Monday, July 30, 2012

The Boston Half Marathon

A few weeks back, I signed my life away to something I am going to affectionately call from now on "the half." The half being the Boston Half Marathon. Yes, I will attempt to try and run thirteen point one miles in one given time period. And I'm scared to death about it. Am I a previous marathon runner? Nope. Do I run all the time and enjoy it? Not entirely. Am I out of my mind for even dreaming of running 13.1 dreaded miles (even though I've never run that far before in my life)? Sometimes I think so... Here's the full story.

Some friends of ours invited my husband and I to run the marathon with them, which really excited us. The hubs and I were all for it, months in advance. Well, we may have forgotten about it with our wedding and some travel thrown in there. Then our friends reminded us that sign up was next week (at the time)! I felt a little mentally unprepared to sign myself up for something so "big" in my mind (just a year ago, I could barely run a mile without whining like a baby, mind you). Usually, I like my plans to be well-thought out. I like to mentally prepare myself for what's coming next. But no - the sign up was in a few days - and since I had forgotten about it, all my mind could say was no. But thankfully, my heart (and my husband) said yes.

Before I sold myself on signing up, I looked up some training schedules to see what my life would (and now, does) look like if I indeed signed my life away to the half marathon. I found all these programs saying they were good for "novice runners" who "ran 13-20 miles a week. All I could think was uhh, that's not me. Where's the super super novice training plan?! Looking at all the training plans freaked me out and intimidated me beyond belief. But, thankfully, our friends who we're running it with sent me a training plan that actually made sense. It is, as seasoned runners know, Hal Higdon's training plan, found here. While this is still a committed training plan, it was a lot less scary than others sounded. His plan has a nice introduction that tells it like it is. The plan is flexible and realistic. He cuts right to the chase, but his honesty didn't scare me. It empowered me. After reading through the plan, I realized it was 12 weeks long: exactly the amount of time I had until the half marathon. Coincidence? I thought of it as God's gentle whisper saying Now is the time. Recently, I have been searching for something meaningful to fill my time with, and I don't think it's a coincidence at all that this marathon landed in my lap right at this time. So Wednesday, July 17th - shaking (From fear or too much coffee? I'll never know) - I signed up for my first half marathon.

Now, I'm not going to get all high and mighty sounding just because I signed up for running my butt off for what will definitely take me over two hours (two...hours...running...). But this is a big step for me, personally. I was the girl in gym class who finished the mile run by walking or who puked afterward. I was never taught how to run, and quite honestly, I think it's ridiculous that students are required to run a timed mile when no one teaches students how to run in the first place (at least they didn't at my school). But my husband has changed all of that. He's a much more natural runner than I am and probably ever will be. We started running together last year, a little over a year and a half ago now. He taught me good running form and gives me motivation to keep going. And if he hadn't signed up for this with me, there's no way I would have gotten myself into this in the first place!

The sign up process was definitely not perfect. But the timing of this event coming into my life really is perfect in a way. I have something to work towards, and I have a whole lot of running to do every week! Since this post is getting a little long, I'll save my training updates for my next post. For all you non-runners out there, do you ever think you would commit yourself to a race to see what you are capable of? For past race runners, how did you feel about signing up for the event? As crazy as I did?

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

The Perfect Planner

Being a wee bit of a perfectionist, I am undoubtedly in love with planners. I'm pretty sure that ever since elementary school when they gave you the giant cheesy planner at the beginning of the school year, I have been smitten with planners. In the past few years, I've always used Victoria's Secret Pink's student planner. It changes slightly from year to year, but the basic premise is the same. While I've relied on these planners for years, being almost done with college, I figured it was time to move on from the "student" planner. I got a new planner at Target the other day (my favorite store ever, possibly?). I guess this could be considered a student planner still since the dates range from July to June, but it wasn't labeled as a student planner, so it's a big girl planner, right? ;) Anyway, I love the simplicity but modernity of it, the design, and the crisp feel of the new pages. What's not to love?

Besides the sheer joy that I get from paper goods, planners help me actually plan out my life. Understanding how to use my time has been one of the most useful aspects of growing up. It's certainly not easy to get the hang of time management, but once you commit to enough activities in life, you realize it's essential. Below are some of my tips about time management.

Some tips on Time Management from a Perfectionist 

1. Be Real. Firstly, be realistic with the amount of time you have and the amount of activities you can fit into that time period. Too often, I'll sit down with my planner and try to fit a weeks worth of activities into a single day. I think we all hope to accomplish so much and be so productive, but there's a point where my planning can get unrealistic. Making a list of what I actually want to accomplish in a given time period is my favorite place to start because it puts things into perspective. If you realize you have a whole month to do a certain project, there's no use rushing through it in a week just for the sake of getting it done. When it comes down to it, writing out a list of plans, what needs to be done each week, or just a simple to do list is the best way for me to gain perspective about how many activities I'm trying to cram into a given time period. Sometimes after I write it out, I realize it's not that much. Other times, I have to realize that my to do list may take weeks to accomplish because I have to space out the timing of my activities. Either way, perspective is the key to successful planning where I don't get totally overwhelmed.

2. Set a timer. Believe it or not, my phone calendar alarms are sometimes my best friend. This last year, I was finishing my senior year of college online. It was hard to manage my time when I was able to be home in my apartment in my jammies with a cup of coffee all day. I started using a set schedule to start "class" as if it were an appointment. You can do the same thing for when you want to workout or even when you want to be finished with a task. Sometimes I get so caught up in a task that I could do it all day. Setting a timer, whether on the microwave or your phone, can keep you in check to make sure you're utilizing time well.

3. Get a planner...and use it. It's clear that planners work for me, but I've seen too often when people get a planner and never even use it. For me, it's merely a habit. If I have a new task or event coming up, the first thing I think is to put it in my planner or I seriously will forget (and even forget after I write it down sometimes!). Making using your planner a habit is a good step toward utilizing your time. But planners don't work for everyone. If planners aren't your thing, check out all the free printables from other blogs, also commonly found on Pinterest. There are a lot of great ways to write down your plans without the use of an actual planner.

4. Just relax. The hardest part about planning for me is that my plan is just that: only a plan. What I write in my planner or on my weekly schedules are not actually set in stone as much as I'd like them to be. There is so much room for change and variation in life that there's no way that I could ever stick to my original plan - unless I lived in a bubble - and thank goodness I don't! Once I realize all that, I can relax about change in my oh so "perfect" plan and just live life day to day. I always feel it's better to have a plan, but even if I end up completely straying from that plan, it's better in my opinion than not setting goals for my time at all.

Obviously, there is no perfect way to use your time. "Perfect" is different for everyone. Some days I miss the mark on my schedule completely and think where did all the time go?! But other days, I utilize my time doing what matters most, and the results prove it. Whether or not I am always successful, planning gives me joy to know that I have a say in how I use my time.

What are your time management tricks?

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Berry Protein Smoothie Perfection

Hi all! If there's one thing I sometimes wish could be perfect, it's my diet. There's many ways that I've obsessed about my diet, trying to perfect it. Sorry, but this post isn't about how I perfected my diet, 'cause that'll never happen! But I do experiment with smoothies a lot as I have found that smoothies are the closest thing to the perfect breakfast that I can find.

My whole fascination with smoothies began with this recipe for a pumpkin pie smoothie. Last fall I was in love with anything pumpkin flavored (who wasn't?!), and I had a variation of that smoothie many, many times.

Pinterest only fueled my recipe box with more and more smoothie recipes. I'm so thankful to have Pinterest at my fingertips whenever I need inspiration for a new smoothie. Today I experimented with some protein powder I picked up at Trader Joe's last week. The brand I bought is called Designer Whey French Vanilla protein powder, but I'm sure any protein powder will do. Here's the recipe.

Berry Protein Perfection

Approximately 250 calories :) 

My favorite protein powder & smoothie
- half a scoop of protein powder (my scoop is huge, so I don't usually use a whole scoop)
- 1 frozen banana, sliced ahead of time
- 3/4 cup frozen mixed berries (I use Trader Joe's Organic berry mix)
- handful of spinach (about a cup and a half, loosely packed)
- water

1. Put all the ingredients in the blender, adding only little water initially. I usually try to put the frozen ingredients in first so they're on the bottom and blend easier.

2. Blend for only 30 seconds at a time, adding water to make it smoother as needed. My blender is not the best! If you have a better blender, you probably don't need to do this. I find I only have to blend things slowly if I use multiple frozen ingredients versus just one.

3. Pour & Enjoy!

Sometimes I also add wheat germ just because I like the texture. This smoothie was really creamy, despite there being no milk or yogurt in it. It was just sweet enough with adding any sweetener. I'll definitely make it again.

If you try this recipe, I'd love to hear what you think of it!

Happy eating!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

If everything were just perfect

I've spent the greater part of my life shooting for the stars and then becoming really frustrated and bitter when my bow and arrow shot short. I've wrestled with perfection like any girl, but I've let my ways and the pressure of the world weigh me down. While my goal is not to blog solely about perfectionism, I've got to address the basics first. I admit that I'm a perfectionist. I'm not really sure where the story begins, if I was born this way, or if my little egocentric, narcissistic self grew into believing that things had to be perfect. I assume it's a combination of both factors. Either way, recently, something finally clicked where I realized two things: that I am certainly a perfectionist to the point where it's a problem, and thankfully, that things don't have to stay this way.

Defining it as a problem 

When I started to understand my perfectionistic tendencies as behavior that was interfering with my happiness and well-being, I began the road to change. Before I knew better and understood my faulty ways, I used to use blame as a source of coping, blaming myself and others unfairly. I would think things like This outfit doesn't look good because I'm terrible at putting clothes together! or The house is a mess because you messed up my perfection! Obviously, these statements are a little exaggerated, but not by much. I used to think there had to be a reason for why things were not perfect. Sometimes there is a reason, but most of the time, it's just life! But blaming myself only made me dislike myself and put myself down instead of build myself up. And blaming others only caused grief and distance in important relationships. Even if the blame wasn't verbalized, I still maintained the mindset in my head that something or someone was out to ruin my perfect ways. How selfish and ugly is that?

However, by defining perfectionism as a problem, I was able to recognize my behavior better and realize there's not always someone to blame, and even if something is technically someone else's fault - I had to learn to let it go anyway. Ultimately, realizing that perfection is a problem has made me more aware of just how imperfect things actually are and that they're actually intended to be that way. Some days, I still feel like everything is working against me, but other days I can let the imperfects in with acceptance.

I am not made to be perfect 

Although I've done study on my own, my church and Bible study has been the best source of my understanding of perfection. The most important thing that has changed my viewpoint is Christ. The most important fact I've learned recently is that only Christ is perfect. It was pretty hard for me to wrap my head around that there is only one perfect person who set foot on this earth, and his name is Jesus. This is obviously a pretty big subject that I could devote multiple blog posts to, but the basic idea is that perfection is Godly, not humanly. I like to search my Bible app for good verses, and when I search for "perfection" or "perfect" there is not one verse that comes up that says humanity or any human is perfect - besides Jesus. Things like God's love, God's law, Jesus, the salvation He provides, and faith are perfect. Not humans, outfits, houses, relationships, or feelings.

While this idea is still penetrating the depths of my heart, I do understand that I am not supposed to be or made to be perfect here on earth. And when I honestly realize that - wait a minute! - I'm off the hook from trying to be perfect? That's the moment when I can finally breathe and take rest.

Growing Every Day 

Okay, so I'm not an expert on any of this. I'm simply excited that I've found some truth in my life that I can cling to - truth that has changed my ways and truly given me joy. I can be happy even when my $5 Starbucks drink wasn't made right (thank goodness they'll remake it for free, right?). I can be happy when the size 5 doesn't even button but the size 7 is huge (oh, cheap clothes). I can rejoice in the fact that no one ever said I had to be perfect, pretend to be perfect, or die trying. I actually get to be me. Imperfectly, undoubtedly me.

But I still have so much to learn. There are still days when I crack under the pressure of invisible society. There are still days when I wish my hair, nails, outfit, diet, house, and mood could all be perfect the whole day through (oh, and if the stars could be aligned too, that would be nice). But life isn't a fairy tale where every dream comes true. I'm glad I woke up from the dream that perfection lured me into believing could be reality. Each day is another step toward accepting imperfections in myself and my surrounds and embracing the things that not only can't change, but that I was never meant to change in the first place.

Do you struggle with perfectionistic tendencies? How do you deal with them?

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Freeing Imperfections: Embracing the Imperfect in Every Day

Hello, World! First post... better be a good one, eh? Well, here it goes! Like most anyone with a blog on the internet, I have an idea that I think it would be better shared instead of cooped up in my head all the time. I'm not sure if you'll agree, but we're about to find out, right?

So, here's the idea: life is imperfect. You're probably saying, Yup, already knew that. What a novel idea! Well, if you're any bit human or anything like me, you've probably had to wrestle with that idea, grow with that idea, and learn from that idea. Things are not perfect. We all know this, but so often I see others and myself forget this simple notion. Sometimes (okay, a lot of the time) I want things to be just so, as good as they can be, just how I like them, and in essence - completely perfect! I'm a firstborn in my family, I definitely have a type-A personality, and I have a natural knack for organizing everything from my sock drawer down to my bobby pins. But even if you're not a - dare I say it - perfectionist, even the most opposite person of a perfectionist still wrestles with the lack of control that we all have as humans.

Simply put, no matter how hard I may strive, perfection is out of my grasp. And when I believe I've reached perfection, I'm either miserable inside or I've set yet another height to reach, making the pursuit of perfection an endless one. I have found myself a slave to perfection before, and sometimes still, setting all my sights on how to attain what was never intended for me to have. I've sought after perfection in my looks, emotions & feelings, relationships, home, faith, schedule, eating habits, and many other things. I've had to come to the end of myself many times and realize that I just can't keep striving for something I'll never reach. There's no point to living every day of my life reaching for something that will just not deliver, something that won't ever be good enough. I'm choosing to look past the imperfections and realize that life is what it is - imperfectly wonderful at that.

The mission of Freeing Imperfections is to:
  • Provide a much needed outlet for my own personal growth and share how embracing, loving, and understanding imperfection can bring freedom 
  • Write about the daily adventures of my coffee drinking, Pinterest crafting, Italian Greyhound-ing life (because, let's face it- it's going to happen) 
  • Feature posts titled "Daily Imperfections" about what was perfectly imperfect that day 
  • Have fun, smile, and laugh about it all! 
For now, my personal goal for this blog is to write about my struggles and successes with perfection along with what might be interesting in my every day life. My tagline for the blog is "Embracing the Imperfect in Every Day." In order to make my own life more fulfilling, I will strive to focus on what can be appreciated in the moment instead of so commonly focusing on what went wrong or what wasn't "right" about the moment. I hope to embrace the imperfect, learn from my mistakes, and have fun while blogging about it. I invite you to join me on the adventure of seeing how freeing imperfections can be! 

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