happy 2013 (:

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I’ve been agonizing over my 2013 resolutions for weeks. I love that clean slate, the opportunity to improve myself. My first instinct is to fix everything. Do everything. So my first strategy was to write down everything I want to change or do, then prioritize it, paring it down to 10. Then I realized how unrealistic that was, so I instead mapped out a detailed plan to simplify my life, with goals, milestones, and a list of commandments. That one stressed me out equally. Then I thought, maybe I should take a yin/yang approach to goal making, sort of a list of to-dos that balance each other. For example, if I want to do something for my mind, I should also do something for my body. If something for my left brain, I should find something of equal weight for my right brain. It was a mess. Finding simplicity and balance should NOT be a complicated process.

This year, I have struggled to focus on my goals. It’s never been very difficult for me in the past, to accomplish the things I commit to, especially publicly. But this year, or at least the second half of it, my brain was just simply not cooperating. I have felt less connected, less motivated, and less energetic. Easily distracted, bordering on spacey. I’ve been sleeping poorly, less active, and more injury prone. I was sick in September. Then again from October… through… well, now (flu, then cold, then bronchitis..) My tendonitis is back. My shoulder is messed up. I’m always tired. My complexion is dull. Studying is a huge chore and work stress makes me emotional. I can’t focus on anything. I’ve gained back some weight I worked so hard to lose. It’s all connected. I want to fix it all, but it’s so daunting. I feel like my have-to-dos are so exhausting that I don’t get to enjoy the want-to-dos. So while I was trying to figure out where my 2013 priorities should lie, when I put it all down, all my ailments and shortcomings and guilt-sources, it got me down and made me feel hopeless.

So, in an effort to not give up and throw in the towel by January 5th, I’m reallyreallyreally simplifying my goals this year. No fireworks. No big declarations. Just one basic thing, for the first half of the year. Why? Because in May I will be done with school and priorities can be reassessed then.

So here it is.

Focus on healthy. Listen to my body.

There’s a great Henry Miller quote that says “Our own physical body possesses a wisdom, which we who inhabit the body lack. We give it orders, which make no sense.” I’ve been so guilty of ignoring the signals my body gives me and trying to compensate. I don’t have energy because rather than do the things my body wants me to do (move more and sleep more) I chug more coffee or eat more sugar. My tendonitis is back and my stress levels are high because I haven’t been going to yoga. When I do jump back into a good workout schedule, I overdo it and hurt myself rather than just easing in. When I need a day off, I guilt myself into chipping away at a to-do list I’ve created for myself. I can’t turn off that voice that says “must.be.productive.” If I actually were as productive as my intentions, that would be one thing. But what comes with trying to do it all is often frustration, guilt, disappointment, stress, and exhaustion. And when my life is out of balance, I don’t take something away; my instinct is to add something. Example: spending an hour at the gym is selfish, so I need to spend an hour doing something for someone else. This is well and good til every yin needs a yang. It becomes a bit of a monster.

So, my goal for 2013 is to focus on the foundation, take better care of myself. Let the other things fall into place. Do the things I know make me a happier person, like yoga and dancing. Be kind to myself, not beat myself up. Simple.

I’m going to do lots of other things this year. House projects and creative endeavors and getting my Masters, but those are all just life. I’ll get to them because I’m a doer. I don’t need a list of things to accomplish to be productive because I just am. But there are things I clearly need to focus on to make happen sometimes, and this is it right now. A little shift in mindset. And believe it or not, this is SO hard for me, to whittle it down like this. It’s not my nature, but I’m hoping this is exactly what I need right now.

What about you? What lies ahead for your year?

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do what you love.

“We should all do what, in the long run, gives us joy, even if it is only picking grapes or sorting the laundry.”

-E.B. White.

I love choosing paint colors, browsing bookstores, drinking coffee, and reading magazines. I love making music playlists, scrubbing sinks, and driving fast with the windows down. I love sitting around fires, hiking, and playing with fonts.

What do you love?

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy happy Thanksgiving, friends! I hope you all have great things in store for your day and many things to be thankful for. I know I certainly do. My fantastic family (with a new sister-in-law and a new niece this Thanksgiving!! Yipee!); some fabulous and inspiring and crazy friends; my beautiful, toasty warm home; my sweet and handsome hubby; my job; my health; yoga; and many, many more things.

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This is also my first Thanksgiving as a vegetarian! My lentil walnut loaf (courtesy of Oh She Glows) is ready to go, as is the mushroom gravy. We are going to two separate dinners (both families local so every holiday is crazy!) and will be well-fed, happy and content in my choice to shun the turkey! Dare I say I am more excited about this Thanksgiving than any other? Because it’s true! Rather than feeling like I am missing out, I feel like, at the tables at which I am sitting, I am the only one NOT missing out. So in addition to the million other things, I’m thankful for my enlightenment!

In the book Eating Animals (which I reviewed here), Foer has a beautiful statement about Thanksgiving. Because it can just seem so damn American to eat turkey at Thanksgiving, it must be right, right? He says:

“Thanksgiving is the meal we aspire for other meals to resemble. Of course most of us can’t (and wouldn’t want to) cook all day every day, and of course such food would be fatal if consumed with regularity…But it’s nice to imagine all meals being so deliberate. Of the thousand-or-so meals we eat every year, Thanksgiving dinner is the one that we try most earnestly to get right. 

…And more than any other food, the Thanksgiving turkey embodies the paradoxes of eating animals: what we do to living turkeys is just about as bad as anything humans have ever done to any animal in the history of the world. Yet what we do with their dead bodies can feel so powerfully good and right. The Thanksgiving turkey is the flesh of competing instincts- of remembering and forgetting.”

I would be lying if I told you I don’t feel a little drunk over how powerful it feels to understand my part in the world in a more meaningful way, especially during a holiday dedicated to being grateful. It is downright magical. 🙂

My lentil loaf admittedly isn’t much to look at (but be honest, is meatloaf??), but it smells heavenly (not sarcasm!) and I can’t wait to dig in! No one admits it, but I will.. I am also very, very thankful for food!

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Happy Thanksgiving everyone! Love to you all!

harder.better.faster.stronger.

I signed up for my first ever half marathon yesterday!

Just ten days ago when I wrote this post I was mulling over the idea, not wanting to commit and sure I would talk myself out of it. But I decided to go for it – I need things to work toward. And for me, this is a big deal! I have always been the slow kid. I can kick some booty on the elliptical machine or yoga mat, but even looking at a treadmill gives me a sideache and shin splints, I’m serious. NOT a runner, so I thought.

But I’ve been working up to it in the last month and I kind of sort of don’t hate it. I kind of like breathing the chilly air all bundled up and hitting the pavement. And I especially like that there are no rules – that every day is completely different. That on a Monday I can be tired after 3 minutes and Tuesday I can break my own record – I’m so new that it’s unpredictable what kind of day I will have and I’m so new that I’m frequently still surprising myself that I CAN do it. Even though I’m not running great distance yet I feel like it’s ok to say “I’m a runner” and just that in itself motivates me to go go go (so far!).

I’ve got six months to train, and I’ll be using this guide to get me there starting in December. November plan stays the same as my last post with maybe a few more runs and less cross-training. This is just what I need to avoid total hermit mode all winter – here we go!!!!!!!!

“The secret of getting ahead is getting started.” -Mark Twain

some thoughts on weight loss/maintenance and motivation

“People often say that motivation doesn’t last. Well, neither does bathing – that’s why we recommend it daily.” – Zig Ziglar

Today I hit my Saturday Weight Watchers meeting planning to just weigh and go, but saw the quote above on the board. I am a sucker for motivational talk, goal-making, and inspiration gathering. It made me think for a moment about my week. It was a successful one, health-wise. I got 6 workouts in, lost a couple pounds, tried some great new vegan recipes, and took some time for myself because my husband was out of town. I was motivated by my week’s freedom, to take advantage of my time better. It was lovely! Not to say I wanted my husband to never come back- ha! But I certainly needed some re-focus time.

Next week’s going to be particularly busy. My little brother is getting married Friday! I am throwing a party for them at my house Friday evening, which I am absolutely looking forward to, but that also means the week will be super-busy with cleaning, party prep, shopping, food assembly and cooking, etc! Work’s gonna be super-insane, too, and husband and I are going to a concert Tuesday night! Phew!

It’s weeks like the upcoming one that I find myself making excuses for not staying on track. So I decided to make myself a little list of things that motivate me (short and long term) for weeks like this, when I need a little push to make the smart choices {fully aware some of these are so ridiculous, but whatever works!}:

  • That next goal. I’m almost to my 5% weight loss goal! This week should get me there if I only stay with it. GREAT motivation.
  • That little “carrot.” For all my planning ahead, squeezing in gym time, foregoing the cocktails, munching on actual carrots – a girl deserves some reward carrots! This week my eyes will be on a super-awesome prize… cashing in my manicure gift certificate next weekend!
  • A new season. Time to embrace healthy soups, skinny jeans, running outdoors, hiking… there are healthy things about every season, even the ones that encourage you to wear MORE layers.
  • That one picture. You know the one. It’s either that one you want to burn forever or that one you want to use as your FB profile pic because you’re kind of under the delusion that’s still the real you? Whichever motivates you! For me it’s a picture I self-took in the mirror in 2008 of a t-shirt reconstruction project. I had dieted and ran my ass off to get to a (small for me but healthy/realistic) 115lbs. Keeping it off is the hardest part but I sometimes just need a reminder I got there once and I can get there again. THEN it will be time for the before picture magneted to the fridge.
  • That one walking cautionary tale. This sounds horrible, but sometimes the best motivation in the world for me is seeing someone who’s a what-not-to-do billboard. I have one in my office. Don’t want to be requiring surgeries and multiple meds in 15 years? Don’t do what this person does. Do the opposite. This stuff matters over the long haul and it’s easy to “forget” when it’s inconvenient.
  • Blogs. I check my faves often but really I should make time to do so every single day for the motivation factor.
  • Those silly mini-goals. I try to give myself a couple little healthy mini-goals and just incorporate them into my to-do list each week. I am pretty diligent about my to-do lists, and seeing those each day makes me take them seriously and work them in. These aren’t lifestyle changers – more like, try a new recipe, or stretch ever day, or walk at lunch 3 days. No matter what this tends to get me at least one or two wins for my week!
  • Planning ahead. It’s easy to be motivated to do things that take less effort. Duh. So that’s where planning ahead comes in, which is something I struggle with at times. Since I know my week will be busy, tomorrow I will spend some time cooking for the week ahead, planning meals, pre-chopping, etc. No excuses!
  • Blog about it. This is for me here because it works when I reiterate what I know and hold myself accountable. It’s powerful stuff! I am seriously considering starting my own food/fitness blog (would anyone read?) for my own motivational purposes!

How about you guys? How do you get/stay motivated? What’s on your to-do list to make you healthier and happier?

operation: get hot. hawaii-bound edition. week 1 recap.

A week ago I started on my goal to get superhot for Hawaii. I’m basking in some week 1 success, and rewarded myself with a very NON sugar free Peppermint Mocha from Starbucks today because, get this, scale says I am down 6lbs! I’m guessing about 4 of those pounds are water weight, because I don’t feel like my clothes are any looser. When I lost 6lbs on Weight Watchers, I could tell. Ya know? So, I’m trying to be realistic here, be proud of myself but not get too cocky, because week 2 will probably be a little different. I have no delusions that I’ll be losing 6lbs a week and looking like an Olsen twin by week 5.

Here’s what made the week easier {and dare I say…fun}:

  • Planning and being excited about trying new recipes.
  • I haven’t counted a single calorie. I just went to the gym a few times, snacked when I was hungry, but avoided starches and {added} sugar. Since I don’t really eat much meat, I mainly filled up on veggies {salads and soups}, fruit, eggs, nuts, & yogurt. Did gorge myself on turkey burger lettuce wraps a few times though – YUM! When the food is GOOD it’s really not that hard to skip the plate of pasta. Yet.
  • Drank lots of water & tea.
  • Learning to do Bento boxes. It’s so fun! And there are so many blogs about Bento! Here’s my second Bento attempt {spinach quiche, apples, raw veggies, edemame}. Not cute. But delicious! Admittedly all I’m doing is just transporting food in smaller portions for lunch. But that in itself is a great thing!
  • Realizing I haven’t been feeling nauseous after I eat.. the entire week! This is kind of a huge deal.

This week I plan to just keep it up and see how it goes. Might do something a little more exciting with the Bento box.

A quote:

Instead of giving myself reasons why I can’t, I give myself reasons why I can.

-unknown

a quote.

We have to have faith in ourselves.  I have never met a woman who, deep down in her core, really believes she has great legs.  And if she suspects that she might have great legs, then she’s convinced that she has a shrill voice and no neck.  ~Cynthia Heimel