Monday, February 27, 2012

Discovering JP: Part 2

Finally getting around to Part 2 of what's been going on lately!  The fact that the 2 posts are so far apart should give you some kind of inclination as to how busy I've been and how I'm too exhausted to write at the end of the day.  I gave a heads up in Part 1 about The Art of Letting Go, but it's so much more than that.  This is gonna be a long we go.

It's amazing how we can just roll along in life thinking everything is dandy and then something comes along and creates ripples on the water.  The gears started really turning as I was sitting in a lecture called Surviving Life Transitions.  I in no way, shape, or form thought this lecture would be relevant to me (since our clientele is middle-aged, I just KNEW this lecture was going to be about mid-life crises and empty-nesting), but dang if I didn't come out with my mind really blown.  I guess I really didn't want to think about it, but I'm at a HUGE turning point in my life and this lecture really dredged up everything I have been repressing.  I've only got 8 weeks left here.  8 weeks before I am turned out into the real world.  School is really over this time.  It's time to start being a grown up.  And that honestly scares the crap out of me.  The lecture brought up this idea of "sitting in the hallway."  In order to truly move from one point in your life to the next, you have to sit in the darkness of the in-between.  And it sucks. Really bad.  But in order to grow, it's essential that you address the feelings that come up and just sit in the emotion.  I don't like it. Not one bit.  I liked my safe life before I started thinking about all the "what-ifs".  This phase is likened to the old saying about preferring the devil you do know to the devil you don't.

This is where The Art of Letting Go comes in.  Not only am I terrified of the next chapter when this one ends, I have a slight issue with being in control (maybe "slight" is an understatement for those of you who know me well...).     Unfortunately for me, true happiness comes from letting go -- the process of releasing what's holding you down. The first step?  Admission of powerlessness.  Ouch. Fortunately, when you let go, you allow more opportunities to happen.  Each person in class made a "let-go list".  Here's mine:

  • Resentment
  • Fear
  • Being in control 
  • Expectations
Expectations.  That's the one I just can't let go of. These lectures made me realize that I am not where I thought I would be at this point in my life and there's not one single thing I can do about it...except come to terms with reality and continue to surround myself with positivity.  I am forced to let go of the picture I had for my life and create a new one. For some, a chance to start over is ideal.  For me, I'd love to remain comfortable in the familiar.  Luckily for me, I am surrounded by wise and uplifting people and this came through just when I needed it:
I don't know where things are going from here and that's terrifying.  I have been blessed with this awesome experience and through my time here I have grown so much.  One of my fears is that I will outgrow some of those I love, then where does that leave me?  Last week, a friend of mine said something along the lines of, "I'm ready to press play on my life," and that's exactly how I feel.  Everyone else seems as if their life is on track and I'm just waiting for mine to start. My 2012 life plan was to hang out at the beach for 16 weeks, get a job, and get married and for now, it seems like only 1 of those things is a sure thing.  So for now, I'm left sitting in the hallway of the unknown.  Anyone want to keep me company?

Some quotes that are pretty relevant to me right now:
One can never consent to creep when one feels an impulse to soar.  --Helen Keller 
(My mom sent me this quote last week just when I needed it!)
People have a hard time letting go of their suffering.  Out of fear of the unknown, they prefer suffering that is familiar.  --Thich Nhat Hanh
Listen closely; there is so much to be heard in the silence.
When I let go of what I am, I can become what I might be. --Lao Tzu

Sunday, February 19, 2012


Today I have found myself needing to vent.  Which is unfortunate because that's not exactly the vision I had for this blog, but as it relates to being vegan and my life experience in general, here goes.

I'm tired of feeling like I'm being punished for being vegan.

It all started with salad bar day.  Last week, it was obvious that all of the guests with special dietary needs had gone home.  Usually when there is at least one other guest with a special diet, I have no problem finding something to eat (see my post about the brownies).  But last week, the pickings were slim.  Luckily, there were a few jewels hidden away in the kitchen and all hope was restored.  This week, not so much.  The dressings of choice were all cream based and there was hardly anything on the salad bar that was vegetarian, much less vegan.  On a Mexican-themed salad bar, that left me eating 1 corn tortilla filled with beans, corn, and salsa. No cheesy stuffed peppers for me! Talk about feeling low on the totem pole... (Yes, I do understand how hard it must be to prepare one separate meal or dish when you're preparing meals for 50+ and I'm lucky for the opportunity to enjoy these meals on a daily basis. But still -- frustrated.)

Today was probably the icing on the cake.  My parents were in town visiting, which was such a special treat!  Mom & I headed out for breakfast this morning.  Stopped by the hotel continental breakfast which was too much of a non-vegan overload for me and decided to head to a local cafe.  I had heard great things about the place -- and I'm sure it's delicious -- but I wasn't about to rack up a bill from the a la carte menu when the only things I could eat there were available at the hotel.  So, back to the hotel we went for a breakfast of a bagel, peanut butter, and a banana.  

For lunch, we ended up at Fuddrucker's because it was close, and that was OK with me because I knew they had veggie burgers.  Little did I know that I would end up with a veggie burger stuffed with bits of cheese and a bun slathered in butter and grilled. WHY?!  Sometimes I feel like such a diva complaining or making special requests or shutting down where someone wants to eat.  After all, I chose to have a "restricted" diet.  But I also chose a healthy lifestyle for me, and when I remember that statement, I remember that I have a right to be frustrated about this!  I heard someone here say once "I try to eat as close to the ground as possible and if I don't know what's in it, why eat it?". I have begun to adopt this way of thinking because it's good for me & it's good for the environment. (On a somewhat related tangent, I have discovered that Oreos are completely vegan and there is nothing creamy about that classic "cream" filling! Good for me in the event I ever have a craving, but terribly sad in the way of, "If it's not cream, what is it?". And more than once, I've heard "Well why would you be eating Oreos if you're vegan?". Being vegan doesn't mean I'm perfect, people! Yes, even I have flaws. I do love eating healthfully, but I do enjoy "junk food" every now & then, just like you -- don't judge.) Everyone else may think veganism is stupid, and that's ok, too.  But I deserve just as many food choices as the number of pattied options at Fuddrucker's.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Round 2

***See my update at the end!
Just finished planning out my Cardio Cross Train class for tonight and I'm ready. Ready to kick butt & take names.

Tonight, we will be doing a class similar to CrossFit: a set number of reps & intervals done over a certain length of time. Typically, the CrossFit WOD (workout of the day) includes cardio and some weight intervals, but we'll be doing simple cardio with body weight to keep things from getting too hectic. The schedule for tonight looks like this:

15 jacks
10 burpees
Run the length of the room 5 times

That's 1 round. We're going for as many rounds as possible in 10 minutes.

Jump rope 20 times
10 squat jumps
5 jacks

Again, as many rounds as possible in 10 minutes.

Depending on how I'm feeling & if the participants are still alive & kicking, I'll throw some power lunges in between the rounds.

For core, I'm doing 2 minute intervals.

10 plank walks
5 rope climbs

Push forward & backward in plank 8 times
4 full sit ups

Each interval for 2 minutes, as many rounds as possible.

What do think will be the reaction from tonight's workout. Stay tuned!
Try it out & let me know what you think!

I can't win -- they still complained!  Halfway through, they were saying how it was hard work & they wanted to stop. No!  After class, I all but forced them to tell me what they do like since they made it pretty clear what they don't. They like last week better!  So...back to square one next week.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Discovering JP: Part 1

And now, for the main event!  The blog I intended to write last week before I felt the need to vent.  But before I even start, let me take a quick timeout to say
The results are in and I am ecstatic to report that I passed that 6-hour monstrosity of an exam that determines whether I get that little thing called an MPH.  I can now rest easy and enjoy the final 8 weeks of my practicum!

I'd like to take another quick minute to extend this session of bragging on myself.  As I wrapped up my rotation in Lifestyle Management, I was asked to create materials for a new lecture topic:  Menopause.  Because the typical guest here is at least 45, menopause and the symptoms it brings affects many of our guests.  Weight gain. Moodiness. Hot flashes.  What can I expect and how do I begin to deal with it?  Those are some of the areas I attempted to broach and even made a handout for the men who find themselves dealing with menopause by default.  And I overhead our behavioral counselor saying the presentation I put together was "excellent."  So excellent, in fact, that it's on the schedule this week to be presented! Go me. :D

Now, onward!  Warning:  This post might get lengthy.  But it's all for a good cause.  I had no idea that so many lectures and life principles discussed here would be relevant to me, but I am on a journey of growth and self-discovery and am looking forward to the person who emerges from this experience.  

I'm thinking I'll split this post up and start with the shortest part first:  My vision.  In a class titled "Mastering Motivation", we created a vision statement.  We started by reviewing the 10 common mistakes when it comes to behavior change:
  1. Relying on willpower for long-term change
  2. Attempting big leaps instead of baby steps
  3. Ignoring how environment shapes behavior
  4. Trying to stop old behaviors instead of creating new ones
  5. Blaming failures on lack on motivation
  6. Underestimating the power of triggers
  7. Believing that information alone leads to action
  8. Focusing on abstract goals more than concrete behaviors
  9. Seeking to change behavior forever, not for a short time
  10. Assuming that behavior change is difficult
Then we created a vision statement for ourselves based on Simon Sinek's Golden Circle:  WHY you want to change, HOW you want to change, and WHAT it will mean.  We wrote these down on cards and had them laminated.  Here's mine:
I will become a practicing model of what I preach.  I will take every measure to become my fittest & best self -- able to complete any task or challenge.  I will be a model for others & live healthier longer.
It has been in my purse, but I have learned this week that it needs to stay in clearer view.  On the back is a mantra I came up with for when I am feeling weak:  Will I regret this later?  

Now I've shared my vision with the world, so there's no turning back now.  I have a vision in my mind of what I want JP to be, and now I have a vision on paper of what I'm going to be.  What is your vision of your best self?  

Oh yeah, and we watched the video below to give us a little kick in the rear ;)

Stay tuned for the next installment, The Art of Letting Go.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Sorry, Mrs. Roosevelt... were wrong.

If "no one can make you feel inferior without your consent" then why am I forgoing my original blog post because I'm feeling a little down in the dumps?

Not only do I feel like I've been thrown to the wolves, those wolves chewed me up and spit me out.  Needless to say, my first class at the new gym did not go so well.  I actually planned a pretty sweet circuit class, so the class itself was great.  But it was made apparent tonight that I have pretty big shoes to fill.  I didn't realize until I stepped into the arena also known as the aerobics studio that I was taking over an already-established class with a beloved instructor.  The fitness programming is undergoing some changes so the Wednesday night instructor moved to Thursday and I fell right into her old slot.  I'll never be her and my class style will never be the same as hers -- but try telling that to the wolves.  I felt like the outsider from the moment someone asked, "Are we not doing stations?" and the response to my "We are" was a glance at me, the clock, then back at me with pursed lips.  The energy was low and a few of the participants were giving each other "the eye" and I even lip-read "kinda boring"!  I'm sorry, I don't feel like I should be blamed if you're taking it easy.

Long story short, I'm going back next week and thoroughly kicking their butts.  At the end of every class, I always ask and welcome feedback and make it known that it does not hurt my feelings -- it only helps me to make the class better.  It never fails -- the eye-rollers and constant complainers never approach me.  With that being said, I'll adjust the class accordingly without their input.  Until then, I'm recovering by painting my nails, watching Glee, and enjoying a nice glass of vino.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

These Days

This weekend was UH-MAY-ZING.  Every day, I think about how blessed I am for this experience.  Thursday after work, we busted out of there and headed to the beach.  We spent most of our time there Saturday and Sunday, too -- I'm loving 70 degree weather in February!  Besides that, things around here have been pretty low-key.  Working my day away and going to bed early.  Typical intern life.
No beach day would be complete without views like this!

I'm in my Program Development rotation this week.  I really think this might be where I spend my last 6-8 weeks.  This week I'm researching some new recreation ideas and coming up with a vegan/vegetarian meal plan to be used in the meal planning class.

One of the part-time instructors here put me in touch with the coordinator at BreakThrough, a local gym looking to re-vamp their program.  She overheard me teaching a class and was quite impressed with me :)  I visited the gym last week & attended a class called "Cardio Cross-Train" that they want me to take over.  I'll start that tomorrow so there's an extra $25 in my pocket each week!

Nothing else too exciting going on around here, except planning for St. Patrick's Day in Savannah and eagerly awaiting the arrival of my girl Ginna Goode this weekend!

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Tough Day on the Job

Friday was probably the hardest day I have had here so far.  I was given a task that very emotionally exhausting.  This week, there was a guest facilitator for a workshop titled Overcoming Emotional Eating.  The guests who come here as part of the conference spend Monday-Wednesday doing typical activities, with a few lectures by the facilitator.  Thursday-Saturday, the participants are involved in more in-depth sessions and activities with the facilitator and meet as a group.  On Friday, we took a field trip.  I drove the group to Publix for a little shopping trip.  But not just any shopping trip.

Before we left, I was clued in that this was part of the workshop process to overcome emotional eating.  The group was going to have to pick out their "trigger" foods, talk about them, then put them back.  Just as we were walking out the door, the facilitator said to me, "Grab a pen and paper.  I'm going to need you to do a little spying."  Oh, crap, what am I getting myself into?!

Once the guests were partnered up & turned loose in the store, I was given a little more details about this experience.  My task was to keep track of some of the most important triggers mentioned by each person.  Then she dropped the bomb:  I was going to have to come back, buy all of the food, and the guests were going to be confronted with it the next day.

I felt sick.  What a cruel trick.  But, I was trusting of this process.  The facilitator knew what she was doing and I had actually seen this on a few episodes of A&E's Heavy.  The process of following the guests through the store was actually very interesting -- to listen to them talk about the moods and emotions they experienced and how they coped and tried to cover up their feelings with food.  It was a little jokey at first, as each guest talked about how picky they were -- there are specific brands, flavors, etc. that make the trigger.  Then things got a little more serious.  As each individual described not only what was in their cart, but how much they ate and the method to the madness, I felt even more sick.  Especially knowing they had such an addiction and I was coming back later to purchase their drugs.  It also made me angry, that as a society we have gotten to a point in which we are so emotionally over-stimulated and food has become so convenient and comforting that we over-indulge so easily.

The worst part?  I wanted to drive straight home & eat.  But I didn't. I couldn't let myself.  And I'm sure you're wondering just what became of this:

Whoppers, doritos, and pizza, OH MY!  

It wasn't so much of a cruel joke as an important step in the quitting process.  An addict admitting there is a problem and being confronted with it.  The guests were surprised with the food and then forced to face it.  In what I can only imagine was a very exhausting and emotional process, they then said goodbye to their trigger foods and buried them.  I wish all of those ladies the best in their struggle with food.

During the entire experience, I thought about a saying that I have heard here quite a bit:

There is not enough food in this world to cover up what you're feeling

If emotional eating is something you struggle with, remember this next time you head to the cabinet or grocery store:
What you're looking for is not in here.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Friday Gratitude

Today will be my last public post about gratitude, but I will do my best to continue journaling my gratitude each day and I encourage you to do the same.  It really has created a little stockpile of happiness for me!

I'm grateful for:

Human kind.  There is plenty of evil and hatred in the world, but today I was refreshed by the kindness of one of our guests.  The same guest who photographed me yesterday bid farewell to us today.  He said his goodbyes during lunch & left the interns a card and a little bag.  After he left, we opened the bag to find gift cards for each of us to cash in for a mani-pedi a local spa.  I still don't know what to say.

These guys.

And of course the mothers who birthed them!  Being in such close proximity to my niece and nephews when they were born was wonderful, but when I left for college, they just might be the ones I miss most!  They say and do the funniest things and it's hard missing out. But I'm so grateful they were brought into this world healthy & happy & spreading joy with their wonderful little personalities.

Gratitude: Day 3

Today I am grateful for:

The chance to meet amazing people.  I have met so many people with amazing stories.  Each person is truly unique and has given me much to think about.  Today especially, I am grateful for 1 guest who has been quite a treat to get to know.  He loves to take pictures and takes his camera on every outing. He somewhat hijacked our sunrise walk this morning and this is what I have to show for it.

Pretty sweet, huh?

South Carolina weather.  Y'all, not only did I not have to wear a jacket on the beach this morning, I went back to the beach in shorts after work!  In February! My life is pretty awesome.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Gratitude: Day 2

Today, I am grateful for:

The ability to sleep. Just sleep. Sleep late. Sleep in a comfy bed. I had every intention to walk the beach this morning, but my body planned otherwise. It just felt so good to sleep. It's no secret I could sleep all day if possible and nap wherever, whenever. I've even attempted to nap at my desk at work. Oops.

Wonderful chefs here at H3. This entire experience is one for the books, but the chefs make it even better. When I first arrived, I felt pretty bratty when I let the kitchen staff know what I did and didn't eat, and that feeling has kinda hung around every time they have to make a special dish for me because the normal meal being served isn't vegan. Luckily for me, there are others here this week with special dietary needs and gluten free vegan brownies showed up on the salad bar today. HALLELUJAH. I'm a firm believer that there is magic in chocolate and that brownie did the trick. Hats off to you, chefs.

Affluence.  Roll your eyes and call me a brat, but I'm not sorry.  I'm incredibly grateful that I have never had to struggle, never had to wonder how I would make ends meet or where my next meal would come from.  I try not to take anything for granted because I know there are countless numbers of people who struggle in this world each day.  So far, I haven't been one of them, and for that, I thank God each day and I haven't thanked my parents enough.  For me, it's not about being privileged, but about being blessed.