California Gave Me Anxiety and Depression

As I’m sitting in the airport awaiting to board my flight to embark on a European adventure, I stumble upon an Instagram post highlighting a quote from Lao Tzu – “If you are depressed, you are living in the past. If you are anxious, you are living in the future. If you are at peace, you are living in the present.” I quickly share it to my story and write “I’m working on it…” It was coincidental because I then realize the tightness in my chest and the slight urge to cry. Why am I anxious right now? Yeah, I’m excited to be traveling to Europe, but I’m not feeling pumped; I am feeling down. My anxiety is consuming me because I’m focused on how much I’m going to miss my boyfriend James, my friends, and my life in San Diego for the next 10 days. In other words, I’m thinking about the negatives of my future and not the positives of my present. I let this sink in for a little and begin thinking about my experience with anxiety and depression.

In July 2018, after living in New York for the first 22 and a half years of my life, I decided to pack all of my belongings into my 1998 Toyota Rav 4, grab my sister, and drive 4 days to move to San Diego. Throughout my life I never struggled with anxiety or depression. I was always the positive, upbeat, and down for anything at any time type of person. You couldn’t stop me from going out or doing something during my free time. I was always confident in what I was doing and never really doubted myself. Even while settling into my new California life, I felt like I was on top of the world. However, I began to feel a 180° shift in how I felt in my soul.

Now, before I continue, I feel like I have to explain why I decided to pick up my life and move to the opposite side of the country. Throughout college, I planned on moving to Brooklyn and getting a 9-to-5 job in New York City. It was essentially down the block and something I knew; however, after visiting Colorado before my senior year, I started dabbling with the idea of leaving New York to experience something new. From there, I began realizing that the “New York State of Mind,” or attitude, didn’t really coincide with who I felt I was as a person. I began noticing the coldness of the people around me. Cashiers wouldn’t even look up to say, “Hi.” Drivers honked for no fucking reason. Everyone around me was so focused on themselves and couldn’t care less about how they treated each other. I didn’t want to live surrounded by this attitude anymore, therefore, I decided to give San Diego a shot. It was a risk that definitely paid off and I was quickly more than happy I moved to there to say the least.

I graduated from college shortly before moving, so I had to begin building my career the second I parked my car at my new home. I have a Marketing degree and had previously began building a personal freelance Social Media Marketing and Management company to sustain my life. Building this type of career is slow and somewhat lonely; I spent 6 hours per day working on my laptop at home by myself. At this point, I really only had a handful of friends, so I decided to try to get a job coaching gymnastics. I had 8.5 years of experience prior to moving and knew it wouldn’t be too difficult to find a job in that field. I was right and quickly hired to coach at SD United Training Center. I was so grateful how close I got to my coworkers and, before I knew it, obtained a solid group of friends. One of whom is a guy named James, who instantly changed my world and perspective on life.

I told myself when I moved I wasn’t going to get start dating anyone until I had more of a solid life for myself. But, as you all probably know, when you meet someone and feel a special connection with, you can’t really help it. We spent all of our free time together from basically the second we hung out outside of work. He quickly became my best friend and someone I could confide in. Everyone I knew previously was over 3,000 miles away, which only influenced me to get attached pretty quickly. Once our relationship transitioned from best friends to something a little more, I began to open up more about how I felt, not just who I am.

One night at the end of September, I was at work-related function with James and my new group of friends. As the night progressed, I began feeling this urge to leave. It was a foreign feeling to me and I wasn’t really sure what I was feeling. I usually enjoy being around groups of people, but this was one of the first times I felt the need to be alone (well, to be alone with James). I stuck it out, but on the car ride back to James’s place, I opened up about how I was feeling a tightness in my chest and tense throughout. The conversation played out a bit more as we analyzed what was going on and I vividly remember saying, “It feels like I have to cry but I don’t.” I basically jinxed myself and that’s when I entered a half-year stage of intense anxiety and depression.

For months, I broke down at least once a week. The littlest of things would trigger my anxiety and I would be flooded with an overwhelming feeling of sadness and discontent with myself. My confidence flew out the window and I constantly put myself down. I’m broken. Something’s wrong with me. I hate this feeling. I don’t want to feel like this anymore. Thoughts raced through my head and the more I tried to control it, the more often and intense my episodes became. This put me in a constant state of analysis of my emotions and trying to make sure I didn’t start crying spontaneously.

This put me in a constant battle with myself. I didn’t want to do anything but lay in bed – I was mentally and emotionally exhausted all the time. I became more introverted than extroverted. There’s nothing more draining than not feeling yourself, especially for months at a time.

Recently, I’ve come to the realization that my guarded approach to everything has prevented me from establishing deeper relationships with others. With friends, I have always felt like being the listener, not the talker. I was the go-to for anyone who needed practical advice. Opening up was never something I ever felt necessary. People look up to me for my positivity, and that’s what drove me in the past. I now can no longer live life that way. I want to develop intense connections with others; something I can’t do unless I let my guard down.

These feelings I believe began because my guard got stronger as my emotions for James grew. The closer I got to loving James, the further away I got from loving myself. As a result, I was so worried about him cheating on me or taking advantage of the trust I instilled with him that I closed myself off from everyone over the past months. Taking a step back from my relationship with James and looking at the big picture, I’ve concluded that I push people away when the relationship/friendship gets too close. I’m always on guard that someone is going to take advantage of my trust, therefore I haven’t really trusted anyone, not even myself. It is easier to take the high road than to take the risk and actually love someone (romantically or not). I have been preventing myself from loving with my whole heart my entire life and I didn’t even realize it.  As a result, it wasn’t until I figured this out that I started to feel like myself again, if not even better.

I didn’t write this to throw myself a pity party. I don’t have any intentions of gaining attention from talking about this, nor do I want that. The only attention I want from this post is that even the happiest people in this world are facing a battle you probably know nothing about. I know for myself, if I asked anyone if they thought I had struggled with anxiety or depression, they’d probably laugh in my face (besides James because he’s been helping me through it for half a year now). I also wrote this because I never really understood anxiety and depression until I struggled with it myself. It’s not something you can “turn off” and “calm down” from when you’re having trouble dealing with it. I believe everyone has anxiety, but there is definitely a tremendous amount of people who mask it and pretend like it’s not a problem when it actually is. I tried to cover it up and tell myself I was okay. Like I said, the more I tried to control it, the more anxious I became. With that being said, if you feel like you’re struggling to control your anxiety, stop. The second I stopped and faced it was when I was able to grow and deal with it.

I still have a long way to go, but I’ve already come so far. My anxiety attacks and crying episodes used to last an hour or 2, and then I would need about 24 hours to bounce back and feel “normal.” Now, when they come, they last maybe 15 minutes and I can bounce back and tackle the rest of my day after taking some time to relax once it’s over.

Lao Tzu once said that peace lies within the moment. I would have anxiety attacks as a result of worrying about potential, nonexistent problems in my future. This led to my depression as I tried to reflect on what has happened to me in the past to cause these intense emotions. Today, I’m able to be honest with myself, speak my mind freely, and be more in the moment, which ultimately has allowed me to be the best version of myself I’ve ever been. If you’re dealing with anything, take a moment to appreciate what you have right NOW and focus on that. It’s ridiculously hard, but with practice comes perfection. Never give up on yourself and learn to trust yourself. It’s not going to happen overnight. Be patient. Love yourself. Stay as positive as you can.

A Personal Letter To Danceworks as My Time As President Comes To An End

“Congratulations, Tom, you are now officially the President of Danceworks Productions.”

Around a year ago today, I was inducted as President of the most incredible club I’ve every known about. For those of you who don’t know what this club does, let me briefly explain. Danceworks Productions is the largest organization at Hofstra University with over 150 member. It is also a completely student run organization. We audition choreographers and select 11-13 dance pieces which will be in our production. A few days later, we hold dancer auditions where these choreographers show their dances and select their casts after a four-hour process. As the semester continues, each dance has an hour and a half rehearsal once a week leading up to the show.  As all of this work is being done, we participate in multiple social events to build a bond amongst the club and the Hofstra community, as well as a handful of philanthropy events where we raise money for various charities. We, as a club, do this every semester (so twice per academic year). There is no other club on Hofstra University’s campus that does all of this – it’s truly remarkable.

From Fall 2015-Spring 2017 I served as the Publicity and Promotions chair. I promoted the auditions and shows through various mediums, as well as designed all of the apparel for those two years. Following this role, I had the privilege and honor to be President of this incredible club. At the point in time I am writing this, I only have around 24 hours left as President of Hofstra University Danceworks Productions President. As I reminisce about my time at Hofstra, Danceworks has been the heart and soul of why I’ve loved my time at Hofstra University.

I’d like to take the time to write a letter to Danceworks – more specifically the members of this club who I’ve grown from because of their footprints left on my heart. If you were in Danceworks anywhere between 2015 to Spring 2018, this one is for you:

Dear Danceworks,

I’ve dedicated three years of my life to you. I’ve sacraficed a huge part of my free time, missing family events, and breaks within the academic schedule to fulfil my responsibilities to you. I’ve been on call 24 hours/7 days a week for years to jump on any situation I may have to mediate or rectify. Yes, most of the time I’ve had to do things at the most inconvenient times when I wanted to do almost anything else, but in the end, I loved every minute of it.

When I started at Hofstra University, I was a commuter. I absolutely hated it and my first semester I wanted to transfer. I looked into it and started talking to friends who attended other schools around the nation. I knew it was best to finish out the year so I sat on the option of leaving to pursue a different experience away from home. When my second semester started, I decided to audition for Danceworks Productions. At that point, I hadn’t really danced since I was 10 years old; I danced like the Tin Man does when Dorothy first meets him at that first audition. I didn’t get into the show that semester, but I wanted to take advantage of the other 66% you participate in. I hung out with you alone at the first social event and from there, everthing fell into place.

Within a month I was offered a room in an off campus house occupied by your members. I couldn’t believe it and I jumped on the opportunity. I continued to participate in anything I could and I even helped with selling tickets at the shows. I knew this club was something I wanted to be part of regardless of what I was doing. This mentality led me to run for Danceworks Productions executive board as Publicity and Promotions Chair. Long story short, I was elected and then re-elected the following year.

As I mentioned before, I hadn’t danced in a while. I wanted to grow as a dancer, as well as a leader of this club. I practiced and focused a majority of my time at Hofstra to getting better and eventually be casted into the shows. After another semester of not being casted, I had the privledge of being selected into the Spring 2016 and have been since. Once I was casted, I focused my attention on diversifying my abilities away from only doing hip-hop dances to eventually also dancing in contemporary and jazz pieces as well.

A few weeks before the elections for my senior year, I decided to push myself even further and run for President. What? I met you as a below average dancer and now I’m going for President of a dance club? This was no where near what I thought my time in Danceworks would lead to. I wanted to create a higher meaning of this club for myself so this was the perfect opportunity. I worked hard on my speech as I did everything involving you up to that point which resulted in my election as Danceworks Productions President.

My time at Hofstra has taught me five things about myself which I would have never learned if I didn’t audition for this club back in 2015. They are:

DANCE

Like I’ve discussed, I didn’t have a thorough background or training in dance. I took the time to listen to my peers in the club and, from that, I gained a better understanding on how to dance and how to look at dance from a technical standpoint. Your members are among the most talented dancers at Hofstra and this made it easy for me to see how to dance properly through observation and immitation. Thank you, Danceworks, for teaching me how to connect my mind and body, which I’ve applied to all aspects of my life.

PERSISTENCE

Many members don’t get casted into your shows, especially their first semester or two auditioning. This is inevitable and dance is competitive, therefore I had to learn how to take the rejection and grow from it. Many people have problems doing this but when you do, there are many more pros than cons. I learned how to take a “failure” and make it a positive. I didn’t get into the show my first two semesters, one of which I was on the executive board for. I could have dropped the club and sought a different avenue to get involved, but, let’s be honest, doing just that shows immaturity and lack of character. I used this rejection to become an even better dancer than I would have if I stopped trying to get into the Danceworks show. Thank you, Danceworks, for teaching me that failure is an opportunity to be better than if I was successful in the first place.

COMMUNICATION

Being on e-board means we are responsible for the operation of a club of over 150 of your members. Inevitably, I have had to communicate with almost each and every person in the club every year for three years. As President, this duty only increased and I had to mediate hundreds of conflicts and situations. This was extremely uncomfortable at times, especially because I’m friends with most of these people. But my time on e-board has taught me to have those difficult conversations and deal with circumstances I didn’t feel comfortable doing. As I dealt with these particular conflicts, I grew to understand I am capable of having these tricky interactions and have an effective outcome. Thank you, Danceworks, for teaching me how to handle conflicts in a mature and effective manner, especially when it involves friends.

 PRIDE

Imagine auditioning for something you worked really hard on for a year and you got shut down twice already. You’d feel pretty defeated. Now imagine you go into the following audition and get casted into, not only one, but two pieces! I didn’t know it then, but the rejection only allowed me to experience exuberance I would have never felt if I wasn’t shut down beforehand. Taking a step away from focusing on the dancing aspect of the club: the kid who had trouble getting into the shows a few times was elected President his senior year. I know back in 2015, no one ever expected that to happen. As I’m creeping on 24 hours left as President, I am the most proud of myself I’ve ever been. I don’t think I’ve ever been proud of myself until this past year as I’ve constantly reflected on my journey in the club. I believe I’m the only male President of Danceworks in history of the club and I think I’m one of a few, if the only, President of a dance club that didn’t have significant training throughout my life. I’m usually humble but I’m unique in this aspect and that’s an honor to say. Thank you, Danceworks, for teaching me to be proud of myself.

CONFIDENCE

Confidence. I’ve been in leadership positions throughout my middle school and high school careers. I have even taken leadership in elementary school when the teacher was obligated to handle a more crucial situation. I know I am a type A personality, but I’ve never been completely confident. Through all I’ve accomplished and grown as a dancer, friend and leader, I’ve been more aware of my confidence as a person. These past few years have put me in the best and worst positions of my life, but I’m still breathing and after careful reflection, I realized that my confidence has sky-rocketed. I’m taking this confidence and I’m in the process of creating my own business. Without this club, I would have never learned crucial life lessons of rejection, failure, success and discomfort. Thank you, Danceworks, for giving me the confidence to set up my life for success and prosperity.

These are only a few things I’ve learned from participating in Danceworks Productions and working my way to eventually become President. You have given me so many opportunities to grow into the man I am today and I’m beyond grateful for the things I’ve learned through meeting such incredible and talented people along the way. The members of this club have pushed me beyond what I thought I could achieve. This is something I will cherish forever and utilize as I take on the real-world post-graduation. I’ve watched this club become better and better each year and as I leave this organization in the hands of Morgan, I know you’re only going to get better. I cannot wait to see the club grow along with the members of this club. Thank you for everything you’ve given me, Danceworks, and continue to do so for as many people as possible.

With much love,

Tom Fraher

To the members of Danceworks who are graduating, coming back next semester or thinking of joining, you don’t know what you have until it’s (almost) gone. Be mindful of what Danceworks is giving you along the way and reflect on what you’ve taken away from this club. The more meaning you give the club, the further you will grow.

 

A Personal Letter to Hofstra University from a Soon-To-Be Graduate.

When my alarm went off this morning at 10 am (exactly an hour before my class starts), I decided to take the L for the day and miss my first class. I wanted to get to the gym but I didn’t want to go at night. I rested my eyes a little longer then checked my phone. 10:22 am. Alright, fine. It’s the last full week of classes ever and the second to last class for the course. I’ll go… I fumbled out of bed, got ready and dragged myself to class. I shared my mental struggle of the morning with a few classmates as I logged into the Hofstra computer. I’m in a social media and web design class so I’ve spent about 4 hours last week working on my ficticious company’s website home page. My last task of the assignment was to export it and upload it to a website simulator. 5 clicks and I was done! “Could not complete request because an unexpected end-of-file was encountered.” Lit.

My original vision of the day involved getting stuff done and skipping class. A “thriving” type of day one might say. But I changed my mind to go to class. A “responsible” type of day one might say. As the days pass, I catch myself verbally reminding myself how many days I have until graduation. “17 days,” I said as my professor told me to “start over. It’s not that complex.”

Despite the beginning of my day, I had the most amazing 4 years of my life at Hofstra University. I started as a Psychology major to get prerequisites done for a Physician Assistant Graduate Program. After one semester, Hofstra extracted realization I don’t want to fucking do that. (Side note: Professor BIO 12 and Professor Daniels are the reasons I came to this epiphany.) I spent hours in the library and still getting 60s or worse on exams. I don’t take it as I wasn’t smart enough for it, I simply realized that my brain doesn’t think the same way one does in the medical/biology field. I ran with this lesson and swithed my major to Marketing.  From there, my life fell into place.

Appreciation encompasses my feelings towards Hofstra as my time comes to an end here. What better way to show this than write a letter to Hofstra discuss my unfiltered opinions about the university itself? So, here we go.

 

Dear Hofstra University,

First of all, there really wasn’t anything you could do to get the bars back?  I feel like there was definitely some sort of agreement between you and McHebes.  Whatever, I’m not here much longer anyway.  I wanted to take the time to express my gratitude regarding my experience over the last 4 years as a student of this beautiful university.

I want this to be a mainly positive letter, therefore I’ll start with my complaints. Frankly, we all feel like you’re constantly trying to get money out of us. One time you took $4,000 from me without telling me. You also charged me $100 because you didn’t approve my loan efficiently and it didn’t get processed to you until after the due date. Aside from that, I only went to an advisor twice.  During my freshman year, I wasn’t sure how to do my schedule so I went to her to discuss what to do.  She told me to take a spanish credit because my college credit from high school didn’t fulfil the requirement. Guess what, Hofstra, it did. I wasted a semester in Spanish 3. It seems like a tactic to get as much money out of me as possible. Another complaint has to deal with, and I’m sure you get this a lot, the parking. You’re in the process of assembling a building in the middle of one of the parking lots. You had a parking issue to begin with and this construction is not helping whatsoever. Oh, and one last thing, HofUSA used to be tight; now it’s iight. I understand it’s a business and you were probably going to get more money out of it, but you’re thinking short term. You’re beginning to build a poor reputation which will wind up losing you more money in the long-run. Some friendly advice and my opinion as a consumer.

I would also like to share something else. I received an email about a month ago with the headline saying “We’re offering a new course – you may be interested!” Of course, it’s a social media marketing class. Long story short, I’m diving into the social media marketing/management field upon graduation. It’s not your fault, but I spent the last four years getting a degree and the semester proceeding my departure you’re offering probably the most useful class I could have taken; more useful than any class I had to take as an undergraduate student. I’m just being selfish because I understand it is a new and growing industry, therefore I want to thank you for providing this class to students. It could spark their interest in a growing industry and that’s ultimately the goal of college.

With that being said, let’s get back to the main reason I’m writing. Thank you so much for the experiences I’ve had here. I rerouted my career path and I’ve never been more excited about a job. I’ve made friends with hundreds of people who have made an incredible mark on my life. I joined Danceworks, I moved into their home, I became family with members of the club and I currently am the President of the club. This is one of the most impressive college organizations in the world which has taught me tons of things about myself as a person, professional and leader. I’m insanely honored to have worked for this organization and proud of my sucesses. I’ve also recieved an incredible education. Although sometimes many of them are of no interest to me, your courses are tedious and they establish a work ethic I never had before attending. I’m the most confident I’ve ever been in myself as a result of who I’ve become over the years as a Hofstra University undergraduate student.

I appreciate everything you have provided to mold my mindset and life. The friends, knowledge, empowerment, confidence, determination. I’m completely prepared for whatever life throws my way. Unfortunately and inevitably, it’s time for me to go.

Hofstra, we’re going to be homies for life. I will perpetually look back on these past 4 years with fondness and appreciation. Without you, I would have never learned crucial lessons about myself and the world around me. I will succeed because of this experience and for that, I thank you.

Stay Positive,

Tom Fraher

 

Life is about the experiences we have and the lessons we learn from them. The more we learn, the better we evolve as a person.  Hofstra University has given me the experiences I needed to lead a successful life after graduation. Positivity radiates around campus as everyone is waiting for summer. I, however, radiate positivity as I wait to begin my life.

 


 

Are there any other undergraduate students on the verge of graduating or have already? How do you feel about your undergraduate experiences? I’ve been having this conversation with my peers and the positivity keeps me going!

 


 

Follow my Instagram account for a glimpse into my personal life!

Danceworks Productions is More Than Just a Club

Starting college is like jumping off of a cliff into dark waters; you see the water but the water is a mystery. Is the water going to be fresh or salty? Is it going to be warm or cold? Is it deep or shallow? For me, I jumped in with my arms out and mind wide open. I hit the water and made a fantastic group of friends. From there, it’s been nothing but a deep, warm, fresh water lake. I’ve learned a lot about myself. However, I couldn’t have done this without becoming involved in Hofstra’s largest club on campus, Danceworks Productions.

844x1500.jpeg.5bbd1d16527d4a96a3da149e67503349.jpg
Me posing for a dance recital around the age of 7.

Fortunately, I had a mom who wanted me to do (almost) everything. She made me, my brother, and my sister do dance for at least one year. My brother dropped it after the first year, but I continued to learn how to dance. I dance for around five years (ages 4-9). It’s not that I lost interest in it, I actually was annoyed by another dancer in my hip-hop class and decided to stop. Although that was it for dance lessons for me, I never stopped dancing whenever I was listening to music.

859985_10151788729048065_486964082_o.jpg
Dancing at my high school’s Battle of the Classes in 2013.

My first semester of college was the shortest amount of time I ever learned so much about myself. I was thinking about changing my major and figuring out how I’m going to leave my mark at Hofstra. My lab partner was a dance minor and got me to go to the fall 2014 Danceworks show. I had an amazing time in the audience; in fact, I went to both shows. Watching the professionalism of the students and the energy I felt throughout planted the idea that I wanted to be up there someday.

Just before the auditions for the following semester’s show, my lab partner texted me to remind me. We met up and both went to the auditions. This audition was much different than a normal audition; everyone created a welcoming environment and it was an amazing time. Unfortunately, I didn’t make it into a piece that semester.  However, Danceworks does more than just dance – it is also a social and philanthropic club. I went to hang out with the club members at their off-campus house by myself for a social event. Every member welcomed me with open arms. This was the start to how the rest of my college experience was going to pan out.

 

12182458_10153099021946050_378784452415896650_o.jpg
Hanging out for one of the first times with Danceworks Productions!

I commuted my freshman year and I hated it. I loved everything about Hofstra, except for the fact that I had to drive 20-40 minutes one way each day. This prompted me to apply to be a residence assistant. I got through both rounds of interviews and was awaiting the email regarding the decision made. On February 24, 2015, I woke up for class with a Facebook message from one of the Danceworks members. The message read, “Hey Tom I was wondering if ud be interested in living in the DW house next year?” I explained how I would love to but have to figure out the finances and logistics of living there. She told me to just let her know as soon as I figure it out.

Danceworks has club meeting every Monday at 6:00 PM in the Student Center (room 142 to be exact). I had class until 5:55 PM, and on my way to the meeting, I had received an email informing me that I did not get the RA position. YES! I know – not a typical reaction to not getting something you interviewed and worked hard to get. The RA job would have given me free room and board, which I would have saved a boat-load of money. However, deep down, I really wanted to be living off campus. I entered room 142 and gave the girl who offered me the room in the house the thumbs up; she knew exactly why.

11194590_10153417201467189_8853246190821921701_o.jpg
The night I was inducted into Hofstra University Danceworks Productions’s executive board in 2015.

I continued going out with the club. I began to get to know many members and became an active member of the club. As the semester dwindled to an end, elections for executive board positions came around. At this point, I had decided on changing my major to marketing, so I figured I would run of the Publicity and Promotion chair. Luckily, I got elected which enabled me to become even more involved in the club. I served as the P&P chair for two years (my sophomore and junior years). My involvement in Danceworks has been nothing but positive and I am grateful for the experiences each member contributes to my college experience.  Because of that, I ran for and am now the President of Danceworks Productions at Hofstra University.

I couldn’t tell you where I would be right now if my lab partner was not a member of Danceworks and urged me to come to the shows back in 2014. I would not have the family of friends I do now, have had the opportunity to grow as a dance, and have the honor to part of such an amazing club.

12474034_985016494886182_3027174306253520902_o.jpg
Me featured in Kevin William’s Danceworks Productions piece in April 2016.

 

Follow my Instagram page!

 

Shake(ology) It Off

I have found more success with Shakeology than I have with any other protein powder or dietary action.  All it took was Christine Kennedy reaching out to me and my sister about becoming Beachbody coaches for me to try Shakeology and begin seeing the body I’ve always wanted.

The start of my Shakeology journey.
Day 1 of using Shakeology.

I started my journey on June 1, 2017.  The only thing I really knew about it was what Christine had posted on her social media pages.  I never thought she was heavy or overweight until I saw transformation pictures of her this past April (almost three full years since I’ve seen her last).  She has been using it for over two years now and she looks absolutely incredible!

College student holding Shakeology bag (a dense nutrition dietary supplement).
Holding my first bag of Shakeology.

So why would this work for me?  I am a fit college student who has always maintained a healthy physique.  I don’t need to really lose weight, I just wanted to trim down and gain some muscle.  To answer the question, it did exactly what I wanted for myself.

College student posing for a picture to show muscle growth in biceps and triceps.
About two weeks into using Shakeology.

One of the biggest changes I noticed right away – no more bloating.  I constantly look in the mirror to this day to see how much flatter my stomach looks.  For me, this has boosted my confidence so much that I am encouraged to go to the gym way more than ever before.  Once I started seeing a difference in my physique so quickly, I wanted to go the extra mile to see even more results.

Healthy and nutritious breakfast.  Eggs, spinach, onions, and red peppers.
My daily breakfast: eggs, spinach, onions, and red peppers.

Another change I noticed was that I changed my dietary habits.  Because Shakeology is a meal replacement, I was getting the nutrients I needed.  I’m guilty as hell about skipping a meal because of my busy lifestyle and Shakeology has saved me from doing so.  On top of that, I’ve noticed the shift in how healthy I eat.  Now, I usually only buy fruits, vegetables, eggs and some meat when I go to the supermarket.

My supermarket purchases.  Meats, onions, bananas, fruits, peppers, eggs.
A typical check-out at the supermarket.

To sum this all up, Shakeology has given me the mental and physical strength to have the body I’ve always worked towards.  I feel thinner in my waistline, I’ve gained so much more muscle, look way more toned than ever before, and I live a healthier lifestyle.  Because of this, I feel way better about myself and I am much happier!

As muscle workout to end my workout.
A little an exercise to always end my workouts.

Some people say money doesn’t buy happiness, but I think it does when you’re spending your money in the right places.

College student posing to show muscle growth after two months of using Shakeology.
Two full months into Shakeology and I see a huge difference in my muscle definition.

 

For more information on Shakeology, click here.

Also, check out my Instagram and Facebook pages!

South Africa (Day 1)

Typically, 5:45 am is not my favorite time to wake up.  I’m just completing three hours of sleep when my iPhone alarm goes off and I force my eyes open.  I stretch for a second and turn to see my packed suitcase just a few feet from the door.  This only means one thing… it’s travel day.

As I’m driving to my parent’s house, my boyfriend, Brandon, and I are pretty quiet.  First of all, it is 6:15 am.  Secondly, I don’t even know what to say.  There are so many thoughts going through my head.  What is Cape Town like?  How close am I going to get to a lion?  Ugh, a 14 hour flight followed by another two hour flight.  My mind rambles as much as it can for having only three hours of rest.

IMG_6297.JPG

“Have the bestest time ever!” my mom yells in my ear as I’m getting set to board the bus to depart for John F. Kennedy Airport in New York.  I hug and kiss her goodbye and tell her, “I love you.”  I do the same to Brandon and step on the bus to begin my adventure.

The hustle of JFK Airport starts to fuel my excitement.  Everyone is scattering to find where they have to check-in.  Everyone is rummaging through their bags for their boarding passes and passports.  Everyone is going somewhere different in this gigantic world.

IMG_6298.JPG

I double check that my ACIS Educational Tours luggage tag is fastened to my suitcase before putting it on the scale to be weighed.  Yes!  It’s not overweight!  I scurry over to Wendy Way, my travel guru and tour leader, after I’ve completely checked-in.  She tells me that the flight is delayed two hours.  Oh well, South Africa isn’t going anywhere.

The whole group successfully makes it through security and to the gate.  We have some time, so we disperse to find a snack before we embark on 17 hour expedition to Cape Town, South Africa.  As time creeps closer to boarding time, I feel the grip of excitement around my heart getting tighter and tighter.  It isn’t until the flight attendant says, “thank you, enjoy your flight,” after I hand her my boarding pass that I feel the relief in my chest – I’m on my way to South Africa!

FullSizeRender.jpg

With two flights down, one connection complete, and 17 hours since we took off from John F. Kennedy Airport, we have finally made it to Cape Town International Airport in Cape Town, South Africa.

IMG_6313.JPG

A huge weight is lifted from my shoulder as I see my suitcase turn the corner of the carousel.  I use all of the energy I have remaining after the long travel to pick it up and wheel it away from the crowd.  I open it, grab a change of clothes along with my contacts, and run to the bathroom.  After the change, I feel refreshed and recharged.  I’m ready to start exploring Cape Town, South Africa.

IMG_6346.JPG

Our first stop, Table Top Aerial cableway to the top of Table Top Mountain (one of the new seven wonders of the world).  Our whole group crowds into one car (34 people plus other adventurers trying to get to the top of Table Top Mountain).  The five minute journey embarks.  To my surprise, about 30 seconds into the trip, the floor begins to rotate!  As we climb up the 1,089 meter mountain, the car makes a 360 degree rotation.  My breathe is sucked out of me as we reach the top and I can see various mountains and waters surrounding the beautiful town of Cape Town.

IMG_6385.JPG

IMG_6360.JPG

IMG_6443.JPG

IMG_6399.JPG

I wish I could put the feeling of exploring Table Top Mountain into words better.  After breathing recycled air in the airplane for so many hours, my lungs open widely when I inhale as I looked out into the Atlantic Ocean.  My chest became lighter and I felt so small.

IMG_6455.JPG

After the ride to the bottom of the mountain and a short bus ride, we were finally at Meloncino.  YES!  A meal that wasn’t airplane food… finally.  My friend and I (we’re both 21 years old) shared a bottle of Pinotage with our incredible dinner.  I had Yellow Tail fish over rice.  Amazing.

IMG_6458.JPG

As dinner came to a close, I found my mind beginning to fog.  At this point, it had been many hours of restless flying and exploring.  I was beat.  We all piled back onto the bus and fought to stay awake until we arrived at the Sunsquare Cape Town Hotel.  We got our keys after a slight speed bump in rooming assignments and off to bed I went.  Until tomorrow, Cape Town, South Africa.

 


 

To see the highlight video of the day, click here!

Follow my Instagram page!

 

 

A Day In My Life

I’m trudging up Mt. Fuji making sure I don’t slip. As I transfer my weight from one foot to the other and I ascend closer to the top, my heart beats faster. I can’t tell if it’s the exercise or the air pressure dropping with each step. A gust of wind surprises me and takes my worries with it. I turn around and I’m instantly the only person in the world. I see nothing but the tops of clouds casting shade over the Tokyo outskirts. I feel invincible.

A blaring noise forces my eyelids open and I swing my right arm around myself to turn off my alarm. I no longer feel invincible, especially because I have 45 minutes until my finance midterm. I check my emails to see if any professor has canceled class for the day. Unfortunately none of them have but it was worth the shot. The comforter grabs me like it is telling me not to leave. My comforter doesn’t understand that I can’t spend my whole life in bed. Silly comforter. I manage to get up to prepare myself for the day ahead of me.

“What is the price of a bond if there is 10% interest compounded semi annually for the next bazillion years?” I didn’t even think bazillion was a real number; I thought it was used for hyperbolic situations only. I somehow make it through my finance midterm feeling better than I thought I would. I lightly jog to Au Bon Pain to grab a quick snack before my next class begins. I take a seat and notice my heart banging on the inside of my ribs. I take out my iPad and get my notes ready for LEGL 020.

“I’m going to end there because, frankly, I’m tired of talking. Have a good weekend and I’ll see you on Monday.” I love when my professor lets us out ten minutes early because it gives me some time to refill my water bottle and get another snack. I scarf down a chicken caesar wrap and I’m off to work.

“Coach Tom! You’re late!” “Veronica, I tell you every week that I am always going to be a little late to practice because it starts at 6 and my class doesn’t get out until 6. I wish I could teleport here.” I’ve coached gymnastics for almost seven and a half years now. Gymnastics has always fascinated me because of how much practice you need on one skill to perfect it. Every trick has specific requirements and judges can be brutal if they are not executed to the fullest. I’m also intrigued by how the sport is more mental than physical. Tumbling is relatively easy if you can clear your mind and just do. The biggest struggle I see with my gymnasts, as well as myself when I’m learning a new trick, is consciously knowing that your body is going to be thrown around in ways it isn’t meant to and you, yourself, has to be the one to actually just do it. Safety is huge and my first priority because, in reality, gymnastics is very dangerous. However, once you get past the fear, the possibilities are endless. It is an awarding feeling to see a young girl or boy’s reaction when they land a trick for the first time by themselves. I look at my girls as my younger sisters and want each one of them to succeed in everything they do.

“I’ll see you guys on Saturday!” I exclaim as I run out of the gym with my shoes on but untied. I jam to Kanye as I drive on the Northern State Parkway towards Hofstra University. It’s not always Kanye, but recently he’s been putting me in the mood for the upcoming two-hour rehearsal. My freshman year, I decided to start dancing again after my ten year hiatus from it. I now have the opportunity to dance every week for about 11 hours. When I’m dancing, I feel like I’m on top of Mt. Fuji again; my mind is clear of everything except for the choreography and music. Do you know what it’s like to win a scratch-off lottery ticket? I don’t mean winning back the $2 spent on it, but winning at least $100 from it. That’s the same feeling I get when my peers and I perform a piece perfectly. And doing it in front of an audience is like winning $1 million+ on a scratch-off, but the fact that I get to do it with the people that mean the most to me is priceless.

After rehearsal I usually get more food and then head home. I turn on Netflix or chill with some roommates to catch up on the craziness of each of our days. Going home to a house full of positivity and support prepares me for a brand new day packed with school, hard work, and laughter.

img_5702

I can’t say my life is perfect but the people in it are and I can’t complain about that.