The Wellness Spotlight series highlights military spouses and their real world health and wellness journeys in a Facebook live series. Below is an excerpt of Leslie’s feature.
TELL US A LITTLE BIT ABOUT YOUR JOURNEY AS A MILITARY SPOUSE?
During my time at A&M, I met and fell in love with an Army officer and we eventually married within months of my graduation. In the years since, the Army has taken us to New Orleans, Germany, Charlotte, NC, and now Southern Pines, NC, outside of Ft. Bragg. We live on an urban homestead in North Carolina in a historic home with our mixed breed dog Bear, and four chickens.
What is a low moment when your health suffered the most and how did you overcome it?
When we first moved to Germany, we lived in Army lodging for a month because there was no housing available on post. Finally, we ended up in a home 45 minutes away down a long two lane road. We moved in and my husband deployed immediately after for a year. It was our first deployment together. I quickly realized that while our village was quaint, I was the only one who spoke English, it didn’t have a nearby train, and there wasn’t a market within walking distance. The road to post was a borderline deathtrap. With nothing to fill my days, I took up running for the rest of the summer and found a volunteer opportunity on base. Once winter arrived, my inner southern belle emerged and I lost motivation to go out in the bitter weather. The drive to post became even more dangerous, so I volunteered less. Couple the gloomy days with no human interaction and I found myself in a deep depression.
My second low moment is one I’m just now starting to come out of. When we moved to Charlotte from Germany in 2014, my husband deployed again so I filled my days with working out, working on a local goat farm, and focusing on the growth of InDependent. I absolutely loved it. I had a great routine, and I although my husband was gone, I was full. But then we moved to where we are right now and something happened. I am still trying to figure out what was the tipping point: when I injured my back working out, when I added too many projects to my plate, or when I started really sliding in my diet. I was gaining weight like crazy, and not in a “you’re getting stronger” sort of way, but in a “I feel constantly uncomfortable and can’t fit in any of my clothes” way. I actually broke down in tears at my last doctor’s appointment after having to stand on the scale, because it only confirmed what I knew was happening. After a number of tests and working with some health coaches, it turned out that I was suffering from Adrenal stress and borderline hypothyroidism. It feels like I had tried everything and my body was just crossing its arms saying “nope!”
How did you overcome it?
Thankfully I was able to pull myself out of the depression in Germany by focusing on daily yoga routines. By the time my husband came home, I was doing yoga for upward of an hour a day.
Right now I am still trying to come out of my current low moment. I’m moving away from weight lifting type workouts and am back to doing more yoga and cardio (walking, running). I’m just being kind to myself. I also am trying to tighten up my diet. Food here in America is just so overly processed and full of preservatives and junk. It’s also so easy to access, and before you know it you’re only eating junk, especially when your stress-plate is overflowing. But when you’re in a stressful time, letting your body rest by feeding it clean, real, nutrient-dense food is a part of the bigger solution to overall wellness. So, I’m getting back to focusing on eating ethically raised proteins, lots of local fruits and veggies (some we grow ourselves!), and avoiding dairy, eggs, gluten, corn and soy. And yes, that even means giving up alcohol until I can get back to feeling like myself again.
Share with us a high moment during your wellness journey!
Probably the years 2012-14. I had a great job with an amazing group of people. I was the strongest and healthiest I’d ever been in my entire life. I felt great, I was eating exceptionally well, and living in Germany meant my husband and I were constantly travelling and exploring new places. I definitely miss the ease of travel overseas and would go back to living there in a heartbeat.
How do you avoid burnout?
As a creative and a business owner, burnout knocks at my door constantly. I make myself get up and walk away from my computer every few hours – I go outside and take a walk, check on the chickens, or throw the ball for the dog.
What is one personal habit that contributes to your success?
I don’t know if success is the right term, but I give myself a wellness budget. That way I never feel like my self-care is affecting our family’s finances. If I want to use that for yoga classes, or for a massage, then it’s okay and there is no guilt surrounding it. I also make it so those workout times are appointment that I cannot miss. If I have a yoga class at 4:30, then there’s no excuses, I’m at that class.
WHAT IS A HEALTH AND WELLNESS RESOURCE YOU WOULD SHARE WITH THE COMMUNITY?
I may be biased, but InDependent, for obvious reasons!
IF YOU COULD RECOMMEND ONE BOOK TO MILITARY SPOUSES, WHAT WOULD IT BE AND WHY?
Anyone who knows me know I’m not a reader, but I love these two books: Reading People by Anne Bogel & Eat the Yolks by Liz Wolfe.
(Purchases using the links above will help InDependent cover administrative costs for our programs at no extra cost to you!)
ABOUT Leslie Brians
Leslie was born and raised in Virginia Beach, VA and has a B. A. from the University of Mary Washington and a M. Arch degree from Texas A&M University. An Army spouse, Leslie was named the 2016 Armed Forces Insurance Spouse of the Year for Ft. Bragg. She is the co-founder and Creative Director of InDependent, the Director of Design for Legacy Magazine, and the owner of Leslie Brians Design. She lives on an urban homestead outside of Ft. Bragg NC with her husband, her mixed-breed dog Bear, and flock of four chickens.