Healthy Habits in the New Semester

Hello and Happy Tuesday! I’m back at college again, after a nice 5-week long winter break. My classes don’t start until Wednesday, but I ended up coming back on Sunday because that’s the day that worked best with my family and their work schedules. Luckily, the drive went very smoothly and safely! I ended up spending my Sunday evening with a trip to Trader Joe’s, unpacked while watching Netflix, made myself a mushroom and avocado quesadilla for dinner, read some of a book, and went to bed at 10:30PM. It was glorious.

So right now, I’m sitting around for a bit, getting a bunch of small tasks and stuff done. Not big, huge stuff, but the typical kind of uninteresting tasks that need to get done before the hustle and bustle of a new semester sets in.

Right now, I’m savoring this little breath of relief in this transition period that I have right now. Yes, I know I’m coming off a 5-week break from studies, but there’s something nice about being at my campus, hanging out with friends before classes start, crossing small items off my to do list, and just being present.

Right now, I have the upcoming semester at the forefront of my mind. Thinking about the classes I’m taking, marking important due dates in my planner, and honestly kind of amping myself up for a lot of stress.

But, I realize that’s probably not the healthiest way to go into a new semester. With any transition and change (hey New Year), I think the natural impulse is to make resolutions and aim for big change. Now, I’m not aiming for huge change or anything. But, I’ve decided that this is the semester to prioritize my own mental well-being.

We live in a culture where stress is glorified. If you’re stressed, it means that you’re working hard, you have big goals, you’re doing allthethingsss… But, I’ve realized at least for me, being crazy busy and stressed all the time is not the greatest. Yes, there will be weeks where life is more stressful than others. But I want the overall tone of this semester needs to be more focused on not being stressed, and doing what it takes to do that.

With all that said, here are some of my plans for having a healthy semester!

Make time for 10 minutes of focused alone time in the morning, and 10 minutes in the evening. I want to start my days off with doing something I enjoy, rather than just scrolling through Facebook and Instagram. The first thing I reach for in the morning is my phone but 9/10 times, nothing important has happened while I slept. Instead, I want to use those 10 minutes that I have in bed in the morning to journal/pray and focus my day, and those 10 minutes before I go to sleep reading. I feel better when I give myself time to take care of myself.

Laugh every single day. I love to laugh. I think most people do, too. I hear about all the health benefits of laughing. I want to do more of it. It means taking some focus off of all the things I have to do, and instead, turning my focus outwards. This will probably mean socializing with people I love, which is never a bad thing.

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Sleep like it’s my job. I am that person who needs 8-9 hours of sleep to feel basically functional. I really try to do that, but I need to work on consistency. This also goes hand in hand with my desire to reduce my caffeine intake. By the end of 2016, it was getting insane. Feeling like I need coffee to get through the afternoon is not ideal. Once in awhile it’s fine, but I don’t want to do that every single day anymore.

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Hugs. I’m not the best at telling people how much I love them. But I am so grateful for all the wonderful people I’ve been blessed with in my life. From my family to my friends to my coworkers, I realize how truly lucky I am. I want to show it more often. Whether it’s through physical affection (roomy, yes I will hug you), or through texts or phone calls, I want to be better about showing love to those that I’m surrounded by.

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Accepting things. Sometimes, life is really imperfect and just isn’t working out. Sometimes, I’m functioning on too little sleep, too much caffeine, and I’m crying and emotional. And I need to realize it’s okay not to be okay. I think many women feel like we need to “do it all” and take care of those around us, but it’s okay to ask for help, say no to something because you’re stressed, or take a long time to respond to emails and texts. I want to accept the situations I end up in, and realize I’m doing my best. And reaching out to others when I’m having a rough time. It’s hard to admit that we’re not perfect and can’t do it all, but at least by admitting and accepting it, I’m owning it.

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I’ve used this image before, but goodness gracious I love it so much.

How do you handle stress?

Any back-to-school tips and tricks you have?

Caffeine – yay or nay?

Self-Care Tips & Links

Hey there and happy Friday! It’s my last Friday of break and it’s bittersweet. I’m excited to head back to school and start a new semester but I’m also sad not to have as much free time to just relax. I love having a schedule and structured days, but I think it’s good to change things up every once in awhile if it means some important relaxation time.

Today, I have self-care on the brain. I first heard the term self-care about 6-8 months ago. I thought at first it was some kinda hippy-feel-good-vibey thing. Silly me to jump to conclusions!

I’ve learned that self-care is actually more about taking care of yourself rather than being burned out all. the. time. It means taking a minute or an hour to pause: to watch Netflix, go on a walk, bake something delicious, journal, pray, etc. In a world where there’s a lot of bragplaining about how busy everyone is, self-care is desperately needed. I think we’re meant for more than mechanically just getting by and always feeling exhausted.

Here are three things I’ve learned about self-care:

It’s not something to feel guilty about. Taking 20 minutes of every day to write in a journal, read a book, or watch an episode of your favorite T.V. show isn’t unproductive. It’s rejuvenating. It’s necessary to prevent yourself from burning out. And sometimes you’ll only need 10 minutes a day to do this, other days you’ll need 3 hours because the day has gone poorly. Either is okay.

You need to figure out what self-care is to you, because it’s probably going to be different for you than your neighbor. For me, I always feel way more centered and peaceful when I take some time to pray, journal, and read God’s Word. I don’t do this every day, but it’s something I at least make an effort to do. I also feel rejuvenated and refreshed when I go on a run, read a good book, or color. For some of my friends, it means doing yoga, or playing an instrument, or watching the Bachelor, or getting a pedicure. Whatever it is, don’t feel ashamed for taking a break from the things you have to do to take a few to care for your soul. Everyone must rest.

Sometimes you don’t have time for even 10 minutes to yourself. But there are small things you can do. For example, let’s say you have a commute that you have to do on top of a crazy busy day that is filled from morning to evening. Use that commute to listen to a favorite playlist of your favorite songs, or an audiobook. Have to rush out the door early and mornings are rough? Buy some good coffee to make for yourself. Small things can make a positive impact on your day.

I’ve found some really great links from around the inter webs that are filled with some great tips and tricks for practicing self-care. Check them out!

DIY Self-Care Box!!! (LOVE this idea)

Reading a good book is self-care!

That’s all for today. Hope you have a wonderful weekend, full of self-care and rest!

How do you practice self-care? 

Read any good books lately?

Favorite snack (I need inspiration!)?

“Normal Eating” and WIAW

Well it’s already the second week of 2017, but there are still plenty of articles about ways to lose weight, “cleanse” (still confused about this because the body is by and large pretty good about getting rid of toxins), ways to easily cut out sugar, and get back to normal eating!

Now, I realize that everyone’s bodies are different, some people need to lose weight for various health reasons, etc. However, what even is normal eating? Spoiler alert: it depends. However, this question has me thinking. I looked up the word in the handy dandy Merriam-Webster online dictionary and this is what I found:

“conforming to a type, standard, or regular pattern”

And that’s it. So basically normal eating would be eating in such a way that there’s a basic pattern and regularity in your eating habits. For one person, this may mean intuitive eating, for another it may mean a vegan diet (diet used in this case as an eating pattern, not a way to lose weight), and for another, it may mean the diet they follow to avoid an allergen.

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Homemade cinnamon roll, Canadian bacon, clementine (and of course, coffee)

So that’s the basic definition of what “normal eating” is, and clearly it’s individual. And that’s what’s really great about it. A year or two ago, what normal eating was for me wasn’t what normal is for me today. And I’m really thankful for that since now I’m way healthier. What used to be normal for me was a pretty narrow range of “healthy” foods, eaten as specific times and intervals, with lots of exercise thrown in. Thankfully that’s not what’s normal anymore.

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Split pea and lentil soup, crackers, un-pictured wedge of brie cheese

And it’s possible to change your normal. Maybe you’re struggling right now with disordered eating, or you’ve just found out you have an allergy/sensitivity, your work schedule has changed and life is hectic, or you’re training for a specific fitness goal. And you probably SHOULD change what you consider normal in these circumstances. For example, I SHOULD (LIKE REALLY) be eating more when I’m marathon training. When I was starting recovery, I had to change to eating what I thought was a lot of food. Soon it became normal.

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Happy face because of post workout endorphins and Grande Caramel Macchiato

Here’s my inner math/data nerd side coming out for just a sec. Let’s take a look at this curve, that is known as (wait for it), the NORMAL CURVE 🙂

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Now the normal curve basically shows how data is distributed. I’m not going to go into the statistics and math as to how it is derived (even I don’t find that overly thrilling), but I will tell you a little something about this curve.

The center of data is where the 0 is, so the average value is right about there. The two 1s indicate 1 standard deviation from the mean, and the data contained between -1 and 1 is about 68% of all data (standard deviation basically measures how much data vary). The distance between -2 and 2 contains 95% of all the data.

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Roast chicken, green beans, twice baked potatoes

Okay so that’s a bunch of kind of random info. Why am I telling you this? Well because it shows that A LOT of values can fall into a normal range of data. So let’s say the mean number of calories you eat is X. But, 1 or even 2 standard deviations away is also within a normal range of data, even if it is 1.5 times what X is! The point is: it all kind of evens out.

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Homemade Christmas cupcake! Vanilla cake, chocolate icing 🙂

This may seem like a really long ramble, and it probably is. But my point is this: there is a lot of different definitions when it comes to normal eating. Your mean caloric needs could be totally different than your friend or sister’s, or even totally different than your mean caloric needs last year. That’s okay. Every single diet has variation, and even when we indulge during the holidays, or special occasions, or get stomach flus…it all ends up okay.

Thanks for reading through this post, and remember, find your normal, honor your body.

Thanks to JennLaura for hosting the WIAW linkup!

Anyone else out there like math or data?

What do you think normal eating is?

Favorite hot drink? Coffee and hot chocolate are my faves 🙂