A Millennial’s Guide to Healthy Living on the Go — Part 2: Variety

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Welcome back to the Millennial’s Guide to Healthy Living on the Go! Did you start planning menus, workout plans or shopping lists? If so, great! If you missed part 1, click here to go back.

Part 2: Variety

Once you’ve been on a plan for a while, you may start to get bored. This is why fad diets often fail — because they expect you to do the same things over and over and over. If you’re looking to make a lifestyle change, it’s important to add some variety in all aspects of your plans to stay on track.

Sick of the same old chicken? Look up some new recipes! There are tons of healthy recipe bloggers out there that can help to spice up your dinner table. And don’t be afraid to experiment on your own, too!

If this is how you feel about what’s on your menu for this evening, it might be time to try something new.

Have fun with it — spend some time finding a delicious healthy recipe and plan to make it on a day where you have some extra time to play around in the kitchen.

Some of my favorite food blogs are Skinny Mom’s Kitchen, SkinnyTaste and Hungry Girl, but Pinterest is also a great way to find new recipes — just be conscious of the ingredients and be sure to keep tracking. You can check out my recipe board if you need some inspiration, but fair warning — not everything in there is healthy lifestyle friendly. Feel free to follow me while you’re at it ;)

You will probably develop a set of “go to” recipes as you get used to your new schedule, but it’s also important to switch it up and try new things once in a while to keep things interesting.

Each week, I almost always have a pasta meal and some type of grilled chicken, but I also try a new recipe every few weeks. If I like it, I add it to my recipe book so I can make it again.

Your workout may also start to get boring if you’ve been on the same schedule too long. You should vary your exercises and intensity so your workouts don’t get too easy for you. You won’t be bored if you’re pushing yourself hard enough.

Try a new workout class or a new machine. Increase the weight or duration of your workout. Vary which days you do which routines. Or try a new program or interval workout you find on the internet. Mix things up and don’t let yourself get in a rut!

Try using machines in a new way. (Warning: Do not attempt: this pup is a professional)

Try using machines in a new way.
(Warning: Do not attempt: this pup is a professional)

However you decide to vary your workout, make sure you’re getting a good mix of both intense cardio workouts and weight training for all your muscles. I usually try to include at least 2 or 3 intense cardio sessions, 1-2 days of ab exercises as well as weight training days for arms and legs.

Also, when you set a new schedule, make sure you aren’t doing the same exercises or machines every day. This will get old much quicker than a routine that is different every day.

Everyone has a different philosophy on what schedule is most effective. Longer cardio. Short intense cardio. Heavy lifting. But there is no magical formula — the key to success is commitment and hard work.

Just pick what works best for you and stick to it. This may take some trial and error. So if you’re not seeing results, increase your intensity and re-evaluate.

Here is an example of my current weekly workout schedule. For my weight training days I do a circuit of the weight machines, but you could try free weights, bands or whatever works best for you. I typically do 3 sets of 12 and increase my weight over time as it becomes too easy to lift.

  • Monday: (PM) Boot Camp class
  • Tuesday: (AM) 20 mins stair climber or treadmill intervals and arm weight training
  • Wednesday: (PM) 30 mins heart rate interval on the ARC Trainer and leg weight training
  • Thursday: (PM) Spin Class
  • Friday:  (AM) 30 mins heart rate interval  on the elliptical and ab exercises

Doing this helps me get to the gym every day, but also ensures that I don’t go too easy on myself. However, I also realize that this schedule must be flexible. I spend a few minutes every Sunday preparing for the week ahead to decide how I can fit my workout in.

For example, if I have an event after work on an evening workout day, I may work out in the morning that day. If my legs are sore, and I’m supposed to lift that day, I do arms instead and move legs to another day.

But I never let myself skip a workout. By specifying the exercises, duration and time of my daily workout, I prevent myself from making excuses to skip something or take an easy day.

When you start to lose motivation and you dread getting up in the morning or dragging yourself to the gym after work — It’s time to switch things up. 

Since I’m in grad school, I make a new schedule before every semester to best fit my class/work schedule. I plan out which days I’m going in the morning, over lunch, or after work, and I stick to it. I use a mix of group classes and individual workouts to keep me interested and accountable to myself. 

How do you vary your workouts and meals? What are some of your favorite recipes and exercise routines? Share below!

I also stumbled across this article today called “Why you’re not losing weight in your 20s” — check it out for some bonus tips!

The Top 10 Pieces of Advice I Stole from Someone Else

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Disclaimer: This advice isn’t an original creation from my brain or tips that I’ve generated based on my own experiences. These are simply snippets of advice that I’ve gained over the years from colleagues, mentors and supervisors. 

1. Run Toward the Fire

Unstable positions are the best experiences. When a company is going through a rough spot, there’s more work to go around, more job opportunities and you learn to work under pressure. So don’t run away from an ideal job description just because the company looks like a mess.

This also applies to internships and jobs that you dislike. You may hate it while you’re there, but I promise you — you learn the most from a bad experience. After a few months doing something you hate, you will know more about yourself and your strengths and weaknesses than any good experience could ever teach you.

2. Say yes/Say no

ALWAYS say yes to interesting opportunities. But say no to crappy assignments and don’t take on things that don’t interest you or seem pointless. I have to admit this piece of advice shocked me coming from a supervisor to a lowly peon.

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I think this is great advice for seasoned professionals —  you have to learn to say no, or you will end up with too much work and not enough time.

But if you’re an intern or a new hire, most  of the time you really don’t have the opportunity to say no. My opinion is that when you’re the low man on the totem pole, you should say YES as often as possible (while still being honest with yourself and your superiors about the amount of time you have).

Even a seemingly silly or useless project could expose you to someone or something that will lead you to a full-time position. As an intern or entry-level careerist, you should soak up as much information as possible and meet as many people as you can. You never know when an opportunity will strike, and it just might be when you’re passing out flyers in the lobby.

3. The myth of 110% — there is no such thing.

Focus on giving 100% and nothing more. Take opportunities when they arise, but also know when a project isn’t a good use of your time. Say no, but offer a solution. Try something like: “I don’t feel like I have time to project manage this on my own, and I want to be fair to you. Could I work with (another intern) or (a supervisor) so we can tackle this together?

And this brings me to #4…

4. Team up with peers rather than competing

This is particularly an issue in leadership development programs and summer internships. Everyone is trying so hard to stand out they forget they are also being judged on how well they can work together and as part of a team.

Even when you have a full-time job, you will have to work with people you may compete against in the future for a position. Don’t let competition derail your team work. Peers can be a great source of new skill sets and inside knowledge don’t over look them.

Although I consider myself competitive in many aspects, this has never really been a problem for me — though I’ve encountered it many times throughout my collection of internships. There always seems to be that one intern who wants to stand out so badly, that they’ll step on anyone and everyone to get to the top. But here’s the caveat, it rarely works. Your peers’ perception of you matters whether you like it or not.

5. Recognize your weaknesses and try to work on them whenever possible.

As a young professional you should know your weaknesses. And no, I don’t mean the BS ones that you give in a job interview only to turn into a positive. I mean your real, raw and serious shortcomings. Figure out what’s keeping you from getting your dream job and fix it. Mine are patience and public speaking. In a corporate environment, both of these are crucial and in my current position I am challenging these skills constantly which is a huge help.

But on the flip side…

6 . Recognize your strengths and your worth.

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Know what your good at and don’t be shy about it. Try: “Yes I can do that.” instead of “I think so” when a supervisor asks you to take on something knew. Own your skills and be your own champion. If you don’t believe in yourself, who else will?

7. Put yourself out of your comfort zone.

This piece of advice really stuck with me. It sounds so simple, but yet it is easier said than done.

For me particularly, I like to play it safe. I know my strengths and weaknesses (see #6 and 7 above) and I tend to choose projects and roles that fit well into what I know I am capable of. I resist change, and I don’t try new things as often as I should — even outside of work! This piece of advice came from a supervisor that I really admire, so it’s something I’m actively working on.

8. Focus on outcomes and accomplishments and not just “doing your job”

To excel and succeed in any position you have to go above and beyond what is asked. I learned this the hard way at my very first internship. It was an unpaid position where I received class credit and thus, a grade.

But when a boldfaced B reared it’s ugly face on my transcript I couldn’t understand why. “I did everything he asked of me!” But that was exactly the problem.

9. Strive for excellence and take pride in everything you do — big or small

As an intern or a recent grad, you’re going to do some less than exciting work and some things that you down right hate. But when you excel at even the most menial tasks, people will take notice and your level of work will increase. Don’t take any project for granted.

And finally…

10. Talent Always Wins

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The right people will move ahead and end up in the best positions.That’s what interview are for and it makes me so frustrated when people obsess over the “perfect” answers to the commonly asked interview questions.

Interviews are designed to get to know you. Not some fabricated version of you that you think is what the HR manager is looking for. The interviewers job is to find the right person for the position.

And if you’re shooting for a promotion, where they already know you — it’s not about who works harder, it’s about who has the right personality, skill set and mentality for the job. Sometimes you may not even understand why someone thinks you’re great at something or not so much — sometimes others can see things about you that you can’t. Learn your strengths by listening to what others have to say about you. Play to your strengths, and as you move up the ladder, you will build a team of professionals that make up for the qualities you lack.

That’s it! I hope some of these tips stick with you like they did with me. Got any other tips to share? I’d love to hear them!

My Parents House — Moving Out and Moving On

This past weekend I went home for Father’s Day — to see good old Dad and spend some quality time with friends and family. I’m always glad to be home, but I couldn’t shake this funny feeling that something was different.

First, I couldn’t connect to the WiFi. Nothing says “You don’t live here any more” like a new internet password.

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Then, unlike when I came home to visit from college everyone seemed too busy to chat about what was going on with me.

And I probably sound like a spoiled brat saying that, but I’m not trying to insinuate that my parents don’t care about me or that I needed more attention. That’s NOT the point.

The point is. Life is going on at home without me. And I am going on with life on my own.

And these weren’t the first signs.

Although it  doesn’t look quite this bad now, a few months ago when I went home, my bedroom looked like this:

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My parents had new carpet installed up stairs, so ALL of our furniture found it’s way into my childhood bedroom. My bed was just a mattress on the floor, and I had three different dressers, none of which were filled with my clothes.

This time, my bed was back in its frame, but there are still quite a few pieces of furniture and packed boxes that don’t belong.

But I’m not complaining.

No really.

I’ve told my parents a dozen times that they should paint over my pink walls, take down my Marilyn Monroe posters and move in to the bigger room. But they won’t do it until I’m fully employed somewhere and out on my own for good.

But in my own mind — I’m already there.

When I was in college, my parents house was still my home.

It was my sanctuary. It was a pace away from roommates, homework and a break from the chaos.

But now, it’s just my parents house.

A place I visit. The place I grew up.

Now — as crazy as it sounds — I feel at home in my tiny, white walled, New Jersey apartment. And while I do miss my family and friends (a lot and often!), I don’t miss my home.

I’m not a person who dwells on the past. I have good memories and like to reminisce, but I feel like I’ve lived every part of my life (so far!) to the fullest.

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“Don’t let the past steal your present.”
–Terri Guillemets

This is the same reason that I don’t miss college.

I often lie when people ask “Don’t you miss Penn State?!” But the truth is… I don’t. I’ve moved on from that part of my life, and I’m happy where I’m at. I’m excited about what the future has to offer, and I would never want to take a step backward, even if I had the opportunity to relive something.

While it may be strange to go home to a place that no longer feels like mine, I know it is all for the best. It’s a sign of growing up and moving on.This is a turning point in my life where I am becoming my own person and starting to build my own family. I will never forget where I came from, but right now I’m more focused on where I’m headed.