I can’t believe

I can’t believe it’s been almost exactly one year since I’ve visited and used this space. My desire to journal ebbs and flows for a variety of reasons. But lately, all I can think about is writing down my thoughts.

I can honestly say the past year has changed me. (Can’t I say that about every year?) I am a different and stronger person than I was last year, both mentally and physically. I’ve also been through some pretty horrible times. I’ve had some great and wonderful times too.

My focus right now is on me and my family and finishing my degree. I feel more at peace with my present circumstances than I have in quite sometime. With that peace comes motivation and drive to be a productive contributor to every part of my life.

Random things update:

– Currently reading: Wheat Belly and The Brass Verdict

– Currently watching: I can honestly say I haven’t turned the TV on in over a week. By the time I get home at night I am ready to eat, crawl into bed, and read.

– Currently hoping: That the next few months come and go smoothly. That current circumstances I am in are temporary and will be distant memories this time next year.

– Currently feeling: hopeful, driven, peaceful…

– Currently excited about: becoming a fitness instructor again; kind of like journaling, my motivation for teaching fitness kind of fell to the wayside for a while, I’m happy to report it is back and better than ever

– Currently thinking: about my tasks to complete at work today, that I’m going to have a great workout this evening, and that things will happen exactly as they are meant to…no matter how out of control things may seem at times.

7 Thoughts

Wow, I cannot believe it’s been over a month since I written something to this blog. July went by like a whirlwind, and I was out of town for an entire week, so I guess that’s why it feels like it never happened. Today, August 9th, I am sitting in my NEW home, at my kitchen table, drinking coffee before work. I LOVE my new place. And I love the fact that I have a roommate again. I’m doing so much better than I was two months ago. I’m happier, less stressed and overall more satisfied with my life.

I came across this post this morning, and I thought it would be fun to use it as a template to write some things down. I am in no way perfect and happy 100% of the time, so journaling is a helpful way to get any kind of stresses or worries off of my mind.

7 Questions to End Your Week With:

1. Pleasant surprises of the week?

That I am capable of more than I realized at work. We had a few hectic days in the lab this week, and it really forced me to leave my comfort zone and step up to some responsibilities I’m not used to having.

2. What lessons did my work teach me this week?

Mostly, that my role in graduate school is a process. Nothing is going to be finished in 24 hours, nor should it be. There is a need for feedback, conversations and thinking before anything is made final or fully planned out.

3. Short-term and long-term goals still aligned?

I actually am pretty satisfied with myself on this front. My short-term goals (starting my dissertation, getting data for my September presentations and submitting an abstract to a conference by December) all are going to build on the much longer-term goal of earning a PhD and going into a solid post-doc position.

4. What could I have spent more/less time doing?

I definitely, definitely could have spent less time checking social media this week. I am very aware that a lot of my time is spent going between facebook, twitter, instagram or tumblr. I am going to try to unplug this weekend and see how things go.

More time could have been spent on my aims. I was really motivated at the end of the week, but for some reason, as the week progressed I started feeling a bit lost and not sure how to approach them. Hopefully I can get back on track today.

5. Fear and uncertainty?

Those two things, especially the uncertainty part, really affect me on a daily basis. I’m a lot better than I used to be, but decisions are sometimes still pretty difficult to make, and I think a lot of it has to do with trusting myself. I want to gain more trust in myself and hopefully a side effect of that will suppress some of the fear and uncertainty I still experience in my head.

6. What mental clutter can I clear?

Body NOISE! More specifically, constantly wondering if what I’m doing for my body is the right thing (what I’m eating, how much I’m working out…). Furthermore, I am having a hard time getting out of the comparison trap lately. I want to be assured that I’m not doing anything “out of the ordinary” so I compare my actions with those of others. UGH. So annoying and really wish I could de-clutter that.

7. For next week…

– Take my time when making plans, appointments, promises etc. Everything will get done in a decent amount of time, so there’s no need to stress or overwhelm myself before things happen.

– Be more open. Don’t shut down thoughts and ideas before you give them a moment to sit in your head. You never know where one might lead.

– Love myself. I know I am a smart, capable, amazing woman. I just need to live that way.

On My Fitness Philosophy

I’ve been around the world and back when it comes to exercise and being fit. There have been times when I didn’t know how to use a gym, when I thought running would make me thin, when I fell in love with Spinning, when I wanted to be a fitness instructor, when I thought low weights and high reps were the key to toning up…

And much more. And I’m only 25! In the past year, I can honestly say that I’ve come to a place I never thought I would be when it came to fitness. I workout a lot, I will admit that. But I love it, and 95% of the time, I know when enough is enough, when I need to take a break and I don’t beat myself up about it. Don’t get me wrong, I would be devastated if I had to take a large amount of time off, but I also know that life is not predictable and things happen that are outside of our control. I also know that after time off from working out, I come back stronger and more motivated than ever. (A lot of things in life are like that I think)

A little over a year ago I started going to a training studio that focused on TRX workouts and spinning. If you aren’t familiar with TRX suspension training, it’s high intensity full body workout that basically only requires your body weight and these nifty straps that attach to the ceiling. It is the most fun workout I have ever tried. For more information, I suggest watching a YouTube video about TRX.

rip60

Anyways, this place and this type of workout has changed the way I view fitness and the way that I workout. I’ve learned how to get the most “bang for my buck” exertion-wise, as well as how to break outside of my comfort zones in a smart way that shows improvement.

The way I knew this had changed my fitness life was when I started seeing improvements in my workouts that I did on my own. It’s one thing to make strides when you have an instructor guiding you and other class participants pushing along with you, but pushing your limits by yourself is a challenging thing. I think you have to learn what if feels like with the help of a trainer/instructor before you truly “get” what a hard workout really is.

I’m the happiest I’ve ever been with my health and fitness level. I took up cycling (which I’m planning on writing about) because of the people I met at this studio and it’s an exciting new endeavor that I would have thought to be crazy a few years ago.

I guess I wanted to write this post to document how I’m feeling in this moment in time. I’m amazed at how far I’ve come health-wise, and I am excited to get to move my body and gain strength as I see more results. I’ve learned to enjoy more things in moderation, break outside of my old comfort zone and become much more confident as a person.

I was a healthy person a year ago. But today, a year later, I’m at a place I didn’t know existed–physically and mentally. You never know until you try.

comfortzone

On Grad School: Part IV

Nowadays, I spend the majority of my days in one of three places: downstairs in the lab, upstairs at my desk or behind a microscope. When people ask me how I feel being done with classes, I have a pretty standard response: “It’s great, and now I’m finally doing what I came here to do!” Pretty generic, but also, pretty true. Sure, part of me misses the structure and predictability of the classroom, but I do NOT miss studying and taking tests.
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Getting a PhD is an odd life. I go from confident to completely stressed in only a day sometimes. It is a roller coaster of emotions that I never expected it would be. For instance, today, I’m having a good day. I felt productive, read informative literature and revised and sent a document full of ideas to my mentor. I’m mentally spent. But in a good way.

I felt like I’ve grown as a doctoral student more in the past year than I have in all 3 years in grad school combined. It was a struggle at first, I didn’t know what to expect, didn’t know how to ask for help or guidance, and confidence in my abilities was at an all time low for a very long time.

I’m finally gaining some perspective and I feel like I’m scratching the surface of the type of scientist/researcher/person I want to be and it’s both exciting and intimidating. I’m lucky to have a wonderful mentor who can usually bring me back down to earth when I’m on a stress spiral.

My main task at this point is to work with my mentor in the development of my dissertation project. A dissertation project should be a large body of work consisting of a few different studies that have a common theme. So, I’ve been reading LOTS of literature on a particular topic and finding ways in which to expand and elaborate on it. This is DAUNTING. But I’m making slow, steady progress and that’s what counts in grad school…patience, hard work, consistency and a little bit of faith that things are gonna work out.

 

On Grad School: Part I

For as long as I can remember, I wanted to be an M.D. Specifically, a neurologist. I wanted to study the brain, learn about the brain and know everything there was to know about the brain. I loved science from the moment I took my first biology class back in elementary school. I remember riding in the car with my dad one day and asking him, “what kind of doctor looks at brains?”, to which he replied, “Neurologists.” And from that day on, I proudly told whoever would listen that I was going to be a neurologist.

Fast forward 12 1/2 years, I am 24, and a graduate student in the Program in Neuroscience. Nowadays, I tell people I going to be a Ph.D. and a neuroscientist. In most cases, people assume this is the same thing or similar to an M.D. and a neurologist.

I guess I am one of the few people in the world who actually ended up doing what they said they were going to do when they were 12 years old. I’m studying the brain, learning about the brain and I’m going to know a great deal about what there is to know about the brain.

There was never a question in my mind that I would go on to continue my education after college. I think that was what my parents instilled in me from day one. They value education, and I’m eternally grateful to them for that. I am naturally a driven person and I thrive to achieve. Part of this is genetics, I’m sure, but a large part of it is from my upbringing. These personality characteristics are what brought me to graduate school. Achievement means a great deal to me. And so does ensuring my secure future.

I’ll write another post that is more about where I am in grad school now, but it was hard to start thinking about where I am now without first remembering what brought me here.

Until next time,

J

Inspired

I’ve been really inspired lately. Inspired by some of the amazing women out there who write blogs. I mostly read “healthy living” or “fitness blogs” but I like to think of anything I read as more about the person than any recipe or workout they can lend me. I choose blogs like I might choose a friend. Did I connect with that post? Do I find myself nodding my head in agreement? Did this post make me think? If the answer to any or all of the above questions is yes, then I make a point to continue reading.

I’ve enjoyed so many posts over the past few weeks that it made me miss my own experience with blogging. It makes me wonder how and why I stopped. I’d like to say life, relationships, and grad school got in the way, but I honestly don’t feel that any of those things are the complete truth. I think I had (and still have) a lot of growing up to do. When I started blogging I was a girl at the beginning of a road to recovery from a severe eating disorder. I was still vulnerable, but I was strong enough to share my stories, my experiences and ultimately where my life was headed as I got healthy again.

Here I sit, almost 6 years after first discovering the world of blogging and connecting with people on the internet and I desire to be part of this again. If only for the fact that I am a happier person when I write a little bit every day. But I also feel like we all have something to contribute and share, and I want to be a part of that too.

So…I’ve got less than 2 months left of my 24th year and I’m coming back, can’t wait to see where this goes.