Boundaries Part 2 (The Vegan Life Coach Podcast Episode 22)

If you haven’t listened to episode 21, part 1 of our 2-part series on boundaries, check it out HERE first!


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*Links mentioned in the episode are at the bottom of this page.

Setting and sustaining boundaries is a skill. Unfortunately, it’s a skill that many of us didn’t necessarily learn growing up. We may have picked up a few pointers here or there, but in reality, it can be very challenging and feel really uncomfortable when we first begin setting those boundaries. 

I have a few steps that will help get you started.

Step #1

First, look to your emotions to help you name your limits. Two really good indicators of boundary violations are discomfort and resentment. If you are feeling uncomfortable, you can likely point to a boundary being violated from the outside. 

If you are feeling resentment, that is often an indicator that you have pushed yourself beyond your limit to avoid feelings of guilt, or you are giving in to someone imposing their expectations or views on you. You are responding by violating our own limits.

Step #2

Pay attention to your feelings and become clear about your own limits, both internally and externally. You can’t set good boundaries if you’re unsure of where you stand. 

Identify your physical, emotional, mental and spiritual limits. Consider what you can tolerate and accept, and identify what makes you feel uncomfortable or stressed. Those feelings coupled with your understanding of your values help us identify what our limits are.

Take a moment to think of some examples of where your limits might be. For example, you may find that you are uncomfortable when your best friend asks you for money.  This might be a mental and emotional limit that you are wanting to set with your friends and family. You do not lend money because everyone has a different philosophy when it comes to money, and it is something that tends to cause a lot of conflict, so that is your particular limit.  

Another might be that you become stressed when your children have a lot of the neighborhood kids over. Maybe this is your line. Your children can play with the neighborhood kids in the yard or the garage but not in the house. This is an example of setting a physical boundary. 

Maybe your partner expects you to take on the bulk of the responsibility for the household; however, this is something that you find impossible to do successfully.  It is okay to set the boundaries for those areas that you are willing to take responsibility for and no more.

Step #3

The next step is to give yourself permission to set boundaries and work to preserve them. When setting new boundaries, emotional pitfalls can cause us to wonder why we deserve to have boundaries in the first place. Fear, guilt and self-doubt are big potential pitfalls. 

It can feel strange when we start to set boundaries because we aren’t used to creating these limits. We might fear the other person’s response if we set and enforce our boundaries. We might feel guilty by speaking up or saying no to a family member. For example, many believe that they should be able to cope with a situation or say yes because they’re a good daughter or son, even though they “feel drained or taken advantage of.” This can cause some self doubt… So much so that we might wonder if we even deserve to have boundaries in the first place.  

It’s important to keep going back to why you set the boundaries in the first place. Creating that line and holding to it creates a healthier you and healthier relationships in the long run.

Boundaries are all about honing in on your feelings and honoring them. If you notice yourself slipping and not sustaining your boundaries, ask yourself some questions…

What’s changed from when I set this limit? Consider the situation. “What I am doing or [what is] the other person doing?” or “What about this situation is making me resentful or uncomfortable or stressed?” 

Then, examine your options: “What am I going to do about the situation?” “What do I have control over?”

You might also consider the roles you play, and commit to putting yourself as the leading role in your life. It is not only okay, but also necessary to put yourself first and to consider your needs just as important as the needs of others.  

Prioritize self-care. Taking care of yourself isn’t selfish… It is necessary for a healthy life. Putting yourself first also gives you the energy, peace of mind, and positive outlook to be more present with others and be there for them. When we’re in a better place, we can be a better wife, mother, husband, co-worker or friend.

Step #4

If you’re having a hard time with boundaries, seek some support, whether that means finding a support group, church, or seeking counseling, coaching or time with good friends. 

About 13 years ago, I went through a divorce. It was painful and devastating as most divorces are. But when I came out of the emotional haze, I started really analyzing what went wrong. 

It came down to boundaries…. I didn’t have any, and my ex didn’t meet a boundary he couldn’t violate. I knew it was imperative that I build them.  First of all, I didn’t have them in my marriage, and I didn’t have them anywhere. 

Secondly, I had to form a new relationship with this person…We had children and he wasn’t going away. Finding support was the key.  I found a church that had a support group based on forming boundaries and the book, Boundaries: When to Say Yes and How to Say No to Take Control of Your Life by John Townsend and Henry Cloud.  

The support group was a game changer, not only for my relationship with my ex husband but for my relationships with others. I don’t think this would have been possible without the education and support that I took hold of during that time.  I can tell you now that my ex husband and I have a great relationship.  One in which my children never have to choose between their parents, and one in which I can honestly say that he and I are friends.

Step #5

It’s not enough to create boundaries; we actually have to follow through. Even though we know intellectually that people aren’t mind readers, we still expect others to know what hurts us, or makes us uncomfortable or stressed. Since they don’t know, it’s important to assertively communicate this when a boundary is crossed. Most of the time, it is just about being direct and communicating respectfully with the other person (or yourself) so that you can work it out together.

I want to point out that there is a world of difference between being assertive and being aggressive. To hold firm to healthy boundaries it’s vital to communicate those before you feel the need to become aggressive with another individual. 

Being Assertive puts forth your needs and views confidently and directly. Being assertive is simply standing up for yourself while still considering that others have different views than your own and that yours are equally important. It is becoming your own best advocate.  

Aggressive behaviors can sometimes look like you’re living the life of a Neanderthal, where the biggest club is equal to the loudest voice. I’ve noticed in my own work that sometimes aggressiveness is mistaken for strength, when in fact, aggressiveness really notes a lack of control and a lack of respect for boundaries.  

Like any new skill, assertively communicating your boundaries takes practice. So, if this is something new to you, I suggest starting with a small boundary that isn’t threatening to you, and then incrementally increasing to more challenging boundaries. Build upon your success. Setting boundaries takes courage, practice and support.

If you aren’t used to setting these limits with people, it can be difficult at first. Your inner people pleaser will be screaming at the top of her lungs! That’s okay. Let her scream, and start with something small. 

Maybe you will want to start with your partner and block off an hour of time on the weekends where you do something completely for yourself and by yourself while he or she takes the responsibilities of the kids. 

Maybe it is less threatening to start with a co-worker who is often teasing you about your healthy food choices or your vegan food choices, and you simply have a conversation with that person about not appreciating the teasing and why. 

Maybe it is with your children and the amount of money you are spending on their impulse buys at the grocery store, and setting the limit before you go that you are only buying the things that are on your list and if they request something extra, you will say, “No.”

As you build confidence in this, that inner people-pleaser will stop screaming, and you can start on the bigger boundaries where you anticipate a little more push back from those around you.

– Stephanie Hamilton Aguilar, Vegan Life Coach Academy, Master Mindset Coach


Episode 21   |   Vegan Life Coach Academy


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Boundaries (The Vegan Life Coach Podcast Episode 21)

We hear the word, “boundaries” thrown around a lot, but many people lack a clear picture of what they really are, or at least why they are important.


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*Links mentioned in the episode are at the bottom of this page.

In this episode we dive deep into the topic of boundaries, which are key for healthy relationships.  Healthy relationships have a balance of both togetherness and separateness.  Boundaries really just define the lines that set us apart from those in our lives.  And this is an important part of making empowered choices, both when it comes to our personal growth and daily activities as well as those choices we might make with another person. 

Something that may surprise people… Boundaries are a measure of self-worth. Our self-worth has everything to do with the way that we value ourselves. And, if we have a high self-worth, if we really value ourselves, that value is NOT contingent on the feelings others have towards us. As we value ourselves less, our self-worth diminishes, and we place a much higher value on another person’s feelings toward us. We can see this play out in our values in really five different ways:

  1. Intellectual Worth and Boundaries:  I am entitled to my thoughts and opinions just as you are entitled to yours.
  2. Emotional worth and boundaries: You are entitled to your own feelings to a given situation, as are others.
  3. Physical worth and boundaries: You are entitled to your space, however wide it may be, as are others.
  4. Social worth and boundaries: You are entitled to your own friends and to pursuing your own social activities, as are others.
  5. Spiritual worth and boundaries: You are entitled to your own spiritual beliefs, as are others.

When you break it down into these five areas, it’s really easy to see where boundaries get violated as well as where they get drawn. It’s also much more clear as to what a toxic relationship, with both yourself and others, may look like.  

When we talk about toxic relationships, this is often difficult to define. Toxic relationships are marked by a lack of personal boundaries or the inability to maintain those boundaries set. Healthy relationships have a balance of both togetherness and separateness. Boundaries really just define the lines that set us apart from those in our lives.  This is an important part of making empowered choices, both when it comes to our personal growth and daily activities, as well as those choices we might make with another person. 

We can start by creating limits on acceptable behavior from yourself as well as those around you. A healthy life is marked by good boundaries. This is because we have to create healthy boundaries in our relationships with ourselves.   

Just as you would never tell your best friend she was worthless or ugly, this is a limit I encourage you to set for yourself. The feeling of discomfort when you’ve spent way over your budget… The discomfort is a signal that you’ve crossed a personal boundary. These are healthy guidelines and limits that we set for ourselves because we have established that we have self-respect and limits to our behaviors in the relationship we have with ourselves.

Three Parts to Setting Healthy Boundaries

First, have a clear understanding of what your limits are. For this it’s important to have clarity on what your values and commitments are.  

Our limits are really an extension of our values and commitments. For example, one of my boundaries with my children is that they are not allowed to use my bathroom. I value time alone, and that became a pretty big issue when I became a mom. I set this physical boundary that has a big emotional impact for me. I know that I need a space that is mine because I need a break from the outside world, including my beloved kiddos.  

Another boundary for me is with my co-workers.  I know my tendency to be a people pleaser. I was brought up in the Midwest, and still live here today. There was no higher compliment to pay someone than to say, ”She would give you the shirt off her back,” and I know for me, I probably would. The problem came when I was fulfilling the needs of everyone, even the people at work that weren’t particularly significant in my life. I had to start saying the word, “No” to the people in my workplace.  I was able to start doing this by delegating more of the duties that were simply not mine to complete, but had fallen to me because I was simply too “nice.”

Second, it is not enough to know where your limits are. You also have to communicate and maintain those limits effectively. Knowing our boundaries and setting them are two very different hurdles to overcome. 

Setting boundaries does not always come easily. It’s often a skill that needs to be learned. As renowned psychologist Albert Bandura noted, much of human social learning comes from modeling behavior, so if we do not have adequate role models whose behavior we can encode through observation and later imitate, we are at a loss, often left fumbling and frustrated.  

Finally, we have to come to the understanding of why this is important.  I think this is the perfect phrase to define what boundaries really mean. It is ”knowing where you end and I begin.”  It is that sense that there is a separateness that makes you, you, and me, me, and that if we blurr those lines of separation, we both end up unhappy and unhealthy.

In the next episode we will be giving you the exact steps you can take to effectively implement boundaries into your life and relationships… Boundaries that can empower you to start moving through the world with more confidence, joy, peace, and freedom!

-Stephanie Hamilton Aguilar, Vegan Life Coach Academy, Master Mindset Coach


Vegan Life Coach Academy


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The Extraordinary Gifts of Loneliness & a GIFT!

If you caught me on the summit, click HERE for your gifts…

And then check out this incredible article by our head mindset coach Stephanie Aguilar!

I’d been wanting to crawl out of my own skin for weeks.  

My generally humorous approach to life had left me shivering in my own unbidden sadness. My normal focused and analytical head was traded for a mush-mind that I did not recognize. I felt as if I were simply walking through my days in a misty disconnect from myself and everyone around me. In the middle of my chest was an ache, one that radiated at times to my throat, arms, and belly. Tears entered my eyes with every sad song, heartfelt gesture, and beautiful quote turned into an internet meme.

One Saturday evening, I was alone in the kitchen, and I was struck, almost to the floor, with a realization.  I was lonely. I was profoundly lonely. In my bones, I was lonely. In my eyes, I was lonely. In my heart, I was lonely. Through my entire body, I was lonely. Instead of pushing this loneliness away with a bag of Doritos and a Netflix binge of House of Cards, I decided to dig into the loneliness and see what was there for me.  And here’s where my lonely-heart story gets interesting.

Giving My Loneliness a Wink

Loneliness is an emotion that we humans avoid and deflect with everything we have.  It’s an emotion that we rarely HAVE to face, though it is as common a human experience as any. Yes, we feel it, but do we really have to face it? I didn’t. With endless ways to distract myself and make superficial connections within seconds that would put it off, actually looking my loneliness in the face seemed not only terrifying but completely foreign. Yet, I was compelled to dive in to see what was there.

I wasn’t interested in the WHY… that was simple enough… but I wanted to know what was in the loneliness for me. David Gandelman, founder of, says in his meditation on loneliness, “The more we try to avoid loneliness the more we feed it… but what happens if we walk deep into our own hearts and meet that loneliness?” And with that terrifying inspiration, I walked deep into my heart and gave my loneliness a wink.

I found in my loneliness that I was ashamed. I was embarrassed to be lonely. I have love in my life.  I have friends and family and colleagues and clients that I am connected to and love deeply. And, still, my chest ached with feelings of isolation and being misunderstood and alone.

In my curiosity, I uncovered something really unexpected. I am ashamed of my loneliness not because I believe I have no reason to be lonely but because I am afraid my loneliness diminishes my independence. It is my most cherished quality and yet, my irrational shame was centered on this thought that if I am lonely, I must be weak. If I am lonely, I must not be able to stand alone. If I am lonely, I must be unlovable.

Whoa! That wink had just turned into a full-on, in-your-face, slap-your-mamma-to-Tuesday kind of moment. And just as unexpectedly, my loneliness gave me some gifts.

The Big Reveal

First, my loneliness gave me the gift of vulnerability. I am an open book when it comes to my past shame. I will tell you about my failed relationships. I will talk for hours about my eating disorder. I will even tell you all about my early false starts at motherhood. But, sharing my in-the-moment, private thoughts and inner-most shame is another matter entirely.

Brene Brown says, “Vulnerability is not knowing victory or defeat. It’s understanding the necessity of both; it’s engaging. It’s being all in.” And so, in this loneliness and shame, I was all in. I bared my present shame to three people in one day… my two best friends and a complete stranger on Instagram. I said these exact words, “I am profoundly lonely” not knowing if I could trust myself to actually say the shameful words or the people I chose to tell and doing it anyway. And the remarkable thing was this: With the shame exposed, the loneliness lost its power.

My chest still ached. I still felt incredibly alone and misunderstood. But, I was in the light of vulnerability, and the loneliness lost its power. No longer did I feel the need to hide and run away from this emotion. I no longer felt like I needed to hide in a sleeve of oreos or scroll Facebook for hours.  Instead, I was ready to “say hello to my loneliness” as David Gandelman further invites in his meditation.

After exposing my shame, I found that I have the strength to be lonely. I am capable of being lonely while still being me. I did not fall apart. I was not a mess. I found I can sit with my loneliness and carry it around until I am done with it and it is done with me.  

Susan David, author of Emotional Agility: Get Unstuck, Embrace Change, and Thrive in Work and Life, says, “We still don’t like the things we don’t like—we just cease to be at war with them.  And once the war is over, change can begin.” I don’t like being lonely, but I am now willing to lay down my ineffective weapons against loneliness because I found that the battle was not one that could be won.  And when I did that, I stepped into the realization that the loneliness was bringing me to the warrior heart I had completely dismissed.

Discovering the Irony

I think that we often fight against our emotions not because we are strong but because we believe ourselves to be completely incapable of sitting with the difficult emotions. We go into battle with distraction and incomparable replacements and all of those other weapons that ultimately fail.  The truth is if I did not face my loneliness, I would not know my capabilities, and isn’t that the irony here? My avoidance of loneliness was due to my shame and perceived dependence on others, when in actuality, my loneliness brought me to a strength I had not yet realized I had.

Through this strength, I started to uncover the causes of my loneliness. I am lonely because I love easily and yet, accepting love is very hard for me.  I am lonely because I have spent the last decade and a half nurturing everyone around me and neglecting to cultivate the friendships that feed my soul. I am lonely because I have often chosen isolation over adventure. I am lonely because I am human.

“Life’s beauty is inseparable from its fragility,“ Susan David says in an unparalleled way. I am human and fragile, and that is part of my beauty. My aching loneliness is preparing me for a gorgeous dance, one in which I will feel that inherent beauty and one that only I can create. I am not empty;  I am raw.

Since I am now fully available to accept the penetrating awareness of my loneliness, I am finding that I am deepening in compassion for all. The startling fact is, the loneliness is creating more space for love and purpose and a fullness that I have not yet experienced because I was too busy keeping loneliness at bay.

As Peme Chödrö states in her work, The Places that Scare You, “Compassion is not a relationship between the healer and the wounded. It’s a relationship between equals. Only when we know our own darkness well can we be present with the darkness of others. Compassion becomes real when we recognize our shared humanity.” Let me know my darkness. The world needs my compassion. It does not need another pretender.

My work, both as a client and as a coach in the Plant-Empowered Coaching Program, didn’t bring me to the superficial conclusion that I must be positive at any cost. Working through the process brought me to the belief that I am strong beyond the thoughts and emotions that fuel me as a human.

Only I am in charge of my happiness and meaning in this life. No one else has that contract with me but me. And despite my fragility and loneliness, I love all that I am enough to give every emotion a wink and say hello, then take it for a fantastic, terrifying ride. It isn’t enough to recognize the emotion, and through the Program I learned that I am powerful enough to take control of the thoughts that don’t serve me and view my emotions with compassion and curiosity rather than shoving them to the side to be dealt with at a later date.  This is the power of the process. This is the power of freedom. This is the power that is me.

How to Instantly Become a Sexy Fit Vegan

There it was… A comment on my Facebook post.  An unsolicited, petty cut on my generally upbeat, self-deprecating Facebook page.

“You aren’t my perception of a Sexy Fit Vegan…”

My first thought?


And this is where I earned my crown as a Sexy Fit Vegan.  Now, I know that vulgarities generally don’t inspire regal images.  But, here I am, nonetheless, A Sexy Fit Vegan Bad Ass Queen.

The struggle to earn this has not been easy.  I have lived much of my adult life avoiding all criticism, insult, and slights.  Just a short time ago, my inner response wouldn’t have been nearly so bold. I would have found myself locked in self-doubt and punishment for days upon days because that comment would have only served to validate my own beliefs about myself.  I believed I wasn’t good enough to be sexy, fit, or vegan. Frankly, my daily life was an exercise in how invisible I could be.

And then, it all changed.

I was watching my daughter look at herself in the mirror, pulling at her clothes, tears in her eyes because she hated her new body and the curves that were springing in places that had been flat just months before.  She had previously been filled with self-confidence…more than self-confidence…a fearlessness that is uncommon in most humans I have known. At her core , that is just who she is: Brave and bold is the way she was born.

Now I watched her and realized I was watching myself.  She had learned this from me. She was putting aside her natural courage and confidence to play small, just like me.

No, I had never verbally criticized my body in front of her, but I didn’t have to. My years of striving to be invisible had spoken for me. And here it was…my legacy landed on my beautiful, fearless, bold daughter.  And the younger one was watching too.

And so, that day, I decided to love my body.

And, here’s how I did it:

  1. I acted.  I didn’t think.  I didn’t feel. I acted.  I invested in myself. I connected with Ella and the Plant Empowered Coaching Program.  I threw away all that I thought I knew about meal plans and exercise and micros and calories.  I trusted the process. I let it take me where I needed to go.
  2. I became relentless with the thoughts that weren’t serving me.  I chipped away at that belief that I wasn’t enough with evidence that I am MORE than enough and never too much.  I dug into the powerful self-coaching that Ella has so masterfully honed. I stepped back with curiosity and compassion to view these beliefs from a new perspective, and then I went to work becoming the master of my thoughts.
  3. I fully engaged in a vegan life.  These are my values. I could no longer put junk and suffering in my body.  I could no longer live in a way that didn’t fit with what I knew to be true for the sake of others’ comfort.  I had to live my values in the ultimate act of self-love.
  4. I began treating my body as I would treat anyone I love.  I made decisions about nutrition and movement out of a place of love.  I wouldn’t feed my children Mountain Dew and Doritos for supper, so why would I do this to myself?  I wouldn’t let my children miss a sports practice for a game that they love, so why would I miss a workout?  I wouldn’t allow anyone to speak unkindly to my children, so why would I allow me to do that to myself?

Somewhere along the way, I began to realize that I wasn’t just acting or deciding. I was believing. I no longer wanted to hide. My butt is still big. I have a mommy tummy.  My arms still jiggle. And I am fierce and loved. Not beautiful for a big girl. Not just a pretty face.  I am fully alive and engaged and independent and strong with all my curves and every imperfection. I am a Sexy Fit Vegan who makes decisions based in love of the body I have TODAY, not the one I might have tomorrow.

When I decided to love my body, my girls decided to love theirs.  Not long ago, the three of us decided to go shopping for new jeans.  We were in the checkout line, and a woman approached me. She said something every mother longs to hear, “You’re doing it right.” She went on, “ You and your girls are laughing and admiring your butts in the mirror.  Mine is still in the dressing room crying. You’re doing it right.”

And, you know what? I am. Now, I talk about how a banana and spinach make me feel alive in the morning. Now, I discuss what a badass I am after my kickboxing workout. Now, I look in the mirror and say out loud, “Damn, Girl!”  I am the example for my girls, not just the voice that tells them they’re beautiful. I’m the example that their own voices are the most important, truly, the only ones that matter

I watched this play out in another way just after that Facebook comment.  You see, I’ve taught my daughter something else through my actions. I’ve taught her to love herself enough to not engage in self-doubt because of someone else.  She had her first, young love break up this week. And when this little boy decided to dump her through text without explanation, her response was to say, “Grow some balls.”  Not, “What is wrong with me?” Not, “Why am i not good enough?” It was, “Grow some balls.” That’s my fearless, beautiful, bold girl!

So, forgive my sailor’s mouth when I say that one of my proudest accomplishments of this decade has been to respond to outside critics with “Fuck off”.  I am a Sexy Fit Vegan. I say that without apology or caveats.

My body continues to respond to my love, and if I never lose another pound I am still a Sexy Fit Vegan. I am fit and sexy and plus size and vegan. And another’s perception of what a Sexy Fit Vegan is simply makes no difference.  The fact is, no one gets to decide if I am a Sexy Fit Vegan but me.