I’m Happier Without Instagram

SNOW DAY!!!

It’s been two years since our last snow day here at BU. The last time this happened, we were experiencing snowpocalypse and had 5 snow days on almost every Monday of the week from January-February.

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#tbt

Someone noted that the Patriots won the Super Bowl that year also…

Yesterday it was sunny and warm, except for the morning when I got to ice skate to dance class. This is actual footage of me walking  perilously penguin shuffling across the frozen-over bridge.

I have never more greatly appreciated the function of salt on the sidewalks.

From salt and snow to INSTAGRAM. (#NoSegueNoProblem #BloggerLife)

I’ve been on a break from (what used to be) my favorite social media platform for over a month now. I miss it sometimes as I’m not “in the loop” with health living bloggers and friends as much anymore, but I can’t say that I truly miss it. In fact, I dare say that I am much happier without Instagram.

The main reason for which I am happier is that Instagram was a comparison trap for me, whether I liked to admit it or not, and now I’ve finally cut it out of my life. This mostly applies to fitness. I am much more content with my workouts (vs. thinking about the workout that someone else posted on Instagram today), and I’m less concerned about what my body looks like on a day to day basis.

The temptation to obsess over comments, likes, followers and notifications is gone.

I feel incredibly liberated in not having any social media icons on my phone. I don’t mindlessly pick up my phone to check notifications anymore. My right thumb also feels less fatigued due to less scrolling (true story).

My attention span has probably improved.

I don’t crave noise as much anymore. In fact, I find myself craving silence, which never used to happen.

I take fewer photos, which might be more of an advantage for my friends/family than it is for me.

I just have more brain space without Instagram.

Disclaimers: I do still have Facebook, because it’s a practical way to stay in touch with people and organize school events. Plus, the temptation to scroll on FB isn’t as great as it is on Instagram. Also, I’m not at all saying that everyone will be happier without Instagram. I just know for myself that Instagram has more negative than positive effects on my life.

I’m only a little bit sad to be admitting all of this. I did enjoy sharing workouts and tidbits of life, but I don’t need it, and others don’t need my Instagram presence. I’d say a personal blog is enough of me in the world wide web.

Other scenes from the week:

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an evening with the brachial plexus

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check out this pristine sky on the day I gave my first campus tour in 8 months!

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one thing I like + one thing I like substantially less

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banana bread baked oatmeal with pb + glass o’ milk

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Thrive Market delivery! 

Some moves and grooves I was diggin’ these past two weeks:

// Lower Body Supersets //

  • 3×10 squats
  • 3×20 jump squats
  • 3×10 deadlifts
  • 3×30 side jump lunges
  • 3×3 wall walks
  • 3×10 box jumps

// Hillary’s 400 Heavy Rep Workout //

// 45 Minute Fightmaster Vinyasa Yoga //

// AMRAP and EMOM //

12 min AMRAP (as many rounds as possible):

  • 6 pistol squats each leg
  • 10 burpees
  • 10 situps

10 min EMOM (every minute, on the minute):

10 min EMOM:

  • Even: 20 hamstring ball curls
  • Odd: 20 KB swings

// Fitness Blender 20 Minute Abs and Obliques Workout //

// 16 Minute Workout //

4 rounds, 30 seconds work, 10 seconds rest

Stay safe and warm if you’re in the snow storm! Enjoy your pre-Friday, friends ♥︎

So tell me:

Have you ever taken a break from social media and discovered that you’re happier?

Is it snowing where you live?

Three things about your week!

Your favorite way you’ve moved this week.

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The Comparison Trap Revisited

Another night, another internet cafe session in the dark.

Our wifi isn’t installed in the dorms yet (praying that it gets up tomorrow!), so a few of us are outside using our laptops in the nippy air. It may seem like I’m complaining, but I kinda love it. For an hour. Then I can’t move my fingers anymore.

Waking up yesterday was hardddd. I stayed in bed for a while to answer blog comments and search for parks in Dublin where I could work out (and found this awesome link of “The 16 Best Places in Dublin to Do Your Outdoor HIIT Workouts“!). I probably won’t be getting a gym membership here, not because it’s too expensive, but because it will be expensive to pay for transit to get to the gym.

After finally rolling out of bed, a quick warmup and 100 burpees for time was all I had time for.

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I have to write down how many burpees I do per set so I don’t lose count lol

Oatmeal cookie dough cereal for breakfast!

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This weather has me smitten with Ireland so far, lemme tell ya.

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After a shower and couple hours of orientation, we broke for lunch. I made an egg sandwich with white cheddar, spinach, and mustard. The Irish mustard I found is STRONG stuff. I licked a little off the knife at first, and it stung my nose like wasabi.

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I love it though.

We had some time to kill between orientation sessions, so I took advantage of the nice day (before it started pouring later) to nap on the lush green grass on campus.

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thanks for the pic, Megan haha

Dinner last night was a simple chicken, tomato, spinach salad with hummus on top. I feel like I’ve been eating less here in Ireland, solely because I have to budget and cook for myself all the time now. Don’t get me wrong— I eat what I need, and I definitely don’t go hungry. However, now that I’m sharing a kitchen with so many people, I’m also observing how little my peers [seem to] eat.

Part of me thinks, “HOW the heck are you not starving!?” And then I get a little self-conscious over how much I eat. Example: my hefty sandwich packed with fats and protein (plus a peanut butter chocolate chip cookie) vs. the other girl’s bowl of yogurt with fruit. Yet I will certainly be more hungry than the other girls by the time dinner rolls around. “What’s wrong with me??”

But then I reel it in again.

a) I don’t know how much other girls actually eat.

b) I know how much I need.

I’ve been doing this eating/recovering/balancing thing for a little while now, and it seems to be working pretty well. So I’ll leave it at that and not let the comparison trap affect how much I eat.

Speaking of balance, a few of us walked a couple miles into Dublin city centre for gelato at Gino’s! It was raining in the evening, but that didn’t stop these ice cream lovers.

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white chocolate pistachio YUM

A lovely evening jaunt if you ask me.

Today we are off to Glendalough for a class field trip (← “Hold on to the rope, kids!”). I’m excited for a little hiking action!

THANK YOU SO DEARLY to all of you for making great suggestions for places to go around here and beyond. I am stoked to adventure everywhere and share the experiences here!

So tell me:

Has the comparison trap snuck up on you recently for anything?

What is your favorite workout outside of the gym?

What did you eat for lunch yesterday?

Don’t Let The Mirror Steal Your Joy

Real talk tiiiiiiime.

Last week, I completed a fun workout outside. I think it was this one:

5 rounds
  • run the cul-de-sac (~200m)
  • 60 sec squat jump with knee up twist (15#)
  • 60 sec v-ups
  • 60 sec down dog spiderman pushups
  • 60 sec reverse lunge with kick (30#)
  • 30 sec side plank right
  • 30 sec side plank left

It involved running, so you know I felt extra accomplished when I finished. I was hot and tired, but I also felt energized and strong.

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But then I looked in the mirror, and all of a sudden I didn’t feel as satisfied with my workout anymore. I honestly think I’d been watching too many Crossfit videos that weekend, so all I had been looking at were bodies like Stacie Tovar’s:

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I’m obviously not as fit as a Crossfit Games athlete (or almost any Crossfitter, for that matter), but when I looked in the mirror, I subconsciously compared my body to fitter, leaner bodies.

And that stole my joy.

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We’ve talked about the comparison trap 1000000 times on this blog, but it never seems to fade away (for me at least). Now don’t get me wrong, I do believe that I am in a healthier place than ever, mentally. But it’s still important to realize that aspiring for thinness OR fitness can be dangerous (← great article from Spoon University).

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In other words, aspiring for another person’s body (seeing someone else’s body as #goals) is denying yourself the opportunity to realize the amazing things about your body and what you can do.

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If I let myself define my workouts by how I look afterwards, I will end up miserable, and working out will become merely a means to an “end”— to have a certain physique (which is actually not an end because physical aesthetic alone is never fulfilling IMHO).

This doesn’t mean that people shouldn’t set goals, but I think there’s a difference between setting goals to be like someone else and setting goals to be the best version of yourself at this stage in your life.

Even with that perspective though, how can you tell what “your best” is? Am I not doing “my best” right now just because I’m not pushing myself to lift the heaviest weights possible, to run more, or to eat less sugar? Maybe. But I’m going to say that I am doing my best, because I have other priorities ahead of fitness (that is, fitness that goes above and beyond basic fitness for health) towards which I devote my time and energy as well.

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Since I’ve been working out when I feel like it and in a way that feels right for my body on each day, I’ve truly come to love working out. When I started this blog almost three years ago, I probably said that I loved working out, but I don’t think I truly did. I was still forcing myself to work out when I didn’t want to and to do workouts that were way too intense for what I needed that day.

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throwback to when I went to New York Sports Club in high school

This also doesn’t mean that you should never work out if just because you don’t feel like it. However, if there is one Pinterest quote I am willing to share over and over again, it’s this one:

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So cheers to moving and grooving…

…whether that’s running or walking…push-ups on your knees or clapping push-ups…air squats or heavy squats.

…whether you have a cut six-pack or a “muffin top” with those spandex capris…a perky butt or a cellulite-dimpled butt…biceps or no biceps (I happen to have the latter on all three of these)…

Don’t let the mirror steal your joy. Let exercise itself be your jam, not just “the body” (whatever that is to you).

So tell me:

Have you ever let the mirror steal your joy after a workout?

Other thoughts! 

Being Judgmental of Your Own Hunger Cues

I have concluded that video games/virtual worlds are not my cup o’ tea.

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“Oh I’m supposed to follow the arrow!”

My brother and I took our cousins to Disney Quest— Disney’s multi-floor arcade and video game attraction— for a fun “kids” day while our parents dined at a fancy restaurant. It was super fun spending time with the dudes, but I can only stare at colorful lights and crazy pixels for so long (ironic because I can look at a computer screen for quite a long time…but that’s different from looking at crashing cars and flashing neon lights).

I was literally saying Hail Mary’s before going into one of those virtual roller coaster things that require you to go into a capsule, be strapped in, and stare at a virtual roller coaster on a screen while you’re being tossed around inside the capsule. Bleccchhhhh.

It’s no wonder that I was perfectly content just drawing Minnie Mouse at the “Animation Academy” lesson.

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My cousin said she was a chubby Minnie. I call it baby Minnie.

Air hockey, giant Fruit Ninja, and Dance Dance Revolution were also pretty fun 🙂

We ended our night at Splitsville “Luxury Bowling” for dinner (even though we didn’t bowl). We shared fried calamari to start, and then I had the ahi tuna salad with Asian pear dressing. Tasty!

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Earlier yesterday morning, I ate a nice and filling breakfast that consisted of butt-end toasts with sunflower seed butter and peanut butter; plain Greek yogurt with honey, cinnamon, nutmeg, and banana slices; and some mango.

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I woke up at 8:30 after going to bed at 2:30 AM, so I actually went back to sleep for another hour after breakfast and some blog reading. When I re-awoke, I ate another banana and then tackled some moves. Yesterday was a 5 minute jump rope warmup, foam rolling, and this at-home chipper workout from Tina.

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{via}

This is a GREAT workout. Challenging, quick, and no equipment required! However, I did use a 36# barbell for 50 of the squats and an abmat for the sit-ups for a little bit of an extra challenge. I also did jump lunges instead of alternating lunges. My quads were Jell-O.

Lunch followed immediately after! I ate some bites of my mom’s leftover seafood mofongo from Tuesday night, and then I made myself avocado toast and two-egg scramble with spinach and feta. I also ate a clementine after this— they’re sweet and juicy this time of year!

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We ate outside because the weather was perfection. I expressed my love for this moment on Instagram 🙂

Now I want to put on my serious-ish face and talk to you about something. (Warning: some of the following content may be triggering to those struggling with eating disorders. Take care! ♥ )

judgmental hunger cues

Whenever I go on day-long outings with family and friends other than my immediate family, I tend to fall into the dreaded comparison trap when it comes to food (obviously not a fault of my family or friends whatsoever!). I’ve gotten over the comparison trap quite successfully in college, but new situations always seem to throw me right back into it.

For example, I love breakfast, so I’m going to eat a big and/or dense morning meal such as the one I ate yesterday. Then I’ll see that every other person is eating half a waffle with a glass of juice or just a bowl of cereal, and they’ll be completely satisfied. “Oh…”

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This is not to say that there is anything wrong with small breakfasts if that’s your jazz!

It’s easier for me to brush this off because I know I tend to have bigger breakfasts than most of my friends, but that’s what works and that’s what I love. However, three hours later I might be hungry for a snack while no one else is.

There are also times when I’ll be hungry, have a snack, but then at dinner be just as hungry as everyone else who did not eat a snack since lunch. And sometimes I’ve had a bigger lunch than them.

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“Is there something wrong with me? Am I just thinking of food too much? (possibly.) C’mon, Alison, you can’t be hungry right now. You shouldn’t be.”

Shouldn’t. The judgmental word that messes with my brain and results in me overcomplicating food even more.

When I start judging my hunger cues, I sometimes end up eating more than I usually would once mealtime comes, because I don’t want to feel snacky later when no one else feels snacky. I am tempted to restrict (on a much, much smaller scale than I did during my eating disorder) or “compensate”.

{Allow me to clearly say: I have thankfully come a long way from my eating disorder, and I believe that I am at a healthy place mentally and physically. However, I think I speak on behalf of many people who have experienced EDs when I say that there are occasionally residual struggles that never truly disappear.}

In realizing the harm of judging my own hunger cues, I have also come to realize that I do not have the right to judge others’ eating habits (of course, unless something was clearly concerning). I used to wonder why some of my friends weren’t as hungry during lunch in high school, and I would criticize them for not eating enough. In reality, I was insecure about my own eating habits, and I unfortunately took it out on others.

God has mercifully given me the strength to deal with the temptation of judgement of myself and others, and I have been able to trust my body’s hunger cues. I know what works for me. Some days it’s a lot of snacks, and some days it’s three square meals. Some days I eat every meal three hours later than “normal” meal times, and some days I have totally disorganized mealtimes.

Our bodies are smart cookies (or smart banana in my case 😉 ) that all work uniquely for each individual. Even then, the body works uniquely for a single individual on different days.

There’s no place for judgement.

I’d also like to reiterate here that I almost never show everything I eat throughout the day on the blog!

Alrighty, I’m done.

Hope you all have a beautiful day! Go easy on yourself.

So tell me:

Do you ever find yourself judging your own eating habits?

Do you like visual-motion/simulator rides?

What is one delicious thing you ate yesterday?

I’m Not Her

Real talk today.

Everyone knows the comparison trap all too well, am I correct? If you’re not familiar with the comparison trap, I say, “What the heck is your secret and could you please share?!”

The major reason I fell into an eating disorder 2.5 years ago was because I compared my body to my friends’ bodies.

Her legs are so much slimmer than mine.

Her jaw line is so much more pronounced.

My arms aren’t as muscular as hers.

I also compared my eating habits to those of my friends and of bloggers (before I started my own blog).

If she’s eating a salad, I need to be eating a salad too.

Her daily calorie intake is only 1300, so I should follow suit.

She only rarely eats dessert, so I should eat dessert even less frequently.

Although I am immensely grateful that these pesky thoughts do not impact me as profoundly as they did a few years ago, I would be lying if I said I do not struggle with them on a daily basis still. When almost every girl (and guy) is stressing over the freshman fifteen and making new friends, it becomes quite difficult to stay focused on how I function, rather than how everyone else functions.

For instance, I was eating an absolutely delicious piece of banana bread fresh out of the oven (thanks to our generous faculty in residence!) with the heavenly addition of peanut butter smeared on it. Another girl saw that I had peanut butter and excitedly asked if I had some, so of course I offered to share. But then she said, “No, no…it’s too fattening.”

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I immediately felt like I was making an unhealthy decision by putting peanut butter on my banana bread and said, “Wow now I feel bad.” But then I realized that no, I don’t feel bad for having the freaking rockstar combination that is banana bread and peanut butter. I know that peanut butter is fat, but I also know that it’s delicious, filled with protein, and it keeps me satiated throughout the night.

I told someone else that I got up at 7:30 AM on Sunday morning because I was starving and I needed to eat something. She was shocked that I couldn’t sleep just because I was hungry. Again, I felt as if I had “bad” eating habits just because I needed a snack in order to sleep, but then I remembered that I know my body, and guess what! I won’t blow up like a balloon just because I ate before going back to sleep!

I know I eat a lot, but I know what I need to fuel me through the day and help me grow.

Several other comparison thoughts often creep into my mind:

My breakfast is huge. Her breakfast is just a bowl of cereal and fruit.

She’s curling a 40 lb. barbell while I’m just curling 20 lb. one.

Her sense of humor is so much more attractive than mine.

She’s more insightful and intelligent than I am.

In the past, these thoughts probably would have given way to frustration and anger at myself for not being “her.” But through prayer and experience, I have come to peace (most of the time) with the fact that I am not “her.” She is not me, I am not her, and that’s exactly how God created us— as unique and beautiful individuals in our own rights.

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And you know what I have to say to all those thoughts above?

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day for me, so it’s gotta be big and nutritious.

Form matters more than weight. Focusing on form will allow progress.

I am grateful that I have friends that make me laugh my heart out. I don’t need to strive for attention all the time.

I’m at Boston University, dang it. I am capable of succeeding (with God’s help).

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ALL THE FAT OF PEANUT BUTTER.

Sure, I know I probably gained quite a bit of weight in this past month. Some of it is probably extra cushioning, but honestly, I know that there’s new muscle in there too.

That aside, college has been an incredible experience of cultivating new friendships, strengthening my faith, discovering new knowledge, and maturing as an adult. I feel stronger— physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually— than ever.

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“Comparison is the thief of joy.” This was painfully cliche until I realized how much comparison was dragging me down. Once I came to the obvious enlightenment that I’m not her, it was like singing “I’m like a biiiiiird!” (Nelly song throwback, anyone?) In other words, I was liberated.

God creates beautiful beings. You and me both 🙂

So tell me:

Do you often struggle with the comparison trap?

Something you love about yourself!