Monday, January 19, 2015

Health + Happiness.

Every now and then, I'll find myself looking back at old pictures.  In the process of ridding our house of excess junk, I've come across many of these photos and journals from what feels like a former life, the shell of who I once was.  In all honesty, I don't like to look back at these mementos.  They make me cringe to think of that girl.

[2008]

That girl was insecure and mostly unhappy.  She was always searching: for love, acceptance, security, happiness.  Photos from high school seem to be more torturous.  When I reminisce on times of supposed happiness from those years, such as proms, graduation, parties, I shudder to think of the person I was.  I can still recall the desperate thoughts of trying to fit in, wanting to be "chosen" by this boy or that one, wondering if I looked as good as the others.  College did nothing but to drive me further into my insecurities instead of helping me discover who I truly am.  Old journal entries mulled over old friends being "taken away" by new boyfriends.  My insecurities caused me to push people away, and to this day I still regret friendships lost.  Nonetheless, I'm incredibly lucky that D was able to see past my insecurities; instead he saw my potential.  

[2010]

It took me until the age of 25 to discover my own happiness.  I feel that I owe this transformation to D, for sticking by and believing in me, and to running.  It was not until I started training for my first half marathon that I started to believe in myself.  Over the past four years, I have developed a true love for sweating and running.  I've discovered one of the keys to my happiness.  Being strong, healthy, and confident makes me feel like the best version of myself.  

[2014]

This is not to say that meeting a goal weight or losing x amount of pounds is the key to happiness.  For me, it is actually the opposite.  I rarely weigh myself and don't believe in counting calories.  My happiness and confidence comes from continually staying active, from setting health goals for myself and achieving them, and from nourishing my body in the best way.  When I challenge myself physically, I have no reason to feel insecure.  I feel strong and disciplined.  So what if I don't have six-pack abs?  I can probably hold a plank longer than many women my age.  When I feel my best, this carries over into the other parts of my life.  What they say is true...it starts with loving yourself.


While I'm trying to work on a balance between spending time on me and prioritizing other aspects of my life, I still have some health goals I've been thinking about for this year.

+Be the healthiest and strongest I have ever been in my life 

+Run a marathon (or at least be training for one)

+Become more disciplined with eating on an 80/20 balance and nourish my body with fuel for health

+Incorporate yoga as a daily routine

+Compete in an obstacle race (I'm considering the Spartan Race in Charlotte, NC)

+Continue to balance running, strength, and yoga 

Oddly enough, many of my goals were the same as Megan's.  I thought she spoke so eloquently on being healthy and strong for 2015 (and had pictures that were a hell of a lot cooler than mine).

What are some of the keys to your happiness?

I'd love to hear your health + happiness goals for the year!


Friday, January 16, 2015

Weekly presence v.1

In an effort to be more present in my life and utilize this space for documentation and sharing, this is a weekly series to display happenings and special moments in my life.


I have been having the best long runs recently.  I'm currently training for the Mercedes Half Marathon in Birmingham.  It will be my friend Kate's first half, and I'm running it with her.  I have a greenway a mile from my house, and it is my favorite place to run.  The greenway has actually been an anchor for me in the internal battle of whether or not to sell our house.  I suspect I won't be so lucky to have amazing access to a secluded and peaceful greenway in our next home.  As for the runs, I've been fast and feeling strong.  I've been especially grateful for this body of mine that carries me miles and allows me to participate in this activity that fulfills me in so many ways.



The battle for minimalism continues.  This weekend I'm taking on the guest bedroom, and I'm scared to think of how many hours I may spend distributing items into trash and donate bags.  I have a million mixed feelings on selling our home and buying another; my anxiety flares even as I simply type this.  Nonetheless, I am interested to discover whice path 2015 will take us.



I'm becoming more content with my odd work schedule.  I love spending post-gym mornings at Sola Coffee Cafe.  If I ever started my own coffee shop, Sola would be my muse.  They have amazing drinks (yay for almond milk!), yummy treats, and delectable breakfast and lunch options.  Sola supports local businesses and has the best decorations.  If they weren't located in North Raleigh, I would love to live within walking distance so I could visit on the weekends.  


Since my life isn't always interesting, here's a few links that inspired me this week:

I adore this post from Megan about being healthy and strong in 2015.  I'll likely revisit this topic, but her goals mirror mine almost to a tee.

I took the strengths test that Erika talked about, and I discovered so much about myself!  I still need to brainstorm some ideas for how to utilize my strengths.

Thank goodness I'm not the only one who would prefer to have cleaning on the very bottom of my to-do list.  Mary Catherine summed up my clean home conundrum perfectly!

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Minimalista.

To bring a bit of clarity to my 2015 word, I should mention a few areas of my life in which I am aiming to improve.  The short list: being content with having less, health, and finances.  Let's start with the idea of having less.  Alex wrote a great post about comparison in this day with the internet, specifically social media, being such a prevalent aspect of our lives.  Admittedly, I desperately struggle with comparison syndrome. To begin working through my condition, I significantly parred down the number of blogs I followed; I unsubscribed from a ton of email lists.  Nonetheless, I still battle with the comparison trap daily.  A beautiful Instagram of my favorite home has me searching the internet for a specific, out of my price range, blanket that will certainly "complete" my living room.  That 40% sale JCrew just tweeted about?  Well, I obviously have to find a piece for my spring capsule wardrobe (which won't begin for another two months).  I have much to be desired when it comes to rehabilitating this comparison problem.  Nothing a little discipline can't fix.


Minimalism seems to be a hot topic.  My Pinterest feed has been bombarded with articles about minimal lifestyles, capsule wardrobes, and DIYs.  Last October, I decided to remedy a bit of my spending habits by trying my hand at a capsule wardrobe.  I learned a lot of lessons, and one was that I enjoyed not wasting as much time shopping and searching through my closet on a daily basis.  As winter rolled around and I planned for my second capsule, I did not do such a great job.  I practically ended up buying an entire new wardrobe thus making anything I saved in the previous months null.  I'm going to save the spending conversation for another day, so my point is that living with less clothing made me feel happier and more like me (due to my refined and true style discoveries).  If having less in my closet impacts my life in this way, what would be the impact of narrowing the clutter in other aspects of my life and home?

D and I are in the process of prepping our house to put on the market to sell.  This has created the perfect opportunity to organize and de-clutter our home.  We are stage one hoarders, so this process takes an immense amount of time and energy.  After completing three rooms, we have already learned so much.

It's ok to keep special items with memories attached.  I have so many things that have sentimental value.  I constantly think that I would love for these things to still be around if I have kids/when I die.  It is ok to keep these items but just store them!  We have an attic for a reason.  We got a lot of large boxes and plastic bins, then threw everything in them.  It was that easy.

I don't need that extra notepad from Target because it's cute.  It is becoming more important to me that most things I own have a purpose.  I can buy more notepads if I ever run out (which may never happen at the rate I've stocked up in the dollar section).  Just as I learned via my capsule wardrobe experimenting, a sale does not mean I have to buy.  Now does that candle on clearance have a purpose?  Yes!  With four pets and two litter boxes, candles are a necessity in our household.  Everyone has different needs, but I am attempting to buy more purposefully to reduce my clutter.

Less really is more.  Our living room has large built-in bookshelves which I adore.  I love having books and displaying them.  Over the course of the nine years D and I have been together, we've accumulated quite a few books and gotten rid of little to none.  After donating maybe 30% of the books and taking down almost all of the vases and random decor, our bookshelves look amazing!  We have said numerous times how this decluttering process actually makes us want to stay in our house longer.  It makes me appreciate the beauty of the house I fell in love with four years ago.

What steps do you take to live minimally and purposefully?


Monday, January 12, 2015

The word.

I have desperately wanted to take time to resurrect this space with the entrance of 2015.  Something, or lack thereof, has been holding me back.  It's not a lack of time; I have plenty of extra that I choose to fill with reading and exercising and sometimes Candy Crush.  There is much in my life that I could bore you with: painting our bedroom, getting a house ready to sell, running another half marathon, yoga challenges, and so forth.  Nonetheless, there is still something holding me back.  I believe I'm missing a little inspiration.

The welcoming of a new year always ignites a spark within me.  It is cliche, but I find no fault in embracing a fresh start.  This time around I didn't think too hard about resolutions.  I'm pretty content with my health and exercise routines.  There wasn't really one single thing I was drawn toward fixing or changing.  I have been thinking about my overarching theme of this year for half of 2014.  I'm turning 30.  For me, it simply feels like a milestone, but a big one.  It will mark the decade of so many new decisions and changes.  For this reason, I want to make 2015/the year of 30 awesome.  Instead of a single resolution, I'm choosing a word.  



After much thought (and a little extra time as it is now the second week in January), I think discipline is exactly what I want to focus on this year.  While I'm so happy with most things in my life, I definitely have a few areas I want to refine and improve.  It takes discipline and dedication to truly make a change.  If I want to keep this space alive, I need discipline and direction.  With that, I say bring it 2015!


Friday, November 7, 2014

Autoimmune Protocol :: Making the decision.


I revealed the reason why I considered starting the Autoimmune Protocol, but the process of making this decision was really difficult.  One might think that if someone has a health issue he or she would do anything to try and remedy or alleviate the problem.  As a lover of food and eating, I struggled with many emotions and logistics of actually following through with the AIP.

The Emotions.

Food and drink is a big part of my life.  Even though I cut out most fast and processed foods a long time ago, I still eat out often.  D and I enjoy food.  We bond over trying new restaurants.  When we travel, our favorite activities include trying new drinks, visiting breweries, and exploring the restaurant scene.  Food makes me happy.  Meals and drinks with friends is really something special and social.  This aspect of my life, our lives, makes completing a Whole 30 or AIP elimination so hard.  During my last Whole 30, I often turned down social engagements with friends or with D because it is too hard to be around the alcohol (or numerous people drinking around you) and choose appropriate items from menus to eat.  This aspect of an elimination diet is depressing for me.  I also knew that doing "another" strict eating plan would cause some friction between D and I.  He and I have different eating habits, and he gets tired of having to work around my restrictions.  

Then there was the fear.  Fear of the possibility of my body not tolerating my favorite foods: eggs, tomatoes, coffee.  Peppers, cumin, chili powder: goodbye taco nights.   Nuts: not my beloved Larabars!  The thought continues to linger (especially now that I've seen results after eliminating these foods) that I will lose a food that I love so much.  The mental battle between what I loved more, my (seemingly cosmetic afflicted) body or my food.  Seriously, the struggle is real.

[Why should I have to give up delicious, healthy foods like a caprese salad?!]

The Logistics.

You may remember that I am a pescatarian.  This has always made completing a Whole30 difficult.  After all my research for the AIP, I felt like it was going to be extremely difficult to complete the protocol utilizing only fish.  For this reason (and also hoping to appease D a bit more by making additional carnivorous dishes), I made the decision to consume meat while on the AIP.  There is plenty of research or opinions claiming that meat (organ meats specifically) help to heal your gut, but I have not messed with a lot of it.  My plan was to make the best meat choices I could: buying grassfed and locally as much as possible.  Of course, this is expensive.  BUT it has improved my success and progress on the AIP.  

I'll be providing a more thorough update on my body's healing and progress on the AIP next week!

Have you ever had to give up a food for a health reason?
What food would you have the hardest time giving up?


Monday, November 3, 2014

I've been keeping a secret.


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I mentioned last week that I started the Autoimmune Protocol diet.  Referred to as AIP, the "rules" of the eating plan can be found all over the internet, but I love this simple description from AIP Lifestyle.  Before I began my journey, I thoroughly scoured the resources of The Paleo Mom, Autoimmune Paleo, and A Clean Plate.  I've gotten ahead of myself.  Why in the world did I even think I should start this diet?  Even D reminded me that after my last go at Whole30 I said, "I'm never going to do this again."

Insert my secret.  Since I was a teenager, I have struggled with an embarrassing problem.  I have cysts or boils that pop up on my body.  They typically appear in well hidden but increasingly embarrassing spots such as my buttocks and thighs.  I delayed speaking to a doctor about my problem until I was in college.  The dermatologist sent me home with a special soap and no formal diagnosis.  After that embarrassing and unhelpful experience, I never bothered with consulting another doctor.  In the past few years, the problem has gotten worse.  More "spots" (which I call them and admittedly sounds better than boils) continued to appear, and they would take forever to heal.  About a year ago after having a painful spot appear in my groin area, I decided to do some research and again consult a doctor.  My doctor suggested a warm compress for the groin spot and asked no additional questions.  I continued to research on my own, and my internet research led me to believe that I suffer from Hidradenitis Supprativa.  Primal Girl is the online "expert" on the disease and provides a thorough description on her blog.  I understand that self-diagnosing myself is silly, but I truly feel that my symptoms are exactly what she describes.  I refuse to be on antibiotics or medications for extended periods of time, but I understand if this altering of my diet does not alleviate my condition I will likely need consult doctors.  I believe that I have Stage 1-2 of Hidradenitis Supprativa (HS) which I consider lucky.  There are many who suffer from the affliction to the point that it hurts to sit, stand, walk, etc.  I have only spoken to maybe three people ever about my affliction (and two of those were within the last year), but I believe in spreading awareness.  I know I am not the only one to be ashamed.

I finally hit the point of having enough.  I'm tired of being embarrassed when changing at the gym.  I no longer want to feel forced to wear running capris instead of shorts.  I want to feel comfortable walking around naked!  I'm proud of the body I have worked so hard for, and I don't want to have to hide parts of myself.  I knew it was time to make a change, but the decision didn't come lightly.  It was time to take control of my health and well-being.  Many suspect that Hidradenitis Supprativa is an autoimmune disease and can be treated with the proper diet.  I'll be posting more on my AIP journey later this week.

Do you have an Autoimmune Disease?
Have you ever tried the AIP?


Monday, October 27, 2014

Fall capsule round-up + life.

 [1.6 outfit :: Denim on denim, but I actually didn't love this scarf paired with it.  It didn't leave me feeling very "fall" inspired]

 [1.7 outfit :: The warm weather is so hard to dress for (with only one pair of shorts and a long skirt).]

 [1.8 outfit :: This white pull-over is one of my favorites.  Plus I'm getting a million compliments on all my jewelry.]

 [1.9 outfit :: I actually hated this outfit.  This shirt was too short with these ponte pants, but I had nothing else clean and had worn all my other pants that week.]

 [1.10 outfit :: This shirt.  Love.  The material is thick and the style is perfection.]

[1.11 outfit :: These shoes.  Perfection.  Also, I switched to gray skinnies as the night progressed because it got cold at the beach.]

[1.12 outfit :: This is literally the first time I've ever worn closed-toe shoes with a maxi.  And it was ok!]

[1.13 outfit :: I wish I could find these joggers again because I would get so many more pairs.  They fit so well!  I randomly snagged the only pair on clearance at Gap.  I'm scared to style more than a tee and sneakers with them though.]

[1.14 outfit :: This maroon is my favorite.]

[1.15 outfit]

[1.16 outfit :: First time breaking out the tall boots.  As nice as Frye boots are, they have zero support in the soles. Note to self: add inserts!]

All pieces can be found on my original fall capsule post.  I'm definitely enjoying having a minimal closet.  I'm learning that there is certainly no need to have an obscene amount of clothes in my closet.  It makes life so much easier to have less.  That said, I do miss buying new pieces.  There are a few things I want now, but I know they won't be practical for my winter capsule.  I am getting a bit bored and concerned with the pieces I have.  The weather is getting really chilly in the evenings at school, so I'm considered switching out a bottom or two (ie. the maxi skirt doesn't feel practical going all the way through December).

On another note, I've signed up for my next half marathon in February and will be running with my bestie (her first half!).  I'm also in the process of following a 30 day elimination using the Autoimmune Protocol Paleo diet.  The first week has been extremely challenging, but better than the Whole 30 in some ways.  So no alcohol or coffee.  I'm scared to see how this month goes...



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