Tag: Mental Balance

How Owning a Dog Improved My Health and Sanity

When I asked my friends and family if I should adopt a rescue dog, they looked at me sideways. Didn’t I recently say that I wasn’t a dog person? Aren’t I afraid of dogs? Didn’t I know that being a dog owner meant having to take it out, rain or shine and in the cold? Yes, all those thoughts occurred to me, but I also knew that this puppy needed a home and I could provide a good home for him. His story’s a little hazy, but the rescue thinks that he was a stray roaming the streets before he was picked up. He had heart worms, wasn’t neutered, and didn’t have a microchip — all signs that even if he’d once had an owner they weren’t a responsible one. I’d also joked that Charlie needed a new friend and I thought they’d be a good pair, since they were of similar sizes.

IMG_0188 (1)

I also selfish wanted to adopt a dog for reasons beyond just having a dog. Owning a dog meant that I would be forced to leave the house and go for walks on a daily basis. A lot of times I feel too stressed or under pressure to take care of myself through exercise or giving myself a mental break. Becoming a dog owner meant that another creature would become dependent on me to care for them. I could justify needing to go for walks if it was for Sirius, but not if it was just for me.

10525629_10104790580530063_7167617390414553840_n

So after five and a half months of adding Sirius to the family, I feel sure that adopting him was one of the best decisions I’ve made recently.

IMG_2052

I can confidently say that Sirius helps me get my 10,000 daily steps and forces me to take a break and get outside of the house. For example, the other day I felt overcome with stress and anxiety. I decided to go talk Sirius for a walk and when I got back to the house I felt so much better! Sirius got his walk and I got a fresh perspective on the day. It’s a win-win!

1908390_10104790580789543_5894388279880720078_n

Sirius encourages me (metaphorically) to stop and smell the roses, as well as enjoy the scenery.

And in the past few months Charlie and Sirius have become fast-friends and partners in crime. It makes my heart full to watch them play and take care of each other.

IMG_0269

10389349_10104808302265563_4100087209942317196_n

Perhaps this is one more instance where I needed to think less and act more. Instead of being talked out of adopting him by all the logical reasons why it didn’t make sense, I followed my gut and knew it was the right thing to do. I might not have needed a dog, but Sirius need a home.

29 Pounds by 30!

One of my bigger goals for #Project29 involves losing 29 pounds by the end of July 2015. Although I do want to lose the weight, I know that ultimately weight is just a number. I’m more interested in the larger picture. I want to be healthy inside and out as I enter into my 30s. I want healthy eating practices to be so ingrained into my life that I don’t need to think twice about them.

Beyond that, in the future I want to practice (what I assume) I preaching to any future kids of mine. It’s so easy to turn to processed food or fast food, but I know that eating fruits and vegetables and unprocessed foods makes me feel better and it’s what I will want for my kids.

I know that from here on out losing weight is only going to get harder and harder, so getting to a happy weight where my body functions at a maximum is key. Maintaining my weight in it’s happy place is the biggest thing I can do to keep my hormones and body chemistry in check, which is an issue I’ve struggled with since my teens.

205892_10100952003149903_5436048_n

When I was in Washington I went vegetarian and that decision has really helped me to be very conscious of what I’m eating. I’m constantly looking at my meals to make sure they’re balanced and most importantly that I’m getting enough protein. I genuinely love fruits and vegetables, so those are always a big staple of my diet. My downfall tends to be sugar. I have a serious sugar addiction and I tend to turn to sugar when I’m stressed, which is a constant state of operation in grad school. I’ve heard stories about people who gain weight during their comps or dissertation writing and I am proactively working to do the opposite. While the sugar or diet coke taste good in the moment, ultimately they make me feel like crap.

35401_10100253942179683_1632072_n

In an effort to help myself lose the weight, I’ve decided to (re)join Weight Watchers. Following the Weight Watchers program helps me to be ever more vigilant of my daily food choices. I have to track all of my meals and snacks, so it helps stop me from mindlessly eating. It’s also a reality check when I eat out. The other day I grabbed a multigrain bagel from Dunkin Donuts. I’d run out of the house and knew I should eat breakfast. I thought I was making a smart choice, but in reality that bagel and cream cheese was about a 1/3 of my daily points allowance.

As opposed to tracking calories, Weight Watchers uses points as a way of tracking food intake. Each point is figured out by looking at the fat grams, carbohydrates, protein, and fiber. I think it’s a more well-rounded way of looking at a food’s nutritional value. Also in Weight Watchers, fruits and vegetables are considered zero points. So when my sugar craving hits, it encourages me to each for a banana or an apple and skip the ice cream. I know that a four point ice cream isn’t going to satisfy me and more likely it’s only going to perpetuate the sugar craving.

Another big motivation for doing WW is that being more vigilant about portions is important for me. It helps me really evaluate whether I need as much food as I might typically lay out for myself. It forces me to really stop and think about how hungry I am and to listen to my body’s hunger signals.

IMG_2048

Finally, based on my mom’s suggestion, I’ve decided to set some rewards for myself as I make certain goals for the weight loss. I’m hoping that this will motivate me to stay on track with my efforts. It’s so easy to get discouraged after a minimal loss or even a gain. It’s also easy to let one day snowball into a week of bad days or even just give up. I know that this is more about the process and the journey, so I’m accepting that this might a very slow process and that’s okay. It took me years to gain the weight, so it’s not going to come off in weeks.

Anyway, the rewards will be for a 5% loss, 10% loss, and then my goal.

When I reach my 5% loss, I’m going to get acrylic nails. I’ve never been one to take good care of my nails, but when I did them for Ashley’s wedding I really liked the way they looked. It also made me feel a bit more put together. So I’m going to try out the acrylic nail thing.

Then at 10% I’m going to get these TOMs.

412bba4adc0e38a3131b31a0aaed7825

How perfect are they for #Project29? They say “live your dream,” which I LOVE.

Finally, at goal I am going to try out the Stitch Fix service. It’s an online personal shopper service. I suck at dressing myself and tend to choose the safe options when I go shopping, so having someone pick out clothes that I normally wouldn’t choose for myself might be fun.

Screen Shot 2014-10-26 at 10.58.31 AM

I’m really excited to start this journey and to blog about it.

Motivational Monday

I saw this quote on Instagram the other day and I really liked it. Not only am I a big fan of Brené Brown, but I feel like this quote perfectly syncs with #Project29.

I truly believe that life is about embracing the process and constantly working to improve ourselves. I am a radically different person than I was in my early 20s. While I don’t particularly like the person I was in my early 20s, it was also part of the process of getting myself to the person I am today. If I hadn’t been that person, then I wouldn’t be who I am today. I’m sure in another 5 years or so, I’ll look back and think something similar. I need to own the process of growing up and the constant evolution of myself. We need to own who we are and our previous experiences and that’s a scary thing to do. For me, #Project29 is also about the process of turning 30 and wrapping up my 20s.

3909d84b220b99043de6c8bab13486ff

If you haven’t seen Brené Brown’s TED talk, “The Power of Vulnerability,” I highly recommend it. It’s very much worth watching.

Fall Zen

Yesterday I tried a new yoga class — flow + meditation. It turned out to be exactly what I needed and the perfect way to wrap up my day.

IMG_2252

When I got into the class the instructor told us that she’d been thinking about the idea of fall. She talked about how fall or falling is about giving in, letting go, and trusting.

f9152ee41b225af460064359f7658d97

Falling also means accepting vulnerability and trusting in others.

I love that idea and think it’s very applicable to #Project29. In the next 10 months I’m working on pushing myself, accepting any failures or stumbles, and most importantly trusting in myself and my own capabilities. It’s also a new start in many ways. It’s my way of changing my perspective and outlook on life and myself.

Anyway, after doing 45 minutes of pretty vigorous flow (boy my triceps and core are sore today!) we transitioned to 30 minutes of guided meditation and self-reflection. Numbers 5 and 6 of #Project29 focus on developing a regular practice of yoga and meditation, so this really is the perfect class for me. I think having someone guide me through the meditation will help a lot in the beginning. Also, the instructor encouraged people to bring note pads, journals, or sketch books and take the last 15 minutes of the class for reflection. In the future I want to bring a journal of some sort to write and reflect on her prompt during that time.

96303e4bfb754ddc557e850b8d99553a

But even without the yoga class, the day felt like the perfect fall day. Everything fell into sync and I accomplished tons in all facets of my life. So overall, it was a really great day. I ended up taking Sirius on a short walk in both the morning and afternoon. I also read a chapter of comp reading as I walked on the treadmill, which felt like a double accomplishment. I managed to squeeze in my Weight Watchers meeting before office hours and then some hammock+reading time in the afternoon. A perfect fall day.

Question: what does fall mean to you?