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  • 18
    Aug 2016

    Going Through Hell? This woman’s story says it all.

    When I met my friend Nitika Chopra, she was all rainbows and butterfly’s, big love and smiles. So when she told me she that she once couldn’t walk without severe pain and had recently gone through a terrible divorce, I was shocked. How could someone so full of life, had once been so beaten down? Nothing about her story matched the woman I saw in front of me, so I knew she was a total warrior for healing.

    Nitika is fierce about self care (you’ll see why in a minute) and last time she was visiting me in San Francisco from New York she walked into my bathroom and screamed, “SARAH! No no no. this isn’t going to work,” she yells as she’s shaking my cheap face wash at me. “As far I can tell, the only alone time you get is washing your face at night, it need to be luxurious. Washing your face needs to be a devotion to your being.” If you want to cultivate your own devotional practice, Nitika created a beautiful guide to crafting your unique morning ritual. You can download it for free here: http://www.nitikachopra.com/offerings/love-morning-night.

    That’s what’s so magical about Nitika, she knows that the simplest things can be an act of devotion. I asked Nitika to share her powerful story with you so you can see that it’s not always weight that keeps us from living more, and even the most debilitating circumstances aren’t excuses to stop living.

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    From Nitika:

    I was 10 years old when my entire world changed. I remember standing in my bathroom wearing jean shorts and a checkered blue and white button down tied at my waist. When I looked in the mirror, I noticed something dry, white, and flaky on my arm. I had never seen anything like it before so I went into my mom’s room and asked her what she thought it could be. She looked and said, “Oh it’s probably eczema,” which is something her and my father had mildly. So we didn’t think much of it.

    Fast forward to a year later, my entire body was covered from the tip of my feet to the tip of my head with a skin condition called psoriasis. By this time, everything I had known to be normal felt like it had been taken from me. I had to quit the soccer team even though I had just made it to the state championship. I was no longer safe sleeping at a friend’s house because itching my skin would sometimes bleed through the sheets. And my favorite place in the world, the beach, suddenly became my worst nightmare for fear of being made fun of because of the way I looked.

    To make matter worse, the kids at school had taken to calling me “Spot.” And my self esteem, which had already been shaky as the only chubby Indian kid in my Ohio elementary school was now so low I couldn’t even see it anymore. This carried on for the next 15 years. I fought through having my wounds out in the open for everyone to see on a moment to moment basis—all as I was going through puberty, learning how to date, figuring out my truth, and heading off to college without my parents in close proximity for the first time.

    My skin condition became my entire identity for many years because it was all I knew about myself as a kid. By the time I was 19, my psoriasis got worse and I was diagnosed with psoriatic arthritis. Before I knew it, opening up a box of cereal in my college dorm or walking down the steps to take the subway had become impossible tasks. I was a newly married woman by the age of 20 (don’t worry, I’ll write about that another time), and instead of coming back from my honeymoon excited about all that laid ahead, I spent the next 5 years of my life primarily in my bed.

    My husband was very supportive, but something people don’t talk about often enough when it comes to dealing with our bodies is that health struggles of any kind can be very isolating. I would go to the depths of despair with my body, how could it betray me like this?, and I felt tremendous anger that I was the only person in my family whose skin looked the way mine did. I would sometimes feel heat radiating off my body because I felt intense rage inside.

    But my loves, there comes a time when even you get sick of your own anger. You get fed up with feeling miserable all of the time and are desperate for another way. That was me about a year into being bedridden. I felt like everything I did would just crumble to pieces and I could never get ahead. It was the most devastating feeling. So much so that I got sick of it. Instead, I decided to believe that what was happening to my body was not a punishment and that my body has actually been the most profound teacher of my life. She’s always been there, chugging away, fighting the good fight, and carrying the burden for all the pain and despair I felt throughout my life.

    So at this breaking point, I had two choices. I could either continue to wallow in my own misery which no one would have blamed me for because, well, my pain was intensely palpable to anyone that laid eyes on me. Or I could choose to love the shit out of myself. I chose the later out of sheer exhaustion from my despair.

    Our girl Sarah talks about not waiting on the weight, and we’ve discussed many times how that’s not only true when it comes to weight. When I was lying in bed unable to walk, I made a decision to not wait on my psoriasis to heal. I started looking through magazines and creating a vision board for the life I was determined to manifest even when I was so unwell. I filled my home with beautiful things to look at so that when I was still forced to be in bed, I was able to raise my internal vibration by seeing things of beauty.

    I also got real about my anger. Oftentimes, I would feel it and then be ashamed that I had it. Which is a double whammy of toxic emotion. When I decided I wanted to live a life of happiness, joy, and love, I knew the only way to get there was to fully honor that I was angry first. I would spend a lot of time talking to myself in the mirror and just yelling about how unfair this all was. I punched and screamed into pillows, and I cried from the depths of my soul out of pure frustration on a daily basis.

    I had rituals throughout my day–like journaling, calling someone I loved multiple times throughout the day just to laugh about something silly, and I started playing around with makeup. I figured if I wasn’t’ going anywhere, I could at least make myself look beautiful just for me. There’s no harm in that, right?

    I would paint my nails bright colors, experiment with fun lipstick shades, and practice my fierce cat eye. All in bed. This doesn’t mean that I woke up one day and because I penciled a cat eye on, I was all of a sudden free of psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis. That’s not what I’m saying. What did happen was that there was a major shift in my heart and the amount of anger and frustration I felt dissipated so that my body could feel true relief.

    I also found out that there was a lot more to focus on than my suffering. Daily steps towards self-love transformed me because it literally made my entire world brighter. Instead of focusing on my scaley legs or my aching bones, I would make a conscious effort to focus on beauty, laughter, and love. My life has never been the same since. And while my body is constantly on a healing journey, who I am being in the world is a woman who is completely healed. I am experiencing some of the most delightful and simple pleasures in life that were once impossible. Like riding a bike through the streets of Manhattan, wearing dresses on dates instead of hiding myself and even enjoying a day at the beach in a bikini (I know, I was shocked too!) All while achieving dreams I have had in my heart which I thought I would never be able to achieve. I have my own Talk Show called Naturally Beautiful on the holistic lifestyle channel Z LIving, I host events for 200 influencers and bloggers all in celebration of self-love several times a year, I have the honor of working with some of my favorite brands and was even asked to represent one of them as an on-air guest for the home shopping channel QVC.

    I know many of you reading this haven’t gone through this exact same thing, but I promise you we all have our own version. Whether it’s healing your ability to love yourself after a painful divorce (I have one of those under my belt too), or feeling defeated because you just can’t seem to figure out what to do with your life, or you’ve been spending what feels like a lifetime waiting on the weight, we have all been there in our own unique and beautiful way.

    I wanted to share all of this with you because I want this to be the moment where you decide to choose the vibration of love for your life. Choose love. It’s so easy to get stuck in cycle of choosing fear, doubt, and worry, but I’m here to tell you that you are worth so much more than that, my beautiful ones. I promise. Even if you think your body or circumstances are telling you otherwise.

    Here are 3 ways to choose love over despair.

    1. Get real about where you’re at. It’s really easy for people in the self-help world to give you a few bandaids for your pain, but something my soul sister Sarah and I believe in deeply is that we are doing all of you a disservice if we do that. The only way to truly transform and heal is to get real. So take out your favorite journal or write an email to yourself and get it all out. What are you so angry about? Why do you feel betrayed? When did this all start? Whatever comes up for you get real about it. And release it once and for all.
    2. Surround yourself with beauty. This is one of those tips you may be a little skeptical about. But if you’re willing to trust me. I would love for you to give it a try. If we’re committed to raising our vibration towards more love and less despair, then what we look at and what we’re surrounded by is going to be a part of that. You could either look at a blank wall, a piece of art that you don’t love, or a couch that makes you cringe every day. Or you can fill your space with things that bring you insane joy. Go on Etsy and find an inexpensive piece of art, buy yourself a candle that has the most beautiful fragrance, or make a commitment buying yourself fresh flowers every week (I know this is one of Sarah’s favorite things to do). Whatever it is, surround yourself with things that lift you up. It’s not about band aids, it’s about reprogramming your cellular memory towards more happiness and joy over despair. It works if you work it.
    3. Call on your community. This has always been one of my absolute favorite steps towards more happiness. It wasn’t always the easiest one for me. Mostly because I lost most of my friends after my divorce. So to find a group of girlfriends was a true struggle at that time. But being someone who is more committed to my happiness than my suffering, I made it my mission to find a community when I needed it most. If you’re reading this and don’t have a community, I invite you to be bold in your quest for one. For those of you who feel connected to group of people already, I want to remind you that those who love you feel privileged to support you. I mentioned that isolating feeling earlier and it shows up for me the most when it comes to my health. It’s probably the area of my life that I need the most love around. But it’s also the thing I tend to take on by myself. It has become a conscious practice to call a friend or text someone I love when I’m in the thick of my lowest moments. Sometimes these exchanges can be a request to have someone listen to you because you need to get real about your situation. And other times it’s just getting honest about your need for some freaking fun. Either way don’t forget that your community can’t wait to support you.

    I’ve heard from many people that it often helps having certain structures around the beginning and the end of their day. So I’ve created a special guide with daily self-love rituals to set you up for success. You can download that free guide here.

    I mean it when I say it’s such a privilege and honor to share my journey with you. I know how carefully and intentionally Sarah has cultivated her relationship with each of you, and I’m so excited to now be a part of your quest towards more self-love.

    Lots of love,

    Nitika

  • 11
    Aug 2016

    LMWL Mastery Coming Soon + We’re moving!

    When we released another round of my signature program, Live More Weigh Less Mastery in June, we had so many women write in saying that it wasn’t the right time (they had weddings, summer vacations, getting their oldest off the college) or they needed some time to get the money together. We’ve also had a lot of people asking and asking about when I am going to be doing it again.

    Live More Weigh Less Mastery will open again on Thursday September 22nd, 2016. So do what you need to do to get yourself ready to jump in. Maybe it’s saving some money, talking to your partner, or blocking out two hours a week this fall to immerse yourself in this new body of work. Maybe you want to sign up for a carpool or say no to being on that committee that you really don’t like being on anyways. You’ve been warned!!!

    People are always asking me how often and when I do Live More Weigh Less Mastery. The reality is that it’s completely random. I do it when it fits into my life because I have to Live More too! So I only run the program when I am feeling energized, aligned and excited about it. That way I can really show up for you guys. This fall is one of those times, and I am so freaking excited about the fall group.

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    Fall is my favorite season, not just because it’s also my birthday, but because there’s a feeling of renewal. That back to school energy and all that PLAID gets me jazzed about rethinking how I want to live and who I want to be. September really is the new January.

    So if you’re finally ready to make a big change in your life and body, make sure you read all of my emails and sign up for the Live More Challenge, a free program and community designed to motivate you and hold you accountable in creating a life and body you love. At the end of the challenge, I’ll be hosting a free workshop called Get Out of Body Jail, where we’ll be opening the doors to Live More Weigh Less Mastery.

    Now, when am I going to be doing it again, you ask? Good question. The honest answer is I don’t know, maybe not for a while, maybe never. I have a lot of exciting things happening in my life right now, I am 67% sure I’m going to start shopping a book, we are building an epic shop on SarahJenks.com, we are going to start trying for #3 in 2017 and we’re moving!!

    Jonathan got an incredible private practice position in Massachusetts doing Urologic Oncology and Integrative Medicine. In April we looked at a million different towns and found a charming community where we’ll be moving in July. This spring we’ll be looking at houses and getting ready to relocate across the country. I’m from Massachusetts and have been craving being back for quite some time, so I am totally stoked. With all of the change, and the reality that life could be really different when we move, I’m just not sure when or if Mastery will happen again. I just want to be honest with you so if this has been on your bucket list, now is the time.

    Can’t wait to get this party started :).

    Love you,
    Sarah

    P.S. I have discovered that the key to being fulfilled in my life and happy in my body is by doing small things everyday that make me feel loved, beautiful and alive. I also know that we rarely take the time, even just ten minutes, to do this for ourselves. In our Live More Challenge, you’ll take daily steps to creating the life and body you love. You can sign up for the challenge here: LiveMoreChallenge.com

  • 04
    Aug 2016

    So angry…

    I’ve been sitting on my office floor with crystals and cards strewn about, wondering what to write to you about, so I’m just going to give you “the report”.  The truth is that I feel like I’ve stepped into a new chapter of my life – I’ve been taking better care of my body, finding a deeper love with her than we’ve ever experienced. This is the longest I haven’t been pregnant in three years, as my babies came to me very close together, so every day I am feeling the freedom of more balanced hormones and (ever so slightly) less dependent children. I am enjoying a new sense of mastery in my work in Live More Weigh Less that only the passage of time can gift.  I feel a deep sense of contentment, acceptance and grounding.  And I am deeply, deeply grateful for this feeling because just a few weeks ago I was really f**king angry.

    As I’m sure you’ve heard me complain about before, my husband Jonathan is currently in a six year urology residency which has followed 5 years in medical school.  Since we met in college, I’ve been on this rigorous ride.  This past year Jonathan did a year of integrative medicine research and was around all the time; it was amazing.  And on June 18th he went back into the grind to finish his last year.  He’s had 3 days off in the past six weeks and other than that he is working or on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

    For the first two weeks I just pretended he was dead.  I made my own plans, ignored that he needed to eat dinner when he got home, took care of all the kids’ needs and didn’t give much to report at night.

    The third week I silently stewed, listing off every inconvenience and “woe is me” item I could think of in my head.  I play the victim really well.

    The fourth week, I raged.  I raged about the loneliness of being alone with the kids every single morning, when they get up at 6:30 on a good day, 5:45 on a bad one.  I raged about needing to pay for our lives and the ridiculousness that a resident’s salary doesn’t even cover our rent (they are actually doctors you know).  I raged about him not appreciating me enough.  I raged that he doesn’t have a perfectly laid out plan for the rest of his 30 year career.  I yelled and cried and punched pillows and felt completely and utterly boxed in.  

    And then I couldn’t believe it had only been a month, the longest month of my life and we had eleven more.  I couldn’t continue like this. The anger was killing me, it made Jonathan feel unsupported and the kids uneasy.  

    All I could see was all the injustice around me, but when I took a step back, I was the one creating the suffering.  

    I dug deep and started the origin of all healing: choice.

    I had a choice.  We always do.  Did I want Jonathan to do this last year of residency or not?

    It would be easy for me to say he has to do this, but the truth is that he could quit, any time.

    But then I thought… I want him to be a doctor, and quitting would mean that he wouldn’t be board certified or have the training he needed.  I know he will have a lifetime of job security and most importantly, that man is meant to be a doctor.  I’ve never met someone with a bigger heart, more drive or the need for so little sleep.  

    So I decided that I wanted him to stay in residency. This may seem like an obvious choice, but being IN CHOICE around it gave me so much space for healing.

    After choice comes: What’s in it for me?  What am I meant to learn here?  

    This one came easily to me now that the anger and victimization were gone.  This year is all about Motherhood and Money.

    Motherhood in learning to be present, understanding how I want to parent and the specific lessons my kids and I are here to teach each other.

    Money is so, so, so tricky.  I’ve been good at making it, but terrible at being in relationship with it.  It makes me uncomfortable, pissy, overwhelmed and shaky.  I just want out of money, so I dreamed about the day when I didn’t have to deal with it any more, when Jonathan could just handle everything and I could do my work for fun and sure, make money, but just have it to spend on fun things like throw pillows and pretty dresses.  It’s like being married to Prince Charming when he’s still a frog and just waiting for the day he gets his castle so I can start my glass slipper collection instead of paying rent.  

    But then I woke up.  My issues with money have nothing to do with who’s making it, it has everything to do with my own learning edge and relationship to money.  I realized that if I didn’t clean up my stuff I was going to project the fear and overwhelm right onto Jonathan when we start sharing the load.

    Next, I got to work. I read Soul of Money, The Art of Money and Getting to 50/50.  I journaled, talked it out, prayed and meditated.  I’m learning so much.  I’m learning I’m not alone even when I feel alone. I’m learning the power of gratitude. I’m learning to appreciate Jonathan for the incredible work that he does. I’m learning to be with the noise, emotions and poop that motherhood brings.  I’m learning that Jonathan does so much for us in the little time he has. I’m learning that space is my highest currency right now.

    So I’m wondering, are you angry?  If so, great.  Scream and cry and punch pillows. Get out those emotions because if they stay in your body it will cause resentment and disease and extra weight.  When you are empty and drained from all of the crying, remember you have a choice. The choice is always very, very, very hard, and never feels like a choice at all, but you have one, make it. Then ask, what’s in it for you? What are you meant to learn?  How could this terrible week, year or life be the exact, perfect thing your soul needs to be truly happy?  Show up for the big lesson and get.to.work. Get a book recommendation, talk to someone who’s been through this, go to therapy, hire a coach, join a program like Live More Weigh Less and show up for the lesson every day.  Before you know it, you’ll feel grounded, content and comfy, even though life looks exactly the same as it did when this all started.

    Love,

    Sarah

    P.S. I’d love to hear what you’re angry about in the comments below and any clarity of choice or lesson that comes up with a result.  And please send this to a friend who’s on this journey with you, we need each other.

Design: Jane Reaction. Development: Brandi Bernoskie.