I had the pleasure of interviewing Dr. Janine Delaney, a Psychologist and Fitness Expert whose goal is to help others realize that being fit is not just about the way you look. It’s about being healthy in mind, body and soul. At the age of 49, Janine started her social media brand a little over one year ago and has successfully spread her words of encouragement and inspiration to over 2M followers across the globe.
Thank you so much for doing this interview with us! What is your backstory?
My pleasure. To give you a bit of insight into my life and values, I have never been very typical and have always been proud of that. I like being different in my opinions, ideas and outlook on life. It has allowed me to continuously grow and enjoy experiences most people don’t give them themselves the opportunity to take advantage of. As a matter of fact, my teenage daughters will tell you my number one piece of parenting advice is to try and “not” fit in. The less we worry about what others think, the more we can follow our heart and chase our dreams.
So that is what I did at the age of 48 when I decided to do something totally outside the norm from what my female peers were doing.
Instead of fighting the aging process, I decided to use my lifetime experiences in fitness, to embrace my maturity, and to show others that age is just a number and we are only as old as we let ourselves feel.
With the holiday season almost over, many people have been visiting and connecting with relatives. While family is important, some of them can be incredibly challenging. How would you define the difference between a difficult dynamic and one that’s unhealthy?
This is a great question and often we only know about one type of family: “ours.” So it is difficult to determine if your loved ones are a dynamic group of people or a group of people who may be imposing negative influences on your life. The key difference is not whether you share the same values necessarily, but if family members are supportive of how you live your life, regardless whether or not it fits into their particular lifestyle. When unnecessary peer pressure and criticism come into play, that may be an indication that your family is not respecting how you want to lead your life.
Families have a large part to play in our overall mental health. While some members may be champions for wellness, others may trip triggers. What advice would you give about engaging both types of relatives?
You can’t choose your family, they say, so the best advice is to learn how to manage each of the personality types that make up your family group. It is easier to change the way we deal with others than try and change someone else.
For example, if Aunt Sally is always trying to encourage you to have another glass of egg nog, learn to brush her comments off. Understanding what you want and having confidence to stick with that, will go a long way during these gatherings.
We often hear about “toxic relationships.” Do you believe there is a difference between a toxic family and an unhealthy one? If so, how would you advise someone to handle a toxic family member?
The word toxic means bad for you. Someone who is bad for you, whether it is a friend or family member, is someone who cares only about their needs and not yours. The difference between an unhealthy friend and a toxic friend is how you let that person influence your life. Friends can always be negatively persuasive (unhealthy), but a toxic friend is one you let have the upper hand in how you live your life. Do not allow someone to have that control over you, ever.
Can you share about a time where you helped someone overcome a challenging family member?
My good friend was always getting depressed around the holidays because it was spent at her sister’s. She would be ridiculed for her weight and always left sad and depressed. We spoke about changing this pattern and she decided to be prepared to ignore the comments and focus on something positive. Once she started letting her sister see she would not play into this sort of behavior, her sister eventually stopped.
Sometimes you have to take control and not feed into bullies, just like you did in high school. Don’t let them win!
Managing mental health in high stress situations is challenging and although gatherings are only a few times a year, they can make a major impact on overall wellness. What 5 strategies do you suggest using to maintain mental health when faced with an unhealthy family dynamic?
- Take time for yourself
- Spend time with those you feel safe around
- Make a list of 5 things that you love about yourself or your life
- Find an impartial listener and talk things out
- Do not feel trapped. Remove yourself from the person or situation if necessary.
What advice would you give to family members who are allies of someone struggling with mental illness at these gatherings? How can they support strong mental health without causing friction with other members of the family?
Be supportive and never judgmental. Do what make you feel good, even if it means others may not agree. If someone needs help, stick by them, don’t shy away. People often fear the unknown and that creates isolation. Stick together and get through it one day at a time.
What is your favorite mental health quote? Why do you find it so impactful?
“Success is when opportunity meets preparation.” -Zig Ziglar
I love this because it takes into account external and internal factors for any sort of accomplishment. It removes guilt of not always being perfect and yet empowers us at the same time.
If you could inspire a movement or a change in mental wellness, what would it be? How can people support you in this mission?
I feel I am on that journey now by spreading the message that we don’t need to be perfect. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter who is richer, prettier, smarter or thinner than you. All that matters is that you are happy. Spread the word!
What is the best way for people to connect with you on social media?
I am always available on Instagram direct message @Janine_Delaney
I would love to hear from you