At the End of Our Comfort Zones

Comfort Zone

“Life Begins at the End of Your Comfort Zone.” – Neale Donald Walsch

Life, as my partner Daniel and I have known it for the past few years, has been comfortable.  We’ve lived in the same apartment, worked at the same places, and enjoyed a fairly routine way of life.  Throw in some family vacations, educational achievements, engagement, and some other personal milestones along the way, but for the most part comfortable (and happy, and blessed, and grateful) would be a good way to describe how we have become to feel with where we live and work.  That is all about to change come Friday, however.

I accepted a promotion working at a much larger, public university in a nearby state and Daniel has since secured a nursing position at a regional hospital in the same city.  And, since then, we’ve wasted no time committing ourselves to this change.  We found a house to buy and close on Friday.  We move this weekend.  I start my new job on Monday.  And with that, life as we know it, will change drastically.  New city, new jobs, new house, ok so maybe not a new house as it needs some TLC, but new adventure for sure!  Exciting, scary, and everything in-between pretty much captures how I am feeling right now.  A mixture of emotions that have my head spinning and my heart racing.  Are we really about to do this? We really are and we’re all in!

It is funny that I always hoped that my life would get to this point, but not sure I ever truly knew what that life might look like.  This certainly was not where I saw it going (or did I?), but from this vantage point, it looks pretty darn good.  We will definitely be stepping outside of what we have come to be comfortable with, where we call home, and who we are close to for something different, something not yet determined, but something that will push us in new directions and in new ways.  Although we will be sad to leave behind our friends, family, and the place we have loved for so many years, the next chapter of our lives is calling us and we’re about to start writing it very, very soon.  Ready or not, here we go!

It’s time to let go and move on.

It’s time to lean in and head out.

Well, I guess, it’s really just about time!

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Danny’s Diet & Workout Plan

In the past few months, I have gotten asked more and more questions regarding my weight. Some inquire about how much I have lost, while others worry out loud about my health. I usually thank them and tell them about how much I have lost and reassure them it was really on purpose, not due to a health condition. No matter how the conversation is started, it usually evolves to questions about how I have done it and continue to keep it off. I really wish I had a quick and simple solution to tell them and I usually end up speaking generally about eating better, working out, and making healthier life decisions, but the real answer is much more complex (and difficult) than that. It is for that reason that I have been wanting to write a post about my fitness journey and provide a lengthier explanation of what has worked for me.

PREFACE & WORDS OF CAUTION
As a preface, I must acknowledge a few things first: (1) I am no dietitian or personal trainer so what I offer is only personal experience and advice, not medical expertise, (2) I do not in any way endorse my journey as the proper or best way of working out or losing weight (so please do your homework on any advice I offer that you want to try), and (3) I encourage you to speak with a medical professional before making any dietary or physical fitness decisions or changes in your life. In other words, try any of this at your own risk and there are no guarantees made by me.

Just as I took a chance on the fitness plan I put together for myself, so too will you have to on your fitness plan. This has worked for me, but certainly it might not work for everyone. I just hope it gives you an idea of how to move forward on your own fitness journey. Too often we hear stories of people failing to lose weight or people losing weight quickly and easily, so I want to offer a real life story of a person who made lifestyle changes, stuck to them, and over time got fitter and healthier. There are no simple solutions (or mind-blowing new solutions that are not already out there), but there is truth to my fitness story and how it has changed my fitness for the better. I truly hope the same can be true for you and wish the best of health on all those who embark on a similar journey. The journey truly changes your life. That I can promise.

THE BEGINNING
Before I go into specifics, though, I must first highlight an important date in my journey. January 26, 2013. In looking back at my calendar, that appears to be the date that I first scheduled a workout towards a goal I set. My new year’s resolution, although I prefer to call them new year’s themes or priorities, was to focus on healthy living, which included working out and eating better. I work at a university, so with the start of our spring semester it took me some time to get adjusted to the semester and focus on healthier living, as evidenced by me starting towards the end of January rather than the beginning. Needless to say, though, the end of January of 2013 was when I made a conscious decision and commitment to work out more and eat better. As a motivating factor, my partner, Daniel, and I were planning a vacation with friends to Pensacola, Florida for Memorial Day Weekend and with only four months between the end of January and the end of May, I knew I needed to get on it. So, that weekend in January, I hit the gym both days and have been going back ever since.

STEP 1 – SETTING GOALS
When I started, I weighed 167 pounds and wore (uncomfortably) 30-inch waist pants. I am only 5’8″, so pushing 170 pounds meant my Body Mass Index was well over the normal range. I went into working out with a goal of losing 1-2 pounds per week and hoping to lose about 20 pounds before our vacation. I had read that trying to lose more than 1-2 pounds per week is not healthy and so I kept that in mind as I changed my diet and started to work out. I think it is easy to want to lose a lot of weight really quickly and see results fast (I know I wanted to!), but what I learned through this is that taking things slow actually helps you in the long run. I think if I had tried to lose too much weight in a short amount of time I would have stopped because of how hard it would have been and how defeated I might have been if I did not lose as much weight as I wanted. In other words, my advice is this: set realistic (and healthy) weight lose goals. I have learned that you are trying to change your lifestyle which requires dedication and persistence, which can only happen if you set yourself up for success from the beginning. It really is a marathon, not a race, so I would definitely recommend setting smaller goals that work towards your larger goal.

STEP 2 – DIET & TRACKING
Before starting working out, I had to first change my diet. This, honestly, is the biggest lifestyle change I had to make. You see, I drank multiple cans of Dr. Pepper a day and ate biscuits and gravy almost every weekday at work. I seriously had poor eating habits that required some serious attention. I was always of the belief that you work out so you can eat whatever you want. In my 20s, this might have worked, but since I am now in my 30s that no longer works. You have to eat healthy to be healthy, with or without working out. That was and still is the biggest hurdle for me. I grew up in the South and absolutely love anything fried and truly believe that butter makes everything better. Like quitting anything, the first step is admitting you have a problem and then doing something about it.

So, I started by cutting a few items out of my diet. The main item was soda, specifically Dr. Pepper. For about three months, I did not drink soda at all. I replaced it solely with water. This was no easy feat for someone who had been drinking it by the gallons since I was a kid, but after a few weeks it turned into a habit and got easier. Still today, though, I will not lie and say I do not crave a good, cold soda, but it is much more manageable and I now prefer water most of the time. I also have transitioned to drinking coffee more than soda, so that still gives me the caffeine that I sometimes want but without all of the calories and sugar. If you drink a lot of soda and other carbonated beverages, I would recommend trying to give it up. Maybe start slow, like cutting it down from five cans a day to three, then two, then one, and then none. I think that is what I did because going cold turkey had not worked for me in the past and did not want to set myself up for failure. I just slowly cut it down in order to cut it out of my diet. So, step one, cut down empty calories like soda, followed by candy (I love chocolate!), ice cream (my ultimate favorite!), and carbs. I replaced unhealthy items like Rocky Road ice cream with low-fat yogurt and white bread with multigrain bread. It is not about cutting everything out of our diet, but just about eating healthier and making smarter choices. I think that cutting soda out of my diet (for the most part) and eating a low-fat Yoplait yogurt (approximately 90 calories) and granola bar (approximately 100 calories) with a cup of coffee for breakfast instead of soda and a combination of a Poptart or biscuits and gravy made a big difference in my diet. That small change in my routine probably helped me cut several pounds.

I now start every morning with a cup of coffee while I get ready and while I am driving to work, I drink a bottle of water and enjoy a low-fat Yoplait yogurt (Strawberries and Banana is my favorite, sometimes with a little granola) and granola bar. That usually tides me over until I eat lunch around noon. For lunch, I now try to have a salad, chicken sandwich, turkey sandwich, or stir fry (with chicken and egg whites) with water. In the afternoon, I usually have a small snack, which might be another granola bar, protein bar, fruit (love bananas!), or peanuts. That usually helps me make it to dinner, which mostly consists of a meat (chicken, fish, or sometimes hamburger meat) and veggies of some sort (salad, broccoli, corn, etc.). Throughout the day and at dinner, I try to only drink water. I carry a plastic cup with me around throughout the day and frequently refill it. Drinking water also helps keep me from stuffing my face with unhealthy options. I work at a college, so there is a lot of temptation, especially in the dining hall, that can easily catch your eye and make you want to eat that second. Once you start working out on top of watching what you eat, there comes a point where you do not want to eat junk that will require you to have to work out harder to burn it off. Between changing my breakfast, cutting out soda and most desserts, and changing food choices for most meals (from high carb and fat to low carb and lean protein), I have been able to eat much healthier and build muscle.

I explain my diet in hopes of inspiring you to make small, but important changes in your diet. It is not about eating nothing or never treating yourself. I still love food as much as I always have and treat myself here and there (instead of ice cream, now I usually go for frozen yogurt about once or twice a week). I honestly just think once you start changing your diet, though, and working out it makes you subconsciously want to eat healthier. I am not sure when in my journey that happened, but when it did it started making me want healthier options. Every now and then, I will have a big, heavy meal (like fried chicken or pizza or pasta) and how I feel physically afterwards makes me feel gross. You know that feeling, where you want to go lay down because of how full you feel? I try not to eat like that anymore, however the opportunity sometimes presents itself (holidays with family, work events, etc.) and now I try to still make as healthy of choices as I can. I really think, above all else, it is about balance and figuring out how to cut your calories while still having food options that you enjoy.

Speaking of cutting your calories, I highly recommend downloading a phone application that will help you count and cut your calories. In the first three or four months, I tracked everything that I ate. From breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks, as well as how much I worked out, all got tracked in my phone application called Lose It! There are plenty of other phone applications like this, such as MyFitnessPal, so find one that you like and start tracking. You may want to start by just tracking for a week what you currently eat before making any changes. This will give you a baseline to know how many calories you are currently putting into your body, as well as how much (or little) calories you are burning off by working out. A neat feature that most of these phone applications have is a way for you to set a goal for yourself and it will tell you how many calories you need to put into your body to reach that goal. For me, it was losing about 20 hours at 1-2 pounds per week, so it let me know how many calories I would need in order to do that and the date by which I would reach that goal if I cut my calories. Not only did this application help me track what I ate (and how many calories I was putting into my body) and how much I worked out (and how many calories I was burning off), it educated me on calories in food and helped me stay aware of how many calories I was taking in and burning off. Although I do not use this application anymore, during your beginning part of your journey, I would highly recommend using a phone application to help you track your calories and workouts.

STEP 3 – WORKING OUT

So, I have a confession.  I last edited this entry on June 22, 2014 and still have yet to finish it despite thinking of it from time to time.  I think this entry demonstrates that if you do not make something a habit (like working out, eating healthy, or journaling) and commit to it, you will not accomplish it.  When I was in college, I made it a habit to write in my journal fairly frequently, but as life has gotten more busy and complicated, journaling fell off my priority list, much like working out and eating healthy can in our lives too.  I am happy to report, though, that almost a year later and I have still managed to keep the habit of working out and eating healthier up despite life sometimes getting in the way.  I actually have transitioned into a new phase in my journey of no longer focusing on losing weight, but on gaining muscle and bulking up so it has caused me to change my work out and eating habits slightly.  But, for the purposes of this entry, I will get back to what I did to lose the initial weight and keep it off.

After setting my mind to the goal of working out more and eating healthier and then changing my diet, I began also working out 4-5 times a week.  I would do 1-2 days of strictly cardio/abs (at least 30 minutes, if not an hour) and 3 days of weight lifting (usually 45 minutes).  For cardio, I tried different things.  Sometimes, I would spend 30 or 45 minutes on one machine (stationary bicycle, elliptical, or treadmill), whereas other times I would get too bored on one machine and switch it up (10-20 minutes on each).  The main goal of cardio day was just to stay on the machine and keep going.  My gym has televisions on most machines so I usually would put on HGTV, the news, or another show that interested me and just zone out while watching.  If that did not do the trick, then I would make sure I had a playlist that really put me in the mood.  I have also found that sometimes when I treat myself to buying a new CD that just came out (which I do not do that often), it is fun to do cardio while listening to the CD from star to finish as a great way of working out, but also learning all of the words to the songs.  It is small things, like watching television, listening to music, or people watching, while doing cardio that helps me get through it.  I highly recommend figuring out what works for you.  Like I was told when I was writing my dissertation, just get words on the page, even if they are crappy words, because at least you got something down.  The same is true for cardio–just get your feet on the peddles or treadmill and keep going–only stop when you have hit exhaustion or met your time goal.  On the days I would do weightlifting, I would usually only do 5-10 minutes of cardio in the beginning just to get my blood flowing.  In total, I was doing anywhere from one hour and forty-five minutes to three and a half hours of cardio each week.  This helped me shed the pounds at the rate that I was going (1-2 pounds per week).  Some weeks I would do better than others, but my goal was always just to make sure I showed up and did it, no matter if it was the shorter or longer periods of time.  It’s all about that habit and sticking with it!

For the weight lifting, I divided my days into one day being arms/shoulders, one days being chest/back, and one days being legs.  Although I could go into detail regarding each day and what I did, I will have to add that at another time because I really want to make sure I get this fully written and can come back and fill in more later.  Some take aways, though, were that I tried each week to add a little weight and/or reps to each exercise.  For instance, if one week I did 10 reps of 50 pounds (two 25 dumbbells) of bicep curls, then the next week I would either increase that to 12 reps at the same weight or 10 reps at a higher weight.  Within the past six months, I discovered a really great bodybuilding app for your phone that allows you to track your workouts (much like the calorie counter application I used initially with my diet).  This has helped me keep track of my previous weeks workout and how much I need to increase in terms of reps or weight to increase my overall weight for each exercise.  Even if you only increase by a couple reps or a few pounds, or even if sometimes you stay at the same weight, the whole goal here is just to maintain or increase, however slight.  You also have to decide if your goal here is to increase your bulk or endurance, because if you are wanting to bulk up then you want to do less reps but more weight, whereas if you want more endurance, then you want to do more reps but less weight.  I fall more on the bulking up goal at this point, so have been doing less reps but higher weight than I did when I was focused on losing weight.  Whatever feels right for you and your goal, I would suggest focusing on that and trying to increase your reps and weight based on what your goal is.  In total, I would usually do 3-4 exercises per muscle group, for a total of 6-8 exercises each day.  My gym is located in my apartment complex, so it was not a major gym with a lot of choices, but thankfully I was able to improvise enough to get in enough variety for each muscle group.  Even if you at working out at home, I would suggest doing online research on variations to different exercises that will still allow you to do them with whatever equipment you have available.  You would be amazed at the many different ways you can accomplish a particular exercise with different equipment.  In other words, you should not often be able to use the excuse that you do not have the right equipment so you cannot workout whatever muscle group you want.  If you research enough, you will find a way to accomplish whatever workout you are striving for.

STEP 4 – MAINTAINING & FURTHERING

Like I said before, the biggest thing is just showing up.  Not once, not twice, but routinely.  I think I read somewhere that it takes two weeks for something we do to become a habit.  I would definitely agree with that and think that you should make your goal to give your workout and diet at least two weeks to see what difference it can make.  I promise you that if you really make a plan and stick with it enough for it to become a habit, it will change not only your waistline, but also your life.  After four months, just in time for my partner’s and my beach vacation, I am happy to report that I had lost the 20 pounds.  After the vacation, instead of falling back into my old habits of not working out and eating unhealthy, I kept going to the gym and making healthier eating habits.  I actually ended up losing another 10 pounds in the process and by that fall was around 138-140 pounds.  I have since tried to bulk up a little and today weigh around 145 pounds give or take depending on the day.  To further my goal of bulking up, which should not be confused with just gaining any type of weight (want muscle), I incorporated more weightlifting (4-5 days a week) and less cardio (incorporate it into every workout, but for shorter periods of time 5-10 minutes).  This has given me a new goal to focus on and keep me motivated to not only maintain, but further my fitness goals.  I think that this is really key:  viewing fitness as not an end goal, but rather a journey that is lifelong.  Sure, in the beginning I was focused on a goal of losing a certain amount of weight and hopefully looking a certain type of way, but after a while it shifted to just wanting to maintain a healthier lifestyle not for an end goal, but forever.  I cannot say when that shift happened, but when it did it was like I was all in and now working out and eating healthy stay in the forefront of how I structure my time and what I put into my body.  I am not sure if this will or does happen for everyone, but if it can, I hope it for everyone who wants to make such a lifestyle change.  It really has made me feel healthier, better, and have an even more positive outlook on life.

STEP 5 – CELEBRATING & TREATING YOURSELF

And, with all the handwork required to work out and eat healthy, it is so critical to celebrate every victory, every milestone, and treat yourself along the way.  For me, I chose a day each week to have something I really loved that might not be a healthy choice, such as frozen yogurt or pizza.  Not all the time, but every now and again I would treat myself.  I also started loving smoothies and would treat myself to a smoothie after a good workout.  I also shared my news with people I knew were supportive of my change and journey.  Their positive encouragement reinforced my commitment to my fitness goals and helped me remain dedicated.  Like any goal we set, it is important to have others around us celebrating along with us and it certainly helped me having friends and family who noticed, acknowledged, and cheered me on.  I hope that as you start or continue on your fitness journey, that you can celebrate yourself and have others celebrate with you.  It really makes the journey so much more joyful, fun, and possible.  I know I could not have done it solely without the support of my village.  So, find your village, lift each other up, and treat yourself and others as you achieve your goals.

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Investing in the New Year

Well, 2013 is gone and 2014 is here! I hope that everyone is already having a great new year. My new year has already started off much better than the last. I remember bringing in 2013 by myself watching the ball drop in Time Square on television, as my partner, Daniel, was sleeping because he had to work super early at the hospital on New Years Day. There may have been tears even, but no use in looking back, right? This year, however, my partner, Daniel, and I both had off New Years Eve and Day, so we went to a friend’s house for a New Years Party to bid farewell to the past year and welcome the new one. Afterwards, we stopped at a couple local bars to further the celebration and were back home and in bed soon after. It was a night spent with friends and festivities and definitely has set the stage for a great year!

Happy New Year 2014 from the D's

Happy New Year 2014 from the D’s

Today, we got up early and I fixed us some breakfast before working out and cleaning out our closet and dresser with all of the clothes we have worn little to not at all this year. We donated the clothes to Goodwill and went to a late lunch with Uncle Grant at The Colonnade Restaurant. Despite the long wait, we enjoyed a delicious Southern meal that included cornbread, pork, collards, and black-eyed peas so that we might have good luck and wealth this year. At the New Years Party, we actually read our horoscopes for the year and made wishes while releasing Chinese lanterns into the night sky. Here’s to hoping for a prosperous, lucky, and healthy new year for us all!

Although I would love to not give a fuck in 2014, I simply do give a fuck and my biggest goal for this year is to invest. I want to invest in me, my relationships, and my personal and professional life goals. I want to also invest in each moment as fully and authentically as possible. I want to invest in the human capital of myself and those around me to work towards becoming the best versions of ourselves, however we define and understand what those versions are. Investing means giving my time, energy, and resources towards life in meaningful and purposeful ways. It means staying healthy, giving of my talents and strengths, and always continuing to learn and challenge myself. It means remembering my purpose and working towards it every day. Robin Sharma wrote, “investing in yourself is the best investment you will ever make… it will not only improve your life, it will improve the lives of all those around you.” So, this year, I plan to invest. First, in me, second, in others, and third, in the moment. Every moment that I can. May 2014 be my year of investing!

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Looking Back and Looking Forward

“For last year’s words belong to last year’s language and next year’s words await another voice.” -T.S. Eliot

Out with 2013 and in with 2014! To quote one of my favorite musicals, RENT, “I can’t believe a year went by so fast.” I remember that this time last year I was in a funk. I was NOT looking forward to 2013. I was basically dreading it. As a pretty goal oriented person, I did not have a lot of goals for the year because in 2012 I finally accomplished my biggest educational goal of obtaining my doctorate. How could 2013 compete with that?

Well, as I soon found out, 2013 was still a great year and I learned that each year holds it’s own potential to be great if you allow yourself to be open to it. In 2013, I got a pretty big promotion (and raise!) to Assistant Dean of Students, moved into a new Campus Center with a new office, and got to help build and work along aside an outstanding group of people. I also gave my first (paid!) keynote address, presented at several conferences, and even got an article published! Outside of my professional work, I started eating better and getting more serious about staying healthy. As a result, I lost over 15 pounds and ran my first 10k with Daniel. I could not have imagined doing that before the year began, but so thrilled that I look and feel better than ever! I also went to Pensacola Beach, FL for memorial day, visited Charleston, SC with two of my best friends, Clifton and JP, and even went on my first cruise to the Bahamas with my family this year. Just this past week, I traveled the Midwest with Daniel to visit family and friends for the holidays. Looking back, I really can say that 2013 was hardly a year that I should have dreaded and truly grateful for what a great year it has been!

As for 2014, it is shaping up to also be a great year! I am looking forward to going on another cruise with my family to Jamaica in February, presenting at two conferences in February and March, completing at least one article and starting a couple others, taking the last class I need to complete a graduate certificate in qualitative research, and celebrating Daniel’s huge accomplishment of finishing nursing school in May and becoming a Registered Nurse this summer. I want to continue to eat right, stay healthy, and work towards my life goals this year (as well as consider these resolutions). I want to also start reflectively writing more through this blog (perhaps using daily prompts like these) and continuing to find ways for self-improvement (like life coaching). I am sure that this year will hold many other opportunities to travel, learn, and grow and I am really looking forward to what the year has in store for me, my family, and my friends.

Now, your turn, what are you looking forward to in 2014? Love to hear your goals and resolutions for the new year!

“Write it on your heart that every day is the best day in the year.” -Ralph Waldo Emerson

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Investing in Right Now

I grew up always looking into the future. Always. Day and night dreaming. Of what tomorrow had in store for me. I think (wonder if?) growing up gay in rural Arkansas necessitated being future-oriented as a coping mechanism of the world around me. I was always thinking about (a better?) life after high school, filled with college, career, partner, and, and, and. In many ways, I felt like secondary education was a waiting period for when life really was going to begin for me. And, in many ways, it was. From college until today, I have felt freer to be myself than ever before and many of my life goals have been or are being realized, yet my gaze still focuses on the future, rather than right now.

I find myself spending too much time and energy on considering, no fixating on what will be my next big move–another city, another job, another car, another something. I spend all this time dreaming about the what if’s instead of appreciating the right now’s. I lose out on the opportunities to enjoy what I have in this moment–moments that are the direct result of all the moments leading up to this moment, not the moments yet to come. Instead of always dreaming about the future, I need to invest fully in today, in what I have, and who I share my life with. It is for this reason that I think my new year’s resolution for next year (right now!) will be: Investing More in Twenty One Four!

I want to spend more effort in truly living the life I have worked so hard to get and appreciating the joy that my life has to offer in every moment, not just the future. I want to invest in myself (mind, body, and spirit), my partner (mind, body, and spirit), my pets, my home, my work, and my life. Giving myself permission to enjoy my life, my relationships, and myself without disregard for tomorrow, but with authentic appreciation for how things are today. And, I suppose, there really is no better time to start investing more in my life as it is right now than today!

I was searching for some advice on “living in the moment” and I stumbled upon Jason Mraz’s song Living in the Moment that pretty much sums it up. I also cannot help but think about No Day But Today from the musical RENT, so I posted that below too (sang by the amazing Idina Menzel). Enjoy living in the moment and appreciating no day but today!

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Weekly Pug Pic

Putting Safety First - Cooper All Buckled Up!

Putting Safety First – Cooper All Buckled Up!

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Rain or Shine: No Matter What We’re Camping!

What were we thinking? Maybe that was the problem… we really weren’t!

My friends, Chris and Drew, and Daniel and I decided a week or so ago that we wanted to get away from the city and go camping for the Fourth of July weekend. A week or so ago that was a good idea, but looking at the projected weather for this weekend it did not look quite as good. You can see Friday’s weather for yourself below!

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Against our better judgement, though, we decided to still go to Lake Lanier and stay at Shoal Creek Campgrounds. At first, we were just going to drive up there and check out the site to see if the weather was good enough to set-up. Two days later and more rain that I care to remember, we did more than just “check out” the site… we truly experienced it!

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From grilling out to playing 20 questions under umbrellas in the rain, we managed to make the most of it and still enjoy a wonderful time together. We brought one of our pugs, Cooper, with us for his first camping trip and, for the most part, he really had a great time getting to roam around off his leash, swim in the water, and playing with everyone. On Saturday, we even got to spend the entire afternoon on the lake at Gay Cove, which was surprisingly busy for a rainy holiday weekend. There were a fair amount of boats and people there to make for a fun afternoon of meeting new people and swimming in the water, which Cooper did to the point that he wore his little self out. We also all noticed the floating memorial of flowers in the water for a man who had died from drowning recently at the cove (in memory of Lindy James Murdock), which reminded us all of the importance of safety for ourselves and one another. We stayed at the cove for several hours before making the trip back to our campsite to have dinner and rest up.

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Having sustained two pretty bad storms both nights, we all woke up early this morning and immediately packed up to head home. It was funny that literally all of us had the same idea! By 8:30 a.m., we were all packed and on the road back to Atlanta. Although I am so glad we got to spend a weekend away with friends (and cannot say enough about how important and precious time together like this is!), I definitely am glad to be back home, showered, and enjoying the luxuries of having electricity and running water again. As Daniel said on our drive home, “that does it for camping for me for at least another year!” Until the next time (or year!)… happy camping, y’all!

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Running With a Purpose

Daniel, Daniel, & Danny @ the Peachtree Road Race 2013

Daniel, Daniel, & Danny @ the Peachtree Road Race 2013. This was the BEFORE photo!

I am NOT a runner.

And I have never confessed to being one.

However, this Fourth of July, I definitely WAS a runner!

Daniel and I, accompanied by our friend Daniel (which we affectionately referred to ourselves as the Triple D’s or D-cubed, depending on our audience), participated in my second Peachtree Road Race and we actually ran the entire 10k (6.2 miles!).

No walking (like last year!).
No stopping (like last year).
Just running (NOT like last year).

From the start line to the finish line, we kept on running. Neither Daniel or myself had any real expectations of running the entire race, so we were both amazed that we did. Daniel had ran on-and-off for about a week and a half preparing for the race, while I had ran once a few miles a week or so earlier. We definitely had not been preparing for the race like we should, so the achievement is that much more incredible to us. For the past few months, I had worked pretty diligently on losing weight and getting back in shape (result: I lost over 20 pounds!), so I think that really helped me be able to run such a distance without as much preparation.

At just over an 11 minute and 30 second pace for a time of just under 1 hour and 12 minutes, we totally surprised ourselves and surpassed our expectations, though. I cannot thank both Daniel’s enough for all of their support and motivation throughout the race. We really kept cheering each other on! At mile 5, I even got so overwhelmed in the moment that I started tearing up. It was truly unlike anything I had ever felt. I am also incredibly thankful for all of the cheering supporters who kept pushing us forward. I am already looking forward to next year’s race!

Daniel, Daniel, & Danny @ the Peachtree Road Race 2013.  This was the AFTER photo!

Daniel, Daniel, & Danny @ the Peachtree Road Race 2013. This was the AFTER photo!

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The Achiever

Enneagram

In Brief: Threes (Achievers) are self-assured, attractive, and charming. Ambitious, competent, and energetic, they can also be status-conscious and highly driven for advancement. They are diplomatic and poised, but can also be overly concerned with their image and what others think of them. They typically have problems with workaholism and competitiveness. At their Best: self-accepting, authentic, everything they seem to be—role models who inspire others.

Basic Fear: Of being worthless
Basic Desire: To feel valuable and worthwhile
Key Motivations: Want to be affirmed, to distinguish themselves from others, to have attention, to be admired, and to impress others.

Examples: Augustus Caesar, Emperor Constantine, Bill Clinton, Tony Blair, Prince William, Condoleeza Rice, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Carl Lewis, Muhammed Ali, John Edwards, Mitt Romney, Bill Wilson (AA Founder), Andy Warhol, Truman Capote, Werner Erhard, Oprah Winfrey, Deepak Chopra, Tony Robbins, Bernie Madoff, Bryant Gumbel, Michael Jordan, O.J. Simpson, Tiger Woods, Lance Armstrong, Elvis Presley, Paul McCartney, Madonna, Sting, Whitney Houston, Jon Bon Jovi, Lady Gaga, Taylor Swift, Justin Bieber, Brooke Shields, Cindy Crawford, Tom Cruise, Barbra Streisand, Ben Kingsley, Jamie Foxx, Richard Gere, Ken Watanake, Will Smith, Courteney Cox, Demi Moore, Kevin Spacey, Reese Witherspoon, Anne Hathaway, Chef Daniel Boulud, Dick Clark, Ryan Seacrest, Cat Deeley, Mad Men’s “Don Draper,” Glee’s “Rachel Berry”

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Things That Matter

It is a rainy day today, which is fitting for the mood I am in. I have spent most of the day laying in bed watching Oprah and wrestling with life’s (big) questions. The theme of today’s Oprah show is “things that matter” and it has left me thinking about the many things in my life that matter to me. From my partner to my career, things that are in my life that are important motivate me to get out of bed each day. Often in interviews, I will ask the question of “what motivates you to face the day?” And, for me, it is the things that mater to me. The people, the places, and the things that matter really do inspire me to be a better person and face what the day has in store for me. Sometimes, I might forget to remember those important things in my life and go off course, but life has a way of redirecting us towards what matters most and it is important to allow ourselves to lean towards those. I certainly know that the things that matter in my life are the most precious, special, and important aspects of my life. Today was a reminder to me to not fret the small stuff and, instead, focus on the things that really matter.

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