I am thrilled to have Autumn from A Whole Story on the blog today. I’ve been following her for years, back when I was really into doing Whole 30 cycles and meal prepping. I think we’ve both shifted a bit to more intuitive eating and less strict rules. While Whole 30 did change my relationship with food and encouraged me to try all kinds of new, healthy recipes (like cold thai salads and Greek blatzara and frittatas and cauliflower “fried rice”), it can be stressful feeling like if you eat one wrong thing you’re a failure.
Autumn blogs about raising her two kiddos, pursuing yoga teacher training, journeying toward body positivity and self-love, and cooking healthy recipes (like Vanilla Collagen Golden Milk, recently!). She’s so inspiring, so definitely check out her blog! Here she is to tell a little about herself.
I’m Autumn! PNW homeschooling Mama to two. I write about family adventure and travel, health and wellness, and radical self acceptance through care and love. We love to do yoga, climb, bike, run, cook ridiculous meals, and plate avocados and strawberries in time consuming ways. As active and adventurous as this little family is, you can also find us watching Master Chef and British Bake Off a few times a week too with some chocolate bars in hand.
Allie: Tell me a bit about your health and wellness journey.
Autumn: I’ve been a bit obsessed with self love and acceptance ever since having my first baby (nearly 8 years go). Having her turned a new chapter in me that made me really examine all the thoughts I had about health, wellness, bodies, and what makes a healthy body.
I bumped through a lot of ups and downs, diets and challenges, workouts styles and methods before finally finding the Whole 30 about three years ago. Doing those first Whole 30s really shifted my relationship with food in a huge way, and was the first time I was consistently ditching the scale. I felt strong, capable, and different!
However, similar to how different challenges had before, it always left me floundering without “the rules.” I spent the next two years (these past two) learning about #lifeafterwhole30 and what my own bodies likes and feels best with. This has brought me to a huge shift in my eating, in more balance and moderation, and what I use as my Northstar: Is This Sustainable. I come back to that in my head again and again.
At this point I am eating to fuel my body and have fun with my family all summer long, I am halfway through a 200-hour Yoga Teacher Training and in the midst of training for a 10K in the Fall. Health and Wellness for me has morphed into self acceptance, balance, moderation, and empowerment!
Allie: What is ONE thing you think everyone should be doing for his/her health?
Autumn: Mantra. I think that is a hugely underused tool that has roots in nearly all major religions, scientific research to back its benefits, and huge similarities to talk therapy. Reciting, out loud or to yourself, a positive mantra with deep breaths when you’re feeling that spiral or out of control feeling is paramount to making a change in your health and heart.
Allie: Do you have a quote or motto you try to live by?
Autumn: Oh my absolute favorite quote, that always refocuses my compass and knocks my breath for a moment is this one by Nayyirah Waheed: “And I said to my body. Softly. ‘I want to be your friend.’ It took a long breath. And replied, ‘I have been waiting my whole life for this.’”
Allie: Tell me about a big WIN you’ve had in your health/self-care journey.
Autumn: The biggest win in my health and wellness journey has been my completely changed relationship with alcohol. During the first Whole30 I ended up giving up alcohol completely for the full year, now I have wine every now and again.
When I used to drink regularly I would often feel guilty and awful about my drinking (I wasn’t making any terrible decisions, but I felt weird, sad, and anxious after drinking. I’m not sure if this was/is a body response, or is related to making poor decisions when I drank to much in College?)
Allie: How do you practice self-care? And WHY?
Autumn: I’m a bit of a self-care junkie and cheer-leader! I just recently shared a full 30 days of self-care tips over on IG (#selfcarestory) that are all cheap or free, doable with a baby on your hip, and often rooted in changing thought patterns. I wish that self-care didn’t have to be a catch phrase, or something we need to learn, my hope/goal/dream is that self-care is something everyone is able to really nail down what works for them, and it’s just a typical part of their daily life. I practice self-care in my mind, body, and care all the time. It’s a practice. Some of my go-tos are self massage, meditation, being hydrated, journaling, blogging, listening to music I love, listening to podcasts, rearranging my home, taking baths, going for a jog or hike somewhere beautiful, taking pictures, doing yoga, and getting quality time with my family that isn’t divided or distracted.
Allie: What would be your ideal self-care routine, if you had the time for it daily?
Autumn: Oil pulling in the AM, followed by a cup of something hot (bullet proof coffee, matcha, or tea), a good 60min of invigorating yoga, dry brushing, a hot shower, self massage with coconut oil, a big breakfast!
Allie: What are your three favorite SHORT self-care techniques a reader could try, if he/she only had 5-20 minutes?
Autumn: Deep belly breath, I like to do at least seven and they feel best to me done on your back. Lay down long, and breath in deeply for a minimum of four seconds, fill up your belly, lungs, and chest. Exhale for a minimum of four seconds. Repeat this seven times.
Self Massage. Using coconut oil (and a favorite essential oil if you want!) rub your arms, legs, belly, and shoulders, always with movements moving towards your heart. Don’t skimp, and bonus if you play beautiful music to groove to while you do this.
Headstands! Something about reversing that blood flow and getting a little rush always gets to me and turns my mood and feelings about myself around!
Allie: What are your three favorite LONGER self-care practices?
Autumn: A Day Hike with my girl friends or husband, something kid-free. I love to do a challenging hike with a big payoff view at the end!
A great yoga class at a studio (preferably 90 minutes, either Power Yoga or Yin!) followed up by time at a great coffee shop or tea house with a great book.
A massage, a full on long and amazing, professional massage.
Allie: Anything else wellness/self-care related I didn’t ask that you’d like to share here?
Autumn: When I learned that the heart pumps to itself before it pumped to the rest of the body it just thumped me right in the chest. Even my BODY involuntarily wants me to care for myself without guilt. It goes out of its way to give enough sustenance to itself that it can give and do without failure. The more ways I find to self-care the more struck I am by how doable it can be with the right mindset and just how UN-Selfish self care is and can be. I really encourage everyone to reframe how they have synthesized that word and really open up to the idea of a different kind of care.
Thanks so much, Autumn!
I absolutely love the quote she mentioned about wanting to be friends with your body. I’ve struggled my whole life with this (as many women and men, I’m sure, have), in so many different ways.
In some ways, this meant being unhappy with how I looked and seeing my body as the enemy. More recently, I’ve been at odds with my body not allowing me to do things that most people can do without thinking (like go to the grocery store, stand and cook myself a meal, exercise) because I’m dealing with some serious health issues. But through it all, it’s so much easier to work WITH your body and love it and thank it for working hard for you, rather than being against it (and against yourself). I really love this.
If you want to read more in the Self-Care Sunday interviews, check them out here.
If you’re looking for a way to get started (gently) on your self-care journey, check out the free self-care kit here.