Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Too Many Calendars!

Well I had my first baby breakdown...and yes, I have only had 1 class so far...and no, I don't even have any work due this week...so yes, I understand why this is a tad ridiculous and a terrible indication of what is to come. BUT, it was over calendars (sort of...among other things).

You see I am a creature of habit. While I may go back and forth between my apartment and my boyfriends, which creates a somewhat chaotic schedule, I always pack the same items and come on the same days and maintain the same general schedule at both "homes". So now that I have a new schedule (some days open during the day with class in the evening, some days working in the office for 10 hours, and some days a combination of both), I immediately felt anxious and stressed about not knowing my schedule for the week. Which days are best to stay at my boyfriends? Which workouts should I do based on scheduling and the closest gym? Which books and computer will I need? Luckily, after a week or two of classes/work and other activities, I should be able to loosely maintain a regular schedule.

Along the same lines as being a scheduled and habitual person...I was overwhelmed yesterday about which calendar to use for my assignments. Do I use a hard copy agenda book like in college? Do I use my iCal and list the homework assignments as "Reminders" or as events on the due date? Do I include my work tasks in my "Reminders". Again...I like habit and structure and having 85 calendars does not make this easy! Plus, I am weird and really like physically crossing things off of a to-do list. For now, I think I am going to go with iCal as reminders because that is backed up on my phone and the internet so I can access it anywhere.

You may be thinking that these are ridiculous things to have a breakdown over...and they are. But I think that I felt like I should be doing something, I FEEL like I SHOULD be overwhelmed, so I created chaos and stress where there really wasn't any. Healthy, right?? What I should have been doing was ENJOYING the lack of tasks because that will change soon!

And, in Erica fashion, I manifest my stress and perceived life chaos in my eating/exercising issues. So because I could not solve my scheduling and calendar woes yesterday, I decided to stress over feeling fat and if I had worked out enough that day. On the plus side (the only plus, really), I realize that I manifest my stress this way so I know that these aren't actual issues and am able to push them aside and acknowledge that they are just ways for me to avoid what is really bothering me and to control something when I feel somewhat out of control.

So my friends...that was my first emotional struggle. I am guessing this also had to do with hormones but I won't get into those details as I may have a few male readers out there who will be disturbed...and that may further the claims of women being totally irrational because of hormones. Luckily I have a good support network and was able to shed some cathartic tears and move on in life. Today I feel stronger and organized...and EXCITED for class!! But I wanted to share this story with you because I don't want to give off the impression that my life is perfect...this blog is about the good and the bad and all that is in between...but most importantly this blog is about learning from life and changing as I go.


Wednesday, August 31, 2011

And so it begins!!

Today is the first day of the semester at UMD, tomorrow is my first graduate class, tonight marks the end of my sanity…or not!

For the first semester I have decided to work part time and go to school full time (brief update- I am starting a PhD program at UMD). This decision has been frowned upon by a few but is also not completely uncommon..many people work and go to school full time (and some raise kids too!) because, let’s face it, life ain’t cheap! I am definitely scared but also very confident that I will survive (maybe exhausted, sleepless, and angry…but I will survive). So I have asked around for words of wisdom going into this crazy journey of becoming a doctor and here is what I have heard:

1. BALANCE- Maintain a work/life balance. Make sure to continue doing the things you enjoy and make time for them because they may be what keep you sane. For me, this includes my personal relationships and exercise. I really believe that my relationships will help me get through this stressful period (if I don’t go tooooooooo crazy haha). But in all honesty, the support I’ve been given gave me the courage to apply and accept and I have no doubt that that same support will make sure I don’t give up! And…yes, yes I know (everyone has told me...) it will be hard to maintain my current (mildly insane) workout routine with this work/school schedule and I AM (sort of) mentally prepared to cut back (a little...haha, noticing my hesitation?). But I also know how much these hobbies mean to me and how sane they keep me, and therefore will continue to make an effort to always make time for exercise (to the best of my mental and physical ability…).

2. PRIORITIZE- It was recommended to prioritize your work/school tasks. Then figure out which time of the day you work best and assign the most important tasks to that time. I work best in the morning hours and plan to schedule accordingly :)

3. SAY NO- I was told it was okay to say no (who knew!). So I hope to carry the confidence to say no to additional work/life/school tasks when I know I can’t handle it. I do not want anything to suffer because I have willingly taken on too much.

Now, one would hope that I am able to take my OWN advice, read through all these uplifting and motivational blogs I have written, and do what I tell others to do…but usually those that can’t do, teach ;) I will keep you all updated on my highs and lows throughout this experience and will hopefully be able to share words of wisdom (or “what not to dos”) for balancing life and taking on HUGE challenges. I have no doubt this will be the hardest thing I take on in my career, I am hopeful that it takes me out of my comfort zone and forces me to work on my weaknesses, and I..am…READY! Here’s to sleepless nights, brutal critiques, overload, exhaustion, knowledge, experience, networking, and GROWTH!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Just do it.

First of all (and most importantly)...GO OUTSIDE. My lordy it is GORGEOUS out today! Drop what you are doing...and go for a walk, open a window, take the dog out, do whatever you need to do to GET OUTSIDE. And then...just enjoy :)

On a random aside...I thought about turning my blog into a healthy living one like all these others with exercise and eating tips...then I reflected on what I had for dinner last night (spoonfulls of peanut butter) and decided it wasn't in anyones best interest to take food advice from me ;)

Now, back to our regularly scheduled program... JUST DO IT.

I love that our (my, if you are older) generation is rash, impulsive, and craves more! This causes us to change our "life decisions" constantly, move across the country (or world!) and DO what makes us HAPPY. Our parent's generation picked a career path when they were in college (or high school) and stuck with that for 20+ years and who knows if they ever really enjoyed it or just accepted that that was their life. We, on the other hand, feel that we have no limitations, no restraints, no guidelines, and are constantly testing the water in different careers and locations. I think this is wonderful! I believe it is a blessing that we are so free spirited and passionate and maybe a curse that we are always seeking more. But anyways...my advice for you is to JUST DO IT. Always be assessing your life...always be thinking about what would make YOU happy...and then figure out how you can feasibly achieve that. Don't quit your job and move to sunny California because you like the beach...but if your dream job is in California and you have a friend who lives out there that you can live with...DO IT. Life is too short to have regrets :)

PS- this blog is stemming from my brother venturing to Singapore for the fulbright scholarship in research, another friend venturing out for grad school, and another friend quitting her unhappy job to work at starbucks until she figures something out.

Do what makes you happy...because at the end of the day, you are the only one looking out for you.



Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Start Anew with the Sunrise

A reflection created while on my morning run watching the gorgeous pink and orange sunrise over the trees… (which inspired a kickass 8 mile run!)

Two of my favorite things in the world are sunrises and sunsets. Mainly because they are gorgeous and peaceful and natural and calming…but also because they represent the close of one day and the start of a fresh, new day. And recognizing that each day ends and a brand new day begins is something I am trying to do more often. You see, I tend to dwell (I am sure you are thinking “duh!”) on things that are really unimportant and trivial in the grand scheme of life but I am constantly paranoid that a stupid comment I made two days ago is still bothering someone in my life and they are still annoyed with me for it. Enter the sunset/sunrise concept…

I am working on letting go of the small things. In life, your relationships with others are built on numerous events, countless emotional connections, years of laughs and tears, good times, bad times, awkward times, and everything in between. Bottom line, me whining about something on a random Sunday night is not going to completely destroy a relationship built on numerous positive interactions! So why sweat the small stuff? The day when I was crabby and feisty has ended (with the sunset) and a fresh day will begin (with the sunrise) that will present me with the opportunity to start anew, with a happy and healthy outlook.

I hope that you can use this concept in your life as well. Maybe today is rough, maybe you woke up on the wrong side of the bed, maybe nothing seems to be going right, and maybe you are just too tired…but guess what! Tomorrow is a new day. The sun will set and close the book on today…and the sun will rise and open your book to a new page and maybe even a new chapter in your life tomorrow. How better to “fix” (what you see as) your wrong doings than to start a fresh day with a positive outlook and happy, healthy interactions? I promise you this will make a larger impact then saying “I am sorry” 500 times :)

Monday, August 15, 2011

You have to stop wearing your wishbone where your backbone ought to be...

That was my facebook status a year ago today. Facebook is now posting your statuses from last year on the side of the page and I think its a pretty cool feature! It is very interesting to see what were you thinking or doing on this day a year ago. What were you doing? Where were you in your life? Could you have guessed you'd be where you are today??

I like this quote, "you have to stop wearing your wishbone where your backbone ought to be", because it is so applicable to many parts of your life. You can't wish things will change for the better, you can't wish that someone in your life will eventually change or your job will get better or you will get noticed around the office or your friends will realize what is important to you, if you don't get a backbone (and/or some balls!) and say/do something about it. No one in this world is a mind reader (except these two weird twins I saw on Oprah or Ellen that claimed they could read people's minds and tell the future...creepsters) and, for the most part, people are going to look out for themselves and do what betters their lives unless you speak up and they see an importance in acting a different way.

And obviously I am not saying go out and cause a scene and protest everything to better yourself, but speak up...because I do not know too many people that reached happiness and success by wishing on stars :)

And my last thought for this morning (came to me while I was working out) is to learn from others and then make it your own! This morning my friend and I held our own spin classes and both had awesome workouts! We took what we've learned in all our of classes and from a variety of instructors with different styles and levels of intensity and we put that to our own music and tailored it to meet our goals for the day. I think that there is no point in reinventing the wheel when it comes to most things, BUT it is important to make something yours so that you enjoy and appreciate it. Everyone is unique and wants and needs different things...so adapt what is created to meet your needs and I am sure you will be satisfied :)


Sunday, August 14, 2011

Daily Inspiration

So I haven't blogged in quite a while but that's because I haven't had too much to say about sobriety or exercising (which seem to be my focuses)...SO I have decided to revamp the focus on my blog...sort of. Still focused on the concept of bettering oneself but not specific to drinking or exercising. Hopefully you enjoy :) I read a lot of healthy living (foodie, exercise) blogs on a somewhat regular basis and have been searching for a yogi, zen, crunchy, feel good, holistic, mantra focused blog to read each morning to get the day started on a positive note and I haven't found one (although I am SURE one exists)...so I've decided to do it myself...sort of. I won't be detailing the crunchy yoga poses I recommend or going crazy hippie on you...but I will give you (what I hope is) some insight on a healthy attitude and outlook on life for you to reflect on each day. I usually have a "runners high" euphoric moment during my morning workouts, so why not share that with my friends?!

I haven't worked out yet today so the insightful section of my brain has not been activated yet ;) but I'll start you off with this notion. Step out of your comfort zone...push yourself to do something you wouldn't normally do (e.g. talk to a random person, go to an event without knowing anyone, offer to present at work or for school...whatever it is that makes you get nervous and sweat). Doing something outside of your comfort zone helps you grow...helps you change...and expands your comfort level! And I am sure you will be happier, stronger, more successful, and maybe have more friends from it. The reason I say this is because I am going back to graduate school and am well aware that this experience will take me out of my comfort zone. I have taken graduate courses for my masters but tried to be quiet and sit in the back...I know this will not be an option for my doctoral classes and I don't want it to be. I want to push myself, make myself uncomfortable, feel my heart race while I contribute to the classes conversation...and in the end, make myself more outgoing and comfortable in a professional setting!! (And I bet this will translate into my social life!).

So this week...push yourself. Feel awkward...like you did in middle school...see how you turned out from that experience?

Enjoy the rest of your weekend and I hope you continue reading my blog!


Thursday, June 23, 2011

Time isn't the issue...it is the excuse.

24 hours in a day. 1/3 - 1/4 of that spent sleeping. That leaves you with 3/4 of the day (18 hours). You probably work 8-9 hours...commute 1 hour...leaving you with 9 hours. And then dinner and breakfast, maybe subtract 3 hours. So you are left with 6 hours. And how long does a workout take? 45 minutes? Plus a warm-up/cool down...1 hour. And maybe another hour added to get to the gym and back, or put on your gym clothes. That's 2 hours. And you want to tell me that you don't have time to exercise? I am sorry but I just don't believe that. Time isn't the problem, it is the excuse.

Yes, time is hard to come by with competing priorities in your life, but is it impossible? NO! Could you work your schedule out to fit it in? YES! So why don't you? Well...most people aren't going to fit something they dislike into their schedule if they don't have to! So what do you do? FIND SOMETHING YOU ENJOY! I cannot reiterate this enough! You must find an activity you love...something that makes you feel good afterward...something that you want to stick with...something you can do with others...something!

This is sort of a ramble, and I apologize...but I am currently distracted by Justin Bieber on the View, haha. But, in conclusion, time isn't the issue...it is the excuse. You can find time, you can MAKE time, but you need to want it. You need to believe its important. You need to see the benefits of it. You need to love it. And I PROMISE you can find something you love :)


Thursday, June 16, 2011


Anxiety. Do you suffer from it in some way?

I wonder if anxiety has become more prevalent because of social media and being competitive damn americans. Now your entire life (if you want it to be) can be posted for the world to see...so there is a constant strive to be the best, look your best, be doing the most interesting things, be hanging out with the coolest people, and to be succeeding in all the right ways. And what about when you meet someone for the first time...what do they ask you? What do you do and where do you live? Both status questions. And what do people ask you when you are in a relationship? Have you talked about getting married or moving in together? No wonder we are anxious...at any given moment someone is going to track your life, ask you a tough question, and then analyze your answers and make some conclusions/opinions about you.

But are all people as evil and competitive as I make them seem? Probably not. Your biggest critic will always be you. You will over analyze the job you have, you will dwell on your appearance, you will critique your relationship and compare it to everyone elses, and you will wonder if at the end of the day, you are the best you can be. And YOU will create all the unnecessary guilt and anxiety that comes along with negative conclustions to all of those assessments.

This week I have been trying to think less about my eating and just listen to my body and appreciate food, life, and everything else (this relates to the first part of this blog, I swear). And then one night I was home alone (when the usual overeating occurs) and I ate dinner, ate snack, ate dessert, and (obviously) felt like complete crap afterward. I immediately started thinking about the next day...how could I make this up...well I will eat nothing but egg whites and fruit, I will go to the gym twice...oh screw it, it doesn't matter, I already messed it up...no, I will make it up tomorrow, just keep eating now. This is the internal dialogue. Followed by...crap, I am going to the beach this weekend, what will I look like in a bathing suit, I've gained weight since the last time I wore a bathing suit, maybe I shouldn't eat much for the rest of the week, I heard sweet potatoes suck in your excess water, what if I can't run every day at the beach. And this was more internal dialogue. And then I made it stop. I grabbed a pen...wrote down these thoughts...wrote down more rational thoughts...and finished with the actual reality of the situation. I am my biggest critic. I allow the anxiety to complete consume me and determine my lifes actions. And when it comes down to it, no one will really care how I look in a bathing suit, it won't matter this weekend if I ate crap this week, and I am healthy.

Not 100% sure where I am going with this post...except to vent about anxiety and hope that maybe my struggles resonate with others. It's hard. It seems stupid to say but it is hard to be a 20 something girl in a city full of other 20 somethings who are just as smart and beautiful...and it is hard to keep a strong hold on your confidence and remember your unique talents and the aspects of you that make you who you are. And I bet it only gets harder...next we will be mothers, in cities full of other mothers who are healthy, successful, great mothers, "superwomen", and maintaining their 20 something body. So I would imagine that now is probably a good time to start working on the issue of comparing myself...and starting to be my biggest fan instead of my biggest critic. Yup, that is it. Time to be my biggest fan.

You should be yours too.


Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Reflection. Why look anywhere else?

Through my career in public health I have heard the same phrase as a solution for any programmatic questions..."It Depends." Why? Because preventing health issues is unique to each individual, each community, each problem...the same overall theories can apply and the same golden rules will stand, but each program has to be tailored to its audience.

So.. (as per usual), I reflected on how this realization applied to my personal life...and it does...

I have recently been reading a lot of "self help" books and stories about other people who sought out happiness. And while I gained motivation and courage through them and realized that I am not alone in some of my issues, I now realize that "it depends"...on me. I cannot read someone elses books and expect that what worked for them will work for me. So where should I look? MY BLOG! And so...

Recently I have been stressed with my on going issue with my body and my obsession with what I eat and how much I exercise. And really more angry and fed up than anything...exhausted (I am pretty sure I have discussed this in past blogs). So I began thinking...when I quit drinking I decided that a good reason to stop was because alcohol was not bringing anything positive to my life...and those situations involving alcohol that were positive would have existed with or without the drug. SO..I quit. I quit because there was no reason to continue doing something that was not bringing positive things to my life. So why should I continue thinking the way that I do about my body and about eating? What positive is coming from it? When I dwell and obsess I very rarely change that much in my weight or appearance...and even if I do, so what? What have I benefited from losing weight? Absolutely nothing. If anything, when I am too small, I receive negative feedback and am tired. If I continue to dwell on calories and feel a constant feeling of guilt when I eat something "bad", what good will from this? Nothing.

So why continue? I know that it isn't an easy switch to flip and it takes time to change an entire thought process and because I suffer from anxiety, it is even harder. But an important realization that I made was that NOTHING will change if I stop obsessing. Nothing important in my life will change. My relationships will continue (and probably be stronger because I won't sneak around and eat, and I won't get cranky when I've eaten too much), my career and performance will not change, my boyfriend will not leave me (and trust me, I went so far as to ask!), my perceived image as a fitness enthusiast and expert will still exist, and because I know I am a healthy person I know I will not completely 180 and end up morbidly obsese. Now I know that all of those things are very obvious to most people, but for me...that reality needed to be stated out loud...I needed to understand and realize that ZERO good was coming from what I was doing. I believe that there was a point when watching the scale decrease and being too small for my clothes made me feel better about myself and accomplished...but that doesn't exist any more. I still weigh myself and feel slightly crappy if I've gained weight but the scale has pretty much stayed at the same weight for 6 months...so who cares!

So anyways...the point of this rambling was that YOU are your best resource and your best example. Start a journal. Write down your thoughts and most importantly, write down when you feel the best about yourself so that when times get hard you can go back and read what you wrote. Reflect on how you've handled situations in the past and see if they can apply to new issues that you face. You are unique and while Eat Pray Love is a great book, moving to Bali may not solve your problems.

I really hope that this new outlook is a new chapter in my life. Its never too late, right? ;) I hope this mainly because I am exhausted from the guilt and stress of my problem...but also because I am about to enter one of the toughest moments in my life so far (doctoral program), and I refuse to let this weigh me down and distract me when I need to be focusing.

I hope that my insights help you and I hope that you reflect. Look at that man/woman in the mirror :)


Friday, June 3, 2011

Just Be.

I have been at my job now for 11 months…and every day I walk past the UPS drop box..every single day I walk the same way into the building and pass this box…when do you think I noticed it? Yesterday! And only because I needed to use it. I actually searched online for UPS drop boxes and was slightly embarrassed when the location of my work popped up! Now why haven’t I noticed it, you might ask? Because I am always preoccupied! When I walk into work I am either emailing, texting, checking Facebook, or checking Words with Friends. I am never just walking into work and just taking in the moment and my surroundings…

SO! Here is my challenge for you this weekend…LIVE IN THE MOMENT….take in your surroundings, be mindful of the people around you and the places you go. Put down the phone. Turn off the TV. Go for a walk and just look and think and breathe and BE. I bet you will notice things you never saw before and maybe appreciate things you didn’t notice :)

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

May...Changing Seasons and Changing Lives

May is full of changing seasons, varying weather, the bloom of flowers, and longer days full of sun. I don't think it isn't by coincidence that May is also full of graduations, weddings, and birthdays. During this time many people are growing, changing, taking leaps forward in their lives, and reflecting on the past.

What did you reflect on this month? How have you grown? In what ways have you bloomed?

Without getting into too much depth of the personal lives of my friends and family...in May I celebrated a birthday with my fabulous roommate who is growing and changing every day as she continues to better herself and figure out the craziness of the 20 somethings, I attended the wedding of new friends who are the perfect example of true love, and I watched as my brother graduated from Johns Hopkins University and looks to plan his trip in Singapore in the fall as a Fulbright Scholar. All of these events and changes mark significant moments in their lives and demonstrate the positive aspects of growing, changing, reflecting, and making life altering decisions.

Check out pictures from all of these events here.

May also marks the year and a half anniversary of my sobriety :) This month challenged me with moments of doubt in being sober, but ultimately proved that I am still strong and still stand by my choice. During this month I have also reflected a lot on my eating issues and realized a new struggle that I have. I realized I have a very hard time complimenting myself...even via email or text (not face-to-face with someone else). I am sure that this is an issue for many individuals who do not want to come off as cocky or who have been beat down in the past and made to believe less of themselves. And I am sure that through years of saying publicly that I am not pretty and stating all of my faults (as to not seem cocky) has internalized itself. But the moment that I finally typed the words "I am skinny, I am healthy, I am beautiful, and I do like my body for the most part", something changed. When I said those words and no one seemed to think I was ridiculous for thinking such a thing, or cocky to say it out loud, I realized that it is okay to love yourself...and it is okay to publicly love yourself. And I'd guess that by finally saying those things publicly, others will believe it to. Confidence is beautiful (being arrogant is not...)..and I think that this is a good step towards being the confident woman that I know I can be.

So, May, you have come and gone and left with us growth, change, reflection, and longer days of life...thank you :)

Monday, May 23, 2011

Running isn't just for exercise!

In the past month I have done a decent amount of traveling for work (to good ole’ Oklahoma City and Chi Town!!) and my FAVORITE way to sight see is to RUN. Each morning I was in Chicago I woke up at 5am and ran downtown (through the Theater District) to the famous Chicago Bean in the Millennium Park and finally along the water’s edge of the Lake Michigan. If you know me, you know that water and sunrises/sunsets are my absolute favorite things in the world…so needless to say that running along the water at sunset was my idea of heaven. And I am a firm supporter of running as a means to see the town you are visiting. You are able to quickly scan the streets and (make sure to bring your camera!) take wonderful pictures of all the beautiful sights along the way. I think that running is also the greatest way to navigate an area, like some place that you’ve just moved to. And you don’t have to be a runner…walking or biking give the same wonderful benefits and touristy perks :)

Running (walking or jogging) is also a great way to have fun, make friends, and obviously be active. This past weekend my boyfriend and I participated in the Warrior Dash obstacle race in Maryland. It was AH-MAZING! And coming from a background of road races all across this area, my biggest surprise was the span of participants. There were young kids, older adults, obvious competitive runners, obvious couch potatoes, and everyone in between. And every single person had a huge smile on their face. This race provided a healthy (minus the beer and turkey legs sold post-race!) and, most importantly, FUN way to get outside and get active with others. I think that because there was such a wide range of individuals participating with all different skill levels in trail running/athletics, many people felt very comfortable getting out there and giving it their best and having FUN with it. My hope is that those individuals, that may have normally been scared of signing up for a race in fear of failure or embarrassment, will be inspired by this experience to continue being active and continue participating in local races. We also noticed that a lot of the participants were in teams and looked as though this wasn’t their first time racing in the Warrior Dash…these people were dressed up from head to toe in some crazy costumes and were VERY team motivated. This, too, was a great thing to see (as a public health professional and fitness enthusiast) because it’s a perfect example of using activity as a means of being SOCIAL and having FUN and building relationships and confidence!! Well done, Warrior Dash, well done!

Now what can you do? Grab a friend or a pet. Go outside (no excuses, cause its GORGEOUS out!). Run, walk, bike, jog, skip, dance, do whatever! And make it fun.

On a side note (and tying back into my “sober blog” theme), we noticed that many races really pride themselves in offering free beer after the race. Most of the races I participate in provide “free beer” tickets for everyone…and the Warrior Dash sold huge (probably 32 oz) mugs of beer and I feel like a lot of people were there to support their friends and get drunk. From a sober/health standpoint I do think this is sort of unfortunate…that we need to promote free drinks to get people to do things…but from a realistic standpoint, I understand the appeal. And unfortunately, the more that races promote free beer, the more other races will start doing it to be competitive and appealing. Like I said…I get it, but I wish it wasn’t the way. The idea behind a “healthy lifestyle” is that one healthy action leads to another…eating a good breakfast will inspire you to eat a healthy lunch, starting the day with a strong workout will motivate you to skip the donut in the morning meeting, and so on. Not to mention that after a race you are dehydrated and are probably going to get drunker faster (not a good idea). But I digress… at least people are getting out there! Baby steps!!

And I will end with a wonderful inspirational quote that I read: “It’s not how my body looks, it’s what it can achieve!” :) LOVE IT!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Be You.

A simple concept, right? I think not. I just finished reading "The Happiness Project" by Gretchen Rubin (a book I highly recommend!!) and throughout her journey to find happiness within her current life, she kept reinforcing the concept of "being you". I have found that all too often (especially in a city like DC) we compare ourselves to this idea we have of what we should be. In DC...I should be interested in politics, I should watch and enjoy the Colbert show, I should read a variety of online news sources each day, I should enjoy all of the young professional happy hours, I should enjoy museums...but the fact is, I don't. And I have really tried to like all of these things and I have found, time and time again, that I really don't...and you know what? That is okay.

I really blame social media (sort of) because without social media you would probably surround yourself with people that have generally the same interests as you...but being on facebook and being friends with an abundance of random people allows you to see what the majority does for fun. Also- the most recent trend has been food blogging, and I have started to think that I really should like cooking both for healthy diet reasons and to be a good mother someday...but guess what? I don't. And that is okay.

I think that sometimes in the endless effort to be who we "think" we should be, we waste all of our energy trying (and not enjoying it) and leave little energy for the things we do enjoy...the things that make us the unique people we are...the things that the people closest to us love us for. In this past year I have tried very hard to focus on me and to do what makes me happy...once I quit drinking I realized that a lot of my actions were to please others and to be who I thought people liked/wanted me to be. And when I stopped trying to fit this mold that I thought I belonged in, I was really able to just enjoy what I love and focus on finding and growing those interests. I can't reinforce enough how important it is to be you. At the end of the day it is only you and the people that will be there for life know (and love) the real you. At the end of the day you are the only one who knows how happy or sad you really are and how much you enjoyed your days activities. In her book Gretchen Rubin states, the days are long but the years are short. Live by that. The days are long so fill them with enjoyable activities, but the years are short...do not waste them. Who is to say what we should and shouldn't like?

Stop comparing yourself to others and start comparing yourself to who you were yesterday. And most importantly embrace your change. In addition to comparing myself to a DC mold that I think I should fulfill, I also compare myself to who I was and wish I was that person again. I wish I still knew the music scene as well as I did, and I wish I could still dance the way that I could. But guess what, I don't and I can't and that is okay. Those were great stages in my life...stages that molded me and helped me become who I am today and probably helped hone the skills that I have now. Again...don't compare, live in the moment. Appreciate what you have and who you are now...your interests will change, your friends will change, society will change! So do what makes YOU happy!


Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Finding a sense of no time, no space

I truly do love attending the Native conferences for work. While they can be so upsetting and depressing because of the awful health issues that face our population, they are also so holistic and inspiring. Anyways...here is what I learned today...

A wise speaker discussed the importance of native healing...healing through laughter, story telling, rituals and trance. All of these things resonanted with me...but the one that stuck out the most was the importance of being in the moment. It has become a way of life in Western society to become overwhelmed, to multi-task, and to be thinking of your next move while you are still making your first. Yes, this leads to an abundance of productivity and success...but it also leads to a lack of deep relationships and strong mental well-being. One of the things I want to work on most for myself (at this time) is being in the moment and appreciating what I have now. I am constantly thinking of my next move and assessing the future and I really take the present for granted.

Another notion that really struck me was to focus on finding the strengths in others instead of viewing those strengths as a threat. I think that as a woman, a professional, and, well, just human, we are always comparing ourselves to others and mainly focusing on another's weaknesses or wishing we had their strengths. But where does that get you? Instead you should focus on the strengths of others and see how their strengths can benefit you...maybe in your job you can collaborate, maybe in your life they can be a resource that you need or a friend you wish you had, maybe they can bring out something in you that you didn't know existed. This positive mentally can only lead to good things :)

And lastly...he talked about secrets. Natives are very secretive in the issues that plague their society, BUT they are very talkative in other aspects and utilize story telling all of them. I love this. I am a huge talker and love to tell my story, and love even more to listen to others. I try to be a very active listener and I wish the same from my friends. I think that opening up to others and sharing your story (negative or positive) is so healthy. Not just communicating...but truly sharing and listening.

So take time to find a moment of no time, no space. Be with yourself...think about your wants and needs and reflect. Appreciate the present and take the time to appreciate it. Take the time to listen. Ignore what you have to do tomorrow and share a story with a friend. You've worked this hard to be who you are, enjoy it.

PS- The background picture of this blog is my heaven. (I took it from blogspot by the way!) Someday I will live on the water and I will wake up and run along the shore and do yoga while the peaceful waves crash around me. Ahhhhh...

Friday, April 29, 2011

Changing your Rep. It's possible!

For the longest time I've had different views/feelings of my reputation. I would say that from the end of high school, through college, and beyond my reputation was that of a hardcore drinker's. I think that a lot of people knew me as the little girl that partied hard and usually blacked out...and was always down for drinking. When I made drinking related mistakes in college and was upset about my drinking habits, I figured the only way I could escape them was to move. I actually thought about transferring schools just to escape my reputation...however, my friends made me realize that unfortunately my rep would follow me if my behavior didn't change. Then, on other days when I was proud to be a skilled boozer and people were speaking positively of my ability to drink and party, I was happy with my reputation and embraced it. I accepted who I was and figured I would never change so I might as well enjoy it.

Well both of those thoughts were wrong.

I did change! I completely changed actually...accept that I am still the same person. I am still funny, weird, and social...just not drunk.

AND I did change my reputation! In the past week I have been informed of new reputations that I realized I've created for myself. The first one was from a faculty member at UMD who reached out to me for a position on her research team. She said she read my application and was impressed and wanted to work with me! BAM...reputation created! And her and I spoke about reputations and about how to create them when you are young and just beginning your career...and my hope is to be known in the public health community as an expert on American Indian health (at some point in my life!). Then today, a colleague came up and said that he heard I was quite the runner/racer. BAM...another reputation created! So yes these reputations are created in new environments, but I think that even if these individuals knew my past it wouldn't change the reputation that I've created for myself.

My point is...and always will be...that change is possible. You are never done growing and learning and shaping who you are and more importantly, who you want to be. And embracing a negative aspect of your life doesn't have to be the case. Embracing things that you cannot change is healthy and will lead to happiness...but changing things you don't want to embrace is smart. Don't settle.


Tuesday, April 26, 2011

It was never supposed to be easy! :)

I was told when I quit drinking not to publicize that decision because if I slipped up then my “failure” would be public...but I did it anyways. I think for two reasons...one being that I was very serious about the decision and the second being that making that declaration in the eyes of everyone else would hold me more accountable to my actions. The second point is a pretty common behavior change concept and they have found that by writing down your goals and telling these goals to other people in your life, you will be more likely to adhere to them. With all that being said…I have a few more goals to put out there!

I think that life is always going to be a work in progress and making goals is important to growth, maturity, and success. If you are planning to make goals, here are some KEY pointers:
- Make them attainable!! You can’t set yourself up for failure from the start
- Make them measurable!! How will you know if you’ve achieved them if they are lofty?
- Make them realistic!! You can’t lose 20 lbs in one week…

I am currently reading the book “The Happiness Project”, in which the author makes monthly goals to increase her overall happiness. (I highly recommend it for an uplifting and informative read). This book has definitely brought to light some (obvious) changes that I would like to strive for in my life as well…like not to gossip, to make new friends, to smile more…and the list goes on and on. But I also have some more specific goals that I would like to achieve by the end of the summer…

1. Prioritize, stay calm, and stay driven. I am going back to school in the fall and will potentially be taking a full load of coursework, working part time in my current position, and working part time on a research project. It will be IMMENSELY important that I am able to prioritize what work needs to get done when, stay focused on the task at hand when I am receiving emails/tasks from my other roles, and stay calm. When most people become overwhelmed, the easiest thing to do is to stop everything…to give up all together. It is important that this summer I work at multitasking and staying calm under pressure.

2. Managing my negative self talk. As always this is a constant battle, but one that I truly wish to nip in the bud. There are good days and there are bad days, as with most people, in terms of how I view myself. Over the summer I hope to continue monitoring the negative self talk and more importantly SQUASHING it! Reversing it! And loving myself everyday…because there is no reason not to.

What are your goals? If you need help coming up with realistic and attainable goals, please let me know :)

Friday, April 22, 2011

Food Addiction...real or fiction?

I have been reading recent articles related to Food Addiction studies out of the Yale Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity and am incredibly intrigued by this concept of "food addiction". I have always heard that people have addictive tendencies and those that are addicted to certain things (alcohol, gambling, etc) are more likely to be addicted to other things. So is that far fetched to say that my alcohol addiction has triggered a food addiction in its absense? I think not. One of the articles talks about brain functioning and stimulus for individuals with a food addiction when food is presented. This resonates with me because recently I have been tracking my thoughts and feelings with food to try and get a handle on my eating or emotional eating. And after reading this article I can see strong similarities between my food related thoughts/feelings and those of an addict. For instance, my inhibitions are completely decreased when presented with (what I consider) "unhealthy" or "off limit" foods (e.g. peanut butter!!). When I begin eating peanut butter, ice cream, cookies, snacks, etc...I stop caring about the potential consequences and I am in a CONSTANT mind body battle throughout the entire activity...until I put down the fork and walk away. And then I am left with feelings of guilt and anger. I treat eating these foods as "wrong" and will sometimes do them in private (like an addict), I get an extreme sense of satisfaction when I am eating them (like an addict), I try to stop but I can't (like an addict), I make excuses and promise not to eat it after this one meal (like an addict), and I allow these thoughts on food control my life and mood (like an addict).



I guess all I can hope now is that Yale Rudd center continues to do studies on Food Addiction and I can follow their work and hopefully better my outlook. I will say that keeping a food journal and noting my feelings and thoughts during my meals/snacks has helped in terms of realizing my triggers and trying to replace the negative feelings/thoughts. BUT it is a work in progress...

THANK YOU Yale Rudd Center for exploring this concept!! What are your thoughts on food addiction? Or addiction in general? I wonder where the addictive tendencies stem from. The study goes on to say that they do not believe addiction is something you are born with but develops...so when did this develop?? Oh life! :)


...a couple days after posting this blog post, I was thinking about being a "food addict"...and how to cure such an addiction. How would you? Usually for addiction you either quit the "drug" cold turkey or slowly reduce the intake, but you can't do that with food. You can't cut food out of your life nor can you (so I believe) cut out the negative foods you are "addicted" to. I think with most eating disorders, that restriction will just lead to more issues...what to do...what to do...

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Looking Good Makes You Feel Good...or is it the other way around??

I have always heard that looking good will make you feel good...and I am sure that this statement holds some truth. I do believe that when you dress us nicely at work you are more likely to do more work (as opposed to working on your couch in sweats...which I love so much). I do think that walking into a party in an outfit that you love with a new hair style will increase your confidence for the night. But...can feeling good make you look good??

I think YES! In the past week I have felt amazing (sorry...being humble has left this blog)...I had a great race on Sunday and felt super strong...I've been eating well...sleeping well...socializing...and over all being happy. And this morning when I looked in the mirror, after a solid boxing workout, I felt beautiful. I think that being happy in your life can make you perceive yourself as being more attractive...or maybe being happy and making good decisions leaves you with a sense of confidence and accomplishment and that sense of confidence is what you see. But one thing is for sure...either way you look at it...your appearance (wheather it be judged by you or by others) is very affected by your happiness. Being upset with yourself can lead you to be apathetic about what you wear, how well you eat, and whether you exercise...which causes a downward spiral into continuing these negative (based on your goals) actions...which makes you more upset...which makes you less likely to be productive...which will make you view yourself in a negative light, but can also cause you to be less attractive because you are noticably "down"...(to a degree). BUT on the reverse!...I smile, a happy and productive attitude leads to accomplishing more goals...leading to MORE positive feelings and a positive view of yourself, which (no doubt) radiates and is recognized by others.

So whats the bottom line? Focus on being happy and the rest will fall into place :)


Tuesday, April 12, 2011

1 year, 4 months, numerous dinner parties, countless social workouts later...and where am I?

...I am happy!

Hello Friends!

Well tomorrow will mark 1 year and 4 months of sobriety. Woohoo! So where am I now, you ask? Well I am sure you can tell by my recent blogs that over the course of this journey I have had ups and downs but am VERY happy at the moment. While I still think about drinking, debate on drinking, and assess drinking...it isn't nearly as awkward or anxiety enducing as it was before. I have become comfortable and confident in my own skin, and that, my friends, was the goal!

I have noticed a sort of weird thing that has happened to me more than once now...drunken nightmares. Basically I have had nightmares where I am drunk and doing awful things (and by awful I mean things that I used to do on a regular basis)...including ruining furniture, blacking out, hurting my friends feelings, ruining relationships, and just causing a mess in general. I wake up from these nightmares quite anxious and even more deadset on my decision to stay sober. I believe that this is a sign...it is a sign that I am not yet ready to embrace alcohol in my life (and who knows if I ever will). That even on a subconscious level, I still perceive alcohol as (to me) being very negative and ONLY bringing negative things into my life. I am sure there is some dream therapist that I can consult for a more valid explanation of these dreams but I do believe that the underlying meaning is my deep seeded anxiety towards drinking...my sense of insecurity in drinking...and my fear of losing control if I bring alcohol back into my life. Interesting, eh?

Also- over a year ago (February 2010) I wrote a blog about meeting up with friends and how I was concerned that I would lose my social network since I quit drinking. Well, guess what?? I have had NO problems keeping a social network and believe that I have actually created a stronger one!! It is amazing how many people I have found that are interested in exercising and want to bring a social aspect to it! I have planned and engaged in multiple runs, workouts, and walks with friends AND have races and more workouts coming up in the near future! During these workouts the conversation is fun, light, refreshing and real. I am SO happy that I've discovered this other avenue of being social! Also, I have hosted (with my awesome roommate) a number of dinner parties and housewarming parties that don't center on drinking at all...and are FUN! I think that is all part of growing up...but it is very refreshing to have a great dinner party with good friends and have great conversation and laughs and wake up the next morning happy :)

Anyways...480 and some odd days later and life is GOOD :). And I can honestly say that there is absolutely no way I would be where I am today had I continued on the path I was on...I would not be in the healthy, loving and amazing relationship that I am in, I would not be living in Rockville with a great friend, and I would (probably) not be going to UMD in the fall to begin my PhD program. *I am smiling right now*


PS- On Sunday I ran one of the greatest races of my life! It was a 10 miler that I was terrified about because it was my first race post injury. But I was strong and fast and felt GREAT the whole time. I honestly had a huge runners high the entire time. I can only imagine that this happiness is linked to my overall happiness :)

Friday, April 8, 2011

The Upside to Counting!

Counting calories (in my experiences) can be viewed as a way to restrict eating, control dieting, and enable an eating disorder...BUT there are some positives! Since I have been gaining weight (per the request of a doctor last summer), I started to just eat anything and everything. This isn't my normal attitude towards eating and has since left me quiet anxious about it all. I feel as though I have been eating to satisfy the needs of others and not for myself. SO, I decided to just get a better grasp on my diet. This is no way means that I am watching my calories to make sure I am sticking to a low number...but instead I just want to see how many servings of cereal I am really eating. I think that ready labels is great and posting calories at restaurants is super...but if you aren't keeping a general running tab, do you really know how much you've eaten? For example...if you compare a couple snacks and decide to go with the least caloric one, and you go with the best bet at Panera for lunch, and then pick a skinny latte from Starbucks...YES, you have made the best possible decisions in those scenarios BUT are you still consuming more then you expend? Probably..

So here is my suggestion. Don't go crazy and don't become OCD about it. But, simply take 2 weeks and track the calories of your normal dietary intake (your normal breakfast, your usual snacks, your casual coffee breaks, and your occasional dessert). And just see how much you are really eating. I think the biggest reality check will be the actual measurements...what does a cup really look like? And is that 200 calorie fiber one bar really worth it? I also think it helps for mindless eating. If you are aware of what you have eaten and what you are going to eat, maybe munching at your desk all day will become less appealing.

Just "food" for thought (har har har). And yes this is coming from someone who has struggled with eating issues for a while...but it is also coming from someone who tends to give better advice then she takes for herself ;)

Be healthy, live healthy, smile and have a wonderful weekend :)

Oh and get out there and exercise!!


Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Where is alcohol not?

Whole Foods is putting bars in their stores. Can really nothing be done sober anymore? Granted no one is forcing you to buy alcohol if you go into Whole Foods, but why are they even offering it? Yes yes, I understand that the majority of people are thrilled by this idea…but I am not (and it is okay to disagree). For more widespread reasons, I dislike this idea because Whole Foods is most certainly going to take advantage of shoppers after they’ve had a couple of drinks…you shouldn’t go shopping when you are hungry and you DEFINITELY shouldn’t go shopping if you are buzzed/drunk. Whole Foods is expensive enough when you go WITH a list, but I can only imagine the financial damage you’d do just stumbling down the aisles. Second…I dislike this idea because if people are actually going to shopping while they are there and don’t want their food to go bad/get warm…then they are going to drink their drink and immediately hop in their car…unless of course they are going down everyone aisle and spending hundreds of dollars, in which case hopefully their buzz would wear off by time they got to the checkout line. But I think the reason why this bothers me most is why? Whole Foods is a “healthy” store…you go there to get organic healthy items and try to live a healthy lifestyle…why does alcohol need to be served to enhance your experience. And I think why this really bothered me was because I was listening to this announcement on Elliot in the Morning (DC101), who is a gigantic douche bag anyways…but…he was saying how being drunk would make shopping so much more tolerable and yada yada…and personally (as I struggle with rationalizing my decision to stop drinking when it is the societal norm) I think it’s sad that we live in a society that has to medicate any mildly boring/mundane/stressful task. I completely understand that people drink in the evening after work, on the weekends to relax, at dinners/happy hours, at parties and celebrations, and whatever else…but why do we need to drink at grocery stores and hair salons and basically throughout the day?

I am sure most of my wonderful foodie friends are excited about a bar in Whole Foods and please don’t take my rant personally, because I understand and I am sure my mindset would be different if I drank! But, for someone who doesn’t drink…another arena where drinking is prevalent really isn’t what I need.


Monday, March 21, 2011

Affirmation...should come from within.

Over the course of my recent revelations and past sessions with my therapist, I realized my need for affirmation was driven by my anxiety and low (but growing!) self esteem. This constant need for affirmation caused me to doubt many relationships in my life and question whether people were happy with me or appreciated me in their life. Without a doubt, this constant need for affirmation is draining on my relationships which is why I am continuing to work on finding my affirmation within. For most people it is obvious when someone values you in their life and you can tell through their actions whether they are mad or happy with you…and I am continuing to work on being aware of that and not questioning the obvious. Over the year it has become clear to me that all of these “issues” are obviously interrelated and by slowly working on each of them, they will all resolve themselves. The need for affirmation is derived by my low self esteem which manifests itself in anxious habits and concerns about my image (both socially and physically). They always say that knowledge is the first step, right? Well I have been aware for some time now…and I believe that the first step was knowledge, the second step was surrounding myself with positive people and positive reinforcement, and the last step will be positive reinforcement from myself and a positive outlook on my life and who I am. And I think that the last two steps go hand in hand in regards to me working on my need for affirmation…because if I know that I am surrounded by people the genuinely love me and appreciate me, and I am confident in myself and my actions…then naturally I can be confident that those people in my life do, in fact, truly love me and want me in their lives. See how that works? Now if I can just repeat that to myself over and over!

The reason all of these rambling came up was because I was thinking about my love for school and my apathy towards working in an office, and I realized that my love for school also steps from my need for affirmation. In the office you receive feedback that is somewhat ambiguous (if you are doing an average or good job at your tasks) and you complete your job for a purpose that is eventually achieved by not really “judged”. However, in school you receive letter grades for your work. You know whether you did a great job (A) or were terrible (F). And I think that is why I really like school. There is no grey area on my performance and I am able to get exact feedback on what I did incorrectly and how the professors view me as a student. Now this isn’t the only reason I love school…I also love learning, the academic environment, and research. And I am incredibly excited/terrified to start my PhD program in the fall. I am hopeful that this academic environment (scholars, experts, dissertation critiques) will really push my confidence to a new level because without a backbone I will probably fail…and failing is not an option!

I hope that this blog may help others to shed some light on their insecurities and where they are derived from. I think it is important (and interesting) to really think about how your emotions, weaknesses, and strengths play into different aspects of your life and mold you into the person you are (good or bad). And as I always say…there is always room for growth and change and it’s never too late to reflect and assess.

XOXO and Happy Spring!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

A Path Down the Road Less Traveled..

Happy St. Patrick's Day! The holiday sort of changes form when you don't drink..as I am sure you can all understand. The idea of going to kegs and eggs with 21 year olds just isn't AS appealing as it was back in my youth. But still a fun holiday nonetheless. So as I was thinking about St. Patrick's Day and how basically everyone is partaking in some sort of green delicious beer today, I wonder how it would be for me to go out. Then I started thinking about what I missed from celebratory drinking events...mainly...the dancing. To quote Dane Cook, "I just wanna dance". I always enjoyed going to clubs in college and dancing for hours to hip hop and club music, but I feel like that experience would be completely different sober. Most importantly there is "loss of inhibitions" aspect that I would be missing from alcohol so I would probably be super embarrassed and worried that I was dancing weird (whereas if I was drunk, who cares!). So then I wondered if maybe having a dance party at my apartment would be weird...and I decided...yes, yes it would. So who knows what to do now. Maybe I just need to accept that my clubbing days are long past. Or maybe one of these days I'll test my confidence and try dancing at the club sober...I am going to guess that doing it sober will make me realize that it isn't as fun as I remember.

Now back to St. Patty's Day...today I had to go to College Park to meet with the faculty of the PhD program to start planning for the fall. Being on that campus brought back quite a lot of memories...and being on that campus on St. Patty's Day brought back even more. It was very weird to go back so many years later...now wiser...now sober...now pursuing a PhD...and now quite older. It is interesting that UMD will be apart of so many "stages" of my life. I will have partied my hardest there AND earned (fingers crossed) my most important degree...I will have made mistakes than I can count AND hopefully made the best decision of my life (thus far)...I will have met new drinking buddies there AND met experts in the field of Public Health. But I guess that is what college is. It is a world in itself and a place for you to figure out who you are and what your purpose is. It is a place to test the waters, make mistakes, take leaps of faith, try new things, fail, learn, grow, and at the end of the day...hopefully be a better person from the experience. (I sound like an advertisement for college..ha).

Anyways...I know this blog was all over the place but so is my life right now...and today with yet another drinking focused holiday and being on UMD's campus but for a whole different reason, I felt the need for some reflection. It's been a long and bumpy road, but I think I have made it :)

Cheers. Now go drink some green beer for me...maybe I'll make myself a green smoothie :)

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Healthy living starts today!

I have been having a lot of conversations with my fabulous roommate, Lauren, about healthy living, making excuses, and the hardships of time management and I have some tips. Hopefully they will be helpful for those of you beginning or working on a healthy living regimen.

First and foremost, make this lifestyle a priority. Yes, sleep is valuable. Yes, sleep plays a large part in being healthy, maintaining strong mental health, and losing weight. But, if the only time you can fit in a workout is 6am, then wake up at 5:30 and get it out of the way! Because exercise is a priority to me I plan each of my days and make sure that exercise is included in my schedule. I aim to exercise in the morning that way I can still do fun things after work and can make spur of the moment plans without having to miss out on anything.

Secondly, and my biggest struggle, portion control. There are a billion and one competing dietary facts out there. Whole grain vs. white bread, organic vs. non-organic, low fat vs. low calorie, meat vs. vegetarian, and so on and so on. And through all of my tests and trials and personal research, I think that the best guideline is portion control. If you limit any food in particular (that you love) then you will end up binging on it later (e.g. peanut butter for me!! Cookies, ice cream, etc). But as long as you have a bit of each food group in your diet and expend more calories than you consume, you will be happy, healthy, and probably losing weight. (I do however thing whole grains are better than white enriched, unbleached flour…BUT if your options are limited, just use good portion control techniques).

Lastly, don’t beat yourself up over things. Just because you went off your diet for dinner doesn’t mean your entire day of exercise and healthy eating should go to crap and you should either be upset or pig out on dessert. If you do feel like you went off your diet too much then just add some extra cardio to your workout the next day. But I believe that when you start to get angry with yourself then you fall off your healthy living path and give up. Every day is a new day and a new opportunity to be healthy.

My golden rules:
- Find an activity that you ENJOY!!! Running and zumba aren’t for everyone!
- Drink lots of water
- Be stronger than your excuses
- Know what you are eating and have the power to say no.
- Make it a priority
- DON’T wait until “Monday” or “tomorrow”…your health starts today!

Hope this helps :)

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

A summer job? Of course! Well, for us...

Over the course of my interesting life I have held at least 15 part time jobs. These jobs have ranged from waitressing to bouncing to promoting cologne. And outside of the jobs I actually held, I can say with confidence that I am sure I applied to well over 50 part time jobs and probably was accepted and turned down 15. Every summer from the age that I could legally work (14 or 15, right?) to the end of college, I, without a doubt, had a part time job. A couple months before the summe break began my friends and I would patrol local restaurants and shopping malls and apply everywhere that we could. We all had jobs..and we all took those jobs for granted and didn't take them seriously. Most of our parents were still giving us money so half of us didn't actually NEED the job to survive, but we wanted the job for extra spending money and because that was just what you did. You worked during the day and partied hard at night.

Now the reason I bring this up is because I recently met with a Native American organization who was speaking about the unemployment rates on the reservations. The current unemployment rate is at 50%. 50% of their population does not have jobs. 50% of their population are trying to get money to SURVIVE by donating blood...or doing much riskier "jobs". And these 50% are adults...and providers for families. The Natives are unable to work at McDonalds at minimum wage (a job I applied for as a joke and was hired and never showed up to) because the closest McDonalds is an hour away. And I think about this devastating circumstance and then I think about how I completely took for granted the luxury of having a job when I wanted, where I wanted, and for however long as I wanted. I took for granted the luxury of my parents being able to financially support me while I worked as a waitress to earn money for shopping, vacations, and going out to eat. I took for granted those opportunities and had no concept of the "opportunity" that it really was.

I guess I just wrote this blog because I was amazed at the unemployment rate for Natives and upset with myself for taking my opportunities for granted...but when you grow up in a bubble like HoCo, its hard to really imagine life outside of it. If nothing else, take from this an appreciation for what you had...an appreciation for all that you have now...and if you have the opportunity to improve the workfoce on reservations, have at it :)


A Special Blend of 7 and 45

As I have gotten older I have noticed more and more "old" person tendencies (and by old, I apologize, but I mean my parents age). Okay I will edit "old"...I have noticed more and more more mature tendencies usually executed by one over the age of 40...better? Out of nowhere this morning I realized that I have started driving with two hands on the wheel. NEVER (with the exception of my driving test) have I driven with two hands on the wheel...or at the very least the two hands were chillin' at the bottom of the wheel. But not today...my hands were at 9 and 2...weird. I also noticed that I can no longer listen to my music loud and the bass I can hear from other cars (much like the bass from my sweet bazooka tube subwoofer in high school) is ridiculously annoying. My bedtime is about 10pm. I enjoy doing dishes. I like to have my bed made and everything closed (drawers, cabinets, curtains, doors). I am getting old...

BUT...I am also regressing to a child. I have peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for lunch and drink chocolate milk on a regular basis. I like going to the zoo and learning new things. I like playing board games. And I usually act like a child at least once a day :)

Maybe I am old in habit, young at heart, and somewhere in between in appearance and health haha. I am quite happy with this completely bizzarre blend of age and time, and I am SURE it just adds to my unique behavior :)

Stay young, keep learning and growing, and most importantly, stay healthy! XOXO

Sunday, March 13, 2011

I'm Talking with the (wo)Man in the Mirror

I believe that (unfortunately) I have body dysmorphia. This is not a blog to complain about my lovely eating "issues", but more so to raise some awareness and to give some support and comfort to anyone else who feels this way. I do think that eating disorders (again, unfortunately) never go away...and I have noticed that I have become, again, more concerned with how my body looks. I think that, as I have said before, gaining weight (even if it is to be healthier and supported by all the important people in my life) is very difficult to accept. And regardless of what anyone else says, I am still very self conscious and very aware of any changes in my body. Now, the reason that I think I have body dysmorphia is simple (and common)...I do not see the same thing that others see. Case in point was this morning...I literally looked in the mirror and thought "wow my face looks chubby" then 5 minutes later looked in the same mirror and thought "hm my face actually looks skinny today". That, my friends, is body dysmorphia. It's not crazy, it's not for attention, and it's not absurd (because I am a small person)...it's a disorder. It is a symptom of my anxiety manifested in an obsession with my body shape. And it is a consuming aspect of someones life. It is very difficult to feel a sense of anxiety each time you eat, and feel a sense of paranoia when wearing tight clothing. But it doesn't have to be this way...

Body issues (at least for me) are rooted in anxiety. And when I am feeling great with my body is when I am feeling confident overall. Confidence is the root of so many evil things. Confidence can make or break everything including relationships, jobs, family, and happiness. Confidence can be shattered by those around you and reconstructed by those that matter. And confidence is what I am working on. I know that I need to focus on being okay with my appearance and when I do that, the rest will fall into place. I know I am my own biggest critic and I know I see things differently than others. And (as with many things) acknowledging the issues is the first step. I am hoping that from now until the summer (when things get more stressful and wearing a bathing suit becomes the focal point of life) I can work on being okay with myself, understanding that I am healthy and in amazing shape, and being happy with who I am and what I look like. I am 100% confident that this is possible...and (as I mentioned before and stopped doing) it will begin with making positive remarks to myself in the mirror...contradicting the negative and positive every time...and focusing on my assets. This is my goal. And I hope that this can be the goal for my other fabulous friends that are worried about their body. Fight the hate on yourself :)


Wednesday, March 9, 2011

A non-alcoholic lac-fruc-tard...say what??

I am still going to leave this blog up here, but I just received a call from the doctor's office that the nurse read the results wrong and I am not fructose intolerant, but fructose sensitive...basically I am just more sensitive to foods very high in fructose (apples) but I don't need to avoid it completely...WOOHOO....but still read the blog, hahah

In the past year I think I have made my diet the most complicated thing on earth. First I quit drinking therefore taking out most appealing beverages served at restaurants (limiting me to soda, fruit juice, and iced tea). Being the self proclaimed health nut that I am, I don't drink regular soda so that pretty much leaves me with diet coke, unsweetended iced tea, and maybe pineapple juice if I don't mind the high sugar intake. Oh and don't forget sparkling cider...boy did I drink my fair share of sparkling cider over the holidays...

Then I determine I am lactose intolerant. So now remove most desserts, usually most items on fine dining menus (however, good restaurants are incredibly accomodating), and a lot of healthy snacks from my diet. Once I removed the dairy from my diet (mainly string cheese, yogurt, ice cream, milk in my coffee), my stomach was feeling better...or, at the very least, I stopped feeling cripplingly nauseous. Fortunately with the combination of soy/coconut products as a substitute for dairy being the latest health craze and more food manufactures being conscientious of food allergies, finding dairy free items/substitutes has been a breeze! More importantly, my loving boyfriend and excellent chef has done a fabulous job of coming up with great dairy free recipes.

So then I realize that my stomach still bothers me. And I have sort of just been accepting that as the norm. Constantly being bloated and gassy (sometimes to the extent of painful cramping) was just a way of life. Until I decided it wasn't. Maybe if I lived by myself and never left my home this could be acceptable...but having stomach "issues" at work, with friends, and with a boyfriend is just miserable. Soo, back to the doctors we go...

His first suggestion- fructose intolerance. Really? So, my body just hates sugar apparently! After some research I decided this must be it. Fructose intolerance is similar in symptoms to lactose intolerance but you cannot take a supplement to assist in the digestion, you basically will always have a harder time digesting this type of sugar. Fructose exists in some of my favorite foods (oh yay! *sarcasm..*): apples, so clearly sparkling apple cider, diet foods/soda (in sorbitol), pears, watermelon, honey, raisins, and (most importantly) high fructose corn syrup. So for the past two weeks I have done my best to eliminate fructose from my diet and have honestly felt a lot better. Sometimes I am not as careful as I should be and indulge and immediately can notice the effects. So this week I went and had a fructose breath test done to confirm my self diagnosis and I was correct. I am now a lac-fruc-tard.

This, my friends, has been the most difficult diet news I have had to encounter. Just when I felt I had a good hold on a regular diet (breakfast foods, snacks, drinks, dinners, desserts...restaurant substitutions...all of it), I have to go and make it more difficult! Now, my drink options at restaurants are literally limited to water and iced tea (I do okay with regular sugar/sugar in the raw). No more sparkling apple cider! No more granola bars because of the high fructose corn syrup. No more diet sodas, diet dressings or diet sauces. No more APPLES!!! No more honey in my tea. Boy oh boy. Now on a brighter note...here are some foods I CAN eat...

- POM juice: I can have berries and it is 100% berry, no sugar added (great for mocktails!)
- Bananas, Oranges, Berries, and Pineapples are still safe: WHEW!!!
- Evaporated Cane Juice: I believe this is okay but I need to do some more research...but it exists as a sugar replacement in a lot of organic foods
- Almond Milk: I love you and I love your chocolate version.
- Nuts/Peanut butter: I still love you.
- Eggs: I will always love you.
- Meat: yum.

So while these discoveries have most certainly limited my diet and made eating out super difficult. I have learned a TON more about nutrition and cooking, and have been able to easily adjust.

If you notice that you have any stomach discomfort...don't assume that it is just the way your body is. Keep a log of what foods you eat and when your body isn't happy and take it from there. Given the fabulous organic, gluten free, dairy free, vegan, sugar free, etc etc options out there, it is very easy to eat for you :)


Saturday, March 5, 2011

The Curse of Being Overstimulated...

Waiting for the metro, riding an elevator, sitting at a stop light, running on a treadmill...these are all things that we used to (and should be able to) do on their own. We rode an elevator and thought about the days plans, conversed with the person next to us...we ran on the treadmill and focused on the music or the rhythm of our steps...and we waited for the metro while sitting peacefully (or maybe reading a newspaper). Now, we need constant stimulation. The misfortune of my (and probably your) generation is our constant need for stimulation. The constant need to be informed, up-to-date, in contact with others, and seeing and hearing as much entertainment as possible. It is exhausting.

I've noticed this a lot in myself (and I strongly dislike it...but it is quite the hard addiction to break) when I am riding the elevator at work and constantly checking facebook (the most disappointing moment being that there are no new updates since the last time I checked 2 minutes ago...), when I am running on the treadmill and want a good beat in my headphones and an entertaining sitcom with subtitles on the small tv attached to my machine, and when I am sitting at a stop light and even the radio has become too mundane for me and I need to check my email (absolutely unsafe..I know.). This constant need to be stimulated by all sensory organs is exhausting and I do believe that it cannot possibly be good for us. My generation no longer appreciates silence. No longer enjoys sitting and just being....sitting with a cup of coffee and watching the birds chirp outside the window. I believe that our need to be stimulated by so many channels (audio, visual, etc)takes us out of our own...leaves us with little time to think and reflect and keeps us craving even more. I think it is disappointing that many cannot enjoy a good workout without watching tv, reading the newspaper, and listen to music (or even watching a screen that simulates a workout in the outdoors!)...but I guess if the individual wouldn't workout in a normal setting with them and the treadmill, they wouldn't do it period. I guess that the stimulation can modify unappealing situations to be more tolerable. I guess...

So maybe the gym is different...and just because I enjoy exercise in its most basic form, doesn't mean that everyone else will...and I should be happy that these stimulations occur to engage non-exercisers and keep them coming back. But my position still stands on the negative side of stimulation in terms of every day living and what could be considered peacefulness. The need I have to check my phone at every point in the day when I am not speaking with someone else, busy, or doing work is sad. I am trying to work on it. But I have become so accustomed to this lifestyle that I will admit it is hard. The abilty to converse with multiple people in person, over the phone, via text, on email, and through facebook at the same time is absurd...but common.

Now in the time that I have spent writing this blog I have missed a couple of text messages and some facebook posts...so I need to check those :)

PS- Take some time out for you. In silence. Just enjoy you and reflect. It's nice, I promise.


PPS- Post blog writing I noticed another necessary stimulation for running (at least for me)...my need to change the speed, incline, or something! Running on a treadmill is far too mundane for me...and even if I am looking at a magazine, listening to great music, and staring at myself in the mirror...I still need to change something about my workout (speed or hill) every minute or so! Ahh!

Monday, February 28, 2011

Oh the places you'll go...

Stages of my life by city and apartment...

Sorry I haven’t blogged recently but it’s because I have been moving! I just moved in to a fabulous two bedroom apartment in Rockville with an old high school friend. And I have been there for one day and it already feels like home!

So over the course of this move...with the packing and purging, I reflected on all of the places I have lived and how each of those places embodied a different stage/chapter of my life. Now with 6 places in 5 years one would think I would have traveled a bit…but nope, this girl has stayed in the DMV (DC, MD, and VA for those that don’t know) and if nothing else, I know the area quite well!

Let’s take a little journey down memory lane…

First there was the college apartment. Shockingly nice for a college apartment (because it was technically on campus housing) but a college apartment nonetheless. I lived there with 3 of my best friends and we quite the time of our lives (contact me for stories! Haha)

Then there was Adams Morgan. (enough said!) Crazy, exhausting, mostly blacked out. Oh and in between college and Adams Morgan, I holed up in a hole in the wall for a month. A client of mine at the gym I worked at had an extra bedroom that I stayed in for free. It was small and dirty and lonely. But anyway…then there was Adams Morgan. My best friend at the time and I shared a small one bedroom apartment. I had no room. I lived on a day bed in the living room with no door and no closet. It was interesting. This was probably the peak of my partying days. And how could it not be in Adams Morgan?? Oh right, and I had a job…that pesky thing that I did during the day. I worked as a Fitness Specialist (personal trainer, etc) for a Corporate Fitness Company.

Then there was Baltimore (my favorite city). Fun, exhausting, financially impossible. The job with the Corporate Fitness Company left me longing for more. I wanted to utilize more of the skills I believed that I had…and so, I went back to school! I was accepted into Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health for a Master of Health Science program and jumped at the opportunity to move to Canton (B’more) with one of my best friends. While grad school was quite difficult, I managed to create a lifestyle that resembled college and acted as though I was still in college. And I don’t regret a single second of it…I had a lot of fun, met a lot of people, did well in school, but at the same time…continued to party a tad too hard. Once I realized I couldn’t sustain living in B’more with no income (and quit waiting tables to save my sanity and social life), I moved back to home sweet home.

Then there was Ellicott City. Home sweet home. Now you can imagine how thrilled my parents were to have me back! Just when they thought I had graduated college and was becoming an adult, I squeeze myself right back into their lives! But I thank them for the opportunity. Having the luxury of being able to move home when you need to, and having flexible, caring parents that allow you to continue living your young adulthood while under their roof is nice. But my bad habits continued. At this point I had begun working for the health organization. A job I loved and learned a lot from. But I hadn’t left my college-esque ways behind me. One would think that having to face your parents would keep you from partying too hard, but I didn’t care. I continued to stumble in, pass out around the house, make a mess, and just plain stress my parents out. I think this was around the time when I thought that changed was not an option. I believed that this lifestyle was the one that I was meant to live and the people around me needed to accept that and appreciate it. Not the best motto to live by…

Then there was Arlington (round 1). Disgusting, embarrassing, rock bottom. If you have been following my blog throughout the past year, you will probably know that this living situation was about rock bottom for me. I was working for an organization that I believed in strongly, but was not filling fulfilled at. I was struggling in my social/relationship life with a battle between best friends and an abusive relationship. I was living in a dirty townhouse with all guys that made me apathetic to many things. This was about the point when my drinking became my crutch…this became the only constant in my life and (what I believed at the time…) the only thing I was good at. After a couple of months of believing that I didn’t deserve better and was destined to live this lifestyle…I made “my decision” and began my “transformation” if you will.

Then there was Arlington (round 2). Renew…refresh…rejuvenate. All of those words apply to my second place in Arlington. This was the first home I chose that wasn’t based on its proximity to the bars. I moved in with a good friend who was immensely supportive in my sobriety decision and who helped me get through any moments of weakness or doubt. I ended the abusive relationship. I extended and rebuilt my network of friends. I found a stable and enjoyable job. And for once, my apartment felt like a real grown-up home. I felt more responsible and more mature and my home reflected that. I met an amazing man that unconditionally supported me and brought out my best qualities. This was the year of my blog, so many of my thoughts and feelings have already been explained throughout the past posts, so I won’t go into detail, but I think you get the idea 

Now there is Rockville. Mature, happy, healthy, strong. I don’t think it is a surprise that over the course of 5 years, someone would have grown up a bit…especially during those pivotal post-college, working member of society years. And so, I believe that this is most mature home yet. It feels like a home, it looks like a beautiful bachelorette pad, it’s holistic, it’s friendly, and it makes me happy. I moved into this apartment with an old friend from high school that I recently reconnected with. We share a lot of the same passions and ideas on life and I have nothing but good thoughts for the future! I remember when I graduated college and swore I would never move into the “suburbs” of some place like Rockville because that would be so lame and getting a taxi to and from the bars would be awful. I remember looking at rooms from craigslist and worrying that the prospective roommates furniture would be ruined if I got drunk and made a mess of the place. I remember lining my room in alcoholic pictures, bottles, and mis-matched furniture. And I remember of viewing my home as simply a place to bathe and sleep because all of my other time would be spent at work and out at the bars. It is refreshing (and probably grown up) to no longer live any of those ways. I am not saying anything is wrong with any of those things…they just aren’t for me anymore.

I think it is great that in 5 years I have had the opportunity to live in such diverse “settings”, to explore a couple of cities (even if there are within 50 miles of each other), to live with all different types of people, and to have each of those phases in my life. Without each of those phases, each of those experiences, each of those roommates, each of those jobs, and each of those neighborhoods…I wouldn’t be who I am. For once I feel settled. I can live for the moment instead of planning my next move.


Friday, February 11, 2011

Did my OCD with exercising and weight really save my life?

Recently I was thinking about my sort of "OCD"-esque (obsessive compulsive disorder) attitude towards exercising (and eating healthy for the most part)and how people are always surprised by my dedication and early morning workouts, etc...and I was sort of questioning whether I was completely sane ;) when I realized that this attitude may have saved my life. I am 99% sure I would have binge drank myself to a black out state of mind (or lack of mind)most days of the week if I wasn't so dedicated to working out and didn't want to consume the extra "wasted" calories...

In fact, I specifically remember a conversation I had with an old friend in college when we actually said that we would drink every night and go out partying IF it wouldn't make us fat. Now please keep in mind that I am not talking about restraining from having a couple drinks with dinner each night because of weight paranoia...because I can understand 1. Why people would like a drink each night to unwind, and 2. Why people wouldn't want the extra calories from drinking each night. But what I am talking about is getting out blacked out wasted. And the fact that the my JOB, school, relationships, family, etc were not among the top reasons why I felt like binge drinking wasn't a great idea is quite terrifying. The fact that I could rationalize getting completely wasted at night as long as I was "functional" for work the next day is sad. So, in the end...I am glad that my slight obsession with body image kept my drinking in check. Because if it hadn't, I am not sure what would have happened to me.

Which only makes me terrified for the day when they come out with an alcoholic beverage that is calorie free and potentially hangover free...because I have a feeling that my friend and I aren't the only girls out there who allow "body" to control their drinking habits rather than drunk actions/regret/humiliation/careers/school/friends/family..you know...important things in life.

But everything is a learning experience right? If it wasn't for my passion and dedication to exercise and healthy eating, who knows what cards I would be dealt right now. And through that passion I have continued to race and meet to friends and start workout groups, and most importantly...motivate others!

This blog wasn't intend to reflect on the negative in a bad light, but more so to just reflect. It is interesting now to look back at who I was and realize how my outlook and actions have changed. And if nothing else, I hope that others can read this and reflect on how exercising and a healthy lifestyle has benefited them and different aspects of their lives without them realizing.


Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Good comes out of even the worst experiences.

While eating my delicious peanut butter and jelly sandwich (you're never too old, right?!?) for lunch and reading "Travelers' Tales Cuba", I came across the most fitting chapter of the book. (Given my boyfriend's Cuban background...and my lack of cultural experiences, outside of Acapulco for Spring Break, Canada for NYE, and Jamaica for vacation...I snatched this book up in hopes of broadening my horizons and hopefully bringing us closer :) )

No hay mal que por bien no venga...roughly translates to: good comes out of even the worst experiences.

I believe that I have mentioned in earlier blogs my belief in the need to hit rock bottom before experiencing true growth, and I feel that this saying (and apparent "quintessential Cuban expression/mantra") truly embodies that belief. I have a couple of people in my life who are struggling and sometimes feel lost, and I hope that they may read this blog and start to gain a glimpse of hope. For me...hitting rock bottom changed my life. And I will say that rock bottom is different for everyone. And maybe I wasn't at the lowest of the lows, and people can argue that it could have been worse, yada yada...but for me...I was so unhappy in every aspect of my life that I considered my state to be at rock bottom. I had reached the point where I was lying to everyone close to me, abusing alcohol, giving up on work, losing friends, and completing losing what little self esteem that I had. And when you are experience the "worst experiences", you don't believe that good will come...and you sometimes even convince yourself that you deserve the bad and will never deserve the good...

But then (and this is my hope for my friends currently at a loss)...you get a small glimpse of hope...you realize that making your life better will take work and will require change but you become dedicated to the goal of happiness. You long for the good. Believing that life can only be one way is absurd...and being trapped at an unhappy place because you see no other alternatives is unrealistic. (Let me note that some situations will require years of work and assistance, and can not be fixed with a couple of changes...but I am talking about being unhappy socially, at work, in relationships, with your body, where you live, etc etc).

So my hope for you is that you realize and embrace the good that can come from the worst experiences. When times are truly awful and you are tempted to give up or consider yourself a failure, reassess the situation. View that terrible experience as a learning process. Figure out how to work up from that point and work! The challenges and terrible experiences that life throws at us make us stronger...they make us more prepared for the future and they force us to aim to be better.

And if nothing else...just think, it can't get any worse, right? (Being able to laugh at yourself is also a key quality that will help you cope with some rough situations).

Keep your head up, make goals, make changes, and good things will happen :)


Monday, February 7, 2011

Love...hard to find, impossible to replace.

Well with it being one week before the big, fabulous, commercial holiday of Valentines Day, I decided I'd get nice and mushy and write about love. And not just boy meets girl love...but love in all areas of your life through all different relationships...

Unfortunately, I think it takes a good 20 years to really appreciate and understand love. I believe we spend the first 20 years taking advantage of love. Taking advantage of the unconditional love given to us by our parents, grandparents, and siblings (maybe aunts and uncles too, if you are lucky). I most certainly took advantage of the unconditional love my parents had for me, regardless of the amount of times I came home wasted, scared them to death, and never appreciated them for caring for me/not killing me (thanks Mom & Dad). I remember growing up if I had a bad day at school, who do you think got the brunt of my bad mood? My poor parents and poor little brothers...and why didn't they kick me to the curb? Unconditional love...(and my brothers were scared of me..hehe).

Then once you past that 20 something year hump where you stop being a self absorbed ass and start appreciating the people in your loves and truly connecting with the friends you have...then you experience the irreplaceable love of best friends. (at this time you also experience the love of a significant other, but I'll get to that..). I think post-college-transitional-figuring-my-life-out stage is when you truly find love throughout your friends...during this time when you are changing who you thought you were to become who you want to be (and all the mix ups in between), you realize who are you true friends that actually love the core you. Yup, they love that obnoxious you...shocking, right? THAT's how you know it's love! These are the people you vow to grow old with, raise your kids together, be each others bridesmaids and groomsmen, and continue debauchery until you are too old to pronounce the word. (they deserve valentines too!)

And then...there is the lovey dovey love. The heart skips a beat, weak at the knees, love each others flaws, first person you want to see in the morning, and last person you want to hold at night kind of love. That type of love is more often than not, celebrated every day of the year and really doesn't even need Valentines Day (but as a girl...I will still take it, haha). That type of love is not always easy to find, always takes some work, should always endure some rough patches, and can be the most rewarding and fulfilling feeling there is.

And lastly, and probably most importantly...the love for yourself. This love should not be influenced by anyone but yourself. This love can get you through some of the hardest situations and moments of complete self doubt. This love can be the difference between giving up and succeeding. This love most certainly takes 20 years to develop and probably 20 more years to work on. This love will help you get through all of the other loves...because without this love, those loves cannot truly exist (at least not to their fullest potential). This year, next week, give yourself a Valentine. Treat yourself...or at the very least, tell yourself you love you. Because you should. :)


Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Counting calories, running miles, lifting weights....oh my!!

Trying to be healthy can be daunting. And even more so because of the mixed signals we get from the media every single day...mainly because they have realized the HUGE market for weight loss anything and have become complete masters at playing off of that. Now mind you I am not a dietitian nor a certified personal trainer (although in a former life I was a certified group exercise instructor..), but I have been around the block and back and have started to narrow down some standard "golden rules" to live by when it comes to living healthy.

First and foremost...losing weight (if that is your goal) is simply calories burned exceeding calories consumed. Simple as that. Yes there are certain foods that are better for you, better for your heart, better for your endurance, contain less trans fat, contain more whole grains...BUT, if you are simply trying to lose weight (and this is why weight watchers works), you just need to do the math. So maybe try counting the calories of your most common dishes and snacks for one day or a week...you may be surprised at how much or how little you are actually taking in. And remember, cutting calories too much will just cause you to gain weight because your body will start storing the fat to keep you alive.

Second...lift weights!! Exercise is KEY in all aspects of health in your life (mental, physical and probably social). Many people will pack on the cardio workouts (running, elliptical) and do 1,000 crunches and wonder why they aren't seeing the results they wanted. It's because you have to lift weights. You have to start building the muscle to burn off the fat...and I promise that you won't turn into a guido gorilla juice head.

Third...think about it, but not too much :) Becoming consumed with counting calories and how many ounces of protein and carbs you had that day, combined with how many miles you ran is really no way to live your life (trust me, I battle with it most days). But just be self aware. Eat in moderation....eat when you are hungry...don't grab the container of ice cream cause you are bored...go for a walk if it is nice out...and enjoy life. If you live healthy and think healthy, everything should fall into place.

Lastly...push yourself. I guarantee you are stronger than you think you are. If you run for 20 minutes and feel good, push yourself for another 5. If you are tired in the morning and would rather sleep in, drag your bum out of bed and push yourself at the gym. I promise you will be surprised with what your body can handle...and I promise you will feel accomplished afterward. Make yourself sweat and push yourself to exhaustion...your body can do it, you just need your mind to jump on board.

Good luck :)

You're beautiful.