My Passion Project

When I started blogging it was part of a secret mission.  I know that sounds super cool and top secret, but it’s not.  It’s been a personal mission to find my passion.  I know this may not make sense to everyone reading this but I don’t want to just have a job or have a career.  I want to build something of my own.  I want to be proud of what I do.  I want my children to be proud of what I do.  It’s not enough for me to say I make “x” amount of dollars a year. I want to leave an imprint on this earth.  I want to impact others.  My blogging has forced me to look at myself from a lot of different angles.  And in order for my blog to be authentic, I’ve had to talk about the good, the bad and the ugly!  This has all been part of the master plan (insert weird creepy laugh here).

Over the past several months I’ve been thinking about all the things I wanted to be when I grew up and all of the things I’ve actually done. The first thing I remember wanting to be was a teacher.  I was always playing school with my grandma when I was a kid– she was the student and I was the teacher, obvi.  Over the course of my childhood and through my teenage years, teaching was always on my list.

At some point, I wanted to be a magazine editor (not sure if I ever told anyone about this one).   When I was a kid I used to love reading magazines.  You know, like Bop!  And then I graduated to Fitness and Self and eventually Cosmopolitan (because what 18-year old prude wasn’t reading Cosmo?!)  I did this weird thing when I read magazines– I literally read them from cover to cover.  I used to read EVERYTHING in the magazine. Even the credits in the beginning. Even the name of the Mac lipstick I’d never ever wear. EV-ER-Y-THING.  But my favorite part of the magazine was in the beginning.  It was the note from the editor, alongside a very beautiful picture of what I dreamed every magazine editor looked like.  I used to think to myself, I want to be an editor of a magazineI want to be the one to approve the themes of each edition and “yay” or “nay” the ideas for stories for each section.  (I literally decided exactly what the editor did even though I had nothing to base it off of…but that sounds kinda accurate, right?).

But that dream faded pretty quickly.

Next up: sportscaster (I even went to college for this one!).  Although I still love to play sports and be active, my desire to follow sports has dwindled over the years.  But back when I was 17 or 18 years old, I was a big Mets and Knicks fan.  I would watch SportsCenter on ESPN with my brother every morning before school and I thought it would be so awesome to be the next Linda Cohn.  But that, too, fell by the wayside within my first semester of college.  Obviously that dream wasn’t the dream.

Eventually I fell into (and yes, I use those words purposely) working with my dad.  My dad worked for MetLife for 29 years.  I began working at his office at the end of my second year of college.  I was the Recruiting Coordinator.  I was 20 years old and had no idea what I was doing, but the girl I replaced must’ve really sucked because they didn’t even let her stay to train me.  I did get some training from my direct manager, but she dealt more with marketing so the actual nitty gritty of my job I kinda had to learn on my own by making phone calls and asking a million questions.

Three years later my dad brought me over to his new company, National Life Group.  He needed an Office Manager and thought I’d be a great fit for the small agency.  He was right… I totally nailed it.  Haha, just kidding.  Okay, okay, I didn’t not nail it, but I had a ton to learn.  I was only 23 years old and even though both companies were life insurance companies there was a big difference between my roles at MetLife and National Life.  I was running the office at National Life.  Good thing I was getting my MBA, right?  (Ha, I laugh at that only because when it comes to running a business there is nothing better than on the job experience.  You can take all the classes in the world but it will never beat out work experience.)

There are parts of my job I love.  For instance, every day is different.  And, I get to work on all aspects of the business—accounting, financial reporting, marketing, training, recruiting and on-boarding, even a little IT stuff.  I’ve grown A LOT since day one.  I’m not sure I’d be where I am today if I hadn’t been given this opportunity at a very young age.  And I am grateful for the autonomy and flexibility I have.  Even though I don’t own the business, I run the business.  And I take that very seriously (like 98.5% of the time).

So why am I giving you my job history?  Relax, I’m getting there!

I have done quite a few things over the years—barista at Starbucks, Recruiting Coordinator and New Business Processor (at MetLife), Beachbody coach, pure barre instructor, Operations Manager (National Life) and blogging.  And I am truly grateful for everything I’ve done because a) I’ve had the balls to go outside my comfort zone and try new things and b) I’ve learned a lot about myself from each one!

I’ve learned where my strengths are.  I’ve learned where my weaknesses are (brings back memories of my business school days when we talked about SWOT analysis).  I drilled down and figured out what I liked about each of those jobs/opportunities and what I didn’t like.  Here’s a list of the things I love:

  • I love to talk (I know… SHOCKER)
  • I love to listen
  • I love to help people
  • I love to lead small groups and work one-on-one with people
  • I love running a business
  • I love writing and editing
  • I love fitness
  • I love to problem solve
  • I love goal setting
  • I love sharing my experiences
  • I love providing motivation and inspiration to others

It took me 14 years of being in the workforce (18 years old- 32 years old) to figure out what my actual dream job is but I finally figured it out!  I’m in the preliminary stages of my endeavor.  Meaning, I’m researching and doing a shit ton of homework.  But let’s just say it involves ALL of the things I love to do.  For now, I’m calling it my passion project.  But eventually, because I’m going to work real hard at it and be real good at it (don’t believe me, just watch), it’s going to be my baby.  The job that will allow me to create the lifestyle I want to live.  I’m not ready to officially announce anything because I know people will ask me a ton of questions that I just don’t have answers to yet.  So hold your horses! It’s coming!

And while I’m working on MY DREAM, I really encourage everyone reading this to step outside their comfort zone and try new things.  Even if those things aren’t the dream, it’ll at least take you one step closer to it.  And don’t be afraid to put yourself out there and actually own your dream.  Because guess what?  You’d be surprised how many people are actually cheering you on versus tearing you down. I’ve never EVER gotten any negative feedback from any one of my blog posts.  In fact, people are encouraging and supportive and rooting for me!  So why wouldn’t people do the same for you!!?!?  They would!! Trust me!  🙂

Food Philosophy 101

When someone says the word “diet” most of us automatically think of the secondary definition of diet—a special course of food to which one restricts oneself, either to lose weight or for medical reasons.  But today I’m talking about the primary definition, the kinds of food that a person habitually eats.  When I think of the statement “I’m going on a diet” the words that come to mind are restrictive, difficult, stressful, bland, boring, etc.

Don’t these statements sound much better?

“I’m working on improving my diet” OR  “I’m changing my diet to get more in line with my overall health goals.”

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I know I’ve mentioned this before, but I do not have a degree in nutrition.  I’ve done a good amount of research.  I’ve experimented with many different lifestyles (always for a short period of time because none of them are sustainable for me).  I’ve put in the work. Through all that I’ve come up with the three principles of my food philosophy:

  1. Eat as many of your calories as possible. Powders, vitamins, bars should be used as supplements (when necessary), not as your meal.  Eat real food!
  2. Nothing should be off limits—you can eat everything in moderation. Don’t be a no carb girl… nobody wants to go to an Italian restaurant with you.
  3. Eat in line with your goals.

Let’s dig into each one!

Eating Your Calories

I’ve gone through phases where I’ve had two shakes, two bars and a couple of small snacks per day and guess what?  I was starving (surprise, surprise, right?!).  During that phase I learned that eating as many of my calories as possible is not only physically more satisfying for me, but it’s mentally more satisfying too.  Sitting down and chewing on food takes waaaaaay longer than drinking a shake.  Your body has time to enjoy the eating process.  You chew, you enjoy the flavors, you swallow, you (should) take a second and breathe and then go back for another bite.  Eating becomes more of an event rather than “let me guzzle this shake so I can hustle to my next appointment/class/meeting” moment.

Plus I just think that it’s hard to get all the different vitamins and minerals you need from powders, shakes, bars, and pills.  That’s why they should be used as supplements, when appropriate, but not as a replacement for real food, ya hear?!

I currently use a pre-workout powder and one scoop of protein powder per day.  Snacks include carrots and hummus, string cheese and almonds, Greek yogurt, hard-boiled eggs, and fruit. I eat real food for lunch and dinner. I don’t take any vitamin or other supplement pills.

Everything in Moderation

I’m a big believer that if you like something, you should be able to enjoy eating it—in moderation.  I enjoy candy and ice cream.  And I can and do enjoy both of those things. The goal is to try to enjoy both of them in moderation (which I’m pretty good at with ice cream) but in the “needs improvement” category for candy.  But I’m better than I used to be so some progress is better than no progress! 😝

I’ve tried to cut out candy completely and all it’s done is make me want it more.  I know that sounds familiar to everyone reading this because it’s a common theme in dieting.  Restrict the bad foods until you cave and eat ALL THE BAD FOODS.  And you start and stop the cycle like a billion times until you either recognize you should be able to have that food in moderation and find a way to do that OR you forget trying to make healthier habits and continue down the same path you’ve been on. Most of us end up doing the latter.

I believe in well-balanced meals that include proteins, fats and yes, CARBOHYDRATES!  I secretly cringe when someone tells me they cut all fruits out of their diet because of the high sugar/carb content. Or they only eat 30g of carbs per day because they’re on a strict keto diet.  I only offer my opinion if it’s asked but I know, from trying so many different diets, that none of them are truly sustainable for the rest of your life.

Eat carbs—mostly good carbs.  But also free feel to indulge in the not-so-nutritious carbs every once in a while.  Going on severe diets is not only physically draining but constantly thinking about it makes it mentally exhausting, as well.

Eating In Line With Your Goals

I am not going to tell you not to focus on the number on the scale or losing a certain amount of pounds because I’ve been there before.  I know what it’s like to want to see a number. I get it. And I had to go through that phase before I moved onto the phase I’m in now which is really trying to fill my diet with healthy and nutritious food.  But just keep in mind as you’re going through the process, the end goal should be to improve your overall health.  The immediate goal might be to lose “x” amount of pounds so whatever you do to reach that goal should be things that are sustainable changes for the end result of living a healthier and more energized life.  Make sense?

Instead of focusing on what you want to achieve (i.e. lose 10 lbs or have a six pack), ask yourself this question:

What am I willing to change/improve in my diet and what results will it yield?

The idea here is to consider what you’re actually willing to do.  It goes back to the idea of wanting to want something but not actually wanting it enough to do anything about it.  So think about what you’re actually willing to change, improve, add to your diet, or eliminate from your diet.  Once you know what you’re willing to do and what results in will likely yield you can negotiate with yourself to find a good starting point.

And remember no change, or improvement, or addition, or elimination has to be 100% of the time.  Instead of 5 caramel macchiatos per week, go for 3.  And leave the rest of your diet and exercise regimen exactly the same.  You will be consuming less calories and you will lose weight.  It will be slow but it will be happen if you have patience.

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Once you know what your goals are and you truly believe you’re onboard with doing the things you need to do to get there, DO THEM.  And while you’re at it, do these things too:

  1. Be patient and kind with yourself. Lifestyle and dietary changes can be difficult.  Don’t beat yourself up for the ups and downs you will experience.  They are part of the journey. You’re not going to be your most healthy and fit self every season in your life.
  2. Focus on one thing at a time. When you make one small change it will make you feel good.  And that good feeling will ignite you to make another small change.  And so and so forth.
  3. Take your time. It’s not a race and it’s certainly not a competition.  It doesn’t matter if it takes you 6 weeks, 6 months or 6 years to get to where you want to be. Go at your own pace.

I would absolutely love to hear feedback on this topic because it is so so soooo important to me.  What’s your food philosophy?   😉

Be a Goal Getter!!!

It’s the new year and I don’t know about you, but I’m pretty excited for 2019.  I think it’s going to be a great year!  And the cool thing about that is I have COMPLETE CONTROL over making sure that happens.  I know it’s almost two weeks into January so I’m kinda late to the whole “goal setting, vision board, resolution” party but better late than never, right?

But I actually think it’s a good thing that I waited until now to post this.  We’re 10 days into the new year and I’m sure some of you have had moments of “I’m giving up” or “that’s too hard, what was I thinking?!” or “yeah, 2019 isn’t going to be my year.”   BUT, I beg of you not to throw in the towel yet.  First of all, you do not have to wait until January 1 or Monday to start new habits.  But if you decided that January 1 was your time, awesome.  If you decide it’s tomorrow, you go girl!

I don’t have an advanced degree in goal setting (haha), nor do I consider myself an expert.  But I do have to say that I’m pretty good at getting things done when I say I’m going to do them.  Not 100% of the time.  Not even 90% of the time.  But my track record of committing to things and achieving goals is at the very least decent.  Most of the things I’ve learned about goal setting, planning, etc. came from trial and error.  Other tidbits come from podcasts I’ve listened to or books I’ve read.  And of course, I learn from talking to others about what they do that works/doesn’t work for them.

Here are four things I personally do when I’m setting goals (and I encourage you to try them too!):

1. Write ’em down. Come on, people!  This is the easiest one!  The first step is coming up with the goal in your head.  The second is WRITING IT DOWN.  And so many people never even get there!  And be specific when you write down your goal!  Don’t be vague- “I want to eat healthier.”  What does that actually mean?!  Start off with a broad statement like that, but then drill down to what you actually want to accomplish.  For instance, “I want to eat healthier” turns into:

“I want to incorporate more greens into my diet by making sure I have at least 2 servings of greens 6 out of 7 days of the week.  My greens will include kale, spinach, broccoli, green beans, asparagus, and brussel sprouts.”

Writing down concrete, specific goals is going to increase the chances that you’ll stick with the goal.  How do I know this? I don’t know, it sounds obvious and it works for me.  Few more examples, shall we?

“I want to eat healthier” vs. “I am going to bring my lunch to work 4/5 days of the week.  That lunch will include a lean protein, a whole grain, and vegetables.”
“I want to get fit.” vs. “I am going to sign up for a membership to XYZ gym and go 4 days/week. I will do 20 minutes of cardio and 30 minutes of weight training most days.”
“I want to be better with money.” vs. “I set a reminder in my calendar for the 30th of each month. At that time if I have excess funds left in my bank account I am going put half of it towards my credit card debt/student loan and the other half in my savings account.”
“I want to have a better relationship with my mom/dad/brother/sister” vs. “I am going to call my dad twice a week so we can catch up more often.”

 

2. Don’t make goals for the sake of making goals. I know the new year is a good opportunity to jump on the “I’m going to get healthy/get fit/lose weight” bandwagon, but if you’re not truly committed to reaching a goal, don’t bother.  And I don’t say that to sound like a jerk, I’m saying it because it might just not be your time to tackle that goal (whatever it is).  Work on the things that are important to you now. And if those things change in 6 days, 6 weeks or 6 months from now, that’s fine.  Plus, when you don’t achieve that goal that you weren’t actually committed to, you feel like a failure.  And there’s just no need for that because you’re probably doing a million other things simultaneously and kicking butt at them.  And you’re also never a failure.  Just do you, girl.  DO YOU when the time is right FOR YOU!

3. Set obnoxiously large goals. This is another cute little trick I learned over the years that I am putting my own cute little spin on.  There’s what I call achievable goals and reach goals.  Achievable goals are goals that are, duh, achievable!  Meaning, you know you can do it.  So whether it’s saying I’m going to run 3 races this year (when your ran 2 last year) or I’m going to increase my sales by 5%, these are goals that achievable… or very, very modest goals.

Reach goals are exactly what they sound like too!  They are going to require you to plan the work and work the plan.  They are going to be extremely tough to accomplish.  But that’s the point.  Setting goals that are achievable is basically giving yourself a break.  But setting reeeeaaach goals is like pushing yourself to 95% of your fastest pace.  And even if you only get to 80%, or 85%, or 90%, it’s still way more than your achievable goal that only brought you to about 50% of your fastest pace.  You have to PUSH YOURSELF!

Personal example… last year I ran 0 races, completed 1 Beachbody program and averaged about 10 classes per month at pure barre.  A little weak for me.  This year’s goals?!  Eeek, I’m nervous at the thought of them, but here goes:

  1. Run 1 5K
  2. Run 1 10k or 15k
  3. Run 1 ½ Marathon
  4. Run a Spartan Race
  5. Take 15 classes/month at pure barre
  6. Complete Transform20 (Beachbody program)
  7. Do a MF pull-up

That’s a shit ton of stuff… like for real.  How did I come up with these 7 things?  I figured out what I can pretty easily do (my achievable goal) and wrote it down.  And then thought about what I reeeaallly want to accomplish and wrote it down.  Unless something crazy happens, I can guarantee that I’ll do more than my achievable goal.  I might not do my reach goal… but damn!, it would still be amazing if I did 5 or 6 of those things, right?

fitness goals

4. Don’t take on too much at once. That sounds like a load of bull when I just listed 7 things I want to accomplish (and those are just my fitness goals).  But hear me out.  Those 7 goals are not going to be worked on simultaneously.  For example, I’m not even thinking about the ½ marathon yet.  That’s not something I’m doing until the fall most likely.  Right now I’m focused on making sure I get my 15 classes in at pure barre, adding in one more day of running, and starting Transform20 next week.

I’m not saying you can’t work on doing a two or three things at the same time… I’m just saying you can’t expect yourself to put 110% effort into 6 or 7 different things.  There’s not enough time in the day or pre-workout (or coffee for you normal folk) in the world to do that.  Just focus on the highest priorities RIGHT NOW and move on, or take on more, when you’re ready.

I hope you found this to be helpful and apply some of these principals when you are setting your goals.  Remember: be specific, write them down, only commit to what is really important, go for the gusto and don’t overload yourself.

#getitgirl

Wow, it’s been a while.  At least a month.  Part of the reason I have been hesitant to write has been because I wanted to write and share this particular post before I moved on.  This has been a huge year of personal growth for me.  The way it started and the way it ended couldn’t be any more different.  And while it was the hardest year of my life in a lot of ways, it was actually the best year in a lot of ways too.

I don’t really even know how to start this so I guess I’ll start with something simple:  my husband and I are getting divorced.  And before you start with the “I’m so sorry” spiel, know this:  It’s OK.  We’re OK.  The kids are OK.  The reason I’m sharing this is because it’s part of my journey.  My family life journey, my personal growth journey and even my fitness journey.  And like I said in my very first blog post, I think it’s important to share the hard things.  Especially since social media allows us to share the parts of our lives that we’re happy of, proud of, excited about, etc.  We hide all the things we don’t want people to see or know about us.  Even I do that at times.

I’m not going to go into details about what happened between me and Randy because there are things that in spite of caring about us or knowing us, only he and I will understand.  But I do want to provide some context.  Randy and I met when I was in 9th grade and he was in 12th grade.  I was 15 years old at the time… so you do the math, he’s been in my life longer than he hasn’t been.  We didn’t start dating until a few years later when I was 19 and he was 22.  And the people we were at 19 and 22 are very different than the people we are today.  The things that were important to both of us in relationships back when we were “kids” are different than today as “adults.”

But one of the things I think Randy and I have always had in common is the fact that we both have/had a lot of traditional values.  We were both brought up thinking that you meet someone, get engaged, buy a home, get married, start your family and DUH, live happily ever after…

I can only speak for myself here but I had a hard time coming to terms that Randy and I weren’t meant to be married anymore.  It was a hard pill to swallow after doing everything the “right” way.  I have always been that person—the one who does the right thing, follows the rules, makes logical and smart decisions.  I want people to like me.  And I absolutely hate disappointing people—especially my parents.

But you wanna know a secret?  I actually like coloring outside the lines once in a while.  I like to dance with danger just a bit.  And I’m a very emotional person that is perfectly OK with making gut decisions because at one point it was what I wanted.  And for the first time in my entire life, I don’t have a plan.  Or at least a 100% clear vision of what my future is going to look like.  And I’m learning to be OK with that.

So what does this all mean?  It means that while I still don’t like to disappoint people and I of course, want people to like me, I need to be true to myself.  Instead of being a shell of who I am, I need to embrace every part of who I am.  Even the part that makes dumb decisions, flies off the handle at stupid things, and is OK with people judging me when I do edgy things.  (Edgy by Lauren standards here. I’m not about to rob a bank 😉 ).

Ever since Randy and I separated back in March I feel more myself.  And it’s not because I ever felt that Randy held me back.  In fact, Randy has always supported me and encouraged me in everything I do.  I think it was the weight of the situation that snowballed to the point where I didn’t even know who I was or what I wanted anymore.  But since we separated, I feel more relaxed.  I feel more at ease with who I am and where I’m going (wherever the F that is).  And I came to the conclusion that I rather be unapologetically me, than someone who tries to be something or someone for everyone else.

But I’ll be 1000000% honest.  There are days that are hard.  There are days that I cry A LOT.  There are days that I question decisions made 2 years ago and 2 minutes ago.  But just like everyone else who’s going through “stuff”, I just keep on chugging along.  Because just like everyone else, I have to.  Because the world doesn’t stop if I’m having a bad day.  Life continues.  My kids still need me to be their mommy.  My job needs to me to function.  And my house won’t be able to run if I don’t do the laundry, pay the bills or go food shopping.

And quite frankly, I feel incredibly lucky.  Why?  Because me and Randy are still friends.  And maybe that’s always been part of the problem- we’ve been really good friends for so long.  But either way, we care about each other and respect each other enough to make what we’re going through right now the healthiest it can possibly be.  Maybe it’s weird to outsiders. Maybe it’s not “normal.”  But it works for us. Don’t’ get me wrong, we still piss each other off.  But I’m pretty sure that comes with any relationship—whether it’s a married couple, divorced couple or just a plain ol’ besties since 4th grade.  We all get into arguments and push each other’s buttons at times.

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So how does this tie into what I’m doing with my fitness blog?  Well, I’ll tell you.  Being a “health, fitness, move your body, work your mind, live your best life self” advocate is something I love to do.  And I’ve thrown myself into it even more so lately because I am truly passionate about it.  I love sharing what lights me up inside.  It’s also the most normal and consistent thing in my life.  In a year where things got flipped upside down, I was able to keep some sort of normalcy by keeping up with my fitness routine.  It’s kept me sane.

It also gives me:

an opportunity to reflect.

an opportunity to push my physical limits and see what my body is capable of.

an opportunity to sweat out the stress.

an opportunity to gain confidence.

an opportunity release endorphins

an opportunity to start my day off on the right foot

an opportunity to continue to work on myself at a time where I could easily just throw in the towel and say, “I’ll restart when things calm down.”

an opportunity to prove to myself that I can handle ANYTHING.

So I’ll leave you with this—do whatever the hard thing is.  Work on the hard things.  Make peace with the hard things.  Just don’t let the hard things hold you back.  Because at the end of the day, that is a much more regrettable way to live your life.

And one more thing—only YOU know what feels right to you.  So don’t ever let anyone tell you otherwise.

And lastly, when in doubt, sweat it out!  😉 Believe me, it helps in more ways than you’ll ever know. Even though your problems still exist after your workout is over, you have the chance to clear your head and more importantly, time to work on yourself. And at a time when I’ve needed it the most, working out reminds me that I am strong enough to push through anything that comes my way.

So with that, see ya later 2018!  And hello there, 2019!  🙂

Why I Love to Weightlift

You know how you get when you talk about something or someone you love?  Like that super animated, talk really fast, lots of inflection in your voice type of talking?  That’s how I feel about fitness.  I love to talk about running, home workouts, barre… you name it, I’m excited about it!  Recently that excitement includes weightlifting.  I went from a cardio queen to a lifting machine (OMG, that totally rhymed, I am so happy right now 😉 ).

This was a huge transition for me because I used to HATE lifting weights.  I did everything I could to avoid it.  I would do extra cardio and then oops, ran out of time, gotta go so I’m not late for work all the time.  I just didn’t enjoy it.  And I didn’t see the benefits.  But so many fitness gurus talk about how weightlifting is super important for women—especially as we get older.  So over the past few years I started implementing it into my workout routine.  It truly does amazing things for your body.  And there’s a ton of different ways to go about doing it!  I also learned that it’s much more than “I lift things up and put them down.”  Form is everything.  Even when weights seem “light” you still need to make sure you’re in proper form so that a) you don’t hurt yourself and b) you’re working the right muscles for that exercise.

And that’s about as scientific I’m going to get about weightlifting because I don’t have too much textbook knowledge on it.  But I’ve been doing it for a while now and I am happy to say I see results from what I do and also (:knocking wood:) I don’t feel pain or get hurt often (I feel like I had to add the word “often” in otherwise I sound like a tool if I say “never” and I’ll end up eating my words).

Anywayyyy, there are three different approaches I’ve used over the years for lifting weights.

  • Light Weight/High Reps– This used to be my go-to strategy. I’d hit the 8 lb dumbbells and do bicep curls and chest presses for dayzzz.  I still use this method sometimes.  Usually it’s when I do an EMOM (every minute on the minute) workout.  I’ll use the 8 lb dumbbells and curl for one minute straight.  This will definitely fatigue my muscles even though I would normally use 15 lb dumbbells but do a lot less reps.  To me, it’s just a different way to work the muscles—I’m using lighter weights and doing more reps rather than heavier weights and less reps.  It’s a way to switch things up.  And not just for my muscles, but for me mentally.  I admittedly get bored of doing the same thing week in and week out so changing up HOW I do my lifting gets me more excited to do it.
  • Medium Weight/Super SetsSuper sets, by MY definition, is when you do two exercises back-to-back with little to no rest in between- 10 reps each. For example, you might do a bicep curl and then drop those weights and pick up your heavier weights for a bent over (hehe) row.  Your “rest time” is basically the time it takes you to put your curl weight dumbbells down and pick up your row weight dumbbells.  You can also do this in the form of quad sets where you do four exercises back-to-back.  This method is fun because it moves quickly and definitely gets your heart rate up.  Obviously you’re not using your max weight (at least not for every exercise) because your muscles will be SPENT with 2.5- 5 lbs less than your max weight—trust ya girl on that one.
  • Heavy Weight/Low Reps– This is probably the most effective way to get strong, quick. Meaning, build da muscles.  I used to HATE using heavy weights because I thought I’d look like a dude.  But I’ve used this approach and definitely like the way it feels to lift heavy weights.  Also, I’m pretty sure the only way I’d be able to build muscle like a man is if I started taking testosterone … which is not on my to do list.

Okay, so I told you HOW I lift weights, but I haven’t told you WHY.

  • I used to hate wearing tank tops or anything sleeveless because my arms didn’t look good. HA!  At 25 I was already thinking my arms looked terrible so I would try to hide them as much as I could.  So yes, from an aesthetic standpoint I like the way my arms and shoulders look since I started lifting weights.  I feel more confident in tank tops, sleeveless dresses, etc.  I like looking cut and definitely enjoy checking out my arms in the mirror sometimes. (What?! I’m just being honest here 😉 ).
  • I love seeing the progress I’ve made and feeling stronger every day. I also love saying things like “no, I got it” when someone asks me if I need help lifting or moving something.  I have my limits of course, but it’s nice to feel strong.
  • I believe that lifting weights has helped me other areas of fitness—specifically running. Even when I used to use weights at the gym I would rarely work my legs.  Now I do leg workouts with dumbbells and feel a huge difference.  I run once a week and I feel like I’m pretty much just as fast, if not faster, than I’ve ever been (in my adult life) because of incorporating leg workouts to my routine.
  • There are so many health benefits to lifting weights but that’s not really my wheelhouse so I’m going to let this beautiful graphic do the talking. (It had me at “feel good” endorphins and reduces stress and anxiety.  Anyone else?)

Benefits Of WeightLifting

Like I said , I used to hate lifting weights so if you’re in that camp, I totally get it.  However, I truly believe that it’s part of a well-rounded fitness regimen.  And it doesn’t necessarily need to be 3 or 5 times a week.  I will lift for 6 or 8 weeks and then take a break for a couple of weeks.  This gives my body time to recover and for my muscles to start craving the lifting again.  I totally encourage people to incorporate some sort of lifting into their routine.

I  would love to hear other ideas and ways that people like to lift.  I’m always looking to try out new things.  Please share what you do in the comments!!!

 

Holiday Season Weight Maintenance Tips

'Tis the Season for Holiday Weight Maintenance Tips!

Today’s post is all about holiday season dos and don’ts.  It is so easy to get caught up in the holiday fun and completely forget about your health and fitness goals.  And then you wake up on January 1st and you’re already feeling sorry for yourself and the idea of taking on 2019 seems very distant. I see myself stress the minute Halloween candy hits the stores.  I even caught myself saying, “ugh, it’s so hard to stay on track through the holiday season.”  That’s like 1/6 of the year that I’m talking about… and ya know when it’s also hard?  The summer.  The dead of winter.  And also, ALL THE DAMN TIME.

Okay, so I’m not saying anything earth shattering here… we all know this.  So what can we do about?  I got some ideas for you, kids.  Don’t you worry!

Big Time Don’ts:

  • Stop saying things like “it’s so hard this time of year” and “ugh, I always gain a few pounds during the holiday season.” The more you say these things and put them out into the universe, the more you believe them.  (Cough, cough, self-fulfilling prophecy, cough, cough).  So if you’re constantly saying, “I’m fat”… guess what?  Your brain actually thinks your fat even if you’re not.  It is EXTREMELY DIFFICULT to get out of this type of habit.  When you’re used to saying things like this it’s almost like it comes out of your mouth without you even thinking about it.  So, trying not to say these things is the first step.  But if you catch yourself slipping up (like I did a few weeks ago), you should follow it up very quickly with—“but it’s my CHOICE and this year is going to be different.  I am in control.”
  • Don’t forget about your workouts—whatever your routine is during the rest of the year (3x, 4x, or 5x per week) KEEP IT UP. This is not the time to slack.  In fact, I challenge you to add on an extra 10 minutes to your workout every other day.  (I’ll post up some 10-minute workouts on my Instagram page next week to give you some ideas!).

Big Time Dos:

  • Track what you eat. Whether you write it down on a piece of paper (like me) or use an app on your phone (My Fitness Pal and LoseIt are two great options), keep track of what you put in your mouth.  This is annoying and time consuming, there’s no doubt about it.  But try it for 4/7 or 5/7 days per week.  I guarantee you on those days you’ll eat better because you’re consciously noting what you’re eating.  And, because you’ll feel so good you might even want to track an extra day or two.
  • Don’t track what you eat on Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas or at your work holiday party. Life is about balance—you have to train your brain to understand that.  We all have a different definition of balance.  You might think my definition is too loose or too rigid.  Just find YOUR balance.  In my opinion, unless you’re a bodybuilder or training for a bikini competition, there’s absolutely no reason to track all the time.  You should be able to go away on vacation or enjoy a holiday gathering without tracking your meals because when it’s over you just go “back to normal” (whatever YOUR normal is—i.e. clean eating 75% of the time). There’s no thinking about it, it just happens.  And believe me, it doesn’t happen after a few days… this took me MONTHS to wrap my head around, but once I did, it made my life so much easier.  Getting “back to normal” after a few days of indulging became part of my new normal.
  • Keep it moving! If it’s warm enough outside, go for a walk.  If you go shopping, park far away from the entrance.  If you have stairs in your office building, take ‘em.   If you have a FitBit, or Apple iWatch, use them to track your steps.  Try to hit 10,000 steps per day.  This is a tip for all the time, not just the holiday season.  I get that it’s much more convenient to park close to the store entrance, but it’s not such a bad thing to get a few extra steps in.  Sidebar: if you have children with you, always try for a closer parking spot.   If you are buckling and unbuckling children from car seats and putting them in a shopping cart and keeping them alive, you’re probably getting a pretty sick workout anyway, so kudos to you, you deserve the best spot! 😉

I personally head into the holiday season on maintenance mode.  Truth is, I’ve gained about 5-6 lbs over the past few months.  Yes, some of it might be muscle.  But some of it might be from overindulging.  I’d like to lose that weight now but I decided not to get myself too stressed over it.  I decided to go 100% maintenance mode from now through the end of the year.  That includes:

  • Keeping track of my eating more days than not,
  • Increasing the intensity of my workouts,
  • Enjoying holiday parties and get togethers with family and friends,
  • Planning to kill in come January 1st.

The holiday season should be fun.  We already stress about gifts and parties and seeing our families.  Your health shouldn’t be an extra stressor.  My biggest piece of advice is to find something that works for you.  I don’t think anyone’s ever said, “completely letting myself go and throwing caution to the wind” was the best decision they ever made.  So find a way to balance it all out.  Exercise, eat well as much as you can, indulge when you want to, and get ready to kick 2019’s butt!

~L

Putting in the Work

In honor of Flashback Friday, I thought it’d be fun to talk about my high school running career.  I much rather tell you about my tennis career because I was actually good at that.  But I think sharing something I sucked at would make for a better story…

My first day of track practice in 9th grade was nothing short of ego-crushing. I just came off of tennis season and felt pretty good about how it went.  I had easily made the Varsity team and was one of the better players.  I knew going into the winter track season that it wouldn’t be the same; I was just using running as a way to stay in shape for tennis, build up my endurance for long matches.  And running long distance (the 1500 meter and 3000 meter races) was a really good way to do that.

The track coach split everyone into two groups- long distance and sprinters.  I made my way over to where the long distance runners were gathered.  Pretty much all the long distance runners just finished up their cross country season. I was probably one of the few people who voluntarily decided to run distance who did not run cross country.  The coach told us to run the power lines.  First of all, what are the power lines?  How fare are we running? Can I stop and walk when I’m tired? Are there snacks along the way?  What if I get lost?

The group started running.  Everyone was chit-chatting with one another while we made our way towards the power lines. I could barely keep up, let alone talk!  And as we continued to run, the “real” runners pulled away and got smaller and smaller while I fell behind.  It was probably a combination of them picking up their pace and mine slowing down.  But damn, I sucked!  I probably ran 3 miles that day while everyone else probably ran 4 or 5 (maybe even 6, I was that slow).  The group turned around at some point and scooped me up on their way back to the high school. The same thing happened on the way back—they pulled away and I “walked with a bounce” back to the school.

It was quite clear on that day that I was never going to be the fastest runner on the track team.  Hell, I probably wouldn’t even compete with the average runners, but I was determined to get better.  And I did. I showed up to practice EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.  I was one of the first people out on the track after the final bell.  I ran on Sunday mornings.  I did all the things I could do to get better.  And I did!  Was I the best?  No, and that’s OK!  As long as I was getting better, I felt good.

Fast forward a few months.  I was sitting at my high school’s annual Varsity Dinner.  Each coach got up and presented a couple of awards to players on their teams.  The track coach, good ol’ Mr. Dwyer, made his way up to the little stage.  He handed out an MVP award (which ya’ll know I didn’t get).  But then he started talking about the next award—the “Work Horse” award.  And before I knew it, I was being called up to accept!  Alright, alright, it’s a little embarrassing that I even remember this but whatever, it meant something to me! I look back on that now and think, I really did deserve that award because I truly worked my butt off during track. I was never going to be the best, but I just wanted to improve and become MY best.

Little did I know, winning that award would later teach me two great life lessons:

  • You can work your tail off for something—whether it’s getting a job promotion you think you deserve, beating your PR (personal record) at your race, ANYTHING, and still not get the promotion, or run your best race time, or whatever. You can try really hard at things and still fail.  And that’s OK.
  • On the flip side, you could know that you’re never going to be the best at something but that shouldn’t stop you from putting your all into it. It should never keep you from trying because THAT is the only way you actually fail- by not trying, by not pushing yourself, by not reaching YOUR potential (whatever that is).

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Here’s a cute little example:  I’ve run 3 half marathons- 13.1 miles.  Each time I’ve run the race, I’ve run a faster time than the last (that’s been my goal each time).  The reality is, no matter how hard I train, I’ll probably never be able to run 7 minute mile pace for 13.1 miles, but it’s not going to stop me from trying to get better each and every time I run a race.  I’m still going to try MY BEST, IN THAT MOMENT to do even just a smidge better than last time.  I mean, I’m a “work horse” according to my track coach, so I’m going to put in the work (work work work work work ß me singing Rihana’s song “Work”).

I thinks sometimes people feel like if they put effort or work into something and they fail then they are a failure.  So when they try something and fail, they get sad/upset/angry/disappointed and kind of close themselves up to trying again.  They don’t want to try something else and fail again because they think:

Failure + Failure + Failure = I’m a failure

Right?

Nah… it’s more like

Failure + Failure + Failure = Growth + Learning + Experience

Think about all things you’ve learned from doing the things you’ve always done?  Whomp whomp… probably nothing.  Think about the times that you’ve tried something new—what did you learn?  You’d be surprised at what you took away from those experiences, big or small.

I worked my butt off for 4 years in track. And I’ll tell you, I never won a race. I never came in first—not EVER.  It didn’t stop me from trying or putting all my effort into each and every race.  I was OK with knowing that every time I stepped out on the 1500m start line, I was going to run over a full minute slower than most of the other girls. And it was OK.  It was kind of a good lesson to learn so young—you mean, I can try really hard and still not be good at something?  Umm, yeah.  So what you’re saying is, even if I know should get the promotion, I might not?  Umm, yeah.  But I should keep doing whatever it is I need to do to be MY best self and eventually things will fall into place?

HELL TO THE YES!

“I want” vs. “I want to want”

“I want to be fit.”  I said this about a million times between the ages of 18 and 28.  I would complain that I was going to the gym and I still wasn’t skinny.  I would say things like “I’m fat” ALL THE TIME.  To the point where I’m sure it got annoying to listen to.  And I eventually got tired of saying it.

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I came to the conclusion that all those times I said “I want to be fit” what I really meant was “I WANT TO want to be fit.”  The reality was I knew what it took to get fit and healthy but I wasn’t willing to do the things I knew would get me there.  I wanted to want be fit.  And for a long time “I want to be fit” were just empty words.  They were meaningless.  The saying it part is easy.  The execution is where we all get tripped up.  How many times have you said one or more of the following?

I want to get healthy.

I want to stop smoking.

I want to get a new job.

I want to buy a bigger house.

I want to go back to school.

I want to have a better relationship with my spouse.

I want to start my own business.

I want to start my blog (oh wait, that’s me!)

We want, we want, we want… but do we REALLLLLY want these things?

No, because if we did we’d stop saying it and just actually do the damn thing.  For whatever reason, we aren’t that unhappy, we aren’t that uncomfortable.  Meaning we don’t like that we’re tired and lethargic all the time but it’s not to the point where we’re ready to execute a plan to get us right.  The thought of what we have to do to get to our goals is waaaaay more daunting than staying right where we are in our “comfortable enough” state.  We come up with thousands of excuses as to why now isn’t the right time for us to do “that thing” or work on “that goal.”  And what it comes down to is YOU JUST DON’T ACTUALLY WANT IT…. YET.

So, what you’re saying is… if I’m not ready I shouldn’t bother trying because if I say I want to do something and then I don’t do it I’m just one of those people who says things that they don’t mean and inevitably comes up with an excuse about why they can’t do it so instead I just shouldn’t care and not say it and not want it until I ACTUALLY want it.  (I love a good, purposeful run-on sentence).

Ummm, NO! The answer is NO.  What you should do is stop saying you want all these things and just pick ONE, just ONE that you want bad enough to actually go for.  You have to care enough about something at some point in your life to do something about it!  So pick ONE thing and do it.

Sounds easy, right?  Well it’s not.  Because anything worth having takes WORK.  It takes self-discipline. It takes willingness to change. And it takes our least favorite thing ever—sacrifice.  You have to give up something to get something.  But, like, 1000% of the time what you gain far outweighs the things you lose along the way.

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SIGH! It was super fun to type all of that.  I felt powerful and in control and kind of awesome… BUT the reality is, I still have things I WANT TO WANT.  For instance…

I WANT TO WANT a new job.  For those of you that don’t know, I work for a financial services firm.  I’ve been in the business since I’m 20 years old and have been the operations manager at my office for over eight years.  There are things I LOVE about my job (like the fact that every day is different, I meet some cool people, and I get to take care of MY people).  But I also dislike things about my job (it gets boring at times, I meet some not-so-cool people and I get overwhelmed on a daily basis).  HOWEVER, my comfort, or discomfort level is not high enough.  I like my job… but I’m not passionate about it.  My dad (who I work for, interestingly enough) would tell me that you don’t HAVE to be passionate about your job… because it’s a J-O-B, not F-U-N.  True, Jay, I get that. But I want more. But obviously not enough… at least not right now!  Because if I did, my resume would be updated, I’d have a picture on my LinkedIn profile and I would be networking my butt off to get that new job.

On the other hand, I ACTUALLY wanted to get healthy and fit a few years ago.  I finally chose to stop saying it and just started doing it.  And it took me becoming a Beachbody coach, posting after-workout selfies and using color coded containers for me to do it.  And that may sound LAAAAME to you but I don’t care.  It’s what worked for me.

This past summer I decided I wanted to get my license to sell life insurance.  The first step was saying “I want to do this.”  The second step was telling everyone I worked with that I was doing it.  The third was taking a course and skimming the study materials.  And the fourth was taking the test.  I’ll admit… I started step one at least twice since I started working.  And I probably skipped over step two, which is why I never got to steps three and four.  Look, you don’t have to tell everyone what you’re doing because maybe that’s just completely unnecessary and uncomfortable for you.  For me, though, I needed to.  I can’t imagine someone in my office asking me how the studying was going and having to sheepishly say, “Yeah, I’m not doing that.  I [insert any lame excuse here].  I knew that I wouldn’t want to have that conversation.  This time I actually WANTED it.

Today’s takeaway?  Think about the things you’ve said you want.  What’s the one thing you’ve said you wanted time and time again and just haven’t been able to do?  DO IT!  You’re not getting any younger! (Sorry, I had to go there.  And also, it’s true).  You can sit around all day and think of all the excuses in the world as to why you can’t… but YOU CAN.  And YOU SHOULD!  In the words of Jim Rohn, “If you really want to do something, you’ll find a way. If you don’t, you’ll find an excuse.”

Turn “I want to want it” to “I want it” to “I did it!”  And if you need someone to help cheer you on through the process, I’m here for you, babe!  😉

~L

Genuine Happiness

This one is going to be hard for me.  The version of me that you’re going to read about below is not the person I want anyone to think of me as.  But it was who I was for a long time, whether people knew it or not.  And I learned a valuable lesson that I think is worth sharing.

There was a time, not too long ago, that I had trouble being happy for other people.  I was one of those people that would roll my eyes when I saw someone post something on Facebook or Instagram about their amazing weight loss or their brand new huge-ass house.  Like an actual eye roll, scroll without “liking”, mutter “no one cares” reaction to someone posting something they were happy and proud of.  Seriously?!?  I was that insecure that I couldn’t be happy for someone else’s achievements?  (:shutters:).  Umm, yeah, apparently I was!  I should’ve been happy for them- and not just pretend happy, like genuinely happy.  A few years ago I realized why I was like this.

I truly thought that if Sarah was skinny that meant I had to be fat.  If Samantha was successful that meant there was no success left for me.  And if Lucy was madly in love, I’d be alone forever.  I don’t know where this mentality came from.  I have no recollection of ever being taught this.  Why did I think that there was a limited amount of happiness or success or love in the world?  Like they were products at a store and once the store was sold out, I was SOL!

It wasn’t until I joined a multi-level-marketing company and became an online fitness coach in 2015 that a major shift in my mindset occurred.  It was truly one of the BEST DECISIONS I EVER MADE.  I still thank my lucky stars that the opportunity fell into my lap when it did.  DISCLAIMER: I am no longer coaching so don’t worry I’m not asking you to join my team (even though you, yes YOU, would probably rock at it 😉 )

Here are just a few gems that I took away from my coaching experience:

  1. I learned how to genuinely be happy for other people. I don’t know how it happened.  I’m not sure if it was because I was surrounded with so many people cheering me on or the fact that I started to feel better about myself (controlling my eating rather than feeling controlled BY it). But it was like the positive energy from this new network of people was contagious.  And then one day it just clicked.  Even though there were plenty of coaches doing better than me, I was rooting for them.  I was happy to see them do well.  And this spilled over into all the other parts of my life.  I noticed that when I was scrolling through FB or IG, I’d “like” or comment on things that I would normally just scroll right past.  I was happy to see that other people were happy and successful.  It started to make ME happy.
  2. I was surrounded by like-minded people. As my online network grew, I got introduced to so many amazing people.  These people made me “level up” as I like to call it.  Meaning, they pushed me to be a better version of myself.  They were happy, successful, high energy and positive and I wanted to be like them!  And now, I seek out happy, positive, and supportive people.  No one wants to be around a Negative Nancy (#oldme)… we all want to hang out with Positive Patty (#newme).
  3. I was introduced to personal development. I am OBSESSED with becoming better.  And no, not better than you.  Just a better version of me.  One of the ways I do that is by reading books on personal development. I use PD to help me get through times when I’m feeling down, sorry for myself or just when I need to redirect my focus back to my goals.  It helps reaffirm that I’m on the right track.  Even if it’s a slightly uncomfortable track.  Which leads me to:
  4. Pushing myself outside my comfort zone. I’ve pretty much always played it safe. And let’s be real, safe can be boring!  Becoming an online fitness coach was definitely WAAAAAAAY outside my comfort zone. I’m a private person so sharing things about my weight loss journey wasn’t easy at first.  But I saw how sharing my story helped inspire others to start their own journey. And I also realized that when ideas keep you up at night (like starting your blog) that means you should GO FOR IT.  It doesn’t mean that you’ll always be successful.  You have to fail in order to grow.  But believe me, every time I do something outside my comfort zone I gain a little more confidence.  And that pushes me to challenge myself even more.

So, the moral of the story?  Becoming an online fitness coach was a turning point, not just in my fitness journey, but in my life journey.  The things I’ve taken away from the experience are things I only wish I learned earlier in life.  But just like everything else, it happened when it was supposed to.

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And just as a sidebar, if you are ever approached by someone to join their team or company, just remember, it’s a compliment!  They see you as someone they feel would be an amazing addition to their team.  They see you as an influencer.  They see you as positive person.  They see your desire to help others.  So don’t immediately say no. Think about it.  The worst that can happen is that you get an experience that teaches you all the things I described above. Not terrible, right?

~L

 

Welcome, friends!

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I’ll be straight up honest—I have no idea what I’m doing.  Not with this blog. I mean, in life.  I am literally walking through life trying to figure things out.  Every.  Single.  Day.  This is hard for me to admit because when I was 18 and 24 and 28, I legitimately thought “I got this” when it came to life.  I had everything planned out—and guess what?! Everything was going exactly according to plan!  Ahhh, isn’t it so nice when that happens?

But then I realized that the plan I had when I was 18 and 24 and even at 28 was not making me happy. Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t depressed or terribly unhappy but I just knew things weren’t right.

Things changed.

It’s as simple as that.  I had everything I could have asked for—a husband, two kids, a good job, a home, family close by. I mean, geez, Lauren, it seems like you got it all, what’s the problem?!?!

So, before I go any further, let me introduce myself. My name is Lauren. I live on Long Island.  I have two children- 3.5 year-old Ethan and 1.5 year-old Alexandra (aka Alex, aka Chicken, aka Chickie, aka Chickie Chickie Nug Nug,  you get the idea).  If you follow me on social media you know that I’m into fitness, food and funnies.  I love to laugh (even at my own expense, even if my face gets beet red).  I love to be around people and I totally vibe off other peoples’ energy.  I’m not always happy and bubbly but I do my best to put a smile on every day.  I can be judgmental and witchy with a capital B at times (which I’m working on).  And I find one my greatest joy is making people smile.  I also get a high when someone sends me a message and asks me for advice on working out, their diet, or that I inspired them to get moving again.  And most recently I’ve been excited about sharing my story.  Not because my story is so wonderful but because in sharing my story, I hope to give others the confidence to share their’s.

One of my favorite quotes is from John Churton Collins- “If we knew each other’s secrets, what comforts we should find.”

The minute I heard this quote (on Criminal Minds, if you’re wondering) it stuck.  I’ve always been a super private person.  I never had any issue talking to other people about THEIR problems, but I wouldn’t be so quick to share my own “stuff.”  As I’ve gotten older, I realized that I’m not only doing myself a disservice, I’m doing my friends and family a disservice as well.  No one- your family, friends, spouse, partner, co-workers, etc. can truly understand who you are unless you’re willing to become vulnerable and let people in.  Only through letting people get to know who we really are, can we develop a deeper appreciation and understanding for all the people that we cross paths with throughout our lives.

For me, this realization has been life changing.  Only over the past couple of years I have finally become more comfortable with who I am.  Don’t get me wrong, I still have fears and insecurities… but I’ve worked through SO MUCH these last couple of years and I’m finally starting to feel like I can be my true self.  And it’s incredibly freeing.

That being said, fitness, exercise, running, and just generally being active have been the trigger for a lot of my changes.  I’ve learned so much from my days of running high school track to running half marathons to lifting heavy weights.  Things I do during my workouts, I apply to situations and problems that I’m experiencing in my life.  And most of my epiphanies come either during or right after my workout when my muscles and brain are highly stimulated.  It’s never been about looking a certain way.  It’s been about finding a way to take control of my life, finding ways to change my thoughts, actions, re-actions and everyday behaviors.  It’s about feeling confident and finding my true self.

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photo cred: motivationalping.com

So I’m going to share my story through the lens of my “fit life.”  Some of it’s going to be hard to talk about, some of it’s going to be light and fluffy and most of it will be somewhere in between.  I’m super excited about this new part of my journey and I hope you are too!

I appreciate your feedback and any questions or comments you have.  😉

~L