Hope

Hope, such a simple yet powerful word with so many meanings to different people. It’s so important to have hope in our lives. If we didn’t have any hope for the future, what would we be living in the present for?

When I think of this word, I think of positivity and future. Sometimes I am just plain tired and that plays with my hope a bit but I manage to keep my hope high somehow by reminding myself that what I am feeling in the moment is only temporary… Tomorrow is a new and fresh day, full of possibilities and I can shape it in any way I feel like.

Hope pushes me to move forward. Hope gives me a reason to move forward. Whenever things aren’t going according to plan, I shift focus and remember that if I keep trying hard and doing my best, I will get where I want to go… or somewhere even better! That hope keeps me alive and happy in the moment.

In my opinion, it’s ideal to live in the present while looking to the future at the same time… and hope gives me the chance to practice this daily. I have hope that the future that it holds amazing things for me. I am confident in myself to make things happen, but I also know that wherever life takes me is where I’m meant to be. So I will just keep being me, keep holding onto hope for the future, and stay as positive as I can no matter what life throws at me.

What does the word hope conjure up in your mind? What do you have hope for?

~Bonnie~

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30 Before 30 List

On my birthday I came upon a blog post of someone mentioning a “30 before 30 list.” It intrigued me because I had just turned 27 and I knew I could accomplish so much in a few years. I realize most people must be a year away from their thirtieth birthday to do this list but it seemed like I was meant to make one just for fun since I’d found the post on my actual birthday.

30 before 30 list

So here is my list:
1. Complete a 5K run!
2. Complete a 10K run.
3. Tinker Bell half marathon in May 2016 (already signed up now the goal is to finish!)
4. Two Cities Marathon in my hometown in November 2016.
5. Participate in a Color Run.
6. Participate in a Glow Run.
7. Boston Marathon (maybe) in 2017 or 2018.
8. Move back to California!
9. Run for a charity.
10. Adopt a dog.
11. Make a full time income with my business so that I can be financially independent.
12. Go on a vacation just to work on my writing, particularly the books I want to write.
13. Publish my first eBook or printed book.
14. Travel to another country.
15. Visit at least one of the following for the first time: New York, Florida, Washington DC, and/or South Carolina.
16. Read through the whole Odd Thomas series by Dean Koontz.
17. Wear a sundress for the first time as an adult.
18. Get my driver’s license.
19. Buy my first car.
20. Travel in a superliner room on an Amtrak train (been a dream of mine for quite a while now).
21. Go up to the sky deck of the Willis (Sears) Tower.
22. Visit where the World Trade Centers were.
23. Reach a 80% healthy eating percentage steadily!
24. Pay off my debts to improve my credit score.
25. Build up credit otherwise.
26. Make a livable income from my new business.
27. Reach a 10 or less minute mile while running.
28. Work up to 10lb dumbbells for my strength training.
29. Do a book tour, probably self funded.
30. Buy my own house (really dreaming here lol).

Some of these are mere dreams. Some will almost definitely happen, others may be exceeded, and the rest may never happen… but it was fun constructing this list! It helps me to look forward to the future with my current goals and what is important to me!

~Bonnie~

Motivation Monday- Reach for the Stars

Follow your dreams.
Follow your dreams.

Life is short, and we only live once. There’s no reason to put off our dreams until later. So reach for the stars! No one is stopping you but you.

Write those dreams down, commit them to yourself on paper. Then make a plan and take a leap! You won’t know how much you are capable of until you give it a try. There will likely be quite a bit of trial-and-error involved, and a lot of reevaluating and adjusting as you go along but keep moving forward no matter what!

If you have the drive to succeed and the willingness to put in the necessary work, you will get there with time. Never give up on trying to find what works. There is always a way to get what you want and sometimes just involves just finding a way to accomplish it.

Be happy, do what you love!
Be happy, do what you love!

Recently I have started indulging in dreams that are bigger than anything I had ever even considered before, such as running a half marathon in May and possibly a full marathon six months later. Not to mention pursuing my dream of working from home while juggling all of my other responsibilities. This last one has been one of my dreams as long as I can remember but I never thought of it as a true possibility, I just fantasized about it. Now I know I have it in me and I just have to find a way to do so and keep trying until I figure it out.

Remember, you can scream and you can cry but never, ever, give up! If it matters to you then it’s worth pursuing and making it work for you! You really can do it!

~Bonnie~

Steady Saturday- Hurdles and Roadblocks to Weight Loss

There is always a detour... find another way!
There is always a detour… find another way!

Whether we like it or not, there will always be something attempting to get in our way. Hurdles and roadblocks will come at us from all angles at times. We have to be resolved to not let anything stop us!

That saying, where there’s a will there’s a way, is perfect. If we are resolved to make our new lifestyles work for us and to never give up on getting healthier, we will find a way to get us through.

Let out those feelings of frustration in a constructive way and then set to work searching for a way to get through or around the hurdle. There is always some way to make it work for you and to come out the other side stronger than ever. Sometimes there’s no way around it at first and those are the times you will learn something you wouldn’t otherwise get a chance to learn. I know this from experience as I’ve had quite a few of them and there is always something I learn from it. I wouldn’t be where I am in my journey if it weren’t for my trials. So in that way, I appreciate my own obstacles.

Obstacle course.
Obstacles.

Next time you are faced with a hurdle, take a deep breath, release the frustration, and then find a way to use it to your advantage. Get through it as soon as you can if possible. If you can’t get through it somehow or it takes a while to do so, start figuring out what you are meant to learn from it. I guarantee there is something valuable to be learned each time, no matter how hard it is to discover. Either way, remember how strong and triumphant you will feel on the other side. It is an awesome feeling!

Obstacles may be unavoidable, but they are truly useful experiences. Believe in your ability to triumph and keep pushing forward whenever something appears in your path!

~Bonnie~

Thriving Thursday- Establishing a Lifestyle Change

Exercise
Exercise

You’ve heard it before, likely too many times to count, that in order for your weight loss to stick you need to establish a lifestyle change. I’m here to tell you that this is absolutely true. Weight loss will not magically make it to where you can eat whatever you want or chuck exercising once you reach your goal weight. You will need to continue with these new habits you’ve created for yourself for the rest of your life. That’s not to say that you will have to exercise at the rate and intensity or restrict your calories as much as you have been to lose weight, but you will still need to keep your habits going.

“Lifestyle change” sounds so cliché to most of us by now. We see and hear it everywhere as we immerse ourselves in our weight loss efforts. I know it sounds cliché to me even though I wholeheartedly believe in it and even though my lifestyle change has become just a way of life for me. This phrase sums up all of our focus on building a healthy life for ourselves. That is our goal, to be healthy individuals and to live a fuller and higher-quality life.

Healthy eating
Healthy eating

Now you may want to know that if this is so vital to being successful, how to achieve it, so here are some tips:

  • Start small and remember each step in the right direction is progress. Make small changes and simply focus on making one good choice at a time. This way it is much more manageable.
  • Remember that slow and steady wins the race. It might sound enticing to go full force from the very beginning and keep going at that pace, but you will hit a burn out wall. So take things slow and focus on your progress. Sometimes you may feel like you’re not making any progress at all and that’s okay, as long as you keep moving forward and keep trying you will see progress soon enough.
  • Make sustainable changes- start eating and exercise habits that you can stick with long-term. Find exercise you enjoy doing and healthy foods you enjoy eating. You can change things up and try new things but don’t exercise too much or restrict your calories too much too fast.
  • Arm yourself with information. Research healthy habits, recipes that sound good, and find things that work for you. There are so many possibilities out there!
  • Keep yourself motivated- surround yourself with people who have similar goals, read blogs or articles about people who have lost weight or are losing weight currently, join weight loss websites/apps where there is no shortage of support (such as Spark People where I found just this), and keep searching for things that interest you in your new lifestyle.

That’s the simplified version. Obviously there is more to it, but some of it we all have to figure out for ourselves because we are all different. We need to find what works for us in particular. So please, don’t be discouraged if what works for someone else or what you feel should work for you doesn’t, because there is so much more out there than just that! Make your lifestyle change work for you and it will be so much easier to stick with because you will learn to enjoy it.

~Bonnie~

Workout Wednesday- Feeling Like You Belong at the Gym

Strength. Dumbbells and kettlebell.
Strength. Dumbbells and kettlebell.

One of the hardest things about not only joining a gym, but consistently going, is feeling like you belong there. It is intimidating. So many fit or at least “thinner” people are there, or that’s what it seems like sometimes. Now let me tell you a little secret:

You belong there!

Everyone deserves to be at the gym, no matter their shape or size. Everyone has similar goals: to lose weight, to tone up, to strengthen their muscles. There might be a few who aren’t there for that reason, but nearly all are there to work on their fitness in some shape or form.

You belong anywhere in the gym that you paid for. Utilize it to its fullest potential and for whatever you need it for. Whenever you start to feel out of place, try this mantra: “I belong here. I deserve to be here just as much as anyone else.” This is really true, and repeating it helps until you feel like you truly belong there.

Cardio!
Cardio!

If you see someone fitter or thinner than you are, also repeat to yourself, “Everyone starts somewhere.” Those people had to start somewhere when they began their own journeys. Some didn’t need to lose a lot of weight, while others did, and you can’t tell just by looking at them. Keep that in mind whenever you feel intimidated because it’s the truth.

No one is born fit, and certainly no one is born knowing how to use the cardio or weight machines. They all had to learn how to use the gym equipment at some point. So remember, there is likely someone who has been where you are in the gym at any given point. Someone who started when they needed to lose weight or when they needed to build muscle, and are still working on it.

~Bonnie~

Steady Saturday- Keep Moving Forward

Keep moving forward.

night-sport-bike-bicycle

That little phrase makes it all seem more simple than it really is, but this is one of my favorite mantras and something I repeat often to others who are also trying to improve their health. It’s a pretty common saying and I’m sure nearly all of us have heard it somewhere at some point.

Why it’s one of my favorite mantras is because it’s right on point. When the going gets tough and I don’t feel like I can move forward, or move at all, I remind myself that all I have to do is keep moving forward. This simple phrase reminds me that it’s all in my power. If I need to take a break, physically or mentally, I do so. If I need to reevaluate my plan, then I do that too. Sometimes I don’t necessarily need to do either and in those case, going through the motions and doing my best to improve my mood helps.

stairs

Thinking of the alternative almost always helps in these instances as well, because the alternative is bleak. If I weren’t doing what I’ve been doing for over a year now, I wouldn’t be where I was and if I don’t continue, I will gain the weight back and lose the quality of life I so enjoy.

So whether you’re at the beginning of your journey, the middle, or even the end, remember that these tough times will pass and when they do, you will want to have “kept moving forward.” Your future self will thank you for putting one foot in front of the other no matter what. Like I said I do for myself, even if it just takes going through the motions of healthy living, you will be happier with yourself when things improve again.

The best days are still ahead of you, keep moving toward them no matter what!

~Bonnie~

Tip Tuesday- How to Deal with Slip-Ups

The inevitable… and discouraging… slip-up.

We all have them and they’re definitely not a new phenomenon. So what do we do when we’re going along, doing our best, and out of nowhere the dreaded slip-up happens?

There’s no one clear-cut approach to this that works for everyone. I’m going to share my philosophy and experiences. Feel free to try this for yourself. If it works for you, great. If not, remember there are other things to try to get yourself back on track.

you haven't quit

When I slip-up I try to do some damage control if at all possible. If  I slip up in the early part of the day, say afternoon or earlier, I do my best to make the rest of my meals and snacks as low in calories as possible without feeling like I’m starving. What this consists of is making it mostly vegetables with small portions of fruit and lean protein on the side, occasionally some whole grains if I can fit them in. Usually this helps me to be in my calorie range, or barely over it. If I slip up in the later part of the day, I apply the same eating method in order to minimize the damage, and I accept that I will still be over calories.

How I deal with the day after a slip-up, whether or not I was able to put that method to use, I might still feel a bit disappointed in myself. One thing I do NOT do is beat myself up about it because it is counterproductive and will only make the problem escalate. I may reflect on what happened and plan how to keep it from happening in the future. The greatest part of a slip-up is the potential to learn and grow from it! It’s valuable knowledge that will help you as you continue your journey.

Healthy eating
Healthy eating

Sometimes we still feel bad after a slip-up, even with damage control or damage minimization. The best and fastest way to make yourself feel better is to make one good healthy or productive choice as soon as possible. Choose a fruit or veggie as a snack, choose to exercise when you might not have otherwise, or do something else active that makes you feel good and raises your spirits. Telling yourself to make just one good choice takes the insane pressure off of you. Trust me, once you make that choice, the pride of your accomplishment makes you feel like you’re going to be okay, and maybe even better than okay.

So learn from it, let it go, and move forward!

~Bonnie~

Sharing Sunday- My First Race Experience

Beautiful trees on the trail.
Beautiful trees on the trail.

In preparation for the half marathon I’m registered for in May 2016, I wanted to do a 5K race in August and a 10K race in November. So first I signed up for a 5K race near me happening on August 15th. Originally I had signed up for the run, but as the race rapidly grew closer, the minor foot issue I had going on wasn’t healing like I thought it would. This meant that I had to switch over to the 2 mile walk at the race event instead.

Understandably, I was horribly disappointed. In fact, for the few days leading up to the race I almost decided to just forget it altogether. It had been a rough and busy week for me and I was so tired, which in turn made it easier to feel down about not being able to actually run the 5K.

However, the side of me that desperately wanted to see what a race was all about eventually won out and I went! I’m super thankful that my realistic side convinced me to go! Upon arriving, first I checked in at the registration table and collected my race gear: a race bib with my number on it, a shirt with the race name on it, and my race packet with some goodies in it. I was so proud of the tee shirt that I put it on over the tee shirt I wore there right away. Then one of the registration ladies helped me pin the bib to it.

Me all ready to walk!
Me all ready to walk!

There I was, all set to go and full of excitement and nerves! Once it was time, I started out slow. I was warming up and also a bit cautious, unsure how races played out. They had told us that there would be volunteers directing us along the way so I looked out for them. Soon I was in the zone and fully enjoying the experience. I never walk fast but amazingly, even walking on a trail which I was nowhere used to, I managed to keep a good pace of 19 minutes per mile for the 1.75 mile walk. That is my fastest walking pace and I was ecstatic to have done that after not walking outside much in the previous two months.

Tranquil stream flowing under a bridge on the trail, so pretty I had to take a picture!
Tranquil stream flowing under a bridge on the trail, so pretty I had to take a picture!

My first race experience was a far cry from what I thought and always imagined it would be, but it was very pleasant and enjoyable. It really left a positive imprint on my mind and I can’t wait for more in my future. I’m hoping next year I will be able to do the actual 5K run for this race. The possibilities truly are endless. All you have to do is dream, plan, and believe in yourself! Have you ever thought about signing up for a walk or a run? Go for it! Enjoy every step of training and completing it. I’m not saying it’s going to be easy, but it certainly is rewarding!

~Bonnie~

Steady Saturday- Baby Steps

As we set out to lose weight or pursue a dream of ours, we want everything to happen now. So we jump in and start off at a run to reach our goals. The thing is though, when we start out at a run instead of taking things slow, we sabotage ourselves. A lot of us have this “all or nothing” mentality that works against us… unless we can learn how to move past it.

family-822558_1280

My suggestion to all of you is to start slow, start small. Remember the saying “Slow and steady wins the race.” Yes, it’s really true. When you begin your weight loss journey, starting out small and slow and building your way up is the best way to go.

One way to go about this is to start with a moderate exercise form. Like I mentioned in this blog, walking is a great start out exercise. You can set how far you want to go or how much time you want to walk, and adjust as time permits. You can also vary your routes and times of day you go to keep things fresh. The sunlight in the morning feels and looks different than in the evening, and both are amazing to experience while taking a tranquil but brisk-paced walk. Varying your routes will ensure that you don’t get bored of the same scenery as fast.

Some of the other exercises that fit the bill include riding a bike whether it be stationary or an actual bicycle, swimming, dancing, hiking, and some cardio machines. Anything that allows you to customize in some shape or form so you can start out slow, is a good exercise. Be aware of your own limitations if you have some sort of physical issue and adjust your first workouts accordingly.

Besides exercising, we also need to take baby steps with our nutrition. Setting small goals that we feel are doable will carry us farther than setting goals that are too big or take too long to reach. Maybe instead of jumping right in with the “5 a day” rule of fruits and vegetables, you could set a goal to have three a day at first. Or you could just break it down throughout the day and tell yourself “I will have a fruit or a vegetable with each meal and snack.” That makes the goal seem that much more achievable. If you don’t do it or don’t reach the goal, keep trying. None of us achieves all of our goals everyday at first and even later on too. It’s all a process. Other nutrition goals work the same way, start small and work your way up.

stairs

I personally have a joint problem that affects all of my joints as well as my neck, ribs, and back. So I started out with walking as I’ve mentioned, and worked my way up with both that and walking indoors with videos. It helped me a lot to start out like this. With my nutrition, I set a 3 a day goal for myself, and some days still struggle with it. Other days I get 5+ a day. It depends. I do my best though and continue to learn how to make this work for myself.

~Bonnie~