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On July

There’s no real delicate way to put this: July has been a pretty shitty month for the Karen. Lots of small things, a couple medium things. Disappointments. I feel like I had a pretty delusional idea of where things were headed in my life and then a lot of those things got shaken up. I’m trying to cling to my faith, and take comfort in the fact that there’s a better plan (ie God’s plan) that will make the things I wanted seem uber lame years from now. I’m trying to act like a lady who has  faith and not let fears and doubts bubble up to the surface of  my mind. I know I have more than everything I need to deal right now and be happy. I hate when I get in these seasons where I just feel like stuff is screwed up and I have a hard time accepting it. I keep looking back. I keep picking the scab. Insert more metaphors.

I think it’s human nature to do these things. Even so, I am mad at myself for not totally just accepting the peace my faith can give me/has given me. I feel that peace for a while and then just decide that … peace is boring, I guess, and lose it for a bit. I let myself sink into a negative emotion because part of me just…doesn’t want to move on? It doesn’t make sense, but I can feel it happening.

My professional life is going pretty awesomely right now actually. It’s the other things that have some bumps in the road. I have lots of great friends who I don’t think I deserve half the time. I just want more. And, I consciously know it’s dumb and I should just relax and live in the moment. But, I want more just the same. I want to flip a few chapters in my story to double check that this new path I’m on is pretty good. Unfortunately, that’s not what faith is. I have to slowly read this story line by line and believe that the ending will be worth the chapter of conflict I’m in right now.

My past has taught me that this is generally the case. But all the same – when you are in these chapters it’s hard to ride it out. I feel restless. I feel impatient. I feel disappointed.

And…I feel bad for feeling bad. I really am blessed. A homeless guy on my street has asked me to give him something to eat a couple times this past week. How can I feel so bummed when I have more than enough to eat all the time? I mean, my apartment is burning up right now, but all in all my life is pretty friggin comfortable.

I try to avoid posts like this here in my happy blog space. But, I think I just want to start being totally real, and use this blog to be whatever I want it to be. And right now I just need to vent a bit and just be human. I know things will get better.


The one where I spaz about time management

I feel so overwhelmed again! So, instead of staring off into space and feeling my heart rate and blood pressure escalate, I figured I would blog about it.

Again, I am confronted with the seemingly impossible task of how to fit everything into my day as an engineering graduate student. And, it’s tough!

It’s kind of like having a full time job and taking classes at the same time, and then trying to figure out how to have time to make all my meals, sleep 8ish hours (emphasis on the ‘ish’), and like do my homework. Oh. And working out too?! Yeah, about that…

It just hasn’t been happening the last couple weeks.. This summer I had a nice little system and schedule of checks and balances worked out. I’d tennis it up on Monday, Swim on Tuesday, Bike on Wednesday and Saturday, and Run the other days. And, a lot of that had a social component tagged on to keep me accountable.

To top it all off this week I had my first late night in the lab for a couple months. It’s so depressing. I don’t want this living in the hospital complex crap to start up again.

And, after talking to my boss today, I have more work to do again, and I’m excited about it…but what about this paper for class?

But…I want to run too! I want it all!


so yeah, With these new things I guess I’m going to have to learn how to find some kind of balance and system I’m cool with again. But, as of right this very second I just feel overwhelmed….and hoping that this year is indeed easier than last….I mean, I promised my worrying mom it would be (haha).

This blog may get ‘interesting’ again soon. For now, I’m making the eating thing a priority over working out. But,  I hope I work some time management miracles soon and figure out if I can have it all. I mean, this is America, dammit!

I’ll stop spazzing for now. If any other grad students or people who work crazy hours have any tips for me about how they fit in healthy habits, leave them below, please : )


Today was a pretty active outdoorsy day, if I must say so myself. And after last night’s rain fest, it was quite a gorgeous day out there! A perfect day for kickball!

Yeah, so I joined a kickball team here in cville a couple weeks ago as an opportunity to put a little more activity in my life and meet some new people here. I think that doing activities with other people is the BEST way to maintain a healthy lifestyle. If I knew more people that were my skill level at other sports like tennis and ultimate frisbee that’s pretty much what I would always want to be doing.

Truth be told, I kind of suck at kickball, but I’m improving and our team as a whole is pretty good (It’s great to be on the winning side hehe). Today I even handled the ball some and got bitches out (short stop, represent)! This was a significant improvement from 2 weeks ago that I was so confused once I stopped the ball I tried to go two ways at once and then fell to my knees on the sand.

After the game, I had more drama and fighting and yelling with this dude I live with, so I was in dire need some activity to get it all out of my mind. So I did a 2 mile walk/run and then a long walk around campus and back to work to hide out and be productive away from the drama clouds.

And, I really think there is a right and wrong way to fight, and whatever we do is just NOT good. It always makes me feel like curling into a ball and hiding from the world.

Really, learning the best way to confront someone on sensitive topics is an awesome life skill. I read a book on it last year that really helped me out in learning how people react in those situations and what the best tactics are to increase the comfort level of everyone involved so the best solution can be obtained. I wish I could make this required reading for the world, because no one seems to worry about making me feel uncomfortable. Ok. End rant.



Me and Meat, Part 1

It looks like I am slowly but surely embracing the vegetarian lifestyle. I’m reluctant to label myself a vegetarian though. When I hear the word, I immediately think of crazy hippies running into labs freeing the animals and spraying rich women’s fur coats with red paint. Yeah, that’s not me. Honestly, as a scientist, I believe in the food chain. Predator-Prey relationships are completely natural. Would you ever expect a lion to stop eating the weak, delicious gazelle just because he realized the gazelle likes being alive?

That’s just the way it is. And if we lived in a world where my strong (and dark and handsome…hehe) husband went out into the woods every couple weeks and shot us our dinners while I went out back and milked Bessie  and collected eggs then I would be cool with it. But…we don’t!

We live in a world of mass production and convenience. We need to kill the animals faster than they can grow up on their own, so we inject them with unnatural crap that I don’t think we even realize the true consequences of yet. We live in a world where so many animals are getting eaten we have to pack them in wall to wall, giving them a pretty shitastic sad existence.

When I was younger, I kind of imagined the animals running around on a happy farm in the sunshine before they were killed. It really doesn’t happen that way. It clicked when I learned more about how animals are treated in lab facilities for research. So much care is given to the cage conditions and making sure the animals are as content as they can be in such a cage. Why don’t we give that much care to the animals that we eat, which probably make up a way bigger percentage of animals being sacrificed regularly than the animals used in research do.

So yeah, there’s ethical meat out there from small farms and I totally support it. It’s also pretty expensive (but in my opinion, totally worth it if you plan on continuing to eat meat). Honestly, if you think about the fact that you are what you eat, spending a bit more to fuel yourself well seems more worth it, in my opinion. Think about it. You eat, you sleep, and you drink. Those are some of the most important things we do each day to stay alive, and we often do a shitty job of them because of stressful and overfilled days. Last semester I bought some organic, small farm meat and it was the most delicious chicken I’ve ever had – so moist and full of flavor. Chicken and I don’t really hang out much anymore, but if we did, I’d be all over that.

I never really intended to give it up 100%. I didn’t want it to get to a point where I became nuisance – always having to explain WHY and needing special stuff made for me when I went out. But, I do want meat to make up a very small part of my total food intake (about 1-2 meals a week  max). If one day I take the plunge, and decide to embrace the label of vegetarian, that will be cool too. But, gradual change is much more sustainable, and the 1 meal per week thing has been really working for me.

People often say that they NEED meat to feel energized, and I have found that’s not the case at all. I honestly feel 10 times better and more energized from eating pure, nutrient dense foods. My body feels clean, and I think long and hard about putting stuff in it that will take that feeling away. Also, I no longer crave it at all (And I also don’t crave sweets at all any more which is REALLY bizzare, I have a bag of untouched easter candy in my room from my mom). I kind of forced down my last meat meal, a hospital caf turkey burger, to be honest.

I hope that more people in this country will realize that a meal doesn’t have to be a MEAT and a STARCH – that a complete nutrient meal is totally possible (and totally delicious!) without meat.

I also hope, that more people will start consuming meat from more ethical sources. Supply and demand control pricing. If more people start consuming it, supply will increase and price will hopefully start to come down.

Anyway, I didn’t mean to write a preachy entry at all. And I don’t judge other people’s decisions in this area. It’s up to everyone to live in a way that makes them feel morally sound. I do encourage you to research the meat industry and gain full knowledge of how the food you’re eating ends up in the store. Like I said, what you eat is a big part of your day to day existence. You have the right to know as much as you can about your food.

So, that’s me and meat’s deal right now.  It feels really weird living without it, and at the same time, I don’t want it back in my life. Sounds like a pretty healthy break-up to me!  Who knows if we’ll remain friends.

Warrior Aspirations!

So, you may remember one of my goals for this year was to enter one race to complement the running thing. Well, today I signed up for that race. But, instead of doing your typical 5K or 10K I opted for the….wait for it…..WARRIOR DASH! This 5K run includes obstacles like the lame ‘Tunnels of Terror’ and ‘Enchanted Forest’ but also some cool stuff like crawling through mud pits and jumping over fire. At the end you get your very own medal and viking hat and get to feast like a viking with ample meat and beer. If nothing else, it’s a way to check off my goal while providing ample facebook profile pic fodder at the same time (always in the back of my mind, folks!). October 9th can not come soon enough! Anyone brave enough to join me for the MidAtlantic location?!

What about now?!

Anyway, for today’s workout, I was going to run again, but ended up seeing one of my roommates for the first time in a couple weeks, and by the time we adjourned our chat the gym was closing in 20 minutes (darn spring break schedule). So I opted for a workout DVD: Biggest Loser Yoga.

This little guy is a surprisingly tough workout, strength wise. My quads, arms, and abs were all quivering at some points and I definitely worked up a nice sweat. Moreover, Bob is great at queuing. I was playing the DVD on my laptop in the corner, so it wasn’t exactly convenient to look at the screen. In spite of this, I was able to accurately do all the positions by just listening to Bob’s instructions, which was really nice.

One negative about the video is it’s not really yoga. Yeah, a lot of the positions are yoga poses, but yoga is really about the breath and flow to me, and that is just not there with this DVD. Bob really focusses on strength and weight loss,an in doing so kind of loses the essence of what yoga is. Even corpse pose was rushed! I do think I’ll try to incorporate it in my routine more though because I can really use some strength building to complement the running, especially if I wanna be able to climb those walls in the Warrior Dash (that’s the only event I’m really worried about).

Anyway, it’s a good day! I’m glad that I actually got my body moving when I felt like I was pretty close to skipping a day.



Hello world!

I’m Karen, and I am a first year doctoral student in biomedical engineering at University of Virginia. Yes, it’s a mouthful, but I promise you I am just a mad scientist by day, and in the evenings I live a relatively normal (slightly nerdy and hectic) life. I’ve been blogging in some form since junior high. In those days the blogging scene consisted of emo blogs on livejournal about how no one understood me. In the last year I’ve been blogging randomly about my life, social conventions that bother me, and reviews of awesome things. But in the last few weeks, I’ve noticed how interested I am in health and wellness, and that these are the topics I really want to be writing about.

The more I look at the world around me the more angry I get about how society is set up in a way that is making it easy for us to get fat and be unhealthy and stay that way. We are overworked and are expected not to make enough time for ourselves. Lots of us are in financial pickles at the moment and it’s hard to justify the added cost of healthy wholesome foods. Companies stuff our food with gross hormones, pesiticides, and chemicals to make it cheaper and last longer – stuff that we don’t know the effects of long term, but I’m guessing it’s not good. The hospital I work in has a depressing cafeteria stocked primarily with fried greasy entrees served on large slabs of syrofoam. Eating there makes me want to cry for our bodies and the planet. When are we going to say ENOUGH ALREADY?!

I’m starting this blog as someone who is starting basically at square one. I eat far from perfectly. My workouts are few are far between. I don’t make enough time for my health or for things to preserve my happiness. I hope that my readers will help me learn and that I may inspire some of you to start your own healthier journey. It’s never going to get any easier than it is at this moment. There will always be sources of stress, angst, and anxiety holding me back. There will always be those friends or family members who don’t understand. But starting today, I need to fight for my health and for myself.