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/ 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) get a small glimpse of 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 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 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.