4 Steps to a More Organized You

Happy Sunday!!

I still feel like I’m getting adjusted to life with teaching responsibilities. It’s added just enough to my schedule that it makes my days and weeks pretty fast-paced. Which leads me to a topic I’d like to address: staying organized.

I had a conversation with two dear friends on Friday over lunch. We discussed how we “used to be organized.” In college I had it figured out. I managed my studying, set my priorities and I almost always felt like I was on top of things. Sure my responsibilities were far fewer than they are today, but still my classes demanded a lot of time and work, and it always found a way to handle that.

Then things changed.

Life is full of change and transformation. Stagnation is not healthy. Living things grow, transform and enter and exit various phases or seasons. This is good, healthy and normal.

Marriage, graduate school, family, friendships, housework, fitness, spiritual health. These are all endeavors that I have chosen and find tremendous joy in. But they place demands on my time and energy. It’s a constant challenge to stay on top of these endeavors. I’m so tempted to throw up my hands and say I just lost my organizational flare…but that’s a cop-out and a lie.
In reality, I need to re-learn organizational skills in each new phase of life. I’ll never be done figuring it out because my roles are constantly evolving!

So how do we do it? A few tips I’ve found myself to be re-learning:

1. Make lists. When you think of something as you’re falling asleep, grab your phone and put it on your Notes. When you’re in the middle of a task and you remember another task, just pause, write it down, and completes the original task before tackling that new one. We need a certain level of tunnel-vision to focus on one thing at a time, but when those thoughts and reminders pop up in your head, don’t ignore them. Just write them down and save them for later.

2. Deal with it the first time. If you can get something off your desk the first time it appears on your desk, do it. If the task is simple, do it. I find myself constantly tempted to procrastinate on the simple small tasks, thinking they won’t possibly take that long…and then I kick myself for letting the easy task be the one that trips me up.

3. Take a deep breath. Breathe in for 7 seconds. Hold for 7 seconds. Slowly exhale for 7 seconds. Now do it again. All of a sudden, you can take on the world, can’t you?!

4. Prioritize….honestly. It’s essential to be honest with yourself here. I find myself wanting to do my favorite tasks first, but in times when the to-do list is never slowing in its growth, it may be necessary to be brutally honest with yourself. Do you really need to bake those pumpkin protein bars, or will a store-bought bar be just fine, if it means you can use the time you would’ve spent baking grading exams, or even just hanging out with your husband. Evaluate and re-evaluate: what is my most important task right now?

Right now, it’s time for me to ignore the demands that will start tomorrow morning when I walk into lab, and instead of worrying or fretting, spend the rest of my Sunday relaxing with the love of my life. I’m so happy I get to be with him! And of course we will be watching Breaking Bad tonight! 🙂

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What do you do when you find your organizational skills starting to slip?

What’s on the docket for your Sunday? I hope it’s full of lots of time with the people you love.

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My Dairy-Free Experiment

Hello hello!

The past week has gone quickly and smoothly, with the exception of some digestive problems (more on that later), and I feel that I’m finally adjusting to my fall teaching and research schedule. Change is always hard and I always find myself wishing everything could just stay the same a while longer. But the truth is, change is good, it’s part of what shapes and transforms us and ultimately, the day I stop changing is the day I stop growing.

To address my digestive issues, I’ve begun a dairy-free and gluten-free diet. So far it’s helping…but I’m cautious to draw many conclusions just yet. I’m hopeful, but cautious. I’ve had a wide range of symptoms, and from my reading, a gluten sensitivity could explain all of them. I addition to GI distress, I’ve had dizziness, poor balance, intense muscle cramps and spasms, anxiety, heart palpitations and more exhaustion than usual. I’m hopeful that this will clear up my symptoms!

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Anyone out there experienced a gluten sensitivity?

More Than Numbers

The scale is a tool. One means of measuring progress. For a long time, it was my main tool for gauging how I was moving forward in my weight loss process.

At this point, I do not want to lose more weight, and my friends, family and doctors are all telling me to put on a few pounds. Still, I have anxiety about stepping on the scale and guilt if the number is higher than what I think it should be.

Changing my habits and thought patterns is freakin’ hard!

What is a thought pattern you have changed and how did you go about adjusting it?

Fitness plan for the Week! 9/2-9/8

Hi there!

I love reading others’ fitness plans and meal ideas, and part of the purpose of this blog is to have an outlet for me to share my eats and sweat sessions with all of you!

This week in fitness (a bit retroactive, but it’s never too late to get started, right!?:

Sunday 9/1: rest
Monday: 30 min strength training; 30 min elliptical interval workout from Housewife Glamour
Tuesday: 30 min treadmill run; 30 min elliptical interval workout (mainly because I wanted to read my magazine give my joints a break from pounding the treadmill.
Wednesday: 30 min strength training circuit workout; 30 min cardio (running or elliptical, depending on how my knees feel!)
Thursday: rest
Friday: 30 min cardio; min strength training
Saturday: 30 min treadmill run; 45 min elliptical

In light of my recent goals of gaining a few pounds to bring my BMI back up to a healthy range, I’m limiting my workouts to 60 minutes per day. This hasn’t been easy for me; I love being in the gym! Endorphins are my drug of choice. I’ve noticed though that my focus was simply not healthy when I was working out more than this. Instead of thinking of my health I was only thinking of my calorie burn. I want this mindset to be part of the old me and not part of me today.

You’ll notice that most of my workouts are at the gym. I’m a wimp when it comes to weather and my gym is just 6 minutes from my house, so I hang out there most of the time. I love to work out in the mornings, but of course my schedule doesn’t always work well with this. I’m still getting used to my fall term teaching schedule (part of my graduate assistantship) which includes two 8am classes. The days I teach early, I pack a gym bag and use the University gym when I get a spare hour during the day.

There you have it! Happy sweating, readers!

XOXO,
Beth
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What are your workouts this week?

What is your ideal time of day to workout?

How do you deal with toning down your exercise when you become out of balance?

Nice to Meet You.

Hi there! I’m Beth, a 20-something located in Pittsburgh, PA. I wear many different hats throughout my daily life, including wife, health and fitness enthusiast, amateur chef and biological chemistry research scientist. My journey toward health has involved a 45-pound total weight loss spanning from 2010-2013 and a transition from “hating running” to now loving my workout regimen and craving an endorphin high. I can’t imagine a life without fitness!

I grew up chubby. Some of my most vivid, earliest memories are of being told I was fat, or sitting with my friends and realizing that my legs were a lot thicker than the other girls’, or my tummy poked out in a way that nobody else’s did. Throughout high school, I reluctantly participated in sports but never felt truly comfortable on the soccer field or the volleyball court. It wasn’t a lack of talent that held me back; it was the fact that I couldn’t keep up with the other girls in our track runs and suicide sprints, and I always seemed to need the largest available size shirt and shorts. I remember several doctor visits in which I was told I should “lose a few pounds” or “focus on getting some more exercise.” In the middle of my high school years, my doctor brought up my high blood pressure as an issue of concern and even ordered several tests to make sure there was no underlying problem causing my blood pressure to run high. These visits burned themselves in my mind, reaffirming my poor body image and causing me to worry about my health, but I never had the confidence that I could truly change my health and appearance for the better.

My college days arrived in 2005 and I embraced a fresh start. I made friends quickly, immediately fell in love with my social and academic environment, and became engrossed in my chemistry major coursework. I had scholarships to keep and grad school already on my mind as a freshman. I was still unhappy with my weight and fearful for my health, but I learned how to earn the praise of my professors and stay at the top of my classes – and my craving for validation was satisfied.

Weeks after I graduated from college, I met the love of my life. We met at a Pittsburgh sports bar where we had both been invited to watch the Penguins with a mutual friend. Sparks flew immediately and we were “official” three weeks later. Mark rapidly became my rock and source of stability in countless areas of my life, but romance brought back the severe body image issues I had tried to ignore for years. I began to doubt my worth, placing too much value on physical appearance and telling myself I didn’t “measure up” because of my weight. These thoughts began bother me again, but this time they bothered me to the point of action. I started to actually focus on nutrition and regular exercise, subscribing to Weight Watchers online in 2010 and becoming a pro at calculating and recording every point I consumed. I joined a gym and singed up for personal training, learning to love strength training for the first time in my life.

The weight came off slowly but surely. There were many tearful nights when I wondered if my work would pay off. Many weekly weigh-ins that left me wanting to throw my scale out the window and many too-early wake-ups when I would drag myself out of bed and onto the treadmill. I could always see progress though. I would record my weight every Saturday, and regardless of the results, I tried to always look at the bigger picture – how far I had come since the beginning. In the midst of this, I started to realize that I needed a goal. Mark would ask me what weight I was shooting for; what number I would finally be satisfied with. I repeatedly ignored the issue. I couldn’t answer because I was afraid to stop. Afraid of no longer having the exhilaration of watching the number on the scale go down.

It was then that I realized that my goal would not always be the same throughout this journey toward health. Sometimes, the goal is weight loss. Sometimes it’s weight gain. Sometimes it’s shaving some seconds off my mile time. Sometimes it’s increasing the weight on the barbell. Sometimes it’s just being able to stay up on that damn stability ball for more than 2 seconds. Regardless of the goal, though, the purpose is the same: achieving balance, health and wholeness.

I’m so glad you stopped by, and I do hope you will stay with me as I document this beautiful journey.

XOXO,
Beth

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