With the New Year just beginning, wellness is on a lot of our minds, but sometimes it’s hard to know where a healthy approach to wellness ends and where unrealistic expectations or judgmental assessments about ourselves begin. How do we challenge ourselves to live healthier lifestyles without feeling punished or like our healthy decisions can’t last long term? How do we know if achieving our best selves means working on the mind, body, or something completely different? Luckily, we were able to sit down with Physical & Spiritual Fitness Coach, SaraMae Hollandsworth about her approach to wellness, how it involves working on what’s inside as much as out, and how the journey to wellness is different for anyone, but possible for everyone. Look for her blog later this year after her stay at The Independence promoting wellness and how to find your own unique healthy lifestyle.

The Independence is excited to host native Oregonian SaraMae in 2022

Without doing the work to set ourselves free, we will never know the heights to which we can truly soar – SaraMae

Independence Hotel (IH):  Can you tell us a little bit about your background? What first made you want to get involved in the wellness industry?

SaraMae:  Fitness has been a part of my life since childhood, and I have spent my 20+ year career in the health and fitness industry as a personal trainer, health coach and competitive athlete. Fitness has served as an anchor for me throughout life. I transitioned into the wellness industry over a decade ago as I began to understand the holistic nature of health and fitness. 

IH: What does “wellness” mean to you?

SaraMae:  To me wellness means that everything is connected, that our outer world is a reflection of our inner world, that a balanced life and body allows for optimal health and happiness, and that when we are in alignment, things begin to fall into place synchronistically. 

IH: Your IG bio mentions that you are a “spiritual fitness expert.” What does that entail?

SaraMae:  To me, fitness is as much a spiritual endeavor as a physical one. The growth, breakthroughs, mindset, strength, grit and endurance that you develop through your body translate to all other areas of your life. Not only do we get stronger with each step and rep, we learn spiritual lessons as well that serve us in all areas of our lives. When I coach people with their health and wellness, I am also addressing mental, emotional and spiritual health as well. I address the root cause of symptoms. We can get physically fit, but if we do not do the deeper, inner work, we will always be chasing our tail in a sense. 

SaraMae’s methods have a holistic approach to wellness, extending beyond the physical element

IH:  What is your favorite part of working with people on wellness and health?

SaraMae:  My favorite part of coaching others in health and wellness is helping them have breakthroughs in their health and lives. It is incredibly fulfilling to help others heal and grow in ways that improve the quality of their lives. 

IH:  I love your philosophy of “every body holds a story.” And sometimes we’re so disconnected from our bodies (or our past traumas) that even we don’t know what that story is. How has that shaped your approach as a healer and instructor?

SaraMae:  Everything that happens to us, every experience we have, every choice we make and action we take impacts us physically, mentally and emotionally. Trauma gets stored in our bodies, and it is important to understand that so we can do what is needed to heal ourselves. Unprocessed trauma and emotions can get stored in our bodies and cause dis-ease. I know that experience firsthand. In my professional experience, as well as my own healing journey, I have studied extensively about how everything is connected and how it impacts us. Certain emotions get stored in certain organ systems and parts of our bodies. It can be like a scavenger hunt. Physical symptoms can often point to something deeper that often had a mental or emotional cause. It can point to a place where we need healing. Our body is always telling us a story. 

SaraMae and an energized group of workout companions

Your energy is your currency. Spend it well. Invest it wisely. – SaraMae 

IH: Can you share with us some of your foundations of healing? What was your own process of healing like?

SaraMae:  I have been on a healing journey for as long as I can remember. As a child, I remember having an awareness that I didn’t have to accept the issues that I “inherited” in my family line. Addiction, abandonment, mental health issues did not have to be my story. So I started from my earliest memories learning about how people wrote a different story for themselves. I have always had a strong sense of responsibility to help myself and others break the generational cycles in their lives so that they can heal and live the abundant lives we desire and deserve. 

My foundations of healing are multifaceted and holistic in nature. Fitness is a big one for me, as is fueling my body with food, thoughts and relationships that allow me to thrive. When we feel good, we do good. Fitness helps my mental health as much as it does my physical health. I move my body daily. Mobility, meditation, breath work, prayer and meditation are all part of my daily routine, as is filling my mind with uplifting and life giving thoughts. We live in the house our words built. Additionally, therapy and massage are a part of my healing and wellness regimen. Our bodies and lives are like an onion. We just keep peeling back one layer at a time. Everything that happens to us is happening for us and providing feedback to help us live abundant lives. Life is like a mirror and it is reflecting our inner world back to us. Our inner world is our access point to create lasting change in our lives.

When I nearly died and subsequently lost both of my legs below the knees, it was a wake up call to all that needed my attention. It wasn’t an easy journey, but it was a worthy one that empowered me to heal myself from the inside out, and create a life that I love. It’s an ongoing journey. We never stop growing if we choose it. 

IH:  Do you find that fitness applies as much to the mind as it does to the body when it comes to wellness?

SaraMae:  Fitness absolutely applies to the mind every bit as much as it does the body. Being strong physically came naturally to me, becoming strong mentally required more effort on my part. I came from a negative environment and had to work hard to transcend it. That part is extremely rewarding to me. We can turn our struggles into our super powers. What we believe, we become. The gym is such a great place to work that out in a sense. You can set goals, work towards them and achieve them. My approach as a trainer has always been to show others how limitless they truly are. When we accomplish it physically, it changes the way we think, see and feel about ourselves and vice versa. I was a competitive bikini model in the past and I never felt good enough no matter how fit I was. When I lost my legs, I chose and learned how to love myself unconditionally. I feel better about myself now than ever before. I want that for everyone. So many people turn to fitness because they don’t feel great about where they currently are physically, and then when they achieve their aesthetic goal, they still don’t feel worthy or enough. It’s an internal issue, not an external one. The key is to love and accept yourself where you are at and every step of the journey. Feeling good physically can help our self worth, but it isn’t enough in and of itself. We have to do the inner work to fully feel at home in our bodies and at peace in our lives. 

IH:  What is your favorite aspect of Instagram as a way to reach out to people, and what is challenging about that form of communication when it comes to your work?

SaraMae:  I LOVE connecting with people. I am a people person and Instagram makes it so fun to connect with people all over the world. I love connecting with new people and cheering them on. It can be challenging in that social media has become so all encompassing. Many people spend too much time on it. It can be loud and distracting. I think many people are overwhelmed by it and can tune you out. 

Mental fitness can empower your physical fitness

Through her passions SaraMae is able to connect with people all over the country and the world

IH:  If your students/followers could take one piece of advice from you, what would that be?

SaraMae:  I would like my followers to take from me that life is happening for them, that all things work together for their good no matter how hard or painful they might be at the time, that they are worthy and capable of creating a life and body that they love to live in, and that their only limit is themselves. 

IH:  It sounds like you’ll be returning to The Independence later in the year to promote fitness and overall wellness (yay!). Can you let us know a little about what that might look like?

SaraMae:  I look forward to returning to The Independence later in the year to promote fitness and overall wellness. It is such a beautiful property. I actually filmed part of my mini documentary nearby recently, and have always wanted to utilize their beautiful rooftop space for a fun fitness experience. Because fitness is such a big part of my life, my closest friends are my workout partners. We like to combine fitness, fun, nature, yummy food, wine and all the things. I am creating a fun experience that will include fitness, personal growth and fun with friends. We like to grow together and have fun doing it. 

If you’d like to hear more from SaraMae (while you wait for her trip to The Independence, of course) check out her podcasts on Facebook (SaraMae Hollandsworth) and Instagram  (@thesaramae).