Sunday, July 25, 2010

Plans? What Plans?

Today I got to thinking about schedules, and how they are such a large part of our lives. As Americans, we take schedules so darn seriously. Work schedules, eating schedules, gym schedules, task schedules; the list goes on and on. And while normally schedules and being on time are thought of as responsible, good qualities, are they really all that healthy for us? Of course, it's good to have some sort of "plan", but is it really necessary to fill in every little detail in our day to day lives?

I used to be one of those obsessive food schedulers. You know the type...My diet was like clockwork. 8 a.m. breakfast, two hours later a healthy snack, lunch at noon, snack two hours later, dinner at 6 p.m. Dessert if hungry. It was insane, and if I didn't follow my "schedule," I'd drive myself absolutely crazy. Not to mention that most days I had exactly what I was going to eat pre-planned out. Thank God I no longer stress about that. Sure, I eat healthy but if I'm starving before lunchtime, I'll eat a healthy, filling snack like some all natural peanut butter with an apple. If I have zero appetite around 3 p.m., I'll wait for dinner to enjoy a nice meal. It's so much more peaceful (and sane) when you're not thinking so darn much.

I have another friend who used to be obsessed with going to the certain times...for certain amounts of time. And she had to follow her plan to a tee or else she'd be upset with herself. Cardio and weights one day, yoga that day. Running 8 miles another day. Now, three or four years later, this same friend does exactly the opposite. I talked to her recently about her workout regimen, and she told me she does what her body feels like doing. She runs and takes walks for mental clarity, and does boot camp for energy and a good time, but other than that she doesn't plan anything out. If she feels like staying in to veg on the couch instead of going for a run, so be it. If she'd rather go out for Happy Hour than hit the gym, FINE. But the most important thing is that with this mindset, she's more happy, healthy and beautiful than ever!

Other people I know live their whole lives on a schedule, as if they are always going to be late for something. Sometimes I wonder if these types of people ever take a second to just take a deep breath and relax. Life can't be fun when you're always thinking and living in the future. We should be able to enjoy the presence, live for the moment and take in all the little things that come along the way. Be a few minutes late on purpose. Don't wake up in the morning RIGHT AWAY; instead lay their for a while, toss around and think about how great of a day it's going to be. Linger a little longer with your breakfast, or walk a little slower to work, taking in all the beauty that's around you. Take a deep breath. Do some yoga. Just be...

Now that I'm done with that mini rampage, I challenge you all to throw your schedule to the wind for a day, and just try and enjoy each moment as is. Turn off your cell phone if you need to or don't look at the clock for a few hours and just go along with the day how YOU want to, not how your schedule wants you to. We all need to take a little stress off our plates each day and dig into a clean (unplanned) slate...

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Pack it Up: Healthy Workweek Lunches!

The other day at work, my CEO ordered the entire team lunch from a local deli. A few of us chose from the "green" section of the menu, including myself. When a section claims it's "green," usually people assume the food is lighter, healthier, and well, a good option for lunch. But I usually keep my guard up, as I'm always a bit weary with these claims. After all, many people go to Panera when they want to eat light, not realizing that a good portion of their dishes are well over 1,000 calories-eek. Anyway, I ordered a field green salad with chicken salad on top. The menu said chicken with walnuts, onions and "just a touch of mayo," so I thought: decent choice. Luckily, I felt OK after my not-too-healthy "healthy" meal, especially because I only drizzled on a little bit of light Balsamic. However, one of my coworkers was not as pleased. He ordered an Egg White Omelet with veggies and cantaloupe instead of home fries. You'd think something that comes with CANTALOUPE instead of home fries would be the cream of the crop in the world of healthy. However, that was not the case. He said it tasted greasy...probably because it was loaded with oils and fatty butters.

The lesson learned from all of this? BRING YOUR OWN LUNCH. COOK YOUR OWN MEALS. Not only will your hips and stomach be thanking you, but your energy levels will soar and you'll save loads of money! Honestly, it's seriously the best thing you can do for your health, your mind and your budget all in 1! I know so many friends and family members who buy lunch nearly every day of the workweek, including my dad. And my dad's a pretty smart, rational healthy guy but he does it for the most obvious reason: it's easy. So instead he settles for greasy, not even tasty cafeteria food-blah.

Well you know what else is even easier? Making your own lunch and crafting your own meals. It honestly takes me about five minutes in the morning to whip up a quick, healthy lunch before I head out the door to work. And that’s all the time you need really! Today, for instance, I made a salad with spinach, chopped red apple, sweet onion and tuna with a little olive oil, celery salt, dill and pepper on top. I didn’t plan to make that for lunch, but I made the best out of what I had in the fridge. Some days that’s mixing up leftover brown rice, veggies and turkey burger from the night before. Other day’s it’s making a summery salad out of mozzarella cheese, tomato and fresh basil.

It’s fun to be creative, and cooking for yourself allows you do to that. When you order from a menu at a restaurant, you’re constrained by what’s on their menu, with no room to alter anything according to your diet. It’s no fun to just order something and have that be your meal. What ever happened to pick ‘n’ choosing and adding a little extra zest? I promise you if you start to get in the habit of doing it yourself, you’ll reap all those delicious benefits ☺

Sunday, July 18, 2010

How to Conduct a "Me" Day

So this morning I woke up at 8 a.m. Yes, 8 a.m. on a Sunday...I honestly can't recall the last time I've done that. The reason being? I laid low last night with two of my friends-we made dinner together, watched a movie, then walked to get some late night frozen yogurt before hitting the sack by 11. With nine solid hours of sleep, I woke up this morning feeling refreshed, healthy and rejuvenated (definitely can't complain about that).

Anyway, since I woke up so early, I decided to make the best of my day and do things for "me." So I skipped out on a beach trip with my two friends and really thought about what I wanted to make out of my day. Sure, I very well could have crawled back in bed and took this gorgeous Sunday as a day for R+R, but I decided to cease the day instead! After all, weekends only come so often and I'm a firm believer in making the most out of the day...out of life in general, really. Life's too short to bum around...we have to put ourselves out there in this beautiful world we live in!

Well, it's not even 2 p.m., and I've already make a lovely breakfast (scrambled eggs, half of a banana and a piece of Ezekiel toast), hit the gym for an intense strength training routine, took a loooonnnngggg hot shower with 15 seconds of cold refreshing water at the end (love that!), dug into some nonfat yogurt with fresh fruit, bought a new iPod at the beautiful Apple store in Boston (with the friendliest customer service may I add), browsed Sephora in the Prudential Center, and am currently sitting in my favorite cafe-Trident on Newbury Street-with a large glass of iced coffee for one of my favorite things to do: write. I think it's safe to say that my day has been filled with "Rachel" things. My additional plans include blogging a bit, people watching in the city (one of the best activities if you haven't tried it yet) and making a healthy dinner tonight followed by some Sex and the City episodes (a must in any Rachel-fied day).

Now, I'm sure if you were to make your perfect, do-whatever-you-want day, it would look much different than mine. Hence the reason for having a "me" day, that is a day just for you and doing whatever the hell you want! Yes, that's what it would be defined as in the Dictionary if there were such a thing. Well, I'm telling you these types of days CAN just need to make them happen. And it's really as easy as 1, 2, 3!

How to Conduct Your Own "Me" Day
1. Sit down and seriously think about the things you reallllllyyy love to do (shopping, photography, painting, eating, etc).
2. Take that list and combine 5, even 15 things into the perfect day, according to how much time you have. Really, there are NO limits. Who's to say you can't go out to your favorite cafe, paint your room, take a few pics downtown, chat with a long lost friend and write a "thank you" letter all in one day? Trust me, it's possible!
3. Execute! Go ahead and do it girl! This is your time to shine...there is no day but today and today is all for YOU, so go do "you" things and make today the best "me" day ever!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Body Rant

As women, we tend to naturally hate a particular body part (or two). For me, it was always my thighs. I used to absolutely HATE them. With a thin waist and not-so-big boobs, I couldn't understand why I had to be cursed with the massive thighs. I thought they were ugly, unfortunate and humongous, So I in turn spent the past five or so years covering them up. I'd never dare wear jeans, and would instead conceal my legs with flowy dresses and skirts. At the beach, I'd wear shorts over my bathing suit, risking an awkward tan line over potential humiliation.

However, something changed this past year. No, my thighs didn't miraculously melt. But, I gained a few doses of confidence, and am now able to accept my body the way it is. The other day, I laid on the beach in only my bikini for the first time in as long as I remember, and felt incredible about myself (and actually got an event tan for once). Yes, my thighs aren't teeny tiny and I'll never have big boobs, but I learned to love and embrace my fit, healthy curvy body the way it is (with all its imperfections). I realized that women are much too hard on themselves when regarding their body concept. The truth of the matter is that no one else picks out these body "flaws" except for you. As women, we tend to be our #1 critic (a very harsh critic at that), when in fact we need to become our #1 fan.

Everyday I hear women expressing their concerns about their body, be it they feel fat, don't like their flabby arms or can't stand the thought of their tummy in a bikini. However, the funny part is that the women who I hear talking this way tend to be absolutely beautiful in my eyes. While you may scrutinize the little things you dislike about yourself, others are admiring your beauty every day.

So I challenge you to work on admiring yourself for the next couple of days. Every time you think, "I wish I had her legs..." or "I'd kill for those abs..." or "If only I could have..." stop yourself. Instead, think "Wow, she's beautiful, but I love my killer smile and fabulously strong legs from all the running I do. I am strong. I am beautiful." Seriously, give it a try and watch your confidence levels soar!

Monday, July 12, 2010

Maybe You CAN Always Get What You Want...

Day in and day out, our schedules are jam packed with appointments, meetings and other tedious things to do. From work to picking up that perscription from CVS, it's hard to get the chance to simply be (let alone breathe). While these monotonous daily tasks are automatically made your priorities, what ever happened to things you want? And no I'm not talking about that $200 dress you just have to have; that you can go and splurge on any day. I'm talking about the bigger picture, things that don't necessarily involve money. A life list of sorts all about YOU.

This really got me thinking about what I want in life. Sure, a new wardrobe and smaller thighs would be nice, but those aren't things I realllllyyyy want. When I thought a little deeper about it, I was able to come up with quite the list.

For one, I'd love to set aside more time for personal R&R. It's not that I don't get enough down time. Right now I'm laying on a couch in PJs. However, that's not R&R for me. I'd like to take 10 to 30 minutes each day to simply close my eyes, relax and breathe. No computer. No cell phone. No assignments. Just me alone with my thoughts. I think we could all use a little more private time each day; you'd be amazed by what just a few minutes can do.

On the complete opposite end, I'm going to make it a point to do more activities in Boston. I live in this beautiful, culture-filled, buzzing city and I definitely don't savor that to its full potential. After a long day of work and sweaty session at the gym, it's so tempting to just plop on the couch, throw on some PJs and call it a night. However, I realized I'm missing out on some great things to do in the city-jazz clubs, dancing, trendy cafes, book clubs, concerts, comedy shows, art shows, fairs, etc. The list goes on and on.This week I'm going to make it a point to try a few new things, whether it be going to a new coffee shop or attending a poetry reading (and hopefully going on a few dates in the meantime). Life is way too short to stay in every night. Check's "Things to Do" section for some fabulous idea to try out yourself!

Lastly, I'd like to focus more on my writing. After all, it is my utmost passion and something that makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. It may sound silly, but after writing an article or posting on my blog, I feel extremely confident and accomplished. Hence, I'd like to write more throuhgout the day even if it's just a little note here and there. I think we all need to remember to never let go of our passions. Into photography but haven't brushed up on your camera skills in God knows how long? Go ahead and pick up right where you left'll be surprised at how natural it comes (and how good it feels).

Remember: if you want something (and I mean realllly want something), and you believe it in you can definitely do it. That is a fact.

What are some things you'd like to work on in life? Share yours below. . .