speechless gratitude

Swagsters, yesterday was OUT OF CONTROL.

I got a wild hair yesterday morning and decided to send a progress photo to my trainers over at Tone It Up!, Karena and Katrina. I’ve been following their plan since March, and I love it. They taught me how to eat in a healthy way, in a way that I could be proud of and in a way that left me feeling sure I was properly nourished. They also inspired me to get off the cardio machine and start weight training. And last but not least, the community they have built has brought so many amazing people into my lives. I’ve honestly never been part of a community of women that is so supportive and inspiring in my entire life. I swear to you, nothing has been the same since I joined this plan. Every part of my life has become more enriched thanks to them. I highly recommend joining the team to any girl who wants to manifest a happy healthy life for herself!

Okay, off my soapbox. (Disclaimer: This is my own opinion of K&K and the Tone It Up! plan. They did not ask me to review or opine in anyway. I’m just that happy with these ladies. ❤ )

So the picture. I decided to send it not because of the physical side alone, but because I was proud enough to do it at all. Does that make sense? I didn’t want accolades for the physical changes, I was just so pleased to be willing to share. The physical changes mean nothing if I hadn’t grown strong enough mentally to appreciate them and my hard work.

So I sent them this picture via Twitter and Instagram:

woohoo!

And much to my surprise, and pleasure, my trainers tweeted me back!

*starstruck*

I was so excited that they were as proud of me as I was. What a blessing!

The rest of my morning was mostly spent responding to encouraging tweets from this wonderful community. I felt very lucky and blessed. The sun was shining down on me.

That afternoon I was off to work. Shortly after I got there, my phone started blowing up. I had texts and missed calls and facebook messages and tweets like crazy. What was going on?! I thought. When I read the first text I got, I was directed to this:

say whaaaaa????

My trainers had featured me on their facebook page! And they mentioned my blog!

I was floored. I wanted to run out of my job immediately and spend all night tweeting and facebooking my appreciation and gratitude.

And last night I looked at my blog statistics and saw this:

average day?

Oh you know… from 50-something views to over 800. NBD.

Now, the next day, I am still riding the high of gratitude. This journey would be nothing without the support of my trainers and this community. This is what makes it fulfilling. The encouragement, support, love and kindness from everyone that responded to these posts yesterday is why I keep doing what I’m doing. When I’m feeling impatient, unmotivated and down, I can always turn to this community and I will immediately be uplifted.

I wish words could even do justice to love that has filled my heart right now. The love that came from you all. The love that I’d like to give right back.

Thank you, thank you, thank you.

In the yoga world, there’s an exclamation that is used to celebrate something with lots of love: Jai!

That’s what my heart is screaming right now. Jai! Jai! Jai! Namaste! Jai!

Much love to all of you, my Swagsters. You’ve really given me new life, new purpose, new affirmation, and I owe you everything I have.

falling off the face of the earth

Swagsters, I hope you know I haven’t left you or forgotten you!

Life has been crazy. I just ended an 11 day streak of work. The first half it was just dandy but by the last few days, I had no energy except to work, come home, eat dinner and go to bed. I was feeling so overstimulated by the noise, people and sights around me. All I wanted after work was dead silence, not to move or even open my eyes. Yesterday I didn’t even have energy for a positive attitude, and worse yet… I didn’t want to even try to be positive. It was that bad.

Today was supposed to be day 12 of work, but I gave my shift up. Yesterday showed me that body, mind and spirit… I needed a break.

So I slept in this morning and soon I’ll be headed to Pilates class. It’s going to be a total ME day. I’ve got I restore my swag levels, ya heard?

I hope you can all forgive my absence, but know that I’ll be back tomorrow with a brand new post for you!

Lots of love and a thumbs up to greet the day!

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failure: you can do it!

Happy Monday, Swagsters!

It is a bright, sunshiney day and I’ve got a disposition to match it! Ever since I  woke up yesterday, I sort of feel like I’ve been floating around, smiling and okay with whatever comes my way.

Workout

This morning I woke up and did BodyRockTV’s Get Pumped on the Patio workout, followed by abs and finally, I rounded everything out with an 8 minute meditation. It’s all about balance! Exercise + meditation are honestly, for me, the most positive ways to start my day. Admittedly, my meditation has been sporadic, and I’ve been getting to it “when I can” so today I decided to just throw it on the end of my workouts, since I do both in the same room.

Right now I’m feeling so energetic, like I haven’t experienced in a long time. I think I was actually overwhelming Markus a bit when I took him to work this morning. He was still waking up and I was practically bouncing off the walls in the car. (If cars can have walls… you know what I mean.)

Budget Update

Okay Swagsters, I have been doing really well with my budget this week. It’s been great not going to the grocery store every day and spending money. It takes a lot of stress off my back to not feel like I’m constantly handing all my money over to various vendors. Wednesday is the first official day of my new budget system as well. I’m excited to see how things go!

Grocery day is also Wednesday, and I must admit, I’m going to be cutting it rather close. I definitely need to refine my planning a bit. I totally underestimated my veggie consumption. Don’t ask me how that happened.

Tonight I’m going to work up my meal plan for the next week and my groceries as well. This week I readjusted my budget to $50. Upon further reflection, I realized that $50 is a much more realistic number than $40, for me. And I don’t think that’s a terrible amount of money to spend at all for one week of clean, vegan eating! I ended up spending about $54 at the end, because I ran out of carrots yesterday and that’s simply not going to fly for me. Gotta have my carrots.

I caught myself thinking, “Dang, Jenny, you failed at your budget this week. You had to buy more. You didn’t do very well.” Well I let that thought go for about 5 seconds before I stopped it and said, “Hey there, Negative Voice. I’ve never done this before. I’m practicing and it’s probably going to take a few weeks to adjust. So, why don’t you just cut me some slack, okay? I’m trying, and that’s the most important thing.” (And then, in my mind, I stuck my tongue out at Negative Voice, but that’s not very mature, so let’s gloss over that fact, yeah?)

Do you ever do that to yourself? You try something new and then immediately adopt this attitude that you should be brilliant and perfect at it and shouldn’t have to need even an inch of flexibility with it because you are you and you don’t fail (where “don’t” = “are not allowed to”). I catch myself in this trap so often. It’s one of those things that goes along with having an eating disordered past. I’m not allowed to fail. Everyone else is free to do so, and I won’t even judge them for it. “No one’s perfect!” I’ll say with lots of compassion. But then I’ll turn to myself and say, “How dare you fail! That’s not acceptable! You specifically wrote on your blog what your budget was and what will they say when they see you went over?!”

What an overwhelming way to speak to myself! I’ve let it go on too long, and my goal this week is to really work on being compassionate towards myself. I work on taking power away from my negative voice, but a lot of times it’s not very compassionate. It’s almost like I roll my mind’s eye at myself and say, “Come off it, Jenny! Be positive for a change! Stop thinking this way! STOP BEING MEAN TO YOURSELF, YA BIG DUMMY.”

Oh right, because that’s toooootally being nice to me.

Yesterday I worked on readjusting my approach. When I spoke back to my negative voice, this time, I tried it differently. I brought some patience into the mix. I brought some compassion to the table. And it makes a HUGE difference. I relaxed a lot quicker when I spoke back with love instead of anger. I’m killing the Negative Voice with kindness.

Weekly Goal

So that brings me right to my personal goal for the week: stay aware, practice mindfulness and be compassionate towards myself. I do not have to be perfect and I do not have to be a harsh critic of myself. I will strive to be gentle and nurturing with myself. Because I deserve my own love.

Can you relate to my perfectionism? What do you do to combat it? 

Do you have any personal goals for yourself this week? 

How do you practice compassion towards yourself?

I have got to jet, Swagsters! Work is on the docket today and I’m at risk of running late! Have a great Monday!

living simply

In another lifetime, (at least it feels like another lifetime) I lived in a tiny studio apartment in historic Henderson, KY. It was a little green house, and my friend and I lived in the upstairs unit.

our little green house

We lived on a quiet little street that lead you directly to the river and the downtown area. We had 2 kitties, Lily and Harry. We shopped at the world’s tiniest farmer’s market, where we were able to only buy cucumbers, various forms of squash, tomatoes and the occasional red pepper. Strangers smiled, waved and inquired after your well-being. We biked or walked all over our little town. We had a very small shared living space that consisted of a kitchen table, 2 big fluffy chairs, a radio and just enough space to lay down our yoga mats. Our apartment was so small, our clothes closets were actually in the shared living space. We didn’t even have a TV. Most days, if there was sound coming from our wide open apartment windows, it was NPR over the radio. It was so quiet. So peaceful. So simple.

Why am I taking you on a tour of an apartment I lived in 3 years ago?

Admittedly, I am feeling incredibly nostalgic lately. I’m realizing that there is a big part of me that misses my Old Kentucky Home (if you’re from KY, you’ll get that reference). I miss the southern hospitality. But above all, I miss the simplicity of the way my roommate and I lived. It’s not that life was simple, it’s just that whenever we returned to our apartment, it welcomed us with simplicity. It was as though the apartment itself was saying, “Shhhh. You’re home now. Relax. Everything is okay.”

Before I get in over my head, let’s all agree that I’m having an existential crisis right now. Many days in a row I have been asking myself “Who am I, really?” Am I Kentucky Jenny? Am I Connecticut Jenny? Is there a Constant Jenny that links the two together? How does a person know when they are being their Authentic Self compared to when they are being the Adapted Self?

I know right?! I overwhelm myself sometimes.

After much meditation, lots of yoga, lots of looking inward, and a tear or three or four, I feel like I might finally be getting somewhere. I’m getting to a little green house in Henderson, KY. I’m getting to a place that welcomes me Home and says, “Be simple. Live simply.”

I can’t actually go back to Henderson. I can’t go back to that apartment. I can’t go back to the life I had there. But I can let simple be the essence of Constant Jenny.

This is probably an anticlimactic post because I don’t have a game plan. I can’t say to you, “These are the changes I am implementing.” I could say, “I haven’t watched TV in 3 days.” But that’s not the point. This is the kind of thing that happens organically and isn’t exactly tangible. What I can say is that this morning, for the first time since I moved to Connecticut, I feel like Me, capital M-me. It’s a feeling that words can’t do justice.

It feels simple. It feels good. It feels like home beyond geographical restraints.

Do you do anything that helps you remember who you really are? Meditate, pray, journal, etc?
Have you ever asked yourself these questions?  
What are your thoughts on living authentically?

I realize I’m not asking simple questions today, swagsters. But I invite you to explore this with me. We look outside of ourselves for answers more often than not, when sometimes, the answer is within us all along, if we’re just willing to go inside and listen.

ION and Om Street Yoga

Stay-cation is only just started and it’s already more amazing than I could’ve asked for.

Caitlin, Heather and I parted ways a little while ago, and now I’ve got about 2 hours til Holly’s train arrives. Instead of going to full into detail, I’m going to give you some pictures of the fun I’ve had in the past 24 hours.

Dinner at It’s Only Natural

Chalkboard tables are the best!

passing the time while we wait for dinner

Cait’s Katy Perry charade.

side salad with lemon tahini dressing.

dinner before: “cheese”burger and sweet potato fries

dinner after: it never stood a chance

Om Yoga in the Streets and breakfast at Hartford Baking Company

sangha, spreading compassionate practice

brought my protein pudding with me and enjoyed a delicious cup o’ joe

Heather, Cait and I just chatted our little hearts out. I have to say that I am really feeling a deep sense of gratitude right now. I have some very amazing women in my life. Our conversations always lead me to discovering something new about myself. People that help you know yourself on a deeper level are people you simply must keep around in your life.

Forgive me if I’m short and sporadic this weekend, I will try to check in as much as I can. However, these are the moments I live for, these are the days that all my practice of being healthy, strong and happy get to be rewarded. This is the stuff of life, and I have every intention of being there for it.

pride for days

Hey hey! We’ve made it to Thursday!

Last night I worked and it was wayyyy busier than I thought it would be. But that meant more $$$ than I was expecting so that was a total bonus. After work, I went to Cuvee, a martini lounge around the corner from my work. It was my friend’s birthday, and I wanted to make sure I popped in to say hi. I sipped on water…

sober fun is still fun!

…a most welcome drink considering it was ridiculously muggy and humid last night, and socialized with my friends until about midnight, when Markus and I headed home.

I was exhausted!  I’m almost NEVER up that late. I think I might have actually fallen asleep before my head hit my pillow last night. Since it was such a late night, I allowed myself a lie-in this morning. I woke up close to 8:30 and decided to head straight to the coffee maker instead of to my workout room. In general, I prefer working out right when I wake up, but I knew I had time today, and it’s just another way of listening to the body when it says, “ummmm can we hold off for a couple hours, please?”

When I did make it to my workout, I was excited to get moving. Since yesterday was yoga day, that meant today was back to BodyRocking! I warmed up with this Lite workout, before hitting up this bad boy: Whistle Workout. This ended up being one of those workouts that made me want to vomit, cry, quit, runaway and never come back. But because I’m a Swagster, and we are such badmamajamas, I finished it and I felt like a champion!

right after bodyrocking… you can still see the fear of death in my eyes. 😉

sweaty shoulder blade stains after lying and panting and recovering

The rest of my day is a mixture of noms and cleaning. I’ve never been so excited to clean my apartment. All the fun visits from friends happening this weekend has me riding an anticipatory high!

After my workout and my first round of cleaning, I needed lunch!

leftovers!

I finished off the last of my refried beans with some guacamole over greens and sweet potato frites on the side. So yummy and satisfying! I’m so glad the heat wave finally broke! My body thrives on warm food and it felt good to put some in my belly!

Mid-week updates!

Let’s check-in with each other, swagsters! How are you doing this week? Have you been keeping a list of reasons you’re proud of yourself? I know it can be awkward at first if you aren’t used to it, but it’s such good practice! If you’re having trouble with this at all, allow me to share some of the things I’ve applauded myself for this week:

1. I make yummy recipes that people appreciate/want to try/have tried and love.
2. I laugh at myself for being klutzy instead of telling myself I suck.
3. I asked for what I wanted from my doctor instead of standing by while she made choices for me.
4. Even if I get off to a rough start at work, this week I’ve been able to turn my attitude around.
5. I went out with friends and stayed sober, proving to myself I am in control of my actions and I can have fun without drinking.
6. I listened to my body and adjusted my workouts appropriately.

Easy, peasy! It can be a big deal or a little deal, but all that matters is you take a moment to say, “Job well done, Self!”

Feel free to share with me in the comments any of your goals, even if it feels awkward. This is the judgement-free zone, Swagsters and if YOU’RE proud, I’M proud.

I’ve gotta wrap it up now, some more cleaning to do, laundry, my daily meditation, maybe a nap and then off to work for the night! See you tomorrow!

break down and build up

Admittedly, last week was a busy one for me, but I’m happy to finally have the time and the headspace to be back at writing here on Tofu Swag. I missed my Swagsters!

Between a fun day in the Berkshires, an outdoor concert with a great friend and celebrating Bastille Day with a fellow Francophile/Francophone, last week included a lot of fun times.

There was also a lot of  tough stuff happening last week. The fact is, friends, that things aren’t always perfect. Life isn’t always willing to just hand you what it is you want. Relationships aren’t always easy, coping isn’t always ones greatest skill and sometimes you drop your awareness for a split second. And that might be all it takes.

That’s the thing about recovery. You get kinda good at it. You might even be willing to say you’re a recovery champion (and you ARE!). But sometimes, as good as you get, life throws a curve ball that you weren’t expecting, and in your moment of confusion as to what just happened… you drop your awareness. And one part about eating disorder and anxiety disorder is that it may only take that passing moment for the disorder to find it’s opening and try to get you back.

I don’t want to go into details, that’s not really necessary, but suffice it to say that this weekend was about closing up the tiny opening that there was, and engaging in the work it takes to say NO to disordered thinking.

Things weren’t perfect but what matters is what I have taken away from it all. I could say to myself, “Jenny, you failed this weekend. You did things you shouldn’t have done. You acted in ways you shouldn’t have acted.” I could continue to punish myself.

But I refuse.

Because that is the disorder. That is not me.

Instead, I decided yesterday to be proud of myself. (You hear that, negative voice?! PROUD.)

I’m proud because I stopped disordered thinking and behavior in it’s tracks. I’m proud because I recognized that sometimes the voice of disorder is louder, but it is NEVER stronger than me. I’m proud because instead of telling myself I’m weak or that I failed, I smiled at the opportunity that has been given to me to make the necessary changes to flourish and grow. I’m proud because in the middle of all the darkness, there is always still my light and I refuse to let it be put out.

Yesterday I renewed my vow to make my life mine. I opened myself up, once more, to the good that life has to offer. This is my only life and not a second of it will ever be stolen by despair. Today I woke up feeling more hopeful than I had in a while. I was ready to smile and greet the day.

I woke up with energy I hadn’t had in days. Jenny was back. I destroyed a workout that reminded me of my inner strength and perseverance. I went to the grocery store, excited and feeling creative once again.  I discovered the courage to be honest with you all about my imperfections. I’m not outing my weaknesses, I’m applauding my strengths.

Today I was also finally able to register for classes! Yes, friends, you heard it here first (or second, because I said it on twitter earlier. hehe) I’m going back to school in the fall. I’m getting a second degree and the ball is now rolling. Changes are on the horizon and I’m walking towards the life I know I can create for myself… the life I know I deserve.

I’d like to invite you all, right now, wherever you are to repeat this mantra: I WILL MAKE MY LIFE MINE.

Maybe you struggle in the same way I do, and maybe you don’t. But it never hurts to remind ourselves that we are ultimately the master’s of our destinies. We are given opportunities (from whomever or whatever you want to call it. I say the Universe, but maybe to you it’s God or Mother Nature, or Allah etc…), but it is up to us to keep our hearts, eyes, minds open to them. It is up to us to seize them.

My swag-building goal for this week is to work on my openness and my awareness. I’m going to do the following 3 things to work on that:

1. I am going to meditate every day for a minimum of 5 minutes.
2. Every night I will write down 3 things I am proud of myself for doing during the day.
3. Every morning when I wake up, I will say to myself the following: Today I will do practice awareness. I will engage in that which serves me goodness. Today I will make my life mine.

I don’t want to go to deeply into spirituality on this blog, but allow me this one thing… I don’t care what you follow or believe, but I will say this about spirituality: It saves. So this week, I’m going to tap back into my own brand of spirituality and find my way Home.

What will you do this week to build yourselves up, Swagsters? Maybe it’s more spiritual, or maybe you have some other goals? But I challenge you this week to do things that remind you how strong you are as a person and how capable you are of creating the life you deserve! I welcome comments and tweets and if you’d prefer a private conversation, I’d welcome emails as well (DM me on twitter first).

Happy Monday! It’s a great day for a fresh start!