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Episode 5: Physical Wellness with Chelsea Carvajal

Updated: 4 days ago

Chelsea Carvajal
Chelsea Carvajal

Welcome to the Wellness in Every Season of Motherhood podcast where we explore what it means to achieve total wellness. I am your host, Autumn Carter. This podcast is geared more towards mothers, but we try to be inclusive of all here as we learn together to get us out of survival mode and into thriving during life transitions.

This is episode five. Welcome, wellness wanderers. Today we are going to be discussing physical wellness with recent public health graduate Chelsea Carvajal. We will discuss why she thinks physical health is important, how her physical health has positively affected her perspective, college career, and life choices. We will discuss how it ties into other areas of wellness, the signs of neglecting physical health, what she does to check in on her physical wellness, and how others can strengthen theirs and prevent a deficit in this area, among other things. So please stay tuned.

Today I have Chelsea Carvajal with me and she recently graduated with a public health degree and she is a mom to a toddler and she has another one on the way. Congratulations Chelsea on another baby. Is there anything else that you want to introduce about yourself?

Thank you so much. I got into public health because well I've always wanted to be a mom growing up but I also wanted to get an education and I chose public health because I knew that that could be applicable for just taking care of my family in general and it was just good knowledge to have. As I was doing my education, I did find a lot of jobs that I like so I do plan on working on it but right now I am a stay at home mom. I have found a lot of good benefits in what I've learned and I love it.

Why do you think physical health is important?

I would say growing up I've always been health conscious. I think that my family has tried to teach me how to eat right and to exercise. I know even in high school when we had extracurricular classes to take I'd always take the PE classes. I think because I found a lot of enjoyment in them but also just trying to look for just opportunities to always incorporate exercise every day. And I I like how it makes me feel when I exercise, like especially being pregnant.

So I'm 38 weeks pregnant. I'm almost, I'm almost there. And I have a very achy body, especially since my second, you know, my hips hurt the most, my back hurts. And there's times when it's just so hard to go to the gym, but I know that, you know, as a pregnant woman, of course you listen to your body, but as I have been going more frequently, taking it as my body's able to, it's made my body feel a lot better. And so in that aspect of exercise, it's in my pregnancy to feel more physically capable to do just my daily activities, to take care of my toddler and to have the energy. And then also just eating right will give me the right energy as well. I like to be able to have the right kind of source of energy through foods.

How has your physical wellness positively affected your perspective on your schooling and then on your choices within your life, within motherhood, marriage, all of your life choices?

When you're trying to take care of your physical health, it's a choice. So it's a choice that you're making that's the better choice. So of course, like when you're deciding to get a side salad or a side of fries, you have that choice to make the healthier option. It's helped me to make better choices for my family, for where I wanna go with my education and where I wanna go with my career as well.

When I focus on physical health for myself and my family, it's all about how can I make myself better? I can, how can I make myself better physically and then also occupationally and educationally, emotionally, it just helps me to have overall improvement. How do you think it ties into other areas of wellness? You definitely started to touch on this. You know, going into public health to study it, I only was going for physical health on nutrition and exercise, because that's what I wanted to learn. I wanted to learn how to improve it for myself and to also also help others. I'm very interested in the health of others as well. But at our school, they didn't just teach us physical health. They had, it was required to take a psychology class to learn more about emotional health and mental health. A lot of classes will also explain other areas of health such as social health, spiritual health, educational health. And ever since then I do try to incorporate them.

Like for my emotional health, I always open up the windows because seeing the outside really boosts your happiness rather than being cooped up in your home or even getting outside and just enjoying nature. Also, just social health, just trying to have a good support group in your life and trying to get to know new people, learning from them. And that has always stuck with me since going to school. It's not just focusing on my physical health, but also just all around.

I think it goes along with how if we are eating healthy, that our kids see us eating healthy, and they're wanting food off our plate. They're little vultures, as my husband and I call them. So they're naturally eating healthy when we're doing that.

And I feel that's the same way if we are getting outside more, if they see us socializing. And it's so much easier for me to be more physically healthy when the weather's nice because I naturally want to be outside and doing things. So we're going for walks and we're going to the park and meeting other people. So for me, I see how it can naturally tie in.

And I was thinking about that while you were talking about being social.

What do you think the signs are that you are neglecting your physical wellness?

I think that sometimes we do kind of notice it in ourselves. Maybe we are gaining a little bit more fat than we want to. Maybe we'll notice that we're eating out more or doing less exercise. And I think we're good at noticing when we are neglecting our health in those ways. And so when you do recognize that, you kind of just need to stop and just think like, okay, how do I need to get back on track for it? How can I incorporate this again so that my physical health doesn't dwindle? Because when your physical health dwindles, the other parts of health also dwindle.

Your parts of wellness, you can't focus on one part of wellness. You can't only focus on your physical health. You can't only focus on your environmental health, social health, you gotta focus on all of them.

And so with physical health as well, when you're focusing and you're making sure you're not neglecting it, if you're not neglecting it, then the other parts of your wellness are also doing well. So overall, you can notice you're neglecting it by the obvious signs, and then also if just other parts of your wellness are kind of falling down.

I haven't really put a lot of attention to it is very much, you know, in the back of my mind, like, Oh, my skin isn't doing too well. I'm not eating super well. I'm super stressed out. And I think that is one of my biggest indicators. Or I feel more snappy is I haven't been exercising. I haven't been getting that dopamine hit and that release and that chance to feel grounded to myself again and feel how my body is supposed to function properly. So I love your answers.

What do you think it is for others? You're saying you, but I think you're still mostly talking for yourself or were you talking for everybody else?

Yes, for myself. And then, you know, we were talking about snappiness and like, I totally get the snappiness. Like, I lose patience with my toddler and I'm all like, Hey, I know why I'm grumpy. I am just like, I haven't anything in a while. I am hungry. And it's not fair to him that I don't have these patients, he's three years old, like he, he can't regulate his own emotions. I've got to be the one to regulate almost both of our emotions. And also with him. So I noticed that, you know, with my toddler, if he's grumpy, he needs a nap, or he needs to eat something. Or I could just tell that he needs a release of energy so I gotta take them to the park.

Towards the end of my degree my classmates and I did a study, a sleep study on our college students in our same college and how it affects their grades and it

was very interesting. Of course it affects our grades, it affects every system of our body. We learned that in our degree and there are so many gauges you need to be getting, and this is according to CDC and tons of studies, you need to be getting at least seven hours of sleep regularly and you need to be going to bed and waking up about the same time every day.

And there are even studies about how you should be slowly lowering the lights throughout the day so that your body is having natural melatonin to help you naturally want to get sleepy and get to sleep. And that there are studies of when you should have coffee, when you should have other forms of caffeine and when you should not so you're not super awake unnaturally when it's time to sleep and just how much that affects all systems of the body.

Your sleep is the time when your body has a chance to form pathways in your brain, which is especially important for little children,for the college students, for anyone wanting to learn a new skill or retain skills. This is where your brain gets to do the work. This is where your body gets to form muscles if you are trying to weight lift, which is important to do, especially as you get towards 30 past 30 is when you start losing muscle mass.

It's our chance to, and this is important when you have kids who are germ factories, this is your chance to fight germs fight viruses, you don't get sick. I think about this a lot when I've been sick past the point of where I feel I should be getting better. I need to spend more time sleeping. So you definitely had me thinking about sleep and that study that I did and all the research that went into it before we even did our study on our fellow college student.

You talked about eating right, which is super important. Everybody knows that we should eat right, but they don't know what that is. So that is definitely talk to a nutritionist if you want meal planning done because legally they can do that. There's also, if you're in the United States, which can help give you an idea of what you should be eating. We talked about exercise. There are so many things that go into physical health as you were talking about. It is amazing how much it affects your emotional health when you are taking care of your physical health. And why I like wellness is it's so much about prevention. You're not already in the disease and trying to dig your way out. Yes, it's super helpful there too. But if we can take care of ourselves now before we get into the red, it's so much easier. It's kind of thinking about cars and mechanics. It's a lot cheaper

before the engine blows up, you know?

Yeah. So thinking about prevention and with prevention, this is you're taking care of yourself before there is a problem. What have you done or routinely

do to check up on your physical wellness?

I love that you said routinely because it is about creating a routine. So while I was in school, I was a personal trainer at the school. So just in our gym right there. And the one thing that I would always try to teach my clients is how to create habits, because I don't want them, you know, a lot of people will get a personal trainer because they want them to push them really, really hard, which is totally understandable and we definitely push them really hard. But the main thing I wanted them to learn is how to keep up that training, how to keep up their physical health after I'm done training them because you only train them for a semester and they can come back for other semesters but I just want them to be able to continue that health throughout their lives. And so I think it's always great to just even start off small like do you not eat any vegetables and fruit throughout the day, well how can you incorporate those into your daily meals?

For me, I don't, I'm not a huge fan of vegetables and fruit. I love chocolate bars and I always buy at least one chocolate bar before I leave the store, but I also want to incorporate the healthy stuff I can get nutrients from. It gives you the proper energy, so the nutrients that come from fruits and vegetables, they all have, you know, the different vitamins and minerals that you're supposed to have, And when you have those, your body functions a lot better with all of those. And so the best way that I found for me is I have to leave out fruits and vegetables just in a bowl near me. So if I'm working at a desk, I have a bowl of green beans, fresh green beans right next to me. And I can usually see they're just right there and I just gobble them up. And then there's one serving for the day.

I do it with my other family members too. I just set a bowl right next to them and then somehow they always disappear. And so I try to find creative ways

without making me just have to... yeah just an automatic habit. I think that's a good word for it.

You know not only that too is how can I incorporate more exercise into my life. So I love to go on walks with my toddlers. So I bring a little stroller and we go to the park often. Or maybe I'll run errands if my errands are close by I'll choose walking over driving a car how can I incorporate this into my life and then even the harder things you know exercising can be hard to get to the gym and do the amount of time that you're supposed to do it's important to create that habit as well start off three days a week I think it's a lot easier to start off three days a week don't just gun it the first time seven days a week you're gonna burn yourself out and so, so just try to figure out ways to create the habit.

I love that. So for me, it was easier. I tried the three days a week, and that did not work for me. So what works for me is if I do-- I do about five to six days a week, and I do smaller amounts. So even if it's like 10, 15 minutes, and I built up from that. I like that you talked about finding what works for you. And I love that idea.

I'm gonna try that with having fresh fruit closer to me. We do smoothies twice a day for our kids. And then I have a different smoothie that rotates on fruits and vegetables, 'cause my kids are like, "This doesn't taste the same. I don't like it."So I do that and I have two servings of that. And then my husband has one serving of that one. So we have our 'adult smoothie', said in quotes. And then the kids have their kids smoothie, which is pretty consistently the same flavors, but we sneak in other vegetables. and the color. Yeah, so there's enough berries on top to not be super high in sugar, but to cover the taste.So it works out.

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Just be creative. When I've trained people, you know, they really, they're just like, no, I just couldn't work out today. I was so busy and that's so common among us and it's totally understandable. We're Americans, that's what we do. We work so much, but throughout this podcast, you gotta learn that physical health is so important.

Like you've mentioned, I love that you talked about, you know, the study with the college students, 'cause college students are notorious for, you know, not getting enough sleep 'cause they're so focused on their homework. But there's getting enough sleep is what's gonna help them with their homework. They can be way more productive with their studies. And it's the same with physical health. You can be way better in your careers. You can be way better with your social life, with the other areas of wellness when you prioritize that physical health and find something that works best for you. And I love what you mentioned, you know, you have to do smaller spouts,but more frequent throughout the week. And if that's what works for you, I'm very happy about that 'cause you're getting your exercise that you need.So I love that.

What have you done to strengthen this area if your physical wellness is in a deficit? So you're definitely missing some parts of physical health, what do you do?

Just gotta get back in it. I mean that definitely happens for me, especially

when I'm pregnant. In the first trimester, in both my pregnancies, my first

trimester I'm always super super sick and I do not go to the gym and I usually eat poorly just because I'm just trying to figure out something that won't make me throw up. So I always have to just get back into it. It's okay to fail, it's okay to fall back. I know that I understand a whole lot more about nutrition and physical health than I did before, especially with my schooling, but also just having that interest in it and practicing it throughout my life. And so I fall short sometimes, but I always get back into it. If it's that important to me, and it is, it should be a priority for absolutely every single person. because every single person has a body. I think that what helps is understanding that importance. So if you understand that the importance of physical health is not just how you physically look, which is very common for most of us to think. It's also about how does it help you the rest of your life?

I do think that, you know, I had a boss years back. I worked at this job for three years and I admired her so much. She had very good physical health. She went to the gym every day. She did Spartan races and she did look amazing. And I could tell that she was such a boss woman. I could tell that it gave her more power, more confidence to be able to do as well as she did as my boss. As I've been learning about physical health, it's given me more motivation to prioritize it, like I said, not just for physical health, but for everything else.

Why do you feel like it's okay if you are in a deficit, especially nutritionally for a little bit, like at the beginning of your pregnancy, you said because of your degree, you knew that it was okay?

Because we can always get back into it. As you get older, just in general, you learn that. I have failed many times in many things, And at first it feels like it's like the end of the world. Maybe you're trying to start to eat healthy and you're doing well for the first day and then the next day you're not. And sometimes you get down on yourself so much. But I have learned that it's okay 'cause we are human because we can get back on and we need to be a little bit lighter on ourselves and just evaluate why were we not able to keep up the routine that we're trying to create for ourselves, and how can we do better? And then as you try to do better, and then you can just high five yourself for actually doing better at that time. And then how can you do better the next time as well?

And fortunately, our bodies are very good at taking care of themselves as well.So if you ever have a deficit somewhere in your health, as long as you just get back on track as soon as you can, then your body will catch up with the good habits giving it.

Yes, I love that. And realizing that our body has a way of healing itself and that there are many vitamins and minerals that our body naturally holds on to. Some it doesn't, so it can go into a deficit. It becomes chronic when it's a deficit for a really long time. You're missing out on these things for a really long time. And that's when it turns into disease. it's not short term. You don't get yourself in this hamster wheel of guilt where you're just stuck in this cycle. You give yourself grace and this is just for now. This is just, let me just get through the nauseous, disgusting part of just feeling super gross no matter what in this first trimester. Hopefully it was only first trimester for you.

Okay, so we talked about what others can do to strengthen this area if they are in a deficit. And I think the biggest part that I took from that, from what you were saying, is it's okay if it's short-term and having grace. You also talked about habit stacking where you are getting the sunshine and that's super important for our bodies, the vitamin D, the natural vitamin D, and feeling the breeze and you're grounding yourself on the walk, which is really good to fill in with nature. You're doing that for your son and for you and you're getting the exercise. So like you're naturally exercising because you're naturally taking them outside. So you're stacking several habits together, several like things together.

You were starting to mention that a little bit, like you're doing different things to naturally have your body moving. Why do you think it's important to have it be one thing at a time instead of let's just shake it all up?

Oh, because we burn ourselves out so much. We just want to, we give up so easily that way. Failure happens way, way more that way. That's why New Year's resolutions never work. I loved making New Year's resolutions. I loved seeing like, I would have like 10 goals for that year and I'd be so excited to do them, but I'd fail every single one and it's always a disappointment. And so I've learned to, um, one, never wait till the year starts to make a goal or even until a Monday starts. But always just to start right there. And I've completed a lot more goals that way just trying to change things just one at a time, having that focus on it. And then we're more likely to feel good about it because instead of stressing ourselves out and then failing them all, we focused on one and we are more likely to succeed and then we feel good. And then we're motivated to start another one. If I can do this, I can do this.

I will be doing an episode on how to trust yourself because you definitely touched on that a little bit. Just if we don't remember the times when we tried and we succeeded, we're going to end up in this loop of I can't do it, why should I even start? And I really like how you've mentioned you don't wait until all the stars align and it's the beginning of the year, or a Monday, or you want to make the change, you're going to start planning out how to do that now. And I think along with that comes what we learned about the different stages of change, which I can also go over that in a later podcast. Just there are different stages of change and it depends on if you are in the stage where you are ready and planning it out or if you're just starting to think about thinking about it because there is a stage just for that.

What do you think others need to do to be preventative in physical wellness? You touched on this a little bit when talking about your own, but what is your, you guys should do this if you want to be preventative. What is your soapbox moment on this?

There's small things that I do in my life to try to help me to be more independent as like a senior citizen someday is I drink a lot of milk because I don't want osteoporosis. We are more prone to osteoporosis, which is just the breaking down of your bones. Women are more prone to it because we have smaller bones, and so we got to help to strengthen those. Also, squats, because when you're older, it's harder to sit on the toilet, and I prefer to do it myself than have a nurse help me sit on the toilet. And of course, just so many things. Also, with pregnancy,

I know, you know, before ever even planning to be pregnant, I know strengthening my back, I knew would help me someday with pregnancy. I just do things like that. So what I love is, I've incorporated another reason into bettering my physical health just by helping myself in the future so that my future self, it should be able to thank me later for doing all of these things. And so we are happier when we take care of ourselves like we were supposed to.

We are showing ourselves love when we are taking the time to take care of this body that you said was a gift. When you think of gifts, you think of love. And that is the best way to show myself love and then show my kids that I love them because I will be able to be able to physically keep up up with them if I am taking care of my body. Any last thoughts on physical wellness?

Anybody that's listening, I hope that they can take this and just not feel like physical health should be stressful for themselves. It's not something that is impossible. It's not anything they can't do. They can totally do it. And I just want them to know that if they do prioritize their physical health, that everything else in their life will go better. It's better for your relationships. I know that I'm a better mother because of my physical health. I have to take my son to the gym daycare so that I can work out, which I love that there's a there are tons of gyms with daycare there and I used to be so scared to take him to a daycare because I just always, well he always cried a lot in them, but it's been better for him to go and then for him to know that my mom has to be apart from me for a little bit because she also has to take care of herself and she's taking care of herself so that she can better take care of me as well.

I definitely agree with that. And you made me think about, I am starting a free workshop, how to help yourself when you are burned out and tired, and how to discover self-love. And within that, there will be some free printables, some free worksheets here on sleep, getting enough sleep and how to schedule your day.

So those are two different ones, but they go together. So you made me think about, oh, I should mention this because sleep is super important. If you are scheduling your day and you're block scheduling and seeing what things are similar and how they go together, then it helps you to not feel so overwhelmed.

I was stuck in this rut of feeling like I had all these things that I wanted to cram in during the kids' naps. And I wrote down what things I actually needed to not be interrupted for. And my list was really small and it made me realize they're old enough and they're to the point where I can exercise while they are awake.

Because there are some kids toys over by where my yoga mat is or by where the weights are, it's fine. And just realizing we don't have to try and stay up late at night because we can't do anything for ourselves while our kids are awake. Yes, we should pay attention to our kids. But there, there are times in the day where they naturally want to play by themselves. And that's when you can do things for yourself. You can sneak in things. Or you can sneak in going to the gym because there's a daycare there.

You are not alone. We are not telling you all the things that you should do without giving you help. And that that is the whole reason why there is coaching. As moms, I've been there where you just get stuck. And for me, I was stuck. And then I went to school and that was what helped me get unstuck because I was feeling like I wasn't progressing anymore. I was feeling very isolated and it was amazing to learn all these things and start applying them to my life. And that is where you get this for free is in podcasts. And this is where you get Chelsea here with everything that she's learned that that she's sharing with us about physical health, when she was a personal trainer, now her experiences with everything that she's learned, and how she's still applying it to this pregnancy where she didn't have it for her last pregnancy. Thank you so much for sharing all of this for us and with us and thank you for your time.

I'm so glad I got to do this meeting with you.

Here are some of my coaching questions related to physical wellness. One, what does my evening routine look like? Two, what can I do to change after listening to this podcast? Three, how can I nurture my body?

Then I have some physical wellness questions from the National Wellness Institute, and this is for their self-assessment. And one is almost never, two is rarely, three is sometimes, four is often, five is almost always.

I engage in physical activity every day, my agreement score. I consume nutritious foods, fruits, vegetables, lean protein daily, my agreement score.

In general, I rest soundly and wake up feeling refreshed, my agreement score.

I refrain from smoking, tobacco, vape, marijuana, and using prohibited drugs, my agreement score. I refrain from over-consuming alcoholic beverages, my agreement score. I prioritize my physical health by seeking out appropriate medical care when necessary, my agreement score. On a scale of one low and 10 high, how would you rate your overall satisfaction with where you are in this dimension.

To summarize, I had the opportunity to discuss physical wellness with a recent graduate in public health named Chelsea Carvajal. During our conversation, she shared why she believed physical health was essential to her wellbeing and how it aligned with her perspective, college career and life choices. We explored how physical wellness was interconnected with other areas of wellness, and she highlighted the signs of neglecting this important area of our lives.

Chelsea also discussed the measures she took to maintain her physical wellness

and how others could strengthen their physical health to prevent disease and be a positive influence on others.

Next week, we will have another special guest discussing environmental wellness.

So please subscribe to know when it goes live.

Thank you for joining our wellness discussion this week with Autumn Carter. If you liked what you heard, follow me on Instagram at Moms Wellness in every season to keep up with the latest wellness tips for moms. Please share the podcast love with others by sharing, subscribing, and leaving a review wherever you listen to podcasts. If you want a topic covered in more detail or a free coaching consultation, please dm me on Instagram or send an email through my website wellness in every season. com. I look forward to connecting with you. Please join the discussion next week.

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