Category Archives: Uncategorized

Monday Advice: Set Realistic Expectations

Alright, I’m calling myself on my own bull crap. About a month ago I posted on sleeping soundly. Skim it over here. It basically maps out a bedtime routine to make sure that you sleep soundly. Each of the activities work together to help your brain and body settle down but never have I ever done all these things, in a row, in the same night.

While I believe that a bedtime routine is absolutely necessary, this post is bull crap! Setting aside an entire hour for a pre-bed routine? No way Jose. No one has that much time, including myself. So, I herby promise to never post any kind of advice that I don’t do regularly and with success. Scouts honor.

This leads me into my tidbit of advice for the day: set yourself realistic goals. If you have a big goal in mind, make sure it’s far enough in the future to break it down into little, reachable, daily goals. I find that setting the bar at a height that I can stretch to reach is a great way to motivate myself and to make sure I don’t have any excuses.

^ This is me! Thanks for sending me this pic Ma.

How could you not smile at those baby buns?

Comfy and Supportive Ballet Flats. WHAT?!?

You all know this blog is based on the fact that I’m poor and, therefore, creative with my money. But sometimes, it’s just worth skipping Goodwill and going straight to the new stuff. This is one such instance.

I work at a health center where I’m on my feet for up to 8 hours a day. However, I also have to dress business casual. This means ballet flats or something like it and ballet flats suck! They’re terrible for your feet, your posture, and they just plain hurt. So I began the hunt for a pair of plats that were comfy, cheap, and last a very long time. I found them!

Believe it or not, these are Crocs! They’re comfortable, lightweight, and they conform to my foot the more I wear them. I’ve always shunned Crocs because they’re not the most attractive shoe but now I get it. I love them. I’m usually a size 9.5 women’s or 41 Euro. Crocs only sell round number sizes. I ordered a 9 and a 10 from DSW online, then returned the 10 because the 9 fit perfectly! And, get this, they’re only $35. Heck YES.

I’ve been wearing them for a week now and, while there’s a little bit of a breaking in period, they’re the most comfortable ballet flats I’ve ever worn. And I get at least one compliment on them per day.

Here’s the link to DSW order form:  http://www.dsw.com/shoe/crocs+women’s+springi+flat?prodId=246807

Hope you’re all having happy days! Smile, they’re contagious 🙂

On the heels of yesterday’s blog post, I saw this amazing post from Strong-Fit-Beautiful. She explains a beginner’s running tips so well that I had to reblog it. Happy Labor Day and enjoy!

Strong-Fit-Beautiful

My cousin Maggie emailed me the other day asking for suggestions for beginning runners. She had read my story and knew that the whole running thing didn’t exactly come easy to me … but once I knew I could do it, I quickly became addicted to that runner’s high!

The fact is, there are two mistakes many people make when they first start running (and they are easily corrected!): expecting it to be easy from day one, and doing more than your body is ready for. I’ll admit it: I’m not the most patient person when it comes to getting the hang of something (if you’d ask my former trainers how I would react to something I couldn’t get right away, they’d probably just laugh … because I would actually get angry at myself if I didn’t pick it up the first try. For the record, by the third try…

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Remember?

I had planned to post the recipe of dinner last night but then I watched this video my grandma sent me.

My generation has been so lucky to not have faced a war on our home turf, we can only imagine what it must be like in the Middle East. But when we did get attacked, boy did we band together. Remember how we all promised always to remember?

This video is a little long but just clear your next 10 minutes and watch it, trust me.
 

As a first generation American (my parents are both British), I have always struggled to find my American pride. I know this sounds awful but I only really ever noticed the bad things about the US. About five years ago, when I really started to travel, I realized how wonderful a place this is. We all know the freedoms and all that stuff but what about all the different cultures you can find here in this one giant country? And the people, wow the people here can be so awesome. America has been in a bit of a rut over the last few years but it’s the people here, the millions of different cultures and points of views, that will eventually float our heads back above water.

Don’t forget to smile today, they’re contagious 🙂

A Word for the Interested

I love my job. I started there very recently and already feel at home in our office. My daily routine consists of some event planning, some public outreach, some charity work, and A LOT of helping people get healthy. Its awesome! Work doesn’t feel like work, just a mission to change the health of our community one family at a time.

It also has the added benefit of motivating me to get healthier and stay that way. I’ve been referring some of our patients to this blog for help with easy recipes, tips for keeping up with workouts, and some inspiration thrown in there.

Just a word for the interested though: I am on a journey to health just like every person reading this (hopefully). My diet and exercise regime is a work in progress. In fact, I don’t think my pursuit of a healthier lifestyle will ever end. I am so happy that I started my education on health and fitness at a young age (thanks Ma and Pop) and just continue to learn as much as possible and better my health every day.

This blog is not intended as an example of perfection, just a show of the baby steps it takes to achieve a healthier, sustainable lifestyle. SUSTAINABLE being the key word. It’s a struggle for all of us but the key is to take it one day, one step at a time so that backward steps rarely happen.

Every once in a while I will outline my goals for the upcoming months so you guys can know what I’m working at. But stick with me and hopefully it will help you to know that someone is struggling right along with you.

Have a happy day, and don’t forget to smile! They’re contagious.

Tips to End the Tossing and Turning

I was talking to a friend of mine this morning and she said that like me and so so so many other people, she has a lot of trouble falling asleep at night. She often works the late shift and ends up falling asleep on the couch. I can commiserate with her on this because, with the stress of life comes an inability to relax. So, when my friend comes home, it takes her so long to relax that by the time she slows down, she’s already asleep!

I’ll tell you guys exactly what I told her: the key to falling asleep and staying asleep is a bedtime routine. It works just as well as when we were 5 years old.

My routine starts about an hour before I want to fall asleep:

9pm – Sip some chamomile tea (with an ice-cube because I’m too impatient to let it cool down) while I write a short entry in my personal diary.

9.15pm – Draw a warm bath. Throw in some epsom salts if you had a hard workout that day, it aids in muscle recovery.

9.30pm – Settle into bed with my fan on (wind helps me sleep) and earplugs in my ears (see below). I find some trivial summer romance novel or something similar to calm my brain and take it away from work.

10pm – Hopefully I’ve drifted off to sleep and can wake up at 6am ready for a workout!

^These earplugs changed my life. They were originally made to keep the water out of swimmer’s ears but are incredible at keeping out noise. I was uncomfortable at first because you basically seal off your ear cavity and I was scared I wouldn’t get them out. But I did! And 5 years later, I still use them every day. The best part: you can get them at any drug store for very cheap!

Helpful Hints:

– Keep a notebook next to your bed to write any thoughts that may be spinning around your head. I often have my best creative ideas right before bed and they’re always there waiting for when I wake up!

– Sleep with a heating pad near your body, the warmth continues the relaxation from the bath.

– Sprinkle a few drops of lavender on your pillow, the smell and its effects are amazing.

– Never fall asleep and stay asleep on the couch or with the TV on. It’s important to separate the sleep zone from the unwinding zone.

– Also, never do anything but sleep and baby making in your bed; including eating and watching TV. Don’t mix zones!

^My bedside table complete with a “night-time notebook.”

Weird Dreaming: Time Travel, Trucks, and Tunnels

Alright here’s another update for the HappyLass Weird Dream Journal:

I find myself standing at a large intersection yelling across the street to my mom who is yelling into a sewer grate to my aunt who is apparently waiting down there for a train. This must be a very high-speed, walk-on-water, need-no-fuel kind of train because it will, I assume, take her home to Australia.Then, because she can’t hear me, she pops her head out of the manhole cover and yells that she loves me, and she’s off!

I guess my family had been traveling together but now, I’m transported a few days ahead and everyone is gone. I’m in a different city than anywhere I’ve ever been and I’m standing in the middle of about five people frantically planning in the last hour before a big party. I have a big crisis about what I’m going to wear. I don’t have anything nice in my tiny suitcase!

While I’m getting dressed in a semi-suitable but really cute dress (I actually own it in real life) I watch the party setter-uppers construct this really long, really awesome pedestrian bridge/tunnel across the yard. It goes from nowhere to nowhere. All of a sudden I hear a bunch of honking and, for some reason, one lane of traffic has been diverted through the party yard. Every car manages to dodge the various obstacles but a huge semi appears on the lawn and screeches to a halt. It fishtails straight into the tunnel! NO! Its ruined! How will we make everything look good before the party starts in the hour? I have a flash of happiness that I don’t have to worry about it because it’s not my party.

Then I hear music. Its our radio alarm clock.

Some Inspiration

I’m back in Illinois! It’s so wonderful to be back with my man but I woke up this morning to a head full of jet lag, a computer full of work, and a desk full of bills. Also, my finances suffered greatly this month from me being away. I’m seriously struggling to find some inspiration so I turn to a great book my friend gave me as a graduation gift. Here is one of the quotes in it:

“Nothing has to happen for me to feel good.

I feel good because I’m alive [and healthy]!

Life is a gift, and I revel in it.”

-Tony Robbins

I’m just gonna keep that in my back pocket for the rest of the day. Maybe you should too?

Anxiety to Depression and Back to Life

Confession: I have terrible anxiety. Most of my loved ones know this about me but many others do not. I have never felt the need to tell strangers, until now. Maybe it will help more people learn to deal with it as I did.

Misconceptions: Most people equate anxiety to a singular, fleeting feeling, like being nervous. That is one definition of anxiety but it’s definitely not the only one. People can range from mild to severely anxious but it’s my personal belief that a large percentage of the population have very bad anxiety and haven’t yet recognized it.

My Case: I have always been a very detail-oriented, conscientious, and organized person. I am always looking to the next step so that I can be prepared for whatever life throws at me (I’m one of those people who carries an entire survival kit in my purse). However, when I started college, things escalated. I found that my brain would never turn off. There was no point in my day when I could just sit down and think, “Hm, that was a great day, now I’m going to sit down and relax.” My brain never stopped so neither would I. It’s hard to explain to people without this condition but it was like a movie reel that just kept spinning and spinning even though there was no film left. Even after my endless to-do lists had finally been accomplished my psyche would make up new things to think about. It was awful.

By the time I was 20, I was plagued by such overwhelming anxiety that all I could do was cry. A lot. My frustration just turned into sadness at the thought that I would never, ever be able to relax. I dove into a deep depression that stopped me from enjoying my life. It must be said that I am one of the most selfless people you’ll ever meet (obviously I’m not quite as humble, haha). I would never take my own life because of the pain it would cause my family and friends, but it was during this few months that I understood people who try to commit suicide.

Thankfully, I have an incredible support system. My family was available to talk over the phone anytime and I had an amazing boyfriend who would have done anything to see me smile. (I think every one has support like this, they just have to accept it.) The problem was that not one of my supporters truly understood what I was going through. After a couple of months, I knew I had to figure this one out for myself.

My Solution: Therapy. < my mom correctly pointed out that therapy was only one small part of the solution. Actually, it was a combination of self analysis, exercise, forgiveness, and therapy. The problem was that I’m from San Diego and only had emergency health insurance in Boston where I lived. So I did some research and found a group of doctors that provided help for only a much as I could pay. I scheduled my first appointment with Dr. Linda Puretz and the healing process began. I was still really busy with school and work so I only saw Dr. Linda once every two weeks but just that little bit started the ball rolling.

For about 1/8 of her normal hourly rate (that was all I could afford), she helped me practice coping mechanisms like muscle relaxation and meditation. But that was just a fraction of what I had to do for myself. I began exercising on a more regular basis but instead of focusing on weight loss I did it for mental health. I would use those workouts to clear my head of everything but technique and breathing. I also found yoga videos for really cheap online and started doing yoga and guided meditation whenever I was feeling overwhelmed. But most of all, I started to forgive myself. I started to realize that being productive wasn’t everything in life and that sometimes, the best moments and opportunities result from relaxed downtime. I just stopped putting so much pressure on myself. Pressure to be smarter, faster, skinnier, funnier, and more appealing to everyone else. I started to try to be HEALTHY. In mind and body.

Step Two: Although I had finally broken the loop, anxiety still floated around in my head like a free agent, looking for something to destruct. When I started grad school, it struck again. The combination of financial worries and intense academic obligations sprung up all those precursors to depression. Because of my self-analysis years before, I recognized the warning signs and took action immediately, before things could get worse. My mom had recently also been through some weird mental stuff and tried a new method, hormone medicine, or bioidenticals.

I still had three months before I got home to see our doctor so I started taking some depression medication. It definitely pacified my erratic thoughts but dulled my personality and zest for life. I was so excited to get the hormone testing when I got home in December.

December break finally arrived and I got my blood tested for my hormone levels. It turns out that I had almost no estrogen or progesterone in my system. Both things contribute to lack of relaxation and lower energy levels. Dr. Kelly Austin at California Natural Health in San Diego analyzed my hormone levels and prescribed me a couple of creams which I now apply, twice daily, to my arm and leg skin. Within 30 days, my anxiety had become manageable again. YAY!! I am still on the hormones one year later and consult with Dr. Austin every three months to make sure my anxiety and energy levels are on track, along with a host of other things that are affected by hormones. Also, it should be mentioned that hormone imbalance can affect any person of any age or sex. It can be pretty expensive to get tested but I know there are payment plans and it is seriously worth it. Just your nearest health center and ask some questions!

Finally: Its been three years since I pulled myself out of depression and one year since I started hormone treatment. Unfortunately, depression and anxiety are similar to addiction and it never actually goes away. I have learned to recognize the warning signs and to reign myself in when my thoughts get out of control. I still exercise regularly and practice some preventative yoga so that my brain never forgets how to relax. I learned an incredible amount from that period in my life but what I want to shout to the world is this: Every life has the potential to be wonderful, no matter your finances, family, or genetics; but every sad person has to find the strength to break their vicious cycle before they can improve their lives.

Something Fun: On a totally different note, I am on vacation with my family in Santa Cruz right now and I got to visit one of my best friends, Katie! We raced bikes together in college and now she works at Specialized (the biggest bike company in the US) in San Jose. We got to tour the office and everything! I am so insanely jealous of her work place.

20120816-145026.jpg^ yep, it’s a building INSIDE a building. With a fire hydrant and a car and everything!

ps. If anyone else can relate to this post, please have the courage to comment. Put yourself out there so you can help others.

Day One: Nightmares?

Today is day one of my blogging initiative! I’m pretty excited but also a little scared about it. I really want to commit to this and I’m nervous that my busy life will get in the way. My intention is that this blog be part personal journal, part exercise record, and part public inspiration. Hopefully I can hold myself accountable by writing: I will log one entry per day, every day, into oblivion. There! Wrote it, now I will have to do it. So thank you for reading Day  One. I hope you enjoy.

I live in Peoria, Illinois with my boyfriend (lets call him Mike) and our two guinea pigs (lets call them Elvis and Stinky Pete because those are their actual names).

^ Elvis

Mike works an amazing 40+ hour a week job at a major machine manufacturing company and I work as the Marketing Manager of a Chiropractic Office. This situation is brand new to us since we moved from Boston mid-June. However, right this second, I’m at home in San Diego for 17 days staying with my parents and two sisters, my brother is studying (and partying) in London at the moment.

^ Boston to Peoria= sweet trip to Niagara Falls

Anyway! I’m not sure if its the added stress of college loans kicking in and me being on vacation or the fact that I’m back under someone else’s roof but I’ve been having some HORRIBLE nightmares. And not just one or two a night but several that wake me up and keep me up. Who wants to go back to sleep after being kidnapped and having their throat slit?? Not me. So began the experiment to end my nightmares without multiple glasses of wine before bed.

Experiment so far: eat dinner very early, around 6pm; then a snack around 8.30pm; a small dessert around 10pm; and then a cup of tea. And definitely only comedy television and absolutely no thriller reading to knock me out. So far, this has resulted in milder nightmares. Instead of dreaming about kidnapping and murder, last night I dreamt that I couldn’t afford clothes in America so I stole a scooter, drove down to Mexico, and went on a shopping spree. There wasn’t any room in the scooter for all my new clothes so I stuffed them all down my pants to drive back to America. I got robbed at the border (which was interesting because the thieves had to reach down my pants) but all the got were a few pairs of new socks. I finally got home safe and sound only to find that, while down there, I had apparently covered my body in trashy tribal tattoos.

That last one was weird but I basically woke up, thought “WHAT THE HELL?” and then went back to sleep. This is progress!

Question: Any ideas for getting rid of nightmares without the aid of alcohol or drugs?