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I had the pleasure of Byrdie from Byrdies Babes reach out to me after reading a post I did on Instagram about Mental Strength. She provided me with 6 interview questions surrounding this topic. At first glance the questions seemed quite straight forward until I began answering them and diving deep into my past and feeling these emotions resurface. It was my pleasure to do this interview, as it gave me a glimpse of my past and how far I have come all thanks to my Mental Strength. For those of you who are interested in better understanding what it is and how you can use it to become your best self – read below. Enjoy xx

BYRDIE: Can you tell us a little about who you are and how you got into the wellness industry?

LISA: My name is Lisa Manzo and I am a Registered Holistic Nutritionist (R.H.N), a Personal Trainer, author of the book Healthy is Sexy and the founder of PurEnergy Wellness Lofts in Toronto. Apart from my business titles, I am a wife and mother. I am motivated and passionate about everything I do; helping others to live a healthy and happy life is my life mission.   My drive is to motivate and inspire others to gain a deep connection and excitement about life and the positive changes that can come when we focus on nutrition, wellness (both spiritual and physical) and fitness. My eyes sparkle when I can walk this journey with other people and know that they will benefit from all of this.

I began my wellness journey at the age of 18 (17 years ago yikes!) when I was diagnosed with hyperthyroidism. Being told that the solution would be thyroid ablation (meaning the thyroid is knocked out finally and forever) I instantly began researching more holistic ways in which I could control the levels. Although I was active from a young age, played soccer at a competitive level and ate mainly a Mediterranean diet this was just not merely enough. I began as a Fitness Instructor which lead to being a Personal Training and then finally a Registered Holistic Nutritionist. Wellness back then was simply a tool to help rid this condition. However over time I have come to the understanding that there are no coincidences in life. I was led to wellness because it is my divine purpose. Also at the age of 18 is when I began my struggles with self esteem, self worth, self love, where exactly I belonged in the world, my deep rooted anger, my drive for perfection which constantly led to my desire and need to escape. Wellness saved me and I am forever grateful to be able to share my knowledge and passion with others.

BYRDIE: What is mental strength? How does it differ from mental health?

LISA: Psychology often discusses mental health which is a state of well-being. However what is not often discussed is a clear definition of mental strength. Mental strength can sometimes be confused as mental toughness. Where an athlete would need to use mental toughness when pushing through an injury or the last few minutes of an already long training session. Mentally strong is not about acting or being tough. It is not about surviving; it is about thriving. Mental strength involves more than an intense drive or willpower; it requires hard work, commitment and dedication to self-improvement. It is about being aware and regulating your emotions, managing your thoughts and learning from painful past experiences. Developing this skill is about finding the courage to live life according to your personal values and being bold enough to create your own definition of happy.

BYRDIE: How is this term significant in your life? Can you tell us what it means to you?

LISA: My younger self has had to learn mental strength as a means of thriving and achieving bigger and better goals. When I lacked mental strength, my self -doubt won consuming my mind with negative self- talk. The energy of this unhelpful advice would draw the wrong people and relationships into my life. I began to surround myself with others who lacked self value, self worth and self esteem. Their negative patterns became my negative patterns; their unhelpful criticism and bad advice drowned out my inner voice and as a result contributed to my unhappiness. Learning from these past experiences (some more traumatic than others) has made me truly understand the incredible importance of mental strength.

On those days, weeks or months that I feel discouraged, tired or lost mental strength is what keeps me motivated towards my desires. It allows me to stay true to my values and keeps me focused on making the best decisions for ME regardless of the advice others share. Self-improvement is key to learning and growing. We must own our sh!t (excuse my French lol) and humbly accept responsibility for our actions.  No one is perfect nor are we meant to be (that would be a very boring world); mistakes are what help us develop and emotionally mature. I made a commitment to myself a long time ago that I would not allow my fears to dictate how my life goes. We all face different fears and that is okay.  What is not okay is avoiding them. Mental strength allows you the courage to step out of your comfort zone and face them head on regardless of how frightened you are. This confidence will lead you to a more fulfilling and content life. With facing your fears comes the fear of failure.  We have been conditioned by society to think that failure is not an option. We immediately associate failure with negative thoughts: loser, stupid, useless, not enough, wrong, etc. This thought pattern causes most people to either give up or not even try to begin with. Once I changed my perspective and looked at failure as a positive opportunity, I used past failures as learning lessons for today’s successes. It wasn’t until achieving this last step, although it took many years of dedication, that I pleasantly realized that I have fully and whole-heartedly gained self-worth. Role modeling self-worth is my maternal obligation now that I have a daughter. If she manages to retain a strong sense of self in the face of future recess rejection, tween tumult, and size-zero celebrities I will be one proud mama bear!

BYRDIE: Do you practice mental strength daily? Can you share some ways you do this and tips for others wanting to begin this journey?

LISA: Developing mental strength requires conscious effort, dedication and daily practice. Much like strength training, you must train your mental muscles. The journey of self discovery will lead to acquiring mental strength. Do not be afraid to confront foreign feelings, in fact bringing them to the surface will allow you to acknowledge them in a positive manner and bring you closer to managing these emotions effectively. Here are 3 tips to help you begin the journey of mental strength:

    1. Positive Self Talk: We live 90% in our heads which means you must be mindful of the words you are speaking to yourself. All day, everyday our mind is flooded with thoughts that direct us to leading the lives that we live. How we speak to ourselves determines our journey, our success and also our failures. Albert Einstein says it best, “You have power over your mind, not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength.” 
    2. Your vibe attracts your tribe: This saying has stuck with me over the years. The only way to attract your tribe is to be yourself. If you are pretending to be someone that you’re not, you’re going to attract a tribe that has nothing in common with the real you. Therefore keeping you small. Find a tribe that cheers you on when you succeed and gives you the extra pep talk (you are also giving this to yourself) when you hit a hurdle. Your tribe should accept you for who you are and be your support system, your cheering squad and provide you with a sense of community.
    3. Get Grounded Daily: Clear your mind, recharge your energy, strengthen your instincts, regain your center and calm your emotions. To me, being grounded is being fully present in my body. Staying rooted in our physical bodies eliminates getting distracted easily, feeling spaced out, over thinking, engaging in personal drama and experiencing anxiety and perpetual worrying. These are all clear cut signs of someone who is ungrounded. Being ungrounded is a worldwide epidemic. Grounding techniques redistribute the energy from your head or mind into your body having an instant calming effect and feeling in control. Grounding techniques can include long deep breaths, earthing, mindful walks, meditation, restorative yoga, or journaling.

BYRDIE: Do you believe practicing mental strength is vital to a holistic lifestyle?

LISA: Absolutely! Most individuals think that practising a lifestyle of holistic wellness only includes eating right and working out. Your body, mind and soul are not completely separate entities that need different things to keep them well. Anything that benefits one will benefit the rest. It is important to indulge in an array of healthy delights and activities so that every part of you can thrive.  Learning mental strength skills will allow you to develop courage and confidence to live a life of power, purpose and passion!

BYRDIE: If you could share an inspiring message with our BABES, what would it be?

LISA: Don’t ever compare your journey with some else’s. Your journey is YOUR journey not a competition. Just like Jon Acuff quotes “Don’t compare your beginning to someone else’s middle”. Your journey will be filled with emotional highs and lows. It is imperative to learn emotional maturity and help regulate these emotions. Adopting this skill will allow you to stay grounded and focused on your true desires so that your rollercoaster of emotions do not cloud your judgement or lead you in a different direction to what you truly desire. Life will throw you some interesting curve balls but, with mental strength, it’s nothing you can’t handle with confidence.

While I was pregnant I often wondered what kind of mother I would be and the thought of having a daughter, at times, scared me. I questioned my anxiety and quickly came to the understanding and truth that having a girl scared me because I was a daughter who was relentlessly trying to find herself. I hope to provide you with all my learnings so that I may guide you towards a path of acceptance, love and freedom.

Like many other mothers, I am sure, there are times that I stare at you and wonder if I will unknowingly make any damaging mistakes.  I don’t want this fear to complicate my role as a mother. I am not seeking for perfection but just a chance to raise a girl into a woman who is independent, confident in herself and lives with so much love and passion.

Dear sweet Savannah Rose,

I wish you could see yourself through my eyes and only then would you truly know how much I adore you.  Thank you for choosing me to be your mother and for granting me the special gift of raising you.  Coming into my life you instantly showed me what unconditional love feels like.  Being a mother to you is effortless and you make each passing day more and more bright.

You came without instructions and there are times when I reflect on how I am doing as your mother.  Always know that everything I say and do is because I love and care for you. As much as I am here to teach you, you are also here to teach me.  They say the role of a parent is to teach their children all about life. I have come to understand that children are here to teach parents what life is truly all about. Savannah, I have learnt so much from you already in such a short time.  The most astonishing thing for me is that I have learnt so much about ME since you have been born.

I am proud of so many things in my life but nothing beats being a mother to you. I am amazed by your sensitivity and pure heart. Your understanding and happiness. Your beauty truly runs deeper than the eye. The joy that consumes every cell of your body is unbelievable and your energy is absolutely contagious. You have taught me to laugh often because life is too short not to enjoy every moment of it. The day I had you was the day I began to heal my inner child. The day I began to look at life through a different lens. You make me a better person – someone who strives to live life each day with an open heart, with more understanding, with more acceptance of myself, with more awareness, with more happiness and with more love.

Always know that I am here for you without judgement and only with love. I accept every part of you and always, always, always know how very proud I am of you.

You can come to me for anything and know that there will never be judgement.  I am here to love and support you always. As your mother my role is to provide you with the qualities you will need in the big world.  Keep your heart wide open.  There is goodness all around you, you just have to look.  When you feel small in this big world just be still.  Find your centre, it will lead you to calmness and this is where all answers are found. Trust your gut and intuition – I promise you, it will never lead you in the wrong direction. Love yourself FIRST before anyone or anything. Be kind to yourself and know that the most important person in this world is YOU. Take care of YOU so you can then extend some of your loving energy outward.

From the moment you were born, you sparkled from the inside. Don’t ever let anyone dull that sparkle. Surround yourself with positive people who care, love, support and inspire you and push away from those that are toxic and negative.  In life, you will come across those people who will try with all their might to make you feel small or to make you believe you cannot do it. You CAN do it and can be anything you desire if you just fiercely believe in yourself.  I will always be your cheerleader and #1 fan.

I know the time will come when the pages of my life end but I know that you will be one of its most beautiful chapters. For this I am forever grateful.

Love mommy

xo