Create your own joy

The world happens around us, every day. It happens around us and sometimes, it happens to us. There are any number of things that are totally outside of our control, and sometimes, those things are pretty terrible.

You know what’s totally within your control? The ability to create your own joy. You can give yourself permission to seek out joy. That’s allowed. It should even be encouraged.

picmonkey-collageI spent the weekend on the Cape, borrowing my cousins’ incredible home for a much-needed break. I took Friday and Monday as work-from-home days so that I could have some time to myself, to get some much-needed mental clarity and peace. For the weekend itself, friends came up from New York and drove down from Boston to spend Halloween in Provincetown. We got to be very stereotypical New England tourists for the day on Saturday, and when night fell, we dressed up in costumes, broke out the booze, and celebrated the holiday in truly ridiculous fashion. It was something of a social experiment, throwing together two separate sets of friends who had never met, but it turned out great and the weekend was a success.

Leaving the Cape yesterday for the long drive back to Boston, I found myself reflecting on how grateful I felt for the past few days – grateful to the family who let me use the house, to the friends who made the journey to the Cape, to the job that gave me the flexibility to work remotely, to the universe for giving us amazing weather. The key, though, is that I didn’t sit around and wait for these things to fall into my lap. I asked whether the house would be free at any point this fall; I asked my friends if they wanted to spend a weekend away. I created space for this weekend to happen.

If I don’t make a conscious effort to create space for joy, then yes, it’s really easy to let everything else overwhelm me. That’s the thing about stress, about exhaustion, about bad news and difficult experiences: they creep, they spread, they entangle you. You can let it happen, or you can do something about it. I’m choosing the latter; I’m choosing to invite in the light.

To that end, I’ve decided to participate in a Daily Gratitude challenge for the month of November. I’ve been using (and loving!) the Day Designer planner printables, and the company sent an email out this morning with a link to their free daily gratitude journal printable. They shared a blog about how to make gratitude a daily habit, and they’re encouraging followers to share their daily reflections on social media with the tag #DDdailygratitude.

joy-gratitude-quoteI’ll be sharing my daily gratitude posts on Instagram at @beingyourchange, and where appropriate I may expand them into a longer post. I’m hoping this will help to keep all of the dark-and-nasties at bay, while keeping me focused on the sources of joy and light in my life.

August Goals

Happy Monday! I have to be honest… I really can’t believe it’s already August. This summer is flying by and I feel like I haven’t really taken advantage of all of my favorite parts of this season just yet! The good news is, I have some great vacations coming up this month.

Excited for excellent music jams with bae

Excited for excellent music jams with bae

On Thursday, I fly out to San Francisco for a few days. I’m going to Outside Lands and I’m super pumped to see some of the musicians appearing at the festival. I’ve seen a couple of the acts before, but for the most part I’ll be seeing these acts live for the first time, and I’m really excited about it. The other perk to this trip? The friend I’m visiting is totally supportive of my efforts to live a more balanced lifestyle, so we’re scheduling workouts throughout the vacation. This includes a Madonna-themed SoulCycle ride the night I arrive, complete with neon accessories. I’ve never met a theme I didn’t like, so I’m pumped for this!

I embrace any opportunity to wear fabulous hats.

I embrace any opportunity to wear fabulous hats.

Later in August, I’m heading to upstate New York with my parents to spend a long weekend at Saratoga Racetrack. This is one of the oldest race tracks in America and it’s one of my favorite vacation destinations! Saratoga Springs during racing season is a ton of fun. I grew up watching horse racing with my dad and I’ve only grown to appreciate it more as I got older. There’s so much history around the sport and I love getting caught up in the spectacle of it all – there’s really nothing like the energy of a live horse race. Best of all, it’s easy to keep gambling expenses low – I usually only bet a few dollars per race, but it’s enough to make me feel invested in the outcome. In addition to spending the days at the track, we have reservations at some amazing restaurants, so this will definitely be a vacation with lots of splurges. The good news: Saratoga is a very walkable city! We can walk from our hotel to most of our dinner destinations, and also from the hotel to the track. Additionally, the downtown area also has some lovely parks for running, so I should be able to fit in race training while I’m away.

Finally, I’m working on nailing down some plans for Labor Day weekend, hopefully involving a lake and a boat and some awesome friends. It’s nice to have something fun to cap off the summer, so I’m hoping things work out.

Given all of these plans, it’s important to set out my August goals in writing – so here we go!

august goals

  • Build my mileage back up. I definitely had a setback in my running due to my injury, so this month is all about getting those miles back under my belt!
  • Stick to a cross- and strength-training regimen. Regular pilates, yoga, and Studio Poise classes will help to keep me healthy and will make my running training go better, so I’m refocusing on this. Additionally, I need to get back into the habit of lunchtime gym visits at work to do some strength training to help prevent further injuries.
  • Eat clean as much as possible. I’m a realist and I know that I will want to splurge when I’m on vacation, so this month I need to focus on saving my “cheat days” for my trips. That means being smart about grocery shopping and meal planning. If I’m focused and disciplined throughout the month, I won’t have to worry as much when I’m on vacation – it’s all about balance.

What are your goals for August? Any fun plans to maximize the last few weeks of summer?

 

Week in Review: 10-day Refresh & New SP Class

In the interest of staying on track with my goals, I’m going to start posting a week in review every Friday, reflecting back on my progress for the week.

Workouts

Monday – Nada. Driving home from a mini-vacation in the Hamptons wiped me out and I needed a breather!
Tuesday – T-BarRe-Xtreme at Studio Poise. A combination of cardio, barre, and TRX strength exercises – an awesome cross-training class. I belly flopped out of a TRX plank at one point… guess I need to practice those.
Wednesday – Pound & Flow, the newest addition to the SP schedule! 20 minutes of Pound to get your heart rate up, followed by 40 minutes of power flow vinyasa yoga. My shoulders have been really tight lately (I was in a car accident a few weeks ago and the seat belt really did a number on me) so I really needed to spend some quality time in down dog to start loosening them up!
Thursday – Nothing But Leg, again at SP. This is my FAVORITE strength class to help build up the muscles I use in running, and man, Alison put me through the paces yesterday. I’m going to miss this when it changes to a new, earlier time slot next month!
Friday – Pilates Reformer at Oceanside Pilates. I have fallen in love with the reformer to help me stretch and loosen up. It has helped my hip more than anything else. Unfortunately this class is ending after Labor Day, so I’ll need to find another reformer studio near me that doesn’t cost me an arm and a leg – any suggestions?!

You may have noticed a lack of running on here. Tomorrow morning’s 4 miler is going to be the first time I’ve laced up my sneakers since my injury six weeks ago. I’m going to take it slow, and will probably end up run/walking the entire route. The good news is that my BostonFIT coach picked an out-and-back route so if I really feel like 4 miles is too much, it’s easy enough for me to turn around sooner than scheduled.

Nutrition

Come to me, micheladas. I will drink ALL of you. It's made with tomatillos so that's practically a salad, right?!

Come to me, micheladas. I will drink ALL of you. It’s made with tomatillos so that’s practically a salad, right?!

I spent last weekend in the Hamptons with some awesome friends, and while it was a blast, it was definitely not the healthiest of weekends. Beer for breakfast, anyone? I’m also going to be jetting off to San Francisco next weekend for Outside Lands, and while that trip will also feature some SoulCycle classes for #balance, I also plan on drinking as many micheladas as I can get my hands on (WHY IS THAT NOT A THING ON THE EAST COAST?!). I had exactly ten days between the trips, so I preordered the Advocare Herbal Refresh before leaving for the Hamptons, and it was waiting for me when I got home.

I started it on Tuesday, and it’s a really simple program to follow. Eat as clean as possible (and while I’ve been great during the day, I have definitely slipped up at dinner a few times this week… oops) and follow the program. The program contains daily supplements – a probiotic that you take in the morning, and an herbal cleanse that you take in the evening. It also comes with a powdered fiber drink that you mix with water and consume immediately prior to breakfast.

The fiber drink has definitely helped me to feel more full throughout the day. I’ve upped my fruit and veggie intake and am also trying to drink a gallon of water every day during this process. I was feeling rough earlier in the week (see “TRX plank belly flop,” above) because of all wear and tear I had put on my body over the weekend. Too much beer, not enough sleep, and I was not feeling great. Today, though, I’m really noticing a difference. It’s been four days and I feel like my energy levels are better, my focus has improved, and best of all, I’m down two pounds (woo!). The refresh is only supposed to be used every 90 days, and I’m not sure I’d make it a regular thing, but for times like this when I really need to hit the reset button on my body during a jam-packed month, it seems like it’s a good tool to keep in my back pocket.

Weekend Plans

I’m gearing up for the weekend and aiming for balance. I’ve got my four mile run tomorrow morning, and then some friends are joining me for a beach day and a dinner party at my house. I love entertaining so I’m really excited to cook delicious food and catch up with these folks, some of whom I haven’t seen in far too long. Sunday, I’ve got a beach yoga class scheduled in the morning at Carson Beach in South Boston, and I’m planning to take a kayak out on the ocean afterwards if it’s not too hot. There’s a Boating in Boston location right at Carson Beach, and I have a season membership that I’ve yet to use, so I need to get in lots of paddling time before fall!

What are your plans for the weekend? 

Vacation, All I Ever Wanted

I’m heading off on a long overdue family vacation this week. I haven’t been away with my parents in almost three years, and we’re all in desperate need of a break from reality. Between stress at work, seemingly never-ending health issues, and the grind of daily life, I’m not sure you could find three people more eager to get the heck out of dodge.

We’re heading to Las Vegas to spend five nights at Mandalay Bay. Let’s get this out of the way right off the bat: I do not expect to stick to my clean eating, healthy living habits in Vegas. I wouldn’t be able to truly relax if I were putting pressure on myself 24/7 to “be good” — but that doesn’t mean I’m not going to go totally crazy! There are ways to balance out a relaxing, indulgent vacation with a healthy mindset. Here are some of the things I’ll be doing to make sure that a week away from home doesn’t totally undo all of my hard work…

Find ways to stay active while on vacation. 

Just because I’m away from home doesn’t mean I can’t still be active. True, I won’t be able to take a Studio Poise class for a week, but that doesn’t mean I can’t do some core work on the floor of my hotel room! I’ll have my iPad with me so I can do some follow along videos every morning. I know I’ll feel better if I start my day by getting my body moving, and I’ll also feel less guilty when I indulge later in the day.

Mandalay Bay has a beautiful fitness center, but there’s a daily fee to use it. I’d rather save my dollars, so in addition to my hotel room fitness plans, I’m also bringing my sneakers and plan to get out for a run every day. There’s a half mile jogging path that runs around the outside of the hotel’s pool and beach area that I can take advantage of, or I can venture out and take in the sights along the strip while also logging some miles.

Indulge wisely.

Yes, I plan to have a drink while I’m lounging poolside, but that doesn’t mean I’ll be ordering up one of those ridiculously oversized souvenir glasses of frozen sugary alcoholic goodness. I may have one pina colada as a treat during the vacation, but primarily I’ll stick to vodka sodas. I find these more refreshing, they have significantly fewer calories, and they won’t leave me with a raging sugar-induced hangover the next day.

This was from my last trip to Vegas, in 2010. I'm sipping from a yard of margarita. I have no idea what a yard translates to in ounces, but I can tell you that it leads to one heck of a hangover.

This was from my last trip to Vegas, in 2010. I’m sipping from a yard of margarita. I have no idea what a yard translates to in ounces, but I can tell you that it leads to one heck of a hangover.

I also know that I’ll be having an amazing dinner every night, so I’ll pace myself throughout the day. I’ll scope out my options for healthy, lighter breakfast and lunch choices – places with great salads, fruit bowls, and low calorie offerings. I’ll make sure to steer clear of the poolside stands offering burgers and quick fried options! I’m also packing an assortment of healthy snacks – things like 100 calorie packs of almonds, Lara bars, and packets of Shakeology with my blender bottle – so that I’m equipped for success. This is especially smart for the days when I’ll be flying, as it can be challenging and expensive to find healthy options in airports!

Remember that this is a vacation, and it’s okay to enjoy yourself! 

At the end of the day, I love to eat, and I love trying new restaurants. When we booked the trip, I spent hours reading restaurant reviews before deciding on where we’d be eating each night. We aren’t the type of people who go to Vegas to take advantage of the all-you-can-eat buffet, so I won’t be tempted by the never ending display of caloric options. Instead, we’ve got reservations at some great restaurants, including Charlie Palmer’s Steakhouse, Rick Moonen’s RM Seafood, and my personal favorite, Thomas Keller’s Bouchon Bakery.

The key, when dining out, is to know where you’ll get the most bang for your buck, calorically speaking. If I order an appetizer somewhere, I’ll pass on dessert. So, I do my homework. I read reviews, and I pay attention to whether certain restaurants have a really astounding pastry chef, or whether there are certain appetizers for which the location is famous for. I’ll try to order wisely based on this research.

However, at the end of the day, I also won’t beat myself up too much for enjoying an amazing meal. I don’t eat this way normally; I might go out for a really extravagant meal once every two or three months when I’m at home. I know that these restaurants are using quality ingredients and everything is being prepared by the best chefs, and I will concentrate on enjoying the experience and savoring every bite.

Come back from Vegas several million dollars richer.

Okay, maybe I’m practicing a little bit of The Secret here. If I put something out into the universe, it will come true, right? ….RIGHT?!

photo 3

Immediately after winning $600 on Sex and the City slot machines back in 2010… so really, ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE, you guys.

What are your strategies for staying active when on vacation?
Any favorite Vegas activities that I should check out while I’m there?