It’s the Final Countdown

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This Saturday I’m headed back to the great state of Ohio to move into my first apartment with my cute and awesome roomies, pictured above. I’m really excited to get back to Athens, my home away from home, and my packing is coming along slowly but surely. While I’m looking forward to my junior year at Ohio University, I would be lying if I said the upcoming move wasn’t giving me some considerable feelings of anxiety.

Most of these feelings are centered around the fact that when I’m at school, I’m six hours away from my family. It was really hard adjusting to the distance last year and a lot of my anxiety is coming from the knowledge that I’ll have to go through that experience again. I’m hoping that it won’t be as hard this year for a couple of reasons: I know what to expect, how to combat the homesickness, and my apartment will feel more like home then a dorm room did.

Even though I know these things, anxiety is an unreasonable little monster and doesn’t want to leave me alone. Thankfully (or maybe not, depending on how you look at it) anxiety is an old friend of mine and I’ve developed a few ways to deal with it over the years.

Talk to someone

For me, this someone is and will always be my mom. She is the perfect listener and is calm and measured where my anxiety is unreasonable and frantic. Your someone doesn’t have to be your mom or anyone in your family, but if you can find someone you’re comfortable talking to it can really help to get those feelings off of your chest. Talking might not fix any of the problems you’re worried about, but it can rationalize them and tell your anxiety to take a hike for a while.

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(GIF via http://gph.is/1a9rtBL)

Make a list

(GIF via http://gph.is/1xhfQug)

I love making lists. Grocery lists, packing lists, to-do lists; they are my jam! So now, when my anxiety keeps piling on more and more things to worry about I write them down. I write down the problem or thing that is bothering me and then if I can figure out a solution or reasonable answer to it, I write that down too. This way I get those anxious thoughts out of my brain and onto a piece of paper where they are more manageable to deal with. However, if lists just make you more anxious, definitely skip this one.

Listen to some music

I’ve been having trouble falling asleep lately and one of the tips the handy-dandy internet gave me, was to listen to some soothing music before going to bed. It’s been helping a little bit, but you can also use this tip for those moments when you just want to shut off your brain. That could mean loud rock tunes, soft piano music or acoustic covers, whatever helps you in the moment. Spotify is one of the best places to find and make your own playlists for whatever mood you are in.

Checkout this great playlist, “Dude. Chill Out.” from my friend Mary Puzder the next time you have an anxious moment and need to calm down:

Do you

When it comes to mental health everyone is different in the way they experience their ‘bad moments’ and how they cope with them. Anxiety has been my biggest enemy lately and these are the best ways that I have found to battle it. I hope one or more of them might work for you, but if you have any tried and true methods that you already use, stick to those. I’m always open for new suggestions too so if you feel up for sharing, leave a comment below!

Thanks for reading the latest installment of The State of Kate, I’ll see ya next week with a blog about the do’s and don’ts of move-in day.

Going to an Amusement Park: the Healthy Way

Heyyooooo! It’s been far too long my blog-reading friends! Okay so this post is only a couple days late, but it was delayed with good reason (at least for me).

Yesterday, I went to the Carowinds amusement park with my family and it was amazing! I don’t know about you but I LOVE rollercoasters and the adrenaline rush that comes with them. However, as someone who has been working to lose weight and eat healthier, amusement parks come with a few things that I don’t particularly love.

So here are some of my not so favorite things about amusement parks and ways to combat and or avoid them.

Eat healthy…ish

When it comes to food at one of these parks, your options are usually limited to fried foods, pizza, burgers or hotdogs. However, Carowinds had a variety of restaurants including Panda Express and Harbor House, which both had some veggies and/or salads to choose from.

Since this was a special day, I used it as my once-weekly cheat day and when we had lunch I happily ate my Chick-fil-a nuggets with two packets of ranch dipping sauce. Now, I know that’s not really a healthy decision, but I chose not to get fries with my nuggets and just pilfered a few from my sisters instead.

Another healthy-ish choice we made as a family was to stop filling up the reusable cups we bought with soda and fruit punch. After lunch we switched to Powerade and water so that we stayed hydrated, got back some electrolytes and did so with a smaller sugar intake.

Sharing is caring

One of the biggest things I’ve learned when trying to lose weight is that it only makes things worse to deprive yourself of the foods you love and it’s okay to treat yourself every once in a while as long as you do so in moderation.

I absolutely love Chick-fil-a’s waffle fries, but as one of my healthy decisions I decided not to get my own. Thankfully, we’re a food-sharing kind of family and I was able to get a few here and there from both of my sisters.

Later in the day we went to the waterpark and eventually we hit that point in the afternoon where we were exhausted and starving. So once again, we shared. My sisters and I split two soft pretzels between the three of us; it was the perfect snack and didn’t feel too heavy since we were sharing.

Finally, right before we left the park we got two funnel cakes to split between the family because who can say no to fresh fried dough with some powdered sugar sprinkled on top? I know I can’t, but there was no way I would have been able to eat one or even half of one by myself and sharing them as a family was definitely the way to go.

The park is your treadmill…sort of

It’s no secret that when you’re in an amusement park, you’re walking EVERYWHERE; from one side of the park to the other and everywhere in between. Yesterday I walked over 10,000 steps, which is over my daily goal and my feet can definitely feel it today. So, although I wasn’t able to fit in a workout yesterday, I was still burning calories while I was in the park. Obviously walking around all-day won’t give you the same results as a cardio or strength workout, but I didn’t feel as bad about some of the unhealthy foods I ate because I knew I was constantly moving.

Another thing to remember if you’re visiting an amusement park is that you might not feel so great the next day. Rollercoasters and waterslides can knock you around, the walking will probably make your feet sore, and the next day you’re going to be downright exhausted. One of my feet really hurts today and I slept horribly last night, so I’m going to take it easy today and skip my workout. I’m paying closer attention to my calorie intake and drinking a lot of water, but I feel like my body will benefit from another day off and I’ll be able to work even harder tomorrow instead of giving half-effort in a workout today.

(Featured photo from Carowinds website).

A Few of My Favorite Things

As many of you know, I recently moved to Charlotte, North Carolina and this summer was my first chance to spend a solid block of time in my new home and city. And let me tell you it has definitely been a learning curve.

For starters, the traffic here is INSANE. I live in Indian Trail, a city about 30 minutes southeast of Charlotte and about the same size as Lancaster, Ohio (where I used to live) but there is soooo much more traffic than I’m used to. Plus it’s not just a bunch of cars stuck for a while, there are some rude and inconsiderate drivers who just make things worse. Suffice it to say I’ve gotten a little frustrated and my road rage monster has reared its head a few times – but I mostly just yell alone in my car and honk occasionally.

I’ve also learned to live with the heat this summer. This week the high has been in the 90s every day and it can feel even hotter, so shorts and tank tops have become hugely integrated into my wardrobe. It’s also disrupted my workouts a bit; around mid-May I started each morning workout with a warm up jog around my neighborhood. But the heat, coupled with some minor asthma has made it impossible to continue this routine, so instead I’ve been relying on my trusty old jump rope for my morning cardio.

Complaining and some minor adjustments aside, I’ve begun to really love this new city so this week I’ll be sharing some of my favorite things about it with you.

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(Fun fact: I love puns, the sound of music, and I have a blanket that looks like those curtains).

Southern Hospitality

Alright, so even though I complained about the traffic and people being rude drivers, this saying is actually quite a reality. Obviously everyone has their bad days, but when it comes to customer service, neighbors and sometimes even a stranger, people around here are super nice! It’s hard to describe other than calling it what it is, Southern Hospitality. I think there is just more of an easygoing vibe down here then what I’m used to in Ohio and maybe because of that people just seem more polite to me. Who knows if I’m right, but y’all sure are sweet.

Beach Living

One of the best things about living in North Carolina, at least in my opinion, is that the ocean borders one of sides of the state. That’s a big thing for someone who comes from central Ohio and used to drive 12 hours one way to get to the Outer Banks for vacation. This year my family and I went to Carolina Beach, North Carolina and it only took us three hours to get there. It was like a day trip! There are so many different beaches you can go to along the coast of North Carolina, so not all of them are a short trip, but being able to go to any beach just for the weekend if you want to is nothing to sniff at.

The Queen City

When I lived in Lancaster I was about the same distance away from Columbus as I am from Charlotte now, so living near a big city isn’t super new to me. But because I’m new to the area, I feel like I’ve had a lot more motivation to explore Charlotte and all the Queen City has to offer. I found a couple of pretty cool spots during this past Christmas and both are food related because my stomach is the way to my heart.

The featured photo on this blog is a picture of two fruit tarts from Amélie’s French Bakery in NoDa, the historic and entertainment district in Charlotte. Amélie’s has several locations, but the one in NoDa was the first one I ever visited and is their flagship bakery. I’ve been back several times with my family since my first visit, I’ve tried something new at each visit and I’ve never been disappointed. The fruit tarts always taste beautifully fresh and the layered chocolate torte is a must try for chocolate lovers.

My second find is the 7th St. Public Market in Center City Charlotte. For those of you familiar with Columbus, it’s similar to the North Market, but on a smaller scale. About half of the single story market is filled with restaurants and sitting areas, while the other half has stalls of goods like wine, bread, artisan soaps and other merchandise. I’ve never eaten at any of the restaurants in the market, but the food always smells good and the wine and bread we’ve purchased in the past from the vendors have been excellent.

In a month, I’ll have been living in this new city for exactly one year, but it feels shorter for me because most of that time I’ve spent in Ohio at college. This summer has given me a great opportunity to get to know the new city I live in and spend time with my family while doing it, something I’m extremely grateful for.

I’ve got a few more weeks left before I go back to Athens for school, so if you’ve been to the Charlotte area or know someone who has, let me know if there are any other adventures I should take before I leave!

(gif credit http://bit.ly/2tWSZX1)

5 stores to explore when furniture shopping on a budget

In four weeks I will be moving into my first apartment (screams internally with stress and excitement) so I’ve been shopping for odds and ends throughout the summer for my bedroom as well as the kitchen and living room I’ll be sharing with my roommates. This week I was on the hunt for a nightstand to go beside my bed and as a result I ended up visiting a lot of different stores and various websites. I was looking for something affordable, but sturdy and with some storage as well.

Here is my ranking of the five stores I was the most interested in during my search and which one ultimately had the nightstand I was looking for.

Nightstand criteria:

  • Small and easy to assemble
  • Multiple shelves, drawers or a combination of the two
  • Under $50

5. Target

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I was really hoping I would be able to find what I was looking for at Target because it is my go to store when it comes to shopping for college, especially for school supplies, but it came last in terms of furniture for me.

There were several tables I found that were very similar to what I wanted, but only a few in my price range. I found this table in the clearance section, my favorite place, and it was marked down to around $30, had a drawer for storage and was pretty sturdy. But I wasn’t a big fan of the natural wood and would’ve preferred a shelf on the bottom.

4. T.J. Maxx

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Okay, so I used to hate T.J. Maxx because I was a very impatient shopper. I liked to go into a store, spend about twenty to thirty minutes finding what I was looking for and then leave. But, let me tell you my friends, I have found my patience and discovered the beauty that is T.J. Maxx. If you’re willing to take your time and look at everything in the haphazardly organized clearance sections you can find some amazing things at great prices.

While this is more of a cart than a nightstand, it was more of what I wanted than the previous table because of the multiple shelves. “Why are shelves such a big deal” you ask? I’m kind of a “cluttery” person and stack things wherever I can find the room, especially books that I read before bed or textbooks for class, so I love furniture with shelves. The only problem I had with this one was that it was around $40 which was near the top of my budget.

3. Wayfair

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I love online shopping for the convenience and occasional free shipping, but I have never actually used Wayfair before and only started looking at it this week because of a recommendation from my mom. Upon further exploration of the website, I’ve decided I’ll most likely be a customer in the future.

They have such a huge selection and I did find a really nice nightstand that was on sale for $37.99 and it had the whole drawer-shelf combo going for it. I found it earlier in the week and kept it as my “backup” if I didn’t find anything in a store. It was also going to require some assembling, probably not an insane amount, but enough that I was also deterred from it just a little bit.

2. I’ll Second That Consignment

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If you’re a college student on a budget, second hand furniture and consignment stores are your best friend. This store was another recommendation from my mom and is about five minutes away from my house in Indian Trail, North Carolina. I really love consignment stores because the owners usually have high standards when it comes to “gently used” and you can find some amazing furniture, housewares and home decor for a lot less than retail prices.

This wicker nightstand was super affordable at only $18, had several shelves (one already filled with books!) and obviously required no assembly. Similar to the nightstand from Wayfair, I kept this in the back of my mind as a possibility throughout the week. I was sold on the price, but wicker didn’t match the furniture I knew was already going to go in my room.

 

1. IKEA

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This store is not for the faint-hearted or someone who isn’t super fond of crowds, especially on a busy Saturday afternoon. Before this trip to the Swedish, home furnishing retailer I had never been to IKEA and was overwhelmed to say the least. But I stuck it out and after looking around for a little while I finally found a winner!

This wire storage table was the perfect combination of drawers, an affordable price of $14.99, and very little assembly. It’s small enough to fit under the desk I also ended up getting at IKEA and matches it too. The slightly stressful trip ended with some frozen yogurt and cinnamon rolls to take home for the next morning, which definitely sweetened the deal.

It can be hard to go shopping for furniture, especially when it’s for your first apartment and you’re on a budget. I was only shopping for a little nightstand this time and had a bit of a hard time choosing which one I wanted. My advice is to shop around and take your time, because if you find something you love that’s also a quality piece of furniture hopefully you can continue to use it for several years.

I hope some of this advice helped and you can use it next time you’re shopping for something specific.

Do you have any stores you love shopping at for your college dorm or apartment? Let me know in the comments!

 

Back to reality

Ah, the beach, feel the breeze, hear the waves, soak up the sun and on that last day of your vacation let the dread of returning home fill you up.

Okay, so maybe it’s not that dramatic, but we’ve all been there on the last day of vacation, wherever we might be, hoping that we had more time. Part of that dread lies in the knowledge that we’ll have to get back to our commitments, our day-to-day routines and reality in general. As someone who has been on many vacations and school trips, I’ve discovered a few tricks to getting back into a regular routine as quickly and painlessly as possible.

Unpack

I can’t stress this enough, which is why I’ve put it at the top of this list. In my opinion, if you don’t unpack within the first 24-48 hours it can be really hard to get back in your groove because your luggage is just sitting in the corner of your room mocking you. “We had so much fun,” it says. “Why did we ever leave? Let’s go back now!” Most likely, that isn’t going to be an option for you, so if you can unpack your souvenirs and dirty laundry and put that taunting piece of luggage in its place, it’s going to be so much easier to get back to reality.

Ease back into things

Raise your hand if you didn’t follow your workout or diet plan on vacation…oh my gosh, I’m not alone! Vacation is about relaxing and spending time with your friends and family, so don’t sweat it if you ate some guilty pleasure foods or said peace out to your workout routine for a few days. While it’s important to get back to your healthy lifestyle, know that there might be a little lag time in your workout intensity or vegetables might make you cringe and that’s O.K.  because you had fun and made memories, which is the point! So take this transition step by step and don’t get mad at yourself if it takes a little more time.

No regrets

Helloooooo down therrrre,” I scream into the empty abyss that is my wallet. It’s easy, well it is for me, to spend a little too much money on vacation and when I get back sometimes I start to regret my decisions. But, when you let regrets sneak into your thoughts, they can put a cloud over the great time you had while you were making those decisions. So, my advice is to save a little money in the weeks after your vacation by packing your lunch for work, wait a little bit longer to get those new shoes you’ve been wanting and remember that it’s worth it because you had so much fun!

Hope these tips help you the next time you’re coming back from a vacation, school trip or weekend getaway!

Got your own tips or tricks to share? Let me know in the comments.

(Photo credit Kate Ansel. Carolina Beach, NC. June, 2017)