Monday

Get Em to the Gym

Earlier today, I was sitting outside my client’s house thinking, “wow, it’s already almost September.” The month of August has seemingly flown by so quickly we are almost onto a new month and a new school year.

While I am taking an academic break until October, I have had the opportunity to work on some personal goals including one that is difficult for so many people: going to the gym.

I was on a roll before! I was going to yoga twice a week, or working out at home, or doing yoga at home. In August, I have made more of a conscious effort to start going again regularly. While I am not proud of how little I have been to the gym, looking at today in isolation, I am proud that I made it there.

Prior to the gym, I was sitting in my car thinking about what I was going to do after work.

I could go home and make something for dinner. 

I could see if one of my friends wants to meet up. 

I could go to the gym. 

It certainly wasn’t my first thought. In fact, after work, the entire drive to the gym, I was making up excuses in my head.

I didn’t bring headphones. 

What if the gym clothes in my bag aren’t clean?

Well, I have an extra pair of headphones that have taken permanent residency in my gym bag and I also have two pairs of gym clothes in my bag (and yes, they are clean). So realistically, my excuses were useless. I parked my car, went in and hopped on the elliptical.

The gym was empty. Maybe 3 more people trickled in while I was there. I love when the gym is like that. I don’t have to fight over machines. I don’t need to be self-conscious about people watching me while working out. I put on my Spotify playlist and off I went.

Why is it so difficult to get yourself to the gym?

Honestly, as a goal-oriented individual, I struggle with this thought a lot. I want to lose weight, have better endurance, and build strength. To do this, I should eat better and go to the gym. It’s simple, really. I’m doing really well with eating better but why is it so hard to get myself to exercise?

There’s an article outlining the scientific reason behind this and it’s interesting to read about the evolutionary basis for it. Here’s a link to the article: https://www.inc.com/jessica-stillman/the-scientific-reason-its-so-hard-to-make-yourself-go-to-the-gym.html 

I will remind myself of the reinforcing feelings that accompany this goal and continue to strive for a better self.

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July Check-In

The month is just about halfway done so I thought I’d do a mid-month check-in to see how I’m doing so far in July.

Mental Health

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While I have not been super relaxed so far this summer, my anxiety has had its ups and downs thinking about the future. My dad’s words of “don’t worry about the things you can’t control” are being replayed in my mind but I can’t help but worry sometimes. I think that’s human nature amplified by the effects of living with anxiety. I haven’t had any major breakdowns and my best friends (and my boyfriend, who doubles as a best friend) have been absolutely amazing.

Goals

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I really didn’t set any specific goals this month, which is a bit unlike me. The only goal I had in mind was to enjoy my time not in school, work hard, and take some time to enjoy myself with the company of friends and family. I’d say I have done that so far. I’ve made plans with friends more after work and made more of an effort to check in on friends and see how they’re doing. I have also been reading more books for pleasure. This is often something I complain about not having the time for when I’m busy with school work.

Goals in mind for the upcoming weeks:

  • Less emotional eating – I see myself starting to slip on this. Stress eating chocolate or unhealthy things to cope with certain emotions. I need to nip that early.
  • Practice more gratitude. I fell off the Five Minute Journal train. I stopped practicing daily gratitude. I need to start back up on that to start and end my days on positive notes rather than anxious ones.
  • Do more active things. In Montreal, I went for a walk with my aunt every night I was there. I have started doing more of this here, usually in the evenings when it cools down but it has been great to get out and take a nice 20-30 minute walk in the neighbourhood.
  • Focus more on my weight loss journey. While I haven’t been very strict on food choices in the last few weeks, I may look towards making smarter choices rather than be super restrictive. My work schedule has not been very consistent so far this summer but maybe next week I will get in the groove of when I can go to the gym after work as well. It’s never too late to try again.

In a couple weeks, I will write out my goals for August and share them. HM_press_release_infographic-1001x1024.jpg

 

Monday Morning Rambles

A new week is upon us and there are so many things to look forward to (and be anxious about).

This week, starting tomorrow, I will be attending the annual Canadian Psychological Association conference in conjunction with the International Congress of Applied Psychology. I am both excited and nervous about this opportunity.

Here are my racing thoughts:

  1. It is not my first conference. I have done this before. This year is not much different.
  2. It’s in a new city.
  3. It’s a city I’m familiar with – a city I visited multiple times a year from birth until the age of 12. I can handle this.
  4. I have to say a speech in front of a lot of people on opening day.
  5. Public speaking is a strength. I can do this.
  6. I feel very unprepared for my presentation.
  7. But I won’t be alone in my presentation and I have presented on it before. It’s on a topic I live and breathe.
  8. I’m missing a week of work – that’s a lot of money to make up.
  9. I’ve worked a lot of long days to make up for the week – it will be fine.
  10. I have to navigate the public transit system completely on my own (AKA without my mother being here for support).
  11. I did not need to use Google Maps to find my way from the bus station to the metro. I got on the right subway track. I got off at the right stop. The rest of it will be fine as well.
  12. I have plenty of friends and family here in the city who will be here to help me through this week. 5b7d7fec914146e9e1124eb18dd643c9.jpg

Hitting the Reset Button – Cuba 2018

I have been absent for what feels like a long time as my thesis draft deadline approached sooner than I anticipated then a few days later, I was on a plane to Cuba.

I am back and I am starting this Motivation Monday off on the right foot.

Going to Cuba for a week was like pushing a reset button. My stress and anxiety had been slowly approaching peak levels but I escaped just in time. We were away for a full seven days. For four of those days, I completely unplugged. No phone use (except for occasionally using it as a clock) including no emails, no social media, nothing. I, along with other individuals my age, have become increasingly dependent on my phone. I use it for work constantly – we have apps for communication, scheduling, and timesheets. I use it for emails and texting and social media use. Not having access to these things was refreshing. Yet I come back, and I look through my photos and wonder which one will I post on instagram.

You would think I would’ve done a better job of embracing the lack of social media when returning but I think that will be a goal for May – to use social media less.

I am happy to have returned back home and have the weather be sunny and warmer than it was when I left it. I can’t wait to go on my evening or early morning walks (we’ll see how ambitious I get).

I hope you did some sort of self-care in the past week. We all need it. Have a wonderful week!

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Let’s Talk About SAD

It feels like the middle of January but is somehow the middle of April. This past weekend, an ice storm hit, seemingly out of nowhere (I am clearly not a meteorologist and am probably embodying “fake news”). It has been dark and dreary out, and not in the rainy spring days kind of way.

There are so many beautiful things about spring – there is a feeling of re-birth, fresh beginnings, and growth. The sun is out for longer periods of time, the flowers are growing, and even the smell of rain seems to bring a sense of comfort (except the sight of it while driving does not).

This darkness we’re experiencing, however, reminds us that the sun may be out (sometimes) but it is still frigidly cold out. The plants are still dead. And, at this moment, there is still snow on the ground.

It becomes increasingly difficult, it seems, to break from the grasp of seasonal affective disorder.

Seasonal Affective Disorder (sometimes referred to as SAD), as the name suggests, is a type of depression that appears at different parts of the year, which may align with the changing of the seasons.

Common symptoms, as outlined in the DSM-5, include:

  • Feeling of sadness or depressed mood
  • Marked loss of interest or pleasure in activities once enjoyed
  • Changes in appetite; usually eating more, craving carbohydrates
  • Change in sleep; usually sleeping too much
  • Loss of energy or increased fatigue despite increased sleep hours
  • Increase in restless activity (e.g., hand-wringing or pacing) or slowed movements and speech
  • Feeling worthless or guilty
  • Trouble concentrating or making decisions
  • Thoughts of death or suicide or attempts at suicide

It’s important to note that these symptoms are very similar to major depression. Before you try to self-diagnose yourself with SAD, seek help from a professional as you may be feeling depressed, but it may not necessarily be SAD.

It is also important to note that seasonal affective disorder is a real psychiatric disorder. However, scientific research continues to be conducted to clarify the debate.

For some more resources about Seasonal Affective Disorder, go to:

https://cmha.bc.ca/documents/seasonal-affective-disorder-2/

http://bodyandhealth.canada.com/healthfeature/gethealthfeature/seasonal-affective-disorder

Hopefully spring is right around the corner (for real this time) so we can get some good old sunshine and vitamin D. Until then, stay warm, friends.

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It Ain’t All Bad

I think I get so caught up in the moment, especially while I am running on the adrenaline rush of an anxious moment (fight or flight), I sometimes forget to stop and realize that although I have moments where I feel like nothing is right, everything is wrong, and things are falling apart, in the grand scheme of things, it isn’t all that bad.

(Can you tell by that run-on sentence I still have residual anxiety from the weekend?)

Here are a few of my “It ain’t all bad” thoughts, in no particular order:

  1. I have a job I love with people I love working with.
  2. My clients may have bad days, or bad moments, but they are humans too, just like me. I have bad days. I have bad moments. I am making a difference in their lives. But life, as we know, can have its share of hiccups.
  3. My thesis is hard work right now, and I may feel like I don’t have much of a social life because of it, but in the future, I will be looking back, not remembering the negative feelings of it all, but just the satisfaction of getting my master’s degree that I worked so hard to get.
  4. I don’t feel guilty about eating that chocolate chip cookie because it was delicious.
  5. I get to hear birds singing out of my window every morning. Nature is beautiful.
  6. Money can be earned and saved in the future. Seeing the world and traveling with my best friend has greater value than the cost of the trip.
  7. My car gets me to and from the places I want and need to go.
  8. My friend group talks every single day in a group chat and I think that it’s wonderful that even though we are growing up and don’t get to see each other all the time that we still make time to send funny pictures or share things about our lives each day.
  9. I love having friends who know that even though we don’t talk every day, love and support is just a text or call away no matter what.
  10. The same is true for my family members.
  11. I’m learning to accept a lot of different things in my life. I am stronger than I ever was.
  12. I have access to delicious food each day.
  13. Soon it will be summer and I will likely be complaining that it is too hot rather than it being too cold like it is now.
  14. My boyfriend makes me feel loved, respected, and beautiful. I have never felt so comfortable being myself with someone. I wish everyone had the chance to feel the way I feel just by hearing his voice.
  15. I am 25 years old and I still call my mom for help with things like making gravy. She also knows how to pick my clothes out for me better than I can. My mom is my favourite person in the whole world.

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Hello April!

Happy Easter, everyone! Here we are in a new month and with a new month come new opportunities and new goals to be set.

This month’s focus is: eliminating distractions.

Like the rest of us (probably…I shouldn’t generalize), I enjoy unwinding with a Netflix show or spending countless hours on Pinterest pinning recipes or clothing ideas or exercise ideas (rather than actually exercising).

This month is going to be a busy one:

  • My first draft of my master’s thesis is due in three weeks from today.
  • I am going on a trip at the end of the month
  • My friend is visiting next week
  • I am helping develop a training guide for work

Goals:

  • Get work done each night.
  • No Netflix as breaks, unwind at the end of the night when productivity has decreased
  • Take breaks with music, short youtube videos, or stretching. If surfing on Pinterest, set timer on phone
  • Go to the gym 2-3 times a week
  • Reduce the amount of dairy and grains I am consuming – perhaps reintroduce a paleo-type diet.
  • Use the Self-Control app when working on my thesis so there is no access to social media during that time.
  • Make lists to help make tasks more manageable
  • Have a bit of a social life (if possible)
  • Meditate 2 times a day

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Mid-Month Checkup: March Goals

Here we are at another Monday. January seemed to drag on so slowly and now here we are more half-way through March.

Let’s reflect on how my March Focus goals have been doing so far:

Focus on my work and school work:

  • I downloaded an app called HabitBull to track my good habits. I love it because I’m very data driven and it creates graphs based on your performance!
  • I’ve started breaking down more of my tasks into smaller parts to make them easier to complete. I have completed quite a bit of work on my dissertation so far because I’m made it seem more manageable.
  • I have tried to take on more of an active role at work while also trying not to spread myself too thin. I know when to say no and how to prioritize things a little better.
  • To keep myself engaged in what I’m doing, when I do work at home (school or otherwise), I set a timer for about 30-45 minutes. I work on one task for that time, take a break, and then switch gears to something else. It seems to be working so far.

Focus on my health:

  • Well, if you asked me how my immune system is doing, I’d say not great. But judging by the last three months, I’ve started seeing a pattern of when I start getting sick: the week leading up to my menstrual cycle. In the past few days, I’ve started taking supplements daily to help kick my immune system and overall health into gear: probiotics, Omega 3’s, Vitamin D, Calcium, Magnesium, iron, and a multivitamin.
  • I got a gym membership at a new gym this month and have been twice already and have created a fitness journal and written down workout ideas. I am hoping to start going 2-3 times a week (perhaps more).
  • I started stretching every morning!
  • My skin care routine is great! Feels like a normal part of my morning and evening and it feels so soft.
  • I have written in my Five Minute Journal every day this month so far! Haven’t missed a day. It has been a great, positive way to start and end the day and it has become more of a habit than it was in the past.
  • My anxiety has been up and down this month with a few more down times than I was expecting. Meditating and remembering to stay grounded has helped and I have been looking up other strategies to get through tough moments of panic.

Focus on my relationships with others:

  • I have taken more of an active effort in my friendships – spending more time answering texts, talking to them on the phone, and making plans to see them.
  • I continue to reflect on these friendships and welcome new ones into my life.
  • I am appreciating times with my mom more. She has always been my best friend and my number one support system in my life and as I grow up, I want to return the favour and support her in any way that I can.
  • During this incredibly busy time of year, my boyfriend and I despite distance and responsibilities manage to appreciate the time we do get to talk and spend together even if it’s working on things together, sharing things about our day at the end of the day on the phone, and support one another with all that we do and I am so grateful to have him in my life in such a positive and loving way.

I still have some work to do this month in each of these three aspects, but there is still time to “focus” on them.

Happy Monday, everyone and have a great week!

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Self-Care for the Soul

Happy Monday! Another week and this week is March Break. While I still have to work for a few of the days of the week, I am dedicating a lot of this week for working on my March goals. This past weekend, I got quite a bit of work done on my dissertation and made plans to see friends throughout the week.

Today, I am practicing some self-care with two of my best friends and we are going to a day spa to relax and have some well-deserved “me” time.

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Here are some of the benefits of having some “me” time and going to a spa:

  1. If you go with friends, it’s a great place to catch up and be in the presence of other people while also being away from the hustle and bustle of life.
  2. Stress relief. Life is busy. Why not do something different from your typical routine and take a break from your busy schedule and go to a spa?
  3. Increase your serotonin and dopamine levels. As someone who has has chemical imbalances in these areas from time to time with anxiety, studies show that massages release these chemicals having positive effects on stress relief.
  4. Detox. Massages, facials, the whole deal – they all have detoxification effect on the body helping lymph nodes release toxins.

 

Whatever you choose to do today, be sure to practice at least one thing for self-care. Happy Motivational Monday!

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March in Like a Lion

Today is the first Monday of a new month March. Can you almost smell spring in the air? Other than the large heaping of snow we received on Friday, I can feel spring coming and I am nothing but excited.

I am looking forward to floral prints, sunny rays, spring flowers, rain boots, and driving around with the windows down.

This month, I have set my intention as Focus. I will Focus on the following three key areas:

  1. Focus on my work and schoolwork.
    For those who don’t know, I am currently completing my Master’s degree and am in the writing process of my dissertation. To make this task a little more tolerable, this weekend, I broke down what I need to do into smaller steps and will push myself to put my best efforts into my work and get it done quickly and efficiently. IMG_1662.GIF
  2.  Focus on my health.
    February was a rough month for me health-wise. I had that stomach bug at the end of Whole 30 and soon after, I caught the flu and am only now feeling better from it. With being sick, however, my healthy eating habits slipped a bit. I ate unhealthy food and justified it because I was sick – a habit I thought I was doing a good job breaking during Whole 30. Well this month, I’m already back to meal prepping and sticking to an overall paleo lifestyle (with a few exceptions here and there).  Tonight I prepped lasagna stuffed chicken with asparagus for the week. IMG_1732.JPG
  3. Focus on my relationships with others
    I have found myself to be distant from some of the people in my life. Not because I don’t want to spend time with them but because I have been busy, sick, and have spent a lot of time dedicating quality time for myself – something I have failed to do in the past few years. Over the next few weeks, with March Break coming up and Easter at the end of the month, I am hoping to spend more time catching up with friends and family as they too are a priority in my life. I am also going to reflect on how relationships in my life make me feel – am I growing as a person with this person in my life? What do they bring to my life? What do I bring to theirs?

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Happy March and Happy Motivation Monday! I hope you start March off like a fierce and powerful lion!