Rediscovering Passion and Thriving in Wellness Entrepreneurship

All right, there, wellness entrepreneurs, welcome back!

Today, I’m honored to have a special guest Justine Calderwood. Justine was a guest in my podcast a few years back and now she is here to talk mostly about how to overcome burnout. 

Question To Justine:Tell us a little bit about what you do and who you help.

Justine: So, I’m a pelvic floor physical therapist, I have a business in Colorado Springs, Colorado, The Healing Spot Physical Therapy, and I help pregnant and postpartum moms who are dealing with pelvic floor issues. So prolapse, urinary and bowel issues, or I should say bladder or bowel issues and diastasis. So that kind of sums up my niche practice.

Question To Justine: So let’s tell everyone a little bit about our story of how you started working with me.

Justine: Oh, yeah, I’d love to share that. So I’ve known you for several years, you’ve been a friend of mine, and about a year ago, so that would have been August of 2022, I was feeling really depleted and burned out, like severely burned out that I just wanted to walk away from my business, but also from physical therapy. 

And so, just to let you know, I’ve been a PT for 21 years at this point, and I absolutely love what I do. I always have until I got to that point where I just felt like, it wasn’t joyful for me. I didn’t want the business anymore. I just wanted to throw in the towel. And at first, it probably took me three weeks, I even had an exit plan, I had all this information down where what did I need to do to be able to close down my practice.

At that point, I had employees, and I had to create the strategy on what I was going to do to be able to close my business. I even told my employees, I had three employees at the time, I told them that I was closing my business. And, Alison, you kind of supported me just as a friend, you knew what I was going through, and at first you were supportive, like, “Okay, that makes sense.”

And then you just said, “Justine, you know, I actually started talking about doing something completely different in marketing.” I’m like, “I love marketing, maybe I could do this.” And you’re like, “You’re going to start a new business, you’re closing one business, and you’re going to start a brand new with another Justine. I suggest maybe, just consider sitting down and figuring out what is underneath the burnout and the depletion and the overwhelm and the exhaustion that you’re feeling.”

And you were the first person to say that to me and I wasn’t coaching with you at that time. And I had other coaches who were basically like, Hey, Justine, we’ll support you in whatever you decide.” But I just felt like, I don’t want to say anything bad about them, because they did the best that they could, and they really did support me because that’s what I had decided. But you, as a friend, said, “You know, what would it look like? Or what would it feel like to just maybe sit down and get some of this, have somebody that’s on that listening and help you sort through what this exhaustion is about.” 

And that’s exactly what I needed. And it wasn’t like you were trying to talk me out of it. But I think just helping me to see the reason behind why I had gotten to that point and why I had decided that and to I don’t know, like do it with more informed decision, instead of just throwing in the towel and saying, “Okay, that’s it,” because that would have been. It would have been really hard to come back from that. I believe if you close down a business and you tell everybody to say wait, I made a mistake.

So, I realized that I was having some health problems, and I needed to sort that out. And I just hadn’t been taking care of myself. I had like a long haul of COVID, but that was just a part of it. I wasn’t sleeping well. But it really was parts of the business that just needed to be sorted out that I just felt stuck.

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So we started working together. And first, I committed to a shorter package you kind of offered to me. I don’t think everybody gets offered that, but I’m so glad that you did.

Alison: But I tell this story a lot of times. Because sometimes, you just need to do that. You need to trust your intuition. Someone might need a shorter package just to get started.

Justine: Yeah. And then there was no push from you. When we did the consultation call, you showed me exactly what you teach to your clients, what you share on social media, almost like more of attraction, a pull versus push style marketing approach style of sales. And I really felt super supported in your consultation call and where you were. 

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And even though you were, again, where you’ve been a friend of mine for a long time, but you were able to take care of that friend, head off in a moment, and just like put your coaching hat on and support me in that way.

And so fast forward, I’ve been working with you for, I believe, nine months. We did the three months. And we did the six months, and I am now on my second round of the six-month one-on-one coaching program. So yeah, you definitely helped me get out of that slump and helped me in many ways more than just business, personally as well.

Alison: Yeah, we’ll get into some of that, because I think it’s so important, because it just breaks my heart when I can visibly see an entrepreneur who’s passionate about the work that they do because these mamas need your help. And it’s so important in the world, and you’re literally transforming not only that mom’s life but the life of her children and generations back and forward. 

And sometimes it is right to close a business. But I think if you are going to close the business, the decision should be made from a neutral standpoint, not a decision made from exhaustion or fear or lack. So sometimes you need that objective perspective to kind of take yourself out of all the mind drama, if you will, and how depleted you feel to make sure that it is the right decision so you just don’t have regret in six months or a year when you are feeling better.

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Justine: Yeah, absolutely. And that’s where you helped me through it, was being able to then look at things from a position of not fear and lack.

Question To Justine: I remember back then, you were not sleeping through the night, you were waking up in the night, a lot compounded with a lot of stress during your day-to-day. So your nervous system, your adrenals were really taking a hit in a lot of ways. So tell us a little bit, and I think that’s also common, especially with health care providers that are kind of juggling the hats of being the practitioner and doing the work that they love as well as like, “Okay, I need to run this business, and I need to do this marketing, and now I have staff, and I have to manage them.” Tell us how you kind of got out of that adrenal-depleting and nervous system triggering cycle?

Justine: Yeah, so several things. One, I sought out health care providers that could support me, you know? I realized I needed a little bit more help than what I could do with my own knowledge. So I found a naturopath and I found a dietician that I had worked with before, but I worked with both of them to help me figure out if it is hormonal, what could be going on that’s waking me up in the middle of the night, is it just stress, because I just didn’t know.

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So working with those health care providers really helped to get me on track with my diet and supported me with some supplements because my adrenals were very taxed. Like they were completely depleted. And I really wasn’t even able to lift weights and go to the gym like I normally would, because my body, I would get stomach aches, it was the weirdest thing. But they helped sort that out with me.

One of the things that we worked on specifically was coming up with a bedtime routine. What is my routine? What does that look like right before I go to bed? So I put my phone down now. I sometimes journal. I’m not a big fan of journaling, but I realized it does help. So journaling, doing some EFT tapping where I can just calm down my nervous system, putting down the lights, those types of things.

We’ve worked on with belief, what’s going on in my head? And what am I falling asleep with, and having those thoughts and emotions that I want to bring in, instead of being unaware of it, like how I’m going to bed? And then being able to use those same techniques, not the journaling and stuff, but the tapping in the middle of the night. Because my problem has been in the past, I can fall asleep okay, but it’s the staying asleep. I was waking up way too early, at two or three in the morning, and not being able to fall back asleep. So those nervous system techniques have really helped.

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And then another thing that we worked on was my schedule, and being able to really rely on my employees, recognizing maybe which ones were underperforming and giving me steps to have some tough conversations with them, recognizing when I needed to replace some of my employees, because they weren’t supportive, they weren’t there for me and weren’t doing what I had hired them to do.

But the schedule was one of the biggest things too that we worked on as you’re helping me to see what my schedule actually looks like? And how am I utilizing the 15 minutes that I put in between patients? I was having that. But I was still bringing notes home at the end of the day. I was still, we’ll be doing this stuff at home, when I wanted to be with my family. And I had a lot of guilt around that, that I was working in the evenings or early in the morning on the weekends.

So helping me to clean up my schedule, and it’s still kind of a work in progress as far as always sticking to it. But I manage that way better now and get my work done. Maybe not always at the end of the day, but it’s much, much better. Those are the things that stick out to me right now.

Question To Justine: So what is all of that, like sleeping better through the night, having your adrenals replenished, having protocols and systems that you can now rely on to help you go to sleep and stay asleep, and working on the boundaries of your schedule, what has that provided for both your business life and your personal life?

Justine: So, personal life, when I’m sleeping better, I’m waking up more refreshed and able to then make better decisions, whether that be for my family or for my business. I just feel clearer in my thinking, and that I have more energy to get to the gym, for instance, because if I can’t sleep well through the night, then I would reset my alarm, for instance, like, I tried to fight, go back to sleep, and then I would reset my alarm and skip my gym time. 

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Well, it was kind of like a cycle. Like, if I’m not working out, then physically, I don’t feel as well mentally, I don’t feel as well, I have guilt over that. And you know, it takes its own health toll there. So being able to actually get to the gym, or work out at home, has helped me mentally and physically as well. I just feel stronger. And that head drama is not there from, “Oh, no, I’ve only gotten one workout in this…” But you know, we all kind of go through that.

And then just showing up as far as personally being able to come home at the end of the night and eat supper with my family, spend time with them, play games with my kids more than I had been, and the weekends, having time where I can spend time with them, and rest.

And I started reading again just for pleasure, not like to learn more clinical skills or self-help stuff. I actually have been reading just for pleasure, and I don’t feel guilty about that. That’s what my body needs. I need to get a break from the day-to-day of being an entrepreneur and do something I enjoy, reading. Sometimes I don’t do anything. I just watch movies. And I feel more connected with, I have two teenage daughters, I feel more connected with them. And it feels good.

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Alison: Yes! I mean, that’s years time with your daughter that now you’ll create memories for so you can look back when they are independent and off on your own and be like, “I was there for them,” instead of looking at the successful business that you created and being like, “Shoot, I missed that time.” But now you’re doing both. And you’re caring for yourself, which is huge. So you’re a living example and an inspiration to others that it can be done. So congrats to you. It’s huge!

Justine: Yeah, it’s still a work in progress. I’m not saying I’m a perfect mom, and that I’m there all the time from my kiddos. But I’m there and more present than I was. And I will say too also, my marriage a year ago is really suffering. We were very distant from each other, and this has helped even that, like a lot of things were going on at the same time. Not all business-wise. But that has even coming in and having some harder conversations with my husband as well. And we feel more connected now as well. So, life is better.

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Alison: Yeah. I mean, that’s so important. Because I’ve noticed for myself personally, when I was in my own kind of experiencing burnout, that I was so exhausted that I was kind of in survival mode, just trying to, with my business, keeping it going, that I was also in survival mode with my husband, because I didn’t have the energy to start those harder conversations. So we weren’t having them. And that fueled the distance, actually, but now I have the energy. So I can be like, wait a minute, let’s talk about this. And I feel like I can put that energy and focus towards that relationship. Because I’m able to do that now.

Justine: Yeah! That totally makes sense. I would agree with that.

Alison: It really does have a trickle-over effect. 

Question To Justine: Something you said I want to circle back to is the EFT and the nervous system work. Because I think sometimes practitioners feel like, Okay, finally they get over the hurdle of realizing, “Okay, maybe I do need a business coach.” And then they’re trying to figure out who’s the coach for them. And most often, the go-to is a business strategy, which is of course needed, and you and I work together with a lot of business strategy.

For example, your schedule management, hiring, firing, marketing, messaging, all that kind of stuff, DV, DV conversions. The other component isn’t often talked about or the impact of the work of the nervous system, and working with emotions and how you’re feeling and becoming aware of all that is not often talked about. So can you describe a little bit about that experience and how it has helped you in implementing the business strategy?

Justine: Yeah. So when we’ve done calls, there’s been times where you’ll say, “Oh, wait, hold on, how are you feeling right now, Justine?” And when you do that, it brings my attention back to here in my body, and how I am feeling and what that looks like. It’s hard to describe, but sometimes it’s just like the pausing and the slowing down, “Okay, Justine close your eyes, and what are you truly feeling, what’s coming up for you,” and being able to acknowledge that it really wasn’t maybe what I had, like, you could call it something that I had said, helping me to recognize that, oh, gosh, I’m talking from a place of fear or old stories, and being able to acknowledge that and truly drop into what I’m feeling so that I can shift it and come up with a healthier belief and like, what do I want to feel instead, that’s made a huge difference for me.

Because I’ve done coaching with a couple of other coaches in the past. And that has not been acknowledged. And even in my own mind, I’ve had some trauma in my past. And so for me, that’s been really, really helpful to give me some tools for the nervous system. So I am more grounded and coming from a space of power, I guess, empowerment instead of fear and triggered, I guess.

Alison: Yes, exactly. Because how you show up is different. And also, if you’re already depleted, and then your nervous system is getting triggered all day long, and you’re more of in that like, heightened fight or flight response that will tax your adrenals even more as well.

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Justine: Yeah. So one example that I remember sticking out was I had to have a conversation with an employee and it was going to be a hard conversation. And I felt like I was always kind of giving my power away and just hearing the, I want to say, like, pushback or excuse of why the behavior wasn’t changing. 

And so, we worked on even me, closing my eyes and visualizing one, what is the thought that I wanted to bring in instead of, I can’t even remember what the negative or the limiting belief was, but I wanted to come from a space of I am saying, “Oh, I have this people pleasing thing, right? Like, I don’t want to make anybody upset. I want them to still be a friend.” And that is difficult as a leader, to be in that position where you want everyone to like you, and you want your employees and all of that, but also to show up as a true leader.

And so I worked on just me visualizing what it would feel like to walk in that room with this employee sitting there, and for me to feel I’m safe, and no matter how this conversation goes, I’m still safe. It’s okay if they don’t like what I have to say, it’s also okay if it goes really well. But I got to come with this feeling of confidence and safety around me to come into that conversation. And that really helped me ahead of time to visualize that and to have the ability to kind of quickly ground down in with that thought, and emotion that I wanted to feel before I had that conversation.

And the conversation went well. I didn’t feel like I had done something wrong. That was kind of my old story. If I didn’t feel safe, then I felt like a little child that had done something wrong, and that I was going to be get punished for. And that’s not a great position to be in and a feeling to be in when you are coming in as a leader to employees, and they’re looking to you for how to act and what to do. It’s not a great position to be in, to feel like, “Oh, no, no one’s going to like me.”


Alison: A hundred percent. And from the outsider perspective, I literally saw, when we started the call, that your body posture was more closed in and I could feel the energy leak of dreading this conversation and just a heaviness to it. But then by the time we finished, you were more empowered, which you could tell with your posture, you were taller, your shoulders were relaxed, your chest was open, and your face was brighter. 

And that lingered until the next call when we showed up and you were describing it, you are more energetic, and all of that remained. So that is like the difference of like going into a conversation in the previous form, where you are in more of that triggered response, and going to be like more hesitant and communicating, and the ripple effect of that conversation and in how it leaks over into days following versus the conversation that you eventually did have from the place of power.

Justine: Yeah. And I’ve had several conversations like that, in very difficult ones. So I’ve actually intentionally downsized my business at this point because I realized there were certain parts of my business that I didn’t really like, I didn’t enjoy all the managing people that it was, for me personally, it’s a lot for my nervous system. And I was kind of playing small as a therapist. 

So, over the last three, four months, I came to this realization, so intentionally, I have downsized, which I feel so much better about. But before, one of my employees, before her last day, she brought up from her perspective, some things that was a hard conversation, and it actually left me feeling very, very, I won’t say depleted, I was like, very sad. And I felt very triggered, because of some of the things that she had said from her perspective, and what I did was I went home that night, and I just sat with it. And I journaled everything that was said, things from her perspective, how I took it, what I felt, and that helped shift it so much.

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And I remember talking to you on one of my coaching calls, we had actually had two weeks between when that had happened and our next coaching call, because we just had a break. And I told you all about the conversation. And you asked how it went, and I said, “Oh, gosh, I cried. Actually, she left my office and I took like, 30 minutes before my next patient. I just cried.” Because it triggered me so much. It hurt my heart so much. But after doing that exercise, and that’s a lot of what you taught me is like just kind of sit with it, honor it, and what do you want to feel instead and just kind of let all the stuff bubble up.

It is very similar to what I do with my patients. But for whatever reason, I wasn’t always remembering to do that for myself in a business sense. And that helped so much, so by the time that two weeks passed, I was like, “Yeah, this is fine.” You know? And you’re like, “Wow, you have so much more resilience over something like that.”  Prior to working together, I would have let that linger on and on, and probably still be holding it. But you know, I was able to let it go even before the two weeks. I mean, even after a few days, I could feel it anticipating to the point where it wasn’t there anymore. I wasn’t triggered by it.

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Alison: Yeah! And I think that touches on the point that sometimes, as entrepreneur, our go-to’s are to do the strategies or the actions or the tasks on our to-do lists that are more of doing in nature instead of really occasionally pausing and checking in with ourselves to honor like, what we’re feeling and why. Because the more that, truthfully, I’ve experienced personally, when you’re doing that type of work, and taking the moment to just be like, “What am I feeling? Do I need to tap through this? Like, am I triggered? Why am I triggered?” And working through that, and what do I want to feel instead of coming into that more resourceful state is that it increases your capacity to handle more as an entrepreneur.

So for you personally, just like doing this work, it’s going to give you more choices down the road because you’ll have a stronger bandwidth of what you can handle as an entrepreneur and as a CEO. So you’re less easily triggered, and you become a stronger and more confident CEO boss with yourself. So if, down the road, you did want to hire more employees again, it’d be an entirely different experience because you’d be a different evolved person at that point. So it gives you more choices down the road. Now you don’t ever have to do that. But the potential for that possibility will become available in an entirely different way.

Justine: Yeah! You know, and talking about that, just the downsizing too, that was an intentional thing as I said, and even with talking to you like, “What do you actually want Justine?” And being able to give myself permission to go, “You know what, what I thought I wanted isn’t actually what I want,” and I think it was some of that is what I’ve seen other PTs do, other coaching groups I’ve been part of like, “Yeah, I want that too.That just seems the natural progression.” But really, what it came down to, and I just sat with it, “What do we really want?” I don’t even think I could answer that at the time you asked me that. It was like, “I need to sit on that.” And you know, you’ve always encouraged me to go out in nature. I live here in Colorado, and you’re like, “I know your time in nature is where you do your best kind of like decompressing and information download.”

So yeah, as I sat with that, I just thought, “I don’t want this big business, at least not right now. Maybe I will in the future,” but I’m like, “I don’t really want that. I want time with my girls. I want a healthy work-life balance. I want to go in and pour into my patients, but not feel depleted with it. I want to take care of them, but not feel like it’s at the expense of my own mental and physical health. That’s what I want.” And I just want to do it in an authentic way that feels good to me.

And, you know, it kind of took a little bit of working through, because I had thoughts like, “Am I going to feel like a failure if I downsize?”  It was kind of like the status symbol. Not like I had a big business. It was kind of like, great. But you know what I realized in that is, that’s okay, I did that, and I never thought I was going to have a business ever in my life that I think I could have a business. And I do have a successful business. And I got to the point where I had employees, and I learned so much from that. But it’s also okay for me to intentionally say, “But that’s not really what I want.” That’s really bringing a lot of joy in my life, like I thought, so it’s okay for me to have this smaller business, and love what I do and look forward to coming into work and look forward to going home. And that’s where I’m at right now.

Alison: Yeah, and that is a powerful, courageous, badass CEO decision. So you should be celebrating yourself. And we’ll just take a moment to celebrate with you because it’s a difficult decision. 

But a lot of entrepreneurs don’t know what they truly want. And there’s actually talk in the coaching world because there are a couple of coaches who were in the million dollar ranges a year, and they downsize their businesses as well. So bigger does not always mean better. And you are very successful yourself. And it’s about like, the whole reason why you got into the business, being an entrepreneur in the first place, and still being able to live your life instead of chasing that next step in the hope that the next step will give you what you really want in life.

Justine: Yeah. I mean, a perfect example of this too, is right now. I’ve noticed this with my schedule, for instance, I’m getting ready to just take some random days off, and my brother’s come in here in a few weeks. And in the past, I wouldn’t have taken any time off, because I felt like I had to hustle, I still have to see patients, and I’ll just kind of see him when he’s here in the evenings and on the weekend. But I took the day off, I’m like, “You know what, I’m going to take the day off and spend time with him and rest and enjoy myself.”

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We have a vacation coming up in November, I’m taking 10 days off. And that’s our second vacation this year, we already had a week in June. And I’m not stressing out about it like I would have even a year ago or for sure, like two years ago. It’s like, you know what, I trust that things are going to work out. I have a plan financially, but it’s like, I also have this level of trust, where in the past, I’d be stuck in my head and worry and fear. 

And I’m just like, you know, what would it feel like if instead of that, I just come with this. It’s going to all work out. It’s worked out in the past, I have evidence of that. And it’s going to work out this time. So I’m not going to, when those thoughts come in, I’m like, “Oh, no, what’s going to happen? And if you don’t work those days, you’re going to have less money.” Now, I’m going to be okay. And that’s really good because I shouldn’t have to feel like that. I can actually take time off and not be stressed out about it.

Alison: Yeah, because that’s what fuels your business when you’re able to enjoy your life. Because, as you know, you almost stopped your business completely because you are so depleted. But when you’re filling your life, then it fills your business because you’ll keep the business going. I love that. 

So thank you so much for your time today, Justine! You’ve planted so many seeds of inspiration for so many entrepreneurs, especially those with a team or who are feeling really burnt out and tired. 

Question To Justine: Do you have any last parting words of wisdom for today?

Justine: For me, I would say, take care of yourself. Your business is an extension of you, but you need to take care of yourself as well. 

So when you do have those feelings of overwhelm and exhaustion, get it checked out. It might be more than just it’s a toll of stress taken on you. But you know, just like you ask for help from other people, take care of yourself, ask for help. Find the providers, find the helpers, find the coaches, whatever you need to get unstuck from that.

Question To Justine: I just want to add, like how has that helped you, doing that work yourself, seeking out coaching with me, the naturopath, and the dietitian? How has that helped you in your practitioner role?

Justine: Well, it’s being able to connect with them and realizing they’re kind of in the same place right there. They’re feeling like this big overwhelm and you got something looming in front of them. They don’t know how to handle it. They don’t know what that looks like. They don’t know what’s going to be involved, and so it can seem bigger than it is. 

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So, being able to put myself in their shoes and go, “Okay, how can I navigate this with them and give them the guidance and just kind of support that they need, holding space for them to make a decision and give them some good information to move forward with?”

Alison: Yeah. And you have a relatable story. Like, “I’ve been there too. I had to hire my own practitioners, and it wasn’t an easy decision, but I did it.” And now, look at you now.

Justine: Exactly. It was money and time spent that I didn’t necessarily want to do. I want to spend my time that I was normally working to go to these practitioners, but that’s what I needed to do to be able to get back on track. And the money, I spent a pretty penny to see these practitioners, but it was well worth it to have my health back. So spend the money, invest in yourself, because we have to do that.

Alison: Yeah, a hundred percent! Well, thank you so much for your time today.

Justine: Thanks for having me on, Alison. It’s been a pleasure

You can find Justine at healingspotpt.com and on Facebook and Instagram at Healing Spot PT.  

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Alison McLean

"I help the Entrepreneur reduce stress and live a more fulfilled and balanced life."