Category Archives: goals
Who else is glad that it’s FRIDAY?!
This week hasn’t exactly been stressful, but I guess it’s just been one of those weeks for me. This weekend, I plan on getting some good workouts in — boot camp tonight, training session tomorrow — and catching up on my writing and blog reading. And in general, I’m just going to try to pull it together! I want to make some more of my mom’s fab turkey chili too, and if I do, I’ll be sure to post a recipe! Or maybe just a picture because I’m still amazed that I haven’t minded being in the kitchen lately.
What about everyone else? What are you up to this fine fall weekend? Give me the details! I hope for your sake it’s something more exciting than what I’ve got going on!
And last item on the agenda… I need your help! I did some deadlift-y move the other day, and ever since, my hamstrings have been crying/screaming/preventing me from walking appropriately. I know I can foam roll and do the usual exercises, but anyone else have a creative or just really GOOD stretch that will restore my normal range of motion? Help!
So remember when I said I was going to try to shake up my workout routine? Well I switched it up this week!
Monday and today, I went to a boot camp at Chicago Fitness Coach, and it kicked my butt! Monday I thought I was going to die, but today was a tiny bit easier. The instructor and founder, Tony, is super motivating and really pushes you — but does it all with a laugh and a smile on his face! On the agenda today? Treadmill sprints mixed with pushups, tons of squats, lunges, mountain climbers, Spiderman pushups, sumo squats, and LOTS of core work. I was sweating like crazy (and wiping pink toner onto the towel since I had my hair dyed RED!). It’s all very basic stuff, but honestly, it didn’t matter. We were moving nonstop and everyone was dying by the end! Plus, I’m getting my workouts in early since the class is held at 9am! (Ah, the perks of not having a regular 9to5.)
And remember how I said it was pretty easy to sweat on the cheap? I got this month-long, 5x/week boot camp on Tippr for $20! Getting my butt handed to me weekly is even sweeter knowing I’m only paying $1 per class! Can’t beat that!
What have you done to switch up your workouts lately? Ever tried a boot camp or another super tough class like it? Scored any awesome deals on fitness stuff lately? Spill!
So… I’m going to honest here. I have nothing to write about today. Nothing.
I’m in a fab, it’s-almost-the-weekend mood, but my brain is just fuzzy from general contentment. Plus I’ve been super busy from work, making sure we still would have a place to live on October 1st (we found a roommate, so HOORAY, we don’t have to to move), helping other people move, ramping up my workouts, being sore from said workouts, and just running around trying to get a few other things in order. Also, I think maybe got my ranting all out on Wednesday. Whatever the case may be, I have nothing of importance to contribute today.
But these folks do!
Bess brought back her weekly Ferosh Female Fridays (which I LOVE, btw, because, well, how cool does that just SOUND?), and gave shoutouts to some lovely lady bloggers (including me!) for being fearless this week, and just kind of made me proud to be a woman who knows other women who support women. My lengthy sentences confusing you yet? Just check her out!
Laura and I must be on the same wavelength lately, because she’s talking body image and dismissing the silliness that is the BMI chart. My favorite line? “I could weigh 105-119 pounds, as the charts suggest in “optimal weight” terms (ha!), but I’d look like a stick with a big fat wad of gum stuck to its lower half. Or a kebob skewer stuck into a melon. You know what I mean.” Girl, I feel you on having a booty and thinking BMI truly is ‘a pile of poo’
Despite my raging sweet tooth, I rarely crave baked goods. Until today, that is. Rachel’s got me wanting to throw on my not-yet-purchased apron and whip up some of these white chocolate cupcakes while only speaking in double entendres. And Jenna at EatLiveRun has got me craving something hot off the griddle with her whole wheat butternut squash pancakes, which I usually only do when staring at a diner menu on a Sunday morning after a rather late Saturday night.
Over at Hollaback Health, we’ve had a whole slew of awesome posts lately! Read all of those, but start with AJ’s second installment in her set of guest posts, ‘I Call It Visibility,’ about her experience as a blogger with the intersecting identities of queer, vegan, and runner. Which, appropriately enough, the name of her blog as well!
I’ve been thinking a lot about running lately and how I need to try some other exercises for a few months because I keep getting injured (well, hello, new possible case of plantar fasciitis, please meet old cases of tendonitis and a stress fracture) and because I keep SAYING I’m going to take a break, and I never do. (Now it looks like I have to take a break, right during the BEST running weather in the midwest because I have really screwed up my feet). Well, apparently, Ashley from Fashionably Fit has been thinking the same thing, because she rejoined a gym and has been having a love affair with the classes and their efficiency and they fact that they play nice with her joints.
Kristen’s post pretty much summed up my experience with weight loss in the past, and I felt like she was practically writing my story on her blog! Kudos to her for learning how to eat intuitively! Still working on that one….
Last, but not least, Nicole’s post on Special K was so informative that I wish college me would have read because I was SOLD on the low-cal Special K crap, not realizing that while I got skinny, I was putting some scary stuff in my body. Also, I really think all of you will crack up at her title and the picture she posted to go along with it!
I like the idea of giving out a little link love to finish out the week, so happy reading! And for the sake of discussion, since we all know I loooove talking, tell me what you’re doing this weekend– healthy or not! What fun stuff do you have planned?!
So recently my friend Kira tweeted this at me: Hey, have you ever written about tips for getting back into exercise (or start) when you haven’t been doing any? And I realized that, nope! I haven’t! So let’s discuss!
Now, a little background here: Kira and I have been friends since freshman year at the University of Michigan where we were thrown together in a tiny little dorm room in Bursley Hall. Subsequently, we also ended up in the same a cappella group and the same sorority, so we realized we were going to be in this friendship for the long haul. Anyway, while I was very much a gym devotee, Kira was not. Don’t get me wrong, she liked to move and be active, but I don’t think she ever felt that compulsion to go sweat for 2 hours in the campus rec center every single day (plus, having a normal relationship with food along with good genes, she probably felt she didn’t need to), which isn’t necessarily such a bad thing. But now she does want to hit the gym a little more, and I think this is a great thing.
I think as a lot of us are getting older (read: we’re actual adults with lives that don’t involve weekends full of beer and just a few classes to deal with), we’re realizing the importance of a regular workout routine. And when we haven’t had one in a while – or never had one — it’s important to have a plan for getting into it. So, here are a few guidelines for starting or getting back into regular exercise.
1) Pick something you like, or even LOVE. You all know that there are certain fitness philosophies I subscribe to, and one is that you need to sweat, and the other is that you need to do strength AND cardio. But with all of the options out there now, there are plenty of enjoyable and creative ways to do all of these things. Hate running? Don’t do it! If something is more painful than enjoyable for you, then you’re going to do it approximately twice and give up on exercise altogether. So try out a lot of things, and figure out which one gets you huffing and puffing with a smile on your face! If you detest pounding the pavement, then try a dance class or hit the pool. Can’t stand the weight machines at the gym? Then hire a trainer who will make it fun (or at least distract you by chatting with you while they make you squat) or take a class in which you will tell the instructor you are a newbie or just restarting a program, and plunk yourself down in the front row so that he or she can keep an eye on your form. Whatever gets you moving and fits the three requirements (sweating, cardio, and strength) is an awesome place to start!
2) Ease your way into it. As much as you want to dive right into a 5-day-a week routine, DON’T. I’m not saying don’t try to be active as much as you can, but think about your current level of fitness. How long has it been since you exercised last? What were you doing before, if anything? How does your body respond to change? What are your goals? Is your body ready for intense workouts? If it’s been years since you’ve exercised, and you were never really that athletic before, your body probably isn’t ready for 5-mile runs Monday through Friday. Be realistic. If you aren’t, you’ll either hate what you’re doing or you’ll be incredibly sore for days or you’ll actually injure yourself and end up sidelined for a while (read: you’ll be taking another break from exercise before you even get into your routine). Honestly, when you’re first starting out, don’t even exercise every day! (What? Is she crazy!?) Here’s an example: I recently started running again after a little summer love affair with my bike. I know that in the past I was able to run 6 miles no problem, but now? Not so much. So I devised a little plan for myself to get back into running. I only run 3 days per week (some days only 2 miles, others about 4), and do other cardio or strength on the rest of the days. I’ll build up from this schedule. Whenever I’ve tried to jump right back into it previously, I’ve had ankle and stress fracture issues flare up again, and I had to stop running. As much as I might be mentally ready to do 6 milers, I know that I’m not there physically. And that’s OK. I will be soon, but not if I keep pushing myself on the miles and days I run and get injured again. **NOTE: You will probably be sore after starting up again, but don’t mistake this for a pulled muscle or another injury and just stop exercising. Learn to know the difference.
3) Take your schedule into account. I know, I know. I should be telling you that you should always make time for exercise. And you really should. But I realize that when starting a new workout regimen, it can all be a little overwhelming. Just like I don’t want you to throw your body into a new, super rigorous routine without any preparation, I don’t want you to jump into it without considering your LIFE. Maybe 90-minute boot camps every day aren’t really going to work with your 12-hour work days. But maybe a quick half hour on the spin bike every other day and one or two days of 20-minute strength routines on your lunch hour is something you can make time for. (Also, see #2. Don’t throw yourself into something intense like a 90-min bootcamp that quickly!) Get used to your beginner routine and how it works with the time you have first, and then ramp it up from there. Baby steps are the way to go here, and I bet that once you make a little time, you find ways to make even more to keep progressing.
4) Hire a trainer. Yes, I’m a little biased because I am one, but I’ve also been a client, and I know how much this helped me. I also know that trainers are expensive, but if you have the means, hire one for just a session or two (or longer if you really have the means!). What you’ll learn will help you so much in creating and sticking to a plan. They can make sure you know proper form for strength moves and they can give you tips on how to commit to a workout routine. Plus, making an appointment with someone almost guarantees that you’ll get your exercise in for the day!
I’m sure I could go on and on about how to start or get back into working out, but I want to hear from you! How did you get yourself (back) into a routine? Any tips for those who have no idea where to start? Spill!
A few weeks ago, a friend and former client of mine, Kate, emailed me about an event her aunt was doing to raise awareness for Pulmonary Hypertension (PH). She thought I might be interested in her aunt’s story, and once she told me a little more, I definitely was. You see, Lil Battle Long and her long-time friend Nicky both decided years ago to take the diet drug fen-phen (when it was new and hot and legal). Little did they know the kinds of complications it would cause down the line. Both of them, later in life, were diagnosed with pulmonary hypertension (PH). Unfortunately, Lil lost her best friend Nicky two years ago to the illness, but she decided she would not take this loss lying down. She is swimming the dangerous Mississippi River on September 4th to raise funds and awareness for PH, and to remember Nicky in a powerful way. I had the chance to talk to Lil via email about her event, and here’s what she had to say:
HG: You’re holding an event to raise awareness and funds for Pulmonary Hypertension (PH). First things first, what exactly is PH and what causes it?
LBL: Pulmonary Hypertension is the constricting and narrowing of the blood vessels around your lungs. This makes it really hard for blood to get in the lungs to collect oxygen, making the right heart work overtime, enlarging it, and eventually leading to heart failure. It is a rare, incurable, life-threatening disease. Anyone can have it; men, women, children, any ethnic background, any age. People who have it normally don’t look sick, just like people with high blood pressure. It causes chronic fatigue, breathlessness, and dizziness and makes even the simplest tasks seem insurmountable. The chronic fatigue hit me first. I was contracting building my house and I blamed it on that.
HG: What caused it in your case and in Nicky’s?
LBL: Four friends got together one Saturday afternoon and had lunch in 1992. In the course of conversation, we started talking about our weight and how they had come out with this new drug, fen-phen. I’ve buried two of those friends and one is now on oxygen 24/7. Mine was probably caused by fen-phen, but I also inherited leaking valves. My father had a leaking mitral and tricuspid valve. I have a leaking mitral, tricuspid, and just recently found out my aortic valve is leaking too. One more to go!!! Therefore the fen-phen lawyer has dropped my case because we’ll never know whether it was inherited or self induced.
HG: How did you get the idea to swim the Mississippi River instead of hosting some other fundraising event?
LBL: I’m very limited on what type of exercise I can do. I had a horrible accident several years ago that badly injured my left ankle and it never healed right. Then in February of this year I found out I had to have total knee replacement surgery on my right knee, probably due to the way I walked because of my ankle. During my recovery, my blood pressure dropped drastically and I had to have two blood transfusions. By February, I had already been in training eight months! I had to start over.
But to answer your questions, after losing my father and my best friend within months of each other (I was holding each one’s hand when they died) I was feeling terrible myself. I contracted Lyme disease and went undiagnosed for years. By the time I found out what was wrong (72 claims later) my brain had swelled so badly, I had blood coming out of my ears and Bells Palsy. A doctor in Mobile, AL, diagnosed me and got me in remission. I also had Lyme induced fibromyalgia, so I hurt all other. I sat in a chair and gained 100 pounds and went into congestive heart failure. It was time to see a cardiologist. She did an echocardiogram and a heart catheterization and diagnosed me with Pulmonary Hypertension.
Then one night, two years after her death, I dreamed about Nicky for the first time. As dreams go, it was weird. She was jumping up and down on a pogo stick, repeatedly saying, “Do something, do something, do something”. I literally woke up the next morning and told my husband I was going to build a pool. I did and went on a diet and lost 21 pounds in the first month (Mostly fluid). I have now lost 52 pounds.
I installed a Badu jet in my pool and the first time I tried to swim, I lasted three pitiful minutes. Now I swim sixty minutes, non-stop. I was swimming with my best friend one day and just popped up out of the water and said I was going to swim across the Mississippi River in honor of Nicky. Nicky and I both were event planners and always trying to out do each other, so I thought this would be the best way to honor her memory. Something huge!!! I did host another benefit, the gala. We had a live and silent auction, cash bar, great band, great food, and raised $41,844.00
HG: I’m a swimmer myself, so I thought it was great that you chose swimming for your fundraiser since so many people have done bike rides, runs, and walks for their causes. How did you and are you preparing for the big swim?
LBL: For eleven months, I read everything I could get my hands on about long distance swimming. I dieted, but found out I was dieting the wrong way. I got my hands on a book by Nancy Clark called, Nancy Clark’s Sports Nutrition Guidebook, and started following it to the letter. I have built a lot of muscle mass but I’m still losing weight slowly. I was always good at the breast stroke, so that was my chosen stroke. I wore goggles, nose clip, breast stroke snorkel and breast stroke fins. Then, after my trial run, I wrote this:
Swimming the Mighty Mississippi River
It broke my goggles; it tore my snorkel away from my mouth. My nose clip nearly drowned me because I couldn’t get enough air. In other words everything I thought had prepared me for over a year was useless. My heart was pounding I guess as hard a heart can pound. I swam in circles for fifteen minutes from being so disoriented I didn’t know up from down. That current is a powerful force to be reckoned with.
When I finally figured out what all I was doing wrong, I grabbed the boat (I was swimming with no life jacket or tether) and had to rethink everything I had learned.
First of all, you CANNOT keep your head under water and swim the river, thus the disorientation. Second, you have to spend money on a very good pair of goggles. You cannot do completely without them because my left eye where my goggles broke is almost swollen shut with sand! Third, keep your eyes on the prize, the other side! Fourth, if you ever get a little over halfway across, the current starts to help you instead of hinder you. It will begin to push toward the other side. And, most of all, fifth, stay calm! It’s hard to breathe when your heart in beating 90 miles an hour!
When I figured all of this out, I finally started getting somewhere. If I hadn’t spent that time going in circles, I probably could have made it three fourths across a very swollen river.
Next time I’ll be calmer. It didn’t help any that right before I went in the water the Cap’m and a media guest saw a four foot alligator! I really did NOT want to hear that.
When I got to the middle, I paused to look around. I absolutely could not believe that I was in the middle of that great river of ours. It gave me hope and I felt Nicky all around me. I was completely awestruck.
So now, at the eleventh hour, I am learning an entirely new technique! I have new flutter kick fins that have given me blisters on all my toes and hurt my stainless steel knee. I’m having to learn a new way of breathing, which is MOST important! It’s like starting all over again and I have only 15 days to learn it!
HG: Other than the health benefits, have you noticed any changes in yourself since committing to swim the Mighty Mississippi? That’s quite a feat!
LBL: I’ve learned when people in the past have called me hard headed, it was really true. I’ve learned that determination will get you anywhere you want to be. I’ve learned who my friends are. I’ve learned a LOT about family.
HG: How did you come up with the very catchy and clever title, ‘The Long Battle for Nicky’?
LBL: My name is Elizabeth Battle Long. I just used a play on words. After all, it is my gift to Nicky.
HG: It seems like the fundraising is going pretty well! Have you gotten a lot of support from the community and local media?
LBL: Oh my Lord!!! I live in a VERY rural area. The nearest “town” is 32 miles away, but The Delta is like no other place on earth. They take care of their own. People came from every community within 100 miles in support of this. I’ve been on TV four times. I even did a PSA. I’ve lost count of all the articles that have been written in newspapers and magazines. It’s been incredible!!! We beat the NATIONAL record for most money raised for PHA at one benefit. My original goal was $50,000 a year ago and I thought, yeah, right. But we are only $8000 away and we still haven’t had the event yet, where we’re selling t-shirts and catfish plates, while a gospel choir fills the air with music!
HG: Besides Nicky, who has been your biggest inspiration for the event? Who’s given you the most support?
LBL: The two other people sitting at the lunch table that day; Robert Chapman, who died in June of this year and Linda Oxley who is on oxygen 24/7. All of the heroes that painfully make their way to the PH meetings to see if there is any new hope for them have been a great inspiration. As for support, my Daddy Long (father in law), who is 92 years old, my sweet husband that I was only married to a year when I became ill, my friends who never doubted I would pull this off and my best friend, Alice, who was swimming with me the day I popped up in the pool and said I was going to swim the river. She never hesitated. She said,”OK, when and where?” I like that about her. I usually get asked if I’m crazy or wanting to commit suicide.
HG: Obviously your swim is in honor of Nicky, and is being held in order to inform more people about PH, but is there any other message you would like your event to convey?
LBL: I would like everyone who has a best friend to hug them on the 11th. However you can, be it by computer, telephone, or Western Union! I promise you, you never know when they won’t be there. And you’ll never understand how badly you will miss them unless you’ve been there.
HG: Can you recommend any resources for those diagnosed with PH and their families?
LBL: Yes, the best of the best, the Pulmonary Hypertension Association. When I found out I had PH and decided to do an event, I Googled, just to see if there was such a thing. They gave me support in every way. They will answer any question you have about PH. They are yet cheering me on. They also helped me get sponsorship and sent me materials to put out at the gala.
HG: Anything else you’d like to tell us about the event or about your cause?
LBL: Just that although this has been a VERY publicized fundraiser, it is VERY personal for me. After losing both my father and best friend within months of each other I went through a terrible depression. My father meant the world to me and all of a sudden I didn’t have my best friend to talk to about it. This swim started because I was mad at Nicky for leaving me. I was there for her when she was sick, but she isn’t here for me. This swim is to say goodbye and to let her know it’s all right and I’m all right to move on.
HG: Thanks for taking the time to talk to me about this, Lil! Best of luck in your swim, and I can’t wait to hear how it goes!
Lil added this after answering my questions: Just found out ten minutes ago that a film crew from California is coming to do a documentary on my swim! It will also be a PSA on national television!
Are you or is someone you know suffering from PH? Had you ever heard of PH before now? To donate to Lil’s cause and support her in this incredible feat, head on over to http://www.firstgiving.com/lillong.
So I recently read an article on Self.com about a study published in Psychological Science showing that people tend to be happier when they have less down time. Those that are busier and have a rather full plate seem to be in a better mood than those who are constantly searching for something to do. Interesting, right?
I thought this was a pretty fascinating little find and wanted to discuss it with you, dear readers, but I was putting it off — until this morning. I was putzing around online, clicking through some of my favorite sites while trying to convince myself to get out of bed and be a productive member of society. When I visited Glamour.com and read the same thing on the Vitamin G blog and then again on BlissTree, I realized this might be more than just a little blip on the psychological health front. So I decided to do a little further research on the topic and here’s what I found:
Being busy –even the ‘OMG, how will survive until Friday?’ kind of busy — tends to work in our favor and causes a boost in those feel-good vibes.
Those who find themselves bored more often also find themselves bummed more frequently. The study suggests that not having much to do leaves plenty of time for ruminating on our lives — especially on what’s wrong with them!
Having a million things to do (and getting them done!) can give us a sense of accomplishment, which, at least for me, is a key component to happiness.
A packed schedule not only makes us feel accomplished, but it’s stimulating to our brains and increases our endorphins! And as we all know by now, endorphins make us happy!
According to the actual Pyschological Science article, even doing pointless activity will make us happier than doing no activity at all.
None of the articles specifically addressed how this makes us healthier, but my hunch is that, in general, when we’re happy, we’re healthy! We tend to have lower stress levels and we tend to take better care of ourselves when we’ve got smiles on our faces. Now, I’m definitely no psychologist, but I can tell you from my own experience that I’m way happier and healthier when I’m crazy, ‘I don’t have a second to sit down’ busy. I love seeing a long to-do list, and I like crossing each thing off even more. When I was a senior in college and constantly sprinting from class to an activity to a sorority function to the gym, I was deliriously happy! I was simply in love with life, and I was probably the fittest I’ve ever been. Even though my schedule was practically bursting at the seams, I made time to get everything done, including taking trips to the gym and making (mostly) healthy meals. And I even had a social life (we all know friends are good for overall wellness).
When I left college and moved to Chicago, I suddenly found myself with more free time, even with a 9 to 5. And at that job (oh, and the next one), I was incredibly bored because my work was mindless. I never felt a sense of accomplishment, I had way too much time to think about everything I wanted to change in my life, and I was so drained at the end of the day, that I just didn’t want to do anything — even the things I knew were good for me, like going for a run or visiting with friends. So when I switched to personal training, I was crazy busy all day, and I experienced this huge surge in those happy hormones! People I knew even noticed and kept commenting about how much happier I seemed and how I appeared to be more like ‘the old Heather.’ Now, I’ve switched to two slightly lower stress jobs with fewer hours (and no sales quota to hit, but that’s another story), but I’ve filled my schedule with other things I’ve been wanting to pursue, like my writing, exploring the city, and (gasp) having a social life. So, I’m keeping busy, but I’m not as stressed (best of both worlds!). I’m definitely happier AND healthier!
So I guess, in short (but really, when is it ever short with me?), I agree with these findings! If I’m bored, I start to brood, and I get cranky. But if I’m whizzing around getting stuff done, I feel great! What about you? Do you thrive on flitting around like a hummingbird like I do? Or does your perfect day include a little time to be completely sloth-like? Spill!
Now, I know I’ve given you my gym pet peeves, and I’ve gone off on a (necessary) tirade or two about things that irk me, but usually I’m a pretty happy person! Occasionally though, something just gets on my nerves, and I have to say ‘Enough!’
Well, today, my friends, that thing is the phrase ‘beach ready’ when it comes to whipping ourselves into shape for warmer weather. I know everyone wants to look their best when strutting across the sand or running about town in their shortest skirts, and I’m not telling you to stop striving to be the best and fittest you can be (I am a trainer, after all). But I get a little annoyed by phrases like ‘summer-ready’ and ‘bikini-worthy‘ because they imply that if these individual body parts aren’t ‘ready’ by whatever publication’s definition, then, well, we better not let them be seen! Arms aren’t rock solid yet? Better keep those long sleeves on. Don’t have abs of steel yet and there’s still some muffin top hangin’ around? Better keep your top on and don’t even think about trying on anything but a one-piece bathing suit. Riiiiiight.
Well, here’s the thing, friends. I didn’t drop 20 pounds or trim inches off my thighs by the time June rolled around. But did I think my legs were prepared for shorts? Yes! Because it was hot! My legs were ready to be freed, no matter what state they were in.
I really feel that phrases and articles like these can be really damaging, and can keep women (and men, too!) from believing that they can do whatever they want right now, no matter what size or shape or weight they happen to be. It keeps the mentality of “Oh, I’ll do this when I drop 10 lbs’ in place, and keeps us from living our lives. I know, because I’ve done it, and I’ve been there, and actually, it was when I was much smaller than I am now. I had it in my head that I had to keep preparing for the main event, but I was always ‘getting ready,’ so it never seemed to roll around. I spent a lot of time waiting for myself to get ready, and in the process, put actually living and loving life on hold. But once I finally figured out that life keeps happening, whether I’m ready or not, I stopped obsessing as much. As author Jessica Weiner points out, ‘Life doesn’t begin five pounds from now.’
So instead of asking yourself if your tummy or your butt is beach ready, why don’t you ask yourself if YOU are beach ready? Do you want to lie on the sand soaking up the sun (with SPF, obvi)? Do you want to play beach volleyball with your friends? Do you want to splash in the water or even bring out your inner kid and build a few sand castles? Then do it! Whether Fitness or Health or Shape says you’re ready or not. Summer’s almost over, and you’re ready, I promise!
So I know we usually hear those words around January 1st, but this is a different kind of ‘new year’ for me.
I’m turning 25.
Yeah, I know.
I can no longer claim to be in my early 20s, and I’ve officially hit my mid-20s. I can’t blame my age as much when I do ridiculous things, and I’m expected to be a little more responsible. On Sunday I will have officially been on Earth for a quarter of a century.
But I’m actually kind of excited about it. I know there aren’t many new perks to turning 25 (I can now rent a car. That’s something, right?) like there were when I hit 18 and 21, but I feel that up until this point I’ve sort of been teetering on the edge of adulthood, waiting for that certain something to tip me over. And although it’s just a date, I feel that June 20th is going to shove me out of feeling like such a kid. And that’s a very good thing.
That’s not to say that I won’t still be a complete goofball — afterall, that’s part of who I am. But I think that, to me, 25 will leave me feeling a little more sure of myself. A little less hesitant to take life by the horns. A little better prepared to run with whatever life throws at me. I’m no sage just yet, but I do feel that I’ve learned a lot –about myself and life in general — in the past year.
I quit my nice secure office job to try my hand at a completely new career path that I knew I would be much more passionate about. From this I learned that doing what you love can be hard, but if it makes you happy, it’s more than worth it. I started actually dating again, and I remembered what it was to open myself up, leaving myself vulnerable to heartbreak. I discovered I’m a lot more fragile than I ever knew, but also more resilient than I had imagined I could be. I made a lot of decisions on my own this year, and instead of asking people if I should do something, I told them. This meant dealing with the consequences alone as well, but I slept better knowing my choices were solely mine. Overall, with the many changes I’ve gone through in the past year, I found out I still have enough glue to patch myself back up when I start to crack. And that I have so much to be thankful for and happy about, no matter that I’m not exactly where I want to be in life just yet.
So what about this ‘new year, new me’ business? Well, I’ve changed so much in the past year, that I think it’s worth trying to continue with the education and evolution of Heather. I’ve got a lot I want to do this year, so there are things I’m going work on with me:
Be gentler with myself.
Sometimes I berate myself and tell myself that I haven’t done enough. But the thing is, I usually do try my hardest. And when I don’t I need to go a little easier on myself. If I wouldn’t speak to a good friend a certain way, then I shouldn’t speak to or treat myself that way.
Be more realistic with myself.
This means being honest with myself at all times. And if I haven’t done enough and I know it, then I need to admit that too. I know this sounds like the opposite of the previous statement, but I can apply the friend philosophy to this one as well. If my friend is being ridiculous and making excuses for herself, it’s my job to tactfully snap her out of it. So it’s all about finding balance. Being nice, but also not letting myself get away with silly things.
This actually goes with both of the above statements. I need to remind myself that I am capable of a whole lot. So I need to give myself pep talks here and there, being kinder to myself and building up my own confidence. I also need to be realistic when I think I can’t do something. When I’m being honest, I realize I’ve been through things a lot more difficult than things I’m doubting myself on. The scary talks, the job risks, the potential of falling on my face. I’ve already done them all and survived. I can do whatever I put my mind to because I’ve probably done it before.
Love myself for who I am right now.
Not for what I was in college or who I want to be by next year. But for every quirk, flaw, strength, and bit of potential I have this very second. I have to love me. For me. Right. Now.
Have any of you reached milestone ages recently? Are you approaching one? How did it or does it make you feel? Anyone else turning the big 2-5 soon?!
Happy Birthday to me!
Ah summer, a time of relaxation and fun in the sun. Right? Sure, but a lot of that fun involves food and booze, and when you’re trying to get in or stay in shape, that can be more than a little stressful. On top of that, May through September is a time notorious for being (the sometimes dreaded) wedding season. This means lots of champagne toasts, wedding cake, and sugary wedding favors – along with potential difficulty zipping up that bridesmaid’s dress. So what do you do when faced with all of these challenges? Avoid parties and BBQs altogether? Vow not to touch the spread at any family picnics? With a few tweaks to how you approach events, you can have your burger and eat it too.
Tip 1: Decide on what you reeeeeallly love
Is potato salad your all-time fave, or are you more of a strawberry shortcake kind of girl? Does the five-tier wedding cake look a-maz-ing, or are you drooling over the entrée being served? What do you love – and what could you do without? Think about how you normally operate, and stick with that. If you don’t normally love sweets, and the chocolate chip cookies or wedding cake appear cheap and store-bought, then go for the savory appetizers you do love! After all, if it’s wedding cake you’re missing out on this time, you’ll likely have the chance to indulge in it once a month for the next five months anyway.
Tip 2: Socialize first
Do not, I repeat, do not head straight for the food. First of all, most of us aren’t usually so starving when we arrive at these events that we must eat immediately (this is why every health article you’ve ever read says that it’s a good idea to have a healthy snack before!). At least I know I’m not. When I do want to eat right away, it’s less because my stomach is rumbling, and more because I’ve spotted my cousin’s amazing Texas salsa. So to avoid monopolizing the whole bowl, I need to catch up with family I haven’t seen in a while first. At weddings, go congratulate the family before you hit up the cheese plate (ahem, or the open bar). The truth is, many of us will go back for seconds of a few things, and maybe even thirds, so we can keep from grazing for the entire duration of the event if we don’t start immediately. Plus, isn’t chatting with friends and family what these summer celebrations are all about?
Tip 3: Make smart swaps
This one can be a little trickier when you are only presented with what your host provides. Eat whole wheat if it’s available, and go for the less caloric spreads when it comes to picnic sandwiches and burgers. Mix some more fresh veggies in with that potato or pasta salad. At weddings, chose lower-cal mixers for those drinks (again, watch that open bar!), and choose the healthier salad dressing if more than one is offered. And hey, if your date isn’t the world’s biggest green fan (a lot of guys I know aren’t), see if he’ll swap his veggies for your potatoes.
Tip 4: Get moving before the event
You know the drill – calories in shouldn’t exceed calories out. So make sure you burn some extra before you indulge that day. Plus, I can almost guarantee you won’t want to exercise after you find yourself in a food coma or after you’ve had that third vodka tonic (actually, I recommend staying away from the treadmill after this one).
Tip 5: Pick one vice and stick to it.
Ok, this one goes along with Tip #1 to a certain extent. At these events, it can be almost impossible to be a perfect angel when it comes to your choices. But the thing is, you don’t have to be. You are likely to indulge a little (which is more than fine every once in a while!), so try to just indulge in one area. Don’t have three burgers, four desserts, and ten beers. Pick one of those celebratory vices and stick with it. I’m not saying three burgers is OK (unless they’re teeny?), but I’m saying that you’ll feel a whole lot less guilty about it if that’s the only thing you splurged on. Same with weddings. If you want to get hammered because you’re back with all of your high school friends, then, well, I’m not going to stop you (mostly because I suppose that would be a bit hypocritical to say the least), but just don’t eat your wedding favor cookie along with everyone else’s at the table. Your hangover will be enough without you feeling chock full of white sugar and flour.
Has summer party and wedding season begun for you yet? How are you dealing with it? Do you have any other tips to making surviving these (fun!) events easier?