Moab, Utah

Every year I plan a trip that takes me into some wild areas, makes me push myself physically, and then collapse into bed at 7PM every night. In the back of my mind, I wonder slightly why I enjoy this and how this can rightly be called a vacation. Doesn’t a vacation require a fruity drink with an umbrella? I always end up pushing my endurance threshold but I’m usually surrounded by some of the most beautiful sites on earth so it’s easy to want to see what’s around the corner. This year I loaded up my little car and got my bf excited for a classic road trip west for 10 days of hiking and camping in Colorado and Utah.

Now, while I’ve tried writing this post several times since getting back, I’ve just not been super excited about retelling all the fun stories. I’ve been pretty content just looking at pictures and remembering the moments of sitting on top of some of the tallest mountains in the United States and looking down at the birds flying below. Then this week I started school and had a small panic attack thinking about my hectic schedule for the next year. In the midst of setting goals and accepting the situation, I suddenly realized that all my adventurous trips and marathon training’s have been good lessons for my life. Hello endurance! I might not be huffing and puffing towards a timer at the finish line or working past some shaking muscles while climbing a 14ner, but mentally, I’m having to overcome much, much more. I’ve pushed my body through some crazy hikes and runs with my mind screaming the whole time “can you seriously tell me you’re having fun??!! Just give it up already and let’s go eat ice cream and take a nap!” There might be moments of being soaking wet and freezing on top of a mountain or running past mile 20 of a marathon seriously doubting it will ever end but somehow, I’ve overcome the mental and physical challenges and always finished. So, here’s to all my training I’ve done in the past 10 years. Let me take what I’ve learned and accomplished, remembering I’ve never given up, and apply it to the next 15 months.

So, with that being said, here’s part one of my trip west- Moab, Utah. If you’re ever looking for some wild landscape, amazing biking, rafting, hiking, and canyoning, you must head here. This part of the country was made for adventure lovers. During our stay, we hit up Canyonlands National Park, Arches National Park, and Dead Horse State Park for lots and lots of hiking. Here are some of my favorite memories…..

What’s one of the hardest events you’ve ever pushed through?

Learning to keep it together

 

Got anything stressful going on now? Do you handle it well or do you find yourself spiraling out of control? I’m getting ready to start a really stressful year and have decided to set some goals to better manage some potential pitfalls.

In my last post, I mentioned I was on the world’s shortest break. Well it ended today. I’m back in class, only this semester I’m actually in a classroom instead of just doing online work. This semester is the beginning of a super hectic life until December 2013 when I graduate as a nurse practitioner. Grad school has been okay to this point. Lots of papers and busy work but nothing super taxing. I have my weeks here and there but when I reflect on the semester, it’s not too bad. However, today it hit me that life is going to radically change. Starting next year, in addition to working 3 12-hour overnight shifts, I’ll be doing 25-35 hours a week in a clinic during the day for my practical experience. In essence, it will feel like I’m working 6 days a week. Anyone remember the Seinfeld episode where everyone is yelling “serenity now!” Whoops, might have just dated myself. Anyways, I feel like running around yelling that. I know, I know. Please don’t pass me some cheese with my whine or starting playing the violin. There are some truly amazing people out there juggling 3 jobs, kids, long commutes, dying family members, etc. My life is cake in comparison.

After class today I had a bit of a pity party for myself and laid on the floor watching 2 hours of Sex in the City reruns until I felt I had accepted the situation. I realized I needed to take a new look at this semester and year. Part of my stress is related to how I’ve handled it in the past. Stress eating, weight gain, constant fatigue which leads into some mild depression, isolation from friends and family because I feel like I always need to be studying or catching up on sleep, and the overall run down feeling and appearance. Sounds like fun huh? The thing is, I know I’m not the only person who handle’s stress this way. I remember working with countless clients when I was a personal trainer who were all dealing with stress eating, fatigue, depression, etc. Mmmmmm, it’s time to have a delicious sandwich made of my own words.

So, my goals are:

  • Make my pooch happy and take her on more walks. Why study 5 hours in a row? That’s the beauty of having a dog; they make you way more active. I am going to take advantage of that and make sure I’m taking frequent breaks and walking her. She’s happy, I’m happy, my body is happy. I’m also going to make sure my workout equipment is out in my living room so it’s super easy (and no excuse) for me to lean over, pick the weight up, and do a mini-break lift session.
  • Learn to use a scale again. The beauty/downside of being a nurse is you’re always in scrubs (mmmm, baggy). Between that and then throwing on stretchy workout pants when I’m home, I could easily put on 5 pounds before I slip into my jeans. Hello muffin top, where did you come from? I know there are many opinions about weighing yourself daily. I’ve had many conversations with clients about this. In the past, I’ve gone by how my clothes fit since everything is pretty tailored. However, I really want to keep my stress eating in check. Using a scale more often during the week will help me realize when weight is creeping on instead of having to stress more after I’ve realized I’ve gained 10 pounds. I don’t want to sound like I’m fixated on my weight but the first time I was in nursing school, 15 pounds found their way onto my body waaaayyyy to fast and it took me most of that year to get it off.
  • Find a good balance of work, school, family, friends, and personal time. I am so guilty of getting wrapped up in work/school/sleep and ignore all the people who mean so much to me. They are the ones who help me relax so why the heck do I not make time for social hour? At the same time, I also need a little personal time here and there where I can just enjoy the silence and peace. You know, do important girl stuff like look at my pores and wax my eyebrows.
  • Continue to take care of my spirituality. Why is it we get all spiritual when life is circling the toilet but as soon as blue sky’s break out, we’re back to relying on ourselves? I want to make sure I’m always trying to find peace daily and spend some time in prayer and reflection. Maybe throw in some deep yoga breathing too 🙂
  • Keep up my eating habits. I usually don’t struggle with eating junk. I truly love fresh foods and simple meals of salad, chicken, roasted veggies, etc. However, with winter coming and when I get stressed, I tend to want more heavy meals (mmmm homemade mac and cheese). I get into this mindset that “oh, I’ve had a really hard day, I can totally have ice cream straight out of the carton.” I need to redo my reward system and stop thinking that because my day was hard, I can have extras of everything. Hey 15 extra pounds, it’s been a long time. Don’t worry, I’m not denying myself either. I’ve got some amazing chocolate squares that always seem to satisfy me after 1-2 pieces. I also love frozen whipped bananas with chocolate sauce or good Greek yogurt with fruit preserves. Mmmmmm.

Whew. Feeling better already. By the way, I found my version of “Serenity Now.”  It’s a picture from the Grand Tetons. Maybe I’ll spent 5 minutes a day dreaming of floating down this river……

What are healthy ways you handle stress? 

 

Grape Harvest and Urban Farms

Well it seems there’s been a hiatus on my blog. While I wish I were still in Colorado and Utah, I’ve been back for a bit working and finishing out my summer class. One thing I’ve noticed about being in grad school and having a blog is it’s hard to blog after writing pages and pages of papers. I’m on the world’s shortest break between semesters so there will be some exciting blog updates (I know some people have been giddy in anticipation).

Early last Sunday morning I did something new with the lovely Lisa and Adrienne. We decided to go harvest grapes at Holy-Field Vineyard and Winery. After a quick tutorial on how to cut them from the vine without loosing a finger, they released us to the vast fields for a couple of hours of snipping, nibbling, and fun conversation. Filling the 5-gallon buckets went super fast and before we knew it, we were stopping for lunch and to sip on sangria.

Nothing like knowing where your food and drink comes from!

Speaking of farms, I wrote a paper this week about growing urban gardens to help reduce food insecurity and food deserts within our community. Even though I’m from Kansas and am accustom to farms like the one below, there are still tons of areas around us that have no access to fresh foods (hence the word food desert).

Millions of people in the Unites States, some possibly including your neighbors, don’t know how they will put the next meal on the table (otherwise known as food insecurity). Groups like Kansas City Community Gardens are working to help low-income families and organizations learn how to grow and cultivate small urban gardens to help meet food needs.

My search to learn more about urban gardens lead me to some CSA (community sponsored agriculture) websites where people like you and I can invest in a small urban farm and in return, get weekly produce, herbs, milk, eggs, and free-range meat. I love the idea of supporting farmers in my area and knowing exactly where my food comes from and learning how to eat seasonally.

There are a couple of reasons why I am talking about this. One is to bring awareness to the current problem and what’s being done to fix it. Second, I hear a lot about eating locally but now I’m really trying to learn and see how it affects my community, local farmers, and me. This morning when I was at the farmer’s market, I found lots of farmers who were already getting people invested into next year’s CSA and now I’m thinking I might do the same. Last, I know many of us are stuck in a never-ending diet cycle where we try to eliminate food. Many of us are fortunate not to have a food shortage, yet ironically we starve and limit ourselves to lose weight. Maybe the focus shouldn’t be on this type of method of loosing weight but on how to support our bodies by putting good foods into it and supporting our community at the same time. By remodeling our daily eating to include more fruits and veggies, we can support our local farmers and our communities while making our bodies healthier. I challenge you to look into your community and see what’s being done to fight food insecurity, who your local farmers are, and where your community gardens are located. Thanks for listening to me on my soapbox 🙂