Picking Up The Pieces

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I’m not even sure how to begin this or how it will ultimately turn out. What I do know is that life happens and I have an urge to write about it, even if it’s messy, unorganized, and not pretty. Kinda like me sometimes.

These past few months I would describe my life as “alright”. Nothing has gone completely terribly wrong, and I’ve had more good days than bad. Part of me accepts this with gratitude and part of me desires to change that, not allowing myself to live a life of mediocracy.

It’s easy for me to say that I long to do that, when in reality pushing myself to step outside of these boundaries of “fine” is the difficult part. This stage of “alright” has found me in a rut. I’ve sat down to write a blog post on more than one occasion, only to find myself lacking any sort of inspiration. I feel like my best writing has come from times of extreme highs or lows.

I almost posted a Facebook status yesterday asking for some sort of direction, wondering what topic it is that you, the one reading this right now, would actually want to take your time to read about. For some reason, I never posted that status, but then life happened and that’s what has brought us here.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the difference in being lonely and being alone. I’ve never really felt myself in long periods of time feeling lonely. As someone told me the other day—I was a “late bloomer” (hahah, I was a little offended but hey, it is what it is). I really hope I have yet to actually “bloom” and that I never fully make it there. I’d rather always work towards growing to be stronger and more beautiful than at some point starting to wilt.

I say this because since no boy in high school ever even batted an eye at me, I grew into an individual who thrives off of strong friendships and alone time. Not to say you cannot feel alone while you’re in a romantic relationship, but I do know people who find themselves in extreme loneliness after they have engulfed themselves into a relationship that doesn’t work out. They fail to maintain their individuality because they are so caught up in the fairytale of romance when things are going well. Your relationships should enhance your life, not define it.

Don’t get me wrong, I am completely a hopeless romantic and I’ve definitely felt lonely after a love interest fizzled away for whatever reason. Finding yourself missing spending time with someone, the person as a whole, or maybe the person who you thought they were. The last one is the worst in my eyes. What I didn’t do was allow myself to sulk in this feeling. I felt it for some time, accepted the way things were, and then remembered who I was before them. Luckily, I’ve never lost myself for too long.

I have a point, I think. Lately, I have experienced loneliness, but it has nothing to do with any boy. I’m back in my hometown after 4 years away, finding this city feeling like a completely new place than what my childhood consisted of. My strong support system is spread out around different places and I’ve been reminded that friends can break your heart too. It’s this heartbreak that has made me feel lonelier than ever before and one that is hard to move on from.

I’ve come to realize that I gravitate towards broken people. Before you get offended because you think maybe I’m talking about you, let me remind you that we are all broken. Including me. I find this to be comforting and I hope you do too. What I’ve also realized is that I find myself longing to “fix” these broken people. Ultimately, we’ll always be a little bit broken but you can’t pick up my pieces and I can’t pick up yours. I hope you find the strength that I know you have to do this on your own.

I’m doing my best and I like to think that everyone is. I’m working through this time knowing that there will always be disappointments and probably more heartbreaks down the line. I’m embracing this loneliness and using it to my advantage, trying to strengthen who I am and learn more about myself. Our imperfections are what makes us who we are, disappointments make us stronger, and life is always teaching us, even when we choose not to listen. Right now, my ears are perked.

 

Love,

Aby

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Late Night Shower Thoughts

I feel like the majority of my blog posts start at low points. A time where I am deep in thought or emotion, wanting some way to release whatever it is that I may be dealing with—this blog post isn’t like that. 5 minutes ago, I was in the shower.

If I’m being completely honest, this didn’t just come out of thin air. Not at a low point, but something that triggered my mind into what I want to write about. Today was a long day at work, I’m breaking out, my hair was dirty, and all I wanted to do was come home and take a shower. As any normal human would do, I took my clothes off and turned the hot water on. As I went to go get a clean towel, I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror. This was the trigger that I was talking about.

It was almost as if I had startled myself. I grabbed my towel out of the closet and got inside the shower. I went about my normal routine but this is when the thoughts started churning inside of my head. After a little while of back and forth with myself, I finally admitted what I had known I was doing all along. I was avoiding viewing what the mirror would reflect back at me.

Whaaaat the heck? I post on social media multiple times a week through different platforms preaching to love yourself, kick ass in whatever it is that you do, all while fitting a nap in after you do that ass-kicking. I have said before that I think being confident is one of the most sexy things a person can be and yet here I am completely lacking any sex appeal if it comes down to that.

Okay wait, maybe not completely lacking. I am confident. I am confident in who I am, my morals, and my ability to make other people feel valued and loved. When I write it out, these words hold so much more strength than my physical appearance, but for some reason I find myself basing a whole lot of my worth on it.

Maybe it’s because my insecurities have been at a recent all time high. Maybe it’s because society has taught us to define beauty in the size of our jeans instead of the size of our hearts. Maybe it’s a combination of both. I’m not sure, but what I am sure of is that I don’t like feeling this way.

You’d think that losing a lot of weight would come with more confidence. Sometimes I question if it in fact did the opposite. One of my favorite quotes is “comparison is the thief of joy”. I have written a lot about comparing yourself to others and how this can deny you from happiness… but what about when it comes to comparing yourself to yourself?

Stay with me here, because I know for a fact I am guilty of this and I cannot be the only one. As life moves forward, we are all constantly changing. Our memories remind us of what used to be, even though that is all it is—what used to be. Maybe you weigh 10 pounds more than you did last year, maybe you weigh 10 pounds less. Either way, comparing your new self to your old self does nothing beneficial. “Wow I used to be so small”, “wow I used to be so big”…. yooo, used to be is all it is.

Each day is a gift and if we choose to spend them in the past then we are choosing to miss out on the present. I do preach confidence and loving yourself in every stage of life and in every part of you. I also know that you can want to change yourself while loving yourself all at the same time. This is one of the most challenging things of it all, but it is by far the most rewarding. I’m still working on it.

What the mirror reflects does not define you. It cannot show your thoughts, your experiences, your hopes, your dreams, your fears, your intelligence, your strengths, and so much more. I don’t think I could handle that if it could. Reminding ourselves of these things could be what ultimately changes our world into one of positivity in every shape and size.

Be a world changer. And maybe take an extra shower.

Love,

Aby

How To Become The Healthiest Version of Yourself

Maybe you clicked on this link because you want to know how the girl in the left photo changed into the girl in the right photo. Yes, I lost a lot of weight, but I learned things about myself that are so much more valuable. Lately I have come to realize that although I made a lot of changes physically, there are still many other aspects of myself that could use some TLC. Health is so much more than what your body feels and looks like, it truly is a lifestyle and one that I know I will always continue to work on. I don’t have it all figured out and I don’t think I ever will, but below are a few things that I will always strive to do.

1. Live a balanced life: eat the good foods. This isn’t black and white in the sense that I’m telling you to only eat fruits and vegetables. Yes, I would categorize those as “good” foods, but tacos and ice cream are just as good in a different way. Healthy food will make you feel good, but tacos and ice cream taste really good. Don’t deprive yourself of all of the “it’s so good but so bad” category, find a balance that makes you healthy and happy.

2. Exercise in a way that you enjoy. If you hate to run, don’t run. If you love Crossfit, do that. Exercise is something that so many people dread and avoid because they think they have to do what “everyone else is doing”. There are countless ways to move your body and become healthier, consider it a privilege that you’re capable of doing that and find something that works for you.

3. Set goals and achieve them. Work hard and experience the feeling of accomplishment. Success is so much sweeter when you’ve earned it, and even better if it’s something that you used to think was impossible. You can do or be anything you put your mind to as long as you have the work ethic and determination. Once you’ve completed it, push yourself to do more. You are always capable of being better.

4. Do not let fear hold yourself back. Failure is scary, no matter what kind it is. It also is not the end of the world. Go after things, take chances, and be vulnerable. Growth and some of the most beautiful things can come from times that we are scared. If you never take risks, you are robbing yourself from so many possibilities.

5. Give more compliments. Give more in general, but it’s amazing the power that words can hold. They’re free and capable of turning someone’s day around. Tell people the things that you would want to hear from someone else. Building others up in turn will build you up, and I truly believe that what we put out into this world eventually will come back to us. Spread the kind of light that you want in your own life.

6. Do not let other’s opinions of you define your worth. Goodness gracious this one can be tough. In a society where we are constantly reminded through social media of other’s strengths and success, it is so easy to feel completely less than. Combine this with any form of rejection; it’s a perfect recipe for the thoughts inside of your head to conclude that you’re not good enough. One of my favorite quotes goes something like, “you can be the ripest, sweetest, juiciest peach in the world, and there’s still going to be somebody who doesn’t like peaches”. And you know what? That’s okay. It doesn’t make you any less sweet and why would you want to waste that on someone who doesn’t appreciate it? Save that sweetness for someone who does.

7. Fill your mind with positive thoughts. Not every day is going to be a good day. You’ll be sad, you’ll be mad, and you might want to give up. Unfortunately there is no way to avoid hard situations, but you can avoid them from lasting longer. They will not only test you, but they will help you become stronger in the long run. Situations do not define you, but the way you react to them does.

8. Allow yourself to be sad, then move on. If strength were defined on how often you don’t cry, I’d be the weakest link by far. In my opinion, feelings are cool. They remind us that we are only human and they help us distinguish the good days from the bad. Sadness is one of those, something that we all face. If you try to avoid it, you’re just going to prolong it. Cut yourself some slack and feel those feelings. Don’t wallow (no one has time for that) but acknowledge it. After you’ve done this, choose to be happy.

9. Be patient and be kind. Everything happens for a reason and there is a plan that has been mapped out for you in detail. Be patient (that includes with yourself) and trust that good things will happen to you. Along the way, be kind even to the people who make it difficult. You will never regret doing that.

10. Smile. Scientists have discovered that simply smiling will send a signal to your brain that you must be happy. If you’re really not, try it out. Trick yourself until it becomes reality. It won’t take as long as you think.

Love,

Aby

Standing Tall in a Shaky World

I’ve had a lump in the back of my throat for the past few days. Not a big one, but just large enough for me to acknowledge that it’s there but keep ignoring it. Today as I was walking down the road, everything hit me at once, to the point where I know I should probably stop ignoring it.

I guess where it all comes from are my overwhelming thoughts, the ones that I know hold so little of importance when it comes to the big picture, but ones that can also eat away at you if you allow them to. 

I preach love, kindness, and believing that good things will happen. Ultimately, in order to spread those things in the world, the first and most important place to start is within yourself. Unfortunately, this can be the hardest part of it all. That lump in the back of my throat represents the struggles that I’ve recently had with this. 

I question a lot of things. What my purpose is, which direction life will take me, and who I am going to turn out to be. With these comes questioning myself; am I saying the right things? Do I look good enough? Am I capable and worthy? What can I change to make myself better? 

Lately I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about my cousin, Elizabeth. A girl who had so much going for her and so much love surrounding her, but still felt like this world is filled with more darkness than there is light. 

As I question myself and I think about her, I feel a heavy sense of sadness knowing that when she would ask herself these things, negativity was all that filled her mind. This world can be an ugly place, one that tricks ourselves into thinking that we aren’t good enough or the person next to us is superior. 

Every single person on this earth has bad days. You can choose to focus on these days, or you can choose to focus on making the next one better. Every day is an opportunity for us to grow, learn, and dive head first into whatever life has to offer us. 

The person next to you has strengths, but so do you. The person next to is beautiful, but so are you. The person next to you is talented, but so are you. That person is also flawed, and so are you. 

Self doubt will knock you down faster than a ton of bricks. I’m clumsy enough as is, so I’m choosing to do my best to stand tall. I hope you do too. 

Love,
Aby

What College Really Taught Me

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As much as I love to write, I often find myself wishing that there were a way to share the thoughts inside my head instantaneously. It can sometimes be a difficult task trying to put them into words. As I was driving back to Nashville, leaving the life I have known for the past four years behind and following a road that was leading me to so many unknowns, this was the one wish I had.

My time in college was filled with a lot of lessons and growth. Ultimately looking back, I wouldn’t change a thing. Did I go through hard times? Yes. Were there times when I doubted myself? Yes. Did I make mistakes? Absolutely.

During my drive I was reflecting on all of these things, making a list of what college taught me outside of the textbooks. College may be over, but I know I will never stop learning. So here’s to a new beginning and here’s to the new additions that my list of lessons will soon hold. I’m excited for the rest of the ride.

What College Really Taught Me:

  1. Change is inevitable so embrace it.
  2. A room filled with people can be the loneliest of places.
  3. An ice cream cone can make a bad day good.
  4. Grades do not define you.
  5. Neither do your number of Instagram likes.
  6. Singing karaoke is a lot more fun than watching someone else sing karaoke.
  7. You can break your own heart.
  8. Healthy food feels a lot better than junk food.
  9. Exercise is free therapy
  10. And so is calling your mom.
  11. Letting go of someone doesn’t mean you don’t care.
  12. Girls and boys are crazy.
  13. Being the bigger person is almost always worth it.
  14. The best nights are the ones that you can actually remember.
  15. Friends can become family and family can become friends.
  16. Some people in your life are just there for a season, but every person in your life is there for a reason.
  17. Wear sunscreen when you go to Talladega.
  18. It is okay to be unsure.
  19. A handwritten letter can go a long way.
  20. Clean sheets are life changing so you should wash them.
  21. No one has it all figured out.
  22. Overthinking is just as dangerous as under thinking.
  23. You will never regret being kind.
  24. You can lose yourself in a matter of moments.
  25. You can find yourself in a matter of moments.

Love,

Aby

Life Is Imperfect and So Am I

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Avoidance. It is something that can be so easily done, but can also be so detrimental to many aspects of our lives. Lately, I have begun to master this.

My head is filled with enough thoughts to drive me crazy at pretty much any time of day. I am a thinker and over analyzer. While I pride myself in being able to find a positive in any situation, I have found that the majority of my thoughts lately have not been happy-go-lucky.

I have not posted anything in over a month. Writing this has been something that I have been avoiding. I find myself coming up with excuses and justifications, when actually I guess I just did not want to admit to anyone or even myself the reality of it all.

Today I saw someone post, “Instagram is the perfect platform for one to give the illusion that they are doing well”. We are constantly posting ourselves in the best light. If you look at my Instagram, you will see a big smile on my face. My Snapchat story will tell you I am having a great time and life is good, however what it does not show you is the times when it is not.

I preach confidence and loving yourself in every stage of life, no matter where you are compared to where you want to be. This is something that I have been struggling with. Life has been hard, my self-esteem has been low, and it feels like I have been constantly messing up. Sometimes I let my emotions get the best of me; I have said things without thinking or at a completely wrong time.

I have always said that I feel like my life is together when I make my bed. My bed has not been made in over week, I have gained 5 pounds, and found myself defining my worth based on what I think other people think of me.

How can I sit here and tell other people how to lose weight when I am the one gaining it? How can I tell people to be confident when I am not? How can I tell people the only person whose opinion matters of you is yourself when I am the one wondering what exactly I need to change in order to make myself more desirable?

I can because I know all of these things. Life is messy and imperfect and so am I. The mistakes I have made recently, those 5 pounds, and anyone’s opinion do not define me. What does define me is how I choose to handle those things. If I have lost 70 pounds before, I sure as hell can lose 5. I know who I am and I like who I am, forgetting that for a split second does not change it. I am worthy and I am enough, exactly the way I am right now.

You are the one who is in charge of your emotions. You decide whether your day is good or bad, so make the choice to make it good.

This stage of life is scary, there are so many unknowns and I know more mistakes lie ahead. What I also know is these are the things I will learn from and no matter what I will be okay. In January I wrote about how I would not let fear overwhelm me to the point where it keeps me from moving forward. These past two months have shown me that it is much easier said than done. That may be the case, but as of now I am making the choice to make things good.

So this morning, I made my bed.

How to Lose Weight in College

Freshman Year Move-In Day –> Fall of Senior Year

College comes with freedom, responsibility, and a lot of good times to be had. Chances are, you have either heard of or experienced first hand the dreaded ‘Freshman 15’, which ultimately can become the ‘Junior 30’ if you are not careful. Alcohol, poor food choices, and lack of exercise can all be attributed to this.

If you have gained a few pounds throughout college, do not worry. First, know that you are not alone! I have had a lot of messages from plenty of people asking for advice because they have gained weight after high school. Second, know that just because the weight was put on does not mean it cannot come off.

My weight loss was definitely slow and steady. I lost about 40lb throughout my senior year of high school and then managed to lose another 30lb more during my time in college. Let that be your encouragement to know that although college is filled with a lot of temptation and typically unhealthy choices, losing weight is not impossible. Below are a few tips to help you achieve your weight loss goals, without missing out on the fun in the mean time.

  1. Walk to Class

This one is probably the simplest one you can start incorporating into your daily routine. Many schools, including mine, offer shuttle services to students going to and from class. Unless there is a tornado, hurricane, ten feet of snow on the ground, or whatever severe weather conditions of your choice (chances are you will not be going to class anyways), walk to class. These extra steps will lead to more calories burned and ones that will be virtually effortless.

  1. Make Healthy Choices in the Caf

Chances are, the caf, dining hall, or whatever food service your school offers is not five-star quality. Therefore, the unhealthy options like fried foods, high fat and starchy sides, and sweet treats probably are not even that good. Save these unhealthy foods for your “cheat meal” on the weekends when you go out to eat with friends and can actually enjoy something that is worth it. When you are eating in the caf, stick to lean proteins like grilled chicken, vegetables, and the salad bar. Fill half of your plate with vegetables, a fourth of it with lean protein, and if available, the last fourth with a whole grain like brown rice.

  1. Utilize Your School’s Gym

This is probably one of the only times where you will have access to a gym that is completely free. Make the most out of your parent’s tuition money and use.the.gym. *If I could insert the hand-clapping emoji in between those words, I would—just pretend for emphasis*. Set a goal for yourself for a certain number of days a week and tell a friend this goal. You will be much more likely to stick to it if you have your friends keep you accountable, or even better, having an accountability partner who goes with you! If you try to tell me you do not have time to workout because of school, work, etc., I will laugh. If you have time to take a nap or watch Netflix, you have time to go to the gym (and I would be willing to bet that you have time to do all three if you plan accordingly).

  1. Limit/Avoid Alcohol

This one is huge. It is no secret that college comes with a lot of late nights and parties which often includes alcohol. Alcohol can be detrimental to weight loss because of many reasons. First, it is very high in calories; 1.5oz of liquor on average contains approximately 100 calories. Add this with sugary mixers; one night of drinking can cancel out all of the hard work you put in during the whole week. These late nights mixed with alcohol also often ends with a quick stop through a fast-food restaurant, when your decision-making might not be at its prime. Add in the regret of an empty box of chicken nuggets next to your bed on top of your headache the next morning, you are in for a pretty miserable day.

With that being said, if you do not drink—do not start. Avoiding alcohol is the best thing to do if you are serious about weight loss. If you do decide that you want to drink, vodka or tequila is the best option. There are a lot of 0 calorie flavored drinks that can be paired with them, soda water with lemon or lime is also a good choice. Avoid regular soda at all cost and do not indulge in high sugar mix drinks (yes, this sadly includes margaritas). You can enjoy alcohol in moderation, and as always do so in a safe and smart way.

  1. Do Not Keep Junk Food in Your Dorm/Apartment

This one is pretty self-explanatory. If it is not there, you will not eat it. I will write a post about my favorite healthy snacks soon, but some good options to keep in your room are apples, bananas, mini smart-pop bags of popcorn, and individual packs of nuts. Snacking can add up quickly, so try to do this minimally. Focus on meals filled with whole, nutrient-dense foods that will keep you fuller longer and keep you from being tempted to snack too often.

  1. Limit/Avoid Late Night Eating/Drive-Thru Runs

Thinking back to my freshman year, I have many memories of 11pm Sonic-runs with a car full of girls, or a stop at Heavenly Donuts for half-priced donuts past midnight. Although these made for fun nights, I would not recommend making these things habits. Your body uses the time that you are sleeping to digest your food and repair itself. Eating right before bed actually impacts your sleep cycle and throws off your normal body rhythm, while using any excess calories consumed to form excess fat. Because of this, try not to eat anything 2-3 hours before you go to bed. If you come down with a case of FOMO (fear of missing out) and still want to be with your friends, try to make better choices. For example: order a Diet Cherry Limeade at Sonic or try to convince your friend that it really is a better idea to split a donut with you than for everyone to each order a half-dozen.

 

College is fun and goes by even more quickly than everyone tells you it will, so please enjoy it! Small changes lead to big ones as long as you just take it one step at a time. Live your life, stay determined, and always keep your eye on the prize. Let me tell you, running into someone from high school and hearing them say “Woah, what happened to you?” makes skipping out on that donut well worth it.

 

Love,

Aby