Tag Archives: Blog

Gym Hiatus, Over

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I got back into the gym yesterday after having been out for more than two full weeks due to our family lake-cation and then my first week of work plus Bible School last week. I was anticipating a difficult run, but I surprised myself by not only powering through 3.2 miles in 34 minutes, but breaking my PTR for a 5k! I wish that in real life, my body kept me at the steady pace the treadmill does… But I guess that’s part of the “fun” in the challenge of competing in races.

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I am not above the post-workout sweaty selfie. I guess I'm not above not having friends, either...

I am not above the post-workout sweaty selfie. I guess I’m not above not having friends, either…

Today, I was able to get in 28 laps in the 25-meter pool before the teenage lifeguards up on their high-horses blew their whistles with all their might, acting like the British were coming over a few rumbles of thunder. Swimming is my favorite form of cross-training, and probably the only sport at which I’ve ever felt I was good.

I’m not nearly on the pace of my half-marathon training schedule that I’d like to be. However, my goal for June was to feel relatively comfortable running six miles at a pop; goal accomplished! My goal for July, then, was to feel comfortable running nine miles at a time. Not only am I nowhere near feeling comfortable with such a distance, I have never run as far! I’m hoping to get back on track with my training as soon as possible, though comfortability with nine miles in the next two weeks is probably not feasible.

Neither my half buddy, Lauren, nor I has maintained our training schedules as strictly as we would have liked to, and we’ll readily admit it. I’m glad that we’ve agreed to move our half back at least until October, which will give us more time to train, to save money, and to prepare ourselves mentally for the challenge which lies ahead. Neither of us wants to lose sight of the goal we set four months ago, but we also don’t want to pay good money to be unprepared for something that could potentially cause us injury. Kudos to all you working moms out there who train for marathons year-round; I have the ultimate respect for you and how much dedication it must take to be so disciplined!

In other news, I had a revelation recently. Pretty much up til now, I’ve blogged when I had “something to say.” I try not to post vapid,  empty material that isn’t worthy of anyone’s time. Not every post needs to be pithy or tug at your heartstrings, either. I just want to strike a balance. It occurred to me, though, that plenty of my favorite bloggers write something simple every day (or almost every day) in an attempt to give readers a window in their everyday lives. I’ve decided that as long as time allows, that’s the kind of blog I want to maintain. Here’s to making an effort at blogging as often as possible to keep you updated on what I do day-to-day! 🙂

P.S. Is there anything in particular you’d like to see on SWASOV? I’m happy to oblige!

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You Want Me to Make WHAT?!

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First of all, let me just say that the reason I haven’t been blogging as regularly doesn’t have much to do with my cruise; it’s writer’s block! I don’t have much to write about because so much of what I’m working on (Practicum, schoolwork, Internship placement, wedding biz) is confidential (or stuff I’ve written about far too often to even be considered “often.”)

Plus, if I’m being totally honest with myself — and with you guys — I’ve fallen off the healthy-living bandwagon a bit and I’m feeling a little disgruntled. I’m working my way back on, but there isn’t exactly a novel there. If you’re still reading, thanks for sticking with me!

Now, for today’s topic…

Ian is holding me down and forcing asking me to create a bracket for the college basketball championships. In case I’ve never mentioned it before, I am no sports aficionado. I know this much about sports:

Yeah. That much.

It’s not that I’m one of those hair-twirled-around-the-finger, gum-snapping, dumb-on-purpose (or-just-dumb-no-one-is-really-sure) girls. It’s that for the most part, sports simply do not interest me.

I actually know a fair amount about basketball. I played (not well, I might add) for a number of years in elementary school and middle school. I’ve been attending University of Richmond games with my dad since I was a toddler. I went to a number of games to support my Longwood Lancers, plus Ian and I continue to support Hampden-Sydney basketball.

But honestly, if it ain’t live, I don’t care. That’s why this bracket business is annoying.

If there’s one thing I hate more than watching sports on TV, it’s being left out of something that everyone else is doing. Yes, I’m five. 

This begs the age-old question, “If everyone else jumped off a bridge, would you jump off, too?”

Well, in the case of the college basketball bracket bridge-jumping, then yes.

So tonight, while I’m cozied up on my couch rewatching season 2 of Pretty Little Liars and smiling into my Healthy Choice Greek froyo, I’ll be completing this %&$#@ bracket.

You’re welcome, honey.

P.S. Have you ever created a sports bracket before? 

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?

My Personal “Hunger Games”

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Maybe I live an insanely blah life, or maybe I tend to enjoy things that other people loathe, but perhaps the only thing I like one of my favorite things about starting a new semester is renewing myself from the inside out.

Last semester, I wrote about my near-constant hunger. I consulted my doctor and had bloodwork done, but I only experienced relief for about two months. Of all of the factors we discussed that could have been contributing to my hunger, my doctor and I never discussed whether I was eating enough of the right stuff. For example, I know my diet is full of leafy green veggies, water, fresh fruit, and a variety of bright colors… but I don’t know whether I’m consuming enough healthy carbs or sufficient protein.

At the beginning of this semester, in order to combat my baffling hunger, I’ve decided to keep a log of the (measurable) carbohydrates, total fat, and protein I’m consuming during the week. Being that I’m not a registered dietician, nor am I in the habit of driving myself insane, by “measurable” I mean that raw, fresh, and whole foods will not be included (unless they are supplied with a label) — because I don’t want to measure the number of raspberries on my cereal or Google the nutrition info for one-third of a cucumber. This also means that I won’t count meals eaten out (which are typically on the weekend, anyway).

I am NOT counting calories. I hate the idea of a restrictive diet; I prefer to make an attempt at eating as many whole, fresh foods as possible to strive for balance. Sometimes, I eat what I want when I want to eat it. C’est la vie. I’m not going to get my panties in a wad over a cookie or a Diet Coke.

I am also NOT turning this exercise into one of my myriad “challenges.” I do not intend to alter the foods I normally eat to fool myself into believing my carb/fat/protein consumption is sufficient or over-and-above. I’m simply making a record so I can ascertain whether my consumption is compatible with my RDV and my level of exercise.

Not because I think you’re on the edge of your seat biting your nails with anticipation, but because blogging is an easy way to hold myself accountable, I’ll be reporting back with stats!

Here’s to (hopefully) solving my hunger woes, and to being one step closer to a fitter, more nutrition-oriented me! 😉

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Could there be a cuter way to take notes?!

[Edited to add: Today I consumed 164g carbohydrates, 39g protein, and 8g fat. Low on all counts.]

Groupon + Cupcake-Tasting

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This afternoon, my wonderful mother surprised me by bringing home a half-dozen Carytown Cupcakes! Maybe it was because she knows I have an insatiable sweet tooth, maybe it’s because she thought I might like a sweet treat after my power-walk and doing a trillion loads of laundry, or maybe she was just being my mom 😉 Either way, her surprise totally hit the spot! We split a cookie dough cupcake after lunch. Full disclosure: we’ll probably split another one after dinner.

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She selected red velvet, carrot, cookie dough, raspberry lemonade (vice-versa cake and frosting), and an adorable Hershey-bar-adorned flavor she can’t remember for us to taste-test. Ian and I haven’t made any decisions regarding cupcakes vs. a traditional cake for the wedding, but hey, I’ll taste-test anything that has the word “cake” in it.

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Part of the reason she splurged on Carytown Cupcakes was due to Groupon. She had been hoarding holding on to some sort of fantastic deal I didn’t know about, and she decided to use it for the greater good… (a.k.a. me). She got 6 cupcakes, normally priced at $16 for a half-dozen, for just eight bucks!

Another reason is because we got caught up looking at bakery websites last night — Carytown Cupcakes, Sweetly Smitten, Ukrop’s Bakery, Baker’s Kitchen, Pearl’s Cupcake Shoppe… — until well after our bedtimes. I gotta say, all of the promos, offers, packages, and decisions (decisions, decisions!) are overwhelming. Maybe my taste buds can help me choose, eh? [Sorry, honey, but this is one taste-test I’ll be conducting without you.]

Thankfully for Ian and me, a lot of the research I’ve done indicates that most bakeries will schedule tasting consultations with couples and let them sample several flavors gratis. [Guess I’ll have to kick up my workout regimen…] We’ve scheduled one such consultation for next month, and I am beyond excited! Right now, I feel like things are still in the “discussion” phase, and with the advent of upcoming appointments, I feel like we’ll transition into the “planning” phase.

I hope you all have a *sweet* evening, my blends!

Disclaimer: I don’t promise that the blog won’t be flooded with far-too-much wedding-planning info, but I do promise that the blog won’t be all wedding, all the time. I’m just really excited to share everything with you!

The Blog Turns One!

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It’s official: Saturday marks one year of blogging! Girl Emerging taught me tremendously about healthy living, recipes, dietary experimentation, fitness, running “competitively,” transitioning from lacto-ovo pescetarian to omnivore, and writing in a public forum. This site, as my new-ish extension of Girl Emerging and segue to more sophisticated blogging, has allowed me to expand my writing and healthy-living horizons. In fact, these days I find myself writing more randomly and freely when I don’t pigeon-hole myself as a healthy-living-blogger. I still think of myself as such, but I tend to think of the term loosely so I can incorporate a healthy “diet,” health-promoting exercise habits, mental health, and healthy daily practices (e.g. meditation, prayer, routine). I want to celebrate the first anniversary of my little slice of the blog-o-sphere (as well as accomplishing my goal of writing 250 posts by the blog’s first birthday) with something very personal.

Today’s topic is more on the serious side. I’ve been trying to find a way to write about this practically since I began blogging. Unfortunately, I haven’t told most people in my life about this topic. I apologize to those of you who were not aware previously, especially my closest friends, but this isn’t something I’m at all comfortable discussing, for numerous reasons. I’ve decided it’s finally time to reveal it in a way that some might find impersonal, but in a way that gives me (a sense of) solace and peace of mind. I’m finally relieving the pressure I have put on myself for so long to keep this secret. So, here goes:

I have a seizure disorder. It’s not technically epilepsy and I’ve never been told specifically that I suffer from grand mal seizures, so the doctors don’t want to classify it as anything other than a “seizure disorder.” It’s well-controlled on anticonvulsant medication and monitored by a neurologist now, but things haven’t always been so carefree. I don’t think I’ve ever experienced anything as terrifying as waking up surrounded by concerned parents and paramedics asking me questions I can’t answer, being told I’ve just experienced something I can’t remember, and feeling intensely panicked. Most of the time, my seizures caused me to bite my tongue so badly that my speech was affected for a few days, eating and drinking were miserably painful, and my tongue now has permanent tooth-shaped indentations along both sides of it. Sounds awesome, no?

Fortunately, my family knows how to cope with this when it occurs. Even more fortunately, my medication has kept me seizure-free for nearly two years. However, I will probably have to take medication for the rest of my life in order to be able to drive and live a normal life. My neurologist has told us that there is no need for me to go to the emergency room when a seizure happens as long as I’m responsive within five minutes of the end of it. This condition isn’t something that even crosses my mind on a daily basis (even when I take my medication). I’m grateful that I’ve never seriously hurt myself or someone else during a seizure, and I’m also grateful that I’m able to drive. I have had to give up my license twice for six months at a time until my doctors and the DMV could be sure that my disorder was well-controlled — for my safety as well as that of other drivers. I literally thank God that all of that is behind me and that my health is good. I also thank God that the most I have to do to continue to live and drive normally is visit my neurologist to renew a prescription and file a form with DMV annually.

The reason I chose to share this with you is because for almost ten years, I’ve kept this secret to myself. Of course, Ian knows, and my roommate of four years knew (because she had to call the paramedics one evening when we were freshmen), but precious few people have ever been informed. One of the main reasons I’ve kept it to myself is because of people’s general insensitivity. Have you ever heard someone say something to the effect of, “Looking at that strobe light is gonna give me a seizure!” Let’s be honest — people joke about heart attacks, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, strokes, intellectual disability (i.e. mental retardation) and all manner of other serious conditions — and I’m not exempt when I say “people.”

I elected to finally share this publicly for three reasons: (1) As a future counselor, I need to seriously consider clients’ co-occurring health concerns along with their mental health conditions, as well as their feelings about said medical conditions. No one except my parents and Ian have ever asked me how I felt about having a seizure disorder. Decisions were simply made for me by doctors, and I was expected to go along with them silently. (2) This is a bit premature, but Ian and I both have a love of children and want little ones of our own. That said, it may not be possible for me to become pregnant while on such medication, though as I mentioned, the medication is vital. This is something we’ll need to carefully consider with various doctors in the years to come. (3) And lastly, I’m tired of pretending that this condition doesn’t exist in my body or in my mind. It’s high time I came out with it, because there’s no shame in having this medical condition. (4) Okay, I’m ad-libbing this fourth reason, because it was unanticipated when I wrote this post several weeks ago. Sometimes things happen that are simply beyond one’s control… like my annual appointment suddenly being postponed by the doctor’s office four months after I made it. It’s not fair, it isn’t just, and people don’t deserve the medical conditions bestowed upon them by genetics or by chance. The point is, life can go on, even when things are difficult or unfair. And in the grand scheme of things, this condition hasn’t altered my life in such a way that my daily living is affected or so that I cannot live “normally.” For that and for my good general health, I am grateful.

Guess the cat is out of the bag now… So here’s to a future of confronting my fears, facing my challenges head-on, and owning every part of myself — the good, the bad, and the ugly!

P.S. Please feel free to ask me questions — it’s part of the process I began initiating weeks ago toward becoming more comfortable acknowledging and discussing my condition 🙂

The Real Reason for the Season

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This morning, our pastor’s sermon was truly powerful. He spoke about the 80-mile journey Mary and Joseph trekked to Bethlehem, with Mary as young and pregnant as she was. I was really struck by his message and by the real season for the hustle and bustle of the season. I also can’t help but notice, surrounded by family and close friends, how truly blessed I have been this year. I didn’t want for anything, I didn’t lack anything, I wasn’t without those I love, and I have all that I could ever desire or need.

My immediate family has grand Christmas Day traditions, including unwrapping the multitude of presents that have been gathering under the tree, but we try to never let the commercial trappings of the holidays stray us too far from the real reason for the season. It’s incredibly easy to allow the merriment of cookie exchanges, the stress of hosting parties, or the anxiety of checking every shopping item off of the Nice List to overshadow the celebration of Jesus’s coming to Earth — and I’ll be the first to admit it!

Spending yesterday evening with my godparents and my godsister, who as I mentioned has just returned from more than 18 months in Africa, renewed my faith that human beings really do look out for one another and love one another unconditionally. As I listened to Mallory’s tales of the expense of sending even one Ugandan child to school, the effort it took for her and her fellow missionaries to acquire a car, and the hardship of taking in street children and becoming their foster parents, I couldn’t help but think of the Newtown tragedy. I chose not to blog about Sandy Hook Elementary because I had too many thoughts swirling around to make logical sense of them enough to write about my feelings and my reactions. Even so, I have no doubt that God works in mysterious ways, and that the reason for something isn’t always logical or even evident. Nevertheless, all that has happened this year has kept my heart and mind focused on the real reason for the season.

Just one more thing…

If you haven’t ever seen this video, I encourage you to check it out. It’s pretty awesome.

Have a happy Sunday, blends, and enjoy yourself if you are one of those lucky people out there getting snow! It seems to be snowing everywhere but Richmond, VA…