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Finding the balance of physical and mental health through adventures and fitness

Tag Archives: friends

I was texting with my friend Ali this morning about our visit yesterday. Yesterday, Ali drove from New Jersey to Sleepy Hollow, NY; I drove from Massachusetts to Sleepy Hollow, NY and Samantha drove from Pennsylvania to Sleepy Hollow, NY. We’ve never met. I’ve been texting separately with both of them for months, but they had never talked to each other. We met through Instagram.

Our plan – check out the farmer’s market, get brunch and do whatever touristy things we possibly could.

What happened was a lot more.

Yesterday left my heart full and this morning I felt different. This past week was a pretty good. It wasn’t perfect, but I wasn’t expecting it to be. I just wanted it to be better than previous weeks. I wanted to feel a little happier, a little less tired and more like myself. I’ve been saying that for weeks – I want to feel like myself. I think part of it is, I want the old me, the before all this crap happened me, but the truth is, I can’t go back to that me. So now it’s figuring out how I can be a newer, maybe more sparkly me.

This week, I met some amazing people – some for the first time and some for more adventures. It took me to three different states. I drove through five states. I ate doughnuts and burgers and had excellent coffee and walked and talked and lifted and laughed.

On Tuesday, I met Kolbie. She lives an hour and half away from me in New Hampshire. She’s a full-time law student and we share a passion for lifting and bettering ourselves. She has a take no shit attitude and clearly said, “I will decide when I’m too skinny” when talking about a family member who said she was getting too thin because she was getting to a healthy weight that her family hadn’t seen her at before. She has big goals and a plan to accomplish them. I got the chance to meet her at her gym – no, we didn’t workout together, but checked in while going our own routines. Again, we have different journey’s and different plans, but we can still throw some iron around in the same room.

She told me about her coach and how he supports her and how working with him was the best decision she’s made. We talked about our goals for the upcoming year and there’s a chance our paths could cross on the stage.

We went out for coffee after our lift and we sat there for almost three hours. I didn’t leave until dinner time and it was pitch black. I still had to drive home and I had never been more thankful for packing a protein bar. On the drive home I thought about how happy I was that her and I got to connect in person. We’ve been following each other online all year and only recently started talking to each more regularly. I left New Hampshire thinking about how much I wanted to connect with more people. Get to know them better than the photos they post online. Hear their stories and someone help them figure out their paths.

I met with my therapist on Wednesday and I told him about meeting Kolbie. I told him how the weekend went (wedding weekend) and how I hoped the rest of the week would go. We talked about a plan for when I get back to work at the end of the month  – what I can do to keep my focus. I felt good about what we discussed and I think it helped set me up for the rest of the week.

On Thursday, Liz and I got together to lift in the morning and then adventure down to Providence, Rhode Island. We found out that there’s a new doughnut shop there and we figured we could build a day in the city. Liz and I usually have solid adventures when we get together, but checking out the exhibits at RISD, showed me that how we interpret is very similar. Art’s purpose is to give you a feeling. Everyone is impacted differently by different pieces of art. How I feel about impressionism is different than how someone else feels about watercolor. The conversations we had throughout the museum made me so much more excited to know Liz.

We have fitness in common and we love trying crazy food – I mean, doughnut adventures are a must, but Liz has been a huge part of my life, especially the past few weeks. We connected through Instagram in the winter/spring as I was in competition prep for the Cutler. We talked about the at the time upcoming surgery – she’s had a tummy tuck before. We talked about lifting and goals, but we also talked about our boyfriends and work and our personal lives. But we didn’t meet until this summer. I remember JP asking me who she was and then he just declared that she’s going to be Holyoke Liz – even though that’s not really where she lives, but I guess it’s close enough. There’s an hour distance between us, but only a few seconds via phone. Liz’s background is in psychology, and there have been a few times that I’ve found myself calling her to be talked down from an attack. She has experience working with clients who have anxiety and her patience has been key more times than I want to admit.

I’m just glad that her boyfriend, Dan, let’s me steal her sometimes.

My Friday plans were changed a bit, but only for the better. Because that brings me to Saturday. Samantha and I had been planning to get together for a few weeks. She’s about 40 minutes outside of Philadelphia and we figured out that Sleepy Hollow is our half way point. It’s about a two and a half hour drive for each of us each way. Well, on Friday, I was talking to Ali on the phone and I told her about getting together with Samantha on Saturday. Ali and I were going to meet for lunch on Friday on her way to Boston, but her Boston plans fell through. I told her Sleepy Hollow was only an hour and a half away from her and I could ask Samantha to see if she could join us. She said she didn’t want to crash, but I told her not to worry and I would ask. Samantha said that was fine, but she may need to warm up.

Well. I do believe there was no concern of warming up to each other.

We met at the farmer’s market and managed to drink both wine or gin before 10 am. We found ALL OF THE CARBS and each bought a treat to bring home. I found a black and white cookie, just the white with sprinkles – of course I did. We split a Belguim chocolate and coconut almond brownie three ways because it was the size of my face.

Our second stop was brunch and it was amazing. However, I don’t think I’ve ever had bad brunch. We sat there for two hours and Samantha convinced us to have a second round of mimosas because we parked our cars and were walking around the town anyway. Burgers and muffins and bacon and booze, all before noon. There was more than just eating. We celebrated Samantha’s engagement and meeting new friends. We laughed and talked loudly. If you were walking by us, you wouldn’t have ever guessed that it was the first time we’d me in person.

We did what all good tourists do – hung out in the cemetery. The weather was perfect and the Old Dutch Church sits on a ridiculous hill that can oversee the town. We walked through headstones and looked at the years. So many pre-date 1900, and there were some that had been so weathered that they had nothing on them at all. While we were walking through we passed a few crypts and Samantha decided to knock to see if anyone was home. I think we all were nervous that someone would knock back. Thankfully, the dead were asleep.

We took a bunch of photos, mostly cheesy, but all excellent. There’s a photo of the three of us and I said to Ali that she looked so happy in. Her smile is so big. She said she was genuinely happy. I think we all were. There was something about the day – it was cold when we met up at first, but as the sun got higher and it got warmer, there were more laughs and it felt like we knew each other forever. There was so much building up to meet Samantha and Ali – originally separately, but then even more build up knowing we would all get to hang out all together. Samantha and I had been going back and forth on brunch places, but our conversations date back to my surgery when we played wayyy too many rounds of Words with Friends. Ali and I have recently exchanged numbers, but we’ve been emailing for what seems like forever. Both are hilarious and open minded and tell stories in the best ways possible. Driving home all I could think about was how great the day was, I didn’t want the feeling end.

My heart was full from the day and from the week, really.

Last week brought some clarity, it brought some personal heartache as JP and I are still navigating life living together and making decisions together. But overall, it brought a full heart.

Maybe it’s because it’s November and that we’re going to be stuffing our faces soon and pulling thankfulness out of the air, but I feel grateful for those who I’ve had the chance to meet while I’ve been on leave. I’m grateful for those who have helped me fill my time in between journaling and therapy appointments. I’m grateful for those who were willing to share their stories with me and trusted me enough to share them with all of you as well. At a time where I felt I lost my purpose, so many have helped me find it and create  a path for myself.

Every day I receive messages saying that I inspire you, but I don’t think you realize that so many of you inspire me, encourage me.

Trust me, I’m sure you’ve seen my annoyances, but the bigger picture is that there is something that connects us all and brings us together. Whether it’s making friends over peanut butter – I’m looking at Sarah and Alicia. Or having common ground in our views – hi there Ali. Finding out that you have made a friend who is willing to be weird with you and not judge you – I love you Samantha. A friend who will invite you to their home and sit for hours talking – Oh Jen. Lifting and coffee and adventures and doughnuts – Lori and Liz and Kolbie. I really could list a bunch of people.

This is my fifth week of leave, fourth week of my lifting program and JP is gone on business. I have therapy like normal, I’m working on a paper for class and Jen and I have lunch plans tomorrow with her husband. I imagine that my heart will stay full and my belly will be happy, but maybe not as happy as this past week.

I can’t wait to take you on my adventures and continue this ride.

❤ Cristina

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No matter the task you’re taking on, there will be challenges of varying levels. This is a given, nothing is easy. When I started my weightloss journey, I didn’t have a support system or any one person who had verbalized that they believed in me. It was clear to me that to be successful, this had to be about me, for me, and I had to believe that I could accomplish the goals I was creating for myself.

Let me say, that this journey should be about you anyway. It shouldn’t be about getting someone to notice you. It should be about your health, how you feel about yourself and you should be slightly selfish in your goals. No one will make you successful, but they can help support you and give you tools that will lead to success when combined with hard work.

The simple definition of a support system from Merriam-Webster is:

 A group of people who someone help, encouragement, etc.

A more complex definition is:

A network of people that provide an individual with practical and emotional support.

As my journey has evolved and my goals have become more complex, I’ve learned that I can’t do this on my own. It took a lot for me to admit it, but while I had been flexible dieting and macro counting for over a year, I knew I need more guidance when it came to determining when and how to adjust my nutrition. I also had hit a wall in my lifting. I felt great about my lifts, but as far as configuring optimal workouts, I didn’t feel confident that I would have much success.

It’s okay to ask for help

I’ve talked about working with a trainer on my instagram page. We started working together in October and not only has my body changed, but mentally I feel like I’m in a really great place. Working with her has been a partnership. She listens when I say there’s something wrong, like the time I had a tendon rolling over in my wrist and it hurt to curl or the time I had lactic acid build up in my shoulder and it was preventing maximum mobility. She adjusted my workouts while I worked with my chiropractor to fix the physical issues.

When it comes to eating, as long as it fits it gets eaten. This creates balance because ice cream doesn’t always fit, but it also means I don’t need to overload on the veggies either – I learned this hard way. This means that she lets me experiment in the kitchen as long as I’m hitting my macro nutrient goals. Bring on yogurt bowls and vegan stuffed brownies!

*side note – according to the latest nutritional report from the CDC the average American only need 14g of fiber per 1,000 calories consumed – I was consuming way too much for the amount of food I was eating and it was causing some digestive issues.

She does more than just design my workouts and adjust my macros based on my progress. She’s there when I have questions or concerns about my progress. She’s reminded me to trust the process and to not freak out – or at least minimize the freaking out during prep. She is the professional that I hired to keep me on track, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t try to turn to my friends too.

You learn who supports you at your craziest

Throughout this journey I’ve learned who is here for me and who isn’t. Those who are here for me have been willing to listen and learn about why I’m competing or why I’ve lost as much weight as I have. Those who weren’t truly supportive, well, they’re no longer in the picture and it’s not my loss.

My friends have been extremely important in this process. Educating them can be fun and it can be a pain in the ass. The fun part is when they’re willing to experiment with food with you – thanks Jessica for enduring my burrito bowls, protein pancakes and scale portioned meals. The pain in the ass part is when they forget that you’re in dry prep – yeah JP, no bourbon. Or when they don’t realize that brunching in town may kill all your food for the day – looking at you again babe. But the fun part again, is when they tell you that they don’t get it, but they’re proud of you because they know it’s important to you – oh those college friends of mine.

It’s also ok if you don’t have friends physically close to you that don’t understand what you’re doing and why. This isn’t just about my journey, but all journey’s. Because of the stereotypes out there about weightlifting, some of your friends may try to tell you to not try hitting the weight room. Because of other myths about nutrition, some may tell you that you can only clean eat or only calorie count to lose weight. The truth is we are all different and we need to try different methods. For some it’s seeing or doing it that confirms if it’s the right step for them.

I tried macro counting with a clean eating focus during my last prep – by the end I wanted all the limited edition Oreos, that’s when I decided to just macro count and try to make good decisions. I’m down almost 36 pounds from macro counting: the first 24 from clean eating, then I gained 10 pounds back post-show when I wasn’t clean eating or tracking as carefully, then lost 22 with 100% flexibility. I had to learn that it’s ok to stare at the Oreo’s and eat them in moderation. But I wouldn’t have tried being 100% flexible if it hadn’t been for some of the lovely friends I had made on social media.

My friends mostly live in my phone

While I agree, there are aspects of social media that are damaging the new and even some of the older generations, I also believe there’s a lot of good coming from it. For me, it has been about connecting to like-minded people with similar goals and dreams, but maybe different methods. I met Sarah, you probably know her as @fit_badger15, in September 2014, but we started texting and sending each other care packages in December 2014. It’s been over a year since that started. Every month we send the craziest things from protein bars and hot cocoa to t-shirts and mugs. We’ve exchanged Christmas gifts and she sent me goodies from her trip in Ecuador. I also send her postcards while I travel for work. It was Sarah who introduced me to the Bikini Body Guide, or BBG. It’s circuit style training and at the time I needed something new – it was pre-Alaina and post-1st bikini competition. I wasn’t 100% sure what I wanted and with her assistance, I dove into BBG and got to my lightest weight at the time 149 in June 2015.

I met Tresa or @not_a_runner in the summer of 2015 and I met her as she was determined to be a powerlifter. Now she’s not so sure, but she knows she loves lifting and that her health is equally as important as her strength. Similar to Sarah, Tresa and I send each other care packages and text more often than I do with friends I’ve known longer. She’s helped me get comfortable with lifting, but also push myself to lift heavier and be confident that I can finish a set. Because of her my squat max increased 25 pounds throughout the fall before I started prep.

The other day on instagram I had posted about the army of people behind me, most of which I have never actually met in person. Maybe I log on too much, but sometimes I need a little reassurance – I believe we all need reassurance sometimes. We need someone there who will believe in us when we don’t. People, who will equally tell you to act like an adult, put on your big girl pants and get your shit together, while in the same breathe tell you it’s okay to feel like crap every now and then.

The support system, whether made up of people you see every day or people you can only “pen pal” with, is important for success. The journey needs to be about you, but it needs to somehow encompass people who can help push you when you want to stand still and help give you the confidence you need when all you want to do is sit on the floor and eat peanut butter. My hard work has gotten me this far, but it’s been paired with someone else’s guidance the past few months and support that I have found in the most unlikely of places.

❤ Cristina

 


My friend posted on instagram that we she was going to start cutting out alcohol, soda and coffee from her diet; all at once. This is a big deal for her, and a big deal in general. Cutting things that we find to be vices can be difficult for anyone, no matter what it is. Lately, I’ve been on a coffee and alcohol kick: Iced Caramel Macchiato to Saranac Shandy brew. When I saw her post, I commented and said we should do it together. While alcohol hasn’t been a big part of her diet, she said that soda and coffee is something she’s drinking just to drink something, not because she’s craving it, but just because ‘why not’?

Not only are there a million things in these drinks that we can’t pronounce, there are a lot of empty calories that we have the ability to consume than if we were to just drink water with fruit or cucumber slices in it.

So here’s the challenge:

  1. 30 days of increased water intake
  2. No soda, coffee or alcohol of any kind- light beer means nothing here
  3. At least 60 ounces a day
  4. Report to each other throughout the challenge

I’m hoping this helps me reset from all the cream and sugar loaded drinks I’ve been consuming lately. I also am hopeful that it will help be de-bloat a bit. Other benefits from drinking water aside from hydration can be clearer skin, eating less, helps energize your muscles, help kidney function. I’m sure the list can continue on.

This brings me to today’s 100 Happy Days post. Day 29: friends who support you and who you can support. Body resetting with my college freshmen roommate. Ohio to Massachusetts, we’ve got this! #healthylifestyle #100happydays #happinessdoesntcomeinajar #restyourgut

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Here’s yesterday’s post too. Day 28: fluffy pillows and comfortable bed after a long day! Not everyone has this luxury and I’m grateful for it.

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❤ Cristina


While I didn’t check everything off my list from my vacation, I got A LOT done! I did a few runs into the city/around my neighborhood. I lifted, yoga’d, didn’t zumba, but rowed, cooked, ate and slept a lot too. I saw friends and explored a little too. I got back to work Thursday and dove right in, HELLO, ALUMNI WEEKEND!

Here are my 100 Happy Days photos to recap a bit.

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Day 22: long distance relationships are my best relationships

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Day 23: Funny Faces at the end of a long day

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Day 24: gaining a little speed

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Day 25: Event weekends. We lose our minds, but it’s a damn good time.

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Day 26: new running applications and data

 

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Day 27: 3 years of June Alumni Weekend’s. Change happens, slowly but surely.

Out of all of these photos I have to say I’m most excited about the weightloss changes. I can’t wait to see next year’s comparison; hopefully bigger changes.


 

For Sunday Funday, I laid in bed for an hour or two, then ran some errands and then decided to go exploring. While running errands I stopped by Barnes and Noble, being on a budget, I didn’t buy anything, but I did take some pictures. These are the books I want to read this summer.

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With a full tank of gas, I got in the car, jumped on the highway and just started driving. Backroads, main roads, local ice cream shoppes. Two hours later, I turned on my GPS and headed home.

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It was good to have the music loud and the windows down. I think I’m prepared for a busy week at work. Tomorrow I have to work both jobs, so I’m going to try to get some cardio in during my lunch hour, with fingers crossed that I don’t tire myself out for my shift.

I hope you all had a great weekend !

 

❤ Cristina


This weekend was amazing and upsetting all at the same time.

After work on Friday I went out to Boston for the night and met amazing people. Over the course of the night I became frustrated and happy all at once. I got to spend time with a pretty awesome person, who may have acted a little silly after a few drinks, but all in good fun. That’s what overall health is though, the balance. Have your cocktail and pretend to be an upstanding adult. With little sleep we ventured into Saturday, the downfall came much later in the night, but there’s no need to talk about it- it’s in the past. But it influenced my Day 19: be you.

Even though it was a great day, with an awesome person, I was still having some struggles with myself. I saw this last night when I was laying in bed. I need to learn this. I need to understand this. I need to love me first and hope that someone else can love me someday too; flaws and all. When I can understand this, I can truly be happy. #100happydays #happinessdoesntcomeinajar #love #gettoknowme #ihavepersonility #immorethanmyflaws

Life is a moshposh of misunderstandings, over-communicating, running out our frustrations, under-communicating, eating healthy, binge eating pizza to heal our hearts, Jack Daniels, friends who listen to you cry on the phone, Lindt 50% off chocolate and Leo DiCaprio movies.

Day 20: friends who listen to you crying at 1030 am. Friends who let you leave voicemails at 1 am. Friends who bring you processed carbs and convince you pizza is a good idea for the night. Friends who will do shots with you and let you be a ridiculous mess because the world is too heavy for that day. Friends who remind you you’re a beautiful soul. Friends that remind you that you deserve the best. Friends that agree with you that Leo Di Caprio deserves an Oscar. #100happydays #happinessdoesntcomeinajar #love #friends #soulmates @samijimi @karinamoran_rn @kmcc89 @annranc @ccarync881

Sunday wasn’t much better, but I figured it couldn’t get worse and Monday would be better.

Well, hello it’s Monday and I’m doing what I do best to mend a cracked heart: run, sweat, eat, repeat.

 

Quick morning run around my neighborhood. Almost a solid mile, but holy hills!

As you all know, most places are closed for the holiday, and my gym has limited accessibility, so after my run I worked out with my free weights and did exercises that are effective, but take little or no equipment: squats, lunges, mountain climbers, etc. This is my Day 21: at home work outs prevent me from making excuses.

Day 21: post-run at home work out. The gym is closed today, but I have some weights at home and there are plenty of exercises that can be done without equipment. “Exercise gives you endorphins. endorphins make you happy. Happy people don’t just shoot their husbands, they just don’t.”- Elle Woods #mouthsofbabes #endorphins #onthemend #sweatitout #100happydays #happinessdoesntcomeinajar

For the rest of the day, I’m cleaning up and working on mending this cracked heart of mine. I do believe a new recipe will come from this. What are some of your favorite health-ish things to pig out on when you’re down and out? Suggestions are always welcome!

 

❤ Cristina


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Day 8: strength from afar. While some people say that social media locks us to our phones and computer screens, I believe it opens us to a whole world of people I wouldn’t be able to interact with otherwise. @jerri_m0 (on Instagram) is a NPC Figure Athlete and she is an amazing woman. I don’t think she understands the impact she has on me in New England. She’s beautiful and strong and not afraid to bust her ass to get what she wants.

There are so many bloggers that also have this effect on me. We inspire each other to push hard and work toward our goals. We use each other to set the bar higher. Friends and motivation don’t have to be in person.
#100happydays #happinessdoesntcomeinajar #bestrong #fitfam #lovearoundtheworld


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Day 6: celebrating anniversary’s with great friends! One year with @samijimi by my side! #biffer #100happydays #happinessdoesntcomeinajar #frozenyogurt #love #greatpeople