Monthly Archives: October 2011

Real motivation

On one of my pinning rampages a few weeks back, I saw a photo of a skinny, bikini-clad girl with text saying “Are you sure you want that cookie?” The image stood out to me not because I thought it was inspiring or motivating. Rather, I was struck by how truly wrong I thought it was…

For a while, I was stumped on how to tie the picture into a post, effectively explaining why it was so depressing to me. Then, last weekend, one of my friends and I were talking about our mutual love of Pinterest. We were basically raving about how much time we could waste on the site and how fun it is to look through. But, then she mentioned how she once typed the word “motivation” into the search bar and was appalled by all the pictures of skinny women with some negative mantras that came up. I thought that was an interesting comment, because it was the exact same search that lead me to the picture I had pulled.

Once again, it got me thinking and I realized something:  There is no redeeming value in an image like that. That is because, it’s just part of the greater picture…

The girl in that picture is a mystery. She has a flat stomach in a picture, but that’s about all we know about her. What we don’t know is whether she is fulfilled by relationships with the people in her life, whether she is inspired by the work she does, whether she is happy.

So, just looking at a skinny body is no motivation to me. Instead, I aim for greater inspiration.

Maybe this is because I know there is so much more to life that having a flat stomach. Maybe this is because I know that happiness beats skinniness any day of the week. Maybe this is because I think it’s time to stop beating ourselves up about our bodies.

And, I might be a dreamer, but I hope that you can feel the same way.

This isn’t to say it’s wrong to find specific things to get motivated by — such as a positive mantra about working out. It’s just important to know that it is a piece of a puzzle.

More than anything else, my message is this: Stop comparing, stop judging and definitely stop criticizing yourself. Instead, start looking inside and get inspired by your own strength.

That, my friends, is where real motivation comes from.

Questions: What do you think? How are you inspired?


WOW Run 5K

You know you’re a little crazy when you describe “waking up to run a race” as one of the best feelings…

I actually forgot how invigorating morning races are. It wasn’t until today that I realized I haven’t run a morning race since the Lincoln Half-Marathon last May. Since then, I’ve done the evening Rock the Crossroads and Wyandotte County Trail Races as well as the United Way Trail Race, which kicked off at noon.

But, today, it was good to know that I had a whole 5K under my belt before 9 a.m thanks to the WOW Run 5K.

I was up at 7 for a breakfast of toast with peanut butter and a banana plus a few gulps sips of coffee. Dan was still sleeping, so I relied on the self-timer to prove I was actually planning on running.

Always so awkward.

My favorite part about the race was that the start was just on the other side of my neighborhood. I didn’t leave until 7:40 for an 8 o’clock start and I still made it there with time to spare. I even got to talk to Natalie for a while before the race!

Even though everything was set up to be a good race, I have to admit that I probably didn’t have the best mentality. I hoped for a PR, but I knew it was hilly and told myself I could use that as a cop-out. Lame, I know.

When the race kicked off, I got out to a good start. It also helped that I was pretty familiar with the course — it just wound through my neighborhood, so I knew what to expect around each corner. However, that also meant I knew when the big hills were and I psyched myself out a little bit. There weren’t any mile markers, either, so I wasn’t able to calculate my pace. All I know is that it fluctuated quite a bit.

When I was nearing the finish, I was able to kick it into high gear, but it still wasn’t enough to walk away with a PR.

Nonetheless, I was still pretty happy.

Best of all, it’s not even noon and I get to spend the rest of the day with this little girl.


Happy weekend!

Questions: How do you turn excuses around and get motivated? What’s your favorite time to race?


After a week like this…

I don’t want to talk about this week. I don’t want to talk about the stress. I don’t want to talk about the frustration. I don’t even want to talk about the exhaustion. I just want to talk about what I’m looking forward to next…

After a week like this, I could use a massage that’s half as good as the one that Tracker gets multiple times day.

After a week like this, I could use a good run to clear my mind. Fortunately, I’m running the WOW 5K to benefit Habitat for Humanity this Saturday. As an added benefit, the start line is just on the other side of my neighborhood, so it won’t cause me any extra stress. (Knock on wood.)

After a week like this, I could use some time to relax. I have been staring at the computer a little too much lately and I’ve realized it is no way to unwind. Instead, I would much rather get out for a walk with Tracker, bake some brownies or tackle my next DIY project. (Note: I made the mason jar soap dispenser shown in that post. Love it!)

After a week like this, I could use some time thinking about someone other than myself. I have been so focused on a few assignments that I’ve let most other things slide away — and it’s no good to spend this much time in your own head.

After a week like this, I could use some quality time with Dan — no books allowed. We were so lucky to have last Sunday together, but it seems as though we’ve been going in different directions this whole week. It’s helped to spend a while every night just telling each other about our days, but I want to have a few more non-school related conversations in the near future.

After a week like this, I could use an easy, delicious meal that requires little preparation. That’s where not-quite-fried rice comes in.

Not-Quite-Fried Rice

Lightly adapted from Living Oriental.

Ingredients:

  • ~2 T olive oil
  • 3 eggs
  • 4 C cooked brown rice, cooled
  • 2 zucchini, chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 C frozen corn
  • ~1 T sesame oil
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • ~2 T ginger teriyaki sauce, optional*

* If omitted, use some fresh ginger.

Directions:

  • In a large wok, heat oil over medium-high. Break the eggs into the wok and immediately stir them with a spatula to scramble. Add in rice and toss everything together.
  • Add in the vegetables and sesame oil. Toss everything together and cook for five minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat. Season with salt and pepper. Mix in teriyaki sauce.

If I had felt really ambitious, I would have made two separate dishes with tofu for me and chicken for Dan. But, I didn’t and we’re still alive… Then again, it’s not yet the end of the week.

Questions: How has your week been? What are you looking forward to this weekend?


Real test of strength

It used to be that if you asked me for an unusual fact about myself, I would proudly state that I once gave up chocolate for a whole year. In my eyes, this wasn’t simply about chocolate. Rather, it was a demonstration of my personal strength.

I figured that if I was able to pass a test that great (if you know my love for chocolate you’d understand), then I could do anything I set my mind to.

But, no test of this strength was ever enough…

There was also the summer I worked out every single day. Or the period when I cut my calories down to lower and lower levels. Or the time I refused to eat anything with white flour or table sugar in it.

What I didn’t realize at then was that these were not measurements of strength. These were tests of just how ignorant I could be — and I don’t care to test that any more. Instead, my life has become so much better since I stopped testing my strength and started testing my faith.

To me, faith is confidence in God. However, I think that faith can take on different meanings for different people. The key is just believing that, even though things can be beyond our control, everything will work out in the end.

One of the biggest, truest tests of this was having the faith to overcome my eating disorder. At the time, I knew that it was unhealthy to continue down the path I was on. But, I didn’t know what exactly was down the alternate path — and that scared me. It was only when I accepted that, yes, it was scary, but, yes, it would all be ok that I was able to recover.

In other words, having faith took more strength than anything else.

I still let this concept lead me in life — and it doesn’t let me down. However, that’s not to say having faith is easy when the unknown rests ahead.

I’ve been thinking about that a lot lately, because I am more than a little anxious about graduation. On the surface, this situation is much different from battling anorexia. However, it is similar in that I am fearful. For the first time in my life, I have no clearly determined path in front of me and I’m not quite sure what I’m going to do.

But, as challenging as it is, the best thing for me to do is to have faith. And, although I still don’t know how things will play out, I do know that they will work out.


Worth Talking About Wednesday: DIY

I like to keep this blog more or less focused on principles of healthy living. I love writing about running, cooking, baking and being active because I love doing those things — and, through time, I think I’ve garnered a pretty good knowledge base for those subjects. Although that doesn’t make me an expert, I also know what resources can help me back that knowledge up.

On the other hand, I also am willing to admit that I am less knowledgeable in certain topics. For example, eating organic, living sustainably and knowing more about environmentalism are all things that semi-interest me. But, I’m no authority to speak on them.

The same kind of idea applies to crafts. I love finding new ideas, but I am not the most skilled person. In other words, this will never be a craft blog. Yet, I still wanted to take one simple day (thanks to Worth Talking About Wednesday) to devote to a few of my recent crafting inspirations.

Bordered Picture Frames

Although this is technically from Etsy (click on all pictures for links), I think the idea would be simple enough to do. Those could be famous last words, but my idea is this: I would cut, sand-down, clean and paint a few scraps of wood. Then, I would securely attach a simple picture frame to the middle of the board sections.

Vintage Knob Jewelry Organizer

Another Etsy idea! I’ve always loved cute door knobs from antique stores, but I thought they were a little impractical for actual doors. This seems like a fun way to showcase a variety of unique knobs that I find from area antique stores.

I could also seem this working for keys or hats!

Mason Jar Soap Dispenser

Finally, a DIY tutorial! I love the look of mason jars for storing dried goods on my kitchen counter and this seems like a simple way to adapt the idea for another purpose. Besides, I have a really ugly soap dispenser in the kitchen right now.

According to the instructions, it’s basically as simple as drilling a hole, which is the same width as the soap dispenser tube, through the lid of the mason jar. Then, to keep the tube in place, use a little hot glue on the underside of the lid.

Drawer Shelf

Believe it or not, this shelf is actually a cabinet drawer that was fitted with hooks on the back. To me, this seems to be the most involved project of the bunch. Fortunately, I am married to a semi-pro carpenter, so I think we could make it work. The first trick is to find an antique cabinet drawer that’s cheap and would actually work for the purpose. For now, this is on my wish list!

Seasonal Wreaths

Tons of good ideas on this link for season wreaths! For some reason, I’ve always been a little intimidated by making wreaths. I think it’s because they can be so complex and seemingly complicated. After reading a few tutorials, however, they don’t actually seem that bad!

Questions: What do you think is worth talking about this week? Have you done any fun craft projects lately?


It isn’t all or nothing

Monday was one of those go-go-go days. I was seriously been busy from the moment I woke up: I took laundry down to the basement before I even paused to brush my teeth. (I did that right afterward. Don’t judge.)

On the checklist: laundry, grocery shopping, some advance cooking, homework and walking Tracker — all before 2 p.m., when I had to go to work for the rest of the night.

Even though it was busy and even though I had a weekend full of good workouts, I still decided it was worth it to squeeze in a little extra physical activity. So, during my 20-minute period allotted for downtime, I turned on Property Virgins and did a little living room boot camp. A few sets of crunches, a few sets of lunges and two brutal minutes of the plank. When it was time for me to head into work, I decided to take long walking route. All in all, it wasn’t any kind of a marathon, but it was enough for me to feel a slight burn.

In the past, these kinds of workouts would have seemed pointless to me. I looked at working out as an “all-or-nothing” endeavor.

If I was going to ride my bike, I was going to ride my bike for at least one hour.

If I was going to go on a run, I was going to run at least three miles.

If I was going to lift weights, I was going to lift weights for at least three sets per exercise.

Now, I see that workouts really don’t have to be that black or white. It’s perfectly fine for me to have a long session one day and a quick workout the next. The ultimately goal is just about staying active.

I think this mentality is especially detrimental to people who are beginning to get into workout routines. It seems as if there is always new research saying that there is now an even higher bar for how much adults should workout. In fact, the Department of Health and Human Services is now suggesting that adults get a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity and 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity per week.

What that fast-and-furious blurb fails to explain is that those periods can be broken up into multiple sessions. Do a little here and a little there… It’s more about the total than the individual time periods.

Of course, depending on the ultimate goal, 20 occasional minutes isn’t going to result in incredible weight loss or strength. The short sessions really need to be combined with longer, more vigorous sessions — just not every single day.

Besides, even if none of those are factors, doing a few crunches sure beats vacuuming the carpet.

Questions: Are you a fan of marathon sweat sessions or short and sweet exercises?


Sunny Sunday

Before going to sleep last night, Dan and I discussed what our ideal Sunday would look like. He finally had a day free of work and school — we were determined to take advantage. What we came up with was pretty simple: sleep in, sip coffee outside and go on a good bike ride.

We started the next morning off on the right foot by sleeping in until 10:30. Seriously glorious.

Then, Dan put on a pot of coffee while I made us breakfast. Eggs in a blanket for him and easy orchard apples for me. (<< throwback post!)

Brunch al fresco!

Then it was time for the real show: We drove out to Ottawa, 40 minutes south of Lawrence, and hopped on the Prairie Spirit Bike Trail.

The weather was absolutely perfect for a ride. The sun was out and there was a gentle breeze that was a little stubborn on the way south, but helped us on the way back.

The only way it could have been better was if the leaves actually changed shades this year. Because it’s been a dry fall, the leaves have transitioned straight from being green to being on the ground… But, now I’m just getting picky.

We rode eight miles out to the small town of Princeton, took a quick water break and headed back. Personally, I’d rather have the wind at our backs on the way back like it was: It took us 43 minutes to cover the first eight miles, but only 38 minutes on the way back.

Now we are back home, settling down for a lovely night of homework. I suppose the fun had to end at some point…

First, a new topic!

Calories don’t know how to tell time

Last month, I assisted the campus health center’s registered dietician in talking to classes of freshmen. The basic goal was to clear up some misconceptions about health, such as the freshmen 15, while providing information about the resources on campus.

At the end of each session, we opened the floor up to questions. During multiple meetings, students had questions about one topic: Is it bad to eat late at night?

Each time the question was asked, the R.D. asked the rest of the students whether they thought it is unhealthy to eat later at night. The vast majority of answered by saying yes.

The R.D. was then quick to explain that, no, it can be perfectly fine to snack later at night. In fact, she said that if students are up studying for hours after dinner, they probably need a snack to keep from getting shaky. The trick is to just make sure those snacking calories fit into the daily total.

For example, if someone should consume 2,000 calories a day, but have allotted for a 200 calorie snack by only eating 1,800 calories previously in the day, then it will do absolutely no damage if those extra 200 calories are consumed after hours.

Questions: What do you think? Do you know of any other nutrition myths?

Additional sources: