Twentysomething Workouts

Studies have shown that it takes 21 days to officially break a habit. Smoking, chewing gum, biting your nails. Just quit for three weeks and you’ll be all set. The same studies have shown that it takes the same amount of time, 21 days, to make a habit. Waking up early, drinking more tea, or maybe even going to the gym…?

Yes folks, that’s right. Today I joined a gym for the very first time in my life. Day one, with twenty more to go. Except, after Going Beyond Google, I discovered that the foundation to those 21 day studies are kind of a hoax. More specifically, they are based on empirical research (aka it worked for a very small select number of people with one habit), but it has never been tested as clinical research (aka not enough evidence to say any habit can be made or broken within 21 days).

Regardless, I am on Day One of my Planet Fitness membership, and this time, I’m really going to commit. Now I know what you’re all thinking. But Michael! You say that every summer. You’re going to get buff etc etc but you never even make it through the first month! Okay. First of all, RUDE. Second, maybe I was the one who was thinking that…

But really, this time is going to be different, mainly for one reason: I paid for this gym membership. With my own hard-earned money! There is no way that I can let this cost go to waste, and for anyone that knows me, they can back me up here. But Michael! What about school and work and social life and time for yourself? Yup, I know. Don’t worry, I’ve got it covered. And no, I can’t add more hours to the day. But one way or another, I’m going to do this.

In case anyone else is looking for some twentysomething workout inspiration, here are a few tips:

1. Make Time
There are a limited number of hours in the day. 24, to be exact. Ideally, you will be spending 6 to 8 hours of that sleeping, and chances are, another 8 hours of that will be spent working. That means there are only 8 hours left in the day to be active and awake outside of work…and if you’re a grad student (like me) you can probably just forget it because the rest of that time is taken up by class and homework. BUT I REFUSE. The remaining 8 hours are so precious. Only one third of your day is truly meant for you, whatever you want to do, so make the most of it. And if you don’t have the time, then make it.

2. Compromise with Yourself
If you’ve continued reading this far because you actually believe you might be able to make the time, great job! This is actually part 1a, because part of making the time is compromising with yourself and creating a realistic workout schedule. I know I would LOVE to go to the gym every single day for at least an hour. But that’s just silly. Factor in travel time, warm-up/cool-down, a shower when you get back…that’s basically an hour in itself. Tell yourself it’s okay to compromise with yourself. If you can only work out for twenty minutes one day, great! That’s twenty minutes you would have spent on your couch. No time to hit the gym? Take a ten minute walk in between meetings. It may not feel like much, but it’s better than getting discouraged because you don’t have the time to meet your original goals.

3. Set Goals
Realistic ones. And stick to them. SMART Goals, which all my Student Affairs friends know about, but not everyone who reads this is in Student Affairs. So for everyone else, SMART goals: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time-sensitive. So rather than say, “Yeah, I really want to join a gym and get fit!” …which is something I’ve been saying for the past three years…try something along the lines of “I’m going to go to the gym three days a week for at least 30 minutes.” It’s Specific (three times a week), Measurable (I either did it or I didn’t), Attainable (yup), Realistic (I’d like to this so), and finally, Time-sensitive (thirty minutes). Let’s hope it works!

Regardless of your workout regimen, whether or not you go to the gym, your body is a temple, and you should treat it like one. And I have to admit, I hate myself a little for saying that. But it’s so true! Being a twentysomething is the perfect time to focus on your physical well-being, and I mean PERFECT. In college, you’re drowning yourself in pizza and beer. And once you hit thirty, your body starts to slow down, your knees crack, your back hurts…so being in that twentysomething age range, I fully intend to take advantage of it!

Does anyone else have any other tips for staying fit and healthy as a twentysomething? Feel free to comment or share!

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Going Beyond Google

I read a study this morning that said people with stronger cognitive skills spend less time using their smartphones’ search-engine function.

Just kidding. I didn’t read any study. I wish I had time for that. But the fact above is still true, except instead of reading it from a study, I read it from my Twitter page. UberFacts tweeted it approximately thirteen hours ago, and because they have a little blue check mark next to their name, everything they tweet has to be true.

For some reason, this thought stuck with me all throughout the day. What did we do before Google? What did parents say before they could advise their children to “just Google it?” When did Google become a verb?! It’s all too much. The other day, I was having a conversation with a student and the idea of gender and colors came up. Why does blue mean boy and girl mean pink? So, we Googled it (and in case you were wondering, you can thank the 1940s clothes manufacturers for that one). But after we found the answer, we proceeded to have an entire conversation about the socialization of gender and gender norms and stereotypes. It was one of the best conversations I’ve had all week, and it’s still on my mind!

Why? Because I went Beyond Google. It’s so easy to just type something into your smartphone nowadays and get that instant gratification. I think as twentysomethings, that’s what we except. Being in the millennial generation, we think we deserve it. So if a relationship isn’t working out? Forget about working through it…it’s time to toss it out the window. If an assignment requires any actual rigor, it’s automatically the professor’s fault for making it too hard. Technology has made our lives so incredibly easy (relatively speaking, of course), that when there is any challenge in life, we think we are doing something wrong.

I found myself recently caught in this trap. I felt I needed to go Beyond Google.

Yesterday, I was having a great day. Outlet shopping with a great friend, reading a great book in a beautiful park with a mini waterfall, and the whole day it was bright, beautiful, and sunny. It felt like summer, and so did I. The last thing I wanted to do when I got back from all of that was write a paper for grad school. I just wasn’t feeling it. I was texted my friend, being that annoying one, “I’m boredddd what should I do?!” No matter what he said, I wasn’t going to be happy with it. I wanted something outside of my routine.

So I did a quick Google search: “Things to do in Buffalo, NY.”

Usually, nothing comes up. There is plenty, oh don’t let me fool you. But for a random Saturday night in the middle of winter/spring, to find something that I actually wanted to do usually doesn’t happen. So I was shocked when I saw “MusicalFare presents Rodgers & Hammerstein’s CAROUSEL.” I frantically looked at my watch. It was 7:37pm…show time was in 23 minutes. Without thinking twice, I hopped in my car and drove to see the production.

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  1. It was great. Not my favorite show in the world. The cast did an amazing job, but the actual show itself just wasn’t my favorite.
  2. All of this is just a preface for this entire post…going Beyond Google. If the story ended here, it would be a great advertisement for why Google rocks. It does, but not all the time.

Case in point: I have been searching Google since last August, since I moved to Buffalo, looking for groups to join, meet-ups to go to, and friends to make. And as of right now, more than seven months later, I still haven’t done any of that. Why? Because Google always showed a big zero. Buffalo has amazing things to do, but how to get involved in any of them still remains a mystery.

Unintentionally, I went Beyond Google last night when I spotted a pile of magazines on my way out of the theater. It caught my eye because I saw two men on the cover, holding a small child. “LGBT FAMILIES” it said in bold capital letters printed across the page. In the magazine, there were three whole pages just for LGBT events in the Buffalo area…things that I have been looking for since August!

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So on a whim, I decided to go to a show (which I love doing), and even though the show wasn’t my favorite, I think everything happens for a reason. I found that magazine and now feel so much more connected to the LGBT community in Buffalo, just from reading a few pages. And now, I’m signed up for an LGBT book club with other people in the Buffalo community. All the books are written either by LGBT authors or are about LGBT topics, and I can’t freaking wait.

How can you challenge yourself to go Beyond Google?

The Twentysomething Roller Coaster

Hello people!

I am here this week for two very specific reasons:

  1. To write my weekly blog post, for without it, I don’t believe I would be able to maintain my sanity, and
  2. To follow up on last week’s blog post, which received the biggest disparity in comments yet.

In summary, last week’s post may have been a little melancholy, if you will, but I certainly didn’t mean for it to be an external request for any type of pity. I was simply expressing how I felt at that time. And how could you blame me, with this looking like my Easter Sunday?blog3
It’s okay though. I finished that paper, and in the constant struggle of grad school, I feel like I accomplished something. But as soon as I posted last week’s post, a multitude of reactions occurred:

  1. Friends started commenting, “This is so relatable!” …which I absolutely love because it makes me feel less insane.
  2. My mom sent me a Facebook message: “Honey, is everything okay? You have me in tears over here!” Yes mom, thank you for your concern, and
  3. I received a phone call from one of my best friends from college, as a check-in, not only about the post but about life in general.

I went to bed that night feeling much better, simply because of the reactions from a few hundred words on my page (so thank you to all of you readers). But it didn’t stop there. The next day, the encouragements continued to flow:

  1. First thing in the morning, a friend from work came into my office with a little metal Easter pail full of hand-dyed Easter eggs. I was in tears…such a thoughtful gesture.
  2. Later that afternoon, I came back to my office to find a bag of Lindt chocolate eggs on my desk with a little note from a student I work with. It said, “Not dyed Easter eggs, but chocolate eggs are close enough right?” YES! Yes they are.
  3. AND THEN fast forward to Friday, when I received a package in the mail from the same friend who called me last Sunday, filled with plastic shreds of green Easter grass, Easter candy, and a handwritten note.blog2blog4blog

The message here, people, is that love is all around. I just didn’t realize it. However, that certainly doesn’t undermine how lousy I was feeling last week, sitting on the floor of my apartment writing papers while everyone else seemed to be enjoying Easter hams and laughs with family and friends.

People say that life is a game. I see that. I’m going to alter the metaphor a bit and say life is an amusement part. And let me tell you, being a twentysomething is one hell of a roller coaster. There are constantly ups and downs, leaps forward and then miles backward. And after it’s all said and done, it feels like your stomach has been ripped from your body and you want to throw up everywhere. Yup, I’d say that pretty accurately describes this twentysomething life. Hopefully, as we progress into older stages of the amusement park life, we can enter more calm rides, such as the Ferris Wheel. Or the Merry-Go-Round. Yes, that would be wonderful.

But until then, here are some tips to riding that Twentysomething Roller Coaster:

1. Know Yourself
What causes your ups? Your downs? Being aware of this is the first step in losing the barf bag. For me, I know family and friends are my Ups. When grad school and work start to become too overwhelming, I can feel the Downs. Being self-aware is one of the best ways to be ahead of the game. You can prepare ahead. Playing piano is another Up of mine, so I know that if I’ve been sloping down for too long, heading to a piano room to practice is just what I need to be on the fast track back Up.

2. Going Backwards is Okay
It’s part of the journey. Sometimes, you have to go backwards in order to move forwards again. You may have to hit rock bottom (more than once), but then, there’s only one way to go from there, and that’s up. Those rides backwards are frustrating, and it sucks, but they are necessary. It makes you appreciate the better times, the times where you feel Up, the times where you don’t want to vomit everywhere. Reflecting back on the Downs, or the Backwards Times, I can now see that it was better that way in the long run, even though I wanted to jump off the roller coaster more than once during those times. It’s okay. Things will come back around.

3. Embrace It
There will be ups. And there will be downs. Accept it. Find a way that works for you. Make the ride your own. Going Down might be inevitable (so many things are out of our control), but why not live it on your own terms? We can anticipate life like a real roller coaster. The anticipation of climbing uphill, slowly and slowly with each tick of the metal on the track, for nothing else but to come whooshing down and curving around a sharp bend. Look forward. Know that there will be downs, but that eventually, things will come back to equilibrium.

4. Enjoy the Ride
You only get one. One ticket for admission: it can either be a general ticket or the best ticket in the park. My grandmother recently celebrated her eightieth birthday, and she has had one long ride. Ups and Downs for eighty years. She’s lived through a lot of twists and turns but I know that she is a stronger person for it. And we will be too…stronger people. So my last piece of advice for this roller coaster would be to buckle up, hold and tight, and live life to the fullest.

Easter Blues

What I did last Sunday:
-Woke up at approximately 7:30am
-Made myself a cup of coffee
-School work until approximately 10:00am
-Made myself a second cup of coffee, two eggs (over-medium), and two pieces of toast
-Did laundry
-Cleaned
-Went grocery shopping
-Finished homework

What I did this Sunday:
-Woke up at approximately 7:30am
-Made myself a cup of coffee
-School work until approximately 10:00am
-Made myself a second cup of coffee, two eggs (over-medium), and two pieces of toast
-Did laundry
-Cleaned
-Went grocery shopping
-Finished homework

Needless to say, I like having a routine.

Why should the routine have changed today? Well, today is Easter! So Happy Easter to all. Regardless of having a routine, I have noticed that my Easters have changed a bit in the past twentysomething years.

Easter Twentysomething Years Ago
“Michael! Michael! The Easter Bunny came! Come see!” I jumped out of bed, little toes in little slippers, running down the staircase taking two steps at a time. “Look, Michael!” My waxy wicker Easter basket, spray painted sky blue, was filled with candies, chocolates, and toys. Green plastic grass spilled over the sides of the basket. I raced to the kitchen, shocked every single year that the Easter Bunny left a note, ate the carrots, and left only the nubs with dad-shaped teeth marks at the end. It was a holiday that didn’t really mean anything to me, not religiously anyway. But it meant springtime. It meant family and good food. It meant love around the table. 

Easter 2015
-Woke up at approximately 7:30am
-Made myself a cup of coffee
-School work….
Do I need to continue? No, I think you get the picture.

Needless to say, things have changed a bit from twentysomething years ago.

First things first, I’m no longer four years old, and I don’t believe in the magic of the Easter Bunny. But even just a few years ago, I believed in the magic of life. The reciprocity of giving magic to others who needed it most. But now, I feel like Tim Allen in the second Santa Claus movie right before all his magic drained out. I feel tired. And not just in a I need more sleep kind of way. Tired in a my mind and body is exhausted kind of way. I guess grad school will do that to you, right?

I also miss everyone, and that’s especially challenging around holidays. My family lives five hours away and most of my close friends don’t live around me. And those that do, they have their own families and their own Easter dinners and their own plans.

Last night, I called my dad in a moment of distress. “I’m lonely and I’m having an awful night.” Words like that don’t usually exit my mouth. In my head? Sometimes. But they usually stay there. Because what can my dad do from five hours away? Also, I tell myself that since I’m a grown man, I’m not allowed to be lonely anymore. Which I now realize is silly. “What am I supposed to do?” I asked him. “I miss holidays when I was around the family.” His advice? “Well, son, it’s time for you to find a partner and make your own family!”

OKAY DAD THANK YOU FOR MAKING ME FEEL SO MUCH BETTER. It’s not like partners grow on trees, you know!!

So this year, I was left with no family around the table, no partner to make my own family with, and no homemade Easter Ham. I did the best I could, though. I bought a mini ham, cooked up some salt potatoes, and microwaved some canned carrots with a little bit of brown sugar on top…not like my mom’s at all (but at least I tried). Later, when I was grocery shopping, my cart acted as a magnet and was drawn towards the section full of Easter candy. And just for the hell of it, I bought three Russell Stover chocolate eggs: caramel, coconut, and marshmallow. And I’m going to eat every single one of those chocolate eggs and not feel bad about it. Because if that’s going to be my one and only Easter indulgence for this year, then so be it.

I’m worried that my twentysomething perception of the world is going to be forever ingrained in my head. “When will it change? When will it be different?” I asked my mom this morning. “When you have your own kids,” she responded. And even though that is in the far future, I sure hope she’s right. Because right now, I’m seeing everything through cloudy gray lenses. The world didn’t stop today for Easter like it did so many years ago. Nothing about my routine changed. Nothing in the world was different. The grocery store was still open, people were still rushing through the aisles and honking impatiently on the road…it’s not special anymore. This year, I didn’t even dye Easter eggs, a tradition that I’ve done every single year since as far back as I can remember, even if it meant sitting alone with a dozen of eggs to myself in my college dorm room.

Maybe this is just a part of growing up. Or maybe this is only temporarily. I think I’m going to go talk to Russell Stover and see what he thinks…