Creating a Home Gym

I know this is a statement of the obvious, but I am not a doctor, dietician, or nutritionist.  As always, you should do your own research and consult with your doctor before embarking on a change in diet, exercise, etc.

It doesn’t take much to carve out a home gym. All you need is a small space and a well thought out routine to follow. Don’t stress or limit yourself on where. I’ve set up areas from my living room, to a main hallway in a condo, a back patio in warmer weather, my hotel room when traveling, and even in a garage. The house I live in now has offered up the opportunity to build an actual “gym” in a designated room, however, I know based on the equipment I have chosen it can travel and be set up anywhere in the world in any sized home, garage, or apartment.

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I am asked by friends and family what I really gravitate towards when choosing items for my personal gym and that is super simple to answer; multi functional with minimal (size/space) impact. If you are just starting out or reassessing what your home gym has the five pieces below should be something you’ll carry for the rest of your life. I’ve never regretted these purchases and when push came to shove all fit into a rubbermaid tote for easy storage.

Do I have a gym equipment wish list this year? Sure.  I hope to add a weight bench (husband request) and a TRX band system in the future. Equipment I’ll be updating due to safety, resistance bands; both handle and loops. Items that are meant to hold tension made of rubber like materials should always be replaced every couple of years to keep from injury due to snapping.


Equipment


One | Bosu Ball

What are the benefits of a Bosu Ball? Hands down its versatility. It can be used both flat side down and up. The domed side is best known for aerobic exercise and athletic drills. Flip the domed side down and you have the perfect balance trainer. Bosu forces the user to engage more muscles in order to stabilize themselves giving a more over all body experience.

What kind of workouts can you use a bosu? Here’s a list of basic moves that a bosu ball can elevate to the next level:

Lunges
Squats / Squat Jumps
Burpees
Squats with over head press
Push ups / Planks
Plyometric moves

Two | Free Weights

Labeled as one of the most versatile and efficient pieces of gym equipment, free weights allow your body to move through all three planes of motion. They are not fixed to a certain piece of equipment making it easy to simulate everyday movement. For example bicep Curls can take on the same workout as lifting groceries from your car into your house. By engaging several muscle groups to gain stability, using free weights help with balance, coordination, and torch serious calories.

I use to work with individual free weight sets from 5-25 lbs each, however, my husband saw that storing these sets were becoming harder as I became stronger, so he bought the Bowflex SelectTech 552. The verdict? I’m in love! In just two hand held weights I can lift anywhere from 5 lbs to 52.5 by clicking the lock into place and never have to compromise space. If you are just starting out you don’t need such a large range, however, save your floors and invest in sets wrapped in neoprene.

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Three | Resistance Bands

Ever gone on vacation just to realize the hotel has no gym or a full gym *raises hand*? Pack a lightweight resistance band and get a great 15-30 minute workout in your room. The benefits don’t just end at easy transportation; they are cost-effective, adaptable for all fitness levels, add resistance to everyday exercises, can give a whole body total workout, save on storage space, easy to use alone, and can easily be combined with other equipment.

Four | Yoga Mat

Ever worked out on the floor with sweaty hands and feet? The outcome is not pretty as you slip and slide. The benefits of a yoga mat range from adding stability, comfort, protects joints from falls as well as muscles from straining, and defines the space you will be working in.

Need a fairly inexpensive but well made mat? Check out Incline on Amazon. I own the Carrara Marble print but it was so hard to choose! The tropical palm leaf, geometric, and ombre were definitely on my list. Have some money to splurge? I love the Yoga Zeal Mat, and so do other yogis because Nordstrom can barely keep them in stock!

Five | Foam Roller

Weight lifter? Runner? They already know how amazing foam rolling can be. I just recently bought my first foam roller before starting bootcamp with much skepticism on it really helping soreness. Without rolling it took me two to three days to recover. Foam rolling cut it down to maybe a day. I am a total believer, and you will be too. Rolling can break up scar tissue, prevents injury, speeds up recovery, improves mobility and flexibility, removes that nasty lactic acid which brings on soreness, saves you money on the need for a sports massage, and can even be used as a piece of exercise equipment.

The trick is to roll for 60 seconds at a slow pace, always moving. Spending too much time in one position puts extreme pressure on that spot creating an environment for injury by hitting a nerve or damaging tissue.


Workouts


Plank

In my opinion your core is one of the most important muscles to your body. A weak core can bring back and joint pain. By planking you can improve your balance and posture, improve mood, flexibility, and give you a toned belly when performed while eating a balanced diet. You’ll need minimal if no equipment, just a Yoga Mat, to prevent injury on smooth floors. I also love the number of different workouts that you can do just by being in the planking position. Try these 10 different workouts to challenge, strengthen, and tighten your core.

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Resistance Band Run (grab a partner)

This is a bootcamp move and one of my favorites. Have your partner position themselves in a sitting wall squat against a wall. Wrap the band around your waist while your partner holds the handles. Don’t forget to time yourself (1 minute) run for 50 seconds while pulling forward on the resistance band. In the last 10 seconds sprint as fast as you can running on the balls of your feet to propel you forward. Switch up to complete three 1 minutes sets each.

Squats + Lunges

Suffer from joint and back pain? If you need a workout that targets the lower half of your body with little bodily stress you have to add in squats and lunges. There is a difference; lunges mimic basic walking or running patterns so lunges are perfect for runners looking to improve performance. Lunges can help “even out” the muscular imbalances in your legs (i.e. strengthening the weaker side) and help you become stronger when performing other workouts like squats.

Squats also mimic an everyday movement; sitting down and getting up. Squats build leg strength and muscles while slight modifications to the movement or stance can work out hamstrings and quads. Try having a wider stance, this will put more emphasis on inner thigh muscles and abductors. Front squats target your core muscles because you have to engage your core for stability. Want a great backside? Squats target the butt muscles helping shape and form. Try the popular 30 day squat challenge to reach leg and butt goals.

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Jog/Run

Jogging/Running doesn’t have to be long distances. Jogging can be performed to bring down heart rate slowly and Running sprints can elevate heart rate in a HIIT workout. It’s easy to perform this exercise by running back and forth in a hallway, around a room, and of course outside. No equipment needed.

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Golden Coconut Lentil Soup

There is a meme floating around the internet about the excitement you feel when you find all the ingredients to make an impromptu meal. I doubled that excitement when I could use ingredients from other meals. I had cooked lentils leftover when I made the Jalapeno Lentil Turkey Meatloaf from The Balanced Life Cookbook, I always make extra rice so I mixed Basmati with a quick white rice, and four random pieces of chicken left over from a sheet pan meal the night before. Thanks to this recipe it was dinner magic!

This indian inspired dish is so filling you only need to add a simple side of garlic naan. Reheating leftovers is easy and by omitting the chicken, this soup quickly becomes a vegetarian option.

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Ingredients


1 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 Yellow Onion, diced
2 Cloves Garlic, minced
4 Boneless Skinless Chicken Breast, diced
1/2 Tbsp Ginger (or 1 Tbsp/1 inch fresh)
1/2 Tbsp. Ground Turmeric
Pinch Red Pepper Flakes
2 Carrots, peeled and diced
1/2 lb lentils (about 1 Cup)
4 Cups Water
13.5 oz Can Coconut Milk
1/2 Tbsp Salt (more to taste)
Pepper (to taste)

Toppings (optional)

Toasted Coconut Flakes
Sliced Jalapeños
Fresh Cilantro
2 Cups Cooked Jasmine Rice


How To


In a dutch oven add olive oil, diced chicken, and salt + pepper to taste. Cook until chicken is no longer pink. Once cooked add to a bowl and set aside.

In same dutch oven add olive oil, diced onion, minced garlic, diced carrots, and ginger. Saute until soft and transparent.

Add the turmeric and red pepper flakes to the pot and saute for a minute more. Add the lentils and 4 Cups of water. Bring to a boil over high heat until bubbling. Lower heat a simmer and place lid over dutch oven for 20 minutes.

Toast the Coconut Flakes over medium-low heat in a small skillet with coconut oil. Stir continuously until flakes are a golden brown (1-3 minutes). Remove flakes from skillet immediately to stop toasting process and keep from burning.

After 20 minutes, if lentils are soft and broken down, add coconut milk. Use an Immersion blender to blend soup leaving no chunky bits. Once blended to smooth consistency add salt, 1/2 tsp at a time. Also add more red pepper flakes if you like your soup spicy. After seasoned to taste add in diced chicken and stir.

To serve add 1 Cup of rice to your bowl. Ladle soup and top with fresh chopped cilantro, toasted coconut, and/or sliced jalapeño.

Recipe adapted from Budget Bytes Blog

The NO-BUY Challenge

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This is the month of no-buy. After a crazy generous holiday last month my wallet is crying and my house is overflowing so I thought, what better way to reflect on my finances, use what I have, and reassess my upcoming budget then now? It’s like a financial reset. Yeah, I like that. Sounds all official.

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So what exactly does a no-buy challenge look like? For the next 31 days I will be only buying what I need to survive, which is pretty much gas, minimal food, and one or two nights out (like a date night and a supper club event with my friends). No starbucks, no fresh flowers, no clothes, no toiletries, nothing.

Will this be hard?
You betcha.
It’s going to suck.
Have you met me? I live to shop.

I might cry or freeze my credit cards in a block of ice to keep from spending. There will be moments I rock back and forth singing eye of the tiger as the new Hermes spring collection comes out but I am determined to stick to it and you can too. It’s only 31 days… right? RIGHT? Oh gosh what am I getting myself into.

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The Rules


1.Pre-planning is your friend.
Sit down and review what your expenses are versus your “fun money”. This will open your eyes to habits you never knew you had. You might discover a majority of extra income goes to a make-up collection you never knew existed or that you love to eat out. It’s these “shocking discoveries” that you want to get ahold of in the coming months challenge.

2.Locate where your surplus is.
I currently discovered that I have an insane surplus of mayonnaise and pasta sauce in my pantry. I also have a hard time following through with beauty products. I recently came to terms with my unintentional collection of half used shampoo and conditioner bottles, random but the amount is mind blowing. Take note that you are fully stocked in these areas and resist the urge to buy!

3.Create lists of item you can buy and those that you can’t.
What’s on my can buy? Food, Gas, and two nights out (because these were pre planned)
What can I not? Everything else

4.Create a savings goal.
What are you going to do at the end of the month with all that money? Save it. My savings goal this year is to save $4,000 for my week trip to England, Ireland, and Scotland. Give your money plans, it will make each dollar count.

5.Make a wish list.
When the month is over you can decide what to do with all those almost impulse purchases. You’ll either still want it or realize what was important at the time is unnecessary now.

6. Create a clutter free space.
Clean out your house in a spring cleaning fashion. Donate what isn’t needed, organize what you use the most, and adopt the waste not want not attitude when you have to haul the trash bags to the recycle center (guilty).

7. Unsubscribe.
All those retailer emails you get. Just unsubscribe. I’ll wait.

8. Avoid the stores.
That includes online retail. Stay away you won’t need the temptation. If you do come across a lovely item add it to the wish list mentioned in point #5.

9. Your attitude means everything.
Don’t say: “I can’t”
Do say: “I don’t need”

10. Preplan for success.
When you are prepared the likelihood of grabbing a pizza for dinner on the way home or an iced coffee on the way to work will be slim. Take a few extra minutes to pack your own home brew, pre plan your weeks meals on Sunday night. Grocery shop like you are on a mission.


Life Happens


Just remember, life happens. An unexpected dentist visit or bill will pop up. Don’t dispair because you haven’t lost the challenge you are just living life. For example: I have a record player on order and when it comes in, thanks to the holidays, it will be after January 1st. I added that expense to my budget. Doesn’t mean I didn’t accomplish my financial goals, just means I gave myself grace. Give yourself the small grace too. Just keep swimming.

5 Favorite Health Apps for Your Phone

Nine whole days into 2018… I can’t believe it! We are already starting the second week. I’ve been pretty good at keeping up with my fitness and food goals. Added in vitamins and supplements that I felt helped with health concerns. I even took my first Bootcamp class and spent the next 48 hours on a foam roller. So far so good in my book!

This week I sat down and really re-assessed the health apps that were taking up space on my phone. What did I use? What did I need to get rid of? What apps worked best with my fitbit and apple watch? What is new for 2018? Below I listed 5 apps that are staying in my phone from 2017 and a few 2018 additions. I even included apps for the mamas, yoga for the little ones, an NFL app for running, and even a parent/kid personal trainer combo.

The only thing missing is you. Now get out there!

What health apps are you loving? It can be anything from recipes to grocery shopping, workouts, water trackers, cycling, even food journals. Share your favorites by commenting below!

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Photo Credit: Jonathan Smith

Favorite Workout App: Aaptiv


Pro:
2,500+ Workouts; Running, meditation, yoga, weights, and HIIT (just to name a few).

Personalized Trainers offered in categories like High Intensity, Technical, and fun + supportive meaning you’ll find exactly the right kind of motivation needed.

The ability to work out anytime, anywhere with or without equipment.

Con:
No Search Bar

Cannot use your own music. Each workout has its own personal music mix.

Cost:
$14.99 a month
$99.99 for a full year
$399.99 for a lifetime membership


Favorite Running App: Zombies Run +Zombies Run 5K


Pro:
The ability to immerse yourself in a fun storyline where you survive by running to escape zombies.

The use of your own personal music playlist mixed with the zombie story to guide your workout.

Collect supplies and other items to defend your colony and build up the base.

200+ missions means very little time to be bored.

App offers free iCloud backup and a running tracker.

Con:
You now have to pay for a membership that use to be free.

Cost:
Prices range from $1.99 to $24.99 for a pro membership


Favorite Food Tracker App: My Fitness Pal


Pro:
This app has been around since the creation of the iPhone and for good reason, its database offers users 6 million types of food to track.

Best feature is the bar code scanner to make adding nutrition facts faster.

With the free upgrade you are able to sync favorite apps allowing workout and food data to freely be shared and recorded.

Success… real people have lost real pounds recording their food and exercise using My Fitness Pal.

Con:
Not always quick. I tend to use apps like My Fitness Pal for foods that don’t have bar codes or nutrition facts (i.e. fruits, veggies, meat) but find it faster to just write my food journal down on paper.

Cost:
In App purchases to use all features can either be $9.99/month or $49.99/year


Favorite Sleep App: Sleep Pillow


Pro:
Lots of Ambient sounds and mixes to put you right to sleep.

The ability to create your own sound mix. That’s 300,000 possible combinations!

High quality sounds offered with a sleep timer option up to 12 hrs.

Con:
None

Cost:
Flat $2.99
Extra package add-ons $9.99 or $19.99


Favorite Water Tracker App: Plant Nanny


Pro:
A fun way to keep track of your water. When you drink the plant does too, keeping it alive and healthy. Think of it like a water Tamagotchi.

Water goals can be set and reminders when it’s been too long.

Cute graphics.

Con:
Few options or opportunities to unlock personalization like special plants, pots, and backgrounds. If you want the freedom to choose you have to pay.

The sometimes glitch, usually happens at updates, and occasionally gets fixed quickly.

Cost:
Little add-on costs for personalization if you want specific plants or planters


Apps You Should Check Out in 2018


Apps to help you choose the right foods:

Shopwell
Fooducate
Edo

Apps that make exercise a family affair:

Workouts for Parents + Kids: Sworkit  and Sworkit Kids
Yoga: Wuf Shanti Yoga Fun Machine
Running:  NFL Play 60

The 3 Blogs You Should Follow in 2018

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I don’t know if you are like me but I feel like tackling eating healthy and living healthy is something I learn more about everyday. The information published on the internet and in bookstores, even apps on your phone… it is completely overwhelming. I by no means am anything close to a professional on nutrition nor exercise but I can tell you exactly where to look. This year I am using the daily knowledge shared by three ladies who are living their best healthy life. You’ll want to get to know Laura Lea, Virginia, and Amanda. They will teach you everything you need to know about food, health, workouts, and organizing.

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Here’s What I Know


Laura Lea @ The Balanced Life :
It took a morning full of boredom to start randomly shopping on Amazon. It’s these boredom driven shopping trips that upset my husband the most when he gets the bank statement, however, I had a small mission to find a cookbook with realistic healthy recipes. Realistic meaning I could actually find the ingredients since items like cauliflower rice is difficult to find in Germany. While killing time I found The Balanced Life cookbook, added it to my cart, and waited for it to arrive in the mail. From the moment I opened the front cover I found myself excited to read all about Laura Lea. She is a Nashville girl and a certified nutritionist with a passion for educating everyone on living a healthy life. So I quickly liked her instagram and bookmarked her blog. From that moment on I have zero regret.

Why should you follow her? She is so smart when it comes to fueling your body and motivated to the point that it starts to rub off on you. She takes instastories while on walks, shares what she eats in a day, tells you what adventures being a cookbook author has led her on (hello, she cooked for the Bush twins), plus lets face it, this girl could make a piece of cardboard look tasty. If you are interested in a healthier “food” life you definitely need to check out Laura Lea.

The Laura Lea Balanced Life Cookbook
LL Balanced Instagram

Virginia @ Your Life Edit :
I adore Virginia. She is the kind of girl that you just want to hug around the neck every time you see her and she’d probably let you being that she is also a Nashville resident (I’m just guessing on the hugging part). I love reading her blog and watching her instastories because she teaches us the hardest lesson to learn about healthy lifestyles; How to navigate the grocery store. Trader Joes or Walmart doesn’t matter because Virginia is all about sharing the good stuff. Not to mention from time to time she’ll throw on a great workout, recipe, mom tip, or a great life hack but the food part is my absolute favorite. The motto is all about living simply and in the moment, something I can definitely get behind.

Your Life Edit Instagram

Amanda @ AmandaFredrickson :
The only two words you need to know… Fridge Forging. I live for Amanda, who I am convinced is a magical wizard chef, and her fridge forging recipes. Not a Nashville resident isn’t the only thing that makes her a wild card on this list, she is also not really related to health but the meals she prepares are wholesome, clean, and even given with vegan/vegetarian alternatives. Whatever she whips up on her instastories from the random items in her fridge gets turned into recipes on her blog, never mind the beautiful food photography. If you are looking to strike a balance with your health and how you eat consider liking everything Amanda Fredrickson.

Amanda Fredrickson Instagram

2017 Beauty Favorites

I made the mistake of not talking much about beauty in 2017 because there were some pretty amazing products. Luckily this round up faired well with only a handful of items sold out so there is still time to grab some great skincare, make up, nail colors, scents, and more. What did I reach for in 2017? In no particular order I have created a list with links. I didn’t explain why I loved the product but if you have extra dry, rosacea skin this list is for you! So what made your 2017 beauty favorites list? Anything not on my favorites list that you loved? Leave me a comment below. I always love great recommendations!

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Make Up


Eye Shadow Palette
1. Too Faced Just Peachy Matte
2. ABH Subculture
3. Coloured Raine Queen of Hearts
4. Huda Beauty Desert Dusk
5. Morphe x Jaclyn Hill Eyeshadow Palette

Mascara
1. L’Oréal Voluminous Lash Paradise
2. Lancôme Hypnôse Drama
3. Essence Volume Stylist 18h Lash Extension

Foundation
1. Urban Decay Naked Skin
2. Estée Lauder Double Wear
3. L’Oréal BB Cream
4. Bobbi Brown Extra Illuminating Moisture Balm

Lips
1. Too Faced Peach Kiss Moisture Matte in Sunday Funday
2. Pat McGrath Labs Matte Trance in 1995 (108) + Deep Void (210)
3. LipSense Liquid Lipstick

Concealer
1. Tarte Shape Tape
2. Urban Decay Naked Skin Weightless Complete Coverage 

Blush
1. Benefit Cosmetics GALifornia Blush

Highlighter
1. Anastasia Beverly Hills x Nicole Guerriero Highlighter Palette (Sold Out)
2. Pretty Vulgar Cosmetics Glimmers of BS Shimmering Swan Highlight
3. MAC Cosmetics x Robert Lee Morris Peach Blush
4. Becca Shimmering Skin Perfector Champagne + Prosecco Pop

Lashes
1. Cake Face Beauty x Kim Thai Lion Hearted
2. Lilly Lashes Tops and Bottoms by Kim Zolciak Biermann
3. One Two Cosmetics Magnetic Lashes (Not Sold to APO)


Skin Care


Face Wash
1. Cetaphil
2. Nerium Double Cleansing Botanical Face Wash
3. St. Ives Apricot Scrub
4. Revision Brightening Facial Wash

Mask
1. Revision Skincare Black Mask
2. Origins Active Charcoal Mask
3. Michael Todd Pumpkin Facial Mask
4. Herbivore Brightening Pineapple Enzyme + Gemstone Instant Glow Mask

Day + Night Cream
1. Nerium Age Defying Night Cream
2. Embryolisse Lait Creme Concentre
3. Origins Ginzing

Make Up Remover
1. Bioderma Sensible H2O Micellar Water
2. Neutrogena Make Up Remover Wipes
3. L’Oréal Micellar Water


Body


Self Tanning Lotion
1. Jergens Natural Glow Instant Sun Moisturizing Mousse 
2. Jergens Natural Glow Daily Moisturizer
3. Loving Tan Deluxe Bronzing Mousse

Body Lotion
1. Honest Company Purely Simple Hypoallergenic Face and Body Lotion
2. L’Occitane Shea Butter Ultra Rich Body Cream
3. Herbivore Jasmine Glowing Hydration Body Oil

Shaving
1. Coconut Oil
2. Shaveworks The Cool Fix


Hair


Tools
1. Olivia Garden Finger Brush (Large)
2. Teleties in Champagne Gold
3. Dyson Supersonic Hair Dryer
4. Aquis Hair Towel
5. Drybar The Wrap Party Styling Wand

Shampoo
1. Ice Cream No-Yellow
2. Drybar On The Rocks Clarifying Charcoal
3. Bumble + Bumble Creme de Coco

Conditioner
1. Amika Bust Your Brass Cool Blonde Conditioner
2. Drybar Sake Bomb 
3. Verb Ghost

Products
1. Living Proof Dry Shampoo
2. Bumble + Bumble Hairdressers Oil
3. Bumble + Bumble Straight Blow Dry


Nail Colors


1. OPI: Funny Bunny

2. OPI: Taupeless Beach

3. Essie: Urban Jungle

4. Essie: Ballet Slippers


Scent


1. Dolce & Gabbana: Dolce Rosa Excelsa

2. Burberry: My Burberry Blush

3. Jo Malone: Peony + Blush Suede

4. Balenciaga Paris Rosabotanica


Beauty Tools


1.Color Switch by Vera Mona Brush Cleaner

2. Real Techniques Diamond Sponge

3. Cover FX Blending Brush

4. Cake + Bake by Vera Mona Liquid and Powder Make Up Sponge

5. Slip Silk Pillowcase 

6. Sigma Spa Brush Cleaning Mat

2018: Living My Best Life


2018 Motto


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Photo Credit: Jonathan Smith 
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Photo Credit: Jonathan Smith 

I can’t believe I am sitting here at my dining room table typing out a post about the coming year. Tomorrow it will be 2018 and I am ready for the fresh start. I have no resolutions but I do have a new motto for the next 365 days and a few lists written out… I plan to live my best life and I want to take y’all on the ride with me because you deserve to live your best life too, whatever that may look like.

What does my best life look like? Its learning from 2017’s mistakes; I need to get back to keeping a schedule, building relationships, taking control of my health before my health starts to take control of me. I want to take more photographs, laugh big, and love even bigger. I am flushing the negativity to make room for joy, planning adventures, and pushing myself to be braver. It’s all about being kinder to myself, accepting complements, believing in me, and above all else taking a moment, a good long pause to live in the here and now. I want to be more present in everyday life.

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Photo Credit: Jonathan Smith 

Some days I won’t be able to keep up because life will get hard, I will beat myself up, but this is not a resolution, it is a lifestyle change and I plan to give myself the grace to make mistakes. I will lose friends, I am prepared for that fact, but I am ready to embrace the new. To put my energy in those who invest in me while I learn to re-invest in myself.


How to Live Your Best Life


1. Take Photographs
I know this could seem silly but the older I get the more I appreciate the value of a good photograph. Take the time to snap some shots in 2018. My favorite photos happen to be a quick snapshot I took everyday to remember exactly what I or my loved ones were doing. I am ashamed to admit I didn’t take enough for my liking last year so it is a goal of mine; take more photos. Moments of pride, love, adventure, happiness, all these things are worth remembering. It’s these photos that make life so sweet and help you live your very best life.

2. Laugh Unapologetically
Last year I let other people tell me that my happiness wasn’t genuine. I felt I had to dim my light to let others shine. In those moments, while the miserable people in my life were happy putting me down, I became miserable too. This year I will laugh unapologetically, big old belly laughs when something is truly funny. I will invest my happiness in myself and spread it to those around me. It is who I am and I am not sorry for it. Living my best life this year means being genuinely happy and passing that on.

3. Rid Yourself of Negativity
Save yourself the trouble and rid yourself of the negativity from 2017. Let the hurt go, forgive, burn the bridges of those who never cared for you, walk away from that volunteer job that doesn’t help you grow, cut that dead weight you thought was a friend, hush your critics. Don’t you dare do anything that doesn’t promote you living your absolute best life. It is in those moments where we rid ourselves of the negative that we open ourselves up to all the good.

4. Adopt a Healthy Lifestyle
Health is at the top of everyone’s resolutions list this year but after gaining enough weight to put me in a high risk category, living my best life meant getting ahold of my health in 2018. After being sick for the past three years I decided to start January 01 by joining our local gyms boot camp. I have purchased a new food journal to help me make better food choices, track the water I drink, and set up better nightly schedules to make sure I get 6-8 hours of sleep. I have been educating myself on exercises, muscle groups, the harm in sugary foods, creating goal lists, and even purchased a great pair of Bowflex weights to work out at home. This year I will have no excuses.

5. Appreciate the Brilliance Behind Routine
When I had my son 15 years ago the number one piece of advice I got was the importance of a child on a routine. It took work every day to maintain the same nap time, feeding, and playtime but a happy baby made those long days worth it. Why is that  so important? Because routine makes you feel accomplished, its stable, and its downright brilliant. A routine that carves out “you time” towards activities you enjoy, like an early morning devotional or a late evening run, won’t leave you feeling so guilty. I promise there are enough hours in the day. You’ll feel more accomplished with a cleaning schedule, more recharged taking time to yourself, and accountable for every hour of your day helping to eliminate unneeded stress.

6. Be a Joy Scout
You know what to do. Pass that daily joy you feel out to everyone, even a complete stranger. You’d be shocked to know how one smile, a quick hello, or a how-do-you-do could make everyone’s day. Stop and talk to the people who make your life easier by investing in others, start with the bagger at your grocery store and show your gratitude. Create a gratitude journal for yourself and right one thing a day that you are grateful for. Be motivated to pass on happiness and cheer everywhere you go! Lord knows we need more of it in the world today!

7. Be Kind to Yourself
The one line I heard a few times last year was exclaimed in the middle of phone conversations with a dear friend of 19 years; “I’m going to need for you to stop talking about my friend that way”. I was not kind to myself. Be kind to you. You are brilliant, beautiful, and you are here to contribute to the world. Give yourself grace, be understanding, but most importantly you have to be kind to you to live your best life.

8. Live in the Present
Sit back, close your eyes, breathe. Take it all in. Today is gonna be a great one! Go gett’em! You are about to live your best life! Enjoy every moment.

9. Go on Great Adventures
Remember when you use to slay all those dragons? You were living your best life and you should do that again. Go on great adventures. Try new foods, hike around your area, adventure is around every corner it doesn’t always mean a big-ticket to a far away country. But if you can purchase a big ticket for a big adventure I fully support doing that too.

10. Be Brave
I am not very brave when it comes to blogging. I am my own worst critic. This year I plan to open up more. In order to do that I must be brave. Brave with my privacy, brave in my writing, brave in my photography that I share. I never knew how scared I was until I put myself out there in the internet world. This year I know to live my best life I have to be braver, brave enough to make a connection with all of you. I want it the most and so I plan to do my best.


5 Lists Worth Making in 2018


1. A Bucket List
No laughing. Seriously, bucket lists are the perfect way to write things you’ve always wanted to accomplish in an unprofessional setting. They don’t have to be extravagant, add in events like running a marathon or finally seeing Adele in concert. Watching all the seasons to Hart of Dixie (guilty), joining a book club with the intention of reading the books, purging the items in your attic. There are really no rules to what you can’t conquer this year – write it down!

2. A Reading List
You should always have enjoyable goals and for me, reading is one of those activities. My list is long. Full of fiction, blogging inspiration, and biographies. I have even listed possibly joining our local book club (mentioned above) as something I would love to spend time doing. Reading enriches your life and can widen your social circle. I can’t think of a more positive list to create.

3. A Goals List
Life is all about goals both personally and professionally. The goal to lose weight, excel at work, bravely take on new adventures. A future goals list can help you stay on track and encourage making smart decisions all year-long. Short and Long terms goals are important to separate so consider making two checklists for this reason. Just don’t forget to update your goals list throughout the year as you mark things off, adjust others, and add as new goal arise.

4. A Travel List
Just like a reading list travel should be another important addition to your list making in 2018. Not only does travel enrich your life but it motivates you, giving something to work towards. Taking a trip to Greece? Wearing that swimsuit in the summer could motivate you in the gym. Paris dream vacation in your future? Paris could motivate you to take that French class you always wanted to. Divide your list into two with one being short trips and another longer adventures. I have already created my long list with a trip to England, Ireland, and Scotland in 2018. I can’t wait to wander! I can practically taste the fish and chips!

5. A Shopping List
A Shopping List? Really? I know it might seem strange but this is the year to reexamine your closet. I seriously don’t need one more white t-shirt in my closet in 2018. Start watching what pieces you wear on repeat, research capsule wardrobes or look into the cost for investing in classics. Armed with this knowledge, make a great shopping list to help you focus and keep away from impulse buys. Donate what you don’t wear, repurchase what needs to be replaced due to frequent wear, and grab up items that fit you. Proper fitting clothes can make you feel amazing! Don’t forget to secure a great tailor for the perfect personalized fit.


Living Your Best Life Wide Open


So what’s my plan to living my best life? Pretty simple, I plan to blog about it. January is going to take on my biggest struggle which is health so posts will be about my journey towards being healthy + balanced in my life. February will be 28 days of relationships. We’ll talk friendship, marriage, and family. All of the same components from the blog you love to follow will still be here; fashion, beauty, food, home decor, entertaining, do-it-yourself projects, we’ll even talk about hacks and money. Oh yeah I’m excited for the coming months! Thank you 2017 for all the lessons learned… Here’s to all of us Living Our Best Lives in 2018!