Ready, Set, Reset

There is a huge difference between being comfortable and stuck. When I started my fitness journey, I was really unhappy with where I was. Then over the course of the next year and a half, I slowly but surely moved into a place that I was really proud to be in. I started being able to shop in whatever store I wanted, getting compliments from people I had known for years, and I finally was getting the results that I worked so hard to get. I mean, losing 70 pounds completely changes you; mentally and physically.

For the past couple of months, I have been comfortable. I eat healthy, drink the water I’m supposed to, and hit the gym a few times a week. I also am not afraid to indulge myself once in a while and I don’t spend hours beating myself up if I miss a trip to the gym. Travelling for work has also been an added challenge as I have had brand new restaurants I wanted to try and for some reason the state of Kentucky doesn’t have Gold’s Gyms (insert eye roll). Kentucky does have a lot of good food and I have made it a point to try most of it (excuse, all of it).

I have thoroughly enjoyed every minute of the past couple of months. I have spent a good amount of the time celebrating my victories, on and off the scale. Most importantly, I have proved to myself that I really understand what goes into a sustainable maintenance lifestyle and the importance of finding a balance that works for me.

But… I have, yet again, moved to a new part in my journey. I feel stuck. I’m not seeing new results (and no before anyone suggests a plateau, I’ve just gotten lazy), I’ve gotten too relaxed with my eating and I am just overall not challenging myself anymore. I feel stuck and I refuse to let that be a word used to describe me. So, back to moving I go.

Hitting the Reset Button

I would daresay at some point during your life, you have set a goal and reached it. Even if you never quite got to where you wanted to be, I am fairly confident that you at least started the process and saw some results. It’s okay to get comfortable/stuck and have to hit the reset button. That is exactly what I am choosing to do. I am looking forward to challenging myself again, even though I know it is going to suck. But I have survived (and thrived, if I say so myself) before.

Goal Setting

We have already discussed goals, but just ensure that whatever you are pushing for is something that you want. Unless it’s a goal at work and then you’re on your own with that one, kid. Your boss will ever so politely set those for you. Anyways, your personal goals need to be just for you. When you begin to do things for you, it just continues to create a culture within yourself of power and self-love. And just like the most important Word you’ll read says, “Do everything in love.” So wouldn’t you want to live your own life in love?

Your Goals Should Be:

  •  Attainable & Realistic. You’re not going to drop 70 pounds in a week. That’s not realistic and you don’t get to be mad at the end of it and drown your sorrows in a bag of chips. Your goals
  • Trackable. It’s hard to keep track of anything if you aren’t actually able to track it. Take measurements. Write down how you are mentally feeling. Note when you start to see a difference in your clothes. Take pictures. Whatever you do, just keep up with it.
    • You can choose more subtle ways to track. For example, I didn’t take any photos of my body to document progress. It wasn’t good for me mentally, so I chose not to do. For some, that is the biggest motivator.
  • Adaptable. Your goals are not concrete. It’s okay to make adjustments to fit better for what you ultimately want. It’s also okay to just completely change what you want or if you change your mind. Key word: YOU. Stop letting people step all over what you want and rearrange your goals accordingly. This is coming from someone who was told they couldn’t reach their goals…. boop, guess what happened? I did. You can too.

Accountability

Now it’s time to actually put the goals into action and start working towards them. Whether you are just beginning or restarting or resetting or just re-doing the whole thing, I think it’s always nice to have a reminder that you can do it. Even if you are scared, you are capable.

You have to be able to hold yourself accountable. You have to have some kind of desire to reach your goals and do what it takes to make it happen. One way to hold yourself accountable is to physically write down your goals. Put them on the fridge or on your bathroom mirror. My coworkers and I are going to post our goals on a column by our desks that we see multiple times a day. I’m going to put my new goals up in my room. It’s not about guilting yourself into doing it, but it’s a nice reminder and a promise that you’re making to yourself.

Finding an accountability partner also really helps. An accountability partner isn’t just someone who is supportive, this should be someone who is also working towards a goal. So on the days when you really want to skip the gym, they encourage you to go. And on the days that it’s been really hard and you just want to eat some ice cream, they grab an extra spoon. It’s nice to have someone in your corner rooting for you while you can root for them at the same time.

If you feel like you need someone to hold you accountable, I would be more than happy to be that for you. The whole reason that I started this blog was to share my story, get some laughs, and ultimately help people. I know, sooooo cheesy. You’ve made it to the end of the post… so for that, I applaud you. If you feel like you need someone in your corner to cheer you on (even if we don’t live in the same place), I would love to be that person for you. This isn’t some blogger gimmick and I don’t want to be your cheerleader for $20 a month. I just want you to feel the strength that comes when two people choose to empower each other. If that’s you, please reach out. Let’s do it together.

-O

Fitness List: Must Haves

Thanksgiving has come and gone which can only mean one thing. It is officially the Christmas season. So all you Scrooges out there can quit being rude and start listening to Christmas music like the rest of us. I love Black Friday shopping. I mean I love it a ridiculous amount. I just delight in the drama of the whole day. People running through Walmart to get a cheap tv in a fit of rage cracks me up. Just for the record, I am not running through stores, I am just an innocent spectator. And by innocent spectator I mean spending way too much money on crap I don’t need. Anyways…

As I was walking from store to store I couldn’t help but notice a lot of the craze items that every store had on sale. A lot of those items were things that have been really instrumental for me during my fitness journey. So, I thought you all might want to add some of them to your list since Santa Clause is getting ready for the big day. Here’s a list of my top five in no particular order:

  1. Air Fryer
    • If you add nothing else to your list, please do yourself a favor and add this.
    • An air fryer does the same thing to food that a deep fryer does, but it does it with air. It’s witchcraft and I cannot explain what is happening inside besides the fact that it is magic.
    • It also can cook raw chicken in 12 minutes and roasts broccoli in 6 minutes versus the 36 minutes and 25 minutes that they take in the oven. It’s so versatile and there hasn’t been a thing I’ve made in it yet that hasn’t been good!
  2. Big Water Bottle
    • I’ve had a lot of experience drinking water, but I have realized there is nothing more exhausting than filling up a bottle over and over again.
    • I just bought a new bottle that is 64 oz. and it is a game changer. I really only have to drink two bottles the whole day and that’s just easier for my brain than trying to count nine other bottles. I never said I was good at math.
  3. Nice Headphones
    • Preferably wireless
    • These make a huge difference at the gym. Especially if you are doing any floor exercises or lifting weights. You don’t have to worry with the cord getting in your way.
    • Headphones can be hard to pay for because there are the Gummy brand sitting two feet away on the shelf and they are only $5. The investment will be worth it
  4. Digital Food Scale
    • There is no way to know what you are eating if you don’t have a way to track it. I started out by using measuring cups but it made everything much more difficult to manage. And I got lazy and tired of constantly washing them.
    • A food scale serves the same purpose but you start measuring it all in grams and ounces. I recommend a digital one instead of one that you have to read the numbers… once again, not great at math.
    • My scale was only $14 and worth every penny. I got it at Walmart.
  5. Home Gym
    1. Spoiler Alert: You don’t have to spend a ton of money to make your own functional, home gym.
    2. I have a few staple items that can give me a full body workout at my house.
      1. 10 pound hand weights
      2. Yoga Mat
      3. Stretch Resistance Bands
      4. Foam Roller
      5. Fitness Ball (optional)
      6. Kettle Ball (optional)
    3. By adding these few items to your house, you are able to get rid of the excuse to not workout because you don’t want to go the gym. Just bring the gym to your house.

       

The list may seem like a list of simple things. Nothing on here is over $100 so they’re great additions to add to a list if you’re looking for a few small things to help with your lifestyle change. I use each of the things on this list a couple of times a week, if not more. Hopefully Santa can pull through for ya, as long as you’ve behaved.

-O

Winter is Coming

I have exhausted all of my Game of Thrones references in the title, so if that’s what you’ve come here for, I’m sorry to have misled you. Winter is, as a matter of fact, coming. And what comes along with winter? Holidays.

If there is one thing in this entire world that I love it is the holiday season. Emphasis on Christmas. All of the other holidays are just a pregame to Christmas. But, I will be respectful of all the other holiday lovers out there (just know that you’re wrong). The holidays are a perfect time to reflect on the last year, get a mindset for your upcoming goals and be thankful for all of the amazing things that you have all while being surrounding by family and friends. But… I know I am not alone when I say that the holidays can be really stressful.

There’s a lot of pressure. Are you single? Still trying to graduate from college? Not particularly at a job that you want/love? Maybe you packed on a couple of pounds? Broke? Tired? Struggling with a bad haircut? You’re aware of whatever you have going on and now you have the faces of all the people you love the most staring back at you. Or maybe some of them aren’t the ones you love the most, but they happen to be the most vocal. Go figure.

As we move into the holiday season I hope that you choose to be more mindful. You are enough. You were enough before you went home for the holidays. You are enough even if you have to show up to the family lunch alone. You’ll still be enough after you eat three plates full of food. You know all of these things to be true, but I hope you keep that in mind over the holiday season if you begin to feel anything less than that. It’s hard to remember to do that sometimes, so I’m gonna hold you to it.

So, in my typical fashion, here are a couple of mindful reminders to get you through the season!

  • It is not The Last Supper…
    • This goes out to all of my people who have nutritional goals or who are trying to make better food choices throughout the holiday season.
    • Thanksgiving is not the last time you are going to get to eat. Just try to be more mindful. Treat yo’ self. But maybe only have three desserts instead of five? I feel like Thanksgiving kicks off the most ridiculous spiral of eating choices and you think you’re just sitting down for one meal but then it’s all of a sudden a week later and you wake up from a black-out and you’ve eaten everything in sight for days on end. Thanksgiving is one day. So try to keep your bad choices wrapped into that day. Or maybe just extend it through the weekend.
    • Once the holiday has wrapped up (no pun intended because then it is really Christmas time), you are going to wake up from that food coma and feel guilty. Making small, subtle choices can help to get you back to the swing of things and back to your normal routine.
    • Just for the record, I’m not suggesting you throw in the towel completely, this is a time to indulge yourself, so celebrate accordingly.
  • Shoutout to my single people
    • It is a common thread for people to come out of the woodworks with this around the holidays. Coming from a fellow member of the club, I got you. I hear you. I feel it too. I’ll be right there with you this season.
    • It’s hard to keep it in perspective when you’re surrounded by happy couples celebrating the love that they have for each other… but, instead I choose to be mindful of all the things that I have done myself over the last year. The holidays aren’t absent of love just because you are single. It just gives you an extra opportunity to love on yourself.
    • Just a note: Why do people consider it the perfect time to ask if you have found a special friend… WHY. and why do adults try to be subtle and call someone your special friend?
  • Set traditions for yourself!
    • I’m sure that some of you have traditions that your family has done for years and years. All of the women in my family go on a big shopping trip on Black Friday. Except we do a lot more eating than actually shopping. We also used to all play a football game on Thanksgiving Day in the yard. Kickball is involved. They’re some of my favorite traditions in the world.
    • There are a lot of traditions that stress me out. Everyone fussing in the kitchen. There’s a lot of love, but it’s still fussing. Traveling is difficult and traffic is ridiculous. Traveling with a pet (whom weighs 75 pounds is even more difficult).
    • If there is one thing in life that I swear by, it is balance. Everything isn’t always going to be rainbows and butterflies, just like everything isn’t going to be thunder and lightning. Finding balance during the holidays is hard, but one way that I do that is to create my own traditions. Be mindful of the things that make you happy.
      • My roommate and I decorate our house together every year, just us. The Grinch plays in the background and it is a relaxed time to make our house look great. She decorates the tree and I put out the other stuff in the house. No stress. Just happy. And it’s been like that for the last six years. Find your own traditions whether with friends or by yourself.
  • Remember the Reason
    • Stay mindful of the reason for all of the holiday shenanigans. It’s not about the new outfit during family Thanksgiving. Or all of the presents that you can buy on Friday. It’s all about remembering to have a grateful heart and a time for giving thanks. The year is coming to a close (which seems crazy!!) and a brand new year full of new surprising and adventures is waiting just around the corner. So, when you feel like you’re too caught up in the moment or too overwhelmed to stop and actually enjoy it, just remember all of the things that you have to be thankful for.

Well, we have about 48 hours until the first holiday of the season hits and after that we will be caught in the whirlwind of snowflakes and Santa Clauses. Gift wraps and shopping lists. But I hope you keep in mind, through all the tinsel and mistletoe, that you are still just as important as you were the day before. Here’s to the holidays, y’all!

-O

 

 

Run, October, Run

The title is so cheesy it’s almost painful, huh? I couldn’t help it. If you gather nothing else from this entire blog, please at least take home the understanding that if there is ever an opportunity to make a Forrest Gump reference, you seize the moment. You make that reference. You let those haters hate.

Last weekend, I ran my first race. It was just a 5k, so i’ll try not to get carried away here. But I can honestly say that I have never pushed myself harder physically than I did during that race. I’ve had some pretty hard workouts over the last year and a half. I mean like hard. Bend over and put your hands on your knees and pray you don’t vomit on the gym floor hard. But running. Ugh. It’s just not for me. And people I really gave it my best go.

If there is one thing I am good at it is making people laugh… and this was no exception. So if nothing else from this whole experience I hope you all can at least get a little giggle at my expense.

Mile One: For the first thirty seconds, I was thriving. Momma has got some long legs and I was just zooming past all these people. Until I was about a fourth of a mile in and there was a hill… hmm. In all of the training I did over the past two months, I did not plan for hills. I, nor my legs, were prepared for hills. Also, keep in mind, it was 34 degrees outside. I couldn’t even change the song on my phone because my thumb was frozen solid at this point.

I also have very sensitive eyes. So about eight minutes in and I was full blown crying the tears weren’t stopping, it was just so cold and there was so much wind. As I ran past the people watching the race I could see the worry on their faces. “Oh no, that poor girl is gonna pass out and now she’s crying.”

Mile Two: I had a really good cold sweat situation going on by this point. Similar to the flu, but you don’t typically run while flu-ridden. This is the time that hill number two presented itself. If you’ve ever been to Nashville and gone across the walking bridge, you know what hill I am referring to. You aren’t typically running up those hills, it’s usually more of a saunter after an evening out. It’s hard enough to walk up it.

Mile Three: During this mile, both a 70 year old woman and 10 year old little boy passed me. It wasn’t my shining moment. I accidentally muted my music at one point and heard myself breathing for a millisecond and it was audible. I had crossed over to the zone of being so out of breath that I was wheezing. It was ugly.

My goal was to finish under 35 minutes and as I turned the corner and saw the timer, I realized it could definitely happen if I dialed it up a notch. So I started to run in the way that I have always reserved my running, as if someone was chasing me. I ran right through the finish line and proceeded to walk away from the crowd as far as I could. I could not let these people watch me hyperventilate after three measly little miles.

After I composed myself and walked out from behind the news van I was hiding behind to catch my breath, I was overwhelmed with such a sense of accomplishment. All of the ridiculous things that happened to me during those three miles seemed so insignificant because I did something that I used to believe that I was never capable of doing.

There was a time that I literally told myself I couldn’t do it. That I wasn’t healthy or strong enough. That I was just going to embarrass myself. And you know what I did?

I did it. I beat my goal. I ran faster and pushed myself harder than I ever have before. And can you imagine what a shame it would be if I didn’t make the choice to step out of my comfort zone. I want to challenge you to face something that you don’t think you can do. Face it head-on like the badass that you are.

At the end of the day, you just gotta keep running. Even if you’re running right into the face of something that scares you to death.

-O

Meal Prepping 101

Let me make one thing very clear… I did not get big eating bad food. And if you’re on track to put on a couple of extra pounds, don’t you dare do that by eating something yucky. I’m happy to say that there have only been a few times over the last year or so where I have eaten something bad and 90% of that time it’s because I screwed up a recipe. Don’t settle for food that’s gross or that you simply don’t like. There are way too many ways to get creative.

One of the best ways to be healthy, lose weight, or save money is to meal prep. Meal prepping does require some commitment… Did that make anyone’s chest constrict just reading the word? But, it’s totally worth it. My meal preps used to be a hot mess. I was getting so bored with the food and I typically ran out of stuff by Wednesday afternoon. There was definitely a learning curve involved, but now that I know what I am doing I swear by the art of meal prepping. I want to give you all a few ideas and tips that I have learned myself along the way.

  • Pick a Day
    • I believe wholeheartedly in the power of Self Care Sundays. I invite you all to join in with me.
    • On Sundays, I take care of all the things that I need to get done to prepare me for the week. I sacrifice a few hours that day to set me up for the next six days. Seems like a pretty even exchange, huh?
    • Pick a day that works for you to get everything prepared. I only prep once a week, but I know many that will prep on Sunday and Wednesday to have new foods for the last half of the week. Whatever works for you.
  • Plan, Plan, Plan
    • Do ya’ll remember the old Disney World commercials where the little girl was like “Location, Location, Location” while she was packing her suitcase? Those things suckered me in every single time… anyways…
    • You can’t just go to the store and expect that the right things that you need to make healthy meals all week are going to magically fall into your cart. That’s how you end up with Doritos in there.
    • I make a little chart of what my three meals a day plus snacks will be for the week and what ingredients I need from the store. That also will help to keep you on track at the store and stay away from random impulse buys.
    • Pro tip: If you are interested in saving money, you can check the sale ads before you go to the store and meal prep around whatever meat or veggies are on sale that week.
  • Mix It Up
    • To the tune of “Rake it Up”
    • I try not to eat the same foods back to back. If I have something for lunch, I refuse to eat it again for dinner.
    • Meal prepping is not like signing a treaty to eat the same food all week or eating them for whatever meal you wrote them down for on your meal prep “calendar.”
    • I ensure that with my recipes I have enough food for breakfasts, lunch, and dinner. But, if one day I don’t want the chicken that I planned to have for lunch I will just move it around and fit it in on another day. That’s okay. Don’t torture yourself into eating food that you don’t want because you’ll never get the feeling of satisfaction.
  • Versatile Foods
    • Most people refuse to meal prep because they are caught up in the idea that all of it is going to be boring… WRONG. Find foods that are versatile and can make multiple different things throughout the week.
    • Example: Cook a pound of ground beef/turkey. Use as a topper for taco salads. Use as meat in marinara sauce. Put in a low-carb wrap for burrito. Use with rice and beans as a Mexican bowl. Cook flat for hamburger steak. Five different uses from one pound of ground meat.
    • Example: Make spaghetti squash. Monday: Fill with marinara and rotisserie chicken. Tuesday: Fill with alfredo, broccoli, and chicken. Wednesday: Fill with taco seasoning and chicken with veggies. Thursday: pizza sauce, light cheese, and chicken. Nine ingredients for a whole week of food.
    • These versatile foods will be a lifesaver if you have a palate that is easily bored.
  • Breakfast
    • Meal prepping your breakfast doesn’t involve buying five different protein bars for the week. They are full of additives and while I eat them myself, I try to keep it to once a week or if I’m really in a pinch.
    • People are funky about their breakfast. Just about everyone I know is obsessed with the super easy baked egg-white cups. I think they are gross. You don’t have to like everything that people tell you on the internet is good.
    • If you want to eat low-carb cold pizza, be my guest. Keep making healthy choices that work for you. Or eat a yogurt bowl because ya’ll know how much I love those.
  • Lunch & Dinner
    • Lunch doesn’t always have to be a cold cut sandwich. Elementary school really scarred me and I feel that lunch typically revolves around a sandwich and Cheetos. Get comfortable with knowing that you can eat something a little more substantial at lunch time. Cook for your body & the types of fuel that it needs.
    • On the flip side, dinner does not always have to be a five course meal. If you want something light, feel comfortable just eating a salad with some protein on top. I’ll tell you a million times, you need to be listening to your body.
  • Snacks
    • If you are someone who gets hungry or likes to eat more frequently, go ahead and prep your snacks as well.
    • Don’t deprive yourself or sit around and be starving all day if you are actually hungry. It is easy to plan those snacks into your weekly prep.
    • Example: Go ahead and put two tablespoons of hummus in little containers and bag up a few carrots. It is grab and go snacks that’ll help keep your hand out of the candy dish or blowing $10 at the gas station.
  • Hold your Ground
    • This is probably the hardest one for me.
    • Meal prepping tends to knock you out of the group invites to lunch with coworkers/friends. If you have made a meal, you need to be eating that 80% of the time, especially if you have a goal in mind. But, it’s okay to splurge sometimes and go out with friends. The goal here is not to commit social suicide (Mean Girls, anyone?) Feel comfortable with turning down the invitation sometimes to keep working on you.
    • Just keep in mind, if you meal prep and don’t eat any of the food that you cooked, you are basically throwing your money in the trash.
      • If this is you, just know that I have a perfectly good garbage can at my house that you are welcome to pitch your money into.

 

Example Meal Prep Weekly Plan:

Monday:

  • Breakfast: Siggi’s Yogurt bowl with granola & fruit
  • Lunch: Ranch chicken with red potatoes and Carrots. Side of broccoli.
  • Dinner: Dinner at local restaurant (they have great Monday night specials). Salad with no bread and dressing on side

Tuesday:

  • Breakfast: Two eggs whites and a piece of toast with avocado and banana
  • Lunch: Taco-seasoned ground turkey on salad with all favorite taco toppings. Add extra salsa. Skip the extra cheese and sour cream. Looking for creaminess? Add guac.
  • Dinner: Ranch chicken with red potatoes and Carrots. Side of broccoli.

Wednesday:

  • Breakfast:  Siggi’s Yogurt bowl with granola & fruit
  • Lunch: Low-carb wrap with rotisserie chicken, feta cheese, tomatoes, cucumbers, and Greek dressing. Add kalmata olives if you’re feeling fancy.
  • Dinner: Taco Salad. Add a few Siete chips crushed on top if you are needing some crunch!

Thursday:

  • Breakfast: Scrambled egg whites on top of one piece of toast with a banana
  • Lunch: Low carb wrap with rotisserie chicken, buffalo sauce, and spinach. Add laughing cow spreadable cheese for creaminess and extra flavor
  • Dinner: Greek salad topped with chicken, tomatoes, olive, cucumbers, feta and dressing. Tessemae’s Green Goddess is perfect for these salads!

Friday:

  • Breakfast: Quick Breakfast Sandwich: EVOL. brand is my fave! or a protein bar with fruit
  • Lunch:  I throw everything I’ve got left over in a wrap or on top of a salad. I like to clear out whatever I’ve got left over and avoid wasting it.
  • Dinner: Typically out with friends, but with a conscious decision like Fajitas or a salad with dressing on the side.
  • Fourth Meal: Taco Bell. It’s always Taco Bell.

Saturday:

  • Breakfast: Honestly, I’m not up early enough for breakfasts on Saturdays….
  • Lunch: Cheat Meal #1
  • Dinner: Cheat Meal #2

Sunday :

  • Breakfast: Still sleeping… it’s hard being a young adult out here people..
  • Lunch: Something quick like Subway or whatever I’ve got around the house
  • Dinner: Whatever I meal prepped for lunch on Monday

Happy prepping, everybody! Please don’t hesitate to reach out to me with any questions. I would be happy to look over your meal plan for the week or even help you create an original one until you are more comfortable making one yourself!

-O

Rise & Shine, Grumpy.

Mornings are hands down my least favorite part of the day. I mean I just hate them. I’m sleepy and grumpy. Which is the worst combo, aside from being hangry. The room is cold, the bed is warm, there isn’t a single place more comfortable. I have snoozed my alarm 15 times and now I’m just in a bad mood. I need to get up and get ready, find breakfast, take the dog out, pack lunch. It’s just a lot to ask of a person at 5:45AM. But, sadly enough, the world doesn’t stop in the morning for me to get it together.

While mornings kind of suck (I’m just being honest), they really do set the tone for the entire day. I know you know this just as well as I do, that if something bad happens in the morning you automatically go drama mode and complain that the whole day is ruined. “My shirt is wrinkled. Here we go again. Such a Monday. Ready for the weekend. When can I go back to bed?” You put it on snapchat with the puppy dog filter hoping that it will somehow redeem the day that you consider to be ruined at 7:15am. We all do it. Sometimes a little sympathy is nice.

I’ve had to (forcefully) change my mentality about mornings. Some mornings I still sink into the dramatic pit of despair, but for the most part this change has made a HUGE difference. I want to challenge you to find a morning that works for you. The things that I do in the morning actually help me to have a better day and a more successful start to get one step closer to my goals. I’m never gonna be all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed but I do want to share what makes up my morning routine.

  • Wake Up Early
    • Waking up with 17 minutes until you have to leave for work isn’t ideal. It’s just a cluster at that point. Give yourself enough time to wake-up and do what you need to do to get ready in the morning. If something not-ideal happens in the am, you’re better able to bounce back from that if you have some time to adjust.
    • Winter cheat: I always keep pants/sweatshirt at the foot of my bed for myself whenever I wake up. I know I will be freezing and the bed will be so warm that I never want to get up. If I can transition straight into warm clothes it helps.
    • Waking up early gives you a few moments to have some quiet time. I like to refer to this as time to “get your mind right.” Whether this looks like time to pray, meditate, give yourself a pep-talk, or mindlessly scroll through Instagram… it gives you a little time to yourself. Because as all of us adults know, once your feet hit that floor, there is no more “me time.”
  • Shower
    • I just never quite feel awake until I shower. But, I know many people shower at night. Whatever floats your boat. Just do whatever makes you feel the best and ready to tackle the day. Going through your daily routine un-showered is only okay when you’re in college and it’s finals week. Personal hygiene is key, people.
  • Actually Get Ready
    • Once again, this is whatever version you consider to be “ready.” Just be sure that you do whatever that is. I like to shower, fix my hair, and put on make-up. Because that’s when I feel my best and most successful. You need to start every day out feeling the best that you can.
  • Pack a gym bag
    • This can easily be done the night before. The key to the gym bag (which we have previously discussed) is that it’s reducing the need for excuses. You don’t have to come home and see your bed. Or your dog. Or the TV. The clothes are in the car and you can go straight to your workout. This is a perfect example how the choices you make in the morning set you up for success all day.
  • Pack Food for the Day
    • We are not living in the 1700s. You cannot just walk around and find some fresh fruits or veggies growing freely for your snacking pleasures. But, you can find a McDonald’s. If you have health goals, you have to pack food for the day. You’re gonna need breakfast, lunch, and snacks. Plan accordingly. Or pack the night before. Just remember to grab it out of the fridge (speaking from lots and lots of experience.)
  • Eating in the AM
    • THIS IS THE MOST IMPORTANT.
    • Whenever you’re getting ready at home, you never seem hungry. But, it’s like as soon as you sit down at work an animal comes alive inside of you and you are ravenous. I always make a promise to myself, regardless of where I am or what I’m doing, that my breakfast will be healthy. Even if it’s something as simple as a banana and a protein bar. Eating a healthy breakfast helps to create the mindset that all of your food for the day will be healthy. If you start it off with some greasy, it’s over with. You might as well get chicken nuggets.
    • I also fill up my water bottle again (I try to finish 32 ounces while I’m getting ready) and make some coffee. I’ve reached the age where coffee is a must.
  • Take Care of the Small Things
    • For example, I know I need to wake-up five extra minutes because I need to take the dog out. Or if there are a few dishes in the sink, go ahead and put those away. When you wake up in a fury like a speed demon, these little things get pushed aside. Take the time to do what you need to do. Be responsible.
  • Get to work early
    • Even if it’s only five minutes early. It gives you a moment to get settled. Everyone is going to come tearing in at 8:01. You’re all overwhelmed and tired and not quite ready to tackle another day. But, if you can just get five minutes of quiet to get settled, I promise that your day will be better and you’ll be better equipped to deal with it.
  • Stop being dramatic
    • I really struggle with this one. I am a bonafide drama queen. I embrace it. I mean we are all about honesty here right? Staying positive is difficult for me in the mornings, because I can easily get swept into the “whole day is ruined” mentality. Stop that. It’s too much. If something bad happens in the morning you don’t have to blow the whole day off. Brush it off and keep moving. Amazing things can happen on a day that started out with oversleeping and spilled coffee.

Mornings may not be your best friend. I mean mornings are like my fourth cousin by marriage. But, we still have to deal with them. Just by making small changes, it can make a huge difference. I like to set my tone for the day as soon as my feet hit the floor. I know myself and if my day starts out terribly and in a rush, I am going to spend the rest of the day trying to make up for it and ultimately getting caught up in a whirlwind. Take back your mornings and let them know who’s boss.

PSA: You’re the boss.

-O

 

Choose to Stand

 

Any adult would agree that a big part of life is getting told what to do. I mean you get it from every angle. Commercials telling you what to buy, parents telling you what to clean, teachers telling you what to read, friends telling you who to date. That’s just life. People will always be telling you what they think you should do. More times than not, they are doing that because they love you and want you to make the best decision. Okay so Herbal Essences probably doesn’t love you, they just want you to buy the shampoo, but you get the point. 

We also live in a society that is more comfortable telling you to sit down than encouraging you to stand up. One of the most important things that you can do in life is to stand up for what you believe in. But, that doesn’t come without it’s challenges. You are going to run into many people that don’t agree with you or think you should stand for something else. You will experience people that stand a little bit taller than you. What matters is that you make the choice to never sit down. 

Stand for Yourself 

You are a force to be reckoned with. Powerful & capable of anything. There are going to be days where you feel like you are the only person standing for you. And that’s okay, because there are going to be days where you feel like the whole city is standing for you. But, you have to be willing to keep standing when you feel like you are standing alone. No one knows you quite like you do, so if you know that something isn’t right don’t do it. At the end of the day, you have to live with the decisions that you make, so make decisions that make you proud. Make a choice to fight for you. 

“I’m not going to do it. I’m not going to wish for a perfect life. the things that knock you down in life are tests, forcing you to make a choice between giving in and remaining on the ground or wiping the dirt off and standing up even taller than you did before you were knocked down. I’m choosing to stand up taller. I’ll probably get knocked down a few more times before this life is through with me, but I can guarantee you I’ll never stay on the ground.” ― Colleen HooverHopeless

Stand for What You Love 

I spend a lot of my time at work communicating and helping high school students. For the most part, they are cookie cutters of each other. They just want to blend into the crowd, which is to be expected based on their age. But, a few weeks ago, a young man came up to me and blatantly shared that he didn’t fit in and he wanted to find a school that didn’t make him feel “weird.” He was only 15 years old, but he knew what he liked and he didn’t want to change just to fit in with his other classmates. He was okay with not being a part of the popular opinion. 

There’s a huge lesson to be learned from him. Don’t let people make you feel dumb for standing up for what you love. Embrace what you love and what ultimately makes you, you. It is easy for people to look at something that you love and make you feel insignificant if they don’t love it too. Just realize that they aren’t making that choice, you are. On the flip side, remember that you don’t get to make someone feel like less of a person based on what they stand for. It’s okay to stand for something that’s different. 

“You have to develop ways so that you can take up for yourself, and then you take up for someone else. And so sooner or later, you have enough courage to really stand up for the human race and say, ‘I’m a representative.'” -Maya Angelou

I want to challenge you to find something you believe in, whatever or whoever that may be, and make a choice to stand up for it. I made a choice a year ago to stand up for myself and get healthy. I made a choice to go into a career where I get to stand up for equal education. I make the choice everyday to stand up for women. I make the choice to stand up for equality and people who cannot stand for themselves. And one thing that I can promise I will never do is sit down. Come on, let’s stand together. 

-O