Never a Dull Moment

Merry Christmas!!! Happy New Year!!! I am so late in posting this!!!

I hope you all have had a joyful and peaceful Christmas, New Year, and holiday season. I am very grateful for all the blessings that God has brought about this semester and this Christmas, as He always does.

Second year of PT school is off to a fine start! This past semester was lighter in terms of work load, and that might be a reason why I enjoyed it more than others, but was also very genuinely interested in our first neurological systems course, especially since we had the privilege of working with patients every week who had actually had a stroke in their past.

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Of course, Christmas was a joyous and heartwarming celebration of our Savior’s birth! I spent lots of quality time with Madre, Pop, Ben, and Ben’s girlfriend, as well as my aunt, uncle, cousins, and John! We’ve been eating so. much. of Madre’s killer food. My arteries need a break from all of her delicious meats and all of the buttery Christmas cookies (still), but I am not that mad about the cause of the predicament.

Here’s a hodgepodge of snapshots from the latter half of the semester + Christmas! Blessed times, man. And selfies forever.

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On Christmas Eve, I meditated on His name “Emmanuel,” meaning “God with us,” and felt much gratitude for Our Creator becoming so close to us, becoming LIKE us in humanity, to be with us through every emotion and trial in this here earthly life. What Love.

Last Saturday, we drove down to Florida to stay at my parents’ vacation home for the week, and it’s been a lovely, relaxing time in this balmy Southern climate! One highlight was visiting the NASA Kennedy Space Center, which made me both awe-inspired and terrified of outer space. I wonder how people can get rockets to the moon while I can hardly get myself out of bed in the morning. Other highlights have included lots more food, my friend’s cat dressed in a sushi costume, learning how to play Settlers of Catan, and being able to walk in the Florida sunshine. My mother also gifted me a new iPhone X, so pic quality has improved!

Another collage to display the Florida fun:

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So…last year. This year. New Year. That kind of ~soft~ stuff.

There truly was never a dull moment in 2018. It was one of the most emotionally difficult years of my life. If I could guess the number of days that I cried (for better or for worse) in 2018, I’d estimate 300/365 days of the year. I’ve cried and seen others cry enough this year that at one point, a drop of water rolling down the side of my WATER BOTTLE provoked sadness in me because of its mimicry of a tear rolling down someone’s cheek. HAHAHA #melodramatic.

But you bet your bottom dollar those tears came with a lot of growth. I learned…

…how to communicate better, in a way that is both loving and straightforward/sometimes brutally honest. 

…how to better make decisions for myself.

…to allow myself to be uncomfortable and to not push away the feelings of loneliness or brokenheartedness, no matter how major or minor those feelings are, because the Lord makes Himself KNOWN in those feelings.

…forgiveness.

…to care a little less about what other people think.

…to be very comfortable in my own body through its ups and downs, ins and outs, gains and losses.

…God works legit miracles in my own life and the lives of my loved ones.

…a heck of a lot about physical therapy.

…the beauty of a man and a woman laying down their lives for one another in marriage (@Rachel and Austin).

…gratitude truly is the will of the God (1 Thessalonians 5:18), and it always brings a lot of light and clarity to life.

Although some of the non-dull moments of 2018 were quite difficult and painful, there were many moments that made my heart SOAR with joy. Instagram has some evidence of  the latter:

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hearts that are His #retreat #totustuus

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In 2019, I’d like there to be “never a dull moment” as well. Even in the monotony of work and life, it’s impossible for there to be a dull moment when there is so much that can be extracted from the moment — so many things for which to be grateful, so many ways to remain in His humble and simple love.

Hopefully the non-dull moments are more joyful than not, but whatever the weather, I am HERE FOR IT. Because God is good all the time.

Have a fabulous weekend! We are hittin’ the road back to NY already tomorrow!

So tell me:

What were some of the never-dull moments of 2018 for you?

What did you do for Christmas/the holidays/New Year?

What are you excited for in 2019?

 

 

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The Most Low Key New Year’s Eve

Happy 2017!!! That’s such a weird year number, but I can’t wait to see what it brings.

Saturday started with a fun stair workout to mix things up:

10-8-6-4-2 sets of stairs with two 5# dumbbells. This circuit in between each set:

I like this one a lot! After stretching and showering, I helped Madre prepare lunch for some family friends who I hadn’t seen since I was in diapers (so basically meeting them for the first time!). I made the salmon by baking it with a marinade of garlic salt, pepper, mustard, honey, and dried dill. It was one of the best salmons I’ve ever cooked!

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Madre did most of the cooking though. She made sautéed vegetables, brown rice, Chinese sausage, pork ribs, and pasta with meat sauce (“for the kids”). As always, everything was fantastic! Madre is amazing.

We ended the meal with her fried bananas, clementines, and some mint chip ice cream that was sitting in our freezer. We defy all common food combinations.

Once our house guests departed, we headed to vigil Mass. After that, I felt a wall of exhaustion hit me — the kind where I don’t want anyone to talk to me, because it takes too much energy to respond (or at least respond without sounding really grumpy). So I napped!

Soon after I woke up, we left for our 8pm dinner reservation at Seasons 52, a restaurant I had visited once before and wanted to return to while we were in Florida. They serve up a lot of delicious seasonal dishes that are sophisticated but not intimidating, healthy enough but not obnoxiously healthy.

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We all shared a braised short rib flatbread and blistered shishito peppers to start, which were both super tasty.

For me entree I ordered the caramelized sea scallops with leek and butternut squash risotto, broccolini, and lemon butter. I LOVE scallops and these were great!

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We like to share bites of all our dishes, so I had a bite of Madre’s roasted pork tenderloin with mashed sweet potatoes, Ben’s seafood paella, and Pop’s lamb shank. All got a big thumbs up!

Our last dessert of 2016 was a trio of the famous Seasons 52 “delights” — classic desserts in mini glasses. I got the pecan pie, Madre got the chocolate peanut butter torte (this was my favorite!), and Ben got the raspberry cannoli.

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With full and happy bellies, I drove us home for the New Year’s countdown. There were fireworks going off from every direction (I think Disney was setting off a show every hour), so we didn’t even have to go anywhere to experience the celebration. Good thing, because my whole family was in bed before midnight, haha.

I spent the first hours of 2017 FaceTiming Rachel! It was cozy and fun 🙂

On the first day of 2017, I spent the whole day chillin’ at home. I…

  • Slept in. I feel like my sleep deficit is finally catching up with me.
  • Moved and grooved. I stretched (oh so sore from Saturday’s workout), tried to learn a dance on Youtube (lol), had a dance party by myself, and did Colby’s first workout of her 10 day holiday workout challenge!
  • Blogged (2016 recap here!)
  • Caught up with a couple friends
  • Listened to a great podcast
  • Caught up on other people’s blogs
  • Made breakfast for dinner

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open faced egg, Canadian bacon, and cheese sandwich + sautéed spinach

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more bread for dessert — toast with butter, honey, and cinnamon (tastes like a cinnamon roll!)

I’m off to San Antonio tomorrow for SEEK, a Catholic college students’ conference, and I’m pumped!!

I also just want to say thank you for being you. For your support this past year, your kind words, your prayers, and your existence. Much love to you ♥︎

So tell me:

How did you spend NYE and the first day of the year?

Dear Alison… {A Look Back at 2016}

Dear 2016 Alison,

It’s been one heck of a year. A lot of people are hating on 2016, but bad things happen every year. There has also been a lot of good that 2016 brought to the world, such as the canonization of Mother Teresa, the summer Olympics, and a whole lot of other things that you didn’t even realize happened until you Googled it just now.

But look at what God has blessed YOU with in 2016…

January

You tried the highly acclaimed BodyPump for the first time, and it was fine. You also bonded with fellow bloggers and good friends in NYC — with Colby over Lloyd’s incredible carrot cake and with Christine over Asian food (lol). I forgot that you contemplated Whole 30 for a while! But you know dairy and grains aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. On the college front, you learned a little more about how to deal with stress, and you started your little “Five Minute Friday” series! *squishes your cheeks*

February

HAHA remember when your exercise physiology professor pointed her laser at you in front of the whole class!? Of course you do. Your second sophomore semester would not have been complete without an embarrassing story. Bucket listing with Rachel is going strong. You learned in nutrition class that you need more carbs and less protein (about 3x less protein). You gave up makeup (among other things) for Lent, which was hard, but thank God for your friends pushing you to be better. Retreat was this month!! Don’t forget that it is improbable that you are where you are now. Also, you have some dang good looking friends #winemoms.

March

Looking good in that VO2Max test in exercise physiology… But eyyyy, SPRING BREAK! A couple fun road trips with Joe and Louis, good food at home, and a heck of a lot of sriracha. You also snuck into a bar, you rebel! *low key fist bump* But you ordered a Shirley Temple anyway, haha. Sarah, founder of Fit University, invited you to take one of her first Cyc classes, and she kicked your butt. Lastly, Easter was the perfect ending to a pretty spectacular month ♥︎

April

I’m proud of you for finally pulling off a decent April Fools’ joke. Annual swing dancing is always fun, and you should keep it up. This month included the first annual St. Sebastian Cup with the Catholic Center, and it was a BLAST, although you did get beat up pretty badly. Make sure you win in 2017. You convinced some friends to work out with you, which was so fun! Do more of that. Never stop supporting Jordan in her fashion shows. And always make pancakes with Rachel for Marathon Monday like you did this year.

May

Sophomore year — check! And Ben graduated college, go him! You and the fam took a celebratory trip to Stowe, VT, which is a pretty rad place. Hiking, Ben & Jerry’s, special peanut butter, what more could you want? You also stayed at BU for commencement weekend, where you saw a lot of your close friends graduate *tear*. OMG I think my heart breaks/melts/explodes all at the same time when I think about your time with Fiona and Rachel at Fiona’s summer house. 48 hours unplugged never felt so amazing. You started your summer job (that you almost ruined) at a rehabilitation hospital. You also turned TWO DECADES old! Lastly, we can never forget the beautiful Katie Anne, who passed away this month. She was a light and a joy to us all.

June

Poop therapy“, huh? You mean pool therapy, silly. In addition to enjoying work, you realized a few important lessons: you need to simplify your lifeyou cannot let the mirror steal your joyinternet addictions are real, and fitness is more than just skills and numbers. You also learned that the stress of starting something new can cause tummy troubles (you’re not lactose intolerant, hallelujah! but Lactaid was a tasty discovery). Lots of emotions were churning this month with the nation’s tragedies. You got a “Dora the Explorer” haircut according to some people (-_-) You always get mixed reviews on your short haircuts. Go be a tourist in your own backyard more often with some friends!! Really, just go back to get a Levain Bakery cookie again.

July

You started taking initiative with learning more current events. What happened?? Get back on that train! Then came the best vacation ever — a Caribbean cruise with the family and your family friends for your parents’ 25th anniversary! So much food. Monkeys on your head. So many beautiful places. AND YOU MET US THE DUO AND BASICALLY BECAME FRIENDS WITH THEM!!! Another great part of the vacation? Not feeling the need to compensate afterward. You shared everything about your current fitness situation. I’m glad you are, above all, having fun with fitness. I’m also glad that you don’t get as stressed if you’re not hungry before a big planned meal.

August

Can you make this artichoke chicken pasta dish again?? I forgot you made that. Also, make that Brazilian cheese bread soon. Working at the rehab hospital definitely helped you become more of a grown up, I’d say. This year’s Olympics were pretty stellar (especially on the US women’s gymnastics front!). You had zero emotions regarding leaving for study abroad in Ireland… If only you knew what was in store. Your grandparents celebrated their 50th Golden Anniversary!! How inspiring. And you celebrated three short years of blogging. It’s been a great adventure though. You also got your first stethoscope from the physical therapists at work, oooooo!

September

You flew to Ireland to study there for 3.5 months! But first your family + family friends did some serious foodie work in NYC. Wowza. In Ireland, you faced some comparison trap struggles, but you powered through. Ugh, I miss the scones, greenery, and mayyyybe even the ability to drink alcohol in Ireland. Also all those desserts. You had your first Aibnb experience in Galway (still the best Airbnb ever)! Howth and the Cliffs of Moher were two of the most beautiful sights you’d ever seen. You finally learned that education should be about a desire to learn, not a desire to “just do well.” You were also challenged in your beliefs, which was scary but actually very fortifying for your faith at the end of the day.

October

“Booze and Grooves” (coined by your friend Ben) commenced during your class field trip to Northern Ireland. You really started settling into your routine in Ireland at this point. I know that saying “yes” isn’t always easy for you, but you really learned how to do that more while abroad. You even went out on a whim and planned a last minute wine and cheese night for everyone in the program! Then came the European trip of a lifetime, which started with Zurich, Switzerland (so expensive). Then to Padua (where you got to practice your Italian right away), Assisi (BEST PLACE ON EARTH), and finally, Rome (thank God for priest and seminarian friends/family and Pope Francis!). I’m proud of you and Megan for traveling on your own through foreign countries. ALSO proud of you for starting Harry Potter together!!!

November

Brunch game in Dublin was so strong. You did some more exploring in the gorgeous country of Ireland. This was also your first Thanksgiving away from home, but Friendsgiving with the people in your program was so heartwarming (and yummy). You also started your internship at a physiotherapy clinic in Dublin this month! You learned all about dry needling, myofascial trigger points, and massage therapy. And now you give great massages 🙂

December

Congrats! You know how to pour the perfect pint of Guinness. More importantly, you know that 100% recovery is possible. Now that you’re a Harry Potter fan, Scotland was one of the most magical places you’ve ever visited. And just like that — your semester in Ireland flew by in the blink of an eye. You grew and learned more than you could have ever imagined in those 3.5 months. Coming home was so sweet though. And now you’re finishing up a food-tastic vacation with the fam in Florida!

Keep working on being a good listener to other people.

Keep an open mind.

Keep pursuing a deep relationship with God.

Here’s to a new year,

2017 Alison

“It’s Just Food”

This is the phrase that has helped me keep a happy relationship with food in the past month or so.

When we were still in Dublin, Megan and I were talking about the different kinds of gluttony (#CatholicConvos), and what I learned from our conversation was that there are different kinds of gluttony. It’s not just eating too much; it can be eating too little, being unnecessarily picky or elitist with food, or being too preoccupied with food.

(Important: This doesn’t mean that people with eating disorders are gluttonous by choice, but there are similar behaviors involved.)

At the end of our conversation, Megan said something so simple that stuck with me:

It is just food.

Personally, this phrase helps me fight both temptations to overeat and temptations to restrict.

  • If I’m feeling greedy for food, I can tell myself, “It’s just food. It will not bring you lasting joy.”
  • If I’m feeling disappointed that something I ordered at a restaurant was less healthy than I was expecting, I can tell myself, “It’s just food. You are not a bad person because of this food. Enjoy what you’ve been given and be grateful.”

I am nowhere near perfect, of course, but reminding myself that food is just food can be very helpful in the moment.

(Also important: Food is just food, but of course this does not discredit the value of nutrition. Dietetics is a career for a reason!)

Now, let’s see how 2016 has been closing out over here!

Wednesday

I woke up wanting to do some fun moves and grooves that were different from my usual HIIT formats, so I came up with this circuit that I could do outside with the random pieces of equipment we had on hand.

4 rounds:

  • 30 double unders
  • 10 agility skaters each leg
  • 10 bar facing burpees
  • 30 stability ball crunches
  • 20 hamstring ball curls
  • 10 bench jumpovers
  • 10 decline pushups
  • 10 bulgarian split squat to press each leg
  • 3 wall walks
  • 20 double KB squats
  • 15 side plank crunch reaches each leg

This was super fun and tiring! Props to Madre for doing a great job filming 🙂

Afterwards, I showered and ate a small bowl of Greek yogurt, banana, cereal, and pb before we set off for yet another brunch! This one was big, but not as big as Monday’s. I think we would die if we did that again.

We went to Peach Valley Cafe, which is a place Ben and Madre had visited a couple times before. They wanted us to try their famous apple fritters with strawberry yogurt(!?)!

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they shake ’em up table side and then pour them out for the hungry crowd

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Ohhhhh man. These were like those freshly made, hot cider donuts at an apple orchard, except with bigger apple chunks inside and a creamy, sweet tang of strawberry yogurt on top. Unexpected but delicious combo!

For my main course, I ordered the superfood salad with salmon, but they accidentally gave me the summer salad, which I didn’t realize until I had already eaten half of it. It’s just food though.

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It was average. BUT Madre gave me basically a whole one of her blackened cod fish tacos, which were fantastic.

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Pop also shared his amazing buttery biscuit with us.

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Plus a couple of Madre’s sweet potato fries, which were definitely from frozen, but that’s okay.

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Okay, so maybe this was just as big as Monday’s brunch.

We headed to a park after brunch to walk around and admire its intense greenery.

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Next stop was Winter Park, a very posh and trendy city. In true “us” fashion though, we perused the outrageous candy store with seven billion kinds of soda and sweets that are intriguing but also make you gag.

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a disgrace to carrot cake and pb&j

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kid in a candy store 😉

We didn’t get candy, but we did get a burger from BurgerFi, which is not even an independent, trendy restaurant. It’s a chain…and there’s even one in BOSTON. Hahaha.

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Madre gets weak at the knees if anything has wagyu beef in it, so she asked if we could split it four ways… Pop: “I can’t tell if she’s kidding or not.”

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Ben: “It’s probably only 10% wagyu beef”

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it was super tasty, but oil was driiiiipping down my hand

After our burger adventures, we walked around Rollins College, which has a gorgeous campus.

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Pop: “It’s more like a resort than a college campus.”

Our next stop was East End Market, a small hipster market with lots of local produce, artisan foods, and craft beers.

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they even grow their own greens out front!

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I didn’t get anything here, but Madre got some brisket tacos, and Ben and Pop delighted in a beer flight.

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I really wanted to try their blueberry vanilla beer that they were raving about, but I’m not legal in this country yet. The one time I actually DO want to try beer…

We visited the Gaylord Palms Resort afterwards, since Madre loves it there. And finally we ended with a late but proper dinner at a local Latin restaurant. Ben and I shared the grilled chicken plate, which was a great ending to a great day.

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Thursday

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breakfast: overnight oat smoothie with oats, yogurt, milk, cinnamon, nutmeg, pb, pinch of salt, frozen banana, and greens + granola

Mall day with Madre! We spent a long time at the Mall at Millennia, Marshall’s, and Costco (probably my favorite place out of the three, honestly). At the mall, we had lunch at California Pizza Kitchen.

At night, we joined the boys to watch Sing (Tori Kelly is in it hehe), which was a fun and very well done animated movie with a lot of talented voices. Definitely recommend!

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from Monday at Universal Studios 🙂

I may or may not have cried when Tori’s character, Meena, sang “Hallelujah”.

Friday

I started the day with a warmup and 16 minute workout before breakfast and a shower.

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the return of Gina’s cookie dough breakfast cereal!

Then Ben, Pop and I were off to Blue Spring State Park to see some manatees! The temperatures were frigid for Florida (read: low 60s with a breeze), which is perfect manatee spotting weather.

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tail spotted

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peep the little big guy’s snout

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these poor sea sausages are endangered 😦

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the spring really does look blue!

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We walked around and observed the gentle giants for an hour or so before I got really hungry and needed a big sandwich. I found Laspada’s on Yelp, so we drove there to get some bomb cheesesteaks.

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because why not have Northeastern cuisine in the South?

Ben got an original philly cheesesteak combo, I got the chicken cheesesteak supreme, and Pop got a grilled chicken salad.

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very hungry girl + eating a hot and fresh chicken cheesesteak = extremely satisfied

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Shoutout to all my Southern friends who are obsessed with authentic sweet tea:

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It really is better than Arizona iced tea.

When we got home, I laid in bed for a solid 20 minutes, on the verge of a nap. But then Pop asked if I wanted to walk to the driving range with him, so I agreed.

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We practiced “chipping”, which is a bit easier than “driving”(?) the ball. I might be getting okay at golf.

We are packing in the fun into the last of 2016 while it lasts! Be back soon with an end-of-the-year post 🙂

So tell me:

Thoughts on the “it’s just food” mantra?

Three things you’ve done to close out 2016!

Being Careful With So Much Free Time + Recent Eats

Remember Facebook/AIM/Twitter statuses like this?

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Translation: “Someone hit me up, I’m bored as !@#$.”

For the record, I never posted statuses like this, mostly because “af” was a little too rebellious for me. I did post photos like this though…

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ONLY five years ago!?

…which are 100x worse in my opinion. This is NETC, the Italian class “pet”. I’m in physical pain looking at this/thinking about the fact that I posted this on Facebook.

Anyway, I’ve been trying not to fall into that “bored af” mode. I’m keeping busy by meeting up with friends, catching up on blog stuff, chores, errands, exercise, and reading. My planner is really helping me stay accountable for daily tasks.

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That being said, I’d be lying if I said I’m not looking for things to do sometimes. Living in this age, when I’m looking for things to do, I almost robotically turn to social media. It pains me to say that I don’t turn to a good book or calling a friend or doing something else productive, but it’s true. I open up Facebook or Instagram.

Katherine from The Peanut Butter Lover just posted an incredible reflection on how subconscious scrolling is the norm these days. I am most definitely in that camp, and as hard as I strive to be more present (said everyone, always), I can’t help but fall into the trap of the hypnotic newsfeed, especially when I’m not as busy like I am during school.

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Besides the problem of not being present, I have to be careful with how much time I spend looking at fitness accounts on Instagram. I’ve recently found myself watching minutes, half-hours, whole hours browsing various fitness accounts.

Please let me be clear. I only enjoy following fitness accounts that are uplifting, genuinely inspiring, and balanced (for example, @kaisafit, @shaunaharrison, and @fitphotographermom). When I’m spending time on such accounts, I’m not comparing my body to theirs or thinking about how I can burn more calories. If I was, I would certainly express that (honesty is the best policy on Moves and Grooves after all). I’m more so thinking things like, “How can I get to where they are? What exercises do I have to do to achieve that? Should I do that today even though I’m sore? I want to be that strong too.”

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Even though my mind is in a much healthier place when I’m looking at social media these days, I still need to be wary of the comparison trap. I have come a long way throughout recovery, and the major lesson I’ve learned is that I don’t need to be her. I know this, but I need to remind myself of it often.

I do believe that I can find fitness inspiration without disordered thinking, but I just have to be careful not to become so immersed in it. I have an obsessive personality, so I need to use my extra free time prudently while I’m on break.


Now that we’ve had a nice heart to heart (or, my heart to yours…), let’s look at some of the good eats from this week!

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A classic: toast, pb, banana, cinnamon + glass o’ milk

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spaghetti squash, tomato basil sauce, and grilled Italian chicken (carbs were had before and after :))

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new favorite: Kylie’s simple paleo pancake with peanut butter, Greek yogurt, cinnamon + glass o’ milk

I met up with my dear friend Fiona (from college) on Monday. We went to the outlet mall, ate some Shake Shack, and had our own heart to heart conversations. She’s studying abroad this coming semester, so I’m gonna miss her like crazy!

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“Concrete” at Shake Shack. I got vanilla frozen custard with strawberry puree and “crispy crunchies”.

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chicken, avocado, mixed greens, colby jack cheese, and sriracha sandwich to go

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good ol’ overnight oats topped with granola

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avocado, egg, cheese, sriracha sandwich + salad with homemade honey mustard dressing

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clementines are off the CHAIN right now

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strawberries ‘n’ cream protein smoothie

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this was so good: quinoa, honey balsamic chicken, and roasted broccoli

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dried figs with Greek yogurt!!! bringing back the good stuff

Additionally, I’ve been eating leftover cookies that overfloweth in our refrigerator and caramel popcorn that my aunt gave us. It’s a hard life, eh?

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my aunt’s delicious oatmeal fruit cookie mini muffins

Hope you all have a great day! I mean it.

So tell me: 

What do you find yourself doing if you have too much free time?

Did you post embarrassing things on social media in your younger days?

Are you still eating leftover holiday treats? “New Year, new you” is not a thing here.

Have you tried any delicious recipes recently? I’m thinking that honey balsamic chicken and roasted broccoli will be regular recipes for us!