Love Yourself

“Abs are made in the kitchen.”

“Don’t eat carbs after 4 PM.”

“Eliminate the toxins.”

“Eat your biggest meal in the morning.”

“Don’t eat any big meals — eat six smaller meals throughout the day.”

The Internet is inundated with quotes, images, articles, and even blogs telling you how to live your best, healthiest life. I am thankful for all of these resources, and yet I simultaneously find myself feeling overwhelmed by them. How do we even know what is best for our bodies? What is really healthy? And as a complete side note, what are we trying to achieve? I think the biggest question relates to your goals. What ARE you trying to achieve?

For a long time, I was obsessed with what I put in my mouth. I counted every single calorie that I consumed and I completely messed up my metabolism and menstrual cycle (sorry, guys) in the process. The “standard” 1,200 calorie diet does not and did not work for me and my body (though, depending on your height and weight, it might for you, and that is perfectly fine).

So what was I trying to achieve? Well, at first, it was to be skinny. Not healthy, not toned, just skinny. And I’m not going to lie to you when I say I loved being skinny. I loved having a thigh gap. I loved that my jeggings were too big. But I also KNEW deep down in my skinny soul that that lifestyle was not sustainable and healthy. I was hurting my body by treating it this way.

Since that time, I’ve become a more serious runner, I’ve added another group fitness certification to my resume, I’ve dabbled in Beachbody coaching…you could say I’ve tried it all. I just want that one magic “a-ha!” moment to come when I realize that THIS one way of eating and working out is the one perfect way. I don’t know if that moment will ever truly come, but in trying different nutrition plans and workouts, I find myself becoming both excited and exhausted. I love trying new things, yet I’m tired of trying to keep up with all the new and different things. I just want to live without constantly thinking about my workouts and my food. There are so many more things that are more worthy of my time!

With this in mind, here are three things I’m giving up in 2016.

Eliminating certain food groups from my diet.
I really don’t like the word diet, because as Chalene Johnson says, “You shouldn’t go ON a diet, you should HAVE a diet.” I much prefer her way of thinking. Either way, I don’t want anything to be off limits. This is not an excuse to eat anything that I want…I know what is unhealthy for me. I never crave fast food or highly processed foods because I don’t eat them. I want real food. But, as far as eliminating food groups that are good for me, like carbs, or good in moderation, like sugar…I’m not doing that. It creates an idea that food is “good” and “bad” and I’ve been there, done that. That way of thinking takes me back to my old ways and I’m not going there.

Feeling guilty for eating certain foods.
There just literally is no reason to do this. I am not overweight, I am not unhealthy, and even if I was, I don’t need to mentally beat myself up every time I eat something that isn’t “healthy”. So I had tortilla chips and salsa while I was watching “The Bachelor”. Worse things have happened. This guilt, in a way, stems from the phrase “clean eating”. To me, it sounds like I can never ever eat anything that isn’t considered healthy or on my list of “good” foods, and if I do, then I need to work it off or make it up in some way. I’m sure not everyone feels this way, but I really want to remove that negativity from my mindset, and having certain foods that are “good” or “bad” doesn’t work well for me.

Looking in the mirror and hating my reflection.
No diet or specific workout routine is going to make me love my body. I have to CHOOSE to love my body. I can’t promise you I won’t make a face at myself when I look in the mirror, but I want to practice positive thinking. I talked a little bit about this when I wrote my goals for the year. This is important to me.

There is a time and a place for a strict diet and workout routine. If you are working towards a healthier lifestyle, I am so proud of you. If you are training for a race or a competition, keep at it. I’ve trained for races where diet and exercise need to be fairly perfect so that I can perform well. But, in living my day to day life, I don’t want a whole bunch of rules and restrictions, whether they are part of a plan or just made up in my head, to control my choices and my thoughts about myself. I want to look back on my life and remember the experiences I had with my friends and family, the good food I enjoyed, the activities I loved doing…not all of the time I spent thinking about how to have the perfect diet, perfect workout routine, or perfect body.

I just want to be happy.

Who’s with me?

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2015: A Year In Review

If you had told me last New Years Eve that THIS New Years Eve I would be on Christmas Break from my first year of teaching, I don’t know that I would have believed you. My life last year was so very different than it is now, but there have only been good changes!

I moved to College Park, MD in August of 2014 to start my Master’s in Reading. I took on three part time jobs at UMD: a research assistant in the Education Department, a writing consultant at The Writing Center, and a fitness instructor at the gym. That’s how last year began…a new semester of grad school plus my three jobs.

This is for my own memory. You will likely be tempted to skim or scroll past some stuff. Ha!

JANUARY

Right after Winter Break, I drove back to Maryland for a work trip to Boston. My research team worked with another team out of Boston College that we communicated with via Skype and phone calls. We went up to see them for 2 days in January to get LOTS of work done in person! It was also -4 the entire time we were in Boston, so thank goodness we were only there for 36 hours. 😉 This was a typical work trip in that I truly have no idea what the city of Boston looks like because I was at the airport, in a taxi to Boston College, at Boston College, at our hotel, and then all of that in reverse. This month, I also started teaching PiYo and I took myself on an adventure to Annapolis because I had never been and that’s what you do when you have few friends in a new place! I ran to the MLK Jr. monument on MLK Jr. Day and I met up with Kristen for the first time to run the National Mall!

FEBRUARY

I taught PiYo once before teaching it on a stage. At the beginning of the semester, the gym has a sort of “opening night” for its classes so everyone can see what’s available. That was a little bit out of my comfort zone! I started training for the Cherry Blossom 10-miler (you’re welcome for the selfie) and spent a lot of time on the indoor track because it snowed a LOT this month and I was a big baby! I went to running group with my church almost every Wednesday and found lots of new-to-me routes in DC. My mom and Jake came to visit for Valentine’s Day and my best friend Stef visited a few weekends later. I also worked at and attended a Fitness Expo at UMD’s gym that brought fitness instructors from up and down the east coast!

MARCH

I remember watching a lot of Grey’s Anatomy this month. Ha! I was obsessed and school kept getting delayed, cancelled, or closed early because of cold weather and snow. I made it outside when I could to keep training for the 10-miler, I took lots of selfies at The Writing Center (omg long hair), and I kept teaching PiYo every Monday morning and Tuesday night! My running group did a special run for those we knew going on a mission trip to the West Bank and I spotted the National Cathedral for the first time since moving here. And of course, my baby brother turned 16 and got his permit!

APRIL

And then it was warm. This was also the month I started tossing around the idea of applying for teaching jobs. My final decision was made while I was sitting in a Jason’s Deli. My memory, I tell ya… I was home this month for Easter and drove with Jake for the first time! I also went running on my favorite loop downtown (where I ran almost every morning in college) and I have a very vivid memory of tripping over a crack in the sidewalk and falling into a big X-shape. My leggings ripped, my hands were bleeding, I was half crying and half yelling, and then when I finally stood up…I kept running. Hahaha! I went to an event at UMD called “Grad Prom”, attended my first bonfire of the year in shorts and sandals, ran to Gravelly Point where you can see planes take off from Reagan National Airport, and ran the Cherry Blossom 10-miler. It was so fun to have my friends in town for that race! I’m a Beachbody coach so I went to a Super Saturday event in Baltimore and I also went to my first Nationals baseball game!

MAY

I started and successfully completed Beachbody’s 21 Day Fix Extreme program this month. I made a last minute decision to run the Pittsburgh Half Marathon when an extra bib became available and I also ran to Gravelly Point for the first time. You can see the planes from Reagan National Airport taking off and landing here! My friend Sarah and I went to the Marine Barracks Evening Parade and my mom and my aunt came to visit for the weekend. We went to Atlantic City at the end of the month for Memorial Day Weekend and I rushed back to Maryland ASAP because I had my first teaching interview! My mom wanted to know what I was wearing and my dad wanted to see a picture of the Zipcar I had rented, so that’s how I ended up with that super awkward picture on the bottom right. Ha!

JUNE

First November Project workout.
First Duquesne Alumni Event at the Nationals vs. Pirates game in DC.
First adventure to Old Town, Alexandria, VA.
First time eating an apple fritter (that was the size of my head).
First time making and eating Strawberry Salsa for a Strawberry Festival Party!
Second Kenny Chesney concert.
Second Taylor Swift concert.
Second and third teaching interviews (third time was the charm!).

I also chopped all my hair off and spent a lot of time on the computer. It sounds terrible to say that in the middle of summer, but I was taking two online summer classes and apartment hunting!

JULY

My mom, Jake, and his friend came to DC for the Fourth of July. Kristen and I started training for the Marine Corps Marathon with a team of other runners from my church. I spent even more time on my computer, took my mom to see the elementary school where I was hired, started moving to my new apartment, and spent 10 much needed days on the beach!

AUGUST

I officially moved to my new apartment in Virginia. One of my friends from college also moved to the area so we spent a lot of time exploring DC together! I ate brunch with other DC area bloggers, made my first grown up purchase of porch furniture, and ran the Lincoln Memorial steps for the first time. I went home for a week to surprise my family (a conference I was supposed to attend was cancelled last minute), we celebrated Amigo’s 2nd birthday, and then I started new teacher orientation. My classroom was looking bare and empty! Kristen and I went to a Steelers bar to watch a preseason game, I went to Baltimore to celebrate my friend Shannon’s birthday, and I finally got tagged at November Project!

SEPTEMBER

A secret November Project workout that ended at a Biergarten in DC for yoga and drinks. My first day as a real teacher. 😉 The Pope came to town, I ran a 10k with my friends, I met Amanda for dinner, and I went to a 90s bar crawl in DC. I also made pumpkin chocolate chip cookies for my mentors and coworkers as a thank you for helping me during my first month of teaching!

OCTOBER

My mom and my aunt visited the first weekend of October! My classroom finally started feeling like a real room. I visited the pumpkin patch and then I got sick for the first time in my adult life…not even ashamed of that selfie. I had a fever and a sinus infection and junk in my lungs and it was horrible and I had to take care of myself. Hahaha! I participated in a Blogger Scarf Exchange, spent time with my family from Indianapolis in DC, and went to New York City to see the marathon!

NOVEMBER

70 degree days meant evening runs as often as possible. I went hiking on the Billy Goat Trail, attended a Beer and Wine Festival at Nationals Park, and generally counted down the days until Thanksgiving Break. 😉 I flew home (which is unusual) for the holiday, spent time with my cousins, and helped my mom decorate for Christmas.

DECEMBER

Where did this month go?! There was a lot of Christmas cheer this month. I ran to see the Capitol Christmas Tree and the National Christmas TreeMy friends and I went to see Zoo Lights at the National Zoo. I took myself on an adventure to the National Harbor to see all of their Christmas decorations and check out the area. I went to a Christmas party and hosted a Christmas party, which I also labeled my birthday party. 😉 #decemberbirthdayproblems My mom, my aunt, and I made Christmas cookies, I met up with my college roommate for dinner, and of course, we celebrated Christmas. Then, we made a getaway to Hershey, PA and NYC for a few days!

Looking back, I was ready for this life (teaching and such) at the beginning of 2015. I loved being in school, but I wasn’t fulfilled doing a whole bunch of jobs instead of focusing on one job. The summer brought some stress as I started applying for jobs, interviewing, and apartment hunting. I also thought it would be a fabulous idea to take two online classes, so that just added to my stress. August was a wonderful month free of responsibilities, at least until I started orientation for my job. I was SO nervous to take the night class that I have with my job but after doing it for a semester, I realize it’s not ideal but it works.

In September, I remember being SO tired. I was overwhelmed, I didn’t feel like I knew what I was doing AT ALL, and I was just generally whiny to anyone who asked me about my life. In October and November, I feel like I started to hit my stride. I figured out that I will probably continue the rest of this year feeling like I don’t know what I’m doing…but having confidence to figure it out as I go is what is making me successful. I’m doing what I said I was always going to do…teach…and I’m doing kinda okay at it. I’m a perfectionist, so you will never hear me say I’m good. And let’s face it, as a first year teacher, I probably have some room to grow. 😉 I had a check up with my doctor last week and she was asking me about my life and just was amazed at how much has changed with me this year. She said she can’t wait to see what my life is like next year…and neither can I! Because I can’t even begin to imagine!

HAPPY NEW YEAR, FRIENDS! 🙂

My Year In Running: 2015

Everyone is in reflection mode this holiday season. We’re thinking about the happy times that this time of year brings, but we’re also reflecting on what has happened this year and what might change in the new year. “New year, new me” and all of that jazz. Today, I’m talking about me + running in 2015!

  • Best race experience: 2015 has been the first year in a few years that I haven’t had a ton of races on my calendar. I ran a 10-miler, a half marathon, a 10k, and then you’ll remember I tried to start training for a marathon too. “Tried” being the operative word there. 😉 I really loved running the Cherry Blossom 10-miler even though the course was cut a little short this year. My friends came to town to run with me, the weather was beautiful, and it was my first big race running through my new city!
  • Best run: Running through Central Park was definitely my favorite run this year! I have always wanted to do that. I’ve been to NYC a few times in the last few years, and I always run on the treadmill at our hotel before the day gets started. To run through the park, especially the day of the TCS NYC Marathon, was oh so very fun!

My favorite weekend runs have been on the Mt. Vernon Trail. But as I looked through pictures to try to recall a “best” run I was forgetting about, I saw a lot of pictures that made me realize this was kind of a mediocre year of running for me. I love to run, so any run is fun for me, but there have been lots of runs that were harder than they should have been. I’m feeling like this might be a reason why I got hurt during marathon training. Maybe I didn’t have the proper base to start training?

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  • Best new piece of running gear: I would LOVE the Garmin Forerunner 220 so maybe Santa will deliver. 😉 I didn’t invest in anything too out of the ordinary this year…just several different colored pairs of my favorite Asics Gel Kayano shoes. The gel makes ALL the difference. I’ve run in Brooks and Mizuno before and loved them both! I was going to switch brands this summer and when I tried another shoe on, I could just tell there wasn’t gel and I love that cushion-y feeling!
  • Best running advice you’ve received this year: “Listen to your body.” Your brain (or maybe just mine) is stupid and will tell you that you can and should run even when you know you should take it easy. I’ve had a pretty laid back year so I’m hoping that will set me up for success headed into the new year!
  • Most inspirational runner: I’m inspired by so many of the blogging runners that I met at a DC brunch this summer! Courtney, Sue, and Colleen are a few of my favorites to follow along with on social media. 🙂 These ladies balance full time jobs with some serious training and motivate me to get out the door some days!
  • Favorite picture from a run or race this year: 

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Running the Lincoln steps was so fun! Inspired by November Project DC, of course. Now to just make it to one of the real Wednesday stair workouts…

  • Race experience you would repeat in a heartbeat: I would do the Pittsburgh Half again! I went into that race this year on a whim with very little official training under my belt and it was just a fun run.
  • If you could sum up your year in a couple of words what would they be? Low key. Lots of cross training. I’m excited for a bigger and better running year in 2016! #pressureson

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Linking up with Courtney for Year in Running 2015!

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Almost April

I think it’s been a long hard winter for most people in the country and we are ready for SPRING! But I still can’t help myself from taking a minute and proclaiming that I cannot believe it is almost April! I do this with most occasions…birthdays, holidays, new months of the year…that feeling that I cannot believe how quickly the time passes.

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 In honor of the last day of March…and being 1/4 of the way through this new year…I thought I would look back and see how intentional I have been with my New Years Resolutions. 🙂

For the last few years, I have semi-consistently posted on this blog. I was always around in January to write about my one word for the year, which you can read about here. The one word concept is based on the idea that every January, we make lengthy lists of resolutions that end up overwhelming us and falling to the side. Instead, if you narrow your focus onto one word, and then go and DO all those other things that you want to do with that word in mind, maybe just maybe you will succeed!

For the year of 2015, I decided I wanted to be more present in my every day life.

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I wanted to focus on the little moments and truly appreciate what is happening to me in my life! I can’t be all sunshine and roses all the time, but I can try…because I am very blessed. I wanted to have more conversations and really connect with people in this phone-crazed world. And with my recent break from social media, you know that I had to reel myself in here. I was panicking as I used social media because as I was scrolling, I likely had other more important things to do. Oh my. I feel much happier after my break. I am much more balanced here now. AND I HAVE BEEN DOING THE WHOLE “BE PRESENT” THING! YAY!

Even though I chose to be present…I also made a list. I like lists. Do you like lists? These are not resolutions…they are goals. Resolutions, to me, are simply good ideas. Goals are things that WILL be done!

1. Read 52 books.

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I am keeping track of titles on the “One Year, Many Pages” tab of this blog. Looking at the number of books on this list, I feel like I need to get a move on…but I feel like I have been reading much more than usual and that makes me happy. So gold star for me. 😉

2.  Make time for what I will call “morning message”.  

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I attend church regularly and I hang out with my small group on Wednesday evenings after we run, but I wanted to grow in my faith and I knew that the only way to do that was by spending time with God. Every morning when I wake up, I make coffee and then read my daily devotional, Jesus Calling. I write down little notes in my journal, I read a few verses in the Bible, and I pray. Sometimes it takes 5 minutes, sometimes it takes 20 minutes…either way, it’s a great way to start my day. It is one of my favorite daily routines, but I can’t give myself a gold star here because there are some days that I wake up and simply do not have my quiet time. This usually happens when I go home and I guess it is just because I am not in my usual environment? But I really want to work on this. I am not the kind of person to wake up five minutes before the alarm. Today, I had to be somewhere at 9:30 AM and I intentionally woke up at 7 AM so that I could enjoy my morning. I have time so I need to use my time. 🙂

3.  Find a Spinning and PiYo “home”.

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I have been teaching Spin classes since 2011 and I recently became a PiYo LIVE instructor in December. Luckily, I was able to find a position as a PiYo Instructor at UMD’s gym!

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This is a picture from our kick-off event at the beginning of the semester. 🙂 I teach Monday morning and Tuesday night and it is so fun! I have yet to find a Spin “home” (UMD didn’t need any new Spin instructors) but I don’t feel like my schedule this semester would really allow me to leave campus to teach Spin, so if I can’t teach here, that will have to be put on the back burner for now.

4.  Gain confidence in my abilities as a health coach.

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“Nutrition and fitness are my passion and I want to share that with as many people as possible!  I am guilty of comparison, but I need to focus on what I bring to the table and not worry about how my journey differs from someone else’s.” That quote is what I said about this in my original post…the same rings true. No leaps and bounds here. Turtle speed.

5.  Grow my savings.

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Recent college graduate in grad school IS TRYING HARD TO SAVE while still having fun. I’m trying. 😉

6.  Run a 1:45 marathon.  

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Well, friends. I just so happened to text two of my best friends who also love to run last night about this particular topic. I am feeling slow as molasses lately. My time is nowhere near where I want it to be but that is part of running. I will get faster again. I am running a 10-miler in two weeks and I do not think I will beat my previous time (which was approximately 1:33) but I will keep you posted. I am also not currently signed up for a half marathon so I can’t say too much more about this yet.

7.  Walk my dogs as often as possible when I am home in Pittsburgh.

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I haven’t been home much since the holidays but here are a few anecdotes that prove I have been walking the dogs:

1. Phone Drama
I leashed them up and at the end of the driveway I told them to stop because I was messing with MapMyRun (which also tracks walking). My new iPhone is the 6Plus and I apparently need two hands to use it on occasion. Amigo typically acts like he has never been on a leash before (when will this go away?) so he was being impatient and pulled on my arm. This caused me to drop MY ONE DAY OLD PHONE. Luckily, I have a fancy screen protector and the phone was fine. Amen.

2. King Colby
 Colby is a spoiled brat and thinks that he should always be in charge of whatever activity we may be doing. For approximately 15 minutes, he walks with his head turned around as he tries to bite his leash off. I am not joking.

3. Amigo’s Indian Name –> Flying Birds, Chasing Dog
Amigo likes to chase things and he is really super fast. I have never seen him catch anything except Colby hahaha. He also apparently has great hearing (I mean, he is a dog) because he heard a flock of geese (who weren’t making noise) fly over us as we walked and I swear to God he tried to jump into the sky. You cannot chase flying geese. Sorry man.

 8.  Make 2015 a yes year.

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When someone wants to make plans, I have said yes. When a friend wants to travel, I have said yes (except my friends are going to Las Vegas without me this weekend WAH!!!). When I have a new opportunity at work or school, I have said yes. This goal wasn’t written with the intention of overwhelming me…I just wanted to do new things and push myself out of my comfort zone. There are a lot of good things in the works. I’ll keep you posted. 🙂