Friday, January 31, 2014

Friday Favorites

How are your resolutions coming along? I kind of gave myself the month to prepare for mine so I can go full-speed come February...uh, so I guess tomorrow. This way I'm all excited about making changes when everyone else's excitement is wearing off. 

Or - maybe I was a little too reluctant to start anything, and this is what I'm telling myself to get motivated. Either way, I am on my way to happier, healthier goals. But no matter how many good habits you adopt, you will always have those few bad ones you just can't give up completely. I certainly have more than a few, and here are my favorites:

1. Surprise, surpise: junk food/desserts. This is definitely not a good habit, but it sure is delicious! Will I ever give it up? Nope. Will I learn the art of limiting? Yes! This will (must) be the year!

Brownie cookie ice cream sandwiches with homemade
peanut butter ice cream!

2. Fidgeting. I cannot sit still for the life of me. I don't understand how people do it. I'm sure people sitting by me on the bus or in a meeting want to chain me to my seat, and that's probably the only way to stop me. But it burns calories! Some research suggests it can burn up to an extra 350 a day. That seems a little high, but I'm happy with an extra 10.

3. Internet surfing the night away. The amount of hours I let go by while cozied up with my laptop is unreal! Some studies show, though, that the more we surf, the better our brains can be at strategizing! I know this isn't free license to keep wasting so much time on Twitter with 12 other tabs open, but it does make me feel a little less guilty!

4. Stomach snoozing. The worst sleeping position for your health (back pain..wrinkles..the list goes on) is the most comfortable for me. Very rarely will I fall asleep in any other position.  I will try to get used to other positions, but this will always be my go-to.

5. Tanning - outdoors and indoors. I almost didn't include this, but this blog is about honesty, so here it is. I don't tan indoors as much as I used to, but I still go in from time to time and won't say no to soaking up the sun during the summer if I get the chance. I need a little glow during the winter, and nothing compares to the feeling you get from true sunshine. Considering how little sun time I actually get in a given year, it's probably not the worst thing, but it's not the greatest either, and that's why it's a bad habit.

Can you imagine being here right now!?
6. Leaving one drink's worth of beverage in the container for much too long. It may be irritating to others (or just one other) sharing the fridge with me, but when I finally get around to clearing everything out, a nice, clean fridge gives me a false sense of accomplishment.

7. Straw chewing. It can't be good for my teeth, and it can't be fun to watch for anyone sitting across from me, but I always end up doing it without even noticing until all I have is a wrinkly, unusable piece of plastic in front of me.

Glass straws - an easy cure!
8. Staying up too late on a Netflix binge. I know how terrible it is to skimp on sleep, but sometimes a show is just that good. It just can't be every show, every night or weekend. 

9. Literal face time with my cats. Other than me, of course, there is nothing Sebastian loves more than rubbing his head all over the dirtiest shoe he can find. Considering I already struggle with acne, this should probably deter me from putting my face anywhere near his, but there is just no resisting these adorable faces.

10. Assuming the worst. Give me any situation, and I will rattle off the worst possible outcome. It gets me into trouble sometimes, but it also helps me keep a realistic mindset. I just need to find more of a happy medium between this and impractical optimism. 

Probably not the best motto to live by!

Have a good weekend! Indulge in a bad habit or two...but get back on track asap!

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Can 30 just be 30?

Meg Jay, a clinical psychologist in Virginia, gave a TED talk back in May, giving all of us struggling 20-somethings one more thing to worry about. You know that comforting saying "30 is the new 20?" Not true, she says. 

It was October, just one hour after learning a new position I was planning on getting fell through, when I stumbled across her comments. I wanted to throw myself my computer out the window. She did have some valid points, so maybe 30 isn't the new 20, but if we're going to try to label it - it's not the 30 it used to be either.

We hear labels like this all the time: 50 is the new 30! No, 50 is the new 65! 60 is the new 40! 70 is the new 60!  Why can't age just be what it is - a number? Why the expectations at certain increments? Why, when we live in a society so adamant that it values differences and individuality, are we expected to have completed the exact same checklist as everyone else just because we had a birthday?

Now, I admit I totally fell for 30 as the new 20 because it made me feel better about where I'm sitting halfway there. "Sure, I'm not where I hoped to be at 25, but hey, it's okay because 25 isn't really 25, and I'm at least on the right path." Then I read Meg's reasons for why this mindset is wrong:  
  • 80 percent of life’s most defining moments take place by   age 35.
  • The first 10 years of your career have an exponential impact on how much you’ll earn.
  • Over half of Americans are with their future partner by 30.
  • The brain has its second and last growth spurt in your 20s.

I'm not sure what I can do about my brain spurting, so I'll leave that alone, but now it feels like I have to view my life through a point system. So how am I doing? Career? Nope. Minus 25 points. Married? Yes! Add 30 points! Kids? Um...hopefully when I'm - you guessed it - 30. Minus 25 points.

Does this mean people without those negative points are winning at life and I'm not? And why is this measuring life on such a narrow scale? Is there nothing but a career and creating offspring with a partner? What about people who spend these years traveling? What about creating great friendships? What about finding a religion or something bigger to believe in? What about adopting by yourself at 35 or 40? 

This checklist constantly looming at the back of my mind is what has me tossing and turning every night, paranoid about being a failure. 

Further confusing the situation, I'm always hearing from older people, after they find out I'm 25 (and get over the shock that I'm not a teenager, despite my appearance), that I need to relax, that my whole life is ahead of me - the exact attitude people like Meg warn against.

 Now, I do understand where she's coming from. Avoiding procrastination, whether related to school or a job or 50 bad dates with the same type of loser guy, is always excellent advice - for anyone at any age in any era. This whole lecture on not wasting your life away could just as easily apply to people in their 20s (or 30s or even 40s or 50s) decades ago or in decades to come.

 So back off a little, please, because although there are plenty of people carelessly letting their lives go to waste, there are also plenty of us fighting an uphill battle with all our might. Higher education is increasingly and outrageously expensive, the job market is incredibly unstable and becoming a wife or mother is not the ultimate goal for women anymore, so we're not all fitting into the expected perfect mold.

My 25 obviously doesn't fit into Meg's ideal model, and it doesn't look like that of thousands of other 25-year-olds. My 30 won't either. It will just look like... me at 30. And if your 30 is a solo trip overseas or you as a student, a coffee shop manager, teacher, stay-at-home-dad or CEO, as long as we're all learning and growing and able to go to sleep smiling, I say we can all check off success. 


Saturday, January 25, 2014

Friday Favorites

We have been stuck in what feels like a never-ending ice tunnel with no light in sight. With forecasts of negative anything for a high, it's hard to be optimistic - not only about the weather, but pretty much everything else. 

 Today I overheard someone say, "Life's too short to live somewhere where you're miserable most of the year." True, I thought, so I guess my options are to move or to adjust my attitude. I can't exactly pick up and move at the moment, so I tried to think of all the good things this season brings, and here is what I came up with!

Winter clothes and accessories. I love scarves, mittens and boots, I really love that for five months out of the year I can get away with leggings and giant shirts and sweaters, and I reeeallly love layering so much people at Target over the weekend can't tell if I'm all dressed up or just wearing what I slept in:)

A picture from high school!!
 Dogs in sweaters and booties! 

Comfort foods - bad for the waistline, amazing for the soul.

The holidays, of course! The best time of the year during the worst time of the year? It can't be coincidence. 

The glorious feeling of a rare 30-degree day.

 The fact that ice cream is delicious year-round:)

The perfect excuse to do nothing but cuddle up on the couch under piles of blankets and just veg out. Suddenly everyone wants to be cool like me and stay in.


There are actually a lot of fun outdoor activity options, from skiing and sledding to snowman making. Remember playing in the snow for hours as a kid? I need to find where that courage/energy came from and get out there again!

The beauty of snow. If you can take a step back from looking at it as an annoyance, a hazard, etc. (I know it's a long list), snow is really kind of cool. It is so pretty, and there is almost a reverent stillness about it. Go outside alone sometime when it's snowing, preferably dark, and where it's quiet. Just standing there listening to nothing but the snowflakes falling can bring an overwhelming feeling of peace you wouldn't expect. 


 Snow days and cancellations of things you didn't want to do in the first place!

Feeling grateful for the fact that you actually have a car or home to warm up in.

Winter Olympics!

 Caring even less about leg shaving. You know it's true!

Awards season in celeb-land. Some (okay, most) of the awards may be turning into more of a joke, but if you're all about celebrity sightings, it's a great time of year.

So many amazing TV shows are on right now! 
That awesome, proud moment when you almost wipe out on the ice but save yourself at the last second.

 A brand, new year full of possibilities starts right in the middle of it all.

 The fact that with every new day, spring is on its way!

 Lake Calhoun will soon be this!

Whether you curl up with a book or strap on some snowshoes, have a great weekend!

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

A glimpse into the life of . . .

             BRYAN LOWEREE
I met Bryan my freshman year in college. My first thought? "Another football player. In a freshman dorm. Yay." 

But something stood out. He was different: genuine, kind, respectful - and a very talented musician. Plus, he started dating one of the girls in my hall, and they're still together and so adorable.

He eventually started to focus more on his music and played at a local coffee shop's open mic night every week. I often went and watched, hoping he'd someday be able to share his gift with an audience larger than just the few of us who were there. 

Well, now he is, and I couldn't be happier for him - and the fact that he took some time out of his crazy schedule to answer a few questions for me! Check it out!

Current profession: Lead singer of country band 32 Below

How long have you been with the band, and how did you get involved with them in the first place? I've been in the band since January 1, 2013.  

I first met the guys in Jamestown, when a band I was in at the time opened up for them.  In April of 2012 I moved to Nashville, TN, to play drums, and I got a call from them in August, telling me their singer quit.  So I moved back to Fargo in September and started rehearsing.  

First job ever: I installed insulation in houses when I was 16.  It was awful!

Dream job: I have two! Performing in front of thousands of people each night with the band is my first.  My second: kicking in the NFL.

What advice would you give someone interested in pursuing the same (or a similar) profession? Practice, practice, practice!

How would you describe your band's music? Country/Rock

What instruments do you play? Guitar and drums. I sing and play acoustic guitar in the band.

When did you start playing/singing? I started at Jamestown College.  Why? Because I thought it would help my chances of getting a date!

Favorite part about performing? I love interacting with the crowd.  Each crowd is different, so it makes it really fun for me to show them what we are all about.

What has been the biggest challenge/success so far in your career path? One of the biggest challenges in music is that I am "working" when everyone else is on their weekend. So I have had to miss weddings, birthdays and some holidays.

One of the biggest successes for me may not sound like a huge success to someone else, but I have been writing this past year and have been playing the new songs with the band.  I really enjoy the process of how a song goes from a guitar and my voice, to the full band on the radio. 

What has been the biggest challenge/success for the band? The biggest challenge is keeping our set list fresh.  We like to change our show so our fans get a little something different each time.

One huge success for us was playing the Red River Valley Fair this past summer.  We opened up for The Band Perry and got to play for 22,000 people!  It was a blast.

What is the most valuable lesson you have learned throughout your 20s so far? If you get an opportunity to do something that you absolutely love, then do it!

When you are 50 what do you want to be able to look back and say about your life right now? That I was able to play music and travel the country with some great friends.  But more importantly, that I had the support of my wonderful lady, Brittney!

How do you define success? Success can be measured by a lot of different things like money or happiness.  In my life and line of work, success is being able to perform for people all over the country and knowing that for the 3.5 hours that they were at our show, they were able to forget about their jobs or whatever may be on their minds and just have fun.

Who has been your biggest influence, personally or professionally? Personally, my dad Steve Loweree.  It seems that when something tries to hold him back, he doesn't let it stop him.  I'm truly thankful to have a father that raised me the way he did.  Thanks, dad.

Who are your favorite bands/musicians? I love Maroon 5, the Goo Goo Dolls, John Mayer, The Eagles - there are a lot!

What is your favorite song to perform? It changes from time to time, but right now its our new song, "That Summer Night."  It can be found on YouTube and our website

What hobbies and activities do you enjoy in your spare time? I like to cook and watch movies.  I love a good beer or whiskey.  But considering the time of year, it is all about fantasy football! I have wasted many nights due to fantasy football!

What is number one on your bucket list? My dad, Steve, still hasn't seen me play with the band.  It would be the coolest thing to see him in the crowd.

Favorite ice cream flavor: Ben & Jerry's Chocolate Fudge Brownie

Next album release date? The date of our album is yet to be determined, but we just released our second single this year: "That Summer Night.”

Go listen now! Thanks, Bryan!
 All pictures are from the official 32 Below website.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Friday Favorites

If I'm not talking about working out, I'm talking about food.

Today's favorites are five foods I cannot seem to get enough of lately!

1. Overnight oats. 

There are hundreds of recipes out there, but mine is plain and simple: Oats, almond or coconut milk and peanut butter. I throw it in the fridge, add a banana in the morning, and I have a yummy (and sticky) breakfast that keeps me full for up to four hours! I've been having this every day at work for the past month, and I'm so happy I'm finally eating something in the morning that fills me up until lunch.

2. Popcorn - specifically, plain, air-popped popcorn. 

No butter, no salt, nothing. We grew up only using an air popper rather than microwave, and it tastes so much better. It's also healthy! 

3. Fage yogurt with honey.

This is my favorite brand of Greek yogurt. It tastes great, and I like that the flavoring is in a separate container. I just dip my spoon in a little at a time and end up eating less than half of it, which is a huge plus because this is where most of the sugar is hidden! Strawberry used to be my favorite flavor, but I finally gave in and tried the honey, and now it's all I want.

4. Amy's brown rice, black-eyed peas and veggie bowl.

 I know, I know, frozen meals are the worst. But if you're not a cook, they're kind of the best. You just have to be very picky when choosing them. This one is wonderful because its 11 grams of protein keep you full, and it only has 5 grams of sugar and 580 mg of sodium - all good numbers for a frozen meal. The taste is excellent too!

5. Hot chocolate.

 More beverage than food, I know, but I can't stop drinking it. I somehow forgot how satisfying a hot, rich, comforting mug of this deliciousness can be, but now that I've remembered, I keep going back for more!

Have a good-food-filled weekend!

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

DOs and DON'Ts at the gym

January: The most hated month of the year by regular gym-goers. 


Inspired by this hilariously accurate video I recently watched,  I am offering a little advice to all gym lovers, newbies or veterans, as both an employee and a regular.

DO read your contract when you sign up! That tiny print can cover a lot of things you won't think of until it's too late.

DON'T go right after work (if you work typical 9-5 hours). If you must, be prepared for lines and a crowded, smelly, grumpy mass of people.

DO try new classes! You could find a passion you never knew you had. Your workout routine needs variety, and most classes are full of both experts and beginners.

DON'T just do only cardio or only strength! Again - variety!

If a free training assessment is offered, DO it. It's a great learning opportunity, but DON'T feel pressured into buying anything if you're not ready or can't afford it.

DO wear appropriate attire: No jeans, no flats and no booty shorts, please.

DON'T bring anything valuable with you. It's just not worth the risk. If you absolutely have to, invest in high-quality lock.

DON'T make unnecessary noise. This includes talking on your phone, singing along to whatever you're listening to, having the loudest conversation possible with your best friend on the elliptical next to you, grunting like a caveman or dropping weights like it's your job.

DO wipe off machines and pick up after yourself.

DON'T peek at the treadmill (or StairMaster, elliptical, etc.) screen of the person next to you. You're not as sneaky as you think you are, and it's none of your business.

DO report equipment problems to a staff. They're not constantly monitoring the machines, so speak up if something's broken.

DON'T get on a treadmill right next to someone when five others are open. It's weird. And annoying.

DO the appropriate exercises in designated areas. It's called  squat rack for a reason.

DON'T shower there unless you really have to, and if you do, make sure you DO wear flip flops!

DON'T waste everyone's time by sitting around on a machine you've claimed as yours for the past 10 minutes. You don't need a nap between every set.
If you belong to a corporate gym, DO remember staff members, including most managers, are really just messengers with no way to affect policies or practices, so treating them poorly doesn't do anything other than make you look like a jerk and become a funny story for them to tell their friends.

DON'T take selfies. No explanation should be needed.

DO learn the guest policy before showing up with a guest you expect to bring in for free.

DON'T stare at people. It's creepy and awkward in any context.


DO make your membership worth it! It eats up your time and your money, so put in the effort.

DON'T stay later than closing time. Why is your time more valuable?

DO ask for help if you don't know how to use or do something.The payoff of doing an exercise correctly is worth much more than saving yourself the small amount of embarrassment you may feel for being unsure.

DON'T forget about hygiene. Yes, you're expected to work up a sweat, but please wash your gym clothes regularly and remember to put on deodorant. 

DO try to abide by the limited time guidelines for busy hours usually posted near cardio equipment. If 20 minutes just seems too short, cut your 45-minute run to 30 minutes and push yourself a little harder. Everybody wins.

DON'T think you're above - or below - having a personal trainer. If you can afford the sessions, try it! No matter how long you've been working out, you'll learn new moves to mix up your routine.

DO talk to people. It's a great environment for meeting others who share the same passions as you! But learn how to read body language and take a hint. Not everyone wants it to be a social experience.


  DON'T look around and compare yourself to others.

DO be proud of yourself for being there!