Monday, February 15, 2016

The Winter Blahs: Fighting Back

It's very easy to get down in the dumps in the winter time. In addition to whatever life problems may be weighing you down, add to that the bitter cold and dreary weather and God forbid - SNOW and in no time at all, all meaning and purpose in life seems gone.

Ok, that may be a bit extreme, but I definitely get more easily bummed out when the weather is dismal than  I do in the bright and shiny summery sunshine rays. Or the bright and shiny rays of the West Coast. *sigh, someday* All I want to do is stay and my nice, warm, comfy, cozy bed and press the "off" button on real life and responsibilities. Unfortunately, that's just not an option.

So what's a girl to do, eh? Here are just a few of the ways I shake off the winter (or any kind of) blahs.

1) Put Some Pep In Your Step

Not everyone is a caffeine addict, but everyone likes some kind of warm beverage. One of the best things to do when you're cold - ingest some delicious warmth! Weather it be coffee, tea, hot chocolate or you favorite latte, sipping on something delicious and warm can definitely be a great tool to help you face the day ahead. 

2) Get Glammed Up

Even if you don't make a big fuss of what you look like on a day to day basis, I'm sure you still have some go-to pieces that make you feel like a rock star. When I'm at home, I like to just be comfortable. But when I go out, I like to look good! When I take the time to do my hair and makeup and put on a cute outfit, inevitably I feel better about myself and life in general throughout the day. For you, this could mean wearing your comfiest pants, showing off your snazzy new spectacles or throwing on some lip gloss just for the hell of it. Whatever - if it makes you feel good, do it! 

3) Don't Focus on Your Problems, Focus on Solutions

If you have something specific that's causing your mood to be gloomy, it's natural to put a lot of brainpower to it. Instead of feeling bummed about whatever the issue is, try to brainstorm ways to fix or at least work on the issue. Focusing on the problem itself isn't going to help anything and will only make you feel bummed out longer. Working towards a solution, even if it's only in your head for now will bring about a better mindset, a better mood and will help you take action towards solving your problem. 

4) If All Else Fails, Pretend

You've heard the term "fake it til you make it." Well, that holds true here as well. You don't have to pretend you're the happiest person on the planet. And you don't have to lie and tell people you're doing great when you're not. But even if you don't feel like getting glammed up or being super positive, just don't wallow constantly in gloom. This doesn't mean you can't take some time for yourself to just feel what you feel - but don't stay there. Don't live in the dreary parts of your feelings. 

These are my go-to tips for fighting the winter blahs. What are your suggestions?

Sweet C

Friday, January 2, 2015

Why I'm All For New Year's Resolutions

Lots of people have strong opinions on New Year's Resolutions. Some strongly feel that resolutions are a stupid idea, while others are consistent resolution makers. I am neither of these. Some years, I make resolutions and some years I don't. I've even been known to go back at the end of the year and manually check off which ones I managed to accomplish. It's always most or all of the list.

Making goals and checklists works really well for me. It is, in fact how I thrive. For others, working with a group of people towards a common goal is what helps them thrive. This is why there are challenge groups, facebook groups and group workouts. As a society, we function through order. There are 7 days to the week. The work week starts on Monday. And for some reason it is just easier to begin something on Sunday or Monday that will continue throughout the rest of the week. We begin at the beginning. It's what we're used to.

This is all that resolutioners are doing. The New Year is a HUGELY celebrated, big beginning. There are a lot of people setting goals and making plans during this time. So, not only do we have the aspect of a new beginning, but there are tons of other people doing the same thing - making resolutions. There's nothing wrong with wanting to be better. Even to the point that we pick out specific issues we know need work, and decide to put effort toward those issues.

If you are someone who can just make up their mind to change and then change, that's amazing. It is truly an enviable character trait. Perhaps you're a person who doesn't really need help from other people once you've decided what you want to do. That's also really great. There are certainly many out there who will make resolutions and will never make any necessary changes to bring them to fruition. That's just life. Not everyone is wired the same way and you can't expect that things that are really strong traits for you will be strong traits in everyone. We're all different. Let's not forget about the resolutioners who WILL in fact accomplish a great deal of their goals. All because they decided to take action at a time that is viewed as cliche for deciding to take action. It's not as if no resolution ever was accomplished. There's not even a way to prove that most resolutions aren't accomplished.

Side note: If you're one of those people who believes that your personal anecdotal evidence of you and your circle's experiences is proof for anything, it is not. That is not data. Your personal experience is never data. It is personal experience. So stop it.

This is one of those areas where I say "Live and let live." Resolutions don't hurt anyone. Sometimes we can be way too judgemental of other people. If you don't want to make any resolutions because you can change on your own whenever you want - great! Don't make any freaking resolutions! If you want to make 20 resolutions even if they're the same ones you've made for the past 20 years - great! Good luck, I hope this is your year! One of my resolutions is to do whatever I want as long as it doesn't hurt anyone, so here I say - do whatever you want! Don't let other people's negative attitudes over what you've decided to do hinder you, or else you prove them right. And don't have extremely negative attitudes towards something that really has nothing to do with you.

Happy New Year, errybody.


Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Talk Yourself Into It

      Yesterday was a bad day. You know how some days your life feels like a country song? Not one of the adorable ones where some hot stud wants to make you feel "Wanted", but one where everyone including your dog has left you and life in general seems to be imploding on you? That was yesterday. Needless to say, at the culmination of all of such events, the last thing I felt like doing was working out. And I almost didn't.

     It's very easy to give yourself a pass when you're having a crap day. When you're choking back tears from all the various BS you're dealing with, it's not usually something you want to deal with in a public place. The thing is, I already had my workout scheduled into my day. I was wearing my workout clothes, it was next on the agenda and the gym was right down the street. I would have had to deliberately DRIVE PAST the gym to get home. And believe me, I wanted to. I almost did. I started taking a different route home telling myself that it was ok to skip today because seeing as how my life sucked, it was totally acceptable to go home and cry for a million years instead of working out. I was approaching the last turn that would have put me on the road to the gym. I was not in the turning lane. The light was red in the straight lane and green in the turning lane. The turning lane (next to me) was empty.

And I had a moment.

     Yes, today (and this month) in general are pretty horrendous for me. However, one of my goals in my bigger plan is to achieve a certain body aesthetic that I haven't yet reached. It is very possible, but I keep sabotaging myself. I workout, but haven't been as consistent as necessary. I eat pretty healthy...some of the time, but have also been a little more lax in that area than I need to be to achieve results. Yes, there are times when your workout is not the end-all-be-all to your day - but if every time my life isn't going right I use it as an excuse to skip the gym, I will never see the inside of a gym again.

     In a split second decision, I moved into the turning lane (I looked first!) and headed to the gym. I told myself that I could sit in the parking lot until I was ready to go in, and if I still wasn't feeling it - I could just drive home. I sat in the parking lot and thumbed through my ipod for what I wanted to listen to while I made the decision to stay or go. I chose one of my favorite motivational phrases that happens to be from a song. The song is from a musical from which I get my namesake: Sweet Charity. It's called "I'm The Bravest Individual". Without getting into crazy detail, the reason I like Charity is because no matter how bad things get for her and no matter how poorly she's treated by people she is a genuine sweetheart to, she believes that at any moment, things can turn around. If not today, then there's always tomorrow. And when you get to the end of your rope or when you're really scared, just tell yourself that you're the bravest individual you know. You'll calm down and be able to face whatever is coming at you.

She's the bravest individual she has ever met.

    After crying all the frustration that I had out while listening to the song in the car. I wiped my eyes, sucked it up and went into the gym and completed my workout. Because in the grand scheme of things, if I don't do all I can to accomplish my fitness goals - that will just end up something else that adds to the list of "things that suck right now." I have some degree of control over this specific situation, which is not the case for other things on the afore mentioned list. It's up to me to do all I can in this area.

   The takeaway is this: Even when it's hard, do it. Unless it's impossible, do it. If you don't feel like doing it, start doing it anyway and give yourself the option to stop or continue. Your ultimate success lies with you and whether you decided to suck it up and do it or to go home and cry.


Saturday, May 25, 2013

You're Allowed To Feel Good About Yourself For No Reason At All

        It's funny that I always seem to have my "skinny days" on the days leading up to that time of the month. You know a skinny day - when for no particular reason at all, you are just feeling like "hey, maybe I'm not such a whale after all!" Well, I noticed something interesting on my most recent "skinny day." I walked past a mirror (not even a skinny mirror) and thought "Wow, I look better than I expected considering I ate oreo ice cream last night. Wonder if I'm actually losing weight or if I just dressed well today. I should get on the scale to see...."

        Seriously people? Am I the only one? I know I'm not. WTF is wrong with us? Honestly, re-read that situation and really take a moment to think about the nonsense thinking that can happen inside our heads. I looked in the mirror, I felt good about what I saw - but somehow needed to validate that I was allowed to feel that way by backing it up with proof. It wasn't enough to just feel great about myself. Nope. Only allowed to feel good if you actually lost a pound! Not to mention that I was probably heavier than normal due to my impending menstruation. Most likely bloated too. However, I clearly didn't FEEL that way at that moment. I felt great! So why was my first thought that I HAD to verify that by checking the facts?

       It is so easy to make getting fit a numbers game. Counting calories, measuring inches, pounds on the scale... these are all important aspects, but why are they the end all be all? News flash: they aren't. Having a skinny day and feeling great about yourself is an awesome accomplishment in and of itself. It doesn't need to be proven by numbers on a scale or a tape measure. I am learning now to appreciate my "skinny days" and just be happy that I'm in a place where I feel good about myself more often than I feel like a whale. And no, I don't need anything outside of myself to validate that feeling - and neither do you.

 Sweet C

Sunday, April 15, 2012

What YOU Want

Because of my interests, I've amassed a large amount of social media contacts in the fitness field. Some of them more knowledgeable than others, and many of them, like me, still figuring things out. A lot of these people can be very intense at times. They set very lofty goals and go full throttle after them. That's great. I have nothing against people attacking their dreams with all they have. It's important to remember though that their goals and their methods to achieve them are just that - theirs.

I am bombarded daily with posts about double workouts, number of calories burned, number of calories eaten, temptation foods avoided, clean diet modifications and motivational sayings. I constantly see pictures of women with flat and defined abs, very little body fat, big boobs, tight butts, toned arms, glowing skin and shiny hair. Every day I read about the newest supplement, the newest diet, going gluten free, eating organic, plant based diets and cleansing. And admittedly, I'm a part of this. I talk about this stuff frequently as well. So I'm not saying that there's anything wrong with these sort of posts - there's not. But when it's the majority of what you see every day, it can definitely start to warp your thinking.  It just leads me to remind everyone, including myself to

Make sure the body you're working to achieve is the body that YOU want. 

At least once a day, I will see someone post a motivational picture of a woman with toned-to-the-T abs. You can see each and every defined section of her stomach and it looks as though her waist is actually too tiny to wear even a size 0. And that's wonderful that she worked to achieve that body and completely fine that someone else wants to work to achieve the same results. Personally, I don't want defined abs. I like a softer look on women. I like the look of being toned but still having a little fat to squeeze. That's my preference. I can't let what other people see as the perfect body affect how I feel about my own results.


   All of these tummies look great to me!

For those people who have the time, energy and willpower to do two-a-day workouts - that's amazing. I've done it for short periods of time before and it is certainly tough. My hat goes off to that kind of dedication. But just because they are down on themselves for not getting to their second workout of the day, I'm not going to feel bad that I worked out once. For 30 minutes. And that I may not get to a workout tomorrow because I have work and have school for 14 hours out of the day and sleeping is more important to me than cardio. It doesn't make me a bad person if I only do 5 workouts a week and if I think that that is a perfectly fine number of workouts to complete on a weekly basis. It also doesn't make me a bad person if I decide that instead of lifting today, I'm going to stay home and study for my test on Friday because at the moment, that is a bigger priority for me. And that's ok, it's allowed to be.

When it comes to achieving your perfect body, it does not need to be what other people think it should be. It should be where YOU will be happiest. If getting down to a size 10 has been your lifelong goal and you are in a healthy weight range with a clean bill of health from your doctor, then who the hell is anyone to tell you that you don't look good enough? Not everyone was made to be a body builder and it's not in the cards for all of us to have a washboard stomach. Is it possible? Yes. Of course if that's what you want to achieve and are willing to work for, it's definitely possible. Is it necessary? No, it's not. Not if that's not what you in your heart of hearts want for yourself.

Thank God we live in America. A free country. Where you're allowed to want what you want and feel what you feel and for the most part do what you like. If you want abs, go get 'em. If you just want to drop a few pounds, then lose 'em. If your idea of fit doesn't "fit" with what everyone else seems to think, so long as it fits with your medical stats, then eff 'em.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Be Prepared

We can all learn a lesson or two from Scar.
I'm a full time student with a part time job. On weekdays, most often I'm leaving my house in the morning around 7am and not returning home until 11pm. The idea of purchasing most of my meals randomly throughout the day is unheard of for me. Buying food a la carte, whether it's fast food or healthy food adds up. It will never be as inexpensive as food shopping for the way I eat. I eat 5 to 6 times a day. Also, when I prepare my food myself - I know the ingredients, the nutrition content and the calorie count. Or at least I have a better general idea than I would if I was getting all of my food elsewhere. So - as a nutrition (I care about what I eat) student (I'm extremely poor), prepping and taking my food with me daily is necessary.

Although it may be necessary, that doesn't make it easy. I'm not a morning person at all. The fact that I have to be exiting my home at 7am is already quite a stretch for me. There is no way much of anything productive gets done before I leave in the morning. So not only do my meals for an entire day need to be prepped, they need to be prepped the night before. As you can imagine - with this kind of schedule, I don't have much time for cooking during the week. I pretty much need everything to be as "grab and go" as possible to make it work. So, for any of you in a similar situation, I though I would share with you what I do to prepare for my week.

1) I happen to eat the same basic things every day/ every other day which makes my prep slightly easier. If you have to have completely different foods daily, I don't know how to help you. That's not cost effective for me and I also don't have a problem eating the same things daily so I just stick with that. It's not the exact same every day, but it's the same general pool of food choices that I'm pulling from.

2) Cook everything. For this week's prep - I cooked chicken and turkey bacon, made egg quiche and steamed quinoa in the rice cooker. For the egg and the quinoa, I didn't even have to do much except wait for them to cook. The meat takes slightly more effort but I just cooked that while the quiche was in the oven and the quinoa was in the rice cooker. Multi-tasking.

3) Slice stuff. If you have veggies you'll be using as snacks or in a salad, slice them now if they'll make it the week. If they can't make it that long, slice what you need for the next couple of days. I sliced my tomato for my breakfast sandwich.

4) Store stuff. Tupperware is your best friend. Once you've cooked all this food, you need somewhere to put it. Buy a bunch of tupperware of appropriate sizing you can use to store your food for the week. Make snack bags for anything that comes in mass quantities like pretzels or nuts. Make several bags now so they're ready to grab and go during the week.

Oatmeal is quick, semi-convenient
and nutritious meal choice.

5) Prepare your meals for the next day the night before. I structure my meals/snacks into my day so I can plan the night before what I'll eat when for the next day. Whatever is non perishable can be packed in your lunchbag and ready to go. Place the other stuff in one location in an easy grabbable spot in the fridge.

6) Pick your battles. I know this method is not always the "freshest" or the the most palatable for everyone. Again, for my lifestyle - this works and this is the way it has to be. I try to minimize the amount of processed food I eat, but there is still some. And I don't beat myself up for it. I need to find a way that I can eat what I can afford, what fits into my schedule and what also fits my personal guidelines for health. Buying locally farmed, organic only food would be heaven - but it's not realistic for my lifestyle. The tomato that I buy may not be of the perfect quality, but it's still a tomato and not ketchup. And technically you should use the entire tomato the same day that you cut it. I sliced mine and will use it throughout the week. And I'm not gonna feel bad about that. Don't get so anal with your rules of food that you begin to think that the tomato you're eating was a bad choice. It's not.

Here's what I prepped for my week.

Cooked 6oz chicken
Cooked 1 package turkey bacon
Cooked one rice cooker of quinoa
Cooked 4 cups of egg white quiche
Bagged 5 bags of 1 serving of almonds
Bagged 5 bags of 1 serving of oatmeal

Other stuff I have:
Granola Bars
Sparkling Water
Protein Powder
Frozen Fruit
Whole Grain Bread
Carrots and Parsnips
Frozen Vegetables
Black Beans
Peanut Butter
Sugar Free Gum

And here's what a typical day of meals looks like for me:
Breakfast: Egg Quiche (egg whites, spinach, mushroom, onion, pepper) on an Ezekiel 7 Grain Muffin with a tomato slice, turkey bacon and mustard

Snack: Cliff granola bar (not the meal bar, the granola bar) and a small apple

Lunch: Quinoa with broccoli and black beans

Snack: Chobani plain greek yogurt with fruit or fruit jelly, almonds

Dinner: Plain oatmeal with peanut butter and banana

Post-Workout: Vanilla protein with sparkling water and frozen fruit

I bake an egg quiche for
breakfast for the week.
Now, also important to remember is that my diet is not your diet. My choices are based on my palate, my nutrition preferences, my physiological needs and my time and budget. I eat meat, dairy and carbs. I don't have a gluten sensitivity and I'm not morally opposed to animal products, so I do what I do. There's not a right or wrong, there are choices. And we are all free to make our own. Ain't it grand! And you're not locked in to any one way of doing things. Try something out, and if it doesn't work for you CHANGE IT. How will you know unless you try it first though?

So, what are your tips for being prepared? Do you do something differently? Any other pieces of advice to help us busy but wanna be healthy people? Would love to have you share your thoughts and questions below!

Sweet C

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Quit Debbie Downing Yourself

So, I had a crazy busy summer and have entered the fall in territory that I have not been in for a loooong time. I am a full time student again. I graduated from college with a bachelor's degree in 2004 and have just started classes this fall for my second degree. I am a bonified, college freshman. Again.

I am also poor like a college student. Actually, poorer since at least in college-first-time I had 3 campus jobs and didn't have grown up bills like car payments and car insurance. They actually want you to pay that ish every freaking month. Did you know that they are still touting that crap that you're supposed to spend two hours outside of class for every hour in class? Do these people understand the real world and that most students are working their way through school? Ridiculous.

With a brand new schedule, adjusting to studying and adjusting to a much, much, MUCH tighter budget - clean eating and working out have been super tough to work on. And guess what - believe it or not, they are not at the top of my priority list. *Oh shock and disbelief!* Hey, we all have lives to lead. And these things can't be number one all of the time for everyone. You know what? THAT'S OK!

Perhaps you're one of those people that gets really upset with yourself for not getting in your workout 5 days a week. Maybe you get really angry at yourself for straying from your diet for one meal. You might even consider diversions from your plan as failure. I'm here to tell you, just stop it. Fitness is not a perfection that you're striving for. It's something you incorporate into your life. There was a time when eating clean and daily workouts fit themselves perfectly into my daily schedule. Right now, I'm still trying to figure out how to make these things happen. So no - I don't ALWAYS get a workout in. Yes, I occasionally grab something on the go that is not all whole foods and might even have some added sugar. But I AM actively working on it. I'm trying to figure out when I'll have time to workout and study and find a job before I become homeless. I still track my calories and try to make the best food decisions possible in the situation. And eventually I'll figure it out and get into a groove and figure out how to achieve my goals on a budget. But I don't consider myself failing in the meantime.

It's ok to not get it right straight out of the gate. It's ok to take weeks or months to figure out how to make a healthy lifestyle work for you. You can't come down on yourself for not being the model fitness citizen in 24 hours. That's ridiculous. If you give up because you can't be perfect, you're much worse off than if you keep pushing through and figure it out. As long as you're actively making an effort and not just sitting around and complaining without actually DOING anything, you're headed in the right direction. All you have to do is just keep going.

Sweet C