Anxiety and CBD talk with GoFitJo + our fave products to find your calm
I’m one of the lucky ones to know Joanne Encarnacion for the past decade, and while we’ve only shared a few warm hugs in real life together, I’ve come to know her and the woman she is becoming by witnessing her transform before everyone’s eyes. My spare moments with Jo were always joyful and gracious and I remember looking up to her as a mother when she would post beautiful words about motherhood or one of her daughters. Five years ago, a real-life, unexpected raw moment between a mother and her daughter became a realization that would change Jo and her family’s lives forever. I’ve watched her single-handedly define flawsome, leading women to embrace every earned stretchmark and dimple bestowed. Then adopting strictly regimented healthy eating and workout routines and taking the bodybuilding industry on fire. Today, she continues to amaze me with her spoken truth and thought-provoking self-exploring challenges she leaves her tribe with on a daily basis. Recently named Top 20 New Health and Wellness Role Models by Ariana Huffington and Thrive Global, I was thrilled to interview and feature Joanne on MJ’s second issue cover. And with all these amazing accomplishments under her belt, she also suffers from something that isn’t always talked about—ANXIETY. I sat down to talk with Jo about all of these things and how CBD has helped keep this bad-ass woman at the top of her game. Ready, set, GoFitJo!
WHAT WERE YOU LIKE AS A YOUNG GIRL?
I was always an adventurous kid. I never did anything that was conventional or the norm. People used to call me “the rule-breaker.” I just thought that rules were meant to be broken! That’s why we have guidelines in the world, not rules. I grew up with two hardworking immigrant parents from the Philippines who were trying to navigate how to blend two cultures into one: their Filipino culture and American culture while raising children—so there was a lot of headbutting just trying to make sense of our worlds.
WHAT DO YOU THINK LED TO YOUR ANXIETIES AND DEPRESSION?
My parents are Filipino-American and in their culture, their upbringing, you don’t talk about mental health & wellness, and you don’t talk about mental wellbeing or emotional wellbeing. I knew it was such a challenge for them to give me that space, but it was also difficult for me because I just needed to be seen and heard. I needed somebody to acknowledge that I have a voice and my voice is important. I’m not just going to do or be whatever you want.
YOU HAVE UNDERGONE SUCH A MASSIVE INTERNAL TRANSFORMATION IN RECENT YEARS. WHAT MOTIVATED THIS CHANGE?
At 29, I was dealing with anxiety and depression for about 18 months. I thought to myself, ‘Okay, you know what? I deal with anxiety, depression, and clearly, this is just life in America as an adult. We’re just supposed to constantly be overworked, overstressed, and as women over-pressured to be all the things.’ These are the stories that we tell ourselves as women; I can be this incredible wife and on top of that, be a mom, plus look good. I remember one of the thoughts or ideas that I shut out of my head was, as a mom, thinking you’re not supposed to put time and energy into yourself because you’re supposed to sacrifice everything that you have for your children.
I guess I’ve lived that message for quite some period of time not realizing that it was breaking me down more and more. It was one day my daughter and I were getting ready for a Sunday family outing. She looked at me and said, “Mom, you’re so beautiful.” And I turned around and looked at her, and I said, “No, I’m not. I’m ugly and fat.” And the way that I said this is in that same innocent way that you would talk to your girlfriends in a dressing room and the look on her face the moment I said that is one I will never forget because she just took off running. I remember it felt as if I took the truth that I was her queen, her biggest role model and I just took that little truth of her and crumpled it up and tossed it to the side. It was that moment when I realized I am becoming a woman that I no longer recognize and I didn’t want to become that. It was that moment when I started taking a big audit on how I ate and how I move my body. Here are a few of our favorite brands that help us manage our anxiety.
WHAT IS THE MOST SIGNIFICANT CHANGE YOU’VE MADE FOR YOURSELF?
One of the things that I have changed as of recently regarding mindset is, ‘let love in and let life surprise you.’ And that has been something that I think I have been trying hard to honor. I believe many people hang onto a lot of old family structures and their old family learning. We all grew up with belief systems from our families, our cultures, and sometimes that can hold us back from really discovering our own personal truth because those are the things that were brought up as truth. The problem I feel with that, for a lot of people, is when they don’t allow themselves to adapt or adjust. I think love is truly the purest form of happiness, understanding, and connection with ourselves and with other people. One of the things that I like to say is, “Life isn’t happening to you, it’s happening FOR you.” I think when we can get into this mindset of, non-attachment to the outcome, I think that’s when we become a little bit freer and open to whatever might be an outcome. We get so hard on ourselves when things have to end or disconnect, and I understand that because it’s hard for things to end and change. There’s a mourning process, but we’ll have to go through.
HOW DO YOU STAY MOTIVATED AND DO YOU EVER FIND YOURSELF IN A FUNK? HOW DO YOU PULL YOURSELF OUT OF IT?
I go through it all the time. I’m all about redefining meaning in my life and other peoples’ lives. So even when I’m in a funk, I have realized over time, I’m just brooding over an idea and working through it and not allowing myself to see a much wider perspective. It’s just me and tunnel vision. When I get into these funks or when I get unmotivated to do something, I typically expand my mind by meeting new people or having different conversations with other people that I’m not having at the moment. So it’s just getting a new perspective, and to me, I think that can happen with anything that we do that’s out of the norm. Whether that’s having lunch with a friend that you haven’t talked to in months, traveling to a completely different new place, or opening up a book that you might have never read before. This is how I keep myself motivated; just by changing my perspective and seeing what I can learn out of a different experience. I love the conversation I have with the regular people in my life, but sometimes when we get in that same conversation over and over again with the same type of venting, you’re just kind of stuck in the same way of processing. And if you’re in stuck in the same way of processing, how are you ever going to be able to look at that way to process it differently? We need some inspiration sometimes, and it’s amazing to see where people are putting their energies and being wowed and inspired.
AT WHAT POINT DID YOU BEGIN TO DOCUMENT YOUR JOURNEY AND DO YOU EVER FEEL SILLY OR SCARED THAT YOU MIGHT SAY SOMETHING WRONG? HOW DID YOU MOVE PAST YOUR PERFORMANCE ANXIETIES?
I remember my first post with GoFitJo and the funny thing is it started as a hashtag to document my journey. At the time, I didn’t really think about our connectivity as a human being; I thought the connection that we have with people is just super small. When I wrote my very, very first job post and it was the day I decided to start this fitness journey. It was a very raw post. I said, “Alright guys, I’m getting it out there. Many of you guys don’t know this of me, but I have been dealing with depression for the last 18 months. I know that that’s hard to believe because when friends would have seen me, I’m typically laughing and pretty joyful. But this is where I’ve been at, and it’s been a hard struggle, and I’m deciding to embark on this fitness journey and start. I’m prepping healthy foods for me, and I’m being super restrictive and then exercising a ton just to regain the self-confidence within myself.” We need to highlight the real moments within ourselves. When I do highlight these real moments and these kinds of hard truth or hard posts, I tend to just put it out there and then not open my Instagram for hours, sometimes a day because I don’t know what’s going to be received well. I do that because I want my platform always to be a place where my heart is allowed to speak. It’s an open and honest truth, and sometimes we don’t know if people are going to say when you speak your open and honest truth. So that for me is like a way of just getting it out there, and if it can help one person to feel like they’re human and connected with other people and they’re not entirely alone, then I’m doing exactly what I set out my purpose to do. Tapping into the vulnerability within myself allows people to live their most authentic truth even if it hurts. And I think that’s where the power of healing ourselves and other people can begin.
HOW IS CANNABIS INVOLVED IN YOUR DAILY LIFE? HAVE YOU ALWAYS BEEN OPEN ABOUT YOUR CONSUMPTION AND ADVOCACY?
No, actually. Cannabis stepped into my life about a year and a half ago. When I was a kid, I smoked to get high, and that was the only thing I ever thought cannabis was really used for. I know that people started talking about it over the years that it helped with cancer, epilepsy and while I understood that, I think even for myself, I had this built-in personal stigma.
One day I was complaining about my shoulder pain from an injury from aggressive weightlifting when I was bodybuilding. I wasn’t giving myself enough rest days truthfully, and I just injured it from overtraining. My husband pointed out, “Okay, you’re seriously thinking about taking Valium or Oxycodone, but you don’t want to try and smoke weed for your pain? Just try it.” I introduced cannabis into my life at that time, and it was great for my pain, but it made me want to sleep, and I couldn’t get through the day. That’s when my husband started doing a lot more research on the benefits of CBD.
The first product that I got was a Bloom Farms CBD: THC 3:1 vape pen. I took a couple of hits, and within about an hour and a half, my shoulder went from feeling like it was all the way to my ear to just relaxing down into its socket. I was able to feel this incredible amount of relief. I had seen a massage therapist, chiropractors, I had done everything that was outside of surgery because all of them said you don’t need surgery. It’s just torn from over usage. I remember thinking maybe this is a placebo effect I’m feeling with the CBD—I don’t know if this is real yet.
Then one day I was nauseous. I think I was nauseous from something I ate. I called my husband, telling him “I’m stuck in bed. This is terrible. I can’t pick up the girls from school. I’m so sick to my stomach.” And he said, “Why don’t you go hit up your CBD pen?” I hit my CBD pen and within 20 minutes the nausea subsided. I thought, why didn’t I do this earlier? I think that was actually the first moment where I was like, alright, CBD needs to be an active part of my life. Whether that’s daily or even just as a healing tool within my life, I’ve been experimenting with CBD muscle creams and salves or oils for topical relief. When my muscles are feeling really sore after a workout, I’m using the tinctures to help me throughout the day in my lattes, or sometimes I’ll drop them into my mouth if I need a little extra dosage. It’s been an amazing additive to my life.
DO YOU HAVE ANY TIPS ON HOW TO MAINTAIN BEING A BUSY MOM, WORKING, LIVING AND KEEPING UP WITH SOCIAL MEDIA?
For social media, scheduling it out is really good if you don’t want to be overly consumed—give yourself maybe four moments throughout the day where you’re spending 20 to 30 minutes. If your livelihood requires you to be on social media, perhaps you have half an hour in the morning where you’re developing content and then another half an hour in the morning where you’re consuming content and engaging with your community, and then the same thing in the afternoon—whatever works for you.
As far as balancing mom life with that, my children are a little bit older now, 9 and 15, so I have to be pretty mindful about them being on my Instagram, or my social media feeds. I want to respect their personal space and their name and likeness as well. My kids are not part of the GoFitJo brand. They are part of me and my own life and my personal story. And yes, they are going to be parts of my feed from time to time because my brand is my personal story. However, they didn’t sign up to be part of GoFitJo and are not on the payroll or anything like that. I want to make sure that for them, I am mindful of the energy and the space that I provide to them. It’s important. I try to keep my phone down as much as possible because I’m always working on my phone anyways. I want to be present for family time, which is probably why a lot of people don’t get to see the family side of me within the day because when its downtime I want it 100%. I want to be consumed by them, so I try really hard not to have it during that time and space.
WHAT ARE YOUR BIGGEST CHALLENGES TODAY?
I think my biggest challenge today, truthfully, is balancing out my hustle. What I mean by that is that I have always worked my ass off and I really like it. But I know that sometimes I get caught up with the hard work and I don’t know how to stop learning, how to have fun in between. I think one of the other hardest challenges right now is I am at this place where, as a health and life coach and as a wellness creator, I’m diving into topics that are a little bit more meaningful for the heart for me than the first couple of years for my GoFitJo brand. I was focusing on mental health and physical health, how we move our bodies and how we have conversations with our bodies. And as of lately, I’ve been focusing on a lot of emotional wellbeing because we don’t put too much thought into how our emotional wellbeing is integrated with our entire wellbeing. If we’re not getting our thoughts, feelings, and emotions out there properly to the world and those around us, we’re never going to be able to heal some of the pain in our outer relationships, and those extra relationships are also very, very important to our internal wellbeing. It’s a big challenge getting this message into the world, but I’m up for the challenge as I’m always up for any challenge.
HERE’S A FEW OF OUR FAVE PRODUCTS TO HELP EASE ANXIETY
By Vital Leaf
With 100mg of CBD, Vital Leaf's Roasted Hazelnut & Sea Salt CBD chocolate bar boasts Oregon-grown full-spectrum phytocannabinoid-rich hemp extract sweetened with organic coconut sugar. This tasty treat is also naturally gluten-free, vegan, and formulated with organic and sustainably sourced ingredients.
Chocolate infused with CBD is not only enjoyable but also adds to the efficacy of CBD. A neurotransmitter called anandamide, also known as "the bliss molecule", is naturally produced in the brain. Chocolate happens to be the most anandamide-rich plant food in the world. Anandamide is one of the compounds in chocolate that may be associated with the good feeling you get when you eat it. Scientific findings indicate that anandamide calms down anxious feelings and exerts positive effects on mood, memory, and brain function. A deficiency in anandamide has been found to have a direct link to stress-induced anxiety and depression. This neurotransmitter is normally rapidly broken down by an enzyme in the body called FAAH, but CBD inhibits this enzyme's activity, prolonging the blissful levels of anandamide in your system. As an added bonus, the lipids (fats) in chocolate have been shown to extend the duration of CBD's effects, since CBD is fat-soluble.
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CHILL TONIC $75
Chill TONIC is Tonic’s most chill recipe, combining organic hemp CBD with Ashwagandha, Lemon Balm and Passion Flower.
CBD + Ashwagandha defend against stress to restore optimal balance while Lemon Balm and Passion Flower work to calm your mind and relax your nervous system through GABA regulation.
Tonic products are available to ship nationwide.
By Garden Society
Garden Society High CBD Rosettes whole-flower petite pre-rolls deliver the uncompromising quality we’ve grown to trust and love.
Garden Society High CBD Rosettes feature a classic cannabis strain grown for generations in California for it’s therapeutic feelings, Ringo’s Gift. At <1% THC and 15% CBD, you can expect the calmness we know and love from CBD to be amplified by the touch of THC.
By Humboldt Apothecary
The delicious 3:1 CBD:THC tincture supports relief from stressful or anxious feelings and muscle spasms. Drop into your favorite beverage and chill.
Alcohol, Honey, Filtered Water, Cannabis Extract, Lemon Balm, Passionflower, Skullcap.
TOTAL MG PER BOTTLE 188 MG CBD | 62 MG THC
SUGGESTED USE: Shake well. Use in water, tea, juice, or your favorite recipe
The effects of this product may be delayed up to two hours.
Our Relax Bath Bomb was created to not only relax the body but to help stabilize the mood as well. A beautiful blend of Lavender, Chamomile, and Frankincense come together to assist in the relief of anxiety, stress, and inflammation while giving your immune system the healthy boost it needs.
You can find our THC products at a participating dispensary near you.
Give it a try: When you don’t have time for a full bath experience, but need to unwind after a long day, try dropping a Relax bath bomb into a foot soaking tub. You can enjoy the benefits without the commitment that comes with bathtime.
Our Promise: All of our nourishing bath bombs are hand made with 100% Organic essential oil blends and lab-tested Co2 cannabis oil, with no artificial dyes, or preservatives. We use high-quality FD&C certified colorants, so it will never stain your tub and is safe for use in food, drugs & cosmetics.