Think Positive Monday: Good Morning

thinkpositivemonday

(Think Positive Monday: sharing tips and keeping me in line to live a happier and more positive life)

My typical Monday morning is very much like yours. My alarm goes off. I hit snooze about 3 times and then finally pull myself out of bed, mourning the end of the weekend and the start of another monotonous work day. I like to think of myself as a generally positive person, one who doesn’t even hate her job, but those days still come when you want to do nothing more than stay in bed.

Days like today when the wind is howling outside and you actually need an extra blanket on the bed. When facing the outside world seems impossible. Sometimes you just need a little help. 

Here are some simple positivity tips to help get your Monday morning off on the right track. These will help pave the way for a more productive and happy day. 

5 Ways to Wake Up Positive

RiseShine

1. Take A Moment to Relax

I am always rushed in the morning. I think that repeatedly hitting snooze I’m allowing myself to get as much sleep as possible. But then each morning turns into an Olympic event to get out of the door to make it to work on time.

Instead of sleeping til the last possible moment, wake up and allow yourself 10 minutes to just lie in bed. Don’t look at your phone. Don’t think about what you are going to wear. Don’t think about the stress that is waiting for you at work.  Close your eyes and relax. Try to remember your dreams or simply focus on your breathing. These easy ten minutes of mediation allow your mind and boy to wake up and be present in the now. 

2. Ask yourself, “How can I make today absolutely awesome?”

The day is new. Fresh slate. Full of possibilities. How will you not disappoint the day? How will you make today better than yesterday? A day to remember. Think about how you intend to make today awesome and stick to your plan. 

3. List three things you have to look forward to today

Being grateful for everyday things is one of the easiest paths to take to happiness. As you’re getting ready for the day or during your commute to work, mentally list three specific things that you are happy about today. Not tomorrow. Not yesterday. Today. Learn to focus on the small things and appreciate the every day beauty that surrounds you. Look at your favorite photo framed on your bedside table. Picture your partner’s smile. Enjoy the view on the way to work. You know…take time to smell the roses.

4. Get out of bed with a smile

Last week I shared all the ways a simple smile can improve your day, health, and life. Start the day on the right track! Even if you don’t feel like it, roll out of bed with a smile. There is no “wrong side of the bed”. 

5. Listen to your favorite music on your commute to work.

Blast it. Sing along. Be silly. 

Are you ready to take on today?

 

Easy Spaghetti Squash Mexican Casserole

spaghettisquashmexicancasserole
 On Wednesday I shared my tips on how to cook one of my favorite veggies, spaghetti squash. I promised to come back today to share my go to spaghetti squash recipe.

This meal is cheap and super easy to prep and make but is also very filling.  I need to say that it is impossible to make spaghetti squash, or any “casserole” for the matter, look amazing in photos. So you’ll just have to take my word (and Ryan’s) for it. 

This dish satisfies any mexican cravings you may have but fills you up with veggies, protein, fiber, and vitamins. 

spaghettisquashcasserole2

Ingredients:

  • One large spaghetti squash
  • 1 lb of chicken breasts (or other meat of your choice or go 100% veggie!)
  • 1 can of black beans
  • 1 can of chili beans
  • 1 can of green chilis
  • Taco Seasoning
  • 8 oz of Cheddar Cheese
  • Salsa and Greek yogurt (drizzled on top)

Directions:

  • Cook the Spaghetti Squash (follow these instructions if you don’t know how)
  • Grill the chicken in taco seasoning
  • Once the chicken is cooked, add the beans and the chilis
  • Spray a 13.x baking dish
  • Spread a layer of the spaghetti squash on the bottom on the baking dish
  • Add a layer of the chicken, bean, and chili mixture
  • Add a layer of cheese
  • Repeat the layers until you run out of ingredients
  • Bake in the oven at 350 degrees for 20 minutes
  • Top with Salsa and Greek Yogurt (our sour cream, but did you know Greek yogurt taste just like sour cream when mixed?)

 What do you like to make with Spaghetti Squash?

I’m headed off for a girls’ weekend in NYC! I hope you enjoy this crisp Fall weekend.

I’ll be back on Monday for another Think Positive Monday.

Do What You Want To

Last week defeated me in more than one way. I felt drained, stressed, anxious, and like I had no extra room for happiness in my brain. My happiness and spirtuality didn’t seem like a priority.

On Sunday morning, my husband Ryan, who had an equally grueling week, said, “I know you want to rush out the door, but just take 16 minutes to watch this video with me. It’s important.” The video opened my eyes.

I curled up in bed with Ryan and was introduced to SloMo, the eccentric 70-year old who can be found performing a type of Tai Chi on roller blades while blasting classical music in San Diego nearly every day. The 16 minute video about SloMo instantly changed my perspective and I found myself re centered and awake. Ready to live.

At first glance, SloMo appears to either be a crazy homeless man or a mentally handicapped person aimlessly skating along the boardwalk. But oh was I quickly reminded to not judge a book by its cover! SloMo is John Kitchin, a retired neurologist who abruptly gave up his career in medicine and moved to a studio near the beach to live out what he loves doing most, skating in slow motion on the boardwalk.

Before he transformed into SlowMo, John Kitchin lived an all too ordinary life, one that was overworked, over scheduled, and obsessed with money and material objects. He was lost and unhappy and  had turned into a self-proclaimed “asshole”. One day while working at the hospital, Dr. Kitchin met a 93-year old man who was relatively youthful and was smiling.

Dr. Kitchen asked him what his secret to living such a long life.

His response? “Do what you want to”.

Twenty years later a lost and unhappy Kitchin gave his life a hard look. He was living by society’s rules that hard work, making money, and buying nice things will make your life complete. Here he was depressed and frustrated – living a life that was 90% about money and only 10% about spirituality. He was ready for a change.

At this time he also began to start seeing things a little fuzzy. Faces were beginning to be a little out of focus for him. He made a spastic decision to quit his former life as a capitalist and live a life doing what makes him happy.

Fast forward to his life living in a studio apartment on the beach, living out his day creating art and music and smiling and high fiving passersby as he happily skates toward the horizon for hours a day. He’s made his own rules. He has discovered that his one-legged way of slow motion skating provides a way for him to experience a sort of religious ecstasy and a connection with himself, calling it The Zone.

At first he thought this was all connected with his mental breakdown and he was going to continue to lose sight of himself and deteriorate until it killed him. Seven years later he has never felt more connected, happy, or centered. “Do What You Want To” has become is mantra for living.

Is he on to something? Decide for yourself. Believe me, it’s worth the sixteen minutes of your day:

SloMo has reminded me to slow things down. Forget the rules that others are making for you and make your own. Simplify your needs. Find what makes you happy. Reframe your life. Do what makes you happy a little bit each and every day. I will like my life depends on it, because it does.

xoxo Katie

8 Ways to Motivate Yourself To Workout (when you really don’t want to)

8 ways to motivate yourself to workout

I try to exercise around 4-5 times a week, whether it be a run, a fast walk, or body pump or cardio class. I consider working out one of my top hobbies – I love the endorphins, I consider taking care of my body and brain a top priority in my life, and it’s a major stress reliever for me. Let’s also not forget that I have to balance out my intense love for ice cream, cheese, and carbs.

Yet, there are many days when the last thing I want to do is drag myself to the gym and workout for 60 minutes. I want to go home and just crash or be lazy.

exhausted-gif-1

I’m the queen of making up a million reasons why I shouldn’t go. It’s raining. I’m hungry. I should do laundry. I have cramps. I had a long day. It’s going to be too crowded. I will after I take a nap. I deserve a day off. I want ice cream.

I need a routine and I need motivation.

Here are my top ways of keeping myself motivated to work out, when I really really won’t want to.

1. Tell Yourself You’re Only Going to Workout for 15 Minutes

They say that 80% of success is simply showing up. As soon as I start a work out I almost instantly get into the “groove”. So by telling myself I’m only going to walk for 10 -15 minutes,  barely even pushing myself, I get myself started. My body starts to wake up after about 5 minutes and soon enough I  find myself running at full speed and nearing the end of a 45 minutes workout. I’ve never ever regretted a workout.

2. Reward Yourself

Set up small and instant rewards for yourself. For example, I tell myself that I can have uninterrupted couch time and binge on my favorite TV shows the evening after a work out. Maybe a long and relaxing bubble bath, a night free of chores,  or a bowl of your favorite snack is an incentive for you.

3. Bring a Buddy

A work out buddy holds you accountable and makes going to the gym seem like more of a social activity. Help each other, push each other. Make it fun!

4. Give Yourself A Results Goal

Print out a picture of a new dress or bathing suit you’d like to buy for the summer. Make the destination of you summer vacation the wall paper of your phone or work computer. Look at photos of you in a healthier state. Visualizations of goals I want to meet help me realize that they are in the near future – meaning I better get my butt in gear sooner rather than later!

5.  Put Out You Gym Clothes The Night Before (or wear them all day!)

If you go to the gym after work, pack your gym bag and put it in your car the night before. Or, if you can, wear a part of your work out gear to work. I’ve been known to wear my sports bra under my work day sweater or top (I work in a very casual office though). If you’re a morning exerciser lie out your work out clothes right next to your bed so you can’t miss them. Better yet, if you need a real push,  sleep in them!

6. Remember How Good You’ll Feel When You’re Done

As I said above, I never ever regret a work out once I complete one. Try to visualize how amazing you’re going to feel after your run. Those endorphins are game changers! If I’m tired – I wake up. If I have cramps or fatigued feelings – working out always improves them. If I’m feeling depressed or anxious working out helps resolve some of those issues. Oh and that sweet burn, toxin release, and feeling of accomplishment! Can’t beat it!

7. Stay Positive. Smile

This may sound obvious, or even a little cheesy, but nothing will kill your motivation like a negative attitude. I find that if I make a firm intent in the morning to work out after work and smile while thinking about following through with it, I’m much more likely to end up working out. By the way, smiling helps me when I’m actually in the middle of a run or a body pump class as well. When I feel like I can’t push anymore, I break out in a big smile and it helps to open up my brain a little. (Remember mind over matter) Try it.

To help you smile here is a totally weird gif of poodles and “she poodle” doing aerobics:

workout poodles silly weird

8. Think About The Money Being Wasted

Think of the money you are wasting by underutilizing your gym membership. I pay a monthly fee for my gym membership but I like to look at it as a per day charge.  My husband and I pay $72 a month – which comes down to $2.32 a day. If I don’t go for 5 days in a row – that’s wasting $11.60. I would never just throw out $11.60 on anything, or even $2.32. You’re paying for it, use it!

What motivates you to keep up with your workout routine?

xoxo Katie

 

 

Body Issues and Balance – Newlywed Weight Gain

It’s time to be honest. I’ve packed on a few pounds since saying “I do”. I’m a little embarrassed because I’m the healthy eater – the gym lover – the just say no to bread and dessert girl. But, I haven’t been saying no lately.

It’s not terrible , roughly 8 pounds, but my jeans are too tight, my face is puffy, and I just don’t feel healthy. The term “letting yourself go” makes me roll my eyes. I’ve always been body conscious. I generally watch what I eat and put in my time at the gym. I know what works for my body. When I’d put on a few pounds in the past 5 years, I knew exactly what I needed to do to get back into my skinny jeans. But for the past five months, I just can’t seem to find the motivation.

As it turns out, mine is a familiar story. Research shows that the average newly married woman piles on about nine extra pounds over five years compared with a single woman. She is also exercising less.

This common weight gain, known as “the newlywed spread” hits in the similar fashion as that pesky “freshman fifteen”. Like that big transition to college, hello midnight pizza and binge drinking, that causes weight gain in freshman, newlywed weight gain is all about the shift in lifestyles and relationships. Since the wedding, I struggle to balance “me” time and “we” time. If Ryan wants to sleep in on Saturday morning, it’s far too easy for me to say “yes” whereas before I’d be attending my 8:30 a.m. kickboxing class. (and please note that Ryan and I do go to the gym together, just not as often as I should). Our time together is so limited, so I find myself choosing couch time with Ryan over treadmill and weight time for me.

Marriage has also influenced me in picking up a new hobby – cooking. Before marriage, I could live off of veggies, fruit, chicken, and pretzels. I now love finding new recipes to find and making Ryan happy with special treats and making sure he is well fed for his 13 hour days. Long gone are my single dinners of green bean. I can’t resist eating the same food that I’m spending all this time preparing and cooking. I’m cooking and eating creamy pasta dishes and desserts that I would never even imagine eating before. When Ryan goes back for seconds, I think, “well, why can’t I have seconds too?”

Looking back, transitions and weight issues have always gone hand in hand for me. I did gain the freshman fifteen. I couldn’t resist the ability to eat anything whenever. Not to mention, I never touched alcohol before college and then it became the norm almost overnight. After adjusting to the transition, I lost the gained weight the summer before my sophomore year by eating in moderation and working out.

My weight problems snuck in again when my life during senior year when I was preparing for another major shift – living in the real world.

I aspire to be an open book on this blog, so I will be brutally honest here.

I was under a ton of stress trying to finish my creative writing thesis. I had no idea what I was going to do after college. I felt like I had zero control over my life so I took control of my weight  to the point of developing a border line disorder. I survived on plain ice burg lettuce rice cakes, pickles, and carrots. Instead of battling my fears of life in the real world, I decided to make myself model thin.

Ignoring my worried friends and parents, I continued this way of life after my college graduation.  I cut myself down to a mere 500 calories a day and also spend an hour a day on the treadmill running my heart out trying to burn off double the calories I consumed. I got down to a sickly 116 pounds on my five foot eight frame and it did not look good.

I was not happy with my life. I had no idea what was in store for me. My boyfriend was still floundering away in college and I was using my expensive English degree working at a vintage clothing store and as a nanny. I was not living the life that I expected. I thought I wasn’t good enough and strived for perfection. Somewhere deep in my twisted mind I thought that “perfecting” my body would make me a better person. It was consuming my life.  I remember bunching up any skin on my hips and thinking “if I could just cut this off”. I was addicted. I was addicted to losing weight and exercise. I was lost in my own little world and had zero self-awareness of how I was treating my body, not to mention my soul.

As I moved forward with my life I began to outgrow my addiction. As I got more settled into adulthood, moved to beautiful Annapolis, got a fun job, and began to accept life more, I started to maintain a more healthy weight. I let myself enjoy food. I ran because it kept me healthy and was a good source of therapy. I learned how to eat and exercise in moderation and I learned how to care and listen to my soul. A year later I was at a healthy weight and living a happier life.

I’m not reliving this hard time in my life to say that I’m scared of slipping back into this unhealthy lifestyle, I’m writing this because it made me aware that I fully understand how transitions and weight gain/loss go hand in hand. I understand that I have to be mindful. I can’t imagine ever going back to the lifestyle of my 22-year-old self but it has taught me that I have to be careful with my choices. But it has also taught me that this shift in weight has a lot to do with brain chemistry.

During my “Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels days” I was miserable and felt worthless. I strived to be perfect in any way that I could. Now, 9 years later, I’m the happiest I’ve ever been. I’m content with my life and my body and excited for the future. Research shows that when you relax into a deep attachment to a mate, you have increased levels of oxytocin, the chemical in your brain that promotes bonding, maternal instincts, and arousal (oh hey!). This chemical will make you want to nest and bond with your loved one rather than follow-up your Pilates class with a 4 mile run.

This is why it’s the norm for waistlines to expand, mostly in women, after the honeymoon. I’m simply happy sitting at home with Ryan, building our home. I no longer feel the desire to turn my body into something unrealistic. I see thin girls and think that while it would be nice to know what it’s like to not have my thighs touch, I know that my body will never look like that.

But, there is a difference between unhealthy expectations and living a healthy lifestyle. I mentioned last week that I’ve been in a little bit of a funk. I’m also recovering from being sick and frankly I miss my almost daily “therapy” sessions at the gym. I’m ready to jump back in to my routine of being a warrior at the gym 4 days a week. I need to re-center and do what makes my mind healthy. I need to find healthier recipes to make at home.

Just like I had to learn in my early twenties, it is all about moderation. I have to learn to balance my happy nesting time with my “me” time. There is no doubt that this will lead to even more high levels of that “happy drug” Oxytocin. Let’s find out!

How do you balance living with a partner and maintaining a healthy lifestyle?

xoxo katie

Quinoa Pizza Bits – Healthy Snack

quinoa pizza bites

I’m a HUGE snacker.

I like to graze throughout the day instead of eating 3 meals. I also prefer appetizers to actual main courses. A night watching my favorite TV is not complete with out something to munch on. This gets me in trouble as it sizes me out of my skinny jeans.

I’m always looking for healthy yet tasty and fun snacks. There is only so many carrots and celery a girl can eat. I also would like the snack to be filling and nutritional. How many of us have sat and gone through an entire bag of baked BBQ chips and end up still starving? Or is that just me?

That’s when I decided to mix up and bake these Quinoa Pizza Bites. They’re fun (pizza!), easy, and healthy!

You get all the powerful benefits of Quinoa. In case you didn’t know Quinoa is a SUPER food which:

1. Is one of the most protein-rich foods we can eat.

2. Is FILLED with Fiber – making you feel fuller longer with fewer calories.

3. Contains Iron – to help keep our red blood cells healthy as well as increases brain functionality, regulation of body temperature, and aids in aids enzyme activity and energy metabolism.

4. Contains lysine – essential for tissue growth and repair.

5. Is rich in magnesium to help with migraines, reduce Type 2 diabetes, detoxification, energy production and formation of healthy bones and teeth..

6. Contains a high content of manganese – a powerful antioxidant which helps prevent damage and protect red blood cells.

 Let’s get cooking!

Ingredients:
1/2 c. uncooked quinoa
1 large egg
1/4 c. chopped onion
1/2 c. fat free shredded mozzarella
1 t. minced garlic
1 T. dried basil
1 t. dried oregano
pinch of salt
pizza sauce for dipping
Directions:
1.  Boil the quinoa and 1c. water and cover. Once boiling, reduce heat to low, and let it simmer for 15-20 minutes (until water is absorbed and quinoa is tender).
boil the quinoa
2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine all of your ingredients (except the pizza sauce) in a mixing bowl until it is well mixed.
quinoa mixed
3. Lightly spray the bottom of a mini-muffin tin with olive oil spray. Scoop ~1T. into each muffin tin.
quinoa baked
4. Bake them for 15-20 and let cool. Serve them warm with pizza sauce to dip in!
I’ve also dipped them in ranch and honey mustard for a twist! They are very filling and just 2 or 3 will fill you up as a snack. Enjoy!

Someday I Will…

thoreau dreams

Today I’m linking up with the fun and hilarious Taylor over at The Daily Tay. Her link up discussing all the things that you hope to do “one day” is the perfect follow-up to my A Daily Intent post yesterday. (By the way, today’s daily intent is to stay focused at the task at hand, you can join in on the fun over at twitter!)

The Daily Tay

I’m a big dreamer. I believe that having my heads in the clouds helps my feet continue walking forward on the ground. I’m still turning into the woman I want to be – there are some many things I wish to do and see and accomplish. Some are silly, some are big.  Here’s a little list of what I hope to someday do:

Someday I will wake up on a weekday earlier than 15 minutes before I have to leave. I would like to NOT feel like I’m a refugee rushing around her house collecting all her belongings while a gunman is waiting outside. Perhaps you know, brush my hair and check to make sure I got the drool washed off my face. (some days are that bad, I work alone most of the time, so don’t worry).

Someday I will not care so much about what others think of me.

Someday I will fill up my gas tank before it is on empty. Every damn time.

Someday I will learn how to properly meal plan and make an accurate grocery list, and not end up at the grocery store every other day.  Also to stick to the list so I don’t end up with mostly random things in my cart.

Someday I will live in a house on the beach.

Someday I will learn how to properly apply make up other than eye make up. I never wear foundation or concealer and never learned how to.

Someday I will write my book. My character is getting tired of waiting.

Someday I will travel to Greece. To France. To Africa, To Spain.

Someday I will learn to control my anxiety and not feel like I’m about to have a heart attack in certain situations.

Someday I will print out all my photos on my computer. Years of photos.

Someday I will be that super healthy woman – not this 50/50 one that eats pretty healthy but then stuffs herself with ice cream sundaes and Chex Mix.

Someday I’ll have a beautiful wrap around porch perfect for wine sipping, reading, and gossip.

Someday I will have my dream job and be amazing at it.

I would love to hear some of your “Someday I will…” items. Share below or link up with The Daily Tay!

xoxo katie

The Daily Tay