Resolutions | 2015

Meant to be

So here we are!  2014 is rapidly coming to an end and we are facing the excitement of a new year.  I really like New Years.  I like the surge people feel to let go of the past and place hope in the future.  There are few times throughout the year where it is so common for people to evaluate what they want in their life and actually make a list of changes they want to make.

Interestingly, there are some themes among the New Years Resolutions that thousands of people make every year.  Some of the most common resolutions are:

  1. Lose weight
  2. Quit smoking
  3. Save money and get out of debt
  4. Learn a new language or skill
  5. Be more environmentally friendly
  6. Volunteer more or give to a charity
  7. Travel
  8. Be less stressed

Sound familiar?  I know I have set some of those same goals before.  Wanna know why they are so popular?  Because they are great goals!  They are all about focusing on yourself, improving your health, expanding your mind, getting your finances under control and giving to others.  This list shows me that most people want to be an overall better person each year and that is really inspiring.

Unfortunately, studies have shown that only 8% of people accomplish their New Years resolutions over the next year and only 46% of resolutions make it past June.  I was told by a coworker today that they do not set New Years resolutions because they don’t stick to them and it just makes them feel bad.  Why are New Years resolutions different from the goals you may set in say, April?  Or August?

Don't figure it all out

There is so much pressure associated with New Years resolutions.  It must be the hugeness (that’s a word right?) of the entire year ahead.  Maybe we feel like, because we have 12 months to accomplish these goals, there is no excuse not to achieve them.  And given the amount of time ahead, we set HUGE goals – losing weight and managing your finances are no small tasks.  We become so overwhelmed with excitement for the possibilities that we create overwhelming expectations for ourselves.

Setting huge, overwhelming, scary goals is so good for the soul.  I think we need to set goals for ourselves that stretch our imagination for our lives, for who we can be.  The New Year presents this amazing opportunity to really become a new person.  This is who you were in 2014, and the New Year just screams this is who you can be.  What we have to remember, however, are the many small steps that are required to achieve huge goals.  And we need to appreciate every step of progress we make toward those goals, no matter how small.

So if you want to lose 15 pounds in 2015, remember you have to lose 1 pound first.  Celebrate when you clean out your cabinets and fridge and replace junk food with fresh produce.  Heck, celebrate the ONE day you swap those chips for an apple.  Those are all steps toward a healthier you and need to be honored.  And on December 31, 2015, if you haven’t lost 15 pounds, but did lose 7 – C E L E B R A T E.  You made some changes and started down a path that you wanted to go down.

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New Years does not need to be your only opportunity to set huge goals.  You have 364 other amazing days to evaluate your life and reflect on what you want.  Take time throughout the year to look back at your New Years resolutions and decide if those are still goals you want to accomplish.  How do they fit into your life 4 months later?  If they still capture what you want to achieve, take a look at how far you have come.  If you haven’t even started those small steps necessary to begin a resolution, take a hard look at what’s stopping you.  Remember why you set that goal in the first place.  And most importantly, be kind to yourself.  Be gentle when life throws you curve balls and you have to let go of some things in order to cope with more pressing matters.

You’ve set huge resolutions for yourself because you deserve to achieve AMAZING things this year.  I wish you the very best tonight, tomorrow, and always and I can’t wait to hear about what you have planned for 2015 ❤

scottileona@gmail.com

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My Journey to Healthy and Happy, Part 1

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As I sit in my apartment in Portland, roasting Kabocha squash and cooking quinoa, watching silly TV, and thinking about the details of the marathon I am running in 2 days, I can’t help but reflect on how much my life has changed in the last 4 years.

I had started my career in social work by working and volunteering throughout college and felt I was so lucky to have found a field of work I was passionate about.  What I wasn’t prepared for, however, was the emotional and physical toll I was putting on myself by simply doing too much for others.  I poured myself into my work and left little space for me.  On top of that, I was living in an expensive city and had to work two jobs after college to cover rent.  This left me a depressed, confused, and anxious young lady, not to mention the extra weight I had gained.  When Nick and I moved to Portland, we knew things had to be different in order for both of us to sustain our health and well-being while I attended graduate school for social work and public health.

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We took the opportunity of a new city and the unknown world we were entering to make some big life changes.  After a stressful couple of years, we took a step back and realized we had neglected ourselves, which greatly impacted our health and our relationship.  We had each put on at least 35 pounds and were no longer comfortable in our own skin.  We didn’t know that much about nutrition, but Nick had the Beachbody programs p90x and Insanity.  He did p90x for a while, got into the habit of exercising regularly and started to see some results.  He then started Insanity and I will never forget the day he told me I should start with p90x because he thought Insanity was too intense for me!  I’m the type of person who takes the doubts of others as motivation, so I immediately processed his advice as a challenge.

I started doing p90x work outs and slowly learning about purchasing whole foods and preparing food at home as much as possible.  At first the progress and my focus was slow.  By the summer of 2011, Nick and I were getting the hang of Portland life and I decided to go all in with my health and fitness.  I started Insanity and tried Shakeology for the first time.  I quickly realized how amazing I felt when I spent an hour a day doing something that was only for me.  Not only was I feeling stronger and so accomplished after each work out, but all those extra pounds I had acquired were coming off.  I replaced one meal a day with Shakeology and continued to learn about nutrition and clean eating.  I also started connecting with people who were also doing Beachbody programs and found myself as part of a community FULL of positive people who have the same passion for healthy and learning how to live their best life possible.

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As I continued through graduate school, I continued to incorporate exercise and healthy eating in my everyday life.  I’m not going to lie, it was tough.  I was working on two Master’s degrees, completing internships for school, AND working full time.  To fit this all in, I had work, school, or internships every day of the week.  There was a time when I would take a vacation day from work so I would get ONE day off in a month.  During my third and final year of grad school, I was working nights on top of completing school.  It was an absurd and unsustainable schedule, but I had to make it work.  In order to keep myself sane and healthy, I kept working out and learning about healthy eating and included those two things in my schedule just like I would a class or work.  I would find those couple of hours that were free each day to squeeze in a work out, cook, and pack meals to bring to work and school.  I kept at it because I could see and feel what exercise and healthy eating was doing not only for my body, but for my mind too!

Since the start of my journey to health and happiness, I have lost 35 pounds.  I have learned SO much about food and nutrition and I am no longer intimidated by farmer’s markets or the unfamiliar foods I may get in my CSA box.  I also don’t feel lost around a yoga mat, a set of dumbbells, or a stability ball.  I have run 8 half marathons and am a few days from completing my first full marathon.  I have been able to tackle longer and longer distances in my running because of the confidence that I have gained by completing work out programs like p90x and Insanity.  I have gained confidence in my body’s ability to endure and take great comfort in the community I have surrounded myself with that supports me wholeheartedly in reaching these goals.  I have literally watched muscles appear on my body.  This confidence transfers into other areas of my life as well, allowing me to feel more comfortable taking risks and making tough decisions at work.  Most importantly, I have learned how to balance my extremely hectic work life with time for myself.  I spend an hour every morning focusing on both my physical and mental strength and when I eat well, I know I am appreciating myself and my body.

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And I have done all of this from the comfort of my own home.  Nick and I now have an arsenal of work out programs and have been steadily building our home gym equipment, despite the tiny size of our apartment!  During the times when we were flat broke and could never have afforded gym memberships, having the option to purchase a complete work out program that we could use over and over again was amazing.  I still love working out at home.  My morning commute from bed to “the gym” is about 15 seconds, leaving zero room for excuses when I’m not feeling up for it.

What started as a challenge to complete that intense program from the infomercials has led to a whole new lifestyle for my partner and me.  We focus on our health, focus on time together and on creating balance between work and our other interests.  I am in a much better state of mind and can recognize when I need to take a break from the city or work life and get to the mountains.  It’s been a difficult, eye-opening, and rewarding journey that I still only see in the beginning stages.  I continue to strive to learn more, love more, and push myself farther.  Thank you to all of you who support me and join me in my journey to happy and healthy ❤

Get Outside!: The Health Benefits of Hiking

The drive from Portland to Bend

The drive from Portland to Bend

Hey hey!  We are two days into our recovery from Memorial Day Weekend and I hope you had a relaxing weekend filled with friends, food, and fun.  Nick, Reymie (the dog), and I headed out to Bend, OR for the first time.  Bend is known for its high desert climate and its close proximity to the Cascade Mountain range, as well as its many craft breweries and its dog friendliness!  In fact, Dog Fancy Magazine named Bend “DogTown USA” in 2012!  When we heard amazing hiking, a huge cycling community, craft beer and a love for dogs, we knew this was a city we needed to visit!

IMG_4449On Sunday we hiked around Tumalo Falls in Deschutes National Forest and managed to find some of the last bits of snow.  Snow makes Reymie super hyper and she had a blast catching snow balls!

Reymie catching snowballs!

Reymie catching snowballs!

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On our way back to Portland on Monday, we stopped at Smith Rock State Park and hiked around there.  Wanting a good workout, we chose the trail named “Misery Ridge Trail” and it did not disappoint!  We left with that calm feeling you get after spending time in natural spaces and sore legs and glutes!

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That evening I was reading the latest Fitness Magazine and came across this fun fact:

“Being physically active in green space outdoors improves mood and strengthens self-esteem, both of which are major motivators, according to research from the University of Essex in the United Kingdom.  Even better: It takes only five minutes to reap the feel-good benefits, so do a lap around a park.”  – Fitness Magazine, June 2013.

Hiking and many other outdoor activities can be a regular part of your cardio workouts and exercise routine.  Regular aerobic exercise (defined as “exercise that increases the need for oxygen,” so it gets your heart rate up) has many many health benefits including:

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Family portrait 🙂

  • Reduced depression
  • Better quality of sleep
  • Improved muscular fitness
  • Lower risk of coronary heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol, osteoporosis, and colon and breast cancer
  • Improves arthritis
  • Relieves back pain

Doing “moderate-intensity” aerobic exercise, where you can talk but you can’t sing during the activity, for 2.5 hours a week leads to most of the benefits listed above.  You can spread that 2.5 hours throughout the week or dedicate one weekend morning to a brisk walk through your neighborhood or out in the nearest natural area. Of course, the more time you spend doing aerobic exercise, the more health benefits you will reap.

Hiking can burn 370 calories an hour (more or less depending on how quick you are walking and your age/weight/height/etc) and makes you work almost every part of your body, including your legs, core, arms, and back, and improves your balance.  In addition to the physical health benefits of hiking, it also promotes a general sense of well-being and can have a huge impact on your mental health.

Walking and hiking causes the release of endorphins, which are natural tranquilizers and “feel good” calming chemicals.  It also releases adrenaline from the body.  If adrenaline isn’t released, it accumulates and causes muscle tension and feelings of anxiety.  Studies of walkers have shown immediate decreases in tension, anxiety and blood pressure, regardless of how fast or slow the participants walked.  In the University of Essex study mentioned above, 75% of the people that engaged in outdoor activities such as hiking saw reduced feelings of tension, anger and depression and 68% of study participants reported increased levels of self-esteem.

Now that it is almost summer (in many parts of the country, it already IS summer!), get outside!  Go for daily walks with your kids, pets, partners or friends.  Take your lunch break at work outside and find a grassy area to sit and eat.  Look up nearby hiking areas here and explore on the weekends.  Seek out vacations and get-aways that offer a lot of outdoor activities.  Going camping is way cheaper than staying in hotels in far away cities, so its a great way to get out of town on a budget.  Not only will your mind thank you, but your work out routine will have an added boost of excitement and newness which will keep you engaged and motivated.  ❤

For more information, see: The Good Hiker, American Hiking Society, and Live Strong.

All SMILES in the park!

All SMILES in the park!

Running in Santa Barbara and the Vernonia Half Marathon!

Today was the Vernonia Half Marathon, the race I have been training for over the last 10 weeks!  After such a magnificent run last weekend in Santa Barbara, CA, I was skeptical about experiencing an equally beautiful course this weekend, but Vernonia, OR did not disappoint.

My training for this run was better than my previous runs.  I was consistent, mixed in a lot of cross training with p90x and Insanity, and didn’t let school, work, or the rain become an excuse to slack off.  I also learned to recognize progress and not allow my perfectionism to get in the way of appreciating my hard working body.

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101N, driving to my grandparents’ house

Breakfast at Grandma and Papa's

Breakfast at Grandma and Papa’s

As mentioned above, I got the opportunity to sneak in a training run in Santa Barbara while visiting my family there, and it really made me fall in love with running all over again.  After 9 weeks of running about 4 times/week, it was starting to feel like a bit of a chore and some days, I wasn’t running simply because I wanted to.  Do you ever feel like being tied to a schedule makes activities just a part of your ever-growing to-do list?  That is what happened during training this time around.  The run in Santa Barbara, however, gave me sweeping views of the ocean and mountains, a calm quiet atmosphere with the soothing sound of the ocean, and an adventure through the town where I met the love of my life.  Nick and I met while attending college at UCSB and revisiting it with him is always filled with nostalgia.  After the run, we did some push ups on the grass and got smoothies at a local favorite, Blenders in the Grass.  The rest of the day was spent with my grandparents, mom and cousin.  It was a centering and rejuvenating weekend, for sure.

A laid back run with lots of time to take pictures

A laid back run with lots of time to take pictures

Always being silly.

Always being silly.

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The Vernonia Half Marathon did not have incredible views of the Pacific Ocean, but it provided a beautiful run along a paved path surrounded by green mossy trees and a lake.  Unfortunately, I did not get many pictures of the course because I was concentrated on knocking out my best time for 13.1 miles!

On the bus from the parking area to the starting line.  When was the last time you were on a school bus?!?

On the bus from the parking area to the starting line. When was the last time you were on a school bus?!?

I had set out to complete this half marathon in 2 hours or less and after the first 9 miles, Nick and I were definitely on track to do just that.  However, a short time after passing mile marker

Walking to the starting line.

Walking to the starting line.

9, I was painfully reminded that I had obtained some pretty gnarly blisters last weekend while running in Santa Barbara and I had forgotten to put mole skin on those spots for this run.  For some reason, I got blisters on the insole of each foot last weekend and, because they had healed quickly last week, I completely forgot about them!  Although I had forgotten, my feet definitely did not and at the crucial part in the race, my insoles were on fire and each step was becoming increasingly painful.  As usual for me, when one thing goes wrong I immediately start thinking the entire project is ruined and my mind went into self-doubting, quitter mode.  The last 4 miles were a brutal combination of growing blisters and Debbie Downer thoughts, until Nick patiently walked with me, listened to my frustrations, and said, “This is just for fun and you are doing amazing.”  He also reminded me not to push so hard that I can’t do another run and I started to feel better although I could feel the minutes ticking closer and closer to that 2 hour mark I had set for myself.

Super gross foot picture!  It hurts a heck of a lot worse than it looks.

Super gross foot picture! It hurts a heck of a lot worse than it looks.

We ended up finishing in 2 hours and 11 minutes, which is by far the fastest I have run 13.1 miles.  I completed the Columbia River Gorge Half Marathon in October 2012 in 2 hours and 24 minutes, and although this course was a lot less hilly, I am still so proud of those 13 minutes I shaved off my time!  Looking at my splits, I am also stoked about how the race started out and am ok with the abrupt slow-down at the end given the pain I was in.  This was “just for fun” and I continue to learn things about long distance running to apply next time!

After the race, we met up with some friends who just completed a two day bicycling excursion for some beers (none for me, I had work this afternoon/evening!) and ridiculously huge burritos!  I am now hobbling around work with bandaged blisters and a tight IT band, but am feeling accomplished and looking forward to my next fitness adventure: p90x 2!  …and maybe another race 🙂

Refueling to the extreme.

Refueling to the extreme.

Appreciating Progress

Dave's Killer Bread Good Seed Bagel, cream cheese, capers, smoked salmon and lemon pepper.

Dave’s Killer Bread Good Seed Bagel, cream cheese, capers, smoked salmon and lemon pepper.

I woke up Sunday morning amped about my long run in my half marathon training schedule.  My training schedule called for 12 miles, which is the longest run until the race.  I have reached week 7 of my 10 week schedule and in the next few weeks leading up to the race, my runs are a bit shorter.  Because Sunday’s run would’ve been the closest distance I will run to 13.1 before the big day, it was my opportunity to test out my pre-run meals, clothing, chews or gels, and gauge where I am in my timing.  So with great anticipation, I prepped delicious oats and half a bagel with cream cheese and smoked salmon, picked a good Slacker Radio Station on my phone (lately, my running mix has been courtesy of the Of Monsters and Men Slacker station), and headed out for my half marathon test run.

Mile 1 went by with ease in 8 minutes and 49 seconds.

Mile 2 was similar.

Mile 3 slowed down a bit to 9 minutes 37 seconds.

Then things got ugly.  My legs felt like lead and my ab workout from Saturday left my core, especially my hip flexors, too fatigued to traverse the hilly neighborhoods I had chosen.  By Mile 6 I was at a 10 minute 15 second pace and negative thoughts about my ability to even finish a race started to creep in.  By the time I got to 10.5 miles, I was walking frequently and my mind and legs were on fire.  I was worried if I continued to push with poor form I would injure myself and that would really put a wrench in training.210

I finished the run at 10.8 miles and an hour and 50 minutes.  I felt defeated and frustrated about my time and my inability to finish.  I was angry and immediately began to go through all the ways I may have messed up in the last 7 weeks.  After the anger and frustration subsided, I realized mentally beating myself up was not going to help me improve my running or prepare for this race.  What would help, however, was reflecting on things I might do differently before a long run.

  1. Sleep: I worked until 3am that morning, and although I slept for 8 hours, it was still not my normal sleep schedule.  My work schedule has really been throwing me off, leaving me exhausted during my work week and I can definitely feel a difference in my natural energy level on the nights that I can go to bed at a more reasonable time (10pm).  The few days and night before the half marathon, I will not be working so I can get sleep at the times that feel most natural to my body.
  2. Exercise:  I missed a 4 mile run on Friday of that week, so I moved it to Saturday and decided to do sprints during those 4 miles.  I also did p90x Ab Ripper X prior to that run.  When I woke up Sunday, I had the usual soreness in my core from doing those workouts.  This soreness, however, was just enough to make my muscles fatigued quickly and I learned my lesson in taking rest days before a long run.  The day before the half marathon, I certainly will not be doing any strenuous exercise.
  3. Inner Peace: When I started to slow down on Sunday, my mind immediately filled with thoughts of self-doubt.  I thought about how “unprepared” I was and I recounted all the miles I might have missed in the last 7 weeks and which muscle groups I should have been strength training.  I truly believe these thoughts made me quit long before my legs were ready.  It wasn’t until I was home and stretching that I was able to think about the multitude of positive changes I have seen in my body and my fitness.  I realized that taking time to appreciate how far I have come already will be the most important thing I do as I finish training and run that race in 3 weeks.

IMG_3626When I started to take stock of all the progress I have made, I remembered that just one week prior, I had completed the Portland Shamrock 15k (9.3 miles) SIX MINUTES and 18 SECONDS faster than I did in 2012.  That is a huge improvement!  Also, I was upset about not finishing 1.2 miles on Sunday after already running 10.8.  When I put things into perspective, I felt a little ridiculous about being such a downer on myself, and started to appreciate the hard work I have been putting in to my fitness and health.  This appreciation led to a new confidence in my ability to not only complete this upcoming race, but dominate it!

Don’t forget to appreciate your accomplishments, no matter how big or small, and continue to look forward to just how far you’ll go.

With love ❤

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Find Time, Make Time

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I am often asked how I find time to exercise and prepare and eat healthy foods while I juggle full time work and full time graduate school, which includes 30+ hours/week of work, 16 hours/week of field placement and about 7-10 hours of classroom time (not including reading and homework time!).  My schedule is jam packed, and there is usually at least 1 day per week where I am out of my house for 12+ hours.  Yet, I still make time to exercise 30-90 minutes 4-6 days each week and eat clean and healthy foods.  You may be thinking I am crazy, but I believe you are totally capable of taking care of your body through exercise and nutrition no matter how busy your life gets!

Here are some of the key tactics I use to stay on track!

  • photo-8Make Your Health a Priority:  Just like I make sure I go to class, show up to work on time, and pay my bills, I make exercise and healthy eating a priority in my daily life.  Since making my health a priority, both working out and nutrition have become part of my regular routine and I find myself including them while I prepare my schedule for the upcoming days and weeks.
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  • Plan Ahead: I have a planner where I write down things like all my appointments, classes, assignment deadlines, and when bills are due.  Because I have made exercise a priority, I also find holes where I can schedule a work out.  I check my planner regularly throughout the day, and find it most important to take a look at it in the evening to get an idea of what the following day will bring.  If I know what I have planned for the following day, I can gather the belongings I’ll need, including work out clothes and whatever meals will happen while I’m away from home.
  • photo-7Prepare and Pack Your Meals:  In general, I usually make recipes that feed at least 4 people even though I am only cooking for 2.  This way, there are always left overs that my partner and I can grab over the next couple of days for lunch or dinner, depending on our schedules.  By planning ahead and having an idea of how long my day will be, I know which meals and how many/what kind of snacks to pack.  Many folks in the fitness community prep their meals for the entire week on Sunday or Monday, filling their fridge with containers ready to grab and go each day.  This is an amazing idea that I plan to play around with.  For now, I get a mental idea of what I’ll need the following day and prep a container of dinner, if needed.  Then in the morning, I blend up my Shakeology for lunch and pack snacks.  If the morning is going to be really rushed, I prepare overnight oats the previous night so I can quickly grab breakfast too!  Packing meals is one of the most important ways to make sure I eat healthy all day, saving time, money and calories!
  • photo-6Simplify Your Nutrition:  Keeping my kitchen stocked with whole foods makes it so the only option I have to grab is healthy!  I have figured out my favorite healthy foods, making packing snacks and preparing meals quick when I am short on time.  Of course, I love to experiment with new recipes and try new foods, but in the midst of a packed week, I rely on my tried and trues to keep my lunch box full and my body satisfied.  My go-to snacks include: carrots & raw broccoli with hummus, a piece of fruit with low-fat organic string cheese, Greek yogurt with fruit, cottage cheese with fruit, a rice cake with almond butter or tuna or avocado, a Skout Trailbar, and a piece of fruit with nuts or trail mix.  All of these combinations are quick to pack and easy to carry.  Furthermore, drinking Shakeology at lunch makes that midday meal a no brainer when prepping food for the day.
  • photo-9Make it Social:  Living a healthy lifestyle does not need to be done in isolation!  On the weekends, I love to spend time with friends and family, and I have found ways to be active while having fun.  Lately, I have been bouldering almost every weekend with some friends who share the same hobby.  It is an incredible work out and going so frequently means I have spent more time with these friends than I have in months!  Double awesome!  Luckily, I live in a city full of people who love to run, so there are fun runs throughout the year and I have friends who have joined me in some of them.  I also love to hike, so I recruit friends to come along with me.  Having people over for dinner is another great way to eat healthy foods and not have to worry about what is on the menu at some bar and saves a bunch of money too.  I also love concerts and dancing, both of which are great ways to spend time with friends and are great work outs (bonus!).
  • photo-16Find Time, Make Time:  The bottom line is I have to find and make time in my hectic life for healthy eating and living.  Some days, I find myself squeezing work outs in between meetings or during breaks in class because it is literally the only time I will have to do it, and it is totally worth it as long as I make it count.  Only have 40 minutes?  Run HARD for 25 or do a Jillian Michaels 30 minute work out DVD.  If you are one of those people that can actually get out of bed when your alarm goes off, wake up early to make sure you get that work out in.  Working out in the morning is an amazing way to start your day refreshed.  I hate waking up in the morning so much that I am fine showing up to class super sweaty or spending my hour dinner break in an 8 hour class on a treadmill.  Packing your meals and snacks saves you time as well, since you aren’t going to a restaurant and waiting in line so you can apply that time to getting sweaty.  Spending a little extra time the night before or on Sundays preparing meals for the following day(s) is well worth it.

Find what works for you and make it happen 🙂

Why wait?

tumblr_mbycy5hu9X1r1lmhvo1_400I have been pondering this question lately and have not been able to come up with any satisfactory answer.  It first hit me in a conversation I had with my mom, during which she was recounting a talk she had with a young woman explaining how she was waiting for everything in her life to be perfect before starting a family.  My mom and her best friend, both women who have faced many situations where they have had what I like to call Tim Gunn Moments, assured this other person that there is no such thing as perfect timing.  There is always something else.

Another moment I realized I cannot find a good excuse to wait for things that I want for my life happened while my mother in law was visiting a few months ago.  I was complaining about how hectic the last couple years have been with school and I said I wished I had waited for a time when I was more financially stable and didn’t have to work full time to go to graduate school.  To that she replied, “Will there ever be a time like that?”  And you know what?  The answer is no.

Now this is a scary thought for me.  I am a perfectionist and a bit of a control freak and I love to plan my life very far in advance.  The idea that there is no such thing as the absolute perfect time forces me to let go and trust that things will work out whether I have the plan all figured out or not.  It also allows me to accept my life with all of its imperfections and appreciate the fact that there will always be imperfections and that is ok.  Although I’ve always thought I had my life plans all figured out, when I really think about it I can’t imagine a time where everything would be perfect to go to graduate school.  Four years ago, I decided I had career goals that included furthering my education and I found myself at a point in life where I could just pack up and move to another state, live on a tight budget, and just go for it.  Although I have an enormous amount of student loan debt from not waiting until I could pay for school out of pocket or at least waiting until I established residency in the state I wanted to attend school, and although balancing a heavy school and work schedule the last three years has been absolutely exhausting, I have accomplished my goals, met incredible people, grown professionally and personally, and cannot imagine this experience any other way.

This idea that there will never be perfect conditions applies to health and fitness as well.  I could have waited until I was done with school and had a more stable work/life schedule to start really getting into shape and learning how to eat clean, and yes, graduate school and working in social work are fabulous excuses to make for eating like crap and not taking care of my body.  But what would be the advantages of waiting until I was done with school?  Maybe a bit more free time and possibly some extra income, but are those a better trade off for the extra weight I may have gained, the unhealthy habits I had engrained into my routine, or my diminished self esteem?  Furthermore, when I envision my next steps, I imagine a career in social work, which is almost always guaranteed to be stressful, and starting a family, which means I won’t have that much more free time than I do now.  So, why wait?

Simultaneously beginning my health and fitness journey and graduate school has had so many benefits.  Most importantly, I have made a habit of carving out at least one hour every single day to do something for myself and that one hour of daily exercise has made me physically and mentally stronger.  I take pride in the physical strength I have gained, which boosts my self esteem.  I have more energy to put into my work, and taking care of my health and wellness enables me to be a better social worker, student, family member, friend, and partner.  I have had the opportunity to get to know some really amazing and inspiring people who are also interested in improving their lives through healthy living.  Learning about fitness and healthy cooking has been a great thing for my partner and I to do that does not involve either of our work.  We can cook, try new recipes, and work out together, which has resulted in some hilarious learning moments and ensured that we make time for each other and ourselves as much as possible.  We challenge each other to conquer new fitness goals and have fun exploring our new state through hikes and bike rides.  We recently started bouldering at a local gym and are completely hooked.  It has become something fun and active that we do with friends who share similar interests.  It is exciting to think about the healthy habits we are establishing for our future family, as well as how those healthy habits will keep us alive and well to enjoy many many years together.  It is fun to get dressed up in clothes I feel confident in and go on dates together. Plus healthy living ain’t bad for your sex life either. 😉

Oc7lPSo, I challenge you to think about the excuses you are making for why you aren’t reaching your goals, whatever they are.  Do you think you’ll find the perfect moment later or are there deeper reasons you are resisting change?  What would happen if you stopped waiting and started going for it?  What steps can you make right this second that can help you achieve those goals?

 

No matter what, I trust that you will make it work and you can succeed.  Stop waiting for those perfect conditions, they aren’t coming and that’s ok.