Life Lessons, Motivation, Self Growth

How Sickness Brings Us Down But It’s Okay

I don’t know about you, but when I get sick I sleep. A lot. And while I’m awake, I rarely feel like doing more than watch TV. I’ll wish for a rainy day, so I don’t feel bad about sleeping in until noon and lounging on the couch the rest of the day watching tv and sleeping, but it’s always bright and sunny when I’m sick.

I don’t think I’m unique in that I like to be productive. Most of us do. That’s why most of the addictive games have “goals,” “achievements,” or “tasks” for us to do – which is what makes them so addictive to us. It feels like we are accomplishing something and being productive (at least in the game). We love that feeling. But it’s hard to get that feeling when you’re sick and have no energy to be productive. Not even to play the games that give you that feeling.

Needless to say, I’ve been sick. Today is my first productive day in what feels like a week but has really just been 3 days (2.5 really, I was a little productive yesterday afternoon). Fortunately, I have a partner that reminded me that it’s okay to take a break now and then, especially when sick. He reminded me that we had a long, productive, and tiring month with the kids (it was the day after we took them back to their mom that I got sick) and that we both deserved some rest anyway. We took all day Monday to sleep in and watch NCIS (he took the day off work), even though we were quickly running out of clean socks and there were more dirty dishes than clean ones in the kitchen.

Tuesday I was going to get back on it. I didn’t. I slept til noon and every time I tried to do a thing, I felt dizzy and weak and had to lie down. So I watched TV all day and snoozed a little in the afternoon. It really got me down. I felt like I needed to be productive. I felt like a lazy piece of poop because none of the dishes had gotten washed, none of the mess in the kids’ room or living room had gotten picked up, and I hadn’t had the mental capacity to even work on my classroom stuff.

It got me down and made it hard for me to feel motivated to be productive in the future. But finally his words got through to me. It is okay to take a break and take it easy occasionally. It’s okay to watch cartoons and NCIS all day after sleeping in until noon and go to bed at eight. It’s okay to be sick and just relax. It’s okay because that’s not who I am and I’m not going to do it every day. Only as long as I need it.

If you’re sick and feeling useless because dishes aren’t getting done, your hobbies aren’t progressing, and you’re ordering pizza instead of cooking, just remember that it’s okay to take a break. It’s okay to be sick. It’s okay to relax and enjoy doing nothing for a few days. You’ll get back on your feet and when you do it will be with renewed vigor. You are a badass. Don’t ever forget it.

Self Growth

It Takes a Day to Break

I imagine those of you who suffer from chronic, oh so persistent, depression will relate to this the most, but maybe everyone will.

This is going to be a personal post, and possibly a bit depressing, so Mom you might want to skip this one.

It feels like my life is a cycle is pulling myself together, getting my life on track, being on a good streak, and then falling. It’s annoying a best and completely discouraging at worst.

B-Ravin, what are you talking about?

I’m talking about how one day can set you back so, so much. It takes three days to form a habit, and one day to break it. Lets say you feel like you’ve got your life finally on track. Or, on track for your situation. You’re in college, developed a good study regiment, a good workout routine, and you’ve been sticking to your new diet for two weeks now. Great! You’ve probably worked really hard to get to that point. Then you have a day where you get sick. You don’t work out for a few days due to exhaustion and you break your diet because you only feel like eating jello. You study the minimum amount so you can spend the rest of the time sleeping and watching tv and hope that this illness only last a day or two. Your whole routine, the one you’ve worked so hard to establish and perfect, is ruined. Once you feel better, you first have to catch up on all the studying and homework you put off. This leaves little time for cooking and working out, so you get take out and skip the exercise. Slowly, so slowly you may be able to force yourself to get back on track with studying, get off the junk food and back to cooking, and eventually back to the gym. For a few weeks. Maybe even a few months. Then you get sick again.

B-Ravin, I know exactly what you’re talking about.

While most everyone can relate to this if I’m talking about a cold or an ear infection, not everyone realizes that depression is just as bad. You spend one day where you just can’t force yourself to get out of that bed, and everything falls apart. The next day, it’s hard to get up, but you may eventually do it. Then you’ve got to set what’s priority and focus on catching up on those priorities. Then slowly break all the bad habits you formed while playing catch-up, and replace them with new ones.

That’s the cycle of my life. At least, that’s how it feels. I still haven’t managed to get back into a regular workout routine after a few months (I’ve worked out on and off, but haven’t formed a habit). Granted, part of that is because I’m not in a great situation at the moment – many things in my life are very unstable right now – which causes more frequent days of not getting out of bed until noon, if at all, because hey – why bother? But even when things were good – nearly perfect even – I had sick days that would just throw off everything.

I’m not even sure what happened. I had a regular work out habit, diet, chores, and job hunting routine that I followed daily. After a while, they just feel apart, and I have been struggling to get them back together ever since.

What do you do to get back into the swing of things once that swing has been thrown off? Do you struggle going back to set habits & routine after you spend a few days with a cold or depression?

New Year Resolutions

New Year Resolutions

It’s been a while since I’ve made New Year Resolutions, so I thought I would this year. I used to find the idea of these annual resolutions a little silly because I didn’t like the idea of waiting until the new year to set goals for yourself. I still don’t. However, a lot of my goals have taken a long break due to a nasty break up, general discouragement, and the holidays. So, I thought I would use the new year as an excuse to revamp my goals and get back on them. And maybe add a few new ones. Like, go a full year without smoking a cigarette.

Anyway, it seemed like a lot of people would put off making a goal until the New Year, and then they would only stick with it for a few months, give up, and say “maybe next year.” Which is the reason I have not done them in the past. If I wanted to set a goal, I just set it at the time. But there is some romance in the idea of making a new change with a new year. Similar to a new start to a new semester at college (those didn’t last either). It also makes for a good excuse when someone asks about a new habit of yours – everyone understands a New Year Resolution. So, in the spirit of the new year, I will make some resolutions of things I have been wanting to do or goals I had been working on, but have drifted away from. The rest of this post is more for me than you, but feel free to skim through if you need or want ideas for your own or are genuinely interested in my resolutions. Also, please comment and share your own resolutions, if you’ve made any.

1. Get a job in my field of interest.
This is a big one. I’ve had a Civil Engineering job doing general work (sidewalks, drainage, piers/boardwalks, boat launches, and dredging – so much dredging) and I didn’t like it. I learned a lot, but I have a passion for water and wastewater treatment and reclaimed water. So, that’s what I’m looking for. I currently have business cards (for me), a list of companies to look into, and some networking with some of the companies. I think my first step getting back into the job hunt is to organize what companies I have done what with – either applied for a job or the contacts I have gained from Networking with contact info and notes. The next step is to re-check job postings in companies I have already looked at to see if anything new has been added with the new year. Next will be to continue through the list of companies, making network connections and looking at job postings, keeping notes all the while.

2. Blog More (writing and reading blogs)
My brain is constantly running and I enjoy writing a lot, so blogging makes sense, however I just don’t make the effort to sit down and write it out. So, for the new year, my goal will be to post at least twice a week, and read a least two blog entries a day.

3. Go the whole year without smoking
With an allotted 10 slip-ups (because, reality).

4. Publish a Cook Book
I have an idea for a cook book a want to do, and I love cooking, so I want to make one this year. Nothing big – 20 to 30 recipes, but they will be themed. Step one is to see if there are any copyright or patent things with cook books and recipes, since so many books have very similar recipes. Step two is to actually write out the amounts and cooking steps for the ones I know I want to do, and try them out the way I’ve written them to make sure it works. Step three is to come up with new ideas to add and try them out as well. Step four is to look into publishing and all that it entails. Step five is to publish. I think I can do all that in a year. If I set monthly goals.

5. Set Monthly Workout Goals
And follow-through.
January’s goals will be to complete a 30-day plank challenge and be able to touch my toes without bending my knees.

6. Learn Spanish
No, I don’t expect to get fluent. My goal would be to do a Rosetta Stone lesson at least three times a week and find a Spanish learning buddy to learn and practice with.

7. Make and Stick with a Sleep Schedule
This includes a daily wake up time, a bed-time ritual, and a morning ritual.

8. Cut the Caffeine
Limit to one caffeinated beverage a day. I’m looking forward to this one the least.

9. Spend at least 10 min a day in the sun
Considering the fact that our society is built to avoid the outdoors as much as possible (A/C, heaters, indoor activities, vehicles to get us from one building to the other, etc.), some days I just don’t get outside enough. Obviously I’d love to get more than 10 min of sunshine a day, but some days I know that just won’t happen.

10. Keep in better touch with friends and family
I don’t have a lot of close friends, so a voice or video call once a month shouldn’t been too hard to incorporate. And that will be my goal. Parents and sister will be once a week (at least). Close friends and relatives once a month. Slightly less close relatives once every other month. And for every one else, there’s email.

This does seem like a lot at one time, especially because I have other goals such as working on sight reading (for music), make more time for hobbies (including reading/writing), read more educational articles, keep up with the news better, and general health goals, but I think with some planning and organization I can at least do the big 10 and then slowly incorporate the others.

What (if any) resolutions are you making for 2016? What do New Year Resolutions mean to you? Do you make resolutions every year?

Uncategorized

The Get Moving Challenge

Sitting for long periods of time is very detrimental to our health, yet we all do it. Desk jobs are more prominent, desks for work and studying are designed for sitting down to use, classes and seminars are all sit-down, and many recreational activities such as writing, reading, play games of any kind, and watching tv all involve sitting down. ASAP Science even did a video on the effects of sitting called Are You Sitting Too Much? and a video about ways to stop sitting so much called 9 Tips To Save Your Life. Unfortunately, most companies don’t offer desks that will rise¬†and lower to give you the option to stand or offer a yoga ball as an alternative to a desk chair, which burns a little more calories and forces you to work on balance and posture without even realizing it, which is good for your brain.

Sometimes you just don’t feel like getting up when you should. For me, it seems like the longer I sit, the less motivation I have to get up. Even knowing that if I stand up for 5 minutes every hour I would negate the negative effects of sitting for that hour, I can’t always (or often) force myself to do so.

I have also noticed that the opposite is true. If I stand up for longer periods of time and move around, I’m less likely to sit down for too long before I’m back up and moving. At work, I have a box on top of my desk that I put documents and such on when I’m doing work that’s not on the computer such as hand sketches, hand calculations, or proof reading. When things are slow at work and I don’t have anything to do, I’ll put one of my college text books up there and skim it and work some of the problems so I don’t loose that information or I’ll read Civil Engineering magazine or Water Environment & Technology magazine. Sometimes while doing so I’ll even stand on one leg to work on balance or bounce on my toes to work my calves a little or even do squats while I hold and read my magazine.

The hardest part of starting all this is getting motivated to actually stand up. I usually don’t start this until after lunch, which means I’m sitting for a few hours straight in the morning. Even when I’m standing, sometimes I wish I had more motivation to grab that heavy book and do some overhead extensions or squat against the wall while I read. So, I proposed a game to several of my friends, and my mom, who I know wish they could just force themselves to move more, and I’d like to share the idea with all of you.

Here’s how it goes: text one of your friends with something along the lines of, “Get moving! Do _______! You go! Let me know when you’re done.” In the blank put something that’s easy to do in a small room like an office such as 15 squats, run in place for 1 minute, 30 toe raises, 20 overhead extensions with a heavy book, 30 sec wall squat, 20 sec quad stretch each leg, go for a 5 minute walk, etc. Do the challenge as soon as it’s convenient then text back “Done!” and send a challenge to someone else to keep it going!

What do you think about this game idea? Would this be something that would help you get moving when you’d normally be sitting? What are some other exercises that you could do in a small space? I’d love to read any of your own thoughts, observations, ideas, personal stories, etc. that you want to share! ūüôā

Uncategorized

Eating Healthy – Why doesn’t everyone do it?

Because it takes constant effort.

Also, many people are under the notion that eating healthy is costly, when it’s actually much cheaper than ordering out every night. What’s costly is eating organic.

Anyway, I’m not an expert, nor claiming to have it all figured out, but I did start a system that has worked for me (and my significant other). Of course, part of the reason it works so well is there are two people doing the cooking and cleaning, not just one, but still. I just want to share what I’ve done to help me stay on track with eating healthy in hopes that it may give you some ideas if you’re trying to eat healthy.

This is going to be a long article, but I will underline the main points if you want to skim it instead of read in detail.

First, what I’ve learned from reading health tips and the like:

Frozen fruits and vegetables are just as, sometimes more, nutritious as fresh. Why? Because they were picked and then washed and frozen (or washed, chopped, and frozen), so all the nutrients were¬†immediately frozen with the produce. Produce that isn’t in season has been stored or shipped from far away, and produce looses their nutrients with time¬†(apparently).

The fewer ingredients, the better (for shopping). When buying something in a can or a package, check the ingredients. If there are a lot of words on there you don’t recognize, it’s probably not that good for you. If they contain a few ingredients that you do recognize, then it’s been less processed and is likely much better for you than the one with a lot of unpronounceable¬†ingredients.

Homemade is healthier. It has been less processed and uses more whole foods. But not everyone has time to home-make everything. I pick and choose what I think is worth spending time making. I like to make bread (though I haven’t had the chance to in a while do to messy roommates), granola, yogurt parfets, and meals. But I don’t bother with homemade soups that are part of meals, homemade pasta, or homemade juice. I just buy that pre-made and pre-packaged.

Variety, variety, variety. The greater the variety the foods you get, the greater the variety of good bacteria in you, the healthier you’ll be, and the better you’ll feel. Also, lots of yogurt.

Now, onto what I actually do to eat healthy without getting too overwhelmed with meal planning (it still happens sometimes).

First, I went to¬†homemade by carmona and followed her meal planner (with some personal modifications):¬†http://www.homemadebycarmona.com/menu-planner/ ¬†Yes, it took a lot of time to put it together, but it was soooo worth it. I’m still adding to it, as I have several cookbooks, but have stuck to a limited number of recipes in the past. The main modification that I did was change “breakfast, lunch, dinner” ¬†to “breakfast, snack, lunch, snack, dinner, drink/dessert” though I don’t often use that last one. By having meal and snack ideas in the back pages, when I plan meals I can easily flip through them and grab the stickies and move them to the appropriate day of when I want to cook/eat them. I put the recipe location on each one so I can easily look up the recipe when making a grocery list.

Next, I tackled the most difficult and frequently skipped meal: breakfast. I generally force myself out of bed 10 minutes before I have to leave for work, which leaves no time for breakfast. My father told me he drinks a glass of juice (something thick like the naked juice) with a scoop of protein powder and then follows it with a glass of water and he’s not hungry til lunch. Great, that’s easy. I also read the importance of yogurt and a recipe for homemade granola, so I got some plain, non-fat yogurt, fruit and berries, and made the granola. Now, part of my evening routine is putting together breakfast for the next day. Sometimes the SO helps and sometimes not – it really just depends on if there are dirty dishes or not. I put a little over two cups of juice and then two scoops of protein powder in my blender and blend until it’s well mixed and there are no powdery chucks. Then I pour it into our travel cups and stick those in the fridge and rinse out the blender. Next I pull out our parfet containers which are really designed to be salad containers. They have a little cup that sits in the middle of the lid that is supposed to be for salad dressing, but I use it for the granola. I simply get my 1 cup scoop and scoop out a cup of¬†yogurt into each container, then top it off with fruit and/or berries and fill the little cup in the lid with granola (about 1/4 cup). Most often I’ll take half a peach and cut it up in to small squares and split it between the two containers then add a small handful of blueberries to each. This has become part of my nightly routine, so even when I’m dead tired, I still can’t get myself to go to bed before I’ve completed it. And it really only takes about 15 minutes.

Next is the other two meals. Dinner and lunch are integrated – lunch is always left over dinner. Dinner is picked out using my handy-dandy meal planner, and my SO will often do the cooking since I often tutor in the evenings. If he’s not cooking, then he’s washing dishes while I cook. When cleaning up from dinner, the leftovers go into two lunch containers for us for the next day.

Lastly is planning an afternoon snack. Since we’ve been including portion control to our healthy eating, we’re hungry mid-afternoon. And the way our work schedules are, I get home mid afternoon and he gets home late afternoon, so I always come home, clean the kitchen, and fix a snack for us. So far some of things I’ve fixed: carrots and¬†peanut butter, hummus and pita chips, bacon wrapped artichoke hearts, and strawberry and banana smoothie. And once a banana colada, haha. I have cookbook that has a lot of healthy snacks in it, so I’m slowly going through those.

In summary, here’s what our daily food/meals look like: breakfast is juice with protein powder followed by a glass of water; mid-morning snack is fruit and yogurt parfet; lunch is leftovers from the night before; mid-to-late-afternoon snack is something healthy that I fix; and dinner is something we cook (and we usually eat a smaller portion than lunch).

The time breakdown: Breakfast/mid-morning snack takes about 15-20 min to put together the night before, lunch is put in containers we can just grab and go (along with breakfast and parfet), late afternoon snack takes varied time depending on what it is, and dinner usually takes an hour or so for cooking and cleaning. At most, we spend a total of 2.5 hours (usually 2 or less) preparing food and washing dishes a day. It takes me maybe 30-45 minutes to plan a weeks worth of meals and snacks, and that’s mainly because I’m still flipping through cookbooks for new recipes to try. Once I’ve gone through all my cookbooks, I imagine it will only take 10-15 minutes to plan a weeks worth of meals using my meal planner.

What are some health tips that have stuck with you? What’s your favorite healthy snack? Do you have any meal planning or implementing tricks that work for you?¬† I‚Äôd love to hear [read] any thoughts, observations, ideas, personal stories, etc, that you‚Äôd like to share. ūüôā