Women: It’s Time We Talk About Body Image

In honor of the backlash Nike has received after introducing plus-size mannequins. (Go Nike!)

Women of the world –

Aren’t you tired of being judged by your body? Aren’t you sick of not feeling good enough because you don’t look like Instagram models or girls in magazines? Just last week, I started to feel uncomfortable in my own body because I have recently gained 10 lbs. I’m at my heaviest weight I’ve been at, yet my body and mind feel healthier than ever. Despite this, there I was at work telling my boyfriend how big my legs felt and questioned him whether I still looked good. Rather than focusing my attention on my work, I was thinking about if others thought I looked fat. It dawned on me how sad it is that this is something that many women go through – questioning whether they look good enough or not. Women are constantly berated for being either “too fat” or “too skinny” and when a woman hits the weight she’d like to be at, that can falsely lead her to believe she can only look and be good if she is hitting that particular weight.

Men have been raised differently

Men are not told when the scale tips 5 lbs. that they are not good enough. They are praised less for their looks and more for their work ethic. They are not typically scrutinized in magazines for which man’s body is most beach ready. They don’t obsess at their work lunch meeting over which meal has the least amount of calories or feel bad for ordering the burger and fries; they are there to talk business. Things are changing in the right direction for women, but it is sad that still to this day many cultures value men more for their work and women more for their bodies. I say it’s due time that women and men alike lift each other up by supporting and encouraging women by commending them not just for their beauty, but for their strength and their talents.

You are always enough.

Some may argue that if we accept ourselves just as we are, then we won’t get better. Go back and re-read that sentence. Why are we constantly striving toward a “better” version of ourselves? I believe the version of ourselves that is here in this moment can be the best version of ourselves. There may be a healthier you in the future. There may be a more successful you in the future. True. But the person you are today can and should be valued and completely accepted rather than harshly criticized. The more I accept my body, the happier I am and the better I treat myself. But last week when I saw the number 136 on the scale, my old thinking patterns kicked into high gear. I immediately felt big and uncomfortable. Prior to stepping on the scale, I felt happy, beautiful and even sexy. But it’s etched in the back of my mind that the number on the scale determines my happiness (the reason I no longer keep a scale in my house). I decided right then and there I am done regarding my body as anything other than good, beautiful and useful. It’s not right that media has told us we need to keep a scale in the bathroom. It’s not right that people objectify and qualify women based on their shape. It’s not right that so many of us feel bad for gaining weight. It’s not right that we feel the need to assign morality to food by having “cheat” days or deeming certain foods “bad”.

In a perfect world…

I want to live in a world that embraces curves, lack of curves, overall health and more importantly embraces strength in all women. I want to live in a world where women aren’t targeted by the “wellness” industry and told they are not good enough unless they buy, try or eat like… (insert current health trend here). I think we are good enough as we are. I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with trying out a new health trend, but we should do it to better our health and be stronger, not to make us a “better” person. If you’re feeling truly dissatisfied with how your body looks and you know you can be healthier, remember that change cannot happen until we accept ourselves exactly as we are.

Bye bye, body shame!

My body is amazing and now I love that I’ve reached a new height with my weight. I am still healthy both mentally and physically. I am still beautiful. And I am ultimately still me. I am done body shaming myself. My hope for you is that you feel this way too.

With love,

Diana

Training for a Half Ironman; One Athlete’s Insight and Her Tips to get in the Best Shape of Your Life

Ever wonder what it’d be like to train for a half ironman? 2 years ago when I began working as a personal trainer, I met Ali Furrs and taught her how to box. Since then, she’s been training with me every week and has become a great friend to me. Ali has been working as a Doctor of Physical Therapy for 3 years now at Sinai Hospital of Baltimore. Ali is one of the most bad ass, hard-working women I know and is not only a great fitness role model but is also a truly authentic and fun-loving person. In this article, Ali goes into detail about what it’s like to prepare for a half ironman, the ups and downs of such a time-consuming training schedule and advice on how to be in your best shape ever. Read on to hear Ali’s awesome story and follow her on Instagram @alijoy_f to see more of her fitness inspo.

Ali’s Story

The sport of triathlon is not new to me. I’ve done several sprint and Olympic distant triathlons but this year I decided to take on the half ironman. Back in January, I signed up for the Eagleman 70.3 in Cambridge, MD which takes place on June 9, 2019 (this weekend!). Over the last 5-6 months, I’ve dedicated my time and energy training to complete 1.2 miles of swimming, 56 miles of biking, and 13.1 miles of running in one race.

Her Training Regimen

I followed a “simple half ironman training guide” but improvised with some of my own workouts. I organized and reorganized my training schedule depending on work or other commitments but for the most part I stuck to the plan.  Here is what a typical training week looked like for me…

Monday: REST

Tuesday: BIKE

Wednesday: SWIM & RUN

Thursday: BIKE

Friday: SWIM & RUN

Saturday: LONG BIKE

Sunday: LONG SWIM & RUN

During the days that I biked (Tues/Thurs) I also did strength training. That included upper body strengthening, lower body strengthening, stability training, and cross training (boxing & basketball). As the race approached I did some running after by bike rides as well to get used to the transition as I would on race day.

Her Favorite Workout

My favorite workouts to do, not because they’re easy and I like them but because they challenged me and made me feel like I was accomplishing something, were single leg stability strengthening (i.e. single leg deadlifts, split squats, balance on a BOSU, anti-rotation drills, etc.). Single leg strengthening workouts involve the entire leg up to the hip including the core and foot. Hip and ankle stability become essential with endurance training as fatigue sets in and can apply to all three aspects of the sport (swim, bike, run).

How Boxing Shaped Her Training

Boxing was also a fundamental part of my cross training thanks to Diana. At first I thought I’d stop boxing for a while so I could focus on my training but I found that boxing provided a great outlet for stress in addition to serving as a huge foundation builder. It requires hip and core stability to absorb force and provide a solid foundation from which to throw and dodge a punch. But it also requires shoulder stability for maintaining position and preventing injury with impact after delivering a punch. I incorporated this into my strength training days once a week (i.e bike in the morning before work, box with Diana after work). Cross training is so important to work on different muscle groups, prevent overuse injuries, and to prevent burnout.

Her Tremendous Sacrifice

Now don’t get me wrong, it’s easy to talk rainbows and butterflies about the aspects of training as I believe my training has been successful. However, I’d be remiss if I didn’t say it came with a cost. The time commitment necessary for training was probably the most challenging part of this mighty endeavor. I work 40 hours a week, have a dog and a home to help my husband care for, a husband to put first, and a social life that I like to be involved in. Without my husband this would have been impossible. He was a tremendous help and took on all the morning dog walks as well as some evening walks so I could get to the gym or on the road to train. He maintained the cleanliness and sanity of the house and relinquished the cooking to me. He was also supportive when I was gone most weekend mornings on long training rides or in the gym for hours (yes, hours). He truly held strong to his commitment to helping me be successful in achieving my goals.

The Ultimate Reward: Best Shape Ever

As for the most rewarding part of training, you’ll have to ask me again after the race but right now I feel like my best most bad ass self. I’m probably in the best shape of my life and feel like I can accomplish anything. Not only am I in great physical condition but I’m also more disciplined, efficient, and make the most of my time available.

Strength in Numbers and Positive Self Talk

I have an amazing team of supporters from friends to family to friends of friends and coworkers alike. You need support to be successful, to build you up, give you encouragement, and to hold you accountable. It’s easy to receive support, it feels good. What holds people back the most, especially in long endurance races, are mental blocks and lack of mental toughness. Think about it, you’re with yourself and your thoughts for several hours day in and day out; negative self talk is bound to make its way in there at some point. Mental blocks are hard, so what I do is set achievable goals even within a session. Small wins make you feel accomplished and ready to tackle the next goal. And positive self-talk and self-reflection go a long way. There is also no shame in taking a few days to a week off of training to reset and prevent burnout.

Try a Triathlon out for Yourself

Don’t let my wallowing in lack of free time get in your way from trying this out though! Triathlons are so fun and very doable with the right training! My advice to those who are interested in triathlon is to just sign up for one or start with a relay. The atmosphere of a relay race alone will get you hooked but knowing you don’t have to do the whole thing is a good way to start. The great thing about triathlons is that if you’ve never done one you HAVE to train to finish it. By signing up, you have committed yourself to training and are less likely to back out. They are usually expensive enough where you won’t consider backing out either. There are plenty of online resources for coaches, training plans, podcasts for tips and tricks etc., and there are races all over the world.

Triathlon or Not; Ali’s Advice

For those of you that I have just convinced to never do one of these but want to stay fit and active, my advice to you is the following…

  1. Find a friend to work out with
  2. Join a group
  3. Take fitness classes
  4. Hire a personal trainer
  5. Sign up for an event (race)
  6. By new workout clothes or shoes
  7. Follow fitness bloggers/influencers on social media
  8. MOST IMPORTANTLY: set achievable goals

Everyone has their own interests and own fitness journey but it has to start somewhere and that’s with YOU saying YES.

She Found a lot to Like About Herself

As I’ve said before, I’m not new to triathlon, but this experience has been completely different than any other I’ve had (including marathon training). I’ve never spent so much time in my own head and the longer I stayed there, the more I found to like about myself. I’ve learned to be humble as I’m not the fastest in any of the three sports. I’ve learned to be selfless as I reflect on the sacrifices my husband has made to help me succeed as well as the ones I have made to keep him number one. I’ve learned to set goals, stay positive and take pride in the goals I have achieved. And I learned that I am loved and people are rooting for me to succeed. Triathlon is a new happy place for me and I’m excited to see what is in store for me on June 9, 2019.

Your Booty Will Thank You

My Ultimate Booty Workout

I’d like to make a special note that this workout is not about enlarging the booty (although it may be a side effect). This is about strengthening a muscle group that far too many neglect, which results in injuries and body imbalances. I believe in the importance of glute work in correcting many bodily discomforts, including knee and back issues. Have fun with this and be sure to drink plenty of water and rest for at least 1 minute in between circuits. I’d like to make an even more special note that working out is SO important for your mental health. Do this for your body AND your mind. No matter what size/shape/type of body and booty you have, you’re beautiful in your own way and deserve to treat yourself to this!

**Note: this is not for the faint of heart. This is not a joke. And this will make your booty cry in both pain and joy**

1. Warm up: 3-6 mins.

30 seconds high knees x 30 seconds butt kicks x 15 body weight squats. *Complete 3 rounds*

2. Stretch: 3-4 mins.

Complete each move for 20-30 seconds.

a. Arm circles forward with calf raises

b. Arm circles backward with calf raises

c. Touch toes with legs together

d. Touch ground with legs wider than hips

e. Butterfly stretch on ground

f. Straddle stretch on ground

3. Circuit A: 8-12 mins. Need 1 medium-heavy and 1 heavy kettle bell

20 kettle bell swings with medium heavy bell x 15 kettle bell dead lifts with heavy bell x 10 sit squats holding medium- heavy bell. Complete 3 rounds


Start the kettle bell swings in this position to initiate the first swing. Then imagine the kettle bell is a football you must pass to someone behind you.

End position of the kettle bell swing. This is not about using arms, this is about thrusting hips forward to gain momentum in your swing.
4. Circuit B: 8-12 mins. Need small loop band- place band around ankles for banded exercises or right below knees for a less intense modification.

15 jump squats x banded wide leg steps (15 to the right, 15 to the left) x standing banded side leg raises – you can place one hand on wall for stability (15 each side). Complete 2 rounds

For squat jumps drive through your heels from this position and jump as high as you can. Land softly.
5. Circuit C: 6-10 mins. Need a 10-30 pound weight.

Weighted side lunges (alternate & do 12 each side) x 30 second jump switch lunges x 30 second wall sit. Complete 3 rounds.

6. Mat work: 4-8 mins.

20 hip bridges (on back) x 15 single leg hip bridges (on back) x 15 fire hydrants (in quadruped position). Complete 2 rounds

7. Cool down: 3-5 mins.

Complete stretches c. – f. from above and any other stretches you feel necessary for your body.

My recommendation is to complete this workout 1-2 times per week for max benefits. #hardworkworkhard

With love,

Diana

My Greatest Achievement: Overcoming Depression

I used to think life’s greatest achievements came solely from scholastic success, winning in sports, a financially stable career, or things of the like. After battling major depression, I now know there are far greater achievements in this life than I could have dreamed possible. These are the achievements you must fight with your whole life for. I’d like to tell you the story of my greatest achievement: overcoming depression.

Major depression

I’m not talking about the kind of depression that every human feels that from time to time and that passes within a day or two. I’m talking about major depression. The definition of major depression is a medical illness “characterized by a persistently depressed mood or loss of interest in activities, causing significant impairment in daily life” (Mayo Clinic) lasting for at least 2 weeks.

“You don’t look depressed.”

I sometimes forget about my depression when I’m feeling stable. It’s almost as if my mind blocks it out purposefully to protect my current state. But I’d like to reflect back on it because I don’t think depression is discussed enough. It’s time we talked more about the hard stuff so that we feel less alone. Alone is how I felt when I first started dealing with depression. When I opened up to coworkers or loved one about how I struggled with it, they told me they’d never imagine the girl who always has a smile on could possibly feel that way…that I didn’t look depressed. Behind closed doors, there was a girl most of the world had never seen.

Everything hurt

When it hit me, it hit me. The best way I could describe major depression is it felt like carrying around a 100 lb. sack of rocks at all times. It was visceral. It was like gravity had an extra pull on me. Like I had a fever I couldn’t sweat out. All I wanted to do was lay down and cry but I logically knew this was not productive so I felt even worse for having those desires. I’d make myself get up and go to the kitchen to feed our animals. That was hard to do. I barely made it to work, called out sick almost weekly. I was constantly tearful and irritable toward my loved ones. I felt as if the world hated me because I hated myself for being such a drag. I knew I was being a drag but didn’t know how to pull myself up. I started isolating myself and eventually got to a point where life did not feel worth living.

I asked for help

Finally I spoke with my psychiatrist about this and she recognized what I said and my overall demeanor as major depression. She recommended I try a different medicine, and that I put a pause on work to attend an intensive outpatient program at Johns Hopkins. After that appointment, I ran to the bathroom and broke down crying. Rather than feeling hopeful, I felt absolutely defeated. I felt like I was a failure; how could I not be able to help myself? How could my current medicine all the sudden not be working? But something in me knew, deep down, that I had to make a radical change and take these steps.

I took action

So I followed the doctor‘s orders, took off of work for six weeks and attended the intensive outpatient program at Hopkins. In combination with taking a new medicine, I also became completely sober. When I say these steps were life-changing I mean they saved my life. I was heading in a dangerous direction far too quickly and the doctors and therapists at Hopkins helped lead me back to me. They supported me, listened to me, and helped me create action plans every single week. My family, boyfriend, and friends all supported me. The new medicine that the doctor prescribed was my missing vitamin. It’s a mood stabilizer and it helped bring me out of my depression and my depressive symptoms. I can’t stress enough how important it was for me to have both medicine and therapy combined.

I fought and I won

After six weeks I was back at work, exercising regularly and feeling more and more myself. This was such a pivotal time in my life because I conquered something that was beyond my control and I accepted a part of me that I originally thought was unacceptable. Now I view it as a war I fought and won. The sobriety allowed me to see I was using alcohol and weed to cover up the depression, when what I needed all along was to face it head on. I started writing more, talking about it more, and finally felt able to start this blog. I couldn’t contain these feelings any longer, almost felt and continue to feel like it’s my obligation to write about it. My hope is that if you’re reading this, you can help yourself or others who are going through this. I want to help others understand how depression is a medical illness that needs medical attention, just like asthma or heart disease.

Life is worth living

I have bipolar so it is likely possible that depression will show it’s ugly face again in my life, but I know I have defeated it before and that gives me hope. So to those of you out there who are dealing with depression, I stand with you and you are not alone. There is help out there, but you have to make that first step. We cannot battle anything by ourselves; ask for help from friends, family, and a doctor. People want to help you succeed, and once you start on the road to recovery your depressing days will feel like a distant dream.

If You’re Going Through a Lot All at Once

Dedicated to a friend whom the world has placed a lot of pain and loss on at one time

And to all others who are dealing with an overwhelm of hurt

“When it rains, it pours.” “Bad things come in three.”

 We have many ways of saying that bad things tend to happen all at once because this happens to many people at one point or another in their lives. What I want to talk about with you is how to traverse the bad times, navigate through the hardship, and make it out a warrior on the other side.

I can’t sit here and tell you I know exactly what pain you’re going through. What I can tell you is I have experienced pain beyond what I thought imaginable after the universe hit me with a grand slam of problems all in one sitting. When I was diagnosed, had to let go of my job, and then proceeded to fail at two other job attempts all in a month’s time, it felt like the earth was shattering beneath me. I had to start completely anew. What I want to tell you is you too can start anew. And to my dear friend in pain, I know you have before.

Life hit you hard out of nowhere.

I bet you can look back not two weeks ago and remember a smiling, happy you. If this applies, stop engaging with this memory. Stop spending time with the past you. It will do you no good. You must focus on the present you. You must focus on putting one foot in front of the other. The good times you felt a couple weeks ago…those, I’m sorry my dear, are gone. Those feelings are nothing but a mental image we have constructed regarding a past event. This may sound harsh but it’s the reality that reflecting on a past you, a thought of a more “together” you, is not helpful. The truth is you are together and whole in this moment, it’s just hard to see past all of this pain and loss.

If you lost someone or something you held close to you, I’m so sorry for that and only with time will that pain feel easier to bear. And to lose pieces of you that you thought were part of who you were…that’s hard to deal with. But what I want to tell you is your identity does not stem from the physical, who you are is constant and shining and beautiful and full of life. You simply are.

The universe has a plan.

What I’m trying to get at my dear friend is that you are not alone in this struggle and the way out is always through. No need to analyze the past or predict the future. No need to focus on “what could have been.” All you need to do is focus on the fact that you are love. You are whole. You are one with all life forms. You are capable of yet another fresh start. The universe has a plan for you and it doesn’t make mistakes. You are stronger than you think. And you don’t need me or anybody to tell you that or help you feel that way, you will feel that on your own increasingly every passing moment. I have faith that you will because you’re reading this and because you care and because you have negotiated this tall mountain and can make the final ascent to the top. Be patient with yourself, for the view will be amazing and you will get there. If it feels too hard to deal with losing these precious pieces of your life and identity, hold onto this: you are a warrior.

With love,

Diana

Anxiety at Work; How to Deal

Q & A with my wise sister & best friend, Julia Urbaniak, on anxiety at work and how she deals

Julia works as a Senior Brand Manager at a Fortune 500 IT company in Chicago, IL and has had 9 years of experience working with her company. Julia offers excellent advice on coping with anxiety and gives insight into how she manages her successful career and mental health. No matter what type of job you have, this applies. Enjoy!

1.    When did you first notice signs of anxiety in your workplace?

I started noticing my anxiety as I moved ahead in my career and took on positions that were more visible throughout our company. In one of my previous roles, I was a sales trainer, and I led all day training’s for adults. I felt that I was constantly prepping for my work in order to feel like I was ready enough to deliver 9 hours of content the following day. It started out fine but then a few months into the role I got burnt out. I wasn’t able to have a life outside of my job, and that did not sit well with me. I took action and found a career path that was a better fit.

2.    How does your anxiety affect your life both in and out of work?

In lots of ways, and not all of them are bad (typical me, trying to look at the flip side). In the workplace, I notice my anxiety popping up the most in high stakes meetings with high powered executives – “imposter syndrome” feelings, or anxious feelings about sharing a thought or idea in fear that it is not up to their standards. It is something I consistently work on and try to combat. Since I began seeing a therapist, that is something I worked on with her and I have seen huge improvements on. In reality though, it still happens and it is difficult for me to completely turn off.

The positive side of this for me, has been that it can hold me accountable and makes me think about every little thing. My mind is almost always going – running though certain scenarios and various to do lists, for example. This is frustrating at times, but also makes up some of my greatest qualities.

At home, I notice my anxiety pop up most with my need to plan and my want for people I love to be “okay”. It has been a journey for me to really be able to separate my happiness from how others I care about are doing. Sometimes I struggle with this, but 95% of the time I am able to separate the two.

3.    What helps you cope with your anxiety?

 Going to see a therapist has helped me immensely. I recommend this to literally everyone who is close to me. It is the best “self-care” ritual I have ever taken on and the best money I spend on myself (way better then new shoes or a bottle of wine). There were times at the beginning of my journey that I’d see my therapist every week, and now I’m at the point where I schedule with her as needed, when things pop up that I want to work through. She is the objective person who knows everything about me, and I unleash everything going on inside my head. 
It’s very liberating. She incorporates meditation and certain tools into our sessions that I then take with me into real life settings.

If I’ve had a stressful day at work and need to compress at more of a surface level, watching a trashy reality TV show is my favorite way to get out of my head.

4. Do you still deal with your anxiety? How do you manage it?

I absolutely do. It ebbs and flows, sometimes not popping up for a long while and during other seasons it can come up daily. I am at the point now, that when my anxiety does creep in, I ultimately just accept it and know that it will pass. I intentionally don’t give it much thought, hoping that gives it less power over me. I will admit, this has taken me some time. A way that helps me cope is taking a walk – removing myself from the situation that is making me anxious. I do this whenever possible. I also meditate or read. These things help me get out of my mind when I need to.

5.    In what ways do you believe working in corporate America is difficult mentally?

For the most part, I don’t find it difficult. I think it’s because I work at a wonderful company that promotes mental health awareness and a work life balance. I have heard horror stories though from others, and that continuously makes me thankful I am not in that situation. Find a company that feels like a good fit with your values. They are out there!

6.    What advice would you give to people looking to grow in their career while maintaining their mental health?

Take time for yourself and remember that at the end of the day, work is work. I love my job but when it comes down to it, I am able to put it in perspective. I am not saving lives (if you are, then this advice isn’t great….skip ahead), and remembering something as small as that helps me to realize that certain things are not worth my stress. I am able to go home after a busy day a work, and enjoy my time with my family and friends, uninterrupted by thoughts of work. That is a blessing and that was not always the case for me – so I do not take it for granted.

My Beautiful Breakdown

This is a poem I wrote to my younger self going through my manic episode.  This is for those going through or who have gone through something like this. It’s also for those who have seen someone go through it, or are wanting to know what it’s like. This is also, in a big way, for me. This was incredibly difficult to share – I never thought I would. But I believe it’s important to share because I wish someone had shared with me when I was going through it.

I wrote this for you because I care about you and want you to know there’s hope and that life will get better.

You beautiful thing
your mind is so strong
that it pulls you in waves
and through rivers so long

You ask yourself, why?
You ask yourself, how?
But as you reflect
it all makes sense now

It started when the stress
was too much to take
You tried your damn best
but could no longer fake

You suddenly felt it
a monumental shift
from deeply depressed
to a higher than high lift

It rocked your world
and changed your perspective
but soon turned over the top
you became hyper reflective

You wrote and you wrote
all your new thoughts
Your mind was at war
Old ideals were fought

You knew something was off
but thought, “it’s meant to be”
since you had been so depressed
you thought, “finally I’m happy”

Your boyfriend – he saved you
He knew you weren’t right
He lovingly cared for you
all through that night

You saw lips moving
and saw expressions change
Regardless of this,
you could hear no voice in range

It terrified you
and still does to this day
“How can I not hear
all the things that they say?”

You knew in that moment
you needed some help
They took you away
to a room by yourself

They gave you a pill
It knocked you asleep
In the morning you woke,
believing it was a dream

You couldn’t understand
when three doctors said
your diagnosis was bipolar
you felt so much dread

There are things I want to tell you
Things I learned after long
Things I want to share with you
How this will make you strong

It will shape you and help you
This will make life feel new
You are a growing flower
And the sky when it’s blue

When all this went down
You were wondering how
You could ever write again
And look at you now

Please do not fear this
they don’t give you a clue
that many people go through this
It’s not only you

So pick up your head
because you will get through
You’re not alone at all
This is your chance to start new

What If You Tried Letting Go of Perfection?

I am here to admit to you that I can be a bit of a perfectionist when it comes to balancing life. Whew! That feels oddly hard to admit because I like to think I’m laid back, but it’s the truth that I try to be perfect in striking a balance in my life. I know many others can relate to wanting perfection. It’s normal to want things to be exactly right, but it can be detrimental to your and my success, happiness, and time management. I want to talk about being perfect.

Is there such a thing?

How do we identify it? Why do so many of us strive for it? This past week I have been trying to get back into my groove at work and at home after an awesome trip to Chicago. Change in schedule sets anybody off, but for reasons somewhat due to my mental illness it can really throw me off. It’s difficult for me to streamline back into my work/life dance because it takes my body some adjusting due to a lack of sleep, increased energy output after a lazy vacation, and time changes. Regardless, I have this craving for my life to be exactly in order as soon as I come back almost to prove to myself that my mental illness cannot get in the way of me living successfully – the house cleaned, food cooked, success at work, self-care on point, and the list goes on. But what happened last week was I put so much emphasis on getting everything right that I started to spread myself too thin and it left me feeling downright exhausted and anxious by the end of the week. When all I wanted to do was relax and unwind with my boyfriend on the weekend, my head started pounding and my mind started racing thinking of all of the things I should be doing because I felt so behind. Shout out to my boyfriend who continually reminds me how unimportant getting a chore done is compared to resting and recharging.

Perfectionism stems from insecurity

Striving for perfection comes in all shapes and sizes. I strive to be perfect at striking a balance between all the areas in my life – which I suppose can be helpful in motivating me but it also makes me anxious and self-critical when I don’t get it right. I believe I am such a perfectionist in this area because it’s an area I struggle with and feel self-conscious about. Growing up I was either all about school -spending hours on end studying with no time for friends, or I was socializing and spending all my time having fun with no discipline. Another example is some days, I clean obsessively. The next week the dishes are piled high and my dirty clothes are everywhere. So no, I am nowhere near perfect when it comes to this. And yes, overthinking how perfect I need to be hinders my finding balance. What I’m getting at is my perfectionist tendency stems from an insecurity of mine and I believe many others may find this to be true about themselves.

Perfection is all in our mind

What do you strive to be perfect at? Is it your hair? Is it your muscles? Is it your numbers at work? Is it the way you walk down the street? I’m wondering if it’s possible to define perfect. Perfect to you is likely not the same perfect to me. Perfect to a beggar is a far cry from perfect to a millionaire. We all have our own definitions of ‘perfect’, and therefore we must continually assess if our version of ‘perfect’ is a reality or something that we have created in our minds. If it’s something we have created in our minds, we are more than likely to be disappointed at our reality because it could never live up to that imagined something.

You are already perfect

A word to all my ladies and fellas out there who are concerned with perfection in looking a certain way – you are made the way you are made and that is that. Society likes to push ideas on us to make us feel insecure and buy their product to make us feel more secure. Nothing will make you feel more secure than accepting you for you. Thank God not everybody looks the same – life takes on so many forms for a reason. I used to think the perfect body was tall and thin. It would cause me great anxiety that I didn’t look this way. But that is not how I am made, and I have learned to embrace my curves and my shortness and I now love how different I am. My wish is that you too can embrace how perfectly different you look. And at the end of the day, our body is just our exterior form. Our interior is the most beautiful part of us.

Stop looking to the future

There are so many reasons to try to be perfect at something, but maybe it’s enough that you’re exactly where you’re at. Living in the present moment, moment by moment, is way sweeter than looking to the future and comparing yourself to that mind-made version of you. More than feeling sweeter, you will be more successful and your time better managed when you are unconcerned with perfection. There’s nothing wrong with setting goals, but it’s important that these goals are true to who you are and where you’re at in this moment. My sincere wish is that you can find it in you to say ‘see ya later’ to that made up perfect version of future you and realize how perfect you are right now, finding humor and acceptance in your flaws.

Everything will be okay as it is

Side note – I have now fully accepted my empty refrigerator and dirty floors. What I am certain of is that I am writing to you now which makes me happy and I have a full schedule of clients this week which I am excited about. I am starting this week without regrets knowing the rest will get done when it gets done. All is okay, and I am perfectly imperfect.

With love,

Diana

4 Easy Ways to Keep Active While Traveling

I, like many others, love to travel. But what’s hard about traveling is staying consistently active because we travel to spend time doing things other than working out. This weekend I went home to visit family in Chicago and wanted to keep up with my workouts. For me, it is vital for my mental health to stay consistent. Unfortunately, I don’t have a membership at a gym here. To be honest I could have done a day pass at our local Lifetime but I didn’t want to spend too much time working out when my main focus is seeing family and friends in my short visit here. So instead, I did all of the activities listed below to stay moving and although they may not be as intense as a gym workout, I always say – some movement is better than no movement! If time is of the essence for you while you are out and about, try these 4 simple techniques to incorporate more movement into your travel days.

1. Go for a walk outside

Such an easy way to not only see the city you’re in but also maybe spend some quality time with yourself or loved ones.

2. Push-ups x Jump Squats x Tricep Dips

I did this every morning when I woke up. 3 sets of 10 push-ups, 3 sets of 20 squat jumps, and 3 sets of 10 tricep dips off a kitchen chair. It got me energized for my day and kept my muscles toned and primed to jump back into my workouts when I return to Baltimore. You can always add more movements to this if time allows, but to keep it simple these two moves usually get my heart pumping.

3. YouTube Yoga

My mom and I did a 30 minute yoga video the other day and it was a nice way to work on my core strength as well as do something fun with my momma. Yoga with Adrienne (link below) is amazing and I’d recommend her videos to anybody and everybody. The great thing about YouTube is you can search videos that are 10 minutes if you’re in a time crunch or 45 minutes if you have more time. And the nice thing about yoga is I don’t get super sweaty so if I have to go somewhere right after I don’t feel gross and sticky.

https://www.youtube.com/user/yogawithadriene

4. Take the stairs…more than once

You can find stairs pretty much anywhere you go while traveling, so do yourself a favor and take those stairs! And if you have the opportunity take them up and down and up again. Stairs are great cardio and great for those legs!

Safe travels and may these simple techniques assist you in staying active while you are away from home! It’s important to stay active not only to maintain your physical, but also to sharpen your mental.

With love,

Diana

The Full Body Workout for When You’re Easing Back in

It incorporates the row machine – my favorite piece of cardio equipment for it’s low impact and full body movement

Whether you’re just getting back to the gym after an injury, an episode of mental illness, or you haven’t been to the gym in a long while, this workout is for you. I designed it to be simple, hit your whole body, and take anywhere between 30-45 minutes. If you need modifications, you can adjust the weight, reps, or sets. You can also comment below if you have an injury that prevents you from doing one of the exercises listed or if you have a question about how to complete it. Have fun with it!

Let’s get down to it
  1. Warm up: row machine 3 minutes
  2. Stretch for 3 minutes
  3. 15 body weight squats, 15 standing glute raises (face wall, hands on wall and using control with straightened leg kick behind you, 10 body weight lunges each leg. Repeat 2x
  4. 10 bicep curls using 5-10 lb dumbbells, 10 shoulder presses using 5-10 lb dumbbells, 10 bent over tricep extensions using a 5-12 lb weight. Repeat 2x
  5. Ab work on mat: 10 double leg raises, 15 seated twists, 15 bicycle crunches, 30 second plank hold.
  6. Burnout: on row machine 15 pulls as hard as you can, 10 pulls at a moderate pace, then 15 more pulls as hard as you can.

Pictured is the start position of the tricep extension in circuit #4. To complete move, use control to swing hand back and up until arm is straightened and then squeeze. Lower hand back to start position.

Notes:
  • on the row machine be sure to keep good posture and every time you row try to squeeze a penny between your shoulder blades
  • when lunging, keep each leg bent at a 90 degree angle
  • really push yourself on the burnout, it’s the last segment of your workout and then you’ll be done!
  • get some good music and take it one step at a time!

With love,

Diana