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Monthly Challenge 4.4: Food, fiction, & flowers

Hey friends! I hope you had a wonderful weekend! I think it was record high temperatures in L.A. yesterday for September – it was 106 where I was. Even with the heat, I had a great time exploring downtown LA for my last adventure challenge with my friend Ashley!

Ashley and I have been friends for about 5 years, and she always knows the coolest places to go to because she goes out all the time (vs. me, whose big plan for the weekend was finishing Stranger Things). Most of our conversations go like this:
Ash: Have you heard of/been to this new place in (insert location)? I went there last week and they have really good (insert food).
Me: Nope, I don’t go anywhere because a) I don’t know about any new cool places and b) my husband is a homebody.
Literally 99% of our conversations.

So Ashley was the perfect friend to bring along for my last adventure! It really was an adventure – I had a plan to go to a totally different market but when we discovered it would take about an hour and a half to get there, we decided to be spur of the moment and go to the Grand Central Market instead.

Grand Central, bright and noisy with all kinds of yummy smells, reminded me of the markets I used to go to when I studied abroad in London. It was mostly food places, so I had to walk around them all before deciding. After getting some delicious iced coffee, I settled on Eggslut, because I actually HAD heard of that before (from Ashley of course) and it was on my mental LA bucket list. I ordered their Fairfax sandwich, with chives, eggs, grilled onions, cheese, and spicy sauce. I regretted not getting bacon with it for some extra crunch, but I was not about to spend $2.50 on a strip or two of bacon. Even though I felt so full afterwards, it was a great lunch!

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Our next impromptu stop was the Last Bookstore, which was so cool. It definitely has an LA feel to it, bringing lots of different people together to buy, sell, or trade books, spend time in the book labyrinth upstairs or visit the art loft. There were so many different books about basically everything you could think of. I loved that it was a little unorganized and you could wander around for hours if you wanted. It reminded me a little bit of the Hogwarts Library. If you ever get the chance to visit, I would highly recommend it!

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Our last stop was the Flower Market, which I was so excited about because I love flowers! Even though we went at the end of the day, there was still a decent amount of flowers. I couldn’t believe how inexpensive they were! Ashley and I both got bouquets for $5 and I saw a dozen roses for $10! Our apartment smells wonderful now thanks to these lovely flowers.

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I had a blast getting out of the house this month exploring and going on adventures! It was so much fun trying new things and getting to spend time with friends. This next month I’m going to pick up one of my childhood hobbies, guitar!

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I’ll be practicing my guitar skills in preparation for my first challenge update! Stay tuned for my first update next week!

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Monthly Challenge 4.3: Chocolate Heaven

Hey friends! I had THE BEST adventure this last weekend. Even better than the dog cafe. I know, crazy. But my adventure was centered around one of my favorite things in life: chocolate. There’s people who like chocolate, and then there’s me. Chocolate is the way to my soul. Ask any one who semi-knows me.

Side story: A perfect example of my chocoholism is from two years ago when I went on a weekend trip to Brussels when I was studying abroad in London. My friends made the mistake great decision of letting me plan our itinerary for our second day, so I decided that of course, it would be chocolate-themed. We started off the day taking a tour at a chocolate museum/factory, then visited famous chocolatier Pierre Marcolini, had some hot chocolate at Ghirardelli’s, and stopped at Leonida’s for, you guessed it, more chocolate. My new friends quickly realized I don’t kid when it comes to chocolate. It was one of the best days of my life. But as far as chocolate consumption goes, this was a close second.

ChocXO Bean to Bar Factory

This past Friday, my coworker Deannah and I were fortunate enough to leave work early and take a tour at ChocXO in Irvine. It’s a bean to bar factory, so all the chocolate is made there. The tour was about 45 minutes, and surprisingly I learned so much about chocolate, even with the 3 tours I had taken in Europe! Here are a few highlights:

  • First, we learned that all cacao trees grow near the equator, even though Europe is known for its chocolate. The first use of cacao was by the Mayans and Azteces, who ground up the nibs into powder and mixed it with spices and water to make it into a drink. It was extremely bitter, but when the spanish conquistadors brought the beans  back to Europe and mixed it with sugar, it became much more widespread.
  • Cacao pods are actually fruit, and are orange or even purple. We got to try some of the fruit, and it actually didn’t taste too bad! While it may be a bit strange on its own, we both agreed it would taste great in a smoothie.
  • Next we got to try cocoa nibs, which are inside the fermented, roasted cocoa bean. They are pretty bitter and actually taste really nutty! And they are very good for you, apparently!
  • Cocoa liquor is the result of ground of cocoa nibs and is extremely bitter and acidic! The nibs have about 50% fat in them, similar to nuts, so when they are ground up they turn into a paste – cocoa liquor. Although it smells like chocolate, it definitely doesn’t taste like it!
  • After trying that, we learned that the “percentage” on chocolate bars represents the percentage of pure cocoa liquor. So a 70% dark chocolate bar has 70% cocoa liquor and the other 30% is pretty much all sugar! A 30% “milk” chocolate bar is about 70% sugar, so the “milk” part of it is really clever marketing to make it seem healthier, even if there is no milk in the bar at all. Dark chocolate is where it’s at!
  • The best part of the tour was getting to sample their amazing truffles at the end! They were beautiful. We got to split 6, so we tried raspberry, smoked sea salt caramel, grand mariner, creme brulee, and spicy pb&j. They were all. so. good. I was totally in heaven.

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After our tasting, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to get some more amazing chocolate, so I got a box of truffles (I made them last until writing this – I know, impressive) and a little bar. Thankfully Deannah got some cocoa nibs to snack on at the office. My text to Matt afterwards said: “I spent less than $12 on chocolate, aren’t you proud of me?”

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I hope you enjoyed reading about my chocolate adventure at ChocXO! If you’re in the LA area, I highly recommend taking a tour! Then you can be in chocolate heaven, too. Stay tuned for my last adventure next week!

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Monthly Challenge 4.2: LA Dog Cafe & Getty Museum

Hey friends! This past weekend, I got to explore downtown LA! Both Matt and I had a pretty nasty cold this week, so by the time Saturday came around I NEEDED to get out of the house. Matt was a trooper and came with me to two things I have been wanting to do in LA for a long time: the Dog Cafe and the Getty Museum.

The Dog Cafe

As some of you know, I desperately want to have a dog. Sadly our apartment is too small to have one (as Matt frequently reminds me when I suggest it), so I was very excited to learn I could spend some time playing with some at LA’s first Dog Cafe! After ordering delicious rose lemonade in the cafe, we went next door and spent an hour playing with about 15 dogs. All of the dogs at the cafe are up for adoption, so you can imagine how hard it was for me not to take one home. There was quite an assortment of dogs, with many different breeds, ages, sizes, and personalities. There were three small ones that were especially playful and spent almost the whole time all fighting over one toy, which was pretty hilarious. There were Mac and Cheese, two lab/pit bull brothers that were incredibly sweet. There was April, the extremely shy but lovable boxer. It was such a fun experience and I was so happy to finally get to play with some dogs!

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The Getty

After the dog cafe, we drove over to the Getty Museum! The Getty sits on top of a hill, so it has a great view of LA below. Once we got there, we explored a few of the different buildings, each with different themes. My favorite exhibit was one featuring Bibles and pages of scripture with beautiful elaborate drawings and lettering with gold foil. They were amazing! Although the art was great, the best part for me was the garden. I LOVE flowers and was very excited to see that they had dahlias everywhere! We hit the garden right before sunset, so it was a perfect time to go.

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I had a great time crossing some things off my LA bucket list! Special shoutout to my wonderful husband who tagged along even though he wasn’t feeling that great. I have a keeper for sure! I hope you are inspired to go adventure and visit somewhere that you have been wanting to for a while! I’m very excited for my next adventure which includes one of my favorite things in life. So stay tuned for next week’s update!

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Monthly challenge 4.1: Arizona Road Trip

Hey friends! I hope you all had a wonderful Labor Day weekend. Mine worked out really well for my adventure challenge, because we ended up planning a last minute road trip to visit my sister at school in Phoenix! I was able to do not one, but two fun adventures there, with lots of other fun memories in between.

After driving for about 6 hours, we spent the evening touring her school and going out to eat at this cute little ice cream place called Melt. They serve ice cream in Chinese takeout boxes with a fortune cookie, how cute is that? It was also fun to walk around downtown, since it’s famous for its graffiti art.


After visiting her church the next morning, we headed out to Sedona to visit Devil’s Bridge. We walked about a mile to get to the trailhead, and another mile to get to the top. The end had some pretty steep rocks to climb, but thankfully they were flat and stair-like. I thought I had put in my hiking time for the year this last month, but apparently not. I can’t complain too much, because it really wasn’t that bad of a hike and the views were totally worth it! Around every corner there were amazing canyon views that reminded me of how creative God is.

When we finally reached the bridge, it felt like a little piece of heaven. My sister Meleah and I scrambled out and sat down on the edge immediately (which was only slightly terrifying) and then Matt came and joined, too. It was so beautiful! We went right around sunset so the lighting was perfect. The trek back, however, was pretty dark and I was just a little nervous about coyotes and unseen scorpions that might be in the trail. But like true adventurers we didn’t turn on our flashlight the whole time and somehow none of tripped on a huge rock. #win

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After a good night’s sleep, we woke up the next morning to go to Paniq, a place with three different escape rooms! We did the Wild West room and had an hour to get out. It was so fun! We first started out in a jail cell and had to get two keys to get into the next room, which was the sheriff’s office. After getting more keys we entered the saloon, which involved a jenga puzzle with loose pieces, a maze puzzle, clues with overlaying pieces to complete words, and putting bottles in the right order to get a code to open a hole in the wall. Our last room contained a poker table with a magnetic poker piece to drag a key through a maze to find our key to get out! We finished the whole thing in 37 minutes, so we felt pretty proud of ourselves. I definitely recommend trying it out if you have one in your city!


Our time in Arizona was super fun, and worth all the traffic on the drive back to LA. Partially because I slept for most of it while my sweet husband drove🙂. Stay tuned to see what adventure I do next week!

 

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Friday Favorites 9.16

Hi friends! Not only is it Friday, but it’s a long weekend! Time to celebrate with some Friday Favorites🙂

Dessert: Extra Slutty Brownies

If you read my latest challenge post, you know that I celebrated the end of the fitness challenge with the ultimate baked dessert – extra slutty brownies. What is an extra slutty brownie, you ask? Let me explain. Prepare to drool. The first layer is cookie, topped with oreos, smothered in caramel and finished with gooey brownie on top. It’s perfect when you need to bring something to a party, or to eat just by yourself as a little pick-me-up!

Music: Have It All, Bethel Live

Thanks to my sister, I got this album a few weeks ago and I love it. Lately I’ve been super disappointed with Christian music on the radio. It’s just so cheesy. If you haven’t seen this hilarious video circulating facebook about Christian music these days, take a look. This Bethel Live album has been so refreshing the past few weeks. It really feels like you are at a concert while listening to it, and the songs have a lot of depth to them. If you’re looking for some new music, check it out!

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Entertainment: VidAngel

You guys. This is by far the coolest find of the month. I often wondered why we still have redbox or video rental stores in the age of streaming, and also why renting movies online through itunes or elsewhere is so dang expensive. $1 to pick up a movie or $4 to stream online? It does not compute. So I was PUMPED why my coworker told me about this website where you can essentially rent movies to stream for $1! I thought it was too good to be true, but it’s totally legit. I may or may not have used it every weekend since I heard about it (I definitely did). On top of it being super cheap, they have a huge selection (sorry, Netflix, you just don’t cut it anymore) AND if you want to watch a movie without all the sex, language, and violence, you have tons of options to take out all the bad stuff you don’t want to watch! Basically you “buy” a movie for $20 and edit out whatever you want, then sell it back for $19 in 24 hours. Definitely check it out!

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Book: Present over Perfect, Shauna Neiquist

This is only my second Shauna Neiquist read, but count me in on the Shauna bandwagon. I was fortunate to pick up this brand new release at a conference and am LOVING it. She puts into words so many things that are a struggle to over-achievers, perfectionists, the responsible ones, people that can “do it all.” The book is about being present rather than perfect, saying no when you need to, realizing you actually can’t do it all. She is so honest and raw – it is such a refreshing book! I think it will be one of the most impactful books I’ll read this year. Please pick up a copy, you won’t regret it!

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Food: Chop’d

Chop’d is a new healthy restaurant is not too far from where I work and fortunately my boss just took our whole staff there for department lunch! It. Was. So. Good. I’m not really into those super healthy organic places, but this place was amazing. You could get any salad you want made into a wrap and they had tons of sandwiches, acai bowls, and smoothies to choose from. And on top of it, you pay by the ounce, so you don’t have to get anything huge if you don’t want to, or you can make it more substantial. I will definitely be going there again!

Hope you guys enjoyed my September Friday favorites! Stay tuned for my first adventure challenge update! I’m thinking it will be a good one with the long weekend🙂

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Monthly Challenge 3.5: Cue “Chariots of Fire”

Hey friends! I’ve reached it – the end of my most difficult challenge yet. To recap, earlier this month I set some insane fitness goals that included me working out 11 times a week and basically having no life. Surprisingly I stuck with it a week and a half before realizing that’s crazy for a lazy couch potato like me to go from 0 to 60 in that short amount of time. So I readjusted my goals a bit and kept pressing on. Before I reveal if I was able to make my goals or not, I want to share a few things I’ve learned while doing this fitness challenge.

  • Fitness is a lot about balancing between telling yourself to get off the couch and staying consistent and being a crazy person and spending (what felt like) every ounce of spare time working out like I tried to do.
  • Sometimes the important thing is not what you achieve, but the fact that you tried.
  • Give yourself grace when you fail, readjust, and then get back up again.
  • Comparison never helps anyone. Find what you love to do and do it. Don’t feel guilty for not being good at something that someone else is good at. As Matt (sarcastically) says to me often, “You do you, boo boo.”
  • Laugh at yourself. My coworker who runs a ton busted up when I proudly told her I ran a mile the other day, and I joined her. I know it’s ridiculous, but you gotta celebrate the little things in life.

Now that I’ve passed on my golden nuggets of wisdom that I’ve learned this month, here is my final update on my goals:

✔️ Lunges: 2 sets of 50 reps
✔️ Sit-ups: 2 sets of 50 reps
✔️ Mountain climbers: 2 sets of 50 reps
✔️ Plank: 2 minutes – TWO MINUTES PEOPLE
✔️ Push-ups: 10 REAL pushups
✔️ Squats: 2 sets of 50 reps
✔️ Water Intake: 3 liters of water (my goal was 2)
✔️ Nike Workouts: 7 nights
✔️ Gym/track nights: 8 nights
✔️ Mile time: Goal was 11 minutes but I RAN IT IN 10:30!

By far, the hardest goal for me was the mile time. But I was able to go from not even being able to run 1/8 of a mile to running it in less than 11 minutes. It may seem insignificant to most, but to me it was a huge victory. Hence why I played Chariots of Fire and We Are the Champions on the ride home. #Ihadto

Finally I can take down this crazy fitness calendar I made. 

Even though I really wasn’t looking forward to this challenge, I’m glad I did it. No, I didn’t have perfect form and didn’t always give 110%, but I stuck with it the whole month and kept going. And for that, I will eat my reward slutty brownies (cookie, oreo, caramel, brownies) and celebrate that I made it to the finish line.

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Next month, my challenge will be adventure! I’ll be making outings every week doing things that are on my L.A. bucket list and exploring the city. I can’t wait! Check back for my first update next Tuesday and don’t miss my Friday Favorites! See you then!

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Monthly Challenge 3.4: Racing towards the finish line

 Hey friends! In case you missed last week’s post about giving grace to yourself, check it out. I gained some self-awareness and reset my goals a little bit so they were more reasonable. After that, I was sure that this week would be more manageable and I had the best of intentions to keep chugging along. But then life happened. We had so much crammed in this last week of summer – Matt’s birthday, a concert, wedding and bachelorette parties, and our last weekend road trip to San Diego – that it was hard to find the time to work out!

Unfortunately all these activities made me oversleep on Thursday morning and then on Friday and Saturday morning I wasn’t feeling well so I didn’t want to push it by working out. Sometimes being healthy means knowing your boundaries, amiright? Anyways, I do think I should get extra props for working out the morning of Matt’s birthday and making him breakfast. #wifepoints

Tuesday, Wednesday, and Monday mornings I continued with my workout, getting up to two sets of 43 reps for each exercise, 1 minute 45 for planks, and 8 mostly legit pushups. I’m so close to my goals! I was able to do 1 Nike workout in the midst of the craziness last week that ended up being about half an hour. And last night I ran around the track with a mile time of 11 minutes 45 seconds with one short break! Pray that I can actually make it to my mile time as I try again this week!

Guest Spotlight: Jaelyn Harrel

Jaelyn and her husband Josh and I have been friends since we all went to the same youth group in high school! It has been so fun to watch her journey of becoming a wife and mom, and now health coach! She has a really inspiring story, so I encourage you to connect with her on facebook here!

Q: Why is fitness so important to you?
A: This is a great question! I think my fitness is important to me because my health is so important to me. Most people don’t know this, but when I was losing weight the most exercise I did was walking and low impact activities (yoga, pilates, and day-to-day increase of calories). And let me tell you, back then fitness felt like a chore. I would walk away so sore, defeated (because I couldn’t complete all the exercises like the other girls), and so tired and hungry that I would just go and add back the calories I just burned. There are so many things I am able to do now 95 lbs lighter that I couldn’t ever have dreamed of doing before. Fitness actually gives me that feel good feeling right after and encourages me to continue fueling my body right throughout the rest of the day! Until I experienced what a difference nutrition AND exercise could have on my body I had no idea what I was missing. Fitness is a huge part of how I maintain a healthy lifestyle and feel good day in and day out.

Q: What helps you stay motivated?
A: This is the biggest question I get asked from other people. It might seem simple, but it’s a little thing called MY WHY! Your WHY is the most powerful thing you can discover for yourself. This is what fuels me in the morning to make healthy decisions even when it’s easier to not. Truth is, there are going to be days where you want to eat your weight in chocolate or you don’t want to go to the gym because of a plethora of different reasons and that’s where your WHY is so critical to your success in your health. I want to be healthy because I want to be the best wife, mom, and friend that I can be to those around me! We all deserve to feel our best and to live our best life each day. I know that when I fuel my body with the right foods, strengthen my body, and serve others around me to do the same in their lives, I feel most fulfilled, and when my cup is full others get the best of me. So I would encourage you ask yourself these questions next time you are having a hard time getting your butt to the gym or struggling with the drive through!

Q: What are a few of your favorite exercises?
A: This is a tough one! I really like different forms of exercise because of the different things they do for my body. Personally I’m a class girl myself. At first I wasn’t, but I found that in classes I got out of my comfort zone and discovered so many things I love. Through the structure of the classes I was able to push myself harder (I’m a little A LOT competitive) and work parts of my body I never would have been able to work before. So here are a few of my favs:

  • DANCE FITNESS! Just try dancing you heart out for 3 classes (I say 3 because the first time you are just going to feel awkward, but as you get to know the choreography you get in your groove) I promise not only will you body thank you but there is something amazing about doing something that makes you uncomfortable and self conscious and then realizing that no one is watching you! This is a great way to get cardio in and have a blast!
  • BARRE! Check out where you can take a local barre class. Barre is ballet-focused exercise and if you’ve ever seen a ballerina’s body and was envious (me!), you want to take barre! It’s a great exercise regiment that focuses on exhausting important muscle groups for women (legs, butt, and arms). Again this one will make you feel awkward the first time you do it, but take off your shoes (you can also buy special barre shoes) and enjoy the results when you have that booty you always wanted!

Q: What’s your favorite healthy recipe?
A: I have too many to count! It would have to be Cauliflower pizza. Super high in protein but doesn’t taste like cauliflower at all! They key is making the best consistency in the crust and this is the best recipe I’ve found for home made cauliflower crust! You also can purchase them at some Trader Joes stores now which is awesome! The best part is you can mimic pretty any pizza flavor you want! Usually my husband and I like to make thai chicken pizzas or even the classic bbq chicken pizza!

Q: Any other tips on staying healthy/fitness? 

  • WATER! If you only change one thing in your health routine from this post drink your water! Recommended daily amount of water is half of your body weight in oz of water (for example 140lbs means 70oz water/day) and this is straight up water! You can add things to it if you want, but remember everything you add can take away from the benefit of what that water can do! Don’t get me wrong I don’t just drink water (I’m a mom for goodness sake coffee is my jam!) but I always make sure I get my water in for the day no matter what! My skin is clearer than ever and you will be amazed at the de-bloating that will happen when you just apply this simple health tip!
  • COMMUNITY IS KEY! Surround yourself with people who will encourage you to be better each day. We are 10 times more likely to be healthy if we surround ourselves with people who hold health as a high priority! Make sure people know about what your health goals are so they can support you and help make you more successful and in turn themselves.

Thank you for letting me share just a little bit more about health and wellness with you guys! If you ever want get in touch, find me on FB or call/text 5033472764 and I would be honored to help you live your best life.

Thanks for sticking with me in my fitness journey friends! This week I’m going to keep pushing hard to meet my goals, so keep me in your thoughts and prayers! Stay tuned for next week to see if I made it!

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Monthly Challenge 3.3: Grace to fail

Hey friends! Thanks for checking back on my fitness progress. This week, it got real, and in the hopes of inspiring you I want to share my struggle.

Tuesday through Thursday morning went as planned, with me drinking water regularly, increasing my workouts in the morning, and doing my workouts at night. The Nike ones were pretty brutal this week. I was halfway through my workout Thursday night when I finally cracked. It felt inevitable, after going from not exercising at all to working out 11 times a week. I was determined, but miserable.

I knew this challenge wouldn’t be easy for me in lots of ways – it’s physical, it’s a big time commitment, and I really don’t enjoy it. What I didn’t realize was that this challenge would take an emotional toll on me as well. While I did dance and cheerleading for much of my life, I never did any “real” sports. I found much of my identity in everything but exercise – being an A student, choir, drama, art, church. Many of my friends love sports and almost everyone I know loves working out or at least doing outdoorsy things like hiking. Not me. I never could relate and always felt lesser when comparing myself to them, because it seems everyone in my life likes at least some part of that world.

It all came out when my sweet husband came out in the middle of my workout and told me I was doing a great job. I immediately burst into tears, because I fundamentally just felt like a big failure. I wasn’t doing a great job, I wasn’t seeing improvement, and I knew that I would probably never ever in my life enjoy or be good at this. The perfectionist in me was running myself into the ground because I told the internet I would do it, dang it.

After I calmed down a bit, I had to face the fact that for me this challenge is much more than another hobby to try. It’s also a challenge in giving myself grace when I fail and when I feel less than. Yes, God desires for me to live a healthy lifestyle and to take care of my body. But he also didn’t create me with a love for running, or hiking, or climbing stairs. And I have to hold both of those things together. I have to keep going and pushing myself, but I need to give myself grace so that when I fail, I can take a breather and then get back up again.

And that’s exactly what I did. After a short break, I ended up hiking Crystal Cove for Matt’s birthday on Saturday. I did the hike a few years ago and remember it being pretty difficult! It was pretty rough up a steep incline at one part, but overall I had much better stamina than the last time. Although it wasn’t necessarily a fun experience, I did feel encouraged that I didn’t totally feel like I was going to die, like I usually do on hikes.

So in an effort to be more realistic, I have adjusted my goals a bit! I will still workout in the morning 5 days a week, with the goal of 2 sets of 50 lunges, situps, squats and mountain climbers, a 2 minute plank, and 10 real pushups. I will workout four nights a week, 2 with Nike Training and 2 either dancing or on the track. I changed my mile goal to under 11 minutes, based on the fact that even though I just ran 75% of a mile (yay!) it was close to 13 minutes.

To all of you readers who feel like you can’t do something, whether it’s exercise or not, I encourage you to keep trying! Set new goals, keep going, and give yourself grace when you fail. See you next week!

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Monthly Challenge 3.2: Staying Alive

Hey friends, thanks for checking back for my first fitness update! Here is a sort of journal about how the week went. Enjoy!

Tuesday:

After waking up at 6, I did the morning workout but immediately felt sore afterwards and I knew it would be a long week ahead.

That night I did my first Nike Training workout, which was a test to see how fast I could complete a set of reps. I did reps of 20,  15, 10, and 5 of push-ups, burpees, and squat jumps. Although I was able to complete them, I have to admit I laid on the floor several times in near-hyperventilation. My face was bright red and I wondered again why the heck I am doing this. But according to my husband my muscles aren’t bad, I just don’t have good lungs! So hopefully we can fix that.

 

Wednesday:

Already sore from yesterday’s workouts, it was difficult to get up early and do it all over again. But I did, and increased each exercise by 5, so that’s progress! The school’s track was closed that evening, so Matt and I went to a nearby park to walk/run a mile. He quickly assumed the role of “motivational coach,” which was mostly helpful because I don’t think I would have pushed myself as hard, but it was also slightly annoying because I REALLY hate running. Not gonna lie, I felt pretty pathetic that I probably only ran about 1/3 of the mile and I’m supposed to run a full mile under nine minutes at the end of the month. No idea how that is going to happen.

Thursday:

This was when I really started feeling sore and had to push through the pain. I again increased my morning workout by 5 (yay) but the 30 minute Nike workout kicked my butt. It had a variety of exercises, some easier and some really hard. I probably did about 70% of it in all honesty, because at the end I just couldn’t. Thankfully the last few minutes was just stretching, my favorite part.

Friday:

Friday morning I did almost 5 more of everything in my morning workouts before I met up with my mom and sister for breakfast on their way back down to school in Arizona. That afternoon, I spent the majority of the afternoon attempting to learn this amazing dance to J Bieb’s Sorry by Matt Steffanina. I wanted to do something challenging, and back when I danced often I probably would’ve learned it pretty quickly. I learned probably about 80% of it, but the dance is so fast and complex at the end that it was difficult to master all the nuances. I definitely want to keep working on it and hopefully by next week I’ll have it down!

Saturday:

I woke up and did the same exercises as the day before with basically 0 desire to do so. But I did it! Honestly I just wanted to get it all over with so I could rest until Monday!

Monday:

I wanted to push myself a little more, so I did 45 lunges, sit-ups, mountain climbers, and squats, with 15 real pushups and a 1 minute plank! It was also the day I bumped up my water intake to 1.5 liters. I was able to tolerate it because I made some yummy strawberry basil flavored water inspired by these beautiful infused waters. Unfortunately I didn’t make it to the gym before it closed, but I was able to still do stairs on our parking structure (25 flights to be exact – yay me!). I also combined it with my track night, as I won’t be able to do my workout on Wednesday. I did one mile on the track with walking the rounds and running the long stretches. I did feel a little improved compared to last week! But I didn’t feel wonderful after that workout, let me tell you.

Guest Spotlight: Wendy Luikart 


Wendy has been a family friend for years and recently became a health coach at Beachbody! So I picked her brain about health and fitness!

Q: Why is fitness important to you?
A: Fitness became important to me initially because I wanted to feel better about myself. I complained year after year, but did nothing with lasting results. In January I found the right plan and the right support system… I slept better, had a sense of purpose, reduced my stress, and built new relationships. Finally!

Q: What helps you stay motivated?
A: I am not self-motivated (for any length of time over a week). My biggest source of consistency is having accountability partners and someone to work out with occasionally. I also love challenge groups where we do a video series in our own homes and talk through FB.

Q: What are your favorite exercises?
A: My favorite exercises involve videos or classes that are 30 min or less. I love Kickboxing, Body Combat, and Body Pump the most.

Q: What is your favorite healthy recipe?
A: My favorite healthy recipe? I just plain love food. Omelets, or oats with yogurt and fruit are my breakfast go-to’s. I’m crazy about making all kinds of Shakeology drinks, and I love BBQ veggies and meat. If you can’t tell, I’m not into taking too much time to prep food!

Q: Any other tips on staying healthy?
A: So many people looking to improve their fitness and overall health aren’t in the habit of finding time to work out and eat healthy. They say that they are incredibly busy, knowing they need to do something to get healthy, but feel unsure about their ability to fit it into their schedule. In short, they are afraid to commit. Everything about Beachbody is designed to help make fitness more convenient and effective for people in just this situation. As a coach I now help busy people get fit, reduce stress and have more freedom to enjoy life. For the ones interested, I train & mentor them in building their own online business and being a part of my team. Leading by example, helping others achieve their goals, and having fun along the way is how I plan to change the world around me one story at a time!

If you have questions for Wendy about fitness, feel free to email her at gluikart@aol.com!

Thanks for sticking with me the first week of this challenge! This is going to be a hard month, but hopefully all the work will be worth it! If you’re doing the challenge with me, I’d love to know about your progress, too. See you next week!

 

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Friday Favorites 8.16

Hey friends, welcome to round 3 of Friday favorites! This month’s is going to be vacation themed, since I just got back from a fun vacation in my hometown, Portland, Oregon! I had a blast going home with Matt and we even got to go to our first family reunion together (mine). It was a packed ten days, but such a nice break!

Downtown Portland

Where do I even begin? I love Portland. All the downtown districts, each with their own personality, the amazing coffee and food, and how naturally beautiful it is. I never truly appreciated Oregon’s beauty until I lived in LA for a few years, and now I really miss it. I spent a good chunk of one of my first days there traversing all the old places with most of my besties, and it was just good for my soul. Our first stop was La Provence for brunch, a cute french restaurant a few minutes outside of Portland. They have the best banana french toast! Then we drove downtown to visit Powell’s, the famous bookstore, and I got a book to help with one of my upcoming challenges as well as a fun book to read! Afterwards we walked along NW 23rd, home of the famous Salt and Straw. None of us locals wanted to wait in the crazy line that went around the block, so we did the smart thing and got two pints of ice cream to eat on the curb outside. The next day my sister Meleah and I took my cousins who were visiting from North Carolina to Nectar, our favorite affogato/fro yo place. Meleah and I have it down to a T – we always split a fro yo because they have great toppings and share a large affogato. It’s the best. I was bummed I didn’t get to visit any food carts, but that’s what next time is for, I guess!

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Yachats Beach Family Vacation

For five days of our trip, Matt and I were at a family reunion at the beach – with 18 people in one house! We’d never been to Yachats, but in typical Oregon coast fashion it was pretty cloudy and cold the whole time we were there, with an extra dose of crazy beach wind. Our house was just a few yards away from the ocean with just rocks in between. It was a pretty amazing view, which was nice since we were inside most of the time! Good thing we had lots of fun family games to play and I had a good book to read. We did have fun going to the Sea Lion caves, visiting Thor’s mouth (basically a huge hole in the beach rocks that fills and empties with the waves), and going on a crazy dune buggy ride! That was the best part of the whole trip. It felt like a roller coaster, but you had no idea what the driver  was going to do next. My cousin and I were screaming in the back having the time of our lives, even though sand was flying everywhere. We learned later that we were going over 400 foot sand dunes at 65 mph. I secretly kind of wanted the dune buggy to flip over as we went around a turn, but it didn’t happen. I would highly recommend it to anyone who has the chance!

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So. Windy.

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Almost all the grandkids!

Fun family games to play!

  1. Spoons. Always a classic, and with my family it gets real intense real quick. I made the mistake of playing with plastic knives with a friend once, and I learned my lesson real quick when I accidentally cut his finger as I yanked the knife out of his hand. #imnotcompetitiveatall
  2. B.S. Britney Spears. Baloney sandwich. Whatever you call it, it’s a great poker face game. I learned there are lots of little liars in my family with this game!
  3. Exploding kittens. It’s a very random game based on different cartoon cats that remind me of the show adventure time (which I find creepy.) But it’s a really fun, lighthearted yet suspenseful game to play with friends!
  4. Spyfall. This is my new favorite game.  It’s similar to mafia – the premise of this online game is that everyone is assigned a role at a specific location, like the movie theater, for example, except for the spy. Players have 8 minutes to ask questions to figure out who the spy is, and for the spy to convince everyone they are not the spy while trying to figure out where everyone is. Everyone in our family loved it, from grandma and grandpa to aunts and uncles to all the cousins. We spent hours playing it.

Vacation books

Me Before You, by JoJo Moyes. It just came out as a movie, but I wanted to read the book before watching it. I started reading it two weeks before vacation, which was kind of a mistake because I was so into it I finished 2/3 of it the first week. So I made myself stop and not read it until I got on the plane to come home. But I knew I would finish it on vacation, so I picked up the second book, After You, while I was at Powell’s. I’m so glad I did! My cousin stole the first book at the beach house and started reading at the same time as me, but she finished in less than two days. It is THAT good. It’s the story of a british girl in her late twenties who gets laid off and finally lands a job as the caretaker of a young, witty yet moody quadriplegic guy. Although it’s an uncomfortable job at first, eventually she worms her way into his life despite his best attempts to put her off, and her life is changed as well because of him. The books are well-written and a breeze to read through – perfect for summer!

More food, family, and fun

On our last day at home, all the family who were still in town went to the Bollywood Theater for Indian food, which is amazing. They have the best Chai tea. We came last summer when our family was visiting, too, I hope it becomes a tradition! Then we stopped by Late Shake, a pop-up milkshake shop that my cousin Taylor started a few blocks away. It was pretty amazing. The freckled woodblock mocha was the bomb. If you’re ever in Portland, check him out! Finally, we ended up back at my house watching Eddie the Eagle (a fun underdog story) outside on our projector. It was a great way to end such a fun week.

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Did you have any fun vacations this summer? What were your highlights? Leave a comment below! And if you’re ever in the Portland area, your girl here knows just the places you should go! I hope you enjoyed getting a little taste of my Oregon Vacation. See you next Tuesday for an update on my fitness challenge!

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