Don’t Talk to Strangers at the Gym

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In the spirit of Don’t Fart in Spin Class, this post is brought to you by an irritating personal experience at the gym this morning and regards gym etiquette. Let me set this up for you: I have a membership to the very nice, newly renovated fitness center on campus. I arrive the moment the doors open at 6:30 am so I can get my workout in before I start my day (also because I have to compete with the frat bros for my favorite squat rack, so there’s that too). This morning I was doing a HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) sequence to work on speed, power and agility. I was doing the second half of my workout, currently in the third and final round of:  Continue reading

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It’s past 11 pm. According to my calculations, I should be deep into REM sleep by now. All of my things are ready: my gym bag is packed, my breakfast and lunch are sitting side by side in the humming darkness of my refrigerator. My teeth are brushed. But here I am. Wide awake.

Sometimes things don’t go the way we want them to. I could fill this white page with the clichés: you make plans and the universe laughs at them. Or something like that. It’s been a long time since I’ve felt a true aching need to tap tap tap on my keyboard, illuminated by the glare of my computer screen in my dark bedroom and let the words flow out of my fingertips. A loooong time. I’ll tell you something: I used to write a lot. When I couldn’t sleep, I would sit propped up in bed, a spiral notebook and a ballpoint pen, writing until I finally fell asleep, hoping that I didn’t wake up with ink stains on my bed sheets. When the words built up behind my tongue and buzzed up and down my nerves trying to tumble out, I would commit them to paper. When it seemed nothing made sense, or my mind wouldn’t quiet itself, with unspoken phrases pressing on my temples, I had to liberate my thoughts and manifest them somewhere physical. Spew them out. So let’s do this.

While I was walking to retrieve my laptop out of my impeccably packed work bag, I was thinking of what to write to all of you. Part of me wanted to apologize for not creating new recipes frequently enough. Or providing my detailed workouts on a weekly basis to inspire your own workout/activity. Instead I want to climb right outside of the box and share a (non-vegan, non-active) slice of my real life: change.

Let’s recap. At the end of 2015, I quit my job, left my life behind in Boston, moved to a new state and started graduate school. The first and most immediate adjustment was not being in a real job anymore. No one here cares if you wear a t-shirt that last came out of your dresser in 2006, or roll into class without showering after taking an 8 am spin class. It is so unnatural to not be Ms. Bostonian Senior Scientist anymore – my hands were constantly fiddling, looking for some work to do. The first few days I was here I felt like I was playing hooky from work and would eventually get caught, my manager calling me into his office. Just typing it out – that I’m a student – continues to be so weird and so foreign to me. I still consider myself a working professional, and have to fight the ingrained need to dress in business casual in order to attend Dairy Foods Processing Lab just to learn how to make yogurt. The second, and much deeper adjustment was the quiet. No, I’m not just talking about the fact that I packed up all my sh*t and moved to the woods (I did, in fact). I’m talking about the time available to reflect. My days were always full in Boston, a constant, reassuring cycle – I had my friends, my job, my home – that I took great pleasure in. Leaving all of that was a jolt, a break in a comfortable routine, making room for something new to arise in its place. Here there is time, quiet, and space to reflect on where I am heading and the present that I am creating for myself. My main man Alan Watts really says it best. It has been ages since I’ve read any of his work, until I came across this quote:

The meaning of life is just to be alive. It is so plain and so obvious and so simple. And yet, everyone rushes around in a great panic as if it were necessary to achieve something beyond themselves. 

Raises hand* Guilty as charged. For the past two and a half months, I was running around in a panic feeling the need to do, I forgot to just let go and immerse myself in the change. Sometimes we forget that. All of the things swirling around us – over analyzing, over thinking each and every one of them – cloud what is really in front of us (it’s simply us). We are only a tiny speck in the universe. We forget to embrace it, to go out and simply enjoy this beautiful experience.

Life is not so serious. If there is any way to do it right, it is simply to live life joyfully, and not worry so much about the other stuff. Create a present that you love.

 

With booyah zen warmth,

L

In it to win it.

I had a very inspiring conversation with my trainer/bff/soul sister Sarah about moving far from Boston, aka my home for the last 6.5 years, and starting up my workout/athletic creative outlet/training in a whole new place. If you didn’t catch my previous post Well, hello there then you should check it out – I open up a big Can of Feels and tell you all about how I was feeling uninspired, frustrated and bummed out about starting a whole new workout routine after having such an amazing, supportive, kick ass group of women (and a few men) to get my Booyah on with. Sarah drew attention to the fact that I was lacking a few key components of a successful workout routine:

  1. Now that I had moved, I was on my own! I have spent the past few years in Boston doing small group training, participating in 5 am workout classes, and coming up with my own workouts with the same solid, core group of women. We inspired and encouraged each other through tough days/moments (whether real life or physical challenges). We were approximately at the same fitness level, were familiar with each other’s limits and could push each other within a comfortable and known range. All of a sudden, my support network was only via group text (super funny group texts, but group texts just the same). I must say that is it so understated how important it is to have a supportive network around to keep you motivated and encourage you through tough times – it is indispensable. Luckily for me, there are other graduate students who share the common interest to be active and fit, as well as running groups in the area, so I am able to take some time to find my tribe of fitness freaks.
  2. My routine was disrupted. It’s hard to get your gears moving when they have ground to a halt. When I finally got back to the gym, I felt there was no balance: I either pushed myself so hard that I walked like an arthritic robot the next day, or I left the gym barely sweating. I couldn’t edit my workouts and put them together in a way that had flow and made sense. I needed some organization in my life. Cue Sarah’s tip: “You already know what to do.” She was right: the fitness library contained in my brain is immense, I have a huge pool of things to choose from. She suggested to check out the Spartan WOD for some inspiration. They have a ton of workouts to chose from, some are super intense and beyond my capabilities, but just reading through them gives you some ideas of how to put a workout together. You’re able to edit and adapt their plans for your fitness level. Cha-ching.
  3. I needed some motivation. Filling in a box in my training journal only motivates me so much; I needed to tap back into the why behind my workouts. It took me some time and energy to push through a few blah workouts to get that reward center in my brain to light up again and remember that, hey…these workouts are really fulfilling! A good run or a solid workout makes me sparkle from the inside out (da daaaa!). It makes me remember why I like feeling strong, capable and empowered – the whole world domination/I’m the queen of the universe feeling that comes after accomplishing something that seems impossible (lifting heavy things, running really far, doing that one last burpee). Once you’re in a routine, working out regularly is a piece of cake – it’s pushing past the mental hurdle it takes to jump from zero activity to regular routine that is the real challenge in staying active. It takes an immense amount of mental toughness and grit to force yourself to throw off the duvet at 5 am and put on your sneakers to workout, before 99% of the people you know are awake. You’ve really gotta dig deep and tap into that why. And you really have to believe it, or it just won’t stick.

As much as it would be great for everything to automatically fall into place when you pick up and move your life a thousand(s) miles from where you were before, it’s just not realistic. The key to successful change and adapting to a new place is knowing that you will find your place. It’s easy to place a lot of pressure on yourself and tell yourself you will have everything figured out immediately (guilty as charged), but it’s okay to take your time to get your jazz together.

So take my dad’s advice: be your own best friend. Take some time to get used to your new surroundings, and if you keep chipping away at it, it will eventually fall into place.

With warmth,

L

Practicing Self-Compassion

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One very important aspect of training and moving towards a goal, whether personal, work-related or athletic, is self-compassion. Instead of beating yourself up over mistakes, set backs or bad days, cheering yourself on is a key feature of achieving your goals. My dad once told me, “Be your own best friend.” This tidbit of fatherly advice has stuck with me over the years and helped me pull myself out of a whirlpool of self-doubt on my darkest days. Responding to your inner critic as you would speak to a best friend is a great way of defeating the downward spiral. Being able to forgive yourself for mistakes and cheering yourself on as you work toward your goals is so important in all aspects of life.

This morning, on my normal hump day run, it seemed as if nothing was going right. My GPS watch couldn’t find the satellites, I misjudged the temperature and wore the wrong running apparel, and my legs were absolutely done-zo from box-jumping two days in a row. My mood on the run was flirting with miserable. I had to stop and walk, something I rarely do, and even repeat my mantras out loud (also something I rarely do, as I’d like to be seen as mostly sane when I’m out in public) to get through the miles. I finished, with my slowest pace on record and a frustrated pit in my stomach. Instead of feeling exuberant and refreshed from my run, I felt exhausted and beat down. When I went to make a post-run smoothie, a “treat” and departure from my usual overnight oats for breakfast, my NutriBullet jammed and I had to exert all the leftover strength in my muscles to pull apart the mixing cup from the motor. I was about ready to lose my sh*t as I sat on the kitchen floor covered in Purple Power Smoothie.

I took a deep breath and I focused on the fact that I finished. I didn’t give up and walk home halfway through my run, I finished the five mile loop that I normally do. It was slow, and it was hard, but I did it. I didn’t quit.

I feel when things don’t go necessarily how you want them to, it’s easy to get on the Debbie Downer train and beat yourself up. But the fact of the matter is, each step you take – regardless of the perceived “good” or “bad” outcome, is a step toward your goal. Each attempt is a learning experience. Today was a good practice on not jumping on the self-bashing train and throwing the baby out with the  bathwater. Hey – even if they weren’t perfect, I still propelled my legs forward for five miles – and that is still an accomplishment.

So in the spirit of self-compassion, be nice to yourself today. You’re the only you that you’ve got. And hey, I’m human. I may not be jumping for joy after that less than great run, but at least I can willingly employ self compassion to mentally steer myself away from being a total Negative Nancy today, based solely on my running performance.

Happy Hump Day! Spread some peace, love and booyah.

With warmth,

L

Bye, Poop

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I am just as guilty as everyone else. I hold onto things, I let them bother me, I let them eat away at me, and they affect my mood, my performance, even my appetite. Even on the other side of this computer screen, I’m a living, breathing human, just like you. But why do we do this to ourselves? In theory, it’s so simple – to just “let it gooooo” (in the words of Frozen). Get rid of the things (negative thoughts, toxic people, hurtful comments, bad days, the person who gave you the finger this morning on I-95) that are dragging you down, don’t give time to those things that don’t make you feel stellar about yourself. Life seems too short to waste even a minute of your time not cultivating something beautiful. Yes, it sounds like something that should be written in flowery cursive in motivational quote on Instagram, but seriously – we should all be living our lives beautifully. Not hanging onto the things that eat away at us. It’s not often that we’re given a chance to redo anything, so if you’re offered the opportunity to improve your moment even in the slightest, it’s worth taking a chance. March forward with determination, knowing that you did your best to eliminate that little piece of (…it’s so tempting to say “poop” here..) negativity from your life.  We could all learn a lesson from my 16 month old nephew E: say “bye, poop!” to those things that are holding you back from living your best life. Think of how much lighter we would all feel if we let go.

I don’t usually go all “Dear Diary” on Bubbles and Booyah, but I felt it was an important thought to share. It’s sometimes easy to accept things as they are (even if they suck) instead of consciously choosing something better. It’s not always instant, sometimes it takes time, but it’s always totally worth it in the end.

So, bye poop.

Hope you all have fantastic Mondays and here’s to the start of a great week!!! 🙂 🙂 🙂

With warmth,

L

8 Things I Learned From My Older Sister

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Cheers to you, J!

Today is my older sister’s birthday, and I realize that as you grow older alongside your siblings, you really start to appreciate the great life lessons that you learn from them. My sister and I got along really well growing up, and if I ever decided to have a Ragin’ Red moment, she could pin both my arms to my sides so fast I couldn’t get a strike in before I was totally neutralized. She would always play with me, eternally inclusive and patient, and was super protective of me growing up. If anyone was mean to me or picked on me, they had to go through her first (and since she was/still is super tall and intimidating, it was not recommended). She’s seen me at my best, my worst and every color of the spectrum in between. My favorite tag line to describe her to others is that, “She’s friendlier, more outgoing and even bossier than me,” which usually draws wide eyes and looks of disbelief on my friend’s faces. If I say that I’m so friendly that I could make friends with a plant, she’s so outgoing she could make friends with a forest and then convince them all to uproot and move 4 miles to the south because the sun exposure is better there. In any crisis, or even if we are just trying to figure out what terminal our gate has moved to in the Jacksonville airport, she will always take charge and everyone will naturally concede to her leadership (seriously though, I watched as our entire flight followed her around like she was the official mouthpiece of US Airways and held the magic key to get us all home). In order to toast to her greatness as a sister/wife/mom/professor/PhD/person in general, I want to share a few life lessons I’ve learned along the way from my incredible sister J:

1. Don’t let people treat you like sh*t.

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Whether it’s a boyfriend/girlfriend/significant other or your boss, don’t let people walk all over you. Stand up for yourself, because people will respect you more. And plus, you’re fabulous and you deserve to be treated as such.

2. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.

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There will always be times when we need others to help us in life. The key is to not be afraid to speak up and ask when you need it.

3. Stay strong through life’s ups and downs.

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You will make it through (insert life challenge here) and out to the other side, because you are tough as nails. Your sis knows because we are made from some hearty stuff. Those obstacles ain’t got nothin’ on ya.

4. Teamwork is key.

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Whether we are raking leaves in the yard or ganging up on Mom and Dad for being cray, you’ve got to stick together.

5. Always be your fabulous self.

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Be yourself. Life is too short. Laugh like a snake with the “Sss-sss-sss” sound, eat an unsalad with only 3% lettuce, wear your Birkenstocks with pride. You do you. Because you’re the coolest.

6. Sharing means caring.

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Even if it’s your favorite Lulu pullover. (Okay, sooo…I couldn’t find a sharing GIF I liked so instead I just threw in some Bridesmaids).

7. How to be a good role model.

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Don’t be an asshole, and listen to others.

8. Cherish your sisterhood.

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She’s the only one who knows ALLLLLL of the good family inside jokes, plus why it was so funny when Miss Stacey almost ate that pudding in Anne of Green Gables, all the words to the “No No” song, and how to walk like an Egyptian better than anyone else.

And when in doubt, there’s always this:

I love you, J!! Happy Birthday!!! ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤

With warmth,

L

Loss

All,

My grandfather passed away. It’s still strange to write that out. I am currently in my hometown celebrating his life and saying goodbye with my family (the Italian way: with wine, great stories and pasta).

The regularly scheduled Bubbles and Booyah program will return at the end of the week. Stay tuned.

Sending you all love,

L

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Sometimes you just have to run it out through six inches of snow.