Dear Ladies: This is what you deserve

Valentine’s Day. It is either one of the best, or worst days of the year depending on the person. For those who have a valentine, it is a day to spend with someone you care a lot about. On the other hand, it can be a day to highlight the fact that you are a single Pringle, and may feel really down about it. But why should you? Just because you aren’t posting a V-Day picture on Instagram with excessive hearts in the caption, is no reason to feel lonely, or rush to get into a relationship just to hop on the mushy bandwagon. Heck, those who are in a relationship shouldn’t need one day of the year to recognize how much they like the other person, that should be everyday.

Recently, I overheard a conversation at Starbucks between two women about their marriage problems, and how they weren’t being treated well since they tied the knot. They mentioned that dating when they were younger was so much easier than dating as they got older. It led me to wondering why they settled for that in the first place, but also sparked my psych brain and made me think more about why they said it was harder as we get older, because I have felt the same thing. The conclusion that came to me, was that as we get older, there is pressure added to find someone out of college because of the expectation to graduate with a degree, and a dude. Ironically, I just read an article for class that said the exact same thing as the conclusion I came to. There’s a running joke that says some girls go to college to find a husband, and as Shmuel Schulman (what a name) and Jennifer Connolly wrote in their 2013 article, it’s actually not a joke. They explained that this leads back to the evolutionary theory, as women tend to like to couple up in order to feel safe and secure. Because of this expectation to find someone by a certain time, and how we are wired, it can lead to settling for less than what we deserve. This post is to proclaim to all my ladies reading this (and even the gentleman, it goes for both) that there is NO RUSH because that person you’re picturing in your mind is out there. For the record, these may seem so cliche and predictable, but when that pressure of finding someone is added, some will talk themselves into believing that some of these aren’t important when they are! Ladies, you deserve someone who….

1. Is attractive: Both ways

I’m just going to start with the most obvious one here. The first step in finding someone that you truly and genuinely want to be with, is finding someone you are attracted to! My mom has always told me how important it is to be physically attracted to someone first. Yes, society tells us to not judge a book by its cover because it is what is inside that matters most. While that is true, people aren’t books! There is no faking physical attraction to someone when you are not, no matter how hard you try. It’s similar to opening a gift you truly like versus opening a gift that is so ugly, but you have to fake that you like it in front of Grandma. When you like the gift, the feelings and excitement come naturally, but on the other hand when the gift is “eh”, everything feels forced. There is a lot of negative stigma around “swiping” apps such as Tinder and Bumble, but psychology says that your gut feeling is usually correct according to the Implicit Personality Theory. This states that a first impression can be made quickly, and ACCURATELY, from very little information. If you aren’t attracted to them right away, you swipe left. Common sense, right? Looks are important, so follow your gut and don’t settle if you don’t like what you see! It doesn’t just apply to Tinder, it applies in all situations where you meet someone new whether that be at Starbucks, the bar, the library, the grocery store etc. That being said, it is also important to get to know someone beyond their looks, and see if their heart and personality are as attractive as their face and good biceps. Some guys can get away with their good looks, and put girls in a “spell” of infatuation, but in the long run, their perfect smile won’t make you happy when they aren’t genuine, or just tell you what you want to hear.

2. Wants to see you

I bet you just read this and thought “well no duh, Lauren.” You’d be surprised at the number of times a guy has chosen sleeping, video games, the Casino, a night with the boys (it wasn’t even “Saturday for the boys”), and not wanting to drive because it wastes gas, over time with me. Ladies, getting a guy to spend time with you shouldn’t require begging, bribing, or feel harder than trying to catch your dog when they are running around with your socks. I’ve come to learn over the years just how frustrating, and unordinary, it is to continuously beg a guy to come watch me compete at my gymnastics meet, go out to dinner, walk Gracie with me, study together, or go do something fun! You deserve someone who will SHOW you, and not just tell you, that they want to see you. As I say, it is the little things, such as driving just to come sit with you in a coffee shop for an hour, make plans to see you for the week, agree to watch The Bachelor just because it is time with you, and take initiative to see you! It doesn’t take much, and it shouldn’t have to. Nothing should feel one sided when it comes to wanting to see each other. When you find that someone, they should want to be with you on the good and bad days, rain or shine, when you’re in sweats or looking your best, one mile or 1000000 miles away, and they won’t care what you do together as long as it means getting to be with you. Sound like #goals? That’s what reality should be.

3. Is easy to be with

Sure, first dates are always a little bit awkward, we try to impress the other person. That is a given. But if the next couple dates continue to be awkward where conversation doesn’t flow, you’re still ordering something “easy” to eat and not messy just to look better, and you’re still talking about how nice/not nice the weather is? That’s a red flag. You deserve to be with someone where you don’t feel like you are forcing yourself to laugh at what they say, smile, daintily eat a french fry, or do normal person things that really should come naturally. It can be hard to explain what “easy to be with” feels like, but if it doesn’t start to feel like you are hanging out with a close friend where you can talk for hours about literally anything, that’s not good! Easy to be with, for me, means I can’t stop smiling, laughing, can roast them and they will dish it right back, and I feel like I’ve known the person for years rather than almost an hour. If you are low key dreading doing something with them again because it’s difficult to have a conversation or act natural around them (I’ve felt this), don’t follow through with it (I did, bad move). Yeah, they may be a cute and kind person, but why settle for someone that you aren’t having fun with? My mom has told me to imagine what they would be like in the future. So in this case, imagine yourself sitting in a house with someone someday, maybe married for ten years; still talking about the weather, forcing laughs, and not eating pasta because it’s embarrassing to slurp a noodle. You then look out the window and see the couple next door is outside having a snowball fight and making fun of each other like best friends. I’d rather take 50 snowballs to the face from someone I love being with than feel like I’m walking around on pins and needles all the time.

4. Allows you to be yourself

What is the point of being with someone if you can’t be who you truly are? The relationships that thrive are the ones that are honest, and hiding who you are because you are afraid they won’t like the real you is a form of dishonesty. I will admit, I hold back a bit on the first date. I’m shy, girly, polite, all that good stuff…but that isn’t the real me as bad as that sounds. Often times, it turns out the guy likes it even more when I act more myself which is witty, smiley, sarcastic, randomly does handstands, makes bad puns, and is a little less girly (I’m still nice, no worries). Find someone that allows you to make a fool of yourself, accepts you on your bad days, and they can’t get enough of it. You should be able to show them all your personalities! We all act different depending on who we are with as much as we hate to admit it. I have a different personality for when I’m with my family, my best friend, my team, etc. But with that person, you should be able to show them all sides, including crabby. (Yes guys, it is a sign of progress when you see our crabby side). Find someone that lets you use your real laugh (ladies, you know what I am talking about). Be with someone that doesn’t care if you didn’t do your makeup, send an ugly snapchat, are wearing sweats, or send sweaty snapchats from the gym to them. If at any point they make you feel ashamed or embarrassed about your fear of fish, study habits, your values, your health, family traditions, weird quirks, goals, or anything else important to you, that is a HUGE red flag! The person that you are meant to be with, actually pulls the real you out of yourself, and it is a great feeling!

5. Puts you on a pedestal

I’m the type of person who doesn’t ask for this, or expect anything over the top, but they should want to make you feel beautiful, and show their appreciation for you without you asking for it. A relationship without any compliments on how you look, or excitement over an accomplishment, ultimately leads to no motivation to continue it, and makes you feel stuck. Everyone wants to feel appreciated, and honestly, if they don’t look at you the way they look at their Chipotle, they ain’t worth your time. When you find someone that shows you their appreciation, it means two things. The first, is that they pay attention to you. If they compliment you on your new haircut, your outfit, your green eyes, your sparkly eyeshadow, etc, it means they notice what you do, what you say, and remember the little things about you. Second, it truly means they are infatuated with you, and are genuinely interested! Their eyes should light up when you get out of your car, tell you that you’re gorgeous no matter what you are wearing, not be embarrassed to tell their parents about you, send you texts just to let you know how lucky they are to have you, and lastly, look at you first, and then proceed to eye the bag of Chipotle in hand! Those who don’t do this are either not as into you as you thought, or not respectful/mature enough to realize that this is a must. It’s not hard to do, and is one of those simple things that leads to so much growth. We all know our parents are great at putting us on a pedestal, but that is because they have to. Your person should want to.

6. Has goals

This one may not be on everyone’s list, but someone with ambition tells you several things about them. Just like someone’s Spotify playlists may not seem important, it can tell you a lot about someone! The first thing it tells you, is that they know how to care for something, and know what passion feels like. If someone doesn’t have any goals, it tends to mean that there is little to no caring about what happens, or they have no passion (but not always), which can easily transition over to a relationship. Second, goals mean that they have some type of game plan. Being someone who likes to plan, finding someone who also likes to have a plan of how to get from point A to point B is very attractive. One cannot make goals without at least thinking about how they will get there, otherwise they are just dreams. Third, goals mean that they have a purpose for what they do. Find someone who does things with intent, has a reason for what they do, and thinks about how their actions will help them in the long run, which in turn will help them get closer to their goals. Fourth, goals mean stability (depending on the goal). It shows that they will work for what they want, and us gals like to feel stable as I mentioned earlier. Lastly, if they have goals, and are truly interested in you, chances are, you are probably a part of their goals, and will care, make a plan, have purpose with you, and work to be with you. Goals aren’t just an end point. It is the process of getting there, and the skills needed, that are beneficial and can spill over into relationships. Find someone who has goals and a plan for their life, because chances are, they also have the rest of these elements.

7. Is honest

When I say honest, I mean in every way possible. There are so many forms of deception that can hurt relationships such as straight up lying, not revealing all of the story, lying to protect someone, little white lies, pointless lies, being fake etc. It is such a good habit to not lie about unnecessary things. I know I have done this before; I said I took one road to get somewhere when I actually took another. Why? I don’t know! Did it matter what road I took? Absolutely not. But we are so good at doing this, and do it a lot. I know I can generalize this phenomenon to the whole population. It may be harmless, but it can snowball into a habit of dishonesty that will bite you in the butt. I personally don’t like things sugar coated, so if I ask the guy I am with if I look bad, I want them to tell me I look bad if I actually do! Tell me my butt looks big in those jeans, tell me that I have spinach in my teeth, tell me if I have something on my face, and all the other embarrassing stuff. Lying to protect someone, is not protecting them at all. I don’t want the person I am with to lie about what they are doing just because it may not be something I am interested in, or they think I won’t like it. You deserve someone that is straightforward and tells you how they feel, because guessing or trying to read into one word texts can lead to more trouble. Find someone that isn’t afraid to own up to their past and the mistakes they have made. Seriously, if someone is afraid to tell you something, that is a huge red flag. It may sound bad now, but you deserve someone that tells you that your breath stinks.

8. Has the same interests as you

This one is also pretty straight forward, but so many people overlook this one and say it isn’t THAT important. Yes it is! Someone may be attractive, honest, treat you like a queen, have goals, and all the other criteria on here; but if their ideal day is to sit on the couch and do nothing, that is a huge red flag! Don’t ever settle for that unless that is also your ideal day, then you two are perfect for each other. A relationship can be so much fun, and have so much more passion, when the two of you do things you both enjoy. For me, finding out that they like sports, are into fitness like I am, will go skating or out to eat, but can also be down to have a relaxing movie night makes them so much more attractive to me. It can be so hard to be with someone who doesn’t understand why you do what you do, and doesn’t get excited over things like you do. This isn’t to say that you shouldn’t be with someone that doesn’t have the same interests as you, but in that case, they should give it a try, and try to appreciate it with you. A good example of this is my own parents. My dad is a big hockey guy, and with my mom being from Kentucky, she didn’t know much about it. Once she moved here she gave it a shot, and started to appreciate it because my dad loved it. Don’t settle for someone who refuses to go to a gymnastics meet, listen to country music, eat at your favorite restaurant, or forget your family member’s names. What is important to you, should be important to them, too.

9. Cheers you on

Someone that cheers you on, indicates that they know your goals, and have an interest in what you are doing. I know that when I have gotten an A on something, got a 9.3 on bars, landed my vault that I usually break my ankles on, or made it through a Terrible Tuesday, I can’t wait to tell someone that will actually be proud of me! Your special someone should be that person. You deserve someone who hypes you up, rather than is jealous of your success, or simply replies “cool.” There have been times where I have been with someone, and am so excited to tell them about an accomplishment, and they didn’t seem to care at all, which in turn totally sucked out all of my excitement. When you are with the right person, your goals will be just as important as theirs, and they will support you through it all. Don’t settle for someone who makes you feel like your goals are nothing, your successes aren’t worth anything, or you aren’t getting any support at all in tough times. Find someone who celebrates the little victories such as finally microwaving popcorn without burning it, but also the big victories like landing an internship for the summer. Everyone needs a cheerleader, and while you’ve always got your mom or your grandma on Facebook (nothing cheers you up like reading comments on a picture of you that your mom posted), it means so much more coming from that special someone.

10. Makes you excited for each day

Have you ever heard the saying “I don’t want to fall asleep because reality is finally better than my dreams?” As cheesy as that sounds, it is true. There is no better feeling than waking up in the morning knowing that your day is going to be great, just because you get to spend time with someone. I’ve had many days where I have woken up with little motivation because there is nothing to be excited about that day (I know it sounds sad, for the record, it’s usually Tuesdays). It is just average. When you find the person that you truly deserve, you will feel excited to take on the day because you know you get to be with someone who is attractive both inside and out, wants to see you just as bad as you want to see them, is easy to be with, can tell them about wiping out in the caf and not be judged, makes you feel great about yourself, has goals to share with you, will always hear the truth, can do your favorite things together, and will support you. Your happiness will be as immense as the run on sentence I just wrote! Don’t settle until your life becomes that run on sentence.

We all deserve to find someone that checks off all the criteria on our list, and while that may require some patience, it is far better than settling for something that doesn’t make you feel like you are that “middle school crush” kind of giddy. Every single element on your list is important, and while it may seem selfish or impossible to have certain expectations, it is not! I truly believe God allows good things happen to those who wait, and all good things may come with patience. Once you let go of the notion that you must have that someone by a certain life milestone, everything becomes so much more clear.

Happy Valentine’s Day! I hope it is spent in a way that makes you as happy as when your jeans fit from last year, Deb in the caf doesn’t over charge you for your dinner (you know Gusties), you get the last table at Starbucks, the end spot on the street is open so you don’t have to parallel park, the Vikings finally win, or a home run in the bottom of the 9th with bases loaded!


Mindful Eating: How/why you should practice it

The world we live in now is so used to instant gratification. So many of us do things without even thinking about why we do them, we “just do it” as Nike says. Think about it, have you ever asked yourself why you pour the cereal in the bowl first and then the milk, as opposed to milk first then cereal? You have a reason for doing so, but you’ve never tuned in with yourself to figure out why. Mindfulness, simply put, is observing what you think/do, and why. It can be applied to many habits such as checking your phone once you are alone, an addiction, picking your nails, fidgeting etc..but today, I am going to focus on mindful eating. Many people just eat because it is there, or eat to get rid of uncomfortable emotions (otherwise known as stress eating), which in turn creates unhealthy habits. This applies to everyday life; have you ever watched TV with a big bowl of popcorn and before you knew it, the bowl was empty and you didn’t remember eating that much? How about have a bad day at work or school and reach for the nearest sugar source? Nothing about those examples is mindful.

So why does this even matter? Two reasons. The most obvious reason people say is that it hinders weight loss efforts, or is simply a bad habit because eating five times the serving size isn’t the best for you. Every time eating is used to rid feelings of boredom or negative feelings, that pattern becomes engraved deeper into our brains, making it hard to get ourselves out of. TV then gets unconsciously associated with chips, and stress with snacks. Second, what most people don’t know, which I have come to know, is that being mindful when eating leads to better gut health (because we aren’t feeding ourselves trash), which leads to better brain health, which leads to better health overall! The stomach is connected to the brain in so many ways, it is essentially your second brain due to all the nerve connections, and can directly affect mood and thought processes, which is why mindful eating should be something that everyone is doing. It is not just for those who want to break a habit or lose weight. Here are 10 things to do in order to be mindful when eating.

1. Be thankful

One of the most repeated terms I have heard from my doctor this year, is “rest and digest.” There is a purpose for taking time before you eat to pray be thankful for the food on the table, or nowadays, take a picture of your McNuggets because they are snap worthy. Our bodies have two modes when we are put under stress: fight or flight. When we are in flight mode, our body shuts down “unnecessary” functions in order to be able to run away from the stressor. There is a reason we don’t eat while on a run (mostly because it is incredibly hard to run with a plate of pasta flinging around), but also because our body is putting more energy into our legs and lungs. In my case, my body thinks it’s always in danger/stressed, and has turned off my stomach acid production which makes it extremely hard to digest food. Flight is the most common mode to be in when we are stressed because we try to run away from our problems-it isn’t just a figure of speech! Eating is supposed to be a happy time for humans, and giving yourself this pause to be thankful, signals to your body to stop fleeing in order to focus fully on your food and digestion. Mind-body connection is real! Being able to let the stress go away, and be thankful, allows for your body to focus on the right thing at the right time, and practicing mindfulness helps your body to get better at differentiating stress from rest. So do yourself a favor and be thankful before a meal, because in the end, you’ll also be thankful that you didn’t give yourself indigestion.

2. Out of sight, out of mind

Do you find yourself grabbing a piece of candy out of the bowl at the bank, doctors office, front desk, etc just because it is there? If you answered yes, now answer this. If there were no bowl, would you ask the bank teller, or receptionist if they had any candy in the back? I’m going to guess probably not because I’m positive you weren’t thinking about candy until you saw that bowl. The Proximity Effect in psychology easily applies to this, as it states that we like something better when it is close to us because it is convenient. Studies have shown that regardless of the food (in one particular study it was M&Ms and raisins), participants ate just as many of each when they were in close proximity, even if they didn’t like raisins. We take advantage of opportunities just because they are there, and free, despite the fact if they are good for us or not. Instant gratification at it’s finest. When snacks or food are out of sight, it usually leads to not thinking about them. The mindfulness part comes into play, because when they are out of sight, once it comes to mind, it means that you probably actually are hungry rather than mindlessly eating what is there. It allows you to honor what your body is telling you, rather than what your mind is telling you. Now back to the study I mentioned earlier. If the raisins weren’t sitting in a bowl in front of you, but rather, were in the pantry, not close in proximity, would you go get them just to eat them for no reason? Probably not..I mean come on, they’re raisins. Being aware about what is there in front of you, and if you’d eat it if it weren’t there, is a huge part of this practice. Keep your food in the pantry where it belongs. No reason for raisins!

3. Portion it out

Ok so let’s say you actually do want raisins. You go to the pantry and get out your five pound bag from Sam’s Club (or Costco, I don’t discriminate). Instead of bringing that bag with you back to the couch, portion out the serving size recommended, and then put the bag away. So many of us will take the container or bag with us and continue to devour the whole thing while we work on homework, talk to friends, or watch Netflix, just because we can, and aren’t thinking about how much we truly need. The serving size label might as well be in a different language. Another example is when we go to restaurants. Most of the time, we are given a larger portion than we need. So before you dig in and get lost in conversation, portion out how much your body needs, and put the rest in a to go box. Not portioning out food is so dangerous because we don’t realize how mindlessly we eat; and because we are listening to the TV, glued to our textbook, or talking with dinner mates, we aren’t listening to hunger cues. There’s nothing to stop you, and before you know it, you ate more than you wanted to, but more importantly, than your gut wanted you to. It is hard to be mindful when the giant bag of raisins is never ending, or steak fries are bottomless at Red Robin. Endless food has become some weird form of permission to keep going. Most of the time, we think that we need a large quantity of something for us to feel satisfied, but really, that isn’t true! It is ok to not finish food, or empty the container! Ultimately, it’s going to be waste either way if you know what I mean, so might as well save your body the troubles.

4. Cut out distractions

Raise your hand if you eat at least one of your meals while watching TV, looking at your phone, listening to music, or doing something else instead of 100% focusing on your plate. I’m picturing every single one of you raising your hand. This tacks on to my last point about portion control and not realizing how much we eat, because we are DISTRACTED. Imagine sitting at your kitchen table with that giant five pound bag of raisins with no distractions at all. Just you, that giant bag, and silence. I would find it surprising if you ate that whole bag of raisins because now, you are more aware of your actions, and consciously know that eating five pounds of raisins is hard to do if that’s your main focus. This mindfulness tip is probably the most important, because it truly allows you to be in tune with yourself, and listen to your body. Cutting out distractions allows for our decision making part of the brain to take over, rather than our primitive brain that wants us to ease feelings of discomfort regardless of what’s logical. This tip is probably the hardest since most of us can’t handle being by ourselves without our phone. Apply the golden rule of “treat others how you want to be treated” to your meal time. Give the full attention to your food that you’d want from your significant other or your spouse. Yes, it may feel so weird to sit in complete silence, no sports center, no Instagram, no HGTV..but I promise you, your food will start to taste better, last longer, and your food baby will be smaller than third trimester.

5. Eat slower

Our society has adopted the belief that everything is a competition, and that faster is better. I remember my friends and I challenging each other to see if we could swallow our Kraft mac and cheese without chewing. This completely goes against rest and digest. I’d love to ask the world record holding hot dog eater if they remembered SPECIFICALLY what their 15th hot dog tasted, and looked like. Odds are, they wouldn’t be able to because they can’t remember it, and never took the time to stop and look at it. I’d also like to ask them how their intestines felt after all that. Eating too much too fast creates an excess in dopamine (feel good neurotransmitter) making our brain eliminate dopamine receptors to accommodate for too much, creating tolerance, which requires more of the good thing in order to get past the new tolerance threshold and feel satisfied. It is a chain reaction. There is so much psychology to eating, and eating slower has proven to help so many things. First it helps you digest your food, and allows your brain to activate the correct amount of neurotransmitters and hormones. Second, it allows you to enjoy your eating experience longer, which makes us feel good! Why do we look at our food after we take a bite instead of just chomp it down? Because of the same reason I like to look at Channing Tatum: we like to look at things we enjoy. We all very easily could devour a taco in under a minute, but have you ever noticed that you simply don’t do that? Why? Because it isn’t as enjoyable as eating a taco at regular taco-eating speed. Ever heard the saying “less is more?” Well, it only works if you allow your taco to exist for more than five seconds. There’s a reason we have teeth, use them!

6. 20 minute rule

When we portion out food, most people will question how they know the quantity their body needs because serving size is not “one size fits all.” Because of this, our eyes usually are bigger than our stomachs. That is where this rule: allow yourself 20 minutes before going back for more food, comes into play. Many will eat more than we need because we are in a rush all the time, not allowing our body to process the amount of food we ate. Growing up, I was told that eating standing up was bad for you (I thought I would blow up or something), and now I finally understand why it is bad. My doctor explained to me that humans should take several hours for each meal to sit down, enjoy the food and company, and to rest so we digest. Standing usually means rushing, but as we all know, we don’t have hours to eat each meal every day. The 20 minute rule allows for the food to be processed, and for your brain to create Ghrelin or Leptin. Ghrelin is the hormone that tells you when you are hungry. Leptin is the one trying to tell you to stop eating the five pound bag of raisins while binge watching The Office. If you didn’t portion out enough the first time, Ghrelin will tell you to get more. But if you portioned out too much, Leptin will tell you to stop. A big part of being mindful, is listening to these two hormones, and 20 minutes is what we need in order to hear the “go” or “stop” regarding getting back in line at the Pizza Ranch buffet. Your body will tell you when you are hungry, you just have to give it time to decide!

7. Stop at satisfied

Being mindful while eating prevents having to unbutton your pants because you ate too much, and truly just feeling not good at all. Food is fuel, so think of your stomach as a gas tank. Your car only takes as much fuel as the tank needs to run smoothly, and it never takes more than it needs because it would spill over! Feeling satisfied means that you first need to figure out what satisfied hunger actually feels like to you, because a lot of us stop when we are full. Most people have a hard time with this one because while they know they should stop, and aren’t hungry anymore, their mind wants more because it tastes good, leading to overflowing the tank. Allow yourself to have enough to be satisfied, but not full. What this means, is to stop when your tank is at 80% (satisfied) about a 5, not 100% (stuffed), a 10. While having to refrain from eating the rest of the chocolate cake to stop at satisfied isn’t as fun, your gut will thank you. Once you are satisfied, use the 20 minute rule to evaluate if you truly have satisfied your hunger. There really is a lot of thinking and self talk when it comes to eating/being mindful. Stopping at satisfied also avoids the “gas” in the gas tank metaphor if you know what I mean.

8. Keep a food journal

For those trying to reach goals such as losing weight or eating healthier, this is a big one. Now, it might seem kind of stupid to write down what you are eating, and how you feel about it, but it can give you so many answers as to why what you are doing is/isn’t working. This is a great tool to find patterns such as food sensitivities, or weight loss/gain. The journal above was super helpful in seeing the correlation between my food sensitivities, and FND. Being interactive with your food, rather than just eating it, can tell you so much about why you feel sluggish when eating cheat meals on the weekends, or have so much energy when eating clean. It is visible proof as to how the brain and stomach are connected. Hangry is a legit thing! When you are crabby in your stomach, it triggers your Amygdala (controls feelings) to make the rest of you crabby. Amazon has a huge selection of journals that allow you to track what you ate, how it made you feel, and how you can improve the next day. Or, just simply find a template online and make your own. They make you think about food in a way you never have before. Food journals also keep you accountable depending on what your goal is. Have you ever thought about how grilled cheese makes you feel deep down? Here is your chance.

9. Ask questions

Asking questions while eating is the greatest tool to being in tune with yourself. Like I mentioned, mindful eating comes with a lot of self talk. Asking questions allows us to focus on our buddies Ghrelin and Leptin, and what our body is telling us. Sometimes we just get so distracted, or fall into a habit of being in the clean plate club, that we disregard a lot of important cues. It may sound silly, but ask yourself these things while eating. Am I full? If yes, stop eating. Does this sandwich taste good? No. Then why the heck are you eating it? Good question, I’ll stop. How does this chocolate make me feel? Terrible heart burn. Stop eating it! Do I want more tacos? Yes. Do I need more to feel satisfied? No. If I eat this cookie, will it satisfy me? No. So why eat it? Touche. Will this flaming hot Cheeto hold me over more than this apple? No. Ok, I’ll choose the better option. Will this cookie nourish my body more than this cucumber? No, but it will satisfy me more so I will eat it. Do I want to clean my plate? No, I’m full. So don’t! Is this ice cream worth the stomach ache later since I’m sensitive to dairy? Yes, but it’s worth it (as all lactose intolerant people claim to say). These questions are really just like a tennis match with yourself. So much back and forth conversation until a conclusion is reached. There are no right or wrong answers, but being able to have that dialogue with yourself is what mindfulness is. You are in control of your decisions once you become mindful of what you eat.

10. Be intuitive

The best example of eating intuitively, is newborn babies. They stop when they are full, eat when they are hungry, and don’t eat what doesn’t taste good to them aka spit it out all over their bibs. Eating intuitively means listening to what your body needs (mindful), but also, honoring your cravings. Because we were all newborns at some point in our lives, it means we ate intuitively, so why not do it again? We have lost touch with this because cravings, distractions, eating fast, and all the things I mentioned above have come into play. Going back to listening to our body’s needs and wants is the healthiest and most enjoyable way to live. Why is this so important? A lot of times, we will crave something not so healthy, but deny ourselves from it. This leads to it backfiring on us because we feel deprived, so instead of eating the one cookie we craved, our brain tells us to eat the whole box since it marked it as “scarce”, which then leads to feeling gross. Being mindful allows us to eat intuitively, allows us to honor our cravings, and allows us to be able to say no to what we truly don’t want. There is no social obligation to have to eat dessert if you truly don’t want it or like it, but food gets tied to social activities a lot of the time in our society. Choosing not to have dessert that your grandma made for after dinner doesn’t make you any less polite than if you did have it. Intuitive eating sounds so simple, but because we aren’t mindful, adhering to societal “rules”, or in tune with our bodies, it becomes impossible. Don’t try to control your diet, when your body is so good at telling you what it needs. You just have to learn to start listening!

Being mindful is not a trend, and it is not a chore. One of the main reasons mindfulness is so hard to do, is because most people don’t want to. They don’t see the long term benefits to their mind and body of eating without scrolling through their phones, chewing their food a few more times than normal, talking to themselves, waiting 20 minutes before eating another subpar pizza slice, writing down that they ate a pickle, refraining from eating five lbs of raisins, or keeping their food out of sight. Eating mindfully opens so many doors and reduces lots of unnecessary stress (rest and digest). It takes time to be able to do, but is so worth it when you finally have the freedom to eat without guilt, without discomfort, and are able to say no. Being in touch with yourself is such an advantage both physically and mentally! While trying out all ten of these at once may be a bit much, try to pick a couple and give them a go. There is so much research out there about how beneficial being mindful is whether that be in eating, breaking habits, or dealing with stress.

Have a great weekend, and be mindful of being mindful!


Staying motivated to work out: 10 things you should do

For this week’s #FitnessFriday post, I am going to answer one of the most common questions that receive. “How do you stay motivated to go to the gym everyday?” The answer I always give, is learn to love it. Obviously, this is a pretty broad answer, so I thought I would break it down into the ten things I have done over the years that have taught me to love working out. Staying motivated to work out has barely anything to do with physical ability, it really is all about creating a different mindset.

1. Make a killer playlist

This is honestly probably the most important thing for me that keeps me going to the gym everyday. You know those songs that you just can’t help but dance to? Those are the songs that belong on the playlist. Music can be so motivating whether that be what the lyrics say, or if the music is upbeat and easy to workout to. There are some songs on my playlist that have a really good beat to them, but I wouldn’t dare sing the lyrics because they are not clean AT ALL. I will make a new playlist the night before a workout, and I can’t wait to wake up the next day and test it out. Adding new songs to my playlist is equivalent to getting a new outfit and being excited to wear it the next day. Working out for me is more of a jam session than a workout, which makes working out fun for me! My playlist includes songs from all genres; ones that have a good beat to run to, stretch to, lift weights to etc. You need them all! When I’ve got a good song on, it definitely is a boost of confidence, and adds some pep to my step as I walk around the gym looking like a sweaty tomato. Lastly, the best thing about your playlist, is that it is yours, and no one else knows what is on it. You can do whatever the heck you want with it in order to keep you feeling good. Think about it, there very well could be a giant bodybuilder listening to Justin Bieber because that is what motivates them to do their best. There might be a 12 year old listening to Travis Scott when you probably assume they are the ones listening to Justin Bieber. Your playlist is your own little world.

2. Have a game plan

One of the biggest reasons people stay out of the gym is because they don’t know what the heck they’re doing, and don’t know what they want to do. The night before my workouts, I will come up with a plan for what I will be doing at the gym the next day, as well as a back up plan if I wake up and am not “feeling it.” It is important to have a plan that can be changed! Usually what this looks like for me, is choosing what form of cardio I want to do, and then pairing it with either an upper body, lower body, or full body workout, always followed by my ab circuit. Sometimes, I will even turn to Pinterest and find a circuit to do, then screenshot it so I make sure I do it the next day! With this being said, make a reasonable game plan. It can be so easy to overestimate what you want to do the next day, and this is why it is important to listen to what your body is telling you. There have been several times where I plan to do 30 minutes on the stair stepper, but when I wake up, I feel like I would rather drop a dumbbell on my face than do stairs. It is not fun to wake up super sore, and be so insistent on completing a giant workout. If anything, it is decreasing your motivation to work out. For you planners out there like me, think of this as a mini “to-do” list in your head that you can check off as you complete each task!

3. Make time for it

The number one excuse: “I don’t have time.” Maybe you legitimately don’t have the time for it… during the day. But what about mornings or nights? Yeah, you may not prefer it, but that time is fair game! There have been many times where my day is packed, leaving the only time for a workout to be at 6 AM. Most people look at me like I am crazy when I tell them I sacrifice sleep for a workout, but the motivation that makes me do it, is that I know I am getting one step closer to my goals. Think about it, what is the reason we go to the gym? To reach some sort of goal whether that be changing the way you look, trying to pick up a hottie with a body, or just to maintain your health. If there were no end goal, I wouldn’t be writing this post right now about how to keep going to the gym! The first step in going to the gym, is sitting down and looking at when you can. Add it to your schedule, and by this I don’t mean just make a mental note. WRITE IT DOWN in your planner or in your phone. Psychology says that when we write something down, we are more likely to follow through. Making time for the gym essentially means make time for your goals. Let your goals motivate you enough to drag you out of bed, or pick you up off the couch after work everyday.

4. Lay out your snazzy workout gear the night before

This may not seem like it would do much, but it is actually so important. First, get some cool new workout gear that you are excited to wear. Look good, feel good! I love to show off my new tank top, fun sports bra, bright colored shoes, and lulu gear at the gym. I definitely would not have as much motivation and confidence walking around the gym if I were wearing old gym shorts and a boring white tank top. One of my favorite things to get when I shop is new workout gear, just because I know I will use it a ton! Second, set them out the night before. It is a reminder once you wake up that you are planning to go to the gym. One time I had my clothes laid out, but didn’t work out that day because I didn’t feel like it. Having to pick up those clothes and put them away actually made me feel guilty, and since that moment, I have not missed a workout. It was like letting myself down as I put my shoes back in the closet. Another reason I set them out the night before is because having to choose what to wear right away in the morning is usually one of the last things I want to do. Get up and go!

5. Do what you like

Have you noticed that when you are doing something you like, you are usually better at it and more invested in it? This goes for working out. Now, some of you may be saying you don’t like working out in general, but that is probably because you haven’t found a part of working out that you like! Would you take a math class if you hated math, and there was a whole list of classes you actually liked right in front of you? Probably not. Would you order walleye if you hated seafood when there was all your favorites on the menu? I’m going to guess no. This is the same for working out. If you hate to run, don’t run! If you hate the chest press machine, don’t lay a finger on it! The gym literally has hundreds of other things you could do. Working out is supposed to be fun, so find what things you do like! For me, I love to do HIIT classes, run to my rockin’ playlist, but also, my old gymnastics circuits that make everyone stare at me because it looks like my shoulders are out of socket (that’s part of the fun). You don’t have to choose just one thing, or feel obligated to use every machine in the gym. If you like to run, run. If you like to elliptical and watch tv, do that. If you like to do 300 flights of stairs, all power to you (seriously, you’re going to need some). If you like to walk on treadmill and scroll through your Instagram like I do for my cool down, no one is stopping you! Do what is going to keep you coming back wanting more.

6. Bring a buddy

The nice thing about the gym, is that it is not just for working out. At Lifetime, there are the “regulars” meaning, the people that are there at the same time everyday as me. Because of this, I have made new friends that I work out with. The gym is actually how I met my Little in my sorority! We were always the only ones there at 6 AM running on treadmill, so it made it inevitable that we became buddies (only took me a solid year to slide into her DMs and say hi). Even having a friend there at the same time as me to bike next to or make weird faces at (usually Wyatt), even if we don’t talk at all, makes a workout more motivating. There is no rule about having to be 100% in the zone, by yourself, going hardcore, the whole time. It is amazing how much faster the time goes when I am talking to someone while doing stairs. Every day, I always join my mom on the elliptical just because it is a good way to catch up with her, but also because it is nice to have company while “ellipticalling” as I call it. The other reason why it is nice to workout with someone, is because it creates more accountability. It is a lot harder to tell your workout buddy that you aren’t going today because you are too tired, but by yourself, you can do that and get away with it a lot easier. It is also a lot harder to stop what you are doing and go home, if your buddy is still motivated to keep going. Invite someone that makes you excited to go! It is so nice to piggy back off each other’s motivation, or even complain together about how much your legs burn. On those days where you feel like everything hurts and you’re dying, at least you have someone to be in pain with 🙂

7. Go at your ideal time of the day

Working out has the same effects at any time of the day. There are some rumors out there that working out in the morning is more effective: that just ain’t true. Just like eating a cookie at a different time of day doesn’t change how carbs affect your body (yes some people believe it is different), it goes the same for your workouts. But what CAN change how effective your workout is, is if you aren’t going at the time that feels the best for you. There are two kinds of people: those who love an empty gym, and those who love a full gym. I definitely get a better workout when there are tons of people in the gym just because it is more social facilitation, but also because I am more engaged due to people watching. On the other hand, people like an empty gym because more equipment is available, or maybe because it is less intimidating. There is also the factor of morning and night! I am a morning person, so I have more energy to kill a workout in the morning than I do when I’m basically a sloth at night. It really depends on the person, but go when you have the most energy!

8. Reward system

I used this earlier on at the beginning of my fitness journey because I wasn’t a “regular” quite yet. There is nothing wrong with a little operant conditioning, meaning receiving something for doing a certain behavior (for those who have been following me from the beginning, you’ll remember this from my “10 Things that Prove I’m a Psych Nerd” post). I advise you not to make your reward food related, as that creates bad habits. For me, I rewarded myself with new workout clothes, putting a sticker on my calendar for the days I went to the gym, a relaxing bubble bath, one more Netflix episode…really anything that motivates you! Just like a stray cat will keep coming back if you feed it, you will keep going back to the gym if you feed that behavior in a positive way! Ultimately, your biggest reward will be seeing results and feeling a lot more confident.

9. Remember the runner’s high

Nowadays, the times where I don’t feel like working out, I think back to how I feel after I get done with a workout. There has not been one time I have regretted a workout (even when I dropped a weight on my foot, or tipped over during an overhead squat), but every time I do skip a workout, I regret it because I absolutely hate feeling lazy, and like I’ve left something unfinished. That feeling of regret, is what keeps me motivated on those days where my bed is calling my name after class. Runner’s high is a real thing because physical activity releases feel good endorphins, so I guarantee you, that you will feel great after a workout since it is the body’s natural reaction. Harness that feeling sometime, remember what it feels like, and pull it out of your back pocket when you are lacking the motivation.

10. Stick with it

They say it takes 21 days to make a habit. While I don’t know if that’s true (I’ve also heard 66), I guarantee you that if you stick with it, it will become easier. Once I started to make time for it everyday, and do all the things I have mentioned, going to the gym became the new normal for me. It now has gotten to the point where I actually feel weird if I don’t go everyday. It’s also gotten to the point where my friends will text me to ask me if I am ok if they don’t see me at the gym in the morning as they walk to class. It can be hard to trust or imagine that this will become a habit, but it really does! The days where motivation is running low, but you still go, are the days where you build that habit even more and become stronger. And after a while, you will start to achieve some of your goals; you will see results, you’ll maintain your health, or you will finally talk to that hottie with a body! Because I did all of this, it is now a habit that I have created, and a habit that I absolutely love.

To sum it up, if you want to make going to the gym a habit of yours, you have to love what you are doing, and I found ways to love every aspect of it. I hope this helps those who are on the bubble about joining a gym, are losing their love for it, or it continues to fuel your fire! It is so important to be comfortable with what you are doing, but if you want to reach new goals or start something new, it requires getting out of that comfort zone first in order to get comfortable with it.

Have a fabulous fitness Friday, folks!