Checking In

Oh hey there. I’ve been missing you all. I took a short break from blogging, not intentionally but because life has been busy in all the right ways recently. But I am back, and figured that a good place to start would be to check in on how I am doing with my 2017 Goals. We’re one quarter of the way through the year. Here’s my progress and the completely ambiguous score that I’ve given myself.

The Ones Who Matter

  • Current Status: In just three months, I have already made some amazing memories. I also had my first Galentine’s Day trip with two of the most beautiful souls I know.
  • What I’m Looking Forward To: A few friends are getting married this year and I hope to be able to celebrate with them! I’ve also got a killer 4th of July road trip planned.
  • Score: 7. I can do better, particularly with the long-distance friends.

My Best Friend is a Pit Bull

  • Current Status: I remain painfully aware that Annie won’t live forever, and it’s almost debilitating. I’m super fortunate to have people in my life who understand how important Annie is and include her whenever possible. We have spent very few nights apart this year, aside from some travel. And my saint of a mom came up from South Carolina to dog-sit while I was in Ghana!
  • What I’m Looking Forward To: Annie is coming on the epic 4th of July road trip. I am also excited to continue a fun tradition that we started last summer. We skateboard to a nearby park where I work out. Then we skateboard home. It’s a great way for us to both get exercise and spend quality time together.
  • Score: 8. I still think I could do more. I specifically should hire a dog walker, as my work days are long.

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  • Current Status: Feeling good. In a steady workout routine, eating pretty well at home. But most importantly, I am not letting the stress of life hold me back from doing adventurous and exciting things. Like my recent, spontaneous, trip to Ghana. I’m surrounding myself with beautiful people who raise me up and bring out the best in me.
  • What I’m Looking Forward To: Continuing this trajectory of happiness, knowing good and well that I will encounter a few potholes, but feeling confident that I’m armed with everything I need to get past them.
  • Score: 9. Nobody should ever get a 10 when it comes to self-improvement.

I am still becoming who I’ll be. And if you ask me in a year, I’ll tell you the same thing. If you ask me when I am 100, I’ll repeat myself once again.

loveB

 

 

 

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I’m Just Waiting on a Wild Sun

Actually, that’s a lyric from one of my favorite bands, but I am just waiting on any ol’ sun. For anybody who is not lucky enough to live in a place as wonderful as Colorado (I’m obsessed, can you tell), you know the woes of those dreary wintry months. You know what it’s like to leave for work in the dark, return home from work in the dark, and have nothing but overcast weekends.

READ: 2017 Goals

We’re getting into those dark and gloomy winter months here in DC, and each year I dread it more than the last. Since moving back from Colorado, where they have 300 days of sunshine a year + ample vitamin D, I’ve developed seasonal depression. It kinda snuck up on me, at first!

My Warning Signs: (First, as always, let me preface this by saying that I am not a licensed medical professional. But seasonal depression can typically be self-diagnosed)

  • Sleepin’ In – The first thing I noticed was extreme difficulty getting up in the morning, even with ample hours of sleep. As somebody who is typically a morning person, this was very strange.
  • Fatigue – I also found that by 7 p.m., when I got home from work, I felt ready for bed. I had no appetite. But the fatigue wasn’t just evening sleepiness, I felt weak at the gym and had to dig deeper for the motivation to drag myself out on a run.
  • Netflix + Isolate – In those dark months, the introvert in me took the reigns. Making plans felt both exhausting and overwhelming. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to see friends or be social, but I wasn’t up for making any effort.
  • The Bear – An ex boyfriend once pointed out to me that (and writing it here makes it sound so much worse than how he meant it) I’m like a bear in the winter. I put on just a bit of weight and I am much more anxious and moody.

I’d say the bear comes out as a result of all of the other factors. My schedule is uprooted, I don’t feel good, I feel isolated, I’m tired and life seems to be just about work and sleep. Boring! So it is no surprise that I realized I was suffering from seasonal depression. For others, some of the warning signs may be different, even more severe in some cases. But there is hope!

What Worked For Me:

  • Work Hard, Feel Good – It may be harder to motivate, and you may need to decrease mileage and weight, but keep pushing yourself to get out there and workout. Or perhaps give yoga a try. When you exercise, your body releases endorphins, which trigger positive feelings. It will also help you keep a routine.
  • Now Talk it Out – Even if you feel the need to isolate, don’t push people away. It has helped me so much to be able to talk to friends and know that most of them suffer from seasonal depression as well. Sometimes my girlfriends and I will turn to the same channel, drink wine from the comfort of our own home and text back and forth. Depending on how severe your symptoms are, you may also want to participate in some kind of talk therapy. This can help steer your negative thoughts back toward the light.
  • Soak Up The Sun – When the sun does peek through, try to meet it halfway. Take a five-minute break during the workday to go outside and soak up some vitamin D. Sun in the weekend forecast? Plan an outdoor activity like hiking or running, even if it’s cold.
  • Back to the Basics – As is the case with basically every ailment in life, healthy eating habits and plenty of water will never do anything but make you feel better. Many people experience a decreased appetite and feel less thirsty during the colder months, but keep doing what you do all year.

Good news, folks! Less than three months until spring. Until then, feed and exercise that bear!
loveB

 

 

Twenty Seventeen

There is something so lovely about New Years. It’s that idea that we get a refresh button every 365 days. But how do you use it?

The Trouble with the “R” Word:

For those of you who know me, or who’ve been following along on my blog since last year, you know that I NEVER make “resolutions.” I realize it’s all in my head, but there is something about a resolution that feels daunting and almost as if it’s meant to expire. I am not sure I’ve ever met somebody who has stuck with theirs for an entire year.

Gooooooaaaaalllllllssss:

Instead of resolutions, I make goals. They aren’t goals for the year, they’re personal habits that I intend to work towards for the rest of my life. Much more broad than a resolution, and  his year’s goals are very focused on relationships.

READ: What I accomplished in 2016

The Ones That Matter:

I found out the hard way in 2016 just how much we need our friends and family. You may be the strongest, most brave warrior of them all, but trust me, you too can fall down. I intend to work much harder at staying in touch with friends + fam who live far away. And for those friends in the DC area, let’s hang out more. Love you all!

My Best Friend is a Pit Bull:

Almost 11 years ago, I adopted a pit bull pup. She has been through many breakups and cross-country moves with me. She is JUST beginning to slow down a bit, and I’m extremely aware that despite my begging, she won’t live forever. I have regrets about times when I could have taken her on a hike, but chose to sleep in. Or when she sat and wagged her tail, but instead of playing, I scrolled through my Instagram feed. When I adopted her, I promised she would be my number one, and I need to work harder at being a dog mom.

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Relationships with those around you are only as healthy as the relationship you have with yourself. I am in sole control over my happiness, my sadness and my health. So while I work on my friendships, I will also place focus on bettering myself each and every day.

I’m ready for you, 2017. Let’s kick ass.

loveB

 

 

 

#HikeVA

Hey D.C.-area friends! Who has some free time this week + needs to burn off some Christmas cookies? Me! Me! Me! Here’s a quick guide to some of my favorite hikes around the District.

Not Much Time?:

  • Theodore Roosevelt Island – It’s not so much of a hike as it is a great trail run (or walk). It’s about a 1.3 mile loop and has a lot of shade for those hot summer months. The parking lot for the island is located off of George Washington Parkway, but you can run there via the Mount Vernon Trail or the Potomac Heritage Trail.
  • Turkey Run – Also located off of GW Parkway, this secret spot is never crowded and is just about a 5-minute drive from D.C.. There are multiple routes, including about a 4 mile loop that I love. Most of the trail runs parallel to the Potomac, so it’s a great place to bring your four-legged friend for a quick swim.

Don’t Mind Crowds?

  • Scott’s Run – This is probably my favorite hike in the immediate D.C. area, although it’s generally crowded on weekends. There are multiple trails, so you can make your hike anywhere from 3 miles to 6 or 7 miles. It has steep grades to work those glutes and also has a few picturesque views of the Potomac.
  • Seneca Falls – I don’t even know if this is the name of this hike. It’s located out in Great Falls just a few miles off of Rt. 7. It isn’t always crowded, but you sometimes get horse traffic out that way. The trail is wide, and includes wooded areas and more open fields, as well as long stretches along the river. If you do the loop, it’s just about 3 miles.
  • Difficult Run – This one is very short, and mostly flat. It’s about a mile out and a mile back. But it runs along Difficult Run, which is a pretty beautiful area with a few small falls. There are places to stop for a quick dip during those hot summer months. (Side note: Back in high school, we used to go rock jumping here. Apparently we had a death wish.)

Want to Get Outta Town?

  • White Oak Canyon – I’ve only been here once, but it was awesome. The trail is fairly steep, so it feels like a great workout. Toward the top is an incredible natural rock slide. WARNING: The water is FREEEEEEEZING.
  • Old Rag – Surely I am not the first to tell you about this one. I’m admittedly a bit of a hiking snob because I’ve been lucky enough to live most of my life in Colorado where hiking can sometimes mean mountain climbing. Old Rag is the most like a Colorado hike. It has a nearly 3,000 foot vertical climb and features a rock scramble at the top. The views are to die for and it’s well worth the 2-hour drive from D.C.. WARNING: No dogs allowed on Old Rag. The terrain is too tough.
  • Falling Springs Falls – This one is not a true hike, but has a lot of wooded trails for exploring AND two fun rope swings! Falling Springs Falls is home to the tallest waterfall in Virginia. There are campsites nearby as well! TIP: Stand under the waterfall for a VERY loud and incredible natural massage.

What are some of your favorite hikes?

loveB

Set Your Intentions

Do you yoga?
Back in my mid-twenties, when adulting seemed to hit me in the face like a baseball bat every single day, a friend introduced me to CorePower Yoga in Boulder, Colorado. I made every excuse in the book not to give it a try, but when I finally caved…EVERYTHING changed.

Much to my surprise I fell in love. It activated my muscles in a completely new way that left me feeling totally detoxed. But best of all, it magically relieved stressors in my life.

3 Tips for Getting the Most Out of Your Practice

  • Set Your Intentions – Go into class with a goal, and focus on that goal the entire time. It may be to get a good workout, or to let go of burdensome thoughts
  • Take it Seriously – Even if you have trouble at first, continue to take each pose seriously and give it your best effort.
  • Take a Towel – You’re going to sweat, so take a towel with you! I invested in a YogiToes towel years ago, and it was well worth it. It prevents me from sliding around on my mat.

If you haven’t tried it, but are looking for something new to spruce up your daily workouts, I definitely recommend CorePower Yoga. It’s a difficult workout, a great stretch and if you allow it, an incredibly powerful mental health activity.

Give it a try, and tell me what you think in the comments below!
loveB

Why Mental Health is Ignored while Physical Attributes are Praised

I blame social media.

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Before the advent of social media, I imagine you only compared yourself with the people in your class at school, someone who lived down the street from you, or the girl your cousin brought to a family BBQ. Now, with tap of a screen, I can compare myself to a model in Australia or be flooded with pictures of celebs in tiny outfits. And, let’s be real, when I say, “compare myself with,” I don’t mean favorably.

Another social media fail? Believing the Instagram world is reflective of the real world. Everyone falls into this trap. I’ve spent nights out with crying girls, only to wake up the next morning to their post of the one picture they took before shit hit the fan, with a caption about how wonderful life is, how amazing their night was and how #blessed they are for having such wonderful friends; the same friends who caused the crying about how awful their life is on the previously horrible night.

Additional dimension: Putting it all out there, real or otherwise makes us more vulnerable than ever.

The result: Physical attributes are praised, picked apart, criticized, and flaunted. Mental attributes: ignored.

So, here I am to tell you that I battle deep, long bouts of depression. I’ve seen multiple therapists and have taken many different types of anti-anxiety meds, anti-depressants, sleep aides and the like.

I have spent, do spend and will continue to spend countless hours working on my physical condition, but have admittedly fallen behind on the mental health part of my journey.

This blog’s tagline is Be Strong. Be Confident. Be Active. Well, being all of that has physical, emotional and mental components.

Why am I telling you– some friends, some family, some complete strangers– all of this?

I HATE the stigma that is attached to mental illness. Let’s be clear what is considered a mental illness. (check the list: http://psychcentral.com/disorders/) There are mood disorders, substance abuse, eating disorders, sexual disorders, sleep disorders and more. So many different disorders that so many people we know have fallen victim to are illnesses. Just like you’d treat your physical body when it falls ill, so should you treat your mental and emotional state.

It’s not weakness; it’s illness.

So, here are some tips I’ve found work for me. This does not mean they will all work for you. But that is what makes us all special and we must begin to respect that.

– Find a therapy that works for you, whether it is health coach, a counselor, a psychologist, whatever or whoever, find someone to talk to who can help.

– I won the family lottery. My parents are smart, intellectually and emotionally. My two older brothers offer great advise; most of which is, “Do as I say, not as I did.” I have a kickass sister-in-law. My family keeps me sane, because I just compare myself to them… Just kidding.
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– Gotta give my mom a separate shout out. Yes, I have to preface our conversations by saying, “Hi, I need my mom,” or, “Hi, I need my therapist.” But, it works. She’s a smart and caring lady, and I am so lucky to have her as a mommy and her patients are lucky to have her as a therapist.401904_10200210725735412_1709594851_n

– I have wonderful, incredible, amazing humans I can cry to, yell at for no reason and really open up to. Some of them live clear across the country or back home in New York (thank goodness for FaceTime) and some of them live just minutes away, but they are my rocks, and I’m grateful for them everyday.

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– I exercise. I like running. I like spinning. I like lifting weights. It rids me of stress and fills me with confidence. Never mind the fact that it allows you to eat way more! Perfect segue…

– I eat. I don’t mean comfort food like fries and such, though I for sure eat all that shit, I mean I eat things with natural benefits for your health. I eat whole, real foods, I eat FAT (yup you heard me, pass the butter), I eat veggies and fruits and CARBS and DESSERT… you get it, I eat. It makes me happy.

– I write. I write in a journal almost nightly. Writing your shit down is seriously freeing.

Also, this journal lives next to my bed, and I’m now hiding it cause I have nosey friends— whom I love very much.

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– I turn off my phone. (I hear your gasps.) When I am feeling sad, nothing makes it worse than social media. Seeing everyone’s perfect insta-lives is just not what I need. So I don’t look.

– I trim the fat. If it’s not making me happy, I get rid of it. I just laughed at myself. I’m a 24-year-old girl. What I just typed obviously doesn’t apply to boys. Though, I consider myself a pretty strong woman, and I get better with trimming ALL types of fat everyday.

A good way to do this is to ask yourself whom you are doing something for. If the answer isn’t for yourself, well, you better be doing it for someone you love very much, cause there is no other excuse.

Another good question: does this make me happy? Is the answer no? Kind of? Sometimes? Drop it.

Also, FOMO is not real. Seriously, if going out every weekend doesn’t make you happy, stop doing it. You’ll live.

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I am NOT the expert on mental or emotional health, but I am the expert on me, as you are the expert on yourself. So, I hope you can take some of these tips and figure out what works for you!

I use these everyday to try to be the happiest version of myself. I do it for me and so I can give my best self to the people I love. They deserve that. And so do I.

Physical health is so, so, so important. Mental health is equally as important and rarely spoken about. Break the silence and lose the stigma. Not only could it change lives, it could save them.

A few articles/pieces worth the read:

Being 13: http://www.cnn.com/2015/10/05/opinions/underwood-faris-being-thirteen-lurking-social-media/index.html 

Split Image: The tragic story of Madison Holleran: http://espn.go.com/espn/feature/story/_/id/12833146/instagram-account-university-pennsylvania-runner-showed-only-part-story

This post from Elite Daily about ignoring our Mental Health: http://elitedaily.com/life/outer-health-inner-health/1207863/