Taking back some control….

Taking back some control….

Right now more than ever, we may be struggling with feeling like we are out of control.  At least where I live, we have been under stay-at-home orders for a while now.  I haven’t been able to see my family, friends or my co-workers for almost 6 weeks. I am working from home, eating at home, spending my weekends at home, remaining six feet away from most other humans, and even limiting how much I am going out to the few places we can still go like grocery stores just to minimize any risk.  Most of the time, honestly though, I am pretty ok.  I am staying plenty busy with work throughout the week and on the weekends, I have really tried to be productive by cleaning, organizing and fixing up my house, studying for my upcoming exam and of course I am staying consistent with my workouts and nutrition.  But I have had moments where the isolation does gets to me.  There are times it just seems too quiet around here and almost like the walls are closing in.  In those moments, I quickly remind myself that while I can’t control everything that is happening around me, I still do have the power to control a whole heck of a lot.

So today I wanted to share some of things I focus on when the uncertainty of these times and maybe a little claustrophobia starts to creep.  I make a conscious effort to shift my focus from dwelling on what I don’t have the power to dictate to what I do, such as:

My attitude

I can decide to be positive or negative. I remind myself this too shall pass and life will get back to normal.  Dwelling on all the things we can’t do right now doesn’t make anything better.  I am busy making plans for when we are able to roam around freely again which gives me positive goals to focus on and steps to take right now to achieve those goals. I made a pact with myself when this all started that I was going to remain positive, focused, and driven.  Having a positive mindset allows my energy levels and confidence to stay highly, helps me to be more productive at work and makes me an easier and more pleasant person to deal with in all of my relationships…besides being negative in my opinion can just be flat out draining! SMILE you guys, the world needs as much positivity and joy as we can radiate right now!

My physical health

I decide every single day to move my body. I either do my home workouts, go for a long walk with my pups or a run in my neighborhood, or a combo of all the above. Staying healthy has never been more important you guys. Help your immune system out and try to be active for at least 30 minutes a day (for more info on helping out our immune systems, check out my recent post, “Staying Healthy…How can we help our immune systems right now?” If you can get outside, even better! Get some steps in, your heart rate up and as a bonus get a healthy dose of Vitamin D while you are at it!  Not only is this so important for your physical well-being, but I find the positive effects it has on my mental well-being might be even more valuable right now! Just the change of scenery alone does wonders for my frame of mind each day!

What I eat

I have made a conscious decision to stock my fridge, freezer and pantry with 90% healthy food and 10% treat food. I find if I set myself up for success by limiting how much junk food I have access to I am far more successful in meeting my nutritional goals.  Plus, I continue to make it a point to have my daily Superfood Shake which again goes a long was in supporting my immune system and filing in all those nutritional holes I might be otherwise lacking in my every day diet. One of the silver linings to this time at home is I have been exploring a lot of new recipes (I am working on getting the good ones them up on this site shortly!) and have really been enjoying the process of cooking.  I am exploring yummy new ways to cook with some of my favorite healthy ingredients, like the lasagna I made with cauliflower yesterday,  and as a bonus I am finding cooking to be a really great stress-relieving activity for me and something that brings a really nice sense of calm into my life right now.  I would call that a WIN WIN!

My effort levels

This could be effort that I am putting into taking care of myself, or effort I am putting into my job, my relationships, or a many number of other things.  What is important to focus on is knowing I have complete control over how much of my energy I am delegating and to what I am putting it into.  I am a firm believer that life gives you back what you give it.  If you give it 100% you will see amazing results.  If you give it less, you really can’t be disappointed when you get less back.  I am continuing to focus my efforts as much as possible on bettering myself during this time so again when we come out the other side, I am stronger and in a better place than when we went into it.

My mental health

While I know we can’t always control how our brains react to things, there are ways I can try to promote a healthy mental state. I have been making it a point to practice at least 15-20 minutes of yoga or Pilates each day which has really been helping me to slow down my mind and stay present in the moment more.  I also know when I start to feel overwhelmed or anxiety creeping in it is a good time to pickup the phone and talk to a family member or friend.  Getting outside each day for about an hour has also done wonders to keep my head clear and in a good place. Besides, it always makes me happy and puts an actual smile on my face to see how much my dogs are loving our new, longer daily walks!

How often I practice self-care 

Supporting my mental health also means indulging in some self care every so often. I have made it a point to take a much-needed Epsom salt bath at least once a week these days which does wonders not only to relax me but also to help my sore muscles recover after the workouts I am subjecting them to.  I also have been de-cluttering and organizing my house a lot which may sound weird for a self-care practice but has made me feel a ton better about my surroundings and also happy that I am using my time productively. Self-care isn’t selfish you guys.  You need to take care of yourself before you can even begin to think about taking care of others.  That old saying really is true, you cannot pour from an empty cup!

How thankful I am

I remind myself constantly about how thankful I am for things like my health and the health of my friends and family, but I also make it a point to tell other people that I am thankful for them. I usually am pretty good with “Please” and “Thanks You’s” but I am particularly aware of some of the sacrifices people are making right now to keep things going for us.  I am talking about the store clerks, delivery drivers and especially the healthcare workers who are going above and beyond right now and are on the front lines of this pandemic.  I am trying to say an extra loud THANK YOU to all these people when I do interact with them as their sacrifice is not lost on me at all.

My breath 

My anxiety has improved dramatically over the last two years since I committed to staying on top of my fitness and nutrition, but it is only natural that in the crazy times we are living through right now anxiety levels would be slightly more elevated than normal. I have really come to rely on controlling my breath when anxiety starts to creep in these days. As soon as I feel even a little twinge of being overwhelmed, I make a conscious effort to stop what I am doing and take a few deep, cleansing breaths.  Almost instantly, I feel much calmer and more centered.  Breathe in, breathe out and focus on just being in the moment until your mind calms down.

What I put my time into

I made a very deliberate decision that while I was spending so much time at home, I would seriously limit screen time. While I am normally not a big TV watcher, I knew with the extra time on my hands it would be easy to fall into a bad habit of turning it on and losing hours of my life in front of it.  Instead I made up my mind to put my energy into doing things that would get me close to my goals once this whole thing is over.  I am studying, writing, reading even doing puzzles instead of watching TV and of course staying as physically active as possible.

What I do if at first I don’t succeed

Failure is part of life you all. No one is perfect and honestly it would be a little boring if we were.  I fail constantly. I failed a million times before I found a workout program that clicked for me. I failed a bunch of times trying to find a healthy relationship with food.  I have failed in my inner-personal relationships, at work, in school but my mindset has really grown to accept these failures as learning experiences. If I can come out the other side of a failure having grown as a person, it really isn’t a failure at all.  Now I put my all into everything I attempt and if I succeed great, if I don’t, I learn.  Just fail forward you guys, don’t beat yourselves up too much and keep on trucking towards whatever goal you have in sight!

Who and what influences me 

Unfortunately not everyone is going to be your cheerleader. I have definitely come across people since I have started on my health and fitness journey that just don’t understand what I’m doing or why I am doing it. They haven’t necessarily been working against me, just not exactly for me.  These are the people I try to encourage to join me in some fashion, either in doing a virtual workout with me or trying one of my healthy recipes that have become a staple of my meal plan or even by giving them a packet of my superfood shake to try for themselves.  If they don’t bite, I smile, tell them I am always here if they change their minds and go about chasing after my own goals.  After all, I am not doing this for anyone else.  This journey is about me and for me.  I hope to be able to inspire others along the way but I don’t take it personally if I can’t reach everyone!

How open I am to learning

A big part of growing up, is learning that you really never stop learning. Over the past couple years especially, I have been so open to learning as much as I can about as many things as I can, and I have been loving every second of it!  I don’t know about you all, but as a teenager and really well into my twenties…ok ok, maybe even my 30’s, I was pretty convinced I had everything all figured out.  I was going to do things my way no matter how many people, facts, or signs life was giving me telling me I was wrong. But since I humbled myself enough about two years ago to realize I needed to do a ton of research to figure out how to best live a healthy lifestyle, I have fallen back in love with learning and take every opportunity I can to expand my mind.  One of the mantras I now live by is, never stop learning!

How often I ask for and accept help 

We all need it sometimes. And there is no shame in that at all.  This was also another hard lesson I had to learn probably because I am too stubborn for my own good most of the time and like to be able to do everything myself, but that is just not real life.  Whether it’s that we just need some emotional support, someone to talk to, a helping hand with a work problem, or a relationship issue, or something more tangible like help moving or changing a tire, there is no shame in being a little vulnerable every now and then.  Instead of seeing this as a sign of weakness like many of us for some reason might, we should see this as the incredible sign of strength that it is.  Be open to both giving and receiving help and I bet you will find fulfillment in both!

One other thing I am controlling these days is how much I watch/listen to the news.  I find it to be pretty negative if not down right scary a lot of the time so I choose to tune most of it out because I know if there is something major I need to find out a friend or family member will let me know what’s going on anyway.  Along with limiting exposure to potentially alarming information and the things I already listed above, there are a ton of other things I can also control such as how neat my home is, how many times I call my family and friends to check in on them, how honest I am with myself and others, how many times a day I smile 😊, how I am spending my money, how open and non-judgmental I am, and that’s just to name a few!  Things happen you guys. We can’t always avoid bad situations or prevent negative events from occurring but where our control lies is in how we react to these things.  Do we give negative feelings, emotions, events and even people our time and energy, or do we shift our focus to either learning from these negative sources and growing because of them or ignoring them altogether and finding instead something positive to focus on.  Take control where you can, use it to improve your own life and keep looking and moving forward…after all that is this the direction life is taking us so lets make it the best, happiest and most fulfilling ride possible!

Keep staying healthy and safe you guys!!



Staying Healthy: How can we help our immune systems right now?

Staying Healthy: How can we help our immune systems right now?

First and foremost, I hope you all are safe, healthy and surviving ok right now!  Unless you have been living under a rock recently (which honestly I wouldn’t blame you for!), I am of course saying that because of a certain virus (that I am not even going to name because frankly I am tired of hearing its name) going around that have most of us just a little bit freaked out to say the least.  Going on day four of being quarantined and working from home, I have decided to really limit how much of the news I am taking in mostly to retain some of my sanity and hope that this will pass relatively quickly. All the coverage did get me thinking though, it would be a great time to write a post dedicated to our immune systems and how we can maybe help them out just a little especially in a time like this.  Even without the imminent threat of a serious and potentially life-threatening respiratory virus upon us, we are constantly being barraged by germs, bacteria, infections and all around yuckiness that in most cases our wonderful and amazing bodies fight off for us, a lot of the time without us even knowing it’s happening!  Our immune systems are so incredible that they can even sometimes sense cancer at its very earliest stages and fight it off all the while we were none the wiser we were ever in danger!  Pretty amazing, right?  So let’s take a slightly more in depth look at what are immune system is comprised of, how it works and how we can lend it a helping hand!

What exactly is our immune system? A VERY basic overview….

Our immune system is a pretty incredible and very complex system that is made up primarily of our:

  • Bone Marrow
  • White Blood Cells
  • Lymph Nodes
  • Thymus
  • Spleen

It is charged with the incredible task of fighting off infections, bacteria and diseases of all kinds from the common cold to the Big C, aka cancer.  Basically, it attacks anything foreign to our bodies that just shouldn’t be there.  Turns out we encounter literally BILLIONS of germs each day and our immune systems are so good at their jobs they can distinguish the good from the bad (not all germs are bad apparently!) by sensing tiny little “danger cues” at the molecular level.

The first line of defense for our immune system is actually our skin (the largest organ in our body).  Along with our skin, our corneas, mucous in our respiratory and GI tracts and mucous in our GU (genitourinary) tracts also provide physical barriers and have immune functions to help fight off the bad germs that are trying to make their way in.  Germs primarily get in through our eyes, nose and mouth (which is why not touching your face right now is being so heavily stressed!).  Luckily, like I mentioned above the mucus in our noses, tears in our eyes and even saliva in our mouths all have immune fighting properties to try to kill whatever germs have made it that far.

If one of these bad germs, viruses, bacteria, etc. do happen to make it past these first lines of defense, the rest of our immune system jumps into action to try to eliminate them before they makes themselves at home in our bodies, starts to reproduce, and then causes all kinds of havoc.   Apparently, our bodies are perfect breeding grounds for bad germs to multiply so stopping them before they can take hold is critically important to our health.  In a VERY high-level, brief overview of what then happens if a bad germ, aka. Antigen, to call it by its proper name, does make its way into our bodies, our immune system quickly reacts by making antibodies to destroy it.  And if that wasn’t enough, our immune systems even have their own memory so the next time that same antigen attacks, they can jump into action even quicker because they remember how they fought it off the last time.  If you have ever wondered how vaccines work, it is by exploiting our immunes systems ability to remember. Basically, each time you get a vaccine you are being injected with a very small amount of the very virus you are hoping to protect yourself against so that your immune system becomes familiar with it and develops a plan around how to fight it.  Pretty interesting stuff, right?  The human body is truly amazing the more you learn about it!

So how can we give our immune systems a boost?

Just like with so many other things health and wellness related, our immune systems can be helped or hurt by the choices we make and the lifestyle we live.  So what are some things that we are either doing or not doing that affect the strength of our immune system and its ability to respond when we need them:


Oh boy, this is a big one! We all know of course that when we are sleeping our body is hard at work repairing itself.  Well sleep also does wonders for our immunes systems basically by giving them a break.  Because there is very little other activity going on in our bodies while we are sleeping, our immune systems have a solid period of time to solely focus on fighting that virus, infection or disease that is trying to invade.  To get a bit more technical with it, while we are asleep our immune systems release a protein called cytokines.  These proteins not only promote sleep itself, but also serve to stimulate production of cells that help with tissue development, growth and maintenance as well as helping to regulate inflammatory processes.  And as someone with an inflammatory disease, I can tell you how important helping our bodies fight inflammation is!  Not getting enough sleep has been shown over and over again to trigger our brains to release a stress hormone that leads to more inflammation in our bodies which again is no bueno for disease development and progression.  For some tips on how to get more/better sleep check out my post “Zzzzzzzz…..”

Eating Right 

Fueling our bodies properly can go a long way in helping fight of viruses, diseases and bad bacteria. While it is always a good idea to eat nutrient-rich foods, it is especially important in a time like this in order to help your body remain as healthy as possible and your immune system strong.  You can actually ward of illnesses by making smart food choices, think eating that side of spinach instead of the french fries that are calling your name.  Some of the major food categories to be focusing on to strengthen your immune system are:

Citrus – This seems like probably the most obvious food group to reach for when thinking about helpful foods to be consuming at a time like this.  Citrus fruits and veggies are full of Vitamin C which we all know is a miracle worker in fighting off illness.  Vitamin C works its magic by inhibiting histamine release in our bodies and reducing inflammation at the same time.  And histamine, just in case you weren’t aware, is that nasty little substance that causes our runny noses, itchy eyes and yucky congestion we tend to get with allergies and colds. Another huge benefit of Vitamin C is that it increases the production of white blood cells.  Those are the guys that actually fight off infection.   Load up on citrus foods like oranges, grapefruits, lemons limes, leafy greens like spinach and kale and even bell peppers.

Seafood/Shellfish – Unlike citrus foods, seafood may not be the first food group that comes to mind when you think about immune boosting foods but it’s a great option!  Let’s start with shellfish….besides being pretty darn tasty in my opinion (I am from Maryland and we are all about our crabs here!), a lot of shellfish if full of zinc!  I have actually been swearing by zinc for a lot of years and make sure to start popping zinc lozenges at the first sign of a cold.  Zinc, just like Vitamin C, helps our immune systems in the creation of white blood cells, which again are essential to fighting off infections. And if that weren’t enough, Zinc also increases the number of cells that are used to fight off cancer and help with wound healing.  Good choices in shellfish to reap the benefits of Zinc are crabs, mussels and oysters. You can also find zinc in items like frozen fruits and veggies, squashes and root vegetables as well as proteins like beef and lamb.

As far as other seafood is concerned, varieties like mackerel, herring, and another one of my faves, salmon, are great sources of omega-3 fatty acids which give our immunes systems a nice boost in strength as well.  Omega-3’s, which are also found in nuts, specifically walnuts, chia seeds, flaxseed, tofu and even avocados, to name a few, also go a long way in combating inflammation in our bodies.  And just like the zinc in the shellfish, the Omega’3’s in seafood also aid in white blood cell production, more specifically the production of a type of cell called macrophages, which can seek out and destroy harmful bacteria.  Most nutritionists actually recommend getting two servings a week of fatty seafood in general…maybe aim for an extra serving this week!

Seeds and Nuts – Both of these food choices, not only make for a great snack in place of less than healthy potato chips or again our beloved french fries, but they are packed with a healthy serving of Vitamin E which is an extremely powerful antioxidant.  What makes Vitamin E so crucial right now, it is works wonders in fighting off respiratory infections, which as we all know by now is exactly the type of virus, that again I refuse to mention by name, is.  Vitamin E is crucial to how your immune system functions and is also a fat-soluble vitamin meaning it needs fat for it to be absorbed.  Nuts and seeds like walnuts, almonds and sunflower seeds are all full of healthy fat along with Vitamin E which makes them the perfect vehicle for our bodies to absorb this oh so important vitamin.   Peanuts and hazelnuts are also really good sources, as well as our beloved avocados and other dark leafy greens.  So grab a handful of nuts when you are feeling a salt craving come on or whip up some guac to add to those salads, burgers and tacos! 

Yogurt – With so much of your immune systems work going on in the gut, it is essential to keep this particular part of your body in good working order.  Yogurt can go a long way in keeping your gut happy with the live, active cultures most brands contain.  These cultures work by stimulating your immune system to fight off potentially harmful diseases and they help to keep your digestive tract clean and free of harmful bacteria.  Yogurt also contains probiotics which further help your immune system by producing antibodies that fight off illness, disease and infection.  My only caution with yogurt is when picking one, watch out of the ones that have a lot of added sugar.  Greek yogurt is a great option as it is a good source of probiotics as well as Calcium and Vitamin D.  Vitamin D itself is also very good for the immune system as it is thought to also boost our bodies disease fighting responses.

Other really great food options to give your immune system a boost are garlic, some spices like turmeric and ginger, green tea, oats and barley and even mushrooms.  Try to incorporate some of the above suggestions into your meals as a great and natural way help your body ward off all the yuckiness around us, especially right now!


You guys I know this would be a good time to just stay in bed all day, eat a tub of ice cream and just not face the world. I have had moments where that’s exactly what I want to do, but continuing to move our bodies, getting as much physical activity as we can and not letting the stress and anxiety we are all feeling overwhelm us will also go a LONG way in keeping us healthy.  Exercise, even just brisk walking, has been linked to an increase in our bodies production and circulation of T-cells (or to get technical about it, T-Lymphocytes) which are an integral part of our bodies immune systems.  The more these cells get around our bodies, aka circulate, the more quickly they may be able to identify and fight bacteria, germs and pathogens that are present but shouldn’t be there.  Exercise may also help to flush out our respiratory systems and airways which can get rid of the bad bacteria that may have made it in.

Another excellent reason to incorporate or continue to incorporate exercise into your new daily routine, is it’s a huge stress reliever.  I have talked many times before how starting and maintaining a regular exercise routine has basically eliminated my panic attacks and drastically reduced my daily anxiety and that is coming in even more handy right now as we are all feeling a bit unsure and anxious about the immediate future.  My regular workouts have been literally saving my mental health over the past week or so in that they give me an outlet to get out that built up anxiety and frustration but also they give me something positive to focus on.  Exercise of course has been shown to increase the release of “happy” hormones like endorphins and decrease the release of stress hormones like cortisol.

I feel so fortunate that I decided two years ago to sign up for the at-home programs that I do to this day because all of the gyms in my area are closed for an indefinite amount of time.   I have been able to continue working out as I always have and again it is the one thing keeping me sane right now!  If you guys are finding it difficult to workout while  your gyms are closed or are just looking for something that will keep you sane and healthy during this difficult time let me know and I can get you set up with the programs I am doing.  Also check out my WORKOUTS page on this blog for FREE trial workouts and/or a free 14-day trial in which you can access a wide variety of the programs I regularly do.  Here is the link to access the 14-Day Free Trial. If you need any guidance about which program might be best for your or if you want a virtual workout partner let me know as well…I would be happy to help!!

As we navigate the craziness around us right now and our “new normal” it is so important to take the best care of ourselves that we possibly can to not only keep ourselves healthy but all those around us as well.  While we may not be able to control everything that is happening currently, we can take control of our physical and mental well-being.  Hopefully the info and tips I provided here on how to give our immune systems a helping hand will be useful in weathering this storm and coming out on other side stronger and ready to jump back into normal life.  Please let me know how you are all doing and just remember, hang in there, this too shall pass!  Sending lots of love to you all….





I love to sleep y’all!  And the older I get the more I realize how much a good night’s sleep can cure.  But sleep and I haven’t always been the best of friends.  For years I struggled with bouts of insomnia. There would be months on end where I would only be able to get a few hours of sleep a night.  First it was I couldn’t fall asleep.  Then I would fall asleep but wake up like a gazillion times during the night.  Ugh, there are very few things more frustrating than laying in bed and staring at the ceiling for hours and hours just wishing you could fall asleep.  But these days my insomnia is a thing of the past (**knocking on wood**).  Like just about everything else in my life, my sleep has improved dramatically since I started taking better care of myself.  I generally fall asleep very quickly now, I rarely wake up in the middle of the night anymore and I usually get the solid 7ish or so hours a night that I need to not feel like a walking zombie the following day.  Sleep is sometimes a part of your health and fitness journey that gets overlooked or not given a high enough priority,  so I wanted to talk a little bit about it today because it really is so, so important to your over all well-being! Let’s start with the basics:

How much sleep exactly do we need?

Well like most things’ health and fitness related, the exact number varies from person to person.  Some people can function with less, some need more but generally adults need between 7-9 hours of sleep per night.  Adults in this case are healthy individuals between the ages of 18-64.  See below for a full breakdown of sleep needs by age:

Sleep Chart

Why is it so important for good health?

So, so many reasons you guys!  I mean we all know how much better we feel, how much more alert and energetic we are after a good night sleep but that is only the tip of the iceberg when talking about how beneficial good quality sleep is for us.   Below are some of the major impacts sleep has on our bodies:

  • Cardiovascular Health: Lack of good quality sleep has been shown to raise blood pressure which puts you at risk for things like heart attacks, heart disease and strokes.  Even otherwise healthy people who do not smoke and aren’t overweight are more at risk for cardiovascular issues if they aren’t getting enough sleep. The more sleep you get the more rest you give your heart muscles and blood vessels, both of whom work hard for you day in and day out!
  • Reduces Inflammation: This is a big one for me because I suffer from Ulcerative Colitis so getting enough sleep to make sure my UC stays in remission is key.  Sleep deprivation has been linked to an increase in both inflammation and cell damage which can cause, exacerbate and/or prolong a lot of really undesirable diseases such as IBS, Crohns, UC , diabetes and even some cancers.
  • Reduces Stress & Anxiety: Getting a good night’s sleep is a great mood booster don’t ya think!  Getting the proper amount each night has been shown to ward off things like depression and anxiety disorders.  An interesting way this happens is while you sleep your brain is actually processing your emotions which in turn trains you to react the right way when you are awake.  This training helps ward off the blues and just makes us easier, happier, more well-adjusted humans to be around. 😊
  • Improves Concentration, Attention Span and in turn Productivity: We all know how tough it is to get through even the most routine of tasks when we haven’t slept well or enough but there is actual science as to why.  The more sleep we get the more able we are to not only intake but store new information, aka. learn new things!  Just as our brains are processing our emotions while we sleep, so too are they processing all the things we learned during the day.  The more sleep, the more knowledge is processed, stored and in turn available for use long-term, practical use.
  • Helps promote healthy weight and muscle building: While we are sleeping our bodies are hard at work repairing themselves. Sleep gives us the chance to basically reap the rewards of all the hard work we are putting in during the day with our fitness routines by giving our muscles a chance to repair and rebuild themselves bigger and stronger than they previously were.  Sleep also fights away the hormone cortisol which is largely responsible for how much water we retain as well as our fat burning ability.   I feel like I also have to throw in here that the more rested we are the better quality our workouts are gonna be in the first place which obviously leads to more calories burned and better overall results!

Tips for Better Sleep:

So now that we know how important sleep is to so many difference aspects of our health, how can we help ourselves get the sleep we so desperately need?  Well here are a few tips I have come across which have really helped me!

  • Unplug! – Studies have shown that staring at your phone or computer screen right before bed can actually trick your brain into being more alert due to being triggered by the bright lights coming off the screen. It in essence wakes up your brain instead of allowing it to wind down in preparation for sleep mode.  You want to cut out screen time at least 30 minutes before you go to bed.  One thing I have started to do is read for about 30-60 minute before bedtime.  It’s a double win for me because one of my goals was to read more/watch less this year and reading tends to make me tired anyway so I end up falling asleep quicker!
  • Along with putting electronic devices down, don’t watch TV in your bed – You want to condition your brain to think of the bed and bedroom as a place for sleep and that’s it.  Your bed shouldn’t be a place for entertainment (I mean, at least not like movie watching/Netflix binging entertainment if you get my drift).  It should be a place your brain associates with sleep and that’s it.
  • Limit caffeine to morning/early afternoon One of the big things I did about a year ago to help with my sleeping issues was I stopped drinking caffeinated beverages after about noon.  I was religiously having a second and even third coffee of the day way past 2pm and I think it was contributing to me not being able to fall asleep come nighttime. You also want to limit nicotine usages before bed and even alcohol intake as well.  While alcohol is a depressant it has actually been shown to contribute to restless and poor-quality sleep later in the night.  You might pass out quickly after one, two or five drinks but trust me you are not getting good, solid sleep!
  • Stick to a regular schedule as much as possible That is go to bed at the same time every night and get up in the morning at the same when at all possible.  The more regular your sleep cycle is the more conditioned your brain and body will become to falling asleep at a regular time and getting up hopefully 7-9 hours later hopefully fully recharged.  For me, I even make it a point to wake up generally at the same time on the weekends as I do during the week so that I can maintain a consistent sleep schedule.  It makes getting up on Monday that much easier (well as easy as it can be to get up on a Monday!).
  • Take a hot shower/bath right before bed This is another tip I started implementing on a regular basis that has really helped me fall asleep much quicker.  When you take a hot shower/bath right before bed you are raising your body temperature.  With your temperature being raised, your brain thinks you are getting ready to slow down and basically hibernate for the night.  Plus it saves me time in the morning as well so I can sleep just a little bit later!

The moral of this story (post) is that sleep is an integral part of achieving and maintaining good health.  So often I think people don’t prioritize it enough when it comes to losing weight and getting fit.  A huge recommendation of mine is if you are doing all the other things right, watching what you are eating, working out consistently, but still not losing weight, is to examine you sleep patterns.  With so many benefits far beyond just feeling refreshed and well-rested, sleep is not something to skimp on.  Everything from your heart health, to preforming better at work, to fighting off the common cold, to battling life-threatening diseases can be made better if you are consistently getting those 7-9 hours of sleep a night. So put down your phones, make your bedrooms a sleep sanctuary and get in your zzzz’s each and every night!  Your body and mind will both thank you!!

Also, if you guys don’t mind taking a quick sec and taking the survey below, I would really love to get your feedback on what you would like to see more of on this site.  Your opinions is super important to me and I would love to hear from you!  Thank you!!!




The secret to losing weight and getting healthy is…

The secret to losing weight and getting healthy is…

JUST STAND UP!  Ok, I just heard you roll your eyes but stay with me here!! The good news is losing weight and getting healthy isn’t all that complicated.  You really just need to burn more calories than you are taking in and make sure that you are taking in calories that nourish your body and help it to thrive.  The not so good news, you have to do this like a lot.  Not just once a year around January 1st. Not for a few weeks before your beach vacation rolls around.  Not when the latest fad diet comes out and you go all in for like a month.  Your results will depend on what you do the majority of the time, day in and day out, consistently. Period.  End of story. This goes for both working out and eating healthy.

But before we can become consistent with either of those two things we just have to start.  And to stand up and take that first step I really recommend you have a solid reason to do so or a “why”.  My “why” was I found myself ten pounds heavier than I had been ever in my life about two years ago.  I was uncomfortable in my own skin.  I was chronically sick with sinus infections, colds, flus, you name it.  I was missing work. I was eating like crap, hardly ever working out and I think most debilitating of all was my anxiety was through the roof.  I went from having maybe a few panic attacks a year to having a few every single week!!  My “why” started out with just wanting to lose the weight but it very quickly morphed into wanting to be as strong and healthy physically and mentally as possible.

So why is the “why” so important?  Because without it the motivation to stick to our guns and go after our goals when the struggle gets really real isn’t there.  As much as I have grown to love working out and eating right, I still struggle on some days to find the motivation to do so.  Sometimes I would much rather sit on the couch and binge on Friends reruns than pick up those weights and press play. And for sure there are a lot of days I would much rather eat that extra-large sundae with all the toppings instead of my small cup of plain fro-yo.  On days when my motivation is pretty low I always think back to my “why”. I think about the person I was two years ago. How crappy I felt all the time.  How out of control of my own life I felt.  How I wasn’t happy with myself at all.  It really was a dark period in my life and these days when working out and/or eating right is the last thing I want to do all I have to do is think back to how I felt two years ago and my butt gets right off the couch and in motion because I don’t ever want to be that person again!

No matter what your “why” is once you have found it the first step to achieving your goals is simply to just stand up.  Decide. Commit. Don’t look back!  If you are at home, get up off the couch and move around for 30 minutes.  Take a walk, clean your room, bust out some crunches while you are watching you favorite TV show.  If you are at work, same thing.  Take a 30-minute walk at lunch time.  Get up and stretch every hour. Take the stairs instead of the elevator.  Just start moving!  Being active for even just 30 minutes a day can do wonders for your health! For instance, 30 minutes of heart-rate raising activity can:

  • Reduce blood pressure
  • Help shed some pounds
  • Ease stress and anxiety
  • Improve cardiovascular health
  • Improves sleep quality
  • Boost your immune system

Just to name a few benefits!  So what are some other ways to get off to a good start when you have made that all important decision to get healthy?  Well a few ways I recommend are:

  • Get a baseline physical: It is important to get clearance from your doctor before you really dive into an exercise program just to make sure everything is in good working order. You want to make sure you are healthy enough to start putting extra stress on your body for one and your doctor may even be able to guide you in terms of what exercise might be right to meet your fitness/health goals.  I also recommend getting your labs done to make sure you are hitting the mark nutritionally and getting all the vitamins and minerals you need through your current diet.  For example, in my case my last physical showed my cholesterol was borderline high so I have made some efforts to change my diet in order to naturally lower it.  Fingers crossed it works!
  • Focus on whole foods: The basic idea behind eating more “whole foods” is that you are eating more natural foods instead of pre-packaged, processed foods. Examples of whole foods include fruits, veggies, nuts, fish, poultry and eggs.  Examples of not-so-healthy foods to stay away from are chips, cookies, snack mixes, white breads, basically anything that comes in a convenient, ready-to-eat package.  Usually processed foods are very nutrient poor, have a lot of added salt and/or sugar and just often contain artificial ingredients that aren’t doing our bodies any good.  On the flip side, whole or non-processed foods are usually full of nutrients, are heart-healthy and can even reduce the risk of some diseases.  Start by switching out a few of those pre-packaged snack foods you keep around for when that afternoon craving hits for better choices like apples and peanut butter or carrots and hummus.
  • Up that water intake: I am such a huge proponent of drinking enough water you guys!  I even wrote a whole separate post (Drink up! H20 that is!) on it if you want more details but in the meantime making a conscious effort to up your water intake is a great way to start getting healthy. Water does so many important things for our bodies including improving brain function, upping energy levels and even boosting our immune system.  Plus, a tall glass of water before meals can fill us up a bit so we don’t eat quite as much.  Start by replacing a sugary soft-drink, iced tea or fruit juice with a glass of water once or twice a day.  Also, I find it helpful to keep track of how many glasses I have had a day to make sure I am hitting the mark  Trust me, the more water you drink the healthier you will feel and be!!
  •  Find what works for you: Find something that appeals to you when you are just starting out, whether it be a quick walk around your neighborhood, a short hike at the local park, a Pilates or yoga class or maybe go swim a few laps at your local pool.  Choosing something that you enjoy doing will only increase the likelihood of you sticking with it and in turn hitting your goals.  Physical activity in just about any form has so many benefits and there is no reason you can’t make it fun as well!  I also personally believe that mixing up your workouts and trying new ways of being active goes a long way in helping you stick to your goals.  One of the reasons I think I have been successful thus far in my own journey is that I found a program that includes over 700+ different workouts that I can do from just about anywhere. I am never bored and can find a workout to fit whatever mood I am in that day. As they say, the only bad workout is one that you didn’t do! 

So find your “why”, stand your newly determined butt up and take that first step towards a more active, healthy future!  Make small changes in the beginning that will ultimately become the foundation for your new lifestyle moving forward.  Don’t beat yourself up over setbacks.  Remember to celebrate your successes and on those especially challenging days where you can’t find your motivation anywhere, think back to your “why” and remember why you started in the first place.  You’ve got this and if ever you need that extra kick in the butt you know where to find me!!

Also guys if you want to take a minute and check out my poll below…I would love to get your feedback on what you would like to see more of on this site!  Your opinion is so important to me and I want to make sure I am putting stuff up that you find helpful!!

Thanks so much and happy Monday y’all…let’s make this a great week!!



Who me? A Runner?

Who me? A Runner?

In the wise words of Charles Dickens, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times”.  In this case the times are when I am running and indeed they are both the best and worst times of my week.  Ok that may be a little dramatic as it is not really the worst of times but running for me is definitely both extremely challenging and very rewarding all at the same time.   I want to quit about a half dozen times before I even start, but then I get going and the love affair is back on!  I have had this sort of tumultuous relationship with running for as long as I can remember but the start of it definitely dates back to my time on my high school cross country team.    I am not sure what even possessed me to join the team but I subjected myself to two seasons of ten plus mile practices every day of the week until I ended up with a gnarly case of shin splints at the end of my second year and decided to hang up my Nikes.

I think part of my motivation way back in those days and even today is that I have always wanted to be able to say, “I am a runner!”. You know, those people who wake up at the ass crack of dawn to get their easy breezy eight miles in before work and run races every Saturday morning just to continue to challenge themselves even on the weekends.  Alas, I have not yet become that person but I have started to make the attempt again and this time I am happy to report it is going much better than it has previously.  I have dabbled in trying to become a runner many times over the years since my “glory days” of the cross-country team but with each attempt came pretty quick failure.  It always seems like such a cool thing to do and the people in my life who are true runners even make it seem so easy but when you get down to it running (at least for me) can be just plain hard.

In this most recent attempt to transform myself into one of those enviable runner-types I think I realized something that may just be the key to actually allowing me to stick with it this time.  I realized that the truly difficult part of running is convincing your mind that you can do it.   While of course there is a physical element to being able to run any prolonged distance, it is really your mind you have to convince not to give up when your body starts telling you it is uncomfortable.  Our bodies are really amazingly durable machines and can withstand quite a bit of stress when asked to, our minds, however, are a bit more temperamental.  As soon as they sense any bit of pain, strain or fatigue they have the tendency to say….” Hey there chick, stop what you are doing because it is making me feel a tad but unpleasant”.

This revelation came to me about a month into my most recent attempt at running when I was on the treadmill and hit the two-mile mark.  This is where I would normally throw in the towel due to those unpleasant sensations starting to manifest themselves.  By unpleasant sensations I mean you know the burning lungs, leg soreness and that really painful side cramping.  I typically would start to experience one or all of these things and immediately reach for the cool down button thinking my body was telling me it was time to stop.  This particular day for whatever reason I decided to try to push myself through the pain and I kept right on running.  Low and behold I made it 2 more miles for a total of 4 miles before I actually had to stop, due to needing to get ready and go to work.  I was shocked!  I hadn’t run four miles in years and I did it more easily than I would have even thought possible!  Don’t get me wrong, it was challenging as it is every time I set out for a run, but my body yet again surprised me and I was able to achieve something I hadn’t thought I was capable of up until that point.

Now to be fair, I had been working out consistently for about a year and a half at this point so it wasn’t like I was in terrible shape but I certainly hadn’t been running or really doing any amount of cardio at all on a regular basis.  I had been mostly doing strength training and HIIT workouts (following the at-home workout programs I still swear by) with only a smidgen of cardio mixed in, usually in the form of 30 minutes on the elliptical every so often when the mood struck.  So to make it four miles not only gave me a gigantic confidence boost but also renewed my interest in transforming myself into a runner. Since that morning I have been consistently running about 3 or so days a week and have been progressively increasing my speed and distance slowly but surely.  This coming weekend is my next actual 5k race and then I am eyeing another 4-5 races before the season is over.

So why run anyway?  Well I am glad you asked! 😊  As dramatic as I was being earlier in this post about how hard it is for me, running is an amazing workout that can really do wonders for your mind and body.  Below are some of the top reasons I continue to lace up my running shoes and get those miles under my belt as well a few suggestions for when you are just starting out:

How to (safely) get started:

  • Make sure you invest in good running shoes: You guys this is so important to being successful not only when first starting out but even if you’re a seasoned runner. You want to get shoes that are specific to running because they are designed to cushion your foot (midsole and arch support is key), make your feet feel lighter as you run, they will help you avoid blisters and other running related injuries, and can even improve your overall performance.  My go-to’s are usually Asics or New Balance.  It’s always a good idea to get fitted as well to make sure you are getting shoes that work with your feet.  Happy Feet = Happy Run!
  • Start Gradually!! – If you are attempting your very first run or your first run in like a gazillion years don’t go out and expect to make it ten miles right off the bat. Much like with any other sport you have to give your body time to adjust and condition itself to the new stress you are putting it under.  I started with a mile, then made it to two and after hovering right around the two-mile mark for several weeks eventually was able to start upping my mileage to between 3-5 on any given day. Easing into a new running routine is key to avoiding injury, sticking with your goals and avoiding the too much too soon scenario which almost always leads to burnout and you throwing in the towel prematurely.  A great tool to help you structure your running program is a Couch to 5k plan.  You can find a variety of these programs online which help you to map out exactly what distances to run each day to safely increase your running stamina.  Also, great if one of your goals is to actually run a 5K!
  • Incorporate Strength Training: I think this is one of the reasons I have (so far) been more successful in my attempt at being a runner this time around.  I was consistently strength training for over a year before I began running again so my legs were stronger, my core was stronger, and I was in overall better shape than I had been at the start of any previous attempts.  Despite the sometimes thought that running and strength training are mutually exclusive, strength training can greatly increase your running performance in my opinion.  If your muscles are stronger you can run longer distances before getting fatigued and your chances of getting injured go way down. So hit those weights, preferably on days you don’t run, and experience the benefits of cross-training for both your body goals as well as your running goals.
  • Listen to your body: I know I have said this a million times, but your body will really tell you what it needs and when it needs it.  A great way to make sure you are not over-taxing your body when you are just starting a running routine is to run one day and then take the next off.  This rest day from running might be a good opportunity to hit those weights I was just talking about as well as give your body time to recover from the run you did the day before.  Also a good idea when first starting out to use a combo of walking and running during your workouts.  Run for a few minutes, walk for a few minutes until you build up your stamina and can run for longer duration’s.  Again, the main thing here is to listen to your body and act accordingly.  If you are sore, take a day off.  If you start cramping mid-way through a run, walk for a few minutes.  Just give your body time to do its thing and it will allow you to push it further in the long run (no pun intended).

Why Run?

  • Amazing for Cardiovascular Health – This one seems pretty obvious but besides being a great way to strengthen your heart, running also does wonders for your lung function, can help lower cholesterol, gives your immune system a boost and of course can even help you lose weight! What else can you ask for in one exercise?!
  • Great Stress Reliever – Ever heard of the Runners High? Oh man, it’s a real thing and let me tell you it’s pretty glorious when it kicks in.  This phenomenon is brought to you by those great little endorphins your brain produces after you have been doing some moderate exercise for a sustained amount of time.  Usually about 25-30 minutes into my run I start to experience the feeling that I could run forever, that I don’t have a care in the world and that I just feel like a million bucks.  The release of endorphins while running has also been shown to be an effective way to treat/manage things like depression and anxiety…especially when running outside!
  • Confidence Booster – Along with the stress relieving benefits of running, it can also make you feel good in a different sort of way…it can make you proud of yourself! I think for me this is one of the biggest appeals of running.  Because it has always been such a challenge for me, when I complete a run, I just feel like I really accomplished something.  Running is far harder for me than weight training or any other kind of cardio so when I successfully meet one of my running goals, I am that much prouder of myself and eager to do it again or meet an even loftier goal.
  • Hey it’s free! – You can literally run just about anywhere!  Throw on some shoes, open your front door and go!  There is no real cost to running other than those all-important shoes it is wise to invest in, but again you can pretty much do it anywhere anytime.  It’s a great way to explore a new place, easy to do if you are away on vacation and getting fresh air everyday does wonders for not only your mind but also has been shown to lower blood pressure, raise your self-esteem, and burns a bunch of calories all at the same time!

So who’s ready to go for a run??  With all the benefits that you can reap even just running one or two days a week (lower cholesterol, lower blood pressure, ward off stroke and arthritis, even potentially prevent some cancers, not to mention shed some weight) why not give it a shot?!  I’m a few months into my own attempt at becoming that runner I have always aspired to be so stay tuned to see how that goes! I think I have a real shot at it this time and seeing as how by body has surprised me countless times since I have started on this health and fitness journey I am feeling pretty confident I can meet this goal as well!   Wish me luck on my upcoming 5k this weekend and if anyone out there has any tips at how to improve as a runner or what has worked for you I would love to hear it!



Reducing Stress and Anxiety…

Reducing Stress and Anxiety…

Because let’s face it, stress is an inevitable part of life no matter how much I would like to tell you otherwise. We all have to deal with it at some point, right? Whether it be that traffic jam that is making you late for an important appointment. Trying to meet an impossible deadline at work. Exams, relationship issues or just simply trying to balance all the different parts of our lives and give 100% to everyone and everything. Earlier today I read that May is National Mental Health Awareness Month which made me stop and think about just how unbelievably better my own mental health has become since starting on my “get Beth healthy” journey a year ago. I wanted to share this part of my story with you all because sometimes with health and fitness it is all about the results you can see on the outside but for me the results you can’t see that have become just as if not more important to me!

I am the definition of a Type A personality. I am also a borderline perfectionist as my fifth-grade teacher first pointed out to me and my parents at a back-to-school night so many moons ago. If I am not early I am late. If I have a big deadline in front of me I will work 24/7 to get it done as quickly as possible. If I don’t get 100% on a test I beat myself up just a little bit (or maybe more than a little bit) for the one or two questions I did get wrong. Sometimes those traits work to my advantage and sometimes they cause me to develop ulcers. I also tend to be a worrier.  My mind likes to lead me to the worst-case scenario a lot of times, keeps me up obsessing about a decision that lays in front of me and sometimes causes me to hyperventilate just sitting in my car for no good reason at all. I have been like this ever since I can remember which again sometimes enables me to excel in certain situations but also makes me very highly prone to the effects of stress and anxiety in others.

Since I have started really paying attention to what I am eating and dedicating consistent time to working out my mental health has improved so much I almost can’t believe it myself! The best way I can describe the difference in the way I feel today versus a year ago is I feel lighter. A LOT lighter. I honestly feel (as cliché as it sounds) like a 100lb weight has been lifted off my chest. I’d always hear people say that, but I never truly understood what it meant prior to starting on my own journey. It really is like I can breathe for the first time in many, many years and it feels phenomenal you guys.

I’ve mentioned in previous posts that I have suffered from panic attacks for a long time. When I first started getting them, it would be a handful a year. Several years ago it started getting worse. I am talking 3-4 attacks a week worse! The problem became so debilitating it was scary for me to leave the house because I was so worried about having one in public where people would see it. Since I decided to get healthy, this issue for me has gotten so much better I can’t even remember the last time I had an attack! It’s been at least 6-8 months and maybe even longer! I can’t tell you what a huge milestone that is for me!

The other part of my mental health story and why I am excited to share it today has to do with those above mentioned panic attacks and medication.  I am not someone who typically runs to the doctor to seek medication for all that ails me. In fact, I hate taking medication of any kind really. I have to be pretty much on my death bed to even take something like an over the counter pain reliever or cough and cold medicine. But when my anxiety and panic attacks got really bad a few years back I had no choice but to seek medical help and ended up being prescribed something to help me deal with the situation. Even with that prescription in hand, I resisted taking it unless I was paralyzed in the midst of an attack and felt I had no other option. Right before I started on this journey, I was having to take that damn pill about 3 times a week and I was angry with myself each and every time I did for not being strong enough to fight off the panic on my own.

Here comes another one of those fun disclaimers I feel the need to throw in every once in a while….this is just how I feel about medication. I just don’t like taking it. Anti-depressants, anti-anxiety medications, heck medications of any kind do work very well for a lot of people and I am not discouraging anyone who does take them or is considering taking them. I honestly have nothing bad at all to say about my experience using what I was prescribed. It helped me many times and I still carry it with me just about every where I go “just in case”. For me though, getting off it was a goal of mine from the time I was prescribed it!

Fast forward to today, my anxiety is all but gone and I have achieved the goal of getting off those meds as well! I can’t remember the last time I had to take a pill for my anxiety. I still have everyday stresses like we all do but I am so much naturally calmer overall that when things do come up I can usually handle it in stride. I don’t freak out over little things anymore. I don’t automatically assume the worst. I haven’t had a panic attack in I don’t even know how long and that sense of impending doom that was always right around the corner is definitely gone! So what big change did I make to get all these positive results? The crazy thing is the only change I really made was deciding to place value on my health. I got fed up with being out of shape and not liking the person I saw in the mirror and just made that one all important decision to do something about it.

So how exactly can mental health be helped by exercise and proper nutrition? Well here are a couple of the big ways:

  • Feeling and looking better can boost your confidence and improve self-image
  • Enables you to get better sleep
  • Exercise increases the levels of endorphins in your brain. Endorphins are those magical little neurotransmitters that trigger a positive feeling in the body. Think “Runners High”!
  • This one is a big one for me: Exercising gets you out of your own head and focuses you on your body. By focusing on the repetitive movements of exercise I especially notice a sense of calm and an almost meditative-like state that is a huge stress relief for me even when I am just working out for 30 minutes during the day.
  • The better shape you are in physically the less you have to worry about health-related issues. Exercise and proper eating obviously keep you in better shape and ward off all kinds of diseases which in both the long and short run will give you less to worry about. And let me tell you, if you think being healthy is expensive, try being sick! Investing in your physical health now will save you all kinds of stress later!

Truth be told, this whole journey really started out with just a goal of losing ten pounds. My mental health wasn’t even really a factor at all in the beginning. Now don’t get me wrong, it’s great to have lost the weight, but it’s what I gained in its place that I think is even more valuable. I gained my peace of mind back. I wake up every day feeling calm and ready to take on whatever the day is going to bring. More importantly still, I wake up every day feeling grateful for all the wonderful things that I do have in my life and even thankful for the challenges that come along because they are just opportunities to continue to learn and grow.

Getting in shape and taking care of my physical health led to such a huge shift in the way I look at the world which in turn did wonders for my mental health. I am so optimistic about the future now because I know if I can accomplish what I already have in just the last twelve months there really isn’t anything out there I can’t achieve if I put my mind to it. Guys, if you are struggling with your mental health in any way shape or form like I was, try giving exercise and eating properly a try if you are not already.  The benefits I have experienced have been amazing and honestly life-changing!  Besides, what do you have to lose?? If anyone out there would like more info about my experience, my workouts or how I have improved my nutrition please feel free to reach out!!  Happy Monday y’all! Let’s have a great week!  🙂



How we doing with our resolutions?

How we doing with our resolutions?

So reading that title either made you cringe or smile. According to statistics more of us cringed than smiled. Hopefully, however, we have achieved or at least are still working towards some of the goals we set for ourselves 4 months ago?!? Maybe? Ok, I’ll go first…my initial reaction was to cringe but then I took a second to think about it and realized I am not totally unhappy with how I have been holding myself accountable to my resolutions. I am actually really happy with how I am doing with my workout programs and sticking to a healthy meal-plan so that warrants a smile, right?? In other areas….not so much but there is still plenty of time left in the year! So let’s begin by focusing on the smile worthy accomplishments first…

A few weeks back I completed my second full program that was 80 days long and pretty intense!  It was a bit more mentally challenging for me than the first one I completed, LIIFT4, (and have since completed once more because I loved it so much!) so getting to the end of it made me feel even better than I could have even imagined. I think that was in part because the person I was a year ago would have probably gotten a few days into it and quit. This program pushed me out of my comfort zone and the old me would probably have thrown in the towel because it was too hard and I didn’t think I could see it through to the end. The new me said “Suck it up and get it done princess”. I like this new me…she’s kind of a badass! 😊

Doing something you think you can’t is one of the best feelings out there you guys. I was actually taken aback by just how good it felt to get to the end of that program in large part because I realized I hadn’t been proud of myself in a long, long time. I am not a crier. I just don’t cry a lot. A couple times a year maybe and usually that is when I am really tired and something happens to where I am slightly inconvenienced or I see a sad story about an animal on TV. I actually teared up when I got to Day 80 y’all. Thankfully I was alone in my living room so no one was there to see it, and I will deny it if asked, but I definitely got a little teary eyed that I had accomplished a goal that challenged me quite a bit both mentally and physically.

Completing that program did help me achieve some more of the physical goals I have been working toward but more than that it made me realize how much mentally stronger I have become over the past year. Another really cool thing that happened when I achieved this goal, was I got refocused on the other goals I had set for myself at the beginning of the year. I suddenly felt re-energized and inspired to do better in the areas that I had let slide a bit such as personal development and reading and writing more. This also got me to thinking about how to better tackle those resolutions that I may have set with the best of intentions but have since put aside as something I keep meaning to get around to doing.

Maybe if you are like me and some of your resolutions are still sitting there without a check mark next to them, it would help to rethink our approach. Sometimes I think we set out to accomplish really important things but fall short because the goals we set are too vague or lack an actual plan of attack. For instance, maybe try some of these changes:

  • Instead of saying, “I want to workout more” – Come up with a realistic number of times during the week you are willing to dedicate to a workout session. Maybe start with 2 days a week and if you can hit that number several weeks in a row, go to 3 or 4. It might also help to say you are going to work out for a specific number of minutes a day. A good place to start is 20-30 minutes a day. Each workout in the current program I am following, 21 Day Fix, is only 30 minutes and believe me I am sweating and my heart rate is up the whole time…you can burn a lot of calories in just 30 minutes if you do it right! Who doesn’t have 30 minutes a day to work on your goals?!?
  • Instead of saying, “I want to lose weight” –Try holding yourself accountable to a specific number of pounds you would like to shed over the next six months or the year or how many pounds per week you want to lose. Having a goal weight in mind makes it a more concrete aspiration and not just a nice idea.
  • Instead of saying, “I want to eat healthier” – Start with a simple swap such as bringing your lunch to work a couple days a week instead of eating out. Another idea is to pick one thing in your diet that isn’t all that healthy to give up the first couple weeks such as soda or fast food. If all goes well, find another swap to make. In my case, I cut out the twice daily sugary Starbucks drinks I was consuming every day and added the superfood shakes I swear by today. What a huge difference that one made y’all, for my health and wallet!!
  • Instead of saying, “I want to be happier/less stressed”Think of things you enjoy doing or activities that are stress-reliving for you and make a plan do them more often. For instance, I have found that attending a Pilates or Yoga class once a week really helps with my stress levels and overall happiness so I plan a day a week that I will attend a class and hold myself to it. Another idea is to try journaling or keeping a daily gratitude list. I use my Happy Planner to write down daily things I am grateful for or looking forward to and that has made a huge difference for me in terms of being happy for all the little things! 😊
  • Instead of saying, I will write more” – Again put an actual number figure to this goal. Like I mentioned earlier, this was a goal I set for myself at the beginning of the year that I haven’t felt I have lived up to. I got really busy with work, was traveling some and you know…life happened aka. Excuses. So for me to start refocusing on this goal, I am going try to write for an hour a day moving forward in hopes of posting once a week which was my original resolution. Same with reading…
  • Instead of just saying, “I am going to read more” Again put an actual time amount on this sort of goal. I have actually begun reading for an hour before I go to bed at night instead of sitting in front of the TV mindlessly scrolling through social media. I remember now how much I like reading for pleasure and am so happy to be doing it again. I have finished three books over the last couple weeks and now I look forward to this time every night as unplugged, me time. Bonus: I have found I am sleeping a little better too not having screen time right before bed!!

Qualifying and/or quantifying our resolutions and in the process making them more tangible might help us get back on track with achieving some of the ones that we have let fall to the wayside. Any time you have a goal without a plan the likelihood of failure seems a lot greater in my opinion. Keep your goals specific, attainable and well-thought out. Also, keeping yourself accountable by writing down your progress either daily, weekly or even monthly tends to be a great motivator as well as a good way to keep track of where you are in terms of achieving your goals. So let’s refocus, reenergize and crush the rest of this year y’all!! #goaldigger



When stress makes itself a priority…

When stress makes itself a priority…

I’ve learned you can either let it get the best of you or acknowledge it and find ways to combat it.  This past week for me has been particularly stressful.  Nothing more than typical life stresses really…work has been crazy, a loved one had to have unexpected surgery (he’s totally fine now, it just was a bit of a surprise) and after traveling last weekend I seemed to pick up a bit of a bug/virus that has completely zapped my energy.  These are common stresses we all go through every once in a while but together they have added up to be a a little bit of a challenge to me this week.

Lets face it, every week isn’t going to be smooth sailing.  Things happen, and in my experience when it rains it tends to pour.  The law of 3 seems to be accurate more often than not. That is, when events happen, both good and bad, they tend to happen 3 at a time.  This past week for me it just seemed to be one thing after another.  Like I have mentioned in previous posts, I try very hard to make this blog a positive space and keep the negativity to a minimum but I also want to speak authentically and stay true to my actual life experiences.  Stress is a life experience I am pretty sure we can all relate to!  I also wanted to write about this topic because while being under a higher level of stress is not a particularly pleasant or positive time in ones life, I have found myself handling it much differently than I have in the past and that has been extremely positive and encouraging for me!

We all usually encounter stress at some point during the day.  Whether it is sitting in a traffic jam, getting a large project dumped on our laps or dealing with kids, family, or friend issues.  Sometimes however, multiple events occur all at once and we find ourselves under more stress than just the every day run of the mill amount.  For me, all the stresses that I mentioned above added up this week and I found myself feeling really run down and completely out of sorts.   I began to lose my appetite, started having trouble concentrating at work, losing my motivation to workout, and even began finding myself on the verge of tears at even the slightest inconvenience.  This is in stark contrast the past several months when I have been feeling better and more motivated than I have felt in years.  My MO in the past when I found myself in times of unusually high stress would have been to just wallow in the unpleasantness for as long as I had to usually just feeling sorry for myself.  I typically wouldn’t have made much effort to try to turn things around, simply just accepting the victim role instead of trying to be proactive and help myself.  I think this was the case because up until very recently I didn’t value or prioritize my physical, emotional or mental well being nearly enough as I should have or do now!  What ended up usually happening would be somewhat of a nasty cycle that typically looked like this:  I would have trouble sleeping, lose my appetite, my energy levels would plummet,  I would therefore stop working out which only compounded the mental and physical side effects and usually I would end up getting sick and feeling even more sorry for myself!  Pretty dumb, right?!

Ok ready for the positive part of this story? 🙂  Since starting on this health and wellness journey I have found I am so much more in tune with and in turn protective of my physical and mental happiness. As soon as I realized how much the stress was taking a toll on my overall well-being I immediately knew I had to get a handle on it.   I am so in love with this new lifestyle of mine that when I even got the slightest hint a few days back that my energy levels were dropping and my desire to workout was being effected I said “Oh, heck no!” and just simply made a choice to change my attitude.  While there maybe wasn’t a quick solution to all the things going on in my life I knew the one thing I could do to combat the negative side effects was change my outlook about all of it.  That and I made sure I did not miss even one daily workout.  Even when I was exhausted and feeling run down after an especially long day at work I made it a priority to get at least 30 minutes of exercise in.  No surprise at all, as soon as I was finished I had a big smile on my face and felt much more able to handle what was being thrown at me. It really is amazing was a little exercise can do!

When it comes down to it, you really have two choice in situations where stress is forcing you to stop and take notice of its presence….take a “poor me” approach and let it get the best of you or you take the power back and do what you can to positively work through it.  Stress happens y’all.  Sometimes it’s worse than others.  This time around I seriously just told myself this too shall pass, don’t let it derail all the hard work you have been putting in.  I know work will settle down.  My loved one is on the mend and on the road to a a full recovery and all the other little annoyances that have added up over the past few weeks are just that, LITTLE annoyances.  I have so much to be thankful and grateful for even with all this other stuff going on and that is something that I made a conscious effort to focus on!  This journey to becoming my best self continues to surprise me in the most positive ways!  Situations where I found myself overly stressed in the past would have lasted much longer and had a much more negative impact on my life.  My desire to stay on track, keep making positive progress and do the right thing by my mind and body was definitely tested and I am so happy to report that positivity won out!

Beth – 1, Stress – 0!

Have a great day everyone!