Fitness Fridays: Why I Love Yoga

Happiness for the Half-assed

Hey hey!

It seems these days that you can’t throw a stone without hitting a yoga enthusiast. I am one of them. Here’s why:

Toning: Something about spending an hour and a half upside down really does it for the arm muscles. Now, I have no scientific figures on how targeted a workout yoga is for the muscles, but my arms sure do feel thoroughly worked-out afterwards.

Calming: You’ve probably been told it a million times already but seriously, yoga is sssoooooo relaxing. I swear, the best night’s sleep I’ll ever get is after a yoga sesh.

Stress Management: Similar, but different, to my last point. Again, I don’t know what the science behind this one is, but I feel like having to breath steadily while doing all these different poses trains you to be more calm when in stressful times in real life.

Banish Back Pain: At the tender…

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Positive minds achieve positive results

Alright alright, how many of us make plans to lose weight, get a six pack, or eat healthier, but to only find us a week later skipping the gym and shoveling a tub of ice cream down our throats, we’ve all been there. Look at me for instance, in 2012 I lost a good amount of weight and got down to my smallest size ever only to gain all of my lost weight back and then some only a year and a half later. Granted, the first time I lost weight it was very unhealthy, restrictive, and I was dealing with my eating disorder but it is still disappointing to achieve weight loss then gain it all back and then some. Many of you have followed me since day one and you have seen my constant battle with losing weight but I’m doing it differently this time. I am actually enjoying the process. I wake up ready to get my workout in and eat my good food that I have prepared to mow down on. Yes, I have been indulging a more than I probably should be lately but I’m finding my way by creating a balance that is allowing me to see the progress I want through cardio and weight lifting, while also enjoying drinks with friends and queso dip at the local Mexican restaurant. I’m telling myself that come summer time I won’t be ashamed or uncomfortable in shorts and a bathing suit like I was this past summer. I’m telling myself that I am going to be strong, fit, and healthy, because being negative when trying to better your health mentally and physically, you are just setting yourself up for failure.

I’m sick of ruining my progress and mindset by being negative. NEWS FLASH PEOPLE! Negativity never got anyone anywhere and I have finally figured that out. I’ve become a much more positive person and many people in my life know that to be true. We all know I have my moments and doubts and have my own demons to deal with but I’m doing the best with what I’ve got. I have no intentions of stopping my weight loss journey, nor do I have any intentions of not enjoying life. This weekend I am going out with friends and most likely I will drink too much but I will be laughing and living because that is what were supposed to do, live. I am making sure that this week however, is filled with good workouts and good food so I can in fact enjoy myself and not ruin the progress I am making. BALANCE. That is the key word in the equation when it comes to living a healthy life or if you are trying to lose weight. You won’t change over night and restricting your diet and working out for hours is only going to run you and your progress right into the ground. Being motivated is great, but being smart about the process is even more vital. I’ve been down the road where you restrict and restrict and you are miserable. You avoid going out because you don’t want to be put in a situation where you might have to eat badly or be faced with temptation, I get it, believe me. But rather looking as these situations negatively, see them as an opportunity to continue to choose healthy choices. Just because you are going out with friends doesn’t mean you have to eat pizza too. Or rather, eat a slice of pizza and enjoy it you just don’t need to eat the whole thing. I get frustrated when I see young girls or even girls my age trying to lose weight and they label all food as bad. NO FOOD IS BAD. That is right, pizza isn’t bad for you, cookies aren’t bad for you, they should be consumed in moderation yes, but they shouldn’t be labeled “bad”. We have formed this misconception that sugary and salty foods are going to ruin our diets and make us fat and yes, in some ways if they are consumed in large and frequent amounts they can cause those things. But, if you eat a balanced diet and you incorporate foods such as those you get to still enjoy the foods you love while also creating better eating habits. Moderation has been a hard idea for me to understand and live by and there are some days where
I’ll eat a whole tub of gluten free cookie dough but instead of beating myself up about it I just go extra hard at the gym or eat a better dinner. I’m sick of making myself feel bad when I enjoy good things in life, especially food.

I want you to join this journey with me on living a more healthy and positive life because it is important to remain focused and light hearted. Like I’ve said in my past I don’t know, three blog posts, 2015 is going to be my year, but it’s also going to be YOURS!

Muscle gains and mental struggles

Losing weight, no one wants to put the effort in because it isn’t easy and believe me, there are some days I don’t want to go to the gym or eat a salad instead of cheese puffs but, I’ve made a lot of progress since my first diet bet in the beginning of December. I’ve been hitting the gym consistently and seeing myself shrink slowly but surely. On the weekends I’ve been going a little crazy and some nights during the week I pig out while watching Netflix but I’m getting a handle on it and overall I’ve made a big improvement compared to how my habits were two months ago. I haven’t weighed myself in about three weeks, I don’t really care too much about it because I’m lifting weights and eating protein so I’m making those muscle gains! I’ve never really had biceps before and they are starting to peek out, along with my manly awesome tricep muscles. I am curious though seeing that I weighed 150 pounds at the end of November and last time I weighed myself I was 142, yippie! I’ve definitely fluctuated due to the gluten free Domino’s pizza and margaritas, but I’m enjoying life and not depriving myself. I do want to really try to clean my diet up more and save my splurges for one night per week rather than three. I want to be the best I can be and I know I can achieve the results I am seeking with hard work. It feels good to wear clothes that didn’t fit me for a long time. I haven’t been this size in well over a year and I’m proud of my progress thus far and I don’t plan on stopping. 2015 is going to be my year I’m going to achieve the things I’ve always wanted to achieve. I’m not going to hold myself back any longer.

The last week or so I’ve been struggling with my anxiety. I find that around the time that my lady friend comes to visit me each month my mental health just crumbles to the ground and I’m just stepping all over the broken pieces. I’ll have my moments of feeling inspired and happy, then in a instant I’m shoved into a dark corner that I can’t seem to get out of. I know a lot of my anxiety has to do with insecurity and anxiousness when it comes to my relationships whether they are personal or professional. I am constantly doubting myself and creating these horrific scenarios in my brain to the point where I’m in tears and have no clue what’s real and what isn’t. I think that is probably the most frustrating thing about having anxiety is the made up truths that it creates in your brain. My anxiety toys with these horrible ideas and manipulates them so many times that I’ll start to believe whatever it tells me whether its my friends hate me or I suck at my job or I’m a terrible person in general and sometimes I see those things as the truth when my normal brain knows that it’s not. I try to sit there in my room inside my head and tell myself not to listen to my anxiety and to my irrational thoughts. I do put my best effort into putting an end to those negative notions but sometimes I don’t win. I am overtaken by the darkness and it swallows me whole. Meditation has helped a lot along with yoga, and writing always seems to give me some sort of perspective and I am thankful for that. I am thankful that I don’t just give up on myself but the effect that my anxiety has on my life is going to ruin my relationships if I don’t get a better understanding of it. I am constantly learning about myself and how my brain works, I just hope that the pieces fall together quickly and I can finally have a break from this mental torment.

Meditating to free my soul


Today I decided that I’m going to start writing down my meditation sessions. Reflecting on what thoughts I had or didn’t have, and how I felt before and after, just so I can see my progress. Meditation and yoga have helped me a lot in my mental recovery with my depression and anxiety but I always tend to fall off of my schedule of doing both and forgetting how helpful they both are. I want my mind and body to be in tune with one another and to be able to work together in unison.

This year I’m really focusing on treating my body right and to develop an even healthier relationship with food, exercise, and mental discovery. Each day presents a new challenge to overcome and I am going to do everything possible to make sure that I have the tools to move past each obstacle put in my way.

Dad says I could make it big.

One evening about two weeks ago my Dad and I had a nice long evening chat about my photography and art. My parents have always been supportive of my forever changing hobbies but photography and painting are here to stay and they can see that. As were sitting face to face and babbling about some of my pictures he looks at me and says, “You know, you take great pictures. If you applied yourself you could work for National Geographic or TIME magazine. With your communications degree you could do photo journalism because you have a talent for writing too.” It felt great to hear that from my Dad. I’m always so hard on myself when it comes to my art work because I am a perfectionist, always striving for more. I never really thought about pursuing a career solely in photography or photo journalism because I don’t see it being a reality. I would love to make a significant amount of money doing what I love and being able to travel the world but, is it realistic? Could it actually happen? I don’t know. I’m sure if I applied myself and put my work out there I could get some well paying gigs but I’m not sure if it is something I could make a living on. I know I don’t give myself enough credit and that I usually settle for the easy way out because I’ve never been a competitor. My anxiety likes to tell me I’m not good enough and that others will outshine my work, and although that could be true, I’ll never know unless I try.

I don’t know. The idea of what the future will or wont bring is scary. It is scary to not know where my life will be in ten years. I don’t want to be miserable or look back on my life and regret not reaching for the stars, but in the same breath I am always standing in my own way. I do that because I am guarded and do not want myself to get hurt or disappointed. I know that I can take great photos and have an artistic flare but what can I make of it? I have so many plans such as my novel and creating an Etsy account to sell my paintings but my ADD likes to screw with my plans, motivation, and I tend to fall off track and become unorganized and therefore depressed. I really want to start dedicating time to writing, painting, and promoting my business but I can only do so much while I work and go to school. However, those who are proactive and stay motivated are the ones who succeed and find happiness in their victories so to speak in my opinion.

In 2015 I want to start giving myself more credit and being more positive when reviewing my work. I can’t keep bashing my ideas and dreams or fall short with a project because I don’t take the time to go the extra mile. Sitting around watching Netflix never really got anyone far, even though it is my favorite pastime, If I am to make a name for myself I need to be more proactive. 2015 will be my best year I can feel it. I know that if I make these changes to be more organized and set these goals to achieve then I will be the happiest I’ve ever been. I am happy now of course, and have been making great strides in my life in regards to my physical health and mentality, but I need to do more. Next semester is my last one at NECC and I’ll be taking a math class (ugh) and will be super busy but I can’t forget about the things in life that make me happy. I am so thankful that I have this drive burning inside me, I want to push past my anxiety and put myself out there and whether or not I make it to be big or what have you, I’ll be grateful that I made the positive strides.

I’ve been getting so much support lately too from my family, friends, and Shamus as well. Each and every one of them encourages me to try new things and put my name and talents out for the world to see. I can’t describe to you the feeling I have when I reflect on that, knowing that I have all of these wonderful people in my corner is such an incredible feeling. I can’t wait to see what 2015 has in store for me.


Renaming your Photos on Import with Adobe Lightroom

Photofocus (old site)

Developing a file structure is one of the first steps in creating your workflow. Whether you’re using Lightroom to manage your library or Bridge to view folders of photos, it’s much easier to find a specific photo if you use a descriptive filename.

In my personal workflow, I include the date, project name, and image number. So for example: 2014-09-16_ND_Scout_0001.nef

Most everything I shoot is on one day. However, if you’re shooting for multiple days, with multiple cameras on larger shoots, then I recommend you include that information too. That would look like this:


Adobe Lightroom offers a really easy way to rename your photos on import.

Step 1: File Renaming Panel

Inside the Lightroom import window, open the File Renaming panel on the right side. Put a check where it says Rename Files.

Step 2: Use Templates

We can choose one of Lightroom’s built-in templates…

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Jess goes gluten free: days 9, 10, and 11

So far this week I’ve stuck to my gluten free change and I dig it. I really do. However, I went for Mexican AGAIN yesterday and felt like so sick to my stomach and had the worst pain. I felt so bad too quite honestly because I felt like such a party pooper, but in all honesty I was in a lot of pain. The only negative thing I have to say about being gluten free is that I feel like an inconvenience when it comes to going to dinner with family or friends. It sucks because they are like, “Can you eat here?” and I can eat anywhere it is just my selection can sometimes be limited which stinks but I’m still down to going out! I just hope no one thinks that I’m in fact an inconvenience when it comes to dining out. I felt bad yesterday, extremely bad, the individuals I was with may or may not have seen me as over dramatic but until you go gluten free for some time then eat something with gluten, you can’t possibly understand how uncomfortable your body becomes.

Going forward I’m going to have to be extra careful when it comes to going out which creates an inconvenience in my life in itself, but I’ve felt much better from not consuming gluten. I’m not bloated, I sleep better, I (sorry I know TMI) poop more often, and I just feel like I have more energy which is great. I can’t wait to see my progress a month from now where I’ll really start seeing a difference. I’ve been shopping at different grocery stores to compare prices and what not. Stop & Shop is ridiculously expensive, more than Whole Foods which I was surprised. Whole Foods has an awesome selection of gluten free foods. Hell, they even have a dedicated aisle just for special diets which is rad! I also enjoy the fact that they do not have products in their store that has preservatives and nasty chemicals like aspartame. However, we all know Whole Foods can be on the pricey side but all in all it might be my favorite place to shop for my gluten free goodies. Shaw’s was outrageously priced as well and their selection was very limited like Market Basket. Market Basket obviously was the cheapest of the bunch and I got my waffles, wraps, and bagels for $2-$3 less than Whole Foods and Shaw’s but as I mentioned, their selection is very limited and they don’t have a designated aisle so trying to find gluten free treasures is very hard because it is all mixed with everything else.

I need to start making a weekly list of what I should buy as well whether it is fruit, veggies, snacks, or whatever. Dinner has probably been the hardest meal of the day to acquire because lets face it, I don’t want to cook when I get home from wherever I’ve been whether it is school or work. I’m tired and have other shit to do so I’ve been snacking or going out which isn’t so great for my wallet.

But going forward I’m going to make a great effort in meal planning and sticking to it!