What I've Been Up To!

Sick Day Survival Tips

Sick Day Survival Tips

  This winter cold and flu season has hit my family and my friends’ families pretty hard this year. It’s the first time we all have little ones, so it keeps spreading from kids to parents to kids to parents to kids… My little guy […]

DIY Dollar Store Menu Board

DIY Dollar Store Menu Board

Ok, I have to admit, I’m a little bit obsessed with Dollar Tree. I love watching Dollar Tree hauls on youtube, and a close friend and I are planning a trip to a GIANT Dollar Tree about 30 min from us. Nope, I’m not sponsored […]

Find Your Thing: My Tone It Up Journey

Find Your Thing: My Tone It Up Journey

 

 

If you spend time with me in my daily life, you’ve heard me mention Tone It Up a million and one times. I like to call it a fitness cult, but it’s really a lifestyle brand by Katrina Scott and Karena Dawn that started on youtube with workouts and nutrition tips and is now a multi-million dollar company. They have a workout app and nutrition program with hundreds of thousands of subscribers. The hashtag #tiuteam has over 4 million posts to date! Do I get paid to talk about Tone It Up or shill their products? Nope. It’s a program that worked amazingly for me and made me a healthier, happier person, so I like to talk about it a lot. I’ve been a member since 2015 and each year I’m fitter and healthier because of it.

 

That being said, it’s not everyone’s “thing.” I made a joke to a friend recently that it’s a fitness cult for type-A lunatics like me who don’t understand human limitations. Ok, it’s not that bad, but it’s not for everyone. I get that. I guess what I want to encourage today is for you to find your thing. Whatever makes you wake up in the morning, get stronger and healthier, and make you feel really good about yourself.

 

For today’s post, I wanted to share a little bit about my Tone It Up journey and then in the future I want to add a post with some tips on how to find your own thing. I firmly believe that chasing after health and happiness is good, it’s honorable, and it’s something worthy of admiration. You know, like in Philippians.

 

Philippians 4:8

“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things.”

 

We’re temples of Holy Spirit after all. Let’s see the honor and joy in that and take care of ourselves and extend ourselves some grace and love.

 

+ My Tone It Up Journey: Part I 

 

 

That was me on the left, six years ago. I weighted 93 lbs. and really thought I was happy with my body and my life. After a lot of patience, hard work, and help, I managed to the the mental side of things together. So much of our physical health is tied to our spiritual and mental health, so it’s no surprise when those are off, our bodies can be a little off too. I decided to only focus on being emotionally healthy after that, afraid that if I even thought about my body at all, I would be back to where I started. Instead of learning how to eat well and learning how to be physically stronger, I ignored my health altogether.

 

I ended up in 2015 at a relatively healthy weight, but tired, unhealthy, weak, anxious, and unsure of myself. I started doing Tone It Up workouts on youtube to get the physical part of my life together and then started getting sucked into the lifestyle because I loved it so much. The workouts and trainers, Karena and Katrina, were so positive! Instead of saying “push yourself to your limit! It hurts because it’s working!” they were showing me that workouts and food can be positive and fun in and of themselves. When I would wake up early and do a 15 to 20 minute workout, I would feel better about myself during the workout and felt even better afterward. The “if you’re not suffering, you’re not working hard enough” vibe just didn’t click with me at all. I liked laughing, having fun, and cheering myself on. Eating and cooking were fun too, when you’re feeding yourself nourishing foods that fuel you and give you a bunch of energy.

 

I joined the Tone It Up Nutrition Plan on Black Friday, 2015 and then started my first TIU Challenge in January 2016. After eight weeks of that challenge, I finally got this healthy thing right! Meal planning and the TIU Nutrition Plan reminded me to actually eat five times a day, even when I didn’t feel like it (huge hard thing for me, to be honest). The TIU Community on instagram inspired me to value health and happiness over any number on a scale. They were so sweet and encouraging every step of the way. I was in such a confident, clear-headed place full of hope, and excited about the future. My TIU Transformation didn’t look like your average one, where I could show a dramatic weight loss, but that was ok. It was a journey that worked for me and spoke to my needs.

 

+ My Tone It Up Journey: Part II

 

 

Living in my healthiest body was a huge contributor to me getting pregnant in the summer of 2016. I won’t go into that whole story because, honestly, it has more to do with a spiritual journey than a physical one. But the physical part made that journey go way more smoothly! Though I did a lot of modifications, I kept going with my Tone It Up lifestyle throughout my pregnancy. I felt so much stronger throughout, had a lot more energy than I thought I could be while pregnant, and knew that I was taking good care of myself while my body was doing double the work. I think the biggest thing that it helped was my anxiety. I tend to be a pretty anxious person in general, let alone during so many changes in my life, but daily workouts and staying active were insanely helpful for my mental health. Not only was I doing TIU stuff, but I also started going to prenatal yoga classes. That just helped me center so much in my body and take care of myself inside and out.

 

I posted the above picture at the end of the “fourth trimester.” It was 12 weeks since my little guy had made his arrival. And it was at the very end of the popular Tone It Up Bikini Series in 2017. I finished that challenge really proud of the woman on the left who grew a tiny healthy human for 40 weeks (that pic was taken 2 wks pp). I worked my bottom off staying healthy & active during my pregnancy.  I was even more proud of the woman I was after the Bikini Series! I think it’s really hard as a brand new mom to make yourself a priority. The sleepless nights, constant tending, tears, frustrations, & failures can really take a toll on your health. But there was real joy in the process too! I met myself over those eight weeks: a woman who is strong, confident, hard-working, optimistic, and persistent. I really felt like I could do anything I set my mind to. I felt so confident because it would have been easier to say “I’m doing this for my son. I want to be a good example,” but I 100% did it for me. It might have seemed selfish at the time, but I knew I needed to do something just for me. I didn’t want being my son’s mom to take away from myself and my own identity: physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. I’m a mom, sure, but I’m not just a mom and that’s something I like to be mindful of.

 

I think that’s why Tone It Up is my thing. It’s something just for me. It’s the path I used to remind myself of who God created me to be: strong, confident, persistent, positive, full of life and energy. And being physically healthy gives me all the energy to chase after all the other things I want to do in life.

 

 

That’s why I’m passionate about encouraging others to find their thing. Any time you struggle with your health, it’s important to think about your whole mind, body, and spirit. It’s easy to neglect one or make one the only thing you think about. Doing that starves you of creativity, inspiration, motivation, passion, and hope. You can just get along, or you can make a big change and choose to love yourself. Don’t talk yourself out of it. Your health and happiness depend on it!

 

I want to encourage everyone out there who struggles with their body: find your thing, whatever it is that motivates and inspires you to be healthy. It could be marathons, boxing, rowing, lifting, CrossFit, ballet, Weight Watchers, workout videos in your living room, whatever. You are worthy of being a priority. Trust me. Once you start on that lifelong journey to loving and caring for yourself, you will keep heading in the right direction. Things in your life can really build you up and some things can really tear you down. If you believe that you are worth caring for, you can start to feel stronger and more resilient. And you can start extending that love to the world around you.

 

Romans 5:3-5

“… we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.”

 

Listen to that voice inside of you that pushes you forward and gives you strength. Listen to that trustworthy voice because that’s what’s going to lead you to hope. Throughout my journey, I couldn’t be more grateful and more proud of who I am, where I am, what I’m doing, where I’m heading, and Who is helping me along the way.

 

Photo: Tone It Up

 

 

For more tips, tricks, and inspiration head over to my Pinterest board , my Instagram, or my lifestyle and fitness Instagram.

 

Paint Brushes Instead of Makeup Brushes?

Paint Brushes Instead of Makeup Brushes?

If you’re a serious beauty junkie, you know that good makeup brushes can really take a toll on your paycheck. For a very reasonable $450 you can get the Artis Fluenta set with brushes that feel like cashmere & apply makeup like a dream. I’ll […]

Only in Philly: The Mummers Parade

Only in Philly: The Mummers Parade

What do you get when you combine one part cross-dressing, one part parade, one part performance art, one part Italian and Irish Philadelphians, and one very large serving of alcohol? The Mummers Parade of course!   Every January 1 in Philadelphia for years and years, […]

5 Detox Habits to Start 2018

5 Detox Habits to Start 2018

Happy New Year and Happy 2018! I’m sure everyone started on Monday, January 1 with a clear head, a good night’s rest, and energy and determination for a whole new year. Right?

I don’t know about you, but I certainly had a little recovering to do yesterday. I wanted to start off the year on the right foot though, so I kicked off my day with a 20 minute workout, a bunch of water, cleaning my apartment, and a detox shot (lemon juice and apple cider vinegar). That was enough to kick start my day. I don’t always have the luxury of starting my day like that, but I already felt inspired and motivated and my husband was sweet enough to play with our little guy while I worked.

Here are some other ideas to banish all those New Year’s hangovers, whether they are physical, mental, emotional, or spiritual:

+ tidy up your diet

I’m kind of meh about the term “clean eating.” I think it’s pretty vague and can also trigger unhealthy eating in some people. That being said, it’s always a good idea to try to minimize all the junk in our diets, particularly at this time of year. Take a good look at your diet and think of areas where you can ADD delicious, nutritious foods instead of thinking of what you should avoid. I find sometimes that if I’m eating all kinds of healthy foods, it can crowd out all the junk without it feeling like I’m deprived. Some great things to embrace: citrus fruits and juices, green veggies, lean proteins, nuts, seeds, and unprocessed grains. Was it Michael Pollan who said “eat food, not too much, mostly plants?” I can get behind that! Asparagus and beets are great detoxing foods as well as anything with a lot of fiber like Brussels sprouts and beans. You want to fuel up your body with healthy foods so it can start detoxing itself. Apple cider vinegar, lemon juice, and kombucha are also great ways to power up an internal detox!

 

+ clean your space

Yesterday, I did a mad cleaning dash until almost 11pm. I have been working with either a cold or crazy allergies for the past few days and was convinced CONVINCED it was hidden allergens all over my house. You don’t have to go completely overboard, but deep cleaning a few key things will help detox your lungs and make your breathing easier. I focused a lot of attention on cleaning vents, washing all the textiles in my house (sheets, mattress pad, dog bed, couch throw, bath mats), doing some dusting, and vacuuming. If you’re particularly sensitive to allergens, it’s a good idea to clean out your vacuum from time to time: clean the brush head, rinse out the filter, change the vacuum bag, or doing whatever keeps your vacuum running smoothly. If you have a humidifier, it is SO important to clean it according to the instructions. I used a bleach/water solution recently to get rid of a ton of buildup. Rinsing it daily should be a little higher on my to do list… Already, I’m breathing easier and happy I spent the time deep cleaning yesterday.

 

+ get some sunshine

Did you know that sunshine during midday hours is processed through your retina and hits your pineal gland in the very center of your brain to produce melatonin, our natural sleeping pill? The science is pretty interesting and worth a look at some journal articles if you’re interested in that kind of thing. Getting out in the sunshine, even when it’s in the teens and twenties in January, is so important. It will help you sleep better and clear your head. Northern Europeans have a saying, “there’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing.” I couldn’t agree more. If the temperature is keeping you from heading out, start looking out for warm layering clothing, warmer jackets, and high quality hats and gloves. After Christmas is a great time to pick those up on sale. Then you won’t have an excuse to miss out on the benefits of sunshine to your sleep, mood, and general health.

 

 

+ hydrate

I’m really behind on this and it’s probably my weakest habit, but I’m trying to make this a lot more important in the future. I try to drink half my body weight in ounces of water, which for me means drinking water ALL THE TIME. But that’s ok. Our bodies need water to function well, detox naturally, and stay lean and healthy. I like making fruit infused waters to drink throughout the week. Add berries, citrus fruits, or anything delicious like melon or cucumber to a pitcher of water in your fridge to tap into whenever you need a drink. That at least makes drinking a bunch of water more interesting. I track my water consumption on my Fitbit app which has been a fun reminder to keep up the good work and helps track my progress.

 

 

+ banish negative thoughts

If you really want to do a deep clean, I challenge you to identify a handful of negative thoughts you find yourself sinking back into over and over and steer your way back by replacing those thoughts with helpful things. For example: I spend a lot of time thinking about things that have happened in the past. Past conversations, past opinions, past experiences. That doesn’t help anyone! Sure it’s nice to reminisce from time to time but happiness lives in the present, right? Any time I start thinking about the past, I try to consciously focus on something good in my present. Replacing those thoughts of the past with mindfulness is such a good way to start detoxing your heart and mind. I made a list of five of these types of thoughts and am going to actively correct them throughout January so I can hopefully start a good habit there.

 

I hope these ideas helped you get inspired to start this first week of 2018 on the right foot. I hope this year finds you happy, healthy, inspired, and ready to tackle anything. Let me know what you like to do to detox after a fun Christmas break!

 

 

If this picture of delicious food by the pool doesn’t inspire you to kick off this year in a healthy way, I don’t know what will! ; D

 

For more tips, tricks, and inspiration head over to my Pinterest board , my Instagram, or my lifestyle and fitness Instagram. 

 

Very Best of 2017

Very Best of 2017

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year everyone! I hope your holiday has been filled with family, friends, delicious food, and happy times. My Christmas was so nice, even though we stayed home. I kind of like our in-between Christmases when we stay home with just […]

God Loves Junkies, Too

God Loves Junkies, Too

  This is not a book review. Though I kind of wish it was. A book review would be easier to write.   No, these are just my thoughts after reading “How to Murder Your Life” by Cat Marnell. I should put this out there […]

Good for the Planet New Year’s Resolutions

Good for the Planet New Year’s Resolutions

Maybe you can tell by the fact that I have two New Year’s Resolutions posts in one month that I really love New Year’s! I think it’s such a cool time to put all your dreams into action. For this edition, I wanted to offer four simple suggestions for resolutions that might help out the planet.

 

We are all pretty aware of the impact each person has on the world around us: trash, car emissions, the foods we consume, pollution we individually contribute to the atmosphere. It seems like such a big task to fix some of the human impact on our environment, and sometimes it seems like one person doing little things doesn’t add up to much.

 

Of course there are things we can be doing on a macro level to encourage more drastic change, but there are so many simple things each person can do to contribute to cleaner air, less junk, and a healthier environment.

 

Here are just some ideas I had to encourage that kind of change in your own home:

 

+ Donate & Buy Secondhand

My husband just went to pick up two car seats we found secondhand on Facebook marketplace yesterday. I looked at all of our baby gear, and I would say that about 80% of it is secondhand. That’s a big impact! Buying secondhand helps keep things out of landfills and lessens the environmental impact of creating new consumer goods over and over. We’re also regular contributors to our neighborhood Goodwill. When we were first married, we didn’t have a lot of money. I was SO grateful for every deal and find at my local store. I could have cute, name brand items for our home and my closet for like a tenth of the price. Win win for me!

 

+ Meat Free Mondays and More

The environmental impact of meat consumption is really massive – crops to feed livestock, water use, methane output. For a lot of people, going vegetarian or vegan is really a radical departure from their idea of a normal diet. That’s ok! You don’t have to go all in! Just making a few meat-free recipes a week adds up to a lot. And these recipes are naturally very healthy too. So many health organizations encourage plant-based diets. You get to eat better, try new foods, and have a sizable impact on the planet by just replacing a few meals with meat-free options.

 

+ Stop the Paper Product Madness

I posted before about cloth diapers but we’ve reached an impasse on that one… That doesn’t mean that any little tweak away from paper products is taxing or difficult. I started replacing most of my paper towels for cleaning with microfiber cloths. They are washable, reusable, and are actually way better for cleaning than paper towels. For really terrible messes, sometimes I use paper towels, but for the most part all I use these days are microfiber cloths. Look around your house at some of the places where you use a lot of paper and see what you can replace. Online banking to handle receipts? Cloth napkins instead of paper? Any little bit helps.

 

+ Clean Resonsibly

Now that cleaning green is “a thing” there are so many amazing smelling and effective natural cleaning products at Target, Walmart, and the grocery store. I especially like Mrs. Meyers, Method, and a few Honest Company products. I also make my own Febreeze, carpet cleaning powder, and air fresheners. Look online for some easy and inexpensive natural cleaning product recipes and give them a shot. They are cheaper and far gentler on the planet.

 

Those are just four very simple ideas to get you started! I’m currently working on bringing reusable bags to the store more often. Like anything, it’s a work in progress! If you have other ideas, let me know in the comments below!

 

 

 

 

For more tips, tricks, and inspiration head over to my Pinterest board , my Instagram, or my lifestyle and fitness Instagram!

 

 

Favorite Makeup Products of 2017

Favorite Makeup Products of 2017

It’s hard to put into words how much I love makeup! Everyone thinks I’m nuts, but I use about 20 different makeup products on my face most days. How? Primers, concealers, powders, layering lipsticks and eyeshadows…. It really adds up! It’s such a fun little […]