Archive of ‘Living & Giving’ category

Monday Motivation: Sticking with a Gym Routine

About three months ago, I walked into the fitness center at work, reactivated my membership, and started on a journey to a stronger and more confident me. Over the past few months, I’ve seen awesome weeks where I have gotten in five workouts and then I’ve had not-so-great weeks where I’ve clocked zero sweat sessions.

However, I never stopped. When I went in for my 90 day check-in last week, I was super happy to see that I was making progress. My body fat has dropped by seven percentage points and I lost fat and gained muscle. The overall number on the scale hasn’t changed but I’m stronger, getting leaner, and my capacity for cardio is getting better.

Yas!

With no travel on my schedule until December, I’m looking forward to consistently getting four 45-minute sessions in every week. I know that I can do it. Heck, I’ve been doing it off and on. It’s just time to be super consistent. These past three months, I’ve been tapping into different tips and mental tricks to keep me on the path to slimming down and dropping these last ten pounds of baby weight.

First up, accountability is key. I track my workouts using my trusted Fitbit. I rely on it to help me monitor my diet, my steps, calories burned and so much more. My current one is falling apart so I’m counting down the days until I get my hands on the Charge 2. Amen for the upgrade! Aside from the Fitbit, I find motivation in the form of my fitness coaches and my husband. My husband is always checking in like, “Did you get to the gym today?” It helps that he is on a similar fitness journey, even though his results are blowing mine away!

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Want to know another fun accountability tip? Try rewarding yourself with stickers. Yes, real stickers. Last month, I came across The Happy Planner Fitness Planner Stickers during a trip to Michael’s and have been hooked ever since. The stickers are a mixture of inspiration (“Strong is the new sexy”), goal-setting, and tracking. I usually place a gold star on workout days. It is so simple but it gets me hype!

Also, I buy cute workout gear and I keep my gym bag packed. At the beginning of the week, I place three workout outfits in my gym bag along with all of the other supplies that I will need. I leave the bag in my locker during the week and just bring home the dirty clothes each day. This helps me cut down on having to pack and repack a bag daily. I don’t get to wear all of the cute workout clothes to my work gym because I’m self-conscious about wearing sleeveless tanks and mesh leggings amongst colleagues. I like to save them for group classes, like Soulcycle (my new obsession).

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Lastly, I always visualize a strong body and connect each workout to a deeper purpose. If you read this post or follow me on Twitter, then it probably won’t surprise you that Kim Kardashian West is my #BodyGoals inspiration. Since giving birth to Saint, she has dropped over 70 pounds and she looks GOODT. Her VMA look is ingrained into my brain. My goal isn’t to get my body to look exactly like hers but I’m hella inspired by her fitness journey and she pops into my head when I’m tempted to jump off the treadmill 10 minutes early. Beyond my body shape, I also center myself to tap into my mental strength. Mind over matter is very real. During my initial evaluation, my fitness coach asked me to think of a motivational quote to channel during workouts. I chose, “You are stronger than you think.” What’s awesome is that I see these words when I log in to the machines so that I always have a reminder before I get to work.

There’s no magic bullet to the end goal but I feel more prepared for this journey now than I ever have in my life. Do you have any motivational tips that keep you on track with your fitness goals? I’d love to hear them!

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Leave These Three Things Out of Your Donation Pile

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Everywhere I turn, it feels like there are just piles of stuff in my house. It has always been this way but the addition of baby items has just added to the collection. These piles aren’t unruly but I could stand to create a more organized home. In fact, that was one of the goals that I spelled out on my Powersheets. Over the weekend, I started with the room that I can’t keep organized to save my life: my closet.

My go-to method for clearing the clutter has always been to create three piles for the stuff: keep, donate, or trash. In the past, my “donate” pile has always been bigger than my “trash” pile because I have this thing about throwing away clothes. It has never felt right unless the item was totally destroyed. So that means that I have donated some things that weren’t in mint condition. It’s not something that I have done often, but I’m all about doing better as I get older.

This time around, I made sure to keep these things out of the donation baskets.

Any old college/event/freebie t-shirts – I should be ashamed of the number of t-shirts in my drawers. However, I know that I’m not the only one. Over the years, these have often been the first to go during a wardrobe purge. However, I skipped putting these in the donation pile for now and just trashed them. If you prefer to go a more eco-friendly route, you could always make a t-shirt quilt or use them as rags.

Shoes in less than ideal condition – “Less than ideal” means having damaged heels, worn leather, or stained suede. I’m not going to trash these shoes but decided that I would do my best to get them in better shape before donating. We all know that shoes can make or break an outfit so I want the recipients to feel that magic as soon as they receive a pair from me.

Clothes from the previous season – I’ve always been one to purge my wardrobe at the end of a season which means that I’m donating summer dresses while everyone is preparing for another Chicago winter. Given that most charity thrift stores and shelters have limited storage spaces, many of these locations do not accept items out-of-season. An easy solve for this will be to go through my closets at the beginning of winter or summer so I know that the clothes will be of use at that moment.

Do you have any donation tips that you want to share?

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It’s All About the Lemonade, Baby

When someone brings up the word “lemonade” now, Queen Bey comes to mind. But, long before her album was released, a young girl named Alex started a lemonade stand to help raise money for childhood cancer research. In 2004, Alex passed away after her own battle with cancer, but left behind a legacy and an organization that is doing incredible work for this cause.

GapKids and babyGap have collaborated with Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation to create a line of tees that give back. When you buy one of these supercute onesies or t-shirt, 100% of the profits will go to the nonprofit.

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Why don’t they have these shirts in my size? Hey Gap, can you make this happen? I’ll be waiting patiently…

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Give This: Mama’s Morning Survival Kit

 

One of the things that has made my transition back to work easier is the support of a couple of friends who are in the same boat. Their babies are a few months older than Caleb and so they have been great about warning me what’s next (hello, sleep regression), celebrating small victories with me, and making me laugh with their tales of working motherhood.

While tackling a pretty demanding week recently, I decided that I wanted to send these ladies a little something to let them know how much I appreciate them. This care package is pretty simple but full of three things that working moms love and need.

  1. Words of encouragement
  2. An eye or face mask
  3. COFFEE… Well, a gift card for coffee

Oh yeah, there’s confetti too.

The best thing about this idea is that it is budget-friendly, cute, and personal. If you know anyone who is tackling long nights and early mornings, send this as a reminder that you are thinking of them and help make their day!

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Yes, Flint Still Needs Our Help

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Earlier this year, we all found ourselves in shock as news of Flint’s water crisis hit the mainstream media. It was (and still is) hard to believe that residents of an American city were exposed to contaminated water while officials seemed to turn a blind eye. As the news broke, so many people mobilized and donated bottled water, money, and other items. While the media focus has shifted, help is still needed. Here are three easy ways that we can all show our continued support for Flint:

1. Help purchase water and water filters. The United Way of Genesee County established the Flint Water Fund to cover the purchase of bottled water, water filters, and provide emergency support services to those in need. To date, this fund has helped source more than 11,000 filters systems and 5,000 replacement filters, while providing bottled water to the Food Bank of Eastern Michigan.

2. Break out your phone. Last month, AT&T launched a text-to-give campaign to benefit local children affected by the water crisis. Donations collected during the giving campaign will support the Flint Child Health and Development Fund of the Community Foundation of Greater Flint. The fund will provide early literacy programs, school health services, and nutrition education for local children. To get in on the action, all you have to do is text FLINT to 27722 to make a $10 donation to the fund.

3. Go see Beyoncé. No, seriously. When Queen Bey announced her Formation tour, she also committed to using the city stops to raise money to help provide long-term support for the children affected. While the specific details are still to be announced, we know that she is leading this effort through her #BeyGood initiative and we can keep an eye on that Twitter account for more info.

Aside from the above, you can still donate bottled water and can find those guidelines here. Let’s continue to keep the residents of Flint in our thoughts as we look for ways to support both now and in the future.

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10 Ways to Do Good with Your Boo

A couple that gives back together stays together. While that may not be 100% true, there is something great to be said about couples who share mutual interests and activities. Giving back has a positive effect on us individually, so I imagine that doing good with your boo must double the benefits.

I’m not ashamed to admit that my husband and I haven’t had a date night in several months. However, that is something that I hope we turn around soon. While thinking of some outings for us, I started thinking of a few that have a charitable twist. If you are looking for some different date night ideas, I hope this list gives you some inspiration.

Date Night Ideas

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15 Valentine’s Day Gifts Under $50

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Ah, Saturday. A day made for brunch, naps, and some (online) shopping. If Valentine’s Day is your jam and you are still shopping for gifts, let me help you out. I’ve rounded up 15 fab gifts under $50 to help you spread the love to the special peeps in your life.

Happy shopping!

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{Giveaway} Faith, Hope, and Love Prints

Happy Friday! Sorry that this post is getting up pretty late in the day, but Caleb just wouldn’t let me be great. Now that he has simmered down a bit, I felt like this was a good time to whip out my laptop.

In Tuesday’s post, I talked about why I love visual reminders to help me keep the faith when life gets challenging. I’ve never been big on prints and that was mainly because I didn’t get the point of them.

“So, I just frame paper?” Hmm.

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These Beautiful Pillows Bring The Love Home

One of my goals this year is to do more to make my home feel more loved, lived in, and organized. So, I’ve been on a quest to find items that can help give a more personal touch. I’ve been finding that Instagram has been a great resource during this search. In fact, that how I was introduced to the beautiful calligraphic designs at Parris Chic Boutique.

What I loved about the items is that many of the pieces combined scriptures and positive messages with key household decor items, like these hand-crafted pillows. In fact, I’ve rounded up six of my favorite love-focused designs to share with you.

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Caleb’s Charitable Birth Announcements

I used to hate getting my mail. It always seemed like nothing but endless bills, junk mail, and random offers. Recently though, wedding invitations, thank you cards, and birth announcements have started to break up the clutter of blah being delivered by my mail lady. I love receiving these little bits of sunshine and have tried to step up my correspondence game. So, before Caleb arrived, I already knew what kind of birth announcements that I wanted to mail out.

Many of my friends and colleagues have used Tiny Prints for their cards, so I snagged a credit for the site on Zulily and got to shopping. I had no idea that when I was ordering Caleb’s birth announcements that I would be helping children in need. However, that is exactly what happened when I selected these cute cards from Tiny Prints for our friends and family.

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Tiny Prints has a collection of birth announcements and stationery that helps to support the work being done by Baby2Baby, a non-profit organization that provides low-income children, ages zero to 12, with diapers, clothing and all the basic necessities that every child deserves. While I didn’t intentionally select this particular design for that reason, it serves as an added bonus.

I am so grateful that our family was both blessed with items that we needed and also in a financial position to buy anything that we didn’t get as gifts. I can’t imagine the stress and worry that many parents face when it comes to preparing for a new baby. Organizations like Baby2Baby serve a very important role and deserve all of the support that they can get. To learn more about the work they are doing, visit their website baby2baby.org.

Learn more about Tiny Prints partnership and check out all of the items in their charitable collection here.

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