My Breakfast, My Blessing

Each morning I wake up. Regardless of whether I slept well or slept poorly, no matter if my covers are scattered over the floor or in the same place as when I drifted off the night before, and whether or not I jump up at the sound of Here Comes the Sun or pretend that it doesn’t exist, I wake up with one goal in mind. Get myself some breakfast.

Without fail I joyfully eat breakfast each and every morning. I would not be alive if not for Cheerios and SKIM milk (anything other than skim just seems yucky), though I’ve been known to branch out in favor of fruit, toast, oatmeal, or eggs of the scrambled variety. Sometimes I prepare it simply in my dorm room, other times I’ll mozy on over to the diner, and occasionally I’ll have the kitchen in my home to work with.

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But it truly doesn’t matter where or what I eat, just as long as I can refuel myself in the morning and give myself the energy and positivity that is often the true prize from that box of Cheerios.

And if I have to wake up an extra 10 minutes earlier to ensure that I get my morning off to a happy and healthy start and I’m not a grump-a-lump for the whole day, why that’s no trouble at all.

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A Happy Healthy Challenge

Even at first glance, there are two things about me that are quite obvious.

  1. I enjoy eating
  2. I don’t particularly enjoy that I enjoy eating

My Pail List and mental wish list and list taped to my wall and to-do list have long held the goal of me losing weight. Throughout my childhood and for many years I was under the impression that I needed to lose weight to conform to a certain ideal, and while I still have the desire to lose some of my puppy fat (though my puppy may have grown into a fully sized dog by now), I’ve come to recognize that I should focus first and foremost on fitness and health.

But when my unnatural love of peanut butter coincides with cold months and a lack of willpower, I find myself suddenly starring down at the Papa John’s menu more often than at my Zumba DVDs.

30 day challengeMy other blog (yes, I’m openly cheating), Happiness Through Health, is going to see me attempt to create a 30 Day Challenge revolving around losing weight, logging exercise hours, and blogging out our feelings for fabulous gifts and prizes (well, two averagely exciting prizes for the winner and runner up).

If you’re interested in joining me as I find a way to still enjoy pumpkin pie and cranberry sauce and stuffing in the midst of this challenge, just head over to the original post and mention that you’re interested. Bonus points if you provide a guilt-free pumpkin pie recipe or talk me out of this idea and just let me turn myself orange from pumpkin consumption.

How to Assemble a Grill

Firstly, let me offer you my sincerest congratulations for getting to this point. After days of searching online and creating what is sure to be a permanent indentation in the couch cushions, after hours of checking shipping updates until you could recite your order confirmation number from memory, after countless time spent wiping drool off of your lower lip at the mere thought of this heavenly gift, it has arrived. The Weber 22 ½ -inch One Touch Silver Grill.

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Standing in the doorway of your home, looking at your bundle of joy sitting neatly wrapped up at the end of the driveway, it’s understandable that your eyes begin to tear up as if the grill could already be creating a smoky atmosphere from within the confines of its box. There is nothing separating you from untold happiness besides some feeble packaging and a bit of assembly.

And yet, there seems to be a purity that the white cardboard box seems to convey. A sense of delicacy that dictates this box be opened with the gentleness and caressing care of a lover. More than willing to oblige, it seems natural to run your hands over the One Touch description, shivering as you read of its porcelain enameled bowl and lid. However, your hands dare not touch the Weber logo; there are still things in this world too sacred to suffer such defilement from mere common folk.

But now, it is time. Gently picking up the sides of the box, you shuffle to the backyard as to allow yourself a more intimate setting when bringing life into this world. Instinctively, it seems quite obvious to grasp the top of the lid and slide your fingers underneath the binding tape (tape which you may want to save for scrapbooking purposes). The lid opens effortlessly. Styrofoam packaging next greets your sight, but its job is no longer needed; you are now the guardian of the grill. There seems to be more tape placed onto the actual grill itself, containing certain parts and pieces for later assembly. The secret to life, the universe, and everything is not as heavily defended as this grill, and rightfully so.

The directions are placed neatly on top. But this process is your birthright. No instructions necessary. The only decision you have to make is whether to trash or recycle this worthless pile of paper. And seeing as the recycling bin is much longer of a walk, and therefore would mean much longer time spent away from your Precious, it is perfectly acceptable to carelessly chuck that once great beauty of a tree into the garbage can.

I’m aware that by now you’re starting to worry about how much effort and energy you’ve sunk into this project. You’ve already missed your 11 o’clock showing of The Price is Right; what if they were playing Plinko today?! But you just need to keep going, because I know you can do this, I know you’ve been working your whole life to arrive at this point, I know that you can give it at the very least, 80%. I understand that your desire may be beginning to wane just a tad, but I can assure you that the Southern Smokehouse Burger, as shown in the complimentary Weber cookbook, is indeed as mouthwatering as it appears.

southern smokehouse burger

Enthusiasm sufficiently renewed? I thought so.

Already removed the nuts and bolts from the box? That’s 80% worth of effort if I’ve ever seen it! Now look how they’re all scattered throughout the grass; look how in tune with nature we are today. Finally seeing the light of sun, the promise of greasy goodness to come, and now we’ve taken a comfortable seat on the ground to search for those screws, our hard work is most definitely paying off and soon we’ll be enjoying the finer things in life.

But as you prod and poke at the metal frame, the aluminum vents and ash catcher, the glass reinforced nylon handles, you may begin to notice the distinct change of sunlight. Despite the copious amounts of free time in your possession, you now reach the cardio section of the program, as with renewed vigor, bolts are beaten in and screws and screwed into place before the light disappears (Note: It may be more effective, in the retelling of this harrowing feat if you were to search the Internet for some real construction phrases). Despite the time taken to puzzle over the involvement of extra bolts and question why any sane human being would design a black grill with black screws, you come to the conclusion that good things are worth waiting and working for. And the memory of that Southern Smokehouse Burger sure is a good thing. With hunger and a gluttonous desire to drive you forward, the grill will begin to resemble something that you could actually use while cooking.

Once the grill comes together in a manner not entirely unlike the diagram in the instructions booklet, with a faint marking on the side that is slightly resembles Jesus Christ, comes the most important part of assembly: the test phase. I know you’ve really worked up an appetite by moving that arm back and forth while screwing in some of those pieces. And the fact that you had to miss lunch is now probably starting to catch up with you. Believe me, I understand the effort required in sitting down in the lukewarm sunlight while debating which cut of beef you’d like to allow to first grace the fruits of your labor (not that a fruit would get within 10 yards of your Precious). You’ve really worked up quite an appetite, and it’s time that that appetite was rewarded with what your doctor has frequently and loving referred to as “heart attack inducing bundles of grease and fats yet unbeknownst to man”.

As you hurry back into the house to grab that classic hamburger patty (an old favorite deserving this ceremony of honor), be careful not to trip over that Groupon-bought elliptical that’s still lurking in its battered box in the hallway. You’ll really need to open that box on a day when you have enough free time to find that pair of scissors…

battered elliptical

From Bucket List to Daily Gift

One day I got it in my head that I would like to run an official race before I eventually and inevitably kicked the bucket. While I had always had a rocky roady relationship with running, I was unsure where this decision would lead me and was faced with the real possibility that my Pail List would contain an item that I may never cross off.

DSCN0843Yet, earlier this summer, I did indeed get to cross off “run an official race” after completing the Baltimore Women’s Classic 5K in Maryland. Despite twisting my ankle a bit I came out of the race with the feeling of glowing accomplishment and a decent time of a bit after 36 minutes.

And then I kept running.

And I compiled a workout playlist

And I bought nice shoes.

And I printed more training schedules.

And I felt good about myself.

And I learned the words to Mambo No. 5

And I kept running.

Just today I ran a 5K at the University of Maryland. My time hovered between 29:30 and 32:30 minutes. I ran the whole entire way. I smiled throughout the hills. I laughed at the twists and turns. I high-fived the volunteers. I had a beautiful time.

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I am so grateful for having comprised a pail list. Had I not had the courage to acknowledge what I wanted to get out of life, I would never have pushed myself as hard as I did, and I never would have discovered my love of running. Yes running, I can say it now! I love you! And it all started back when I began my first training plan and discovered my love of the treadmill with a well timed episode of Say Yes to the Dress and the rolling and gentle hills of my neighborhood and the springy track at school which makes me feel as graceful as a gazelle despite looking like an awkward antelope.

Though singing karaoke will probably not lead to me becoming a world famous singing sensation, I am quite satisfied knowing that I’ve chosen to explore such different and fulfilling areas of life with the activities/events/circumstances that preside on my Pail List.

For me, life isn’t always about having momentary bouts of fun, it’s about living each day pleasurably with a contentment that provides a sustainable happiness. That’s why I have my Pail List, and that’s why I’m grateful for my list leading me to more of life’s pleasurable moments.

1 Bucket List, 2 Shoes, 5Ks

bwc realI had been signed up for the Baltimore Women’s Classic 5K for the past couple of months. Ever since I began working on my health and saying yes to life, I’ve been looking for ways to appreciate myself, the community around me, and everything that is capable of being achieved. And this morning, I found all of those things and much more when I finally completed the race.

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Two months ago I was running consistently, focusing on obtaining a quality education, eating healthy foods with conviction, stretching every morning, avoiding TV time, planning for my career-oriented future, and taking care of my personal appearance.

Preparing for this race has provided me with a deep and profound appreciation for myself and my body.
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Showing up to the Inner Harbor today I looked out upon the 3,211 other female participants and was overwhelmed by the support and positivity exuding from these lovely and lively ladies who were all prepared to reach their goals and prove their worth. Attending this race has strengthened my sense of community.

I have failed. I have struggled. I have thrown in the towel, given up, stayed down, and vowed to never care about trying again. But I have also risen to the occasion, succeeded, pushed myself, and reached beyond my grasp only to find my fingertips brushing the stars.

Associating myself with this race has shown me that anything is possible.

I ran a 34 minute race. I came in 1,410th. I was 108th in my age division. And none of that matters.DSCN0852

What matters is that I crossed a life goal off of my bucket list and showed myself exactly what wonders this life is capable of holding.

Just Keep Running

A couple of weeks ago, I truly ran for the first time in my life.

beautiful running

Outdoors.

In the sunshine.

Music blurring into the background.

Feet hitting the pavement and sending chills through my body with every step.

Breathing in unison with the thoughts gusting through my open mind.

It was glorious and I was honest to goodness happy. Happy with myself. Happy with my results. Happy with my legs.

Then, the injuries came. It began with my knee, a tight feeling that made it uncomfortable to walk. Soon, the discomfort moved to my shin, creating a jarring pain every time I stepped down with my left foot. Next, my ankle took a turn, and with each bend I felt a tug on my foot that just didn’t belong.

I had to stop putting my feet to the pavement and start putting them up on the couch to recuperate. Unfortunately, weeks later and with a pair of new and unused running shoes, the jarring feeling in my left shin is still present and giving me reservations about getting back on track for my 5K running plan.

I don’t really know how to handle this situation, though I’m well aware that I should wait to get back into running until I’m completely healed. Yet, I like to think that even though I haven’t been constantly exercising, running is now one of those things that just calls to me, and I hope I answer enthusiastically sometime soon.sunshine run

Get Fit, Win Prizes? Sign Me Up!

I’ve been trying my hardest to take better care of my body this semester. I’ve eaten my fruits and veggies (but more fruits than veggies), sweated my butt off at the gym (literally, my butt looks smaller), and tried to move my body around when I can (my random spurts of dancing help here). But, there’s one tool that really helped me stay focused and on target while trying to shape up, and that’s the website, Fit Campus.

fit campusFit Campus allows you to log which exercises you complete while at school, and then they rewards you in all kinds of ways for committing to at least 2.5 hours of exercise each week. Last year a cruise was given away, just for going to the gym! But there are also all kinds of little prizes as well, and I got a Camelbak water bottle the last time the giveaway was running.

It’s always a struggle to drag myself to the gym, and while I usually succeed, there are some days where it seems darn near impossible to make that 20 minute walk, only to walk around some more. I love knowing that Fit Campus appreciates my effort. Also the whole fantastic prize giveaway doesn’t hurt in terms of my endearment towards them either.

Ran some laps for my 5K? Log those minutes! Met up with friends to look like a fool in Zumba class? Log those minutes! Fell over while trying to do a Yoga pose? Log those minutes and prepare an ice pack!