Category Archives: holidays

New Year, New Me


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.

Aim higher.

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!

Surviving Summer Holidays (and Wedding Season!)

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?

January Joiners

I know the tracksuit is dead giveaway, but give the guy some credit!
Around this time of year, a big topic of discussion at the gym is all of the newcomers who flood health clubs everywhere right around January 1. The resolutions kick in when the pants don’t fit, so everyone who hasn’t been to the gym in a while signs up for a shiny new membership package or dusts off the card that’s been sitting in his or her wallet for the past 11 months. I know there are a lot of opinions on these “Resolutionaries,” so let’s discuss, shall we?

This morning I was training a client in the pool at 6:30am, a time when the gym is normally pretty dead besides the regulars. Well, not today. Even from the pool, I could tell the gym was packed. Very few, if any, cardio machines weren’t in use, and the cable machines were taken over by guys in tank tops who just couldn’t get enough of themselves in the mirrors. There were even a few more people swimming laps with me after I finished my early swim lesson. All of this new activity at the club got me thinking about how I feel about these January joiners.

In college, I dreaded coming back to my beloved gym after winter break. I just knew that all of the people who had pushed working out to the wayside the previous semester would charge in and take over every piece of equipment because the holidays had done them in. And because Michigan has a ridiculously early spring break, and my peers who had forgotten where the gym actually was would need to elliptical and bicep curl themselves into bathing suit shape by February 25th. Those of us who considered ourselves regulars were, of course, annoyed for this month and a half, because we not only knew where the gym was but — gasp — knew there were multiple gyms on campus. We pretty much just waited for the newbies to give up so we could get our precious treadmills and weight machines back.

But today, I was really thinking about it. I got kind of excited that so many people had chosen to get up at 5am to get their butts into the gym. And not just because that means more clients (although, I guess that doesn’t hurt). I was happy that so many people wanted to improve their health and follow through with those resolutions. I’m not sure what changed since college (or even since last winter when I was pissed that the lines at my neighborhood gym were even longer), but I kind of feel bad, and more than a little selfish, for wishing my peers in college would just quit on their goals before January even came to a close. And now I’m even finding a bit of inspiration in these wide-eyed first timers. I may be a regular (OK, I work at the gym, so I kind of have to be), but that doesn’t mean that I don’t have new fitness goals. I want to strength train more, build my swimming endurance back up, and increase my running mileage to where it used to be. If they can brave the gym for the first time in ages, then I can push myself a little harder in the workouts that I’m already doing. Even this morning, when swimming a mile was the last thing I wanted to do, I saw all of those folks sweating it out before work, and I knew I had no excuse. Thanks to them, I stuck it out in the pool, so I’m hoping they stick it out for the year. I hope all of the resolutionaries become regulars.

So which camp are you? Still hating on those newbies? Or do you embrace the fresh faces and encourage them to keep up the good work? I know I’ll be in the latter group this year, but tell me what you think!

New Year’s Resolutions: A Do or a Don’t?

Is time really passing? Dick Clark’s face makes me wonder.
Yep, another New Years piece. Probably the 50th or maybe 500th you’ve read in the past week, but hey, I’ve always liked a theme.

First of all, I’ve always loved NYE, but I think it’s gotten too hyped up, and when there’s so much pressure on something to be great, it can really suck when it disappoints. Take last year for example: A group of friends and I decided to get tickets to the party at the Drake hotel (which cost $150 more than I wanted it to, by the way). Anyway, I had it in my head that it was going to be this elegant affair, and I was just SO excited. Well guess what? It was all drunk 25ish-year-olds stumbling around in their finest, and it was so not what I had imagined. I had four drinks over the course of about five hours, and I hardly remembered midnight because they were that strong. What I do recall pretty clearly is what a letdown it was and how I, for no apparent reason, ended the night upset and crying and being THAT girl. This year, my roommate and I are going to a keg party wearing jeans. I have no expectations, and that’s the way I like it.

So, similarly, I’m pretty torn on how I feel about New Years’ resolutions. Best thing ever? Or total bummer at midnight of next New Years? On the one hand, I like goals, and it’s really just another type of goal. But on the other hand, it’s kind of forcing you to change at a certain time just because everyone else is, not necessarily when you’re ready. And this makes resolutions hard for people to stick to it, because you can’t change until you really want to.

I know that I made a lot of resolutions last year that I didn’t completely keep. All these things about getting healthier and happier and whatever else, and honestly, I feel I was a bit too ambitious. I had like 10 goals for 2009! And I didn’t break them down into doable steps – they were kind of vague and, well, they sounded a little grand. This year, I’m taking an idea my friend Rachel has been using for a while now, and I’m making smaller goals each month that I will carry on throughout the year. They’ll tie into the objective of making 2010 my healthiest and happiest year yet, but they will be specific and attainable.

So, since I’m not making a New Years’ resolution per se, I’ll give you my January goals:

1) Get more sleep. I am TERRIBLE at this. I sleep on weekends and that’s pretty much it. I know how crucial sleep is to every other aspect of my health, so I have to make it a priority. I am going to get seven hours of sleep at least 5 nights per week. No exceptions.
2) Sit somewhere different on the bus. Yeah, I’m completely serious on this one. I feel like sometimes you just need to change your point of view, and I’m starting with my seat on public transit.
3) Strength train twice per week. Fitness is my job, and I haven’t been perfect with the resistance/strength aspect of my workouts in the past two months. Gotta practice what I preach!
4) Write and post at least once per week. Because I have been a slacker.

What about everyone else? Are you making resolutions? How do you feel about them? And what’s everyone doing tonight!?

Just Say No

Ralphie should have just said no.
Ah, the holidays. The most wonderful time of the year, no? Well, in recent years with our winter festivities running on steroids and taking up every waking second, for some the answer to that question might really be a big fat NO. From Thanksgiving to January 1st, there’s plenty of time to go crazy with everything we try to do. I personally love the holidays, but even I can’t help feeling as though I’m being stretched a little thin around this time of year.

I’ve found that the only solution to this problem is something I’m sure you’ve heard over and over again: Learn how to say ‘no.’ Just one word, two little letters, but for some reason, it’s really, really hard for a lot of us – especially women – to say it, even when we truly want to. This idea should be put into practice all year round honestly, but we’ll take baby steps and start with the holidays. So here’s an idea: stop considering every other person on the planet’s feelings and start considering what you actually need to do to keep your sanity this winter.

If you’ve been invited to your eighth cookie-decorating party of the season hosted by your third cousin once removed, and you just totally need to go running instead or you’ll strangle the first kid who reaches across you for the vanilla frosting, then say no. If you’re asked to partake in yet another Secret Santa or Dirty Christmas exchange, and you are totally tapped out and buying even a tiny gift will make you and your wallet scream, just say no. If your coworkers ask you to go out for holiday happy hour (again), and you haven’t even been able to enjoy your Christmas tree or just sit and enjoy a cup of hot cocoa at home yet, then say no. No matter what anyone says, taking time out for you during the holidays is not selfish. It’s essential.

So here’s the challenge: In what’s left of your holiday season (hey, we all have New Year’s coming up), just say no to one thing you actually don’t want to do. Maybe you do want to hit up that cookie party – go ahead and bring your award-winning sugar cookies. But if you feel like you’d rather spend booze calories and bar time on a mug full of chocolate and marshmallows while taking in the A Christmas Story marathon (leg lamps, frozen tongues, and Red Ryder air rifles for 24 hours straight on TBS starting tomorrow!), then tell the office pals you’ll see them on Monday. The world will not stop turning if you miss one holiday gathering this year. I promise. So go, enjoy the holiday season, and report back on how good it felt to say no!


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