Mastering a Goal

Good morning and Happy Monday! I’ve been a little more quiet on the blog lately, because I’ve been putting the finishing touches on a very long-term goal… my THESIS!

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I started graduate school in 2010, twoweeks after I got married, and two months after I had scored a big promotion. I remember nervously sitting around a table of unfamiliar faces, still glowing from my honeymoon, starting to freak out a little bit as my eyes scanned the lengthy syllabus of research methods. At work, I went from a copywriter to a content manager, managing a team of three people, writing Facebook updates and blogs for nine different brands. I worked at least 45 hours a week and went to class at night, exhausted, bleary-eyed and hungry, but I made it through with my laptop, diet coke and the support of my husband and family.

I had intended for grad school to take two years, but as the reality of school set in, I knew it would take longer. I ended up staying for three years, and in those three years, I met wonderful friends, some of whom read this blog. (Hi Julie, Emily, Lauren, Virginia and Luis!) I also worked my way through stress-eating (Something I’m still fighting), cried when my 36 page literature review came back for the 10th time needing more revisions (I’m not exaggerating. That %&$#! lit review came back ten times!), traveled to Thailand, lost my sweet kitty Leo, and did a million other things. Life always went on, but it went on with a giant weight on my shoulders – my thesis. I turned down fun party invitations, missed family vacations and spent hours glued to my computer. I wrote and re-wrote huge chunks of the same text, over and over again. I made a lot of sacrifices for the past three years to work on this thesis, but I was always grateful I had the opportunity to be learning and to be in grad school. It was hard. But I did it.

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The first photo of me as Alyssa Curran, MA. Taken minutes after my thesis was approved – with happy tears still shiny in my eyes!

Last Thursday, at 2 pm, I paced the hallways of the Mike Curb College of Arts, Media and Communication while my thesis committee deliberated my final project. I had come prepared with 106 pages of my own work, two PDFs of the social media handbook you can read at SocialSyllabi.com, and a cheat sheet of notes. I defended my project in front of two women I greatly respect, both who are doctorates, one in education, one in journalism, women who have worked at the Los Angeles Times and have been embedded in war zones. At the end of an hour and a half of changes, they signed a paper and shook my hand – I had just earned my master’s degree!

When they signed the paper, I wanted to leap across the table and hug them. Tears flooded my eyes and I had to do that embarrassing fan-your-face thing to prevent myself from bursting into happy, joyous tears. I have worked SO HARD for this degree, and I am so proud of myself. I’m not usually a braggart (ok, fine, sometimes I can be), but I’ve been basking in my accomplishment the past week. I have a MASTER’S DEGREE before I’m even 28 years old. THAT is awesome. THAT is accomplishment. THAT is hard work, and opportunity, and commitment – and THAT reminds me that this whole weight loss thing? It might be the hardest thing I’ve ever worked on in my life, but I can do this, too. My Master’s Degree taught me a lot. Not just about dedication and time, but about perseverance. About not throwing in the towel when all you want to do is quit. About keeping going, when your eyes are heavy and your heart is tired. About not comparing yourself to others, about realizing this journey is your own – no one elses, and if your heart is in it, you will get there, regardless of your pace. I need to remember these thoughts, these feelings, when the number on the scale is up, when my jeans feel snug, when I compare myself to a thin girl and think that I am not enough. I can do this. I will do this.

My sweet friend Ruby and I in 2008. We are still friends to this day!

My sweet friend Ruby and I in 2008. We are still friends to this day!

My master’s degree is so much more to me than just a paper saying I’m well educated in the field of mass communication and media. It’s a reminder for me that when I work hard, I can do anything. I just need to remember to take it one step at a time, believe in myself, and try my best. On May 21 I’ll once again walk across the Oviatt Library steps, exactly five years after I earned my BA in Journalism in the same spot. In a lot of ways, I’m a different person than who I was in 2008, but one thing remains the same – my ambition to make my life worth living to the fullest, every minute of every day. I am proud of the person I am, and you should be proud of who you are, too.

So tell me – what is one thing in your life, big or small, that makes you proud of the person you are today?

 

Weekly Weigh In

Yummy Mini Cupcakes at Amy's Shower (I only had 2!)

Hi everybody! How was your weekend? Mine was awesome and very busy with seeing Dark Knight (surprisingly loved it – I’m not a big action movie person but I really liked the storyline), attending my sweet friend Amy’s bridal shower, getting a mani/pedi with my buddy Jenny, and then heading to Pasadena to have dinner and birthday drinks with our girl Hilda. It was a super social weekend and jam packed with fun. I haven’t done a weigh in post in awhile because I figured you all see the ticker on the right hand side of the page, but it seemed like a good time to check in with you all!

As of this morning I’m holding steady at 7 pounds lost – not as far along in my weight loss journey as I’d like, but certainly better than losing nothing or worse – gaining! There’s one major obstacle standing in my way. I’m getting better and better with the eating, especially portion control – but what I’m struggling with is exercise. By the time I get home from work and clock some thesis hours, I’m too tired and lazy to go to the gym. Does anyone have any tips for me? I have my gym bag packed and in my car so tomorrow on my way home from work I can go right to the gym, and with my new job, I have no excuse because I will seriously drive right past it. I’ve also debated exercising in the morning, as I’ve heard that getting that early morning endorphin rush can help set the tone for a great day. Any early bird fitness freaks out there? What do you think?

I know if I can get my butt back into gear, the weight will start sliding off. Today I had a major “WHOA” moment when I realized Matt and I head to Thailand in 4 short months and 23 days! I have about 14 pounds to lose until my first mini goal, so I think that’s a reasonable amount of time to safely and slowly shed that weight without having to abandon some of my favorite things. I’ll already be celebrating two major things in December – my 10 year dating anniversary with my husband, and graduating with my MA. How awesome would it be to celebrate those things just a little bit healthier and with a little more energy? Sounds awesome to me.

If you’re watching your weight, how’s it going? Any challenges? Successes? Non-Scale Victories? Chime in!

 

 

Weekend Wrap Up

**Before we get started, did ya notice my cool new header?! Isn’t it awesome?! Special thanks to Amy Adams Studios for the darling illustration and to Nathan G. for the help setting it up!

I had a really good weekend! On Saturday morning, Matt and our friend Jason ran together at the Balboa Lake Path… and I went along! Don’t get too excited, I wasn’t running (maybe one day soon), but I did bring my music and pedometer and walked a good mile and a half around the park. It was a beautiful day and I clocked in 5,000 steps!

Balboa Path

On Saturday evening, we had pizza at our friend Matt’s house (he was my Matt’s best man!) with our other dear friend Julie. Julie and I met in grad school, and we had an immediate bond due to our awkward sense of humor, sharp wits and fondness of all things delicious. (She’s a frequent commenter here on the blog – everybody say HI JULIE!) While the boys made pizza, Julie and I enjoyed our buzz and sang songs as she strummed the guitar. (FYI, WW Peeps: Widmer’s Raspberry Hard Cider is only 4 points for the whole big bottle! Boozy score!)

Julie rocks out

My officemate Sacha says “Manishewitz” when she’s frustrated, and I’ve taken to the same habit. Julie and I got in a conversation about Manishewitz the other day (she’s Jewish, I’m not, so I had no knowledge of the grapey sugar water), and I told her I wanted to try it. Julie gifted me with my very own bottle. The verdict? Tastes like grape flavored hummingbird nectar. I’m told it’s the most sneaky hangover ever, folks.

Me trying Manishewitz

The first pizza Matt F. made was a delicious pesto, potato, garlic and bacon pizza. It was perfectly delicious, with savory hints of basil and crunchy pork. I ate two pieces.

Pesto Potato Pizza

The second pizza was spicy italian sausage, roasted peppers, caramelized onions, chevre, garlic and mozzerella. I was too stuffed to have a piece of this one, and I’m not much of a goat cheese person, so I watched as the others enjoyed it.

Thumbs up for Pizza Pies

We then played Apples to Apples (husband Matt won! Go Matt!) and then stuffed our bellies once more with the amazing Popcorn CakeI found on Pinterest. I used a bag of Trader Joe’s Kettle Corn instead of buttered popcorn, and I also omitted the pretzel sticks. I used two bags of M&M’s and about 1/4 cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips. This dessert was very rich, but super yummy because of the saltiness and sweetness. It came out to about 8 points plus per serving, but I’d say it was worth it. Nom. Definitely making this again for a party.

Popcorn Cake

It was a challenging weekend in terms of healthy eating, but I tracked everything and used some flex points. I also had a good workout in there, so that should help even things out a bit. If I can keep drinking lots of water and fit in a few more workouts this week, hopefully I’ll see the loss I was expecting last week, this week. Moderation when I’m around delicious things is always the HARDEST thing for me, but I think I did okay this weekend!

So – you heard about my weekend – how was YOUR weekend?