Episode 018: 100 Percent Guilt-Free Self-Care with Tami Hackbarth
Do you practice self-care? More importantly, how do you define it?
In this episode, I'm joined by Tami Hackbarth. Tami helps professional women who are tired of feeling dissatisfied at work and at home find SATISFACTION through 100% Guilt-Free Self-Care.
You’ll hear Tami share how she went from feeling stressed out, inflexible resentful, and out of control to where she now feels balanced, confident in her roles as a mama, coach, wife, and friend.
Tami also discusses her 100 Women Project, where she interviewed 100 ladies to see what self-care means to them. The results were pretty fascinating.
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Click Here to Read the Episode Transcript...
Naomi Nakamura: Hi, Tami. Welcome to the show.
Tami Hackbarth: Hi. Thank you for having me.
Naomi Nakamura: For those of you who don't know Tami, why don't you go ahead and introduce yourself and just tell us a little bit about the work that you do?
Tami Hackbarth: All right. Well, my name is Tami Hackbarth, and I call myself the 100% Guilt Free Self-Care Coach, and I'm the founder of the 100 Women Project. The 100 Women Project is where I interviewed 100 women in 2016 all about self-care, because I was wondering if it was a thing. I was like, "Do people struggle? Do people think about self-care?" I asked them, I asked 100 women, and they told me what their definition of self-care is, where it was going well in their lives, where it wasn't going well in their lives, and then their deep, dirty, dark secrets about what they really thought about it. Through that, I've been able to put together some really powerful coaching. I worked one-on-one and in group coaching situations with women who want to drop the story that self-care is selfish and to really sort of ground down into their lives, like what do they really want? I help them figure out what they want and where they want to be and how to get there.
Naomi Nakamura: This is really interesting to me. Why don't we back it up a little bit, and first tell us what led you to do this kind of work?
Tami Hackbarth: There's several sort of pivotal pieces, but I would say ... I started my career in my early 20s. I worked in politics, where basically I had a stomachache for a decade, and I pivoted away from that. I was in it for public service, so I became a public schoolteacher, and I loved it.
Naomi Nakamura: We love teachers. We love teachers. My dad's a teacher.
Tami Hackbarth: My husband's a teacher. My uncle's a teacher. My other uncle ... I love teachers. I love being a teacher, and even though I'm a coach now, there is still an element of teaching in coaching. I was an elementary school teacher, and I was really good in the classroom. To say I was type A would be to be, say it was quite an understatement. It was about my fourth or fifth year in the classroom, and my students were excelling, but I was kind of unhappy, and by kind of unhappy I mean I was really unhappy, because I was really working myself to death. Anyway, long story short, I went to my principal's office to ask him something, and he walked behind me, and he closed the door, and he looked at my face and he said, "Are you happy?"
Naomi Nakamura: Wow.
Tami Hackbarth: I burst into like ugly tear crying, and I was like, "What do you mean by that?" It's like, "Dude, are you happy?" I was like, "What does that even mean? I came in here to complain about something. Why are you asking me if I'm happy? Of course I'm not happy." "You're so good at being a teacher, but there ... Like the joy is clearly not there for you."
Naomi Nakamura: Wow.
Tami Hackbarth: He said, "Maybe you should think about getting a different kind of job." I was like, "But ... But ... But you said I was good at this job." He was like, "Totally not the point." I was like, "My whole life has been set up, in my mind, that the point of something, to do something is to do it well," and I was like, "But I'm doing it well," and his perspective was, "And you should also be happy." I was like, "Well, that is a different take on it."
In my very immature mid-30s, I was like, "Forget that guy. He can't see I'm working like a dog, I'm out of here," so I seriously cut back my work hours out of kind of spite and immaturity, but then I had all these hours on my hands, like, "Well, what am I going to do now?" It had been a few years since I had taken a regular yoga class, so I started going to yoga in the afternoon. I was like, "This is really nice." Then I started doing wacky things like going to the movies with my friends, going out to dinner with friends, going hiking on the weekends, reading for pleasure, not for work. What I discovered in this, what started out as this really immature response to, "Are you happy," is, when I take care of myself and I do things that I like and that feel good and that feed my body and my soul, turns out I'm happy.
I kept going to work, and what happened at work was, I was happier, so my students were happier. They were doing better. I was doing better, and I just was like the big, "Oh," moment, where I thought, "I've been doing it wrong. It turns out if I'm happy, they're happy. If I'm doing well, they're doing well." It was in that I stumbled upon this experiment, and then that was what really led me to ... But when I feel good, my life is good, and when my life is good, my work is good, and work is like ... It was like this domino effect of, "Oh," and it was all these things well within my control. I thought, "Oh, my God. This doesn't have to be expensive. It doesn't have to be time-consuming." Like just getting enough sleep can change your life.
Naomi Nakamura: Oh, absolutely. I-
Tami Hackbarth: Right?
Naomi Nakamura: ... say that all the time. I say, "We can function on a poor diet. We can function with not a whole lot of exercise, but literally we cannot function without enough sleep. We can't." Tami Hackbarth: I know. Well, and there's all these studies that show it basically is going to kill you. It's going to make you have to buy new pants [inaudible 00:06:56] chubby for your pants. It's like all these ... Yes, sleep. The long and short of it is, it started with the innocent question, "Are you happy," and ended with me figuring out how to make myself happy. Then once I figured it out, I thought, "Oh, my God, I wonder if this is a thing for other people," so I called a program called The Healthy, Happy, Sane Teacher, Sustainable Self-Care for a Successful School Year, because I like alliteration.
I started working with other teachers who were like, "Oh, my God. When I take care of myself, my students do better." I was like, "I know." They do not teach you that in teacher school, and they should, because it's true. You want happy grownups. You want the person in charge to be thriving so everybody else in the room has a chance to thrive too.
Naomi Nakamura: Trust me, this translates to like the tech world too.
Tami Hackbarth: Yeah?
Naomi Nakamura: Yeah. If the boss is happy, everybody else is going to be happy too. If the boss is not, guess what? No one else is, either.
Tami Hackbarth: Does that mean we should be focusing on managers and supervisors like, "Hey, you guys, take all of these things. Take these things, like take advice to take vacations, and-"
Naomi Nakamura: Oh, yeah.
Tami Hackbarth: " ... go to bed. But don't work on your vacations"?
Naomi Nakamura: Yes. Absolutely. Absolutely. You have this ... You call yourself a 100% Guilt Free Self-Care Coach, so tell me about the guilt-free part.
Tami Hackbarth: Well, it's funny. Racheal Cook, our business coach, I met her in person.
Naomi Nakamura: I didn't know that.
Tami Hackbarth: Yeah. I went to a conference called Curve Camp in Nashville a couple summers ago, and we were in a workshop writing mission statements, and I had to-
Naomi Nakamura: I hate doing that.
Tami Hackbarth: Oh, my God, no, this one was so good.
Naomi Nakamura: Was it? Okay.
Tami Hackbarth: It was so well done. It was so well done. It was taught by my friend Rosie Molinary. Again, another person, she lives in North Carolina, but it was so well done, but I was stuck on ... I was like, "What exactly ... " I was kind of going through, kind of going through, and Racheal lifted up her pencil, and she looked at me, and she goes, "100% guilt-free," and I was like ... Everybody at the table stopped and looked at her. I was like, "Damn, that was good. That was good." She's like, "Yeah, like you said, everything about that, like you've been dancing around it, so here's the words you're looking for."
But what was really cool about it, so getting back to the 100 Women Project, when I asked that last question, the deep, dark secret, "What do you not want to tell me about self-care," the supermajority of women believed that self-care is selfish. I thought-
Naomi Nakamura: Well ... Wow.
Tami Hackbarth: I was like, "Oh, my God. I don't believe that."
Naomi Nakamura: Right. Well, I think that goes back to, how do you define self-care?
Tami Hackbarth: Are you asking?
Naomi Nakamura: I am asking. How do you-
Tami Hackbarth: So for me-
Naomi Nakamura: ... define self-care?
Tami Hackbarth: Let me start with what it isn't. It's not just manis and pedis, and pedicures, and massages, and spa days. It's not what magazines tell you it is. It doesn't have to be expensive or time-consuming. For me, self-care is any intentional action you take to care for your physical, your mental, your emotional, and your spiritual health.
Naomi Nakamura: It's taking care of you.
Tami Hackbarth: But not just your body. Right? When, a lot of people
Naomi Nakamura: Your whole being.
Tami Hackbarth: Your whole being. A lot of people, when they talk about self-care ... What I said in the interview, "So what isn't going well?" Another huge tsunami of the same answer. I think every person was like, "I don't exercise enough." I was like, "Get in line. Literally everybody before you and everybody after you is like exercise confession." I was like, "Exercise has a PR problem, because everybody knows they should do it, but no one's doing it enough."
Naomi Nakamura: Well, that's a whole 'nother conversation about-
Tami Hackbarth: Totally.
Naomi Nakamura: ... how do you define exercise, but we won't go there.
Tami Hackbarth: No. No, but the thing is, is like, so I accidentally stumbled into this sort of holistic self-care when I started going to yoga instead of working, when I started to have fun with my friends. Deep, like-
Naomi Nakamura: Those social connections, that-
Tami Hackbarth: Social connections.
Naomi Nakamura: ... community.
Tami Hackbarth: Exactly. Those things that give you longevity at the end of your life, that make your life worth living. Hiking, spending time in nature, all of these things that feed your soul, and your body, and your mind, are all self-care. You can literally practice really good self-care by learning something, by keeping your mind fresh.
Naomi Nakamura: Because it gives you personal enjoyment.
Tami Hackbarth: Are you having fun?
Naomi Nakamura: Yeah.
Tami Hackbarth: Like, right?
Naomi Nakamura: Are we having fun yet?
Tami Hackbarth: Are we having fun yet? Are you happy? These are things that you can do, and again, it's ... Sure. Some people have given me pushback on the manicures, and pedicures, and massages. I say that they don't have to be self-care. They're not defined only as. Does a manicure feel great? Sure. You could have a manicure every single day, but if you're not sleeping, or you're kind of spiritually dead, you're not going to feel holistically great. You're going to have really nice nails, though.
Naomi Nakamura: Confession, I don't like to get manicures and pedicures.
Tami Hackbarth: Well, you know what? Good for you, because that means you save yourself a bunch of money.
Naomi Nakamura: I always get the shocked look when I say that.
Tami Hackbarth: An occasional pedicure, sure, but overall, I'm like, "That's not my bag," but I love yoga retreats so much that I actually run two a year.
Naomi Nakamura: Wow.
Tami Hackbarth: I love them. I love going on them. I love hosting them. It's great.
Naomi Nakamura: Tell me about the whole, from your 100 conversations, 100 Women Project, the whole theme that you had about, "Self-care is selfish."
Tami Hackbarth: Well, when people told me that, I was surprised, because that wasn't the messaging that I got about it. The other, so it was basically two schools of thought. One, selfish. I was like, "This word keeps coming up," and the other was, people felt broken. They felt like they were high-maintenance, and they felt like, "I have to do so much more than other people just to feel okay in the world." I was like, "Now you're speaking my language. That's me," but when I started working with a coach myself, she was like, "Well, tell me about all your special high-maintenance things."
I told her about my need for sleep, and alone time, and quiet, and meditation, and I have to eat certain foods. Otherwise, I feel yucky. I go on and on, and at the end she goes, "Congratulations. You're human." She's like, "You just basically described basic human maintenance." Yes. She's like, "Most people don't do those."
Naomi Nakamura: Because they're devalued.
Tami Hackbarth: Right. Right, but the selfish camp, I was like, "I'm very curious about this," and so I started asking them, I was like, "Well, where did this come from?" Most people said it was from their moms, from their grandmas, from the media, like this whole notion that you have to, women have to put everyone before themselves, and that if they put any time or money towards themselves, that they're taking away from other people. The more I thought about it, I was like, "Okay, but that doesn't make your needs, your basic human needs, for this four quadrants of your life, it doesn't erase that, even if you believe it's selfish. You still need those."
When your basic needs are not being met, how does that come out in your life? Are you resentful? Are you shopping too much? Are you drinking too much wine? Are you caffeinating too much? How does ... It comes out in some way.
Naomi Nakamura: It does.
Tami Hackbarth: Right? I have a family of three. It's me and my husband and my six-year-old daughter, and I think of our family life as a stool, so it has three ... What are those things called? Stool legs.
Naomi Nakamura: Three prongs.
Tami Hackbarth: Legs. Prongs. Right? If one of those isn't well maintained, say the mom peg, that stool's going to fall over. That stool's going to be annoying for everyone else. The other parts of the stool are going to have to hold up the mom peg, and so the-
Naomi Nakamura: It's very unstable.
Tami Hackbarth: It's very unstable, and the other people on the team or in the family have to pick up the slack. I would argue that not practicing self-care and getting yourself in this deficit, you actually are being selfish to the people around you, because then they have to pick up your slack.
Naomi Nakamura: I love that.
Tami Hackbarth: Right? It's like, turn that selfishness on its head and be like, "No, I'm doing this for the betterment of the whole team." This can come into play at work too, like if you've got the one person who ... This was a famous thing I used to do too when I was working, before I started working for myself, and before I really got into self-care, which was, I would work myself to death, and then I would get some virus that would knock me on my butt for like a week or two. It was [inaudible 00:16:00] the only time I ever let myself rest, so I had this cycle of manic work and then completely stopping. Manic work, completely stopping. Work doesn't stop during those times.
Naomi Nakamura: No, and I think the analogy you just used with the stool, it applies to work too, because here you have a team of people that you work with, and each person is a peg on that stool. Well, if you're manic working, and then you get sick, and you can't hold up your end of the bargain, guess what? That whole team that you have, other people's going to have to compensate for that somehow or just something doesn't get done, and-
Tami Hackbarth: Right, or things are late, or…
Naomi Nakamura: Yes.
Tami Hackbarth: Yes, or the work gets poorly done.
Naomi Nakamura: Right.
Tami Hackbarth: Absolutely.
Naomi Nakamura: Taking that bigger picture, yeah, you're probably putting in more hours, but is it worth it in the long run? Probably not. I think it comes back to what I talk about a lot is establishing boundaries for yourself.
Tami Hackbarth: Absolutely. The B word.
Naomi Nakamura: The B word. Boundaries and communication.
Tami Hackbarth: Yeah, but it's funny, because a lot of people, when you say "boundaries," it makes some people prickle, so I like to think of boundaries as a fence. If you think of it, you have a fence around your house, and you have a dog, you-
Naomi Nakamura: I do.
Tami Hackbarth: ... keep your dog in, and you're keeping other dogs from coming in. Right? Boundaries work both ways. It's like protecting the house and the yard for your animal, and it's protecting your dog from getting out, so it's like it works both ways.
Naomi Nakamura: It's also a form of communication, and I just had this conversation at work with a colleague, actually with my manager, and I said, "I've learned how to," I like to think others may not agree, but "gracefully establish these boundaries," and I said, "I actually feel the people who I've established them with are appreciative, because if you don't establish them, they don't know where they are, and they don't know that maybe they are infringing on your boundaries that you've never quite established, and then you started to feel resentful towards that person." Again, context of work, context of home life, doesn't matter. You just basic-
Tami Hackbarth: By the way, resentment, wherever you are, feels and tastes terrible.
Naomi Nakamura: Yeah. Absolutely.
Tami Hackbarth: Feels and tastes terrible.
Naomi Nakamura: Right, and so you have ... When you start to ... I know when I start to feel resentment, I have to take a step back and ask myself, "Did I communicate what my expectations were, what my boundaries were?" Because if I didn't, I can only put that on myself. I can't put that on another person.
Tami Hackbarth: But you also, it's well within your power to go, "I'm sorry, I forgot to tell you, this is how I do this."
Naomi Nakamura: Yeah. Exactly. Exactly.
Tami Hackbarth: "Like I forgot to lay out what it means to work with me, and what my processes are, and what I will and won't accept." It doesn't matter if you're at work, or at home, or with your mail ... It doesn't matter. We all teach those around us how to treat us. Whatever we accept continues.
Naomi Nakamura: That's all a form of taking care of ourselves.
Tami Hackbarth: Absolutely.
Naomi Nakamura: Self-preservation, self-care.
Tami Hackbarth: Yep.
Naomi Nakamura: You have on your website that self-care is the answer to creating your dream life. We've been on this conversation. Kind of expand on that a little bit more.
Tami Hackbarth: Well, when I ... I think of self-care as your personal foundation. Say your dream life, your dream house, if you have a shaky foundation, things are going to crumble. If you want to feel good in your life, you have to take care of your body. If you want to feel good in your life, you have to take care of your relationships. If you want to feel good in your life, you have to take care of your learning. If you're learning the same lessons over and over and over and over again, perhaps you should pause and really take those lessons in so you can stop learning the same lessons over and over. It's self-care. It's built on self-acceptance. It's built on self-love. It's built on self-worth, and when you truly take care of yourself, things fall into place. Resentment goes down, because you're not expecting other people to meet your needs. You feel self-sufficient. You feel loved and cared for.
Naomi Nakamura: Empowered.
Tami Hackbarth: For me, honestly, I feel, since I started really practicing self-care in a very deep and intentional way, I've stopped really caring what a lot of people think, because I'm like, "But I know I'm cool, so it's all right if you don't think I'm all right, because I already, I got that covered. I don't need your approval. I don't need things from other people, because I give them to myself," and so it feels really powerful to be able to meet one's own needs. Then when my family needs me, I am able to give from a place of generosity. I'm flexible. I might even be fun. I might even be happy, but when I'm not, I can get on the inflexible B train pretty quick.
Naomi Nakamura: This is really deep work.
Tami Hackbarth: Yes.
Naomi Nakamura: For someone who has never gone there yet, but they're listening to this and they kind of want to, where do you recommend that they just start at? Because it can be really hard work if you've never done it before, and I feel personally that it's taken me years to even get to where I am now, and I feel like I have a lot more ways to go.
Tami Hackbarth: Me too. Me too. I would say that the thing that will cost zero money and not even very much time, and it's a mindset shift, and it's a daily practice of self-compassion. A lot of people are like, "I don't know what that is." Self-compassion has three parts. The first is self-kindness. If you're somebody who, when things are stressful, or you make a mistake, and you seriously, you start name-calling yourself, or you're like, "Oh, my God, you'll never do this, or you always do that," basically, if you are talking smack about yourself a lot, knock it off.
Naomi Nakamura: Because those words matter, and even-
Tami Hackbarth: Oh, my God, they totally.
Naomi Nakamura: Yeah, and even if you don't say them out loud, if you're thinking them to yourself, eventually you train yourself to think about yourself that way.
Tami Hackbarth: Absolutely, and by the way, even if you're not saying it out loud, you can still hear it. It's in your head.
Naomi Nakamura: Yes.
Tami Hackbarth: Right? The first part is self-kindness, and if you're not being kind to yourself, knock it off. The second part of self-compassion is what they call common humanity, which is, every single person is imperfect and suffers. Even if you look at them and you're like, "Yeah, but on Instagram, everything's perfect." It's like, "Let's be real." If they're a human being, in some way they're suffering. And just knowing that you're never alone, because every other person suffers. Then the last part is mindfulness, which, in my mind, translates to paying attention to when you are being mean to yourself, or comparing yourself to others, or judging others. Then the mindfulness piece is, you notice it and you go, "I'm going to stop doing that right now. I'm going to choose another thought. I'm going to choose a different path, because we ... "
I can't speak for every human, but I've talked to a lot of humans, and a lot of people, especially women, have these very, very, very critical inner mean girl judges in their heads. If we all just gave ourselves a break from that constant negative chatter, we'd feel better. We have this lifetime of being mean to ourselves. What would life feel like if we were nice to ourselves instead?
Naomi Nakamura: Yeah. I know for me that, and this is what really helped me to kind of get more in touch with my mindfulness, is, whenever I would read something that someone said on social media or hear something that someone said, and if I had an immediate repelling reaction to it, I've had to pause and think about why am I having this reaction. I would say about 90% of the time it was because it was something, an issue that I had in myself that I hadn't dealt with.
Tami Hackbarth: Totally.
Naomi Nakamura: Or it was a block that I had that it wasn't anything to do with the other person, but it was something that - it was something that I had to work through for myself. But I think it's, and again, it's going back to what you said, the mindfulness, and the self-compassion, and just really taking your thoughts more inward.
Tami Hackbarth: Yeah, and being kind with those thoughts. I think of it, I use Headspace as a meditation app, and one of the visualizations is, when you're in a meditation and you're thinking, the guy whose name's Andy, he's like, "You could pretend like you're whack-a-mole and you're like hitting the thought really hard, like, 'Thinking, thinking, thinking,'" he's like, "Or, which would probably be a kinder approach, is, instead of using that big mallet whacking the mole, use a feather and act as if that thought is this very delicate crystal, and you're gently touching the crystal with the feather." And so just creating this sense of a lighter touch, like, "How can I lighten this up a little bit?"
Naomi Nakamura: Light.
Tami Hackbarth: "How could it ... How could I lighten it up?" Yeah. That's been really helpful for me in parenting. Talk about a place where you could just run yourself through the wringer. Where else does that come up? Around body stuff. I mean, wherever you find yourself being really critical or, again, like you said, when you noticed that you're like, "Ooh, I got a zing of something from what someone else said, or did, or posted," you're like, "Ooh," that's something to look at and to be curious about it, rather than harsh and judgemental. Because nothing like throwing some harshness on your judgmentalness. Whole bunch of not ... "That doesn't feel good. Let's do some more of it."
Naomi Nakamura: Yeah. Well, Tami, I have so enjoyed our conversation.
Tami Hackbarth: Me too.
Naomi Nakamura: Can you tell us where people can connect with you, because you have so many wonderful things to share?
Tami Hackbarth: I would love to. I love hanging out on Instagram like nobody's business, so you can find me there @tamihackbarth, and it's T-A-M-I H-A-C-K-B-A-R-T-H, or you can check out my website at www.tamihackbarth.com.
Naomi Nakamura: I will link to all those things in the show notes.
Tami Hackbarth: Excellent.
Naomi Nakamura: What's coming up for you? I know you have some things planned.
Tami Hackbarth: Starting January 1st, I have a group coaching program cleverly called 100% Guilt Free Self-Care. It's a 12-week program. It's limited to 20 women. It's by application and interview only. It's going to be taught live, very exciting, so we're going to be using same technology we're here, and then there's going to be a Facebook component. We're going to be talking about things like self-compassion, and changing mindset, and then actually also getting into the practical tips, some science-based daily practices that people can take on to increase their happiness, we're going to be exploring people-
Naomi Nakamura: Should get really practical there.
Tami Hackbarth: Oh, totally. Totally. I mean, I used to-
Naomi Nakamura: Love that.
Tami Hackbarth: ... be an elementary school teacher, so I like to ... I have 15-minute tips up the wazoo. All you have to do is do them. Then there's this piece of self-care that I think is really important, which is, it's very individual. Like what really works for me might not work for you, and so-
Naomi Nakamura: Absolutely.
Tami Hackbarth: Right? We'd take these on, and we have a framework, this taking care of the physical body, the mental body, the emotional body, the spiritual body, but we really delve into what works for you, and coming at it from a sense of curiosity, like, "What works now?" "What worked in the past?" "What will work in the future?" "What works in the spring or the fall?"
Naomi Nakamura: Because we change too, and we change, and we shift.
Tami Hackbarth: Absolutely. It's like, especially when you have grief, or a divorce, or money issues, all of these things come into play, and so I really want to give women tools to really come home to themselves, to be like, "What do I need now in this moment, in this season of my life, to really thrive?" Because when it comes down to it, bad stuff happens in life, and it's how we react to it, is depending on how we're going to feel when we get through it.
Naomi Nakamura: Absolutely.
Tami Hackbarth: Again, that starts in January, and you can find out about it on my website.
Naomi Nakamura: Awesome, and I will link to that as well.
Tami Hackbarth: Perfect. Thank you.
Naomi Nakamura: Thank you so much for joining us.
Tami Hackbarth: Thank you for having me.
Hi, I'm Naomi
I’m an expert in Functional Nutrition, a nerd when it comes to clean living, and my obsession is debunking fad diets and weight loss myths by teaching others where food meets physiology so they understand where health and healing truly begins.
A San Francisco Bay Area-based health coach, 21-Day Sugar Detox Coach, podcaster and puppy mama to Coco Pop, my happiest days are spent empowering health-conscious women to speak their truth and become leaders in their own healthcare.