A new you doesn’t start with a New Year

Anyone else feel like the week between Christmas and New Year is rest week? Between my graduation, getting a life back, reconnecting with friends, Christmas, and work, I’ve been slowing catching up with what’s happened in the last month. 2014 isn’t even here yet and I already know it will be wild. Actually, it won’t take much after the tedious, mind-numbing year I had finishing clinical.

With graduation, Christmas, and parties, my house (and my tummy) have overflowed with yummy treats. Twitter, FB, and the blogger-world have been full of cookies, diet plans, resolutions, cheese platters (mmmm), and those who keep powering through with workouts or those who’s biggest workout is lifting another plate of fudge. I’ve taken the middle of the road by still enjoying happy hours, wine time, parties, and friends, but decided not to do any baking this year. I also made a secret stash for January and February of all my holiday candy instead of eating it all now (out of sight out of mind, right? maybe?). I had some amazing cupcakes left over from my graduation party and decided to cut them up in little single servings and freeze them so I could have an after dinner treat later. It’s all about the little steps. January is such a high pressure month of lose weight! salads and chicken only! no bread! no carbs! gym 7 days a week! No wonder we give up and hope for the best next year.

As we end 2013, I hope you realize your new life doesn’t start January 1st, or on a Monday, or when you turn 21. There are thousands of moments a day where you can change your life. They might be tiny, they might be monstrous. But realize a day isn’t wasted because you didn’t seize that moment. Just make it right the next time. My dumb example (but I know it happens to all of us ) is when I made it a cupcake lunch earlier this week. Did I make it a cupcake dinner? No. Was the day ruined? Nope. I had a balanced dinner and moved on. Don’t kick yourself and write the day or week off because you failed at one moment.

Here’s to taking flight and living in 2014!

PS- Here are some pics from this week. I made the best of some nice weather and decided to start working on my post-graduate body. No need to wait till 2014.  There will be no 2014 resolutions for me. Just taking flight and living each day.

Nellie playing in the snow! Snowy prairie walk Kansas beauty 100 stairs

 

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Take flight!……And nose dive…..

Perhaps you’ve seen some of the articles circulating on blogs lately questioning how people censor their lives through social media. You know, putting up all the pretty, perfect pictures of their well-balanced, organic, local, hand-picked meals but forgetting to post the pictures of the cheese puffs and doughnuts they wolfed down in a stress-induced panic. While we turn to social media for support and inspiration, some of us can walk away feeling pretty crappy about our life when we compare ourselves to the picture perfect lifestyles.

As many of you know, I’m in my last year of graduate school to become a nurse practitioner. This entire year is dedicated to clinical rotations (otherwise known as “free labor”). 25-30 hours a week is dedicated to learning how to assess, diagnose, treat, and manage newborns to older adults and making sure I’m not passing off minor symptoms for something major (like death). Oh yeah, I’m still working 40 hours a week at night at my ever stressful job of trying to pull people back from more death. Personal life? Non-existent. Running? My heart aches for it. The person who would spend 10 days camping outside now sees sunshine on her walk to and from the car. Auuggghhh, it’s like a knife to the heart.  It’s just killing me!! Stressed, unhappy, and a little depressed is an accurate descriptor of my current situation. What’s making me happy now?? Here’s the big confession…..BACON, FRIED POTATOES, and DILL PICKLE CHIPS. Yes, Miss Thang here, whose last post was about making green smoothies, is now using grease, salt, and fat as her support system. I’ll give you a minute to gossip about that little piece of news…..

Last week I had a “get your sh*$ together” moment where I realized that all of my negativity and stress is REALLY affecting how I feel. I rarely post on Facebook because I’ve noticed that most things I want to say will put me in that friend’s category of getting blocked because I have nothing good to say and I DON’T want to lose friends because I’m a Negative Nancy. I thought about an anti-depressant (nothing wrong with them, I prescribe tons at work) but after more consideration, I felt like it was more of a lifestyle issue and a pill would just be a Band-Aid covering a bigger problem. I woke up between shifts to an amazing, sunny 75° Saturday. I took a great walk, soaking up some Vitamin D (low levels can cause depression), and then hit up Costco for some frozen anti-oxidant berry mix, kale, fruit, power veggies salad mix, and Greek yogurt. At the end of the day, my body really does crave clean eating and I know I respond really well to it. The dill pickle chips, while so good, just leave me feeling sluggish, hungry, and only give me about 5 minutes of satisfaction. To me, it’s not worth the trade. Like I’ve said before, I’m not a big believer in always depriving yourself of foods but I need to stop the habit of reaching for the bacon for a 5-minute comfort.

I’m always seeing posts (usually on Mondays) were it goes something like this “cleaning the fridge out today of all my junk! It’s just chicken and salad from here on out!” Good for you for taking that step! Just realize a healthy life is not always perfect. I have to break my relationship with bacon (sob). Do I feel bad about the last couple of weeks? Eh, no. I’m proud that I realized the habit I was getting into needed to end and I took action in conquering that craving.  Am I committing to green smoothies everyday till I die? Eh, no. I’m realistic. At the end of the day, I want to be healthy and happy and not full of guilt. My commitment is to do what makes my body and me feel happy and good. Spending time in the produce aisle and outside with my puppy helps me achieve that feeling. Today is the time to stop looking for that fast fix and spend more time cultivating a lifestyle of health and happiness.

Take flight and live!

a.

Find your peace

Find your peace

Taking charge

     With Christmas decorations popping up in stores and all the fall color quickly coming off the trees, I’ve been making sure Nellie and I enjoy the last days of warm, beautiful weather. Our days have been full of walks and tennis ball time. The other reason why I’ve tried to get outside more is because my semester is starting to get crazy with finals and I need some mini mental break times. Hence the crickets chirping on my blog site. I’ve put together my graduate innovation poster presentation on prevention and treatment solutions for childhood obesity by using social networking as a motivational and educational tool. In a month I’ll be presenting it at a nursing conference which I’m rather excited about. Maybe someday I’ll get to put my treatment tool into practice! I had no idea when I went to the Fitness and Health Social Media Conference in Denver last year I would be creating this innovation! Excited to see how life works out sometimes 🙂

     As the designated health guru of my family, I get lots of questions about diets, nutrition, exercise, joint pain, medications, and the latest “I heard this on the news the other day…..” My parents have always been open to leading a healthy lifestyle so getting them to change little habits usually isn’t hard. With the last round of cholesterol checks, both of them came back in the red. While they have a general idea of what needs to be done to change this problem, I decided to step in. Hello American Heart Association low cholesterol and low salt diet! I found some great cookbooks on Amazon and we’ve been talking about changes that could be made to their diets. Since I don’t have problems with high cholesterol, I’ve never really paid attention to it on nutrition labels. The American Heart Association recommends people with coronary artery disease to have less than 200 mg/cholesterol a day. When I started going through the fridge, I was surprised how fast that limit could be reached by lunchtime. However, I’ve already found some tasty looking recipes so I don’t think this transition will be hard. 

     I know I’ve mentioned this before but I love how I’m surrounded by other healthy bloggers and social networking fanatics who are so knowledgeable and passionate about making others health and fit. We’re able to using social networking to reach thousands of people a day with our healthy messages. I’ll agree that I want to be one of those people someday who is able to motivate the thousands to live a healthy lifestyle but now, I want to make sure I’m investing in those who mean the most to me. How about you? Are you making sure those you love are healthy and happy? Our families all have different needs and we are huge influences in how they live their life. So much of my research on childhood obesity linked parental influences with a child’s weight. Since I don’t have kids, I try to make sure my parents are staying caught up with the latest preventative and wellness recommendations. As a nurse, it’s important to have conversations with your parents about their health. You need to know your family medical history and how your parents are aging so you can plan for your own health needs. There is no better time than Thanksgiving when everyone is one place to start having these conversations 🙂 And with New Year’s resolutions coming up, maybe you can be the motivator in helping your family make the change!

What healthy habits have you started in your family? 

My goals update

October! My favorite time of year! It seems like every Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest I see is overloaded with pumpkin pie spice lattes, butternut squash soup, and last-minute marathons before winter hits. This marks the first year I’m not running a fall race which makes me so sad. Last year I did the Marine Corps Marathon in beautiful Washington, DC and I must say, you HAVE to run this race at least once. The course is absolutely beautiful and it’s super fun to see many of the DC landmarks. To make up for missing a race this fall, I am volunteering at the Kansas City Marathon. I’ve always wanted to give back the love I’ve gotten during my races and I thought this year would be a perfect opportunity. Now that it’s getting closer and I hear more of my friends entering, I think I’ll have a slightly sad heart. Oh well, more motivation for finding another great marathon! Speaking of which, does anyone have a great recommendation for an awesome winter race?

At the beginning of this semester, I talked a lot about my goals for the rest of the year. Since I’m deep into projects and tests, I thought I’d give an update of how it’s going. So far, my butt is still fitting into my jeans. Major goal accomplished! I have planned ahead making sure I have lots of fruit, precut veggies, yogurt, and other healthy snacks ready so I can grab and go. Making sure my fridge is stocked keeps me from relying on takeout. My stress level is WAAAYYYY down too. It really shouldn’t be. I had to scrap a research project this week and I’ve pulled a couple 36 hour days with no sleep. Major difference is I’m taking more time for friends when they want to get together and I’m taking lots of running/walking/get outside breaks. I’m also learning to make more short-term goals to accomplish big projects and if I do get stressed, I make sure I step away from the situation to breath and re-focus instead of letting the stress build up.

(This is my favorite breakfast right now- oatmeal with cinnamon, cherry preserves, chopped walnuts, and vanilla almond milk. It tastes almost like the cherry crunch dessert!)

Some obstacles I’ve met this semester is my sleep schedule. I’ve had some 36-hour no sleep days which are awful. I don’t recommend that and I hate that I try to practice being healthy but screw up my body this way. Some days are unavoidable with my night work schedule falling into a day class schedule which coincides with a test or paper. I want to be more proactive in managing my time so I don’t have this problem.  I also need to figure out better solutions to my carb cravings. I don’t believe eliminating anything, and as an active person, I need carbs. However, I don’t need a pan of mac and cheese. While I haven’t given into that craving, it’s a nagging thought all the time (mmmm, cheesy pasta).

Since I’m new to the blogging/social media world, this next tip might be well-known to all you super bloggers. One of biggest things that has helped me this semester is Twitter! Gotta say, I never saw that coming. Having just joined this year, Twitter has been amazing helping me stay motivated. It pushes me to stay fit, eat healthy, and find other people who have the same goals. I’ve loaded up my follow list with mostly fitness, health, and clean eating lovers. Their continual positive tweets through the day has motivated me more than once to work out or eat better. I really recommend doing the same if you need a little extra support in keeping your fitness and eating goals. Look for me on there too @TakeFlightLive

(Nellie- my other great motivator. When all of her balls are sitting at my feet and she’s giving me this stare, I know it’s time for a walk break.)

What is something surprising that has helped you stay motivated?

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?