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Change or Die

This quarter I’m taking a class on designing for health change. It is a very creative class in which I get to interact with patients and prototype designs that will help them make lifestyle changes. As part of the class we are reading the book Change or Die which is full of great wisdom on making change in your own life and those of others. The reading this past week really stood out to me and was full of useful tidbits. Here are a few that I found particularly inspiring:

1) We continue successful behaviors and this makes it difficult for us to change. There is nothing wrong with enjoying being successful, but sometimes we need to move beyond our comfort zones.

Found this photo today and it is my motivation for the week. Can't wait to rock Ragnar in three weeks!

Found this photo today and it is my motivation for the week. Can’t wait to rock Ragnar in three weeks!

2) One way to spice up your behavior is to take on challenges that you’ll be bad at for a while rather than returning to pursuits you’re good at. Be proud of the things you are great at, but don’t let them stop you from try out something new. Who knows, you may find a new skill or activity that you rock at. Or you won’t rock. There is nothing wrong with that.

3) If you don’t feel at ease in your environment, change it! Find something you are comfortable with as it will entice you to return. Maybe the gym isn’t for you, but have you tried a kickboxing studio? Don’t be afraid to explore, this will just lead to awesome adventures. Worst case scenario – you have a hilarious story to tell your friends.

4) Find a mentor you respect and a community you enjoy. I can honestly say that if it was not for Kathy, the pace leader at my run club in Ohio, I would not have attempted my first half or full marathon. It was a happy accident that I found her, but one of the best things that happened to me. Because of her constant guidance and belief in me, I gained confidence in my running and was able to push myself further. This leads into the next piece…

5) Have a relationship with people who believe in you and whom you believe in. Do not put up with people who do not believe in you. You are awesome, you deserve nothing but respect and love from those in your life. Find people who make you feel good and avoid those who hurt or frustrate you. Life is too short to have toxic people in your life.

6) Learning and change aren’t one-size-fits-all phenomena. It is tough to read or hear someone else’s story and wish that it would happen to you, but that isn’t how life works. This is something I struggle with constantly, I have to remind myself that everyone finds change and motivation in different places. This doesn’t mean it won’t come, just that it may take a different form.

What have you done to make positive changes in your life? What pieces of advice do you have?

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Tell Yourself a Good Story

While I was at Fitbloggin this past month, I heard some really beautiful stories. I didn’t resonate with all of them, but one statement has really stuck with me. I was sitting in on the discussion, When You Have a Lot to Lose, and Nikki was talking about her weight loss journey.

Nikki mentioned that the story you tell is the one that others believe. And sometimes the most important story you tell is the one you tell yourself. When you wake up, rather than complaining about the time or the weather, say something positive. Look in the mirror and tell yourself one great thing about who you are and one great thing about what you will accomplish today. Because today you will successfully accomplish something.

Although I’ve had a tendency to be melodramatic in the past, these days I’m waking up with a new attitude. The other morning I woke up and thought, “I’m tired, this is going to be a long day.” But moments later I realized my foolishness, why say that to yourself when you can invigorate yourself with a few simple statements?

In fact, I used this tactic while running the San Jose half last weekend. I told Maggie about this theory around the half way point and we began to talk about how great we felt. I said that my legs felt fresh and I could go for many miles more. We shouted about how awesome we were. Then there was that one comment about how great my butt looked… Come on, sometimes you have to have fun with it. :)

So do me a favor, tell yourself something positive today. And tomorrow. Then keep the trend going and remember that you are an amazing specimen worthy of great things.

What story did you tell yourself today?

25 Things To Do Before You’ve Finished Being 25

A very close friend of mine recently wrote an article about the 25 things to do before you’ve finished being 25. Reading over it I realized that I have many of the same goals for this upcoming year. Tomorrow I will be turning 25 and I don’t want to go another year without addressing the items on this list. I’ve already gotten a start on many of them, but there are some I’ll have to go out of my way to achieve. Even if you are already past 26, I suggest taking some time to make your way through it as well.

1. Learn to do something that you always thought was physically impossible.  As Nike has famously encouraged – just do it.

2. Make peace with your siblings. You’re old enough to know better now.

3. Live somewhere besides your hometown (even if it’s only for a short period of time). This especially goes out to those who did not leave their hometowns for some sort of college or educational experience. In terms of character building, nothing beats moving somewhere totally new and building an entirely new life.

4. Start a retirement plan now. For serious. And put some damn money in it.

5. Fall in love. Fall out of love. Try not to leave a devastating wake in the process. Remember that in the long term, hearts (including yours) are like lizard tails; eventually they’ll grow back.

6. Don’t fight the quarter life crisis. This is your year! You can become a complete diva; just use your breakdown as an excuse to get away with it. Experiment with an entirely different personality and claim to be trying to “find yourself.” You could even totally freak and buy a motorcycle (because, honestly, no one’s got the cash for a sports car at 25).

7. Date some really crazy people. Actively seek out people who motivate you, who push your limits, who have weird jobs, or who don’t speak any English (and who may or may not be here looking for a visa). The stakes are uniquely low at this point in your life. Embrace that.

8. Live in a shared apartment with way too many people.  You’ll never want to do it ever again, but the experience will make for some excellent stories.

9. Willingly hang out with your parents. Go on a family vacation. Or at least try to visit more on weekends.

10. Learn some sort of non-work related “grown up” skill. Doing your own taxes is a good one. I’m personally learning to budget my money…

11. Learn to cook at least three meals from scratch. More specifically, aim to build up a portfolio of dishes that you can later whip out for dinner parties and dates.

12. Try a whole new look. Shave your head. Pierce your tongue. Get some crazy glasses. And hurry up, because at 26 these things just start to look silly.

13. Do something newsworthy. This could be for good or bad reasons; the point is to get your name in a blog, an article, some sort of fashion magazine, CNN, or whatever. Streak across a football field, instigate a Twitter war with a celebrity, quit your job and slide off an airplane. Whatever your crazy side desires. Obviously remember to clip the news and put it on the fridge.

14. Visit your best long distance friends. It’s been a while since high school / college / your old job / whatever. Try to see all those friends now before your responsibilities get even bigger and you’re actually too busy to go.

15. Reach out to someone you’ve lost touch with. Or be really bold and try to get in touch with someone with whom you’ve had a big falling out. Either way, make sure it’s heartfelt.

16. Commit to regularly spending time away from technology, modern amenities, and the rest of civilization. Aim for stretches of a few days, if possible. And make sure it’s somewhere without Facebook and working plumbing. It could be a camping trip upstate, a trek through the Amazon, or anywhere else that let’s you be briefly but fully disconnected from the world. But remember safety first – bring someone along who knows what they are doing.

17. Work up the nerve to ask others for the things you want. This includes your boss, your significant other, and your friends. Make it a habit. Stop being passive about your own life.

18. Commit to a new idea and invest time in developing it. It’s ok if you don’t know where the project will go in the end.

19. Successfully grow an herb / vegetable / fruit. In other words, actually cultivate it and don’t let it die.

20. Read more books. They’re way better for you than the internet.

21. Visit your grandparents and interview them about their life. And write down what they say! They are guaranteed to have so many crazy stories, which will definitely put yours to shame.

22. Learn to like whiskey. And how to order it properly.

23. Take more photos (and not just on Instagram). Like real, thoughtfully cropped photos. And if you do this digitally, remember to back the files up afterward.

24. Tell the people closest to you how you feel about them. Be honest.

25. Get really really dirty. Like “rolling through the mud and getting caked in leaves and sticks” dirty. Enjoy it.

And for some other great inspiring lists, see Thought Catalog’s 25 things to do before you turn 25 and 19 Things you should do before the summer is up. Please go over to Biz and Fizz and check out the other great articles. These girls are great writers and even better at giving advice on resumes, interviews, and dating (which I have plenty of questions about…).

What is the one thing on this list you are looking forward to doing?

NYC Marathon, here I come!

On November 4th, I will be traversing the five boroughs along with 40,000 of my closest running friends. New York is a city I have known and loved for years; it is where my parents were born and where I spent many of my weekends with my grandparents.  I knew that I wanted to do this race and hopped at the opportunity to run it this year.

Although I missed the lottery, I was invited to run as a member of the Blue Card team.  A bit about the Blue Card: the fund was established in 1934 in Germany to assist families who have lost their livelihoods as a result of the Nazi regime.  In 1939, the original founders of The Blue Card reestablished the organization in the United States to help those individuals who survived the Holocaust to start over their lives in the new country.  Today the Blue Card is a not-for-profit organization with the mission of providing direct financial assistance to needy Holocaust survivors who live at or near the Federal poverty level. For more information about The Blue Card including description of programs, testimonials and articles, please visit www.bluecardfund.org.

As you may have realized at this point, I am a proud (and loud) Jewess. But what you may not know is that I am the granddaughter of two wonderful and brave Holocaust survivors. It was their strength and perseverance that paved the way for my family. They are by far two of the most influential individuals in my life. It will be an honor to run in their memory and to help support others who survived.

To guarantee my entry into the race I am required to fundraise at least $1800.  I recognize that there are many worthy causes out there, but I appreciate every donation that you amazing folks can provide. I am also hoping to have a blogger bake sale and a super bad ass raffle to help me raise money.*  More information to come.

In other news, things in my part of the world are going well.  Classes are almost over for the quarter which means I am officially half way through with my program (as long as I finish my research proposal).  Being a bit foolish, I decided I wanted to start my internship almost immediately, so I won’t have any time off between the end of classes and work, but I couldn’t be more excited for this summer.  I’ll be moving into San Francisco for three months and plan to spend as much time outdoors as possible.  May all your summers be sunny and beautiful!

What are you running these days?

*If you would like to help support me in the bake sale or have an item that you would be willing to add to my raffle, please let me know.  All offers will be greatly appreciated

Things I shouldn’t do…

A random list.  Because lists are wonderful. Now for the things I shouldn’t do, these are all habits I’ve recently realized have creeped up in my life and I need to squelch as quickly as I can:

  • Eat late at night or within two hours of going to sleep
    Last night I was invited to a fantastic Yelp event which offered delicious and free food. I couldn’t turn it down. I went, enjoyed the samples, and returned home at 10pm stuffed. I had a great time, but it wasn’t my best life choice. No more eating late, I’ll stick with the early-bird special, thank you.
  • Boast about Tell people that I’m leaving Ohio in 47 days
    This legitimately bit me in the butt last week when a coworker, who had intentionally been kept in the dark, heard from an outside source that I was leaving. Why did I tell the other person? Because I’m foolish. Yes, I’m leaving soon, but it isn’t necessary to scream it off the mountain tops. I don’t want to offend anyone or get myself in trouble.
  • Blog, tweet, gchat, and dilly-dally while at work
    Yes, I say that as I write this at work. I see how it is slowly taking part of my 8 hours (a huge part) and that isn’t fair to my boss. He has been great about the fact that I’m leaving and I owe it to him to focus a bit more.*
  • Make excuses to stay in at night
    There was a time when you’d never find me in my apartment, I’d be out socializing. These days I make excuses to stay in, sit on the couch, and watch awful television (that I won’t admit to). Now I’m not saying I want to return to my previous state, but I need to get out more frequently. Enjoy my friend’s company while I’m still in the area and see less of my couch.
  • Pine after fried food (and chocolate and cookies and so much more) – 
    Yes, fried food is absolutely a fantastic thing, but it isn’t great for my thighs. I need to stop wanting things that I’ll be upset about after eating. Tater tots just aren’t worth it (must keep reminding myself).

Now for a more positive spin, how about a list of things I should do:

  • Continue to work out regularly – 
    A good habit I have, I work out at least five times a week and I begin to feel guilty when I take a rest day. Exercising is a drug and I’m hooked.
  • Take more time to run, regardless of the speed
    Since I’ve been doing P90X more frequently, I’ve neglected my running shoes. They deserve to go for a spin or two every week and I need to get back on it. My next marathon is far (seven months) away, but I can’t forget about it.
  • Be nicer to my mother (don’t tell her I wrote that…) – 
    My mother possesses the ability to get on my first and last nerve, I don’t know how or why but it has been this way for years. She has gone through a lot in the past. I need to remember that she is my biggest fan and wants nothing but the best for me. We’ll see how this goes when I return home for a week in July.
  • Cook more frequently – 
    I know how to, so there is no excuse for my eating out habits. This is something I need to focus on as I take the next step into my life and become a graduate student. I’ll feel more guilty spending money on a student budget.

So those are some of my bad habits in a nutshell. We’ll see in the coming weeks how successful I am at altering them to fit my life.

What habits are you currently changing? How do you combat bad habits?

Have you entered my Coach’s Oats Giveaway? Do it for a chance to win week’s worth of delicious oats. The giveaway ends tomorrow (Wednesday), so enter today!

*I closed my browser for quite some time after writing this. Must. Be. Productive. And yes, then I came back to finish…