Having bad days with your body

13 05 2010

Do you ever have one of those days where you just don’t feel good in your own skin?? It’s a horrible thing to say but I was truly feeling that way today.

As I have said in my about me, I have been on a journey back to accepting my body after having a bad relationship with food and exercise a year ago. At this time last year I was just moving home from school and coming back to normalcy after battling with disordered eating and a exercise obsession. A year later I am definitely  MUCH more healthy, but those thoughts can sometimes resurface and rear their ugly heads.

At this point I am back to exercising regularly but for pleasure, not for a need to burn calories. Some days  I go to the gym and run a bit and lift some weights; others I get out on my bike and either trail ride or street ride for a while. Some days I do yoga, and others, like today, I just take a nice walk and enjoy the sunshine. Most of the time I don’t mind the lower impact days because they are a form of a rest day that I get to do something that is positive for my mind and body. Today for some reason, however, walking just make me feel like I wasn’t doing enough. I kept seeing runners go by and wishing I would just pick up my pace and go. I saw cyclists navigating traffic, going nearly at the same speed as the cars, and immediately was planning a day for my next long ride. Commuting to school in cambridge makes it even worse; I swear that everyone in the Cambridge area is either a cyclist or a long distance runner because that is ALL YOU SEE!  At times I want to just pull over, throw on my running shoes and join them; it must be easier for them here because everyone seems to be doing it! All joking aside, it can be real struggle when you are having one of these bad days not to stack yourself up against others.

By the time I got home from class I was in a mental battle with myself over what to make for dinner and when I would have my next workout, NOT THE WAY TO LIVE! I have been doing so well lately, thanks to many amazing bloggers out there, rediscovering a love for food and eating well! I have also been truly enjoying my approach to exercise as a way to dabble in everything that I love and never feel bored. Today, however, I can hear those nagging thoughts telling me that I need to step it up, be more disciplined, and work harder at my fitness and nutrition. Where do those thoughts even come from?? Are those voices really my own insight, or are they just a product of this society we’re living in??

Wherever those voices come from I am really tired of hearing them talk. They need to be replaced with some more positive ones that serve me better and make me happier. I recently read a book The Four Agreements which outlines a new way of living and thinking in which we get rid of the garbage placed on us by society and the world that ways us down and begin to feel more free and positive. It describes the way which we were socialized and how we have formed agreements with ourselves due to the standards set by society. An example would be the agreement that American society says thin is beauty. It is now my choice to accept that agreement and live with the weight it carries for me, or to work to break the agreement and create a new one for myself. That is really just a piece of the books message, and I truly recommend reading the whole thing (I believe it’s around200 pages), but in general it taught me that it is through my will that I restructure the belief system I have built in my mind.

I plan to have a great day tomorrow with my body and my image of myself. Doing that means waking up and looking in the mirror and smiling and appreciating what I see. It may even mean taking a moment to tell myself just how wonderful I am…as I am. If you can tell yourself it will be a good day, making that an agreement with yourself, who is really there to stop you?





Celebrating Mom’s Everywhere

9 05 2010

Happy Mother’s Day to all of the Mom’s out there! I love holidays like this because they are all about being thankful and taking the time to appreciate those who we often take for  granted. I am so blessed to have a wonderful mother who I am also able to call my friend. She is wonderfully supportive and so much fun; we will be traveling together with my aunt (who I consider my second mom!) to see my other aunt in California at the end of the month:) How lucky are we?

This morning we decided to have brunch together, which is my mom’s favorite meal, to celebrate Mother’s Day. My dad began cooking as I slowly awoke from an evening of drinks with my co-workers. I really love going out with people from work because we rarely get to see each other in a relaxed environment and in normal clothing. I work at my local hospital, registering patients that come into the emergency department. Although I am not on the nursing staff we have a great connection with the nurses we work with and I really have enjoyed getting to know many of them. Although we have our fun at work, its nice to get out and let loose a little every once in a while. Last night was a going away party for one of our medic’s that is being deployed the Middle East. Thankfully he is an army medic working in a hospital and not in the field but it is still sad to say goodbye to someone that is going overseas. I wish him the best of luck over there, can’t wait to see him when he returns to us!

Back to the brunch….

So my dad began making his usual bacon, sausage, scrambled eggs, etc. These are thing’s I really don’t/cannot eat, especially in the way they are prepared. I was considering just having a typical bowl of oatmeal when someone mentioned pancakes. Now I am not a regular eater of pancakes, mostly because they aren’t the healthiest of breakfast items and they are usually prepared with milk and other things that I cannot eat. I decided to check out Angela’s recipes though, knowing that she has tons of vegan options for amazing breakfasts 🙂 Well I found a great recipe on her site for whole-wheat vegan pancakes! I decided to give them a try. I whipped up the batter which consisted of:

2/3 c wheat flour, 1 T sugar, 1 t baking powder, 1/4 t salt, 2/3 c soy milk, and 1 egg (she used egg substitute but I am not vegan so I didn’t mind the real thing)

While I was prepping the batter I had started to eat a banana and thought, “what would be better than banana pancakes!?” So into the skilled went the batter and I made 1/2 banana and 1/2 regular pancakes. As I  was cooking and thinking of toppings I decided I wanted an upgrade from maple syrup. I was thinking about my favorite banana toppings and decided to mix up some Maple Syrup-Almond Butter! Yum:)

As I was making these delicious pancakes my father was using the other burner to make the eggs. He is usually pretty skeptical of any of my recipe variations (he’s very old-school in his food preferences and likes things the way he remembers them to be only!). He said that they looked great and I gave him one to try to which he remarked “wow, these are really good!” SUCCESS! He’s probably my toughest food critic, mostly because he is so set in his ways.

Anyway, I made the pancakes and sat down for brunch with my mom, dad, and mom’s grandparents (Memere and Pepere), who live upstairs from us in an in-law apartment. Soon after we began eating my aunt called and she and my uncle stopped by and we sat and ate and talked for the good part of the morning. I love being home on Sundays; its such a relaxing, family-oriented day. We usually have a form of brunch every Sunday, this one was a little more elaborate than usual. My ultimate Sunday would have started with a run or bike ride first, but I was still recovering a bit this morning when I woke up. I am hoping to do something exercise-related this afternoon. I would love to take a bike ride but its cool out and super-windy! Oh well, we shall see 🙂

Hope everyone has a wonderful day today, especially all those mothers out there!





Listening to my body and eating well

18 04 2010

So my update is that I decided to put the apartment hunt on hold. There were a lot of factors that went into the decision but ultimately I went with my gut (literally). As I said before, my stomach takes on my stress, and ohhh did it tell me loud and clear that I was stressed. As much I as want/need/love the idea of getting my own place and moving forward with my independence, I can accept that, rationally, now is not the time. Although I work full time, I also am a full time grad student and I often find myself anywhere but home. When I do get home at the end of a work day, between commutes, or after an evening crash, I could not imagine having to worry about the bills and responsibilities that come with managing my own home. I also realized that my gut was telling me to take it a little slow with moving in with Eric. We love eachother so much and are very happy, what’s the rush or need to add the weight of stress to our relationship? We can both manage another year or so living at home until we save up and sort our finances out so we make the best decision and find the best space for us in the lovely time that is our early twenties.

Another thing all of this brought about was eating well when under stress. It is SO easy for me to cater to my emotions and my tummy when I get this stress, meaning carbs on top of carbs. I’m not the comfort food type, my lactose intolerance wouldn’t allow it, but  I am a notorious cracker/cereal/carb muncher! I totally go for these when I am stressed to calm my stomach when, in reality, no food is really going to settle it. What would settle it would be some mediation, yoga, and mindfulness (especially when eating). And although I believe that I can treat my stomach’s rumbling with food, I also know that certain foods with cause backlash. During these times I try to stick to simple, fresh, and healthy foods. I limit my fats and oil (even though I am obsessed with my almond butter lately!), skip out on acidic stuff, and go for healthy natural food. I find that this, not mindlessly munching on crackers, is what really soothes me. I am also a huge proponent if mint teas. I recently discovered Celestial Seasoning’s Tummy Mint Tea, so awesome! It has peppermint, fennel, and chamomile…the best combo to calm and unruly tummy! Tonight was a night where I got home from work and knew that my body needed some R&R and a good meal. I roasted a couple chicken tenders in the oven, cooked a sweet potato, and steamed some turnips, mushrooms, and red peppers, all over a bed of baby spinach, YUM!  Although it may sound a little odd or simple to some, knowing that I am giving my body a good meal that doesn’t have processed or mystery ingredients makes me feel good 🙂

So for now I will be de-stressing and treating my mind and body right. That means heading to bed now so I can get the sleep I need to feel good tomorrow!





Commitment

13 04 2010

So I guess something I am beginning to learn about myself in the past year or so is how easily I jump to do something that excites me but how scared I am to commit.

I was really excited about starting blogging as is apparent from my first post. And here I am, over a week later, just getting back to it. I promise to not leave over a week between posts but I needed to be sure I was ready to do this. I definitely had to digest all that I had wrote and be prepared to air out some of my more personal experiences for random others to read.

When it came down to it, however, I am excited about doing this and enjoy to space to talk and let things out. I have started reading some other blogs lately (mostly healthy eating/fitness ones) and they have really inspired me as a way to connect to others and find accountability and support along my journey.

So I wrote the commitment piece as the title for another reason. Recently Eric and I have started apartment hunting!! I know, exciting, but scary as well. I have lived in either my parents house or college dorms all of my life (my parents house for the better part). The last two years I was in college I was an RA (Resident Assistant) and got to live in my own single room (with a bathroom for a little added independence). Although it never really felt like I was living on my own, it definitely gave me much more of a sense of freedom than I have now as I’ve moved back in with my parents. Although I love my family more than anything, I miss the feeling of independence I once had and the personal space (despite it being small) of before.

Its not so much a fear of living with Eric as it is a fear of moving out of a secure (mostly free!) location and into a smaller one that comes with monthly bills and stress and worries. As adult as I feel approaching my second year in Grad School, I still at times feel like I’m unprepared for certain responsibilities. Its an odd feeling to want to do something so badly but be so freaked out by it at the same time.

At times like this my anxious stomach is unstoppable. As my impulsive side keeps searching online for places and sending out emails, my body is taking on the stress that I am totally blocking from my mind. I guess it is a little selfish that I am interested in holistic counseling to learn more about the mind/body connection and the stress response (such a psychology nerd!).

Anyways, in terms of my day to day stuff, it leaves me taking more walks and trying to get in more yoga (trying be the key word there). My independent side is trying to keep it in other than talking to Eric, but my holistic side is telling me to talk stretch and walk it out. Hopefully I will do some of all of these, and keep the stress eating to a minimum.

I will write tomorrow (as we go on our first visit to a potential place!) and try to stay relaxed.





The journey has begun…

5 04 2010

Hello!

Let me introduce myself. My name is Emily and I’m from the north shore of Massachusetts. I am an aspiring therapist and wellness enthusiast. I am in my first year of graduate school in a Counseling Psychology program and with semi-concentration in Holistic Counseling. While pursing my Master’s degree, I have also begun pursing a better sense of balance in my life. The previous four years of my life were spent as a undergrad in Boston, balancing a multitude of things including class, friends, working as Resident Assistant, interning, family, relationships, etc, etc, etc. These years took me on a roller coaster of my physical and mental wellness as well as discovering myself and my place in this world.

As you can guess from the title of this post, I am far from complete with this journey but I am aiming at enjoying every bit of the ride from here on in. The last two and a half years of my life I have learned how to work out and get my body in shape. It was difficult because I had always been an athlete and being on team sports had kept me fit and active. The first 2 1/2 years of undergrad I was lost and didn’t have an understanding how to work out or eat well. December of my junior year something finally clicked. It actually occurred after my first spinning class, the day after Christmas, with my mom. I looked in the mirror and was disappointed with what I saw, the “freshman 15” had gotten to me, and then some. But what was more motivational, was the post-workout high that I felt. Spinning made me feel alive, I had reconnected with my body and reminded of how strong is could be.

This feeling convinced me to sign up for a bi-weekly spin class at gym back at school. The class was invigorating and gave the me the push I needed to begin exercising regularly. There was also an announcement on campus about a yoga class, happening 2 mornings a week. I thought it sounded like something I would enjoy and decided to give it a go. So there it was, spinning and yoga twice a week, the fitness had begun! I was feeling good and soon noticing a little difference in the fit of my clothes (read: looser, roomier!) just in time for my spring break/course trip to Rome! I credit this trip for a great deal of the growth during this year in my life. Just signing up for the course and getting on the plane were huge steps for me in terms of my fears and anxiety. I’m a nervous flier and an even more nervous traveler; a part of myself that I find frustrating but also not defining characteristics. The trip did not come without its moments of nervousness, but it expanded my comfort zone and my idea of what I am capable of. The trip was a religious course on Religious Traditions of Rome, connecting me with the roots of the Roman Catholic faith that I have been raised in. Fit-wise, despite the daily sorbetto stops (did I mention that I am lactose-intolerant, yup, dairy free!) and pasta, I came home having lost a few more pounds. Walking countless miles around Rome made me appreciate being outdoors and my body’s ability to get me place I need to go!

The summer following this year of school I signed up for the gym and made spinning  classes my new best friend. I probably hit the gym 5 times a week and finally got past the need to have a buddy to make my workout happen. I was my own motivator and I loved it. By the end of the summer I starting to get in shape and finally seeing the light at the end of my freshman 15 tunnel. I had begun to see real changes, and not just on the scale but in other aspects of my life, too. My confidence level went WAYYY up! I had been someone of a shy person up until this point. Although I am extremely social with those that I know and am familiar with, I didn’t always put myself out there with new people before this point in my life. Something had changed though, and people were beginning to notice. I met my current boyfriend, Eric, this summer (although I had “known” him from work for almost a year), and I believe this confidence had some role in that.

As the fall approached and I faced my return to college life for one more year (school cafeteria, late night eating/drinking, separation from Eric) I found myself in a panic. How would I continue eating healthy and working out in that environment? I turned to my mom, admitting my fears and nervousness. She calmed my fears, explaining that the hard work I put in was proof that I could keep it up no matter what. I trusted her judgement and hoped I would continue to see results at school. To give myself a little help and assurance battling the college cafe, I enrolled in Weight Watchers online; a way to track and keep up with what I was eating.

As I said before, the year was a roller coaster. Being overly scheduled an perpetually busy I found myself obsessing with getting in my exercise and eating well. I found myself going to bed between 12-1:30 and up at 6:15 to hit the gym before class. I was obsessing about what I ate and scared to death of gaining weight. Not surprisingly, it got to be at an unhealthy point. I developed a bad relationship with the scale and an even worse one with food. I was  at the lowest weight I’d been at since before I can remember. Although I was “in shape” running 4 miles of intervals a day and lifting weights, I was by no means physically or mentally healthy.

After graduating and moving home I slowly gained back my sense of self. I stopped running incesantly and started to enjoy life a little more. I rediscovered my love of bike riding outdoors, without the crazy spin instructor and resistance knob. I let go of my crazy eating habits and regained a love of good, healthy goods; no measuring or calorie counting necessary.

At this point now I am trying to, like I said, find a balance. I still have my days where I worry about how I look or what I eat but I am not nearly where I was a year ago. I have gained about ten pounds since last year and I tell myself every day that I love my body no matter what.

My goal now is to do the thing I enjoy that keep me both healthy and happy. That means things like taking a long bike ride today, beginning a regular yoga practice, and taking walks on nice day with good friends or family. I am also trying to eat things that are more natural and less processed. I focus on having fruits and vegetables as the mainstay of each meal, as well as whole grains. I am finally easing up enough to allow fat back into my diet, I am in love with almond butter, avacado, and salmon 🙂 I am also trying to find that blissful connect between mind and body, this means reading and learning more about mindfulness, reiki, yoga, and meditation. I truly believe that most of the health problems we face are preventable through a wellness oriented lifestyle. I believe that this journey to my own wellness will be endlessly helpful when I begin working as a therapist some day (soon!).

Until then I am on this journey, and loving every moment including all of the bumps in the road. Life is meant to be lived and I plan on doing just that!