Happy swaps

Monday mantra: That dessert is not a temptation. Food is morally neutral. What you’re looking at is a choice. Choose wisely.

I didn’t post over the weekend. Why? Because I was a little bit ashamed. I didn’t follow my own advice from Friday- not even 8 hours later. The advice I give out, I couldn’t do it myself. But it’s made me more committed. It’s reminded me of the feelings I do not want to feel.

On Friday, we had a very light dinner. So light, that the BF was hungry again before he went out to grab some beers with friends. He opened a bag of corn tortilla chips as a snack and headed out. Then I started to get hungry, as I was catching up on the DVR. And I knew that there was an open bag of chips in the kitchen. The temptation was too great- I went, put some on a plate, covered them with some low-fat shredded cheddar, and microwaved them. They were delicious. If I had stopped there, I would have been fine. But sometimes, for me, it’s not the quality of the food- it’s the quantity. I just wanted more. So I got out the salsa and started eating more, just digging right into the bag. I ate probably more than half. After a bit, I was craving another texture that wasn’t salty & crunchy. I wanted the opposite. So I took the few frozen bananas out of the fridge and made banana ice cream with peanut butter & Nutella and a splash of almond milk in the food processor. Is it healthier than Ben & Jerry’s? Absolutely. Did it probably still have the same calorie count as half a pint of B&J’s? Probably. Did I need it after my chip binge? Definitely not.

As I felt too full, bloated, and gassy, I reminded myself that I hadn’t had a “binge” like that in a long time. And maybe I needed it- to remind myself how I do NOT want to feel. That’s why I don’t normally keep things like chips & ice cream in the house. But it’s a new day. A new week. And I am moving on.

I got into the gym early on Saturday before meeting a friend for coffee. And I took the pup on a nice long walk on Sunday, along with running errands. It was a productive and fun weekend. And that’s what’s important.

Today isn’t going to be about food though. It’s a little bit about exercise. But mostly it’s just about being happy. Are you happy? I was asked that the other day. And I had to hesitate. Because I hate my job, my finances are a wreck, every time I turn on the news the current events make me want to pull my hair out and SCREAM, my face is breaking out, I have very few friends here in Charlotte, a lot of weddings on the horizon which is stressful for travel and $$, I can’t afford to travel for myself or all the new decor I want for our new house at the moment, my relationship is going through normal ups and downs, I’ve had some recent medical mishaps, and I can’t seem to get into the gym as much as I’d like. If I’m happy- am I just ignoring it all? Or am I really not happy and just putting on a facade?

So I’m making some changes. And I encourage you to do the same. These won’t all happen overnight. And I know I promised a “trick a day” here but sometimes you need to take a look and see what works for you because maybe not all of these will apply. Here are my happiness resolutions:

  • I tend to complain a lot. It’s a bad habit. And we all do it- some more than others. But I am making a concerted effort to practice gratitude more. That includes letting go of any and all expectations (whether good or bad) and shifting my mindset to being grateful for certain things even if everything isn’t perfect. I’ll be writing down my three gratitudes before bed every night- and maybe I’ll even share them with you!
  • Getting outside every day. I spend so much of my life (like many people) inside. So getting outside on my lunch break even for just a stroll around the block needs to happen- every. single. day. Unless it’s raining.
  • Reading more. I love books. I used to crush a book a week when I was commuting via subway in NYC. I used to crush several books a week when I nannied and could read at the pool. Now I just had to renew 2 books three times just to finish one and start the other (I’m determined to finish the one I started last night before I have to return it since I can’t renew it again). It’s most likely because I watch a ton of TV. So I am committing to, unless it’s one of “my shows” (and yes I have many), I will pick up a book instead of getting sucked into a Say Yes to the Dress or Fixer Upper marathon (all of which I have already seen).
  • When I am watching TV, instead of mindlessly scrolling through social media, I will get up and do some yoga moves to work on my flexibility and strength. It also helps with all the anxiety and stress I’ve been feeling.
  • When I feel like I’m being passive aggressive or bottling up anger, just being upfront. It’s hard- and it won’t happen overnight- but working out issues is better than letting it build up and unleashing it at a not so opportune moment. I have a couple situations that I need to work on this with (with friends & coworkers)- so wish me luck! On the same note, if you can’t necessarily be upfront with a particular person about what’s angering you, vent to a friend! Just because you’re practicing gratitude doesn’t mean that you need to bottle everything up and pretend it’s all rainbows and butterflies. I find talking it out always makes me feel better.
  • When I’m super stressed? Whether at work or with friends or something totally unrelated? BREATHE. Inhale having your belly and ribs expand, and exhale with your chest collapsing. Repeat until you (or I) realize the world is not going to collapse. There is a solution. It’s not the end.
  • Smiling more. Sometimes I feel like I walk around with a perma-frown (or resting  bitch face) as it’s commonly known. Even just the act can cheer you up and no one wants to be known as the office grump.
  • Wearing more color. I have been wearing a lot of drab blacks, grays, and whites. I need to shake it up a bit- my next shopping trip will reflect that.
  • Keeping my work space cleaner. While it’s “organized clutter”, it may make me more productive. I started this on Friday and need to keep up with it!
  • Focusing on the future. I tend to dwell on the past a lot- I reply “what-if” scenarios in my head all day long. I am determined to think of tomorrow’s possibilities and the goals I have set ahead of me instead of the ones that have come and gone.
  • Calling friends more. I text me friends a lot- I’m normally the one that keeps relationships going especially since I’m the one that’s moved so much. But I want to call a friend a weekend to catch up- hearing their voices makes me so happy and you can talk about way more things than you can via G-Chat or text.

Here are some other swaps I found that could be useful if you are able to make them:

  • Instead of your annoying beeping phone alarm, swap it out for a fun song. I always loved my iPod player/ alarm clock but it’s broken and I haven’t replaced it. It made me feel so much better getting out of bed!
  • If you work from home, don’t do work in bed! Bed should be for sex and sleep- sit at a desk. It could be why you’re having so much trouble falling asleep.
  • Are you able to carpool? Do it! Driving alone can get boring and it makes our world a cleaner place (it needs all the help it can get). I can’t carpool to work but for sorority alumnae events like last Thursday’s, I will definitely keep this in mind! Pushing it one step further- if you’re able to bike to work, that’s an easy way to work exercise into your day and have fun doing it.
  • Set a bedtime schedule and keep it. If you wing it, your body will not be able to adjust. I try to always have lights out before 10. Thursday night, that didn’t happen and is maybe why the gym didn’t happen! I need to be stricter about it. We’re also going to try to bump that up so it’s lights out by 9:30- maybe then we’ll be able to get to the gym more often.
  • Celebrate little milestones (just not with food!) You might have a big goal- like losing 100 pounds- but every 10 pounds you need to treat yourself! Get a mani/pedi, buy a new pair of shoes, spend a weekend away. It all adds up! I’m celebrating my milestone of finishing real estate school with a weekend in Chicago!
  • Love yourself instead of criticizing yourself. You are your own worst critic. I constantly have to tell the BF to stop focusing on his physical faults! Everyone has so many redeeming qualities but they all seem to fall by the wayside when the negative comes into view. So be grateful for all the things that your body CAN do and all the things you have in your life.
  • Be honest with yourself. I’m the first one to tell you that my excuses are my own- I was too lazy to get to the gym, I indulged in a doughnut because I wanted one. Excuses are easy to see through and require lots of upkeep.
  • Screw fancy shoes that kill you. Remember my comfy heels? When you have blisters or your feet are killing you, it will be much harder to work-out. So watch what you wear, and if you walk a lot like I did in NYC to commute, have commuter shoes. There is NO shame.
  • Don’t over-commit yourself. I know we’re in the era of “everyone wants to cancel plans and Netflix and chill”. But I mean, don’t say yes to everything you’re offered. Commit to a realistic amount (1 event per night and leave yourself a couple nights off at the bare maximum) and don’t feel guilty for saying no.
  • On that note, plan out your weeks. Plan out everything you have to do! My life is made up of lists (both physical and digital) as well as my planner- if you procrastinate, it just brings on unnecessary stress. Speaking of- do your taxes! Do not wait!

I know that was a lot. But just writing down a “happiness game plan” was helpful for me. You don’t just have to bring on the new on January 1st. It’s never too late to make a change.

Friday’s food journal

Breakfast- 3 scrambled eggs, 2 pieces of toast with peanut butter 

Coffee

Lunch- salad

Green tea

Afternoon snack- banana & peanut butter

Dinner- Cauliflower “risotto” & pineapple. Then the above-mentioned binge-fest.

Saturday’s food journal

Pre-gym coffee

Breakfast- I am honestly blanking on what I ate- TBD. Probably eggs and something else…

Iced coffee & zucchini bread at Central Coffee Company

3 beers & a cup of sangria while out and about in NoDa

Dinner- Ramen from Futo Buta Ramen (one of our favorite places in Charlotte)

Sunday’s food journal

Breakfast- 2 whole wheat waffles with peanut butter, a banana and honey

Lunch- leftover cauliflower “risotto”

Snack- 3 Wasa crackers, 3 Laughing Cow light Swiss cheese wedges and some smoked salmon

Dinner- 2 BBQ chicken thighs, sweet potato wedges & Brussels sprouts & pineapple

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