Monday, June 23, 2014

Staying on Top of Your Health with a Busy Schedule

It's no secret that my life has been constantly hectic since I started graduate school last fall. I recently had a revelation that when June Orientation comes to a close this upcoming Friday, I will be enjoying my first break from everything school and work related (even including winter break, as I was required to do preparatory work for a class) in almost a full year. I honestly don't know what I'm going to do with that sort of free time, but I can tell you that I am PUMPED.

I try to make staying healthy one of my top priorities, because if I'm not healthy, nothing else in my life would be able to get done. I pay close attention to how my body's feeling and make sure that it's getting the right attention it needs, especially if I do start to feel something coming on or everyone around me seems to be getting sick. Despite how busy I've been, I've been lucky enough to not have had any serious sickness knock me out from attending class, doing what was expected of me at work, and generally getting in the way of living my life (save for a few migraines and a small cold that I came down with over winter break).

I thought that I'd share a few of the tips and tricks that work for me in order to fend off the sickies, and hopefully you all can use them to help you out when your life gets busy!

Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate.

This one seems obvious, but it's true. If you're starting to feel sick (you know that feeling you get in your face/throat when you feel a cold coming on?) amp up the water intake. Hydrating your body can be annoying as hell because you're forced to run to the bathroom every 20 minutes, but doing so is helping your body expel all of that gross bacteria it's trying to fight off. You're actually doing yourself a huge favor, and you'll likely wake up the next day feeling better for it. Keep on hydrating!

Cut down the caffeine intake.

This is hard to do, especially when you're working extremely long unconventional hours, but coffee and soda actually dehydrate your body and make it harder for your immune system to fight off sickness. If you are starting to feel that "omigod am I sick? I feel sick, I must be getting sick" panic, try and cut back on the caffeination and trade it in for water or something rich in vitamins. If you're really feeling sluggish, trade your coffee in for something high in vitamin C, which actually makes your body more awake and alert in a natural way!

Have something healthy to snack on in your bag.

I try to make sure I'm eating one or two raw foods a day when my schedule gets busy, like an apple, banana, baby carrots, etc., and I find that if it's right there in my bag, I'm more likely to eat it than if I have to go out of my way to buy something in the moment. If I can't get my hands on the real thing, I usually snag a Naked smoothie or something similar. Unfortunately, they're pretty high in sugar (I'm unsure if it's the natural sugars from the juices or otherwise), but they're also packed with vitamins so I do tend to feel a difference if I drink one of them. Oooor it may be a placebo effect, but as long as you're feeling better, right?

Make sure you're getting a good sweat regularly.

Another way to get yucky sickness bugs out of your system is to sweat them out. When my schedule really ramps up, I try to make it a point to work out at least once a week. I have to be more intentional about the timing of my work out (if I'll have time to shower after, if my body will benefit more from a good night's sleep than a workout at 10pm, etc.) but I really do strive to make sure that I'm not letting too many days go by without some at-home yoga, strength training, or maybe even an early morning run (if I'm lucky/motivated enough).

Set boundaries.

I do have my work email on my phone, and one of my jobs even requires my attention after-hours, but on the nights I do have off, I make sure that work is not on my mind. It's unfair to my mental health to be checking up on and worrying about work-related issues when I already devote my whole day to it. Yes, it's important to stay on top of things, but when I have my evenings and weekends off, it's more important that I am taking care of the things that are important to me in my own life instead of worrying about things that can wait until the morning. So when I'm cuddled up in my bed watching Netflix and eating pizza, I make it a point to make sure the work email stays unread.

Actually sleep!

This also seems like a no brainer, but once I get home from a long day of work and class, I'm totally wired, even if I've been exhausted all day. I find myself wanting to do all the things I've been wanting to do all day but couldn't because I was working or in class: binging on TV or Netflix, reading my book for hours when it just got to the really good part, or catching up with an old hobby that I haven't even thought of in 3 years. You know, just anything besides sleep. However, in order for your body to really recharge, you've got to get some quality shut-eye. I find as soon as all the lights are off and I just let myself relax, I pass out in a matter of 10 minutes. Unfortunately I don't allow myself as much sleep as I'd like, but I always make sure I at least get 5-6 hours each night (which may not seem like much, but it's enough for me to function on, haha).


I hope you guys find these tips helpful in your busy lives. Remember that you need to take care of yourself before you can take care of anything else. Make your health a priority and you will feel better in every other aspect of your life!

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Running for Ribs

On Father's Day my parents and I went to Rock n' Ribfest in Merrimack, NH! It's exactly what it sounds like - a festival of BBQing, rib cooking, music, and awesomeness! There was also a 5 mile road race that my mom and I ran together. We weren't aware of it, but it was actually the National Championship for the 5 mile distance, so the place was packed with over 2,000 runners, including many elite runners!

My dad was taking photos at the Start/Finish line and managed to find us in the crowd as we passed by! He acted as our awesome support crew - even though it was the day to celebrate him, he was still working hard to make sure that we had everything we needed to make our race successful. Talk about the best Dad ever, huh?!

The race itself was nice and flat, save for a few hills at the beginning & mid-points, but it was hot with very little shade, so the pavement had us cookin'. We both managed to finish with decent times for the conditions, though! I also saw multiple 9-10 year olds just killin' it on the race course, as well as some super parents passing me while pushing multiple children in strollers. #champs

After the race was over, we had some time to kill before heading into Ribfest and sampling all of the barbeque deliciousness. The whole event was on the Anheuser-Busch Brewery, so we decided to pay the Budweiser Clydesdales a little visit!  

These horses are HUGE but seemed to be very good-natured. I think they're *very* used to attention from people and the snapping of photos, as they appear in commercials and even go on tour every so often! So essentially, we were hanging out with celebrity horses.

We walked around an enjoyed the sunshine and company of our new animal friends for a while longer before finally heading into the much anticipated festival! We went through the gates as soon as they opened, and technically we were still a few minutes out from the cooking from really getting started, so we explored a bit and came across a local high school robotics team showing off their basketball playing robot.

(I wasn't kidding.)

Once the rib chefs put their first racks on the grill, we headed over to grab our lunch. There were lots of different rib joints there from all over the world (including Australia!) competing for the Rock n' Ribfest trophy, so we had a pretty hard time deciding which place we wanted to try.

However, we decided to go with the places that both seemed to have a decent trophy collection: Jack's Downhome Barbeque from Virginia, and Gator BBQ from Naples, Florida!

We got a half rack of ribs from Jack's and a pulled pork sandwich and BBQ chicken from Gator BBQ:

We all sat in the grass, listened to the bands play, and shared the delicious barbeque feast. Both places made awesome food and everything was devoured pretty quickly. I knew that Ribfest was an annual event in NH, but I had no idea it was this awesome! I'll definitely be returning in the future. It was such a gorgeous day and it was awesome getting to spend it with my parents on Father's Day!

Friday, June 13, 2014

Birthday Money Shopping Haul! (Marshall's, Payless, GameStop)

My birthday was a few weeks ago and this year I received a few gift cards and birthday checks as gifts. When I was home in (tax free!) NH over Memorial Day Weekend, I decided to splurge a bit and *cough*spendallofitatonce*coughcough*. #lessonsyoushouldntlearnfromRiley It had been a while since I had gone shopping for myself (Spoiler alert, grad students do not have a lot of money) so having money that you're forced to spend (gift cards) for a change was pretty exciting! I got a few different things, so I thought I'd show you all what I got!

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Helmets Up!: Warrior Dash 2014

Before picture!

Louie, Nick, Danielle and I took on the Warrior Dash at good ol' Amesbury Sport Park a couple weekends ago. You'll remember that our experience from the same location at the Superhero Scramble was not very pleasant (I bruised my tailbone and got covered in poison ivy... ick), but this race was much more fun for all involved!

Brett made it out to come be our support crew. I always feel badly that he can't see us do the obstacles, but he's always a good sport and enjoys himself anyway! (And takes selfies with me! :D)

Being awkward, per usual.

Helmets up! #noonejoinedme

Judging by how the last race I ran at the Amesbury Sport Park was extremely painful, I was pretty nervous to run this one. However, it went much better than I had imagined it to! I managed to get over/through every obstacle on my own no sweat (though I'll admittedly never be comfortable being up in the air on a rickety wooden contraption). I was extra surprised that I managed to get up and over the signature obstacle course wall that I could not conquer without Brett's help last year. There were some boards that were definitely helpful, and it wasn't nearly as steep, but I was proud of myself nonetheless.

Louie & I finished the first of our group!

After picture!

Unfortunately I got a pretty severe migraine after this race and felt terribly sick all the way home, but the race itself was so much fun and it's always good to share the experience with friends! Hope that I get to do a few more obstacle races before the weather starts cooling down again!

Sunday, June 8, 2014

'Twas the Night before Orientation...

How is it already 9:30 pm the night before the first session of New Student & Family Orientation? HOW?!

It seems like Orientation Leader training consumed more of my life that I had originally anticipated. Every time I sat down to write a post, I was distracted by Orientation business of one form or another. As a result, I have several posts written all the way out, with just a few additions still needed, sitting in blog purgatory. (I'll probably add the finishing touches to those this evening and schedule them out throughout this week!) But because training consumed so much of my life, a couple of weeks have gone by in a blink and now we are on the edge of 3 crazy, exhausting, exciting, and fun weeks of welcoming new students and families to BSU! It really felt like this day was ages away, but now it's here.

During training, the whole staff decorates each other clipboards to use throughout each session. You get one person to make a clipboard for, and it's a secret the whole time. Tonight was clipboard reveal! I didn't take a picture of the one I made (though the student I made it for said he loved it!), but this is the one another student made for me!

 I absolutely love it! Thanks, Tyler! :)

We are starting session one with a staff meeting bright and early tomorrow morning at 6:00 am (O_O) and I will be powering through (somehow) until about 10:30 pm, followed by a 9-5 second day of the program. Rise and repeat 6 times and you have Orientation. It sounds like a lot (and it is), but it's actually a lot of fun and I'm definitely looking forward to kicking the program off tomorrow!

Please forgive me if this space goes even quieter than it has been, but I have a feeling that I'll have exciting stories from my personal life to share throughout this busy time so I'll be sure to drop in to write a post or two over the next few weeks!