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.
I’ve posted about products that I’ve found that I fell in love with, and I’ve shared a few other blogs that I think are amazing. But I’ve never really shared my outlets for motivation from other social media platforms before. I found @FITGYMRATS last week and thought it was the coolest handle I had found yet. It had two owners: Ashley and Nicole, and they each have a take on health and fitness. After talking to Nicole, I asked if I could do a Q and A with them because I think others should follow them too!
Why did you and Ashley start a joint fit Instagram account?
We both have a passion for fitness and health. We both wanted to share our journey and knowledge about what we’ve experience so far in hope to help others reach their goals. We both have very different goals we are working to achieve and different workouts [we use to reach those goals]. We hope that diversity can help all types of people.
Why do you believe it’s important for people to find support through social media?
Let’s be honest.. social media is life these days. We evolve our lives around what we want to post and what others think of it. It’s easy to find motivation from others who share the same dream as you do. Even if you don’t have any friends that share that passion with you, you can find it through social media. We both follow a lot of power lifters on Instagram who motivate us to keep working and pushing hard. They remind us that everyone starts somewhere and give us hope that we can reach our goals. We can be our own worst enemies and our biggest supporters. It’s great to have others to look up to and also be a role model for other people.
Why do post the pictures you do?
[We post] videos on how you properly lift, to help women feel less intimidated about lifting. Progress pictures, [for the] obvious reason being not trust[ing] the scale alone and that sometimes you don’t see a day to day change so pictures are helpful. Food pictures to show good nutritional meals. Just to give an idea on how to eat all types of food, good or bad; they all play a role in keeping a balance in enjoying life. Also that it’s not as hard as one might think to meal prep and not all healthy food has to be bland or unsatisfying.
What do you hope people get out of following you on IG?
Motivation to be healthier and follow their dreams.
What got you each interested in fitness?
Ashley: I was a high school athlete, but after graduation I ate whatever I wanted and was very lazy. One day during Christmas break when I was on an al- day cookie binge I decided I needed to make a change. I started out by changing my diet & slowly started adding in exercise. Two years later I’m still working at it, but I allow myself to eat what I want in moderation and typically stick to weights.
Nicole: I was also a high school athlete; Ashley and I were swim teammates. After graduating I also had no exercise and ate fast food every day. After gaining 50 pounds over the course of 2 years I finally accepted that my clothes no longer fit and that I needed to change. I started out by just going to the gym and not really changing my diet too much. I haven’t had fast food in over 2 years now. I started eating healthier, but I still enjoy dinners out with my friends. I upped my cardio to 5 days a week and finally started to see and feel a change. I’m still working on my goals but I’ve come a long way and I get re-motivated every day.
What’s your favorite healthy meal?
Ashley: Homemade street tacos (chicken, cilantro, chipotle sauce, guac)
Nicole: 6oz sirloin steak, house salad & a sweet potato.
What’s your favorite cheat meal?
Both: pizza, wings and fro yo!
Do you have a supplement you can’t live without?
Ashley: no, I use a pre workout, but I can do without them.
Nicole: Fruit punch C4.
Cardio or weights?
Nicole: a little of both but mostly cardio. Zumba and Insanity are my go to workouts when I’m not lifting full body.
Advice for people starting their weightloss journey?
Ashley: Only do it because YOU want to feel better about YOURSELF. Not for other people or to fit an unreasonable idea of what your body should look like. Eat healthy, get your fill of nutrients but also enjoy the foods you love in moderation. Find a fitness hobby that you really enjoy, make goals and achieve them.
Nicole: Trust the process, don’t lose focus, ignore negativity and keep pushing forward! Everything takes time. You will have slip ups, but don’t have regret. Don’t skip a workout for any reason. You will always feel good after working out. Set goals and accomplish them, then set another goal! Don’t be discouraged or intimidated by anyone, everyone was once a beginner. Share your progress & be happy!
About the micro-bloggers:
Ashley and Nicole met their freshman year of high school and have been best friends ever since. They were on the swim team and ran track together. They were jocks! They enjoy going to the gym and challenging each other to be better. They love to hike, but unfortunately in Arizona they can only do that in the winter. They love to eat pizza and wings every Thursday for their cheat meals! Ashley is finishing her last year at ASU with a photography/art education degree. Nicole is almost ready to transfer to ASU to finish her degree in occupational therapy. They love to travel… their favorite [place] is Vegas! They just want to help others reach their goals and help empower other women!
Follow them on Instagram: @FITGYMRATS
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:
- 30 days of increased water intake
- No soda, coffee or alcohol of any kind- light beer means nothing here
- At least 60 ounces a day
- 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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 !
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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