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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Another chapter closed

December 21st, 2013. I am a graduate. My master’s degree is complete. The road has been long and there are no answers as to what the future holds for me next.  I am at peace.
Song of the open road- Walt Whitman

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

Finding my fight

Where do you find inspiration? Sometimes we have a story we want to share but just don’t have an idea how to bring up. It feels awkward or uncomfortable. The only thing to do is blurt it out with no introduction. This is one of those stories.

When I was a junior in highschool, life was awful. I don’t know why. I really feel like I woke up one day stuck in a giant, black sucking hole. No single event started this spiral so it was really hard fixing an issue that had no cause. This went on for months and it was getting to the point where I was going to graduate, go to college, and make some really crappy decisions. I was in one of those critical moments where my life was going to be altered and I could end up being a person I wasn’t supposed to be in a place far from where I was supposed to go. I was a hot mess of anorexia, bulimia, major depression, and contemplating suicide. Life was not going to get better. I was sad and alone with very little hope. I knew my parents were having a rough time watching this and they were also unsure what to do. I had no interest in going to counseling and really didn’t think anything would change me at that point. My parents were at a total loss but they knew I loved the outdoors and needed a challenge, both physically, emotionally, and mentally. For years I had read Backpacker and Outside magazine (yeah, my love for life in hiking boots started early) and had seen ads for different schools that taught enthusiasts how to climb, backpack, camp, and be guided into wild parts of the world. While I had casually mentioned this to my parents, there had never really seemed like a good time sign up for one of these schools. Until now. Enter Colorado Outward Bound School in Leadville, Colorado. While this wasn’t a place for troubled teens, there was no way one could spend a month in the wilderness camping and climbing, completely isolated from the world, and not experience some type of change.

This girl from Kansas suddenly found herself on the side of a 12,000 foot ridge in the middle of the Rockies, struggling under the weight of a 60 pound pack, gasping for air and energy, and wondering if being airlifted home was an option. Having spent months earlier wrecking my body with eating disorders, I really wasn’t the picture of fitness. Every day was a miserable, exhausting process of hiking and climbing for hours, unable to breathe, and trailing so far behind the group that one of the instructors would get stuck hiking with me so I wouldn’t get separated from everyone else. I couldn’t wait for lunch when I could inhale some cheese and crackers and then lay down and nap while everyone else enjoyed the scenery. My body was pissed. I was pissed. I hated feeling this weak. Finally one day, I think the instructors got tired of drawing straws of who would get to hike with me and so they put me up front to lead the group up the side of a mountain. Up to this point, the group had been lead by two guys, one a quarterback and the other a soccer player. They could go all day and not break a sweat. I could hear the silent groans of the group knowing we wouldn’t get any distance covered since I was in the lead. As I made my way up front, my chest was pounding. I could feel this surge of energy and suddenly I wanted to prove to myself and the group I could do this. Within seconds, dirt and rock was tumbling all around me as I carved a path out for the group. My legs and breathing settled into a rhythm and my eyes were locked on the top of the ridge. I could hear the group behind me making shocked comments wondering where I had been hiding this whole time. Pretty soon they were asking me to slow down. I waited until I heard the football and soccer player ask again before deciding to slow my pace. When we took a break on the ridge, everyone joked around that if we needed to get somewhere fast during the rest of the trip, they would just stick me up front. I knew there was a huge smile on my face but what others couldn’t see was all the screaming and jumping up and down that was going on inside of me. I was back and ready to fight. Our month-long trip was capped off by a 13 mile run up the 13,736 foot mountain, aptly named Mount Champion. I had never run before so the fact that I did a double challenge like this absolutely blew my mind. I came home a stronger, happier person who was ready to tackle the future.

Back in Kansas, the giant black hole that had engulfed my life was suddenly reduced to a grey rain puddle. It’s funny how when you’re happy, blue sky’s are everywhere. I was more confident having returned from Outward Bound and was suddenly making new friends and becoming more outgoing. The mental battles were still there but now I had a better support group. I loved how strong I had become living in the mountains hauling my possessions around so I wasn’t about to lose my muscle or my endurance. I started eating again and taught myself to take pride in being strong and building muscle instead of finding pleasure in how I could make size 0 pants bag from me. This was going to be a process that would take years to overcome and I needed to start learning. My interest in fitness and wellness started when I was about 6 years old at Christmas when I got my first pair of sand-filled weights, sweatband, and workout cassette. When I decided to become an exercise science major and get my license as a personal trainer, things just felt natural, like this was the path I was supposed to take all along.

I’ve gone back to Leadville many time since Outward Bound to camp, hike, and climb. One mountain, Elbert, has always eluded me. We were supposed to climb it during Outward Bound but had to change plans last-minute. Elbert is one of the tallest 14ers in the lower 48 states and on my summer adventure this year, I wanted to make it happen. This was my way of remembering where I have been and what I’ve done since my life changed in those mountains. I am very proud to say here are the views from the top….

My inspiration of mountain climbing might seem cheesy at first but it makes me think of everything that I went through in highschool and college. It was years of hard work making my body strong again, finding happiness, and conquering mental demons. Learning how to climb and finishing Outward Bound is one of the hardest things I’ve ever done physically. Beating my battle with depression, eating disorders, low confidence is the hardest thing I’ve ever done mentally. Staring at a jagged, sharp, towering slab of grey rock, sometimes so high up it’s hidden in the clouds, makes me think of how I’ve conquered my impossible. Whenever I’m at a point where I want to quit or I am wondering if it’s worth the work and misery, I think of the mountain tops I’ve sat on, and the absolute euphoric peace of knowing I made the right choice to keep fighting.

Taking Flight

 

Hi! I’m Andrea and this is my dog Nellie…..

On what was a normal walk down the drive for the morning paper, a little surprise popped up……

Isn’t she precious??!! How someone could have decided they didn’t want her is beyond me, but they did, and proceeded to dump her in my brother’s car. She was barely 4 months old but already full of love, happy tail wags, and puppy kisses.

Since then, I’ve made up for her traumatic appearance into this world. We take lots of these….

She’s also my running buddy and all around little shadow. Don’t let the pink polo fool you either; she’s a fierce protector.

So what’s up with this flight? Well, I used to be a personal trainer until I got tired of watching people do push ups so I became a registered nurse in a critical care unit. Now I take care of people who didn’t have personal trainers. While taking flight is another descriptor for running, I feel that it embodies what I want to live for and what I want other people to experience-happiness and wellness. Lots of focus is placed on hard bodies and the next hot diet and people forget that wellness embraces more than the physical. We also need to make sure we’re taking care of our social, spiritual, occupational, emotional, environmental, and intellectual self.

It has taken me awhile to get to this point in my life and I still need daily reminders not to forget about certain pillars of my wellness. I try to keep my life full of running, biking, hiking, adventurous travels, fresh cooked foods, great friends, and happiness. I want to encourage you in your flight of life and wellness while learning how you make this journey.  I don’t expect everyone to rock hiking boots and dirt-streaked legs. I’m pretty realistic knowing that this is not everyone’s thing. However, I do hope you have a daily moment where you do something that benefits you and your body. It’s time to take flight and live!!

What is your daily moment for your body?