Currently / September 2016

This week has been pretty blah, so I thought a fun little survey post would be just the thing. Here’s a quick snapshot of all things currently going on in my life (similar to posts here and here). Hope you enjoy!

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(Also enjoy this picture of a minion.)

Reading The Wild One, the third book in the Brooklyn Girls series. It’s a fun, quick read, perfect for the end of summer.

Listening to The Head and The Heart, but thinking it’s about time to bust out some Fleetwood Mac.

Looking forward to a weekend spent at Notre Dame. (!!!)

Watching The Mindy Project on HuluPlus. Binge-watching, to be exact. I went home from work early with a migraine today, so it played in the background of my dark living room all afternoon.

Needing a pedicure. Like real bad.

Drinking tons and tons of cold water—I need to flush out those toxins stat!

Indulging in handfuls of Enjoy Life chocolate chips whenever we have them on hand.

Wearing yoga pants and an oversize Notre Dame sweatshirt.

Wishing that fall weather would show up soon.

Making a Project Life album of our trip to California. It’s really nice and super easy to do, I’m just taking forever to do it.

Wanting a new pair of ankle boots (these or these maybe?).

Loving simple nights at home that are filled with relaxing instead of scrambling to do projects and work.❤

Now you: Tell me, what are your currently-s?

Workouts Lately

Hi there! Happy Wednesday and happy almost-fall. The weather here has been all kinds of nice lately, minus some mosquitoes that I guess won’t go away until the first freeze.

With school done and my crazy-busy summer almost over, I’ve been trying to get back into a routine that includes my old healthy habits. It’s a work in progress, and I’m trying to learn how to prioritize all the things. The last time I really was able to eat clean and work out on a consistent basis was like 3 years ago, and I was also living alone and hopelessly single. Translation: I didn’t have a lot going on, so I went to the gym every day and cooked all my own meals.

Right now, my plan of action is to go to the gym during my lunch break. Here’s the deal: I get a 1 hour break for lunch each day. I work in a pretty laid-back office, so we don’t have to look 100% profesh all the time. (Read: If I come back from lunch with a red face and sweaty hair, no one’s going to yell at me.) My gym is near my work. I have exactly enough time to get to the gym, change into workout clothes, work out, stretch, change back into work clothes, get back to work. No time for showers or any workout longer than 30 minutes.

Here are 2 workouts I’ve done recently during my lunch hour, plus a yoga video that I love so much and had to include.

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This is a little weights circuit I put together that includes some of my favorite moves. Do each set 3 times, rest 1 minute, and then move to the next set.

Exercise demos: bicep curls / squats / bent-over row / straight-leg deadlift / standing overhead press / standing tricep extension / stationary lunge / supine chest flydonkey kicks / leg pulse

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This is a cardio circuit I did when I had forgotten my headphones (hence the name). Normally, this would be an excuse to just head home. But since it was my lunch break, I had already eaten and didn’t have time to do anything else, so I toughed it out. I did 3 quick mini-circuits on different cardio machines to keep me from getting bored.

Finally, this is a really beautiful yoga sequence that I did after work yesterday. I have been craving lots of yoga lately, and this video was absolutely perfect. (Check out her channel on YouTube for lots of good videos each week here.)

Note: I am not a certified personal trainer. Check with your healthcare provider before beginning or making changes to your fitness routine. Honor your body and modify as necessary.

WIAW: Tuesdays That Feel Like Mondays

Hi! I hope you all had a lovely long weekend (if you were lucky enough to get a long weekend) and are feeling rested and ready to go! My poor friends and boyfriend hear this all the time, but I’ll say it here too: When you have a Monday off from work, the week feels longer. Fridays off, the week feels shorter. Don’t ask me why, but it’s true.

In true Tuesday/boosday fashion, my day started off with me sleeping through my alarm. I’m an avid user of The Rock Clock, but I think its service to me is over. This is the third time in the past week that the alarm has TURNED OFF because I didn’t turn it off first. Because I didn’t hear it! The Rock Clock, this is a failure. How can you call yourself an alarm if you turn off after X amount of minutes?

So the day started off on a bad foot.

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All of my bags. Minus my gym bag, because I foolishly thought I would work out at home after work. Ha! Didn’t happen.

Miraculously, I got to work relatively on time. But breakfast was a drive-thru classic: oatmeal and iced coffee.

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Eaten at my desk + half a pack of Justin’s almond butter to give the oatmeal a bit of staying power. FYI, my iced coffee order is just iced coffee with skim milk. Perfect.

I eat lunch every day around 11am. 1. Because I’m usually hungry at that time and don’t have a morning snack. And 2. Because I have been using my lunch breaks to go to the gym (minus today, when I went home and hung out with my dogs). I can’t work out on a full stomach—I feel like I want to hurl the whole time (TMI, sorry!).

Today I had my classic lazy-girl lunch: An Amy’s vegan, gluten-free burrito over some greens to give it some color, plus a big ol’ handful of red grapes because I can’t get enough of them lately. Pro tip: Buy a few lunches every week that will make it easy to throw in your lunch bag. I know there will be at least a couple days where I’m too lazy to meal prep or I’m out too late at night, and throwing one of these healthy-ish burritos in my bag makes life so much easier. No shame.

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My lunch held me over reasonably well, so I waited to have my afternoon snack until around 3pm.

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A peanut butter cookie Larabar with baby carrots and hummus. (I didn’t eat the plum because it was suspect. Sadly, I think plum season is over in southern Indiana.)

I work until 5, and when I got home I was pretty hungry. I was flying solo on Tuesday night, so I whipped up an old standby: scrambled eggs with pepper and hot sauce with an Ezekiel English muffin and cream cheese on the side.

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At home we eat mostly paleo-ish (I’ll talk about this in a future post), but I’ve been eating vegetarian for breakfast and lunch lately. My boyfriend is not a fan of breakfast for dinner (break my heart, why don’t you!), so I never get to have scrambled eggs in the PM.😦

Dinner was quickly followed by a strawberry popsicle while watching The Mindy Project on HuluPlus.

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After dinner, I did some stuff around the house and then met up with a friend at my favorite local watering hole for a drink (or 2). Vodka sodas with lime FTW.

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I was out later than I planned, but we had a really good time catching up. As soon as I walked in the door, I had a handful (x2) of these amazing vegan chocolate chips.

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I then took care of the doggies and sat down to type up this post. And now I’m ready for bed! The glamorous life of a 30-something who works full-time, right?

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If WIAW (What I Ate Wednesday, for the uninitiated) is up your alley, as it is mine, you can check out the post link up here.

Have an amazing Wednesday, all! We’re halfway through this week already!❤

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Tuesday Things

Hi! So, a quick update. You may have noticed, but the blog has a little bit of a different look now. I recently purchased my very own domain —> indianahearts.me <— (!) and am working on a few other upgrades. Basically, I started this blog in 2013 and have really not updated it since. And a lot of things need updated.🙂

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(RIP original banner.)

While I’m working away on that (and hopefully finishing it up this week), I thought I’d leave you with some quick Tuesday things.

  • Mosquitos and southern Indiana humidity are a nightmare. I cannot walk outside without getting an insane amount of bites. Luckily, some googling led me to the only remedy for bites that has worked for me so far: witch hazel. Of course, right? I’m a firm believer that witch hazel can cure everything. It doesn’t immediately take the itch away, but after I put some on a bite, it’s noticeably more bearable.
  • Now that I’m done with school, I’m happily back to reading for pleasure. In fact, I’m currently reading 2 books. The Fire Starter Sessions was recommended on another blog I read, and I’m working through it on lazy evenings after work or on weekends (I cannot read non-fiction before bed; nothing is less enjoyable to me). It’s basically a self-help book, although I really hesitate to write that because it sounds very voodoo-ish. But so far I’m really enjoying it and learning a lot. Before bed I’m reading Mrs. Hemingway, which was given to me by my best friend. It’s amazing and has reminded me to go reread A Moveable Feast again.
  • My favorite nighttime treat right now is these strawberry popsicles. I randomly picked them up at the grocery store a few weeks ago and remembered how much I love them. I have one every single night after dinner because it’s summer.

On that note, I’m going to go help myself to a handful of chocolate chips and call it a night. And hopefully I’ll be back next week and the site will be totally updated and ready to move into the future!🙂

How Stress Affects Your Weight

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An alternate title for this post could have been: “How I Managed to Finish a Degree in Food and Nutrition and Gain 30 Pounds While Doing It.”

The last 2.5 years have been really really good but also really really crazy. I started going back to school in January 2014 on a part-time basis. At the time, I was personally unhappy, work was crazy busy, and I was trying to fumble my way through a chemistry class (the only class I almost failed in high school, FYI). I eventually shifted my work and school schedules around to try to make things easier, but as you know, life tends to do whatever, regardless of if it’s what you’re needing or not.

So I wanted to talk a little bit today about stress and the body—what’s going on when we’re stressed out physically, what can we do to help fix it. Our culture basically thrives on stress—we feel constant pressure to be the best, to do the most, to constantly improve ourselves. We work a ton of hours, try to fit in time with family and friends, and still want to have extracurriculars. And all the while we’re looking for life balance, and even more frustrated when we can’t seem to achieve this.

The Stress Response

Our body activates a stress response to a situation via adrenaline, or epinephrine. This is the whole “fight or flight” thing people talk about. Our heart rates increase, blood pressure increases, you know what I’m talking about. Once the stress response is activated, our friend cortisol kicks in to regulate the response. All our unnecessary body functions go on hold until the stressful situation ends.

Now, this response is not a bad thing—it’s critical to our survival. You can think about the classic example of meeting a lion in the wild—your body has to activate a stress response so that you are primed to respond. Once you’ve gotten away from the lion, your body returns back to normal.

The thing is, in our society, our stress response is activated all. the. time. It’s like our bodies think we’re constantly interacting with lions every day. And a lot of bad things can happen as a result of this. Elevated stress hormones can lead to anxiety, depression, sleep problems, and weight gain. Cortisol in particular is associated with weight gain, especially in the abdominal region of our bodies.

On top of that, constant stress is known to affect our self-control, which explains stress eating, drinking, and sedentary behavior. Moderation takes discipline! And discipline is something I definitely lacked while I was chronically stressed.

Unfortunately, this all becomes a vicious cycle. Chronic stress is known to impair sleep, and poor sleep quality is associated with higher BMI. When you’re tired you lack self-control, plus your hunger hormones are screwed up and you crave more high-sugar, high-fat foods. See what I mean?

Assessing Stress

So what do we do? Just give in and accept that we’re going to be constantly stressed and unhealthy?

If you are going through a stressful time, there are a few things you need to assess. Determine what the source of stress is and how you are going to deal with it.

For me, it was school. And fortunately, there was a light at the end of that tunnel. I’m done with my degree and feel a TON better. And now I have time and energy to devote to things I love. But maybe the source of stress in your life is a job or a new baby or finances. Things that aren’t going to go away soon. What do you do then?

Prioritize sleep. Sleep is so incredibly important for your body, mind, and emotions. If you do nothing else, make sure you are getting enough sleep (or as much as you can). If thoughts or worries are keeping you up, try praying or meditating. I’ve been using this lavender sleep balm for a few months and LOVE it. Do some stretching before bed. Try to find a restful nighttime routine that signals to your body that it’s time to unwind for the day.

Secondly, try to manage the stress in your life as best as possible. Find a healthy way to relieve stress, and if possible, one that involves getting some healthy movement in. Again, mindfulness and prayer are key to this. Find social support—maybe through coworkers or friends or family members. It may mean making some changes, maybe some hard or scary ones. The thing is, your health has to be just as important to you as getting everything done. This is the only life and body that you get, and taking care of it is a privilege.

Lastly, give yourself some grace. Accept where you’re at and move on. For me, it’s with an extra 30 pounds. Am I thrilled about that? No. Am I going to beat myself up over it? No. I did a lot of incredible things over that past few years, and to me, that is more important than how thin I am. I am moving forward, looking at each day as a fresh start and way to make different, better choices than I was able to over the last few years.

Dealing with stress is such a difficult topic, and I by no means have all the answers. I’m just muddling my way through like everyone else. But I think this is a good place to start, and I hope this little post has been helpful, even a little bit.❤


Please note: The opinions in this post are my own and are not meant to substitute for professional medical advice. Please talk to your healthcare provider before making any changes involving your health.
Information was obtained from the following sources:
Berset M et al. Does stress at work make you gain weight? A two-year longitudinal study. Scand J Work Environ Health. 2011;37(1):45-53.
Brand S et al. Influence of mindfulness practice on cortisol and sleep in long-term and short-term meditators. Neuropsychobiology. 2012;65:109-118.
Harding JL et al. Psychosocial stress is positively associated with body mass index gain over 5 years: evidence from the longitudinal AusDiab study. Obesity (Silver Spring). 2014;22(1):277-286.
Rudenga KJ et al. Acute brain stress potentiates brain response to milkshake as a function of body weight and chronic stress. Int J Obes (Lond). 2013;37(2):309-316.
Mayo Clinic. Chronic stress puts your health at risk. http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/stress/art-20046037. Accessed August 23, 2016.

What I Learned on Vacation

About 2 weeks ago, I got back from vacation. My boyfriend and I went to visit some friends in California, and it was amazing.

We had a nightmare day of travel out to California, but like the champions we are, we didn’t let it get us down. On the docket for the week was a visit to Yosemite National Park, hanging out in Sacramento (kind of our home base for vacation, where our friends lived), and a trip to San Francisco. It was a lot to cram into 1 week of vacation!

I’m not going to recap the play-by-play of our vacation, because I honestly HATE reading vacation recaps. I don’t want to read about you lounging on the beach and going out to dinner at a different restaurant every night! It’s boring! What I am going to do is leave you with some things I learned during vacation—after all, the purpose of taking time off is to recharge and get some new perspective.

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Sunshine and movement is everything.

Some of you may know, but I have had anxiety issues for the last several years. The week we were in California, I felt SO GOOD. Like, it was kind of unbelievable. There are a lot of factors here—we were on vacation, all of my everyday stresses were on the back burner, we were spending a week with friends doing fun things—so feeling good is to be expected. But I think a large part of it was that we were outside in the sun getting lots of exercise. The weather was amazing and I got like 2 mosquito bites the entire week. We WANTED to spend time outside.

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So we come home and the humidity is 200% and mosquitoes feasted on my arms and legs the moment I stepped outside. It’s a little harder to enjoy being outside in summer in southern Indiana, but I’m trying to exercise a few times a week and walk our big dog in the morning, before the misery sets in.

I’ve been keeping a journal for the last few weeks and documenting how I feel each day, especially in relation to what kinds of food I’m eating and how much exercise and sleep I’m getting. I’ve noticed such an improvement on the days that I make time to go for a run or take Cooper out in the morning.

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Be willing to try new things.

I am more of an indoorsy city girl—basically a wimp when it comes to roughing it. So I knew that our plans included visiting Yosemite for a couple days, and to be honest, I thought that I would tolerate it. Joshua has always wanted to visit and I thought I would just play the role of supportive girlfriend while we were there. I was much more looking forward to San Francisco and being in the middle of a busy city.

But I absolutely LOVED Yosemite. Guys, it was by far my favorite part of vacation. We walked in streams! We saw a mama deer nursing her babies! We drove really far up a mountain and saw breathtaking views!

Moral of the story—sometimes you have to suck it up and try something you’re not super excited about. But sometimes that pays off. I’m so thankful that I had an open mind and positive attitude about our visit to Yosemite because it helped me realize that I can learn to enjoy things that maybe aren’t what I would expect. (Also I’m currently planning all of our future vacations to national parks.)

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Friends over phones.

File this under “duh,” but it never hurts to reinforce this lesson. Did I take lots of photos on Instagram during vacation? Yes. Do I regret that? No. Do I regret basically ignoring social media for the rest of the week? Heck no.

While I love being able to see what my friends are up to, social media can also be depressing as hell. Especially since most people (myself included) are only posting their highlight reels—not real life. So it’s easy for me to go in a black hole of scrolling through pictures of other people’s lives and forget to live mine or to fall into the comparison trap. Our week away helped me to see how much better I feel when I’m connecting with real life people instead of worrying about what other people are doing. Since we’ve gotten back, I’ve found myself on my phone less and less, and it feels really good.

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Since we’re back to reality (and have been for the past few weeks), I really want to try to keep these vacation habits going. Plus, it’s fun to pretend that I live in sunny California.🙂

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10-Month Catch-Up

Hi! SO. My last post was in October 2015. The thing about having a blog is that it is time-consuming. As much as I would love to think that this blog will really take off and become my sole source of income and that I would just get paid to shill a bunch of stuff to my friends and family via the internet, it probably won’t. And when I have approximately 1,000,000 things going on, maintaining this little site is the least of my priorities.

So what’s been going on in the last 10 months? I’m glad you asked.

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I FINISHED MY DEGREE!

Yup, I now am the proud holder of 2 bachelor’s degrees—a B.A. in English Literature and a B.S. in Food and Nutrition. I have truly loved being in school for the last 2.5 years, but I am thankful that it is over.

When I decided to go back to school in December 2013, my life was in a very ‘meh’ place. I was living alone, single, working at a job that I didn’t feel challenged in, and watching a lot of my friends move into new and exciting stages of their lives. I had to make a change. And so even though I was really scared, I decided to enroll in classes part time.

In January 2014, I started taking a chem class in the evenings and 2 online classes. I was working full time, and at the time work was very busy. But I loved my classes and knew this was something I had to go for full force. So the following semester, I started taking classes full time and moved to part time at my job.

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This is where things got out of hand.

I loved my classes and, unlike when I was in college as a 20-year-old, actually cared about my grades. My life was basically consumed with work, going to class, and studying. If I was lucky, I would be able to do 1 fun thing a week. Around this time I also had met this great guy, and was trying to figure out how to fit that in to my life. Needless to say, I was pretty busy and a stress monster.

So now I’m back to just normal adulting. My degree is finished, and while I’m kind of sad that I’m done with school learning for this chapter of my life, I’m excited to start new ventures.

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What kind of new ventures? For one, I’m hoping to post on here more often. I have learned so much over the last few years, and I can’t wait to share some of it with you. I also am excited about committing to my own health again—mentally, emotionally, and physically. Yoga has been making a comeback lately, and I couldn’t be more pleased.

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I have a lot of other ideas going around in my head, and I haven’t had time to fully develop them yet. Classes ended at the end of June, and July was a whirlwind of weddings and vacation and general summertime. But now that I’ve had a little bit of rest, I’m excited to get back into working on a few projects. Stay tuned.❤