Happier

Things that make me happy?  Hiking, dog smiles, and dog hugs!

Things that make me happy? Hiking, dog smiles, and dog hugs!

Have you heard about Happier?  It’s a social media website that focuses on positivity – not a bunch of ads, political rants, or inflammatory comments.  Like any other social media site, you can create a profile, and then post about moments that make you happy.  You can also read happy moments shared by other users and “smile” at them (as opposed to Facebook “likes”).

I joined a few months ago, and I love it.  I definitely don’t use it as often as I would like, but I’m trying to change that.  When I’m stressed, a dose of positivity from other people can really help.  Plus, research has shown that focusing on small happy moments instead of chasing after an ideal of happiness can actually improve overall mood and life satisfaction.

I’m not affiliated with the site at all – I just love the idea of focusing on positive thoughts.  One of my favorite features of the site (and the iPhone app) is that it reminds me to be grateful for the little things.  Since I’m feeling so busy/overwhelmed right now, taking a few minutes each day to use the app gives me just the pick-me-up that I need!  Check it out!

On being realistic…

Yes, I know it's winter right now, but this shot reminds me of a fun and relaxing day before my life got nutty!

Yes, I know it’s winter right now, but this shot reminds me of a fun and relaxing day before my life got nutty!

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m a WEE bit busy (read: overwhelmed) right now.  As much as I’ve tried juggling everything, I think it is time to reassess and re-prioritize before I return to school.  In an ideal world, I would like to continue to do well in school and at work, lift 3x a week, run 3x a week, sleep 7-8 hours/night, and still have time for photography and cooking/finding new recipes.  Clearly, this is unrealistic.  

Obviously, I will continue to do well at school and work – these are non-negotiable, and will set me up for future happiness.  Lifting and running should be happening – for both my mental and physical health, though maybe the intense programs that I’ve been trying to follow are a bit much right now.  My schedule makes it tough to get out for a run, especially since I’m not home during daylight hours.  Plus, I need some downtime to give my brain a rest!  Normally, running or lifting can help with this, but it’s not cutting the mustard right now… 🙂

So, what to do?  It’s hard to not feel frustrated and ineffectual when I can’t seem to fit everything into my schedule.  I worry that I’m sabotaging something, and don’t want to look back on this time of my life and feel like I’ve wasted opportunities.

Being realistic about my time and capabilities is really hard.  But, so is overcommitting and feeling completely overwhelmed.  I’m on break this week, and plan to use this time as an opportunity to start to figure this out… (and to recharge!)

Stay tuned…

Keeping it Simple

I’m keeping it simple.  After following a pretty strict training plan for the last 6+ months, I needed a break.  The structured training was great for recovery from my injury, and gave me great confidence with my running progress.  However, since I don’t have any races scheduled, I’m taking it easy.

I’m lifting pretty hard, so I’m taking it easy on the roads.  Over the years I’ve learned that I have to listen to my body – the times when I haven’t is when I’ve gotten injured.  Wendy and I are enjoying our runs, and they are restorative and fun.  It’s nice to not stress about times or distance.

But, my little sister is running the Rock and Roll Half in Providence in September… and I’m starting to get the itch…  we will see what happens…

Senseless…

Photo: Feel free to share.  Praying for Boston and those affected.  The marathon runner is strong and no one can take that away.

This hits close to home – both as a runner, and as a MA resident.  There will be a lot of discussion about the causes, what could have been done differently, etc.  But, I hope people don’t lose sight of the individuals impacted – those injured/killed, the runners who never got to finish, the first responders, all the good samaritans at the scene… and the list goes on.  This isn’t a time for rhetoric or political agenda – it is a time to mourn, to grow and learn together, and to try and move toward a future when people won’t feel the need to use violence to try and promote their political views.

It looks like people will be wearing race shirts tomorrow as an act of solidarity.  I know I will participate – care to join me?

Still Alive

I can’t believe it has been almost 3 weeks since my last post!  Life has been crazy lately.  Between all our homework for our kitchen remodel, my sister’s bridal shower, and an obscene amount of homework, I just haven’t had time to get on here.  So, some updates:

  • I (finally) found out that I was accepted into my top choice for graduate school!!  I have spent the last academic year completing prerequisites, and I will start my new program in the fall.  I’m excited, and a little nervous.  It will be hectic, but SO worth it when I’m done.
  • My running has been going fairly well.  My speed is improving a little bit.  I’m still not as quick as I would like (need) to be for my goal race in a month (!), but I’m getting there.  I have to keep reminding myself that it is ok to have slow progress – I’m not even fully recovered from my injury yet, and it would be dumb to push too hard and set myself back.
  • My sister’s shower was beautiful.  We had a good turnout, and, although life got pretty crazy during the last couple weeks leading up to it (as is usually the case with these things), it was perfect.  My sister is one of those people with a positively effervescent personality, and it is so nice to watch her have fun.
  • The kitchen project is coming along.  We are still getting quotes and trying to figure out the best way to maximize our budget (any tips are welcome!).  Unfortunately, our kitchen is small, and we’ve found that some vendors tend to take us less seriously once they realize that we won’t have to spend $40k on cabinets.  Progress is slow, but it is moving in the right direction.

Moving forward, I hope to post more consistently, though there still might be sporadic periods over the next 6 weeks or so.  I hope everyone’s training is going well!

I Quit Weight Watchers

I haven’t really talked much about my specific diet strategies on here much.  Normally, I try to eat appropriate amounts of healthy foods.  That has resulted in some nice body recomposition, and consistent progress.  But, when I got hurt last summer, I needed something more structured to help me maintain my weight (or even lose some) while I was unable to exercise.  I wasn’t (and, frankly, still am not) able to just intuitively eat to maintain my weight.  I wasn’t really sure how to figure out my expenditure and make a good plan, so I decided to join Weight Watchers.  I had heard good things, and I really wanted someone to tell me just how to do things.

It worked too, while I wasn’t exercising.  Once I started exercising, though, it was very difficult to follow their points system and see results.  I think it overestimated my activity when I tracked it (sometimes a run might count for 30 points – which is more than some people eat in a whole day) and then I tended to be more lax with my diet – since I had the points.  Or, if I ignored the activity points that I earned, I found that I felt completely depleted and underfed.  My recovery started to suffer.  It just wasn’t working.

My other issue was that it focused so much more on QUANTITY rather than QUALITY.  I think they try to get people to focus on healthy choices, but I don’t know that having that much freedom of choice is good for me in a deficit.  I tended to gravitate toward a cookie rather than a granola bar or greek yogurt if they were the same amount of points.  I have a way to go in resolving all my food issues, and I think I make better choices overall if I am focusing more on eating good, healthy foods to fuel my body, rather than just focusing on staying below a target.

So, I decided to quit.  A part of me felt like I was giving up, but I am getting back to basics with my diet.  I’m re-embracing all the strategies that I used before (with success).  I shouldn’t have let so many of them go – I don’t feel as healthy as I used to, even though I am at a smaller weight.  I went to the grocery store today, and re-stocked on all my old staples, and am ready to hit it hard tomorrow.

So much for a recovery week…

My recovery week ended today.  It started out pretty good – I did a lot of stretching and some yoga.  I also did a bit of shoveling (even though I said I would take it easy!), but took care of myself after I came inside.  The storm was definitely a factor in everything that happened over my recovery week (and it worked out well that I took the break when we were going to have such poor weather).  While I wasn’t handling the downtime perfectly, it was all going pretty well and I was looking forward to getting back into things.

Then, on Sunday, I returned from a family birthday party to a loud and strange sound.  My dogs didn’t greet me at the door (which was concerning!).  I ran in and searched the house, eventually finding that our kitchen was flooded.  A pipe burst over our kitchen and destroyed our cabinets, counters, floor and a few small appliances.  Ugh.  The last couple of days have been a whirlwind of clean-up, dealing with the insurance company, and lots of stress.  I can’t believe it.

Now, we have to wait a couple weeks until we get our insurance payment and can start the rebuilding process.  This means limited cooking for the foreseeable future, and general chaos in our house.  And, to be honest, I have not kept my fitness/health goals in mind.  I have definitely been stress-eating, and didn’t stretch, do yoga, run, or anything for several days.  I have 100 days to my sister’s wedding (I definitely want to lose more weight for that) and 74 days until my goal race – so no time to waste!

I’ve mentioned before that I struggle with super-strict programs, but I think I might need to switch to one right now.  As much as my own particular brand of craziness can resist specific programs, I don’t think my willpower can handle something flexible right now.  I will continue with my running (of course), but will add a more specific plan for food and cross-training, and add in some specific accountability.

But, on the bright side, I did have good run today (the weather was spectacular!).  I think I needed it even more than I realized.  It helped to burn off some stress and get me out of the craziness at my house.