Oven Baked Chicken Nuggets
I have always had a bit of a hard time loving myself. I was an awkward young soul, and even when I grew into my lanky appearance and learned to properly do my hair (holla for straighteners), I constantly was downing myself, finding ways to make myself look better. Reality was that I was beautiful no matter how much self hatred that I harbored. I didn’t need to tweak myself. I should not have cared to such a degree that I was willing to change all that I was and do whatever I needed to be accepted, well-liked, and even in some cases–envied. In the process of trying to find ways to love myself, I threw myself from relationship to relationship, alienating myself from the people who actually loved me as I was.
Here is the reality, folks: I really needed to love myself anyway.
When I was a toddler my mom and dad’s biggest lamentation was that I refused to go to bed. I didn’t want to miss out on whatever they were doing, and if there was company over–Heaven help them. They said that I would “yo-yo” in and out of bed.
Since my beginnings, I’ve wanted to do everything, be everything, and see everything. Reality is that I did all of these things for a very long time. I stretched myself thin and I rarely quit any activity. Reality was that I ran on very little sleep for a long time. I still don’t know how I “did” high school. I did five electives AND went to all church activities, including early morning seminary (a church class that started at 6:30 AM Monday through Friday).
When I arrived at college I didn’t have electives, nor did I have a job. I had myself, my friends, and my studies. I felt liberated, but I pushed myself to take as many classes as I could fit in. I found a job as soon as possible because independence mattered to me. I went from doing every elective in high school to trying to grasp every resume opportunity. I wanted to be successful, so I went to every workshop, every course, and every possible tutoring meeting. I wanted to be the best of the best. I didn’t want to leave BYUI with any regrets.
I graduated in the top ten percent of my graduating class. I killed myself for 3.5 years to perform my absolute best. I spent way more time on homework than any of my friends (partially because reality is that I’m a good writer, but slow learner). I received my dream job as soon as I finished student teaching, and I felt accomplished.
The summer between my degree and beginning said dream career, I was hit with a big dose of reality: I had been functioning with an unhealthy level of anxiety. I was so afraid of not doing everything that I let myself go. During college, I gained not 15 pounds, but 30. On paper, I looked great, but I didn’t feel good on the inside.
I decided that summer that I would change. I would focus on quality of life, rather than quantity of experiences on my resume. I decided that I’d work less for grades and more for knowledge. I decided that it is okay to let some things go. I decided that a healthy me and a C+ is OKAY. Honestly, this has all worked pretty well for me, but every now and then I find myself slipping into the mentality of “YOU CAN DO MORE!” and “NEVER SAY NO TO AN OPPORTUNITY!”
Once I started grad school, it was very difficult to push these thoughts out. I was so used to performing at a high level it was hard to find balance. At the same time, I was working two jobs–I was teaching as an adjunct professor and working as an operations coordinator for a new Amazon business/writing a book for the same boss. Working two jobs and doing six credits in grad school was too much. I crushed myself. I gained weight (even though I was exercising and doing CrossFit around three times a week). I found myself anxious and unable to sleep. I knew I needed change. I knew that I had to let something go.
Thus, I chose to walk away from my Amazon job. I loved working on Amazon stuff. I loved seeing successful monetary gains. Teachers work with tests, people, and understanding after all, so it was a rush to see monetary success as a result of my hard work. Also, I loved being able to practice my technical writing skills. I loved feeling like I was pushing myself to learn and grow every single day. I loved the people I worked with. It was the hardest decision I have ever made to walk away from that job. It is the only “real” job that I’ve ever quit for any other reason than relocation.
Here is the thing: I survived and things got better. My health bounced back. I gained control of my worries. I see my husband more. I have time to be a good friend.
Granted, I still find myself wanting to take “just one more class” every semester that I work towards my MA, but reality is this: One more isn’t always worth it. The fear of missing out is not worth it, because reality is sometimes “missing out” is the best thing that can happen. Sometimes when you “miss out” you realize what matters most.
P.S. I made the image at the top of this post my phone background–just an idea. 😉
When I think of the fourth I think of several things:
1. Freedom & Happiness
2. Outdoor activities
4. Family & Friends
Well, number three isn’t always my best friend. I love food. There is nothing wrong with loving food, but in order to get the best out of your body for the best day possible, you need to put the best food in.
There is nothing wrong with enjoying the foods offered on the Fourth, but there are some good practices to help yourself not fall too far off of the bandwagon.
1. Reach for the veggies first–salad, fruit, etc.–while the burgers and hot dogs are cooking.
2. Realize that in a single patty, homemade cheeseburger usually there is roughly 359 calories. If you are in charge of meat, buy lean meat. If you must eat a hot dog, buy turkey dogs. As long as you DON’T cheap out on the turkey dogs, I swear you won’t taste much of a difference.
3. Speaking of hot dogs, try to top your hot dog with “low cal/fat/sugar” toppings–mustard, onions, and sauerkraut all make your breath STINK, but they are actually pretty good for your health. Sadly, ketchup and relish are packed full of sugar. If you’re buying new relish and ketchup look for the kinds that are organic (if you can afford it) or low sugar/carb. If you can’t say no or find good replacement, just apply sparingly.
4. Be careful when drinking your calories. Personally, I’m alcohol free and basically know nothing about alcohol, so I won’t even pretend to know what I am talking about when it comes to that. I think high schoolers would call me straight edge. haha DIGRESSING. As you reach for the cans of chilled soda (or beer), remember you can be strong and drink in moderation. One can of soda can range from 150-250 calories. I would say for full-sugar soda, it is probably best to stop at one per meal, if not one per day.
I know that to maintain my weight I have to eat between 1500-2,000 calories based on my activity level. I plan to let myself eat a tiny bit over that, so I can enjoy chips and full sugar Coke.
5. Start the day out right. Eat a healthy breakfast, so you can enjoy the rest of your day with the energy you need. I recommend oatmeal or whole grain cereal. I usually eat Fage yogurt with honey and berries.
6. No matter the crazy–carry a water bottle! I laugh at myself whenever I clean because I swear I am the girl in Signs, I find water cups/bottles EVERYWHERE. Carry the water. You’ll be grateful and less likely to binge eat/drink. Try to drink a small plastic water bottle once every 3 hours and drain one before meals without exception. I usually carry a refillable bottle, but do what works best for you.
7. Be moderate. Enjoy the day. Don’t be tied to your calorie counter, FitBit, MyFitness Pal, WHATEVER. Enjoy the day and just be careful at each meal. You got this, and life is to short to say “no” to all of the food that you enjoy on the holiday.
Happy Fourth of July. I wish you the best of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.