Thoughts For Thursday

To be honest, I was really really freaking kind of depressed yesterday. You see, on Saturday, I went for a nice long run, and during the last half mile or so, I got this pain on the side of my butt. I thought it was just a spasm or a cramp, so I pushed through and didn’t think anything of it. I didn’t go for a long run again until Tuesday, and for the majority of the 5 miles I did, I was in pain. Pain in my calf, pain in my knee, pain in my ass. Once I got off the treadmill, my butt/hip area was hurting so much, I could barely walk. I tried stretching, I tried walking around, and nothing helped. I hobbled home, sat on the heating pad, and tried not to sulk. I woke up in pain, and made an appointment with my General Practitioner (GP). My GP had me do some stretches and determined that based on the location of the pain, I had bursitis. She prescribed me an anti-inflammatory, and told me to make an appt with my orthopaedist to get x-rays. Oh, and she told me not to walk unless absolutely necessary. No walking, no running, no biking, no elliptical. Umm, excuse me?

photo cred: sportlink.co.uk

To say that I took her advice lightly would be a flat out lie. I was immediately overcome with feelings of anxiety, guilt, and depression. Doesn’t she know that running is one of my biggest stress relievers? How can I go from doing cardio 5-6 days a week to nothing? Why me?!

I think my responses were pretty standard of someone who has established (and become addicted to) an exercise routine. The important thing to do is to challenge those emotions, so that you can return to thinking rationally. I don’t talk about my job or internship that much, but I’m currently interning at an Eating Disorder Outpatient Program, so I facilitate group and individual therapy. On Monday, I led a group about distorted thoughts and the importance of recognizing and replacing negative self-talk. There was a lot of discussion about All or Nothing thinking, and ways that you can compromise with yourself to accept alternatives. I did a lot of emphasizing on the fact that behaviors do not define a person: this is something I had to remind myself of yesterday.

Just because I can’t run for a few days/weeks/whatever, does not mean that I am a bad or lazy person. The amount of exercise I do, what I do or do not eat, and how messy I allow my apartment to get during midterms is no indication of how good a person I am. In a society in which those who have a “healthy” diet or frequent the gym for hours at a time are deemed “good,” I think it’s easy to lose track of what actions and activities make us feel good about who we are. I also think that we focus on our exterior more than our interior because not only is it easier to make changes, but it is the side of us that people see more. Receiving validation from external sources is a huge self-esteem booster.

photo cred: coachbetty.com

So what’s my point in all this? That we are a society of labels, and it is up to the individual, not their peers, to determine what they want their labels to read. Instead of letting one label, that may or may not have a negative connotation, define us, I think we should embrace the multitude of things that we do. Someone with a psychiatric diagnosis is not bipolar, they have bipolar disorder. I am not an injured runner, I have an injury. There are so many more activites that I do in one week than run, and I will not let an injury disregard the rest of the challenging and rewarding things that I’m capable of.

–Ariel

Present and Accounted For

Instead of New Year’s Resolutions, I made some rough draft New You Solutions. I thought that if I reframed the way that I thought and lived, that I would see a positive change. Unfortunately, life got in the way, as usual. I wanted to make a whole list of things I wanted to accomplish, but to be honest, I’m not in the right mindset yet. It’s a struggle for me to find an hour or two to frequent the gym a few times a week, let alone try to go rock climbing or make tiramisu from scratch (two things I’d eventually like to do).  I have been actively trying to stay on top of my exercise routine and eat what makes me feel good, but something still felt a little off. Enter: the moleskine wellness journal.

photo cred: mojolondon.co.uk

My birthday was last week, and this was one of the fantastic gifts that Marissa gave me. I can’t tell you how excited I am about this. The journal is divided into sections: Personal Goals, Execise Log, Diet, General Health, Games/Sports, and Inspirations. There are another 6 sections with blank labels, so that you can create your own! I know the importance of writing things down so that they’re concrete, but now that I have something a little more “professional,” I find that keeping track of what I do is much easier. Another important aspect of writing down your goals/activities/diet etc is that it makes you accountable. For example, I got home from my internship on Monday night and began snacking away on some dark chocolate. I wrote it down in my journal and saw that I had quite a bit of sweets that day. The next day, I labeled my diet “Low Sugar Day” in an attempt to cut back on the refined sugars. Did I feel guilty that I ate sugar and chocolate the day before? Not really- it was delicious. Did I learn from my journaling and make changes accordingly? Absolutely. So expect some weekly updates about the goals that I’ve set for the week, and how I’m progressing!

What are some ways that you stay on track?

–Ariel

Winter Blues

This New York gal has got the blues. It’s fair enough to say that I think we’ve gotten our fair share of snow this winter. And with great snow, comes great shoveling…

Now, to stay on the bright side, I have to say I don’t mind shoveling, since it’s productive (yes, I need to get my car out of it’s snowy tomb) and it’s quite the workout! So we’ve had about 7 snowstorms so far (and one complete with thunder!) and we’re in the midst of an ice storm.

Check out my car, it looks sort of like an orca whale’s eye, if you look at it the right way… No? Just me?

Now, with the 18+ inches of snow we got last week, and the ice storm we’re waiting out right now, I have a hard time motivating myself to leave the comforts of my warmer-than-outside home. This hasn’t boded well for my food intake, or my fitness. So, I’ve taken to doing simple things to make better use of what’s going on outside the house and inside my body!

This is a unique opportunity for me to get extra creative with what I cook. I could whip up a batch of chile with my eyes closed under any normal circumstances, but with no onions left, and not many other supplies, I’ve had to dig into the depths of the pantry and use what may has been neglected.

Dried beans have been my savior and I’ve eaten chickpeas more ways than I can count. Luckily I find if I add enough spices, you can make anything taste gourmet. Chickpeas with chile powder, cumin, garlic, onion powder, curry powder and a can of chopped tomatoes made an excellent last minute meal.

It’s also made me realize just how much food goes to waste, even in my household where we’re extra conscience about how much we buy. There have been some eggplants sitting in the crisper (which is by far the worst place to keep food in my opinion, how easy is it to forget that it’s there?!?) so those also went into making an impromptu indian dish (see the spices above, substitute eggplant for chickpeas). Bam! Another easy meal, without even having to leave the house! Other than to de-ice the driveway for the 3rd time…

As far as indoor fitness goes, I’ve been lucky enough to have held onto an Amazon.com gift card for quite some time, and purchased myself an Xbox with Kinect!

After visiting my college roommate in upstate New York and experiencing playing around with this, I was convinced that I needed one. It gets me moving and it’s interactive, which is something I definitely need. I’m not good at doing workout videos, and I’m a little hesitant to join a class, but for some reason if it’s a game, I’m all for it!

So those are just my wintertime hibernation solutions that I’ve been using to stay well so far this winter. And even though the groundhog may not have seen his shadow and Spring is on it’s way, I have a feeling we’ve still got some more shoveling ahead of us…

 

Marissa

A Girl’s Breast Friend

WARNING: If the discussion of mammaries makes you uncomfortable, stop reading. I repeat, stop reading.

Now then, let’s talk about boobs. Everyone has them- some people love theirs and embrace them, some people hate theirs, get them enhanced or reduced, or try to modify them without surgery. Regardless of size, I think that when exercising, everyone wants to feel supported, yet comfortable. There is nothing worse than worrying about how much you’re bouncing, or if someone if getting a peep show due to inadequate padding.  A good sports bra is much more than just support- it should elevate your confidence, and provide you with increased motivation.

Photo cred: enell.com

I know that may sound far-fetched for some, so hear me out. I am relatively short, 5’3″, and thanks to the traits I’ve inherited from the women on my father’s side, I have a large chest. For the most part, I’ve learned to appreciate my body. Yes, it is slightly annoying having to size up one or two sizes in button-down shirts to accommodate my chest,but I think rather than spending time on self-criticizing, that time is better spent on self accepting. The one aspect that I was still uncomfortable with was my workout attire.

Photo cred: enell.com

When I started running over the summer, I wore a North Face sports bra, plus a tank top that had a sports bra built in. Once I started to increase my mileage, I noticed some chafing under my left boob. I thought it was just a one time thing, so I readjusted and continued to use the bra. A lot of triple antibiotic ointment and gauze later led me to the conclusion that this was not a one time occurrence. However, I could not find a bra that I was happy purchasing. Frustrated with the sports bra search, I decided to use what I had- a soft sports bra that offered little support, underneath the dreaded other bra that gave me abrasions. Two sports bra. That’s right, I wore two sports bras for about 5 months. It’s bad enough having to peel one sweaty bra off your body after a long run, but two was terrible.

As usual, my sister was the one to talk some sense into me. She has been practicing Krav Maga for quite a few years now. That means that 1)she is a total bad ass, and 2) that she does a lot of high impact exercises. We were both home over Thanksgiving, and she let me use one of her Enell bras on my morning run. Not only did the bra physically change the way I held myself when I ran, it completely changed my confidence level. My posture was better, I no longer hunched my shoulders over, and I felt great about myself. My boobs did not bounce. It was hard for me to believe that was possible, and I’m still a little surprised each time I put the bra on. I know this sounds like a big plug for the company, but I don’t work for them and haven’t received any complimentary products from them. I’m simply excited that my breasts stay in place when I exercise, and wanted to share my experience with all of you. We all make sure that we have the proper yoga pants, running shoes, and other sports equipment, so why aren’t proper sports bras encouraged?

 

Has anybody else had to wear two dreaded sports bras? Is there a brand that has changed the way you work out? We’d love to hear from you!

–Ariel

Make Like An Onion!

I’m sure everyone has heard the saying “make like a banana and split!” Today, I made up my own saying that I’m sure will catch like wildfire as well. “Make like an onion and layer.” Anyone that’s seen Shrek will remember the scene in which Shrek explains to Donkey that ogres, like onions, have layers. Then, of course, Donkey says that instead of an onion, the analogy should be with parfait instead because “everybody loves parfait!” So if you don’t like onions, “make like a parfait and layer.” Maybe it needs some work…Its lack of a punchline might not make you chuckle, but it will serve as a reminder of how you can enjoy the outdoor sports that go hand in hand with the winter weather.

I’m finally home on a two week winter break! I have plans to cook, bake, clean, read, knit, reunite with friends, and SLEEP. I also want to exercise in order to maintain the strength and stamina I’ve worked to achieve. At school, it was easy- the gym is a 10 minute walk from my apartment, so I was able to set aside an hour and a half 3-4 times per week to get some running in. Given that I’m only home for a short period of time, I want to try to branch out from my gym routine to enjoy the colder weather. I know that enjoying the cold weather may seem like an oxymoron, but as long as you have the right “tools,” being outside can be refreshing and invigorating.

I will admit that at first, I was hesitant to run outside. It’s cold, windy, and grey, and completely outside of my comfort zone. Then I realized, that this was the perfect excuse for me to venture outside. Instead of New Year Resolutions, I’ve decided to set some New You Solutions for myself (more on that later!). One of my solutions is to try some activities outside of my comfort zone. So I layered up, grabbed my iPod and I was out the door. Running in the colder weather is just like anything else- the hardest part is getting started. I stood at the top of my driveway for about 30 seconds, and then I was off, and didn’t look back. Believe it or not, I took off my mittens about 15 minutes into the run.

Having proper tools is important, as is their quality.  I wear wool socks because they are comfortable and will keep your feet warm even if they get wet. I also wear 2 pairs of pants- a pair of spandex leggings underneath, and a pair of long underwear from EMS. On top, a short-sleeved wicking shirt from TJ Maxx, a long-sleeved thermal from The North Face Outlet, and a fleece vest.

Again, wool is your best friend for outdoor activities. A headband and gloves are vital when temperatures are low. Even though I know I’ll probably end up taking my gloves off, I never leave home without them. This is one of those “more is more” cases.

If putting on all the layers doesn’t get me amped up to run, I think about how great I’m going to feel at the end. If THAT doesn’t help, upbeat music is always the answer.

 

Does your exercise regime change during the winter months? What do you do to motivate yourself? Email us at apositiveregard (at) gmail (dot) com

–Ariel

Hibernation Mode

Hi all! I don’t know about you, but I have had the most difficult time getting out of bed in the morning. I’m making a conscious effort to go to bed early(ish) but I must say, this sudden cold weather is making me want to retreat under the covers until spring time. Here are a few slight changes that I’m making to ensure that I function to my best ability, despite the unappealing chill factor.

(photo cred:chicklitplus.com)

Drink more water. Everyone knows that you’re supposed to drink 8 glasses of water a day, but when it’s cold out, I think we tend toward drinks like coffee, tea, hot chocolate, and other beverages that warm us up. Therefore, if you don’t make a conscious effort to sip some water, it’s much easier to get dehydrated. Drinking water in the winter is also essential because it hydrates your skin! If you find that your skin is drier and flakier than usual, or your lips are chapped or cracked, think about upping your water consumption! I keep a 1 liter water bottle in the refridgerator at my job and make sure to drink at least 1.5 liters throughout the day.

Eat energizing foods. Colder weather usually means cravings for comforting foods. I find that while I may crave sweets, especially at night (hello, old Halloween candy!) and comforting carbs, I feel lethargic after eating them. I have been making big pots of lentil stew so that I can quickly heat up a bowl for lunch or dinner. By throwing in roasted carrots, celery, tomatoes and spinach in with the protein-packed lentils, it makes for a nutritious, energizing, and comforting meal. At night, instead of reaching for the big bag of M&Ms and peppermint patties that my supervisor gave me, I have been having a small piece of dark chocolate and an orange, or a cup of homemade hot cocoa (with skim milk!) and an apple. Listen to your body and try to get to the root of your cravings! If you’re craving pretzels and chips, you probably want something savory, so reach for vegetables with hummus or some air-popped popcorn with a little olive oil and sea salt. Craving candy and sweets? Try making a baked apple with nutmeg and a drizzle of pure maple syrup, or sprinkle some orange segments with cinnamon. It’s all about eating what makes you feel good.

Get moving! I know this is a no-brainer, but during the cold months, I make it a point to get some sort of physical activity at least once a day. It’s difficult because it’s getting darker earlier, so many of us leave for work or class in the morning when it’s still relatively dark out, and then don’t get out until the sun is setting. These in-between months are also difficult because while you may not want to do the outdoor activities that you were doing over the summer, it’s not yet time for winter sports, such as snow shoeing, skiing, and ice skating. I love running outside, but the cold air makes my lungs very unhappy. Instead of running outside after work, I’ve started to take walks during my lunch hour. I picked up some warm shirts and pants at The North Face Outlet a few years ago (sample sale win!) and I try to go walking at noon (don’t forget sunscreen!), which is the warmest part of the day. Remember to wear a hat and gloves on those extra chilly days. Not only do I feel physically good afterward, my mental state is much better too. Taking a mini mental break lets me start the afternoon with a clear head, and I don’t fall into a slump around 3 pm. Luckily, since I’m on a campus, I have free(!!) access to a gym. If you don’t have a gym membership, I would recommend exploring alternative activities. If walking outside isn’t for you, how about exercising in the comfort of your own home? I have had really great results from various workout dvds, such as Fat Burning Yoga. I took out a bunch of dvds from the public library, and this was one of my favorites. If you haven’t found a video that works best for you, check out what your library has, and after you’ve found one that you like, you can always buy it on ebay or Amazon! If you want a short workout, Jillian Michaels has a few videos that I enjoy. I’ve tried the Yoga Meltdown as well as the 30 Day Shred. I only do these workouts when I’m pressed for time, since they are each about 25 minutes long. If you aren’t a fan of workout dvds, use what you have! Run up and down your stairs a few times, vacuum your entire house or apartment, or do push-ups and sit-ups during the commercials of your favorite television show. Anything to get your heart rate up, and those endorphins released!

Soak up some rays. Getting a good dose of Vitamin D can have a positive impact on your mood, and all it takes is 15 minutes of exposure a day! It’s easy to go from work to the gym to the couch and then spend the rest of the night watching The Vampire Diaries (what? It is the BEST show on tv. No, I’m not joking. Watch one episode and tell me the plotline isn’t stellar. Go ahead. I’ll wait) but by getting a little sunshine, you could see a marked improvement in your happiness.

Keep It Social, Smarty! It’s really easy to stay inside where it’s warm and cozy and to neglect any and all social plans. You may not be hibernating, but you might be isolating. I have been interning as a therapist for the past two years, and I can confidently say that in the fall and winter months, rates of depression increase. If you’re skipping out on plans with friends more often than not, take off those sweatpants, put on your going out clothes, and have a good time. If you’re feeling a little down about the cold, isolating yourself from your social support group is only going to exacerbate those feelings. It’s good to get out of your house once in a while, believe me, even if you just go to a friend’s house for dinner and a movie. Do something that makes you laugh, it’s good for your health.

What do you do to beat the cold weather blues? Or are you a fan of cooler temperatures? Email us at apositiveregard (at) gmail (dot) com!!

We’re The Fugawee

My dad is hysterical, but sometimes likes to tell corny jokes and come up with puns that make my sister and I groan “awwwwww.” He once told us a joke he heard from a friend that ends with the punchline “We’re the Fugawee.” Google the joke if you haven’t heard it before. Anywho, because of that joke, whenever my sister and I don’t know where we’re going, we exclaim, “We’re the Fugawee?!” That was essentially the theme of the hike that Mike and I went on yesterday afternoon.

I had acquired a map of Long Island that showed all of the biking and hiking trails a while ago, so I pulled it out and tried to find something that was an easy loop. Since I had gone for a 6 mile run earlier in the day, I didn’t want anything too strenuous, maybe 4-5 miles. We found a relatively easy looking loop in a county park that was about 5 miles, so we packed some water and snacks, and we were on our way!

When we arrived at the park, we checked out this map, which told us nothing about where we were or where we were supposed to go. Good way to start off, right?

This was posted below the map. So, we don’t really know where we’re going, and there is a hostile woman on horseback roaming the park. Bring it on, Wendy!

Since there were no signs, we picked a random direction to go in. Mike has a really great GPS and pedometer feature on his phone, so he turned it on to make sure we wouldn’t end up in the Atlantic Ocean.  Look at how pretty the trail is! Too bad it was not the trail we wanted. The park had a lot of horse trails, so after venturing down this trail and running into a lot of piles of dung, we decided to turn around.

We walked in the opposite direction for a little, and look what we stumbled upon- a sign to the trail we wanted! We were pretty excited to be going in the right direction, so we frolicked off in the direction of the lake.

About a half mile into our hike, we came across a fork in the trail. We could either go straight or turn left to cross over a bridge. There were, of course, no trail markers. We decided to cross over the bridge, but then came across ANOTHER fork in the trail. If you think that forks in the trail will be a recurring theme in this story, then you are correct. If you think that us making a left at every fork will be another theme, you are also correct. So yes, we made another left. Up a trail made of sand. Side note: I hate sand. Love the beach, hate sand. I guess it’s easier for the horses to walk on, but it is not easier for me to walk on.

Luckily, I found a way to go up the trail without having to walk on the sand. Just kidding, I made Mike carry me.

We finally got a view of the lake, so while there still weren’t any trail markers, we were getting slightly more confident that we were heading the right way. I have a decent sense of direction, but I get very nervous when I feel disoriented. Mike encouraged me to enjoy the walk and the lovely weather, and to not worry about the “right” way to go.

The trail eventually turned into dirt (yay!!!) and was scattered with Sassafras leaves. I love teachable moments, so I started rambling to Mike. I went to nature camp as a kid (and am darn proud of it) and distinctly remember learning about Sassafras. It is easily recognizable due to the 3 shapes of the leaves: ghost, mitten, and oblong.

See the 3 different kinds? You learn something new every day!

Once the trail turned to dirt, blue markers started popping up here and there, but to call them sporadic would be an exaggeration. We continued to make lefts when faced with split paths, which was frequently, and I stopped worrying about whether or not we were going the way we were supposed to.

I wanted to take a nice picture for you wonderful readers but none of them turned out well. It seems that pictures of me turn out better when I stand on one leg and make a fish face. Such is life. The area was really beautiful. The leaves have already started to change colors and the air was crisp and refreshing. While I’m used to more inclines, the trail offered some nice twists and turns that kept things interesting.

2.5 hours in, my knees started to ache and I began to wonder if I would have to build a shelter out of branches and leaves for us to stay the night in. Magic phone GPS showed us heading in the right way, so we ambled on.

And ambled, and ambled and ambled. Climbed a few trees and took some pictures, then ambled more.

After 3 and 1/4 hours, Mike spotted a clearing that looked familiar, so we sprinted up a massive hill into a field that…..was right next to where we parked the car!!!

Yup, that is the route that we hiked. According to the magic phone, we walked 8 miles. We were both pretty spent when we got back to the car, but it was a really great adventure. The company and the scenery really couldn’t have been better.


Moral of the story? If you convince your fantastic boyfriend to go on a 5-mile turned 8-mile hike, he will be famished by the end and buy the two of you an extra-large cup of pumpkin spice frozen yogurt from Red Mango.

Oh, and you will have an uncomfortable amount of sand in the bottom of your shoe.

What did you all do this weekend? How did you enjoy the glorious weather?

–Ariel