grad school greatest self challenge- how it went


Remember that challenge I was all excited about?

The good news: I finished it!

The bad news: I did not reach ten thou. For either category. Whomp whomp.

2014-11-03 11.22.43


Yet somehow… I have both gotten my nails done and gotten a massage ūüôā Guess I decided to give myself A for effort (and also got some birthday money from my wonderful family!)

Anyway, each of the sheets for the challenge (you’ll recall that I could earn points for doing positive things for both my body and my mind) ended up scrawled on quite a bit. Some things I added (for example, flossing and wearing a nightguard- ah, my devotion to dental care is really helping me in the ongoing path of becoming my mother). Other things I increased how many points they gave me (not eating dessert for a day is HARD for me and I deserved the points!)

2014-11-03 11.23.17


Some things I learned:

Quantitative is easier than qualitative

Eat all meals without distraction? What did I mean? Of course, frantically shoving chocolate chips into my mouth while cramming for a biostatistics final is not the healthiest. But what about leisurely reading a magazine? And how about other people? Sure, talking to other people feels healthy (and takes me back to the wholesome family dinners of my youth, which everyone knows are good for healthy eating habits) but is having a super intense conversation- or perhaps even an argument- maladaptive for healthy eating?

On the other hand,¬†you other put on sunblock or you don’t! You either run a mile or you don’t! (Incidentally, I didn’t. Not once. In three months. Heh.)

Not eating sugar is bloody difficult for me.

I love sugar. I am a total sugar addict. I vacillate between swearing to myself that I won’t give a substance such power over me… to shrugging and saying my grandmother’s excellent mental health was probably due to regularly eating chocolates in bed.

I was very successful in tracking what I ate… but gradually became desensitized to it

So my friend and I started the writing down what we ate thing as a joint effort to cheer each other on in making healthy choices. And then she moved and started a new job and had family stress and yada yada she totally dropped out. So I was writing into a void. Add that to the fact that writing down what you eat over and over gradually makes it feel normal and boring and not worth thinking about and suddenly the mindfulness and perhaps even embarrassment that ought to come with eating an entire pack of Trader Joe’s cinnamon rolls in just a few days… just… doesn’t.

Since the challenge I’ve been off that particular wagon and it’s felt very freeing not to care, and at the moment I think I’d feel a bit neurotic if I were to start up again this minute. On the other hand, I wanted to cheer for myself on those days when I hit those recommended fruit and veg quantities, and that felt productive and helpful. So jury’s still out on that one.

2014-11-03 11.23.05

I was weirdly obsessed with plant care when I wrote these

Then it turned to fall and everything died. Uh.. I don’t know.

I scored huge number of mind points when I was on vacation. More than any other time.

Perhaps due evening activities? Fun story about me: default mode for me for the evenings involves vegging out in front of the computer to a combination of food blogs and Netflix. Which, yknow, hardly abnormal. The trick of it is when I’m stressed (about grad school or life or relationships or nothing at all) that turns into a crazy process where I don’t want to think about anything and go into a wormhole of Spice Girls documentaries staying up in my living room til three in the morning eating ice cream.

Anyway, on vacation I’m more¬†adventurous and more willing to spend money on more evening activities. Things like Savannah ghost tours, or going out for fun evening drinks. Or just strollin’ around. So the trick of it is to make real life feel more like vacation, which is sort of ALWAYS the trick of it, in pretty much every aspect of life, eh?

These are a lot more vague than the body goals.

I’ve never been a particularly mindful person. I’m an introvert and not much of a talker. I like escaping out of my own head into books/movies/blogs. I journaled regularly in college, but haven’t since (and reading my old journals is a wormhole in and of itself, since I was a little cray back in the day). Also, I don’t tend to call up a friend for support when I’m feeling low- just try to distract myself. This is something I’ve improved a little (I’ve taught myself the skill of calling someone and just asking how they’re doing- I find I don’t even need to talk about my shizz to feel the benefit of connecting with another person)

I’d like to come up with more things that could “earn me mind points”, not as a new challenge, but just as a way of cultivating life wellness. I was brainstorming this with some people, and letter writing came up, as did yoga (of which I’m trying to do more), arty things, stretching… Open to suggestions!

I’m terrified of personal finances

None of those goals are really financial. And a central mental stressor for me is finances. Not cause I’m in dire straights, because I’m not. Just cause I’m not making money, and that’s stressful. And I’m feeling that everything I spend is wasteful. But there’s something missing, called a BUDGET, where I can actually see meaningful information and effect meaningful change from following (or not following, from which I can then learn). So, I went to a personal finance seminar last week (score!) and have been tracking my spending on (score!). Will report back on my experience with that.

So, in summary, if there’s one thing I’ve learned from this?

Make it easy and desirable to make the healthy choice.

When I wanted to be better about taking my vitamins, you know what worked? Buying gummy vitamins!

When I wanted to drink 8 glasses of water a day, you know what worked? Buying an awesome water bottle!

2014-11-03 11.24.41


three cheers for fall break

Gosh I have almost published this post like 100 times and now it is quite late. Anyway. You know what was great? Fall break.

My classmate is SO INTIMIDATINGLY PERFECT. She’s a gorgeous, snazzily dressed, businesswoman turned culinary school grad turned nutrition and public health student. She loves the microbiome, made everyone sing me happy birthday, and just in case she wasn’t perfect enough she commiserated with me about our mutual fear that we didn’t deserve to be in the UNC School of Public Health.

Oh, THEN she made everyone homemade caramel apples to celebrate fall break. She’s the best!


Big fresh juicy apples, white chocolate, caramel, and peanuts… and a cute dark chocolate spider at the bottom! For 25 people! Can’t even imagine how long it took her.


Fall break was suuuuuch a welcome respite. Steve and I were both having killer weeks- he was on a deadline at work (as he seemingly always is these days, such a trooper) and I had a food and culture case study paper that was stressin’ me out. We had a lot of dinners like this:


(frozen pizzas, token vegetable on the side).

Blessedly, fall break finally arrived and I had my classmates over for a poker night (thanks to Sam’s instagram for this pic!). Lacking proper poker chips, I got dollar store fake money, fake bling, and very real and delicious gold wrapped candy. For snacks, just had carrots and dip and fancy cheese, and some sweet potato fries I baked later. Plus wine and cider, of course (people brought beer too).


Very fun, relaxing night (once we were done with Texas Hold ‘Em we switched to Cards Against Humanity, yeahhhhh!)


I turned some of the leftovers into a very “me” dish: tomato basil soup (that’d been too bland on its own), leftover sweet potato fries, leftover black bean salsa some friends had brought to poker night, and a fried egg on top.


On the next day of fall break I went to Diva Night at Fleet Feet Sports! My classmate works there and told us all about it. Great event:

– Proceeds of the evening’s sales went to the UNC Cancer Center

– There was a chocolate fountain

– There was a raffle every ten minutes

And I WON! These are the greatest socks I have ever owned. I actually generally love getting nice socks, since foot comfort is very important to me. These are exceptional- padded heels mean I can bounce around to my heart’s content at the gym.


I also got a fun new workout top. I’ve been trying to be legit about regularly going to yoga and (very un-yogi-ly) feel kind of like a slob when I arrive in the old tshirts I’ve been working out in since I was 18. As you can see, I am basically a model. And my room is REALLY clean.

IMG_1058 IMG_1054IMG_1051 IMG_1053

Since to me there is nothing more vacation-y than brunch, and because Steve loves Saxapahaw (a cute little town a little ways out from Chapel Hill) we headed there to dine al fresco at The Eddy.

I thought they had a super interesting brunch menu.



And I love when restaurants don’t just give lip service to buying from local producers but actually cite specific farms that produced specific items.


So the view was gorgey…


But then an INSANE BEE came along! After furiously buzzing around my face it landed my arm and WOULD NOT GET OFF. It stuck just the tip of its stinger in my arm- TWICE- and then the second time wouldn’t release no matter how hard I shook my arm, flung it around, blew on it, etc. Finally Steve had to¬†scrape it off my arm with a butter knife. Then it flew around drunkenly and rolled around on the ground and it was weird and creepy. Like Hitchcock’s The Birds, except The Bees. Especially since then MORE bees kept buzzing around my face. I’ll add that they showed no interest in Steve.

So ultimately we abandoned the pretty view in favor of arm safety (sheesh) and got our entree inside.

And by entrees, I mean three of them. Because when Steve goes out to brunch, he goes big.



Can you believe I’d lived in North Carolina for more than a year and hadn’t yet had chicken and waffles? It is a POPULAR dish. Steve remedied this, and WOW this was undoubtedly the highlight of the meal. The coating was SUPER thick and crunchy and flavorful. And the meat underneath was savory and juicy. And the maple butter on the side was BOSSY.


These eggs were a little intense. Even Steve said they were too rich. It was just a lotta cream cheese.


The salad was good. They didn’t stint on the pecans. We focused so much on the other items that I ended up taking much of this home, which was great. I reheated it in the oven so the pecans and brussels would get all toasty and that was pretty great.


And then, gluttons that we were, we didn’t want to waste any of that maple butter so we got an extra biscuit on the slide, SLATHERED it, and took it home, too.