Posted in Lifestyle

A New Challenge

This is my own personal rendition of “new year, new me,” but on a smaller, more practical scale.

When they say “school is back in session” they should actually say “stress, sleep deprivation, and self-doubt are back in session.” This statement might not hold true for all, or many, but it holds true for me.

Thirteen credit hours is nothing I can’t handle. I am actually rather excited over my class load this semester. Quite frankly, I have never struggled with my grades or any of my classes. There are so many more elements to the “best four years of your life” that can impact your college experience thus turning it into “the most mediocre four years of your life.”

A new concept that I am attempting to grasp is that I am in control of those elements. I challenge all of my friends and family to take control of these elements of their life in the near future as well.

I have spent the past couple of years allowing every element of my life to weigh down on my shoulders. Instead of making changes in my life I attempted to buck up and bear the weight, and I’m seeing now how foolish I was.

If there is one thing that I want my readers to take away is that you are in control of your own happiness. This is obviously easier said than done, but here are few ways I plan to grab life by the you-know-whats.

Work your ass off but know when you’re working too much. Unfortunately, we need money to survive. Food costs money, fun costs money, and even simply residing in a home costs money. So you’re living paycheck to paycheck and you absolutely can’t cut back on hours at work, what do you do? Trust me when I say that I feel your pain. If your part-time job, or full-time job is the element that is dragging you down YOU can make a change. There are so many employment opportunities available today that are waiting to be pursued. If your desk job is driving you crazy, look into serving. If your retail job is too physically demanding, look for an office job. A lot of individuals are afraid to make a career change because that involves interviews, training, and a brand new set of coworkers and managers. A change of environment can work miracles on your attitude, and the mastering of a new craft is definitely more rewarding than dragging yourself into the front door of a job that you despise.

With what free time you have surround yourself with people who will make you better. Many of us waste a ridiculous amount of time on friendships and relationships that have absolutely no benefit. The hard part about this is that in order to determine the importance of a relationship or friendship we must first form a connection with that person. If the connection isn’t there, go no further. This is a red flag that your time is going to be wasted. So, how do you end a relationship that suddenly lost its benefit? You don’t have to end that friendship whatsoever. I encourage you to spend less time with friends who bring little-to-nothing to the table, and much more time with the friends who offer something to you. Allow me to explain that the “benefits” that I speak of can take many forms. Surround yourself with people who offer emotional support, a positive energy, selflessness, and other qualities that you would consider positive in a friend.

Selfishness is an ugly quality to have, but it is okay to focus on yourself from time to time. Work, school, relationships, physical health, etc. are all very important aspects of life. Mental health does not trump these aspects, but if it is not controlled it can handicap all other aspects of your life. If you lose focus of yourself and your happiness your work will become sloppy, your grades might drop, and friendships may fizzle away. A little patience mixed with understanding friends, family, and superiors allows you to focus on yourself when the time is needed. Whether that be taking an evening off to spend time with your significant other, or spending the weekend in because you are exhausted inside and/or out, we all have different methods of de-stressing. My favorite “personal day” consists of sleeping in, cleaning and organizing my apartment, and spending time with someone I love (disclaimer: sometimes that person is myself).

Challenge yourself to focus on yourself, surround yourself with great people, and know your limits when it comes to work. 2017 got off to a rocky start, but there’s no reason that the last three months can’t go silky smooth!

 

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Posted in Uncategorized

Back to my Roots

I have been a dancer since the age of four. I lived, ate, and breathed dance as a child. If you ever would’ve told young, naive Alyssa that she would even consider giving up dancing she would look at you like you were clinically insane. Passion is passion. I would’ve never let go of my love for dance.

It has been over a year since I have taken the stage. My regret builds deeper and deeper by the day. How could I have let go of something that brought me so much joy? The answer to that question is simple. I lost sight of my roots. I lost sight of the things that make me, me.

Dance being the biggest part of me I reflect on the last year and how I survived with out my physical, emotional, and creative outlet. I then realize quickly that I barely survived at all emotionally and creatively. Physically I was doing well due to a vigorous exercise routine (one of which I wouldn’t have needed to implement if I would’ve kept dancing), but emotionally and creatively I was in a lot of pain.

Imagine wanting to scream at the top of your lungs, but having a volume knob that won’t let you go any louder than an inside voice. I would dance in my car, bedroom, kitchen, etc., but nothing compares to the pure bliss of moving across a smooth, blackened stage.

I am at my weakest physical and emotional state right now and I can’t help but attribute that to my lack of dance over the last several months. I am the only once who can fix this. As I gaze at my class schedule for this semester I can’t help but smile when I see the letters “DANCE” before my course numbers.

Never again do I want to feel the toll of standing still on my body. Out of all things I can do with myself, I hope that I always choose to dance.

Auditions are only a few weeks away. Join me as a travel back to my roots this semester to find my lost dancing soul.

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized

A Reflection

As I sit with my laptop open in front of me, a can of ginger-ale on my nightstand, my cat curled up at my feet and absolutely no idea what to make of what the last few weeks of my life, I begin to type.

I’ve never written a reflection on my own life, only on books, movies, and works of art. I guess my experiences recently have been similar to a piece of art; sometimes hard to comprehend.  To reflect on my entire twenty years would be absurd, considering that most of those years are long gone from my memory.

The recent past is what I am most concerned about.

At the age of twenty it is hard to hear from a doctor that you mental illness is what is causing your body to do some pretty horrific things. A year ago I was diagnosed with anxiety and depression. I was immediately placed on the “right” medication. I (rightfully) figured that I was on the road to recovery. Boy, could I have been more wrong?

Fast forward through a year of ridiculously high stress levels, demanding positions, excessive amounts of exercise, not enough sleep, and every other burden I placed on myself. We are now in the summer of 2017.

There are a lot of details about this summer that I will leave out for readers’ sake. Just know that most guys can act pretty harshly toward women that they “care” about. Besides the couple of numb-skull lads that knocked me down a few pegs my summer was off to an amazing start. I had returned to my summer job, my best friend had just moved in with me, and I was ready to take on the summer.

May 24th, 2017 was the first night that I got sick. It was an ugly site in the back alley of some bar in downtown St. Charles. I figured I had had too many sugary drinks, or maybe even food poisoning. I would later discover just how wrong I was.

Not thinking anything of this hiccup in my summer I continued down my path. A week later my symptoms presented themselves after a day at the pool. My symptoms seemed to come back randomly following this, and I dealt with my illness the best way I knew how. I drank fluids, rested, and made sure to take my medications. That wasn’t enough.

A couple weeks later after driving eight hours to Ohio to see Twenty One Pilots in their hometown tour my stomach decided to wreak havoc on my body. Long story short, after 24 hours of heaving up any substance in my stomach I was whisked away to the emergency room via ambulance. How could I have let myself get this sick? Dehydrated, scared, and alone I was admitted into the hospital for severe dehydration caused by vomiting. This wasn’t the end of my fight, in fact, it was just the beginning.

I was treated to the point where I could stomach the car ride back to Illinois, and away I went. All was well until I was met at home by the same symptoms that had been haunting me for the entire weekend prior. I couldn’t believe that the doctors didn’t fix what had happened to me.

Fast forward through two more emergency room visits over the course of a month. I am currently on four prescription medications to prevent my mental illness from attacking my stomach once again. Anxiety medication, nausea medication, and acid reducers are now a part of my bodies permanent chemistry. I have been “puke free” for four days now, and my mind is beginning to clear.

What was it about this last trip to the hospital that suddenly stopped my symptoms? This is what scares me so much. My mind is so powerful that it can trick my body into getting sick, but it is also powerful enough to completely stop my physical illness in its tracks. What is so hard about this entire situation is that there is virtually nothing any doctor can do for me, because they aren’t in my brain.

I AM IN CONTROL OF MY ILLNESS AND IT DRIVES ME INSANE. How am I supposed to make sure I don’t vomit when all I can think about is vomiting?

So, where do I go from here? I guess I’ll just keep taking my medicine, treating my body well, and basically snorting essential oils to suppress my nausea.

One thing that I want to leave you with is this: Mental illnesses are still illnesses. If you had diabetes you wouldn’t let it go untreated, so whats the difference with anxiety and/or depression? Do not neglect your mind as it is just as important as your body.

Here’s to a healthy summer’s end, a prosperous semester, and many more blogs to come.

Posted in Lifestyle, Uncategorized

Welcome to Adulthood

Here is a word of advice: Don’t wish away your childhood, because before you know it it will be over.

I can remember being in high school wishing that I could just live on my own. I was under the impression that my so-called problems would just disappear upon leaving my dinky little hometown. Boy, was I wrong.

At the time living with my mom, attending high school five days a week, and working the minimum amount of hours at a part-time job was just complete torture. My life was so difficult. I just wanted to be an adult.

Fast forward to college. As I sit at the desk of one of my two part time jobs preparing for one of my three midterms this week (obviously procrastinating) after a day full of classes and a feud with my roommate I can’t help but wish I was curled up on my mom’s couch. That is exactly what I would be doing on a Monday evening back in the day.

Back in those days people would tell me to cherish being young, because life would only get harder. I never listened. How could complete freedom and free reign on a college campus be worse than high school? I was so naive.

I wish I could explain to my high school self that I needed structure and rules. I needed these things in order to be able to discipline myself when I didn’t have someone there to do so. Its hard to tell yourself to be responsible, but because my mother raised me right I can understand how important it is to be home by 11:00 on a school night. In fact, some days I still wish my mom was there to ask me where I was every night. Maybe then I wouldn’t have gotten myself into some of the situations that I have.

When I was in high school I would’ve never imagined that the mere sight of my bank account balance would be enough to bring me to tears. When you still have bills to pay and groceries to buy, but only have $100 to your name you start to panic. When I had $100 in high school I blew it all online shopping then walked to the kitchen for a snack to find fully-stocked cabinets with groceries that my mom provided.

Freedom isn’t all that it has cracked up to be. When you become an adult you are fighting your own battles. You are on your own. Sadly I am only twenty which means the horror story is only beginning.

Posted in Adventures

Unforgettable

For years upon years I have been wanting to experience what I experienced this past weekend.

My best friend and I waited outside of the United Center in Chicago for 12 hours to see the band that saved both of our lives, Twenty One Pilots. Twelve hours doesn’t compare to the couple of days that some people spent, but for our first time twelve hours was impressive.

It wasn’t the wait that made the experience so unique. It was the pure, raw emotion that I felt standing in the third row of the enormous pit. I was just feet away from the two people who lead me through bad times, good times, pain, suffering, happiness…

The minute they took the stage my heart started pounding. They were right there. I grabbed my best friends arm for stability, but also because I couldn’t believe my eyes.

The pure emotion that overcame my body during this experience was so overwhelming. I smiled, I laughed, I cried, I swooned (who wouldn’t?), and I raged to a majority of their songs.

Not only was I hearing my absolute favorite band live, but I was just feet away from two of the most inspirational people that have ever touched my life. These two men have no idea what impact they have made on me and my best friend’s life, but we will forever be grateful for the experience that they provided us this past weekend.

We can’t wait to see our boys again. Until next time, stay alive.

|-/

 

Posted in Lifestyle

Steps to a Healthier Life

Since my last blog post I have gotten requests to share some tips and tricks that have helped for me.

I do believe that everyone’s bodies are different and that there isn’t a universal path to healthiness. I would like to share the things that I do on a daily (sometimes semi-daily) basis to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

My Fitness Pal

I am an avid user of the “My Fitness Pal.” After first downloading this app I urge you to only focus on your calorie intake and calories burned. Balancing this out can become a science all in itself.

Not everyone in the world is a nutritionist or a trainer, but this app can make you feel like you at least have a little bit of knowledge about what you’re putting into your body.

Once I mastered my calorie intake was when I started focusing on my macros, and nutrition as a whole. I don’t want to dive into macros because they are a very complex aspect of a diet. For more information on counting calories and managing macros view this article.

Daily Exercise

The words “daily exercise” may make you cringe, but bare with me.

I’m not telling you that you need to go to the gym every single day, because that would be quite hypocritical of me. It is important to get your blood pumping, or to break a sweat every single day.

According to Mayo Clinic most healthy adults should “get at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity a week, or a combination of moderate and vigorous activity.” If you do the math (and allow yourself a cheat day) that is 25 minutes a day. Doesn’t that seem easy?

I personally use the fitness center at my University. Most people who are invested in fitness have memberships at fitness clubs and gyms. If you are just now starting your fitness journey and you aren’t comfortable with working out around a bunch of other people I suggest using at-home videos created by fitness professionals. There are plenty of them for free on Youtube.

If you are already comfortable with using a fitness club or gym it is important to do your research on what workouts will benefit what parts of your body. Time and time again I see people wasting their time in the gym because they are doing workouts incorrectly. Don’t be that guy!

Peaceful Sleep

If you come home from work, throw on your pajamas, and plop into your bed you may experience more mediocre sleep than if you followed a few quick and easy steps.

I use and strongly suggest using  a Himalayan salt lamp in your bedroom. Himalayan salt lamps have a plethora of benefits. One of my favorites being that they can reduce stress, which creates a much more peaceful sleeping environment. To see all of the benefits of Himalayan salt lamps visit this site.

I also suggest meditation. I am a fan of guided meditations which can be found on Spotify and Youtube. You can easily meditate on your own by practicing different breathing exercises. While meditating before going to sleep get in a comfortable position. The goal of meditation before bed is to naturally push your body toward sleep, and to free your mind of the “I can’t sleep” feeling that we all get before bed. Ten-twenty minutes of meditation will make a world of difference.

If you have trouble falling asleep I have one word for you: Cardio. Cardio is the reason that I sleep like a baby every single night. If you end your day with 15-20 minutes of an intense cardio session you will sleep like a baby (and burn calories while doing so).

My final tip, which is one that I still struggle with to this day is: Do not eat before you go to bed. Going to bed with a belly full of food is never good. Not only are you effecting your body, but you will sleep like crap. My personal goal is to not eat after 7:00 PM. Set a goal that works for you!

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. Good diet, exercise, and sleep is the key to living a healthier life.

Even better… there’s no catch!

Posted in Lifestyle

A New Journey with a New Mentality

We’ve all read articles upon articles containing tips on how to live a healthier, happier life. I’ve read the articles, considered practicing what I read, and put my knew acquired knowledge by the wayside until it was soon forgotten.

The steps of an article that tells you to eat healthier, do more exercise, get more sleep, etc. are written by the people that those steps worked for.

Diet, exercise, and sleep have been deemed the keys to a healthy, happy life for ages. Simple enough. If I eat well, exercise moderately, and sleep well every night I’m going to be happy. So whats the catch?

There is no catch. Unfortunately, the health and happiness gurus are right. Your entire body will be happier and healthier if you just treat your body right.

I have recently taken on a lifestyle of eating healthier, exercising more, and sleeping much better. The results have truly amazed me.

When switching from a nearly-crap diet to a healthy diet I slipped up a lot. My true love for ice-cream, cookies, chips, soda, etc. were no match for my desire to be healthier. I wasn’t “fat” by any means, so why should I care? I found myself thinking this as I ate an entire pack of Chips Ahoy! cookies.

It wasn’t until I started spending an hour or so at the gym two-three times a week that I started to see a change in my body. Why? Simply because I wasn’t eating as well as I should. A mediocre diet paired with absolutely no exercise is not going to get you the results that you want.

For awhile I was happy with what I saw, but I wanted to see more change. I pushed myself to make healthier choices while grocery shopping (and I started to save money, weird how that works). I also pushed myself to go to the gym for at least an hour every single day.

Disclaimer: I believe that cheat days are essential, so if you ever saw me on a Sunday I was probably stuffing my face and you would not see me anywhere near the gym.

I have been practicing this lifestyle for a little over a month, and the results that I am seeing are amazing.

Through cleaning up my diet and working my a** off at the gym I have improved my body and more importantly, my mind. I have been thinking clearer, working harder and I haven’t stressed about nearly as much as I have in the past.

Each and every one of these things creates a domino effect. When you start to exercise more you strive to eat healthier, when you eat healthier your body begins to act more naturally, and in turn your natural sleep schedule will fall into place (not to mention the fact that cardio just wears you out).

Now, I understand that most people who are trying to embark on this same journey may be looking for physical results. I promise that if you focus on how it effects you internally, the external changes will become even more noticeable in the long run.

So don’t force yourself into a mentality that you aren’t used to. Becoming healthier is a journey. Take it slow, try new things, and see what works for you. Everyone’s mind and body are wired differently.