For many of us, this year has been one of the hardest on record. And although, for many parts of the world restrictions are lifting and life is SLOWLY opening back up again, for many others, the prospect of ‘normal life’ still feels too far away to comprehend.
This month, I introduce you to Dr Aimee Brown – mother of 3, business owner, Holistic Chiropractor and Health expert AND ultra-marathon runner.
Keep reading for Dr Browns health and wellness insights + actions YOU can implement right now to help yourself.
Aimee – THANK YOU so much for taking the time to share your wisdom with us! Firstly, tell us a bit about yourself!
My aim is to peel back the layers of health, take it back to basics and get women functioning at their best (physically and emotionally). I like to remind people that whilst health can be complex, it can also be simple! Do simple, small things, often, and it adds up to significant results.
A not so fun fact about me…..I cry… a lot! I cry when I am happy, sad, nervous, upset, angry…..tears for all occasions here!
What is the biggest personal risk you have taken and how did you arrive at the decision to take the leap?
Quitting my job that was financially secure, 10 months out of uni, without knowing what or where I was going. I knew I wasn’t happy, and it wasn’t the way I wanted to work long term, so took the leap and quit. I ended up buying a business several weeks later finalising the deal while I was at a conference in Texas! It was a CRAZY few weeks – stressful – but it all just felt right. I am a big one for trusting my gut. My best decisions are ones that I make slow enough to be informed, but fast enough to just trust my gut and not question my ability.
Building the business slowly whilst having three young kids was always hard – so staying in business was also a risk! I could have saved lots of tears and frustration by going to work for someone else. The flexibility of being able to fit work to my schedule, around the kids and their schedule, always won, albeit, with lots of tears, drama and meltdowns (from me, not the kids!)….and wine!
You are a pretty impressive woman Aimee! How the bloody hell do you find time for it all? How do you manage the juggle, and what advice do you have for others doing the same?
I have an amazing support network! Whatever crazy thing I come up with (like running 200 miles!) my husband, Ben, is the first one to question my sanity but will always say go for it. Having people to call on, from friends and family to daycare and babysitters, is absolutely key! As much as we run to a schedule, things happen, and having people to help makes juggling it all possible.
We run a strict schedule, which is fairly similar each week. I have everything from work, runs, meals, appointments, travel time…..all scheduled each week. It again saves so much stress and brain space!
With my own business I can be flexible and make sure I am at the kids school events, and that is something that is so important to me. My clients all know that I have “mum duty” and that means I may be out of the office at a time I would normally be there. I have always done it, so it is just normal. I also had the advantage of only working a few hours a week while the kids were little. I do lots of paperwork and business admin at night. I fit in running in early mornings and weekends. I love that flexibility to change up my working hours with clients when I need to. I have the attitude that if it doesn’t work, you try something else, or go back to how it was. There is no shame in that!
Sometimes stuff happens though and the plan goes out the window. Remember that whilst you can do it all, you don’t have to do it all at once. And reality is that you are going to feel like you are failing at it all, at some point. ***Cue tears again from me when I feel like that’s the case!***
Running an ultramarathon would be DAMN hard work! Tell us what was going through your mind at your hardest moments, and how did you push through them?
I learnt more about myself in those 102 hours and 355km that I have in a very long time. So many down moments but so many amazing moments too. Life changing. Mental strength is key. I said the whole time that it was going to be more mental than physical. Your body will go where your mind does.
Having kids and being used to sleep deprivation was a help! I had about 7 hours sleep over the 102 hours. Hello power naps! I learnt how much things can change in 20 minutes. I came into one aid station (they are about every 20ish km in the event) absolutely shattered. My knee was so painful, I was exhausted, I was so shattered. I thought I was way behind schedule. I was hysterically crying, hobbling, and I will never forget the looks on the faces of the people who were at the aid when I got there. I think they thought I was really broken. I got a coke and lay down for 10 minutes. Got some noodles. Some more coke. Water. Sugar. And honestly felt amazing. I always think back to that aid in particular, just how much your headspace can change in 20 minutes. You can be absolutely shattered, physically and emotionally, but 20 minutes later be happy, smiling and ready to take on the next 20km. I take that into everything now. Feel the feels. Feel the emotions. Then make a plan, and get on with it, because amazing things are coming.
I also learnt how amazing my crew was. Much like running a business with young kids, you need a support network – it was key for this. They did it all. Let my sweaty, stinky, chaffed body sleep, rubbed me with creams, got me dressed, fed me what I wanted, communicated so they knew exactly when I needed when I got to them. Our one goal was to get me to the end. And we got there. We may have been on plan z……but I couldn’t have crossed the line without them!
The key is determination…I never once said “I can’t do this” or “I am done”. It was literally calculating each km and minute (which when sleep deprived and having hallucinations that every footprint is a face isn’t easy!), wiping the tears, while quite literally putting one foot in front of the other, at times screaming with every step. I knew as soon as my mind set changed to “I don’t know if I can” that it was over. I couldn’t let that even enter my mind. My mantra became “I just have to finish”.
You take a holistic approach to health, but for a lot of people reading this right now who may still be in lockdown due to Covid-19, the thought of trying to balance so many parts of their world can feel overwhelming. What advice do you have for them?
Remember that it’s a weird and crazy world. Don’t beat yourself up if you aren’t doing all the things. I have been saying to all of my clients and writing this little saying on post it notes for them to take home: “Don’t stress over what you cannot control” . You cannot control the world or the fact you are in lock-down, but you can control what you do and how you feel. Keeping routine is important. Working from home? Get up, get dressed, have breakfast and then start your day. Remember to take regular breaks and stretch and move. Drink water. And Breathe.
Don’t try to do everything. Pick one thing to focus on each day – don’t try to move health mountains right now. Take it back to basics. Water. Movement. Connection. Gratitude. Affirmations. Laughter. Sleep. Breathe. One small thing each day adds up. It makes you feel like you are achieving something every day, which helps!
Self-care is an overused term these days, but such an important one nonetheless. What does self-care mean to you and what tips or advice to you have for women on how they can take more time out for themselves?
I really hate the term self-care but the concept of it is so important. For me running is my go to. It gives me my exercise and happy endorphins, as well as time to myself and time to think. My other is enjoying a take away coffee on my work days. It’s a simple thing, that isn’t good for my budget, but it is good for my soul!
Keep it simple. It can be a bath. Or reading a book (book club has been great for me for this!). Sitting in the sun for 5 minutes with your feet in the grass. Locking the bathroom door while you shower so you aren’t interrupted (all the mums out there will know what I mean!) or doing the grocery shopping solo with a hot coffee. Put music on and sing loudly and dance as you cook dinner. You can fit ‘self-care’ into everyday tasks. It shouldn’t be something else on your to do list which already overwhelms you. It should make your heart sing…..what did you do as a kid that you loved? Do that! Swim, rock climb, read, bake, draw, sing, dance…..
How do you stay motivated, and what advice do you have for others who may be feeling in a bit of a rut right now?
Ruts are normal. Low motivation is normal. Honestly, motivation isn’t going to just appear from nowhere. You HAVE to put in hard work. You have to commit to making a change and know that some days you won’t want to do it which is where being accountable to someone is huge! For me, I have a running coach and my chiropractor also keeps me accountable with my health. You can also be accountable to a friend – workout with someone. You can be accountable on social media – pop up a post saying what you are doing. There are also so many FB groups that can keep you accountable.
Start small. Pick an exercise and do 10-20 per day. Push ups, squats, lunges, crunches….so many options. Don’t make it hard. Just start small because doing it regularly will have significant results and help you get your groove back!
More importantly – don’t beat yourself up if you eat the pizza and drink the beer while skipping a workout! The mental stress you put yourself under will be worse than anything else. Enjoy the pizza and beer. Laugh with friends. No guilt. But in moderation. Not every day. Feel tempted to go the beer and pizza over the planned workout? Get your gear on and start the workout. Make yourself do 10 minutes then if you really aren’t feeling it, you can stop. I can almost guarantee that you will keep going and know the beer and pizza will taste to much sweeter after!
If you want some extra motivation follow Aimee’s FREE online all-women Facebook group where she has created a space for to share all things health and exercise. To help you amplify your health (mind and body). To show you that health can be simple, not complex. That you can enjoy chocolate and still be healthy! Join it HERE!
What advice do you have around how we can get into a healthy routine with a holistic focus and ACTUALLY stick to it!
Routine and schedule.
Sounds boring but it’s true. Schedule workouts. Schedule mindset work or time to journal or do gratitude. Schedule time to meal plan and grocery shop. Schedule family time.
You won’t always have to schedule but while trying to form habits it really helps.
Remember to start simple. Drink water. Breathe. Move your body daily. Get some sleep. Eat some good food. Do some gratitude. Focus on one or two things, get them in a good habit and then move on to the next one.
If you want to try Aimee’s simple at home workout for free – click here!
You MUST have seen so many health hacks and fads over the years promising people quick health results. What are your thoughts on these, and what advice would you have for people looking for sustained health results?
So many crazy things out there!
It’s confusing for many people and they want a quick fix which is just not realistic or sustainable. We need to stop looking for the magic pill, food or meditation that will solve all our issues straight away.
We need to realise that it is not just one thing that will make the difference. It is a combination of factors and you need to look at the whole picture to do what is right for YOU which will be different to what is right for me, or for your best friend. Too many people think that “X” worked for my mate, cousin or work colleague so it will work for me too. When in reality it won’t. You, and your body, is unique to you and your environment. You need to take all of that into consideration and make changes that work for you, that lead you to a healthier life that you want. That is when the health results are sustainable. When it is tailored to you, and your body. Physically and mentally.
Thank you again Aimee for sharing your insights and learning’s with us all – there are so many nuggets of gold in here that I would confidently say every reader will walk away with something that they can do right NOW to help themselves!