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Anna Hanks gut health Pin It
Photo: Instagram/@annahanks

As a fitness model, Anna Hanks for many years lived a life of constant travel (and constant scrutiny)—and her health suffered in the process. She’s dealt with celiac disease and Epstein-Barr virus, and was hospitalized several times in the process. She saw countless doctors and healers, and did so much research that she eventually trained to become a certified holistic health coach in her own right. But simply slowing down has been the key to a dramatic turn-around she’s experienced this year—here, she shares the keys to her newfound healthy lifestyle.

One year ago, I decided to take a risk. I decided to jump and take the leap of faith into the unknown. Not to mention, I was lucky enough to land on solid ground. I chose to walk away from a career path that would have been my ultimate dream or end goal several years ago.

The last five or six years of my life have been spent in hyper-speed, where I gained a ton of life experience as well as important lessons, but I lost sight of who I was at my core, such as what really mattered to me and what work truly aligned with my values and beliefs. Today, I haven’t done a photo shoot in more than a year, and I now live mostly in one place—and after several years of nonstop health issues, I am feeling better than I ever have.

In the moment where I packed up my bags to head home for this new chapter, I wasn’t fearful or disappointed; in fact, I actually felt relief.

In the moment where I packed up my bags to head home for this new chapter, I wasn’t fearful or disappointed; in fact, I actually felt relief and this inner knowing that I had chosen the right path, the one that would lead me towards purpose and fulfillment.

I am the person I am today because I let go of old habits and thought processes that no longer serve me. The more I let go, the lighter my load has been to carry. As I look back and see how far I have come, I also look ahead to my future knowing that I still have work to do and always will. I personally think it is healthy to continuing challenging yourself to get uncomfortable and sit in “it” (the fire) for periods of time and do the work necessary to move out the old and welcome the new.

Anna Hanks
Photo: Neil Gavin

 

Most of my early life, I failed to recognize the power of the mind-body connection. The way I saw it, there were the physical body, injuries, and ailments—and then all the “mental-emotional-feelings” stuff. I’ve endured several health challenges in recent years, but I have learned how that old pattern of thinking could not be further from the truth.

Most of my early life, I failed to recognize the power of the mind-body connection. The way I saw it, there were the physical body, injuries, and ailments—and then all the “mental-emotional-feelings” stuff.

Separating the two as different entities ultimately did me a disservice in my healing. “The mind and the body are connected in every single way, as we are powered by our thoughts; what we think we become,” says Buddha.

So when physical symptoms surface such as illness, disorder, the low back nerve pain or hip weakness, what is the discomfort trying to tell us? In order to figure out what’s going on, what I’ve found is: Maybe we need to shut off the noise to just be in the silence. Excess worry and anxiety will keep us in the chaos, living in pain. One of my favorite quotes by the poet Pavana is: “The pain will leave once it is finished teaching you.” Giving myself the time and space to listen to my mind and body, and the messages they communicate, is one of the most important lessons I’ve learned.

Anna Hanks
Photo: James Farrell

I know that by making my feelings a priority, I am showing others that I want to help heal that “this is how it’s done.” I am now constantly creating space in my life for self-care and the things that make me feel at peace—and it has made all the difference.

In order to figure out what’s going on, what I’ve found is: Maybe we need to shut off the noise to just be in the silence.

I believe that we each hold the power within to be our own healers, since no one knows you better than you know yourself. Never forget that there is peace always within you and everyone you meet—if you give yourself the time and space to get in touch with it. Your mind (and body) will thank you.

An excellent (and soothing) way to slow down: with restorative self-care rituals. Or, treat yourself to this sound bath from Sara Auster.