When we sat down with health and lifestyle coach Jo Encarnacion to talk about her wellness journey and how she maintains such a positive outlook on life, we knew she’d likely drop a few truth bombs on us. We were ready for that. What we didn’t expect is that she would flip the concept of balance—the ideal that most of us seem to be chasing these days—on its head and present us with an entirely new perspective. Jo shared with us how she stays mindful through busy days, how “messy” can still be strong, and how being intentional allows her to be a role model for her girls. HealthyWay: You’ve spoken about how a “messy” life can still be a beautiful life—a perspective that says so much about your overall mindset. How did you come to embrace this perspective? Jo Encarnacion: I have this strong belief that we are all in the messy middle of our stories, still trying to redefine ourselves, our health, and how we move through our lives in our bodies. So to me when I think of “messy” I think of it as an unfolding of the journey we’re on. I see it as the part of our stories we’re still trying to sort out and … when we can sit and honor that, we find the most strength and the answers to what we’ve been searching for. Do you have specific practices or routines that help you to maintain your positive outlook? I use the Five Minute Journal app and recently was given the physical journal. I love it because it allows me to write down things I’m grateful for and tap into that mindfulness first thing in the day. I also honor my body by moving first thing in the morning. This might mean I’m heading straight to the gym to work out or lift, a SoulCycle class, or simply stretching—a simple cat to cow variation or simple Sun A flow. [Sometimes] I walk outside and just take in fresh air! You have a lot going on in your life—you’re a mom, you run your own business, and you’re prioritizing your health and well-being. How do you create balance and stay mindful through all of it? I think balance is something we’re always going to be working too hard to chase; I personally believe in harmony more than balance. I strive for harmony in my life and … like to think about harmony [similar to how] an a cappella group sings in harmony—you have a mixture of highs and lows, but everything together [creates] one beautiful song. So this is how I look at all the areas [I’m juggling in my life]. It’s a beautiful mess, and all things aren’t always equally going well, but when I step back to look at the holistic picture, it’s really beautiful. [As for] how I practice mindfulness in my life … I look at my values and see how all actions, things I do, people I encounter, experiences I’m a part of all intertwine with [one another]. If they don’t fit [with my] value[s] then I give it a hard no so I can allow space for all other things to flourish. Wellness starts with a healthy mindset and also impacts those around us. You’ve gone from bodybuilder to wellness coach promoting a healthy(ish) lifestyle. What impact has your wellness journey and, ultimately, your mindset shift had on your kids? I see it in such little ways, which excites me the most. Like when Olivia calls berries candy or when she chooses to eat a healthier snack on her own. When it comes to self-love and body acceptance, I want to believe that my children have a stronger sense of self in order to face this world that’s constantly telling them to change. Some of my intentional choices are to be actively mindful about the conversations about myself and body image around my children. I look to always see the good first before speaking about areas of improvement or growth. We don’t label good or bad foods in the house, rather we refer to them as energy sources and how that affects our energy throughout the day. Most importantly I try my hardest to model joy in the house, because this world is already super stressful and we need to be able to really showcase joy so our kids can know to seek that in their everyday routines too.
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