What’s in a pound…or two?

The first day of June officially brings in the ambush of “bikini body ready” headlines and promises of achieving that “flat stomach” by adhering to “so-and-so exercise routine” for only 2 weeks!

I’m going to stop you right there. Abiding by a strict diet and exercise routine can be, well, stifling. Especially in the summer months filled with barbecues and travel. What’s really in a pound (or two)?

A pound can represent attending your dear friend’s graduation party where you spent quality time with your friends while sipping on a beer (or two).

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A pound can mean you traveled and your usual exercise routine went out the window. Instead, you walked (in leu of boot camp and spin class) and allowed yourself to try new foods and delicacies you rarely eat back home.

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A pound may mean you took the night off and watched some good ol’ reality TV with friends (and wine and cheese) while catching up and laughing at the ridiculousness of the show (yes, I’m talking about you, Bachelor franchise).

A pound could mean your mind went worry-free for an event and you chose foods you truly wanted to eat and you enjoyed every last bite.

An additional pound, or two, won’t kill you. It won’t be the end all to the hard work you put into living a healthy lifestyle. In fact, most people’s weight fluctuates between 1-3 pounds, on occasion. An afternoon of indulging won’t cause you to gain 10 pounds. True, you may gain a little bit of weight and feel bloated, but the effects from this one indulgence won’t last.

Acknowledge the indulgence and move on. If a pound (or two) means bonding with people, laughing so hard your stomach hurts, and cultivating memories you will cherish for many years, then it’s worth it. Life is about experiences and cherishing time spent with your loved ones. There’ll be many opportunities to turn down cake, but less graduation parties to attend and chances to travel abroad.

Seize these moments to create memories. You’ll have the chance to move a little more and eat a bit more vegetables later.

2016 – The Year of Growth

There are tons of posts, memes, statuses, tweets, etc. floating around on social media about how 2016 was the worst. There’s even a song about it. True, 2016 certainly had its low points, just like every year. I definitely experienced quite a few! But, 2016 needed to happen. 2016 was the year of growth.

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Reflections on 2016

2016 was the year I became a researcher. I designed and led my own pilot study and a whole lot went “wrong.” At least that’s how I felt in the moment. I struggled with having parts of my pilot study not go exactly how I meticulously planned. But, that’s the nature of research. You can plan the perfect study, but the secret is that there’s no such thing as a “perfect study.” Research is about executing a well-designed study, and that also includes having multiple back-up plans. I learned how to re-group and ask other questions to guide my pilot study. I formulated new hypotheses and took a slightly different direction. Nothing was ruined. In fact, this made my pilot study stronger because I thought more about what I was doing, decided precisely how my hypotheses were to be measured, and grounded my study design in theory. This experience helped me design an even better full-fledged study that was built off of the pilot study.

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2016 was the year I took a risk. I took on a big leadership position and I was so excited. But, at first I had much to learn about being a leader. My passion came off as overbearing and my meticulousness came off as constraining. However, I was willing to learn, to change, to become better. I researched leadership styles, took workshops, read books, talked to others in leadership positions, and, most importantly, practiced. Slowly, I started seeing improvements. I’m still working at this position every day, but I feel this is the way it’s supposed to be. To be an effective leader you need to constantly work to improve.

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2016 was the year I gained confidence. I started believing in myself and what I have to offer to the nutrition world. I learned how to speak more confidently and act more like a professional. Gone are the days of wearing gym clothes to the office. Dressing more professionally really does make you feel more confident :). I passed my Qualifying Exam in November and being more confident was likely a contributing factor (along with a whole lot of hard work, research, studying, coffee, and practicing).

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2016 was the year I finally became a morning person. I used to dread getting up before 8:00am. However, going through graduate school, I realized I needed to get up earlier in order to accomplish more and have time for a sit-down breakfast (my favorite part of the day!). I started small, setting my clock back to 7:30am, then to 7:00am, and finally to 6:30am. This isn’t super early, especially compared to a lot of other people, but to me this is a whole lot earlier than where I started. Some days I even set it back to 5:40am to catch a sunrise spin class :). Starting my day earlier gives me more time to ease into the day and I feel less rushed. Less rushed = less frazzled and being less frazzled is better for everyone.

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This past year, I grew a lot as a researcher, leader, professional, student, and a friend. I’m excited to see what 2017 brings. This year, I’m making SOULutions (not resolutions), thank you Robyn.

This year, I will be…

present. I will take time to truly relish moments, people, places. When I’m with others, I will be in the conversation and not thinking about my to-do list.

organized. On that note, segmenting my time into chunks throughout the week will better help me stay on task and increase efficiency. I’ll have discrete times to think about my to-do list. Segmentation is the best.

supportive. I want to use this platform to share evidence-based nutrition advice and help you achieve your goals. I want to show you how to incorporate aspects of healthy living into your life.

I hope you have a Happy New Year and cheers to 2017!

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What are your SOULutions for 2017?

How are you ringing in the New Year?

 

 

Mental Roadblocks

Today I took a fitness class that combined strength-building exercises with cardio-based intervals. In the past, I’ve usually stuck to the 5lb weights for any free-weight exercises, but something compelled me to select a set of 5lb dumbbells and a set of the 8lb ones. A mere 3lb difference, but to me that had been enough to prevent me from even trying before.

I told myself to start with the 8lb weights and if it was too difficult I could drop down to the 5lb ones. I gave myself a way out. 

As the music started, I picked up the 8lb weights for the first exercise circuit and began the motions. Turns out I could physically do it. The more movements I did, the stronger I felt. I began to tell myself I could actually do it and hushed that voice in my head that had told me previously that I wasn’t strong enough.

I ended up using the 8lb weights throughout the entire class. I couldn’t believe it. My mind had convinced me I would drop down to the 5lb weights within the first circuit, but once I began to trust myself I didn’t need that safety net.

Mental roadblocks will always appear, whether they’re noticeable or not. Overcoming them is a whole lot easier said than done. Today that roadblock was an extra 3lbs, that somehow seemed impossible.

One way of getting through a mental roadblock is no longer telling yourself you “can’t” and instead pull a Nike and “just do it” and allow your thoughts to catch up with you later. By the time the voice in your head starts talking again, you’ve already been doing what you previously told yourself you couldn’t do, so that voice has no choice but to encourage you to keep at it.

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Navigating the giant corn maze was a true test of defeating mental roadblock

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How do you face mental roadblocks?

Impostor Syndrome

There have been times where I looked around and couldn’t believe how I got here. Somebody pinch me….amiright?

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Impostor syndrome is most certainly a “thing.” Everyone in our graduate group is fantastic and brilliant, sometimes it’s hard to not compare.

Our new cohort of students just started their first year. During orientation, we had a panel of us “seasoned” students share our experiences and answer questions for the first-years. It didn’t take us long to get on the topic of impostor syndrome. I was surprised to learn that these people I admire felt like an impostor at times too. Although it felt oddly comforting to not be alone in this feeling, we shouldn’t be wasting energy feeling this way.

Someone out there saw something in us and we deserve to be here. We’re not perfect, and will never be. Perfection is a fantasy. But, we’re here to learn and strive to do the best we can. We will never know everything, but we will know enough to make informed decisions and use our knowledge to design studies to answer our questions.

During our Graduate Group in Nutritional Biology Research Symposium a few weeks ago, I placed first in the poster competition. I couldn’t believe it.

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Sometimes the feeling of being “not good enough” creeps in. It’s time to let that feeling go. I’m learning and will always be learning. Learning new material, learning from my mistakes, learning from others, learning from myself.

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Have you ever felt like an impostor? How did you overcome impostor syndrome? 

A New Beginning.

This past week marked the academic end of my third year as a doctoral student and official transition into my fourth year.

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Truthfully, this past year was hard. It was hard on myself, physically and mentally, which led to it being hard on others in my life. I certainly wasn’t the most enjoyable version of myself during this stressful period. It’s something I must work on.

Being a PhD student is filled with many ups and downs. As my professor says, “if it was easy, anyone would do it.” Currently, I am on a much-needed vacation  and already feel like so much weight has been lifted. I wasn’t on my computer for an entire day and it was blissful.

I plan for this vacation period to serve as a reflection period for how to move forward in more productive ways rather than letting the stress turn me into an ugly stress monster. It’s stressful stressing about stress….am I right? 😉 It’s just not worth it.

Although this past year had some low points with research not going the way I anticipated, it was filled with many learning opportunities. I certainly learned many lessons in conducting research and will take them with me moving forward into the next project. Sometimes I feel stuck, but I need to remind myself I am growing and I don’t know everything and never will. Sometimes things are just out of our control and that’s okay. We just need to re-group and move on to get out of the mud. I am thankful for the people around me that taught me this.

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I want to reignite my passion for nutrition, starting with this space. I aim to have a consistent posting schedule filled with summaries and commentaries on current nutrition research topics. I want to share more quick and easy healthy meals/snacks to show healthy living is possible, even in the throes of graduate school. I also want to be honest and let others know you are not alone when you feel overwhelmed in school and work. These periods pass. It’s only when they’re gone that we’re able to appreciate them for what they’ve taught us and how strong we really are to make it through. I hope you stick around for this journey.

The Work Will Always Be There.

Truth.

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The past few weeks have been especially draining. Every minute seemed to be assigned to complete some sort of task. The work just never ended. I spent the entire past weekend in the lab and only left to go home to sleep. But the sleep was restless because the dreams were about the work. I hit my breaking point.

The work will always be there. There will always be something to do and if there isn’t, you will find something to work on. We are driven to perform and accomplish. But we need balance. We need nights off to watch reality TV with good friends and hot cups of chamomile tea. We need that time to prepare healthy food to nourish our bodies. We need time away from the screen and a chance to explore nature. We need to get lost in a good book. We need to make time to live.

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The work will always be there, but the world is rapidly changing. We need to make the time to see the places, the people, the things. Sometimes I need a reminder, and maybe sometimes you do too.

Becoming a Graduate Student

Graduate school is funny. A week ago I wrote a post about how I was finally starting to feel like I had a handle on things as a graduate student. Good thing I didn’t publish it yet because that feeling didn’t last long. Some days I feel like I have everything together and other days I struggle.

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Just a photo of me and my good friend, graduate school ;).

This is probably why we surround ourselves with mentors and others who have been through this crazy period called “graduate school.” They’re there to help support us through this awkward phase and transition us to become researchers, professionals, and someday, experts. They remind us that being a graduate student isn’t forever. They’re the inspiration that one day we will finish and move on to other paths.

These wonderful people help us forge our own paths. Sometimes it gets sticky, but the view is worth the effort.
These wonderful people help us forge our own paths. Sometimes it gets sticky, but the view is worth the effort.

Although I have days where I feel like things are crumbling, I also have those days where I’m on top of the world. They say that’s normal. As I enter my 3rd year of graduate school, I notice how different I feel from when I first entered. I’ve grown in the past couple years and accumulated experiences that will help me move forward. I just have to keep trucking along and sometimes this means taking it one day at a time. They say that’s normal too.

Some of my lovely cohort. Allison was there too. These people keep me going :).
Some of my lovely cohort. Allison was there too. These people are amazing.