Friday, October 18, 2013

September: 5 Things on My Mind

Oh how true this statement is. However, it's really hard to come to terms with the fact that sometimes the people in your life who you thought were strong, are in fact not. At all. And admitting that what you once thought is now wrong not only calls into question your relationship with that person (or people) but also stirs up questions about yourself, why you have neglected the obvious, what has (or hasn't) changed, and what needs to. Strength comes in many different shapes and sizes... people most associate it with holding onto things/picking them up/holding them up, but (at the risk of sounding cliche) sometimes strength is most boldly shown when things are let go of. Which brings me to my next point:


I have had some sort of self-realization over the past few weeks that some of my inner battles I have been dealing with can be directly related to my lack of confidence or faith, in myself and in with life. How do I really, truly know that what I choose to do will make me happy? I mean, you can't really know until you do it. And I've been trying and pursuing different things, some have been successful and some haven't... but so far all have taken very minor risk on my part. The higher the risk associated with making life-changing decisions (not dramatic, just the necessary) the more often I ask myself that question. Is this really the right thing? Is this really what I want, what will make me happy? I constantly weigh all the consequences and associated changes with whatever I choose to do... always worrying that they (aka, the branch) will determine my happiness level. Thus, I am seriously lacking in the confidence or belief in myself to accomplish these things... and the faith or belief that I am truly never alone and that all will work out as it should. 

"Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me..."

It also begs the question: am I discontent with my current position because I lack the confidence in the overall mission or in myself to enact change? I ask that same question as it pertains to how happy I might be in whatever comes next. 

It is so easy to get hyped up into an idea... how many times have you gotten excited about an idea, talked about, made plans, and then it died and you think back weeks months or even years later and wonder what happened? Did I truly lose interest? Did I just get busy with other things? I find this statement perfectly pertinent to my current training for the half marathon. I have been talking about running a half for almost 2 years. And one thing after another has come up keeping me from it. There have been many mornings where the night before I felt motivate to get up and run in the morning, where when it came to actually getting out of bed it made me more cranky than motivated. But this can also be applied to relationships, events, and even starting a new job or setting a new goal for yourself. I think an important skill to learn in your twenties is commitment. Learn to commit, and continue to give it all of you've got.

That being said...
As a recent college grad and young professional trying to figure out what do with my life... I've had a hard time knowing when to take things on, but also when to let things go - and when to just let it be. I'm not known for my patience, and the past couple of years post-college have tested that more than anything 

So my message to all twenty-somethings is slightly contradictory. Attack life, the time is now, give it all you've got, and it will give back. But also remember, that although you are busting your butt, bending over backwards, giving your blood sweat and tears to what it is you're doing - to have patience. Nothing happens over night. And it is possible to be content, and fortunate for the patience-testing time inbetween - there is opportunity to learn from that period, it is part of what will make the next adventure so much more sweeter and genuine for you. 

And speaking of blood, sweat and tears. 

All of what I have mentioned above pretty much comes down to self-discipline. You need strength and confidence to commit and be patient, which gives you self-discipline. It is a form of freedom. And though I am still trying to decide for myself whether it is possible to master my emotions, I do know it is possible to master my thoughts. 

And it takes time - heck it will take a lifetime. But in the mean time, I am learning to make it a habit to remember patience, and confidence to be strong throughout a commitment and to take time amidst the struggle to appreciate where I am - regardless of where I've been or where I'm going. There is something simply beautiful in being present in the moment, focusing on the day in front of you without the weight of past or the pressure of the future. 

Thursday, August 22, 2013

I miss...

So I started this blog to document my experience of traveling abroad for a semester of my university studies in Bamberg, Germany. Well, it only lasted for a couple months of the trip, but I can tell you the experience has stuck. I miss it. I miss my friends. I miss the food. The people. The cool weather. Walking everywhere. The mentality. The festivals. The views. The ability to travel so easily.

...Of course all of that came with very little responsibility attached and a very fair budget to work with.

Reality, aka, "adult life" just sucks by comparison. I hated hearing my parents say "just wait until you're in the REAL world." And you know what? I could have waited. I SHOULD have waited.

Because now, I'm not just missing Germany, but I'm missing learning. I'm missing the freedoms I had in college to just pick up and go wherever and whenever I could make it happen. I could make more choices then. Now, I have all of these decisions that I HAVE to make, but I don't want to make.

[Wow, does it sound like I'm whining yet?]

Forgive my moment of hypocrisy, but no I don't regret the choice I made to graduate early. I DO regret the choice I made to jump straight into full time work. I should have taken some more time to absorb the fact that I am an adult, to realize all of the responsibility that was about to come crashing down on me, that the university wouldn't be there to protect me from anymore. To do some more exploring - self exploring; post-grad and pre-real world.

I still probably wouldn't have figured out exactly what I want to do with my life, and working full time for almost two years now has given me an opportunity to experience a lot and to reconnect with some of the things I had forgotten I loved. But now that all of this is my life, it makes it that much harder to make a change. [I am by NO means comparing my situation to others, I am speaking only on behalf of myself.]

What is the line to determine if the choices I am making are settling/staying in my comfort zone or running away/challenging me?

Friday, July 12, 2013

Contemplative vs. Content

I've been contemplating a lot lately... for those that know me, that's pretty much just how I am. I think a lot. As the saying goes it's a curse and a blessing - it means that I am usually responsible and reliable yet at the same time it often takes the spontaneity and mystery out of life. I often complain about thinking too much and feeling the pressure of society to do more and be more, do this or do that. Yet, at the same time, I believe that I am not truly content either.

So what's the balance? To be content with the life I have now, continuously working under the pressures of this ever growing and infiltrating society? Or to do more and be more but in my own terms?

Sounds like a simple answer, right?

But like I said, I'm rather responsible... and it takes a lot for me to take a leap of faith. I guess the problem right now is that I am lacking in faith that everything will be okay if I strike out on the path less traveled. Problem is, I can't see where it will lead. And of course, you can never see exactly how things will turn out, but some paths are more shaded in the distance than others.

Right now I feel like I am walking in circles, or pacing in front of the scarecrow of the Wizard of Oz, with the Cheshire cat of Alice in Wonderland whispering in my ear twisted words of advice. The battle between being happy with what you have becoming "settling" and taking a risk that may end up losing everything you know.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013


For real. That's one of my nicknames. 
I promise I'll get the hang of "First Fridays" when life doesn't always get in the way. HAHA. For the record, the First Friday of May 2013 was my sister's graduation from graduate school (the FIRST of our cousins to achieve a Master's Degree) so it was kinda a big deal. I couldn't be more proud of my sister... Who's next? Me perhaps...?
I expected this graduating class (only graduate students) to be much smaller. 

I have learned a lot this past month... not just new experiences, but was reminded about things I had forgotten about myself. I realized that I have a comfort zone in the gym. Give me a barbell and a squat rack and I get down. Am I off to become the next Sarah Robles? No, but I had forgotten how much I enjoyed weightlifting. I have been so concentrated on being healthy and making that lifestyle change to living fit that I had forgotten to just enjoy it. So that's what I started doing.

What do I have to lose right? By getting myself to the gym (way more motivating when I have a workout to look forward to) I am making gains.

I had been debating participating in a seminar with Lift Big Eat Big. I really admire this group of athletes. Despite the fact that I share a common interest with them in weightlifting, I agree with their philosophy and I really appreciate that the community they provide isn't just sharing and congratulating each other on their latest PRs, but to also support and inform a wider community on best practices in the field.
But I was way intimated to train with these guys. I'm a beginner; I lift, but I don't have a world record, I don't train consistently at a crossfit gym, etc, etc... I'd make a fool of myself. Talk about Debbie-Doubter.

So the last weekend in April, I dragged my worrisome butt out to the beach and I listened. And for the first time in a really, really long time when Sunday night came around, I realized I hadn't thought about work or personal stress or chores or any of the daily nonsense the entire weekend. And I loved every minute of it.

I hit a 125lb (each hand) max on farmer's walk. Thanks to some super helpful tips (aka NO SHOES) I managed a 225 PR on deadlift.

The Yoke was super awkward for me, I had a really hard time getting the form down and let me tell you its a killer on the spine. The LOG was my worst enemy, I couldn't get it up - I think because I was afraid of not being able to see and it falling on me. 

Stones - this shizz iz crazy. I got up to 110, I couldnt get 100, but it all depends on the width of the stone and getting it yourself set in the right position to lift it up. 

Thanks to these guys I now know I am capable of way more.

It was a great experience. I lifted more weight in two days than I ever thought I was capable of. I learned a TON about form and about mental game. Its okay if you have to think about it before you lift, but not everyone is the same - some people just attack, some people clear their minds, you just have to do whatever you have to do to get that weight up. Fear is your worst enemy when it comes to weights - they will fall at some point, its inevitable, but all that means is that you are trying. Try, try again - right? 

The rest of the past month has been a variety of madness...
My hair is getting so LONG. I don't know if it will survive the hot n humid summer.

I got to go to a live filming of WWE NXT where John Cena was making a guest appearance. I find wrestling immensely entertaining and seeing it live just doubled my fondness for it. And no, most of the guys don't look as good as Cena so that's not the reason but he certainly does make it look good.

I got to take care of this sweetheart for a few days... he really is the sweetest dog - he just has a bit of separation anxiety and as a growing puppy gets into anything and everything he can reach. 

I had some interesting interactions with birds... first these two cute ducks were takin it easy by my car at the gym one morning... then at lunch these two crows were doing the strangest thing: staring at the sky, getting all puffed up and their eyes changing color, then unpuffing, then puffing again - like a bird exorcism. Anybody know what thats about?

Every once in awhile, it's really good to be a Florida girl. 

So I will continue to make progress, both in and out of the gym. Whether I see immediate results, or it takes a little bit longer to achieve my goals, I'll be working on overcoming my fears and being more of a badass  - like this girl:

All it takes is 20 seconds of insane courage 
-Benjamin Mee

1. Have you overcome any personal obstacles lately?
2. Do you have a favorite guilty pleasure like a trashy tv show or kids game?
3. Every witnessed a strange animal interaction? Anyone know what in the heck those crows were doing?

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Delayed-but Worth It!

So I missed the second "First Friday" and I apologize... but its for good reason(s)! The Saturday after April 5, I took a yoga seminar ( and learned how to do my first backbend (without breaking my back!)

There have been a lot of firsts between today and the first Friday of March... and a lot of other things too so this is a picture-happy post, but I promise there will still be some "firsts" come May. So to continue... 

After St. Patrick's Day there really wasn't much time before Easter, and I was really busy with work, visiting with friends who were in town and dog-sitting (adding an additional 20 minutes onto my commute). It made keeping clean while eating and working out very hard to manage. I learned, that as hard as it is for me to live without dogs (I always had one growing up) I know I've made the right decision by not getting one at this point in my life... I don't have the time, and it was very frustrating for me to have to go take care of the dogs rather than go to the gym (proximity between work-house-gym was ridiculously inconvenient) especially when I've been putting so much time and effort into it. So, thanks to the online fitness community and the safeness of the suburbs, I got back to basics with exercise for the week. 
 After a nice 2 mile run, I put my legs up for some circulation and this calming view.. I had some good company to enjoy it with as well. ;)
This exercise I got from The Blonde Ponytail and was doing pretty well until... really? An entire porch and you have to lay on my towel? But hey... the drive may have been heinous, but the view was pretty worth it #sunsets #helicopter

So after a couple weeks of crazy schedules and driving all over the expanse of Jacksonville, all of a sudden it was Easter... in March. WHAT? It was also the last full weekend I would get to spend with my houseguests so we celebrated by eating our hearts out. I had planned to go to a great local haunt - if anyone ever travels to Jax, you have to check out Clark's Fishcamp for food - its AMAZING - seriously, but the wait was crazy over the holiday weekend, so we found this little gem... and turned an evening out into the dining experience of the year. Its going to take a lot to top this one. 

 Blackstone Grille- a steakhouse with an Asian twist. Everything fresh. #finedining

Easter Sunday Brunch was another awesome find. Who knew an oyster bar, a typical late night outing, would have such delicious breakfast food - and a really picturesque setting?
 Now if only I could eat breakfast like the Rock... I would weigh 5,000 pounds  - but for real. Delish. 

I have also learned the MAJOR benefits of Whole Foods... totally worth the drive for some PB2 for my oatmeal... with a banana... in a smoothie... on protein pancakes... highly recommend it for anyone who loves the taste of JIF but hates the high sodium. 
 I also picked up this awesome mug at Fresh Market - it made me smile thinking of all of my friends across the country and around the world. 
"Good friends are like stars, you don't always have to see them to know they are there."

*Side Note: I totally under-appreciated bananas (even thought I eat them on a regular basis) until now. Check out this great article on Health Facts for Bananas.

I also learned how to make some very awesome basic guacamole... too bad I ate it all before I took a picture... I love food.

On the other hand... I did pick up this great recipe for a high-protein Tuna-Avocado Salad which is great for sandwiches, wraps, or you can just throw it in a container with some spinach like I've been doing for a filling lunch without the carbs. I didn't use exact measurements, but I did use one whole avocado, about 3 spoon-fulls of 0% Greek yogurt, and a small (5.4oz) can of tuna. Dash of lemon, salt, and pepper and mix it all together!

I also did my part two-part race. Not an obstacle race, but like a miniature pre-cursor to a triathlon, called an Aquathlon (this one was 350m swim, and 5km run). I was super excited that my Alma-mater, the University of North Florida was providing this opportunity  because I had heard of duathlons but thats running and biking... and not only do I not have the proper road-bike, but I have no experience in biking either outside of 10-years-old riding down the street singing "Build Me Up Buttercup" - Now and Then circa 1995 style. 

<iframe width="420" height="315" src="" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>

I digress. So I talked to a couple of triathletes and did a trial run... swam 400meters and then ran 2.5miles in my swim suit with the clothes I had on to see if I could survive the conditions. I thought about buying some tri-shorts, which can be worn in the pool... but I really wanted to do some shopping around first. So I used an old pair of spandex shorts and I water-tested my shirt ahead of time to see how fast it would dry. When it came down to the race (which was a small group of people >40) I was feeling pretty good. 

However I let the adrenaline get the better of me in the first 2 laps. We were swimming in 50m lanes, snaking our way down 7 lanes of the pool. I got tired out and had to cut back on my pace (i couldn't stop in the deep end of a 50m lane to catch my breath...) but I still made good time. The transition part of the race ate my time; I had too many items to put on, and took too long to do it all. I found out later that in a traditional race, they would time each section, including the transition, so that racers know their exact times. I'm not a fast runner, in fact I take more of a jogging pace (working on it) so I finished up in 45 minutes. 

I talked with a couple of the top-finishing women afterwards (both marathon runners, triathletes, and Ironman finishers). It was motivating and inspiring to hear them talk about it, and once again I find myself sincerely appreciative of the encouragement that these pro-athletes have to give to those of us starting out. Overall, the race felt good! I liked the pace, I liked the set up, I liked the challenge of two sports - and I'm hoping aquathlons become more popular! Looking forward to the next one.
These two women are amazing. I hope I am that strong and fit when I grow up. 

And back off to work for the week! Who knew this sweaty, chlorine-smelling mess of a woman could clean up?
What do you prefer for "work"? Gym clothes? Or business clothes? 

After a weekend of activity - I set out to spending some time in the kitchen. Say hello to my first attempt at protein pancakes... topped off with some PB2. Super simple recipe, and if you have a Magic Bullet or a even just a blender, all you need is some oatmeal (1/3 to 1/2 cup), protein powder (1 to 2 scoops), and either egg whites (about 2) or soy/almond milk (a couple of splash's) or even peanut butter all blended together and your good to go. FYI - they cook VERY fast. I eventually got the hang of it.

And lastly... my tribute to the Boston Runners. I may be a day late, but after the shock of hearing about it in the midst of a crazy work schedule... fear for my friends who have family and friends there... and disgust at the portrayal of the event by the media, I kicked some cardio butt in honor of everyone working for their 26.2 in Boston. (The treadmill shut off before I got a picture, the other pictures are from the stair master.) Let me just tell you, I was sweating and I still wanted to keep going. 

Something we can all take from this, not only in running but also in life, comes from this quote:
"Let’s instead do what runners do best.  Let’s be strong.  Let’s be patient as information comes in.  Let’s pace ourselves.  Let’s endure.  Let’s close the gap and tighten up the pack.  Let’s recover together.
The road ahead is long.  But little do they know, we’re good with that."

'Til next time!

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Soldier's Subs

House guests, visitors, roommates, couch-surfers, family, sleepovers... So many different reasons why you might have to share your sleeping/living/eating space with someone else. With all the traveling I have done, and the amount of people who have stayed with my parents and/or I over the years, you'd think it'd be something I would be used to. But every guest is different, every situation is different, and you are different depending on when they are there.

It's a balancing act, trying to be a good hostess/friend, when you have your own life to live; eating habits, sleeping habits, and daily routines. How can you keep up getting a good nights sleep, getting to the gym, and eating heathily when you are spending your time visiting with a guest, going out or showing them around, and sharing food -which might mean you eat more of what they want. 

I am NOT complaining here. I love having guests, I have had my fair share of roommates, and I am so grateful for every person who has ever given me a place to stay and a good meal. Im simply stating that I now truly APPRECIATE the meaning of sharing a living space.

Roommates are one thing, you don't necessarily have to like one another, but you have to find a way to live together or someone will lose it. House guests are all different, whether they are friends, family, travelers, and how long they might stay... and for what reason. It could be emotional, it could be fun, it could be exhausting. Or all three. 

My point is, there is a way to be a gracious host, while also maintaining your own health and sanity. That might mean standing your ground, or saying no to some things... but in the end, being upfront about your expectations and standards will make the experience (however long or short) much more enjoyable. Even if that means taking a break from your house guests.

Why is the title Soldier's Subs? Because I don't eat like a man - an athletic, 2x my size man. And having house guests that eat like a soldier returning from the field has been a challenge. Because I COULD eat like that. I love food. Its how I was raised. There was no portion control, the method of eating was "clear your plate." I LOVE carbs - mostly because sweet things involve carbs, or carbs tend to be sweeter... either way. I can say NO to going out and partying rather than getting sleep before a 6am gym session and work the next day... but it is sooo hard for me to turn down a delicious Firehouse Sub and  Froyo after a long day of work when I only have boring spinach and plain ol' greek yogurt in the fridge.... What I have learned is to choose wisely. Its okay to give in to cravings, in fact its better to eat a little of whatever you are craving rather than to starve yourself and binge later, but don't always say yes. Or find a healthier substitute (like greek yogurt as a topping for tacos rather than sour cream).

 Nothing like a fresh banana and cold OJ to quench a morning sweet tooth. Plus egg whites, spinach, and avocado makes for one protein-refreshing way to start the day.

How to eat out healthily. SUPER-food! Sweet Potatoe to the rescue! 

How to not eat out healthily. Still better than a BigMac, 
but I love me too much crunch and creamy shrimp sauce. 

 Peach Cider + Muscadine sweet wine = delicious-o.

 Clean eats in the kitchen. rotisserie chicken, green beans, wild rice. Simple, yet filling and healthy. And I didn't break the bank at a natural foods store.

Achievement(s) of the Week: 

Feeling guilty when missing the gym. Sounds bad, but that only means the gym has become a priority and a habit in my life (which is a good thing and a long time coming). So, I went to the gym.
Sweat much? Talk about a good workout. Happy squatting! 

AND: Mastering the GHD - For this girl who is afraid of falling (not afraid of heights, per the Big Bang Theory) getting myself on this thing to do sit ups was terrifying. And talk about a workout! Hurrah!

BTW: Happy St. Patrick's Day!

I love that March has a holiday. For most people, in college or working, there is no break after MLK until Memorial day. And although we don't get off of work for this day, there's always so much going on the days beforehand. Plus, I'm proud to have a day to connect to my Irish heritage... I guess that means I should drink more on St. Patty's... 
NAHH, that's just a stereotype. ;)

'Til next time!