The lifestyle change that reduced stress and made me healthier

Easy lifestyle changes to reduce anxiety and live life with ease featured on 45 Fairmount by Monica WoodhamsAnthropologie Sweater (in store, similar here) | Baldwin Denim Maxwell Crop (I'm 5'1" so they're long on me) | Sandals

Raise your hand if you feel stressed out like 90 percent of the time. 3 years ago, that was me sick of that feeling and ready to make a lifestyle change that would reduce stress and make me feel healthier from the inside out.

From the outside, I convinced myself I was healthy. I ate good whole foods during the week and treated myself on the weekends. I went to a personal trainer twice a week and did yoga in between and was running half marathons twice a year.

But, my stomach hurt all of the time, I was gaining weight unexplainably and I was anxious from the second I woke up to the time I fell asleep, whether it was a weekday or weekend. I also kept breaking out in crazy rashes from stress that got so bad I had to leave work early one day (and I used to NEVER take a sick day).

Here's the crazy thing -  I never really felt alone in this. Unfortunately, it's just all too common for women in their twenties to feel like this. The positive thing that's come out of it is that it's no longer a taboo subject to talk about, which means I see a huge shift into healthy living in the future. This is pretty freaking refreshing to think about considering how bleak the news is these days, right?!

So in case you've been feeling stressed and like life isn't maybe as easy as it could be, I decided to create a blog series on the lifestyle changes I made that literally turned my life around.

You can read the another post in the series here on staying active when you're at a desk all day.

But first I'm not saying that I don't get stressed out easily anymore and the life is a piece of cake.

What I have is a toolbox that keeps me from stress taking over my day and to live by flowing throughout my day and not letting the hiccups become mountains.

Spring 2017 style with cropped denim and Gucci handbag styled by Monica Woodhams of 45 Fairmount

It all goes back to the second time I moved to LA. This was after I was working in Dallas in a job and social environment that stressed me out like craaaaaazy.

Within a month in LA, my stress levels dropped significantly and I was back at my healthy weight - it's like the stress actually physically manifested itself in my body and once I released it the weight was gone too.

You could say that it was the change in environment or moving to a new city, but I believe it was the LA mentality that did it.

I know that we can't all uproot our lives and move to LA just to feel better, so the point of this post is to bring you the lifestyle changes I learned in LA and adapt them so that you can live this, what I call "LA Babe State of Mind" no matter where you are.

The lifestyle changes I made to reduce anxiety featured on lifestyle blog 45 Fairmount by Monica Woodhams


One of the awesome things about LA is that there is an endless supply of fitness studios. So, if you know it's time to get back in shape, there are seriously so many different types of workouts that you're going to find one you like.

In Dallas, I was obsessed with Equinox. Honestly, I still am and would do anything for there to be one in Kansas City. But, I wasn't a huge fan of the one closest to me in LA. This got me to try out

This got me to try out Class Pass. Class Pass gave me access to literally just about every workout in LA, so it was time to step out of my comfort zone and try something new. I tried barre classes, elliptical classes (yeah, like spin class but on an elliptical - not a fan BTW), spin classes, dance classes, a pilates/trampoline class, etc.

What I realized was how much more willing I was to workout (and actually got results) by doing completely different types of workouts. I also realized that one of the workouts I was terrified to go to (the dance class) ended up being my absolute favorite.

Kundalini yoga was also a big one for me and while there aren't many Kundalini yoga studios, yet, there are so many free online resources that you can do it from the comfort of your own home.

Actionable: See what new fitness studios have opened up in your area. Chances are your first class or week is free so you have NO excuse. Also, I live in KC and there are fitness studios like Orange Theory and Hula hooping classes (I'm going for the first time tonight!) popping up all over so even if you feel like there's nothing going on in your city, it might just be a Google search away. Also, if you're not really sure where to start, check out Class Pass. It's available in about 40 cities.

Spring outfit with avarcas, crop jeans by Baldwin, bell sleeve top, and a Gucci handbag featured on lifestyle blog 45 Fairmount by Monica Woodhams


Self-care is another thing that I learned in LA that you don't have to be in LA in order for it to make an impact on your life.

While yes, LA can be superficial at times and beauty conscious, it can be beauty conscious in a positive way as well. We are programmed to think of things like massages and facials to be a luxury, but the truth is that your body needs to be massaged in order to function at its best.

There are so many health benefits to massages that go beyond "feeling luxurious."

Being in LA also opened up my eyes to other forms of self-care like cupping (yep, before Michael Phelps brought it to national television) and these are the types of things I thought I could only do in LA but the reality is when I searched for a place to do in KC, I found an incredible place near my apartment with just a quick Google search.

Actionable: Add one new self-care activity that you can do at home per week like a face mask or a bubble bath. Once a quarter, book yourself an appointment to get a massage or facial. 



LA makes it soooo easy to eat healthy food. Fresh veggies and fruit are staples everywhere. It's also a place that has the more "trendy" healthy food items available so you don't really have to go out of your way to try new things.

This is where I fell in love with Kombucha. In the last year, I've seen Kombucha become available at coffee shops and grocery stores. Even Lawrence, KS has a local brewery.

When I left LA I was a little bummed that I wouldn't have a juice shop on every corner, but a lot of the LA juice shops make things accessible to you no matter where you live.

Y'all know I LOVE Moon Juice and you can order the Moon Dusts online or a lot of yoga studios carry them too to make your own moon dust latte at home. If you have a Whole Foods in your city a lot of the most popular juicieries are now carried nationwide. Also, Pressed Juicery and Juice Served Here also ship their juices.

I recently started subscribing to Daily Harvest, which is a subscription service of smoothies and soups and it feels great knowing I can just treat myself to a green smoothie whenever because I have a month's supply in the freezer.

Also, because my stress was down and the food I was eating was actually energizing me, I didn't feel guilty going out for ice cream or a sweet treat whenever I wanted.

Actionable: Check out juice shop or coffee shop you've been wanting to try out in your city. You could also search and see if there are any kombucha brewers local to you!

How to reduce stress with exercise and self care featured on lifestyle blog 45 Fairmount by Monica Woodhams


Fun seems to be the first thing to go when we're really stressed out or anxious. But, it's kind of the secret to letting it all go. Living in LA I was lucky to have a roommate/bff that was always up for doing something on the weekends. Even if I felt stressed and could have just hung out in my room, I new just getting out and exploring would change everything.

The excitement from this would even last into the early week because I would feel recharged and inspired for a new week.

Even when I lived in Dallas I was a big proponent of "going on vacay in your own city." The majority of our time in the cities we live, we are going down the same roads and into the same places on repeat. There's SO much more to see though and it can be so inspiring to discover a new neighborhood.

Actionable: Explore your own city. Grab a friend and Yelp or head to and check out a restaurant in a neighborhood you rarely go to. Bonus is to look up any local shops in that areal. EXTRA bonus: take a day trip outside of your city that's about a 1-2 hour drive away. Extra extra bonus: do this spontaneously.

Like I mentioned earlier on in the post, this is the first part of a series called "LA Babe State of Mind." I'm going to be sharing about the lifestyle changes that I adopted in LA that reduced my anxiety and made my life flow with ease. 

Other posts:

STAYING ACTIVE WHEN YOU'RE AT A DESK ALL DAY Did you know that 6 hours of sitting is considered "excess sitting" and can lead to back pain and bloating?




Want more ideas on things you can implement no matter where in the world you are? Here's a free little checklist with 27 things you can do for an LA Babe State of Mind. Click on the checklist below to get access to the PDF!

Download your checklist here!


Photography by Morgan Foitle