A healthy habit to keep in mind…

Hi there, hope you are having a good morning!

So I wanted to bring up a topic today that is near and dear to my heart when it comes to living an all around, healthy lifestyle: the topic of awareness and/or the act of paying attention when it comes to food/eating.

The act of paying attention is one of the best “lessons” I learned when I crossed over to the “healthy living lifestyle” (clean, whole foods most of the time, focusing on whole grains, veggies, etc…). It is one thing that I NEVER used to do or even thought to do when eating/cooking, but now it is something I keep in mind all.the.time. and  is something I try to practice as much as possible.

I actually learned this tip from Bethenny Frankel in her book, Naturally Thin (I love this book, by the way), and I really feel it is SO IMPORTANT in regard to healthy living/living a healthy life in general. It’s like a light bulb went off in my head when I realized how interconnected this act is to so many aspects of life. Paying attention seems to be obvious task, but it can be really eye-opening if it’s not something you’re used to doing.

Paying attention can mean A LOT of things, but in regard to food, a few things that make up the concept include:

  • tasting your food! (aka not shoving it in your mouth or zoning out when eating)
  • recognizing when it is time for a meal – and stopping other activities
  • making a meal an ‘event’ (food presentation, making food look “pretty“) – you eat with your eyes first!
  • being aware of flavors/food combination, textures, food temperature….

When I started adopting this habit into my life (which was HARD at first…. mindless eating is often very second nature and NOT paying attention is much easier to do), I started to become more aware of when I was hungry and when I was full. I started to notice when foods didn’t taste so great (which is surprisingly hard to tell when you shovel food into your mouth… who would have thought?), started eating more slowly, and started to care more about what my food actually looked like. Food became more about quality and less about quantity. The “art” of food and the act of sitting down to a meal became more important to me.

Basically, the simple act of paying attention to what I was eating changed how I viewed food and the act of eating.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I am not saying that I sit in silence every time I eat and savor each and every morsel that goes into my mouth. Sometimes I eat in front of my computer or in front of the TV. Sometimes I have to eat quickly or have to throw dinner together in five minutes. Last week, for example, I had to eat dinner in my car (eating a kale and cucumber wrap out of a Tupperware container is an interesting obstacle, by the way). I understand that it is not always possible to completely unplug and give all your attention to a meal.

While paying attention can be mean various things to different people, to me, it is not about analyzing your food or making food more than it needs to be (like spending hours preparing it or making sure to taste every bite that you take), it’s about refocusing your attention to the present and unplugging from life.

I felt the need to bring this up since it is something that I have been trying to do, even when I am super busy and have to eat on the go. I feel like there is always some way to refocus yourself when busy or stressed (even if it’s just for 5 minutes!), and for me, enjoying a meal – even if its something simple –  is a built-in window of opportunity in which to do so. I refuse to let my busy schedule get in the way of my ability to disconnect for just a bit.

I hope I don’t sound crazy, but I truly believe that the simple act of paying attention to a meal (focusing on who your with, what your favorite part of your lunch is, what tastes the best/worst, etc.) can be a great way to refocus a moment or day. We eat at least 3x a day, why not take advantage of the opportunity to enjoy ourselves? It’s a great way to refocus and truly live in the present moment.

Do you think paying attention when eating is important/do you pay attention to it?

How do you refocus yourself when stressed/busy? How do you “live in the moment?”



Staying sane on busy days

Good morning. How are you doing today?

breakfast - greek yogurt, quinoa, banana, strawberries, pb

So yesterday was a long day. I have decided that  Wednesdays are definitely the toughest day of the week for me to get through. Between  8 hours of work + 90 minutes of Bio lecture + 2 (or more) hours of Bio lab, I always feel exhausted by the end of the day. While I usually try to make the best of it and not complain (I know we all have busy days), I have found that some weeks/days are just easier than others. Yesterday was one of the more rough days.

Anyway, instead of going over why I was it was hard day or why I didn’t have as much energy, etc., I’d rather move forward and discuss strategy. I have realized that I employ a few tactics every week to keep my spirits up. Since I am not one to dwell on a negative mood for long and am a  firm believer that the little things in life are what make you the happiest, I guess it comes to no surprise that I’d try to make the most of my more stressful days. Why be happy tomorrow or “when I have accomplished _____” when you can be happy right now (even at times when you are learning about entropy and enzymes)? Life if happening everyday so why not enjoy it (even if it’s the little moments….)?

So on that note, I thought I’d share some things that I do to attempt to stay positive/remain optimistic when days are long or stressful or feel never-ending  (and then maybe you can share some of your strategies? I’m always looking for new tips…):

I pack/plan to eat “fun food” and/or make eating an “event”

This probably doesn’t come as much of a surprise, but food makes me really happy. I love looking forward to a meal and love to plan fun (and healthy(!)) meals for myself on days when I am stressed or busy or blah. A good meal just lifts my spirits (and keeps me well fueled!). I legitimately get excited to dig into my packed dinners before class on Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

Even on super busy days when I rely on granola bars and trail mix to keep my energy up, I try to take the time to just slow down and enjoy them. Food doesn’t need to be fancy to be special. Meals (for me at least) not only serve as good “fuel” but always create a time/space where I can tell myself to just STOP and enjoy the moment. I love how food has the power to create such a space. You have to eat at least 3 times a day, so why not use the time to enjoy yourself?

I believe that food should always be “fun” and should never be an afterthought. It’s important! Even a snack of a granola bar or a dinner of a pb&j can be exciting if you focus on it.

Use my commute time as “me” time

It can be really hard to travel to school from work and come home at the end of the day feeling like I haven’t stopped moving for 14+ hours. I am the type of person that needs time to myself to just relax. I usually do this by running or at night by just unwinding, but my current schedule doesn’t allow as much time for this (I need to sleep too!).

I have found that my car ride to and from school is a great time for me to unwind and just relax. My activities range from belting out songs (I am really liking Kelly Clarkson’s new song for this… is that embarrassing?) to pondering life, to completely zoning out (while watching the road, of course). Whatever the activity though, I realize that these rides are definitely beneficial to let me just be.

Repeat positive mantras and try to learn fun facts

When all else fails and I feel super exhausted or would rather do anything than go to class or measure 2 mL of water into 15 different beakers during lab, I either repeat positive mantras in my head or try to extract fun facts from class to keep myself motivated. Basic biology can be much more fun when you are trying to learn something new and exciting at every moment.

I find myself doing this at work too when things are especially slow or stressful. It’s never to late to learn something new (I got to learn all about assessment of nonverbal children with autism yesterday….). I had a professor once that always said, “It’s not for school but for life we learn…” so maybe that’s where I learned this little tactic?

My go-to mantras:

  • “This will be worth it….. This will be worth it”
  • “You can do this. You are smart. You are going to be someone someday”
  • If you focus on the moment/be present… time will go faster (and you actually may gain something from this)… which is usually always true

Fun Facts:

  • Penicillin was discovered by accident
  • It is NOT fun to make “onion water” (not a fun fact but is the truth)….yesterday was more of a positive mantra day than a learn fun facts kind of day

So these are just a few things that I try to keep in mind when stressed/busy.  Even when days are hard and life is overwhelming, I like to think there is something I can do to change it (or at least make it a bit more enjoyable).

How do you stay sane when life is crazy? Do you have any suggestions/tips? I’d love to hear some!

Have a great day everyone!

Best thing that happened to me today….

Hi Everyone! I hope you had a great Tuesday!

So one thing that I like to try to do every day (or at least on rather stressful days or days where not much has happened), is to recap the “best thing that happened to me today.” My sister, Sami, and I do it all the time, and although it is probably cheesy and potentially embarrassing to admit, I like to think that it helps make blah days more exciting and helps to bring a more positive focus to not-so-thrilling situations.

.

It doesn’t have to be anything big. Sometimes, the best part of my day is the hummus and vegetable sandwich I had for lunch, while on others, it may be getting an important assignment at work or going out with friends that I haven’t seen in forever.  It is not important what the actual event is, but rather the importance of refocusing your day to view the good versus the bad.

When life is stressful and overwhelming, or even static and dull, I like to think that there is always a way to view life in a positive way. I guess I have always been a “glass half full” type (random side note: my older sister, Lindsay actually bought me one of those”half full glasses for Christmas… never knew those existed).

I get the point, but is it wrong that it irritates me that you can't fill the entire glass? What if I'm really thirsty?

It is not always easy, and sometimes I  think it is much easier to give in to negative thoughts. I know that when I start to doubt myself or question my confidence, it’s as if I go in a downward spiral of negative thinking. It is like I can’t turn it off. Sometimes I think it is often the stronger choice to recognize these negative thoughts and not give in to them.

So I don’t know how your day went, but whether it was the best day ever or possibly one that was a bit more stressful…. what was the best thing that happened to you today? I got some really exciting news at work today that made me really happy! I also took a Body Attack class tonight that kicked my butt, which I am always a fan of.