Monthly Archives: February 2013

Establishing a Routine

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As part of individual supervision today, my on-site supervisor at my Practicum and I were discussing self-care with regard to diet, exercise, and weight loss. I divulged that over the past 13 months, I have lost — and maintained the weight-loss of — 35 pounds. She asked me how I had done it with such a busy schedule. (I imagine that she was trying to place my running and strength-training sessions in her daily routine, and having difficulty. Everyone’s busy schedule is unique, so what worked for me won’t necessarily work for her, and vice versa.) She is a licensed professional counselor (LPC), which is my down-the-road aspiration. Her schedule is so action-packed that I wasn’t surprised to hear her say she doesn’t have time to work out, and when she does find time, there are other things she’d rather be doing.

Our conversation got me to thinking…

When I’m out in the real world, I (hopefully) won’t be trying to balance a full courseload, planning a wedding, finding summer employment, establishing an Internship site, traveling back and forth between school and Richmond, managing a somewhat long-distance relationship, carrying out daily-living tasks and classwork assignments, and finding time to exercise and eat well.

However, I will be trying to manage a household, balance my career with my marriage and my social life, and find time to exercise and eat well. Lord only knows what my life will look like when kids are factored into that equation…

This not-so-distant-future got me to thinking:

How valuable it is to establish a routine so that when all of these requirements, time demands, and stressors collide, I will (again, hopefully) already know where treating my body right fits into all of that chaos! I have an established routine now, and even the added 10+ hours of weekly Practicum didn’t disrupt my routine much. Next semester, when I’m in my Internship, I’ll have to re-establish my routine yet again. This is all good practice for Big Girl World and the adult responsibilities that come with it.

That being said, I’m off to the gym for a little QT with my iPod and some weight machines 😉

[Edited to add: For the month of February, I traveled 56.22 miles! In keeping with my 2,013 in 2013 goal, I “should have” traveled 154.42 miles for a total of 325.389 miles in 2013 thus far. Last February, I traveled 41.83 miles. Always improving!]

Trash TV + Running

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Question: What do trash TV and running have in common?

Answer: Everything!

I am not ashamed to admit that while I’m watching trash TV, I can run all over creation (figuratively, of course). “Repo Games,” “Judge Judy,” “COPS,” “World’s Wildest Police Videos,” “Jerry Springer,” “Maury”… I watch it all.

This morning, the gym was blissfully empty. There was just little old me, sweating my ass off, watching the “Repo Games” marathon. You know, exercising the same brain cells that are earning my Master’s degree in clinical mental health counseling.

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Sometimes I also watch “real” TV while I run, but the trashy shows are just so much more entertaining. I particularly like the trivia shows — hence today’s “Repo Games” marathon.

I ran 4 miles while people got their cars repossessed for thinking that California is a territory of the U.S., that the video game acronym GTA stands for “guns thrown around,” that an octogon has two to four sides, and that there is a television show called “That ’90s Show” on which the characters smoke weed 😉

Watching TV while I run may not be the best use of my smarts, but it sure does beat staring out the window, or staring down the time on a long run.

#sorrynotsorry

Question: Do you have a guilty-pleasure trash TV show?

Surrendering (And How It Wasn’t as Bad as I Thought It Would Be)

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“Mama said there’d be days like this, there’d be days like this, Mama said…”

Okay, I’m done. I’m no songster, anyway. The lyrics just floated through my brain and seemed so appropriate for today’s post 😉

I’m not usually one of those women who willingly admits she can’t do something. Actually, I’m more of one of those I-Am-Woman-Hear-Me-Roar types.

I always try to be straight with you, so I’ll be straight right now – the mixture of activities taking place in my life right now is stressful, and at times, overwhelming. I am completing my Practicum experience, attempting to solidify summer employment, working on securing an Internship site for the next academic year, planning a wedding, trying to fit in regular exercise, and managing my apartment as well as daily living tasks and weekly schoolwork. Whew!

[Please note: I am in no way trying to insinuate that my life is any busier or more action-packed than anyone else’s; in fact, I am trying not to play the comparison game these days. I’m simply stating that my life is chaotic in my world.]

That being said, sometimes I need a little assistance balancing everything. After weeks of debating and weighing the pros and cons, I decided to seek counseling at the college’s counseling center.

I thought I would waltz right in, flash my college ID, and get started discussing stress with one of the counselors. Come to find out, my college’s counseling center requires a record of a recent physical and immunization records, as well as a completed student medical information form before the counselors can see any student—even a graduate student. Hence why I made a trip to Richmond in the middle of the week for a physical.

As I was texting Ian about my difficulty in even establishing an appointment, he said something to me that resonated deeply because it is such a prime controversy in this country right now: This is a ridiculous amount of hoops. I wish it were this difficult to buy a weapon. (That’s a different topic for a different day.)

You might be asking yourself, why would you choose to see a college counseling center when there are “real” counselors all over the place? The answer is, for three reasons. Primarily, the college counseling center is close, and there is no waiting list for new clients. Second, it is a free service afforded to all students, graduate and undergraduate. Private counseling practices can be very pricey. Third, and perhaps most difficult to admit, I don’t hold a particularly positive view of college counseling centers. I say “real” counselors in quotes because the counselors at colleges are real counselors—they have experience and training, and many of them graduated from programs similar or identical to mine. They are often stereotyped as either young, hot-off-the-press graduates with little or no experience in the issues experienced by college students who “don’t really help you,” or antiquated older men who live to prescribe medication. In reality, they are rarely either of these undesirables. Hey, after completing 60 credit hours post-Bachelor’s degree and 700 hours of experience, I won’t appreciate it too much if future prospective clients don’t think of me as a “real” counselor! I’m making the best attempt I know how at overcoming my mental stigma against seeing a counselor on a college campus.

So, here I am, ready to see a counselor for the first time since I was fifteen… and still waiting for the results of my physical to arrive. I kind of doubt the counseling center will turn me away if my blood sugar is too low or my cholesterol is too high. I just want to talk to somebody about my freaking stress level!

Someone asked me recently, “Can’t you use some of the techniques you’ve been taught for helping clients deal with stress?” Well, yes and no. That task is easier said than done. It’s kind of like talking to your best friend about what’s bothering you over and over and receiving the same answer each time, and then finally breathing a sigh of relief when you gain a fresh perspective from talking to someone else about what’s bothering you. Yes, I can apply what I’ve learned to my own life, but I think a fresh perspective is just what I need right now.

For example, my meltdown a few weeks ago was actually not the result of stress over floral arrangements or photographers’ prices or cupcake flavors; it was the result of cumulative stress. Since said meltdown, I’m happy to report that my stress level has been reduced significantly 😉

Again, I’ll be straight with you – it’s not easy admitting to people that you need help managing life stressors that others seem to balance with such ease and grace. When I worry about what people might assume when I tell them I’m seeking counseling, I try to remember that each person has unique stressors in his or her life, each person possesses different coping mechanisms, and each person experiences a different outcome as the result of the stressors and the ways they deal with them.

For the first time in my life, I’m looking forward to the ways counseling can benefit my personal life, let alone my career. Stress can be a difficult animal to harness and subdue, and I’m looking forward to letting someone else help me take the reins for a bit. As always, updates to follow!

I’m off to the gym to sweat out a little stress 😉

Question: How do you cope with life stressors?

Eighty-Twenty

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I experience tremendous guilt after I eat at certain restaurants. For example, I often joke that Olive Garden is my alma mater. But seriously, I love me some O.G. My favorite dishes involve seafood, pasta, and some seriously rich and cheesy sauce. Plus, who can resist endless salad and those warm breadsticks?

I experience guilt after I have a couple of beers, knowing each cider is probably upward of 150 (empty) calories.

I’ve even experienced guilt after sampling cupcakes for our wedding. For our wedding. I mean, for real, somebody has to try them to make sure they’re fit to serve to guests. And it’s not like I ate six of them by myself.

See? This type of justification is what I mean.

I’ve always known that striving for that eighty-twenty ratio of healthy eats to indulgence is ideal, but that nobody’s diet is perfect. I guess knowing and understanding really are two separate entities.

Somehow, I feel guilty either way — if I eat cleanly for an entire week, I don’t feel as though I’ve allowed myself any “freedom”; if I eat a little too much Valentine’s Day candy, or if I go through all three Skinny Cows in three days (when I meant to spread them out over a week), I feel as though I’ve allowed myself too much freedom. It’s a lose-lose situation for me.

This past week, I had a serious “ah-ha” moment regarding the eighty-twenty mantra: I’m doing what I set out to do. I’m eating a balanced, nutritious diet full of all of the natural goodness my body needs and craves, and I’m giving myself the wiggle-room to have dessert and richer choices here and there. I’m finding ways to fit strength-training and cardio workouts into my new routine. I feel more energetic and productive than ever. But I also have a constant side dish of guilt.

The guilt is entirely unnecessary (Ah-ha!). If I’m accomplishing my goal(s) and I’m feeling good about myself and my choices, then there’s no need to feel guilty. End of story 😉

Happy Saturday, blends! I’m off to the grocery store!

Question: Do you ever experience food-related guilt? How do you combat it? What was your latest “ah-ha” moment?

Let’s Talk Baby Food

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Wow! Thanks for the support of Monday’s post! Turns out y’all really like your bars. Ironic…

Part of today’s post actually is about baby food, but not in the context of a baby eating it. Got your attention, didn’t it? 😉 I’m the one who eats the baby food around here!

Awhile back, I read posts on several of my favorite bloggers’ sites about the pouches their toddlers were eating. That got me to thinking… If these women, who value wholesome, nutritious foods, have sampled them and feel comfortable with their children eating these pouches… they must be good and good for you, right?

I decided to give ’em a whirl. (Not just because I love spending extra time in the Natural Foods section.) I picked up a few varieties at Kroger – blueberry banana, carrot apricot mango, beet-and-something-or-other (I do not recommend the beet flavor; both it and the carrot were very earthy-tasting), butternut squash and banana (I was afraid to try that flavor), so on and so forth. I had my misgivings after trying a few of the veggie-heavy ones. I made faces in class so contorted I was forced to reveal that I was sucking on organic baby food. Yep – I’m that girl. I wonder what Freud would have to say about my choice in snack foods…

All in all, though, they’re delicious. They have a good bit of sugar, but it’s natural. The ingredient list is short and entirely pronounceable and recognizable: organic beets, organic carrots, organic blueberries, organic pureed banana, etc. They’re about a hundred calories apiece, and they’re surprisingly satisfying.

If you’re looking for a healthy alternative to your same-old-same, I give these my stamp of approval.

Switching gears completely…

I want to discuss a commercial I’ve been seeing a lot recently that just bugs me. It’s for the Slimful bar. Have you seen these commercials?

You eat one 90-calorie bar, drink a glass of water, and (presumably) eat less at a meal. In my mind, if you’re going to be consuming approximately 270 calories in Slimful bars each day, why not apply those calories toward nature’s nutritional supplements? (Hippie much?) I mean, instead of a bar, why not toss back a banana and some whole-wheat toast with Nutella? Or an apple with a dab of PB?

I’ll admit that I have no idea what’s in the Slimful bar, but honestly, I don’t want to know. It’s a rapid weight-loss strategy, which in my (observational) experience, is a recipe for unhealthy weight loss and almost immediate weight-gain following the “strategy.” I’m much more pro clean-eating and whole, natural foods. It can’t be that great, or CVS and Walgreen’s would be marketing fresh fruits and veggies and whole grains. Sigh.

What really irks me about the Slimful commercials is the slogan: “Eating less is a beautiful thing.” Of course, of course, everything in moderation. Five small meals a day. Drink an 8-ounce glass of water before a meal. Recognize that sometimes thirst is mistaken for hunger. Keep snacks on-hand to avoid overeating/binges when hunger strikes unexpectedly.

We’ve all heard it all, right?

So maybe gorging yourself isn’t the way to go, especially if you’re trying to lose weight. But it just really burns my toast that a bar is being pushed as a substitute for adequate, legitimate nutrition. The commercial even depicts the “meal” consumed after the bar as being a few meager pieces of broccoli and some lame, undoubtedly flavorless meat. Let’s be real – who eats like that? Rabbits? My mouth doesn’t water thinking about some bar prior to a less-than-satisfactory meal; it waters when I think about all the ways there are to fill a plate with naturally delicious, naturally nutritious foods that keep me fuller longer, satisfy my sweet tooth, and give me more energy than some crummy bar.

Please excuse me while I readjust my attitude.

Alright, my apologies. Rant complete. I hope you are having a thrilling Thursday, blends!

P.S. My shipment of Chobani Bite is expected to arrive March 6 – much “oohing” and “ahhing” plus reviews to come!

Lara vs. Luna

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Ohmygosh ohmygosh ohmygosh ohmygoshhh!

I JUST found out – while I was at my Practicum site, no less – that I was selected as one of the Chobani #lovebites winners of a case of Chobani Bite!!! I have yet to be able to taste these coveted little Greek delicacies, so I am BEYOND ecstatic right now. Partially because I never win anything… much less something as cool as a case of Cho!

Now, on to business as usual.

Contrary to the title of the post, I don’t mean for this to be some kind of “showdown” between Larabars and Luna Bars. In fact, I used to have a pretty strict allegiance to KIND bars. Once I discovered those babies, all bets were off. I couldn’t get enough of flavor combos like pomegranate, pistachio, sea salt, dark chocolate, macadamia nut, cinnamon… you get the idea. But eventually, I knew I’d have to branch out, if only for the cost (my grocery store typically carries them for $1.79 a pop!).

I had tried both Larabars and Luna Bars before, but I hadn’t gotten hooked like I immediately did with KIND. Ever since I recorded my per-diem nutritional intake, I’ve been on the lookout for sources of higher protein and higher fiber. I’m hoping that once I finally find the culprit behind my weight-loss plateau, I can get back to being a slow-and-steady loser 😉

I want to just take a minute for Confession Time. I, A.K., admit it – I’ve totally thought about succumbing to the easy and alluring nature of Weight Watchers. I’ve looked into weight-loss programs that boast untold health benefits, such as Whole30 or going gluten-free. I’ve even considered picking up one of those ridiculous “supplements” that Kim Kardashian or someone else as equally flimsy in nutritional advice endorses. The thing is, none of these solutions are me. They all require one or more factors I’m not willing to uphold: drinking 64 ounces of water per day (wildly unrealistic for me), counting points (I’m not hatin’, “because it works”), scouring labels for low-fat or fat-free options instead of seeking out wholesome, natural ingredients, and perhaps worst of all in my mind, severely and unnecessarily restricting my diet (everything in moderation, not moderation of everything). I discussed with my doctor diets that require the elimination of certain foods or food groups (e.g. gluten, dairy, fats) and her take was, if you don’t need to do it, don’t do it. I agree!

Anyway, I digress. So, back to bars. I recently picked up some Luna Bars that have as much as 12 grams of protein in one bar! Many have 9g, which is still impressive to me. Neither variety really has cons, just pluses and even bigger pluses. For example, Luna Bars are tasty, they’re not saturated with fat (get it?), and so many of the flavors are chocolatey goodness. Larabars have a list of ingredients that is both short and sweet (get it?!), plus they’re soft and chewy even after having sat against the ice pack in my lunchbox for a few hours.

I’ll be real with you – the calorie count in some varieties of bars scares me, so I tend not to buy any that have 200+ calories. The fat content can be scary, too, especially because bars boasting some of the yummiest flavors or seemingly “healthiest” ingredients may be as much as 190 calories with 170 calories from fat. Yikes!

I’ve also learned that one has to be careful when buying protein bars; the label may read “X calories per serving,” and there might be two servings per bar. Who would’ve thought that one bar wouldn’t be one serving?! Sugar can also be a tricky animal. Flavors with “real” fruit, oats, bran, and whole-anything in the label can sometimes pack as much as 20g of sugar in one tiny bar. #WTF

I love my Luna Bars, my Larabars, and my KIND bars (almost) unconditionally, for different reasons, but I am also willing to branch out and try new bars. If you have suggestions for high-fiber and/or high-protein bars, I’d be super grateful! I love to throw one in my lunch, eat one at the break during class, or eat one 30 minutes or so before I do a heavy cardio workout.

Question: What’s your favorite variety of bar? Have you tried Chobani Bite yet?

A Hodgepodge of My Thoughts

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In my mind, the best kind of learning is unanticipated or unplanned lessons. I got a healthy dose of such knowledge this weekend. Warning: The following is a collection of my scattered, slightly overwhelmed thoughts.

I mentioned recently that I had a bit of a meltdown related to wedding planning… So naturally, I took a week or so off from the planning agenda and focused on me, myself, and I. I exercised mindfully and got myself more centered. I ate well and tried to stay away from the booze. I scheduled a physical and discussed diet and exercise with my doctor. And perhaps most importantly, I put a lot of effort into ensuring that I got enough quality sleep. All of that helped a lot, and when I was finally ready to think about wedding business again, I was actually excited about it.

Maybe some most people live(d) to plan their wedding and soak(ed) up every minute of planning bliss, but I am not one such bride. Don’t get me wrong — I’m loving exploring color schemes, floral arrangement possibilities, menu options, and dress styles; I’m just not so gung-ho about the pressure surrounding it all. It literally feels as though if you get engaged today, you should have had the reception venue and the photographer booked yesterday.

Okay, enough of my rant.

This weekend has been a busy and planning-heavy one. Ian and I had a venue tour scheduled for 4:30 yesterday, a belated Valentine’s Day double date with my parents at 6:30, a cupcake tasting at 1:00 this afternoon,

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and a plantation tour at 4:00. Whew! Needless to say, I am on information (and junk indulgent food) overload right now!

I don’t think I did myself any favors by indulging in (a savory but insanely unhealthy) Mickey D’s breakfast this morning… But on the other hand, it’s nice to know that my body has grown used to wholesome, nutritious foods, and that that’s what it craves. It pretty much rejected hashbrowns and McGriddles, which is fine by me. I don’t need more than one warning that grease and trans fat are no match for my Kashi with banana slices or my Chobani with chia seeds and granola 😉

Ian and I planned a more health-conscious dinner of grilled chicken Caesar salads and fresh mango and Granny Smith apple. Between the cupcake samplings and the multiple ciders at Cap Ale Friday night, I’m pretty sure I’ll be on workout double-duty next week in preparation for Operation Spring Break Cruise (T-minus 22 days!). My plan isn’t of the stereotypical cleanse-or-fast-until-I’m-bikini-ready variety; more so, I’m trying to tone up and do as much cardio as possible in preparation for a week of fantastic food and fun in the sun. I’m also attempting (attempting being the keyword) to train for a 10k at the end of April.

This weekend has been absolutely fabulous, especially seeing Ian so animated and involved in asking questions and touring venues. I am beyond ready to kick back with my salad, put my feet up, and watch some mindless TV.

[Yet again, my apologies for the photo-light post. I’ve been way too busy, and honestly, way too uninspired recently to write much of substance. I’ll have more for you when I’m not feeling like such a cottonheaded ninnymuggins. Thanks for checking in!]

Hope you are having a phenomenal Saturday, blends!

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