Motivation Monday – Break Walks

When I was 18, I weighed roughly 105 pounds, despite the fact that I didn’t have a gym membership and that I routinely dined on fast food with friends. I’m sure that my thinness was largely due to the fact that I spent forty hours a week on my feet at my job as a grocery store cashier. Now I have a desk job, and I definitely do NOT burn calories at work. In fact, there are many days when I find myself so busy that I eat lunch at my desk. This might be great for my productivity, but it does terrible things to my waistline!

Years ago, when I still lived in California, I got into the habit of walking on my breaks and lunches at work. While doing this did help me lose weight, I ultimately got out of the habit because it was such a solitary existence – I missed the social interaction of the break room. I picked the practice back up when I took my current position, only with the addition of my coworker and friend Robin as my walking partner. We’ve come to look forward to our daily walks, and have even added in some lunchtime walks as well. Not only do we get away from our desks for a little while for a much-needed mental health break, but we get to enjoy the outdoors. And yes, you’ll find us walking rain or shine – the weather never deters us!

Going outside for a quick walk is a great way to get exercise, even on the busiest of days. Sometimes, it’s the only exercise I’ll get all day, and I’m always grateful for it. And with break walks being a cemented part of my daily routine, I have something to look forward to every morning and afternoon.

Changes

I used to be the girl that despised change. I wanted everything in my little world to stay cozy and consistent. Of course, I realize that nothing stays the same, and so resisting change is pointless…but even so, it took me nearly thirty years to accept and even embrace change.

Last February, I wrote about some major life changes I was experiencing, some of which I had initiated the prior fall. Back when I wrote that update, I was still unsure about my new life, even though I knew that the personal changes I’d made were for the best. Since then, I’ve found SO much happiness and am more assured than ever that the things that I’ve done for myself are right. I’ve made new friends, and strengthened existing friendships. I’ve fallen in love with someone new and am enjoying every blissful moment of that love. I’m having adventures, having fun, enjoying every day for what it has to offer instead of relentlessly looking toward the future and hoping that it will offer me what I desire. I feel at peace, more than I can ever remember feeling.

When things are right, they flow.

Gone are the days when I felt that I had to struggle for every little thing I want. Maybe this is because I’ve reached a point where I’m letting things happen, and not trying to force what will never be. Maybe it’s because I’ve gained more confidence, and continue to do so. Or maybe it’s both, one never can really tell for sure. But what I can tell is that things just feel so fluid, so right. 

In April, I cut my long hair into a short, inverted bob. I was VERY nervous about doing this. But it turned out great, and I felt so much more attractive with the new cut. I kept it til yesterday, when I went in for a trim and came out with a pixie cut.

For years, I’ve admired women with the confidence to wear their hair so short. They have no long layers to shield their faces and hide behind. I never believed that I could pull off such a style, so I just looked on.

Yesterday when I revealed to my stylist what I had in mind, she was thrilled and gushed about how excited she was to see the results, insisting that I have the perfect face shape for such a cut. Now that I have it, I definitely agree with her and I feel amazing about my appearance! I’ve gotten a TON of compliments about my new hair.

While a fresh hairstyle is definitely a change, my new look is the smaller of the changes taking place in my life. The bigger is a career change that I am incredibly excited about. I accepted a temporary six-month analyst position with my company, with potential for a permanent position after the first of the year. This job is entirely different from anything I’ve ever done and I am beyond excited for the new challenge.

I’m taking my new job beginning July 15th. In between now and then, I have four days next week to work, followed by a ten-day vacation that I’m kicking off by celebrating the 4th of July in Portland with my love, and continuing back in Washington with my parents, who are visiting from California. Together, we will celebrate yet another change in my life, my thirtieth birthday.

These days I am feeling happy, successful, and excited about what I fully believe will be one of my best summers ever.

Motivation Monday: Core Training Camp

Last Saturday marked the first day of summer! Regretfully, I spent that beautiful first day of summer sick in bed with a head cold. But it’s Monday now and I’m on the mend.

When I’ve been feeling under the weather, or even when I’ve just been very busy, it’s nice to have a workout at the ready that I can do at home. I’ve found exactly that in Gunnar Peterson’s Core Secrets: Training Camp DVD, which I recently picked up on Amazon after being introduced to it by my boyfriend. Core Secrets is awesome: it’s a full-body workout that emphasizes your core muscles. All you need to do it are a set of dumbbells, the rest is just your own movement. You can make it as easy or difficult as you’re craving, and it only takes a half an hour to complete it. If I really want to give myself a hard workout with this DVD, I use eight-pound weights, but for situations like when I’m getting over being sick, I’ll drop down to five-pound weights and still feel that I got good exercise.

The video itself is hard, but enjoyable enough to do without being miserable. Gunnar Peterson, who has worked with professional athletes and celebrities, is likable enough that even when his moves make me hurt, I go along with him willingly enough. Even though doing a DVD can be repetitive and I’ve already begun to catch onto what’s coming up next, I like the different moves in the workout so I don’t mind doing them.

I like having a tough yet quick at-home workout to fall back on if I can’t make it to the gym or a fitness class.

 

 

The Minimalist

I am a person who loves organization, and feels most zen when things are orderly and planned out and neat. This may be my preference, but right now my life seems rife with clutter and disorganization.

It’s been six months since I moved into my apartment, and it’s just now starting to feel like home. Maybe that’s because I’ve finally accepted it AS my home. For the last couple of months, a friend and I had been planning on moving into a house together this summer, so I didn’t bother getting too comfy where I’m at. But our plans fell through, leaving me to realize that where I am living is where I’m going to be, at least for another six months to a year, and that I needed to start treating the place as such.

Yesterday, I got home from work and went to get my mail, as I always do in the evenings. The mailboxes for my apartment complex are located in the main leasing office, and to get there from my unit I have to walk along a path and cross a foot bridge over a small stream that cuts the property in half. On this particular evening, it was sunny after a morning of rain, and as I crossed the bridge I took a deep breath of the fresh air and felt very comfortable and content, and glad to be home. It was the first time I’d really felt that happy to be there.

Last winter, when I packed my things to move, there wasn’t a lot of time for going through my belongings or to throw away unnecessary items. As a result, I moved a lot of junk to my new place. And once there, I only had a few days to unpack before I had to go back to work, and I was trying to make the place as comfortable for myself as possible before I had to resume a daily routine. So again, I didn’t really sort through anything, but instead tossed a lot of items I didn’t really have any use for into a cupboard or closet because at least it was put away and my place gave the appearance of being neat. But now that I’ve determined that I’m not leaving anytime soon, it’s time to go through those cupboards and closets and clear the clutter.

Last night I began the purge. I’ve decided that in order to keep the project from feeling completely overwhelming, I’ll tackle one space at a time. Last night I focused on one of the cabinets in my office, and quickly filled a trash bag with things that I absolutely do not need. When I hauled the bag downstairs and deposited it in the dumpster, I felt relieved, as if that was one less bag of stuff taking up much-needed space in my little apartment.

I want to have as little as possible. I don’t want to have loads of stuff just because I once liked it or because it was a present. I want less. I want smaller, more compact, more easy to manage. Maybe having more is widely accepted as a status symbol, as a sign of affluence and success. But to me it is scary. I want my little world to be as easy-to-manage as I can make it.

So marks the beginning of my journey to becoming a minimalist. I’m hoping that along the way I’ll achieve greater peace of mind and greater closet space.

My Gratitude Journal

I’ve always loved to write, from the time that I first learned how. From a young age I was always keeping diaries and journals, in addition to spending hours locked in my room, lost in the fantasy worlds created by my own imagination and written down in spiral notebooks or on the old laptop that my dad generously let me have. I’ve been blogging since 2005, on one forum or another.

In May, I started a new writing project after getting inspired by a blog post I read about keeping a Five Minute Journal as a tool to increase personal happiness. From this post, my idea to start what I think of as my  Gratitude Journal was born.

Each day (well, with the exception of days that I forget to do it), I write down three things that I am grateful for, three things that would make my day great, and a daily affirmation of my own self-worth. I am now a month into this project, and I am excited to say that I feel more positive and optimistic because of it!

Today, I decided to write down each of May’s daily affirmations to create a self-affirming paragraph. I don’t look at my previous journal entries from day to day, so I did find that some of my affirmations were remarkably like others and chose not to repeat them, but here is the paragraph I created with my journal for the month of May:

I am beautiful, smart, and successful and love who I am. I am capable of accomplishing anything, not alone but with the amazing family and friends that stand by me, support me, and lift me up. I am a quality person and I am loved because of who I am – and I deserve that love. I can handle any situation I am faced with because I am brave and resourceful. I can do anything I set my mind to, even if it makes me nervous. I can step out of my comfort zone and I will be fine. I deserve all the good things I receive in my life because I am an amazing person. I am an athlete. I am a quality, capable person. I am amazing.  I am a good and loyal friend. I am smart and beautiful. 

Reading these sentences, and being able to say that I believe each and every one of them with all of my heart, makes me feel fabulous!

I can now truly see the power of reflecting daily on the positive things in my life and for taking time to be grateful for what I have. Although of course there are things that I want, as all people want things, I am finding myself more and more content in what I already have. Thinking of three things each morning that I am grateful for has really driven me to pay closer attention to things that make me happy: Skype time with my parents, hanging out with friends, a sunny warm day. And when it comes to thinking of things that would make each day great, I opt not for grandiose things like winning the lottery (although that would be fantastic!) but for simple pleasures: spending time with loved ones, cuddling with my kitties, taking a walk. And when I do those things, I revel in them, because they really DO make my day great.

I’m very happy with the way keeping my Gratitude Journal makes me feel, and I’m planning to keep it up!

Motivation Monday: Take a Walk

  I wrote this yesterday and forgot to publish it until this morning. That certainly doesn’t scream of motivation…but I was motivated, yet forgetful. 

This past weekend, the weather in the Northwest was fantastic! The sun was shining and temperatures reached the 70’s. Saturday was the perfect day to get outside, and so my boyfriend and I completed a workout and then set out on a walk through his neighborhood. I loved spending time with him, getting fresh air, and looking at different houses.

Today the weather is beautiful yet again, so I decided to spend the half hour I was allotted for my lunchtime outside on a walk. Right outside of my office is a paved path called the Interurban Trail. I recently learned that the trail was named after the Seattle-Everett Interurban, which was an electric railcar that ran for forty years before running its final trip on February 20, 1939. Today the section of trail that runs near my office is quiet, peaceful, and shaded by large trees on both sides of the walkway. For me, taking some time to be outside in the middle of the day really helps me feel more energized in the afternoon and helps combat that “2 o clock feeling” that Five Hour Energy is always talking about.

The great thing about walking is that it’s low-impact, so nearly anyone can do it, and you can walk for as little or as much time as you want. My favorite walks are the ones I take when I’m not on a time limit, and can just enjoy my surroundings and the feel of the sun on my face without worrying about keeping track of when I have to be somewhere. But even a quick 15-minute walk can really improve my day!