Talking to Myself

I tend to talk to myself a lot. When I say I talk to myself, I don’t mean I ask myself questions then proceed to reply to them. I’ll leave having real conversations to other people. However, I do tend to actually say things running through my head out loud.

I sort of see this blog to be slightly similar to talking to myself, too, as it’s full of random thoughts that cross my mind that I “say out loud” (or type and post on the internet, same thing) and essentially, talk to myself.

Usually, blogs have audiences reading and commenting on posts. Originally, my blog’s audience was very limited to only my professor (this blog & its posts were created for a class) but has since expanded to include the people I’ve forced to read it and my mom, who is, hands down, the best audience member I’ve got because she subscribed to be emailed when I make a new post (HI MOM – I’ve always wanted to say that).

My mom told me that my blog is good and even though she’s slightly obligated to say that (don’t fight me on this Ma, I know you are), I wanted to post more to continue being good and because it’s fun. So here’s to continuing to talk to myself and hoping that maybe one day I’ll have that audience bloggers out there once only dreamed of having.

Tying this post back into the theme of my overall blog, I am currently letting Dandelion Root Tea I just brewed steep for 10-15 minutes because for the next week, I’m trying out Jillian Michaels’s detox water. It’s supposed to help you lose excess water weight.

I’m doing this not solely for the number on the scale to drop (although that would be nice). Instead, I’m doing it to help with bloating, because while I usually feel bloated, I just got home from vacation today and the bloat is extra rough today and will be for a few days. I’m hoping this detox water, consisting of water, dandelion root tea, cranberry juice and lemon juice, will shed that water weight and save me from feeling like a balloon someone blew up too much, which I know is a weird analogy.

Next week, when I am finished the detox, I’ll make a post reviewing my experience of the detox because I know I love reading people’s experiences before I try products/foods/approaches/etc. Granted, my mom may be the only person seeing this post, but hey, maybe this review will push her to take a few minutes and make up some water for herself! One person sure is better than none.

Have a great week!

I Have No Idea What I Want to Do With My Life

I really used to envy those people who came into college semi-knowing what they wanted to do with their life. They seemed to have plans and majors/jobs that they felt were their calling. Sociology, the major I came into college with, was far from my calling. I literally read a definition of sociology my junior year of high school and bam, decided that should be my major.

It was okay in the beginning. I took Sociological Imagination during fall semester of freshman year and enjoyed it. But when I was sitting in my first class of Introduction to Sociology Seminar in spring semester, I immediately knew I had to get out and switch my major. After some thought, I settled on graphic design and got myself out of sociology.

Switching was the best decision because I finally feel like I have somewhat of a direction with what I’m doing in school. I’m feeling more confident in my major, loving my classes, proud of what I’m producing and working hard towards my degree. People constantly ask me, though, “What do you want to do with your degree after you graduate?” I never know what to say because I don’t know. I feel so clueless and the mere thought of having to make a decision generally makes me nervous.

All I know for sure is that I want to be in a good place regarding my job and other aspects of my life (mindset, body, etc.)  As far as job titles/careers go…there are so many different things I could be and choosing something is definitely going to take some effort and work on my part. Instead of being a ball of nerves, though, I’m going to take some advice from Tracee Ellis Ross and “allow the space between where I am and where I want to be to inspire me and not terrify me.”

I know I always figure things out and that this situation is no exception. I’ll find a job that fits me just like I found a major that fits me. I’m going to try to stop being distraught and terrified over not having everything figured out yet. My plan is to continue being hardworking everyday and get excited about the future. So to everyone who has asked/will ask me about my plans: I honestly don’t know what I want to do with my life. But you better believe I’ll have it figured out someday in the near future.

Let Me RUN Something By You

Picture it – you’ve just finished a hard day of classes and a shift at work. Too many classmates and customers frustrated you. You still have a blog post (paper, lab report, a couple hundred math problems – whichever) half completed and it’s due in two days. You’re pretty much ready to yell and rip your hair out.

Find yourself relating to any of that? Even a little bit? I know I relate…because that’s my life most days out of the week. Yeah, I can get pretty stressed and my patience level at the end of the day tends to be nonexistent, but thankfully, I haven’t ripped my hair out yet.

Instead, I pull it up into a pony tail and run from my problems.

I know what you’re thinking: “Ilanna…running from your problems is super ineffective and doesn’t solve, like, anything” and you would be absolutely correct. You can’t run from your problems and don’t worry, I don’t literally run from them. I technically run them away.

Remember how in my last post, I advocated doing something for yourself? Well, readers, this is mainly what I do for myself: I run. Whether I’m actually running on a track, treadmill, elliptical or ArcTrainer, I try to exercise everyday to keep my sanity intact and my mind clear.

If you rewinded to a few years ago, you’d meet the old Ilanna, who despised exercise. Cardio and I…we weren’t friends. At all. Fat Amy once said it best in the famous movie, Pitch Perfect, when she stated: “Yeah, no, don’t put me down for cardio.” I hated spending years in gym class being forced to run the mile and being constantly reminded how out of shape I was.

However, one fateful day, I decided to accompany my friend to the gym and then, that was it. I was hooked. I started going everyday because everything just felt different. Thoughts and worries stopped weighing me down so much. I had an unclouded head. I physically felt better and eventually moved from loathing the gym to loving it, making going a habit.

So I’m running (ha, get it?!) an idea by you, the strained reader: what if you, too, made it a habit? What if you put your hair up, threw on a t-shirt and started sweating the small stuff? (I’m killin’ it with the puns tonight.) By that, I mean release all the tension in your body by literally sweating through exercise. Think you’d see a difference in your life? I think you would.

You don’t just have to run, either. Run, walk, lift – do whatever you want because you’ll release endorphins. They are those chemicals released when you exercise and, according to WebMD, they trigger a positive feeling in your body. Not only will you feel better emotionally, but WebMD also lists physical benefits of exercise, like a stronger heart, more energy and lower blood pressure.

So, consider changing your relationship with exercise like I did. If you hate exercise, figure out why and work around those reasons. If you’re indifferent, just give it a shot because you have nothing to lose. By changing your relationship with exercise, you’ll also change your relationship with life, both emotionally and physically.

Take Care of Yourself First

I have to admit that I love college. I love the lifestyle, the freedom and the atmosphere. But there are some aspects I don’t necessarily love – the stress, the anxiety about the future and never knowing exactly who I am yet. I find myself sometimes wondering: What am I doing? What should I be doing? Why am I so broke? I know a lot of college students feel this way. The constant stress, pressure, anxiety and pit of the unknown can weigh a person down and take a toll on his/her mental health.

A lot of the time, college students ignore these mental weights and they stick to trying to succeed while the pressure grows stronger. They focus on everything else in the world instead of focusing on themselves. But I’m here to tell you that these students deserve to be put first. You deserve to put yourself first. Your #1 priority should be yourself. By putting yourself first, things will start to feel different. Life will get easier to handle.

I can testify to this. In high school, I was a people pleaser. Everyone had to be accepting of what I did (teachers, friends, peers, family, etc.) and I tried to make sure everyone was happy. I wanted to have everything planned out perfectly while acing my classes. Doing all this came with a high price tag. I soon became a worry-ridden person. Anything less than an A meant I was failing myself and my parents. I over planned and spent more time planning than doing. Lastly, I found out that you really cannot make everyone happy. The most important thing was if I was happy, and I wasn’t. I kept putting myself last.

I know that focusing on everyone else may seem selfless and the right thing to do but it will break you in the end. Putting yourself first and doing things for yourself isn’t selfish – it is how you survive. It can be how you fall in love with life. So what does putting yourself first look like? It looks however you want it to look. For me, it’s taking a walk outside when it’s beautiful out. It’s going to the mall to window shop on a Saturday afternoon. It’s running at the gym to calm myself down. It’s painting my nails, writing for hours or having an extra cup of coffee. It’s saying no to someone when you already have enough work of your own (and I promise you, it’s okay to say no sometimes).

You put yourself first whenever and however you want because you need to keep your mental health healthy. It can be easy to get tied down by the stress and pressure and feel the need to be a people-pleaser, but this is your life. You only get one and you don’t owe anything to any other person. You just owe it to yourself to take a breath, to handle bumps in the road and to be happy. You deserve to be happy. Take care of yourself first.

Nuts, Berries & Veggies

The general preconception about lifestyle changes is that you immediately have to give up all the good things in the world. You kiss your favorite foods goodbye and say hello to your new normal: nuts, berries and veggies. Eating just those is completely sustainable, right?

For some people, it is (and I tip my hat off to them), but for me, that way of life is listed under the word ‘impossible’ in the dictionary. Like I’ve noted before, I really love all types of food. I’m also a drink person. And while enjoying nuts, berries and veggies and limiting processed foods is important, a lot more food appeals to me. So how does someone work this love for food/drinks into a healthy lifestyle? I’ll tell you. I also enlisted the help of my best friend, Danielle, to weigh in and give her tips.

1. Modifying your faves: You can still enjoy what you love, but sometimes, you just make some tweaks to them. For example, I LOVE Starbucks and it has stolen my heart. However, the nutritional information hasn’t stolen my heart so I customize my drink to combat high calories. My number one tip is skipping the whipped cream. Next, I ask for my drinks to be made with nonfat milk rather than whole or 2%. Just recently, I’ve been getting my drinks ‘skinny’, which means they’re made with sugar free syrup. Through all those, I enjoy my coffee without loading it up with calories, carbs and fat.

As for Danielle, she’s in love with frozen yogurt (specifically Yogurtland) and there’s no way she’d give it up. To work froyo in her healthy lifestyle, she “puts fruit on top.” Her favorite fruit topping? Strawberries. “That way, I still get the satisfaction of eating something sweet that isn’t loaded with candy,” she explains over text, which makes great sense to me!

2. Finding alternative versions: Over the years I’ve been getting healthy, I’ve tried a lot of types of foods as substitutes for others and not all have been successful, but some truly have. My favorite is PB 2 Powdered Peanut Butter. It is powder than you mix with water and it forms peanut butter. It is 45 calories, 1 gram of fat, 6 grams of carbs and I can barely tell it didn’t come from a Skippy or Jiff jar. Aside from peanut butter, I also love chocolate. I keep mini Dove dark chocolate squares in my pantry for when I need to satisfy a quick chocolate craving. Keeping with the theme of mini, Wholly Guacamole puts out mini 100 calorie packs of guac. I dip everything into it and can happily eat it without overdoing it, since the all natural guacamole comes in individual packs.

3. Cheat Days: Sometimes, though, you can’t fight the need for whip on your Starbucks drink. You need the M&M’s on your froyo. You need a king size Snickers bar and for those times, cheat days have been created. ‘Cheat days’ are when you let a little loose instead of only eating things you ‘should’ eat. Danielle incorporates these days into her lifestyle after “eating well for the whole week,” she will “have 1-2 cheat meals a week.” I usually will have my celebration meal on weekends. People typically criticize cheat days and think they are counterproductive, but I disagree. The breaks keep me sane and lessen any cravings I may have during the week. It’s also helpful for your body, too. “It’s good for your body to have a shock every couple of days,” Danielle mentions and I couldn’t agree more.

With these little tips and changes, I’ve been able to take steps towards a healthier lifestyle without cutting out what I love. When all else fails, remember, everything is okay in moderation!

Fearing the Freshman Fifteen

Hi, I’m Ilanna and my blog is all about getting my mind and body healthy while going through college.

Before I came to Rider University, I was of course nervous about all the normal things an upcoming freshman would be nervous about: Would I make friends? Would I be able to pass my classes? Would my roommate and I get along? However, the one worry that truly plagued my mind was: Would I gain the ‘freshman fifteen?’ The freshman fifteen is the theory of gaining around 15 pounds during your first year of college.

To many, having that has the number one fear would be seen as ridiculous, but I’ve always struggled with my weight. From elementary school through high school, I had an intense love for food and an even more intense hatred for exercise. You can only imagine how that combination worked out for me (surprise: it didn’t). I just tended to weigh more and get stuck in a string of unhealthy habits. Since college was rumored to do that to a person, too, I couldn’t get the fear out of my mind.

I tried during high school to get myself on track with eating and sleeping better, working out more, stressing less, etc. but I always fell off the wagon, especially the summer before college/during my first semester at Rider.

I honestly think I did gain some unwanted weight from September 2013 – January 2014, but when I came back for the second semester, something clicked and I started working harder than I ever have before to get healthier and feel better. And it worked (and is still working). I wound up losing weight that semester, but I gained happiness and knowledge on how to be fit in college (because I promise, it is very possible). I want people to believe that being healthier in college isn’t a pipe dream, because as a senior in high school, I 100% thought it was and I’m sure others do, too.

But this isn’t just for college students; no matter where you are in your life, health is still an obtainable goal. I don’t know all the answers and am still learning a lot on my journey. I also am definitely not where I want to be yet. But what I do know for sure is that I’m very far from where I used to be and that’s what matters.

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Sophomore year of high school (’10)


Sophomore year of college (’15)

Check out my ‘About’ page for more about me!