Are carbs bad for you? and other things: a story of prioritizing personal well-being

Are carbs bad for you? and other things: a story of prioritizing personal well-being
By Heather Nelson

Note: this article is part of a series. Heather shares her journey into a healthy lifestyle — body and mind — and invites you to take part in your own. 

If you’re thinking about or have thoughts of suicide or are concerned about someone you know or just need someone to talk to, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or chat with their counselors here. If you think that you or a loved one may be suffering through an eating disorder please check out the resources here or call the National Eating Disorder Hotline 1-800-931-2237. (All resources are FREE.)

I remember the sun. It was hot. Bright. A promise of another day. A fresh start.

The people, too, were like that Florida summer sun. Bright, glowing, never-changing, full of hope…. And me? I felt dark. Like the black sheep. An anomaly.

Didn’t I trust God?

1,600 miles from the comfort of home, the uncertainty started to wear on me. I never felt so desperate before. I looked for any answer, a solution. I never needed a sleep-aid. Now, I took a handful of night-time pain relievers to fall asleep. I felt numb. The weight of a life-changing decision hung on my shoulders. “I’m too busy to worry about this,” I thought. I tried my hardest not to worry — I “trusted” in God.

For five weeks, I stayed busy: collecting phone numbers, sifting through passages of scripture, kneeling for hours in the chapel, note-taking, and, occasionally, lounging on the beach. I thought long walks in the chokingly-humid air or staring at the sunset would clear my mind. Or maybe ignoring the problem would suffice? How about speaking with a few trusted friends? A priest? Nothing seemed to fix what I was feeling, and I convinced myself that it was normal and that I should move on.

I convinced myself that becoming a missionary was something that I needed to do. I’ve always wanted to help people, and becoming a missionary seemed like the perfect fit. I’d devoted the latter half of my college career to bible studies, spending time in prayer, and hoping to transform lives through God’s word. I started to think that I made the wrong decision. My declining mental health and the uncertainty fueled the increased worry. Why couldn’t I just be happy like everyone else? Why couldn’t I stop worrying? Why couldn’t I turn my brain off?

IMG_7745
Vanderbilt Beach in Florida, just one of the beaches where the missionaries of FOCUS spent weekends. 

***

Three days until the end of training. Three days until I’d return home. Three days until I could no longer hide.

“I’m thinking…I think I might want to die, like, I want to kill myself,” I whispered to a friend. Moments passed.

My friend looked at me, sadness in her eyes, paused, and asked, “Why are you feeling this way?” I sat for a moment, tears welling up, a choking feeling in my throat.

“I’m not sure,” I replied. “It’s, like, I think about death a lot, and how much easier it’d be if I just didn’t wake up one morning.” I told my friend about the sleepless nights, about the weariness…. Later, I spoke to a priest and explained the same thing. And then, confided in another friend about the extreme sadness I felt.

The consensus following my consultations: Trust in God. You can do this.

One month later, I’d finally become tired from lying to my boss about the amount of work I’d completed (and how lousy I felt). I wasn’t ready to support myself on campus: financially or emotionally. One night I answered his call ready to talk about everything. I told him about the suicidal thoughts, the lack of motivation, my inability to merely move from bed. And still, I was convinced that a drive to Springfield, Mo. would change my mind. It didn’t.

Several conversations (and days) later, I’d:

  • quit my job
  • spilled the whole story to my mom
  • called a therapist

The weight of not knowing slowly slipped away. I decided to take care of myself first. I finally trusted myself to make my own decisions. I slowly learned to care for myself (mentally, physically, emotionally) again. With the help of my therapist, I understood the inner workings of my anxious brain and how to care for myself. And I began to live a happier life again.

To be continued…

The change didn’t happen overnight. I’d felt these feelings of despair before, but I thought it was “normal” to contemplate death often. I didn’t know that I was anxious or depressed. I figured I’d always feel rundown or unable to function.

It doesn’t have to be like that.

Through the years, I’ve discovered what sets me off, or sends me into a frenzy. I fear not knowing what the future holds. I stress when I’m unorganized. I lose sleep when there’s “too much” to do.

I’ve learned the different tools and forms of self-care that I need to calmly move on or to prepare for when crisis strikes.

Whether you suffer from a mental illness or occasionally feel rundown, here are some forms of self-care I’ve found the most beneficial:

  • a hot bath, with a calming Spotify playlist
  • lounging on a couch (or lawn chair) with a book
  • physical exercise (for me: running or weight lifting, yoga)
  • meditation (via headspace)
  • baking / trying a new recipe
  • meal planning/prepping
  • spending time with a friend
  • making a to do list of small tasks — checking them off is satisfying!!
  • booking a massage

You may share my forms of self-care, and you will certainly have your own.

IMG_3074
My forms of self-care include reading, trips to Trader Joe’s, and heading to the gym.

Below is this week’s call to action! 

You may’ve heard the word “self-care.” Maybe you’ve heard it described as treating yourself to a shopping spree or something of that nature. Self-care is much more than that. It’s an activity meant to take care of our well-being, our mental, physical, and emotional well-being. A good self-care routine means improved mood and less anxiety. It’s a way to “refuel” ourselves.

If you don’t have a self-care routine, create one. It’s important to take a few minutes for yourself each day — yes, even if you’re busy. You must actively plan for self-care — it’s not meant to be random. When you plan things out, you’re able to respond to situations instead of react. It’s also beneficial to have a mapped out routine before you’re in a time of crisis.

    1. Ask, “Am I taking care of myself? Do I take the time to care for my own needs before anyone else’s?”
    2. Consider the areas of your health: physical, mental, emotional. Start listing out a few things you can do to care for yourself in each category. An activity may even overlap between the three categories. (Example: exercising is my form of self-care for my physical and mental wellbeing.)
    3. If you already have a routine, take time to assess. What’s something small you’re doing for yourself each day? How could improve or add to your current routine.
    4. Reach out to a trusted friend. Find an accountability buddy. Check in with them (and have them check in with you) as often as you need. Change takes time, but it feels a little easier with structured plan to guide you.

 

Are carbs bad for you? and other things: learning to live an authentic, healthy life

Are carbs bad for you? and other things: learning to live an authentic, healthy life
By Heather Nelson

Note: this article is part of a series. Heather shares her journey into a healthy lifestyle — body and mind — and invites you to take part in your own. 

If you’re thinking about or have thoughts of suicide or are concerned about someone you know or just need someone to talk to, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or chat with their counselors here. If you think that you or a loved one may be suffering through an eating disorder please check out the resources here or call the National Eating Disorder Hotline 1-800-931-2237. (All resources are FREE.)

41833298_10209840079918234_2309515343690727424_n.jpg
Running has become a passion of mine. It’s the perfect me-time.

Pizza, beer, tacos, margaritas. Rinse. Repeat.

The diet of any 22-year-old trying to finish her college degree, balance a social life, and cope with leaving the best college town ever…right?

Ask most college students if they consume a healthy diet and they’ll probably admit that they opt for convenience over real nutrients. (Insert: cream cheese pizzas from Pizza Shuttle or a couple scoops at Sylas and Maddy’s.)

It’s no secret that college — the late adolescent years — provide the time for students to develop their own opinions and prioritize new things in life. During this time, many students are learning to become independent and are, simultaneously, challenged to make important decisions. Food is overlooked. I mean, your mom isn’t cooking for you anymore, and you actually might have to make a grocery list. Enter a series of problems, that, in turn, lead to weight gain: excessive alcohol consumption, decreased activity, less sleep, and stress.

So, when I started to fall subject to the unhealthy eating habits, I didn’t think twice. Most people I talked to about college warned, “beware the ‘freshman 15.’ You’ll miss your mom’s home cooking.” Indeed. The dimly lit lunch hall was my heaven! I could eat pizza *and* have an ice cream sundae every day if I wanted. I also had no one at the grocery store to say, “No, put that back. We don’t need it.” Similarly, no one warned me about the “senior 30.”

While this event probably isn’t common — and I may not have accumulated all the weight in one year, though I’m almost certain I did — it happened to me. I gained nearly 30 pounds during my senior year. The weight gain, an accumulation of stress (and other factors), turned into a cycle of bingeing on food and feeling complete disdain for myself. I quickly noticed that my clothes fit tighter and that I felt lethargic. I made no significant changes, but I added a few extra cardio days to my schedule. Then, those gym/cardio days became less frequent. My wardrobe thinned to a mere few pairs of sweatpants and oversized sorority t-shirts.

I was hiding.

IMG_3643
I remember looking at this picture — this was the “a-ha” moment. The moment I thought, “it’s time to change.”

 

In November 2015, I finally had enough. Nothing fit right. My sense of self-worth dramatically diminished. It was time to change. I began to follow at-home workouts on YouTube, while some I found on Pinterest. Many enticed me because I’d be able to burn that “stubborn” belly fat and “target” my flabby arms. I ventured to the Student Rec Center a few times a week and “punished” myself on the treadmill. “Run for as long as you can, as hard as you can,” I convinced myself.

When the weight wasn’t falling off, I decided to join Weight Watchers. I added vegetables to my diet, restricted carbs a bit, and tried to cut back on sugary foods. But, the restricting led to me sitting alone in my room eating a box of Oreos. The cycle continued on. Regardless of how I cheated the system, I began to see the scale move. In small increments. It was enough reward to continue. I stuck with Weight Watchers until I left for job training in Florida, where my situation only got worse.

Not only did I realize that I was experiencing depression — suicidal ideations, loss of interest, insomnia — I began to realize my relationship with food only continued to worsen.

img_7928.jpg
Yes, I’m smiling, but that doesn’t discount the exhausting mental storm that brewed inside.

I returned from Florida with extra weight — the 15 pounds I’d lost and the gravity of my deteriorating mental health.

To be continued…

****

My journey into a healthy lifestyle didn’t happen rapidly unlike the damage I’d done. In fact, the change moved at turtle-like pace. The progress I needed to make was daunting, exhausting and frustrating. It was anything but linear. And it was eye-opening.

I took many different routes to find where I’m at today. And so far, I’ve learned there’s no formula or map or cookie-cutter shape that works for everyone. The process varies and so do the results. (I found this disappointing because I was hoping to look like an airbrushed model at the end of this.) The diet/fitness industry will convince you that their way is the only way. Breaking news: there is no “right” way.

This is a reminder to stay true to yourself, listen to your gut, and find what works best for you. That’s what I hope for you. Throughout this series, in which I’ll walk you through my own fitness/health findings, I hope to inspire you to make small changes in your life. Maybe you’ve been waiting for the perfect moment or something to guide you along.

I hope to share the tips and tricks I’ve learned along the way and the struggles I’ve had, too. My “journey” is far from over, it’s just beginning. I hope yours is, too.

Below is this week’s call to action! 

If you are struggling to make healthy changes in your life, here’s a few ways to get started.

  1. Open a journal (or grab a piece of paper/your smartphone). Take five minutes to write down where you see yourself in a year. If everything went according to your plan, where would you be, how would you look, how would you feel?
  2. Revert back to question one. Is the lifestyle you’re leading today propelling you in the direction of your goals? Could it improve? If not, why and how can you change that?
  3. Set a goal for yourself. Goals are SMART. For example, if you’re wanting to go from couch potato to marathon runner, your goal might be to walk or run-walk for 30 minutes twice a week.
    • Reassess your goals after a week. How did you do? If you didn’t follow through, how can you change to make yourself successful?
  4. Post a motivational quote or picture somewhere that you’ll see it every day. (Maybe set a motivational phone lockscreen.) Use this as a reminder to reach for your goals.

Ten Year Challenge: Blog Edition

Ten Year Challenge: Blog Edition

By Heather Nelson

It’s 2009. High school is simultaneously the best and worst thing ever. The Jonas Brothers and Hannah Montana dominate airwaves everywhere. (Don’t lie, they’re catchy.) Barack Obama enters his second year in the White House. Adult life hasn’t quite hit, yet, and it’s actually perfect this way.

I’ve been reflecting on what my life was like in 2009 since the “Ten Year Challenge” sparked popularity on social media. I’ve changed in the ten years that passed (of course), and yet, I still feel like a 16 year old some days.

s5000485
I was a really cool 16-year-old and basically my interests have not changed much.

I’m a sucker for reminiscing, so why not create the “Ten Year Challenge” blog-edition?

Sports

Well, 2009 wasn’t exactly *the year* for my sports teams.

The Kansas Jayhawks men’s basketball team, after winning a National Championship in 2008, exited March Madness early. Kansas failed to advance past the Sweet 16. (North Carolina won the National Championship over Michigan State.) However, the team easily became one of my favorites. The squad boasted stars such as Sherron Collins, Cole Aldrich, Tyrel Reed, and Brady Morningstar — who returned from the 2008 championship team. Then the Jayhawks added Mario Little, Marcus and Markieff Morris, Travis Releford, and Tyshaun Taylor to the mix. It’s like I said, this particular group was my favorite. I loved watching them play, and I only wish I’d been in college during those years. WOW. I miss that crew. (It’s a shame that a team of this quality did not bring home a ‘ship for Kansas.) Needless to say, the Jayhawks’ future looked bright.

And baseball? Well, the New York Yankees took home the World Series trophy. So, I definitely wasn’t happy about that. I remember bitterly tweeting that “27 rings is too many.” Nope, not upset at all… The Red Sox finished second in the American League East behind the Yankees in 2009. The Sox earned a spot in the playoffs through the AL Wild Card, but were swept by the Los Angeles Angels in the ALDS. (I would’ve never guessed that nearly ten years later, Sox fans would be celebrating a fourth World Series win in recent years.) Oh, and I can’t forget to mention that the 2009 Sox included my favorite Red Sox player, Josh Beckett. The obsession was real…creepy.

josh
I lived and breathed Josh Beckett. I deeply cared about his statistics. Probably too much.

I don’t even want to mention football/the Super Bowl. A few things: the Pittsburgh Steelers won Super Bowl; the gigantic Dallas Cowboys stadium opened; Josh McDaniels was the Denver Broncos head coach — I wish to forget this ever happened.

At this point, I don’t think I was watching much Premier League soccer. But if I was, I wasn’t a Liverpool fan, yet, which is terribly disappointing. So, nothing to note here especially since Manchester United won the League.

Heather’s favorites of 2009:
1. Josh Beckett
2. Cole Aldrich
3. Jonathan Papelbon
4. Cristiano Ronaldo
5. Dustin Pedroia
6. Fernando Torres
7. David Beckham
8. Joe Mauer

Heather’s favorites of 2019:
1. Mookie Betts / Andrew Benintendi (tie)
2. Mohamed Salah
3. Mike Trout
4. Jordan Henderson
5. …Josh Beckett?

Music

My music taste has always been eclectic. I’ve listened to (and loved) almost everything ranging from musical soundtracks to Eminem. My music choices in 2009 reflected this wide range in music taste, but I can think of a few albums that I listened to almost non-stop.

I remember mornings on the school bus where I’d turn on my iPod Classic and hit “shuffle.” Listening to music on my iPod was how I started and ended long days — I was involved in several activities in high school, which often left me feeling stressed and worn out. Music helped me escape and focus on something else for a little while.

Jonas Brothers Concert 010.jpg
A selfie. Fake Ray Bans. And Jonas Brothers temporary tattoos on our face. Why?!

I’m still a music-fiend, but I’ve switched from iTunes to Spotify (I am a subscriber). I’ve curated playlists and discovered new artists thanks to Spotify. Music fuels my long runs and strength workouts and sometimes my commute (if I’m not listening to podcasts).

Heather’s favorites of 2009:
1. The Killers
2. John Mayer
3. Jonas Brothers
4. Ingrid Michaelson
5. Ryan Star
6. Lady Gaga
7. Kelly Clarkson
8. Miley Cyrus
9. Ke$ha
10. Green Day

Billboard top artists of 2009:
1. Taylor Swift
2. Beyonce
3. Lady Gaga
4. Black Eyed Peas
5. Miley Cyrus
6. Kanye West
7. Britney Spears
8. T.I.
9. Nickelback
10. P!nk

Heather’s favorites of 2019:
1. Kendrick Lamar / Childish Gambino (tie)
2. The 1975
3. John Mayer
4. Lauv
5. Ed Sheeran
6. Bruno Mars
7. The Weeknd
8. Ariana Grande
9. Justin Timberlake
10. SZA

Billboard top artists of 2009:
1. Drake
2. Post Malone
3. Ed Sheeran
4. Taylor Swift
5. Cardi B
6. XXXTENTACION
7. Imagine Dragons
8. BTS
9. Bruno Mars
10. Camilla Cabello

Social media

My parents said that I wasn’t allowed to create a Facebook until I was 16 or 17. I’d made a MySpace page at a friend’s house without them knowing it — all the cool kids were doing it — and my dad quickly discovered my secret. One day, I logged onto the computer and the MySpace page didn’t load. I was embarrassed when he confronted me a few days later, but he was saving me from being sucked in to a whole other world. I jumped on Twitter back in the days when no one had an account and people tweeted about what they were eating for dinner.

Now, I have just about every social media known to man and spend hours a day refreshing each newsfeed. (Get a life, Heather!) The one positive thing I can say is that I’ve met people online that are now my “IRL” friends. So, in a weird way I’m thankful for the weird blackhole that is social media.

A look back at Heather posts in 2009: 

*All of my Facebook posts are either about me doing homework or song lyrics.*

Ten years ago, I would’ve fantasized a different future (than the life I’m currently living). Ultimately, I’ve accomplished a few goals, learned more about myself, and refined goals for future-Heather. While I’m eager to see what the next decade brings, I’m not in a rush for time to move that fast. For now, I’m living life in the moment and savoring each breath, each sunrise.

Tell me how you’ve changed! What were your favorites in 2009? Have your tastes changed much? 

How to set attainable New Year’s Resolutions

How to set attainable New Year’s Resolutions

By Heather Nelson

3…2…1…HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Confetti blasts and couples kiss as midnight strikes on New Year’s Day. The dawn of a new year, and a new slate, await.

And with that new slate comes a series of “resolutions” that one sets each year — and likely forgets within a week of reciting.

If January is the month for goal-setting, February is the month for all those forgotten goals.

Hey, I’ve been guilty of the whole making-resolutions-and-forgetting-them thing. It’s something about the fresh start that excites me and makes me feel unstoppable.

At some point, though, I end up losing track. Last year, I decided I didn’t want to do that anymore. Instead of listing every goal for the year on a comprehensive list, set goals monthly.

I made this decision shortly after I had a talk with my therapist. She said there’s simply no way you can focus on making *several* changes all at once.

I think this is why resolutions often fail. It’s easy to keep consistent for a week, but life gets in the way. (And I become overwhelmed with trying to master 10 different tasks at once.) I’ve found it much easier to set monthly goals for myself.

This month I have three things I’d like to improve (and I picked one goal from different areas of life).

Physical: continue the next four weeks of Strong Curves by Bret Contreras

I’ve been doing this consistently already, but I’ve also been making the conscious effort to go to the gym after work. I know if I continue, I’ll be better prepared to tackle the rest of the program as written.

Personal: wake up 15 minutes earlier on work days & make my bed every day

I struggle to wake up for work, and I believe that rising earlier would challenge me. I’d be more prepared — instead of scrambling, running out the door — and feel a sense of organization from merely making my bed.

Food: make meals ahead of time; more REAL food, less PROCESSED food

If I can do this consistently for a month, I’ll spend less money on and less time worrying about food! Plus, I’ll feel a lot better….

As time goes by, hopefully, the goals I’ve set for myself will become habit and less of a task.

Remember: Goals should be SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-based).

Notice I didn’t set goals such as “drop 20 pounds in two weeks” or “quit eating cookies.” Instead, I made a few goals for myself that align with things that I already strive to do (or I wish I made a priority).

This week, I challenge you to write down a few things you’d like to work on this month. It could be folding laundry when it’s fresh out of the dryer, or spending less on drive-thru coffee…whatever you want! Write them down and store them in a safe space to assess at the end of the month.

The great news? Now, there’s plenty of time to set goals for yourself all year long. Who cares if you missed the January window?

Do you like to set resolutions? What is your technique for setting goals for the year? Let me know your thoughts.

The Road to 26.2: Why I Run

The Road to 26.2: Why I Run

By Heather Nelson

Here’s some of the responses I’ve got since committing to running a marathon: “You’re crazy!” “I get bored after running a mile!” “Well…good luck!” “A marathon?! Really?!”

The words of encouragement and well wishes make the 26.2 miles seem more real, daunting. I’ve started to feel more pressure, and I thought to myself, “Why am I running a marathon?”

It’s not entirely about the 26.2 miles. Sure, I want to complete a marathon in my lifetime, but it’s about how I feel when I run. This is something that most of my friends haven’t considered when I’ve opened up about running. I always feel crazy for liking something that a lot of people seem to despise. And, in all honesty, I don’t love every run. But running is just one form of exercise I’ve really learned to appreciate. It makes me feel good…

So, here are the reasons why I run (even if running sounds despicable to you):

  1. It boosts my self-esteem. There’s nothing quite like exceeding all expectations one set for herself. Two years ago, I never imagined being able to run more than four or five miles. I never would’ve run outside or signed up for races. Finishing a run leaves me feeling high — and that positive energy lasts for hours afterward. Runner’s high is real! 

    The greater the endorphin surge in these brain areas, the more euphoric the runners reported feeling.  — from ‘How to Achieve a Runner’s High’

    2. It combats depression/reduces stress. Depression takes away my desire to move. Gearing up for a run is normally the last thing I want to do when I’m not feeling my best, but I lace up my Brooks anyway. Running helps manage my depression. Acting opposite to my emotion is just one way I attempt to end the negative cycle. Distance runs help me to combat problems nagging at me — sometimes I simply acknowledge the thoughts and other times I actively search for a solution. Short, speed runs are perfect for clearing up aggression and tension.

3. I sleep better. The nights that I get the best sleep? Nights after I’ve exhausted myself with a run. I’m actually able to turn off my brain and just sleep.

4. It builds confidence. As mentioned before, I’ve achieved more than I ever thought possible with running. I solely compete with myself in an attempt to continually improve. Running allows me to grow stronger, more empowered with each step.  It’s as simple as that.

5. Running has taught me to be mentally tough. There’s nothing worse than running against the wind (except maybe humidity). A runner’s mind is forced to adapt and focus on overcoming obstacles. It’s easy to concentrate on the negative. Training the mind to dispel doubts is a runner’s biggest strength.

Running isn’t just great for physical health, it’s a great exercise for mental health, too. This is why I run.

The Road to 26.2

The Road to 26.2

By Heather Nelson

I signed up for my first marathon. That’s right — 26.2 miles. The full thing.

It’s been a dream of mine (what? I know…) to run one since I learned of the Boston Marathon in 2005. I was 12, then. The Duck Boat Tour took us down Boylston Street, the tour guide announced the street marks the end of the world-famous marathon.

Thirteen years ago, I wasn’t even kind of a runner. I hated running. I only ran because coaches forced me to during soccer practice. The coaches said it was “conditioning”.  I believed it was torture.

A few years ago, I picked up running (my favorite form of cardio) in an attempt to whip myself into shape. Running seemed like the cure I needed to catapult myself into “fitness.” While this wasn’t 100 percent true, I found that running became an outlet for stress. It started with short runs everyday. After I mastered the short runs, I signed up for a 5K, then a 10K…. Since then, I’ve finished a total of seven runs — three 5Ks, 2 10Ks (plus another one this weekend), a 10-mile run, and a half marathon. And I’m always aiming to better myself, to push myself.

If you run, you’re a runner. It doesn’t matter how fast or how far.”

  • John Bingham

I don’t run to “win”. But that’s the beauty of it — it’s just me and the pavement. At the beginning of the new year, I made it a goal to run a marathon by the end of 2018. As the months ticked away, I started to kick myself for not actually committing.

So here I am, 13 years later, prepping for an ultimate test. I have no doubts I’ll be pushed to my limits. Running isn’t for the weak. It’s a sport that demands so much from body and mind — that’s half the struggle. Ten more miles seems daunting in the moment, but with the right mindset it comes and goes with the breeze.

Through the next 15 weeks, I hope to share my experiences with training. The ups and downs. The lessons learned. The continuous trials of tackling 26-plus miles. One step, one breath, one mile at a time.

 

I look forward to sharing my journey with you. If you have any suggestions, questions, etc, feel free to leave a comment.

 

 

25 things I’ve learned in 25 years

25 things I’ve learned in 25 years

The clock struck midnight — February 1. My 25 birthday; halfway to 50; a quarter of a century, if I’m lucky enough to live 100 years. I half-expected a Cinderella-esque transformation at that very stroke of midnight. Instead, I slept. My 25 birthday? Like any other day. I should’ve dropped birthday expectations long ago, but there’s something about birthdays that excite me. You’re another year older, another year wiser?

I don’t consider myself an expert on anything, especially life advice, but I thought I’d share a few things I learned in my 25 years of life.

  1. You can’t plan the future (and, yes, sometimes that’s scary). 

For as long as I can remember I’ve been a “planner.” It eases my anxiety a great deal to know (and prepare) for my next moves. Unfortunately, it’s not possible to schedule out every second of life. It’s something that I’m still figuring out and accepting.

 

2. It’s hard to keep in touch with all of your friends/acquaintances…

but make sure to keep the good ones around. The ones that stick with you through the hardships in your life and are there to celebrate life’s joys with you, too.

IMG_7871
Some of my best friends (not all of them are pictured) live far from me. I miss them every day, but am thankful for Facetime, texting and social media.

 

3. Assess your values and establish them as priority.

It’s important to identify your values and prioritize them. You’ll refer to these values when developing friendships, relationships, starting new jobs, etc.

 

4. It’s OK to ask for help.

Seriously. Anytime, anywhere, any situation. Ask for help, if you need it.

 

5. Single life isn’t all that bad.

It’s during the times that I’ve been single that I’ve learned the most about myself. I’ve focused on self-love, my health (all aspects) and finding time for my passions. Embrace your single-ness, it’s not the worst thing ever (even if it feels like it sometimes).

IMG_7255
The joke is … I’m the single one in this picture.

6. Take time to discover yourself and your values/beliefs. 

This doesn’t happen overnight. And this might be something that you take time for regularly.

 

7. There’s not ONE right way to pursue wellness. 

Some prefer yoga, others prefer lifting. I’ve found that running helps relieve stress. After I picked running up a year ago — I took a long hiatus post-high school — and since then I’ve signed up for a number of runs to keep myself motivated. Find what works for you. Research. Talk to your doctor. There’s a plethora of ways to eat and exercise, you’re bound to find something that works.

Processed with VSCO with c1 preset
This is me at my first half marathon, which I ran in October 2017.

 

8. Pursue what makes you happy, not necessarily what will make you the most money. 

I will never forget this piece of advice my dad gifted me.

 

9. Find time to travel/explore.

Go beyond your comfort zone. Learn something new. Be a tourist.

IMG_6576
Saberseminar & Fenway & amazing friends.

 

10. Support a cause. 

Do some research and donate your time or money (or both) to something greater than you.

 

11. You don’t have to be religious to be moral/a good person.

 

12. Vote. 

Please.

IMG_1432
Me posting voting in the 2016 election. 😦

 

13. Regularly take “me time”. 

See above. It’s important to just relax and spend time treating yourself.

 

14. Learn to let things go.

It’s not worth hanging on to hatred towards someone or something (unless it’s the Yankees). Once I started to move on from past grievances, I felt better about myself. Also see: Kesha’s song.

 

15. Perfection isn’t real.

Still accepting this one. More on that later.

 

16. You never stop learning (if you keep an open-mind). 

My favorite thing, in the last year or so, is to check out non-fiction books from the library. Reading non-fiction allows me to expand my knowledge on a topic I already appreciate or want to know more about. Keeping up on current events is quick way to learn information about the world around you.

IMG_6622
I took time on my trip to Boston to visit several historical spots in the city. This included learning more about one of my favorite historical figures, John F. Kennedy.

 

17. Coffee is the lifeblood that fuels champions.

It’s never let me down.

 

18. Mental health is REAL.

Mental health is real. Mental health is real. Mental health days are real. Mental health should be treated like physical health. Mental well-being is important.

 

19. Conflict is a part of life. 

How does that saying go? “Life isn’t always easy.” …or something like that.

 

20. Take risks, even if you fail. 

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve failed when trying something new, but I suppose that’s a part of life. It’s like in basketball when you’re trying to shoot a three-point basket, but you actually airball.

IMG_3336
KU doesn’t know anything about missing a shot or two….

 

21. Don’t compare yourself to anyone.

Social media is super deceptive. It’s not hard to see someone’s life and make assumptions based off what is shared. Remember that every person is unique. There’s no “timeline” to life.

 

22. Don’t harbor regret.

It’s like the saying, “live and learn.” There’s a reason for everything — even if that reason was solely to teach a lesson.

 

23. Let ’em talk. 

Like the Kesha song.

 

24. Trust your gut.

Because it’s probably right.

 

25. You can do whatever you set your mind to.

Bring your ideas to life and act. Waiting for the “perfect” moment will get you nowhere.

IMG_0738
The University of Kansas was my dream school. Yes, my dream school. I let no one AND no thing stop me from attending. It’s the best thing that ever happened to me.