10K a Day

If you work in an office setting (like I do), you probably know just how hard it is to get in the number of recommended steps each day. I park in the farthest possible spot, always take the stairs, get up at least once an hour to stretch my legs, bypass the closest bathroom, workout almost daily, and most days I barely hit 6,000 steps. #Annoying.

Lately, I’ve been experiencing a lot of neck pain, restless legs, and a lot of stiffness. I started looking into it and found out I was dying. Kidding. Never -I repeat, NEVER – plug your symptoms into WebMD. But I was shocked to find studies show that sitting for extended periods of time does the body harm EVEN if you workout daily. And now we have something else to worry about.

This is bad news for those of us who work 8-9 hour days with our butts in a chair. So when my company, who is very supportive of healthy initiatives for employees, decided to host a 6-week fall walking challenge, I quickly formed a team and vowed that we would get in over 10K steps a day.

I honestly didn’t realize how hard that would be.

Walktober

The program had a really cool app that allowed you to log your steps, view your team stats, and check out your team rank (which I may have checked too many times a day). Did you guys know that my top strength in the Gallup Strengthsfinder is Competition? It’s true – I love a good challenge.

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Catchy, huh?

Each day there was an opportunity to get one of three leaves – red (for walking at least 6K steps), orange (for walking at least 8K), and gold (for walking at least 10K). The goal was to get at least 30 leaves in any color over 42 days. My goal was to get 42 gold leaves.

My Experience

Yesterday was the last day of the challenge and the sixth week of LIIFT4. With that program, I’ve been doing a lot of lifting and some HIIT for almost two months now. It’s a great program (more on that soon!), but because it involves a lot of weighted moves with my feet planted on the ground, I only get around 1,000 steps a workout if I’m lucky.

Fortunately, my husband and I had a trip to Universal planned for the first weekend of the challenge! We both got in over 20K steps a day that weekend. Hey, where are my platinum leaves??

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Halloween Horror Night had us walking past 1 am. This guy wouldn’t carry me back to the car – do you believe it?!

There were many, many days when I had to supplement my LIIFT4 workouts with extra cardio like Core de Force (MMA) or Country Heat (dance) just to boost my step count. But that also meant I didn’t get a rest day and ended up burning over 900 calories. Mah legs – I couldn’t feel mah legs.

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Dance burns a TON of calories, and it’s fun!

Some days I took three laps around my work campus at lunch (6K steps), while listening to an audiobook and silently cheering myself on. Some nights I’d be walking on the treadmill at 10 pm hating my life and the “stupid” challenge.

But, you know what? It got me up and walking – the goal. It also got me to make decisions around step count. Oh, walk around the mall? Yes, I can do that. That will get me at least 2,500 steps. Let’s go!

The Results

My team did okay – we landed in 3rd place out of 21 teams. Okay, not too shabby, but I can’t say I didn’t want to see us take home the trophy: a sponsored lunch for the entire team. Who doesn’t want to be rewarded with food for successfully completing a fitness challenge?

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It’s okay – I’ll just continue to eat my own tasty lunch that I prepared myself. I’m not bitter, thank you very much!

I tied for first place with a handful of others in the individual competition, getting 42 gold leaves. I ended each night over 10K, even if just by a few steps. There’s only one prize to go around, so I’m not sure how’ll they’ll split it.

My legs feel more toned, albeit shaky. I feel empowered to keep stepping, even though I sometimes walk like a 99 year old granny. But, you guys, I haven’t taken a full rest day in SIX freakin weeks, so I plan to take full advantage of my three LIIFT4 rest days this week.

Bottom Line: Yes, it’s a challenge to get in 10K steps a day if your job involves a desk, a chair, and a timeclock. But, it’s very possible. I encourage all of you to be more active and go for the gold! And maybe just spread the steps out more throughout the day. Trying to get 6,000 or more steps after work was not my idea of a good time.

 

A Pop of Flavor

DISCLOSURE: This post was sponsored by Just Spices. Links are not affiliate and I will not receive a commission for any items purchased from justspices.com. Thank you for supporting the brands that make Diary of a Snacker successful. All opinions are my own.

When I started to switch up my diet, I looked high and low for affordable spice blends to add variety to staples like chicken, veggies, and eggs. I’m seriously fine eating hard boiled eggs with avocado and cherry tomatoes for breakfast every day of my life, but I figured my husband would like a little variety with his meals– especially when it came to dinner.

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I mean, look at all the colors!

Did you know that spices can be ridiculously expensive? Because I sure didn’t. Why in the world would someone pay $16.99 for a bottle of salt, pepper, and garlic? I’m not even kidding – it’s really a thing.

Spice Up Your Life

Fortunately, I happened to stumble upon a company called Just Spices (thank you, Instagram!) and magically, all of my bland food problems were solved. Just Spices makes over forty spice blends sourced from many different places around the world. The company is based in Germany and their mission is “to spice up your life.” I think we can all jump on board with that one.

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Isn’t the packaging awesome!?

The spices are so reasonably priced, you can easily re-stock your entire spice rack (like I did!) with unique blends such as Sweet Love (with orange peel and cinnamon) and Exotic Rice Seasoning (with lemon peel, ginger, and orange blossoms). They’re even more affordable than making your own blends. Trust me, I’ve tried that too. Ain’t nobody got time for that.

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Two of my favorite blends are Chocolate Salt Popcorn Seasoning and Oatmeal Spice Blend – both perfect for adding that extra something to your breakfast. I love the sweet-salty combination the former provides.

It’s National Oatmeal Day

On a brisk fall morning, such as today, nothing satisfies the soul more than a hearty bowl of oatmeal. My go-to recipe used to be a double serving of steel-cut oats with frozen raspberries, dark chocolate morsels, a splash of heavy cream, and sprinkle of sea salt. Say that 5 times fast! While tasty, it was definitely one of the largest carb bombs I’ve eaten, well…ever.

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These days I’m living on the lighter side, and oatmeal doesn’t quite fit into paleo/keto-like diets. A whopping 27g of carbs in a serving of plain steel-cut oats? No thanks! Fortunately, there are a lot of good alternatives for the stick-to-your-ribs breakfast.

N’oatmeal uses nuts, (sometimes) flax, chia, and a few other ingredients to create an oatmeal-like hot cereal that’s so delicious you’ll think you’re indulging. There are plenty of recipes on Pinterest and in just about every Paleo cookbook you can find, but I’ve settled on one that I love.

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This is sooooo good on a cold day!

My Paleo Chocolate N’oatmeal is hearty and filling and features Just Spices Chocolate Salt Popcorn Seasoning (not just for popcorn, I swear). It’s great for breakfast (or a snack) and takes just minutes to make. If you love that sweet-salty-savory combination, this recipe is for you.

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Visit justspices.com to learn more and make a purchase. You can even get a free sample box with a minimum order of $14 so you can try a variety of spices.

Cheers to flavorful food!

Get ready to prove yourself!

DISCLOSURE: This post contains affiliate links. I will receive a commission if you purchase from Beachbody via my links. Please do not feel obligated to do so!

SHIFT SHOP is my jam. Every time I complete the program I feel great – stronger, lighter, and more energized. In fact, I just completed another round yesterday and I can’t stop checking out my muscles! For the first time, my before pics for LIIFT4 are gonna be the after photos I’ve only imagined.

Chris Downing

Of course I was super excited to learn that Chris Downing (the program creator) is launching FOUR new workouts to help take your results to another level. It’s not a completely new program, but rather an addition to the original.

There’s a Prep Week with 15-minute Quick Shift workouts that give you an idea of what to expect in the coming weeks. Then, two Proving Grounds workouts that will score your starting and ending performance. Each week, you’ll challenge yourself to be better than last. It always feels impossible at first, but you’ll be amazed how strong you’ll feel after just three weeks.

What, exactly, is SHIFT SHOP?

A 21-day program with six working days and either a stretch or rest day on Sunday. Since it’s such a short program, you work hard from beginning to end. If you get the Deluxe package, you get a few additional workouts to help you burn more calories and get fit faster. Most challengers will save these for round two. I just did four straight weeks of SHIFT SHOP, ending with the 50 minute Super Shift workouts.

The Trainer

In Action

Chris Downing – a Beachbody Super Trainer who has trained both amateur and pro athletes, including individuals at all different fitness levels. He pushes you to do your best and give it your all. An amazing motivational coach – he will have you laughing your behind off (literally).

To learn more about the original program, check out my previous post.

Bottom Line: I can’t wait to test my strength. Workouts officially launch on October 22 – and I’m sure they will be just as good, if not better, than the original SHIFT SHOP workouts. Challenge packs and accessories go on sale today! Visit teambeachbody.com for more info.

Prove Yourself

I know you know, but I have to say it anyway…always consult your doctor before beginning an intense exercise, fitness, and/or diet program.

Visit teambeachbody.com for more information on programs or sign up for Beachbody On Demand to try SHIFT SHOP!

That 9 to 5 Life

DISCLOSURE: This post was sponsored by Hello Healthy Box. Links are not affiliate and I will not receive a commission for any items purchased from hellohealthybox.com. Thank you for supporting the brands that make Diary of a Snacker successful. All opinions are my own.

Let me just say this – I never knew what a challenge it would be to work in an office full time and still eat clean, keep fit, and be active. Every time I turn around there is an office party – someone retiring, getting married, having a baby, celebrating a birthday. We also have food for every holiday – even those unofficial ones like National Chocolate Chip Cookie Day. And don’t get me started on those vending machines. Twix ice cream bars? Yes, please! Actually, make it two.

All of those little calories we think nothing of – a few pieces of candy here, a slice of cake there – add up. Before you know it, you’ve got that little 9-5 belly.

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That’s where Hello Healthy Box comes in. I can’t say enough positive things about this company and program! It’s solved the “I don’t have time” problem of many a working woman. The box provides you with 4 grab-and-go meals to eat during the workday, taking the guesswork out of meal prep. There’s no tracking or calorie counting. Just add your own dinner, some veggies, and drink plenty of water throughout the day. It’s that simple.

The Program

Each new customer will purchase a starter pack, a 2-week initial supply of food for $198.00 + state tax & ground shipping to your location. Thereafter, you can order in weekly increments. The 2-week supply gets you 56 foods for about $14 per day. Not bad, considering a morning coffee alone will set you back about $5.

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Some of the meals from my first 2 weeks

Each day is pretty simple:

  • Choose 4 packaged foods, spaced throughout the workday
  • Add 2 cups of veggies at lunch
  • Eat a 4 oz serving of protein and 2 cups of veggies for dinner
  • Drink at least 64 oz of water
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Veggies are delish! Who loves my vintage plates??

Helpful Things to Know

  • This IS a diet program. If you follow it as recommended, you can lose 1-3 pounds a week.
  • There are a lot of restrictions for the weight loss phase – no sugar, starchy veggies, grains, wine, processed foods, etc. It’s in line with keto.
  • The program is designed to help you control 80% of your daily food choices.
  • Soups, meals, drinks, etc. come powdered. For some reason, I wasn’t expecting this, but everything is very portable and easy to prepare with just water.
  • You can still eat out and make healthy choices (salad w/ chicken, steak & steamed veggies, etc).
  • Feeling tired and achy at the start is normal because our bodies are so used to being fueled by a sugar rush at all hours of the day.
  • To ensure you’re seeing results, I’d recommend weighing weekly.
  • Always, always consult your doctor to make sure a new diet is safe for you. Meals are high protein, low carb, and low sugar, which could be a shock to your body if you’re not used to them.
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My favorite sloppy joes over spaghetti squash sauteed with bacon. Yum!

This program is for you if you:

  • work in an office setting
  • have a busy schedule
  • don’t have (or don’t care to) meal prep
  • have poor eating habits
  • need something quick to grab on the go
  • want to get healthy but just don’t know where to start
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Most of my meals during the week are eaten right here – at my desk.

Things I Loved

No program is perfect. And I’m sure there will be things I loved that others won’t and vice versa. I’m a pretty picky eater, so I wasn’t a fan of some of the foods. But this is actually built into the plan. The company knows that everyone won’t love everything. In fact, they even mention that customers will usually find 6-10 foods they love and repeat them for the weight loss phase of the program. Fortunately, I was able to find more than 10 things I was happy to eat more than once.

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Cream of chicken soup with a side salad for lunch.

Below are a few other things I really loved:

  • The Welcome Guide is a really helpful blueprint for success with the program. I used it as a quick reference whenever I needed a refresher.
  • I saw a weight reduction right away; I was down 3 lbs in the first 4 days.
  • There’s a great variety. A lot of the food choices were super yummy and easy for me to grab a bar on-the-go or sip soup out of a mug in a meeting.
  • The high-protein / high-fiber foods and eating schedule kept me full between meals.
  • If you’re not crazy about some of the meals, you can swap them.
  • If you’re not satisfied, there’s a 100% Money Back Guarantee (less shipping) within 15 days of purchase.

Things I Wasn’t Crazy About:

Anytime I write a review, it’s important that I share the truth with my readers so you won’t be swayed into trying something without all the facts. One of the toughest things for me was skipping my meal prep. By now you all know that I get a little crazy with Sunday Prep, even going so far as to plan everything out in Excel. It just works for my Type A personality.

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Tomato soup with sauteed veggies.

Below are a few more things that I wasn’t 100% crazy about:

  • Most items don’t have ingredients or nutritional facts on the package, but they are available online.
  • Carrots are not allowed (starchy veggie). They are such an easy and versatile veggie and one of my favorites.
  • I missed adding a mashed banana (fruit not allowed) to my morning oatmeal.
  • I like sweetening my foods with natural sugars like honey, maple syrup, and dates, but only artificial sweeteners are allowed.
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Making healthy choices outside of the box – Greek salad from the diner!

My Results

Halfway into week two, I was seeing great results and decided to extend the program another week. It was just too easy to pack my food for the day. During this time, I was “forced” to drink more water, eat more veggies, and resist the urge to grab unhealthy foods during the day. This was definitely helpful because it made me try new spices to flavor veggies, practice more self-control around some of my favorite foods, and gain a new appreciation for healthy dinners. I even bypassed cupcakes and apple cider doughnuts at the office (one of my favorite fall treats!).

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My performance has been on point. I didn’t even need pre-workout!

I was able to pinpoint a few veggies that don’t love me (cabbage, broccoli, and cauliflower), and I decided to remain decided to eat low carb, and high protein, fat, and veggie after the 21 days.

Overall, I lost 8.2 lbs during the 3 weeks of using Hello Healthy Box and working out 6 days a week. In addition, my energy levels are remaining high throughout the day and I’ve received so many comments about my clear and glowing skin!

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Sometimes I ate these chips for breakfast. Because, yum!

Bottom Line: The program really works if you follow it. It takes the guesswork out of what to eat during the workday and just makes life easier. I would recommend Hello Healthy Box to anyone who has been struggling with their weight and falls into one of the above categories. This may just be the answer you were looking for – it was for me!

Bonus: Use code Snacker25 to get $25 off your first box!!

LIIFT4 Sneak Peek!

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Photo property of Beachbody, LLC

DISCLOSURE: This post contains affiliate links. I will receive a commission if you purchase from Beachbody via my links. Please do not feel obligated to do so!

It feels like I’ve been waiting months to try LIIFT4. Oh wait. I have.

You see, the program actually did a soft launch in July and those who were dying to try it could purchase a challenge pack or a opt for a one-time BOD early access fee. I just decided to wait with the rest of the world and take full advantage of the FREE launch in October.

But the more I see the awesome results people have been getting from LIIFT4, the more I’m excited to try it for myself.

What, exactly, is LIIFT4?

An awesome combination of weight training and high-intensity cardio. It will get you shredded in record time. Over the course of eight weeks, you’ll workout 4 times a week for less than 40 mins a day. On off days you can choose another workout or swap in the two stretch workouts Joel has created. You’ll use weights and also have the option of resistance bands.

I was able to try out a sample LIIFT4 workout. It was fun, but definitely kicked my butt. But 30 minutes a day, 4 times a week? Count me in!

The Trainer

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Photo property of Beachbody, LLC

Joel Freeman – Elite personal trainer and co-creator of Core de Force. I would love the chance to meet Joel. He’s super motivational, down to earth, and makes the workouts fun.

Nutrition

Nothing’s a secret about the nutrition plan as of today – it’s all on BOD. You’ll use the Portion Fix Containers and can incorporate Shakeology and the Beachbody Performance Line. If you’re looking to build serious muscle, add more containers. It’s that easy! There’s also a vegan plan if you’re so inclined.

One thing that separates this program from the rest is the weekly optional cheat day. On Sunday (or another day before a working day) indulge in a brownie, beer, or even some Halo Top. Just don’t go overboard. Fun stuff!

It goes without saying, but make sure you are drinking plenty of water during the workouts and throughout the day – at least half of your body weight. It will cut down on hunger and keep you hydrated. You might even consider adding Beachbody Performance Hydrate into your routine (it’s like a healthier Gatorade). I also love Beachbody Performance Energize to get that jumpstart before the workout even begins.

Since the program is pretty rigid, Sunday meal prep will help you stay on track. Even if you just make meal starters to help you with dinners throughout the week, you will be one step ahead.

The Results

Right now this is one of the newest programs and it has a ton of hype surrounding it (like all Beachbody programs). Joel has even said you can “train hard, get results, and still have a life.” Now, that’s my kind of program. To be honest, it’s a challenge to fit in long workouts like in 80 Day Obsession

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Photo property of Beachbody, LLC

Bottom Line: Beachbody claims that LIIFT4 will transform your body in just 8 weeks. It’s a bold claim considering there are only 4 working days. However, participants are encouraged to do other workouts on off days. I’m thinking Country Heat and running will be good for me.  I approve of the the back-to-basics simple nutrition and workouts, and I’m hoping I love this just as much as SHIFT SHOP!

In all, I seriously can’t wait until October 1st!

 

 

I know you know, but I have to say it anyway…always consult your doctor before beginning an intense exercise, fitness, and/or diet program.

Visit teambeachbody.com for more information on programs or sign up for Beachbody On Demand to try out a sample LIIFT4 workout!

Back to Basics

DISCLOSURE: This post contains affiliate links. I will receive a commission if you purchase from Beachbody via my links. Please do not feel obligated to do so!

Anyone else sick of being sick and tired? Come on, raise your hands.

This time last year I was wrapping up my first round of Shift Shop, a mind-body workout program that would change the way I thought about exercise. I felt AMAZING afterward and even lost over six pounds and nine inches. That’s huge.

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Last year’s results.

Then, like it always does, life happened. I’m not sure how I lost my groove, but I did. Even though I was working out every day, I just wasn’t feeling it. I’d wake up, struggle through whatever program I was doing, and leave the house in a pretty foul mood.

Let That SHI(F)T Go

Last month I came back from vacation with a renewed sense of self, a greater appreciation for life, and a more positive outlook for the future. I was so tired of being jealous of other people’s accomplishments and progress and was looking for a fresh start.

I decided to turn to my good pal Chris Downing, creator of Shift Shop to help me get my groove back. It’s been the one program that produces consistently amazing results for me – when I stick with it. It challenges me to my absolute limits, but always lets me know that “I can do hard things.”

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I guess I really like these leggings…

For those not familiar with the program, the workouts follow a ramp-up schedule, which means each week they increase by time and intensity. The nutrition plan incorporates the Portion Fix containers ass a guide. A simple formula can help you figure out how many of each container you get per day. My plan is based on a 1,200-1,499 calorie diet.

K.I.S.S. (Keep it simple, sweetie)

This year I learned one of the most critical nutrition lessons: don’t let someone else dictate your meal plan. Everyone tells you how you “should do” this or “should try” that. It drives me freakin’ nuts. There’s keto and vegan and gluten-free and paleo…and I could be here all day listing all of the different diets and ways of eating.

Every source says they have the secret. They promise you’ll lose 10 pounds in 10 days or some other crap to get you to buy a book or a program. Meanwhile, on day two, you’re sitting on your couch eating mint chocolate chip ice cream out of the carton with a spoon. I can’t be the only one.

We overcomplicate everything instead of just taking a little time to see what works for us. Here’s how I found the right plan for me.

First, I had to identify the problem. For me, it was snacking at work. I’m a HUGE snacker (as if you couldn’t have guessed by the name). On the weekends I’m lucky if I even get in two full meals. But during the week? I’m scouting the vending machines for peanut m&ms, kettle chips, and pretzels.

Next, I had to understand why I always wanted to stuff my face. Boredom and stress are huge factors with this one, but so is being nutrient deficient. FYI honey nut cheerios is NOT part of a well-balanced breakfast.

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Shakes are just TOO easy.

Then, I had to build more satisfying meals. I decided to modify the Shift Shop meal plan to create something easier, affordable, and more sustainable.

My Secret Sauce

  • 4 substantial meals, instead of the suggested 6
  • All food eaten between 9 am and 7 pm (most days, anyway)
  • Purple (fruit) and yellow (carb) containers are limited to one per day, eaten before noon
  • Dairy limited as much as possible (some yogurt and cheese okay)

Here’s an example of a menu that keeps me FULL all day:

Meal 1: protein shake w/ veggies & fruit
Meal 2: two hard-boiled eggs, 1/2 sweet potato, cucumber & tomato salad
Meal 3: kale salad w/ tuna, and summer vinaigrette
Meal 4: chicken stir fry

The Power of Habit

It takes 21 days to form a habit, and it helps to have a set routine that you can commit to daily.

Each day I wake up between 5:00 and 5:10 am, shake up my pre-workout, and head downstairs to the gym. Depending on the length of my workout, I’ll have anywhere from 30-60 minutes to spend reading, meditating, or praying, while sipping my pre-workout. Then it’s time to bang out my workout, foam roll, shower, and get ready for the day.

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My daily devotional.

I absolutely love my routine and the quiet of it all. It helps me set good intentions for the day, and it’s something I can repeat daily.

Final Thoughts

Sometimes you just need to take a step back, assess where you are in life, and make some positive and lasting changes. When you arrive at a peaceful and grateful state, everything just feels…better. Of course, life will always have its ups and downs, but we’ll be in a better place to handle challenges. We only get one life, and it’s better when we’re happy.

If you’re interested in trying Shift Shop, click here.

Peace, Love, Zen

DS

Hey, I’m still here…

This post is months overdue, but it’s been a challenge to find the right words (even for a writer). Recently, I’ve been struggling with some things – both physically and mentally – and I just felt that if I couldn’t get my shit together, how could I possibly offer fitness or lifestyle advice with any semblance of authenticity?

So far my husband and I have had a summer full of beautiful experiences. We’ve traveled to California and Florida, camped in Upstate New York, rode our jet-ski around the Statue of Liberty, and went to the drive-in on at least three different occasions. We installed a hot tub in our backyard, put the final touches on our basement gym, and planned a few future renovations. I also perfected a cookie recipe, developed a matcha addiction, and have read over ten enlightening books since the beginning of May.

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Anyone else think of Full House when you see this?

Most people would think “wow, she’s living the dream!” am I right? Well, even with all of that good stuff, I’ve still felt empty, drained, unhappy, and stressed. I’ve had bouts of anxiety about being 28 years old without any real career direction or goals. I’ve struggled to do simple things like laundry. I’ve failed at so many fitness and nutrition programs. And don’t get me started on being too tired.

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Poolside in Rancho Mirage, CA

You see, there was no way in hell I could encourage someone to spend 2% of their day working out when I couldn’t even spend 1% washing the freakin dishes. I would have told myself off.

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Roughin’ in on a camping trip in Upstate NY

It’s so easy to look at social media and see all of the good things, the fun. When you’re feeling down, it looks like everyone else is having the time of their lives. Meanwhile, the black cloud is following me on every adventure and delightful moment. That, in itself, is so draining. But social media isn’t really meant to show the other side of things. Who really wants to stare at Debbie Downer all day?

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Fresh-squeezed orange juice in Miami, FL

So here I am telling you that nothing is ever going to be perfect. A picture is worth a thousand words, but how many are actually true? If you’re struggling with something too, know you’re not alone. Just keep swimming, keep on keeping on, keep trying to find something good in every day. It will get better.

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Lady Liberty herself. Look – no people!

If you need some extra encouragement, check out the Finding the Balance series I posted earlier in the year.

Look for me on Mondays again – I’ve got some catching up to do.

Peace, Love, Zen
DS