Goodbye 2016

I have spent some time this morning decluttering the house. While I packed away Christmas decor, tossed out old files, and loaded the car with boxes of the latest donations, I started to reflect on this past year. It went by in a flash, but I am truly humbled by the last 365 days.

Highlights of the past year remind me of more good times than bad, which is something I haven’t always been able to say every December 31. What I have always been able to say, regardless of the ups or downs, is that God is good. He is faithful, and He continues to bless me with undeserving goodness and mercy.

This year, we welcomed two new family members — Michael David (born May 23) and John Carter (born September 12). Both of these handsome boys are my great nephews, born to my two oldest nieces, Jessie (Carter’s mom) and Katie (Michael’s mom). Being an aunt is an honor that I do not take for granted. I’m certainly not the best aunt, but I love all of my nieces and nephews (and now great-nephews) with all of my heart.


Michael (above)


Carter (above)

I ran a few races over the past 12 months. Six to be exact. With each 3.1 miles completed, my back felt better and I became both stronger and faster. After the struggle that I had last year with my back injury, I was happy to end the year at the same pace that was once my fastest.


I spent a few days in Myrtle Beach at one of my favorite conferences – Women of Joy. It is nice to get away for two nights and soak in some Vitamin Sea. I am most as peace where the ocean meets the sand. Between the sun, sand, and salty air… and the wonderful worship that fills the conference center over those 72 hours… I always come back rejuvenated and restored.



Author and speaker, Lisa Harper at Women of Joy 2016

I finally made it to Chicago this year. Five of my friends and I took an extended weekend girls’ trip up to the Windy City. We laughed a lot, we bickered a little, and we made lifelong memories over the course of five days. We ate great food. We saw historical landmarks. And we even caught a game at Wrigley Field. Little did we know we were watching the World Series Champs in action.

Shortly after returning from Chi-town, I received my biggest blessing of all — turning 40. Some people dread getting older but to me, it’s a privilege. When I say that I am grateful for my days, I seriously mean that I am grateful for every.single.day. As y’all know, I’m on a mission to make the most of this life that I have been given, and embracing every second is the best way to ensure that!

I took Mom to see Dolly Parton in concert this year. Dolly is someone that she has listened to as long as I can remember. I grew up to Mom playing Dolly albums on the record player… Here You Come Again, Jolene, and Two Doors Down are just a few of the Dolly songs that are part of my Life Soundtrack. It was really awesome to get to see Dolly perform them live with Mom sitting beside me. So much fun!

As I look ahead to the new year, one word comes to mind and sums up my goals for 2017:

Focus

Focus on the good.
Focus on what matters.
Focus on my health.
Focus on my family.
Focus on new distances.
Focus on making dreams a reality.
Focus on fun.
Focus on staying on budget.
Focus on staying on track.
Focus on my mission!

I admit that I can easily be distracted. As a matter of fact, I should still be in the office decluttering but I stopped to write this post. 🙂 I don’t want to lose site of my ultimate goal… my mission to make the most of life. I want to live minimally, eat clean, travel places that I’ve never been. I want to push past the comfort zone of 5Ks and train for a 10K. I want to spend more time on this blog, sharing life with y’all. I want to give freely, bless others, and be creative. I want to finish projects that I’ve started. (Boy, does THAT require heavy focus!! haha) I want to dream bigger than I ever have before, and not lose sight of all that I am capable of… and all that God wants me to experience.

What are your plans for the new year? Will you make resolutions for 2017? Do you have certain goals that you would like to accomplish? Comment below and share YOUR dreams with me. Let’s join together and encourage one another as we focus on a mission to make 2017 the best year yet! Happy New Year, friends!

Make EveryDollar Count

Has this ever happened to you? You’ve managed to make it to the week of your next payday. You think you have just enough money left in your account to get by until Friday… and then you remember that a coworker’s birthday is Thursday, and you’ve committed to bringing cupcakes. You opt to buy grocery store cupcakes because they’re cheaper than the local bakery but while you’re in the store, you pick up a couple of frozen meals because they’re on sale. Your small bank account just got smaller, but it’s Wednesday and you’ll be fine. And then, when you arrive home, the air conditioning isn’t work. You check your saving account, only to remember that you used $250 last month for a last-minute vacation and you barely have $120 remaining. You can’t be without air conditioning – it’s 94-degrees outside! – so when you call for a service appointment, you ask if they take credit. It’s your only option.

So maybe that scenario is a bit extreme. It may not happen often, but it certainly happens. We fail to plan appropriately, or we think that using our savings will be okay because we can rebuild it in the upcoming months. Not following a budget can really put us in a bind.

Did you know that more than half of people in the United States live paycheck-to-paycheck? That means over 50% of us are at risk of experiencing the above scenario at any given time. Scary, isn’t it?

I want to introduce you to a great tool that helps me stay on budget. It was created by Dave Ramsey, a financial guru whose methods have proven affective for nearly everyone who has followed them. It is very user friendly, and best of all… FREE!

Meet EveryDollar®

EveryDollar

EveryDollar.com is a website that tracks your monthly income, projected expenses, and actual money spent in order to give every dollar a name. In other words, you make every dollar count. This method is what Dave calls based on zero-based budgeting. If every dollar has a purpose, then we can start to gain control of every dollar that we spend. It may seem like a silly idea at first, but once you use this method for a couple of months, you will see just how much control you have over how much you spend, and what you spend it on!

When you first register with EveryDollar.com, you will be asked to create a username and password. You’ll also be asked to answer a few simple questions to establish your account. You will be given the option to upgrade your membership from FREE to EveryDollar Plus. This is a $99 service that includes the option to link to your bank accounts and credit cards. That way, your data is automatically entered instead of you having to enter each cost yourself. There is a free 15-day trial but I haven’t upgraded yet. The free membership works for me. Here is a comparison of what you receive with each membership.

Membership

Once you have registered, you can begin using EveryDollar.com immediately. Select the month that you’re budgeting, then follow the prompts to enter your monthly salary (what your actual take-home pay is) and the expenses that you know are monthly, i.e.; mortgage, insurance, car payment, etc.

Sept Income

Food

Once you have entered all of your expected expenses, don’t forget to consider overlooked expenses. Birthdays, doctor appointments, pest control, and gym memberships are just a few of the things we frequently do not consider when planning a monthly budget.

As you enter expenses, you will notice that the website will keep count of your balance for you. It will be just below your income tab, listed as $ Left To Budget.

Left to Budget

Your goal is to get this to $0… which means you are making every dollar count. When you’ve succeeded, you’ll get a green checkmark like this:

EveryDollar Budget

You will also have a breakdown of expenses by category, so that you can make sure you’re not spending too  much money in one place. I love this feature so that I can stay on track with the budgeting percentage plan that Dave’s daughter, Rachel Cruze, shared on her website about two years ago.

rachel

percentage

Once all of your planned monthly expenses have been entered, you can use EveryDollar.com or the available smartphone app to track your actual expenses. The budget tool will maintain transactions throughout each month.

app

In addition to the tool giving you control over every dollar each month, Ramsey has created another feature within EveryDollar.com that is great for planning ahead… Debt-Free Baby Steps. The baby steps are listed in overview, with additional information and helpful tips to focus on and achieving each goal. The first step is a $1000 Emergency Fund.

Step One

You’ll notice that the Emergency Fund tab is part of your planned monthly expenses. Be sure to put back money each month, in whatever amount that you can, to work toward this first baby step. Once you have saved $1000, you can reallocate the money that you were using toward that goal to your second baby step.

Baby Step Two is taking control of your Debt Snowball. Check out Dave’s website to learn his recommendations for knocking out debt. This isn’t something that will happen overnight, so go into this stage with patience and perserverance. It will be so rewarding when you finally complete this step and move onto Baby Step Three.

BabySteps

I sit down at the end of every month and use this website to make sure things are in order for the next month. I love the feeling of control when it comes to my money. I use the smartphone app to enter transactions in real time (something I haven’t been doing since banking went online and I stopped using a check registry years ago) so that I can truly account for every dollar that I spend. Most of all, I love knowing that I have an emergency fund, have control of my debt, and am working toward completing Baby Step Three.

Although I have cut back on buying things that I don’t necessarily need, I haven’t stopped buying things. I have been able to take vacations that were already paid for, pay cash for Christmas gifts for my family, and occasionally treat myself to massages and pedicures. If you’d like to stop living paycheck-to-paycheck, and gain control over every dollar that you make, I highly recommend EveryDollar.com.

“A budget is telling your money where to go instead of wondering where it went.”
― Dave Ramsey

 

I was not compensated for this post, and it contains no affiliate links. All opinions are my own and not influenced in any way.

Motivation Monday: Start Small

Life is overwhelming. From our every day To-Do lists to our goals and dreams, the anxiety of stepping out to tackle all that life has to offer can stop you in your tracks. No one knows this better than me. Just in the last week alone, I have been overwhelmed five times. Seriously! Cleaning the house put me in a tailspin because I worried over what room to start first. Creating a meal plan for my new color-coded diet took me two hours because I felt like I had too many meals to categorize. And don’t even get me started on this website. Do you know how many blog ideas I have in my head? I have started them all, but finished none. It is often paralyzing, and results in unfinished chores and missed deadlines. (Yes, this Motivation Monday post is officially a week late!)

I tend to focus on the big picture. I want to see the end result. I want to reap the benefits. Who doesn’t? But if we’re so focused on looking ahead to the finish line that we stop taking steps forward, we’ll never complete the race.

There is one common factor that can help us in achieving all of our aspirations, no matter the goal. START SMALL.

bigthingssmallbeginnings
It has been said that one of the top habits of a successful person is their ability to start small. Katie Ledecky is an Olympic swimmer from the US, who holds the current world record for the 400-, 800-, and 1500-meter freestyle. She began swimming at the age of six. Although she was born into a family of swimmers, Katie couldn’t swim the length of the pool at such a young age. Although she was determined to get to the other side, she often had to hold onto the rope for help. Did that make her less of a swimmer? No. She knew that in order to reach her destination, she had to continue forward even if it meant slowing down, reassessing her focus, and occasionally reaching out for help. Her small, yet persistent beginning has taken her to her second Olympics, where she continues to succeed.

Like Katie, I also want to reach the other end of the pool, so to speak, on several goals. But the difference is that I seem to always ungracefully jump into the water and then flail around somewhere in the middle. There is no forward movement, no focus outside of the end results, and I never reach out for help.

In order to overcome the sense of being overwhelmed by our goals, we must think on a small scale. What plans to you have? Do you want to start your own business? Do you want to better your health? Do you just want to get your house clean and organized? Let’s think about how we can ‘reach the other end of the pool’ in these types of scenarios.

Most small businesses start with brainstorming. Many of us can dream up ideas. But did you know that there are steps forward in the brainstorming process that we should take BEFORE we advance to the ‘next section of the pool’? When we’re in this initial phase, we should slow down and take the time to focus on questions like, “What could go wrong with this business and how would I solve it?” and “What are the main things I want my customers to know about me?” After you have considered all of the questions that may arise about your business in general, then move onto to the next step… gathering resources. This may be your opportunity to ‘grab the rope’ by reaching out for assistance. See the pattern? Small, slow, and steady progression forward.

When it comes to my health, I don’t want slow and steady progression! I saw a quote yesterday that read:

“Two days into my diet and I’m still not skinny? This is bulls#!*”

Right? I want immediate results. Don’t you? And that is the number one reason why most diets and exercise plans fail. We jump in… all-in… with no small steps planned. We would be better off setting smaller goals. Want to lose 30 pounds? Your first goal should be 10, and only 10. Interested in a 5K? Your first goal should be one mile. Once you’re comfortable with that distance, then you can focus on two. Need to change your eating habits? Pick one thing to slowly remove and replace it. Cookies to fruit. Chips to carrots. Don’t try to give up everything at once. And most importantly, reach out for help! Have an accountability partner. Download an app to use. Join a group in your community with similar goals. All of these things are small steps toward your ultimate goal.

For me, instead of looking at how unorganized my entire house is, I have decided to focus on one room at a time. I am not going to rush. I am allowing myself one week per room. I will start small and take the slow and steady forward approach, beginning with the room that I use the least and work toward my busiest, most cluttered space. Being able to finish one room will not only give me the satisfaction of completing a small goal, but it will also motivate me to tackle the next, more unorganized, area of the house.

Let’s make a promise that the next time we’re feeling overwhelmed by our big dreams and lofty goals, instead of abandoning them, we’ll continue forward, slowing down from time-to-time to reassess our focus on smaller steps, and reaching out for help when needed. Big things are in our futures!

Spring Clean Your Life in Three (Mildly Sarcastic) Steps

If you are anything like me the thought of Spring Cleaning is something that finds its way into your mind and then exits promptly.  Honestly, when God was passing out talents I got lost on the way to the Loves To Clean line, you’re either one of those people or you are not.  I am NOT.  When faced with certain tasks I usually find other things to prioritize and then maybe six months later will tackle something that usually wasn’t that painful to begin with and would have been a lot easier to address had I done so in a timely fashion… The time is now.  So they say anyways…

Step One to Spring Cleaning Your Life: Organize Your Home

I love to hold on to things. No it’s not an episode of Hoarder’s up in here.  Not yet anyways.  But it’s a possibility that a cartoon girl is under a pile somewhere screaming “Let it Go” and I’m not listening, or maybe there is a sock in her mouth. Who’s to say?  Actually it’s not the cartoon at all. I was told yesterday that I should take advantage of the upcoming church yard sale to make some extra money and I immediately said. “I don’t have a thing to sell”.  Really? I don’t have a thing to sell… Really??  Someone needs to get a grip on what is really worth holding onto and what can be a part of the purge.

I think the key is to pick small task areas and not try to sort the whole house out at once.  Once overwhelmed distraction and procrastination can slip in and derail me, and I think we’ve all been there before.

Me thinks a list would suit this situation!

  1. Donate (You don’t need 8000 books now do you)
  2. Clean out the Expired: Pantry, Freezer, Fridge (that 2010 cream of chicken needs to GO!)
  3. Yard Sale it and Make Some $$
  4. Windex It (All of IT) Even if the dogs stick their faces on it 37 seconds later… DO IT!
  5. Vacuum all those places you never vacuum
  6. Put on the HAZMAT Suit and Defunk the shower. (You know your mother raised you better!)
  7. Make a plan for your yard/garden. (What do you plan on planting this year, are you going to change up any yard décor, add additional seating, or finish that fire pit area you’ve been planning for 3 years?)
  8. Pull weeds, pick up sticks, and mow the grass already…
  9. Assign Bigger Chores Deadlines (Power Washing, Deck Sealing, Mulching, etc.)
  10. Do a Post Winter Walk Around (nail down loose boards; fix the siding that’s blown off, etc.)

Realize that Spring Cleaning your home is more than just about the physicality of something being clean or orderly.  Having projects that stack up can lead to stress and anxiety.  So even if you baby step your way through whatever list you set for yourself try to check off a few when you can.  In the long run coming home to a less chaotic/cluttered environment can be good for your mental health as well.

Step Two to Spring Cleaning Your Life: Dust Off Your Body

For me there is more to Spring Cleaning than just doing windows.  I have taken this season of rest we call winter and exploited it.  I have hibernated like a big ol bear watching cheesy holiday movies and have become a sedentary lump.   But now the lump is excited that the weather is getting a little warmer and that spring is almost here so now it’s time to shake off the dust.

Where to Begin?  My problem seems to be that in my mind I’m an adventurous outdoorsy girl when in reality I’m more of a couch potato.  Couch Potatoes of the World UNITE!  Rise Up and Get Busy- there is a whole beautiful world out there ready for the taking, the key is to take it in a way that is appropriate for YOU!

See last year when I got the New Year’s idea to get busy getting healthy I joined a new exercise class.  I knew going into it this class was going to be doing a lot of activities that were over my skill level.  It was a phenomenal class full of wonderful people who were all about lifting each other up and sharing their faith, all the while getting one heck of a work out.  The instructor preached every class don’t do anything that you don’t feel comfortable with, make all of the adaptations that you need to etc.  At some point I guess I got over confident in my abilities and decided to undertake a 30 day Burpee Challenge.  I don’t know if you know what a Burpee is, but essentially it’s a demonic ritual that has you jumping to the sky then back to the floor in a hand plank pose over and over again.  It’s a pure NIGHTMARE.  Well long story short I didn’t survive the 30 day challenge, and really did a number on my body.  It wasn’t appropriate for my skill level- I knew it, but I wanted to push myself.  What I ended up with was an orthopedic doctor looking at me going you did what? All the while applauding my efforts, but basically telling me what I already knew. Make appropriate choices for your body in the shape it’s in now, so you can continue to work on getting it into the shape you want it to be in the future.

So moral of that story if you want to be active and STAY active don’t derail your efforts by putting your body into situations you are not ready for.  So now that I’m finally ready to get the train back on the tracks I know I have to go about things differently this time.

Coach Potato’s UNITE, Spring Get It Done Right This Time List:

  1. Just Say No To Burpee’s (unless that’s something you feel comfortable doing)
  2. Walk, even if it’s just to the mailbox DO IT! (Unless your mailbox is 50 feet away, in that case walk to the neighbor’s mailbox.)
  3. Make small obtainable goals.
  4. Don’t be afraid to try new things – just be smart about it.
  5. Find friends to be active with.
  6. Get outside and explore
  7. Find the challenge that is right for you- if you want to do a 30 day yoga challenge and it takes you 90 days to do it because you need days off, then that’s okay, 90 days of something is better than 90 days of nothing!
  8. Find what’s economical for you.  Gym life became something I cut out of my budget years ago.  There are lots of free opportunities in your community, you just have to look, and if you don’t have DVD’s for indoor days check out YouTube.  There are tons of videos posted that can work you out on any skill level.

God wants us to be present in our lives, to make use of the bodies he’s blessed us with.  To be able to do for others we must make taking care of ourselves a priority.  I should probably remind myself of this more often.

Step Three To Spring Cleaning Your Life: Feed Your Soul

Of Course Spring Cleaning isn’t complete if we don’t address the inside as well as the outside.  To face any season we have to be well with our souls.

Sometimes the gray gloominess of winter and all the roller coasters that come with the holidays can give us a run for our money, but the best thing about spring is new life.  New life that springs from the Earth and new life that comes from a Risen Saviour.

The Season of Lent is upon us and for me The Easter Season is the most important time of the year.  The purposeful reflection practiced during Lent helps me to be grounded and to reprioritize.  Unlike a New Year’s resolution which I may make it to a week of success, there is something about a Lenten promise that I hold fast too.  The daily sacrifice of small things keeps constant in my mind the monumental gift of Jesus’ grace.

Making a priority the upkeep of my soul has been a lifelong transitional process and on-going struggle.  The road map that I constantly pray for is often too blurry to read but when I go in search of something God has a way of making the path known.  We must acknowledge that to have spring time growth we must foster the seed.  The seed of our faith has taken root but waits for us to build up a foundation with Christ before it can begin to grow or even dream of one day blossoming.

There is purpose in this season.  40 Days we reflect, we don’t get from Ash Wednesday to Easter Sunday without going through the process.  We must use this time as an opportunity each day to find a new way to Spring Clean our lives.

I feel another list coming on… aww heck maybe even two!

Prepare Yourself for Holy Week By:

  1. Communing with your fellow Christian.
  2. Spending Time reading a Lenten Devotional
  3. Deciding if you will be fasting or committing to other things to give up as a part of your time of sacrifice and reflection.
  4. Deciding if you are going to add something to your life such as a daily purpose goal.
  5. Committing to Sunday and Holy Week service attendance
  6. Reflecting on the Stations of the Cross.
  7. Spending time in prayer

Feed Your Souls Throughout the Spring and the Rest of The Year By:

  1. Setting some seasonal goals.  Is there anything you want to accomplish during the spring or summer that you need to plan for?
  2. Making time for rest and relaxation: are there any travel destinations that you have in mind?  Do you have a happy place that gives you peace? Find a way to get there!
  3. Make time for Serving Others.  Service can be one of the most enjoyable and rewarding things we can do in our lives.  I’m a firm believer that Faith without works is dead.  Don’t miss an opportunity to share the blessings God has given you!
  4. Surround yourself with the people you love, be those friends, family, or even your favorite animals.
  5. Just do something that makes you happy, smile, or laugh.

Go now in peace knowing that each season God gives us more blessings than we can ever imagine.  I hope they fill you up each and every day!

Motivation Monday: The Comfort Zone

This is a pretty significant year for me. I turn 40 in June. I eased my way into my thirties and have, for the most part, enjoyed the time there. Sure, I experienced some pretty scary times over the last decade, but I somehow managed to maintain a confidence that I never had in my twenties.

For some reason though, I don’t seem to be as comfortable preparing for this birthday. I can’t pinpoint why. Two of my nieces are pregnant, each with their first child. A new generation will soon be entering our family. I have always felt youthful, but maybe now I’m finally starting to feel old? Or at least, feel my age. I am also coming to terms with my health. I’m seeing my body struggle. I can’t eat like I used to. I don’t heal as fast as I once did. And it certainly isn’t easy to stay get in shape. Ultimately, I think I’ve gotten a little too cozy over the past 10 years. The upcoming milestone birthday is acting like a giant neon sign for reality. I’m not getting any younger or healthier just sitting here.

A friend of mine recently shared this quote with me:

Boy, did that hit home! Instead of sitting around worrying about what this year (and/or the next decade) will hold… maybe it is time to stop being so complacent. Although I can’t physically get younger, I can still reverse the uneasiness of growing  “old and unhealthy” by pushing myself beyond my normal limits.

I made the first step out of my comfort zone this past weekend. I became a member of my local YWCA/YMCA network. I did it with anticipation of marking something off of my 2016 Bucket List: my first triathlon! I have to admit… this is scary! I’m extremely nervous about it. I’m afraid I will fail. I’m afraid I will give up. I’m afraid of knowing how uncomfortable I will be over the next six months. This journey will not be easy. I’m a mediocre runner. I love the water but it has been years since I’ve done any lap swimming. And I’m really not certain if my aging knees will even allow me to cycle. This could be the biggest disaster ever. Or, this could be just what I need to jump-start a healthier, 40-year old Jenn.

“Life begins at the end of your comfort zone” is a great motivational quote that can apply to so many things. For me and my mission to be healthy, youthful, and confident in my 40s, I’m going to have to work hard for it. I’m going to have to acknowledge my comfort zone and push past it daily.

What is your mission for 2016? Is it health related? Or have you always wanted to learn to play the guitar? Maybe you have goals of traveling? How about starting your own business? Whatever it is that you have been wanting to do, let this quote motivate you to do it. The wait is over. It’s time to step out of your comfort zone. Let life begin today!

Motivation Monday: New Year Edition

I’m staring a new series on my blog called #MotivationMonday. On the first Monday of each month, I’ll share some words of encouragement or a helpful hint that will hopefully help us (myself included) prepare for the next 30-ish days ahead. This Motivation Monday is extra-special. Not only is today the first Monday of the month… but it’s our first Monday of 2016.

New Year’s Resolutions often go hand-in-hand with health and fitness. The start of a new year seems like the perfect time to commit to losing weight, to staying fit, or to stop smoking. If you’ve declared a health resolution, your goals may already seem overwhelming today. Maybe you’ve set the bar too high, or just simply don’t know where to start. I understand. Let me share my juicing experience with you…

I have been curious about juicing for two years. A friend of mine introduced me to the idea while we were training for a 5K in December 2013. I often made comments about how sluggish I would feel during the run based on what I had eaten throughout the day. She told me to watch Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead. (It’s a documentary about a 310lb man and his 60-day juicing journey.) I have to admit, it took me a while to watch it. Then it took me a while to process the thought of a 60-day all-juice lifestyle. I didn’t care how fat, sick, and nearly dead that I felt… 60 days seemed like a long time to commit to the change in my diet. Nearly a year later, in anticipation of my New Year’s Resolution for 2015, I started researching “how to juice”and learning about all that goes into it. Did you know that juicers can range upward to $500 depending on the model and brand? Yikes! If it was going to take 60-days, $500, and a lot of time to juice, I’d pass!

It wasn’t until I stumbled on an article on Women’s Health magazine online that I realized juicing doesn’t have to be an all-or-nothing condition. There are ways to ease into juicing. The article suggested having a breakfast juice with a handful of almonds a couple of times a week instead of the usual cereal or yogurt. This helps juicing become a part of a normal routine, which in turn would hopefully prevent falling off the juicing wagon.

Organic raw juice bars are becoming more common. We recently had one open here in my little corner of NC. If you’re interested in juicing, I highly recommend searching your town for one. It’s a perfect way to try out juicing without investing a lot of time and money into it. Local juice bars also specialize in the right combinations of fruits and vegetable to ensure a great flavor of juice every time. Fresh juice is very alkalizing and detoxifying, and is beneficial without having to go on an extreme cleanse. The best part? Juicing is an easy way to focus on adding fresh fruits and vegetables to your diet. The more you good food that you add, the less room there is for the bad.

So how does my rambling about juices motivate you? I’m hoping it will remind you to:

  1. …not be intimidated by other people’s journey. Allow their story to encourage you, but adapt your journey to your own goals. Be on a mission to live your life, not theirs!
  2. …not procrastinate. The worst thing you can do when you’re overwhelmed is delay your journey for more than a day. Don’t wait a year to seek opportunities. Where there’s a will, there’s a way!
  3. …ask for assistance. If you want to try something but aren’t sure where to start, research to see if someone is already doing what you’re interested in doing. For those of you who have always wanted to try a 5K but aren’t sure how to start training, there are running groups in many towns. Consider support groups to help with smoking cessation. Reach out to the community for help!
  4. …ease into change. Don’t feel like you have to jump in feet first with no reservation. If you’re new to exercising, commit to walking twice a week. Want to stop drinking soda? Try adding one extra glass of water to your day until that becomes normal, then add more!

New Year’s Resolutions often fail because expectations are unrealistic. Don’t be a statistic this year. No matter what your goals are for 2016, even if they’re not health-related, know that they are attainable. Stay focused on your journey. Keep a steady pace toward your goals. Don’t try to get from A to Z without adding in the other letters. And lean on your community to help. This is just the beginning. You’ve got this!

No Boundaries

I did it!! I just signed up for the No Boundaries 5K Training at my local Fleet Feet. I’m so excited!

I have participated in many charity 5Ks over the past 5 years. I’ve never had the intention of running them. I would occasionally jog but I was primarily there to have a leisurely stroll with friends, while raising awareness and funds for the nonprofit hosting the event.

For the last 12 months, I have had an unsettling desire to become a runner. Yes, me… the girl who once said I’d only run if something was chasing me. Since my dad’s heart attack, I’ve looked for ways to become healthier internally. Of course, losing a few pounds on my outward appearance would be nice too, but I really want my heart to be in top shape. In all the research, and in all of the prayers, the only answer I only received one answer — RUN! Of course, I laughed it off the first few months. Me, a runner? I have bad knees. I don’t have the time. I’m not disciplined enough. I can’t find good running shoes at an affordable price. You name it, I had an excuse.

Recently, I acquired a brand new pair of Nike Air Max Ultras – a $160 pair of shoes – for a mere $45. How? Long story… but in a nutshell, there is an undisciplined teenaged boy who isn’t getting to play basketball because he can’t keep his grades up. His parents were so serious about not letting him play until he did better academically, that they sold his new kicks. I was the lucky recipient.

I also have a friend who committed to running. She has done so well that, on her third 5K this weekend, she finished 3rd in her class with a under a 9-minute mile. She looks great and has become a huge source of inspiration for me. She invited me to join her in The Color Run this coming March. I accepted the challenge, then panicked.

I have become a terrible abuser of my time. I have gotten slack about prioritizing. How would I ever get caught up to her speed by March? What have I gotten myself into?

In a random conversation with my hairstylist… she brought up the training sessions at Fleet Feet. I had no idea that literally, around the corner from work, was a company who specializes in training runners. This is exactly what I need. A coach, and fellow beginning runners, to run alongside me and encourage me… in a location that is extremely convenient to me, at a time that is perfect for my schedule. Hallelujah!!

Could it be? My dream of becoming a runner – a full-fledged, determined, goal-oriented, healthy-hearted runner – are literally withing my reach now? This is big.

I’m not one for making new year’s resolutions. But I am one for grabbing at every chance to change, re-evaluate things, and if need be… start over. 2013 is that for me. A chance to be more more positive, healthier, stronger, and more focused. It’s time to take charge of my schedule again. It’s time to prioritize life. This training will help me, in every aspect. No restrictions. No regrets. No boundaries!