It’s Okay to Like (Even Love) Yourself

Last night I had the privilege of joining one of my colleagues for a presentation on body image and eating disorders. The presentation was for Residential Advisers living in the freshmen residence halls, so it mainly focused on recognizing the signs of eating disorders and how to intervene using CAREfrontations. At the end though, my colleague led a 10-minute meditation focused on self-love and body acceptance. While our eyes were closed (and as I was trying my hardest not to lie down and fall asleep) he told us to silently tell ourselves 5 positive things about our body. He then proceeded to say, “It’s okay to like yourself”. After, we discussed how much easier it would have been to say 5 things we didn’t like or wanted to change about our bodies.

Let’s all say it again, “It’s okay to like (even love) yourself.” My brain stopped going at a million miles per minute after he said this, and I just sat there dumbfounded. The silence in the room made it seem like everyone else felt that way too. Let’s just say it was a drop the mic moment. How often are we actually encouraged to like ourselves rather than constantly search for something to change or improve upon? When’s the last time you thanked your body for something it did (maybe even just getting you through the day) instead of wishing something was different about your body? I’ll be the first to admit that my default is the latter. I have to actively try to turn off the negative body talk switch in my brain. It’s not easy and I’m not always successful with it, but I’m aware of it and that’s a step in the right direction.

I don’t believe, in our culture at least, we are taught to like our bodies. Yes, I’ve come across plenty of people that are overly confident in themselves, but that does not necessarily mean they like (or even love) their bodies. The diet industry and the media are constantly reminding us that we could be better. We could be stronger, thinner, faster…whatever the latest fad is. What would happen if a company released a “learn to love your body in 30 days” plan instead of a “get shredded in 30 days” plan? I’m sure this has probably happened, but it didn’t catch on like fad diets do because loving yourself is so much harder than trying to change yourself. It’s simply not encouraged or supported in society. I once read a quote that said, “If you talked to your friends the way you talk to your body, would you have any friends left?” As a teenager constantly being sent messages about how my body should look, this really hit home for me.

I’ll be the first to admit that self-improvement and change are great. In fact, I crave self-improvement and actively seek it out. However, there needs to be a balance. It’s essential that we are still kind to ourselves and express gratitude for what we are now, in this moment. It’s still crucial to like (even love) ourselves while we are pursuing change. It’s a fine line to walk and can be very difficult. For some it’s very easy, but I would guess it takes frequent reminders and work for most people. A simple post-it note on your mirror with a positive affirmation can keep you from engaging in negative self-talk and boost your mood instead. I recently downloaded an app called Productive that helps you develop daily habits. I downloaded it to help me develop the habit of flossing my teeth (yes, I’m still working on that). After the presentation though, I added a daily habit in the morning and the evening to tell myself something I like about myself. It’s only been one day with this reminder, but it was extremely refreshing to take a few moments this morning to say something nice to myself and helped set my mood for the day.

I challenge you to tell yourself 5 things you like (even love) about your body. Then focus on you, as a person. What do you like about yourself? Say it out loud. Just be kind to yourself, because you have the ability to be your biggest fan.

If you tried the exercise and feel comfortable sharing, I would love to hear what it was like for you below!

It's OK to like (even love) yourself.

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Experiments in the Kitchen

I recently became very adventurous in the kitchen and tried a few unconventional things. I frequently see photos of food on Instagram and take a screen shot to remind myself to make it, then rarely actually end up making the food. For some reason, in one weekend I broke out of my forgetful shell and made a smoothie with cauliflower rice, a collard greens wrap, homemade mayo and cauliflower tabbouleh. Now, I realize some of those sound a little odd, please keep reading. I wouldn’t share them with you if they weren’t delicious.

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Smoked salmon, homemade mayo, shredded carrots, bell pepper and avocado wrapped in a collard green leaf

Cauliflower Chocolate Smoothie

I began reading about this little concoction about a month ago and was initially very skeptical. Given that my goal in life is to eat as many veggies as possible (kidding, but my veggie obsession might surprise you), the skepticism faded and I was convinced this would be delicious. I shared this idea with my student staff at a team meeting and they looked at me like I had gone off my rocker. This just added more fuel to my fire to join in on this cauliflower smoothie craze.

You may be asking, why the hell would I add frozen cauliflower rice to my smoothie? Well to start with, one serving of cauliflower contains 77 percent of the recommended daily value of vitamin C. It’s also a good source of vitamin K, protein, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, magnesium, phosphorus, fiber, vitamin B6, folate, pantothenic acid, potassium, and manganese. Basically, cauliflower is AWESOME. If you need more convincing, it makes your smoothies super creamy. If you are convinced and want to try this recipe, I recommend making life easier on yourself and buying the frozen cauliflower rice (sold at Trader Joes).  If you love washing your food processor, unlike me, you can learn how to make and freeze cauliflower rice here.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup frozen coconut rice
  • ¼ cup frozen sliced bananas
  • 1 Tbsp. almond butter
  • 1 Tbsp. chia seeds
  • 1 Tbsp. flax seed meal
  • 1 Tbsp. cocoa powder
  • Dash of cinnamon
  • Enough almond milk to make it the consistency you want it

Add it all in a blender and make some noise! Pour it in a cup and ask someone to drink it then tell them they drank cauliflower. Mind blown.

Creamy and Delicious Homemade Mayo

1 recipe makes about this much! This lasted us about 3 weeks.

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Mayo isn’t unconventional at all. Making it from scratch when the grocery store has 5,000 brands and types though? I consider that pretty unconventional.  However, I don’t plan on ever buying mayo from the store again. I am not a mayo person. Aioli? Love it. But plain mayo has never been a condiment I need to have. Homemade mayo has converted me. After tasting it fresh out of the jar, I wanted to put it on everything.

An immersion blender is absolutely crucial and I cannot testify to using the slow and steady drizzle method with a food processor. I can testify to sticking the immersion blender stick into the mason jar, blending for 60 seconds and calling it quits though. My favorite part is probably that you then store the mayo in the jar, so there are no dishes. Win!

We use avocado oil for pretty much everything we cook. Why? Because you can get a massive jar of it at Costco for an amazing price. Seriously though, I would get a Costco membership just to be able to buy this oil. It has a super high smoke point and is very light in color and flavor. Light oil with minimal flavor is important for homemade mayo. If you want to give it flavor, you can totally jazz it up! I’ve seen chipotle lime mayo, garlic mayo, basil mayo. I plan to adventure soon but for now, let’s stick with the original.

Creamy and Delicious Homemade Mayo

Ingredients

  • 1 cup avocado oil
  • 1 egg, at room temperature
  • 1-2 tsp. lemon juice
  • ½ tsp. pink Himalayan sea salt

Add all ingredients in a wide mouth, pint size mason jar. Stick the immersion blender to the bottom of the jar and blend for about 30 seconds. It will come together very quickly. Then push the blender up and down until it all mixes together. It should take about another 30 seconds. Dip your finger in a lick!

What have you been experimenting with in the kitchen? I’d love to hear about it below!

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Cauliflower Tabbouleh on the right. So fresh and light!

Insights I Learned through Pursing a Health and Wellness Coaching Certification

I recently completed an 18-week Health and Wellness Coaching course through WellCoaches. I spent 90 minutes a week on a teleclass with individuals from all over the country.  It was an amazing experience. I didn’t realize that by taking the course I would also be learning more about myself than I ever have and would be forced to dig deep into my own health and wellness.

I’ve always been interested in this topic and have a Masters in Public Health in Health Promotion and Behavioral Sciences, so I went into this thinking it would be a breeze…maybe I was a little over confident. While I did pick it up quickly, I realized that health and wellness coaching is an entirely unique skill set. I believe the skills I learned and insights I had throughout the course are transferrable to other aspects of my life, so I wanted to share what I learned with you all!

Listening, really listening is really hard

Sometimes my husband will be telling me a story and throw in a curveball like, “The Pope pooped his pants” just to see if I’m listening. Most of the time, I will nod my head and make some sort of “yeah I’m listening” noise, although I’m really thinking about what food is in the fridge that needs to be used soon. He gets me every time. I should have realized that I was a poor listener in those situations, but I never truly realized how terrible I was at listening until I spent 90 minutes learning about the different levels of listening. Let’s be real, I probably only really listened to about half of the lesson. There are three different levels and it’s safe to say that I still haven’t graduated from the first level aka I’m easily distracted.

My take away from the lesson was that “Level 1 Listening” means you are not giving that person your full attention and you are more focused on yourself than them. Have you ever heard someone say something then either in your head or verbally related it to something about you or an experience you have had? Until taking this course, I had no idea how frequently I did (probably still do) this. It’s so easy to get sidetracked and relate their experience your own instead of deeply listening to what they are saying.  A good listener would not relate it back to themselves. They would reflect what the other person said back to them. There a variety of reflection techniques, but the jest of it is that you are letting the other person know that you hear them and are clarifying how you interpreted what they said.

I’ve been really focusing on becoming a better listener and let me tell you, it’s hard! I deeply admire individuals that are good listeners and value my conversations with them. Having a conversation with someone that is truly listening to you and reflecting what you are saying is an incredible experience and doesn’t happen enough, in my opinion. There are so many distractions these days, from phones to overbooked schedules, so I challenge you to join me in putting that aside and becoming a better listener.

Focus on the positive: Your strengths and learning experiences

I’ve always considered myself a positive person, maybe even overly positive and annoying to some people in certain situations.  However, the concept of strengths-based coaching was entirely new to me. Wellcoaches teaches you how to leverage clients’ strengths and best experiences to help them develop confidence and self-efficacy to change their behaviors. For example, let’s say an individual wants to quit smoking and they have done so in the past, but are smoking again now. The coach would say, “What allowed you to be in successful in the past?” not “Why did you start smoking again?”  Another question could be, “What was your best experience with quitting smoking in the past?”  Essentially, you are helping the client realize that they have the strength within themselves to lead healthier lives.

I’ve also begun to view goals as learning experiences. Every session with a client you do weekly goal reviews and are supposed to ask questions like, “What was your best experience with this goal?” or “What did you learn from pursuing this goal?” It’s easy to get down on yourself for not accomplishing a goal, but viewing it as a learning experience takes away the failure aspect. Since we, as humans, tend to have a negativity bias, it’s crucial to change clients’ mindsets about goals. Let’s say someone wanted to run three times for 30 minutes, but only actually ran once for 10 minutes. They might enter the coaching session feeling pretty bummed about the goal, but coaches can help shift their mindset so they leave feeling motivated and excited for the next week ahead. Maybe they didn’t meet their goal, because they realized they actually just hate running.  Rather than continuing with that goal then, they can switch it to something they enjoy and look forward to trying again instead of quitting.

You don’t have to have a wellness coach to practice this strategy in your own life. Although if you’d like one, you know who to reach out to 😉 You can have these conversations with yourself in your own head. If something you were hoping to do didn’t go as planned, look at is a learning experience instead of saying hurtful and shaming things to yourself. Focus on what went well. Ask yourself what was the best experience with the goal, not “why can’t I ever do anything right”. Be your advocate and friend. Support yourself and remind yourself that you’re awesome and capable of amazing things. Because, YOU are.

Interested in learning more about your own strengths? This VIA Character Strengths Assessment is a fun way to do so! http://www.viacharacter.org/www/Character-Strengths-Survey

Relationship between Exercise & Food

How many times have you heard someone say, “I worked out earlier, so I don’t feel bad eating this” or “I can’t believe I ate (insert food they feel “bad” about eating), I definitely need to go to the gym tomorrow.” I’ve literally seen a gym advertisement that said “Pizza tonight. Gym tomorrow.” I cringe when I hear these statements. Exercise does burn calories and is good for your health; I have no problem with that. In fact, exercise is extremely beneficial for your physical and mental health. It gives you energy, relieves stress and anxiety, boosts your mood, improves sleep, strengthens your immune system and reduces your risk for many preventable diseases. If exercise does so many of these amazing things, why don’t we focus more on these benefits and less on the negative relationship between exercise and food?

My issue with clumping exercise and food together is that, in most cases, we turn exercise into punishment for eating (insert low nutritional quality food). Rather than focusing on all of the amazing things that exercise does for our bodies, we are focusing on how we are going to use exercise to burn off some food we feel bad about consuming. This in turn creates a negative relationship with exercise, when instead we could be thinking, “I’m really stressed right now. Exercise would make me feel better.”

This issue delves deeper into extrinsic vs. intrinsic motivation for exercise. If we solely focus on extrinsic motivators, like body composition, we are much more likely to lose our desire to regularly engage in exercise. If we don’t see the results we want in the amount of time we think we should, it’s really easy to lose motivation. However, when we link exercise to how we feel or something within us, we can reflect on that intrinsic motivator every time we move our bodies. For example, I like being strong, because it is relates to my desire to be independent. If I need something moved or lifted, I enjoy knowing I can do it myself instead of waiting for someone to do it for me. Sure, I enjoy the muscle definition that being strong provides, but feeling competent and physically able makes we want to sustain a consistent exercise schedule for the rest of my life.

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I do think that food and exercise are very interrelated, but I think it is essential view this relationship with a positive light. Food fits into two categories for me: fuel and pleasure. Most of the time, I see food as fuel to make me stronger, help me perform better in workouts and focus at work. Our bodies rely on us to fuel them with the food they need to get us through the day and handle the many demands that life throws at us. From years of listening to my body, I know what fuel my body needs to perform at its best. I know that I can’t eat much before exercising, but I do need a large breakfast full of veggies, fruit, protein and fats after working out to keep me satisfied all morning. On the flipside, I know that consuming a lot of sugar makes my head foggy, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to stop eating sugar all together.

Sometimes I eat food simply for the pleasure of eating it, despite knowing that it won’t do anything beneficial for my body. Sugar usually falls into this category. I don’t focus on this too much though, because I know that it’s not my body’s main source of fuel. When an opportunity arises that involves a food that gives me pleasure, I try to focus on the experience not how I’m going to “burn” it off later. For example, I don’t frequently get the opportunity to share a donut with my nephew on a Sunday morning. We recently had a sleepover with him, so better bet that I sat there soaking up the moment and the donut! Did my body feel awesome after? Not exactly, but I really enjoyed the moment instead of thinking about how I was going to “work” it off.

Is it always easy to avoid turning exercise into punishment for food consumed? No. It’s extremely hard, because of the messages that society and the media have ingrained into our culture. I find my mind frequently letting those thoughts sneak into my head. Now that I am aware of the negative impacts these messages have on my overall outlook on health, I can quiet these thoughts and reframe them in a positive light. So, I challenge you to try the same strategy. Next time you are eating something that might not have the most nutritional value or isn’t something you regularly eat, just simply enjoy it. Don’t think about exercise at this time.Think about how the food tastes, smells and the memories it brings to your mind. Then when you’re thinking about exercise, think about all the positive ways it will benefit your health. Think about how you are going to feel after you exercise and how your body 20 years from now will thank you for investing in its health.  When someone around you makes a negative comment about exercise and food, take this moment as an opportunity to educate them. We have the power to change the conversation and create more positive spaces around us and our community.

I’d love to know your thoughts on this! Comment below 🙂

Weekly Grub + Protein-Packed Any Day Pancakes

Happy Monday! How was your weekend? We had a lovely weekend that included a lot of activities and some much needed relaxation. At one point on Sunday afternoon, I was lying in bed with coffee and a homemade mini pop tart, the sun was coming through our window and I was doing some work on the computer. It was absolutely wonderful.

I didn’t do much meal prepping last week and I definitely noticed the difference. I enjoy looking in the fridge on Monday and seeing stacks of Tupperware filled with prepped food ready to be cooked or eaten. I don’t enjoy looking in the fridge on Monday and thinking, “Crap I still need to get that ready for dinner.” Yesterday I spent some extra time prepping the following recipes, so we can have quick and nutritious meals all week long:

  • Breakfast for the Week: Salmon and Asparagus Frittata + Sautéed Kale + Avocado
    • Mix 1 can of salmon, 8 eggs and 1 bunch of asparagus (chopped) in a bowl. Sprinkle in salt, pepper and garlic powder. Pour in a greased 8×8 dish and bake at 350 degrees. I can’t tell you how long to bake it, because I forgot to set a timer and also completely forgot I put it in the oven. Luckily, I smelled it before it overcooked. Cut into 4 squares for a quick, ready to eat breakfast!
    • Remove kale leaves from stems and chop. I like sautéing these fresh each morning.
  • Sunday Dinner + Weekday Lunches: Lasagna with Eggplant and Zucchini Noodles
    • Prep: I cooked the sauce in the slow cooker all day, so I could just assemble the lasagna on Sunday night.
  • Monday: Fish Tacos + Sautéed Bell Peppers
    • Prep: Make coleslaw and slice bell peppers on Sunday.
  • Tuesday: Jalapeno Steak Salad
    • Prep: Make dressing, marinade and defrost steak on Sunday.
  • Wednesday: Leftover night! I’ll defrost something from the freezer.
    • Prep: Defrost on Monday.
  • Thursday: Cracklin’ Chicken + Twice Baked Cauliflower Casserole
    • Prep: Defrost chicken on Monday and chop cauliflower on Sunday.
  • Friday: Pizza Night out!
    • Prep: Agonize over where we want to get pizza from 😉
  • Snacks
    • Cashew butter (make on Sunday) + fruit
    • Beef jerky + pumpkin seeds

Protein Packed Any Day Pancakes

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Typically, I only consider making pancakes on the weekend. It involves taking out many different ingredients, some of which are in the powder form. This means that there will inevitably be a dusting of flour on my countertops when I’m done preparing them. I don’t need that on a weekday. However, these one-bowl, relatively mess free pancakes come together quickly and only make enough for 1 serving. Therefore, you don’t have to stand over the stove flippin’ cakes all morning. Also, as much as I love real pancakes, they don’t have the amount of protein I’m hoping for after a strenuous morning workout. I have no idea what the exact amount of protein these pancakes have, nor do I care enough to figure it out. However, I do know that these pancakes keep me full for hours and make me very happy. That’s all that matters to me.

I just throw these ingredients together and hope for the best. Last time I did measure some of the more important ingredients, like baking powder, but please be flexible and add whatever you like! There are tons of variations of this recipe and the general concept has been flooding Pinterest for a while. After many trials and errors, this is what I’ve learned:

  • Use a ripe banana, like you would use for banana bread. If you don’t have a ripe banana, don’t fret! Simply slice up the banana and microwave it for a minute. It will caramelize and become much softer.
  • The 2-ingredient egg and banana pancakes don’t do it for me. I think adding baking powder and protein powder makes them more pancake like.
  • Cook them low and slow and use oil on your pan! Coconut oil gives them a lovely flavor.

Serves: 1 (4 small pancakes)

Ingredients

  • 1 ripe banana, mashed
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ scoop of protein powder (I use vanilla protein powder. You can add more if you want, but I think the protein powder flavor takes over the pancakes.)
  • ½ tsp. almond or vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 Tbsp. flaxseed meal
  • Sprinkle of cinnamon

Instructions

  1. Mash banana and add in egg. Whisk until well combined.
  2. Add in remaining ingredients and whisk until well combined.
  3. Heat a skillet on medium-low and coat skillet with oil.
  4. Drop ¼ cup of batter at a time onto the skillet. I can usually get 4 pancakes, but it will depend on the size of your banana and eggs.

How I Got Tricked into Joining a Crossfit Gym

When people ask me if I miss living in San Diego, I usually stare at them with a dumbfounded look on my face as I wonder who would even ask that question. If you’ve ever been to San Diego, even on vacation, you understand. It’s an amazing place. Of course I miss the beaches and the weather, that’s a given. But, one of the things I miss the most is the countless exercise options. Yes, there are tons of opportunities to move your body outdoors (especially with the lovely weather), but I’m mainly referring to group exercise classes.

You see, I’m a group exercise junky. I fell in love with group exercise when I first attended a Step Aerobics class with my mom when I was 16. I was easily the youngest and most confused in the class, but I absolutely loved every aspect of it. I love the community aspect the classes create. I love when everyone groans and moans together about the instructor throwing them a curveball, like another set of burpies even though you’ve already done like 1,000. Instead of giving up, you come together as a class to complete the challenge and congratulate each other after. I enjoyed group exercise classes so much that I eventually found myself on the other side, as the instructor, getting the eye daggers as I threw curveballs the the poor, sweaty souls in my classes.

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One of my favorite group fitness experiences, teaching at So Cal Fitbody Bootcamp!

When we decided to move back to Davis, one of the first things I looked for (besides trying to find us a place to live of course) was a gym with classes. Needless to say, Davis’ gym game is nowhere close to San Diego’s. There is a huge gym on campus, so I decided that I would just workout on my own. Although it was extremely convenient, my motivation and excitement towards exercise dwindled.

I decided to start looking into other options and while mindlessly scrolling through Facebook one day, an advertisement for Get Fit Strength and Conditioning popped up on my feed. It’s like the Facebook gods were giving me a gift (also sorta creepy).  I signed up for a trial month and was extremely excited to get started with something new. I walked through the front door and checked out the whiteboard for the days’ workout and immediately realized I had just signed up for a Crossfit membership.

I tried Crossfit for the first time in 2011. Crossfit wasn’t nearly as popular then, so I had no idea what to expect. All I knew was that there was a new class available in Davis, so I had to try it.  The coach had me do a 10-minute workout then spent the next hour talking to me about the Paleo diet. It really irks me when people talk to me about food and diets while I’m exercising. I truly enjoy exercise and love the way it makes my body feel. I like to focus on that when I exercise, not what food I should or should not be eating. Instead, please tell me how I can change my form to lift heavier weights and become stronger. Unfortunately, this initial experience with Crossfit really set me off from trying it again.

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Being upside down terrifies me, but I’m quieting the voice in my head and learning to get used to it one day at a time.

Needless to say, I was a little shocked when I found myself at another Crossfit style gym. I was already there though and needed to exercise for my mental health, so I gave it a go and guess what? I absolutely loved it! I loved it so much, in fact, that I signed up for a membership and consider this gym my community now. These workouts challenge me in a whole new way. I am using muscles I didn’t know I had and am getting stronger every week. Every day we focus on how to improve our movements to get better at what we are doing, not how we can burn more calories to change the way our bodies look. The coaches truly care about each individual and their progress. Also, the coaches seem like real human beings, not some superhero fitness people that live crazy, unrealistic lifestyles. On my first day, someone turned to me and asked my name. That rarely happened in a class in San Diego. Everyone supports each other and doesn’t talk about how they feel guilty for their latest “cheat day”. Instead, we motivate each other to push our limits and support each other when we listen to our bodies. Now that’s what I would call motivating.

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Literally supporting each other
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Some of the kids of parents in class joined us for a round of lunges!

The biggest challenge in trying these new workouts is learning to quiet the doubtful voice in my head. I believe I am very good at self motivation and believing in myself, but I do still doubt my abilities from time to time. Do I think I can really lift this bar with weights above my head? Can I really deadlift more than I weigh? It’s incredibly easy to let these voices get the best of you and I have before, but it’s most rewarding when you learn to prove them wrong.

The lessons I am learning in the gym are transferring into other aspects of my life. I’m finding that I am more confident in my ability to accomplish tasks at work and am more willing to tackle challenges I was hesitant to confront before. For example, I officially turned in my parking permit and am a full-time active commuter (woohoo!). Will it be hard to do it on a daily basis? Yes. Do I think I can do it? Yes. Do I think it will benefit my body in the long term? Yes.

 

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When I first walked in and saw this I dreaded the day we would have to climb it. Now, I look forward to it as long as I have long pants on. The feeling of being at the top is incredibly exhilarating.

 

 

2017 Intentions Reflection: Active Commuting

Disclaimer: If you have a terrible commute, this post might make you hate me. Read with caution.

Let’s start this post with some upfront honesty. I live less than 2 miles from my work aaaaaand I pay for a parking pass. Phew, it feels good to get that off my chest. Now before you begin to judge, let me explain. I went to college where I am currently working and biked 90% of the time (the other 10% of the time I begged my roommates with parking permits for a ride). I remember getting to class just drenched in water from biking in the rain. I have scars on my legs from the lovely combination of a city policy to pile your yard waste in the street and my refusal to spend money on a bike light. Safety clearly wasn’t very high on my priority list during my college years.

Basically, when I began working and knew that I could afford a parking pass (one of the many perks of adulting), I said screw biking in the rain and the hot as hell summers- give me that parking pass! Speaking of those insanely hot summers, it’s really hard and uncomfortable to dress “business casual” when it’s over 100 degrees out. My go-to summer work outfit includes a dress or a skirt. Guess what’s difficult to bike in? Dresses and skirts.  Are you starting to understand my reasoning yet?

You’ll be happy to know that my inner physical-activity-loving self felt guilty about having a parking pass ever since Day 1. Do I feel guilty when I happily arrive at work not soaking wet during the winter months? Not one bit. I feel content being warm and dry. But most days, I feel pretty lame about driving. I should let you know though, that I don’t always drive. I frequently walk or bike during the fall and spring when the weather is ideal. Thinking about that just frustrates me though, because I realize that I’m paying for a parking permit and not using it to its capacity. Therefore, I’ve decided that I need to cut the cord and just give up the parking permit altogether.

During the last few months, I’ve been working on a literature review at work to determine how my work will be focused for the next 3 years. I am looking up research and best practices within the last five years related to my content areas: physical activity, nutrition and bike helmets. While searching for ways to increase physical activity levels, the concept of active commuting came up multiple times. I’ve always known that walking or biking to get places was better than driving, but who knew people referred to it by a cool term like “active commuting”?

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White Lightening and I are going to be spending a lot of time together.

Research and science is my jam. I love it. As I was reading more and more about active commuting my guilt for having a parking permit grew immensely. In a recent study from the United Kingdom, researchers assessed data from 18,000 commuters, collected over a 10 year period. Not surprisingly, they found a positive relationship between time spent walking to work and well-being. They even found that individuals’ happiness levels increased significantly when their walk to work increased by 10 minutes. As you may expect, the same cannot be said for drivers. Another study highlighted the fact that commute lengths are linked to a sense of time pressure. People driving feel more stressed when their commute is increased, but active commuters don’t experience the same stress.

When I actively commute to work, I feel like I’ve done some positive for my health and this motivates me to tackle the day. When I’m irritated that I have to sit in yet another meeting, I look forward to spending 30 minutes walking home and giving my body the movement it deserves. Therefore, I’m going to take the plunge to bike in the rain and the 100 heat, possibly even the wind storms (yuck). Instead of making excuses about why I shouldn’t give up my parking pass, I’m going to create opportunities and change my attitude. I’m going to put a fender on my bike, purchase a tire compressor, download some audio books and happily hit the road. My goal is to officially cut the cord on Friday, February 24th and allocate the money I’ll save from not paying for a dang parking permit to my retirement account (more adulting). I’ll keep you updated on how this goes. Hopefully I don’t add more scars to my legs…