Posts Tagged With: positive

Life Update(s)

The last time I wrote a post was MONTHS ago, and I apologize. It was a rough time to say the least. But I’m back from a relaxing spring break that gave me time to refocus and think, and I realized that I definitely want to keep this blog going. So, this post is a general life update on the major things that lead up to this point, and it will also set up a pattern from here on out!

Here we go…

I stressed myself out A LOT last semester. It was the first time I took an upper-level economics class, and I let the courses intimidate me. My GPA took a hit, which caused more stress, and my confidence as a whole went down. All of that, combined with being off campus, led to a decrease in exercise (“I’m too busy!”) and an increase in stress eating. I didn’t feel great AT ALL, but I kept up with my bi-weekly counseling sessions up until the semester ended.

I survived though, and the world did not end with a few bad grades and a few good grades to balance them out. Overall, I enjoyed being home for winter break. It was good to be with the family again! My eating still wasn’t so great, but I exercised more, played with my dogs, went out with my friends, and it was nice.

Sadly, the week before classes began, my dog of 12 years passed away. Lex was a good boy, and we all miss him a lot. I still feel upset when I think about him, but I have a lot of happy memories of him that I look to when I start feeling down. Lots of love for that dear dog.

2014-06-21 20.59.47          2015-01-05 18.40.16

Look at that smile! Plus one of many forced selfies I made him take…

Later that week I got a tattoo. My grief over Lex was the impetus, but I had wanted one for awhile. I just realized that time wasn’t stopping – so what was I waiting for? I went down to the tattoo shop, talked to the artist about my ideas, and he came up with a killer design. It took 2 hours and it hurt like HECK. The ribs were the worst, and I couldn’t sleep on my side for month!! But it was worth it.

There’s some symbolism to it all, and I have zero regrets about it. In a way, I’m glad that I went on my own – I saved myself the embarrassment of people seeing me cry, but it was also an experience that is uniquely my own. The tattoo is not fully complete – I will be getting color done later on down the line – but it’s the real deal.

Since then, we’ve started a new semester and things have still been somewhat rocky. I participated in a test group for a program called “The Body Project” hosted by Rice’s Wellbeing Office. I am really grateful that I got to meet other people who were working through similar body image issues. It was helpful to have an open place to talk about what we were going through, as well as have other people offer their perspectives and advice.

I’ve also been trying to preempt my stress before it gets out of hand. I went to the Wellbeing Office to talk about my worries and problems before I reached a point of distress – where it started impeding on my daily activities. It’s another resource specific to the Rice campus that I recommend, but I’ll talk more in-depth later.

To sum it all up: I feel like I am in a better place than I was last semester, or even a week ago before spring break. I am ready to finish out the semester in a strong and positive way. Current goals include staying on top of my school work, gaining control over my emotional eating, finding ways to relax, and working on other “healthy” habits (this blog being one of them).

I hope you all are doing well! I’m sending lots of good vibes your way. And as always, I am here if you want to talk about anything!

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Waking Up

It’s been over a month since O-Week, and I’m still kicking. It was amazing and intense, and if you haven’t heard me talk about it yet – trust me, you will. But the reflection on that event (and how I feel like a totally different person coming out of it!!) is for another today.

However, it will suffice to say that summer was a busy time overall, and the weeks leading up to the actual event were particularly crunched for time. I had already been struggling to get into some type of routine in terms of exercise and eating, but during those last few weeks I felt like my attitude took a straight nosedive.

Those weeks encompassed very little exercise and a diet that makes me cringe just thinking about it – but I wrote it off as unavoidable, said I’d reset once everything finished, or more often than not I didn’t even think about it.

Ignoring the problem won’t help us fix it.

I essentially became passive in my choices of fitness and food. This “unaware” lifestyle carried on through O-Week and weeks after. The times I finally did stop and think about what I had eaten, was eating, was about to eat…I would get upset and feel even less empowered than I already did.

So the cycle intensified, until I was eating dessert three times a day, spending extra money on fast food lunches, and not exercising at all.

Personally, that stuff doesn’t feel good to me. Looking in the mirror and feeling “bleh” doesn’t feel good to me. Feeling sad and lazy and unfocused doesn’t feel good to me. I didn’t feel like I was doing anything.

cute-animals-tired-dog-puppy-sleeping-flat-out-picsPerpetual sighing.

After sharing these concerns with my counselor – in particular, my disappointment in what felt like out of control eating – she suggested a simple idea: before eating something, ask yourself, “Do I want this?”

Since that session, about two weeks ago, I’ve been pausing to ask myself “Do I want this?” before I eat certain foods or meals. I’m not doing it obsessively or excessively, which are behaviors I am prone to when it comes to body image issues. Rather, I do it to give myself the opportunity to decide.

The answer isn’t always “no” and it isn’t always “yes” – but in the end, it’s my decision. Having that sort of control in something so basic as food preference is crucial part of life that I sometimes forget about. Food doesn’t control us!

I’ve also started asking myself “WHY do I want this?” in addition to the yes/no question. It often helps put my behavior into context.

Case in point:

I reach for the cake in the kitchen. “Do I want this piece of cake?”

“…yes.”

“Why do I want it?”

“Well, I already had pie at dinner, and then I watched TV for two hours…”

“Okay. Do I really want this?”

“I guess…no, not really.”

Sleeping-Cat-on-FoodThe struggle.

Sometimes I’ll take a small bite instead of an entire slice, or I’ll just get out of the kitchen and go back to my homework or cleaning or whatever it was I was doing before. Other times, if I do decide to indulge, I don’t let that decision influence my decisions later on down the line. The cake I ate last week does not mean I’m a failure and have to eat badly today. It means I ate a piece of cake. (This concept is still difficult for me, but I am trying my best to keep my mind positive!)

My conscious eating (each and every attempt at it) makes me want to be more “conscious” in other aspects of my life. For example, it has helped me cut down on my Netflix time during the week – before I put on a show, I ask why I want to watch TV (usually it’s to avoid homework). I also do it when I’m on tumblr or Facebook for too long (again, I’m usually avoiding something like exercise, work, or other responsibilities).

It’s been a low-key, easier way to adjust to healthier habits. Progress is slow, but I feel like this is something sustainable. It sounds simple, but it’s decidedly useful! When we aren’t thinking at all about our choices or actions, it’s easy to go through the motions of life without living it. It’s been helping me change my perspective and my behavior already, and I hope it can be a tool for you too!

I don’t know…it just feels good to be awake. 🙂

tumblr_mi1ll8otpM1qcnwyso1_500Happy/excited/energetic puppy = my current spirit animal.

If you’re interested in some articles on conscious eating, I found these helpful and inspiring:

4 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Eating

Love Yourself Through Mindful Eating

10 Tips for Conscious Eating

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Drop the Double Standard

Hey friends!

Today’s topic: the double standards we set for ourselves. (Get ready for some Courage the Cowardly Dog references.)

A few days ago, I went to a concert for my most favorite band ever (Fall Out Boy… shameless plug). Even though I was pumped for the show, I also felt slightly nervous because I went solo. It was also one of my first concerts, and the venue was also somewhere I had never been. So all in all, I already felt pretty awkward.

And then some random frat boys drove by, rolled down their window, and shouted: “Damn girl, yo ass is ugly!”

Completely random, rude, and uncalled for – no matter how you spin it. Whether someone is “ugly” or “pretty” or whatever you may think, that type of behavior is not acceptable.

At least, that’s what I would tell any other person who had this sort of experience.

But because it was me, I let one rude comment get under my skin and into my head. It almost ruined my night and the concert I had looked forward to for months.

Here’s the reason why: I have a harsh double standard for myself.

In my own head, I have this unrealistic image of how I think others view and judge me. If I’m the “health” or “fitness” person (both self-titled), and I skip a workout or eat a bowl of ice cream – suddenly the world falls apart. But if it were any of my other friends doing the same thing, I wouldn’t think twice.

This thinking stretches beyond the realm of body image, and into the space of overall self-image and confidence. If I have to study for hours to barely grasp an economics concept for my class, that means I’m not smart and don’t belong at Rice; however, if a fellow student struggles with writing a paper, that’s just because the assignment is hard and they aren’t used to the subject. If I need to take a moment for myself to recharge or just be alone, I’m antisocial and no wonder people don’t know me; if my roommate stays in to study or sleep, she’s just relaxing and taking the night off.

Do you see a pattern here?

But here’s the worst part – I don’t think I am alone in setting these double standards for myself. If I had to wager a guess, I would say a lot of us experience this. While it is one thing to have high ambitions and try to hold ourselves accountable to our actions, it is something else altogether when we constantly berate ourselves until we are our own worst critics.

Just being aware of this behavior does help start to combat it, though. I’m working through it, and I know it won’t change overnight (I wish!). But here are some of the ways I have tried to start shifting my mindset to something more positive:

  1. Acknowledge the emotions and thoughts. Personally, I go throughout the whole day essentially ignoring my feelings. Then I have a moment of downtime and everything overwhelms me at once, which can set the tone for the rest of the night, week, or even longer. I am now taking the time to work through the emotions I have as I feel them, and then move on.
  2. Give yourself the benefit of the doubt. We are allowed to make mistakes. None of us are perfect, and the occasional “slip-up” is to be expected. It’s when we let these slip-ups become downward spirals that the problems start.
  3. Be your own best friend. Before you pass judgment on yourself, think of how you would treat a friend in the same situation. Would you be so critical? Would you even notice what they were doing? Now treat yourself the way you would treat your friend.

This is definitely not easy, but I know that for me – this is crucial. I want to be in a place where I can embrace the good parts of myself, accept and believe compliments, and not let the curve-balls life throws bring me completely down.

I deserve to see myself the way others see me, and so do you. We are all pretty amazing, even when we’re so different – and if you asked me, I don’t doubt that I would have many good things to say about you. So say them to yourself!

You know what? You kicked butt on that workout – I don’t care how anyone else looks in the gym, because you worked out hard and that’s what matters. You did well on that test – nope, doesn’t matter if someone got a better grade or learned it quicker, because that doesn’t change how awesome you are. You’re a great person, because you are you. It is as simple as that.

So let’s drop those double standards for ourselves and just live life.

Sending lots of love to you all! Let me know if you want to talk, or share your experience. I’m always here!

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A Relationship With You

A few days ago, I stood around in my gym shorts and sports bra, and I looked in the mirror. For the first time in such a long time, I could look at my reflection – really look – and like the person staring back.

Even as I write this, I genuinely cannot understand how it’s possible to feel like this. Acknowledging that I disliked myself was easy, because it was so normal for me. Feeling this free and confident – it is such a strange state, but I love it.

Here’s the weirdest part: in addition to a lot of uncomfortable situations (like biking for the Beer Bike races and awkward public parties), the tipping point into this state of mind all started with a rejection from a boy.

I guess that’s unfair, as it is less of the rejection and more of the overall experience. It was short, sweet, and had closure – so honestly, I can’t complain. But it left such a meaningful impact on me that I have to get it out into the open.

So it started with me being seriously confused about why a guy was interested in me (much less someone so attractive). How was that even possible? And actually interested about my life, what I was doing, what I thought about certain things – just me in general. Sometimes I don’t like myself, and so it is borderline impossible to understand why someone else would.

But this guy was totally quirky and so REAL – it was almost overwhelming. Interacting with him made me feel like I could actually express myself, even if that meant being dorky, or saying something totally ridiculous. He was just himself, and I think that is exactly what I needed to see in someone.

 “I think it’s intoxicating when somebody is so unapologetically who they are.”

— Don Cheadle

And when it comes down to it, the experience was an empowering one. He always asked me what I wanted, what I was comfortable with, and essentially reminded me that I DO have a say in what happens in my life. Let me give a typical example:

Him: “Do you want to go for a walk?”

Me: “We can.”

Him: “I know we CAN. But I’m asking – do you WANT to?”

Such a simple question, and it never occurred to me to say no (or yes, or maybe later, or ANYTHING). I wasn’t thinking about me at all, really. This happened a lot over that short frame of time, but with every question and every chat, I was reminded that I was important, that I was pretty, that I was interesting, that being with me meant something, that I had a choice in what was happening – and I guess you could say that the message started to hit home.

Happy Bunny

Yes, putting others first is commendable. Yes, we should be considerate of others’ emotions. Yes, we need to be polite and understanding.

But that doesn’t mean we put others first at the expense of our well-being. It doesn’t mean we ignore our emotions in favor of everyone else’s. It doesn’t mean we have to compromise our desires and beliefs to make someone else happy.

Life is full of relationships – but at the end of the day, the relationship that matters MOST is the one we have with ourselves.

I know this can be hard to see, especially in the context of a college lifestyle, but also just in general. Here are some of the personal relationship issues I’ve encountered, just to name a few:

1) The pressure to be involved in SOME sort of relationship, no matter what it is. There is this pervasive idea that if you aren’t in some sort of relationship – hooking up, dating, crushing on someone, or what have you – then something is wrong.

For example, there is this one girl that I think is absolutely beautiful, and she is so ridiculously sweet on top of that. She’s just fantastic, and I wouldn’t be surprised if a lot of people are in love with her. So when I mentioned her to my roommate, my roommate said, “Oh, she’s beautiful. I don’t know why she doesn’t have a boyfriend.” Well, maybe she’s too busy. Maybe she likes someone back home. Maybe she just isn’t interested in dating right now. (All of which are valid reasons, though she doesn’t need to justify her status). Regardless, we don’t know, and it doesn’t matter because guess what? Being single doesn’t mean there is ANYTHING less amazing about her. Dating someone wouldn’t change that, either.

2) Relationships lack closure. Whether it is because we have led someone on (or someone is leading us on), or we refuse to accept that something is over, most times I’ve had any sort of relationship, it has ended awkwardly and without any sense of finality. Rejecting someone is not fun. Getting rejected is not fun. But it is so much easier and less painful to be honest and end something quickly, rather than drag it out until the only emotions and thoughts left are negative ones.

Imaginary Relationship

3) Finally, we put a lot of emphasis (too much??) into what others think. Quite frankly, we shouldn’t worry over what others think about us. If you want to chop your hair off and dye it brown, THEN DO IT. Who cares if that guy doesn’t like it, or your friend thinks it’s weird? Forget it, it’s not ABOUT them. Only you know what you want or don’t want, how you feel, and what different things mean to you. It’s a bit cliché, but also true: only you can do you. So do it. Like I said before, that guy was quirky to the max, but at least he let me be myself.

VIDEO: Shailene Woodley on confidence.

The most important relationship in our lives is the one we have with ourselves. It’s about you. And if you’ve never heard it before, or if you don’t think it could be true, I repeat: IT IS ABOUT YOU. Other relationships – no matter how open and enhancing and positive they might be – will never be as fulfilling if, at the core of it all, we aren’t happy with ourselves.

Others can be the stimulus of our emotions, but we are in control. I’m not saying we have to be happy all the time, because the struggles are just as important as the good times – but we have got to love ourselves. We can get so much out of relationships, even the ones that end. But don’t let the ones that end (or the unhealthy ones you may be keeping…) make you forget how important and great you are for just being you.

So in my case, sure – I am bummed that whatever happened with that boy ended so quickly. But for once, I like myself enough to 1) not be mad at him and 2) not let the rejection send me spiraling. Instead, I’m lifting weights at the gym again because it makes me feel strong. I’m controlling my eating A LOT better – because I care about myself, and I don’t want to hurt myself again. I’m wearing what I want – and feeling confident about it, even if it’s gym shorts and a tank – since it’s my choice. I’m going for walks, petting dogs, dancing around my room, and doing things that I love.

Patrick Stump Love

I’m just more relaxed about who I am in general, no matter how awkward or goofy that means I come across. It’s me, so…there is nothing for me to be embarrassed about, especially not when I’m happy about where I am.

Sometimes, you might just CLICK with someone and they will be with you for a long time. But other times, a person might walk into your life to show you good music and remind you that you are important…and that’s it. And that’s also okay. People will walk in and out of our lives, we will be sad or disappointed, and we will be happy and comforted. But the highs and the lows and the people that come and go should never, EVER make us forget our true value and worth.

So in closing, I just want to reiterate how amazing and important you are RIGHT NOW. Not a few weeks from now, not after you lose a few pounds, not once you start dating someone…right NOW. Do what it is YOU want. Be unashamedly who you are – quirks and all – because you NEVER know the kind of impact you might be having on someone.

Beautiful Dogs

And please, love yourself above all else. You matter – to me, and to so many other people. Stay strong, friends!

Also, a huge thanks to everyone who has provided support and encouragement for this blog (and just in general!). It means a lot. Much love to you all!

Categories: Perpetual Progress | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

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