Close Out the Year with Self Love

As the holidays approach, media and marketing will sell you on thinking it’s the most wonderful time of the year (and hoping you spend that pretty penny too). While I hope nothing but good cheer for all, sometimes this time of year brings forth heartbreaking reminders of those we’ve lost, failed resolutions, being stuck in careers, relationships, or unsatisfied life choices, or just simply feeling lonely. I’m here to remind you that even though these times may play havoc on your emotions, you’re still amazing and now, not just January 1, is the perfect time to practice some self-love.

I’ve come up with some practical ways for you to bring back that lovin’ feelin’, woah that lovin’ feelin’:

De-stress Monday’s

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There’s an account on Instagram I follow called @destressmonday and they also have a webpage here. Stereotypically, Monday’s are the “worst” but the account gives you little reminders to breathe, smile and think positively, not just on Mondays but for everyday of the week.

 

Start Saving Weekly to Give Yourself a Present/Trip

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Chanel Boutique in Paris

It may seem ironic to put away money when you know you probably should spend it towards the gifts for others this holiday, but how can you be your best for them if you don’t take care of yourself once in a while? Practicing some budgeting and rewarding yourself for making the means to grab something you really love or a getaway you’ve been craving for is not selfish, it’s making a goal, being diligent, and taking pride in your work. That’s an achievement!

 

Pay it Forward

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Be Kind from Momentum Jewelry

If you are feeling slightly guilty for thinking about yourself, which you SHOULDN’T, you can always give back to those in need or just do random acts of kindness. Smile and hold a door open for someone, buy the person’s coffee behind you, volunteer at the local food pantry, give to charity. There are literally millions of ways to help and be kind and in the long run, you’ll feel better because you brightened someone’s day!

 

Listen to Inspiring and Interesting Podcasts

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This American Life Podcast

I might get a little heavy here. Personally, losing 3 family members over the past 5 years actually makes the holidays suck, to be brutally honest. My mom was the champion of Christmas with the decorations, several little ceramic villages, lights, dinners, pies, and presents. She made the holidays feel lively, animated, and she made everyone around feel loved. This will be my 4th Christmas without her. It doesn’t get easier, but I know that by holding everything in could be disastrous. When I’m out on long runs, I like to listen to podcasts to pass the time, like This American Life with one episode in particular talking about a way to speak to loved ones who have passed and reconciling with others who are still here. The first act is discusses a documentary in Japan about the Wind Phone. It’s a non-working, old, rotary phone in a white phone booth box on a man’s garden that over 10,000 people have visited or used. It’s popularity began following the 2011 Tsunami and became a way for friends and family members, of those lost or taken from the disaster, to find a way to speak to their loved ones and grieve peacefully. I did end up watching the documentary here at this link, but be forewarned if you’re human, you’ll probably cry. The second act is about two elderly brothers, in their 80’s, who held a somewhat unknowingly grudge and hadn’t really spoken in about 20 years. The son of one helped to reconcile them, knowing time was not on their side and helped guide them to have an adult conversation about their grievances which helped to take some ‘weight’ off their shoulders. Both stories are healthy reminders to allow for time to think about your loved ones who are no longer here and to not wait to reach out to those who still matter to you while they are still here.

 

#12days12ways

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Brady the Cat, named after the GOAT Tom Brady

On a lighter note, because there are only 12 days left until Christmas there’s a hashtag going around called #12days12ways. It’s a reminder to reflect back and document, however you wish, 12 ways your life has changed positively over the past year.

Here are mine:

January: Got to celebrate the new year with my friend Liz, who visited us in France from NYC

February: Watching the Patriots win the SuperBowl

March: Spending a week in the Swiss Alps snowboarding

April: Completing my 9th Marathon in Rome, Italy and during that same week watch Julien crush his PR in the Paris Marathon

May: Completing the Luxembourg night half marathon, the hottest race I’ve ever done in my life

June: Growing my influence in the running, fitness and wellness community on Instagram and having my hard work, “little hobby”, get recognized with sponsorships and ambassadorships from companies like Under Armour and Nordstrom

July: Getting a new kitten and fur baby, Brady

August: Visiting my one of my oldest friends Dorothy, in Rotterdam, Netherlands while at the same time being lucky enough to have her on this side of the pond with me

September: Twofer, sneaking home on a super discount flight for Labor Day weekend to go on, one of my best friend’s, Katie’s sailboat and completing my 10th marathon and 3rd World Major in Berlin

October: Having my Dad visit for a couple weeks and then all of us flying back to the US for 3 weeks, 2 weddings and an east coast adventure

November: My birthday in Budapest, Hungary with my American bestie here in Metz, Carmen

December: Having Julien’s family embrace and welcome me into their home for Christmas this year

Here’s to ending the year on a positive note and feeling optimistic for what is to come!

 

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Wake up early, meditate, be thankful – Check

So last week I determined to get out of my funk. I decided to take 5 steps in doing so. Here’s a recap:

1. Wake up by 7am. 2. Eat right. 3. Communicate. 4. Meditate. 5. Journal Joyful moments

I said I would check in with you all this week if I indeed followed through with acting on my steps to less stress and more happiness. I’m proud to say I’ve done 3 out of 5.

I’m not perfect (I know, shocking) and I’m not a morning person. Getting up for 7am when I am not forced is just plain annoying. Is it an excuse that I’m probably lazy? Yes. But do I enjoy my moments in bed until 8 or 9 on non-workdays? Yes. Would I also enjoy getting up at 7am, working out, breakfast ate, and showered before 9? Sure. Am I so damn lucky (my Dmb fans, see what I did there?) that I get a choice? You betcha. I’m not disappointed that I couldn’t follow through for the week but I did get up for 7am 3 out of the 4 days so I’m not a lost cause. I figure if I was in misery and wasn’t out of bed before double digits then this should really be an area of focus, but so far so good. 

Communication was also minimal, however I did do my 30 minute daily French lessons everyday. I also hung out with Americans living in Metz (I’ve met 2 more!) for a Saturday picnic but I’ve lacked any attempt in actually speaking French. My only excuse is my irrational fear of sucking. You can’t get better if you don’t try, right? This is will be my long shot.

Eating right as I mentioned in my last blog was something I was currently doing but was trying to eliminate going out and drinking too much. With Saturday shopping for the week and Sunday meal prepping, this week so far has been a breeze. Breakfast, Lunch, dinner and two snacks are all prepped with only minutes needed to finalize the meals. Boom. I’ve also been well behaved with no weekday drinking and have decided to hold off on beer, at least until I go back to Boston on June 10.

I’ve been on point with learning how to meditate with the useful app for my iPhone called HeadSpace. You start with 10 minutes a day for 10 days. It’s a nice way to either start or wind down from the day. I will admit it was harder than I expected because my mind is so used to controlling me than me it. It teaches you how to breathe and absorb your external environment but not act on it. It is a tool to help you find mental equilibrium to keep in check our emotions. Plus there is a ton of research out there that supports this and discusses improvement in relationships, mood, memory, and attention span. 

Lastly, I did journal my 3 joyful moments in each day in my notes section of my iPhone. I was thinking about getting cute stationary but I don’t have a nightstand and why waste paper? I found this exercise to be helpful in remembering good points and bring you back from maybe thinking the day was really shitty or exhausting. 


Overall I like my new routine and going to try to stick with it. I’m happy and less stressed. Here’s hoping my extra beauty sleep and memory from meditation help me digest more French and gain confidence!

Bring on 2016

Life can bring a full range of emotions. I’ve missed my mom and my niece, Terri, for major life events and holidays. I’ve had close family friends pass away. I’ve experienced a loss in trust, fear for the world, friends diagnosed with cancer, and I uprooted what I thought was a stable and sufficient life.

But I’m a pretty optimistic person and 2015 you’ve been good to me. I was lucky enough to travel to Switzerland, Iceland, England, Scotland, France, Luxembourg, and a lot of the US. There’s been family graduations, weddings, and those getting engaged with a great-niece on the way. There’s been an amazing opportunity to explore and grow myself and my relationship. I’ve become educated on good food and how to make it and help others promote a healthy lifestyle. Damn!  I’m grateful to have the life I have and thankful for the opportunity to give back, even if I make just one person’s day.

My year in pictures:


  
Here are my New Year’s Resolutions:

Learn French

  • I know, this has been on my list since I moved to France. I’ll be the first to say, it’s tough. To find the right class, costs, accessibility, and the time of year. But in reality it’s just pure laziness. I have someone who translates for me and while that’s helped this month, I’m determined to understand the language and develop on my own because that’s the type of person I am. Plus, I just think it’s plain rude to not try to assimilate to my new culture.

Complete the Paris Marathon

  • I’m on day 29 of training for the Schneider Electric Paris Marathon on April 3, 2016. This will be my 8th marathon. I’m shooting for sub 4:30. Click on the link to subscribe to my Facebook page to follow my progress or follow my Instagram @thefitwanderluster

Lose the love chub

  • In my last post I desribed my passion for cheese and wine and my 35 year old body is laughing at me for thinking I still have my 25 year old metabolism. I don’t, so the effects of love will be battled against with my 2016 accountability group. For more info, message me on Facebook or email: kthib123@gmail.com

Help others, in whatever capacity

  • I’m your girl if you want motivation and inspiration on fitness, running, and clean eating tips. I’m also really good at muscle tension, comedic or entertainment relief to provide a small break from our sometimes scary world. I will donate, volunteer, clean the house for my working man. I’m open to the possibilities of how I can give back and strive to achieve to the best of my abilities in 2016.

My wish to you and yours is that everyone enjoyed their holiday season, and find peace, joy, and love this brand new year!

Organic Vs GMO 

You may have read recently on Facebook or other social media venues that you can tell how fruits and veggie are grown (conventionally, organically or with GMOs) based on the starting number on the little stickers that come on our products. Well, I decided to investigate. 

Let’s define:

Conventionally grown 

Agriculture term referring to method of growing edible plants. Grown using synthetic chemicals such as fertilizers and pesticides. Purpose is to mass produce, allows for out of season growing, and longer shelf life. 

GMO

Stands for genetically modified organisms.  These foods have been altered at the gene level and treated with antibiotics and hormones. 

Organic

These products have been grown free of synthetic chemicals, grown in nutrient rich soil and are not treated with pesticides or chemical fertilizers. 

When I first saw these pictures telling me to be a “Sticker Stickler”, I wanted to do my part, eat right and help educate others. Because let’s be honest not everything we read on the Internet is true! 

So I asked Snopes if the beginning numbers on the annoying stickers on our fruits and vegetables really mean what they say. The feelings were mixed and I was provided the IFPS website for more info. 

IFPS (International Federation for Produce Standards) is the organization responsible to administer PLU codes (the stickers on our produce). They have an informational 31 page User’s Guide that I will break down and paraphrase. 

They state, “PLU codes have been used in supermarkets since 1990 to make check-out and inventory control easier, faster and more accurate. They are used to identify bulk produce and tell the cashier how the product was grown and it’s size. PLU stands for price look-up and contains 4-5 digits. Once started in US and Canada, PLU codes have become international in Australia, UK, and Mexico to name a few. The use of IFPS PLU codes is voluntary.”

“The numbers range from 3000-4999, 93000-94999 and will expand to 83000-84000 in the future. The numbers 3000 or 4000 series signifies the item is conventionally grown. In the future, an additional range of numbers 83000-83999 will also be used for conventionally grown. The prefix “9” combined with 3000-4000 series signifies that the item is organic. In the future an additional range of numbers 84000-84999 will be used for organically grown items”.

Wait, I read on Facebook that “9” means organic, “8” means GMO!

The IFPS states something different, “The 4 digit IFPS PLU codes for produce are assigned randomly within the 3000-4000 series. The 4 digit codes are for conventionally grown produce. The prefix “9” would be placed in front of the 4 digit conventionally grown code for organic produce. In the future, the IFPS will begin assigning IFPS PLU codes utilizing the 83000 and 84000 series; however, unlike “9”, the leading digit “8” will have no significance”. 

So there you go, straight from the International Boards mouth. You can’t tell a GMO produce by its PLU number, the PLU isn’t mandatory and its main function is to associate sale price. So if you are going to be a sticker stickler, you’re safest practice is to buy “9” produce, go to your farmers market and ask growing processes, or start your own garden. 

Eat well friends!