Monthly Archives: July 2015

Progress Report: July 2015

I’m working on another more emotionally-intense piece – so I thought I’d take a break and share something light and awesome with you all first!

Pictured below are photos of me from three months ago, taken April 5th, 2015, alongside photos of me currently, taken July 8th, 2015 (at an ungodly hour of the night).

Before-After 1 7-9-2015

Before-After 2 7-9-2015

The difference is about 12 pounds, more muscle, and a much brighter outlook. I’m not done working hard – I still have a ways to go before I’ll feel I’m at my healthiest, and even then I won’t stop striving for fitness and progress.

Back in April, I made the commitment to get back into shape. I joined an online accountability group, and had my own “coach” that I would check in with each week. I bought the 21 Day Fix Extreme, and even though it felt weird working out in my tiny loft, I stuck with the workouts and cleaned up my eating significantly. In that month alone, I lost nearly 5 pounds.

In May, between the stress of finals and the fun of having a new boyfriend, I gained a bit initially, but came out of the month with a net loss of about a pound. In June, I took a trip with said boyfriend to Austin and weirdly lost 2 pounds? And post-breakup (the day our trip ended, yikes), the rest of the weight has slowly but steadily been falling away.

Now, posting these pictures is hard. Taking those starting photos was pretty miserable, because I had to finally own up to the negative behaviors that had made me feel and become so unhealthy. The evidence was right in front of my eyes, and I couldn’t deny it any longer. I’m very glad I have these progress photos on file, though – because when I start feeling unmotivated or dissatisfied about myself, I have a reference of where I WAS, how FAR I’ve come, and just how much I’ve GROWN in these few months.

butterfly

An important thing to note (and something I constantly have to remind myself) is that there isn’t anything WRONG with the “before” pictures (or the “current” ones). Fundamentally, I was, am, and will always be ME. In the “before” pictures, people found me attractive, I had great friends, and my life was perfectly alright. The true difference between the photos my attitude.

Not to diminish the personal pain I’m still sorting through, and the residual fear and confidence issues related to my recent breakup – but this is the BEST I’ve handled myself in a very long time. Sure, sometimes I do feel a bit wary about future romances, or like something is wrong with me, or even just sad in general – but those feelings don’t own me and my reactions anymore. I’m finding things to focus on (like new workouts, clean eating, photography, nature walks…), and they make me happier, make me feel good about myself, and truly do make me better in the wellness department.

Life happens. We all have to deal with what it throws our way. We won’t always be happy, but we also can’t let a spot of negativity ruin our entire outlook. Over the years, I’ve had a lot of ups and downs – everyone has! – but this is the fastest I’ve come out of a slump, the most positive way I’ve treated myself during a sadness, and the most excited I’ve felt about life since I don’t know when.

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I just wanted to share a little piece of cheer with you guys! Thanks so much to everyone who has helped me along the way these past few months (and longer) – your support means the world to me. I’m doing more than alright (I am AWESOME), and I trust in myself and my resilience to bounce back no matter how many times life knocks me down.

Please feel free to reach out (comment, email, Facebook, ANYTHING!) if you want to talk. Even if it’s just let me know something cool that’s happening in your life – I want to know how you are doing! Seriously!!

I love you all lots, and I’m wishing you the best!

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Categories: Perpetual Progress | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments

What Makes You Happy?

Hello everybody! Today, I have just one question to ask: what makes you happy?

Hopefully a lot of things and people and events pop into your mind. That is AWESOME, and I am genuinely glad for you. It should be that way! But I have a confession: I’ve often struggled to come up with ANY answer to that question, and I’ll bet others have the same difficulty.

To give a little context that I will surely elaborate on soon: I recently experienced some of the greatest months ever, but the good times came to a halt when reality finally hit. In other words, I dated a really awesome person for a regrettably short time, and now that relationship has unfortunately ended. I went from being the happiest I’ve been in a long while, to being incredibly sad and dismayed.

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Now, there is a lot of research out there on happiness, and I am by no means an expert. I’m not even a novice, really. That being said, the approach I’m using to move towards happiness and towards becoming the better person that I truly want to be – it fit under advice given by researchers. Not too shabby, huh?

Important above all else is the intention to be happy. According to a variety of research, that alone is an important first step towards feeling and being happier. For me, even amidst all the self-generated angst and all the negative thoughts – I knew that I didn’t want to feel that way. I wanted to feel better; and I must say, that underlying desire has pulled me through some of the toughest times I’ve experienced.

In fact, intent and intentional actions seem to be the best way to find that happiness we’re constantly searching for. It’s waking up and telling yourself that today is great. It’s thinking about the things for which you are grateful. It’s getting excited about the plans you have. It’s scheduling in time with people and activities that energize you in positive ways. It’s taking a moment to enjoy the little everyday things that we experience.

Basically, it’s every good thought you have – and finding ways to fill your day with more positive thoughts like those than anything else.

If you’re anything like me, however, getting into that frame of mind is incredibly difficult, especially when you’re feeling like you’re at your lowest low. So, the pieces of advice I want to leave you with today are the following:

  1. Find the things that make you happy WHILE you’re feeling that way. Not only does this feed into the idea of gratitude and learning to enjoy the moment, but it also helps you when you hit another rough patch. One of the problems I encountered post-breakup was trying to distinguish what exactly made those times so wonderful. It was easy to latch on to the idea of “I was happy because I was with him” and harder to realize that the reason might actually be closer to “I was happy because I felt cared for and I made someone else feel happy, too.” I’d say write it down, because I’m a list person and having a “What Makes You Happy” list has become clutch in my life, but I know that for some people, words just aren’t their cup of tea. So, whether you write it down or not, just do something to acknowledge what you are feeling and WHY you feel that way.
  2. Find things that make you happy ANYWAYS. Like I said, I was already sad when I started trying to discern “how to be happy” again. Even though I took a super logical approach and didn’t feel all that enthusiastic about it, I sat down, busted out my trusty bullet journal (it’s so cool, I love it), and started doing what I do best – writing and making lists. I now have a What Makes You Happy page (petting dogs, talking to people I love, working out…), a Laughter List of things I know make me smile (Arrested Development, YouTube videos…), and even a list of Who You Gonna Call where I wrote down names of people I love and know I can talk to no matter what (my RAs, my roommates, close friends…). Any time I find myself laughing or doing something that makes me feel good, I go add to my lists. I can’t avoid every kind of sadness – because life is going to be filled with ups and downs no matter WHO you are – but I trust that having these on hand will help me feel better and happier much faster.

Patrick Stump Love

Again, I’m no expert here. But I can tell you that I want to lead a happy and healthy life, and to do that will take constant effort. Until we can internalize the positive behaviors and make optimism a natural state, it will be a tough road. And even if and when we get to that point, life is not always going to be easy.

Regardless, I 100% believe you can find happiness in yourself and in those around you! Whether it’s a fleeting moment, or you’re having the best months of your life – take a minute to acknowledge that joy, be thankful for it, and remember why you felt the way you did.

That way, next time someone asks you what makes you happy – you’ll have plenty of answers to give. 🙂

I’m linking below to some fantastic articles that explain in more depth and clarity the ways in which you can actively engage in choosing your own happiness. Sending good vibes your way!!

Scientifically Train Your Mind to Be Happy

The 8 Things The Happiest People Do Every Day

How to Increase Happiness & Meaning in Life

Practice Happiness (former blog post!)

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