My advisor would not find this funny…

… but this is 100% me right now.  I seriously just did that… and then the TV part.  Scientific writing does not come naturally for me, so I celebrate the little victories.

All credit to where would we grad students be without you to visually explain what is going on in our lives?

Have you celebrated any little victories today?


Smile Courtesy of Five Guys

Let me just start by saying, I love it when people do random acts of kindness for total strangers.  Love. It.  Today I was the lucky recipient of such an act.

I was running behind today at the office and desperately needed some protein, so I pulled into Five Guys.  I rarely eat beef (maybe 2-3 times a month, if that), but I needed something fast, filling, not uber processed, and full of protein.  I was low on energy and I have a feeling it showed.

I walked into Five Guys as the only customer not eating (I was the really late lunch crowd).  The guys at the counter greeted me with smiles and were being all goofy.  They took my order and I went to sit down.  Then, one of the guys came up to me and said, “Shhhh… here’s a drink.”  I smiled and he shouted back to the other guy, “Look at her smile!  I told you!”  So that was cool.

Then, when my order was ready, they both shouted loudly “Order for gorgeous!”  By this point, there were a lot more people in the restaurant.  When I turned around, one of them poked the other in the rib and said, “See, she knows she’s gorgeous.”  Not pretty, not cute, not hot, but gorgeous.  I love that you could tell they were doing it in a way to make me feel good about myself and not to be creepy flirty.  Because, if you are a girl, you know the difference and we don’t like the creepy flirty.

So thanks Five Guys guys for my lemonade and for making my day!  You rock!  Keep up the positive attitude and passing on smiles to strangers.  I hope to pass it on and do the same for someone else soon :0)

Words of Wisdom

I love How I Met Your Mother (HIMYM) on CBS, and when this came across my google Reader feed today, I just couldn’t help but smiling:

(Saw on Design Crush, original image via fffound)

I know that being sad is fine, but I hope next time I’m really sad that I think of this.  Because being awesome is SO much better than being sad.  You go Barney/NPH/writers of HIMYM).

Why Change Is So Hard: Self-Control Is Exhaustible | Fast Company

I came upon this article a few weeks ago.  I was waiting to share it, but now seemed an appropriate time to cover it because the last fews days have been crazy and my self-control went off the deep end.

Why Change Is So Hard: Self-Control Is Exhaustible | Fast Company.

The article talks about a study two groups of students who were put into a room with a bowl of radishes and cookies.  One group could eat the cookies and the other was told to abstain, but that they could eat the radishes.  Then each group was told to try to do a really hard task… the cookie eaters tried to complete the task for much longer than the radish eaters.  It was because they just didn’t have enough self-control left.

I definitely ran out of self control the past few days.  I had thrown all of my time and energy into my thesis and I hit a point where I couldn’t control myself any longer, even though I really wanted to.  I *might* have started crying in my advisors office when he told me I was doing well.  I couldn’t stop myself because I knew if I did, I would be wildly unsuccessful and my little tears would turn into sobs (Can I just say… horribly embarrassing.  I am in school to become a professional and I started crying because of stress in my bosses office?  Because he said I was doing well?).  I also might have dropped any control I had over food choices and gone the full junk food/candy/potato chips route.

While I am not proud of myself or my momentary lapses in control, it helps so much to know that my time, energy, patience, and self control are limited.  When we can’t admit to ourselves that we can only do so much, I think the breakdowns occur even more quickly or our resolutions get pushed to the wayside.

So breathe, give yourself a break, and know that you will have that control back soon enough.  It certainly helped me.  And now that I’m done with my work for now, I’m going to do something healthy and rewarding and eat some carrots.  They taste better when you aren’t stressed, you know?

Dear Life…

Dear Life,

I just thought I’d take a moment to send you an important notice:

There is no room at the inn.  Not only are all the rooms occupied, but all couches and floors are being utilized.  I am full to capacity.

If you could ever be just whelmed (10 Things I Hate About You, anyone?), that is where I am.  I am fully saturated.  I feel like I’m on the verge of panicking or crying and I just really want to avoid that, so I’m just giving you a warning.  I can handle what I have now, but not if I have anything else come up.

My mental health is important to me, and if you care about it as well, you will turn away all new issues and tasks until further notice.  I cannot deal with anything else in my life and all additional things piled on me will not be addressed until a later time.  I am doing my part, and now I need you to do yours.

With your cooperation, I believe we can get through this and back to our regular routine in no time.  If you do not cooperate, there will be repercussions.



He’s So Fluffy!!!

Did anyone else see Despicable Me?  I didn’t really like the movie, but I love that line, complete with the shaking of the fluffy thing.

But I digress, because this post is really about pets and how they affect my health.

I love pets, of all kinds.  If we had a larger place and weren’t renting, I’m sure we’d have a zoo by now.  I love my dog more than I ever thought I could and now I truly understand why so many people say their pets are like their children.


My Good Boy :0) (Photo by me)

Lucky for me, this “child” can be left alone for a few hours at a time and as it turns out, gives me several health benefits:

  1. Daily, required movement.  Dogs need to be walked every day, several times a day.  That means even on my laziest day, I’m doing some walking.  Probably not going to happen if you have just a cat, although I have heard of people in big cities walking their cats or iguanas on leashes.  To each their own…
  2. People, especially those who are strongly attached to their pets, are less likely to suffer depression if they own a pet (Study of AIDS patients, WebMD)
  3. Petting an animal can lower your blood pressure (although my dog has definitely raised mine on occasion… Discovery Health).
  4. Playing with pets (even if they aren’t yours) can increase your dopamine and seratonin levels, calming you down (WebMD).
  5. Heart attack victims have been found to live longer if they own a pet (WebMD).
  6. People perceive that they make friends more easily when they own pets (Discovery Health).
  7. Having dogs around makes you more productive at work (and less likely to snitch when playing the Prisoner’s Dilemma game…) (The Economist).

I feel it is only fair though to present the flip side as well, as I’m also truly allergic to most furry pets.  Contrary to the belief of some, your allergies can actually get worse as you grow older and being around pets from a baby onward doesn’t always do much.

Case and point:  me.

Growing up we had cats at my home from the time I was born until now.  We had a dog from the age of 6 until just a few years ago.  In high school I started to have major sinus problems.  Constant drainage.  Sinus infections left and right.  Hard to breathe after exercising.  In addition I also had the usual allergy symptoms that I always had, from itchy throat, ears, and hands to watery eyes, but we had always attributed them to seasonal allergies.  People probably were really annoyed with me in high school because I was *constantly* clearing my throat without really realizing it.


Johnny Cat, friendliest cat ever, who can't understand why he gets kicked out of the house when I go home (Photo by me)

Then I went to college… and my allergy symptoms and sinus problems magically disappeared.  Went back home for break… appeared again and WORSE.  I also house sat for someone who had cats while at college and had the same symptoms.  It was pretty easy to figure out then that I was allergic to cats and pretty extremely.  I don’t go into anaphylatic shock, but the itchiness is out of control and the sneezing is non-stop when I’m around them.  You never realize how amazingly different you feel when you can breathe for long periods of time without phlegm clouding your breath or how nice it is to not be sick every few weeks with sinus infections (beautiful image, I know).

I’ve since seen an allergist and skin tests confirm that I’m allergic to cats and dogs (among 10 other things).  I do not get any of the allergy symptoms currently with Maddox, but there are definitely certain breeds that set me off.  Once again, it appears that everything is about finding a balance of what works for you and your health.  While I would love to add more pets to the family, including a cat, I know it is the best interest of my health not to… as fluffy and beneficial as they are.

How do your pets affect your health (good or bad)?


I admit it.  I’m FAR from a neat freak.  Need proof?

How does this to relate to my health?  Two ways actually.

First of all, a lot of the reason I don’t worry about clutter is because of time.  Lack of time causes stress and there is just so much I’d rather do with my time than clean.  Cleaning itself also just tends to irritate me.  If I kept clutter down, in theory I wouldn’t have to spend so much time cleaning and therefore, I would stress less.  In theory…

However, I know that not only does clutter increase the amount of dust in our small abode, which irritates my allergies, but it is also mentally distracting.  In every room and in every corner, all I see are piles of things. I’m working on my thesis currently and really don’t need any other distractions.

If you are a grad student who doesn't read PhD Comics... go now

So one of my recent goals is to reduce clutter around me.  Yes, perhaps it is my brain trying to focus on *anything* but doing the work I should be doing, but it certainly will not go away on it’s own.  By reducing the clutter, I expect magical things to happen in my home… cleaning should take less time, moving will be easier, I will make money, I will breathe easier, we will win the lottery. Maybe a tad bit unreasonable, but I want zen people, and that can’t happen with clutter.

My three pronged strategy:

  • Tackle one area at a time.  I have cleaning ADD.  As I’m picking up something or putting something away I get distracted.  Sometimes it helps me to condense everything into a box and then go through the box.  Somehow having an uncluttered area around me helps me focus on the task at hand.

  • For every new thing that comes in, get rid of something.  And no, it isn’t fair to trade a used tissue for a new book.   A simple way we’ve found to do this is through a site called  You put up a list of the movies, books, and games that you no longer need and post a list of some things you would like to read or watch.  Only cost to you is the postage to send the item (Tip:  If you are sending something like a DVD, game, or paperback, don’t use their printed label system.  It is often significantly cheaper to get your own postage at the post office).  Although we just started last week, we’ve been excited about getting some new reading materials and movies that we haven’t been able to find at Goodwill or other used sources.  Plus, it is fun to get mail and recycle at the same time 🙂  Some of our trades have included:

-Disney ThinkFast Wii Game (we no longer have our Wii) for Blink by Malcolm Gladwell

-A Pilates DVD for Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser

-Coraline DVD for A Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy DVD

We also have this whole box of things up on our “have” list and are building up our “want” list.  Anything that we don’t find a match for, we will donate to Goodwill before we move.

  • Take time to evaluate what you really need in your life. Also a challenge for me that I’m continually working on.  As my husband says, I’m a hoarder waiting to happen.  When I evaluate getting rid of things, I can rationalize keeping nearly anything:  it was either a tool that we might have use for again, a gift from someone we love whose feelings we don’t want to hurt even though we haven’t used it, I can use it to make a craft, or it might be something our children could use one day.  I have used these excuses on everything from cardboard boxes to a teflon pan that belonged to my grandmother, but the teflon started flaking off. There have been studies showing that when you touch things, you get emotionally attached and it is harder to get rid of them the longer you touch them.  It can be an emotional thing to get rid of even the smallest, disposable of things and so I’ve been reading some minimalist blogs for inspiration, like this post by Miss Minimalist on 100 things she doesn’t own and why she doesn’t own a couch.  I don’t agree with everything on her list (or blog), but the general idea serves as inspiration.  I also turn to self motivation, reminding myself of the space (when giving away) or money (when selling) or new object(when swapping) we will gain by sacrificing an old one that we don’t currently use.  Another point of inspiration is this quote from this month’s Whole Living magazine:  “Clutter is the by-product of indecision.  Make sure everything in your space is there because you choose to keep it.”  Smart words I’m trying to keep in mind.

What are your clutter tackling strategies?  Have they been a success?

Body Image

How we see ourselves and feel about ourselves is *such* an important part of being healthy inside and out.

I would love to say that I have no qualms with how I see myself, but that simply isn’t true.  We all have our days where we look at our bodies and only see flaws, but for me, this has happened more or more since I have been unable to exercise without getting a migraine (more on that later).

This especially reared it’s ugly head during my wedding.  At 30 pounds over what I consider a “healthy” weight for me, seeing the pictures was sort of painful.  On one hand, I *loved* them.  They are a reflection of a weekend filled with fun and love.  I loved the work of our professionals and seeing all the facial expressions and small moments we missed captured by our guests.  And truthfully, I know I looked very great and seeing them makes me happy.

Shot by my friend Kelly

However, every time I see those pictures, I also see the extra weight.  The extra roundness in my face.  The roll at the top side of my dress.  The soft pudgy arms.  I knew I had gained weight and lost muscle mass and I have actively been trying to be more healthy to combat it, but it didn’t hit me of how I really looked until I saw the pictures.  To me, I don’t see that view on a day to day basis and while pictures certainly can lie, I know that most of our guests didn’t photoshop me.  And I know a lot of other people don’t see the little things I see, and that’s totally fine because I know I’m not at a point where I feel my body is healthy.

So I see the beauty in them and the beauty in me on a regular basis, I really do, but I also see my flaws screaming at me. Sometimes it bothers me a lot and other times I’m just lost in happiness seeing them.  A big part of me realizes that I’m not perfect and that most people don’t even notice the things that bother me (although I have had a few people ask if I’m pregnant… ouch.  Thankfully that didn’t happen at the wedding.).  I’m very accepting of who I am as a person, but I haven’t quite accepted that I’m at a point where I’m limited in what I can do and that has affected how I am seen by others.   I feel like I have a ways to go in this arena, but at least I am not at the point where I don’t want to go outside or where I am making unhealthy decisions about how to change my body. I am working on being healthier inside and out and hopefully with that will come acceptance of the things I can change and can’t change.

Do you ever have moments like this?  Was there anything, like a wedding, that tipped the scales for you?

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