Thursday, February 21, 2019

Healing Bodies, Healing Minds: From Zombiepocalypse of Chronic Stress and Illness to Healing Our Nation

In her essay, "The Grand Unified Theory of Female Pain", author Leslie Jamison beautifully weaves her own self-styled battle being a "Wound-Dweller" with the literary analysis of female characters who also dwell in their own wounds. She so eloquently says, "The moment we start talking about wounded women, we risk transforming their suffering from an aspect of the female experience into an element of the female constitution—​perhaps its finest, frailest consummation." In essence, discussing women's' experiences as having wounds and struggles equates to them /being/ victims to those wounds.

The ancient Greek Menander once said: “Woman is a pain that never goes away.” While he was likely using witty satire to poke a bit at women, the truth is that many women (and men) in our society live with the pain of stress that has increased tenfold or more in the past few decades. This stress isn’t just related to our work lives, but is pervasive throughout every aspect of our lives, and effects those around us – who are also living this existence of stress – with secondary stressors that compound their own suffering.

In essence, we are a society of walking wounded – and our “Zombiepocalype” of depression and anxiety-ridden people isn’t too far off from the favorite TV show – and I would say minus the brains, but they /are/ Paleo.

This compounded chronic stress isn’t just effecting our mental health, but also our physical health. We are a Nation with more than just an “Obesity Epidemic” or a “Health Crisis”. We are a Nation of people who are literally killing ourselves through this cycle of brain/body illness. Even our wellness talk has more to do with disease and lack of being well than it does with solving the problem.

Our solutions seem to be increasing the rigor of our assessments of each other and ourselves. Just as we are over testing our children with outrageous amounts of standardized testing and heightened expectations of them to master sports and other extra-curricular skills, to get good grades and be model children, we’re holding ourselves to unachievable levels of “perfect” lives like the ones we carefully curate on social media.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful to realize that the very answer to our healing, and to healing our families and communities from this lemming like rush to the cliffs of physical and mental illness, has nothing to do with adding more rigor and work to our already taxed lives, but lies in the very thing we crave? Those of us over 40 should remember the old bath salt commercial for Calgon, right? “Take me away…” to revitalize, rejuvenate, and refresh ourselves and our bodies and minds.

Allow me to show you how! In this talk, I will share the first steps towards healing our own bodies and minds, and introduce you to how we can empower others in our lives – our family, friends, neighbors, students, clients, and entire communities – and then provide you with an opportunity to learn more!

Stay tuned for the LIVE FEED of my Talk, coming soon! (...but for now, friend me on Facebook for more about Changing the Narrative of Health!)

<3 ~Jonni Khat Santschi

Sunday, January 20, 2019

Changing the Narrative: Part One

Part of changing the way we think of and treat women's physical and mental health care is to change how we see women - and for women, how we see ourselves. My decision to share my own journey is in part because I have been asked by friends and clients to tell some of my stories that have helped them normalize their own internal narrative, but also to encourage those who have lost hope - like I nearly did over a decade ago in 2007, when I was 35 years old. I'll also share my professional and personal thoughts as to what we can do about changing the narrative of body image, what mental and physical health really is (and what it looks like), and improving holistic health care for women.
Chapter One~
My brain lies to me periodically. It started when I was 10 years old (probably well before that), when I started to control my food intake alternately through starvation and binging and purging. I, and a fantastic Therapist I worked with long ago, feel as though part of my traumatic history of being molested by a male babysitter at the age of four contributed to the perfect storm that led to my irrational thinking about my body. It was also about the chaotic environment I grew up in. My home life was so abusive that controlling my food intake was the only thing I thought I had control over. Somewhere along the way, I'd learned the dark secrets of restricting or purging food is not only a quick physical way to feel as though you could get thinner but a way to experience the mental high you get when you are hungry or after throwing up is a way to establish long term patterns and habits. While it would be another 15 years before I learned about neurotransmitters, self-harm, and addictive behaviors as a scientist, I knew it made me feel better in the moment.
Leaving the military community and moving off base for the last time when we moved from England to Arizona was tough, too, and I never really fit in with my classmates til I was in High School - and even then, my body image was poor and I was teased mercilessly by the kids who had grown up together - and in my mind, it was because I was "fat" (looking back now, I realize 145# - what I weigh now - was not fat by any means - and that even when I was my heaviest outside pregnancy, at 160#, I was still never "fat"). By 12, I'd pretty much decided to become a vegetarian - but I think, in part, it was just another way to control my food intake. By 18, I added in the extreme exercise routines, laxatives, and diuretics and set the stage for an incredibly unhealthy decade in my 20s - which led to a major crash in my 30s that changed the course of my life.
On the outside, I thought I looked great and had quite a bit of social encouragement to stay the way I was. Dizzy spells and hunger became usual states of being to me and I hid behind a full schedule of work and school - and modeling and travel. Of course, the modeling was both a tool of excuse as well as ego. I had plenty of men who wanted to date me, and women friends who - like me - were products of our photoshopped and curated media culture, so we ignored the ugly truths about our habits and lived as we'd just keep living through what science never really researched well (us). If there's no science to show that your female insides might not match up with your external "hotness", and your cells are still young enough to recoup immediate damage (or at least put you on auto-pilot for a decade), then there's nothing wrong... right? So, it became socially acceptable to eat as little as possible, puke the rest in some pretense that no one knew what was going on, and work out like hell was at our heels.
I had my oldest daughter at 23 and it shifted me away from modeling and the entertainment industry and into Education. However, it didn't make me much healthier. I am just under 5'5" and weighed as little as 112# just before I got pregnant, but I was responsible for being a good Mom and protecting my babies, so I allowed myself to gain natural weight through pregnancy and breastfeeding - but I dropped the baby weight quickly and was back down to 120# in no time - in part, because I was young, and in part because I was turning back to old habits. There were other factors going on as well - an abusive first marriage and three years of a struggle to divorce him, trying to stay out of my parents' hot mess of a prolonged dysfunction and divorce, and trying to raise my daughter (and try to watch out for my kid sister) along with work and school. Again, these problems would both work with and against me and added to the growing reasons why I was determined to never be satisfied with how I looked because it was in direct proportion to how successful I felt.
To be continued...

PHOTOS: First is a photo of me around the time I hit the "wall" of health issues in my 30s. I was just starting the process of flipping things - getting back to the gym, seeing a Therapist of my own, and trying to love myself as I was. Second photos are side by side of me at 22 and me at 42 (on left, photo credit to Maria Nasif). Third, is a photo of me at 44, training at the gym I worked at in California, learning more advanced weight lifting techniques and teaching other women how.
Side note: It's still hard to post the photos like the ones of the beginning of my journey, but I feel like it's important to be real about how I worked through this process and what I've looked like at each stage. Through this process, I also want to show you how photos can be deceiving as well - even non-photoshopped ones! So much I've learned in 12 years that I can share.
 ~ Jonni Khat

Friday, January 11, 2019

Why the HECK Are You Doing THAT?!?

Today, I had another "Why the HECK are you doing THAT (teaching high school English) again - you are such a good (mental health) Therapist!" comment from an old friend.

I get them periodically - along with the "What's happening with your startup company (bridging mental and physical health in new ways)?" It always makes me chuckle, even though there's a tiny part of me that also feels a little lost sometimes, too. But, I think that's part of the process of doing things that no one else has done before. It's also the same process to do anything you really want to do because if it's important enough to you, you should feel both exhilaration and fear.

Short answer is, I love all my hats and all the things I am good at.

I love working with people - even teens (I know, I am a weirdo - especially since two of them come home with me every day). I also feel like I do the same thing whether I am teaching people to use a semi-colon, read Shakespeare, lift weights, feed their faces better, or face their mental health challenges with purpose and spirit.

Long answer is, my special talent is to help people find the things they need to get to where they want to be - whether they know exactly where that place is yet, or not.

I know this because I have Seniors (I know, right? EIGHTEEN-YEAR-OLDS) question me on days I am not as motivationally moved as others. I remind them I am human and no one has a perfect streak every day. Plus, my fall-back mode is simply my enjoyment (or nosiness) in knowing other people.

I also know this because everything in my life - from all the moves, to all the friends, to all the opportunities I have been given - are still leading me to what I want. Do I want a successful business of my very own? Absolutely. Do I want to help not just hundreds (well, thousands, by now) of people, but millions? Heck, yeah. Do I want to bring change to the education and health care systems? Yes, yes, yes. But, I have to remind myself that the end is not the means and that there is more than just ME directing my journey there.

I provide the what, who, which, and why... and the Universe provides the where and how.

I think? That's exactly why the heck I'm alive. :)

Now... why the HECK are /you/ doing THAT?!?!

<3, JonniKhat

Thursday, January 10, 2019

A FitPro PSA: Another Modest Proposal

Beloved Friends,

Please be gentle with your FitPro friends this Season of Fad Dieting and Extreme Exercise Promises. This is the time of the year we FitPros fall into a cycle of frustration, concern, guilt, desperation, desire, acceptance, abject fear, and sometimes... numbness.

Out of a primal need for acceptance of our years of education and experience by those we love (and a desire to see them actually achieve their physical and mental health goals), we either bite our tongues, delete lots of well crafted and peer-reviewed scientifically and experientially educated responses to our dearly loved friends and family, or end up binge snorting protein powder and electrolytes in between furious sets of weighted squats and burpees with periodic (and intentional) pauses to sob quietly against the Smith machine to bring our heart rates down.

If you don't know what a Smith machine is, don't worry. We do, but we're not going to explain it to you because we're afraid you won't believe us and will go ask your friend Becky who read every book by that Skinny B* Housewife, did a cruise with Dr. Oz, and eats only broccoli, kale, and Chardonnay without tannins... oh, and has been a practitioner of underwater basket-weaving pilates yoga shape-shifting for a whole month.

We will also survive when several months (or years) from now you give us a long, excited speech about how your NEW /real FitPro/ told you to do all the healthier things we tried to tell you about all that time ago, and how depressed you are that no one told you these things before.

But, don't worry - we know that change is hard and that you know us better than Becky. She's safe to listen and lie to - and she has great hair, a fantastic MLM wine subscription, and wears her single pair of Lululemon leggings to every damned mommy salad jar meet up. Plus, she's 29, is a stay at home mom to two amazingly adorable little babies, and replies to all your posts on Facebook with some upbeat gif and reminder that her wine sub is 50% off for new Wine Coaches.

We also know that it's more important for us to shut up and let you try things because any change is a better thing than no change. We love you so much that even though it kills us to scroll through yet another long 100+ response and like post about how you're going to eat only squash and compete in that Ragnar run in August, anything we say could piss you off, piss US off, or be just as unhelpful to either of us.

While our business is the art of helping people change mentally and physically - sometimes that business is more about just being there and listening, in silence, as people Fail Forward. Just like most of us have. We know we're not perfect either, and that change was hard for most (probably all - going out on a limb here) of us too, and that there have been coaches and teachers and trainers and ... maybe even you, we haven't listened to, either. Yet, we'll all get where we're supposed to be one way or another. And I have to admit - Becky's lip gloss is always on point.

My only request at the end of this little satirical letter to all my friends is to remember - whether you are at the beginning of your journey, somewhere in the middle, or have spent the time and money to pay it forward by becoming a FitPro yourself - we're all here because we want to get better, and I don't think there's a one of us who doesn't want to see us all succeed.

*Learning is hard, change is harder.
*Your FitPro friends spent a lot of time and money to learn what they do for a living.
*Your non-FitPro friends know they want change, but are lost in a sea of Beckys.

You are friends for a reason, and I'll bet you both care about each other. Let's make this a Season of Healthy Habits and LOVE!!!!

*Embrace change and learning will be fun.
*Your FitPro friends want support and referrals.
*Your non-FitPro friends want to feel like they can do the thing.

Love you all... even Becky. 


Thursday, November 29, 2018

How Waiting til You're "PERFECT" is Procrastination

We've all done it....

We've all second-guessed, doubted, re-started, questioned, and put off things we think we want to do because we're INTERNALLY JUDGING our work before we've even begun.

BUT... if we never get down and dirty with our work, we've never really started.

Whether it's losing weight, getting a new job, asking that cute neighbor out for a date, or finally balancing our bank accounts, the REAL WORK only begins after the heart palpitations and sweat turns into the gritty push forward.

You have to move INTO the pain and fear in order to get to the place where you are actually moving forward and using every bit of that adrenaline and kinetic energy to propel you.

While some people might appear to do EVERYTHING RIGHT the first time, the truth is that you didn't see them experience the same fearful wide eyed and stomach churning nervous reaction that you are feeling. All you saw was their propulsion forward, in that moment.

It's also possible you didn't see them FAIL because you were so awed by their explosive forward momentum - but, rest assured, they likely saw more failure in what they did because it always looks worse from the inside, out.

We also all know, you can't get GOOD at something without practice; and you can't practice if you never start!

So, GET OUT THERE and just. push. through.

Even if you have NO IDEA what you are doing, but you have a goal in mind, just plant your feet in that direction, take a deep breath, and start running!

<3 ~Jonni Khat

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

How to Find Real Healthcare Help, and How to Spot a Scam - Part 1

I am writing this not only as a mental and physical health Professional but also as someone who has been "duped" by others in the field who profess to be in the business of helping me get healthier - yet, who have taken my money and done nothing for me.

As a Pro, I think it's important to uncover the scammers and alert the public so that people begin to separate the reality of people who are genuinely there to help you reach your change goals, but also to keep the integrity of our business and trust solid.

As a consumer, I think it's even more important to share personal stories of those who have knowingly, or through ignorance of a lack of education and experience, actually harmed others rather than healing them.

I am going to start this by telling you all that the backbone of my own physical and mental health business isn't the degrees I have, the certifications I have obtained, or the years experience I have with clients. It's not even in the numbers of clients I tell you I have, or the testimonials and photos I share with you on my website. The core of my business is the relationships I build with my clients - and that relationship doesn't start with my past business... it begins, and ends, with YOU.

While I am not discounting education and experience - I am an Evidence-based Clinician, which means that I use both my own and client experience, peer-reviewed science, and spend my own money and time to keep up with the latest science and techniques for change. What I am saying is that those are not the things that are the most important when you are working with REAL PEOPLE.

Real people need real Professionals. They need people who will USE all that education and experience, personal and anecdotal, to shape the treatment, direction, and planning for success. It means we listen, get to know YOU, and shape a plan that will fit your lifestyle, age, goals, support, and commitment.

My first advice? Listen to them to make sure that they are listening to you, MORE! If you feel as though they are doing more talking than you are (or none at all, like an online lead funnel for clients that pay before you talk to a live person... RUN AWAY!!!!)

Second, ask LOTS of questions, and don't be afraid to take time to think about what they respond with, and then ask MORE questions... (being mindful that there's no way you are going to pick their brain of ALL their knowledge, even in a few hours of off and on QnA before you commit to signing on with them - and if they make you feel like that, RUN AWAY!!!!).

Third, if their immediate response is to hook you up with the "latest and greatest" plan that isn't bespoked or tailored to YOU as an individual... you got it - RUN AWAY! It's not that there aren't good programs that can fit many different people but if you get a generic "this fits YOU, Pickachu" sort of one size fits all (even if it's marketed to a "type" or "group") and you don't feel as though they really know you well from an hour or more of QnA back and forth, they are probably out to get your easy money and likely aren't qualified to help you.

Remember, there are a lot of people out there in our age of tech and social media, who are looking to make a buck and have no desire to help you change. Some of them even look shinier than Nigerian Lawyers with an inheritance to get you connected with... if you will only give them access to your bank account.

Just because it looks scientific, or fancy, or like it has a million followers... doesn't mean it's legit! First step to change is connecting with people with education and experience, but it's also getting with Professionals who want YOU to succeed, because they take time to get to know YOU - and not your non-refundable cash deposit in THEIR bank account.

<3 ~ Jonni Khat

Saturday, October 13, 2018

Why People Are Not Listening to You

"Why aren't my students listening to me?!!"

As a young Teacher, straight out of school, I was barely older than the students I was teaching. I was armed with a Bachelor in English Lit/Comp and a pre-Law minor with grad credit, and at that time, a post-baccalaureate teaching certification (which was half of a Masters). So... I was super educated (and continued to get hyper-educated over the next 20 years) - but was completely unprepared to deal with actual human beings.

What took me nearly 20 years to figure out was that I had no idea why they weren't listening to me because I was spending all my time trying to tell them everything I knew (which was just a sign that I was excited about sharing what I knew), but I wasn't listening to what they wanted to know.

Fast forward to me now and I have a Masters in Psych and several certifications in education, fitness, nutrition, and mental health... and 3 teenagers of my own, and am back in the classroom with teenagers. What I have learned is that relationships are the cornerstone of my life.

FIRST RULE: You can't talk to someone who has no buy-in to your message. If they don't care about botany or stamps, they won't care how much you know.

SECOND RULE: People will buy-in when they get how your message will help them reach their goals. Maybe your knowledge intimidates them, or they think you will judge them.

THIRD RULE: If you really want to make a difference, you need to get to know people and create relationships with them. This means you need to ASK them what they like, get to know what they WANT to know, and then figure out if your skill set can help them GET there.

While I don't regret all my education and experience, none of it will help me as much as the simple rules of building relationships and creating a buy-in with students and clients that will help us both reach our goals of being awesome.

<3, Jonni Khat