It’s time // 6 week shred

I went to the doctor recently and had the dreaded weigh-in. I hadn’t weighed myself in a really long time, because I hate focusing so much on the scale and I honestly was trying to ignore the fact that I have not been very healthy lately. And if I’m really, really being honest, it has been a lot longer than just “lately.”

So I stepped on the scale and tried to ignore it, but then I couldn’t help myself – I glanced down and saw the number. And YIKES. Before my doctor even had the chance to mention anything to me, I went ahead and let her know that I knew it was time to get a grip. And instead of saying, “Noooo, you’re fine,” she said, “Well, at least you know it’s time.”

That’s when I knew. I knew this wasn’t something I could sweep aside anymore.

My big sister has been on the fitness train forever, and for a long phase of my life, I was too. It’s not a new lifestyle to me, but it’s one I’ve been far away from for a while. She, my mom, and I decided to do a six week shred program through Gauge Girl Training. My sister did another program of hers and really saw fantastic results. She is an engineer and food scientist, which makes me feel a little more comfortable paying for a meal plan. I know I could do all of this myself, but I felt like I needed a good kick in the rear to jump start my metabolism and get me back on track.

So Mom, Emily, and I all purchased our meal plans and started a group text to help each other, keep each other accountable, and give lots of support! Andrew is on board with me 100% and supporting me through the next 6 weeks of not going out to eat or having any alcohol (nerdy date nights in our future!). My meal plan is strict, specific, and designed to cut body fat quickly while maintaining lean muscle. I’m putting this all out here because I need to be accountable. And maybe this post might reach someone and give them the lift they need to know that anyone can do what I’m doing. I am nervous about it, but I know I can do it. I’ll be checking in over the next 6 weeks to let you know how things are going!

I went to three stores to get everything I needed to get started, and then got to work rinsing, chopping, cooking, and storing my food for the week. It takes a lot of work up front, but then you get to sit back and relax the rest of the week because you know exactly what you’re eating (plus, you don’t waste money on going out to eat because you know you are wasting money on the food you have at home if you do that). My first day was yesterday, and it went so well! I ate all of my food, drank a ton of water, and already my mindset just feels so much more positive.

6 week shred, week 1

Alllll the groceries. It’s hard to believe I’ll eat that much by myself in a week, but I did my math carefully. I also know from experience that each week will be easier to plan for, prep for, and stick with. It takes a little while to form a habit, but then eating well and exercising regularly just become routine.

This isn’t about being thin. It’s about being in a healthy range for my personal body. It is about feeling strong and fit, having a healthy heart and lungs, and helping myself live a longer and fuller life. After 6 weeks is up, I’ll continue to eat healthy foods and exercise regularly, but I will also be able to live a little, because life happens and you have to enjoy the chocolate and the wine and cheese here and there, too.

I have thought about that doctor’s comments several times, and instead of being angry, I’m so thankful that she gave me that honesty that I needed. And you know what?  It is time.  It’s time to really hold myself accountable, it’s time to do something instead of complaining about something.

And it’s also time to practice being nice to myself more often. It’s a fine line between telling yourself you can improve and telling yourself you’re not good enough. I’ve come to a place where I’m trying to just accept myself where I am. I can only do my best from wherever it is that I am standing. So this is me, right now, and this is the body that I am in right now. Hating myself won’t gain results. I just have to plan it out, stick with it, and cheer on my mom and sister as we complete this 6 week challenge together.

Wish me luck!

Goal Digger

The last few weeks, I’ve been putting a lot of thought and effort into goals and plans for the future.  I’ve been teaching my students about goal planning and resource management, so last week we discussed short-term, long-term, and even visionary goals.  I am always surprised to hear what some of my students’ goals are; many of them have general goals to go to college, be happy, get married and have kids, etc.  But then there are those students who write things like “One day I hope to become a child Psychologist, focusing in play therapy.”  Or students who already have their plan to start a successful business during high school, selling handmade items like key chains, dog collars, leashes, monogrammed items, etc.  As cheesy as it sounds, I know I’m supposed to inspire my students, but a lot of times it’s the other way around.

I have always been the person who loves to write things down, so lately I’ve been making lists of my goals and mapping out plans.  I recently started a couple of summer jobs that have already begun before school is out, so I’ve spent some time really planning out how I’m going to manage all of that and still stay on top of my personal and financial goals.  I was feeling so excited about my lists and my plans and my visions for the future.  Coincidentally, my best friend and talented photographer Whitney recently attended a beautiful and informative wedding photography workshop and was thinking about her own goals and dreams.  We discussed making vision boards soon so we can help ourselves stay focused on our dreams and goals.

I got this ‘AHA’ moment and had the idea to have my students create vision boards.  I rearranged my lesson plans to fit in two days of hard work.  I read several articles and tutorials online and finally ended up modifying this page to create my own instructions for my high school students.  At first, they were very typical high school students:  “Ughhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!  MISS WEAVER.  We have so many projects in here.”  “AND we have a test this week?!”  But the funny thing is, after about 15 minutes of really getting into their projects and planning out their pictures and what to include on their vision boards, they started feeling it.  They drank the Kool-Aid.

This is a picture of what I wrote on the board as their quick glance go-to while working on their vision boards.  The actual instructions sheet was much more detailed.

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Please, please, forgive me for the iPhone photo quality here – you can’t always grab your go-to photographer when you’re at work in the middle of the school day to come take high quality photos of your students’ work.  Here are some of the products of their hard work.

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I am so proud of those kids.  It really doesn’t matter what your goals are, as long as they mean something to you.  There’s nothing wrong with being driven and striving to accomplish personal milestones.  Just make sure to enjoy your life and your ups and downs on the way there.

I have always had big dreams, and sometimes I feel like I haven’t done enough – but when I look at my life, I’ve done some pretty awesome things and checked off some big items on my bucket list already.  Who knows what the next year or two of life will bring?  So I’m focusing on crushing my goals and also remembering to take care of myself and enjoy the ride.  There are a million paths to reach one destination, and that’s part of the fun of being a goal digger.

soul on fire

possibility everywhere
you got this
goals plans
small minds

 

Take it slow

I’ve been in a little bit of a funk the last few weeks.  I’ve spent some time hibernating at home, watching Netflix and not accomplishing many items on my constant to-do list.  Mindless time in between the packed schedule I can’t seem to trim down.  I’ve done a lot of that this winter, actually.  The cold months can have their perks, but most of the time I just find myself dreaming of the sunshine and stuffing my face with fruits and vegetables bottomless carbs.

I’ve been trying to figure out what the funk is all about, but I couldn’t quite put my finger on it.  Things are wonderful at school – I’m so happy to be back in the classroom – things are great in my personal life, the doggies bring me tons of joy (but they are destroyers of belongings as usual)…so what is the issue?  I hate feeling down in the dumps or sorry for myself, so this has been a long funk that also includes frustration at not being able to ‘fix’ it.

This past week was incredibly busy for me.  It was another one of those weeks where literally every day on my planner was full from 6:15 when I leave for school in the morning until bedtime.  A lot of it was stuff I wanted to do, with people I love, but by Friday  night I was completely drained and exhausted; I felt like I was 100 years old, and the weekend had even more commitments coming.  Someone very wise spoke to me about stretching myself too thin and needing to practice prioritizing and saying no…keeping some time in my life for just me.  That sounds so easy, right?  And some people are really good at doing that.  Trust me, this very wise person is not the first person to bring this up to me.  One of my problems has always been not taking enough time for myself.  I’m a social butterfly; I feel happy when I’m around others.  I feel most satisfied and productive when my hands are on a million projects and I’m working towards goals.  In fact, even with all of my plans and commitments, now that I’ve earned my yoga teaching certification, I still find myself thinking…what’s next?

My only resolution for 2016 was to take care of myself better – mind, body, soul.  This, to me, covered everything.  Sleep, exercise, nutrition, well-being, respecting myself, loving myself, improving myself…I haven’t done very well so far.  I end up trying to do too much and then I can’t do everything with 100% concentration or give things the full attention they deserve.  I’m not getting enough sleep, I haven’t been putting effort into feeding my body good foods, I haven’t been doing the things that usually bring me joy because I’ve been doing so much and trying so hard to get the next thing done that I’m not taking the time I need to enjoy my own time and just.  Slow.  Down.

After this wise person told me I needed to slow down, I tried to talk myself out of it a little bit and brush it off – “This is just who I’ve always been.”  I went to yoga class on Saturday morning with some girlfriends, and the theme was about this dilemma exactly – putting the needs of others before our own.  Doing things, or not doing things, because we are afraid to hurt someone’s feelings so much that we’d rather let ourselves suffer than just be honest.  That’s my work.  It’s something I have worked on my entire life.  I am a people pleaser by nature, and I love spending time with my friends, keeping busy, and making sure everything is running smoothly.  I am so quick to agree to doing things and feeling like I can do it all, but inevitably something falls short…and usually what falls short is taking care of myself.

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Newsflash to myself and to anyone out there with my same plight:  We are not designed to do it all.  We are not made to go a million miles per hour through  life, a tornado of do and go and keep pushing.  Another quote landed on me hard in yoga class tonight:  “And then there is the most dangerous risk of all — the risk of spending your life not doing what you want on the bet you can buy yourself the freedom to do it later.”  This is the only moment we have.  Nothing stays – even our breath, our evidence of life, has to be exhaled.  We have to enjoy every single right now that we have.  We have to learn to take it slow, to stop and smell the roses.

We’re all so busy trying to figure out the meaning of life, the one thing that we have been put on this earth to do.  We want to make sure we are making the right choices, following the right path, creating the right opportunities and relationships for ourselves.  We need to have all of the answers right now, and we need to get to all of our goals yesterday so we can start living the life we’ve always dreamed of.  But the truth is that we are already living our lives in every single moment.  If we allow ourselves to keep focusing on the destination, we will miss the entire blissful, broken, agonizingly beautiful journey.  We feel torment over so many things that we can’t control instead of just trusting that there is a plan already in place.  A lot of my friends are experiencing this same search:  who am I, what do I want, what is my purpose?  I have done a lot of searching for these answers myself in the past year.  These questions are important, but at some point, you just have to live your life and let the rest fall into place.  Take a break from trying to do everything, or figure everything out.  Just be still, and appreciate wherever you are and whatever is going on in your life that brings you joy.

This morning, when I opened my Passion Planner, the quote for this week read:  “There is no greater harm than that of time wasted.”  I agree with this idea, but I had to remind myself that slowing down and taking it easy to make time for yourself is not time wasted.  It is necessary in order to recharge and keep living a life with purpose.  So for this week, I didn’t make any plans that weren’t for me.  I’m hibernating again, but this time it won’t be time wasted – I’ll be going to yoga classes, relaxing, reading, cooking good meals, maybe taking a bath or two, getting to sleep on time, and hanging with my corgis.  And yeah, fine…maybe a tiny bit of mindless Netflix and fruits & veggies Dove dark chocolate.  It’s called balance, people!

Enjoy your moments.  Stop racing to the finish line, and take some time for yourself if you’ve been letting yourself fall to the wayside.  You need it, you deserve it, and you should make yourself your first priority.  It’s like the flight attendants say – put your oxygen mask on first before helping someone else.  You have to take care of yourself first.

I think the funk has finally lifted.  🙂

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As always, photo credits go to J Parker Photography – my beautiful and talented best friend.  

The Passion Planner: for those of us who are passionate about plans.

This one goes out to all my Type A kindred spirits…and to those of you who are maybe a little too breezy and need to make a plan for once in your life.

Around this time of year, it seems like life gets hectic – the weather changes, decorations come out, and the invites start rolling in for Halloween festivities, fall gatherings, and holiday parties.  Don’t get me wrong; I am not complaining.  I happen to be a gal who enjoys staying busy, and anyone who knows me knows that I love a good planner.  The truth is, holiday season or not, I generally have my hands on a few different projects, and I refuse to sacrifice fun events and time with my loved ones…so my schedule stays pretty full.  With recently going back to teaching and beginning my yoga teacher training, starting this blog, and writing an eBook with my friend Tony, I knew this year was going to be every bit as packed as the last few, and that I’d need a heavy-duty planner to get me through.  I try to be breezy and spontaneous, I really do.  And every now and then you might just catch me asking about last-minute plans or deciding to take a day trip to anywhere.  But the heart wants what it wants, and I can’t help myself:  I love plans.  I love lists.  I love writing color-coded, bulleted lists and crossing things off one at a time.  If that’s wrong, then I just don’t want to be right.

But whether you’re a Type A champion weirdo like me or a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants type of person, the bottom line is that we all have to keep track of our crazy lives, and in order to make sure I reach my goals and follow through on my commitments, all the while remembering everyone’s birthdays, anniversaries, and wedding dates, I have to keep up with a planner. (Or do I get to?!  Someone out there tell me I’m not alone in my passion for organization!)

Long story short, I came across the Passion Planner when a friend of mine shared a link to it on Facebook.  At the time, it was just barely getting started as a business, but I was hooked immediately.  This was the planner for planners.  This was the closest I had come to the planner of my dreams.  And it was only $30.  $30 for a whole entire year of my life mapped out on lined paper.  However, I had unfortunately just received a very nice Emily Ley planner for my birthday that I just had to have (not knocking those planners – they are also very lovely).  Thus began my wait; I couldn’t justify getting a Passion Planner when I had JUST received one…so I made the difficult choice to wait until my planner ran out this December.  And I was faithful…until my life really took a new direction in a lot of ways.  Time for a clean slate.  I made it a full 9 months before purchasing my academic Passion Planner for 2015-2016 and I haven’t looked back.

The creator, Angelia Trinidad, came up with the idea of the Passion Planner after she graduated; her aim was to help people achieve their goals and dreams through their daily activities.  The site has links to download undated, printable planner layouts for those who are strapped for cash, which you just don’t see much of these days.  The company also has a pay it forward program, where you can sponsor someone else with a planner.

Things I love about the Passion Planner:

  1. Each day goes from 6am-10:30pm, which is fantastic for someone like me who is up with the birds and stays busy until bedtime.
  2. Each day’s column is wide enough for a small sticky note, which I use to write out my lesson plans for teaching.  This saves me from needing a separate ‘lesson-planning notebook.’
  3. Each day has a spot for ‘today’s focus,’ so I can easily either create priorities for each day or remind myself of important events like birthdays, teacher work days, days for errands, etc.
  4. Each weekly layout has an inspirational quote, a box for ‘this week’s focus,’ and a box for ‘good things that happened,’ so you always remind yourself to express gratitude for even the smallest things.
  5. It has a nice silky bookmark to keep your place.  Enough said.
  6. It is a lovely, floppy, leathery-feeling planner and does not have a spiral, which I really appreciate.  Spirals get messed up so easily and they get in the way for those of us who are lefties!
  7. Each week’s layout also has a space for work AND personal To-Dos, as well as an open space for notes, reminders, brainstorming, etc.
  8. It has a monthly calendar layout as well as the daily layout – this is very important to me for reasons that are too nerdy and too lengthy to write about.
  9. Before each new monthly layout, the planner asks you to see what progress you’ve made towards your goals since the last month.  It might sound cheesy, but it’s one thing to have big dreams and quite another to make them happen – and that comes with planning and recording progress.  It has a whole brain mapping and goal-setting theme that carries throughout the year.
  10. Finally, the planner is good for whoever you are – whether you are a student, a parent, self-employed, or someone with a job who is just trying to get your life together…it works.

(I think it needs to be said here that the people over at Passion Planner don’t know me from Adam’s house cat.  They did not in any way sponsor or suggest this post.  I hope they don’t mind that I am bragging about them on my blog.)

So, if life gets crazy for you and your cell phone just won’t quite cut it for scheduling, the Passion Planner can organize your agenda, your goals, hopes, dreams, to-do lists, brainstorms, notes…really anything you could ask for.  It can carry you through the busy fall season, into the hectic holidays, and land you successfully into a new year.  Plus, it comes in two sizes so you can decide how portable you want it to be.

From a very early age, I’ve known I have a tiny bit a healthy bit of OCD when it comes to organization…but aside from my Type A tendencies, having old planners is like looking back at your old diaries – it’s an awesome way for me to look back at my life and remember important moments, see how far I’ve come, or realize how blessed I am to be able to max out this one beautiful life that I’ve been given.

Now I just have to find time to learn how to play the piano, get my Master’s thesis published, and get my PhD.   #goals

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(Had to throw in a corgi…props to Whitney Rizzi, my BFF and the mind behind www.jparkerphotos.com for these pictures)

Follow your bliss.

Is this thing on?

Hi!  Welcome to MAXOUThappy.  I feel like a first blog post is always going to be kind of an awkward leap, but here it is.  I started really thinking about my life, and life in general, a few months ago.  Very long story short, I was kind of in a dark and strange place, and I felt like I had really lost myself over the last few years.  I know what my values are, I know what I want out of life…but I hadn’t really checked in with myself in a while.  What do I like?  What are my hobbies?  Have they changed?  Have I changed?  What are my short-term, long-term, and visionary goals?  All of this was combined with feeling like I was being a big say-er, and not a big do-er.  I have always talked a lot of noise about writing a book, writing a blog, losing weight, being fit, doing this or that, and I finally realized that I was the only person who was standing in my way.  Sounds simple, right?  But it hit me like a ton of bricks.  I thought back to all the times I’ve ‘started fresh’ and tried to get on board with something new, and then it slowly but surely trickled away…and a song lyric popped into my head, as they tend to do:  It’s time to begin, isn’t it?  I deserve to just do me, and not worry about anything or anyone else.  This is my journey, it’s my life, these are my goals…so I decided to ‘start fresh’ and never stop this time.    

I felt like I had made a lot of excuses for myself, as we all do – and I’m not trying to put myself down here; it’s just the human condition.  The “I’m too busy”s and the “I’ll get to it later”s just pile up and before you know it, you have let yourself down and broken promise after promise to yourself…and as silly as that sounds, you should be the last person you break a promise to!

I made a pact with myself to be more of a do-er.  Try new things.  Put myself out there.  Be brave.  Try being more spontaneous and focus daily on being a happy and positive person.  Get in tune with myself again.  I got started on a lot of things I want to follow through on.  I started practicing yoga, I focused on being active, spending more time with myself, journaling…I made time for reading again, I began writing an e-Book about teaching with a coworker, I stopped being so crazy about calculating meals and calories and I drank some a lot of wine and ate some a good bit of delicious food without feeling guilty about it.  I started to seek out a really balanced life in all areas.  I made a huge career decision to go back to the classroom.  Finally, I enlisted the help of a sweet friend to create my logo and signature for this blog, and after several geeky and alliteration-heavy blogging brainstorm sessions, my lovely sister helped me find the perfect name for what you are reading now.

I watched a fabulously feel-good documentary called Finding Joe about the hero’s journey in literature and film…it’s all about going for what you believe in and following your dreams, even when you are afraid.  When you ‘slay your dragons,’ the film says, you have to face the deepest parts of yourself.  Once you can accept them, and even appreciate them, you gain the courage to move past your fears and “follow your bliss.”  Isn’t that what we all want?  To find our bliss – to be content in our lives and to be the best versions of ourselves that we can be.  Some people stay where it’s safe and comfortable so they never have to fail or feel pain…but that sounds like a cop out to me.  The day is today; the time is now.  If you wait until you’re ready for something, you won’t ever get wherever it is you are hoping to go.  The more times we fall, the more times we get back up, the closer we get to finding our bliss.  I have taken some pretty big leaps in the last little bit of my life, and it is scary as hell, but I also can’t think of a time when I have ever felt more alive or excited for what’s coming.

So…what does MAXOUThappy mean?  It means never settling for second best, never taking what you don’t deserve, and above all, maximizing every single aspect of your life – friendships, romance, fitness, health, work, travel, whatever it may be.  MAXOUThappy is about living and loving your life, but most importantly, loving yourself, because we are all enough.  Life is short, and we’ve only got one…we better live it to the max.

bliss