Staying motivated

At the beginning of this week I was feeling very frustrated with all the goals I’m working on. When you’re in the middle of your journey/progress I think it’s just natural to have those times where you’re just over it. I was just feeling very unmotivated and more so I was just wishing that I could just skip ahead to the finish line. I was thinking that, I don’t want to be in the “working-in-progress” stage, I want to be in the “I’ve-Arrived” stage. Maybe it’s the age we’re in, where we are so used to getting everything instantly. Hard work honestly isn’t as emphasized anymore, and in fact a problem I have living here is the entitled attitude. Why are we rewarding the “underdog”? Why are we rewarding the person who didn’t really try that hard, or who doesn’t really have the skill or talent, but has the saddest back story? Maybe I just sound like an awful, cynical person, but I always thought the one who tried the hardest, who had the most talent, the most skill, the most strength usually won.

I have just met so many people at work who roll their eyes at me going to school, and say there’s no point in wasting money on an education because they’re going to be famous one day. I don’t blame them. Why work hard and devote 4+ years to school, with all those student loans when you could become a reality star, or a musician? The reality is, no matter how hard I work at school or my job, Snooki and Kim Kardashian will always be making 10x more than me.

But back to the point, I am half way to many of my goals and yet I was still looking up how to stay motivated and deal with frustration online. I honestly didn’t read anything that helped me. Being an ex-psych major reading about Maslow’s hierarchy of needs did nothing for me. I’m sorry but a lot of those well-packaged descriptions of ALL people don’t explain the complexity of both individuals and a constant state of flux.

I realized on my own that my frustration was from comparing myself to others. This is one of the worst things you can do to yourself, period.

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I was comparing myself to people who are already living their best life; people who are traveling all around the world and having fun with friends and family. I was comparing myself to people who have lost 2x more weight than me and whats more, looking at fitness models on Pinterest. I swear women look at half-naked women more than men. My husband probably thinks I’m a lesbian that will run off with another women pretty soon. I was also comparing myself with people who have already graduated and working in good jobs and those people who always seem to fall into dream jobs with no degrees. But the quote I have above sums it up perfectly. Comparison is a killer of motivation and happiness.

If you stop and think about where you are now, compared to where you were 6 months ago, or even 1 month ago, how far have you come? How different is your life now? You may not be at your goal, but could you imagine if you never started your journey and were still living the way you used to? Feeling unsatisfied, tired, depressed, anxious, even hopeless. When I compare myself to myself, I see that my lifestyle is very different. Exercise is a priority to me that I really enjoy. I don’t eat all the crap I used to eat. I can’t believe how I used to eat. Now I see food as fuel, not therapy. I see food as natural medicine. I’m pretty sure my body now has choirs singing in celebration. I also can do more physically, carry heavier weights, walk longer, and now I’m trying to build up resistance to running longer. And having lost about 14lbs now I am halfway to my goal. If I hadn’t started, I’d be 14lbs heavier.

If I hadn’t committed to school a year and half ago, I wouldn’t be about to graduate from my Associates degree in 4 months. I wouldn’t be halfway to getting my Bachelors and being able to return to Australia to start my new career. I am a lot more productive now because I don’t waste time on useless things. When people around me are eating poorly I don’t participate anymore. I’ve even gotten to a stage where I finally don’t care what they think. I’m not going to let people bring me down because they are unhappy in themselves. My martyr days are over. And even though I threw out my back this week (probably from over-exertion doing weights), and I have to take a break from working out, I still feel reenergized to keep going.

So, don’t ever compare yourself to anybody else. There is absolutely no point in it. Comparing yourself to your own progress is the best  source of motivation to be persistent and dedicated to your goals.

Hiking in California

This memorial day I am grateful to all the vets who protect not only the U.S. but many other countries. I am not an American citizen but I have been living in California for about five years now, and I definitely have a lot of respect for anyone who volunteers their time and their life to the army. I don’t even agree with any kind of war, but lets keep politics out of a discussion for once and just be grateful for the peaceful countries we live in.

I also pushed myself to get up early today and get out for a hike at a nearby trail. I love hiking and like exploring many different trails. I used to live near a hike where if you went up the tougher trail you got to see a beautiful waterfall at the end of it. The hardest hike I have ever done is definitely Cowles Mountain in San Diego. It is very popular and really steep, so you’re trying to climb around this winding trail while dodging hundreds of people. Okay it’s probably not hundreds, but close. I am just not a fan of gyms, they are boring to me and I’d rather hike than be on a treadmill. Of course many people enjoy gyms more than the outdoors, but what’s important is finding exercise that you enjoy doing and becomes more of a favourite pasttime than a chore.

I am hoping to have a weekend free to drive up to Sequoia soon and see those amazing tall trees. Seeing Sequioa and Yosemite are definitely two goals of mine before I return to my beautiful hometown Queensland again.

Anyhow, here are some photos I took this morning on my hike. I used my iPhone this time rather than my DSLR camera.

Sycamore Canyon Park, Riverside, California

This hike has a warning for rattle snakes and sheep. Sheep? Where would these sheep come from?

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This hike is also attached to a beautiful park.

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In season for fruit

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The best thing about warmer months is definitely the fruit. Who needs candy when there is ripe fruit like strawberries, mangoes and peaches? Mangoes are by far my favourite fruit, and when I lived in Australia they were much easier to come by and buy in bulk. My dad even has a huge mango tree in his backyard, but the bats and possums usually get to most of them before I do. Overall, I could choose fruit any day over candy. Especially since I have completely changed my diet and started eating properly, I crave fruit and very rarely crave candy of any kind. I have cut out all sources of sugar from my diet except the sugar found in fruit. Sugar is definitely necessary for your body to function properly, and most energy, even in plants, is created by breaking down glucose. I’m not a fan of soda, and I have never liked fruit juice because I think that I would never eat 10 apples, so why would I drink the juice of 10 apples?

I’ve never been big on sweets anyway, but one thing I will admit that was hard to cut out was alcohol, possibly because I may be an alcoholic. Okay I’m far from being an alcoholic, but having a drink now and then is relaxing, especially on the weekend when everyone else is drinking. The sugar content of alcohol is through the roof though, and drinking would basically cancel any workout I did for the day, or any healthy food I ate. Not worth it. I’m okay being the dud at the party with my bottle of H20.

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I went full Aussie with this picture and used a plate with artwork of Birds of Australia by the artist Eric Shepherd.

I also know that all fruit has many health benefits, but being someone who is obsessed with the health benefits of the food I eat I had to look up the specific health benefits of my favourite fruit. I wasn’t surprised to read that mangoes are full of vitamins, but I was surprised to read that mangoes have an alkalizing effect on the body that can balance ph levels. It can also aid in weight loss by aiding in digestion and burning up extra calories. All the more reason to keep eating them!

Tea Time

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I thought I might take a break from school and share my love of tea. I love all kinds of tea especially Earl Grey and organic teas, but these are some of my long-time favourites.

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Ahmad Earl Grey is the most aromatic and flavorful Earl Grey tea I’ve tried. I first found out about it from my mum who drinks it religiously. You can usually find it at Middle Eastern stores; I found mine at a little Mom-and-Pop store up the street from me.

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This tea is a fancy version of chamomile tea called Love Tea by Pukka. It has lavender and rose petals in it and it’s gorgeous to look at and drink.

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Hope you enjoyed this post and my pictures.

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Strawberry Fields with Sprinkles of Cinnamon

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I had some strawberries that were starting to go to the dark side so I thought I’d add some to my greek yoghurt today. I also like to add cinnamon to a lot of things because it smells and tastes amazing, and it has numerous nutritional benefits. I was dealing with a low immune system and some related health concerns last week and it really made me wonder how much we can help cure and protect our bodies with food and natural remedies, rather than taking medicine, namely antibiotics. The misuse, and overuse of antibiotics is creating superbugs, and it scares me to think that they may not work one day when we really need them.

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I used a plain Greek yoghurt that was 140 calories, with a few cut up strawberries and sprinkled cinnamon on top. I think overall this would only be about 200 calories, which is pretty decent for a very filling breakfast, or snack.

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  • Contains fiber, calcium, iron and manganese.
  • It has the ability to kill certain bacteria, fungi and parasites, and it is used in food preservation.
  • It helps your digestive system, especially if you have an upset stomach.
  • It regulates blood sugar level, which is especially good for diabetics.
  • It can reduce bad cholesterol.
  • It can also aid in weight loss by slowing down the body’s process of breaking down glucose.

I’ve also been trying my hand at making different kinds of healthy desserts that I can serve to my sister-in-law and her husband who have been vegan for over a year now. I’ve tried making vegan cupcakes, and rum balls at Christmas time which turned out pretty good. Today I just made a very basic dessert of strawberries and bananas with cinnamon and dark chocolate (no dairy). The cinnamon once again kicks up the flavor and just makes it a simple and easy little dessert to have at family get-togethers.

Simple Ingredients

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End Result

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With Cinnamon

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So as you can see it’s nothing that’s going to change any lives here, and nothing that probably hasn’t been done before. I did think adding cinnamon gave it a nice twist though, but it depends on whether you like cinnamon or not. I also love to bake peaches and pears with cinnamon, and some honey. Peaches and pears aren’t fully in season yet though so I also used up some bananas that were getting too ripe. I just used the same basic idea again. Nothing to write home about.

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I sprinkled cut up banana pieces with cinnamon first, and then dipped them in the melted chocolate. The melted chocolate by the way was just dark chocolate squares melted down with a bit of water. I didn’t want to add any more sugar to the mixture.

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Bananas are very squishy as you know and hard to deal with so I used sticks to hold them up. It’s easier for people to eat them too. This would also be a good idea for kids birthday parties to have some healthier alternatives. Sprinkles definitely make them look more festive and fun. You could decorate them however you wanted with assorted sprinkles, nuts, or even edible glitter.

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Scrambled Egg with Spinach

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Ingredients:

  • Olive oil (optional). You can also use Pam spray that has no calories.
  • 1/2-1 cup spinach. Raw or frozen.
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • 2 eggs

This is a really basic thing you can cook in a few minutes for breakfast, or even lunch. You can even add different spices, and just use egg whites. I personally don’t see the problem in eating the yolk but it doesn’t matter either way. This is just really healthy and the spinach adds extra flavor and vitamins. You just have to whisk the eggs and spinach together and then fry them like you usually would. I prefer to use frozen spinach because it adds a better consistency to the eggs. Raw spinach takes times to really cook down and mesh with the egg. Frozen spinach also still contains all the vitamins that raw spinach does, and it’s more convenient.

Actions speak louder than words.

 

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So, most of my posts have had a very positive spin on them, because I feel like whatever you want to achieve you should be in that mind frame of success. Also, they have been things that I have learnt through the many books I’ve read, and through my own experience. However, this week I’ve really been thinking that my actions really aren’t matching up with my words. Since starting this I have made a lot better choices, and I have been doing a lot better than I was before, but it’s still not right. I feel like you do the best you can with what you know. But, that stupid tool we use in our brains, where we justify things that don’t logically make sense, are starting to drive me mad.

I’m not going to lie, I don’t eat a perfect, well-rounded diet, where I eat 3 proper, nutritional meals a day. Especially right now when next week are my finals, I usually run off of coffee in the morning, with a piece of fruit, and then snack on baby carrots and grape tomatoes, and maybe have a greek yoghurt for “lunch”, and then dinner time I probably eat too much. I don’t eat unhealthy food, in fact I have healthy food, just too much of it. Some of the main things I eat for dinner are a homemade pizza where I use a minimal amount of flower, and minimal amount of cheese. I also do it half-half, because my husbands side has salami, tons of mozzarella, and other bits, but my side is made with minimal cheese, and more feta cheese with spinach. That’s all my side is, spinach and some feta cheese. Otherwise I do eat corn-tacos often too. I cook lean beef pieces with minimal oil, and only seasoned with salt, pepper and lime juice. Then I load them up with lettuce, tomatoes, and onion, and some cheese and salsa. This week I have cut out dessert. I’m no longer eating anything sweet in the evening, but I have been eating popcorn. I also felt like I completely failed yesterday because I had a banana for breakfast with black coffee, then a greek yoghurt around midday, and then after getting home at 5 I went and got some chicken pieces from KFC. I actually logged my food yesterday and my total still came to 910 calories total.

So, it may seem like I’m starving myself throughout the day, but it’s more of a, forgetting to really eat, and not having the motivation to eat when I have so much school work to cover. But the fact is, if i’m trying to reach a goal of being healthy, fit, active, and toned, I shouldn’t be eating like this. My calories are usually way under my limit, but I’m not losing any weight. That makes no sense to me, except I attribute it to drinking tons of water, and the large amount of squats I’m doing is creating more muscle mass. But the other day when I was at the grocery store my brother-in-law was behind me, and I saw what he was buying, and then what I was buying, and it was like this wall of denial and justification evaporated and I was left with the reality. There he was, the guy who amazingly lost 50lbs and has completely turned his lifestyle around buying a few vegetables…and then here I am with my shopping basket. It’s not even that I was buying horrible food, in fact I was buying ingredients for tacos, but I also had some unhealthy snacks too, and it just basically made me see the difference between someone who actively makes choices to eat healthy, and someone who is only doing it half-heartedley.

When I look at what I’m doing, I see that:

  1. I need to eat the lightest meals around dinner time instead of not really eating all day, and then having a large meal for dinner.
  2. I need to exercise more. I don’t walk as much as I should because I don’t make enough time for it, and I like to take my dog with me. The problem is my dog is a Chihuahua/Terrier mix, and so he’s frightened of his own shadow. Taking him for a walk can be an ordeal and I end up carrying him for a part of it. Mostly though, the fact that he doesn’t keep up a good pace means I’m not getting a workout from it. But any exercise is better than nothing right? My walks usually last 45 minutes and involve a lot of inclines.
  3.  I should eat proper meals during the day. I don’t know if how I eat during the day is terrible, it’s just I could probably eat more. Snacking on veggies probably doesn’t constitute lunch. When I get on a roll with my algebra or one of my papers I turn into a mad scientist who doesn’t leave her lab (computer). So before I know it 11am turns into 3pm and I realize I haven’t eaten anything.
  4. My husband and I don’t have kids so our lifestyle is very lax. Too lax. I’ve often told him that we live like a couple of teenagers. I’m not saying we sit around smoking pot, and then eat Cheetos. It’s just that we don’t have to do a proper grocery shopping, or sleep at a certain time, or have certain food in the house like milk and bread so our children don’t get taken by CPS. Basically, we need more structure, and to grow the fudge up.
  5. I need to do more core-strength training. I have to make time for crunches, weights, squats etc.
  6. I can’t use every hiccup as a reason why my diet can go on hiatus. This week I had a medical issue come up, and I currently live in the U.S. so you can probably assume I have no health insurance. But, no need to fret, Obama is coming to the rescue…………..Back to reality though, stress is more reason to find BETTER ways to cope than drinking like a sailor and eating like Honey Boo Boo.
  7. Just because I don’t look like Adriana Lima in week 2 does not mean what I’m doing isn’t working.

So I think it’s time to stop sailing my little canoe down the river of denial and get my shit together.

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