Avoiding “all or nothing” thinking

Just thought I would take a few moments to share some thoughts on the importance of avoiding “all or nothing” thinking.  I wanted to write this because in all honesty I need this as a reminder myself, but hopefully it will help some others as well.



I know that I have shared some of my thoughts on focusing on progress, not perfection already.  Well, spoiler alert…”all or nothing” thinking is a similar concept.

I am sure you have heard that “diets don’t work” and and that you need to “make lifestyle changes”, and “allow for splurges”, “calories in versus calories out”…and other similar statements.  Well, there is a reason phrases such as these  continue to weave their way through popular magazines and diet books:  Its the freaking truth!

“Diets” dont typically work.  Losing weight, and maintaining the lost weight, requires serious lifestyle changes.  If you have spent any time looking at the weight loss literature, there is a common pattern that appears:  People can lose weight for 6 months (by decreasing calories consumed and increasing calories burned…no “magic bullet”), but then they start to re-gain the weight starting at the 6-month time point.  One of the reason for this phenomenon is the tendency that we have as humans to engage in “all or nothing thinking.”  Either we are all in on a diet, or all off.  Either eating 1500 calories every day and doing 60 minutes of exercise, or sitting on our asses and stuffing our faces with chocolate, cupcakes, pizza, etc.  And that attitude is a surefire way to fail at weight loss or weight loss maintenance!

Now, Im not trying to oversimplify this issue.  There is obviously more to this problem than just a certain attitude.    But in the three years I spent working in a weight management research center I can attest that the individuals who lost the most weight and KEPT it off were not engaging in this type of thinking.  Again, when trying to lose weight or increase fitness the goal is to strive for PROGRESS…because striving for perfection is a guaranteed way to fail.


I am writing this post because I f have found myself engaging in this thought pattern in the past, and noticed that I have been slipping in this attitude recently.  I lost a bunch of weight in grad school by counting calories obsessively.  And, it worked, albeit a little too well, as I was probably a little too thin.  Then for about two years I maintained the weight with no problem.  Why?  I was NOT engaging in “all or nothing” thinking.  If I had a social event and new I would eat more calories than normal I would exercise a little more that day, eat a smaller lunch and some low calorie snacks, and then enjoy myself at the event.  Then the next day I would go back to normal eating habits.

Well, something happened within the past few months and I have found myself back in the “all or nothing” thinking.  If I ate too much on Friday night, I would do the same on saturday because I would just say to myself “well you already screwed up, might as well throw in the towel for the whole weekend and start a super strict diet on Monday.”  Ummm yeah, it didn’t work.

So Im challenging myself, and those of you reading, to STOP this type of thought pattern.  Because nothing good comes of it.  This holds true with anything in our lives…diet, exercise, budgeting money, housework, etc.  Its such a simple concept, yet most of us struggle with it.



So just a friendly reminder that none of us will ever be perfect.  You have to enjoy life and the food you eat.  I have heard dietitians say its a matter of how much and how often you eat certain foods…you CAN have your cake and maintain you weight but budgeting your calories and physical activity appropriately…but you cant have your cake every day if its making you go over your calorie goal!

I would love to hear other individual’s thoughts on this if you want to share.  Any tips to avoid “all or nothing” thinking???


Motivation monday: One step at a time



It really is simple.  Just run.

For me, this has been the one thing I could hold on to through the past few years.  I moved away from my family and friends in Virginia, started (and finished!) a doctoral program in Pittsburgh, and then moved to Erie to take a job as an assistant professor.  Stress much?  Ummm yeah, lets just say that this was my mantra over the past few years….


Most people who know me for any length of time know how important this is to me.  No matter how busy I was at work, my fellow grad students and co-workers have always known when to say to me “its OK Annie…just go run.  You need to.”  They knew I wouldn’t be any help until after I laced up my sneakers and had at least 30 minutes to myself, with nothing but my iPod and the road.

Now don’t get me wrong, I am not a mileage junkie.  I typically only run 3 times per week.  But those three times per week keep me sane!

And, as I have complained about in the past, those three times per week were not really happening this winter.  Stupid f’ing injuries.

But, I feel like things are slooooowly starting to fall back into place, one step at a time (literally).  This weekend I did a small 5k which was the first race I have done since new years day.  I had no idea what to expect.  I told myself I was just going to take it at a moderate pace and see how I felt.

Haha…I should have known myself better than that!  Of course I ran somewhat conservative the first mile.  And then I played my favorite game:  try to pass as many women in front of me as I can!  Im happy to report that I caught a few, and was *only* about 2 minutes off of my PR.  For those of you who speak runner, you know that is a lot.  But considering my current training status, Im actually pretty happy with that.  And, the competition was pretty slim at the race, so I got second in my age group.  It at least provided a confidence boost if nothing else.


So basically, Im finally starting to feel like myself.  Not sure what my future holds with running, but Im hoping that this next year my running shoes and I can have a better relationship!

See you at the finish line 🙂

Current obsessions

So I am a total creature of habit.  And once I find something I love, I am typically at least temporarily obsessed.  So…here are a few of my current favorite things:



After dealing with injuries for a few months, I feel like Im FINALLY starting to get back on track.  Ran my first race yesterday in 6 months.  Didn’t come close to a PR, but considering my current training (or lack thereof, to be more specific), Im fairly happy with the results.  And even more importantly, it gave me the motivation I need to crack down and take running more seriously again.  I have a 5k time in my mind I want to hit, and it might never happen, but Im ready to give it a try!  I know that my VO2 max is finally on the decline (stupid 31st birthday) and its now or never 😉

Sorry for the nerd alert there…

So keep your fingers crossed Im not posting in two weeks that I hate running and my IT band.  But for now Im just rolling with it.  Only time will tell!



Quest Bars

Ive been reading a lot about these, and finally decided to seek some out the other day.  And they are pretty delicious.  Very high in protein and fiber, no gluten or sugar.  Unfortunately they are also very high in price.  But I think it is going to be my new “treat.”



OMG I love strawberry season.  I am currently obsessed.  Im eating them at every meal, and putting them on EVERYTHING.  This is a pic of my breakfast this morning:  Cottage cheese, chia seeds, protein powder, some unsweetened coconut, little bit of a chopped chocolate Quest bar (yep, combining obsessions here) and of course, strawberries!  Not going to lie, I may have shed a tear when it was all gone.


Fruit-flavored green tea

Ever since I had to give up coffee about two years ago (stupid stomach) I have tried to find various green tea blends to perk me up in the morning.  I thought this would be a perfect summer beverage, and I was right.  I will drink it hot (with a little stevia and almond milk…yes I put milk in my green tea, apparently I’m British or something) in the morning, and iced for lunch.  Super YUM!


THIS balsamic vinegar

My dad had this….and I may have stolen it from him (don’t worry, he can replace it).  Just simply amazing.  If you like balsamic vinegar and have access to trader joes, go buy this STAT.


This sweet face

Ok, ok, I know I am always obsessed with the pug.  But ever since I finished with the spring term I have actually been able to spend time with Molly.  She was my travel partner over the past few weeks, and we had plenty of time to hang out in Virginia.

So there are my current obsessions.  Some of them stick around for weeks/months/years, and some will be replaced in a few days.  Just how I roll.

So now Im going to take the pug dog for a walk, and on the way home try to get my hands on some more strawberries!!!!

Motivation Monday: Sugar detox in June

First of all, for anyone who read my post yesterday, thanks for bearing with me for a bit of an emotional moment.  Hey, Im human.  It happens.

But I thought I would do a post introducing my goal for the month of June (starting today).  I decided to jump on board with a *modified* version of the 21-day sugar detox.

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For those of you who have never heard of this, the 21-Day Sugar Detox is a 21-day (duh) program developed by Diane Sanfilippo, a Holistic Nutritionist and author of the book “Practical Paleo.”  The point is to beat sugar and carbohydrate cravings by basically eliminating them from the diet for three weeks (or drastically reducing them in terms of carbohydrates).

If anyone is interested all the information is in an e-book you can buy online, and for someone considering doing something like this I would highly recommend it!

Here is the guidelines of the foods that you can and can’t eat, and those you should limit:

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Now, I am planning on making several modifications with this program.  Im going to make it a little more flexible, and plan on doing it for the rest of the month.  So instead of the entire “detox” Im going to follow the above guidelines about 90%.  Here are my modifications to what is on the sheet above:

  • I’m including nonfat dairy, which is technically a no-n0.
  • Im not necessarily going to limit my consumption of “starchy” vegetables such as butternut squash.
  • Im letting myself have more than one serving of fruit per day, and am going to include fruits such as berries, peaches, etc.  (Hellllllo, it’s summer and the fruit is AMAZING right now).
  • Im going to make sure I eliminate gluten, but will let myself have gluten-free grains that are not included on the above list.
  • I will still use a small amount of stevia in my tea.  It will keep me from hating my life.
  • I am going to drink wine.  Sue me.

So really, it would probably be MUCH simpler to say what I wont have!  That includes any refined grains, potatoes, corn, etc., any added sugar, artificial sweeteners except stevia, and all gluten.

I will always suffer from a “sweet tooth,” but it actually hasn’t really been out of control lately.  But I want some time to focus on my diet, and see if sugar, artificial sweeteners and gluten may be contributing to some of the fatigue, trouble sleeping and moodiness I have been experiencing…for well, the past several years.

So I will try to keep some updates going about how it is going.  Ive survived day 1 with no major problems.  I will say that being home in VA and having my dad available to grill every night makes following this a lot easier!  Im going to have to break out the George Foreman when I get back to PA.  Yes, Im 31 years old and still use a Foreman grill..thats what happens when you go to grad school forever and are still living in an apartment with no deck/porch.

If anyone wants to join me you are more than welcome.  Time to say BUH BYE to sugar!!!

Remembering 6.2.2000

Greetings!  Long time no blog!  Lets just say Ive been enjoying my time in Virginia with family and also had to travel to Indianapolis for a conference and got to catch up with some friends there as well.  While there have been some blog-worthy adventures, I haven’t really felt like writing or taking pictures.  And since Im basically on vacation right now, Im not going to worry about it.  I know…I can tell you are heartbroken 😉

But I do have a post today because I need a little bit of a cathartic release.  It has nothing to do with fuel or fitness, but with life (and death) in general.

Thirteen years ago someone very important to me was killed while riding his bike.  This man was an english/theater teacher at my high school, and had been my director in high schools plays for three years.

June 2, 2000 was actually a very happy day in my life.  I went to my final day of classes and what was my last day of my senior year in high school.  I didn’t have exams, so when I left the parking lot that day at an early release I was planning only coming back for graduation.  I remember I went to park at Pence Middle School and did a running loop on some country roads.  I remember I went to my grandparents house after that, drenched in sweat and sunburned from running in the afternoon heat.  I remember eating dinner at my high school boyfriends house, and the sting of the sunburn kicking in at some point.

So really, June 3rd was when I woke up to what was, and still is, the most tragic news of my life.  I will go ahead and admit that I am incredibly lucky that I can say this was the worse morning of my life so far.

That morning I woke up and went downstairs and immediately pulled out a big slice of carrot cake from the fridge for breakfast…I know, very healthy.  I sat down in the living room and started eating my cake.  A few bites in my parents spoke up and said “we have some bad news,” or something to that effect.

They said “Joe Hiney died last night.  He was riding his bike on 33 and a car hit him.”  I don’t think I ate any carrot cake after that.

I dont remember if I started crying.  I don’t remember what my parents said after that.  I do know that my sister was still sleeping, and I went up to wake her up and tell her (she was also a student of his).  I remember going into the bathroom (yes, we have a phone in the bathroom…you would have to ask my dad about this) and calling my boyfriend at the time and telling him.  I remember calling my friend John and telling him…he hadn’t heard the news yet, and I think this is when I finally started crying.  There are other memories of that day and the following week that are just as sharp in my mind, but I will stop dwelling on the past.

Now there is a chance that some of you reading have a similar recollection of June 3rd when we learned of this tragic event.  Some of you can probably also recount every step you took that morning and what you were doing/eating/wearing when you heard the news.  But I also know that many of you were not lucky enough to know this incredible man, and I would like to take just a few moments to remember him fondly.

Joe Hiney was my mentor.  He was a father figure, friend, teacher, mentor…honestly the most incredible person I have ever known, and likely will ever know.  I have never met someone so caring, so genuine and so enthusiastic towards his students and life in general.  In fact, I feel utterly ridiculous trying to even put into words how amazing he was.  His students loved him.  The funeral and memorial service were standing room only.

One thing that only a few people knew about him was that he had a smiley face tattoo on the inside of his ankle.  I only saw it once in the three years I knew him.  When we asked him about it he was obviously embarrassed, and he said it had been a mistake.  But seriously, how can you regret a smiley face?

So to commemorate him, my friend and I got the same tattoo the day of his funeral.  And since then I know other students have done the same to remember him.



So that tattoo is almost 13 years old.  Its funny, sometimes I forget about it.  But I love when someone asks and I can say it was to remember the most important person in my life.

Knowing Mr. Hiney was a huge part of the reason I eventually became a teacher.  I have always said that if I can influence just one student a fraction of how much he influenced me, that my life will be worth living.

I feel lucky that I was in Virginia today for the first time in several years on June 2nd to visit his grave.  Normally my father goes by with some flowers to represent me, but today I got to go with him.

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For those of you who knew Joe, I hope this kindles some fond memories.  For those of you who never had the amazing opportunity to know this man, I hope that you are lucky enough to have met someone as equally amazing, and that they are still with you today.

Thanks for bearing with me and my emotions this evening…I will be back with happier news tomorrow 🙂

Snippets of Virginia so far

Well, Ive been home in the beautiful Shenandoah Valley for a little over a week now, and I am thoroughly enjoying my time.  There has been a lot of fun times catching up with friends and family, and also a lot of time just relaxing and reading and watching movies and such.  I must say I am a HUGE fan 🙂

So, what have I been up to?  Well, the weather has been BEAUTIFUL so there have been lots of walks on the country roads…

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Running at the park…

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Visiting some wineries…

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And playing with the pug outside 🙂


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There have also been a lot of fun workouts…



Some awesome food…


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And strawberry pie and vanilla ice cream 🙂




Hope everyone is having a great memorial day weekend!!!

Chocolate strawberry crunch yogurt


Sounds delicious, right?  Well this was my breakfast the other morning, and it was pretty close to eating desert for breakfast.

So whats in the bowl?  Well I took some nonfat, plain greek yogurt and stirred in a spoonful of chocolate protein powder for some sweetness.  Then I chopped up a bunch of strawberries, a few almonds, and about 1/4 of a dark chocolate Zone bar to put on top.  I intended on sprinkling chia seeds on top as well, but I was so excited to dive into this creation that I forgot.  Oh well, this bowl will surely make another appearance and next time I will remember.

Oh, and this meal is twice as good if you are shoving strawberries in your mouth while you cut more up to put on the yogurt.  Im kinda obsessed with strawberries right now…

Now, the past few posts have been rather reflective in nature.  Lets just say the whole back injury thing gave me too much time to think.  I have a few more recent thoughts to share, but this is just a little life catch-up….in case anyone cares 🙂

Im home in VA for a bit visiting friends and family.  And loving every minute.  Normally Im home over holidays, and spend most of the time running all over the place trying to see my own family, and fit in my friends when they aren’t tied up with their own holiday obligations.  I swear I often return to PA totally exhausted.  But this time Im home for about 3 weeks, although a few of those days will be spent in Indianapolis for a conference.  So I get to relax, see my family, and just enjoy the things I miss about living in the Shenandoah Valley.  And Molly is taking full advantage!


In some other good news, Im pretty much 100% back to working out like I want.  I was a little sore in my back/glutes from a workout over the weekend, so I realized I still need to be a liiiiitle bit careful.  But for the most part I can workout without worry.  Man Ive missed this.

So, I thought I would share my workout from yesterday.  I am LOVING circuit training right now!

  • 15 minutes cardio – then do the following circuit twice through
  • Squat to shoulder press – 12x
  • Bent over row – 15x each side
  • Burpees – 20
  • One-leg deadliest – 10x each leg
  • Kettlebell swings – 20x
  • Hip bridge with leg extensions (bridge up and extend each leg, one at a time) – 10x each leg
  • Plank row with rotation (see link, but I didnt do the pushup) – 10x each side
  • Plank jumps with a jack – 20x
  • Forearm plank, one-arm plank right side, one-arm plank left side – 30 seconds each
  • Finish with 15 minutes of cardio

This was actually harder than I thought it was going to be!  By the time I got to the second round the burpees and plank jumps were KILLLLLLLING me.  I was stopping to catch my breath with about 5 burpees to go, and another gym member started talking to me (Im working at the place I used to work, so some of the members who are still there remember me and want to say HI).  Normally I am very short with people and don’t like to be bothered during my workouts.  But I stopped and chatted for a bout 5 minutes because 1) This was one of the members I have known for a long time and wanted to chat with him and 2) I was about to die from burpees and was secretly thankful for a break!  But the workout was super fun….expect to see lots more like this on the blog!

Hope everyone had an equally great start to the week!