Kindness, Compassion, and Love

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As I have previously mentioned, life hasn’t exactly been easy for me the last few weeks. Personal issues have left me feeling down and angry with no real outlet to express those emotions. Exercising keeps me sane, it keeps me from bursting into tears or starting to yell, but my support network has been what keeps me steady and calm.

I work had to take care of myself. I am a completely independent person and live my life the best I can with the resources I have. I write in my gratitude journal to bring myself joy. Or I go for a walk at lunch to calm nagging voices of fear and loathing. Or I turn to barre class or a run to help funnel some of my emotions elsewhere. But I also have an amazing support system that help me lead a better life.

I have always wanted to be perfect, to be the best, and I strive not to need anyone else’s help. But sometimes, it is okay to turn to someone else for support or reassurance, or a helping hand. No person is an island. We all need help sometimes, we all need extra love sometimes, and we all need a support system. Some would argue that they don’t and you know what, if that works for them, then I am happy for them. But I need my tribe.

Yesterday, during a stressful time and moment with emotions bubbling to the top, I reached out to a friend whose kind words helped me greatly. Then she surprised me with the flowers in the photo above.

Asking for help isn’t weakness, it is opening yourself up to more love. I am so grateful for the supportive friends and family that I have that truly enrich my life and make me a better person.

Strive to open yourself up and allow more space for kindness, compassion, and love. I know that doing so has changed my life.

What I Eat

The last few weeks have been a little crazy due to some events in my personal life, but I have still tried to work hard to eat well and maintain a healthy diet. This past weekend I still found the time to food prep even on time-crunched days, and I am so glad I did!

I thought that I would share with you some of my typical workweek staples so that you can get a better idea of what I eat and how it can be incorporated into your busy life if it is appealing to you. I alternate dinner depending on what I am in the mood for and what works with my schedule that week. So today I will mostly share my breakfast, lunch and snacks.

Snack 1: Peanut Butter Toast and a Banana

Before a morning run or barre class I will make a slice of toast and coat it with a light layer of peanut butter. I have found that this is the perfect sized snack before a workout and that it doesn’t mess with my stomach. I used to eat a banana before a run and my stomach would always cramp and hurt, so it is just a matter of trying new things until you see what works.

I eat the banana after I get ready for work while I am walking to the train. It ties me over until I get to the office and make myself breakfast.

Breakfast: Oatmeal with Almond Butter and Berries

I bring all the ingredients for a yummy and pro

 

tein-packed morning oatmeal to work and mix it up there. It is delicious and helps me start my day off right. I like to add whatever berries I am craving that week such as strawberries, blueberries, or raspberries.

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Snack 2: Lightly Salted Almonds

Usually around 11 a.m. I get hungry and will reach into my snack drawer and grab a handful of lightly salted almonds. I always count them out to make sure I am not going over the serving size.

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Lunch: Salad with Turkey Burger Patties, Spinach, Tomatoes, Croutons, and Honey Balsamic Dressing

On Sundays I typically prep the turkey burger meat for these salads, but sometimes it varies. This week I did chicken burger patties and one day I did black bean burger patties. I love all of these protein options and buy lean meats to keep the salad healthy.

My salad is large, and by large I mean huge! I get three servings of veggies from this salad so I stay full after eating. The croutons are my little treat and I love the texture they add to the salad.

Snack 3: Nectarine or Carrots and Hummus

Depending what I have on hand and what I am in the mood for I typically have either a piece of fruit or carrots and hummus as an afternoon snack. They both satisfy my hunger cravings and keep my waistline happier than if I ate the brownies that always appear at work.

So that is my workday eating routine! Some days a piece of chocolate sneaks in there or some things get swapped out, but most weeks it is the same. I love to eat well at work because it keeps my energy up and makes me feel better.

Mindful Moments

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Life is busy. I am sure that you can all attest to having a hectic life that can be hard to manage and can keep your head spinning. In this crazy life, sometimes it is challenging to slow down, take a step back, and just take in our surroundings. Especially in the age of technology where a distraction is as close as your hand, which is holding your smartphone.

I often find myself scrolling through my phone without even realizing I picked it up. So sometimes I strive to completely unplug and just take in life and the things around me. This morning I chose to do this on my walk home from barre class.

The walk was short, less than ten minutes, but during that time I didn’t look at my phone and instead just took in the beauty around me. It is a beautiful day here in the Boston area (first day of summer!) and it felt nice to look up at the clouds in the sky, see the lush trees, and full flowers instead of scrolling through Instagram or texting a friend.

The world is so beautiful and it started my day off right to mindfully look around and enjoy it. I took a mindfulness based stress reduction class and while I still couldn’t seem to get into meditating, I did enjoy the small acts of mindful thinking that I learned. Mindful eating was a great tool in that course and it helped me more thoroughly enjoy my food when I took the time to slowly and honestly enjoy it.

Other mindful activities that I strive to do daily:

  1. Go for a walk at lunch and leave my phone behind.
  2. Write in my gratitude journal.
  3. Have a cup of mint tea and drink it slowly, while focusing on enjoying it.

These mindful activities help me stay a little more sane and allow me to enjoy life a bit more.

Avoiding Temptation

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Temptation should be in the address of my office building. It seems that everywhere I turn there are sweets or other treats lurking around every corner.

Whether someone brings in candy or there is leftover food from a meeting, sometimes it can be really hard to ignore. When my office is chock-full of treats these are the tricks I like to use to avoid temptation:

  1. Drink a big glass of water – this makes you realize that aren’t hungry, you are just bored and craving junk.
  2. Treat myself to something else instead – like a sugar-free iced tea.
  3. Write in my gratitude journal – this little distraction makes me focus on myself instead of my surroundings.
  4. Take a little walk – the treats will probably be gone by the time I get back!
  5. Write down your goals – this activity reminds you of why you don’t need a muffin or bagel as an afternoon snack.

Avoiding temptation can be extremely challenging and frustrating, but each time you do, it makes you feel good and gets you one step closer to your goals!

Life, Love, and the Pursuit of Fitness

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Lately one of the few things keeping me sane is exercising.

I have found that when all else has gone to hell that fitness is a constant. Fighting with your boyfriend? Pound the pavement with a run and get a release. Had a bad day at work? Hitting the gym can push those endorphins into hyper-speed. Exercising has a way of staying constant when all else has gone a little bit nutty.

I have found that sometimes what I truly need on a bad day is a run. Going out for a run changes my whole mood and perspective. Even a walk by myself can help me clear my mind and relax a bit. But squat jumps or a shaky sweat at the barre helps get the feelings out just as easily.

I’m extremely lucky to have a partner who understands this. He knows that I am the best version of myself after a sweat session and that I’m not myself when I can’t find time to workout. So for me, exercising has become such a consistent part of my life that I become anxious or down when I am without it. For many reasons this is great, it means that fitness has become such an important part of my life that it is ingrained in my routine. Unfortunately that also means that I am a chronic sufferer of exercise guilt.

When I miss a workout I don’t only feel less like myself, but I also beat myself up for skipping it or not being able to fit it in my schedule. I have worked hard to remind myself that rest days are useful, and that sometimes my body needs a break, but those negative thoughts creep in. Do any of you suffer from this?

For me, skipping a workout feels like a failure, but I am working diligently to retrain my brain that that is not the case. Life happens and there isn’t always time for a sweat session, and that is okay! It doesn’t change who you are as a person or seriously impact your overall health if you miss a run or a lifting session. Staying consistent and happy is what’s key, and sometimes that means allowing yourself to miss that barre class or that long run. Do what is best for you and you will start to feel great!

Monday Motivation: Be Kind to Yourself

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Life gives us all sorts of reasons to be unkind. Anger, sadness, disappointment, and other emotions can all lead to unkindness to others and to ourselves.

Lately I have thought a lot about kindness, and about the sentiment that you should always be kind because you never know what someone else is going through or dealing with. I think that while this thought should be applied throughout your life, it should also be applied to yourself.

I try to walk through life with love and kindness for others. I am always quick to offer a smile and give a compliment and I never want to leave an evening with a friend or family member without making sure that they know how appreciated they are.

While being kind to others is a big priority for me, being kind to myself doesn’t always get as much attention.

I have spent much of my adolescent and adult life living inside a bubble of negative self-talk. I have never thought that I was pretty enough, fit enough, thin enough, or good enough. I doubt myself at every turn and speak harshly to my reflection in the mirror. I want this to stop, I need this to stop.

Those around me, who love me or care for me are never as harshly critiquing my body as I do every single day. In fact, few strangers likely give a moment’s thought to my belly flatness or thick thighs. My unkindness is limited to me and me alone.

So this week, I am practicing self-love and kindness. I went up a few pounds over the last few days but instead of beating myself up, I am kindly reminding myself that it has been a tough time and that I can work on refocusing this week. While life isn’t always easy, and there will always be obstacles, you must remember that kindness gets you so much further than hatred or anger.

This is how I am staying kind this week:

  1. Everytime I look in the mirror, reminding myself of three positive traits I have.
  2. Taking time to write in my gratitude journal and including one thing about myself that I am grateful for.
  3. Refraining from comments that put myself down or belittle my talents and achievements.

I want to have a kind week that makes my love for myself grow, I look forward to accomplishing it.

Finding Your Fit

After a few weeks of barre classes, I have to admit that I think I have fallen in love. The last few days I have been unable to make it to a class because of some personal life events that kept me out of the studio. Much to my surprise I have found myself craving barre and truly missing it after just a few days.

Especially now that summer has struck Boston, the hot weather makes me want to avoid long runs and instead head to the studio. I still want to make running a major part of my workout routine, but I am trying to stay open to the idea that barre could take first fiddle.

It is very interesting seeing my fit-life change and progress as I try new things. I plan on switching up my runs and incorporating more hill-work, as well as signing up for a new race to motivate me.

It feels good to be making progress towards my goals and feeling changes in my body. Health and fitness feels so great and I’m so happy I’m committed to it.