In 2008, when Jeanine Finelli left the pharmaceutical industry for a career as a health coach, it was an essential professional – and personal – step for her. Now her work, whether through her own business or at Essential Health and Wellness in Cary, is about prevention, not medication, and she’s written a book applying this approach to help people in a bad spot: “Love Yourself to Health ...with Gusto! ABC Guide for Surviving a Toxic Relationship.”
“You leave a relationship because you want to live, but you have to have the health to back it up,” Finelli says. Loving yourself and admitting your own worth is a major step, too: “It’s realizing that you have to put on your mask first in order to help small children when the plane’s going down.”
The N&O caught up with the Cary-based author to talk about “Love Yourself to Health.”
Q: Tell us a little bit about your book.
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A: It’s my third baby, really. It is geared toward women, but I’m finding out a lot of men can benefit from what is in there as well. It is a survival guide. Toxic relationships are an equal opportunity destroyer – all incomes, all races, all nationalities, all age groups.
Q: It talks about food and lifestyle habits, too.
A: It’s about understanding the cravings. You’re dealing with stress, and you’re exhausted because you’re not sleeping, so you’re constantly reaching for sugar or caffeine to get you through the day. I do address foods that help calm, foods that rev up your immune system so you can fight whatever comes your way.
You want to build a strong house, kind of like the three little pigs, because the big bad wolf is coming. It’s fortifying your body so you can withstand chronic stress.
Q: What are some of your tips on how to actually get some sleep?
A: A lot of it is freeing yourself from the guilt of feeling you have to sleep in the marital bed or the bed where your partner is sleeping. It’s okay to sleep in the extra bedroom; it’s OK to sleep on the couch.
Other things I recommend are treating yourself the way you would a baby. You wouldn’t put a baby in front of a TV and give it birthday cake and then say “go to bed.” That same mentality applies to adults – unplugging from technology; watching your sugar and caffeine intake in the afternoon and evening; eating things that release more serotonin in the brain; removing yourself from the toxicity in the home, even if it means going to watch a different show in a different room.
Q: What’s the philosophy behind falling in love with yourself?
A: When we’re children, when we’re young adults, we’re told you have to love yourself first, you have to look in the mirror and like what you see. The whole route of getting healthy and getting whole and attracting healthy and whole people into your life is honoring yourself and not in an egotistical way. So often, women and men are giving and giving, but they’re neglectful to their own well-being in various ways.
Q: What would you say to someone who’s in a toxic relationship and reads your book?
A: I refer to my reader often throughout the book as “Bella,” because I want the reader to always feel beautiful. I would tell them that, just like them, I felt that it would never go away. I felt like I would never find joy in the simple things in life, and I understand. I’ve been there and I do get it and I promise you that if you honor your heart, that is the most important thing you own, the shift happens. Never, ever, ever put your health on the table of negotiation – that is the most important thing.