Category Archives: self-love

Thursday Tip: Love the One You’re With

And by that I mean the one you’re with allll the time – YOU!

Trying to lose weight or tone up or just improve something about yourself in general? Then start liking where – and who – you are now! Instead of talking about how much you need to firm up your less-than-rock-hard abs or how you’ll be happy when you just lose those next five pounds, enjoy the progress you’re making right now. In other words, work with what ya got!
Now I’m not saying, ‘Hey, go ahead and be completely content with everything about yourself and never change,” because change is healthy, and we should all try to evolve in some way within our lifetimes. Honestly, I’d be worried if you had no desire to change anything. What I am saying is that you’re not even going to try to change if you hate everything about yourself. I’ve found that the times when I’ve made the most forward progress with my goals are the times when I’ve accepted – and even embraced – who I was right at that very moment. Use what you like as a base and go from there.
My favorite metaphor for this is so anti-feminist (since most of my readers are women) that I probably shouldn’t say, but whatevs, it works: Think of yourself like a car. (I know. Comparing the female body to a piece of machinery. Right.) If you think of yourself as a total junker that should just be scrapped for spare parts, then, well, you’ll probably treat yourself that way. Feed it junk food, let it sit around without moving it, let it rust, never try to increase its worth in any way. Yeah, that sounds like a fabulous plan for getting yourself where you want to be.
However, if you visualize yourself as a classic cruiser that just needs a few adjustments, then what do you think you’ll do? You’ll make those adjustments! Not only that, but you’ll see the potential in yourself from the beginning. So you have a dented bumper or you’re kind of a slow runner.  Why not focus on those great headlights (yeah, I just took away my own feminist card) or the fact that you can outswim everyone you know? Maybe your gas mileage isn’t so great or you want to lose those muffin tops. So focus on the fact that your brakes work perfectly and that you have killer arms.
I’m going to stop with the car references because the above is pretty much the extent of my auto knowledge, but the message here should be obvious by now: Focus on the positive, and the rest will follow. Treat yourself well – even if you aren’t exactly who or what you want to be right now – and your mind and body will respond in turn. You can’t improve yourself until you love yourself.
What do you think? Can you improve yourself if you don’t care about yourself? Do you make the most progress when you find things you really like about you? If you like yourself more, do you treat yourself better so that you can keep advancing your goals? Do you beg to differ with everything I’ve said and think I’m totally full of it? Let me know!
I like to think of myself like this classic ’57 T-Bird rather than a hoop-D with bad shocks.

New Month, New Goals: February

New month, new goals! As I mentioned last month, I decided not to make any New Year’s resolutions, but I did take a page from my friend Rachel’s book and came up with goals for January alone. I want to carry this on throughout the year to see what I can accomplish when I break my big goals down into smaller, more doable steps.
So here are my new goals for February to help me make 2010 my healthiest, happiest year yet!
  1. Get more sleep: OK, repeat goal. While this one wasn’t a complete and utter fail last month, I did not get my seven hours at least five nights per week. I got close with six many nights, but still. I didn’t accomplish what I wanted to. So this month, I’m going to make sleep even more of a priority. But I’m going to lower the bar a teeny bit. I’m going to aim for seven hours at least four nights a week this month. (Give me your tips for getting to bed earlier! I’ll take all the help I can get!)
  2. Incorporate new types of cardio into my routine: Since I started thinking about doing the Chicago Triathlon, I’ve been considering how I can take my workouts up a notch. The other day I made a fun cardio circuit for myself that involved a lot of spinning with some stair and lap running mixed in there . And I have to say, I kind of loved it! So I want to take at least two spinning classes this month, since I’ve tried it before but never really given it a chance. If I want to prep for the Tri (goal for March is to actually SIGN UP), I need to start now – but indoors because there is no way in HELL I’m biking along the lake with a -10 windchill.
  3. Focus on the positive: I’ve always considered myself a pretty upbeat person, but I have also always had a problem with getting into my own head too much and overanalyzing everything (no, really, everything), and then dwelling on the negatives of a given experience. So this month, at least a three times a week, I want to write down the positive things that happen to me during the day. I was going through old texts today, and I came across some I had saved because they were from the really uplifting people in my life. My parents telling me how proud they are of me, an inspiring friend reminding me that I’m capable of anything, my boss encouraging me and letting me know I’m doing “one hell of a job.” I saved those for a reason – because I wanted to remind myself to focus on the positive – so I need to do that everyday! 
  4. Read more than just the back three pages of the Red Eye newspaper: Because scanning the celebrity gossip and doing the crossword puzzle isn’t really helping me become a more well-rounded person.
What about you?  Got any new goals for this month?  How did your January goals go?  And if you did make New Year’s resolutions, are you still going strong?  I want to know!

Pay Attention! (To Your Body, That Is)

Not entirely relevant, but toothpastefordinner.com kills me every time.
So I’ve had a few requests to address emotional eating, but it’s a pretty big (and sometimes loaded) topic, so I want to give it a little more thought before I talk about it. In the meantime, here’s a tip to help you work on eating mindfully.
I recently received an email from first30days.com (really cool site, btw!) with a genius way to make you a little more conscious about your food choices. It seems so obvious, but they way they put it just made the light bulb go off above my head. Instead of thinking of how good something is going to taste or feel right now, think about how you’ll feel and how it will affect you in three hours. When they put it like that, all I could think was, ‘Um, duh.’ A huge meal always makes me feel comatose after 3 hours. And too much sugar never fails to give me a headache and make me nauseous long after the taste is gone.
When I read the email I realized I had been doing just that lately. For a while there I was not tuning in so well to my body and was rushing around grabbing whatever – and some of it wasn’t the most nutritious stuff out there. It wasn’t really messing with my weight or anything, but it certainly didn’t make me feel good. So lately I’ve been thinking about how the things I’m putting into my body will affect my entire body – not only three hours from now, but three days, and even three months from now. Will a heavier meal later at night mess with my sleep or leave me waking up uncomfortable the next morning? If I’m starving when I get home after a 14-hour workday, should I grab whatever or actually take a breath and plate a balanced meal with lots of veggies? Will whole foods most likely satisfy me more and give me more energy in the long run than processed bars and shakes?
Stopping to think for a minute about how I’ll react to what I’m eating has really boosted my energy and my mood – this week especially. I’ve felt more productive, getting up early hasn’t been as much of a struggle, and I’ve had six (yeah, SIX!) pretty kickass workouts this week alone! Even waking up at 7am this morning (I don’t DO early Saturdays) was pretty easy! And I definitely won’t complain about feeling better in my clothes.
I want to know what YOU think of this idea. Are you generally good at eating mindfully? Do you have to work at it? Have you been working on it? How does it make you feel when you make conscious choices regarding your food? And for all of you pros out there, got any tips for those making an effort to eat mindfully?

Thursday Thoughts

Can I just take a quick second to mention how much this cover pisses me off? First of all, I am a huge Jen Aniston fan, and I feel like she has been painted as this lonely, crazy, desperate woman ever since she and Brad Pitt split. And even though People is apparently trying to make her look good with this article, it only feeds into this whole Brad, Angelina, Jen triangle gossip. And it makes Jen look pathetic, plain and simple.

And just a few things about the cover’s tag line: “Five Years After Brad”

a) Why are we commemorating this? Was Brad a natural disaster? A national tragedy? Any important moment in history at all? Not in my book. Yes, they were Hollywood’s ‘It’ couple, and no, I really do not like Angelina, but really? It was a divorce caused by an affair. It happens. It’s sad, of course, but it does happen. To regular people every single day. I realize they’re in the spotlight, but come ON. It’s time to get over it. In fact, it was time to get over it about four years ago.

b) Why isn’t it, “Five Years After Jen?” Because Brad seems to have it all together with his family? Because he left her? So what? Her career has been doing pretty well, and it’s not like she’s been sitting at home every day and night. She’s shown out and about with different people all the time, so I think she might be doing OK. Having that one person in her life doesn’t make her unfulfilled, and I really wish the media would stop suggesting that. Also, have you SEEN Brad Pitt lately? He’s looking slightly homeless, and apparently “sources close to” him are saying that his odor is getting slightly offensive. Soo, I think she’s got it together enough to shower at the very least.

c) I love how tabloids (whatevs, People, you are SO a tabloid) make it seem like every time a woman steps out looking better than before that it’s a breakup revenge. What if she just wants to feel good about herself? There’s a novel idea.

I realize that had nothing to do with health or fitness or any sort of tuning into your body, but it just had to be said. And you know what? Maybe she looks so fabulous these days because she stopped being so concerned with listening to all the static from other people, and just started turning the dial to Jen FM. How about we put THAT on the cover?

Tunes for Tuesday: Hip-Swinging Soul

An icon.

You know those days when you just cannot muster up the motivation to get to the gym, but you know how good you’d feel if you just got moving? Sometimes, instead of a regular cardio workout, you just need to shake it. In these instances, I call on my favorites to help me let down my hair, shake off my uptight white girl persona, and really bust a move in the privacy of my own living room. Here are my go-to tunes that allow me to really get into a groove. Some fast, some slow, some R&B, some soul, some newer, and most old, but they alllll make you want to swing those hips:
“The House That Jack Built” -Aretha Franklin
“Dancing In The Street”  -Martha and the Vandellas
“Here I Am (Come and Take Me)” -Al Green
“Super Duper Love (Are You Diggin’ On Me?) Pt 1 -Joss Stone
“Son of a Preacher Man” –Dusty Springfield
“Rock Steady” -Aretha Franklin
“Let’s Get Lifted” -John Legend
“Let’s Stay Together” -Al Green
“Ain’t No Sunshine (When She’s Gone)” -Bill Withers
“Every Ghetto Every City” -Lauryn Hill
“Proud Mary” -Tina & Ike Turner
“Can’t Get Enough of Your Love” -Barry White
“Do You Feel Me” -Anthony Hamilton
“Do Right Woman, Do Right Man” -Aretha Franklin
“Uptight (Everything’s Alright)” -Stevie Wonder
-“Let’s Get It On” -Marvin Gaye (oh c’mon, you KNEW this was going to be on here)
“I Can’t Get Next To You” -Al Green (clearly have a thing for Mr. Green)
This playlist should give you plenty of time to really get into your groove, and maybe even work up a sweat if you do choose to forgo the gym (once in a while, this is OK)! These are just some of my favorites, but what are yours? Which songs really get YOU going?

(Check out this AWESOME live version of Marvin Gaye’s “Let’s Get It On” to get you inspired!)

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!

MIA

Oops, month-long hiatus….
I’ve been busy, but I’ll get back to it soon! Let’s just say some big changes are under way. I recently cut the cord at work, so in less than two weeks I will be dunzo with corporate America. I’m going to do the writing thing full-time (a book?!), and in about a month (after I practice on myself and kick my butt into awesome shape) I’m going to apply to a bunch of gyms in the area as a personal trainer! I am so pumped it’s not even funny. And things seem to really be falling into place for me….more details on that later.
On the health front, I found out why I am exhausted ALL THE TIME. Apparently I have crazy-low iron levels, so that means I started taking a supplement right away. Hopefully I’ll see results soon, but until then, Mom (she’s a nurse practitioner at a preventative medicine office) tells me I shouldn’t be doing crazy intense workouts or anything, and she’s surprised I haven’t passed out. Wow. OK. Time to take my health even more seriously! If other things weren’t motivation enough, this is kind of a big deal. I need to fix it before it turns into full-blown anemia. This means I’m going to try to even incorporate a little — gulp — red meat into my diet.
As far as fitness goes, I’ve been working on doing more resistance training (nothing crazy, obvi; see above), and making sure that hitting the weight room at least three times per week is the norm. I think I lost some muscle mass after moving here because I focused mostly on cardio. Losing the muscle mass probably is making it harder to lose, so I’ve gotta work on that. Well, now I’m doing a bit of both, and making gym time a priority. I know that I cannot sacrifice my health for financial reasons. For a while I was taking on extra freelance work (after looong days spent commuting and working), but the extra money did me no good, as it was costing me my health. Plus I was probably buying crap and processed shit that cost more anyway because I was always so tired. Anyway. I cannot wait until I have a few weeks off to focus on (not obsess over) my health and my writing after I leave my desk job.
Sigh. OK. I’m feeling good about life, and that was my explanation for dropping off the face of the blogging planet. Once I have a little more time, you can bet this baby will becoming more of a priority! I love health and fitness, and I love writing, so perfect combo right here. Until then though (9 working days!), posts will be sporadic so that I can focus on really tuning into what this girl’s body really needs!

Loving Me For Me

OK, so I was cranky today. And a little yesterday. Alright, fine, and the day before. So let’s do a little exercise in positivity, shall we?

Quick — name two things you love about your physical self (I’m feeling a little shallow today, too) right now. Not when you weigh ten pounds less or when you have a tan or when you have had time to get yourself all gussied up. Right this very instant.

I will start, because…well, I need to stop being so cranky.

A few things I LOVE about myself:

1) My eyebrows. Even when I’m wearing zero makeup, they still give me a little drama and make me look more expressive. I touch them up a little with the tweezers, but other than that I guess I’ve been given good brow genes. (Thanks, Mom!)
2) My eyes. No matter how much weight I gain or lose, or how much sun I’ve gotten, they are still a lovely shade of blue that changes depending on what I’m wearing. I’ve even been told they’re ‘mesmerizing.’ (If you must know, I actually laughed really hard at this, embarrassing the boy who said it. Sometimes I don’t handle compliments very well…)
3) Yeah, three, whatever, it’s my blog. I really like the part of my ankle that slopes into my feet. It’s strong but somewhat delicate at the same time (which is not representative of me at all, but I love it anyway), and I like the way my ankles and legs look in heels. Actually I kind of like my feet too, even though I have been told they’re atrocious. Years of dancing, running, and swimming will do that to you I guess. Whatevs, they’re lived in and strong, and that makes me like them even more.

OK, so I guess I actually listed four. I cheated.

What do you all love about your bod or your appearance right now? And since I broke the rules, you can too. Name as many things as you like!

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