For GOFITJO, gratitude begins with honesty
Joanne Encarnacion, an integrative health and life coach, gets real about her journey towards loving all aspects of herself.
Joanne Encarnacion, known as GOFITJO, describes herself as a ‘modern day mother hustler’, and has an approach to her life and her work that is raw, real and honest. She shares this perspective with clients as an integrative health and life coach, helping people realize their dreams of becoming a better version of themselves one rep at a time.
Her outlook on life is a direct result of the experiences – good and bad – all of which have taught her the importance of connection and revealing our true, unfiltered selves to the people closest to us. Here, she shares how gratitude is a choice to celebrate the past while living with honesty in the present moment.
Consider your health from all angles
How would you describe your work as an integrative health and life coach?
Something I’ve learned through my own wellness journey is just how interconnected every aspect of our life is. It never made sense to me to look at just one part of a person’s life without considering the other parts, because it’s never truly just about losing weight. It’s about trying to figure out what fitness means to someone.
What I do is consider your overall well being and help you set realistic goals for sustainable change. We take a look at how your career and your relationships might be impacting your health, including your relationships with food and exercise. It’s truly an integrative approach, and is focused on helping you achieve longer-term results.
Build a foundation with choice
What does the process of working with a new client look like?
Our first conversation is about setting goals. It’s my job to make the goals realistic by asking tough questions, and helping you get real with yourself and your vision. To help make goals realistic, I use a method called ‘crowding out’. If you have a goal to cut down on caffeine, it’s going to feel disempowering to just cut out coffee. Together, we build out strategies to crowd out the extra coffee by replacing it a green juice, or water, and then assessing how you feel at the end of the day.
This process helps create a foundation of choice, and builds little successes on top of one another. Really, what we’re doing is reprogramming and unlearning all the things you’ve learned about health and wellness, and working together to create your own definitions.
It’s all in the past
What is the importance of our history when we’re looking to find more wellness in our lives?
I think we forget to look back and celebrate the things that have gone well for us. When we’re reaching for a new goal, being able to look back at the things you’ve overcome allows you to sit in gratitude for your journey.
A self-audit is something I like to do with my clients to help them remember all the things that went well. It’s a powerful exercise to list out all the things that someone has been able to accomplish, and help them see that they can be grateful for their own efforts.
Be the change
How have your earlier years shaped the person you are today?
When I was younger I was dealing with a lot of depression in my teenage years. I felt very alone at school, and the Filipino culture I had at was always clashing with the American culture around me, so I also felt alone at home.
When I tried to take my own life at 16, it was a wake-up call for me and my family. We realized we needed to talk about our emotions and what was really going on in our lives. We needed to ask “how are you doing today”, and then allow each other to respond from a full and authentic place.
That experience is part of what shaped me into a person who strives for truth, no matter what: no matter if it’s good, bad or ugly. I have a tendency to say what’s in my heart and say how I feel in that moment, because I know how important it is to honor how you are feeling in that moment, and not just say everything is fine.
Face your fears
What do you think holds people back from the benefits of being grateful?
I think one of our biggest fears is self-reflection and facing our insecurities - and also our greatness - head-on. Being truly honest with yourself and with your emotions is not an easy thing, and I think a lot of us run from that, even though we can make our lives so much richer by coming to terms with who we really are.
We tend to give credit for our successes away to others, and look to blame someone else when we think we don’t measure up. I often say I’m so grateful for my friends, my family and my community for helping me reach my goals, but in saying that, I’m focusing the attention outside of myself. I’m not giving myself the chance to look at my choices and own up to where my life is at, in both positive and negative ways.
Don’t hold back
What advice would you give someone who is looking to be more vulnerable in their lives?
Be open and honest in your communications, both with yourself and with others. We often hold back our feelings, thinking that maybe life will give us another chance, or maybe another moment will be better. We spend so much time curating the pretty, happy version of ourselves, but what if we curated the raw and the honest, too? What if we remembered that people want to see us how we really are, in that moment?
Start by being grateful for yourself, and the challenges you’ve overcome. It might feel selfish, but really, it’s taking care of yourself so that you can be more vulnerable with the people around you. And that’s when real change in your life starts to happen.
Learn more about Joanne and her work as GOFITJO.