Living life off-line

In the beginning of the year I made a post titled “My relationship with social media” where I talked about how I intended to use social media versus how I was actually using it.

A few months ago I decided to stop using my Instagram accounts. I don’t go on Facebook at all and I use Twitter minimally to promote my writing.

To be honest, I got tired of the barrage of advertisements, especially those in the guise of “health” posts meant to “inform” readers. I also got tired of the habit of scrolling, mindlessly, and seemingly endlessly.

I didn’t feel like Instagram was serving the purpose I intended it to, which was promoting my writing. Mostly because, I wasn’t actively writing on my blog.

Probably because I was perpetually scrolling.

I’m tired of contrived posts that are mostly overt or subliminal advertisements.

I also felt that my energy could be better spent in other areas of my life. I wanted to be more present when with my family, friends, and boyfriend.

I genuinely enjoy thoughtfully listening to my friends and giving them feedback when asked. But instead I was spending my time giving blanket advice to random people instead of engaging in quality conversations with my real-life friends.

It all felt so inauthentic. And honestly a little creepy. I’d like to say that knowing the extensive details of others lives was getting to be TMI, but it wasn’t. It makes for some good reading and consumer research.

Constant exposure to Instagrammers who share every intimate detail of their lives inspired me, but it also began to desensitize me.

I needed a change.

So, I left.

It’s not like I was on social media everyday, but most days I was. I’ve gone without social media in the past so it wasn’t like I had to wean myself off. I didn’t know how long I was going to log-off for, I didn’t (and I still don’t) have any type of plan. I’m just doing what feels right.

I just decided one day that I was done. I’m not claiming that all social media usage leads to negative habits, but I do believe that regular social media usage can be unhealthy.

I think I may elaborate on that one in a different post so, stay-tuned.

I really really have been enjoying living my life off-line. I love that people don’t have 24/7 access to what I’m doing and can’t scroll back to the beginning of my timeline and know exactly where I was or what I was thinking on any given day for the past few years.

Not that I think people care that much, but it’s the thought that gives me closure.

I never have to justify my haircut in 2015 ever again.

You see, privacy is so immensely under-rated.

As a millennial (I make the cut at ’94) I grew up with social media. More specifically, I grew up ON social media. Some of the most defining moments of my adolescent development happened on the Facebook timeline, to my chagrin.

I’ve learned a lot about myself in the past few months that I’ve spent apart from social media.

You won’t catch me regularly updating my “story” any time soon. But you can still read my blogs.

I hadn’t realized that it has been 5 months since I posted on dearfitkris.com!!! And it begs another reason why I feel more free since ditching social media–I don’t owe anyone any explanations.

With that being said, these past 5 months I’ve been making memories with Gio and my dear friends/family, focusing on school, and working a lot (check out the weekly articles and videos I’ve been making for my local newspaper here).

I’ve also wanted to distance myself from the traditional ‘fitness’ sphere because my perspectives on a lot of trends in health and wellness have shifted.

Which is why I’m expanding my blog post topics beyond fitness, not because I’m going to stop writing about traditional mainstream health topics, but because I have so much more to share.

Thanks for reading.

Be well,

Kristen xx

Finish the year strong

Okay so first off, forgive yourself for all the Christmas cookies you inevitably ate today and stop talking about how you “need” to start a diet.

Be gentle with yourself and let your mind and body readjust from the holiday festivities back to normal life.

Don’t be in a rush to make New Years Eve plans.

Let yourself breath a little.

If you don’t have some swanky party to go to for New Years that doesn’t mean your 2019 isn’t about to be insanely successful.

Finish out 2018 strong by prioritizing yourself.

Think about it, you just spent the past couple weeks brainstorming the best way to make the holidays a special time for your loved ones, purchasing gifts, making time for family parties, and finishing those work projects before their respective deadlines.

Now it’s time to focus on YOU.

If you’re introverted, you might find yourself needing more time at home with a good book to recharge. Or, as an extrovert, you might want to spend time with close friends to feel inspired.

Remove any added stressors in your life.

Has scrolling through Instagram got you feeling down or overwhelmed lately? Delete the app.

You can always re-download social media once you’ve centered yourself.

This also goes for certain people, and places that bring about unwanted feelings or simply don’t produce joy in your life–you can do without them.

Your time and mental energy are best spent on activities that bring you the most fulfillment.

Once you rid yourself of mental clutter, move on to your physical space.

Throw away, give away, or re-purpose the things that have been cluttering up your house, car, and office.

Get a new calendar and start marking down important dates, doctors appointments, pre-determined self-care days, and make it pretty!

It’s fun to plan and it helps to reduce stress.

Remember, you don’t have to prove that you’ve evolved in 2018 and that 2019 is going to be the year you pay off all your debt, start that business you’ve been dreaming of, become the political figure head of a small country etc.

You’ve accomplished so many great things these past 12 months, and no doubt you will in the preceding 12 months. But don’t feel like you need everything to happen for you all at once.

And don’t think that it won’t all happen eventually, because it will!

In good time, all good things take time.

Be well xx.

What A Gratitude Practice Is And Why You Need One

What is a Gratitude Practice and Why You Need One

It seems that the word “gratitude” is a big buzz word these days, especially within the health conscious community. It is nearly tied for first with “mindfulness” on this century’s holistic health hot topics list.

And not without good reason! Gratitude is such an important emotion to feel, and state of mind to cultivate.

When we feel grateful for what we have it releases endorphins and serotonin within our brains that help to strengthen our immune systems and stave of mental health calamities.

But you don’t just have to take my word for it. There are numerous studies and articles that detail the immense physical and mental benefits of gratitude. Psychology Today published a great break down of the key ways that gratitude helps us cope.

Just as people put the philosophical and physical components of yoga into practice, a gratitude practice can be developed.

It’s simple to start with these three easy steps.

1. Set a goal for yourself — something realistic, maybe once or twice a week to start. Give yourself a specific amount of time and set a timer on your watch or phone.

2. Sit down with yourself on the time you’ve set aside and think about all the ways you feel blessed, or all the people in your life that you love and that love you.

Think about all the support you have and all the compassion you plan to continue treating yourself with as you face life’s peaks and valleys.

3. Consider creating a gratitude journal where you record these thoughts and feelings. This will come in handy on those rough days where you go to sit down only to feel frustrated because you’re not feeling particularly grateful. Instead of loosing patience and giving up, you can crack open that beautiful gratitude journal you’ve been keeping and review previous accounts of what you were grateful for.

Maybe one week it was that small favor a stranger went out of their way to do for you. Or maybe it was something big you wanted to sit with, and feel, like the fact that your cardiovascular system makes it possible to breathe the soothing breaths of fresh air you need when you feel overwhelmed.

It’s your journal. There are no rules, all of the intricate thoughts you have or just plain silly ones come in handy in moments where you need to reconnect with yourself.

Stay consistent with your gratitude practice.

Set reminders in your phone or write it in your planner.

Gratitude creates a strong foundation of abundance that doesn’t allow for the erosive cracks of lack to destroy all that you’ve already built within your life.

Be kind, be good, be grateful 🙏🏼!

Welcome to my blog!

Welcome to dearfitkris, your go-to place for all things wellness!

Mission statement:

I intend for dearfitkris to be a space where myself and others can cultivate knowledge by participating in important conversations regarding what it means to be in good-health. My definition of healthy encompasses physical fitness, mental health, and well-being on a soul level.

What does health mean to me?

To me, health means to be kind to oneself. Health is patience and self-acceptance. Health isn’t something you have one day and then lose the next. ‘Healthy’ is not something you can’t be if you aren’t physically well. It also shouldn’t be assumed that those who aren’t inherently ill are healthy by these same standards.

Wellness is a state of mind and a way of being. Health is something that you have to cultivate and tend to. It is a way of being with yourself that requires the secure establishment of relationships with your body, the outside world, and how you choose to intermingle the two through what you feed yourself nutritionally, and what you consume through your consciousness.

Healthy is not something that you are magically marked based on your lack of physical, mental, or emotional ailments. Being deemed “healthy” is often defined as the absence of illness. But it is so, so very much more, than that.

Frankly, defining health is a very personal thing. Not everyone’s picture of health is going to look the same. I hope to guide you on your journey to discovering what being healthy looks like for YOU!

Thank you for visiting my site. You can find a collection of my writing linked here!

Seriously, it means the world to me that out of all the fitness-blog joints in this town you wandered into my personal spot.

I can’t wait to learn, share, and grow with you.

Until next time–

Be well.

Basketball as a workout

Are there machines in the gym you see someone using and realize that you never even knew it existed?

You’re curious, but not wanting to leave your comfort-zone, you eyeball it from afar until you eventually forget it exists again and use the same few pieces of equipment that you’re familiar with?

Today’s equipment review will be of something commonly found a community fitness centers:

THE BASKETBALL

What is it? A leather ball that is inflated to bounce, approximately 9inches in diameter.

What can you do with it? Shoot hoops, run dribbling drills, pass drills, and play games. Keep in mind that you don’t necessarily need a hoop, or even a court for that matter, to workout using a basketball.

Functional fitness rating: 7/10 because basketballs are so versatile they can be used for a variety of cardio drills and agility training, I am giving this piece of gym equipment a high score. In this score I am also factoring in that you can incorporate a game of basketball or H-O-R-S-E in with a friend to keep your workout fun by adding that social component.

Blossom this Spring

Set some time aside for yourself today and just be.

Don’t put any limitations on yourself by having expectations of a certain outcome. Just sit, breath and be good company to yourself.

Allow space for your inhibitions to leave you, making way for a consciousness of only breath.

There is nowhere you need to be.

Nothing that needs to be done.

No you that you need to be better than.

There is just this moment.

And in this moment where you sit with yourself, listen to your body. Stretch. Relax. Lay down. Hum yourself a song. Breath heavily, loudly, and with purpose.

You are everything you need in this moment.

There is a line in the Tao Te Ching that reads:

The Master observes the world but trusts his inner vision.

He allows things to come and go. His heart is open as the sky.

-Lao Tzu

Don’t over think it.

Don’t over think anything, not this blog post, not that quote.

Just breath and let these words resonate with the wisdom that is already within you, effortlessly. You don’t need to try to understand. Because at a fundamental, spiritual level you just do.

I wanted to write a blog post about meditation without overtly stating it because that word can scare people.

It sounds like such an unattainable concept that brings visions of monks in the forest sitting still for hours.

But it’s not unattainable. It’s something that you can practice in your own home, with children playing around and the kitchen’s pots and pans clanking about. You can meditate in your car before work, at the gym in the sauna, while you run, before you sleep, right here… wherever you are right now.

There is no failing.

There is only learning.

My meditation practice that I wrote about previously has change the way that I react to stressors in my life, it has also created a beautiful space where I can honor my feelings without acting on them.

On my run the other day I entered a meditative state. I began to write a poem in my head. I am a poet by trade and by passion, but I haven’t published any poetry in this forum.

Not yet anyway, but Spring brings the possibility of new things to unfold, new stories to tell, and old buds to bloom once more.

Be well friends, and breathe well.

Favorite recent reads and listens

This month I’ve been on a super tight schedule, but posting is still very much a priority of mine :)!

Expect 1 new post every week.

Today, as promised, I’m giving an overview of my favorite reads and listens aka books, articles, websites, and podcasts of this month so far.

Lately, I’ve been enjoying and learning a lot from the TED Radio Hour sponsored by NPR on Spotify podcasts.

My recommendations:

Circular

Where Joy Hides

Quiet

The Food We Eat

What Makes Us… Us

All of these can be found on the Spotify App.

As for reading, I recommend:

My most recent article for The Record Journal on American Heart Health Month

Hike safe

It’s Official: 2018 Was The Fourth Warmest Year on Record

The 100 Dollar Start-Up (the book)

Tao Te Ching, Stephen Mitchell edition

Enjoy!

Be well xx.

My relationship with social media

Hello loyal readers,

Did you miss me this past Tuesday?

I missed you!

But, with Spring semester in session I’ve allowed myself a bit more flexibility in my posting schedule. I will keep you posted with any changes (pun intended).

I’ve decided to reserve one of my two posting day per week (Tues/Thurs) to keep you updated on my favorite articles/books/podcasts that I’ve been reading or listening to.

Stay tuned for that!

Now, let’s get to discussing my relationship with social media.

Since Autumn I’ve been making a conscious effort to wean myself off social media. Not because I saw my usage of it as a problem, but simply because I found myself habitually using it in ways that don’t serve me.

I felt like social media had began to drain both my time and energy (see my energy vampire post for more info).

Yesterday, I went on a walk through a wooded trail & found myself moved to skip and twirl to the music I was listening to. And so, I did. Without thinking twice about my skips and twirls looking silly, I let the music move me.

I spun around and around jamming out until I became dizzy. Then, laughingly, spinning in the opposite direction in an attempt to undo all the spins that initiated my dizziness. Knowing full well it would only exacerbate the feeling of being off- balance.

I let myself be. Wishing that my niece were with me because surely she’d want to race through the woods, examining all the flora and fauna we passed by, with the keen scientist eye that only children have.

With no one behind me and only my dancing shadow ahead, I spun and spun until the song I was listening to slowly faded into another one.

Afterwards, I beamed in appreciate of this special moment with myself where I paid homage to my inner child, not feeling compelled to share it on my Instagram or in any snapshot.

I did make a mental note to tell my niece, because I knew she would find the same joy in my incessant twirling. This time just spent being me, for me alone, is so precious.

I decided to share this experience here today because I want to remind you all to do something fun and allow yourself to find joy in small things.

I learned years ago that my life is honestly all around better the less time I spend mindlessly scrolling through social media apps. I do enjoy researching and reading about topics I’m interested in through social media. I’m also very grateful for the relationships I’ve built through social media.

I’ve learned how to use it properly, through trial and error. Like for instance, I don’t use Facebook. I have a few accounts I’ve made over the years but they remain inactive (I don’t even know how to use the app). I discovered years ago, that my relationship with Facebook would never resemble a healthy one because of the FOMO (fear of missing out) it gave me. So, I haven’t really used it since.

My Twitter account is used to post updates about my blog posts, but it used to be one of the major ways that I got my news. Always being bombarded with shocking new stories that had yet to even by verified made for an emotional rollercoaster. I began to find this way of using social media burdensome, so I adjusted.

It’s all about defining boundaries in my relationship with social media apps. I feel as though I’ve gotten pretty good at that.

Instagram has been my primary social media outlet for years.

But recently I’ve discovered, the less I use my phone the more connected to my actual real life I feel. This inadvertently includes social media.

I have very sacred nighttime and morning rituals that don’t involve my phone.

During the day if I do happen to open the Instagram app a reminder pops up “You’ve spent 5 minutes on Instagram today” based on the setting I’ve chosen.

My weekly screen time has gone down considerably in the past weeks, and so have my stress levels.

I alluded to a less active Instagram account in my post about my goals for the new year. Not because anything is less interesting or “Instagram worthy” in my life, but simply because I’m living to experience it and not to document it.

One of my goals for 2019 was to take less superfluous pictures, I’m crushing that goal. And I plan to keep it up!

So, if you don’t see me as much on your feed don’t take it personally. I’m supporting you from afar. I have no plans to forego social media completely.

Social media has its place in my life, just not a very big one.

Thanks for reading.

Be well xx.

Community: Women’s Health 4 of 4

Communities of women have been the cornerstone of society since the beginning of time.

Sometimes, the overlooked or neglected cornerstone, but still an integral part of the fabric of humanity nonetheless.

It’s so important that there be places where women can go where they feel safe and supported in discussing all of their struggles and ambitions.

This goes beyond family and friend groups.

Organizations whose primary missions are to empower women need to be given regular recognition.

For more information on these check out this article on Mental Floss.

I was disappointed to discover that the first two articles I came across when researching for this post completely negated talking about WHY communities dedicated to furthering the involvement of women in positions of leadership are so essential.

One article was disguised as a “tips for creating a women empowerment group” but was actually a chocolate candy advertisement!

The other, completely dismissed the societal disparities that make it more difficult for women to succeed in business than men by claiming fundamental human fears like “failing” were exclusive to women and explicitly stated that “family life” and low esteem hold women back in the work place.

Whether or not it was intended by the authors, these articles completely dismissed the concerns of women in modern society.

I would even venture to say that these articles are complicit in furthering a culturally homogenized and offensively stereotypical view of women’s needs.

No, we don’t need to be more fearless.

No, we don’t need to be told that we can’t both be caregivers in our home life and successful entrepreneurs.

And no, we definitely don’t need to be subjected to anymore repressive marketing schemes.

Thank u, business mogul for your insight and small town blogger for all things Dove– next.

But for every misguided attempt to draw attention to women in business, and supportive communities where women can thrive, there are many more that drive the point home.

If you’re reading this blog and wondering, what can I do? How can I contribute?

I want you to know that girl squads don’t have to by synonymous with pop singers.

You can get your female friends and colleagues together to discuss your current academic or professional pursuits (for many of you both) and find local women’s groups in your area that also support a dialogue between women and their communities.

In my hometown of Wallingford, CT our local recreation center has an active women’s group. My college campus also has many support groups, clubs, and opportunists for students to talk about social justice and empowerment.

Remember that your voice matters. And know that your gender doesn’t (or shouldn’t) define the parameters of your success.

Women, women of color especially, and transgender women specifically, are massively underrepresented in politics, business, research, and positions of leadership.

Even though women make up more than half the U.S. workforce, earn more than 60% of the bachelors and master’s degrees awarded in the country each year– we make up only 8.1% of top earners in the country.

Women make up more than 80% of consumer spending in the U.S., yet only 3% are creative directors of advertising.

Jaw = floor.

Check out the link I provide here for more of these jarring stats.

If you don’t know where to start when forming a community of likeminded individuals committed to social justice, start by opening a dialogue.

Simple discussion is enough to turn the mind’s wheels, creating inspired thoughts, thoughts that lead to action, and that action insights change.

Share this blog post with a woman who inspires you.

Be well xx.

Mental disorders: Women’s health 3 of 4

Discussing mental health seems to make people uncomfortable. Albeit, we’ve come a very long way since the start of the century where people were made to feel morally corrupt or impaired for having mental health issues.

There is still plenty of stigma around mental illnesses; ranging from addiction, anxiety, OCD, eating disorders, schizophrenia, personality disorders, –just to name a few. Not to mention the many sub-types of the various psychological disorders found in the DSM-IV.

Aside for explicit diagnosed mental health issues there is always the major factor of excessive STRESS that can wreak absolute havoc in the otherwise mentally healthy person’s life.

Continuing to discuss stress and how it exacerbates mental illness is a top agenda for the world’s leading health professionals.

Making sure this topic garners the attention it deserves is one of my main goals for dearfitkris.

It’s estimated that more than 1 in 5 women have experienced some lapse of mental well-being within the past year.

That’s a ton of women.

My mind immediately goes to myself, my two sisters, my mother, and my grandmothers.

That’s over five women just right there.

An article in Psychology Today states that women are 40% more likely to develop depression than men and 2x as likely to develop PTSD.

Luckily, there are so many precious and valuable resources available to people who are struggling.

There are also many efforts within online forums and communities to END THE STIGMA ON MENTAL ILLNESS which is so incredible.

I believe one of the most beneficial actions we can take to end the stigma for those who suffer from psychological disorders is to simply talk about them.

Just as a person with diabetes might divulge information and facts about their condition, how they treat it, as to normalize the checking of blood glucose level and administering of insulin, someone with a psychological illness might wish to do the same. And if they do, they should feel comfortable and safe in disclosing their personal health information.

Tips for self-care, mindfulness, and effective practice of meditation should be traded enthusiastically and regularly.

People with mental health disorders shouldn’t be made to feel like they did this to themselves or that they have failed in someway.

For instance, an individual who has depression should feel comfortable discussing how–just as a person with diabetes, they don’t choose to have this condition, how they treat it, and their triumph in managing their symptoms.

They should revel in the fact that they have been brave enough to see a medical professional, and had their condition diagnosed.

Seeking medical help is the most important part of recognizing when something isn’t right.

Leaning on friends and family for emotional support is helpful, but it can only get you so far.

Mental health is not something that should be brushed aside because people think it’s incidental, or worse, because people are ashamed.

No one should be made to feel like a bad person for their mental health condition.

We cannot choose what happens chemically in our brains, but we can choose how we decide to deal with a perceived malfunction going forward.

It’s important to make the choice to talk to a trained medical professional when you notice things are off or when your stress load is getting to be too much and you’re having trouble winding down.

Think about your deteriorating mental health like any other physical illness. You cut your finger. You notice the cut on your finger hasn’t gone away, you assure yourself it’s nothing and it will subside on it’s own (think of the cut as the panic you feel daily when driving and your finger as your mental health). You let weeks go by and now your finger looks worse– like it might be infected (your panicked thoughts seeped into other areas of your life now and are affecting just more than your driving) before you know it you can lift your finger (you don’t want to leave the house).

But how could this be, it was just a little cut?

How could this be, it was just a little anxiety?

Don’t set yourself up for bewilderment that your symptoms have completely taken over your life. Take these signs of imbalance seriously.

I implore anybody who has recognized symptoms of waning mental wellness seek the help of a licensed psychiatrist, psychologist, or social worker.

Ask your primary care physician for recommendations for mental health professionals and explore the wealth of resources online that are available to you.

If you are in college, your school should have a wellness center with trained psychologists to assist you in times of need. These services are usually of no cost to you.

See if a trusted friend or family member would be willing to accompany you to your appointments and do something fun with you afterwards.

Now with the Spring semester beginning, it’s important to recognize when we feel overwhelmed, then take time for ourselves, and get the support that we both need and deserve!

Let this post serve as a reminder that YOU ARE NOT ALONE in your struggles.

You are vibrant, resilient, and there are people out there who want to help you manage your stress.

If you or someone you know is struggling check out the resources available at the National Institute of Mental Health.

Be well xx.