Physical Health/ FitBit Review

I recently got a fitbit (a charge 2) and I totally love it. The one I have is my mom’s old one, and when she offered it to me before, I originally said no. I thought fitbits were just for losing weight, or getting in shape, and I wasn’t all too concerned with either of those. However, per usual, I’ve learned there’s more to it than meets the eye.

I use my fitbit primarily to track my sleep, water intake, period schedule, and exercise. I’ve also started to use it to make sure I’m eating enough of the right things. Like all fitness gadgets, it gives you the ability to log what you’re eating. Once you’ve logged it, it can tell you whether you’re eating mostly carbs, or fat, or whatever. Seeing as how I’d never struggled to lose weight, I thought I didn’t need this; but it’s really helped me be aware of the things I’ve been eating, and it’s shown me how important it is to have a healthy diet.

To reiterate, a fitbit isn’t about losing weight, it’s about staying healthy. I use my fitbit to make sure I take care of my body, and it’s helped me learn a lot of new things I had no idea were so important. I’m learning to be more responsible with my sleep, because now, instead of saying “I’m tired”, I can look back and see why I’m tired. For all these questions of “why don’t I feel well”, I can check how I’ve been eating, or sleeping, or drinking water, and see if that’s the reason (which it usually is). I’m not a health nut, and I don’t like working out that much, but I do want to stay healthy, and my fitbit has really helped me out.

If you don’t want to get a fitbit, there are other ways you can get some of the same functions. I had been using apps for everything, and through a lot of trial and error, I found a few that really helped.

For a water reminder/ log, I had been using Daily Water Reminder for iOS. I’ve also heard a lot of good things about Plant Nanny for iOS. I wasn’t a huge fan of Plant Nanny, but I know a lot of people who really liked it. I had an idea for an app that would let you log your water intake, and you and your friends could use the app to help keep an eye on each others intake. So if you hadn’t drunk anything in a couple hours someone could shoot you a message and remind you. I did some research, and I think fitbit is supposed to let you see your friends progress like this, but I haven’t had the opportunity to check it out.

I got an app for sleep tracking, but I didn’t actually get around to trying it. It was called Pillow Automatic Sleep Tracker, for iOS. The way Pillow works is you press a button when you’re about to go to bed, and place it under your pillow. I think it uses the movement of your bed/ pillow to see how you’re sleeping. I didn’t try it because I didn’t like the idea of sleeping on my phone (it didn’t feel comfortable), and I never knew when I’d fall asleep (and I was lazy, but that’s beside the point).

For exercise I got the app 30 Day Fitness Challenge Pro, for iOS. It’s set up so that you exercise every day, and it gets a little bit harder with each day. I used it pretty consistently, but I got too busy after a while and couldn’t work out everyday, and then I found myself never working out. Because the plan builds on itself, it’s harder to work out only once or twice a week. While I was using it, I really liked it. Life just shifted and I needed to find something different.

To track my period I started using an app called Flo, for iOS. If you’re not a lady, feel free to skip over this. Flo just helps you track your period, symptoms, water intake, and pregnancy stuff (if you’re trying to get pregnant, that is). I love it, and it’s really helped me learn a lot about my period, actually. I’ve started to use fitbit to track my period, but I’ll probably keep Flo as well. It has a little more information than fitbit does, and there are forums, and articles that can be really helpful.

When I originally started my journey to get healthier, I was using an Android phone, and they have plenty of cool apps too. I switched to an Apple phone not long after I started all this, which is why I have so many iOS recommendations. All of these apps are free, or have versions that are free, but don’t include as much as the paid version. I, being broke, hadn’t spent any money on them and was perfectly happy with what I got.

I hope this review/ recommendation post was helpful, and good luck staying healthy!

My Year

Life has just been insane. I remember last year, thinking about how everything was gonna go, and thinking it would all just be the same. I thought I’d continue to stay depressed, and nauseous, and lonely, and anxious. I thought the insanity would never end. I thought I’d never be my “normal” self again. And now, here I am, sitting on my couch, looking forward to all of the awesome things I get to do this summer. I’m actually excited about something for once. I’m not nervous, or anxious. Just, excited.

My next stage of life is nothing like I planned, but I’m really excited about it. I’ve made some knew-ish friendships, and I’m so glad I have the opportunity to stay here and cultivate them. I get to focus on my art, and music, and the people in my life.

Now that I have all my emotions back in check, I’m pretty much as normal as I used to be (not that I was ever normal in the first place). Something I realized, though, is that that “normal” part of me that I thought was gone, was my love for life. For the past six years people have mentioned to me here and there that I have a “love for life”, and I never really thought much of it until I lost it. It keeps me going, it helps me encourage people, and, it reminds me that life isn’t all bad.

There’s always this point, after going through a long, hard stretch of life, where I can look back at it all and be thankful for all the crap I had to go through (that usually doesn’t come for a good while, however). Right now, right this second, I’m there. And it feels amazing. I’m looking back at everything and realizing how much I’ve grown, and how much I’ve learned about my self. In the course of just a few months I learned how to really take care of myself, both mentally and physically. I’ve learned how to forgive people, and how to let people go, and that you don’t always have to let people go. I’ve learned how to keep friendships across miles. And, I’ve learned how to be a big girl.

Around the time I started feeling nauseous, and things started to feel wonky (about two years ago), I started getting to be really good friends with one of the girls who had just graduated from my youth group. She is now my best friend, and my sister. One of my biggest fears with growing up, and moving into the college class at church, and being a college student, was that I wouldn’t have any friends. That all my friends would leave me, and I’d be alone. But, having that friend who’s a bit older than me really helped me branch out. She helped me realize that college students aren’t terrifying. And, because she’d hang out with the college students, I got to know a lot of them, too.

Life’s looking up, and I’m happy about it. I no longer wake up depressed everyday. I no longer walk through life terrified that it’ll get bad again. And, I’ve got some amazing friends to help me keep walking along, and keep knowing that it won’t get bad again.

Everything we go through has a good reason. I’ve known that with my whole heart for the last six years. But, sometimes, when you’re in the midst of everything, it’s hard to remember. Look at Job, from the Bible. He spent years upon years in agony. He knew that God had a reason for everything that was going on, but he still cried out because everything in his life hurt so bad, for so long, and it never seemed like it’d get better. Well, it did. And it turned out even better than before.

I spent just over two years (two and a half?) with this nausea, and anxiety, and I prayed so hard that God would just take it away. Throughout everything, and after it being so long, I thought he never would. But he did. And now I’m sitting here, totally fine, ready to go see my friend give a presentation at school later tonight. God does look out for us, and he watches over us. Even if it seems like he never will. Even if it seems like it’s hopeless. He does.

Winnie the Pooh

In the very beginning of my artistic journey, I was just trying new things and seeing what I was capable of. One style I’d always loved was the style of the older Winnie the Pooh illustrations. They seemed so simple, but also beautiful, so I thought I’d give it a try. So far, that’s still my favorite art style, and one I use often.

I never watched Winnie the Pooh when I was growing up, but the older I got the more I got into it, so I decided to check out some of the 90’s movies. I watched Pooh’s Grand Adventure, and it was pretty good. Being older, I wasn’t “in love” with it, but there were definitely some things I took away from it.

The art style was obviously not the same as the original illustrations, but it still seemed to hold a lot of the charm that the originals did. Based off observation, it looked like some of the originals were watercolor, and then outlined in ink (depending on the generation you look at). In the movie, it seemed like they held a similar concept. Art style was one of my primary focuses as I watched the movie, because I was curious to see if it would be similar to the illustrations; but it wasn’t the only thing I noticed.

Generally, in a regular old animated cartoon with animals, they’re just animals. However, the point of Winnie the Pooh is about a boy who would take his toys to the hundred acre wood, and just play. In the animations, the animals move like toys. It’s fascinating. Not only do they move like toys, they’re also drawn like toys. They have stitch marks here and there, some of them have buttons, etc.

Some people may think it’s simple to make something like this, and like it’s not a big deal, but I love their attention to detail when they created the movie. My guess is, that if they hadn’t put in all those details in the beginning and just made them animals, no one would’ve really noticed. I mean, maybe a big Pooh Bear fan would’ve, but I certainly wouldn’t.

I love Winnie the Pooh. I always thought it was just a kid’s thing, but the more I looked at it, the more I saw that it’s not. It’s a lot of what I want to create, actually. It’s stories of friendships, and adventures, and growing up, and dealing with the hard things; all from a whimsical, kid’s point of view. It takes all these hard “adventures”, and gives them a lighthearted look.

When Winnie the Pooh was created, it gave people hope. I would love to do that for people some day.

Break It Down

Every situation has it’s good and bad aspects, but it can be really easy to only focus on the bad situations. I mean, it makes total sense. When bad things happen, your brain latches on to them and tries to learn from them, and keep you from hurting yourself again. However, it can make or break a situation the next time you try and do it.

I came up with this idea the other day to “break down” a situation. Say, you just had an insanely busy day, and you feel super stressed out, and you feel like you accomplished nothing. While your heart may be telling you you “did nothing”, your head knows you accomplished way more, it’s just harder to hear your head over your heart. So, to make it easier to see all the truths, I came up with this system to break down your situations.

It’s kind of similar to math, actually. When you’re solving inequalities you take one equation, and you split it into two. You have a positive, and a negative version of that equation. (|a – 3| < 2 Becomes a – 3 = 2 and a – 3 = 2.) This system is similar to the one I use for finding truths (check out The Truth to read more). You just split apart the positive and negative sides to your equations (situations), and then you’ll be able to see all the good things from that day. Even if there’s only one or two, they’re still there.

These systems that I’ve created are an escape. When I’m upset, or things just feel awful, I tend to snowball (meaning I keep rolling in all of these “bad” things until I’m just ready to give up and cry). By taking a few minutes, and breaking everything down, I’m calm and ready to get back up and keep going. They aren’t going to work for everyone, and I don’t always use them very well, but I have used them, and know that they work. Sometimes you need someone to help you break them down, but they do work. I hope they can help give you an out when it comes to “snowballing” like it does me.

“I’m Sick”

Let’s talk about health for a minute.

Health has two different sides to it, which most people know. There’s emotional health, and physical health. What most people don’t seem to know, is how much your emotional health can impact you.

I’ve been learning recently that I’m a wreck when I don’t get enough sleep (like, eight to eight-and-a-half hours still isn’t enough on a daily basis). When I’m low on sleep it’s like I start to lose control over my emotions. I’m sad, and depressed, and anxious a whole lot more easily, and it makes it really hard to live life, and even want to live life.

I generally love to help people in any way I can, so I’m pretty invested in my church (I’m on the worship team on Wednesday nights, in the 2’s and 3’s class room every couple weeks, and I’ve started doing more offertories). I love doing all those things, but it’s a lot. For a while there were only one or two Sundays a month that I was actually in service. Now, I loved doing all those things. I liked staying busy, and helping people. But, when I started to get more tired because I wasn’t taking care of myself, I realized that I couldn’t keep pushing so hard. Here’s some examples:

Example #1: Say I’ve got an offertory lined up, and I’ve been practicing for a month or so, and a week or two before I’m scheduled to play, I start getting a cold. I’m on week two of my cold, my offertory’s tomorrow, and I’m still not well enough to play. So, I text my pastor and let him know that I won’t be able to play because I’m “sick”.

Example #2: It’s the same situation as before. I’ve got an offertory lined up, and I’m totally ready for it. Well, this time, I’ve been helping a lot at church, and we’ve been going through some rough family stuff, so I’m completely exhausted. Mentally, physically, and emotionally. It’s the week I’m supposed to play, and I’m so tired that every day I wake up and just want to cry. I call my youth pastor and tell him I can’t play because I’m “sick”.

So often, when I’m physically or emotionally tired, I think I’m fine. “Just tired,” I tell myself. Well, the reality is, that when you’re tired, you can become physically sick. When I’m tired, my appetite drops, so I don’t each as much as I should, and it can make me feel worse. When I’m tired, and I don’t have as much control over my emotions, it can make some of the simplest things become the scariest things. I think, “Oh, I won’t let my fears win, I’ll just keep pushing, and be brave, and I’ll be fine.” But, the truth is, I won’t be fine until I listen to what my body’s trying to tell me and take care of myself.

I never thought “being tired” was a good enough reason not to do something. But, especially as a kid, being tired can make a huge difference. Last year around Christmas, when I was really depressed, I just kept pushing on like life was normal and tried not to let my depression win. In some cases, that’s good, and important. But in others, it’s just ignoring the problem. It wasn’t until I listened to myself, and realized that I need a change, that I really started to feel better. Both physically, and emotionally.

Telling people no can be one of the hardest things you can do. When I have to tell someone no because I’m tired, or sick, I’m afraid they’re going to judge me. I know a lot of people who would jokingly say something like, “What? You’re just tired? Come on. I know you can do it. Don’t be lazy.” And, even as a joke, that stuff hurts. Especially when you’re already exhausted. It often makes people do things they know they shouldn’t because they feel like they’ll be judged. I know I have. But, we can’t give in to that. Who cares if they judge us? Who cares what they say? What’s important is that you are okay, and that you are trying to make the best decisions you can. If something isn’t the right thing for you, you should never let anyone pressure you into doing it. Maybe consider what they have to say, but you’re the one making the choice. And if they don’t like it, then they can just deal with it.

Contentment

I’m the type of person who always looks ahead. I try to intentionally make choices that will benefit my future, and that usually means pushing myself. A lot. I think, “Oh, I could start a business. That would be cool. Then I’ll have more money for college and more experience.” But, I never stop myself and remember that I’m a kid. There’s a reason not many kids start their own businesses.

I’ve been learning lately about when to know when to do things. Like, when deciding whether I should do something or not, bringing in the factor of “stage of life”. Every day we have opportunities to do things that could affect us in the long run, but we need to pick and choose which ones we’re going to take up. We don’t always have to stay focused on our future. Sometimes we can just choose to be a kid (or a kid at heart) and have some fun, or just continue to enjoy what we have now. Improving is good, and it’s important, but not everything has to be constantly improved all the time.

Say, I went to college, got my teaching degree, and was a preschool teacher somewhere. I spent my days teaching my kiddos and having a fantastic time. That’s okay. Nothing needs to be harder, I don’t need to stretch my comfort zone, or make life harder for myself. Sometimes it’s okay to just be content.

I think the reason I have it stuck in my head that “being content” isn’t okay is because it’s easy to get stuck in being content. Sometimes it’s good to stretch ourselves, and get out of our comfort zone; and sometimes it’s good to enjoy being content with what God’s given us. Everything has a place, and I’ve been learning where those places are. It’s all about moderation, and having a good understanding of when it’s time to stretch, and when it’s not.

FOMO

FOMO is an acronym for Fear Of Missing Out. Basically, it means you do everything, and work your butt off, so that you don’t miss out on anything that could be fun.

When you have FOMO, you tend to push yourself to the limit. You think, “Oh, I can do one more thing. No problem!” Thinking it’ll be great, when, in reality, you’re just pushing yourself so hard you can’t enjoy it. You can’t enjoy anything because you’re so exhausted all the time.

There can be two different types of FOMO. Some people have regular old FOMO, and don’t want to miss out on the fun. But, some people can have a type that’s more service based. You’re pushing yourself so hard because you have this mindset that it’s okay to push too hard to help others.

I really struggle with the second type. Sometimes, life is just busy. That doesn’t mean you have type two FOMO, it just means you’ve got things to do. I get that. However, sometimes it really is just FOMO, and you don’t have to do all the things you think you do.

I was sitting in church one day, looked over my shoulder, and saw our pastor’s wife walking along holding a baby (she had just come out of the nursery). I was thinking about how, so often, pastor’s families do EVERYTHING in the church. Not because they think they have to, just because they’re good at serving others. I know a few pastor’s kids who are so busy with helping in the church that they’re rarely in church, or Sunday school. They take on every job, or need, just because they can. And some, because they’re the “pastor’s kid”. I get wanting to help, and it’s really great, but no one person should be solely responsible for serving.

If we, who have FOMO, sign up for everything, thinking no one else will, then it is definite that NO ONE ELSE WILL. Our FOMO is an option. When it comes to service based FOMO, or regular FOMO. We can choose to say, “That’d be super cool to go to, but I have some stuff I already had planned, so I’ll just stick with that.”

Self-care is important. When I realized I had service based FOMO, I realized that by pushing myself so hard to serve others, I was actually being a hinderance. I was so tired that I couldn’t serve well in general. I was doing the opposite of what I had been trying to do, and hurting myself in the process.

We don’t have to give in to either type of FOMO. If you’re afraid of disappointing someone because you have to tell them you can’t serve in the area they’re asking, remember that a true friend, who loves you, will understand and want what’s best for you. And, if they are just mad at you, then you don’t have to take any of they’re crap. Their happiness is NOT your responsibility.

My “Play-Doh” Plan

I had this smart, cost-efficient, reasonable plan that I thought was exactly what God wanted me to do. It’s not like I just made a plan myself and expected it to go well; I tried my best to listen to God, and then tried to build a plan for what he wanted me to do about college. It was great, smart, and really seemed to fit. And then it didn’t.

I called it my “Play-Doh” plan because I knew it needed to be flexible and moldable. I mean, my plan was six years long. I knew things would change here and there. I just didn’t expect so many big changes… My plan was a beautifully orchestrated plan. There was absolutely nothing wrong with it. Except, that I held too close to it. I mean, not unreasonably, I don’t think. I was excited about the next stages of life, and finally ready to take it all on (I wrote about it in my post, “Let’s Talk College”).

When I created my plan, it all made sense. I love kids, and people, and was passionate about sharing the gospel, so it made sense to be a missionary. What I was hoping was to travel the world, make new friends, and teach something somewhere. I didn’t exactly know how I’d do it, but that’s what I wanted to do. Right now, I’m looking at maybe backing off from the idea of being a missionary. However, that doesn’t mean I can’t still do all those things that I wanted to.

My want to teach, and work with kids, and people, will never change. It’s a part of who I am, and whatever I choose to do in college will not change that want (I mean, I’ve been doing all of those things my entire life anyway). What I discovered, is that vocation is kind of irrelevant. Yes, I want to have a job I love, and that I’m good at. But, life isn’t about jobs.

We’re taught from such a young age that everything we do is prep for college. We go to school, grow up, go to college, and then after college is when our lives “start”. Well, that’s not how I’m gonna do it. I’m not gonna wait for college for my life to start. I mean, I’ve already done some incredible things without having gone to college (being that I was just a kid).

I don’t want college to be my main focus in life. Everything I’m working towards is not so I can get into college, or have a good career. It’s so that I can live the life God intended me to live, and love people, and reach out to them. That’s what I wanted to do through my mission work plan, and there’s no way anything’s gonna stop me from doing it in any other position. If that’s truly what I love, I should have no trouble doing it anywhere, or any place.

The Truth

When someone comes to me (clearly upset) and they ask for help, I’ve started to try to be really honest with them. Here’s an example question:

“I’m so nervouse/upset about this situation that’s coming up. I’m afraid I’ll fail. What if I screw up or totally fail?”

Some people would answer with, “Oh, no. You’ll do great.” Like, there’s no chance anything could go wrong. Well, news flash, there’s a ton of things that could go wrong.

In some situations, everything actually is fine, the person really doesn’t have anything to worry about, and they’re just freaking out over nothing. However, in others, they’re not actually prepared and they know it. Lying to someone by just saying, “You’ll do great,” is giving them this false sense of confidence. I’m not saying it’s bad to encourage them that way, but, when there are legitimate things to be nervous about, just ignoring them and hoping for the best doesn’t always work. In either situation, whether there are things to be nervous about or not, I try to help them (and myself) think about the realities of the situation.

I’m nervous pretty much every time I have an offertory to do at church. Not super nervous, I just know there are so many things that could go wrong no matter the amount of practice I have. Now, I can’t control what happens. The amount of worrying I do can only make my performance worse. So, something I try to do when I’m nervous and about to perform, is think about the lies and the truths. Observe:

Lie:

If I screw up, then I’ll never hear the end of it

Truth:

If I screw up, probably no one will remember, or really care

In every situation involving fear, it’s really just a battle of truths vs lies. That’s why, instead of just trying to make someone “feel better”, I try to help them see that they don’t have to believe the lies their fears tell them. I’m definitely gonna encourage them when the time seems right, but the time isn’t always right. Just making them “feel better” is like putting a band-aid on a wound that really needs a couple stitches. If you show them how to ignore the lies their fear tells them, then, eventually, they’ll have a much easier time dealing with fears in general. They’ll be better at fighting fear.

Skills

It was a delightful afternoon. I was sitting there, doing my math, and thinking, “Why couldn’t I have a useful skill?” I mean, not that I don’t like the skills that I do have, but why couldn’t I be good at math, or history, or science, or something that’d actually be useful in life?

My mom likes to joke about how my sister and I are both really good at all the things that are notorious for making people go broke. We’re good at art, music, photography, writing. Basically, if it’s impractical, we got it.

While I was doing my math, I wasn’t exactly annoyed; but I was sitting there wondering what the heck God was thinking when he made me. After the initial, “What the heck?!”, moment I had, I started to think about all things I can do that no one else can.

Through my art, I’ve really been able to reach people, and be raw with them, in a way I’ve never been able to before. I’ve been able to inspire people, and make them laugh, and show them beauty in so many different ways. I’ve been able to tell my story, and multiple others. I see the world differently, and through my art I can show people what I see. I can bring little joys into their lives.

I did a painting once that didn’t exactly turn out how I hoped, but I think it really became what it was supposed to.

It shows me swimming in a tranquil pool of my own thoughts, and creativity (that’s what the colors are). And, for all the sometimes my creativity is the exact opposite of what I need, it’s who I am, and it’s what I’m good at, and it’s what I’ve got to bring to the party. Everyone has their own stuff that they’re good at, and without everyone’s uniqueness, the world would be boring. It would become an unseasoned meal. So much potential to be tasty, but it’s just not there.

So, I decided to embrace my creativity and talents (not that I hadn’t already). I’m really good at what I do, and I’m really thankful for all the things I can do with it.