Smiling

I went to a conference on Thursday focused on patient experience. We started the day teary-eyed hearing sad stories to provide insight into the benefits of palliative care and open conversations with patients. We ended the day laughing until our sides hurt with Loretta Laroche. I don’t think I’ve ever met a more funny human being. She also taught me quite a bit, the main lesson being that simply smiling and laughing can trick your brain into being happier. So here I am vowing to smile more, fake it ‘til you make it style.

I’ve been truly happy lately. I attribute it to a fantastic vacation with my mom. Not only the relaxation of vacation or the thrill and excitement of exploring a new place and doing things you thought were just dreams but also my mom’s advice and company. She gave me a new perspective about life when I thought I was stuck.

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I have a lot to be smiling about this week.

I’m reading an inspiring book. Each chapter teaches me a new lesson. I’ve been inspired to commit more hours of my week towards my goals and to take the time to do my hair each day. As Rachel Hollis says, if not now, when?

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I committed to 6 days of exercise this week. I was able to do this by creating my own workout plan of a combination of 80 Day Obsession and running. One run was with some of the speech language pathologists at work and left me feeling all kinds of happy.

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I watched The Village with my roommate. It doesn’t sound like much but it was.

Shopping with Molly. It’s so much more fun shopping with another person. Basically doing anything with another person. This day not only was the company great, but I also got some great purchases all on sale!

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Dinner with my girls. We were supposed to meet at Earl’s but it was too busy so we hopped over to The Smoke Shop for BBQ and beers. Luckily they had pitchers of Fiddlehead for these Vermonters at heart.

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A sunny day running errands on Saturday. I may have been on call but I still made it out for a short 2.8 mile run in my new sneakers, bought myself a cold brew coffee, and rode my bike to get food at Trader Joe’s.

 

Dinner + drinks + gelato with a friend on a Saturday. Nothing I love more than cooking for and with others. 

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Having a Moment

The dress I wanted to wear to my friend’s wedding doesn’t fit.

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When I got the zipper up I immediately felt gross and negative thoughts filled my head. When did I gain this weight? Why did I let myself go? I’m ugly, fat, etc.

Any woman in this day and age has had one of these moments.

We are molded to believe that our bodies need to fit the clothes rather than the other way around. Lie.

We are molded to believe that our bodies should stay one size and shape once we hit adulthood. Lie.

We are molded to think that the world is one size fits all and if you aren’t that size then you are fat and ugly. Lie.

Lies. Lies. Lies.

Our bodies change as we age. Maybe it’s because we got a new job and have less time to exercise. Maybe it’s because we’re dating and that means lots of drinks and dinners out. Maybe we had a baby! Maybe we broke a leg or arm or had surgery. Maybe we simply aged (gasp) and our hormones have shifted. Life happens and our bodies change.

I urge you all to take a moment when those negative thoughts flood your head. Take a moment to breathe and reflect.

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I took that dress off and opened my journal. I wrote about what I felt when I looked in the mirror. Then I wrote down some of the things that have happened in the 2 ½ years since I last wore that dress. Positive things that have taken up my time rather than worrying and obsessing over weight or size. Maybe negative things that influenced my health. Lastly, I reflected on my relationship with food and exercise. Am I restricting? Am I indulging a bit much? Am I exercising enough to feel good but not too much to hurt my body?

When I put on that dress I felt frustrated and uncomfortable. Over the past few years I know I’ve gained a bit of weight. I graduated and moved to a new city to start my very first job in a somewhat stressful environment. I dealt with a four hour daily commute and toxic relationships. I’ve made new friends and started dating more. I enjoyed nights out for dinner and drinks and live in a city full of wonderful restaurants. I’m working on balancing fun and social events with my drive for overall health and it’s an ongoing challenge which I acknowledge I am not quite good at. I get caught up in the moment. At the same time my relationship with food is so much healthier than it used to be. I no longer restrict or eat out of emotion (as often). I plan my meals and eat fruits and vegetables when I can. I don’t restrict food when I plan to have one or a few drinks. Sometimes I eat fast food and dessert. Sometimes I eat too much. But food doesn’t define me, I don’t obsess over it.

I’d rather have this food freedom than rigid rules. I’d rather celebrate with my friends and overindulge than not. I’d rather go on dates and meet people than cook a healthier meal to my standards at home. And for those reasons, there are other dresses. 

It’s okay to have a moment. But don’t get stuck there. Breathe, reflect, and buy a new dress.

Stepping Out of Your Comfort Zone

It’s never easy to step out of your comfort zone. But if I’ve realized one thing from my trip to Africa it’s that great things await and you’ll never know unless you push yourself a bit.

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I’m a creature of habit. During the week I work, cook/eat, exercise, and sleep. Doing more than that feels overwhelming and exhausting (why am I always so tired??). So when Sarah asked if I wanted to get dinner around 7:30 pm on Thursday my immediate response was no. That is so late. But it was Sarah, one of my best friends from High School, and I haven’t seen her in far too long. I also wanted to do something other than just get dinner since I feel like too often my plans revolve around eating and drinking. While there’s nothing wrong with that here and there, the money and the calories add up. So I proposed something active and a lighter/more casual dinner to give us the chance to catch up.

We ended up at a Turnstyle class in Back Bay, which absolutely kicked my butt. I also had an absolute blast. I like workout classes because I am around other people, but it’s even better when your friend is on the bike next to you. After we went to Dig Inn for a fast casual dinner full of heart healthy fats and vegetables. On my way home I thought about how happy I was to have pushed myself to meet up with a friend on a “school night”. It may have been the endorphins from the spin class, but personally I think it was so much more. I was truly happy physically and mentally.

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Weekends this girl tends to sleep in, be lazy, get some errands done, and prepare for the week ahead. Hopefully I have some plans with friends, but usually nothing extravagant. Sometimes I’ll get early drinks at a brewery or go to a friend’s apartment; low key stuff. This weekend, my friend Christine convinced me to go to a boat party for her roommate’s birthday. I love Ellie, she’s a genuinely kind person, but I was worried about drinking on a boat. For one, who knew how big the boat would be. Two, you never know how rowdy people will get and I work in a place where I see the worst that can happen. Sadly, the worst can happen when you’re walking down the street, too. So I conquered my fears and stepped out of my comfort zone and onto a boat.

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Yes, the boat was small. A lot smaller than I imagined especially with 40 people. I jokingly told Christine that we needed to know where the life preservers were at all times. Honestly though, it was a blast. I met some cool people, laughed my butt off, took in the sites and realized how much I love being on the water. Especially with Vermont beers in hand (it was BYOB). I also got to celebrate Ellie. A person who gives everything to her friends and truly cares. I would have regretted not being there since she’s deserves to have people celebrate her.

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If I hadn’t stepped on that boat I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to see Boston from the water at sunset. I probably wouldn’t have seen my best friend this weekend or hung out with some truly hysterical and fun people. There are times in your life when you should say no (listen to your gut), but this was not one of them. Sure I was nervous, but that shouldn’t stop me from opportunities that may never arise again and are not dangerous (the captains were great and the boat never left the harbor).

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It’s active weeknights with friends where you go to bed late and wake up tired. It’s friend’s birthday parties or gatherings where you meet new people and experience new things. These are the times you’ll remember in life, not the nights where you were comfortable at home with a glass of wine watching Game of Thrones in your sweatpants. While that was nice for a Friday night, it shouldn’t be every night. I’m trying to say yes more and to be more active. This week I plan to join some SLPs at work for an afternoon run. Any other suggestions for being active or meeting new people in the city, let me know!

Love Thy Fridge

Last week at my nutrition class someone asked how many fruits and vegetables we’re supposed to eat. I said 5-8 servings.  

Another person responded “Per week?” 

If only, then so many more people would be meeting the recommended daily allowances. But no, it’s per day. That’s why my first recommendation for anyone and everyone is to eat more fruits and vegetables.  

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It all starts with stocking your fridge. Or freezer. Frozen fruits and vegetables are just as nutritious as fresh as long as they aren’t packaged in syrup or butter. When you have them available you’re more likely to eat said fruits and vegetables. Find ones in season or on sale. If you’re afraid of them going bad then stick with the frozen kind or ones that stay fresh longer. 

Past weeks I hadn’t been buying as much produce because I eat a salad almost every day at work. This week, though, I decided to make Mediterranean bowls for dinner: arugula, quinoa, chickpeas, tomatoes, mushrooms and peppers topped with hummus. So my fridge is bursting with vegetables. I also bought strawberries, blackberries, bananas, apples, and baby carrots. Winning.  

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When I’m having an off week, like I am this week, I find myself snacking more than usual or having a difficult time identifying hunger and fullness cues. It happens, we’re all human. Having fruit and vegetables around helps me satisfy my snacking urges and also to meet the recommended amount of fruit and vegetables.  

Today I knew lunch would be later than normal so I snacked Im fresh pineapple at work.  In the afternoon I felt stressed and just off and thought I was hungry so I ate an RX bar. Turns out I wasn’t hungry. Now I’m eating an apple while watching Game of Thrones instead of mindlessly eating Cadbury Eggs. I can tell you from experience, today and other days, that snacking on fruit or vegetables when you’re unsure of your hunger feels a lot better than something heavier that would be better suited when you’re actually hungry. And your body will thank you for those fruits and vegetables in the long run!

What are your go-to fruits and vegetables? 

Aligning Goals

This weekend was a literal whirlwind, I feel like I blinked and it was over.

Friday night one drink turned into a lot of drinks. And then tater tots and cold mac and cheese for dinner. Saturday I missed my spin class, ended up at the Red Sox game, drank too much wine and ate all the garlic bread, cheese and cured meats with my friends.

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My more recent goal since returning from South Africa is to spend more time with others. Whether that be friends or just out in the presence of others. I enjoy being with people. However, being social does not always align with health goals, though, and I also have those. I want to feel better in my own skin and feed my body in the way that I advise others.

When I was a freshman in college I was at my fittest. But I also declined most invites to go to dinner or to house parties, essentially ignoring my friends and isolating myself. Instead I stayed in my dorm and was lonely and sad, but I was fit and thought that then I would be happy. News flash, I wasn’t.

Fast forward to two years living in the city. It’s been hard to meet people, but I have made some genuine friendships which I value more than anything. Most get-togethers involve either food or alcohol. And money. It can be hard on the waistline and the wallet, but being out of my apartment with others is what I need and want. Being with friends matters more to me than calories or money.

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Sure I still woke up anxious Sunday morning. Why? Because drinking alcohol makes me anxious. Because I want people to like me. Because I want to fit in and feel like I’ve found my place. And sometimes I fear that I am getting too caught up in the moment and drinking or eating “too much.” But isn’t getting caught up in the moment what’s supposed to happen when you’re with friends? Especially genuine ones whom you value more than words can describe.

The purpose of this post is to show you that your health goals need to be flexible to fit alongside your other goals. And what is life without friends. As long as you aren’t using food or alcohol as a constant coping mechanism or feel like you always need a drink. If you want a drink and the food is delicious then enjoy the moment with your friends. Try to eat more fruits and vegetables during the week and save the vino for social situations rather than a nightly thing. It is possible to aim for a healthier lifestyle while also being social, I never want to be uptight and lonely Megan again. Cheers to that.

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