A blog about balance for real people, by real people

Recent Posts

Project Sanctuary: The Closet

Project Sanctuary: The Closet

Moving is exhausting, you guys. I just moved for the first time in over four years and I somehow, simultaneously, have too much stuff and also not enough stuff. I have too many things, but need an entire living room set. As I’ve been unpacking, […]

Wayfinders, Synchronicity, and Fitting Out

Wayfinders, Synchronicity, and Fitting Out

Hooo-boy. Do you ever read or hear something that punches you directly in the heart? It feels like a big ol’ spotlight was just cast on everything you ever knew (but didn’t know you did). “Of course that’s Truth,” you think to yourself. For me, […]

Initial Impressions of IIN | Why I’m Studying Health Coaching

Initial Impressions of IIN | Why I’m Studying Health Coaching

“A Health Coach is a supportive mentor and wellness authority who works with clients to help them feel their best through food and lifestyle changes. Instead of prescribing one diet or way of exercising, Health Coaches tailor individualized wellness programs to meet their clients’ needs.”
~ The Institute for Integrative Nutrition

A couple of weeks ago, I started a program in pursuit of a Holistic Health Coach certification. This is through the Institute for Integrative Nutrition (IIN) and is a year-long program focused on teaching me how to help other people realize lifestyle goals that include health, nutrition, happiness, change, and balance.

I often find that I learn better when I share that information, when I teach other people, so one way I plan to utilize this space (in addition to personal stories and other topics) is to share my reflections on what I’m learning and to invite discussion around these topics.

Eight years ago, I completed a yoga teaching certification. I knew when I started that program that it was more for my own personal growth and deepening my own yoga practice than it was about truly aspiring to be a teacher, and I’ve gained so many benefits from that decision and commitment ever since.

This is a little bit different, in that I’ve long considered the idea of (and even have felt called to) becoming a coach and guide for people who want to improve their own lives by making small changes that truly add up over time.

I fully intend to practice what I learn in this process, even if I’m not sure what that looks like just yet. Meanwhile, today I finished the first section in fundamentals and core principles.

In this section, I learned how IIN approaches health, health coaching, and what wellness truly means. I was introduced to a number of food and lifestyle plans and was provided with resources for over 100 different types of diets. My perspective isn’t to ascribe to any specific diet or food plan, but to integrate pieces of different approaches based on our own lifestyles, priorities, and goals.

Why am I doing this, anyway?

I chose to pursue this because I want a better understanding of health, nutrition, and the integration of small changes into our lives to make significant changes. Above all that, above simply learning about these principles, I want to help empower people (you) and inspire people (also you) to live healthy and meaningful lives.

To make whatever changes — big or small — they (you) want to make in order to get your life on your path. It was through working with my own health coach that I saw these types of changes in my life, and the idea of paying that forward by becoming a coach myself, it sparks a serious fire in my soul.

Here are a few of the changes and discoveries I was able to make over the past 10 months:

Weight loss: I lost 15 pounds (two jeans sizes!) in a way that never felt restrictive, and I’ve kept it off.

Daily self-care: I integrated daily practices such as new ways of journaling, meditation, and affirmations that help set the tone for the day and nip nerves and stressors in the bud.

Anxiety management: this is perhaps one of the most significant ones for me, and to be honest, it probably warrants an entire post. The short version is this: I went from taking anti-anxiety meds a couple of times per month for anxiety that either interfered with my ability to do my job or staving off a full-on panic attack, to having only taken one in the past year (that one was preemptive before air travel, not reactionary at all). The best part about this? This wasn’t even a focus or a goal of mine, but an unintended secondary effect of making other positive, healthy changes. Medicating twice a month wasn’t something I wanted or felt the need to change, but after about six months or so of this program, I realized I hadn’t even thought about the meds at all. More on that later, I have a lot more on this topic I want to explore and learn before I really get into it.

Life skills: I learned to set personal boundaries and establish clear priorities and in doing so, I learned to better communicate and express myself. This one is ongoing, of course.

So, that’s why I want to be a health coach. I want to help other people find this balance, shed the layers of the things that hold us back, and fully express our healthy hearts and souls to the world around us.

All that being said, here are my reflections so far. These are impressions* in my own words, based on the information I’ve studied.

The Healthcare Shift, Alternative Practices, & Addictive Foods

To be honest, I think our current state of healthcare is pretty fucked. It focuses on the treatment of diseases rather than preventing them in the first place (of course it does, healthcare is a for-profit business industry that stops making money when we’re too healthy to need the services!). I think Western/conventional medicine is brilliant for crisis/emergency care, but I think we’re incredibly deficient in knowledge, practice, and resources around alternative and preventative medicine that help restore us from the inside. Let me reiterate: I fully believe there is a place for both conventional and alternative medicine in our world; I just believe that we are far too focused on treating symptoms than we are repairing root causes.

I think it’s both exciting and also disruptive to assert the idea that we can fundamentally change the state of health and wellness as we know it in our culture. I think making these changes in my life and encouraging others to do the same in theirs, along with all of the other health coaches, medical professionals, and individuals in this world who are committed to the same thing, well — I think we’re going to have a pretty big impact.

The first section also covered some introductory material on food addiction, reflective of yet another industry that is intent on keeping themselves in business by keeping us stocked with their products. It’s a pretty basic concept, the idea that if it comes in a box or has a bar code on it, you should carefully consider putting it in your body.

Let me be clear: I order pizza and put potato chips on my sandwiches and you will pry the Duke’s Mayonnaise jar out of my cold dead hands, but the more and more I become aware of what actually fuels my body and what’s going to keep me healthier for longer, I know I have to make new and better decisions about what the majority of my diet is going to consist of.

My goal here is to start to shift these unconscious habits and hold myself accountable when I make excuses about cravings and convenience, and to help you do the same. No judgment, no unrealistic expectations. Just this idea that if we start to fill our lives and our diets with the really, really good stuff, we’ll slowly but surely stop missing (and craving) the stuff that doesn’t truly fuel us.

I’ll try these so you don’t have to.

One idea I had about this whole process, is that I’ll be exposed to over 100 different dietary theories, some of which I’m familiar with (Paleo, Whole30, keto, etc) and many of which I’m not.

It’s crossed my mind that in an effort to do more than just read about them but rather truly understand and experience them, I’m going to pick 10 or so that I can try and test over the course of this year-long program.

Personally, I’m drawn to a Paleo-ish diet, though I’ve never fully committed to it, and I’ve always wanted to try a Whole30 for the full month. I have yet to outline how I want to approach these theories and which ones I want to try, but I fully intend to try a few and write about my experiences here. Let me know if there’s anything in particular you’re curious about or would like to see me explore! Bonus points if you want to do it together 🙂

*Insert obvious disclaimer here that these are opinions, that I’m studying new material, and that we’re each responsible for our own decisions about how we treat our bodies and our wellness.

Hi! This is a new space. Welcome.

Hi! This is a new space. Welcome.

Hello! You’ve found a blog. My blog. This blog, belonging to me, Doniree. It’s been awhile since I’ve published like this, but I’ve been itching to do it again. Here’s a little bit about me, and what I’ll be doing in this space. I’m Doniree […]

Crowd It Out — A Manifesto

Crowd It Out — A Manifesto

On a recent flight, I decided to try utilizing some of the tools I’ve developed over this past year. I started all sorts of new self-care practices: working out, eating better, deep breathing, meditation, reframing certain limiting beliefs I’d held. Typically when I fly, I […]

A Few Simple Truths About Me

A Few Simple Truths About Me

This post was originally written on September 22, 2010, and published on doniree.com. Most of this still holds just as true now as it did then, albeit with a lot more perspective and lessons learned.

A Few Simple Truths About Me

Inspired by people who are passionate about their ideas. Obsessive list-maker, even if only for the sake of making the list.

Loves to cook. Gets bossy in the kitchen. Doesn’t bake because of a dislike of following exact measurements and what’s perceived as “no room for creativity.” Starting to see this as some room for personal growth and has resolved to start baking.

Is fiercely stubborn and independent, but will let you in once it’s established that I’m capable of doing it myself. Which is established fairly quickly.

Thinks cheese, fruit, and bread is a perfectly acceptable meal.

Remembers being told that my first word was “hot,” after being repeatedly warned of a hot stove-top and had to touch it to find out for myself. Still learns this way.

Could probably do without pants. Lives in flip flops. Loves hoop earrings. Never remembers to wear lip gloss. Changes hair color with the seasons, and always most loves being blonde.

Enjoys the game itself more than the competition. Gracious winner. Loves to play, swing, walk, dance, move in general. Especially loves workouts that happen on a yoga mat, on pavement, or on a pole.

Believes that people are never accidents, and that our lives and relationships are shaped by experience and intention.

Back to the Mat

Back to the Mat

This was originally written in January 2016, but never published. It’s still pretty relevant, so… here it is. – – – – – – Empty studio, first one there. One window lets in natural light, but it’s winter in Portland, so it’s cloudy light. Wood […]

I needed that workout to be terrible.

I needed that workout to be terrible.

I didn’t realize it when I walked in, but I needed that workout to suck. I needed it to be absolutely terrible. I needed moments that I hated, moments in which I was uncomfortable, moments where I wanted to quit. I mean, I didn’t want […]

Subscription Box Review – StitchFix

Subscription Box Review – StitchFix

This post is part of a new series called: Doniree’s Favorite Subscription Services + Incentives So You Can Try, Too (#DFSSISYCTT). Links will be referral links, which means I’ll get a credit for each new subscription. Best part: you can refer YOUR friends after you’ve signed up too. Free clothes (no, seriously, I’ve gotten hundreds of dollars in referral credits)!

Service: StitchFix
Category: Apparel, Fashion, Clothing

Why I Love It
I’ve been a StitchFix subscriber since 2012. I love it because it is so personalized, right from the start, and over years just gets more and more dialed. I can always add pieces that are exactly what my wardrobe needs, whether a specific piece for work or upcoming special occasion, or somethign that needs replacing.

I’m always confident in the quality, and I love wearing items of clothing and accessories that are unique, rather than the same on-trend shirt from your mall retail store of choice.

I don’t particularly enjoy shopping because I don’t find fitting rooms to be comfortable at all. I much prefer being in my own home with the rest of my wardrobe at my disposal for mixing and matching and really evaluating a if a piece makes sense with what I already own.

Convenient + Relevant Timing
I currently have my subscription settings to every other month, which is the perfect timing for updating my wardrobe as the seasons start to change. Sometimes, I request specific styles or pieces for work, other times, for day-off/leisure wear. For special occasions, I can request holiday looks, cocktail dresses, certain bags or accessories, and even shoes.

Top Notch Service + Support
On top of the quality of items I’ve received, the customer service has been consistently stellar over these five years. They’ve been prompt, personal, helpful, and have always been able to fix, adjust, or address any concern that may have popped up (including giving me extra time to decide on a box or an item!).

How It Works
Each month (or every other), you pay a $20 styling fee for a box of five items to be shipped directly to you. Prior to the box shipping, you’ll fill out a pretty comprehensive style profile and answer some questions about what it is you’re looking for — this way their stylists can put together a box that exactly fits your needs. I remember my first box — not every item hit the nail on the head, but two did. Which is what I was looking to get out of that. The $20 styling fee becomes a credit on any item you buy, so even if you just keep one shirt priced at $38, you’re only paying $18 for it. As far as pricing goes, you can set your preferences to fit your budget, and the feedback you give when you check out includes letting the stylists know if an item was priced just right for you and your budget, or if it was too high. This can inform later boxes to be sure it’s within your own budget. If you keep the whole box (all 5 items), you get that $20 credit back plus a 25% discount. Typically for me, on the occasions that I keep everything, that total, discounted price will be somewhere between $140-180 for 5 pieces (that’s $28-36 per piece). You can always skip a month if there’s nothing you need, or if your budget that month doesn’t include shopping.

Styling Tips
The boxes come with a card for each item included that shows 1-2 different ways of styling that piece, usually a way to dress it up or wear it more casually. This is great for me when I get something that I might not have picked up or picked out for myself, but when I want to try something new. Like these shoes.

If you want to try StitchFix, here’s a link to get you started. Let me know if you do and what you think!