in weight loss, I also worked in the operating rooms as a neurophysiology technologist monitoring brain and spine surgery. So I have a pretty well rounded background in various health positions. And I like to bring knowledge from all areas of study in my background to help Zoe members achieve optimal wellness. it’s different for everybody, you know, some people may require information. Some people may require motivation or the development of a belief in themselves. It’s different for everyone, so I draw from my various backgrounds and apply that so they can gain optimal wellness.

Sydney: Right! everyone’s unique, there’s no one size fits all diet, plan, lifestyle, mental framing-
As someone deeply invested in motivation and mindset and helping others
How do you personally stay motivated to continue making positive changes in your life?

Dan: Well, one thing I do is have an exercise routine I do every day. I have mindfulness practice, I focus on deep breathing. I read a lot and listen to a lot of podcasts. I try to stay up to date on neuroscience, habits, and wellness, everything from nutrition to, you know, daily practices. I’ve cultivated some incredible resources I follow daily and it’s something I really enjoy. So if I’m washing dishes or working out, I listen to podcasts that help keep me motivated, and it’s just part of my daily routine. It’s part of my lifestyle. I don’t even have to think about it anymore. You know, it’s so deeply ingrained in me and who I am that it just comes naturally and then if there’s something relevant that I can pick up from a podcast or an article, then I try to incorporate . Especially if I can better assist somebody with some more recent knowledge.

Sydney: Amazing, you really do a lot. Do you ever feel like you’ve taken on too much? 

Dan: Yeah, and for everybody, that can happen. Certainly, that’s something to be aware and mindful of. I know in the past working in Psych hospitals, double shifts, you know, that was something that I was prone to, but just having greater awareness of that, and just having practices, that doesn’t happen very often. I’m able to manage that pretty effectively these days. I’m able to keep things in perspective to not become overwhelmed. Whereas in the past I think I was more prone to becoming overwhelmed in situations like that. Yeah.

Sydney: In this article, this series of interviews and blogs, we’re talking a lot about the concept of clutter. Right? physical clutter, how that can have an influence on mental clutter or overwhelm and vice versa, you know, how your mental space can depict what your living space will look like, too. I personally am very routine driven. Oftentimes in the face of changing circumstances, A lot of little factors, clutter, overwhelm, can rear its head and throw you off your game. Could you share with me, your internal experience with that, the challenges, and how you overcome the resistance to change?

Dan: Yeah, Clutter can be can create unnecessary stress or anxiety, like if your workspace is cluttered. Research is pretty clear on that, just by cleaning up your workspace, it can allow you to focus on the task at hand and in reducing anxiety. Believe me, I used to have a pretty messy desk and I’ve learned that just having what I need for the task allows me to focus better and definitely reduce my stress. So that’s one small example. But I mean, that can spill over into having a messy home that can create mental chaos, so just trying to be tidy can really bring a sense of calm and, and yeah, I do believe in that.

People become overwhelmed when they have multiple challenges, right. You may have heard the term monkey mind. you know, not a technical term, but in order to calm the “monkey mind”, we really have to focus, whether it’s breathwork or prayer meditation, to bring that down and also focus on those things that you have control over. I know it sounds cliche, but it’s so true. 

You know, so many people worry about things they have absolutely no control over, so it’s important to focus on the things you can control and not to worry about those other things that you have no control over. Develop some sort of mindfulness or practice like deep breathing to bring a sense of calm and focus. When we’re stressed and our cortisol levels are high, the activity leaves our prefrontal cortex and goes to the back of the brain, you know, the amygdala, the fight or flight or freeze response. So we don’t do high level thinking when we’re stressed, we don’t make good decisions when we’re stressed. That and that could factor into decisions about food, right? People talk about stress eating, you know, you’re grabbing the bag of chips, you’re not really thinking about it. You just start crunching. If you’re able to de-stress and calm down, You’re able to think more clearly about anything including eating. Surround yourself with things that you enjoy, things that bring you joy. I was speaking with a member recently and she said that she, like she had a birthday coming up and she requested two family members to give her I don’t know, like a coffee mug so that every time she took a sip of coffee from that mug, she would think of that person so that that became part of her regular environment, because it brought joy if she thought about the thoughtfulness of that other person. At the surface it may seem like requesting gifts may not be thoughtful but it is because she’s remembering and appreciating those people who gave her those things. That’s something that she said that she does in her daily life and I thought that was pretty special.

Sydney: How does your mindset contribute to your approach in letting go of things that aren’t working for you?

Dan: I’ve been just recognizing, a lot of things become habits whether it’s an automatic behavior or automatic thought. You know, once you practice them regularly it just becomes second nature and you don’t really have to think about it as much. I’ve developed that mental habit at a gut level. If things are not working, I’ll feel something at a gut level, like there’s almost a physical sort of sensation in the body where if something isn’t working, then it will alert me. So let’s figure out what that is. And let’s identify it and then try to figure out a way to make a change. It’s like your instincts. It’s a visceral reaction.

Sydney: If someone is learning how to trust their gut, how could they start cultivating that? 

Dan: Well, and one thing I’ve noticed in myself, I usually have really good instincts, but I wouldn’t listen to them. I would dismiss them like “I’m just being irrational,” or maybe I thought I was misreading the situation, but almost all the time my instincts were correct. They were spot on, but I dismissed them. Then over time, I just started validating them. I mean, I knew they were valid, but it took a while to really recognize that a lot of those were actually valid instincts, and then I started listening to them more. In times when I’ve gone against my gut, I’ve regretted it, you know, and regret is a horrible thing. So just, I think have faith that your gut is actually telling you something, and that it’s valid. 

Sydney: We can go through life feeling like we can’t trust ourselves, But as spiritual people, and instinctual beings, we really do have kind of a radar that we can tune back into. 

Dan: Yeah, we can. And I know I’m and believe me, I’m no master of quantum physics but that comes into play. There’s some neuroscience that comes into play as well. I mean, I can’t really speak about the studies that have been on this right now but let’s say you’re on the subway, and you just get this sensation, like, you might be in danger Out of nowhere and you’re not consciously aware of why that could be. But there’s something developing near you, so always be aware of that and pay attention. There’s really something to that. I know you’re a dog lover, so am I. You know how our pets can detect certain things about people. They’re great judges of character, right. I know my dog would growl, and my dog was the friendliest dog in the world. But once in a while they would kind of growl at somebody and there was a reason for it. You know, there were people that maybe didn’t have the best intentions, so if animals can detect it  so can we. I mean, we’re animals too.

Sydney: I think those instincts and gut feelings can come into play with approaching life changes too. What are common challenges you see, with our members coming in as they’re making a big choice that would lead to change?

Dan: There’s so many challenges, you know. Sometimes people just don’t want to change what they’re doing. They want change, but not the work to get those changes. Sometimes people just don’t think that they can achieve that goal. Get off their medication, get down to a goal weight, whatever that is. Sometimes they just deep down don’t believe in themselves. So I try to really focus on that and focus trying to get them to believe in themselves and believe that they’re capable and deserving of those changes that they want. Some people, it could be a work schedule. They may work 12 hour days and it could be the logistics, like how to best schedule your meals and take the supplements and so I try to help them schedule those logistics. Some people may have a family member or a spouse who’s not supportive. You know, there’s so many different, different challenges.

Sydney: What practical tips would you offer to someone who feels like they’ve spread themselves way too thin in life? They are just taking on too much, biting off more than they can chew, and now trying to juggle it all.

Dan: Well, try to slow things down and identify things that are absolutely necessary. They may be, you know, taking in too many things that really aren’t important for them personally. So try to eliminate some of those things to get life a little bit more manageable. Maybe logistically, scheduling things better. Food prep on a day when they have more time, prepare meals in advance so that when they are overwhelmed, they’re able to just take this meal that’s ready for them and heat it up versus going through the drive thru. Focus on some sort of relaxation technique or meditation, slow down the thoughts, relax.

Sydney: Why do you think we do that though? Why do you think people take on too much?

Dan: Well, I mean, there are a number of reasons but one reason why I think people who take on too much is they really do care about other people, they may want to take care of parents or children, siblings, spouses, other people, you know, they just have a good heart and want to do as much as they can for other people. Sometimes they may feel that it’s a way of validating themselves, maybe they don’t feel like they’re a good person, or meaningful unless they’re doing all these different things to contribute. There’s so many reasons why people may take on too much. Sometimes it may be out of necessity, let’s say somebody has three jobs just to get by and they’re paying medical bills and things like that. They may be really overwhelmed in that way. So, there are so many reasons, but it’s important to identify what’s absolutely necessary, what’s frivolous and what we can cut out to make things more manageable.

Sydney: From your years of experience, what have you learned through helping other people?

Dan: I think I’ve learned more from people that I’ve taught, actually. You never know what someone else may be going through, everybody’s going through something, and you just don’t know what that is or how it affects their behavior. But we really are more alike than we are different. Focusing on the common ground and just being human I think is so important. Always be humble, and always treat people with respect and dignity. I mean, it all starts there. Establishing that connection, that rapport, that relationship, and letting people know that you really do care. You have their back no matter what, and they’re free to express themselves. Honestly, I think that’s a healthy way to start. Never take things too personally or take yourself too seriously either. Take the business at hand seriously, but don’t take yourself too seriously. 

Sydney: Any last advice or thoughts you’d like to share? Perspectives you’d encourage someone to adopt?


“No matter who you are, where you come from, what your life experiences, what your situation is, you deserve happiness. 
You deserve wellness, and you have what it takes to achieve that.”

Do you have one wellness tip or personal insight you’re taking away from this journey?
Join us in building out ZOE Wellness Online Community by leaving a comment below or call to take the next step on your journey today!

ben and sydney blog

Transform Your Mindset

Health Consultant Ben Tule on Navigating Personal Growth

Embarking on a journey of self-improvement is more than just reaching a destination—it’s about having a strategy, adopting the right mindset, and having a support system. Join Sydney as she sits down with Ben, one of the leading consultants at the Zoe Wellness Center Headquarters, to ask about Ben’s secrets to staying inspired, overcoming challenges, and nurturing a growth mindset. Together, they dive into decluttering life, setting priorities, and embracing compassion. Let’s see how Ben turns aspirations into reality.

Interview Transcript:

Let’s dive in! I’d like to kick it off with how you maintain motivation while making positive changes. How do you personally keep yourself inspired?

To stay motivated, I need to surround myself with people who have the same goals as me. I intentionally surround myself with success-oriented friends. The company you keep is crucial; as the Bible says, “bad company corrupts good character.” So, aligning myself with those who share a similar definition of success is key. Now, a second thing I do to stay motivated involves social media. I often come across things that are encouraging, inspiring, and motivating. I save them, but the crucial part is revisiting them. I let each impactful message sink in and then apply it. Given my busy weekdays, I commit to this process on weekends, particularly on Saturday or Sunday mornings. It’s about blocking out that time intentionally.

Exploring deeper into times of significant change, what goes on in your head during challenges, and how you overcome resistance?

Whether the change is positive or not, it’s about recognizing what I can control and what I can’t. For things within my control, I focus on managing them, especially with what I can do short-term. However, there are some things, maybe long-term, that need to be put on the shelf for now. It’s a matter of not worrying about those far off stressors right at this moment. I think you can apply that towards anything negative or positive, where there’s lots of changes coming up. Look and see what is in your power to be able to control. It’s a delicate balance of addressing what is actionable now and acknowledging what can wait. For someone like me, who tends to be rigid, it’s vital to also embrace flexibility. Being flexible is key.

You mentioned “putting it on the shelf,”  as if the different factors create life clutter. How do you “declutter” your life?

When you have life changes going on, sometimes there are just so many moving parts. There are certain things that have to be done now. In such cases, I prioritize the immediate tasks, those that need attention in the short term. On the other hand, there are certain things, more long-term in nature, that need to be put on that mental shelf. It’s like focusing on one goal at a time. This is vital for avoiding anxiety or feeling overwhelmed. Recognize what needs attention now and what can wait. It’s about putting things on the shelf that can wait – not just postponing and pushing things off, but pausing to intentionally set aside stressors that don’t require immediate attention. This allows me to focus on what truly matters.

How does your growth mindset contribute to this approach?

Personal growth requires being open to change. I think it’s important to look at people that you admire and their characteristics you want to emulate. It’s a process, you say, “ that’s the style that I like, that’s what I want to be able to do.” and then see if you can follow that. It’s about evolving and embracing challenges. It involves recognizing the need to adapt. Not to mimic them entirely but to adapt strategies that match those goals. To be able to incorporate that in your style, according to how you achieve things.

What common challenges do you see people facing when making significant life changes?

I think that a lot of it is going to be fear. Especially fear of failure or the unknown. Identifying and understanding these fears is crucial. So I think you got to understand where people are coming from. Each individual brings unique concerns- health, relationships, finances. Tailoring the approach to address their unique fears and challenges enhances the support I try to give to people that come in.

For those feeling overwhelmed, what practical tips do you offer to regain balance?

The key is to slow down. I think we can go back to what I said before about recognizing if it is absolutely necessary right now. Evaluate and prioritize tasks based on urgency. Recognize the need to handle one thing at a time rather than attempting to manage everything simultaneously. Scheduling tasks, setting deadlines, and approaching them with a system that works for you.

Thank you for that. Finally, what have you learned through helping others?

So what I’ve learned from helping other people is that you just have to really look at each person as the individual they are, and be compassionate. Think about where they’re coming from. A lot of times, I think it’s about just listening to what’s happening in that person’s life. To help someone you have to genuinely understand the need and how are you going to do that unless you listen. Right? Because you only have your own perspectives to weigh in. Yeah, we’ve really got to learn to just slow down, stop talking and start listening. Because we are programmed to want to fix stuff and check off a list, because that’s how we feel like we’ve contributed. But sometimes it’s not a matter of just checking off the list, it’s a matter of getting in there and just listening. You could talk to your significant other, and she doesn’t want you to fix it. She just wants to know somebody’s gonna listen.


In this enlightening conversation, Ben shares his insights on maintaining motivation when life throws you curveballs. From creating a success-driven environment to addressing challenges, he reveals practical strategies for navigating change. The growth mindset takes the spotlight, guiding us to explore how fear often hides behind our desire to transform. Unpacking life’s complexities, Ben emphasizes slowing down, assessing priorities, and facing one challenge at a time. Lastly, delve into the lessons Ben has gained from helping others, highlighting the transformative power of compassionate listening.


1. Curate Your Circle:
Surround yourself with individuals who share your definition of success and value the journey. Having morals and values that match yours is the key to seeing the success you want.

2. Don’t Be Afraid to Put a Pin in It :
Distinguish between short-term and long-term priorities, focusing on what can be controlled in the moment. Take it one thing at a time.

3. Embrace a Growth Mindset:
Open yourself to change, learn from successful individuals that inspire you, and confront challenges with adaptability.

4. Fear, The Silent Player:
Understand and address the fears that hinder progress, recognizing that everyone’s journey is unique.

5. Unpack the Overstuffed Suitcase:
Slow down, prioritize, and tackle challenges in a way that works for you.

6. The Art of Compassionate Listening:
When guiding others, be a compassionate companion—sometimes, a listening ear is more powerful than a solution mindset.

Ben’s practical tips cut through the noise. Whether you’re facing a career shift or just need a spark of inspiration, this conversation serves as a compass, guiding you towards a more empowered and intentional existence. Let the adventure begin!

What resonated most with you in Ben’s approach to navigating challenges? Share your thoughts or experiences in the comments below!


Cherry Secrets: Tiny Treats with Big Benefits

They say good things come in small packages, and for cherries, that couldn’t be more true! They’re packed with punch after punch of health benefits – not to mention, they’re so sweet! Delicious, and healthy?! It may seem too good to be true, but science stands behind the magic. Let’s dive in and discover what gives these berries the best of both worlds.

First, let’s have a little history lesson! Cherries first made its debut in Western Asia, then traveled to Eastern parts of Europe before becoming one of the largest producers in North America. Over the years as they’ve bounced all around, cherries have also become popular as home remedies for reducing pain and inflammation, and symptoms of gout.  But that’s not the only thing that cherries are good for.

Cherries’ high Vitamin C content is absolutely essential for immune support. For those who don’t care for bananas, cherries are able to support reaching your daily potassium intake, while also providing a good source of fiber. They’re natural sources of sugar and carbs, but not high enough in carbs that it would interrupt those adopting a low carb diet the way that grapes, mango, pineapple, and other sweet fruits would. Like we said, punch after punch! 

Did you know that different colored cherries also have distinct tastes? This may come as no surprise, like apples getting sweeter the more ripe they become. But rather than ripeness depicting the flavor, Cherries stand out with rich sources of potent anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, which contribute to their vibrant colors. There’s a difference in acidity and sugar levels, and with that in mind, it seems that those different colors can signify different benefits as well!

Finding the Right Cherries

Bright, Bold, and Tangy


  • Sleep: 

Turns out you can also skip the “warm glass of milk” and opt for cherries instead to promote a good night’s restespecially if insomnia gives you trouble.

  • Sore Muscles: 

Next time you hit the gym, drink tart cherry juice to prepare for your workout! Not only have studies suggested that there is an improvement in soreness of muscles, but there may even be an improvement in endurance as well.

If you need a bit of colon support, and want to ensure your gut flora is supported in efficient ways, don’t knock tart cherry juice before you try it!

  • Weight Loss Support: 

The fiber in cherries helps with feelings of satiation, and studies even show that cherries are beneficial for those making lifestyle adjustments for Diabetes Type 2, with effects on heart health and high blood pressure too! 

In the Kitchen:
Savory dishes like our Cherry Wine Sauce benefit best with tangy and tart cherries, and you’ll also want to opt for this option. Tart cherries are also great for baking needs, and any canning, spreads, and preserves!

Dark, Deep, and Very Sweet


  • Antioxidants and Vitamin C: 

For those not on the antioxidant bandwagon: Compounds in cherries help in fighting off the free radicals that damage cells and create oxidative stress. Anti-pain and reduced inflammation- it’s like bubble wrap for inflammation! 

  • Cancer Prevention: 

Prolonged, constant oxidative stress in the body contributes to an endless list of diseases: cancer, diabetes, organ disease – Sweet cherries specifically have been shown to support the prevention of cancer with the abundance of compounds called phenols and anthocyanins. Literally, they’ve watched malignant transformations slow down at a cellular level

Over the decades, our ability to think, process, and remember requires support to keep our minds sharp. There are many studies showing improved working memory benefits from tart cherry juice, both on experiments with rats and real clinical trials with small groups of people

In the Kitchen:
If you want that very berry cherry flavor, definitely opt for sweet cherries! They’re great for salads, and of course a sundae topper (you’ve got to try our cottage cheese ice cream)!

When asking if one is better than the other, it seems tart cherries win! But for that shirley temple recipe, you may end up choosing something sweeter. Still, whether you’re savoring the tangy twist of tart cherries or indulging in the dark side (too cheesy?), these delights offer a medley of unique flavors, antioxidants, vitamin C, and fiber. Not only that, they do so without triggering the same insulin reactions that super sweet fruits would. So, the next time you put a cherry on top, cherish not only the taste but also the wave of benefits it brings.

3 ways powerful connection

The Power of Connection: 3 Ways to Realign Your Relationships

In the season of love, the air becomes sweeter, and our hearts are in full bloom. With heartfelt gestures and grand plans to celebrate our fondest relationships, we’re reminded of the influence that our connections have in our lives. A comforting embrace from your partner, sweet memories shared with a best friend, or the encouragement from a supportive group—these moments add flavor to our lives! Could it be that these simple joys—connection, belonging, and community—are keys to a more deeply fulfilled life?

“A dream you dream alone is only a dream. 
A dream you dream together is reality.”
 – John Lennon

We all crave love and togetherness; it’s in our blood (and more literally… our brain)! When we bond, cuddle, or engage in deep conversations, our bodies are flooded with “the love hormone” Oxytocin, boosting feelings of trust and intimacy. [5] It soothes us, brings us together, and motivates us to invest more time in our bonds. While Oxytocin reinforces our desire to nurture good relationships, a deeper drive for connection goes beyond mere brain chemistry.

When it came to survival as a species, the ability to rely on one another was the difference between life and death. Granted, we don’t need to double-check that our friend is picking the non-poisonous berries, or trying to decide on the best hunting partner to help bring a mammoth home for dinner. Yet, I think it’s all a testament that time and time again, the way that our relationships align with us can make or break our growth.

Have you ever noticed how couples sometimes begin to talk alike and share mannerisms? Our connections are more than just companionship; they are mirrors reflecting who we are and who we aspire to be. 

As Jim Rohn famously said, “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” So, you are what you eat, and you are who you meet? With that perspective, it means that when we invest an abundance of our time into connections that aren’t right for us, it’s like having a diet full of indulgent foods. We exchange perspectives, share meals, offer advice, and invest in each other’s well-being. How essential it is, then, to surround ourselves with those whose personalities, values, and aspirations align with our own!

3 Ways to Realign Your Relationships:

1. Plan Meaningful Activities
Strengthen your connection through shared experiences! Change up the pace, and plan new activities to create unique memories together. It could be a movie night, a workshop, a weekend getaway, or something random you draw from a hat. Create a fun experience to foster a sense of camaraderie and ensure your connections are filled with laughter and positive energy. [1]

2. Talk about Recent Goals and Accomplishments
Take your aligned aspirations and values a step further by creating an atmosphere focused on encouraging each other’s growth. Every so often, talk about goals from the past period, celebrate achievements, and provide encouragement for each other. Whether it’s fitness, career, recent struggles, or personal growth, these talks allow you to really support each other’s journeys.[2]

3. Talk Value!
Sharing something you appreciate about each other, and something that makes you feel connected to them. It can be a trait, a recent action, or even a fond memory. This strengthens your bond, gives insight into love languages, and ensures you both feel valued and understood. [3]

They say that you are a reflection of the company you keep. Being intentional about your values guiding how you choose and build relationships ensures that when you look in your “relationship” mirrors, you recognize yourself.  As we celebrate love and connection this month, let us cherish the relationships that nourish our souls and strive to cultivate deeper connections in the days ahead. Remember, the power of connection lies not only in companionship, but also in the core of connection itself.



Boundaries are often misconstrued as something that keeps people out of our lives, but the truth is: establishing healthy boundaries is what strengthens our relationships. It allows us to take responsibility for our own behaviors, and to let others do the same.

Boundaries define us. They define what is me and what is not me. A boundary shows me where I end and someone else begins, leading me to a sense of ownership. Knowing what I am to own and take responsibility for gives me freedom. Taking responsibility for my life opens up many different options. Boundaries help us keep the good in and the bad out. Setting boundaries inevitably involves taking responsibility for your choices. You are the one who makes them. You are the one who must live with their consequences. And you are the one who may be keeping yourself from making the choices you could be happy with. We must own our own thoughts and clarify distorted thinking.”
― Henry Cloud

There are a few different types of boundaries we want to dig into:

1. Physical/Body

This is the easiest type of boundary to understand. It relates to our personal space, and the power we have over our own bodies. Everyone has different levels of comfort when it comes to physical boundaries – some people are huggers, kissers and hand-holders, while other people do not like to be touched by others at all (especially in public).

When your physical boundaries are crossed, it can feel like you don’t have ownership over your own body. This can range in severity, but is one of the most basic acts of abuse when taken too far.

Please note that if you or anyone you know is being physically abused, help is always available. The National Domestic Violence Hotline is open 24 hours a day and 7 days a week. Their phone number is 800-799-7233, or you could simply text START to 88788.

Physical boundaries are also related to taking care of your physical needs like needing rest, food or water. Some examples of ways to implement your physical boundaries are:

– “I’m not a big hugger. I’m more of a handshake person”
– “I don’t want you to touch me like that.”
– “I feel tired. I am going to rest for a little while.”
– “I am allergic to ___, so I can’t have that in my home.”
– “I’m hungry. I’m going to get something to eat.”
– “If my door is closed, knock before walking in.”

2 .Emotional/Feelings

Our feelings are our bodies signaling to us how we are doing. They are like the “check engine” light in our cars. When we feel angry or sad about something, that is our body signaling to us that something isn’t right. This gives us an opportunity to pinpoint what is going on and make whatever changes that are necessary to improve our situation. It is important for us to remember that we are responsible for our own feelings, and it is also important for us to remember that we are not responsible for the feelings of others.

This doesn’t mean it’s okay to be hurtful on purpose, but it does mean that you shouldn’t let someone else’s feelings keep you from doing what you believe to be right. When we neglect our own feelings and take on the responsibility of others, we are crossing both our own boundaries and theirs. It is when we take ownership over our own feelings, and are able to stay honest with others that we are capable of creating meaningful relationships with depth.

3. Financial

 Have you ever had someone ask you to borrow money? Or have you been asked out to fancy dinners, bachelor/bachelorette parties, or other social events that you did not have the budget for? When we decline these offers to protect our financial assets, we are setting a healthy boundary. Financial health looks different to everyone but remember to not feel guilty when you are protecting yours. Also, if you are planning your next birthday trip to Cabo – don’t take it personally if a friend or a relative has to decline your invitation.

4. Intellect/Thoughts

Intellectual boundaries include our thoughts and beliefs. When we own our own thoughts, we are establishing our own identity. We have a right to believe in what we choose, and a right to change our minds when we choose. We cross this boundary when we take responsibility for someone else’s thoughts or dismiss them altogether.

It’s important to remember that establishing healthy boundaries is an act of kindness. If doing this is something you have not put thought into before, it might not feel that way at first. It might be uncomfortable to speak up for yourself when you feel like your boundaries are being crossed, or to not be available to a friend when you are in the middle of your own crisis. The truth is:  people who love you will want to know when you are feeling hurt or overwhelmed. If you hide those feelings from your loved ones, you are not giving them a chance to love you in return. Neglecting yourself to show up for others could also lead to resentment and frustration, which will drive a wedge in your relationships.

Remember to have some grace for yourself, though.

The idea is to treat our friends and our neighbors the same way we treat ourselves, and vice versa! Because when we take care of ourselves, we are capable of truly being there for others. Also, when someone seems to be setting a boundary with you – try not to take it personally. When we learn to respect what others need, our relationships have the opportunity to flourish.

Now that you have a better understanding of what different types of boundaries there are to consider, we hope it helps you establish your own. Doing so will help you develop a greater sense of identity, build your self esteem, avoid burnout and enhance both your emotional and mental health. It’s not only good for you, but also good for the people around you.

Managing Holiday Stress

Managing Holiday Stress

Tips to De-stress This Holiday Season

The holiday season often brings two unwelcome guests — stress and depression. And it’s no wonder! The holidays present a dizzying array of demands — parties, shopping, gifting, baking, cleaning and entertaining, to name just a few. It’s exhausting!

With some practical tips, you can minimize the stress that accompanies the holidays. You may even end up enjoying the holidays more than you thought you would.

When stress is at its peak, it’s hard to stop and regroup. Try to prevent stress and depression in the first place, especially if the holidays have taken an emotional toll on you in the past, with these 10 easy tips:

  1. Acknowledge your feelings. If someone close to you has recently passed away or you can’t be with your loved ones this season, realize that it’s normal to feel sadness and grief. It’s OK to take time to cry or express your feelings. You can’t force yourself to be happy just because it’s the holiday season.
  2. Reach out. If you feel lonely or isolated, seek out community, religious or other social events. They can offer support and companionship. Volunteering your time to help others also is a good way to lift your spirits and broaden your friendships.
  3. Be realistic. The holidays don’t have to be perfect or just like last year. As families change and grow, traditions and rituals often change as well. Choose a few to hold on to and be open to creating new ones. For example, if your adult children can’t come to your house, find new ways to celebrate together, such as video chatting, emailing, or sharing old photos.
  4. Set aside differences. Try to accept family members and friends as they are, even if they don’t live up to all your expectations. Set aside grievances until a more appropriate time for discussion. And be understanding if others get upset or distressed when something goes awry. Chances are they’re feeling the effects of holiday stress and depression, too.
  5. Stick to a budget. Before you go gift and food shopping, decide how much money you can afford to spend. Then stick to your budget. Don’t try to buy happiness with an avalanche of gifts. Get creative! Give homemade gifts or start a family gift exchange.
  6. Schedule. Set aside specific days for shopping, baking, visiting friends and other activities. Plan your menus and then make your shopping list. That’ll help prevent last-minute scrambling to buy forgotten ingredients. And make sure to line up help for party prep and cleanup.
  7. Learn to say no. Saying yes when you should say no can leave you feeling resentful and overwhelmed. Friends and colleagues will understand if you can’t participate in every project or activity. If it’s not possible to say no when your boss asks you to work overtime, try to remove something else from your agenda to make up for the lost time.
  8. Don’t abandon healthy habits. Don’t let the holidays become a free-for-all. Overindulgence only adds to your stress and guilt. Enjoy the dessert! And then take an evening stroll through the neighborhood and enjoy the Christmas lights!

    Also, try these suggestions: 

    • Have a healthy snack before holiday parties so that you don’t go overboard on sweets, cheese, or drinks.
    • Get plenty of sleep.
    • Incorporate regular physical activity into each day.
  9. Take a breather. Make some time for yourself. Spending just 15 minutes alone, without distractions, may refresh you enough to handle everything you need to do. Find something that reduces stress by clearing your mind, slowing your breathing, and restoring inner calm.

    Some options may include:

    • Listening to soothing music.
    • Getting a massage.
    • Reading a book.
  10. Seek professional help if you need it. Despite your best efforts, you may find yourself feeling persistently sad or anxious, plagued by physical complaints, unable to sleep, irritable and hopeless, and unable to face routine chores. If these feelings last for a while, talk to your doctor or a mental health professional.

Toni Buchanan B.A., M.A., M.Ed.
ZOE Academy Director


Setting goals

Go for Your Goals
Start goal setting today

Setting goals is the first step in turning the invisible into the visible.”
– Tony Robbins

You are ready to make a change, good for you! Step one: set some goals. Committing to specific goals can be daunting for many reasons, including the fear of failure. It is normal to feel this way, but don’t doubt your capability. We are here to help you succeed.

What do you want to accomplish? Do you want to improve your overall health? Do you want to look and feel better? Do you want to feel more at peace and sleep better?

Think about reasonable, specific, personal goals you would like to achieve. Visualize them and write them down. Research shows that writing down goals increases the likelihood of achieving them. Under your goal, write out a checklist of small steps you can take towards accomplishing it.

For example, My goal is to lose 3 pounds this week, in order to achieve this, I will:

  • Attend an exercise class three times this week
  • Walk 30 minutes a day
  • Ask a friend to walk or go to the gym with me
  • Not eat after 7 pm
  • Only drink 1 soda a day
  • Ride bikes with my daughter twice a week
  • Stretch or exercise every time I watch TV
  • Read the ZOË inspirational packet

Tape your goal list on your kitchen wall, bathroom mirror, or a place where you see it several times a day. Leave room on the paper to add additional small steps as you accomplish more and more. These specific goals are important because they enable you to see that actual steps are being taken toward your goals. Even if you don’t accomplish all of these small steps, don’t feel discouraged, just check off the ones you did complete and feel good about the steps you did take so far.

Tell others about your goals. When you share your goals, you are more likely to be strengthened in your commitment. It also allows others the opportunity to show support or encouragement. Tell a friend, mentor, family member…they might be working on similar goals and you can encourage one another!



How to Stay Motivated

As Zig Ziglar wisely noted, “People often say that motivation doesn’t last. Well, neither does bathing – that’s why we recommend it daily.”

Much like daily hygiene, motivation demands regular attention. Today, let’s delve into the art of sustaining motivation throughout your wellness journey. Envision this journey fueled by motivation as a train; it starts deliberately and slow, full of huffing and puffing. Yet, once in motion, it becomes an unstoppable force!

From starting small to finding your driving force, discover the tactics that keep your momentum unstoppable.

Find your Why behind the “What”:

Begin with the purpose of your journey – what propels you forward? Why are you doing this, and for whom? Identify the driving force that makes this transformative journey worthwhile. Take a moment to jot down all the things that excite you about the goal and the journey itself – be it a desire to feel better, look better, a commitment for loved ones, or simply the yearning to build a new skill and health habit. Avoid using the end result as your sole motivator; instead, tap into a more innate drive.

Pro Tip: Try convincing someone to do something you don’t like, and you might end up convincing yourself! According to research by Elliot Aronson, persuading someone else to do a task you dislike can increase your own enjoyment of that task. Pinpointing the positive aspects and then telling someone else can shift your own perception and feelings towards that task.

Write, and Re-write that Daily Reminder:

Surprisingly, don’t stick that reminder on your mirror to see every morning. Your mind naturally adapts to its surroundings, just like your excitement about a new couch fades over time. Similarly, a motivating note or magnet on the refrigerator has an immediate impact, but you’ll get used to seeing it as part of your surroundings. It’s no different than a shirt you keep forgetting to hang up – “Oh, right… I’ve got to get to that.”

Instead, a more effective approach to stay motivated is to write a new reminder each morning. For a constant reminder, consider moving it to different places throughout the day: from your mirror to your car, to your computer screen.

Visualize Your Success AND Your Failure:

When you’re feeling hyped up and ready to crush it, take a few minutes before diving into the work to push you further towards your goal. Clearly picture the sweet taste of success – hitting the goals, sharing with others that you reached your goal, and what that final success looks and feels like. This sets a positive tone for the effort you were already about to make.

And what about those days when you’d rather skip the workout, avoid cooking a healthy meal, or find that thing you’re trying to quit looking really tempting? When motivation is nowhere to be seen, imagine instead what your failure will look like. Spend some time thinking about every negative consequence and feeling that could come with not meeting your goal – the self-talk, the admission of giving up, the abandonment of your “why.” This approach nudges your nervous system, releasing an abundance of chemical helpers – epinephrine, norepinephrine, and dopamine – giving your motivation the kick it needs.

Don’t Let Comparison Steal your Joy:

Comparing yourself to others is natural – it’s literally in our nature. Our instincts to compare ourselves became a way to identify weaknesses for improvement and strengths to enhance our chances of survival. Think of the animal kingdom: animals competing for food, shelter, resources, and even mates! So, while we obviously tend to compare, we can use our consciousness to decide what to do with the comparisons.

If you find yourself comparing to someone close to you, consider reaching out to them for a conversation! You see a strength in them that you’d like to have, and they may have insightful advice on how to get there. Who knows, they may see something unique in you that they strive to have also! Most of all, own your success story as it’s completely unique to you. Celebrate the journey you’ve covered, avoiding the trap of measuring against others as a way to invalidate your progress.

Lastly, Reward Yourself… Randomly:

Ever wondered how social media keeps you scrolling? They call it “random intermittent reinforcement” – a random release of dopamine that your body and mind can’t predict but ensures you keep going. We suggest using that same technique to hack your own motivation! Once you hit milestones, like finishing a run or losing another pound, flip a coin. Keep pushing on if it lands on heads, and reward yourself with tails – a splurge, a night out, a day in, or something out of the ordinary. You’ve definitely earned it!

So, there you have it – our secret sauce to keep that motivational engine running smoothly on your wellness journey. Keep the momentum alive, continue the good work, and move forward with the knowledge that with every action, you’re writing another page of your success story. Stay motivated, stay unstoppable.


Staying on Track

Staying on Track

What happens if you cheat while on the ZOË Wellness Program?

Losing weight is not easy. In order to lose weight, you have to really commit to the ZOË Wellness Program and follow the steps. With that being said, we realize that no one is perfect (we’re all human!), so we’ve developed a few strategies to help you overcome any minor setbacks you have while on the ZOË program so that you keep progressing towards your goal.

When you come in for your follow-up appointments, we will compare your new body analysis to your original. We’ll look at what has changed and we’ll ask you questions to see if you have been following the protocols and then tweak a few things to make the program work better for you. We will offer you a solution that fits your needs and is based on your personal strengths and weaknesses.

When you have your 30-day weigh-in, we will focus on ways to reintroduce the things we restricted while you were on the program as well as teach you OUR cheating system. Yes! We actually have a system specifically designed for cheating. No person should feel they have to deprive themselves all the time in order to keep the weight off.

Going on vacation? Want to have cake on your birthday? No problem! We have a very simple 3-day plan that will help you compensate for any weight gain that happened during your “cheat” so that you are able to keep the weight off while enjoying your life to the fullest!