The Courage to be Vulnerable

stranger on a train

Nobody is perfect. We can’t pretend that we are. Everybody has something in their past that is painful to think about, no matter how long ago it occurred. Becoming self-aware, and facing the difficulties of our past is often not the first thing on our agenda. In fact, many people spend their entire lives in denial or avoidance of their deep-seated trauma. They unknowingly let it affect their patterns of behavior, coping mechanisms, communication style, and relationships. They are held hostage by their ignored inner conflict, and are inhibited from operating as their best self.

To me, this is the biggest shame of all. A hesitancy to want to look within is the greatest self-sabotage a person could inflict upon themselves. They are hindering their own self-growth, and are therefore not making the most of their human experience and emotional capability.

So why would a person refuse to look within? The vulnerability. It is scary to look within. It is scary to uncover the dark truths of our past, that we have worked so hard to suppress. Why should we dive headfirst into our painful memories, if we have the option to avoid them? Why shouldn’t we just bury those thoughts into a dark corner of our mind, that we never revisit again? Because, try as we might, they will continue to affect us as long as we choose not to face them.

Therapy is a practice that is accepted by some, and refused by all others. While many people have come to believe that it is vital to their mental wellbeing, others believe it is a stark sign of weakness. No matter what state they are in, their sense of pride convinces them that they are not a candidate for therapy and would never benefit from sharing their emotions with a stranger. I am here to dismantle the latter notion.

Since nobody is perfect, then we can all agree that there is always something that a person could learn to do better. There is always room for improvement. If you know you could improve at something, then wouldn’t you want to? If you could strive to be a better you, then what’s stopping you? If you are in agreement with this, then already everyone is a candidate for therapy.

Why would you want to talk to a stranger, when you don’t even feel comfortable talking to a loved one or friend? This stranger is not just someone you’ve picked off the street. They are a professional, who has been trained to guide you through your subconscious and help you to face the daunting and crippling ghosts of your past and present. They have your best interest in mind, and will do anything they can to help you on your journey of becoming your best “you”. They will provide a safe space for you to speak and think without restraints. They will push you to be vulnerable, but hold your hand along the way (so to speak). They are always on your team.

In psychology, there is something called “the stranger on the train phenomenon”. This is the idea that sometimes a stranger can be our most trustworthy confidant. It is called the “stranger on the train phenomenon”, because people who meet on a train can often talk for hours getting to know each other quite well and sharing some very personal secrets, simply because they know that they will likely never see the person again. To me, this is kind of like a therapist. While of course you will likely see them again, they are not at liberty to discuss anything that you tell them with anyone else (much like the benefit of never seeing a person again). Your therapist can be your stranger on a train.

While many people believe that therapy is for the weak, I would have to disagree. Therapy is for the courageous. Therapy is for those people who have the strength to look within, even if it means being uncomfortable and facing your biggest fears. Therapy is for those who are ready to be a better version of themselves. Therapy is for the humble–the people who know that they are not without flaws, and are willing to work to be better. I admire the people who go out of their way to do something courageous and difficult for the better. For the better of their relationships. For the better of their self-concept. For the better of their future.

xx allie

 

Update: 10 Months on Lexapro

allie

It’s been 10 months that I’ve been on Lexapro now, and let me tell ya, time flies when you’re happy.

Lexapro has undoubtedly changed my life. On only 5 mg, I am a different person. I am finally me. The effects of lexapro were, and continue to be, astounding for me. I see the world through rose colored glasses, and glean positivity from most all scenarios. Things that would normally bother me, still do, but I no longer ruminate on them and allow them to ruin my day. Small problems stay just that…small. Things no longer escalate into catastrophic emotional turmoil or a downward spiral with no end. Responsibilities no longer feel  daunting, overwhelming, or impossible. I welcome my responsibilities more readily, and do not feel angry or resentful to have them. I am more confident, as my self-esteem has greatly increased. Make no mistake…it is not inflated, but it is finally normal and exists! My irritability and anger has subsided, making my interactions with others much more pleasant than before. I am no longer guilty for carrying so much negativity around everywhere I went.

Lexapro is like a magic wand. It’s science, but it feels like magic. I didn’t doubt it’s ability to help me get through my depression, but I never imagined how drastically different I would feel in my day-to-day life. A good day before Lexapro, is a mediocre day on Lexapro. The bad is never as bad as the good is good. I still get sad. I still cry. I still care about all of the same things I used to. But now, things don’t seem as drastic. If something upsetting happens, it’s not the end of the world. I am more equipped to handle disappointment. I am more motivated to finish tasks I’m not excited to begin.

The positive effects of Lexapro last over time. I have been on 5mg from the very beginning, and have never felt a reason to increase my dose. My body does not get used to it, and then need more to get the same effects. The right dose is the right dose, period. (Or at least in my own experience).

Lasting side effects:

When you’re depressed, you often lose your appetite. Food isn’t appetizing, and it doesn’t taste nearly as satisfying either. As the lexapro kicks in and diminishes the depression, your appetite comes back. Food becomes enjoyable again. To me, this was a good thing. I had lost about 20 pounds while depressed (mostly because I was eating 1/3 to 1/2 of my normal portions). In the last 10 months, I’ve gained about 10 pounds back. I feel that I am at my healthy weight now. Do I think the Lexapro caused me to gain weight? No. I think getting my appetite back caused me eat regularly again. My body restored healthy weight back to my body. I’ve also been more motivated to work out lately, meaning muscle weight is most likely included. Lexapro didn’t cause me to gain weight. Lexapro restored my appetite.

Sleep: I have not had one night of bad sleep since I’ve started taking lexapro.  Sleep was never an issue for me even before taking the Lexapro, but it’s drastically improved nonetheless. I sleep very soundly throughout the night, and hardly ever stir. I struggled with crazy bad dreams up until lately, but they’ve slowly settled down and become less frequent. Night sweats were also relatively frequent after starting the Lexapro, but those too have become less frequent with time.

That’s about it. Lexapro has provided me with so many amazing benefits, and next to no long-term side effects. If you are struggling with depression, and have been thinking about trying an antidepressant, I would highly recommend trying Lexapro. One of the best parts about this pill is that it’s also an anti-anxiety pill. My anxiety has decreased substantially, and no longer gets in the way of my life. I am now living without any unnecessary or crippling constraints. Lexapro has given me the freedom to live my life happily.

xx allie

 

Must Love Peanut Butter

How To: Homemade PB Oat Snack Bars

 pb bars   

As a snack, I love to eat nutri grain or protein bars with nuts, oats, or chocolate to satisfy my cravings, sustain my appetite, and provide me with some energy (typically in the afternoon). I enjoy Lara Bars, Nature Valley Bars, Kind Bars, Fiber One bars, and more. Recently, however, I’ve been starting to get tired of my go-to choices. None of them sound particularly appealing, so I’ve set out to my make own snack bar!

Only one problem: admittedly, I’m not the best chef. That’s why I tend to look for recipes with few and simple ingredients. I came upon one recipe that seemed simple enough for even ME to succeed at.

Here’s what you need (Makes 10 Snack Bars):

1 ½ Cups of Oats

1/3 Cup of Crunchy or Smooth Natural Salted Peanut Butter

2 Tablespoons of Chia Seeds

2 Tablespoons of Honey or Agave

1/3 Cup of Chocolate chips

1 egg

Here’s what to do:

Preheat the oven to 350.

Mix all ingredients in a bowl. You may need to heat up the peanut butter in order to mix it properly (Be careful not to get it too hot, as it will melt the chocolate chips).

Place the mixture in a greased pan, and pop in the oven for 10-12 minutes!

Cool, cut, and enjoy!

Note: I store my extra bars in the refrigerator to keep them cool and fresh.

I hope you enjoy this simple and delicious treat. If you have any easy recipes to share, please comment on this post!

xx allie

Acai Bowl–How To!

acai

 

If you’ve ever had the opportunity to try an acai bowl, then I’m sure you understand their allure.

Every week I venture out to a little local coffee shop to purchase one of these delectable treats, often spending upwards of $8. And while that’s not too bad of a price to pay for a superfruit meal or filling snack, I’ve found a cheaper way to satisfy my craving.

Thanks to the all-fabulous Trader Joe’s stores, you can now purchase unsweetened organic acai puree packets for only $4.50. They come 4 packets per bag, and are separately portioned out to be just the right amount for a smoothie or bowl.

So now here’s what I do to make the perfect bowl:

Blend 1 half-thawed acai packet w/ a handful of frozen mixed berries, a smaller handful of frozen mango chunks, half of a banana, and a splash of almond milk.

Voila! You’ve made the perfect, thick n’ creamy base.

Now for the toppings:

Drizzle of peanut butter, handful of granola, the remaining half of the banana, a pinch of coconut, and a drizzle of honey or agave.

DE-LIC-IOUS. And literally all of these ingredients can be purchased at Trader Joe’s…your one-stop shop.

Of course, you are totally encouraged to mix and match ingredients for a different flavor that satisfies your own unique cravings. I also recommend chocolate chips, yogurt covered raisins, chia seeds, almond butter, goji berries, blueberries…and the list goes on!

While I normally spend $8 on a bowl… I would venture to say that my homemade bowls don’t cost more than $3 apiece.

Do you have a great Acai recipe idea? Feel free to share by commenting on this post!

xx allie

 

Adulting 101: Tips n’ Tricks to Being a Kick-Ass Adult

  1. adulting-logo1.jpg

    Get Enough Sleep: So you used to go to bed at 2am? Those days are over! Now more than ever your body needs the proper amount of sleep, so that you can function at the optimum level each day. If you wake up early to get to work on time, then consider making a bedtime for yourself around 10:30 or 11 pm. The next day your head will be clear, and your focus will be sharp.

  2. Read: You’re not in school anymore, and no one’s forcing you. However, finding a good book and reading it over the course of time is more rewarding than you might realize. Finishing a few books a month helps to improve your vocabulary, and gives you a feeling of accomplishment. Reading is good for a happy soul.
  3. COFFEE COFFEE COFFEE: You never used to need coffee, but now it is essential. Waking up at 6:30am might never be easy, but it’s definitely easier with the help of some java. Enough said.
  4. Self-Care Routines: There are a number of things that you should get in the habit of doing as you get older.
  • For one, it’s important to take supplements. Some people take a multivitamin, while others take select vitamins for specific purposes. I’ve recently begun to take biotin gummies, which are meant to improve the health of hair, skin, and nails. Other people take fish oil pills, Vitamin C, etc.
  • Get in the habit of flossing! If you don’t already…it’s not too late! Flossing REALLY helps to prevent cavities and decay, and also preserve the health of your gums. It feels good to give your mouth an in-depth cleaning every night before bed.
  • Skin Care: My absolute FAVE. I have so many masks, lotions, exfoliates, hydrators, creams, etc. I look forward to giving my skin the attention it deserves every morning and night. There is NOTHING better than taking off your makeup at the end of the day, and allowing your pores to breathe once again. Seriously…if you don’t take off your makeup before bed, then you have NO RIGHT to complain about breakouts. I can’t stress enough just how important your skin routine is. Prevent aging, blemishes, redness, and more with a relaxing and refreshing wash.
  1. Purchase a Planner (and then actually use it!): I would be a mess without my daily planner. I keep track of appointments, friend get-togethers, workout days, etc. with my nifty little book. Some people choose to schedule events in their phone, but I just love handwriting my schedule. Do whatever works for you…but make sure to stay organized and on track!
  2. Fitness: Let’s face it—you are busy as can be. But it’s SUPER important to make time for a workout a few days per week. It’s too easy to cut out your gym time as soon as life gets hectic. However, the gym can be a great stress reliever. It helps you to clear your mind, and break a sweat! Staying active is important, even if it simply means going for a 20-30 minute walk. Go hiking, play tennis, swim…but whatever you do, try to have fun!
  3. Maintain Important Relationships: Now that you likely don’t run into people you care about on an everyday basis, it is important to maintain regular contact with your close friends and family members. Plan a time for a phone call with out-of-reach friends, or schedule a lunch date with someone close by. Whatever you do, try not to lose touch with the ones that matter. It takes effort!
  4. Start a Savings: If you receive a paycheck regularly, allocate a portion of it to your savings each pay period. Building wealth at an early age will help you to achieve your financial goals in a timely manner.

These 8 life hacks have been vital for me in succeeding as a busy adult. While they work for me, they might not necessarily work for you. Figure out what it is that will spur your day-to-day success and happiness. Then go for it.

xx allie  

 

Who Better to Treat Yourself Than You?

fabfitfun

What’s up guys?

As you know if you follow my blog posts, I am a huge advocate of treating yourself to things that make you happy, and allocating “me” time each week for renewing and replenishing. With all of the stress and craziness you are certainly enduring as you ‘adult’, you absolutely NEED to take care of yourself to maintain a certain level of Zen.

There are many routine ways that I “maintain my Zen”, so to speak, but this month I went out on a limb a little and decided to order my very own FabFitFun box! FabFitFun boxes are themed for the seasons, and arrive with a ton of fun girly goodies that retail for $200+ dollars [I got mine for only $45…needless to say, what a steal!]. I purchased this box because I knew I would enjoy using the products to pamper myself on a night in, indulge in some relaxation, and even improve my health!  

After rummaging through my Spring box, I can’t tell you how happy I am with the array of products I received! I am already counting down the days until my Summer box arrives!

What’s Inside:

  • Access to online workouts: Membership to FabFitFun TV, with new workout videos released every season.
  • Hair, Skin and Nail Vitamin Gummies (Strawberry Flavored, packed with Biotin)
  • Realher “I Am Awesome” Lip Kit: With a matte lipstick paint, lip pumping gloss, and liner! Super cute: since the type on the bottles are motivational for women. (Offered in two different colors—mine came in “deep nude”). This product alone retails for $48 online!

lipkit

  • Briogeo Leave-in conditioning spray (full size bottle)

leave in

  • Gypsie Roundie: decorative or useful patterned fabric throw.
  • Milly Zip Pouch: “Beach Please” waterproof zip up bag (offered in multiple phrases/colors)
  • Brandt Microdermabrasion Age Defying Exfoliator: LOVE skin care products..so I’m excited for this one. Retails for $79!
  • Karuna Hydrating Face Masks—Pack of 4! Great brand—so, great value!

face mask

  • Luv AJ 14K rose gold earrings
  • Deborah Lippman Nail Polish Set in springtime hues.

The excitement of opening up this surprise box of goodies, using the products over time to embody my girly desires, and now having the opportunity to write about it in my blog is what creates happiness for me! Do what makes you happy.

Interested in ordering the FabFitFun box for yourself? Contact me for a special discount code.

xx allie

 

Make it Rain

march

Now that we’re settled into the New Year, and summer is on the horizon…the theme of this quarter is “Eye on the prize”. A future-oriented mindset will spur success and wealth in the coming years…and that is what we’re working towards.

Over the course of the winter months, I allowed myself to be overly generous when it came to eating a frenzy of sweets. There was little that I held back from eating, and I enjoyed every damn bite. Basically…no regrets. Although, as with most things, it’s time to achieve some balance. Since the next couple of months are free of major holidays and lead into the summer, I figured this would be a good time to focus on my health, diet, and fitness.

Although I love partaking in Zumba classes a few times a week (shout-out to the absolute best instructors Ellie & Ida), I am also beginning to focus on weight training. Last week was my first week—and MAN was I sore. Thankful for workout buddy Al–for pushing me to the limit and exploring new exercises with me! Coupled with protein shakes and focused meal planning, I am hoping to gain some muscle, slim, and tone.  Although progress is slow, my thinking is long-term. I know that with a little bit of discipline and persistence, change and improvement are sure to come. If nothing else…then at least I’m healthy!

As a byproduct of my health consciousness, I am quickly learning that grocery shopping, meal planning, and cooking can actually be pretty fun! I’ve created Faro chicken salads, chicken fajitas, and a shrimp stir fry in the last few days. Next on the list are panko breaded & baked cauliflower, parmesan zucchini, spaghetti squash Bolognese, and baked sweet potato fries. It’s a fun and healthy way to tap into my creative side and reap the benefits.

My personal initiative has been on adding a considerable amount of protein and veggies to my diet. Speaking of protein: I’ve also been very much enjoying my morning chocolate protein shake (Ben’s recipe: with frozen banana slices, a spoon of peanut butter, and almond milk)! 25 grams of protein is a great way to start off my day—and it also satisfies my morning chocolate craving!  Believe it or not, planning and cooking my own meals seems to be a money saver as well. Way less money goes to restaurants and independently owned stores. A great lil added bonus.

This leads me to my next topic. GREEN! Although March is the month of St. Patty’s Day…that’s not the only reason that green is of importance to me this month particularly. Lately I’ve been focused on saving my earnings, and even investing ($$$)! Although it’s fun to pamper yourself and spend in the moment, it’s even more fun to save for the future and build a foundation that you can be proud of. Long-term goals cannot be reached without planning and patience, but in the end you will be so glad that you held off on that pricey bathing suit you wanted, or the acrylic nails you just HAD to have. Saving gives you confidence in your future and your ability to invest in something that matters later down the road. Goals: make it rain.

Even if your goals are long-term, it’s important to be disciplined and patient in your approaches right now. If your eye is on the prize and you put the work in, it will be exciting when you’re finally able to reward yourself in the future.

Getting my ducks in a row has never felt so good. Cheers to protein & green for the month of March! What’s your eye on?

xx allie

Snack Smart

One of my main motivations for coming to work every day (and doing so in an upbeat mood) are the snacks I keep at my desk (is that sad? perhaps). I love to snack. In fact, I’ve noticed that almost any time someone approaches me at my desk, more often than not, I am with snack in hand.  But how am I able to live a sedentary desk lifestyle, while at the same time stuffing my mouth with snack after snack?

I guess ideally the object of the game is to choose healthy snacks. While admittedly, I’m not the best at this, with the start of the new year I’ve made it more of a priority to choose healthier snack options. I figured I’d share some of my favorites, in case you are starting to get bored with your current go-to’s.

  • Coffee—I start every work day off with a cup of coffee. I look forward to getting to work so that I can make my cup and enjoy it as I check my emails. Coffee sure ranges in strength and in flavor, so I’ve found that my absolute fave is the Don Francisco’s Vanilla Nut K-cup. So. Good. [must be consumed with flavored creamer for optimal taste]
  • Flavored Green Tea—you can find this at Trader Joes! I believe they have an unsweetened pomegranate blueberry flavor. I like drinking it cold with ice! There are antioxidants in it too!
  • Recently I’ve come across an adorable and healthy snack that I’m rather excited about! Both Target and Walmart carry these mickey-mouse shaped snack packs called “Foodles”—with compartments for apple slices, some cubes of cheddar cheese, and a few mini salted pretzels. I always eat the apple slices with crunchy almond butter from Trader Joe’s. It’s healthy, tasty, and satisfying all at once. I feel good because I’m eating fruit and protein in the same snack. These also come in different snack combinations: such as celery, peanut butter, and raisins, or yogurt, granola, and apple slices.

Image result for foodles

  • Oranges. Straight up. I buy these from the grocery store and slice them up for easier eating. There is nothing more delicious than a juicy and sweet orange as a mid-morning or afternoon snack. I feel great eating oranges because I’m warding off sickness with the vitamin C (including scurvy, I like to tell myself…ahoy).
  • Lara Bars ooh yes. I consider these bars as more of a treat, since they are sweet and higher in calories for their size. They are the perfect snack to satisfy a sweet tooth. Every flavor of the Lara bar is made with only a few simple whole and natural ingredients. My favorite is the peanut butter chocolate chip. Ingredients include: dates, peanuts, semisweet chocolate chips, and sea salt. That is literally all. I have also heard that the chocolate chip cookie dough is good, as well as the apple pie.

Image result for lara bars

  • Nuts & Trail Mixes. I really like cashews, macadamia nuts, and pecans. The trio of delicious. Mix them with raisins, cranberries, peanut butter chips, coconut flakes, etc. and you’re golden.
  • Yogurt. I love to enjoy yogurt in the afternoon (at about 3-4pm). Flavors of choice are strawberry, peach, mocha, chocolate, french vanilla. While I know Greek is best, I tend to go for low-fat. In the off chance that I do choose to go for the Greek, I usually get the Chobani Flips type. These kind come with mix-ins that add a little something extra.

Image result for chobani flips

  • Hard-boiled eggs! Every once in a while I bring 1-2 along with me. I lightly salt them and pop ‘em in! They are yummy and full of good protein and nutrients to power you up.
  • Fruit Leather. They come in all different fruit types, and are a great little pick-me-up when you’re on the run. Pop one in your purse since they’re super slim, and you’ll never find yourself out and about and shaking with hunger.

They say it’s good to eat small snacks throughout the day, to keep your metabolism going. Well, of course that’s only true if you’re putting healthy food inside of you. I know that sometimes we all go through periods of healthy and unhealthy eating. I hope that these ideas are helpful for you if you’re looking for some new snack ideas. Feel free to share any good ideas that you might have as well!

Thanks for reading!

xx allie