12 Signs That You Are a “Pre-Adult”

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Not a girl, not yet a woman, the cliff I’m standing on is symbolic of something but I don’t know what

I’ve always thought it’s a little weird that, from a developmental perspective, childhood has so many specific phases–you have “infant,” “toddler,” “child,” “preteen,” “teenager,”–and then, once you hit 18, it’s just “adult,” for the rest of your life, until you’re considered a “senior” at age 65. As if you’re in the same state at 18 that you are at 64, or something like that. It’s weird. I get that the changes between an infant and a toddler are much, much more dramatic than between a 21-year-old and a 27-year-old, but it’s still weird. And that’s why I’ve taken it upon myself to coin a new term (at least I think it’s new? Let’s just say it is)–“pre-adult.” A pre-adult is, for all intents and purposes, somebody who likes the idea of being a mature, shit-together adult, but isn’t quite there yet. Kind of like Britney Spears’, “I’m not a girl, not yet a woman,” shebang, minus that whole cliff-symbolism thing.

1. The idea of waking up early at 7 am on a Saturday with a fresh cup of coffee and a crossword puzzle, with a beautiful blank day in front of you, sounds really nice. Unfortunately, so does staying out at the bars until 3 am the night before.

2. You’re irrationally proud of yourself for doing basic human tasks, like laundry and cleaning your bathroom. One day, these things will become automatic, and you won’t be as proud of yourself for doing them. But today is not that day.

3. You’re old and mature enough to know that the right thing to do is to walk up to somebody and just tell you that you like them, but you’re still young enough to have a friend do it.

4. You get equally excited over the idea of doing something fun on the weekend or doing absolutely nothing on the weekend.

5. You find a brand-new recipe on Pinterest that you’re super excited to try, but have to severely alter it because the only spices on your spice rack are basil and ketchup.

6. You flip-flop between wanting to be more “responsible” and wanting to be more “fun” on almost a daily basis. And you’re still young enough to feel like it’s nearly impossible to strike the perfect balance of both.

7. Occasionally, something you see makes me you really, really excited to have kids, but then you walk into your kitchen and find a shoe in your microwave and go, “Eh, better wait a few more years.”

8. Whenever you’re at a house party, you feel like it’s super incredibly cramped and uncomfortable and sweaty, and also it’s really boring because everybody there is just trying to get as wasted as possible, and also why is everybody 12 years old? But you’re still there.

9. You’ve started looking into alternative fun things to do on the weekend besides bars, such as music festivals, dance classes, cooking classes, etc. Unfortunately, either nobody else wants to go with you, or you decide it’s too much time and effort, so bars it is.

10. Before flirting with somebody, you’re always sure to check for a ring on the finger. Unfortunately, you’re at the age where a lot of people are in serious, committed, relationships, but not ready for marriage, so there’s no visible sign of their commitment.

11. Every time you stay in on a popular going-out night to study or do something else grown-up and responsible, you think that some magic decisions-rewarding fairy is going to come swooping into your room and give you a gold star for being so virtuous. You’re mature enough to not “YOLO” it and go out anyways, but immature enough to feel like you deserve a reward for doing so.

12. You turn down a Natty Light, because you’re too mature to drink something so watery and disgusting. Unfortunately, this means you’re still in a situation where Natty Light is being served.

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Redefining Your “Happy Place”

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Let me guess….when you think “happy place,” you probably think of a warm, sunny beach. Or maybe at the top of the mountain. Maybe you think of a beloved childhood spot, that reminds you of simpler times. Everybody has something that immediately jumps to mind when they think of a “happy place.” And we all need that happy place–we really do. We need that place we can immediately think of that brings up feelings of complete calmness, relaxation, joy, and peace. We need something to calm us, something to inspire us, something to soothe us. A happy place can do all of those things.

The problem with so many of our “happy places,” however, is that, by their very nature, they’re unattainable in our everyday life. We can’t just off and go to an Caribbean Island in the middle of a stressful day at work, as much as we’d like to. We all know that things wouldn’t work out very well if every day was Christmas. And we definitely can’t travel back in time to when we were 5. So whenever you think of your “happy place,” whether you’re in a yoga class, going to sleep, or just trying to calm yourself, there’s always that little part of you that’s thinking, “Yeah, beaches are great. BUT I’M NOT AT THE BEACH RIGHT NOW, AM I?” So sometimes, thinking of that far-off, distant “happy place” can really just make things worse.

Luckily, there’s a whole lot of things in our everyday lives that can serve as a surrogate “happy place.” No, they’re probably not going to be as cool as a private island in the Bahamas, unless you happen to live a super badass life. But–and this is just as cool–you can get to them in your everyday life! You might not be able to every day, whether for logistical, financial, or other reasons, but they’re attainable.

I know it sounds a little crazy, but I bet you’ve already had one or two places jump to mind–places that you go in your everyday life that feel like a treat, an escape, or both. They don’t just pop up in your everyday life, and they’re not routine, but they’re close enough that you can always get to them when you’re stressed, tired, or just feeling a little “bleh” and could use a pick-me-up. And the stupider, the better! There’s no room for judgment when it comes to happy places (unless your happy place is a place where you murder people. Not cool man, not cool). If you need inspiration, here are some of mine:

-Panera. Duh.
-Target. Also duh.
-Local hiking trails (there are probably WAY more in your area than you may think)
-Or if you’re feeling lazier, just walking/jogging around a local lake or park
-Eppley. Please don’t throw rocks at me. I just really enjoy going to the gym and feel happier when I do. Again, please don’t throw rocks at me.
-Natural grocery stores. I. LOVE. NATURAL GROCERY STORES.
-Amusement parks–a little less attainable and definitely expensive, but I went with a friend a few weeks ago and we had SO much fun.
-Local farmer’s markets–similar to natural grocer’s, but with the added perk of being outside 🙂
-Pick-your-own places! Especially now that apple season is coming up, which is definitely one of the best fruits to pick
-It’s called happy hour for a reason! Even if you go every day, sometimes it’s nice to just really sit back and appreciate how nice it is to be there.
-Going to local stores and playing with a puppy there. The pups are usually dying for exercise, so the employees will usually let you.

So there’s mine, and I’m sure you can think of an endless number of ones on your own. They can be places you go to alone or with a friend, nearby or more of a “day trip,” free or not, outdoors or not, places you frequent often or places you go only once every few months. The only important thing is that it makes you happy 🙂

Introducing Your New Favorite Dinner Recipe

Ok seriously, if you have an apartment in college and don’t use a crockpot, I don’t know how you’re going about your daily life. I really don’t. Crockpots are AMAZING–especially if you’re like me and can’t bear the thought of waiting more than 15 minutes for your dinner to be ready. All you have to do is put whatever ingredients you’re using in at the beginning of the day, set the cook heat to “low,” leave for the day’s activities, come back 8-10 hours later, and boom. Done. For a lot of students, that’s right when you’re walking back through the door anyway. Also, you only have to do this about once a week if you make a large batch, and then you’ll have delicious leftovers for the rest of the week!

And there are INFINITE possibilities for crockpot recipes (I’m sorry I’m so excited about crockpots. I’m sorry I’m not sorry). All you have to do is Google “crockpot recipes,” and you’ll get a whole smorgasbord of stuff that pops up. But my favorite recipe so far, the one that’s so ridiculously easy that it’s almost stupid, has been Salsa Chicken. Ready to learn how to make Salsa Chicken?

Ok, so you put the chicken (I used 3 pounds of chicken thighs, although you could use whatever cut of meat you wanted. Just make sure that whatever cut it is, it’s boneless. Learned that one the hard way) in the crockpot:

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(Side note? Does anyone else think raw chicken looks delicious? Nope? Just me? Okay then)

Then you cover it in salsa (I used a whole jar for this recipe):

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Cook it on low for 8-10 hours, shred it with a fork, debone if you picked the wrong cut of meat like I did, and voila! I didn’t snap a picture of it fresh in the crockpot, but here’s what the final product looks like:

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There are an endless variety of ways to use Salsa Chicken. I’ve used it on sandwiches, in salads, in omelets, and….my favorite way…..you can use it to recreate a Chipotle burrito bol!

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Allow me to explain, because I’m just really excited about this new revelation. I was having a serious Chipotle craving yesterday, so of course I took care of business by going to Chipotle. It was exactly as delicious as you’d think, but while I was eating it, I was thinking, “Ya know, this actually wouldn’t be that hard to make at home.” Plus, DIY Chipotle could save money and avoid some of those pesky lines. I needed to go grocery shopping anyways, so I picked up some of the necessary ingredients yesterday and lay in wait.

As it turned out, I am by no means opposed to having Mexican burrito bowls two nights in a row because I am a human being, with feelings and needs. And tonight I came home HUNGRY. I taught two back-to-back classes at Eppley, and then had to run a whole bunch of errands, meaning I had to miss my beloved TTC meeting (:() and that if I had to wait any longer than 15 minutes for dinner to be ready, I would probably just abandon all hope and eat a block of cheese or whatever.

Luckily, as long as you have the right ingredients, making a homemade Chipotle burrito bowl is SUPER easy, guys! I started by preparing one of those Uncle Ben brown rice-in-a-bag things (no pictures because that’s boring), and stirred the contents into the bowl pictured above. Then I added some lettuce and a little of each of these guys:

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(Yes, I bought storebought guacamole and pico de gallo. Sue me. Even if I wanted to, I don’t have the kitchen equipment to sit around cutting veggies).

Then you mix em all up, and BOOM! I know I already showed the picture, but I’m showing it again because it’s so pretty:

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That was meant ironically. It wasn’t exactly pretty, but it WAS delicious–and super filling! It normally takes a lot of food to fill me up, and that definitely did the trick.

That’s all for now–hoping you’re all having a good start to your week!

Attention Everybody: Stop Making Such a Big Deal Out of the “Freshman 15”

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So this was found in one of UMD’s dining halls (photo cred to my friend Meghna who is one of the co-founders of Project HEAL, a new club on campus promoting eating disorder awareness).

Soooo yeah.

This might not seem all that bad at first. After all, healthy eating’s good, right? I’m totally an advocate of eating healthy foods–I truly believe that eating the right nutrients makes you feel better and function better on a daily basis. That being said, there are a LOT of things not okay with this well-meaning yet misguided sign.

First of all, let’s talk about the “dieting downfall” sentence. Dieting downfall? In order to have a dieting downfall in the first place, you need to have a diet. But how do you know that the people reading this sign are on a diet? How do you know that people reading this sign should be on a diet? Sure, sometimes people mean “diet” to refer to one’s general overall pattern of food choices and not the active restriction of foods in order to achieve a lower body weight, but I think we all know that college students–especially college girls–are probably going to think of the latter. It’s such a small phrase, but the words we read and hear can have a lot of impact on us. Who knows if reading this sign made a perfectly healthy girl go, “Dieting downfall? Shit! Does that mean I’m supposed to be on a diet? Alright, guess that’s what I’m supposed to do!”

In fact, the negative language of this innocent-looking little sign just reinforces so many of the stereotypes that eating disorder patients–and those prone to developing them–internalize. Instead of, “Eat more fruits and vegetables so that you’ll feel better and have more energy,” it’s, “Avoid crab dip because it has a lot of fat and calories. And don’t forget, fat and calories are ALWAYS bad, even though they’re essential to life. So you should never eat them ever, even at a tailgate, otherwise you’ll just be a big fatty fat fatso, and we CAN’T have that!”

Which brings me to my main point: can we please stop talking about the Freshman 15 as if it is the most terrible, awful, apocalyptically sinful thing that could EVER happen to somebody ever? First of all, there’s no empirical evidence that the Freshman 15 even exists. Studies say that people are more likely to only gain about three pounds, and if you’re terribly fearful about gaining three pounds, you have more issues than this article can help you with. And even if it does exist, and if you do gain a little weight during the semester, why is this such a terrible thing?

College freshmen have a lot of shit to adjust to as it is. It’s no coincidence that freshman year is one of the most vulnerable times for a person to develop an eating disorder, or have a pre-existing one worsen. There’s new classes, new friends, new living situations, new activities, new everything. Why are we telling them that their weight should take precedence, or even be a factor at all? Barring some kind of serious physical or mental health issue, most people do not gain a few pounds their first semester and then continue on some kind of rapid-fire upwards trajectory where they gain and gain and gain weight until they’re 1000 pounds. But that’s what a lot of the public opinion about the mythical “Freshman 15” seem to imply.

This might all sound kind of odd coming from a group fitness instructor, but my philosophy has always been that my job is to help people feel their best. And part of feeling your best is enjoying experiences that come your way. So, if any freshmen are reading this, here is my advice: Know that eventually, at a certain age, you won’t be able to eat the 3 A.M. cheese fries and margarita and still feel fine the next day. There will be a day when it’s no longer socially acceptable for you to start drinking at 10 A.M.. There will be a day when eating that late-night pizza will make you just feel slow and sluggish the next day. But today is probably not that day–so don’t worry. Relax, enjoy college, and trust that if you truly start getting to an unhealthy place, your body will step in and tell you, “Hey, maybe we shouldn’t eat late-night plates of nachos and beer every single night.” Honestly, you’re only young once, and ten years from now, you won’t care about the extra five pounds you may or may not have gained your freshman semester, but you will care about all the great memories you had with friends.

As for the rest of you–shut up about the freshman 15. There are so many more important things to worry about.

An Open Letter to The Random Guys That Tell Me to “Smile”

Hey,

Sooo I’ve been noticing more and more often that it’s become a thing for you guys, instead of yelling profanities and obscenities at random girls that walk by, to just yell, “Smile!” or, even worse, “Smile, sweetheart!” (gag me). And don’t get me wrong–given a choice between hearing you yell about the things you want to do to my boobs or hearing you tell me to smile, I would MUCH rather pick the latter. So if this is your misguided way of making “progress,” then, ugh, at least you’re moving in the right direction.

THAT BEING SAID….

It’s still annoying. And it’s still not okay. Look, fellas, I have bitchy resting face syndrome, and I was born this way. There ain’t nothing I can do to change the fact that having a completely neutral facial expression gives me all the perceived warmth and friendliness of Ursula from the Little Mermaid. Maybe my lips just point down naturally, maybe my eyes are a little too solemn, I don’t know BUT THE POINT BEING, SMILING IS AN EFFORT FOR ME.

Furthermore, it seems like such a silly, innocent thing to yell, “Smile!” But you have to understand (or maybe you already do, and are just exploiting it), that women are already expected to be happy and cheerful, wherever we go, all the time. And by telling me to smile for literally no reason at all, you’re just reinforcing that. Why should I smile? I’m sitting on the fucking Metro. If there was ever an activity that called for strictly neutral facial expressions, it’s sitting on the Metro. Who just sits there on the Metro, smiling for the world to see? Do I look like Doris Day to you? Do you know that Doris Day wasn’t even a real person, but a made-up TV trope? Do you know that THERE’S A REASON DORIS DAY IS A FICTIONAL CHARACTER, BECAUSE SMILING ALL DAY EVERYDAY IS FIGURATIVELY AND LITERALLY IMPOSSIBLE?

Also, what am I, your dog? Why should I smile at you just because you told me to? I don’t know you. You didn’t do anything to make me smile. My smile is a privilege, homeboy, not a right that you are entitled to. In order to make me smile, you should, oh I don’t know, actually do something that makes me smile? Just a thought?

So just a warning, fellas, the next time you yell at me from across the street, “SMILE, SWEETHEART!”, I’ll smile back. Oh, I’ll smile back. I don’t know if this is what you had in mind:

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But that’s what you’re gonna get.

Love,
Laura

19 Reasons to Be Excited for Fall!

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Let me just go on the record as saying that I have no idea when or how fall-loving became a “white-girl” thing. Yeah, white girls love fall. Hellooo, everybody loves fall, not just white girls. But hey, if you’re going to push that on us, then we’ll take it Fall freaking rocks. Fall is that time of year where you know that cold, dark times are coming, but you’re still happy about it. That’s how awesome fall is.

That being said, the loss of sunlight does tend to tendency to trigger depressive episodes in some individuals, particularly those with Seasonal Affective Disorder (aptly named SAD), so stay tuned for a post coming up about it. I obviously am not a doctor or psychologist, but I’ve read many good sources over the years about how to combat seasonal depression, so I can provide some good links on it 🙂

IN THE MEANTIME, there are SO many things about fall that are awesome! Here are 19 of mine, listed for no other reason than that I’m just really excited for fall to come around. Woo!!!

1. Pumpkin spice lattes. There, I said it. If you’re trying to make a healthier version, here is a good one!.
2. Pumpkin everything, actually. Here’s a recipe for , pumpkin spice cupcakes , pumpkin spice muffins, and even pumpkin chili!
3. FOOTBALL SEASON!!!!!!!
4. BEER AND WINE TASTING FESTIVALS!!!!! (I may or may not be going to three this fall)
5. Scarves. I’m sorry, I just really love scarves. They make it so easy to pull an outfit together in no time!
6. Ditto with boots. I. Love. Boots. Even though it’s hard to find a pair that fits over my soccer-player-esque calves, I still love them.
7. Waking up slightly cold, and being able to warm up with a cup of hot tea or coffee.
8. Ditto with carrying a hot coffee or tea around campus without sweating like crazy. And studies actually show that holding something warm makes you act nicer and feel less lonely. , so, by that logic, people act nicer during the fall!
9. Sweater weather!!!
10. Did I mention football season yet? Because….football season. If anyone ever wants to go to a game, hit me up!
11. Pumpkin ale! So delicious.
12. Knowing that the holidays are coming up. The trifecta of Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas (or Hanukkah!) is something I think we can all get on board with.
13. Watching the trees change color.
14. Walking on crispy leaves.
15. Being able to wear yoga pants every day of the week and still look put-together.
16. Less problems with frizzy hair and sweating off makeup! Woo!!
17. Being able to go for a run outside during normal human hours, and not at either 5 am or dead of midnight.
18. The crisp fall air. I know that sounds stupid, but there really is something to the air in fall, once the humidity has started to dissipate and the chilly, clean air is coming in.
19. Nothing better than camping in the fall. Nothing.

HAPPY ALMOST FALL, EVERYBODY!!!!

Settling in to the Semester + 5 Absolute Apartment Essentials That Everybody Forgets

If it seems like awhile since I’ve posted, that’s because it has been–for a number of different reasons. Moving in to my apartment was a long, longggggggg process. I was doing it myself, and I am a lazy person–two things which do NOT go well together. I believe the process from getting my keys to actually putting all my stuff in the apartment in the right spot took 5 days total, with a disproportionate amount of effort during the final three hours of day 5. But no harm, no foul. I’m officially moved in!

We’re waiting until this weekend to decorate the living room and add wall decorations, but so far my room looks pretty good, doncha think?

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(If you’re not impressed, you should see what my side of the room looked like last semester. It was literally a trainwreck. Also, pictures don’t show the delicious smell of my room, courtesy of Glade Plug-ins Pumpkin Pie. Fall is awesome.)

Unfortunately, it’s so easy to get distracted by all the glitz and glamour of moving in to a new apartment, and to get hung up on all the great decorations you’ll get, and where to put all your clothes, and what meals you’ll cook with the awesome new kitchen. This means that you tend to forget all the boring necessities. Problem is, boring necessities are called necessities for a reason. You, uh, kinda need them. A lot. They’re so necessary that everybody just assumes that everybody else already knows to bring them, and as a result, everybody ends up forgetting the essential stuff like:

1. Toilet paper

This probably doesn’t have the story behind it that you were expecting, but I did go to use my bathroom after moving in God-knows-how-many boxes of K-cups, only to go, “Ohhhh wait no toilet paper,” at the very last minute, in the same voice that most people usually reserve for, “Ohhhhh wait that’s a cliff, stop driving that’s a cliff.” Long story short, I ended up running through the parking garage of the View to the local Sweetgreen (luckily, I was wearing athletic clothes, so it just looked like I was just being healthy), and then making uncomfortable eye contact with the cashier when she realized I was one of those girls.

2. Utensils

You don’t realize the importance of utensils until you face the challenge of trying to eat Ramen with your bare hands. Utensils are just one of those things that you…assume will always be around. You don’t really consciously think about having to go out and get them.

3. Trash bags

Moving in usually involves a lot of opening stuff, moving stuff, altering stuff, and otherwise manipulating stuff in a way that involves some leftover garbage. What’s that? You need to throw away that plastic-medieval-torture-device known as clamshell packaging? No worries! Just throw it……oh wait a minute.

4. Contact solution

No, saliva is not an acceptable substitute.

5. Can openers

Literally nobody thinks of bringing a can opener until it’s time to actually open that can of beef broth or whatever, and as it turns out, scissors and butcher knives don’t work quite as well.

Anyways, it’s time to get back to tea and homework. Have a good night, and stay tuned for Part 2 of my group fitness posts!