Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Goals, Two Years Later

Two years ago today, I wrote about reaching my first goal weight. It had been an eight month journey of learning and working toward a healthier lifestyle. I was so excited to see my body change, and that number on the scale made me dance. Literally.

I posted a new weight to aim for, and I was excited to keep going. But things changed.
My senior year. I lost motivation to work out. I became stressed about the demands of schoolwork and applying for graduate programs, and I stopped paying attention to what I was eating. I gained back a few pounds, nothing serious, but I was not where I wanted to be.

The summer after senior year I joined a challenge group on Facebook, a group of women committed to pushing themselves and encouraging each other. There were fitness challenges and nutrition challenges. I LOVED it. It was just the push I needed to refocus myself. I stopped caring about that new goal weight I had set in 2013, and started concerning myself more with seeing what my body was capable of. The focus turned from how low my weight could get (don’t misunderstand, I was not obsessed with my weight), and instead became how STRONG I could get.

Today that is still my focus. In fact, I don’t step on the scale a whole lot anymore. My weight has stayed relatively stable over the last five months since that challenge group ended, but I have seen changes in my body and my mind.

Two years ago, my goal was a very specific number on the scale.
Today, my goal is to celebrate more non-scale victories (NSVs). Like buying jeans one size smaller. Like catching sight of myself in a mirror and being surprised to see some muscle definition. Like actually enjoying burpees (SAY WHAAT?!?). Like getting a compliment from a co-worker telling me that whatever I’m doing is working.

It’s been a fun journey so far, friends. Here’s to the road ahead.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Starved Rock

I’ve made it my goal this summer, and in general, to spend less time sitting down. This has been a challenge for me as I have had to think of ways to pass the time that don’t involve laying in bed watching One Tree Hill or sitting on the couch with Adam watching Alaska State Troopers. So when Adam suggested we go to Starved Rock this past Saturday, I was totally game.


Most of the trails and canyons were closed that day due to damage from storms, but we were still able to do the short circle around Starved Rock and then hike the Illinois Canyon a couple miles down the road.



It was such a beautiful day with temperatures around 80 degrees and very little humidity.


We even managed to avoid the temptation to indulge at local ice cream shops by packing our own snacks. The cashews and grapes were a better way to fuel our bodies anyway.



What a great way to spend a Saturday!


Friday, August 1, 2014

Meal Planning

This summer has been a testing season of sorts for me. Although I am still living on campus, I’m much more on my own than ever before. I have had to make time to grocery shop each week, comparing prices and nutrition labels like a responsible adult. And in an effort to maintain as much order and efficiency as possible (hello, Type A personality) weekly meal plans have been a necessity.


Meal planning keeps me on track with my spending, but it has also been a huge help staying on track with clean eating. Here’s how it works for me…

I typically start planning on Fridays (that’s when the new weekly challenges come out for my summer challenge group). For each day of the week I make a line for breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, workout, and water. I also write down what hours I work that day. Then I start filling in meals. Honestly, this is what takes me the longest. Breakfasts are easy because I’m totally okay with eggs and oatmeal every day. Lunches look different from week to week, and sometimes day to day, because there are some days when I need a quick lunch while working and other days I have more time to prepare something. Salads and/or leftovers are pretty typical lunches for me.

Right now, since I’m working on a limited income and only cooking for myself, I will usually choose just one or two options for dinners each week. I don’t need something different each night of the week. It’s pretty easy at the beginning of the week to bake some chicken and sweet potatoes. Add some veggies and dinners are set for the week.

When it comes to snacks, I don’t really plan those in advance in terms of what I will eat specifically each day of the week. I just make sure I have a bunch of healthy, portable options on hand so I can grab and go. I’ll stick to the plan for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and then go back into my notebook each day and write down what I ended up having for snacks as well as how many ounces of water I had that day.

After finishing my meal planning on Fridays, it’s pretty easy to write up a grocery list. So grocery shopping happens sometime over the weekend, and then Sunday nights or Monday mornings are spent preparing food (cooking chicken and potatoes, cutting up veggies, measuring out serving sizes for snacks). After all of that, I have found that sticking to healthy eating has been almost a no-brainer.

I do have to admit that I am not perfect at this. A couple weeks ago I realized that I tend to “cheat” in social settings. If I get invited out for dinner with friends or someone offers me pizza/ice cream/junk out of hospitality, I have a really hard time saying no. Having come to this realization, I am really trying to work on bringing good food with me or suggesting healthier alternatives in the next few weeks. Clean eating is important to me, but it’s not so important that I’m going to shut myself in my room in order to stick to the plan. In order to make real, lasting changes, you have to find balance. That’s why I allow myself to go out. I allow myself to have treats. But if I do go out, I try to make the best food choices that I can.

I’m still trying to find what works for me when it comes to this new healthy lifestyle, because I truly do want it to be a lifestyle change, not just a diet I tried for a month or two but ultimately didn’t work. Turns out that meal planning works for me.

“If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.”


Thursday, July 3, 2014

The Brighter Days Guide to Barbecues

Barbecue season is here! Summer is prime picnic time, especially with the 4th of July this weekend.  With such a huge spread of food, how do you navigate the picnic tables and make good food choices? Here are some things to consider before you fill up your plate:

Prepared salads: Many prepared salads (like potato salad and some pasta salads) are loaded up with fatty mayonnaise, oils, and cheese. It may be best to pass up on these.

Meat: If given the choice, a grilled chicken breast is better than a brat or hot dog. Chicken is a leaner, less processed meat. And it’s so good when it’s grilled!

Chips: Empty calories, and typically very oily. Skip the chips and hit the veggie tray for a healthier, crunchy alternative.

Fruit: Watermelon? Fruit salad? Go for it!

Beverages: It’s important to stay hydrated, especially in the summer heat. Stay away from soda, which actually dehydrates you. And when it comes to fruit juices, watch the sugar content. Water is always your best bet! But if you must indulge in some adult beverages to celebrate the holiday, drink in moderation and drink responsibly.

Have a safe, fun weekend everyone! Happy Independence Day!


Wednesday, June 25, 2014

A Brighter and Lighter Summer

Whoa, there’s no way it’s the end of June already! How did that happen?

I wasn’t always a big fan of summer (I actually liked being in school), but it’s growing on me as I get older. Bonfires and beaches, smoothies and sundresses, there’s something about summer that really lifts my spirits and lightens my mood.

As you know from my previous post, this summer I am taking the challenge to really push myself toward a healthier lifestyle. If your health/eating/exercise has taken a back burner lately, summer is a great time to get back on track. With all the sunshine and warm temperatures, it’s hard to find an excuse not to get out there and enjoy it. And that usually means some sort of physical activity. Swimming, biking, rollerblading, even getting involved in a softball league. A simple walk right around sunset is one of my favorite things. If you can commit to at least three days of activity each week, that’s a great place to start!

As much as I love a big bowl of chili on a cold night, summer food gets me just as excited. Give me a salad every day, please. Anyone who told you that salad is boring has no idea what they’re talking about. They probably have lame salads with iceberg lettuce, croutons, and ranch dressing. Yeah, that sounds pretty boring to me too. I love a big, bright summer salad. And salad isn’t just for veggies, friends. Add some blueberries or strawberries. I have had a spinach salad with blueberries, almonds, and a homemade lemon dressing for lunch every day this week. Top it with grilled chicken and, let me tell you folks, that thing is a winner.

Aside from the beautiful weather, one of the greatest things about summer is that a lot of fruits and veggies are finally in season (which means they’re cheaper and more readily available – yay!). When you are focusing on eating healthier, the produce aisle is your best friend. And grocery shopping can be fun when you walk through local farmers markets. Eat healthy and support your local growers: win-win.

Finally, I love summer playlists. Who doesn’t love a sunny day, driving with the windows down, and playing something loud and fun? This summer my playlist includes a lot of American Authors, CHVRCHES, and The 1975. Those are the bands that get me in the mood for driving, running, and dancing. Add some country (if you’re into that) (p.s. isn’t country music so much better in the summer?) and I’m all set for beaching or barbequing.

I am excited to continue on this challenge, using this summer to launch a healthier lifestyle. At the end of June I am already feeling brighter and lighter!


Comment below with your favorite summer activities, summer foods, or summer music.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Back in the Game

Spring semester was a rough one. I was trying to focus on large final projects and papers and emotionally prepare myself for graduation. Up until the week before graduation, I had zero plans for summer employment and had kind of resigned myself to going back home and hopefully finding something, anything. Basically, I was living in a near-constant state of stress. And my body was not happy.

I stopped working out and neglected almost all thoughts of healthy eating. My face was breaking out and I started gaining back some of the weight I had lost the year before. I wasn’t happy with what was going on inside of my body, but I didn’t have the mental capacity to address it at that point.

After a week of vacation, settling into my summer housing, and starting my on-campus job, I was able to breathe again. And when my head finally started to clear and the anxiety and stress were nearly gone, I found the desire to live a healthier lifestyle stir in me again.

Fortunately, right around that time one of the Facebook pages I follow introduced a summer challenge. A group of people committed to making changes over the course of 90 days and seriously pursuing a healthier lifestyle. It was just the push I needed to get back in the game.

So over the last week I have found myself planning meals, buying more produce, and actually looking forward to workouts again. And it has been fun (so far)!


I have every intention of getting back into blogging this summer as well, and hopefully this will be a place of sharing and encouragement and honesty and maybe even struggles.

Thanks in advance for following me through this new season!


Friday, March 21, 2014

A Breath of Fresh Air

While all of my friends have been on Spring Break this week, I have been at my desk trying to catch up on schoolwork. Sitting for long periods of time never used to bother me much, but lately it drives me crazy. I have been especially restless this week since the weather has been improving. It’s getting warm(er) and the snow is (almost) gone.

I’m all for going hard and getting work done, but sometimes a girl needs a break. This week I decided to reward hard work with walks. It worked! Knowing that finishing this page, this chapter, these emails would earn me some time outside made me stay focused and cross a lot of things off my to-do list.

03.18.14 walk

Allowing myself breaks throughout the day is good for my mental/emotional health, and taking walks around campus is good for my physical health. Win-win!

Now I can’t wait until the ground is less muddy so I can start reading outside again!

Here’s to brighter days,