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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Let’s Talk [January]

Andrea and Erika always plan such fun link-ups for us bloggers, and today we are starting the first of many “Let’s Talk” posts. On this Monday, it’s all about resolutions, goals, and what I’m looking forward to in 2016. 🙂 Link up with us here!

For the year of 2015, I chose one word to focus on and I wrote a list of eight resolutions, which I prefer to call goals because it makes them seem more do-able. I wanted to be more present in 2015 (my one word) and my resolutions (or goals) were related to all aspects of my life. Looking back, I only truly accomplished one of my resolutions from 2015. I wanted it to be a “yes” year and I needed it to be a “yes” year because I was brand new to my school, my city, my church, and so on. I can say with almost complete certainty that every time an opportunity to hang out with friends or try something new was presented to me, I accepted the offer. I even ventured out on my own a few times because I wanted to try new things and I didn’t care if I had to do them alone! I found community, made so many new friends, got more involved with my church, and accepted my first full-time teaching position in 2015, all because I decided I was going to say yes. So it was a good year. 🙂

I can hardly believe the first month of 2016 has already passed us by, but here we are. And I still don’t have a concrete list of things to accomplish this year. Now, that doesn’t mean I don’t have goals. I’m a list maker and a task do-er. I enjoy a challenge and I need to feel like I am constantly working towards something. But the list in my head feels more abstract this year, probably because there are many little things that I want to change as part of my daily routine that I think will improve my life overall. #woah #thatwasdeep

Here’s what I’ll be up to in 2016:

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  1. Read. Every day. There is zero reason not to do this, and absolutely every reason TO do it. It’s calming and I’m learning at the same time. I’ve become a huge fan of audio books, specifically of the personal development or motivational kind. Listening to those on the way to and from work really sets a great tone for the day! And reading before bed is just a good idea. I can actually tell when I get tired, as opposed to staring at my laptop and having the light of the screen make me think I’m not tired at all. 😉
  2. Pray. Every morning when I wake up. It’s idealistic of me to say that I will wake up every morning and have time to read my devotional and Bible before work. I could make it happen, but more often than not, I simply do not make the time. It’s terrible yet true. However, I DO have time to wake up and pray every day. How often do you wake up and immediately start thinking of the 2343329 things you have to do that day? I have started waking up, turning off my alarm, and immediately starting to pray. It works for me and I like to turn my thoughts to God as I start the day.
  3. Disconnect. Not from people, but from social media. If you’ve ever texted me, you may realize that I am terrible at responding. I often read the message, respond in my head, and then totally forget to type a real response. This drives my Dad absolutely crazy as most of our communication takes place over text (we have totally opposite schedules). BUT, I have also noticed that I turn to social media every time I feel like I have down time. Realistically, I typically only check social media on my lunch break and at night when I’m not as busy, but still, I am clicking on every app every time I pick up my phone, and that’s too much. I love the connections that can be made via social media but it is so easy to get sucked into a comparison trap. I, for one, like my mindset much better when I’m only checking into social media once a day. Though I do find myself thinking, “Wow! Look what I missed!”, I also feel calmer about everything that’s happening in my real life when I tune out social media.
  4. Think. This could mean a lot of things, but I really want to continue thinking positively in the areas of fitness and nutrition. I love teaching fitness classes and I love running, but it is so easy to pressure yourself to workout as hard as someone else. The same goes for what you are eating. Again, social media can be as helpful as it is detrimental. It is not helpful (for me) to compare what I eat and how I work out to someone else. Comparing makes me feel bad about my choices, and I don’t make enough bad choices to spend all of my time feeling bad about myself. I am unintentionally moving towards the mindset of not really being affected by what workout I do or what I ate that day, and as scary as it is to me to “not care” in a way, I also love it. And I want more. So I want to focus on thinking more positively about the choices I make so that I gain more confidence in this area.
  5. Run. Running is my workout of choice. My body, on the other hand, doesn’t always agree with me. Ha! I have spent the first month of this year solely focusing on strength training with a few random runs thrown in there and I really hope to see some positive changes in my running due to this extra strength I am building! I want to sign up and run at least one new-to-me race this year. No time goals over here, just smart, injury-free training and racing.
  6. Involve. I want to build the relationships in my life, with both family and friends. When someone wants to make plans, I want to be available instead of being “too busy”. I want to throw myself into my job and be more involved at my school. I want to step up at church and be more involved in the nursery. I want to be in the moment more. As I mentioned, I am a planner and a do-er, and it is all too easy for me to just “sort of” involve myself in my current life and spend far too much time day dreaming of what’s to come. 😉

As far as what I’m looking forward to? Well, I honestly don’t have that many concrete plans in 2016 yet. The highlight will certainly be graduating with my Master’s degree in Reading Education, but other than that, I want to seek as many new adventures as possible.

Bring it on, 2016!

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. 🙂