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 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 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 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 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 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!!