Anna Maria Locke

December 2015

a season of peace

December 2015Anna LockeComment

It's the Friday before Christmas, and I’m sitting in on the couch in our sunny living room next to our little Christmas tree, listening to the Folk Christmas station on Spotify, drinking gingerbread tea and trying to focus so I can get some work done before Ben comes home and we officially kick off our break!

I feel lazy and super unmotivated on the outside, and buzzing with excitement for the holidays on the inside.

On Sunday Ben and I are hitting the road for our annual Christmas road trip (central IL to Tennessee to Indiana this year). I’m looking forward to lots of downtime hanging out with family, eating cookies, drinking wine, and dreaming and planning for 2016.

I can hardly believe 2015 is almost over, but at the same time I’m almost giddy with relief and happiness because it’s been a long, (good but) exhausting year! I feel like I’ve been living inside a whirlwind and I’ve just escaped into quiet stillness.

My mom and sister came up to Chicago to visit on Monday and we spent the afternoon at the Christkindlmarket in Daley Plaza window shopping, eating cinnamon sugar almonds, and drinking gluhwein. 

I also took myself on a fancy coffee date to Julius Meinl, an adorable European-style cafe, just because. And got my nails done! I'm so happy I finally introduced myself to the wonders of the no-chip mani. I used to think manicures were a waste of money. Just one of the little self-worth mindset shifts I've made!

Last night I threw a virtual hangout party with the coaches on my team to celebrate our wins and share our hopes and dreams for 2016. These women feel like family to me, they support me and lift me up, and I realized that this time last year I only knew two of them. The community I'm building through Beachbody is so incredible and empowering!

This has been possibly THE most relaxing week I've had all year.

Partly because I've been doing fun things, but mainly because my brain and nervous system has finally received the SLOW THE F*** DOWN memo I've been trying to send for the past several months.

I've been having an inner battle with my perfectionism all year and the inner mean girl voice who tells me "you're not enough" and I'm finally learning how to raise my umbrella to protect myself from the "should"-storms and be ok with simply BE-ing instead of constantly doing, striving, and achieving.

When you're trying to change your entire mindset and the way you view yourself, you're going to face a TON of resistance from your ego, which wants to hold you back and sabotage you so you never leave your "comfort zone," even if your comfort zone isn't even comfortable anymore.

So the closer you get to a personal breakthrough, whether it's weight loss, a career move, a new relationship, or internal growth, the more intense the resistance is going to feel. Apparently it even attacks your immune system and will make you physically sick, which I learned the hard way last month.

If you've been following my blog this year, you know I've been dealing with a huge internal growth spurt.

Let me catch you up....

May : I decided to take ownership of my perfectionism, and refused to let it define me any longer.

October : I decided to break up with my inner mean girl, AKA ego, and not take her shit anymore.

November : I started to stop rushing through life and practiced living in the present moment, cutting myself lots of slack. My ego didn't like it. I got sick and burned out. I had one last HUGE epic break down last month, involving a never-ending cold and anxiety so bad I actually went to the doctor to make sure I wasn't dying. (She told me I was super healthy and gave me some Xanax).

December : I finally cracked through and learned how to let myself recover through a self care mindset.

Where I'm at now

I'm really good. I'm spending lots of time reading fiction books for fun (!), sitting and thinking without freaking out over being alone with my own thoughts, journaling and reflecting. I'm eating what I want to eat and listening to my body, which means lots of healthy foods and greens but some sugar and holiday treats here and there too.

I'm not motivated to grow my business right now, so I'm taking the pressure off. I know my energy and motivation will kick back into gear next month, and I have lots of plans :)

For the first time in my adult life, I’m letting myself relax and just BE.

My brain is calm, I’m content, I’m proud of what I’ve accomplished, and I know I still have a long way to go before I reach my big dreams and goals...but most of all I’ve learned how to be happy within the process of growth and dream-chasing.

At the beginning of the year I didn’t know how to separate my sense of self worth and success from my accomplishments, achievements, paycheck, and work.

Now I know that all I have to do is be myself, and that’s more than enough.

I'm finally aligning with my purpose in life, and for the first time I feel successful and worthy simply for being myself.

For the FIRST TIME I am at peace with my body.

I'm at peace with the fact I'm not perfect.

I'm at peace with the fact I don't have to "be productive" 24/7 or work long hours to feel like I'm doing something with my life.

I'm at peace with the fact my business is growing slower than I thought it "should," and I'm not making the income I desire yet.

I've been seeking this peace for so many years, in jobs and opportunities and accomplishments, and I had no idea it was inside me the whole time. 

This is why I love sharing my story on my blog. Because when we're in the middle of something, we can't see the other side until we're at the other side, but it's fascinating to look back and be able to tie the pieces together.

I've let go of a lot of the stress and pressure I was placing on myself for 2015 because let's face it...there are some goals I simply didn't meet and they're not going to happen now. And that's ok! There's a brand new year waiting just around the corner.

Next year is going to be full of creativity and more growth and discovery, and I can't wait.

Wishing YOU lots of peace as we head into the holiday season. Let yourself relax and be present in the moment...everything will get done, I promise. You deserve to relax :)

xo Anna

p.s. Want to work on your OWN inner and outer transformation next year? I'm super excited to be welcoming new clients to my January group coaching for details!

self care is NOT selfish

December 2015Anna LockeComment

As a coach and mentor I strongly believe in “you teach what you most have to learn yourself.”

And one of the biggest lessons I’ve learned from life in 2015 is how to treat myself better.

When I was working with my awesome life coach Cady back in April, she asked me the question “Anna! Why can’t you just be nice to yourself?”

And that question has literally been echoing in the back of my head all year. Not in a bad way that makes me beat myself up even more, but more in a neutral and inquisitive way because it made me take a huge step back and go "huh! I don't know..."

Why can’t I be nice to myself?

After months of personal development and reflection, I’ve discovered several possible answers.

  • I’m female.
  • I’m a perfectionist.
  • I've been living with anxiety and low self-esteem my entire adult life.
  • I’ve attached my sense of self worth to what I do and how much I earn.

There’s more to the story, but those are a few of the answers, and I’ve been working on recovering from all of them (minus the female one, sadly I have to accept the hormone rollercoaster).

And while coaching dozens of other beautiful and talented women through their own inner and outer wellness journeys, I’ve realized that I’m not alone in being my own worst enemy and critic.

Almost all women tend to be WAY too hard on ourselves.

Yes, there’s pressure and demands coming externally from the society and culture we live in. Messages that tell us success equals having a respected, well paying job, a gorgeous home, a perfect relationship, adorable pets or babies, an active social life, pretty social media accounts, a fit body, a perfectly decorated Christmas tree, and a "meal plan."

But that pressure is NOTHING compared to the pressure that comes from within. The pressure we place on ourselves to do more and be more because we never quite feel good enough.

We isolate ourselves, and start to believe that we’re alone and the only person in the world struggling with these fears and insecurities and doubts and stresses.

We beat ourselves up for not measuring up to our own ridiculous expectations, and we talk to ourselves in ways we would NEVER talk to our best friend. Why do we allow this?

I think the whole problem stems from our linear approach to life. The approach we're taught in grade school that teaches us more is more, and productivity leads to success.

We’re taught that we need to work harder and do more, so we never give ourselves time to relax and simply BE. As we grow up we become self conscious of our place and role in society and our little bubbles, and we start to judge ourselves.

We lose sight of who we really are, our connection to our creativity and inner energy that is so abundant when we’re little kids.

We numb our insecurities with food, overwork, over planning, to-do lists, alcohol, and other addictive behaviors, which only make us feel worse. We never feel like we’re in control, even though we always are, and we never make time for the hobbies and passions we enjoyed as children.

We believe that spending time on ourselves is selfish or a waste of productivity.

How do we drag ourselves out of this negative cycle?

The answer is simple, but hard.

It all comes down to self care.

What does “self care” mean to me?

To me, self care is less about specific actions like taking bubble baths (although that’s part of it), and more about a state of mind.

A state of mind in which you view yourself as WORTHY of love and happiness, just the way you are. 

It’s a state of mind I’m currently working on, because I’ve internalized so many damaging and negative beliefs about myself over the years (I’m not pretty, I’m not good enough, I’m fat, I’m overwhelmed, I'm too late, I’ll never get to where I want to be, etc etc.), the damaging self-criticism I like to call the “inner mean girl” (also known as the ego).

Self care is so important because it means taking a stand for yourself and believing that you deserve to be happy.

It means convincing my head AND heart that I'M worthy of love, acceptance, and success just by being myself, without having to change or improve or blog more or have a bigger business or rack up more external achievements.

It means putting my own needs first before reacting to the demands of life and work. Listening to my energy and honoring the signals my body is telling me.

Taking ownership of my day and doing the things I know will make me feel better, even if I’m facing resistance or am pushing out of my comfort zone.

Self care means ENDING the comparison trap, and celebrating other women's success without letting it diminish my own.

It means using jealousy as a POSITIVE tool to guide me towards the actions I need to be taking, instead of remaining paralyzed in inferiority.

It means carving out time to work on my “soul projects” like painting or sewing, even if zoning out with Netflix sounds more tempting.

It means NOT attaching ideas of business or productivity to my creativity...even though I'm the queen of turning all my hobbies into small businesses.

Self care is doing things like waking up early and going for a run even if it’s cold out and I’d rather be lazy and stay in bed, because I know it will clear my head and give me confidence and energy.

Or writing vulnerable blog posts like this instead of hiding within my journal and mind, because I feel good when I can express myself and connect with other women who are dealing with the same stuff.

Self care is taking action based on how I want to FEEL, even if I don't feel it in the present moment. 

To me, self care is taking myself and my dreams seriously instead of blowing them off as unrealistic, unproductive, or a waste of time.

What can self-care do for you?

When you take time to put yourself first, you'll feel less overwhelmed and stressed. You will be able to relax, breathe deeper, and live in the present moment instead of worrying about the future or your to-do list.

You'll start to experience breakthroughs.

You'll be able to fully show up for your relationships and family without feeling resentful.

You will feel nourished and cared for from the inside out.

And if you’re thinking that you’re too busy to take time out for yourself…let the one and only Liz Gilbert give you a loving smack-down.

“Free time" isn't something you find in life, but rather something that you MAKE — carving it out of your real life obligations, because you care.
This is how you act as a co-creator of your own life — rather than just being swept away by the demands of the real world. This is you saying, "I am interacting with my life in a purposeful way," instead of saying, "I am a helpless slave to my many duties and obligations.
I'm telling you — this can always be done. Whatever it is you really care about in life (health, spirituality, creativity, meditation, love, service, study) you can always find 30 minutes a day for it. You have the other 23-and-a-half damn hours for everything else. (And everything else will feel better and less oppressive, too, when you know in your heart that you are devoting some part of your day to a purposeful endeavor.)
Set the timer on your phone (I KNOW you have a timer on your phone) and begin. Thirty minutes.
Use that thirty minutes a day to push back hard against all the voices that say: "Not now. Not here. I can't do this yet."
Those voices are dead wrong.
The truth is:
"Right now. Right here. We're doing this."
(Elizabeth Gilbert)


I know one of the biggest barriers to sticking with a self care routine (or any positive change) is lack of accountability.

Why is it so easy to procrastinate the things we KNOW will make us happy and feel better? I don’t know, but accountability is key.

Sometimes all it takes to get out of our heads and take ACTION is to see our goals and dreams written out on paper. Making things visible makes them real, and we have to remind ourselves every single day why we want to do the things that make us feel good.

And I’m a big fan of positive reinforcement, because if we immediately reward ourselves for good behavior, we’ll be more motivated to keep the groove going!

So I decided to make a Self Care Sticker Chart, because who doesn’t love stickers?

How to use the Self Care Sticker Chart

1.     CLICK TO DOWNLOAD and print it out!

2.     Fill the blanks with self care action items you want to make room for this week (workouts, meditation, healthy meals, walks, call friends or fam, hobbies, journaling, reading, etc…)

3.     Set a target goal for the number of times this week you would like to complete each action (hint: don’t be a hero and try to overhaul your entire life all at once! Small gradual changes are key.)

4.     Stick your chart to your fridge or bedroom mirror, and give yourself a sticker or mark off each day you complete your self care actions!

5.     At the end of the week, reward yourself no matter how many stickers or boxes are checked off. This isn’t a competition or a race…and if you can mark off ONE action that’s major progress!

Remember: self care is a PRACTICE. You won't be good at first.

That's ok, being good is not the point.

Just start with baby steps, five minutes a day of breathing, or eating without reading, working, or watching TV.

My mission as a coach is to help women connect with themselves and develop a sense of self-worth that comes from within. I want to believe in you until you have the courage to believe in yourself. I want to be the mirror that reflects back your own beauty and light.

Self care is NOT selfish because the people in your life deserve to have you at your best.

So go do all those little things you've always wanted to do. Show up for yourself, even for just 30 minutes a day, because you deserve to be happy.

You are so shiny and bright!

xo Anna

p.s. I would LOVE to see your Self Care Sticker Charts in action! Email me pictures, or post on social media with the hashtag #selfcarestickerchart!

how to recover when you feel burned out

December 2015Anna LockeComment

Every person needs to take one day away. A day in which one consciously separates the past from the future. Jobs, family, employers, and friends can exist one day without any one of us, and if our egos permit us to confess, they could exist eternally in our absence. Each person deserves a day away in which no problems are confronted, no solutions searched for. Each of us needs to withdraw from the cares which will not withdraw from us. 

(Maya Angelou)


I know that we’re in the middle of a crazy busy time of year.

I know that you have a billion and one things on your to-do list.

I know you're an overachiever who loves to make plans and take on projects at work, in your personal life, and why not throw a holiday party for your friends while we’re at it?

I know you push yourself every day to be better, to improve, to work towards becoming your happiest, healthiest self.

I know this has been an intense year, emotionally and energetically draining.

And I want you to know…

It’s ok to slow down and relax.


It’s ok to take time off.

It’s ok to spend a lazy weekend being unproductive.

It’s ok to skip a few days of your workout routine.

It’s ok to do yoga or stretching instead of blasting through an intense cardio session.

It’s ok to take a few days off your clean eating regimen and eat the damn cookies.

It’s ok to put your giant dreams and aspirations and life plans to the side until January.


It’s ok.


I’m learning through experience that if we don’t take time out to recharge, we end up burning out. We’re human, not robots! We can’t expect to operate at max capacity day in and day out and give all our energy away to our jobs, workouts, family, friends, and responsibilities without spending equal time resting to replenish those energy stores.

I’m a natural achiever and striver, always looking for what’s next, always looking for ways to improve and grow and become a better version of myself, but one of the biggest lessons I’ve learned (the hard way) this year is that it’s just as important to let ourselves back off and rest.

If we ignore the signals our body is giving us, it will eventually break down on its own.

I’m not a medical professional, but I have a theory as to why we all get sick this time of year. Yes, it’s partly because there are more viruses going around, but I think the main reason is that our immune systems crash because it’s the end of the year and we’re all overworking, stressed out with work, personal, and family issues, and trying to mentally and emotionally wrap up and wind down another year.

I almost never get sick, but the week before Thanksgiving I came down with a cold, and the annoying congestion has been hanging around in my head ever since. This physical breakdown is coming at the same time as a winding-down (ok...crashing!) of my mental and emotional energy too.

What I've been completely ignoring is the fact that I’ve been operating on full steam ahead for almost two years, so I’m taking this burnout as a sign to slow down. I’m laying off a lot of self-imposed pressure and attachment to goals and am finally cutting myself some slack.

Lots of lazy time, listening to my body instead of my head, eating what I feel like, unplugging more, sleeping in, going on runs to clear my head instead of obsessing over my workout schedule, drinking lots of tea, and really honoring my energy instead of pushing through.

Last weekend Ben and I drove home to central Illinois to visit my family since we spent Thanksgiving up here in Chicago with Ben’s side of the fam.

It was a much needed break, and reminded me that I need to make an effort to get out of the city every once in a while to recharge!

I gave myself permission to NOT check my email, worry about my business, or work on scarves for my Etsy shop.

Instead, I remained zen through an extra hour of rush hour traffic as we left the city on Friday night, stopped at McDonald's for dinner and drank a Coke Zero for the first time in about a year (plus fries and an ice cream cone), drank mulled wine with my sister and her new boyfriend, went for a frosty morning hike with my brother, returned to my high school for my little sister's Christmas band concert, ate way too many cookies, read, ignored my phone, and celebrated our family's Dutch holiday tradition, Sinterklaas.

It was just what I needed to reconnect with myself and recharge, and now I feel completely calm and relaxed heading into the last two weeks before our Christmas roadtrip.

I know that whatever gets done will get done. Whatever DOESN'T get done won't result in anyone dying. I know my energy and mojo will return when I'm ready for it. My anxiety that was peaking last month has gone away (for now). And I actually feel excited about life again!

Signs you’re burning out

-You feel constantly overwhelmed

-You’re always thinking about your to-do list

-If you do have unstructured free time (like on the weekends) you don’t know how to relax, so you fill it up with more errands and work.

-Your brain won’t stop spinning at night, or when you try to be quiet and still.

-You can’t sit through a sermon at church without thinking about your grocery list or things to accomplish.

-When you skip a workout you feel guilty and anxious, and feel pressured to “make it up” later.

-It’s hard to deal with little upsets and daily obstacles without having an emotional breakdown.

-You feel like you don’t have control over your life or time.

-You’re constantly on edge, and feel like you’re missing out on something important.

-Eventually your body might shut down and you’ll get sick with a cold or the flu.

It’s easy to glorify being “busy,” and super tempting to just grab another cup of coffee and push through when life gets overwhelming.


Instead, force yourself to step back. Cancel your evening plans and take a bubble bath. Go to bed early. Sleep in. Take care of yourself!

So how do we avoid a physical/mental/emotional burnout? I’m not sure yet. I’m definitely still working on learning how to connect with my energy.

I do know how to bounce back though!

Simply allow yourself to rest. This is a perfect time of year to retreat into hermit mode.

You’ve been working hard all year, give yourself time to absorb all the changes and growth.


You are doing MORE than enough.

You are enough.

xo Anna