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My Experience Attending the CFL1 Certificate Course

*Disclaimer: this blog post is a high-level overview of my personal experience. No details about the format and content of this course will be disclosed.*

Attending the CFL1 Certificate Course

At just about four years into my CrossFit journey: I finally bit the bullet and went for my CFL1. To those who don’t know what that means, it stands for CrossFit Level One, and it’s a certificate course that provides introductory education on the fundamental principles and movements of CrossFit.

So, why four years in did I decide to pursue it? It’s something I’d thought about more than once as I started to grow as a CrossFit athlete. For one, I loved the discipline and confidence I gained through CrossFit and wanted to share that experience with others.

Then, once I became an NASM personal trainer, I knew I would have to take CEU’s (i.e. continue my education) to keep my certification active. Since all my NASM studying occurred at home, on the internet/with a book, I wanted my next endeavor to be an in-person seminar, like this.

As I started to look into the certification further, I saw that the CFL1 course was being offered in Charlotte shortly after my move. Something that had deterred me previously was the cost: not only is the course itself $1000, but it’s typically offered in bigger cities (aka, not Syracuse) so I would’ve incurred travel expenses on top of it. (Sometimes it’s really hard to justify investing in yourself, but that’s a topic for another day.) With the course coming to my city, it would significantly reduce the cost, and I was out of excuses. It was time to dive in!

Here are my biggest takeaways from the weekend I spent at the CFL1 course:

  1. It’s humbling. I always refer to CrossFit as humbling because there’s so much going on that it’s impossible to be good at everything. But this course was another level of humbling. Four years in, I’ve made a ton of improvements. I’ve “won” a lot of workouts in the gym. I’ve gone to non-CrossFit gyms and been complimented by coaches, telling me that I move well and they can tell I’m an athlete. But in this course, I was surrounded by CrossFit experts, critiquing my movements and efficiency and challenging me on things I thought I knew so well. I received an overwhelming amount of critical feedback on the simplest movement, the move that most of CrossFit is built upon: the air squat. And it wasn’t just me: all 50 athletes in the room with their own levels of CrossFit experience received a wealth of critical feedback. Which brings me to the other reason this experience was so humbling: the caliber of the other athletes also participating in the course. In most social circles, if you do CrossFit, you are (among) the fittest of your friend group. People at work refer to you as the fit one. You stand out for your love and pursuit of fitness. Not in this room: you’re now the norm, one of many. In a way, it’s a super cool experience. Think of the last time you attended an event and not one person was overweight. I know it’s not the case at most sporting events, concerts, fairs or festivals. In a room of other CrossFitters, your “edge” is gone!
  2. I’m better for it. This was one of those experiences that was pretty far outside of my comfort zone. I knew that by attending, I would be opening myself up to criticism and to different ways of thinking, which is a position I don’t often put myself in. I know that putting myself out there like that and opening myself up to that experience has already made me better as a person and as a coach. It reminded me that I can’t be afraid of revealing that I’m not perfect, and that the only way to improve is to do things like this!
  3. I learned a lot about coaching fitness that I didn’t already know. Being in person with lots of other coaches and athletes exposed me to so many different ways to coach someone. I learned helpful new verbal cues and I also learned a ton about tactical cues. I’ve never used tactical cues when coaching, and I’ve very rarely been coached with tactical cues, but we used them a ton this weekend. I realized just how much more effective they are for me to learn. In the middle of a workout, my brain shuts off and goes into “just get it done” mode, so when someone tells me verbally to change something I’m doing, I don’t always have the awareness to correct. My brain isn’t always aware of where my body is in space. Based on what I saw this weekend, I think a lot of people have a similar experience when they’re pushing hard in a workout, so I’m excited to have a better way to help people moving forward!

So where am I going from here? I hope to use this experience to improve as a coach and as an athlete. I plan to take what I’ve learned about myself (just how much my weight ends up in my toes/midfoot when I move) to improve my own form and grow as an athlete. And I plan to use the techniques, methodology, and cueing I learned this weekend to coach others into their fittest selves. Who’s with me?!

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My Podcasting Debut: Listen to My First Interview

I love listening to podcasts. On my commute, on my lunchtime walk, as I’m getting ready in the morning.. virtually any time that I can, I’ve got my AirPods in and a podcast on. I feel like I am always learning something new or expanding my perspective. Some of my favorites include Mind Pump, Girls Gone WOD, She Thrives, Meathead Hippie, The Model Health Show and PaleOMG Uncensored. It should come as no surprise that literally all of these have to do with improving your health/fitness and/or lifestyle. That’s the content I gravitate toward (although I do try to expand into other avenues from time to time so I would love some recommendations in the comments or my DMs!).

I recently had the very exciting opportunity to step into the other side of podcasting by being a guest on the very first episode of the Colin Cerniglia Podcast! If that name looks familiar to you, it’s because he’s my husband ;). He owns a full-service coaching, training and consulting firm, called Talent 409, that helps athletes discover their talent altitude. Talent 409 hosts a number of paid events (seminars, workshops, etc.) but also has some great free content, like the Colin Cerniglia Podcast, to get you started on your journey to becoming a dynamic leader.

You can hear my interview below, where we cover things like: my athletic journey, the impact of sports and athletics in my life, and my thoughts on leadership. I have found a lot of parallels between sports and the workplace which I’d love to hear your thoughts about! Give it a listen here and let me know what you think!

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Establishing a Morning Routine

I recently made the switch from listening to the radio to listening to a podcast whenever I’m in my car. I’ve been flying through The Model Health Show on iTunes, and I’m amazed at how much time I was spending mindlessly listening to music I didn’t love when I could’ve been learning and motivating myself. I feel like I just discovered a huge life hack and I’m HOOKED on this habit! I think I’ll dabble into audiobooks soon too..

Anyway, one of the episodes of The Model Health Show I just listened to was about establishing a morning routine (listen here). I’ve always considered myself a morning person since I have to start my day with a workout, but this got me thinking. I wake up at 6:15 every (week)day, but what am I really doing in that 45 minutes before my crossfit class starts?

I make my coffee, pack everything for work, go to the bathroom, drink some water.. but I’m not really accomplishing anything. Those 45 minutes are valuable time that I could spend setting myself up for true success, every day.

Why should you establish a morning routine?

You know the saying “you run the day or the day runs you”? Knowing how your morning will look and going about it with purpose sets you up to run the day. Starting the day by checking your phone and replying to texts, emails, social, etc sets you up to run on someone else’s time, needs and desires. How can you accomplish your goals and be your best self without identifying your purpose for the day and executing on it?

Something else that really spoke to me was the part of the podcast that outlined the stress of being “on time”. I’m regularly “on time” for crossfit – meaning I’m rushing out the door, speeding down the highway, and running into the gym in my socks because I haven’t been able to change into my sneakers yet and can do so as the warmup is announced. That’s a highly stressful way to start my morning. After hearing this and acknowledging how it affected my own life, I knew I wanted to make a change.

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What does my morning routine look like now?

Since I made this conscious shift, I started waking up a few minutes earlier and my morning now looks like this:

  • brew coffee
  • 5-minute meditation in the legs up the wall yoga pose
  • drink coffee while writing a gratitude journal (3 things I’m grateful for) and today’s purpose
  • drink at least 2 glasses of water
  • change into my gym clothes
  • gather my work bag, gym bag, and lunch bag (all packed the night before)
  • leave 5 minutes earlier than I used to so I am early instead of on-time
  • listen to a podcast on my drive to the gym

I find the gratitude journal and meditation to be so powerful when it comes to starting my day on the right foot. I feel more positive and in control with those simple additions.

One thing you may notice is missing from this list is breakfast. Since I workout at 7, I don’t have much time for digestion pre-workout. Coffee and water are necessary, but my high-protein breakfast has to wait until my workout is done.

This routine may shift as I figure out what I like and don’t like. I’d like to work in more goal setting, planning, and stretching down the road.

How do you go about establishing your own morning routine?

Ask yourself: What do your mornings look like now? What are you hoping to accomplish and get out of each day? There are so many different options for different people, but a simple place to start that is applicable to everyone is: drink more water. Even though you’re laying in bed for hours at night, your brain and body are doing so much and using water to do it. Start by replenishing your water stores for an immediate improvement in your day!

A quick Google search will also return plenty of articles where entrepreneurs and high-power CEO’s share their morning routines if you’re looking for additional inspiration!

Do you already have a morning routine that you love? Leave your feedback in the comments!

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How To: Recover from a Weekend of Overindulging

If you’ve been here before, you know the core purpose of my fitness journey is to encourage balance and living your best life. And if you’re like most people I know, even once you’ve found that “balance”, it can fall out of whack from time to time.

For me, it happened this weekend. I was on my first-ever trip to Boston and I wanted the full experience (aka some craft beers and hot pretzels at Harpoon – seriously if you haven’t done this you need to). I don’t regret it, but I did know I wanted to get back to my veggie-filled lifestyle come Monday morning.

Summer is full of celebrations like this. Traveling, bridal showers, weddings, bachelor(ette) parties, graduation parties.. the list goes on. These weekend experiences are key to enjoying life (who wants to say no to a party?) but going overboard can set you up for feelings of guilt and demotivation. We’ve all been there. But the good news is, one weekend of binge eating (and drinking) doesn’t have to be a complete setback. Read on for my tips to start the next day fresh, followed by little tricks to keep yourself balanced on those weekends where you’re afraid you’ll spiral out of control.

How To- Recover from a Weekend of Overindulging

  1. Stop beating yourself up. That’s not helping. You can’t set the clock back 24 hours and knock that piece of cake out of your hands, so stop thinking about it. Also, one or two days of overeating won’t ruin your life. What matters is what you do now to set yourself up for success moving forward.
  2. Break a sweat (or two). Push yourself a little harder than you usually do in your next workout. Picture all those extra calories fueling you through one more mile or helping you hit that new lifting PR. If you usually run, add some strength or interval training to your workout in addition to that run, or vice versa. You’ll get your metabolism and motivation fired up!
  3. Hit 10,000 steps. In general, moving more than usual will help you get back on track. It doesn’t have to be high intensity. Bonus if you get outside and go for a walk – the fresh air will help you feel better.
  4. Fuel up on fresh fruits and veggies. Take a break from the processed foods that are probably sitting like a rock in your stomach. Replacing those with only nutritious foods for an entire day will help you get your glow back and increase your energy!
  5. Fill up on clear fluids. Drink water and tea to help get things moving in your system. This helps even more if drinking played a part in your binge.

And as for preventing those feelings of guilt down the road, try these tips on your next weekend of expected debauchery:

  1. Set small limits for yourself. If you love dessert, don’t go for the apps. If dip is your thang, stay away from the dessert. Make a rule that your plate has to be half full of veggies and you have to eat them before moving on to anything else. Little things like this will allow you to indulge and enjoy without feeling like you’re back at square 1.
  2. Still break a sweat. No matter what you have going on that day or where you’re traveling to, set aside 20 minutes to sweat. You’ll thank yourself later. Also, if you’re traveling, it’s fun to check out a workout class that isn’t offered where you live.
  3. Limit your calorie-laden booze. Craft beer and specialty cocktails make a great first drink, but once you’re buzzed a vodka soda or light beer will do the trick.
  4. BYOB. That second “B” being “breakfast”, if you’re traveling. Packing your own breakfast (preportioned bags of oatmeal, bananas, protein bars, etc.) can cut calories (and costs) when traveling.

How do you reset after a marathon weekend? What keeps you on track while celebrating?

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My Happiness Project: Part 1

A few months ago, I read The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin. I was really inspired by her approach to being happier in her everyday life. Rather than suggesting that you leave your job for a year of world travel, she focused on identifying behavior patterns, getting to know yourself and striving for personal growth. Since I read her book I’ve started to slowly chip away at my own happiness project – the first step of which is to identify my personal commandments (the core values by which I try to live my life).

  1. Get out of your comfort zone
  2. Make time for fun
  3. Sweat it out
  4. Reach out
  5. Live deliberately
  6. Express gratitude
  7. Embrace necessary conflict
  8. Focus on what matters

Some of these core values are easier for me than others. “Sweat it out” is so ingrained in my personality, while “embracing necessary conflict” is a challenge. I hope that by keeping these values visible, they continue to guide me in my daily life.

What books have inspired you? What are your personal commandments?

 

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April Goals Update + May Goals

In April, I set some pretty light/attainable goals:

  1. Go Streaking: run outside every day in April (1 mile minimum)
  2. Grow my @healthydoseoflife Instagram to 550 followers.
  3. Self Care Sundays: Reading, running for enjoyment, Epsom salt baths, foam rolling, yoga, relaxing with a cup of herbal tea are all examples

So, how did they turn out? Streaking and Self Care Sundays were easy. Were there days I didn’t feel like running? Sure, but one mile is a small enough distance that no matter how sore I was or how hard it was raining, I knew I could do it. I loved it, but I’ll be incorporating rest days again in May. I like to be able to listen to my legs and take breaks when necessary (which would’ve been nice the day before and after my half).

As for growing my Instagram: I didn’t put as much work into this as I should’ve. I grew my account, but not by as much as I wanted to. Ultimately, the purposes of my @healthydoseoflife Instagram are to inspire people on their health journey, get people to check out the blog, and connect with other health/fitness enthusiasts. I need to prioritize the “connecting with others” aspect moving forward to achieve my goals!

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For May, I’ve set a few more goals and am hoping to challenge myself with a few of them:

  1. Do 3 hours of yoga per week. I feel so great when I do yoga, but I’m quick to cut it out when my schedule gets packed. 3 hours/week feels very attainable to reap the benefits without making it a “chore”. I’d love to do more classes, but to keep my wedding budget on track I’ll be youtubing from home. I love Sarah Beth Yoga and Yoga With Adrienne – let me know if there are others I should check out!
  2. Do ab/core work every day. I usually rely on crossfit and lifting to target my core, butI’m going to spend some time outside of class working on bodyweight movements.
  3. Read 1 book for purpose rather than pleasure. I loved how this goal turned out in March, so I’m excited to revisit it! I’ll probably read “Start Where You Are” but would love to see your recommendations in the comments.
  4. Follow 3 health/fitness publications. I don’t read a lot of news or articles, but I’d like to change that. Starting with a subject I’m passionate about should help this become a habit down the road.

What goals are you chasing this month?

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Thoughts On Crossfit and Working Hard

About a month ago, I posted recaps of the Crossfit Open workouts I participated in. A few things happened during my first open journey – one of them being that I learned a lot about myself. Now that I’ve had some time to digest what I’ve learned, I’m ready to document it and use it moving forward.

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Here’s what happened when I did the Crossfit Open:

  1. I fell more in love with the sport. I don’t have games ambitions (or even regionals ambitions for that matter) – but I do have more goals I want to explore when it comes to Crossfit. I’ve stopped viewing it as just my morning sweat session – I’d like it to be more than that, and I think it is now. It’s not just a workout: it’s a sport; where I will be competing with myself every time I do it.
  2. I learned the difference between doing something just to get it over with, and doing something that I’m trying my best at and pushing myself through. I think this hit me truly in 17.4 – I knew I could do each move, but that the workout would require an ambitious mindset for me to perform well. I pushed through large sets of wall ball shots and didn’t give up on the rower (a large mental task in itself). I knew I had pushed my limits when the workout was over and I couldn’t get off the floor/almost threw up. This gave me some perspective – am I really pushing myself hard enough throughout the week? I know I shouldn’t always go 110% or be on the verge of throwing up every day (I need at least a little bit of recovery to be at my best) but was I ever pushing as hard as I should? Since then, I know I’ve improved my mental toughness and stamina. I push beyond what’s comfortable in a workout, even if the moves aren’t my strengths. I perform more reps per set and I move at a faster pace. I go all-out for at least 2 workouts per week. It’s that push that will make me better.
  3. I nailed a move I’d been struggling with previously: the bar muscle-up! Call it open magic (even though it didn’t happen during a workout) or call it focus. Either way, I’m pleased to have accomplished it, and it’s made me less scared of my weaknesses.

What does hard work mean to you in a workout?

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Talking Goals with the Fiance: Grit

Hey, y’all! Christine has FINALLY asked me to make my first celebrity contribution to A Healthy Dose Of Life. My topic of choice for today’s blog post is Grit. What exactly is grit and how do you know if you are a gritty individual? How can you apply grit to all of your goals and ambition? That’s what I’m here to help you find out!

Let me start by saying: while Christine and I both share a passion for healthy fitness and nutrition, we go about achieving our goals in very different ways. We also have very different goals. Which brings me to my first point: never compare your goals, desires and results to someone else’s. As human beings we’re all similar in the fundamental fact that we’re all different people. Confusing? Possibly. However, understanding that you are a unique person can help you determine what the best approach and execution method is for achieving goals, in fitness and in life.

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Back to grit. Grit is such a great word. My high level of grittiness is an aspect that is a true part of my personality. It’s my badge of honor. Trust me when I say that you want to be as gritty a person as possible because you can’t spell “Integrity” without the aforementioned “Grit”.

I get my definition of grit from Angela Duckworth; a psychologist and professor at the University of Pennsylvania. She wrote an excellent book (which has subsequently become one of my staples), titled, simply, “Grit”. Grit, as defined by Angela, is the tendency to sustain interest in and effort toward very long-term goals. As a result of Angela’s definition, it is my belief that whether you have long-term goals or short-term goals, in fitness, health, or in life, it is important to have a certain level of grit in your repertoire if you want to be consistently successful.

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A few months ago I went to visit Angela’s website to do additional research and I stumbled upon her test. The “Grit Scale” (her words) is a ten question test that upon completion gives you a number that compares your grittiness to all others that have participated. Simply knowing the number that you receive – I scored 4.8 (out of 5), which is higher than 99% of American adults in a recent study – is certainly not going to help you fully understand what grit is and how you can apply it to your goals. However, it is a great starting point because answering the ten questions on the test will make you think about yourself and how you approach all different types of situations. Maybe more importantly, the test will also make you think about you react in all different types of situations.

Take a minute right now and think about a time in your life where you were challenged but ultimately found a way to succeed. If you can give an example to that scenario then you can probably also think of a time where you really wanted something great, whatever it was, but ultimately gave up at some point before accomplishing the goal.

What was different about your approach to your success versus your failure? What was different about your reaction towards your success versus your failure? Answering the questions related to approach and reaction can help us begin to better understand exactly how our mind works in given situations and how the answers can be applied to your grittiness.

When I was twelve years old I ran into one of my first memorable crossroads. I had played baseball since I was five and I was entering my final season of Little League. I loved baseball and I wanted badly to succeed at a more dominant level — something I hadn’t been able to consistently do in the past.

At that time I was one of the shortest kids I knew, standing a towering 5’0” if I was lucky. This had bothered me in the past as I would get bullied and teased by my classmates. It was also apparent that not everyone believed I could be successful in sports because of my height.

Luckily, I had a strong support system back home. My parents taught me that having a strong work ethic mattered more to my ultimate success than my perceived (and actual) height. That year I personally decided not to let my lack of height have a negative impact on me. I also took it upon myself to use my developing work ethic and do some research into fitness for the first time while also deciding to actually listen to the advice my Dad had when it came to hitting.

In the cold of Syracuse’s winter when most people are content with cozying up on the couch I made two key decisions that positively altered my performance and my confidence as a baseball player.

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The first move I made was to incorporate push-ups, sit-ups and bicep curls into my nightly TV routine. It’s crazy for me to think had I grown up in 2017 and without commercials that I might not have gotten the idea to be productive during that time. But in 2000-01 during every commercial break, there I was: working through one of the variations and building my first fitness foundation.

The second move I made was to commit to hitting off the tee in my parent’s garage every single night. Not only did I commit to hitting off a tee (such an easy thing to do you can pay “tee-ball” when you are as young as five), I was also committing myself to doing drills off the tee and tuning my mechanics like I never had before. One drill, in particular, holding my right hand on my left wrist and pushing my dominant arm through my swing zone, helped my with my bat speed and was probably the single most important drill that I ever learned.

When winter finally broke and the season began I got off to a notoriously slow start that season, but eventually the preparation I had obtained from my daily grit all off-season finally paid off. I hit my first home run in May and I never looked back. I ended up leading my league in home runs that season even though I was easily one of the shortest kids on the field. My newfound fitness strength and my vastly improved bat speed contributed to me crushing everything that came my way. More importantly, I was helping my team win and we began the season 16-0 before losing in the Tournament of Champions (a game in which I also homered on the very first pitch).

To some people, this example of grit may seem silly because it happened so long ago. But I don’t see it that way. I see it as the example that laid the foundation for all my future and continued successes.I gained a great deal of confidence because my preparation and grit allowed me to reach new heights. Long before I knew about Grit I had proved to myself the value of commitment when working towards a goal.

Successful people set long-term goals, and they know that these aims will only be achieved through short-term habits that need to be observed and maintained every day. I wanted to be a superstar (long-term goal) so I committed two hours every day in the off-season to fitness and hitting (short-term habits).

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Now take a minute again to think about yourself. How do you approach situations and how do you react to them. Does your approach and reaction allow you to stay gritty and on track, or do you find yourself giving up and quitting too easily and too often? If your approach is working then that is great; stay on track but continue to challenge yourself! If your approach is not working then you might want to do some homework on yourself so you can stop wasting your time and ultimately find results in the successes you aspire to achieve.
As I leave you I think it is important to note that not everyone has to be a 4.8 on the “Grit Scale” to incorporate gritty habits into their lifestyle. My definition of grit is encompasses a lot of Angela’s findings; but I think the key aspects to grit are patience, discipline, commitment, and sometimes even sacrifice. It’s also important to remember that healthy habits shouldn’t be something you do; they should be something you are. Whether you are trying to apply grit to your life goals or your fitness goals take the time to learn about your approach and your reaction to situations. What you learn about yourself will help you unlock what makes you a gritty person and can help you define your definition of grit.

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March Goals Update + April Goals

Last month I set some ambitious goals (read about them here) and now it’s time to check in on that progress while outlining my April goals.

March Goals:

  1. Grow my @healthydoseoflife Instagram to 450 followers. Check! I’ve been hovering just over the 450 mark. A more consistent posting schedule, following and commenting on other profiles, and some professional photos were a big help.
  2. Break my record for “most viewed post” on the blog. No dice. I fell out of rhythm with posting. I’m still trying to strike a better balance among my priorities, so this goal will likely pop up again later on when I have a better plan in place.
  3. Run 75 miles. This goal I actually decided to ditch about two weeks into the month because I realized it was a bad goal. I usually set mileage goals when I’m training for a race or looking to get outside more. Since I hadn’t registered for any races and the weather was not great, neither of these applied. I also found it counterintuitive to my larger priority of performing well in the open. This is another goal that I will likely mix into another month (maybe one where the sun shines?).
  4. Perform a muscle up. Check! This was without a doubt one of the most exciting moments of my life so far (below getting engaged, above completing a marathon). Now I work on them a few days a week after class so I can get more consistent. Once I’m more comfortable with the movement, I’ll try my hand at ring muscle ups.
  5. Read 1 book for purpose rather than pleasure. Check! I absolutely loved The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin. I’ve taken a lot of her advice to heart and intend on starting my own happiness project! As far as books go, I’m back to reading for pleasure for now, but will be dabbling in reading for purpose more often.

April Goals

April Goals:

  1. Go Streaking: A run streak, that is! I’m going to run outside every day in April (minimum 1 mile) since the open is over and the weather’s getting warmer. I’m also doing a half marathon later this month. It’s nice to mix it up and prioritize running every once in awhile!
  2. Grow my @healthydoseoflife Instagram to 550 followers. Same plan as before, just need to keep it up!
  3. Self Care Sundays. This one is more of a resolution than a goal. I intend on making self-care Sundays a regular habit (right now I’m a bit sporadic with them). Reading, running for enjoyment, Epsom salt baths, foam rolling, yoga, and relaxing with a cup of herbal tea are all going to be part of my Sundays. I push my body and mind pretty hard throughout the week and should give myself more time to recharge.

I’m keeping it pretty light this month since it’s my birthday month and a lot of my focus will be on fun + enjoyment, but I’m excited for new challenges and habits!

What goals are you working toward?

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Friday Faves #2

Happy Friday! Here are some of my favorite things from this week:FridayFaves (1)

  1. Quote: “This has the meaning I have given it”. This sounds like it would make a great mantra when you’re feeling dragged down.
  2. Moment: Accomplishing my first ever muscle-up! A week and a half too late for 17.2, but right in line with my March goals. Checking this off as complete!
  3. Recipe: These protein pancakes. Here’s what they looked like pre-cooked.

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What are your highlights this week?