Taking care of yourself

In yoga we follow the Namas and the Niyamas, things you should avoid and things you should observe, respectively. The first of the namas is “Ahimsa” meaning “non-harming” and it was the topic of discussion in my first class of 2016.

I walked into the practice with a sore elbow from an accident I had. The bruise was nasty and my elbow as still pretty sore, but I had planned on going to the class for a week and there was just no way I wasn’t getting into a handstand in my first class of 2016. A few painful downward facing dogs and handstands later, my elbow is now in worse shape then it was a few days ago (shocker).

This charming growing bruise and my instructor’s advice to be nicer to yourself, has brought me to the epiphany that is my new years resolution. It’s not to learn spanish, lose weight or learn the guitar (although sign me up for all of those, please). I really need to take better care of myself. When I’m sick I avoid the doctor, I’ve been working too much this past year and losing sight of the creative things I used to enjoy so much and time to spend with people I like. My resolution is simply to be kinder to myself. Spend my time doing the things that actually make me happy, with the people that make my life brighter and to listen to my body when it’s trying to tell me to slow down.

For this week that meant skipping yoga, making dinner for my boyfriend, a Fast Company subscription, much  needed wine and cheese dates for girl talk, leaving work at 7 PM and this blog post. Cheers to a kinder 2016.

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Aquathon

A couple of years ago I did a half marathon and it was like..ya know..meh. I dreaded the training for it (“No sorry, I can’t do ANYTHING tonight.. I have to run 10 miles tomorrow..”) and then when the actual day arrived it took forever to finish and after I did, I spent the day laying on the couch unable to, well, move (shoutout to the parents for the care taking and brunch!). It was definitely one of those checklist items. I did it, so now I can move on.

But I liked the atmosphere. I liked pushing myself and racing against other people and trying to do my absolute best. When I started dating my boyfriend a year ish ago, he was just starting to get into sprint triathlons. This seemed mildly appealing due to the change of pace (not just running) and how quickly it was over. But, the bike investments and other gear kept me away. (how people train for biking while living in a city is beyond me, I’m far too afraid of cars).

This year he got into aquathons (swimming + running) due to our shared dislike of cycling (i.e. we weren’t very good, we like to be good at things). After months of talking me into it, I finally signed up and ran my first race. It was a 500m swim followed by a 5K. I signed up a week before, and swam and ran a few times before the big day (super prepared, clearly).

I ran with Five55 Series in Grapevine, TX. They have a really neat group of friendly faces that compete in these monthly races. A lot of people know each other from doing them and I look forward to joining the clan. It’s sponsored partly by FirstWave, a gym located in Southlake, TX dedicated to triathletes.

The race went surprisingly really well. They are still working on final stats (technical errors), but I believe I got 7th overall in the swim (men + women) and 2nd in women for just the swim portion. Hopefully the run times and final stats will be up sometime! I’m pretty addicted already. It was a rush to sprint at the end and try to catch the guy in front of me and so satisfying to take a cold sip of beer after all the hard work.

I can’t make the September race.. but you betchya I’ll be back for October. The added bonus of it NOT being 105 degrees outside is too sweet to pass up. Please enjoy my pre-race awkward thumbs up below. How else are you supposed to pose in the most unflattering of attire (one piece swimsuit)?

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Setting a new goal

So I have a new goal and in true Finding Tiffanys fashion, I’m declaring it here to hold me to it.

In two years I want to be starting Yoga Teacher Training.

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I love yoga. It’s had a large impact on my life and I’d love to spread that joy through teaching. I don’t intend for it to be my full time gig (plus, I don’t know that I’ll ever be able to do the splits!) but I think it’d be a blast to have one or two classes a week.

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The thing is, it costs about $2,500 and 10 weeks of intensive training to get there. Yikes! My hope is that in two years as I continue building my savings and investments, I can also save to put myself through training. Furthermore, I’ve been doing yoga religiously for about a year. And I think in two years I’ll be experienced enough to have the foundation to start training.

So there you have it. Two years, Lydia as a yoga teacher. I’m really excited about this one! I think it’s going to be a fantastic adventure, and one I never would have thought would interest me one or two years ago. I love how goals and interests change constantly over the years. Who knows, maybe I’ll become a cross-fitter instead?

Anyhoo wish me, my bank account and my hips (and my back) luck!

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More sleep

Warning: This entire post is going to make me sound about eighty years old. I’d also like to say you’re welcome in advance to my parents for all the “I told you so” joy they will be experiencing during this read after countless teenage arguments about going to bed early, giving myself more time in the mornings and probably so much more.

Here we go.

These past two weeks have reminded me how desperately necessary sleep is for me to carry on as a (most of the time) sane, functioning human being. It’s hard not to fall into the trap of thinking, “I don’t have time for sleep!” and blame it for taking me away from people I love and my growing stack of to do lists, which I also kinda love. But the truth is, sleep actually helps me be more productive, think clearly, be nicer…all these good things and more that make my life more stress-free and frankly, me much more fun to be around.

It’s not like I’m even accomplishing that much by staying up until 1 a.m. every night. Half the time I just end up tiredly second-guessing myself about life’s important questions, like should my bookcase be angled a little more to the left…or to the right? (#movingproblems)

So this week, I’m setting some challenging goals for myself.

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1. I will be in my room (I have a room!) by 11 p.m. When I’m up piddling the night away, I feel like I’m not sleepy when the truth is I’m exhausted. Chilling out with a book or blogs, lights dimmed, will be a great use of my self-imposed curfew to relax and start listening to my natural body clock, all while getting some long-awaited reading time to boot!

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2. I will wake up at 6:45 a.m. – no snoozes! I started June with this goal in mind, but with every passing day (and late night) 6:45 becomes one, two and even three snoozes later. Invariably this leads to oversleeping completely and feeling more tired than I did waking up originally. I’m becoming an increasingly huge fan of starting my mornings slowly, and building in more time for journaling, devotions, running (we’ll see), drinking tea and more is such a great way to not only start, but feel ready for, the day.

I’m excited to get started on these goals that will help me on so many levels – more energy, more relaxation, more time for reading ( = more knowledge and inspiration), more slow starts, more time for self-reflection, more (potential) exercise, more…sleep.

Get some sleep

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This is going to seem like a strange goal for the week. But my goal is literally to get more sleep. Sometimes I’ll get in bed at 1 AM and not even think about the fact that I am getting up in 4.5 hours until the next day around 2 PM when I crash. This has been going on for months now and it’s just getting silly.

As you can imagine, this isn’t the best thing for my work life or career. I find it so difficult to think creatively and focus when I feel my eyes could close at any minute.

So yes. I want to work to get more sleep this week. I think that means timing myself for surfing the web, staying productive and just making myself get in bed around 10:30 or 11 PM to read a little before the lights go off.

I’ve read in the past and recently that people who get 8 hours of sleep a night are more productive, eat healthier, have better more efficient work outs and well they probably look better too. Plus, how can I be living intentionally if I’m too tired to get up and make myself a cup of joe?

With that said… good night.

 

Inspiration: Ahimsa

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I had an amazing week on my mat.

At Gaia Flow they always emphasize focusing on your own practice and not looking at your neighbor and try to do their practice. To not go further than you can. To not strive to go somewhere your body isn’t ready for.

Prior to my Wonderlust 2013, I assumed this didn’t apply to me and I jumped right into their hardest level courses just as fast as I can. It’s not that I’m an overly competitive person, it’s that I saw people doing amazing poses and was just like “Yep, that. I want to do that. Now. Right now.”

But now we’re post euro trip. As I’ve said before, I had to start back in the easier classes. The more I’ve stuck with these so called “easier” classes it the more I realized how I was becoming more flexible and more graceful in moving from pose to pose. It’s been kind of an amazing thing to be a part of. I’ve really changed my outlook on my yoga strategy and am looking forward to mastering those foundational poses and improving my practice. One of the girls whom I I have yogi envy of, stated that she has been practicing for 8 years. I, on the other hand, am going on 8 months. So can I really expect to be at her level? Hell to the absolute no. But the improvements I’ve seen in my practice just make me so excited to continue my yoga journey, one downward facing dog at a time.

The other reason that my yoga week has been so amazing, is that we are working on practicing Ahimsa this week. Ahimsa is practicing nonviolence. Do no harm to yourself or to others. Or as the image above states, peace with yourself, peace with the world. If you have love for yourself, you’ll spread that love into the universe. Every class you go to the instructor may have a different perspective, anecdote or suggestion on how to bring this into your life. I believe that taking my yoga practice a little slower is just one way to practice Ahimsa, but that’s just on my mat. The beauty and the goal of Gaia Flow Yoga is what you bring from your mat to your life. So one of my instructor’s provided us with this little nugget:

If you truly love yourself, you could never hurt another.

– Buddha

I just loved this and really connected with it. Because truly, if you love yourself, you know how important happiness and love truly is. So you would never want to steal that away from someone. Whether it’s a stranger, a close friend or a family member. I think this is just amazing inspiration and a great goal for yogis and non yogis alike. I plan on bringing this into my everyday life. Although I do believe I never purposely cause pain or harm to those close to me, what about those strangers you pass on the street or the barista at your local coffee shop? I wouldn’t say I’m ever openly rude to them, but why not smile, ask how they are, and actually care about their response? In the end, they’ll feel great and you’ll feel great.  (The practice of ahimsa also might explain why yogis are just so happy and nice all the time)

All that to say, my yoga practice and my instructors at Gaia Flow were such an inspiration for me this week. Now excuse me why I go drink a gallon of water to recover from last night’s sweat fest on my mat. TMI?

Found Tiffany’s?

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The foolish man seeks happiness in the distance, the wise grows it under his feet

– James Oppenhiem

I had a very Finding Tiffany’s moment the other day. My dad emailed me something about an impending family trip we are taking in May and referred to it as happening in “a few weeks.” I scoffed and said to myself “in a few weeks? There’s absolutely no way…”, my parents and their forgetfullness is just totes adorbs. And well, as it turns out May 11th is in fact just a few weeks out and as always, my dad was right.

Why is this moment so great? Maybe it’s all the yoga, new relationships or new work responsibilities  but I feel like I’ve been so lost in the today that I am no longer constantly waiting for what’s coming next or counting down the days to the weekend. There’s so much happening in my life right now, right this second, that time spent where I’ll be in five years seems wasted. Each day is presenting its own challenges, its own quirks, its own joys and its own sorrows. I feel I’ve been lavishing in each and every one and working each day to its fullest. Perhaps I should be planning a little more than I am (no need to remind me, Bank of America), but I’m okay with taking some time off from a plan to plan. Maybe I’m still on “Spain time” but this week I’m just continuing to focus on the here and now and loving each and every minute of it and those I choose to spend it with.

So, Tiffany’s found? Blog over? Not quite. The effort to live in the now while planning for the future will always be a juggling act. Plus, there’s always something to improve, something to strive for and something worth working towards. Which brings me to goal numero dos.

My other goal for the week is a bit more taboo in a sense and I actually considered not posting about it. I have come to the conclusion that I wish to lose weight. I’m not necessarily overweight nor chubby, in fact according to most BWI measurements I’m right smack dab in the middle. But there’s always been that extra 5-15 pounds that I just don’t think belongs on my body. So, I’ve decided to make a valiant effort for the first time in my life to make it go away. My desire to trim down has stemmed from several events. The first is Europe. I ate like a king and the walking tours simply didn’t provide me with the calorie burn I needed for all that pasta. The second is because my metabolism will actually let me shed some pounds (and with my 24th birthday rapidly approaching…) it’s only going to get harder as I get older. The fourth is well, I have several family and friend events coming up in the next few months and frankly I want to look damn good for those photo opps. And third because I want to see if I can do it.

The “I want to see if I can do it” is really my strongest motivator. Ever since New Years I’ve experimented with a multitude of tests for myself. The first was giving up all sugar, including the kind in breads, deli meat, past sauce etc. This wasn’t that difficult but mostly I found myself eating almost worse because if I found something with no sugar, but still high in calories, I decided that I deserved it. I also tested out the giving up of desserts. I tried this for a few months but when Valentine’s Day rolled around and I was on a first date, I simply couldn’t say no to a Lavender Vanilla milkshake and risk cutting the night short (which I have never regretted since the milkshake was the best dessert I’ve ever had and the guy turned out to be well worth the extra calories). And then it was just downhill from there. I enjoyed these little challenges to test my will power, something I thought was in the pits due to my escalating love of sweets. But I found that saying no was easy, and that days I ate well and put good nutrients in my body I felt amazing. Furthermore, I do not wish to be controlled by food nor cravings. I am also not a foodie nor a cook (and I can’t afford to eat out all the time), so eating to me is a means of getting energy and not being cranky, so I don’t really feel like I’m missing out on anything. A craving for chocolate simply should not result in maybe one, okay two, well maybe just four more halves, Snickers minis. I want to be able to think to myself ‘yes, I do want chocolate, but no it isn’t worth the calories or the terrible run I’ll have later.’

So for the next month or so I’m going to be eating cleaner. I have no real time table on this as I hope it will turn into an all over life change. And I just hate the word diet, as it leaves me with the bad taste of no carbs, starvation and desperation.

Plus, fruits and veggies are way more fun than buying a pair of Spanx. Now, I’ll be honest, I will be keeping some prosecco in my diet. I’m not a miracle worker here people.

Kicking a sweet habit

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Hello, my name is Sarah and I’m a functioning sugar addict. I was living in a world dictated by cravings that controlled when, how often and what I ate. I was never satisfied or “full” until having something sweet, no matter how small, after every meal. I couldn’t say no to food junk that was anywhere within about a 25-foot radius or if I was alone, stop eating it until it was gone, I felt sick or both. I say “functioning” because despite this weak spot, no, weak crater, I still ate relatively healthy, well-balanced meals and have always been one those much-hated people who maintain a pretty thin figure with low to moderate exercise. I know…disgusting.

I even–this is embarrassing–resorted to eating cookies for breakfast…on more than one occasion. Thinking back on those times I can’t help but hear Kate Winslet in my head from The Holiday scene where she sniffs stove gas after learning douchy Jasper is engaged, “Low point…low point!”

I’ve read plenty before how damaging sugar and even “healthy” or “natural” sugar substitutes can be on our health. So, after some fear and quite a lot of skepticism of my own willpower, I made the commitment to give up sugar for three months. That’s right, I haven’t eaten added sugar, dessert or even food with over 5 grams of sugar (if I could help it) since January 4.

Of course, I’ve been dreaming for April 1 to come around, trying to decide which dessert will be my first back in the game, and let’s not kid ourselves, is there really any competition where Sprinkles cupcakes are concerned?

Meanwhile, I was still dealing with quite a lot of compounding chronic issues that were really starting to bring me down physically, emotionally and mentally. After countless hours of research and doctor visits, I finally landed on some au natural health solutions that have made a HUGE difference in how I look and feel every day. In addition to taking about 16 supplements and drinking 90+ ounces of water a day, making my own soap with baking soda and rinsing each load of laundry with vinegar, this treatment plan also includes a strict (and temporary, thank God) diet. Interestingly MIRACULOUSLY enough, after not eating processed food, wheat/yeast, dairy, sugar and so much more for only just one week, my issues have all but vanished along with literally all my cravings (which people claim disappear when you just give up sugar, but mine held stubbornly intact).

So ironically, today would have been the first day I could eat sugar again, and I actually don’t even want any. Ladies and gentleman, this is what real freedom looks like.

Another fun side effect of this new diet is the unavoidable need to get creative in the kitchen. So I’ll be having some of those tasty results coming your way soon. In the meantime if this sounds familiar, you want to jump on my health bandwagon or are just plain curious here are my two favorite resources: I Quit Sugar by Sarah Wilson (the e-book) and Allergies: Disease in Disguise by Carolee Bateson-Koch.

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A Nickel For Your Thoughts

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The most magical thing about writing (and reading) is that moment of perfect synchronicity, when the reader goes “YES, me too!” I have this moment of understanding and connectivity with books and other bloggers (unbeknownst to them) often, and it is exactly that which has always motivated me to write as well. I can only hope that somebody stumbles across something I write and is encouraged, excited or if nothing else, left with a little more feeling of belonging than they had before. So it is with this hope that I broach a topic that has been weighing on me a lot lately.

I think I can speak on Lydia’s behalf when I say that healthiness is an important part in Finding Tiffany’s for us. When you feel 100% you’re better equipped to go out in the world and live life to the fullest. Whether through yoga, running, eating less sugar or finally making it to some doctor appointments, we’re always looking for ways to incorporate more of a healthy lifestyle.

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So…what happens when everything you thought was eating healthily turns out to be actually slowly diminishing your immune system?

I found out this week I’m allergic to nickel, among other things. I’m afraid I’ve grown pretty boring since then, since all I’ve done ever since is research what this means and what I can do about it (Did you now 15% of the population have some sort of nickel allergy?? See, full of fun facts). You see, nickel is in basically everything. Keys, jewelry, zippers, buckles, metal buttons, pens, paper clips, cooking utensils and pans, door knobs, hangers…It’s also in food: wheat, ALL vegetables (including my favorites, spinach and mushrooms), nuts, soy, oatmeal, tuna and beans. And of course my favorites: wine (only red, thank God), chocolate and beer.

I can’t tell you how confusing it has been to retrain my brain these past couple of days. Everything I eat (and enjoy) on a daily basis that filled me with pride for taking care of my body (minus the chocolate and alcohol) was actually building up against my immune system the whole time. Huh.

Why am I telling you all of this? Because I do firmly believe that having a healthy body is paramount to living a happy, fulfilled life. Because I believe that there ARE answers out there, no matter how many times you have to visit doctors who make you feel like a crazy hypochondriac. Because I want you to know that other people know whatever it is you’re going through, whether it’s people on our blog, another blog or a random message board. And hopefully, knowing that gives you some comfort. Helps you feel understood and accepted. Makes you feel at home, wherever you are, however you are.

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As my friend told me this week, after I kinda thought I was going to be murdered while using the sketchiest bathroom of my life in an otherwise fun, quirky place (Lee Harvey’s) only to look up and see someone else had already hit my feelings spot on with the words scrawled on the bathroom wall, “This bathroom is f****** creepy as s***”…..

….Life is all about the shared human experience.

Gaia Flow Yoga

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About two months ago I started yoga at Gaia Flow Yoga, a hot yoga studio in Addison. It’s been quite the amazing journey thus far. At Gaia, they practice with love. This means that we occasionally turn to our neighbors and say “I love you”..which really can feel a little ridiculous at times. But yoga is all about letting go, and letting go of feeling silly is certainly one of them. We are also taught to act with love and kindness, and to love ourselves. Love where you are today in your practice and love where it will take you tomorrow. When you walk into the room, you let everything go. To be distracted by work, friends or anything else is taking away from your practice. Each class is a gift you are giving yourself, and you should enjoy that gift. And it’s so unbelievably true. When I leave any of the five classes, I feel fantastic.

The overall point of practicing love is that the things you practice on your mat are to transcend into your day to day life. Every week there is something new for you to focus on during your practice and during your week, called Sadhanas (yamas or niyamas). For instance, one week was to not be greedy,  called Aparigraha. Each class I went to that week, the different instructor had a different interpretation as to how to practice it that week. It went beyond the typical money greed, and into bigger things. Perhaps to you it meant greedy with your time when you should be spending time cultivating your friendships and family relationships. Speaking of the instructors, they are all amazing and lovely people to be around. Really, everyone who attends the classes are in general, happy and nice people. But I mean, I guess we are all yogis, so how unhappy could we possibly be?

We are also a sweaty bunch. And I mean sweat – y. Oh my lanta. You leave completely drenched and your body begging for a nap. As I begin dipping my toe into more difficult classes, I am learning how weak I actually am. I’ve always had what I oh so affectionally refer to as “man arms” but despite the proud biceps and triceps definition I have gained from doing weights all year, those suckers aren’t getting me into a handstand. It’s all new muscles being worked, toned and pushed to their sweaty physical limit.

Practicing yoga has also had other affects on me outside the Gaia Flow room. I am even more interested than before in learning about other religions. Often when the yoga instructors mention a God they say “your god or my god.” I find this fascinating as it pulls religion into your practice without constricting your beliefs. I also find myself taking deep breathes when I get stressed, overwhelmed or upset. Taking a few breathes, remembering my practice, have taken helped ease stress in my day-to-day life. Another take away from Gaia Flow is they always say when we start warming up to notice the slight pains, any tightness or anything else out of the ordinary. Notice it and accept it. And then breathe into it. To not get frustrated with things you cannot change is huge for me. To not get frustrated but continue striving for more. I have also improved my diet since kicking up my yoga practice. You develop a natural desire to treat your body better (and being around super yogis twisting in all directions is definitely encouragement).

I suppose yoga isn’t for everyone, but I bet you’d be an easy convert. An activity that is physically challenging, emotionally enlightening and full of awesome people? No elliptical can quite give you that satisfaction in your workout and in your life. Well, now I must be off to my weekend warrior class to be impressed by those pretzels around me and to hopefully finally get into a headstand!

The divine light in me sees the divine light in you. All my love, namaste.

(see? I’m practically a natural.. okay so maybe I’m still mastering that downward facing dog..but no matter)

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